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Perhaps it was out of a place of pride that she moved to uncover the latest mystery in Fichester's walls, or a mix between that and deadly curiosity. An information gatherer worth their salt would find the information before clients came by, after all, and Rosaline prided herself in constantly being several steps ahead of the game, no matter how dangerous.

In this case, the words she'd heard through the grapevine were promising both in rewards and risk. Renegade mages practicing blood arts healing for just about anyone who comes to their door and a matron who, if the word is to be believed, no one survives after a visit from her.

A curious thought, for if there were no survivors, who lived on to tell the tale?

For weeks now, Rosaline had been marking off practitioners in the entirety of the city, trying to desperately to find these people by name. Locating them was tough, but someone had to do the job, and with every passing night, the list only grew shorter; slow progress was still progress.

"Master," A familiar voice came from her left. As she looked in that direction, a small imp emerged from the shadows, head still buried in the thatching of the roof. "Target 69 is clear. Nothing out of the ordinary."

"And I haven't picked up anything in their mind, either." Rosaline sighed, letting her psychic connection with one doctor who had been peacefully eating dinner, unknowing that they had been watched so very uncomfortably closely. "That will be all, Fizzle. Time for a short rest."

"Yes, Master." The imp said, returning to the darkness. Rosaline stood up, then scaled down the wall to land in an alleyway, heading towards the nearest inn. A drink and something to nibble on would be a perfect remedy to an otherwise unproductive evening--

That was, of course, until she saw a familiar red-headed figure in a mustard yellow woolen coat sitting at one of the tables. Leaning over with a smile, she said, "Good evening. Is this seat available?"

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Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

Stepping down out of the carriage he thanked the driver and paid the fee. Arriving in the city just as the sun was setting, the market where he had been dropped off was all but finished for the day. Vendors attempting to sell of their last bits of produce to the last stragglers who still wandered around.

It had been a weird, yet productive trip out into the countryside. Loaded up with several bags over both shoulders he felt considerably tired. “No harm in stopping by on the way home..” he muttered to himself as he made his way down the alleyways.

A small, inconspicuous inn built into a long row of terrace houses, breaking up the monotony of the architecture. It was not a place that most considered ‘fashionable’ or even ‘pleasant’ but it was always busy. Ducking his head in order to enter Kiran approached the bar and leaned on it with both arms, the bags over his shoulders struck the table with a clattering of glass. “Good Evenin’ Sir

A short man in comparison but much older with gray thinning hair looked up at his younger counterpart with an unimpressed expression. “And what do I owe the pleasure to see the younger Askew this evening?” a cold glare that eventually cracked and softened, especially when he got the reaction he was looking for. Kiran frowned and pouted at being called ‘younger’ as it reminded him of his sister. He huffed at the barkeep “Fine! I guess I won’t be giving you this bottle I found and thought ‘Oh! John would love this!…guess I’ll drink -

Hey hey hey! come on-“ the barkeep interrupted him “You know I’m messing with you.” Patting him on the shoulder “Go sit down and I’ll get the usual out to you.” Smirking, Kiran removed a short, square bottle from his bag and placed it on the bar top. “We’ll have to catch up later, I’m absolutely shattered.

You just got back? anyway, go sit!” taking the bottle, John dismissed him with a wave of his hand.

Sitting down at one of the empty tables, bags slid off his shoulders and lightly fell to the floor. Head back in exhaustion.

Good Evening, Is this seat available?

Gaze shifted from the ceiling to a familiar face “Hello again stranger, fancy seeing you here.” he smiled and gestured for her to take the seat.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

What a stroke of luck, to find another one of the practitioners on her list conveniently in a watering hole. Catching sight of Kiran's red tattoos that peeked out of his sleeves for just a moment, she smiled and looked to the bar. Maybe her fortunes were picking up.

"You look absolutely worn out, my friend. Had a long day?" Rosaline asked, sliding right into the seat. "You did say you worked somewhere in the city."

"I should stop by here more frequently. It's comfortable, neither too expensive or too drabby, plus there's a new familiar face here I can catch, provided he stops by enough. Positives all around." She said, leaning into the seat. "The neighbourhood is wont for better security, but this place? Serves good ginger ale and almond cake."

Ease into the conversation. Don't rush.

"How about you? Do you come here for non-alcoholic drinks?"
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

He was clearly exhausted but still managed a smile as he pulled himself off the back of the chair to lean forward onto the table. “Yeah you could say that, just got back into town after visiting that little village in the middle of nowhere.” the same one he had met Rosaline in for the first time.

I work further east of here..” Further into the more dilapidated part of the city where even the local law enforcement were wary to tread. “But John-“ pointing his thumb in the direction of the bar “Is an old friend of mine and Shiv’s so I stop by regularly” he shrugged.

A young barmaid approached the table silently and set down a cup of clear orange tea and a plate with two slices of thick, close to burnt toast, topped with a thick layer of what looked like cooked, lumpy animal fat of some description. The young maid stared at Kiran a bit longer than would be comfortable after he thanked her but he wasn’t really paying attention. She quickly turned away and carried on with her work.

So what brings you to the city?” picking up his tea, raising it and an eyebrow.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

"Further East?" She asked, raising an eyebrow of her own, though the smile on her face didn't drop. "My, my. Aren't you a brave one?"

Everyone and their mothers knew East this part of the city was dangerous territory, with thieves teeming the streets and the very place where the underbelly made its home. Several questions sprung all at once, though she knew better than to bombard him with all of them. Instead, she tilted her head inquisitively, and raised a hand for the barmaid to return.
"Ginger ale for me. Warm." She said, resting her chin on one hand. "Thank you."

Perhaps, just perhaps, an inkling of what she'd been looking for was just in front of her. Either that, or Kiran was just a good-hearted practitioner working in odd areas... if not for those strange marks running up and down his arms sowing doubt where there should be none.

Then again, everyone had their secrets; finding out just happened to be her job.

"Work brings me here. A client asked me to stop by an office; had to chat up a prospecting artificer to share his blueprints, convince him my client was the best option he had in procuring materials for his inventions... Much as a racket it was. Ever seen an artificer's recorder? That thing can walk on its own, shrieking to high hells. Could've sworn it grated my eardrums right off." She said with a shiver. That part was true, only that happened three days ago, and he had to be strong-armed into complying. "Sate my curiosity for a bit. How does one work in the East Ward? It's not exactly the safest of places."
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

The barmaid nodded at the order, took one look Rosaline, then back to Kiran and back to Rosaline before heading off to retrieve the drink.

Sipping his own tea as he listened to her then picking up his toast, waiting until he replied before taking a bite. “I wouldn’t say brave..stupid maybe.” he smirked. “As you know I’m not one to be working for the nobles and lords, those pretentious idiots and I will have nothing to do with each other..” Unless said idiots came to him dead that is but he left that comment out for the time being.

He bit into his toast while listening to Rosaline discuss her work. The barmaid returned with a warm ginger ale and swiftly left the table side. “I understand little about artificer’s work…their inventions would do wonders for the medical profession but I worry about the safety aspects of their machines….” He pulled a displeased face and shook his head.

As she asked him a question he moved to take his coat off and drape it over the back of the chair. More for the sake of not getting it covered in toast crumbs. His currently dry attire keeping him covered as he preferred it compared to their last conversation. “It helps to build a name for yourself. As mentioned I do not extort my patients so if someone wished me ill they’d have the majority of the east ward against them.” He gave her a devious little grin before carrying on with his toast. “You need to be able to hold your own thats for sure.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

At the mention of not wanting to work for nobles, Rosaline laughed into her warmed ale and said, "Cheers, friend, I'll drink to that."

Carefully, she listened and weighed Kiran's words as he spoke of his practice in the East Ward. Key words he dropped were quite helpful-- the majority of the East Ward being one of them. While the Ward still had its handful of honest citizens trying to live their lives in peace, the amount surely wasn't enough to constitute as the majority.

Rosaline let one foot tap in thought. Could Kiran be referring to the underbelly? Surely, protect one of them, and some of them may be kind enough to come for your own aid.

It just wasn't enough to go off of. There wasn't enough evidence.

"Ah, yes. Holding out against your own is a definite prerequisite... So you're adept in some form of art, I suppose?" She asked, carefully treading a line. "Will it be too bold to ask what is it that you can do?"
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

“Well...it ain’t drawing or singing thats for sure.” Making a small, silly joke “Although my singing could ward off a few people...” taking a sip of his tea.

“Not everyone is willing to be kind even to those willing to help them, need to have some means of defending yourself.."

“Without blowing my trumpet too much I’d say I’m a pretty good swordsman. Be it a sword, dagger or scalpel.” Nodding to himself then frowning at some stray thought “In fact I am due to get a few new blades...should be done by now...” muttering to himself more than Rosaline.

“So tell me…since we both know that the East Ward isn’t exactly the friendliest of places in this city...Pray tell what sort of clients require a visit from you in leather armour?” Picking up his second bit of toast and biting down into it. The topping had gone cold by now but he’d still eat it regardless.

He knew she wasn’t just ’talking to people’ for work and was slightly curious.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

"You said it yourself! The city isn't as safe as one would like to have it, and not everyone is willing to be kind, one must needs protect themselves, even by little. As you can see, I'm a one-woman operation; no hands to help defend me but my own." She replied with a smile, placing her mug on the table. "Just a bit of armour can mark the line between a bruise and death, no?"

Putting up her hands in a flourishing motion, Rosaline gestured to herself. "At least this looks stylish on me. It's custom made, cost plenty a penny."

It wasn't the first time she had to cook up a story for a more civil background, and though some of them were keen to side-eye her choice of dress, but not many kept questioning it. Now with Kiran being one of them, she tapped a foot in thought; time to steer the conversation back to topic.

"So, do you have any family other than your sister?"
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

He gave her a look as if scrutinising a patient keeping something from him yet still wanting treatment. It didn’t last long as he was curious but not enough to go digging. He did however, pick up on her inquisitive approach.

“Can’t say I’m one to wear armour even if it may be of use over there..” he had his reasons but left it at that to finish off his tea and toast. Wiping both hands together away from the table to clear them of any crumbs. Glancing back at her outfit when she said it cost a fair amount and nodded in agreement, it did look expensive.

“My nan is still alive, otherwise thats it for immediate family. How about you Miss one-woman operation? You’ve got that brother of yours, anyone else?” Now his attention was fully on Rosaline this started to get amusing.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

"Oh, then would I recommend in small investment? I know a few choice tailors that could make all the difference in a scuffle. The decision's all on you, though; don't let me force you into something you don't want." Most mages don't wear armour on principle, especially druids and wizards. Warlocks like herself were among the fortunate spellcasters who can don protection, along with the few others especially trained in combat. It was mostly guesswork, but any subtle way to confirm her suspicions that he was, in fact, one of the renegade mages she was looking for.

As things stood, things only pointed in directions, never confirming them. Perhaps this was a step in what was hopefully the right one, provided she didn't outlast his good graces.

Then, at his words, Rosaline gave a light roll of her shoulders. "I wouldn't know, sadly. We were raised in a children's home with no one to claim us, and left as soon as opportunity came knocking for fresh faces. You don't want to ruin the taste of dinner over sob stories."

"Let's speak more of your grandmother. I've heard they are fonts of knowledge and can be absolutely frightening, especially when you tell them you haven't eaten." She tried to laugh, reaching for the ale again. "Did she inspire you to become a healer, perhaps?"
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

Kiran contemplated it for a moment, if only to entertain Rosaline more than anything else. “It’s not that I am against the extra protection from armour I just find it easier to move around without it.” tilting his head to the side and shrugging “If I’m working with scalpels the last thing you want is armour to jerk any movement..” A weak but reasonable excuse.
“May I ask of your art? surely you have a means to defend yourself.” asking in the most formal and polite tone he could muster.

At the mention of being from a children’s home his expression didn’t wavier to that of sympathy. Maintaining a blank but focused practitioner face. The mention of his grandmother however broke that as he raised an eyebrow and smiled fractionally.
“That would be true, I do consider her very wise. She raised us after all. But her cooking is nothing short of an abomination, doesn’t stop her complaining about my dietary habits…” rolling his eyes in a light-hearted manner.

The question caused him to pause and think about the answer “No…I’d say not, I was told my father was a healer so in a way I can relate to him despite never meeting him…He died young..” he wasn't overly sad about this statement as he had no real attachment to the man he only knew of from others.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

He made a compelling point, but not enough to dispel the doubts that hung all around him like a noose just waiting to be pulled. All she needed was proof, something other than idle conjecture. Letting a foot tap against the hardwood floors to let out a bit of frustration, Rosaline let herself think of something other than the conversation at hand for a moment. It's no problem, she's used to multitasking.

"If you'd call just hacking away mindlessly with a knife an art. I'm more a wave a knife, run and hide kind of person." She said, swirling her mug of ale in a circle. "And though you seem to bear it with strength, I'm sorry for your loss."

Notes: the grandmother wasn't the healer, but nowhere was it noted that all of them had to be physicians. Just one of them was more deadlier than the others. Then again, if Rosaline were to start accusing every grandmother with poor cooking a renegade witch, she'd have her hands full.

Maybe this was a promising enough lead. Maybe, just maybe, she and Frizzle should keep their eyes out on Kiran next, and be extra careful about it.

"So," She gestured to his empty plate, "Are you heading back home soon? Don't let me keep you."
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

“Well if you’re ever in need of a sparing partner I’d be more than willing to oblige.” Bowing his head slightly. “My blacksmith has a training ground attached to his workshop.” He sighed heavily and sank in his seat “Just...not today I am shattered.”

He waved his hand at her condolences “It’s easy not to mourn something you never had..” shrugging it off.

Looking down at his empty plate he mourned the loss of his meal despite having eaten it. “I should be heading home...up really early tomorrow...” he let out a small groan of complaint. “I’m pretty local to this inn but if your in the East Ward feel free to pop by and say hi....” he paused and frowned for a moment “actually....better not, I’ll have Shiv and Nan getting the wrong idea and hassling me, asking horrible questions.” He cringed with embarrassment then slowly and painfully moved to put his coat on. “You got somewhere to stay for the evening?” Asking casually.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

"If your facilities are our of your family's eyesight and word of mouth wouldn't get to them, I'd gladly oblige you on that offer." And she'd have to tone down the actual knwledge of knife-fighting to not seem suspect. "Blacksmiths make for some hot gossipers, mind you; I don't want you to go home to horrible questions."

Ah, they sounded like quite the tightly-knit family; a shame that they're all suspects.

Rosaline placed an elbow on the table and leaned into her palm, giggling at the idea Kiran getting absolutely heckled. The idea was tempting in and of itself, she might even drop by just to see exactly what sort of chaos would unfold.

"I've got a warm bed lined with fresh cotton and linen waiting for me in the West Ward that isn't, thankfully, filled with bugs." She replied, though still not taking to stand. "So we'll split paths from here. Do take care on your walk back, Kiran; safe travels."
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

He sat there for a long moment to mull things over regarding his blacksmith. He would definitely not want his family seeing him with a strange woman the interrogation would kill him. “He’s been pretty good so far but my sister does visit him as well....bad idea, BUT! that doesn’t mean I don’t know other places. Theres a few sparing grounds by the castle over in the North Ward.”

He groaned at the idea of going home, but it had to be done. Slipping back into his coat before grabbing all of his bags, four in total, and slung them over his shoulders. The contents of the bags clattered with the sound of multiple glass objects he practically jingled as he walked. “I never did see any bugs in that tavern in the middle of nowhere” he smirked. “I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening miss Rosaline.”

Offering her a bow of his head before turning to wave goodbye to John behind the bar. “I promise we’ll catch up ok?” The barman waved back in a more dismissive tone.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

She smiled and waved as the man ducked his head out of the door again, and stayed at her seat until she saw him pass the windows. The moment he was out of sight, she moved quickly, leaving the almost-finished ale at the table along with the empty cup of tea and crumbs of toast. Rosaline walked up to the counter, a performative smile on her face, and asked for a room. It was a simple task, seeming friendly enough to the barkeep while not making too much of an impression; the moment he handed over the keys in exchange for a silver coin, she swiftly made her way upstairs and closed the door tightly shut.

With that, she sat on the bed, and let her shoulders roll in their sockets; there was much work to be done.

"Fizzle, it's time." Rosaline said, and the small imp emerged from the shadows and took to the windows in the form of a raven, one in thought with its master. "After him, quietly."

It did as it was bid, and the warlock laid to rest-- most importantly because the spell she utlizied would leave her defenceless. Might as well be comfortable while you're at it. An invocation, a shift in consciousness and an odd feeling of one's mind leaving the body followed in order, and Rosaline found herself seeing through her familiar's eyes.

Though she had no problems seeing in the cover of night, the imp's devil sight penetrated the darkness further, and soon Rosaline was on the lookout from a vantage point. Now, where was that doctor?
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

He couldn’t be missed as he jingled his way down the street at what was now roughly mid evening. The glass in his bags making stealth impossible but it wasn’t his intention in the first place.

She was an interesting one that was for sure, he thought to himself. Not a stranger of the charming interrogator type he did have to wonder. Was she part of a hunting party or just digging around for others? The thought of her being interested in him for other reasons was mocked and dismissed from his mind. Having put himself it the ‘forever alone’ basket a long time ago. Still, having a friend would of been nice but he knew that too was equally impossible. It would do him good to stay alert in regards to Rosaline, at least until he knew more.

He slowly sauntered through the alleyways, taking his sweet time in getting home. With every turn it would take him further into the East Ward.

Going past a much rougher looking tavern he’d give a respectful head bow to the men standing outside by the door taking to themselves. They in turn would reciprocate the nod.
Turning another corner he’d almost walk into an elderly lady who cried out in surprise. Taking a pause to eyeball the man that frightened her she’d whack him on the arm “Kiran you git! where have you been!

He pretended to wince in pain at being hit “I’m sorry Emily! I was out go town on business..” trying to explain himself. She wasn’t impressed but took the answer regardless “Just make sure you see my husband soon! he’s been asking for you for days now!
Kiran was pretty sure he’d seen said husband before he left but the old mans memory was deteriorating at a rapid pace. “Don’t worry..I will come by soon ok?” offering her a reassuring pat on the arm before she walked around him.

It wouldn’t be long until he reached home and entered through the side door leading down to stairs that led to a basement apartment. A tightly packed bunch of terrace houses in a horrendous state of disrepair. Ignored by the local government to decay even further. Still, it was home to many including the doctor.
Rosaline Stanfeld (played by hexblading) Topic Starter

Keen of sight and ear, the familiar flew quietly into the night and soon later, found its quarry walking at a decent pace. Following Kiran from afar, the bird glided easily above him, noticing every interaction the doctor made with those around him, from those standing outside the door, to the old lady who he almost bumped into. Nothing more than a nod to strangers and a bump-in with family of a patient, it would seem, and nothing noteworthy aside from that.

Not yet, at least.

However, they inevitably reached the end of the line. The raven waited patiently for Kiran to move ahead, before following him again, and in a puff of smoke and feathers, took a different form; one that of a spider. It scuttled with its tiny legs, trying to keep up as much as it possibly could.
Kiran (played by Leighoflight)

From the outside it looked small but the interior was much larger due to how long these terrace houses were built. Inside, the hallway was dimly lit with a small lap on an equally small table next to a coat rack. It smelled like cleaning products and floor polish, everything was clean but painfully old. The wallpaper was peeling in various places down the hallway as he headed into the living room. Being in the basement the only windows were small and narrow at one end of the living room and way back on the furthest bedroom. The whole decor was reminiscent of early victorian time.

Sat in a chair by the fire a woman with an almost similar appearance to Kiran closed the book she was reading to turn her head and look over towards the door. “Your late, nan was this close to having a fit…If you sleep in tomorrow it’s your funeral...” she huffed at him. “Did you get everything we ordered?” moving straight on to business.

He approached further into the living room, sat on the sofa and placed the bags on the floor “Yes, I know…I know, do you ever yet fed up of scolding me? I’m a grown man for crying out loud.” sending a glare in her direction.
“Never Kee, you should know this by now.” sticking her tongue out at him and wandering over into a kneel to dig through his bags.

She was only 5 inches shorter than he was but had the exact same color hair that was much longer and styled into thick curls. She wore a long floor length shirt, a waistcoat that matched his own and a black blouse that covered the entirety of her neck.

“Did you get the 50ml vials?”
“yes…”
“And the 25ml?”
“yes..” his voice sinking more into a monotone
“And the ink?”
“No…”
She paused from digging around in the bags to stare at him as if he’d just admitted to kicking a puppy.
“Of course I got it Shiv! seriously! it’s late! Let me sleep…” he started to whine and let out a tired, fed up fake cry which rewarded him with a shove from his sister. He flopped over at the shove and covered his face with a pillow.

“It’s your own stupid fault so you’ll get no sympathy from me..” she shoved him again then went back to inspecting his shopping. “Go on then, you’ve gotta be up early tomorrow…”
He groaned loudly, muffled by the pillow, in response then forced himself to leave the room and take his coat and boots off. He then wandered past the living room door to the next room being his bedroom.

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