The Great and Powerful Oz

Title: The Great and Powerful Oz
Time Period: August 4, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Mariah runs into a traveling salesman at the Albatross; curiosity abounds.

The door to the common area of the Albatross swings open as evening sets in. She isn't the first here, nor the last, but she is a familiar set piece to the bar. And the bar is exactly where Mariah heads to first. Granted, she pauses here and there along the way to greet people at the tables, some even rating a kiss on the cheek, but when she finds a stool to sink into, she does so with a heavy sigh.

"Something to drink," she says to the barkeep. She's not here for dinner, apparently. Her thin, lace gloves get pulled off and sat next to her, the black matching the lace that mixes with the green of her dress. It's well made, and made to fit her. Not something she just picked up at the market.

Malachy is usually impeccably turned out, but from the looks of things, he was just having a late afternoon nap. He's still wearing slacks and a jacket of considerable quality, but his usually slicked hair suffers from a bit of bedhead, and he's sans tie or waistcoast and the first few buttons of his shirt are undone. He stifles a yawn and climbs down the staircase from the rooms and makes his way to the bar. He scrubs a hand over his face and leans on it. "I don't suppose you've got anything that will chase the cobwebs out of my brain?" he asks the barkeep.

Mariah looks over, her gaze sliding upward from foot to hair on the man appearing next to her. He's not familiar, but she doesn't seem to mind a stranger noticing her sizing him up a bit.

"You look like you imbibed a bit too much, hun," she says with a crooked smile. "Get him your best tea. On me," she adds, toward the barman. Dornie hospitality, except that this one has an English accent.

Malachy slumps carefully onto the stool and doesn't let go of the bar until he's sure he's steady. He looks over at Mariah and shakes his head. "I wish it was just the drink. No, it's a magic thing. A side-effect." He rubs his forehead. He doesn't sound like he's from here - not even this island. He's Irish, Dublin-area for those who have an ear for accents.

"I think I'll believe you. Irish boys tend to have a better time with the liquor, in my experience." Mariah reaches a hand over to help steady him, at least until he's sitting. "Seems like a nasty side effect from over here. You sure you're alright?"

"Certainly not pleasant. Which is why I charge for things that make me feel like this. But it's been hard to get the word out. A downside to a larger town." Malachy rolls his shoulders back and turns to her, one brow lifted. "I'm fine, thanks. The nap helped. Oh, but, lord." He makes a face at his reflection as it's bounced off the mirror behind the bar. He makes a cursory attempt to fix his hair.

"Traveling magic salesman, is it?" Mariah takes a moment to thank the barkeep when their drinks arrive, hers decidedly more alcoholic than his. "Best way to do it in this town is do a few fantastic bits of service and let word of mouth work its magic. Impressed mouths have a hard time shutting."

She follows his gaze to the mirror, following his words with a gentle, but not unkind chuckle. "I'm Mariah, by the way. Mariah Larke," she says with a hand stretched out in his direction. "And don't worry, people have looked far worse in here. Give it a few hours."

"A comparison I've made in the past, yes. I deal in what you could call wishes. Talent, beauty, health," he spins his wrist and makes a vague gesture. The tea is sipped and swallowed. He closes his eyes and lets it hit his stomach. "That's lovely, but I think it needs a scoop in it." He pushes it towards the bartender. "Whatever goes good with tea. Hell, whatever will still be drinkable with tea. I'm not fussed." He rubs his face again and looks between his fingers at Mariah. "Ah, my initial twin. Malachy Lynch." He takes her hand and shakes it. They're calloused, which wouldn't stand out, except he normally dresses like someone you wouldn't expect to have done hard labour.

"The proverbial genie, I understand. You must do very well for yourself, in that sort of business," Mariah says with an amused smile as she watches him push the tea back. While it gets fixed up, she looks back to the man with a more even grin when she catches him peeking through his fingers. But she takes his hand for a shake that is more warm than firm. Her hands, in contrast, are the very opposite. Soft, like she has never touched manual labor. But at the same time, she remains unbothered by the callouses on his. "Ah, the very best initials, I dare say. It's wonderful to meet you, Malachy." She has no qualms about jumping right to a first name basis, either.

Malachy draws the mug of tea/booze towards him. He sniffs it, then takes a swallow. His nose scrunches. "Oh, that's terrible. Perfectly terrible." Another sip. "Hits the spot." He closes his eyes and tilts his head to the side. His neck pops softly. "Sorry, normally I'd be suave and tell you all about what I can do, the whole sales pitch. But as you can see, I'm a touch out of sorts."

"That's alright, I love to see people when they're being real." Mariah pushes her hair behind her ear as her smile softens. "Plus, from one salesman to another, I'm not easily taken in by the pitch. Generally." She takes a long drink from her own glass, and even though she pulls a face over the taste, she smiles once she sets the glass down again. "What brings you up to Scotland? Fresh market? Or is it our rolling hills and beautiful lochs?"

"I don't need to pitch this too hard, generally. Everyone has something they desire, or something they need. And the way it works, near everyone can pay, if they're willing to absorb the cost." Malachy makes a face. "That was dreadful. Christ." He takes as big a mouthful of the tea as the hot liquid will allow. He shrugs. "This is the largest settlement I've come upon in awhile. I've been moving around a lot for the past ten years or so."

Mariah smirks at those first words, and she nods in agreement. "Too true. Dealing in desire is every man's weakness." Her expression is tempered by a touch of concern as he continues, "What happened to you? The backlash, I mean. And you go into selling your talent when you know this happens? You are a braver soul than I, I'm not ashamed to say." She's not surprised at his words on Dornie's size, and he gets another nod there. "We are certainly that. There's a lot to find here, for those making their lives on the road. Careful, you might find it difficult to leave again."

"It's not backlash. Well, it can be." Malachy rubs his neck. "The short of it is, I did a spell for a man. He paid me in goods to mitigate the negative effects. Which means I'll feel like I was dragged behind a horse for a day or two. It isn't always like that, though."

"Oh, now that doesn't sound like much fun at all." Mariah takes another drink, seeming to handle the sting of the liquor better this time. "What's the alternative? If it isn't always this way?" There's a pause there before she furrows her brow a little and turns more fully in his direction. "Forgive me, I'm prying. Feel free to tell me it isn't any of my business. It's just a bit fascinating."

"The opposite of backlash, if my client takes a loss equal to the gain. I feel energized and refreshed." Malachy presses a palm to his forehead and rubs slowly. "Whereas now I feel like I could sleep for days and it still wouldn't be enough."

"And they end up with the dragged behind the horse but, then?" Mariah doesn't seem to be judging, just overly curious. "Luckily, the beds here are comfortable enough to lounge about in for days," she says, her tone just impish enough to imply that she knows that on a first hand basis. "What sort of spells do you do for people? If someone wished for a ton of gold bricks, say…" It doesn't come off as a desire of her own, but a fairly common example, in her assumptions.

"Ah, no, no." Malachy scratches his temple. "You see, it's about balance. What you wish for has to be taken out in trade. Either through your own self, or through the people close to you, or the things you own." So it's worse than being dragged behind a horse. "But small favours have a small cost. And I can't make something appear out of nothing. I can make your crops come in full and perfect, but not if you haven't first planted the seeds and cleared the field. Do you see?"

Mariah's elbow props up on the bar, her head resting against her palm as she listens to his explanation. "I do see. I suppose it's a matter of how badly you want a thing, then. Outcomes manipulated in your favor. I can imagine there's any number of situations that would make someone want to be in your debt."

"Don't misunderstand. This isn't my choice. It's just how the magic works. If you want something, you have to give something up. I'm in this state because I was paid to take the rough edge off the bad bit, but I can't give away anything for free. Even if I wanted to." Malachy swallows the rest of his tea. "I've cured the sick, healed the infirm, made wells run clean again. I've made a man as tone deaf as a log sing like a bird. I've made a woman with a face like a horse the loveliest thing in town. If you want or need a thing badly enough, it's worth the sacrifice."

"No no, I didn't mean to imply that you were some evil wizard roaming the countryside," Mariah says with a laugh and a shake of her head. "You're helping people find their way toward happiness. I can't say that's ever a bad thing." Her smile is a bit softer there, before she turns to finish off her drink and order another. "And happiness, if I may say so, will always require a sacrifice. Through you or through life. I mean, real happiness. I've heard people claim a moment with true joy is worth a thousand hardships."

"The problem is, most people don't actually know what will make them happy." Malachy lifts a shoulder and exhales through his nostrils. A tiny smile flickers across his lips. "But, there are no refunds. And again, that's not me being some pointy-horned demon. I actually can't reverse it once the deal is done."

"That is very true. And even if we get what makes us happy, there's sure to be a turn that brings us all back to the ground again." Mariah thunks a fingertip against the bar, adding emphasis to her words. "No, you see, those horns are always so difficult to hide. And clash with everything." Her smile is an amused one, cheeks reddening from the quick jolt of liquor. Not a great drinker, this one. "What about yourself? Not lucky enough to be able to make yourself endlessly happy, I'll suppose."

"It seems to be my lot in life to be some kind of double-edged genie for the people of this mad little world," says Malachy. "No, I just keep moving on. Finding clients. They dry up quickly in small towns. Or people get spooked because their neighbours asked for too much without appreciating the cost." He slides off the stool. "Lovely chatting with you, Miss Larke. I think I'm going to go and lie down again."

"Yes, I can see how that might make people wary. But I wish you the best of luck in Dornie, Malachy." As he gets up, she nods her thanks to his words before throwing him a lazy, two-fingered salute. "Sleep well. I'll look forward to the next time," she says before she turns back to the bar. And just in time for her next drink.