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07.11.15 - Or perhaps he's wondering why someone would shoot a man before throwing him out of the plane.

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05.11.15 - You fight like a younger man, there's nothing held back. It's admirable, but mistaken. I am the League of Shadows.

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Ophelia Glasscock and the Very Tall Elf
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#1
Ophelia had taken a few days to go back home, pack up the essentials in a suitcase that was, naturally, much larger on the inside than on the outside, have the rest of her things sent to be stored at her grandmother's house, take a leave of absence from her employer for unspecified reasons and then she'd drunk the potion that sent her back to the Hub.

Once she was back in the Hub, the first order of business was to secure lodging, and she had just the place in mind-The Wandering Moon Inn, a lovely place maintained by an elf. And not a house elf, this elf was reputedly quite handsome, although she hadn't met him at her previous visit to the Wandering Moon. It seemed like the perfect place to stay, pleasantly exotic, but not wholly unfamiliar, the perfect place to stay while she explored the Hub, and the worlds connected to it.

So she stepped inside, and sat down at a table, informing the delightfully buxom barmaid that she wanted a sandwich, a mug of ale and a word with the owner, in that order if possible.
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#2
The amount of work that had piled up for Arjay at the Moon was unbelievable. The place was largely self-sufficient, thankfully, the bartenders knew where to restock the drinks in an emergency, the cook was probably even more happy making her own decisions about the meals without his input, and the various staff knew to clean the rooms and collect the payments. Nevertheless, he’d come back to a pile of correspondence waiting for him in his room, which was of course exactly what he’d wanted to deal with. Some of it was simply a matter of approving various transactions, which made him make a mental note to just leave his seal behind with someone he trusted with it next time he’d be away this long. Some took a bit more time, with letters needing to be returned, fools needing to be put in place, and deals needing to be negotiated. A few weren’t even regarding the Moon, but had come in from his own people, delivered magically through the portal, and those needed his most careful attention.

It was, therefore, not a very amused Arjay who received the barmaid in his office, rubbing his fingers against his temples. “Who’s upset now?” he asked, nearly automatically. Thankfully, the answer was ‘no one,’ although he wasn’t sure he trusted it. He needed to lay a permanent circle of truth around his office, he suspected… but no matter. If someone needed him, he’d have to go attend to them.

Granted, once he saw the lady who was waiting for him, some of his misgivings evaporated nearly immediately. “I believe,” he said, bowing slightly as he approached her table, “that I’ve had the privilege of having my presence requested at this table?”
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#3
Oh, yes, this was most certainly NOT a house elf. Or anything even slightly similar to that sort of creature. Instead he was tall, humanoid (except for some rather charming pointed ears), and had the most delicious blond hair. Not that she was planning on hitting on her future landlord-that would be crass-but still, if she was going to conduct business, it would be pleasant to do so with someone so easy on the eyes.

"Yes, I did." Ophelia said, smiling at him "I am going to be staying in the Hub for some times, and I require lodgings. I understand you have some rooms for rent, and so I should like to rent a suite, if you have one that is vacant."
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#4
A suite? Well, now there was something to consider... once he had a means of re-doing the interior layout of the inn, that was. It was something to consider, he could probably have a wall taken down between two of the rooms to expand them... or he could just do with what he had, which was comfortable.

"Well, I do have rooms to rent at the moment, yes, and I'm quite open to extended tenants, particularly ones as charming as yourself." He gave her a little bow as he took a seat at her table, catching the barmaid's eye and making a little twirling gesture. He hadn't eaten lately, and given his present company, he was inclined to share. "I'm afraid that all of the rooms are the same, one of the disadvantages of a structure that you can't exactly build larger on its own," he explained, gesturing around. The 'building' was, of course, a tree, and would grow at its own rate. "They're still quite comfortable, and I don't think I've heard anyone say that the room was lacking something they needed. If they had, we could have fixed that, I'm sure. And if you're going to be staying with us for a while, we could work something out for food as well. And speaking of, please, help yourself." As the barmaid set a plate of savory herb bread down along with a bottle and two glasses, Arjay picked up the wine to pour some out before he went on. "Of course... the question of payment here can be a bit complicated. Does your world deal in gold, or do we need to find some other means of a common compensation?"
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#5
"Excellent." Ophelia said with a smile "I'm glad that I'll be able to stay here, some of the other places that offer lodgings are decidedly unsavory." she dropped her voice low and said, in a confidential tone "I think that one of them is a brothel." she broke off a piece of bread and ate it, before she continued speaking. "The reason I asked about a suite is that I would like to have a room to use as a laboratory, for my potions work. I could just take two rooms, if that would be more convenient. "

When he asked about money she nodded and said "Yes, we use precious metals as currency." she replied "Paying you in gold won't be a problem. " Ophelia had a tidy inheritance from her parents, along with her own savings, and anticipated being able to earn while she was living in the Hub, and so wasn't at all concerned about money "And if meals could be included with my lodging, that would be delightful. The food here is excellent."
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#6
“Mm. Yes, there is that place. I wasn’t aware that they had lodgings available, though. I’d definitely worry about what else was going on in that building if I stayed there, yes.” While he didn’t come out and say that it was a brothel, he counted on the fact that that small description told him who she was referring to to do it for him. Far be it from him to badmouth his competition (not that he’d even remotely claim to be in the same business as them), but sometimes the competition did it all themselves.

“As far as experiments… well, I suppose that if you can find a suitable location in the building we can discuss that as part of your rent. If you can’t… well, I know someone who runs a potion shop and might be able to rent you space in her workshop. I’m afraid I can’t make a better offer than that.” Naturally, it would also be contingent on her not doing any experiments that could burn the tree down, his wards on the inn could handle anything she did at least once… he hoped. Still, it was always pleasant to have someone stay around who appreciated the place and what it offered. “How long are you wishing to stay?”
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#7
"Apparently they do." Ophelia said "I was told so by a rather scruffy looking man who said he worked there, but I decided that it wouldn't suit." she smiled at Arjay "I think that this place will be much more congenial. My potions don't tend to explode, or otherwise make things unpleasant for the neighbors, but I may see your friend about renting space in her lab. It would be quite pleasant and educational to meet a fellow potion maker, especially one from another universe." she thought for a moment and said "I really haven't decided that. I do plan on staying for some time, but I haven't decided exactly how long. So shall we say a month to start, and then extend the lease if its agreeable to both of us?"
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#8
Arjay considered warning her that renting from Fizzle might put her in very close contact with potion experiments that were very likely to explode, but decided that it wasn’t necessary. Someone really only needed to speak with Fizzle for a few minutes to figure that out for themselves. Granted, Ophelia might be able to learn quite a lot from those explosions, so it could all still be productive, he supposed. “I’m certain it would be very educational,” he agreed diplomatically.

“Let me see your gold,” he said, having only needed to learn once the hard way that not all gold coins were equal. Ophelia’s, though, were fairly pure, though they were a bit smaller than he was used to. “Ten coins per week should suffice,” he decided after weighing one in his hand for a moment. “Weekly rentals are the longest-term I am willing to consider for a new occupant as a rule. After four weeks, if you still wish to stay on long-term, we can talk about a longer-term arrangement. Whatever the cook has prepared each meal is included, drinks or alternative meals are extra, and if you miss a meal it’s between you and the cook and does not involve me. If you need any additional amenities, then we can revisit the subject next week. The maid will tidy up inside the room every other day, she’s adamant that she not do so with the occupant in the room staring at her, and any alternative arrangement that you need for the cleaning is between you and her.” Apparently, Arjay had previously had some rather difficult occupants and had thoroughly lost patience with all guests of that sort.
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#9
Arjay sounded a bit dubious of the alchemist that he was going to introduce her to, which Ophelia noted, and decided to ask about "Can I take that to mean that the alchemist you were speaking of is rather fond of potions that have explosive and pyrotechnic properties?" she inquired curiously. Her potions didn't tend to explode, she tended to flavor subtlety over flash, but that didn't mean that everyone agreed with that potion position.

Ophelia was a bit surprised by the bluntness of his request, but she nodded, and pulled a galleon out of a pocket in her robes and handed it to him. Happily the coin seemed to satisfy him, and if ten galleons wasn't inexpensive for room and board at an inn, it wasn't so dear that she couldn't afford it. "That sounds agreeable. I promise, I will endeavor to be a untroublesome guest. I have already made the needed arrangements in my home universe, and I would like to settle in as soon as I'm done eating, if that will be possible."
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#10
Arjay considered his words carefully as he answered her question. “She is partial, I believe, to results that are… fun. And yes, she thinks that if it makes something explode, it’s most certainly fun. Particularly if it explodes in a manner that is unexpected or otherwise unique. It isn’t the only sort of experiment she carries out, of course, but there is always a possibility that it will be going on.” Gnomes, after all, had quite their own ideas about safety regulations.

After Arjay had taken stock of the size that her world made their coins in, he flipped it neatly back to her. Her assurances of her behavior did put him to shame a bit, he had to admit, but that was a fault of this place, really. “In all honesty, I don’t have any suspicions about whether or not you’ll be a troublesome guest,” he confided, a bit more quietly. “Since I’ve come to this place, though, I’ve found no end to the amount of people who expect me to bend over backwards at the slightest issue that arises or to take their word at every most likely false complaint that they make. I’ve found that the most reliable method I can take is to have that one-week policy in place, and if I make an exception it will somehow get out, no matter how quiet we are about it, and then I’ll have no shortage of louts bleating about how I pick and choose who I enforce my own rules with, as if it isn’t my own gods-given right to do precisely that.” He shook his head in remembered frustration. “Honestly, I have to wonder how any of the innkeepers on your Earth worlds maintain their sanity.”
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#11
Ophelia smiled at the description "Well, I'm partial to interesting potions myself, so I must say that does sound promising. I'm not opposed to the odd explosion, even if I don't favor it in my own work, its just that I've noticed that people who don't have experience with the subtle art of potion making tend to become nervous when odd sounds and smoke starts coming from the lab."

"Well, in my world I believe that they maintain their sanity by simply using a charm to throw troublesome guests out the door." Ophelia replied "I have no notion how Muggle innkeepers do so, or if they do." Ophelia replied, accepting the apology with a nod "I have no objection to your policy, and am glad to agree to a one week trial. I have no wish to be the cause of trouble to you, at least unintentionally." the last said with another smile, to indicate the joke.
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#12
“Yes, well… she’s a gnome, and gnomish alchemy is rather… reckless. Quite entertaining company, they are, but they seem to look at safety precautions as ‘silly wastes of time.’ Now, I’m generalizing, she might have quite thorough safety measures, but my experience tells me that probably isn’t the case. She’s quite experienced, though, so that should keep the explosions to a rather predictable and controllable circumstance, don’t think I’m pointing you toward an intensely dangerous place.” Of course, as near as he could tell, Fizzle had entered the Hub by being blown up, but it wasn’t as if she hadn’t had a good reason, and if he were about to die he just might throw caution to the wind and immolate himself and his enemies with magic too.

“Ah, so they do it like in my world!” he answered, smiling brightly at that revelation. “Although I can’t say I know what a ‘muggle’ is,” he added reasonably. “I’ve had to take that tack a few times, I’ll admit. The Hub gathers all kinds, and that includes louts that need to be shown the door forcefully. Sometimes without opening it first, even.” He chuckled as he remembered that particular fool bouncing off the door a few times before he’d finally opened it and thrown him through. That had been a good night…

“Those situations are rather infrequent, though, don’t be worried,” he said, favoring her with a smile. “So… do we have a deal, then? Do I get to have the pleasure of your company on a regular basis?”
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#13
And gnomes from other worlds were as different to the ones she knew as elves were, Ophelia thought, but didn't say, since it seemed impolite for her to mention that in her world gnomes were vermin, and certainly incapable of doing anything as complex as making potions. "Thank you for the consideration." Ophelia replied "I'm afraid that I've never had the chance to meet a gnome" which was true, since chucking them over the garden wall wasn't anything like a proper introduction "so I'm not familiar with their typical approach to potion making." Ophelia said, trying to be diplomatic "But I'd be very interested to meet her, if you could provide me with an introduction."

"A muggle is someone who doesn't have any magic." Ophelia explained "In my world, witches and wizards-people who can do magic, live quite separately from those who can't." she chuckled along with him "That reminds me of a time when I was staying at the Three Broomsticks, and Madame Rosmerta used a charm to send a no-longer-welcome guest bouncing down the hall, down the stairs and out the door. It was a joyous thing to behold, truly."

"Yes." she said with a nod "I think that we have a deal. I shall be glad to provide you with my company, at least for the next week. Now, if you could show me to my room? I'll get settled, and get you the first week's payment."
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#14
“Well, you’re going to have that chance soon,” Arjay told her. “I’ll make sure she’s expecting you and introduce you. But gnomish work… Hm. How best to describe this…” He pondered a moment, then nodded. “Have your people left your planet? For the stars, I mean, not through a portal?” When she answered, he nodded. “Mine have in some capacity. It’s not exactly well-known, the means aren’t plentiful, but it occurs. I’ve spoken to members of the Elven navy, and the gnomish vessles are the best example I can come up with. Many ships begin as boats. It’s a serviceable design, after all, and it lets you land and remain discreet while you offload your wares or do whatever business you have. Gnomish ships are no exception. However, they will take a boat,” he waved his hand in the air, causing an illusory sailing ship to appear, “And they will… improve it. Say, add a trebuchet here, a ballista here, a lookout post here…” The parts, as he named them, began to sprout from the ship, some at odd places, “And then they will get more creative. Some of the devices, while functioning perfectly well, I’m sure, the naval officers had no idea what they were for. Still, they’d be added, and the ship would serve their purposes extremely well.” More odd protrusions began to sprout all over the ship, namely from the sides and, alarmingly, the bottom. “This will go on for some time, until one day, the ship decides it needs to land.” He looked at the ship pointedly from several angles, and indicated where the landing struts were, and how they were no longer in any position to settle the ship on. “So it will land, and in the process, the ship will more than likely collapse under the weight of its many additions, which can’t be supported in gravity. Or, even more likely, it will just crash land. In either even, the gnomes will just happily go about the business of re-building the ship from scratch, swearing that it is going to be even better this time.” He smiled, waving away the illusion. “Draw your conclusions, my dear.”

The separation of magical and non-magical people was… odd, he supposed. “Really, now,” he said, cocking an eyebrow. “That must make doing business with them fairly difficult, but I suppose you’ve found a way to make do in your world. In any case…” Standing, he waved over one of the barmaids, stopping her for a moment on the way back to the kitchen. “When you have a moment, get me a copy of the rental papers. The lovely Ms. Glasscock is going to be staying with us from here out.” He led Ophelia up the stairs drawing a key out of his pocket and opening one of the doors. The room’s walls were, naturally, wood, polished to a smooth finish. The bed was actually carved from the wood instead of being brought in, as was the desk in the small work area. The room appeared to be lit with candles around the room, but on examination they were actually made of polished stone, with glow crystals at their tips appearing to be flames. The room was comfortable, cozy, even, with a small bathing area walled off by a folding partition. “There are three runes on the side of the tub. One to fill with hot water, one for cold, and one to drain.” He gave her an impish smile, then gave her a little bow. “I’d say that if you have any difficulties working it to call for me, but I wouldn’t want to be too forward.”
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#15
"Oh, my." Ophelia said, the mental image that his description painted was certainly vivid. "So, not entirely unlike some of the wizards in my world, who care more about finding out if a charm will work than wondering about if its a good idea or not." Arthur Weasley came to mind. Along with the twins, of course, who had been brave and good and complete menaces to society, as was typical of Gryffindors. "Well, it will keep my life from becoming dull, at any rate."

"We don't, for the most part." Ophelia replied "There are a few exceptions, but the general feeling is that the less Muggles know about us the better. Officially they aren't even supposed to know we exist at all, although sometimes exceptions are made." she might have said more, but then Arjay opened up the door to her room, and the sight of it quite took her breath away. The room was all warm wood and soft, flowing lines that looked almost as though they'd grown, instead of being carved, with only delicate traceries of leaves and flowers revealing that the work wasn't natural.
"I think that if you just show me which runes do what, I shall be able to manage." Ophelia replied, blushing slightly as she set down the candle she'd been examining. She blushed a little at the comment-she might not be completely innocent, but it had been quite awhile since she'd flirted with anyone, and she'd never been especially good at it. Of course, it probably wasn't flirtation, likely he was just concerned that she shouldn't flood room by accident.
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#16
“I suppose that’s a reasonable way of putting it,” Arjay admitted. The usual analogies involved crowded caves and fireballs where he came from, but hers was probably a more universally applicable way of putting it. “Your life will be eventful, and I’ve no doubt you’ll learn something.” Of course, how much she learned would probably be directly proportionate to how destructive the results were. He’d wait until later to ask her if she needed any magic that was proof against explosions.

It was always a toss-up whether people from the Earth worlds would be comfortable in his rooms. Some of them just couldn’t come to terms with the lack of electricity or other things that they took for granted. Others had already been inclined to scoff at the idea of living in a tree, for some reason, by the time they got to said rooms. Ophelia, though, seemed to approve of the rooms well enough, which Arjay considered a point in her favor. There was hope for humans after all.

And the way that she blushed… well, obviously she got his meaning, but she wasn’t rising to the bait. Pity, that. “Of course,” he said, moving over to the basin. “The rune on the left is the hot water,” he said, touching it and causing water to bubble up from solid metal at the bottom, “And the right rune is cold. They only fill when you’re touching them, and they can, of course, be used at the same time. Whenever you’re done, just touch the one in the middle…” He tapped that rune, and the water drained away into nothingness again. “Of course, if there is anything you need, I’m at your service.”
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