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The Flames of Revolution (Grimoire and Mim)

Joined
May 30, 2013
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3,216
#1
The Ivy Crown Tavern was crowded for three in the afternoon on a Tuesday. A number of shady-looking characters had been coming in and out all day, and generally Gwenner didn't pay them any mind. She of all people ought to know not to judge folk by appearances. She had taken the ivy crown in the fighting pits seven seasons in a row, and as such had come out with her fair share of scars and a crooked nose. Anyone coming across her down a dark alley would have thought her to be a rough character too. But today felt different. She watched the regulars flit in and out, both those she knew were criminals and the more reputable ones, and kept her eye on the far corner where three men had kept a table all afternoon. Men and sometimes women of all sorts of races would come in singly or in twos, but never threes. They would sit with their heads together, talk for ten or so minutes, then walk out with their coats drawn tightly across themselves.

"You hef menny friends today," she mentioned to the largest one as she brought them another round. They weren't her regulars, but some of their 'friends' had been. "Planning party?"

The large man grinned. "Somethin' like that," he chuckled, taking his mug. "Hope you don't mind? I mean, it's alright that we stay here right? So long as we're buying drinks?" He squared his shoulders and leaned forward, using his significant height advantage to attempt to intimidate her. She almost laughed at him for it. Almost.

"So long as you buy the drinks," she agreed after some thought. "And do not bring trouble to my tefern." She fixed them with a stern look before returning to the counter. She would give them another hour before asking them to leave and, when they inevitably refused, call the city watch. She didn't like to get rough with belligerent customers if she didn't have to, but on occasion the guard did need her to step in.

A chill wind blew in from the open door and she looked over. Gwenner's mouth opened in surprise a fraction of an inch. As he approached the counter she had to tilt her neck all the way back just to see his face. Goldwater was made for big folk and that was something she had long gotten used to, but this man was much bigger than most.

"I ken help you?" she asked slowly.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
47
#2
The wind that followed the newest comer was one that carried a touch of wintry chill in stark defiance to a calendar that clearly read "October", swirling around the worn black leather of his boots and rustling the mantle of his cloak in a way so well-timed that the dramatics of the western wards would have chewed through their masks in jealousy. There was nothing quite like a dramatic wind to make an entrance count, but it was almost as if the man needn't have bothered.

In the shade of the Ivy Crown, Rowan was the next best thing to the tree of his own namesake; well in excess of six feet tall, he could have shamed every salt-bitten dockworker that didn't count something green and tusked amongst their more recent ancestry... he cut a figure in his heavy black cloak, textured with an insinuation of deeper blues that the sea air and sun had done their damndest to subdue. He had a plainer sort of face, or perhaps it was merely made that way by a carelessly shorn beard and a mop of dark hair that seemed to exist in perpetual defiance of words like "comb".

"... sure," he said after his eyes -- a curious shade of frost -- had been given the requisite moment to find the woman speaking. He smiled, but his attempt was weakened by a furtiveness in his gaze, one that scarce made contact with her before it had started to sweep the room, leaving pale lips to flatten again into a line of concentration.

He seemed to realize he was ignoring her a moment too late, clearing his throat and refocusing on the dwarven woman. "Ah-- water, would you mind? Terribly... mmn," he cleared his throat as if for effect, "parched, you know. Been a warm one," said the man in the heavy -- probably winter -- cloak.

The air had seemed to take on a curious quality in the moments after Rowan had arrived -- a stillness that tended to foreshadow grey clouds and rumbling thunder. Eyes were watching him, a subtle shift in pressure that saw Rowan bouncing his weight from one heel to the other, settling a hand on the hip where an unassuming dark-eyed moleskin bag sat, cinched with silver twine.
 
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3,216
#3
Of course he'd had to look for her. Prejudiced big folk always thinking that everyone was their size. He should've known better though. Big folk over about five feet all looked the same to her, but even she could tell that he ought to be used to looking down to people. The best descriptor she could think of for him was "windswept," and it had nothing to do with the breeze which had followed him in. His cloak seemed to billow on a breeze of its own and his hair was artfully messy in a way that made her half suspect that it was intentional. Once his sunbleached eyes found her he finally acquiesced to being helped. Gwenner waited, arms folded across her chest and eyebrows raised, looking at him expectantly.

"I ken help you?" she repeated more slowly. Perhaps he didn't speak common, or her accent was too difficult for him to parse out. He made a weak attempt at a smile, his eyes darting around the room, before he asked for water and claimed it was hot out. "Perheps if you wear lighter cloak, will be not so hot," she suggested with a shrug before turning to get his drink. "Two copper," she said, setting the leather mug of cool water on the counter.

The wizard--he had to be a wizard, only wizards acted like he did--was still shifty. His eyes still darted around the room even as customers looked at him. His hand went to his hip and Gwenner spotted a pouch with silver twine. Gods knew what was in it, but she wouldn't be having any magic in her tavern. Well, maybe defensive magic but that was it. She wouldn't be having him casting spells about willy-nilly.

"No trahbul," she said firmly before pointing. "Your friends are in corner there. You do the mejik, I call city watch." Gwenner's eyes flicked up and down before she leaned on the counter to get a little closer to him. "What it is they are wanting, anyway?" she asked in a quieter voice.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
47
#4
As she swept one hand up toward the corner, Rowan's crystalline eyes widened minutely.

By the Circle woman, don't point--

"Yes, thank you for the water," Rowan interjected in what he hoped was a quiet tone, taking the stool in a motion considerably smoother than his facility for language. He settled there with a flip of his cloak over the back end so he wouldn't be sitting on it if things became troublesome. His arms settled on the counter, fingers wrapping tight around the base of the leather mug as with his other hand he produced a glittering handful of copper discs. More than what she'd asked for, but he didn't seem like he was about to start counting.

He seemed distracted -- he might even have seemed nervous, but there was something about the way he carried himself. Something in the stillness of his hands and the way he held his posture. There were nerves in the room, but they weren't coming from him. As she leaned over the counter to counsel with him, Rowan leaned forward in turn to better hear her.

The wizard finally centered his gaze on her and it was... an odd experience, for the insightful. Wizards were not... uncommon in Goldwater as they were, and people tended to avoid their sight somewhat; they always seemed to know things, and some of their spells could get just this side of spooky. But Rowan's eyes were a single spot of clarity in a man that otherwise seemed somewhat lacking in that regard. In some ways, they didn't even look human, with a slight faceting to one eye that suggested sapphire more than it did man.

He took a quick measure of her -- from dark braids down to the... impressive amounts of muscle, that caused blue eyes to swiftly double back to Gwenner's face. She had to be the proprietor to act like this -- and maybe the bouncer from the way she looked.

He could use that.

"... smugglers. Drugs. Flesh, more recently. But it's hard to make that take without proof," Rowan whispered.
 
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#5
He was a wizard alright. There was just something to the feel of him that vibrated magic. Then he looked at her and Gwenner's insides hardened. She wasn't used to being intimidated, and just by his gaze the man intimidated her. He wasn't all human, that was for certain. Still, she wasn't going to allow the intimidation to continue, most especially not in her own tavern. As his eyes swept over her the dwarf squared her shoulders, held her head a little higher, and met his gaze regardless of how unnerving it was. He took in her musculature and her abs tensed beneath her coarse tunic. No funny business.

Then the wizard leaned in and whispered to her that the trio in the corner were smugglers. Drugs and people. Her gut twisted in revulsion and she rolled up her sleeves revealing thick, strong forearms.

"Not in my tefern they're not." Before he could stop her Gwenner had slipped around the counter and stumped over to the table. "You are leaf now," she told them flatly. Nothing about her tone or demeanor had changed, but the way she carried herself had become much more upright.

"We just ordered drinks," said the man she had dealt with before.

"You want I should prorate?" Gwenner demanded. "There is no doing of crime in my tefern. You are leaf now." She crossed her arms over her chest and her biceps strained at her sleeves as she flexed.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
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Messages
47
#6
Perhaps that was more than he should have said--

But it got the job done well enough. The men moved to stand, and after a moment Rowan chose to do the same. The men were cutthroat, and despite the... very impressive musculature the dwarven woman carried, a fact which Rowan found inordinately distracting in a way that he filed away for later, he didn't like her odds in case those men chose to get violent. Rowan pushed himself to his feet, draining the last of his water as he took a half-step toward the others in the tavern. His hand rested on the side of the moleskin bag, carefully uncinching the silver--

"... easy on, luv," the man said, running one hand over his bald pate. "Yea. We'll clear off--" his eyes darted briefly over Gwenner's shoulder, catching sight of the looming wizard. There was a spark of recognition there, and the bald man wet his lips with a sweep of his tongue. "Right. Sorry to've bothered y'," the man said, gesturing for the other two to follow. They looked almost quizzical, one of them opening their mouth as if to protest before all three started through the tavern.

They swept toward and almost past Rowan--

But one of them took a step Rowan's way. The bump-and-grab, a trick any Goldwaterite knew by heart. Rowan rolled a shoulder away, but the hand still made for the bag. Rowan let it happen.

The mouth of the bag opened and--

Magic was a funny thing; it could be put to all sorts of purposes. Temperature regulation, divination of objects near and far, and even in rarer cases, spatial manipulation. The kind used in Bags of Holding.

The hand went in -- probably not looking for much, save to bait the wizard into following them so they could perhaps get a knife on him. They knew him and his work. They knew he wouldn't start something in a tavern, not when there was a nearby flexing dwarf.

Instead the thug's hand went in. Followed by his forearm. Allll the way to his shoulder as the mouth of the bag opened, taking him half off of his feet with a startled "what the hell!?"
 
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#7
"Em not your loff," Gwenner said flatly.

She saw the man's eyes dart over her head to the wizard behind her. She filed a mental note away later to chastise him for trying to do her job and, frankly, undermining her authority in her own tavern. But that would come later, when the men were out. Other patrons were starting to stare. She just wanted them to leave as quickly as possible, even despite the obvious pickpocketing. The wizard seemed to be aware of it, so she let it go.

Or she would have, anyway, had the thief's hand not gotten stuck in the bag. Then his forearm. Then up his shoulder. Gwenner's scowl deepened and she looked at the wizard.

"I said you do the mejik, I call city watch," she reminded him sternly. She gestured to the man starting to panic as the bag crawled toward his neck. "Lest warning. Put him down."
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
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#8
"Let go of me--" the man demanded, his voice growing increasingly panicked as Rowan -- looking more amused than put off by the whole thing -- got a hand over the man's collar.

"I'm not doing any magic!" Rowan protested. "Passive enchantments oughtn't count--" But while he was at it... in the back of his head he summoned the picture of a key. Some old wrought-iron piece that went to some door he'd once had the pleasure of stealing past, and the bag responded in kind-- the thug grabbed onto something deep in that bag, and Rowan assisted the man along his way by turning sharply on one heel, putting his weight into letting the man stumble his way back, clutching his prize and slamming into the ground. It wouldn't have worked on anyone too large, but the second of their number had been a weaselly and rat-faced little man.

"Oi! What'd you do t' 'im?" the third of the men, he of flat-top hat, demanded as he took a step forward to help his friend up.

"Those who dwell in the pockets of others had best be careful, lest they run too deep," Rowan said, taking a step back and settling his hand by the bag. "I'd say that's a bit of wizardly wisdom for you, but my nan taught me that."

The three men seemed to weigh their options, even as ratface was retreating behind his allies, clutching something dull iron. They tried to stare down Rowan -- but staring up was less intimidating, all told. Whatever was weighted, they all came down on the same side and let the tension seep from their shoulders.

"... yehr Blackstone, aye? Sorry for me mate, too much o' the drink," the bald man said, forestalling the advance of the others. They took a wide circuit of Rowan and Gwenner, finally exiting the tavern in due time.

Rowan blew out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
 
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#9
Gwenner kept her arms folded across her chest and stared down the intimidating wizard. Her place, her rules. That had been one of the most appealing things about opening her own place: she made the rules and she was judge of who was in violation of them. The wizard seemed reluctant, but eventually let him go. The thugs tried to stare him down, but it didn't work and they instead left, tails between their legs. The dwarf watched the door for a few long moments, then looked at him.

"It counts," she said, arms still folded. She nodded at the bag. "Pissive incheantmints or whatever. It counts. No mejik, shielding only. You want to use mejik, you take outside."

Gwenner stumped back behind the counter and refilled the wizard's water. "You are city watch, or other lawman?" she asked, sliding the mug in front of him. "Why you do not arrest, hm?"
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
May 16, 2017
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#10
"... yes, right," Rowan cleared his throat. "My deepest apologies."

She could never know, he reflected as the little woman stamped her way behind the counter, that for that to be true, he'd have to strut around entirely naked.

She trailed fury and more than a couple of nervous chuckles from the rest of the tavern. They'd seen Gwenner at work often enough to know that all involved had gotten off luckier than they could have.

Rowan followed in her wake, fetching back up at the bar to take his fill again of water.

"... not exactly," he said, his shoulders slumping a little now that the danger had passed. He had poor posture, but perhaps it was due to not every doorway being prepared in expectation of men like him. He gave her a smile -- a less distracted-looking one -- and the air of intimidation had seemed to have washed away a touch. Perhaps he was even unaware of it.

"I'm... not really much of a lawman at all. I occasionally work with the watch, but only when they need me. My name is Rowan Blackstone," he said as he pulled from the inside of his coat a piece of cardstock. Fine-looking stock, too, with glittering silver lettering spread across the front.

Rowan Ascheron Severus Blackstone -- Wizard.
Divination - Abjuration - Transmutation.
613 Garden Street.
"I help people," he explained. "And some locals think those men have taken their daughter. I've been hired to find her."
 
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#11
The dwarf took his card and read it carefully. Her dwarvish reading wasn't the best, and common was her third language, so it took a little time to puzzle out the letters. The card, however, confirmed her suspicions that he was a wizard.

"Gwenner," she said, handing the card back to him. "So you are wizard for hire?"

Rowan explained that he helped people. The men they had just chased out had apparently taken someone's daughter. Her look turned dark again, and she glanced out the door as though considering whether she might be able to catch up with the ruffians.

"Who is?" she demanded. "This, it is my neighborhood end I do not hear of these missing daughters. I maybe know the femily, ken help." She looked around her tavern as though she might find the girl sitting in here with men whose shirts clearly labeled them as her captors. "Slefery, prostitution, or both? How menny other daughters they take, hm?" She gave him time to recall the information by excusing herself to bring drinks to another table before returning, still muttering about her tavern getting ruined by traffickers, innocent girls, and something about property values. It is not the Watordeep, she could be heard muttering to herself before turning her attention back to Rowan.

"Well?" she prompted. "Who is girrel? How menny?"
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
May 16, 2017
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47
#12
Rowan held out a hand as she offered the card back to him. "Please, keep it. It's my way of keeping business lively," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Gwenner."

He set to tuck himself back into the water when, with as much fervor as she had treated the conflict minutes before, she demanded every case note and set herself to the grindstone. He'd taken her for someone more stolid and reserved than that, but she was focused. It impressed him, bringing a little rueful smile to his lips. He had the answer ready for her, but she bustled off to see to her tavern; blue eyes followed her all the way around, industrious and efficient.

"... Olivia Dunkirk. Daughter to Oliver and Annabel," he responded when she finished her circuit. He drew two things from the bag at his hip -- a sketch of a girl with chestnut ringlets, tied to which was a few locks of hair that seemed to be the very same. The other was a brass compass, though the needle danced more erratically than it should have. Whatever direction it was pointing, it wasn't north.

"As far as I can tell, there have been two or three other girls taken from this ward. One Leandra Chalmers, a human girl the other a Natty Griggs -- dwarf." He grimaced. "They're all young women, so I'm guessing prostitution."
 
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#13
Gwenner shrugged and tucked the card into her apron pocket. It wasn't like she would ever have need of a wizard, and if ever he needed her he knew where to find her. She had never put much stock in fancy men who had business cards; a being was their own advertisement. As she worked she felt his eyes following him. Nosy, that one. Though, she supposed it was his job to be nosy. When she returned and he told her the name of the missing girl she tilted her head a little in recognition and didn't look at the sketch.

"I know these Dunkorks," she said with only the slightest hint of a frown. "They are here efery week efter chorch. Not three days ago, efen, the girrel too." She glanced down curiously at the compass, but before she could ask what it was for he listed the other girls missing. "The Chalmers girrel I do not know. Netty..." Her expression seemed to darken again though only the most minute creases came to her lips and the corners of her eyes. "She is my brother-in-law's step-nephew's girrelfriend's cousin. I know her well. Morrin said she lift note, ren off with some tinker. Now they are say she is missink?" Watching concern etch into Gwenner's face was like watching a trickle of water etch through rock: slow and almost imperceptible, but close observers could still notice that something was different even if they couldn't tell what.

A single heavy exhale indicated her displeasure. "Prostitutes. Ef this is what they are to want of do, or to heff of do for bills, is not problem." She rubbed her hands together and held them up palms out, washing her hands of the hobbies and personal woes of prostitutes. "But when men are take of girrels, good girrels, innocent girrels, and make to force them?" She shook her head. "These mens you know, yes?" Gwenner jerked her thumb out the door to indicate the men they had run off. "They liff where? They work where? You are mek them to try and skeer, make thet you are beeg skeery men; I am mek them to regret." Still with little change to her tone or expression she untied her apron and laid it on the counter. She attempted to roll up her sleeves, but they were still rolled from making the men leave to begin with. Not one to be dissuaded, she instead pushed them all the way up to her elbows.

"Come," she said, reaching under the counter before stepping around it and gesturing for him to follow. "You are showink me where are these mens. We are find Netty end Dunkork girrel, mek them to wish city watch hed found enstet." She strode briskly toward the door. Even at her briskest stride she had four steps for every one of Rowan's, though Gwenner carried herself for all the world as though she were leading him instead. In her hand was a hefty-looking hammer cast for combat rather than forging or repairs.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
47
#14
“Y-yes,” Rowan answered to the missing of one young Natty once he had parsed this additional branch on the family tree. He was keeping one clear eye on her face, watching the way in which it… crinkled. It was interesting to watch her, in the way certain folk were. Low enough in expressiveness that it drew inquisitive eyes like his and begged to parse what he read as one word: Indignation. That was good. He hoped.


ep


Rowan took in her words, and was still in the midst of parsing the thick dwarven woman’s thicker accent when, with hammer held tightly in hand, she was striding for the door -- Rowan had to follow in her wake, pushing himself quickly off of the bar, forgetting the compass and sketch, and doubled back to gather everything up.


He still had plenty of time to overtake her, long-legged strides allowing him to cut her off just once she passed through the door.


“Hold on-- hold on, Ms. Gwenner,” Rowan said, settling a hand on her shoulder and feeling in rather short order that she could have bowled right through him if she’d been of a mind to. He wasn’t sure if anyone could have stopped her in her tracks just then, and as much as he wanted to be the one swinging the hammer in this regard--


He couldn’t.


“I don’t know these men, Ms. Gwenner. I’ve been hired to find them, find the girls, and get all the information I can so that the city watch can deal with them. I’ve not been sent after them to fight,” he pleaded. He held a hand up in a placating gesture, taking a couple of steps back and spreading his hands to either side.


“But I’m not sitting back, either. I appreciate that you want to help me, but I can’t bring regular people in on this; these guys are said to have hitters. Magical ones. It’s why they recognized me; I’m not on the good list for a lot of those types,” Rowan said. He couldn’t help but feel a little proud that he was considered a thorn in the side for a group like that, but it did make work a little harder.


“I do have a plan, though. The smallest one, he took something from me. I made sure it was a key. And because that key belongs to me, I can find it and therefore him. They probably even think it’s my house key, which means that if they’re going to ambush me for running them out of your tavern, I know exactly where they’re going to be. See? I have options here.”
 
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#15
Just outside the door Rowan had to bend almost double to put a hand on her shoulder. Gwenner looked at the hand, then at him. The rest of her face remained stony, but her eyebrows raised halfway to her hairline in what could be taken as either incredulity or challenge. Her grip tightened around her hammer, but she didn't swing for now. Violence was more often than not her last resort these days.

When he insisted that he didn't know where the men were and that he hadn't been sent to fight, she made a noise and waved her hand dismissively. "You hev not been sent for to fight," she scoffed. "You see fightink pits?" She gestured down the street where the coliseum could be seen even three miles away. "You see sign?" She pointed up at her own sign that she had had specially painted for the place. The ivy crown was to distinguish prize fight champions, and on the sign seven of them had been painted interlocked in a ring. "Is me. You are not fight, I em fight. You are tell me where to find." Rowan insisted that he couldn't bring "regular people" in on his case and she snorted, putting her hands on her hips. "Reg-yuu-lore peoples," she scoffed. "You do net hear me? You do not read sign? Em not reg-yuu-lore peoples. They hev the hitters? Is good; I hit beck harder. The mejik, it ken only do so much. So you go end find these mens, yes? You go end find these mens, end I come and hit the hitters."

"I do have a plan, though," Rowan insisted. "The smallest one, he took something from me. I made sure it was a key. And because that key belongs to me, I can find it and therefore him. They probably even think it's my house key, which means that if they're going to ambush me for running them out of your tavern, I know exactly where they're going to be. See? I have options here."

Gwenner's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly and she pointed at him and shook her finger. "This is another think," she said, swinging around to her other bone to pick with him. "Is my tefern, I em tek care of own problems. I hed these mens in hend, was throwink them out just fine, end you come and think because em wooman, because am dworf, I need the help with menegink my own business." She returned her hands to her hips and looked up at him sternly. "You are not come into my place of the business end deal with my patrons, yes?" It wasn't a question. She gestured around. "This, it is my neighborhood. My home. These mens are doing of crimes--of treffickink--out of my tefern, take girrels from my home end brink questionabuul people, bed people, ento my business thet I work hard to run end keep heffink good repute." Gwenner tapped her chest over her heart with her hammer. "Is not just big-city crime, is porsoonuhl. I tek care of own tefern, I tek care of own neighborhood, end em not need of fency wizard to mek bed guys of skeer."

"Now." The dwarf's tone was suddenly very businesslike and she squared her shoulders before gesturing with her fingers at him. She wiggled her fingers the way children might when pretending to cast a spell while playing. "You are kest of the spell to find this key, yes? We find of the leetle men, we find of the girrels. Him end his friends? Lifetime benn from Ifey Crown." She nodded and crossed her arms across her chest, looking at him expectantly.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
Joined
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47
#16
The magic; it could only do so much.

It was the kind of statement that redoubled the steel in his spine, and drew him to the fullness of his height. When the man didn't slouch, it drew attention to the breadth of his shoulders and the way the wind coiled around him... differently, casting grey and stormy shadows. He knew in his heart that the Dark Wizard Blackstone act wouldn't work on her -- it worked mostly on the superstitious, not the hardheaded. So he would have to take another approach entirely. She wanted blunt logic? He could give her blunt logic.

"It's not that you're a woman or a dwarf, Ms. Gwenner," he said -- he didn't even sound offended, as if used to having to brush off the accusation of discrimination. "You chased them off. I was trying to get them to stay, because I needed them to leave with something of mine or I needed something of theirs. So I had to think of a way to make that happen. That's how my magic works--"

Rowan stepped past her, and as he did so he finally reached into that moleskin bag -- a walking stick of gnarled wood, the sort that seemed blackened as if taken from a tree struck by lightning -- was pulled from it with an easy gesture, and it clicked hard against the ground as he peered over the city.

The Colosseum...

Seven crowns--

People feared wizards because of the most basic fear of all -- fear of the unknown. None knew what might lay within a wizard's tome of secrets, and it was the prerogative of casters from Goldwater to the Drow cities of Tal'vashoth to keep it that way. But there was value in the fear of the known, that lizard brain fear of a big muscly bruiser with a chunk of iron on a stick.

"And without my magic," he said with his back to her, "they're gone to the winds. You need me more than I need you, Ms. Gwenner." He turned on the final words with a sweep of his cloak and a click! of his staff as firm punctuation. His eyes shone, not by light of magic but with a twinkle in the sun of a powerful conviction. He offered a hand out to her.

He seemed different than he had in the tavern -- more focused under the sunlit sky.

"But you're right. If you want to catch these men. Find them quickly, and be a part of this rescue, then you need to work with me. I'll take you with me and when the time is right, you can take your revenge. We're not killing them. That's against my rules -- but I forgot to include guidelines for things like 'kneecaps', 'ribs', and 'black eyes'," he offered a smile. "But otherwise we're partners on this investigation."
 
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#17
Rowan turned to her and straightened to his full height, making himself broad and imposing. The wind seemed to change as it skittered down the street, swirling around his large frame to move him out of the way. Gwenner laughed.

"You are beeg men," she agreed with a nod. "I hef fought beeg men like you, end beeger. There is soul in your eyes, Rowwen Bleckstone; you do net use the mejik on a slight. Ef I giff of offense to misculenity, I do apology. But for to control my own tefern en my own way?" She shook her head. "No apology."

He explained how his magic worked, but Gwenner didn't quite care. There were ways of finding where people live without magic; talking to the right sources, buying the right people a beer or a meal. His way was just easiest for him. With a gesture she was sure he felt looked impressive, Rowan pulled a gnarled, blackened walking stick from his bag, clicked it against the stone, and looked around. Were the theatrics really necessary? The dwarf wondered whether only dramatic people became wizards, or if they had to take some sort of class when they trained that included posing and hair-swooshing. That was how she knew that, no matter how little she regarded magic, he was very good at what he did. He had the best Wizardly Hair Swoosh she had ever seen.

"And without my magic," he said with his back to her, speaking dramatically out into the street the way she imagined a storybook hero might while pondering the fate the Gods had written for him, "they're gone to the winds. You need me more than I need you, Ms. Gwenner."

"Yes yes," she said impatiently. "I said you are kest of spell, yes? Without spell, I start from beeginnink: find names, find homes. So kest of spell, we find, end mejik hitters hit with mejik then I hit with hemmer." She took his hand and was leading him down the street in the direction he had been posing while he set out his rules. Gwenner's rocky face finally crumpled at slightly faster than erosion pace, and it crumpled into a dark expression, when he mentioned not killing. "I do not keel ennymore," she said solidly, and left it at that. "Your spell, it says this way? Is way you were..." She trailed off. It wouldn't be kind to call Rowan out on his posing; it might give him a complex. If posing was important to wizarding, then let him pose; she wouldn't be responsible for making him bad at his job. "I thought you saw compess of point."
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
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#18
"Yes, yes, you're very good at the magic, can we go now?"

It wasn't exactly what she said, but he was largely working off of context clues and a knack for language when he was deciphering her accent. Though he could speak Dwarven or cast a spell to make her perfectly understandable to him, there was a weird point of pride in being able to understand her without need of the spell. Nevertheless--

"I--" his voice faltered just a bit. There was nothing quite as deflating for a man's natural sense of dramatics -- honestly, the theaters of the western wards were missing out -- to have a bustling dwarven woman cut straight through them. He might have been offended, to call her out on it -- but it wouldn't do for her to know how vitally important dramatics actually were to the job of proper wizardry... or how Rowan wasn't even the grandest of their kind in that regard.

With his hand in hers, he nearly doubled over as she started to pull and drag, but righted himself in short order, taking to long-legged strides that saw him matching the bustling bar matron's pace.

"That isn't how this is going to work," Rowan said as he pulled his hand from hers -- he withdrew the compass from an inner pocket, and spoke aloud a spell. It was in an old tongue -- older even than the dwarves -- and it rolled off his tongue richly and fluidly. The compass glowed briefly, taking on an azure bent before the needle spun round once, angling them down closer toward the water. "They have some kind of system -- they catch people coming in, and move if they sense that they're being closed in on; it's why the guards haven't caught them yet. The Greyharrows aren't to be treated lightly, Ms. Gwenner."

Gwenner's plan had merit; but the slow and methodical approach invited gangsters to see them coming; though he hadn't been let in on the investigation officially, at least two deaths had cropped up with regards to the abductions. Well-meaning family friends went looking, and ended up finding their end under long knives in dark places. "Botched robbery" was a poor story for a retaliatory murder.

"The compass will only take us partway. Once we have a location, we have it marked. A little more reconnaissance, and then we arrive like lightning to gather the girls."
 
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#19
She could tell she had probably hurt his feelings for not allowing his dramatics, but Gwenner would apologize later. Dramatics wasted time, and they needed a sense of urgency about them. These girls were in danger.

"That isn't how this is going to work," Rowan said as he pulled his hand from hers.

"Oh so?" She raised her eyebrows mildly and glanced at him while continuing her stumpy-legged charge down the street. "And why net? You say they heff the mejik hitters. I say I need net the mejik for hittink. The mejik, it ken only do so much. Like I say." Rowan explained that they had an alarm system and moved if they thought authorities were closing in on them. She thought for a moment, then nodded. "The mejik, it need sometimes the eh...how of say?" She pondered for a moment before finding the right word. "Kempo-nits." She nodded. "It need sometimes kempo-nits. So your compess will point, we find kempo-nits, end we break." She tapped the head of her hammer against her palm. "Then we break treffickikers."

"The compass will only take us partway," Roawan pointed out. "Once we have a location, we have it marked. A little more reconnaissance, and then we arrive like lightning to gather the girls."

"Recono..." Gwenner stopped in the middle of the street and looked at him, fists on her hips. "You heff watched the lightenink?" she demanded. "Lightenink it does not plenn. It does not look end say 'oh is nice tree, I strike...oh wait no, is better tree here.' It strike. Boom." She tapped her hammer in her hand again, demonstratively this time. "Longor girrels are in Goldwetter, more danger they are in. More likely is it thet treffickikers move them to ships end then what? Parts unknowink." She gestured out to the harbor. "Into world, nefer to see again. We heff no timink for the 'reconissents.' We arrife now." She started off down the street again.
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
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#20
"I..."

He really wasn't sure how he could explain the intricacies of magic to someone for whom the base concept was intricate. He was used to having to explain the thaumaturgical basis of spellcraft, to demonstrate the various and sundry ways that the arcane arts could be employed for a hundred different purposes; transmutation, divination, evocation, to name but a few of the ways the Weave of the world could be taken by mortal hands and reshaped, divining the shape of the World in one word and then defining it in the next.

He didn't know he was supposed to go about explaining "mejik", however.

"I believe I said," Rowan managed somewhat stiffly, "that that isn't the way this is going to work. If you can't put yourself behind my plan, I'm not going to involve you in it." He redoubled his pace then, swallowing great stretches of cobbled stone with every long-legged stride and leaving the dwarf to have to scramble to keep up with him... he could have just teleported, but he wanted to give her that chance to keep up and amend the way she was going about this partnership.

Blue sky thinking like that is exactly what led the two of them to bickering all the way up the city... leaving behind a distant rumble of thunder, one that scarcely halted their step.

Rain rolling in, a late spring storm that heralded some ominous portent.
 
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#21
"Is my neighborink-hood," the dwarf replied stubbornly. "I help. I heff none of this mejik, so I help in ways I ken. You are boss of rescue all the suddens?"

Apparently he had decided he was. Rowan Blackstone Pompous Knowing-All-Of-It Wizard Extraordinaire doubled his pace (likely, if she weren't determined to be so cussed with him, sped his pace up to what was a normal pace for himself) and forced her to jog to keep up with him. She was terrible at running.
 
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Grimoire

The Book of Love
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#22
A few hours passed, and more than once Rowan redoubled his pace to force the bardwarf into a jog to keep up with him. THey seemed to have settled to some kind of accord, the bickering notwithstanding,

The day passed into a cool October evening, bringing about the first chills of late autumn. Wind tore over the surface of the ocean, bringing the scent of salt to wash over the city -- sunset brought fruition to the city's name; the water glittered like gold in the bay, bringing an uncommon beauty to a city that had seemed to simply grow dark, darker, yet darker.

Rowan had led the way uptown, and once the compass was pointing in the right direction... he'd fetched the two of them up in a building. One of those old storefronts that had been closed down in recent months due to pressure from the Goldwater Merchant Society. The door was not hard to get past, and it was from here he had called forth a little bit of magic; a bird that formed itself of shadow, before resolving itself into the shape of a corvid that had been sent out through a window to survey the land.

The bird flew high, and was able to make out the building that the compass had pointed him toward. Rowan hadn't pointed it out to Gwenner, but it was a small warehouse, one that had likely once been used to store imports before the Navy had made that a little tougher in recent years. There were guards there, including one of the fools that had been back at the Ivy Crown.

The bird got close enough to hear -- to catch wind of the girls within.

And in the meanwhile, he set to carefully marking out circles of chalk against the stone floor. He moved quickly, drawing out runes in a combination of languages -- dwarven runes intermingled with Draconic and Sylvan, a cognate of language that blended together to make words only his eyes could read. It didn't take terribly long, less than an hour even as he made two circles, with a steady exhalation of magic intent and raw energy.

Most interestingly... he did it blindly. His eyes were subsumed by a milky texture, as if his own eyes were a world away as his hands moved with practiced ease. Sometimes he didn't seem to be aware of anything but the steady practice of his magic.

"... all tasks at hand have been cleared. Ms. Gwenner, I've located the girls. If you are ready to get them out of there, I will enchant us both. They will have no time to run, and we'll have the girls free in less than one minute." Rowan said.
 
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#23
A raven. How...dramatic. Gwenner resisted the urge to roll her eyes and instead leaned against a wall and watched out the window as it flew off into the night. She shook her head.

"Of all bords--" When she turned to face him she couldn't help a sharp little inhale. "Bleckstone..."

It was dark, but in the shaft of moonlight peering through the broken shutters she could see his eyes. It was as though he had suddenly developed cataracts over those shocking blue eyes, but he moved as though he could see perfectly clearly. Rowan knelt with his chalk on the floor, drawing circles and runes, some of which she recognized but most she didn't. It gave her the...what was it they called it in Goldwater? Wollycobbles. She shivered though the night wasn't terribly cold and leaned against the wall again, watching him carefully. She'd heard of people getting possessed, running about with eyes like that, taking chunks out of people and spewing bodily fluids everywhere. If any of that nonsense started happening she was ready to brain him and go look for the girls herself. Finally, he stood and asked whether she was ready to retrieve them.

"Heff been ready," she assured him solemnly, tapping her hammer against her palm. "What is you are of doink? What mejik?"
 

Grimoire

The Book of Love
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#24
Rowan drew to his full height -- and as he did so, the circles he had drawn glowed with a pale blue light. Mystic power ran through the floorboards, a steady thrum that any adventurer worth their salt was able to feel. It was Power, arcane sigils that promised strength to any who might touch them. He held his hand over one of those circles while with his other hand he drew out a staff. The blackened and gnarled one, a thunderstruck timber that glowed faintly with runic force as it was palmed in his hand.

"This magic will enchant you with the power of the zephyr. You will move faster, hit harder, and be much more difficult to stop. This will get us past the front door of the warehouse, one hundred and ten feet to our east. There will be a bald man watching the door with a hidden hammer on his hip. Once we're in, head straight to the back rooms. I will be behind you the entire time. Alright?"

He gestured for her to stand in the circle. "This will keep them from having time to collect themselves," he said as he stood in the other.

The feel of enchantment--

It was an odd sensation to those who were not used to it. Lightning ran up one's legs, down through the arms. It energized and invigorated, the world starting to crawl at half speed as they were removed from the world of the ordinary and became far more than that. Haste was a powerful spell in the right hands, and the circles continued to glow and waver with magical might as they held the spell for him, leaving Rowan open to move. He grinned fiercely at the familiar sensation, the lightning of a summer storm crackling in his eyes.

"... after you, Ms. Gwenner." He sounded distorted, as if he would be speaking too quickly... but perfectly audible to her.
 
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#25
She didn't like this. No sir, she didn't like this one bit. Gwenner had never been enchanted before and had always suspected that it would be an unpleasant sensation, and she was right. Lightning shot up her legs, down her arms, through her fingers and toes, crackling and hissing like sap in a fire. It felt like adrenaline after a fight, charging her limbs and making her brain go all buzzy in a pleasant-unpleasant way. She felt as though she were vibrating very quickly, and the bastard was grinning.

"After you, Ms. Gwenner." His voice sounded as though it were coming through a tin can held right next to her ear. She shivered and her neck twinged impulsively, causing her to rub her ear against her shoulder.

"Right." She set her face grimly and took a step forward. Then another.

...Then she was there. The dwarf blinked while she faced a bald man stationed in front of a door, just as the wizard had said. It felt as though she had taken maybe a handful of steps, and if the warehouse were one hundred and ten feet away surely that wasn't right? She had appeared so suddenly that the two stood for a few long moments and blinked at each other. They recovered about the same time.

"Oi! You--!" The bald man drew his hammer, but started howling in pain at nearly the same moment before collapsing.

She hadn't struck that quickly, had she? But Gwenner looked and indeed the guard's leg was poking straight out at an unnatural angle, his hip completely caved in. He'd likely lose the whole thing; she'd seen it before, done it before, turning a man's pelvis into mere shards of bone loosely held together by ribbons of sinew. Stormlight crackled in her fingertips and she tightened her grip on the haft of her hammer. Perhaps there was an advantage to this whole magic thing. But she still didn't like the way it felt inside her. The dwarf left him to scream, unused to the need for stealth; she didn't kill anymore, and that was the only way to silence him.

Instead she barged straight back into the dark corridor beyond, back to the rooms where Rowan had told her the girls were.
 
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