Take a look, it's in a book

(OOC: For Mal and Lilly)

In the vast wide world of St. Canard, with no apparent end of people with powers or who could otherwise use magic, Lilly knew four. Which didn't sound like a lot, except for the fact that anyone who wasn't a caped crusader, magic user, incredibly lucky or incredibly UNlucky, would be hard pressed to know more than one, if that at all.

Normals and magic were not a Venn diagram with a very large intersection.

In the circumstances, it made perfect sense that nobody believed she had magic books. Unless they were books about illusions and magic tricks. Not a book she'd been kindly told not to unstrap because it tended to try and eat its readers, or one that made a whispering noise she wasn't sure she should be listening to if she got too close.

OR the one that was completely blank but filled her with such a sense of existential dread that she closed it immediately.

There was also a very slim one with 'Student's Copy' stamped on the front. The paper dust jacket, which was frayed and dirty at the edges, had a picture of the cover of another book on it, a leatherbound tome with a screaming face that seemed molded onto the front. She'd flipped through it but couldn't understand the language.

There was no market for these. So she should most likely have taken them to Mambo. Or shown them to Ariana or Briar. They might have liked them. Or told her they were dangerous and helped her dispose of them.

But no. She had shown up at Malicia's place, with a tote bag of four possibly malicious books, a small box of blueberry muffins, and a happy, hopeful expression on her face.

    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

      She was greeted by the overwhelming shadow of a three-headed dog the size of an elephant. It towered above her threateningly, lips curled back and then.

      ....A happy playbow! Oh hi! We like this lady! She seems nice!

      When Malicia finally got to the door to greet her would-be guest, she wasn't expecting to find her hell beast on his back, belly exposed and ready for a rub. 

      "Pringles!" She snapped irritably. "What have I told you about making friends with trespassers?"

      When she cast a glance at Lilly she nearly did a double-take and then jumped backwards in horror. Gah! The Hugger is back! 

      • Lilly Teal
        Lilly Teal

        "Oh is his name Pringles?" Lilly said brightly as she petted his stomach vigorously. "Who's a good boy?! Who's a good... boys? Boy? He's one boy technically right?"

        Mal's horrified reaction was paid absolutely no mind. She must have been expecting someone else and was startled. Of course that was the case. So Lilly just came in for a hug.

        "It's so nice to see you again! Are you keeping well? And what a sweet dog you have Miss Malicia I've... um, never seen one quite like it."

        • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
          Queen Malicia of St. Canard

          Maybe if I stand perfectly still it won't sense my movement and go away.

          Nooope, that did not work. She stiffened under the full body squeeze, and through gritted teeth managed to squeak out a, "To what do I owe this visit to my humble abode?" 

          Because if I have to tolerate non-sexy touching it best be worth my time!

          • Lilly Teal
            Lilly Teal

            Sadly Lilly did not behave as much like a T-Rex as Malicia was hoping. She was oblivious to the reception of the hug, or the fact that the taller woman didn't hug back, but thankfully didn't prolong it.

            In a relative sense. For Malicia it must have felt like eternity before the duckette pulled away, still beaming with the same kind of wide-eyed delight Pringles had, and would probably respond to head-pats in much the same way.

            Pat her head Malicia. Go on, give it a try, where's the harm? She doesn't bite.

            "I hope I'm not interrupting anything. I wanted to see you again! Aaaaaaaand," she held up the box, "to give you these blueberry muffins I made. They're a bit lopsided but they taste good! Aaaaaaaaaand," lifting the tote bag, "brought you some books! You remember, we were talking about the bookshop the last time we really met. I was telling you about some magicy books I had but then things got a little hectic..."

            To say the least.

            "Anyway, since you're a magic lady, er, user? And you've been so nice to me I thought to myself 'I have no idea what these are, but Malicia might like them'."

            Do you? Do you? Did I do good?!

            • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
              Queen Malicia of St. Canard

              Blank stare.

              "There's no haunted puppets hidden somewhere in these books or blueberries is there?" 

              Because that was a serious trip. 

              Slowly, cautiously, she reached out and took both the muffins and the books. The former she munched on almost immediately (if there were any lurking energy demons might as well just eat 'em) as she turned the books over in her hands.

              "I am sensing... some manner of foreign energy from at least one of these books. The rest ar-" She stopped dead. "Wait did you say I was 'nice'?"

              She sighed. A long, drawn-out tired-of-life sigh.

              "You haven't told anyone that, have you? I am JUST starting to gain a reputation, you know!"

              • Lilly Teal
                Lilly Teal

                "I haven't told anyone." Though why you'd want to keep it a secret is beyond me. "Oh, are you trying to cultivate a serious businesswoman's reputation? Because I can see why people saying you're nice might not help with that," she said with a sage nod. From one businesswoman to the other.

                "I won't spread it around, I promise. But you have been. You helped me with that horrible puppet, for one. And at that big party where I only really knew Oz and Gladstone you came over to talk to us. And obviously someone as glamorous as you didn't have to, but you did, even though you probably had so many other people to talk to. And that was kind. So. Um."

                She shuffled her feet a little, watching as the muffins were engulfed.

                "So I wanted to do something nice for you. I promise there aren't any ghosts in the muffins. Do they taste nice?"

                • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                  Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                  Good God, this woman was practically sweating rainbows. The amount of positive energy caused Mal's stomach to lurch, and she set down the muffins momentarily.

                  "Yes. Businesswoman. Let's go with that." 

                  Her attention back on the books now, it was the student copy of a particular textbook that captured her attention.

                  "Hold on... is this..."

                  She flipped open the first page and the agonizing cry of a million tortured undead writhing and swirling in an eternal vortex of suffering sounded from somewhere inside.

                  She slammed it shut again, and the million voices were suddenly silenced. 

                  "How in the WORLD did a Normal like you get your hands on this??"

                  • Lilly Teal
                    Lilly Teal

                    Oh dear, that hadn't happened when she'd opened it the first time. Maybe she'd been doing it wrong.

                    It took a moment to recover from how much that shook her (just as WELL it hadn't happened the first time), but once she was back to herself she gave the book a cautious look.

                    "A young man came in to the shop a few days ago with an armful of books. He said they were taking up space and if they were worth anything it'd help with his student loans. I couldn't really offer him much because I wasn't sure who would even want to buy them but nobody else was taking them and he really wanted to clear out his things. I don't remember much about him. Black hood, low over his face."

                    Ah yes and that didn't strike you as suspicious at all?

                    "Very polite."

                    That explains it.

                    "But I know a few people interested in magic, like you, so I gave him a little, not as much as he was hoping I'm sure, and he left them at the shop!"

                    • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                      Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                      Mal could only shake her head. Unbelievable.

                      But.

                      BUT.

                      Perhaps a 'friendship' with this woman could be useful. After all, Lilly had said it herself: She was handed over potential volatile magical items and her first instinct was to bring them to Malicia. What other goodies could this Normal bring her? (aside from what were in fact incredibly delicious blueberry muffins, which Mal was once again consuming at rapid pace). 

                      She'd just have to... ergh... tolerate niceness. But Malicia was a queen of deception! A lady of lies! A mistress of misrepresentation! She could pull this off, easy-peasy.

                      "Well I truly appreciate the kindness, Normal." She smiled, which of course revealed that row of razor sharp teeth. Not suspicious at all!

                      "Why don't you." Cringe. "Come inside, and we can chat for a little while longer. If you're not terribly busy, that is." 

                      Run Lilly. 

                      • Lilly Teal
                        Lilly Teal

                        "It's Lilly," Lilly said helpfully, apparently under the assumption that 'Normal' was just a substitute because Malicia couldn't remember her name. "And that's so kind of you! I would love it."

                        I was honestly hoping you'd have invited me in properly before now to be honest! Giving Pringles another vigorous belly-rub by way of a 'see you soon', with much cooing and fussing, she followed the demoness inside. "He's such a darling dog. Does he get many playdates? I have a pet of my own, Pringles might like to play with him. Javert is such an old softie."

                        Y... yeah. Let's go with that.

                        "Soooo," she went on, bouncing with curiosity. "Do you know anything about what these books are? They're a bit," she dropped her voice low, "creepy."

                        • Queen Malicia of St. Canard
                          Queen Malicia of St. Canard

                          "I have an inkling, yes." With the last of the muffins finished off she licked the crumbs from her bill as Lilly trailed behind her into Malicia's spell room. It was exactly as one might picture a witch's work-space, except perhaps for the multitude of mirrors and portraits of Malicia herself. And the mason jars full of strange glowing orbs lining several shelves, all labelled with various descriptors like "High school ex" and "Elvis".

                          She set the books down on her worktable and took a step back.

                          "It's likely there's some magical residue on them from sitting around unused for so long. I'll need to discharge it before we can really take a proper peek inside. You may want to... take cover." 

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