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Re: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Twinflame » August 23rd, 2014, 11:44 pm

"Demonic armor can be crafted from Fel energies," Dhein said, as he turned the staff over and set the blade against it once more, working at the corners of one of the many runes he had carved. "Covering one's body in the Fel energies and letting it slide against one's skin, hardening, throbbing, filling the air with static repulsion. It isn't pleasant, but it's an essential spell for even a clumsy Warlock, and as simple as summoning an imp. Another very important aspect of the spell is that it involves very little actual exposure to Fel magic." He lifted the knife, turning to Antimony and gesturing with a shrug. "I mean, besides aforementioned bathing in Fel magic. But it's relatively slight."

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Re: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » August 24th, 2014, 12:09 am

"Relatively," Antimony muttered dubiously. She rotated the staff in her hands until it was horizontal and moved her grip until one hand closed over the stone while the other wrapped the wood a good foot and a half down the staff. "That seems a reasonable starting point, then." Setting her jaw, she steeled herself against incoming pain and summoned another burst of Holy Light down her arms and into the staff. The crystal flared bright from between her fingers and then trailed golden lines in intricate patterns along the staff once more. They lingered longer this time, though Antimony cut off her channeling of the energy almost immediately.

"We should begin with control tests, of course. And then we may attempt manipulating the specimen's energies."
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:22 pm

((Woops, somehow our RP shifted to Skype! So let's get things caught up in here...))


"Demonic armor can be crafted from Fel energies," Dhein said, as he turned the staff over and set the blade against it once more, working at the corners of one of the many runes he had carved. "Covering one's body in the Fel energies and letting it slide against one's skin, hardening, throbbing, filling the air with static repulsion. It isn't pleasant, but it's an essential spell for even a clumsy Warlock, and as simple as summoning an imp. Another very important aspect of the spell is that it involves very little actual exposure to Fel magic." He lifted the knife, turning to Antimony and gesturing with a shrug. "I mean, besides aforementioned bathing in Fel magic. But it's relatively slight."

"Relatively," Antimony muttered dubiously. She rotated the staff in her hands until it was horizontal and moved her grip until one hand closed over the stone while the other wrapped the wood a good foot and a half down the staff. "That seems a reasonable starting point, then." Setting her jaw, she steeled herself against incoming pain and summoned another burst of Holy Light down her arms and into the staff. The crystal flared bright from between her fingers and then trailed golden lines in intricate patterns along the staff once more. They lingered longer this time, though Antimony cut off her channeling of the energy almost immediately. "We should begin with control tests, of course. And then we may attempt manipulating the specimen's energies."

"Of course." Dhein placed the knife back on the table and left the Fel staff there, stepping away from the table and walking back towards the door where he'd left the third staff, unblemished and straight. The focus he took up with it was a red crystal, typical of the focuses used by Sin'Dorei students. "We can cast a few 'practice' barriers to make sure that magic and the focuses works correctly. Compare the different magics to one another first, right?"

Antimony rested her staff against the floor. It gave a dull click when the wood hit the clay-stone, and she felt it resonate up the wood. Satisfied for the moment, she leaned her slight weight upon it and turned to watch Dhein work his new focus. "Yes." She exhaled uselessly and thought that she really very much missed her sniffer. Keeping to herself how the thought of casting further Light spells made her undead muscles shudder, Antimony narrowed her eyes in thought. "Are you nearly done?"

Holding the staff in one hand and the stone in the other, Dhein smiled. "Well, I'm sure you would be if you were me. But I am merely Dhein." He lifted the staff and spun it hand, watching its movement for deviation. He had checked a hundred times to ensure its straightness on his way over, but would continue doing so. An arcane focus required a complete lack of deviation. Any bend had to be completely deliberate. If the wood warped at all, he would have to discard it.

"A magister's staff is all about mathematics." Dhein walked it over to the table he'd been working on before, moving the Fel staff aside. "This will require measurements, precise work, and..." he looked around. "Scratch paper. Maybe you can help?"

"Scratch paper." Antimony blinked, the glow of her eyes flickering. Then one corner of her mouth quirked. Of course, there was a reason she'd always found the arcane form of magic fascinating, despite her own decision to practice another school. "I doubt you will need such. Tell me what calculations you require."

Dhein lay the staff lengthwise and took up the knife. "I have to create six... uhm... six point..." He squinte, and tried to remember. "Six point twenty-eight rings of nine point forty-two notches along the length of the staff, and each notch needs to be as long as the radius of the width at that point on the staff, and the depth of each notch must be one millimeter and one-third millimeter thick. But I adjust the length of the notches to the ratio required in order to come out with exactly the six point twenty-eight and nine point forty-two. Approximately." He blinked, and shook his head, and chuckled. "Did any of that make sense?"

Her expression softened briefly into a faint smile. "Plenty." Then she cocked one brow and stepped forward closer to Dhein, reaching one hand out. "It's unfortunate I do not have my tools; they would make this trivial. But I've a good mind for numbers and ratios if you've the skills to follow instructions."

"I promise I'll listen to every word you say very closely, unless you look especially brilliant. Then I will be distracted by your face." He stepped back and gestured her to the staff. "Please let me watch your magic."


The process took longer than it maybe should have, but Antimony for once didn't allow that to bother her. Her thoughts cycled through calculations while her voice handed out instructions for Dhein to follow. She watched his actions with a hawk-like intensity, occasionally quickly correcting before any mistake could be made. Seeing his fingers, their flesh tinged with the warm colors of living blood and skin, work around the wood became almost meditative to her, completely absorbing to the part of her that was not dedicated to making sure their actions were absolutely precise and correct.

When the last mark had been cut into the staff, Antimony fell into silence for a moment, in part chasing her thoughts around back into something more conducive to actual conversation, and in part because she wasn't sure she'd been ready for that to end. Ultimately, she straightened and glanced sideways towards Dhein, speaking in a quiet but almost teasing voice, "If it does not work, I can guarantee it was not a result of any mistake on my part."

Dhein laughed at that, finding it an odd thing to say, but effective at switching the tone of the encounter into something more casual. "I'm sure any mistake in this pursuit will be my own. At least until Aztal turns up." Which he was starting to worry about, but he wasn't going to mention it now. They were working, after all. He took up the Arcane focus and turned on her. "Do we want to try it out? Do you want to? I'm sure you'd be a natural at the arcane!"

The yellow glow of her eyes flickered. "I have never practiced the summoning of arcane energies." She paused, gaze shifting to the staff and then back to Dhein. "Though I am very familiar with the formulae that describe it."

"I can show you!" Dhein spun the staff in his hand and almost looked like he was about to drop it, but honestly had full control of it at all times. Still, he held it much more carefully after that. "What shall we cast the protection spell on? I can cast it on you. I think it needs to be a person."

"Very well." Her body had no ingrained fear of the presence of arcane and so she lifted her chin curiously, waiting and watching the blood elf. "I will observe while you demonstrate. Don't you dare turn me into a sheep, however."

The insinuation that he might engage in some sort of misbehavior drew a smirk upon his features. "I am too much of a gentleman to conspire so, especially against one I respect as greatly as you." But the suggestion now had him thinking if this was a chance for any kind of useful hijinks. For instance, he could banish her clothing.

No, and shame on him for even thinking it! Those were very nice clothes, after all.

"Now, let's see. In theory I'm an expert at this, but I want to use a very modest amount of power so that we can imitate it safely with Fel magics without trouble." He paced towards the front of the room, staff in hand, and then turned towards Antimony. "Ah, I just had a thought. What if the plant reacts to magic in its vicinity? You should watch it very closely while I cast this spell."

"Then how am I to learn from you?" Antimony's eyes narrowed, not entirely ruling out potential hijinks on Dhein's part. Still, he had a point, and she reluctantly turned enough for the plant - in all of its twisted, shadowed glory - to fill most of her vision. She blinked at it, struck by the intensity of the sight, and then forcibly returned her attention to the matter at hand. She caught Dhein's movements out of the corner of her vision.

"Well, we do have to do a few trials, remember. Now, let's see." He looked at the staff, thought back to the calculations Antimony had done, and recalled the words of conjuring in his mind. Holding the focus in front of him, he let himself look over Antimony's form for a moment, just getting that out of the way up front. Then he imagined a few patterns and runes in his head and allowed it to shape the paths which the arcane would follow through the staff to shape the spell he desired.

When the red focus on the staff's head lit up, he barely noticed, focusing on the subtle movements to urge the spell into that which he desired. It was a fast spell, lighting as suddenly as a spark, but that spark needed to fly just so. Outwardly, the movement of the staff looked innocuous enough, almost idle, but it was deliberate.

The light in the stone flicked out and a shell of rigid mana struck around Antimony like lightning that froze in its first instant of being. Unlike Fel would, it did not touch her, just hanging in the air like static upon her clothes, and before the conjuring was even complete the spell was no longer attached to the focus. Again, unlike Fel, where the caster remained connected to the spell.

It felt like such an impersonal school of magic, now that he thought about it.

"Well, there it is," he reported, trying not to sound disappoint by... It wasn't that Fel didn't have one or two positive attributes even though it was completely terrible. He shouldn't feel bad about missing those things.

Antimony didn't notice the spell's presence around her immediately, so much did the plant draw her focus. She thought she saw something shift in its shadows and blinked, straightening slightly, only to realize Dhein had completed the spell and a faint, blue-purple shell glowed hard around her. She brushed off the anomaly in the plant as an artifact of the slight distortion the spell lent everything that lay beyond it.

She watched the plant a moment longer, its dark green color softened somewhat by the fuzz of blue encasing her form, and then turned back around to face Dhein. "I did not observe anything out of the ordinary. Ah... such as we can define ordinary with this thing, of course." Lifting one hand to just shy of the inner edge of the shell, Antimony watched its surface shiver, then lifted her gaze past her fingers to the elf. "I'm glad our efforts were successful." Our efforts. The awareness of not working alone still made her chest tighten impossibly.

"Glad is the perfect word for it. Though," Dhein stepped back towards the wall and put the staff against the floor, leaning it. "I must say that the glow of the magic is nothing compared to your natural radiance, even with such an unworthy garment obscuring your perfection."

Clearing her throat, Antimony found she had to look away from Dhein and so lifted her gaze first up towards the ceiling, then at the shell that arced above her. A few moments later it flickered and, finally, winked out. There was no noticeable dispersion of energy; the shield simply ceased to exist, as rapidly and with as much rigid motion as it had possessed when initially cast. It was an intriguing nature in arcane, so different from the Light, which often seemed to have a mind of its own.

She let these thoughts on the nature of arcane distract her from a heated embarrassment. "I would not say... well. Mm. If you think that is going to earn you further repeat of earlier activities, you... will need to try harder." She muttered the last phrase and wondered if it really was impossible for undead to blush.

"You always get my best efforts, Antimony." He paced towards her smoothly. "And I will never cease my earnest efforts to earn your slightest glance and breath, knowing it is only by your grace that I ever receive any speck of attention."

"Indeed," she murmured noncommittally, turning her head enough that she could look back towards the plant. Without the fuzz of the shield to obscure it, the shadows were once more as bottomlessly deep as before. The leaves looked a little sickly but not noticeably different. "Shall we repeat the test, then? I would like to observe its casting."

"Hm? Oh, yes!" He spun and took the staff back up eagerly. "You're not going to see very much. It's a great deal of diagrams and visualization, but pay attention to the slight movement of the staff as I cast my spell on you." He smiled when he said that, as if it were something sly.

"Of course." Once more she settled her gaze on Dhein, the light in her sockets reflecting just slightly on her cheekbones. She blinked at his smile and then shrugged internally. "You will need to describe such visualizations if I am to learn, of course. Perhaps draw a map... ah, but first things first. Mm." She lifted her chin towards him and folded her arms across one another. "I am ready."

"Very well! I hesitate to ask you to observe me closely for fear that you notice how tragically beneath you I am, so pray, consider the spell for its own worth." Saying this, he conjured the spell. It came easily and quickly this time as it was fresh on his mind and the paths that the mana was to follow were already drawn in the air around them. A flash and a bolt of power, and the magic spread about Antimony once more.

"Hm." The spell came too fast for Antimony to follow it out of the focus, but she thought she'd caught onto the patterns he'd made in his gestures. Shifting her attention, she thought on the sensations of the spell in the air around her, the static nature of it, like charged lightning, and then looked to the plant. It seemed unmoved, as before, so she let out a huff and nodded. "Consistent, at least to my observations."

Stepping forward until she was directly in front of Dhein, the field of mana moving with her, Antimony looked up at him and gestured to the staff. "Now, regarding those diagrams...?"

Dhein moved the staff out from in front of him and leaned his face towards Antimony's smiling. "I believe you took my pen."

"Did I? I don't recall you ever actually producing a pen." She lifted one brow and tried to resist leaning back away from his face. She could almost feel his breath, which made her self-conscious of the way her own lungs did not take in air. She forced her chest to rise and fall in an imitation of breath a few times and then just felt silly. "I do, however, have one of my own. You... may borrow it."

He lifted one hand towards her chin. "Anything you've touched is holy to me."

It was probably good she didn't have to breathe after all, for Dhein's voice was doing unspeakable things to her chest. One foot stepped backwards, shifting the dress she wore, but she didn't actually move anywhere. She felt like a young girl being courted, which was simply shameful given her age, appearance, and... everything else. "Including the pen, I suppose." She managed not to wince at the faint quiver in her voice. "Well, I give you permission to use it."

He smiled, "Thank you," and leaned forward to kiss her. Perhaps he read a bit too much into that pen talk.

Eyes widening, Antimony decided she should have seen that coming even though she really had been talking about her pen. She stood frozen for a moment, hands hovering at her side, and then it occurred to her that the first time had not been a fluke. "You--" she began only to find her lips moving against his warm ones in reminder that yes, he was kissing her. For a second time. She felt annoyance first - really, they were in the middle of work, it was hardly appropriate - but after a few moments that annoyance bent under the weight of...

Leaning up on her toes, Antimony set one hand on the arm that touched her chin and kissed back.

The elf wrapped his arms around her. Unlike the last time they'd kissed, this time he was well-groomed and ready. He had set up the moment. He would make good on it. Dhein pulled her to him and continued kissing her, running his fingertips back along her jaw to work his fingers into her hair.

... Something. She'd put words to it before, but now she didn't want to. The palpable presence of the plant prodded at her back, but she found it strangely easy to ignore with Dhein so inappropriately close. Or maybe it was pushing her into him. Yes, excuses. Her free hand opened and closed at her side, the occasional patch of exposed bone shifting bright white. His own fingers against the back of her neck, the base of her skull, playing in her hair, made her want to simultaneously pull away in shame and push further. She forcefully chose the latter - yes, it must be that plant, she would just blame it for all of this craziness - and moved the hand on his arm up to cling to his shoulder. "This is hardly conducive to work," she muttered half-heartedly, unable or unwilling to look at his face so close.

"We can work in a moment," Dhein answered, letting his lips roam Antimony's face while his hand moved on her back. "A closer relationship may actually help our work." He did not hesitate to kiss any part of her face. The feeling of her bones beneath her dress did not deter his hand.

"It is not appropriate," she tried when he broke away from her mouth and restrained an uncomfortable shudder when his lips found parts around her features where the skin had worn away. She should have invested in alchemists to patch those spots. Then at least she would look the part.

Feeling his hand run down her spine, she tried to arch her back away from his hand, actively not wanting him to notice those parts that were even more decayed, but just ended up pushing herself closer. She shut her eyes then, blocking out the yellow glow in her empty sockets, and just let her face rest against his.

He kissed her brow, letting his hand slide onto her hip. "What's inappropriate about it? Trust me: I may seem youthful, but I am quite old enough to have full agency. I do have a grown daughter, you know."

Her thin brow furrowed at that, eyes opening just slightly so that the light behind them was a mere sliver. "One who..." She trailed off, finding it unfair to bring such things against him now. He'd been punished enough. She sighed without breath, the action hitching at the sensation of his fingers resting against the bony protrusion of her hip. Her free hand moved behind her as though to swat him away, but then it froze, hanging near the small of her back indecisively.

"Antimony." He rested his hand on the bone of her hip deliberately. "I know exactly what I am doing. I have been thinking about this with nothing but hope for a long time."

"Have you." She knew her throat could not possibly be any drier, but she still felt as though someone had stuffed cotton fibers into it. Her fingers flexed anxiously behind her back, finding the loose cloth of her dress and then twisting there. "And what... is this, precisely?"

Taking his hand from Antimony's neck and running it over her face once more, moving her hair so that he could see her, he opened his eyes. With his lips very close to hers, their faces were illuminated in yellow and green glows. "I love you, Antimony. I want to be close to you in every way. I deserve none of you, I know, but desire everything about you."

Continued protests fell back down her throat to settle in her gut as a knot of nervous energy. She didn't really doubt those words. She could still remember with agonizing clarity when she had spoken those words herself. It didn't change how much she wanted to hide from him, though, and perhaps it was why she wanted to hide from him. Her features tightened, eyes widening. "I think perhaps... it should be the opposite."

Dhein smiled at that and shook his head minutely, staring into the glow of her eyes as though he could see some deeper part of her beneath. He let his hand slide from her face down her neck, over her collar, to her chest. "I don't think so. I've never respected anyone or desired anything more than you."

"You haven't--" Seen, she wanted to say. He hadn't seen what she'd become, what little there was left. She had always prided herself on her upkeep relative to other Forsaken, but it didn't change what she was. She dropped her eyes to his hand on her chest, watching how still it was. Any sign of life she gave it would be completely fake. "I cannot give such things anymore." Her hand behind her back moved to grip his wrist against her hip, and her fingers curled around his bones there with a desperation that surprised her.

"Don't think about that for now. Assume neither of us care." Dhein slid his hand further down Antimony's chest, letting it press between them on its journey to her stomach. "How do you feel?"

Leaning back slightly, Antimony found the knot in her gut performing a number of nervous contortions. She would prefer to go back to studying the arcane, she thought. And yet... "Concerned." It was an understatement, perhaps award-worthy, and yet there was a sureness in his presence, a security. His hand on her shrunken-in stomach seemed an intensely intimate thing. She shifted her thumb to press it against his wrist, feeling the steady beat of his pulse there.

"You do not need to be concerned about me, Antimony." He kissed her face again. "I cannot possibly feel worry when I am so busy feeling affection."

Antimony found the strength in her spine waning, and despite herself she leaned her face into his kiss. Her features remained tight with anxiety, however. She couldn't come up with a reasoned argument against his words, as emotionally driven as they were. "You haven't seen me," she muttered. "It is easy, when you are alive. But I am..." not.

"If you really know me, and think about me, and everything I've ever said and done towards you. Antimony, do you think that I would be turned away from you? That I would even care?"

Her eyes closed, and she dropped her head. She was still for a long moment, just feeling Dhein's pulse through his wrist. Then, nearly inaudible, she murmured a low, half-convinced, "I suppose not."

Dhein sighed, sliding the hand on her stomach to the side and dropping it to rest on her other hip. "Supposing is an intellectual concession. I'd prefer an emotional one, if I've liscense to be picky."

Biting the inside of her lip, Antimony focused on Dhein's hands at her hips, his palms curving over the bone that jutted out at sharp angles. Beneath the dress, on one side she knew the flesh had almost completely peeled away, exposing hip and some of the rotten, dry muscle of her thigh. It made her sick to think about. That was emotional.

"I suppose..." she began again, but stopped herself. She could feel her hand shaking against his wrist. Then in a rush, she lifted her head, pushed up on her toes, and pressed her lips against his in as emotional a kiss as she could muster.

Dhein returned the kiss with just as much emotion. When she lifted herself up, he let his hands fall, taking her by the backs of her legs and lifting her all the more against him, pushing their bodies flush against one another.

Shuddering with self-directed revulsion, Antimony dropped her hand from Dhein's wrist and moved it up to grip this side of his arm. Her other arm curled around his shoulder, clutching at the fabric against his back. She let out a faint, unconscious whimper as she broke from the kiss for a moment to watch his face. Her hand found his hair and tangled her fingers in it as she searched his expression.

The elf smiled as she broke off the kiss, but held her still. He looked into her eyes, watching for any emotion. He felt completely satisfied, and yet still felt limitless need. He waited for her, not wanting to take more than she would give, content to let her take her time. Somehow, though he had felt so out of control with desire before, he was now in complete control. "This is what I've wanted all along." He said, explaining his inner confusion out loud. "Ever since before I met you, I wanted this."

"That doesn't..." make sense, she finished silently but found herself unable to voice it. That was emotion; of course it didn't make sense. The desiccated muscles along her throat tightened. She hadn't felt like this since long before. Before everything. "Alright," she sighed out, features softening to an expression of longing before intensifying into an urgent need. The light in her eyes glowed bright as she pulled herself closer to him again, pushed herself into an open-mouthed kiss.
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:28 pm


"Everything about this is prefect," he spoke into her lips, around the kiss, forcing himself to vocalize his thoughts. "Except. Maybe the table could be in ivory. And we could have a velvet fainting couch to fall on together now."

Her shoulders jerked in a brief chuckle at that, and she tilted her head back enough to peer towards Dhein's eyes, quirking one brow. "A fainting couch. But I do not faint." Anymore, at least.

"Fainting is only one of its uses. I would more prefer to use it to lay next to you and watch your face for a half hour or so. Were I a rich man I may design an entire piece of furniture just for such activities."

"That sounds ridiculous." But she found herself smiling at it anyway, or rather at him. "I don't think you would have much luck finding a couch of any kind in this city, though. And for now... we need our remaining funds for more practical purposes."

"Ah, practicality." Dhein rolled his eyes towards the ceiling as if to speak to some intangible concept. "Ever my nemesis. Although." He dropped his gaze back to Antimony and stood away from the table, keeping himself against her but rising to his full height above her. "I was once an accomplished student and researcher, of a kind. I must know how to be practical when I want to be."

When he rose, her arms lifted with him, though they ended up just loosely resting up over his chest, her hands across his shoulders. Her mouth quirked further. "I do not doubt it. A master of keeping on task, as demonstrated so... hm."

"Hm?" He smiled coyly down at Antimony, petting one side of her face. "But by some standards this has all been a monumental distraction from our work. Not that I hold those standards myself."

"... I can see that." Antimony lifted both brows. "Should I be cross with you if we've missed a monumental discovery during all of this?"

Dhein shook his head. "We would've missed a monumental discovery if we hadn't done this."

The light in her eyes flickered rapidly as she blinked, suddenly flustered, and dropped her face to his chest. She was silent for several moments and then, carefully, cleared her throat. "... Yes. I suppose so." She became very aware of her nakedness then and fidgeted with indecision. If she pulled away, he would see her fully, which should not have bothered her as much as it did given what they had just done. And yet the intimacy of before had been so close and private that the room around them felt suddenly overly large and exposing.

Sliding his hands down both her arms, Dhein smiled down at her. "As long as we're thinking of practicality, I think we had another focus to test, didn't we?"

"Mm. Yes. Yes, though..." She hesitated. "We should perhaps dress for that."

Dhein quirked his gaze up towards a corner of the ceiling, smirking like either he found the thought strange or had already had the thought and was disappointed she'd brought it up. "Oh, perhaps. I guess that is what a professional team of researchers would do."

"It is." Her hands moved to her hips, but the gesture made her feel more exposed and so she almost immediately dropped them. "Now, turn around while I retrieve my dress and you may do so with yours."

At that Dhein moved his head back a few inches. "...Turn away? But I have my hands all over you."

"Yes, but it's not appropriate to watch a woman dress, so." She frowned and poked a finger at him. "Turn."

Somewhat dejectedly, Dhein took his hands from Antimony, muttering "I barely got a... Well." He stepped back, bumping into the table, then turned.

"Got a what?" When he stepped away her arms snapped around herself, and she watched him hawkishly for a moment before moving hastily to snatch up her clothing. "I am just asking for you to be polite."

"Which is why I comply earnestly." Dhein said to the wall, crossing his arms and shrugging his naked shoulders. "One of my highest priorities is to do whatever you ask."

She shut her eyes as she pulled the fabric over her head, wriggling her arms through and letting it drop to cover her legs. She let out a wispy sigh, half in relief that her body was once more concealed and half in apology for feeling the need to do so to Dhein. "And I deeply appreciate it." As she spoke she began to button up the front, eyes turned down to her fingers. "You should dress as well."

Turning back to Antimony, Dhein spread his arms. "Shall I do so plainly or with flair?"

"With... what?" She lifted her gaze and her expression twitched in immediate embarrassment upon seeing him. She averted her eyes slightly. "Ah... well... however you wish, I suppose."

Dhein grabbed his clothes and steps back towards the table once more. "Very well. Usually I've had a drink or two first and I ask Aztal to sing an accompaniment, but for you, I can make due."

Brow furrowing in a mix of confusion and concern, Antimony chose to watch Dhein's face instead of... the rest of him (seriously, if zombies could blush...). "I'm... not certain I understand. What are you doing...?"

"Well, you'll see." He pushed himself up on the table, which broke immediately. Not in half, but in a crooked third, with one side popping up and smacking him in the shoulder. Instead of falling straight down, Dhein stumbled to the side and then hit the wall.

"Dhein!" Antimony ceased working on her buttons immediately, hurrying around the table to the elf. "Are you alright? What were you thinking, trying to stand on such a rickety thing..."

He bounced off the wall, appearing mostly unharmed. Dhein tried to save face. "Well, I figured if it could withstand earlier activities, I had a fair bet." He shrugged, and winced, but ignored the pain a moment later.

Brow pulling down into a frown, Antimony leaned forward to inspect him, catching the wince as brief as it had been. "Are you sure? One doesn't normally fall off--through!--a table and go unharmed. If you're hurt, it would be very unwise to hide it."

"I'm not hurt. Observe." He moved his arm in a big circle, trying not to wince. As he brought his arm down from the circle, he dropped it around Antimony and pulled her towards him to kiss her.

Antimony managed a surprised sound, both arms lifting slightly as she was dragged forward. His mouth muffled any further protest, however, and she didn't have much heart to resist harder. Her hands hovered out to either side of her, almost poked at him but then remained away, feeling strange about touching him when he was naked and she now clothed. "I suppose you aren't too injured if you can pull tricks as this," she muttered against his lips.

Dhein used distraction. It was effective.

Dhein's lips turned up against Antimony's own. "Right. I think I should skip the show for now, considering circumstances."

Antimony lingered a moment longer, struck by a strange melancholy in the moment, and then leaned back to place one hand on his chest. "Very well. Get dressed so that we may continue with our research, hm?"

"Of course. One would never be able to tell we were an official research crew if one of us was wearing red and the other is naked. Which would be the uniform? I suppose one of us must change, and I'll make the sacrifice."

Stepping away, she half turned from Dhein and shifted her gaze a short distance across the room to where the focus she'd crafted lay on the floor. "Indeed. We must keep up professional appearances. An ordered body allows for an ordered mind, after all." Then she stepped towards the focus to take it up.

As she walked away, Dhein put on his pants. "I am ever willing to order bodies with you." He grimaced, and put his arms through the sleeves of his robe. "I'm not sure what I was trying to say just now."

Antimony paused, blinked down at the focus. "... It seemed rather like an innuendo," she commented dryly, though her mouth curved as she faced away. Bending to pick it up she turned back around to face him and set it before her, leaning forward against it.

"Did it?" He pulled the robe of his head and let if fall down around his body, taking a moment to flip his hair over the collar and let it fall behind him. "When I said it I had this mental image of, say, ordering bodies off of a menu. Not at all what I meant. After all, I'd only ever order yours." He grimaced again, shaking his head at himself.

"That... what?" Discolored bangs shifted across one empty socket as she tilted her head to one side, and she pursed her lips in an unpleasant expression. "... Rather odd of... let's not think of such things, please." She seemed distracted by something on his head or above him suddenly, and her mouth quirked.

"That didn't come out right. Just forget it." He waved it off and began to fasten the clasps of his robe.

She furrowed her brow briefly, watching him, and finally just gestured in a vague, dismissive manner. Humming low in thought, Antimony crossed back over to Dhein then and stretched up on her toes to reach up and fidget a bit with his hair, apparently unsatisfied by something.

Finished his work on his robe and watching Antimony's actions, Dhein remarked. "We could use a mirror in here. And, for various reasons, a bed, now that I'm thinking about it."

"You do not want to sleep on the floor? It is good enough for orcs," she smiled a bit teasingly as she said this, finishing arranging whatever had apparently gone wrong with his hair. She then took her fingers to her own thin strands, combing through it, and furrowed her brow.

Dhein stepped to the side without really turning away. "Orcs do not even require floors. I'm sure they would boast that they could slumber beneath the furiously beating blades of their enemies. As for myself, I see the need for no such boasts. We should have a bed."

"And a mirror," Antimony agreed, sighing thinly and dropping her hand from her hair. "Well, nothing to be done for it at the moment. There is a task that demands our attention."

"Mm hm." Dhein fished the Fell staff out of the wreckage of the table, holding the black-gemmed, dark wood construct up and eyeing the runes carved into it. These were not so precise, and the straightness of the staff was less important to him.

Bright eyes watched him carefully for a moment, and the staff in his hand. Her own fingers shifted around the smooth grained wood of the focus she had crafted as she spoke, "I do not know how the spell you had in mind for fel energies functions, but I would prefer to not cast the Light shield on myself, if you do not mind."

Turning to Antimony, holding the staff at his side, Dhein gave a smirk. "I've got no worry about the light. Besides, I cast the arcane shield on you. It wouldn't be a fair test to cast it on the caster." He gave the staff in his hands a look. "Although, I'm not sure how you feel about -- or I feel about -- casting Fel incantations on you."

She shut her eyes briefly in unhappy thought, and then lifted her chin to look towards him once more. "Our work cannot abide such hesitations. We simply must draw a line so as to do so no more than is absolutely necessary."

Frowning and standing very straight, Dhein responded in a flat tone. "I prefer to keep such lines shortened to myself."

Setting her other hand to her staff and twisting them on the wood, Antimony furrowed her brow deeper. "I do not like the thought of you using such magics on yourself either. Considering its history." She pressed her lips together, leaned her weight forward on the staff in mild agitation, and then just huffed out a short sigh. "Let us be done with this distasteful part. No more than twice on you, but if you are confident in the crafting's success, it would be fine to leave it only at a single cast."

"I'm not sure that's viable," Dhein sighed. "We need a fair amount of trials, particularly with Fel, for the plants effects remind me of it so much. Some Quel'Dorei managed to study the Fel for centuries without succumbing to it. You were right the first time. This is science. Science is bold, but cautious."

"And you were not one of those Quel'Dorei," Antimony reminded sharply, golden eyes narrowing in concern. "Caution, Dhein. Demonstrate more of it this time than you did before."

"Past experiences have unlocked depths of caution previously unseen in mortal beings." Dhein said this very seriously, eying the staff in his hands, and then set it aside. "Perhaps we should start with a bit of the light, then? Adding a smidgeon of Fel's antithesis to the atmosphere can do wonders for Fel's obedience."

Drawing herself upright, Antimony tried to make her expression soften, though she ended up just looking more worried than annoyed. "I suppose that would be wise then," she spoke reluctantly and moved even moreso. "Alright," she sighed out, "As with arcane, I will attempt to sense any irregularities during the process... if you could do the same with the final product."

Ensuring the Fel staff was securely balanced against the broken table, Dhein stepped away from it a good distance, not wanting its runes to interfere with the Light, or vice versa. "And I will watch the plant for reaction as well."

She nodded at that, offering a small, grateful smile Dhein's way before focusing on the staff in her hands. Her body tensed in anticipation of the Light, and she struggled for several moments with an instinct that seemed far more powerful than usual to pull away from such magic, rather than seek it out. Frowning deeply and leaning her weight on the staff, Antimony forced her thoughts and focus in the opposite direction they wanted.

She felt the energy in her bones first, like magma burning her from the inside, and she clenched her teeth against it, forcing it into the staff as quickly as she could manage while maintaining its order. Little rivers of gold ran up the staff from where her fingers gripped it, and the quartz stone shone bright. The Light came and went willingly, such magic requiring very little guidance once summoned, and it bounced from her body to the focus and in a visible arc towards Dhein over the span of just a few seconds. Above his head it rippled outward and down like water flowing over glass, forming a glowing bubble all around him. The moment it connected with the elf, Antimony cut the power off from herself with a relieved exhalation and lifted her gaze towards Dhein curiously.

Dhein was watching Antimony with a furrowed brow. "Are you alright?"

Eyes flickering with a blink, the glow behind the sockets slightly dimmer, Antimony just nodded and gestured slightly towards Dhein. Her arm moved stiffly, and she shook it a bit to try and get her muscles to relax. "Does it seem secure?"

The Blood Elf spread his arms as if to press the backs of his hands against the shield, though it expanded with his movement. There was a familiar sensation, like hot soap washing oil from his skin, that reminded him of bathing in the Sunwell. It was a small echo of the sensation of demonic possession leaving his veins, either brought on by nostalgia or...

Well, the Light certainly wasn't something he encountered in his day-to-day life.

He shrugged. "It holds firm and feels consistent with past exposures to the Light. The plant has shown no noticeable reaction."

She flicked her gaze towards the plant briefly, then back to Dhein, and her dry lungs rattled out a forced sigh. "Good." She watched as the bubble of Light around Dhein shivered and then, a moment later, dispersed as though shattered. A faint shimmer of gold lingered where it had hung in the air that faded more slowly. "Once more then, as with the arcane." And she steeled herself.

"You can pause if you like."

"No, I would like to get this done with," Antimony spoke stiffly and forced her spine to pull her muscles upright. Channeling the spell a second time was far harder and seemed to take far too long to Antimony's perception to move from her body to the focus and across the space between them. Something bubbled in her chest, twisting, and she grimaced as she released the protection spell with a rough gesture. It coalesced around Dhein just as before, testament to her own strength of will in that it did not seem weaker.

Dhein observed the spell passively, watching Antimony carefully. His expression was one of suspicion when he ventured, "Are you sure that you do not require that fainting couch?"

"I am fine," she didn't mean to snap, but her words lashed out with more force than she'd wanted. She shook her limbs, and then her head, bringing one hand to her face. "The Light is not particularly fond of..." Lifting her fingers from her face, she made a small gesture. "I apologize. It will pass. Do you notice any change?"

"The plant remains unaffected and there was no change on my end." With a hand on his hip, he looked her over. "How about you?"

"I will be alright," Antimony murmured, flexing her hands carefully as though afraid they might drop off, and then offered Dhein a tense smile. "If all seems in order, let us be done with the Light for now, hm?"

"All is in order. We at least know that the focus is working and is fully controlled. Therefore." He turned and took up the Fel staff once more. "I suppose it is my turn. To keep up the rhythm of these trials, I should cast the spell on you. However, if we are only evaluating its viable use... If only Aztal were here."
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:35 pm

The imp stepped out from behind the pot which the plant set in, barking angrily in Eredun, then ending with the words "Lab rat!" and "Abuser!"

Antimony jumped at the voice, eyes widening and nearly dropping the staff. "Azt--what--how long have you been there??"

Aztal shuffled back behind the pot.

Dhein stomped towards him, "Aztal, I was looking for you earlier. You answer Antimony's question!"

The imp fled from the plant as Dhein approached it, running to a corner of the room. "Iiiiiiii have a bad sense of time! Couldn't say!"

"You--if you've been watching us--ooh, I will rip your little arms off!" Antimony looks mortified.

Dhein just looks surprised. "I would've never expected that of him. I'd thought I'd taught him to be a gentleman."

"Defamation!" Proclaimed the imp, bouncing up and down in his little corner. "Misrepresentation! Accusations without evidence!"

Letting out an annoyed sound, Antimony moved towards Aztal. "Just get over here and make yourself useful," she demanded. "And stand still, for Light's sake."

Remained where her stood, pulling at the tuft of hair just below his lip, Dhein pondered, "Is it really a fair test to cast a Fel spell on a demon, though? ... Ah, now I've gone too far to the other extreme and am thinking too much. Antimony, why must caution be so difficult?"

"It was a fine idea. Much preferable to casting it on yourself." She directed an extremely firm gaze towards the imp in the corner. "And he should be knowledgeable enough to detect any irregularities in the spell around his person, yes?"

"Yes yes yes." Aztal chanted as he paced over towards Dhein, stopping at the man's feet and looking up at him. The imp stood with his hands at his sides, staring at his master while his master stared down at him. This went on for several long seconds. Then Aztal spread his arms and muttered a question in Eredun.

Dhein kicked the imp in the chest, knocking him rolling. "Unthinkably not gentlemanly, Aztal. And no more hiding behind pots. Ever. Pots are off-limits forever."

"Pots... Dhein! Was he really...?" Oh she might actually need that fainting couch soon. Her knuckles whitened around the staff.

"I doubt it," Dhein answered, his tone neutral. He shrugged.

Aztal pulled himself up and walked back over to the elf, presenting himself once more, appearing unphased. So Dhein kicked him again. He did this once more before Aztal finally approached with a limp, which seemed to satisfy Dhein.

"Very well." Dhein pointed towards an open space in the room. "Stand there and pay attention. We are test if this spell reacts to the presence of the plant, or the plant reacts to the presence of the spell."

Letting out a short huff, Antimony took a step back. She chose to watch Dhein rather than the imp, inspecting him carefully. "Indeed. We need your utmost attention, Aztal. Any irregularities, however small."

The imp walked over to the wall where indicated, shaking his arms over his head. "I know I know I know I KNOW I KNOW COME ON HIT ME!" He turns to face Dhein, apparently expecting to be blasted with a Fel bolt or fireball of some kind. When the Fel armor descends over him, he seems at first perplexed.

Dhein stood with the staff held firmly in one hand and his other extended towards the imp. Green fire roiled like fumes about the runes on the staff and his arms and shoulders. He frowned at the sensation. It was like a stain spreading over his skin, but it lingered whether he liked it or not.

The crease between Antimony's brows deepened as she watched Dhein. Even at this distance, she could feel the oily weight of fel magic leaking into the air around him. It left her feeling somewhat ill. "Well?"

Dhein repeated, "Well?"

"What?" Aztal looked around, and moved his limbs. He then began to chatter away in Eredun, stringing together long series of syllables in quick moments.

"Okay, stop." Dhein looked towards Antimony and shrugged. "No difference between this an any of the other magics. The energies from the plant do not seem to want to play. At least, not without some prodding."

Antimony hummed neutrally at that, continuing to watch Dhein. "So it seems. Do you wish to test it again, as with the others? Or shall we move on to the next stage."

"One more time," Dhein said, turning a very firm eye on Aztal. "Pay very, very close attention to the spell this time."

"Yes, we need the foci to be as consistent as possible to generate proper baselines," though she ostensibly said this to Aztal, she kept watching Dhein. Though he'd stopped casting the fel spell many moments ago, she thought she could still sense it lingering in the air; perhaps they would both be better off taking up strictly arcane when this was over.

Dhein waited patiently for the Fel incantation to dispel, sliding slowly from Aztal like heated grease. The imp shifted impatiently and continued to chitter observations in Eredun, none of which were about the spell and none of which Dhein had any patience for. "Silence, Aztal. Hold still now."

The imp had a questionable definition of 'still' but the spell was unaffected by it. Casting it a second time was simple. He didn't even move the staff this time, his hand barely extending. His fingers gestured to remind the spell of its previous path, and it slid down the familiar ephemeral gouges it had already carved for itself once before. It bubbled across his skin on his shoulders and arms, chasing away the lingering sensations of Antimony's touch which he'd been enjoying. A distressing side effect.

The slight difference between this casting and the previous one was expected, however. "Just as expected. Aztal, observations. Concerning the spell."

Aztal behaved as if the question were entirely elementary and began to squawk on about the fundamentals of Fel incantation and the extreme ease of the spell. Eredun had an entire sub-dialect devoted to mockery. Dhein hissed. "Enough, Aztal. No significant deviations, then."

"Good, good," her satisfaction was dampened by the heavy film of Fel that lay in the air between Dhein and the imp. It had not bothered her as much back in the Barrens, when the need to flee that place as quickly as possible overrode all other desires, but now she wanted it with them as much as she wanted the Light in her veins. She didn't think much further on it, lifting her own focus just slightly and channeling a burst of Light as brief as she could get away with. It seared across her bones in a way that twisted her fingers painfully, but a moment later it burst in an outward wash, running over everything in a several meter radius like some metaphysical scrub brush.

The Fel in the room recoiled like a snail from salt. Dhein felt the bubbling along his skin turn into a lukewarm boil that lasted for an instant before evaporating away, leaving him standing awkwardly strait and feeling confused. The Light that brushed over him was not that dissimilar from that which had shielded him earlier. The green fumes that had lingered around the staff and his fingers was put out.

Aztal's reaction was much more animated; the imp fell to one side and shrieked in protest, as if stung.

"Silence, Aztal. You deserve it, at least." Dhein turned his gaze towards Antimony. The green coloration of his eyes momentarily faded, just slightly, and his pupils were visible as they looked her over. Then the green light flared, too ingrained into his person to be pushed down for long.

Antimony forcibly released on of her hands from the staff and worked her fingers in silence a moment before lifting her golden eyes towards Dhein. "I would like to keep those such things to a minimum," she commented, mouth twitching down at the corners as she waited for her body to decide it was not going to crumble. "On both our parts."

Dhein inclined his head. "If only I had any talent for the Light at all."

"Yes, well," she stepped towards him and turned slightly to look towards the plant. "At any rate, it seems we've got stable foci now. Which means the more exciting parts of our investigation can begin." She glanced up towards him, with a small smile.

"It also means we need to begin taking exceedingly detailed notes. Shall we hire a scribe? I have one in mind who works for cheap and has a history of, surprisingly, not doing a terrible job."

"Would said scribe be an imp by any chance?" She tapped her chin. "We'll need to stock up on more parchment paper. And ink."

"And impress upon him the need to write his notes in-"

"Eredun!" The imp shouted, pulling itself painfully back to its tiny feet.

Dhein rolled his eyes. "In Common, Aztal."

"Stupid language! Eredun! Draenic! Qiraji!" Aztal ran in tiny widdershins in the corner. "Anything but stupid Common!"

"Taura'he?" Dhein questioned.


"Then how am I to read it, Aztal?" Antimony pursed her lips towards the imp. "We must be able to go through them at later times for analysis."

The Imp stomped his foot and pointed one little finger, commanding must unkindly. "Learn Eredun!"

"That's not happening." Dhein poked the imp's head with the bottom of the Fel staff hard enough that the imp was knocked over. He then gave Antimony a smile. "He'll behave. So, what's our shopping list? A bed, a mirror, a comb, some oils for grooming -- those get complicated," he counted on his fingers, "a nail file, some... Oh, right! Ink and parchment. And something to drink would be good. And then something pretty for you."

Aztal protested, "I don't want anything pretty!"

"Clearly, Aztal, I have been speaking to Antimony." He bopped the imp in the head again.

Antimony blinked. "... I wouldn't mind a protractor and a drafting compass, if we could find such in this place. And... hm. We'll want water for the specimen, as well. And if Aztal could begin transferring any books from that library of yours that could be useful..."

"Ah, yes," Dhein smiled. "I'd forgotten about the books."

Aztal groaned and walked his widdershins with the mopey air of a displeased servant.

Dhein ignored the imp's frustration. "Aztal, I'd have you collect the tomes that we used for our latter experiments. Both the records and the materials referenced."

The imp gawked. "Two hundred and five books. Seventeen journals. Seventy-five unfiled papers. Days of work!"

"Don't complain. Prioritize what you think is most applicable. Oh, and get the rest of Adam's fingers!"

"Adam doesn't have any fingers left."

"Then get some toes."

"You need new zombies."

Dhein gasped. "Aztal! That is utterly inappropriate! I thought I'd taught you better tact than that."

Aztal gestured to Antimony. "Use her fingers."

Dhein bopped him a good one. Such a great bop it was that the imp slammed against the wall a meter and a half above the ground, then clattered to the ground in a groaning heap.

"What!" Antimony's own squawk of offense sounded around the heavy thud of Aztal colliding with the far wall. "Really now, if you can't be at least decent to us, then be silent and gone. You've your tasks." She huffed and tucked her fingers against her sides.

"I'm sure he's just trying to upset you, Antimony." Dhein gestured to Aztal, already seeming jovial again. "He's like any other childish being, except he's too smart. Oh, and it's completely acceptable to injure him immensely. You've seen how resilient he is."

"Indeed," Antimony muttered uncomfortably and turned away from Aztal to step closer to the plant. She tilted her head and looked at it a moment, reigning her thoughts back in to focus on the more important matters at hand. "Regardless, I've some paper enough left for a few more notes, if we wanted to start something presently. Or did you wish to go shopping again?"

"I wish to study you." He blinked, shook his head, and chuckled. "Well, yes, but I meant to say: I wish to study WITH you. Aztal can fetch books later. For now, we will punish him by making him right his observations in Common, Taura'he, as well asssss...." Dhein rolled his eyes to watch the imp.

Aztal had just managed to drag himself to his knees, and was appearing very pathetic and afraid.


Aztal wailed, throwing his hands in the air. He protested in a long series of Eredun syllables that contained an entire lecture on the inefficiencies of the Arrakoa language and its incompatibility with any Azerothian tongue.

"Exactly." Dhein responded. "And you must utilize the post-shattering dialect, which I know you're not quite as fluent in."

Antimony bit down on a chuckle that wanted to force its way through her throat, though her lips did strain with a smirk. "I believe he is letting you off lightly, Aztal. Demonstrate some grace and cooperate without complaint. We need to focus." She considered the plant before her for then, and added slower, "Given our initial observations upon its similarities to Fel, perhaps we should attempt to reach the energies with that focus first."

"I admit that is not inaccurate. Also, regretfully, it is my specialty." Dhein approached the plant, still hold the Fel staff in his hands. The passage of the Light had chased away all the stagnant Fel left over from the spell he'd cast on Aztal, which was convenient. A Fel focus, like a beating heart, becomes clogged and dies. "Aztal, get ready."

The imp chittered, scurrying about to gather ink and paper and quill. He positioned these items on the floor, the table being too high for him and broken besides.

"Just take care not to summon Fel," Antimony reminded, perhaps a bit too firmly. "We don't want to contaminate the observations."

"When have I ever accidentally contaminated a project with Fel?" Dhein said, trying very hard to avoid thinking about the question and thus coming up with examples both obvious and recent.

Aztal, evidently thinking the same, huffed in his tiny voice and began to write, apparently already making observations. That was good, at least.

All right. Dhein looked back at the plant and extended the staff towards it, dipping it into the plants aura the same way one might dip a spoon into soup. "The focus does not seem to be reacting on its own," he reported. He then tried to pull at the plant's energy, to draw it into the staff. "I can move the energy, however. It ascends the stone and wood."

Antimony leaned forward, her eye sockets wide and attentive, the light in them shining bright enough to reflect minorly against the dark leaves. "You can, good!" Her fingers twitched and yearned for that wonder of goblin engineering so unjustly stolen from her. "Now recall we're looking for differences in its reaction with the focus compared to the baseline."

"Well I can say right away that it is not sticking to the runes the way that Fel would." He watched the staff as though he could see the energy, though there was nothing more visible than a subtle sigh of air. He gestured. "Fel follows the paths in the way that water follows irrigation, though depending on the spell it may flow upward or boil over at points. Whatever this plant is emitting, it seems to be ignoring the runes."

She felt a smile cracking across her features. "Perhaps an entirely new strain of energetics...! Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself... Is there any, hm, tension in the flow? How might you describe its aetheric shape? If you try to move it, do you sense any particular pattern to the energy waves?"

Dhein shrugged. "Gaseous? Enveloping? It's flowing down the staff... like a fog settling into the bottom of a room, perhaps? Cold." He thought about that. He'd always thought the Arcane power was hot and Fel was lukewarm. But maybe that wasn't the best descriptor for this. "No. Steely. A gaseous sort of metal. That's an odd way for energy to feel, isn't it?"

"Gas... interesting. Most magics tend to flow in mathematical patterns similar to the currents of a river or ocean. Water." She tapped her chin. "Well, except for arcane. But as a gas... Diffuse, then?" She tilted her head, leaning very close to the plant and flicking her gaze between it and the staff. "A passive flow, or is there order to it?"

"Diffuse, yes, that's a better word. I'm not sensing any pattern except for a need to spread out and fill space. The staff is just a suggestion."

"How very strange," Antimony sounded more excited than perplexed though. This close to the plant, she could feel its aura pressing against her skin, cold and ephemeral, but clinging. "I almost feel as though we should spend some time modeling the movement of fog and smoke and other gases, alongside these observations... Though such a comparison would be limited as it's my understanding that magics behave more like light in that they are both a particle and a wave in characteristic..." She trailed off then, her thoughts meandering.

"I suspect you could observe this with your own focus as well. I'm..." He thought for a moment. "Unsure if I can cast anything with this. My hypothesis is that, because the energy does not adhere to the runes, I will not be able to shape it into a spell."

"Hm?" The yellow light behind her sockets dimmed and then flickered with a rapid blink. "... Oh! Of course. Yes. You should release it, and we'll see how it behaves with the Light-attuned."

"Let me try and cast it and see what happens." Dhein lifted the staff in Aztal's direction. The imp was too busy writing to notice.

Antimony craned her neck to watch, curious

Dhein invited the magic into the runes, urging it with a movement of the spell and a certain discourse with his will. Fel, unlike Arcane, was a magic with a will. Casting a spell was essentially a forceful request, and Fel was ever-eager to please. In this case, however, the energy of the plant did not seem to hear him. It did not acknowledge any will or request, ignoring the runes and the motion. They simply explored the staff, as though curious, and when he released it to form the spell, they simply dispersed.

Antimony hung in silence for a long moment, waiting for any sign of activity from the energies on which Dhein had pulled. Aztal made no motion of reaction, which brought a thoughtful furrow to her brow, and she mulled it a moment longer before venturing, "As difficult to control as any other gas, it seems. I wonder if it requires some sort of chamber or channel to indirectly manipulate it in..." She blinked and shook her head, muttering, "No, no, getting ahead again." Then, clearing her throat, she shifted to look back towards the plant.

"Let's not forget that it's still energy. We probably just need to find the proper means of conduction." Dhein walked over to the broken table and lay the Fel staff over it. "Do you want to try the Light focus now?"

Antimony hummed in assent and pushed herself upright to stand over the plant. The chill she'd felt on her skin fell away reluctantly. "A focus of Light uses no guiding runes or other symbols. It is more a raw conduit than something that functions to deliberately shape a spell." A small, amused smile pushed at her mouth. "Rather the opposite to Fel and Arcane." She lifted the staff in her hand then, moving it close to the plant and concentrating on the edges of her perception.

"Perhaps it will be more successful, then." Dhein paced over to look down at Aztal's notes. "You're using the wrong Arrakoa dialect. Start over."
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:43 pm

Antimony perceived the energies around the plant as a palpable emptiness. Though the shadows around its leaves were thick and roiling, the cloud of energy that moved beyond it took no visible form. She felt it, though, and where the Light was like fire, she felt this energy as frigid ice. She sought to pull up on it, calling on the magics in the manner she normally called upon the Light, and sensed the amorphous mass. It was just as Dhein had described, and it reached and expanded across the space between her and the plant.

“I am not noticing any significant reaction yet,” she murmured carefully, voice low with distraction as she focused on the energies that billowed unseen around her fingers. It chilled her bones, seeping into both dead veins and the grain of the focus, though she could sense an aura of it extending beyond even that, as though it were searching for more. The glow of her eyes flickered. “It is simply there, though it came easily enough. I will attempt a spell.”

"Present, but a rather not energetic form of energy, see?" Dhein stepped a few meters back from the plant, looking down at Aztal, then back at Antimony. "Perhaps cast it on me. Aztal, observe very closely."

"Yes." Antimony tilted her head slightly, gaze unfocused as she concentrated. "Recalling what I can of the readings the sniffer gave us, I see now why it was producing such anomalies. It feels..." She trailed off, losing her words as she sought to open herself to cast a spell as she would with the Light, without actually summoning the Light. It was a strange exercise, made stranger as her body could not decide whether to tense in anticipation of expected burning agony or accept the cold of the plant's magic.

Furrowing her brow, she tried to relax into a spell. An empty chill slid up her arm, filling the spaces between bone and flesh and spreading out across her chest. The light in her sockets dimmed to just the barest glow, and Antimony kept still as though suspended for a few moments. Her own vision of the room darkened, as though covered with a curtain. She thought she smelled burning and rot, but it was such a strange thing that it must have been her imagination. Then she shivered and released the energy as she might release the Light from her body and out from the focus.

The magic moved, in a slow wave, but not with as directed a purpose as Antimony had sought. It rolled in a ripple, extending its cloud from the focus to reach towards Dhein. It formed no shield, just a broadening arm of invisible power.

Dhein awaited Antimony's spell. Really, he expected nothing. His prediction, based on the similarities between Fel and the Light, were that the Light focus would be unabel to move the energy. He was surprised, then, to sense an outward-moving force from Antimony stood. It brushed over his fingers and knuckles like a breath, sliding over his hand and brushing past his face. He recalled the smell of winter, and this was different. It was stagnant and sweltering, more like a frozen summer.

He shivered. The green glow of his eyes flared for a moment, and the greasiness of Fel was inexplicably remembered to him. "Unsettling," he muttered. "I felt something."

"As am I." She still felt it, settling her limbs and chest like a void, and she adjusted her grip on the staff. "It moved like a spell but it seems to be ignoring the purpose I'd asked for. And I sense it remains, hm, connected?"

"Connected?" Dhein shook out his hand as though he had touched something unpleasant. "In what way?"

"As in..." She frowned then and shook her staff slightly, taking a step back. "When casting a spell, it typically pulls a fragment of power and expels it, yes? The source has not released its energy."

"Can you rid it of the energy if you try?"

"I believe so. It is just strange." Taking another step back, Antimony tried to pull her will away from the energy moving over her arm and the staff and outward towards Dhein. She could sense it dispersing, thinning the further it moved from the plant and her focus. As she eased her concentration on the focus, she felt the power fading. Not retracting back to the plant, but rather... disappearing? Her brow quirked curiously. Energy did not simply disappear.

Stepping closer to the plant and looking at it as though he expected something to have changed, Dhein said, "What is it?"

Antimony shook her head as though dispelling something from her mind. The dim light in her eyes flickered as she blinked. "Strange that casting - or at least attempting to cast - the spell did not split the magic from its source. It moves as though a single cloud at all times."

"Do we know of any other kinds of energy that behave as such?" Dhein leaned down to the plant, looking into the branches. The green light from his eyes illuminated the leaves, but did not color them. "I'll have to read through several tomes tonight searching for such."

"I cannot think of any," Antimony mused and carefully set the Light focus down. Her chest felt cold and oddly full still, but the sensation was diminishing. Stepping back towards the plant and alongside Dhein, she considered the plant. "I will gladly spend a night studying such with you." A pause and then, "Aztal! I do hope you were recording everything."

The imp chittered, gray hands still writing furiously. "Stupid language."

Dhen straighted and gave Antimony a smile. "Spending nights studying you? That's likely to become my favorite thing."

"That is not precisely what I said," Antimony replied archly, glancing sideways towards the elf. "We must prioritize."

"You said we study together. I look forward to studying with you." Dhein walked to the wall near the table, where the arcan staff leaned.

"Hm," Folding her arms across her chest, Antimony straightened to watch him. "Indeed. The next test now, then?"

"As soon as Aztal catches up in his notes." Dhein returned to the bush with the Arcane focus. "Are you using the correct dialect of Arakoa now, Aztal?"

The imp blurted out some Eredun in response.

"Was that a yes?" Antimony blinked and bent to peer closer at the plant. She could see no physical changes to its form, though the aura it emitted seemed perhaps... stronger? Humming in thought, she tapped her fingers against her arms. "At any rate, I am intrigued to see what effect, if any, something as precisely ordered as an arcane focus may have on this magic. I could not sense any particular organization to its structure at all."

"It is energy. Energy follows certain rules. If the arcane focus is met similarly, I would think we should reconsider our base assumptions about the planted." He checked its straightness one more time. "Shall I cast the spell on you or on Aztal?"

Antimony gestured with one pale, thin hand towards herself. "I familiarized myself with the feel of the arcane shield. I would like the opportunity to see what differences on that end there will likely be."

"Assuming it makes a shield at all. So far we've gotten little more than a cold breeze out of it. The most I honestly hope for is yawn." Nonetheless, he clicked the staff against the floor immediately beside the plant an exerted the slight pull that the magic would need. The network of runes drew on the power, the actual and honest energy that the plant exuded, the same way they might draw on the arcane infusion of a plant that was situated very close to the world's ley lines. The notches and circles in the wood of the staff guided the energies in a very precise order than Dhein only slightly guided, most of the spell being contained in the runes themselves.

Even as the energy shifted with only passive interest through the runes, the enveloping cloud of power tore up the length of the staff toward Dhein's grip. It was cold to his touch, chilly enough to pale his skin, but familiar.

He channeled the spell in Antimony's direction, and a shell of the cold, transparent power began to materialize around her. Not as a strike of solid lightning, but as panes of ice so thinthat they floated on the air.

"Well!" Antimony's eyes widened with excitement, her voice pitching upward. "This is different! Very different, very--" She turned in the shell, watching the faint shimmer where the power had manifested physically. It didn't take much effort to feel the power itself; the moment it formed, it was like being locked inside an icebox, and the energy leaked inwards to fill the space within. Her muscles shivered automatically, but she smiled. "So it is not entirely new. I had begun to worry we would need to rewrite quite a few laws of energetics to accommodate its behavior."

Dhein moved his fingers on the staff, looking it over as though he could see the power that still lingered on it. "Well." he spoke slowly, distractedly. "I think if it came to rewriting laws we would be out of our depth."

"Not those kinds of laws," Antimony waved one hand dismissively. Reaching out to bring one hand close to the shield, she considered the palpable emptiness building in the metaphysically enclosed space. It was echoed between her ribs, and she furrowed her brow curiously. "How did it feel?"

"Cold. So, not unexpected." He turned the staff in his hand to look at its runes, then looked very closely at the plant. "The diffuse aura was still present across the focus, which dominated the sense of the casting. It seems that the runes on the focus succeeded in cause energy to coalesce, perhaps from the diffuse field itself.

"Indeed... variables tightly constrained enough to manage even such a formless aura as this." She could sense, and almost see, the wall around her thinning already now. Without the arcane runes to force structure, it appeared it couldn't maintain. It didn't feel as though it were wholly fading, just spreading and dispersing until it was so thin that it was only barely noticeable.

Dhein shook the staff in his hands, one way and then the other, as if he could knock the energy off of it. "It is not a very pleasant feeling."

Antimony's brow knit, one hand moving to her chest unconsciously. "No, and considering the situation surrounding the original specimen, I am not surprised."

Turning his green eyes tot eh corners of the room and the spells of containment that sealed the plant's energies out of Orgrimmar, Dhein muttered, "No, I suppose not. My gratitude that you and I have resistance to such affects and foresight to contain the energies. Such an... influence loose in Orgrimmar would be...

Letting out a low sound, Antimony looked to the plant. "We are very fortunate," she agreed and then smiled. "As well to have the intellect with which to tackle such a mystery."

"I am fortunate for uncountable reasons Antimony, though most of those reasons I would count upon you." He turned to give the woman a smile, and the shifted tones quickly. "Should we suffer through another trial?"

"I am not quite certain it was suffering," Antimony murmured, the light in her eye sockets shifting as she gazed around the room, trying to sense the remnants of the first spell. "But I am curious to see if such a result can be replicated."

"Arcane, because of its nature, can follow the trails left behind by one cast to make the second easier. If this energy is likewise cumulative, it may be a cousin of that energy. Let's see." Dhein oriented the staff forward once more. There was still a cloud of power around it, but Dhein did not feel any significant energy residing in the runes in the air.

So when he channeled the energy, he was not surprised to find it taking the same amount of time and effort as the first cast. The cloud of power on the staff thickened, however, and seemed to flow down the bones in his arm like he'd submerged his hand in frozen water. He shivered, but continued casting; it was harmless enough.

When he cast the spell, it felt the same. There was no sensation he could identify that was different. However, the spell manifested not as a shield of ice, but as a field of fragments spread throughout the room. It was as if the spell had struck a prism and been refracted, or it had been shattered. Dozens of small panes of frozen air hung vertical in the air throughout the room, almost completely transparent.

Looking around, it took Dhein several long seconds to realize what it was that he was actually seeing.

Antimony let out a useless breath at the sight, turning to inspect the room fully. "That is... hm. You cast only one spell?" Automatically her mind searched the distribution of the manifestations, searching for a pattern in their arrangement.

"It is the same spell." Dhein said, mystified. "Perhaps the diffusion... But I do not believe the spell works like that."

"And yet it has," Antimony murmured, moving to stand beneath and peer up towards one of the barely visible panes of materialized energy. Already she could tell it was fading again, though it was more something she felt than saw, as though a chill had begun to fill the entire room, laying over her body and sinking slowly into her skin in a fine mist. "Most peculiar... their orientation appears to follow the same curvature of the base spell, but split around the area."

"Spreading to fill it," Dhein pointed out, as he pulled his chilled hand from the staff. "It is cold."

She looked to Dhein at that, looking vaguely concerned. "Too cold?" She paused and then added, "It is an odd effect. I don't think it's related to elemental magic much at all."

"Not too cold, no. Just making an observation. Aztal, make sure you write that down. In all of the languages. Also in Thalassian."

The imp chittered unhappily.

"It does not last nearly as long as a typical shield spell," she observed quietly as the fragments faded away and held out one hand, looking down at it. "And yet it seems still present..." Trailing off, she moved back to the Light focus, taking it off the ground and lifting it in front of her. She was a good distance from the plant now and turned her attention on the air around them instead as she focused on sensing, and pulling on, what energies might possibly remain.

"The diffuse nature of the spell seems to be getting the better of it. One cannot protect themselves hiding behind a haze."

Antimony hummed and nodded but was slow to otherwise respond, looking deeply distracted by something. After several moments she just rests the staff's bottom on the ground and turns her face to watch Dhein.
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:49 pm

Dhein has crouched near the plant and is looking deeply into the leaves, searching. "If the energy is similar to Arcane, then its source would have to be terrestrial or celestial. The plant is potted and is contained by enchantments, so where is it getting its power? And why does it show no sign of alteration when the power is used?"

"It seems rather bottomless," Antimony murmured. "It must have a source, of course. Perhaps it is not from this plane of existence and taps into energies elsewhere." Hesitating a moment, she adds, "I would like to bring in a few other, non-contaminated specimens for observation."

"Something druidic," Dhein murmured, pulling at the tuft of hair below his lip. "Perhaps as a cenarion bloom would sprout into our word from the Emeral Dream."

Antimony's lips quirk. "Druids... in a way, I suppose its permeability resembles nature magics and life energies. But I have analyzed druidic patterns, and the sniffer showed something clearly distinct."

Dhein looked back at Antimony and indicated the plant. "It is, however, a plant. Which seems to suggest some druidism, no matter what else the data might say."

Antimony looked unconvinced. "I suppose so. And yet the Light can conjure fire just as the Arcane, but they are not the same."

"That's a point. I don't think broadening our investigations will hurt at this point, though, perhaps I should merely refer to the texts I am about to have Aztal retrieve."

She nods at that in agreement. "Some heavy reading would do our work good at this point." A pause and then in a softer tone, "And we should endeavor to find you a bed before the day is out."

Standing, Dhein smiled. "Find us a bed, beloved."

"Hrm?" Antimony looked up, blinking at him. It took several seconds for his words to settle in, and she looked flustered for another moment before clearing her throat, compulsively smoothing down her dress. "Ah, yes. Us."

"Are we done with our trials for the evening then? I can have Aztal depart to collect my books, and then we can depart to accrue the necessary supplies for our home and study."

"Yes, I believe that would be wise." Once again she set Light staff aside and cast one more look around the room. The visible affectations of the plant's energy were all but gone now. When she thought on it, there was an unfamiliar sensation in her bones, but she brushed it aside. A small smile turned up the corners of her mouth. "Reading and note taking are two of my most favorite activities. It will be good to share them with you."

"Shopping for the supplies of life is one of my favorite things. Two of us together will most likely find high-quality items at excellent prices."

"I should hope. We will need to budget for the foreseeable future," Antimony commented mildly.

"No time to start like the present." Dhein walked over to Aztal and took the pen from his hand even as the imp was trying to write. He ignored the protesting chitters, taking a piece of paper as well. "Aztal, silence. I am going to budget."

"How much precisely is left after our purchase of this place?" Antimony closed the distance between them, arching her brows and peering towards the paper as though she could perceive numbers Dhein had yet to write. "I can devote my funds to the obtaining of ink and paper and other associated costs. The Undercity authority typically allows that as a business expense."

"As long as the commission’s oversight staff doesn't catch wind of its misuse, I have no objections." Dhen began his budget by writing the word "Budget" and the words "Home" and "Study" along with a number at the top of the page, from which he would work. He indicated the number to answer Antimony's question.

"Oh don't worry. I need only take care of an occasional transaction while we're here... and I'll need to anyway if I don't wish them to fire me." Her lips turned down at that thought. "... At any rate, a bed is going to be a luxury in this city. I won't begrudge the expenditure, but we'll need to adjust for it."

Dhein adds a line for "Sleeping budget" and writes down a tenth of their total remaining money.

Antimony's lips quirked in thought, eyes on the numbers. She folded her arms across her chest and tucked the knuckles of one hand under her chin. "We'll need reagents to continue the containment spells. Focus prisms for experiments with amplification. I would like at least a few additional plants - whatever we can get here that isn't corrupt - to monitor exposure effects... the aforementioned graphing tools, as I'll have to construct wave diagrams by hand without the sniffer..."

"Well let's not go too crazy with these things. We can hunt good deals, but we need to make sure we get full value out of the things we purchase." He inserted a line for "Magical studies" and wrote down half the amount that 'd put down for his sleeping budget.

"Of course." Tilting her head, Antimony thought a moment longer and then, "It occurs to me that I don't know what kinds of foods you enjoy."

"Oh, I'm used to persisting on a less than extravagant diet." Dhein waved that off and budgeted a very small amount. "I just need to find out what kind of vegetables and proteins are available to me and discern the best ways of cooking the unhealthy bits out."

"I'll not have you dropping from malnourishment," Antimony warned firmly, and then a bit softer, "Nor should you feel the need to go without decent food simply because I do not require it. I would prefer it if you ate well."

"You don't need to worry about me. I know well the value of keeping my mind and body well-fueled." Dhein reached up and brushed at his hair. "If I don't eat well my hair won't keep its shape, after all."

"Ah, is that how it works then." Her features warmed for a moment before she returned her attention to the numbers. "Regardless, I reserve the right to adjust food expenditures if you do not appear to be doing well. Now, what else do you require?"

"Well, let's consider. There was the mirror and grooming supplies." He wrote a line for this, labeled 'Maintenance of the Elf' and filled in an amount of money roughly approximate to what he wrote for the 'Sleeping budget'. "If pressed I could go on into all sorts of comfort, but I feel like I shouldn't." He then wrote in a line labeled 'Maintenance of the Lady' and looked at Antimony. "What else do you require?"

"The study materials, of course," Antimony answered easily, and then paused to reconsider the question, realizing that probably was not what he'd meant. She shifted, fingers tightening around her arm in discomfort. "Ah, well. Perhaps just... well, no, it should be fine."

Dhein went ahead and filled in a dollar amount roughly double what he'd filled in for itself. "We wouldn't want to overlook anything."

She furrowed her brow. "There is little to overlook. That amount, I am not--ah, not nearly so high maintenance. I need only a few reagents that can be purchased in... bulk." Her cheek twitched.

"In bulk, in Orgrimmar?" Dhein queried with exaggerated suspicion.

"Perh...ah... I suppose... not." She made a face at that, fidgeting her fingers against the sleeve of her dress. "Don't worry on it, though."

"I'll just leave that number there until we need it someplace else." Dhein smirked. "If you're going to oversee my diet, I'm going to make sure you have money at your disposal for similar needs, no matter how different they are."

Clearing her throat, Antimony glanced away from the paper. Then her chest pushed out a weak sigh. "Of course. Now think, is there anything else we will need here?"

"A time frame." Dhein said, tapping the top of the paper recently. "I just remembered that I have no income. This budget needs to last a specific amount of time, and then I'll have to convince my daughter to let me broker her earnings again."

"Your... oh!" A pause. "Oh." Her lips pursed. "You think that is... likely?"

He pondered this for a time. "I'm not sure I'd like to ruin this best-of-all-days by calculating my odds with her."

"Perhaps not..." She couldn't help a small smile at part of his sentence. "Ah, but perhaps... well, I should be able to maintain at least some of my cli--" She froze, eyes widening, "--ents. Oh.. oh no, I completely forgot Miss Naunet's assets...! Aah, oh all of those herbs are likely ruined by now!" In a panic she lifted her arms to curl her fingers in her blue-tinted hair.

Noticing her distress, Dhein bit his lips for a second and then swung instinctively into comfort, reaching out to put a hand on one of Antimony's elbows. "Oh, I'm sure it's not so bad! We've only been wandering the wilderness of Kalimdor for... Well, she certainly can't expect you to keep up when we were busy getting locked up in an Alliance keep!"

Antimony buried her face in her hands. "Perhaps some still have value when dried beyond recognition... Oh she is going to be very cross if I cannot salvage something. She may never trust me with her materials again!" She paused and then muttered, "Though best of luck to the poor soul who would have to learn her methods of organization..."

"I doubt it's so bad. The woman's a brute. If one batch of supplies is a bit less valuable than some others, she won't know why."

"... I suppose..." Lifting her face, Antimony kept her fingers against her jaw, brow furrowed. "... Well, if I have not completely mucked it up, she and a few other seasonal clients may provide us with something of an income."

"I don't think I've had any clients in some time. Ever since I... Well." He worked his hand in a vague gesture. "You know."

"Oh, it's not something to worry over for the moment." Antimony waved one hand, forcing her expression to brighten in the face of Dhein's unspoken reference. "I will have a better idea what our regular income may look like in a week or two, so let us try to stretch this initial lump sum at least a month."

"One month, then," Dhein muttered with resignation, writing a pair of dates at the top of the budget. "We still have quite a bit of money left to divvy out. Perhaps I've been... Oh, wait. Rent. Taxes. Fees. Wouldn't think there'd be so much of that in Orgrimmar. But."

Antimony gave a small nod around pursed lips. "They have only grown more burdensome since the title of Warchief changed hands. It makes dealing in this city quite a bother at times."

"Political transitions always come with a bit of an economic disturbance. It will work out. Now, I need to make a list of books and then I'll be ready to go and procure supplies."

"Ah, good. Aztal! Are you quite done yet?"

The imp chittered and slammed a large pile of papers down on the broken table. They slid towards the crease where it had fractured, and the table swayed under their weight.

Ignore the imp, Dhein began to make a list of books. Then he stopped and just wrote, "All relevant materials" and handed it to the imp, which began to squawk in frustration.

Antimony watched this with arched brows. "You've no room to complain, Aztal, after how rude you were earlier." She then tilted her head towards the imp. "And I'm sure you know the library plenty well enough to find everything we could possibly need in a matter of moments."

"Off with you, Aztal," Dhein waved a hand in the face of the protesting imp. He then turned to Antimony and hooked his elbow in hers. "Shall we go?"

"The sooner we do, the sooner we can get to further study." She smiled at that thought, the excitement of it enough that she let Dhein's arm remain around hers, though she was aware at the edges of her thoughts how the soft bend of his arm pressed against an area that was mostly exposed bone.

Fixing his fingers in between hers, he walked her towards the door. "I'm looking forward to haggling alongside you, actually."

"Oh?" Her hand hung limp for a moment before curling her own fingers against his. It came with a little, nervous thrill. "Perhaps you would, if you can keep up."

"Carefully about challenging a Sin'Dorei to a competition, Antimony. We were made to get what we want. Generally, speaking.

"I am Forsaken with established clients in both Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff. I know well how to get what I want in the face of adversity." A smile just barely touched the corners of her mouth.

"And I, even as a Sin'Dorei, fear you." he chuckled.
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 1st, 2014, 5:58 pm


Dhein was not going to be able to have a bed, and this was an injustice. He had investigated his options, which were to have a bed imported or to purchase wood and hire a craftsman, but these things turned out to be prohibitively expensive. Silently, he lamented the loss of the furniture in his bar back in Silvermoon, which had boasted several extravagant beds.

He returned to the drag carrying his sleeping arrangement slung over his shoulder: a cot. It was full now with food and grooming supplies. He'd been so depressed over having to settle for a cot that he hadn't even purchased any pillows or blankets. What was the point? He might as well embrace the misery of sleeplessness and permanently cramped muscles.

With a heavy sigh, he paused on the upward ramp that lead towards his home with Antimony, looking down on the single, large tree that grew in the center of the fork in the road between the Drag and the Valley of Honor. "I suppose a cot isn't all bad." He said, trying to cheer himself up. "It pulls everyone sleeping in it towards the center quite snuggly."

"A mattress would likely only get uncomfortable in the heat as well," Antimony added in an attempt at comfort. She too carried supplies - mostly the odds and ends they'd wanted for their research. She would make a second trip at some point in the near future, on her own, to see about procuring necessary alchemical components for her own body's needs. Just the thought of making such purchases in front of Dhein put her at extreme discomfort, which wasn't necessarily logical considering everything, but it seemed there were some things she still was not at ease enough to share. "And with all of the reading we've to do... oh, candles! Well, we will have to restock soon on those..."

Resuming his walking, Dhein looks vaguely troubled. "I have no memory of budgeting candles."

"And how else are we to read at night? Certainly not by the light of... well. We've enough for now, and they are quite cheap."

"I know we need them. I just didn't plan for them. What else have I forgotten? We'll have to scrap the entire budget, and after our initial expenses!"

"It's hardly so dramatic." She would have rolled her eyes had she eyes remaining. Instead she tilted her head up and backward for a moment. "Considering we spent only a small fraction on the bed, it will only be a matter of shifting a certain sum of that to study necessities."

Pouting, Dhein approached the door of the place they'd rented. "But I was going to compensate by purchasing more accommodating pillows and blankets and sheets and cardigans and perhaps slippers."

"And I am certain there will still be enough to do such even after an initial stock of candles. Truly, cease worrying. I've already run the math." She stepped up behind him and reached around with the key she had insisted on keeping in her possession to unlock the door.

"Initial stock," Dhein waited. "And subsequent stocks? Even small expenses add up into disasters."

"They are candles, Dhein, not sticks of gold." Pushing the door open, she waited for him. "I'll remind you we saved also in managing to purchase the parchment at a great bulk discount - a savings we will be able to repeat upon later purchases."

"Which accounts for incidentals..." Dhein proceeded in to the room, took one look at the broken table, and was even more greatly distressed. "We did not budget for a new and more sturdy table either. How could I forget to budget for a new table while writing the budget /upon/ the broken table?"

Antimony paused midway between setting down her items just inside the room. Her brow quirked. "... Hm. How indeed." She thought for a moment and then began carefully, "It may be prudent to reconsider... certain indulgences in bedding... at least until we have secured knowledge of future income."

"I know it would come to this." Dhein said quite fatally. Then he detected the stink of death on the air and gazed to a corner where Aztal had begun to pile books. There were several dozen tomes there, the dust of the Plaguelands and his Fel study still clinging to them. He nodded towards them. "Well, one good thing."

The light within Antimony's eye sockets brightened. "Ah, already! Excellent!" She hastened to set down the rest of her items before crossing briskly to the pile and bending to inspect the titles sitting on top.

Dhein would just have to hope Aztal had not brought the reports on his latter studies yet. Those he would read himself and set aside; they may not be relevant, after all. He wasn't going to rush over to the pile and search it first thing, however. No, first, he would get the cot set up.

He placed most of the items he'd brought under the broken table, for lack of a better place, and took the cot out from among them. This he carried over to the coolest corner he could discern. Tossing the cot over his shoulder, he reached out to move the Fel focus, which he'd left there. "I'll begin reading once I have everything set up and put away."

"Of course, of course, I only wish to see... 'Book of Fel Names'? Hm..." She lifted a few dusty tomes, setting a few aside when she found their text to be written in languages completely foreign to her. "'Mana Currents in Non-living Bodies'... 'The Touch of... Oh? I didn't realize you'd studied the Light before, Dhein."

"Ah, well. Distantly. I had to have a well-rounded knowledge base." He tried not to sound evasive. When he lifted the Fel staff, he nodded an odd weight and quality to it, a strange smoothness upon the runes. He hefted it up near his face and gazed into the runes, noting the dark wood seemed a few shades lighter inside of the carved gouges of the runes. Like dust had settled inside. "Antimony. This staff has been altered."

She nodded in curious thought, took up another book, and then processed his latter words. "... Ah, come again?" Turning with book in hand, she tilted a confused look in his direction. "Your distress over the bed must have gotten you worse than I thought."

"Antimony." He rolled his eyes, turning and holding the staff sideways so as to show her its length. "It is cold to the touch and the runes are shallow."

The humor in her face faded. "What, truly?" Setting the book down, Antimony crossed the room to him. "Shallow, as though they were... filling back in?"

"I wouldn't say it as though they are filling themselves back in. The wood is black. Whatever is in the runes is a dark gray. It is different."

"How odd..." She leaned up on her toes, angling to get a better look at the staff. Indeed it almost seemed as though there were... "An intrusion of a different material..? It must be the plant--or its energy, that is. Fascinating! I wonder what it is..." She paused and then, at a sudden thought, "Perhaps it was not a druid that created that mass of vines we found around it the second time."

He blinked at that. "Do you believe that the plant propagated?"

"What else could have done this to the focus?" She gestured at the staff, and the unidentifiable matter within the carved runes. "Certainly no intruder."

"It's different to say that the energies from the plant left a residue, than to say that they propagated in the wild." He looked towards the plant as he said this, as if talking about someone who was present and being aware of the rudeness in doing so.

"It was only a tangential thought." Antimony straightened and brushed down the front of her dress. "Regardless, this is a substantive change. I feel the need to repeat our earlier experiments... ah! And what of the other foci..." Turning she went to retrieve the Light focus.

He looked at the staff in his hand, furrowing his brow. "You want me to try using the staff after it's been altered?"

"How else are we to know the extent of the change? Perhaps it is more attuned to the specimen's energies now, and we will get stronger results! It's a very exciting thought..." She trailed off, likely continuing her wondering internally as she lifted the Light focus. It had no runes for any foreign matter to intrude upon, but she studied it anyway. Did it feel heavier?

With a sigh, Dhein set the Fel staff aside and turned back to the corner, taking up the cot once more. "Just let me do this first. I don't want to get caught on the verge of exhaustion and too tired to erect my..." He shook his head and lifted his chin. "Authentic Orcish bed."

"Oh... I suppose," Antimony murmured, hardly listening to Dhein after the first sentence of his reply. Instead her attention remained on the staff in her hands. She ran her fingers along the grain, but her sense of touch was dulled enough that she couldn't trust herself entirely to feel any differences. It did seem perhaps a bit colder, but then she was also quite cold. Moving up the staff, she held it close to inspect the crystal atop it, squinting into the quartz prism.

Dhein had no idea how to affix the cot to the walls and became quietly upset, standing with the cot in his hands and staring at the floor, unable to believe that he doesn't have a bed. After a moment he dropped it and turned around. "So let's try that spell."

"Does the density of artifacts look any different to... oh!" She spun around and smiled, holding the staff in front of her. "Yes, let's! I can hardly wait to see what else has changed."

Pacing back and taking up the Fel staff, he turned it in his hands to look at the runes, noticing how the grayness seemed to focus more towards the top of the staff. "I'll admit that I'm dubious. Fel is a sensitive kind of magic. It doesn't tend to take well with other magics, with the pointed exception of Shadow magic. The kind of energies that Fel sups with are not the kind one makes friends with."

"It's not necessarily making friends with Fel," Antimony reasoned, thinking through her words as she spoke them. "If it's changed the staff, then it may be, hm, combating the Fel influence? In some way. Try casting the Fel shield on Aztal."

"I think Aztal is missing again," Dhein said, aware of how perfectly helpful his observation will be.

"Miss--what? Oh now that's just..." The light in her eye sockets flickered with exasperation. "What did you do to... where could he have possibly gone to? He was only retrieving books from your library, yes? That should not be hazardous."

Straightening one of his eyebrows, Dhein muttered, "He could just be collecting more of the books. I did assign him a rather large job."

"You said missing," Antimony replied archly. "Which implies you do not know where he is. You've looked? Have you tried to call him?"

"It implies I do not know where he is, yes. Which is inferred by the fact that he is not here, from which can be inferred he's most likely somewhere between here and Corin's Crossing gathering the books and supplies he was instructed to procure." Dhein sounded the least bit like he was losing his patience, and his eyebrow-straightening hand had migrated to rub at his forehead. "Do you really want me to call him away from that work?"

"He was the subject of the previous tests. And we really should take advantage of this anomaly while we can! What if it fades? Or changes again in some other way?" Her brow knit, shifting the holes in her skin upon her forehead strangely. Her fingers worried over the surface of her own focus. "No, that would not be good at all. Yes, you should call him! It will only take a short time."

Dhein sighed. "I'll... use the arcane focus. Unless it's been compromised as well. I don't know what it would mean to summon him with a staff that has been mysteriously changed."

"Very well." Antimony went to smile but then paused, her frown deepening at something. "... Are you doing alright? Surely the bed is not /so/ upsetting to you..."

He looked down at his footsteps while he walked over to wall where the arcane focus leaned, taking it up in his offhand so he was holding one staff in each hnad. Looking up at Antimony, he smiled and shrugged one shoulder, "Feeling fine. Eager to see what becomes of this."

A moment passed where she just watched him passively, and then she blinked twice and brightened. "Ah, yes! An unexpected development, and so soon... it is enticing." Her eyes went back to the focus in her own hands, studying the crystal.

Dhein turned the arcane staff in his hands, trying to tell if it was cold or not. he couldn't discern if it was. The chill from the Fel staff was creeping up his skin beneath his sleeve. Still, he couldn't see any discoloration inside of the runic carvings on the staff. "It looks uncompromised." He set the Fel staff aside and gathered paper and pen. With the arcane staff hook in his elbow, he began to draw demonic sigils on the page.

"Perhaps it is only reacting to the Fel," Antimony mused quietly, running her fingers along the grain of the wood of her focus. "I think there may have been changes in the clarity of this focus crystal, but it is difficult to say... do you think there is enough in our incidental budget for a magnifying glass?"

"I'll see to it there is." At this rate Dhein would end up sleeping on the street outside. He took a few minutes drawing the summoning circle on the piece of paper. The paper wouldn't have much pull, but all he really needed was to get Aztal's attention, and there wasn't any earth or stone to work with in this place. Dhein was not about to start carving demonic symbols into the floor.

Placing the paper in the middle of the room, well away from the plant, Dhein set the bottom of the Arcane focus in the center of it. "I just hope the plant doesn't choose to have a conversation with my summoning spell and send Aztal to Mulgore."

"Whyever would it do that?" She looked up briefly from her own staff to blink at him. "I can't think of anything at all relevant in Mulgore."

"It was just the first place that came to mind. Summoning spells that do not go according to plan can be dangerous. I figured a joke about accidentally summoning a pit lord wouldn't go over as well." This said, Dhein channeled a measure of Fel into the staff, the Arcane runes trying to pull on it as though it were simple energy and being immediately overwhelemed. The green-brown smog dripped from the staff and onto the paper, which caught alight with green fire along the lines of the runes. In the next instant, the paper was gone, leaving not even a scorch mark on the floor.

Antimony waited a moment, rocking forward just slightly onto the balls of her feet. "Did he...?"

"I can't actually summon him with a piece of paper and an arcane focus. Think of it as a hard smack across the face and stern warning to return as soon as possible."

"Ahah." Rather than pester Dhein more, Antimony returned her attention to the staff she held. She shivered; her chest felt cold. Her gaze slid towards the plant, and she gave it a considering look, tapping her fingers against the staff where she gripped it. "Once we've had a chance to observe the reactions of this change, perhaps we should wait a short time and see if it reverts. We'll need time to go through all of those books anyway."

Dhein leaned against the broken table and rubbed at his forehead again. "Now I wish we had multiple staffs of each kind so we could compromise them all, store a few near the plant, then store a few at another location outside of its influence."

"Dhein..." Her eyes widened. "... Well, that is an excellent... ah, but the budget... Blast it all." She put a hand over her mouth at the curse and then shook it off. "Perhaps once we know of our income."

"Maybe I should sell my other two bars as well..."

Her brow drew down. "I have no wish to see you made destitute as a result of this venture, Dhein. If anything, I should feel obligated to provide the bulk of the funding. I did pull you into this, after all."

He chuckled. "I was joking. I don't have any more bars."

Antimony winced and muttered a quiet, "Ah." She looked back to the plant then with a touch of guilt. "... Well, my point remains."

"I don't see how I can be destitute when I have a home." He gestured to the single room around them.

"Indeed. And we will improve the bed situation, I promise." Leaning on the staff, Antimony rested her chin on her hands.

"Now I don't need you worrying about that. If you really want me to be comfortable in bed, then be in it with me."

"Perhaps we should start with actually making it a bed instead of a pile of canvas and a frame, hm?" She pulled herself away from the plant and set the Light staff down alongside it before stepping over to the pile Dhein had left.

Dhein watched, frowning. "I don't have any of those hideous Orcish nails to mar the walls with."

"What, they didn't come with the set when you bought it?" She honestly had not been paying attention when Dhein had made the purchase, too wrapped up in going over an order for a few drafting tools the metalsmith sharing the shop had in stock. "We can at least lay it out comfortably... hm."

"Is it not then just a mesh of ropes laid flat over a wooden plane?"

Antimony made a face at that. "I... suppose it is. Truly, the merchant gave you no nails at all?" Her body went through the motions of a sigh. "... Perhaps I should make another trip out."

Dhein shook his head. "No, I'll just-"

He was interrupted by a crack of green-brown fire near the remnants of the paper summoning circle. The air seemed to burn away leaving char in the shape of an imp, and then the fire settled onto the imp. Aztal through down a small stack of books and barked "What!"
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 26th, 2014, 9:09 pm

Startling at the crack, Antimony spun from the pile of bedding. At Aztal's voice she frowned and snapped back, "Don't be so rude." Then in a calmer tone, "We require your assistance with the project. It will not take long; we all want you to make haste with the transport of our text materials."

The imp kicked a tome and objected in Eredun.

"Be silent and don't move," Dhein said, off-handedly, as he lifted the Fel staff near the plant and summoned the energy that the plant exuded. The already cold staff seemed to freeze in his hand, making him shiver, and the black focus on the top of the staff fogged inside. The aura washed over the staff, curling about his fingers, and seemed to slide over his arm and shoudlers much the way the Fel would.

When he released the spell, however, it simply dispersed once more, spreading out to push against the edges of the room, perhaps against the edges of the enchantment that contained it. There were small spots of light in the air, like half-formed snowflaked or mirrors the size of pin-pricks, but nothing more.

Antimony waited in tense silence as soon as she recognized Dhein's motions. That silence continued after he followed through with them. Her fire-lit gaze kept on Aztal for a moment and then, when no shield appeared around the imp, shifted to the rest of the room. Her thin brow furrowed in mild disappointment. "Did casting it feel at all different?"

"Colder," Dhein said, looking at the staff. "The diffuse energy seemed a bit more concentrated this time. I still wouldn't exactly call this a spell, however."

"It is something, however." She tried to sense if the air around them seemed any colder, but she already felt so cold that it was impossible to tell. "There must be something about its wave pattern that is fundamentally different from our normal methods of channeling," as she spoke, she regained some of her earlier excitement, and then looked down at the staff in her hands. "I suspect we might see the same result, but I shall test the Light focus once more to be thorough."

"It's a shame the Arcane focus was not altered in the same way." Dhein put the cold Fel staff down, finding it uncomfortable.

Aztal barked, flapping his arms impatiently.

"Stay, Aztal. And pay close attention, will you?"

"Yes, please." Antimony spared a brief glance towards the imp before lifting her staff up a few inches off the ground. Pulling on the energies of the plant seemed to swell an emptiness between her bones, in the cavities of her body, and she furrowed her brow for just a moment before pushing the magic back out through the focus with her best attempt at forming the shield spell.

The energy rolled from her arm and the staff like a wave, billowing outward towards Dhein. She could perceive it washing over him, but it held no real form, as though her action had just served like a gust of wind to propell it around.

The familiar brush of cold wind drew Dhein's gaze up to Antimony and the staff she held, making him frown. The chill that still lingered along his arm and shoulders seemed to bleed down his back in response to Antimony's non-spell. "That seems consistent with what occured previously."

The muscles along her fingers and up the thin bones of her arm felt stiff, and Antimony became aware of the stench of burning in her nose. Her mind flicked briefly to a vision of fire consuming the sky, of black ground and dead earth, and the light in her eye sockets dimmed. Then she blinked and shook herself, and carefully prized her fingers from the staff. They came away reluctantly. "It is. I sensed a distinct current pattern to it when it moved just now, but it seems little came of it." Furrowing her brow, she inspected the cloudy surface of the quartz crystal atop her staff, and then shook her head. "Well, we will simply have to keep observing, and testing. And thank you, Aztal."

"For symmetry I'll cast the arcane shield as well." Dhein lift the arcane staff in his hands, looking at the runes once more. There was still an aura of Fel about that, but there was nothing he could do about that. "It was very interesting previously."

"It was!" Antimony smiled. "I wish the... anomalies had lasted longer. I would have loved to get a better map of their positions. Perhaps there was something in their distribution echoing the nature of the magic's pattern..."

"Well, we can do a number of trials if you want and look very carefully. Aztal! Where are you going?"

The imp stopped with a demonic portal half-summoned upon its fingertips, chittering in Eredun.

"Stop it! We're not done. Continuing standing and watching." He lifted the staff in hand. "I intend to cast this next spell on you several times." With that, he paced over to the plant, placing the tip of the arcane staff against the floor and summoning the plant's power into it.

"Oh! Wait a moment!" Practically dropping her staff, Antimony rushed over to where she'd piled a number of their belongings. Hasty fingers dug out a roll of parchment, pen and ink. Kneeling she hurriedly set them down across the floor, and then looked up, "Alright, all ready."

Chuckling at the sudden explosion of movement and the odd image Antimony presented, hunched down on the floor like that, Dhein nodded. "Very well."

He let the cold, enveloping haze billow down the length of the staff, feeling its coldness. "I'm beginning to sense that the power from the plant stays close to the top of the Arcane and Fel staffs, near the focus." As he said this, he let the runes collect the ambient energy from the chilly aura that washed through him all the more. "Very cold," he observed. Once enough of the energy was in the staff, he let the runes form it the rest of the way.

A moment later, a shield of ice formed around Aztal, transparent but plainly present. The imp shivered.

Antimony nearly dropped her pen in surprise, her grip going slack as her eyes widened. "Is that... it worked!" She pushed up on one knee and cast her gaze about the room, searching for any other remnants of the spell. "But what changed...?"

Dhein hummed, looking at the staff in hand. "It's possible it's just warming up to the path through the runes. Or that the runes are cooling down to it. Or that the plant has accrued more energy by remaining untouched for several hours. Or that the plant has greater output from more use. Or any number of things, really."

"Indeed." Antimony tapped the pen to her chin in thought, brow knitting together. "... Well! All the more experiments for us to conduct so as to figure it out."

Watching the shield around Aztal, Dhein mused, "We did get a sort of imitation field previously. This one is thicker, but different than any arcane field. I wonder at its strength."

Lacking in any of the complex diagrams she'd been anticipating to make note of, Antimony instead began to scribble the curvature of the shield around Aztal, noting in precise penmanship the distinction between this and the first. "The other manifestations all seemed quite fragile," she observed.

"Indeed." Dhein picked up one of the less-fragile looking tomes, bound closed as it was, and chucked it at Aztal's head. This was an exceptionally weak gesture, as a simple shield from any school of magic could stop most traditional attacks completely. However, the shield broke and the book hit Aztal in the face, catching the imp by surprise. Aztal flopped onto his back with a pathetic yip.

"Oh." Dhein blinked. "Turns out it is ludicrously weak."

"Oh dear." Antimony straightened, leaning back on her heels. "Well then..." She thought hard for a moment, tapping her fingers in her lap. "Hm. Perhaps it is simply not in the nature of the energy to form such a spell. You have likened it to druidic magic previously, and I am not aware of any such arrangement in its spectrum."

"Or maybe if I keep casting it, it will get stronger?" He smiled and picked up another book. "Aztal, stand up."

"Perhaps..." Antimony didn't sound convinced, but she didn't protest immediately.

The imp protested immediately, standing up and shaking angry fists at Dhein.
"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: Something to Hide [closed]

Postby Naunet » October 26th, 2014, 9:18 pm

The Elf didn't even listen to Aztal. The imp had stood, and so Dhein began to cast the spell again. Just like usual, it came faster and easier this time, flying across the familiar pattern of runes and firing towards Aztal. This time, Dhein was not surprised when the spell manifest as sheets of ice spread throughout the room, standing vertical as if the shield he'd been trying to cast had been broken outward. The transparent panes were thicker this time, and a haze of cold fog floated at the center of the formation, directly around Aztal, who shivered and squawked in displeasure.

Antimony spared only a moment to push out useless air in surprise before hastily beginning to chart out the positions for each pane around the imp. The light in her eye sockets flared with an engaged energy. "You are certain you cast it in precisely the same manner?" She questioned as she drew.

"Trust me. If I hadn't, it wouldn't have worked." Dhein reached out with his book and bapped one of the floating panes of ice. It broke. "They remain weak."

Antimony frowned and bit back a protest as he shattered one of the panes, hurrying to mark its position on her rough map. "I would measure the distance between them, but I fear they'll fade before I could make progress," she muttered half to herself. One of the manifestations hovered directly over her head, and she reached up to hold her hand close to it. The chill was so great at such proximity that she would have sworn her fingers had frozen completely, but they did not appear visibly affected. When she pressed with two fingers, the pane almost immediately faded, though she felt a pull of thick emptiness down her arm. Antimony blinked. "Hm."

"It looks like the distance varies greatly. I can't even tell from looking at it if there's a pattern to them." He looked down at the haze that still hung in the middle of the room, both it and the panes of ice beginning to fade. He frowned, feeling a chill radiating out from the haze. "Very cold."

"Is it?" Antimony spoke with great distraction, hurrying to mark as many points as she could before they faded completely. Leaning back slightly, she looked down at the extremely rough map. "... I think. I will need to spend some time with this, but there may..." She trailed off, gaze flicking from marked point to marked point.

When the haze and the panes of ice faded completely, Aztal was revealed where he had stood at the middle of the fog. His dark gray skin was covered in a fine layer of frost, glimmering and white over his twisted limbs.

Dhein blinked at him. "Aztal, are you okay."

The imp thought for a moment and then reported with a shiver, "Cold."

Looking up from her paper, Antimony pursed her lips. "It occurs to me that particular characteristic is rather odd. Should we perhaps be considering the frost and water schools of arcanery in comparison?"

Dhein scratched the back of his neck. "A frost shield is so similar to mage armor that they are essentially the same spell, just with an elemental component. I suppose it's possible that this plant's energy comes with such a component implied, but I'm not sure where it would come from. Unless the plant is sourced from the Elemental Planes."

"Would there not be other clear signs of Elemental disturbance then?" Antimony wasn't exactly an expert in the more applied levels of magical theories, but anyone paying even half attention to goings on these days knew of the intrusion of Elemental rifts wreaking havoc where they spawned. Resting the tip of her pen against parchment, Antimony looked to the plant in question. "... and the readings the sniffer picked up did not seem similar to the more elemental aspects of the Arcane at the time."

"I doubt it has any elemental implications." Dhein turned his gaze on Antimony. "Cold is just the absence of heat, which itself is energy. It could be that the magic is not compatible with the energy that you and I experience as heat, and so pushes it away."

"Perhaps..." She nodded to herself, pushing to her feet carefully. "We have only begun to scratch the surface. I believe now is when all of that reading will come in perfect hand."

Dhein lifted the arcane focus once more. "Shall we see what happens if I cast the spell again?"

"Ah, yes! Let's." She hesitated then, and after the pause gestured towards the imp. "Let Aztal go about his business and cast it on myself. I would like him to have all of the texts moved by the time we are finished for the day."

Frowning, Dhein turned loud. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable subjecting you to a cloud of magic that chases other energy away. How do we know how it interacts with necromancy?"

"I've been using it to no apparent ill effect," Antimony pointed out, though she had to admit the thought alone in what Dhein brought up was unsettling.

"If you are confident then I will acquiesce." Dhein turned himself fully to face Antimony, appearing very serious. "I do not personally believe it will be any problem, but since we are being scientific, I must admit I cannot be certain."

"I will speak immediately if something feels harming," Antimony reassured, squaring herself to Dhein. The pen dangled loosely from one hand while the other rested on her hip. "Aztal! Back to work, if you would."

The imp vanished immediately.

Dhein sighed, shaking his head. "The spell itself will be more immediate than anything you could feel or any words you could say." Still, he put the staff between himself and her. "Are you ready?"

"Of course." Antimony offered Dhein what she thought might be a reassuring smile, and then shifted her gaze to the plant. She would watch it as he cast the spell.

The third time he cast the spell was as easy as the second: practically effortless. The cloud on the staff was so thick by then that Dhein seemed to be standing in a haze himself, and it only grew thicker as he began to cast it again, chilling him. The static energy caught in the runes and fired through the staff, reaching out towards Antimony.

Suddenly, the room was full of freezing haze. It wasn't so thick that Dhein could not see, but it was cold. It was freezing. There were no panes of ice in the air or flecks of snow, just the haze. And yet the spell had felt the same as the others.

When the haze filled the room, Antimony went very still, the light in her sockets flickering to just a bare glow. She perceived the cold of it, but it did not seem an extreme thing to her senses. A nothingness pushed at her skin and seeped into its dry cracks. She felt saturated in the emptiness, which seemed paradoxically expansive and intruding, and as it settled around her body she felt it lay over her mind as well. For a time, Antimony remained quiet, studying the sensation.

Dhein curled his hands around his body and grimaced. Now that the cold had spread all over, he could feel a strange, clinging pressure across his back and shoulders, where the Fel had set upon him earlier. "It's very cold."

"I think..." Antimony's voice emerged as barely a breath over brittle vocal chords and then faded. She found it difficult to think through the void filling her chest and frowned but found her features sluggish to respond. "Cold. Dhein."

"I'm fine. It's an observation. There also aren't any signs of a shield."

"No," Antimony forced out. "Dhein. Cold."

He shook his head. "What?"

Cursing her dulled senses for not allowing her to realize what was happening until it was too late, Antimony sought in her darkened vision for Dhein's shape. "Dispel," she managed, but the suddenly weak necromancy fueling her could only do so much against dead vocal chords turned rigid and unresponsive.

Dhein watched her carefully, wondering why she wasn't speaking clearly, why she was moving like she was. He was cold as well, but he was sure it would fade in a moment. Watching her, he frowned, and he remembered the warnings he'd given her a moment ago.

He lifted the staff in his hand and tried to summon a dispel enchantment, but he found he couldn't generate any arcane power. It was not simply that he couldn't cast the spell, or even that he couldn't get the power into the staff, but he couldn't even find the power to channel. It just wasn't there.

Tossing the suddenly useless staff aside, Dhein walked towards Antimony, noticing how much colder it got as he approached. Of course; she was in the center of the spell. He scooped her up in his arms.

Antimony leaned stiffly in Dhein's arms, expression frozen. She managed to shift her fingers a bit, but that only succeeded in dropping the pen from her grip.

Dhein didn't stop at moving Antimony away from the center of the spell. He carried her to the door and shouldered through it, stepping out into the drag and the heat blowing north out of the barrens. There was no mist out in the sunlight.

There were, however, panes of ice in the air outside, floating in a broad circle around their home, vertical sheets out of the drag. So transparent that they almost couldn't be seen, fading fast.

Antimony vaguely felt Dhein move her, and then the shadow over her vision grew strangely bright. After a few seconds she found more movement in her hands, and her muscles spasmed with a reflexive shiver. "So... that... is cold," the frozen woman muttered, though the stiffness of her vocal chords robbed the words of any inflection.

As Dhein watched, the panes of ice in the air outside vanished, completely unnoticed by any passersby. Hopefully unnoticed by the Warlock who covered in the caverns beneath the Drag. He dropped his gaze to Antimony, appearing vexed. "What happened?"

Her hand flexed, and she shifted her arms sluggishly as the desert heat very slowly thawed stiff muscles. The dim light in her eye sockets flickered. "Cold," she tried to wince but could only manage a twitch in her features for now. "I didn't know what..."

"Surely it wasn't just the cold, was it?" He'd never thought of the undead as having a problem with the cold, but he wasn't sure what her tolerance was. It had been very, very cold.

She shook her head, a slight gesture. It had never occurred to her either, especially with how Naunet frequented the frozen stretches of Northrend, along with many others of her kind. The necromancy that kept them 'alive' had always seemed to provide some sort of strange homeostasis. And yet... Antimony managed a blink, finding her vision slowly returning. The air smelled dreadfully dry, as though scorched, which was notable both for its scent and for the fact that there was a scent in the first place.

Leaning her weight against Dhein, Antimony forced her arms to shift, trying to roll her shoulders to free them of the sluggishness. "I do not think... that magic is just... cold. No."

"And I think I'm not casting that spell anymore." Holding her weight was just as easy now as it had been earlier tonight. He stood in the sunlight, looking around for any sign of the spell he might have missed. Not until I know you're okay and we've had a good thorough reading of those books."

"Probably... for the best." After a few, painfully long moments, the muscles in her neck thawed enough to let her lift her head, and she blinked slowly towards the gradually clarifying image of Dhein. "I think I will be fine," she spoke carefully, slowly.

"Good. I'll feel better about that after some time passes, however." He turned to look into the room again. "The visible haze has cleared. That doesn't mean the power is gone, though."

Forcing stiff joints into action, Antimony moved her hand to rest against her chest, frowning. There was a weight and presence between her ribs that did not seem willing to fade. "It did not from the staffs."

"Do you think you could stand if I put you down?"

"I believe so," she replied after a moment, only realizing when Dhein spoke that he was actually carrying her. She blinked at that and stifled embarrassment.

"Here. Careful now." He moved to set her down, keeping most of her weight at first.

Antimony kept her balance, though her hips and legs continued to feel stiff. She couldn't quite sense Orgrimmar's heat, but she could sense the gradual easing of hte rigidity in her body. Still, she kept a hand on Dhein just in case. "I suppose that was unwise," she muttered, "but now we know a bit more."

"Now you might not be able to go inside anymore. If the energy is still active within."

"It will be..." Antimony bit the inside of her cheek, pressed her lips together, and then let out a rattling sigh, "Perhaps let's give it a chance to dissipate, before returning."

"I want to check the containment enchantments again," Dhein said easing towards the door. He noticed cold venting from it as though from an icebox. That didn't necessarily mean the energy was escaping, however. It shouldn’t be. It was just because of the temperature difference. "If that wasn't just cold, then it might be a reaction with undeath specifically."

Antimony managed a proper expression this time, twisting her mouth unhappily. "Very well." She wavered a bit when Dhein stepped away, but the stiffness in her spine still helped her keep upright.

He had meant that to try and start a conversation, but come at it sideways. He didn't want to dive right into it. Leaning against the door, he tried to think up another way to present the topic. "I didn't notice any similar reaction with the ambient Fel in my body."

"Only the chill," Antimony acknowledged, turning her wrist to test her increasing mobility. "But I did not notice such an... extreme reaction, when casting myself."

"Maybe the intent of the spell was changed." Dhein mumbled. He frowned. "That's something Fel would do. I'm continuing to feel suspicious about this magic's interest in the Fel focus. As well as its less sinister cousin, the Arcane."

Antimony was silent for a moment then, part of her thinking on Dhein's words while the rest focused on the shifting sensations across her body. Her bones felt empty, which was confusing. "Perhaps... perhaps we should leave the foci to rest for a few days. It is possible the repeated exposure is... responsible."

"I agree." Dhein said, and then stepped into the building. He ignored the cold, turning directly to face the innermost wall and dropping to one knee. He eyes the arcane powder that lined the wall. It was still there. He put his fingertips on the ground just in front of it, testing his Fel energy against the enchantment. "The containment spell is still intact. The ice outside must have been exclusively environmental."

Though she hadn't seen the ice he referred to, Antimony noted it silently with a nod. Feeling a bit more sure of her limbs, she turned and took a stiff step back towards the door to watch Dhein, though she stopped outside. "Then there is one spell it seems to listen to," she mused quietly. "Odd, though."

"Nothing should be able to penetrate the containment spell without it being very apparent. It's simple, easy to dispel if one knows how, but magic shouldn't be able to get around it idly."

She hummed a low sound at that, looking past the doorway further into the room, where she could make out the plant. The shadows around it seemed perhaps darker than they had before, but then perhaps her vision had not wholly returned yet. "Can you sense any thinning of the aura inside?"

"It's not as cold," Dhein answered, standing. "For whatever that is worth. I... wish we had that device that the human took from us."

"As I have thought countless times since," Antimony sighed uselessly, features straining with annoyance for a moment. Lifting her hand, she flexed her fingers in an attempt to force some more dexterity back into them.
"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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