Love Potions


Love Potions

Postby MyopicDinobird » March 7th, 2019, 10:43:09 am

Author's notes: So I just returned to Magistream after several years, and I completed the black market quest something like the day before the event started. never got to buy anything. So I didn't exactly know much about anything, and I kind of just went straight to writing without doing any research? So, yeah, it doesn't fit too much with any clues or posts from the atruim or anything, I sort of just got inspired by the quest itself and thought I would do my best to write a good story, even though it might raise more question than it answers.
I hope you enjoy!


Alethin slips into a chair at the bar, moving as fluidly as his snake does, placing his arm on the counter. He orders a drink without taking his eyes off the doorway, and Remy serves it with the best poker face he can muster and only places it on the counter a little bit harder than he otherwise would have.
Alethin pays no mind. He takes the drink, still not even looking Remy’s way, and sips it, still staring at the door. He’s wearing grey clothes, less dramatic than his usual flowing cape, but the hood of his cloak and the pale of his skin makes him recognizable to anyone who knows who he is. Adela is nowhere to be seen, but Remy knows she is there. Hidden in the folds of the cloak, he presumes. Leeching off the warmth of Alethin’s body. Remy doesn’t want to dislike any creature -- being a magi means appreciation for all life around them, be it cute and fluffy or dark and scaly -- but the memory of being young and impressionable and feeling a cold, reptilian body slither up under your sheets has left an everlasting impression. Young Alethin’s favourite prank. He’d sit in the open window, one leg dangling over the edge, laughing so hard Remy would worry he was going to fall to his death.
Scared of snakes, Alethin would taunt.
Remy has nothing against snakes. He has something against this snake.
Alethin still doesn’t take his eyes off the door, sipping his drink, clearly not present in the moment. He is still like a cobra in wait, but Remy can see how his jaw muscles twitch, even under the hood. He’s nervous.
Alethin would never do business out in the open like this. It’s too risky. Risky enough to make an old tell show again. Just like he would twitch way back then, at the Keep, before a test, when he suspected the teachers might have found him out.
It’s not cheating, Alethin had argued, I’m still doing what the asked me to, just with different methods. Shouldn’t a magi be able to adapt and think for himself? I am just challenging myself, is all. If nobody finds out, I must be smarter than them. Doesn't that mean I should get to pass?
Remy pours a drink for another customer, slides it to them, for a moment regaining his smile as he does, but it quickly gives way to gloom again.
He walks over to where Alethin sits, stands with his side to him, grabs a glass and pretends he is polishing it and only doing that.
“I’ve told you, I don’t want your business anywhere near my inn,” Remy says, voice low. “It’s bad enough that you come here at all.”
Finally, Alethin glances over. His pose changes ever so slightly, turning to rest more casually against the counter, still with an eye on the door.
“Why, what business might you speak of, innkeeper?” he asks.
It’s the same elegant, smooth talk as it has always been, silken words masking the edge of mischief from anyone who doesn’t know him well. He’s changed so much, and yet not at all.
“Drop the act, Hanien.”
Alethin lifts an eyebrow and turns his head ever so slightly.
“Hanien? Come on, now. You must know it’s Alethin by now.”
“You change names more often than I change undergarments,” Remy says dryly.
“Do your laundry, Remy,” Alethin says. “Honestly, I’m hurt. It’s at least a month since I was Hanien. Sometimes I wonder if you even care.”
The tilt in his voice makes Remy wish, for the hundredth time, that Alethin had used his way with words for the theater instead of for slipping through the gaps in the law. Perhaps then, they would have still been friends.
“What kind of illegal wares are you hiding under those robes, Alethin,” Remy says, trying and failing to not sound too hostile.
Alethin’s jaw twitches. One finger tenses around the glass.
“Excuse me?” he says. “What exactly are you accusing me of?”
“Alethin,” Remy says, and this time, he sounds more tired than anything. “... stop coming here.”
Alethin looks to the side for just a second, cold eyes glaring at Remy.
“I don’t think you can tell me that, innkeeper. Throwing me out based on false claims? There has to be rules against that.”
“I’m sure you’d love to attract attention by making a complaint,” Remy says, and then he puts down the glass he was polishing and moves along the counter to serve for a new guest.
He recommends the cider, great for the chilly nights, and pours two drinks. Then he takes a round to gather empty glasses, trying to ignore the unwelcome guest at the bar, but he can’t help glancing over. It’s like a pebble in his shoe.
When he’s back behind the counter, his patience has run out. The chatter of the inn masks his words when he goes over to Alethin - who is still staring at the bloody door - and hisses:
“I do not want you here, I do not want you doing your business here, I do not want my name soiled by whatever it is you’re doing --”
Alethin looks over, and there’s something glimmering in his eyes that Remy can’t quite place.
“Is it so unbelievable that I’m just getting myself a drink?” he asks, softly.
Remy scowls, an unusual expression on a face whose nature is smiling.
“Your ale is the best in the land,” Alethin says and takes a sip. “Trust me - I’ve tasted quite a few drinks, some good and some horrible, but it’s never the same, you know. The taste of home?”
“Don’t try with your flatteries --”
“First off, I never flatter. And you know it's the truth.”
Remy’s mouth becomes a thin line. He does know -- Alethin is far from the first to have told him. But it’s strange to hear it from him, still.
The sounds around them muffle and the air flickers with magic, and Remy looks around, ready to counter, but all Alethin does is shield their conversation from listening ears.
“I don’t understand your apprehension for my sales,” Alethin says, “but whatever tainted business you imply I am participating in, there is nothing around your inn. All I want is a drink. Is that truly such a crime?”
“A drink paid with money you gain from smuggling illegal creatures,” Remy hisses.
“And who told you that?” Alethin says with a lifted eyebrow. Remy hesitates for a second, and Alethin smiles ever so slightly. “Malicious rumours, Remy. I am just a magi, like any other.” He looks over again for a fraction of a second, making intense eye contact, and lowers his voice, even though nobody around them would be able to hear him through the spell anyway. “Have you never wanted something you couldn’t get, Remy? Have the laws never gotten in the way of you doing something completely harmless?”
“Yes, and I restrain myself and follow the laws. Like any reasonable person would,” Remy bites back, staring with burning eyes.
He hates how Alethin can get on his nerves and under his skin. It was fun when they were young, now that they’re older it only serves to make Remy’s skin crawl.
“Following the laws blindly without even thinking for yourself,” Alethin says.
“Get out of my inn,” Remy hisses.
For the first time that night, Alethin turns to face Remy fully.
“Really? Is there no bargain I can make?” he asks.
“No,” Remy says resolutely and turns to walk away.
“Remy,” Alethin says, and Remy stops, giving him an impatient look. “Look. Listen to me. All I want in return is to buy a drink at your inn now and again. I will pretend I have no idea who you are if that’s what you want.” He sees Remy hesitate for a second and tries one last time: “Come on. Don’t make an old friend drink at the trading post.”
Alethin thinks the tension, the flickering of Remy’s eyes, is at the temptation of a bargain, not because of memories of the past.
“I can get you most anything,” Alethin says.
“I have nothing I want of the sort,” Remy says.
“Nothing? Truly? Even you must have something you long for in this life.”
Remy ignores his subtle jab.
“You are the one who gets seduced by gold, not me.”
“Not everything can be bought with money, Remy,” Alethin says. “Now I’m giving you the chance to buy it anyway.”
A thought stirs in Remy’s mind. He doesn’t like it. He stares over at Alethin. Alethin, who used to stick with him through thick and thin. Alethin who would keep him up all night with his ridiculous shenanigans, to the point where Remy would fall asleep in class the next day. Alethin, who kept sticking around to hang out with Remy, even though he claimed him to be a bore and a goody two-shoes and later on, a coward and scaredycat. Alethin, who wrote letters almost weekly when Remy went to travel to learn from older and more experienced magi … and who then stopped, after half a year, when he began travelling on his own.
When they met again, he had found the glory of gold and brought home with him his first handful of creature eggs never meant to leave the borders of Ageti. A small offense, but bad enough. There had been a fight. And now … now they’re this.
“A love potion,” Remy says.
He stares intently at Alethin’s face, trying to read his reaction.
Alethin only lifts an eyebrow.
“Really? I never took you for the type to buy … illegal substances.”
“I didn’t know you sold anything legal,” Remy bites back.
“Illegal to sell, old friend,” Alethin says. “Not illegal to use, or even to own. But,” he says with a swoop of a hand, “nothing is too rare a bargain for Remy’s ale.”
Remy opens his mouth, but in the same split second, the spell is undone, the chatter of the inn comes rushing back and Remy realizes what a risky conversation that was to have in public, even with a spell in place. He had gotten caught up in the moment, Alethin dragging him into the old song and dance, the bargain, the mischief, and Remy had for a second forgotten who he is and what life he lives. Hopefully Alethin knows his spells. Otherwise, Remy might have shattered his own image more quickly and thoroughly than Alethin’s regular shady business ever could.
Remy looks up just in time to see a dark grey cloak disappear into the crowd. The empty glass on the counter is the only proof left that Alethin was ever there.
At least he's out.
But Remy still has a sour taste in his mouth.
Remy takes the glass while staring after Alethin.
A lifted eyebrow. That was all. What did he expect? It's been years since they fought and even longer since they were friends. Remy stares at the doorway. Alethin is a realist. He's never been one for sentimentality, never tied down. To think that he would care even in the slightest of what Remy does … Remy sets his teeth. He had been caught up in the past. He hadn't thought. He brought himself and his reputation in danger so he could try and make a stab at a soft spot on a person who doesn't exist anymore.
“Hey!” someone says and knocks their fist on the counter. “Did someone put cotton in yer ears or what?”
The customer waves impatiently.
“I’m sorry,” Remy says and quickly moves over. “Some kids played a prank on me,” he lies. “My ears have been hearing cow bells all day.”
The customer looks puzzled, but then laughs.
“Well, hope it wears off soon, but my drink can’t wait that long!”
Remy smiles and takes the customer’s glass to refill. His chipper smile is back, only a bit of darkness still resting in the back of his mind.
“Shouldn’t be more than a few hours,” Remy says.
It’s no problem making the story believable. He’s endured those cow bells way too many times in his youth.
For a fraction of a second, the memory brings a streak of bitterness to his smile.

The inn closes, and it's first when Remy goes to his private chambers to get ready for bed that the real issue strikes him. If word gets out, or even a rumor, that he's dealing in love potions of all things … Remy frowns, sneers at himself. Who cares about Alethin? Remy has a good life, a good inn, good friends, and now that's been jeopardized by sentimentality and of memories of the past. Over a person who, quite frankly, isn't worth any of it.
Remy shakes his head.
Done is done. All he can do now is damage control. He has to make sure those potions never even get near his inn.

I see an egg, I click an egg
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