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Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997)

Somewhere on a plane of existence other than yours...

Through the cramped market stalls of the partially open-air bazaar, a berobed women strolled through the grain-strewn aisles in between tents of gemstones, spices, and various otherworldly items stored in jars. Incense smoke filling the area with alien aromas wafted around her as she made her way around shoppers from every nation in the world as well as many nations from worlds beyond, almost tempting her to slow down and haggle with the colorful hawkers of questionable origins and even more questionable business ethics. All along her walk among the carts and stands offering exotic items she’d Member even heard of, however, she didn’t slow down her pace as she approached one particular stall laden with her accessories of choice.

The proprietor of the tent in question, a jolly little buck-toothed man who seemed to be human, or mostly human, adjusted his checkered beret as the quiet young lady approached. Before she’d even come within listening distance, the jolly proprietor had removed a patchwork quilt which covered much of the main display rack under the tent awning and began dusting off a varied collection of arcane focuses. “Welcome welcome!” the humanoid salesman said heartily as the woman with chestnut eyes and skin almost as dark stepped beneath the awning to inspect the weirdo’s weird wares. “Take a look.”

That she did, running her fingers just above the various crystal balls and enchanted rods in display, taking care not to actually make physical contact with the goods. A white light emitted from her fingertips as she did, emanating an elementary form of divination as she made a game of identifying the purpose of each item. The jolly salesman maintained a respectful quiet, allowing her to sense for herself the nature of each focus before jumping in with the pitch for each. Very briefly, the reserved mage paused in her efforts, feeling the pinpricks of excess mana entering the plane somewhere in the vicinity, or at least on the same continent, as a foreign entity popped into existence. The occurrence was so far away, though, or so subdued, that the feeling quickly disappeared, and she continued on her unplanned shopping foray.

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Xavier's arrival, while typically extravagant, was much more straightforward and versatile than usual. Near the forest line that sat outside of the city, a small magical gate would form between two tree's enveloping branches. With the careful guidance of the magic flow, the branches would interlock for just long enough to allow what would be seen by the naked eye, a pulsating blue collection of symbols form in the empty air in-between. These symbols would quickly connect like dots as moments later; the magic would project outwards from the center before promptly falling back in place and opening up the shimmering portal. The branches that held the spell in place would take on a green glow along with the trees that offered their use.

Moments later, a man would step out of average height and body weight. His eyes glistened like the blue sky with intelligence and curiosity as he looked around at the surroundings. He wore the most basic of clothing with a gray tunic and pants to match. His boots were relatively worn, and he seemed to keep a hooded clock to his back. It seemed that staying under the radar when it came to appearance was something he was keen to do. While his clothing was bare, he managed to keep his brownish-looking beard well maintained along with his hair, with bangs that rested to his head's right side. Xavier turned his head towards the portal and raised an eyebrow at his own creation. Raising his hand and placing it on the portal branches, he uttered a few words under his breath that fell on deaf ears.

The branches themselves acknowledged whatever the man had spoken as the portal would quickly dissipate, and the trees formed back to normal. Xavier turned on his heels as he began making his way to the city. It took him only a few minutes to get to the main gate as the treelines were already relatively close to the town itself. He'd walk in with no conflict or general suspicion giving the guards a respectful through passing. He did have a bit of preference for this town because of it's known magical merchants and the trade district being instantly through the gate. This exact notion would only answer his thoughts and preferences as the bazaar could be seen from the gate's entrance.

Casually he would wander into the entrance of the Bazaar, scanning stalls but not stopping. Of course, until he came to the stand of ever so jolly salesman. Leaning forward to get a closer look at the items, he would eye the woman next to him, giving a small smirk though not saying anything. Xavier would look utterly out of place at a magical stall as directly it would seem he had no magic power coming off of him nor did he look the part. Without warning Xavier spoke, his voice smooth and his words enunciated. "Tell me, good sir, what would you say...is the most powerful thing you have at this table?" He'd raise himself from gazing at the goods to challenge the man's eye contact for an answer, hands clasped behind his back now.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

For a few moments, the cloaked young woman tried to ignore the throngs of colorful people speaking a plethora of languages, doing her best to focus on the focuses (no pun intended). The sounds of various musical instruments, live animals, and a few choruses of laughter mixed in with the wafting smoke trails of incense - some of it from offworld - to provide ample distraction to any shopper who simply wanted to find the right purchase for the day. Thus, when a plainly-dressed man who appeared as casual as he was unassuming arrived at the stall, Mash didn’t yet notice, nor did she associate him with the previous temporal shift within the plane.

Although his mannerisms and demeanor didn’t stand out as peculiar or unusual, his statement most certainly caught her attention. “Tell me, good sir, what would you say...is the most powerful thing you have at this table?" he asked, his hands clasped behind his back.

Mash’s eyebrows shot up, but she retained the composure to keep her face hidden by her cloak’s hood for a moment. As good as her relations with most of the merchants in that particular bazaar were, she knew their behavior with strangers to the area. Remaining still, she watched as the little proprietor’s expression broke out into a smile like a prospector who’d struck a vein of gold ore. Flashing his buck teeth, the human or human-like merchant couldn’t conceal his giddy delight. “The most powerful thing available is *behind* this table, my good man!” the little merchant said, and without even explaining what it was, he began shuffling in between two stacks of crates in his cramped market tent. “Give me one minute, I’ll bring you what you need!” With that, the near-human proprietor scurried away and began moving around what sounded like boxes in a frantic fashion, flicking the length of fabric in between his storage and his display area with amorphous pokes and prods into the material.

As soon as he disappeared, Mash pulled her hood back to reveal a worried look on her face; her concern wasn’t deep or urgent, but more of the sort a decent person showed toward a stranger who was about to be swindled. “Excise me, sir,” she said in a low tone of voice while waving her hand in the newcomer’s field of vision to grab his attention. “Charhoon here is a kind man, when you get to know him, but I believe he’s about to pitch the most expensive thing here to you. I can show you what might actually suit your needs if you tell me...you only have a few seconds before he returns if you want me to, though.”
Xavier's face cracked into a smile as he watched the merchant scurry off into the back. Though he has dealt with many merchants like this before, the chance of them bringing back something interesting kept him prodding. His attention fell to the woman who showed concern about his wallet and what she viewed as ignorance. It was enough for him to give a warm smile in her direction and a respectful nod at the comment of what he might need. A random stranger proposing such things interested him even more than a swindling merchant as he'd gesture for her to show what she had in mind. "You have my attention, undoubtedly, miss." Though interested, his voice also marked a sense of caution as this female was an unknown entity to him.

The market around them bustled loudly as this quiet engagement happened. Even as they talked, a small boy slammed into Xavier as what could be presumed an accident. Though anyone with any city sense could instantly tell, it was more than that. A bustling market with ease to snag things on the perceptually inept individual. Xavier was not one of those people at the end of it, though.

"Oh, sorry, Mr!" The boy would say as he attempted to blend back into the crowd. Unfortunately for the boy himself, though, he'd already have been caught by Xavier's right hand. Though attention was still relatively on the woman, he'd calmly speak down towards the boy as he'd open palm his free hand. "Lad, my money pouch in your right-hand pocket, please. You can keep one of the gold pieces for getting it in the first place, though." Xavier cared little for monetary possessions, but in a merchant bazaar, it was necessary. The boy, now chastened, wouldn't even bother grabbing the gold coin as he dropped the pouch back into Xavier's palm. Shrugging indifferently, his hand released the boy as he bolted swiftly into the crowd. Unfortunately, the event had caused the merchant to be walking out with an item behind the back, and with Xavier holding the bag of money ready in hand. Letting out a low laugh at the missed opportunity, he'd turn around again first towards the woman, "I am still interested." Once those words where spoken, he would finish the turning motion towards the market stall again. "I hope I can afford such a thing, my good sir, let us see what this is all about first!"
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

The chain of events which intervened in the following few moments - the merchant’s exit, the pickpocket’s intrusion, and the polite stranger’s comment - had occurred so fast that Mashdara nearly lost track. It was the kind of everyday occurrence which one may not have expected but shouldn’t be surprised by. Regardless, she was a little surprised, especially by the stranger’s alertness contrasted with the apparent lack of urgency about possible being ripped off. Seconds were ticking by, however, and the little merchant named Charhoon emerged with his hands full just in time to see the polite stranger (heretofore unnamed) holding a bag of coins in his.

Those buck teeth, which would have been endearing in a cartoonish way had the situation been different, flashed upon sight of the coin purse. Mash frowned in slight disapproval upon sight of the merchant’s grin, but she pulled her hood forward on her head to avoid displaying that toward the little humanoid; the plainly-dressed stranger may have noticed, given his situational awareness, though Mash couldn’t be sure.

"I hope I can afford such a thing, my good sir,“ said the stranger. “Let us see what this is all about first!"

Proudly raising up a decrepit object in his hands, Charhoon showed off what appeared to be a plucked farm fowl preserve by taxidermy and encrusted with geode-like growths, all of it supported by a metal pole mounted on a circular wooden stand. “This, my friend, is real ultimate power!” Charhoon crooned while holding the foul object far forward enough for Mash to cringe away from the avian’s googley eyes. “The Ghardanian-Kuroti Ashbird of Fortune! Just place this in any room in which magical experimentation takes place, and your wildest dreams will reveal themselves in test results!”

Mash was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She didn’t want to harm the merchant’s business, but she didn’t want to see a person who was polite to strangers lose money either. In an attempt to distract attention from the absurd atrocity of an artifact, she reached forward and channeled a small tad of energy for her fingertips to glow a light blue color near a less expensive - yet likely more reliable - artifact in the form of a crystal ball floating above the display table. “I sure wish I had something as powerful as this!” she said in a tone of voice which was just a little too obvious as she tried to politely interrupt what she’d thought was a one-sided business deal.
Xavier's face struggled not to laugh as he stared with faked interest at the man's most "powerful" object. Once the merchant finished his grand explanation of it Xavier himself took a step back in acted shock. As if this poorly constructed object was precisely what he had always been looking for. "My gosh, I can genuinely tell that is something to behold, my good sir!" Xavier took a step closer, a grin so broad that it could be plastered on the merchant stand behind them. "Well, look at those geodes! I can tell they help contain the magic power and serve for a conduit to pull if needed! Such a marvelous creation you have here I am most impressed." It was apparent from an actual magic user's standpoint that Xavier knew better, but he definitely could play the game just as well as the merchant could.

Of course, as Xavier played along, the woman next to him had plans to divert away from the somewhat unimpressive..thing? Xavier's eyes instantly landed on where her finger was glowing and the crystal ball itself. "Oh, now that though, I think that might be exactly what I am looking for!" His right finger got close to the crystal ball as well, causing the same blue energy to surround his. He understood what the woman was doing, and it was the perfect distraction to get away from whatever the man was trying to pawn off. "Now look at this good sir! It practically is calling for me to buy it; my glow is even stronger than the women here." Giving an expected look towards the merchant and a shrug as the table slowly turned on what would be a deal to his advantage. He had no interest in whatever this was and could tell it was nothing but a focus tool Xavier would give to an apprentice. That mattered not in the end, as playing with magical merchants like this was always an enjoyable pastime.

Pulling his finger away while causing the magical energy to dissipate, he'd give another longing look at the crystal ball. "Honestly, even though I would love to buy it, I don't know if I can afford it. Such a fine piece of magic there could be out of my reach, what would you say it costs though?" Xavier's fingers rested calmly on his chin in thought, before pointing them slightly in the merchant's direction in question. A very casual wink would be barely noticeable at the woman, but she'd pick it up if her observational skills were keen. He had every intention of disengaging from here relatively soon, as she seemed to be a fascinating individual to talk with at least for a passing a hour or two.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

Charhoon, the merchant, flashed a buck toothed grin in response to the stranger’s praise for his decrepit, preserved arcane chicken and its bulging eyes. When Mashdara intervened and attempted to draw attention to the crystal ball, the little humanoid’s eyebrows knitted into a confused frown, initially thrown off by the unrelated topics. Xavier’s sudden interest in the second item eventually distracted Charhoon enough to push the little man toward another potential sale, though, spurring a new sales pitch for the new item.

Mashdara was also confused, though for different reasons, especially when she noticed the slight exaggeration in the stranger’s reaction to first the overpriced abomination and then to the rather standard beginner’s focus. The man was too well-spoken, and too well-presented, to be swindled so easily. Though she couldn’t tell, she began to wonder if he was trying to swindle Charhoon right back - a not entirely undeserved reaction, though one which she didn’t expect to succeed. Curiosity compelled her to continue watching, however, in addition to an interventionist desire not to see anybody lose their whole wallet (again).

Lavish praise upon the crystal ball energized Charhoon, worrying Mashdara that such a scenario was about to occur. “Indeed, this is the finest piece of magic you’ll find on the continent!” the little humanesque man chimed proudly while obtusely handling the crystal ball. “But there’s no need to worry about pricing in my emporium, no no! For I offer the best of discounts. For this marvelous wonder, on its own, the normal price is-“

“Sixty-three gold pieces!” Mashdara blurted out, repeating the market price plus a minuscule markup. Charhoon blanked out and turned towards her, unsure of how to respond to the local who knew prices and maintained a superb expression of innocence (she wasn’t lying, after all). “I mean, this premium piece goes for sixty-three, right?”

Flummoxed and unsuspecting due to her regularity in the bazaar, the little man struggled to recover from the interruption. “I...no, no, that’s for the quartz ball, not such a fine crystal ball as this! For the low-low price of five-hundred, a discriminating customer can walk away with both items!” he replied, holding the crystal ball in one hand and the weird chicken thing in the other.

Mashdara’s jaw dropped at the unfair price, though the merchant misread her reaction as one of awestruck admiration, and he grinned wide with those buck teeth again while pumping his fists up and down with both arcane foci.
Eyes projected in surprise at the merchant's ridiculous price as Xavier attempted a nod in agreement. This merchantman was most definitely seeking to swindle Xavier out of every gold piece he has ever owned. Pretending to gaze at each item in wonderment as he stalled for time, he'd raise his free hand to point at the arcanic chicken thing again. "Now, I would say that since it seems you are almost undercutting yourself, good sir!" His free hand that had been pointing obstrusively at the object now caressed his neatly trimmed brownish beard in thought. "I almost say that it's worth 500 alone, making the total market price an average of 570, yes!" Xavier...was swindling himself now at this point? Why would he already raise an exorbitant price to something even higher? "Yes, that will do certainly, I am grabbing the money now." Removing his hand from the beard he had been stroking, he'd movie to untie his gold pouch to only furrow his brow.

The string untied, and as he were to drop gold coins on the man's table, only rocks would fall. Another shocked expression fell on the acting mage's face as loud pangs of mineral hit the table.. It quickly transformed into anger as he looked all around him in exaggeration as if looking for someone, then falling on the woman next to him. "Ma'am! That boy seems to have stolen me of all my gold. He will certainly pay for doing such a misdeed to me!" Though the woman knew better what happened, the merchant had not been present for when that event unfolded, causing an aura of confusion around the wholesale. Letting out another frustrated sigh Xavier bowed his head in respect towards the merchant. "Unfortunately, I must go find this young one that has robbed me. It seems that I have fallen for the simplest tricks of a market place, and thus suffer not being able to enjoy such fine magical goods from you!" Throwing his hands to the air Xavier turned with a huff away from the stand towards the direction the boy had ran.

His eyes gazed to the side of him where the woman still stood. "I do not remember exactly what the boy had looked like, do you care to accompany me for a short while to help me look?" Xavier had opened the door for her to follow away from the swindling merchant as well, thus creating freedom from an increasingly awkward transaction.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

Initially, Mashdara felt disappointed that her interference hadn’t succeeded; this stranger seemed to actually agree with Charhoon’s overcharging. Although she didn’t know the man, her sense of altruism stung her with the notion that her good deed for that half of the day had been lost to her. She frowned at Charhoon at the same time that the little humanoid’s eyes shot open like a frog’s, waiting with baited breath for the contents of the coin purse to spill out onto the table.

And those contents were...rocks?

Charhoon was every much as disappointed as the stranger, though Mashdara still wondered if there was a measure of theatrics in his reaction. “A pickpocket! The lowest of the thieves!” Charhoon gasped. “Yes, Mash, the boy! The one with the oversized brown cap! You must find him...for great justice,” the buck-toothed humanoid said, correcting himself at the end of the sentence to maintain the veneer of friendly concern.

Mashdara didn’t need to pretend, however, and the notion that she could still help a stranger energized her previously growing sense of resignation. Though his reaction to the pricing had raised her suspicions, the presence of the rocks hadn’t, as she’d seen such tricks before; for all she knew, the pickpocket may very well have succeeded in such a switch. “I don’t mind, sir; everybody needs a bit of guidance in new places!” She stepped away from the market stall and away from Charhoon’s earshot. “A small thief like that would likely return to wherever he sleeps after making such a steal; they’re unlikely to wander crowds like this with a full coin purse. They keep stashes. I know most of the hiding places around here if you’d like me to check with you.”
Xavier gave another theatrical stomp in the annoyance of the merchant's comments as he walked away. "Do not fear good merchant! I will return to pay you very heartedly one day for those magical tools." When he was finally out of earshot with Mashdara, a small nod would agree with her statements. A sly smirk creviced his lips as he'd speak low enough. "Let us just pretend we are looking for the boy, yes?" Quickly glancing behind him for a moment towards the merchant and then back towards Mashdara, "I promise you I did not lose my funds, it was a simple...party trick per say."

Raising a hand to stroke his beard for a second, Xavier looked in the direction of where the potential thief scurried away towards. "I do admit though, I'd like to observe at least the locations of where these tiny thieves live." Though it did not give him much interest overall, it would allow him to interact with the female and enable learning of the local surroundings. "I think I shall take you up on your potential tour guiding. I can even pay, though perhaps not five hundred gold. A bit steep even for myself." He'd give a soft bit of laughter before motioning towards Mashdara to lead the way.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

Though Mashdara hadn’t quite known the stranger’s plan, she wasn’t entirely surprised that he’d been trying to extricate himself from the unfair business deal. What did surprise her, however, was his desire to see the local area.

“Oh! Well, I don’t mind helping a stranger as part of my mission, but I certainly couldn’t accept money. This is a social service I can provide.” She naturally started to weave in and out of the colorful crowd, passing by humans, near-humans, and people from a few species who weren’t even native to that world. For a few moments, they entered an area of the circuitous market streets which wasn’t covered by a tarp, allowing light from the oddly reddish sky to allow a rush of dry air to irritate them and all the motley shoppers in that section. “I’ve been here for almost five months now; I know most of the places where the disadvantaged live, if that strikes your curiosity.”

While she walked past a stall selling live animals of indiscernible origins, she looked sideways at the occasionally theatric stranger. “You don’t seem like someone unfamiliar with such places, but you’re not from this place. Why come here for magic foci of all places?”
Merchants screamed their wares, and even as Xavier followed behind Mashdara his attention scattered all around him, absorbing everything in. A traveler such as himself was always keen to take in even the most ordinary things of new land or location. Of course, part of his awareness still fell into Mashdara's conversation, nods of acknowledgment made towards how long she had been there for. "That is quite a bit of time indeed!" His voice would rise slightly to talk over the boisterous amounts of people in the market; it was almost hard to hear her over screaming merchants and loud bargaining. He did his best to continue following the woman as he talked, avoiding the bustling crowds.

"Hmmm, why I came here" His thoughts raced for a moment as he'd shuffle his way past what would seem four tiefling's throwing dice in the dirt. They hissed insults in a language that he did not bother translating as he continued talking and strolling away from them. "Well, to be honest, I came here just on a whim. I generally just...go with the flow of magic." It was weird wording and even more peculiar reasoning. "Also, I'd greatly appreciate if you showed me where these...disadvantaged lived." The pause was awkward before saying the final words as if thinking about the statement before spluttering the last statement. "What has made you stay here for five months even? I can't imagine the work itself is that grand unless you are a merchant in the sense of things.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

The specific words the stranger had chosen were odd, to say the least, though Mashdara nodded in agreement; they were in a place which was somewhat akin to a grand central station for the weird and the wild. She tried to mentally link his following of magic flows with his desire to see where the disadvantaged people lived, but she couldn’t come up with any answers. Still, she kept her nosier questions to herself and gave him the benefit of the doubt, assuming he may have sensed some sort of lay lines flowing in that direction.

Around a stone corner, they walked beneath another tarp to provide a measure of cover from the oddly colored sky, this one made from what appeared to be the skin of a centaur. The crowds were more dispersed, providing more elbow room, but the conversations were somehow louder, a little more heated, and many of them related to the financial activities of lenders and borrowers. Fewer market stalls dotted the street, though a larger number of small groups oblivious to everyone else around them argued.

“My convent provided a teleport for me here; I’ve been given a mission here, so there’s neither grandiosity nor commerce involved,” she said readily and with a measure of pride in her work. “Market towns are often quite unholy places; there’s no local culture, no common ideas binding the people together, and much of the population is temporary or migratory. You see a lot of heartlessness in such places.”

In between two large crowds of colorful and varied people arguing quite vociferously about exchange of currencies from entirely different worlds, there was a corner in the street which was curiously unobserved. In that corner was a little nook, a stone step a few feet high, leading into a narrow alleyway which could scarcely fit both of them. Despite Mashdara’s small stature and unfamiliarity with the stranger, she seemed neither wary of his intentions nor hesitant to approach the narrow passage, implying either naïveté or some sort of assurance that he wouldn’t rob her. “It’s down this way,” she said while pointing down the alley. “There isn’t much violence in this place, but you might see some...unsettling levels of poverty. Are you ready to...um...follow the flow of magic, I suppose?”
Xavier's eyes rolled slightly at the loud lenders and borrowers attempting to pull desperate people into the financial traps they layed. It was a risky business even talking to people like that, even more fatal if you did not have the means to pay the gold back. The duo left the more enjoyable part of the market behind and entered the town's rougher side. Though it did not bother Xavier much overall, his eyes scan Mashdara quizzically as she began talking about a convent. His thoughts raced at her accusations of the area and wondered what sort of strict teachings they taught under her convent.

There were fewer people for Xavier to dodge, but he still had to talk with his voice higher so Mashdara could hear as he kept relative pace with her. "I feel like that is a cruel way of looking at a place like this. Heartlessness is probably compared to survival if I were to look at these people." Xavier himself did not find these people to be horrible. It was all just a means to an end, and when civilization is trade heavy, you have to be a bit cutthroat. "I am sure there are many people that follow some deity here as well. I mean, the merchant god himself generally watches over these types of lands! I think that in itself makes it some sort of holy ground for these people, right?" It was a weird hill for Xavier to fight and maybe even die on. He did not care for these people much, but he did enjoy some good counter-arguments to extreme ways of thinking.

His eyes narrowed towards what would be the relatively small alleyway. His mind did wonder why she bothered to trust him so much, but perhaps her love for adventure secretly drove her curiosity like it did his. "I do not mind if there is violence or not; none the less I am ready to see what may be here. I am sure as poverty is, it will not be anything pleasant. So yes, I am prepared to follow the flow of magic, as you say." He'd gesture to lead the way, a smirk crossing his face once again as if this was a game to Xavier.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

At first, Mashdara crooked her neck back and smiled awkwardly at Xavier’s words while she led him down the brick-lined, tarp-covered alley. For a very long time, she’d never faced a challenge to her views. As much as people said such was healthy, she also didn’t quite know how to respond and instead floundered for a cogent response.

“Yes, well...maybe that’s true but...you know, holy is a technical term.” Upon realizing that she’d never had to articulate her views on the market town, she wondered if she could actually put them into words without preparation. “People believe in many different things, but...they don’t always act according to what they say.”

Not wanting to decline the topic so ungracefully, she thought quickly and guessed for the easiest explanation for her ideas. “There’s a direct way to show you, since you’re here.” Reaching to a satchel which she kept hidden beneath her shawl, Mashdara pulled out a burlap bag containing two loaves of bread, walking sideways while doing so to let Xavier see. “If you want to get a real feel for this place, then perhaps you could assist me with a round I run every five days or so. I can show you what I mean better than telling you, especially once we start to pass the hollows,” she said, referring to what sounded like a place.
"Technical term" His voice was quizzical as he thought about that statement. Xavier never really viewed holy as technical, though it depended on the god, and in the end, anything blessed by a god was sacred in the eyes of that one. Giving a nonchalant shrug to the thought, he'd let the overall idea of it slide to avoid discomfort in the situation. "That is true enough, I suppose, entities always preach a way of living but never follow it themselves. Quite disgraceful if I say so myself" He'd scoff a bit at the idea and give a shake of the head. Even as he talked and made his usual motions, it was not exactly comfortable in the alleyway. Free flow of movement and conversation wasn't exactly...the easiest in small nooks.

Scanning the woman in wonderment, he'd look down at the bread that appeared. Did she intend to show him the meaning of a town like this with bread? Though it would seem almost rude, a small laugh left Xavier as he took in the entire situation in utter bemusement. "Alright, I will play along with this, yes. Especially since you are already helping me track my stolen money," A slight pause happened as he'd swipe away at a spider that had managed to crawl onto his arm, unnoticed until now. "Bloody things, let us get out of this alleyway already before the local bug population tries eating me!"
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

Mashdara breathed a little easier when Xavier allowed her to give an ambiguous response. His question was one she’d likely continue thinking about for the next few days, seeing as how it was the first time she’d been challenged in so long. By the time she’d replayed the brief exchange in her head and innovated a proper response, they man would have moved on, so she tried to curb her inner fervor for the time being.

Though she didn’t appreciate bugs much either, she did smile awkwardly at Xavier’s comment. “There will be fewer of them in the hollows, though this area certainly won’t be spacious,” she said while leading him further in between the various storehouses and material depots forming the market town’s inner labyrinth.

As the two of them walked, the signs of quiet habitation poked through in the squalor. Gelatinous nitrate deposits began to appear, collecting near the various chimneys and vents poking out from the brick walls, but those deposits appeared to have been scraped away nearby certain creaky wooden doors which seemed out of place in such a cramped, unused alleyway. The feeling of eyes falling upon Mashdara and Xavier both crept into the environment, not threatening so much as scanning them for threats. A few places where bricks had been poked out of the walls clearly revealed many eyes watching them, worried in case there were any market enforces or private soldiers prowling about. At one point, when they rounded an uneven corner, a brief intersection in between two alleys revealed a group of barefoot children playing kickball with an empty aluminum tin once used for containing alchemical reagents; the children, belonging to various races and possibly mixed, initially shrank away at the sign of adults wearing clean and pressed clothing, but they shyly waved to Mashdara while pointing and laughing as they gossiped about the newcomer.

Stepping over a sludge puddle and the carcass of a fish of all things, Mashdara tore a few pieces from her loaf of bread and handed them to the children, who readily accepted the scraps with filthy fingernails and ate them with teeth which were yellowed far too early in life. “Hello there, children! My friend and I are looking for another one of the lost,” she said euphemistically. From an alcove formed from a busted hole in the wall of one of the brick walls, an ancient-looking elf - an elf, of all people - leaned out from behind a wooden board, scooting across the rubble-strewn floor due to what seemed to be double-amputated legs to eavesdrop.

“Perhaps you can describe them...um...” Mashdara paused with her eyes widened, slightly embarrassed that she’d forgotten to even ask Xavier’s name during her effort to ‘save’ him from being swindled. She cleared her throat in a signal to intervene, though she was so unused to subterfuge and trickery that she didn’t know how to properly give signals without being noticed. “...he can introduce himself and describe the boy we’re here to visit!” She tried to wink but ended up blinking due to her lack of familiarity with concealing her intentions from people.
The overall surroundings were exactly what Xavier expected from slums in a large city. From the skeptical, fearful children, to the vigilant gazes of hungry people in dark corners of the already dark atmosphere. Places like this always possessed society's disregarded, not fitting the mold of ever-moving merchant life, nobility, or even tend to the farms. Locations like these still maintained the most uniquely skilled characters that bemused Xavier and offered a new insight. Even with such things available, it did not change the tragedy of what slums meant as Xavier frowned, looking around at the area's decrepit nature. It made sense as to why Mashdara came here to assist, but at the same breath, he was sure that the people here could survive on their own very easily. The desire for survival always passed basic moralities for most.

His eyes suddenly snapped to attention when his foot landed squarely in the...sludge puddle. A few slow blinks passed as he took in the environment at a much closer look as an utterance of a sigh left his lips. Slowly Xavier lifted his sludge covered boot and attempted to shake it off with no avail. The brownish boots he wore now had a mismatched black sludge tone as a heavy scowl took form on the scruffy face. "Yes, that's....just lovely" What a way to set the precedence of his new environment by stepping into exotic pools of slime. The children now giggled amongst themselves while they pointed towards Xavier, the bread they had just gotten already gone in a matter of seconds. Even with all this happening, Xavier still took notice of the eavesdropping ancient elf. It was not enough of a worry, though, as he kept the man in the back of his head for later, focusing in on the conversation happening right in front of him.

Xavier's eyes pierced through Mashdara's attempt in diverting the situation to him, though he'd laugh it off with a nod before turning towards the kids once again. Before speaking Xavier also noticed the growing numbers of kids peeking out or even just coming over. What was there, eight, nine maybe? He couldn't count all of them as they darted and dashed around, obviously trying to get a read on the duo standing in the middle of THEIR domain. Ignoring the strange cold feeling of sludge on boot, he'd give a warm smile towards the kids and flick out his hand to cause a blue spark of magic to fizzle around his fingers like a snake. He'd do this for passing seconds before swiftly twirling the same blue magic to the air, causing a sharp blue crackle of magic similar to a firework. A fundamental trick for most mages, though enough to amuse children as they ate bread.

"I am Xavier, or by my full title Xavier Chillbain the Gatekeeper." His thoughts raced for a second, as he generally did not speak with children, nor did he know how to talk to them in a way that made...sense? "Hmm, yes, I am looking for a young lad about this size, was missing his front tooth, wore a brownish cap with blonde hair underneath. His clothing had a lot of patchwork on it as well yes...super quick to!" The description was...bare-bones at best and awkward to boot. Xavier didn't know what the boy looked like that much as it was only a short interaction, and he was uncomfortable talking with all these kids staring at him now. "You know, I think my friend here got a perfect look at him. She can tell you alllll about him yup!" Xavier smiled as he looked in every direction, but the children, leaving the task of explaining their target in her lap.
Mashdara Girin (played by Ihsan997) Topic Starter

Mashdara continued the conversation as normal, oblivious to the notion that Xavier might find the unsanitary conditions to be unpleasant. Stepping in unidentified puddles was par the course in that part of the cramped market town, and she didn’t correctly pick up on his sentiments over his tainted boot. She did, however, grasp the fact that he’d signaled for her to assist in identifying the young thief.

She waited for the street kids to finish staring in awe at Xavier’s blue magic twirls, letting them enjoy the show before she spoke to them again. “Has anyone seen Moby come by recently?” she asked softly. “I think the precocious youngling my companion is talking about may have been Moby.”

Another one of the children, this one appearing entirely human saved for a single pointed ear to complement his rounded other ear, started to confess. “Yeah, Moby just ran through here - shush, shush, shush!” the half-elf (or perhaps quarter-elf?) boy said when the others tried to cover his mouth. “Moby just came back, he’s in the rafters!” the boy said, referring to yet another specific local hideout.

“Nuh uh!” said a young girl covered in rags, this child being entirely human yet speaking a peculiar dialect of that plane’s beast tribes which Xavier may or may not have understood.

“You’re going to owe Moby now,” said an orphaned half-orc, this one a little older than the others and wearing a tattered dress along with an adult’s winter shirt to complement her discolored shoes. She walked away from the conversation, followed by the quarter-elf boy as if they disapproved of revealing the location of the would-be thief.

“Moby isn’t in trouble, there’s no reason to worry,” Mashdara chortled while patting the half-orc girl’s shoulder while the two children took their leave. The boy they were discussing, however, had apparently been listening, as he finally spoke up from an angle above them which Mashdara, at least, hadn’t checked when she and Xavier had arrived.

“Nobody causes trouble here. The hollows don’t have parents or rules.”

Standing on an awning half an arm’s span higher than Xavier’s height was the blonde boy who’d tried to pick his pocket earlier. Tucked in between two tarps hanging strategically to allow small people to hide, the little survivor named Moby had apparently been watching the entire conversation. He didn’t look pouty or upset, but his demeanor bore the sort of defensiveness shared by most children whose only experience with adults was either being punished by them or receiving handouts from them. Mashdara waved to him as if nothing was awry though she didn’t beckon for him to descend just yet.

“Moby, nobody would want to cause trouble. This is Xavier Chillbain, the man from the market. Do you remember, Moby? He’s a very nice man; he just wants to talk to you.”

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