At the Rockfort Circus, later that night on the 2nd Day of the Festival, in a Dream London has created
After being sure Locke was passed out like usual and checking their surroundings one more time London takes a deep breath to start. Weaving the spell is both familiar and yet it has a feeling London would rather push to the back of their mind. She’s still all too used to being on the receiving end of the spell. They settle into a cross legged position, comfortable and similar to meditation as they cast the Dream spell, and a sparkle of magic trickles like rainfall for a brief moment before reaching out with their mind.
Talmage’s name and image clear in London’s mind there’s a brief smile underneath their veil as they find Talmage’s dream, take it and twist it. If Talmage was dreaming, whatever he may have been is replaced by a beautiful garden scene, scents of summertime, and spice from the tea steaming on the garden table between them. London has crafted it so they are seated there at the table, London across from Talmage. The tea is held by a beautiful black and silver tea set that London has crafted for the dream, and they’ve chosen to appear as they are, still in full plate and move to be setting everything up for her guest, just as she was taught so long ago.
“Do you take it with cream or sugar?” comes the playful question.
Talmage is … confused. A garden makes sense – he was just looking for flowers – but he’s pretty sure it was supposed to be dark out? The bright sunlight reflecting off an already-prepared tea set only troubles him further. Had they already made the tea? He doesn’t remember making it. Where—
“I don’t drink tea during the day,” he mutters to himself, seconds before startling at the unfamiliar voice that speaks up. His shoulders tense before his brain catches up with him.
“Oh.” Right. Their date. He takes a moment to survey the scene again, this time with the assumption that the environment is being altered magically. Interesting. “Both?” he replies.
London tips their head to the side, amusement hidden but the sound they make is enough to express it. “Would you prefer it to be night?” they wave their hand nonchalantly and the environment changes to suit their whim, the once bright sunlight now replaced with bright moonlight, enough to see perfectly and the sky is filled what seems to be countless stars.
They fix the tea with cream and sugar, and hand it over, settling back into their chair. “I assume you have questions? I have a few to ask myself and it would be rather unfair if I was the only one doing the asking. Would you like me to ask first or would you rather start?” They fix their own cup in front of them as they speak. “And I should mention, this is a private conversation of course. No one can listen in. It’s our own private dream so you don’t have to worry.”
Talmage feels a little embarrassed at the scene change, but goes along with it. “Uh, sure, I guess,” he says, pretending not to care either way.
He takes the cup and analyzes it. Dream tea? Could London make it taste however they wanted it to, being in charge of the entire dream? Can Talmage even remember ever being able to taste something in a dream? His mind races with pointless queries.
“Right, uh.” Questions. He definitely has them. He tries to jog his foggy memory, searching for something not immediately probing. “You– uh. Can make anything in here, yeah? How’d you learn to do it?”
They take a drink, it’s a nostalgic flavor of black tea, with just a hint of orange. “I can make anything,” they confirm, “Places, sounds, tastes, et cetera, people,” they add the last part and wave a hand. There’s now a perfect image of Rocco there with them. “It’s not really Rocco, just my interpretation of him.”
Rocco’s face has a somewhat comical angry face, similar to a pout.
The second part of the question takes a moment to answer. “I learned by example, I’ve been on the receiving end of this spell many times,” their earlier thought comes easily to her lips and it surprises her. “It comes naturally, my magic I mean.” There’s a moment where they think about saying more on it but instead follow up with. “I have a very close connection with the deity of Stars.” As they say this they lay a hand over their chest.
Rocco’s sudden presence is a little off-putting, if he’s being honest. He wasn’t expecting to dream about his new look so soon.
Talmage sips at his tea, very aware of its taste being fabricated but unable to deny how good it is.
“Right …” he says, almost coming off as disbelieving. “Are they also why you can– You said you can heal? Or that you were a doctor?” His face twists, unable to remember which it was.
They set their cup down and nod but it’s a little hard to tell with the veil still covering their face. “I can heal, but I was technically a doctor before I could do that. So, both, to answer your question. I say they are my…deity, but it wasn’t really like that to me. Still isn’t. But it’s just an easy way of explaining things to all of you.” They paused in the middle around the word deity as if they needed a second to find the right word that would make sense to Talmage.
“I’m really curious about your magic though, were you taught? I am still getting used to people not outright using their magic but yours is fascinating.” London hadn’t experienced magic of that sort, and it was interesting. “And then I had questions about Ares and Vivienne.”
“Okay, so less … worshippy, more partnershippy,” he mutters. If you had told him two years ago that there were this many people wandering around with “It’s Complicated” relationships with literal deities, he would have laughed at you.
The question about his magic throws him off, as usual. “Oh, I sort of– I mean, I attended some … classes, but I can’t cast a lot of that shit anymore thanks to this–” He prods at his own neck, assuming the thin, white line of his Vale mark is visible to London. (As well as assuming that they would understand what it means.)
“Now I just use what I taught myself.” He smirks, thinking back to his sick prank earlier that evening. “You got a Talmage Original.™” (edited)
Behind the veil their eyes narrow at the prodding Talmage does to his neck. They have more questions, but figure they can pry it out of their new companions at a later time. Instead they laugh when the pink tiefling finishes their explanation of magic. “It was funny,” London responds, and it was. “I knew you were there, I was curious to see what you’d do.”
They turn the conversation to a more direct question. “So, let’s start with Ares first. First, I appreciate you speaking up with Gilderoy. You didn’t have to do that. Second, you seem to know Mister Montblanc better than I do. Should I be worried he might pull a second trick?”
Talmage’s difficulty with London’s next question is extremely apparent on his face.
“He … probably won’t?” he says, wincing. “I think once Gidley, you know, spoke up– like, maybe now that he knows it’s not something to be worried-worried about, he won’t– you know. Do that.” Again, he does not sound convinced by his own words.
London sighs and the frustration is plain as day, an emotion no one had yet experienced yet from them. It shakes their usual put up politeness. “It’s probably better it happened now instead of later. I am not a stranger to suspicion. I’m fully aware of how I look. And especially in the last few months.” They speak like they’re trying to give Ares the benefit of the doubt, especially since Talmage’s tone of voice isn’t convincing. And even if it was, London probably wouldn’t be entirely put at ease.
“I’ll be straightforward with you, I’m just here to protect people and gods. And I’m going to continue to do what I want to achieve that. I’m telling you because to me they all like you quite a bit. If there’s doubts in your mind, tell me what I can do to ease them.” They shake their head and continue their questioning. “Vivienne? Anything I should worry about with her? She just seems like she needs a really long spa weekend or a nice night with someone special to be frank with you.”
‘Ease his doubts?‘ The fuck is he supposed to say to that?
“I–” Talmage sighs. “Look. I don’t doubt you have good intentions, but here we’re a bit more about … teamwork, and all that shit. Attempting to agree on courses of action. Not just what one person thinks is best in that moment.” Ugh, he still isn’t good at this. He pinches the bridge of his nose, knocking his glasses a bit. His dream glasses.
“You seem to have an agenda. Viv and Ares think they have one too. Hell, I’m not even sure if theirs align anymore. All I’m saying is— communication? Is good! Not running off and doing your own shit? Is good! You acknowledging that? That would ease my doubts.”
He realizes he didn’t actually answer London’s question, so he tacks it on at the end. “Viv’s probably fine – she honestly seems more mellowed out than usual, if you can believe it. She probably does need to get laid, though.”
Now that makes London smile. They clap their hands together. “That helps,” and it does. Their first impressions of Ares and Vivienne really were spot on and this just made things a little clearer. It also helped Talmage was being honest.
“You’re right. I do have an agenda,” and they match Talmage’s tone of voice on the word with a smirk. “I know we’ll find common ground, and I’m not going to run off.” The second sentence is serious, and then is softened by their next words, “You’re exactly the kind of person I hoped you’d be.” At the little tack about Vivienne at the end London does lift an eyebrow, thinking a moment but to Talmage it all appears a bit blank and stiff, her next words must come a bit out of nowhere in context.
“Really, this is more mellow?” There’s a pause as London takes a moment to consider a private thought. “Hmm…well, she is very cute.” There’s almost something a little more in the way London says that and it’s phrased as an afterthought but definitely loud enough for Talmage to hear. They don’t elaborate further and move right along. “I think our time is just about up. I should try to let you get some sleep after all. I’m glad you could join me, if I need anything else you’ll see me again.”
They stand up and push the chair in before waving away the fake Rocco image at first. “So long and goodnight, Talmage.” And the dream state ends, perhaps cutting off further things Talmage had to say.
Talmage’s attention fully latches onto ’You’re exactly the kind of person I hoped you’d be’ and he ends up missing most of what follows, up until London begins dismissing herself. A delayed, “Right, goodnight—“ is cut off, and Talmage drifts.