Warning: PG-16, look there’s flirting in underwear, it’s a valid disclaimer
These Rustmeadow chapters are pure landscape pics and I’m owning this
It’s just so preeettyyyyyy
Credit to Livvielove for Kit’s dialogue!
Training day two and I already feel sore. Who knew spending a measly four hours carrying a bucket of water across a field could wreck up your muscles like this? Kit was fine, so I figured not only was I doing this wrong (which I think was a given, but it was hard to get a good stance) but I wasn’t prepping properly.
So I got up earlier this time and went on my usual jog. Ideally it served as a good warm up and it worked my cardio while the buckets ravaged my back. Also, jogging is just fun in general. I got to visit Rustmeadow a bit more and I heard a good couple of rumors.
Namely, the Talent Troupe’s demise was starting to reach ears. The Left continent isn’t that affected by the Hans’ influence but they still have strong opinions against them. Actually, everyone seemed to scowl at them which was a breath of relief? The Hans have a solid portion of the population on the Right on their side. Here, most everyone is a natural, but everyone still dislikes the Hans. I’ve heard that the Left continent sometimes sends supplies to the towns on the Right – the towns that were too solidly blocked off by the Hans’ blockades. It’s nice to see and hear proof of it. Sadly they can’t do much else than that to help. The Hans are far superior in strength, influence and technology.
I’m complaining about being sore, but I’m not really complaining you know? I’m having a crazy blast. After the training yesterday morning, I spent the afternoon with Aleccas practicing magic. I missed that.
Training with Aleccas was one of the best things of that year. I felt so useless with the Dragons. Either I’d lived through enough, I was too young, or too much of a jerk – I wasn’t allowed to help. No one wanted it. But with Aleccas, even if he couldn’t be bothered to teach me anything offensive, it felt like I was progressing, like I was being challenged and pushed.
Now I’m living that again, with Kit and Aleccas. I’m sore, my magic feels drained, but I’m learning, I’m getting better and that’s more than worth it.
I have a better stance today and I jogged this morning. I’m warmed up! I took some time before sleep to go back in astral and watch the…humiliating act of me dragging that singular bucket across the field. It gave me a nice laugh still.
I watched the sorry excuse for a stance I had and I watched the one Kit had with two buckets to figure out how I needed to adjust. It seems like such a dumb exercise, like I’m training to be a water boy, but I think I see all the advantages.
For one it builds strength in smaller muscles in the hand as well as the biceps, cause let me tell you, a bucket of water is goddamn heavy. It, also, and I think that’s the most attractive part, works your balance. I have to make sure no water spills out. That’s balance in my feet, my body and my hands. It’s got precision mixed in and endurance obviously. All in all it’s a pretty decent exercise. I say with the meager experience I have in analyzing workouts.
Kind of works the same muscles each day though, but that’s another advantage to me jogging in the morning.
It really feels lonely though. Jogging. I keep thinking it’ll get better, but…it’s so dumb, like three years ago was it? Yeah three years ago I was running just fine on my own. Then Salandra started to join me. And then Nato did. And now it’s like I can’t deal with the silence. Nato is a talkative pup and he’s always showing off.
And Salandra well…she’s got this habit of being noisy, of talking and taking up the air, and I think it annoys me, but then the moment she doesn’t anymore…The silence gets terribly noticeable.
Like some kind of weird drug addiction. I didn’t need it, but after getting it for a bit I’m annoyingly aware of when I don’t have it.
No one’s POV
That afternoon, after another few hours of Nikolas stumbling across a field, Kit led Aleccas to Rustmeadow’s lake to show him what she’d uncovered so far for the job Derek had asked her to do and, also, to ask for his help.
“Aye, alright.” Kit began as they walked. “I got me some reports from me friend, and he wanted me to do some diggin’ about since I got a nose for magic and strange occurrences – kinda like what’s been on about ‘ere. The first thing he had me look into was an unusual set of deaths that happened recently. People go swimmin’ in this lake and wash up very dead… but not from drownin’. They had a recent death and the body was still out so I went to check it out meself, figurin’ the body would have other clues but… no.” Kit whistled. “Clean as a whistle. No water in the lungs, no struggle signs, no magical burns, nothin’ of the sort. It was almost unbelievable. There were no signs of poison, no wounds, pricks, cuts, or sores… clean.”
“I poked about town the rest o’ the day, gathered that all the other deaths had come up exactly the same way. Completely clean in the exact same way… like they all just decided to-” Kit clapped her hands. “-die and that was that. So yesterday I went to the lake, yeah? Did some sniffin’ round there. It seemed about like any other lake only… quieter. I was up and down it, looking for signs, and save for a few dead fish along the shore, I was comin’ up empty. I decided to check the water anyways, pulled out some ol’ tricks from Haginda. The water was still, and I watched and watched it as I built a fire and started to boil some of the water usin’ some regular ol’ herbs to see what I could possibly pull out when all of the sudden there was a shakin’. It was faint, but I could feel it.”
“There was a small plopping noise and when I looked at the lake… a fish had died. Just like that. Plop. Dead fish.” Kit said, gesturing with her hands to illustrate it, and making Aleccas smile. She sighed at the next part. “It popped to the surface of the water and so I knew I’d have to swim it. ‘Cause everythin’ just ‘as to be underwater. So I took a casual swim and sure enough – just under the water – was another one of them orbs, similar to the one that downed the Troupe. I hadn’t been there for it, but I ‘eard that Assaria had been killin’ people by having ’em touch the orb. To confirm it even more… their deaths, apparently, were quite similar to the ones found at the lake here.” She paused, looking at Aleccas as they reached the spot she was talking about.
“Curse magic.” She said heavily, and Aleccas pursed his lips slightly at that. “The Troupe couldn’t move the orb; no, they had to set up camp around it when they first settled in. That’s what I need your help with. We need to find a way to block off this orb from the rest of the lake, but we can’t touch it nor move it. I was thinkin’ that we could maybe carve off this piece of the lake.” Kit gestured at a vague area near the shore.
“It’s right underneath there. I didn’t have a good way to mark it, but I got a good memory for things like this and I can double check it before we start anything. I have no idea what this orb is capable of becomin’, but if it’s anythin’ like the one at the Troupe… then we need to get it out of the water supply. That’s why I thought maybe your magic could do something, granted, I don’t got witch magic like you and the lad. I don’t know the extent of it. Is it possible?” She asked, turning back to him.
Aleccas couldn’t believe there was another orb. He’d hoped the Talent Troupe was a unique thing, but if there was another one here in some lake of some random town…who knew where else these orbs were. This was potentially, a big problem.
“Isolating it that’s…” Aleccas pondered it, gesturing a bit as he tried to imagine it. “If we can’t touch it, you’re right, we’ve got to separate it. That means geomorphing the lake around the orb. That’s complicated.” He moved towards the edge of the beach. The lake didn’t seem to dip too deeply. “But it’s doable. I know a spell I could modify to help with this. It’s going to be a complicated spell and a big one. I won’t manage it in one day.” He shakes his head lightly as he mentally was already planning how to tweak the spell. “And I won’t be starting it today, but I’ll need more information. How far is it from the shore? And how deep is it?”
Kit watched Aleccas as he spoke, a bit of a smile as she freely examined him. He really did look much better without that coat of his. She was so busy making this remark that she nearly missed the questions he was asking her.
“Ah, it’s about… five meters deep? And about… four meters out? I’ll swim it again. It’ll be easier if ye can see exactly where it is. It was halfway covered with the pond grime at the bottom.”
Kit started to undress. She had no intention of diving with jeans, those would just drag her down to the bottom.
Aleccas considered the lake more, trying to see if he could spot the orb from here – but the water was far from clear. The algae was thick.
He glanced back at Kit to-
Aleccas’ breath caught and he glanced away rapidly, not at all expecting Kit to start disrobing in broad daylight.
After the initial shock, he reasoned with himself. She said she’d go swim it. Oh, maybe he should follow to, maybe it was too deep for her to show him from the shore.
“Should I join you?” He asked without thinking about it much more, glancing as much as he dared without being disrespectful. He made a move to drop his staff.
She shook her head and swiped at the air. “No, no! Not a wise idea. If this thing kills anythin’ that gets near it, we shouldn’t both risk it, right? I may ‘ave gotten lucky this last go. If somethin’ happens to you… well we can’t do that geomorphin’ spell, now can we? Me? I’m just a body.” She said as she pulled down her pants, casting him a wink.
“A nice body.” Aleccas instantly replied as he looked more freely at Kit. He cleared his throat lightly, bringing his staff back to his side. “That’s a good point. I’ll be right here if anything does happen.” He said, in an attempt to play off the comment he’d just dropped.
Kit had no intention of letting him play it off and she folded her clothes on the ground, making sure to bend just for him. She swayed her behind at him. “Ye like what ye see, huh?” She laughed before straightening up and heading for the water. “Well, I’ll do my best to keep my nice body intact and alive, huh?” She added with a chuckle as she walked past him.
Aleccas grinned, leaning on his staff as he watched Kit wade into the water.
She was something else alright, something that seemed to know all the right flips to switch.
No one’s POV
The trio strolled among the streets of Hazelwood, managing not to raise any suspicions as to who they worked for. They hadn’t been assigned any Task Force guards to help them make their way on the Left Continent, so they were relying on their casual wear to get them through this.
As Laury had suspected, Hazelwood was a small town, lacking in some technology here and there, making it smell more like an old town from the 400s. They were in the 900s now, Laury would’ve expected them to at least make some progress, even if they didn’t have the Hans helping them.
Nevertheless, they weren’t here to point out the town’s general primitiveness. They were here to figure out what had happened. Most everyone in town was aware that the Talent Troupe had been parked there, and most of them were aware that they’d been replaced by a deadly smoke. It was actually a tragedy here, as a few people from this town had been present when everything exploded, and now Hazelwood was dealing with the loss.
Sadly, while everyone knew what happened, no one knew why or how. The witnesses didn’t survive.
There was however, something this small town did know. They were very aware of the comings and goings and several of them had a finger to point at a newcomer from a few days now. One that grated on a lot of nerves.
With some sniffing around, they learned her name.
While that seemed to mean little to the boys, though Thomas would claim he’s definitely heard the name, Laury had a moment of fear over it. Fifty years ago, before any of them were born, Assaria Clavez was a witch rampaging the Right Continent with the lizard-eyed creature. She decimated a handful of towns before the vampire King brought her to her knees.
Yet, this fear seemed to be misplaced. This couldn’t be the same ruthless woman. This one was a woman talking at dead stones. She wasn’t even a witch. She was just a natural, who looked about thirty, if she had to guess. Not like a woman with fifty years at least on her belt.
While she was eager to call her an impostor, Laury couldn’t deny her presence and her in general was suspicious. A moment of eavesdropping also helped to confirm her importance in this mystery.
They stumbled on her in a country bar that Thomas had convinced Laury they should pause at.
The woman claiming to be Assaria was laughing as she drank in the middle of the afternoon.
“Are you from the Talent Troupe?” Laury had dared to ask, sitting beside her.
It took a second of the woman looking her up and down before a strange smile appeared on her face. “Haven’t you heard? They’re all dead. I heard a curse did them all in.” She snorted. “I’m not stupid enough to claim to be a part of a dumb religious group. They shouldn’t have trusted their Fenlarcy.” She’d stopped acknowledging Laury’s existence, staring blindly ahead.
Laury got up at that, excusing herself for having bothered her, but Assaria had already gone back to ignoring her.
“Trust is for the foolish.”
Whether she was the real Assaria Clavez that Laury had heard about or not, this woman knew about what happened to the Talent Troupe, she knew what a curse was, it was their job to bring her back to the Hans.
She glanced at the tools she had on hand, who were chatting happily at a table. It was going to take just a bit of planning.
She glanced back at the woman getting drunk on the counter. Not that much planning.