Good Ol' Fashioned Razzmatazz Chapter 3:
Multiclassing Into Rogue?
I emerged from green flames into a dark room lit dimly with candles. Lenny slithered uncomfortably on my shoulder from the floo teleportation. I was too enraptured by the medieval haunted aesthetic going on to really be concerned about his well-being. The walls were made of sturdy stone, several red bannisters hung from the walls and the age-old wooden furniture seemed to be in good condition despite the years to wear it down. A long table sat in the middle of the room by the working fireplace on the other side. Maybe wizards had a fireplace specifically for travel and another for heating? I had no idea how this insanely wonderful world worked.
"Wow, it's definitely a cheery place," I said clapping my hands.
Orpheus glowered at me. "Your comments are unnecessary."
I mimed zipping my lips but couldn't help the amused grin that took my face that ruined the chided act I was going for. Thankfully, Orpheus turned around to the sound of thumping and I was faced with a pale old lady.
"What's this, you finally decided to bring some livestock?" the crabby old voice croaked out.
I examined the pale lady, how her back hunched, and her black eyes looked slightly milky in the middle, and how despite the age showing she still had a head of thick white hair tied up in a massive bee-comb style. She was also wearing a really nice dress. Well at least fashion didn't die with age.
"Apparently I taste off, but I disagree," I said with a grin.
Orpheus sighed before he was hit on the head by a cane stick. I snorted in amusement and quickly moved to hold my mouth, but it was too late.
"Another stray human? Didn't the last one teach you a lesson?" she grumbled before she turned to me and frowned.
It looked like she wasn't even trying to take me in, more like she was sniffing me. I crossed my arms and pouted when she grimaced and held her nose.
"This one does smell of. A damphir then? Well at least that's mildly better than a human," she continued on in distaste.
"She won't be staying here for long. I simply need her to complete some tasks. This is not like last time. Not at all," Orpheus said, his voice thinning at the end like he was losing his patience.
"Well then off boy. At least this new one doesn't look so scruffy. I will tell the men she is off the menu."
"Gee thanks, although I still stand by the case that if you were to eat me—which you shouldn't—I'd be delicious."
"I'm sure you would," she replied idly as she bopped me on the head with her cane.
"Come along child, we have business to attend to," Orpheus said grabbing my shoulder.
"Geeze give a girl a break," I grumbled as he dragged me along.
We walked through the dark castle rather quickly which didn't allow me a moment of time to really look at the place. I did note the lack of any help around. Without maids or butlers it was odd to think a castle this big would be clean, but I figured magic was the cause.
It was only a few minutes in when suddenly I was grabbed by my collar and rushed into a room. I blinked in confusion and Lenny hissed in agitation next to me. Orpheus looked rather distressed for a second, but it seemed more serious than it was with Bistra. I was hastily shoved into a closet.
"Stay here, don't make a sound, and don't come out," he whispered harshly before he hastily closed the door behind him.
I was a little frazzled, but I decided to listen for once. He didn't seem like he was kidding around this time. I heard the door open and heavy footsteps come in and I peered forward, looking through the cracks of the wooden closet and holding my nose so I wouldn't breathe in more dust. A large man entered, his face set square and menacing, fingernails long like claws and face full of thick untamed dark brown hair. Orpheus fixed his suit and whatever distress he was in before disappeared in an instant.
"Lestoat, have you procured the items I asked for?" the man asked, his voice harbouring a sort of animalistic growl behind his throat.
"I sssmell blood," Lenny said agitatedly.
"You think he's a vampire?" I whispered in parseltongue.
"Noo sssomething elsse," Lenny replied in frustration.
I shut my mouth when the man turned to look at the cupboard. Orpheus snapped his attention quickly back to him.
"We're prepped and ready. You should ensure your men are ready to go too," Orpheus replied quickly, taking a step to the right slightly to block the large man's view of the cupboard.
"You should learn to watch your tongue vampire. You're only of use because of your connections, but I'm the one with the army. Don't you dare think of ordering me around again," the large man growled, pointed teeth showing.
"Rest assured, I'm not looking to challenge your authority or position. A deal is a deal, but we are done afterwards," Orpheus said undeterred from the other man's display of dominance.
I was impressed. The big hairy man looked rather terrifying, and although Orpheus was a tall man too, he looked barely like a stick standing next to whoever this figure was. Standing up to someone like that took guts. Orpheus had balls of steel.
"Well then it was good to catch up… but before I go—"
I startled backwards with an indignant yelp when the burly man shot past Orpheus with startling speed towards the cupboard. He opened it and Lenny hissed out at him only for him to be grabbed by the head.
Before I could reach out for my partner, I was pulled up like a rag doll by my hands. I looked up, paling considerably at the predatorial look I was received with. A large toothy smile pulled his face.
"You were hiding a child from me Orpheus. You know how much I enjoy eating them!"
"Let go of her Greyback. I have use for this one," Orpheus gritted out, a tone darker than usual.
Greyback? As in Fenrir Greyback, the famous evil were-wolf that turned Professor Lupin as a child and enjoyed mutilating and cannibalising little children? Oh fuck, how the heck did I manage to get myself involved in this? My thoughts were cut off when Greyback raised me up higher, until my hands were close to his mouth and he dragged his tongue up my fingers, eyeing Orpheus challengingly at the same time. I cringed back in disgust… at the same time Greyback did?
What the fuck?
"Erk! Why does she taste like rotten meat?!" Greyback asked, gagging.
"I do not taste bad!" I finally ground out in irritation.
I was received with blank looks from both men and I sighed. Greyback dropped me to the ground and examined me.
"She isn't human?" he asked with a growl.
"She's a dhampir. 46 years of age," Orpheus lied easily.
Greyback looked irked by that knowledge. "I almost ate an old woman," he gagged.
I grabbed Lenny before he was dropped, protectively cradling him against my chest. This was the third greeting with my hands in someone's mouth! What was up with that?!
"Even if I'm a 46 year old dhampir, I taste great," I protested with a scowl.
Orpheus picked me up quickly from underneath my armpits, laughing forcibly while sending me a look that screamed 'shut up or I'll do it for you'. I mimed zipping my lips again and was grateful that Greyback was already walking towards the door. Seemed like he only had a fetish for human children… he seriously deserved to die—but that begged the question. Why wasn't I to his taste? As far as I knew I was human… right?
Oh god, did I have a cool mysterious backstory in this world? Was I like the secret love child of some ancient noble household on the brink of social collapse, and was therefore abandoned by the road? Maybe I was cursed and needed to find my true love to finally taste good? Then maybe people wouldn't be too disgusted by me when they put my hand in their mouths?
"That mannnn will dieeee!" Lenny hissed in agitation as he slithered around on my shoulders in anger. "He dare touuuch me!"
"Greyback is gone," Orpheus sighed in relief as he adjusted me in his arms, and then he sent me a look.
"What?" I asked indignantly.
"You look like you're thinking of something stupid and unreasonable," he grunted.
"Exactly what does that expression look like?!" I asked irked before I pouted and crossed my arms.
Orpheus sighed again but he looked agitated still. "Don't go near that man you hear me! You're lucky you smell like death to us, or I don't think it would have ended so peacefully. If you see him or his men, you hide or walk back to me."
"Oh, I'm so glad you care about lil' old me! Don't worry I'll run away from that cunt! I can't believe he thought I was fucking disgusting! Even if I was 46, I'd still be delicious! You magical men just have no taste."
Orpheus rubbed the bridge of his nose before he put me down and held my hand like I was some sort of naughty child that needed minding. Considering that I was physically five, he probably wasn't wrong, but it still irked me that I was an adult inside and it didn't apparently translate enough to my behaviour for me to be treated like one.
"I didn't call you here for no reason at all. You promised me to be obedient and to do the tasks I set out for you. Well I need those tasks done."
"Not waiting a moment huh. Well I can respect the hustle. What tasks?" I asked.
"How good are you at conning and stealing?" Orpheus asked looking my way with a critical eye.
I couldn't help the grin that stretched my face. Oh this was going to be interesting~
I was dressed like a boy much to my ire. It had been a lifetime since I was forced to wear pants! It was so constricting, and not to mention unflattering on my figure, but I had to admit it was easier to get around in them. The lack of any frills or colours on my shirt was atrocious, and so I did the only sane thing I could think of; I decided to make this drab boy my alter-ego so I didn't have to bear the shame of presenting this fashion disaster as Arete. I painstakingly shoved my curly hair into a hat and put away my glasses and decided to get my hands dirty.
"You'd think a person would be reluctant to send a vulnerable little lady like me to a place like this," I grumbled to Lenny.
"I don't think anyone will waaant to eaat you. You have proven to tassste dissgusssting," Lenny replied.
"Ouch Lenny, don't be a cunt, I taste delicious! Those bastards just don't know a good flavour when they try it," I protested in irritation.
Dammit, I tasted lovely! Everyone here probably just ate too much chili and burnt their taste buds, because no way in Voldemort's shiny bald head, did I taste bad! I managed to keep my grumbling to a minimum though. As much as it hurt my ego, it was also the reason I had all my limbs at the moment. Plus it wasn't like people were just lining up to eat little girls. They probably had a number of nefarious things they would do to them, and I wasn't in the mood to experience trauma and become a brooding emo character.
"The chalissse," he reminded me.
"Oh right, it should be in the Bogg's Burrow… what the actual fuck are these D&D names?" I asked looking at the map Orpheus had granted me before he dumped me in some wizarding street in Scotland.
Surprisingly there seemed to not be a lot of wizarding places with just humans roaming around. Most of it was situated in England and Paris, but there were a few small counties in other minor European countries for human wizards and witches, and places like the Spire were rarer but more packed. It turned out non-human magical creatures existed in quite the numbers, and because they rarely ventured into non-magical territory, they seemed to be larger in numbers in the places where they resided. At the same time you'd be hard pressed to find any of them roaming around in Diagon Alley either, considering they preferred to stay away from bigoted humans. I figured it was better than trying to intermingle with witches and wizards if they were anything like they were in the books. Racist cunts that they were… although it seemed that racism was being thrown in every direction at this stage.
"I sssmell dark magiccc," Lenny warned me.
"Well sure. Not like I'd be stealing something from an up and proper shop now would I. The chalice is probably cursed, which is why I nabbed these earlier."
I held out my nifty new enchanted gloves. This one I'd permanently borrowed from what looked like a trustful kind of store. I figured it was best to take some proper precautions before jumping straight into thievery. Potions to make you stealthy and that sort were hard to find and hidden behind locked and enchanted glass casings. These gloves while rare and hard to procure had been the only one I'd been willing to take the risk to steal, and it was after a considerable amount of time waiting for someone to come and ask to buy it. When the owner had taken it out and moved onto a few more things for his client to peruse, I took the moment of distraction to discreetly store it away.
I put on my curse detecting gloves and walked into the store behind another man. Slipping into the place as discreetly as I could. My heart beat quicker in anticipation as I watched the storekeeper interact with the customer. I went to hide behind the shelf. I looked around for the chalice and spotted it in a glass container behind the desk.
Getting behind the table would be tricky, but I wasn't going to give up just yet. I grinned at Lenny.
"Time to be useful little man. Go capture their attention," I whispered.
"No, I don't feel like it," he said lazily around my shoulder.
I rolled my eyes. "Ok I'll find you some juicy rabbit meat ok."
That caught his attention and he nodded. I watched in abated breath as Lenny rolled from my arm and slithered onto the floor in front of the wizard. I quickly grabbed onto the curtain and began climbing up and over to the hanging plants. I grabbed the railing as I heard the screaming and cursing and I used my momentum to jump down behind the large table. I rushed behind the pillar holding the chalice and grabbed it quickly. I shoved it into the satchel I was given and then climbed up the wall shelf to go hide back behind the bookshelf I was behind first.
Lenny had slithered away to the right end of the store where he was hissing in agitation as spells were shot at him by two terrified men. I hissed at him to come along as I slid the door open for him. He saw me and decided to follow after I made my way out. Thankfully, he made it out safe and back onto my arms because the moment he latched on I made a run for it into a nearby store's indent and watched as the two men ran out looking for the snake. With a grin I held up the glass casing and broke it against the stone wall before grabbing the chalice inside and running away.
"I will never do thissss for you again," Lenny grumbled.
"Oh cheer up you poor sod. Look what we got," I said happily as I showed him the crystal encrusted chalice. "You reckon its some sort of enchanted cup? Oh! Oh! What if it turns water into wine!"
"What would be the purposssse of that then?" Lenny said irritably.
"Who doesn't want an endless supply of alcohol. That big brimey bastard," I said in disbelief. "I would totally understand Orpheus sending us out here to risk our lives for something that amazing," I said nodding my head. "Although that would still make him a right cunt for throwing us into danger... but if it's for good alcohol I can forgive him."
"Your prioritiessss need worksss," my snake replied disinterestedly.
"Ok, ok enough chatting Lenny. We better get this to Orpheus before—"
I nearly jumped out of my socks as I turned around to see the red-faced store owner. Before I could run away I was grabbed by my collar and raised up. Lenny hissed and shot his fangs out and the man dropped me again.
"That bloody vampire," the owner grumbled. "I ought to keep the chalice for this disturbance of my work. He lost me a client!"
"You know him huh. It's obvious by your angry reaction. Can't blame you he's a mean little shit," I sighed.
"You better watch your tongue child."
"Eeep! Where are you lot coming from?!" I shouted in shock as I turned around to see Orpheus having teleported behind me. He shoved his hand down my jacket and pulled out the lump that was the chalice. I held my chest in horror before I realised, I was a five-year-old and suddenly being so scandalised didn't make much sense.
"Why'd you send the boy in to grab your purchase. I had it ready waiting for you to pick it up! You didn't need to disrupt my business," the store owner grumbled.
"Apologies Marvin, I simply wanted to test out this child's skills in thievery. How would you rate her?"
"A 7/10 give or take. He did do a pretty good job of it at first but began dallying around talking to his snake..." the man replied honestly and in thought before he realised once again that he should be affronted and angry. "Don't try to change the subject Lestoat! You better not pull this again you hear me!"
"My apologies. I assure you it's a one of thing. She wasn't meant to disturb you in the first place," Orpheus said glaring.
"She sicked a snake on me and my client!"
"Again apologies. We must be leaving now," Orpheus said hastily as he picked me up by the scruff of my collar and apparated away.
I huffed in his arms, feeling wholly too irritated at this whole situation. I put in all that effort for a test? Not to mention I'd sworn to give Lenny a rabbit! A pure innocent animal would have to die now because of Orpheus's stupid test.
"That chalice better be a source of infinite wine, or I'll never forgive you!" I said glaring his way.
"What are you prattling on about child? Well either way you've managed to complete your test. I will take you on as my apprentice."
"Wait apprentice?" I asked in shock.
He held up the gloves I had stolen with the closest things to an impressed expression. He put me down in the forest and handed it back to me.
"Stealing something like that was proof enough that you have potential, but for what I plan to accomplish I'll need more than just your skills in thievery. I'll need someone small enough to fit into tight places and skilful enough to pass of as someone else. You'll need training and so henceforth you are my apprentice."
"Is that why we're at the cabin again?" I asked excitedly. "You're going to teach me here?"
"No, I have other matters to attend to for today. This is where you will live."
"What? But you have an entire castle and this cabin doesn't have plumbing or a shower," I whined.
"You were fine with that for months," he pointed out.
"But it's because I had no choice! No please don't leave me my benevolent, handsome, dashing, beautifully kind-hearted sir!" I cried holding onto his legs.
Orpheus apparated away as if my contact was disgusting and I found myself on the ground arms, reaching out in horror as he waved a quick goodbye and left via floo.
He left with all my hopes and dreams. I stared at the spot he was in before in devastation.
"What are you whining about now?" Lenny grumbled. "The vampire has left us in peace."
"No Lenny you don't understand! Plumbing Lenny, plumbing! Not to mention hot showers! Nooo my hot showers," I cried in devastation.
"Ssstop your complaining and get me a rabbit."
I sniffled as I stood up and decided to accept my fate. That's when I noticed a pile of books by the fireplace. I walked over and there was a note on top.
'Start of your lessons. Read and memorise these books by the end of the week. Good luck.'
"Time for my rabbit!" Lenny called out.
I crumpled the paper and lamented on my terrible luck.
"I don't taste bad and I deserve my modern comforts dammit!"
With that I went out into the forest, tears pouring out of my eyes as I realised my life of hardship had only just begun.
I know these chapters are taking time to put out, but it's because I have another story, I'm slightly more dedicated too.
I really don't know how I've managed to keep the Arete tasting bad gag going for so long, but it's a thing now. XD Leave your thoughts in a review if you enjoy this story. I'd like to know where you think Arete is going to end up, cause she's extremely chaotic and it's super fun to write.