Bio Magic Items
For the past several days, there had been a girl with long and mousy hair roaming about the Silver Moon Inn. Many in the hotel-turned-guild-hall were likely to find her familiar—she was tall and lanky, wore a variety of t-shirts, hoodies, and decorative tunics, and seemed to have her head in the clouds whenever she had free time—but few were likely to know who it was without getting a good look at her face, or knowing in which room she stayed. Although those characteristics were trademarks of this particular person, what had made her stand out from most everyone else was her snow-white hair—if one were to ask a guild member how to describe this person, the first things would probably be her height and beanpole figure, the second would almost certainly be her snowy locks.
Karin Sørensen didn’t always have white hair; the chestnut brown that it currently was had been her natural hair color until a family trip years and years ago. As she sat in front of the mirror and brushed out her hair—a once weekly ritual that consumed several hours of the chosen day—the memory made her chuckle…
A surprised scream broke the serenity of the woodland evening. A family of seven were all gathered in a grove around one of the many pools of water in that part of the forest; the eldest daughter had been pushed into it by her older brother, Peter.
“Peter, you jerk!” she said as she pulled her head out from under the surface, soaked brown hair in her face. Peter was about three or four years older than his sister Karin. As the girl pulled her hair out of her face and waded back to the shore, the young man couldn’t stop laughing.
“I’m sorry, Karin,” he said, “But you were standing right there—I couldn’t help it!”
“Oh, shut up!” she said with a roll of her eyes, splashing water in his general direction as she got close and getting him wet as well.
“Hey-” he said, still laughing.
As Karin got to the edge of the pool, Peter helped her onto the forest floor and frowned. Her clothes were soaked all the way through—clearly, he hadn’t thought his prank out very well. After a moment, he ran his fingers through the back of his short, dark hair.
“I’ll go and get you a blanket,” he mumbled. Karin watched as he left and her entire face frowned as she ran her fingers through her damp hair—it would be a miracle if it dried without becoming frizzy and matted, but, such was a consequence of having it as long as she did. A moment later, her brother was back with the promised blanket.
“Thank you,” she said. The girl took the blanket from her brother, but seemed a bit unsure of what to do next. However, as if on cue, their step-mother—a somewhat tall and raven-haired lady named Edith—came over in a fuss.
“Karin, look at you! You’re sopping wet!” she said, clearly displeased. Before she could go on about how it “would not do” for her step-daughter to be a human mop, Peter spoke up.
“Edith, please don’t be that way,” Peter said, “It’s my fault she fell into the water in the first place.”
“I didn’t fall, you pushed me in!” Karin blurted.
“Peter!” Lilith gasped, her face bearing a deeper frown than what had already been present. “Karin, go and get out of those wet, disgusting clothes—your brother and I are going to have a talk with your father.”
Peter shot his sister a look, though she couldn’t tell what he was feeling—their step-mother had dragged him off almost as soon as she had finished the sentence. Left with only the blanket and her sopping wet self, Karin dashed off into the bushes to get undressed.
Some time later that evening, the family had gathered around the campfire for s’mores. Rather than graham crackers, the family used fudge-stripped cookies they had brought from the bakery in-town to build their sweets—and, in the excitement that came with the prospect of ever-elusive sweets, it seemed that the incident in the pool had been forgotten. Peter had gotten off with a short talk from his father for the moment; although their father seemed jovial about it—calling it “brotherly antics” with a chuckle—he had nonetheless said that he’d find something for Peter to do at the house to appease Edith’s temper.
To Karin’s immediate left was her father—a tall, brawny man with a well-kept beard and skin that was tanned like leather—while her brother sat to her right. Further to her right was the youngest, Adrian, and past her father were the twins—Nora and Hanna; all three of them had gotten some shade of her father’s strawberry hair, but facially they mostly resembled their mother, Edith.
Karin hummed as the taste of golden-brown marshmallow and chocolate filled her mouth; it was undoubtedly hot, but she had let it cool just long enough to eat without burning herself. As she went for a second bite, she noticed Hanna—the younger twin—staring at her.
“Hmm?” Karin asked through her second mouthful of marshmallow.
“Karin, you...um...your hair’s..uh..white.” Hanna said.
It was hard to discern what her half-sister’s expression was in the flickering of the fire, but the sound of her voice was notably surprised. At that moment, everyone seemed to turn and look at the girl—the youngest burst into laughter, while most everyone else seemed to be somewhere between bemused and concerned.
Wondering what exactly it was Hanna was talking about—Karin thought she was just joking, perhaps about some marshmallow that had gotten stuck in her hair—she pulled the ends of a lock into view. Her eyes widened in confusion, but there was a lack of panic that one might expect from such a radical change in hair color.
“Huh...” Karin said.
It was funny, how subdued her reaction had been when compared to the rest of her family—after some time everyone had gotten used to it, and it got to the point where old family photos of her looked weird with brown hair instead of white. Without pictures, even Karin herself had forgotten what she had looked like with her natural-born hair color—after about a decade of living with white-silver hair, she wasn’t sure she liked the brown. For the time being, she’d keep it—if she got too many weird looks, she could always change it back whenever she liked.
She put the brush down and yawned before she looked in the mirror. Though it was the same length, texture, and style as it had been before, it seemed that the brown hair framed her face differently—her golden-orange eyes stood out less prominently, taking on a more ‘natural’ fit rather than the stark contrast before—and her whole face seemed to lose the weary weight of life: it was a far more innocent look than what she was used to, one that was and had been foreign to her for quite some time.
A soft knock on the door disrupted her thoughts—thankfully, she was dressed—and she stood up from the stool and walked over to the door. Before she answered she looked through the peephole—it was one of the regular staff, someone who worked there without actually being part of the guild. Undoing the chain, she opened the door with a “Hmm?”
“Oh, hi k-k-Karin,” the young man said. He was fairly short—probably a foot shorter than the woman he had greeted—had mousy hair and timid brown eyes, and spoke with a noticeable stutter. If she recalled correctly he went by ‘Matti’. She noticed he had some letters and a singular magazine in his slightly shaking hands just as he added, “You’ve g-got some mail.”
“Thank you, Matti,” Karin said, gently taking the letters as he handed them over.
“You’re welc-c-c-c...,” he stuttered, and, with an embarrassed blush, stopped and instead parted with, “Have a nice day, ma’am.”
With a nod, the young man was gone to do whatever else he did around the inn. Karin closed the door and shuffled the letters around as she read the envelopes, the magazine tucked under her arm and folded. She pursed her lips when she saw that, out of the four, three of them were addressed to a ‘Kistiñe Ibáñez’—probably a previous occupant whose mail hadn’t been emptied. She put the other person’s letters off to the side, leaving her with the magazine and a singular piece of mail.
She sat down on the stool in front of the mirror and looked at the magazine for a moment. It was the latest edition of Sorcerer’s, and the feature article was on the guild master of Infinity Hydra, Ardere. She skimmed through a few of the pages, pausing whenever a picture or headline caught her attention, but wasn’t entirely interested in it for the time being.
Bored with the magazine, she took a closer look at the sole envelope that had been addressed to her. It was plain, but it was quite thick—as if there were more than just a single letter inside. On the front there were naught but her name and the address of the inn written in pristine script. As soon as she saw the seal on the back, she paused. It appeared to be simple wax, with a seven-pointed star imprinted on it—Karin recognized it as the mark of Seven’s government.
“What could they possibly want with me now?” she muttered bitterly. Though she rarely got mail from home, she disliked receiving it from the government of homeland—the government that had exiled her on trumped-up charges of murder. The entire debacle had been a political one from the start—a mock trial, with a stacked jury and bribed judge—but one that had ruined her life and those of her family.
Placing the letter on the desk with the seal facing up, she put her thumb on the wax. Each star on the seal lit up one-by-one, before the seal cracked in half with a small “chink” and unbound itself from the envelope; such seals were used on legal documents and other letters of importance to keep prying eyes off of the contents—whatever was inside must have been of utmost importance.
She brushed away the broken halves of the seal and opened the envelope, but she stopped short of taking out what was inside to read. Long fingers tapped on the desk idly as she thought about whether she wanted to read what was inside; she had no clue what they could have wanted from her. She was in exile, she had stayed out of Seven as they had ordered her to; there was nothing more they could ask of her other than to turn herself in for a harsher sentence—the rest of her life away from home was painful enough as it was, but there were crueler fates. Karin stared at it for what felt like hours, though only a minute had passed—finally, she pulled the contents out: a smaller envelope, a stapled packet of about five or six pages, and the letter itself.
She set the smaller enveloped and the packet aside, and read through the letter.
“412 Capital Boulevard
Royal Palace, Seven
Silver Moon Inn
Rose Garden, Fiore
I am writing to inform you of recent events regarding the verdict of the criminal trial that was held from September 13th to November 22nd regarding the death of Jon Carlsen. The Provincial Court of Valensgrove ruled that you were guilty of voluntary manslaughter; in lieu of a prison sentence, you were stripped of your citizenship and exiled for life.
These, however, are all things I am sure you are aware of.
In light of numerous complaints from members of your family and the community of Valensgrove, and as part of a wider investigation into possible corruption of the aforementioned Court, my office re-opened the case earlier this year. Our findings indicate that the case was mishandled on multiple levels and that the ruling was reached in a manner inconsistent with court precedent and the common law. In addition, we believe that evidence and testimonies were falsified in order to secure your conviction. On request, my office will send you a copy of the findings for your records.
Taking into consideration these factors, and others from our broader investigation, you should be pleased to know that a pardon has been granted to your name by the Queen. Any criminal charges that were procured as a result of the aforementioned trial have already been removed from record. Please take this letter and all included documents to the nearest consulate to begin the process of reinstating your citizenship. Once your citizenship has been reinstated, you will be free to return to your previous residence or anywhere else within the Seven’s borders.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact my office.
Minister of Law”
She frowned bitterly as she read the first paragraph and the sentence afterwards. Of course she was aware of those things—it wasn’t as if there were many people named “Karin Sørensen” that went around getting exiled.
The killing hadn’t even been her fault; the Carl Jensen mentioned in the letter had been a friend of her brother, Peter, but he had been no friend of Karin’s—he had always been something of a creep, and deserved the knife that had been put in his throat when he had tried to force himself on her to “ease his grief” over Peter’s death.
For days afterwards, she had locked herself in her room; some hours there had sobs and bouts of crying, others there had been manic whispers of thin re-assurance—most of the time, though, it was naught but the eerie and tense embrace of silence. However, it was the humiliation she had experienced in court that was on her mind at that moment; the prosecutor claimed that she had wanted to make love and had full intent on killing him if he refused—her defense, though denying it, asked her to play along with ‘temporary insanity’ as a defense. To this day, she burned with contempt for the judge and all other parties that had taken part in that the trial.
She took a breath before continuing to read.
“In light of numerous complaints...” she read aloud. Her voice was a disbelieving mumble, “...my office reopened the case earlier this year...”
As she continued to read through the letter, her voice quivered. Her eyes watered, a few tears running down her cheek moments later as the weight of what she just read began to sink in—the veil was torn, and her feelings were laid bare. The mass of emotion that lumped in her throat was bittersweet—confusion and disbelief battled with triumph and elation, but the entire feeling was painted with hues of homesickness that left knots in her stomach. An uneasy laugh left her lips, as if she were unsure if now was the appropriate time for such a response—nevertheless it was genuine and happy laughter, something that had been missing for quite some time.
She could go home…
It was about noon two days later when Karin had finally calmed down enough to actually pursue the course of action the letter required. The smaller envelope had contained an official notice of her pardon, while the packet appeared to be the legal paperwork needed to restore her citizenship in Seven; it seemed that Mr. Jensen’s office had been kind enough to fill out most of the mundane information for her—the only fields that weren’t completed had “Current” in the title, or were details that only Karin or her family could provide.
Like any other administrative building—even in a city as vibrant as Rose Garden—the consulate was nothing spectacular to look at; most of the building was brick and glass, with the seal of Fiore’s government etched into the glass on the front door—apparently, Fiore rented the offices inside to officials of several nations. With the building being as inconspicuous and dull, the Black Rose member knew that she was at the right spot.
She opened the door and walked inside; the first thing she saw were metal detectors and security guards—wonderful. Thankfully, she had left her bracelet and necklace back at the Inn. As she approached, she was asked to remove her shoes and empty her pockets so it all could be run through the conveyor belt off to the side—she put the purple folder with all of her documentation in the tub as well, just to be sure. She obliged, and a moment later she had her things returned and was putting her shoes back on.
“Do you know which office is the consul from Seven?” she asked on of the guards.
“Should be on the second floor, ma’am.” the guard replied.
Walking down the hall, she made it up the stairs and was met with a myriad of doors; thankfully, they were all labeled. After a bit of meandering, Karin found the one she was looking for a knocked gently on the door; a muffled “Come in” was heard from inside.
Taking a split second to calm her nerves, she opened the door and peeked inside. The office was surprisingly neat for how small it was; papers were filed in folders and kept pristine, everything was straight and in order.
“What can I help you with today?” the gentleman asked. He had thick and wavy, greying hair kept at a length just long enough for a side part; his beard, though full, was trimmed and kept to his jaw. Behind his glasses were grey, grandfatherly eyes. On his desk, there was a small placard that said “Marcus Stroud.” She supposed that he was the consul.
“I, uhm...I have some paperwork I need filed.” Karin replied—she wasn’t quite sure how to explain her situation, "
“Oh?” the older man asked, “Come, sit down—we’ll take care of it immediately.”
Closing the door behind her, Karin took a seat in front of the man’s desk and passed him the purple folder. Opening it, Stroud took a look at the first piece of literature—the letter. After a moment, he put it off to the side and pulled out the smaller envelope; as he opened it to look at the pardon decree he asked her, “May I ask when you received these?”
“The other day,” she said, “I don’t check my mail often, though, so they might have been sitting a while...”
“Right,” he muttered. He adjusted his glasses a bit to take a closer look at the watermarks, then put it neatly back in the envelope and stacked them on top of the letter.
“Near as I can tell, everything is in order,” he said. He pulled out the packet and asked, “Have you already filled this out?”
“Not all of it,” she said, “There are parts that said I needed a notary present.”
“Alright,” he said, “Would you mind finding them? We can filled them out right now, then I can get everything filed.”