Mana P1y1s23

Mana: And so it was written: Pokiehlember 1st, Year 1, Salamander's Day. The Dreaming City is bustling, but the Dancing Pine doesn't get many who call upon it.
Alexander opens up the door, walking inside, as he can't but help comparing it to the illusion that he saw in the Dreaming City.
Mana: Similar: The cases are all in the same place, the shape of the building is the same. And the proprietor is definitely Efuree - the same blue hair, the same smile in her face despite far less makeup being painted onto it - but the stock has very much changed.
Mana: Now, clockwork. Clocks and puppets and a whirring wooden bird that chirps a "Visitors!" turning to look at Alexander as he enters.
Mana: Gears are turning in the chest of a human-shaped one, life-size, stretched out on threads along the rafters.
Alexander seems a bit surprised, although he supposes that even in the shadowy underground, a jewelry ban is still a jewelry ban.
Mana: Efuree sweeps over - "Ah, good afternoon, dear. What brings you to the trade?"
Alexander: "A couple of…odd things, really. I had the misfortune of running into the Dreaming City on my way here-it's been quite some time since I was last in Shade-and I happened to stop by a somewhat-different version of your store."
Mana: "I can't be held accountable for the games of phantoms, really."
Alexander: "No, but I was still pretty curious about your shop. The stock seems to have changed greatly since the illusion's portrayal of some decades ago."
Mana: "Naturally. I am in compliance with the jewelry ban."
Alexander: "A shame about that, in it's own way. Did…Montford ever come and pick up the Illusionist's Cabinet?"
Alexander: "Assuming that really happened, and was not just a phantom's fabrication."
Mana: "Never. It had to be melted down."
Alexander sighs. "That's quite a shame."
Mana: Efuree nods, a wistful look in her eyes. "Powerful magic in that one."
Mana: "It used to be you could put a piece together, hand it out, and let the world be changed."
Alexander: "Sadly, all things change." He looks around the room a bit. "What made you decide to go into-" he gestures with his hand towards the room, "-all of this?"
Mana: She snaps her fingers, and a marionette runs up to her, offering her a saucer with teacup. She takes it - the marionette coughs an "ahem" - and she flips it a coin.
Mana: "I think," she says, after some time. "Were I feeling fancy, I'd say it's about life."
Mana: "Complicated things, running according to secret rules, that seem like they have intelligence… hm…"
Mana: "…Ah, it's that, or it's a use of my talents for finicky mechanisms that were, otherwise, going wasted. Don't you think, love?"
Alexander: "Oh, quite so. It does seem to it's own sort of charm. Do you get much in the way of business?"
Mana: "Mostly on the clocks, really. But I'm quite well off, even now."
Mana: "I did the work on the Millions Clock, you see."
Alexander's brows raise a bit. "That's quite impressive."
Mana: "Still keeps fine time, even now."
Alexander frowns a bit. "I'm not one hundred percent sure that's the case. There was a bit of an incident at the City Heart this morning. A big monster made a bit of a ruckus. Although I suppose that is more of a City Heart problem, and not a Millions Clock problem."
Mana: "The City Heart's always been finicky. Are the goblins after it again?"
Alexander: "The problem seemed to be of goblin make, yes. Problem was resolved in a timely manner, so I'm sure the repair crews are working on it now."
Mana: She smiles, brushing her hand over a clock behind her. "It's always been one of the city's highest priorities, too."
Alexander: "I'd imagine so. It keeps Titania's lifeblood flowing, in some ways."
Alexander: "Sadly, some is not flowing."
Mana: "You're discussing Mana, I imagine."
Alexander: "A sproutling brought it to my attention this morning. And it doesn't seem like His Eminence is inclined to fix the problem."
Mana: "Well then, dear…" She lifts a bell from a stand, rings it once.
Mana: Blinders drop down over the windows. All the clocks chime at once. Doors opening, cuckoos spinning, and little wooden drawers popping out…
Mana: …So that's where all the jewelry went.
Alexander looks a fair bit startled. And impressed.
Alexander: "That's quite the setup."
Mana: She blows a kiss. "Since you seemed so… disappointed."
Alexander: "Well, colour me impressed. Sadly, my funds are still a bit lacking at the moment-I'm supposed to be dead, and that does terrible things to accessing your account-but I'll certainly keep your shop in mind for later on. And recommend it to some friends."
Alexander: "And if I manage to keep my estate, I might look into getting a new clock."
Mana: "Really? Interesting, interesting." She rings the bell again. Everything snaps shut once more - except for one drawer, with the [Dead Signature] ring, which she has to push shut by hand.
Mana: "And no, his eminence is not inclined to fix the problem. His eminence, in fact, is causing it, very much by intention."
Alexander frowns. "He knows that this will cause Mana to stagnate? That's even worse."
Mana: "Wouldn't you say? But the systems of the city have been pulled together to choke and strangle it."
Alexander sighs. "Sound like my newfound friends and I have our work cut out for us. Not that we didn't already have that idea."
Alexander: "And not to presume or anything, but your 'phantom' self said you were the Court Doctor's sister?"
Mana: "So I am. Though… we don't discuss things that often, these days."
Alexander: "There's certainly a resemblence. Although you are the prettier one."
Mana: She raises her hand to her chin. "Oh, perhaps."
Alexander: "Would you happen to have any ideas on how to convince your sister to allow Vush to open the Salamander Gate? It may not fix everything, but it'd at least be a start, and Vush won't do it without her say-so."
Mana: "Vush…"
Mana: "…is very simple. He's looking for revenge."
Mana: "He carries the Lodestone, you see - the bringer of war. It's his nature to push forward and leave ruin all around him, without considering the consequence."
Alexander: "Revenge?"
Mana: "Most say it without thinking of it, but he really is a beast brought to heel by Erinee. He used to be the scourge of the west…"
Mana: "…But my sister went out and captured him, bringing him and his army to serve the Emperor."
Alexander: "…I see. No wonder he calls her a witch, and worse I'm sure."
Mana: "Indeed. In her youth, she wore Pyrargite - now, Anglesite, the bringer of old age."
Mana: "What does that say about her…? A restorer, a maintainer, a manipulator."
Mana: "I think, of anyone in the court, she holds the most power, as is the call of Anglesite."
Alexander: "Quite so. She did seem like someone I did not want to get on the wrong side of, the odd times I saw her."
Mana: "If I can say one thing in her favor-" Efuree smiles. "-The old bat is masterfully two-faced."
Alexander: "As enlightening as this conversation has been, I'm afraid I must call it to a close. And dreadfully sorry that I've just been window-shopping. I do promise to return another time, but I fear my friends have continued on without me while I stopped in here."
Mana: She smiles. "Happy to help. I'm always willing to talk jewels, you know."
Alexander: "I'm glad to hear it."
Mana: And so it was written.

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