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It was warm for spring.

Shafts of light exposed the dust motes inside the quiet shop, warming up wooden furniture and causing the many bottles of magic dust to shimmer like a mirage. Despite the warmth, the fireplace still crackled, a cauldron of starsand being toasted slowly, while the owner of the shop, a young man with curly strands of brown hair, washed and dried empty bottles. The glass was more aesthetic than mere bags, but they were also more expensive to procure as well, meaning that most of the time, he’d end up asking people to return the bottles once they were emptied.

Didn’t always work, of course. Some people thought that the price of his magic included the bottles.

Still, it was nice, mind-numbing, hand-cooling work. Most people would be heading here in the evening, after all, but he wasn’t exactly going to just close the shop during the day either. Who knew when someone would need some magic to spice up their lunch time meal, or some magic to give that extra impact for their outfit, or some magic just to relax after a day’s work when you couldn’t afford to go drinking? Of course, his main profits still came from magical fertilizer and the weather prediction pamphlets he released, but Allereun could still dream. His study, as unofficial and unsanctioned by the Church as it was, was the study of emotional magic, the ability to inspire happiness in people, after all.

Happiness in a stifled, but safe world. The most profitable venture ever.

Wiping his hands off on a towel, the mage set the bottles out by the water to dry, before picking up the bucket of dirtied water with him. With a single, practiced motion, he swung open the door and tossed the water out.

Unfortunately, there just happened to be some kid standing right there.

"Oops."
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How was she supposed to go about it? In theory, it seemed easy, but now? Right here? In front of this door? Minutes, seconds even, before their fateful meeting? Difficult. Difficult, indeed. Inside her head, she imagined over 100 different scenarions. So what was it exactly? Worry? Fear? Doubt? All these emotions were unnecessary. There was only a single path forward, and she certainly wouldn't fail.

November was sure of it. She had to be sure of it. If she had already doubt at the very first step, then what would her, their, future hold? Unnecessary, truly unnecessary. Closing her eyes for a moment, November tried to calm down. To empty her mind. She could feel the gentle warmth against her skin. The melody of birds she did not understand. The smell of fresh blossoming flowers, mixed with the distinct odor of alchemy coming from inside and—

The door opened.
A single swing of a bucket.
There was no escape.

A hundred scenarios.
But none included this one.

"That's..." The girl, soaking wet, opened her mouth. She didn't seem angry, but not happy either. "...not very nice."
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Oh shit, there was someone there? Allereun certainly didn’t see that coming, not when he had performed the same action over and over again for the last couple of years with no mishaps occurring. Seriously, what were the chances of that? Less than being struck by lightning, for sure.

“Yeah,” the mage nodded, “That really wasn’t nice. Sorry ‘bout that, miss, can I…”

As the urgency of the situation began to fade, more important details about the woman before him emerged. Hair like ripe stalks of wheat, eyes as blue as autumn skies. A bountiful chest accentuated to sinful extremes by the wetness of her clothes, and an hourglass figure that simply could not belong to such a childish stature. Ears suddenly burning, Allereun visibly gulped, before quickly turning away.

“…I’ll go grab a clean towel for you immediately.”

In Ein's name, what on earth was such a beauty doing here?
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Progress... of some sort. It wasn't exactly what she had planned, but at the very least, the girl had now entry to the shop. As something, or someone, else as a customer anyway. Being completely soaked was just a small sacrifice in exchange.

Oblivious to his shameful feelings, the blonde now took a few steps closer, over the doorstep. "Thank you." Thanking the person who got her into this mess in the first place, was that even right? "I also require a fresh pair of clothes, temporary." She demanded. After all, she had to dry her current attire, maybe even wash it. "And I am called November." November finally introduced herself, before adding.

"I'll be in your care."
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"November? Aha, I'm All- woah shoot!"

A stool was knocked over as Allereun practically tripped over it, the mage only managing to stabilize himself by slamming a hand into a shelf. The impact caused one of the small bottles of magic powder to get knocked out, and it was only by a miracle or a fluke that the brunette managed to bounce it back up with his foot, before catching it in his hand and slotting it back in place. Smooth. Super smooth, Allereun. He forced an awkward laugh, how definitely dying at how embarrassingly uncool he was. "Was gonna say Allereun Usheim," he continued, stepping into the back of the store to pull out a clean towel from a cabinet. Clothing was hard to find as well, but ultimately, he settled for a loose shirt, pants, and...

Apron or cloak, what would it be? A cloak would definitely be immensely helpful for suppressing his inappropriate desires and helping regain his professional veneer, but on the other hand, an apron...the way it'd hug her curves, the way it would accentuate her flat stomach and ample bosom, and how much of a cute little wife she'd look! Facing away from the customer, Allereun screwed his face up in true agony before, in a display of earth-shaking will, completed the outfit with the cloak.

"Here," he croaked, suddenly, inexplicably thirsty, "You can go change in the back room. And uh, just so I have an idea of what you need...what are you looking for here, Miss November? My shop doesn't really deal with perfumes, but I do have an excellent selection of sparkledust, if I say so myself."
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For a moment, November's worst fears became reality as she witnessed the clumsiness of Allereun. Incompetence where she was seeking competence. Yet, luckily, he seemed to just barely save himself. A fluke? Pure skill? Ultimately, the blonde could do nothing but hope for the later. After all, she had nobody else. Maybe he was a diamond in the rough that simply needed some more polishing. Polishing she was sure to provide.

Nonetheless, the girl followed him further inside, already starting to dry her hair with the towel provided. Maybe she could ask for a shower? Dinner? What he did was considered truly horrible to a girl like her, wasn't it? How far could she push her luck? No. She had to concentrate on the matter at hand. Risking to make him think of her as a bother was out of the question.

"Thank you." November replied as she also took the clothes. Regardless of their size, the cloak would be of great help. "It's just November." She corrected him. Right, she never had a last name. Was it important? Would it weird him out? What would he think of her? "A... A... A. . . ?" November half-stammered for a moment. Great. Now what? Surely he'd think of her as a weirdo now, unless—

"November A." Yes! She nailed it. "Miss A. But you can call me November." She corrected herself before walking towards the backroom. "I'm not here for your excellent wares." Right, this was it. "But for you~" This time, she tried to smile. It looked a bit weird, like a smile from someone who had never smiled before. Not because they were permanently in a bad mood, but rather because they haven't been aware of smiling. But didn't that make it even cuter?

With these words, however, the blonde left the Shopkeeper and his thoughts alone for quite some time.

...
...
...

With baggy clothes hid underneath a cloak that could as well be a bed-sheet, November finally stepped out of the backroom. "They'll need some time to dry." She initiated the conversation before jumping on top of the counter in one swift motion. The early bird guts the worm, or something!

Closing her eyes for a moment, she gathered confidence.Alright. You got this. Just as you have trained. He'll fall for your charm! And so on. "Allereun Usheim..." She started, opening her eyes again. Her face was now filled with way more confidence and emotion than what he had witnessed so far. "I'm here to give you a message, my message, and an invitation." Just like she had practised. "This paradise that surrounds you is a farce." She made an ominous spin... in rags! "The peaceful life you have been living, a lie." Nobody liked lies! "The Church is using you. Abusing you. Exploiting you. All of you. Slaves unaware of their own shackles." Jumping down from the counter, she landed in front of him.

"No longer, I say, will we be chained to this false religion. So..." Locking his eyes with her own, the blonde girl offered her hand. "So, Allereun Usheim, I ask of you: Will you take my hand, and join me in a Crusade against God?" Did she nail it!?
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For him? For him?!

What on earth was happening? How could this actually be? No way, was this some super extra luck he was having right now? Sweat broke out on his forehead as Allereun tried to control his breathing, gulping in air like a fish on land as he did his best not to imagine exactly what November A was doing in the back room. In a town where most of the eligible bachelorettes were sunburnt and on the skinny side, someone as soft and curvy as November was more than sufficient for arousing the curly-haired youth’s primal urges. The titillating sound of wet clothing being peeled off pale skin. The erotic rubbing of a towel underneath all the places his hands had never explored. The sexual way she’d put on new clothes, his clothes, like a reverse strip show.

Oh man…he took in a gulp of water and sat himself down, trying to think up of all the least arousing images in the world, only to always return to the blonde bombshell in the back of his store. His thumbs were twiddling, his knees were bouncing, he was the very picture of a tortured beast about to explode as she walked out again, her dynamite appeal now given a mysterious allure by the cloak she wore over her features. With a bated breath, Allereun waited for her explanation, hanging onto every word.



Turned out, it really was beyond his wildest delusions.

Waging a war against the Church?

Almost instantly, Allereun’s little buddy shrivelled up and died.

“Uh…” he scratched the back of his head, awkwardly laughing, his gray eyes gaining a quizzical light. “That’s a very…unique joke, Miss A. Super…interesting? Really though, I’ve never done anything like acting though, so I don’t think I’ll be very able to help you with this…provocative play of yours. Oh, but if you need like, a stage hand or something, I can definitely assist!”
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...
...
...

Whaaaaaaaaaat!?!?!? November looked at Allereun blankly. He didn't take her hand. He didn't get charmed. He didn't agree to anything she said! No! Instead, the guy who made her soaking wet thought she was acting! Fooling around! A stage play! Why? Why? Just why!?

What was this feeling? Why did it feel like tears swelled up inside her eyes? Sadness? Embarrassment? It did not matter. November had a mission. A mission she wouldn't just give up on so easily. Rubbing her eyes for a second to not show any weakness, November cleared her throat. If her alluring entrance wasn't convincing enough she simply had to be more logical.

"I- I am not joking about this!" She told him, making sure he was aware just how serious November was. "Just think about it..." She could list a hundred reasons, but the biggest gun should suffice. "I'm sure you're aware of the Spellblaze, no? Did you never question the timing, the knowledge, the everything of how the Church of Eins came into the picture? Quite a timing, wouldn't you agree?"

While there were some conspiracy theorists walking on this world, most that barked too loud were quickly silenced. Thus, what Charlotte said wasn't something well-known or something that people generally thought about unless animated to.
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"Uh, I mean..."
Allereun tried to picture it as much as he could, but on the other hand, the Spellblaze was literally ancient history for him. He didn't know anyone who had any stories about 'pre-Spellblaze' times, and all things considered, the thought of only a set group of people having magic as a 'gift' ran against his own thoughts on what magic should be to begin with. Though he wasn't particularly religious, he wasn't immune to the dogma of the church either. So, all things considered...

...November must be going through her rebellious phase or something. Ah, he remember those times, where he dreamed of being a dragon slaying mage that wielded words of power, capable of raising and obliterating mountain ranges.

"That's a good thing, isn't it? Sure, maybe it's a bit crazy that they were prepared for the disaster, but we wouldn't be living in such a peaceful society now if it wasn't for their willingness to take control."

As he spoke, his eyes naturally slid towards the windows, in search of any possible eavesdroppers. This wasn't heretical talk, right? Hopefully.
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November sighed. He was stopped to lead the revolution. To be strong. A symbol of Justice and a Truth. So why did he not understand? Was he maybe the wrong person? No. He was it. He had to be it. So, maybe, he was just a natural at magic - as far as it was still allowed? Whatever the case, it was a fact that November's words didn't get through to him.

"You..." November started. "...didn't get it, did you?" The blonde shook her head. "I'm saying the Church might be responsible for the Spellblaze!" Did she really have to spell it out? Whatever her words were blasphemy or not, implying something so horrible about a group that was praised so highly required either someone crazy, or very confident.

"... Let me show you, then." November got closer to him, staring near emotionless into his eyes as to underline how serious she was. "The dark side of the Church."
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Responsible for it? Now that was a big deal...maybe.

Allereun, unfortunately, was more concerned with how goddamn cute she was despite her emotionless facade than the true gravity of the situation. Through willpower alone, he managed to keep himself from having an unfortunate bulge as she closed the distance between the two of them, but that didn't stop his face from blooming like a terrible drunk when she got closer. God above, she was so small and precious, but so dynamically sensuous too! The cloak was definitely a good idea. If she had still been in her normal clothing, he wasn't certain if he could restrain himself from embracing her.

"A-alright, uh..." the brunette gulped again, pulling at his shirt's collar. "Go ahead, I...guess?"
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November nodded at least some progress. "Before we continue..." Just how naive was he actually about the church? "... are you aware of anything... uppsetting, about the Church? Have you seen them killing? Silencing potential oppression? Abuse of their given authority?" Awfully specific, wasn't it? Regardless, as November pressured him for an answer she moved even closer. Why did he have to be so tall!?

"And..." She added after some thought. "Who do you determine to be in charge? The king of your country?"
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"I mean...not personally? There's always rumors, y'know?" Allereun waved vaguely. "But, well, nothing confirmed. And as for the person in charge..."

He couldn't back up any further at this point, pressed against the wall as he already was, and the mage had to crane his neck down to meet November eye to eye at this point. Damn, was this uncomfortable.

"Guess it'd be the taxcollector? Like, for this town, at least. I doubt any noble really cares about here."
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The tax-collector? Was Allereun really thinking that small? Or was simply everybody like that? Whatever the case, his view of the world was innocent. Or rather, successfully manipulated. That was the conclusion November came to.

Giving him a nod, the cloaked girl took a few steps back before nodding. "Alright. Then..." It would take some time, wouldn't it? She wasn't on a strict schedule but she couldn't spend too much time dilly-dallying either. Giving him another nod, the girl offered him her hand once again. "Then follow me. We will go out." She simply had to show him, then.
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"Uh...but...my store..."

Oh, who was he kidding. He could open the store tomorrow as well. Even if Allereun didn't totally understand what was going on with November, this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime oppurtunity regardless, being able to hold hands with and go on an excursion with a girl as devastatingly attractive as herself. So that's exactly what he did. Wiping whatever residual hand-sweat he could off his pants, the alchemist gently took the flaxen haired lady's hand into his own, before gesturing her to lead the way.
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"You can-" But before November had to do any more convincing in regards to his store, Allereun already seemed to have changed his mind. "Good." She observed flatly before pulling him alongside. For a girl of her statue, she seemed surprisingly strong.

"So..." November started talking as they walked along the short path towards the village centre. Despite being nothing more than a small farming community, the fact it was close to a border made it a popular stop for traders. Who knew, maybe a 50 or 100 more years and the village would develop into a bustling town. They had, after all, already a sort-of alchemy shop that was able to sustain itself.

"For me to show you the truth, we'll likely have to wait until night-time." November continued in her neutral tone. "It might seem intrusive, but once you've come to your senses, we will spend a very long time together anyway." A church spanning over the whole continent couldn't be toppled in just a mere month, after all!
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"S-spend a very long time together..." Allereun sputtered out, his face coloring at the implications. But no. She probably didn't mean it that way. Or it was a honey trap. That could be it too. God above, he needed to get his shit together. Shaking his head slightly, he followed after the petite girl, wondering what exactly the couple of merchants and artisans still in the town thought of all this. Despite her own cloaked figure, the girl's buxom chest clearly stood out, as well as the fact that she was leading him around.

Hopefully no unsavory rumors popped up due to this.

"So, uh...why are we out here, when the thing you're showing me is happening at night? I mean, we coulda just stayed indoors for longer, right, Miss A?"
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"It won't just happen by itself. We, I, have to do something." November explained. "And you can call me November." She told him a second time. It was better being on a first-name basis, right? He would feel... closer.

As the two reached pretty much the centre of the village's market, a runestone infused well/fountain surrounded by various market stands, the girl finally let go of her hand. "Mhm..." The blonde pondered for a moment. It would have been better if he simply believed her, painting a target on her back this early would surely turn out to be detrimental after all. Unless she'd practice moderation.

Right, now, how'd she do this? Clearing her throat, November suddenly started to yell out."The Great Lord of Light, the Father of Magic, the Bringer of Light, the Banisher of Darkness, Father of Men, the Origin of Peace!" While most people simply went onto their business, a few curious/confused onlookers gave the girl a glance as she blurted out just a few of many titles that Eins was referred to. "I saw him! In my dreams, he appeared." Her once neutral attitude had changed completely to be one who was clearly convinced of their own words, even a little manic. "'You shall be my reborn Voice' he said." By now, a few more people started to listen. Some simply amused, other open to weird ideas, and others just annoyed that their own trading (and yelling) was trumped by this cloaked midget.

"So, hear my voice. Hear our God. For he has a message for all of you..." By now, November was the centre of attention. "Let it be known in the realms far and wide: The Church has become corrupted. In the highest echelons of the Golden City, Demons have nested deep into their ranks. Greed and pride have started to blossom as-" A few tomatoes and alike started to fly towards her, even hit her, but that did not stop November. "-the Church uses false pretence under my holy name. Today, you're safe. In a month, nothing will change. But let me warn you: In a year, from now on, the Church will bring about an Apocalypse. Peace and serenity will make way for bloodshed and carnage..." November went on for another few minutes speaking about how the Church is now serving a false god as she finally came to an end, urging the people to take matters into their own hands and spread the word far and wide as they would be able to create an even better paradise. The fact that the worst treatment she got was simple words and rotten food were a testimony to how peaceful this place had become.

"Tomorrow..." She also added after an ominous pause in her speech. "I shall be here again. Our God promised a miracle, a cornerstone that will mark the coming of a second Utopia!" With that, the now in eggs and tomato-juice covered November was finished as some people called her names while others went onto their business. A few, however, seemed visibly convinced (or sceptical) as they asked her all manners of questions to which November simply replied she was too tired and they would witness a historical moment 'tomorrow'.

This went on for another five to ten minutes before things finally seemed to have calmed down and the marketplace was back to its usual pace.

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To call her words incendiary would be an understatement. As November launched into her speech, proclaiming all sorts of crazy things, Allereun could simply listen, stunned at the audacity of what she said. This was...a bit insane, wasn't it? What even was she saying? People had been tossed into the mines for less than the crazy shit she was spewing. The crowd she had gathered, all relatively pious folk, had been worked up into a frenzy, and as eggs and rotten vegetables fell upon her like the shittiest rain in the world, Allereun couldn't help but turn away.

What was he supposed to be seeing here? This was a normal response.

The alchemist grimaced, and as more food was wasted upon the words of a provocateur, he disappeared into the crowds.
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Sooner or later, Allereun had to return to his humble home. "There you are." A certain girl greeted him, already waiting in front of his door. Alone. "I apologize for ruining these clothes..." Before adding with a small smile. "That makes us even, no?"
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