Fate - First Reply Wine on Parchment

A 1x1 Roleplay where the first writer to respond can join


The Necromancer
Character Biography
Harrier Wren kept a shop in Elbion these days, or some of these days: she wandered too much to make any claim to constancy.

Her shop fixed ruined books. Business was excellent. The front counter held a stack of letters from the College insisting that she cease and desist her disreputable magic. Scholars didn't meet her eye when they came in, but come in they did. She'd spent half her exile in the moldering library at Crossroad Mire: few alive could claim such expertise in the conservation of absolutely ruined magical texts.

There was a time - most of her adult life, in fact - when she'd been unable to walk openly in her hometown, let alone the College that had meant so much to her. But dragon-ruined Elbion was not all it had been. And though some Maesters would cast her out if they could, they couldn't. Or at least they hadn't yet.

The doorbell dinged. Harrier looked up from the latest you-are-unwelcome letter and put on a smile.
  • Sip
Reactions: Vardan
Xia held the book tightly in her arms as she walked- or rather, glided- down the cobbled road between the store fronts, humming a soft tune as she moved. She stopped outside the shop that claimed to fix ruined books, especially books of a magical nature.

The book in Xia's arms was not like other books. Instead of lines of words, there were lines of music. Music was a kind of magic, and quite literally for Xia. She had found the book in the archives at the College of Elbion. It was in need of great repair- its binding was falling apart, pages falling out at random. Some pages were so stained with age, ink, and other unidentifiable things that the music was nigh impossible to read. In bringing the book here, she hoped it could be restored, because Xia had a feeling this ancient music book would play songs yet unheard.

She walked in to the shop, the bell over the door giving a cheery little ring, despite the dim inside, and the rather strange looking woman sitting behind the counter.

"Hello," Xia said, her voice its own sort of music.

  • Yay
Reactions: Harrier
There were days, like in any line of work, when the task at hand bored Harrier to tears. Today was not one of them. The book in Xia's arms looked just ruined enough to be a challenge. It wasn't a book Harrier recognized from her long-past years as a Maester of the College. It might contain anything.

She repaired books because she was good at it and could make a living that way with limited personal risk. But seeing inside all manner of books of magic didn't hurt either.

"Good evening," the necromancer said, and meant it. "What do you have here, friend?"
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Xia
Xia could sense a bit of excitement on the woman in front of her, but she was harder to read than others. She didn't worry about it, but walked forward and set the book on the front table. "It's an old music book," she said, opening the large cover carefully. She traced a thin finger down one of the stiff, yellowed pages.

"I would like to be able to read and play the music. How long would fixing it take, and how much would it cost?"

Xia knew better than to ask if Harrier could do it, for she had heard tales of her little book repair shop from other students who had visited and knew she did her job well.
  • Yay
Reactions: Harrier
"Hmmm. Stiff pages, discoloration, stains, broken binding, loose pages...this is salvageable, but I need to know what value it has to you. Do you want to preserve it as an artifact? Do you want it fully restored, made to look as new as possible? Do you just want it usable, readable, intact? Those are three very different jobs that take different approaches. So, friend...what is this book to you? And how much latitude do you have if extreme measures are required? Is it yours?"

Many questions for Xia, all of them essential.
  • Sip
Reactions: Xia
Xia listened as Harrier asked question after question.

"I would like it usable, readable, and intact," she replied, using Harrier's own words. "It is not mine, it is the college's, but I can pay for your services without problem."

She had brought the book to one of her music instructors and he had eagerly encouraged her to read it, implying that she should get it fixed by Harrier without explicitly saying anything. It seemed the woman was not exactly on good terms with the college. It did not matter to Xia; as long as Harrier did her job, Xia would pay and be grateful for it.
  • Yay
Reactions: Harrier
This felt like an opportunity. Though she'd sneaked into the College library once or twice in past years, particularly since the dragon cataclysm, a more permanent arrangement could be valuable.

For Harrier, the simplest way to do that was to weave a quiet little ghost into the book.

Among the many odds and ends that cluttered her shop stood a bottle of something like wine. She left off examining the book on the counter and went to get the bottle and two earthenware cups.

"Have a drink with me," she said, coming back to the counter. "That's my only price for making this book usable, readable, and intact."

She had her reasons.

Xia could sense that the woman was interested, and considering something. She could only read emotions, not thoughts, and she got the distinct feeling that she didn't want to know what Harrier might be planning.

Harrier reached for a bottle of what Xia assumed was alcohol and poured two cups of it. It was a dark red liquid and smelled sweet. Normally Xia did not drink, but if that was the payment she wanted, she would provide it. It would be rude to refuse and Xia did not want to lose Harrier's interest.

"Thank you," she said, lifting the cup to her lips and taking a small sip once it was poured. It was very strong and she wondered if maybe Harrier was planning on drugging her and taking the book but then that wouldn't make for good business and Xia had the feeling that Harrier was a cunning business woman.

Harrier Wren
Harrier drank too, and plenty of it. There was nothing wrong with the wine, but certain...ideological opponents...within the Maesters always looked askance on anything she was involved in. If anyone asked Xia what Harrier had been up to, 'corrupting students with alcohol and disreputable company' would be a useful lightning rod for aggravation and suspicion. It might just help her get away with what she was actually going to get away with. And to that end...

"It'll take me about a week," she said. "In the meantime, how's the College these days? The Maesters still causing more problems than they solve?" A dry laugh. "Necromancy's still utterly banned, correct?"
A week. Xia was not surprised, at the state the book was in, and the skill she knew Harrier possessed. She took slow, small sips of the alcohol, savoring in the strong sweetness. It almost made her teeth ache, and already she was thinking about how she could play something so sweetly it made the listeners sick.

Harrier pulled her back to the present before she could get too lost in her head. "What else are they there for? With every question answered and problem solved there arises two new questions with problems in tow. But I do not try to interact with them, nor them with me." She paused. "Yes, necromancy is banned." Rather a specific question.

"Did you attend the college?" Xia asked, already guessing at the answer.

Harrier Wren
"I'm sure you'll hear it from others," said Harrier after a long drink, "so I'll save you time. I was a full Maester. I was exiled from Elbion and the College for necromancy.

"I've only recently come back home; the dragon attack changed so much that there was space for me here again, at the margins. So far I've eked out a living. I'm very good at book preservation and restoration. I have value," she added sourly. "And I've been careful not to do anything that would make them fear me more than they automatically do."

She left it there, curious whether and how Xia would react.
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Xia
A Maester. Xia was mildly surprised but she thought she ought to have known. "It is still magic," Xia replied, referring to necromancy. She could understand why people wanted it banned, but it was still a type of magic and while they probably shouldn't be teaching others how to practice it, it would have been valuable to learn the history and significance of it, rather than forbid it completely.

Xia took a sip of her drink, looking around the small shop. "You preserve and restore books as a quiet way to bother the college. Leave your influence," she said, more as a statement than a question. She was not as stupid or oblivious as some of the other students who came here, but she did not particularly care that Harrier did it. She wasn't hurting anybody.