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Thread Contributor: Oryn VanceThe best secret hideouts are really secret
Harry Potter-Main Universe

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#1
In the central part of the Hub, there was a small store. The store sold... well, Oryn wasn't really sure what it sold, he hadn't ever been in there. It wasn't a grocer, and it didn't have any reagents he needed for his own work, and that was really all of the attention that he paid to it. Well... actually, that wasn't necessarily true, he also paid attention to the dimensions of the building and how much business it got. It had a fair amount of business, it seemed to easily stay in business, but it wasn't doing so well that it would think of expanding, and that was all that Oryn cared about. You see... this store's building had a second floor that it didn't even know was there.

Oryn could see it, yes. Those who knew it was there could, as well. TO the rest of the people, though, there was the store, and then there was the sky. The floor between the store and the roof? Well, it simply wasn't there as far as they were concerned.

Today, Oryn was in his study, putting the finishing touches on a potion that he would set to its final simmer today. Stirring finished, he turned the heat up on it, watching as the yellow liquid began to slowly take on a golden sheen. yes, this was going to be a good batch. His new partner in crime might even be back today, if she'd had enough time to get the lay of the land. It would be a pleasant change, he supposed. He was finding himself eager to see the pink-skinned elf again, but he knew better than to try to put a leash on a woman like that.
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Dungeons & Dragons-Forgotten Realms

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#2
This place that Oryn Vance had brought her to was… Incredible. There were so many sorts of people, and she could feel the hum of magic in the air here, it was thick, palpable. No wonder he had chosen to make this place his home; this place gave him access to so much, so many resources, and knowledge, and people…

Sigil. This had to be, even if it didn’t quite look the way that the stories described it. Perhaps everyone experienced the place differently, or perhaps something had changed recently. Torynn wasn’t really certain, but this city had far too much in common with the fabled city amongst the planes to ignore. Be this place Sigil or something merely very close to that city, Torynn liked it here. There was open sky to fly in, and fly she did, swooping and twisting with aerial acrobatics, laughing happily the entire time.

Finally, she tucked into a neat roll and flew into the second story of the building that was Oryn’s home with a silently duck, her wings folding in neatly against her back as she entered through an open window. Once she had landed easily, she shifted her wings to keep them comfortable, her tail curling behind her as she gave him a smile. She didn’t disturb any of his things, used to taking care with alchemical creations of her own. “This place,” she spoke of the city at large, “Is it the city called Sigil, then? I had been told of the legends of the city, after all, though the legends say that it curls in over itself,” she gestured with her hands to indicate a hollow doughnut shape, “And yet, this city has a sky overhead. I flew as high as I wished, and could not see the other side of the city above me.”
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#3
”Felixempra,” Oryn murmured as he waved his wand over the cauldron in a delicate looping patern. The potion gave a final shimmering ripple and Oryn, satisfied, turned off the heat under it to let it cool before turning around to where Torynn had waited with particular patience. “Ah, welcome back my dear,” he said, standing and giving her a courtly bow. “It’s good to see that you haven’t ruled me inconsequential in your future pursuits here yet,” he added, only half-teasing. The woman deciding that she didn’t need the wizard had been a reasonable chance, after all.

He considered her question as he walked across the study to the shelf behind his desk which held a small locked liquor cabinet. The cabinet unlocked with a flick of his wand, and Oryn opened it, perusing the limited selection he kept in the study. “What do you like to drink?” he asked as he poured himself a glass of firewhisky. “And I can’t say that I’ve heard of that name before. Those who live here call the place the Hub, and I’ve never heard of them referring to it in any other terms. There don’t appear to be any other localities in the place, unless you count the ever-shifting echoes of the many worlds that touch the place, and I don’t believe anyone counts them.”

Returning to where Torynn was, he gestured to one of the high-backed chairs by the fireplace. “Please, have a seat. There’s nothing quite like sitting enthroned in front of a fire with a drink while discussing the fate of the worlds, I’ve found.” And, not surprisingly, Oryn took a seat in his favorite chair, relaxing into it like the throne that it apparently was. “And I say that without any real feeling of exaggeration. This is the one place where I believe that any endeavor can be launched from and succeed. I take it that you approve of the setting?”
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Dungeons & Dragons-Forgotten Realms

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#4
It had been a long time since she had had someone around who would be happy to see her after being apart for any length of time. It was...strange, but it was a nice sort of strangeness, reminding her of her adventuring days with Ivellious and Whitefyre. And at the same time, Oryn was nothing like either of those friends; where he brought her to this new place and let her go free, her more religious minded friends had sought to ask her to behave herself, as though she were going to run off and do something horribly bad or draw attention to herself. She had never walked into a town with her wings and tail, had she? No, but they had always seemed so worried that she would. Bah. Oryn, however, seemed happy to let her do whatever she wanted.

He hadn’t even messaged her asking when she’d return.

Wasn’t that a relief? Indeed it was! She grinned at him, “Why thank you.” With a laugh, she waved her hand at him, “Oh please, Master Vance, you’re worrying too much. You’re more interesting than that.”

Where they were, however, was one of those things she’d like to have a better grasp on. The inhabitants here didn’t really seem to have a definite idea of where ‘here’ was. It was possible that the wizard, from elsewhere and having found this place, might have a better idea. And it was every bit as possible that she’d simply been speaking to the wrong people. To drink? A slow smile stretched her lips, “If you have an elven wine… I haven’t had any in ages. Otherwise, I’ve no real preference.” Only called Hub. Interesting. “This must be a similar place to Sigil then, but not actually be Sigil.” It made a certain amount of sense, really; there had to be more than one city in order to accommodate everyone. “Hm. Interesting. I wonder if there is a limit to the number of worlds this place can offer access to, or no.”

She sat when he mentioned sitting and smiled, tipping her head as she watched him take his seat, “There are few things that manage to be more enjoyable than a good drink, a comfortable chair, and a warm fire all at once. The topic hardly matters so long as it is interesting.” She made herself comfortable, her wings simply disappearing as she shifted back against the chair, changing her form to match her environment, just enough that she were comfortable. Her tail, prehensile as it was, stayed. While she loved to fly, wings could become arduous and cumbersome, but her tail… Her tail was always useful. “Indeed I do. But I do enjoy my creature comforts. So, what endeavors shall we discuss today, Oryn?”
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#5
While he was a social creature, there were very few people who valued their privacy as much as Oryn. To him, the perfect partner was one who was not inclined to badger him with questions or requests for explanations. This had, in turn, turned into a habit of valuing those moments when those he was working with pursued their own pursuits without needing his supervision or input. Torynn, he suspected, was delightfully independent, probably as much as he was.

“Elven wine?” he said, raising an eyebrow, his eyes drifting to her ears for just a moment. “Well, I do have elf-made wine,” he said, reaching for a bottle, “But I sincerely doubt that it’s the same as that on your world. Elves on my world are quite different than you.” Nevertheless, he poured her a glass of what he did have. Who knew, maybe she’d like the elf-made wine of his world, maybe it was something close. He had no idea how house-elves made such good wine, after all. He had his own questions about this ‘Sigil’ place, but was distracted by her question. “I have no proof, this is purely conjecture, but I think not. Distance appears to be entirely mutable in this place, which leads me to believe that it’s a series of intersecting planes, each at a slightly different… hm, I suppose ‘angle’ is a reasonable enough word to use, all radiating out from this one central location. In theory, however this is being accomplished, you can always fit one more plane between two others.” He took a sip of his firewhiskey, letting that sink in for a moment. “Of course, practice might include variables that aren’t obvious to us, so again… just conjecture.”

Oryn relaxed in the chair, his favorite, which was in truth more comfortable than the other, though not obviously so to a stranger. He peered over the rim of his glass at the lovely girl across from him, studying her with an intelligent interest, noting both her obvious charms and the questions that were raised in his mind. “Really, I thought it best if we use the opportunity to learn what we need about each other first. As I’m sure you’ve been able to see, your world is quite different than mine. I don’t really know what to make of you in many ways. I know you aren’t human, obviously, but aside from that?” He shrugged. “I’m considered one of the more intelligent people in my world, but I’m sure that I lack some of the most basic knowledge those on your world know which might lead people there to believe I’m a dullard.” And, likewise, she was going to need to know things about his world and similar worlds if they were going to proceed, but he didn’t need to belabor that point.
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Dungeons & Dragons-Forgotten Realms

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#6
Having friends, as in people who could be relied on, who would notice if she were suddenly gone, was a new experience for Torynn. She had, for the first part of her life, the longest part of her life, been mostly on her own, expected to succeed or fail for herself, taught, but not looked after. She had learned how to cast by watching her tutor, and she had been expected to keep up, expected to spend her time practicing, and to seek out answers to her questions on her own. And she had been far more successful than someone who hadn’t been thrown into learning in such a way might have thought possible. As such, she was as Oryn saw her; wildly independent, but happy to have someone she could return to, even if she understood that it was possible that he might have some project or adventure of his own going on.

When she returned to his home, curiosity and need to explore sated, she was rewarded with his attention, and wasn’t that always nice to know she could have? It was. She could respect the wizard; he didn’t require her presence, but he could appreciate it. “I’m not an elf.” There was something just a little bit flat in her tone when she spoke the simple sentence. It wasn’t quite an unkind tone, but something in it made it sound like perhaps, in some way, the words themselves were. “Elves in my world are quite different than I am, Master Vance. They do not have wings and tails and such things. They are… Less than I am.” There was no haughtiness, either, though it was evident that she honestly believed what she said. “I would be happy to partake of your elf-made wine, and I shall see if there is a place within this fine city that sells the sort of wine I mean so you can try it.” Her smile was knowing, and bemused.

Sigil was famed by those knowledgeable about the arcane and planes. A beautiful city that curved in and over itself and connected all of the planes. And yet, this Hub was so much more than Sigil was described to be. “I believe you are right. I have not heard anyone speak of that fabulous city, either. And this one seems to connect to more places than I have ever heard tell of Sigil.” She considered the ramifications of that, “Naturally. But educated guesswork is always better than stubborn ignorance.”

The scrutiny of the wizard was nothing new, and nothing that made Torynn uncomfortable. It wasn’t the murderous gaze of an elf, the indifference of other Fey’ri, or the disdain of demons, at least. It was the curiosity of those who sought knowledge, and that was far more acceptable than of the others. Learn about each other. She smiled at his admission of knowing little about her world, and shrugged, “We know precious little about each other’s worlds. There’s nothing shameful in that, Oryn. I’m not human, nor am I elf or any of the other more common races. I am Fey’ri. My mother was an elven noble, my father an incubus. My world is called Toril.” Her tail curled around the arm of the chair she sat upon as she motioned to him, “You are human, and a wizard, though which specialty you have chosen eludes me. Most certainly not a dullard, just perhaps a planeswalker that is very far from home. What of your world, Oryn? You say your elves are..different," she shifted in her seat, her tail disappearing, her skin taking on a fairer hue, eyes remaining the vibrant emerald green, her features still angular, her ears still longer and coming to a point, every bit an elf of Toril, "This is what elves from my world look like, or at least some of them - there are different types with different features. What of yours?" She let the facade fade, her tail once again curled around the arm of the chair she occupied as she looked to him for his answer.
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Harry Potter-Main Universe

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#7
Oryn, the lovely half-demoness would learn, was a very good listener. He didn’t interrupt her, he didn’t interject foolish little remarks, he let her get out everything that she considered pertinent before he spoke up again. “I assume that when you say ‘incubus,’ you mean it literally instead of speaking out of superstition or metaphor. It’s a bit of folklore on my world, but nothing, as far as I’ve been able to determine, that has ever actually been seen there. That appears to be one of the major differences I’ve found between the magic of your world and mine. Yours quite often draws power from other planes, other creatures of great power, while mine does not. I’ve found that I’m able to do it if I try, though I’ve only made a few minor attempts thus far, and I haven’t tried it in my world.” He sipped his whiskey, considering the rest of what she’d said, processing what he now knew of her background and the implications it had on her life. If demons really were a thing in her world, and one of them was her parent… well, he knew quite a lot of people who would have had a problem with her in his world had that situation come up, he supposed.

“My world’s magic is limited to those born with the talent for it, though I use the world ‘talent’ loosely here. Being born able to use it is not remotely the same as being innately skillful with it, after all. We don’t have demons, and the existence of gods is quite up for debate. There are no planes of fire or air or shadow or what have you, so we’ve not had access to the energies of those places for our magic. I believe…” He paused, “That I am risking moving into a rather long-winded lecture on the nature of the planes and the worlds that use them, and so I am going to make a very sharp shift in the topic to answer your next question. Accio,” he said, lifting his wand and waving it toward the opposite wall. A book slid out, gliding across the room toward him, hovering in the air while he found the proper page. “There,” he said, turning the book around and sending it gliding across to her. “Hardly any resemblance at all, really, to the elves of your world, as you see. They’re considered a servant race because… well, because quite frankly, they thrive on serving. This means that many take them for granted, which is rather foolish, because what is rarely noticed is that they’re extremely powerful creatures.”
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#8
Being able to listen well was a rather uncommon trait. Most people who would label themselves as such were simply capable of remaining silent while someone else spoke; that didn't mean they actually listened. Still, the fact that he asked a relevant question, she smiled at the fact that the wizard had listened. And quietly even! “When I say 'Incubus' I mean a demon; a male demon much like a succubus, yes." She nodded almost to herself as she continued, not completely surprised that his world didn’t know them, "They are not native to our plane, but they can be summoned, and are more often than you might think.” The news that his magic did not pull from the other planes was surprising, though. “Where does your magic pull from, then? Clerics on my world gain their spells from their gods, but wizards and sorcerers, we use our own energy or from the world to pull from the other planes. Sometimes, anyway. "she shrugged, "Depends on the spell." Most people had a problem with her parentage, and the ones who didn’t were all too often rather unpleasant.

There were so many differences between their worlds. And yet, there were also many similarities as well. It was in the sting; so many of the places (planes) she had visited were so very... Alien. Oryn was human, but he wasn't so dissimilar from herself. And he was pleasant company thus far. "The same goes for sorcerers on my world; they aren't terribly uncommon, but most can only cast the simplest of spells.”

When he showed her the book, the picture of what an elf was, the look she gave him was incredulous, "That," she told him, "Is not an elf He looks more like... Perhaps a goblin… Or an imp, only without wings. And with humanist colored skin. Those are another sort of demon.” Thrive on servitude. That sounded like something people told themselves to rationalize keeping a race of people trapped in servitude. She arched a brow, “Is that so? They have no yearning for freedom? I can’t imagine that sort of life.” The idea of being bound like that was horrific to Torynn, but there were those who were more subservient, who would prefer to live in security, with their lives dictated by another.

Just not her.
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#9
Where did magic come from… That was an excellent question. As Oryn wracked his brain, there was only really one answer that came to him, and that answer made his face twist up as if the words were the most disgusting thing to ever pass through his mouth. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I believe that at least some of it must come from within. Many creatures on our world have traits that suggest that magic is an inborn trait, and I suppose wizards are no exception. Those who repress their power tend to destroy themselves rather spectacularly as their magic fights back against them, sometimes to horrifically destructive effect. I believe, then, that it is something unique about the wizard’s life, their essence, that contains their magic and lets them impose their will upon the world. It is, however, not something that is much thought about, because it is not a perspective that we have had reason to consider. A person has magic, or they do not. If they do, then if they apply it in specific ways, they will have a specific, known result. The thought of ‘why’ or ‘how’ is a question that is left to philosophers to wax poetic about until they’ve driven themselves mad with circular reasoning.”

On the subject of house elves, he was much less concerned with his lack of knowledge. “They generally don’t show any ambition towards it. Obviously, there are some who break the trend, but by and large, their peers look at them as misfits and fools. Obviously, some exceptions apply. If one is mistreated horribly, it will seek to be released, and may try to trick its way into being freed, but often they’ll seek work with another household where they will be treated more fairly. I have no idea if this is a habit that was born of their culture before their contact with wizards or if it has been a learned behavior. I doubt that anyone does anymore. Goblins have retained much of their own culture and values after integrating into the world of wizards, though, so I don’t know why the elves wouldn’t have.” As he mentioned them, he gave a flick of his wand, making the book turn to the page on goblins, for reference. “And yes, they do look quite a bit like them in some ways, I have to agree.”
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Dungeons & Dragons-Forgotten Realms

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#10
There were moments that could help define a person’s relationship with another person. Moments that could build or break trust. Moments that could endear or estrange people. When Torynn had asked about where the magic in Oryn’s homeworld came from, she hadn’t realized that this could become one of those moments. And yet, there it was, showing up gently, quietly, and unexpectedly. It was genuine, how he looked as though he’d bitten into something too tart for his taste, and Torynn’s lips spread into a delighted grin. Honesty was a delicious fruit, one that she always came upon without realizing it, because there were precious few people who would be forthright and honest with a Fey’ri. It was precious, and it was meaningful to see him admit, obviously making him unhappy to do so, that he didn’t know where his magic actually came from. The sound Torynn made wasn’t a laugh or giggle, but it was a sound of delight nonetheless, and her tail twitched with similar emotion behind her before reaching out to caress his hand lightly. “If nothing else, the ability to use it comes from within. Makes you think, doesn’t it? On Toril,” she spoke the name of her home with a shrug, “We know where the magic comes from. Part of it is from within us, part from nature itself, and part from the gods.” The way she spoke the last word was with the confidence of someone who knew their gods were real, because the gods responded to prayers, they interacted with their followers. “I cannot imagine not knowing where my magic comes from. You might say it in jest, but I can believe that people could drive themselves mad trying to figure it out if there are no answers available.”

No ambition to be free or independent. Torynn made a face at the very idea, disgust the prevailing emotion here. She was the opposite of what his elves were; she would fight against slavery or confinement to the ends of her ability, until she couldn’t anymore. The idea of someone who would seek it out willingly, and ‘thrive’ in that situation was entirely alien to her. “Elves are softer things than goblins.” she said the words with a shrug, and then smiled at him, “I am both very glad that the elves of my world are not like yours, and simultaneously sad that they are not. My life would have been easier if so, but then I likely wouldn’t exist, and I do enjoy existing a bit too much to wish otherwise.” She looked at the goblins, they were slightly different than those she knew, too, but there were obvious similarities. “They do. I wonder if on your world they shared a common ancestor.” That would be interesting, and amusing. “But nothing like the Fey’ri on your world. Well, I can’t say that it’s not a little bit gratifying to hear that… Fresh starts in new places are too uncommon not to appreciate when you find one.”
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#11
“Oh, I’m even speaking in jest,” Oryn said, “People have driven themselves mad with ill-advised delving into secrets they ought not try to contemplate. On my world, I worked for a department that researched all such secret knowledge, things that we might need not let the population at large know about. We’ve researched the flow of time, the process of death, the very makeup of magical forces… but one thing we’ve not been able to determine is where magic comes from. It was a study that was discontinued nearly a century ago, with a ruling to not re-open the subject until two centuries had passed so that other matters, matters which might cause progress for the practice of magic at large, could progress. The hope, I believe, was that if the matter was set aside for the time being, an answer might be discovered indirectly, or our base of knowledge might have improved enough that we could find some answer. Still… some didn’t like the idea, I suppose, and continued some last-minute experiments while the rulings to discontinue funding to that project was being processed. I’ve read the file on their results, the effect on them was… disturbing. Even distressing.” Oryn shuddered slightly, then shook his head. “But I believe I’m being long-winded again about matters which may be boring to those who don’t work too much as I do,” he admitted, casually waving his wand and causing their glasses to refill.

“It’s actually a fascinating phenomenon from an academic standpoint,” he put in regarding the house elves. “They show a loyalty to their household that is similar to the loyalty that a person shows to their country. A person might be driven down, might be mistreated by their government, but by and large they will refuse to leave, will retain their loyalty to that place, for reasons that would baffle most anyone observing the situation.” He regarded the book with her for a moment, then shrugged. “It’s possible… anything’s possible. I’ve never heard of any attempts by elves and goblins to interbreed, which would put some weight behind them having some sort of relation. But no, nothing like you on my world, my dear. Not to say that there aren’t some creatures that interbreed with humans… there are some people who have a few drops of giant blood or goblin blood or elf blood in them, although don’t ask me how those pairings occur, the answer is likely unpleasant. A few others, as well… Veela come to mind, though I’ve only heard of those. I had a genius of a teacher who appeared to have some goblin blood somewhere in his past, and my school employed a half giant as well… a big, bumbling oaf of a man, though admittedly brilliant when it came to handling magical creatures.”

He gave a wave of his wand when she didn’t seem interested in the book any longer and sent it gliding back to its place on the shelf. “So, I’m curious whether you’ve given any thought to what you’ll be doing after you’ve taken some time to spread your wings a bit and see the sights here?” he ventured, peering at her questioningly over his glass.
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Dungeons & Dragons-Forgotten Realms

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#12
Secrets they ought not to contemplate… Torynn arched a brow, “Your world contains secrets people don’t feel they should even think about, let alone learn?” That was something interesting. It was also a difference between their worlds; her own world even had a group dedicated to learning everything they could and then sharing it with anyone who was interested in learning it as well. There were a lot of reasons to dislike or fear the Harpers, especially for a Fey’ri, but Torynn actually found that she agreed with their fundamental belief that knowledge should be free and accessible. Imagine that. An ‘evil’ Fey’ri agreeing wholeheartedly with a group of ‘goodly’ people. Inconceivable! On his world, however, it seemed that the government determined what knowledge was appropriate for the people they governed. Torynn wasn’t entirely certain that’s what he really meant, but if it was, well, she felt bad for those people. Told what they could learn and know…

Then again, if wizards who continued to study the secrets that had been declared off limits had lost their minds, their sanity, or themselves (and themselves might be more accurate), then Torynn supposed that she could understand the need to limit the knowledge about such things that made it into the hands of the public. It would be a very bad thing for rogue mad mages to be wandering about all over the place. She considered what had happened with some of the more notable insane wizards where they decided to settle down and agreed that yes, in some cases, keeping knowledge quiet, if not forbidden, could be understandable. That didn’t mean that she didn’t still dislike it; it didn’t sit well with her, not really, but she wasn’t going to tell her new friend that the way his people handled things was barbaric and unjust. That wouldn’t like sit well with him, after all. When he commented that he’d spoken enough on the subject, she smiled, “Can one work ‘too much’ on their magic and knowledge? I’m not certain, but I would hardly disagree with a shift to lighter topics for a time. Work is nothing to fear, but distress should be taken in small amounts.”

These ‘house’ elves as he called them were indeed fascinating. So unlike the haughty, superior race she had grown up all too familiar with. He spoke about loyalty, and compared it to the loyalty one felt for their home country or kingdom, and Torynn fell deeply into thought of that. At first, she disagreed; why would someone stay in a city or country that mistreated them? That made no logical sense, and yet…

He had found her in a crumbling tower from which, at its highest point, you could just barely see the city where she had called home so very long ago. Why had she stayed? Well, aside from looking for her staff, which had actually been one of the main reasons she’d crossed a damn dessert to get back to Cormanthyr. Or at least, that’s what she’d told herself.

That she hadn’t actually used the intricately carved wooden staff since she’d found it was besides the point.

Oryn, however, brought up the interesting topic of halfbreeds and interspecies breeding, and Torynn was grinning, “Oh, plenty of races interbreed where I’m from. Half elves, half orcs… Half ogres are a strange breed, but they can be quite useful. I am Fey’ri as you know, but then there are the Tannaruk, which are orcs and the Tannar’i.. The Tieflings.. Humans tend to breed with other species quite often, actually. I wonder if there’s ever been a half gnome…” She gave a full body shudder - the reckless intellect of a gnome combined with the self righteous ignorance and adventuring spirit of a human? That was actually just a tiny bit worrying. “I rather hope not.” Half giant? Hm. “I’ve never met a half giant. But if they’re bumbling and oafish, they sound more like half ogres than giants to me. Giants are…” she shrugged, “Not oafish. At all. Huge, but clever and more agile than you’d think.”

The use of magic was something that Torynn was accustomed to; she had apprenticed to an archwizard, and had learned plenty. And the tower, when it had still been maintained and bustling with the business of a wizard and his entourage, had been filled with magic spells and unseen servants and magical creatures. Magic was everyday, it was commonplace, at least in her life. She wouldn’t want it any other way. His question, however, was met with a thoughtful dip of her lips, not quite a frown, but approaching it, “There’s so many options,” and the almost-breathlessness she spoke with made it clear this had never been a problem before. As a Fey’ri, she’d only had so many options, and now… “There is no prevailing prejudice against my race here. People are fooled by magic more easily than they are in my homeworld. It leaves me with more options than I was prepared to weigh. I have my gifts; magic, swordsmanship, stealth, flight. Most of my kind were either villains in their own right, or worked for others. Those of us whose interests lay elsewhere had a harder time of things. I adventured with a group for a time, and that was very profitable, but I am not entirely sure if such a life is necessary here.”
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#13
Could he speak too much on his magic and knowledge? Good question. “I suppose that there might not be such a thing as ‘too much,’ but I’m particularly long-winded if you start me up on magical theory. It’s one of my more tedious habits, I’m told. But as for your question… well, yes. There are some things that, if people are free to play with, will have dire consequences. We heavily restrict the use of time travel, for instance, and keep very secret the methods of making any of the devices you must use to do so. The reasons are simple: At the very best, people can do something idiotic that will reveal the existence of magic to the world at large, something which in the past has resulted in witches and wizards being hunted down, killed, imprisoned, tortured… Quite messy business. At worst, they can cause some sort of paradox that will undo reality. We are quite against people breaking the universe. And that’s just the most well known example. The mindset is simple. If you set down something that looks interesting in front of the dull-witted masses, some idiot will pick it up, start waving it around, and end up killing people or worse out of sheer ignorance. If you keep the existence of it quiet until it’s been refined into something that can be used safely? You save quite a bit of trouble for everyone. Beyond that… there are subjects that, if experimented on, are simply too dangerous for the poor fool trying to experiment. Madness is one such result, and by far the least distressing.” He shrugged, taking a large draw from his glass. “By and large, though, we just keep our mouths shut about what we’ve found out, and no one is the wiser.”

“Giants are somewhat similar to ogres. Half-giants… well, they’re quite as intelligent as a human is, but they can have… aggressive tendencies, or faults in their common sense. I’m working with a very limited group of examples, though, so I’ll admit that I’m speaking largely from reputation there.”

He listened to her talking through her options, nodding absently as she did. Yes, the girl was smart… she had the long and short of the life here. “’Necessary’ is a word that depends largely on what your goals are. This place affords us a way to discover secrets of the omniverse itself… and that, occasionally, will require venturing out on our own, I believe. However, I believe that there are ways to make the more interesting things come to you.” He waved his wand toward his desk, causing a parchment to lift up and glide over to them. On it, once he showed it to her, was the design of a storefront, and a floor plan, and by the design of it (and, well, by the fact that it said so on the page), it was intended to be a sort of pawnbroker. There were storage chambers, with various notations about warding spells on it, notes about potion production and sale, and a small rundown of stock already available. “One thing all people need on coming here is coin that will be accepted at various places. Now, I have that in rather large supply, what I need are the items that they’ll be bringing with them, those rather strange objects unique to other worlds. Some will be rubbish, naturally, but when you’re offered enough rubbish, the treasures will come as well.” He let her look over the notes about the business for a moment before he continued. “I would, of course, be curious as to your thoughts on the matter.”
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#14
Tedious habits, speaking too much on knowledge. This man, the world he hailed from, had some very odd and archaic beliefs and social rules. Each culture had different sets of rules; what would be rude to do in one culture would be insulting to leave out in another. Elves, humans, halflings, gnomes, dwarves… The so-called ‘civilized’ races couldn’t even agree on what was proper etiquette, then there were the subraces, the kingdoms and city-states, the supposedly ‘lesser’ races, and that was just on her home world. For a moment, Torynn wondered if she would exhaust herself simply learning what was considered polite manners to Oryn’s people, and to those other people in this place. Honestly, that seemed like a complete waste of time. Oryn, perhaps, was someone she might invest her time into; she liked the mage enough to figure out how not to insult him, and he was offering her companionship as well as food and shelter and learning, but the rest of these people? Let them make the attempt first before she went out of her way for any of them. Keeping your findings to yourself seemed like a bad way to make progress as a society, but she supposed when the alternatives were madness and worse, perhaps they had reason to have developed such a system.

It wasn’t like they were demons or Thayans working to undermine the education of others or to corrupt and turn them against each other or something.

As heartening as it was to hear that there were similarities between their worlds, the fact that it was in giants and ogres and their half-breeds was just a little bit of an oddity. Elves were so vastly different, more like kobolds in personality, and looked like goblins. They had no concept of demons or devils or other outsiders at all… Torynn had to wonder if there would be a place for her there that wasn’t surrounded by iron bars. Oryn seemed rather receptive to her and her appearance, but then he had traveled to a new world, he had to have been expecting to come across strange and exotic peoples. “Ogres, where I’m from, aren’t terribly bright. Giants can be magnificently intelligent, though they have a similar range as the rest of the higher races - they have their half-wits as well as their geniuses.

The secrets of the omniverse. Torynn had spent time in the companionship of a Planeswalker for a short time when she and her compatriots had needed to leave their plane on their quest. She understood more about the planes than most people could claim, and had visited (and survived) many more than her share. She wouldn’t have claimed to be an expert, but this, Hub, offered the chance to best the experts on even Sigil. He called the parchment and she smoothed it as she looked it over, a smile growing on her face. She laughed softly, “A moneylender, hm, Master Vance?” the amusement that lit her eyes was not a small thing, but it was accompanied with approval as well. “I think you have hit upon an excellent idea, my clever friend.” Torynn nodded at the potions list he had, and then pulled two similar (but different) wands from her bandolier before joining them with a handful of what looked to be runes, “I can make things as well; I’m no alchemist, but wands and small wonders are things I have spent time learning how to craft.” Her hand drifted to the staff on her back, the very one she had so diligently sought, and had finally found when he had revealed the hidey-hole that had belonged to the archmage Paeris. She would never part with the staff, but she could make others. She was skilled, and while she would never make another to match the one she carried (unless it was for herself or someone who had earned her protection), she could make lesser staves for those who travelled through this place. Shrugging, she looked at Oryn, “I think it is not a bad life, what you propose, and it sounds very profitable. I also think that it would do us good to have an adventure from time to time, lest we grow too complacent.” She grinned to her companion, “And adventuring is also a profitable venture.”
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Intelligent giants, now there was a frightening prospect. Those brutes, but with actual tactical sense? The world wouldn’t know what destroyed it, he had a feeling. The main defense that wizards (and muggles, for that matter) had against them was that they were too stupid to really get ambitious. He was going to remain glad that his world hadn’t had to deal with any real thought from them.

He chuckled quietly when she called him a moneylender. “Now, when you say it like that, it just sounds crude,” he joked. “I’m glad you approve, though. I intend for it to be completely honest… I don’t think there will be any need to resort to trickery or anything so uncouth. If people can manage to come up with the money to regain their possessions, I can always make them offers they can’t refuse if they have anything of particular interest to me.” And, of course, sometimes this wouldn’t work, but there was always something else about to come into the door… assuming he hadn’t been able to unlock the item’s secrets while it was left in his care.

“And speaking of interest…” He hadn’t missed her hand’s idle touch to the staff (again), and he decided that addressing the issue wouldn’t be imprudent at this time. “I’ll admit to my curiosity ever since you rescued that staff from the hidden vault. What, precisely, is it?” He wasn’t going to come right out and ask if he could see it… not yet, at least. Some people’s possessions were quite dear to them, too dear to allow foreign hands on. He would, after all, be loathe to let someone else handle his wand… although perhaps he’d make an exception for Torynn. While he waited for an answer, he picked up one of the wands, studying it, overcome by another curiosity. He slid his own wand back into its holder and ran his fingers over the one he’d picked up. He could tell that it was a wand meant to cast a specific spell on her world, but it could be used as a magical focus. He could tell that it had a finite number of charges available to it as well… Experimentally, he pointed it at the fireplace on the other side of the room. “Incendio,” he murmured, sending a jet of flame across the room. Simple spells, apparently, were possible from it, but what about… Standing, he began weaving a spell in front of him, silvery lines of magic trailing from the tip of the wand, but halfway through, the magic failed and the spell vanished. Oryn looked down at it and frowned, then shrugged. “Not enough power to cast something of real power from my world,” he admitted, setting it back down and drawing his own back out as he returned to his seat. “Although definitely still useful,” he added quickly. “Apologies, wands are a… complex subject on my world.”
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#16
Intelligent giants were just a fact of life. Well, some giants were smarter than others. Frost giants were, for instance, far more intelligent than Hill giants. For the most part, giants were happy to put down roots, make homes, and settle down, as long as they were left alone. The problem was that adventurers were rarely happy to leave the poor buggers alone.

“Most moneylenders are honest, fair people. The fault for people having so much bias against them lay with both the few who aren’t, and the many who borrow too much." Oryn, from the sounds of it, seemed to be the first sort. Good. Torynn had few moral qualms with the idea of what Oryn wanted to do, but fair business was good. They could build quite a reputation from that. "True. It is not as though either of us are without funds." Not after their raid on Paeris’ treasure board. "I have some few baubles we could always go retrieve for trade if need be." The information was added quietly, a rare moment of not quite trust, but the conscious decision to give her new companion information she might not normally give.

What was her staff? To rynn smiled at the question. He was certainly observant, her new companion. And so many of her kind scoffed At humans. They had their strengths, though. "It's a staff. "the reply was spoken impishly, an obvious tease. "I crafted it myself centuries ago. The wizard whose treasure room we pilfered stole it, and I promised myself I would retirement. Thanks to you, I finally have.” she watched as he used the wand to cast… Burning Hands, perhaps? "It's a low level wand. Interesting, how you used it to cast a different spell than it holds... This is a small, simple Prestidigitation wand. Quite useful, but on a level with Burning Hands." she pulled a different, darker colored wand from her personal stash, "True Seeing. Much more powerful than Prestidigitation.” She offered the new wand to him, “Wands on my world are keyed to cast a certain spell. They are very useful, if a bit expensive to craft. Worth it in the end.”

She was quiet for a long moment before she murmured, "The staff.. I made it for my mother. It... Is her."
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“Mm. I suppose your world must have much fewer instances of usury to cast a pall on the trade,” Oryn mused. “My father tended to dabble in the practice when someone had something he particularly wanted… one of the few worthwhile skills the man taught me. I can’t say I have any vested interest in ruining someone or leaving them in a state of perpetual debt, if nothing else the constant begging and bleating for more time and excuses over lack of funds tends to be tiresome. I do know that forgiving a debt that really means nothing to you can result in a sort of fearful loyalty when you need to apply some pressure, though, and favors are worth their metaphorical weight in gold.” After all… as she’d pointed out, they had enough treasure. This venture wasn’t about money, after all.

Her offer of her other items made Oryn sit back and consider it. Oh, he appreciated the gesture, but on the other hand… “Only if there’s something we truly need,” he finally said. “I intend to try to keep very quiet the true extent of the wealth backing this venture. If we make it quite obvious that we have a large cache of items to fall back on… well, I’m not sure what the result would be, but I’ve always found it prudent to not give any hints as to the extent of your resources, material or otherwise. I’m certainly not intending to offer anything quite so powerful as what I’m capable of,” he reasoned, nodding toward the still-steaming cauldron for an example. “Just enough to keep people hopeful.” There always did come a time when you wanted to have the plausible excuse that you simply couldn’t help someone in a timely manner, after all, and if they knew you to be lying, that could hurt business.

When she replied that her staff was a staff, Oryn gave a cool chuckle and waved his wand theatrically as if he were about to give her a magical smack for it (which, naturally, didn’t happen). The talk about the wand diverted the subject, and he examined her wand another moment before handing it back. “Wizards on my world can’t cast a spell without a wand, and wandcraft is a tricky business at best. You need a wood and a core of sufficient quality, and then the wizard can focus his power through it. This one would be adequate if I needed it… I suppose the spell you put on it acts as the magical core for my purposes, I didn’t actually use its magic, though I could feel it there.” The second wand, though… Oryn studied it with a keen eye, running his fingers over it, feeling the power inside it. “Oh my, now this is nice,” he commented. He could feel the magic of it, and could cast that spell if he wished, but he could feel much more potential than that. “Might I hold onto this for a time? I really don’t want to start throwing magic about like a schoolboy just at this moment, but it does deserve a test to see how well it works with my magic.”

He was still studying the wand when she gave the revelation about the staff to him. For the first time, Oryn looked truly taken aback. From the look he gave that staff, and then her, he knew exactly the sort of implication those simple sentences had. Finally, he gave a small nod. “An item like that… would be considered rather dangerous on my world,” he said. “Dangerous, but full of odd possibilities at the same time, I suppose. The details of its making are none of my business, but I am curious as to the general processes on your world. If, say, that subject ever comes up.”
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#18
Torynn laughed, “Depends on which country you go to. Calimshan will rob you blind if you’re not careful. And an elf will take a dwarf or human for everything they have. Never trust any goblinoid when it comes to money or value. No offense, but human moneylenders tend to be greedier and seedier than most races, but half elves tend to the opposite, maybe because of the elf in them, or maybe because they understand hardship, I don’t know for certain.” She gave him a wide smile, “Never trust a demon offering you a deal. It’s never going to work out for you.” Her tail twitched, reaching to caress the length of the staff she wore, “Ever, even if you’re the one offering a deal.” Fearful loyalty. Torynn laughed at the words, but nodded, “Kindness is a snare that can trap even the most powerful.” Money was important, it offered the ability to live in comfort, but no, there was so much more than financial wealth to the world.

Like magic.

His ultimate refusal to take her things for what she had to assume was meant to be a shared venture (else why speak to her of it at all?) earned him a shrug and a long reassessment. It was odd that someone would speak of business with someone else who wasn’t meant to be involved or invest in said business. Oh, certainly, when she put on one of her disguises and spoke to her contacts, she might ask how business was doing, but it was a very general thing. Oryn was discussing the intricacies of this proposed business model, and yet he wanted nothing from her but opinions and ideas? Odd. Her tail twitched again, “I didn’t mean to say that we should put my things on shelves for others to handle or gawk at, Master Vance.” She laughed at his proclamation that he didn’t intend to offer his most powerful wonders, “Well, of course not. No wizard worth their salt gives all of their power away!” She reached to pat his hand to show she had meant no offense, “And you certainly seem worth your salt, my friend, or I would not be sitting with you here, would I?”

“You need a wand to cast?” She considered, “Wizards, on my world, need a focus for many spells, certainly for the more complicated ones. But not necessarily a wand.” She looked at the wand he had toyed with, then shook her head, “To see you cast something other than the spell this was meant for… That is something, Oryn.” She offered him the more powerful wand, not her finest, but true seeing was an exceptionally useful spell. And one she was loathe to be completely without any given day. You never knew when you would need to see beyond the obvious. With a tip of her head, “My gift to you.” She could make another, and this would seal their friendship just that much further. “The spell that wand holds is not a combative magic, but a revealing one. Very useful.” She looked at the wand before she asked him, “Do you think you could use the wand as a wizard of my world would, or only as a focus for your own magic?”

The look that Oryn wore when she explained about the staff was telling. Obviously, his world did not often… Well, neither did hers, not everywhere. But it was common enough that he understood what she meant, and that was something. “It’s considered rather dangerous on my world as well. And it is not the kindest existence for her,” she shrugged easily, “But it is kinder than the fate my father had planned for her. Besides,” her smile slid into something less amused, touched by something sad and almost angry, “My mother was not the kindest. This,” she tapped the wood of the staff, “Is apt for her.” She arched a brow, “The process? Well, it’s not a short or easy thing to do, Oryn. But the result,” she hefted the staff, which deceptively gave off a far more mild magical aura than it should, “Is worthwhile.”
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#19
She was certainly right, a wizard didn’t give out his secrets, but the more she kept asking him, the more he kept talking, oddly enough. He supposed that his teachers had been right enough that he would have made a fair lecturer if he’d been inclined at all toward a career in academics. Perhaps, some day, when he was older, it was something he would revisit. For now? There were more ambitious goals. “Well, there are some places in my world where wizards cultivate the use of magic without wands, but it’s a fair bit more limited than what you can accomplish with one. I never found the time to go abroad to study there, though I always had meant to.” And, one day, after he’d plundered several more worlds for their magic, perhaps he would go back there. He studied the wand as she discussed it, sure that he could use the magic in it, but taking a moment to analyze it with his own wand as he would any enchanted artifact. Classifying it into his own world’s magical practices, he’d say that it was a charm that broke through misdirections and invisibility, and possibly revealing transfigured objects. As a magical concept, he could work with this to adapt it into a ‘normal’ spell, given a bit of time and experimentation. For now, though, he had the wand, which he waved, activating the True Seeing spell on the both of them. “I suppose I can at that,” he mused, smiling faintly at her before stowing the wand.

Her explanation about the staff, combined with her earlier behavior when she’d talked about making deals with demons, painted him a fair picture of what the circumstances may have been surrounding the creation of that staff. “Well, I’m not one to judge,” he mused. “My own father was a rather wretched person. I daresay that ending his life was one of the more useful things I’ve done, and if you were from my world, you’d know that was saying quite a lot.” Not that he’d been particularly eager to use such a rather dark bit of magic then, nor did he ever wish to repeat the process, but it had been a desperate situation. The fact that it had given him an excuse to kill his father had simply been icing on the proverbial cake.
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#20
It was amazing, how willing to share Oryn was. And his honesty! He might not like admitting when he was wrong, but he still did. It was refreshing; Torynn hadn't known such companionship since hellions and white fyre had gone their own way to build their church. But here was a new friend, every bit as knowledgeable as her old ones (which was a compliment, even if might not seem so) who was willing to share with her what he knew, and who was not afraid to ask questions when he didn't know something. Torynn leaned toward Oryn, when it had happened she couldn’t say, but she was focused on him, listening intently as he spoke. “On my world, there are mages who work to perfect the art of spellcasting without speaking, and some even work to cast spells without movement.” She grinned, “Obviously there are some spells that are more conducive to those sorts of attempts than others, but the better, more skilled the mage, the more complex the spells they can master in such ways.” She grinned, “There is an entire country in my world where everyone, even the most simple, can cast a cantrip or two.” When the magic from the wand discharged, it was silent, the spell cast with no flash or pomp. “It has a limited amount of uses, but I can make another.” She smiled, happy to know that he could use the wands she made; that could come in useful in the future.

The fact that her father was a demon was fairly obvious, or at least Torynn had always thought so; batlike wings, long prehensile tail, the reddish hue to her skin… All of it pointed to a parent of demonic heritage, and she had confessed that her mother was an elf already. Still, she smiled when Oryn said that his own father left something to be desired. She didn’t doubt the statement, “Oh, I didn’t end my father’s life. My best friend banished him back to the Abyss, though. It was a rather happy occasion.” Which had come centuries later than Torynn would have preferred, but such was life. She grinned, “At least you got to deal with yours yourself?” She tipped her head, tail swishing out to lightly caress his arm, ending in a light pat.
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