There's something gross on your face.
There's something gross on your face that is sending you rapidly vacillating between a mild state of panic and really wanting to punch something. And you never want to punch something! You might be a goddamn battle tank, but you're the kind of tank that distracts the big scary monster with your sexy charm (see: deadly magic); not the kind of tank who has a tendency for fistfights. Why do that kind of thing anyway when you can use a magical blunderbuss+3? You can think of literally no scenarios where your knuckles would be better to use than your gun.
Except right now, when you could so easily, so EASILY jump off Halley and punch that peasant over there in the...
Whoa! Whoa, hold up Jade! Punching is bad! That farmer is probably minding her own business, farming like, wheat or something. Or wait, since it's early spring, maybe she's plowing? Preparing the fields? You make a mental note to learn more about farming, since that's probably a good thing to know when you start faking you're an earth witch again. Which is basically all the time. Fuck your stupid, genetic powers! You should just RIP YOUR FAMILY TO SHREDS- No, no, no! That is quite possibly the largest overreaction in the history of overreactions!
You try to run your fingers along the cut on your left cheek, but like before, you aren't able to touch it. Your hand basically hits a force field generated from the wound, and you can't press in any further than an inch above your skin. Whatever this thing is, it's powerful. Powerful enough to stop even a magically-inclined host from examining it.
You have got to get to Rose's and get this sorted out. Really soon too. You wonder how many peasants you could take out in a fit of rage. Probably like, twenty. At least.
You urge Halley along the dusty stone path with your heels, being very careful not to kick too hard. What the heck kind of curse is this? This is definitely the opposite of how you wanted your dungeoneering day trip to go down. Having to run out and escape halfway through the place really puts a damper on your adventuring spirit. What are you going to do with the picnic basket you packed for a nice afternoon lunch in the cursed abandoned temple of ancient horrorterrors?
Silly question, the answer is of course, PUNCH THE BASKET INTO OBLIVION!! You turn around, and with a fierce ferocity befitting your wolf-kin, smack the picnic basket off of Halley's rear. Sandwiches and strawberries fly into the air, and there's a moment of sinking regret as you watch the pretty birdseed smorgasbord Dave prepared for you scatter everywhere. Even though you don't really like birdseed-ish things and don't know why the hell Dave keeps packing you these, it still makes you sad as you watch the discarded picnic basket hit the cobbled road with a rattling thud. Okay, uh, that was a terrible decision you just made. You should probably... hurry it up. That picnic basket could have been a peasant's head!
You spur Halley into a bouncy trot towards the town. The crumbly, centenarian walls marking the borders of farmland begin to mesh and meld together, forming something of a boundary for the sleepy civilization of Cammor. Well, sleepy is a gentle way to put it, it's only sleepy because Cammor is headquarters to a silly conglomerate of thieves who like to pick on people who go out after ten at night. And people who have petty feuds with them. And just random people. The Rouges actually bother everyone, even themselves. Everyone who lives there is either a thief or an alchemist, it's ridiculous. Gosh, what a shitty town.
But it makes sense why Rose Lalonde, magical curse extraordinaire, wants to hole up in the place. From what you can tell, she makes a KILLING off of curing all the people who got magically poisoned, cursed, burned, and afflicted with genital boils by The Rouges' famous bolts. She sure knows how to overcharge.
You're absolutely positive she'll be able to cure this thing on your face. She didn't go to Seer Seminary for kicks and grins, after all!
Halley trots over a hill, takes a left at the fork, and there it is. Nestled in the valley between two forested slopes: The Southern Solemn Gates of Cammor.
They're oxidized copper with palmed smears of bright red paint, a callback to your absolutely least favorite patron god. Why does LITERALLY everything involving you have to be green? And death-y??? That is just NO FAIR AT ALL, you should just kick the gates down, punch a hole through the iron defenses, and blunderbuss the hell out of the guards to release your rage!
Ha, funny joke, Jade! Ha, ha. You nervously laugh out loud to try to ease some of that weird tension away, but the only thing that happens is the lone guard staffing the top of the gate gives you a look like you're carrying the plague. Which, well, you might be. Not entirely positive on that one yet. You wave up to him to let him know you're going in, and he nods back. Wow, that's sure irresponsible. Letting girls with strange oozing cuts on their face into a crowded town? You resist the urge to toss something at him while yelling 'you're shit at your job, suckass!' Never look a gift-packbeast in the mouth, after all! Even when you're filled with a distressing amount of homicidal rage and confusion.
You re-situate your pack over your shoulder and hop off Halley. You give him a pat on the snout, and his beady eyes look up longingly at you, concerned. Oh, don't worry Halley! You would never be able to rage at such a cute dog with such intense eyebrows! You only wish your eyebrows were that cool.
You leave him to wander the wilds with his other dog kin, or whatever the heck he does, you never figured that out, and enter the town. The entrance for small groups is on the left of the gate, situated kind of off the path, so a little dirt trail from plenty of pedestrians leads to the round door covered in stylized copper engravings of The Lord. You're supposed to tap the tip of the doorframe three times as you pass under it, but you can't be bothered. You've met the guy, and you honestly don't think he pays enough attention to mortal matters (outside of judging souls and forcing artists to draw him murals of people gently embracing) to care.
You enter the Rain District, named as such because of the literally awful noise it makes when it rains over the thin copper roofs. Thankfully, it's pretty dry out, otherwise you'd have to PUNCH- uh, a soft pillow. Yes. Soft things. No punching.
Rose's place is right on the outskirts of the district, a sturdy little building with long purple cloths draping down under the ribbed awning. It's a pretty strategic place to be with one side completely blocked off by the city wall, which is good because of all the people she manages to insult. If she wasn't such a crafty broad, and if Dave wasn't around, she'd be in some real trouble with The Rouges!
Speaking of which, looks like he's in his usual place.
"Sup, Jade." He cringes, his head drawing back. "What the hell's on your-"
It wells up in you before you can stop it, a terrible urge to yell and scream and punch. It takes all you have to not tackle him violently to the floor, and you only succeed at that because you know Dave is one swiftly trained douchebag knight and would probably sidestep you. But focusing all your energy on restraining yourself physically leaves your mouthhole wide open!
"Dave Strider! You broke my heart, you..." You fumble for an insult. "... bird... seed... fucker!"
You smack your hands over your mouth as the rage fades away. Oh no! You're totally turning red right now, you can feel it.
"You know it, stick my dick in birdseed all the time. Just love those little nutritious grains around my big human schlong." He resumes a neutral expression. "Okay, also, what? Thought we were over that little incident."
You sigh, looking at the ground. "Sorry Dave, I didn't mean to say that. I think I got cursed with some kind of anger magic. I need Rose to take a look at it..." You give a guilty smile up at him, trying to emulate Halley's best puppy eyes. That always used to work on Dave. "Let me in?"
"You're supposed to mail ahead for this shit you know, reserve an appointment and all that stuff." He reaches around, grabs the hidden entry flap of the curtain. "Guess I could make an exception for you. Only because you're the best aviculture hobbyist I've ever had the pleasure of being kept by."
You turn your head to him, stick out your tongue, and say, "Asshole."
"Anger magic again?"
"No, that was from my heart!"
You walk into the tent as Dave lets the flap fall back down. It's dark inside, Rose likes to keep it ambient and spooky. You figure it's because she's kind of bad at being ambient and spooky so she needs the environment to make up for it. Your eyes quickly adjust in the low light, seeing Rose cross-legged at a square table near the floor. Orange pillows heap up behind her, made slightly red and green and white by the symbolic Death Orbs she uses to... Um... Symbolize stuff? You never really knew what those things were for. To look all mystical maybe.
She gestures towards you, grinning. "Hello Jade, I've garnered from my peculiar eavesdropping abilities that you've got quite the interesting curse placed on you. I'd love to take a look."
You cross your arms. "Do I get a BFF discount?"
"No." She tilts her head. "I don't know why you keep asking this."
You groan, sit down across from her. You've got to admit, Rose keeps her pillows in tip-top extra comfy shape. "At least turn the lights on?"
"C'mon Rose, you don't need to keep everything all dark for me! I mean, is all this important?"
"Of course, half the cure is Headology anyway. It never hurts to set up a bit of mood lighting to quickly progress the onset of health." She brings her hands up from under the table and reaches towards you with a maniacal grin. "Now, let's see what the Seer of Light can do for you."
She runs a hand through the air, just above the cut on your cheek. You try not to fidget or think any violent thoughts as she concentrates on the blackened, oozing scar. You silently draw air through your teeth and hope it won't start acting up while you're in a contained space with Rose. She tries to press her palm in further, but hits the same force-field you've experienced before. She 'hmmms' to herself as she withdraws her hand.
"And... where did you say you procured this magical scrape?"
You rub the back of your hand, looking anywhere but Rose. "Um... I didn't?"
She smiles, not like she's being kind or anything, but like she's beginning a card game she likes with a bunch of people who suck at strategy. "This wouldn't happen to be the abandoned temple dedicated to the elder gods that we've been warned about since children? The temple which would curse all who walked upon its grounds? The temple which, as I recall, you described to me this morning as 'just a place with treasure! Ha ha. No spooky scruples present here at all! Don't try to stop me!'"
You cringe. "Um, I didn't use the word scruples? Besides, I didn't think it would be... real? Just folklore stuff."
You look back at Rose, who now has her face buried in her palm. "Jade Harley, you're going to be the death of me. And not because you're even dragging me along to wanton dungeons anymore, but because one day you're going to come to me with a mystical curse so terrible and vile, looking upon it will immediately cause my mind to shatter from sheer dark power." She shrugs. "You, undoubtedly, will be fine after all of this, since your disturbingly sunny disposition is somehow your best and last defense on top of all your other bizarre abilities."
"Thanks?" Was that a compliment? "Anyway, is there anything you can do about this?" You point at your cut, helpfully.
She frowns, scrunching her mouth to one side, staring at your black scar. She doesn't look disappointed with it, more like she's disappointed with herself. "This is a very, very powerful curse, Jade. And I hate admitting when something carries more power than me." She taps her fingers on the table. "So I won't admit it. I'm going to say this is outside my range of specialty, and send a recommendation along to a... doctor. Yes. Who conveniently happens to have settled down in this very town in these past few months." She smiles, just a hint of one, but you pick it up and immediately get suspicious. You narrow your eyes.
"Oh, you've definitely heard of him. He's one of the few beings in this land who is entirely immune to magic."
Kankri? He's not a doctor, he's a religious icon. "Since when was Kankri allowed to leave Hgothrar?"
"No, no no no, not Kankri. I'm pretty sure dealing with a curse would be preferable to seeing him." She smiles, teeth fully revealed. "I'm sending you to the other one."
Oh no. Oh nooooooooo. Oh no.
You fail to reply fast enough so Rose continues. "Still can't remember? How could you not? The troll who failed not only at being a knight but at competing for your affections..."
Dave chooses this moment to pop his head through the curtains behind you and say, "Oh, oh, Rose, I got it. I pick, 'who is Karkat Vantas, second place on the Jade Harley train?' for five hundred points."
You slam your head on the table and groan. You hear Rose shift on her pillows to reply to Dave. "Good job Dave! Five hundred points and a gold star! Although might I remind you of the 'Seer-Patient confidentiality pact?'"
"Whatever, it's just Jade. Not like I haven't explored her pacts of confidentiality already."
You shoot your head up and glare at him. "What does that even mean!"
"Easy there grayface, it means I held the first place trophy. Choo choo, motherfuckers."
Anger roils through you. "You might still have been holding it if you didn't turn into a BIRD for three years!"
His mouth drops open in mock horror. "You know, I'd be offended if you weren't cursed with some kind of 'cut open old wounds' thing. Now I'm just mildly entertained. Can't stop, won't stop." He steps through the curtain, apparently deciding his bodyguard abilities are best utilized indoors. "Why are you sending her to the fucking Blood Doctor though? As hardcore as his name is, I wouldn't send my BFFsie to a past pity-crushee."
You HATE quadrants. You especially hate the heart one, the 'pity' one. You don't want a prospective date to pity you, you just want them to have a big cock. Either attached or in a box, whatever. As long as the color is fun. Karkat probably had neither of those things. Er, wait, maybe the fun color.
Oh, and you prefer love as an emotion, that too. After about a million in a half failed relationships and one-night stands with trollkind, you are almost certain they're incapable of understanding the human mating ritual, no matter how many biology textbooks you show them.
"I'm sending her to Karkat due to my profound, educated, and indubitably correct opinion as a medical professional. The diagnosis is: Jade is utterly fucked unless she finds someone that can easily touch the wound to work around the curse."
"Why don't I try?" says Dave. "I've got magic warding accoutrements up the wazoo, and I'd do anything to help a buddy get out of whatever weird shit goes down at the Troll Dungeon."
"I believe the popular title of his office is, 'The Last Resort,' but he prefers to call it..." Rose coughs, preparing to launch into an overly-proper accent. "Why Are You Even Fucking Talking To Me, Shut Up And Get On The Operating Table." She returns to her normal voice. "You're welcome to try, Dave, since you do indeed have magical accoutrements in your wazoo."
"Up my wazoo, dammit, you're making it sound like I have all these prayer wards erotically lodged in various orifices, instead of artfully draped across my skirts."
He reaches a hand out towards your face. His fingers are swathed in magic-cancelling papers written by the two priestesses at the Death Temple, there's no way he won't be able to-
You feel a magical pulse on your cheek, just as Dave snaps his hand back with a very uncool "ow" sound. "Shit, that's some serious curse you got there. Sorry, Jade, but I've got to agree with the medical professional here. You're fucked."
You sigh. "Thanks for trying. I guess I'll go see... Karkat." you pause, thinking. "How long's it been, anyway? Four years?"
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." says Rose.
"Bleh, shut up! I'm not even going to think about that." You stand up, brushing your skirts down. "Are you sure I don't get a BFF discount?"
She smiles warmly. "I'll give you half off because I failed to cure you."
"I've got to pay Dave somehow."
Dave nods. "Birdseed and breadcrumbs really put a toll on my pocketbook."
Rose is very expensive, but even though you didn't explore the temple like you really wanted to, you've still got money to pay her off. Thanks, royal allowance! Thanks for allowing you to be really lazy and just kinda accrue money over time. You dig ten gold coins out of your purse and place them on the table.
"Any more questions?" says Rose, as her delicate fingers slide the coins towards her.
"Hmm... what would happen if I just... didn't treat this thing?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you knew. I expect the terrible side effects which often occur in eldritch literature would progress rapidly. Tendency for uncontrolled violence, inspiring fear in others, rapid development of bizarre sexual habits... you know, the usual."
Rose shrugs. "I dabbled in it for a while, just for the roleplay factor."
"And here I thought you still had maidenly virtues." says Dave.
"Maidenly virtues tend to disappear once you're in the nether-throes of a few shadowy tentacles with a hot woman." You can't see her eyebrows due to her bangs, but you know she's waggling them. Dave makes a disgusted face.
"Anyway, I would highly recommend getting rid of your curse as fast as humanly possible. Or, as fast as quarter-werewolfully possible, in your case." Rose says. "You may just feel slightly irritable now, but from here on out it will only get worse. I suggest you stay away from any emotions or actions of vice until Karkat can give you a further diagnosis. If he can give you a further diagnosis."
"That means no hardcore BDSM in your sex dungeon, Jade." says Dave.
You ignore him. "I don't think I'll have a problem with that! I'm not a very violent person in general."
"Of course. I wish you luck, Jade. Let me know what Karkat says about your... grimdark affliction."
"Grimbark." says Dave. "Grimbark."
You and Rose both stare at him.
"Get it, because she's like, a quarter-werewolf. And they... bark."
"Dave Strider, that is a terrible pun and I expect we will never use it." says Rose. "I'm not even going to give you the barest hint of laughter for that one."
"Fine, whatever, don't appreciate my comical genius. I'll just be over here, making puns and shit, alone."
You stretch, already feeling a bit better now that you've got a plan. You like having plans! Even if the plans involve somebody you haven't seen in a long time and don't really have a desire to see again. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
"Karkat's been holed up in the inner quarter of the Rain District, lately." says Dave. "He's got a big ugly sign on the front of the door, it's pretty clear what goes on in there. Can't miss it."
"Um, okay. I'll be able to find him. Thanks, guys!"
You say your goodbyes and step outside into the cold spring sun. Time to get this curse fixed. Hopefully Karkat works quickly, and you'll be on your way, easy as pie!
It would really suck if this turned into a full-blown quest, after all.