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RP:The Death of a Familiar

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Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc

Part of the Magic, Madness, and Mayhem Arc

Summary: Lanara and Valrae run into each other while shopping in Cenril. The witches grab a bite and catch up but are interrupted when a man attacks Lana’s familiar, Tanner. Lanara attacks the man and manages to seriously injure his eye but the golden retriever had already perished. Valrae attempts to comfort her as she mourns and Lana swears vengeance.

Cenril Market Place

Lanara walks up and down the rows of vendors at the market in Cenril, her sandals making imprints in the sand as she peruses the vast array of wares. It was her third time at the market in a two week period, as the witch couldn’t seem to find the perfect gem with the right amount of energy for her pentacle. One that studied the craft as heavily as her would understand that you couldn’t use any old gemstone; it had to have the correct ‘hum’ when held in your hand. And so, the brunette approaches the fourth gemstone stand of the morning and she eyes the rose quartz stones first, followed by the amethyst offerings. Her left palm is outstretched as she slowly drifts it over each of the offered gems, pausing here and there, though not getting the full effect she desired. The keeper of the oceanfront shop is trying to sell her a jade stone and Lana shakes her head, though her palm comes to an abrupt halt as it rests above a peridot gem. How peculiar, she thinks, as she doesn’t own any of that particular stone that she can recall, and she tilts her head, as though considering. “Hm… How much is this stone?” The small object is plucked from the bin and she holds it atop her palm, testing the feel of it against her flesh as the saleswoman drones on and on and finally names her price. “Sold!” Lanara opens her coin purse and forks over the payment, as her chocolate hues take in the sights of the place, and she scans the faces of those nearest. She was a true people watcher.

The morning had dawned lavender and blue and hot. Valrae had fallen asleep near the opened window of her small rented room as she listened to the thunderstorm that had rolled in after the darkest hours of the night. There was a terrible pain in her neck and the air was sticky and warm enough that she couldn’t find the energy to make tea. She settled for water and an apple that she crunched into as she slipped out to steal the neighbor’s newspaper. Val skimmed the usual headlines with nothing particular sticking out, beyond a fluff piece on the dress Uma had worn to the Gala, until she flipped to the back. A review of “The Hammer of Witches”. It claimed the book was audacious, controversial, unhinged, sloppy and worst of all dangerous. Despite an overall unfavorable opinion the writer still summarized it as required reading. Val scowed and tossed the paper. The uneasy feeling the article left with her followed her as she washed and dressed for the day. … The marketplace was bustling with the noon time crowd and the sun was high and bright beyond the shimmering barrier by the time Valrae arrived. Cenril was always buzzing with people and activity but it had seemed to have grown even more crowded with the recent surge in witch refugees. The seaside city became a popular place for those seeking asylum once they elected a witch as mayor. Their influence could be seen even amongst the crowded, informal stalls that dotted either side of the street. Witches selling tonics and herbal remedies, tools, felines from the West Side selling ‘genuine witch bags’ and other tourist trinkets along side the typical fisherman geared wares.

Valrae’s oversized, peach dyed bag was already heavy with herbs, teas and a yard of golden silk she’d splurged on before she made it near the bodega that sold books and newspapers. Soft copies of The Hammer of Witches sat on a stand above the penny novels and self help pamphlets. The witch wrinkled her nose, her fingers moving to fish out her coin purse before her mind had comprehended her own movements. She buys it quickly and guiltily, looking around as if she’d committed a crime as she pushes it into her bag with her other things. This is when she spots Lana. For a moment, her mind stalls. Where as she seen that face? But it doesn’t take long for the memories of fire and blood, a figure standing next to her on the altar, to flood her mind. Lanara! Valrae dodges through the crowd. “Hey!” She chirps, smiling. “It’s ah… Me,” Her voice drops to a whisper as she finally nears. “Val. Do you remember me?”

A golden short-haired retriever ambles happily through the crowd, his tail swaying from side to side, as he takes in all the scents, sounds, and sights, of this new location. Obedient beyond belief, even for being only six-months old, the young dog is never more than fifty feet or so away from his mistress. Those hunter green eyes always seem to land on the elf, and he watches as she exchanges coin for a rock, ever aloof, and at the ready to protect. His previous owner, Largakh, had perished in the line of duty, and though he had been but a puppy back then, he had made sure to pay extra close attention in his canine training classes so that it wouldn’t happen again. Now, he was older, stronger, and he even had his adult teeth! He was more than capable of taking down a bad guy and protecting Lanara! The aroma of fresh smoked sausage has his tan ears erect on his head as his nose twitches, and he darts into the next row of wares, and he spies the tent that houses the cause of his stomach rumbling. He could sneak away for a little taste, right? It wasn’t like Lana would get gobbled up by those boring rocks she was always petting, and everyone here smelled so good and seemed so friendly!

Lanara smiles at the seller and lowers the square gift box into her basket, which was already brimming with various types of herbs, candles, a few articles of clothing, and some choice cuts of carefully wrapped meat from the butcher’s stand. Adjusting the basket so that it rests against her hip, she glances to her left and right, before spying the familiar forty-pound pup sneakily hiding between two stalls. “Tanner!” She calls, her voice faintly rising above the crowd, but the pup doesn’t seem to hear her, as he runs in the opposite direction and down the next row of stalls. “That little mongrel!” Lana is muttering beneath her breath, her gaze trailing over to the book stand that she wished to browse in next, though with the dog having run off, she’s distracted and reconsidering. She had heard all about “The Hammer of Witches” from the newspaper and curiosity always had gotten the best of her, but she couldn’t leave Tanner to his own devices. There were some sick people in this realm, and she felt responsible for him as his newly appointed owner. Taking a few steps into the crowd, she loses sight of the dog and sighs, hoping that he would return soon.

A faint breeze sweeps through the area and Lana’s maxi-dress lightly billows against her ankles, causing a plume of sand to cover her sandals, and though most would be annoyed by the sudden gust, the witch is comforted. It was nature, the caress of the Goddess, and entirely welcome on this humid summer day. With the wind came the arrival of a friend and Lana expectantly looks over her shoulder, knowing that someone with a similar type of energy was going to make an appearance. She locks eyes with Valrae, a fellow witch that she had risked her life to have return to the lands, and though they didn’t share much of a history, her intuition told her that was all about to change. Moving the basket to her other hip, as she had been standing there for several minutes and the dog still had yet to return, she fixes Val with a warm smile and tilts her head to the side. “Of course I remember you! I could never forget the, uh, sku-steps, that were needed to bring you home. I’m sorry that we didn’t find each other sooner after that night… Are you well? How are things?” Her voice is at an even tone, and the market is so busy that not many seem to be paying attention, yet the elf is quick to maintain discretion for Valrae’s sake.

Valrae, in her disguise as Sara Grace, smiles sweetly at Lanara as the nervousness that had tightened her chest releases. Lana did recognize and remember her! “I am,” She answers, pushing at the strap of her heavy bag. “Things are… Well,” The witch glances around. The crowd was mixed and thriving, typical of the progressive melting pot of Cenril. “Fine, all things considering.” She holds her copy of The Hammer up as if offering explanation. “How have you been?” Valrae tucks a strand of curling, glamoured to look mousy and brown, hair behind her ear. “If you have time I’d love to steal you for a bite and catch up.” Something urgent flashed in the depths of her dark emerald eyes. If Lanara accepts the invitation, Valrae would lead them both away from the busy intersection and to a small food vendor where she’d insist on forking over the coin. Moving away from the vendor and the crowd with her spicy veggie kabob, the glamour disguised woman would lead them to a more private bench. Dropping her bag first, Valrae takes a bite of her kabob. “I’ve been meaning to send letter to you and your sister, actually,” She sits. “But I’m afraid it’s not good news. You’re probably not surprised,” A look of apology passes over the features of her face. “I’m sorry,”

Beyond them, something dark has followed Tanner’s happy trail through the bustling crowd. It pauses and moves with the young dog, waiting and watching in the shadows.

Lanara is delighted that Valrae used a glamour spell, and that she’s out and about in public. She knew the poor woman had been in hiding for quite some time, and that in some certain areas of the land, that she was still a wanted woman. “I’m glad that you are well… Considering…” For a moment, she forgets about the missing puppy, and she nods her head, seeing the urgency in those vivid green eyes and wondering if Valrae had news that concerned those that worshipped their craft. Without hesitation, the pair of them would wander over to a food vendor, and after bickering over who would pay the bill, Lana finally relents and lets her friend treat, “I’ll treat for dessert then, deal?” She winks, and for a moment, they are walking with their kebobs, enjoying the scents, sounds, and sights, of the busy marketplace. The women are oblivious to the creeping darkness that follows the blonde pup, as he manages to steal a row of sausage links, and wildly make a beeline behind a tree, enjoying his stolen goodies. Meanwhile, Val and Lana had found a somewhat secluded bench to eat their lunch on, and between bites, the elf listens to the apology. “Taly recently returned to the lands, after visiting Kelvar. She was even at the masquerade ball! So, no worries!” A pause. “Why are you sorry?” Lowering her vegetable kebob, she leans in, and lowers her voice, “Does this have to do with the apparition at the peace gala? I… I couldn’t stay very long, and I missed all the excitement. I have heard rumors…”

Valrae secretly enjoyed the bickering and nodded her agreement of Lanara treating for desert. Foot traffic was thin around the bench and so she let her shoulders relax. “I’m sorry trouble seems to follow me!” She answers honestly. “What have you heard about this Henry Cramer?” She asks, offering her paperback copy for the other witch to inspect. She tucks into her own food as Lana answers. “He made an appearance at Uma’s Gala, yup. He said a lot of things, all running along the same vein as what most of Larket spread in propaganda.” Her emerald eyes roll to the back of her head. “Same song and dance. ‘Witches are evil, witches need to be taken out’, yadah blah.” She makes air quotes with her free hand. “The only thing is, this guy also showed a lot of followers.” A shrug. “It -could- be a bluff, considering he was using illusions, but the thing is…” Valrae pauses to chew the inside of her cheek. “Not so long before, I was in Sage with Callum and Meri…” She tilts her head and squints. “You know them, right? I think so?” After a pause for an answer and another to clarify that they were in the forest because Valrae had agreed to apprentice him, she continues. “Well, we were attacked by these men wearing the same silver hammers.” She rehashes the whole story, pausing only when someone passing walked closer than she felt was comfortable. During her retelling, she roots around in her bag again until she finds the book she’d been searching for. It was another copy of The Hammer of Witches, only in elvish. “We found this off of the last guy, but before we could get any info from him an arrow from nowhere finished him off.” The witch pales.

“Inside,” She flips open the well used book, “We found these,” Loose pages filled with sketches of witches, names, aliases and even the locations of their homes were on them. There was one for Lanara, Talyara, Uma, Valrae, Callum, Astrid and even Uma, amongst other witches throughout the land. Each page had a monetary value along with it, Uma and Valrae’s being the two highest. “I can’t read elven,” Valrae admits sheepishly. “So I haven’t read this book but… The attack? These pages? When Cramer said ‘The hunt has begun’... I don’t think he was bluffing.” While the two of them speak, the dark thing that hunts Tanner takes form. From the shadows a man steps out, his face hidden and his dark clothing marked only with a silver warhammer on his chest.

Lanara is nibbling on a pepper when Valrae asks her what she knows on this Cramer character, and she helplessly shrugs, swallowing before speaking, “Not much more than he’s an author of a book that makes us all look like unstable mages, using ‘blood magic’ to corrupt the world and that all of our kind should be abolished. I assumed he was another psychopath, like Macon.” She rolls her eyes as well, those brown hues scanning the crowd for the blonde dog, and finally, out of the corner of her eye, she sees the wagging of his bushy tail from behind a tree. He was enjoying his stolen supper, and she smirks, shaking her head, and returning her attention to Valrae. “Yes. I know Meri, very well, in fact. She was there when I uncovered my skull… And when we uncovered Taly’s skull. And a few weeks ago, I finally met Callum, when they came to the sanctuary to adopt a puppy. I convinced them to take two! They are lovely people!” Her voice would drop, her eyes would suspiciously eye each passerby, and once they were alone again, Lana would take hold of the book written in elvish. “I happen to be an elf, you know? Let me see…” Thankfully, she speaks full Sylvan, and she scans the pages, briefly, before quirking a brow and looking into Valrae’s eyes, her mouth slightly agape. “They… They have our private information. But how?!” Scanning the pages, Lana is shocked to see that she’s third on the list, along with a price beside her name, and a list of all her previous addresses, and her current cottage, in Sage Forest. Even her animal sanctuary was listed as a place of interest, and there was a list of all her familiars. Lana’s face pales, as she looks at each page, her eyes widening at her sister’s price, and her known locations. “This. Is. Crazy. I… I think it’s someone on the inside. I mean, it has to be, right? Who would know all of this stuff, about all of us? Could it be a fellow witch, working for this Cramer, guy?”

Lanara :: Tanner happily gobbles up each sausage link, a total of ten, his tail wagging all the while. He is such a happy-go-lucky pup, so as the creeping darkness nears him, he lifts his head, and playfully swings the cord from the sausage to side to side. His mossy green gaze looks up at the male with the silver war hammer emblem on his shirt, and his tail begins to wag even faster. Did he want to play?! Knowing that his fur mommy was browsing the wares, or perhaps meeting with a friend, Tanner doesn’t see the harm in a little game of tug-o-war with a friendly stranger. The man was even coming closer, his hands outstretched, just begging him for a game! Shaking his head from side to side, he unleashes a little growl, rolling onto his back, and gnawing on the cord. The veins in the man’s neck are bulging, his eyes narrowed on the pup, knowing that it belonged to Number Three on the ‘list’ of witches. His blood is boiling, and he’s consumed with hatred for their magical kind, as he aims to take out his anger on the elf’s familiar. “Give me that!” He bellows, charging towards the playful puppy, aiming to grab the cord and wrap it around his neck. Tanner, however, is too fast, and thinks that the game is starting to get interesting. Naturally, in pure puppy fashion, he engages in a game of keep away, and darts to the left and right, before circling the tree several times. He was having a blast!

Valrae nods emphatically. “Yep and yep on all counts.” She snorts at the Macon remark, inclined to agree even if she’d recently been working close to Josleen. “It’s pure biased lunacy.” The witch finished her kabob and swipes at a few food crumbs that had landed in her lap. “Oh!” She chirps, embarrassment coloring her cheeks.”I forget,” She clears her throat and mumbles another apology. The look crossing Lana’s face sends a chill down Valrae’s spine. A frown bows her lips. “What?” The other witch seems to pale several shades. She’d known it was bad news but… Lanara’s reaction really drove it home for her. Val swallows hard. “I don’t know,” She says, shaking her head. It would make sense but instinctively she wanted to push the idea away. One of their own? Surely it couldn’t be! It was Valrae’s turn to pale. “Maybe with all of his ‘followers’ he’s had us tracked?” This sounded thin even in her own ears. “The only thing I’m sure of is that they mean business and this is bigger than ‘freedom of speech’,” Her brows furrow. “I think when someone tells us they mean to hunt and kill us it’s high time we start believing them...” The witch shrugs again. “I also think it’s beyond time the rest of us meet again. Those of us that hold skulls?” This was posed as a question. Valrae’s face softens hopefully. “With Talyara back, we could all meet. Maybe we could use them for good?” She turns her face to the busy street. “Maybe I’m grasping at nothing but there should be something standing between our people and those that keep looking for ways to eradicate us. A coven or something for -all- of us. A community.”

The man curses as the golden, playful dog alludes him. In blinding anger, he kicks out at the animal’s ribs. His hand fumbles underneath his tunic, finally grasping the hilt of his silver dagger as Tanner yips sadly. Suddenly, the game is over and the air is charged with the promise of danger. Before the poor dog can flee, the man throws himself on top of him. They both go down, wriggling and fighting. Tanner manages to sink his teeth into the man’s forearm and he screams, his free arm slashing down quickly with the dagger.

Lanara isn’t sure what to think about all of this, though she knows this news is bad. Very bad. All of the witches on that list, and everyone they loved, were in grave danger. It was a witch hit list! “I don’t want to think the worst either… Maybe it was one of the survivors of Larket? Maybe they decided to band together with Cramer, and work against our kind, to save their own hide? It could be anyone… I do think it’s wise that we only trust those that hold a skull… One that wished you and Uma harm, surely wouldn’t have gone through such serious trials to retrieve the skull and then brought you back only to take you out again. Right?” Her lips curve in a warm smile, the anxiety she was feeling slowly dissipating as Valrae mentions the idea of a coven. She’d been part of one, back in Kelvar, but that seemed like eons ago, and the group no longer remained. “I think a coven is a wonderful idea. We need a place where we feel safe, to practice our craft, learn new things, share our feelings, and plan some defense for these types of situations…” Lana sighs, her gaze dropping to her half-eaten lunch, “I think that they fear us, because they don’t understand us…But, they –should- fear us, because we have magic that can wreck havoc on their lives! Instead, we are forced to cower in fear, and stay in hiding. I feel like we’re at a crossroads. If we take a stand, and show we are not to be toyed with, then we are becoming the reason for their hatred! But… If we just sit idly by, we are endangering those we care about. We have to be smart about this, and maybe take a consensus, before we act, or don’t act… What do you think?” Just then, a piercing yelp is heard, not more than a hundred feet away, and Lana’s gaze instinctively turns towards the last place she had seen Tanner. The puppy was being kicked in the ribs, and then a brute of a man had jumped on top of him! The skewer is dropped to the ground and the witch is off, sprinting through the crowd of people, her heart beating wildly in her chest as she runs to the rescue of her beloved canine.

Lanara :: The market is now a jumble of shoppers pushing each other, screaming at the assault of the retriever, and pointing at the brunette that launches herself on top of the male bearing the silver war hammer emblem. “NOOOOO!” Lana kicks and punches the man, aiming to strangle him with her bare hands, though her attempts are futile. Tanner lies on his side, blood rapidly pouring out of his abdomen, coating his silken blonde fur in gore. His tongue hangs out of his mouth, the cord from the sausage links laying haphazardly a few feet away, as he takes his final breath and closes his expressive green eyes. The elf is beside herself as she digs her nails into the man’s face, her pointer finger clawing wildly at his left eye and causing him to curse. “Get off of me, you little witch! You did this! He was YOUR familiar! One down… The rest to follow!” Unable to comprehend his words, and only seeing red, Lana forgets about the threat to witches, she forgets her lunch with Valrae, and she begins to mutter an incantation. She’s cut off; however, as the man grabs her by her hair and in a single motion hurls her against a tree. Landing with a thud, Lana groans, the wind knocked out of her, as she weakly curls up against her dead dog, tears streaming down her cheeks. Tanner was her faithful companion, the first animal to have been adopted from her sanctuary, and the last remaining shred that reminded her of Largakh. Heartbroken, with blood spilling from the side of her head, she clutches her ribs, and weeps over the body of the poor pup whose life ended so suddenly. The man is screaming and holding his eye, until he turns and locks eyes with Valrae.

Valrae finds herself nodding again. “No doubt some spillover bigots from Larket have joined up. It’s easier to think someone from there would do something like this… But right now, keeping our circle small is keeping our circle -safe-. We can’t afford not too anymore.” Her emerald eyes are still scanning the crowds around them. Witches could be picked out among them, those that made no attempt to hide themselves as they might elsewhere in the realm. “They should,” Valrae agrees. “We have to be careful of the moves we make, yes. But I’m tired of not making any at all!” Frustration darkens her tone. Her former life had been filled with action. She’d been moving against Larket in the shadows and conspiring to save her people with Tychus. In this life, she was only hiding. “A group decision,” Valrae echos. “It’s a good idea. Better to have support before we make any moves. I don’t think inaction is the answer but I’m not sure everyone will agree… If we coul-” Suddenly, Lanara was running.

Valrae doesn’t think, only abandons the bench and follows after Lana as quickly as she’s able. Her heels clicked loudly against the stone path, sinking into the soft dirt near the tree. She cannot see beyond Lanara to know what’s happening, cannot see as the man plunges his silver dagger into poor Tanner’s smaller golden body. Close enough to hear the terrible sound and smell the sudden, coppery tang of blood in the air, Valrae shouts. Everything suddenly happens very quickly. Lana throws herself at the murderous man and they struggle, Valrae screams again, but is too far behind to help before the other witch is tossed aside and crashes into a tree. On autopilot, she lunges. Still holding his injured eye, the man and Valrae go down in a tangle of limbs and curses. A crowd has gathered now. They’re shouting, pointing at poor Tanner and heartbroken Lanara. One well meaning girl crouches near her and attempts to soothe her. The man pushes at Valrae but she’s landed with knees pressed into his abdomen, she brings her elbow down onto his nose before he manages to overpower her. Her heart sings, even as she’s thrown off. Khitti would be proud! By now, men from the crowd have stepped up and are attempting to get a hold of him. No one likes a puppy killer! The crowd had turned full mob. Valrae rushes to Lanara as the man flees and the mob gives chase. She repeats the witches name, brushing at her hair, careful of where she’s bleeding, attempting to bring her back to the moment. “Lana, I’m so sorry… We’ll get him home, okay?” Her own eyes fill with tears. “Lets get you both out of here.”

Lanara sobs uncontrollably, her blood and tears mingling with the blood and fur of the dog that she clings to, as though her tears could bring him back to life. Tanner lies there, the warmth leaving his body as his mistress runs her fingers idly over his head, petting him, as though he were just taking a nap. “Tan-Tanner… He-He-He killed my baby!” Unable to lift her head to see the mob that had given chase to the dog killer, she cradles the dogs head in her hands and places one last kiss to his black nose. “I love you… I’m so sorry that I took my eyes off of you for once second. I promise… I promise to get justice. I will give karma a push, and get vengeance. You have not died in vain, my precious puppy… I love you so much… Go now, and be with your father… Larz and you will watch over me.” Fresh tears spill onto her cheeks, as Valrae drops to kneel at her side, and gently runs her fingers through her long chestnut waves. The two women lock eyes, and were she not so distraught over the loss of her companion; she would have given the woman a high-five for breaking the bastard’s nose. However, there’s no clapping of hands or smiles, its two witches sitting beneath a tree, beside the carcass of a cherished familiar, both in tears and full of despair. Lana hears the words that Valrae’s speaking, and the crowd slowly departs, as a random girl gives them a blanket from her stall to wrap Tanner in, so that they could properly transport him to Sage Forest. She would bury him behind the cottage she shared with her sister. “Okay…Let’s bring him home.” Wrapping her arms around the blonde, Lana sobs on her friends shoulder, and after several agonizing minutes, her sadness turns to anger. Leaning back, she applies pressure to her head wound and keeps her voice low, “I know my vote, Val… I vote that we act; we act quickly, and take out those that hunt us… Before we are all hunted. They will become our prey.”