pentamerone <% /!UseJournal %>
Mehrdadstan (Open)
Howl left the Dancing Djinn. He wandered around until he found what looked like an empty cottage for sale almost in the center of the city. He found the owner, paid the man a few gold and took the deed to the cottage.

He uneventfully traveled back the way he came until he was once again at the gates of the city. He reached deeply into his suit jacket pocket and pulled out the seven league boots. He placed them onto his feet. He was about to take a step when he realized: I had better check on Sophie, Calcifer and Michael. I have been gone a while. Calcifer would have alerted me had anything bad happened however. How many steps had I taken to get here 11 or so? That should do. Howl took two steps to the east and 9 south. While hurtling through the air he realized he had made it back to the desert but might have over stepped a bit. He attempted to make a turn but the desert sand was not obliging. He slipped ever so slightly to the right and ended up right at the edge of a city.

I wonder if this is where Bluebeard had come from? Howl thought pensively. Sophie, Michael, and Calcifer should be fine until I explore this city. How can I protect them if I don't know my surroundings. Howl took off the seven league boots and placed them back into his suit jacket pocket. The giant boots shrinking until they fit. With a few short spells his black jacket and pants shifted and changed until he was wearing a very nice tan linen suit. His hair changed to a gleaming dark brown, while his eyes to a bright green. He smelled of sandalwood, bergamot, and various spices. He looked around and slowly walked entering the desert kingdom.

Tags: howl, hunter

From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/07/2007 23:37:04  

Hunter had never less wanted to travel back up north than he did at this moment. He was certain he planned to make it the shortest hunting trip he'd ever made, to trap and skin as fast as he could, just so he could return to Mehrdadstan and Scheherazade as soon as possible. After their excursion to the Rajani Jungle and all that occurred there, Hunter didn't at all want to leave her side, but duty called.

He'd be quick about it, he had promised, laying a calloused but gentle hand on her cheek. A farewell kiss that lasted a bit overlong and he was on his way, quickly reaching the edge of the kingdom.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/09/2007 15:02:47  

As Howl entered the city, surveying his surroundings all the while, he noticed a bearded man coming toward him as if leaving. His beard is nothing compared to my last companion's. I wonder if he would be able to tell me where I have landed. Howl moved slowly toward the traveler hoping not to alarm him.

"Hello, kind traveler would you be able to answer a question for me? Where am I? I have just landed here and do not quite know where I am."

If this is where Bluebeard was coming from when I met him, there is bound to be some fun to be had. Howl thought smiling brightly.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/09/2007 15:12:03  

Hunter's beard wasn't really much more than heavy scruff, days of five o'clock shadow atop each other. He never so much shaved as fought off a full beard; no matter how often he tried, he was always scruffy. So no, his beard would have been no match for the blue splendor that was Bluebeard's.

Hunter shielded his eyes from the sun as the man approached. He was dressed what Hunter would consider an unnecessary flamboyant style, but he wasn't going to hold that against him. The man smelled heavily of spices, and of a sort of bronze color. Hunter could smell him even at a distance, stronger than most. There was something else there he couldn't pinpoint, not from this distance.

"This is Mehrdadstan, stranger," Hunter replied. And then added, "Have you come from the north, across the desert?"
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/10/2007 15:30:26  

"Well my castle is in the desert right now yes. I myself have just come some 10 minutes ago from the lovely city of Camlann across the water. I am glad I have happened upon Mehrdadstan. A friend of mine just left after having quite a time. I look forward to some exploring."

As Howl and the stranger approached each other, he could feel a strange energy flowing from the traveler. His aura looked quite different from most of the people he had encountered in this world. This one was different. He had an idea what it could be but decided against pursuing that line of questioning. Instead he offered his hand to the man.

With a smile that seemed to know more than he was letting on, Howl offered his hand. "I am Howl."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/10/2007 16:40:14  

Hunter's brows furrowed. First, when the man stepped closer, he could smell stronger now, that elusive scent that was hidden beneath the spices. It smelled almost like Amalthea, like Goodfellow, like the Sleeping Woods, the smell Hunter had come to associate with magic. That was interesting.

Second however, and more confusing was what the man had said. Ten minutes from Camlann? "Hunter," he responded stepping forward to shake his hand. "And how may I ask did you manage to come from such a distance as Camlann in a mere ten minutes? It's not nearby at all."

Curious. Hunter was on his way to Camlann again, reluctant to leave, but duty called. It would be most interesting to learn if there was some way to cut his travel time down to nothing.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/17/2007 10:34:07  

"Oh yes! Ten minutes is all it took me. I might have been shorter but I ended up taking a wrong turn in the desert and ended up here instead of my castle. I use an invention of mine called the seven league boots. Each step you take in a pair of these boots equals around twenty-five miles. They are a wonder when traveling long distances."

Howl could see that something about himself had intrigued Hunter. He even though he caught a slight twitch from Hunter's nose as if sniffing the air. I wonder if I'm right about this one? Howl thought to himself.

"To where are you headed if you don't mind such a personal question? Could I perhaps waylay you for a short time? I do not know much of this city and I would love a guide. I would of course repay you for your kindness."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/17/2007 12:19:11  

Hunter's nose twitched again. he couldn't help it. The scent of magic off the man wasn't as strong as off Amalthea - and it was definitely slightly different - but it was intense indeed. The idea of these seven-league boots intrigued him though, and he knew the instant use he could put a pair of his own to. He cocked his head. "I am actually traveling north - I've just left the city for a hunting trip in Camlann and Estervale."

He rubbed his chin as he spoke, looking for all the world like a salesman about to make a deal. "However, I do know this city relatively well at this point. I would be able to guide you, but my time is very short. I need to get north as soon as possible so I may return here in between one and two week's time." He'd promised Scheherazade he wouldn't be gone so long this time. Two weeks was maximum, but he expected only one. Two-three days travel each way, and hopefully only a day or two spent actually hunting up north. "I admit, you have me intrigued by these boots you mentioned. Perhaps we could come to an arrangement?" He'd certainly be willing to pay for them, if they worked as Howl - very interesting name there - claimed. Hunter could sniff no falsehood in his words, and so he had no reason to doubt him.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/17/2007 15:45:20  

Howl smiled with the smile that Sophie had deemed troublesome. She would comment that every time he smiled like this he would get into some sort of mischief.

"Perhaps we could come to some sort of arrangement. I would gladly create for you a pair of my seven league boots, in exchange for perhaps a tour of the city? Provided I can procure the correct materials, some of which I already have from my foray into Camlann. If you are able to forestall your journey by one day I can guarantee you'll have the boots on the morrow."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/17/2007 16:42:35  

"You're absolutely certain these boots could get me to Camlann and back in minutes' time?" Hunter had no qualms showing the man around Mehrdadstan if it meant not only not losing time on his journey, but shaving off days of travel. "If so, then I would certainly give you a tour in exchange. Where else would you need to go to get the rest of the materials? And... may I ask, how is it you can make boots of this nature?"

Hunter could smell the fact the man had magic, and from what he could tell, a lot of it. He still smelled human though, unlike Goodfellow, unlike Amalthea. So what was he? A magician? A sorcerer? Wizard? Some human being that still had the potential for wielding incredible magic?
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/22/2007 12:20:25  

"Oh yes they are a marvelous item of my own design. I am a wizard you see. Quite an accomplished one if I might say so. If I can spread my wares and word of my name, I would gladly part with a pair of my boots for a tour." A new adventure to begin how marvelous! Perhaps during during the tour I'll be able to procure a small shop from which to sell my services.

"As for materials I have some on my person from my adventures in Camlann. I do however need some basics like a leather of your liking as well as a few mundane spices. You'd be surprised the magical properties of common household spices. What say you to this Hunter: Give me a brief tour to pick up the ingredients and to find lodgings and I'll have your boots ready for you tomorrow morning. Then finish up my tour and the boots are officially yours."

Immersed in thought for what seemed like a good thirty seconds coming to Howl said "How silly of me. How can I expect you to do all this for me when you haven't even seen my wares in action. You are taking the word of a stranger you have just met. How bout a little example of how these work. If you hold on to my tightly I'll take us to Camlann and back. Then we can see if we have a deal."

Smiling broadly as if with a child's delight Howl extended his hand toward Hunter "Shall we?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/22/2007 12:31:06  

Hunter had almost interrupted to make the same proposition, but Howl had continued speaking, getting right to the point he'd been about to make. "That sounds like deal, Wizard Howl. If these boots work as you've said, you've got yourself a deal."

He couldn't help but smile a little in response and, still scenting not a whit of falsehood, took the offered hand. "Let's go."
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/22/2007 12:47:09  

"Now stand next to me and take a hold around my waist or shoulders whichever you prefer. Place your foot directly on top of mine."

With a wave of his hand a shimmering rope appeared from nowhere binding Hunter and Howl together around the waist and the foot. "That should do it. Just a precaution so as to not lose you in mid-step. If you are ready then lets be off."

Grinning like a child at Christmas Howl took one step to the left and the two travelers were hurtled through the air twenty-five miles. Mid-flight Howl said "If you look down quickly you'll be able to see my castle."

As they landed Howl took another step and then another and then another to the north totaling eight steps. Hurtling through the desert, past the islands in Lake Raienia and eventually landing in between the Sleeping Wood and Camlann. Two more small steps to the west and as promised after around ten minutes there looming above them was the entrance to Camlann.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/22/2007 13:57:03  

Well. This was... an experience. Hunter held on, looked down when Howl said, and saw an odd-looking mechanical building that looked sort of like a house and sort of like a giant metal thing on legs. He didn't comment on it, just held on until they were standing just outside of Camlann.

Hunter let out a slow whistle. "Those are some interesting boots, Howl. You have yourself a deal. Do they have limitations? A certain number of times usable per day? Powers fading over time? Anything of that nature?"
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/22/2007 15:29:06  

"No limitations. You can use them as often as you like and years from now they will work as well as the day you first used them. We seem to be garnering some looks being well tied to one another. Lets be off back to Mehrdadstan."

With a leap Howl took two steps to the east, eight south, and a slight step to the right and they were back at the entrance to Mehrdadstan. A second wave of his hand, the ropes dissolved into thin air freeing the two. Howl took the boots off, being careful not to take a step. He opened up his suit jacket and placed the boots inside a pocket that shouldn't have fit them.

"During our travels I would like to inquire about setting up a shop around here. Do you know of any land for sale or rent within the city? Shall we begin the tour?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/22/2007 16:50:14  

No limitations. Just what Hunter wanted to hear. He sneezed twice upon reaching Mehrdadstan - the buildup of magic in and around the man so close to Hunter's nose had him sniffling like when he'd walked with Amalthea. Once they'd returned, he stepped back quickly, with no explanation as to his sudden allergy.

"I don't know for certain what is for sale, but I think large property deals or opening a business might need to be run but the queen for permission first." He wasn't certain of that either, but better safe than sorry. And I have a good amount of unsold leather I'd be pleased to use that I can give you right now." He started toward the city again, leading Howl with him. "Spices are everywhere here. You'll need to narrow that down."
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/27/2007 13:06:32  

As they walked further into Mehrdadstan, Howl mused over Hunters last statement. After a few moments he looked at Hunter and said "Well the leather you give me would be wonderful thank you. I will need a dragons scale, A falcons feather, some ginger and some comfrey leaves."

Looking in his pockets for a minute or so he added "I have the mermaid's scale, the jars of zephyr, sirocco, and shaitan winds, and I have the iron flecks off of the anchor of The Flying Dutchman. Do you know how difficult it is to come by those flecks? Tracking that ship is such a trial and the deal I have to make to get them, highway robbery. Well piracy I feel would fit there better. Alas I do enjoy making these boots, so I suppose its worth it."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/27/2007 14:13:34  

"I think you might find most of those here. From what I've heard, there are dragons in the sky kingdom, and Mehrdadstan manages to deal in some of Shangdi's exports. I doubt they'll be very cheap."

Hunter didn't have much comment on the ingredients Howl already had. He hadn't heard of the Flying Dutchman, so the legend of the ship was lost on him. He just knew it must have been hard to come by. Ships were like that, he supposed. Out at sea so much it was hard to tell when one might see a particular ship again.

Hunter had just led Howl into the market when he paused and said, "Spices. Ah." And he sniffed, oddly, and, looking around pointed to a booth. "There's comfrey leaves there and I believe ginger as well." He glanced around again, suddenly getting the distinct feeling they were being watched. It left him unsettled.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/27/2007 14:42:23  

"Oh what an outstanding market. I'm glad I still have money in that pouch that Bluebeard gave me."

Howl walked over to the spice merchant. "I'll have some comfrey and some ginger if you will. No, no thats all for now but I will definitely be back. You have a delightful selection."

Howl looked around as if honing in on something. Naught but a moment later Howl came back to Hunter and said "You were right that scale was quite costly. If you are going to use the boots and take care of them it is worth the cost. If you can find me lodgings I'll begin your boots."

Matter-of-factly Howl said "We're being watched you know. From your expression I would assume you already suspected this. Let them come. Its the moment that people stop being interested in you, or well me, that weighs on my mind."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/27/2007 15:00:24  

Hunter watched as Howl gathered his materials. The last bit was the falcon feather, which Hunter actually managed to supply himself. It had eluded his memory for they moment that he'd even had one, but it was a good thing. They'd be hard to come by in this kingdom.

He nodded in response to Howl's comment, finding it very clever indeed. "From what I can tell they means know harm. At least not yet. They seem... interested. And with some purpose." His nose twitched as he spoke and he rubbed it absently. It wasn't clear exactly who was watching, but Hunter could pick them out by scent. suspicion, curiosity, duty, but no malice. Expect one, and that was directed at him, laced with a bit of fear. Likely a guard he'd managed to accidentally terrify on one of his visits to the palace.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/27/2007 15:13:35  

"Oh thank you. I had almost forgotten the feather of a falcon. This is your kingdom or at least you seem to know your way here. Do you have any idea what they might want? If they aren't going to make themselves known then I suggest we find me lodgings. The sooner we do so the sooner I can have your boots ready. Lead the way Hunter."

As Howl followed Hunter, he spotted an empty shop with a for sale sign in the window. Or at least thats what Howl surmised it to be. He hadn't a chance to study the language of this land yet. It was to his good fortune that his now guide spoke a common tongue.

"Perhaps I can talk to the queen about this shop. This is perfect for my needs. I wonder how one would get an audience with her?"
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/27/2007 15:20:51  

Hunter honestly wasn't certain at all. Were they watching him, he'd have shrugged it off as them being wary on behalf of their queen. But the interest seemed to be in the wizard, not in the hunter. "To be honest, I'm not sure," he admitted. "But I get the feeling we won't need to wait long to find out."

And he was right. No sooner had Howl wondered at at audience with Scheherazade did the guards emerge, approaching them, but directing words at Howl. "Excuse us sir. As a newcomer to the kingdom of Mehrdadstan, you are welcomed and requested to present yourself to the Queen of Mehrdadstan."

Hunter's brows furrowed. That was odd. That hadn't happened when he'd first arrived, and he sniffed a vague falsehood. Not a lie directly, but a clever wording to conceal the true reason behind the wizard's summons. "Is that so..." he said mildly.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/27/2007 15:31:37  

Clapping his hands together triumphantly as if expecting this was going to happen "Wonderful, I was just talking about that with my companion. Were your ears ringing? Does my companion get to accompany us or shall he be left to his own devices?"

Howl looked at Hunter and smiled. Without moving his lips in Hunters head he heard Howl's voice saying, I'm sorry for the mental contact but I felt it would be more advisable than words at the moment. I would ask for your company if it is allowed. Although I am able to take care of myself I don't want to accidentally offend someone especially the queen.

"Now gentleman, once you decided on the fate of my companion I'm ready to pay my best wishes to the queen."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/27/2007 16:04:33  

The mental voice startled Hunter and he blinked at Howl for a moment before curiously thinking back at him, as the guards warily conceded to letting Hunter return to the palace with them. Can you hear me? Hunter was thinking very hard, and if his voice were audible by Howl, then it was likely to be very loud.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/27/2007 16:09:45  

As they started to head to the palace surrounded by the guard, Howl flinched momentarily.

Not so loud my new friend. You are coming across quite clearly. I will leave this connection open for as long as I am able. You just have to lightly think what you want to respond and I will hear it within my own mind. What is it that you need? Am I to have my first lesson on Merhdadstani etiquette.? Winking slyly at Hunter.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/27/2007 16:21:33  

Oh. Sorry. Not used to this. His voice came though clear, but much quieter now. I just wanted to say, there's not much to be worried about. I honestly know shit about etiquette and I certainly haven't offended the queen yet. She's... special. And here Hunter's mental voice changed, taking on a pleasant happy, one might say smitten 'tone' to it.

She is very very amicable, and quite fun to speak with. Not to mention beautiful. But yes, I wouldn't worry about offending her at all. The guards are another story. They don't like me much. He didn't add the reason, which was the fact that the queen was too fond of him for their comfort. He walked behind the guards, following familiar steps to the palace.

Scheherazade would be surprised to find he hadn't left yet. He'd tell her he'd spend on more day, due to unforeseen circumstances and surprise her again with an speedy return once he had Howl's boots in hand. Or rather, on foot.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 08/28/2007 13:38:01  

That is a good thing to hear. I am looking forward to meeting her. As I said I will keep this channel open just in case.

A little while later after having walked for quite a distance Howl noticed a palace looming not to far off in the distance. How he hadn't noticed it until now he couldn't say. It was quite beautiful he thought.

Focusing his mind once more not even looking in Hunters direction he thought You seem to think of her quite fondly. Is there anything I could bring? One should never meet royalty without proper tribute. It looks as if we are almost there. Any suggestions?
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 08/28/2007 13:48:37  

I am, Hunter replied with no hesitation. And one of the best things to bring her is a tale of a place she has not read about. She is very fond of tales and of places she does not know. Hunter had already decided some day he would take her to some of the places he'd traveled. And perhaps discover new places with her. He knew he would like to.

They were at the palace gates now, entering the beautiful building. It was a familiar path to the throne room; Hunter could walk it blindfolded now. Once inside he caught the trail of her pleasant scent, and it set a smile on his lips.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 09/04/2007 14:32:48  

As most day, Scheherazade had spent much of the morning attending to matters of state and hearing out the various concerns and quandaries of those who sought an audience with her. This alone usually kept her busy until mid-afternoon, but that particular morning, the docket was light and she'd taken a break to tell tales to some of the servant children.

She was just finishing the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves when one of her viziers approached and announced that a person of great magic had entered the city and that he was being brought to the palace to have an audience. Finishing up the tale, she sent the children on their way and left the piled of pillows she'd been resting on to return to the throne and wait, curious about this new visitor.
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 09/04/2007 15:45:06  

Howl followed the guards quietly through the corridors of the palace. Truly a splendid place he thought to himself. Maybe I'll redo the interior of the castle in its image. Calcifer would be beside himself. Sophie would of course not be pleased having become accustomed to the castle in is present state. I suppose I'll leave it for now.

Howl watched as two giant beautifully ornate doors were opened before him. The guards entered urging him to follow. He looked at Hunter for a moment, smiled and walked in. There sitting at the end of the room in an equally ornate throne was a ravishing woman Howl could only assume would be Queen Scheherazade of Mehrdadstan.
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 09/10/2007 14:48:13  

Hunter followed Howl into the throne room, the barest of smiles lighting up his face when he saw the queen on the throne. His eyes swept over her from head to toe, drinking in the sight of her as if he hadn't just left her the day before. He knew she'd be surprised to see him still here in Mehrdadstan, but after the audience he'd tell her some of his change in plans. Mostly the fact his leaving was delayed on day, but he would be heading back to Camlann as planned the following day.

Of the seven league boots he'd say nothing, leaving that to be a surprised when he returned in a two days' time instead of over a week.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 09/10/2007 14:59:35  

Perched upon her throne, she watched not one, but two strangers approach. And then her eyes went wide as she realized that one of the men was no stranger at all. She struggled to keep the smile that lept to her face under control, but her dark eyes shone on Hunter.

To the paler, finely dressed fellow, she offered a noble greeting with an incline of her head. "Welcome, great magician, to the kingdom of Mehrdadstan. What brings you to our golden sands?"
From: [info]howlsmovingemo Date: 09/12/2007 16:06:22  

Howl bowed politely and deferentially showing the queen the proper respect. He might not have been so inclined had a king sat upon the throne. Great beauties be they powerful or ordinary deserve proper homage he thought. As he straightened himself out of the bow his eyes met the dark gaze of the queen. He could sense great wisdom and heart behind those eyes.

"Your Highness, I am the wizard Howl. My moving castle landed in your desert a few weeks ago. I have been since exploring this new world. My travels led me north to Camlann but eventually wound their way to Mehrdadstan proper. While I am here I would greatly like to inquire about setting up shop in your bazaar. Oh I almost forgot I have a gift for you."

Howl held out his hand palm up and in a flash of light there materialized a beautifully bound leather book. The book levitated itself over to one of the guards and rested in the air in front of him waiting to be taken. The guard took the book, walked closer to the throne and handed it to the queen.

"Great Queen this is a book of stories I've enjoyed since I was a young child: Grims Fairytales. I do hope you don't have this one."
From: [info]whos_afraid Date: 09/12/2007 16:18:38  

Hunter's eyes went wide at that. It was one thing to use a magical item and be amazed by it. It was another to see something appear from thin air, though it was definitely a gift the queen would enjoy. Hunter had never heard of this Grim person - persons? - so he knew nothing of the stories within.

His eyes slipped from Scheherazade's eyes down to the outfit she wore, and remained fixed there at her very well emphasized breasts before struggling to climb back up. It was a very good thing he and Howl had struck this bargain. He certainly didn't feel much like leaving now, or being away for very long.

For the first time he remained silent until addressed, mostly because he was curious to know what Scheherazade's response would be.
From: [info]keepsyouwanting Date: 09/23/2007 11:51:11  

For the first time since they'd met, Scheherazade was completely distracted from Hunter, eyes going wide with first at Howl's words then at his display of magic. Her surprise was evident, as was her avid curiosity.

Her hands moved slowly over the leather of the book in wonder and she smiled more widely than decorum strictly allowed. "I thank you for the gift, Wizard Howl. I do enjoy stories, especially ones I've never encountered before, and I've certainly never heard of a Grim before." She'd be tearing into the book later, but for the moment she reluctantly set the gift aside; she still had important matters to focus on.

"I'd certainly like to give you permission to open a shop, but I must ask you some questions first to satisfy my own curiosity and to ensure my kingdom will be safe with you here." Scheherazade fixed Howl with a steady gaze. "First, tell me what sort of business you intend to run. Magic is allowed but regulated and any dark practices will be punished most harshly."
Community: [info]pentamerone
<% /!UseJournal %>