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Scoping for ink
#11
"Right," she affirmed with a grin, since Rune seemed quite pleased with the identification - though why on earth she suddenly thought to bring it to attention now, Thalia had no idea. She opened her hand to take the sketchbook back, and settled it on her lap. Glancing down idly, the tips of her hair tickling her hands, it was about then she realised she’d drawn the tree leafless. Dead, which hadn’t been what she’d intended at all. Bright and colourful and full in bloom, that had been the picture in her mind’s eye; deep in contrast to the black ring of the snake. It wasn’t the first time that sort of darkness had crept into her work of late, completely unintentionally. Subconsciously. It was troubling, and she chose to ignore it.

"I reckon a sleeve would suit you," she said, adding a few more notes to the page. Her gaze drew back up, only to distractedly follow Rune’s grin and gestured indication of the man hanging about the café. He wasn’t difficult to differentiate from the touristy crowds still milling about the street; mostly because he was lounging against a wall, but also because he was making little secret of his interest in them. The pipe he held was terribly old-fashioned, which was curious, and she didn’t think she’d ever seen a grown man wearing dungarees, though these looked like maybe they were working clothes. He certainly had the arms for a labourer. How long had he been staring at them? It wasn’t the sort of thing Thalia was inclined to spot – might not have done at all, if it hadn’t been pointed out. Arbatskaya was full of odds and sods; you couldn’t notice all of them.

She tipped an indifferent shoulder to Rune, since she neither knew nor recognised him. If he was an opportunist – and Old Arbat drew plenty of those – then he was making an awfully bad job of remaining inconspicuous. And if it was a creepy mind game, he’d probably bitten off more than he could chew with Rune -- and that was where her theorising ended, as her thoughts caught up on something else. "Badass pretty!" She laughed at the expression, or perhaps at how prim her accent made it sound. "I like that. You sure you want it on your wrist? I could do something awesome with dragons and flowers."

Extermination; she hadn't imagined that for an answer, but she supposed with hair and make-up like that Rune wouldn't have a regular desk job. It wasn't much in the way of enlightening inspiration, as she'd hoped; not unless Rune wanted to incorporate rats and roaches into her badass pretty. Thalia, at least, would much prefer the flowers. Her pencil had begun moving again, though now she was just sketching various serpentine heads and tongues while she thought. "Oh, just the art-stuff these days. Used to work here, actually."
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimedathalialethebanner.jpg]
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#12
He had been noticed, but they seem dis-inclined to break the ice. With a crooked smile and his Irish brogue still coming threw the steps over. "G'day ladies, I apologist for the "stalker" composer" I was unsure about interrupting 2 such beautiful but different women. My name is Manix Lir', recently from the isle of man, now of Moscow. If I may, I would like to buy you both dinner" He gave the gentleman in the back a serious nod, so it was understood he was invited as well. "I think maybe the 3 of us may be able to help each other. I have some work that needs done, and you each fit into 2 different projects of mine, so how about it? again he used his best charming, crooked smile.
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#13
((Ooc: Oh noes! we posted at the same time!!! Universe ripping apart!! AAHHH.... oh okay i'll just edit this part. Sowwy!))

"Dragons and flowers huh?" Her question was thoughtful, and Rune started drumming the rim of the paper cup, which of course reminded her it was there at all and she took a long sip. It was awful coffee, and she wished for a good old fashioned gas-station drip. Overly burnt and black as the devil's heart, that was the only way to drink coffee. Or iced. Iced coffee was really good too.

She set the cup aside and very gently licked droplets from her lips so as to not disturb the cherry red gloss. The current application had to last because she'd left the tube back at the hotel. Priorities. A girl couldn't carry everything.

"Doesn't have to be the wrist. Anywhere on the forearm would work really. That's all i really care about."

But before she could carry on, mumbled cursing erupted inside the cafe and Rune glanced over her shoulder to witness the gruff owner going off on somebody else again. "They must have ordered iced tea," Rune smirked then shook her head. "Sorry you had to work here. I'd never trade places with yah, not for all the free coffee in the world."

She ended up leaning forward a bit, peering down at the sketches Thalia was making. As best of them as what she could see anyway. Thalia really was good. And the dead tree was actually really awesome. "That's really cool," she pointed it out, "Any way to incorporate that? I know its leafless but that doesn't mean its not pretty." She nodded, eyes widened like if anyone understood what she meant, Thalia would.

"Violets..." she added somberly. Almost reserved, before she realized it, and changed her face around to be herself again. "Could you do something with violets? Maybe growing around the tree? My mom. Her name was Violet. She died when I was born."

So lost in thought, Rune hadn't noticed the stranger push off from his spot on the wall and come forward until he was almost right at their table. Which was really bad. Seth would kill her for being so aloof.

Rune's dark-rimmed eyes stared up at the stranger, whom in her mind seemed to have picked the absolute worst time to interrupt. Men had awful timing. But she heard him out, even if her posture while doing so subtly shifted so that she was aimed another direction, placing the bulk of the table in between them, and ready to leap out of harm's way if need-be. It wasn't overtly offensive, just a girl staying on her toes.

"I'm sorry, sir. But we're not hookers. You must have gotten the wrong impression." She blinked, straight faced, then glanced at Thalia. "Wait. Unless you are? I'm definitely not." It was a situation she'd had to deal with in the past.


Edited by Rune Marx, Jul 22 2013, 03:28 PM.
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#14
He just stared for a moment before bursting into laughter. The street grew quite as if the entire neighborhood had never heard laughter before. He saw the young artist face turn even more pale, and it just drove the laughter on even harder. After finally gaining some composer. " Aye Lass thank you for that, I haven't laughed that hard in a long while" chuckles were still breaking threw. "I've spent my life on the sea and I am not very good with social grace or etiquette. I assure you I have been to ports all around this forsaken planet, or whats left of it and neither of you strike me as hookers." bowing to the ladies "The offer for work was genuine and if your interested this is where you can find me." he hands his card to gruff looking man in the back who looked like he was about to stroke. "Now my wee lasses I will no longer disturb you, since you have the means to find me. My home is not quite ready yet, but your welcome at anytime, I shall inform my people to expect you."

turning to leave he was still chuckling.
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#15
“Alek’s not so bad.” She shrugged, but fondness tightened the words. It was not even that she knew him particularly well; their relationship had always been part play-act and part distance, which was why it had survived so long. They each had their prescribed roles and they didn’t stray far from them; his grudging pleasantries, like she was a pest, scored under by reluctant affection; her gentle teasing of his lack of social graces, underpinned by the same. She actually knew very little about him - like, was he married, did he have kids? But it was part of why she visited so often; the acceptance of a familiar face without all the baggage of friendship. His face had never ambushed her from her sketchbooks. She was grateful for that.

“The tree?” Surprise tinged her reaction, not because the image was in any way unpleasant, but because it had been borne from the parts of her mind that felt so out of her reach. And sometimes those images… well, she wouldn’t want it to mean anything. For Rune. Shit. She stared at the page a little longer, letting the emotions fade – forcing them to fade. It’s just a tree. “Yeah, sure.” Reticence clung to the words, but only for a moment; it streamed seamlessly to deliberation of composition. She probably just looked thoughtful.

Aylin had always said she’d have made a good therapist; she had the patience for it, the calm nature that rode storms without blinking. And it tugged at her, the little minutiae encapsulating the way Rune said violet, pulling her out from darkened thoughts about dead trees. Memory was wrapped tight about that word, suffocating it, and she had the instinctive urge to smooth it out. To untangle it. Somehow. The emotion flared and snuffed in a blink, but Thalia still watched Rune afterwards, pencil still. She didn’t say she was sorry, though her upbringing urged the empty platitude; she just nodded, and repeated the word firmly. “Violets.”

Thalia didn't hear the stranger approach at all, and it broke the stillness like a thousand pieces of shattering glass. She might have jumped slightly, not really through fear so much as being genuinely startled by the interruption, and stared up curiously. It took a moment to adjust to his rich Irish accent; the words blurred in her ears until she carefully picked them apart. Stalker? A bizarre thing to admit to, but he dazzled it with confident charm and a roguish grin. Only then he came to the proposition, and what had been a vaguely inquisitive expression now fell flat.

She spared a dry look at Rune, expecting some derisive gesture of camaraderie in return. But the other woman seemed… defensive was the wrong word, because there was no challenge to her, no anger, but there was definitely a displeased edge, and its sharp side was aimed right at the Irishman. Thalia, on the other hand, had barely moved but to frown slightly. Very little phased her, and this – though it was odd, granted – barely brushed the edges. She was amused, incredulous, and maybe a touch disturbed by the sheer forwardness of his manner, but not concerned. In that regard she was effortless, content to ride the waves no matter how strange the tide. Even when Rune turned to her, and asked if she was a prostitute.

Aside from their brief conversation she knew nothing of Rune, but once she had decided she liked someone it was her nature to extend a depth of friendship that either made others uncomfortable or simply clicked into place like it had existed years. Intense and transitory formed the basis of most of Thalia’s relationships, which was perhaps why she often fell into them head-first. Offense should have burned bright at the insinuation, followed on the heels by a snapped denial. She should care what strangers thought. Instead her head tilted, lips pursed, and the look she gave only said, really? As though Rune would know exactly how to interpret that.

And then the man began laughing; proper, raucous, mad laughter. It drew a few looks; more than a few, even on the stage that was Old Arbat. Behind them Alek had approached; she could hear his sharp footsteps, or maybe just anticipated the dark cloud of his presence. Of course he’d come to see if there was trouble; usually his flat stare and gruff attitude were enough to see it off. Usually he was right.

“You need a refill?” The question seemed aimed at neither of them in particular, and a quick glance up confirmed he was looking at the Irishman despite that he spoke to her and Rune. Glaring, actually – though to his credit, the guy seemed completely unaffected by the belligerent intimidation. Except - no matter her impression of this strange man - Thalia’s lips still pressed tighter together when it was Alek he gave the card to. When had this turned into male posturing? Geeze.

She watched his formal bow, then his retreating back, not quite sure what on earth kind of whirlwind had just passed. And ready to shrug it off. Behind them, Alek made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a displeased growl as he bent to collect Thalia's empty plate and mug. “You want this?”

Huh. Simple curiosity bid her to pluck the card from his hand and scan its contents as Alek grumbled and left. Because however odd, mystery was an undeniable allure; enough to entertain the address he had left, enough to try and fathom sense from the spectacle. He was a con artist, she would guess; a charming and self-assured one. Most men would have blushed or grown defensive at the accusation of propositioning two women in broad daylight. Manix. The name had gotten lost somewhere in his lilting accent, but she remembered him saying it now. Though what he hadn't said was what the work was, or why he felt they were qualified at a glance.

She looked back at Rune, brows raised, and handed the card over so she could have a look if she wanted. A smile threatened the corners of her lips. It had been kind of funny. “Well. Welcome to Moscow.”
Edited by Thalia, Jul 23 2013, 04:52 PM.
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimedathalialethebanner.jpg]
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#16
Leaving the Vatican was something Aria didn't do alone. From the age of 16 Aria to the present, Aria had always been accompanied by someone - her father, a handler, someone always someone. It wasn't that Aria was dangerous, unless you were a monster. But her talents leaned more on the explosive side and when her task took her to the heart of a crime scene or the middle of some inexplicable place there were always emotions, and those emotions could overwhelm her. It had gotten better over the years as she learned to control it. Her father finally found it upon himself to grant her the right to be a free agent and had insisted she do it away from the Vatican. Moscow was not her first choice, but neither was it the last. Anywhere in the world was probably better than Vatican City - even Rome was better in Aria's eyes. The religious nuts drove Aria mad. They were always in the way. Every place else had to be better.

The trip into the DVII to DVI was not pleasant. It took all of Aria's strength not to wretch from the mass of people and the stench the passengers of those buses and trains gave off. Ground travel was much safer and easier for Aria. Most people looked at her weaponry with confusion and fear. She didn't care about the looks, most people avoided her. Her father told her on numerous occasions to pack them away, but Aria didn't listen. She never listened to him, by all of his accounts.

Aria watched the scenes go by trying to avoid contact with humans. A mere brush up could send Aria into a massive headache from the rush of emotions. Her pack of what little she owned sat on the seat next to her. When an elderly lady got on the bus and indicated she wanted the seat Aria tried to avoid the situation by faining sleep, but the woman picked up the rather heavy bag and heaved it across to the other seat. Aria growled at the woman and moved to the seat her belongings had been thrown. Why did she let this woman push her around? Aria growled at herself but her father's words rang in her ears, "Be careful of those you anger." Anger was by far the worst feeling one could thrust upon her senses. It was all consuming - anger was the reason for most crimes and it stank worse than three day old corpses.

Aria pulled herself into the corner seat with her bag huddled up in her lap. She pulled her ear buds up and drowned herself in the heavy beats of the 1990's. The music was old fashioned, but it was good music to drown in when Aria wanted to be left alone.

When Aria found herself at the last stop just inside of Moscow proper she was at a loss. This was the first time she was alone. It was up to her now to find her way through this massive city. The streets were busy, and Aria didn't have the faintest idea of where to go. Aria pulled the leather bound note book she kept everything in. Her entire life fit into this one leather bound book. She flipped to the address in her book of the new headquarters. That was her first stop, but how on earth did she get there. Aria chided herself on better planning in the future. She made a small note in the task section of her book. "Get a GPS!!!" She only hoped she could afford one. Why had she no thought about it?

Aria started walking. She knew she looked like a tourist, but what would you do if you hadn't been out alone before. Completely on her own for the very first time in her life. Aria was like a child in a candy shoppe. She walked all over, following the ebb of the crowd, letting it take here where it went.

The sites were amazing, but the people were full of emotions and Aria started to feel things much to closely. And at the most inopportune time a man brushed her hand and the flood of emotions overwhelmed her head and in her haste to escape people Aria ran straight into a pair of women talking at an outdoor table. Aria stood back up dusting herself off and trying not to clutch at her head all the while trying to apologize to the two innocent women. "I'm sorry. I'll be more careful."
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#17
Rune eased up a little as the man left. She watched him go until he was out of sight, but what she was watching for exactly was indeterminable. Thalia would probably chuck it up to a girl checking out a good looking guy as he walked away, and he was good-looking (and the accent.... ). Just about any other day of the week (or any other manner of talking to them) Rune would have happily carried on the conversation. It wasn't like she got to practice much when Uncle Seth was around. He was surprisingly protective for an uncle that gave his niece a pearl-handled pistol for her sixteenth birthday.

Rune plucked the card from Thalia whose dry joke prompted a little quirky smile to Rune's glossy lips. It seemed to tone down the defensiveness, and in that moment as her eyes darted across the writing, the tension in her shoulders melted, replaced by the bubbles of curiosity.

"Do you mind if I keep this?" She held the card up like a poker chip between two fingers and made to slide it into a pocket just as yet another stranger stumbled upon them.

This time Rune was on her feet instantly. Two surprises minutes apart from one another and she felt like things were going to jolt out of control any second. At least the expression sharpened to a studious mask. With her shortened hair, even the shaved fuzz across half her scalp spiked to wary, cat-like attention.

Yet she kept a hand in her pocket while the woman dusted herself off. Rune felt her fingers curl around a switchblade folded up in there and she made no move to seem to help the stranger. She simply watched her intently: the way she moved and the way she held herself. Were there similarities between her and the now disappeared Manix? Rune knew few ghouls in the world which would proposition their next dinner in the middle of a crowded daylit street, but this was Moscow. Uncle Seth warned her fiercely about this city's rumors.

But what ended up making Rune release the switchblade without ever having pulled it from her pocket, and what made her relax her posture, was the immensity of emotional scent wafting from the stranger. She was upset, frantic, and frustrated. A monster would be calmer... or more excited.

Rune backed up half a step and leaned against the wall alongside their table, wondering if it would appear like she'd meant to do that the entire time. It didn't matter though. Maybe exterminators were just jumpy... She crossed her arms and watched, the curves of her muscles rounder for the posture and was content to let Thalia do most of the talking for now.

"You feeling alright?" She called over to the stranger.


Edited by Rune Marx, Jul 24 2013, 04:22 PM.
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#18
Aria's head hurt she didn't notice anything other than trying to get through the motions of picking herself up. The sights and sounds were all a blur. In the flash of a few moments so much happened, Aria closed her eyes and pulled herself together. It was never a struggle, but today it felt like torture. Every person, every smell and emotion tugged on her fragile stomach. She fought the urge to relieve her stomach of the contents of which it held. Aria held her right hand to her stomach and pushed hard at her left temple with her left hand. It helped.

Through all of it she barely managed to hear the stranger speak to her, "Are you alright?" Aria tried to look through the pain. She held up a finger to indicate just a moment, she didn't want her silence to be taken as an insult. This city was too different to start off on the wrong foot, which she had already clearly done but letting the city overwhelm her. She could hear her father chiding her in her mind.

She quickly focused on her own self and locked everything else away. She cleared her mind and the world began to quiet. Aria gave a weak smile, "Just a migraine at the most inconvenient time." Aria's stomach felt better, but her head still pounded, it would pound for several more hours if not days if she wasn't careful.

It was probably time to actually find the Atharim Headquarters and get situated. There was plenty of time to be curious and learn the city that would become her home until reassigned. Aria pulled out the leather bound book. It was not neat and tidy, newspaper clippings stuck out of from some of the other pages. Aria was careful not to let anyone see the pages before she found the address she was looking for. She carefully unclipped it from it's place in the notebook and held it out for the women she had so rudely bumped into. "Might I trouble you with a bit of help. I need someone to point me in the right direction." The paper only contained the address of the headquarters in Moscow, it was covered with doodles of swirls and lines, and there was a distinct coffee cup ring on the paper. "Any help you can provide would be great. I'm a bit lost."
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#19
“Be my guest.” She was surprised by the request, actually … though, Rune had kind of checked the guy out as he left, so maybe not. Her eyes lit, teasing, and she laughed. Although--” If Rune did take up Manix’ offer, then Thalia wanted in on that reckless jaunt. Or at least to hear about it afterwards. It was the kind of stupidity Aylin would berate her for - to even entertain going to some strange man's home after he'd collared them in the middle of Old Arbat - but though Thalia was effusively calm by nature it didn’t mean she was always sensible. Quite the opposite, sometimes.

None of that had the chance to leave her mouth, however, because right then someone quite literally crashed into their table, and Rune was up before Thalia had time to blink. The girl was jumpy. It had only been an accident – right on the heels of a rather bizarre proposition, granted – but for a moment Rune was all hard edges and mistrust. And then Thalia noticed the hilts poking up over the woman’s shoulder, and her eyes widened a little. Swords? Not the ordinary person’s attire; Arbatskaya was pulling out all the eccentric stops today. She was one of the street performers, maybe? A circus? Are they real? Curiosity swelled in the place she should have felt fear, or at least concern, then even that dulled when confronted with the woman’s abject apology.

“It’s okay. I think the table will survive.” The woman had probably whacked herself hard on its edge - it had shuddered, and had Alek not already removed her plate and mug, the china probably would have rattled. The lilt of a smile softened Thalia’s words; the woman seemed distressed, and needlessly contrite, like she expected some recourse. Though Rune was now leaning against the wall, arms folded. Thalia wondered if it was just the proximity she didn’t like.

After a moment the woman insisted a migraine, but had pressed a fist into her belly and flattened a hand against her temple for some moments before she could even speak to answer Rune’s cautious question. Though she eventually clawed herself back together, doubt hovered on the surface of Thalia’s thoughts. It looked more serious than that; the woman had literally fallen into them, and Old Arbat street was wide enough to make that unusual - it was why Alek had sprawling outside seating. She had been hurrying, escaping - though, from what? Thalia thought briefly back to Manix, but was not cynical enough to make a connection. Even scanning the cobbled street and its milling tourists elucidated little. It was a mystery she had no answer for.

Are you okay?” The words were level, serious, and she maintained eye contact as she took the snippet of paper with the address. Moscow was a big city; one that it was easy to become lost in or overwhelmed by, but Thalia was dubious that a little disorientation was the reason this woman had been so fraught. She looked like she was in bloody pain. After a moment, though, her eyes drifted down, and she read the bit of doodle-covered paper.

“Nikolskaya Street.” Thalia shopped there from time to time; it was crammed with the kind of quirky second-hand bookshops that stocked the most intriguing and idiosyncratic historic texts and trinkets. But the woman clearly wasn’t out to browse for books. She was after nineteen Nikolskaya Street. Thalia’s brows rose briefly, though she made no comment. “It’s a little way from here. I’d guess an hour or so if you’re walking. Though Arbatskaya metro station is, what, fifteen minutes away? It’d be quicker. Line three will get you there. That's the dark blue one.” She paused. "Are you sure you don't want some water or something?"
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimedathalialethebanner.jpg]
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#20
Aria shook her head. "I'm okay." Aria removed her hand from her head. She didn't want to have someone with too much sympathy emoting everything they were feeling right next to her. "Line 3, dark blue." She wrote the snippet in the margins of another page. Writing things down helped her remember the important details. And this was rather important, Aria only hoped that the sub system trains were less clogged with people than other cities. It was a small hope.

Aria glanced down at the table she had ran into hoping nothing got broke. Aria could feel the bruise forming on her thighs were she ran into it. The table was a table, but the artwork on it caught her eye. She glanced at the two ladies and would have pulled down her shirt sleeve if she had one to cover the tattoo of her own version of the serpent biting its own tail. It wasn't anything special, her father had insisted she get the same he had and his father before him and his father and the whole legacy. Which was rather odd since he never claimed her as family. What interest did they have in the ouroboros?

"Interesting sketch. Nice lines." She wasn't really interested in the art itself more to the why they were crafting that image in particular. Was one of them Atharim? That could be bad very bad. Word gets back to her father that she got distracted and Aria bet she was on the first bus back to Vatican City to be locked in the enclaves for the rest of her life studying books and not actually getting to kill the things that go bump in the night. Aria frowned, she hoped that they weren't part of the Atharim, she didn't want to give up the job.
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