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Thread: [M] Anima Mundi IC (Namingtoohard and Headwrapper)

  1. #471
    The Moonlight Knight
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    After Shallan's departure, Godrich continued to stand watch near the building that Clair had been cooped up in. Nervously, he searched up and down the street, watched the entrance of the building, and stalked the guards that were perched nearby. There was little else he could do. The fear of Clair's demise did not allow him to leave, but he could not risk raising suspicion and putting the enforcers on high alert by approaching. All he could do was wait until Shallan returned with word that they could execute their plan, or until nightfall.

    Eventually, he succumbed to the urge to sit, finding himself an acceptable space atop a short stone fence. He was but a helpless bystander, at least for the moment. The feeling was familiar, and he did not have to ponder for very long to remember when he had last felt this feeling. "Will it always come to this?" he said, eyes transfixed on that building, that fortress. "Will I always fail to be their shield?"

    The memories rushed forward like a tide engulfing the shoreline. They violently crashed over and sent Godrich back to that time, only years ago, when the Misfits lost their previous leaders. To that time when he had also tried so hard to save and protect those that he loved and trusted. Enric had grown ill, his body slowly faltering and growing thin during the Misfits' travels. One night, while the Misfits were traveling between cities, he completely collapsed off of his horse, the majestic chestnut that he always rode. They hurried to the closest town, a small, derelict place, to seek help. Although they eventually found lodgings with some kind peasantry, there was no doctor in town, and the nearest doctors was several towns away. Godrich himself took the reigns of his mentor's chestnut, forcefully kicking it with its ankles and spurred off on a mission to bring back a doctor. When he did eventually return, it was too late.

    It had not been much more than a year later when Teresa had also begun to succumb to her own illness. Her passion, her memory, her mind, quickly began to fade after Enric's death. Eventually, she reached a stage in which she spent the majority of her days lost without her memories. Everyone had become a stranger, she never recognized where she was, and a fear would seize her. At the worst of it, she required sedation in order to calm her fears to prevent her from tumbling out of bed and wandering off, or injuring her weakening body. Other times, there were moments of clarity. They were rare, but Godrich was present for some of them. Those were nearly as harrowing as the other moments, as Teresa's rational mind would try to seek help with one thing: to join her beloved Enric. She was eventually rewarded her wish. No one knew if she had help, or if the gods had taken pity on her.

    The waves of memories rolled away when Godrich was grounded back to reality, staring down at a pair of children that stood in front of him. They watched him curiously while occasionally brushing off the dirty from their skin and clothes. The smaller of the two children, a tiny boy with freshly sheared brown hair, held out a large leather ball to him. When Godrich hesitated to accept the offering, the taller of the children, a girl who was slightly older than the little boy and sporting a pair of pigtails, spoke up. "Are you okay, mister?"

    ~~~

    Vana tugged lightly on the reigns of her bister horse, slowing it to a stop. She stared down at the device of wood and glass in her hands so intently that she did not notice Gaxeel pull up next to her on his own dark-haired steed. They remained halted for a while, stirrup to stirrup, while Vana continued to carefully observe the compass. Finally, she looked up. "It seems our luck with our supposed path has run out. We have two goals, to deliver a message to the Silver Priestess and to locate the puppet or whatever magical artifact has an attachment to this compass. So far, were lucky that the directions were one and the same, but it seems that has now changed. The compass points westward, towards the forests, while the path to the the priestess's temple remains northward."

    Gaxeel remained quiet for a long time, mulling the sentiments over. "We should continue northward," he eventually concluded. "Our objective there is a known, finite distance away from us. Once we have succeeded, we can focus our remaining energies on the compass's target, no matter the distance." No longer restricted to having Vana lead the way, he gently squeezed his stirrups and urged his horse forward, towards the path of the grand city and its temples.

    "Wise," Vana concluded out loud, glancing down at the compass one last time. It would be even wiser for her to continue to watch the artifact as they hurried forward, in case she noticed any strange changes in the direction it was pointing. There was a small chance... a very small chance, but one that existed all the same... that they may pass by the compass's target. She kicked at the horse beneath her, urging it to spring forward and catch up with Gaxeel.


    ~~~

    "So much for plausible deniability." Ella's voice rung out from behind Shallan. She shut the door behind her before approaching her former member of the troupe she now led. "What the devil are you making? Potato sacks?" Her wet eyes watched Shallan calmly while she patiently listened to the explanation of Shallan and Godrich's intentions.

    "I think I have seen some of these temple stewards not too long ago," she commented, glancing down at the work Shallan had done so far. "Pathetic looking things, they were. Such droll bowl-cuts, fingers worked to the bone, and so scrawny and bony. It's no wonder they are abstinent, lest they keel over from over exertion. But I digress." She ran a hand over the outfits. "Godrich is a rather large lad, so you will want to make sure he appears much thinner than he actually is. Have him hunch slightly, but not too much as to reveal his musculature through the robes. Speaking of which, one of these will need to be much looser to hide that woodman's frame of his. You both will want some makeup to help convey the sickly, pathetic appearance of those tired, and probably sun deprived, stewards. Not anything quite as visible and obvious as something we would need for stage work, but just enough so that anyone who is face to face with you recognizes that doggedness without noticing the use of flesh paint."

    She quickly got to work mixing up such examples of makeup. She combined ingredients, occasionally stirring vigorously while working towards the right colors. Occasionally, without warning, she would smear a glob of liquid or dusty paste on Shallan's cheek or arm, and eye the color critically. The "No, no," she would say, turning back to her work. After only a few attempts, she would finally click her tongue in approval, and turn to bottle up her concoctions. "Here, this should be helpful. One bottle for the skin, and one to help feign puffy, tired eyes." She set small glass bottles before Shallan, before rising to turn away. "Godrich's skin is much lighter, so tell him he does not need to use very much of the first bottle. If he does, it will give away that you are wearing makeup."

    Having concluded her explanation, Ella rose. "I will leave you to it then," she said.

  2. #472
    Mistborn
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    A few minutes spent digging through the Misfits’ costume trunks was enough for Shallan to find some material that would serve her purposes. The plucked it from the pile, collected a few supplies from nearby, and quickly got to work. Sewing was not among her many gifts, but the outfits worn by the temple stewards were incredibly basic, and Shallan had gotten enough practice while helping Sarah to manage a task as simple as this. In a way, her lack of skill served them well. Ragged edges and shoddy construction wouldn’t seem out of place among the temple stewards, and might even serve to make their disguises more believable.

    Shallan measured and marked, cut and stitched. She worked at a mediocre pace, but pushed on tirelessly, determined to finish their outfits as soon as possible. There was no telling when Clair’s execution would begin, so if she couldn’t work faster, then she would work relentlessly. The only time she paused was when Ella announced her presence. The woman’s voice was so unexpected that it made Shallan jump, accidentally jabbing one of her thumbs with the needle in the process. She swore softly, but a quick glance was enough to reveal that she wasn’t bleeding. A small blessing.

    Ella’s unexpected mention of abstinence was enough to get an unexpected chuckle out of Shallan, despite their circumstances. Otherwise, she nodded along with the new troupe leader’s explanation, filing her helpful advice away in the back of her mind for later. When she began to work on mixing makeup for them, Shallan threw a surprised glance in her direction. A part of her wanted to object, bring up the arguments they’d made last night, but Shallan bit her tongue. Applying makeup was one thing, but mixing up new shades was beyond her current skills. As much as she wanted to keep the troupe’s hands clean, rejecting this particular bit of help seemed unwise.

    Shallan continued her work as Ella began hers, pausing momentarily whenever her new companion needed to check or test something against the shade of her skin. She made sure to adjust her plans based on the woman’s advice, altering the size of the costume intended for Godrich. When the troupe’s leader concluded her preparations, Shallan set her needle and thread down just long enough to accept the two bottles from her. As she listened to Ella’s final notes, Shallan found herself struck with an unexpected wave of emotion. They’d been trying so hard to avoid implicating the troupe, and Ella had been so against helping Clair, but here she was, taking a risk of her own. Despite how callous she seemed sometimes, this was as clear a sign as any that Ella really did care about more than her own position. Shallan’s eyes began to water, just a little, as she nodded her agreement.

    “Thank you, Ella. This makeup very well might be the difference between success and failure. You might have just saved Clair’s life, to say nothing of ours.”

    Shallan would watch the troupe leader depart, before setting the bottles aside, and turning back to her own task. She was almost finished now, and it wouldn’t do to falter now, after a display such as that.

    ~~~

    After stashing the costumes and makeup in their room, Shallan did a quick sweep of the inn, searching for Godrich. When it became apparent that he hadn’t yet returned, Shallan set out once more, diving back into the people-infested streets with all the enthusiasm she could muster.

    The trip back towards the prison district turned out to be a nerve-wracking one. Every time Shallan passed a city guard, a twinge of worry stirred in the back of her mind. It felt like her heart was beating so loudly in her chest that they were bound to hear it, despite the fact that they were just going about her business. Shallan tried to remind herself that she hadn’t done anything wrong yet. That they had no reason to be suspicious of her. The next time they were out of sight, she stopped. Leaned against the wall of the nearest building, and forced herself to take a deep breath. Freaking out like this during the escape would put them all in danger. She’d need a great deal more composure if their plan was to have any chance of succeeding. Scolding herself for such weakness, she pushed onwards.

    It didn’t take Shallan long to find Godrich. Just as expected, he hadn’t left his post yet, and was lingering near the place where she’d last seen him. Reminding herself that they were just two normal people again, and that the guards had no reason to suspect anything was amiss, she set off towards him. Once she drew near, she offered him a small nod in greeting.

    “The costumes, makeup and scripts are all finished. We can begin our performance whenever we’re ready. We may have another problem, though.” Shallan turned her head to the side then, allowing her gaze to sweep over the buildings. Over the guards going about their business, and the people hurrying past. Tried to swallow the lump in her throat. What was the best way to describe this, without risking them being overheard? “I’ve been thinking about the role of the temple stewards.. They’re rather scrawny, and seem to carry very little authority on their own. There’s no way the guards would release a prisoner into their care without some sort of escort. It just isn’t believable. Which gives us another problem to solve.”

    If the prison sent one guard with them, they’d need to figure out a way to subdue him quietly, without attracting attention, before they’d be able to slip away with Clair. They’d also need to make sure nobody found out and raised the alarm before they’d managed to get Clair out the city gates, or things would get…complicated. Worse, if they sent an entire group of guards with them, the two of them would be helpless. They wouldn’t be able to do anything but march to the church with them, where their ruse would doubtless be uncovered. That’d be jail or death for everyone involved. At the same time, Shallan hadn’t yet come up with any ways to mitigate these risks, without taking more time or dragging more people into the equation. They could just try and hope things worked out in their favour, but…well, she’d prefer to avoid taking that gamble if necessary.

    There was plenty more Shallan could say on the topic, but not without implicating both of them. That wasn’t a major problem, though. Godrich had proved himself capable plenty of times over, and she trusted that he’d pick up on the full implications of what she were saying. Hell, there was a decent chance that he’d see more problems that she’d overlooked…or come up with possible solutions, if she were lucky. That said, there was no reason to linger here now. After a moment, Shallan would turn her gaze back to him good and proper.

    “There’s no point in talking about it now, though. We might as well head back for now. We can discuss it properly while we’re getting ready.”

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