Description: Rose runs into Sol Badguy while camping out in an abandoned town. Why is she here? Well, why is anyone anywhere.
"Bongiorno!" comes the sudden call from the covered veranda of a local restaurant. It was never a huge one, but the covered seating encompassed a few tables, and the covering itself was spared the strange turning that fell upon Celle Ligure oh so long ago. (Not very long.)
Rose is recognizable, of course, for those who follow fighting, even if right now she's in a sun hat and holding up a cup of coffee. She had been sitting very still, no doubt explaining how she had eluded notice previously. As she raises the cup to her lips, she uncrosses her legs, recrossing them with a motion of fabric as she says, "It's very funny, really. You're the second person I've seen in the entire time I've been camping out, out here."
"Do you happen to know where you're going? I'm curious, myself," Rose says, "and while I'm only halfway through the retreat this is really the kind of thing I can't let go. Why don't you come inside and have a seat? I've left the door unlocked." Rose points at the door in question and remains seated.
While only a wrought-iron piece of fencework and some half-dead, half-overgrown landscaping stand between her and the street, the door to the nameless restaurant is in fact unlocked. The interior has been reorganized, apparently quite recently. There is a bar, which was about ninety percent emptied out, but which seemed to retain some vintages and has seen traffic. There is a tent in one corner of the dining room, which, of course, no honorable man would wish to intrude upon.
Rose herself waits and finishes her coffee. (A stovetop pot can be seen in the kitchen. Apparently the gas line, somehow, still works. Or something... perhaps some trickery is involved.)
Sol looks up from the street as he's addressed. He might not react normally, but he's pretty sure there isn't anyone else around. It's a cursed land. Discovering his bounty was headed through this country wasn't surprising; it's the kind of place where someone could disappear.
He hadn't expected a local. Hell of a place to be camping. If he recognizes Rose it doesn't show on his face. And likewise. Sol is dressed down from his usual gear. A black T, black jeans, and a black cap with the word "DUST" on its face, cap lowered to conceal the oddity of his eyes. It isn't readily apparent how he's been traveling however.
But she mentions a second person. That's exactly the kind of news he's looking for, which is why he's immediately suspicious of it. Tracking people tends to be difficult work. Information doesn't just fall into your lap. But it's enough to spark his interest.
He doesn't move at first. His eyes shift, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Any echoes of The Backyard. Satisfied, he moves towards the door, pausing before losing sight of Rose and casting a glance up towards her, looking up from beneath the rim of his black cap. He offers a simple, polite nod.
It could be a trap, but that would be a welcome diversion. Yet no, this random encounter will likely involve socializing. He starts to enter but stops.
%He takes something off his back. A long slender object wrapped in black cloth. He sets it down at the door, knowing it's just as safe in his hands as it is sitting outside. Then again, it's likely keeping watch for him. Satisfied, he steps inside.
"So," Rose says, "tell me your name, stranger."
"Otherwise, I would suspect you of being a ghost." She leans back a bit in her chair, her hat's brim half-concealing one eye. The other seems sly, as if she knew he was coming. (Then again that might just be having listened carefully. You learn how loud the world is when you go to a place where it has left.)
"I can tell you're looking for something... though I have to ask. From your attire, you seem to be a musician's support man... or perhaps the musician himself. What is "DUST," for you?"
Sol takes a brief look around. He turns, still walking, looking about curiously, before settling his glance at Rose.
"Always wanted to be a musician, when I was a kid."
He finds himself a chair, slowly sitting down. For a moment, you can see a glimpse of something resembling weight. Something about the way he carries himself. When he sits down here, a measure of himself relaxes.
He isn't lying though. Sol has always had a soft spot for music. There's a kind of magic that exists in music, in its ability to convey the emotions of its creator and transport the people who are willing to listen.
"My name is Sol." He says simply. He reaches up and takes off the hat, and there's no hiding his peculiar eyes. He looks at the hat, then gestures. "Another one bites."
"But I admit I wasn't expecting to find someone like," He pauses, this time looking at Rose more carefully. He pauses, a wry grin passing his face for the fraction of a moment before his expression shifts back to business. "I wasn't expecting anyone living here."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sol," Rose says. She then considers...
It takes her five seconds, but it is clear when she gets it. Rose snorts a moment of laughter. Then she says, "Someone as beautiful? Well, you find beauty in strange places..." Rose rests her chin in her hands and muses, "But that's rather vain of me to say, isn't it? You have come here, I'm sure, for a purpose other than to admire the scenery."
She raises herself up. A deck of cards has appeared behind where her elbows were resting. She doesn't speak of them, instead saying: "It's a place that doesn't have anyone else around, not even tourists. Of course, I understand why they wouldn't want to come here. Despite the twenty-first century, this place has a reputation of being..."
Rose turns her head, to look towards where the buildings were divided. "Cursed."
"I don't think it is," Rose continues, "but you know how reputations are. Have you come here for photography? Or perhaps to paint the landscape?"
Sol leans back in the chair, half smirking.
"Beauty is nothing special in this world. I've been from one end to another and I've seen beautiful people everywhere." /Eventually, they all start to look the same./ "After a while they lose their glamour. Time passes," /Except for me./ "People grow old," /Old friends become old people./ "Looks fade, and after a while you stop looking at beauty." /Who wants to live forever anyway./
He stops, glancing off, expression momentarily distant. Not here. Then he looks back to Rose and leans forward. "But you're hanging out in a place that most would stay the hell away from. Even if you don't believe its cursed. That says more about you than anything your face could say. Exactly what, though, I wonder."
He pauses, taking a moment to just absorb the moment. She isn't wrong. It's peaceful here. But death is peaceful too and many would argue that this land is just an empty grave.
"I'm looking for a man who may have passed through here. You said I was the second person. I'd like to ask you about the first."
"Oh?" Rose says.
Her eyebrows lift. "Well," she says, "I fear I must disagree with you - but not for your reasons; I take the same facts, and I think I have drawn the opposite conclusion."
"Hm-m-m," Rose then says. "It's quite a mystery, isn't it."
She takes in a deep breath and lets it out. "Ahh, well, that man... I suppose he wasn't anything special. I don't think he saw me, either. Let me think... I believe he was someone Sicilian, though I believe in turn he was trying to dress as if he were African. But I can tell the difference at a glance," Rose says, tapping her nose. "Does this match for whom you seek?"
Rose then takes up that deck of long-rectangular tarot cards. She shuffles them with idle ease as she asks, "Beyond that, though, ask your questions. I'll give you answers; I can tell you they may even be useful."
Sol listens carefully to everything Rose says. He nods at her question.
"Local man. Well, local to this country. Wouldn't be surprised if he changed his clothes though. Pretty sure he's trying to disappear for a bit. No matter." Sol has less orthodox ways of finding things that are lost, including people.
His train of thought is interrupted when she asks a rather open ended question. His eyes follow her hands to the cards and, after a moment, recognition. He smirks.
"Cute cards, but divination's never been my field of study." That's likely his idea of a joke. But he can play along. The woman's been a good enough hostess and, unsociable as Sol generally is, he has no desire to insult her
"But I'm game." He watches as she shuffles, noting her prowess and ease. Generally the consummate pessimist, he doesn't expect anything from the cards.
He's seen countless practioners claiming to be able to divine the future, but the real thing is few and far between. He's run into a few magic users who were capable of limited scrying, but nothing really worth his time and effort.
So naturally he asks a simple question. The only one he cares about right now, out in the middle of no where, chasing someone. "Will I find who I'm looking for?"
"Hm," Rose says, before she stops - and twists a card out with a flick of one manicured finger. It does a cute little twirl in the air and lands, face up.
The Two of Swords:
"Harmonious, motherly influence... it's connected to Libra, too. Which could suggest justice, or else peace... which means that unfortunately, it could still go either way."
"Unless," Rose says, leaning forwards, "You're very sure as to the justice - or injustice - of your cause?"
She proffers the deck, then. "Shuffle it," she says, "until you're satisfied. I'll expand on the matter, if you'd find it amusing to do."
Of course. A deck of infinite interpretations gives a vague answer. But Sol doesn't comment. He reminds himself that he's the last person in the world who should be so skeptical. The world is full of infinite possibilities after all.
"I'm always sure." He says, taking the offered deck. He doesn't look up at Rose as he shuffles. He too shows a familiarity with handling cards. Just not this kind.
"I have the luxury of choosing my bounties based on whatever the hell I decide to base them on." He says, very matter of factly. "When I go after a terrorist, I'm sure he could hurt people. Maybe hundreds. When I go after a rogue sorceror, I'm sure he could hurt someone. Maybe thousands. But when I go after a normal man, a seemingly insignificant man, then it's because he's already hurt someone. Even when it's just one." He looks up now, expressionless.
Sol hands the cards back. "You've been kind. I can listen. I already know how this job ends. It's the middle parts that need figuring out."
Rose sets down another card, more conventionally. "Ah! The Prince of Swords. This person you're chasing is an ideas man, isn't he? All dreams and thoughts and plans that he rarely executes - someone who is ultimately indifferent even to those ideas, seeing them as merely interchangeable parts. He is someone who you've been chasing for that reason... though I suppose when you say 'a rogue sorceror,' and I look at this, I wonder: Just how literal would that interchangeability of ideas be?"
"And the future holds..."
This is a nasty looking one. "Ah - the Nine of Swords. The temper of the inquistor. See how poisonous these blades are. It may mean that you'll encounter a man who wants to be a martyr, if only to the drama inside of his mind, but it could too be that he seeks..."
Rose looks up, from beneath the brim of her hat. "Revenge."
Sol notices the ease and comfort with which Rose works her cards. He simply listens, but a few of the things she mentions don't seem to apply. He isn't surprised though. Divination's fickle business, though.. something in what she's describing strikes him as oddly familiar.
He furrows his brow a bit. For a moment a different possibility blooms inside his head and he looks again at Rose. Is she really talking about his bounty? Or..
Sol dismisses the thought. Of course she is. She's just drawing cards and describing their possibilities. You can't look too deeply into these kinds of things. But that last part he can relate to. That last part is familiar too, in a different kind of way.
"Revenge eh. That one's always a big list. You run into that a lot in my line of work. Doesn't help that I'm worth just as much dead as I am alive, but who really wants a boring life?"
"You make it sound like you're the one on the run, seeing if I was going to tell you out," Rose says, with tones of amusement. "I would be surprised if you were, but disguises have fooled me before..."
"Is the man you seek an evil man, Mr. Sol, or is he simply a criminal? I know the two overlap often, but not perfectly."
Sol smirks at the comment. "We're all running from something, aren't we." His voice doesn't raise at the end to imply a question. Simply a statement.
He looks out one of the windows, debating the question asked. "A difficult question. I can't say whether he's an evil man, only that what he did was an act of evil."
Sol leans foward and begins tracing his finger over the table in front of him. Simple shapes. "Evil enough," he continues, "That I left the bounty for the Syrian terrorist and rogue Cryo-Abjurer back home, and took a trip half way across the world," Simple shapes. "to track down an otherwise insignificant man, leaving potentially bigger problems to others."
He talks as thuough he exists outside of the world. Separate. There's a disconnect there, a distance that can be heard in his voice. He doesn't care about what the terrorist or sorceror /may/ do. He cares what's already been done. He cares about who's already been hurt. He isn't seeking revenge, but perhaps he's the implement of someone else's. Perhaps he's justice. Maybe there's no real difference.
He stops tracing.
"I appreciate the time you've shared. It was a nice distraction." He places one hand on his chest, pauses, then hovers the same hand over the table. "But time waits for no one. Not even me."
When he moves his hand, fire trickles into existance. Soft, slow, almost peaceful. It curls upwards from the table, manifesting, taking shape and form. A neck, two wings, a tail, about a foot long in total. An elemental drake. A familiar born of magic and the soul.
Sol whispers something to it, then gestures away and the tiny familiar hovers, circles once, then darts away, burning nothing along the way as though it were a Ghost.
"But if you ever find yourself back in civilization, look me up."
Log created on 21:04:38 07/29/2019 by Rose, and last modified on 00:57:19 07/30/2019.