Tea Topics

Adoian and Madeira experiment with wraithmint

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Tea Topics

Postby Madeira Dusk on June 7th, 2021, 6:55 pm

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    10th of Summer, 521
Summer didn't mean the same thing to the world that it used to. Without the snowpack that fed Lhavit and its hungry river mouths the green splendor of the most temperate months were instead the dry gold of drought. But this new reality seemed to have barely touched the lands of the Mhakula Teahouse. Backbreaking effort must have gone into the fragrant gardens that spiced the air with jasmine and mint. Madeira and Chiona both breathed deep and savoured the atmosphere, passing by gazebos and the mountain's gentle windblown trees, who were shedding the last of their spring flowers onto the cobbled path.

Chiona, her auburn hair tied back and a sheathed sword on her hip, held her wife's unoccupied hand as they walked through the garden path towards the teahouse. The two women seemed to be dressed for completely different occasions. The sleeves of Chiona's practical fighter's tunic had been rolled back, exposing the toned arms of a woman who knew how to handle the sword she carried. Madeira was dressed in the delicate white lace and expensive jewelry of a woman who had never held a sword in her life. Her right arm was slung across her body in a sling, her forearm and fingers all splinted and bandaged in clean white linen. There was a molted quality to her face as the bruises finally entered the last stages of healing, her skin the yellowish green of an overripe peach.

The couple bickered as they got closer to the Teahouse

"- I just don't understand what makes you think the Yahvao family will have any insight into this plant", Chiona was saying. From a pouch slung across her shoulder she had pulled out the dried leaf of a strange plant. It was more the suggestion of a leaf than anything. It was green, but just barely, its form as insubstantial as a ghost. It had a strange mild glow about it, polluting its edges so that it was hard to tell where they actually were. "They're tea makers. And I've never seen this in Lhavit before."

"You're selling them short", Madeira sniffed. "This is a family that's dedicated hundreds of years to the art of growing things. Besides, I don't need a botanist. The science is all well and good, but I'm more interested in creativity. You don't think this family might have some interesting ideas with what to do with a plant that appears to interact with the soul as well as the body?"

Chiona held the leaf under her nose and inhaled the strong minty scent. "I get that ghosts being able to smell it is a big deal, but I'm not sure how creative you can get with something so... basic."

Madeira turned her head slowly to look up at her wife, her pale eyes boggling in their swollen sockets. "A big deal? A big deal?Yes! Yes its a big deal. This is the only thing we know of in the entire natural world that a deceased person can experience. Imagine living in a sensatory vacuum and then coming across this. Imagine what that would mean to them. Imagine what we could do with a sensation so-"

Chiona swooped down to peck her lips mid-word, derailing her rant. "I love it when you get all righteous on me."

"Har har. Don't distract me, woman, I have a point to make!"

The bickering continued until they stepped through the low door and into the rich, vanilla-perfumed air of the cozy Teahouse. A server promptly materialized out of nowhere, offering to lead them to a seat. Madeira shook her head. "It will just be me today."

Chiona carefully slipped the satchel to Madeira's good shoulder and kissed her chastely goodbye before heading down the stairs to the training room. "Try not to scare the Yahvao's off with your death obsession."

"It is not an obsession, its a professional curiosity. One you'll appreciate the day that scary Atsuya woman finally beats you to death."

Chiona's fond chuckling echoed after her as Madeira was led to a small table in a sundrenched corner of the teahouse.

"If any of the Yahvao's are available, I would appreciate the chance to speak to them", she asked the server with a smile as she sat, pulling the menu towards her.
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Tea Topics

Postby Adoian on June 9th, 2021, 10:20 pm


The teahouse gardens were just beginning to reach maturity, tiny chamomile flowers that could be mistaken for daisies sprouted in their patch within the flower fields, and juniper berries were just beginning to bud. Ado had already finished watering and pruning for the day, still pulling from their boiled water supply gathered from the Amaranthine river. The family had to make water collection trips far more often now as they could not use the well-pump within the garden.

Ado experimented with different flavorings in the kitchen, having finished most of the work he was meant to get done. Tea leaves were dried and processed, herbs, flowers, and berries that were ripe had been harvested and pressed. There was not much left to do now but serve customers and wait.

He was working now on a lavender-strawberry black tea. Primarily because they tended to bloom and ripen earlier in the year, he had extra material to use. He placed some of the black tea leaves into a jar in a layer at the bottom. Then he added a handful of lavender flowers and oven-dried, crushed strawberries. He placed another layer of black tea leaves on top and put a small five-pound iron weight to the mixture to press it and incorporate the flavors. He lidded the jar and placed it alongside his other creations in the pantry.

The door to the kitchen creaked open, and one of the servers poked her head into the room—a young girl named Eqora - enthusiastic and intuitive but lacking in the way of spatial awareness. After being scolded several times by Ado for being too careless with his equipment, he no longer allowed her more than a few steps into the kitchen.

“Excuse me, sir,” She spoke a bit nervously.

“Yes, Eqora? And you can just call me Ado,” He reminded her, not for the first time.

“Right, well, a guest is asking for a Yhavao, and Mister Guzo told me to send you over.” Ado pulled his brows together in confusion.

“Okay, thank you. I’ll be right out.” He dismissed her with a bow of his head. She nodded back and left, closing the door behind her. Why would Guzo need him to talk to a guest? Guzo would most likely answer any questions that a customer would have about the family far better than Ado could. Regardless, the man had his reasons. Ado washed his hands, removed his apron, hung it on the wall, and then stepped into the dining room.

Upon his first glance around the room, he didn’t see anybody he recognized. He looked to Guzo for direction, who simply nodded over to the far corner. Ado followed his gaze, and it landed upon somebody he had not seen since the beginning of Spring at her wedding reception.

He felt a bit of anxiety creep into his forethoughts as he approached her. No wonder Guzo had called for Ado to talk to her. Their first interaction had been short and sweet, and she came across as a pleasant and confident woman with a high level of intelligence that Ado could only hope to achieve. She was pondering the menu when Ado reached the table and greeted her.

“Missus Dusk, it’s so nice to see you again,” He faltered for a moment at the sight of her sling, bandages, and bruises, “Oh my, it seems you’ve gotten into some trouble since last we met. Maybe an herbal infusion could help? I’m sure we have some tolm or vyfox around here…”
Last edited by Adoian on June 27th, 2021, 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Madeira Dusk on June 10th, 2021, 6:37 pm

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    "Ado?" Madeira never forgot a face. When she looked up at the sound of her name a grin pulled at her painted lips. "Aren't you a sight for extremely sore eyes", she laughed at her own joke and motioned for the man to sit with her. "Call me Madeira. Thank you for taking time away to talk to me. How have you been?"

    She kindly waved his offer of herbal remedies away with a shake of her head. "Some trouble is apt. This is all the result of a... lets call it a professional disagreement. Your city's pet Myrian, the Spiritist Rotsam, has a bite much worse than his bark." She tapped her nail against the table, filling the beat of silence with a nervous rhythm. "It's not my place to say, he's been here a lot longer than I have, but just... be careful if you ever cross his path. He's more dangerous than anyone understands."

    That was a lie. As long as you weren't a undead yourself, he wasn't any more dangerous than the many other mages running around the mountain city. Rotsam never touched her. She had paid a doctor from the Outpost to break her bones, and her very public confrontation with the Spiritist was an elaborate pantomime involving several ghosts and magic items. But when you're as well established as the Curse Eater it takes a little extra effort to bring that sky-high reputation crashing down. Getting a family as old as Yahvao to distrust him was a nice little push.

    After that dire warning Madeira waved a hand over the table as if to clear the air. "Gods forbid, but if you ever need help with... Well, there's not a less creepy way to say this, so lets just say 'the various flavors of undeath and adjacent problems' I hope you'll come to me instead. I'm a Spiritist by trade. The best you'll ever meet." She winked cheekily, settling back in her seat.

    "Actually, that's what I wanted to talk to someone from your family about. I found something very interesting in my studies that fits right between our expertise." Reaching into the satchel beside her, she pulled out a few of the dried leaves and dropped them in front of Ado. "This is called wraithmint. It's a plant that only grows on Blackrock, as far as I can tell. It smells like mint, right? Here's the amazing thing: ghosts can smell it too."

    She waited for some kind of outward show of amazement at this incredible news, like she was expecting the man to jump up on his seat and shout alas! When no such reaction showed, or at least not to Madeira's expectations, her eye twitched in annoyance. Her enthusiasm once again unrequited.

    "Okay, trust me, this is a big deal in certain circles. It means something about this plant reacts to the soul, not just the body. The thing is, I'm not sure how, nor what to do with this information now that I have it. I need someone with some experience with plants and a dose of creativity to help me experiment with this. Maybe we can turn this into something that will help me with my work, or even yours. Imagine a tea that not only relaxes the body, but the very soul", she prompted, her voice lowering into a persuasive purr.

    "What do you think? Can you help me?"
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    Tea Topics

    Postby Adoian on June 12th, 2021, 6:38 pm


    Ado sat where Madeira gestured, still beaming that she remembered his name. He settled quickly onto the plush green velvet of the seat and listened as Madeira explained her run-in with the city’s well-known Spiritist, Rostam.

    Ado had never met the Myrian in person but had heard plenty and even seen him a few times at holiday celebrations throughout the years. He wasn’t hard to miss. News traveled through the city faster than dandelion tuft on a strong breeze, and the word was that he was talented and friendly, if a bit mysterious. He even had some sway in the magical circles of Lhavit. But Ado had never heard of anybody being attacked by the man before. It didn’t shock him considering the Myrian’s savage roots, though it was hard to accept.

    “That sounds awful. I suppose I’ll mind my distance from him,” Ado responded. He was a bit shocked by the revelation of Madeira’s professional calling as a Spiritist but tried to conceal it.

    He wasn’t sure what he expected somebody who worked with ghosts to look like, probably somebody like Rostam, but this tiny woman was not it. Perhaps that’s why she seemed to fill so much space anywhere she went. Did that mean she always had ghosts nearby? Ado glanced around the room dubiously before realizing that he wouldn’t be able to see them even if they were there.

    Ado wondered if she could help him talk to his grandmother again. He didn’t understand the whole mechanics of those who had passed on.

    Ado picked one up when she pulled out the mint leaves and set them on the table, inspecting it closely. It looked like regular mint, except that it didn’t. He could see Madeira right through the leaf, its edges just the barest tinge of green. Everything else about it, though, its smell, shape, texture, was exactly what a mint leaf should be.

    She finished explaining the properties of the leaf and the fact that even ghosts could smell it. Ado answered, “Huh,” impressed but unaware of the implications of such a thing.

    Madeira jumped in to explain the importance of the plant, and Ado listened closely. This plant had the makings of something new and innovative, which could provide variety to his day-to-day routine. Finally, a break in the stasis. He was ready to offer to help her work with the wraithmint before she even asked him, entirely for the selfish reason that he was bored.

    “Yes, of course,” He said when Madeira asked to help her. He picked up the leaf again, forming some questions.
    “You say it relaxes the soul as well as the body. Do you think this only works on ghosts or for anybody? And what, exactly, would that imply for somebody living? Ease not only the aches of the muscles but also the worries of the mind?” Ado mused, not really asking but voicing his train of thought. He needed to know how it worked; he needed to experiment on it right away.

    “How much do you have with you?” He asked Madeira. When she responded, he nodded, then stood from the table.

    “Come into the kitchen with me. We can use the equipment there. Three hands are better than two.” He joked, alluding to her slung and bandaged arm.

    He pushed the door to the kitchen open, holding it for Madeira to walk through, then took two aprons down from the wall and handed one to her.

    “Not a necessity; it’s just how I prefer to work,” He told her, tying the apron around his waist. He pulled an empty, 8-oz glass jar from a top shelf and placed it on the work table.

    “Miss- I mean, Madeira. Would you be so kind as to put all of the wraithmint leaves in this jar?” As she did that, he grabbed an iron kettle, filled it with water, and placed it on the stove to let it heat.

    “I think, as a first trial, we can try a simple infusion and test it ourselves,” He explained. Once he got into the working mindset, he felt no anxiety or fear. He was simply a teamaker, making tea. This was his comfort zone, his cocoon. He felt proud to show off his skills to somebody so prominent, the closest thing to a celebrity he had ever known.

    “Do ghosts often express their desire for this mint?” Ado asked, filling the time it would take the water to boil with conversation. He knew very little about ghosts, just that there were few around the city, and they mostly minded their business.

    As Madeira spoke to him, he grabbed two small white mugs and placed three mint leaves in each cup. Fresh leaves such as this weren’t as potent as dried ones, so it would take more to leave the desired flavor and fragrance.

    When the kettle whistled, Ado pulled it off the stove, let it cool for a minute, then poured water into the mugs.

    “Cream or sugar?” He asked, though not expecting her to take either one as this was meant to be an experiment. They picked up their mugs after about three minutes of steeping.

    “Cheers,” Ado said and blew on his tea before taking a small sip.
    Last edited by Adoian on June 27th, 2021, 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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    Postby Madeira Dusk on June 14th, 2021, 8:17 pm

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      No sooner had Ado agreed to help her than the man held the wraithmint up to his face and began mumbling questions. Not to Madeira, but to the universe at large. She could see curiosity lighting up in his eyes, like behind them his mind was sharpening on a grindstone. There were theories and deductions in there being honed to a razors edge. Madeira had never seen sparks so pretty.

      This was going to be interesting.

      "Half a kilogram", she answered promptly when Ado surfaced from his musings to ask her how much of the leaf she was carrying with her. It was excessive, perhaps, but Madeira was an excessive sort of person.

      Following Ado past the patrons, she stepped into the back kitchen through the door Ado held open for her, and immediately her head started to swivel like a child in the grip of wonder. Fresh and dried plants hung in bundles on the ceiling and in endless jars on every surface. Flowers and fruit and spices perfumed the air. There were implements she recognized (like kettles and mortars and glass instruments that look bizarrely similar to what she had in her lab) but there was even more that she didn't. Ado handed her an apron and she slipped it over her head and tied it one-handed around her waist, finally sure she made the right choice going to the Yahvao's.

      At Ado's instruction she packed as much of the leaves as would fit in the glass jar, then watched him make a simple infusion for the two of them to test out.

      "Do ghosts express desire for the wraithmint?" Madeira reiterated his question, distracted by a sweet-smelling tea infusion on the counter. "Not in my experience. I suppose they could, but I use it more as a... derailment, rather than a reward. If one of my ghosts starts getting worked up it can do wonders to change their trajectory and calm them down. It also attracts ghosts. I imagine the sensation is similar to being deaf your whole life only to suddenly hear beautiful music. You would follow the sound, right?"

      After Ado indicated the infusion was ready Madeira took one of the white mugs and blew gently over the top of it. "Cheers", she echoed. The steam was heavenly; a wonderful aromatherapy that loosened all her worries even as they emerged. She supposed that was not an altogether unusual effect for a really good cup of tea, but it was definitely more potent. Then she sipped at the tea itself. It was nice. A mellow and fresh taste, but unremarkable. Madeira remembered a certain drug in Alvadas she used to enjoy, Overture. It was a tea that had a wonderful grounding effect she found useful if she was feeling shaky or discombobulated after a hard possession. But only the steam inhaled from the tea had any effect. The tea itself was just tea.

      She wondered if the wraithmint worked the same way, where it was the aroma rather than the liquid that had the strange effect. Then she wondered if Overture contained wraithmint this entire time and she just never realized.

      Madeira took time with her tea, sipping and smelling it, trying to catalog the experience to consider later, before finally turning to Ado.

      "Remember at the table, you were asking whether something like this only works on ghosts, or if the effects work on everyone? I have a theory about that."

      There was an old, well-used journal within arms reach. Unsure who it belonged to and not caring, she pulled it towards her and flipped quickly to a blank page, taking a charcoal stick out of her bag. On the blank page she drew a childishly simple human figure, then two smaller human figures inside, like a nesting doll. At the center she drew a dark circle, and radiating outward from the bizarre human figure she scratched out a haze of foggy charcoal.

      "Souls have a certain anatomy to them", she explained, slipping unconsciously into her teacher voice. Suddenly her Alvadas accent was dialed down as she measured out and annunciated her words. "There are a few differences, but the basic structure between living and dead souls are remarkably similar. If this is the body", her stick flew across the paper as she labeled the layers of the charcoal man in perfect cursive, even with her left hand, "then on the inside you have the first layer, the astral body. This is the part of your soul that interacts with the physical world. Think of it like the puppeteer. Then deeper still you have the persona, the part of your soul that's you; your memories, feelings, personality, things like that. Then in the middle of it all", she jabbed at the dark inner circle. "Is the soulcore. I don't know much about it. Presumably its the purest essence of what makes you, you. What separates you from me, from that teapot, from everything else in the world. Anyway, I want to talk about this part here."

      Indicating the first two layers of soul, she smudged the 'body' of her drawing with the thumb of her glove. "When you die your soul is separated from your body. But your soul stays the same. Mostly. This outer part, the astral body, decays and turns to soulmist. But it was an astral body first."

      Drawing a little cup of tea under the smudged man's nose, she indicated with wavy lines the steam passing right through the body and into the first layer of the soul, and tentatively the second.

      "I want to isolate that the part of this plant that reacts to the soul. Because all souls, living and dead, have the same basic structure, its reasonable to expect that the essence of this plant to work on all souls. It should, theoretically, have the same effect on any soul, living or dead, person or animal."

      That was a tall order, considering they were a tea maker and a medium, she realized. She had no idea where to start with something like that.

      "But maybe we should start smaller", she chuckled, embarrassed by her enthusiasm. "Maybe there's a way to capture the vapour somehow, or turn it into a potent oil, so we can add it drop by drop into other things to make new effects."
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      Tea Topics

      Postby Adoian on June 19th, 2021, 9:22 pm

      Inhaling the steam wafting from the top of the tea brought about a sensation of serenity and calm to Ado. He felt more at ease, the few concerns riddling his brain subdued for the moment. It smelled and tasted just like regular mint tea if a bit stronger. Refreshing and cool. He took a moment to relish in the familiar feel of a cup of warm tea cradled between his hands.

      He pondered what Madeira said about the mint attracting and derailing ghosts. He knew that he would try to chase that feeling forever if he was deaf and heard music for the first time. Could spirits form addictions? Would a ghost try to get more wraithmint out of a desire for any sensation?

      When Madeira pulled Ado’s journal over to articulate her theory, it took some restraint for him not to stop her. He didn’t write anything personal in the journal, just his notes on the flavors he had tried, which ones worked, and which ones did not. It was an heirloom from Guzo and was older than Ado. The book’s first quarter was full of Guzo’s philtering entries, seasonal harvesting times, trade records from Sykan sailors, and other little tidbits about the plants around the teahouse. It was a sentimental item to Ado, but he supposed it was acceptable for somebody as knowledgeable as Madeira to use it for this purpose.

      He listened as Madeira drew and explained the intricacies of the soul. Unfortunately, terms like “astral body” and “soulcore” and “soulmist” were lost on Ado, and the explanations just barely helped his understanding of the subject. He was impressed mainly by the delicate flow of the drawing and the cursive, which Ado couldn’t read well.

      “So, in theory, does everything have a soulcore? Even objects?” Ado asked during a pause in Madeira’s teaching.

      The drawing of the teacup and the steam coming off of it and through the layers of the drawing’s body were what made the pieces fall into place and finally click in Ado’s mind. That’s why the steam gave him the feeling of ease, but the tisane itself was just regular mint tea.

      Madeira aimed to make somehow a substance that was the pure essence of what made the wraithmint react to the soul. Ado suspected that perhaps the woman knew all along that this family would have just what she needed to make that happen.

      It was only too possible to make an oil from the wraithmint’s vapors at the teahouse. Guzo kept his philtering equipment on a separate workbench in the kitchen, hidden by stacks of journals, jars of flowers and herbs, and other odds and ends. Ado eyed it but was hesitant to suggest they use the equipment.

      Any time Guzo needed to use the alembic to extract oils, he would show Ado what to do and help with the process. But Ado had never done it without supervision, and he didn’t know if he felt confident enough to lead an experiment on his own.

      Regardless, the plan was already forming in his mind, and he meandered over to the workbench to take a closer look at what was on hand.

      “We can definitely make that happen. The teahouse has everything we would need to make an oil extraction from the wraithmint,” Ado paused, moving some stuff over to reveal the pieces of the disassembled alembic. He set Guzo’s journals on the floor and put the various plant-filled jars onto a higher shelf so they would be safely out of the way.

      “To be honest, I’ve never used this equipment alone, but I’ve seen Guzo do it enough times that I can probably put everything together properly,” Ado explained to Madeira, then turned to her.

      “It’s quite a long process, and even with the amount of mint with you, you’ll only get a minimal amount of oil from it, but I think it will be well worth the effort.” First, he checked the 4-gallon cask on the workbench to ensure it was full of water to keep the distilling coil cool. It was only about half full; he would need to fill it the rest of the way.

      “I’ll need to fill this cask. In the meantime, I have a task for you,” Ado pulled out the small brazier and set it to the leftmost side of the workbench, “There are small pieces of wood in a basket over there,” He pointed to the back corner of the kitchen, “We use those for the brazier. We’ll need five or six pieces to get the alembic hot enough. I’ll bring you a few pieces of coal from the wood stove once you get them arranged.” He smiled and left her to her task while filling buckets from the water barrel in the dining room to fill the cask.

      When the cask was full, and the logs in the brazier were set, he used a coal shovel to bring some glowing embers from the stove to the brazier. They would catch after a minute, so he left them there to set up the alembic.

      The whole assembly was made of one large, pear-shaped base with a screw-on lid connected to a long glass tube that went up, then curved down and connected to a spiral-shaped tube set inside a large copper cup with a flat bottom and sides. The bottom of the cup had a small spout where the oil would come out after cooling.

      Ado set the pear-shaped base onto the holders of the brazier without the lid.

      “Okay, try to stuff as much of the wraithmint into this, then we’ll add some water and wait for it to boil,” Ado directed Madeira. When finished, he screwed on the lid and attached the tube to catch the steam to the top. Then, inside the copper cup, he started adding water from the cask. It held about a half-gallon pitcher of water. Were Morwen not missing, the teahouse would have a stash of ice to use to keep the water even colder, but that wasn’t an option for now. As long as the water in the cup was colder than the steam, it would work.

      “So what will happen is the water will start boiling with the leaves, extracting that essence you’re looking for in the form of steam,” He pointed to the tube on top of the base.

      “The steam will rise into this glass, and cool, falling,” His finger trailed down the hose to the spiral inside the cup now full of water, “Into here. The tube has a spiral shape that will allow the steam enough time to cool and condense before dripping out of this spout.” He took two of the small glass vials Guzo kept stocked, placed one underneath the spout and one next to it.

      “It won’t all be oil. Some water will be inside the vial, but oil will float on top of the water so that it can be easily separated.” He stood back to double-check his work, hands on his hips. He hoped that he had done everything correctly. He had the full cask on standby to refill the cup whenever the water became too hot, he was keeping an eye on the flame to make sure it wouldn’t get so hot as to crack the glass, and he had the material mixed with a sufficient amount of water.

      “It may take up to a bell for all of the water to evaporate, at which point the mint’s essence will have converted to oil and water,” He pulled over two stools, offered Madeira one to rest on, and sat on the other in front of the alembic.

      “Now we just have to keep an eye on it and move the oil into the empty vial when it becomes full.” He crossed his arms and leaned back a bit. Maybe he should have informed Guzo of his plans first. It was, after all, his equipment. But Ado knew well enough how to be careful with the alembic. He knew that it was a costly tool that Ado would never be able to replace. The fear and anxiety of the situation were there. However, the anticipation of the result was stronger.

      “So, how do you plan to use this oil with ghosts? Spread it on a biscuit? Waft it under their nose?” The room would begin to smell like the mint in a manner of a few chimes, filling the air with the calming nature of the plant.
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      Postby Madeira Dusk on June 24th, 2021, 11:41 pm

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        “So, in theory, does everything have a soulcore? Even objects?" Ado asked.

        Madeira shook her head emphatically over her cooling tea. "No. Only conscious beings have a soul, and thus a soulcore, because it's a concept of self. But", she jabbed her charcoal at him, her eyes lighting up with what could either be passion or mania. "The soulcore is just a ultra-concentrated, ultra-pure form of djed. And djed is in all things. Or is all things, to be more precise. It's not something that can be explained concisely, but think of it as this universal energy from which the world is and is made. It takes some mental gymnastics, but once you nail that concept you begin to understand what a soul is."

        It wasn't an idea that Madeira had really internalized until she had been initiated into auristics and, to a smaller degree, malediction. Even just seeing just the edges of the aura around a body, full of intention and movement of djed and the soul, had opened her eyes to what it really was. And corpses, just from having once contained a soul, were so saturated with power that an entire discipline of magic sprang up to harness it. Everything new she learned just served to deepen her awe.

        Watching Ado work was fascinating. Madeira stayed quiet, simply observing him as he set up absurdly delicate glass instruments over a small burner. He was all business, explaining he was doing and what was going to happen like a scientist, someone in love with the process. He wasn't confident about his abilities, clearly following a path his grandfather laid out, but he was knowledgeable, careful, and curious with everything he did. Madeira suspected he felt about the kitchen like she felt about her lab.

        The Spiritist moved as directed, first arranging kindling beneath the burner and the adding as much of their wraithmint as she could to the strange boiling flask. It was refreshing to be a student again. Once both their tasks were done she was informed that there would be a wait. Stools were brought out and they sat together, keeping a careful eye on their experiment as the room began to fill with the gentle smell of mint.

        Madeira laughed at Ado's suggestion of what to do with the oil as the first cloudy drop trembled and fell into the vial.

        "All fabulous ideas, but I was thinking more of combining it with candle wax", she chuckled. "Or even wearing it on my skin like a perfume. Imagine walking into a room and having such an immediate, visible effect on people." She raised her arms in a silly, dramatic mime of fanning out a luxurious curtain of hair, a move the prostitute Belladonna taught her as a way to tantalize a man with a wave of perfume.

        "I also have some magical disciplines that would be interesting to combine with it. I'm learning to make these... talismans. Items imbued with magic. What would happen if I anoint them with this soul-touching oil? Also as part of my spiritism practice I make this substance out of my own soul that a ghost can consume. I'm very, very good at it. A ghost will do a lot for just a taste. But what would happen if I added this oil to it? There might be not be anything they wouldn't do for me at that point."

        Her tongue tapped thoughtfully off her teeth in a little pop. She was still staring at the vial but he mind was clearly elsewhere, turning endlessly over the possibilities. She came back to herself with a start, glancing over at Ado.

        "What do you call this?", she waved a gloved hand over the glass-and-copper assembly in front of them. "I'm pretty ignorant", she admitted wryly. "When I buy oils and salves I never think about how they're made. Did your family teach you this?" They were both legacy decedents, it seemed unlikely that he would have learned such a skill outside the confines of the family tree.

        "What would you do with the oil?", she finally asked. "Overdose your customers on chill-out oil and run Flights of Fancy out of business?" She smiled crookedly. "Truly, though, how can I repay you for your help? One good turn and all of that."
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        Madeira Dusk
        long may she reign
         
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        Tea Topics

        Postby Adoian on June 27th, 2021, 4:34 pm

        As the water in the copper cup started to steam, Ado ladled it out into a spare bucket and refilled the cup with cooler water from the keg. These days, the teahouse couldn’t afford to waste even a single drop of water.

        His mind still reeled with the newly learned concepts of djed and the soulcore. Was he made of djed? Was the soulcore made of djed? Did djed come from the soulcore? Were djed and the soul the same?

        The questions thundered through his mind, roiling like waves so fiercely that he hardly heard Madeira’s answer. Candle wax, what a brilliant idea. Ado’s imagination, he realized, was admittedly limited to the applications of tea or baked goods.

        He chuckled at Madeira’s dramatic flourish, ears turning bright pink. She was pretty sensual, even bandaged and bruised, and had a way of drawing Ado’s eyes to her. More out of curiosity than desire. Ado had never met anybody quite like her, and the more he learned about her interests and career, the more he wondered just what he had gotten himself into.

        “This… substance… that you create, from your own soul?” Ado started, unsure how to phrase his question, “Do you… does it… does that hurt you? Will you eventually... run out of soul?” He felt himself mentally recoil, There might not be anything they wouldn’t do for me at that point. There was a glimmer of something he recognized there, something he had seen in Atsuya a few times.

        Atsuya was known for being ferocious and occasionally even brutal with her students. She was a hard worker and an even stricter teacher, but her students learned well and fast and were some of the best martial artists to come out of the city.

        “I can stand here and show you how to dodge, how to swing, how to read your opponent’s tells, how to feint,” Atsuya yelled, dodging punches easily from a student she was using for a demonstration, “But I am not running a monastery, and your opponents won’t always play fair.”

        She pulled a small knife from a sheath at her side and whipped out fast as lightning, leaving a long slash across her opponent’s calf. He cried out and dropped to a knee.

        “Up!” Atsuya yelled. The student, a boy younger than Ado, who was barely 16 at the time, looked at her and stood, blood trickling down his leg. She started throwing punches this time, and the student did his best to dodge her, but she was fast, and he started taking hits. First to his ribs, then glancing off his cheek, and finally one to his nose. Not enough to break it, but enough to make him drop again and ask her mercy.

        Atsuya stepped back, barely breathing hard. Ado had seen this demonstration before, and he knew it was necessary, but it was still hard to watch and seemed harsh. The other students around the room were baffled.

        “Your opponents, in the real world, won’t stop when you’re hurt. They won’t give any leniency, and they won’t feel sorry either.” She paused, making eye contact with everybody, including Ado, “I’m here to teach you how to fight and how to keep fighting even when you’re hurt. If you never take a real punch, you won’t be prepared for the pain when you do. There will always be somebody stronger, faster, and better than you.” The look in Atsuya’s eyes at that moment was the exact look coming from Madeira now.

        That look said, I will have what I want.

        Ado watched Madeira thinking, unable to make himself say anything or look away until she blinked and looked right at him. He bristled and glanced back to the oil slowly dripping into the vial, embarrassed she had caught him staring. The vial was getting close to being full and would need to be separated soon.

        He was thankful to have something to talk about when she started asking questions.

        “This whole assembly all put together is called an alembic still. We’re using it today to make oil, but we have used it to create a wide variety of different products. What it does is called distilling, and the end product is called the distillate.” Ado stood and separated the oil in the vial into the empty vial, pushing a white, glass mug under the spout to catch the liquid still pouring out, “We’ve used it to make balms, salves, perfumes, and even different alcohols.”

        He held up the leftover water in the vial that didn’t have the oil in it, “This remainder is what Guzo calls hydrosol. It’s essentially super condensed wraithmint water. Regular mint hydrosol has a plethora of medicinal uses. I can only wonder at what this wraithmint hydrosol could do.”

        He poured the hydrosol into the cup under the spout and set the vial with a few drops of oil aside.

        “My grandfather started teaching me about distillations almost six years ago. He is a master alchemist, and some of the work he does has made Mhakula famous. I was supposed to be a fighter like my sister, but,” He shrugged, “This is more interesting to me.”

        The thought hadn’t crossed his mind of what he would do with the oil, but he laughed at Madeira’s suggestion for it.

        “I’m not sure we could handle that kind of business here, but I can’t say it’s a bad idea. No, but I can see it becoming a popular menu option. Or maybe I’ll purchase some candles from you, and we’ll put them around the dining room.”

        At her suggestion of repayment, Ado’s brows furrowed. The experiment hadn’t felt like something he would want a returned favor. It was his job to do stuff like this, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. But, if she was offering…

        “You seem very knowledgeable about djed, and I’ve always been curious to know more, but I don’t have time to go to a school for it,” He looked over at her, “Maybe whenever you need to come by for more oil, we can talk about it some more.”

        It was the subtlest way he could ask her to visit the teahouse more often. He knew she probably had a busy life, with a wife to care for and a job to go to, ghosts to look after. But anytime he found somebody that he could learn something entirely new from, he held onto them fast and didn’t let go until they no longer served his needs.
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        Adoian
        Tea is always a good idea
         
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