Alba joins the Inquisition

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SUMMARY: Rona visits Alba's farm in search of a crafter and, perhaps, an ally. She finds both, along with Friend Spider. 

A hot summer day at the Silkworks is, by popular opinion, among the worst of days to be working there. The smells of woodsmoke and burned spidersilk hang heavy in the air, the workers at the corrupted-carcass-pile uncover new and exciting stenches with every forkful of mutated dead animals fed into the mulching machine, and not even the barrel-sized crockery pots of tea, kept in the shade and cooled by evaporation, can banish the lethargy of the ranch's primary function.

It's a good thing the rescue-shelter is kept on the other side of the ranch property. Some things only people should have to deal with.

Yelrona tentatively pushes the gate open and enters the spiderfarm.

She notes the sign and considers it curiously. "So, does that mean you _are_ responsible for intentional death, but not intentional maiming?" She seems to be thinking out loud, more than she is talking _to_ anyone, and not really expecting an answer.

Eventually she gets the attention of one of the workers, having avoided the carcass-pile where most of them seem to be. Her theory being that anyone who is ANYWHERE other than that is probably smarter, and therefore more likely to be of assistance. "Excuse me... I'm looking for Alba?"

Yelrona is directed to the barn in short order, because silk still needs to be burned. Some of it, anyhow; the coils marked for destruction have a worrying oil-slick sheen, and the purples and greens the fibers seem shot through look *decidedly* unhealthy.

Inside the barn.... oh my.

The entire structure looks to have been taken over by a mad and messy alchemist; herbs hang from the rafters in a haphazard manner, piles of tiny stones are scattered about without much in the way of thought given to organization, heaps of half-finished works and other detritus occupy some of the stalls, and the ceiling...

The ceiling is lower than it should be. *Much* lower. The top third of the barn's interior seems to be walled off by cobwebs, affording only the barest glimpse of shadow beyond.

Over a steaming cauldron, a masked Veyshanti woman hovers, tossing herbs by the fistful into a foaming green soup. "Welcome," the woman says without looking up. "What brings you to my door?"

From beyond the cobwebs, a muffled voice calls. "Alba, is *this* one a food?"

"No, Friend Spider, this one is not a food either," the woman replies with a sigh. "So. So so so. Wish something, you do."

Yelrona considers weighing in on the voice's question, but Alba seems to have resolved it handily with an admirably lack of ambiguity. Anything Rona herself might add seems... superfluous at best, and potentially muddling the issue at worst.

"I do," she says instead. "Well, a few things, actually, though I'll admit that 'not to be food' hadn't been on my list until I entered this barn. It's nice to have one's desires clarified like that," she observes a little dazedly, then shakes her head as though to clear it. "But never mind. I was told you were a crafter? I've heard accounts of a protective item I would like to commission, that you might be able to help with. And, also... I hear you are housing a friend of mine, and am hoping he's doing all right."

"Friend Spider is a rarity," Alba says, mask tilting to one side as her hair continues to move the great wooden stirring stick. "A great creature that has gained intelligence, and power. Yet, still a spider they are. Thus, all the things that move in the world are 'a food' or 'not a food.' The learning of which is what, she prefers to leave to others. Safer, this way."

The stirring stick is set aside, and a large wooden plane with a short handle picked up, and used to remove the dark-green foam from the top of the cauldron's contents. "So. Projects I may do, if there is coin. After the bargain is struck, perhaps we shall speak of your friend."

Yelrona nods. "Safer, indeed." For whom, Rona neither suggests nor inquires. She's heard of "Friend Spider" before, though she'd largely thought them a myth. Apparently not.

"And, yes, there is coin," she assures the witch, pulling a fairly heavy pouch from her belt. "The item I'm looking for is called an Ioun Stone, I'm told, though apparently there are many such stones. Indeed, I have one already, of a sort," she notes, pulling a small gem out of her pocket that lights the room with a continual flame. She releases it and it starts circling her head.

"The one I'm hoping to acquire is in the shape of a prism, and dusty rose in color, and affords the wearer insight into attacks, that they might be avoided."

Yelrona says, "...The one I'm hoping to acquire is in the shape of a prism, and dusty rose in color, and affords the wearer insight into attacks, that they might be avoided.""

If Alba's eyes move to the spinning torch, it's difficult to tell behind the slyly curving eyeholes of her mask. "The making of these trinkets, I know," she confirms. "The cost will be dear, but, such useful things oft are." A hand comes out to accept the purse, as her hair snakes out to snag a cup, depositing it in her free hand, then going for a dipper. The cup is filled in short order, and likewise offered out. "Also. The day is hot, and ruinous. Drink, it will help."

Yelrona smiles, hands over the purse, takes the cup, drinks appreciatively.

"The blade it averts is worth far more than the coin."

The drink is mostly mint, augmented with honey and a faint bitterness, possibly of willowbark. Even hot as it is, the drink is cooling, and soothing to the stomach. As Yelrona drinks, Alba dips a hand in the purse, jingling the coins for a moment, then removing a neat stack of coin, much less than one would expect to pay at market.

The better part of a week it will take. A small project I do, for another, and it shall not extend the time overlong."

The purse is handed back. "So. A friend, you speak of."

Yelrona nods, approving, and pockets the remainder. "Well... I would not have you speak overmuch. At least, not where unfriendly ears might overhear. Just... I would know if he is well. Or at least as well as the situation permits."

The mask tilts to one side. "I cannot speak, of what I have nothing to speak of. Here, also, only one pair of ears is there, and they are mine. Friend Spider cares little for what is not food. Tell me of this friend, as little or as much as you may."

Yelrona regards the witch carefully, and reminds herself that Chay spoke of her as one does of a friend. "He was part of a group that struck against Charn's slavers. Charn now seeks to strike at him. So he hides. How they learned of his identity, and why they've singled him out, I don't know, though we hope to find out."

"Saaah," Alba says, nodding. "This one, I know. Work he has done for me, and my protection he has. Enough I have known of the Sith, and of Charn, to know that have I the means to stop it, no Sith shall ever be delivered into Charn's dead hands."

The witch fills another mug for herself, pushes up her mask just a bit, and sips. "He is well... though soon he shall leave this place, once he has a knowledge and is comfortable enough within it to act as though he is not himself. What he does from there... hn. Secrecy is survival, it seems, and so I shall leave it to him to inform you what he does and where."

Yelrona nods. "For the best. I know what I need to know, and no more, and I don't need to know his movements. I speak of him to you only because he mentioned you with trust, and it's better to act together than separately. If he is safe here for a while, that is good. Though... well, learning to be other than we are, it's a slow process," she adds with a smirk. The situation isn't funny, but that's no reason not to laugh.

She looks at her mug for a while before continuing. "What I want to understand, honestly, is Charn. They have agents here... I would root them out. But a successful hunt starts with knowing one's prey, after all... knowing them well enough that we can predict where and how they will strike before they strike, that we know what bait will tempt them and what burrows they will retreat to. So... would you share what you know of them?"

"Hn. Little enough I know of Charn in detail," Alba says, "but what I know is fit to enrage. A nation of slavers and despots, they, full of the belief that who is weak must naturally be property of who is strong. Revel, they, in debasement and torture, and long and long have they seen the Sith as chattel that needs only the knowing of the lash to become their toys. Much that is taboo to us, is the mud-wallow of a pig for they."

Finally, Alba leans back, sipping at her cup. "More, I could say, but it is all of a piece. Enough, perhaps, to know that it pleases me greatly to make Charn, in whole or in part, to suffer."

Yelrona nods. Sips quietly. Eventually... "I know little about you. And what little I know suggests that you prefer a certain amount of solitude in your practices. But if you would band with others to bring a just suffering to those, like Charn, who enslave others... if would swear to be loyal to that task... I would offer you the opportunity to do so."

"I swear nothing," Alba says first. "One such bargain I make already, and it comes before all else. But I tell you this, and you will know it to be true; if my knowledge may make such beings suffer, you have only to ask, and it will be yours."

Yelrona nods again. Sits. Considers. "That will do. Let me tell you, then, of the Slaver's Inquisition."