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Breaking the Surface

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1 Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:54 am

It's been an entertaining week with Ljuba flitting back and forth between coming when I call and tending to the bedridden Marnin. I take no small amount of joy out of being able to beckon her away from the quietly seething man who made a point to text a not so subtle threat in my direction on the second night I'd pulled her away.

The memory of it still brings a smirk to my lips... which must be an unnerving sight as I tuck the phone back into my pocket and circle around the chair sitting in the middle of the room.

"Please, sir," the tiny man whimpers from the chair, his hands and legs bound to the aged wood. "I swear, I won't tell a soul!"

"I know you won't, Harvey," I say, my tone oily and patient as I continue to walk around him, a bored nail dragging across his exposed skin every now and again. I can't help the grin that comes with every cry of discomfort as dark streaks creep out from every point of contact.

"Really, it wouldn't matter if you did," I admit as I come back around to squat down in front of the quivering man, my teeth unnerving him as I smile broadly as I reach up to dig a nail into the back of his hand. To his credit, he manages not to cry out as I hold it there to continue our chat.

"No one would believe you, if you did... and I would ruin you if you dared. But, you see, we have a new witch in the ranks. Pretty thing, tight little pussy, bit scary. But I think she's forgotten how scary she can be." I frown sadly at that as I reach up, my touch hovering just a hair's breadth from the man's trembling neck as he stretches his head back to keep away from me. Sighing, I drop my hand and get back up to wander over to the workbench situated against the back wall.

"Fortunately, Harvey, my friend," I smile as I glance back at him. "You present the perfect opportunity for... well, practice. Not to worry, though. If all goes well, you won't remember any of this."

"And if it doesn't?" he asks worriedly. "Go to plan, I mean..?"

"Then I'll kill you while she watches," I smile fondly. "She's expressed a distaste for murder, you see. It will motivate her not to fail me next time."

"But!" he yelps, squirming frantically to loosen the restricting bonds around his wrists. "What about this time?! If she knows-,"

"Then I won't get to cherish the look of horror on her face when I kill you," I frown as I grab a length of thick rope from the bench and come over to force it into his mouth, tying it tightly to prevent him from speaking. "There's a good man," I smirk, grabbing his face roughly as he continues trying to thrash away from me. "You just sit tight and behave yourself, and maybe I won't push the limits of her sadistic nature tonight."

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2 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:29 am

I can barely find the address Lavellan's sent me, my nerves getting frayed as I wander deeper into what appears to be a long-abandoned neighborhood. I'm cursing him for what I only assume is some weird fuck session as I make my way into the house once I've found it, the sounds of someone's whimpering leaving my expression pinched as I follow it.

"Oh, what the fuck." I groan audibly as I step into the dimly lit room to find Lavellan pacing around a bound man in a chair, my shoulders sagging as I look at him impatiently. 

"If he's a prostitute, I swear to god."

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3 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:41 am

"Not a prostitute," I smile in amusement at the thought, my nails digging into Harvey's arm as he begins thrashing and grunting in an effort to get Ljuba's attention. "Harvey here is in charges of the books for one of our little projects in the lower levels of the city. He's been overseeing the account for - how long has it been, Harv'?"

I raise an eyebrow at the emphatic grunt he aims at me, the chair bouncing as he tries to turn. He stops immediately as my hand trails up gently to rest on his shoulder, the proximity to his neck making the color drain from his face as the dark streaks become darker and deeper on his pale, freckled flesh.

"Ah, yes, eighteen years," I nod solemnly. "And in that eighteen years, he's been quietly skimming off a handsome little wage for himself and his lovely wife." He stills again as I lean down to whisper in his ear. "She's the one who sold you out, by the way. After I convinced her it was the right thing to do."

I smile at the angry tears that well in his eyes as I glance up at Ljuba.

"I thought it might be kinder not to tell Richard," I shrug. "Figured it might be a good chance for us to do a little training. See if you can impress me."

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4 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:49 am

I scowl slightly as I look at the bound and terrified man, glancing up at Lavellan.

"What the fuck do you want me to do? Scold him?" I ask unenthusiastically, sighing heavily as I shake my head. "Our boy's still on bedrest, my collar is useless."

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5 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:56 am

"Magic doesn't come from your mouth," I respond as I grab the back of the chair and drag Harvey off to the side without warning, his whole body tensing in shock as the chair is jerked backwards.

"It comes from your blood," I say firmly as I nod toward the workbench. "Find your poison, and give our friend here a reason to fear thieving from us."

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6 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:06 am

Sighing thickly, I turn to look at the table he's set up to my side. This isn't what I was expecting when my phone had buzzed and woken me up on Marnin's couch, yet this somehow feels worse. This is a bigger betrayal than what these calls have meant up to now. 

"What do you know about him..?" I ask weakly, stepping towards the table as I start going through the various components, my nails running over labels and fingers grabbing at vials as I acquaint myself with everything.

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7 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:11 am

"He has a wife, far too pretty for him, married him for his money," I say, ignoring the hateful glare he cuts me as I keep my hand on his shoulder, my own arm streaked with poison as I control the flow of toxins making a nasty cold sweat break out on his greying forehead. "Two daughters, one is five, the other twelve - a mature twelve, the kind that makes daddy feel like a monster in the wee hours of the night and leaves a fear in his heart every time a man looks at her."

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8 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:16 am

I sneer as I look back at them, cutting Lavellan an unamused look as I shake my head. 

"That's not necessary." I say roughly, turning back to the table as I start separating various items and setting them off to one end.

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9 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:21 am

"Isn't it?" I ask, raising an eyebrow. "There's a reason I offered this bookie to you. Afterall, he's hardly unique - you can't throw a rock without hitting a corrupt accountant in this line of work. No, Harvey here is a special kind of despicable. It's not just the profits he skims. He also has a taste for the... product."

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10 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:37 am

"I said it's not necessary," I repeat roughly, keeping my back to them as I begin pouring several components into a small pot.

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11 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:43 am

"Maybe not for you," I respond as I glance down at Harvey with an icy smile. "But I want him to know why he's here. I want him to know that I know, and I don't forget easily."

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12 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:53 am

Scowling, I finish adding the last bit of ingredients before stirring the now steaming concoction. 

"Harvey," I start softly, dipping my finger into the bowl cautiously before rubbing it between my fingers to test it's consistency. "I hope for your sake I've gotten this right. It's been a long time since I've done anything like this, and if it's too off... Well." I shrug as I begin rubbing the liquid on my hands, some dripping unceremoniously as I turn to face him. 

"Well, that's going to hurt." I say gently, walking towards him as he stares at me in terror. 

"Now, sit still. Lavellan, hands off." I say, gesturing for him to step away from Harvey as I lean down in front of him. I watch him shudder and tremble for a moment before I reach forward to pull at the ropes around his arms, content with their strength before stepping towards him to close the gap between us. 

My heart pounds as I reach forward to let my hands cradle his throat and jaw, the potion warming as our skin touches and my eyes shut. I can feel the tickle of magic as my lips start to move softly, my voice humming softly before the staticky sound of my vox unit breaks my concentration. 

"For fuck's sake," I growl, jerking the mask off and hitting the quick release to let it fall to the ground at my side before grabbing Harvey's jaw with a bit more force, my magic settling in as my eyes roll back and all of Harvey's secrets pour into me.

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13 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:12 am

I realize sooner rather than later what it is she's doing, my lips pressing into a thin line as I narrow my eyes at her. For a moment, I consider interrupting as my mind darts back over the past twenty-five months that I've watched the man, on all the secrets he has tucked away inside his twisted mind. Instead of stopping her, however, I simply stand here - still as a statue as I observe the trance they fall into at the behest of her magic.

I can use this. I can use the woman who can use this. I hardly notice when she withdraws from her trance, my gaze fixated on her as I begin going through all the possibilities Ljuba's skillset might afford us in the future. And if she's cunning enough to use everything she's just learned from touching this man? I'll need to keep her close... tucked somewhere in that mass of memories will be secrets of my own, things she needn't know, things I'll need her loyalty to protect if she ever becomes aware of them.

"It's a pleasure watching you work," I say after a long moment, Ljuba having long since returned to the workbench to continue her work on the dream drop. "Did you find anything interesting?"

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14 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:19 am

"Mm." I hum, dragging a chair towards the table so I can sit comfortably whilst working. With the vox unit still forgotten by Harvey's side, I can't respond much beyond that sound, but I did. I learned plenty in that brief moment to motivate me as I begin forming my drop, my voice just below a whisper as it mutters it's vague incantations to steer the drop's formation.

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15 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:32 am

It's not long before my attention has wandered back to Harvey, the mousy little man trying desperately to scoot away from me as I slink closer to toy with him. He whimpers every time my fingers graze over his skin, my touch almost seductively gentle - were it not for the nerve dissolving toxin that creeps out from every gentle caress.

"I just want you to know," I whisper as I lean in toward Harvey's ear. "I lied about convincing Martha to sell you out... she approached me. And after this is over, regardless of whether or not we're successful here, I intend to turn your insides out and let you die from the shock. Martha even requested that I film it for a little extra incentive, if you catch my meaning."

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16 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:39 am

The soft murmur of voices does little to distract me as I work steadily, my hands following a familiar path as they work to mix the drop. It's comfortable, the hum that tickles in my chest as I combine the various ingredients on the table, and it's downright satisfying as I watch the crystalline ball begin to form under my hands. 

The little baubles I've been making pale in comparison. 

Once it's finished, I pick it up gently and rise from my seat, holding it on my extended fingers for Lavellan to see before I glance at Harvey expectantly.

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17 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:46 am

I give her a pleased smile before nodding as I drag a nail down Harvey's temple once more, his whole face spasming as I step away.

"He's all yours, darling," I chime as I step back to stand beside Ljuba so I can watch, my hand starting toward the small of her back but withdrawing before it can touch her.

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18 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:50 am

Sighing anxiously, I look back at Harvey before extending a leg out to kick my collar and mask further out of the way. With a hand extended between the two of us, I look down at the bound man with a scowl before mumbling the slurred incantation that sends the drop into the air above my hand before it hovers gently before him. 

It's body glows as cracks begin to form, and the bound man's expression glazes over as he focuses on the drop almost instinctively, a sense a pride filling me as the familiar situation plays out.

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19 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:06 am

I know better than to look directly at the drop, my gaze fixating instead on Harvey as his expression twists, his eyes fixed on the depths of the crystal orb. I'm pleased with Ljuba's success, the urge to step forward and touch her tugging at me when I notice the first glow of something going wrong. I frown as I catch sight of the purplish ember falling from the core of the orb, it's center a hot, abnormal green.

It happens in a split second, my arm shooting out to wrap around Ljuba's chest and neck as I jerk her back into me. The moment my own magic flares with instinctive precision, Ljuba's dream drop lets out a loud crack, the geode collapsing in on itself before exploding outward in a violent burst of blues, purples, and greens. Every shard that hits the shield of magic around us sizzles into black wisps of nothingness, the smell of blood suddenly thick in the room as Harvey is macerated in front of our very eyes.

I'm in shock for a moment as I stare at gout of blood gushing out of the man's lacerated neck, his head and face barely recognizable as he sputters and gags on the rope still tied around his mouth. Ljuba's body is limp against mine, her expression one of utter shock as well before I suddenly break out in hysterical laughter.

"Oh gods, that was gorgeous!" I laugh as I release her so I can step forward to get a better look at the damage Harvey had sustained. I'm almost a tiny bit disappointed to see the liveliness faltering in his terrified eyes.

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20 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:24 am

My legs nearly give once Lavellan's arms leave from around me, my eyes still wide as I stare at what little remnants of my drop are still visible in the man before me. I can't help the unnatural sound that shakes my chest as I shake my head, stepping back from the blood pooling at our feet as I begin to tremble. 

I'm frantic as I snatch up my vox and it's mask from the floor, trying to wipe what blood and filth I can from it as I head for the edge of the room.

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21 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:36 am

It isn't until after Harvey has passed, his blood slowing to a sluggish trickle, that I look up at Ljuba. Her anxious crying gives me pause, my grin tugging down into an uncomfortable frown as I notice the way her chest heaves with each sniffle.

"Hey," I try to sound as comforting as I can as I approach her apprehensively. "Come now, it's alright... don't cry."

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22 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:45 pm

My fingers shake as I manage to get the collar back on, my mask forgotten in my lap as I look up at Lavellan. It isn't until the uncomfortable look on his face registers that I realize how grotesquely I tend to look when I cry, the back of my hand wiping at the tears and drool on the broken side of my face before I move to put my mask on. 

"I'm fucking useless," I cry angrily, "I made a bomb! That!" I gesture towards Harvey's limp body before shaking my head. "That wasn't supposed to happen..."

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23 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:13 pm

I let out a relieved laugh as I shake my head and glance back at Harvey. I realize immediately that laughing, perhaps, is not the response Ljuba is looking for. Instead, I pinch my face into one of concern and shake my head more intently as I approach her.

"Ljuba," I frown as I pull a handkerchief from my pocket to clean the blood from her cheeks. "It was your first attempt in a long while, without the benefit of your voice. Despite that, you still managed to create something. Regardless of what I've said about magic being in your blood, there are very very few witches who can harness their magic for anything at all without the use of their words.

"Today was not a waste," I say gently as I press a kiss to her forehead before pulling her into a hug. "I'm very pleased with the potential you've shown here today. We'll continue to work at this, perhaps without a live guinea pig at first, and in the meantime, we'll get your collar fixed. But before long, we'll have you trained to not need it."

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24 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:42 pm

I reach up to wipe at my tears, resting my forehead against Lavellan's shoulder as I compose myself. 

"I've never had one explode before," I say softly, the foreignness of the vox's voice only leaving me more annoyed as I snake my arms back around Lavellan. "I'm not even sure why it happened."

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25 Re: Breaking the Surface on Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:01 pm

"Who can say?" I respond gently as I hold onto her, my hand rubbing at her back softly as dark streaks snake their way up my arms, the poison neutralizing in my blood. I always seem to wind up poisoning myself when she's around...

"You shouldn't beat yourself up over it, though," I insist. "If you never have something blow up in your face, then you aren't challenging yourself the way you should. I've singed my beard more than I care to admit, but it always pays off in the end."

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