Private Tales Fireworks and a White Rabbit

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Traveling was, thankfully, peaceful. Jonathan took the time to teach Varys more about Speaking. The grand thing about it was that there was always something to talk to, be it a pebble kicked up by the wagon wheels or the nails in the wagon itself. The only thing Jon forbade him were the fire flowers; the last thing he needed was an explosion in the wagon due to a disagreement or misunderstanding. Varys was a bright young man, and he was picking up Speaking quickly. Jonathan made sure to emphasize that it was all something that had to be done with a degree of separation. One could get lost in speaking just as he could get lost in Change.

Hob only grew closer with Varys. It wasn’t just about sex, though they had plenty of it. Hob enjoyed playing with Varys, pranking and toying with him. Other times it was just fun to fling him several dozen feet in the air to see if he could convince the wind to let him down easily....and catching him if he didn’t. Hob also helped teach him to use Speaking to hunt in other ways. What use was a rabbit if he couldn’t breathe? If air suddenly refused to enter its lungs? The implication was clear; Speaking was as deadly a weapon as Change.

They left the scrublands and hit the sands. Amol-Kalit was a dangerous region, and Jon had to rely on Varys to convince cool air to come to them. He helped as well by bringing up cold earth from under the blazing sands to help them sleep. Pedeo was their goal, and it came on the horizon sooner than expected. It was no collection of buildings surrounded by walls. Indeed it looked like an upturned pot, a massive disc of dulled metal making faint grinding noises. It looked like a toy half buried in the sand. Jonathan pointed to it.

“Pedeo, the Iron City. We’re headed there in the morning. See all those people camped down outside the gates? That’s where we make camp. Just...watch yourself.” Jon told Varys as they approached. Hob made himself scarce the second they found a bare spot of sand to settle down in.

It looked like a cattle drive dammed up against the gates.

There were a hundred types of wagons, carts, entire chains of men bringing bolts of fabric, food, bars of every metal imaginable, pottery, animals, and slaves. Every walk of life was represented, from orcs to halflings to fae. They camped in a set of large lines flanking an old cobblestone road that disappeared under the dunes less than a quarter mile out. The lines seemed to have a strict pecking order; anyone found trying to cut was beaten openly in the street, under the gaze of two Pedeon guards who didn’t lift a finger to stop it.

Jon and Varys were squarely at the end of the leftmost line, next to a dour-looking slaver complaining about the noonday heat. The slaves were shackled and settled on worn rugs under a hastily constructed shade. “Here.” Jon whispered to Varys, nodding at the grouchy slaver. “Offer him a cool breeze for himself and the slaves. Never hurts to make friends here.”

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys had begun to realize through their latest journey that his most dangerous enemy had already been conquered; Once Varys let go of what has holding him back, the entire world seemed to shine brighter around him. He wasn't worried about the name San' Seya, nor was he worried about unseen dangers that could be lurking behind him. For somebody who'd spent so long alone and with nothing, he now found that he truly needed very little.

And what did he need that he didn't already have right here? He had Hob, who while frustrated by the limitations of their relationship only continued to grow closer to him. He didn't complain when they threw him into the air anymore. He wasn't afraid of heights anymore. The wind would do the heavy lifting. And Jon, who'd taken him from near nothing and taught him everything he knew. He couldn't have asked for a dearer friend. No, they were more than friends now. This was his family. Hob admittedly in a different meaning than Jon, but the ideation stood.

The more he practiced his new ability, the easier he found it to engage with the world around him. No longer did he have to poke and prod to get the attention of the wind and the dirt. Now they offered him conversation eagerly. He allowed himself to become an extension of them, directing them as one does a student. Of course, often the world ended up being the one teaching him. Before long, he learned just as much from the waves and the sand as he did from Jon.

The Varys that had left Falwood, and the one who now squinted in attempt to see through the blinding sunlight ahead of them blanketing the Iron City at the edge of their vision were two very different people. It almost seemed as though there were an entire city's worth of populace sitting just outside the gates. He turns to Jon with a curious expression. "A queue? Just to enter the city?" He'd never heard of such a thing, but the implications weren't the most pleasant.

They stopped their own wagon amongst the rest of the rabble, and the elf looked on somewhat concerned as the pooka left their sight. He knew Hob would be alright, but it didn't mean he enjoyed not knowing where they were. Climbing out of the wagon, he sheds the jacket he wore over his shirt and tosses it back into their ride before dusting his hands off. Hearing Jon's whisper, he looked over at the slaves and their handler.

Raising a hand, he mutters a few sentences under his breath, collecting a nice bit of fresh air between his fingers and tossing it their way, with just enough motion to mark him as the one responsible. Jon was right; It was good to make friends, but at the same time it could be equally dangerous to out themselves as mages in a place like this. "What if they don't let us in? And who's to say this acquaintance of yours will hear us out?" He wasn't complaining, but Jon had spoken little of his past here during the ride. Hob didn't seem to eager to share either.

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Jon laughed. “Yes, a queue. Pedeo opens and closes its gates once a week and once a week only to replenish supplies.” He pointed to the front of the line, almost a quarter of a mile away. “They have been waiting for days in the sun. There’s an equal line on the other side waiting to exit with goods they’ve bought here. There are of course exceptions for permanent residents and the rich...of which were neither.”

He settled in to check their fire flowers, watching Varys with approval as he sent the breeze to the slaves. They perked up a bit and a few gave him a smile, waving in thanks. They appreciated it. The slaver wiped his brow and nodded at Varys, kicking a smaller slave. The little girl grabbed a jug of cold passion fruit juice and ran over to Varys, pouring him a cup. She bowed and offered it to him. “This one thanks you for speaking to the wind on our behalf.” She told him.

Jon smiled to her. “Truly a treat in the desert. Thank your master for us?” He asked. She waited for Varys to take the cup and nodded to Jon. She bowed at them both, and hurried back to her slaver.

“Pedeo likes the fire flowers. I’ve sold them here before. I’ve never put on an official event for Persian, per se, but the nobility here likes the smaller fire flowers for garden parties and the like. A few of them have events out in the desert.” Jon told him. “This city and I have a strange relationship. I’m human, so I’m not exactly liked. It’s eh...like a particularly useful homeless cat you tolerate because it makes the rug look good.” He gave Varys a crooked grin. “Hob hates it here. You might have to convince the ground to move the cart for us.”

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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A frown crossed the lips that parted to sip at the bit of water they'd been granted in return for his display. He'd learned to ignore it's protests, after a few rough first attempts at drinking. "So in other words, this is a bit of a crapshoot. You think having an elf with you will help at all?" He hums back to Jon, curious as to why exactly he'd been so dead set on this being the next stop. They still had a good amount of money, so what exactly warranted a gamble now?

"I can understand Hob not being fond of the place. The sand is telling us we should probably move along too." He smirks at Jonathan, a list of humor in his voice. "You always bring me to such pleasant places, Jon." He snickers and opens up a small chest he'd purchased from a vendor along the way, giving him a bit more personal storage. "Don't suppose they allow weapons inside? I'd feel a lot better with my bow." He'd been getting quite good at using the wind to assist in his already above-average aim. Not that he'd had much to practice on.

Exhaling some of the hot air gathered in his lungs, he rolls out the mats and clicks his tongue. "I won't make Hob enter the city. If need be we can push the cart with both of our abilities. I do wish she'd stop hiding though. She'd stick out less once the sun goes down."

"This Persian you keep mentioning. He know about Hob? That'd probably be a good thing to keep under wraps I assume?"

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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“Well not so much a crapshoot as it’s going to fund sources of metallic salts after we essentially detonated our last supplier.” Jon said wryly. “It’ll also fund the spot in a caravan we’ll need to find your oasis, guards, research. I also wanted you to spend some time in the library here and see if we could find some other Speakers. It’s time you got a little more well-rounded. I was raised with philosophy, art, music, all opportunities most of Arethil didn’t have. This is the best place other than Volta to sample them. I’d like to make enough not to have to budget for a little while.”

Jon settled back. “Hob will stay outside of Pedeo. It messes with his magic, and he’d prefer not to end up with a collar on. Can’t really blame him. I’ve had to dodge that a few times myself. Persian, eh, knows about Hob. Very little escapes the notice of a fae. Just make sure not to advertise it.” Now all there was to do was wait.

Thankfully, it wasn’t more than a few hours. The gates creaked and howled out the sound of metal on metal, and the guards began calling that people exiting the city had priority. The herd coming out of Pedeo was as big as the one going in. Merchants ferrying carts empty of goods but full of gold, visitors with goods, animals. Tourists looking satisfied with rucksacks on their backs and an eye toward the other cities of Amol-Kalit. They all came out in a somewhat orderly herd, and the waiting lines began moving.

Pedeo seemed an utterly beaurocratic city, at its heart. When Jon approached the front of the line, helping their cart along the sands, he bowed to the guard holding a leather bound book. “Jonathan Burr and apprentice, here to bid to perform at Auction and pet houses throughout the city.” Jon mentioned.

“I figured by the loud cart.” The guard muttered. “How long?”

“Two or three months at the longest.”

“Staying?”

“I was hoping to get a spot at the East Lily club.”

The guard snorted. “If they have any rooms for you. I’d get moving quickly. You?” He eyed Varys.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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The Elf hummed, nodding his head. Hob would be fine fending for themselves, he supposed. He doubted anybody would try to mess with them during the day, and at night... well, good luck catching them. Plus, despite the rather oppressive feeling that this place offered, he couldn't deny the appeal of having a real base of operations for a few weeks. It would give him time to study, to work towards perfecting the craft he'd been working towards sharpening whenever they could squeeze in time on the road. He would certainly miss Hob's presence... but he steeled his resolve; If he wanted to be strong enough to finish his work, this was absolutely necessary.

He assisted Jon in moving their cart up the line, offering the sands some sweet words to ease the friction they placed on the wheels. The difference it made might have actually been quite minimal, but the sharp-eared man would feel irresponsible letting his master do all of his work. He was in a hurry all his own, wiping a sheen of sweat off of his brow and licking his bottom lip; He wanted to lock himself in a room with as few things as possible surrounding him, for just an hour at least. He was handling this whole 'speaking' thing fine enough, but Jonathan was right in that it got exhausting. He needed a break from the constant calls for conversation.

Dusting his hands off on his trousers, he flipped his loose hair behind his head, approaching behind Jon as he gave the guard the information necessary to enter the city. His brows raised at the timetable Jonathan gave the man. Three months? That was... a long time. At least it felt that way to Varys. He'd just gotten used to their nomadic tendencies, and now faced with the prospect of settling down for a few months, he wasn't sure what he'd do with himself. Well, aside from bury himself in his work.

He clears his throat when the guard turns to him, biting the inside of his cheek and choking the doubt in his mind back. "Varys San'Seya. I'm the apprentice he spoke of. Assisting him in his work, and studying my own craft." He wasn't sure what had made him decide to use his 'full' name, but the guard didn't seem to recognize it.

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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The guard eyed Varys and wrote down his name, then offered a pair of wrought iron collars padded with leather. “Don’t take these off. If the fit’s wrong visit your local pet house and we can get you re-kitted out. You hand it in when you leave and not before. Not to your innkeeper, not to a pet house, me. If you violate these terms, Pedeo has the right to keep, train, breed, sell or butcher you as a pet. You become city property.”

Jon took the collar without question and slid it around his neck, locking the latch with a click. “You’ll get no argument from me.” He said lightly, and offered Varys his collar. Obviously, they weren’t getting in without it.

Once they’d passed the busy entrance, it was clear why people struggled to get in. It was a madhouse. There was a long, circular path around the width of a city block that wrapped around the Inner Wheel. The Outer Wheel was divided into quarters; Industrial, Trade, Market, and Board. Surprisingly, as they stepped out into the Wheel...the floor was moving. The iron floor slowly cycled around and around, while buildings on the outskirts to the inside and outside of the wheel were stationary. If one stood still, one would eventually rotate through all four Quarters.

Moreover the press of people was astounding. Men driving oxen, llamas, sheep, goats and pigs. Street carts that sold bowls of rice and hot meat for a coin. Traders of every imaginable race from orcs to dwarves and even naga. Sunlight filtered down from windows in the ceiling as thick as Jonathan was tall, casting anything not illuminated by magelight and lamp into day.

Jonathan yelped as he was shouldered aside by a large, reptilian creature. The thing’s head was huge, as was the rest of him, and filled with teeth the size of steak knives. “Move it, human!” The creature snarled at them. Jonathan straightened his clothes and gestured to the cart and Varys.

“Let’s keep moving. The Boarding Quarter is at six o clock, and we entered at noon, so...this way.” Jon gestured to the right, with the flow of traffic. It was an insane press of people, and Jonathan felt like he could hardly breathe. This was industry. This was the scent of leather, burning metal, hot food, beer and blood. This was sex, stressed animals, endless shouting and the burn of magic in the air. Where merchants were concerned, this was a battleground and it didn’t look like anything less.

Thankfully, passing into the Market Quarter from the Industrial Quarter calmed things a bit. It was still busy but a man didn’t feel as though he were in a sausage press. Open air restaurants were a distinct style here, as they could simply shut the propped windows when closing time came. Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief and looked back at Varys. “Fancy a beer?” He asked with a wry grin.

Varys would hear a thundering voice. It came from all around him, a thousand times coalesced into a single voice. It was distinctly female, the authoritative tone of an old matron...right in his ear.

Welcome, San’Seya. It has been a long time since I felt your feet upon my streets. The voice echoed powerfully, her words dying away into whispers.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys squinted at the continued use of the term 'pet-house'. He didn't know exactly what it was, but he got a bad feeling that it was far from pleasant. He clicks the collar one, careful not to catch his hair in it. He wasn't about to offer up arguments over something so petty and trivial as wearing a collar to get in. He was however quite glad that Hob wasn't here to bear witness to it. He'd have no end of teasing to deal with. The leather itself was a bit snug around his neck, but it didn't dig into his pale flesh all too much. Not enough for him to want to go get 're-kitted' anytime soon.

He nods to the guard in affirmation as they push through into the ridiculously overcrowded city. Gods, one couldn't hear themselves think over the white noise that was thousands of different voices in dozens of different tongues filling the air of the odd circular path. He hesitated, none too eager to squeeze himself into the tightly packed crowd. Jonathan, in an almost relaxing show of agreeance, didn't look half pleased with the idea himself. Even so, he ducked his head and pushed his way through, his smaller frame offering him a bit more leeway than his superior, however minor it was.

He very nearly lost his balance, when the ground beneath their feet began to move. The only thing that saved him from falling on his rear was that he fell into Jon, which had caused him to bump the gargantuan reptilian fellow. He offers a sheepish smile of apology at the beast, and nudges Jon. "You could have warned me about that, you know." He wasn't truly irked, but he felt playful banter might lessen the stress of this environment a small bit. "So, does it always smell like a cheap whorehouse in this city? Or is that just this section?" He quipped as they stepped off into the Market Quarter.

"So, what's our itinerary? You seem to know where we're headed well enough. This 'lily club' is it?" Admittedly, he had to admit that this section of the city was much less... offensive to the senses. The open aired buildings were an interesting sight, and while there was still tension in the air, the creatures who sat and feasted, and the merchants who eagerly called out to them as they passed to peddle their goods seemed at least somewhat genuinely happy. There were more smiles on more faces than Varys would have guessed. Such a diverse place... Volta had been an example of the potential of technology. He couldn't help but think of Pedeo as an example, albeit a rough one, of the true potential commerce held in Arethil.

He didn't even realize what had happened for a few seconds, not until he felt the metal floor against his forehead. The echo of a voice reverberating through his inner ear still, his skull felt like it was shaking, rattling his brains like some sort of instrument. His hands had raised to catch his fall, and his fingernails scraped against the floor. That wasn't a voice from nature, or an object. Somebody living here was reaching out to him.

No, they were reaching out to his father.

"Fuuuck." He groans, rolling onto his back and sitting up. The effect was wearing off, but that didn't bode well for his time here. Looking up at Jon, he frowns a bit. "Make that two beers, if you would. Remember how I used my last name at the gate? I guess somebody is happy to see me, because my ear just got telepathically violated. Guess my old man had friends here." He raises a hand. "Help me up?"

Jonathan Burr
 
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Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Jonathan could barely hear Varys over the din. Once they got into the Market section, he ran his hand through his hair and took a moment to breathe. “Sorry about that. We’re staying at the East Lily Club, a pet house just beyond the Market Quarter in the Boarding Quarter. So, this place is carved into fourths. We entered at the Industrial, that chaotic mess! Now we’re in the Market.” He explained. He stared as Varys suddenly fell down, and he hurried to his side. He grabbed the offered hand to help his apprentice up, wincing apologetically.

“Someone knew your old man here?” Jon asked with a frown. “You looked like you’d been punched in the nose! Whoever it is, they caught onto you right away.” He patted Varys, and bade the cart to follow them into the Market. He carefully pulled it to the side, where a wide lip prevented the floor from carrying it away while they sat at a bar open to the street.

“Two pints of bitter.” Jon asked the bartender, and set Varys’ in front of him. “So, earlier...pet houses are where Persian’s expensive slaves go to earn their keep. I know what you’re thinking but it’s not a brothel. Pets are trained in the services, bodyguards, accounting...pretty much anything a man could use around the house. It’s like an inn where you can purchase the staff.” He explained, taking a sip of his beer. Thank the gods it was cold as ice. The city was hot, almost unbearably so. “And it’s not always this sweltering. The Inner Wheel is cooler.”

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys sank into the seat across from Jon, eager for a drink that could take the edge off of the throbbing pain where his face had smacked the floor. It was always something, especially when it came to trouble on their tail. Somehow, he doubted the voice that had called to him was some long lost lover of his father wanting to reconnect. The bartender served them their drinks, and Varys took a sip of the bitter grog, shrugging at Jonathan's complaints of the heat. "The heat never bothered me much. I think I grew used to it living on the streets, to some extent. It's warm, but I can bear this much at least."

He downed his drink rather quickly, though whether that was out of thirst or out of nervousness was definitely up for debate. "I don't know, Jon... I think I might have preferred the brothel option. I'm not exactly a big fan of the slave trade either." He mumbled into his glass. It was a place to stay, so he wasn't going to complain too much. Still, bunking in a slave market wasn't his ideal retreat. "This city is a good reminder that being complex and intricate isn't always so great. Sometimes it's just damned overcomplicated. I guess once you learn the layout it'd be alright, though."

His finger-tips drum against his glass, his golden hued eyes sliding shut in thought. He spoke aloud, though it didn't seem like it was particularly intentional. He was more or less musing to himself. "For somebody to notice me so quickly, they must have direct access to the list being taken outside. That probably means whoever the woman who's calling to me is, they're powerful." Setting his glass down on the table, he stretches out and leans back, smirking at Jonathan. "Not the idea I had of a vacation, boss. I guess I can trust you though, you've never steered me into danger before." He teased.

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Jonathan chuckled. “This isn’t a slave trade like you’re thinking, Varys. People compete to end up here. Pets are well taken care of; it’s actually illegal to strike one here. If you see anything with a fancy collar best to keep your temper in check.” He took a swallow of his drink, thinking. “Who the hell could have known your old man here? Could he have researched how to make homunculi here? This place has a gigantic library.”

Jonathan downed his drink and set the glass down. “Well what I’m hoping to do is get you trained up a bit. We’ll settle in at the pet house and tomorrow I’m dropping you off at the library.” He said lightly. He patted Varys’ shoulder. “This place you just have to learn. Once you learn Pedeo you’ll be just fine.”

He stood up and beckoned. “Come on, I can’t wait to sink into a bath and get a massage.”

San’Seya, come to the Centre Wheel. I would have a word with you. I haven’t seen you in years.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys swings one leg over the other, crossing his arms as Jonathan clarifies. He supposed it wasn't too hard to believe; some people enjoyed being submissive towards a master, and if they were as protected and pampered as Jon made them sound, he didn't doubt that personal pride might get thrown out of the window in return for a life of servitude mixed with privilege. "Have you known me to be a violent man, Jon?" He snickers, rising to join him in departing for the club. "I'm actually looking forward to that. If I'm going to be stuck here, I'm going to make full use of it. Just be sure to pick me up from school in time, okay?" He joked.

There it was again, that damned voice.

Instinctively, he raised his hand to the side of his head and winced. It wasn't nearly as bad as last time, but it was far from comfortable. "There it is again! It's a woman... wants me to meet her at the Centre Wheel." He shakes his head, trying to dispel the echo of her words in his head. "I don't know, I thought this place would less likely to have ties to him. If she's somebody who has power here, it'd probably be a bad idea to piss her off, no?" He stopped, turning toward the direction of the Centre Wheel. He doubted this was going to stop if he just ignored it... Maybe it was better to face it head on?

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

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“You haven’t met some of these bratty pleasure pets. Let’s just say some of them damn well know they cost more than the salary of your average mercenary company.” Jon pointed out. He laughed and punched Varys playfully in the shoulder. “Eat all your lunch and play nice with the other children Varys.”

He blinked, and was barely able to grab the back of Varys’ shirt collar. “The Centre Wheel is Persian’s personal home! We’re not about to go barging in on the man’s doorstep, are you mad?! We’re trying to get hired, not make these collars permanent.” He said sharply. “Ignore the voice. Come on with me, let’s get settled and ask someone about this female voice you’re hearing. Help me move the cart, you crazy elf. Five minutes in and you’re already trying to get into the city founder’s foyer.”

Varys
 

Varys

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The white-haired one is pulled back in the other direction by his master, spinning on his feet to face Jonathan. He pulls back a bit, calmly placing a hand on Jon's forearm and frowning. "But if she's important enough to be in Persian's home, couldn't ignoring her hold similar consequences? If she's working with Persian, I don't want to get pegged for ignoring an official summons or something of the sort." He understood his master's trepidation, but he also knew that ignoring problems usually only led to their worsening.

Even more so, he was fed up of being tied down by people who'd known his father. He'd put enough of that behind him to almost feel comfortable using his true last name, but he too easily forgot the man previously tied to it. Putting down his full name on the list had been a mistake that he himself had made, and he didn't want to risk putting Jonathan at risk because of it. Jon was too important.

"I understand why you're not thrilled with the idea, but ignoring this won't make it go away. We'll need to address it sooner or later. I won't make you come with me, but I'm sick and tired of being flogged by my father's business. You know as well as I do how frustrating it is when your parents shadow follows you around."

He actually hadn't mentioned that he knew about Jonathan's mother before, but his statement held true regardless of that knowledge. "If you really want to take me home, I won't fight you. Tomorrow, I'm dealing with this though."

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Jonathan chewed his lip. “Listen to me, Varys. This place may seem chaotic but the minute you walk into the Inner Wheel it’s another world. Please. Let’s get the cart protected and checked in, and we can go. It’s only an hour or so. You could be rushing into a trap.” He said quietly. He patted Varys’ shoulder and smiled a bit. “I’m not ignoring this. We shouldn’t ignore this. But this place can be dangerous. You have to be careful, especially someone calling you by your father’s name. I love you, Varys. I don’t want anything to happen to you. We’ll go in the morning.”

He touched the cart. “Come on, let’s not dawdle.” Jonathan kept the cart rolling around the Outer Wheel, keeping an eye on Varys. He needed his apprentice to stay close. To his credit, the pet house looked like a small and pleasant inn. Jonathan settled the cart into the stables around the back of the inn. It was all rich, dark wood and quiet gardens despite the massive broiling chaos in the rest of the Outer Wheel. They had two rooms, both of which were clean and fairly bare. There were fluffy beds on the floor, the mattresses held up by a narrow bamboo platform, with plentiful white pillows.

There was a low chest of drawers in each room, a window that opened out to the Outer Wheel, and a large stone bathtub. A small plaque alerted the occupant that baths could be purchased for a few coins, and massages for a few more. The pet who led Varys up to his room was a pretty young elf with a simple gold and Pearl collar around her throat. She bowed low to Varys.

“Please make yourself comfortable. There is a book on the table if you wish for a bed companion, a menu to order from the kitchen, and hot water is available all day and night.” The pet said lightly. “My name is Hana, don’t hesitate to ask for me. Your master is in the adjacent room.” She turned and slid the paper and wood door across, giving the room the appearance of having no door at all.

San’Seya...I have given you a home here. Why do you neglect it? Your staff awaits, as they have waited. Your estate is small but finely made...and you sleep in the gutter.

Varys
 

Varys

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To say that Jonathan's words of concern touched him would probably be a massive understatement. It was true, he was being as reckless as he oft tended to be. Jonathan was only trying to prevent him from falling into danger, from being burned by the fire that hearing his father's name ignited in his gut. Jonathan likely understood his dilemma more than most would, what with his own complicated relationship with his mother. Varys could only imagine the pang of emotion that came with hearing her name. The difference was that Jonathan hid his emotions much, much more adeptly. His face falls a bit, his blood calming at Jonathan's assurances. Before the man pulled his hand away, Varys pulled him in, hugging him for a moment as he spoke.

"Thanks..."

He stepped back, nodding his head. Together, they moved the cart along the way. Varys seemed to be a deal quieter now, ruminating on Jonathan's words. He couldn't allow his own personal desire to unravel his origins to get in the way of his studies. It was that stubborn-headedness that had plagued him his entire life.

The pet house didn't look like anything he'd expected, just as his master had advised him. Certainly, it held no resemblance to a slaver's hideaway. On the contrary, it looked more inviting than some of the inn's they'd slept in at the more wealthy kingdoms of Arethil. He pursed his lips, letting out a small whistle as they approached. "Not bad at all. You weren't pulling my ear after all, old timer." He joked, nudging Jon with his elbow. "Try not to blow what we do have saved up on women, Hob and I worked hard for all that."

Going their separate ways, Varys stretched as he followed the pet-elf up to his room. She was about his age, he'd guessed. She was definitely the type his rag-tag group of vagabonds would fawn over if they'd seen her in the slums of Fal'Addas, but it was just as Jonathan had told him; despite her polite demeanor, there was an aura of arrogance about her. He supposed that came with being an expensive service in and of herself. He nodded to her as she departed, waiting until she'd sealed the room before allowing himself to take a deep breath.

The room was cozy enough, and the warm looking bed was as inviting as all hells after the trip they'd had to get here. Sliding his shirt from his body and tossing it aside, he reaches behind his head and unties his hair, before falling back on the mattress with a soft sigh. Turning his head, he eyes the book laid on the mattress for him. He certainly wasn't planning on ordering any company, if for no other reason than out of loyalty to Hob. Still, curiosity got the better of him.

As he reached for the book though, that damned voice blasted his eardrums once more, dressing him down for his choice of lodging. Estate? Staff? Did his father own property here? If he did... that would certainly make things easier on Jon and himself. Yes, this could work to his advantage. He could kill two birds with one stone, learning more about his father, and securing room and board for them at no cost.

He'd reply to her the same way she called him. He'd play along with her.

Closing his eyes, he seeks out the echo of her words in his mind, reaching out with an intangible hand and wrapping his fingers around her voice. With a soft tug he pulls it closer, inhaling it into his lungs and letting his body know every vibration. How this truly worked he had little clue, but imagining such a thing usually made this process easier for him.

"Tomorrow." He spoke aloud. "I'm staying with an associate tonight, and I cannot be interrupted. They have waited this long, one more night will not do them harm. I request your patience, my work has left my memory somewhat disjointed, and I must re-acquaint myself with Pedeo."

He waited for a response. Five minutes passed, then ten.

Perhaps she'd gotten the hint, maybe he would be able to sleep without this woman, who somehow knew where he was at all times, chastising him for his choices. Reaching for the book again, he cracks it open, still half expecting to hear another booming message.

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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“You know I’m not much for whoring.” Jonathan told him affectionately. Thank the gods, the pet house was lovely. The East Lily specialized in comfort and warmth, and Jonathan wanted to take full advantage of it. He paid for two days, beyond which he was hoping to move to the Inner Wheel pet houses, and ordered a bath. He settled into the hot stone bath, the hot granite settling against his aching skin. He scrubbed with rose soap and half-napped, content.

The book Varys picked up had very unusual pages. There was a painting with a face and a name, and a sketch of the persons genitalia. If he touched the sketch, it would feel shockingly real. It was a menu, a selection of people and their particular skills.

Jonathan paid for the massage and gleefully relaxed into bed, asleep before his head hit the pillow. Varys was on his own for now, and the voice was silent. Sulky, but silent.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys tossed the book aside rather disgustedly. He wasn't nearly that desperate for attention, at least not yet anyway. There was enough on his mind as it was without the guilt that would come with ordering a bedmate. A part of him wanted to rise up, draw himself a bath and relax the night away. That would have been best for him after the day he'd had, surely.

He couldn't bring himself to rise to his feet, however. He was exhausted, and while the aching of his head prevented him from sleep, he couldn't do much else besides lay about and ponder the day behind him. After an hour or so, the headache subsided, and sleep finally began to take him.

He rose early, before the dawn had broken.

He didn't remember waking up, only opening his eyes to look out the window at the city outside. His hands were pressed against the glass, his hair hanging over his face. His breath came in heavy pants, and bared his skin shone with a thin sheen of sweat. He stared at himself in the reflection there, searching his own eyes for answers to questions he knew he didn't have the resolutions to.

A nightmare. A terrible one.

He couldn't remember it's contents, only the terror it inflicted upon him. Marks lined his chest, where he'd dug his own nails against his skin. The angry red markings stuck out like a sore thumb against his pale skin. Ordering a bath, he soaked himself for an hour or so, still lost in the haze that had come with whatever terrors had been delivered to him the previous evening.

It was too early to leave; Jon would still be asleep, and even if he wanted fresh air, he didn't know the place well enough to go on his own. Forgoing a shirt and choosing to let his skin breathe, he found the switch to his door and left his room. He found a spot in the main room of the house, it's traffic lessened due to the early hour, and sat down. If he could just breathe... get away from that room for a moment and breathe...

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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Varys wasn’t alone long. The pet who’d checked him into his room, Hana, settled a pot of coffee and an elegant hobnail cup next to him. “Some people have problems adjusting to being indoors like this; I wouldn’t worry.” She told him with a quiet smile. She settled on a couch. “Breathe deep in through your nose and out through your mouth. Jonathan said you were a Transmuter...a Speaker? A lot of citizens here for you to speak to who aren’t necessarily breathing.”

She patted him. “Drink your coffee; it’s complementary.” Hana flashed him a welcoming smile and headed back toward the kitchen, no doubt preparing to cook for hungry mouths still asleep upstairs. The smells of hot miso soup and fresh rice wafted through the main room. Pets busied themselves cleaning or taking baths themselves before they had to draw some for customers.

You didn’t sleep well, San’Seya. I could feel it. Come out of the slums and refresh yourself at the Baths. I’ll be waiting for you. Pay the guards no mind; they won’t bother you.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys' hands raised up to his face, his digits desperate to clear some invisible web of haze from his vision. This was no time to be a mental wreck, not when there was so much to be done. Normally, this was when Hob or Jon would offer him words of encouragement or comfort. He couldn't rely on them forever though; He would eventually need to be able to stand on his own.

He lowers his palms back into his lap, and sees a warm cup of coffee sat in front of him. He looks up at the other elf, Hana he thought her name had been? Immediately, he felt a bit of remorse for his previous assessment of her. She wasn't obligated to offer him words of comfort, but as he wrapped his hand around the fancy looking cup, the corner of his lips raised into a grateful smile. "Thank you. The city itself has been surprisingly introverted. It's something else..." He nodded to her. "I'll be okay, Hana. Thank you for checking on me."

He quietly sipped on the coffee, the heat rising off of the cup beating his forehead and relaxing him bit by bit. His muscles loosened, and his body leaned back against his seat. He could almost drift back to sleep, right then and there...

But the mysterious associate who ceaselessly hounded him couldn't allow him such a moment of peace.

There was no headache this time though, no pounding echo of a voice so familiar and yet still foreign. He was done playing this game with her. Placing his cup down on the small table beside the couch Hana had sat on, he rose to his feet with the energy of a man much more rested than himself. Without struggle, he called back to the voice defiantly.

"I believe I requested the decency of being left alone? What part of patience did you not understand? You of all people should know the situation that I'm in!"

The words seemed to come on their own, building on the idea that he was who she thought he was. He needed her to be none the wiser to his true identity.

"I will meet you at the baths, but I hope you have a good reason for pestering me so. Else my attention may not be held long."

He quickly returned to his room, retrieving his jacket, a handful of coins, and a scrap of paper. Throwing the jacket on over his bare torso, he returned to the sitting area. Hana would likely return to collect the expensive looking cup, and beside it she would find a small pile of coins, and a handwritten note from Varys.

"If Jonathan awakes before I return, stall him for me. I shouldn't be long."

Varys clenched his jacket close to his body as he exited out onto the streets. The dawn hadn't broken yet, and the hustle and bustle of Pedeo hadn't quite gotten into full swing. The roads weren't nearly as cramped as they had been the evening prior. He knew little of this town, but now, stumbling out of the slums... He found that he knew exactly where he was going.

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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You know where you are, San’Seya, don’t push me.

The voice had gone from hounding to surprisingly cold. She’d obviously taken offense to that. She was willing to wait for him, though.

Hana did indeed return for the coffee cup, and shook her head at the coins. She would put them on his bed in the room...but she’d take the note and quietly destroy it. Whatever transpired between Jon and his apprentice was none of her business. She cleaned up, but she also refused to wake the slumbering transmuter.

Heading from the Outer Wheel to the Inner was quite a jarring experience. Varys would have to find the entrance first, an elegant doorway that slid open and closed as the Inner Wheel turned counter to the Outer. Two guards watched the Inner Wheel gate, but as the voice had predicted simply nodded at Varys and only held him long enough until it was safe to cross.

Immediately, there was a difference. Clean cobblestone streets, elegant lawns, and estates. The shops here were clean and inviting. There were parks with trees and shrubs, botanical gardens, even a zoo. Clearly the upper class of Pedeo liked their neighborhood calm, refined, and expensive. Pets roamed the Inner Wheel, on errands or just enjoying a walk. Several eyed Varys as he headed through the white stone streets.

The bathhouse was a tall, wide building paned in emerald glass. A pet sitting at a desk just inside the door eyed Varys. “A bath for you, sir? You look as though you’ve come from the Outer Wheel.” The pet offered.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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He'd half expected to be taken down by the guards on station at the gates to the Inner Wheel. He was a half-clothed Elf wandering the Outer Wheel of Pedeo. It wouldn't be unusual to take him for a man of considerable poverty. Not that he was particularly wealthy in reality, but nevertheless. It took him a bit of time to find the spot where the wheels connected at a point he could cross through, and while he only received a nod from the men in regards to his presence, he felt as though there was something they wished to say, but hadn't. Perhaps his mind playing tricks on him again...

The change in scenery was enough to cause a person whiplash, the cramped dilapidated scenery he'd just begun to get accustomed to in the slums of the Outer Wheel replaced with the sleek designs, lush vegetation and modern architecture to rival the most aristocratic districts in any city on the continent. The air itself shifted, no longer saturated with the smell of metal and dust, it filled his lungs with a fresh and crisp air that made him remember the forests back home. He stood just past the gate for some time, just reveling in it.

When his feet finally began to move once more, it was without the hesitation that weighed him down before. He'd already come this far, there was far from any point in turning back. The eyes he felt on him, the soft sounds of animals as he passed enclosures and displays, they all soared past him. The tall, emerald paned building was in his sight, and he was sick of the mystery, of the drama and the cloak and dagger bullshit.

He stops at the desk, leaning over and nodding to the Pet. "Yes. My name is San'Seya. Somebody should be expecting me."

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

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The pet at the front nodded and settled a set of towels, fluffy and black, and a matching robe on the counter. “Here is your robe and towels. You can change in those rooms there to your left; your things will be boxed.” The pet settled a small bronze tag on top. “The box will match your tag, please don’t lose it.” The pet smiled at him, then settled down.

The baths were a gigantic open space, with deep rectangular baths set into the floor. There was a bath that was unscented and filled with cool water to Varys’ left, tiled in emerald green. Front and center was a massive and deep bath with rose oils that was steaming. Most people were settled along its edges, conversing, napping, even eating snacks from bronze trays filled with meats and sweetened nuts. To the right was a deep mud pit, bubbling and frothing with a volcanic mixture meant to help skin quality. Varys had his choice of baths, but there were no women there not wearing collars.

Relax, San’Seya. Order a drink and breathe. Or have you truly forgotten me? You are looking for a woman, and yet you’ve already found me. I am Pedeo. I am the city of iron and commerce. And I was once in love with you.

Varys
 

Varys

~~The Elven Apprentice~~
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Varys took the robe and towels from the pet with only the politest of expressions on his face, hiding his unpleasant emotions to the best of his ability. He didn't plan on bathing, so the items really weren't of much consequence. Nevertheless, he changed out of courtesy, palming the tag as he entered the bathing room with all the trepidation of a man who was somewhere far out of his element.

The bathing chambers were impressive, there was no doubt. The normal, clean looking water in emerald tile definitely seemed more Varys' style, moreso than the rosey steam bath that had plenty of occupants lounging about it. Gah, it made him want to gag, the idea of bathing in such a communal setting. He couldn't understand the wealthy mind, or the appeal it saw in lathering oneself in that disgustingly flowery scent. Still, it bothered him that the only females in the room seemed to be doting pets. Certainly one of them hadn't called him...

Then the voice rang out again, and this time it was clear as day. The longer it spoke, the more he understood. It was not a woman calling him through some... Telepathic power. It was his ability as a speaker, picking up the voice of that around him like it normally did. The entire city was calling him at once.

Realizing the sheer weight of the voice sent his hands to his head, threatened to knock him over.

"You're the city itself. I didn't see it before but..." He shakes his head. He had to remain calm. "How long has it been then? What happened the last time I was here? My memory is impaired, as I mentioned..." Stick to his story, figure out... what this meant. What were the implications?

Jonathan Burr
 

Jonathan Burr

The Fireworks Master
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It has been years. I thought you would return for Auction, but ten have passed without you. More. I wondered what had been keeping you, but you don’t feel like yourself. The emerald water slithered around his body, embracing him, touching him. Between his legs, his stomach, his feet. It felt like hands of water investigating him. You feel different, San’Seya. You feel younger. You did it. You’re in a new body...which may explain the memory loss. Don’t worry. I’ll help you remember. Fingers up his back and along his ribs.

The water warmed comfortably around his body. I was a bit surprised you hadn’t rushed right to the Library. Or to Persian, to prove that your theories on homunculi worked. He didn’t believe you but I did. I granted you the iron to make a man.

Varys