Discussion in 'It's Galley's Turn' started by Luke_Ferrous, Mar 10, 2018.
Closed RP. Original universe urban fantasy. Cartoon-y violence, probably swears.
“MOM! Kitty's doll tried to kill me again!” Alastair Gwydion “Greg” Cartwright the fifth stormed down the stairs. Not only had Kitty's accident the night before involving her stickyhand, a can of paint, and the hardware store cost him his homework so he had to stay up and do it again, but he had woken up to Kitty's newest toy attempting to murder him with a pipe cleaner.
The doll had to go. There was no question about it. This was the sixth time, the sixth time, he had woken up to it attempting to stab him with a pipe cleaner. Well, technically the first time it had been a fork, and then he put the ward up to change all weapons into non weapons, but apparently the pokiness of pipe cleaner's didn't count as a weapon, and so his ward changed all weapons into pipe cleaners. It still needed a bit of work.
His mom was still upset her favorite pair of knitting needles were now pipe cleaners. He'd need to fix that.
“Did you do something to upset your sister?” his mother asked, calmly drinking some tea while checking her knitting pattern.
“Rainbow Dolly Dinosaur Explorer just thought you were a fish,” Kitty pouted, before reaching her hands out towards the glittery abomination that was masquerading as a doll. “You just don't like her. Give her back.”
“Because she stabbed me with a pipe cleaner! Again! And that doesn't make any sense!”
“No fighting at the table,” their mother said, not even glancing at the two of them. “Greg dear, give Kitty back her doll.”
“I'm telling you, there is something wrong with it. I put up five wards this time. Five. At least one of them should have stopped it,” Greg complained, obeying his mother as Kitty stuck her tongue out at him. Kitty started muttering nothings to the doll, and Greg narrowed his eyes at the doll the moment Kitty's head was turned. He could have sworn it glared back.
“Give Kitty some time Greg. Accidents happen,” his dad said, pouring himself some coffee.
“That's not… It's not…. It's the doll!” Greg tried again, frustrated. It wasn't one of Kitty's accidents, he was prepared for most of those. He hadn't actually been bothered by one during the night since Kitty was two. And that one when she was five, but he preferred to forget that one, hair problems aside.
But that doll. It had just waltzed into his room. It shouldn't have been able to waltz into his room. It shouldn't have made it to his bed. It definitely shouldn't know enough to try and poke him to death with a pipe cleaner. It knew too much to be one of Kitty's accidents. Plus, it had been like that when Kitty got it.
There was definitely something wrong with the doll.
Kitty was just going to have to find a new favorite toy. It's not like she'd remember this one in three days anyway. Now, Greg just needed to find someone who could deal with the doll.
Someone who wasn't his parents, and wouldn't ask stupid questions like “Did you ask your sister if you could disassemble her doll?”
There was only one place to go.
Tea and Charmalade.
Luckily it was pretty close to the house. He could stop in after class and find out if anyone could deal with the abomination. And he only had morning classes today, so he could go to school, and come back and pick up the doll and get it fixed without anyone the wiser. Better yet, Kitty had an after school art class today, so he would have plenty of time to come up with a substitute.
Possibly minus glitter. For some reason, there'd been a run on glitter at the store recently.
Greg put his hat on his unfortunately luminescent neon yellow hair (and after three years, he was beginning to think it might be permanent), and shouted goodbyes to his family. He might make it to class on time. He grabbed his backpack.
And it bit his hand.
Lorcan was having a lazy day. He’d made the executive decision to drag the TV out of storage and set up a marathon of Cake Wars. If all went well, he would spend the day lying on the couch in a T-shirt and jeans until takeout arrived.
He knew he should be using the time to tidy up. A nest of spiders had been making a valiant attempt to claim the corner by the window, and those two dozen empty jars of varnish on the dining table weren’t going to recycle themselves. Not for another couple of months, anyways. Don’t even get him started on the dust. Even with magic, keeping his apartment clean was a Sisyphean task, and not one Lorcan wanted to deal with the day after finishing up a major working. Today was about resting, recovering.
No, he absolutely did not hear the loud noise like someone knocking on his door. No, it did not sound urgent and like he really needed to answer that. Shut up.
“Every time,” Lorcan muttered. He turned to a lava lamp sitting on the table next to him. “Do you know who that is?” The thing didn’t answer. Lorcan rolled his eyes and turned off the TV.
That got his attention. “Bogus!” The lava lamp made his anger clear by lighting up red and…bubbling, slightly. Krakatoa, he was not. “I was watching that!”
“Look alive, Vulk. Was anyone supposed to come by today?”
“Yes,” the lamp said. “Wait. No. Wait. Can I change my answer?”
Vulk—somehow a master of the puppy dog pout despite not having lips—waved his plug at Lorcan accusingly. “You said I wouldn’t have to think today, hep cat. And you are harshing my mellow with your bad vibes. So not copacetic.”
Lorcan had made many mistakes in his life. Letting his sentient lava lamp familiar watch 60’s television was among the worst.
“I don’t remember anything on your calendar, Lorcan,” Operator informed him in a voice that always sounded like they were going through a tunnel. The phone, a faux-rotary with the old-fashioned vertical headset, liked to consider themself Lorcan’s secretary when Vulk wasn’t up to the task. Which was often.
“Thanks, Op.” He puzzled the issue over. If Op didn’t remember any appointment, it was a good bet there hadn’t been one.
Lorcan didn’t get many unannounced visitors. His packages tended to go straight to the mailroom, while maintenance had long since written his apartment off as a loss. And Lorcan hadn’t ordered any food today. Unless…he’d finally figured out how to pierce the veil of time and deliver takeout from the future.
He leaped over Doris the umbrella in his rush to the door. The stranger in the peephole was certainly dressed like a takeout guy—it was the hat that did it—but no food. “Dammit.”
“Is that food?” Vulk asked from the living room. “I’m jonesing for some grub.”
“For the last time, Vulk, you do not eat.” Lorcan pressed his face to the peephole again. Boy, was he glad that thing had never gained sentience. On a second look, the stranger was holding something. It was a glittery, sparkly rainbow-colored…doll? Huh. Not his usual forte, but he could work with that.
“Who is it?” one of the floor lamps asked.
Lorcan wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but—“I think it might be a client?”
Operator started ringing, handset rattling on the receiver. “We’ve got a client!” they shouted in perfect imitation of a bullhorn. “All hands and hand-like appendages on deck!”
There was a reason Lorcan’s neighbors didn’t like him much.
The things in his apartment worked quickly. The largest of his floor lamps, Frank, maneuvered itself in lumbering steps to the growing cobwebs, where the battle for the window corner met a swift and brutal end. Loretta, another lamp, knocked the varnish jars onto the floor to be gathered up by Terry the throw rug. Doug, meanwhile, had pulled a flannel shirt and waistcoat out of the hall closet. In the span of a minute, he’d spun Lorcan around, got both buttoned over the ratty T-shirt Lorcan had been wearing, and presented him with his shoes. Doug was a coatrack.
Vulk assisted by sitting on the table doing nothing. “I’m fragile!” he protested under Lorcan’s withering glare.
With everyone—more or less—helping, it didn’t take long for things to get presentable. Presenta-blish. Whatever, magic was cluttery. This client could deal. Lorcan stopped by the mirror next to the door.
He’d shaved that morning, which was good. His glasses were a touch askew; he adjusted them quick. The problem, as always, was his hair. He took the comb Doug offered and started smoothing it back. Lorcan’s hair was a point of bruised vanity. It was a very dark brown, or it should have been—instead, it was shot through with streaks of silver that were getting bigger by the day. God, he was going to be completely gray before he hit thirty. He caught a lock with the comb and flipped it. Was this good? Did it look good? Maybe it would be better the other way.
“Just answer the door, Lorcan,” the mirror told him.
He blinked. “Right.”
Lorcan opened the door. With a careful smile on his face, he held out a hand. “Lorcan Verdigris. How can I help you?”
Greg looked at the man standing in the doorway holding out his hand. With the grey streaks in his hair, Greg pegged him as around 40, 45. That's when people started to go grey, right? Besides his hair, he looked pretty young though. Maybe that was part of necromancer's powers? Well, he definitely fit the “weird” bit of “weird loner necromancer” like the guy at Tea and Charmalade said, but the muffled other voices Greg had heard through the door sort of made him question the “loner” bit.
Although, now that he could partially see into the apartment, there didn't seem to be any other people. Maybe Mr. Verdigris had some ghost friends? Did necromancers have ghost friends? Could there be friendly ghosts?
Greg decided that he had better get everything over with. He still had to make a substitute doll to distract Kitty. Or come up with a plausible excuse for why the abomination was missing. He reached out and clasped the other man's hand.
“Greg Cartwright. Mr. Verdigris, I need your help destroying this abomination.”
Lorcan looked at the 'abomination'. "O-kaaay. Cartwright, you said? Like the fiber arts family?"
Greg tried to hide his wince at the mention of family magic that he couldn't do. "Yeah, that's me. Or us, rather."
"Cool. Uh, come in," Lorcan said, with a warning glance to the things to keep quiet. "So, how much do you need this...destroyed? I don't go over a hundred, so you know."
"Uh, a hundred seems reasonable," Greg said, cursing to himself as he remembered he'd need to pay.
Lorcan considered that. He'd say ninety to play it safe. "And when do you need it by?"
"As soon as possible," Greg said. He wanted the whole thing done so could forget it.
"Well, I don't have anything scheduled for today." A petulant whine came from the table where Vulk sat. Lorcan was just going to ignore that. He reached a hand out for the doll. "So if you're fine with a rush job I could take care of this now. Coffee, or tea?"
"Coffee," Greg said gratefully. "It's been a long day."
Okay, so it wasn’t quite how Lorcan imagined he’d be spending the day. Still, a job was a job. Couldn’t exactly turn away a paying client, especially not one whose family was friends with his mom.
He set up in the kitchen, pulling a baggie of dark roast coffee grounds out of a cookie tin. Lorcan couldn’t remember the last time he’d had fresh coffee. Food went bad fast in Lorcan’s place, and while stale coffee was edible, it wasn’t something he’d serve to a guest. This stuff was the real deal, though. Artisan-grown and -roasted, hand-ground, and the perfect shade of mahogany. This was grade-A hipster brew, and Lorcan saved it for special occasions.
The kettle started heating up while Lorcan retrieved his supplies from various cookie tins scattered around the kitchen. It wasn’t exactly organized, but it was a system, dammit. Soon he had everything he needed to work on the doll…which was not on the table where he’d left it. Odd.
Lorcan crouched down. Maybe the thing had rolled off or something? No. Okay, then. He grabbed the edge of the counter and pulled himself up—right into the shoujo-anime gaze of the doll's big eyes.
He leaned on the counter. “I told you, not near the clients,” he whispered to whichever of his things had propped the doll up in a standing position next to the sink. Lorcan knew the things just wanted to help. But he had a hard rule that nobody broke cover around company unless imminent death was involved. Some people tended to freak out when inanimate objects moved on their own.
A plastic knife was sitting on the counter next to the doll. Lorcan picked it up. “A spoon would have been better, by the way.”
After loading the filter basket up with coffee grounds, it was time to start “destroying” the doll. Lorcan tried not to chuckle too hard at that. It wasn’t Greg’s fault if he didn’t really know the lingo; Lorcan practiced an unusual craft.
There was something meditative about a working like this—no aesthetic specifications from the client, just an instruction to, well, work his magic. Lorcan cut out a piece of sandpaper and began running it over the exposed plastic of the doll. Like most magics, it was as much an art as it was a craft. He added a scuff mark here, a scratch there. Glitter flaked off under the onslaught like rainbow snow. And with each scrape of the grit against plastic, Lorcan could feel his magic waking up. By the time kettle had let out a low whistle, the doll looked years older from wear and tear.
Lorcan poured one hot cup of coffee for Greg, one for himself, and the rest went into a large pot. When he came back from delivering refreshments, he found the doll positioned next to the pot, angled like it was trying to grip the sides.
“Well, I was going to wait until after it cooled a bit,” he said. Once this was all done, he was going to have to find whoever was doing this and give them a talk about backseat-spellcrafting.
That said…at a little less than boiling, the coffee shouldn’t be too hot for what he needed to do. Lorcan shrugged. He reached for a pair of tongs, picked up the doll, and dunked it in.
It had been a pretty cool day when he’d learned he could use coffee to work magic. He’d like it a bit more if his magic also helped him make coffee, but you took the bad with the good. It was, at least, a tasty way to get the effect he needed, and wasn't that alone worth celebrating? Taking a delicious, delicious sip from his own cup, Lorcan set an egg timer. Couldn't let the thing sit too long, after all. But it would take some time to hit the point of no return, and until then there wasn't much to do but wait.
Lorcan glanced back to his living room. He was going to have to actually talk to Greg now, wasn’t he? He sighed. Alright. Time to make some goddamn connections. Mom would be so proud.
Greg sat on the couch, fidgeting a bit while staring at the tv. He’d have to go to the ATM to get money to pay Mr. Verdigris. And then come up with a believable story as for why he took $100 out of the “Magical Emergency Crisis” funds. And scrounge around his room for money to pay back the hundred if his story didn’t work. Maybe he’d find an uncashed check.
Did that lamp just move?
Greg heard some movement coming from the kitchen where Mr. Verdigris was clearly making coffee and...sandpapering sounds? Maybe there was some symbol he needed to remove and the doll wouldn’t be haunted anymore. Or he was getting rid of all that glitter? Greg had noticed that Kitty’s glitter stickers tended to not be helpful in his workings. Maybe it wasn’t the brand but glitter that caused his mishap.
All right, this time that lamp definitely moved.
Giving the lamp a suspicious look, he pulled out his phone to pass the time. He had just lost another life on his app when Mr Verdigris came out with coffee. Greg murmured a thank you, glaring at his phone. He heard Mr. Verdigris go back into the kitchen and drop something, the doll maybe, into some kind of liquid. It probably wasn’t blood, right? Or at least not human blood.
Did necromancers take their payment in blood? Did Greg just accidentally agree to give 100 liters of blood? Did he even have that much blood? Would he be paying for this working for years?
Wait, had the lamp always been unplugged?
Greg looked up from his close examination of the lamp as he heard Mr. Verdigris walk back into the room, sadly minus more coffee. “Does that lamp look like it's moving?”
"A lamp, moving?" Lorcan asked. Vulk. They were going to have words after this. The little bastard had nearly grabbed the remote, too. Those outlet prongs were surprisingly dexterous. He picked up the TV remote and put it on his bookshelf next to Frank, who he trusted not to scare off the client as soon as his back was turned. "I think you're seeing things."
Greg shrugged. Maybe living with Kitty was making him paranoid. “Well, you might want to plug it in. Batteries are probably going to run out.”
Lorcan rolled his eyes. "No, he'll be fine."
“He?” Greg asked, before shaking his head. He shouldn’t say anything. It was probably like how his dad called his boat she, and his mom called her yarn bag he. Or like Arch Commander of Security was a she. He’d need to check on her soon. “This coffee is pretty good. Do you have any more?”
"Uh. Kind of used the rest of it." Yeah, Lorcan didn't want to consider what weird magic side effects drinking that would cause.
Greg tried to hide his relief at that. So the doll had been dipped in coffee, not blood. Wait, what did coffee have to do with necromancy? Was it a special blend for necromancers? Did it have blood in it? What if it tasted so good because of blood? Greg tried to focus on a safe line of thought. “How often do you have customers? You’re kind of specialized.”
Lorcan snorted. "That's putting it lightly. But there is a market for what I do. Well. Two markets," he amended. "But one is kind of shady. I get enough customers to stay afloat. Usually." And when he didn't, he reminded the landlord that selling his apartment after he left would be damn near impossible. Hooray for weird and contagious magics.
Greg smiled a bit. Sounds like Mr. Verdigris did not do the really weird bit of necromancy. That meant probably no dead bodies. His curiosity overcame him. “I don’t know this branch of magic well. All I know is the theory of fiber arts, and uh, stickers. And I know enough to be afraid of stickyhands.”
Really? He wanted to learn more about what Lorcan did? That was...a pleasant change. Maybe he could do this social thing after all.
"Um, well, how do I explain it?" It was an honest question. He didn't talk about his magic often, and never to someone who didn't already know the basic principles. There probably wasn't much overlap with fiber arts or stickers. Actually...
"You know decoupage?" Lorcan pressed on without waiting for an answer. "So life is like that. You start off with a scrapbook, or whatever it is people use to decoupage." It was possible Lorcan had only ever dabbled in the art. He couldn't stop now, though--he was in too deep. "It's empty at first, but as time passes you start gluing in pictures and shapes and maybe glitter I don't know. It looks different after a while, but that's because it is different. It's not a book with stuff glued in--the stuff glued in is the book now. It's just another layer to it. And the book is changed for it. What I do, my magic, is just reverse cause and effect. I create the layer first, and magic fills in the gaps, glazes it with radiocarbons and puts the pot in the kiln to fire. ...I think I lost track of the metaphor." This was why he didn't talk to people who weren't sentient lamps. His sister Aislin would have a field day if she'd heard about him trying to be poetic. And she would, inevitably.
Whatever. That could wait until the next family dinner. He turned his attention back to Greg. "Does that make sense?"
Greg blinked, trying to parse the metaphor. So, Mr. Verdigris could create life? That seemed...overly powerful. But, he could sort of understand the metaphor. People were empty scrapbooks whose life experiences got added to it, but by adding to it became it. New meaning to blank slates. And Mr. Verdigris took what could be and made that and magic made what could be be. But how far could that go? “Does that mean you can create something from nothing, just by making the layer? Could you heal?” Wait, necromancy shouldn’t allow people to heal. That didn’t make sense. Stupid question Greg.
Uh. "Something from nothing, no," Lorcan said. "I'm still a hands-on kind of crafter, and that means I do need a base material to start with." And healing? Lorcan could use a glue gun, but he didn't think that qualified him as a healer. Unless Greg meant people? It wouldn't be the first time someone asked. "Ha, no, I can't heal people, thank goodness." He took a sip of his coffee. "That sounded callous. Um, people have a basic level of defense against generic enchantment. So I can't help people heal, buuuuuuut I also can't wither them to dust with my very presence. So, trade-offs."
Greg felt his brain short circuit. Wither to dust by being around? Well good that it didn’t affect people but... “wait, what?”
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