2012-03-01: Wax On Wax Off

Players: Fiona, Donna

Fiona_icon.jpg Donna_icon.jpg

Summary: Fiona and Donna go over 'the basics;' Fiona asks Donna to help her and Hosea locate Sophie.

Date: March 1, 2012.

Log Title: Wax on, Wax off

Rating: PG

Hell's Kitchen, Donna's Apartment

The rough neighborhood in Midtown West New York known as Hell's Kitchen almost has a darker tone to it. Once you step into this neighborhood the city takes on a different feel, the buildings are shorter but everything feels darker. There is real grit to this part of town where many of the New York City criminals see to make their home.

Mid-evening, and the door to Donna's apartment is closed, but unlocked; given the type of magical security her threshold features, and the sort of neighbors she keeps, an understandable action… Especially given that her newest apprentice has yet to be given a set of keys. The fold-up case pushed against the wall is open, now, and features a great many pieces of classical wizarding paraphernalia; ancient, leather-and-wood-bound tomes, crystals of many shapes and sizes, and a human skull with a half-melted dribbly candle atop, unlit. At the moment, Donna herself sits on a mat stapled into the folded-down lip, arranged on a small cushion in its center, her street clothes a jarring contrast to her eldritch surroundings.

Fiona has, of course, been out meandering around pretty much all day. The boredom is starting to wear on her, slightly - who knew school occupied SO much time? Together with the lack of any kind of offensive (or defensive) for that matter magicks, she's been somewhat at a loss of things to do. Heck, she hasn't even had much luck getting in contact with other acquaintances. At any rate, there comes a knock at Donna's door, with a cheerful, "Hey! It's me! Can I come in?" She may be asking that out of politeness, or she may still be unsure of whether or not that spell is there. It pays to be careful, though. Plus, from the smell of it, her hands may be full of chinese food. "I brought dinner!"

Donna cracks an eye open, eyebrow rising faintly, the corner of her mouth twitching upward. "Come in, Fiona," she calls, curling and uncurling her fingers. "The door's unlocked, unless you've your hands full." Shifting a bit on the cushion, she pauses, sniffs again, and shrugs to herself, rising to her feet and stepping off the mat.

There's the sound of some shuffling as the girl rearranges the bags in her hand, and manages to get the door open. It's a bit of a balancing act though! "The restaurants in this neighborhood give you a LOT of food!" she exclaims, setting two good sized bags down on the apartment's table. Then she pauses, glancing at the arranged magical items. "I'm not, erm, interrupting, am I?"

"Not as such," the sorceress says, clearing her throat. "I'd been waiting for you to come back, in fact. Since I've not woken up dead or bleeding, it seems safe enough to get you started on my end of the bargain…" An eye is cast over the large bags, eyebrow twitching up. "…After dinner," she amends.

"Oh, good! 'cause I'm starving, anyway," the skinny girl attests, rifling through the bags. "Sweet and sour pork and… kung pow chicken! Just in case you didn't eat pork. I wasn't sure," she nods. The other boxes must be filled with rice and… whatever else. She offers Donna whichever one she wants, then proceeds to dig into the remaining one. Living away from home has not done wonders for her eating habits, and she has perhaps lost a tiny bit of weight in the intervening months. But Donna wouldn't know that!

"Nice of you," the woan murmurs, tilting her head. A plastic cereal bowl is fetched, half-filled with white rice, and equal parts chicken and pork arranged on top. "Thank you, Fiona." Bowl in one hand, chopsticks in the other, she first watches Fiona eat in contemplative silence. Then; "Well then… no harm in making it a working lunch. So… your little rider doesn't seem to have seen fit to teach you about thresholds… was there *any* proper magic you learned from him?"

"Oh… um, no, not really. I guess the only thing that I actually know how to do is open a portal to his prison. I suppose, maybe, that you could use a similar technique to open portals to other places, but… it's not something that I really wanted to try out," Fiona nods. Unlike Donna, she's uncultured and uses a fork. Because she could never get the hang of chopsticks.

"Smart thinking," Donna says wryly, finally digging in with deft precision. "This is good, though… means I won't have to make you even *more* miserable by training any nonsense out of you. But you're still going to be *very* unhappy, Fiona. The only way I know to teach you is how I was trained… And I spent my entire apprenticeship utterly *loathing* that black-hearted sack of craps. So, fair warning, child."

"Bah," Fiona shakes her head, "That may be. But I'm a lot stronger than I look! You'll see." Whether the confidence is false or not is another matter - she's hardly /cocky/ persay, but does seem to be something of an optimist. She pauses, cocking an eyebrow at Donna, "Just how WERE you trained?"

"On the hoof, as it were." The black-haired woman stares into her food in silence for a moment. "Bastard all but beat me black and blue across most of Western Europe. Magic, fighting, survival, for him? All the same, really. Damn shame, too, I was rather close to becoming fond of that arseface." Lifting a shoulder, she digs back into her meal. "History later, though; theory first. First question; what is magic?"

"I dunno, it's a… like a spiritual energy, I guess." Fiona rubs the back of her neck, looking slightly embarassed. She has mostly picked all the meat out of hers, and is pretty much just nibbling on the rice at this point. "I mean, there are different kinds of it, right? Some things I've read say harnessing energy floating in the ether, and others say it comes straight out of a person. And then others that it comes from a god, or a higher being, based on your belief or faith…" she watches Donna to see if /any/ of this is right. "As far as what I can do goes, I know that he had a large amount of energy. Kind of like, I dunno, a nuclear reactor. And he stuck a piece of it in me, that WAS a part of him, but is seperate now and part of me. Like an organ transplant."

"That's a thrall-bond," Donna says, nodding slowly. "And really, it's all the same. Magic is magic, like energy is energy. Where it comes from flavors it, but, in the end? It's all magic. Where you and *I* are different, however, is that we'll never get to spend much time playing with all those different kinds." Her own meat finished, the sorceress begins lifting sticky clumps of rice out of the bowl. "We're marked, you see. That piece of your demon? That marks you as his, forever. Which means the only favor you're likely ever to see, is from things that're like him. Probably even worse. So I were you, I'd not bother."

Fiona blinks, "You mean, not bother learning?" the girl frowns, "Or not bother seeking favors from other beings? Because, the latter, I'm perfectly fine with, the former…" she trails off. "At any rate, you're basically saying I can't ever learn anything but demonic magicks?" That's not exactly heartening. She had hoped, of course, that maybe there was a 'regular' form of magic that she could learn. You know, something relatively normal…

Donna snorts. "If that were true, I'd not even bother *trying,* child. No, you're simply stuck using what you have; no outside source will touch you with a ten-meter pole. Which means you *could* learn the magic of demons, but I think we both know what a silly idea that'd be. I can teach you the basics, and believe me when I tell you the basics are among the very hardest hurdles to clear. How you think, how you react, how you listen and look… it's all going to have to change, my little jay."

"Oh," Fiona looks somewhat relieved. "I was going to say…" she trails off, then nods in agreement with Donna. Whatever you say, crazy teacher lady! "You mean like, I dunno, in the Karate Kid where he makes him do all sorts of stuff just to get him ready for actually learning how to fight?" she asks. Yes. "Wax on, wax off. Right?" she bites her lip a little. "I mean, I know it won't be that easy. For sure. Based on what I've already been through…"

"…No," the sorceress answers, in a voice that could chill steel. "Not like 'wax on, wax off.'"

"Oh… okay," Fiona murmurs, realizing that maybe she's not taking things seriously enough. "Sorry, I was, I dunno. Just trying to be positive. Is there room for that? Being positive?" Because it's pretty much one of the only things that keeps her going…

"In magic? Positive and negative are *irrelevant,*" Donna answers, visible eye narrowing. "What matters is willpower and determination. If you *want* this badly enough, it'll be yours, and you'll endure *whatever* I throw at you and come out stronger. If not? You break. It's as simple as that, child. Succeed, or *fail.* And in your position, you *do not want* to fail. But if you succeed? That demon of yours will *never* have power over you ever again."

"Well then I'm GOING TO SUCCEED!" Fiona grits, her eyes glowing as she replies almost angrily. "Because there's no other choice. And I've never failed when it comes down to it. I always pull through. It's human nature, anyway." And if she breaks, well, she just won't think about that!

"*Good,*" comes the answer, the empty bowl set aside. "Because now that you *want* it, we begin." Nodding to the mat and its cushion, Donna rises rom her chair, crossing her arms over her chest. "Sit, there. And get comfortable; you're going to be there awhile, if I'm any judge."

Fiona nods, wandering over to the mat in question. She regards it for a moment, and then plops down on it, curling her feet beneath her and letting most of her weight fall on the soles of her boots. It feels a bit like a yoga class, except, you know. With more creepiness. "Like this?"

Donna nods once. "Well enough. Now; close your eyes. And *try* to empty that head of yours."

Fiona takes a deep breath and exhales, closing her eyes. It is not easy - sleep is usually one of the /least/ peaceful times for the girl as evidenced by the dark crescents that often shadow her eyes. She grits her teeth, grimacing as she tries to think about /nothing./ She concentrates on the mat beneath her. There is only the mat; and then after the mat, there's only herself… Finally, after who knows how long (could have been ten minutes or over an hour), she feels nothing but a black void.

"Now," Donna's voice floats in from outside the void, "there's a light inside of you; probably very bright, and not very pleasant to look at. Be that as it may, you need to find it. Once you've found it, you need to picture yourself wrapping your arms around it. Pull yourself in, until the light completely surrounds you."

"Hmm… it's like… the sun…" murmurs Fiona from her trance-like state. As if running through a dark room in a dream, she meanders towards it. The brightness is almost unbearable - the closer she gets, the harder it is. Several times she stops, her breathing heavy, until she's finally next to it - doing as Donna says is no easy feat. Back in real life, she's trembling and sweating as she pulls herself into the sphere of light, unsure of what she'll find inside… "I think… I did it… I'm not sure, I feel kinda, weird."

"That's your center," Donna says quietly. "All the magic within you, all your life-force… that's where it comes from. If you feel strange, that's because it's been corrupted. Get used to that feeling, child, it'll be with you, likely the rest of your days. Now… stretch your feelings out, find the place where it goes *down.* Ignore anything moving from anywhere else; that'll be your tether to your demon."

Fiona sways a tiny bit. She feels like she's swimming. Down she goes - peering at what appears to be a drain - it seems to keep on going forever. Going near it sends a bit of a shiver down her spine - well, her metaphorical spine. All her instincts tell her to stay away from it. "It's cold that way. It looks like it's on fire, but it's cold."

"Get back then, child… you're being fooled. Find the light again, and *stay away from the cold.*"

Fiona starts back and tries again, breathing evenly as she repeats the process. This time, she doesn't move - slowly spreading her awareness out once she's inside the light. A sucking sensation? Downwards? Is that it? She follows it, but not too far. "I've found it. I think."

"Much better…. now. It won't be long, before you feel like you're standing. Like you're so stable, in fact, that *nothing* can move you until you let it. That's where your soul finds the Earth, child. Test yourself a bit, until you find that place inside of you that *will not be moved,* and things will feel like they've snapped into place for the first time, ever."

Fiona continues following the lead down - down. Rather than feel like she's standing, Fiona feels more like she fell off of something and hit the ground - but it didn't hurt. Soon, though, she gains her 'balance' as it were, and finds the place that Donna seems to be talking about. Her eyes snap open and blink for a moment before shutting again, but she didn't actually see anything. Rather than a heavy, concentrated breath, her breathing is solidly even, like she's in a deep but peaceful sleep. "This feels amazing… I could just stay here, forever. I feel like, nothing could hurt me, nothing could touch me here…" she murmurs.

"And it's that feeling you'll need, when you work your magic," Donna says softly, the faintest hint of a smile on her face. "Come out of it, now. You can't stay there forever, anymore than an artist could live his entire life putting paint to canvas. But from here on out, that is where you will work. So. Come out, and open your eyes."

Upwards. Fiona seems to swim upwards, like coming up from the bottom of a pool, until she breaks the surface, blinking owlishly and realizing her feet and legs fell asleep. She stretches, pushing herself into a standing position and smoothing out her skirt. Suddenly, she yawns, shoulders slumping a little. "I feel like I just ran a mile… only, my legs aren't tired…"

Fiona(#2273) using cmd-who(#138), command 'WHo', line 22; GETPROPSTR: Permission denied.

Donna nods slowly. "That's to be expected; the first time is the hardest, even when you're guided. But we're not done. Get comfortable, child. I've shown you how to do it, guided you through all the steps; from now on, you'll be grounding and centering on your own. And if you think you're tired now…"

"Hold on," Fiona holds up a finger, and then disappears into the bathroom for a moment. When she comes out, she's lost her boots and is wearing a pair of sweat pants. She sits down cross legged this time, wiggling her toes. "Better. Okay." She lets out a deep breath, "Now what?"

"Now? Ground and center," Donna says, crossing her arms again. "I've shown you what to do. Your turn."

Fiona nods, closing her eyes again. Without Donna's guiding voice, it's much less smooth of a process - there's some teeth gritting and whatnot as Fiona has to repeat it two or three times to get it right, before she regains the feeling again. After some time, she murmurs, "Done," hands resting on her knees calmly. Hey, she's getting the hang of this!

And that's when the trial begins. The faintest spike of thought lances out from Donna to Fiona, 'pushing' her off her center and disrupting the entire exercise.


"Hey! I thought -" Fiona blinks, taking a deep breath before she understands. She dives back into her center, this time moving more fluidly - she IS improving… It doesn't take quite as long this time.

And the push becomes harder, snapping concentration and nearly physically toppling the girl over onto her side.

Fiona lets out a yelp, steadying herself on the floor with one hand shakily. Heart pounding, she closes her eyes tightly and concentrates - concentrates as hard as she can - on going to her special place. The grounded center.

And again, snapped out with ridiculous ease. "Pathetic," Donna's voice grates, implacable and solid as granite. "Again! Ground and center!"

Fiona growls, panting at she repeats the process. Donna was right. This IS ridiculous. She thought that 'the basics' were maybe already over with. The corner of her mouth turns up in a slightly rueful smile, as she lands lightly in her center again. This time, rather than simply standing there, she visualizes the thick boots that she usually wears (for confidence, and because she likes them) and plants her feet squarly to either side, just beneath her shoulders. She crosses her arms across her chest, and readies herself for a blow that she knows is coming…

Again the jab, and while there's a hint of improvement, concentration is still broken. "Look to your *own* will before you test mine," the sorceress snarls. "Again!"

Jeez! Donna is strong. She could have probably beaten her and killed her WITHOUT all that lightning business! Why did she even bother with that? At least, that's what Fiona thinks, in between mental blows. What did she even mean by that? Look to your own will? The sorceress-in-training reaches her ground point again. She's doing it faster and faster now, to the point where she doesn't even have to think greatly about it anymore. But what's the point, if she can be knocked out of it so easily? She tries a different tactic - instead of trying to steel herself for an attack, she forgets about it entirely - focusing as much as she can on the whiteness around her, the feeling of the ground on her feet. As she thinks about it, it seems to become more real.

The first jab pushes, but doesn't move. The second, however, carries the feel of a full-force punch to the gut. "Again!"

More concentration! More! Fiona forces herself to forget about everything. There is no real world, only her grounded center. She can see every bit of it, feel her own life force pulsing around her, along with a deep thrumming - something she figures must be coming from the earth.

With every repetition, the center comes that much little bit easier, balance that much more firm. But with each repetition, the mental 'punch' is more and more vicious; by the end of it, one would expect to be bruised from head to toe. Finally, *finally,* instead of 'Again' the word Donna speaks is "Enough."

Fiona opens an eye a crack, peering towards Donna. So hard has she been concentrating on it, she's been unaware of the progressing difficulty - at least, consciously. "I can do better! I swear!" she breathes shakily, unsure of why things have stopped. When she does try to move from her spot though, her arms and legs feel a bit like they have lead weights attached to them. It is a wholly different feeling than when she used her demonic energy - back then, she would come away feeling not exhausted, but irritable and unstable, her thoughts scrambled and unclear.

"It's been four hours, child," Donna says, still in the same place she'd taken when the exercise started. "Your grip on your center is fragile, your concentration barely noticeable, and your emotions run away with you too quickly." There's a pause, long enough to allow creeping dread to sink in, and she lifts a shoulder. "A good enough start. Find something to eat. Then get ready for bed."

Fiona rubs her head, heading towards the refridgerator and rummaging around in it. Yes, she's going to eat Donna's food! But going out in this state seems like a recipe for disaster. "There is… one thing… that I wanted to ask about, before I fall asleep," she posits, "A friend of mine has gone missing. I ran into her boyfriend in Westchester, he said she'd been kidnapped. I was wondering if, that is," she seems nervous. "She might be in danger. That ball that I gave to you can be used to locate people. I told him that I would ask you. I understand, you know, if it's too dangerous," she rubs her left arm with the right, again nervously. "But I thought, maybe with your help, it would be okay."

There's a long moment of silence, as the woman ponders this question. "…No," she says, finally. "But if you see him again, bring him to the Church down the street. I'll see what I can do. Mind, it's only because you're too likely to trust in yourself and overreach, and right now, your safety is on *my* conscience. I'll not want to see you dive into your demon's arms because I gave you a hint of confidence."

Fiona munches on an apple, "Okay. I'll let him know," Fiona nods, wandering off to the area that's sufficing as her bedroom right now. She flops down on said bed, digging around in her things for her cell phone before she remembers she left it in a portal. Momentarily, it opens and the object is drawn out. She fires off a text message.

Donna raises an eyebrow in evident surprise; apparently, the sorceress hadn't expected such ready obedience. "…Let him know there's to be a fee, as well. Not for the asking, or the working, but for the information. I doubt he'll appreciate it, but magic doesn't make its own money, and we both have to eat well enough."

"Oh… okay…" Fiona bites her lip. She doesn't sound all that happy about that. "I mean. It's to save a friend, you know? I know we gotta eat, but charging to help a friend seems wrong." She rubs the back of her neck. "If that's what it is, though, I'm sure something can be worked out… maybe… Their school has money, I'm sure, if it's an issue…"

"But it's not the school that's asking, child, is it?" Donna snaps. For a moment, she looks unaccountably furious, but then takes a breath or two. "Listen," she says, in a much more reasonable tone voice. "In magic, the best work is done in the shadows, where you have time to think and plan and prepare. I've not made waves in this city, yet; if we hang up a sign over the door, we'll not get *anything* done for all the little ways people will want to magic their problems away. If you or I had power enough, that would suffice to keep all but the greatest need away. Asking for money, then, solves two problems; it pays for our dinners, and requires a personal cost that will ensure it matters *enough.* As to how much? We'll see once we find out what we're looking at. Don't give a number."

"But she's my friend! It's not like it's just some random person!" Fiona sighs, frowning. "I guess you're right though. I mean, it makes sense." Clearly, she still doesn't agree. But it's not like she can MAKE Donna help for free, and especially with her artifacts out of her hands, how can she do anything else, really? "Fine. I'll let him know, when I speak to him in person."

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