The road back to the Company was rather uneventful. There was only one little observation Perry had made. He was fiddling with the crystal for a while, thinking of what it meant or held. He didn't find out anything, other than the fact that the crystal faintly glowed when it was not in personal contact with him. The young man wondered why that was, but he couldn't think of anything. Slightly annoyed, he put the crystal away, as he and his friend got to Tolgalen and made their way to the Company building.
As soon as the duo stepped inside the main building, the receptionist welcomed them. "Welcome back, mister Bardell and Nova." The thief tipped his hat and Nova grinned back. "There is a briefing file that has been left for you by your superiors." She said as she took out a thin looking file and placed it upon her desk for Perry to take it. It seemed that the young man's intuition that told him to go back to the Company was right.
The thief walked up to the desk and took the file into his hands. "Thank you, ma'am." He tipped his hat in thanks again and motioned for Nova to follow him. "Aren't we going to get on this case?" The Khigmax asked, eager to go on an adventure. "We are, I just to eat something proper, take a shower and change my clothes." It was Company business, after all. "Ah, alright. Gotcha. I'll go get some food, then, as you shower." Nova said and broke off, heading to the kitchen. "Thanks!"
As soon as Perry was finished with his shower and a meal, he and Nova read over the briefing. Surprisingly enough, it was a request that came from Seven, of all places. Something about a travelling artist named Hyde Moonflare, who was being suspected of recent abductions that happened after his arrival in the Sevenwood. It seemed that he was being accused of turning his clients into the works of art that he was known for. Specifically the extreme realism, in which his pieces were created. "What is this Seven?" Nova asked, as Perry finished reading and his coffee. It was late in the afternoon, but the road to Seven would take a bit of time. "Land of magic, trees and people with pointy ears." The young man summed up what he knew about the other country. He would be lying if he said that he didn't think about extending his thieving reputation to other countries aswell, but he ultimately decided that it would be better if he kept his business to Fiore. For the time being, at least.
As soon as everything was set, Perry was clothed in his Company uniform and Nova stretched out, they boarded an airship to make the journey go by faster. And thus, as night was falling upon the land, the airship landed into the territory of Sevenwood. Once they confirmed their identity as the West Fiore Trading Company, the duo was permitted to disembark and the airship flew back to the Company. "Are we going to walk back?" Nova asked, sceptically. "Nah, I'll give them a call to pick us up." The young man replied, as they walked forward. All of a sudden, the green crystal in Perry's pocket felt incredibly warm. He felt compelled to take it out, but he resisted the pull.
The duo found themselves in a large settlement with plentiful little lights scattered through the air and many people, or rather, elves, going about their errands or enjoying free time. They didn't get far, before being stopped by a man, who seemed to be one of the local guards. "You're with the West Fiore Trading Company?" He asked and Perry nodded. "Yes, we are. We were sent by the Company for a request of yours to help deal with a suspicious individual." The guard looked Perry and the strange creature over and motioned for them to follow him. He led them to a treehouse, that was poking out of an old looking tree. What was more interesting, was the general look of the treehouse. It seemed to be just simply growing out of the tree, not build upon it. How did they do that? There was no way that a tree just happened to sprout a treehouse, right? Perry was quite confused, but Nova didn't mind. The Khigmax was taking everything at face value, as he wasn't familiar with this new, strange country.
The trio ascended the stairs that led to the treehouse. The main doors were guarded by two guards, who saluted to the one who brought them there and let them in. There were several rooms in the treehouse, but the thief and the creature were brought to the far back one. The guard stopped in front of the door that led to that room and knocked. After a brief pause he opened the door and stepped aside. "This is going to be interesting." Perry didn't say anything, only braced himself before entering the room.
"Welcome." A soothing, yet firm voice welcomed them. The voice belonged to a female elf, who was sitting behind a large wooden desk. In the room there were numerous shelves filled with books and other trinkets, as well a large, tall mirror. As strange as the mirror was, Perry decided not to pay it any mind. Nova looked around aswell, but didn't note anything interesting. He was there for a task and that was the end of it. "I am glad that the West Fiore Trading Company has heeded our call." She said and continued. "I am Madris Olowynn. I represent the people of this city when meeting our Queen." The woman introduced herself and motioned towards Perry for him to do the same. "I am Perry Bardell and this is my friend and companion, Nova. It is our pleasure to be able to help you." The young man would lightly bow and Nova would do the same. The woman didn't betray any emotions, as she spoke up again. "I assume that you already know what the gist of the request is. The man in question has been sighted in a village approximately twenty minutes to east of here. Two of our own have disappeared and a woman from the village have disappeared so far. However, a number of fairies have disappeared aswell, but we don't know if those disappearances are necessarily connected to the artist." Perry took a mental note of everything that Madris had said. "Thank you for the information. We shall get going and investigate what's going on." The young man tipped his hat, ready to leave. "Be careful. If anyone was to ask, you may tell them that you are here on my request. But do keep that information discreet, if possible." Madris warned them and with a little bow the duo departed.
The crystal was only growing ever warmer and Perry felt his mind becoming clouded. Nova noticed the shift in his demeanor and questioned it. "Hey, Perry. You with me?" The thief rubbed his face, in a feeble attempt to make the feeling go away. "Let's get out of the city." The young man mumbled and headed in the direction he presumed was east, to be on the track to the village Madris had mentioned.
Some of the elves were giving him worried looks as he passed by, some seemed to be just simply confused. Perry blindly walked forward through the woods and Nova was keeping a close eye on him. He had no idea what had gotten into his thieving friend, but it didn't seem like Perry really knew himself. Finally the young man stopped. His head was spinning, only one thought on his mind. Get the crystal. Hold it. Give in to the power contained within. See who you really are. With a shaky hand he reached into his pocket and took hold of the crystal. He took it out, warm glow spilling out of it into the evening woods. And then, a memory that he would never forget. It felt like as if his blood started boiling, revolting against itself, turning inside out, changing him. He felt somebody shaking him, but he wasn't sure. All he knew was his own screaming voice that sounded as if he heard himself from extremely far away.
After what seemed like an eternity, his vision focused once more. Before him was a little green-ish fairy with odd eyes. She looked worried, but didn't say anything. "What in the hell happened? You just started screaming! And now you have pointy ears and odd eyes!" A familiar distorted voice bombarded him with sentences. Yes, Nova. Good, he still remembered. But wait. Pointy ears and odd eyes? Instinctively, his left hand shot up to his ear to feel it. It was just as Nova had said, pointy. Perry was hundred percent sure that he wasn't an elf. Unfortunately, he couldn't check the colour of his eyes, but he had no reason to not trust what Nova had said.
"Um, if I may explain a little bit." A tiny voice called out. It belonged to the fairy that was hovering in front of Perry. "I don't know everything, but I'll share what I know, if it helps you." She said, worry written in her eyes, as she kept her gaze on Perry. "Go ahead." The thief said, his voice surprisingly weak. "The crystal in your hand was made to keep me safe, until it made its way to the next one, who could command the winds. I think it was because some of the Ventoris family married to humans and thus part of the lineage wasn't completely elven." The fairy said and Perry struggled to stomach the information dump. "It seems that the elven blood in you is surprisingly strong, so once you connected to the crystal that housed me, you released me and your elven lineage." The fairy continued, making Perry's head and emotions spin. "The moment I was released by you, I was bound to you. The sign of our contract are our eyes. You have a paler right eye, I have a paler left eye. That's all I can tell you." Perry only stared at the little fairy in disbelief. Did his parents know about all this? They had to. Otherwise they wouldn't have made it a point to keep him away from the box for his whole life.
Perry was still far from processing the information that the fairy told him, but Nova invaded his thoughts. "Hey. I hear somebody coming from the direction of the village. What do you want to do?" Oh, right. They still had a task to fulfill. The young man rubbed his face with his hands, trying to think of something. "Fairy, get into a pocket. Nova, get ready. I will disguise myself as... myself and we will see what happens from there. I already have a plan for the artist, so don't worry about that." Perry divided tasks around and the fairy slightly pouted. "My name's Willow. Jerk." She said her name and flew into one of Perry's pockets. The thief was at a loss. What else was he supposed to call her when he didn't know her name?
It felt incredibly strange casting a glamour onto himself of himself. The pointy ears and odd eyes disappeared and were replaced by an illusion of what Perry looked like mere minutes ago. He just had to act natural, like nothing had happened. No screaming, no turning into elves, no contract bonding. Nothing. The crystal was still in his hand and he put it away into the pocket in which Willow wasn't. He took a deep breath and started to walk forward, to not seem as suspicious.
Just as Nova had said, a silhouette of a person appeared ahead of them. It seemed to be a man, carrying a bunch of different items with him. They walked close enough to each other to properly meet. "Greetings!" The man greeted them. The items he had with him were a bunch of leather bags, folded up easel and some blank canvas. An artist. Was that the same artist they were after? "Hello. Putting the beauty of Sevenwood onto the canvas?" Perry asked amused, hoping to spark a conversation. His idea was to become a client himself and catch him in the act. The man laughed. "I am. Both the nature and the people." He said and stopped to talk. Perry and Nova did the same, with Nova keeping his eyes out for anything suspicious. "What's your name, if I may ask?" Perry tried his luck. "I am Hyde Moonflare. A travelling artist. At your service." Perry was hoping that the man was telling the truth and it wasn't just some decoy. The young man would fake a gasp. "THAT Hyde Moonflare? The one who creates those beautiful masterpieces?" It seemed that tickling the artist's ego worked.
"Yes, I am that Hyde Moonflare. I am glad to see a fan of mine this far out of Fiore." The artist laughed. "So you like my pieces?" Perry nodded excitedly, making his hat almost fall off of his head. "They're absolutely stunning. They encompass the true essence of whatever you decide to paint or sculpt or draw. Moreover, you can do flawlessly so many different kinds of art. Most of the time, artists just keep to a single artform. You can just simply do them all!" Perry said, making himself go out of breath. Hyde seemed to be most pleased with the praise he was given. He seemed to be basking in it. "I can see that you know your art, young man. May I ask for your name? I would like to make a piece, just for you. As a thanks for your kind words and support." That was exactly what Perry wanted. "Hook, line and sinker." And Nova was thinking the same. Perry feigned disbelief and agreed to having a piece of art done by Hyde.
Hyde spoke about a beautiful stream, that he saw not too far from where they were and decided that it would make for a gorgeous backdrop for Perry's piece. As they made their way to the place, the thief and the artist talked about various things. Nova accompanied Perry, still keeping his eyes peeled for anything. Once they made it to the stream, Hyde showed a rock, upon which Perry was supposed to sit. The night was setting in and the forest was illuminated by fairies and fireflies. It gave the woods a surreal feeling that probably only those, who were not used to the beauty, were susceptible to.
The artist prepared his easel and canvas and other equipment, such as brushes and paints, as Perry was getting into position. The young man sat on the designated rock and put his cape next to him, to ensure it wouldn't fall into the water. "Please, have your friend sit next to you. I would like to incorporate both of you in this piece." Fair enough. Perry motioned for Nova to join him and he sat on the ground next to him. Now all they needed to do, was to see what he would do, if he would do anything.
Hyde Moonflare was fiddling around with his paints, as he started to mumble something. Perry didn't pay it any mind, as he attributed the mumbling to just hardships with uncooperating paints. However, after a few moments the mumbling grew slightly louder and Willow poked her head out of Perry's pocket. The young man yawned, waiting for the artist to finally begin painting. He was still mumbling and fiddling with the paints, making the thief shift nervously. Wouldn't an artist let their client know that they were working on opening the paints? "Mister Moonflare? Do you need help with those paints?" Perry called out, but he got no response, only the mumbling. It was getting rather disturbing and Perry wanted to get up and talked with the man face to face, but he found himself unable to move.
The travelling artist appeared from behind the canvas, one of the paint bottles in his hands and a devilish grin on his face, as he mumbled, or rather, chanted something. At that point, Perry couldn't move a muscle and it seemed that neither could Nova. "Damn. He paralyzed us, somehow. I think we have found our guy, though." Perry had to agree with that. But what could they do? Neither him or Nova could move. Thankfully, he had an answer in his pocket.
Willow noticed something wrong with the person in whose pocket she was and after she noticed the artist's expression, she was sure that she had to do something. If there was anything that fairies were exceptional at, it was pulling pranks and having fun. The little fairy flew out, but made sure to keep out of the artist's general vision, as much as she could. She sneaked to Hyde from his behind and with all her might, she knocked the bottle of paint he was holding, upwards. The bottle hit him on his chin, breaking his concentration and the mysterious chanting. "What the-?!" Hyde asked, confused why he was interrupted. Willow, in the meantime, caused havoc in the rest of his artistic supplies, while discovering a tincture that seemed to be able to reverse the effects of the chanting. The artist ran back to the canvas, to discover that it was completely ransacked.
The tincture wasn't in the lightest vial that Willow had to ever carry, but it still wore her out. She was asleep in a crystal for a long time, after all. Willow made it back to Perry and Nova, as Hyde was trying to locate the source of the mischief. She set it on Perry's lap and opened it. She then tilted the vial and the murky liquid that was inside spilled out. Willow then dipped her hands into the substance and tried to bring Perry's body back to its senses. As soon as he could move his hands, he rubbed the tincture on himself and Willow took care of the Khigmax.
By the time the artist noticed that his subjects have escaped his spell's hold, it was too late. Nova wrapped his handy appendages onto his body, not giving him any chance to escape. "Thank you for cooperating with us, mister Moonflare." Perry said. "This wasn't supposed to happen." The man growled in defeat. That was where his career would end. Sadly, they didn't find the disappeared victims, but Perry hoped that the culprit himself would suffice. "And thank you, Willow." The young man would smile at the little fairy, who pouted again. Though this time the pout seemed more playful, rather than an actual pout.