The Hermit [OPEN]Started by Alastair Crawford at Nov 27, 2019 6:19 pm
Dophn 18, 1201 AB
Alastair sits quietly at a table nestled in the corner of The Scurvy Dog. Though not necessarily a lowlife, the psychic has a skill set that is considered dubious at best. His visions are well known for being accurate and his readings always touch base. Despite that, people give him a wide berth, sitting as far away from him as possible while they down their ales and meads.
His cards sit close to him, and once in awhile, the barmaid swings by to refresh his mug of tea. He thanks her with a kind smile and tip of his head, happy for the roar of the fire keeping the establishment and its patrons warm. It beat his small, one room flat by leaps and bounds.
Staring off to the side, his milky yellow eyes shine supernaturally, glinting in the dim light. Someone was coming that would need some guidance. Someone was about to arrive that would need his help.
Alastair finishes off his mug of tea and waits patiently for the person to arrive, other patrons steering clear of his company. His accuracy only served to creep them out.
Leaned back against the bar, Jessaphine Minecroft stood as she most often did: with her back to the barkeep and her eyes straight ahead. She watched dozens of patrons enter and leave, sipping at only the gods knew how many glasses of whiskey as she observed. Alistair did not escape her notice, nor did the way the others avoided getting to close to him. The former pirate though? She had little idea of what personal space was, or how to maintain it.
Pushing off the bar, Jessaphine downed the rest of her glass, poured herself some more, and swayed as she made her way toward his table. If he looked up, she'd give a dip of her head and a crooked smile.
"Ahoy! Ye're lookin' rather alone today. Guess that makes two o' us, huh?" she slurred.
A wedding ring hung on a gold chain around her neck, kept always close to her heart. She didn't want to think of her husband right now though: only of the future voyage that would take her to Veren'dun in search of her ship. And perhaps she might visit home along the way--or when she returned.
Jessaphine brought her glass to her lips again and drained a quarter of it before tilting her head toward the chair across from the psychic.
"So wha''s yer deal?"
It was cold outside.
That was something Bronra never could get used to after a life in the Underground--the cold. It was never very cold or very warm there, and there was never any weather to contend with. It was all the same, eternal darkness, lit here and there only by faerie fire and magicked orbs. No sun, no moon, no rain. No winter. Bronra could do without winter. She'd thought of sailing away, but the Stormfangs that had brought her to Aberheil were long gone.
Besides, Rixxic was a criminal genius, and there was plenty of cash for the taking. That was what brought her to the Scurvy Dog--Rixxic. He had a source for a job that she'd wanted to talk to. A quick glance once she entered the room confirmed that source wasn't there...but someone else was.
Red eyes narrowed just a little, and a few brisk strides had her crossing the room to stand beside his table. "Still alive, I see? I should knock your teeth out for that bad advice you gave me." Her Common is better now, but still heavily accented.
Alastair sipped at his hot peppermint tea, but was soon stolen out of his quiet existence by the sound of a woman approaching. He looked up at Jessaphine and smiled. Her aura seemed to be generally kind, if not more than a bit sloshed. It made his smile widen and he nodded to the chair across from him, motioning with his hand that it was okay for her to join him.
"I'm usually alone unless someone wants information," he says calmly, blowing steam from across the surface of his tea. The psychic takes a tentative sip before holding the mug in both hands and lowering it to the table. "And your latter question is a little more difficult to answer," he begins, but soon Bronra is at the table, sounding irritated, and Alastair loses most of his color when she arrives. His smile fades and there is the subtlest hint of fear in his eyes...but not at her words.
"The only advice I gave you was to make better judgements with how you got paid for jobs," he says gently, his expression softening. "I am not responsible for your fate, I merely tell it. The last time I saw you, I saw a great many things that I was never meant to see. There's a darkness in your future that makes me ill. I told you what I saw. I did not make it happen. Please do not be cross with me, Miss Bronra. I've been trying to forget that vision since the night I had it." Alastair looks down at his tea, bringing it to his lips again to sip. A chill climbs his spine and he shivers faintly in place before focusing his milky gaze on the dark elf again.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Jessaphine is not forgotten, however, and he glances her way briefly. "I'm a psychic. Accurately predict the future enough and people start to avoid you. I'm apparently creepy."
Jessaphine lifted her chin slightly as she lowered herself into the chair across from Alistair. When Bronra arrived, she received a puzzled glance from the establishment's owner. A brow lifted and she tilted her head to the side, a smile crossing drunken lips. She can't recall if Bronra is the first of her kind in the Scurvy Dog or not, but she certainly piqued Jessaphine's curiosity. Dark elves weren't common, especially this far from the mountains.
"A psychic, ye say? Tell me, do yer abilities span the chasm o' life 'n death? Can ye tell if someone be still alive, or if they be eternally lost?" She patiently awaited the two's exchange before she spoke again, her tone's inflection hopeful.
Her mind wandered momentarily as she lifted her drink to her mouth and drained the last few dregs from the cup. Jessaphine missed her husband dearly and assumed he was dead with her ship. A ship that she might regain in the near future--if what was said about Veren'dun was correct.
The former pirate's gaze moved toward Bronra again, her head canting curiously to the side.
"I reckon I be at an unfair advantage here, given that I now know yer names. Ye may call me Jessa, if ye wish. 'n ahoy t' The Scurvy Dog," she introduced, extending a swarthy hand toward both of them in turn.
"That is not all you told me," argues Bronra, an edge of anger creeping into her voice. Anger comes easily; authoritative tones naturally. "You said there was demons in my future, and then you ran out like...like a..." The hybrid falters, if only because she cannot find the words in Ilarian for the depth of the insult she wishes to unleash. After a moment, she settles for Orcish--orcish anyone with even a vague grasp of the language would understand. It's the equivalent of weak, blathering baby, a coward, a whelp. For further emphasis, she slams her closed fist down on the table in front of Alastair. "You don't just get to tell me demons are after me and then disappear like that. What else did you see?"
All that time, all that time looking over her shoulder, waiting as one day passed into another and another while nothing happened. She almost wished something would, that Velora or her agents would appear, or that there would be some lead, some clue. Her only answer was silence. The investigation itno the Bottoms had turned up no more trace of demonic magic than the book they'd found in the Monnell girl's room-and she'd disappeared as well. it takes all her effort to jerk any of her attention from Alastair to look at Jessa.
"I've been here before. Name's Bronra." Another glare to Alastair. "And that one's either a sorceror or a liar, I don't know which."
Alastair frowns again at Bronra, his discomfort obvious. "I'm not a sorcerer or a liar. I just see things. The thing about the future is, it is constantly changing. Sometimes it just needs one random thing to happen to change what formerly seemed to be set in stone. It's not a science. It's not always exact." Alastair hangs his head then, staring into the confines of his mug and smelling the mint rise up as steam. Jessaphine's questions give him something else to focus on though, so he looks up at her and locks eyes with her. His iris shines like gold, and Jessaphine might feel him searching through her mind. When his eyes stop shining, his smile finally returns, though it isn't as bright as the one he wears normally.
Without her asking the specific question, he answers what she wants to ask. "Your husband is alive." He says it clear as day, and he sips at his peppermint tea. "He...spends a lot of time in a bar. Do the words Harbour Side mean anything to you?" Alastair wets his bottom lip and takes a sip of his tea, still uncomfortable with Bronra's presence. Even so, he forces himself to take a long look at her, his eyes lighting up like molten gold. He studies her as long as she'll allow before he'll blink and look away.
"I originally saw you headed down a path that would lead you a multitude of demons. I saw you die," he adds, shuddering. "Somewhere along the way, you went down a path that changed that future. I don't know what it was, but it's the reason you're still here. As uncomfortable as this conversation is, I'm glad your future changed. You got lucky. I'm thankful for that. You have such courage."
Jessaphine blinked. Twice, to be exact, and at Alistair. Briefly, amber eyes returned to Bronra and the drunken proprieter frowns slightly. Had she seen her before? Now, now the former pirate wondered if her memory was starting to fail her--though it was likely the effect of a few too many drinks too often. Grief and addiction were nasty mistresses, controlling and unwavering in their cold grasps. At least one offered feigned comfort.
"Pleasure t' meet ye, Bronra," Jessaphine said in reply, words slurred. Her empty glass tapped against her bottom lip for a moment before she set it upon the table before her.
The manner in which Alistair had looked at her--no. Through her. It had made her feel wrong, prickly and uncomfortable. Violated. And yet his words brought her hope, hope she desperately needed. She reached her hand toward her chest, swarthy fingers enclosing the golden band that hung there. It was worn from her constant touch, much like a worry stone might be.
"At least thar's that," she murmured before Bronra's words finally translated in her mind. Monell. Her head tilted to the side slightly, a few curls briefly obscuring her face.
"Monell? That lass used t' work here, I reckon. Last time I ever saw her, she was natterin' t' Jed. Sounds like she's gotten herself into a mess. She was a sweet lass, if somewhat shy when it came t' bartendin'."
Bronra glared hard at Alastair until he was finished speaking, and then looked back at Jessaphine. The whole thing was unsettling to her; she hadn't said a word about the Monell girl, only thoughts. She'd never met Bianca, only heard the whispers about how the Church took her away, and now she was gone.
"Like I said, a witch or a liar," she repeated to Jessaphine. "Not me or anyone I ever came in contact wtih had any dealings with demons. I don't believe a word of it." Even Velora, paranoid and power-hungry as she was wouldn't take such reckless, dangerous measures to be rid of her. She'd probably just send assassins or something.
Alastair knew that his gaze could be intimidating, but he felt Jessaphine's discomfort the same as he felt Bronra's anger. Unfiltered and pure. He tries not to make a habit of staring once he's read someone, and even though Bronra was obviously angry, he felt some of his worries alleviate the more she spoke. She was here. She was alive. Her future had been altered and she was okay. There hadn't been a day that went by that he hadn't worried over her, but here she was in one piece, so despite her obvious dislike of him, a weight came off his shoulders. He might not have to worry about her again for a long time, if she even sat with him ever again.
"I apologize for scaring you, Bronra," he finally says in a softer tone, sipping at his tea. He leaves it at that, because he wouldn't grovel, but he also wouldn't promise to keep what he saw to himself if he thought she would wind up in a spot of trouble. He'd rather be wrong and have told her what he saw than be right any day of the week. He even smiled a little as the barmaid swiveled by to refresh his peppermint tea with a new mug.
"Thank you," he says to the barmaid, and she smiles and nods and flits back to what she was doing before.
His hands hug the mug and he blows across the surface of the tea before taking a sip. It felt good to be wrong once in awhile. Being called a liar sucked, but it was better than Bronra being dead, so he would take the verbal abuse for now. Alastair sees her anger as justified.