The Archipelago was windier than usual today, giving the entire island that extra little chill in the air as the wind whipped through Kharia's hair and clothes. The tides were a bit higher too, something giving them a little extra boldness today as they crashed and rolled against the crops of rock hundreds of meter below her. It seemed appropriate given the kind of situation she was facing today. She glanced at the two chairs and table she had set out for her impending guests before closing her eyes, her hands coming together against her mouth in thought...or prayer, either one. Twins, both from Arshaka, one given the normal blooded treatment (high education, magical tutelage, asshole father), and the other, who was, given how it was described to her, brutally tortured until her mind was fractured beyond all repair. Now they were both running from their home, hoping to find a new one after they sorted a more pressing problem.
Kharia was never one for rooting around inside minds, she had studied it, sure, but actually fixing or even manipulating the brain was something she had never really tried before. The only reason she could think of that someone would recommend her is just because she wanted to help people (and evidently people decided not to pay attention to her lack of expertise in some areas). It was irrelevant at the end of the day, she would try to help, and if she could, she could, if she couldn't...well, hopefully, she would know someone that could...
The island was chilly, far colder than Arhsaka. It was the wind mostly. On these planes and hills there was nothing to stop the breeze as it came off the water and into your face. Not like at home where towers, buildings, and walls kept most of that at bay. It made everything that much worse. Good thing the two travelers had packed heavy. They were both wearing matching black coats made of fine leather and fur; gold buttons trimmed the lining on the sleeves and fronts. The girl's was naturally tailored to fit a feminine cut, but otherwise they were identical. The two refugees coming to visit this day were related by blood, yet looked nothing alike. The male, taller and elder of the two, had black hair and purple eyes. If anyone was studied in the way of noble history and bloodlines, they would know these traits were most commonly found in the Blankenship family tree. The girl however, possessed neither of those traits for she had long green hair and golden eyes. Rumor has it, their mother had an affair (but talking about such things was practically inviting trouble to your doorstep).
"Big brother?" the girl would ask.
"Yes, River?" the boy would look at his younger sister with a smile. She was eating a pastry they'd bought in port. They hadn't eaten much since leaving the Empire, and she refused to eat anything else once her nose caught whiff of the delectable smell. Rather than fighting with her and making a scene, he paid for the desert and finished her roasted pork himself.
"Where are we going?"
With a smile on his face he said in a kind voice, "We're going to see someone who might be able to help you, remember?"
"You mean with the memory thing, don't you?"
"I do. You should be able to remember who you are and everything that's happened over the last few years. I need your help proving father did this to you. But if you can't remember..."
She would fill in the part he didn't want to say out loud, "That I'm not really a ten year old?"
Rubbing his hand through his hair he sighed, "Yeah. That you're not ten years old."
"I like being ten though," she protested before taking another bite of the pastry.
"River, you don't even look like a kid anymore. I mean, look at you, you've gone through puberty for Mysts's sake." The green haired girl would look down and reach up with her right hand to give her breast a squeeze. He slapped her hand and softly scolded her, "Stop it! What if someone saw you?"
"They're really squishy, big brother."
Sighing again he rubbed his hand through his hair, "I'm not even dignifying that with a response. Now, before we get there. I need you to do something for me. Think of it...like a game."
"A game?" she asked, perking up from her pastry in her mouth.
"We need new names. We can't let people know we're from the Empire. So we need to think of new ones."
Without skipping a beat she'd ask, "What about Rhoanoa and Rhiana?"
"Those are out middle names," he reminded her. "And it's not exactly a secret."
"Uuuhhhh. How about Noa and Ana?"
He thought about it for a moment and then nodded, "Yes I suppose that could work. It's short, and you should be able to remember it. Noah and Ana.....we need a last name..."
Her attention had now left the pastry as she spun some of the green strands of hair in her fingers, "Green..."
"Noah and Ana Green. I like it. Alright. Think you can remember that?"
River, or Ana, would look up at her bother and nod, "I think so, big brother. It'll be a fun game. And I always win."
Now talking to himself he'd say, "Well if she just keeps calling me big brother it won't be a problem either." He'd then notice that their path would split and lead them up to a house on the hill. He tugged his jacket closer and would bring his other hand down to hold her hand while leading her up the cliff. "Just try to let me do all the talking, if possible. Alright?"
"Ok, big brother."
Nodding to himself, he knew this was going to be a struggle. But if this Magi could help River remember her past, or father present self, then they could return home to Arhsaka and confront their father for the crimes he committed against his daughter, and get the truth out from him about their mother. How long had Father been lying to them? Was their mother really dead? Or was she out there, visiting him in his dreams in hopes he'd come find her in the real world?
Kharia had been watching the seas from her home when she saw the ferry approach. The winds clotted and thickened to gave way to thunder, and in moments, two solitary lightning bolts brought her from the house to the docks. The harbormaster had gotten used to her just dropping in like this by now, barely even registering it. Kharia strolled to the edge of the harbor and buried her hands in her pockets, waiting as the small blip in the distance continued to grow.
When the boat finally came to a halt and people started spilling out, Kharia stood back a little, letting the flow pass right by her. The pair knew her face and she knew theirs so they would find each other quickly enough. Sure enough, as soon as the line began to thin out, she spotted a tuft of green moving off the boat, moving toward it quickly. "Hello!? You two there! I believe you're looking for me." She called, waving them over.
Keeping to themselves, the two travelers decided it was best to stay behind and not be the first off the barge. But as the small crowd became less cluttered they'd shift their way in and try not to be too noticeable. For staying completely back would also give them away. They wished to blend into the crowd. Be ordinary. Stepping off the boat they were -however- recognized immediately. Least their host hadn't used their names. That was a blessing. Giving his sister a worried look, Reese -or rather Noah- would start to make his way over; his sister following behind closely.
"I didn't expect we'd be met on the harbor. But we appreciate the appearance. Can we get out of sight please?"
Kharia understood the desire for anonymity, or at least, to get out of sight. She didn't know the full story of their plight, but it was fairly obvious that they were trying to run from something, though she had no idea what. All that mattered right now was that one of them needed her help and she saw no reason to refuse (well, aside from the possibility of failure). Kharia nodded toward the man, offering a hand to him. "Take my hand, please," She said, looking over his shoulder and over her own as she did. The crowd was thinning quickly, but there was no indication of a spy or informant or anything to worry about really. If she couldn't spot them and they were there, then they would already know her unique face and just have to ask around to get her name and location. Regardless of whether or not they were spotted then, she concluded, it was best to flash to her home for the sake of time.
A Lightning Bolt engulfed the two in light, dispersing them and Kharia into the air. Moments later, they were whole again, standing outside her home on a small patch of grass on her property, cut in a way as to resemble a target. Considering how destructive a lightning bolt could be, probably best not to go straight into the house unless she felt like remodeling. For the twins, it would have just felt like a rush of air went straight through them, like ghosts - Kharia tried to lessen the feeling of being absorbed into lightning for them, for the sake of not being utterly traumatized by a new experience. It would take anyone with a horse half an hour to get here, maybe 20 minutes if riding them hard, so they had a little breathing room. "Are you two okay? Some people feel a bit weird when I do that with them." She asked, gesturing toward the house. "If you're feeling disoriented or cold, I made some tea in my house for you two, some sandwiches too."
Their escort would understand the need to get out of sight and would offer for them to take her hand. The boy, Noah as he called himself, would nod to the green haired girl and hold his out. She smiled, taking his, before he then in turn took the girl's. In a flash -literally- they were being whisked away and had now been transported somewhere else entirely. Kharia would try to comfort them by asking if they were ok, and if they needed tea or sandwiches. But when she looked back to check on them she'd see that they didn't seem bothered at all. Quite the opposite in one aspect.
Noah was brushing himself off and flattening down his hair as if the lightning or wind had been nothing but a necessary nuisance. The girl was the one who was totally mystified as she was looking around in awe. "Big brother! That was so cool! We were like! whoosh! and swisssh! did you see? Did you see, big brother?"
Noah ignored his sister's childlike wonder of their travel method and simply explained to Kharia, "I was trained for years in the academy in Rhisoka. Magic is no surprise to me. But please, some tea for my sister would be nice. And I suppose I could do for a cup myself. Come, Ana."
Following after Kharia they would make their way up and into the house. Noah would keep his hands in his pockets until they got inside where he could remove his coat and effects, helping his sister out of hers as well. Once removed of their winter disguises, Noah would sit on one of the nearby couches with an elegance of only a trained noble. His sister on the other hand decided to snoop around the rest of the room, touching everything she could in sight.
Kharia smiled at the girl's reaction, it was so childlike and innocent. She didn't see any of the world-weariness in her eyes that everyone else had - it was refreshing, and also a bit tragic. It gave her an idea as to what she was dealing with as well, but she wouldn't know any specifics until she was inside and had her laying down. Kharia moved ahead of them and held the door for them as they stepped over the threshold. "I'll take your coats and hang them up, please take off your shoes, I don't like things from outside getting tracked all over my carpets," She said, taking the coats as they were removed and gently placing them on some pegs she had nailed into the wall beside the door.
The tea lay steaming on the table, a small cup of milk beside them and a bag of sugar too. She relied on the brother to keep his sister from shoving the entire thing into her mouth and swallowing it all as her teeth melted from the sweetness. Once everything was dealt with, Kharia strolled into the living room, joining the siblings, and picked up some of the books that littered her armchair. "Sorry for the mess, I was doing some research into the mind to prepare for today," She explained, neglecting to mention the fear in the back of her mind. Mind magic was a volatile thing if performed incorrectly, especially for the novice or even the adept. If she messed up beyond just looking into her mind, she could rip it to shreds, and she didn't want to do this. After the books were cleared away, she finally took a moment to just rest, sitting down in her chair and smiling at the duo comfortingly. "I'm Kharia, it's nice to meet you both, I'll do everything I can to help with the lovely little lady here."
Doing as they asked, the twins would also remove their shoes before crossing into the homestead. On the couch, Noah would reach over and pour his sister a cup of tea, making it extra sweet. "Ana, quit messing around and come sit. Here, drink this. And be careful...it's hot." He blew over the top of the liquid to show her what to do and she took it, mimicking his actions and sipping it rather loudly with slurping sounds. Noah would sigh a little, choosing not to fight that battle and would make himself a cup now, minus the sugar.
"It's no problem," he would say out of courtesy. It actually sounded like he meant it. He didn't, of course, for this woman had all the time in the world to prepare for them; she knew they were coming days if not weeks ago. "And you can call me Noah. My sister, Ana. You understand our need for discretion of course. No one can know we're here or our father will surely send people to get us back."
Leaning back against the couch he'd take a small sip of his tea and then continue, "I'm grateful you're helping us. I've tried everything I knew how to do to repel the affect on her mind but nothing seems to help. I figured a specialist in the field would be better suited. You have no idea how difficult it was to find someone not loyal to the Empire."
Seeing the two interact, Kharia couldn't help but wonder just why he desired to end her illusion. She didn't know the full story, of course, she wasn't exactly in need of knowing everything and he wouldn't be willing to discuss everything via letter for obvious reasons. All the same, she knew that her illusion was cast to free her mind from a traumatic experience for a time...if her mind was so badly fractured that she needed to be regressed to a young girl to cope better, perhaps this mental state was the best thing for her. She listened to Noah as he explained a little more of their situation, mentioning how the two were running from their Father and how they needed someone not loyal to the Empire. Evidently, they were on the run from their parental figure, he was most likely the architect of this girl's suffering...maybe he wanted her mind 'restored' so they could get justice?
"I wouldn't exactly call myself a specialist," She countered, shrugging slightly. "I'm at least good enough to tell you exactly what you're dealing with and, maybe, how to lift it, but beyond that, we'll just have to see, I give you my word that I'll do everything I can to help you though." She leaned forward and gently lifted the teapot to her cup, pouring some out and adding three sugars as she calculated her next words. "Mind magic is a fickle field, easy to mess up if you're not sure what you are looking for since every mind is unique, I hope you understand that I'll need the full story about how she was put under this spell so I can get the best 'reading' of the situation, so to speak."
Kharia glanced over at Ana with a motherly smile, leaning forward and opening a small drawer in her table that she produced a small bowl of sweets from. "How are you feeling today Ana?
"And I appreciate that," Noah said in response to her assuring him she'd do everything she could for his sister. She would then ask him to explain the full story of what had happened before finding some sweets for Ana. The girl noted the bowl and reached for them, stopping just before taking them to give her brother a look. He nodded and she smiled ever so brightly and took a small handful, plopping most of them in her mouth.
With the candy gumming up her speech she'd try to say to Kharia, "I'm good! Big brother promised me we'd get something tasty for dinner if I behaved today."
Noah listened to his sister before holding his hand up in front of her face and gently correcting her, "Please don't talk with your mouth full. It's not polite."
The brother's acknowledgement went completely unanswered, Kharia's focus instead narrowing on the girl in front of her, her face half curious and half protective. She needed to know the details of her story, sure, but for the moment, she figured she could hazard playing 'surrogate' for a little bit. She knew she wasn't mother material, but she still wanted her to be comfortable for the time they were here. Kharia chuckled softly at the sight of this grown young girl mumbling through sweets and sugar, waving off her attempts to pronounce her name with her hand. "It's fine Ana, you can call me Kiki," She said with an amused grin. Kiki was a new one, she liked the sound of it, though it probably wasn't something she could see anyone other than the little one using since they could enunciate. "Though your brother is right, it's not very polite to talk with your mouth full, it keeps people from understanding you and it keeps you from enjoying the sweetness as much, and I think you're a girl that loves sweet thing, am I right?"
A bemused snort drew her eyes to the patio door, where Allei was lounging around the garden, watching the trio through the door like a nosey horsey. That mare loved to spy on her rider, she was so much like Kharia that it was kind off unsettling, though she figured that was probably why she liked the white horse so much. Her eyes quickly flicked back to Ana as she gestured to the peeping horse. "Do you like horses Ana?" She asked playfully. "Because Allei there? She needs someone to play with while me and your brother talk about boring stuff."
Ana would nod her head when asked if she liked sweet things. At least she didn't talk with a full mouth again. Kharia would then bring the girl's attention to a mare outside whom the green haired girl hadn't noticed was staring at them from outside the patio door. Ana's gold eyes snapped up and out the window where she spotted the horse. She shrieked quietly with a squeak and ran to the door. Looking back to her brother for permission he'd nod his head and try to set some boundaries but she was already out the door.
"It's fine, Ana. Just make sure not to- and she's gone." With a sigh he shook his head and rubbed his hair. Looking back to Kharia he would sigh again and switch directions. "Down to business then?"
Pushing his bangs out of his hair, Noah looked at Kharia with his purple eyes as a red line seemed to glow from within them. Kharia would recognize it to be mental magic, and if she had any distrust in the kid she'd know to look away. But he was there looking for her help; no such reaction would be called for. Noah would look to the side where the living room had some walking space and a scene of sorts would start to play out for the both of them. It was as if someone had walked out from behind the corner. It was so lifelike; Kharia would likely get the sense she could reach out and touch the bodies, only, nothing would happen and her hand would pass right through.
It started with Noah walking in with sweat on his brow. He was dressed different, wearing some sort of black and gold school uniform. He reached for a door that faded from nothing into a solid frame and turned the nob. It didn't budge. Shoving his shoulder into the frame he managed to push through and suddenly the room beyond the frame zoomed forward until the real Noah and Kharia were sitting in some lab. They were still in their respective couches, only now Ana was strapped down to a table in front of them.
The illusion of Noah would rush forward and try to take his sister's hand. She was screaming, though Kharia heard no sound (this was a choice on Noah's part; he didn't want Kharia hearing those awful screams that still plagued his own mind). Ana thrashed and screamed and poor Noah tried to calm her down to no avail. He looked around at all the machines that weren't there a moment ago and began busting them apart with a stand that hadn't been attached to anything currently. Sparks flew and the machines wore down allowing the apparatus currently held to Ana's head to unlock. Noah then pushed the rubes and strings away from his sister as he tried his best to free her without her hurting him -or herself- in the process.
The effort Noah was expressing was exhausting. He was clearly worried about his sister and didn't have a clue what to do about it. Panicking, he brushed away her green locks and stared into her golden eyes. Using the same spell he'd used on Kharia to show off this scene, he put Ana in her own world of illusion and lies. Her body would stop seizing if only for a bit as he worked on undoing all the many straps and brackets holding her down. Picking her up, he then rushed off into what would be Kharia's wall and the rest of the scene would fade away until they were back in her living room.
Noah sat back and lowered his head, "I put her in a spell to calm her down. I made her believe she was young again, and that I hadn't gone off to school yet. Only, the effects haven't worn off and I can't seem to undo it. I...don't know what to do. it's never happened before."
Kharia watched Ana for a few moments after she was out of the door, chuckling softly when the big brother said she was gone. It was fine, Allei would keep her close to the house, the Mare was intuitive like that. When Noah sat back and brushed his hair aside to show his eyes, Kharia took a deep breath and started walling off parts of her mind - the boy had enough to worry about without getting a look at the warzone she had going on in her brain. A slight heat and twinge in her brain told her that the connection had been made and Kharia looked toward the wall, seeing the image appear.
She watched the entire story unfold, seeing his rescue of Ana, his escape, and knowing that it was his Father that did this? Kharia clenched her fists and let out a heavy breath, the roll of thunder in the distance as she struggled to control her temper. This man was charged to protect and care for his children, and instead, he sent one away and experimented on the other, and for what? To turn her into some kind of weapon? To use her? She was a living being, his child!! It was heinous and depraved and cruel and cowardly! She could only imagine the pain that girl felt deep beneath her eyes...and maybe her brother knew it too.
When the connection was broken, Kharia leaned forward, threading her fingers together in thought as she stared at Noah, pondering her words. "Hmm...I think I might know what the problem is." She said softly, looking back out at Ana as she was feeding Allei. "In my experience, when people use mind magic, they tend to make an oversight which can cause many spells to go awry in some ways. The whole basis of mind magic is the fact that you are using your mind to manipulate another's, and you often use your mind in its entirety instead of only the parts you actually need for the spell. I think, subconsciously, deep down, when you saw her in so much pain, you wanted it all to go away, for her to be the happy sister that you saw when you left for school. You remembered old times, better days, and your mind drew on that inadvertently for the spell because of your limited training...I don't think that spell is going to be broken anytime soon, not without an enormous amount of power and effort anyway. The subconscious is a powerful thing, anyone that casts using it makes for very powerful holds on that person's mind, so unless you fully commit to undoing that spell, you're unlikely to get rid of it."
She sighed softly, this next part seeming perhaps out of turn, but it was something she felt she had to say. "Though I question if removing the spell is the best thing for her considering all she's gone through, with a little tweaking, assuming she is locked at that age, we could alter the spell so her mind grows up again, we could give her a second chance at a happy childhood."
Noah was relieved to hear that Kharia had at least an idea of what had gone wrong. Did that mean they could fix it, that was too soon to tell. She would explain to him that it was his own flaws that had caused the girl to go into this illusion. His desire alone to see her as a child was what changed everything inside her head. He didn't do it for her, he did it for himself. Now Noah felt even worse about what had transpired.
Lowering his head he sighed and closed his fingers tightly in his hand making a fist so firm his knuckles went white. How could he have been so stupid! Noah would never purposefully attack his sister like this. And yet, here they were. It was all his fault. Unless he truly wanted to see his little sister return to all that pain and suffering, she might never go back. And Noah knew, deep down, he could never make that wish upon his innocent little sister. She meant too much to him. She may never age, or never remember, but in her mind, she'd always be happy. She'd never have to remember those horrible things she endured at the hands of her father. So, why did this still seem like a bad thing?
Further prodding the point, Kharia offered her own assumption by agreeing that it was probably best Ana not recall those dreaded memories. Though, there might be a way to tweak the spell -as she claimed- so that Ana could grow up normally. Rather than simply believing she was always an eight year old girl, she could grow and learn and one day have the mind of a teenager and then an adult. Her body would be a few years ahead of her, but at least she'd be somewhat normal.
"Do you think...such a thing is possible? Would that be something you yourself could do?" The thing he didn't want to say was, "I don't want to meddle in my sister's head again."
Kharia was afraid that her explanation would make him feel like shit, when you were essentially told that your own mind and desires made your sister regress to that of an 8-year-old, it tended to foster some guilt if it was unintentional. She didn't want him to feel that way, but it was only natural that he would - she still felt the need to soften the blow though. Kharia took his balled fist and clasped it firmly, looking Noa in the eye. "Noa, this wasn't your fault, you just wanted to get you and your sister out of a bad situation and you wanted her to be happy again. I think we can both agree that if what I saw in those few moments occurred for years on end, it would be best if she forgot." She explained softly, gesturing toward Ana, now hanging off of Allei's neck like it was a tree branch. "I think it's safe to say that she couldn't enjoy herself like that with those memories unlocked."
On the subject of tweaking the spell, Kharia nodded confidently and rose from her seat, moving to the bookshelf and grabbing a tome on Mind Magic. "Despite the power of intention behind it, tweaking the spell is significantly easier than breaking it, it's like redirecting a small flow of water as opposed to blocking it off, one of those is less strenuous, time-consuming and a lot more stable." She opened the book and began to read through it from where she left off, pouring over the words of wisdom and instruction with an almost obsessive meticulousness. "In the worst of cases, it is known that redirection is far more bountiful than standing your ground, and in those cases, one can bring a joyous outcome for all while expending less than half the energy, that's what it says here." Closing the book again, she sat down and gave Noa a quick top-up of tea, taking a small spoonful of honey and stirring it in. "try to relax, we need calm minds to help us through this."[/color[