Take two

Take two

Postby Io Ono » Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:26 am

The air was... different... here.

Sure, it was a city, and most, what with the various industries, and workings, and livings, would probably be about the same, however, it wasn’t her city. She stood there in the middle of a cobbled street, staring up at nothing for the better part of fifteen minutes, oblivious to the muttering of annoyance to those around her, seeking unobstructed passage up and down the path. A few merchants, and maids and such nearby glanced in the same general direction, mainly to assure themselves of their own sanity, and upon confirmation, chalked it up to another unnecessary oddity.

When it was that she returned to the shared reality of those around her, she took the time to take a purposeful, yet unhelpful look first to her left, and then her right, her unpatched, left jade eye futilely looking for a landmark she wouldn’t have recognized anyway. At the very least, she could tell she was facing south.

After another few minutes of just...occupying space, she went where her legs carried her. South. To nowhere in particular. She had the gait of one trained in something artistic, her steps carrying the fluidity of not quite a dancer, but perhaps an apprentice. She hadn’t shoes, but thick, midnight blue stirrup socks that reached to just past her knees. From her purposeless pace, if not before, it was fairly clear to any of the townsfolk not too busy to care that she wasn’t a local soul, and, at least, for the moment, her mannerisms, and her appearance kept them at bay. Her skin held very little color, akin to perhaps someone from the very far north, or, someone who lived underground and saw more of the moon than the sun. Her dress, if one could call it that, adequately fit her narrow, short frame, if slightly on the loose side, as if she had a little room to grow. It was midnight blue as well, with charcoal seams and trim. The main lapels overlapped each other, and spiraled into two panels, front and back, cut wide, and showing perhaps a mite too much leg for a girl of her apparent age, and for what the weather could potentially be. For the most part, it had no back, being secured around her neck, and at least reasonably high on her waist, exposing a lifetime of cane scars along the length of her back and across her shoulders. The left side of her neck prominently displayed the brand of one in the ‘employ’ of another, and the inside of her left wrist held another, more discreet tale. Her right arm was covered in a very loose sleeve that drooped slightly past her waist, though her shoulder remained exposed, and her only two accessories were a simple leather cord for a belt, on which was attached a small fist sized pouch, which notably squirmed from time to time, as well as a ragged black ribbon used to hold her messy, blushy blonde hair in place.

She wasn’t sore on the eyes, though, she definitely had the appearance of one who didn’t spend much time indoors, with amenities. The eyepatch over her right eye may have seemed strange, but, between fights, and apprenticeships, and general life, it probably wouldn’t have been too uncommon. As she plodded about, she stared at everyone and everything that crossed her field of view; people, who seemed none too pleased, the architecture, who seemed to mind a bit less, the wares of the merchants, whose owners seemed to mind and not at the same time.

It was a rumble of her stomach that brought purpose to her mind once more, and she looked down at it, as if she expected it to look back.

Her path through town was becoming incredibly disjointed by now, her having taken various side streets and alleys, and such for no particular reason. A shopkeep, a well fed woman, sweeping the steps in front of the door, worked up enough courage, seeing the odd girl, and cleared her throat loudly. She came to a halt, and slowly, almost ghoulishly turned her gaze to the woman.

“Er...are you lost, lass?” Her voice was the pretense of courage. Something about the girl, moreso than how she acted was just...off. Her eye was fixated, like she could see beyond.

“I’m looking for...” Her voice was flat, completely without intonation, yet, soft, feminine. It was probably the only thing about her that could betray her age. In her pause, she remembered, she hadn’t a good answer.
“...Somewhere...to go...”

For a moment, both could do nothing but stare blankly at each other. The girl couldn’t give a better answer, not for any attempt at deceit, but because she genuinely didn’t know, and naturally, the woman couldn’t do anything with ‘somewhere’. After all, ‘somewhere’ could easily be anywhere, and if she wanted to go anywhere, all she had to do was walk until she stopped.

Perhaps a better question. “Are you looking for someone?” She set the broom aside and rested her hands on her hips.

“My father...I think...” even despite her even tone, she didn’t sound too sure.

The woman was planning on asking more questions, expecting more odd answers, she thought the better of it. “Try the constables, lass. I’m sure someone can help.” And she meant it, in more than one way.

“Which way?” Still, the girl’s expression remained unchanging, almost as if she didn’t care if she got a proper answer or not. The woman pointed, back the way she had come, and the girl turned to follow. Though she was hoping to avoid any more large streets, she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, and stopped before stepping out once more, choosing, at least for the moment to remain in the shadows of the alley.

She didn’t stay long, however, as another rumble urged her on.

“Guuu...” That was the only protest she could offer her empty belly, pathetic as it was.

She strolled her way back to the produce cart she’d passed just a bit earlier, her eye fixated on a pyramid of golden red apples. They were perfectly round and fresh, and shiny enough in the sun to almost see herself staring back. The merchant took a moment, a very brief moment to try to sell his wares before getting an eyeful of her appearance, and attempting to shoo what was clearly just another urchin away. He was loud enough to attract the attention of the other merchants, one of whom sent for a guard to quell the stirring ruckus before it became so. She hadn’t heard a single word. She wasn’t deaf, which he queried no less that four times, and quite rapidly, but had a fairly singular sense of focus most of the time. Under a concoction of disgust, protest, and appall, she snatched the apple on the zenith of the pile, and... took a bite. Of course, no payment had exchanged hands, which was the source of the trouble, and she continued to eat as he screamed in her face, his becoming more red with each passing moment. It didn’t help that she had nothing to say, but just stared him eye to eye, his full of fire, and hers full of a void of nothing, like one who’d probably seen a little too much for a lifetime. Though his rage subsided just a bit at that, naturally moreso due to an unnerving feeling, than satisfaction, his tirade would continue, if just a bit quieter.

The final straw would come a moment later, when she was done. Again, without a word, she slipped the core into the pouch, and turned to leave, which the merchant wasn’t to abide. He grabbed her exposed wrist, with full intention of hauling her to the nearest guard, and made it all of half a step before she herself whipped around, and pressed her sleeved hand over his in a gentle yet graceful motion. Just as swiftly, he pulled his hand back, his knuckles to his lips, his face deepening into a deep crimson.

It was about this time, the guard was rounding the corner, and seeing him in his periphery, the offended merchant strode over to him, pointing and yelling curses. This lasted all of a minute, before, unexpectedly, he broke into a fit of sniggles, like a happy drunk hearing a lousy pun, and collapsed into the arms of the guard.

The large gentleman seemed to gain enough of an understanding that something was amiss, although, the particulars didn’t necessarily reconcile, and after lowering the shopkeep to the ground as inoffensively as he could, he strode quickly, and purposefully toward the girl, whom at this point had no issues with personal space. As he approached, a hand rested on his sword, a fact not lost on her, but her eye was fixated on his.

“Who are you? What’s going on here?” He didn’t seem angry, not as much as he should for someone collapsing in plain daylight, after accusing someone of stealing from and attacking them. Still, he grabbed her by the shoulder, just to ensure she wasn’t going to run, or that if she had any other tricks, he’d be properly prepared.

“I was hungry...so I ate...” Considering the situation, she thought that was obvious, but, at the same time, she didn’t quite understand the full gravity of her position in all this either. Notably, she skipped the first question as well.

“Uh huh, and him?” He motioned to the gentleman lying face down in the street. His voice was growing more agitated. He was hoping for a reasonably quiet day, and this was an unnecessary hassle. The girl leaned to the side to get a better view, before turning her gaze back to the guard.

“He grabbed me, so...I poked him with this.” From her sleeve, she produced a long needle, about the length of her hand, and the guard quickly swatted it from hers to the ground. Her eyes watched it fall, and hovered there. The guard took a giant step back, and drew his weapon, pointing it toward her menacingly.


(OOC: Hello all, I’m Shiori, nice to meet everyone ^.^/, I think I may have gone a little too far, save me. @.@)
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:06 am

There were always two sounds when a sword came free.

First, the noise of metal brushing along cured leather, sliding free like a song. Such a sound rang in the back of the teeth, smelled like metal in the pits of the nostrils. Myrken Wood's commoners knew that sound, which is why the second sound sprang to life and spread like a wild fire in the woods.

Gasps. Surprise. Commotion.

The sparks of that commotion carried through the Bazaar, through the cobbled streets, the winding avenues, the tosspot alleys—

"A guard drew his sword!"

"Are you sure he wasn't just cleaning it?"

"I betch'a someone stole somepin."

"Was it Militia steel, or royal steel?"

"Who knows, who knows, but there was a stranger girl at the tip, peculiar thing—"


Which is what Corm McKinnon told Gloria Wynsee while she sat restlessly at a bureau, fingering old parchment while he gnawed a spot of hard bread and mint jelly he'd been acquiring from the Bazaar when it'd all happened. "Could be your fae," he said, with a dollop of jam on his lip, and not a spot of urgency to him. Gloria's skirts snapped like woolen banners as she looked at him, stone-eyed, her dry tongue clamped between two rows of porous teeth. Her eyebrows darted high, as if to ask, You didn't make sure? before she rushed out of the Inquisitory, hopping on one foot to be sure Liam hadn't lost his spot in the cuff of her boot.

Her lone hand slapped at her chest, finding sinew, finding a rusted nail. She blew out a breath of relief. Good. It was hers; it was there.

Seismic in nature, crowds rippled apart, spread out and away, but never ceased to frame the source of commotion. Finding the source of discord wasn't hard — follow the words, follow the gasps. Gloria shouldered herself to the outskirts of the circled crowd, taking up far more space than any woman rightfully should: both of her hard, too-broad shoulders nudged this way and that, working out a space among those gathered for her barrel-shaped frame.

She saw the sword, saw the Guard, who held his blade like an accusatory governess, staring down its gutter while he said, "Dabbling in poisonry is a punishable offense, sera. And poisons are thiefwork, neither of which we take to kindly here."

In disgust, he reached out a boot-tip, tried to scrape the needle away from the lithe, odd woman before him.

It tink-tink-tinked across the cobbles and stopped just underneath the hem of Gloria Wynsee's dull dress.

Meanwhile, the guard readjusted his grip.

"Down with you," he snapped. "On your knees."
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:37 am

“Euhhh...” Was all her throat could muster, while her mind searched for an alternative to the stern request. Granted, she didn’t quite understand the growing, howling audience, and it definitely didn’t help that each voice jockeyed for position to be heard, the chorus rising to a thunderclap and muddling her thoughts.

“It’s not poison, it’s...One Minute Madness.” Her tone, or lack thereof didn’t seem to indicate that she figured he would assume a difference between a proper poison and the common street concoction of the seedy districts in the east. Besides, she’d expected the offended to rise at any moment anyway, something which was taking slightly longer than usual for a man of average measure. Of course, she hadn’t exactly studied the effects scientifically, aside from how to make it (Golden Nugget Mushrooms and spider venom), and how long the effects lasted. It tended to work individually, but typically took effect within a minute, and incapacitated for about a minute. Some broke into fits of laughter, others confusion, lust, some just collapsed without an outburst of any kind. She’d personally seen rage once, which was...unfortunate, as the man became beastly and destroyed much, including burning down his home after flinging a lit log into a pile of leaves just outside his window. It was a tool typically was in the employ of burglars, and for that, she had no defense other than, aside the current offense, she wasn’t a burglar by trade. In her mind, there was a distinction, sure, she knew what it was after all, but she wasn’t really aware that it’s knowledge hadn’t spread farther than the slums she hailed from. His unimpressed look confirmed the lack of distinction.

“I have more, would you like some?” By now, she was either the dumbest criminal about, or was up to something, and whereas neither were true, aside from the fact that she was indeed technically a criminal, she was neither dumb, Nor was she brewing plots, aside from avoiding confrontations as such.

“Knees...Now! No more words!” His agitation grew with her hesitation. She may not have understood the true measure of the commotion, but the result would be clear. Arrest, extradition, execution. Or worse, pressed back into service with another brand, and potentially another, less savory, set of duties.

Fleet feet were of no use, the ring of bodies and eyes saw to that. Someone would have assuredly pounced upon her, and she wasn’t of enough mass to push anyone aside, let alone a street full. Even if she could run, she had no real knowledge of this place, aside from the fact that apples were of grave concern, and that perhaps they didn’t know of the ‘One Minute Madness’. The layout was a labyrinth, which while common for townships of this size, was one currently unfamiliar. Invariably, any direction would have produced similar results, or worse if you included pointy objects. Strength would have been of no use either, numbers and all. Pouncing. Even if she could have found some manner of incapacitating the swordsman, while remaining unscathed, undoubtedly a hail of rocks would have found their mark.

Her mind, still jumbled, raced to nowhere productive. Her face remained still, lifeless. Plans fell to the wayside and were supplanted by wonder. ‘What was farther west?’ ‘What if she turned north instead of south?’ ‘That sword is fairly dull.’ ‘Another apple is in reach, but taking them is punishable.’

Having no sensible options, she finally sank to her knees and rested her weight on her heels. The paving stones were rough, jagged, even through the thin padding of her socks. She fidgeted uncomfortably, trying to find a smooth patch, unsuccessfully.

As she awaited punishment, which she expected to be immediate, her normally blank look seemed to sink even farther into the void. She’d forgotten something, in just this moment. She’d become distracted by her rumbling stomach, and the catastrophic situation she’d found herself in, however, timing aside, it was worth an attempt.

Blinking once, twice, she lifted a more curious gaze to his. He’d barely toed a step toward what he expected to be a compliant, if not unpredictable child, and in her flattened whisper, hardly loud enough to be heard above the chorus she queried.

“Are you... my father? You look like him.” It was about the oddest thing to say, considering the circumstances, and for all the oddity of the question, the statement was an obvious lie. Obvious, yet without purpose or intent. In truth, in her mind, it was a perfectly honest question, buttressed by the curious sparkle in her otherwise ghoulish stare. She’d never met her father, and had no knowledge of his existence, nor his looks, aside from some manner of expected common resemblance. Frankly, she had no real evidence that he was even alive, let alone here in this town, in front of her, preparing to arrest her, but not asking was of no use either. Besides, he was a guard, and that’s who she was told to ask, even if not in the intended manner. Unfortunately, they bore no resemblance, a fact lost on her, since she hadn’t seen a mirror in years.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:28 am

Here was a probable outcome:

The guard would arrest her. Here, in Myrken Wood's ill-equipped gaol, she would earn a single meal of porridge, wait until the Inquisitory spoke to her, be found one of two things — criminal or uninteresting — and let free for what, in comparison to a history of violence and oddities, would amount to but a few shillings' fine and an apology.

Here was a probable outcome:

The guard would think her some kind of threat. He would, with all the fluttering tension of an unsure fowl, lunge forward and jab at her, open her up, wait until the Inquisitory spoke to him, be found one of two things — deniable or possessed — and let free for what, in comparison to a history of madness and peculiarity, would amount to a kneejerk reaction to a perceived threat.

But here was the improbable outcome:

Are you... my father? You look like him.

Lingering on the outskirts of the circle, with her forefinger tugging thoughtfully on the necktie of her bonnet, Gloria did not look away. Because the guard did not look away. Because when the girl crouched to her knees and did as she was asked, she seemed small, curious, insect-like: they'd either swat her away, or pull her her arms and legs off one by one just for their amusement. She wouldn't blame the guard; she wouldn't blame anyone.

But that question made her stomach and bowels nearly drop right out of her, because strangeness often wore a youthful face and bore voids in its eyes.

Gloria's mouth went dry. Her nostrils flared. And a moment later, with black sweat pooling in the pits of her dress, she was suddenly standing beside the kneeling girl, having barely even remembered moving. She reached down, with a gesture of counterfeit familiarity, and tried to grab the woman up, up to her feet. "If you wanted to amuse yourself, Marion, this is hardly the way to do it. Did half your brain fall out with your eye? What are — are you doing, taking the piss like this on—" It ought to sound legitimate "—on your morning interval."

The hefty young woman, with a face as dark as burnt oak and a half-formed lump where her left arm should have been, stared down into the stranger's face, and then turned her cheek toward the guard.

"She's — she's one of Menna Tolleson's consultants. She's mine," Gloria said, her tongue loose. "She's with me."
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:50 pm

Well, in her mind, that escalated, quickly. She hadn’t much of an idea what was happening, but so far it seemed that her arrest was at the least stayed, if not vacated. Still, being hauled back to her feet rather unceremoniously was a bit of a shock, and it was all she could do to deny instinct and repeat her previous transgression. She wasn’t fond of surprises, as prudence would demand.

She found it a little disconcerting, being claimed by someone so forcefully, but considering the spectators seemed to lose a little interest at the diminishing prospect of violence, she thought it better not to press the matter further. After all, anywhere was probably better than being surrounded by cold iron bars, and she could think of few better things to do at the present than be taken in by someone not having a sharp object aimed in her direction. So, she belonged to this new woman, apparently. Aside from a voice, she had no idea who it was she now belonged to, which wouldn’t have been a first, but this was a dangerous time for her, and dangerous times required, at the very least, a rudimentary investigation.

She craned her neck awkwardly up toward the taller woman, akin to turkeys in rain, unblinkingly taking in her features studiously for a few seconds. Perhaps not the ideal rescuer, but at the moment, it wasn’t just the smart money, it was the only. Inwardly, though her outward posture remained unchanged, loose, she allowed herself to relax, something that only the hand on her shoulder would have noticed. The woman was warm, at least moreso than herself at the moment, something she found extremely comforting for a reason she couldn’t resolve. Something about this woman was trustworthy, even if the lack of real familiarity remained suspicious.

“Euhhh...” it was a catch all expression of hers, as she wasn’t one for many words, but this time it was of approval. She lowered her gaze back to the guard, who seemed to relax, ever so slightly, either from the shame of drawing on someone who at least appeared to not have the skill to defend, nor retaliate, or, because the name Tolleson carried significance. She nodded twice, subtly, but as convincingly as she could, hoping her suspicions were correct.

By now, the merchant had indeed begun to stir, though he hadn’t found his legs, and the drunken stagger he had just before his nap, returned. Perhaps next time, less of a dose. Of course, it would be preferable if there was no next time, but, habits weren’t easy to break, and... people... at least ones that she wasn’t supposed to normally interact with were not part of her skill set. She wanted another apple, but perhaps they weren’t worth the cost. Still...one remained within reach.

Through the crevices of flesh, she could see him rise, teeter, and plop back down heavily, like a new calf. Wordlessly, she pointed in his direction, her sleeve covering all but her petite hand, hoping anyone would notice and he could share in the attention.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Sun Mar 22, 2020 3:28 am

The guard shared a glance back and forth between the two. Father he wasn't, and perhaps barely even old enough to be man, but when his sword was down, his youth was on full display: he swiped at a blemished upper lip, then slid his sword away and said, "I'm still apt to report it, Inquisitory business or not. You pay the man for his fruits around here, sera. Business is business, and sweat deserves coin. No excuses."

And the guard, he turned, began attending to the stumbling, half-conscious man, and the crowd began to disperse, filtering into the alleys and avenues like water through fingertips.

On the girl's shoulder, Gloria's hand weighed a thousand stone. Everything about her was large: the swelling and falling of her belly and chest with her breath, the wide, dull sheen of her eyes, the stubby fingers — four on the hand that remained, not five — better suited for fists than for delicacy. A dollop of perspiration the color of tar dangled from the tip of her hawkish nose, never falling. Close to her own lapel, close to the girl, she said, "Ever since the Lady Marshal took her leave, what parts of the Guard remain are more mercenary than organized. I imagine he's just as — as relieved as you are that there wasn't any blood."

Her hand fell away. With a twist of thumb and forefinger, she unclasped her cloak, an earthen thing riddled with moth-holes and rejuvenated with patches and tight, orderly stitches. She offered it, her gaze lingering just a second too long on the ridges and scars creased into the woman's exposed flesh.

She swallowed. The lump in her throat lifted, fell, lifted—

"I — I was only sporting. You aren't mine. But for the time being, it's better to be paired."

She jutted out her doorknob elbow, offering the hook of her arm. Like the eye of a needle awaiting its thread.

"The least you can expect to do is — is tell me what One Minute Madness is. And maybe a name, if it suits you."
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:15 am

After collecting her tool, and slipping it back into its proper hem, she, with reservation, took the offered cloak, the seams wrapping around the entirety of her frame, then the arm. She felt like a ghost from the harvest festival, seeing all but her hand disappear beneath the cloth.

For a moment, she hesitated once more, not because she had any intent on hiding the answer to either query, she owed her rescuer that, but, because she couldn’t decide which was the more important. Being accused, rightly so, of being a poisoner, would make one hesitate to describe that which they were accused of, and there was no guarantee that this was no test, but she never had need of deceit, and as such, she had little skill in it. As for her name, she didn’t expect it to be known but to a select few, and she had doubts that either those few, or whispers of her moniker had yet made their way here. She’d no claim to any sort of notoriety, or at least she would expect, she was quite meticulous when it came to that, and her general status made names mostly just a tool for summoning. As for her tools...

“A brew of mushrooms... euhhh...” For a moment she struggled to remember the exact name. They had numerous nicknames in the alleys, but, judging by the question, none of those would’ve helped, currently.

“Gold...gol... oh, Golden Nugget Mushrooms, they grow in the shadow of the mountains, east. And the fresh prey of spiders, before they have the chance to feed.” Her voice was still flat, matter of fact. Her attention wavered, back to the golden pile. In truth, it was only the second time she’d tasted apple, the first being five days prior, in an orchard south of Wrexham, near the Albourne. The owner of that orchard didn’t seem to mind her partaking of his honest work so much, as it was nightfall, and there was no audience at the time. She’d have had more, but the distant baying of hounds kept her on the move. She wanted another, and at the moment, it didn’t seem like the proprietor was in much of a position to protest this time. Still, she wasn’t interested in causing yet another bit of ruckus, so, defeated, she turned her attention elsewhere.

“Seamstresses use the venom...to separate person from possession.” She was a sheltered child, in an inverted way. There were many things she was unaware of, like the need for coin to exchange for goods, or that people didn’t appreciate cold stares, or why the young boys whistled at the young girls, or why young girls blushed at whistles. She didn’t understand how drinking offcolored water lead to singing, or fights. When it came to people, the shorter list by far was what she did understand. To her, and a select population, mainly men with a thirst, men who sought money to quench that thirst, women who either had their homes torn asunder by that thirst or came to accept it, women who provided services, and victims of those who sought an “honest” exchange...really anyone from Wrexham, Seamstress would have two connotations, the first being an honest trade, and the other, not so much. Both used needles, sure, but vastly different types, most of the time, and for vastly different purposes...most of the time. Like other particulars, it didn’t occur to her the confusion it may cause, nor did the lack of further qualification of her own status. She wasn’t part of that world, not directly, but the value of an effective tool could not be overlooked, or overstated.

“I am called Io, when I am called.” It was an odd way of putting it, though accurate for her history. She had two names, but it was rare for her to hear the other, and at the moment, she couldn’t remember it.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:23 am

"Io."

It was important, saying the name. Letting the sounds alight, but a flash, across the tongue. Repeat it, get it right.

Her mouth dared a smile. One corner lifted. Then, encouraged by mischief, the other did too.

"I suppose Marion is neither truth nor lie, then. I could have picked worse, couldn't I?"

She strode forward, taller than most women they passed, impossible to lose between the mountains of her shoulders and the stark, brown depths of her flesh. Myrkentown had, for the most part, shaken winter. The streets swarmed with people who seemed happy enough to turn their faces to the daylight, and the occasional brave soul bared his or her sleeveless arms as if to beg the heat to hit them first. If its slate-and-thatch roofs had weathered one storm, they'd weathered a thousand.

But when Io mentioned seamstresses, Gloria stopped dead in her tracks, and if the smaller woman was close enough, she might have entirely collided with her. When she turned back, Io's escort's face was wildly bright and suddenly gleaming, almost explosive. "You're a seamstress, too? I am, or—" Her lone hand fluttered at the air, catching an errant butterfly of words, "—or I was. Would you believe it? Look. See?" Gloria splayed her fingers, shoved her hand outright to Io, and grinned from behind it. The pads of her remaining fingers (the ring-finger was but a crude, blunt stump) wore a rock-hard yellow crust of skin, while her palm was as smooth as a watered stone, where thousands of yards of coarse fabrics had slid through, slid across.

Perhaps she stood there almost too long, expecting some brief admiration. Finally, she pulled back her hand and jabbed a thumb against her chest.

"I'm Gloria." A smile. She'd forgotten her teeth. "Just Gloria."

Overwhelmed with anxious, odd excitement, she couldn't look away from Io's face. Her gaze bore the same intensity of a curious child's, that kind that latched onto a new subject of interest, magnetized itself, and dared the subject to break away first. Which is when the word venom seemed to catch breathlessly up to her, and she asked, almost dully:

"Is it normal for you, taking things from people?"
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:12 am

Io had very little of very much in the world. She’d very little to feel over, a truth her mannerisms probably laid bare. Coin was definitely lacking, evidenced by her appearance and by the layers of dust building over her entirety, as was common sense, the previously scene openly displaying such. But, for all she lacked in the perceived practicalities of common life, her mind tended to flow freely with imagination. There was a trove of worlds in just the last few moments alone to keep her occupied for countless nights of potential, probable inactivity.

“What if her name had been Marion?”
Sure, it sounded less cursed than Io, relatively, however... with such a feminine name, she’d have seen time on the corners for sure. Still, how much worse...
“Marion wouldn’t necessarily be unacceptable, not here anyway. This was a fresh start, right? She could do something, else, right? Anything else?”Stars didn’t change and neither could she, it’s what she’d heard the first time she’d tried, and was reminded of ever since.“She’s a seamstress?”
Granted, she had a wealth of naïveté as well, but she asked questions when she was allowed, which, admittedly, was a rarity, and had at least a rudimentary understanding of the underside of the world. Her mind assembled a line of infinite permutations of gent whom the woman before her would have snagged, and the contents of the conversations that would proceed the deal. Would there even be a need for needles and poisons? What about...this...or that...?
She tried imagining herself as one, a scene which didn’t last nearly as long. She’d no sense of relation, and frankly, just couldn’t comprehend the significance behind...any of it really. Men throwing coin at women for nothing more than what she figured was empty time. Women stealing that time...and the coin. Sometimes, however...she did wonder about the honest ones.

As she hovered along a few steps behind, her pale cheeks began to flush with an interesting shade of green, for just a moment. The rest of her face remained curiously unchanged, her gaze unwavering, unblinking. Questions, so many questions, though, perhaps at a better time.

She came to an unceremonious halt moments before ramming her nose into an outstretched palm, and blinked once, twice. The color, of what there normally was, returned to her face.

“Miss...Gloria...” She’d almost managed the crack of a smile herself, when the name exited her throat. It was the first new name she’d known in years, and it was under a reasonably pleasant circumstance, or at least she could rationalize it that way. That was until...

With the last question, a genuine look of childish confusion washed over her visage. In her mind there were two answers to that question, and she hadn’t the process for two answers to one question.

On one hand, she could honestly answer no. She was used to darkness, and in the eve, the markets were unattended, or at least, in the slums that tended to be the case. Taking from the unattended wasn’t stealing, at least in her warped sense of possession. Stealing oft involved a chase, or shouting, or...guards and a crowd. She’d seen plenty of urchins and cutpurses, both caught and not. In that case, no, the answer was definitely no. She experienced none of that in the eves.

Inversely, however...
Much of her purpose did involve the retrieval of things, things people were usually fond of and attached to, things taken without their consent. She did have consent, however, even if not mutual, and under the guise of ownership and debts, she always figured that she was returning goods to their proper place. It wasn’t taking, nor stealing, just...returning.

Her uncovered hand appeared from beneath the hems of the cloak, and instinctively covered the mark on her neck, her fingertips tracing the contours crudely. Perhaps she hoped that would be answer enough, but that was never how her fortune manifested. A weak “euhhh...” escaped her throat, hardly above a whisper. She had a tale to tell, if it was demanded of her. Before she had the chance to elaborate, however, she found herself interrupted once more by a rumbling belly, and though concealed by a cloak, her eye lowered to acknowledge it.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:41 am

Look, there — a strange hint of green, must have been a clever dash of powder, some additive to make the skin shine. Or was it a reflection from a nearby sign upon the woman's light flesh, or the first hint of spring grass, catching just so the sheen of whiteness? But it spread like a blush, and then it was gone, and Gloria, she could only keep smiling, and then bark out a sharp laugh at the niceties. "Miss. No, no, simply Gloria is fine; I've no title to me, let alone one that ought to — to be changed only by my willingness to take a man's hand like some pair of shackles."

This woman, this Io, seemed to shrink and shrink with every passing moment, whether it was making herself smaller in the shadows of the buildings or nervously rubbing at her neck. Too fast. You ask too fast, Glour'eya. The world refuses to move at such a neck-breaking speed. What response she earned from Io was just that long, unsure moan. Like a child trying to find its words.

An apple. An accusation. A fallen trader. Things taken.

The burble from the belly spoke all it needed to for its host. When Io looked up, she'd find that once-seamstress' hand held out, palm up, fingers splayed, with invitation. This was all so familiar. She wiggled her toes within her boots, as if to remind them they were hers. "People come and go here," she said, a soft ease to her voice, "but everybody needs to eat, and I've some bread and cheese we can shape into some excuse for supper, and you can say one word or — or a thousand, whatever suits you best."

Part of Gloria had been stitched together out of some permanent tension, some expectation that the world would leap onto her, and she'd have to pummel it all off her. So even when she stood still, she danced back and forth on her heels, shifting her weight, filled with potential and energy. Watch her too long, and every motion revealed itself before long: the rocking on the heels, the scraping of too-short nails at her pruny chin, the squinting of eyes whose pupils never grew nor swelled.

Reasonably, as if it was the final straw: "I'll have done my diligence by Sunsleep either way. A good day, all in all. What do you say? Will it be one for you?"
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:55 am

Run... They’re still coming...

Take her hand...she’s different...

No, she isn’t, run, she’s the same as the other...

She can protect you, she and maybe... she has food, what is there to fear?...

Run... she’ll hate you if she finds out...

No she won’t, she’s the same, and better for it...

They'll catch you here...

She’ll protect you, and you’ll...

You reek of despair...everything about you is a curse...

There’s hope here...

You’ll see, they’ll take the rest of the light from you...


Immediate need settled the battle in her mind, and she took the offered hand, sheepishly. She hadn’t seen much in the way of provision when her life was markedly more stable, and the recent upheaval served to only make matters worse. She’d traveled the better part of a month, at no less than a feverish, elusive pace, scavenging on poached hares, whatever greens she could find that were less than fatally poisonous, and the night raids of family gardens along the river. The mountain pass would have been the more prudent route, but was predictable for one with a necessity for haste. Besides, there was little to forage there, and underfed as she was, starvation would have just led to an easy capture.

So, she took the longer route. She could elude the hounds along the river, her advantages were such to outwit their noses. The weather was more favorable, as well. The melt had begun, and the pass, though still traversable, would have been an unfavorable slog, damp, and cold, something she was not currently equipped for.



Her mind, ever working, turned toward the long and short future. Come the end of the thaw, when the pass had finished drying, she would find evidence of their probe. A poster for missing property, an ill eyed familiar face. She would hear their whisperings, a reward for information, a bribe to the ‘mercenary’ guards. Her only advantages were time, anonymity, and potential apathy. They could find other little whispers, after all. The trade for flesh was quite lively, though underground, and mostly taboo for the common folk, little spoken of. They could buy more knowledge, and more contraband. They could perform more experiments. It was all within their reach, so why bother with one little bird who escaped the cage?

It was as the apple. Work for coin. Coin for work. In that world, coin ruled all, and letting go of any of it with no return was a deathly offense. No, they were not likely to forget, or forgive. There would be no hiding, not this close. There would be no running, the net was everywhere, or so she heard. Besides, what kind of farmer simply released a laying goose, just because it escaped its coup? The eggs could be a little too valuable for that. She had one less advantage. There was but one option currently, and it was possibly smiling in front of her. Still... she would remain on guard. Smiles made her wary, as they were often false, with painful and sinister intent.

She took no step forward, and despite her desire to do so, she needed one answer first. She ignored the pleasantries, at least for the moment, and lifted her gaze to the taller woman’s. There was a spark in her eye that hadn’t existed even a minute prior. It wasn’t necessarily hope, but that couldn’t have been ruled out either. Determinism? Curiosity? Something drove her to continue, if only another day.

“Miss Gloria, who is Menna Tolleson?” Her eye searched for everything in that question. Any twitch, any hesitation, any tell of untruth or bluff whatsoever. She wouldn’t have been able to tell the truth of the matter one way or the other, as she’d never heard the name before, and had no proof that the name was even real, aside from the acceptance of one nervous, probably ignorant, beat guard, but what she needed now, even more than food in her starving belly, was trust. She needed to trust the woman before her, she needed to trust who she trusted.

Besides, Menna was a strange name to her, or at least she assumed it as such. She was mostly unfamiliar with titles, other than the ones she was forced to use, and the occasional Ser. The person seemed important, at least enough to save her a trip to the stockade, or the infirmary, and she had the feeling that a meeting was imminent.

She was ready to run again, however, if she needed, even if she wasn’t sure how far she’d get. She was already seen as something of an oddity, a suspicious one at that, and running, alone, was against better advice. Still, she had to know... she did have time on her side, after all, and aside her face, relative anonymity, present company excluded.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Wed Mar 25, 2020 4:31 pm

A hand was a hand, but Gloria Wynsee's was warm, like somewhere beneath her brown skin, the Glass Sun itself had affixed itself to her being and burned like some wild, scalding beacon. Or perhaps it was terrible fever, and that gave credence to the preposterous amount of black sweat darkening the woman's collar and bonnet-strings. But it was gentle, too, and willing to answer the touch with a grip. A welcoming.

"Menna Tolleson—"

Tole-lee-sin, spoken piece by piece, on a reverent tongue. The word caught itself on her lips, and betrayed them with a faint smile. Her simple mood faded. She stared off at nothing beyond Io's shoulder, lips faintly parted as...

You know how to answer that, Glour'eya.

"She's—" she cleared her throat, "—the High Inquisitor. Mind you, it sounds militaristic, but we're far more noise than — than teeth about these parts. She makes the most fantastic pies, and believes in fairness and in her friends more than her own heartbeat. She's chosen to believe in me more times than she ever should." In Io's eyes and face, a faint shift, something new, like a tiny ember being fanned to life. When she peered into Gloria's dull and blurry eyes, the hefty girl met it, stood solid, despite the warmth growing like fire in her ears. "She does good work, and so will I. Hers is a belief worth paying forward."

And it was always, always easier to give with a knife stuffed in her boot.

Gloria's fist gave a gentle squeeze. She started off with Io in tow, her low-hanging skirt splashing sidewinder ripples in muddy pools. She stepped on the flattest cobbles, flashed the occasional smile toward familiar figures. When ribbons of Sunlight broke through the skyline, she preferred them, walking along paths of light and warmth.

Finally, they arrived at a too-thin building crushed between two other buildings upon a street that might as well have been a serpent's spine. At four stories, even Gloria needed to crane her neck up to see the eyes of its misty windows. A few panels of wood peeled away from the building, blown free by recent winds, and she clicked her tongue in disdain — "I'll nail it myself if I have to," she muttered — before she motioned to building's tired stoop. She turned, tugged up her hems, and sat upon it, patting a space beside her for Io to do the same. "I could tell you all day about Genevieve Tolleson, but it's far too unfair of me to usurp your precious time.

"How about this, Io," she said, patting her hip-satchel. "I prepare our feast, and you tell me anything you think I should know. Anything at all."
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:08 am

You can feel it, can’t you...

There’s nothing to feel...

You should run, while you can...

There’s no need, it’s safe...

It’s a trap...you know this, too...


Io preferred to sit, as a cat, on her haunches from where she stood in the street. Odd though they were, every movement was instinctual, yet purposeful and rehearsed, practiced. Her motions never seemed wasted or excessive. Again, as before she stared upwards, lost in her own thoughts, her eyes fixed on the upper levels of the building. She studied the uneven surface of the walls, the placements and shapes of the windows, the line of the roof.

Does this remind you of somewhere...?

It’s not the same...

Oh? You know what they’ll do in there...

There’s no proof...

If you go inside, you’ll never leave...Run, run while you can...


Every fiber under her skin was tensed, ready to skitter off to some darkened corner, but, she remained put. Every instinct, or at least half of them, were telling her to hide, but she remained put. Her memories were flooding every cranny of her mind, trying to convince her that this was going to end the same, but she remained put. She wanted to trust again, needed it, like the demons in the slums of Wrexham. Of course, the prospect of a feast could not be ignored either. She’d never actually seen one, at least not up close, and the idea that she could participate was just the right hook. She’d sort the danger later, if she had to.

You should run...

It’ll be ok this time...

You should run...

The only thing to fear is here...

.................RUN!!!!!.....

Shhhhhhh.....calm yourself...

...run...


Despite evidence to the contrary, something was off. Io was an irregular child, sure, one who had lived an irregular life, and thus had earned her paranoia. It tingled like an unreachable itch. Like a perpetually infested sore, ever oozing... It radiated at times, almost the point of stinking, like a far off death. This was one of those times. Her mind, as long as she could recount was as such, teetering on either side of the line of genuine contentment, and unreasonable despair. She’d a tale to tell, but she had to have assurances first.

“Is she...inside?” Though she didn’t necessarily intend it so, the wrong ears, or at least the criminally inclined ones may have taken that query as a threat. There were a few provoking triggers in the introduction after all...Inquisitor... Io wasn’t familiar with the term, but for her, anything official was threatening... militaristic... She’d definitely recognized that one, and had reason for fear. It was exactly the type that she had sought to avoid. For Io, it was a passing question, one she didn’t need an answer to, one that didn’t matter. The gears in her mind were turning, processing the permutations of the impending conversation, or worse...

Still... if there was action that needed taking, she could wait until she inspected the pies.

When she finally lowered her gaze, the hint of a smile had returned, her lips curled ever so subtly. Her tenseness cooled into relative relaxation, or at least the appearance that she was in no mood to bolt. The war in her mind could wait, at least until after dinner, and perhaps...

“Is it dark inside, Miss Gloria? Are there hounds? Io is afraid of both.” She nodded matter of factly, twice per usual. That was her gate, and the first insight she would give willingly.
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Re: Take two

Postby Rance » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:04 am

"No, Io. No darkness. No hounds," she said, pausing in the extraction of the fare from her satchel to fix the girl with a still gaze. The gate, indeed, had opened — but only a meager crack, and should she reach too far into it, it might close on her fingers, might lock, might never open again. Be soft for her. You know hardness when you see it. You know fear, don't you, Glour'eya. "Inquisitors, they're — they're but farmboys and farmgirls with better brains than bodies, stuffing their noses in books, asking questions of the world."

From her satchel, she produced a block of waxed cheese and a knuckle of hard bread. Balanced on the knee of her grimy skirt, the food balanced precariously, fearing wind. "In my left boot-cuff, Io, there's a little knife, right underneath the skirt. Would you, please? I would, but—" In her only hand, she held a jar of minted jam, as if unsure of its use, and the handless stump lifted apologetically. See? the motion seemed to say. I need help too.

Her intent, in the moment, was to create normality. Eating supper. Sharing food. Simple, easy, purposeless except for the sake of company alone.

Gloria couldn't help but watch in fascination as Io's thoughts flashed across her face. Not their specifics, but their emotive byproducts: confusion in the brows, tightness in the teeth, the eyes seeming ready, primed, waiting for a threat to emerge from the shadows. So she did the only thing she knew to do: look into this smaller girl's eyes, and steady her own breathing — in, out, in, out — in hope of inspiring mimicry. "I was frightened when I showed up, too. I knew nobody. Couldn't speak the Standard, didn't know why they were all so bright-skinned.

"But now," Gloria said, "you know one person, and that's twice as many as you knew ten minutes ago. And look at us, sharing a meal. I think you're quite courageous." Smiling, now, all her uneven and blunted and tarnished teeth on display. Then, curiously: "What does Io mean?"
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Re: Take two

Postby Io Ono » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:55 pm

Happy to oblige, Io pinched the handle of the knife, and slid it from his home. The bread was the first victim. She took up the precariously balanced loaf, and with a bit of a saw, parted it in two. The earthy smell filled her nostrils, and she had half a mind to devour both hemispheres right then, but, better judgement won out.

Oooh, questions...dangerous things better left to dangerous people... Perhaps answers then...

Give up, you can’t scare her away...

We shall see... I wonder if their books tell of...

No...


The jam was next. Caution and prudence for proper rations were not an option, and the heaviest glob she could manage found its way onto the entire length of the blade. The spread layer was naturally less than even, if it could be called a layer at all. She cleaned both edges the best she could on the crust of one of the halves, and offered it to her benefactor. The knife, went with, the blade closest to the guard clamped between her index and middle finger, the tip facing the ground.

Admittedly, the question was odd to her, mostly because she never thought about that answer. Rather, she’d never explored the nature of her being in a manner that would require explanation anyway. As far as she knew, she was, and she did, and that was all she was ever supposed to know.

Mmm...what indeed...

Stop...

Ten little beds...

Stop...

For ten little heads...ten sets of eyes...

Please, stop...

To see all the lies...ten sets of ears...

I’m begging you...

Oh? Begging now? To hear all the fears...

Please...


She took a bite about as large as one could, jam smearing on her cheeks childishly. The bread was a slice of heaven, the jam was bitter, enough to uncomfortably warm her tongue. Still, it tasted better than nothing, and she could find herself comfortable with the flavor, in time. She’d hardly managed to chew before swallowing the entire mouthful, laboriously.

“Io means Io, Io means ten, ten means Io, ten means ten.” She’d hardly finished the sentence before stuffing another unnecessary amount in her face. The second swallow was as the first, her small throat struggling to force the lump of bread down. She paused before another bite. She knew what she needed to do, what she needed to say.

She has to know...

Oh? Are you sure you want to do that?...

She gave us food...

Hah, so you’re just a stray kitten, then? Lured in and tamed by a morsel?...

We can...

No...you can’t... you’re weak...Ten little beds...


“I don’t know...what I am, but...” Her gaze lowered to the half devoured bread in her hand, her visage distant once more. It was the look of a mutt who’d been caught raiding the pantry for scraps. It was almost as if she was apologetic for existing. “Will you send me away?” She’d expected one answer, but hoped for another.
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