Apr 07, 2020 10:42 PM
"what if gardening were syexy" Jamie falls on the "what if farming were ominously romanticized" setting
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They nod and start heading down the corridor they didn't come from the last time they were here.

They keep on leading the way, occasionally having to stop and puzzle out which path they should take next, occasionally hearing something and backtracking at a swift but reasonable pace, and once or twice, when a sudden noise loud and close enough that Jamie can hear it too happens, flinching sharply and taking a few shallow breaths before continuing on in the same direction and acting mostly as if it hadn't happened.

They come to a stairwell and go up four or five flights, where the decor switches from rough stone and torches to marble and carpets and natural lighting coming in through sheer purple curtains.  Everything's colored like it's night time, but it's not actually particularly dark; even someone with completely unaugmented vision would be able to navigate just fine, and probably even read normal-sized print.

After a few minutes of walking on this floor, the stranger turns a corner onto a balcony and, without ceremony, jumps off it.

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Jamie has slightly enhanced vision, and not the kind that bothers behaving consistently; he doesn’t parse the lighting as particularly remarkable.

The aftereffects of gravity grapes and kitty carnation tea don’t quite suffice for arbitrary falls, but he can still manage a balcony.

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The stranger is frowning at the moon - that's oddly featureful for a moon, and maybe too big for one too - the stranger is frowning at some prominent celestial body; once Jamie lands, they turn to him and sigh.

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Jamie isn’t really in a great mood either. 

Does stranger mcstrangerson - the third - show any inclination towards... walking in a direction?

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Not really; they seem to expect him to have some sort of plan.  But when it becomes clear that he doesn't, they start walking around the perimeter of the building until they find a semi-secluded nook with some sort of tall, grassy plant covering the ground.  They gesture to the corner and shrug at Jamie.

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Sigh.

... that tall grassy plant is going to grow a puzzlingly kaleidoscopic blue grape, over the course of about twenty five seconds.

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...Intrigued stranger.

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He plucks it off the branch, delicately, and eats it.

His lips gradually fade from their ordinary, pleasant sort of pink, to a startling shade of blue.

He speaks, carefully, fluently, in whichever language insert-name-here expects to be spoken to in.

“Jamie Fragola, from the Land of Wine. Comprehension effect. Lasts hundred uninterrupted words, only once daily. Dropped near you by magic accident, in castle; heard, saw, rescued. Third circle witch, low experience. Mate at home, fucking asshole, power may stop any time. Don’t know where this, why this, how, how close home, how safe. Can grow fruit for indefinite language knowledge given eight hours, or use time as needed. Already have goblin agility, wall walk, darkness, evasion, other minor. Will understand hundred words of reply, then stop. Speak situation, means to reach safety, your powers, location, threat type, time, other?”

(His lips return to their ordinary color.)

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"Lane, Alyssdianth village, Santhem.  Missing context, expect different worlds.  Previous translation attempt failed; unsure why.  Glitchy magic from transformation?  Not work extradimensional visitors?  In seven and third hours, near portal opens, stays several hours; go through, Santhem much safer.  Combat magic currently insufficient; big danger if noticed, captured: queen's mind slave, death.  Avoidable unless unlucky, glitch.  Create magic hiding place: invisible, inaudible - here, elsewhere?  Threats: patrolling beasts, my effects from partial transformation.  Rescue probably unnoticed yet, patrols light now, heavier near portal.  Can normally boost plant growth; unsure if yours; start indefinite comprehension anyway; communication helpful before Santhem.  ....Rescue: thanks."

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Jamie nods.

A small sprout... sprouts... out of a nearby patch of ground, and starts to - almost inaudibly - babble to itself, in tongues unrecognizable.

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The stranger - Lane, apparently - does a more extended, two-armed hand dance which produces a sphere of glowy stuff that expands to a radius of about six feet, the bottom third of which intersects the ground, then schwoops back into a manageable size and deposits itself back within them.  The corner looks no different than before, except that Jamie's plant is missing (and now entirely inaudible).  Lane walks into the area the sphere filled and disappears as they do so.

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Is this latest act of magical derring-do going to work? Will our brave heroes succeed in their quest, or will their stars shine no more upon the porchlights and petunias of sunset avenue? Find out by tuning in tonight, live, to the new and improved PBS Kids network, featuring the amazing mister - oh whatever.

Jamie takes three steps forward, into the obfuscated area.

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This seems to work; he sees his leg disappear as it crosses the threshold ahead of the rest of him and the associated footstep into the tall grass is silent.

Inside, the outside world is still visible through a semi-transparent orange shell, swirling gently with more yellow and more red variations on the color, and he can hear his plant again.  Lane's watching him to make sure he gets in okay and starts to lay down, curling up facing away from him, once they see that he has.

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Jamie sits down and stares through the shell.

The plant grows; dozens of flowers bloom over the next few hours, speaking without mouths in strange synchronicity and cacophony, and some of them start to periodically murmur perfectly comprehensible snippets amongst all the incomprehensible blather.

"He really does adore you, you know, and don't you adore him? It's not like many other people have been all that interesting -"

"My lovely, I really have no idea whatsoever why the carriages are pumpkins. It's certainly a choice. Would you quite mind moving over here? I have an idea for how we might -"

"I'm, um, starting to get a sense of why mate-magic thought that they might be compatible -"

"My love -"

"My love -"

 

(Jamie doesn't react; they aren't comprehensible to him.)

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(It's kind of ridiculously pretty outside the shell, especially the sky; there are more and more-aesthetic stars than he's used to.)

 

Jamie's plant acquires a second, smaller bubble, and then an additional glowy ball that from context is probably an attempted growth boost; it's not immediately clear whether it has any effect.  The larger bubble acquires a slightly more pensive Lane.

Lane acquires a deck of cards from an inner pocket of their vest, sorts two suits out of it and puts the rest aside, and attempts, by way of playing both sides and a lot of gesturing, to teach Jamie a very simple card game.

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Jamie finds the sky interestingly foreign and otherwise entertains himself with unusually literal mental gymnastics.

 

... sure. He’s not sure how this person retained a pack of cards throughout this whole process, but... sure? 

Jamie has a perfect poker face and a reasonably refined sense of mathematics, and accordingly tends to win, when playing Bamboo Bazooka and Zucchini Zucchini Squash and other such card games. His performance in a charade conveyed game of chance might still be less than stellar. Oh well.

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Once Jamie seems to have the hang of it, Lane adds in another two suits and things get a bit more interesting; once Jamie's mastered that they add the last two and it turns into an actually reasonably complex and fun card game, all things considered.

Outside, it gradually grows actually dark instead of just looking like it, but the bubble seems to handle its own internal lighting.  At one point, some sort of wolflike bipedal creature lumbers by in the distance and Lane grabs Jamie's hand worriedly as they watch it pass.

(It seems that Lane both apparently has claws and is not factoring in this piece of information as a criterion for determining how hard they should be clutching at him.)

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Some of Jamie’s blood becomes external. 

Jamie has fairly strong preferences about the location of his blood! He hisses.

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Lane jumps and scrambles backwards to the other side of the bubble, bumping against the inside of the shell.  Frozen there, they notice the blood on Jamie's hand and become a different shade of confused and alarmed; in looking around for the source they notice the blood on their hand and exude yet a third.

They stretch and close their hand in a slow fidget and - oh.  Claws?  What.

They spend a moment positioning their hand in different ways and watching the claws extend and retract, then look back up to Jamie and say what, from context and tone, can pretty much only be "Sorry.  Sorry sorry sorry."  As an explanatory afterthought, they add what he might or might not recognize as "....Transformation."

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Jamie does not in fact recognize that word - Blueberries of Babel are traditionally used to exchange basic vocabulary, but he had a few other things on his mind at the time - but he gets the gist. 

The gibberish gorse temporarily ceases growing; a small succulent with an unusually autumnal color scheme starts slowly sprouting near the base of it.

”It’s fine.”

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Lane nods, scooches back over to where they were previously sitting, and tentatively makes another glowy for Jamie to poke.

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Will this one work? Probably not! Let’s find out.

Poke.

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It sure doesn't.  Still doesn't feel like anything, either, when it bursts out like a spray of water droplets.  Lane doesn't seem deterred or for that matter surprised; they present him with another, slightly blobbier, one, sandwiched between their palms.

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Poke poke.

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This one does feel like something!  It gloms onto his hand, all smooth and warm and cool in different places, and does not explode.  Quickly enough, the area around his wounds becomes distractingly tingly, more attention-grabbing than the pain.

Lane seems to be concentrating pretty hard, but there's a note of satisfaction adorning their face.

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