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Takeshi

17 Flamerule 1372 (cont'd)

Two bell tolls later, the thought occurs to me that this girl really likes to dance. Susan must catch a hint of that thought because she yells over the music, "Do you want to take a break?"

Trying not to look too grateful, I nod, and we walk toward the outer courtyard wall.

"Poor wizard," she says. "All that physical exertion must be getting to you.

"Not--not at all," I reply, making certain not to wheeze. "All the time we spend in libraries poring over gigantically heavy tomes tends to train one's physical capacity for--for--"

"For being full of hot air?" she smirks. "And speaking of hot air, you seem a little short of it. Come on. Let's get you something to drink."

At the refreshment table near the entrance, she hands me a mug of sweet cider. Gulping it down, I say, "You seem pretty comfortable here."

"Is that your way of asking if I come here often?" she laughs.

"I hadn't thought of it that way, but I could be asking that if you'd like. I could also ask, 'Did it hurt crashing through the Planes? Because I've never met an astral deva before."

"Ugh, Magnos," she hits my shoulder. "Please tell me you've never used that line on anyone. Or anything."

"No! Of course not. Never. Certainly not in recent memory. Or distant memory. Probably. I mean probably not. I can't remember. Maybe?"

"Magnos!"

"But even if I had said such a thing, I would never use such a line on you."

Susan puts her hands on her hips. "You just did."

"No, I offered a hypothetical; it wasn't actually offered in earnest."

"I see."

"I only offer the highest quality lines to you. Nothing cheesy."

"I'm so relieved."

"And flattered?"

She laughed. "Maybe a little."

The band begins a new number, but neither of us move to join the dancing.

She nods toward the mug in my hand. "Are you feeling better?"

I raise my eyebrows. "Who says I was feeling worse? I'm tireless like a dwarf!"

"A narcoleptic dwarf."

"But as a narcoleptic dwarf, I'd never be tired, because I'd always be current on my sleep!"

She shakes her head, then brushes her blonde locks out of her face. "I thought wizards were supposed to be smart, but that might well be the dumbest thing I've ever heard." But she's smiling as she says it.

"And I thought sorcerers were supposed to be nice, but that was simply cruel, Miss Drake."

"Who said we were nice, Mister Rel Astra?" she counters.

"Well, I'd always heard that they learned through being touchy-feeley, doing what comes naturally and all that."

"And you've never heard that being mean comes naturally to many people?"

"I simply never would have suspected it of you," I offer.

"Flattery," she says, "will get you everywhere."

"In that case, may I start by walking you home?"

Susan pauses, then flashes me a brilliant smile.

*******


Even at this time of night, Silverymoon isn't quiet, especially in the university district. The pubs are still crowded, and the carousing shouts are punctuated by the singing of drunken dwarves.

"Don't you just love the openness of this city?" Susan is saying. "It's so different from home."

"Where's home?"

"Waterdeep. People there are a lot more uptight, with all the secrecy involving the Lords, or the constant threat of Halaster throwing a tantrum, or drow invasion." She shudders. "I think I fear the drow most of all."
"What, the knowledge that an exceedingly powerful and completely insane mage with countless tools of destruction at his disposal right beneath the city doesn't bother you?"

"Should it?" she smiles impishly. "Father always says that Halaster just wants to be left alone, that if damn fool adventurers didn't bother him he wouldn't bother anyone."

"Your father doesn't sound too fond of adventurers."

She shakes her head. "He says they're only good at lining merchants' purses and Halaster's walls. You're not planning on being an adventurer, are you?"

"Me? No," I laugh. "I prefer steady employment, sleeping on actual beds, having easy access to pubs--"

The nearby fluttering of wings startles me. Susan, however, tilts her head to allow more room on her shoulder. A moment later, a bright-eyed raven alights there. "Susan! Susan!" it calls.

"Hello, Grace," she says, nuzzling the bird. "This is Magnos! Magnos, meet Grace."

"Hello, Grace," I greet it.

"Hello, Ugly," it nods solemnly.

"Your familiar just insulted me!"

"Sorry. She's like that with everyone," Susan says. "Except me, of course." She reaches into her pocket and offers the raven a dried berry. "You're my sweet raven, aren't you?"

We continue walking, Grace interrupting from time to time to ask for food or to insult me (Birdbrain! Gnome-licker!)

"So what's your pa got against adventurers?" I ask. "Did he used to be one or something?"

"My father an adventurer?" she laughs. "Oh no. He's far too busy with his work for adventure."

"What does he do?"

"Oh, he's a physician." After a moment, she adds, "He's also the Guildmaster of Waterdeep's Apothecaries and Physicians. It sounds more important than it is."

"Guildmaster of Apothecaries and Physicians? Sounds pretty important."

"It's not. It just means he's always busy doing stuff he's not allowed to talk about. Meeting guild members, arranging deals, going off to meetings all the time. I love him, but I wish he weren't so invested in his work." She looks at me. "What does your father do?"

"Oh, the same, I guess," I say. "Only without the guilds and the meetings and the investment into work. He's a lumberjack. He's okay."

"A woodcutter's son! I never would have guessed you as one."

Nettled, I ask, "What would you have guessed?"

"I don't know. For some reason I was thinking maybe a son of artists, or maybe a bard."

I groan.

"What?"

"Hmm? Oh, something I ate."

We reach the front of her quarters, a tall and handsome building that houses many local bards and sorcerers.

"Well," Susan says. "Here we are."

"Yes."

Grace flies upward toward some window shutters on the third floor.

With the raven gone from her shoulder, I feel free to step closer to Susan. "I had a good time tonight."

"Me too," she says.

Stepping in closer, I say, "We should do this again some time."

She tilts her head toward me. "I'd like that."

The third-floor shutters that Grace had flown near open. A dark-haired girl with a tired expression sticks her head out the window. "Finally you're home! Elwyn's been by twice looking for you. Tobias wants you to see him when you get in, and Hobie's dropped off your books. And some flowers." She sees me then. "Oh."

"Thanks, Trina," calls Susan, who seems unfazed. "Thank you for the lovely evening, Magnos," she says, kissing me on the cheek. She goes upstairs and disappears into the building. A moment later, Trina's head also withdraws from sight.

*******


My room is in a building we call The Farm, situated a few blocks away. It is a boarding house catering to students at the College, and, not coincidentally, is also a terrible place for a student at the College to get real studying done.

The Farm's entrance opens to a messy lounge dominated by a massive fireplace and the odor of spilled drinks, stale foods, and several varieties of incense. Terro Antkiller, a halfling Evocations student, is finishing off a pint when I enter. "Magnos! You're in late. Had a fun night?"

I think of the previous morning, waking up naked in an unfamiliar room. "I've certainly had worse."

"Me too!" Terro hops off a chair designed for someone twice his size and accompanies me as I head up the stairs toward my room on the second floor. "Me and Kylie were practicing ventriloquism (and here I interrupted with an "Oh yes! That's a useful spell!") on this drunk half-orc passing by outside, getting him really mad, only I messed up the incantation on the last one and he saw us and pulled out this huge axe and came charging at me, only Kylie cast Reduce Person on him and then we told him he had entered the domain of giants and he got confused because I was still about his size but we told him I was just a kid giant so then he walked away but then he didn't watch the street and got hit by a passing wagon. You should have seen it!" he says.

"I wish I had." I peek in the keyhole of my room. Dark. "Jonah must be asleep," I say in lowered voice.

Terro nods. "That's what I should do." He turns, not toward his room, but back down toward the lounge again, probably to have at another pint. He's chuckling to himself, saying, "It was hilarious!"

Crazy halfling, I'm thinking, as I tiptoe into my darkened room. Still, it was pretty funny.

Which is more than I can say when I see Jonah tied to the chair, and feel the cold touch of steel at my neck.

Comments

Susan's not going to be real happy about the "new friend" Magnos makes in a tenday or so, is she?

I like how something along the lines of "no adventuring" has now come up in three of our journals.

I like this, and I can't find anything right now that's doesn't work. I'm not sure you need to combine the last few posts into one mega-post. They work as smaller chunks, and already have their own distinct beginnings and endings.

I will say that the date of your post makes it impossible for the half-orc to be Kronk; he came to Everlund from the south, on Evermoor Way, and would've been either near Olostin's Hold or on the road between Olostin's Hold and Everlund on this day.
In the name of the goddess of all loremistresses, you rock.

I knew Kronk wouldn't work because of the date and all, but I was too lazy to look up the details.
I just really have nothing better to do. :) And I'm a librarian, looking stuff up is kinda our thing.
"What, the knowledge that an exceedingly powerful and completely insane mage with countless tools of destruction at his disposal right beneath the city doesn't bother you?" -- Shouldn't there be an 'is' in there someplace?

I like the opening banter.

I read this. Thumbs up.