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The Golden Lane

 
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Mallory
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Sep 2016
Posts: 266
See this user's pet
Jobs: Apothecary, Alchemist
Can Be Found: Wayside, Panacea, or Kabuki Street, most of the time
18239.98 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:28 am    Post subject: The Golden Lane Reply with quote

Early April

Winter was overstaying its welcome in RhyDin this year, so when the first day came that was nearly warm, and mostly sunny, Mallory St. Martin spent as much of it as she could outside. She was almost happy to wash the windows at Panacea this morning, spent her afternoon tutoring Latin students in a statue park near their school, and enjoyed the last hour of the day at a table near the Marketplace, working on two tacos and her second beer while she flipped through her notes on elementary cantrips.

She lifted her head to let her gaze tick over passerby as a breeze flapped the pages of her notebook… but no one seemed to be paying her any mind, besides the halfling server who trundled off with her empty bottle and a dozen others. A calm had settled over her life since the death of Belladonna. She breathed a quiet sigh and bent her head to her work again.

Not everything had returned to normal -- Lavanya and Janel had not returned to the gym for training. Ishmerai was not there to help tutor them, returning instead to Faerie to recover from the effects of his long journey; and the massive gap in their ranks left by Almast and all of the others was too painful to overcome. “NIHIL OBSTAT,” the motto over their gym, now encircled a small tattoo of a diamond on her right shoulder.

Someone was shouting nearby, the noise enough to shake her from her reverie and still the hand that had reached up to rub her shoulder -- it sounded like two someones, evidently upset. They were kids, probably siblings based on the way they whined. A smile crept onto her lips. Then someone cleared their throat. When Mallory looked up again, a dark haired woman was standing over her.

She was petite, dressed for the budding spring day in jeans and a t-shirt, partially hidden beneath a light jacket, that pictured Tinker Bell. Her black hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, revealing her elongated, pointed ears. Her smile for the young witch was touched by glamour, and there was a warmth in her green eyes. “Mallory St. Martin,” she greeted, her voice musical and pleasing, as she took a seat uninvited across from her.

Drip, drip, drip. “Lorelei.” Blood dripped off the heel of Mallory’s thumb and onto the corner of her notebook, soaking through the pages. A thorny vine had wound its way around her wrist, biting into her palm within a split-second of the intruder announcing herself, and her fingers were extended in a ward against charms. Her smile came with effort, an empty nicety next to her defensive posture.

“You are bleeding,” the faerie queen observed, amusement masked by concern which was quickly eclipsed by a pleased smile when the server delivered a plate of tacos to her. “Oh thank you! They look just amazing.” The hafling blushed, bowing his head to the lady before wandering off once again.

Mallory only saw the server moving away in her periphery, her eyes locked on the royal being across the table from her, but once the halfling left she replied, “I am used to it.” She paused, quietly considering Lorelei’s possible motives before she asked her, “What are you doing here?”

“Eating tacos.” She tried to carefully lift her first taco, but ended up losing some of the slaw on top. “Is there a proper way to eat such a thing or do I just shove it in my mouth?” Lorelei looked from the taco in question to Mallory.

It took effort for Mallory not to snort, but she couldn’t resist giving voice to the innuendo. “Everyone is messy their first time. You’re doing fine.” Drip, drip, her fingers remained in their awkward position. “Is that what you came to RhyDin to ask me?”

“Excellent,” she ignored Mallory’s question for the moment and took a bite out of the taco. “Mmm… that’s good.” When she set it down on the plate, it immediately fell apart but she had her attention on the witch now as she used a paper napkin to dab at her lips. “I did not intend to ask you about tacos, blood witch. I did come to speak to you.” Lorelei set the napkin down carefully as if it was made of linen. “You see, there is a debt existing between you and I, mortal girl. I have given you some time in this world to recuperate after the trials you have been a part of, but the time has come for us to settle our debt.” She spoke regretfully, as if she did not wish to do this but had been forced to do so.

Mallory’s fingers twitched. She studied Lorelei’s gaze carefully. She hadn’t cast a spell yet, but the blood continued to flow with its promise of power. “So you have come to my table uninvited,” she said slowly, “to claim that there is something I owe you.” Her words were guarded, cool despite their content.

“Claim? Curious. Do you deny that I have provided you services, aid… information, Mallory St. Martin?”

“What was asked of you was provided without any discussion of trade that I was party to. Did anyone else discuss trade?” There was a sliver of doubt in her voice, as she wondered if she had misjudged, if Jewell had cut a second deal.

Her smile was both sweet and condescending as ****, though there was a real note of regret in her tone as she explained patiently to the young mortal, “Deals do not need to be discussed prior to being made. You have incurred a debt, and I will collect. I must. Surely you understand.”

Mallory shifted in her seat, her right hand curled around the strap of her bag. Her left hand continued to bleed. “The last time someone came to collect, my friends and I turned his head into a door knocker.” She lifted her chin, ever so slightly. “You can ask Jewell. She was there.”

“Ah yes, my dear cousin. Shall we invite her into this conversation then?”

The witch’s eyes flared as she leaned very slowly and carefully out of her seat, digging into the backpack by her chair. She unlocked her phone blindly, tapped her thumb in the corner where she knew her messages were, and slid it across the table. “She’s near the top.” Giving this faerie queen unfettered access to her texts felt like a better option than taking her eyes off of her, at the moment.

“I do not care for technological wizardy.” The faerie left the phone untouched, opting to gather up the remains of first taco instead, considering it from two angles before shoving the entire thing in her mouth.

“And I trust you less than you trust my phone.” The witch rested her right hand on the edge of the table, considering retrieving the device while she watched Lorelei critically.

Her laughter and whatever she tried to say initially in response was muffled by the mouthful of taco. A goblet appeared in her hand and she took a sip before trying again, “I came here to have a conversation with you, Mallory St. Martin. I think you can trust me not to force you against your will.”

“Bull****.” The witch’s eyes darted away for a moment, as long as she dared, to find Jewell in her contacts and put a call on speaker. Her muscles were tense and her eyes were narrowed, like a cornered animal waiting for the sign that it would have to strike.

The phone rang.

Lorelei shrugged and went to work on the second taco as Jewell’s voice rang out from the phone. “Hey yo, Mal. What’s up? Everything good?”

Drip, drip, drip. “Your cousin’s here. I think she wants to collect me.” The witch clenched her teeth together.

There was a moment of silence from the Empress when all they could hear was music playing in the background. “Lorelei?”

“Present,” Lorelei managed around another mouthful of taco.

“We’re at Hugo’s. South of the Marketplace.” Mallory’s gaze quickly dipped to Lorelei’s (salsa-stained) hands at that announcement, then back up to her eyes.

Lorelei simply grinned at her and started licking the salsa off her fingers.

There was a sense of strain beneath Jewell’s upbeat response, “Hugo’s? They make those killer tacos, right? I’ll be there in under five. Gotta put clothes on.”

Mallory reached across the table and disconnected the call. The rhythm of her dripping blood had slowed, but as she ticked over to recent contacts, then Eri, the vines that wreathed her left wrist writhed around her, reopening the cut with their thorns. The phone rang twice before it went to voicemail.

“It’s Eri. Sorry I missed you. I will call you back.”

“Babe, it’s me.” Mallory smiled at Lorelei as she bled on the tablecloth. “I ran into Lorelei at the taco place, but I should be home soon. I can pick up dessert on the way home. Call me back.”

Lorelei waited until Mallory ended the call before commenting, “Your girlfriend is a remarkable young woman as well.”

“Have you met her father?” the witch asked as she slid the phone away, dropping it into her bag.

Her smile was enigmatic, as if she did not recognize the threat hidden beneath a majority of what Mallory was saying. “Perhaps.”

“I think you’d remember him if you did,” Mallory said with a soft smile. “Oni are ancient, remarkable beings.”

“As are sídhe.”

As if on cue, a blue haired faerie breezed through the afternoon crowd at Hugo’s and slid into a seat next to Mallory, hip-bumping her to make room. “Scoot. Hey Lore, been a while.” She struck an ultra-casual note in both her manner and attire, having thrown on a dress, pulled up her signature colored hair in a messy bun, and totally forgotten shoes. She looked better than she had over the last few months: her skin was tan, her cheeks sun-kissed, and her frame finally edging away from skeletal. “Hey Donny,” she called to one of the servers, “get me a Badsider?”

“Two,” the witch added, recovering from her momentary shock at Jewell’s breezy arrival--and attitude. She dabbed at her cut with a napkin, gaze ticking between the two faeries as they spoke.

“What is Badsider?”

“Amazingness,” Jewell responded blithely.

“I would like one as well!” Lorelei called after Donny.

Mallory killed what remained of her beer with a quick swig, but her one-and-a-half tacos hadn’t been touched since Lorelei’s arrival. She’d lost her appetite.

Donny obligingly brought a round of Badsiders, leaving them on the table before returning to the bar area with a smile for the Empress. She blew him a kiss in return, took a sip of her Badsider, and then leaned towards Lorelei, quickly dropping the facade. “So what the hell do you want?”

“Your time in these lands has undone you once more, I see. Your witch is more polite than you are, cousin.” Lorelei remarked dryly before examining her Badsider bottle and taking a tentative sip.

Mallory dug out her phone again, though she glanced up from it when Lorelei mentioned her, thumb hovering over Team Awesome.

“Yeah, well…” Jewell shrugged, unconcerned. “You were the one who said you didn’t trust me anymore after I handed you the crown, and yet here you are.”

“Yes but apparently you trust me enough to put your knight under my care.”

Her brow furrowed and Jewell looked at Mallory instead of pressing Lorelei further. “Did she tell you what she wanted?”

“Me,” the witch ventured slowly. “She spoke of my debts for at least one thing I had never asked her for.”

“Yes but you took much and more from my archives, did you not?” Lorelei countered serenely.

“Who cares? You’re trying to poach my witch, Lore.” She pointed at her with her Badsider even as she slouched in her seat, “And I don’t appreciate it.”

Mallory’s gaze ticked from Jewell back to Lorelei, but if she disagreed with the assertion she did not give voice to it, merely tapped at her phone’s display to keep it active.

“You know that debts must be settled, cousin. And now that you are here as well, it brings to mind that you are both in my debt.” Jewell’s grey eyes narrowed. “The knowledge to save your life, my knights, your knight. If you give me your witch, I can be persuaded to overlook them all.”

Mallory’s breath hitched before she heard Jewell’s answer. “No. She’s mine. Try again.”

“Cousin, be reasonable. What continued use do you have for the witch? Your trials are over and your life has been saved, and you are still more than powerful in your own right. You could rule this land on your own if you so wished it. You do not need her. Her mastery of old magic though could prove very useful to me. You have left me to rule in our dear grandmother’s stead, and that is no easy task. You know this. The unseelie are--”

“Yeaaah,” Jewell cut her off with a drawn-out drawl, slowly spinning her Badsider around. “I don’t care about any of that so it’s still going to be a big, fat no. Find your own witch.”

The witch in question raised her eyebrows when she was mentioned again, drawing in the hot sauce on her plate with a plastic fork while the conversation volleyed back and forth.

This second, firm denial put a dent in Lorelei’s smile and chilled her demeanor. “I see. Yet I must have my due, Jewell. You know this. So what shall I have in compensation for the aid I have rendered you, the lives I lost, and the knowledge the witch stole? You will not even grant me her service for a time?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Fine. Then I demand your service as recompense instead.”

Mallory planted her hand on the edge of the table. “Are you ****ing—?!”

Jewell actually snorted with laughter, cutting off the witch at her side. “**** no.” Planting her bare feet on the sticky ground, she forced herself to sit upright. “You knew that wasn’t going to happen, so stop playing games, Lore. I prefer directness. You can’t have the witch, so what’s your real second choice?”

“Ishmerai.”

“How long?” Mallory spoke up first. Her knuckles were white.

It was good that she did so because Jewell’s mouth had gone dry and her teeth locked into her cheek to hold back a mewling sound of distress as she waited for Lorelei’s response.

The faerie queen did not prolong their suffering intentionally, but she considered the question for some time before responding, “I am not merciless. I require his service for the span of her mortal life,” she nodded to Mallory, “to replace the service I would have from her.”

The dishes and bottles on the table rattled, one toppling over and spilling off the edge, the witch’s magic involuntarily pushing out when she stood from the table to hiss at Lorelei: “How long for me?”

“Sit down. Now.” Jewell demanded of Mallory quietly and in a manner she rarely used with the girl, and after a long stare from the witch, she dropped back into her seat.

Lorelei looked pleased. “So who will it be then? The girl or the knight? She seems willing enough--”

“Stop.” Even the faerie queen fell silent and obeyed the blue haired sídhe’s command when it was spoken with such a cold, deadly edge. “The girl is not an option, so you may have the knight.” Her cousin opened her mouth to say something, but Jewell cut her off. “But know this, Lorelei--I will remember this request of yours and it does not please me.” Lorelei, of all people, knew what Ishmerai meant to Jewell.

The faerie queen stood. “Then perhaps cousin you should be more careful when you request aid in the future if you do not feel capable of paying the price due.” Jewell simply waved her hand, dismissive. “I take my leave of you now and will share the details of the bargain with my knight upon my return.”

“You do that,” Jewell replied stonily, staring at her cousin with unveiled hostility.

“Cousin. Mallory St. Martin.” Lorelei bowed her head to each in turn before turning to leave, quickly blending in with the crowd before she crossed the Veil.

“Jewell.” Mallory spoke the sídhe’s name with a quaver in her voice.

She waited until she was absolutely sure that Lorelei was gone before looking to Mallory, forcing a smile she did not feel even as her world fell apart. “I just-- I couldn’t let her…”

Mallory wrapped her arms around Jewell and squeezed, pressing her face to the sidhé’s shoulder. “Jewell, I’m sorry,” she whispered tremulously, hot tears falling freely from her face.

To her credit, she did not cry. She just held the young woman tightly and reassured her, “It’ll be okay.”

It had to be true. Faeries couldn’t lie.

((Adapted from play with Jewell, with thanks!))
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Mallory
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Sep 2016
Posts: 266
See this user's pet
Jobs: Apothecary, Alchemist
Can Be Found: Wayside, Panacea, or Kabuki Street, most of the time
18239.98 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tale of Lorelei and Ishmerai came out in an incoherent stream as soon as Mallory crossed the threshold, so much of it at once that she wasn’t sure what she had said by the time she was done. It had been an hour, and the witch sat on her and Eri’s bed, curled into a ball with her arms around her knees and leaning into the delinquent’s arms. Even after the tears stopped, she’d been quietly morose for a long stretch…

…but now her expression turned to a deepening frown, gaze ticking back and forth over an empty patch of their bedroom wall.

Eri herself was quiet. The delinquent rested there with her arms around Mallory with her eyes fixed thoughtfully on the doorway. Her own expression was a slight frown as she tried but failed to think of some strategy.

“It’s my fault,” Mallory muttered softly, her gaze still restless. “I asked Jewell for the Vitaeum. I told them we needed an artifact from Faerie. I read more than I should’ve from Lorelei’s library. I sent her that message, begging for help… It’s my fault, and he’s paying for it,” she added, squeezing her knees closer to her face.

Eri’s hand reached to pat the witch’s arm. Her frown deepened as she listened and her head shook once as she considered what Mallory had said. “I don’t see how that is your fault. Libraries are meant to be read. And what kind of person agrees to help and then comes around talking about debts? I don’t think that some big shot faerie has any right coming and interrupting your dinner and upsetting your sense of calm. Shoving us around like some kind of big shot...” The yanki was reflective for a moment. “I can’t think of some way to get revenge though. It’s a completely different world from here, and she is personally powerful, yes?”

“She is,” the witch agreed, leaning instinctively into Eri’s touch. “She’s a faerie queen, and… I think she’s got a lot to prove. Still, though.” She lifted her head to offer the delinquent a half-hearted smile. “That was my table she welcomed herself to and threatened me… then as much as told me I’d never see my friend again. Yeah -- I don’t think she meant it to be that personal, but it sure ****ing felt that way.” She blew out a long breath, following Eri’s gaze to the door, then back with a more genuine smile.

“Did I tell you how close I came to trying to summon your father?”

Eri’s frown was banished when she saw Mallory smile. Her own smile replaced the thoughtful look and she shook her head. “No, you did not mention that. You could, I think. I am not sure just how he thinks but I am sure that he would help. He did make those portals for us and helped with wards -- so I think he has some interest in how we are doing.”

“Yeah,” Mallory laughed softly, “I’d say so…” She trailed off, lips parted, tongue tucked behind her teeth as she thought. “Hey -- one of those portals goes straight to Brno, right? In Moravia?”

“Yes it does” Eri confirmed with a nod.

The witch lifted her chin. “You busy this weekend?”

“No, I’m not busy. You feel like taking a trip by portal?” The delinquent asked.

Mallory thought for a moment… laughed softly, sniffled, and nodded. “Sure. **** it. Let’s go to Prague.”
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