[P] A Favor Amongst Friends
For Lucina; Five Shields Pub
Asterope took a deep breath and opened the door of the Five Shields Pub in Wolfville. It was always this way for the introvert when bracing to enter public spaces with many people—it took a certain kind of courage. That was especially true given the added weight of Asterope’s intentions and needs.
It was late—many hours past sunset. There were still quite a few folks chatting and enjoying evening fare at the pub, both packmates and strangers. The mahogany scholar-turned-herbalist scanned the room quickly for a familiar face. Ideally, they were looking for someone friendly and competent—and someone who wouldn’t completely balk at their request. Their lichen-colored orbs fell upon Lucina then.
The pair had met more formally once, sharing tapas and lovely conversation with the Sola, Aldora Knight, before the Portland Outpost called her to duty. She had seemed like a kind, optimistic person, and the only one in the pub Asterope felt comfortable asking.
It took the herbalist a few strides to meet Lucina at her table. She appeared to be sorting plants and other fruits of the forest, her bi-colored eyes of grass and sky engaged in her task. To Asterope’s mind, her interest in plants made Lucina an even more intriguing person to ask; if she had experience even with basic first aid, as many herbal dabblers did, her presence could be highly valuable. Plus, she would know who to call if things went sideways—likely Yrsa or Cerberus.
Aster’s smile was nervous, reflecting their thoughts. “Hi Lucina!” Asterope said, bobbing their head in greeting. “Um, are you busy? I have a favor to ask.”
[Image: 9rLHrpe.png]
Art by Pabs!
One of the more frustrating parts of this self-imposed job was taking the time to learn the proper names for the herbs she and her mother dealt with. There have been a few occasions where Lucina would call out for one herb, but instead of being handed a leafy stalk with a fragrant scent, she’d received a confused look accompanied by a raised brow. It brought more trouble than it was worth, if you asked her.

Of course, perhaps studying and going through her mental library of names wasn’t the best idea at this moment. After all, she had gotten home a few days ago after the stock show, but she still felt drained.

She was close to throwing her hands in the air. Ready to throw her progress to the wind and revert back to calling the blue-bead-Lilys and curly docks by her default nickname, Leaning Tarts and Small Green Climbers!

Whatever. Lucina pushed out a breath as she continued to sort. Meanwhile, her stomach growled, which was strange considering she ate when she arrived earlier. Alas.

Her senses, particularly her nose, were so clogged with the leafy fragrance that she hadn’t noticed Asterope approach her until he said her name.

She jumped in her seat, comically so. "Hey! You surprised me. How's it going, Aster?" 

With one quick motion, she pushed her bounty to the side. Directing her attention to her friend, Lucina leaned her elbows on the table and looked him deep in the eye—a habit she picked up after noticing her own habit of looking anywhere but the eyes. She swung her feet lightly, allowing her body to do something in order to keep her mind focused on the Luperci in front of her.

And that’s when she mentally caught on to the second sentence. "A favor? Sure, I could help you out. Would you like to sit down? I got some room, if you’d like." 

She’d have to put away her herbs, but Lucina wouldn’t mind that herself. She was a little sick of the smell at this point and would much rather take in the scent of Asterope and the activities he’s been occupying himself with.

Lacking the subtlety, as Lucina always did, she flared her nostrils and inhaled deeply, wanting to get as much of her friends' day as she could.
Wc: 390

Asterope arrives, Lucina immediately: you must pay the sniff toll sneef sneef
To Lucina’s nose, Asterope probably smelled very strange—intensely of Labrador tea, Canadian moonseed, rabbits, paper, graphite, and gall ink. There was a hint of salt from the sea suffusing them, but that scent was more faded than usual.
Asterope didn’t want to bore her, and they loathed pontificating; contrary to the esoteric nature of some of their interests, it brought them no joy to indulge in delusions of grandeur because of some perceived sense of expertise. They were most satisfied when others saw value in what they were doing, and when they were learning from others. New and promising ideas could come from any corner.
“Thank you,” Asterope said, as they sidled into the booth. They weren’t worried about the herbs on the table—they barely registered them in their nervousness, though the smell did fill their nostrils in a way that might have been pleasant if they weren’t already overwhelmed.
To speak more covertly, the umber optime leaned in toward Lucina.
“So, um… I’ve been working on something. And I need someone’s help to make sure that when I test it, I have good notes. And also that if things don’t go as I hope they will, that you can go get someone who might—maybe—be able to save my life.” Definitely not ominous—a totally normal thing to say!
They hoped their mixture was at its zenith of quality and efficacy; if it was not, well… Asterope might not live to have another chance at reformulating it.
“I’ve been making a paralyzing poison, specifically with the intention of avoiding death for those afflicted by it. The intention is that it’s used if necessary in a fight to sort of… stop things without doing anything you can’t take back.” By this, Aster meant causing death; to their knowledge, no one had sorted out a way to undo that one. “I haven’t ever tried it on anyone before, and the most ethical person to try it on, is, well… me.” They gave a little shrug of their shoulders and looked across to Lucina, bracing for her response.
[Image: 9rLHrpe.png]
Art by Pabs!

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