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Storytime with VAE, maybe. New stuff 20/12/2015

Storytime with VAE, maybe. New stuff 20/12/2015

Postby VAE » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:25 am

Mild content warning - contains strong language.



Business as Unusual

*crack*
The small file snapped near the tip, its stubbed leftover slipping and ruining the delicate glyph that decorated the finger-bone.
"Lolth's tits, I...screw it!"
With a sudden surge of vitality, Burmice grabbed the handful of screw-ups from the provisional altar in front of her and tossed them at the wall. They scattered across the subterranean room, save one knuckle-bone which bounced off a brick, and hit her right eye.
"...fucking ENOUGH!" Her eye twitching, she grabbed the little offender and crushed it to powder between her fingers.

And now for the eye-drops. Where the fuck did I put my eye-drops
It was one of those days, the sort that seemed to happen a lot more often ever since she moved to Castleton. A day that started with being woken from trance by a cramp, carried on with a stubbed toe which led to burns from the tea mug in her hand, and now, a hour and half of eye-straining work ruined because of the files being made of rotheshit.

The considerably irritated drow necromancer walked up the stairs of her "new" residence - a somewhat... okay, severely dilapidated butcher's shop the owner was suspiciously eager to sell (and for a good reason, though that's another matter entirely) up to the ground level.

Might as well open shop for today. There's the sausages, fresh beef from yesterday's forced slaughter, and with a bit of luck, I'll get- Eh. Me, luck, today, who am I kidding for Lolth's sake. I'll be lucky if I don't trip while sitting on my arse.
Rolling her eyes at the prospect of the day, she walked up the trapdoor, grabbed her apron, and opened the door to her left, which led to the main kitchen.

A kitchen that she noticed had an overabundance of life.

The overabundance in question dropped a partly consumed sausage and burned through the drow woman with a wide-eyed stare. It was a large tabby cat, with a surprisingly fluffy tail, partly bitten-off ear and what looked like an eye infection. The open window with a piece of glass missing near the handle told her the means through which it probably entered, though since when the fuck are cats able to open windows remained an open mystery.

"You motherkilling wreck! Those were for sale!"
The cat continued to stare, prepared to leave, but not particularly embarrassed or disturbed.
Burmice, on the other hand, was getting into swing, the red capillaries in her eyes and darkened face demonstrating the effects of anger on blood pressure.
"Nux." The large, golden ring on her right index finger hummed for a moment, and the cat found itself lifted by an invisible force by the scruff of its neck, and hovering slowly towards the irritated house owner.
"Mrrooowwwwrrr"
"Sausage theft doesn't sound so great now, does it?"
"Mrrowwwwrroww"
The cat attempted to shake free of the hold, clawing at the air and swinging side to side like a fuzzy pendulum.
"I wonder what I'll do with you. A winter hat... nah, not good enough. Hmm, taxidermy practice? Or the fine sport of cat tossing. Hmm, to spin or not to spin-"
"Hssh!"
With a sudden jerk, the cat managed to slip from the spell's hold, leaving a small clump of its fur floating in the air, landed on the floor, and attempted a daring escape through the window. Instead, she slipped on the windowsill and dropped into a puddle of greasy water in the mixing tub below. It made another attempt, but with its paws even slippery, it ended just as badly.
"And then, someone says stuff like cats are agile. Right, you thieving little wretch?"
At this point, Burmice burst out laughing, while the cat, apparently confused by it all, settled for conspicuously pretending not to be there at all.
"Alright, alright, you've earned your stay for now. I'll toss you out when I'll plug up the bloody window."
She walked towards the table with sausages, grabbed the partly-eaten one and tossed it into the tub near the cat, who ignored it for the time being, continuing to stare at her. "But first, to open shop."

Burmice raked the remaining wares into a weaved basket, and set off towards the shop door - in a stroke of brilliance completely uncharacteristic of Castleton's residents, the floor plan was such that one could get from any of the rooms into any other through one door. Not that impressive given there were just three rooms, but still.
Time to get moving on the "Get a new skeleton" front, I guess. The one remaining exemplar indeed had a host of problems mostly resulting from heavy wear, and even carrying out trivial tasks like chopping wood or hauling water required oversight lest it'd, say, forget to stop turning the crank after the bucket was out. The most annoying thing was that it would mostly be a trivial matter to arrange, but Burmice wasn't particularly familiar with the city yet, and simple, convenient and legal means of acquiring corpses were something unheard of in these uncivilized wastelands.
With her head full of memories of the last party Mal dragged her to, a rather amusing affair involving port wine, fried spiders with sweet sauce, and one of her friends' mother rising into the post of a district overseer following the previous one's untimely death, she walked through the door, right past the skeleton holding a body, wiped the counter and placed the "offer of the day" near the right-hand edge.

A skeleton holding a body.

"Not again." She sighed, put the shop ingress key back behind the counter, and approached the skeleton with rather mixed feelings. On one side, the old clunker was apparently in a better state than she expected, and the would-be thief would provide a source of replacement parts, or even material for a new one. On the other, another bloody delay today that was costing her, simply not feeling like it now, and not the least, the fact someone broke in and she hasn't noticed at all."
Eh. Just means I can afford not to care. Now, let's see.
She touched the skeleton's forehead with her index finger and set off back towards the stairs to her basement lab - which, incidentally, also served as cold storage.

"You first." she tapped its head - it would be remarkably dumb to leave the skeleton to walk behind and possibly collapse on top of her if it tripped or slipped - and soon enough, they were surrounded by racks of red sausages, smoked bacon, salt ham, and slabs of meat left to age hanging from the roof. Upon further prompting and a kick in the shin, the skeleton placed the body on a somewhat flimsy-legged wooden table with glyphs etched into the surface, doubling as altar and working desk. As its stopped creaking, she heard another noise from behind - some sort of a slurp mixed with quiet braying.
"Goddess, will you shut it?"
In the corner, the desiccator hungrily sucking in the fresh, moist air of the newcomers stopped carefully advancing and did the closest thing to puppy eyes something with a large hole for a face could manage.
"Just wait for when I'm done. Goddess, the air in here is already worse than Moscra." She took out the small vial and dropped saline into her damaged eye, with the salt-encrusted undead's head seemingly following every drop.

Now, it was time to examine the corpse. Run of the mill halfling thief, one could say. One could also say his equipment was pretty sub-standard - a nasty looking, rather awfully rusty dagger, a bunch of lockpicks wrapped in greasy cloth, coal dust all over his face and hair in what was either an attempt to disguise himself or just filth, and a thin strangulation mark suggesting the skeleton grabbed his neck from behind and didn't let go. Finally, she sliced the string of the ex-thief's trousers, and pulled them away.
"Lice. Ew."
She ran her hand over the corpse from head to foot, and the little creatures who looked like poverty crumbled into dust.
I guess I just disintegrated what half of Gel's pupils would consider dinner. Burmice chuckled at the mental image of Stin'baldrin and Lesreel thoughtfully picking and eating lice off each other during a study session. Filthy fucks. I wouldn't be surprised at all. Especially that peasant little shit, but anyways... the insides need out and he stinks like a sewer. At least he hasn't shat himself, his guts gotta be fairly empty as is. I guess I'll just prep the body, conserve it and finally bloody open.
With a word to her ring, she cleansed the body, then proceeded to carefully remove the genitals and lead a long, straight cut upwards between the muscles of the abdomen...
"A louse a day keeps starvation away!"
... and across her finger.
"Gaah! Lolth's tits!" Unthinkingly, she stuffed her injured digit into her mouth as she attempted to turn around, which resulted in elbowing the jar full of head spirit and halfling gonads that shattered on the floor.
"One would think the weaver house would have a more open attitude to them, spider food and all" It was for best perhaps that he rather quieter words weren't noticed by Burmice, presently melding her finger's flesh back together, at least for the smiling intruder.
"What in the fucking pits do you want here at any rate, you spiderarse?! And don't tell me you have stolen whatever is it you're chewing from upstairs."
"Fine, I won't tell."
"Fuck you too. Now answer before I toss you out like the sack of rotheshit you are." The other drow leaning on the wall just behind her back, currently in the guise of a somewhat balding half-elf, rubbed his mouth.
"A sausage. Gotta admit, they're delicious even raw-" He promptly dodged a hand shooting for his collar, still grinning like the sun above a dung heap at the distinctly irritated necromancer now facing him.
"Kidding. It's pretty much Gel sending me out on a run to get the usual scraps delivery for his pets, plus, Lethiriss wanted something for the guests tomorrow, and she made it sound like you know what."
Burmice threw an examining look at the ceiling.
"Goddess, is that all? Rhylinar, you are making refusal of service a genuinely tempting option." She ran a finger across the front of her headband, her hair appearing to grow out and darken, and her skin blending to a much more human coloration.
"Meh. Let's go, the sooner we'll get this over with, the sooner you'll sod off, after all."

She looked around the dimly-lit room, her eyes following the rows of hooks, then set off towards the corner furthest from the hapless desiccator, its head stretched in direction of the still mostly watery pool on the floor.
"Your brother's slithery concubine was here a week ago when I bought a bunch off a rather drunk hunter, and told me to save her a couple." She waved her hand over four furry cadavers, each hanging from the rack by a string tied to its leg.
"Wild hares, they should be about the right amount of aged, too."
She grabbed the first one by the hanging leg and pulled it upwards, loosening the loop and sliding it off.
"Don't just stand there, I don't have six hands!" She vigorously pushed the first one into Rhylinar's hands.
"You, too!" The skeleton shambled forth, and Burmice handed it another pair of hares, before stacking the last one onto Rhy's hands again.
"Follow me.. I'll need to skin and gut these, and three-five-six should pack up the bones and scraps and not fuck up in an atrocious manner yet again, right?"
The skeleton didn't deign her with a response, while the other drow laughed.
"Oh my, what changes. Weren't you going on about how incredibly reliable undead-"
"Shut up, it's old."
"Long service life, too."
"SHUT UP."

* * *

Less than half hour later, the last of the hares was hanging by both legs from a tree branch, the remains of its fellows being split between a large oaken bowl (the meat), another branch (the skins) and an oozing pile on the ground, immediately beset by a number of cats probably from all over the neighbourhood.

Including, as Burmice noticed, the intruder from the morning, gleefully ignoring personal safety to stuff its face with old hare gut, and (rather successfully) fight the other five for choicier morsels, if anything in the pile could be called choicier. At the very least, their cattiness seemed to entertain Rhylinar, who, propped against the fence, finally shut his rothe butt mouth and contented himself with watching the scene.
And it... she, I'd say... keeps right under my feet. Okay, that's got to be either a sign of thorough idiocy, or courage... Is there a difference though? Either way, that's half the matter taking care of itself.

Pondering the nuances of language, the dagger in her hands worked almost on its own. Split the skin at the inner thighs, scrape, pull, cut off the tail and the front, pull the skin down like a dress or robe, then scrape again as the front legs appear...
A large fly apparently decided that her forehead makes for a good resting place and bouffet in one. The drow froze in place, slowly raising her left hand in a manner so as to not disturb the intruder.
Considering we're the chosen of the Spider Queen, it genuinely doesn't get dumber. Oh just wait you little webknot wreck.
"Nux."
A second or so later, all that remained of the fly was a much smaller black sphere she tossed away with another wave of her hand.
I guess idiocy kills. For a moment, she smiled.
Another of life's small victories.

About to resume work, Burmice scraped the hare fluids off her hands and knife, making use of the still active spell. Then, she noticed the cats again.
No longer squabbling, or stuffing their faces, the creatures were standing or sitting, ears perked up intently, and eyes wide, all looking in her direction.
"...in the pits is going on?"
"Dunno. Maybe that fly-swatting spell of yours had some side-effects."
"Rotheshit. They aren't even-"
"Did you hear that?" She turned her head.
Unfortunately, towards the now on his feet Rhylinar rather than the kitchen window about two dozen feet behind her back.
The glass shattered with impact.
Instinctively, she turned around to face the source of the noise, her left hand crackling with negative energy. As far as instincts go, it wasn't the most fortunate.
"Fu-"
She saw a glimpse of a dripping, rattling thing that slammed right into her raised arm, shoulders and chest, sending her sprawling back first into the pile of hare offal.
"-ck."
She blinked to readjust her vision, at least with the one eye capable of doing so.
The thing standing on top of her was a bizarre amalgamation of her property in the rough shape of a large dog, breathing at her face with a mouthful of ribs and an intestine apparently standing in for a tongue. On its skeletal hind quarters, a chain of sausages wagged happily.
"Goddess. A charnel puppy."
The thing proceeded to lick her face, and despite a life of working with corpses in varying states of decay, Burmice found it difficult not to gag at the smell.
"Good...doggy...why?"
She flinched at the return of her left hand's senses announcing itself by means of a sharp stabbing pain somewhere in the elbow region. Then it hit her.
Goddess. The charnel touch. To an undead with a mind... it must feel like petting. She raised her other, now dagger-less hand, and with another charge, scratched the creature behind what with a bit of imagination could be called an ear.
The wagging intensified, as unfortunately did the panting.
"Blech... good... now get off me so I"
"But how it loves you, Burmy. Never figured you as the type to get along with animals - and now I see it's just that you gotta make your own." From somewhere behind, the amused voice of her ally's halfwit brother hit her ears.
"Oh shut up, you useless webknot." She futilely attempted to get up from under the hound, which responded by laying down with its front paws across her chest, but not before giving her another repugnant lick.
"I think it recognizes you for its mommy. I mean, there sure is some family resemblance!"
"Like between you and a rothe's arse." she hissed, as the mass on her chest was beginning to make breathing somewhat difficult. It didn't matter, though, for finally she has a plan and a way out. The thing was soft, and rather intent on staying in place - something that in other circumstances would have to be laboriously ensured. She crawled her good hand up the thing's forehead, and began to carve a sigil of command with her index finger, more from memory than actual sight. The skin yielded easily, oozing with fluid as the fingernail cut it, sliding through the putrid flesh underneath.
It was a fresh corpse. It's amusing how quickly these things shape the material they absorb to their own image.
Absorb.
Goddess.
She tried to pull her hand away from the sigil. The skin and flesh bobbed upwards in response, much like a pot of honey when one tries to pull out the ladle, but her fingertip hasn't separated from the surface. To boot, the hound disliked the sensation, as apparent from the lack of sausage wagging.
And with the finger shorting it, I can't...
"Fuck me."
"I think I'll pass."
"You prefer stuttering commoners, I know. Hand me the dagger, you webknot."
"I'm... not going near that."
A cold, wet and slightly burning feeling told her the dead tissues were slowly creeping upwards.
"Then at least bloody tell me where the fuck it has fallen. Try to be descriptive"
"If you say please."
"The direction of your voice and my aching hand is enough for me to curse you hard enough that you'll shit through your ears."
"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind."
"Goddess. Will you please tell me where the FUCK is my DAGGER!?"
"That's better... lessee... about three feet down and foot and half across from where your right hand would be if it wasn't stuck up there. The handle is facing you, roughly, and there's this little shrub next to it... What, no thanks?"
"Fuck you veery much!"
"Come on now, Burmy. Your life is in peril, and all you can think of is sex?"
"Shut up!"
Burmice mumbled a word of command. The ring on her left hand buzzed softly, its power awakening again.
Carefully, she lifted her head as much as her spine and the mass on her chest would allow, and looked rightwards.
"Goddess damn it." she whispered. The creature's skeletal butt was completely obscuring the location where the dagger would supposedly be.
Alright, gonna have to do it the hard way.
She closed her eyes, trying to focus on the dagger's appearance and approximate location. Hopefully, it'd do for the ring's powers to force it towards her.
It's a little hard, isn't it. She yanked on it, moving her finger in unison with the image in her mind.
Moments later, she found herself with a hand full of an uprooted, and probably surprised shrub.
"Too far left."
"Shut...eh"
She focused again. This time, it was a rock stuck with a number of woodlice and earthworms on the underside. In the meantime, the growth crawled up three of her fingers, the only thing apparently stopping it from enveloping her hand being the dead flesh's apparent distaste for electrum and obsidian.
"A bit higher. Come on!"
Finally. She could feel the dagger's curved bone hilt fit right into her palm.
She bit her lip, and as quickly as the pain in her right arm would allow raised the somewhat shaking blade towards her captive right hand.
A quick scraping slice...It shouldn't even hurt.
In fact, it didn't. The blade slid on the slimy surface, not leaving as much as a mark. She tried twice more to no avail. A cursory stab left no mark either.
Only now have things gone truly bad.
Goddess, how did I forget...
"Lolth's tits. Rhylinar, you web- I mean, you wouldn't have an enchanted silver dagger on you by chance?"
"Afraid not."
"Goddess, are you useless."
The drow necromancer felt a wave of nausea pass over her. At this rate, she'd probably have to cut off her fingers, the more the longer she waited.
Unless... fuck. I'm going to risk it. Nobody can have that much bad luck all at once. Not even me.
"Sigil of Alaunilee, let me keep my wholeness as I etched yours, shield the spark of life from the flow of unlife by a ninefold impenetrable barrier." The beast above her began to growl and shift, the touch of Burmice's body under its feet becoming uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this resulted in tugging on her poor hand stuck to its forehead. The drow, forced to partly sit up by the pull, and propping herself by her injured arm, increased in pace, reciting the words of the spell as quickly as her tongue allowed. "By the three gates of shadow I sift away your will, corpse." The growling subsided as three circular segments of the sigil began to gently steam. "By seven knots I bind your senses, your strength and your power, and tie them firmly to my will." Coagulated blood and fluid began to leak from the curly lines around the inner circumference. "My will is now yours, tool in your mistress's hands! Bow to- Ow! not literally you webknot! Uh... Release the flesh that is not yet yours!"
With a sickening plopping sound like that of offal hitting ground, her hand detached from the beast's forehead, and no longer so supported, she fell backwards.
"A breakup, huh? And here I thought after all the kissing..."
With a victorious, if a little forced smile, the drow woman heaved herself up. Her left elbow and shoulder hurt something stupid, so did her shoulders where the thing slammed into her at nearly neck level, and never mind the conspicuous lack of outer skin on the three fingers on her right - that'll at least grow back easily.
"Sit."
The beast obeyed and seated itself, its glowing eyes set at her, and tail wagging happily. Only now she did have a chance to look at it calmly and properly. The charnel pup originated by the fusion of the halfling's corpse - his arms and legs, joined together, made for the front paws of the beast - the unfortunate skeletal servant who gave rise to the creature's hind parts,a chain of sausages, two sets of smoked pork ribs, and a large, dead rat the thing must have found fuck if I know where in the house. She recognized a couple of the discarded finger bones from earlier the day poking through the 'skin' and glowing slightly, as well as other junk from a couple past projects that didn't work out and were relegated to the corner with great force.

Another bloody window to plug, because the hell it couldn't have picked the open one. I guess this makes a compelling case for cleaning the lab floors more often... Or not, actually. Pity I haven't seen the self-assembly process. Either way... by the time I get home, it'll be a hound, and Meliantra will fall on her arse because a fully grown one could eat the wyrmling corpse she had to no doubt beg her Torval buddies for as a snack. Goddess, I wish...
"Tonash to Burmice, Tonash to Burmice, it seems like a smart idea to hide that thing before everyone and their brother sees it through the holes in your fence. You know, a layman webknot's opinion."
"Goddess, you sure are determined not to let me enjoy a single peaceful moment today. Inside! ...No, not that way you webknot!"
Her new minion was a fan of athleticism and repetition - it leapt inside through the broken window, and as she could tell from the crash, probably landed on the table.
"Now, stay! Stay! And now, let's get this business over with so that you'll take that idiotic grin of yours somewhere fucking else."
She began to patch up her injuries as she spoke, regrowing the skin on her fingers first, then using the fixed hand to pull up the sleeve of her dress and do something about the elbow. Even touching was bad enough to make her squirm, but once the palm was cusping it, she closed her eyes and focused on the ligaments inside, pumping in a soothing flow of negative energy. A minute or so later, the pain was gone, and despite some swelling still left behind, and a tense feeling when she bent it, the arm was working well again.

"Allright, now where did I leave my knife? Eh, like I need to ask."

"It's a surprisingly not-bad piece." Propped against the wall, though at a healthy distance from the window, Rhylinar has managed to borrow her dagger, and now ran his finger across the blade. "Which means it doesn't need such a fat bevel. The blade can take it, Burmy, it'd cut better with- ow!"
The blade flew out of his hands, leaving a small gash on his thumb. "Nobody asked you for an opinion, webknot."
Rhylinar licked his finger, grinning. "Doesn't that make for half the fun?" He effortlessly dodged a rock flying his way, and deflecting from the facade. "Feeling under the weather, Burmy? Last month at this point, I had to dodge a curse."
"Oh, shut up or I'll conjure up something you can't dodge. Goddess, how come no one’s killed you yet?" Burmice rolled her eyes. The worst part about it was how close to the point the cheery bastard was - up to now the day has been going on pretty awfully, and in all honesty, the week wasn't much better. Or the month? There were a couple high points along the way, things were slowly settling down to a comfortable routine, and ultimately, she had to admit she sort of enjoyed working with meat, especially when most of the boring and strenuous tasks were done by her unliving minions.

Still... she couldn't quite chase off thinking whether it's been worth it. After all, simply being in the same town as Gel'thrael hasn't solved any problems, her economic situation was somewhat strenuous, though orders were picking up as the word of the surprisingly fresh and tasty meat being sold at the edge of East Castleton. Never mind, she distinctly missed days filled with plots, gossip and drinks (Well, she still had drinks as wine was cheap, but without company it wasn't the same) sparsely interrupted by someone bothering her about their need for an undead servant, or, even more sparsely, by her own spellcrafting. Goddess. The boring, lonely days in the city had led her to try and get on top of her craft again, and Lolth damn it, have things moved on from when she last taught apprentices, even among the would-be mages of the surface.

Ah well. Leaving wasn't an option - her post up here was official, if self-serving, and besides, if there was one thing she completely wasn't looking towards, it was a repeat of her journey from Chel to Onach to Fuckknowwhereston and Goddessreallyville to Castleton. Far too much like a reliving of the Sleepers' March, just with less death and more frustration. Well, it did a small wonder for her figure, to be honest, but not like it mattered under a mail-coat, and once settled, she quickly returned to her usual self anyways.

"Well, it wasn't for lack of trying." The good-for-nothing webknot's voice brought her back to matters at hand.
At least, the final rabbit was done for - she cut off the hind legs, leaving them to hang from the branch, shoved the last carcass into the bowl, then shoved it at Rhylinar.
"See, that's the problem. They tried, rather than, you know, just doing it. Anyhow, here's the last one, you webknot, now let's bloody get the accounts settled so I can have you out of my hair."

***

A while later, the pair was standing around the large cutting table in the kitchen. The necromancer wrapped each of the rabbits in a vinegar-soaked cloth, tied them up with string, then stuffed them into a twenty-pound flour sack. The stingingly sour fluid was hardly a common thing down below, usually only getting there by way of surface-import pickled delicacies. Even then, most drow affluent or important enough to have tasted any wouldn't have guessed the sourness to be due to a preserving agent, rather than simply fermentation like in some underdark fares. However, while it couldn't match her beloved lemons in kitchen experimentation, Burmice learned to love its sanitizing uses and the omnipresent small keg of apple cider vinegar (along with judicious use of the gentle repose ritual) certainly had a role in her little shop's growing good name.

Rhylinar, as was his usual, leaned on a table near the door, throwing glances around the room and once again, stuffing his mouth with something no doubt not his own.
"Alright. That will be... four dralel and twelve silvers, what is it, four silvers short of eight crowns? The scraps ended up... well, you seen it, so if she really needs them, you'll have to, sad to say, show up tomorrow evening."
The rogue smirked.
"My, my, are those hares solid gold, or what?"
The necromancer glared at him.
"Don't piss me off, Rhylinar. Eighteen silvers is a fair price for hares as big as these - if I went by the pound, I'd probably earn even more, but I can't be arsed and your brother is my long-standing business associate anyways. As for the four silvers over... you were chewing on those moments ago, you webknot."
"Oh thank you for letting me partake in such a lavish meal." the rogue said in a mocking tone. "Seriously, four silvers for two sausages, that beats the King's Inn."
"You know, Rhylinar, I'm not as dumb as you think yourself clever. We both know that the two are just what I've seen of you, and-"
*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*
The necromancer's business talk was rather rudely interrupted by a rather forceful knock on the door.
"I didn't know you invited guests?" At least on the surface, the rogue was still cheery and irritating, but she knew him enough to notice telltale signs of him getting ready for shit to hit the drain.
"Webbed pits, I didn't either. Now, take the fucking sack, and pretend to be the customer you are, you webknot. You'll bring me the money tomorrow."
Hastily, she took out a small hand mirror and checked her disguise. "Berenice Ackermann" - her half-elven alter ego had the same oval face with a sharp nose and a hint of a second chin, the same lidless left eye clutched by a loop of scar tissue, and the same slightly shaggy shoulder-long hair set to order by a headband, just with a pinkish, green and chestnut respective hues instead of the more usual grey-blue, red and white. Except of course, for the glob of mud and Goddess knows what sitting above her left ear. In a flash of recollection, she reached for the back of her head only to prod a chunk of caked filth.
"You spiderarse! Why didn't you tell me?!" Another bang on the door denied Rhylinar the chance at a witty comeback. "Never mind." Thankfully, quick and efficient cleaning was one of the many uses of prestidigitation, and with but a small buzz from the ring, the debris in her hair and the back of her dress.
"Can't you see I'm closed for business? For the sake of... I'm coming!" she shouted in the direction of the ingress and trotted off towards the source of the disruption.
She opened the door.
"Good day to you! I see you are in dire need of our revolutionary anti-"
*SLAM*
Goddess. Door-to-door salesmen were an incredibly irritating part of surface life - an unimportant wretch who'd bother a citizen of Chel'issera or Ezzebek in their own home would quickly find themselves making their sales pitch to the Goddess in person - in fact, this almost happened to the first specimen she had met, when he mistook her surprise and consternation for lack of resistance and spilled a bag of filth on her floor to demonstrate his miraculous cleaning device. The necromancer turned around, and with a sigh, stepped...
*click*
The door opened, and the salesman, a fine specimen of the breed with a big mouth, short, curly auburn hair and a vertically challenged build, slid into the house before she could turn around.
"As you can clearly see, Ma'am, the safety measures employed in your house are woefully inadequate, but for just nine silvers, our revolutionary device would...."
"Get the fuck out!" She attempted to grab the wretch by his collar, but he artfully dodged and continued his pitch on the other side of her.
"...make such concerns a thing of the past! Observe! A simple device attached to the door frame..."
The salesman dug up a small, metallic-looking lozenge from his pocket just in time to parry another attempt at being grabbed with the same grace a toreador dodges a raging bull. From the kitchen doorway, Rhylinar's chuckle reached the pissed off necromancer's ears, enraging her even further.
"...sturdies the frame and prevents entry by unauthorized persons. Observe!" Waltzing around her, the salesman slapped a lozenge near the shop's ingress.
"And now you can see that..."
*BZAP!*
Burmice reached for the device with full intent of having it make rapid contact with the salesman's skull - however, the small box reacted with a surprisingly potent electric shock that forced her to rest against the wall, knees and hands shaking and teeth clicking.
"Ah, yes. Our newest feature, the anti-tampering system! Prevents damage to the device by unauthorized persons. Oh, and our premium version acts as a door bell, for the same price! So, how many pieces shall I write you down for?"

The traits of a successful door to door salesman often include the inability to process that "no" means "no" - a trait also endemic among street preachers and a certain type of men looking for a date. Unfortunately, the co-morbidity of this particular affliction tends to be the inability to recognize when "no" means "I'm trying very hard not to kill you yet.".
The electrified necromancer spoke in a manner that would have snowflakes forming in front of her mouth had the room been more humid.
"Does your gadget also work against the undead?"
Rhylinar suddenly decided that the corner near the counter would make for a far better vantage point.
"Unfortunately, no, ma'am but we offer a convenient upgrade that does for the bargain price of just..."
"Unfortunately. Iblith, shred!"
*SNARL* *CRASH*
The charnel puppy proved to have an intuitive understanding of the command as it left the tub of greasy water be, and flew in from the kitchen and over the counter, taking with it Burmice's scales, knives and assorted merchandise.
"four silvers nine co-"
The charnel hound's so-called teeth, if re-purposed ribs could be called so by any metric, crunched mere inches from his rear region. With an ear-piercing screech, he practically flew out of the house and onto the thankfully fairly empty street, closely tailed by the hound.

"Teehee... seen that, Rhy? You know, I'm almost glad you're such an annoying webknot - without you I-"
"Hmm. Don't you think it's a bad idea to leave it wander the streets alone in pursuit of some random moron?"
The gap between the runners was slowly increasing in size - the hound was small, and despite the tirelessness and other inherent advantages its species had, the salesman was no doubt trained by many such encounters. The fact that it was daytime, though a bit cloudy, didn't add to its shape either.
Still watching the scene, Burmice nodded and licked her lips.
"Meh. It's a lost chase anyway, kind of a pity. I'll let it go on for a bit, then just will it to stop and return like...like..." The necromancer froze mid-sentence, her already pale human-coloured face becoming even more so.
"What? I thought it was trained?" With the creature gone, Rhylinar leaned against the wall and a shit-eating grin spread on his face.
"You webknot! Lolth's tits...fuck..shit.."
The necromancer rushed out of her shop like a beggar after a golden crown.
Apparently discharged, the lozenge reacted with a mere beep.

***

"By the three gates and *uff* seven knots of the *uff* sigil, my will... *huff* *uff* ...will is yours, corpse! Heel!"
As much as the gap between the fast-legged salesman and the charnel puppy grew, it was nothing compared to the one by which it led the chase ahead of its owner, despite her best efforts. The street opened into a wider, and unfortunately, somewhat more populous road. The rabble - couple builders, seasonal workers and the like generally bowed out of the way and looked on, while a farmer it passed next to actually dropped the sack he was carrying and checked his boot soles.
"By the *uff* sigil of *ufff* Alaunilee...stupid webknot!" Sweat stinging in her bad eye, her lungs burning, vicious stabbing pain in her side, and her throat hoarse from letting through gallons of air, the necromancer gave up the chase and plopped herself on a sidewalk stone.
"Goddess."
"Any trouble, ma'am?"
Some passersby with not enough to do decided to poke his nose into her problems.
"Not your problem, dumbass. Care for yourself."
"Bitch." the builder spat on the ground and strutted off. Burmice ground her teeth. Normally, she'd have left him rolling on the floor in pain for such insolence, but then, normally, her respiratory system wasn't trying to kill her.
She wheezed into her palms for a while, then lifted her head to watch the chase. The two were smidges near the end of the street. Suddenly, the leading smidge disappeared, perhaps managing to hide off somewhere.
The one behind moved forth for a while, then appeared to stood still.
Burmice blinked, with the one eye that could.
The hound a few hundred meters ahead of her was still in front of some building or another. It didn't take long for her to add things up. Its prey was gone; she had a chance to assert control again. However, if she let it be for long enough, it'd probably attempt to incorporate a passersby or five, which would attract attention... and in her circumstances, suspicion is all she'd need to feel the blade of justice at her throat.
With a sigh, she heaved herself up, and despite the intense complaints of her exhausted body, set forth towards the beast at a brisk walking pace.

***

Goddess. Just a couple feet more... at least the webknot seems stuck.
Burmice slowed down as she neared, letting herself wind down and think of the best approach. She'd need to reassert control from afar, which was slightly harder, though the sigil already in its forehead was still a help. If, of course, it was still in place - though she'd see that much.

A dozen paces ahead. The sigil was still there. The hound sat on the bones making up its hind legs, and whined at the house in its front. Burmice noticed a worn, but still passable copper sign of Pelor pressed into the facade, which at least solved the mystery - when the spider saddle salesman hid somewhere within, the holy mark prevented the still rather young undead from entering.

"A disobedient one, are we? Thought you can flee from your mistress like that, huh? By the power of Lolth, heel!"
The beast snarled at her, then set on its feet again, taking a step towards her.
"Oh, aren't we a stubborn one? By the sigil of Alaunilee, by the pronouncement of high priestess Caliphrae, by the seven-layered sign of binding..." She took out a small piece of chalk and without looking, sketched a sigil on the wall. "...I bind you, unliving flesh, to my solemn will. Your strength..."
The sign on the beast's forehead began to leak, and it yowled.
"...shall serve mine, for delegated mine is dominion over all flesh and blood. Burn, incensed flame!" She tossed forth a pinch of dry herbs which caught fire upon contact with the hound, which yowled, then turned to run.
"Burn away its wilfulness, envelop the beast's mind and leave it supple under my will! Oh just run! Run away you webknot! You won't run far enough, anyway."
A contented smile spread on the necromancer's face. All the pain, exertion and anger of the... well, the last twenty minutes or so, has finally come to yield something, even though it only got her back to the start. Well, not quite - with this binding ritual, the corpse would not yank out from her control again. The necromancer began to giggle, watching the fleeing charnel houndling, and raised her hands to finalize the ritual.

The laughter died out in her throat.

***
It was one of those days.
Judges' day was still a good while in the future, but Commander Ashmore was keen on dealing with as many of the stale cases the year has brought so far as could be before it came about. Besides, the upcoming county faire and the related increase of traffic into the city has made for a somewhat busier patrol schedule, which certainly has not passed Junior Inquisitor Carthan and Inquisitor-Archivist Steelsprocket by.
"Tiamat's three arses, Flint, I'm thirsty like a dervish's goat. What do you say about going down bloody Carter and Appletree lane, then bowing off to Cask and Barrel for a couple?"
The short, bearded inquisitor spat on a nearby wall then wiped his moustache into the sleeve of his grey uniform robe. The taller and shaven one adjusted his hat, then turned towards his friend, grinning.
"I'd keep to one pint, but you know what Ashmore said. 'Be thorough, and always look into the bottom of things.'"
"A bloody cask is a thing, right?"
"Damn right!"
"And most bloody messes these days start in pubs, or around them at any rate."
"Yep! I mean who in their right mind would fuck about 'round these parts, in plain daylight... Choo!" The hatted inquisitor sneezed, then blew his nose on the ground.
"Eh. I seen dumber shit happen, Flint. Besides, who says they aren't fucked in the head? Hey! You with that squashed face! I'll give you five crowns if that shop's yours, otherwise get the fuck out and about! Loitering is forbidden!"
"You heard him, wanker!"
The half-orc groaned menacingly, but the sight of two inquisitors made him reconsider starting anything, and he set out on his way.
"Fucker. If things were going my way, I'd arrest his like offhand, and in a week, crime would bloody drop down half."
The taller inquisitor grabbed his colleague's shoulder and steered. "Hah, watch where ya going! It's 'round the corner!"
"Bloody hell, I'd-"
The next thing he saw was the former arse of a halfling snarling at him with rib-teeth and glowing yellow eyes.

***

Fuck my life.
The worst thing that could happen... no. The worst thing that couldn't happen happened anyway, and Burmice stared face to face with a pair of inquisitors standing perchance a hundred fifty feet from her. Fortunately, they were rather busy with the puppy to notice.
Goddess. No telling what else I'll end up calling fortunate by the time this bloody day ends.
She gave up on the spell and began to feverishly think up a way to minimize consequences. Getting the hell out of there was an appealing strategy, but out of the dozen or so bystanders, someone would likely point the pair of nosey webknots uncomfortably close. Add to it that half of its body mass was made in her shop... She swore at herself for rushing out into the street in her usual disguise, then forced the headband to make a number of alterations to her form. And now, to stand and watch, like a good rubbernecking citizen.

***

"Malcanthet's winged cunt! In the holy name of Saint Cuthbert, I compel you, creature, get the fuck off me!"
The short inquisitor's palms crackled with energy as he grabbed the beast's forelegs that pinned his shoulders to the ground. The undead flesh withered under his touch and the surprised beast let out a growl and backtracked.
He rolled out from under it, and attempted to get on his feet.
Attempted. The beast pounced again and bit into his shoulder, sweeping him off his feet as it yanked back and forth. Miron's stomach turned from the smell and pain, the former perhaps worse than the later.
"Let. him. go!" Flint's foot slammed into the beast's side. "The fuck is this, Miron?"
The creature in question changed priorities and went after its assailant, who fed it a length of his rapier. A rather short length - the surprised inquisitor found the tip barely piercing the rotting flesh.
"Damn it! Tougher than yesterday's beef, the bastard." He blocked another snarling assault, this time with the blade of his parrying dagger.
The second inquisitor finally managed to get up.
"Sounds awful lot like a damn charnel hound. Those things are tough as fuck...but a proper one's the size of a damn house." With his mace in hand, he swung from behind his taller friend, producing a loud crack as the business end connected with the beast's forehead. It didn't seem particularly shaken, as it recoiled and immediately swiped at him with the sharp, curved bones protruding from its forelegs.
"I don't suppose you got any silverware about, Flint?"
"Nope." He bowed out sideways as the beast lunged after him, then struck at its side. His blade chopped through a section of sausage merging with the bones of its back, causing its tail and a portion of its hind quarters to slough off and fall to the ground.
"Fuck." The inquisitor struck again - this time, the beast's riposte left a gash on his forearm. "Fucking pile of runabout rotten shit. Step aside, Flint! Saint Cuthbert, you on whose ears every transgression reaches, grant me the voice of the Cudgel that Never Forgets!"
The charnel hound began to dance about erratically, biting and swiping at air as a thousand shrill voices filled its ears with dissonant accounts of crimes past and present, rending its simple mind with their calls for justice.
"Flint! See if we can snap it!"
Wounded or not, the short inquisitor grabbed his mace in both hands and slammed the now bare place where the remains of the skeleton joined what was left of the halfling. Despite their unnatural toughness, the bones pulverized under the impact, leaving the beast's body joined only by a couple strands of musculature.
The beast wisened up, left the voices be and made another vicious swipe at Miron, turning its back to the other inquisitor in the process.
"Now!"
Truth be told, he hardly needed the prompting. As soon as he saw an opening, Flint swapped his weapons around and went in, stabbing his dagger into the spot previously hit by Miron's mace and yanking its handle downwards. The blade turned around its pivot, cutting and tearing the tough, but not exactly plentiful tissue with a cracking noise. Before the beast could turn, the inquisitor pulled it out and repeated the motion.
With an awful creak, its rear half separated from the main body, then collapsed into a pile of bones and the occasional meat product.
Liberated from its hind parts, the front lunged at the target ahead. The short inquisitor dodged, and the deformed halfling corpse landed legs up onto the dusty road. He uttered another prayer, then slammed his fist into one up-ended leg, which snapped in half.
"Worked out better than I'd guess. Now, to finish it off before it gets off its arse!"
"It doesn't have one anymore."
"True. Eh. "
Minutes later, the remainder of the beast was clobbered, cut, and stabbed until it stopped moving, and a few drops of holy water made that sentence definite."
"You know, that kinda looks like it used to be an arse."
"Hah, see? I was damn right about it! And now-"
"Thinking cleanup?"
"Hmm. On one hand, the holy water made this the least likely to cause trouble corpse in all of Castleton. The other... well, look at the shit. The front looks like a corpse.. think I can see a head. Might help figuring out where it came from... but then, not even a necromancer could figure out much from bones that were used like this."
"I think I know the deal! We can prob'ly tell all we can here, anyhow, and then off to the pub and fuck it."
"Good thinking, Flint! Now-"
"Did you get them back, lieutenant?"
The pair was approached by a short, dumpy peasant woman with a filthy sheepskin overcoat. Flint looked at his shoes - the hag probably thought that addressing him by the only higher rank she probably knew made for a compliment that would get her no doubt trite matter handled quicker.
"Uh, ma'am, not quite. Junior Inquisitor Flint Carthan."
"And Inquisitor Miron Steelsprocket. What's the matter, grandma?" He gave the newcomer a good look. It wasn't just the overcoat that was filthy - it was the dress, the skirt and the headscarf too. On top of that, however, there was a helping of fresh bloody and muddy imprints, and the miasma she carried was little better than that of the hound. Her face made her out to be sixty-odd, if a human, and, truth be told, hardly left him expecting much in terms of intelligent conversation.
"My sausages, lieutenant! Did you get them back?"
"What sausages? And I'm not a lieutenant."
"The ones that I bought and that bloody dog stole, lieutenant! It ran me over and darted off with them! You caught it, right?" The old woman grew agitated, gesturing wildly. "They cost twenty coppers, they did!"
"Bloody hell. Look, grandma. The thing that stole them from ya wasn't a dog, and what it left behind ain't exactly fit to stuff in yer mouth."
"Yeah.. I mean, look, there!" Flint pointed to one of the piles. The meat was greenish and clearly rotting, probably a side effect of being incorporated into the undead creature's body mass.
"Gods in the heavens. My sausages!"
"Yep. The devil's arse would make for a better lunch than that." Flint nodded. "Now, tell us... you said it jumped at you, right? Where was it?"
"Uh.. What's that street called? There! Those old houses, it jumped out of the hedges."
"Right. Good to know. Now, just for.. what's your name and-"
"But what with my sausages, lieutenant? I'm cooking cabbage, you know, and my son will-"
"But to hell with your damn sausages! I'm asking-" The younger inquisitor raised his voice in exasperation, but was soon cut off.
"You're the Leaden Mace! You're supposed to get stolen things back! Like my sausages! And calls himself an officer!"
"Pelor's horse fuck it with his glowing nine foot dick! Let's go, Flint. You're lucky I'm thirsty like an ox and on my feet for seven hours, otherwise we'd take you for a talk. Now, scram!"
The old woman gasped, showing crooked teeth, and seeing her, few would have guessed the speed with which she turned and trotted off, muttering under her breath something about terrible injustice and horrible officers.
Flint grinned, stopped for a moment, took a two-silver from his pouch and tossed it after her.
"There! From the evil officers!"
Like a lightning flash, the hag picked the coin up, bit into it, and scuttled off, but not before shouting "Thanked be heavens and you, Lieutenant! You should be a captain, you should! Commander!"
Junior Inquisitor Carthan laughed.
"Heard it Miron?"
"Yep, if she ever becomes a high commander, you're going places!"
"Hah, sure, 'cuz everyone else will hand in their badge." He rubbed what might well been her spittle off his chin. "Know what? Change of plans - we'll check out the street she mentioned, then hit the pub right away."
"I see you're getting used to your new rank, Captain Carthan."
"Damn right! I meant, 'Correct, Inquisitor!'"
"You know, that sounded a bloody lot like Lieutenant Anderson back in Jones's Rock. This lad's going places! Here, have one on me." Miron removed a small flat bottle from his belt and handed it to his friend, but not before taking a swig himself.

***

Goddess. At least I can look like a person again.
Angry, tired and disgusted, at least Burmice was home again. Well, in her backyard, but it counted. Today was an atrocity on every single scale. She lost money, she lost time, and worst of all, she lost the little charnel hound that showed so much promise. Watching those bumbling, good-for-nothing webknots take it apart was a positively painful experience, not the least when she could kill both of them with a single hand-wave. If only she could - dead inquisitors a few hundred feet from her home would lead to all manner of bad things, besides, she expected things from them having a look at that house her impromptu alter ego pointed them to.
If the two utter failures will be bothered to.
She sighed, and wiped her face with her sleeve. At least, the acting was fun, if a little demeaning. Both of the dummies lapped it up like a cat does cream.
The amusing idea of joining amateur theatre crossed her mind. After all, she's pretty, clever and a good liar, and besides, it'd give her something to do every now and then, and access to an endless source of rumours, more so than even her shop. She's heard all about the plans of one such group, when a particularly talkative member bought off practically half her stock for an anniversary of theirs, or what. Goddess, such a silly city.

With a habitual motion she unlocked the door, and stepped inside.
"Goddess, home again. And of course, that webknot's gone... Screw him. Gel will pay me later, and at least the air's clean again."
Burmice took a deep breath, then took off her headband, which dismissed the magic disguising her as an old hag, and untied the sash from around her waist.
"Webbed pits, how did I get this filthy? Eh, I'll grab a bite and take a nap, then-" Through the doorway between the kitchen and the shop, she noticed the gaping front door.
"Damn!"
She darted across the room and reached for the handle.
*BZZAP*

When the thoroughly fed up necromancer picked herself from the floor and stopped shaking, the surprisingly functional lozenge crumbled under a veritable flood of magic-consuming extraplanar lifeforms.

***
There. I should have done that offhand, and with that stupid webknot. Or both of them. I'd have another corpse to feed to the charnel pup. And now... I have fuck-all. Great going, Burmy. Hmm, needs more salt... alright, what else... and some red pepper. Hmm, maybe a bit of garlic?
Burmice stepped away from the sausages, meat and onion bubbling in the skillet and into the kitchen again.
And that window needs fixing.
She walked over to one of the worktables near the stove at the northern end of the room, got on her knees, and without so much as a glance, reached into the half-open ornate cupboard below, the habitual location of the box of ground red pepper.
Instead, her hand ran into something soft and fuzzy.
Burmice screamed.

Well, ordinarily, she probably would as unknown lifeforms in one's dwelling were among the least pleasant discoveries one could make in the underdark, second only to discovering unknown bladed instruments in one's vital organs.
The fact that she was exhausted, however, dulled her reaction time enough that by the time her body figured out she should, her mind lost all reason to. Instead, she drew back her hand, and with her left crackling with little black bolts of negative energy, opened the cupboard fully to have a look at the intruder before getting rid of it.
The intruder stared at her with a wide-eyed stare she was all too familiar with.
It was the feline thief from the morning again - the same fuzzy coat, bits of dry pus in the corners of its eyes, missing ear half, and the same murderous expression. What was more, the tips of the cat's ears and whiskers were somewhat singed, and parts of its fur were still standing on end.
"The door got you too?"
Burmice sighed, and slowly, a grin spread on her face.
"Goddess, I guess I'm not the only one whose day was awful. Right?"
She let the charge dissipate and reached out towards the cat's back. It rewarded her with another hiss and raised its paw menacingly.
"Aww, you want to kill me, do you?"
She kept her hand in place and probingly ran it across a small bit of the little fuzzy intruder's spine. The growling subsided.
"See? I wanted to do the same to you this morning and it passed too."
The cat's face showed a smidge less mistrust, and a couple careful pettings later, began to purr.
Probingly.

Burmice smiled. The fur, though far coarser and filthier, brought memories of her first years in Chel, the visits from LiNeer, Gel'thrael's feline familiar, usually attempting to steal the rats she bred for experimenting, and indeed, the occasional, er, friendly physical contact between the two of them (though neither would ever admit it to Gel).
"Know what? I juust might let you stay with aunt Burmice. What do you think? I know what, I should find you something for..."
She froze, and sniffed the air for a moment.
"Dinner. Fuck."
The necromancer darted out from underneath the cupboard, and so did a terrified cat.
But, when Burmice turned from the stove to grab a plate done saving what could be saved of her half-burnt meal, the cat sat a few feet from her, quietly observing with a serene, knowing look.
It was just a look though.


***
The taller of the two inquisitors blew his nose on the ground again.
"Something getting over you, Flint? You're doing the sawmill salute every fifty paces."
"Nah, nothing that some grog won't solve once we're done here. Must be the morning cold... and that beast's breath in my face didn't help either."
"Yeah. A cow's arse smells like lavender and thyme compared to that."
"Have you tried both?"
The shorter of the two inquisitors laughed, and turned his sight away from a bunch of kids probably up to no good.
"I bloody wish I could say no. Still, Malcanthet's winged cunt, a young charnel hound's a damn rare sight these days, praise Saint Cuthbert for that."
This time it was Flint who stopped in his tracks, running fingers along his forehead.
"You know, Miron..."
"What?"
"It bugs me. Should have grabbed that woman for a talk at the station. Was this smell of death around her, even with my nose being as it is..."
"If a charnel hound knocked you over and stole your sausages, you'd smell of death too."
"Nah, it was different. Plus, there was something about her manner.. Call it a hunch, I guess."
Miron laughed.
"And they say I'm the paranoid one. I mean, Flint I could probably build a better case for her being a drow than a corpsebotherer - for one she had a pretty distinct Kaduan accent, and that's where a lot of spiderfuckers swarm from these days. Never mind the classic squint. But, what are the odds?"
The two stared at each other for a moment, then shook their heads in unison, as if trying to shake out an uncomfortable idea and laughed.
"Yeah, I suppose. Speaking of squints, we should go see Squinting Pete's wares. Landon's birthday tomorrow!"
"Good thinking. Let's go... but not before Cask and Barrel!"
Last edited by VAE on Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby VAE » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:26 am

What didn't fit in the first message:

Hmm, I'm not the best known person here, but anyhow, here's a hopefully short enough short story that I finally finished off early this year. Since it has to do with drow, I guessed it might not be entirely out of question to post it here. So, hopefully, enjoy, and please comment, even if it's only to curse at my ineptitude (believe me, I'm used to that sort of a writing enviroment).




Notes:
webknot - common drow swearword in the setting ,refers to the empty husks of large insects left behind in spider webs and harvested by anyone poor enough not to mind the risk of getting eaten. Webknot soup is the cheapest street food you can get
dralel - counting unit, amounting to 16. Comes from an old base-eight counting system still used in Lolthian liturgy.
spiderarse - orbbassarath another common swearword, needs no explanation
house Torval - a house resident in the Sleepers' March, raises dragons among other things
house Lazrien - Nicknamed weavers due to an unfortunate interpretation of their house's insignia, an arcane house, mostly exterminated after the fall of Ezzebek. Burmice is one of them.
Nux - standard activation word for a lot of magic items. From xun - do, accomplish.

For reference, most characters are mine, the setting, Akellon (as well as Rhylinar the rogue and Flint Carthan), the work of Liatai, a friend of mine. (though a lot of it's been a collaborative effort by our whole DnD group)
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby ThatGuyThisGuy » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:15 pm

This is interesting.
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby VAE » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:20 pm

ThatGuyThisGuy wrote:This is interesting.


Anything you specially liked?

Also, sorry for the possibly bad English in it, I'm very much not a native speaker.
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby ThatGuyThisGuy » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:51 pm

VAE wrote:
ThatGuyThisGuy wrote:This is interesting.


Anything you specially liked?

Also, sorry for the possibly bad English in it, I'm very much not a native speaker.


The set up was fairly creative and the characters and their interactions where okay. Although i am bit uncertain as whether there supposed to be examples of general cultural characteristics or individual quirks as from what i am getting this is heavily influenced by traditional dnd settings and a little bit of drowtales, but doesn't take place in an official dnd setting where i can check up to find out the various details about and see whether something is an accurate representation there of so i can't really tell much in regard to this. Also all of the non main characters are quite flat and uninteresting. The Events of the story made a fair bit of sense and where amusing but not especially entertaining or memorable in anyway. Overall all it was good but not anything to special.
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby VAE » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:16 pm

ThatGuyThisGuy wrote:
VAE wrote:
ThatGuyThisGuy wrote:This is interesting.


Anything you specially liked?

Also, sorry for the possibly bad English in it, I'm very much not a native speaker.


The set up was fairly creative and the characters and their interactions where okay. Although i am bit uncertain as whether there supposed to be examples of general cultural characteristics or individual quirks as from what i am getting this is heavily influenced by traditional dnd settings and a little bit of drowtales, but doesn't take place in an official dnd setting where i can check up to find out the various details about and see whether something is an accurate representation there of so i can't really tell much in regard to this.


Hmm. Good to hear on the first bit. And yes, this is a homebrew DnD setting, and in fact, most of the characters showing up were at some point PCs or NPCs somewhere there. Except for the poor salesman. Regardless, I'd bet on individual quirks more, given the character cast.



Also all of the non main characters are quite flat and uninteresting. The Events of the story made a fair bit of sense and where amusing but not especially entertaining or memorable in anyway. Overall all it was good but not anything to special.

*nod*

That's quite useful observation in the first bit - given that the other folks who have read this are quite familiar with the non-main characters there, the bar to go over was a lot lower in order to make them work than with a reader who doesn't know them. Guess I'll need to deal with that.

And yeah, this was meant to be more an amusing tale than anything particularly deep or thoughtful, filling a small hole in the particular continuity. (The cat that befriended her then got badly injured months later, and she made her into an undead familiar.)

Thank you for the feedback!
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Re: Storytime with VAE, maybe

Postby VAE » Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:22 am

Another tidbit, set about a year later.
------
Like most substances, blood does have its appropriate setting. As much as its presence in, say, a fancy dining salon would be a decent setting scene for a mystery, in a butcher's shop, it is if not expected, at least unsurprising.

As such, Burmice's reaction was hardly different when she entered her shop, pleasantly exhausted after rehearsal of Three Steps up the Ladder (the role of the duke's scheming plenipotentiary might as well have been written for her) , only to happen to a shallow pool of it, with small, filthy feline footsteps leading away.

"Liothe's tits, Muri, what did you catch this time. I swear if I catch you eating it in my bed once again i'll hang you by the tail from the sausage rack." she cursed, but a small prideful smile crept upon her face all the same. After all, for all her faults, the cat was an impressive hunter, and lately increasingly prone to bringing her prey home to show.

Her gaze tracked the footprints, which carried on through the door to the living room, but instead of ending on the sofa as she had expected, they disappeared into her wardrobe, its right door slightly ajar.
"Oh, you little wretch."
Burmice rolled her eyes, and set off towards the closet at a brisk pace, her mind filled with the vision of an afternoon spent cleaning whatever clothes the webknot managed to soil.
She flipped the door open with a single forceful motion and threw off a handful of blood-stained clothes piled up at the bottom, and reach for the cat.
"Here you... Goddess."
Burmice's hand touched the cat's fur, matted and sticky with blood and kept there, while her mind finally began to grasp what had happened.
Iymmur'ss was barely alive - touching her, she could feel the accelerated, erratic breathing that came as a result of shock. Her pawpads were a lot colder than usual, and her eyes stared out, open, third eyelid drawn halfway across.

Muri, you stupid, stupid little... Goddess. Whoever did this I'll strangle her with her own guts, then do something her soul will remember while rotting in the filthiest demonweb. Fuck... I don't know, and I can't... Liothe's tits. Why does *everything* bloody go to the pits the moment I...

She kneeled, both hands gently set on the dying cat's fur, beset by an odd feeling of loss. By all rights, she shouldn't care - the vicinity of her shop hosted more than a few cats, and she'd be easily able to simply teach another one of them indoor.

But, she wouldn't be Muri. It was close to a year that the large, wild-looking tabby first appeared in her kitchen, courtesy of the broken window left by a burglar. Brought together by common misfortune involving Gel'thrael's webknot of a brother and an idiotic door-to-door salesman, the two had grown closer over time, the cat acted as her eyes, ears and a comfortable purring heatpack one could talk to. It was silly but Burmice became largely convinced the not so little feline could understand what she told her of her ambitions, plans and plots when the twenty-five words to Mal'ril twice a day limit of the sending stone was well and truly exhausted.

And now she was slipping away, perhaps the only thing her entire misadventure on the surface had brought so far, asides from a shop where she served lowborn surface scum for measly returns even after defrauding the crown of as much as she could, endless troubles in obtaining materials for her research, isolation, and all kinds of bother overall. There was little to be done - she was no cleric to heal with her powers, My bitch of a sister would. Fuck you, Phyrlara, and fuck our mother. Eh, you probably did. her house held no such potions either, and raising an empty husk of her companion, with an enchanted chunk of rock filling in the hole after a soul departed would be adding insult to injury.

Hole after a soul.

Her memory slipped back to an article in rather ancient proceeds of the Kaduan Necromantic Society. It spoke about the relative informational complexity of souls and its practical implications, specifically going through the process of binding a canine soul to a modified human skeleton to produce a creature especially suited to stalking, capturing and delivering individuals. At the time, it was frustratingly irrelevant... and now the frustrating part was her having skimmed the contents before slamming the journal shut and going off to grab a snack. On top of that, she plain out didn't have a soul jar ready, and the ritual would take far longer than her cat would live.

No. Doesn't matter. You aren't the best damn necromancer in Chel and the niece of Aun'isstra of Lazrien for nothing. Besides, Liothe blesses the strong.

Her mind spun into gear - the kind of focus you obtain when failure is no longer an issue because you can hardly make things worse. She stood up, looked at a somewhat dirty kitchen knife from a half-forgotten dinnerplate and with a single word, made it fly to her hand.

No, that won't do.

Over the years, her skin was made far too resilient to pierce with a simple blade. She would need some help. It had to be somewhere...there. She stepped towards the library, and brushed asides the books from the second shelf to reveal a host of bottles, vials and flagons. She picked up a dust-covered clear flask, lifted the glass plug, and dipped the tip of the knife into the holy water within, but not before wiping it into her dress. She held her breath, and dragged the tip across the first ridge of her left index finger.

"Orbbassarath." There was a sizzle as the edge bit into her skin and flesh, a momentary intense burning followed by numbness to half her palm, and moments later, the wound welled with thick, vividly red blood.

Burmice stood up and shook her left hand, attempting to get some feeling back into it as she stepped back to the wardrobe, realizing slightly too late that this also spread droplets of her blood all over the room.

"Fuck." And this was the more pleasant part. Screw it. I need to grab Gel by his filthy neck and shake him until he gets me a soul jar. Maybe literally.
She bent down once again, slid her hand under the cat, and lifted her up into her arms. She couldn't feel much of a breath anymore, but she wasn't going hard, either.

Goddess, let it not... eh. She's probably pretty amused by what I'm trying to do for a stupid cat. She gently touched the cat's eyeball. The pupil contracted. Good. The necromancer brought her still bleeding finger into contact with one of her companion's wounds, uttered an incantation, and then, for the first time without any joy or satisfaction to it in her nearly two centuries, snuffed out her life.

Changing from body to body is a stressful experience at the best of times. Changing to a body of incompatible make is worse, doing all of it on the verge of death even more so, and having to share the new body with who you can't but perceive as your killer gets ridiculously confusing. With desperate resolve, the cat wrested control from the unexpecting witch, and tried to do what scared cats do best - dash away.

*Crash*

Letting out an inarticulate shriek, their body half-jumped, half-fell forwards into the wardrobe, the wildly and uselessly swinging hands tossing the cat husk down into its path and contributing to the mayhem. Once in, Iymmur'ss attempted to turn around, upsetting the necromancer's back and hitting the wardrobe's door with her knee.

ENOUGH

Much like water seeping into cracks in a rock, then shattering it by freezing over and filling the void, Burmice's essence forced itself back into her mind, then ripped the terrified cat away from the interface. Just in time to have a share in experiencing all the pain her physical body had accrued in the few brief moments. The momentary loss of concentration was all that the cat spirit needed to attempt to seize the reins again, but this time, Burmice was smarter.

You will not. The rules of the game became apparent. As long as Burmice hasn't turned her metaphoric, ethereal back, she could keep in control of her body easily. However, slipping meant...

She forcefully seized the control of her right hand, picked up Iymmur'ss's remains, and stepped through the kitchen to the main workroom, pushing asides a butcher's block and laying the cadaver onto the greasy table underneath. From a pouch underneath her sash, she dug out a short pencil, sharpened it, and began to scribble on the filthy surface.

Calculating Quates transforms was something the necromancer could probably do in her sleep - after all, her long career has led to her assembling a host of shortcuts and workarounds that made the process simpler. However, it is one thing to calculate ritual coefficients seated comfortably near a warm fireplace, drinking tea and pecking from a sack of candied purple mushrooms, and quite another standing hurt, angry, hungry and exhausted, scribbling around bloodstains and trying to keep the spirit of a terrified beast from stealing your body. In the end, she had to recalculate twice - once because of messing up the arithmetic, and once because the cat seized control of her hand unexpectedly, wiping her work with her own sleeve by accident.

Finally, it was done. She drew a circle with chalk, set candles at five equidistant points, measured the the precise amount of tallow, mushroom spores, ground quartz and finely chopped spidersilk, and finally, grabbed a round-ish shard of onyx the size of an unshelled large hazelnut, and jammed it into the corpse's nasopharynx.

It was time. She grabbed her mortar and pestle and mashed the components into a fine paste. She carefully weighed out what came down to about half the oddly sweet-smelling brownish substance and rubbed it into the late feline's fur, passing over each and every laceration, then mixed the rest with a dash more grease. At a single word's command (again, courtesy of her ring), a quill with mottled feathers of unrecognizable original colour flew into her palm. Hands slightly trembling, and cheeks burning with excitement, Burmice of Lazrien, magistra arcanae, began inscribing numbers and symbols representing the boundary conditions of the planar breach she was about to create inside the circle, dictating the intensity and variation for the flow of energy to and from the corpse (so as to match it with the thaumaturgic impedance of the flesh as it changed with time), all to ensure a thorough and complete transmogrification. There was beauty in power, and the power to manipulate death and decay itself through sheer ingenuity, reflected in every line, every column, every sigil (if read by someone who understood) of the work was something she wouldn't give up for all the riches of Tonash.

The time came for the final stroke. A design within a design, reforging the very physical form of the onyx to something that would accept her companion's soul. Here came the catch - she hadn't done this before, and didn't remember the procedure. Just as well. A dog is not a cat, anyway, and I have everything at hand to work it out. Even the soul.
She uttered an incantation and closed her eyes, delving inwards, and taking a measure of the feline essence within her. What remained of the cat was concentrated at the boundary of their body's astral presence, exuding fear, confusion and discomfort. Little wonder, too - time passes differently when one has no brain to call upon, and trauma can lead to falling apart with the world's rhythm further. She briefly gave thought to trying to calm the spirit, but rejected the idea. For one, she had never dealt with them other than by force, and besides, the sooner the ritual was over, the better for everyone involved. It will be better. I promise.
With a clear idea of the shape and intensity of what mattered in her companion, she began to work. Swirls, spirals and sigils describing the shape of the interfaces needed to replace her by now useless brain appeared on the wooden surface, one by one.

No. Wait, A cat's eye needs added filtering because...

A small error crept into her work. She noticed, erased it with the feathers, and began to think about the new shape...
The feline spirit seized control of her upper body. The wrong way, too. The world slowed down. She could see her erratically moving arms attempting to pounce off the table, threatening to smear everything she had spent the last hour creating.

Shit. She flung herself backwards, hoping her carefully improved physical shell would easily take the brunt of anything that might lie behind, on the messy shop floor, and tried to wrest back the control of her body. Once again, she enveloped it and pulled. The impact came, loosening the cat's focus, and she succeeded... only to feel a wave of power slam into her, almost dislodging her. Goddess. How the fuck does a cat own myself better than, well, me.

Burmice forced herself to her feet, the back of her head throbbing from hitting a bucket on the way. There was no time to lose. She finished the last few glyphs - Goddess damn it, it has to work as it is - lit the candles, and poured power from her own link with the negative plane into the schematic.

Two things happened simultaneously. The outer designs began to discolour and blacken, releasing acrid smoke while the corpse dried, withered and swelled again as waves of energy ebbed and flowed through it. Soon afterwards, the inner design melted and the room began to stink of burning flesh. The corpse's eyes lit red and the candles went out, one by one.

Now. She pushed her left hand into the circle, grabbed the dead cat's forehead, closed her eyes, and ejected her unwilling cohabitant back into her own restored body using strands of her own essence as guides.

She opened her eyes. The table ahead was clear, except for a couple burn marks and the semi-molten candles. The feline corpse in the middle looked just as dead as when she had started. However, she knew better.

I give it about.. ten seconds.

Moments later, the cat began to rise. Slow, uncoordinated movements, trying to find her footing, the blinking of clouded eyes, twisting tail...
"You need a bit of a patchup, dear, but now it's easy."
She reached forwards with her palm, a smile on her face. Her fingers and the matted fur made contact.
*Whoosh*
*Crash*
"Oh dear. Again?"
The cat dashed off, panicked at the unexpected stimulus, leapt off the table and crashed into the trough below the window.
Burmice chuckled, and two steps later, she was there. She fished the protesting cat out, brought her to her chest Eh, it's not like my dress can get any filthier tonight. and gave her a little hug, caressing her head with one hand.
"It's all fine, Muri, dear, don't be stupid. It's all done."
Done...what..my body...?
Words and concepts leaked into the necromancer's mind. Prowling for mice in the shop, a fight with another alley cat, a rat, a large dog, pain, flight, the safety of underneath a cart, someone's hand snagging her tail from behind, the face of a street urchin and laughter of his filthy friends, wire, a stick, and things Burmice refused to perceive. Alongside with a voice with somehow a strong feline accent.
"You.. you can speak now? How in the webbed pits did that happen?"
I don't know. What...
"I brought you back to life, Muri, that's what. Now stop struggling you silly webknot."
The cat stood quiet for a moment, then calmed down, ears shifting forwards and began to gently, carefully purr.
"That's right. Now, be a good kitty..."
I need to go... Once again, images of the large stray dog, and the human youth filled Burmice's mind.
"Revenge, huh? A cat after my own heart. You'll get your chance, sweetie. But now, we have some business to handle together. You and aunt Burmy."

* * *

By and large, mages, asides from the odd warmage fancying the military lifestyle or sorcerer eager to draw the power of sun itself into his spells, tend to be nightly creatures. Still, at half past midnight, Ebonwood Curiosity Shop had long closed its doors, and its proprietor, the esteemed Rusal Ebonwood himself (or Zairith of Aelanyl, or Gel'thrael of Claddani, if you so wish) had shed the half-elven appearance of his figurehead, sitting behind his oak desk and working the day's sales numbers into his books, a mug of mint tea at hand. Tedious, yes (asides from the mint tea) , but a little work day by day kept a major headache away every quarter and customers greatly appreciated the lack of "Uh, I was *sure* I had some in stock, sorry." so common in other arcane suppliers and curio stores all about the kingdom.

"Time to ressst, misssster."
He felt a gentle, somewhat cold hand slide across his cheek and the back of his head. He smiled.
"A pinch more, Lethirisss. Last page... unless you want to do the inventory yoursssself?"
"I sssee the great and powerful arcanissst isss not to be trifled with, for he repaysss with sssarcasm." She leaned closer to him, passing her thin, forked tongue across his neck and root of his pointed ear, before curling her hand across and pulling him away from the desk. Gel smiled, and in a flash, reached backwards, pulling her to himself.
"It seems the sinuous snake has fallen into the spider's snare... and once the spider seizes, he doesn't. let. go." Smiling, Zairith brought Lethiriss's face to his and....
*BANG*
*BANG*
*BANG*
...their foreheads collided with an unpleasant thunk, startling LiNeer, his one-eyed tortoiseshell familiar from her resting place on top of the mail pile..
"Who at this hour..."
In a moment, he was Rusal Ebonwood once again, and with a grim expression, his fingernails crackling with electrical dicharge, stepped towards the door to teach whatever ruffian put a dent in his pleasant evening a shocking lesson in manners.
He barely pressed the handle before the door flew ajar at another impact, revealing a familiar figure whose appearance didn't make him any happier.
"Wh-"
"Goddess. What took you so bloody long?! I need the mirror."
"What. Mirror. Have you any sense left, woman? It's past midnight and-"
"Goddess-damned scrying mirror you soup-guzzling peasant, what else."
"What in the nine hells of Baator do you need to scry on in the middle-"
"The sack of surface filth who..." The words seized in her throat for a moment. "Just look, you utter webknot."
Zairith only now took in the full state of his acquaintance. Soaked like a rag from the rain outside, her dress torn and bloody, in her true form - her disheveled hair lacked the usual enchanted headband serving as a disguise - face sallow and baggy, except for the feverish flames in her thoroughly dissimilar eyes.
Her cat, sitting on her shoulder, was a far worse sight. Wet fur, yes, but wet fur doesn't give the sickly sweet stench of her art. When he saw the clouded eyes with the echo of an otherworldly glow behind and noticed a loose patch of fur revealing flesh reformed, he understood.
"Come in. I'll have it ready in five minutes. Lethiriss, make her some tea. Do you have anything to do the trace? Cloth? Skin?"
The tortoiseshell cat crept closer to the not-so-rare visitor, giving her old foe a look like two platters (or one, to be more accurate) on a wooden desk.
"Muri knows his likeness //quite// well, and I can see it too."
The drow mage turned on his step and gave his own familiar a swift caress along her arched back.
"Damn it. I'll throw in a couple curse scrolls. Consumption works wonders in..."
"No need to, dear. What I shall do requires, after all, a very personal touch."

***

"Fucking kad." Ivar spat through the gap in his teeth once the inquisitor was well out of sight.
"And fuck this shit. Take the stuff, Tom, and we'll-"
"Fuck this shit indeed." A taller boy, his shirt somewhat less torn than Ivar's (though no less stained), took a step forwards, ostentatiously toying with his dagger. "We'll divvy up here. I'm not giving yer band a chance to fuck me over."
"And when did I fuck you over, Jonas?" If he thinks this is how a man goes about doing business, he should take his head out of his arse and his nose out of those three-copper novels. Granny said books make you stupid, and there it is. Sambel's boot, if only he wasn't the only good lockpick. Besides, he did tip them off to the house, too.
"You didn't, but we never hit on solid gold before. Lotsa fellows get itchy feet when that happens."
Ivar had to admit he wasn't completely wrong. Their old band leader would definitely have done it the moment he saw the shine of gold, but hey, that's why he was rotting in the sewers and why Ivar was the boss, even if just of six ragged boys mostly making do with picking pockets. Eh. Everything big starts out small, and this job might as well have been the turning point.
"Well, suggest something better and I'm all for. And not another fucking blind alley - you said kads don't patrol this one, didn't he, Herb?" A tall and lanky boy to their side nodded, and took his hands out of his pockets. "No use proppin' the crown up by our hard work, there ain't." he muttered.
"Yeah, I din't get chewed up just to get 'sported." Dan grunted, spreading his hands wide. He was always the first one in through a window or chute, opening the way for the rest of them, and this evening, it cost him his trousers and half an arse worth of bites when it turned out there was a guard dog. Varied noises of agreement came from the rest of the band, except for Joe and Hornhead who were watching out for trouble at the end, and Ivar gleefully noted that his... trade partner quickly wisened up to the fact he's alone in his concerns.
"Allright." he didn't lay off the knife, but his voice was far less belligerent. "I figure, just gimme that pot and divvy up the rest wherever."
"Hmm." A larger silver pot with ornate designs, it wasn't cheap, but no way the priciest thing they had happened upon in that merchant's house. Not a bad choice, and one Ivar couldn't really reject without all but admitting foul play. He rubbed his chin, then gestured to the beefy fellow holding their loot. "Give it to him, To-"
Words died in his throat. He tried speaking out again, but no sound came out of his jaws. In a flash, he drew his daggers - most of his fellows had done the same, and looked around the dark alley. Nobody.
Then, the choking started.
In the blink of an eye, the cul-de-sac filled with something noxious, burning eyes, noss and throat like living fire. Through tears, he saw Dan and Tom tumble over, clutching at their throats, while Jonas retched and Herb clawed at his own eyes with a desperate expression, all in bizarre silence.
Run.
He dashed out, slammed into a wall, turned left and ran, hoping, out of the alley. A few paces, a few seconds, and the air was clear. His lungs still hurt,
he could barely see, and he realized he must have dropped his daggers, but that wasn't important. Just run and don't stop, and you'll be ali-.
He tripped, fell, and landed into something soft and warm.
It was Hornhead, or rather, what remained of the half-orc youth. Head, arms and chest - his entire midsection had turned into something sloshy and noxious. He pushed himself up on his arms and stood-
"Goddess, how wonderfully polite. And here I thought I'll have to go and pick you out from the pile. By the sigil of Aun'isstra and my own blood I bind your strength."
He lifted his head. The sneering voice came from a short, cloaked figure standing just around the corner, a large, filthy-looking cat sitting on her shoulder.
"Who are-"
Something hot and sticky slammed into Ivar, and he splayed on the floor, face into his late friend's chest. His entire body had given out, like a limb fallen well and truly asleep, but such limbs do not feel. He felt a hand grab him and pull him up.
"You will have all the time to find that out, dear. All the time you'll wish you hadn't."
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