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The Silent Treatment; A mute bard and his deaf assistant walk into a bar...
Topic Started: Dec 4 2017, 09:10 PM (141 Views)
Oru
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[ *  *  * ]
Maverick Nightingale sat, chin in hand at yet another tavern. Yet another sourly un-talented youth belting the most popular road song at the top of his lungs. Maverick heard the fifth measure lift was off key and the refrain was NOT lining up with the poor minstrel's furious strumming.

Damis tapped Maverick on the shoulder and made a set of bored hand gestures. Maverick rolled his eyes. He would have said something like, "well it isn't like you can hear how bad it is," but, well, Maverick had no voice.

Worst day of his life. And though he was usually one for a good story, it was kind of hard to tell when one couldn't speak. And he hated that story anyway.

It was a common mistake; thinking Mav could speak. He still had his tongue, after all. But the scar across his throat spoke of a deeper injury, laced with poisonous magic and malice, and ... Well. That was why he liked wearing scarves. Beside - Mav thought a good scarf looked dashing.

Damis made the same series of gestures. He was a snarky kid. He was in good shape, a farmer's boy from birth, stocky, but five feet tall if he was lucky. He was twelve, with dark hair flouncing unevenly into his brown eyes. And he was also deaf as a stump.

Figured.

Maverick waved him off and finished his ale. Maverick was not stocky, nor was he a farmer's child, In fact, he wasn't even particularly athletic. He had the hands of a musician, refined and dexterous. He had elegant hands and middling elegant features. His ashy blonde hair was cut short and easy to maintain. When he sang, he could get women to swoon - some men too, actually, not that he was picky. And that wasn't it -he was a bard. A true bard, a bard that could cast magic with the very sound of his voice. He could entrance a room, make people happy or sad, he could animate suits of armor to dance! (He did that once, true story.)

But he couldn't sing anymore. Because he had no voice. And now he was stuck listening to amateurs play in crappy roadside taverns with a deaf kid.

But... he could still play. Maverick waited for the set to end, despite Damis' gesticulations. And then, he raised a hand in the air. After he'd received the innkeepers attention, He lifted his other hand; clasping the case for his Bell Harp.

The Innkeeper shrugged and gestured at the stage. Maverick got up and tossed some shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. They were hazel - proudly more green in the sunlight, thank you.

Damis rolled his eyes and picked at the now cold scraps of mutton on his plate.

Maverick ascended the platform and took a stool, resting the bell harp on a knee. He tuned it gently, and started to play. A few soft notes at first, coaxing out the shy dredges of magic in the room. And then he picked up the pace, exuding confidence and skill with each stroke of the strings. The music came out as he intended. He strummed and plucked with relish, he cast his eyes about the room and saw it working. In his minds eye he could feel the magic warming up to start it's dance. Mav felt it under his skin like a sleepy limb. The magic started moving about like wisps of invisible smoke. The song was longing, adventure, it was the length of endless road...

Something smacked him in the back of the head and he tripped over a chord.

The patrons blinked and returned to their games and drinks. Several chuckled.

Damis scowled over Maverick's shoulder and pointed at the bell harp. Then the kid gestured at the patrons and then motioned to Maverick's throat and made a gag face.

Maverick sighed. Fine. Normal music. He could play normal music.

And he did. At least he could content himself with the thought that he played better then anyone he'd heard in the last week.

Demis returned to his seat and finished gnawing on the mutton and watched Maverick play with his face in his hands, almost as if he could hear it. Which he couldn't. Because he was deaf.

Oh, what a pair.

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Reika Halfthorn pulled her hood a little higher over her head and ducked down over her table. She was hungry, and quite broke. She was one of the few patrons in the inn without a plate of food in front of her. She wasn't sure why she'd even bothered to stop there. Her feet ached and she needed a break from walking, but the smells coming from the kitchen were nearly torture.

When the suave bard took his place on the stage, she rolled her eyes. If only she had a skill like that to get herself traveling money! For now she was stuck with hard to catch bounties and manual labor- and very few people were willing to hire her for such tasks. She didn't look nearly as strong as she was.

She carried an ordinary short sword on her hip, various knives, and strapped to her back was a heavy battle hammer. Her uniform said "mercenary" but her face said "pouting girl." She sometimes wished that she had been born a boy. At least then people would take her seriously. How much faster could she have caught up to that Sorcerer if she'd had the same help a traveling man would?

Her stomach growled and she sat back in her chair. There was something funny about the music in the air. Curious, she glanced over at the bard on the stage. Time was slowed for the other diners, but not for her. She narrowed her eyes.

Magic.

When the boy interrupted the man's performance, she locked eyes with him. Then, quickly, pulled her hood in front of her face and rose from her table, rushing from the inn. How had she gotten so close to a spell caster and not even noticed? And one that did not need to speak his spells!

Reika furrowed her brow and ducked around the side of the inn. She would wait, then. Even if he never came out, she couldn't make a seen in such a crowded place. There were too many people who wouldn't understand.
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Maverick finished a set of several songs, changing to keep the mood interesting, and when he was finished, even without the aid of magic to seduce the audience, he received a modest round of applause.

COnsiering the size of the establishment and what kind of patrons - mostly working folk - it was a great number. He'd been a bard for a while even before the loss of his star appendage, and he had learned many things from the Estara Roaming Bardic Academy. And though numbers weren't his strong suit, he knew enough to do a light con, as well as to figure the percentage of crowd attendance versus worth.

When he had finished, he saw that Demis was snoozing peacefully at he table, head dropped into the crook of his arm, other hand still holding a piece of mutton. With a deathly silent sigh of frustration, Maverick pulled his hand out of his food and wrapped his napkin around Demis' now dirty hand. (Well he wasn't about to sit there and clean the boy's fingers, he wasn't Demis' father, Thank the Gods.)

He received a complementary ale and after he finished that and took the walk down the back hall to the privies, he decided he needed some air, leaving the kid to snooze a bit longer in the pub.

The cool evening air hit him like a refreshing hammer, and he breathed a nice deep breath of the - well, the ally between the tavern and the stables. Which was particularly aromatic, but still, nice and cool.

He remembered the days smoking a long pipe in the study of Count Egregor after a performance. Ugh. Why couldn't he have been cursed with no sense of smell?
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Reika was digging through trash when Maverick exited the inn. She'd found an entire loaf of bread- which had admittedly been burned throughout. But char was still better than nothing. It wasn't enough, though, and she was hoping for something a bit more satiating.

She started when the bard rounded the corner, and ducked down behind the bin. It was just the two of them in this alley, and he didn't seem to know that she was there. Cautiously, she peaked around the edge of the garbage barrel. His back was to her, but there was no mistaking him, or his magical aura. Once he'd shown it to her, she would never lose the sense of it.

Maverick was greeted by a different sort of hammer. Reika struck him from behind, across the side of his head- not hard enough to kill, but definitely hard enough to incapacitate. She had to make sure that he didn't cry for help, and she had some questions to ask him. Sorcerers tended to know each other, after all. Everyone knew they had to study together to perfect their craft. Or, at least, Reika was pretty sure about it.

She caught him by the hood of his cloak and flung him against the side of the barn, hefting the hammer in her other hand. If he struggled, she would move to strike again, if he didn't, she would go into questioning.
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You know, it's actually quite lovely out. Cool enough to refresh one from the toils of the day and the smells of the indoors - even the smell of horses brings about a sense of impending journey! If every night were like this one, life may not be so bad. Maybe my luck is turning around! Perhaps tomorrow Demis and I -

Maverick's thoughts were rudely interrupted by something very painful colliding with the side of his head. Stars and lightning swam and flashed behind his eyes, superimposing warped images of pain on the landscape of the ally. He was being moved without his intention.

Mugged. He was being mugged.

I fucking hate my life. Gods; you can all just die in a hole.

He would have cried out. If. He. Had. A. Tongue. But he didn't. So he just sort of opened his mouth and gaped, stunned, as the warmth of his own blood trickled down the side of his head. His eyes came in and out of focus on someone's face.

Some woman's face.

This day is getting more and more peculiar. He raised his hands as best as he could, to try and ward her off, show he was unarmed, and invite her to steal whatever she wanted - not that they had much coin. Correction - not that HE had much coin. He had the boy carry it around.

He pointed to his throat and made negative gestures in a panicked, half dazed state.

He was lucky Demis was awake and looking for his friend in this moment.
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"What do you know about Belahith Uzark?" Reika asked gruffly, lifting the bardic sorcerer up the wall a bit by the collar of his tunic. She held it twisted in her fist, and tight around his neck.

She waited for a response, and when she didn't get it, she pulled him away from the wall and slammed him against it again. He didn't seem to be putting up much of a fight, which genuinely surprised her. He didn't seem like a weakling, and with magic at his disposal there was no reason for him not to have struck her back yet.

"Tell me what you know, sorcerer!" Her tone was accusatory and viscous, but quiet enough to not be heard from the bustling street. "It will be easier for you!"

He was barely reacting! Normally sorcerers were a fight for her. Even the cowardly ones at least addressed her, but he seemed to have been struck mute with fear. She hooked her hammer back onto her back and grasped his collar in both hands. With a grunt she pulled him up and flung him onto the alley floor.

"If you won't tell me, I will be forced to dispatch you, sorcerer."
Edited by Elena, May 18 2018, 08:07 PM.
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Maverick was struck by two things, in his dazed state. The first was that his assailant was actually sort of attractive, and in any other situation, he imagined he would flirt with her in a pub somewhere.

The second thing was that the name was familiar, and he idn't like it, but attempting to gesticulate that to her was impossible.

The third thing, a recent sort of revelation, was that this woman was inhumanly strong and it made him extremely uncomfortable.

He pointed tohis own mouth with pleading eyes and kept shaking his head.

NO I don't know anything about him but conjecture, I've never met the man or woman or whatever, and NO I CAN'T SPEAK YOU IDIOT. His thought raced towards his mouth - but were stopped and silenced like a snuffed candle.

WHen she hefted him and then tossed him to the floor, he oofed wordnessly and blinked back another round of stars and lightning. He raised his hands over his head and tried to mouth the words instead.

I CANNOT SPEAK!

"Wai-!" A voice groaned from the door to the back of the inn. Demis, deaf as a post, although alarmingly not mute (what a painful sound it was,) leaped into the ally and scrambled to Maverick's side, raising his own hands to ward off the woman.

"Hee canth thpeak! Hee unnerthanns me!" The young boy struggled to say the words he could not hear.

It had been a curiosity to Maverick - if Demis had always been deaf or not. The boy had never said. Surely there had to be one point in time where he could hear - at least enough to remember roughly how to make the shapes in his mouth to form words.

Maverick nodded enthusiastically from the floor, grasping he back of Demis' shirt.
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Reika could not read lips, and she made no attempt to. She presumed that the man was attempting to say something to her, and raised a fist threateningly. She opened her mouth to tell him to spit it out already, but was interrupted by a strangled noise from the edge of the alley.

She dropped her guard a bit too easily, and looked up at the boy. "What?" She asked. She looked from the boy to the sorcerer at her feet and fell to press a knee to his chest, pushing the boy aside. She didn't look at Maverick, though, continuing to watch the boy.

He was young, she thought. He looked rough around the edges, like he'd been through a lot. And he had some sort of speech impediment. He seemed perfectly intelligent though. "How do you know this man?" She demanded, keeping the bardic sorcerer stuck to the ground with her own body weight.

It did make sense that the sorcerer couldn't speak. He hadn't even screamed yet. Had he somehow bewitched this boy in order to force him to do his bidding? Was he a slave or other kind of servant?

She narrowed her eyes and tried to sense any magic being acted upon the boy, but found none.
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Demis was nothing if not pig headed. When he was shoved to the side, he wriggled closer again, brow furrowed in consternation. Then the furrowed brow softened and his chin started to tremble - but his eyes valiantly held back the tears he so wanted to spill. He touched Maverick's knee then his own chest. He could't hear but he could assume well enough. Maybe.

He held back a sigh at his next attempt to speak."I canth heer yoo." He tried to slowly pantomime that part. "Heee can chow me whaa yoo shay." He made several complicated hand signs, then he sort of elbowed Maverick.

Oh. Maverick turned Demis towards him and made some of their familiar hand signs. All he said, at least according to how Demis had been teaching him his own system, was "lets get he hell out of here." But hopefully it would be enough to stress that Maverick was the only poor sod who understood the lad.
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Reika watched the boy return to the sorcerer's side with a scowl. She wanted to scold him- to demand if he understood how much danger he was in. The bard would not be the first magic user she had killed, though most of them had been more obviously evil.

But this boy looked as though he was about to cry. She blinked rapidly for a moment before he spoke. The boy was deaf? That explained the strained speech. When Maverick twisted under her to sign at the boy, she glared back at him.

They did seem to understand each other, even if she couldn't. She sucked in a deep breath and stood to take a quick step away from the two of them.

"Tell me what you know about Belahith Uzark," she repeated, reaching her arm around her back for the hammer that rested there. She did not draw it out, though, and waited impatiently for a translated response.

She couldn't just kill a man with his son watching. Not that they looked particularly related.
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Maverick let out a breath when the crazy woman took a step away, but then furious signed to Demis after her question. He signed back. Their conversation sort of ammounted to this:

Holy shit, holy shit, good timing kid
WTF is with the hammer lady? What did you do?
NOTHING.
I DON'T BELIEVE YOU.
JUST give me some paper.

Demis pulled out a notepad and some pencil, handing them slowly to Maverick, looking cautiously at the woman.

Maverick accepted and slowly began to write.

"My Lady, as far as I am aware, Belahith Uzark is an urban legend. I have heard the name, but never met them or anyone else who has met them. Also, I am not a sorcerer." He extended it out so she could see it, wincing as if thinking he was going to get hit in the head again.

Demis scowled at the blood on Maverick's head and took out a hanky to dab at it. Mav allowed it - the trembling jaw was working. Demis, as if reading his mind - which Mav was eternally grateful the boy could NOT - let out a sniffle and rubbed his eye with the back of a hand after he cleaned his 'dad's' face.

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Reika continued to stand with one hand reaching casually back over her shoulder, waiting for an excuse to withdraw her hammer. Her other hand rested on her hip and she was tapping one booted foot.

Now that she was not actively attacking the man, it was easier to get a look at her. Her hair was black and seemed more like it had been chopped than cut. It hung to her ears in some places, and to her neck in others. Her skin was tanned from many days in the sun, and her lips were full and well defined. But her cheeks were sunken with hunger and while she was built for strength, there was no reason for to have been able to manhandle the bard the way she had done.

She snatched the paper out of the sorcerer's hands and read it suspiciously, glancing up at the pair of them between words. It was hard to stay intimidating when that poor boy looked so scared, though. Her expression softened visibly when she looked at him, but hardened again when she turned her eyes back to the bard.

"Don't lie to me, sorcerer. I saw your magic in there." She threw the note pad into the bard's lap. "If I see it again, you won't be so lucky."

She gave another sympathetic look to the sniffling boy. "If he harms you, let me know." She lowered her hands to her side and turned to storm away.

Dammit, Rei. Time to go.

She did not want to risk retribution from the sorcerer- either by way of magic or by way of being reported for assault to the town guard. She would have to lay her head somewhere else for the night. She pulled her hood down over her face and tried to blend into the crowd in the street. It wasn't easy.
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Demis remained crouched in front of the 'sorcerer' with a determined set to his still tremulous jawline. Maverick fumbled with the notepad to try and catch it, and watched the strangely strong woman as she shifted from kind to heinous in a heartbeat.

Demis nodded at he woman's request, and as son as she was turned away, Maverick started writing something. He tore it out of the book and thrust it into Demis' hands, gesticulating wildly towards the angry woman.

Demis scowled darkly, then trotted after her. He tapped her elbow and held out the note with a wobbling grin before fleeing back to Maverick, playing the innocent to help Maverick back to his feet.

The note read, "I would like to talk. I will buy you breakfast in the morning if you meet us in the tavern, and we speak in a friendly manner to one another. I might be able to help you."

Demis wasn't paying any more attention to the woman - he was too busy scolding Maverick for whatever he did to deserve the abrasion on his head. Maverick was watching the woman.

Several observations he caught from that interactions, other than the fine quality of that vicious hammer she wielded. First; She ws too strong. Like... just a shade awkward in how strong she was. Maverick knew a great many women and he knew how strong was generally 'right' for a woman of that size. And prettiness. Pretty women weren't usually that strong, or half so.

Second observation was that she was hungry - she was malnourished at least, by the palor and sunkeness of her cheeks. It begged to seem, against all hope, that maybe if she had food in her she wasn't a cantankerous bitch on a normal basis.

The last, and most important and by far the most interesting observation was that SHE could SEE him use magic. Maybe that was literal - maybe it wasn't. Maybe she felt it. Maybe she senses it. Either way - THAT was magic. Hed known fellows who could sense magic; very, very valuable skill, depending on where you were.

And if she hated magic - because that man, Belahith Uzark, was some sort of crazy powerful, evil, piece of work - sorcerer. And if SHE assumed EVERY idiot that could cast a spell would associate with THAT, than there was a magic-hating bigot in there dying to be free.

And Maverick thought that was HILARIOUS.

Demis started to drag Maverick back inside, signing irritably about the state of his shirt and how he smelled now.

Maverick told him that 'well at least your sense of Smell still works, you shit.'

In the rough translation, of course.
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Reika paused when the boy stopped her. She was rubbing her stomach and fretting, but uncreased her scowl to smile down at him. She accepted the note and patted him on the head encouragingly. Her face fell again when she read the note.

She crumpled it up without thinking about it. "Who does he think he is?" She asked the sky. Then shook her head. She turned to crouch before the young boy and opened her mouth to tell him to tell that bard to go stick it somewhere the sun didn't shine, but instead her stomach growled quite loudly.

The lad was deaf, so she had nothing to be embarrassed about. Still, she didn't like the idea of having an argument with her own stomach in public. So she shut her mouth and gave him a brief, nod.

"Fine. Any information is good, right?" She didn't expect an answer, and patted the boy's head again before turning to continue on her way. She could stay one night, then. It seemed he didn't intend to notify the authorities of her assault on his person.

Now if she could just find someone willing to trade some manual labor for a place to sleep. She turned the corner to disappear out of sight, only to find a man struggling to change a broken wagon wheel.

Perfect.

Confidently, she strode up, smile on her face, and grasped the front end of the thing with both hands. "Here we go," and she lifted it up. It was empty, making the task much easier than it would have been otherwise, but still the man gaped. He said nothing, but hurried to place the new wheel on and give it a test spin. She dropped the wagon back down and dusted her hands on her shirt.

"Thank ye, miss," he said, a tinge of suspicion in his voice. "Anything I can do ta repay ye?"

Reika bowed her head, still smiling.

"Well, actually-"
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Maverick and Damis went back inside and claimed their seats. His instrument was still safely on the bench, untouched by the patrons during his absence. Damis got some clean linen and a bowl of cool water from the mistress of the house, and then left Maverick to do his own administrations.

Why would you tell that woman to come back? Damis signed irritably.

Maverick blinked at him. Then he made the woobly fingers at his young companion, then palmed his forehead.
Magic. Duh.

Damis rolled his eyes. He didn't do any more signing.

Maverick did write him a brief note. "Well done on your presentation. I was almost convinced you were worried about me. Can you keep that up tomorrow?"

Damis gave him a blank look then threw his arms up in dismay. That, just before he retired for the night.

--

The next morning, Maverick was up early. Not any fault of his - but because Damis wouldn't leave him alone. His head was absolutely wrecked, pounding like a criminal begging for release from some bony prison. With eyes slightly bloodshot and the scowl of a not-so-morning-person, he went down to the tavern for breakfast, ready with coin to pay for the oddly-strong, too-angry, yet-not-unattractive barbarian woman.

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Reika was already there, chatting amicably with the bartender. Her hood was pulled back and her choppy black hair hung free except for a single lock braided to keep it out of her eyes. He was telling her about a man who had tried to hold the place up once, and how he'd single-handedly fought the bloke off with the very stool she was sitting on.

Reika didn't believe a word of it, and her smile was strained, but she'd already gotten a complementary mug of warm beer for her efforts, so that was something. She didn't notice Maverick's entrance, so ignored him until he approached.

"So that's when the guard comes in," the bartender said. "Turns out this fella was wanted for murder! Thought he could come in here and do the same ta me and mine, no doubt!" Reika scoffed.

"I bet he was surprised!" She exclaimed.

"I'll say! Ya shoulda seen his face after I hit 'im tha first time!" And he laughed raucously. Reika joined in. Her laugh was lovely, but quite fake.
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Damis and Maverick went right up to the bar and claimed seats. Damis took up the spot between the violent hammer-woman and Maverick. The mute smiled at the bartender, eyes sparkling with the tale, and waiting patiently with chin in palm for the tale to finish.

Unlike some people in this room he had manners. Like waiting his turn for attention - or NOT clobbering them on the side of the head when they weren't looking.

Luckily the injury had stopped bleeding. Maverick dared not use any of his magic to help it, so he had a bit of gauze wrapped about his head to keep a bandage in place, and a floppy knit cap to hide his efforts.

The hat was Damis', and he hadn't been happy about Maverick stealing it. It was vengeance for the rude awakening though. Maverick didn't feel bad.

WHen the laughter - the fake laughter, geez, she wasn't even trying was she - subsided, Maverick graciously pulled out some coin and passed them to the barkeep. He put his hands together in thanks, and then held up three fingers, gesturing down the bar.

Damis grinned and made the eating gesture - which was pretty easy to decipher. He had his fingers pinched together then brought the tips of them to his mouth.

Then Maverick looked down the bar at the woman. When the barkeep's back was turned he felt his eyebrow quirk up in amusement. He pulled the notepad and the pencil from his satchel and placed them on top of the table, patiently waiting.

Damis, between them, put a hand on his chest. "Dah-mees." He struggled out. Maverick had always assumed the boy would remember how to say his own name, so he kept it pronounced like that in his head. It was one of the boy's clearer words when spoken.
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Reika looked over as the bard and the boy sat beside her, and scowled when she met Maverick's eye. She smiled down at Damis, though, and waved at him cheerfully. She seemed to have a soft spot for children.

When the bar tender turned to put their order in with the kitchen, Reika took a long drought from her mug before turning to fully face her two companions.

"Dameese?" She repeated, but the boy couldn't hear whether her pronunciation was correct or not. "It's good to meet you, Dami. My name is Reika." She reached out a hand to shake his. She didn't seem eager to acknowledge the bard's presence.

She could feel him staring at her, though, and finally gave in and looked up at him with her usual scowl.

"What do you want?" She demanded a bit too gruffly.
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Damis shook her hand back, trying to put as much strength as he could into it. He grinned at the woman and then turned forward to put both hands on the bar. He didn't need to know what they were talking about. Maverick would give him the gist of it later, and he could smell the food.

Maverick smiled at he woman and started to write in the notepad.

"It is a pleasure to meet you under better circumstances, Reika. My Name is Maverick Nightengale. I am a bard of no small renown, and as you may have guessed, I am also a user of magic. And though my talents are much dwarfed by the loss of my tongue, I can still function rather well as a tracker of sorts. I do not know the one you seek, but I am very good at finding people."

He was lying, mostly. Honestly - she was using MAGIC and didn't seem to admit or know it. WHICH totally fascinated him. He couldn't help it. It was his bardic curiosity showing. He added a footnote.

"And as you can plainly see, I am in need of some physical protection on my journeys. I think we can help one another."

He slid the notebook over to her and put his head in his hand again, elbow propped up on the bar with a smile.
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Elena
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Rieka all but snatched the notebook from him. Aside from being a sorcerer, he also seemed to be a pompous fool, and she disliked womanizers almost as much as she did sorcerers. Not that he'd shown himself to be one, of course- but she had never been afraid to jump to conclusions about people.

She scrutinized the note, and took the time to roll her eyes at him after reading the second sentence. "Well I've never heard of you," she jabbed, before continuing. What kind of name was Maverick anyway? He must have picked it himself. Bard and their stage names!

So he'd lost his tongue somehow? That was interesting. She glanced back at him after she finished reading- which admittedly took some time, as she was not very good at it.

"If you've never heard of Belahith Uzark then you aren't of any use to me at all. I have no reason to help you." She said 'you' as though it were a swear word.

The bartender placed three bowls of porridge in front of them. Strips of fatty bacon garnished each bowl. It was no feast, but it smelled like one to Reika, who forgot all about insulting Maverick as soon as the bowl hit the counter.

She shoveled it into her face as fast as she could, like an animal afraid it would be taken away from her at a moment's notice.
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