Difference between revisions of "RP:A Curse for a Curse"
(Our boy Ernest creates something extremely Cursed(TM) for Kanna to collect bad juju in for a chance for her to become human again.)
Latest revision as of 17:22, 18 May 2020
Summary: Kanna seeks refuge out in the alcove near the Whalers' Bar after having her undead rear handed to her in a fight. As she laments to a fellow undead man, the mysterious Ernest offers her a proposition: Collect enough ill will from mortals, and he can alter her curse to lower her chances at detection.
Marble benches, the legs formed into open seashells, face both in and out of this tiny copse, tucked neatly within the living alcove of a grove of sycamore trees. In the center, sandstone bricks that sparkle with shards of silver, green and blue are placed circularly, rising up to waist level. The soft lapping of water against the edges can be heard from deep within. On closer inspection, shiny bits of metal and coins, oddly untarnished, rest at the bottom of the clear, blue waters.
Kanna nurses the cut on her hand between songs as she presides over the alcove to an audience of zero. Having taken the loss from her last attempt to feed on a mortal, the performance is mostly to cheer up her own spirits. She turns her hand over in the moonlight, letting the light shine on the black marking where a normal wound would have scabbed over and begun to heal. It would seem that despite her inability to feel pain (or really, anything), this form had quite the limitations on it. The bard gives a deep sigh and hangs her head for a moment, taking in the sounds of crickets chirping their own melody in the tall grass around the sycamores. She fishes into the pockets of her skirt and fishes out a single gold piece, what little was not taken by her victim as compensation. "I wish..." What was she going to wish for, to be human again? No deity had answered that prayer before, why would they start now? "I wish my hand was fixed." Kanna laments with a hint of sarcasm, tossing the gold piece, where it sadly bounces off the sandstones and rolls into an unlit path. "Of course."
Ernest stepped out of a shadow like some kinda friggin' edgelord, his black longcoat's faint blue glow having blended perfectly with the moonlight. The first sign of his presence would have been the "clink" of a spur hitting the ground. "Why?" he asked, tilting his head at her, not bothering to introduce himself first, also like a friggin' edgelord. Ernest, stop hanging out with the necromancer's guild, you're picking up bad habits. "You're not bleeding, so it isn't like you've got big things like death or disease to worry about." He held out his own hand, skin and muscle alike missing from parts of it, leaving a mummified, bony, dry husk. "And it isn't like injury slows me down." Longcoat swirled to the side. In almost the same instant, a moment too fast to be followed by the eye, the undead had drawn his hand crossbow and set it spinning on a finger with a sneer that, had his face been in better condition, would probably have been a friendly, amused grin.
Kanna sizes up the man and raises an eyebrow. Surely, she would have remembered someone who looked like they walked out of the famous newspaper comic Dead Red Reservation. "Are you like me?" She starts to ask, when the moonlight shines on his face, or rather, what is left of it. Trying to remain polite, she tries not to let her alarm show. "Is that what I'm going to look like in a few years if I don't get this curse reversed? Regardless, It matters because its' unsightly. I kind of rely on having men willing to approach me to sustain this form, which I can't do if I'm all cut up." Kanna pouts, looking down to tune the strings on her koto to change the key of her next tune.
Ernest grunted--not because she insulted his appearance, however. "You rely on other people to make a living?" he asked, lip curling in distaste, tossing the spinning crossbow up into the air almost casually as he moved to sit on the rim of the fountain beside her. "That part of this curse thing you mentioned, or just you bein' scared to get what you need for yer own self?" One hand reached up behind his back, and he caught the crossbow, spun it once and holstered it.
Kanna raises an eyebrow, her lip curling up into a smirk. "Unless you live off the land, you rely on others hiring you to make a living as well, dear. In my case, I rely on others being, well, alive." A spark of recognition flashes against her face and she snaps her fingers. "Ernest. Our paths crossed once in Kelay. I was still human, then of course."
Ernest crossed his arms at her point, eyes squinting at this point. "Yes, ma'am, that's me. Now that y'mention it, you do look familiar. Can't say I remember the exact circumstances of our meetin', though. Now what in tarnation's this about needing people alive got to do with anything? Means you got even -less- of an excuse to be relyin' on others." He took a moment to pause. If he wasn't a mummy, one might have sworn he took a long breath. "That'd be puttin' th' stage afore th' horse. S'pose you tell me 'bout this curse that seems t'make you think y'ain't human anymore. I got opinions 'bout that, too, by the way."
Kanna tilts her head at the undead man, furrowing her brows before a piece clicks in her mind. "Ah. So you're not quite like me, then." She says decisively, running her fingers across the strings of her instrument to test the sound. Hm, no, the third string was too low now. "Opinions about what, me not being human anymore? That's not as much of an opinion than it is a fact. There's a creature that seems to be a God of Undeath to thank for that. Ever since I crossed paths with him, I don't bleed, I don't have a heartbeat, I can't feel pain, and most importantly--" The bardess looks around to make sure there were no mortals hanging around. "I have to consume mortal flesh on a regular basis to keep my body from decomposing. Its so much easier if you get a drunk man to go along with you willingly." Looking up at him, she questions, "If you're just plain undead, shouldn't there be a master or something by your side for revivng you?"
Ernest just gave her a Look that said something to the extent of "lady does anything about me look or sound like I'd be bowing to any master?" and answered, "I jus' didn't go when they said my time was up. Death's more of a suggestion, turns out. Don't make me inhuman, no more'n learning how to shoot fire from yer fingertips is inhuman." He stood again, abruptly, and would attempt to poke her in the shoulder with a finger. Not overly hard, but definitely enough to notice. "An' if a curse can make you inhuman, why, sister, I've changed so many people's species I may as well be a god. That all this is? Whining 'bout a curse? If yer not owning it--that is, if y'ain't grabbin' folks an' pinnin' 'em to walls," to illustrate his point, his crossbow snapped back into his hand with lightning speed, only this time he actually fired, attempting to sink the bolt through her skirt and pin it to the stone she sat on, without touching her leg, "then yer jus' a cursed human, an' that's a state what can be reversed. An' you happen t'be talkin' to a curse expert."
Kanna smirks at the thought of not owning up to her condition. With a purse of her lips, she sets the koto aside and lifts one leg so its propped up on the bolt buried in the stone. "You haven't seen my act. Trust me, there's a lot of pinning. And it doesn't rely on just being pretty either. Does it?" She nods upwards, where the trees above have suddenly come down so the branches surround Ernest in a mildly threatening display. "Tell me, how do you go about undoing the curse of a God, oh curse master? Because I've dug through every library on the continent and not found anything. Consider my attention now peaked." Kanna smiles with that falsely sweet smile that wrinkles her freckles as she props her chin on her hand.
Ernest glanced up at the branches that came down to mildly surround him. Cute, but ultimately a nonissue, should this turn into a discussion with weaponry and fighting as well as words. Fortunately--or unfortunately, depending on your point of view--he had his spellbook on him at the moment, as he'd been working with some slightly advanced necromancy techniques before getting distracted, and this could help. "Well, fer starters," he said, crossbow remaining in his hand but once more returning to a casual spin on his finger, "a curse is jus' somebody's ill will given function. Gods tend to have a lot of that. Makes 'em powerful curses, an' curses with lengthy breaking requirements, usually obscure enough that a simple cursebreakin' spell won't do. But still curses all th' same." Ernest tilted his head a little, thinking. "If you or I could gather enough power into one location, I could potentially channel it into messin' up th' curse somehow. Probably cain't break it, but I betcha I could make it do somethin' else to ya, somethin' less... murdery."
Kanna looks away for a moment to dislodge the bolt from the bench so she can stand. As her attention is gone, the branches pull back into an upright state, away from the undead man. "I don't suppose you would know anything about the requirements specifically to undo this curse? It's a little late to undo... How long has it been now?" She lifts her fingers one by one. "Seven months of eating people and gathering the attention of some rotten halfling that took all my money once he had me pinned. If you have a way to make me stronger, though, then by all means." Kanna stands, barely coming up to Ernest's chest. "What kind of energy are we talking about?"
Ernest rubbed his temple with his free hand, holstering the crossbow and snapping his fingers. A small skeletal hand popped out of his sleeve and dropped onto the ground; one might get the impression that the hand was Ernest's own simply falling off of his arm. It crawled like a spider towards the bolt as the mummy considered the problem. "Undoing a curse, 'specially one with god-power behind it, can be trickier'n changing it. An' as I know next to nothin' about this'un, I cain't tell ya one way or another if I can undo it, not without examinin' ya real thorough-like. Energy we need fer -changin'- it, though, can be gathered easy enough. Ill will, like I said. We gotta get you a way to collect bad feelings. Little things're fine as long as they add up. Annoyances, gripes, peeves. Wish-you-were-deads. Could probably whip up a cursed item that'll do it, but it won't be fun." He grinned brightly. "Unless you enjoy being an annoying little--" somewhere, a crow cawed loudly, "--to everyone you come across on purpose."
Kanna places an inquisitive finger on her lips, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she does so. "Well, there's the skinny little elf that got away from me, and the moldy half-drow I just had a run-in with. I figure both are on the wish-you-were-dead level, but they would never follow me out to wherever is needed to do this. How exactly does one bottle ill will?" When Ernest goes to answer, she cuts him off. "Also, how much are you charging for this? I think I said it before, but I'd have to go through another few dozen victims to get some decent funds."
Ernest sometimes forgot that money was a thing. Being someone who didn't need food to sustain himself had made earning a proper wage pretty far down his priority list. That being said, if she was offering... "Well, now. Undoin' a literal act of god ain't gonna come cheap." He put a finger to his chin, a show of thinking about it, shifting his weight a little himself. "Some folk might even say somethin' like that's darn near priceless. I ain't the sentimental type, though. How much are you willin' to part with?"
Kanna falters slightly at his show of making his sevices sound quite expensive. Her eyes immediately drift down to the heirloom koto. Well, she could try it, but it would be pulled back to her almost immediately. With an idea, she reaches-- "Oh." She turns away from Ernest first, and reaches into her shirt, pulling out what appears to be a compass. "Be a dear and give me your hand." Curiously, she opens it and shows him the arrow pointing northwest. Once placed in his hand, the arrow disappears completely. "Ah, what a shame. That's a heart-reading compass, you see. It points you in the direction of something you've been longing for." She turns it over to reveal an inscription in the metal that indicates its potential rarity. '6 of 7'
Ernest's eyes widened when she took it and turned it over, and his hands lashed out swiftly to grab at it again and look at it in his palm. Should he manage to grab and take it, the arrow would reappear, tick lightly in one direction, then whirl about and lock onto one direction as solidly as a rock. "Yeah, 's 'bout what I expected... Definitely useful, though, assuming I ever manage to get that little errand finished up." He nodded and passed it back to her. "An express ticket to whatever I desire most? I'd call that worth more'n whatever absurd amount of gold I was gonna charge you. It's a deal, kid." He held out a hand to shake.
Kanna lights up when the arrow appears for Ernest, looking out in the direction it points (though it is currently all trees), and tries to think of what cities could possibly be in that direction. "How lucky for you! It must be something good if its glowing so bright!" With a bit of a somber tone, she notes, "Mine keeps pointing out at the ocean for some reason." Once back in her hands, sure enough, the arrow appears and points straight out at Cenril docks. "No matter, I cannot afford to catch a boat in this condition; I might eat all the sailors before I get to my destination. Its yours should this help stave off the hunger." Kanna smiles, a genuine smile this time, taking his icy hand with her own lifeless one. "Now then, about collecting that ill will...?"
Ernest shook firmly, then took his hands and rubbed them together, grin still present. "Yes! Ordinarily when I make a curse, I gotta get real mad myself, but I don't think th' two of us put together have enough anger issues to rival a god, so we gotta get smart 'bout this. I can curse an item in such a way that it feeds off of magical energy. Shouldn't take much tweaking to curse an item t'feed off of good ol' fashioned ill will. It's gotta be a curse, though, I ain't good at ordinary enchantin' jus' yet. So carryin' it's gonna do somethin' bad to ya. Somethin' mild, preferably somethin' helpful to th' cause... I got it." He laughed, the sound was jovial but ugly and rasping, and it took him a moment to compose himself. "We'll make it make yer voice as annoyin' as a whole flock of seagulls. Ain't nobody gonna talk to ya without cringin' fierce as long as yer holdin' this item. And every cringe goes right in the bottle."
Kanna recoils, visibly annoyed by the idea. "What!! Can't-- can't you just make me flat chested in exchange for the item or something? People get plenty of ill will already for trying to kill them!" She protests. Then again, the mummy is the one calling the shots right now for helping her out. With the mimicry of a sigh, she relents. "Fine, as long as I get to decide when it works and doesn't, that's fine."
Ernest chuckled again at her recoiling and reconsidering. "Oh, of course, jus' leave it off your person when y'don't wanna sound like a cat serenade with rusty metal accompaniment. Trust me, my other curses ain't any more fun. You wouldn't want the Wandering Child or Undertaker's Ire stuck to ya, that's for sure." He shrugged. "'sides, this way you get to earn some ill will even when y'aren't killin' folk, so I see it as an absolute win across th'board. Now, what would you like me t'curse?" He held out a hand, palm up, expecting her to hand him an item. "I'll need... half an hour with it. Feel free t'watch."
Kanna glances at his hand and reaches up into her hair, undoing the clasp of one of the flowery clips that adorns it. A thick lock of silvery curls falls in its place. "Will this do?" The bardess places the faux lotus in his hand.
Ernest took the item carefully and gave a thumbs-up. "It'll certainly do." He looked over her shoulder toward the bench. "Hey, what's takin' so long?" The little hand had the crossbow bolt gripped tightly with its middle and ring fingers, and was crawling slowly across the ground with its pinky and index finger. "Guess this is why mos' people raise whole skeletons," he grumbled, bending down to pick up the hand and separating the spent ammunition from its fingers before slipping it back up his sleeve. "Can't hide a skeleton in yer jacket, though. Where were we? Ah, yes." He moved to sit on the ground, and drew a small circle around himself and the flower pin. He took a moment, pausing, sizing it up, squinting at it--and then his body stiffened and jerked as though he'd suddenly tensed every muscle in his body and an horrid rasping hiss came out of his mouth. The magic circle lit up with a sickly blue light and a sound like an ominous bassy drone filled the air around him. Any empathic sense she might have had would likely be temporarily flash-blinded by the sheer amount of RAGE AND HATRED that erupted from the circle, and even a non-empath would likely get the sense that something fundamentally Wrong was happening there.
Kanna stumbles back at the light, warning bells immediately ringing in her head. As if spurred on by the memory of it, she grips at her arms to stop an oncoming shiver that never comes. "Wait... wait!!" Kanna tries to call out, though her voice barely registers over the droning of the cursed ritual. The human portion of her remaining tells her that she's just done another Horrible Thing, and its too late to go back.
Ernest was very difficult to rouse once he'd gotten started with this sort of thing. While he was quite knowledgable regarding the -theory- of curses, his actual -technique- was hardly refined. He essentially forced himself into a berserker rage, and brute-forced the anger into doing the work for him. He could control it, but it took all his concentration and much longer than someone with actual skill. Ernest managed to get by on raw talent, but had little interest in refining a technique that he mostly used to enhance his crossbow fighting, and as such it remained fairly rough. His ears roared with the drone that surrounded him as he summoned up every negative emotion he could to force it into this little flower-clip, bending the spite to his will, twisting it into a shape that might accomplish something. The light of the circle reacted similarly, slowly starting to swirl as she watched, and gradually bend itself into the clip, like dust entering a black hole. Interestingly, it didn't take as long as Ernest had anticipated, at least he didn't -think- it had taken that long; time was always difficult to tell in the ragetrance. The hiss that escaped his lips began to shape itself into words as he capped the curse off with a name: "And may your bearer... always carry... the Curse of the Siren's Shame!" The drone rose to a climax and then faded immediately, the circle of light flashed brightly and then winked out. Ernest rocked forward like a puppet whose strings had been cut before shaking his head and recovering, holding up the clip to the moonlight. It glistened, having acquired a faint bluish sheen around the edges. Hardly noticeable unless you were looking for it.
Kanna forces herself to walk towards the circle, step by agonizing step. Once close enough, she feels memories resurfacing that drag out her own ill will as well, manifesting as pale white lights that appear just before the edge and pull into the clip as well. All at once, she recalls the Ryvnalian slave traders that dragged her off the boat she had stowed away in to get off of her home island, the horror she felt when the dryad kissed her and she in turn used her powers to take the lives of those men. The bardess covers her ears as she remembers the despair of her guardians dying or disappearing one after the other, and the shame and terror she felt consuming her first human. As soon as the onslaught of nightmares appeared, it is gone, leaving Ernest admiring his handiwork. Kanna trembles before him, but her arm reaches out anyways, palm facing up. "My only shame is that it took me becoming a member of the undead to take revenge on the men who wronged me, and that I cannot repay my debt while in this form."
Ernest looked up at her from his seated position with a "huh?" sort of expression. Then, comprehension. He handed the clip over to her before he spoke. "Oh! It's just a name I thought was funny. I pictured a siren trying to sing while wearing this." He chuckled. "You won't hear the effect yourself, if I did it right. To you, you'll speak normally. To others, it'll be like yer a tone-deaf teenage vulture who's been smoking all her life. Should collect plenty of little incidental ire from people walking down the street even if y'jus' sing to yerself, as long as y'make sure yer heard." He climbed to his feet and tipped his hat. "I s'pect yer little compass there might point ya towards me once you feel you've got a full tank, but fer now I oughta be off."
Kanna turns the clip over in her hands. She never dreamed that she would be turning to a curse to reverse another curse, but... "Worth a shot, I suppose." The bard tucks her curl back into place with one hand, and tucks the lotus into place. "Well, I suppose I ought to thank you or somethi--" Her eyes widen as Ernest starts to guffaw at the altered voice. Yanking it out of her hair, she fumes over to the bench, collecting her instrument. "Forget it!" She huffs, marching off in the opposite direction, stepping directly onto the missed gold piece as she did. Despite her good intentions, she had know way of knowing that her path to being human again was about to become much, much darker.