Matronishin: Rose of Alfheim

Recorded: April 26, 2014
Characters: Dorna (NPC), Eir, Falaman (NPC), Loki
Location: Alfheim - Falaman's Exotic Garden
Summary: Loki and Eir match wits with a riddlemaster who holds the second ingredient to the cure.


Eir's instructions state that the second ingredient can be found on Alfheim: A land of great beauty and springtime warmth. The Matron Healer and Loki are being sent to a small cottage on the border of a massive herbal garden. Through the picket fence and draped topiary that border its land, one can clearly see flowers the likes of which have never bloomed anywhere else in the cosmos. Despite the seriousness of their task, Dorna can't help but smile in amazement as she stands at the edge of the property. "To tend such a garden… This Falaman must be a great healer."

Loki is dressed in his casual armor so it won't be too heavy for him. He doesn't tolerate heat very well, being a Jotun, so he wants to be protected yet not baking. Riding horseback, he brings his noble steed to a safe place and dismounts, offering a hand to Dorna. "He is, indeed. It is very impressive. Perhaps he could provide you with information on how to grow such a garden of your own. It would be of great benefit." His green eyes scan the area for any hidden dangers, keeping one hand close to his hip where his dagger is sheathed.

Dorna rests a hand on the gate and pushes through with caution. "It would be worth asking, surely," she comments as she approaches the door and knocks. Within moments, the handle moves and door parts from the frame, but the only creature standing in the cottage entrance is a large, calico-colored cat with a pair of black and orange wings resting against its back. The dog-sized feline glances casually at the two Asgardians, blocking the doorway with its bulk as if it expects some sort of explanation.

Loki offers a bow to the creature. "Greetings. I am Prince Loki Odinson of Asgard. A terrible sickness has befallen our people and we require the assistance of Falaman to obtain a few samples of Matronishin. Would you be so kind as to assist us, noble feline?"

The cat's tail flicks as slowly as it blinks while considering Loki's words. After an unnecessarily long moment, it steps outside and moves towards a garden path, letting off a deep-throated "Mroooooow" as it walks past the Asgardians.

"I… suppose we should follow it," Dorna comments with an air of confusion.

"Indeed," Loki says, falling into step after it. "I did not know the Cat Elves lived among the Ljosalfar. Be alert, however. There are many unsavory creatures lurking among this forest. You cannot always see them, but they can see you."

The garden may as well be a forest with how well it covers the fenced property. There are rows of flowers and bushes growing in various sizes. Some areas have a sweet smell while others are pungent. The winged cat guides the visitors along the rows with a casual stride, mewling every once in a while as if it were calling someone.

"I'm COMING, you fussy feline!" The high-pitched, feminine voice comes from behind a row of berry bushes. The bushes part and out steps an Elf the size of an Asgardian child. She's clearly an adult, wearing a bikini fashioned out of leaves and twigs, with only a satchel of supplies as an accessory. Falaman places a hand on her bare hip and peers at Loki and Dorna with a mischievous smirk. "Visitors, hmm? Do what do I owe the pleasure?"

Loki bows to her, then drops to one knee and places his arm across his chest. "Forgive our intrusion, wise one. I am Prince Loki of Asagard. A terrible plague has befallen our peoplea and we require Matronish as part of the cure. Without your help, Asgard will certainly perish."

The Cat Elf scritches her wild head of orange and black hair. For good measure, she scritches the winged cat's head as well, making them both appear thoughtful at Loki's request. "Hmmmmm. Matronishin? Never heard of it." She turns and climbs onto the cat's back, reclining between its wings as it turns to continue down the path.

Dorna looks dumbfounded. "But… Eir said that Falaman is the keeper of this rose," she mutters to Loki.

Loki rises to his feet, frowning. "What do you mean you've never heard of them? Could you possibly know it by another name?" He looks to Dorna to see if she has any ideas. "Our need is dire. The Queen is ill and could possibly perish soon without the cure."

Falaman crosses her ankles on the back of her cat's head and taps her chin mischievously. "Oh, the queen is ill," she trills, "so sad. Let me rephrase that. I've heard of Matronishin, but I'm not going to give you any." The impish woman grins cutely and waves her cat's tail from her upside-down recline while the feline wanders around a topiary corner.

Loki has to try very hard to maintain his perfectly neutral face so that not even an eyebrow twitches. "May I ask why, Falaman? We do not expect that you just give us some, we are well prepared to purchase it from you. " He follows the elf and cat around the corner, deftly stepping so he doesn't tread on anything important. "What do you want in exchange for it?"

Falaman's vast garden of rare plants is a healer's dream within Alfheim, but the gardener is proving difficult to deal with. The child-sized Cat Elf continues to lounge on the back of her dog-sized calico despite the serious nature of Loki's quest. The winged cat is wandering through sections of the garden, putting distance between the group and the cottage at the edge of the property. Not for any particular reason, mind you, as cats will wander as they please. The scantily-clad elf seems as catty as her mount, passively rubbing her chin while watching the clouds pass overhead. "Nothing you have if you're asking me that question." Falaman chuckles and plucks a handful of ripe berries from a bush in passing. "Who sent you to me unarmed by wit? That person must want your quest to fail."

Dorna's shoulders fall with a sigh and she looks at the scroll she carries. "I don't understand. This was to be the simple herb to retrieve. One from the realm that is an ally to Asgard? How can you make light in such a dire situation?" She looks around, uncertain as to which of the plants in the garden might be the one they're looking for.

It seems Eir hasn't been far behind. Slower, due to coming down ill herself, but no less pushing through it. The Elder, today, is dressed in flowing white robes with a green and silver trim. More towards her station as Royal Healer while traveling and Healing Goddess.

"Forgive an old woman for failing to mention your nature, Falaman." Eir's voice raises from behind the group as she nears, drifting closer to take a place next to Loki if he allows. "Dorna, you may return and continue distilling for now. Thank you."

"I was not sent unarmed by wit, simply sent with a heavy heart knowing that my mother will die without the cure created from these herbs. I am prepared to do what you wish for the herbs. Name your terms. If they are within reason, they will be carried out and you will give us samples of the herbs in exchange."

Loki looks to his side and frowns. "You should not be here, Eir, you should be resting."

The calico stops and glances over its shoulder. "Ohhhh, it's Eir," Falaman sings as she turns over and sits up. "Lovely as ever, but definitely getting on in years if you mean to send this kid and his nursemaid to fetch your ingredients without knowledge of the way things are done around here…" She waves cutely to Dorna, who offers the Cat Elf a disdainful look before turning to head back the way she came.

"By your leave," the Matron Healer mutters to Eir with a polite curtsy.

"Oh, your mother's dying," Falaman coos and holds her hands to her bosom. "Is your father dying, too? Your neighbors, I assume? The flora knows that sacrifice quite well, yet gives so selflessly so that fauna might live. What kind of gardener would I be if I asked them to give without a far better reason than 'because someone is going to die.'" She giggles like a child and leans back to cover herself with her cat's wings.

"Travel well and swift, Dorna." Eir offers to the Matron, letting her leave. Over to Loki, she gives a small shake of her head. "There is no time with lives in the balance." Of course, by nature, she's more worried about the health of the population and their Queen than her own.

"Falaman, enough of your nonsense." Eir steps forward—though her skin is pale. The journey didn't do her any favors in her health, certainly. "Ask it." No, Eir isn't in a mind to indulge Falaman in games today.

Loki frowns. "Without a cure, it means the fall of Asgard. Without the benefit of Asgard, you will soon be overrun by Trolls, dragons, giants and any other beast that wishes to invade your home. My mother will die. My brother may as well." And though he knows Odin hasn't become ill, he says, "The Allfather will also perish as well as Heimdall and every other Asgardian citizen. We ask respectfully the use of the plant that does not need to be uprooted and destroyed in order to give us what we need." He looks to Eir and then back to Falaman. "While Eir is too ill to carry out your demands, I will do whatever is necessary."

Falaman tsks at Eir's tone. "Oh, you're no fun. I'm going to have to ask three." She holds up three of her tiny fingers, then looks at Loki with that same, catty smirk. "You are so cute when you're flustered. I'll take pity on you and provide an explanation. If you wish the fruit of my labor, you must play my game. I will tell you three riddles, and if you fail to solve even one, my garden and I will disappear before your very eyes." She looks at Eir with an arched brow. "Honestly, Eir, where did you get this one? Not a playful bone in his body."

"It is a bad day for all of us." Not that it offers much explanation, but Eir's tone is briefly tired. "We really should catch up over that tea I owe you sometime." Eir's lips quirk with a little bit of amusement as Falaman explains her game.

Loki rolls his eyes skyward and off to the side. "Oh, do not underestimate me, dear gardener. Tell us your riddles so that we may complete your task and be on our way with the plant." He is very good at throwing people off his trail. He has her thinking he is no fun.

Falaman nods eagerly. "I do have new blends you'll be dying to try. Let's hope you solve my riddles so you do not die before you get the chance!" She kicks her cat in the rump and it spreads its orange and black wings with a leap. The calico glides towards the roof of the cottage and its mistress flips from its back to perch on the edge of a wooden workbench. "An easy one: A head but no body, a heart but no blood. Just leaves and no branches, I grow without wood."

For a long moment, Eir is quiet, running possible answers through her head. A small glance to Loki is given before she answers: "Lettuce."

Loki nods in agreement. "Indeed. It is Lettuce."

Falaman claps her tiny hands together. "Like a champion! But that was only round one. Two more, or your hopes will be dashed in the blink of an eye." She waves her hands slowly for dramatic effect, then holds one finger forward. "I run but never walk, my mouth will never talk, in my bed I'll never sleep, and yet my head will never weep." She balls her fists and makes crying motions along the sides of her cheeks.

Eir considers the riddle for a moment, though none of the answers in her head seem to really fit. At least none she's confident in, glancing aside to Loki curiously.

Loki makes a big deal out of looking as though he is deep in thought or that the riddle was even at all difficult. Rubbing his forehead, he squints and emits a sigh of frustration. He then looks up from the ground and lifts a finger. "Is it…a river?" Let her think she is at all stumping them and perhaps the last one won't be difficult either and they can be on their way.

Falaman chuckles with glee, swinging her legs off the edge of the workbench. "So he can think for himself! How precious. Now I see why you sent him, Eir. But are you sure you want to put the hope of your people on his brain-shoulders? My next riddle is for all or nothing."

Eir's lips quirk a little in some quiet amusement, but she steps closer to Loki, her hand lightly touching his arm in a small gesture of affection. "You underestimate him, my very old friend. Ask it."

Loki is careful not to show too much affection just yet, so they can get what they need from the Elf. He looks over to her and smiles faintly. "Yes, we have little choice. Speak your riddle, so that we may put this to an end."

Falaman is nothing if not observant. Her mischievous grin spreads as she notes Eir's touch. "Ahhhh, I see. Well, let's see if your stable boy truly has the brains to go with the looks." She winks at Loki, then hops up on her table and spreads her fingers wide.

"Given to man in his earliest breath! Attends him in birth; awaits him in death. Presides over happiness, honor, and health. Is the prop of a house, and the end of his wealth. No loss to the soldier or seaman—They roam. But woe to the wretch who expels it from home!" Falaman crouches and shakes her tiny fist for dramatic effect, then looks expectantly between the two Asgardians.

Yes, that one confuses Eir a little, though she isn't of full mind at the moment either. Weak and sick doesn't help her. Her lips press thin in deep thought, her eyes watching Loki. Everything rests on his answer, after all.

Loki taps his chin for a moment, then looks over at Eir. He takes her hand and grins wickedly at the elf. "Did anyone ever tell you that I am the God of Mischief? Your riddles are but childsplay. I believe the answer you are seeking is The Letter H. I believe we have completed our end of the bargain. Now it is time to complete yours."

Falaman throws her hands up and a shower of rose petals magically fills the atmosphere. "Yaaaaaay, the day is saved!" She giggles with excitement and leaps off the table, disappearing before she touches the ground. The garden is eerily silent with her absence, save for a bored meow from the perching calico.

Eir smiles over to Loki as her hand is taken, stepping just that small measure closer to him. Though more to use him to help keep herself upright- if subtly. She doesn't seem bothered when Falaman disappears.

Loki tenses just slightly when the elf disappears, but doesn't say anything about it just yet. "If you need to be seated, please do so. You should not have come, we were not in any danger. Dorna was quite able to handle it. Do not risk your health for such things. The risks are much too dire."

"Dorna has not dealt with Falaman before. I have, on multiple occasions. She is difficult, if not dangerous, if you are unfamiliar. I sent you ill prepared." Eir shakes her head. "This is not about my health, but that of everyone else. Mine is a risk worth making if it helps the rest."

The winged calico lands in front of Eir and Loki with the speed of a silent rock. From her sideways seating on its back, Falaman giggles at Eir and holds up a bouquet of white roses whose petals glow with a heavenly light. Even though the rose buds are closed, the light of its petals and their healing aura radiate through the sepal. "Eir, you have got to tell me where I can get one of him. He's fun! Or maybe you could let me borrow him for a few days… I promise I won't break him." She coos and winks at Loki.

Loki blinks. "Erm, perhaps when the crisis is over we will visit again. You will certainly be rewarded for your generosity, Falaman. Looking to Eir, he shakes his head. "If you perish, then all is lost. I am able to handle a few riddles. You are certainly not traveling to Muspelheim. I may have to request that Thor and Bill handle that particular quest, but I am still prepared to go myself."

If Loki doesn't take the flowers, Eir will. She chuckles softly, "I will visit you again soon, Falaman. We have much to catch up on. I have a few brews of my own you must try." Yes, she's not going to answer on 'pimping Loki'. She smiles at Loki, "I know."

"Do, do, do," Falaman sings in response to their word of a future visit. "I have some special herbs that will separate your mind from your body in ways you think only possible in death. They are exquisite." Once the flowers are taken, she stretches out on her cat's back and waves to them both. "Let me know how it turns out! Or I suppose I'll know if I never see you again…" The calico turns to roam the garden path.

"Thank you, but I've already died once. I have no intentions of doing it again. I am a frost giant, so I can only assume from the fact that I have not yet become ill even after being in close proximity to those who are that I am immune. Thank you for your assistance, Falaman. If you ever require assistance, you need only ask." He gives a princely bow to her and lifts a hand as she takes off down the path. "Shall we return, then?" Loki asks, looping an arm around Eir's waist and moving toward where the horse is tied.

With his arm around her waist, Eir leans a little more against the Prince. Though she still tries to mask her weakness best she can in light of the situation. "Yes, please."

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