Le Métallurgiste et le Thaumaturge

Title: Le Métallurgiste et le Thaumaturge
Time Period: July 3, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Custom at the newly re-opened Afanc Armory leads to demonstration, experiment, and the discovery of a deep dissonance.

The afternoon is fading into evening. Further obfuscating the sun's light are clouds clustering darkly near it and nowhere else; as if they are alive, impish and that is their very objective. The moss-covered roof of Afanc Armors lies within this shadow even though a stubborn beam of warmth teases just at the top of the hill behind it. It isn't exceptionally chill, but a thin trail of smoke emits from one of the twin chimneys. The sign above the door is too old and covered by mildew to be read, but the front door is ajar. That three-fingers space of an opening is the only potential indication that the shop is accepting business at all.

From inside, even before the threshold is reached, the sound of snipping can be heard. It's very rhythmic and distinct. Pause, snip, repeat. A sharp or straining ear can make out the much softer sound of something light and hard dropping lightly into a bucket; the latter object obvious from the strange hollowness of its reverberation.

That tell-tale sound, that persistent, ringing blow - it tells d’Sadonne that she has not been led astray. Trusting directions garnered in a foreign city is always something of a gamble, and though she walks safely in the lengthening shadow of her tall, mute armored escort - a man covered from head to foot in armor that has seen better days - she moves with caution until she can be sure that the sound she hears is truly what she seeks. And indeed, those dark clouds are not thunderheads, and that sound not some strange form of northern thunder. She’s been directed faithfully to Afanc Armors, the best - the only? - such place in Dornie.

The foreign mage does not knock. She nods to her escort, who knocks for her, three forceful raps, delivered out of synch with the echoing of what must be hammer blows. After a brief pause, the woman lifts her voice, the singsong of her French daring to brave the threshold before her feet do.

Bonjour! Vous avez un client!

The first knock shakes the door. The second causes it to slide back a triangle of wood that was holding it in place with the soft scrape of wood on wood. The third causes the small triangle of lumber that held the door in place to fall over and the door to slowly swing wide. This reveals a shop of sorts to the left, the opposite direction of which the door opens to. There is a display counter, but instead of there being a man behind it with a hammer as expected, there is a man on a stool with his back against the front of it. He holds a tool in his right hand that looks like the bastard lovechild of scissors and pliers. In his left, he holds what appears to be a very immobile spring. From this coil, each snip produces a single, broken ring. It falls into a metal bucket between his feet; shifting the building pile there and creating that soft sound that was barely heard over the rest. Without looking up from his work, Blake indifferently informs, "…I 'ave no fuckin' clue what you just said." His voice sounds tired, and his accent is perhaps a more subtle version of the local one, though it is hard to tell from such a short sample. He clears his throat immediately after he speaks, as if he has not spoken in hours or perhaps at all today.

So the knock is the entrance. No ‘open sesame’ required. The armored figure steps aside to allow d’Sadonne to enter first, a show of decorum for no one’s benefit - save perhaps Blake, who is not paying attention. The mage drifts into the structure, followed by her stooping bodyguard; her familiar is, as is so often the case, nowhere to be seen.

And of course that noise is from something else entirely - though d’Sadonne doesn’t appear to spend much time mulling over just what it is. The process appears, somewhat ironically from her hermetic perspective, rather arcane. She approaches, but not too closely. Her dress - a Hellenistic drape of dark grey wool - is not something she cares to put at risk from flying sparks.

Blake’s reply doesn’t seem to perturb her. d’Sadonne’s smile is, if anything, knowing - though there is no basis by which she can claim familiarity.

Désolé- I hope against hope I will find someone to whom I can speak without sounding quite silly,” d’Sadonne says, eyes sliding across the interior before settling back on Blake himself, “but on my oath, Monsieur, I am here for business, and quite serious.” This statement seems at least a little at odds with the remaining traces of that unjustifiable smile.

The second entrance causes Blake's skin to tighten behind his ears; pulling them back ever-so-slightly as heavy armored feet enter his shop. That nuance of alertness aside, he doesn't look up even when he finishes the coil several seconds after d'Sadonne is done speaking. No candles are lit inside, and it's very dark where the indirect light from the entrance does not spill. It's easy to tell that the snipping he does requires some muscle to be put into it by the way the edges of the tool meet with an abrupt stop. The clippers are dropped onto the metal pile in the bucket so both of his hands are free. They're currently stained from palm to fingertips by the carbon that's been soaked out of the steel during his work. Arching his lower back forward as his lifts his hands, Blake grunts in his throat. Squinting and blinking several times at d'Sadonne (or perhaps the silhouette she is to him even in the shadowed evening light behind her), the man lifts his right hand to occlude his eyes from the door as he stands. "Business," he repeats noncommittally. "Repairs for your man 'ere?" Even as he makes assumptions, he sounds apathetic.

Such a laconic gentleman. d’Sadonne uses the spaces that stretch between statements to take Blake’s measure. In the limited illumination it takes some time for her eyes to adjust, and she must fight to avoid inadvertently narrowing them, as if squinting against light instead of darkness. Her posture is straight, and her bearing might almost be called prim, but Blake’s state of being - grunting and grimy though it may be - doesn’t visibly offend her sensibilities. Indeed, despite her bearing, she’s simply dressed and simply appointed, her red hair half drawn up, half left to tumble down.

Her pale face grants her at least a little expressiveness, catching some of the little light. Behind her, the larger shadow of the armored man lumbers nearer.

Oui,” she says, word marked with unmistakable affirmation, “one piece at a time- mending dents and adding polish. This you can do, non?”

There is a visible pause for thought on Blake's face triggered by the question. His squint lessens as he replies, "Shut the door." Moving to the display, he lifts a hinged flap of it to fold the countertop over on itself and then steps through to get behind it. Reaching out with his right hand, a twist of a tiny knob on the wall illuminates the room via a hooded light overhead after several flickers and a very quiet hum. The bulb may not be very bright, but the becoming-dilapidated building has electricity. Despite this, there are a number of currently unused candles resting on wall sconces.

Blake crouches down, reaches under the counter and begins to dig through some heavy-sounding items that bang about not too loudly, but far from quietly on the wooden shelves. "Strip down to your gambeson," he demands matter of factly; his voice muffled from speaking towards the filled shelves beneath the countertop.

d’Sadonne does not comply at once, nor does her guardian, not until she lifts a hand to signal her permission. Dutifully, the armored man takes long steps to the door and pushes it closed. In the meantime, d’Sadonne glides over to the counter and sets her hands upon its edge, rising up on the toes of her sandals to try and get a look at Blake and his activities. Easier now that those lights have life.

“Your craft must be very fine, Monsieur,” she says, starting with a compliment but counterbalancing with the observation, “for if you have une languette d'argent as some tradesman do, you hide it well.” Her smile changes its curvature, not quite expecting him to take the bait, but hopeful that he might.

When the armored man rejoins them, she addresses him in careless French. “Retirez tout, mais votre aketon, René-” a beat, and then the amendment, “-et votre casque, évidemment.

The armored man - René, apparently - begins to comply wordlessly, first unfastening his gauntlets, to grant his fingers a touch more dexterity. Even so, his motions are ponderous and extremely deliberate.

From her new vantage, d'Sadonne can see that Blake has pulled out a hammer and some sort of curved oval covered with canvas, but he continues to dig. "I understand 'argent', but the rest of that nonsense you're sayin' is lost on my fuckin' ears. Now… what do you 'ave to barter in exchange for my services? I don't work for free." He stands up with the final object he was seeking; a brick-sized piece of wood with sandpaper tacked onto one side. Looking past d'Sadonne, he asks René, "What kinda man lets 'is woman do all the talkin'? Or do you only speak that…." Rather than finish his question, Blake waves his empty hand in a chaotic and dismissive gesture. He bends down again, the items he fetched are set on the counter and then he moves to step out from around the counter again with a judgemental, disapproving expression on his face.

“You are very rude for a man of trade,” d’Sadonne says, simplifying her statement into a wry line of words, none too lengthy - she speaks matter of factly, with no visible signs offense beyond the disappearance of her smile. “You will be kinder, perhaps, once you know I can pay?” is giving him the benefit of the doubt, “my ship has wine, honey- some spices, some dyes also. You would like a pelt perhaps? Something you cannot find in Scotland?”

The armored man doesn’t reply. It’s almost as if he hasn’t heard at all. He continues to remove pieces of his armor, revealing long limbs wrapped in bandages. “René is my vassal,” d’Sadonne explains, “so you speak to me-”

When Blake rounds the counter, she is there before him, arms crossed. “I am woman enough for the task, this also on my oath. Address me. To you, he will be mute. Comprenez-vous?”

Only what use is a question spoken in that language? She restates.

“I am making myself understood now, I hope?”

Many people react in a shocked manner when accused of rudeness even when it's true. Blake in no way appears offended. He steps around d'Sadonne as he hears her out, and begins to play squire; helping René strip the armor much more rapidly. It's doable by oneself, but far more slow than with a partner. Especially to don. He doesn't answer her question, unless him clearing his throat again (in a functional rather than pointed manner) is an answer. "I have no interest in wine or honey," his R's have that way of bouncing off the roof of the mouth that is rather common for the area. He puts a hand on the vassal's backplate so the breastplate can be removed without it falling. "I assume since you're fancy enough to have a vassal that your pelts aren't total shite. Bring me a few of what you have and I'll pick one fair. Deal?" He keeps his eyes on his work even as he asks.

Something is not quite right with René - as much may have been obvious from the outset. His silence is so total, even for a servant, and his stillness is much too still. It is more like disarming a dummy than a man. As his cuirass comes free, a small flurry of dried flower petals tumble out from where they had gathered, and more peek out from the near-ubiquitous bandages. His height is such that removing his helmet is no mean task, and even if Blake were to try, he’d find René resistant.

“No spirits or sweetness?” d’Sadonne says, taking a lean on the counter, “no wonder your temper is so poor.”

She’s goading him, if gently. She seems to find it hard not to. His taciturn truculence demands her defiance.

“Yes, this is a fair deal,” she agrees, “what I bring will be pleasing, I think, to anyone who can be pleased.”

Blake doesn't reach for the helmet, but it not being removed does get a glance. It's natural to remove the helmet first, and if anyone is going to notice something strange about the way one takes off his or her armor, it's Blake. In turn, the bandages and the flower petals pull at his eyes. Blake is barely taller than average, so he steps out from behind René to look around the vassal's shoulder rather than over it. His eyes are accusingly narrowed as he casts a stare at d'Sadonne. Without any shame in the action, he leans close to the man and sniffs at the flesh of the other man's right triceps. "If you brought a leper in here…" he half-threatens with a touch of growl to his voice. His upper lip curls back from his teeth into a muted snarl. It falls off his face as he turns towards the canvas hanging in the middle of the room and calls out, "Pighead!" Nothing happens.

"Get the fuck out here ya rat-bastard!" The proprietor stares at the canvas for a few more seconds, and as he takes an angry step towards it an ugly, colorful toad hops into the room. It stares right at d'Sadonne; ignoring Blake’s frown.

Non,” d’Sadonne says, dismissive as opposed to defensive “this would truly be the height of rudeness. René is no danger to you. He is not sick - c'est le contraire - he is cured.” This is a joke, as it so happens, but d’Sadonne knows better than to laugh, or expect laughter.

The toad’s appearance is cause for a change in focus. While before Blake was the sole object of d’Sadonne’s attention, the colorful creature draws her gaze, and brings that smile back to her lips.

“Allo!” she chimes, leaning over to address the creature, “Un tel crapaud mignon! Tout comme Octavie,” she looks up from her lean, “you are a mage as well! And I must guess that your gift serves your work. You did not abandon it for your trade, I hope?”

Blake and Pighead both stare at d'Sadonne for several seconds, leaving her question unanswered, then turn to stare at each other in turn. They share silent eye contact for nearly half a minute, but it's no mystery to another mage as to what is happening. They're having a telepathic discussion, or perhaps debate. It comes to some conclusion only hinted at by Blake's sigh and Pighead's refocus on d'Sadonne. Blake speaks as he drops to a knee to pick up a dented pauldron. There's a grumpy mutter in his voice as he speaks. "I don't want to know what was done to 'im, but he can have a seat by the door. Fuckin' braindead giant's takin' up half my damn shop." This is a gross exaggeration, but Blake continues to sort the armor pieces into two piles as if he expects his suggestion to be followed without argument. As the sorting nears completion, it's obvious that the pile closer to the back of the store is composed of the pieces that need attention, while the other pile is more gently placed and lacks dents and serious scuffs.

It may seem like he's going to leave another of her questions unanswered when he speaks again while examining a dented besagew. "'Mage' may be a stretch o' the word, but what's it to you?"

He doesn’t want to know? Très bien. That suits d’Sadonne. Tucked away as he is, she figured he was someone who understood the value of privacy. Blake’s terms are equally agreeable. Once René is all but totally plateless, she delivers a short command in French, and the unfortunate retainer lopes out on long, thin limbs, taking his assigned post.

d’Sadonne descends into a graceful kneel, moving like someone who expects to be painted at any moment - for whose benefit is unclear. A hand goes out to Pighead, open palm an offered platform.

“You are or you are not,” she says, “the truth is here before us. ‘Pig-head’-” she tests the familiar’s name, “this is an idiom, non? And a fitting one, if I remember correctly.”

The familiar spirit in the form of a toad does something that might be misunderstood by a human even though color is the oldest form of warning that exists; Pighead pushes back suddenly to stand momentarily on his lopsided hind feet. A smooth belly of red and black is exposed to d'Sadonne during that pose, then hidden again as he flops back down. The wide-set eyes return to the woman's.

Blake pays this exchange no mind. Instead, he pins that besagew between his knee and the floor and pulls up on it; straining the muscles in his arms as it bends back into place. "'Pigheaded''s an idiom for 'stubborn' in this tongue; aye." A mutter is added, "Fairly fuckin' appropriate." With his voice projecting once more rather than dropped, "Might want to keep an eye on your hands around 'im. Eaten a few fingers in his time, and I'd hate to thrash another husband come to try and seek justice for his fool wife's misfortune." There is annoyance clear in his tone, as if he is not creating some fanciful story.

With these Scots, d’Sadonne finds it hard to tell if they are joking - they seem to have the same difficulty with her. She laughs, then, at Blake’s warning, but while her laughter isn’t nervous she does withdraw her hand. There’s something in instinct, deeper than wisdom and often wiser as well. She gets to her feet, making a careful adjustment to the swoop of her stola.

“My justice is my own,” she lets Blake know, “Artemis does not need to borrow arrows.

“I would pluck out his eyes-” d’Sadonne bares her teeth in a malevolent little grin at Pighead. “Ils sont très utiles pour les sorcières…” she intones, ominous but unintelligible.

Blake eases to his feet and stands up, once more stretching his arms over his head like he's been stooped over too much today. They lower not to his sides, but instead to cross over his chest with the muffled sound of the hidden metal in his vest chinking from the motion. "I can do this job in two hours, but if you want to leave with the armor repaired, you will have to leave a collateral 'til I hold the pelt you promised." Many merchants in a similar position would explain why apologetically, but Blake stops there. "You're welcome to watch unless you are married." This, also, is not elaborated on. "Any questions before I get to work?" Apparently what he's done this far was merely preparation.

Didn’t she explain that already? Again, this trouble with translation. “Artemis does not take a husband,” d’Sadonne says, a clarification of her previous statement, “I could stay- though I wonder why this is the rule?” A copper-colored brow cants upwards. “You seem to have much trouble with married women.”

As for collateral… d’Sadonne bites her lip, a gesture of hesitation that suggests she maybe did not prepare for her word to be enough. “René ne sont pas admissibles?” she asks, though with no intention of being understood - the question is for herself, or maybe for God - gods - whatever, “what is enough to assure you that I will return with payment in full?”

There is a momentary frown at the question, as if his offer was for another field of questions entirely. Blake bluntly explains, "I don't have much interest in history and gods; took your statement to mean you can defend yourself. Not a bad fuckin' trait in Dornie. Might keep you from gettin' raped." He allows that to sink in for a couple seconds before he continues. "Some seem to think that I play some seduction game when I set to task in the presence of women. I leave coy games to the fuckin' boys in town. And aye; I've come to blows with more than one married man in my time due to no fault o' me own, if you must know. Married women are nothing but trouble, and I do my damndest to keep them the fuck out of my shop. Curiosity satisfied?"

Those grim words don't seem to have much of an effect. If they sink in, they do so without leaving so much as a ripple. Instead, once Blake is done speaking, d'Sadonne laughs. It might be called a pretty sound, but it could not easily be called 'nice'. Indeed, the same malice that tinged her grin infects and augments her laugh, making it high spirited and cruel.

"Non! Absolument pas!" she exclaims, "my curiosity is anything but satisfied." She takes a perch on the edge of the counter, chin on her knuckles, elbow on her wrist, wrist balanced upon a crossed knee. The way she looks at him is positively feline, lazy but awaiting appetite.

"This," she says, with what is nothing less than a leer, "I must see pour moi-même."

The laughter earns a couple blinks from the armor smith, but he shrugs (likely to himself) and bends back down to stack up one pile of the armor within itself. "Hope you are prepared for a boring disappointment," he mutters with a touch of strain in his voice during the last word as he stands. He makes his way to the doorless opening in the back of the shop's middle wall; disappearing into shadow for a few seconds before a second light is turned on without the flickering of the previous. The room is two-thirds the size of the shop, and far more crowded. Tables line all the walls that can be seen from the counter, but none are as large as the sturdy one beneath the hood that leads to the twin chimneys. The plate is set there, and then Blake disappears from sight for a moment. A few ambiguous noises of things being moved can be heard.

When he reappears a minute later, Blake is no longer wearing his vest and gambeson. Instead, he wears a loose-fitting, off-white tunic with long sleeves that he quickly rolls up to the elbows to reveal ripping forearms that may be to blame for some of the difficulty he's had with married folk. The pile of armor is slid to his left before he pulls out the backplate with a curled upper lip; something about it clearly offends him. It is laid in the center of the table and a curved piece of canvas-covered something is placed over it. A hammer is pulled from its resting place of two nails in the wall, and then driven down into the canvas. Plwonk! The sound of metal snapping back into the position it was formed to echoes out of the room.

J'espère bien que non…” d’Sadonne says, smirking, following once has Blake has brought light to the new chamber. She assumes an identical pose at the edge of one of the tables, and her topmost foot swings from side to side, counting down time before he returns from his brief disappearance.

When he does return - dressed for homewrecking - he’s met with a stare that’s less avid than it is aesthetic. d’Sadonne does not seem moved to distraction, but rather quite the opposite. Her attention and interest both seem quite keen, anything but dreamy or dazzled. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy what she sees. It’s simply the quality of her appreciation - as one might admire a likeness in marble, miraculously brought to life, with an eye for craftsmanship as well as beauty.

When he sets to work, she makes no move either to interrupt or to exit.

Blake's eyes never leave his work, and it takes mere moments for someone watching to know that he is a perfectionist. There is an intensity about him, but it doesn't spill out in a manic rush to get things done. It smolders in his movements as he runs his hand over the metal; feeling as much as looking for flaws. It doesn't take the whole of his attention, apparently, because he asks a question even as he is so focused on his task, which is now tapping the metal with a much smaller, lighter ball peen hammer. "Are you a merchant?"

The smell of metal slowly and mercilessly assaults the nostrils within the workplace of the building more so than the rest of it. It's a pervasive scent; the kind that gets into pores and hairs and lingers. The table against the central wall of the building is not covered with tools, however. Instead there are bowls of various materials holding different types of metals both ground, shaved and solid. There, the room looks more like a laboratory than a workshop.

He watches his work, and she watches him working. Whether she discerns in what she sees some quality of his character is impossible to determine. What is visible is the slow list of her intentness, a lapsing back into that feline wait- and watchfulness.

“I am Isabelle d’Sadonne,” the lady in question states in reply, “you should know this is not a merchant’s name.”

In the wake of her answer, her gaze slides briefly across the room, taking stock of these supplies. The resemblance to a laboratory is indeed striking, and one she doesn’t miss. As the scent of metal grows, she reaches into the folds of her stola and pulls out a long lace scarf which she winds around her mouth and nose, an aristocratic bandit.

“You are more than a mage- you are un alchemiste,” she observes.

"Should I now?" Blake asks as he inspects his work on that piece and sets it on the right side of the workspace. "That name supposed to mean something to me?" His gaze leaves his work to travel over to his other table as he recognizes the title she bestows upon him despite not being familiar with her native tongue. "And, again, I would call that a stretch. I know a wee trick or two." With a bitter exhale that leaves his mouth and nostrils together he adds, "Sometimes." Shaking his head more at a deep scratch he's discovered in the plate or the conversation, he raises his voice to a near shout as he moves the pauldron to an adjacent table and sits at the stool in front of it. "Sayin' I can do a thing that others cannot… Sure." The reason becomes clear as he presses the metal against a circular stone that juts up out of an opening in it and begins to pedal with his feet. A loud grinding fills the room. Blake continues as if nothing has changed. "Callin' me a mage, an alchemist or the like? Just makin' me sound pretentious. I don't know shite about magic, and I'm more likely to burn this place down with it than turn that bowl o' lead into gold."

Les Allemands- the Germans, they say ‘von’ and les Italiens, they say ‘di’. I am d’Sadonne- after the region, en France. This was my family’s land,” Isabelle explains, “where René was born also, where this,” she indicates the object of Blake’s labors, “was forged.”

Her aspect becomes one of mild irritation, as if d’Sadonne is all of a sudden impatient with Blake. He is talking too much, perhaps. No, that is not it. It is that he is using the wrong words. There is something a touch pedantic to d’Sadonne’s tone as she replies, something bordering on corrective.

“Gold has no power that the greed of men does not give it, and greed does not enlighten,” she says, “this-” she gestures at the setup, the various components in their array, “there is more wisdom in this, in ‘a wee trick’, than in all the ornaments of Colchis.

Prétention-” d’Sadonne says, disdainful of the word as she says it, “this is pretending importance one does not have? At least this is ambition. Worse - mille fois! - is to have importance and be falsely humble. To have talent, and to squander it for fear of a name? This is not virtue or wisdom, mais seulement la folie.”

d'Sadonne's irritation neither provokes nor is mirrored by Blake. He does, however, turn his head to glance at her with one eyebrow raised higher than the other as she explains the name is a place, as well. Looking back, he slows and then stops the grinding stone, blows on the metal to clear the dust of it and nods to himself. Standing again, he sets the piece beneath the hood and then turns towards his customer fully. His eyes actually try to make contact with hers as he tells her in a rather informative manner, "I do not play some game at humility, but I take it you are not the type to be easily shaken from an idea you've worked into your head." Rather than grab another piece of armor, he steps to the table covered in bowls and a few pots. "Come 'ere," he tells her as he pulls one of the room's three stools over with the toes of his left foot. "Sit here and watch."

Her eyes are blue and might be bored, but it also might just be that maddening Gallic air. Her reply is as dry as his is instructive. “Je ne doute pas,” she agrees, “you are not at all a man for ‘fun and games’.” d’Sadonne seems to find this idiom more easily than the familiar’s name, but still handles it at a slight remove.

When instruction slips towards imperative there is a moment where the pursing of her lips suggests threat of refusal or rebellion, but at length she complies, ‘going there’ and alighting upon the stool he’s acquired. A vague skepticism hovers about her, awaiting sufficient reason to either settle or disperse.

“This is a better view?” she inquires, tone at the very edge of droll.

That touch of imperiousness seems to espouse an annoyance triggered by something about the situation. His jaw is a stiff as he yet again ignores a question, and consequently proves his claim she's agreed to; not a man for fun and games at all. Standing beside her, there is a hint of anger as he reaches to one of the bowls along the back of the table. He places it in front of her more heavily than necessary. Inside is a shining, uneven piece of native metal. "This is native tin," he informs in an unimpressed manner. "It is useless to my trade by itself. Too fuckin' malleable. It's only good trait is that it resists corrosion, which is why it is paired with the easily-corroded copper to make bronze. With my magic, I can… force it to harden, making it more like a silvery copper and potentially making a superior metal to bronze itself. Pick it up. Feel how soft it is in your fingers."

After he says this, Blake picks up a piece of black charcoal and begins to draw geometric symbols on the graying cloth that covers the table….

d’Sadonne flinches when the bowl clatters before her, though the reaction is slight and quickly controlled. That’s cheating anyways, loud noises and surprises - her composure is re-donned as if by right; it will take more than this to properly ruffle her. And indeed, her composure and comfort both slide easily back into place as she takes the metal into her calloused hands. Soft against soft, the pads of her thumbs press at the native tin, able to deform it with just her untrained physical strength.

L'inutile transmué en l'utile…” she says, with the soft tone of comprehension. She adds, almost under her breath, “si seulement je pouvais faire la même chose pour les âmes des hommes.

Blake stares at d'Sadonne as she speaks that language he'd never heard before her arrival once more. The muscles that coat his jaw flex and dance for a moment, but mostly relax as he forces out a breath. Looking back at the cloth and forcing his charcoal to draw in a much more impatient manner than that he used in his profession just before, he soon has three-quarters of an imperfect circle with a number of intersecting shapes. One of the shapes is akin to a warped four wrapped into a seven, but so much about it is wrong if looked at from the perspective of knowledge. This is no science. This sigil he draws would be more at home in a tome dedicated to summoning demons or blessing trees. When he finishes, he goes back along it and doubles-over a few points where the charcoal is very light and, finally, draws circle containing a triangle in the middle of it all. It is centered directly before his audience of one. "Here." His index finger points to that tiny triangle as his dark eyes return to the tin. "Place it here." Lifting his hands and pressing them flat against each other, he waits. There is no physical change in his person, but his eyes now are locked on that symbol, and his breathing grows focused, intense and panting.

The symbols- these d’Sadonne takes in with true interest. There is nothing passive or passing about her attention. The arcane and inexplicable, the knowing beyond knowledge, the fruit that hangs from the highest branches of the Sephirot - like the hungry Tantalus she reaches for it with her understand, but it withdraws from her mind’s grasp. This isn’t her magic, after all.

d’Sadonne sets the tin upon the triangle and folds her hands in her lap. No more words, strange or otherwise - just watchfulness.

The very instant the native metal touches the charcoal, Blake's entire body tenses. His eyes snap shut as if forced to do so by unknown powers. Hands quaking and muscles taut to the point he can barely move, he forces his left away from him with fingers up. It moves as slow and strenuous as if he was pushing a wheel through thick, deep mud. Perspiration beads on his flesh and begins to run in mere moments. Breathing strained; a sustained growl begins to spill out of his throat like a man pushing himself beyond his limits. Fingers together and palm up, he shoves his right hand through the air at a rate of about one inch per second. Now his body quakes to the point his knees look about to give out from beneath him, his chest rises and falls rapidly and his skin grows dark red with the effort.

With that right hand rising, however, something far more noteworthy than physical effort happens. The tin lifts from the sigil in time with the right hand coming up, shaking as heavily as Blake does during the ritual. Energy, in its purest, rawest most indefinable form, rushes like a wind around d'Sadonne and sucks into the tin, which begins to glow bright. Just as if it seems the light will burn the eyes, Blake's hands drop, the tension fades, and the metal slams down into the sigil as if spiked downward rather than dropped. Blake slumps; hands on his knees as he trembles and gasps for air.

Though magic is a force and not a thing, a mage - like a symbol - is a manifestation, an embodiment, and thus a body. d’Sadonne has already, in idleness and self-satisfaction, made Blake’s body the object of her gaze; the action is the same but the circumstances have changed radically as that force exerts itself in and through him and Blake strains so powerfully against this less visible task.

Though that invisibility does not last long. d’Sadonne’s hand lifts to shield her eyes from the searing metal, making an unintended and much less labored mirror to Blake’s own gesture. From behind the limited shade of her fingers, she tries her best to catch all she can of the ritual, as if some secret were bound to spill out at any second- a moment she must not miss.

After several seconds of gasping for air and, to a minor degree, forcing himself to breathe more slowly, Blake pushes up from his knees and rests his left hand heavily on the table. His right trembles as it reaches before d'Sadonne and lifts what was tin with the hunger of curiosity in his gaze. The metal disappears into his fist as he tightens it, and eyebrows lift high. "I'll be damned…" Blake curls the metal towards him a couple times; getting a feel for its heft. The look of wonder falls from his face; avalanching into disappointment. "Fuck." He turns to look down at his audience. "See? Seemed like it fuckin' worked, and I guess it did… hard as any metal I've held, but it's denser than fuckin' iron now. Pointless fuckin' waste!" All that held-in annoyance is finally expressed as he turns and throws the lump of tin into the corner as hard as he can. Luckily, he's exhausted, but it still makes a loud BANG! and leaves a dent in the wall before bouncing beneath the table with the grinder.

Another change - he’s doing all the talking now. d’Sadonne watches the investigation of the experiment’s aftermath in attentive silence; she can claim no special knowledge of alloys and their properties, so his statement starts off sounding like a declaration of success. Clearly, however, this is not the case. Hardness is one thing, but density another, and such things matter to the metallurgist in a manner not immediately comprehensible to the thaumaturgist.

She bends at the waist, tipping over to follow the course of the once-tin with her eyes as it skids out of view. This causes her a minor hint of disappointment, though nothing that even compares to Blake’s upset. She would have liked to get her hands on it, but she is not about to get on her hands and knees to fish it out - certainly not while someone else is in the very same room!

d’Sadonne looks back up at Blake, both her brows lifted. “Est-ce vrai? she inquires, “and this is not something you can control, the density of the thing? You can only make the soft into the hard?” Her tone is tinged with charitable incredulity. Surely he can do more than that!

The question pulls Blake's attention away from his failure, but the sting of it lingers and the fiery anger in his eyes in no way lessens. His voice contains all the energy of a shout but at a lower volume delivered like a whip cracks. "I cannot control a damned thing! See this?" he reaches out to grab a blackish powder in one of the bowls, pinching it and shoving it too close to d'Sadonne's eyes to focus on; far too close to her for any semblance of manners. "Might as well be sand in my hands! Still think me a fuckin' mage? Still think I fuckin' play coy and humble?!" Some of the powder falls from his fingers as his other hand moves towards her nape to attempt to push her closer to the table, like he's going to shove her face in the bowl to give her a better look.

d’Sadonne appreciates passion. It may not be amongst her order’s virtues - indeed, she’s fairly certain the Sybil would advise shedding such emotions which might cloud wisdom and distract from the good - but there is no motion or motive force without that initial heat. A passionless creature is a dead creature - she knows this well.

But motive force is one thing. Physical force is another. When he takes her by the nape, her hand shoots up to grab the offending wrist, and now it is her time to channel invisible forces.

The experience is unique. Blake will find himself overtaken by a profound vertigo, an experience of existential discomfort that reverberates from a fissure at the root of his being. The feeling has carried many names over the years and across peoples: the Russians called it strahk and allayed it with vodka and ponderous literature; the Greeks called it ago̱nía, seeing in it both torment and struggle; the English felt it as they saw the Germans rise, and thus took that people’s term - angst, a mournful cry at the edge of a yawning abyss.

It only lasts a moment, and in the next it is replaced by the sound of d’Sadonne’s voice: “You do not touch me without my consent.”

Emotion, rather than logic, is clearly in control of Blake. Emotion compounded by something underlying that has only poked at the surface until his explosion. The hand on his wrist and the magic (so much more controlled than his own) that affects him is like a shock to his senses, but there's something deeply wrong with Blake. Something broken in his soul. Whatever it is, this something causes a reaction within him. His survival instinct is to recoil away from d'Sadonne, but he fights it out of pure force of will. He is no longer shoving her over the table; momentum stopped, but he keeps his hand on her nape like a man that would beat an electrical fence by grabbing it and standing his ground; a man that would prove he doesn't need a heart by ripping it from his chest and taking a bite. It doesn't last, however. The exhaustion brought on by his magic, rage and another factor unknown to d'Sadonne shakes him, slumps him and forces his hand to fall from her and him to collapse to the ground with a heavy, weary sigh. "…Utter shite…" leaves his lips in little more than an exhalation of breath. His eyes are cloaked in shadow, and his face is angled towards the floor.

It comes to this. The motion of his soul, its resistance to her pull, the texture of that damage, that wrongness - she can feel it at the tips of her fingers. d’Sadonne is curious, but otherwise she is indifferent. She sinks her fingers in only in order to loosen his. When he is on the ground, she gets to her feet. Standing over him.

“I will send a man with pelts, and you may pick two,” she informs him from her elevation - lofty and cold, “they will be sufficient for your petite boutique.”

“Thank you for the demonstration. You are a talented young man,” is bestowed with a smile that peeks like slanted sunlight from between dark clouds, “et si jolie ainsi,” she adds, one corner of her mouth curling upwards when she does.

Adieu,” she says, and no more, turning on her sandaled heel and gliding out across the threshold. Her footfalls do not pause, even as they pass René in his repose.