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Naunet
Naunet
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Joined: March 26th, 2014, 6:48 pm
Naunet

To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » November 21st, 2014, 11:31 pm

((Following Something to Hide...))

***

A year had passed. Dhein stepped over an offshoot of the plant, one of many the size of a weed that were growing out of the floor at various points the small room. He knew where each one of the little plantlings were, had either memorized them or could sense their strange magic as he moved idly about the room. He paced, reading a book with a black cover and yellow pages that smelled of immemorial ages. The ink practically glowed with demonic energy, freshly retrieved from shattered Draenor by Aztal's hands.

He paused and set the end of the Fel staff on the floor. It clicked dully against the wood, splintered by the roots that had broken through the pot and pried up the floorboards. The plant's spread wasn't relegated to just the room. Since the Fel staff had been used to channel the magic originally, small stalks very similar to the plant had sprouted around the black gem focus on its top, budding delicately. The staff had begun to cast the plant's energies far more efficiently over time, providing a wealth of experimental potential.

Fortunately, it seemed the wards that bordered the room still enclosed the plants energy. Dhein occasionally renewed those wards. Something about the Fel staff, altered as it was, made casting Fel magics of that kind easier. He hardly felt any corruptive influence at all anymore.

Dhein began pacing back the other way, stepping around two more weed-sized offshoots as he went. He turned a page, and frowned as the passage he was reading ended. "Impossible. That's all? It's useless."

A worn pen continued to scratch across a length of parchment stretched over a space not broken up by exploring roots. Antimony didn't look up from her work, drafting long, precisely straight lines across the parchment in an intricate, precise map. The light in her eyes flickered as she worked, almost mirroring the faint flash of shadows that drifted from the focus she held in the opposite hand. Her gaze moved to those shadows on occasion, watching them spread between it and the plant in a net as thin as spiderweb, almost invisible. Then her attention would return to the parchment and the careful markings she continued to map out upon it.

"Did he bring the wrong text again?" her voice drifted up from the blue-tinged hair that fell across her face as she bent over her work. The sleeve of her dress shuffed softly with the deliberate motions of her arm.

"No. This is the correct book. It just doesn't have the correct information." The book slammed shut in his fingers. It hissed with a faint green-brown haze, and Dhein's eyes grow momentarily brighter. Tossing the book among a pile of like-covered tomes in a corner where the air was slightly oiler from the Fel presence. "Supposedly written by an expert in temporal scrying. But this supposed 'expert' didn't record a single spell. He just prattled on like an aspiring magister trying to satisfy a grudging mentor."

Antimony frowned deeply, though the expression was lost with her face turned down to the parchment. "Not particularly 'expert' of him at all," she muttered in agreement. Her hand moving the pen slowed but didn't stop completely. "I suppose then we are no less further from retrieving that data?" Some frustration wove into the echo in her voice.

"At this point, it would be a research project itself to find another way to fail at retrieving the data." Dhein swung the staff around as he paced back into the room, churning a small and familiar path through the small plants. The slightly chilly air huffs against the dark tail of his sanguine robe. "Temporal scrying was the most far-fetched, preposterous possibility I had to pursue. I can think of no further spells, known, rumored or theorized, that can help us retrieve data from more than a year in the past."

Bone thin fingers tightened around the pen, the lines becoming a bit stiffer for several seconds. "We cannot move beyond this point without the data from the Overgrowth. At least not with any reasonable expectation of reaching accurate conclusions." She looked up finally, but it was to look along one of the roots splitting the floorboard to her right, up to the broken pieces of the pot and the soil that remained in a loose circle there. She watched the shadows that clung to the base of the plant and shifted the focus in her hand. The clouded crystal atop it, partially obscured by small twists of growth in the same material as the plant, flickered. "And you say you have found nothing at all?"

"There's nothing to find, Antimony." Dhein finally crossed his arms, the Fel staff and the small plants riding upon it leaning against his shoulder. He watched her idly. "Gathering information from an event in the past is a prerogative of Dragons, not mortals. It was likely arrogant to even attempt. The best we could hope to do is harvest one of these sprouts and place it in nature, but that wouldn’t be safe. It would be out of our control."

Her attention returned to the map she drew upon the parchment, but the pen simply tapped in place. "Perhaps," she murmured. A few seconds passed, and then she began to draw again, pausing to note a series of numbers alongside particular angles formed by the lines. "Curse that woman... I suppose the best we can do is continue monitoring the present, then." She sounded more than a little annoyed at this. "I believe I have at least come close to a proper model for a fraction of it..."

"A fraction." Dhein scoffed, meaning the gesture to be impersonal. Then he supposed it might come off as rude, and brushed it his face. "Apologies. It's a frustration, is all. It almost leaves me eager to pursue that woman to all ends Azeroth. She stole the data. The least she could do is have it on her if I were to find her."

Dimly lit eyes lifted again, but this time they finally settle on Dhein. Her lips pursed. "I would gladly contribute to such an effort, but you have said there is nothing to do. Unless you have forgotten something?"

"I have not forgotten anything. My earlier investigations yielded vague results that I deemed both insignificant and too problematic to act on." Crossing his arms once more, he looked out from beneath elegant bangs. "The western coast of the Eastern Kingdoms. Well south of Dun Morogh. More towards Ellwyn."

Antimony's mouth turned down further. "That... is not unsurprising, considering." Her fingers tapped against the side of her staff. "But out of reach, I suppose... We would never make it through those borders, even if we could find her."

"We could find her. That's not the concern. I may not be able to perform temporal scrying, but the woman herself is as easy to scry from a distance as a lighthouse is to see. The latter issue is that which convinced me to hang up all hopes of finding the woman. The data is likely in a lockbox in Stormwind, with our luck."

"And neither of us would be convincing enough to pass through undetected," Antimony muttered. "Unless I garb myself very conservatively." The hand holding her staff tightened and jerked in a minute gesture of annoyance, and she felt an empty pull travel along it and between her bones.

"Such thinking doesn't really play to our skillsets" Dhein observed passively. He blinked, and let slip another sigh. "So, you said we continue monitoring the present? All indications are that things will continue as they have been. I dislike studying in a mire. We must progress somehow."

"What do you think I have been working towards?" The words snapped more than she intended, and she let out a dry, rattling sigh after. "Observation is important. Mapping the kinetic patterns of this magic even moreso. And I have made progress." The pile of parchment nearby, containing previous pieces of the puzzle she had set her mind to, were indication of that. The lines beneath her hand now were just a small part of a much larger whole. "Though we may see advancement faster if we become a bit more bold in experimentation. More direct manipulation would both corroborate and expand the analysis."

Dhein watched Antimony in silence, letting her words fall into the static chill around him and hang alongside it. He leaned against a table on the wall; a new, sturdier table. He bounced one leg, and the table didn't even creak. "Past experiences have indicated that more aggressive manipulation of the plants energies may not be safe."

"That is why we take whatever precautions we can, just as we maintain the wards." Shifting her knees on the floor, Antimony adjusted herself in relation to the sheet of parchment, moving to expand her diagram across a yet bare corner.

Dhein leaned forward and looked at Antimony's work, trying to make out her diagram. He was not terrible at technicalities, but the fact was he simply could not do what she did, and much of the time, her research methods left him confused. "While I shudder to think of what spells we might progress to, I'm also curious what kind of spells this plant's energy is most conducive to casting. Sometimes it feels as though we've stumbled across a new school of magic."

The pen dropped from her hand suddenly, and in just as swift a movement Antimony had pushed herself up to her feet with the staff. Not speaking immediately, she moved to the stack of parchment she'd built up over the past twelve months - some dozen, oversized pages, each of which having taken many weeks to develop. These in hand, she turned again to the floor and began to lay them out end-to-end, in rows of three. "I am beginning to think that as well." The pages began to take on a cohesive shape as she arranged them, parts of a massive diagram of lines and curves, all annotated with a series of numbers. Textual references and the proofs of a great many equations stuffed any other available empty space on the pages.

Dhein blinked, eyes canting from side to side at the sudden change in Antimony's demeanor. Or what seemed a sudden change to him. He watched her pen clatter, then the woman move to gather the great stack of papers and spread them out. He generated a new theory as to what she was laying out to him with every page before giving up about halfway through when he realized how many pages still remained.

Pacing away from the table, Dhein kept his arms crossed, but his gaze was curious. "You've enough work there to begin work on a research tome of your own."

Straightening, Antimony gestured with one foot towards a number of nested arcs in the upper left corner. "There are parallels here," she moved, taking a step, and then gestured towards another smooth curve surrounded by its associated equation and proof a row down, "and here to patterns in nature magic. And the sine wave there," two pages to the right, "I have observed in the arcane. But the rest is... well, I feel a bit of a pioneer." Her lips twitched at the corners.

"I recognize the Arcane." He pointed somewhere between the nature and the arcane references Antimony made. "This is somewhat reminiscent of the Fel. An unnatural inversion of the Arcane, one might say. Fel can't really be proofed the same way. Or if you did, many Warlocks would find it an insult."

"Then we won't speak of it to any warlocks." She paused, looked over the array of pages sitting unevenly across the broken, root-ridden floor. "If my projections are correct, this is roughly one third of the full picture. It is very much like attempting to translate a foreign language."

"And how do we work our way to the other two thirds?"

The bottom of Antimony's staff clicked against the floor, and she furrowed her thin brow in thought. "A great deal of time, I imagine." Dim light shifted in empty sockets to glance at an angle towards the elf. "Made shorter if we could model the energies physically, manifest it in a more accessible way."

Dhein gave her a look of vexation. "In what way do you mean?"

She gestured in vague circles with her free hand. "Spells, Dhein! We need to try and shape more spells. We cannot continue to simply observe it from a distance," though that distance had closed dramatically over the past several months.

"And what kind of spells would you have us cast?" Dhein gestured broadly with one arm, then lifted a finger. "On the condition that it is safe to do so."

She turned towards him then, a perhaps lately uncommon moment of giving him her undivided attention. "That is the question. Innocuous ones would be the safest. We don't know precisely what this energy is capable of, though, so we would have to approach it rather broadly."

"Such an approach was taken once before."

"Then an additional safety measure - we do not cast the spells on each other. There are plenty of enchantments we can try, though." She tapped her chin, gaze lifting in thought. "And we've plenty of parchment to attempt any variety of glyphs."

Dhein sighed once more, making it enough times that he became self-conscious of the expression. He bundled his arms a bit more tightly around himself. "I suppose. Fel isn't short on enchantments. Or curses. Might try casting one on that priest that stole our equipment."

An unexpected chuckle pushed through Antimony's dry throat, though she brought her hand to her mouth to stifle it quickly. "... Indeed," she muttered after a moment. "It would be the least she deserves. Ah, so. You are in agreement then?"

"Yes. I was not being serious about cursing the woman, but yes, I suppose we're in agreement." He smirked and leaned towards Antimony.

She arched one brow towards him. "... Yes." A pause. "We should of course compose a list of enchantments to attempt first, so that we can keep our observations properly organized."

Dhein let himself hang awkwardly half-leaned towards Antimony. "That would just take a brainstorming session."

She smiled at that, and the dim light in her sockets warmed and brightened just a bit. "Excellent. Let's set up on the table. I'll get the parchment and... ah, we've no shortage of texts to pull from!"

Finally, Dhein leaned away, appearing as though something had been missed. "I'm sure I can come up with quite a list off the top of my head."

"Yes, yes, but we want to be precise." She turned then, to cross the room to a low hung hammock. Next to it sat a leather bag filled in part with rolls of parchment. One she took out, along with a fresh pen.

Dhein followed after her somewhat distantly, looking down on her rummaging. "I think I can be quite precise off the top of my head."

"Oh you can, can you?" She almost sounded amused, but it was blunted by distraction. Straightening from the bag, she turned to make back towards the table but paused short before walking into Dhein. "... Hm?"

Dhein smiled at Antimony. "Your energy for this project is as inspiring as ever." And leaned down to kiss her.

Her grip loosened momentarily on the parchment. Twelve months ago, this gesture would have frozen her completely. Now it came as a surprise but it felt more natural. The weight of her undeath lingered, but it was not so much of an insurmountable wall. She let him kiss her a moment and then smiled before kissing back. "Inspiring of ideas and productivity, I should hope."

Standing back and stepping away, Dhein chuckled. "Those are among the things you inspire, yes."

"Excellent. So." Lifting both brows at him expectantly, she made to step around him towards the table. "Enchantments. Let's begin."

"Very well." He turned to follow after, watching how Antimony moved. "Off the top of my head? Scrying, summoning, and soulstone crafting are all innocuous spells."

Antimony nodded, stepping carefully over the roots and small sprouts spread out across the floor, though she never looked down at them. Her red dress shifted quietly as she settled in front of the table and spread out the parchment upon it. "All strong potentials. Mm, I know a number of enhancement enchants, usually used on clothing but they can be transferred to paper as well. Various properties - resistances and bolsters would be the least threatening, though there are some that, when active, can damage a target."

"I want to try using the energies to scry after the priest thief." Dhein positioned himself next to Antimony with his back to the table, leaning against it and watching the woman. "If I get any results, I can compare their accuracy to what I know to be true based on Fel scrying."

Biting the inside of her lip, Antimony noted each of these carefully on the parchment, setting up the framework for a data table. She lifted her head when Dhein spoke, eyes widening in appreciation. "Wonderful idea! It is, of course, always important to have controls when testing. We will begin with that, then."

Dhein's nod was impassive and idle. His posture as he leaned against the table was only slightly lazy, shoulders sloping as though he couldn't be bothered with holding an upright posture at the moment. "Well, put that at the top of the list. The reagents for such a spell aren't so difficult. Did you also intend to contribute to the casting of innocuous spells?"

"Of course. The enchantments I mentioned prior should serve as good bases for experimentation, and I can attempt to invoke a few words of power with the energies as well." She continued to write as she spoke, organizing said "innocuous" spells.

Leaning over her work and frowning somewhat, Dhein blinked. "I'm not even sure what half of those subheadings are for."

Antimony smiled at that. "It is not overly complicated. These spells can all be groups according to more than just original magic type, and it is important to notate those similarities and differences across spells. Intent, practice, duration..."

"What if we find spells that we can cast with the plant-magic that are unique to itself?"

Her eyes brightened and she lifted her head to look towards him. "Well that would be fascinating! I hope we do. We'll have to take careful note and then we'll be able to see where it fits in relation to the others."

Dhein shrugged as though the implications did not sway him, though he smiled an enticing smile down at Antimony. "I might take the liberty of doing some experimentation. It wouldn't be the first time I invented a new spell."

The smile shifted to a look of intense curiosity. "Oh? Ah, the details! What spell? I must know."

"Uuuuhm." Shoot. She wasn't supposed to ask that. He wasn't supposed to gloat. He looked at the wall, then at the ceiling, then pulled on his soul patch and pretended to cough.

"Come now, you can't possibly keep such a thing a secret. How did you go about experimenting with new spells? What methods? That's not something I've thought to try in the past!"

Dhein chuckled a bit at that, trying to sound more amused than nervous. "Oh, it's something lots of Blood Elves do. I remember we had this contest between students back when I was just starting out for making the least useless new spell. The winning spell turned a single hair on the caster's head red. Just one. And you couldn't pick which hair."

Tilting her head slightly, Antimony watched him appraisingly for a moment. "Truly? I've never heard of such a thing. But I suppose... Mm, how did you do it?"

"Uhm. Oh, that wasn't me. I lost. My spell made a rock vibrate, but not enough that it could be observed. I had to experimentally prove that the rock had proved at all before anyone even believed me." He chuckled at the memory, and then sighed, cheerful. "That's not even the spell I meant, though. I made an incredible spell. Really changed my way of thinking about magic completely!"

Turning more towards Dhein, Antimony looked up towards him intently, her hands clasped down by her waist. "In what way? Stop beating around the bush, Dhein. If it's something so momentous... and even if it weren't... you must tell me!"

"Uhm. Oh, oh! Right." He needed to pay more attention to what he was saying. "But, you know, I'm distracting us from work. All those subheadings want our attention, remember?"

Her arms shifted to settle on her bony hips. "Oh no. You've got my interest with that story and then expect me to be satisfied with a vague notion and back to work? What if it affected how my approached our analyses! Or... well, anything."

"Then I would've told you, obviously." He shakes his head and his long ears swing behind him, over his long hair which swings behind him. His long eyebrows swing as well. "It was irresponsible for me to bring it up now. It's not relevant to what we're doing."

"Not relevant in ways you can currently see perhaps." Antimony lifted one brow.

Dhein lifted one brow. "The same could be said of expertise in baking."

"No, it could not, as one involves chemistry and food, while the other involves principals that are direct parallels to what we were just discussing." Antimony was not convinced at all.

Dhein shrugged and looked away. "I think I'd know if it was relevant. Do we want to go over ALL information about ALL magic just in case it might be useful?"

"We were discussing manipulating spells with new energies, and potentially discovering new spells. You mentioned you had experience creating new spells. The connection is quite clear, Dhein Til'za." Her thin brow furrowed, fingers tapping against her hips. A moment later she just huffed and turned back to the parchment.

Smiling, Dhein shrugged, accepting her surrender wordlessly. "Besides." Or with words, maybe, actually. "I don't have the research notes on hand."

"There is a simple fix for that," Antimony spoke coolly as she finished drafting up their data table. "Aztal! Where did you run off to?"

Well, he'd gone and drawn her attention again. At least, for once, he could be thankful for Aztal's unexplained and prolonged absences. No imp meant no one to let slip that he actually did have the research on-hand.

"What?" Aztal stepped out from under the table, walking around them. "What what?"

"Watch your tone, Aztal!" Dhein kicked him across the room. Maybe he'd break.

Antimony didn't visibly react to the violence against the imp - it wasn't exactly an unusual thing. She did set her pen down once she was done writing and turn in the direction the Fel creature had gone tumbling off to. "Aztal! If you could, please retrieve whatever research notes Dhein would require to explain how he developed this new spell of his, hm?" She glanced towards the elf in question. "We can begin our work while he takes care of that."

The imp pulled himself off the ground dizzily, and clawed at his eyebrows in confusion. Then Aztal glared at Dhein, blinked at Antimony, and then looked back at Dhein.

The Sin'dorei sighed. "Very well. While Aztal performs this task which will take a long time you and I should work busily. We'll barely notice the extensive amount of time that passes."

Aztal waved off Dhein's blathering. "Yeah, yeah, I'll get it."

"Thank you, Aztal." Dhein turned back to Antimony. "Now, then, where were we? A great abundance of subheadings?"

"All taken care of," Antimony smiled with some small amount of satisfaction. She gestures towards the parchment. "We have only to fill in the blanks now."

"Ah, good. The active part." Dhein smiled. "The progress. I do prefer it."

Aztal reached behind a bookcase and retrieved a book with dark green-black pages, seeming to have been woven from moss. Atop it was a leather folder stuffed with notes. The entire bundle was tied together with twine. He walked it over to Antimony. "He ya go!"

"Aztal! I strongly hinted that you were to take a long time!" He tried to kick the imp, but Aztal dropped the bundle and jumped out of the way. This only further frustrated Dhein. "And what have I told you about dodging?"

Yellow light flickered as Antimony blinked towards the elf, and a huff escaped thinly from her dead, dry lungs. "Really now, Dhein. What are you afraid of?" Brow furrowing she stepped away from the table to make to pick up the book.

Dhein jabbed at the book with the butt of his staff to try and push it way from Antimony's hands. "I really should just burn that."

Her frown deepened, and she cast a quick, sideways glance up towards Dhein before taking another step to snag the book in her bony fingers. "Why would you dispose of valuable research? You are being ridiculous, Dhein."

"For one, it's not particularly valuable. Want to know how to create new spells? Fine. I can teach you that. You don't want to know what that research contains." He held out a hand. "I think you should demonstrate trust and let me have the book."

Straightening, Antimony glanced down towards the book, and then up towards Dhein, taking in his expression. "You know I am not one for secrets, Dhein," she spoke slowly, though she made no move to actually look through the text yet.

"There's a difference between secrets and things better left forgotten. You may not be much for hte former, but I know you are a dedicated adherent of the latter."

Antimony blinked slowly at that, shifting her gaze down to the book in her hand. It felt heavier than it should between her fingers, with a weight that pulled on something deep in her bones and into her chest. One hand brushed across the cover lightly. Something told her she knew in part what was in there, and the temptation to know more was unexpectedly strong.

Setting her jaw, she extended her arms towards him, book in hand.

Dhein tried to take the book from her without looking overeager to be doing so.

Almost as soon as it was out of her reach, Antimony felt an itch to take it back, not unlike the itch that dogged her to pursue that plant, though with perhaps a different source. She didn't, though, instead letting her hands drop to her waist. She stood quietly for a moment before speaking, "We should return to our work. Shall we attempt a scrying?"

"Very well." He held the book to one side. "Aztal, put this somewhere out of our sight, will you?"

The imp chittered in Eredun and took the tome.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
Global Moderator
Posts: 264
Joined: March 26th, 2014, 6:48 pm
Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » November 21st, 2014, 11:31 pm

Dim yellow light flickered towards Aztal for a moment, lips turned down in a sharp frown, before she swung back to the table to take up the pen. "We should have any necessary reagents," they had collected a veritable library of items over the past year, all organized along one wall, "so begin when ready. I will record observations."

"Oh. You actually intend to begin immediately." Dhein brushed at his hair, fixing some fictitious mess. He pulled on the perfect, golden wings of hair on either side of his head. "I suppose that makes sense. If, after all, we have all of the reagents."

Antimony arched one brow in an odd look as she turned back towards Dhein. "... Yes. It does make sense," she uttered slowly. Then a pause. "Are you feeling alright?"

"I believe I'm just reluctant to begin aggressively utilizing the plants energy again, considering what happened last time." He paused in fixing his hair to look down at Antimony. "To you, specifically."

Dry lips parted slightly as she inclined her head in acknowledgment. "Ah... yes. Well." Her features softened. "We won't be casting that particular spell. And you'll recall I was quite fine outside of that."

"Outside of the only spell we've experimented with? Yes. Not exactly comforting."

Antimony lifted one finger. "Now, that is not quite how it went. I do remember casting quite a few spells before there was any trouble."

"They were all the same spell, Antimony." Dhein said with an honest chuckle. "We casted one kind of spell, so one hundred percent of the spell-types we've cast have been dangerous."

She waved a hand at that, huffing dismissively. "Only when you cast it directly upon me. Which I doubt you will be doing with a scrying spell."

"That's true, but the scrying spell is only the first on a long list of spells." Dhein gave Antimony's spreadsheet a dubious look.

"None of which are to be cast upon either of us," Antimony persisted. "That is why we chose enchantments and similar spells."

"If you say so. I'll stop making things difficult for you." He stepped away from the table. "Aztal, collect the proper reagents. Don't make a mistake."

The imp protested in eredun, as it was expected to.

Smiling, Antimony relaxed her posture, the hand holding the pen lowering. "Good." Then to Aztal, "If you could find the arcane dust and prismatic shards as well."

The imp gave more emphatic chattering in Eredun, slipping between a few dialects so as to make the best use of each one's vulgarities. Anyone who doubted Aztal's intelligence need only understand Eredun and listen to the imp complain. He was a linguistic genius, knitting a many-layered tapestry of ancient threads from entire different worlds and societies.

Dhein only paid it half his mind as he stepped away from the table and turned to Antimony, putting the staff in front of him. Small, delicately blooming sprouts about the focus swayed with the gesture. "Perhaps we'll find she's traveling again. I don't have much of an instinct for hunting fellow beings, but for her, I think I'd pounce if given the chance."

"It would be an opportunity I would not wish to miss, certainly." Her smile faded into an expression of mild distaste at the thought of the human priest.

Aztal presents Dhein with a bowl full of prepared reagents. Apparently Dhein had cast this spell often enough that Aztal was ready with the reagents before being asked. Dhein took them and smirked. "Thank you. Good job."

This seemed to elicit even more cursing from Aztal.

Which caused another chuckle from Dhein. And then he shooed the imp away with one foot. "Go get what Antimony instructed you to get."

Yellow light flickered as Antimony watched Aztal return with the reagents, and then go off muttering to retrieve more. Fixing her attention upon Dhein, her brows lifted expectantly. "Do take care, of course. I don't wish to see you harmed by these experiments."

"Oh, I'm sure I'll be fine. It's not myself that I'm worried for, after all. I've worked with Fel. This magic might be dangerous if used clumsily, but it can't be any worse than Fel." Dhein placed the bowl of reagents on the table.

"Indeed," she nodded with a level gaze. "I am ready when you are."

"I'm preparing currently," Dhein said. The reagents were simple, at least on this side. What he really needed for scrying was something the belonged to the priest, which he had acquired through means that could only be described as demonic. Stirring the reagents and leaning forward to apply his breath, Dhein whispered words of eredun and cast flakes of dried ink.

Antimony watched carefully, eyes dimming. She'd grown accustomed to Dhein making use of fel magics over the past twelve months, but something still occasionally niggled at her thoughts. Mindful of his concentration, she kept quiet in her observations though, and readied herself to take notes.

Dhein brought the staff forward and channeled the energy of the plant, which by now bathed the room they were working in. It filled the staff so quickly, it was almost as though it had already been there, waiting to be called. It did not take the shape he instructed. It did not take shape at all. It barely moved in response to his will.

There was a strange, utter absence of anything Dhein would normal call a spell. The energy of the plants simply turned, like a fitful sleeper swatting at a gnat, and then rolled back into place.

And yet. "Stormwind."

Lids widening, Antimony caught herself leaning forward slightly, straining to sense any change in the energies about the room. She thought she felt some kind of echoing movement in her chest, but it could have been her imagination. Her pen hovered over parchment. "It worked? And she... ah. Light forsake it..."

"Where else would a human priest go? It's like looking for an undead priest and expecting them to be anywhere other than Tirisfal." Dhein's words were jovial, but his tone was distracted. He watch the reagents carefully, then twisted his features. "I'd like to ty casting that spell again."

A crease began between her brows. "Of course. Did you notice anything unusual?"

"Yes," Dhein answered, and gestured towards the table. "The spell did not utilize the reagents." Only the dried ink he had added to the mixture was missing.

The light in her sockets flickered with a blink. "That is odd." She made note of it on the parchment. "And yet a spell must have been cast."

"One would think." Dhein muttered, eyes narrowing. He produced more of the dried ink on his fingertips and placed it in the bowl of unused reagents.

Tilting her head slightly, Antimony just pressed her lips together to watch for anything new. She paid careful attention to the reagents this time.

Dhein looked towards the staff and pulled on the power of the plant to begin forming the spell. He'd barely even thought to begin before the power stirred almost on its own, and he flinched as an image hit his head. "Eastern Stormwind. Dirty streets." On the plant that grew near the Fel focus, a fresh bud bloomed.

Antimony took a step forward, not missing Dhein's reaction. "Are you alright?" She glanced towards the reagents; they were untouched. "It seems to have worked again, and yet..."

Dhein lifted a hand to rub at his forehead. "I'm not sure I even cast the spell that time. I mean, I must have. It was just so responsive."

"Perhaps due to the proximity of the source? Or its energies are more attuned to this form of spell than the shields we first tried..." Antimony pressed her lips together in thought, watching Dhein carefully.

"It's possible. We do not know what the best uses of this energy are, yet. I do recall it making a somehwat terrible shield." Dhein eye the plant growing on his staff. "I suppose I just assumed we would get a similarly mundane result."

"And how exciting that we did not!" Grey lips curled upward. "Despite its disappointing result otherwise. I suppose Stormwind is just as out of reach as it has ever been."

"Indeed. I'm going to cast the spell again." Dhein produced more of the dried ink and tossed it into the bowl.

"Good, good. Carefully now," Antimony reminded, eyes wide with an intent curiosity.

Dhein moved the staff in front of him and closed his eyes. The magic stirred, brushing up against him only slightly. Or perhaps it did not even stir, and he brushed against it. "Dirty street, a dirty room. Cracked windows and old reports. Wine stains on wooden floors. Sticky air humid, chilly, stinking." He recited words. Just words. The sensations he described were distant, unfelt by him, translated somehow. He just spoke them. His mouth felt strange. "That is not a healthy living."

Antimony's gaze moved slowly about the room. She could feel something shifting in the energies around them, slow, almost lazy, like a beast rolling over in its sleep. Her eyes settled on the plant, sockets flickering, and she watched the shadows throb. "A scrying spell is not usually so... precise," she commented carefully.

"No, it is not." Dhein brushed his forehead, feeling like something was lodged in his cerebrum. "It was not a vision, however. Definitely a scrying spell. I was given a description, not images."

Antimony wrote distractedly after a moment, recalling Dhein's words with absolute clarity and recording them on the parchment. "Presumably the difference is a result of the magic's unique energy patterns. Scrying is a mental exercise just as much as it is a magical one. The plant's energy clearly takes a different path. It is good to confirm something it is capable of, though."

"Good? Yes, I guess that's a word for it. Disconcerting, though, in its manifestation." He closed his eyes in thought. "Conversations and reports. They're talking about us. Someone is missing. Someone is dead. Someone is blaming the Sin'dorei and the Lordaeronean. They would like to find us."

"You..." Antimony returned her eyes to Dhein sharply. "Wait, you can hear them? Or is it simply... telling you this? Who is saying these things?"

"Descriptions is all. Words. Like a list that's being written into my tongue." He shrugged. "So, scrying. It will likely continue until it stops."

Dry lips pursed. "Well, I suppose we can rest assured that their chance of finding us here is even more minute than our chances of getting into Stormwind."

"It does give me an idea, though." Dhein smirked, his lips curling below green eyes that seemed to glow a hue brighter, even though it was not actually Fel energy that he had been using. "A rather dangerous one, however. Perhaps I should keep it to myself."

Eyes narrowing, Antimony gestured sharply towards Dhein with her pen. "I think not, especially if it is dangerous."

"Well, it's a simple idea. You see, anyone who is looking for something can be lured by the presence of a clue."

"Ahah! And thereby get that woman out of Stormwind. But..." She frowned. "It is unlikely she would bring the sniffer with her."

"Unless we were to give her a reason to." He glanced around the room. "I would be hesitant to snip off any sproutlings. However." He lifted his staff. "We do have this interloper upon my focus, and knowledge of how to create a diffuse field of the plant's energy."

Bone-thin fingers tapped against the side of the pen in thought. "You suggest we plant it somewhere. But how would she learn of it? I don't think either of us would like to wait for another Overgrowth to develop."

"Not plant it. Just cast enough of the magic that she notices. Though, you're right, we would have to make sure she notices." He blinks, pondering. "I suppose a letter is out of the question?"

"Not unless we can get it through neutral channels. And even then..." Antimony shook her head in frustration.

"Which is where my talents come on. A little bit of Fel always gets someone's attention."

Antimony lifted one thin brow. "It would need to be close enough. And it would risk drawing other attention as well." A sigh rattled uselessly from her lungs. "This is very dangerous... but that data is paramount."

"I said it was dangerous."

"I do not like the thought of putting either of us at such risk," Antimony muttered, setting the parchment down to twine her fingers together by her waist. She hesitated and then, consideringly, "the closest we could get safely would be the northern border of Stranglethorn Vale. I could likely pass as living enough to get through Duskwood unnoticed, but you... no."

"Or try to draw her out to Kalimdor again." Dhein spoke with a shrug, a gesture that was becoming common for him.

"She is in Stormwind. That is quite far," Antimony twisted her fingers a bit. "Though... I suppose if she is looking for us, it would be reasonable to suspect she is keeping an eye on the region."

"I'm sure with scrying of this precision and the toolkit provided by my Fel abilities, directing her movements will not be difficult." It would simply take a certain devilishness of intent that he had not exercised in a long time. Perhaps it was called for, though. "Not that I'm baiting a trap of any particular viciousness. We just need the data is all. More of a prank, really, and a deserved one."

"Of course. I've no desire to cause her great harm." Antimony's nose wrinkled. "As satisfying as it would be, given what she'd done against us." Unwinding her fingers, she smoothed her hands along the front of her dress. "But still, that leaves the very likely trouble of her bringing along people who will wish to cause harm to either one of us."

"Even if we lure her out, we needn't approach if we decide that it's too dangerous. Or we could just send Aztal in to distract them."

"Ahah! We could indeed." Folding her arms, she brought one hand up to her chin. "I suppose if properly thought out, it is not too dangerous. And the goal is certainly worthy..."

"I think that you should let me worry about the particulars and," he gestured to her spreadsheet. "Craft some enchantments."

"So long as you do not move forward on it without me," Antimony warned. "I will not have you carry out such a venture alone." She did turn to her spreadsheet, however, glancing over it to remind herself which enchantments, and distractedly called out, "Aztal, where are those essences and the dust?"

"All right." Dhein agreed. "I won't object to being hel to that, if the plan seems like it is going to work. Aztal!"

The imp shuffled around the room with its hands full of reagents, complaining in Eredun.

"No, Aztal, bring her enough for a few. Don't just bring her all of it. She might not need that much!"

"I half suspect I will not need them at all," Antimony murmured and gathered up a few, smaller sheets of parchment that would contain the magical enchantments.

Aztal clattered over with the reagents he had gathered and tossed them on the table. "Done!"

Dhien clapped once. "Good, Aztal. And now I have more for you to do."

The imp groaned.

"Just a small list of reagents for the purposes of... Oh, what is my plan anyway?" He pulled on his goatee.

"Thank you," Antimony nodded towards the imp before settling her attention upon the items and the task at hand. She took up the Light staff then, glancing briefly over its clouded focus crystal and the dark, organic growths along the grains, and then carefully measured out a small amount of arcane dust. She spread it along the parchment in a careful pattern and then took one of the small, prismatic shards in her free hand. The crystal hummed with its own energy, but it seemed muffled to her senses. She wondered if the plant's energies had had any ambient effects upon their more magical reagents.

"A simple health enchantment to begin," she muttered to herself, and focused on channeling the energies around them through her, the staff, and into the reagents set to react with the parchment. The light in her sockets flickered and she felt a tugging along her bones. For a moment, she thought nothing else would happen. The arcane dust arranged in careful piles on the parchment remained unmoved, seemingly inert. Then her vision darkened for half a moment, and the crystal in her hand gained a sudden and unnatural weight and chillness to it. She blinked down at it and let out a low, thoughtful hum.

Dhein watched Antimony in interest. "What exactly goes into this enchantment you're attempting?"

She kept quiet for a moment, looking down at the shard in her hand, resting her weight slightly on the staff in her other. "... The reagents are supposed to serve as a conduit for magic and shape it into a particular form - the enchantment. Theoretically, they are nondiscriminate towards any particular school of magic; it is one reason I thought they would be an excellent base for experimentation."

"And it... is not working?"

"Hm." She turned the shard over in her hand. Its once translucent blue surface had darkened. Her skin felt cold where it touched, but it wasn't exactly unpleasant. If she looked close enough, she thought she saw something shift in its refracted form. "Not in any way I expected at least." Glancing towards Dhein, she opened her hand flat towards him to show him the crystal.

Dhein, being less experienced with enchantments of this kind, wasn't completely sure what he was looking at. The crystal was similar to a soulstone, but different. He was able, nevertheless, to venture a thought. "Perhaps the plant does not get along well with reagents?"

"It is possible. It feels as though it simply became... stuck." She pursed her lips, looking towards the ceiling in thought. "Or preferred the resonance of the shard to the parchment. We still understand so little of how these energies function..."

"But the bottom line is that the enchantment spell was not executed."

"No." She paused. "At least, I do not think so. Certainly it was not executed upon the parchment as intended." Her fingers turned the shard over. "What I do not know is how it acted upon the prismatic crystal."

"Compare it to an unused one?"

"Of course, but..." she turned, resting the staff in the crook of her arm to take up another one of the shards Aztal had retrieved so that she held one in each pale hand. "These were not designed to contain magic - they are fragile enough that they break after channeling from a single enchant."

"Ah." Dhein nodded, looking on the gems with new understanding. Well, no, that didn't explain anything. He understood that he understood less, perhaps. Although.

He hefted his staff. "The plant's magic does seem to enjoy dwelling in things."

She nodded at that, setting the used crystal down and shuffling the unused one to her left hand so that she could take hold of her staff once more. "It does. I will try again and attempt to focus more on the shard than the parchment."

Dhein crossed his arms and leaned back against the table again, watching. "Just be careful that the energy flows out from you. Aztal, observe closely."

Rather than reply, Antimony returned her attention to the shard, her focus, and the energies emanating from the plant. She felt something stir in her chest before she'd hardly had time to execute a single will of thought, a cold emptiness expanding from behind her ribs to move along dead veins and brittle bones. She hadn't even needed to call on the magic in the room; it came forth as though it had just been resting in her body. She wondered if she even needed the focus, but leaned against it slightly anyway, sockets flickering, brow furrowed.

It lingered in her limbs for a bit, and she tried to push it along, towards the shard at the very least. It didn't so much move as simply spread further, though, and she could feel it sinking into the crystal in her hand, saturating it with the same cold weight as before. It remained there, though, either incapable or, perhaps, uninterested in moving further. A niggling feeling in the back of her skull told her it was the latter.

Dhein watched, still waiting for the spell to occur. Aztal chattered something, and the Sin'Dorei's attention rose, turned towards the imp, "What? When?" and then towards Antimony, "Did I miss something?"

"Hm?" Antimony's lips pursed distractedly, eyes one the shard laying across one shrunken palm. Then after a long pause, "Ah. It seems... it doesn't wish to be part of enchants."

"So it does not favor that particular kind of enchantment," Dhein concluded. "What is it doing, precisely? In what way does it fail? There's a lot to be learned in such."

Resting her staff against the table, Antimony picked up the first shard, holding them both next to one another. The weight of them dragged on something in her bones. She blinked. Several moments passed before she half turned towards Dhein's voice. "It is simply remaining in the crystals," she muttered. "Hm. Perhaps we will not require your focus to set the lure after all."

Dhien blinked, pondering. He then smirked. "Now you have me imagining the woman following a trail of gems like a plainstrider following a trail of berries. But I don't imagine it will be so simple, will it?"

"Perhaps?" She blinked a few more times and then forced herself to set the crystals down. "We will need to observe what happens to these. But there are no present signs of the shards destabilizing, and it did not feel as though the magic wished to move beyond them."

"Magic always does what it wants. Well, do you have any more enchantments on that list that don't require moving through crystals like that onto pages?"

Silence drifted for a few more moments before Antimony shook herself and took her staff back up. "Ah, yes. The words of power. Priestly prayers, but it may be possible to utilize them. I need only a few candles."

"Aztal! Candles! No, not those. Those are for the evenings. I mean the spell candles. No, Aztal, those are the Fel candles. We need candles for piestly spells. Aren't you listening?" He walked across the room to a shelf made of thin wooden slats to get the candles himself. "These, Aztal. These. If I didn't know you were so intelligent I wouldn't begrudge your stupidity half as much."

Lifting a brow towards the imp and then Dhein, Antimony waited nonetheless patiently by the table. Her fingers worked around the staff, knotting together over one of the organic growths.

Dhien presented Antimony with the candles. "Here you are, master. Just as requested and as quickly as possible." Then he gave Aztal a look. "See? Like that."

"Thank you," Antimony said graciously, taking the candles and lining them up along the table before moving to stand in front of them. She set her staff in front of her, leaning forward slightly upon it. "Now Aztal, if you could come here. The prayers require some sort of direction."

"Iiiii don't like getting prayed for!" Aztal objected.

Dhein stomped and pointed and the imp plodded over.

"Don't be so contrary. I won't be using the Light." Straightening her posture, she looked down on the candles, bowing her head just slightly. She thought about uttering the words that would normally come along with such an invocation, but that might risk summoning the Light rather than what she was hoping for. So instead she simply focused on the will behind the words, and of course the energies around her.

They filled her chest readily, eagerly, and she leaned a little heavier against the staff. The focus cooled in her hands, and something shifted in the clouded crystal at its terminus. Then she sought to release the energies. They billowed out from both herself and the focus in an imperceptible, slow wave, a wind that had no source and no presence. It hung like a fog over the candles, and she nearly lost her concentration from surprise when the wicks lit with a sudden, faint flame. Then the spell released and wafted lazily towards Aztal, as shapeless as ever but somehow... bolstered?

Dhien watched the way the candles lit, then lifted his eyes to Antimony. "Did it work?"

Aztal evidently felt something, for he groaned in discomfort and flapped his pathetic arms.

Relaxing her grip on the staff, Antimony's golden eyes watched the flames flicker, the heat already melting wax. "Hm. It seems to. Not in precisely the manner expected, but then that is not entirely surprising." She paused, thought over the event some more, and then continued, "The shape of it was less focused, but that seems in keeping with what we've observed of its nature thus far." She then looked towards Aztal. "It did seem to arrive appropriately, though."

Aztal was scraping at his face as though he could divest himself of the enchantment.

Dhein watched the imp with some amusement. "Was it supposed to drive him to self-harm?"

She raised a brow at that. "No... that is likely entirely his own doing. At least, I should hope. It was a simple prayer of fortitude. He should be grateful I did not attempt something more holy." She spoke the last sentence with some mild humor.

Aztal replied with a loud groan, "It's all gross and warm! Bad magic! Stupid magic!"

"Be quiet, Aztal. That's rude." Dhein looked back at Antimony. "Is there any way to tell if the spell had its desired affect?"

Pursing her lips in thought for a moment, Antimony replied, "It should have bolstered his stamina. Perhaps something athletic?"

Dhein turned to face the imp. "Aztal, come here!"

The imp groaned.

"Now, Aztal!"

The imp walked over blind, as he continued to scrape at his face. "Whaaaat?"

Dhein kicked him, and the imp thudded against the wall. "Okay, now come back."

The imp lay at the bottom of the wall and groaned.

Turning to Antimony, Dhein spread his arms. "Well, he isn't coming back any quicker."

"I'm not sure that's an accurate form of assessment," Antimony muttered, shaking her head.

"Well, it's what I have. I can't really send him doing laps around Orgrimmar."

"I suppose not..." Letting out a rattly, dry sigh, Antimony pondered the burning candles. "Most such prayers were not meant to be terribly overt."

Dhein gestured to Aztal, "Well obviously that one in particular is harmless. You should try casting it on me and then we'll test my endurance."

Frowning, Antimony nearly protested on principal, but something held her back. It did seem rather harmless. Certainly Aztal was no worse for wear, despite his complaints. "I suppose it would get us important data." She tapped her fingers against the side of her staff before carefully squaring herself off to the candles. One hand hovered above the flames, and she focused a moment before the little lights flicked out, though the wicks still glowed dully with lingering embers.

Dhein stepped back a measure, watching Antimony passively, waiting.

Repeating the spell was far easier, a pattern Antimony made mental note to record. Again she felt the energies swell more from her body than outside, but the icy emptiness did not bother her. Its similarity to the shadows she'd spent great time with the past twelve months did not go unnoticed. After several moments, she felt the magic respond vaguely to her will - or at the very least, agree to her suggestion - and the flames lit once more. She remained still as the wave continued on to settle over Dhein in an invisible veil.

The chill that settled over Dhein, like a misting of frost, was familiar by now. It was not unsettling; he'd expected it. Nor was it the first time a priest had spoken over him such, though he couldn't remember Antimony ever having done so. Still, this was unique to all other similar experiences. Just slightly removed from remembered sensations.

He gave the enchantment a few seconds to settle in place, and then smiled. "Feels to have worked."

"Does it?" Antimony spoke after a moment, turning fully towards Dhein after assuring herself the spell had complete. The candles burned brightly, but the flames were strangely cold though they still melted the wax. "How do you suppose to test it?"

"A test of endurance? Oh, let's ponder that for a moment." He stretched his arms high over his head and walked back towards Antimony. When he reached her, he dropped his arms around her and pulled her close, smirking. "Done pondering. I have an idea."

Yellow light flickered, and Antimony lifted both brows at the sudden proximity. "I suspect you are implying something less than appropriate." She didn't pull away though.

Dhein chuckled. "I think it's completely appropriate. Why would it be inappropriate? It's the surest test of endurance I can think of." He leaned his face down towards hers. "Not that I'm trying very hard to think of alternatives."

"Mm," Antimony looked down and away briefly, perhaps somewhat thankful for her lack of functioning blood vessels for once. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised." He had not pressed for anything such as this since their first encounter many months ago, but she didn't doubt it hadn't occurred to him. Even if the thought made her feel skittish and self-conscious. But then, it was Dhein.

An empty sigh rattled in her chest, and she turned her face up towards his, one brow still lifted. "The prayer does not last forever," she cautioned.

"I think it would last long enough for a decent test."

Grip loosening on her staff, Antimony's expression softened, though it retained a note of anxiety. "... Very well," she murmured and knowing she would likely just find reasons to retreat if she waited, she leaned up to kiss him.

Dein was not all together encouraged by her anxious tone, but the kiss was encouraging. One can't fake a kiss. He leaned his staff next to hers and kissed her back. Her body maintained the slight chill it always had, that lack of warmth he remembered and so often thought of. The flavor hadn't changed. He pressed her body against his own as they kissed, and then muttered, "This time I think we're a bit more prepared. At least, we won't break a table, and a cot does have its plusses."

Her hand shivered slightly around the staff, but she leaned into him, pushing up on her toes. "I suggest perhaps not attempting to dance on the table, regardless," she said against his lips, sifting through memories to find the frame of mind she'd been in during that first encounter. She recalled a certain amount of need, an intensity of feeling. The past months she had been so distracted by their research, she'd all but forgotten it. Her free hand moved up to lay around Dhein's shoulder, fingers curling into the cloth of his robe behind his neck, beneath his hair.

"Then I can demonstrate the many alternative uses of a cot." Dhein said, with a measure of excitement. "You'll be shocked. In a good way, I hope."

Tensing with a flash of embarrassment, Antimony averted her eyes though not her face. "We shall see," she replied plainly.

"In a moment. There are some prerequisites that should not be rushed first." Dhein smiled, kissing Antimony, running his hands over her back and letting his fingers flatten out the wrinkles in her dress.

She let her staff go to rest against the table and moved her now free hand to set against the back of his ribs. Feeling the muscle and bone there shifting with his breath reminded her of some of those emotions, and she relaxed a hair's breadth. "And those would be?"

"Exactly what we're doing right now." Dhein chuckled, moving his hands down her sides to her hips, keeping her close to him. Just feeling her body for now, watching her face. "I love studying anything with you, but sometimes, I just want to study you."

"Ah." Her body wanted to breathe in deep with them so close, but there was no function for such a thing anymore. She could feel the cool aura of the prayer of fortitude she'd cast upon him, lingering in the air directly above his skin. It sunk into her fingers where she touched him, and she felt an echo of it in her bones, in her chest. One hand settled between his shoulder blades. "I do recall declaring an intention for such study, once."
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » November 21st, 2014, 11:31 pm

Aztal returned with Dhein's reagents a full day later, early morning. Bursting into the room in a haze of green-brown fumes, Aztal dropped his cargo on the floor and was immediately struck by the smell of the place. Besides the chill of the plant's energy and the familiar aura of Fel underneath, there was the scent of a mortal and a corpse in a confined space for a long period of time. The imp cringed at the stink, and at the sight of Dhein asleep, naked, in the corner, he cringed all the more.

Dhein would remain in such a position for two days, and Aztal would loathe the sight of him for that entire time. It was, however, two days to spend ingratiating himself to his master's dutiful, dead mistress. Which was a thing Aztal was more willing to do than either Dhein or Antimony had given him credit for. After all, Antimony was far more fearsome than the alcoholic, senile man-child his master had become. And prettier, too.

Antimony, for her part, was more than happy to be gratiated to. By the time Aztal had arrived, she had extricated herself from the hammock to replace her clothing but had returned to it with a few books in hand, determined to continue their studies while the elf slept off whatever exhaustion the living dealt with. She greeted Aztal's arrival with a rather endless number of requests, cataloguing or retrieving scraps of information in their now rather considerable library of research. She spent many hours near the plant or one of its many sprouts peeking up through cracks in the floor, watching and feeling, seeking understanding.

When Dhein had not woken by the end of the day, Antimony added to her tasks the careful monitoring of his vital signs, breaking away from her reading and observations rather than entrusting such a thing to Aztal. She suspected it was a compensatory effect of the endurance spell. Not requiring sleep, she continued to busy herself through the night. It wasn't until morning, when she'd broken from a lull of almost meditative silence over the plant, that it occurred to Antimony there were certain texts she had yet to cover. Dhein's protests and their mild argument from the days prior had not left her entirely convinced of their lack of potentially useful information.

But... Dhein was asleep.

She straightened from the plant, though her gaze lingered on it for several moments longer, watching the play of shadows through its leaves and feeling it in her bones. Mouth twitching, she spoke without turning from it, "Aztal, I require that book you hid away the other day. Bring it here, please."

The imp readily complied, which bolstered Antimony's confidence in her decision. There could be no room for secrets, not when they had spent so long wandering in circles and had only those secret things left to search through. She settled down next to the plant to read.

The book in Antimony's hands was written in several languages, including Eredun, Thalassian, and a strange, jagged script that Aztal would identify (if asked) as Nerubian. Many passages, however, were in common. Yet other passages had slotted between their pages pieces of more recent paper, with a modern hand translating them into common.

It was a record of centuries of research. At least centuries. Some entries were old enough to be written in a different calendar system that seemed to defy explanation. The hands and minds of Warlocks had handed the study from one to the next for a long time, and each experienced varying degrees of success along a single theme: the very coercion of Light as an energy to power darker, more terrible spells.

Light, like Fel, has a will. And just as the will of a person, challenged the thesis, the Light could be turned. Not just for a moment, not just for a single spell, but in its very nature. The experiments testing this thesis were anything but gentle. Light does not exist where it is not carried by the living, and so the primary reagent of any study was a righteous soul. An uncorrupted soul, who could summon uncorrupt light for an unmistakably positive purpose. That Light was the subject of the experiments.

The methods to harvest righteous will were as varied as the studies. Preists were tortured to provoke prayers of mercy. Families were kidnapped so that entire communities would pray for them. Studies contained endless descriptions of the operation of the Light from the most dry, clinical, and demented points of view. Comparisons to Fel were endless.

Dhein's contributions to the study lay near the back, in which his handwriting recorded names of the people of Corin's Crossing and descriptions of their viability for study. This research was entirely different than all that came before, if only because of the mundane context of it. Dhein was not an Eredar Lord nor a Nerubian Vizier. He was a Sin'Dorei Warlock, but even in the nature of this he was reticent. His recordings were dry descriptions of the movement of Light, the working of it, the way it responded to Fel incantation. His sources were apparently the prayers of the people of Corin's Crossing, though how he harnessed them was not described. The 'harvesting' of their prayers was given at face-value, like the drawing of water.

However, at the very end of the book, among Dhein's very last notes, was the description of a spell that claimed to corrupt any spell cast with Light. Reagents and runes were given, descriptions of the movements and the transformation. There was no records of trial or use, however. Just the spell.

Antimony bent over the texts with increasingly deep curiosity as she began to read, occasionally pestering Aztal with questions over translations. It did not take long to discern a pattern in the text, and though reading of the twisted efforts the many corrupt researchers took towards their goal was disturbing, she found something strangely familiar in it.

"Did he not say in the Overgrowth this magic reminded him of the subversion of energies for another purpose?" She muttered half to herself and half to Aztal. The imp chittered incomprehensibly and looked perturbed, perhaps recalling the unfortunate, albeit temporary, end it had met in that overrun jungle.

She didn't bother with notes as she read, though she occasionally turned her attention to warped plant next to her to tug and feel the magic that exuded from it experimentally. She recalled how attempts to cast the Light following their initial introduction to this plant had seemed to drag with them a warping of its energy. She hadn't given it much thought beyond Dhein's caution against using spells back then, but that was over a year ago. They had both largely moved past such events.

It was curious. Potentially significant.

Her surprise was rather subdued when she finally reached records taken by the very elf who lay dead to the world in a hammock across the room. She held no illusions about Dhein's past. To summon a demon into one's self and to cause the destruction of entire families was certainly not something that happened as a result of morally good actions. She was tempted to stop reading there, hesitant to dig into things perhaps better left forgotten; Dhein was right when he had said she valued leaving well enough alone. And yet... such reluctance simply could not be afforded when it came to topics near to their research.

She read with diligence, dry lips pressed together and brow drawn down in a frown. The dryness of the notations helped put some distance between the her and Dhein and now, and the Dhein of before, though she didn't bother pretending it was some other person. She came to a stop on the page containing the spell and sat for a time considering it, considering the plant.

After a long period of time, Dhein stirred, only very slightly and lazily. The cot swung beneath him as legs and arms squirmed.

Antimony had no attention to spare for the hammock or its occupant. She didn't even know how many hours had passed since she'd begun to read the book and its notes. She stared hard down at the spell, flipped around to a few pages, and then reached out to the plant, feeling the empty chill reaching out in turn. She thought for a moment that she could pluck it from the shadows with her fingers. Twisted magic. Warped intent. She felt very close to something.

Eventually, Dhein sat up in the cot, looking groggy. His ears and eyebrows droop, and his disorderly hair hung in strange blond brambles. He extended a hand in a random direction and demanded in a half-managed tone, "Aztal. Bring me my clothes."

Dhein's voice shattered Antimony's concentration, and she sat up straight, face snapping towards the hammock. The light within her sockets was dimmed to almost nothing. She felt torn between the edge of some new understanding and the urge to check on Dhein and instead just froze.

Aztal brought Dhein a pair of pants and through them at his head, chittering, "Slob!"

Dhein sighed and caught the pants, just holding them. "Thank you."

Eyes flickering, Antimony kept still for a moment. Then something shifted and tugged all the way in her bones and she found her attention drawn back to the text, to the energy that lingered between her fingers. Dhein was fine. She turned her face down towards the plant and could almost see the fine threads of shadow reaching out. Her empty sockets narrowed.

Trying to slip his pants on, Dhein got one pant leg in before he leaned back down on the cot, qucikly losing consciousness, and died. His corpse swung back and forth, naked except for one pant leg, while the other dragged on the ground. Delicate eyebrows arched gracefully in the chill air, drawing a golden halo.
[11/19/2014 8:59:00 PM] Adrienne D: ((*buries you in bricks*))

Slipping his pants on slowly, Dhein was able to rise only after a seemingly full minute, his pants hanging crookedly from his hips as she stretched his hands high over his head. Then he stood there for a while, then he yawned, and then he began looking around the room. "Aztal, where is my shirt?"

Aztal threw a shirt at his feet.

"Aztal, hand the shirt to me nicely.

Aztal did so.

"Aztal, where are my socks?"

Aztal pointed.

"Aztal, retrieve them."

Aztal threw the socks at his feet.

"Aztal, I don't want to bend down."

Aztal put Dhein's socks on his feet, put deliberately ripped them while doing so.

"Aztaaal. Now I need new socks."

"You don't have any."

"Aztaaal."

"What?"

Dhein kicked the imp, but it was weak, and the imp only staggered. Then Dhein pointed in a random direction. "Get my shirt."

"You're wearing it."

"No, my top-shirt. This big one."

Aztal made a sound of disgust and got Dhein's robe, throwing it at his feet.

"Aztal, I don't-"

Aztal picked up the robe and handed it to him.

"Thank you. Where are my boots."

Aztal let out a series of incredibly long demonic swears that were so evil in nature that the light around the imp actually darkened.

"Now, Aztal," Dhein still sounded mostly-asleep. "That is uncalled for."

Antimony's eyes widened, the light in them flickering out completely for a moment before flaring back. Then she was on her feet in a motion so sudden it sent the text in her lap toppling awkwardly to lay splayed on the floor. "I understand! That's why we couldn't recognize its signature. It's not a school of magic on its own - it's a spell!"

Dhein flinched at Antimony's sudden movement. "Ah! Ah... ha? Uhm. Good morning?"

Aztal chittered and clapped. The imp much preferred Antimony.

Antimony spun around towards Dhein, smiling broadly. She could feel the energy still clinging to her hand but ignored it for now, instead gesturing emphatically. "A spell, Dhein. A very powerful and persistent one, enough to generate its own energy. But not its own magic."

He brushed at his face and muttered, "Spell? What... what's a spell?" Straightening his eyebrows, Dhein tried to appear more awake. "What spell?"

"This," she gestured again, this time towards the plant in the center of the room behind her, the roots stretching outward from it, and the sprouts reaching up from cracks in the floor. She either didn't notice or wasn't bothered by his continued grogginess.

Dhein remembered the robe in one hand, which he hadn't put on yet, and he tossed it over his head crookedly. He pulled it down, but his head went into one of the sleeves instead of the collar, and this confused him. As he stood there, seemingly veiled in bulging red silk, he paused. "Wait, the plant? Like, druid magic? But hadn't we considered that?"

Her smile broadened enough she could feel it down to her jawbone. "Perhaps part of it was once druidic. But no longer. I think the spell changed it."

"The spell changed... the spell?" Dhein's voice was muffled inside the sleeve of his robe. He was still for a moment, and then he squirmed, still not understanding how he was stuck.

"Yes, well--oh, come here." She crossed to him, instead, and reached up to set his robe to rights. "It is two spells," she clarified as she did this.

Dhein waited patiently for his robe to be adjusted. "What two spells?"

Pulling the neck of Dhein's robe down over his head, Antimony looked up at him with a positively thrilled expression. "Yes. A druid's spell, but altered by another. It's almost... parasitic?"

"A spell acting as a parasite on another spell?" Dhein looked around Antimony at the plant. "Another druid's spell?"

"No. Well... perhaps. There are still questions!" She turned from him, back towards the plant. "But I am certain we are dealing with a spell - one that turns other energy it touches to its purpose."

Dhein raised a brow at that and looked around the room. Over Antimony's shoulder, he saw a certain book thrown haphazardly on the floor. "... I see you've been reading some new material."

"... Hm?" Antimony turned her head slightly, distracted by her own thoughts and how she could still feel empty threads stretching between her and the shadows wrapping the plant. "Ah. Yes. It seemed appropriate."

"It seems a little bit like an absence of trust." Dhein walked around Antimony to retrieve the book.

"Does it?" Antimony watched him briefly before going back to studying the flower. "It seems more to me like a willingness to truly consider all avenues of research."

"Only inasmuch as it's a demonstration that your value your own opinions on the value of research materials over my feelings or our relationship. All things considered, it's an interesting demonstration to note." Dhein closed the book without looking at its contents.

She frowned at that, eyes dimming. "That is hardly a fair assertion, Dhein." She dragged her gaze away from the plant to look towards him, though it continued to tug on her attention. "Do you think I did not realize what you once did?" She shook her head. "No, I will not feel guilt for reading that book. The progress I made from that alone is too much."

"I wouldn't want to inflict guilt on you." Dhein held the book out to one side. "Aztal, return this book to Corin's Crossing."

Antimony pressed her lips together, but said nothing. Instead she crossed back to the plant, arms resting at her sides, and looked down upon it.

Aztal took the book obediently, but hesitated with it in his hands, looking towards Antimony. Dhein kicked the imp, "Get going!" and Aztal vanished.

Dhein lifted his hands to his hair and tried to flatten the chaotic mess. "There was nothing in the book that is both applicable to this situation and which I did not already mention."

"And yet you had failed to fit this piece of the puzzle into place on your own," Antimony spoke distractedly. She shifted one arm slightly to hold her hand out near the flower.

Dhein frowned at that. Not because he had expected himself to fit any piece of that shape into any puzzle, but because of the words that Antimony had chosen. "I considered it. The spell recorded in the book did not work. The goals of the tome are not a thing that can be accomplished, and the methods are flawed. Otherwise I would have spoken of it far sooner."

"Think more broadly, Dhein. That... research," she pursed her lips, the light in her eye sockets flickering, "had a very specific end in mind. This spell... hm. Considering its effects, it seems far from specialized."

"Heh. You didn't need faulty research to tell you that."

"I did need it to tell me what it was and why we could not pin it down, however." She turned her hand over, feeling the chill trace through the fine bones in her arm.

"Of all the catalysts for your thoughts, you chose the one least applicable." Dhein struggled with his hair. It would not obey his will.

"Really." She huffed at that, thin chest rising and falling silently. "You insist such a thing? Yes, very inapplicable, Dhein. It's a wonder I found the connection at all."

"If you did find a connection then you found it in error. If I'd left out a book explaining fraudulently that all the Warlocks can use the Light if they mix cocoa into their reagents, would that have been applicable as well?"

Antimony frowned, indignant. "Do you think me so incapable of determining what is and isn't relevant? Don't be ridiculous. You should be pleased progress was made."

"We have a new theory. It is a spell that changes spells and..." Dhein cave up in his hair and crossed his arms in frustration, glaring at a brambled clump of golden tresses jutting directly out over his forehead. "...Also a spell changed by the first spell?"

"I'm not nearly so incompetent as to think I've found all the answers yet, Dhein," Antimony muttered. She turned her visible attention away from him, crouching next to the plant.

"I did not call you incompetent. That's not what I said. Aztal, is that what I said?"

The imp nodded.

"Aztal!" Dhein stomped his foot.

The imp shook his head.

Dhein returned his gaze back to Antimony. "How would you test this theory?"

"Conveniently..." Antimony leaned forward slightly, pursing her lips in thought. The shadows within her eye sockets deepened. "... in much the same manner as we had just begun to progress along, I think. If it warps other magic, it should effect spells cast by other magic, though I'm not entirely certain how."

Dhein gestured vaguely. "It would cannibalize spells left in its presence, perhaps? Long term enchantments placed on or around the plant?"

"Ahah, it sounds like we need to set up a number of just such enchantments for observation, then," she spoke without looking up, seemingly just inspecting a root that had pushed through a crack in the plant's original pot and now drove a long groove through the floor.

With a sigh, Dhein took a long, thin piece of cloth that might have been a sash and ran it over his hair, pulling it back behind his head and tying it. "Perhaps try casting something on the offshoots?"

Humming vaguely, Antimony straightened again, though only to cross the room to where her focus lay. It felt ice cold when she touched it, a sensation perceived down to her bones more than her dead skin. "Excellent idea." She turned her head towards him, offering a smile. Perhaps he had decided to move on from that book. "There are enough that we should be able to be quite thorough."

Letting his hair and the sash hang behind his back, Dhein smoothed out the wrinkles in his very-wrinkled robe. He frowned, then, at the failure of the wrinkle-smoothing. "I don't suppose a plant will mind a curse of tongues."

"Hm?" She adjusted the focus in her grip, eyes sliding over the protrusions of foreign, woody, dark tissue and tiny buds before shifting back to Dhein. "I... suppose it wouldn't. Though I'm not sure that is a spell I would like you casting. Would it even last long enough?"

"It wouldn't last very long on a person, but it would last plenty long on a plant. It wouldn't try to talk, you see. Why wouldn't you want me casting it?"

"It being a fel curse..." Antimony pressed her lips together and returned to the plant, focus in hand. Her shoulders rose and fell in a silent, empty sigh. "... Though I suppose that one is harmless enough."

"You wouldn't want to ban Fel from the study, would you? I think it's our best approximate."

"You are right, of course," Antimony murmured and considered the focus in her hand, the plant, and the potential spells at her own disposal. "Though in this case, approximates are not necessary. Theoretically any form of magic should work. But it is good to be thorough."

Dhein shrugged. "It might interact with different kinds of magic differently. I'll even use two completely different kinds of Fel spells. I'll curse one with tongues and give another a boon of intelligence."

Antimony chuckled, if briefly, at that. "Two very useful spells for a plant. So long as it possesses no heretofore hidden sentience." Her fingers tapped in thought against the focus, and distractedly she reached through it to tug on the powers emanating from the flower. If it was a spell, it was a very powerful one. "I suppose I can simply repeat the earlier bolster for stamina. And a few others."

Taking his Fel focus from where he'd left it across the room, Dhein absently poked the new buds that had grown on the plant at the staff's top. "What do you suppose the two spells were meant to do?"

A spidery network of nearly invisible shadow stretched between the plant and her focus, to her fingers. She felt it move beneath her skin. "I am not certain. What purpose is there in setting loose a spell that seemingly does nothing but alter what it touches?" She pressed her lips together briefly in thought. "We witnessed some rather striking effects first hand in the Barrens, though... I suppose it is difficult to say if that was the intended result."

"That would have been altering significantly more than spells."

"Indeed. It's possible there was something else at work there as well. Though... there is that axiom about simplicity in explanations."

"I don't think it's really simpler to say that a spell meant to alter other spells is also altering... whatever a spell would have to alter in order to cause..." His features twisted, and then he hefted his Fel staff and approached some outlying sprouts. "I will claim these two poor, lonely fools for my insidious machinations."

"We can consider that complication later, perhaps, when we better understand the base mechanism." Her lips quirked in stifled amusement at Dhein's declaration before the shadows pulled on her attention again. She forced herself to turn away from the central plant, however, and moved toward a lonesome sprout a short distance away that poked up along the path of the plant's root system. She blinked. It really had grown a great deal. "Though perhaps we should attempt to check in on the status of that region?" She shrugged and lifted her own focus. The spell she intended required very minimum amounts of Light, a deliberate decision on her part.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » November 26th, 2014, 11:57 pm

Dhein stood over his two sacrifices, looking at them like... two plants, really. His amusement waned, and so did the game. He brushed at his still-bleary eyes. "Oh, yes, really. That's something we should do more often, isn't it?"

Antimony nodded distractedly before taking her attention to her focus. Steeling herself visibly, she reached out for the energy that burned anathema to her existence, to pull it through her body and into the focus. Even in a minute trickle, it pulled the dead muscles along her spine tight and burned along the bones of her arm and hand.

In its wake, cold followed. She felt it roll up from her chest, into her ribs and shoulder. Her brow pulled down in a frown, and she hastened to cast the spell. Shadow wove thin networks across her skin beneath the sleeve of her robe, over her fingers. The clouded focus stone, partially obscured by foreign plant growth, flickered with white light for half a moment, and Antimony almost thought she'd lost the spell. Then the energy released and snapped to one of the sprouts at her feet, a thin net of bolstering magic laying over its narrow, twisted stem and leaves. She moved her staff to her other hand immediately and ran her freed fingers down the front of her robe in distraction.

The curses rolled swiftly from Dhein's tongue and focus. Curses did that. They were eager to be cast, always waiting just beneath the caster's skin, crouched on the back of the tongue waiting to pounce. The gift of Fel intelligence was itself was actually a curse as, a nightmare boon that Warlocks occasionally cast on themselves regardless. The ease with which the two spells leapt into the plants was refreshing. Dhein still had his talent.

Smiling with pride, Dhein turned to glance over at Antimony.

Shaking her hand as though dispelling something from it, Antimony considered another sprout before deciding to wait on casting a second spell. Her body still dimly protested the mild intrusion of Light from moments before.

Instead she half turned to glance towards Dhein and found herself meeting his gaze unexpectedly. "Mm? As I was saying - the Barrens. I don't recall hearing of any new developments, but..."

"Do you hear much news of anything in here?" Dhein chuckled.

"... I suppose not." She glanced around and then shrugged. "Well. We were considering setting a trap there, were we not? Perhaps..."

"Perhaps it would be good to get out and find out what's going on in the world besides. Something about..." Dhein pulled on his goatee and watched the ceiling. "War and a secret paradise full of massive, loveable peasants."

Yellow light flickered. "... What?"

"It's a rumor I heard." Dhein smiled and gestured grandly. "I knew continent untouched by war, overflowing with great food and happy, humble people. Of course, they're humble, so there's not much comfort. But one shouldn't complain about an overabundant content working class."

"What an... odd rumor." Her mouth quirked, and a moment later she shook her head in dismissal. "Well, regardless, I think it would be wise to seek out updated information."

"It can't be much harder than sussing out market information." Dhein stretched his limbs and walked to the door to peek out. "What time of day is it, about?"

"Time...? Oh, I don't... I haven't the foggiest." Antimony turned to watch Dhein, leaning slightly as though she could peer past him to the outside. "Morning? Evening?"

"It's light out. Hard to tell in the drag. How long was I asleep?"

"Ah..." Antimony glanced towards the hammock, and then the plant, and then Dhein. "... I suppose I lost track of that as well. No more than a... day? Or two."

Dhein's features skewed to one side. He turned to look down at Antimony. "You're aware it is not normal for me to sleep more than ten hours when I'm particularly tired?"

"Well, you did rather... exert yourself."

"Two days, though?" Dhein stretched his limbs more fervently. "No I'm afraid of blood clots."

"You are quite fine, I am sure," though Antimony furrowed her brow as she spoke. "... Blood clots. After two days? I am not even sure it was two full days..."

"Still. If I collapse unexpectedly we'll know why, and that increases my chances." Dhein shuts the door. "Now that you've mentioned it, I haven’t eaten in two days. I'm incredibly hungry."

Antimony blanched - or rather, did the undead impression of such an event - at that. "Oh! Oh, I completely... oh dear. Surely there is something left in our stores..." She half turned in place as though to go searching.

"I'll take care of feeding myself, Antimony." Dhein caught Antimony by the shoulder and stepped around her into the room. "Maybe you can gather supplies for our expedition out of the Drag?"

Pursing her lips, Antimony watched Dhein a moment before letting her shoulders droop in an empty sigh. "I suppose I shall. Do make sure you eat enough, though," she warned and then turned her attention to their various possessions around the room.

Dhein went to their shelves. They didn't have food. But, since he was the only person in residence who ate, he wasn't going to make a problem of it. He'd just get more while they were out. So instead, he just perused the shelf and looked thoughtful.

Antimony decided it wasn't likely to be a terribly long outing. She did, however, pack a few sheets of parchment and a pen in case they learned anything noteworthy. A small pouch of coins joined it - for any sustenance Dhein might need walking around Orgrimmar. Then she stood in indecision for a time before just shrugging and turning to where the elf browsed empty shelves. "... Ah. Well, I hope you are in the mood for... dried meat."

"That sounds incredible. We should buy some." He spun around, leaning forward and forcing a smile. "I've just eaten the last of the bread. Or a clump of earth shaped like bread. It can be difficult to tell them apart in Orgrimmar and I'm not sure there would even be much difference."

"We will find you something." Leaning slightly on her staff, Antimony slung the very lightly packed satchel over her shoulder.

* * *

Dhein ducked into the shadows of what seemed, to him, to have been the one building that had no moved, though it was now adorned in ugly, brown metal spikes and rivets that seemed more suited to a siege weapon than a building. He clutched the dried meat he'd purchased to his chest, noting a peppery smell to it, as though it had been prepared over gunpowder and oil.

"This is more disorienting than the first day I'd set foot in Orgrimmar. Have the Barrens gotten hotter?" He looked up at a new building that sat in the very center of the Valley of Strength, a great tower of the same ugly metal. Lines of heat roiled on its surface as though it were coated in a layer of oil.

Antimony kept close to Dhein as they walked, though her concern was less on the weather - which she hardly felt - and more on the looks she swore were pointed their way by guards that seemed more numerous than before. "Did you not say something about a happy people untouched by war? This seems rather the opposite..."

"Those happy people are far, far from here. The rumors I heard regarding the Horde and Alliance were somewhat less than positive." He put the food near his mouth as though to take a nervous bite of it, but simply let it sit against his lips. "Of course, I should have expected as much, with Garrosh Hellscream in charge. A name like Hellscream."

"Hm. So long as it does not impact our ability to continue work..." Furrowing her brow, she peered ahead of them. "You should eat more than only that piece of meat. And we should bring enough non-perishables back that you won't starve..."

"That's well and good, but we should get them on the return trip." Sweat beaded on Dhein's forehead and cheek bones. His eyebrows seemed to droop. "I find myself pressing against a sense of foreboding."

"Foreboding?" Antimony managed to sound dubious even as she inspected the sideways glances of the guards they passed. "I'll admit a reluctance to leave the plant untended for too long..."

"Oh, it's not that. You don't feel... unwelcome?"

Lips pursing, Antimony tapped bone thin fingers against the leather strap of her satchel. "The city does seem to have a rather... hostile air to it." She paused, hesitant, and then added quieter, "Do you notice something different about the kind of people around?"

Dhein leaned away from Antimony and looked at her sideways. "Well let's not be racist."

"Oh come now! That's not--you know what I--Dhein!" Antimony protested.

"Well." Dhein rubbed his neck. "I suppose that everyone seems a bit... better armed?"

Antimony frowned. "No. Well yes, but I meant... well..." She wrinkled her nose. "Oh, I swear I am not being racist. But..."

Rolling his eyes, Dhein turned towards Antimony, "I'm sorry I said anything. What?"

Antimony gestured vaguely to the orcs around them. "It is Orgrimmar, I know, but... well. Where is... everyone else?"

This turned Dhein's gaze around him, to the many Orcs, and at this point he noticed an Orc guard giving him an unfriendly enough look that he blanched at the sight of it, immediately averting his gaze to Antimony. "I see what you mean. Maybe they've converted this area to a militarized district. Right at the... front gates of the city... That doesn't make sense."

Antimony leaned away from said orc guard slightly, frown deepening. "Some sort of... political statement on the new warchief's part? I... haven't the foggiest."

"That would explain the metal spikes on everything." Dhein pulled at his beard and cast his eyes to the cranes working on turning the front gate into some kind of reinforced wall. "They could also be expecting Alliance attacks in the latter parts of a coming war. What must the steel and iron market be like now?"

Antimony balked a little at that. Skipping the economic consideration for the moment, she worried, "Alliance attacks - on Orgrimmar? That seems..." She glanced around. "Perhaps we should consider building a plan of escape."

"Well, that's a bit extreme." He gestured to Orgrimmar's outer wall with a chuckle. "I mean, open war with the Alliance is conceptually terrifying, but really, who is going to get through THAT gate?"

"I suppose it could just be for show... Hn, depending on how long this has been going on, the metals market may be completely saturated."

"Markets always swell in times of war. And we would be the last brokers to know about it, making that barrier of entry to most markets prohibitive."

Antimony nodded and tapped her chin. "It would be wiser to invest in more... short term supplies. Food crops." She chuckled mildly. It always came down to food with the living.

"Well, did we come out to make money or to check on the state of things? We might well ask about all our quandaries."

Shaking herself, Antimony reined her thoughts back in. "Ah, yes, of course... As soon as we come across someone who does not look liable to behead us." She glanced uneasily around as they left the Drag fully, entering into the more open market around the Valley of Honor. She recalled many stalls of boisterous and very busy vendors. The busy seemed to have remained, but many vendors were gone, and the atmosphere was much more militant.

The sales tactics were much more militant, as well, and the food more strong-smelling. Dhein cringed at the thought that someone might throw a spiced hog snout at his head, but he continued, weathering looks from Orcs that seemed to range from aggressive to suspicious. "I wonder if they look it everyone like that. I don't have any soulstones or Fel iconography showing, do I?"

"I... no?" Antimony gave Dhein a cursory once-over anyway before looking out around them again. She huffed and stepped past him, towards the closest guard. "Well, dallying about isn't doing either of us any good... Ah, sir! Guard, if you have a mome--" The orc lurched towards them, large green fingers tapping his weapon suggestively. "--eaaah nevermind!" She retreated back towards Dhein hastily.

Dhein caught Antimony and redirected her towards where he remembered the auction house being. Surely something so important as the trade center of the city couldn't have been moved. "I wonder if Garrosh and the Dark Lady are egaged in some kind of argument again."

"... Perhaps," Antimony muttered, smoothing her dress down compulsively as she walked to calm herself. They came upon the auction house in its expected location, but even this place seemed to have not escaped untouched. There still persisted harried bidding wars between merchants, but there was a tension in the room that was only really possible when dozens of orcs were in one location and feeling no need to hold back. She glanced around uncertainly. "... Surely they would respect fellow manag...oh! I should see if my Orgrimmar contact is on shift now."

"Yes, please, do that. I will... follow and listen. And remain close. Very close."

Antimony didn't exactly protest. She kept as close as she could to Dhein as well as they squeezed between the crowd, thankful that at least most of the orcs in the crowded building were distracted with their business. It was with mild relief that she found goblins still at the helm of the auction managing - at least one thing had not changed - but her relief was short-lived. "... I do not see him at all." She peered through the crowd, stretching up on her toes as much as she could manage. "And come to think of it, I do not see any of the usual merchants, either..."

Dhein looked around as well. He had not done business in Orgrimmar on a regular basis, so he did not have a collection of connections and knowledge to pull on as Antimony had. Predictably, his green eyes picked out nothing of worth. "Perhaps we can ask after some significant names?"

"Certainly. There was an older troll by the name of Jalo'ji, who frequently collated market shifts for me while I was back in Undercity. He was well-regarded. Surely..." Gathering herself, she approached a merchant who seemed the least distracted by business. "Excuse me! Have you seen Jalo'ji around lately?" The orc glanced towards them and then glowered.

Standing close to and just slightly behind Antimony, Dhein observed in a whisper, "Not the most informative answer."

"Shush, perhaps he didn't hear," Antimony muttered chidingly, and then raised her voice as best she could above the din of the crowd, "I said, has Proprietor Jalo'ji done business here late...ly?" Antimony trailed off suddenly as the orc turned towards them, and tapped another individual on the shoulder as he moved.

"You shouldn't be here, corpse," he growled, rolling one muscled shoulder, "You and the pointy-eared princess better get off to where you belong."

Antimony just stammered for several seconds, flabbergasted.

Dhein smiled, stepping forward and running a hand over one ear. "Well, I'm certainly no princess, but I could pull it off. However." His smile fled. "The rest of your statement shames you. We are sorry to have prompted it. Returned to your business."

"Indeed," Antimony huffed after a moment, looking flustered and drawing herself up to her meager height. Setting a hand on Dhein's arm, she started backwards. "I don't think we'll get anything of use from here."

"Something has certainly changed." He took her hand and withdrew.

Pursing her lips, Antimony let out another huff once they were back outside the auction house. "That was... That was absurd. What on Azeroth is going on in this city?"

"I didn't encounter this in the Drag. Though, now that I think about it, there has been a shift in demographics in that area." He pulled on his beard. "I hadn't thought to notice."

"Whatever it is, it seems to have complicated our plans," Antimony muttered unhappily. She cast a quick glance around them, catching a pair of orc guards muttering to each other and looking suspiciously their way. The undead woman fidgeted with the front of her dress in frustration.

Dhein's reaction was contemplative and measured, cowed as he was by the massive orcs covered in armor and adorned in weapons, as well as all of their unfriendly looks. "It seems to have placed a dead weight on our reputations at the very least. Perhaps we should return to Drag and make more general inquiries of those I've done more recent business with."

"Hm." She turned once more to look back towards the hostile auction house and then just huffed and began to step away. "That would likely be our best chance now. Perhaps they can tell us what has gone wrong in Orgrimmar, as well."

"And if perhaps there is a less hostile place to test the markets. Wasn't there another auction house in northern Orgrimmar?" Dhein turned to walk back towards the Drag with Antimony. Orcish glares followed him.

"Ah... yes, to the north, in the Valley of Honor." She hesitated in her words as they walked, bony fingers idly picking out a steady rhythm against the strap of her satchel. "Though... I shudder to think what the military district might be like, given what we've seen so far."

"That's not promising." Dhein's commentary was brief. Returning to the shadow of the Drag was far quicker than exiting it had been, the unfriendly glares like a wind at their back.

"No, likely not." That thought pulled her frown deeper, though her posture relaxed slightly as they moved through the more shaded, narrow canyon of the Drag. "Mm. You have done business with others nearby? Please, lead the way."

"Oh, yes. That... yes... maybe..." He slowed and pondered.

Antimony turned a curious, sideways look towards Dhein. "What is it? This is rather important."

"Well, yes, but on the case of the people I do business with." Dhein straightened one eyebrow. "They can be rather antisocial. Secretive. Rude, one could even say. Not forthcoming to those they do not know."

"Oh, I see." A pause. "Who are they?"

"They are. Uhm. They. Produce reagents by... Uhm." Dhein looked at the sky, then at the walls, then pulled on his beard. "See, they live in the Cleft of Shadows. Growing mushrooms! In the dark. They grow underground herbs. Very useful reagents!"

Antimony gave the elf a flat look. "I've spent much time in Orgrimmar, Dhein. You should not lie to me."

"I’m not lying to you. Such an accusation!" Dhein was thoroughly affronted. "Sure, the cleft of shadows has a poor reputation, but where else in this city would be consistently dark and cool enough to grow a healthy population of mushrooms and underground lichens?"

"... Mhm." Reaching up to pinch the bridge of her nose briefly, Antimony thought for a moment and then, "Very well. Shall I return to check on the plant, then?"

"It's only been alone for fifteen minutes. I'm sure it's fine."

"We have never left it alone for such a time before," Antimony countered, though only mildly. "Have you changed your mind about your contacts' dispositions?"

"Ah, no. I suppose not. Though, if I hear that there is another place where one can barter in Orgrimmar, I will return quickly that we might set out again."

Arching her brow, Antimony replied, "I would expect nothing less, of course." Then she just dropped her shoulders in an empty mimic of a sigh. "Please be careful. Oh, and--" She shifted to dip her hand into her satchel and pulled out a small coinpurse, handing it to Dhein, "--get yourself sustenance that will store for a time. We've the budget for it."
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » November 30th, 2014, 12:03 pm

Dhein made his return to the home he shared with Antimony roughly an hour after parting from her. His journey did, in fact, take him to reagents vendors and mushroom-growers in the Cleft of Shadows. That these vendors had Fel iconography carved into the flesh of their extremities was, to Dhein, a completely alternative matter. Wisely, he chose to procure his food elsewhere, however.

And so it was that when he pushed open the door to their home (he had to stop himself from knocking, knowing that at this point in the relationship women tended to take such gestures as outlandish and slightly insulting), burdened only by a small bag of foodstuffs and stinking only very slightly of demonic energies. "The numbers of rumors regarding intercontinental politics are staggering. Literally. I staggered upon counting them. Almost fell."

It took a few moments for Antimony to react to Dhein's return. She had her back to the door and stood idly in front of the plant, one hand held out slightly and turned palm up. She seemed to be watching something, though it wasn't immediately apparent what. The chill aura that permeated the room seemed perhaps a degree or two colder but there was otherwise nothing amiss.

When Antimony did lift her head finally, she turned half towards him with a vaguely inquiring, "Hm?" There was a beat and then she shook herself. "... Ah. Yes. More rumors? I had been hoping for something a bit more solid."

"The following is solid: the Trolls and Tauren in Orgrimmar have been relegated to districts set aside for them, and all permanent Forsaken inhabitants of the city have been expelled." Dhein shut the door behind him, leaning against it. "This is very recent. They've either missed you or haven't bothered to look through the Drag for stragglers yet."

Antimony felt her spine stiffen, pulling her upright sharply. She turned to better face Dhein, though her eyes, the light dim in her sockets, flicked off to one side anxiously. "Expelled," she huffed and flexed her fingers into the front of her dress. "What nonsense drove them to do such a thing?"

"Sylvanas is raising more Forsaken." This was said with direct certainty, letting it contain all its own implications on its own. "Garrosh is probably overreacting. But he's an orc. They're tribal. They like having allies, as long as their allies don't gain more power than they have."

Antimony kept quiet for a time, not certain how she should feel about such a thing. Instinct was revulsion towards the thought of others being made to experience this non-life, but... she was also well aware of her people's limit, as all Forsaken likely were, and they had lost many to war. Antimony's lips pursed. When she spoke, it was to instead say, "I suppose I should refrain from venturing to the streets again for now. At least until this has blown over. What of the elves?"

He shook his head. "There's no specific word on the Sin'dorei, though I doubt I'm much more welcome than you. My people never populated this city enough to warrant and edict."

"This is troublesome," Antimony muttered and turned back to the plant. Her arms folded across her stomach. "Did you learn anything of what has been going on in the Barrens?"

"Militarization. Exploitation of natural resources. Open conflict between Northwatch and the Tauren. A wall has been built between Mulgore and the Barrens. Theramore Isle, the Alliance's only actual settlement on Kalimdor, no longer exists."

"A result of the corruption, do you think? Or... simply an extension of what has happened here in Orgrimmar?"

"Something that extreme has to be global. No, that's just the motions of conflict." Dhein seemed to recall where he was and stepped further into the room, walking his bag of foodstuffs over to a shelf in placing in shadow. "I wasn't able to find any details on the Overgrowth specifically. There's so much going on, that nobody seems to be looking at it."

"I suppose that is for the best. It is perhaps some assurance that the original source has not been tampered with." Her fingers tapped slowly against her sides. "Unless, of course, it has simply been done away with completely and thus fallen out of mind."

"Assuming it was ever in mind in the first place. Given the situation, I hesitate to propose an expedition." He faced Antimony, holding his Fel staff beside him. "Besides the obviously heightened danger of traveling in that region, if we leave Orgrimmar we may not be able to reenter."

Grey lips pursed tighter, brow drawing down unhappily. "You are right," she acknowledged with a reluctant twist of her lips. "Does that then mean we must also give up our venture to retrieve the sniffer?"

Dhein pondered that. "I think it means... we need to be creative. The plant's energies magnified the effect of my scrying. I wonder how they would take to summoning an Eye."

"You think summoning would be wise, given what we've seen of this magic so far?" Antimony arched a brow and gestured towards the plant. Her hand didn't drop at the end of the gesture, remaining near the shadows in its leaves. "What could an Eye do for us that scrying could not?"

"An eye is different." Dhein held up his hands and approached Antimony. "It's a more advanced spell. It lets the caster see, move and hear as a ghost. Scrying only gives locations and impressions. With an Eye, I could actually see the Overgrowth. If I could cast it at such range."

"That would be quite far... Though if it worked, I suppose it would answer at least one of our questions." Antimony curled her fingers near the plant, feeling a shifting cold between her bones. "I am wary to attempt summoning anything with this magic, however."

"If I just use Fel, the concept is laughable. It only works if the plant's magic magnifies the spell significantly." Dhein stopped in front of Antimony, fixing both hands on his staff. He shrugged. "Our alternative is to abandon all hope of seeking this knowledge. Or, to find some way to sneak into the city once we've left. Which we would need in order to make an attempt at the sniffer anyway."

Antimony let out a short, annoyed sound. "Light blasted orcs and their ways." Something swelled in her chest, and the light in her eyes flickered. "Our chances of sneaking past the level of security they now have in place seem next to nothing now. Hn." She tapped the heel of one foot against the ground a few times in frustrated thought. "... I suppose that act is better than none. If you are certain of its safety, we shall try the Eye."

"If I'm certain?" Dhein smirked. "In experimentation, nothing is certain."

"Reasonable expectation, Dhein!" Antimony waved one hand. "I won't have you overtly risking yourself. The base spell is rather tame, is it not?"

"Of course. And the plant's magic has not done any harm to me yet."

"Hm." After a moment, she nodded. "Very well. Let us see what comes of it."

"Excellent. I'll move on it immediately if you don't mind." Dhein walked back to the shelves, where the many reagents were piled. "The Tauren and Troll districts may be more welcoming to us, and apparently they have a modest economic interface there that we might be able to make use of."

Antimony looked off to one side. "I am unsure it would be wise to risk exposing myself to potential... expelling."

"It hardly seems wise to live in hiding, though, does it?" Dhein procured his sack of soulstones, the green-glowing energy of living beings hissing as he pulled it from the shelf. "Unfortunately, we can't precisely relocate at this point."

"No... it would be overly difficult even if the opportunity presented itself," Antimony agreed. She watched him retrieve reagents mildly.

Dhein carried the soulstones to the table and set it aside. The table was covered in tomes and papers, and he began to pile these on the floor so that he could work on the table itself. "A summoning spell could be a handy way to circumvent security. One of us could leave. You. And then I could summon you back into Orgrimmar."

"They certainly would be happy to see me gone," Antimony observed in a rather bland tone. Still, her eyes brightened slightly with interest. "And yet that is perhaps the closest to an actionable plan we have come to yet. It might even be of use in taking back the sniffer..."

"Once we find it." Dhein took an inkwell in hand and looked back at Antimony. "Do you object to having Fel iconography permanently stained onto the tabletop?"

Antimony made a face at that. "It would certainly hamper my ability to use it for other magical purposes. Is there not a more temporary alternative?"

Dhein shrugged. "I could put it on the bottom of the table. Or the floor. Back of the bookshelf?"

"Ah, perhaps..." One foot tapped. "Yes, by the books. The shelf or floor. Or perhaps that wall? Some place out of the way so it does not interfere with other magical frequencies."

Straightening his eyebrows, Dhein hummed. "Actually, you know what? I have a better idea." He took the ink and walked toward the shelf, beside it, and began to work in the corner where the side of the shelf met the wall. He drew lines on the shelf and the wall by dipping his fingertip in the ink.

"Hm?" Antimony turned her head to watch him work, while her fingers idly turned over the plant in front of her.

"Just a moment. Or, rather, a minute. Several of those, actually." The pattern Dhein drew was complex, but dense. When he stepped back, half a circle was present on the wall, and the other at a ninety-degree angle to it on the bookshelf, both of them meeting to form the complete symbol. He gestured to it, "And when I'm done with the spell, we just push the shelf a few inches to one side, breaking the rune and rendering it powerless."

Antimony inclined her head slightly, a faint curve to her lips. "Very clever," she spoke with satisfaction.

"It's a trick used commonly with the most dangerous of spells. I once read about a spell so dangerous, that the rune was drawn in coals on a burning floor of thatch, which the caster set in the center of. If the spell was not completed in time, the floor would crumble, and the caster would plummet to his death."

Both brows lifted at that. "Rather extreme. You will not be making use of anything nearly so dangerous." There was no room for question in that. "At any rate. Shall we take a peek at the Overgrowth?"

Dhein reached into the bag of soulstones and took one out. Briefly, he stopped to wonder about how this was going to work. The soulstone would power the spell with the sacrifice of a captured soul, but this would summon Fel universally. He did not intend to use Fel. He intended to use the consuming energy from the plant. In order for this to work, the plant's energy would have to either cooperate with the power from the soulstone, or just ignore it.

He stood looking at the soulstone in his hand. "I do wish we knew what kind of spell we are dealing with. If indeed that's what it is."

"We may be able to learn more of it by examining further where it came from," Antimony reasoned. "Though... we've our experiments established here, that will only take some time to mature."

"Hm." Dhein blinked at the stone in his hand. Then he extended his staff towards the plant and drew on its power, letting it fill the staff and the focus, letting it spread throughout the rune. The chill washed through his limbs, stirring in the air about him. It was no longer a distressing sensation. In fact, it was much preferred to the oppressive heat outside of this room.

The soulstone in Dhein's hand broke and the soul inside was released. A brief howl of spectral lamentation shivered through the room, and then the soul was swept into the spell. Into the rune. Normal it would slide idle like a bloated corpse bobbing in the surf, but the soul seemed to shiver in the embrace of the Fel as it moved. Dhein sensed this as the will of the Fel moved, and the bored disinterest of the chill stirred in grudging agreement.

Dhein's eyes glowed brightly as a bulging shape formed from the rune, an orb emerging from the wall. Instead of the dark purple-brown a normal Eye would be, this one was a hazy, clouded color. A blind man's eye. Dhein worried he might not see anything at all.

Antimony could not hide her discomfort at the witness of the spell. She shifted her weight, frowning towards the clouded eye that pushed from the wall like some hideous pustule. Her undead muscles tightened in distaste, but these things were easily set aside with a reminder of the importance of their goal. She chose not to speak for now, not wishing to interrupt Dhein's work. At least he had not accidentally summoned some uncontrollable demon.

The Eye throbbed, like a migraine, like a pulse. That was not normal. It eased towards Dhein's outstretched hand, bulging from the wall as though out of a eye socket. Its clouded pupil, a long gray slit the dilated turned and perused the room lazily, without seeing. Then the eye looked at Antimony, and stared at her.

Antimony flinched almost imperceptibly and then blinked back at the eye. Something stirred in her dead veins, like an echo, like something reaching. The light in her sockets flickered to a low flame, and she glanced towards Dhein for half a second before her gaze snapped back to the eye.

Dhein frowned at the misbehaving eye and pushed the spell towards completion. The eye receded and vanished in response, whisking away. Hopefully towards the Overgrowth. If it could not reach that far, then it would likely die somewhere in between. "There we are. Let's see what I can see."

"Very good," Antimony murmured, watching where the eye had been. Her fingers flexed distractedly.

Remaining in the same pose as he had been while casting the spell, one hand on his staff beside him, one hand extended towards the rune to maintain his connection with the eye, Dhein's brow knitted. He moved his fingers, pulling on the spell's energies like string. Where Fel would normally be responsive, the energies of the plant were elastic and nearly intangible. "I don't have control over the eye."

"You..." Antimony frowned sharply. She glanced towards Dhein's face, then to the rune on the wall. "... Can you see through it?"

"Yes. The spell is not broken. I merely lack the ability to steer the Eye." Dhein's frustration was demonstrated more by his continued attempts to change the spell, which would not be altered, than by his tone. "I do not believe that it is going south. It is moving far too quickly for me to make out details, but the motion relative to the sun says it is going east. Perhaps somewhat south. Ocean. The Eye has wandered significantly."

"That... is not at all what we'd wanted to get from it." Antimony's own frustration was much more apparent in her tone. She did lighten somewhat, however, with an added, "Though I suppose this is an opportunity to learn something more of the magic. Let us see where it wishes to go, hm?"

"Stormwind." Dhein answered, sounding vexed. "It moved quickly and then stopped. It's gone all the way across the world to, I think, follow the tone of my previous scrying spell."

"What? So it... it remembers? How strange, and yet..." Antimony's head tilted slightly, curious. "What do you see?"

"Dark figures." Dhein shook his head. "Nonsensical images, perhaps. Buildings and streets with shadowy people standing upon them. The streets are empty. It is not night but it is dark. Nonsensical images."

"That doesn't make... well. Nonsensical," Antimony muttered, shaking her head slightly. She took a few steps towards Dhein. "Are they... doing anything? The shadowy people. Surely it would not show us something make-believe."

"Not so much make-believe as misrepresented. Not all beings and wills see the world the same way. I could be seeing ghosts, or some metaphysical representation of a thing I'll never be able to interpret. And no, the figures aren't doing anything." Dhein pushed and pulled on the eye to try and get it to move, but it just hung in the air.

"Be that as it may..." Pursing her lips, Antimony watched Dhein and the rune alternately. "This certainly gives us an unprecedented glimpse into the will of the spell. I find myself wondering if it is really only recalling the scrying. Or is there something in Stormwind?" She paused and thought for a moment. "... Though, if it were following a metaphysical connection, surely it would have gone to the Overgrowth instead..."

"I don't think we could discern that without knowing what kind of spell it is. There's something in the road beneath me. Maybe I can get the Eye to descend. It's so focused on these shadows." Dhein pulled on the spell, frowning more deeply. "Slow, but, some response. I can see... Most disturbing."

"What?" It was encouraging that the eye seemed to have listened, if only marginally. "Dhein, is something wrong?"

"... It's a body. A particularly ugly death."

Antimony blanched, empty eyes widening. "A... coincidence? Stormwind is a large city. Ah, murder certainly isn't... well."

Dhein's tone turned grim. "It's the priest who stole your machine."

Antimony went silent at that, mouth opening slightly in shock. "... not a coincidence, then," she muttered.

"She seems to have been tormented extensively. I can't tell how or why, though." Dhein's tone eased towards a more contemplative acceptance. "This makes me think the Eye has simply chosen the same target as the scrying. I wonder if what I am seeing is true."

"You think it might fabricate a vision? That would seem rather odd... for what purpose.."

"Not fabricate. Misrepresent. Or misperceive and translate poorly. An improperly cast Eye might see things that aren't there, or that are there but aren't tangible. We could be seeing her psychological state, or a nightmare, or some alien concept we don't have a word for." Dhein's gaze was transfixed on the symbol, looking over the tormented body a world away from him. "If it is true, however, I wonder if it has meaning. This death was not an accident, and it was not fast."

Fingers fidgeting with the front of her robe, Antimony frowned in discomforted thought. "If it is true... Perhaps she was also attempting to work with this magic, and something went wrong?"

"Perhaps. I wish I could see more, but the Eye won't respond to my directions. It's just floating there."

"Bother," Antimony murmured. "Is there anything else at all?"

Dhein shook his head. "No. Just the dead priest. I'd look around for the sniffer if I had control, but I don't. If she proves dead in fact, I'm not sure how we'll ever find it again."

Antimony felt her hand tighten into a fist and grew strangely cold, though she barely recognized the sensation for what it was. "We will hope she is not in fact, but I suppose we must begin to consider the worst. It would be typical. She had not a clue what she was dealing with." The empty chill snaked up her arm, beneath her skin, and her brow pulled down in an annoyed frown. "I suppose we may need to rely upon that summoning plan now, if we want to learn of the Overgrowth."

"Yes, that's true. If the eye won't obey, then I can't really explore much." Dhein shook his head in contempt of the failed spell. Then his glowing eyes widened. "Ho, what's this, now? Why is there an Orc in Stormwind?"

Antimony did a stationary double-take towards Dhein. "A... what now?" Her lips pursed. "It must truly be showing us nonsense..."

"An Orc and a Draenei in the alleyway with the corpse. Speaking with one another." Dhein's left eyebrow twitched, and he resisted the urge to straighten it out, opting instead to maintain his connection with the errant Eye. "Nonsensical images. When I'm done suffering them, I'll scry the priest once more. I won't be surprised to find that she is alive and well."

Antimony huffed and gestured in wordless frustration with one hand. "Wonderful. What purpose could the spell have in showing us such rubbish? Can you make out any of the conversation?"

"No. Normally the Eye can hear as well, but the sound is whispers. Like wind. Echoing very far away." He shook his head. "I can't even make out the tone of conversation."

Tapping one foot, Antimony glared towards the runic carving on the wall and bookshelf. "Perhaps this "orc" is not truly an orc. If either of them exist at all. If there are people there, they may be magically shrouding their words? What about their, hm, their body language."

"The Dranei is skittish and limping. Which is not surprising for a Draenei that is in the company of an Orc." He shook his head again. "Wait, now, the Orc seems to be looking at the eye. That's unusual. And of course the thing won't move. I'm beginning to think-"

Dhein's complaints were truncated when a burst of warm power flashed out of the rune, breaking part of the bookshelf into splinters and knocking the elf back several paces.

"Dhein!" Antimony hurried forward, flicking her eyes between the bookshelf and the elf. "Are you alright? Did the spell turn on you? What happened?"

Dhein glared at the shattered rune in surprise and offense. "... I think that Orc dispelled my Eye! How dare she!"

Letting one hand hover near his back, Antimony turned her gaze to where Dhein looked, to the ruined shelf and rune. A large number of books had collapsed to the floor and now lay in a disorderly heap. She pressed her lips together. "I suppose that confirms that the individuals were real."

"Well something real happened. Runes don't just explode." Dhein straightened. "I don't know how much I believe of Orcs in Stormwind and shadowy figures on rooftops."

"But it was someone, for certain. And now I find myself wondering about that human woman..." Antimony's brows knit tightly together. "Scry for her. We must confirm that she yet lives."

Dhein held up a hand, "I'd like a break for casting my senses to the other side of the world, considering they just exploded, thank you."

Antimony gave a reluctant nod, though after a moment her expression eased. She turned her face towards Dhein. "Did it hurt? Perhaps you should sit down for a moment."

Keeping his hand up, Dhein closed his eyes and shook his head slowly. "No, it wasn't painful. It was jsut." His eyes snapped open and he suddenly straightened his eyebrows. "Uncomfortable. She broke our bookshelf. That's just unforgivably rude."

"Very much so," Antimony agreed with a huff. "I do not think manners were in any part her concern, which is unfortunate. But truly, if it affected you enough to rest, sit. I do not want you hurting yourself."

"After two days of sleep, the thought of rest is stressful to me. I will rest by standing awake." Dhein dropped his hands to his staff, looking over at Antimony. "At any rate, this does not touch the issue of investigating the overgrowth."

Antimony spent a few more moments studying Dhein's expression and posture, before finally inclining her head in agreement. "No. With Orgrimmar and the Eye proven unhelpful, it seems our only option to renew observations of the Overgrowth is to witness it in person."

"And that means you are going to have to leave to look into it. While I remain."

Antimony frowned and glanced to one side, then towards the plant. "I certainly do not relish the idea. But we must find out what has become of that jungle."

"Another alternative is simply asking someone else to do so through correspondence."

Antimony lifted a brow at that. "Do you have someone in mind?"

"Unfortunately, no. What contacts in Kalimdor I once had were mostly dispersed by the Cataclysm."

Antimony hummed lowly at that, pursing her lips in thought. "... I fear many of my own contacts may have done the same since whatever change overtook the Horde. Now, there might be Naunet..." She grimaced and shook her head. "No, but I haven't the foggiest where she might be, and she has nowhere near the head for such a venture."

Pulling on his beard, Dhein muttered, "Perhaps my daughter. If the letter did not come from me. And she was in the proper mind. And in the right part of the world... That is a rather unwieldy number of conditions."

"Far too many, I imagine." The light in her sockets flickered. "I can think of no one else who may be both reliable and reachable."

"Not to mention confidential." Dhein sighed. Finally, he turned away from where he stood and paced into the room, pondering.

Antimony watched Dhein in turn, quiet for now. Her arms folded loosely across her chest, one finger tapping.

"Well." Dhein's spoke in an unhappy voice. "I don't like the thought of you traveling that part alone. Actually... I really, really, do not."

"Neither do I," Antimony admitted. Especially given word of how much the war had escalated in that region. "And yet, what other options do we have? Unless someone in the, what was it, the... troll district? Unless someone there has any knowledge of its status."

"Well, I'd like to in the very least ask around before committing to anything like that. Even if we find out nothing." Dhein paused in the center of the room, between several of the weeds, and looked over at Antimony. "I'm very close to forbidding such an expedition, given its parameters."

"Forbidding." Antimony arched one brow, expression shifting to one rather unimpressed. "You may request such a thing." She paused. "... We will seek out where they've sent the trolls, then. Though we might have better luck if we can find a Tauren, given the geography."

Dhein put a hand on his hip and gave Antimony an equally unimpressed look. "As though you've never forbidden me from doing anything."

"I am not debating the wisdom of it." Antimony huffed. "Did you not hear my agreement that we should exhaust all other options first?"

"Heard and accepted. My statement was to let you know where I stand on the issue currently. It was not a final resting point."

"Good." Her frown softened slightly. "Do you feel rested enough to attempt scrying that woman?"

"Yes, I do." He leaned his staff against the table and paced to the shelf, the reagents he required on the side opposite that which had been broken. Still, he picked through fragments of wood for a moment before retrieving what he needed.

Antimony gave the broken half of the shelf, and the clutter of books and othe objects beneath it, a disappointed look. Her fingers itched to reorganize them, but she wanted her focus on Dhein's task.

Dhein paused with the reagents in his hands, blinking down at them. He shook his head. "I'm not going to need these, am I?"

"Hm?" She blinked once and then lifted both brows. "Ah. Right. Given patterns so far..."

"Then all I need is the target." Dhein produced the dried ink, holding it beneath his fingertips. He walked back to the table with it, and took back up his staff. "Hopefully the spell is not more intense than it was last time. It was disconcerting then."

Furrowing her brow, Antimony followed Dhein to the table. "If it becomes too much, break it off immediately. It should only take a moment to learn of her status."

"Of course." Dhein reached out to the energy of the plant, but before he could touch it, the chill rushed up his arm. It wasn't the passive acceptance he had come to expected. This was like a winter breeze taking his hand, pulling him along, demanding to show him something. He closed his eyes against it. "Ugh. A body in a Cathedral. They're pulling shards of bone from her gut. Covering her neck where it was ripped open by armored hands. Her body twitches in their midst, but not with life. She makes dead sounds."

Reaching out, Antimony rest one hand lightly on Dhein's arm, her features twisting. She felt something stir in her veins from the proximity of Dhein's spell. "Dead... It was true, then. Light damn it."

Dhein nodded at that. "The Eye's perceptions seem fairly accurate to her wounds as well. One arm missing. Throat open. Impaled by bone. A painful, slow death. What did she do to bring it on herself, I wonder."

Antimony grimaced. "Surely it was more than simply stealing the sniffer. Is anyone speaking of what happened?"

Long eyebrows dipping, Dhein gave Antimony a look. "I'm scrying, not spying. This isn't an Eye."

"Yes, yes, alright." Antimony's shoulders lifted and fell in an empty sigh. "That's enough, I think... I had hoped for a different outcome."

"I'm not sure why the body is moving. It must be some kind of post-mortem muscle spasm? Do humans do that?"

Antimony looked away, as though she could see the image Dhein described. "... No. That does not sound natural."

Dhein just waved it off. "I'm over worrying about the trouble this woman has gotten herself into. The scrying is certain that she is dead."

"Very well." Antimony nodded to herself, frowning. "I am not pleased with what this means for retrieving the sniffer."

"The most vexing part is that the sniffer still exists. THere's just no way to find it."

Dropping one arm, Antimony thudded a fist against her thigh in frustration. "Well. Let us at least act on the other question still open to us. Perhaps something new will come up."

"Do you feel like risking an outing to the Troll or Tauren districts?"

"It seems a necessary risk - and a lesser one than the alternative," Antimony reasoned, though truthfully, the thought of facing those orc guards again was a bit disconcerting.

"Better than going anywhere else in the city. The Drag is not fair from the Tauren district, and I believe that is not far from the Troll district." Dhein took his staff and walked across to the shelf where he'd left his food. He dusted splintered wood off of it. "We hopefully won't have to pass through any problematic areas."

Smoothing down the front of her dress - a gesture that didn't actually make any difference to the already tidy state of her clothing - Antimony nodded. "It will be good to find people who may not glower at us so." She turned then, towards the door.

"The Horde is different now. I find myself wishing we would've settled in Mulgore." Dhein removed some dried bread and populated his robe's pockets with it.

"I think we would have had an exponentially more difficult time continuing our research there, unfortunately," Antimony muttered by the door, glancing over her shoulder to watch Dhein.

"We couldn't move there now. I suppose going over should-haves is worthless."

"Indeed. We have done quite well for ourselves here, and despite... complications, are still poised to advance." Her lips quirked a bit. "Now. The Tauren would be our best chance, given their proclivities for nature and the Overgrowth's proximity to Mulgore. Surely at least one of them has heard something."

Turning from the shelf, Dhein hefted his staff slightly. "Shall we then? I still have a lot of sleep that I need to work off before I'm tired again."

Antimony chuckled mildly at that. "Yes. Let's." Pressing the door open, she stepped out into the heat of Orgrimmar once more.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » December 1st, 2014, 1:39 am

Dhein was less than pleased with Orgimmar's ongoing heat. Perhaps he would have urged a delay until evening if he were not so eager to put two days of sleep and unsettling magical visions behind him. As it was, he was glad that a measure of the room's chill stuck to his robe and his staff as he and Antimony walked north through the Drag towards the westward curve that would lead them to the Tauren. "It makes a strange sort of sense that Thrall's old seat of power has been handed off to the Tauren. In a way, Garrosh is calling both his predecessor and his allies lesser."

"Considering what we've seen so far, I think it likely he's said the same in much less metaphorical ways as well," Antimony muttered, ever unmoved by the change in temperature, though she could feel in her bones the lingering aura of the plant that clung to them both. A couple guards gave them the stink eye as they approached where the Drag opened up into the Valley of Wisdom, but they were lucky in that none of them made to accost them further. Silently Antimony wondered how long that good fortune would last, if Garrosh truly had attempted to run out all Forsaken from this city.

The yellow light in her sockets appeared a few shades brighter in the sun, and she turned that light ahead of them. She could already make out the towering totems and animal hide tents the Tauren had erected. Recalling the massive race's history of at least neutral acceptance with Forsaken, Antimony let herself relax slightly, though she kept close to Dhein. "I wonder if we could send word to Vendetta Point."

"Vendetta Point? That is... Ah, yes, that settlement where the... Oh." Dhein grew silent as unpleasant memories were churned in his mind. He and Antimony had left the camp under the most disturbing of circumstances. "Perhaps that is a place we should inquire as to the status of as well. Hopefully their fates improved."

Antimony nodded. "It would give us insight into a second dimension of the issue, certainly. Perhaps one of the Tauren here may know something of it as well." As she spoke this, she looked around for one such Tauren who wasn't indisposed.

Dhein lingered. His gaze was directed downward, his attention, inward. "It occurs to me we should have kept closer track of the events that we witnessed in the Barrens. It was difficult to look at, and so I did not. In retrospect, I can see there is a blind spot in my knowledge that I would wish filled."

Shifting her gaze from the Tauren around them and back to Dhein, Antimony furrowed her brow. "It is a regrettable but understandable reality. At the time, I did not think to inspect it closer, either. But." She gestured vaguely with one hand towards the Tauren. "At least now we can learn something of the present. Hopefully."

"In the least, we should hear rumors." Dhein lifted his gaze, looking around him like he was suddenly unsure of where he was. "Let's find their economic center. Businesspeople are more willing to speak with strangers about a variety of topics."

"Indeed." Antimony began forward again, dismissing a cluster of totems interspersed with a number of Tauren that appeared to be carrying out varying shamanic rituals. Her gaze crossed the valley towards a cluster of tents in the back and recognized the crates and piles of goods near one as the trappings of a merchant. Altering her trajectory, Antimony made for those tents.

Dhein followed behind Antimony as though an assistant. "You should do the talking. I believe the Tauren are fonder of the Forsaken than the Sin'Dorei."

Antimony answered Dhein by taking action. As they neared the tents, she peered around and settled on the first Tauren she could find who did not appear absorbed in other work. As far as Antimony could tell, the Tauren woman was a merchant, lingering just inside the nearest tent and by a number of soft furs and hides, various knick-knacks, and tools of crafts. Antimony approached in a calm but purposeful manner, speaking without preamble, "Excuse me. Do you have a moment? I've some questions we are attempting to find answers to."

Dhein took a position behind Antimony with his hands behind his back, trying to appear as a hireling and lend Antimony further credence as someone worth the time.

The Tauren woman that Antimony spoke to lifted her gaze from the hides she had been gazing upon, massive fingers curling through the fur with an appraising caution. The Tauren gazed at the side of the tent in the thought, and then turned to look Antimony over. "Unusual."

Antimony blinked at that but tried not to let her confusion through. "Yes, then? Good." She gestured vaguely with one pale hand. "You are the merchant of these goods, yes? I don't suppose you've traveled outside Orgrimmar lately? Or perhaps spoken to anyone who has."

The woman's horns tilted, and her hand curled through the furs once more. "Unusual that the furs came in far fewer numbers this shipment. The populations of game animals have decreased." Her small eyes, set in her large skull, blinked. "Yes. Of course I speak to those who travel outside the city."

"Excellent." Antimony clasped her hands in front of her and pressed her lips together briefly. "Then, have any of them spoken of the Southern Barrens?"

For a time, the woman just stared at Antimony, as though the question were something inconceivable. Then she shook her head. "Beyond the gates of Mulgore, all is conflict. No business is done there, except by Quillboar."

Tapping her fingers together, Antimony nodded. "So I have heard. But perhaps someone has passed through, not on business but on their way to business. Do you know of the jungle that came forth following the Cataclysm?"

The Tauren woman stepped away from her furs, her long, thick braids swinging about her body. "What about it?"

"Ah." Antimony straightened her posture slightly. "We had some... potentially unwise investments staked upon it but have been gone for some time. I am attempting to garner an understanding of what may have become of it since, what with all of the... war-waging going on."

"The jungle has not died, if that is what you ask. Camp Una'fe persists in that place, as well. It is far enough north that there are hunting grounds there."

Antimony considered that for a moment, glancing over her shoulder towards Dhein before returning her gaze to the Tauren woman. "So it is relatively secure from the conflict so far. Have you spoken to anyone from Camp, ah, Una'fe? I am wondering if they have noticed anything unusual about the land, any changes?"

"The jungle sprang from the desert sands overnight, pressed against Deathwing's hellfire. It was a place of chaos and mutation for a time, but all things move towards peace. It is a calm place."

Antimony could not stop the surprise from lifting her brow or slackening her jaw, though she reigned in her expression swiftly. "Calm." She resisted the urge to look to Dhein again, instead smoothing down the front of her dress. "Well, that is... good news. Certainly unusual for the region." She paused and then pressed, "This may be beyond your awareness, but there was a camp there, Vendetta Point, where those injured in combat were being taken care of. Is it still, ah, functioning?"

"The place you speak of is beyond my knowledge. Rumors of battle flood northward. Are you looking to ship goods to that place?"

"Oh," Antimony lifted her head. "Possibly. They were in dire straits when last we knew." A thought struck her then, an idea. "Do you know of contacts who may be making a journey there? Or at least passing by."

The woman shook her head. "Merchants do not walk those roads any longer. Camp Una'fe is as far south as you can expect any shipment to go."

"And will there be any such shipments soon, perhaps?"

"There are always such shipments." The woman gestured to her furs. "I am an importer. I can direct you to my supplier. They take goods southward on occasion, though I do not know if that is where they are going."

"That would be most appreciated." Antimony bowed her head slightly, for half a second in acknowledgment.

"Very well. But I would appreciate it if you did not attempt to tell them who sent you." The woman stepped near the side of the tent and gestured outside. "Near the kodo. Seek a large Taura'he with fur like that of your servant. Maizehoof."

"I thank you for your assistance." Again Antimony bowed, though a little deeper this time, before stepping back. She paused before adding a phrase she had learned through repeated ventures in Thunder Bluff, "The winds guide you." Then she turned on her heel and exited the tent, giving Dhein an expectant look as she went.

Dhein gave the woman a smile and a nod. "And the dirt mentors you." Then he stepped out of the tent and moved to follow Antimony. "Tauren idioms elude me."

Antimony has to purse her lips to hold back a chuckle. "That is quite alright." She paused and then lifted her brow towards him. "Now then. Am I alone in thinking of how we could make use of the knowledge that traders make regular trips to the camp just outside the Overgrowth?"

"It means that the camps are not necessarily in a state of constant crisis?" Dhein ventured, looking down at the woman and smiling.

"Perhaps." Folding her arms, Antimony rested her chin in one hand. "And it also gives us a mean of accessing the jungle securely."

"You not suggesting we shut you inside a crate and ship you to Camp Una'fe, are you?"

"What?" Antimony choked on a surprised burst of laughter. "Light no. But we could inquire about accompanying the shipment..."

"Ah, yes." Dhein tugged on his beard. "That would be a much safer mode of travel. It would not get you back into the city, but that is something we've already navigated.

"And we can be relatively assured of its security, given the shipments' regularity and continued safety of Una'fe." Tapping her fingers, Antimony nodded. "Yes. I should like to return to the Overgrowth."

"I have no grounds or reason to forbid it. But I insist you go well-provisioned." He crossed his arms. "And in the very least I'll be sending Aztal with you."

"Well-provisioned in what way?" Antimony quirked a brow. "Though of course Aztal would be of great assistance."

"Provisions are about more than just food and first aid. You don't want to find yourself in the Overgrowth without the things you need to do proper science."

"Well, of course not! That would be my greatest priority." She smiled at the thought. "We will want plenty of samples. Direct comparisons between specimens in the Overgrowth and the energies from our plant would be enlightening. Supplies for copious notes, of course. Some minor reagents for test spells in the field..."

"It's unfortunate you don't have an assistant you could bring with you. A real one, I mean."

"Aztal will work fine." Antimony reassured with a soft gesture of her hand. "We need you to remain to monitor the plant back home."

"Even besides that, if I did leave, we would have no way to ensure our return."

"Precisely. I - we - will be fine. Now, should we find this... Maizehoof and see about securing transport?"

"It would be a wise use of time, yes." Dhein looked towards the kodos, roped to stakes in the sun. His nostrils curled at the sight, but her shook his head and shrugged. "There's a humility to kodos that one must respect."

Holding back a smirk, Antimony moved towards the kodos. The tauren the woman had spoken about took some moments to spot despite his supposed size, his blonde fur blending into the sandy dryness of Orgrimmar and the tan hides of the tent. Pausing only briefly to make sure Dhein was with her, she approached the Tauren and lifted one hand in greeting. "Hello there. I was told you make trips to Camp Una'fe?"

The Tauren turned towards the undead. "Ah, perhaps! It depends on-" the large Tauren blinked, looking between the Forsaken and the Sin'Dorei. "Is this about business, or oversight?"

Antimony smiled at that. "Business, assuredly. I understand you transport goods regularly there. I... was hoping you may be amenable to transporting a person as well. Myself. I could provide compensation, of course." She hoped. Their finances had not been in good shape lately, though now she at least understood why.

The lustrously-furred Tauren leaned back and looked down his snout at the woman. "I really shouldn't do business with you two."

Immediately Antimony's brow knit together, lips turning down for half a second. "... Political climate aside, we are both businesspeople doing our best to make a living. I will do nothing to draw undue attention towards you, however."

"Guess I can't expect you to consent to riding in a box until we get you out of the city, huh?"

Dhein shook his head and made a warning gesture at the Tauren.

"That could certainly not be an acceptable way to do business." Antimony pursed her lips. "I request nothing from you other than to allow my presence with your shipment. I will leave you be once we've arrived at Camp Una'fe."

"Yeah, yeah." The Tauren lifted his arms to either side. "Ever since a cousin of mine made a risky shipment to Grom'gol and ended up choked to death with his own tail, I've been really careful about what I ship where. But I guess I can't get in trouble for carting a Forsaken out of the city, can I?"

Antimony blinked, making a half-grimace at the Tauren's off-hand description of his cousin's misfortune. Then she just shook her head and offered a stiff smile. "No, certainly not. If anything, you would be encouraged."

"Hm. Maybe I should see if there's some kind of tax incentive."

"Aaah, now, let's not get too carried away." Lifting her hands, palm outward, Antimony made a soothing gesture. "You will agree to take me, then?"

The Tauren shrugged. "As long as you're not offended if I put you down as a package instead of a passenger. Charge by wait, keep your name and race off the paperwork. Stay cautious."

Antimony allowed herself a short huff before relaxing somewhat. She gave a small nod to the Tauren. "Very well. So long as I am not treated as a package."

"Hey, I take good care of my cargo. It's my friends that I abuse." The Tauren turned his attention to an apparatus of strings and beads, which he seemed to use for counting. "Standard cargo fare for... Where? Una'fe? Almost nothing gets shipped that far anymore."

"Hm? I was told you made the journey regularly." Antimony paused and then shook one hand. "No matter. Yes, to Una'fe."

"I do make the journey regularly. To procure the goods that the Camp acquires from the Overgrowth. They aren't consumers." The Tauren turned to face Antimony. "How much do you weigh?"

Dhein flashed his warning hand-signals again, more emphatically.

Antimony narrowed her eyes. "That is not something I routinely keep up to date on."

The Tauren rolled his small eyes. "Guess."

Pressing her lips together in a show of disapproval, Antimony was silent for a moment, considering. Finally she spoke a curt, "Roughly three stone."

"Three stone," The Tauren repeated, looking at Antimony. "Are you sure? A package your size, mostly bone and hide, usually around six or seven." Then he shrugged and went back to his counting beads. "Well, if the Kodo get tired, I suppose I can make you walk."

Antimony inclined her head, giving the Tauren a flat look. "Three stone. Is there anything else you must know?"

"No return trip." The Tauren glanced over. "Non-negotiable."

"Very well. I did not request one."

"Then that's all. We're leaving this evening. We'll travel from sunset until just after midnight. If you aren't here, you aren't coming."

"I will be here, I assure you." Dropping her head in acknowledgment, Antimony closed with a brief, "Thank you for your business." Then she straightened and glanced towards Dhein. "Let's be off to prepare, then."

Dhein blinked down at Antimony, appearing somewhat shell-shocked. "Tonight? That's very soon!"

"Our work doesn't wait. And neither does our benefactor, it seems." She turned from the Tauren and set a hand on Dhein's arm to urge him off. "There is plenty of time to gather what we need."

Letting himself be turned with her, Dhein muttered in a more quiet first. "It's not time to acquire supplies that concerns me. It's... suddenness. Pure, disorienting, suddenness."

"What is sudden about it?" Antimony looked sideways at Dhein as she began to walk. "I suppose the departure is rather soon, but we came here seeking information. I am not going to miss such an opportunity."

"We only just started speaking about an expedition today and now you plan to leave at sunset. What part of it is not sudden?"

"We both agreed that, given the apparent safety of the region, there was no reason to not mount an expedition." Antimony's lips pursed in mild confusion. "I'm not sure I understand your protest. It is unexpected, but we must be prepared to take advantage of unexpected fortune."

"I'm not objecting. It is sudden."

"It is," Antimony agreed.

"I suppose that doesn't give you any pause?" Dhein tried not to sound annoyed, but likely did anyway. "How long is this trip going to take? And how long will you stay there studying? How will we stay in touch during your absence, and how will we organize the proper time to summon?"

"Aztal will accompany me, will he not? Two of those concerns are easily solved through him." Antimony paused and then added, "As for how long, well, that depends entirely on the situation in the Overgrowth. Certainly it won't be weeks. Likely only a few days."

"Ah, yes, Aztal. Because he can be relied upon." Dhein brushed at his hair in exasperation. "Still, yes, that is a fair point. And my lonely heart is unlikely to dwindle in a matter of days, given the attentions you've paid to it recently. Still, I fear for my sanity, with nothing for company but walls, tomes, and a puzzling spell."

"I believe in your sanity for the few days this venture will likely require," Antimony assured, leaning slightly towards him. "There is plenty to be done. You'll need to keep careful watch on the spells we set to observe the passive effects of the plant's energy."

"And nothing but silence to accompany me," Dhein said, his syllables long and his tone pitiful. "It will be like reliving the loneliest days of my life. It will be nostalgia for despair."

"Oh come now, it will hardly be so bad. I will request my return as soon as I have secured an understanding of the situation in the Overgrowth." They had passed into the Drag now, the narrow canyon shading them from the most glaring beams of sunlight. "I certainly do not wish to be gone any longer than necessary either."

"I will attempt to remain in control of my faculties long enough to summon you back to my side." Dhein paused in his footsteps, putting a hand over his eyes and casting his face skyward. "Oh, damn this war. It hasn't even begun and already it's tearing loving hearts from one another."

Antimony pursed her lips against a smile, though it still pushed through at the corners of her mouth. "There was a saying in Lordaeron - absence makes the heart grow fonder."

"Yes. Like braised meat cooks more thoroughly." Dhein pouted, deflating in dejecting. "Assuredly the pink of my heart shall be charred to a tasteless, dry black by this Orgrimmar sun. A place that despises my people, where even the respite of my beloved must leave from me. I taste the sacrifice of my forbearers, founders of Qel'Thelas and progenitors of the Arcane arts. Can I endure as well as they?"

"I have great faith in your personal fortitude," Antimony replied with admirably only a faint hint of sarcasm, though she couldn't stop the smirk this time. "Let us make the time before departure count, hm? The sooner I am fully prepared, the better."

"Very well," Dhein said, lifting himself to his full height. He gazed towards the obscured sunlight, one hand on his hip, the other poised upon his breast. "I will put the mission before my feelings. May my heart be worthy of the skewer. If only the fire were soft, but that which burns for you, Antimony, burns hotter than any fire lit by mortal or god."

He stood still for a moment longer, and then dropped his hands and began homeward.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » December 6th, 2014, 12:53 am

Satchel slung over one shoulder and across her thin chest, staff in hand, Antimony preceded Dhein out the door of their home/laboratory. The bag was weighed down by various items meant for observation in the Overgrowth - parchment and ink, a few glass vials, some basic reagents - as well as a change of clothes. Her staff thudded lightly on dry stone as she walked, its clouded quartz crystal largely obscured by dark growth from the plant, a few sprouts poking out along its length.

As she walked, she spoke to elf next to her, "I do hope Aztal can exercise discretion. I don't relish the thought of my escort dumping me in the middle of the Barrens because of an overly ambitious imp."

"I can't make any promises on his behalf." Dhein said, following quickly. He held out a piece of paper bearing Fel iconography. "Pocket this so he can find you when he finally turns up. If he turns up at the wrong time, just kill him. Then no one can hold it against you."

Antimony accepted the paper with a mild wince. It left a greasy feeling over her fingers even when she slid it into her bag, and she wiped her hand against the front of her robe distractedly. "We shall hope it doesn't come to that. Now, I left you a full outline scheduling observations to be made on the plant, so you should not be wanting for activity. Just make sure that you feed yourself and rest."

Dhein seemed vexed by that. "You scheduled observations? I think I could have judged that on my own. Did you schedule anything in the middle of the night?"

"I would like to minimize the gap in the data I was collecting," Antimony countered with a slight purse of her lips. "Though... I may have. I suppose that would be difficult for you." She lifted one hand. "Just do your best. I made sure to explain precisely what to do. Consistency is the most important part."

One of Dhein's eyebrows lifted. "I know how to make observations, Antimony. I've studied magic before. I studied it under centuries-aged mentors for decades."

"Yes, yes, but... oh, just humor me, will you?" Antimony huffed.

"Very well." Dhein thought for a time, and then said, "Perhaps I'll have Aztal do the night-time observations. Hah! Humor."

"Acceptable." They approached the Valley of Wisdom now, and Antimony spotted a small cluster of kodo on the opposite side. Picking up her pace slightly, she angled herself towards them. "Promise me you will keep yourself fed."

"Antimony, even if I did forget, my instincts wouldn't allow otherwise. Eventually I'd doze and wander about the house, eating whatever looked similar enough to food to fool me."

"Well, do not do that!" Twisting her hand around the staff, Antimony frowned. "Allow me to spend a moment worrying for you."

Dhein reached out and rested a hand on Antimony's shoulder. "I would rather you worry for you. I can live alone in a city where I'm well-supplied without a problem. You're the one going alone into an uncivilized potential warzone."

"I will be as careful as..." Antimony trailed off and ended up just waving one hand in lieu of an actual analogy. "At any rate, it should be relatively safe, though I certainly won't be overly irreverent. The druids at Camp Una'fe will be there for help should I require it, and Aztal of course." They neared the kodo now, and Antimony stretched up on her toes to look around for Maizehoof.

"Aztal for help? Did you hear yourself say that just now?" Dhein's chuckle was a small sound without humor. "That's the least comforting thing that has ever been said to me."

"He will do fine enough for the research part." She offered Dhein a sideways smirk. "He was quite helpful while you were asleep."

"That was different." Dhein suddenly swept in front of Antimony, one hand on each shoulder. "It was a small place, with known parameters, and no external dangers. In the Overgrowth any mistakes he made could lead to a dangerous situation."

Antimony watched Dhein quietly for a few seconds before lifting her hands to his on her shoulders. "I will not attempt to do anything overly risky, alright? I will gather observations and then send him to to you so that I may return."

Glancing about, Dhein's features shifting in frustration. "If we delay some small degree perhaps we can arrange some design that permits me to travel with you."

"If we delay, we risk being unable to go at all." Leaning to one side, Antimony sought to look around Dhein. "The Tauren made it clear he would not tolerate a late arrival."

"What he wouldn't tolerate is missing out on money. Antimony." He tightened his grip on her shoulders. "How can I be expected to remain in the cage of wood and tomes knowing that you journey into a hostile world unaccompanied by any who value you as greatly as you deserve?"

"Dhein." Expression softening, Antimony returned her attention to the elf in front of her. "I will be fine. The fighting has not reached so far north, and I should not have to fear the levels of... well, of racism here when in Una'fe. I know you are worried, but..." Her fingers fidgeted over the tops of his hands, and then she leaned forward and up on her toes to press a brief kiss on his lips. When she settled back down, she thought she could feel eyes boring into her back. "You will also be fine. Remember, it is only for a couple days."

Keeping his face close to hers, Dhein looked for the green of his glowing eyes to light her brow. "I will survive. I make no promises of being 'fine', ever in my entire life, if I cannot be completely sure that you are perfectly safe."

"Gross." The lusciously-furred Tauren called Maizehoof walked past them, carrying over his shoulder a leather-tied bundle that had to way triple the weight of an average elf. "There's a reason the dead a prepared so cautiously. You'll get sick putting your mouth on one." He did not wait for reply, walking on towards the kodos that awaited him.

Antimony tensed, eyes snapping to the side to follow Maizehoof's lumbering for a second with a sharp glare. Then she patted Dhein's hand with her own. "Alright, then. Do your best to be as close to fine as you can manage and I will do my part."

"As close to fine as you can manage." Dhein leaned back. "That is not an encouraging promise."

"It was meant to be! Oh... you know what I meant. I am certain there will be no problems, as I will take every precaution available to me." She then made to step to one side around Dhein, albeit slowly.

Dhein let his hands slide free from her. "If Aztal cannot find you or if I do not hear back from him very soon, I will go look for you myself. Consequences be what they may."

"That seems very reasonable." Antimony gave him a small smile before continuing closer to the kodos. "Now, my place in this caravan better be more than a box."

Dhein let his hand trail off of Antimony's shoulder. Before she could get fully away, his hand tightened on her wrist.

She paused and looked back, lifting one brow. "More concerns we can assuage?"

"Merely an instinct to cling to you as a drowning man to a piece of driftwood."

Antimony's mouth twitched at one corner. "Help me up on one of these kodos."

Dhein swept forward. "I'm so desperate to keep you and you ask me to help you away? Such cruelty I've only read in the eldest of demonic tomes." He took her to the nearest kodo.

"Not that one." Maizehoof interrupted. He tossed his load on the head of a strange brown-and-gray kodo with tufts of fur on its brow and chin. "Cargo goes on this kodo."

Pursing her lips, Antimony urged Dhein to the kodo the Tauren had indicated. "The quicker we leave, the sooner I return," she spoke in as conciliatory a tone as she could manage.

"I suppose that's true in the most technical of ways only. I'm not sure it will actually play out any different." Dhein brought Antimony to the kodo, looking over the vast amount of packages and leather bundles roped to the poor creature. Having judged the best possible angle of approach, he turned to Antimony to help her up.

Antimony was quiet as she settled herself onto the kodo - a not too easy task, considering how burdened it already was with various packages. She ended up more just perched on top of the pile than anything. Looking down to Dhein, she reached down to rest her fingers on his hand. "When I return, I will have so many new insights you'll forget all about this leaving."

Dhein took her hand. "Upon your return, I won't have a single thought about your findings until I've had an hour to hold you."

Antimony couldn't hold back the small smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Very well. I will expect it."

Maizehoof stepped up beside Dhein with the same grace as the kodo that followed him. Actually, a bit more, as the kodo that had been tailing Maizehoof failed to notice the kodo on which Antimony was perched, and the two kodo endured the least dramatic collision ever seen by elf or Tauren. The kodo huffed in annoyance at one another.

The Tauren looked up at Antimony. "Is all the cargo loaded and ready?"

Resting her staff across her lap, Antimony gave Maizehoof a dour look before replying, "Yes. Quite comfortable."

"Good." He pointed at the items Antimony had brought with her. "What about all of that? I don't think we negotiated the extra weight."

"I included it in my account of my initial weight," Antimony replied smoothly. She hadn't, but she was a businesswoman.

"Four stone." The Tauren said, disbelieving.

"You're rude." Dhein observed.

"You stink of bad magic, elf." Maizehoof observed.

"That is also rude," Antimony interjected, frowning towards the Tauren. "You've clearly not much experience with my kind, so kindly leave the weight assessment to one who does."

"Eh, fair enough, I guess." The Tauren shocked his shaggy shoulders, fur shimmering in the sun. Dhein watched with envy.

Maizehoof stomped the ground near the kodo and bellow in an aggressive, wordless tone. The kodo responded by starting in brief fear, and then walking along at a fast clip. Four Kodo in total ran southwest through Orgrimmar, leaving Dhein coughing in the dust they stirred up.

Antimony startled as well and had to bend forward to grip the ties securing the cargo in place so as to not fall off. By the time she'd steadied herself, Dhein was quite a ways back. She twisted around and squinted to see him through the dust.

"It will be worth the data," she spoke aloud, as though he could hear her, and nodded to herself.

Maizehoof ran alongside the kodo, unbothered by the dust. The Tauren was fast, and his blond fur billowed out behind him like the tail of goldfish. Through the dust of the other kodo, more Tauren could be seen running alongside them, variously sized and hued. An old troll rode on one of the other kodo, his elderly lean poising him over a bundled infant with blue arms reaching for its caretakers long white hair.

Turning back around, Antimony tried to settle more comfortably on her kodo. She watched Orgrimmar's walls rush by through a cloud of dust, and then they were out on open plain. A broad river snaked south to their right. Antimony trained golden eyes on Maizehoof, watching the Tauren run for a moment before calling out over the pounding of hooves, "How many rest stops do you intend to take?"

"One!" Maizehoof called out, between breaths. Then he angled himself away from Antimony, wary of the Forsaken asking him any more questions.

***

With only one break for rest, the trip to Camp Una'fe took only two days, significantly shorter than Antimony's last journey via caravan to the Overgrowth. She recalled that adventure with a mix of fondness - it had involved learning fascinating new things with Dhein, after all - and distaste for what had come later. She would make sure nothing of the sort happened this time.

Aztal had thankfully not shown up during their few hours of rest. Antimony wondered if he would forget and then reminded herself that Dhein would likely not allow such a thing. Putting aside these thoughts for now, she lifted her head and straightened her posture slightly to catch the first glimpse of the Tauren camp on the horizon. Mostly druids, supposedly. Perhaps they would have useful insight into the Overgrowth, seeing as they had spent much longer here than she. Antimony smiled slightly at the thought.

The chain of kodo arrived just outside the camp in a cloud of dust, and Antimony wasted little time in dropping off her ride as soon as it had stilled. She used her staff to steady herself when she hit the ground before straightening and looking around for Maizehoof.

The blonde Tauren was not difficult to find. He cast a massive shadow over Antimony, silhouette shimmering gold around the edges, as he stepped to the kodo to begin offloading cargo. He did not speak to her.

Craning her neck upward - far more than she'd ever had to do with Dhein - Antimony watched Maizehoof for a moment before taking half a step back. "Thank you for being so accommodating," she spoke coolly before offering a prim, courtesy smile. "I suppose now you've earned payment."

"I suppose I earned payment yesterday when I got you out of Orgrimmar without a fuss and an angry glare." He threw a bundle on the ground. It thudded with what seemed mass equal to the Tauren's own.

Antimony restrained a flinch, though she glanced towards the bundle. Twisting, she leaned her staff against one shoulder to reach into her satchel. "Our agreement involved transport to Camp Una'fe, so no, I would not say you earned payment by only completing half of that. Still," when she removed her hand it held a small, cloth pouch that clearly contained coin and held it towards the Tauren. "Your services were appreciated."

The Tauren took the pouch and dropped it in a much larger packet on his own belt. "Four stone. Feh." He pulled another bundle off the kodo, large enough to make him bend beneath its weight as it weighed upon his shoulder. Then he turned to walk away.

Antimony frowned, pursing her lips unhappily for a moment. She looked down at herself, smoothing out her dress, and then muttered, "Yes. Four stone. Maybe less." Then she made for the camp.

Antimony stepped on Aztal. He squawked and groaned in pain, but managed to look up Antimony's dress.

Antimony jumped back with her own yelp and, perhaps on a learned instinct, kicked out with one foot. She must have lacked Dhein's more practiced talent, though, for her foot just went over the imp. Still she hopped back a step and glared. "Oh, you could at least announce yourself! What were you thinking, hiding like that? Of course I'd step on you."

Aztal sat up and jabbered on in angry Eredun, likely delivering an entire treatise in defense of his presence. Of course he would be there. Where else would he be? Ridiculous Azerothian.

"There will be a few rules during this expedition, Aztal," Antimony replied coolly, not bothering to wonder what the imp's chattering meant. "Number one - you will not surprise me. Unless it is with a new discovery, I suppose. Number two - you will make sure that none here see you. I've no desire to be chased out from my work. And number three--" Antimony paused and gave the imp a considering look. "... Well, I suppose that is enough for now."

Aztal rose to his feet, continuing to chitter for a while. He counted to four on his fingers, and then wagged his hand and walked in a small circle, billowing brown fumes. When he finished his small rotation, he pointed northward. "He wants to summon you home now."

"Oh I'm sure he does," Antimony nodded and straightened her satchel before re-securing her grip on her staff. "But we've only just arrived, so he's going to have to wait. Now, I think I should see about speaking with the Tauren here. I don't think they would like to see you."

"I know what to do! Behold impish cleverness." Aztal attempted to hide under Antimony's skirts.

Antimony made a rather unladylike sound and this time her foot did find its mark. "Aztal! I will extract all manner of revenge if you try that a second time!"

The imp of very little mass skittered and rolled away rather like a bouncing bundle of sticks. The sounds he made came very close to drawing attention from those who worked the kodos. In the arms of the elderly troll who was having trouble getting his rickety body off the kodo, the infant looked at the imp and laughed.

Glaring towards the pile of tiny green limbs, Antimony hissed, "Quiet now, and find a hiding place more appropriate. Learn some decorum, if such a thing is possible." She then started to walk again, hoping to put some distance between herself and Aztal if the imp was actually found out.

The imp sat back up and chattered. He then turned and dove into a green brush, where he looked like little more than a strangely-colored stump. Albeit run alight with Fel fire.

Setting her posture into one of authority as she walked and recollecting her composure, Antimony passed through the lingering caravan to enter the camp proper. A good dozen Tauren milled about on various tasks. Antimony approached the nearest, lifting her hand in greeting. "Hello there," she spoke up. "Excuse me?"
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » December 11th, 2014, 6:17 pm

***

The Tauren of Camp Una'fe responded to Antimony's curious presence with extreme stoicism, the guards bordering on suspicion. She supposed she couldn't blame them, but it had been frustrating nonetheless. She'd managed to get them to speak of the Overgrowth and the surrounding area enough that it sounded as though much had remained the same. The creatures that roamed the jungle were unusually (perhaps by now, it should be considered usual) aggressive, even the plants hostile to intruders. They blamed Deathwing, and Antimony was sure that was part of it, but she held back mentioning the discovery that had brought her back here.

Something told her she needed to keep it hidden from them. They would destroy it without question.

Antimony departed the camp after a short time of pestering, set on venturing into the jungle; the Tauren had washed their hands of her, convinced she'd just become mincemeat for whatever beasts wandered around. For Antimony's part, she was rather unmoved. Her knowledge of the plant and its power (spell?) made her strangely secure.

"I want to return to the specimen's location," Antimony spoke to the jungle, walking with her staff in front of her to push away dense vines and branches and leaves. The chill that permeated her focus lingered on the plants she passed. "Observations along the way. Though it certainly seems as... overgrown as ever. Aztal, do you remember the way?"

The imp was walking right behind Antimony, almost close enough to be kicked by her heels as she trod forward. A haze of Fel energy leaked from his body, green flames about his fingers as he seemed to twiddle them idly. He chattered, initially in Eredun. Then he decided to humor her by responding in an Azerothian language. He chose Thalassian, explaining that the changing nature of this forest was nothing compared to the pure chaos from which he had spring in ages beyond her comprehension, and that he would never get lost in a place so simple.

The glow in Antimony's empty eye sockets flickered as her eyes narrowed, and she paused just a moment to jab the base of her staff behind her before continuing on. "Manners, Aztal! It's unforgivably rude to speak in a language others in your company cannot understand."

Aztal jumped back at Antimony's poking. A root he stepped on stirred, and the carnivorous plant next to him opened its maw in his direction. The imp's fidgeting fingers resolved into a prepared incantation that caused the plant to whither.

Then he rushed to keep up with Antimony. "This world has essentially one language! Dialects! Learn them!"

"Well, I certainly can't do that over the course of a single conversation. I know Orcish, and some Taura-he, only not... was that Thalassian? Mph." She paused, considering, paying not even an ounce of attention to the activity behind her, gaze set forward and peering through the Overgrowth. "Though... I suppose it would be a good gesture towards Dhein... Ah, Aztal! You're distracting me. I presume you remember where that plant was. Let us find it again, hm?"

The imp fairly shot out in front of Antimony, leaving a trail of Fel flame along the ground. He spat something in Eredun as he went, and the grass leaned away from his passage.

Startling, Antimony was still for only a moment before hurrying after the imp's trail. She didn't bother protesting, perhaps glad for the speed. As they plunged into the Overgrowth, she could feel the chill in her staff, in her bones, leaning towards something. She almost didn't have to follow Aztal at all.

Caught up in the sensation, Antimony nearly ran face-first into a mass of vines, pressed so tightly together that they made a seemingly impenetrable wall. She skidded to a halt with a short yelp and steadied herself with her staff. "It's still here... Hah, it's still here! Perfect." She prodded at the vines with the base of her staff and then frowned. The void in her chest swelled.

Aztal had made it through the fines with ease, thanks to his small size and wiry limbs. He paced in circles inside, the light of his Fel flames barely visible, his chittering near but no more decipherable than usual.

"Aztal, where did you...?" Antimony glanced around and then huffed in annoyance. She tried to pry at the vines, but they fell back into place stubbornly.

The clearing inside the circular wall of vines was completely still and silent, the air swallowing up even the sound of the imp's movements. It was also incredibly cold, though no chill of temperature, rather it was saturated with an aura that emanated wholly from the plant at the center. It had grown huge, tall enough to spread out over the top of the vine wall to create a tightly enclosed space of almost no natural light. The small white flowers the bloomed at points along it were still clearly visible, though.

After a time of pacing, Aztal walked back towards Antimony, slithering through the vines just as something not meant for the world would. He reached a point near enough in the vines to see her, chattering. Then he began to conjure Fel flame in his hands to whither the vines away, just as Dhein had done the first time they had entered the clearing.

Antimony first frowned at the imp, but forgot her annoyance as the creature began to clear a path in the vines - albeit a small, cramped one. He must not have taken her dimensions into much account. Still, she could squeeze through if she half-crouched down, and she did offer a distracted, "Thank you, Aztal," to the imp as she went. She felt more dragged through those vines than anything, though her legs carried her under her own power. The yellow light in her eye sockets dimmed until it just barely reflected off the tops of her cheekbones.

She went into a hushed silence as she stepped into the clearing, almost forgetting to stand back up. The empty sensation between her bones pressed up against the inside of her skin, and she blinked slowly in thought. Shadows twisted lazily towards her and Aztal, just drifting, invisible in the darkness.

"... We should make observations," Antimony muttered, though she made no immediate move to retrieve any supplies from her bag. Instead she stood and took in the plant barely discernible in front of them. She looked up and saw nothing but the same familiar shadow.

Aztal stood beside Antimony, watching her look around. After several seconds, he prodded her leg.

"... Mm?" Antimony glanced down after a moment and then shook herself. "... Oh. Yes." Shifting her staff to the crook of one arm, Antimony dropped to one knee and slipped her bag off over her head. She retrieved a small roll of parchment and the pen, then the glass vials. The latter, she held towards Aztal. "Some samples of the soil and plant material, please."

Taking the vials in a quick motion, their loud clattering a sharp sound in the still clearing, Aztal moved quickly towards the plant. He went for the plant itself first, lifting his clows up to tar away leaves, blooms and stems that were low and vulnerable enough as to fall to an imp's meager strength.

A shiver started from the shadows around them and echoed into Antimony's chest. She frowned at the sensation. Rather than leafy greenness, her dull senses smelled smoke and dust and something rotten. It felt like something stirring, something rolling in its nap to lazily watch them.

This did not strike any fear in the woman, though. Bony fingers pressed out the parchment across short, dead grass, and though she couldn't make it out enough to write, she set pen to paper. With her other hand she lifted her staff slightly and reached out experimentally in the manner she had been using to study their own specimen back in Orgrimmar. She felt the foreign matter that grew along the staff's cracks shift, leaning it towards the shadows around the plant at the center of the clearing. It pulled on something in her flesh. It was suddenly difficult to distinguish where it ended and the plant and shadows began. Blinking once, stiff muscles moved the pen across her parchment in deliberate motions.

Aztal walked back to Antimony's side with filled vials. He watched the darkness overhead with a wary eye. The Fel flames that grew from his body dwindled. Had he been here with Dhein, he might have been worried. But not with Antimony. No, she was smart enough that if a greater power fell upon her, she would swear fealty long before calling down its ire. At least, that's what Aztal suspected. That's how these things usually worked.

He deposited the vials in Antimony's satchel, then went back to claim additional samples.

Antimony barely noticed Aztal's brief return, the tiny imp all but swallowed by the frigid darkness that pressed in around them. Her hand continued to move across the page in a pattern she vaguely realized she was unfamiliar with. She watched from the shadows, tiny white flowers like stars in a void. Or eyes. One pointed northward, another northwest, south. She didn't understand, though she kept writing.

Finally her grip on the pen relaxed. She remained still for a time before remembering she could look down, though that didn't do much good. She hummed in low thought, distantly concerned but mostly just curious. "Are you done with the samples, Aztal?" Her voice surprised her, as though she'd forgotten what it sounded like, or as though she'd expected some different sound though she wasn't sure what she'd expected.

The imp stood between her and the plant, last of the vials in his hands. He was lit by the green glow of Fel, though it seemed the color of it was washing away. He chattered in a dead dialect of Taura'he, vaguely about the shape of the clearing and the size of the plant.

Antimony watched the imp for a moment, wondering if she'd lost some part of herself in that shadow-trance. Then she shook herself. "What... ground... space? Aztal, you're making little sense. What did I say to you about manners?" She did spy the vial in his hand, though, and set aside her pen before feeling in her satchel for the others. They were there; good.

Aztal threw his small hands up in annoyance. "It's bigger." Then he waked the last vial over to place it alongside the others.

Antimony blinked, but the glow in her sockets had dimmed so much that the action was barely distinguishable. "... Ah. Yes, I'd observed such. And I think I... Can you provide a light?"

The imp chittered and flung one hand upward in what seemed an idle gesture, but for the way the Fel flame arched forth from it. A hideous plume of green-brown marred the air of the clearing, casting dim but very present colored light on the area.

Wrinkling her nose at the greasy aura more than the off color, Antimony gave Aztal a distracted, "Thank you," before turning her attention down to the parchment at her knees. She leaned her weight slightly upon her staff then, blinking at the foreign, weirdly hideous script. "... Well. This is... interesting." Her lips pursed.

Aztal walked over to look down at it. He blinked, tilted his head one way, and then the other. Pondering. The light he'd thrown into the sky began to dim, the shadow of the clearing shrinking around them, before he finally made the sounds recorded on the page. "Ag naus. Ag ssaggh. Ag ugovssh."

The words that left Aztal's tongue fell slick and slithering with a weight even more terrible than demonic languages. She felt something stir in her flesh as though in response to them. Antimony tilted her head slightly. "... I'm afraid I'm not familiar with those words. Ah, but surely there will be something in your library for it, hm?"

Aztal chattered on in Eredun, the demonic language easing the tension. At least, he thought so. Then he switched to modern Taura'he, the slow and grave verbs suiting what he had to say. "A language older than libraries. There will be no records in any mortal libraries." He shifted and chittered, and his language switched to Orcish. "Libraries of aberration. Azjol'Nerub. Ahn'Qiraj."

Antimony paused for a moment, working through Aztals' first words; her Taura-he was not perfect. Then she settled her meager weight onto her heels. "Ahn'Qiraj. I've heard of... is that not some... city of sorts in Silithus? Quite full of bugs." She made a face, feeling rather unstudied in this subject. Lordaeronians had never thought much for such distant lands, and she certainly had never had need to venture so far south, much less consider the region's history.

The imp hopped for a moment. "Read a book!"

"Oh hush," Antimony admonished with a brief glare. "I gladly would if it meant another piece in this puzzle. This library - can we, or you, get to it?"

"No!" Aztal ran, as if to flee, but just before leaving the clearing he turned around and ran back the other way, making a small circle of Fel flame. "You're lucky I'm even on the same planet as that place!"

Inclining her head slightly, Antimony lifted her brows at Aztal's display. "That seems odd coming from you. What is it, then?"

The imp stopped and shook his small head, making a groaning sound that started out low and ended at a high pitch when he grabbed his head with both hands. "Got books on it for you! We done here?"

"... I suppose," Antimony replied with reluctance. "I almost want to try recording again to see what happens..." Shaking her head at the thought, Antimony narrowed her eyes towards the vague outline of her staff, and then past it to the plant. "Though perhaps first I would read those books."

Aztal picked up the paper that Antimony had left on the ground and held it out to her.

It took Antimony a moment to pull herself from whatever thought she'd been considering in the shadows. She accepted the parchment - not once fumbling for it in the darkness - with distraction, rolling it up before slipping it carefully into her satchel. "It is strange. When I was examining the plant's energies, it almost seemed like there was... more than one. I wonder if Dhein would suffer the time it would take for us to search this entire jungle."

"Let him suffer!" Aztal bolted to the very outer perimeter of the clearing, and there waited.

Antimony had to purse her lips at that. "Not very kind of you, Aztal." Still, she straightened, pushing herself to her feet and taking up her satchel as she went. She crossed almost blindly back towards where they'd entered. "I suppose it couldn't hurt to take a look around, though. North. Northwest. Southwest."
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » December 27th, 2014, 11:42 pm

Aztal imp-wobbled back to the briar, Fel flames pouring out of him. It was easy for him to exit, the space remaining clear for him, and as he passed the roots receded further. He counted the steps in Eredun, measuring the width of the briar to recall and make not of later. To Antimony, though, it would just sound like idle squawking.

Once she stood at the exit, Antimony turned to look back towards the plant - a darker mass of shadow and barely discernible twisting stems so dark as to be almost black themselves. There was a certain gravity to it, that she felt down to her core. It buzzed languidly in her mind in a way that reminded her of their first encounter with the plant, but no strange visions accosted her this time. It seemed patient.

She caught herself beginning to step back towards it, paused, and then deliberately turned around to squeeze her way through the imp-carved tunnel. Fel from Aztal's fire left an oily residue on the vines that brushed against her skin and clothes, but she was far too distracted by the lure pulling persistently at her back. She wanted to turn around and learn more.

The urge did not lessen once she was standing outside, but she could at least distract herself with other matters. "Are you capable of fighting off animals?" She blinked towards the imp. "If we're to explore this place further, it's possible we'll run into something."

At this question, the imp shrugged. He answered in Eredun, and then summoned aggressive fire into his hands. He lifted the fire over his head to show it off.

Lifting both brows, Antimony watched the imp practically cavort with his flames for a moment and then shook her head slightly. "... Very good, then." Truthfully, she hoped they didn't run into anything; she had no stomach for facing down whatever warped predators might be lurking in this jungle. Satisfied for the moment, though, she began to walk away from the briar, the act almost physically difficult. "Keep an eye out for any signs of similar influence as we saw around the plant. If you see something, inform me immediately - and in a language I can understand."

Aztal waved that off, jabbering in a bestial dialect of Orcish that had died with the detonation of Draenor. He still had the fire in hand when he waved, and he set the ground in front of him on fire. This he took a moment to stamp out before he ran to her side to let himself be led into the Overgrowth.

The pair wandered the Overgrowth for some time, and Antimony never could quite shake the pull in her chest, finding her steps continually drawn back towards where they'd come and having to forcibly redirect them elsewhere. Absorbed as she was in searching, she still somehow missed nearly every time Aztal had to stop and incinerate an aggressive vine or carnivorous, vegetative maw. She also missed the imp's bragging afterward, but that would teach him to speak in a language that could be understood.

At some point, Antimony found them pushing through a somewhat thinner part of the overgrowth, and she glanced up through a small gap in the canopy. The dark, clouded sky caught her by surprise, and she let out an annoyed huff, finally pausing in their trek. "This... has not exactly been productive," she muttered as she turned in a slow circle in place. "But I was very certain that I felt... more, beyond that one plant."

Aztal plucked a feline fang from his face. Antimony hadn't noticed him get carried off by the predator, and he wasn't going to inform her. The cat had gotten what was coming to it, one way or the other. He had returned promptly enough.

Stepping into the clearing that Antimony had stopped in, Aztal -- perhaps mistakenly -- saw similarities between it and the clearing that the evil plant had grown in. He dashed forward and quite boldly began to search the clearing's center for suspect weeds.

Antimony's mouth quirked in brief confusion at Aztal's antics before taking a second look around herself. All she saw, however, were the same thickly green and brown plants as through the rest of the Overgrowth, the monochrome occasionally interrupted with a splash of color from some strange flower, though the colors now were dimmer, more muted. Somehow the entire day had passed her by without her noticing.

"There's nothing here, Aztal," Antimony admonished the imp after a moment. "Well. Nothing apparent, at least. It certainly doesn't feel anything like that other place." Her brow pulled down in a frown, and she tapped her fingers in frustration against the cold wood of her staff.

Aztal dug in the ground, looking for seeds. A long shot, but the imp was nothing if not thorough. On occasion.

Dismissing the imp for now, Antimony continued forward several more paces until Aztal was a good couple meters behind her. She looked around again, up, down at her feet and where her staff pushed against thick groundcover. The empty stirring in her chest still pulled back the way they'd come, and her frown deepened.

"No, there's nothing else here," she muttered and then turned back to Aztal. "If there are more, they are somewhere else entirely."

When Antimony turned back to Aztal, he was still digging for seeds. Beyond the imp, just beyond the edge of the clearing in the foliage of the Overgrowth, a troll stood just barely obscured. His back was bent with age, his white hair pluming at behind him to fall over his gnarled shoulders. Antimony might recognize him from Maizehoof's caravan, and by the infant he held in one arm.

Covered almost head to toe in yellowed bandages, the troll's attention was to the trees and the sky, not on the people in the clearing. He perused the trees as if they had words written upon them.

Antimony startled more than was probably ladylike, but then she wasn't exactly expecting another person to just appear out of nowhere in this jungle. She vaguely recognized him. Shifting her grip on her staff, she took a moment to collect herself before snapping a firm, "Aztal," to get the imp's attention. Then, dimly glowing eyes on the old troll, she tilted her head slightly to one side. "Excuse me there. Are you lost?"

The imp jerked up, then looked to Antimony. Then he turned and regarded the troll. Aztal began to summon Fel fire to his hands.

The troll dropped his gaze to Antimony, blinking. His long tusks swayed from side to side, and his mouth pulled back in a smile. "Nah. Not lost. I just not be found neither. Interesting clearing ya found 'ere." He stepped into the clearing.

"Aztal, manners," Antimony warned with a purse of her lips at the green-brown fire. Then she returned her attention to the troll, shifting her weight to lean slightly against her staff. "Is it, now? I suppose. This entire place is interesting in a way." She paused, thought, and then added more carefully, "What interests you about, ah, this clearing?"

"It be full of omens." The troll gestured around the clearing, to seemingly mundane details. "T'ere. An t'ere. T'ere, too. I been followin 'em all da way from Una'fe. You been followin sometin, too, eh? To get out ta be 'ere like me?"

Furrowing her brow slightly, Antimony shifted her gaze to follow the troll's gestures and then shook her head slightly. His kind was always so flighty. "I suppose, yes." Tapping thin fingers against her staff, Antimony chewed on a thought for a moment. "... Can you be more specific about these omens?"

"Gestures of da trees be like gestures of da hands. They beckon and point di way, dat way, if ya know how to read dem." The troll stepped forward and hefted the infant in his hands. The small, blue form slumbered. "It be leadin me to herbs for dis spirit 'ere. Herbs long dead in most of da world, but in dis place where da Loa sing and stir, da omens hint dat dey may grow again."

Antimony inclined her head, features softening slightly as she took a brief look over the infant. "Given the strange energies here, I suppose it would be a place to find rare herbs..." She tried to hide her disappointment, illogical as it was. Of course this troll would know nothing of the corruption at work here.

As the troll paced forward, the infant awoke, brightly colored eyes blinking open. Its small arms stirred, fingers stretch, and it yawned tiredly. The old man carrying it loomed over Antimony, bent almost down to her height by his age but still much larger than she was. He was almost frail enough to collapse under his own weight. "What be drawin' you out here? You be lookin' for a special sprout of ya own?"

One corner of Antimony's mouth twitched in a small smile as she watched the tiny, blue, swaddled form. It was very quiet for an infant. Turning her head, she blinked at the old troll's proximity. "Ah... hm. Magical research." She gestured vaguely.

"Ah. Magical. You follow da Loa to dis place. Did ya find anyt'ing unusual along ya way? An herb of unusual temprehment mebbeh?"

Aztal imp-wobbled over beside Antimony. The infant in the Troll's arms pointed one tiny blue finger at the Fel creature.

Antimony's brow furrowed. "I... was able to get the observations I needed." She hesitated and then ventured slowly, "What kind of herb are you looking for, specifically?"

"T'ink of it as medsin." The troll heft the child again, and the gesture drew the infant's attention from the imp Antimony. It stared into her bright-glowing eyes as if it had never seen anything of the like, transfixed. "Dis child be reincarnated from a much oldah soul. Da herb will bring da knowin of past lives to da child."

Antimony looked back at the child, and the light in her empty eye sockets flickered with a blink. "That... is an awfully large burden to place on a child," she mused, though she put in effort to hold back some of the disapproval in her voice. Unconsciously, she lifted one finger towards the child, smiling briefly at it before pressing her lips together and looking back to the older troll. "I'm afraid I am no herbalist, though."

"Ah, dat be fine. An old troll's hope dat da Loa still guide helpful people to one anot'ar." The elderly man watched as the child reached a hand towards Antimony, fingers grasping. The child's grandfather nodded. "Ah, y'see her der? She be an old soul. Like she recognize somedin inside a people sometimes. Maybe you got an old soul too, eh?"

"All of us do," Antimony murmured, waving her finger slightly in the child's grasp. The light in her sockets dimmed. "She is beautiful. But you should be careful here; it is not safe."

"Dis one got nothin to worry about in dis place. Da leaves bend to her." He chuckles. "It's me dat has to worry about da jungle, if I get too far from her."

Antimony let her hand drop slowly away from the child, and it came to rest idly near her waist. "Far be it from me to keep you from your spiritual journey. I apologize for the interruption. We'll be on our way, hm?"

"And what way do ya be called, hm?" The troll stepped back, looking up to the plants around him for omens.

"What way...? Oh." Adjusting her grip on her staff, Antimony looked left, then right. "Mm. Wherever the data leads me, I suppose." She offered a slightly evasive smile with that.

"I see. Well. As for me. Well, de child realleh." he gestured back the way that Antimony had come. "I 'tink dis way for now. Really more wanderin den a straight line, realleh."

Antimony frowned vaguely, but... no, that was silly. Nodding towards the troll, she turned around to walk in the opposite direction without waiting for Aztal.

Aztal lingered, staring at the child. It stared back. Then the old man turned away, taking the child with him, and the moment was broken. The troll walked off towards the Overgrowth. And the imp turned to follow Antimony.

When Aztal caught up to Antimony, he took her by the dress and began to chitter in Eredun.

Pursing her lips, Antimony glanced down. "Hands off!" She took the fabric between her fingers and tried to jerk it from the imp's smaller hands. Her shoulders rose and fell in a nonexistent sigh. "What is it, Aztal? I told you to speak so I can understand you."

The imp squawked and shook his hands out. "Where are we going?"

Straightening, Antimony took another step, then paused. Her jaw set in frustration. "The other... plants," at least, that's what she presumed she'd felt, "are not here, that much is clear. North, northwest, south." She murmured the directions to herself in thought. "We could return to the briar, and I could try to, ah, sense them again, though I'm unsure how useful that would actually be. I am hesitant to return to Orgrimmar until we have done all we can..."

Aztal jump in front of Antimony, Aztal leaned down and began to edge in the dirt. What he drew was a complete map of Kalimdor from memory. It was vague as far as land formations went, but accurate. He then put a dot where the Overgrowth would be. And another in the location of Orgrimmar.

Then he hoped away from the map. "Tiny planet."

Antimony lifted one brow at the map. "... Depending on your perspective," she said mildly. "It was not exactly easy to get out of Orgrimmar. We need to make sure this trip counts. Are you suggesting something, Aztal?"

Aztal rolled his eyes so hard he almost fell over, and then imp-wobbled back to the map. He drew a line from the Overgrowth to Orgrimmar and said in Orcish, the plainest of all languages. "North."

"... Ah. You think...well, that isn't precisely north, Aztal. And... whatever it was seemed rather specific." She paused and inspected the map, trying to recall her own knowledge of Kalimdor's geography as well. "Ashenvale, perhas. Or... any region north of that. There's all manner of strange woodland up there, I understand."

The imp spread his arms wide. "The plant in the stupid city!"

Setting one hand to her hip, Antimony frowned down at the imp and scolded, "Calm yourself, Aztal. Now, even if that were the case, that is only one. Perhaps..." Crouching over the map, Antimony set her finger to the point Aztal had used to mark the Overgrowth and moved it in a line roughly northwest. It crossed the outer mountains of Mulgore and towards Stonetalon. Her eyes narrowed in thought.

In contrast, Aztal appeared thoughtless, watching the woman as though she had lapsed into a lesser-evolved mindset and begun to play in the dirt. After permitting her behavior for a moment, he stated, "Orcs will have better maps. For war."

"None that they'd willingly part with to a... Forsaken and a Blood Elf." She huffed and set her hand to her knees to push herself upright again, using her staff briefly for aid. "No matter. I suppose it is time to return. We did collect significant observations, at the very least."

"Bah. Willingly." The imp swung his arms at the notion. Then he gestured northward and jabbered a question in Eredun, and then the word, "Return?"

"Very well." Pursing her lips in stymied frustration, Antimony frowned into the Overgrowth before gesturing vaguely at Aztal. "Go, send for Dhein to cast the spell."

Chittering in Eredun, the imp burst into green light immediately. He vanished into a splash of luminescent oil that flicked away, leaving only the Overgrowth and the encroaching night.

Antimony just leaned on her staff and turned her face deeper into the Overgrowth.
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

Naunet
Naunet
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Naunet

Re: To Change With Time

Postby Naunet » December 27th, 2014, 11:59 pm

* * *

The very first thing that Dhein did upon Antimony's departure was to prepare the summoning circle to bring her back. He had almost cast the spell, but Aztal had foreseen such hysterics and hidden the necessary reagents. When Dhein requested the reagents, Aztal was bound to comply, but had produced an additional unnecessary reagent that Dhein had not noticed. Then Aztal had left to assist Antimony, without telling his master what he had done.

Though Aztal was bound by a contract to serve his master, this deception took advantage of an "Acceptable Hijinks" clause that was concealed between letters of a dead dialect of ancient Eredun. If Dhein didn't notice, then he didn't deserve to.

Aztal expected that upon his return he would find Dhein still obsessing over the reagents of the summoning spell, or weeping naked in a corner of the room, or enthralled by his succubus, or dead. When the imp stepped out of the demonic planes, however, he discovered the man standing near the wall with the table turned on its side, laid against the wall. Half of a demonic rune was drawn on the table, and the other half on the wall.

The man who turned towards Aztal was healthy and composed, his red robes well-pressed and reflecting the bright green glow of his eyes. He swung his staff as he turned. Many gray-white buds along the length of it had bloomed into small flowers. The elf's hair was tied behind his head, and the tie bore roots and a bud as well.

Aztal stood, watching the man.

Dhein spoke very plainly. "Is it time?"

The imp nodded.

"Then I am finished." Dhein turned, took the table, and stood it back on end. When he pushed it flush against the wall, the symbol he had drawn was both broken and concealed. That done, Dhein turned and strode to the center of the room, where the summoning spell lay prepared, just where it was two days previous. In that time, thin roots had sprung up from the ground. The plant was tracing the symbol.

Aztal wobbled over to the circle and point, chattering his observation in Eredun.

"Don't mind it, Aztal. Step back." Dhein placed green soul stones at several vertices, preparing to exhaust living spirits in order to make up for the fact that a long-distance summoning usually required multiple casters working in concert. The reagents -- he had corrected Aztal's deception, apparently -- lay strewn around the circle.

No sooner had Dhein stepped back than he began the spell. The staff extended, the sprouts upon it swayed, and a new bud bloomed. Aztal sensed the power move. Fel flowed into the staff. It was not Fel that emerged. It was cold, and where Fel would slide purposefully along the reagents, consuming them like a glutton that wasn't even hungry, this new power chewed through the floor lazily, thoughtless, like a migrating glacier forced to move faster than it wished. The reagents were not touched.

The cold reached out of the room, southward, through the ground. Fel would not have touched the ground, but this spell dug deep into the earth on its way.

***

The shadows Antimony watched shifted amongst dense vines and fronds, and she continued to watch with passive curiosity as they rolled from the ground around her feet. She felt an echoing tug through her body, a lingering void in her bone and flesh being drawn down towards the earth. Alarm lifted her brow briefly before she realized what this likely was - or, perhaps, the familiarity of the chill was enough to reassure.

Then all light blinked out, and for a moment that stretched into forever, Antimony was completely unaware of her body.

When she appeared in the small home in the Drag of Orgrimmar, it was as though she melted from the shadows. She stood quite still, shadow clinging to her skin like water to drip in a lingering puddle at her feet that sunk into the markings of the summoning circle.

Dhein watched Antimony's manifestation with interest, one eyebrow raised. Aztal watched Dhein with just as much interest, a bit surprised at the Elf's composure. Once Antimony had fully manifested, Dhein diverted his attention from her long enough to eye his staff. The flower petals opened and turned towards Antimony the same way sunflowers turned towards sunlight.

Smirking, Dhein did likewise.

It took several seconds for Antimony to realize she was no longer standing in the Overgrowth, in part because the darkness lingered over her vision in a film, like a veil. She blinked and it cleared somewhat, though she found her body stiff and slow to respond. The shadow still clinging to her and the shadow she cast rippled with the slight shifting of her body as she resecured her grip on her staff. The dark matter woven into the wood extended further than it had before, thickening and sprouting a number of angular leaves towards the top.

Finally, she managed to lift her chin in some sort of acceptance or greeting, gaze finding Dhein's immediately, the elf unusually clear in the fading haze. She smiled. "It is good to see you again. I have fascinating things to speak of."

Dhein lifted a finger, stepping forward and reaching out to touch Antimony's arm, testing to see if he could feel the shadows he perceived. "What did I say about voicing your findings upon your return?"

Tilting her head slightly, Antimony found she couldn't recall what exactly he'd said about that. She watched his finger brush against her arm, sending a slight ripple through the shadows that seemed to have the consistency of smoke though they moved like water. Antimony lifted her own hand to rest it against the side of his arm. "I suppose you will remind me."

"Yes, I will." Dhein stepped into the circle and wrapped Antimony up in his arms, pulling her into a kiss.

Holding her staff out to one side, Antimony blinked into the kiss. Bits of shadow stuck to Dhein's arms and hands where he touched her, flowing over them. After a moment, she leaned her head back slightly to say, "Now, was I not correct in your ability to survive those arduous two days?"

Dhein smirked, pulling his head back but keeping their bodies close. "We must never discuss what inhuman lengths I had to go to in order to endure. I may need counseling, but there are professionals for that."

Lifting one brow, Antimony's lips quirked in restrained amusement. "Do try to hold yourself together then, when I tell you we may find it imperative to venture out a second time."

"The word 'we' means I am sated. Now, Antimony, I had said that we could not discuss your results until I'd had at least three hours' time to hold you."

She'd forgotten again. Inwardly rolling eyes she no longer possessed, Antimony acquiesced by leaning against him. "Of course. Three hours. Your time is ticking," she added a bit playfully.

Dhein chuckled at that, putting his face in her hair. "Did Aztal behave? How many times does he deserve to die?"

"Hm." Narrowing her eyes slightly, Antimony tapped her fingers against Dhein's arm in a silent count. "... Oh, only once or twice. Though he perhaps made up for it by being wonderfully productive."

"I'm sure he was just taking credit for your productivity."

"Oh no, I will give credit where credit is due. He collected the samples, at the very least."

"Fine. I won't begrudge a lady a good hard, even if it does show mercy to imps. I'll just kill him three times to be safe, though. Keep things in budget."

"Always mindful of the budget," Antimony murmured against Dhein's chest. "Now, you did remember to rest and eat, correct? Both."

"Yes, I did. But only because I recalled your chiding. Listening to your voice in my head over and over, just to keep myself going."

"I am pleased it works." She chuckled at that and glanced to one side, catching out of the corner of her vision the remaining shadow that dripped from her limbs. It had diminished notably but still clung in some persistent places and made the shade where their bodies met seem darker than usual. "It's a skill I'd crafted over many years."

"The list of your skills is endless. I'm always discovering more." Dhein squeezed the woman about her back. "Now, tell me that nothing bad happened and only good things happened while you were gone. No research findings. Simply reassure me."

"Nothing bad at all," Antimony replied easily. "Fascinating, really! Are you sure you do not want to know...?"

"It's enough for now to know that you are fascinated." Dhein put one hand on Antimony's face, feeling her skin and sinew, watching her features. "Did you miss me?"

"I did have a great deal of distraction," Antimony began with, trailing off and looking thoughtful.

"Of course I'm sure it seemed no more than a jaunt to you, enthralled by adventurous pursuits and knowing that your return would occur at a time that you deemed. As for myself." Dhein took one hand from Antimony and gestured to the room around him. "I had only these walls to comfort me, and no sense of time could help. Days bled together. Weeks? The word lost definition. I fear I have aged decades."

"It's been two days," Antimony reminded him, though not unkindly. A small smirk pushed at the corners of her mouth. "Unless you were making deals with Bronze dragons..."

"But what is time? Two days on a clock without sunlight might as well be an eternity in these shadows, where you are the only sun." Dhein wrapped his arms around Antimony and squeezed her again. "My love, be it two days or two decades, I've endured an age of darkness."

"I will endeavor to not put you through such torture again," Antimony comforted obligingly, lifting her own arm slightly to rest it against his back; her other still held her staff.

Dhein set his staff next to hers so that he could put that hand over her own, and dropped his other hand to her hip. "Every minute was an exercise in faith, that I did not summon you immediately."

Antimony felt something shift, like a leaning, down her arm to her focus, seemingly towards the proximity of Dhein's own. She observed this distractedly, though, faintly glowing eyes turned up towards the elf's face. "And I greatly admire and appreciate such effort, of course."

"Your appreciation radiates like the sun's warmth on freezing skin, beloved." Dhein kissed her.

Letting out a low hum through shredded vocal chords, Antimony leaned up on her toes, into the kiss. Alright, perhaps she had missed him, even if it had only been two days, though her mind continued to pester her with the urge to discuss all she'd learned from the trip.

Enjoying the kiss, Dhein let it expire before leaning his head away from hers, to look down on her. "Very well. You may tell me your results."

Antimony's brow lifted a moment; then her eyes narrowed in teasing suspicion. "Already? It has not yet been three hours."

Dhein smirked at that. "Yes, but I can discern your eagerness and desire to feel that energy."
"Song dogs barking at the break of dawn, lightning pushes the edges of a thunder storm. And these streets, quiet as a sleeping army, send their battered dreams to heaven."

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