RP:Fireside Chats (and Curses)

From HollowWiki

Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc

Summary: Continuation of RP:In Cahoots (and Cantrips). Celaeno and Genevieve discuss their respective eccentricities over lunch. They soon return to the woods to curse some quivers, when Genevieve discovers an unfortunate condition Celaeno’s been harboring…

Date: Feb. 28, 2018

The Dancing Destrier

Built against the rocky mountains behind it, The Dancing Destrier is a large inn. Double doors open to a massive dining area, often filled with magelings, villagers and visitors to the town, and even a few errant hobbits who have braved leaving the Burrows to live amongst the 'Big People'. Many wondrous smells come from the kitchen, where the barkeep's wife prepares exotic foods with ingredients given to her by mages, and recipes gained over a lifetime of meeting the strange patrons who come from all around to study within the Mage Tower or pay their respects to the Xalious Tree. The owner is a friendly man, with eyes that betray a fierce intelligence. Thin of arm and quiet of voice, he nevertheless emits the confidence which comes from those who have studied the arcane. A small fire burns without wood in the corner, but it is more a source of light than heat; kept alive by young pyromancers in the Guild as an exercise in control. There is always a student or two sitting in one of the high chairs which surround it, their features fierce in concentration. The entire building is made like the rest of Xalious Village: simple and sturdy, yet clearly built with the love and attention which can only come from the villagers themselves.

Genevieve initially believed going to the Mage’s Tower was the most nerve-wracking thing she could accomplish today; blundering into The Dancing Destrier tops that list. The low crackle of the fire, chatter from the patrons, and the delicate step of hostesses all greet her ears before she enters, preparing her for the anxiety to come. The sight as they walk in is as much as she expects, stiflingly decked on all sides by magelings taking lunch breaks and villagers stopping to chat with the owner. Even the occasional hobbit dodders between high chairs and the bar counter, eliticiting a muffled gasp from sheltered Genevieve. How could somebody so -short- have functioning organs? Naturally, the hobbit gives her a side eye, and she attempts to brush off the reproach as they find an empty table near the fire. Tender pangs of paranoia hit her in waves with each stranger that brushes by, making her all the more eager to forget it in conversation. She flips up her hood, letting the ends of her twintails spill over her cloak, settling her satchel in her lap. The fire sparks to their right, basking Cela’s face in mage-enchanted flamelight. A human waitress soon approaches inquiring about meals; Genevieve lets her companion order first before muttering for a glass of water and “um, m-m-maybe a s-salad, i-i-if th-that’s okay, m-m-miss.” A brief sigh escapes her — will she always have to deal with this inability to communicate? — before turning her attention to Celaeno. “So,” she begins, her hands clasped on the table as if conducting an interview, “m-may I ask where those gauntlets originate? The runes are -very- fascinating, and the way y-you can control them without… um, you know… I’ve never encounter anything like it in my studies.” She adds, with a tinge of hesitance, “I, you know, just thought they were a fashion statement — I-I don’t know much about the real world — but they seem to have a number of practical applications.”

Celaeno too reacted to the hobbits in such a way, in her own mind of course since that neutral mask always had to stay on for politeness’ sake. She stayed more or less confident, despite that her hands were tucked in the sleeves of her robe as if she was accustomed to hiding them. They found a table tucked in the corner, relatively isolated from the brunt of the crowds--the noise didn’t exactly help the half-elf’s attention either with how her ears pricked about of their own accord. She let Genevieve sit first before taking the chair across from her, better to face her with against the onslaught of distractions. The waitress is given a thin smile, “Just a cup of black tea and a bowl of whatever stew you have, please.” Cordial, for the sake of a generous tip at least, the waitress whisked herself away toward her other tables before disappearing to the back to put in the newest orders. Cela kept her hands resting in her lap, hidden by the black fabric still covering them. “I commissioned them from a smith after my hands were taken, then had to find a scribe with a knowledge of magical characters to engrave the right one. The left, I did myself. I researched and came up with the runic strings myself. I only had a few tomes to my name when I left, so I had to get creative with the limited alphabets I had. Aside from the enchantments that animate them, I also have reinforcement for the metal. Silver is rather soft, and I wouldn’t want them dented without a way to repair them. The right has more offensive pyromancy tricks while the left acts to house my defensive barriers. They’re little things, but they do what I need well enough, for a first attempt. I’m hoping I can eventually use what new knowledge I’ve gained to make a new pair, something a bit more optional.” A red tint comes to her cheeks at the fashion statement remark. “I’m not very vain as a rule, but I wanted them to look presentable, at least.” Her eyes brighten up as she leans forward a bit, that intense focus perhaps a bit intimidating for knowing each other such a short time. “And, might I ask after your...extra appendage, as it were? Do you think such a skill could be learned by others, or is it unique to your talents?”

Genevieve’s focus is now entirely on Celaeno, much for the better; her curiosity rises as her anxiety falls, comfortable in the knowledge that she’s with a peer and — for lack of a better term, but with an inward grin — a friend. Her explanation of the gauntlets gets her gears turning. It’s obvious that she put a great deal of consideration into the construction and implementation of the armor, and the question as to -who- took off her hands and -where- she happens to be from also piques her interest. This girl is just an enigma, and Genevieve absolutely loves it. She shrinks under her focus, though, and the question about her aura makes that familiar blush rise to her cheeks. “M-my aura? It’s, ah, something from my past — much like your gauntlets, as it were. I-it’s an overproduction of dark magic, and, um, not really something I c-can control or teach. I -believe- it’s unique.” She handwaves the matter, but seeing Celaeno’s focus makes her want to explain more. “Y-you can liken it to a leaky jug, or an overfilled wineskin; it just… pours out, but not of my own accord. It used to be utterly disastrous before I learned to harness it; plants would wilt where I stepped, strangers I met would attempt to kill me on the basis of my presence alone — i-it’s something others are quite attuned to, for better or worse. But over time, I taught myself to link with it and utilize it in my studies. People are still very distrustful, and I must be careful when I handle delicate flora, but it’s… gotten better.” She shifts in her seat, suddenly self-conscious. She’s never explained it before in such detail. Her gaze shifts from the table to meet Celaeno’s, motioning towards her sleeves. “It appears we both carry remnants of our old life with us, don’t we? Though it must be terrible to have lost your hands… w-who would do such a thing to you?”

Celaeno nodded along, keeping more than courteous eye contact with the other young woman, the inquisitiveness of her youth peeking out as she absorbs the explanation. It brings a far more genuine smile to her mouth than what she offered the waitress. “I’m glad you’ve managed to turn it to your benefit, making something troublesome into a tool. That is unfortunate that others are so put off by it, though. I was chased out of places where I came from for similar fears, but it was usually only after rumors started circulating.” She glances down at her forearms, that grin turning wry in agreement at Genevieve’s assessment. “More than just these, I’m afraid. My old mentor was what inspired me to want to pursue the dark arts, himself one of the few practitioners in our land. Unfortunately, despite my capability as an assistant, he never taught me much of anything and I was forced to look to other specialties to develop my talents. In the end he needed my hands for a ritual of his, to resurrect a loved one with the soul intact. That entire process left me with a few messes I’m still trying to puzzle out and clean up.” Perhaps that explained the aura radiating out from her chest that didn’t quite seem to fit. “I’ve obviously taken my leave of him since, but the interest in necromancy stayed, as well as the necessity to learn it so I can undo what damage he did.”

Genevieve sees herself in Celaeno, engrossed by her unembellished recounting of her backstory. An aching twinge of solitary comes with that engrossment. It seems that they’ve been dealt a similar hand in spite of their individual situations. It’s difficult for her to feel empathy for many people — she’s all too self-assured that most get what’s coming to them — yet this girl’s circumstances carve up every last bit of it. “That’s… very unfortunate, Celaeno. I’m s-sorry that you had to go through something like that. It’s d-despicable.” Her fingers rap the hardwood table, thinking of something to say. “I-it’s all too easy for people in power to take advantage of those subordinate to them. Funnily enough, necromancy was banned at my home. All magic was, but necromancy was punishable by…” she halts, moving on, “um, well, my grandmother was a necromancer, and her and my grandfather had some sort of — uh, spat — it’s complicated… but I believe it’s what lead to me developing my presence. Y-you know, if you bottle something up for too long, it explodes.” A weak, awkward laugh escapes her lips. “I supposed it always caught my attention just by how taboo it was back then — and still is, it seems. I’m more or less stuck with it, so I may as well become the best at it that I can be, right?… And here we are.” Almost as if on cue, the waitress returns with their food and drink. Genevieve hands out her portion of the pay plus a little extra, shaking the whole time, thankful that she didn’t engage in smalltalk like the others. The necromancer nibbles diffidently at the vegetable-topped salad, drizzled with an unfamiliar substance that’s much richer and sweeter than what she had at home. Her taste buds seem to agree with it, swallowing it down with a rich gulp of water. Water that’s, to her surprise, not completely hard or straight from an algae-infested stream. The real world continues to interest her.

Celaeno’s eyebrows go up as she catches shades of Genevieve’s family dysfunction. How little she knew about how deep it actually went, but she wouldn’t pry deeper...for the moment. “That makes sense. For me, luckily, the only consequence for not pursuing my magical study was metaphysical lack of direction. It’s always been a passion of mine, something long held captive by the elites of my homeland. Being born into a nomadic people, I was not privy to such teachings formally. I suppose the forbidden nature of it made it more attractive. Likewise with the dark arts.” She shares in the humor with a snicker of her own. “How is it holding something away from someone makes it more enticing, hmm?” She dug into the side pocket of her pack, hung on the back of her chair, and handed the waitress her bits of coin as well. The stew had hardy lamb chunks today in a beefy broth, a pleasant mix of flavors for anyone who enjoyed meat. The tea had a pleasant aroma, her favorite mix from any of the taverns in Lithrydel so far. She takes a few sips in silence as the stew cools. “Hmm...I wonder, Miss Genevieve, if you would mind assisting me with a few more advanced curses. I have a task coming up that I must help prepare for, and I have volunteered to help with ammunition. Usually I would ask a close friend of mine for assistance, but she’s been occupied of late.” A somewhat mournful note enters the young woman’s voice, but she perks right up as she sets her cup back down in its saucer. “We seem to work well enough together, though. I understand if it’s perhaps too soon to be asking such favors. I can pay you for your time, of course, or offer a favor in return. Your time and abilities are certainly worth it.”

“Nomadic?” Genevieve responds, her voice perking up. “Q-quite the opposite of my own circumstances… you begin to surprise me more and more, Celaeno.” They were like twin shadows, different reverberations from the same echo, birds of a feather. Her mind could conjure up flowery metaphors for hours and still not capture this strange, budding friendship. “W-well, you know, most of us want what we can’t have, or -shouldn’t- have.” A smile tugs at her lips following the quip, but she ruminates over what she’s missing: bodies for her research, objects of study, companionship, trust. She takes a few more bites of the flavorful salad, startled when she hits the bowl. Hunger became a normal feeling to her at some indiscernible point in the past. She idly scrapes the last few bits of food with her fork, nodding as Celaeno explains her task. “Cursing? N-not a problem at all. I’d be delighted to get some more practice in,” the necromancer explains with a hint of eagerness in her tone. She balks at the enchanter’s comment of putting in pay for it. “N-no, no, definitely not too soon! And, um, don’t worry about pay, please. Your company is more than enough,” she answers, her voice coming out steadier than she imagined. She really -didn’t- need pay — besides the bodies and research subjects, she was more or less set — but the friendship was something she’d been desperate for since she left the homestead. “I… I would truly be more than happy to help. May I ask who the task is for?”

“Yes, my mother’s folk, at least. My father married into it before we split from our caravan, then the lifestyle just stuck.” Those vague partial-truths would have to suffice for the moment as she takes the first heaping spoonful of her stew. The broth warmed her chest, not too much though, enough to bring a contented little wrinkle to her nose as she chewed and swallowed. A spark of humor lit her eyes at Genevieve’s reply, another odd similarity they shared: doing work for work’s sake. Still, the acceptance makes her clap her hands together with renewed enthusiasm. Unfortunately, that old habit with metal gauntlets rather than flesh sends a resounding clank throughout the establishment, making those crowded nearby go quiet all at once and stare at the duo, many with perturbed glances. The half-elf’s entire face turns that brick shade as her shoulders bunch and she shrinks into her chair, tempted to pull her own hood up at all of the added attention. “It’s...important, I believe I can say that much. Perhaps we should go somewhere more private to speak of particulars, though. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to try these particular ones out on people, though. From that Ernest fellow I was telling you about in exchange for some runic strings. Their effects are...nasty, but creative. Perfect for ranged weapons and equally foul enemies.”

Genevieve winces at the metallic clang of the gauntlets, but that’s soon followed by a short burst of giggles, not at the enchanter’s misfortune but at the absurdity of the situation. Her face turns the same shade of red, half-embarrassed and half-entertained, waiting before the background murmur resumes to respond. “Y-yes, I understand the, uh, -clandestine- nature of these jobs. Any secrets are safe with me.” Her voice is a tad quieter, leaning in intently. Perhaps it’s the secretive aspect of the work that draws her in. “Ernest, hm?” A mysterious person with a knowledge of curses — with any luck, she’ll meet this Ernest soon and barrage him with questions regarding his undead status. He probably won’t judge her for her darkness, which she anticipates with a certain satisfaction. Genevieve rises from her seat (more like falls, considering how high the chairs are) and gathers her belongings, looking up at Celaeno. She doesn’t quite realize that she could still be working on her food, which makes her want to return to her chair… but the chair’s height would make it a force to reckon with and attract too much attention. Which is to say, maybe, the stares of a few patrons. She’s at an impasse. “W-well, whenever you’re ready, we can search for a place more private. Pe-perhaps the same site we found before?” So long as it’s empty, at least; the number of Guild students made her nervous.

Celaeno didn’t grow thorns just yet at the fit of mirth from her new friend as she shoveled what was left of the stew into her mouth and gulped down the rest of the broth in a surprisingly undignified fashion. Still, despite the rush she managed to not spill any on her collar, just a small ring around her mouth as she downs her lukewarm tea like a sailor might a shot. By the time Genevieve was switching between sitting and standing with some effort, she was finished with her meal and gathering her things. She waited only long enough to be sure the other woman was behind her before scurrying out between the tables and bodies. Escaping her embarrassment may have been a minor factor, but excitement spurred her on once they left the Dancing Destrider and made their way toward the open space from before. It seemed her answer to the human’s proposal had been an agreement as she sets her pack down and begins to rifle through it for something. A light linen cloth is procured, alongside her little diary, swiped from its side-pocket home. “The purpose of this mission is reconnaissance in a hostile environment where traditional magic is dampened and dark magicks are amplified.” She digs deeper in her pack and withdraws a four small bundles of crossbow bolts, which could reasonably fit, and four quivers of small arrows--that those didn’t stick out and their feathers stayed in tact is a miracle in itself. Each head was painted with four different colors, identifiers perhaps. “These curses require a great deal more of quiet concentration and focus. The intents must be weaved precisely with focused negative emotions, then at the end you declare its name in your mind and say something to the effect of ‘may your prey suffer the wrath of…’ then say the name of the curse. Simple enough in technique, though I’m not sure how lengthy each trance needs to be. I imagine it’s even longer with a greater amount of objects. However, if there’s two of us concentrating at the same time, that should compensate so it more resembles a typical session. Do you agree, or do you have a better suggestion as to how we should conduct this?”

Returning to the cleared site from earlier is a welcome change of pace for Genevieve. She breathes in the crisp afternoon air deeply, surveying their small kingdom of foliage and fallen trees, somewhat familiar by now with their surroundings — her observant nature is just a precaution in case any students bumble by, yet she knows her aura will be more than enough to scare them away. As Calaeno unpacks, so does Genevieve, grabbing the book of curses and placing her belongings against a hollow log. She rubs her hands together, excited, and plops down next to her companion as she reads the detailed instructions aloud. Genevieve wonders to herself where such a ‘hostile environment’ could be located, but for now her focus is on cursing the bolts and quivers. She nods at Celaeno, studying the colors with a particular closeness. “I believe I understand what you’re getting at… and, um, yes, I believe your method will work just fine for this. If we double the concentration, it’ll go by that much quicker.” Giving credit where credit is due, after all. “So, I’m assuming each particular curse responds to a color?” So it seems. What curses will they be casting, exactly? She almost salivates at the thought; more experience, more power. This Ernest fellow must be a master of cursing if he’s able to weave together so many different kinds.

Celaeno nods quickly, her tight braid bobbing with the motion as her entire face seems to light up the more she explains. “Precisely! He had a total of seven that he used, though only four of them seem appropriate for this particular mission. I would go into more detail, but I’m unsure how much I’m at liberty to tell.” She offers an apologetic frown. Secrets were always tricky. She flipped through her journal and read aloud from it the curses they were going to use. Each bundle had been painted with yellow, cyan, deep blue, or green tips. Cela pointed to the yellow first, “This one is for the Undertaker’s Ire. Any open wounds present on the victim will spawn maggots, which proceed to eat away at the flesh surrounding the wound, inflicting extreme pain and causing even small wounds to open into gaping holes in the flesh.” Then the cyan. “This is Tyrant’s Dissent. The victim of this curse will be resistant to magical healing and damage, but be unable to speak and unable to cast any magic spells.” Then the dark blue. “Wandering Child. Those afflicted by this curse will find it extremely difficult to concentrate on any one thing in particular, or to form complicated plans. Ideas will bubble up and disappear at a pace far more rapid than usual.” And lastly, the green. “Darkened Mirror. The victim of this curse is subjected to a horrible vision in which all of their past sins and all those whom they have hurt swirl around them and inflict exactly the same pain that was inflicted upon them by said victim.” She glances up from the book, bouncing on her knees with that beam still firmly in place. “Which shall we try first?”

Genevieve, although extraordinarily hungry for more details, acquises to Celaeno’s insistence on its secrecy. Once she meets this Ernest, she’s sure he’ll give her all the details (hopefully)! She listens attentively to an explanation of each of the curses, their individual maladies, and Genevieve can’t help but get excited. The monstrous effects, the duration, the sheer -agony- and -torture- that each curse must give its unfortunate target… it sends a shiver down her spine. The good kind. Well, not good for others, but good for her. The idea that even one can inflict such awful wounds of body and mind speaks volumes about the complexity of the magic involved and it renews her spirit tenfold. Yes, this is why she loves necromancy — its volatility, its power, its ability to manipulate the senses in ways swinging a sword quite can’t. She mulls over each of the curses carefully with a palm resting against her cheek, hoping to select one that won’t be -too- catastrophic if it backfires onto her. “H-how about Tyrant’s Dissent? It’s a good start, an interesting premise,” she answers, eyeing the cyan blue arrows carefully. “And if the curse ends up getting botched, well… I’m sure we can last a while without speaking, yes?” This elicits a short laugh, and as Genevieve prepares to meditate, she casts a droll glance at Celaeno.

Celaeno perhaps should have mentioned that her encounter with Ernest was unrelated to the mission she spoke of, only that she meant to arm those she worked with using the curses the undead had taught her. However, such clarifications slipped her mind as there was work to be done! New magic and knowledge to explore. Had she been loyal to any gods, she might just take enough after Xalious himself to join his worshippers, but alas, she did always have too stubborn a disposition to follow something divine. She kneels with her legs folded under her, a comfortable enough position for what they were about to embark on. “That does seem the most mild of the four, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t work, we have plenty of reading material until we figure out how to remove it.” She traces the tip of her finger over that particular description, going over the finer points they should have in mind. “So we must focus our negative energies into the cause being causing the target's throat to bleed. Its duration, until it’s actively dispelled. The effect as I stated before.” She lays out the cloth between them, setting the first quiver of cyan-tipped arrows in the middle of the circle inked on the fabric. “Arrows first, I suppose!” With that, she closes her eyes and begins to concentrate, blocking out the world around her and digging deep.

Genevieve’s assumptions and ignorance will be excused for now — it’s cursing time! She turns over the description of the Tyrant’s Dissent in her head, concentrating on specific aspects: the throat, the muteness, the magical resistance, the indefinite duration. A vague shape of the curse takes form, cyan, chaotic and murky. She feels her aura twitch with a dark enthusiasm; it’s time. Taking the same position as Celaeno, Genevieve exhales slowly and lets her gaze fall on the quiver, eyes glossy as she falls into her trance. Already, her aura’s dark tentacles unfurl and weave around the quiver, anxious to get to work. She has a fairly good understanding of the mechanisms of a curse at this point, but it doesn’t hurt to go through the motions… mostly to concentrate, preventing it from backfiring and affecting her as well. As she shuts her eyes, the Tyrant’s cyan shape continues to coalesce, and she further encourages this through negativity, specifically dwelling on the act of throat-cutting. When had she ever seen a sliced throat? Plenty of times, in fact; it was a quick, easy way to slaughter animals back on the farm, painless for them if she had analgesic herbs on her. But the malice there was gone; she’d never relished in killing animals like she relished in (thinking about) killing (some) people. Her thoughts wander, turn to hypotheticals. Killing her grandfather with a razor seems a pleasant idea. Genevieve allows this image to hold, keen to emphasize the hatred, the -malice- that pours forth once she begins to think of him. It’s all too easy to see the curse come to fruition. Her mouth opens to repeat the dreaded words, anticipating it to be in unison with Celaeno’s: “And may your prey suffer the fate of the Tyrant’s Dissent!” Her voice is somehow projected, louder than usual, her enmity giving it vigor. She opens her eyes and allows her presence to do the rest, watching those slick oil tentacles slither into the arrows and imbue it with that sinful imagery, specks of blue bursting from the quiver as they connect. The quiver tinges a bright blue — bright like the sky above them — before the glow dissipates into particles of mana. The trance ends; she blinks, less exhausted than she believed she’d be; her gaze turns from the newly-cursed arrows to Celaeno, delighted with their apparent success. “I-I think we got it!” She’s obviously pleased with herself. “These next few curses appear to follow a similar pattern; are you ready?”

Celaeno had ruminated over that particular curse before, particularly dangerous for magic users, but never in too much depth. After all, she was better than that, stronger than that. She took the moment to indulge those vengeful desires to the fullest. All it would take was a prick, based on the specifics, as little as a spot of blood on the throat to render the target mute. Unable to cast, unable to beg, unable to scream. A certain man came to mind, an pure-blooded elf with dark hair the same shade as hers and similar grey eyes, tall and slim with black garb and an easy smile. It mocked her, and her face tenses as the image unfolds in her mind. A quick swipe over the surface of the throat, cyan tinted blood dribbling from the wound. That smirking mouth opened with a comment, only for nothing to come out. Horror blossomed on the man’s expression as he went to retaliate, only for his power to shrivel. True, she couldn’t burn him with her pyromancy, affect him with her runes, even test out her growing skills in necromancy on him. Yet there were many things one could do with a deft hand and a little knife… Her lungs burn and her stomach churns as her energy pools with Genevieve’s, the necrotic taint lashing out against her organs fueling the potency of her contribution as a reminder of the one who’d inflicted it on her. Her power may not have manifested as visually, but one would certainly feel the hate radiating around her, that darkness that broiled under the surface. As the curse finishes, the emotions remained, but she felt as if something had sucked the better part of her stamina out of her. Genevieve’s reply would be a fit of hacking, fresh blood coming out with the specks of bile. Her skin paled to a more sallow shade with a sheen of sweat percolating all over. She stretched for her pack, digging inside for something. More heaving clawed at her stomach as a subtle, dormant aura inside her body, radiating out from her chest, flared to life around her organs. “I need...potion.” And that was on top of the usual nose bleed…

Panic rises to Genevieve’s face as she belatedly realizes the state that Celaeno is in. Her senses are first pricked by the muted resonance of her aura flaring into something fierce, a sudden roar of raw energy that originates at the enchanter’s chest. Seconds later does she recognize how haggard her complexion has become, almost corpselike if it wasn’t for the thin layer of sweat. Needless to say, she’s in a considerable amount of pain. “U-uh, um,” she attempts to formulate an assurance but can’t get a proper word out, terrified beyond belief. What had happened to poor Celaeno to cause such a reaction? Had her magic backfired — or perhaps Genevieve’s? The latter thought twists her guts into knots. She springs to action, kneeling down next to her sick companion. “H-h-here, le-let me find you that,” the necromancer spurts out, voice as gentle as a panicked girl can be, scrambling through the bag for something suitable. A bony arm would sling itself around Celaeno’s shoulders while using her free hand to search the pack. It feels -wrong- to shove her aside and paw through her things like this — the rules of the Crane household die hard — but sheer terror overrides any courtesy she’d possess otherwise. After considerable searching, with all manner of cooking instruments strewn across the yellowed grass, she procures a small container of what -appears- to be the potion in question. She swishes it for a brief second as if the liquid will scry the future — it doesn’t, but it’s the only thing she can find, and decides this is better than nothing. Genevieve attempts to steer Celaeno’s head to face her, removing the cap and holding out the potion for her to drink. “Cela, let’s — I-I don’t mind doing the s-s-spellwork if, um, you aren’t entirely up to it,” she insists, her breathing unsteady, frantic. “W-we can take a break, if, um, that’s okay…” The quivers rest across from them as if awaiting to be imbued; they’ll have to wait.

Genevieve would find a little cluster of those vials stored away in an inner pocket of the pack, unfortunately rather deep in as the human discovered. Did they hint at something chronic? Celaeno snatched the vial away and poured it down her throat between fits. She closes her eyes, her mouth a stiff line as she holds it shut, as if that would keep in what her heaving stomach wanted to empty out. It takes a few minutes of her sitting there, crumpled in place, before her breathing seems to come easier and the coughs subside. She takes her first deep breath, a blessed feeling she was learning to cherish with every new spell she tried. Her gauntlet fingers clench to fists, their joints creaking with an angry squeal. “I...I’ll be fine. This will happen every time, so I need to get used to it if I’m to advance at all, at least until this bothersome taint is removed. I...I can manage the rest with your help. I want to continue. It only meant consuming one of these after each batch and waiting a few minutes for me to recover. By then end, I’m sure I’ll need a long nap but...at least it will be finished.” She rubs her chest, teeth gritting together. “This is one of those messes I need to clean up. But I refuse to let it stop me from practicing.” Some of the fire in her voice dies as she casts an apologetic frown the other woman’s way. “I...perhaps should have warned you about that first. I honestly forgot amidst all the excitement and I sincerely thought it wouldn’t be that severe with us combining our energies. Are you...still willing to continue?”

“Celaeno, I…” she’s more or less at a loss for words, kneeling slack-jawed next to her. She dabs at the pools of blood and bile with her coat — it looks as though she just botched a murder. “I…” she wants to ask ‘Why does this happen to you?’ or ‘Explain to me when this started!’ but a tiny, tiny part of her tells her to just keep her hand on her shoulder, tell her to breathe, to give her space. To listen and understand, not prod. As if their roles could be switched and she’d be in Cela’s place; what would she want in that moment? This is Genevieve’s empathy for other people (rather than animals — she’ll always feel for them), something that she doesn’t entirely understand, but has somehow managed to develop slowly but surely. Celaeno, thankfully, is a recipient of this, and instead of putting her on the spot, the necromancer fumbles for several more vials of the potion and sets them between the two. As her companion recovers from the damage, Genevieve already has her presence in check, inky-black gaze lingering on the quivers as she recites the curses in her head. She acknowledges Cela’s explanations with a slow nod, but doesn’t keep her eyes off of the second bundle, a malachite green. “I understand… but I -insist- you keep your energy to a minimum. If the pain gets to be unbearable, stop. I certainly don’t mind leading this considering the excess magic at my disposal. And seeing you hurt makes me…” she pauses, eyes suddenly watery. “It hurts -me-, and I can’t quite fathom why. It’s not characteristic of me. I-I’m not very, um, empathetic. But Celaeno,” she takes a brief glance at her before returning her focus to the arrows, “promise me after this that I can rent you a bed at the Destrider to rest in. And that we’ll find a way to help you with your condition. Us.” Before she can answer, Genevieve already has her eyes shut and the Wandering Child on her mind. In her steady grip is one of the unopened vials, waiting patiently to be consumed.

Celaeno gave Genevieve a grateful smile. The blood still staining her teeth made it grislier than she meant, but her eyes showed her intent well enough. “I also understand what you mean. I’ll do my best to moderate my output, for your sake and mine.” It was odd, having someone so new fuss over her and yet not feeling the same nervous hesitation that made it so awkward. She’d felt it toward only a few other people before that, the beginning of attachment’s hooks sinking in. “I’d like that. Though you don’t need to waste your money paying for an inn. The Tower has dormitories with surprisingly comfy cots I’ve been staying at. There’s a nice, secluded little corner I typically stay. Perhaps we can be neighbors if you’d also like to rest there.” But if Genevieve insisted, then she would accept the room. She took a deep breath, relishing the feeling before steeling herself in preparation for the seven other bundles still remaining. They still had quite a bit more work to do, and odds were they would both sleep very well that night, wherever it was.