IC Berwyn Harbor

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Location: Berwyn Harbor docks. | Tag: @TerraBooma 's Chance.
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The Emberstone Publishing House was familiar to magi children and their parents, even if the name quickly slipped in and out of conscious awareness. It was printed on many of the primary-level textbooks that guided young magi through the basics of magic. It wasn't an exceptionally famous publishing company, nor did it have memorable titles on its roster. It was, however, very enduring, operated by four generations of Emberstone magi and counting.

If public recollection ever briefly sparked toward which company produced the bulk of the youth magi educational materials, Emberstone might be affiliated with the west coast and maybe Hollowstead. Not Berwyn Harbor. Yet, there was an inconspicuous satellite office there on the east coast. It had unremarkable signage marking its location near the generally colorful boardwalk; blending in just enough so that that branch could go even more unnoticed than the publishing house's name tended to be on countless educational books.

It was intended to be that way, in part, for the sake of socially concealing the redhead who scuttled the sea-side of the Berwyn Harbor boardwalk that evening. She had an air of both being determined and of being lost. Looking for something.

Earlier in the day, a fellow clerk in the office had leaned toward another coworker to lazily gossip about that shady boat docked in harbor. Enough breadcrumbs of the conversation had fallen for anyone nearby to piece together the picture of a strange magic dealer passing through. Winnie had been intrigued. Maybe the answer she secretly (and desperately) needed just might be found this time. With this shady dealer.

Winifred Maelstrom Emberstone. One might expect the person to fill the shoes of such a name to be imposing in some manner, if not in size, then in magical might. Winnie almost never wore the entirety of her full name, and by all observations, she and her family were confident she had no access to magic. It was a grotesque and horrifying thing to consider - a magi without magical talent. Normal humans had gone extinct, long ago, wiped out by war and weakness. It was also an exceptionally dangerous concept.

Thus, for her safety, she'd been raised to never shed even a shimmer of light on that fact. She should also subdue her extroversion to a degree to draw less attention, just in case. Oh, and perhaps she shouldn't use the Emberstone name, just so no one would pressure her with high, magical expectations. It had nothing, nothing to do with familial shame.

At last - her gaze homed in on a boat that paled beside the more stylish yachts and sailboats docked ahead. Well, 'paled' had a sense of 'light' to it. The questionable vessel definitely screamed 'shady' - like the gossips had described! Perfect. Her nervous excitement tangibly manifested by the quickened clip of her beige ankle boots across the wooden planks.

Was she even acceptably dressed for a shady magic dealer boat shop? Or... whatever this was? It'd been such a last minute decision to investigate. Until very recently, she hadn't ever considered the possible ins and outs of the magi underworld - she was still utterly illiterate, which felt both ironic and uncomfortable.

Winnie glanced down and took a quick survey of her presentation.

Ehhhh, it'd have to be acceptable. Besides, Shady Underworld Boatman would accept her two coins, right? Or however many were required. So a cheery red skirt just beyond the knees and a cozy white cashmere sweater would JUST have to do. She tousled her fingers through the loose length of her dark auburn hair about her shoulders just the same; it'd been both out of nerves and a rationalizing thought that she should still aim to look orderly. Somehow, that'd make her look serious and professional. Or... something. She really didn't have a compass to follow for this sort of situation.

So march onward!

Winnie drew up beside the length of the dubious boat, finding her throat tighten a little at the nearing prospect to interact with whoever Shady Underworld Boatman proved to be. Be courageous. YOU'RE the customer, they should aim to please YOU! she played at the idea of confidence in her head, rounding now toward a way aboard.

She wasn't confident. She was a cat in their first pair of socks (and probably looked as out of place). But, if she was anything, Winnie was determined. This endeavor offered some slim hope to lift the blemish her very existence put upon the prestigious Emberstone name. She might get to go home one day and know a proud smile her way without the shadow of concern pulling at the corners. These final thoughts bolstered the seemingly magic-less magi onto that boat - shoulders back, jaw tight, stride proud.

"Hellooo, I'm here to make a purchase!!" She called out, dauntless! Assured! Obviously oblivious.

She barged her way in like a confident dealer in the Underworld should (right?) and searched about for whatever devil she had to make deals with. But her eyes pulled astray. She noticed little signs indicating danger this or incredibly cursed - do not touch that. A little weird, highly intriguing - easily distracting while abuzz with uncertain anxiety.

Would a cursed magical relic affected a normie? She genuinely wondered. Could there have been a singular positive element to an otherwise disastrous existence? She heard a creak - and she didn't know if it was just the shift of the lulling tide or someone approaching. Winnie straightened suddenly and tossed a blind hand to the right to catch an awkward shift in her balance.

Her palm felt something cool form beneath it. Then hot. She panicked and reeled her hand back in toward her torso, but whatever thing she'd accidentally caught to was stuck while a sickly green halo of runes slowly swirled in the air around her hand and what proved to be some sort of ugly little statue.

"Ugh...!" she garbled alarm, shaking her hand around in a futile effort to break free.

Until the luminous runes suddenly rushed inward and vanished into her skin. The statue fell free, thudding to the floorboards nearby. Not having actually expected freedom, Winnie's counterbalancing lean away from the thing now sent her toppling into a pile of other relics to the left.

Everything was fine. Perfect introduction - she surely wasn't alone now, though she lay in a dazed pile. She was just another cursed relic collected into a mess of other like objects. Completely smooth. Goddammit.

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Location: Berwyn Harbor. The Unevitable. | Tag: @sele 's Winnie.
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As Chance De Hapsburg adjusted his hat while gazing into the mirror hanging in the bellows of his ship, he reflected that today would be an excellent day. He reflected this both because positive affirmations were a natural and reliable way to boost one's confidence and self esteem, and because the mirror was cursed as hell. It had the pesky habit of taking one's thoughts about ones self and changing one's fortunes to make them so. A little bit of literal reinforcement for a positive mindset! He wore the same thing he'd been wearing for a few weeks after his ring of diss-guise had gone into a right tear ripping into any changes he'd tried to make to his general apperance. Fortunately for him he knew what he liked! And he liked looking good. Adjusting his hat, Chance gave an eager nod and two quick tongue clicks before snapping his fingers and pulling on his coat with a gust of wind magic, stretching out the front and leaving it unzipped in a similar manner than an old timey salesman might fidget with his suspenders. He had slept in a little bit sure! But it wasn't like anyone came into a cursed item shop this early on Halloween anyway. Everyone would be busy making their plans and setting to their paths. The desperate would surely come later in the day, and the daring and the dared shortly after. It was set to be a very productive evening, Halloween always was. He should set about checking his stock.

Chance hovered across the deck instead of walking, the dark and near pitch black hold of his ship unimposing his travel as much as the air halted him levitating through it. He came across one of his trunks full of gains ill gotten and ill gained, opening it up like a video game hero unveiling a new magical item to help him comb through a dungeon. "Diamond! Darling! Do keep up the hard work yes! We'll have lots of customers today!" His rat familiar squeaked as it dove under a scepter and sniffed at a baseball bat, seemingly unsatisfied with both of them. The chest was a rather ingenious move on his part if he thought so himself. Certain cursed items could only act once or twice. Strength at the cost of age or success at the cost of a failure. Monkey's paws all regrettably curled. All very blanket things, yes? The items were more vessels for curses than actually beneficial cursed artifacts themselves. But they could remember. Throw all your old de-cursed and cleansed junk into a trunk that cursed anything that touched it to regress in time until it died and throw a curse resistant rat inside to sniff out when the curses were nice and ripe again and you were back in action. That's right baby; a perpetual fucking curse machine!

Now, there was always the chance that Diamond reverted into a ratling again if she was overexposed for too long. But he did have a ring that aged the wearer on the spot, and it conveniently fit around her tail! Since it seemed that his familiar didn't experience too many side effects of repeatedly hurtling forward and backward along her own personal timeline, he figured there was no harm in continuing the experiment. If he could ever get that deposit program running, he was certain he'd be set for life...until then though, it was all he could do to pick up cleansed artifacts for cheap and juice them back up again to float his business until he could stumble onto the real juicy stuff.

And floating was the operative term. The Unevitable was his pride and joy. A mark of independence in a world that clung so desperately to the rule of the elite! The boards were falling apart and he could never quite scrape the cash together to properly pay for the lighting, but you got to know your way around wind currents in your home pretty well, and you saved a lot of money on heating by loading up on hot air. Some would call it a constant money sink, a horrible business expense and a reckless waste of resources. If you wanted to be very specific, you could call it a stupid idea to enchant a barge with wind magic when planes existed and engines also seemed to work just fine. You could even go so far, under very specific circumstances call it a desperate attempt at an identity and coping mechanism for a cruel and apathetic world.


He should go check out the shop. Make sure everything was playing nice and nothing had gone off the rails. His display artifacts were mostly flashy attention grabbers, but there were a few dangerous ones up there! Good thing you'd have to be a real idiot to ignore all of his attentive signage that he had placed for due care and consideration for his future customers. With a whistle in his mouth and a spring in his step, Chance grunts as he goes to heft up a trap door that pops up into the operating area for his ship, which also happened to function as the shopping area of his ship. Weird, there was a lot of weight on it- it creaked but wouldn't budge. Did he leave another statue on it by accident? He didn't remember doing something like that. Ah well, this was what contingencies were for. Sliding along a little bit further, Chance squeezes up the hatch that leads up to behind the Cash register. Seeing a little flash of...green? In the air? Hm!

Chance is able to fully right himself just as Winnie's hazardous fall came to a conclusion, and he managed to watch just in time as her hand both ripped free and sent her toppling into his pile of doomed idols. That...that made things interesting.

"Well! Hello there. Someone's very eager to get her hands on some artifacts today! But where are my manners." Chance pulls his hat to his chest and bows deeply. "Chance de Hapsburg. Exiled royal of the kingdom of Austrio-Normandy. If you've come seeking infinite cosmic power, I must congratulate you, you've found it!" He makes an elaborate show of his hands, and wind swirls throughout the barge through an open window. It flies through chimes and idols alike, echoing with an ominous and powerful air. It would have been extremely convincing of his power! Had this strange woman not toppled over his collection of merfolk vengeance sculptures. Oh. Right.

"Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is you've found some cursed items! The thing you no doubtedly came to my illustrious establishment in order to purchase. The bad news is you're almost certainly going to die a horribly and bloody death. Will that be cash or credit? I must say, you are a very eager customer."


Location: Berwyn Harbor docks,The Unevitable. | Tag: @TerraBooma 's Chance.
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Cursed idols and relics haunted double-image trails through her mind – or before her waking eyes, maybe both? The fall and the influence of whatever lurid runes had steeped into her skin kept Winnie's senses wobbling. The psychedelic tunnel her vision wavered around made her feel like Alice tumbling through a rabbit hole.

While trying to stabilize her awareness – to focus on anything that might help steady the room – a voice chimed through Wonderland.

Well! Hello there.

There was an odd relief in hearing a strangely friendly tone to what seemed like the shop owner – the Shady Underworld Boatman she'd sought out. Her skin still tightened with an adrenal itch just the same. She was laying in a pile of this person's product, things they meant to sell – not a good look. Really, unintentional or not, it was terribly inconsiderate. Just terrible, period.

"Ah.. I—.. woah." She began a failed effort to quickly exhale an apology. Though she'd not sucked in a solid enough breath to actually give life to the words before deflating. The world spun a little more quickly for a moment.

"I'm.so.sorry." She gasped on the very next available exhale. "Uhh....hg.." Winnie was clearly very articulate while cursed to dozens of deaths, mortified by falling into someone's goods, and dazed by a combination of it all.

Cursed... items...? Cash... credit...? Oh no......

She was grabbing on to key words. There was an eerie charisma about it all – enough that she wasn't sure if she was hearing everything right or not. Curses and cheeriness didn't fit side-by-side in her mind.

"...wh-... huh? Oh...." she stammered, finally dragging herself from her fellow cursed-things. She didn't make it to her feet straightaway – just far enough to not be outright laying directly in the potpourri of unspeakable dooms. She winced hard, then opened her eyes, finding the room a little less hazy by her perception.

"...what do I owe?" She asked in a dazed, dreamy sort of gullible dismay.

Winnie processed that she may have caused damages, and as consequence, owed to cover those things. She didn't process that she also owed for the curse that'd been used up – the one that'd hissed the caustic green runes into her skin. A subtle hint of those small markings remained around her wrist as evidence of 'use.'

"'Chance de Hapsburg.'" She languidly murmured his name to try to keep it from dissipating from memory. Life was hard on the floor at the moment, cursed and settling out of a daze.

"I'm Winnie." She stupidly offered. He didn't need her name, he clearly was here to collect for ruined artifacts. But as she mentally steadied, she fell into what felt like a routine. Someone gives their name – you give yours.

She had a slight sense of wind magic – signs of it were playfully obvious about the space, it'd just not been her focus (and she didn't have a lot of focus for currency just yet; if she seemed unimpressed, it was for a lack of mental bandwidth). She gave her head a brief shake, desperate to feel more herself in her own body. Little by little, clarity sharpened.

Which also meant she became more mortified.

Winnie flew up to her feet with a sudden horror. She'd been sitting on the floor in some shady boat shop after falling into items for sale and, she was cursed now?? Die horribly? Bloody death, too? Oh no...! That last thought manifested audibly, though she didn't hear it by her own ears in a brief bloom of panic.

On her feet, her hands flew up side-by-side over her chin. Ah yes, realization shone in horror by her expression now.

"Yes, I'm here to make a purchase – no, but not cursed things...?! I – oh no. So what do I owe? If it's too much, will you accept installments? I only meant to inquire if you had relics to help foster magic? Oh, geez...!"

There was a stream-of-consciousness to her stammering explanations and inquiries; the way someone who tended not to get into trouble spilled their guts with too many words and too little air.

"Wait, mister, you can't let me just horribly die, can you?" She suddenly and candidly lamented. "Do you hear that?" She then jerked into another thought, glancing slightly toward her right.

There was a ringing, a weird, subtle hum she hadn't been aware of before. Maybe it was from the fall? Unfortunately, the cursed idol she'd touched was the source, more clearly translated to her senses by the markings it'd imparted upon her wrist. She then figured that wasn't as important right now, she could better censor what needed to be said and focused on. The fall and this whole awful situation had been jarring.

"I don't want to die. And I do want to pay for any damages." She confirmed. "It might be difficult to do the latter if the former happens, though. Can you help me??"

There was a mix of assertion and bewildered dread to her tone. She was determined not to perish to some horrible curse, and she was determined to see any obligation through. He didn't know her, though, so he might interpret what he experienced of her thus far in any other which way.

"'Infinite cosmic power...?' She repeated something she only then plucked from echoic memory. Winnie looked more hopeful. "So you can help me!"

She sighed obvious relief. The idea of impending doom was reasonably a terrible burden for anyone to carry. She could work out any debt after that, somehow. Not dying was a slightly more critical concern.

God. What an idiot. The whole ordeal had spun her around so much that this assumption by the end had her land on a slightly dazed smile. If this Chance hadn't seen her just fall into a pile of cursed relics, he might think she was a lunatic. Maybe he still did either way.

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Location: Berwyn Harbor, the Unevitable. | Tag: @sele 's Winnie .
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Well! She was a little dazed for a first customer of the day, but Chance wasn't one to a let a little bit of temporary befuddlement stand in the way of a perfectly good arrangement. Especially when it looked like standing any other way was to stand inside the splash zone as it were. She didn't seem to have the right of what happened to her or what she was even doing at this point, but she could still ask questions! And Chance was ever the gentlemen, ready to provide answers to any would be customer brave enough to step board above his vessel and inquire to the amazing and dangerous powers within.

"Aha! Invoices. I am so glad you asked." He dances around the question of what happened to her quite yet, instead choosing to incant and whisper as he uses ambient wind to collect up the cursed idols. They should be all quite inert at this point, what with all of their energies being spent cursing this poor girl for tripping into them like a bowl in a china shop where all of the china was meant to replicate red capes. Still, he had a policy of not touching anything particularly dangerous until he could pull Diamond out of the Curse-cubator long enough to get a read on how powerful they still were. His magics were carefully balanced, with many of the curses effects nullifying each other out. Without careful consideration as to how one negative effect begot another it was entirely possible to end up in a truly miserable state, or explode outright! While he had avoided such a grisly end so far it was always on the forefront of his mind, which is why his carefully posted signage was as much an obvious warning to prospective customers as it was a note to himself to be on guard inside of his place of business. He was dealing in dangerous artifacts and they would demand respect! As such, the winds hum through the gaping maws of enraged carved visages as he swirls and collects them in neat stacks in a box in the back of the room marked 'spent'.

"Well! Winnie. I am not entirely clear on how much you know about my establishment. As a swift refresher- very important to get to the point, yes? Regardless. As a quick refresher. I am Chance de Hapsburg, exiled royal from lands far from here. I have many artifacts under my employ that can provide boosts to your power and your innate ability. You are a magi, yes! Ever care to incinder your enemies? Or perhaps you would like to drown a city block! Rather dreadful that idea, but I do have artifacts that could support the magical levels required! Boosting ones mana, expanding one's repertoire. Why not dabble with elements you've never enchanted before? It's quite an electric feeling, I assure you. As is everything however, there are costs! Metaphorical as well as physical. Allow me to tally." With a popping sound, Chance snaps a single quill and parchment into existence. While it looks like he's apperating the items into being, in truth he's just teleported them from a prepared position in the hold. Much less mana to just take it from somewhere else. "To start with, those lesser statues you bowled into rather suddenly. To summarize each specific curse would take much to much time with the imminent death! So, to quickly blow through it. Essentially they're merfolk rage vessels. Back when they were being wiped out en mass, it became a very common pastime to pray to their old gods and such to enact vengeance upon their enemies! Nooow naturally that didn't work, but it created a lot of malevolent energy within the statuettes. Fortunately for you, they're not godly imbued since that costs FAR more. But they still come in at at around ten thousand each? Give or take a few places when rounding of course. I believe you've sapped the energy of all fifty two! Which is honestly very impressive, I've never seen someone imbibe upon so many curses at once and not instantly combust into flame! They're very simple little curses, actually. A rather poor case of luck will befall you, and you'll experience some kind of shortcoming. Stub your toe, get hit by a car, be decapitated by a flying buzz saw, rather droll things really." He's gesturing with his arm as he speaks ,the quill magically floating along and keeping the total rising up.

"As for the one you touched. That's where things become interesting. Hm...well, to be honest. It's a rather new addition to my collection! I believe it's actually Sarpa in nature- though it could be fey? The jury's still out on that kind of thing you know? My sources do so like to argue about semantics and battlefield lines get so messy over a few centuries of blood and war!" He laughed effortlessly before clapping his hands together. "But! I can tell you that it brands you." He motions to her hand. "With a sort of...If-then clause. Like a computer! Truly, curses have never been so technological. I believe it amplifies the effect of other curses you see. And creates some sort of respondent trigger as a result. Not one of my most beneficial items alone of course, I had intended to offer it as a sort of layaway option when customers wanted to take the power but put off the curse for later...but you go girl! Way to go and strut your eagerness to obtain curses forward. Though you did say you didn't want to die. Oh yes. The not dying. Right. I can help yes! It'll go on your total, naturally. Curse Accommodation is part of the additional services package and extended warranty. Lucky for you I'm feeling charitable enough to sell it to you after you've made your purchase!"

All the while, as he tallies costs and marks the debts. The whirring has grown louder. Grown stronger. Chance hums, and then simply scoops her closer to him by pulling her by the waist. He holds her chest to chest for a few moments before nodding sagely as the noise fades a little. "Hm!" He says without elaborating further as he drags her closer to the same statue that marked her so. The heavy whining that permeated the room faded to blissful silence.

"Yep. You'll definitely die a horrible death if you leave my ship. Multiple in fact! One for each of the lesser statuettes you tumbled into." He tsks, though it's meant to be empathetic. This girl was clearly out of her depth, but he had his own duties to perform. Perhaps they could find an arrangement that they both found beneficial. Given her new affliction, she might just need to get used to being around the shop more. "52 horrible deaths plus the curse trigger idol. Adding them all together...your current total is almost a million dollars! But you're a cute gal, let's call it an even 750,000 eh?" He holds up his fingers to stop her first protest. "Ah. Of course. I must consider your circumstances. I'm a generous man. Half a mil then? Be a doll and follow me up to the register- and do bring the amplifier with you. Or else the terrible deaths and such." With her promptly rewarned, he swoops on some air to behind the register, leaning on it with a wolfish smile as his eyes glow with a dark purple power. "With your damages out of the way- and yes, we can work out an arrangement if it's needed- You said you're looking for something to foster magic? What kind of a boost are you looking for?"

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Location: Berwyn Harbor docks,The Unevitable. | Tag: @TerraBooma 's Chance.
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A swirl of damnation wandered through the winds that'd ethereally picked up around the mess she'd accidentally made. Figurines, amulets, idols of all shapes – they swam through the atmosphere in an orchestrated dance, guided by the magi shop owner's conducting finger flicks. More cognizant of the doom these items represented, Winnie tensed inward to become smaller to minimize her risk of somehow interacting with any of them again. Big nope. HUGE nope.

With her senses a little less scattered about with the formerly toppled artifacts, Winnie better collected her host's dialogue. Chance de Hapsburg. Exiled royal? There was a complicated intimidation about that. Royal? Exiled? Both were laid out like two major arcana on a fortune reading: never simple; always carrying weight. Sometimes – oftentimes – the sorts of weight a person shouldn't want to interact with, at least as far as Winnie was concerned in her interest for a simple life.

She had her own 'major arcana' turned in reverse on her fate, too, though, didn't she? Two now, like this Chance had. The first: her secret inability to cast. The second: becoming massively cursed.

While Chance explained his shop and the cursed possibilities, Winnie jostled her face in a shake toward no when he rhetorically asked if she'd ever wanted to set enemies on fire or drown city blocks.

What DID especially catch her attention, and return a verve to her entire (previously paling) presence was the mention of items for sale that could boost mana and magic access. That's desperately what she needed! Enough so that she pointed at Chance, as though pointing at the idea itself that he proposed. She waved her finger as though she'd stumbled on a wonderful discovery.


But she reeled back into the reality that she was already massively in debt and cursed into oblivion. Her excitement cooled. It went damn near frigid while Chance listed off what she owed and what she'd been cursed by. Degree by degree Winnie returned to the depths of winter.

Lightheaded again at the immense cost of everything, she held on to whatever little positive that seemed waved before her. It'd been a hint of a bizarre compliment – that she could take on so many curses at once and not explode. A very uncertain shadow of a smile vaguely slanted her mouth, though she still looked ill and possibly on the verge of tears. However, Winnie was far too deep into her adventure with dismay to actually manifest tears even if she'd wanted to.

"Can I just stub my toe and get it over with...?" She stammered through her returning haze – now no longer from falling over, but from the incredible weight of her circumstance that she definitely was clear-minded (enough) to begin to better comprehend.

Winnie glanced at her wrist while given information about the branding effect of the more potent relic. She sucked at a gasp, now truly comprehending the subtle runic marks strewn in loop into her skin. It was pale, sulfuric, and ominous. Her wrist hovered at a distance, as though bringing her own hand nearer to the rest of herself would somehow make things worse – like it was contaminated. Well. It was, but maybe just as much as the rest of her now? She had no idea. Still, visibly, that wrist seemed worse than the remainder of herself.

An amplifier to the other curses? Oh nooo...!

Unexpectedly, (perhaps like an experiment on any other cursed thing, though the nature of it unbeknownst to Winnie) she found herself pulled flush against the Shady Underworld Boatman by the waist. Baffled panic set wordless bewilderment tumbling through her cursed-as-hell mind. She didn't process that he'd moved them nearer to the amplifying statue that'd branded her. All Winnie knew was that she was pulled up against some man's chest and became a deer in the headlights – her eyes rounded with just as much emptying-brain confusion.

Protest! Defend your rights, or... something! Chide the impropriety! Nope. Winnie was a few dozen curses beyond collecting her wits for any of that. She was just a wide-eyed splash of red hair and confusion smooshed up to Mister Exiled Royal on a Hell Boat.

Her mental feet landed again on what seemed like logic. Chance 'confirmed' that she'd die many horrible deaths if she left the ship – one for each statuette. She paled further, as though she'd drown in the Berwyn Harbor. Maybe she would if she messed up managing those many curses. Oh no.

Winnie's previously free-floating arms at her sides magnetized around Chance's torso. She was less scared of the Shady Underworld Boatman now than she was of her multitude of curses. And, she didn't have anyone else to hurl a reactive, desperate hug around. It had nothing to do with Chance specifically, and everything to do with a knee jerk desperation for a shred of comfort. Soooo there she was, clinging to the Shady Underworld Boatman as though letting go might drop her straight to Hell directly.

Did her death squeeze hurt his ribs maybe? Possibly. Good luck breathing with the cursed barnacle, Chance. The round-eyed-headlights-deer peered upward. There was a desperate plea made obvious in her light brown stare. There wasn't a particular request made, but did anyone really need to clarify dismay about such a devastating situation?

Her strength drained when he declared the items she'd 'purchased' and their actual, collective cost. Oh, she was a little woozy again, in fact. Absently, her arms slipped. Chance had the opportunity to whisk himself away to his register on a summoned zephyr.

Dazed again, Winnie's logic floundered. She was lured in by the notes of 'charity' and 'generosity,' absently murmuring that that was considerate of him to do (though she couldn't hear her own voice for the stupor she was in).

"Hmn?" She hummed from her haze, then processed and obediently collected her 'purchase,' the amplifying relic. Winnie zombied her way toward the register. What woke her was catching sight o fthe dark purple glint across the Shady Underworld Boatman's eyes. It found her like a splash of cold water, one that chased an ominous chill down the top of her spine.

"Mister Chance..." she began, feeling just how severely short her pockets were to this sum he'd declared she owed to him. The amplifying relic casually settled on the desk between them where she set it. The ugly thing seemed to grin while it joined their company.

"I can't afford all of that.... less so if I can't leave the boat without dying! Even less so if I die randomly to any one of these curses!" She stated her plight, which ultimately proved to also be his plight, too. He'd never get paid if Winnie ceased to exist.

"I don't know what to do... I don't want to die," she began, tallying the point to an extended finger. Extending the next to add it to the count. "You don't get compensated if I die. Oh, and yes, I wanted to boost fire magic." She absently replied to his inquiry, then proceeded with her tally.

"I can't pay you if I can't leave the boat to work. I – "

She paused suddenly, desperate determination rounding her cheeks.


What a horrible idea. But it was all that she could fathom for a solution to the myriad of dire issues. She'd bellowed it as suddenly as Chance had collected her to himself earlier. It'd been meant more as a question for him to consider, but her tone laid it out more like a demand. The poor lunatic squared up and plastered her palms to the desk between them, leaning forward to somehow make herself bigger – the proposal more immediate and necessary.....somehow.

Location: Berwyn Harbor, The Undomitable | Tag: @sele 's Winnie
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It was a whirlwind of conversation, fitting for the cursed wind salesman's gale of a business. Chance had had plenty of interesting interactions with a variety of customers. From the vengeful murderer to the deseperate opiner of love, he'd worked about every angle in the curse business. Whether it was cursing others, getting out of a curse or finding a way to reap the maximized benefit for the minimal payment of any particular cursed item he had seen just about everything you could do and tackled a decent chunk of the challenges that this magical world of theirs could offer.

But Winnie? WIth her myriad of curses and all of them amplified on top of each other? Well that was just going to need to be something curious wasn't it! She seemed to be an inquisitive woman, and she knew what she wanted. What else could you do when such an intriguing woman came sauntering up to your cash register and demanded a position to pay off the absolute mountain of debt she had managed to work up? Well maybe you just decide to give her a job and see how it works out. It helped that she was seemingly making sense.

"Sure? I don't suppose I see why not. It beats trying to find a way to charge you rent to live on my ship..." He trails off, considering things for a little bit. "Well, maybe. We'll see how much effort it is eh? If you keep on taking some of my best stock onto yourself and manage to not instantly explode again, we'll have to figure out some kind of long term arrangement." He snickered, waving off any concern about that happening. He had a feeling Winnie was the kind of woman not looking to get super duper mega cursed a second time. "Regardless! How's this for a compensation package eh? You live on my ship on account of how you'll die if you don't. Food and board, the whole 8 yards! I eat pretty good, though we might have to figure out the bed situation since I've only got the one. I suppose I can always sail over to one of my hideouts...well, I'll figure that out later." He shrugged again, lounging on his register like a snake lounging in the hot summer sun. "Getting back to it- I'll pay you some money to help out make the sales, keep things clean and the like! In turn, you can start working on your debt and if I can get any free time I'll see if I can start working on ways to break at least a few of them. Yknow what they say- somewhere around the 30th instantaneous and painful death they all start to get boring!"

Chance reached into his register and pulled out a small sheet of paper, licking his finger and holding it up to the room. There was a sharper gust of wind and a small blade of air cut his index finger. The barge salesman winces for a moment as his blood drops down onto the paper. "Contract law is such a pain, isn't it? This is something of an invention of mine. Paper that knows what you want! Just a drop of blood, and it'll set the terms that we both find agreeable. Rather nice to skip to the end of the tedious part of negotiations and the like no?" A second gust of wind brings a balmier breeze, and his cut heals up on the spot. "I'll pay you rather handsomely for your work; and this contract will guarantee...we'll call it fair and equitable treatment! Free of mind control, mind worms, mind paralysing agents and other such riffraff. I've always found those control methods rather crude if you ask me personally, they never seem to work out long term yknow? I'd much rather take your word for it. We'll throw in one more instantaneous and quick death if you decide to kill me too, just want to cover our long term options right? You're more than welcome to include a similar clause in your own half of the contract but like you said I don't get paid if you don't get free! And I dooo rather like money." He claps his now healed hands together, pushing the paper towards her. "Oh, yes. Also, just so you know just about everything I use here is cursed. It's mostly more minor effects but I'd keep it away from your newly purchased idol." He shuffled the paper away from her. "This one's pretty harmless. Over the course of your life, you'll sneeze six more times. I can guarantee you'll barely notice the difference. I know I don't." He sniffs, and lets out a small 'achoo' that is somehow far more adorable than her gruffy demeanor would attest.

"In other words...if you're down to work for me? I'm game! Sign the contract, and I'll bring you up to speed on our services. We can figure out the living accommodations and such and prepare you for your first customer." He holds up a hand. "And ah, tell me about this need for magical boosting eh? What makes you need the Chance for a little bit of Enhance? What's your current specalties in magics and the like? Are you a Cinderella or a Genie? Fear not, I'm more than happy to help either kind of clientele. a long as you work for me long enough to earn the boost you need anyway."

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Location: Berwyn Harbor docks, The Unevitable. | Tag: @TerraBooma 's Chance.
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No sane person should have ever wanted to work on a boat with a purveyor of cursed things. A step prior to that: no sane person should fall into a plethora of cursed things and make it impossible to leave said boat without dying.

Winnie's situation was... so incredibly far from ideal, any light 'ideal' might shine couldn't be seen here. Any wrong move might result in numerous, horrible deaths all at once. She was in debt deeper than the harbor. What choice did she have? This wily merchant might also be one of her only hopes to climb out of the tremendous amount of doom upon her.

So, given the variables of the situation, if she was taken on to work on the boat, that was probably the best outcome she could come by.

Only given the extremely bad luck of it all.

Winnie had planted her palms to the desk between herself and Chance, making herself seem bigger by the confidence of her proposal (or rather, merely more eager in her desperation).

She stared, round-eyed and 'unshaken' (or so she said she needed to be in her own head) while Chance weighed his own options against hers.


Well, at least in this new life carrying a billion or so curses all at once. And it was a new life. Winnie was not the same person as she'd been prior to the tumble. How could she be? Though, hadn't she essentially been 'cursed goods' back then, too? Unable to cast, tarnishing her reputable family's name?

In a way, she was somewhat used to existing as 'accursed.' That didn't mean she wanted to carry MORE curses, or DIE.

Now, Chance offered negotiations. Explanations. Posturing toward being truly charitable. She really meant to heed every last detail and bear it to heart – this was her path to salvation, after all.

But desperate, crazed relief rang in her ears and she grinned, lightheaded and with her face going numb. This genuine stupefaction was evidence that she really did wish to live. To do right. She'd endeavor to do her best here, for herself, her debt, and setting everything that she could right.

It was all grand, fanciful thinking without a detailed road map. WHICH, Chance was describing his perspective on how they could functionally proceed, and she'd missed the first half of it while she'd gone slightly dizzy with inundating relief. Well, oops.

The wind that sliced red across one of Chance's index fingers pulled her back. Oh. Contracts. Right. Oh no... what had she missed? The glassy stupor that'd glazed across her eyes diminished to a degree, though now her uncertainty didn't lay in a total air of absence – but that she had just arrived again in the middle of arbitration.

"Okay, right. No mind control. Room & board. Great compensation. Not dying. Or... dying if there's dying. Right." She fumbled through an effort to summarize back to him what she'd vaguely gleaned. She knew it was important. Ohh noo, hopefully this was close to accurate.

"Sneeze?" She echoed of his commentary, obviously apologetically oblivious. She might as well have been standing there with too many things in her arms, dropping valuables here and there for how she let too much slip earlier in the conversation. She'd not meant to!

"Ah, bless you!" She commented as a knee-jerk to his sneeze.

"Oh right, okay, sign the contract! Uhh. I'll clean and tidy, and help sell, and work away at my debt!" She gave rudimentary addition to her summarizing.

She gave a leery glance toward the air, as though it might knife her out of nowhere. Winnie pinched the skin at her thumb between her teeth. ow? But it didn't bleed. She'd not done it well enough – hadn't movies and vampires somehow made that seem easier? Uhh... she chewed at her thumb a little more. With luck, she pulled at a hang nail by chance, and that of course became angry enough to well red.

"So uh... like so.....?" She verbally staggered with the grace of a newborn doe. Meaning: none.

Winnie turned her arm at an awkward angle to tip the inward side of her torn hangnail to the paper. It might have been the most ridiculous pose going into a blood pact in the history of blood pacts.

But it did the trick.

The contract innately blended in her own wishes that'd mesh well enough against his. She wanted to be allowed times of privacy, standard, minimal social norms. Bathroom, changing – those sorts of things. For food and water to be on par with his own desired quality – or at least not toxic to her. Basics.

Winnie wasn't as utterly useless as she seemed, though it might take a lot of proving to make that believable. She'd fallen into a pile of curses, and spiraled farther than even Alice surely ever did through Wonderland. She was glad not to be dead – and to have a path forward.

"Okay... first customer. Right." She agreed to the ambiguous note about preparing her for an encounter with some potential buyer. It was more to show she was actually following along this time.

And then, she reclaimed that stupefied gloss over her eyes as she stared at Chance. She must have just been hearing things, or hearing things strangely.

The Chance for a little bit of Enhance?

She blamed the depths of cringe on her own lightheaded game of catch-up, so she replied as quietly and matter-of-factly as if he'd been plain and serious all along.

"Oh...well." Her mind was suddenly blank.

Blank in that way with immense gravity. She knew she needed to think of a way to reply without blatantly telling anyone she might completely lack access to magic – that was desperately dangerous to let out.


What could she possibly say? What on earth could she possibly suggest? She was doomed. More doomed, really.

"...think it'd be dangerous to try any enhancements.....right now....."

She'd slowly stammered on. Perhaps it'd be taken as uneasy caution. It was just the poor wretch feeling out for any plausible excuse. And then it blossomed in her mind.

"-... because... I was born to fire, but. I'm afraid casting of any kind might cause a destructive reaction through... all of my curses?" She'd meant to sound confident, but it'd still rounded out like a question.

"Yeah. I can't cast anything. I might blow us both up and everything you own, and then you'd get no money – worse than no money even. So, I absolutely will never cast. I'll do everything manually!"

Despite her horrible situation, she felt a gleam of pride glint in that moment. It seemed like a really solid excuse.

"So we should figure out living arrangements!" She pressed next, more assured, though she didn't wear 'boisterous' very well. Not confidently, not charismatically. Just... with an odd sort of friendly cheer.

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If you considered 'having the most curses on you at once but not actually succumbing to all of the ways they want to murder you' to be a value of luck, Winnie was in fact incredibly lucky. Chance kept his shop fairly organized save for the importance of cross-merchandizing and occasionally forgetting where some things were, but the fact that Winnie had managed to stumble into the amplifier had perhaps saved her life. The merfolk vengeance idols were not particularly complicated curses on their own- whoever touched them became fated to suffer an instantaneous death at the closest fate that was inscribed on the idol itself. The amplifier added a trigger condition, and while Chance admittedly wasn't sure on what exactly it was, given that it hadn't blown the both of them up immediately and that terrible sound when she moved away from it was fairly evident that the shop would have to be safe keepings. To take on so many curses and not die on the spot did prove some measure of magical potential, so Chance chalked up her refusal to cast anything as she suggested it- the sage advice of a power hungry adept who had enough wherewithal to not push her luck after rolling snake eyes a few dozen times. Walking away from the table after you lost all your money, but before you bet your shirt. It was a respectable approach! Even if he personally believed in the value of a well timed comeback with the power of the universe's karma at his backside like a wind to catch the sails of fortune itself.

He had waited patiently, hands clasped in a classic businessman pose that would surely put any customer or employee to be at ease. He had met many underground dealers who were fond of using curses and contracts to get one over on their customers. Selling a dash of enslavement with a sprinkling of selling your soul. He had never seen the appeal; if you took someone for everything they had how would you ever get repeat customers! The curse buisiness was booming if you had the right contacts, and people were rarely ever satisfied with simply a taste of whatever they were after. Give them whatever they wanted to help them on their way and bim bam bop you were rolling in the money! Charging the appropriate prices for the appopriate clientele of course- discretionate services at discretionate prices. His papers were enchanted to get the terms out on the table in equal measure, so the spirit of the law might be enforced simply rather than letting someone wiggle around and get a gotcha after you. The most important thing to remember was that after handing someone a door knocker that could kill anyone it touched, that you perhaps did not want to be on their bad side!

"So you're a heatseeker huh? A flash in the pan? A Heat that can't be beat? Fair enough. You might have noticed, but I'm something of a wind dabbler myself." In what is obviously a demonstration of his powers, Chance utters a swift incantation and falls backwards; a surge of wind carries him up over the register instead, tumbling him head over heels to stand by her side. "I'm quite the expert myself, but using curses gives you quite the edge. First rule of dealing with curses- whoever designed these things never considered what would happen if you jumbled it up with another one. Take these rings for example." He flickered his hand, showing two rings with rubies glimmering with a slightly sinister tone. "One of them grants the user near bottomless reserves of mana, but ages you with every incantation spent! The other? Keeps you feeling fresh and athletic, but makes you younger with every passing day! And what my new-dutiful assistant would the result of combining these curses be?" He paused, holding a finger out and expected her to answer- though he quickly moved on regardless of what she said.

"That's the name of the game here! Take a Chance to Enhance." He was proud of that one. More than he should have been. "And everything comes up curtains. Now naturally, we also deal in the more classic fair. Sometimes you really just need to...as they say...Hex a bitch, yes? Various ranges and threats according with price levels. That sort of thing. We'll save that for training day though!" He hummed playfully to himself, and walked over to a hatch on the floor not far from where Winnie had tripped. He spat on his hands, flexing dramatically for her for a moment before bending down and chanting another spell- the wind in the room picked up as he went to try and unlodge the trap door he suspected stuck, only for it to fly open as if nothing was wrong with it in the first place. As a result, Chance zipped *up* with an 'oop!' as he basically flew directly up into the roof with a small clang. A second thud echoed as he crashed back to the floor, but aside from a small 'oof' the merchant seemed particularly unphased with his blunt force impacts. "My! It's acting up today. My apologies dear Winnie. That said, let me show you the living quarters and we can sort out how you'll be sleeping and the like."

With another hum, chance toppled himself down the hatch into the stowed area below. He wait for Winnie, looking around with a soft hrmm as he considered their surroundings. "It will be slightly tricky. I've never had to room for another you see." He scratched his chin, leaning back against the bulkhead of the ship as he surveyed his little kingdom.

"Ah! Yes. A small problem. Budgets and all that. I usually save money by keeping the lights off- I'm not terribly sure that they actually work right now. So you may need to stumble around as you familiarize yourself. You're quite sure you're not willing to risk a flicker spell to give us a light?" He'd wait for her answer before shrugging. "Fortunately it's basic enough, I'll keep it going for now." With a quick flick of his finger, a small light would appear just behind Winnie's head. It was a child's magic- even for someone specializing in a different element.

With an actual view of the hold, Winnie could see that things were...not particularly great. Chance had been living alone for ages, and he was what one might enthusiastically call 'bacching' it. Dishes littered the floor and leftovers cluttered some of the few areas where you could put things down in the room. On one end of the ship was his workshop- the Curse Rewinding trunk and a few trinkets and stuff he was working on haphazardly scattered onto the floor. His living quarters were nicer, but not by much. Clothes scattered around the place, and a shoddy TV setup was currently recording some soap opera or another. There was a single loveseat kicked out next to a table with a fruit bowl on it, and his bed further along next to a door labeled 'BATHROOM!!!' The bed was unmade and the blankets had been haphazardly blown around the room. The same wind magic Chance used to escape the consequences of his messes likely seemed to just kind of...make things worse as a result of air constantly buffering things around the place. It was an absolute disaster zone!

"Do watch the floors, yes? I mostly just float around, so I'm not sure if they're very navigatable without such magics." (They weren't.)

For exiled royalty of Austrio-Normandy, Chance didn't clean up after himself. Although maybe this was why things were so messy? Either way it seemed like Winnie had a lot of work ahead of her...


Location: Berwyn Harbor docks, The Unevitable. | Tag: @TerraBooma 's Chance.
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"So you're a heatseeker huh?"

"I... uh....-"

"A flash in the pan?"

"-...er, mm-"

"A Heat that can't be beat?"

Winnie's contorted words slow-twisted away any actual meaning or conclusion. Similarly to how her fingers intertwined and awkwardly bent against each other for a moment. Oh yeah. Check out that eternal flame burning steady, sure, and bright.

When asked what combining two cursed rings with some positive payouts might do, Winnie envisioned someone going into a coma. A stasis, trapped by the tug-of-war between youth and aging caused by the two rings. A fit, mana-abundant person in an eternal stasis. Perhaps her magical perspective cup was half empty rather than half full.

"An immortal coma...?" She hummed her theory, once again, making a statement rise like an uncertain question.

Though it didn't matter, because Chance had carried on again about the nature of his business. She nodded. It didn't really matter what those rings did, did it? She was already cursed to hell and back, and she had a job to do to fulfill her side of the bargain. Determined, she listened and absorbed the best she could of... this bizarre tutorial.

Oh, and then he was tumbling over to stand beside her after a chaotic spill from a sudden gust he'd called. It wasn't the magic that startled her but the unexpected use and immediate proximity it'd manifested. She became more determined to try and behave mechanically – absorb and show she was absorbing. Winnie stiffened straighter, coming to some semblance of militaristic attention.

"'Take a Chance. To Enhance.'" She repeated solemnly and nodded once, as though punctuating the notes she was taking out loud. "'Hex a...bitch,'" she repeated this, too, but whispered the latter after a brief hesitation.

Aaaand then Chance crashed into the ceiling, startling Winnie out of her feeble attempt to stand at such focused attention. She startled back enough that the way air flared through the ends of her auburn hair and bloomed the red hem of her long skirt by a small breath, it might have seemed she had some influence over the wind, too.

Alas, her only influence in that matter was the consequence of jitters.

The back of her heel grazed another idol – adrenaline dumped hot and cold chills to chase up and down her spine at the realization. Careful, she (apologetically) shuffled forward, away. The busty figurine teetered. Did something cackle? Exhale a sigh?

No, no no. She was just jumpy and scaring herself, she decided. Determined. Alright, praaaayed.

"Quite sure!" She shrilled suddenly, confirming that she would not, in fact, dare use any fire magic while so heavily cursed. That was the ONLY reason, of course. Not that she hadn't ever been able to tap into familial Ignus potential or anything. No no. Just the curses. Safety first in the workplace...!

Winnie was on edge – she had a plethora of reasons (and curses) to be so. She registered that Chance blithely carried on about no lights, but she hadn't processed it properly yet. Nod nod nod.

But what an actual disgusting place! Dangerous, dark, barely functional, neglected, in miserable, cramp disarray! These realities settled in like curses themselves. She was really trying to hold it together and soldier on. But each new facet of the place screamed or cackled with chaos.

"Chance! This place is such a-"

She finally had reached her final straw when she stared at dishes and leftovers populating a particular corner beyond the rest of the disaster. She'd even stamped a foot down to give emphasis to standing up for herself, for placing a boundary for the bare minimum basics of sanitary living.

That bizarre, haunting sigh that she'd thought she'd heard – and dismissed – roused more sensuous within her mind. As though she had suddenly been caught fantasizing about something incredibly erotic. The idol her heel had bumped toppled over and diminished into a fine, silvery silt – then nothingness.

The weather had shifted, though not by Chance's hand this time. Winnie hadn't become possessed, intoxicated, or anything else that could truly be called mood or mind-altering. The brutal reality was, the idol had amplified any and all of her most buried desires, even the many she hadn't a notion she'd possessed. She'd not previously given excessive time to wanton daydreaming.

Which maybe made it worse.

Winnie's cheeks warmed, and whatever insult she intended to (politely) give about the messy nightmare of a boat dizzied away. She blinked against the slight sense of spin she felt behind her eyes. Her glance went hazy, following imagined things as though they were manifest before her. Her lips parted, slowly from center outward – in a way that suggested an indecent yearning.

Winnie's gaze refocused, looking for something. They homed in on Chance. Her expression had to be something new to him about her – if he'd realize it or not carrying on so much about himself.

The studious dormouse of a (secretly) magic-less mage didn't care about any of the setting. Any of the mess, disaster, health hazards, or anything else she'd just been about to protest. Blah blah blah he said something about floors. She didn't even truly hear it.

Winnie pounced at Chance with both hands leading the leap.