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Mystery of the Missing Mojo

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Mystery of the Missing Mojo

Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:23 am

12th of Arodus, 4711


It was early evening when the gentle rapping sounded upon the door to the magister's chamber.

Just that afternoon Wynnsaren and Matsuro Shi had returned from their journey to the meteor site and the most recent carnage that had been discovered. While she was glad that the Hound of Tindalos had been put down before it could be loosed upon the people of Novastasia, there was a nagging trouble that tugged at the edges of the oracle's thoughts. These were just symptoms. The Lurkers in the Light, the Hound, the Mi-Go. . . all of these troubles were simply symptoms of a larger problem; a disease, whose identity yet eluded them all. If left to fester or ignored for too long, Wynn feared that the darkness might well consume them all. Novastasia, Brevoy, the Riverlands . . . and beyond.

Arrangements were already being made for a trip to Silverhall to continue following the lead of the original excavation team. She hoped to find more answers there. Maybe even a new direction, but for now Wynnsaren was attending to a more immediate request. Zaistrun had asked to speak with her regarding a matter of importance.

The magister bade enter after hearing the knock and Wynnsaren swept inside carrying a platter full of food. She wore a dress of deep purple accented with a broad black sash at her waist and trimmed with a decorative black embroidery along the wide, square neckline.

"Lord Garess," she smiled as she managed a graceful curtsy in spite of her hands being quite full. "I hope you do not mind if I presume to join you for your meal? I took it upon myself to relieve the young Amalda of her burden and bring your dinner personally, though she did not seem pleased with my insistence. Should any fault be laid upon shoulders, lay them upon mine. The girl does her job most excellently."

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:38 pm

The young sorcerer was currently scratching his lip and looking at his stubble, wondering if he could passably grow a mustache or if he should remain trimmed when he heard the unfamiliar knock. He immediately went on the offensive, casting an illusion behind the door of him in his usual place, resting on the divan. After hearing Wynnsaren's voice, he relaxed a bit and let the illusion dissipate before he responded. As he opened the door his face betrayed nothing of what he was doing prior and he answered with perfect decorum.

"Good evening, Lady Wynsaren. I do wish you to come in. Allow me to relieve your burden." He took the food from her and took it to the small table between the two chairs in the center of his spacious living quarters where they had previously sat. He pulled off of the silver lid to the display of finely crafted and aromatic dishes. "A main course of roasted moonradish hearts in butter, freshly cut greens and a fresh sourdough loaf with fangberry jam made just two weeks prior." "It seems they have sent too much, Have you eaten? Perhaps your appetite might have already been decided by the smell. Not everyone enjoys moonradishes like I do, although I do restrict my casual eating of them to Sundays."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:42 pm

"You honor me with the invitation, Magister." She smiled and tipped her head, but all the while holding him in a curious gaze. The man was not at all acting himself lately. Even his manner of speech was off; the way he used ten words when two would normally suffice. Granted, she hadn't spent much time around him since before she left for Mivon over a month ago, but this change seemed strangely out of his nature. Perhaps that was the reason for the invitation.

"It just so happens that I adore moonradishes and while it is earlier in the evening than I am used to taking my meal, I will aid you in your task of clearing the tray so as not to disappoint the chef."

Wynnsaren opted not to share the fact that she often ate moonradishes when on hunts with Glas, though their preparation on such occasion did not involve butter and cream, but simply a hand to brush off the dirt before enjoying them. That didn't seem very 'ladylike' a quality to reveal to the noble-minded Zaistrun.

The ambassador sat lightly upon the divan and poured them each a goblet of cold water from the pitcher set on the tray.

"You know, I believe that Brynhilde used not only butter, but bacon fat in the sauce" She glanced up at him as she spooned a radish onto his plate and ladled a portion of the drippings over it. "I caught the scent of it on my way up. She has a habit of adding bacon fat to the meals when she feels you are looking a bit wan, being of the belief that a good spoon of bacon fat can solve most of a person's ails.

"In fact, I had cause to speak with her myself on the matter some time ago to explain that my pale coloration is not an indication of poor health nor too little fresh air." Wynn chuckled affectionately as she continued to serve. "She is a good woman, but I fear she misses looking after a brood of her own."

Wynnsaren sat back and lifted the goblet to her lips, taking a sip as she watched the sorcerer carefully.

"I will say, however, that she is normally quite perceptive. . . Have you been feeling yourself lately, my friend?"

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Re: Mystery of the Missing Mojo

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:45 pm

Zaistrun let out a slight sigh and sat. He waved his fingers across the radish dish and a bite-sized morsel came from the plate and floated up to and into his mouth. The sorcerer chewed slowly, savoring the flavor in his mouth before swallowing. "Bacon fat cannot cure my ills." He magically took another bite and politely chewed that one as well. "There's something wrong with my magic. I'm not exactly sure what, but it has not been as effective as of late. I was wondering if you could tell me if there is some sickness I might have which could explain it."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:44 pm

"Not as effective?" Wynn questioned. She wondered when he adopted this practice of forgoing utensils at a meal. "How long have you noticed something was off?"

She delicately cut one of the radish hearts in two, speared it with her fork and took a bite as she waiting for him to explain further.

Hopefully this wasn't the doing of one of those Lurkers in Light. . . Would they have targeted Zaistrun? Sure he was quirky, but Wynnsaren didn't believe him mentally compromised or deficient in any way. Quite suddenly she had some concern as to whether it would be appropriate to go looking for a scar. Maybe she would go find Sarala and have her do it since she had far better eyesight.

The aasimar smirked ever so slightly at her own wicked thought, but dismissed it as quickly as it had come.

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:57 am

"The issue began..." the sorcerer started, "...somewhere between the end of Erastus and the beginning of Arodus. I first noticed something against the great Owlbear we fought, but it was an exceptional creature that could be resistant to the meddling of magics, so that does not really speak of the beginning. The next place I noticed a problem was against the Lurkers in Light themselves, and then the Hound of Tindalos. And there's another thing. People have been looking at me like I am a stranger or I have said something odd. That has been happening in just the last couple of days. Normally this is not something that bothers me, but even I have noticed the change, especially since I have been unsettled."

He took a sip of his flavored water as his throat had started to dry. Under it all, he was quite shaken. The one time that he was being watched, he was not at his best. It needed to be addressed so he would not appear weak. "Diagnosing the problem has never been a strength of mine, and I am glad you responded to my request. Where do you think we could begin?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:39 am

Zaistrun's concern was written plainly upon his face and the sight of such disturbance to his normally unflappable nature, served to deepen her own worry. After lifting the goblet to her lips for another swallow of water, the oracle stood and moved around the small table between them to sit beside the young sorcerer.

"May I?" She asked politely, and after being offered a nod of assent she rested her hand against his forehead.

"It should be stated that my own spells struggled to take hold against the Lurkers and the Hound as well, but I believe these creatures are particularly difficult to affect with such things."

His head felt cool enough so she forced her stubborn eyes to focus on the man's pupils which did not seem dilated nor did his eyes appear clouded or give evidence of illness.

"Hmm. . .," the woman murmured. "I think your doubt of the effectiveness of your substantial ability may either be a coincidence or a symptom of something else going on. I too have noticed your behavior to be a bit. . . off over the last couple of days, but I have had trouble putting my finger on exactly why that is.

"I must admit that I chalked it up to simply the troubling circumstances we have been facing over the past days, but tonight I see that it goes beyond that."

Wynnsaren took his right hand gently into her own and pushed up the voluminous sleeve of his robe to check his pulse at his wrist. What she saw surprised her! On the back of his hand, his wrist and his forearm, three gems of green, orange and dark yellow shades respectively, were magically implanted into his flesh. She'd seen the ones on the back of the sorcerer's hands before, but the others had remained hidden from casual sight. And the stones were quite large!

"These are beautiful, Zaistrun," she admired openly, pushing up other sleeve to reveal four more gems. The skin seemed healthy around the gems. . .no inflammation or swelling. Wynn hmm'ed to herself once more.

"Have you noticed any physical difficulties at all? Weakness? Dizziness? Any pain?

"Have these been troubling you?" The aasimar brushed her fingers over the large, white topaz on his left forearm. She knew that the gems were somehow connected to his magic, and if he felt that his magical control had been compromised, maybe there was something wrong there.

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:41 am

A slight shiver ran down Zaistrun's spine as the oracle handled his arms, and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. His mind fluttered with wild thoughts scattering a thousand colored lights in his mind, but he focused his concentration on the issue. What was the issue again? Her hands were soft, caring, exploring. He felt extremely uncomfortable, but he had given her permission. He just had no idea what to do with the feeling of warmth radiating from his heart.

"Ah" he said out loud unintentionally, as suddenly the multitude of lights focused to a single white light of inspiration. This is what a mother is supposed to be like. How odd, he did not think it to feel so different from what his mother actually was. The last time his own mother had touched him was when she took a knife to his hands. He tried to pass off the exclamation as the response to her appreciation of the stones. "The Garess family name means 'Mountain', and mountains often contain hidden treasures. Although this is usually not meant literally."

"The ones on my hands were implanted, and the rest grew in like teeth in an infant. I do not think they have anything to do with my present troubles, as they have been growing in for over a year. To be honest, I am not sure why or how it happens, but sorcerers often have physical manifestations of their magic in their flesh. Anything from glowing eyes to growing scales or fur, pigmentation of the skin, horns, wings, fangs, claws, and some things even fouler, I should be happy that at least my manifestations are this benign and easy to hide, although I'm sure that some rogue would not mind carving them out and testing their worth." He removed his hands from her soft touch and replaced his sleeves to their proper place.

"Concerning my health, I have a profound sense of unease, but no real physical aches or pains or even blackouts or digestion problems. I have been easier to unsteady for the last few days as well."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:49 am

"Yes, I can see that. . ." Wynnsaren was not oblivious to the effect her simple touch had on the man, but she was surprised by it, and watched him curiously as he awkwardly pulled his hands away.

Strong as the Mountains. . .

The young lord of Garess was like a mountain in many ways. He'd erected these impenetrable stone walls to fortify himself against a cruel world and a difficult upbringing but something very recently had caused fissures in that rocky citadel and the stone was crumbling away at the edges allowing his vulnerabilities to show though. No wonder Zaistrun wanted this problem dealt with as soon as possible! She guessed that few things in life scared him more than being truly vulnerable.

"This doesn't seem to be a physical malady at all, but something affecting your mental capacity. . . your very sense of self." The aasimar sat back and gave him a bit of breathing room while she pondered his condition. She considered asking if he and Sarala hadn't gotten into it again in the last few days, thinking that one thing that could definitely shake a man's esteem would be the rejection of the girl he fancied, but if the two of them had gotten into a heated argument, she was pretty sure the sylph would have come talk to her about it. They'd been doing a lot of talking over the last week since she'd returned from Mivon. It had been a long time since Wynn had a girlfriend to share things with, and considering how little time she seemed to spend in Akiros anymore, she sought to take advantage of Sarala's company when she could!

Turning her thoughts back to the matter at hand, the oracle attempted to recall anything strange that might have affected Zaistrun in particular over the last few days.

"When we were inside the meteor," she began, "you were savaged pretty badly by that Hound. . . Sarala was as well, and she contracted some sort of disease from the blue ichor on the beast's back that affected her mind, though it manifested itself as a sort differently. A sort of forgetfulness.

"Also, you were attacked by a Lurker when we were fighting their master. . . He might have had a substance on the blade that is causing this uncharacteristic change in behavior. But. . ." Wynn cupped her chin in her hand as she looked him over, and tapped her lip with her index finger before continuing her dialogue. "This doesn't seem like poison. The wounds have healed properly and it has been a couple of days since that conflict.

"You did handle that strange sphere we found beside the mi-go in the meteor, but I was the first to pick it up and seem to have suffered no ill effects. Before that?" She considered a moment. "There was the altar to Gyrona below that barn north of town. . . You did take something from atop that thing, did you not?"

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Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:59 pm

Her curious glance at him kept the uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling clawing at his insides. Perhaps it was best to continue the investigation. It was quite possible that the way he was reacting was related to his malady. He took one look at the radishes and thought that he could just heat them up later, that she could rule out a physical problem was helpful. Hopefully it would not be long until they could reach a diagnosis.

"My magic is not dependent on memory, it acts as I command. My growth in it hasn't been one of understanding, but rather one of exploration of what capabilities I have. I am sure you understand, as an oracle, your powers function in a similar fashion, do they not?" Without waiting for an answer, he continued, "so I doubt that it was the Hound. The Lurkers did not use poison on their blades when they attacked Paido, I do not think they would have had poison when they stabbed me either."

"That would leave the other two incidents. I cannot recall anything else off hand. The things I picked up. Neither radiated magic, so I thought little of them. But it is possible they could have been trapped in some magical way, or possibly a curse or a hex of some kind. That would manage it."

He stood up from the chair and went across the room to his drawer to fetch the eye colored gem from one of his drawers and the sphere. He brought them back and displayed them to her. "I've done all the study I can on these items without further research at the library. Do you wish to take a look at them?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:46 pm

"No, no," she raised her hand, tactfully halting him from bringing them any closer. "No, that is quite alright. I would rather not take my chances handling them at the moment, thank you, at least until we are sure they are safe. The mi-go sphere still holds much interest to me, but all in good time, my lord."

Wynnsaren smiled and rested her hands in her lap.

"If I were given to games of chance, I would bet the culprit to be the gem from the altar. . . Followers of evil and anarchic deities like Gyrona would be very familiar with curses.

"There is one practical way to narrow down some of the hypotheses, I think." Wynn patted the seat next to her, requesting him to sit once more. "Would you permit me one last test, Zasitrun?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:51 pm

The sorcerer dropped the items he was carrying and they floated back to the drawers that he pulled them from. He took the few steps back to the chair and sat. He leveled his azure eyes at the oracle next to him with a look of slight consternation. "I have already placed my trust in you, my friend. Do what you must. What is it that you require from me?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:00 pm

"By the stars, Zaistrun!" Wynn chuckled. "Truly, I do not bite! I wish only to see your predicament quickly resolved."

She waited for him to sit before continuing. "I will cast a simple spell on you that may help restore your previous state," she explained to help reassure him. "If it works, than you were affected by some sort of disease or poison. If it does not work, than you must have fallen victim to a curse and that will require different magic to remove."

Whispering the divine words of the spell beneath her breath, the aasimar leaned in and pressed her palm gently against the magister's chest, uttering a final syllable that would release the magic.

"There. . . Did you feel anything?" Wynnsaren asked curiously as she looked up at him.

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Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:14 pm

As the oracle chided him for his drama, his eyes smiled while the rest of him stayed stoic. Wynn was good company, and he was glad she came even if they did not discover what was wrong. He simply felt better having her around. The whole kingdom seemed so as well, as she brought a lot of joy to the people there.

The sorcerer attuned his eyes to her hands and her lips. Before she was done with her incantation, he knew exactly what she was casting. It was a restoration spell of the lesser variety, second circle. It was generally only available to divine casters. The gods wanted healing to remain something that they alone were good at and restricted arcanists when it came to spells like this. If he had been particularly damaged in his spirit, the spell could overcome it. It wasn't as if he did not trust her, but it was good practice. He figured he had a better than even chance of stopping it outright if he wanted to do so.

After he received his magical treatment, he closed his smiling eyes and meditated on himself. Not knowing whether or not anything had changed, he attempted a spell on himself to test its strength. Judging that it still seemed weaker than it should, he opened his eyes and said to her, "No, nothing has changed. It was a good first step. The other spell remedies are more expensive if I am not mistaken."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:55 pm

Wynn nodded at the result of her test, but did not seem overly disappointed. The mystery was all but solved, and soon the magister would be wholly back to his calm, cool and collected self, though in truth she enjoyed these little glimpses into his inner person!

"There is no material component associated with the spell you require, but I suppose some priests would charge you for their services, yes," she responded reluctantly in the affirmative.

The oracle reached to the other side of the small table to retrieve her goblet before sinking back into the divan beside him.

"You'll need to speak with Tracea." She took a swallow of her water before continuing. "I wish that I could aid you further, but I've not been granted the ability to Remove curses, and it is that which you need. Hmmm. . . That gem of Gyrona there too I should think," Wynn smiled and motioned to the drawers that the items floated back into.

"The priestess of Sarenrae does have access to the spell as we learned during the Lurker fiasco in the city. It didn't work in aiding the afflicted in that case, but it will work to aid you, my friend.

"I am sorry that I personally cannot do more to help."

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:02 pm

"The ability to remove curses is something I myself could do, although it is slightly harder for arcanists than it is for purveyors of divine wisdom." He glanced outside at the darkening sky. "I'll speak with Tracea tomorrow. I am sure she can fill in where we lack. I have been meaning to speak with her concerning a guest lecture for my students in any case, so the trip will be convenient for both of us."

He waited a few seconds until it seemed like she was going to leave when he spoke up. "There is one thing else with which you might be able to assist me." He paused, trying to make the best introduction into the subject matter. "About six weeks ago, Sarala and I had an intense discussion. I attempted some poetic imagery, but it seemed to fall flat. Should I attempt verse or perhaps a song?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:11 pm

Relaxing back into the divan, Wynnsaren's eyes rested upon the sorcerer in a long, unwavering gaze.

"It did not fall flat," she stated simply.

Sarala had told her much about that brief encounter. . .at least what she could remember, and Wynn had seen something of a change in the girl, in spite of the bickering between the two.

"There is a time for verse and song, but there must be time for truth, my friend.  You have not told her how you feel about her.  That much is plain."

She took another sip from her goblet and set it on the table.  "Where my earlier words have failed, perhaps demonstration would be more effective."  Wynn turned in her seat to face Zaistrun directly.  "Just be plain with her, my lord.  Be honest and tell her what you need her to know!  

"How about this. . .   Let us pretend that you are Sarala and I am you."  The aasimar adjusted herself in her seat and looked full into his eyes as she spoke.

"My lady, thank you for accepting my invitation.  I fear I have needed to speak with you regarding a matter of importance for some time, but I have struggled with the words and actions to express what needs to be expressed.

"I care for you Sarala," she said after a meaningful pause, and Wynn took Zaistrun's hands in hers.  "Deeply.  There has never been another who has taken hold of my heart the way you have, and for so long I have sat idly by. . .hoping.  I can sit idly no longer.  I feel too much for you!  I want to be the one you confide in when you are afraid or hurt.  I want to be the one you celebrate with when you are excited and joyous.  

"I want to be that immovable mountain that will be strong and protect you through every trial. . .shelter you from every storm.  All I ask the chance to be that for you, Sarala.  Give me the chance to be the man you deserve."

Wynnsaren smiled and patted his hands before returning her own to her lap.  

"Does that make sense?  You will need to use your own words of course, but you must be forthright with her.  You will be vulnerable, but she is worth the risk."

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Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:35 pm

His hackles rose as she began her monologue. Role-playing, was she serious? How could this possibly win anyone? But she wasn't trying to demean him, she was his friend. Perhaps she was making light of the situation to emphasize her point. After all, her mock declaration of love was rather a silly thing to behold. Maybe he could do something similar.

Zaistrun stared back at the oracle incredulously. "As a friend, I feel I must tell you. That did not sound anything like me. Of course you are allowed to share your impression of me to others, but I thought I would spare you the indignity." He said this quietly as if it were a secret between them, and put on what he believed was a comforting face, but it ended up looking like he always did.

"Of course I thought about doing it your way, but when the opportunity was there, she had difficulty standing because of the amount of alcohol she had." He reached over and grabbed Wynn's hands. "'Dearest Sarala, I love you more than my own life. Would you let me have the honor of holding your hair so you do not put your sick in it?'"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:18 pm

"I seek only to give aid when aid is asked of me," Wynnsaren intoned in a low, silken voice. "As a friend. . . " She slid her hands from his and rose with cool grace to reassume her seat upon the divan across from the magister.

"Feel free to continue on your own course. There will be other opportunities for you to find your words, but when you do, do not think that the truth is my way. The truth is the way. All else is folly and hollow speech.

"But your affectation makes me curious. . ." Wynnsaren leaned back and crossed her legs to a more comfortable position. "Do you, Zaistrun? Do you love her more than your own life?"

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Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:10 pm

"That's actually much better of an impression." He gave her a soft clap while his face remained impermeable.

After he was done clapping he put his hands on the armrests of his chair. "Seriously, you are exactly right in saying that should tell her the truth. I agree with you. Although, I have been very cautious about the amount of truth that I have divulged. Every time I reveal something to her, she runs, except this last time. She let me take her home. I believe that it is about time to give her some more of how I feel."

His gaze wandered as he thought of the object of his desire. "I.." He began, but faltered. "When I was a child, everyone loved me from the start. I was the golden child, the miracle boy. She was the first person to completely reject me. It woke me up, it made me stronger, it made me want to be better. I had never the drive to accomplish anything until that moment made my ambition alive. That one cruel instance of honesty changed me for the better, and because of it I am a great man. Through it I was able to weather the storm..."

And then he received his second epiphany within the past five minutes. He turned and put his hands on Wynn's armrest. "Thank you. I don't know how you did it, but you drew it out of me. I have been a fool. Here I have been exulting in her brutal honesty but withholding it from her. I have an apology to compose."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:29 am

A grin slowly spread across her face as she watched the wheels turning in Zaistrun's mind. He was not the easiest man to communicate with and even more difficult to understand at times, but Wynn knew that his intentions were just and good. When hearing him from that perspective, she found that he was not at all as challenging to get along with as it might seem on the surface.

"It would be an apology best conceived once you get that Curse dealt with upon the morrow," the aasimar reminded him, as she squeezed his hand in encouragement. "But I should leave you to your thoughts, my good magister.

"There is a barn raising celebration at the Hendrych farm that I have been graciously invited to, and I intend to spend a good many hours dancing yet this evening!"

Wynnsaren missed those earliest days in Akiros when the people would gather to hold a weekly soiree in the center of town where there would be music and dancing and stories told. The oracle had been a permanent fixture at such functions, and grew to know many of the founding families. Now, though the city seemed to have outgrown the quaint practice, those contacts she'd made then still afforded her invitations to many social events which she tried to attend at every possible opportunity. There hadn't been many of those as of late.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Lord Garess," she rose from the divan and curtsied to the young noble. "I am glad that we were able to determine the source of your trouble. If you have further need of me tonight, you will know where to find me, but if you come," Wynn smiled brightly as her celestial heritage revealed itself, "I must warn you that I will require you to stay for a dance!

"Good night, my friend," she added before sweeping from the room and closing the door gently behind her.

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