Somewhere in dreaming, you find yourself in a wood—something magic, or fairytale, you think. There's a village full of all sorts of odd shops and houses, set into giant, hollowed-out mushrooms, or built around networks of thick roots. Despite the cover of the huge forest, the area is lit with the glow of stores and a faintly golden-green light, as well as the odd lantern hanging from a branch or post. The stores themselves are as varied as in any other city or town, but much, much stranger. You pass a coffee shop, a pawn shop, a post office—all of which would be fairly normal except for the odd detail here and there, such as owls sorting out the mail, or an ancient chest which seems to be spewing smoke from under its lid, or a frothy latte that is bright blue and seems to make the drinker levitate for short periods of time. Meanwhile there are places you could never hope to find in the waking world: a store that claims to sell dreams, a moon-cheese shop, a window advertising demon-disposal services...
There's a wide assortment of people here too, running errands, shopping, haggling with salespeople. Some of them are bizarre creatures that look straight out of storybooks, with pointed ears and gangly limbs and hair like bird's nests, while others look like normal, everyday people you'd see in the street. Animals walk past in waistcoats and frocks; you turn and gape as a snail the size of a small house glides serenely by.
But what draws your eye eventually is a shop just beside a coffee joint. The shop appears to be set inside a tree, a wide, towering structure that makes you think of a baobab, or a sequoia. It's immense, and, you feel, very old, but maybe not as old as some other trees in this forest. Still, it feels special. You peer up into the branches, trying to gauge its height, but the leaves grow too thickly to provide any indication. If this tree is the entire store, you think in quiet awe, it positively dwarfs the other shops by comparison.
As you come closer, making your way over tree roots and cobblestones, you notice that the shop itself doesn't seem to have a nameplate. The windows are large and inviting, though, and you can make out bright colors and shelves inside through the dappled shadows. You shrug and walk inside to the jingle and clank of bells against glass.
Your first thought is that of a library. There are shelves everywhere that look as though they've been carved from the tree itself, and some drapings of colorful fabric here and there create a maze-like effect. There's a counter at the front, with an antique silver cash register, but the shop seems to be empty except for yourself. You're about to turn and leave, when the shelves catch your eye again—or rather, what's on the shelves. "Whoa," you say breathlessly.
It's a paint shop. There are countless paint buckets crammed in the shelves, in pints and quarts and gallons, as well as little glass bottles no longer than your finger. They're all clear to display their contents. And the paints themselves...
They're sorted out in all colors imaginable. The shelf nearest to you is all red paint—orangey reds and purpley reds, candy and coral and neon. Reds so light that they look peachy-pink, and so deep they look like blackened blood. Shelves of blue paint, electric blue, deep-sea blue. Vermilion, saffron, chartreuse, indigo, amethyst... colors you don't know the names for, colors you didn't even know existed.
And it isn't only color. You approach another shelf with a white like angel wings and a black like sticky tar. Gray and grey paint. A bucket that seems to be full of emptiness.
The next shelf over seems entirely devoted to skies: sunset and night colors, stormy teal and cloudy pale. You pick up a bucket of deep blue-black. The liquid sloshes thickly before settling; you watch, mesmerized, as the swirls sparkle into constellations and distant stars.
You going to buy that, krolik?" a voice wheezes softly. You gasp and look up in its direction.
Sitting on top of a shelf is a canine—a fox, maybe, or a maned wolf. She could have been sitting there all this time, watching you, and you never would have noticed. Her green eyes are kind, though, if a little narrowed and sly.
No," you say. "I mean, it's beautiful, but I don't have any money. And it's guest, not krolik.
Her smile widens. "I wasn't calling you by name. 'Krolik' means rabbit." Her voice is like a honeyed gate hinge, rusty and sweet at the same time, with a lilting sing-song note to it. She rests her chin on her upraised palms and continues idly. "For that bucket of paint, I don't have to take money. You could give me, oooh... half a day's worth of stories, an old family recipe. A childhood memory you've already forgotten.
You shake your head and put the can of paint back. Kind eyes or not, you don't like the sound of her taking a memory, whatever that means.
No dice, huh?" the fox says, with an amused "hm!" of a laugh.
Sorry, but I don't even know your name," you say.
Oh, no, I'm afraid names won't help you here. But if it makes you feel any better, you can call me Iggy." Call her Iggy. As in, that wasn't necessarily her real name.
With a sudden swirl of skirts and fabric, the fox swings down from her perch in front of you, making you flinch. She's a good foot taller than you, not counting the height her wild red hair adds. "I know what," she says with a breathy whuff, "I'll give you a tour! Business is awful slow these days and I could use some company to whittle the time away.
Would I have to pay for that, too?" you ask, a trifle sarcastically. Iggy's green eyes flash. "You're getting smart, little rabbit. Nope, this'll cost nothing but a little of your time and interest." She whistles gently through her grinning teeth. "Come along, then, let's not wait for the paint to dry.
With a short bark of a laugh at her own joke, she turns smartly on her heel and sashays through the shelves and hanging cloth. After a pause and a glance back out the window, you warily follow her into the shop.
The paint shop itself takes up two floors within the tree, which are connected by a spiral staircase carved from the contours of the wood. It is not a hardware store, where people can buy paints for their houses (although some do), and neither is it an art store where artists can buy supplies (although some do). Iggy is vague on the exact purpose or function of the paints. However, if you can convince her she might tell you stories of some previous customers in her shop, such as of the girl who wanted to fly like a bird, or an angel, and painted white wings onto her back which then feathered and broke off into real wings; or the young boy who killed the nightmares in his home by splashing buckets of foggy grey paint over them, whereupon they dissolved and vanished into the morning sunlight. Not everyone can have such fantastical things happen to them, true—but the paints' effects, adds Iggy, are not in what she puts into them but in the person who uses them. In this manner Iggy attracts all sorts of customers, from curious tourists to frequent regulars, and she just rakes in the money and smiles.
is much larger than it has any right to be, and is most likely tricked to extend beyond the available space presented by the tree. A stark contrast from the bright and lantern-lit shop, it is dark, cavernous, and musty, and the only light comes from a few feeble orbs that Iggy can barely be bothered to keep lit. Everything is sealed in boxes with no discernible labels—Iggy stores not only surplus cans of paint here, but also trinkets, artifacts, and junk that she has won, bought, or traded for over the years. It's very possible that her memory is so keen as to remember exactly where she's packaged her wares in the vast maze of boxes, to find at a moment's notice if she must, or perhaps she's marked the boxes in a way that is invisible to other people. To be sure, there are priceless treasures hidden in the storeroom, but—a fair warning. Any other person trying to find something in the storeroom could not only spent a lifetime looking for it, but may also be in danger of losing their way in the labyrinth itself. There's no telling what might have eaten its way through the packaging over the long, long years.
What Iggy calls the boiler room
is scarcely more than a generous closet much taller than it is wide. Most of the floor space is taken up by a vast cauldron which is used for all paints, while the walls chiefly consist of shelves and recesses for various ingredients and old books. The ingredients have a mind-boggling range from dried roots to forgotten toys, moonlit grasses to ground devil bones, sweetheart's tears to late-night chills. Meanwhile, sensitive herbs and other such items are kept in time bubbles to slow their decay, so that Iggy's outings for new supplies can be kept to a minimum, and the room itself is enforced with fire-proof spells to avoid accidents. Meanwhile, smoke travels up and gradually escapes through channels hidden high in the tree's branches, where the brightly-colored plumes can be easily missed above the fog and foliage of the wood. In short, Iggy has managed to refine her paint-making process with minimal (if any) damage to the living tree, while she still has the time to roam for days on end without worrying about restocking her supplies.
Of course, Iggy doesn't live in the store itself. A long way up through the hollows of the tree and you'll come across a trapdoor of sorts that leads to an interlocking series of limbs and branches. Here roosts Iggy's chicken-legged hut
, which she bought from Doomy some years ago, and nearby a platform spanning several limbs houses a small vegetable garden, which is nourished by the sunlight filtering through the leaves. On whim Iggy also nailed a swing from one of the higher branches, and while she herself doesn't use it often, Hivy likes to sneak up and watch the moon rise from it.
The hut itself is capable of flight and can run long distances without tiring, so Iggy tends to use it for extended journeys outside of the town's limits. The furnishings inside are comfortable and warm, and locked in place with spells or nails so that the hut's movements don't send furniture flying everywhere. Also, the hut only moves and opens its doors upon Iggy's command; anyone else trying to break into it will find themselves resolutely ignored, if not otherwise squashed under a giant chicken foot.
Age: ??? (claims thirties)
Residence: otherworld / Shukumei
Talents: witchcraft, bargaining
apples, chili, money, traveling, discount fabrics, gardening, artists, fancy hats, grapes
I don't like.
cell phones, mages, deserts, crows, snakes, electronics, spoiled brats, the underground, demons
Witchery is merely a word for what we are all capable of. - Charles de Lint
If you ask the wood's people about Iggy you will have mixed yet consistent responses: clever, fickle, benign, bad-tempered, greedy, graceful, accident-prone, dangerous. She is often the trickster, although few remember that Iggy herself has been tricked many a time, and while she may be vain and even vengeful, she is rarely malicious. Ask some of the older folk, although there are precious few who can boast longer years than her, and they'll also be able to tell you about Ignatia when she was younger—a sharp-tongued, willful fox who with a penchant for getting into scrapes, often in pursuit of riches. Rumor says she was once engaged to marry a Japanese crane, and broke off the engagement in a squabble over dinner; others insist she was married to a huge black cat, who after a whole summer returned to his home either in Siberia or the below. Some people also suspect that Iggy fought in some great war long ago—not one between good and evil, but rather (less famously, but no less significantly) between the old world and the machine.
For all these stories surrounding her, Iggy has never given any direct answers. If she was once married, she currently lives quite happily alone in her tree-shop; if she was once a soldier in a war, she never responds with violence in her daily life. Sometimes for a sufficient price Iggy will offer to tell a story from her book, but even this is always accompanied by a disclaimer: "I'm a wonderful liar. Promise you won't believe a single word.
oh hai dere this is still under construction :D
awmg Tawreh is so awesome~ so awesome! I'm going to make her some cookies once I figure out where she lives. ^3^
link me back I'll love you forever~
50 x 50
80 x 32