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First Day Jitters

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26First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:48 am

I don't respond immediately, instead placing the poppet on the desk and rubbing my suddenly sweaty palms across my legs as I stare at it uncomfortably. "I was just redoing a couple of warding idols for the house," I finally admit, my voice a little low as I try not to look back at her. "You set a few off when you came through. Most of them just go off when someone is doing something they shouldn't, but you managed to trip the ones that go off from proximity alone.

"I thought maybe they weren't working properly," I mumble as I pick the other idol up and make a few minor corrections to it, the sigil correcting and tightening in on itself as another aura permeates through the room - this one impressing a sense of dread into the room rather than causing any real physical changes - before it too passes as I let the sigil fall back apart under my fingers. "But no, they seem quite certain of their purpose."

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27First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:55 am

My posture is still stiff even as whatever he’s holding breaks apart, the sickening anxiety that swelled in my chest still lingering. I can’t help but shift uncomfortably from the nervous energy it left behind, frowning as I peer at his desk.

“And what purpose is that..?” I ask softly, not sure I genuinely want an answer.

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28First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:08 am

"To warn when there's something nearby," I reply with a tense frown. "Something whose blood is stagnant without magic to give it life.

"Maybe that means something different, here in the city," I offer hopefully even as my body remains tense and ready to react if needed. "But out there, it means death has come to visit. Raised by the coven, or come hunting on its own. Either way, it's never a pleasant visit."

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29First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:19 am

My heart skips a beat as he speaks, that ball of anxiety twisting more roughly as I shake my head and try to put my attention back to the headpiece on my desk.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I start lamely, forcing a bit more nonchalance into my tone, “Your little things must be off, or something next door is messing with them.” I offer, though I know it sounds stupid as soon as I’ve said it.

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30First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:26 am

"So long as that something remains friendly and non-threatening, I'm okay with believing that," I say as I glance back at her, my posture softening a bit as I look her over more closely. She's nervous. Sighing, I gather up the idols and tuck them away into my bag before getting to my feet.

"Well, since there's so much interference from this blasted city, I suppose I'll just have to settle for working on those at home," I smile as I stretch and let out a grunt at the unexpected popping of stiff joints. "You mind if I familiarize myself with more of the shop? Prices, pieces, all that?"

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31First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:38 am

“Be my guest,” I agree softly, not looking up from the horn in my hand until he’s through the doorway to the front, a sick feeling settling in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly, hiring this man feels like a wreckless and wrong decision. I don’t know hardly anything about him, but he seems to be adept at sniffing out aspects of my own world I’d prefer kept secret. The bashful attempt at a date the night before leaves me feeling foolish, and I’m left wondering what his motivations are.

I do know one thing. He’s not leaving this shop, not until we talk about the insinuations he’d just made.

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32First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:04 am

My thoughts are too preoccupied to really take in anything once I'm in the front of the shop. I find myself turning over several of her pieces as I find bits of bone and other remnants of death worked into her art. But rather than admiring them, I catch myself trying to ascertain whether she'd killed the things she'd used in the odd necklace or bauble. I feel for traces of necromancy, a phylactery, a book of spells, sigils, runes, anything that might set off the wards by mistake; or anything that might tip her off as being a genuine threat.

But nothing stands out. Her shop is squeaky clean, not even a trace of her colossus magic to draw my attention - even as a stress bauble for her own use, as I'd known other colossus to keep. It was almost too clean. Paranoid she might draw attention to herself? Why?

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33First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:17 am

“The trader who brought the antlers,” I start from the door way, watching him as he inspects my pieces, “I have him gather bones, too. I try not to employ hunters for the sake of jewelry, so it’s mostly scavenged.”

“It’s all animal-“ I add a bit roughly, my posture still stiff and uncomfortable as anxiety sits heavily on my chest.

“What you said earlier, about your wards,” The words practically fall out before I can stop myself, frowning at him sharply. “Accusations like that can get people killed in this city.”

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34First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:32 am

I pause as I look up from a ring that had caught my eye, a scowl pulling at the corners of my mouth. "I hope you're referring to some archaic law I'm unaware of here in the city that interferes with your safety," I say coolly, my tone still coming off rougher than I'd intended as I glare at her. "Because if not, that almost sounds like a threat to mine. And I really hope that's not the case because I already agreed that the wards must be picking up on something else. I'm tired, and I don't have the energy to have a confrontation with anything that might set those wards off - so as far as I'm concerned: It was a fluke."

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35First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:43 am

“I’m-“ I start, jaw tensing visibly before I sigh and shake my head. I hate everything about this exchange, the fact it’s occurring in the front of my shop first and foremost. “I’m not threatening you, you idiot.

“The city doesn’t house undead, in any capacity. I need you to understand that, because if you tell anyone about those little baubles of yours, with your assumptions, they will kill me.” I say evenly, gradually stepping closer to him, though I keep the front display case between us. “If you have questions, I’ll answer them - but not here.”

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36First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:03 am

"Telling would require me to share how I came to such assumptions," I respond, relaxing somewhat, though my posture remains a little stiff and uncomfortable with her standing so close after just admitting to being undead - in some capacity. "And while I don't much care for the law, I do know that the magic I used to get from here to a cabin a few hundred miles into the wilderness is not only illegal, but highly sought after by people who would happily kill me for it. I can't say telling anyone that I have it and that it was able to take you out there and back again as well would be in my best interest."

I hesitate uncomfortably as I look her over, curiosity eating at me as I bite back the urge to question her here and now. "And I do have questions..." I admit a little bashfully. "But I don't want to pry... just - tell me I have nothing to worry about? By staying here, spending time alone with you, in showing you my home-." Regret bites off those last words, my heart skipping fearfully at the danger I'd invited to my doorstep so recklessly.

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37First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:44 am

The sense of distrust leaves a sour taste on my tongue as I look at him with a hurt expression, shaking my head as I turn back to the workshop.

“You don’t have to stay,” I say simply, “I won’t dignify your fears, I just want to go about my day in peace.”

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38First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:50 pm

"Hey," I start, frowning starkly as I go to reach a hand out to stop her. Before my fingers can brush across her thin shoulder, however, the chime by the front door rings, drawing my attention to the customers who file in, all laughing and talking amongst themselves. Scowling at the interruption, I cast a glance at Sylviane, and then set my jaw firmly before slipping out behind the customers before the door can close behind them.

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39First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:59 pm

I can’t decide if I feel relief or disappointment at his leaving, the din of the group approaching me barely distinguishable as I pull my attention from where his figure disappeared beyond my windows.

“Can we see these?” One of the couples asks, drawing a confused look as I turn back to them. “These earrings here?”

“Yes, yes. Of course.” I mumble, the lock of the case clicking open as I approach.

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40First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:24 pm

****

It's embarrassing, how long it takes me to realize I've left my coat behind, the fresh air easing the tension in my body as I replay this mornings events over in my head. The wind is unforgiving as it blows in the season's first snowflakes, leaving me to draw more attention to myself as I stop to murmur the words to a spell standing there in the middle of the street several blocks from Sylviane's shop. In an instant, the chill is gone, and I smile to myself as I look up to watch the snowflakes whirling around me wildly, a bubble of warm, still air settling around me, and creating an aura that leaves people murmuring as they pass. I catch the eye of a young woman as she passes, her hand immediately going to protect the small boy hiding and pointing from her skirts.

Sighing, I start walking again. There's no real direction to my wanderings, and I find myself not venturing far as I circle around the shop again and again, taking a new alley or side road every time I do. I don't know when I'd made the decision, but at some point, I become more aware of the cord in my hand, binding and twisting around a blank doll as I walk. Despite my torn feelings on whether or not Sylviane is dangerous, the training my father had pounded into my head lacks no certainty, and my hands work almost of their own accord as I continue to circle - scrying and casting as I go - just in case.

The more I walk and the more I cast, however, the more convinced I become that this woman presents no threat to me. Not unless I threaten her first. A little voice in the back of my head argues that she's undead - of course she's a threat - but I saw the look that had crossed her face when I'd allowed her to see my fear. Another reckless decision, the voice scolds.

"Shut up," I grumble under my breath, the voice sounding annoyingly similar to Button's when he isn't running around like some tiny lion. "Speaking of reckless decisions, why didn't that asshole warn me?" I sigh as I find myself stopping under the eaves of a neighboring shop, my back settling against the cool brick as I watch Sylviane's shop quietly. "He's supposed to protect me; she can't be that bad if he didn't care."

***

I have to refresh the charm keeping me warm a few times before the sun has finally begun to set, the drain on my magic beginning to settle in as an ache in my bones. I'm relieved when I finally see Sylviane's figure moving around inside of the shop, closing everything down before she goes to step outside so she can lock up. The charm around me muffles the sound of my passing as I approach her while her back is turned.

"Could I maybe grab my coat before we go somewhere to talk?" I ask when I'm close enough to speak without my voice carrying.

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41First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:42 pm

I can sense someone behind me, but it isn't until he speaks that I realize it's Aoifa, though I'm able to keep my cool as my hands remain on the door's lock. Twisting the key back to unlock it, I step aside to let him through. His hand trembles as it reaches past me, leaving a hurt expression on my face as I follow him inside.

"Your stuff is boxed up on your desk," I say softly as the door shuts behind me, my hands clasped behind my back as I wait. "I was going to send it to Gideon's tomorrow if you hadn't come back."

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42First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:48 pm

"Oh," I frown as I stop to look back at her, a little dejected. "Am I fired already? I rather liked having my own desk." Sighing, I disappear into the back to grab the box, pausing only to slip my jacket on over my shoulders.

"I understand, though," I say as I return with the box, my arms feeling a little weak under the weight. I need to eat.. "I have my own secrets. So I get it."

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43First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:56 pm

"I sort of took your leaving earlier as your resignation-" I respond lightly, not quite making eye contact as I linger near the door.

"I know you won't find it ideal, but if you want talk about earlier, I'd prefer we do it at my home."

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44First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:06 pm

"I left earlier because you said you wanted a peaceful day," I say I as I join her side, looking her over intently despite her avoiding my gaze. "I didn't want to intrude. Or, hey-," I frown, propping the box on my hip so I can reach out to let my fingers brush across her arm so that she'll look at me. "I hope I didn't offend you. I didn't leave to be rude. I just thought it was more prudent for everyone to gather their thoughts.

"You don't have to dignify my fears," I smile half-heartedly, trying to offer her some comfort. "You've given me no reason to fear."

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45First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:34 pm

With his proximity, I can sense the wariness weighing in his shoulders, the tiredness hanging under his eyes.

"Well, I don't buy that..." I trail off, a slight smile tugging at my lips as I lean back against the door. "It unsettled you, as it should. It's not something I often have to disclose, if ever, to be honest. But, not here."

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46First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:41 pm

"Mmm," I nod, not arguing the truth in her words as I get a better hold of my box. "I believe you said something about talking in the comfort of your home? I could use a place to rest my feet; maybe pick up some food along the way?"

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47First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 7:50 pm

“There’s a handful of restaurants along the way,” I nod, pushing the door open to let him exit before pulling it closed to be locked. Key tucked into my pocket, I adjust the hood of my coat as I fall into step beside him.

“It’s a bit of a walk, though.”

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48First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:00 pm

"That's alright," I respond, grateful that my charm is still in effect as we make our way out into the cold. Even with my magic, I can feel the temperature dropping for an unforgiving night of snow and ice coming down off of the mountains.

"So long as we eat soon, I'm happy," I add as I feel my muscles ache as a shiver goes through me. Despite the cautious voice in the back of my mind still accusing me of being reckless, going home with this creature that set off the wards, I find myself regretting having pushed it so much with the spell casting throughout the day. Since coming to the city, I've been rationing my food to save money, and my body is starting to feel the effects of the deprivation. Another fact that my brain feels the need to scold me for; as though I could somehow help the fact that I have to eat twice as much as the next person to stay in 'fighting shape', as Tavris has so delicately put it. He's too polite to call it what it is - functional, like everyone else in the coven.



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49First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:15 pm

An awkward silence settles in between us after I hum a soft response, walking alongside him into the less savory parts of the city. I can feel a peculiar warmth coming from him whenever I stray too close, and a tickle of magic trailing with it. It takes nearly a block before I realize he’s charmed himself to keep warm, and it’s then that I notice just how thin the man is. Of course, all men his height appear thin, to some degree, but Aoifa is genuinely a wisp.

“Anything you have in mind?” I ask as we break at an intersection, glancing unpleasantly at a group coming up to wait behind us that have chosen to wait too close. Even if they are well dressed, I don’t trust the people in this part of the city, and I trust them even less when they make no effort to adhere to basic things like personal space.

I pull my hand from my pocket to slip around his arm, pushing him gently further towards the intersection, buying a bit more space behind us. “There’s a few places right up ahead.”

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50First Day Jitters - Page 2 Empty Re: First Day Jitters on Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:21 pm

I don't even think about it before extending the charm to encompass Sylviane as she steps closer to me, my gaze wandering down to her before back over my shoulder at the offending pedestrians that had coaxed her closer to me. I give them a withering look, buying us a few more feet of space as the people shrink back a little further and allow us to go ahead a little ways before they continue across the street as well.

"Something calorie-dense," I finally respond as I look around for somewhere to eat. A promising shop front lures me toward it, the bagged meals they're handing out to the other customers offering the hope of a quick grab and go that will get us in and out sooner rather than later.

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