The general tension in the city has been felt in all sectors of it, even the markets. Far from making people avoid the markets, though, people are buying up everything they can that might be useful. At a premium are crystals capable of being used in magical applications. The prices on those have… soared, as the supply is relatively fixed. In the wake of the recent formoian troubles, Gran has asked some of the people who usually take care of things for her to go get some crystals capable of anchoring shielding spells around the inn.
Aiden is one of those people and the crystals she needs are fairly large. So it may be useful to have someone who can carry them with his mind. In either case that’s why he’s here, walking toward the area where a certain elemental has a stall that usually has a supply of high quality crystals. Usually but… does she now?
Slaine hasn’t got her Crown back from Aiden yet. The psychic had refused point blankly to give it to her until she does more training with him and then he’ll ‘think about it’. She’s pacing beside him as they approach the area, casting sidelong looks in his direction. She’s paler than usual but hardly more subdued.
“Are ye sure it’s safe, Vargr? Ye ain’ goin’ to loose it are ye?” She’s unusually fixated about it, really. The Crown that is.
It seems like nowadays there’s hardly any time to relax. Kaji’s time has been divided between Vesper and Saren’s Rest, spending lesser time helping in Gran’s kitchen but no less keeping himself busy. There were always plenty of things to do.
Today Gran had managed to catch him, and given the tension in the city and it being Gran, well, who was he to say no? With no pressing business across the bay, the young necromancer was more than happy to help out. He trails after Aiden and Slaine, feeling a little out of touch with the two. They’d obviously been busy with things themselves, and he remembered their unusual guests although Penelope and Sophia seemed to like attaching themselves more to his end of things than hover around Slaine.
It hadn’t taken him long to realize what was different about Slaine, and while part of him is thankful that she’s gotten that crown off, the mystic’s demeanor is troubling. Kind of like a drug withdrawal.
Zyx was rightfully confused by the sudden demand for ‘megically useful’ crystals instead of the usual spectrum of useful to decorative. Because of this demand, she’d started accepting crystals from sellers she didn’t usually work with, and was spending more time making flawed stones better for the purposes that people were citing. She’d even gone back to the cove that her friend Malie helped her find, and harvested as many crystals from there as she felt she could without compromising future growth and harvest potential.
As the others approach her booth, she is somewhat hastily accepting a crate of crystals from a vaguely shady looking man, and paying him in both Vesper currency and other, clearly improved gemstones.
Aiden gives Slaine a look and doesn’t answer her question. The Crown is too valuable and dangerous an artifact to just ‘lose’ as much as he would like to. But he’s sure as hell not going to tell her what he did with it or where it is. Or whether or not he’s sure he has it.
Sophia is thankfully not present but… he might have heard her voice in the inn. At the moment he doesn’t have to worry about it.
“Hello Kythzyx. Looks like business is going… well…” Does the elemental know what ‘business’ is these days. Aiden steps aside letting Slaine and Kaji catch up with his stride a bit and watches the shady guy.
Slaine is certainly worried about losing the Crown and she’s certainly not looking as well as she should. Aiden’s refusal to answer gets a ‘huff’ and she folds her arms. She’s thankful though, that Penelope’s not here – the woman might take it upon herself to ‘help’ her and as much as Slaine is huffing at Aiden, she certainly doesn’t want to alienate him.
“Ye alrigh’ there Kaji?” She asks the youth as he catches up with them. “I hear ye’ve been havin’ some adventures …” Nothing about her, or what’s happening there. But then, Slaine hasn’t always been the most forthcoming.
“Hello Zyx …” the Mystics emerald green eyes fall on the guy and narrow. This is *not* someone she’s familiar with and being from Vesper, she knows a lot of them. Like Aiden though, she just watches though she doesn’t like … something … about him.
“Hm? Oh, ‘m fine.” Kaji chuckles a bit, shrugging. “Adventures, yeah. Guess you could call it that.” At least Slaine’s not so preoccupied that she’s forgotten he was there, and if he can be a distraction from her asking about that crown, that’s just an added bonus.
Hands shoved into his pants pockets, Kaji tilts his head at the exchange, although once Kthzyx looks over he’ll give her a smile.
“Hey ‘Zyx,” he also says in greeting. “Hope no one’s given you any trouble lately! But I’m sure my aim’s better if I have to rip someone’s soul out for you.” The grin seems so terribly out of place with what he’d just said, but maybe he’s joking.
Transaction apparently complete, the shady-looking man glances at the others and scurries off. Zyx sets the crate aside for not and waves hello to Aiden, Kaji, and Slaine. “Hello. Sales have been … odd lately. Do you know why?” Seeing as Kaji and Slaine at least spend decent amounts of time at Gran’s, she fully expects one or both of them to be more up to date than she is about current gossip around Vesper.
“No, no trouble lately, Kaji. Thank you for asking.”
“People are rattled and jumpy.” Aiden says letting the others pick up the tale more if they want. The psychic isn’t really thinking about the fact that those particular metaphors may nto make a whole lot of sense to Zyx. Rattled? Why would they be rattling? Is something loose?
“We’re looking for something for Gran. Crystals. Big, pure crystals. Thought of you first of course.”
“A few reasons, Zyx. There’s problems in the mountains that we think are goin’ to hit here….” Kaji can add to that. The Demons, the CS, the whole shebang. “But as Aiden says, we need big Crystals. Gran is havin’ some troubles of her own and wants to set some ward spells.”
And for that she, she’s going to need these.
“Can ye help us?”
It’s Kaji’s turn to get a funny look from the Mystic. That almost seems out of character for him.
Kaji’s eyes follow the questionable man as he finishes his business with Kthzyx, lips pursing thoughtfully before he shrugs to himself. Hopefully that just means the man more honest than he might appear that he can brush off the necromancer’s bluff. He catches Slaine’s glance at him and smiles.
If he’s expected to add any more information then he doesn’t quite catch on, but then he’s been pretty detached about what exactly has been happening on the mainland side, and his own excursions chasing after CS leads with Aiden and Slaine had been months back that he wasn’t all too sure if there’d been any other developments.
“Probably along similar lines with why we’re here,” he says to his crystal friend. “So here’s hoping you can squeeze us in if you’ve got a lot to do already.”
Zyx considers, then nods. “I think it mostly depends on how large you want the crystals to be. Anything bigger than,” she indicates one finger, “is difficult to get anyway, but I haven’t really done much layering since I’ve been here.”
It’s a culinary trick from her home dimension, linking and stacking smaller crystals to make larger confections that were especially attractive for large gatherings. She’s had sufficient practice with the slow moving and stubborn crystals of this place now that she thinks she might be able to manage it.
Quickly gathering up her crystals on display into her ever-present leather pouch and then also picking up the new crate, she steps away from her booth. “Would it be easier to determine the correct crystals here, or at Gran’s?”
“Quartz and Amethyst are ideal. Particularly clear examples of both.” Aiden doesn’t even know everything she’s got here. He’s no gemologist but this seems really quite… expansive. The selection that is. “They do need to be large though. At least this large.”
He makes a fist to show the size they’re looking for. “And what did she need? Four? Si-”
He’d been going to say six but as he’s saying the word all of the lines under his skin light up bright, day glow orange. Neon. It makes him look quite striking but clearly Aiden doesn’t like it. Not, at any rate, judging by the way he stumbles, catches himself on a wall and then sinks to his knees.
“Here’s fine …” Slaine adds as Aiden starts talking “An’ Gran said she need–” The Mystic swears roundly as Aiden’s lines light up and she’s moving towards him.
As he sinks to his knees, her arms are already about him, easing him and stopping him from toppling over. “Vargr … what’s it doin’ to ye…” She can’t see any reason that damn Eyelarch should be triggered but she doesn’t know anywhere near enough about it, either.
And he has her Crown. She suddenly feels very, very naked.
Aiden and Slaine know more about what they’re looking for by way of crystals than he does, so Kaji lets them do the talking. He’s no specialist himself, and probably the best he’d be able to do is identify a few rocks from that one stint of rock collecting back in grade school. And never take quartzite for granite.
Off the top of his head he’d forgotten how many crystals were needed, but neither Aiden nor Slaine get to even answer as suddenly Aiden lights up like a Christmas tree.
“Whoa! Ummmm what’s with the Tron thing, Vargr- I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen that color on you…”
Usually when Aiden starts glowing it’s like a signal for trouble or something he’s sensing, so far as Kaji’s been able to gather from previous situations. As Slaine goes closer towards the man, Kaji looks around, on his guard. Did something around here trigger it? Or is something else going on?
Zyx is about to say that she only knows of one person who reliably would have that many crystals of a size Aiden mentioned, but before she can start, the psychic is … lighting up? She spikes up briefly in surprise, but then starts studying Aiden in every frequency she can see (well beyond human visual range) to try and determine what’s caused his reaction. She also sets the crate down, though hesitates to approach Aiden while Slaine has already done so.
Zyx can see that there’s something else on and in Aiden. A being that’s attached to the back of his neck in a small flattened nodule that’s extended tendrils or tentacles or whatever one wants to call them though most of his body. They’re emitting some kind of… well humans would call it an electro-magnetic field that seems to be interfering with his nervous system.
Not that those words are familiar to her.
“I… don’t know. Hurts…” Aiden answers through gritted teeth. Generally this does mean trouble or is a reaction to some kind of outside stimulous.
The only thing they’ve changed is that they’ve gotten closer to Zyx and her cart.
Aiden struggles to his feet and moves to lean on the wall on the opposite side of the cart but the moment he tries to move toward him a spasm of pain jerks him in the opposite direction.
“….yeah, that’s not a good answer,” Kaji murmurs. ‘I don’t know’ is never a good answer, especially from the person that it’s happening to.
He’s looking back towards Aiden, the sudden movement startling him enough that he steps closer to come around the psychic’s other side, opposite Slaine. “Something around here? I don’t… There doesn’t seem like anything around, so what’s triggering it?” he frowns, eyes skimming their surroundings.
“There’s a…” she says something in her own language which of course doesn’t translate, “attached. Here.” She points to the back of her own neck.
Having seen the man’s reaction to trying to lean against the cart, she steps toward him slowly, as if testing to see if it’s her that the parasite is reacting to. She has a suspicion that the answer will be yes.
Perhaps preemptively expecting it, she dampens down her own resonance as far as she can without hurting herself and then takes another small step closer. “It’s trying to alter his resonance, in a bad way.”
“Eyelarch …” Slaine provides to Zyx absently-mindedly, still focused on Aiden and his obvious pain. “It’s connected to him and sometimes does things like this.” It’s not likely that will make sense to Zyx and possibly not Kaji but Slaine isn’t really up to trying to explain more.
“Not ye Zyx.” Meaning it’s not crystalline entity that’s doing this, they’ve been around Zyx enough to know that. “What’s in yer cart? Turn it out. There’s something in or around it…”
Giving Aiden a look, making sure he’s ok, Slaine doesn’t hesistate, reaching for the cart and the box that man bought, she … upends them.
Aiden flinches again and the colors under his skin go from day glow orange to something more yellow. The box Slaine upends lands open end down with many of the crystals under it. The psychic takes a deep breath and shakes himself.
“Ow… what’d you do?”
The eyelarch MUST be reacting to a sonic crystal. Something that would be ‘singing’ to Zyx’s hearing. Well, that or it’s allergic to something. But it seems more like the former.
“I’m okay… I’m okay…”
He’s okay. There’s a funny little red dot on his back, like someone has focused a laser pointer on him. But he’s okay. Might be about to be jumped by a cat.
Wait. Laser pointer?
“A what now?” The necromancer blinks at Kthzyx, and then looks from her to Aiden. “Eyelarch?” That doesn’t sound like anything familiar to him either as he glances at Slaine, but he stays beside the psychic as Slaine goes to empty out the box of crystals.
“Huh, weird. Just like that?” he blinks as Aiden seems better, just like that. “That’s…strange though. I mean, what are the chances of-”
Eyes narrow as he sees the little red dot glowing there on the psychic’s back. There’s two things that come to mind when he sees such things, and given that he’s not seen any laser pointers in use around here-
It’s all of a sudden and without explanation, but Kaji suddenly throws himself against Aiden in an attempt to shove him aside.
Zyx is honestly relieved to learn that it’s not her directly that is causing Aiden’s reaction. So much so that she’s not at all worried about Slaine having dumped over the crate of newly purchased crystals. But she notices it almost immediately, when the resonance from inside the crate is suddenly muffled. She’s used to the occasional crystal resonating all on its own, so she wouldn’t have placed the potential danger in THIS batch. She does very quickly, though, start listening to the muffled sounds in an attempt to place which one or ones would be causing the reaction.
And then Kaji throws himself at Aiden, and she spikes up in surprise again before also stepping over toward the psychic. Though having missing the red dot, she’s not sure WHY.
“A biotech thing …” Slaine grunts, seeing Aidens lines dull significantly. “Zyx, check the crystals, it’s one of them….”
She turns as Kaji calls out and dives, catching a glimpse of the dot on the psychic back. Not fully understanding, she starts to murmur, blue energy crackling over the backs of her hands.
Arcane symbols float around Kaji and Aiden and the pair multiple. There’s now three copies of Kaji and Aiden standing there. “Kaji? That’s just a laser pointer… What’s wrong?”
PANG! Something clatters off the field that Slaine erects moments after she does. It would have gone through Kaji’s chest as he shoved Aiden to the ground. It comes to rest near Zyx.
It’s an arrow. More than that. It’s an arrow with a crystal head and it’s resonating a bit like one of the ones in the box. She can tell just by listening.
The eye larch starts to get orange again and Aiden backs away from the arrow.
“Um, we need to get indoors. Or at least, I need to get in doors. And uh… keep that thing over there if you don’t mind…”
Indoors isn’t too far away. There are a few lounges that offer escape from the autumn chill that should be just fine. But clearly, someone has it out for Aiden… and knows something about his passenger that he does not.
The others may wish to join him but Aiden is already moving.
Slaine may want to go with him in particular. He has her crown.
Zyx startles and spikes up AGAIN at the PANG of something hitting the protective field Slaine put around Aiden and Kaji, then looks down at the very clearly resonating arrow. She immediately cups a hand around it and uses a counter-resonance to render its frequencies essentially inert.
She then starts humming the same counter-resonance and quickly moves to scoop up her crate-ful of cristals off of the ground. It’s easy enough to do when just swiping her hand through the pile makes them stick to her like magnets. And, it allows her to find any other crystals in there also resonating at that painful frequency to muffle them like the arrow.
Within a moment, she’s got her crate in hand — the neutralized crystals adhered to one arm — and she’s following the others into the lounge area.
He can be called crazy if he’s wrong but better safe than sorry! None of that is of Kaji’s concern at the moment as he’d reacted purely out of gut reflex. His eyes are squeezed shut as he flinches with the sound that follows not long after. Very slowly he lifts his head, easing from Aiden. It doesn’t seem like he needs to explain himself to Slaine given the arrow that’s lying there, much too close a call for his tastes. He swallows.
“…definitely not by chance,” he says, staring a moment while waiting for his heart not to feel like it’s trying to hammer through his chest.
Nodding stiffly at Aiden’s suggestion, Kaji gets back to his feet, helping pull the psychic up as Kthzyx takes care of the crystal. His eyes slowly look about to try figuring out where the thing had come from, but he doubts whoever had shot it would be lingering after the attempt. Turning, he starts after Aiden and Kthzyx, not without wary looks cast over his shoulder as they head inside.
Accompanied by Slaine and Kaji, Aiden goes to see if Kthzyx has any crystals in stock and gets a bit more than he bargained for.
September 22, 2411