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And the Band Played On

 
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Ruubee
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:06 pm    Post subject: And the Band Played On Reply with quote

Leather gloved fingers clutched and crushed the velvety ash gray travel cloak against the bite of the mid winters wind; tugged a fur lined hood down closer around cold cheeks. The young woman that braced against the cold of Rhy'Din's winter didn't look more than twenty by a year though her sapphire blue eyes stared long and hard at a warm, busy complex before her. Sleepy sunlight caught and fired the glints of gold impurity in those sapphires before wrapping itself back up in the wispy cloud banks for a noon time nap. What the woman saw was a legacy crafted and created by a woman she respected, enjoyed, honored and above all else called mother.

Yet, the fanciful glass and brick facade of the building did little to warm her at that moment. A slight adjustment of her cloak as another gust kicked up, the woman took to the simple, wide four step patio and hastened for the glass doors. She was cold and dreading what she may find within the building. Stray memories touched her mind, muslin wrapped by years of youth as fingers closed around the brass door pull.

Kind golden eyes, tired beyond belief, always watching, bright in her direction. A lullaby and the smell of reagents and the ozone of magical aether. Tea times and finger talks. Love. Anger. Fear. Solidness. Kindness. Temper. Loyalty. Trust.

Her mind clicked back to the present, the face of her mother faded to be replaced by a grey furred, winged Airii staring at her from the other side of the glass door in surprise. The Airii pushed the door open hastily for her, nearly tripping over their paws to give her entry. She didn't balk or refuse the offer of quick entry, soon standing in the main forum of the Alchemist's Fire's Complex. The woman took a moment to let the chill slough off of her as she gazed at the various businesses within. The winged Airii had vanished, quick and agile things she knew, most likely off to tell whatever supervisor was on duty that an unusual visitor had arrived.

A smile touched her face as she remembered the Moon Wake General Store of her father, now doing well and modernized and humming with customers and a variety of staff. The Anniston Garden Distillery shop seemed to be still chugging along, leaving her to wander about her two siblings a bit. Between the two was the darkened door of an office she remembered briefly that mother rarely took her into. The paint and lettering on the glass still vibrant under the dust feebly trying to cover a balanced scale before a sword, the proverbial Sword of Damocles. She never knew what that door was about really. One day, maybe, she'll ask someone.

Before her eyes even looked upward to the second floor, her booted feet were already stepping across the jade marbled tiles to the double wide, polished red wood stair case. As she mounted the steps her eyes fell on the runner carpet tacked upon it. Hadn't it once been scarlet and gold trimmed? Now a utilitarian charcoal gray with white diamond stippling. Ah, well time had moved on a bit since she was last here as a child though not as long as it may seem in the universe. Life was odd like that.

Her childhood spirit ended the happy machination of her feet upon the second floor before a second set of glass doors. Unlike the busy, lively businesses bellow, the second floor was dim, near dark, lifeless with not a soul in behind the glass doors. A myriad of dark shapes could be seen within, possible display cases, book shelves, furniture and more. The woman took a moment to take in the store as a whole. It felt like the second floor was brooding in severe fashion that only a toddler could pull off after someone ripped the head off of their favorite doll.

A thin grin pulled her lips tight to show healthy white teeth and she began to laugh softly, the sound small and choked on that melancholic floor. She viewed the lettering on the door.

The Alchemist's Fire, Alchemy, Magic, Spells, Master Alchemist: Ammy Spiritor.

It was only natural the store held a wild and chaotic life, just like the one who had breathed life into it. Now that person had passed the torch on to a new dawn in the hopes that something better may arise. The woman took a deep breath and settled her nerves. Her mother left large shoes to fill, and she had doubts she was going to be able to match her. She'd studied hard, went to classes, did everything she could, and came out on top for someone ham stringed in the mystical and arcane worlds. Yet it fell upon her to see what would come out this store passing on to her. She let out her breath and spoke a few words to set her courage fast.

"I am Ruby Spiritor. I kick the teeth in of academia and can outsmart most. Time to meet your new master, Alchemist's Fire."

Her hand grasped the silver door pull and gave a tug. The door made a crystalline rattle but did not budge. Ruby's eyes went wide.

"MOM! You said nothing about needing a key!" She gave the glass door a pitiful thump with her gloved hand as she thought of what to do next.

Something soft landed behind her with a thump, a flap of wings and the tinkling rust of ice crystals.
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Ruubee
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ruby turned from those glass doors and her sapphire eyes shrunk to hard slits.

"What are you doing here? Snooping for mother?" Arms crossed tight across her chest.

The ire of her attention slowly stood from the crouch of the landing that the winged Airii had made. A flap and flutter of metallic black feathers crinkled in the air as they folded behind the fully drawn, diminutive four foot height of purple fur, short cut crimson hair and eyes that could make an ice age glacier freeze. The posture and lines of the Airii said female as they walked right up to Ruby, a coat of scale mail made from near transparent ice clicking in the wake of the predators walk, not a drip of water from them. Tri-tipped ears, plumed with black feathering kept on a swivel always alert. A smile pulled the canine muzzle up and a bit tight as they spoke.

"Well, if you are going to accuse the family black sheep of prying into your business, you may want to go back home to mother and read more books." A flash of sharp canine teeth in the gloom of the second floor showed a bestial grin.

Ruby gave a delicate snort and a roll of her eyes. "I know you Myrlene. Big sis never goes snooping around unless mother is telling her to. Mom thinks I can't handle the challenge I was given, does she?" She bit her lower lip to hide the quiver of fury.

Myrlene opened her muzzle and let out a peeling bark of laughter. "You think mom sent me here? You're precious, little sister. I have a lot of personal investments in Rhy'Din that don't revolve around our sun butt of a mother. I came to the AF Complex when I heard from one of my little birds that my little sister had showed up at the front door, looking cold and lost. But do go on thinking I'm some knight in shining armor. I'm getting a little kick from the ego boost." She smirked.

"Well you're still rude as ever. I came to see what mother left to me. Didn't realize she was going to saddle me with a gloomy shop for several years to make something of myself. I just wanted time out of the house and some space from all the fuzziness and craze going on. Didn't realize she was going to make me sweat for the privilege." Ruby said.

Myrlene stepped past Ruby and ran hands over the wording on the glass doors of the Alchemist's Fire. The Airii seemed lost in thought.

Ruby turned and stared back at the darkened store that was locked. "Did it always look this brooding? Hard to believe anyone would come here as a client."

Myrlene pulled her hand from the door, lowered her head a bit, then turned to face Ruby. A tiny hint of a smile was all that remained on her muzzle.

"No, Ruby. This store was never brooding. It was never dark and chilling to any that came to it. It hummed, thrummed and was alive. The store is simply in grieving, pining for the master it had." Myrlene said. She gave Ruby a long, hard stare.

Ruby flinched and stepped back, not an easy feat that she found many short of stature could pull off when she topped six feet. She felt suddenly small, weighed and measured under the crystal blue eyes of big sister. She licked her lips and spoke.

"Well the Alchemist's Fire has a new Master. Me. I just don't seem to recall mother mentioning a key, or much of anything else beyond permission to leave the realm for a while." Ruby fought hard to keep the stammer from her voice.

The ice blue eyes of scrutiny melted their stare from Ruby and Myrlene gave a small, resigned sigh. She seemed to rub the bridge of her muzzle and her eyes.

"Right. You're new to this so I'll be nice. Just this once. Mom is testing you. Right now, by my guess, you're failing. You ran right back to Rhy'Din thinking you had an easy excuse to spend some time out from the family and be a big girl. An easy task. Run a store, play at alchemy, have fun. This isn't a normal store, Ruby. You're not back in Lupinoss. You're not surrounded by family constantly now. You've stepped into dangerous waters without putting a lot of thought into things yet." Myrlene said, hand on a hip as if gently rebuking one of her own small children.

Ruby's eyes tightened and her mouth drew in for a scowl to start an argument. Myrlene held up her hand in a classic and old pose of 'Talk to the Paw' she once enjoyed as a teen long gone.

"Child. Follow me, walk with me, take the tour, and if you still think you can handle this test, I wont bug you unless you ask me to help. If you can't hack it, I wont think little of you and will easily escort you back to Lupinoss until you feel ready to try again. Your call." Myrlene said.

Ruby blew out a small breath, the fight slightly knocked out of her by the bearing and demeanor Myrlene threw at her. It was an unfair advantage to go up against mothers. They handled the true powers of the universe; children and all the wilds that come with them. Ruby flipped down the hood on her cloak, letting her straight, red hair breathe and looked right into Myrlene's eyes.

"If you think I'm backing out of this, go fly into a ceiling fan." Ruby quipped.

Laughter nearly doubled Myrlene and her paws gave a few stamps on the grey runner of the floor. She straightened as the fit eased and gave Ruby a sock to the shoulder in a warrior's greeting.

"Now there is some fine Spiritor stubbornness. Let's see if I can scare it out of you." Myrlene turned and faced the door. "First pointer, child. Mom trusted no mundane security. Key? No key physically exists. The store recognizes family and kin, but will only open when spoken to by us with the following words. Place your hand with mind and repeat." Myrlene instructed.

Ruby winced but didn't say 'ow' knowing that'd gain a matching sock to her other shoulder for showing weakness in front of her elder sister. She frowned hearing that a regular lock wasn't used though relaxed a smidgen when told the store would recognize her. She took off her leather gloves, stuffed them into the pockets of her travel cloak and placed her human hand upon the darkened glass next the purple furred hand of Myrlene's. Myrlene nodded and spoke two words. Ruby's brows beetled a little not knowing what they meant but repeated them.

"Equivalent Commutationem" Ruby spoke.

The glass doors felt warm to the touch as the words were given life. The store seemed to take a deep, shuddering breath, and warm, yellowish light flickered on from lights within. A small snick was heard and the doors pushed from their hands allowing entry.

Ruby looked down at her hand, then to the open doors, then to Myrlene. "Questions."

Myrlene smirked and walked into the store. "Answers?"

Ruby followed her sister into the store and felt like millions of little tingles of energy nibbled over her skin. She gave a shiver and looked around.

"What did those words mean, and that couldn't have been magic that opened them? You know me. And how do you know so much about mothers store?" Ruby asked, not venturing further into the store as the energy continued to nibble on her skin like little fish in a lake.

Myrlene had disappeared among the vast seas of display cases and bookshelves. Her voice floated from a section of the store in the center where a counter and cash register was set up. A drawer was heard opening and being shut closed soon after.

"Many questions this padawan has, yes. Mhm. Many. The words equivalent commutationem are Latin, Ruby. A language you would not be familiar with, but one mom enjoyed as part of her alchemy studies. It means Equivalent Exchange. Something you should know. No, you didn't use magic, so don't get your hopes up." She suddenly appeared from around a display case of magic scrolls to Ruby's right and held out a ledger book bound in black. "I know a lot about this store as I helped mom start it, stock it, run it, and manage it. I am, was, still the partner in this store. Your ledger, Ruby Spiritor, to keep, use, look over and maintain. I'm often busy these days with my kingdom of Winterpaws up in the mountains, but I do like to keep tabs on my personal investments. Now, let's show you around and don't worry about the nibbling energy. The store is figuring out your, ah, peculiarities. It wont harm you." She began her walk into the store again and paused to look back at Ruby.

Ruby stood there like a deer caught in the trance of oncoming head lights. Myrlene started to laugh again. "Oh, Rhy'Din is going to eat you up girl." She took her little sisters hand and pulled her into the rabbit hole that was the Alchemist's Fire.
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Ruubee
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was just too much information happening at once for her. Ruby felt like she had been dropped into a speeder lane while saddled with a pilmoo. The ledger's weight in her hands and the tugging guide from Myrlene upon her wrist coaxed her out of that high speed jumble. She was finally aware of moving past glass cases waist high to her, about head high to Myrlene. There were words being spoken by her elder sister but the slid past her human ears with a small echo in their steps by what caught her eyes.

Were those real magic scrolls? Summon candles for demons? Holy dust on a dew fairy, rings of power? A crown of high magic? No, that can't be real. Mom can't have a real Necronomicon, it has to be -

"Oh that book isn't fake. Nothing in this store is fake. You stand amidst a collection of new, old, ancient and mystical powers." Myrlene's face eclipsed the view of the ghastly, skin clad necromancy book. "Hi. Rhy'Din to Ruby. You have't heard a word I've said have you, child?" A flash of predatory grin.

Ruby's cheeks colored with a healthy flush and she drew back. "I can't help it. Half this stuff I only read of in my text books, the other half Wuufahn and Bahcheh would blister my butt if I ever touched in the archives of the academy. They told me some magic shouldn't be played with."

Myrlene leaned against the display case and a wrinkle of a smirk showed on her muzzle. "And did you listen to them, child? Did you avoid the magic that was oh so forbidden? Stay with your textbooks? Not once try to do something naughty?"

Ruby diverted her gazed from Myrlene and found the details of some very basic focus wands appealing. The Airii just laughed in a short bark gave her little sister a poke in the ribs. Ruby slapped at the annoying hand that continued to poke her until she'd finally yield what her elder sister wanted to know.

"Quit it!" Ruby flailed a hand for a moment. "Yes! I snubbed their warnings.
I was severely disappointed. Nothing felt tingly. Now cold power. No feeling of taking over the world or controlling people. Not even a nibble or spark of magic in it all, like most of this stuff that I try to understand. Add injury to insult I was caught, chewed out, expelled for a year and the look."

Myrlene's ears perked a bit at Ruby's words. "Oh, so you know what the look of complete, utter disappointment is from mother? Tell me, how long did it last? A day? You were her favorite."

Ruby nestled the ledger in the crook of one arm and ran fingers through her red hair. "Two years, three days, and five hours. I was still getting it when I left for Rhy'din. I'm well aware of the dangers of various magic, the slippery roads, I've read all the horror stories in both the arcane and mundane chronicles. Why should I get scorched by mom? Not like I can do the horrors described or offered."

"That is your second mistake so far child." Myrlene said. "In Lupinoss it took years to figure you out and that was with the aid of the Academy. You are not completely safe from magic, Ruby, or using it. You are just unique and Rhy'Din has a very annoying way of making things happen when plans are laid." Myrlene moved from her lean on the display case. "Our mother always has high hopes for us. Our family is not normal, and you are the last of a powerful legacy, and blessed to have missed most of the family curse. In time, the feel of that look will fade, you'll get over it, mom will forgive you. It just rattles her that her children never fail to be drawn to the chaos and darkness in the arcane and rarely stay to the lighter side of things."

Ruby lost some of the flustered, beset gloom that had settled on her face as she listened to Myrlene. She gave a few quiet nods to herself, consoling and soothing her worries. She wouldn't really do anything dark or evil. The arcane and mystical was something she just loved to learn and understand. She saw Myrlene move away from the display case to start the tour over.

"Let's get you up to speed on your newly acquired business. The Alchemist's Fire is here on the second floor of the Alchemist's Fire Complex. It has the whole second floor, uncontested for shop space.You also have the third floor which is half storage rooms and mom's old office and sleeping room for when certain customer orders needed round the clock tending to make. There is a roof top level with a full sized green house and two alchemy towers. Stay out of Tower 2. Not my rules, but moms. No one is allowed in Tower 2 but her. Period. The first floor of the complex is dads general store and your step dad's distillery gift shop as well as mom's office for helping people in need. There are two basement floors, nothing you really need to worry about, mostly storage for the lower stores and a parking garage. With me so far on the complex layout?" Myrlene asked.

Ruby nodded. "Yeah, sounds about the same since I was a kid. Two questions though. How long has it been since mom brought us home to Lupinoss and why -"

Myrlene waved a finger. "Ah! No means no on Tower 2 and I am not telling you what's in it. You'll never believe me anyways. As to how long things have been running since most of the family went to Lupinoss, about a year and one month to be precise. Dad did tell you time flows slow in Rhy'Din, right? Isn't it fun spending eighteen or so years in another land to come back and find not much has changed when you left. Makes recording and catching up on shows a breeze. Now, here in the store you have the display area near the door, taking front center stage. Over here, come on, I'm short, you should be able to keep up leggy, is enchanted clothing and apparel to the right of the displays, easy to catch the eye that way. Over there on the left are the weapons racks. They aren't kept full much since mom flip flops on her stance about providing people weapons. Enjoy that choice now."

Ruby did her best to not over take Myrlene as they walked. Only a year they'd been gone, and yet the store seemed to feel like was neglected for several years. The amount of diverse arcane items her mother had collected was making her head swim, though she wrinkled her nose up at the clothing section. "Those are absolutely ghastly in fashion. So out of style compared to Nakimera's collection in Solnase. Well that's one definite area to improve. As to weapons, honestly sister, this whole shop is a weapon store. While magic is a tool to anyone, tools can be turned to weapons, so trying to demarcate what is and isn't a weapon solely on the precepts of physically made objects forged for war versus arcane energy touted to be espoused for good is egotistical rubbish. My decisions will be easier. What is the bottom line and are they selling or not? What happens with them once they leave the premise is beyond my control. Customers do as they wish with what they buy as long as they pay for it. Otherwise I'll have to rough them up for stealing."

Myrlene gave a small giggle. "You are so charming and cute when you get passionate about what you truly understand. Shame we're related. I'd steal you. Moving on! Cash register and check out is rough centered so you can keep an eye on the goods. The large, dark grey glass section is the actual laboratory which we'll see in a moment, the rest of the store is a combination of sitting and reading nooks for the library of books mom has here for loan or sale. She used to offer food and drinks in the store, but when things got mothballed for the year, we moved it all back into the general store and gift shop. You're choice if you want it back. The snacks and drinks were snugged up by the check out counter and the romance novel section."

Ruby blinked. "Why the hell would there be a romance novel section in an alchemy store?"

Myrlene glanced at Ruby for a moment. "You're young and haven't gotten your feet wet. Those in the mythical and arcane world, especially alchemy, aren't always charming, lucky or have the greatest smells clinging to them after a days work in the laboratory. You'd be surprised by how many single people we get that just want a fantasy escape from loneliness their profession can slip into. Can always replace it with comics, manga, technical manuals, whatever. Just don't get rid of the 1001 Klingon Love Poems. It's a best seller."

"Klingon's exist here?" Ruby asked stunned.

Myrlene tugged on her sisters wrist one more and headed right for the dark grey glass. "Klingons and more. You name it, it's hear." She then pulled and then pushed Ruby towards the solid wall of glass.


Ruby didn't have a moment to think or remark on a realm holding all possibilities to it. She was more concerned with the alarmingly looming reflection of herself in the dark grey glass drew her arms up in panic. "AH!"

Ruby slipped right through the glass like it was thick air, stumbled and caught her balance on a high wood stool next to a solid slab of copper used for a work bench. The heavy, exotic richness of reagents stole into her nostrils, mixing the earthiness of Loma Roots, Topa Shrooms, heady spice of Fire Sand and Ginger Grass, along with tingles of ozone from Lightning Dross and she thought she heard a giggle or two from a empty glass jar. She looked about at the alchemy laboratory, the inner sanctum of her mother, a place where there was always order and peace. She felt small and humbled by how everything looked worn, used, lived in and lovingly worked with.

Myrlene stepped through the glass behind her and took in a deep breath. "Hello mom." she said in a whisper of respect. "Welcome to the laboratory. Things may need updating, and a lot of the reagents expired and were removed. You'll have to gather new ones, but that's fine. Alchemy is deadly with stale and expired reagents. It'll give you a chance to explore Rhy'Din and get to meet people. So." She went up and put a comforting, sisterly arm around Ruby's thighs. "How does it feel to be in the center of mom's heart?"

Ruby continued to stare at the whole laboratory like a wind up toy with a moving head. So much joy and nervousness filled her. "I'm, terrified but happy?"

Myrlene grinned. "Perfect. Come on, let me show you the third floor. How are you for funds and lodging?"
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ruby was not too sure about that smile from Myrlene and the way the Airii was happy her little sister was terrified to be in her mom's laboratory. She'd follow her big sister out of the laboratory, the thick air of the glass making her shudder with the lack of crashing into something solid no longer a distraction.

"What is that glass, Myrlene?" Ruby asked.

Myrlene happily lead Ruby for the glass front doors, the store dimming the lights on it own in anticipated anxiety and longing. A glance over one wing clad shoulder at her.

"You've never read or dealt with Mage Glass before? It was a favorite construct mom loved making for any of her laboratories. A hybrid of alchemy and arcana making a solid object penetrable and passable by the person or persons keyed into the spell at creation. It's great for keeping nosy people out of your top secret spaces and it's nearly impossible to shatter unless you did something close to a nuclear blast of a failed potion or spell. Like the front door and store, it's keyed to our family. No words, no hand waves, gestures or energy investment on your part. Your DNA is the key as well as your unique Soul Crystal that always has a piece of your parents in it to start it. Neat huh?" Myrlene said.

Ruby's brow scrunched and stared at Myrlene as they left the store, their steps taking them to the right of the store and to a smaller staircase. A chain ran across it that said, 'Private Use - Do not Cross -'. Myrlene moved the chain aside and motioned for Ruby to head up the steps. Here the runner was still the crimson trimmed in gold she remembered playing upon so much.

"Mage Glass, so it's not something standard then in the books or classes?" Ruby said.

Myrlene gave a shrug that rustled feathers behind Ruby. "Maybe. Maybe not. I've only ran into it around mom's stores. Someone else out there may be doing something similar or the same. Magic is like that. Not much is new, just borrowed, stretched, respun and updated with new tricks to make it more versatile."

The single flight of stairs ended in the open office with three doors to right, across from an ample living space. It made a nice, comfy, almost rural office feel though what caught Ruby's eyes the most were the drawings still tacked up all over the wall. Her drawings as a two year old. She though mom would've tossed them. She didn't. There was the bin of toys too by mom's heavy mahogany desk, once festooned with reports, papers graded for her lectures at Bristle Crios Academy, and the campaign she'd once ran for. Ruby walked over to the desk, dusty, but clean of any papers, knelt and picked up an old shoe box that rattled. The noise took her be surprise and she rattled it again. Removing the lid, a smile touched her eyes, the LEGO sets mom got her when she grew bored with Tinker Toys.

Myrlene looked over from the large couch their mother had often dozed and crashed on during late nights, the crinkle of plastic being folded as she removed the dust cover. "Mom never tired of watching you play with those. Even with frequent rebound headaches from botched spells, to her, that sound was heaven. It meant you were inquisitive, curious, you would grow to be something great instead of something she may have feared."

Ruby looked from the shoe box of LEGOs to Myrlene. "Something feared? What had she to fear from me? I was a child."

Myrlene moved to the desk and laid the folded plastic cover upon it. "You were very special to us Ruby. Still are special to us, to me even. Gods, even now, as an elder sister I want to keep you safe. When you were born, the whole family was scared. You were the first human child born to mom and you were born deaf. It was like fate took and slapped mother across the cheeks twice, hard. She never hated you for being different or handicapped. She just felt heart broken that more could be wrong with you that we couldn't know."

Ruby held up her hand a moment. "Wait a moment. I get the whole part of me being born human with recessive Lupinossai genetics, but what's with the part about me being deaf? I could always hear since -"

"Since Lupinoss? You didn't begin to hear until the age of six, when mom and dad finally got a hold of Foxingale, Wuufahn and Tammy to figure out a way to mend your birth defect without a lot of intrusion. You ever wonder why you grew up with a set of crystal rings in your ear lobes?" Myrlene said, hip propped against the desk.

Ruby's hands wandered to her ears. The faint sea foam green crystal ear rings she'd had since a child that glittered when she spoke or spoken too had never crossed her mind. She remembered vaguely her mother taking her to a place to get her ears pierced and since then, hearing and wondering why mom wanted her to keep studying sign language. "Well that explains a little why I get an echo sometimes when people talk to me. Thought maybe I was just daydreaming."

Myrlene would nod. "Could be interference with the Moresh crystal and your brain. If it gets worse, I'll give you the card to your mom's business partner, Amar Su. She's a bit batty for a border collie, but the foremost expert on Moresh crystal and can get you checked out and tweaked. Now, how are you set up for things?"

Ruby sat the LEGOs aside and stood. "I'm not really set up for anything. I came through the portal at the house in Den City and snuck out before Grandpa and Grandma knew someone was in the house. I wanted to get a feel of what I was going to be dealing with, then go back and get my stuff and see what I have left from my university funding. Honestly don't know if any of mom's old clients are still around to get income into this store right away."

Myrlene gave a small sigh of relief. "Okay, at least you have a decent explanation for being here in Rhy'Din, willingly, without anything but the clothes on your back. Smart move to scout then bring in your gear. So let's cover three biggies first for you. Where are you staying or planning to stay? Your start up funds. And, your clients."

Ruby sighed. "Do we have to do that now? I'm getting hungry and this dust is making me thirsty."

Myrlene grinned. "Well that is a problem since you came here with nothing, right? Work with me and I'll treat us out tonight. So, come on, talk to me or I take you down and make you kiss the carpet till I get answers."

"Hey, enough with the intimidating you overbearing winged chihuahua. Give me a moment or two to think. Sheesh. For lodging, I don't want to live with Grandpa and Grandma, they are worse prudes than our parents and I'll never be allowed to do anything. I'd rather not stay with any family. Was thinking of staying up here and turning mom's stay over room there into my bedroom. Startup funds, I have none. Clients I am not sure. There, happy? Can we go eat and drink now?" Ruby huffed.

"Easy tiger. Same team for now. You're plan for lodging is doable. Mom's room is a bit small for constant living in, but you can turn this space out here into a living room and office. I'd suggest some mage glass at the foot of the stairs or you may get staff or clients walking up and seeing you in your underwear by mistake." Myrlene laughed. "And we can get that spell for the mage glass easy from moms tomes. They are inside the desk drawers here and yes," she pulled a key from the cold depths of her ice chain mail. "the desk uses mundane locks. Start up funds, I am going to make you a deal, with you being the new owner of the store, I know you said Master, but until you prove it to the store itself, your just an owner, let me be your business partner. I'll front your 30,000 silver to get things in order and running. Just pay me back a little at a time from profits when you get to that point. No interest. As to mom's prior clients, I wouldn't hang your hopes heavy on them. They aren't bad people, many are great, but you aren't mom. Many have come to expect a certain high level of skill and magic from her. You'll have the skill in no time." Myrlene left the doubt in Ruby's magic if ever, silent and unsaid.

"So I need to see what clients may still want to deal with a novice alchemist that isn't offering anything extra yet, and start collecting new clients? Well that could be doable. You're offer as business partner is very generous, but, if you helped mom with this store, stock it, run it and all that jazz, why the hell aren't you doing alchemy and running it?" Ruby asked.

Myrlene started to fidget with the plastic cover on the desk top. "Yeah. Mom tried to teach me often about alchemy. I could never focus long enough to learn it well, and when you do her kind of alchemy, a lot of things influence what you make, and well, I didn't get my title of black sheep and the evil one in the family lightly. I exude disruptive from time to time even on my best days. That spells disaster for potions and spell crafting. Taints it all. So instead, I helped with the more mundane things and the book keeping. Kept mom in the black for years and profitable." She grinned.

"Now follow me, padawan and we'll take a trip further into the Market Place District. There's this awesome Ramen House a Hunter Friend of mind introduced me too long ago. You'll love the food and the drinks. Speaking of friends, and hunters and Rhy'Din in general, did mom ever have the talk with you?" Myrlene asked as she lead Ruby back down both flights of stairs and for the main doors of the complex.

Ruby's cheeks flushed. "That's a bit of a personal question. Of course she did. Protection, use my head, not my heart, and don't trust a man or woman in tight pants and to not go out during my one month."

Myrlene paused at the main doors, purple furred hand on the brass door pull. "Okay, mom made a small mistake. Easy considering she's used to Lupe children. You got most of it right from her. One large error in it all. You, Ruby are 97% human."

Ruby drew up to Myrlene and stood with an impatient and hungry bounce to her stance. "So?"

"So glad I found you first in this realm girl. Hoo boy. Humans have their gift from nature monthly, unlike Lupinossai for a solid month and that's it for the year. Okay, we're stopping by a pharmacy first, then getting you food. Hope you enjoy meds daily. You'll need it around this place unless you, ah, like getting super pudgy and want an ever longer look from mom." Myrlene said as she opened the door and led Ruby out.

Ruby just looked up into the clouded, winter noon sky and wondered what else the day was going to throw at her. She needed an audio recorder at this point which reminder her. "Oh, hey, uhm, I broke my last phone."
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The clinks of heavy, well used bone china bowls drifted amid the dense humid fog of scallions, ginger, fish stock, chicken being grilled, and the heady sour note of home brewed soy sauce. Thick ramen noodles coiled in baths of savory broth among pool toys of vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and slices of meat or showed off in a pageantry of oil slicked beige tendrils coiled around ceramic chopsticks. The Ramen House was a welcome ruckus of banter, called out orders, rattling appetites and strong spirits. Ruby was busy trying to master chopsticks and noodles while one of the delicious tendrils slithered into Myrlene's muzzle as the Airii gave pointers on how to hold them right.

"You've never eaten noodles with chopsticks? Mom hasn't once fed you traditional ramen? You're not living girl!" Myrlene gave a bark of glee watching a few noodles flick drops of broth across Ruby's cheeks and chin.

"Forks! Always told to eat noodles with forks and that a lady doesn't slurp her noodles. She never let my use chopsticks much. Was more interested in ensuring I knew how to use proper utensils to eat a meal than trying to mimic her 'sloppy manners she picked up'." Ruby said, wiping her face with a bleached paper napkin and made air quotes with her fingers at the last part. She tried pinching noodles in a semi folded clump and getting a less messy mouth full of savory ramen.

Myrlene seemed to be working the thin rods of ceramic with mechanical ease, slurping noodles into her muzzle like some purple version of a Kung Fu midget from movies Ruby had seen. The Airii took up a small porcelain cup of warmed saki and took a sip, wriggled her muzzle in delight and sat the cup back down.

"Mom, was hardly sloppy in anything she did. She went harder on herself raising you then the rest of us. Feel lucky, Ruby. I'm not holding a grudge, but you ended up getting some decent, focused parenting. It shows. You're not the rough and tumble lot your elder siblings turned out. Granted Merly and Gwyn are doing well enough once the teenage hormones were straightened out. Magical kids are not bone chillingly scary till they hit puberty. Let me warn you now on that Ruby. And if you think a dragon is cute, just remember, they have their own wild issues when they hit maturity and all the phases between. Calcifer is becoming a bit of a stubborn boy when his girlfriend comes around to work on clothes. Dragon kin in love, there's something you have to watch like a hawk as a mom. Boy gets sneakier than a Tasmanian devil with the ability to teleport." She said.

Ruby lifted a brow and gave Myrlene a sidelong glance. She gulped a mouthful of noodles and winced down a sip of Saki. "Why the sudden talk of kids and how they behave? You're practically acting like I'm going to have a kid in a year."

Myrlene just gave Ruby a level look with cold blue eyes. Ruby's cheeks flushed.

"I am not having a kid, Myrlene. I'm not going to have a boyfriend. I'll be too busy minding a store and practicing my alchemy and maybe figuring out a way to sort out magic with no real access to the powers that fuel it." Ruby said with firm conviction in her voice.

The Airii leaned back a little and gave Ruby another leveled gaze, more noodles giving a flickering wave to Ruby as they vanished into the muzzle. "MHM. MHM. MHM. Care to place money on that statement? This is Rhy'Din, little sister. Hormones seem to pollute the city. I wouldn't drink the tap water by the way. Face it, Ruby. You are something fairly attractive around here. Not bomb smashing, movie fake attractive, but attainable. You're tall, red haired, blue eyed, take on a tan, fit shape with curves, smart and educated, own you own damn store now, and hell, you missed being stuck with fur, ears and a tail that make most puke. You're going to run into a point in your life where people will be out for you. Nothing wrong with nabbing a boyfriend, or a girlfriend. The family is open minded to all pairings. You just have to keep in mind, whoever you find or if they find you, you're open game for ribbing and questions by me, and our parents. It's the way it works."

Ruby rubbed her face and looked around the Ramen House convinced everyone was listening to their conversation. She saw more people wolfing down carbohydrates, liquor and discussing their own amusements to even look in their direction. "Could we just drop the whole relationship thing. Bad enough you forced me to talk to that tall, nice man at the pharmacy for my birth control. He looked embarrassed and I just wanted to go hide behind the cards."

"Oh please. He was bored. You aren't the first person to ask him for those meds, wont' be the last. Get over it. You're on you own now. Have to start thinking about doing things on your own like a grown up. I can't be around holding your hand all the time. And you called him tall and nice. Girl, you're already starting." Myrlene was laughing.

A slice of sweet smoked pork drenched in shrimp broth sailed across the red clothed table and landed square on Myrlene's nose. "Shut it!" Ruby fumed.

Myrlene just laughed more and thumped the table with her paw. "You are going to be fun hang out with little sister. Alright, I'll leave your tender notions intact, for now. So, we got a little side tracked during the tour, but the three doors in mom's office. The left door is to her sleeping room. Middle door takes you to the storage room, and the right door is special. It has a built in teleporter within it. There's a dial on the wall and you can adjust it to move to most parts of Rhy'Din, Den City, Winterpaws, Fang Wood and more. You can even go to Logan's Gate, but unless you know a lot about very finicky technology, time jumping stuff and blood magic, stay out of it. It's a pet project of mom's that's still in the works. Though, this has me curious. You asked why I wasn't running the store and it makes sense with me being the closest to mom in power. Now I have to wonder why she asked you to run it and not Gwynevere, or Merly, or even dad?"

Ruby took up a glass of ice water and sipped it slowly to allow herself time to cool off. Most of what Myrlene did was good natured gibing and sisterly rivalry. Some days though, she wanted to just haul off and punch the red out of the Airii's hair. When she felt she could talk civilly without throwing the glass at Myrlene and end up explaining to mother why damages were paid out for a damaged Ramen House, Ruby kept her voice smooth and professional.

"Well, Merly and Gwynevere have your same problem Myrlene. They exude certain influences that would totally wreck the delicate nature of alchemy and spell work. Merly is better with his tight connection to Chaos Energy but it's still too unpredictable for this. Gwynevere would turn anything she tries into a study of harm, death and reanimation of a sorts. Her tight connection with Death Energy is still being understood by her and the Academy. Dad on the other hand wants nothing to do with mom's store. Shi says it was, has been, and always will be her area of expertise, not hir's. The last time dad did alchemy was the resurrection potion for mom back in 2009. Dad was not the same after seeing mom brought back with a shattered soul, being little more than a shell of what she was until she got the pieces back. So, I am it really, and I don't mind. I came out on top in the Academy and would have been a solid valedictorian for graduation had I not received a permanent mark for lack of magical aptitude. I can do all the alchemy work mom did for making potions, elixirs and more. I've even studied enchanting and artifact creation. Not my fault all the musty old Lupe professors disliked my need for an outside power source to activate the spells instead of my own soul using energy around me. So what if I am a dim low watt magic bulb." Ruby turned her head to shadow the sting of the slur she used.

Myrlene leaned over and took one of Ruby's hands into her own. "Our mother, you are not. So don't worry about the crazy, episodic magic that flowed through her. As to being what they call you, Ruby. You are only as restrained and diminutive as you allow yourself to believe. Traditional teachings and methods in Lupinoss categorize harshly. You are a freaking super nova in intelligence compared to what many of them know. Just because you're a high powered flood light trying to be jammed into a house lamp socket doesn't mean your dim or slow or useless. You're just not in the right socket to shine yet. If you know how to get things to activate, run with it! Be brave! This is why you're hear. Do something unusual, special, new or just better."

"You, really believe in my potential to do magic?" Ruby said with fragile hope, her appetite waning as she nudged her half eaten ramen away from her.

Myrlene gave Ruby's hand some pats. "It's Rhy'din, sister. Anything possible can happen here if you just try hard enough. You want to be fancy and try out for some ship out of Star Trek, go for it. Look in the right areas, hell, I'll even introduce you to a real, living and breathing Force Master if you feel a Star Wars kick. Don't let what others judge you by limit what you can do." Myrlene nudged Ruby's bowl of noodles back towards her. "So I'd like to hear any plans you have. I'm sure some are forming that brain of yours."

Ruby looked at her noodles for a moment then slowly coaxed herself to eat again. A few more mouthfuls of ramen and she spoke. "Well, the store can easily run just on straight alchemy concoctions, maybe apothecary medicine since that's all formula controlled and precise, as well as keeping the sale of books and renting of books going. I'm on the fence with what I saw with the magical artifacts, clothing and weaponry. Till I can sort a good way for me to handle magical items, since, as you say, I'm not mom and can't just analyze things by holding stuff, many of those items will pose harm to me and others for a while. I think I'll mothball it all and put it up in storage. Clothing, though, I'm having second thoughts. That could be not so difficult to handle."

Myrlene gave a nod. "See. You are getting some decent ideas in place using what you have at your disposal. Not so daunting now is it? The more I think of it, as I think over the rough trend mom's finances had over the years, the more magical endeavors did take a harder hit in being move able as a source of income. Many like to make their own spells and artifacts. The general alchemical, medicinal, and apothecary applications worked well. And books. People around here will show up if you have things to read that they want that will help. Food and Drink are sometimes a hit. Clothing, eh, that you'll have to feel out. It can go up or down depending on your customer base, location and fashion taste, and believe me, the fashion taste in this city is bi-polar at a minimum."

Ruby smiled with a look that said she was impressed. "You were definitely a business partner to mom if you can easily advise me on the rough outlook of ventures for this store. Though, how did mom handle protecting herself? She never would talk about her days much in Rhy'Din with me as I grew up. Told me I was better off not hearing old war stories from a retired notch ear."

"You mean self defense? That all depended day to day on who was stupid enough to piss off mom and how. Rhy'Din isn't ran or laid out like many of the cities and territories in Lupinoss. There's a somewhat decent attempt at a town guard here called the Watch and they do what they can to keep the place at a daily, leveled kind of chaos. Anything above that, well, toss a rock and you'll hit a ton of white knights or black knights ready to step in for some personal interest, honor, goal, desire or plan to help, rescue, hinder or abscond with. This place will dish as good as you can take and then take you a line or two further, but it's not always the same kind of conflict every day. Mom faced magical attacks, supernatural attacks, technological attacks, mundane attacks and once in a while celestial attacks. Each kind requires a different kind of tool kit of self defense skills. She had those tool kits from her centuries of war training back on Sliinkaa and even in Lupinoss during the wars. Hmm. What can you offer to defend yourself, Ruby?" Myrlene questioned.

Ruby looked up from a long water flow of noodles sliding up into her mouth. She blinked not able to respond yet. A few moments later and a sip of Saki that left less of a wince this time, she pondered. "Mom had me enrolled in Luprikai for hand to hand self defense. I can sort of handle a knife but excelled more in the mace department. If I have time to prepare, I know a dozen utility potions I could craft and brew to give me something to throw. That's about it really."

Myrlene wore a look of surprise on her muzzle. "Maces? You? Never pegged you as a heavy metal girl. Damn, now I'm liking you more and more. Ever want a job in an army, come see me." She laughed. "Maces are good. Won't kill someone without a bit of effort like a blade can do, so you can easily keep injuries down to self-defense class with whoever gets their panties in a bunch for enforcing morals. Keep that Luprikai honed. Eight out of Ten times, you'll be jumped before you have a weapon in your hand. The utility potions, those, make tons and tons of those, stock up on them and always carry some on you. I may be able to get you something with stored spells in it, just in case you run into someone that wants to fling nasty stuff around. Problem is, it'll run out of charges, then you better have a plan or run."

"What about a gun? Mom has used them a lot. Dad never liked them though." Ruby said.

Myrlene frowned a bit. "While I'm an active gun user myself and find them useful, I'd say no. You're not trained. Guns are worse than blades in terms of potential for killing people by mistake. Your hearing, Ruby. Many people can use ear plugs, or over time lose their hearing with the noise produced by guns, you though, the sound goes right to your brain by those earrings. You'd be in pain every time you fired one. I'll get you a better option if you really want range. Cross bow or a dart gun. Cross bow again, may be pushing it, but a dart gun uses compressed air cartridges, so you're not blowing out your figurative eardrums and you can get darts by the bag fulls and dip them in anything you make. Poison, paralysis mixtures, even sleeping droughts if you just want to tag someone and get away safely."

Ruby puckered her lips and sighed with a nod. "Good points. Dart Gun would work the best, so I won't mind one of those and the wand thingy would be a help in a pinch as long as I don't have to power it." She smirked. "Oh, where can I get a new phone? My old one blew up during an experiment."

"Don't worry about a new cell phone. I'll bring one by for you in the morning. It'll be modified by Amar so it'll work with your earrings. Some tech can still cause frequency conflicts with Moresh crystals from what little she's told me. Now then, you spending the night here in Rhy'Din or heading back home?" Myrlene asked.

Ruby gave a nod and smiled a bit nervous. "I'd like to stay tonight in the store and head home in a few days for things. Need to get more than a few hours to feel things out. Could I ask a favor or two?"

Myrlene chuckled. "Let me guess, sleep over and you want to borrow money from your big sister."

Ruby face palmed.

Myrlene laughed. "Done and done. I have stored deposits at the Alchemist Fire. We'll get you a spending allowance in addition the start up I promised. The start up is just for the business and materials. The allowance is for you. Don't spend it all in one place. You know how to cook don't you?"

"I can cook some things. Not a superstar, but I wont starve either." Ruby said.

"Good." Myrlene slid a fortune cookie over to Ruby as the check came and she paid for their meal. They both cracked open their cookies. They both showed each other their fortunes and grinned.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ruby rubbed her back a bit as she sat down the last box taken from Myrlene's ATV. The bright pink vehicle with maroon flames, armor plating and roof mounted Gatling gun proved well in moving her small collection of possessions from Lupinoss. In two days, they'd gotten her sorted out and moved into the office above the Alchemist's Fire. Granted she couldn't remember the first day beyond Mylrene holding her hair back from puking and long naps on the couch. She'd have to remember to limit herself on trying to keep up with her elder sister when drinking liquor.

The sound of voices coming up the single staircase to her new hole in the wall spurred Ruby into pushing boxes against walls. Wouldn't do if new clients tripped over her things and broke a nose, neck or something else vital to getting paid for services. The tops of Myrlenes ears just cresting the landing of the stairs made Ruby's heart sink a little. To be honest, expecting any clients right away was a pipe dream. The Airii gave Ruby a cheery smile as she entered the office soon to be living quarters. In tow though was another canine anthro about four feet tall, bearing striking resemblances to a border collie and decked in leather pants, a green blouse, old fashioned goggles upon its head and a little golden scaled drake the size of Ruby's palm resting on the anthro's shoulder. The border collie bore a slight, slim frame and some graying in the black and white fur it had. The green eyes looked sharp, and the heavy looking crate it carried spoke that this was strong if not aging female.

"Did you bring me a gift, Myrlene? Say a client?" Ruby asked and moved to her mothers desk to clear off the dead remains of packing paper.

Myrlene's muzzle tightened in a silent laugh. "Who? Her?" she threw a thumb over her shoulder at the border collie. "Not a client. Another business partner, well, one of our mom's business partners. Ruby, meet Amar Su. Amar Su, my youngest sister, Ruby Spiritor. She's the one I was telling you about that took over mom's store."

Amar gave a tilt of her head to study Ruby, the triangular flopped ears she bore twitched a moment. Amar sat the crate down and crossed to Ruby and stuck out a hand clad in leather riding gloves. Ruby shook the offered hand studying Amar as they shook in silence for a minute or two.

"It's, uhm, nice to meet you Amar Su. That is a pretty drake you have. If you don't mind me asking, what tribe or pack of Lupinossai do you hail from?" Ruby asked.

Amar let go of the handshake first and gave a slight canine yawn before a wuffle of air out of her nostrils. "Zis one is normal, Leney. Finally, one of yer family zat donna make me squirm and feel crackly inside from magic. I like ze lass already. Now, lass, I ain'a Lupiny. I'ma Sumese from Moresh. Ze big moon zat orbits yer planet."

Ruby blushed a moment from her mistaken assumption. "Sumese from Moresh? Mother never mentioned contact between Sliinkaa and Moresh. Still, she was tight lipped about much. Pleasure to meet you anyways. How can I be of service Lady Amar Su."

Amar gave Ruby another head tilt then turned to the heavy that was sat on the ground and began to open it up. "Just Amar, Ruby lass. Ze mini drake on me shoulder is Sparks. Best be watchin' out. Likes to sizzle lightnin'. Now I'ma here to be a service to ye lass."

Ruby looked a little confused. "You're offering me services for?"

Myrlene chuckled hearing the two ladies chat and began moving some of Ruby's boxes marked clothing into the sleeping room. "Hearing." The Airii offered in a giggle. "Man you got plastered that bad? Damn."

Ruby reached over and took up a balled up pair of socks and hurled them at the retreating Airii. Laughter rolled from the open door of the sleeping room. Amar watched Ruby and Myrlene with an air of mirth.

"Take a seat on ze couch lass. Yer sister told me of the echo some crystal earrings be giving ye. Let's have a looksie." Amar said and waved Ruby to sit down.

Ruby sat as Amar came over with a boxy looking device with dials, a meter, she had to look twice to confirm several gauges that would have been cozy in a boiler room. The Sumese stood beside the seated Ruby and detached a corded brass rod. A tap was given to each of the sea foam green crystal earrings in Ruby's ear lobes. Amar gave a few hums while her mini drake, Sparks, skittered back and forth along her shoulder eyeing device and Ruby in bored interest. A few dials turned and another tap of the brass rod in series had the Sumese returning to her heavy crate.

"What was that device?" Ruby asked.

"Zat is a harmonic resonance reader. Detects frequency and pitch of ze Moresh crystal and ze amplitude of any properties. Yer earrings are harmonizing a titch off. Easy tuning zat can be done. Rhy'Din radio frequencies muss up crystals from time to time." Amar explained and pulled out what appeared like an old style, hand cranked flash light without a bulb.

The Sumese returned to Ruby and placed an earring into the empty bulb socket and began to crank a lever on the side while adjusting a slider. Ruby felt her ear tingle and thought she heard a faint chiming echo that got worse before fading to nothing. Amar took the device away and spoke into the ear.

"How does zis sound now, Ruby lass?" Amar said.

Ruby blinked. The echo was gone on her left side. "I don't hear an echo on the left."

"Wonderful. Now time for ze other side." Amar said and proceeded to tune up the right earring.

Myrlene emerged from the sleeping room and leaned against the door sill. "It's amazing her head hasn't been blown off. Never knew why mom put unstable Moresh crystals into her ears."

Amar finished the tuning and smiled when she spoke to Ruby and was given an all clear with no echos. She looked to Myrlene. "Nonsense Leney. Ze crystals have gone zrough much refining since ze old days. Less boom. Better, zese crystals be manufactured ones from yer mothers own design. No boom, Ruby keeps head." Amar chuckled.

Ruby seemed to pale hearing the two. "My head could've exploded with these things? What the hell?"

Amar gave Ruby's shoulder a reassuring pat then returned the tuner to the heavy crate. A small leather bag and heavy plastic bag was soon taken out and handed to Ruby. Ruby gave the bags an inquisitive look. The heavy plastic bag was full of small darts feathered in blues, greys, and greens with each one having the barb capped for safety. The small leather bag, when she unzipped it, produced a polished brass pistol. Ruby looked at Amar then to Myrlene and back to Amar.

"I thought I wasn't getting a gun?" Ruby said.

Myrlene laughed hearing Ruby as she moved a few more boxes of clothing into the bedroom. "It's not a bang bang gun Ruby. Doesn't fire bullets."

"Ze bird dog is correct." Amar quipped.

"Hey!" Myrlene's voice protested from the open door way.

"What? Ye have wings, yes? Ye are canine like me? Ye are bird dog. Yet, never heard Airii cluck, chirp or crow yet. More patience needed, yes." Amar said then looked to Ruby. "Dart gun. Very stable. Very durable. Ye break zis, ye are special kind of boarder jock. Dart gun has a frame, barrel, breach and trigger. No need for using compressed air cartridges. White Moresh crystal in hand grip make burst of wind when chip of Blue Moresh crystal touches it. Blue makes energy. Both last long, long, long time. Ye dead and many grand children living when zis no longer works. Many darts to use, none dipped. Ye dip. Ye invent coatings. Questions?"

Ruby looked down at the brass dart gun. "Nope. Simplest thing I've heard. Hope I never, uhm, get close to even breaking it."

Amar nodded and pulled from a pocket on her blouse a slick, blueberry colored smart phone and handed it to Ruby. "New phone. Request by yer sister. Solid, crystal tech design based on yer mothers Eye Com. No issues from magic. Works with yer earrings. No one else hear it but ye. Now, one last zhing." She waved Ruby to follow her downstairs.

"Holly hell Myrlene, how much am I going to owe her at this rate?" Ruby said with a nervous squeak in her voice.

Myrlene poked her head out from the bedroom with a bit of a dust bunny on her nose. "Nothing. She's offering it all as a gift to be a partner to you like she was to mom. Take it Ruby. Don't make Lassie mad."

Amar barked from the base of the stairs. "I am not zis Lassie ye say I am. Zhat is another Sumese zhat sells lamps and hookas in Tartus. Ye fall from tree again bird dog?"

Myrlene made a rude noise and vanished into the bedroom again. Ruby walked down the stairs and stopped three steps from the bottom. Where there was an open stair way, now a sheen of clear crystal from floor to the base of the floor above her cast a dim reflection back at her. Ruby smiled a bit.

"Oh, you already installed the mage glass for me? I was hoping to learn the spell components and process. But that's alr-" Ruby stopped talking when Amar gave her a green eyed stare that could melt tungsten.

"Pah, not magic. Zis is crystal tech. Solid wall blend of Orange and Grey crystal with a pinch of White and Yellow. Solid. Sturdy. Non tingly wingly nasties. Yer earrings open the door. Yer sister has a key slice, as do I. No one else. Very safe. Ye try. Please. Try." Amar pressed herself up against the side of the stair well to let Ruby pass.

Ruby was unsure what all was meant by the colors Amar told her. At least the Sumese wasn't tossing her at it like the Airii did with the Mage Glass. She took the last three steps down and before she even got to the last step, the center of the wall just melted? Pulled? Drew away? Folded in? She couldn't put her finger on how the solid looking crystal just slid within itself and walked through the opening. Once on the second floor, she turned around and found the wall in tact once more until she was a foot in front of it again. No sound, no tingles, no magical energy or words or gestures or spell work.

Amar crouched on the steps and stared at Ruby. "Zis good door now, yes?"

Ruby was in shock. "It's a very good door. You, have, a business card right?" Her voice full of hope.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The crinkling rustle of old parchment filled the modest confines of the blue-grey glass standing guard around the alchemy laboratory. Tired fingers shook from the ache of grinding a pungent spice root to powder. Flecks of crushed topaz dusted the creases of each digit making the hands shimmer under the cool blue Moresh crystal lighting. A band of worked brass and silver adorned both ring fingers, a thrum of stored power from them brought comfort to the wearer more than the signet bearing the former masters name and crest upon them. Another flick of pages worked a chorus of more crinkling as gold flecked sapphire eyes drank in the trappings and echoes of authors long gone. A white marble mortar, chased with ancient green filigree was tipped over, spilling the red brown dust of spice root into a seething sea of amber liquid swallowed within a thick copper cauldron. Trails of silvery white smoke rose as a hand stirred a glass paddle through the amber liquid now blooming in rifts and clouds of ocher.

Ruby sighed in relief seeing the potion darken to the proper color, stirring the cauldron four more times clockwise, then two stirs counter clockwise. She withdrew the glass paddle and left the concoction to settle and simmer in the copper cauldron. A whisper of a groan from straightening out her hunch while perched upon the high wood stool echoed mutely in the laboratory as she rubbed her lower back, strong fingers working past leather apron, blue blouse and into stubborn muscles. Feeling a smidge looser, Ruby left the stool and rummaged through a stack of wood crates, a small pile of adequate vials and bottles soon sprouting next to her right boot.

A rapid series of knocks was made upon the glass wall framing the stacks of crates and shelves of meager reagents. Ruby jerked a bit at the noise, her mind several steps ahead of the simmering potion, outlining mentally the finishing steps of the precious liquid. A feminine muffled voice called through the glass.

"Hope I didn't startle you too bad, Ruby. Safe to come in and chat?" Myrlene asked.

Ruby settled her nerves and spoke. "The potion is stable, you can come in Myrlene."

Through the mage glass slid Ruby's sister, diminutive, furred and winged. Myrlene seemed to have shed the frigid ice scale mail for a vest of winter white embroidered with Prussian blue thread work showing the heraldry of Winterpaws Kingdom. It was the only thing marking her sisters royalty upon the rest of the light but sturdy cotton periwinkle blouse and ebony leather pants. Silver and platinum earrings adorned those slender Aiirii ears setting a sparkle to glacier blue eyes.

"You really need to work out a system to show when it's safe to bother you in the laboratory. Like colored crystals that light up when you are very preoccupied." Myrlene said with a grin. "Just don't become too obsessed with your craft or you'll start going batty like mom often did."

Ruby gave a small snort hearing Myrlene prattle as she went back to seeking out bottles and vials among the crates. Soon she was placing the vessels upon the copper slab turned work station.

"One cannot be absent minded when potion making takings a deep thirst and sharp mind to fulfill every detail and process to bring about the highest perfection of the craft. I take it your out being diplomatic today dear sister? Your draconic husband seems to take a fascination in dripping wealth upon you." Ruby said, a sarcastic twist to her lips.

"Jealous?" Myrlene flashed a toothed grin. "Could always go out and date, snag a fine man yourself . . ." she teased.

"What, and prove you're right about me getting hooked up within a year? Dream on bird dog." Ruby shot back and snuffed out the fire beneath the cauldron.

Myrlene made a wuffling snort. "You really enjoy that taunt Amar taught you? Long legged giraffe that you are. I stopped by to see how you and the shop are doing. Any issues or help needed?"

"I'm not a giraffe you flapping pigeon. The store is still being arranged and cleaned up. I've been slowly working on creating inventory, but with almost no reagents, I spend most of my days gathering and researching what I need. I did get a small hit of success with the love potions I made for the Valentines season. Surprised mom never took advantage of love potions." Ruby said as she stirred the cauldron one last time in a clockwise manner then took a cedar dowel and thumped the side of the cauldron to settle the mixture and energy.

Myrlene leaned her hip against the slab of copper. "Flapping pigeon. Oh my, stop the presses and call the news, my sister knows how to wound me." A smirk and laugh touched her muzzle and face. Well it's good to hear you got a bit of a taste for selling something. As to mom dabbling in love potions, it was against her ethics to provide magical or chemical influence into a relationship. She felt it left a false love, a taint when used if a person had real intentions that'd shine brighter without aide. But, hey, if it sold well, good for business, right?"

Ruby paused in her task of cleaning out the vials and bottles arranged in neat lines on the copper slab. "You ever wonder if mom got too preachy and ethical for her own good? An alchemist creates and crafts wonders. Why take so much time to consider what someone will do with a concoction? To me that just cries someone that will never progress far, wasting time pondering instead of crafting."

Myrlene picked up a clean, empty vial and twirled it with her clawed fingers. "Are you sure you're not confusing preachy and ethical with real world experience and pain? Many masters in the arcane and alchemical arts get preachy for a reason Ruby. They know what a person can do when handed something perceived as a quick fix. But, if your bottom line was tickled and nudged into profitability, then I wont argue with your views. Just remember this one thing, Ruby. Money will melt and burn before the fires of intent and accountability."

Ruby rolled her eyes. "Now you're getting preachy. It's like watching a black sheep trying to dye their wool white." She smirked.

"Touche." Myrlene smiled.

"Well this next venture will be less sketchy for those so worried about things." Ruby said. "A warming potion for easing the pains and ills of the common cold. One part apothecary, one part alchemy and complete profitability without any moral ethics involved. Though speaking of money, what is up with all the weird stuff people keep trying to pay me with?"

Myrlene set the empty vial down and ruffled her folded wings. "Sounds like a decent second product. Less sketch more value catch. As to money and weird stuff, what are they giving you for trade? You have to keep in mind Ruby, this land is a cross roads for all realities and travelers. They are going to use their own currencies for trade."

"But that seems like a logistical and financial headache!" Ruby whined.

She'd wave Myrlene to follow her out of the laboratory and to the register. She opened the til. "I mean look at this. I have silver crowns, bone nuukels, gemstones, gold nuggets, ceramic buttons, precious metal wires embedded in crystals, crystals, marbles, ball bearings, a variety of colored papers with figures and numbers only half understandable. How? How? How do you run a business in this land and know what equals what?" Ruby nearly shouted in frustration.

Myrlene started to chuckle and laugh. "Accounting headaches are part of running a business here. Nothing will be straight and simple, but don't fret so much. You really haven't been using the ledger I left you, have you?"

Ruby fidgeted a bit. "Well, no, I've been busy exploring and collecting reagents to read some old ledger book."

Ruby yelped and rubbed her right hand where Myrlene suddenly bit at it. "Girl, I gave you the book for a reason! It's not old, it's new and if you had opened it . . ." Myrlene just let out a flustered bark and snapped her fingers. The black, leather bound ledger book appeared before them on the counter. Ruby looked surprised and perplexed that it appeared for Myrlene. "I made the book, Ruby, therefore I can summon it from any resting place at will. Now then." She opened the ledger and flipped through pages showing them to Ruby.

"You have the usual boring stuff to deal with. Expenses, sales, equipment, inventory, bills. But here at the front is a section made just for you, Ruby. It's all of the wisdom and knowledge me and mom have gathered over years of running this shop on the value of all currencies used here. It's a simple exchange table and there's even pictures of what most of the currencies look like and roughly what they equal to in the Silver Crown used here. However, you'll find out as you go on in your career, that this is just a simple guideline. Values will go up and go down and you'll have to learn to read your client. As questions about how trade is going in their lands, feel out if they've come from a prospering boom or fleeing an economical disaster. Do that and you'll be able to eyeball and mentally weigh how much of each currency is worth for you products. Don't be afraid either to give away some product for free. You'd be surprised how many customers will return after handing out samples." Myrlene explained.

Ruby looked over the pages and sections her sister showed her. "Why can't you do this for me? My head hurts enough as it is keeping formulas right. I don't have time to book keep and socialize so much."

"Aw, is the baby alchemist already tired form handling just one store and being a responsible adult? Ruby, I handle the accounts for my Winterpaws Kingdom and the Kingdom of Faan in Alt Lupinoss as well as attend council meetings, rulings, and attend and handle all grievances brought to me by my citizens. This is in addition to being a wife, a mother of three as well as helping my husband ride out and fight abyssal terrors throughout a usual week. All of that and I still find time to come check on you, help you, and instruct you. Girl, you can do this if you stop whining and acting like your still in school. This is the real world. You're going to have to multi-task and play multiple roles in this store until you can afford staff. Not to mention, how can you train or manage your staff if you do not have the founding principles and knowledge they themselves will need to work for you." Myrlene crossed her arms giving Ruby the 'Thousand Yard Mother Stare'.

Ruby's cheeks flushed form the healthy dose of scorn and admonishment. "I, uhm, well, this is all so new to me. I get so flustered and panic. I don't have the cool, level head you and mom had. This all just gets so overwhelming it scares me some days."

"Good. It's good you get scared at this point Ruby. It means you're learning and your not out of touch with the reality you've chosen for yourself. Let me tell you a little trade secret. Our mom was the same way, so was I when learning the ropes. No one held our hands, and half the time everything we know now we had to figure out on our own. You are blessed with knowing me and what I can advise for various situations, but I cannot run this store for you or magically give you experience. That is all part of the journey of running and owning this store. You have to put in effort and not just wall yourself away form people. The more involved you get, the more respectable and believable people will respect. It's going to be rough. You're not going to sleep much. You'll get confused. As long as you keep calm and try to sort things out, you'll get better at it all every day. Get cozy with drinking coffee or tea often to help keep going, take naps where you can, also, go out and live too. Don't just stay cooped in here focusing on just existing. Don't just take up space, go out and enjoy others and help them." Myrlene said, voice soft and encouraging.

Ruby leaned against the counter, her face a mask of stillness as she reflected on what her sister told her. None of it sounded easy and most of what she heard sounded like puzzles or challenges to work through. Perhaps she had gotten lazy being a full time student in Lupinoss. It was a comfy existence just studying and letting others handle things. But was she really lazy or did she have the blood and dreams she shared with her mother coursing through her veins? Ruby sighed and rubbed at the temples of her head and she felt Myrlenes hand upon her back in comfort.

"Alright. I do my damned best to be the best I can running this store and living. Though, could I make a small request, sis?" Ruby said.

Myrlene smiled. "Request away, oh brave alchemist. What do you need?"

"A Jolt Cola and maybe a Happy Meal or two. I may have forgotten to eat the last two days making this potion." Ruby said with chagrin.

Myrlene just laughed softly and moved away from Ruby, heading for the glass front doors. "As you wish, my lady. As you wish. You and mom may be very much the same." She laughed a bit more. "I'll be back with your request and will help you bottle that brew. But I will have to be motherly and tell you to take breaks from now on, and for the love of Ammy's panties, eat something often child."

Ruby started to laugh softly at the usual family utterance of frustration and cursing and returned to her cooled potion as Myrlene vanished out into town.
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