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Anywhere and Else *Me (Thestarjar) and That Guy*

lost in the sauce
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"He--no, that can't be right." Spindle used his free hand to idly sort out the contents of his dish, moving the dawnspite bits off to the edge, though he still didn't dare put anything in his mouth. "I-I mean, if he's s-so upset about the book as to want these two punished, he's--th-they've already confessed, technically. Wh-Why go to the measure of--why kill over it? A-And us, as well, not to mention!"

"So now do you guys still think we should stay put?" Theida asked, then considered for a moment. "I mean, whoever it was might come to check on us if we wait around, but... then we'd be in a room with them, sooo...?"
 
thea ante hominēs
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"If they come back, they'd expect us all to be dead, right..?" Hother turned his wand over in his paws again and again, anxiety setting in once more. "So there'll be trouble no matter what..."

Bristlecone shrugged.
"There's one of them, and four of us, and you've got your magic stick, and who knows what else that we don't know you can do. I fancy our chances."

"How do we know there'd be only one of them? And... and besides, Theida and I 'confessed', apparently, so isn't the entire village going to be against us, anyway..? Whoever has it in for us must be really skilled at manipulating..."
 
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"So we either escape, which makes us look suspicious, or we stay here, which makes us vulnerable, or... we die?" Theida said, and then quickly added, "Like--pretend to die. So they won't get a mob going against us, or whatever you mean."

"E-Even if that was at all a reasonable thing to do, I hardly--I d-don't think we can stop, uh, having pulses, at will." Spindle sorted his salad contents faster. "Or breathing."
 
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A whine wrestled its way from Hother's nose before he could restrain it.
"...So is there really nothing we can do?" He found himself pouting at the complexity and utter improbability of the situation. "Four wildly different creatures, with three different types of magic between us, and we're still just stuck like this? No options other than die, or die fighting... That's so unfair!"

He found himself punctuating that bark of frustration with a frustrated kick at the floor beneath him. The imprisonment they faced hadn't bothered him quite this much until now-- now that it was twinned with this mental, this spiritual, this complete, total, all-encompassing imprisonment.
 
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"I don't even do fighty magic," Theida said, catching the despair like a virus and lying flat on the ground. Her front leg was stretched forward, idly drawing a circle in the ground. She left an inch-wide gap in the shape and started carving inside it with whatever symbols her claw came out with by default. "I do water-the-plants magic that takes an entire minute."

Feeling partly responsible for the mess of a mood, Spindle tried, "W-Well, I doubt our would-be killer was v-very adept at 'fighty' magic, either, or fighting in general, g-given their method of choice was, um, poison. A-And if it is La--someone from around here, w-which it should be, then, well... Potions are also n-not ideal for..." he squints into nothingness. "I mean... I-I suppose one could make something dangerous if they really--if they tried, but that's, um, it's," he shakes his head, "u-unlikely? I hope? I'm sorry, I-I've lost my train of encouraging thought."
 
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A gentle, reptilian hand made its presence known on Spindle's head, offering an affirming stroke.
"Naw, that makes total sense. We can figure a way out of this." With his other hand, Bristlecone idly shifted his glasses forth, and back again. "Sure, things're bad for us right now, but... they could be so much worse. We'll make it through."
 
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Spindle relaxed into the motion. "Yes... Certainly," he said mildly, surveying the scene. Their former guests were hopeless, and even Bristlecone, usually so certain in his actions, wasn't taking action. "Th-there's been an attempt--an attempt on our lives. Just s-sitting and moping about won't save us." He moved his plate to the side and stood, stepping out beside Bristlecone and putting a hand on his shoulder. "And d-dawnspite would have us showing symptoms b-by... well, by Sweetgum's next check-in, s-so we've got about as long before our would-be k-killer knows something is wrong."

Spindle's foot tapped until the rest of his leg caught the motion, and he paced around Bristlecone. He paused again at his own plate on the floor and stared at it for a moment. "Th-this could--I think we could rearrange this i-into a sleep potion, f-for... Sweetgum, I suppose, or anyone else with the mind to stop us." He frowned and looked at Bristlecone. "I-If we had the means, anyhow."
 
thea ante hominēs
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"Sounds like you're planning something clever." The alligator afforded himself a smirk. His partner's determination was both infectious and endearing. "...But, at the bare minimum, we'd need a base liquid, something to hold it in, and something to heat it with, and I highly doubt Sweetgum would just give us anything like that."

Hother felt his ears perk up before he even realised why.
"But... she already did! --I think." He half-committed to holding up his wand, unsure of whether to present it, or simply contemplate it further. "...Does 'water-the-plants magic' count as a base... whatever?"
 
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Spindle smiled as the room got livelier with this new idea. "Water m-makes for a perfect neutral base!"

"I usually put it directly in the ground." Theida rolled over and stood up. She started flicking lines into the circle with more intent, and erasing others. "But I think I could make it appear higher up? As long as there's something to catch it..." She thought a moment. "Heat's easy, though. I can just make a rune that's hot. We use 'em for cooking."

"Excellent. A-And as for the container...?" Spindle looked back at Hother expectantly.
 
thea ante hominēs
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"Uhh..?" His tail flicked back and forth as he ran through a mental list of anything-- any spell at all-- that might be of use. "...Is levitation okay? It'd be like holding it in a bowl, but with no bowl... but just as much holding?"

Bristlecone made a conscious effort to restrain his smile, acutely aware that their guests seemed to have an iota or two of trepidation about the number of teeth he bore, and channelled that urge into a decisive nod.
"If it stops 'em from going everywhere, that'll probably be fine."
 
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Theida finished adjusting her circle, leaving the inch gap in the outer ring, and moved on to drawing another one about a foot away. "That should do water, when you're ready," she said, flicking her tail at the first one, "Aaaand this'll heat up whatever's above it, once it's active."

"Lovely," Spindle said, and squatted down at the plates, pulling them all together. "I-I'll get to sorting out ingredients--a-and removing all traces of poison, of course--so, dear, c-could you prepare the base?"
 
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"G'eheh..." The alligator's smile was sincere, and, this time, impossible to suppress. He extended his foot towards Theida's first circle, aiming to fill in that last inch. "So, what, do I just..?"

As the circle was completed, the runes Theida had carved out flickered with a bluish light, which gathered in the space above the circle, as promised. Steadily, the light morphed elegantly into a shapeless mass of water, which Hother took as his cue to wave that wand of his in a neat circle, with a finishing flourish that somewhat resembled drawing a bisected ring in the air with the tip.
"Cruinnich." The noise left his mouth with an almost uncharacteristic amount of certainty and authority; and, in non-sentient obedience, a second beam of light emerged from his wand, encapsulating the water and fastening it where it hovered, the mass shifting only a little in response to Hother's arm, as if directly tethered to the tip of his wand.

Bristlecone blinked, impressed by the brief display, then nodded his approval. Evidently, moving the potion over to the heating-circle wouldn't be an issue.
"...Okay, yes, that'll do fine." He proceeded to bow his head and offer something incomprehensible that might have been a brief prayer-- probably addressing nature itself, if his parlance thus far was any gauge for judgement-- and offered a half-wave of his own at the liquid. "All set, my li'l rosebud..."
 
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Theida spun as Bristlecone completed the circle, seeing the water form without her own activation. "Did you just--?" But her question was quickly swept away by her next sight. She stared in awe as Hother's magic scooped up the water. "Whoa."

Spindle's smile grew warmer and wider at the pet name. He raised one of the plates up to Bristlecone. "Th-this is just about all the basil and mint. Enough to--to get started, I think. Just another minute for the rest; I-I'm being extra careful of the--you know."

With the careful tip of one claw, Theida completed her second circle and quickly withdrew from it. The lines came alive with a warmer, reddish glow, and it stayed steadily in place this time. "Heat's on. Uh... Don't touch it," she added hesitantly. On the one hand, saying it felt patronizing, taking to them like she would a young child. On the other, apparently none of them had ever seen a rune before, so they were less likely to get offended about it.
 
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thea ante hominēs
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"Right, right..." The reptile's acknowledgement seemed targeted at everyone involved as he took the plate. "Thank you kindly."

With some care, and all the expertise of someone clearly well-versed in the craft, he added small amounts of the mint and basil, stirring them in a small figure-eight with one claw, then motioned for Hother to move the incumbent concoction across to the heated runes, which he obliged without a word. As the mixture began to heat up, Bristlecone scraped the rest of the ingredients into the water, and stirred it with a little more force, though more slowly to compensate, with the plate.

"If there are any traces of the dawnspite still on there," he asided, reasoning that he at least owed some kind of explanation, in return for Theida's own words of caution, "then that ain't a problem. We've got this under control, right, partner?"
 
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Spindle finished sorting out the ingredients, with the dark green bits of dawnspite all gathered in one of the four dishes, which he sets to the side. They seemed well-sorted, but given how small the pieces were and how easy it must have been to miss something, it gave Theida no small amount of relief to hear Bristlecone and Spindle's next exchange. "R-Right--Of course," Spindle said, taking up the other two plates of sorted-out, non-deadly leaves and holding them up for Bristlecone's convenience. "We--We aren't making a deadly potion, s-so... It won't be."

"What?" Theida was midway through clawing her original water rune into something unrecognizable. She swept at the dirt with the end of her tail until it evened out. "What, you decide that poison isn't poisonous?"

"Not decide." Spindle glances at Bristlecone as though searching his face for a better explanation. "More like... command?"
 
thea ante hominēs
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"We know what we're aiming to do with this potion." He inclined his head as he explained, the effortlessness with which he continued to add to and stir the mixture making his thought process look like a Herculean task by comparison. "If any dawnspite does get in there, it'll just work with the other ingredients to give it an extra kick, but we're not going for all-out poison, so... It won't be poison."

"I... think I get it?" Hother pouted in thought of his own. "Like, when us dogs cast spells, you have to feel the spell, too. Anyone could pick up a stick and wave it around and say old words, but without knowing what or how or why, it won't do anything."
 
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"Huh," Theida said. "...Yeah, I guess that's sorta how runes work, too. I mean, I copied other people's runes when I was a kid sometimes, but those never activated. It only works if you know what you're writing, which is why I can only... Yeah."

"We ought to wr-write that down." Spindle kept watch of Bristlecone's process, easily moving and twisting the plates to offer whatever ingredient was needed next. "Well. When--When we find the book."
 
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"And it will be found," Bristlecone added, his work flowing gracefully, in perfect rhythm with both the potion and Spindle's assistance. "I am not about to have my darling husband's name dragged through the mud like this."

He caught himself, hesitating for just a moment before refocusing on his stirring.
"...Sorry, was'at too forward of me?"
 
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Spindle fumbled with the plates for a moment, startled, before he managed to key back into their rhythm. "Forward? Sweetheart, never. I-I'm--I'm glad you're so confident about it, I-I'd--Well, goodness knows I feel the same. I j-just hope th-this doesn't get to any, er, further extremes."

Theida examined the idea of "further extremes" than incapacitating a guard and escaping prison, and none of it was very appealing. This was all already so much more than she ever thought would happen when she left home. She considered flashing a look at Hother, but she decided against it, not knowing what might distract him from that stick-magic. Feeling useless and restless, she just stared at her rune beneath the floating ingredients, tracing the lines with her eyes as though worried that one might suddenly blink out (though, in her experience, that wasn't a thing at all).
 
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"Heheh... heh..." His attempts at covering up a sigh of apprehension were less than subtle. "Well, this is getting there. Whatever we're in for, we're in too deep now... and I've got your back through all of it."

He half-nodded towards their guests, without breaking eye-contact with his work.
"That goes for you two, too-- but in a platonic way, obviously."
 
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