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Diddlin' Doodles

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1Diddlin' Doodles Empty Diddlin' Doodles on Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:38 pm

I can see my breath on the air in front of me, see it billowing up above the horse's head further up in front of the cart. It's one of the first truly cold nights of the season, and, like my furry feline companion perched on the seat beside me, I find myself surrounded by a mane of warm fur to keep the chill wind from my bones. Still, warm or not, I can feel them aching as the cart bounces across the uneven cobbles beneath us.

Cursing at the increase of foot traffic, I find myself running late as I try to coax the lazy beast pulling the cart to go around the slower traffic. The cat beside me is quick to inform me of his disapproval when my attempts to maybe ignore the law for a bit nearly get us run over by the larger, more "privileged" coaches that go hurrying past - their drivers cursing loudly at us for venturing from our side of the street.

"Assholes," I grumble to the cat under my breath as I sink back in my seat in defeat, accepting the slower pace as I wait for people to move out of the way. "You know, if I were born a City Witch, I'd own one of those."

I stare at the cat in silence for a moment, getting no response. In fact, I think he may have rolled his eyes at me. Sighing, I roll my own eyes before returning them to the road. "Yeah, I know." I admit. "They'd have never made pops a High Priest here. He had moss growing in his beard, and he smelled like horse shit."

The rest of our ride is spent much the same: me talking, the cat ignoring me, the cart slowly moving toward my last stop for the evening. It might have taken less time to do this one first, but I rather liked saving this little shop for last. It was in a fairly decent neighborhood, compared to some of my stops, which made it a little safer to stop in after sundown - which it now, very nearly was. And besides which, it was a rather charming shop... and it just happened to be owned by a not all that unpleasant looking owner.

"It's not like I arrange it like this on purpose," I accuse the ruddy colored feline as I dig through the back of the cart to find the last box I'd set aside for the shop's owner. "But since I'm here and I don't have anything else after this... I mean, I know she's one of those horned beings, but even horned women have to eat, right? They're not like the demons or devils we know; they're flesh and blood. So they've got to eat, don't they?" I ignore the chirps of response I get back as I nod and pull the box out of the back. "I'm gonna ask her. For real this time. And you're not going to talk me out of it."

Offering little more than a yawn of protest before curling up to sleep on the cart's bench, the cat leaves me to approach the shop on my own with the box held in front of me. I'm a little surprised when I push the front door and find that it's not only unlocked this close to closing, but that there are also a handful of customers inside.

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2Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:06 pm

The chiming of the front door hardly distracts from the three men lingering at the front counter, the addition of another heckler drawing a tension in my jaw. I should’ve locked up earlier, but I’d been waiting on my final shipment of stones to arrive and the week was nearing it’s end.

“I don’t know what stones you’re talking about, what’s in the case is what I have for sale.” I repeat, the men looming over as they poke at the glass.

“Quit being stingy,” the ringleader remarks snidely, “your filthy colossal stones, where are they?”

“They’re not legal to sell in the city,” I say firmly, glancing between the men warily. This isn’t uncommon - well-to-do men, barely of age, stopping in to harass me for whatever nonsense they’d been fed by their families. Be it to try and buy illicit stones, or sweet talk me into doing a show-and-tell of my various racial features, it’s behavior I’m accustomed to.

“That’s not the question I asked,” the alpha-prick says, entitlement dripping from each syllable. “I wanna see the shit mutts like you are known for.”

“I don’t know what you’re referring to,” I shrug politely, my head tilting slightly as I smile up at him. “The wares I have available are in the case, I’m afraid I can’t help you with any furth-“

My sentence is cut short, my face twisting into a wincing sneer as a wad of foul-smelling spit lands on my face. The men laugh callously as they turn to leave, my skin hot with embarrassment and anger as I dig into my pocket for a handkerchief.

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3Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:13 pm

"Here," I offer, my eyes never leaving the spitting youth as I hold a handkerchief out to the woman before she's able to withdraw her own. "And they call me uncivilized," I add, my words as much directed toward her as it is the men leaving behind me.

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4Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:43 pm

“Thank you,” I say stiffly as I abandon the search for my own handkerchief to take his instead, dabbing at the filth as I make my way around the counter to lock the doors. I can feel my heart racing angrily as the lock clicks, my shoulders taught as I wipe away the wetness clinging to my cheek. My stomach twists a bit at the smell as I head back towards the counter, handing the handkerchief back to him roughly.

“You know, during the warmer months, my deliveries come in the mornings.” I remark a bit sourly, gesturing for him to follow me as I head into the back.

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5Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Tue Jan 29, 2019 11:53 pm

"Ah," I frown as I follow her into the back with her delivery in hand. "That would be my fault, sorry. I'm not used to the bigger cities, and I may have re-arranged my delivery route for the same reason you close up your shop come sundown - it's just safer. Being in this part of town, I mean, rather than one of the other parts I usually deliver to. Honestly, yours is the nicest neighborhood I visit along the whole route.

"Though, clearly not without its problems, I see," I sigh as I glance back toward the front of the shop.

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6Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:11 am

“If that’s the worse that happens between now and when I close for the season, it’s a win.” I say, my tone softening slightly as I glance back at him. He’s been on this route the last six deliveries, and the best I’ve managed to gather is he’s one of the many seeking refuge in the city from the coming winter.

“Entitled pricks, with barely two decades under their belt.” I continue, rifling through a drawer at my desk as I find the envelope with they payment for his delivery. “They’ve nothing to offer the world around them but privilege and contempt, and I’m the easiest target in their comfort zone.”

Handing him the envelope, I shrug slightly. “You get used to it. Take a seat, look around. I’m going to wash up then I’ll let you back out the front.”

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7Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:22 am

I watch her silently as she goes, wondering at more than one thing she'd said. She didn't look as though she could have many more than two or three decades under her belt, either. I catch myself glancing around for my familiar, the question, how do colossus age? lingering on my lips for the moment I catch his gaze. The question falls short when I remember him curled up in the cart outside, unable to hear the question even if he cared to answer it.

I find myself pondering this as I wander around the workshop, my fingers glancing above her many projects, careful to feel their energy but not to disrespect anything by touching it without asking or knowing what it is first. My thoughts begin to wander to what spell I'll use on the handkerchief with the man's saliva on it tonight when my hostess returns.

"Your name-?" I ask hesitantly as I try to wrack my brain for it. "It was Sylvia or Sylvain or something like that, wasn't it? You mentioned something about closing shop for the winter?"

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8Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:28 am

“Sylviane,” I nod, a towel wrung in my hands as I dry them. “And yes, it’s not worth the hassle of dealing with the influx of people avoiding the cold.

“No offense,” I add, dropping the towel on a workbench as I frown at him.

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9Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:31 am

"By hassle, you mean more people like those men?" I ask curiously, my hand going to pull my hood down before I begin pulling off my gloves. "Hecklers and racists, men who think themselves big and invincible?"

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10Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:38 am

“Not just men,” I say, “but yeah- that sort. I used to stay open the winters, couldn’t afford not to. Figured out it’s not really the shop they want to bother, so it’s simpler to just stay home.”

Taking a seat at my desk, I pull the delivered box in front of me before rifling for a pair of glasses in the top drawer. I know I’d told the man I’d lead him out, but he seems to be making himself comfortable in the warmth of the workshop and I don’t entirely mind the company - especially after the encounter out front.

“I don’t believe I ever caught your name?” I ask, pulling on the glasses so I can inspect the box’s contents once it’s opened.

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11Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:49 am

"Aoifa," I respond as I stop my curious wanderings before a particularly interesting piece. "You know, I don't necessarily mind being bothered by those sorts of people," I admit as I glance over at her with a feigned sinister grin. "Perhaps it's just the savage witch in me, but I rather enjoy seeing a man act out his weaknesses in such a ridiculously theatrical way. It makes it that much easier to bore into their psyche later, and let their own minds leave them in ruin for being so disrespectful.

"I reckon that gentleman tonight is simply terrified of being humiliated," I sigh wistfully as I return my gaze to the delicate collection of stones before me. "And I bet there's just one person in his life who's made him feel that way. If I could just find that face, I could make him piss his lacy little rich boy panties."

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12Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:54 am

I glance up at him over the rim of my glasses, my fingers paused as they hold one of the stones from the delivered box.

“Is that so?” I ask softly, my gaze lingering for a moment before I return to the task of inspecting the gems. “I don’t suppose you’re looking for a shift in career, then?”

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13Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:59 am

"Working here??" I ask, a little taken aback, but not at all displeased. I look her over thoughtfully before raising an eyebrow at her. "You do understand that my presence here would only increase the amount of gawkers and malcontents who would look down their noses walking through those doors? At least for a little while, until I could do something to discourage it."

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14Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:08 am

“Just having an extra body in the shop will help,” I respond, content with the stone as I tuck it into one of the small compartments of the case beside me before moving to the next. “At least for the week or so I’ll be open.

“I don’t know your schedule with Gideon, but if you want a bit of extra money before the snows start...” My words trail off as I nestle a stone against the black stains on my fingers, inspecting how the light shifts inside of it before looking his way. “I could use the company, especially when it’s dark.”

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15Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:15 am

"If you're wanting to stay open all winter, I would be thrilled to work for you full time," I respond as I look at her seriously. "Gideon is a puritanical bastard; if the spirits weren't so insistent this winter is going to be worse than usual, I would already be returning home just to get away from him. Unfortunately, I have to stay, and as long as I'm here, I need to be employed. I would rather that employer be someone whose company is more tolerable, if not enjoyable."

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16Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:25 am

“Perhaps we should start part time,” I say, “get a feel for how it goes? It’s been awhile since I’ve kept the shop open through the first snows, I don’t want you putting all your eggs in one basket.”

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17Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:48 am

"Hmm," I nod my agreement as I wander over to where she's working, my eyes adjusting poorly to the dim light. "I've finished with my route, if you're in need of some company this evening."

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18Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:53 am

I hesitate at the offer, tucking the second stone into its case before pulling my glasses off. I consider it for a moment, nodding softly.

“If you’re not in a hurry anywhere, I’d appreciate being able to inventory these tonight, instead of the morning.” I say, tapping the box with the stem of my glasses. “Normally I skim, then leave them so I can head home - but if you’re okay with waiting?”

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19Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:00 am

"Not at all," I smile as I nod toward the front of the store. "Would you mind if I just tied up the cart real quick?"

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20Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:05 am

“Not at all,” I nod, setting my glasses down as I push back from the desk. I leave my shoes forgotten underneath, my stockings slick against the smoothed stone floors as I gesture for him to head to the front with me, key in hand.

Catching the lights as we enter the front, I glance back to see him trailing just behind me. Taller than before, I notice the golden gleam of the markings teasing across his face, and I make a point not to let my gaze linger before I go to unlock the door.

“It won’t be locked when you get back,” I say, bracing slightly against the cold wind as I open the door. “I’m going to just straighten up here in front.”

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21Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:22 am

I nod at Sylviane as I venture out into the cold wind, a soft flurry of snowflakes swirling harmlessly through the air before disappearing the moment they touched the still too-warm ground. I catch the gazes of a young couple about to turn toward the shop, casting them a frown as I shake my head.

"Shops closed for the evening," I tell them firmly before nodding them along up the road. "You'll need to return tomorrow if you wish to visit the Lady's shop."

I pause for a moment as the couple grouses under their breath, waiting for them to complain or leave, before I return to my own task. As I approach the cart, Button's trilling meows sound annoyed as he lifts his head from a dead sleep. "Some guardian you are," I accuse as I take the horse's bridle to lead him closer to the shop where he can be tied up. Seeming to already know what's happened, the cat stretches lazily before jumping down from the cart and wandering listlessly toward the door - waiting for me to open it.

"You know how to open a door," I scowl at him as I return to open it for him once the cart is secured. "I swear, sometimes I wonder who serves who, goblin. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were just a spoiled cat."

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22Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:31 am

I’m in the process of wiping clean the counter where the troublemakers from earlier had left their mark, a little surprised to look up to Aoifa returning with a cat. Familiar, of course. He did mention the wilds - it’d make since a wildling would have his familiar with him. However, it wasn’t something I was particularly expecting. Despite the markings on his face, something about him spelled elven to me.

“Looks like it’s trying to snow already,” I say casually, returning to lock the door as I peer up and down the street. “Won’t be long before the whole city is mush.”

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23Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:40 am

"Mm-hmm," I nod as I shoo Buttons down off of the counter before Sylviane has a chance to notice him. "The freeze had already hit the rivers further up the mountains this time last night. I'm surprised it's taken it this long for the snow to hit the city.

"Do you have enough wood for the furnace this evening?" I ask as I turn my attention back to her, my question faltering for a moment as I notice her missing makeup for the first time. Was she wearing any earlier? "Or- do you have one of those electrical furnaces??"

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24Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:59 am

“Do you mean here..?” I ask, shaking my head slightly as I head back towards the workshop. “Here, it’s electric. Privilege of the neighborhood. Plenty of wood at home, though.”

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25Diddlin' Doodles Empty Re: Diddlin' Doodles on Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:17 am

"No, I meant at home, " I reply as I follow her into the workshop, Button being quick to dart in ahead of us. I can never tell if he does that to see that its safe, if he's curious, or just an asshole who wants to go first. "Just making sure you'll be warm enough tonight, that's all."

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