RP:The Word Vomit Curse
Summary: Josleen puts out an advertisement at Kelay Tavern asking for help in dispelling a curse. Arkhen's favorite paladin Kelovath replies and visits Xalious. Josleen tells him all the details she thinks he needs to solve the mystery of the curse. Lots and lots of personal details. To her horror she discovers that Kelovath needed none of those details, and simply removes the curse through holy magic. The leave each other's company mutually embarrassed, and, in Josleen's case, curse free.
Or is she?
dun dun dun
The Dancing Destrier
Kelovath enjoyed being in taverns and inn. Public places of any kind, really. This was the first time being within this establishment, but it seemed as good as any other. Of course, this one didn’t have Nancy the barmaid. Only Kelay Tavern had her. That was his most favorite thing about Kelay. He’d do his usual thing and go up to the bar, order a drink, and then proceed to not drink it. Old habits. Although he had never been inside this place before, he did happen to recognize a few of the mages seated by the fireplace. It had been years since seeing them, but to Kelovath, that meant too long to insert himself back into their lives. They seemed happy. Too happy for a war or battle. No point in asking them for help. His gaze returned to his untasted drink and shortly after he decided to pray to Arkhen. Almost silent words escaped his lips, but one word always stood out. “Arkhen.” That name would always be spoken aloud.
Kelovath walks in on the tail end of Josleen’s matinee performance. The matinee audience usually consists of the elderly (such as those mages Kelovath recognized), but in these troubling times the audience also harbors the afraid. Instead of the usual sing-along bar ditties, the fiddler sings epic poems of past heroes vanquishing Arrecation and the rest of the dark immortals. Stories of good triumphing over evil -- that’s the ticket these days, that’s the hope they need. Kelovath in his shiny armor and unmistakably Arkhen-minded slant earns him a shout out as Josleen improvises and includes both Arkhen and his paladins as the heroes in her song. When the song concludes she lifts her mead off a stool and says to the gathered few in that rehearsed, show-boaty manner of a seasoned performer, “To the heroes! The sung, unsung, fallen, and those yet to come. A shot for the paladin. Hear hear!” “Hear hear!” the (small) crowd responds, each lifting their own drinks in a toast.The barkeep pours out a shot of local potato liquor (it’s nasty/an acquired taste) for the paladin and slides it across the varnished bartop so it stops just beneath Kelovath’s nose. Josleen takes a bow, arms extended on either side, holding the fiddle and bow in each hand. She’s dressed like a conservative portrait artist’s vision of the perfect provincial girl. A floral dress that doesn’t reveal too much skin, but is form fitting at the torso before falling freely from the hips to just below the knees. A little rose on the lips and cheeks, a clip in her golden brown hair, but nothing garish, all sweet and yielding. The look is especially popular with the older crowd, the templars of the old ways and modesty. It is also Josleen’s day-to-day uniform off stage too, so that works out well for all. She waves at the crowd as she steps off the slightly raised platform and begins packing her fiddle.
Kelovath finished his prayer after a short time and out of habit, brown eyes were looking for Nancy. She wasn’t there, obviously, but he couldn’t help himself. He listened to Josleen’s loudly spoken words, a smile starting along his features as the mention of Arkhen wove its way through the crowd. Looking down at the drink given to him, he was quite unsure as to what he should do in this situation. The paladin didn’t drink. Nor did he even really enjoy the smell of alcohol. Out of respect, he did at least lift the drink in a salute. When the bard had finished packing up her gear, Kelovath thought it would be a polite thing to thank her for the drink. And then probably move on. Although, he didn’t really know how long he should wait before moving onto his next stop. He wasn’t really sure where his next stop would be, now that he thought about it. Probably to find Jesen, or maybe visit Sage. Anything to avoid going to Trist’oth. He hadn’t seen Tiphareth in a long time, and the paladin was quite content with that. He knew an eventual trip would need to be made, along with a trip to Enchantment. And Gualon. So busy…But for a good cause. Approaching the bard when the moment was right, he spoke, “Thank you for the drink, miss…” Obviously waiting for the bard to introduce herself.
Josleen, still bent over the case as she polishes the varnished wood of the fiddle, looks up at Kelovath with a reflexive, practiced smile. As soon as their eyes meet her uncanny woman’s intuition connects this paladin with the paladin who wrote to her. “Josleen. Say, are you…?” She rights herself to get a better look at him, her case still open. The thought of Kelovath reminds her of the curse, which she had momentarily tucked into the back of her mind during her performance. Her smile fades slowly and the weight of her troubles settles once more upon her shoulders. He also reminds her of someone else and her heart grows heavy.
Kelovath said to you, "Kelovath Khasmin. I believe there is a curse you'd like removed, yes? I would love help you, if I am able."
Josleen glances around as Kelovath talks of curses aloud in a bar full of people who have had enough tragedy and bad news. “Yes… Do you mind stepping outside?” She lowers her voice conspiratorially and leans in to speak in a low voice. “I don’t know if you’re aware but a lot of darkness has befallen the village through the autumn and winter, and haunts us now into the spring. I wouldn’t want to upset anyone by adding on my own woes.” She jerks her brows towards an old couple to her left. Her lips mouth soundlessly in slightly exaggerated movements to help him read her lips, “Busybodies.” If he agrees, she leads him outside through the service door so they can talk in a sunny alley. As far as alleys goes, this is among the least creepy. There’s even a windchime of colorful blown glass and a quaint herb and tomato garden. It’s hard to believe dark times ever have or ever will plague this picturesque village. Sure, the town square’s paved ground looks like it was recently cratered, but the villagers have set about repairing that quickly. The crater is almost completely repaired, save for a slice of the crater pie. Once the grass springs up around the new cobblestones no one will ever know that any violence occurred here. Josleen pulls from her purse (genuine Kreekitaka brand, swag) a black rose. “I cannot destroy this. It haunts me.” She hands the rose to him. “I have tossed it in the garbage, buried it, burned it, torn it to pieces. It always reappears within a day.”
Kelovath glanced over at the elderly couple and nodded to the bard. Soon after, he did indeed follow her to the alley. The village really did seem like the perfect place to settle down and grow old. From what the paladin had seen, there were a lot of older people around. Who knows what kind of gossip is traveling around even now. A paladin and a bard sneaking off into an alley in the middle of the day. Scandalous, no doubt. Upon accepting the rose, Kelovath could feel something from it. He wasn't sure what it was exactly, but the longer he held it within his armored hands, the feeling grew. His eyes lingered on the evil object as he spoke. "Yes...It is cursed. I'm not sure that it is unholy magic, exactly...But it is bound to you." A low 'hmm' comes from the paladin of Arkhen. A smile follows as his eyes lift back to Josleen. "I should be able to remove whatever magic is lingering here. I do have a few questions though, if you don't mind? Removing the curse will take a bit of time anyways." It didn't take long for Kelovath's magic to show itself. A golden, obviously holy light emitted from his hands and wrapped around the rose. "Who gave you the rose? And why are you so desperate to be removed from it?"
Josleen has enough history of scandal to fill a book. All the floral dresses and pretty demure smiles in the world can’t dissuade gossips from spinning stories. She watches Kelovath inspect the rose. His mannerisms and chivalry remind her of someone else and her skin goosepimples at the eeriness of their similarity. Her eyes grow distant as she travels back in time on a chariot of memory, but his voice quickly jerks her back to the present. Kelovath’s voice differs from the man in her past, at least that. “Um…” She rubs at her collarbone in a nervous tic. “About a month ago I was a guest at Governor Tristram’s estate in Gualon. I was only staying the one night. In the evening… a monster. Some sort of mutilated creature, partially decaying but also not natural. The decay, I mean, was not natural. It didn’t seem like a reanimated corpse, but that’s the best way to describe it. So this creature invaded my room… then my bed. When I woke up it was hovering over me.” She winces at her own words then corrects, “Not hovering exactly… straddling? It was on top of me.” She swallows hard. Although she is very much a victim in this story, it’s still embarrassing to tell. “It demanded that I… love it. Which of course I refused. Though I tried to trick it by saying that I was agreeable -- that I did love it -- but that I had to first go to the bathroom or call upon the service of a maid. Any excuse to leave the room, really. It didn’t force anything, but it also locked the room and refused to let me go. During this, it took on the form of, uh…” Her face flushes bright red as quickly as a snap of the fingers. She wouldn’t share this with even her friends, but a paladin needs all the information to break a curse. It’s like talking to a therapist, or confessing to a priest. “Past lovers… of mine.” She watches him closely to gauge his reaction and see if there is any judgment there. “Two. Just two.” Beat. “Ok well, maybe three. The point is, not many. Three. It’s three.” She coughs girlishly in her throat. “Eventually I was able to escape into the adjoining bathroom, and there a creature that did look very much undead, and smelt it too, attacked me. It choked me and slammed me against the wall. It knew me by name and said that I was selfish and deserved what I had coming. Or, no... something like that.” She pauses and looks skyward as she tries to find the words. “He said I was vain, beautiful on the outside, ugly within -- for refusing to love on a bed invader!” Her tone ticks up like ‘can you believe this horsecrap?’ She waits for validation that refusing to make love to monsters is definitely not vain but sensible. Once she has his reassurance, she nods and continues, “The undead told me to remember him, then killed the first creature. It gave me this rose, then disappeared.”
Kelovath kept his magic on pace that was need. All the while, he listened to the bards story. And boy, it was quite the story. The paladin thought for sure if anyone else was listening to such a tale, they'd laugh the poor girl right out of whatever building she was in. A sadness formed upon the paladin's features as the the story unfolded. There was little to no reaction when the mention of past lovers were brought up. Kelo knew a thing or two about that topic. He had nodded here and there as well, following along to each spoken word, but did not laugh at the changed tone from the woman. A quick smile was offered, but not much else. "I see..." His magic at that point grew in power. Any unholy or necromatic magic had little chance when it came to a holy magic user. Even less of a chance when that user is a paladin. And basically zero chance with an experienced one. With a flash, the black rose lost it's unnatural color and was now a bright red rose, as it should be. As it probably always was, before the evil magic wrapped itself around the flower. A few whispered words came from the paladin. "Thank you, Arkhen." Really though, that was all Kelovath. He smiled brightly to Josleen and gave the rose back. "Beautiful, eh?"
Josleen turns the same shade of red as the rose. To her, the black rose’s re-spawning was proof of its tenacious power. She gave him all those details thinking that he, like a detective, needs to know every little detail in order to solve the problem. Now she realizes belatedly that he didn’t actually need to know any of it to dispel the rose of its curse. So why in Arkhen’s spit-covered beard did she tell him all of that?! Her hand lifts involuntarily to take the red rose, but she’s too stupefied by the quick fix to say thank you, or anything else for that matter. Her lips pull into a hybrid expression of a smile and a grimace. Someone hit crtl+alt+del, because she’s frozen.
Kelovath didn't really want to pull Josleen from her crazy daze. There was so much emotion going on that even he didn't know what to do exactly. The paladin felt like there was much more going on here than the bat-s*** crazy story he heard. But for the moment, he continued to watch the bard go through her extreme emotional ordeal. He wasn't really sure how long he patiently stood there waiting, but it did indeed feel like it was long enough. To jump-start the woman back to reality, Kelovath let loose a bit of his healing magic in the direction of Josleen. Should her body accept it, he figured that would probably do the trick. If not, he'd probably just leave. Probably at least let the innkeeper know she was back her. Boy, then the rumors would really start flying. Josleen the bard frozen in place, while holding a rose that people would surely think the paladin gave her. Would make for a good story, no doubt.
Josleen doesn’t stay frozen for long. It’s only a second or two, but humans are finely tuned to the normal rhythms of conversation and behavior. Two seconds is noticeable, and plenty of time for Kelovath to think that maybe she is broken and in need of a little healing. She feels the healing magic penetrate (ayyy) her skin and snaps out of her momentary paralysis. Surely Kelovath can understand how telling a complete stranger about a bedroom invasion and past lovers, then finding out that overshare was completely unnecessary, has a way of unleashing anxiety. Anxiety is never rational. “What are you doing? Is this for the curse too?” She sees the faint glow around his finger tips and cocks her head questioningly.
Kelovath startles a bit when she finally snaps out of her daze and looks down at his hands. "This?" He asked like he had no idea what was going on. Looking back to the bard he quickly nods. "Y-yes. It is. Um." This paladin in particular was a terrible liar. Not really part of all that training he went through when he was younger-ish. "You...Have touched the rose many times, yeah?" Just a terrible liar. "It's to rid you of any lingering effects, should there have been any...You know...Effects." He cleared his throat and began looking around the alley. "D-did you need anything else, Josleen?" He wasn't even looking at her. Instead, his attention was out toward the end of the alley, back toward the village.
Josleen squints at this horrible lie. She, on the other hand, is a triple threat bard: singer, dancer, actress. She lies without batting an eye. It’s the grease to her social machinations. Never encountered a problem she couldn’t solve with a lie. And so she lies now, pretending to believe him when she does not. “You’re very thorough.” There is a slight hint of snark in her tone that betrays the fact she knows he lying. But in her experience with paladin, they’re slow to pick up on subtle social cues such as sarcasm, snark, condescension. Maybe Kelovath bucks that trend, but Josleen doesn’t bet on it. “Well…” Well, there is the issue of a twenty-foot monster that was summoned here in Xalious by necromancers, a creature meant to usher in the end of mortals, a creature who wants to ascend to godhood and rival Vakmatharas in his wickedness. So, yes, there is definitely more a paladin of Arkhen could help with, but, Josleen can’t bring herself to continue with this awkward exchange. “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful. I shan’t keep you any longer.”
Kelovath said to you, "Yes. And thank you for..." He had nothing to thank her for. Why did he say that? Instead, he just kind of started to turn away from the woman and head down toward the end of the alley. Not even the end he was previously looking at. Before getting too far from the bard, he did turn slightly and speak, "You know how to get a hold of me, should anything else be needed."