1964-09-10 - A kind of magic
Summary: Zatanna explains the difference between stage magic and sorcery to an undercover Starfire.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
starfire zatanna-zatara 

One of Zatanna's favorite pasttimes is impromptu shows.

It's not that she can't pack the seats at even some of the largest venues in New York; the world-class magicienne can bring in crowds that rival rock concerts.

But every magician got their start with card tricks and close-up magic, and Zatanna's putting on a free little show in Greenwhich village. She's wearing somewhat more conservative clothing; long, flowing black pants, cinched neatly under her sternum with a broad black belt; her shirt is flowing white silk, with a high collar and bow tie in place. Her hair is worn down and straight today, bangs draping immacuately over her brows.

"We see three steel rings here; please, each of you confirm that the rings are solid and cannot be opened," Zatanna requests, handing the rings off to three random witnsses in the crowd. Each twists, stretches, and pulls on them, to no avail. Zatanna collects them a moment later. "Solid metal, no latches, no hinges, no tricks. But with the proper application of magic— and a little belief from my audience," she says, flashing a flirty wink at a nine year old girl sitting up front, "we can make these rings into a single chain."

She holds them up, palms open, then sets them into one circle.

"And we say the magic words— hocus pocus, abrakadabra, and—!" she separates her hands, and all three rings are joined into one chain. The crowd gasps in surprise, then breaks into applause.

"Thank you! You've been wonderful, thanks for stopping by," Zatanna tells the group. "If you liked the little show, donations in the hat, all proceeds go to the Children's Hospital," she says, before moving to start boxing up her suitcase full of tricks.

Despite her best efforts finding more information about the arcane arts has proven far more difficult than infiltrating Earth society. But today she seems to be in luck! A wizard performing feats of mystery and no mortal peril for anyone! Although Starfire is generally unfamiliar with Earth social customs it isn't hard to pick up that clapping is the correct response to this display of sorcery. Perhaps it's even a custom to placate the mystics?

Her own outfit actually looks fairly tame compared to Zatanna, a classic black dress bought with help from Earth friends. She even resists the urge to fly up close for a better view, settling instead on using smiles and only slightly forceful pushing.

"Excuse me Miss Sorceress? May I enquire if those magic words may be used to negate harmful magics?" Kori asks, still beaming with a delight only matched by the younger children in the audience.

Zatanna looks up at the 'excuse me' and then her crystal blue eyes widen in surprise. No matter how conservative that dress is, Kori's a six-foot drink of water with inhumanly striking features, and — well, that's just not something anyone's prepared to encounter!

"I— oh my! Hello," Zatanna says, standing upright quickly. She touches her head to her crown as if looking for the brim of a hat. Not finding it, she glances around, as if worried she's dropped it somewhere.

Realizing she looks foolish (and remembering she isn't using the hat today), she forces her hands to interlace in front of her and flashes a megawatt smile at Koriand'r. "Hi! Uh… negate… magics?" Zatanna says, forcing her brain to get into gear. "I suppose it depends if you've got 'the touch' for magic," she says, eyes widening and dropping her contralto a half octave for dramtic effect. "Magic comes from /within/. The words are just a channel," she tells Koriand'r, theatrically.

Starfire holds her hand out for the ritual shaking of the hands. "Are you able to explain how someone might discover if they have this 'touch' you speak of?" she wonders earnestly. "Oh and please forgive my manners. I am Koriand'r but my friends find it easier to call me Kori. It is something I have tried to discover by visiting the library but so far I have yet to meet with success."

"I did meet with a being who claimed to be a god in the park and they seemed to have an understanding of sorcery. But I have been unable to find him again," she adds with a sigh. "I do not think he would have been very helpful though. He talked like a philosopher monk."

Zatanna's not one easily overwhelmed, but she's definitely wishing she wore her higher heeled shoes. Darn that soft grass under feet! It might not have helped much; Kori's fairly statuesque, obliging the raven-haired girl to crane her neck a little.

Still, the handshake and accompanying smile are sincere and friendly enough. "I'm Zatanna Zatara, but my friends call me Zee," she says, making introductions. "Easier to wrangle. You're not interupting at all! I'm just packing up my props," she explains, putting a few things into the suitcase in a certain way. She gets them laid out, closes the latches, and then smacks the top of the table. The whole thing collapses neatly and folds into a fairly compact satchel, with a leggy, pinup version of Zatanna painted onto the side, the image faded by travel and age.

"It's… this isn't /real/ magic," she tells Kori, sensing the woman's not from around here. "It's sleight of hand." She reaches up and pulls a coin out from behind Koriand'rs left ear. "See? I'm just tricky with my fingers," she tells the woman. "Anyone can learn how to do it."

Starfire tilts her head, staring at the coin. "I do not think I could learn," she muses. "American money is very fragile." A moment later she sighs. "Another dead end in my investigation. Oh well. I am sure I will find a lead eventually. I hope this means you do not have a live rabbit inside of a hat? As I read about that in a book and it seems like a /very/ cruel to the rabbit."

"His name is Mr. Hops, and he actually likes it in my hat," Zatanna tells Kori with a teasing grin. "I'm kidding. He lives in a very nice little rabbit run when he's not working, and he's never in my hat for very long. Rabbits actually like cozy little dark places like that," she tells the firey-tressed woman.

Picking up her satchel with a bend of the knee, she moves to fall into step next to Kori. "I… so, uh, I don't mean to pry, but are you a … mutant?" she says, with the faintest of hesitations. It's still the 'm' word in some parts of the world. "I love your skin, it's beautiful. Like a sunset."

"Hmmm? Oh yes," Kori responds with a shrug. "I am not offended when people are curious. I hardly appear as everyone else does after all!" She pulls a coin out from her own bag and bends it between two fingers, then bends it back. "Thank you for the compliment though. You are pleasant in appearance also. I should note that I am not from America originally, so please forgive me if my choice of words is sometimes strange. English is perhaps my twelth language."

Zatanna blinks at the casual show of strength. "Yowza," she mutters, eyes widening. "Sure, don't… think twice about it," she mumbles. Hey! Kori's being friendly, so she keeps walking. "Gosh, twelve languages?" she inquires, companionably. "I thought I was a smarty pants because I know a little Italian," she says, cheerfully. "That's pretty impressive. Must be some good schools where you're from."

She spots a hot dog vendor, and rises on her toes, then tilts her head that way while looking at Kori. "Listen, I'm gonna grab a bite to eat. D'you wanna join me, or are you on your way somewhere?" she inquires convivally.

Starfire laughs. "Oh no, I mean it is the twelth language I learnt. Not the twelth that I speak," she explains cheerfully. "I can speak several dozen. It is.. a.. mutant thing and hard to explain."

The alien princess is very politely not staring at the hot dog cart, known purveyors of mustard but the suggestion of stopping for food gets an immediate response. "Oh yes I would love to stop for a snack. Mustard dogs are perhaps one of my favorite things I have tried in this city. I am not doing anything important anyway, just looking for part time work."

"Snacks it is," Zatanna says with a decisive nod, and she stretches out her long legs once they've got the destination confirmed. They queue up— no one else is really in line, so it's just a few seconds of perusing the menu until they find something they like.

"I'll have a pretzel, please," Zatanna says, slinging her little purse forward and digging into it. She sets her satchel by her feet. "And whatever my friend wants," she adds, flashing that brilliant smile at Kori again.

"THat's a handy talent, speaking a bunch of languages," she tells Kori, enviously. "I'd be able to go all over the world if I could do that. Giving magic shows in Beijing while speaking /Chinese/? They'd go nuts," she says, shaking her head in admiration. "So… you live in New York now?"

"One hotdog please.. Extra mustard," Kori orders eagerly. "I am unsure if you would be well received in China. I visited several months ago and they were very wary of strangers. It could be related to the communist system they follow." She shrugs. "I currently live near New York. Close enough to fly in. I've got a nice little beach front campsite.. the view is quite lovely."

"What about you Zee? Are you a native to New York? Do you live in the local area?" She smiles. "I am also quite curious what made you decide to take up sorcery?"

"Oh, born and raised right here," Zatanna assures Kori. "I lived in New York for years growing up, but — well my family are stage folks. We travelled everywhere. I've been all over the United States," she explains, paying for their food and taking a big bite of her pretzel.

"Beachfront, huh? That sounds really nice," Zatanna says, admiringly. "I've got my family home, but it's over in Queens. I can smell the ocean, but I gotta hoof it to the bay to see it."

"But please— it's not sorcery. It's stage magic," Zatanna tells Koriand'r. "It's just sleight of hand. You just can't see what I'm doing because you're not looing in the right place." She produces a coin from behind her ear, then makes it vanish— then does it again, much more slowly, letting Kori see quite clearly where the coin is hidden between her fingers.

Starfire takes the mustard dog, then adds more mustard. A worryingly large amount more. "But magic and sorcery are words which share the same meaning, no?" she muses. "I do not think regular people would find my campsite so appealing. I have little to protect against the elements.. Thankfully I am quite resilient."

When she finally takes a bite it's unnervingly large. Near half the hotdog gone in a single bite. "I am unfamiliar with the term stage folk. Is it perhaps similar in meaning to actors?"

Zatanna's jaw drops a little at Koriand'r and how she /inhales/ that hot dog. Wow. Zatanna looks at her pretzel and takes a much more demure bite, chewing softly.

"Woah, slow down," she says, at the stream of questions. "First things first, it depends on what kind of magic you're talking about," Zatanna clarifies. "I'm not /really/ doing 'magic'. It's just illusions. But it's fun to pretend that it /is/ magical," she says. "When people say they went to a magic show, really they're just seeing a practical illusionist. Real magic is… a lot different," she says. "But the people who can do real Magic, the actual stuff, don't like to talk about it casually."

"And yeah, it's a catch-all term," Zatanna says. "Actors, performers, that sort of thing. Anyone who gets up and plays pretend to entertain people."

Starfire tilts her head. "But I am eating slowly," she assures. "Where I am from it is considered very rude to eat slowly. Slow eating implies the food is not pleasant to consume." She looks at the hotdog and, with a great amount of willpower, takes a second much smaller bite. "Most of the artists in my home town were poets or singers. Plays were much less popular and I can't recall anyone doing that sort of stage illusion show."

"Being secretive would fit with the lack of written information," Starfire admits. "And with the strange way people involved with magic sometimes talk."

"Where /are/ you from?" Zatanna asks, curiously. "I've got a pretty good ear for voices, but I can't place your accent at all. Europe?" she hazards, eating her pretzel. She nods, understanding Starfire's perspective on eating slowly, but the raven-haired magician can't seem to make herself eat any faster!

Uplifting her chin at a table nearby, she meanders towards it, inviting Kori to go with her to find a seat. "Are you here as part of an exchange program, or what? I can't imagine living on a beach, that's gotta be kind of cold," she frowns.

"I have lived all over the place," Starfire explains as she moves over to the table. "I am from the Monoco area but I haven't been back there in quite a long time." She smiles. "I am not bothered by extremes of temperature, lack of oxygen or numerous other conditions which would harm a regular person."

Kori pouts, holding the hotdog close enough she can smell the mustard but not taking another bite just yet. "You could call me a refugee I suppose. There was a war and, despite my gifts, I was unable to remain and make a difference."

"Oh!" Zatanna looks sad and sympathetic, all at once, jaw slacking a little. "My goodness, I'm so sorry to hear that!" Impulsively, she reaches out to rest her fingers on Kori's wrist, a gesture of sympathy and reassurance. "I didn't even know about a war in that area. Monaco, that's in… Italy, right?" she hazards.

"Sometimes we don't hear about news from Europe until months… gosh, years later," she apologizes. "Still, I feel terrible. I'm glad you're settling in here, though. You're too nice to be stuck at some awful camp or halfway house."

Starfire blinks a few times. "Oh sorry I seem to have mislead you. The war was elsewhere in the world…" There is a brief pause while she tries to remember place names. "It was in Africa anyway, I can't be all that specific as I was walking without a map. So I'm not entirely sure which country I was in. I have travelled very extensively, probably further than anyone you are likely to encounter as I can fly." A chuckle. "Monaco is much closer to France than Italy."

"Oh! Okay, don't worry," Zatanna tells Kori, smiling brightly again. "The specifics aren't a big deal," she tells her. "I'm glad you're here now, though, in America! It's a great place, isn't it?" she asks. She crosses her legs at the knee, resting her elbow on her thigh in a lazy slouch.

"So … this …" she makes a circle at Kori with her fingers. "All mutant stuff? Pretty, flight, languages, all of that?" she inquires, with a hiked brow. "Man. I'm kind of jealous," she says, enviously. "I don't think there are platform heels tall enough to get me up there with you," she remarks. "I … don't know a lot of mutants. Am I being rude?" she asks, wincing. "I don't mean to be rude."

"There are some things I like, but I do miss home sometimes. There are many new and interesting foods and drinks to try though," Starfire replies, waving her hand in the direction of the food truck. "At first I got a little confused by the name 'hotdog' and believed it was made from pet animals."

"I do not think my looks or height are the result of my unusual genetics," Star points out earnestly. "Although they are a factor influenced by my regular genetics. I find the idea of mutants to be quite silly really. Everyone is genetically different or else everyone would be identical." She shrugs. "I do not find questions rude, but I understand the fear you may have offended someone. I had a rather unfortunate misunderstanding involving the phrase 'eating for two'. I did not realise at the time I was implying a young woman I was talking to was pregnant."

"It's the small subtle changes, though, isn't it?" Zatanna asks. "I mean, yeah, we're all basically people, but— some of us are taller, or stronger, or shorter, or smarter," she shrugs, finishing off her pretzel. "Even though we're mostly the same, it's the little differences we notice."

"I'm sure there's something very profound I'm supposed to say and it's totally escaping me," she admits with a roll of her eyes. "I know how it goes to make a mistake like that— sticking your foot in your mouth. Didn't Kennedy make that joke about jelly doughnuts?" she inquires. "And when I was in Mexico, I accidentally asked the waiter to marry me instead of getting me another steak," she says, eyes dancing with amusement.

"I like to think that we're all more alike than not and that even life on other planets follows the same values. Friends, family and so on," Kori says, finally taking a third (and final) bite of her hotdog. "I am unsure which joke you are meaning, sometimes I struggle with jokes and idiums. I have had waiters ask to marry me before though. Actually it happens quite often come to think of it, especially in places which serve alcoholic drinks…."

"I get proposed to about twice a week. Twice a day, if I'm in town doing a show," Zatanna tells Starfire, symapthetically. "Guys are incorrigible that way. Oh well. Can't live with 'em, can't turn them all into hamsters." She sighs, then perks immediately and beams at Kori again.

"Listen, this has been really fun!" she exclaims, patting Kori's leg enthusiastically. "I'm enjoying talking to you. Would you like to get together for some coffee or drinks sometime?" she offers. "I'm over near Chelsea, but I can get around the city pretty well. I'd love to have you over to my family home for a nice afternoon tea."

"I was betrothed for a while back home," Starfire admits. "Although I do not believe the arrangement still stands. I do not really mind the accompanying generosity or gifts though… And it is much nicer than the negative attention some people provide due to the way I look."

"That sounds lovely. Although I find it hard to make arrangements as the place I am staying does not have any electricity or telephones," Kori replies with a smile. "I can however get anywhere in the city or state without much trouble providing I have directions."

"Oh, wow," Zatanna breathes, wide-eyed. "/Betrothed/? Like the real deal? I didn't think anyone did that anymore," she wonders aloud. "So like, your parents set it up when you two were kids? Did you at least get a chance to meet him and talk to him before … " she gestures vaguely with a waggling index finger. "Wait, /was/ betrothed. Did you not end up getting married?"

Her eyes go even wider. "Wait. Are you ROYALTY?"

Starfire coughs. "It's… complicated? It was arranged before I was born, but my sister tried to kill me and things got delayed. I… would rather not go into it if that's okay. It's quite depressing to think about."

"Of course, of course," Zatanna murmurs, shaking her head. "I'm so sorry. I don't mean to bring it up. But! Yes, I would love to have you over for tea at some point, anyway," she says, brightening again and trying to change the topic. "My house is Shadowcrest Manor," she says. "Go to Crest Hill and look for the big old Victorian with a purple roof," she says. She digs in her purse and comes up with a little scrap of pen and paper, and writes an address and phone number down. "If you can call me, great, but if not— just stop by! Worst case, my butler will set you up with some hot tea and we'll make a plan for another day," she says, flashing a bright smile.

"I look forward to it," Starfire assures, putting the scrap of paper in her little bag. "I shall try not to drop in unannounced however to ensure I do not come over while you are preparing for a performance. I would not wish to disrupt your livelihood after all."

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