The Faerie Queen
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Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Beyond the Veil

#31:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 10:06 pm
December 23, 2017

?There?s been talk already.?

The mid-afternoon sun cut through the curtains of her study, highlighting the silver threads in the thick, purple weave of the rug on the floor. Of course there had been talk. Jewell sighed, looking up at Haizea and Lavanya. She should get up; she should at least appear strong and in control, but she was so tired. ?By the newer girls??

Haizea shook her head, ?No, not just from the newer girls. Samantha has been talking.?

?Samantha? Really?? Jewell cringed. That wasn?t good. Samantha was one of the first girls she had saved from the brothels. They had gone through so much together already. She had hoped that the loyalty of the original set of girls was unshakable.

?Not against you, though!? Lavanya was quick to cover up for her sister-in-arms and defend her.

?Lala,? Haizea shot her a glance, ?you know that?s not true. She said if Ishmerai were here, we would have strong leadership, real leadership, and we?d be out there doing something.?

Lavanya scowled at her, ?She didn?t mean it like that. She?s just frustrated.? She turned to look back at Jewell, ?We all are.?

?I know. But you understand, don?t you? Both of you?? She looked between them. ?We don?t stand a chance against them. Not yet. If we moved against one of them now? The other half would crush us. We can?t afford that. Not now. We just need to bide our time, as frustrating as that is. Once Ishmerai comes back--?

?If,? Lavanya interrupted her.

Jewell paled. I will be back. Nothing can stop me from returning to you. ?When he comes back,? she repeated, speaking life into those words to make them come true, ?then there will be hell to pay for what they have done.?

Lavanya hesitate before she finally spit out what was on her mind, ?And in the meantime, we just let them pick us off one by one? We let them hurt our friends? Kill our family? And we do nothing??

It was a game of chess: Jewell versus Belladonna. The faerie Empress had lost the first move, now she was losing her pawns, her knight was out of play, she had no king, and her queen was ailing. On the other hand, it appeared that Belladonna had clear command of the board. She had the Night Court on her side, and her queen seemed stronger than ever. She didn?t have a heart rotting of iron. Jewell seemed to be losing on all sides, but she had one advantage: two hundred years of her life lost to Faerie. She had learned to play the game there, and she knew how to win it.

If she made the right sacrifices, if she planned ahead, and if she somehow managed to live, she would win in the end.

And then she would burn their mother ****ing houses down.

?I?m sorry, Lavanya.?

#32:  Author: Death of ManCan Be Found: RhyDin PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:36 pm
December 25, 2017

Belladonna returned to the Tower of Gulshan for Christmas.

She walked the length of the second level, her black high heels echoing loudly in the concrete hallways. ?Woops, careful there,? she said to herself with a breathy laugh, breaking the eerie quiet of the prison as she stepped over the remains of one of the guards. Most of them had fled or joined her noble cause. The rest were splattered across the walls, the perfect shade of red for Yuletide.

As she strolled through the tower, the locks on the doors clicked open behind her, and the large ring of keys jingled in her hand, giving her a bit of music to sing to.

Let there be peace in RhyDin
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace in RhyDin
The peace that was meant to be.
Brothers and sisters all are we!
Let me walk with my sister
In perfect harmony.

On the fourth level, she came upon a guard crawling his way down the stairs, his arm pressed tightly across his stomach to keep his intestines inside. ?Oh ho ho, what have we here?? Bella shoved him back up against the wall, straddling him. ?Come on now, love. Won?t you sing with me? Let?s share a little Christmas cheer together.?

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.

She grabbed his face, moving his mouth to form the words with her hand even as blood gurgled past his lips. She kissed him as he took his last, agonizing breath, letting his blood stain her lips a fresh red before leaving him there and continuing on with her task.

Up up and up she went towards the higher levels where the dangerous criminals were kept. Where she had been kept. All those years spent waiting to have her revenge.

It was unfolding now. Slowly, gloriously.

With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.

Oh, let there be peace in RhyDin,
And let it begin with me!

As the cells were unlocked, the inmates ran past her, shoving one another out of the way in their bid for freedom. One or two paused, grasping the short skirt of her sexy Mrs. Claus costume (complete with a Santa Claus hat) to thank her. She waved them off into the night with a genial smile and hearty laugh, ?Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!?

When she reached the very top of the tower, she spun about and paused, reveling in the distant din of hurried footsteps retreating on the stairs, ?And let?s make it a fabulously bloody New Year, shall we??

#33:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:03 am
December 26, 2017

His teeth grazed her neck, causing her to push him away. ?No. Teddy, stop.?

Theo pulled her closer instead, his hand in her hair tightening as he angled her head, exposing just a little bit more of throat and pressing his lips to her still racing pulse. ?Just a little Kiss,? he murmured. ?I know you?ll like it.?

?I said no.? This time, she shoved him hard, leaving a few strands of white hair in his hand as she turned and sat up, her back to him. ?I told you no last time.? The first time they had gone out, he had taken her to one of the most exclusive restaurants in RhyDin. They danced, drank, and ****ed in the car. By their fourth ?date?, they skipped the polite, social pretenses in favor of taking over a hotel suite and testing the endurance of her heart for a few hours.

?But why?? He reached out, stroking her spine.

Jewell shrugged his hand away. ?Because you can kill me. That?s why.? She sent him a challenging look over her shoulder, ?But maybe that?s what you want? Deliver my body as a present for Belladonna, perhaps??

?Of course not,? he protested smoothly as he drew up behind her, wrapping an arm around her petite frame and pressing a kiss to her bare shoulder. ?That bitch is crazy, and I don?t want to kill you. I?d much rather give you a new life and keep you forever. Wouldn?t that be nice, angel? No more worrying about that struggling heart of yours. No more worrying about anything at all. You would be whole and strong. The crowning adornment of the Night Court. Completely unstoppable. No one could stand in our way if we were together.?

Jewell closed her eyes as his lips worked their way up the slender slope of her shoulder with a series of feather light kisses, lulled by the subtle glamour in his words and the temptation he held out to her. No more pain. No more weakness. She was so tired of being weak and broken.

And alone.

He drew blood this time, the tiniest trickle down her neck, and the dream shattered around her. She elbowed him in the ribs, forcing him back so she could wiggle free of his grasp, swinging her legs off the side of the bed and getting up.

It was better to be alone.

?Mercy, angel.? Theo flopped dramatically across the bed, a teasing taste of her blood on his lips. He stared at her longingly as she move around the room, collecting her things and pulling her dress on over her head. ?You slay me.?

?No darling,? she remarked with a cruel smile, stepping back to the side of the bed and leaning over to kiss his temple. ?That?s what I?ll do if you try that again.?

#34:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:25 am
December 28, 2017

?Hey Jewell, can you hand me a saucer? Preferably a red one. And, um... whiskey and a couple of shot glasses??

?You're so odd,? the faerie remarked, shaking her head at Mallory?s request even if she was curious to see what she was up to. She had been lingering behind the bar for a half hour now, serving drinks like in the good ol? days when she was the Empress, darling of the Red Dragon Inn. Abandoning her drink on the bar, she turned and dug through the teacups until she found a reddish colored one, holding it up for Mallory?s inspection, ?Close enough??

?Close enough.?

?Excellent.? Jewell set that down on the bar first and added a collection of mismatched shot glasses before looking over the bottles of whiskey. ?Hmm?? her fingers danced over a few before selecting one and setting it out. ?I accept compliments as tips.?

?I like your sweater.? Mallory looked up from the saucer, left ring finger currently poised against the rim. ?It works well with those jeans.? Tip paid.

?Why thank you, Mallory!? She flashed her a bright smile; the only touch of glamour was in the corner there, that little bit that she couldn't ever truly banish. Then she bustled off, checking to see who needed what to drink.

Mallory?s gaze slid to one side, locked onto Eri's curious look, and she gave her a wink. Then to the other side, seeing Milo ducking his head, and she narrowed her eyes slyly. Then she whispered into the palm of her left hand, with the glass pendant dangling in slow, pendulous circles, faintly scratching the rim of the red saucer.

Eri was watching what Mallory was doing with the pendant and the cup closely. She tried to listen to the low words, but no sign of recognition seemed to cross her features. Fire rose from Mallory?s hand in little plumes like the petals of a flower, spilling gracefully when she tipped it, letting it settle into the saucer, hovering less than an inch over it. The flame itself was about three inches high, and rather wide, though it gave off no more heat and light than a simple candlelight.

Jewell sent a curious glance to the magic Mallory was performing. ?Pretty?? was all she said though as she set Mist?s glass on the bar in front of him and the bottle of cognac too just in case.

There was the faintest shimmer in the air above the flame, something more than the distortion of heat: a subtle thinning of the Veil, thin enough that one with the right skill (and a little bit of luck) might divine the future by peering into the flame. The witch tickled and plucked at the air around the little spell, verifying that it was, in fact, stable, before she spared a smile for Mist when he joined them at the bar. He got a wink, too.

Eri?s eyes were sharp enough to spot the shimmer in the air, but she didn't have the knowledge to discern any of its nature. She seemed pleased by the spell all the same, admiring the light with a grin. Jewell looked back at it over the rim of her tankard as she took a sip, brows knit together just a touch. It drew the attention of others too. Cane gave a curious (and mildly suspicious) quirk of a brow in Mallory's direction. Distortion had a habit of rippling outward like water rings. He could feel when it reached him. ?The **** 're you doing over there??

?If anyone would like a glimpse of their future,? Mallory said in a clear voice, as she passed her fingers through the magical flame, ?you have but to ask.? Though a nearby Marketplace Monocerus shotglass was snagged and turned upright nearby, something for any payment or tips, should anyone take her up on the offer. Maybe that would do for an explanation for the Cajun! Still. ?Divination,? she offered to Cane with a shrug.

?Nope!? Cane announced abruptly, lifting the beer for a long pull. Sal was well aware of Mallory?s spell playing, but left the questioning to other people. However, he did snort at the offer of having his fortune told.

There was only a smile for Cane and Sal in response, neither taunt nor reproach in Mallory?s gaze as it moved on from the pair of them. There were reasons enough to decline or dismiss the offer of a skilled pythoness. Eri thought about it for a moment, but made no request for a reading. She did reach for the whiskey at last however, taking a modest sip for now as she watched. Jewell tried to ignore Mallory?s offer, but her eyes kept shifting back over to the little flames. Without realizing it, her fingers flitted over the spot just beneath her ribs where a iron-wound scar was hidden by her sweater.

?It is funny to think you had once been a bartender. You are much more than that, now.? Mist noted to Jewell, humorous and quiet.

She chuckled a little at Mist?s comment, glad for the distraction. ?Yes, I suppose I am. Always good to have a fallback job though, right??

?You?re laughter on the wind and the light behind the moon, what else would you need?? Mist responded, lyric, eyes closing for a moment, his smile warm for the moment it lasted.

Her smile for Mist was fleeting; his words oddly deciding something for her. ?I want to be the light of the sun and stars too.? Abandoning her drink, Jewell moved down the bar to stand in front of Mallory. Cane eyed Jewell obliquely as she approached the witch, then looked quickly away. No. No, he didn't want to know.

The faerie crooked her finger, leaning forward to whisper something to Mallory, who turned her head to catch her words.

?Find me the day when my heart will stop.?

Mallory looked at the fae... and nodded slowly, splaying her right hand on the countertop next to the flame as she peered into it. She let her gaze go unfocused... then sharp again... and she shook her head faintly. ?Too far... down a twisted, jagged road nine years long?? No, no, the answer itself would not be spoken aloud, merely her senseless ramblings as she tried to focus on her goal.

?Holy cannolis! Are you tending bar??

Mallory?s eyes snapped to Mairead reflexively at her exclamation, losing the thread of the will-o-wisp's flame. Hmmm. Jewell straightened up from her lean and reluctantly gave Maggie her attention momentarily. ?I can get you something, but I'm mostly just hanging out back here now.?

?May I have an apple juice, please?? Maggie set some coins on the counter.

?Sure?? She replied, distracted, eyes on Mallory and those flames even as she went to fetch the apple juice. She grabbed a grape juice first, setting it on the bar before she realized her mistake. An apple juice quickly joined it. She took up her spot opposite Mallory immediately, muscles tense.

?Thank you!? Maggie grinned and took the juice.

Mallory looked away from the girl, biting her lip thoughtfully... then pricked her left ring fingertip on a thorny silver ring, and drew a slow circle in the air over the saucer. What fell through the air may have been blood, but what settled and congealed on the dish was drops of deep red candlewax. She blinked slowly, once; twice; thrice, and her eyes were the same color red. She held her gaze that way until the count of three, shut her eyes, and exhaled slowly. The flame died down lower, cooler, dimmer.

Jewell studied the drops of red wax, unknowingly holding her breath. Her heart beat rapidly. Mallory?s eyes slitted open, an ordinary shade of green again, and she leaned across the bar and cupped her hand to the faerie's ear.

?The last heartbeat of the very last second of the Feast of Saint Valentine.?

Jewell?s exhale was half laughter and full of bitterness. She stepped back, paler than she had been just moments ago. ?Well **** that's irony for you, huh??

Mallory lifted her chin a few degrees, ticked a look over at Eri, and back at Jewell. ?That's when we get it done.? She could rationalize indulging in a little optimism for arrogance?s sake. Eri was stirring around in spite of a couple sips of whiskey, looking faintly anxious for a moment. Though the tone she heard Mallory use seemed to put her at ease enough to sit still at least. She smiled when she saw the witch look over her way for a moment.

Jewell smile was a feint, pure affectation. She felt sick to her stomach. ?Pretty fitting, I suppose.? Mallory nodded faintly. Peering ahead that far, with that degree of precision... was giving her a hell of a headache, so she may have missed a few things about Jewell's tone and expression. She scooped up her shot and drained it.

A year to the day. So little time left. Oh Kal, why couldn?t you have just left me for dead that night? Why why why? Jewell took another step back away from the witch, vaguely aware of how the room seemed to be spinning around with her thoughts. It was an automatic gesture, the way she fished a pill out of the thin case in her back pocket and popped it under her tongue. The bitter taste was a strange, familiar comfort.

Eri watched Mal take another drink, and followed suit herself. She was shrugging off the anxious tension that had settled into her. ?Being alive isn't even safe, after all,? she said to herself in a low murmur, then nodded as she thought about her own words.

?It's the most dangerous state to be in, by definition.? She cut a grin over at Eri, then hesitated over pouring herself another shot of whiskey. ?Unless you're a vampiric thrillseeker, I guess. Racing the sunrise. Mooning paladins. Hanging around wood-carvers.?

Hearing that list of activities made Eri snicker, deciding against a third whiskey for the time being at least. She did get up to fetch a cola out of the icebox though, bringing another for Mal while she was at it. ?I guess thrill seeking is one way they might cope,? she piped in her singsong.

Jewell laughed, though it was more because she heard the tone of Mallory and Eri?s exchange than what they actually said. ?Yeah?? Her contribution to the conversation was at an end. It was an effort to focus on the here and now and people around her. She was counting down the minutes of her life. ?Think I over-extended myself bartending. Not as sharp as I used to be, maybe.? That was her only explanation before she moved towards the break in the bar. Remembering something at the last moment though, she pulled the true-silver cuff bracelet off her wrist and set it in front of Mallory. ?Thank you.? Then she was on the move, heading for the stool that held all her stuff.

Slender fingers closed around the bracelet, and murmured her thanks to Eri as she chased the soda. She wasn't looking at the jewelry yet, instead watching the fae as she retrieved her things. Until she glanced down at her payment, and its intricate design and tiny, shimmering stones, and realized how much it must be. "****ing *****!" Eri jumped in alarm a bit as she heard Mal?s exclamation. Then she was peering over to see what had brought on the surprised reaction. Her own eyes widened a bit at the jewelry.

Jewell grabbed her jacket, scarf, hat, all the winter gear but didn't bother to put it on. She only paused long enough to look over to Mallory at her reaction. ?It was my mother?s.? Might as well give it away. She was a goner anway. There was no way Ishmerai would make it back to RhyDin before Valentine?s Day no matter the promises the knight had offered to her.

She headed for the door, awkwardly pulling her jacket on as she went. It meant she dropped her gloves though. Jewell bent down, grabbing them off the floor before brushing past those at the door--careful not to touch them--and stepping out into the frigid night.

Cane twisted on the stool to watch Jewell?s hasty retreat. Brows furrowed, his gaze shifted from the faerie to Mallory. What just happened? Sal turned a concerned look on Jewell too. He had likewise totally missed something. Mallory frowned at the bracelet, and at Jewell?s retreating back... and finally put the trinket away. Biting her lower lip, frowning as she thought. She caught Eri with another quiet look, and then Cane.

?Mal,? Eri asked directly. ?Is she okay?? Mallory shook her head at Eri. Very slightly, but it was there. Eri stirred around a little on her seat again, the furrowing of her brow indicating some distress. Then her jaw took a firmer posture, expression becoming more determined. ?Well we have to do something then.?

Cane might've muttered the word ?stupid? somewhere while finishing off his first beer. Then he got off his stool and ambled over to Mallory, pulling out his wallet along the way. ?Give me that.? He meant the bracelet she?d put away--and no, he wasn't asking. Calloused fingers dug out several bills for compensation. Meanwhile, Salvador kept his ass firmly planted on his stool. Spine to edge of bar, elbows on the counter, staring at the door like he expected Jewell to come back in, or like he was seriously considering hunting her down to personally see if she was all right.

Cane actually caught Mallory just as she was hitting send on a text. ?Oh. I, uh -- I wasn't gonna --? Here. It was easier just to show him her screen.

Text to Sapphire: your here-mom misplaced one of her bracelets. I have it.
Text to Sapphire: I can give it to you next time we meet up

The blue haired faerie, away in a different dimension and time, replied while the phone was turned to Cane.

Text to Mallory: One, it's so cool this works even though I'm not there
Text to Mallory: Two, is it nice?
Text to Mallory: Think she'll notice if I keep it?
Text to Mallory: Pics please

His lips mashed together in a hard line, jaw tense as he scanned the screen. Cane grunted in response, but held his hand out for the trinket anyway. ?I'm going to find her now.? There was a brief pause where he remembered his manners, saying, ?Please??

Well, that sounded like his cue. Salvador slid off the seat of his stool, stood. He still had a beer in hand as he prowled sedately to the door, and out. He'd wait outside for the Cajun, and see then if Cane wanted him to tag along or not.

?Yeah.? Mallory gave her boss a trusting look as she dug out the bracelet, pressing it into his hand. ?Later... we can talk about it.? The back of his hand got a single, reassuring pat.

Even though he'd seen that Mallory intended to give the bracelet back, he still dropped a handful of bills on the counter beside her after stowing the bracelet in the inside pocket of his jacket. ?Thanks, Mal.? The witch let out a low whistle at the bills. These, at least, she wouldn't refuse. These were going straight into the mortgage. She folded them up, putting them away as long, purposeful strides carried Canaan to the door. ?We?ll talk later.? Confirmation for the girl on his way out to the Spaniard. They?d go capture a faerie together.

Hunting faeries is what Salvador was built for. He was totally down. More than happy to help, actually.

((Adapted from live play in the Red Dragon Inn on December 28, 2017. Many thanks to everyone who participate in this spontaneous scene.))

#35:  Author: Death of ManCan Be Found: RhyDin PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:51 am
December 30, 2017

Belladonna?s Christmas present came a few days late, but it was oh-so-sweet and worth the wait.

?So she thinks her time is running out already, does she??

?Yes,? the woman kneeling in front of her confirmed, head bowed. ?She sent her knight, Ishmerai, to Faerie over a week ago but has heard nothing of him. And it seems something has shaken her.?

?Why?? Belladonna asked sharply. ?Why did she send him there??

She shook her, ?I don?t know. To get something to help her heart, but she will not say what. But it has to be that. She keeps talking about when she is better, when she is stronger. That she will make her move eventually, but not yet. Not until Ishmerai returns. And whatever it is, the witch helped her figure it out. Mallory St. Martin??

?Yes, I know of the witch.? Belladonna smiled. Perhaps she should pay dear Mallory a visit.

?Ishmerai and the witch went to Faerie together. When they came back, he told us he was going away again. That we were to watch over his lady. Guard her with our lives. Keep her alive until he came back.?

?Mmm?? the faerie reclined on her sette, trailing her hand along the rich weave of the carpet. ?But she thinks time is running out?? she wondered out loud, musing over what that could mean. Her dear Jewellsie?s heart was ailing badly. Belladonna could already taste death around her when last they were together, but the woman had yet to make a move against her. What was she waiting for? What did she think was going to save her? ?Did she say when? When she thinks her time is up??

?She didn?t. She just said soon.? Despite some reservations, her sisters still had faith in the Empress. They were content to do nothing and let their enemies pick them off one by one all with the reassurance that soon Jewell would act in their behalf and bring an end to Belladonna and the Night Court.

Soon they would have their vengeance.

Soon they would be safe.

It wasn?t soon enough.

?I see. Thank you my pet. When the little Empress breathes her last, you shall have your reward for your assistance. This I promise.?

?Thank you? my queen.?

Belladonna dismissed the cowering House of Summer girl with a wave and turned to look for her knight hidden in the shadows of the room. ?Betel darling??

?Yes my queen??

?Find me The Seer. I would like to know what delights the New Year will bring me. And when.?

#36:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:26 pm
December 31, 2017

With a little nudge in the right direction from Janel, the Finder in her employ, Jewell sought Mallory in the Old Temple district library. She ran her fingers along the spine of a few passing books as she wandered down the quiet aisles after a reminder from the librarian that they were closing early today. It was New Year?s Eve afterall. Jewell had a handful of things to get done before the party tonight, and she hadn?t exactly slept last night thanks to Mathis (not that she minded that), but she kept her word in seeking out Mallory. She owed the witch thanks and more.

She found her kneeling among the stacks, accruing a tiny pile of books on Slavic folklore. Her head was bent to another one open in her lap, one finger curled to a passage as she quietly murmured her way through the Latin translation; on the facing page was an image of a majestic bird, its massive wings open and ablaze with a strange fire.

Jewell cleared her throat to give away her presence before leaning over to admire the picture of the bird, ?I?ve always felt a kinship with the phoenix myself.?

Mallory had heard someone approaching, though she was surprised to hear Jewell?s voice. She looked up at her and smiled faintly. ?I can see that.? She tapped her finger against the illustration and explained, ?Zhar-ptitsa, the firebird. Little different from the phoenix, but I wonder if it?s based on the same stories? and I told someone I?d try to figure that out. I probably should have charged her for it, but? here I am.?

Her eyes narrowed slyly, falling back to the book long enough to mark her place and put it away with the others. ?Maybe I?ll find a better way to conjure flames in these pages, and it?ll make the whole thing worthwhile? My little token,? dropping her thumb to the warped, smoky glass pendant on her necklace, ?can only do so much.?

?Or maaaaybe,? Jewell leaned carefully against the nearest shelves, ?some rich benefactor who probably owes you a lot of money will show up like in the folk tales and gift you something to replace the bracelet you returned??

The witch let the glass pendant fall against her collarbone and stood to face the faerie, silent for a long moment as she held Jewell?s gaze, though her expression was thoughtful, not challenging. ?It was your mother?s? That?s? not the kind of price I want to take from someone.?

Jewell nodded slowly, examining the toe of her boots before looking up to meet Mallory?s gaze. ?Thank you. I was not thinking clearly at the time.? She smiled faintly. It was an understatement. ?And now I found myself in your debt once more, Mallory. What would you have of me??

The witch turned her head to listen to the rest of the library. Paper shuffling at the front desk. Quiet footsteps downstairs and across the room. The same pair of bodies she?d seen in those places an hour ago. Still, she chose her words carefully. ?Safiya and I want to start a? kind of a bookstore, and a place of learning. I think we?ll call it the Lyceum. But property costs a lot of money? at least, to someone like me, and someone like her. Once this is done, and I?ve finished what I said I?m going to do for you? I?d like to start making preparations to open the Lyceum. Does that sound fair to you? Full ownership of a commercial property we can use to sell magical supplies, and take on a few students.?

Her teeth worked at the inside of her cheek, weighing the price of the tasks completed and in process with the cost being asked of her. There had to be a balance. ?Mal,? Jewell glanced around them and lowering her voice appropriately, ?you are trying to save my life and you have done me a service. I?m not sure that that would be enough -- ?

?The Vitaeum.? The witch leaned closer to the faerie now, meeting her gaze with an intensity she?d only shown her once before: when she asked to read the ancient tome of life and death among the first fae. ?One day I?m going to ask for it again, for my own ends, and I?d like you to lend it to me for as long as I need? no questions asked, no secrets shared.? Her eyes flared, and some of the intensity passed from her gaze, replaced by the gentle curve of a smile. To her, at least, it felt balanced: one eternal life for another. ?An arcane bookshop and the use of your family?s grimoire as my reward. Fair??

Jewell was uncomfortable with Mallory?s intensity, but this request would even the scales. She searched Mal?s face, her hesitation born out of worry for the witch. She had grown so much in the year of their acquaintance, and there she had so much potential. But she was young, and Jewell was genuinely concerned where this path would take her. ?Mallory,? she started, quietly and concerned, ?I will not deny you your request but is it really wise to meddle in such magic??

?No,? she said, ?except that the alternative is dying. I?ve already had a taste of that, and I?m not interested,? she added with a slow shake of her head. ?It won?t be today. I don?t think it will be a year from now. It could be in a few decades. But one day, when I?m ready, I want to use my blood magic to its full potential? circumvent death, without embracing undeath.?

Giving voice to the ambitions that had been lurking in the witch?s darkest dreams since she?d first spoken with the dead and seen what lay beyond made her pulse quicken and her mouth dry, but it curled her empty hands into determined fists because it made so much sense. After everything she had seen, and what she would be capable of in the years to come, she could not imagine it coming to anything else.

Undeath. Theo?s offer replayed in Jewell?s mind: ?I?d much rather give you a new life and keep you forever.? With a sigh, the faerie slid down to the ground, her back pressed against the stack of books behind her. She looked up, staring at the ceiling. There must have been a water leak at some point; the tiles were stained. ?Yeah, dying is a bit of a drag isn?t it??

Jewell had tasted death so many times now, and with the great lengths she had gone through to avoid it, what right did she have to prevent Mallory from doing the same one day? When she looked back at Mallory, her grey eyes were still troubled but she had relented. ?He?ll be seriously upset and impossible to live with if you get yourself killed trying something from that grimoire.? The knight was rather protective of the young woman.

The witch sank to a kneel again, bringing her face to Jewell?s level. ?He?ll be impossible to deal with if either of us kick off for any reason,? she said, and held out a hand to her as she gave her an imploring look. ?But neither of us has to die.?

?Perhaps.? Jewell was sure that at least one of them didn?t have to die. She offered her hand out to take Mallory?s, shaking it firmly. ?You can have your shop and the loan of the grimoire regardless of how this turns out. If it doesn?t work, it won?t be your fault.? She hadn?t asked her lover to kill her.

?If it doesn?t work, I?ll feed Belladonna?s heart to the pigs instead.? Despite the macabre declaration, the smile that Mallory gave Jewell was almost playful. ?We owe her at least that much.?

?You know,? the faerie laughed, ?it?d almost be worth dying again just to make that happen.?

((Co-written with my favorite witch!))

#37:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:11 pm
January 2, 2018

He had left a key for her downstairs. Jewell tucked it into her coat pocket, choosing to knock on the hotel room door instead. She leaned close to it, purring in her most sultry voice, ?Room service for Lord T?n?bres.?

Theo pulled open the door and stood aside for her. She stepped into the lavish suite, ignoring the goosebumps that raced down her arms when he closed the door and clicked the lock behind her. ?I knew you?d change your mind about getting drinks at the bar first,? she shrugged out of her jacket, throwing it on the chair in the small foyer and turning to smile at him.

The backhand caught her on her cheek and she stumbled back in her black high heels. The only thing that kept her on her feet at all was years of training in the Duel of Fists and an unfortunate history of abuse. Even still, such experience only went so far. Jewell saw stars and gasped in surprise and pain, leaning forward and cupping her hand to her cheek. Theo was kindred. He was physically stronger than she was even at full health.

She looked at her hand. He had made her bleed. ?What??

The scent of her blood stoked his simmering anger into a jealous rage. Jewell was just straightening up to face him when he wrapped his hand around her throat, pinning her back against the closet door so that it rattled loudly. ?Why were you at the rave with him??

She clawed at his hand, panic momentarily overcoming reason at the sudden lack of oxygen. She had made a clear tactical error. Th?odore T?n?bres was a monster in a man?s skin. A territorial monster. Of course showing up publicly with Sinjin at a party of the kindred had enraged him, and it had nothing to do with the trouble they had caused together or the fact that she was even there. It was that she was there with the darling Sinner when she was so clearly marked as his own.

She struggled to think of a response, something to charm him out of his anger and soothe his rage, but only came up with a distressed, gasping sound. He shoved her back against the closet door again, cracking the wood, before letting her go. Jewell sunk to the floor, wheezing painfully, trying to remember how to breathe at the same time as she struggled to restrain herself from tearing him apart right then and there. It would be so easy. He had fed recently enough that she could feel the blood coursing through his body, calling to her. She could grab hold of it, ripping him to pieces and showering the hotel room in the lifeblood he had stolen.

And in return, she would bring the full anger of the Night Court down upon herself.

That thought stayed her hand. It was too early in the game. She would have to kill him later. Right now, she had to survive.

He grabbed her by her arm and yanked her to her feet before shaking her. ?Did you hear me?? He was likely shouting at her the whole time, but she didn?t have a clue what he had said. Her head was pounding, her throat hurt, her heart beat unevenly in her chest, and his fingers were pressing painfully into her bicep as he shook her again. ?Did he charm you??

?Yes, of course he charmed me,? she snapped at him. ?By being a gentleman and not a ****ing bastard like you.?

Theo actually laughed, ?Ahh there?s my feisty little faerie.? He let go of her, planting his forearm against the closet door above her head to trap her in a smooth, predatory lean instead. ?Did this mean old bastard hurt you, angel?? He seemed to enjoy the thought.

?You did,? Jewell responded stiffly, twisting her head as if looking away from him in anger. It had the planned effect of putting the new cut along her cheekbone on prominent display.

?I?m sorry.? Gently now, he used his thumb to brush a bit of blood from her cheek, examining it curiously. ?You just drive me crazy, you know? You?re so?? he licked the blood off his finger, savoring the taste of her with a shiver, ?delicious.?

The faerie smiled as if pacified and even pleased by his apology--it was a shame she likely couldn?t kill a vampire through strangulation because that would be so satisfying--and tilted her head to kiss him, ignoring the taste of her own blood on his lips. He growled low against her mouth, pinning her back against the closet door.

His desire was a start, but she needed something more from him. She needed to bewitch him so thoroughly and completely that he forgot all about the New Year?s incident and that he?d ever heard the name Sinjin Fai. She needed to keep him hooked long enough to bring the Night Court crashing down around him. Jewell broke her lips away from his, catching the outer curve of his ear playfully with her teeth and (incidentally) exposing her slender throat to him before offering in a breathy whisper, ?If I?m so delicious, why don?t you try a little taste??

He groaned and without any hesitation, his mouth was at her throat, teeth grazing the bruises already forming there. The bruises he had given her.

She didn?t care about those though.

She didn?t care about anything once he Kissed her.

#38:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 2:17 pm
January 3, 2018

?Angel,? he whispered reverential and confused, ?what did you do to me??

?Mmm?? Jewell half turned in the king size bed and looked blearily at Th?odore sitting on the edge of it, staring down at his hands. She snuggled right back down against her pillow again, her head spinning. She felt terrible this morning. Her limbs were weak and heavy and her heart beat a tremulously. It was all worth it though. ?I thought you would recognize a blood bond when you felt one, Teddy,? she admonished sleepily.

?A blood bond?? he echoed in disbelief. ?How is that possible??

Apparently, they were having this conversation now. With a noise of frustration, Jewell rolled over to face him, propping herself up on an elbow with her cheek cradled in the palm of her hand. ?Darling, you really should do your research before you start ****ing with a faerie let alone Kissing one.?

She was lucky that it had worked on the first try. It had been a game of chance with some serious risks, notably that he wouldn?t stop feeding on her once he started, but Mallory?s divination had given her reasonable assurance that she would survive his Kiss. He could have gone into torpor though, or decorated the room with blood as he vomited everywhere, or suffered from hallucinations like the last person that had dared Kiss her. She wondered idly what had happened to the Rose as she watched understanding dawn on Theo?s handsome features.

?No,? he shook his head numbly. ?No, this can?t be. My father? he will be furious.?

?Oh yeah, huh?? Jewell flopped onto her back, grinning at the ceiling. ?That?s a real bummer.?

He didn?t seem to hear the amusement in her tone as he stood and made his way around the room in a distracted manner, collecting his clothes. ?I have to go. This is? this is??

Beyond perfect, she thought. Good luck trying to break a blood bond with a s?dhe, bitch. You?re mine now.

#39:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:36 pm
January 7, 2018

?What do you mean you haven?t made plans yet?? The way Sapphire swung the chef knife around in exasperation was almost comical. At least she wasn?t crying anymore. There had been a bad moment earlier when Jewell had revealed to her what Mallory had divined--?The last heartbeat of the very last second of the Feast of Saint Valentine.?--but the girl bounced back quick. ?What is wrong with you??

Jewell was sitting on one of the kitchen bar stools, watching the young woman at work. She?d been in the house less than two hours and already the pantry was restocked, there was a pan of banana bread in the oven, and Sapphire was chopping up vegetables to add to the two pots of soup on the stove. ?I didn?t see the point in planning anything yet,? Jewell admitted somewhat begrudgingly. The Empress did not owe this feisty young woman (or anyone else) an explanation or justification even if she was wielding a large knife, but it was nice to have someone to confide in once more. ?There?s not much time. If he doesn?t come back with the basin--?

?Mother of Nature,? she brushed some blue hair back out of her face with her forearm before continuing to chop a row of carrots with extra vigor, ?have some faith in the man, will you? He?ll be back. And that crazy bitch isn?t just going to hand over her heart if we ask for it, so we?ve gotta make some plans.?

Jewell fell silent, unwilling to argue and somewhat abashed at Sapphire?s reproof because it was true. She had lost faith. It wasn?t all at once, but little by little it had been chipped away from her. But the knight had promised: ?I will be back. Nothing can stop me from returning to you.? He had promised to help her last year too before he had been blown to pieces by a bomb, but she was trying not to hold that against him.

?Ugh fine, I guess we can make some plans,? she finally conceded, slumping forward, her elbows supporting her on the counter. Sapphire would surely excuse her lack of excitement; she had made plans last year to save her life, and that clearly hadn?t turned out so well.

?Woohoo! Plan time! I?ll start.? She dumped the carrots into one of the pots, wiped her hands off on her apron, and grabbed a pen. Grabbing the notebook she had used to make a shopping list earlier, she tore off the top sheet and tossed it in the trash. ?You stir, I write,? she instructed the faerie, leaning forward on the counter.

?So demanding!? Still, Jewell dragged herself off the stool and came around the counter peninsula, grabbing one of the wooden spoons next to the stove. ?Just stir??

?Yep, just stir. I don?t trust you to do anything else.? Sapphire started writing, penning TEAM AWESOME across the top of the fresh notebook page in giant letters. ?Gimme the names. Who do we got? Who?s the dream team that?ll willingly go toe-to-toe with the other Jewell? Canaan? Salvador?? She was already jotting down their names without waiting for confirmation: Scary Sal and Green Man.

Jewell stirred the pot of soup distractedly (this is why no one let her cook), thinking. It was a similar question to what she had asked herself last year when faced with the threat of her true name being used: who was skilled enough and strong enough and brave enough (or *** crazy) to face a s?dhe in a fight? ?I guess Sal? but things are weird between Canaan and I right now.?

?Then un-weird them.? Duh!

She shook her head, ?It?s not that simple.?

Sapphire rolled her eyes, ?You?ll have to update me on your nocturnal activities and all the intricacies later. Right now, we?re busy trying to save your life and Canaan is on the list. Who else do we got??

?Mallory will have to be involved to some degree.?

?Right. Duh.? Badass Witch joined the list and was quickly followed by a doodle of a heart and Eri. ?All the Summer girls too, right??

?Yeah, probably.? House of Summer was added to the list. ?Don?t forget Issy, of course.?

?Oh, she?d never forgive us for that,? Sapphire laughed.

?And Sinjin too.?

?Oh yeah?? Sapphire arched a brow at Jewell as she wrote Mighty Isuelt on the paper. ?You trust him that much already??

Jewell shrugged, switching the wooden spoon to her other hand so she could keep stirring, somewhat suspicious that Sapphire given her busy work to do since the soup didn?t seem to be benefitting from all this stirring. ?I trust him.?

?Oookay,? she strung the word, clearly unconvinced, but jotted his name down anyway: Sexy Sin. ?Just remember that the last guy you trusted with your life got us into this mess.?

#40:  Author: Death of ManCan Be Found: RhyDin PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:21 pm
January 8, 2018

Belladonna was slouched on a chair, listening to the wind whistle and hiss through the broken glass panes. The offices of House of Summer Inc. had seen better days. The windows had been smashed, and what little office furniture left behind had been piled in the center of the lofty space and burned a few weeks ago. Earlier, she had cleared out the riff raff fae that had been squatting in the space and given her knight strict instructions that she was not to be disturbed. She needed to think.

And yet? ?My queen??

?What is it??

?A message for you.?

She sighed. Being a queen was so tedious sometimes. ?This better be important.?

?The girl is here. In the city.?

She suddenly perked up, spinning her swivel chair around to face the chitinous knight. ?Is she now? Well well?? That was a pretty solution to her current problems. The lord of the Night Court was being rather difficult these days all because of that pathetic son of his. He was furious at what Jewell had done. On the other hand, Belladonna was actually a little jealous that she hadn?t thought of attempting to blood bond the boy to her. It was a masterful stroke, really. A move deserving of admiration.

And to repaid in kind.

?What do you think, Betel darling? Perhaps we should have her for dinner while she?s in town.?

#41:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:01 pm
January 9, 2018

?Remember -- no carnitas on the first date!?

?Or refried beans,? Sapphire laughed, spinning about on the heel of her boot. ?Tell Eri she has to come with us next time, okay? And maybe we?ll hit up the Dragon later this week.? The witch?s shouted reply was lost in the rumble of a passing truck as Sapphire turned the corner, heading towards the sanatorium entrance tucked between a seamstress shop and Gadgets and Gears in Old Market.

She hummed a few notes of the music that had been playing in the restaurant, dreaming up a way to incorporate the vibrant, mariachi beats into the fantasy-rock tunes she usually played and wondering if she should text the waiter who had jotted his number down for her. He was pretty cute, and she was going to be in town a few days.

By the time she reached the passthrough between Grant Ave. and West Market, she had decided on texting him. She pulled out her phone, pausing a moment to find the receipt with his number on it. ?Six. Seven. Five?? she read off, entering it in her phone and moving again. She only paused when she heard the sound of footsteps behind her and the hairs on the back of her neck raised. She glanced back. No one was there.

?Judith?? The brunette from House of Summer was supposed to be tailing her tonight. ?Sammy?? Nothing. That was a little unsettling. Sapphire rolled her shoulders, focusing on her text message as she stepped out onto West Market and looked up.

?Hello poppet,? Belladonna smiled at her.

Sapphire hit send.


Having had enough socializing for one week after her foray into the Inn and Annex last night, Jewell opted to stay home for the night, curling up in the corner of the couch in the living room. Like most nights, every single light was blazing bright as she poured over some trashy romance novel Sapphire had insisted she read. It was pretty entertaining. As she turned the page, a blush stole over her cheeks. Fabio was hott--even if she wasn?t a fan of elves these days--with his long, flowing hair and finely toned pectorals. Maybe she needed to finish this in the bathtub with a glass of wine.

Her comm device buzzed on the table next to her.

Text from Little Blue: Help. Old Market door.


She was barefoot, wearing the jeans and ?I Do Believe in Faeries? t-shirt she had been in all day. The bitter taste of medicine was on her tongue and her heart beat wildly inside her chest: This is foolish. This is foolish. This is foolish. It didn?t matter. Sapphire needed her, and going out there to save her would not mean Jewell?s death. Not tonight. Mallory?s divination gave her a sense of security.

It also made her reckless.

?I thought you said Old Market!? Lavanya shouted at her, running to keep up as Jewell dashed down the hall.

She ignored her, touching the Dragon?s Gate door, checking to see if anyone was on the other side, before yanking it open and stepping out into the freezing night. Lavanya hovered in the doorway behind her, watching. Checking her phone for Sapphire?s location, Jewell slipped it into her back pocket and then reached up, tearing apart the Veil like tissue paper.

She looked back at the blonde, ?I don?t want them to see me coming.?

Then she stepped through.

#42:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:14 pm
West Market Street was normally empty once the shops and stalls closed down for the day. Tonight, it was seeing some after-hours action. There were four fae standing in a loose circle and another dead on the ground along with a single canine c?-sith, circling the group and growling, eager for a bite. There was a knight in chitinous armor facing a blue haired young woman, beating her back with a broadsword. The girl was holding her own with the long, iron-tipped axe in her hand, but there were cuts on her face, arms, and legs.

And there was one bitch of a s?dhe, dancing around the pair: cheering on the knight and pushing the girl closer to her opponent when she strayed too far. ?What?re you going to do, girlie? She?s going to get you! She?s going to get you!?

Belladonna was only aware of Jewell half a second before anyone else noticed her stepping out from Elsewhere and into the fray. She was mid-turn when the knife, palmed as quick as magic, was driven into the mad s?dhe?s side. ?No!? Betel shouted, turning her attention from Sapphire and turning her blade on Jewell instead.

Sapphire exploited the opening as soon as she saw it, her axe humming, the energy blade igniting as she drove it deep into the knight?s exposed back. Betel dropped to the ground with a grunt, freeing Jewell to turn her attention to Belladonna?s four fae lackeys. She caught Sapphire?s eye as she did. Run. The young woman hesitated for just a moment before taking off.

?After her!? Belladonna ordered the c?-sith, hissing as she pulled the knife from her side. The hound growled and shot forward to chase down the girl.

Jewell flung her hand outwards in response, seizing control of its massive body as it leapt past her and tossing it against the nearest building, cracking brick and mortar. It fell to the ground hard, and a pile of rubble fell on top of it. ?Keep your ****ing hands off my daughter.?

Every act of magic felt like it shaved years off her life, and the rapid beat of her heart was the music for her deadly dance. Jewell performed a violent piroutte, turning and ducking to avoid the first fae coming at her. His razor tipped claws caught her face as they passed. At such close proximity, the thin beam of energy she shot neatly through his gut like a bullet sprayed blood across the night and dropped the unseelie fae to the ground. Halfway through her turn, she rose up and seized the blood inside the other two fae coming near, ripping them apart in a shower of vitae. Almost done with her spin, she pulled the blood out of the air as it fell, forming it into a frozen short sword with which she cut down the fourth and final fae even as he scored a shallow cut across her ribs.

Coming full circle, Jewell finished her dance with the sword of blood still in hand, facing Belladonna in momentary triumph.

?Get her,? she growled to the c?-sith that had returned to her side, injured and all the more vicious because of it.

***. The sword melted back to blood and fell to the ground as Jewell turned and ran for the door. She had nothing left inside her. She was burnt out. Her iron-poisoned heart screamed, matching the howl of the c?-sith as it chased her. With her every step, a bramble grew up behind her from the cobblestones to snag and tear at the creature, but that barely slowed it down. The great hound was so much faster than she was. Jewell turned a corner, the door now only a straightaway ahead, just as its teeth caught the back of her shirt. The violent jerk of its head sent her off balance and she fell, slamming into the curb. The hound snarled and pounced, crushing her petite frame beneath its girth and digging its long claws into her shoulders.

She screamed.

?I?m coming, darling!? Belladonna?s laughter filled the night from around the corner in answer. ?Take a little bite if you must, puppy dear!?

The c?-sith growled low as it bared its teeth at her, eager to take more than a little bite. Jewell struggled uselessly and then closed her eyes as its fangs grazed the skin at her throat. There was a sudden woosh, and then only the cool breeze tickled her skin.

She opened her eyes.

The headless corpse of the c?-sith was slumped against her, and Sapphire was standing there, blood dripping from the end of her axe. ?Get her up,? the young woman shouted, spinning the pole-arm in the air, waiting for whoever was coming next. Lavanya and Haizea were on either side of her, pulling her free from beneath the c?-sith and up to her feet.

As soon as she was steady, they let go and gripped the hilts of the weapons at their sides, ready for a fight as Bella came around the corner.

?Go,? Jewell ordered them, shoving Sapphire and Lavanya back away from her and towards the door. No one hesitated this time, but they kept the Empress in front of them as all four dashed the remaining yards to the Old Market entrance.

?Here I cooooooome,? the unseelie s?dhe shouted gleefully, laughing. She was on their heels as they crashed through the door.

Jewell went last and practically slammed it in her face, collapsing back against it. It?s over. Just breathe.

The doorknob turned.

?No!? the faerie shouted in horror. She twisted around to slam her hands, slick with blood, up against the wood. On the other side, Belladonna pushed back. ?No no no no no,? Jewell pushed all her weight into it, her bare feet having trouble finding purchase on the tile floors.

The door opened an inch.

?I?m going to huff. And puff. And blow your door down Jewellsie!? Bella?s lilting voice came from the other side.

?Over my ****ing dead body.?

With sheer force of will, Jewell slammed the door shut again.

The Old Market portal collapsed.

#43:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:37 pm
They sat on the broad stairs of the sanatorium next to each other. The second floor corridor was a mess of dust and broken stone in the wake of the portal collapsing. Haizea was gathering the girls in the basement while Lavanya was out with Janel, trying to locate Samantha and Judith. They were supposed to be tailing Sapphire tonight. They were supposed to keep her safe.

No one had heard from them in hours.

?Mallory said she?s okay,? Sapphire reported, stretching her legs out so she could slip her phone back into her pocket. Somehow, it had survived her fight with the fae knight.


?You know you?re still bleeding, right??

?I know.? Her blood was leaving burn marks along her skin as it dripped down her face, throat, arms, and torso. That was probably not a good sign, but she would worry about it later. All that mattered was that she hadn?t died and that she had saved Sapphire. Jewell wasn?t ready to consider the damage she had done to herself just yet.

?I don?t have to go just yet.? She offered out casually. ?I could stick around, help patch you up. Then we could watch a movie, make sure you fall asleep and get some rest.? Jewell just shook her head, and she knew the argument was lost. She looked down at her blood and dust splattered sneakers. ?I just? how am I supposed to leave you? Who?s going to take care of you??

Jewell stared at the wall, ?I?ll be fine.?

The young woman shook her head. ?No. You need to be more than fine. You?ve got to survive this.?

Jewell sighed, ?Sapphire, I--?

?I don?t care how bad it all seems. Just promise me you?ll survive. Promise me that you?ll do anything to survive.?

Twenty minutes ago, she had been choking on her fear of losing this girl. This girl with her blue hair and her blue eyes and quirky personality and sass. This girl who was more stubborn than both her parents combined but who also had a bigger heart than anyone she knew. Her girl. She couldn?t deny her anything. Not now. Not when she was so relieved to have her sitting there right next to her. Jewell nodded, not thinking about the consequences of her words: ?I promise. I will survive this. No matter what.?

Sapphire wrapped her up in a firm hug, pressing a kiss to her hair. ?Thank you.?

Jewell couldn?t bear to turn and watch her go up the stairs. She didn?t have the strength to watch her leave. She was still sitting there staring straight ahead at the wall when Lavanya returned with Janel at her side some time later.

?Samantha?s dead. We found her body near the marketplace. Drained of blood. Her phone was still on her.?

She wasn?t surprised to find that the Night Court had their hand in this attack. ?And Judith??

Lavanya and Janel looked between each other. It was the Finder that spoke, ?She?s in Little Elfhame.?

Something cold settled in Jewell?s stomach. ?Bring her to me. Now.?


It was after midnight when the girls returned with their wayward sister.

The trial was held immediately in one of the training rooms in the basement. It was a small affair. The remaining girls of Summer stood around the edges of the room, silent witnesses to this treachery. The condemned was left to kneel upon the floor before the Empress she once served. The little s?dhe, covered in blood and dust and trembling uncontrollably, was judge here.

And executioner.

Judith raised her face to look at Jewell: defiant and angry. ?You are not my queen to summon me here like this.?

?No,? Jewell shook her head. Exhaustion beckoned but anger kept her going. Fury kept her on her feet. The bite of betrayal kept her sharp. ?I am not though you once swore your loyalty to me. Your queen is in Little Elfhame this evening, isn?t she? Licking the wounds I inflicted upon her. Five of her minions dead. One of her vile hounds gone. Her knight wounded. Even she was wounded. And yet you wish to still hide behind her??

Judith looked down and said nothing.

?You betrayed your sisters, Judith.? Jewell gestured to the women lining the walls of the room. ?You lead your sister Samantha to her death. You betrayed Ishmerai, your knight commander who trained you all these years. You betrayed me, who rescued you from the brothel you called home, and then you put my daughter?s life in danger this evening. You handed her over to them to be killed. Or worse.? She paused, ?I want to know why.?

?Why?? Judith asked incredulously, her head shooting up. ?Why? Because of you! Look at you! You can?t protect us. You can?t protect anyone. You fight one night and look at you.? Judith gestured to the Empress--injured and exhausted. ?You told us to wait? but for what? Wait for death to come for us like it?s coming for you?? she sneered. ?No. I won?t. I have a family to protect. My daughter--? she suddenly hesitated. ?I did it for her. I did it for Daphne.? Tears gathered in her eyes. ?Don?t you understand? I did it for her!?

Jewell nodded slowly, ?Yes, I do understand. You have a family to protect. So do I.?

It was quick. The knife was summoned to her hand with a thought, and she opened Judith?s throat with a swipe of it before she could even think to cry out for mercy. Her green eyes widened and her hands sought to stem the flow of blood, but death was standing right in front of her.

Judith met her there on the stone cold floor of the sanatorium.

#44:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:56 am
January 10, 2018

It was closer to three a.m. than two when Jewell showed up on Sinjin?s doorstep: battered and reeking of blood. Most of it was hers now; she had washed the remains of the fae she had killed off along with the dirt and grime of the fight before patching herself up as much as necessary--her shoulders, her ribs, the long series of cuts that fortunately skipped over her left eye. She should have been sleeping, likely for the next two weeks if she wanted to even dream of recovering after all she had done last night, but two minutes sitting on the couch in her empty loft had been too long. Instead, she had made the walk over to the Deadwood despite his warning.

She didn?t go inside though. The adrenaline from the fight was wearing off, leaving exhaustion in its wake, and in that exhaustion, Jewell found it harder than normal to keep herself together and muster up that bold confidence she preferred to project to the world.

Text to Sin: Can I come in?

The vibrating of his phone snapped him from his thoughts -- though thoughts would be a generous term. He was vibrating with a mix of energy and exhaustion from maintaining such a deep and powerful illusion that was only partially satisfied by the violence he exerted afterward. There was nothing left of them now -- the two kindred were little more than dust on the wind outside and the Deadwood was abandoned as even Kaavi had escaped for safer spaces.

Sinjin, however, was not so keen on abandonment. A singular glance at his phone to see the name was all it took to make the kindred rise to his feet and head for the door and down the stairs. He could have texted her back and invite her inside -- what a fae thing to do -- but instead he was possessed to see her in the flesh before anything else.

And he did: his steps slowed as he went down the ruined staircase to the broken front door where she was, in all her injury and glory, and for a moment he said nothing. He looked at her, his brows drawn together in a look of critical observation as he came near. He smelled of blood and smoke and ash as he reached, his heavily scarred hands moving to gently cup her jaw as he leaned in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. She was safe and so was he.

Her grey eyes ate him up as he came down the stairs, the tightness in her chest easing a little to see him there: whole and unharmed. And if she tensed for just a moment when he kissed her forehead--as if her whole body expected an iron shiv to follow the gesture--it was like it never even happened when, heedless of the injuries to her shoulders, she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face against him.

Inhaling the scent of the evening clinging to him, she demanded: ?Tell me you?re okay.? Put it into words and make it true.

He felt the tension roll through her and though he did not ask or speak of it, the sinner made a mental notation: there was something more to that. But that was a thought for later. Instead, his fingers slid up and into her hair, cradling her head against his shoulder as his other arm circled around her, holding her close. ?I?m here,? he murmured, his lips close to her ear and thick with the accent of his native tongue. ?I?m safe. You?re safe.? His words were a quiet reassurement there in the cold of the early morning, the world gone still in the wake of violence.

Her own safety was rarely of any concern for the faerie, but she would never forgive herself for putting anyone she cared about in danger--even if some of them maybe enjoyed it. He was okay though, which meant everything (for the moment) was okay. Jewell released a breath she didn?t realize she was holding along with a little more of that heart-squeezing feeling that had been suffocating her ever since she received Sapphire?s text earlier in the evening.

?Did you kill them?? He left them unnamed, but knew one thing was certain: Jewell was as capable as himself, if not more so, and if someone imposed their ire on her or her children, he could not imagine a place where the Empress would allow them to leave intact.

She remained there--still, close, and safe in the magic that seemed to spring up between and around them--counting the bodies in her head. ?Four of them,? she confirmed as if he had asked if she had picked up bread at the store. Four lives taken as if they were nothing. They were nothing. Nameless nobodies that had dared to touch someone she loved. ?I need the other one alive still, but I made her bleed.? It wasn?t enough, but it would have to be for now. Later, she?d take her heart.

?Good girl.? Sinjin seemed satisfied with that answer, a dark edge to his smile as he pressed another kiss to her temple, lingering close. He seemed to be debating something in the silence that followed, but when he eventually spoke again, it was as he slowly released her from his embrace, though his hand sought her own. ?I can hide us here tonight, if you wish it.? No one would find them. He had enough energy left in him for that. ?You can rest. You need it, ruise?or.? A moment of peace before what he did not doubt would be her next war.

?And you can tell me how I can help you.? He squeezed her fingers just so, an undeniable curiosity and want for violence in his eyes. Sinjin did not abide cruelty to those he cared for, much less an invasion of his home, however foolishly planned.

Jewell looked down at their hands, linked together. She should refuse his offer. She shouldn?t have even come here and gotten him involved, but it was too late. Sin was involved. He wanted to be involved, and she didn?t have the heart to tell him no even if it meant telling him all the things that had silently existed, shoved aside and ignored, the last few weeks as they played pretend.

In some ways, she wanted to tell him: this man who held her hand and did not hesitate to offer her his help. A perfect partner in crime. When she looked up at him, her smile promised all the violence he could ever want and more. ?Yes, we should talk.?

((Written with the lovely Sinjin-player. Thank you!))

#45:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:37 pm
January 11, 2018

Jewell threw open the door to the private lounge deep within Pulse. It was a club catering exclusively to the kindred elite in the city, but the faerie had cut through the crowd and other obstacles unhindered to get here. Even with the jagged line of deep cuts marching across her face, she was charming and few could resist the glamour hidden along the curve of her lips.

Inside the room were half a dozen kindred lounging, drinking, schmoozing, plotting. The air was thick with smoke--cigarettes and incense--and the table at the center of the small lounge was littered with bottles of alcohol and glasses.

Reclined on a couch at the center was the man she sought. ?Everyone out,? she ordered.

Shock and surprise rippled through the room, one woman tittered with laughter, but Th?odore sat up straight and dismissed them, ?You heard my lady, get out.?

There were grumbles and ill favoured looks cast in her direction, but the room cleared quickly. She waited until the door clicked shut. ?You ****ing bastard.?

?It?s nice to see you too, my angel.? He grinned, rising to meet her, ?I?ve missed you very much.?

?How dare you? How dare you--?

?I knew you would come,? he interrupted mildly. ?Though I wish you didn?t look so cross with me. You should be happy, no? Your filthy Ravnos scum is unharmed. Although,? he came closer, reaching to touch her face and looking displeased, ?you are not.?

She smacked his hand away. ?Don?t touch me and don?t you ever touch any of my friends again.?

He looked contemplatively down at his hand where their hands had just met. An edge crept into his tone, ?You ask this of me when you give me nothing but your scorn in return.?

It was true. She hadn?t given him anything at all since he had become bound to her. He had hounded her every day for a week with notes, flowers, invitations for dinner, and a truly terrible series of love poems. He wanted to see her. Needed to be with her. He didn?t desire anyone else. In return, she had rebuffed his every attempt, leading him along and driving him crazy, keeping just out of reach and flaunting her influence over him. It was cruel and oh-so-fun and she had no doubt that he deserved all the pain it caused him and more.

Jewell?s chin came up haughtily, her voice cold. ?I?m not asking. You owe your loyalty to me now, and I don?t owe you anything in return.?

The change in him was instantaneous. ?YOU DO!? he roared at her. To her credit, Jewell did not flinch back. She stood, rooted in place by the strength that sustained her through all her trials. ?You do owe me! You? you created this bond!? He gestured between them, raving madly. ?And now you deny me? You deny me day after day after day. You don?t know what it?s done to me. I can?t sleep. Nothing satisfies me. No one! They all taste like ash in my mouth.?

?You?re blaming me? This is your fault, and I--?

He didn?t even hear her as he began to pace back and forth in his agitation, his hands in his hair, pulling at the roots. ?And I knew you would come. I knew! If we took out that trash, I knew you would be here. But not because of me. You care nothing for me. It?s because of him.? The thought seemed to only drive him more wild. ?Why not me? I love you! I would do anything for you. I could fix all your problems. I would make you my queen! Yet you spurn me. You turn to him! And you torture me so. Look? look at what you?ve done to me!? He had certainly seen better days. Beneath the artifice of his fine clothes was a gauntness to his face and a pallor to his skin she had not seen before and a savage, desperate light in his green eyes.

?Do you see? DO YOU?? He closed the distance between them faster than she could move, grabbing her face. ?LOOK AT ME!? She had no choice in the matter as he squeezed her face, quieter now, ?All I can think about is you. I want--? This close, he could smell the blood on her. The heavy bandages on her shoulders were hidden by her jacket, and she hadn?t bothered to glamour the injuries away. Couldn?t. There was iron in her body. It burned her a little more every day, making even the slightest magic more difficult. It wouldn?t matter even if she had. The predator in him had caught the scent now. His eyes darkened before closing and he took a deep, shuddering breath.

?Teddy,? she warned, but it was too late. The blood bond had been needling at him all week. He couldn?t resist it. Didn?t want to. As always, Jewell played only the most dangerous games. It was his move now. He trapped her wrist in a vice grip when she tried to shove him away and then his mouth was on hers, teeth biting her lower lip hard enough to draw the delicious blood that was all he craved.

There was cold iron around her wrists to keep her still, but she wasn?t going to move anyway. She couldn?t move. Her body wasn?t her own. It was theirs, and they could do whatever they wanted with it. ?Come on, you stupid faerie bitch. Why don?t you moan again for me like the dirty whore you are?? the faceless Temple acolyte taunted before kissing her. He tasted like cheap beer and stale cigarettes, and his hands were rough against the smooth skin of her thigh?


Unlike before, her body was her own, but she still moved as if possessed. Seconds passed in a haze, and she was only vaguely aware of leaning over Teddy, who was sprawled back on the couch, a charred mark on his shirt the shape of her hand. And she was punching him over and over again. It felt so good. She poured all her rage into him. His face was a mess, her hands were covered in a mixture of their blood, and still she kept hitting him.

Then there were hands roughly pulling her off him.

She punched them too. She hit them, smacked them, flailed against them all like the wild thing she was. Distantly, she heard Teddy shouting, ?Stop it! You?re hurting her.? But it was too late. Jewell seized the blood in the freshly fed kindred on her left and sent him flying back against the wall. She turned to face the one on the right, hand reaching for the knife sheathed at her back, when her heart gave a little twist.

The world came into painful focus as she doubled over, her hand going to her chest instead of her weapon. No. No no no no no. Not now. Please not now. Not when she was in the middle of a ****ing vampire den and she had just beat the *** out of several of them. Sweat trickled down her face, and her blue hair clung to her skin. She was aware now of the scent of blood thick in the air, overpowering the cigarette smoke and the stick of incense singing the rug. She must have knocked it over when she attacked Teddy.

She couldn?t breathe--the weight of the entire city was on her chest, stealing the breath from her lungs every time she tried--but the buzz of angry voices filled the room. They were shouting, arguing with one another. And then there was Teddy. ?Angel? Angel? Can you hear me?? He was standing right in front of her. ?What did you do to her?? He growled at his companions.

Jewell flinched back. ?Don?t touch me!?

He reached for her, gentle and loving once more. ?Let me help you.?

She staggered, retreating out of reach. ?I said don?t touch me! Don?t you ever touch me again. Just stay away from me. I don?t want anything to do with you.?

He looked stricken. Horrified. ?But? but I need you! What am I supposed to do without you??

?Starve,? she hissed before turning for the door, shoving past the only kindred who thought to get in her way.

She left the nightclub on her own, and woe to anyone who tried to stop her.

#46:  Author: Death of ManCan Be Found: RhyDin PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:28 pm
January 14, 2018

?What went wrong??

Belladonna sat across the table from Earl T?n?bres. She had put this meeting off for almost a week, insisting she was healing from the wound Jewell had inflicted upon her. Truthfully, it just didn?t seem like much fun to meet with the lord of the Night Court. He was an unpleasant person, and he didn?t glance at her ample cleavage once! ?Well?? she drew out the word sharply, ?I was trying to get the girl for you.?

?Yes,? Earl sighed, ?but you had to play with her first, didn?t you? Bella, Bella? you have lost sight of our goal.?

?Your goal,? she snapped. She was a queen and she was not going to let a nasty creature like the Earl lecture her. ?It was payback and a present for you.? Her smile was mocking, taunting him, ?You know, for what she did to your wittle baby boy. Besides,? she leaned back languorously in her seat, ?I thought it would be fun to make her cry.?

?Your desire to toy with her is inconsequential and dangerous at this point.? He was grinding his teeth again. It amused her to see him struggle with his restraint. If only he would take a swipe at her. Then she could tear him into itty bitty pieces. ?The game has changed, Belladonna. We need to know what she is playing at. We cannot allow her to win. You will need to find out what she is doing.?

Belladonna sighed. ?Of course we can?t let her win, but why do her plans matter? Why can?t we just let her die? She?s only got another month.?

?That woman is a survivor. She is not going to just die. She has a plan. She is up to something, and we must know what it is. The boy was supposed to find out, but he upset her.?

?Then we?ll just kill her. Kill her again on Valentine?s Day! Perhaps we can get another one of her lover?s to do it.? The thought made her gleeful. She could even visit the half-elf who had done her in the first time! Perhaps he wanted another go.

?No.? He was firm in the face of her whimsical musings, putting an end to them for the moment. ?We can no longer allow her to just die and you absolutely cannot kill her.?

?That?s not fair!? She sat up straight, slamming her fist down on the table. ?You said I could kill her. You promised! You said I could toy with her all I wanted and then I could wring her pretty little neck.?

?Plans change,? the Earl responded cooly. ?You can?t kill her.?

She narrowed her eyes at him, ?Why??

Lord T?n?bres sighed, ?Because it could be detrimental to young Th?odore.?

Her grin was wild, ?You mean it could make him crack like a nut, huh? Newsflash, Earl,? Belladonna leaned forward, ?being insane isn?t so very bad.? His look was pure disapproval, causing her to laugh as she sat back, ?So what are you going to do with her instead??

?That remains to be decided. Regardless, we can?t make any plans until we know what she?s doing. Find out what she?s up to first, and then I am sure there will be plenty of room for your brand of fun.?

#47:  Author: MalloryCan Be Found: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:10 pm
January 24, 2018

When the lights of the bar were left behind, the three found themselves walking alone on darkened streets. The industrial heart of Dockside was nearly deserted on such a cold night, with the frozen onshore wind making unearthly sounds as it howled through the spaces between the decrepit buildings, rattling chains in the warehouses and workhouses like the shackles of the damned.

In spite of the cold and the scarcity of lamplight, Eri?s shambling stride seemed easy and confident, enhanced as the delinquent was with a few strong drinks. Mallory had her head in the stars and her gaze there, too, her hands folded behind her neck and her face turned skyward as she ambled along with the delinquent, spouting trivia about the constellations for her own benefit as much as Eri?s. Moriko, their security backup for the night, seemed to be entirely sober, far more alert and cautious than the happily chattering pair, wary of their surroundings in this part of town?

?See the big one there -- the kind of pink one near the Wyvern?? Mallory squinted through the angle of her thumb and forefinger, catching a sliver of starlight between them. ?That?s the Seer. There?s two faint blue stars to either side, the Seer?s eyes, and her Third Eye in the middle, shining bright. I used to think I could use that to see the future, before I figured out I could peer through the Veil.?

Eri took a step closer to Mallory, her head resting against the witch?s shoulder so that she could follow the angle she made to indicate the stars. Her eyes widened when she spotted the formation. ?I see them?!? she reported excitedly. She kept them in her field of view as she asked the witch curiously, ?So you can?t use the stars to see the future after all? The Veil? So that?s how you do it now??

?Yes, love. Do tell. How do you see the future now and what has it revealed to you, hmm?? Belladonna?s voice was a coy purr as she stepped out of the Veil directly in front of them. There was no toying with her food tonight, though. She had made that mistake the other day and it had cost her: a knife in the side and her knight injured.

Tonight, a handful of her people followed her out of that cut in the Veil, fanning out to encircle the trio. She gave them instructions as she smiled at Mallory. ?Kill the other two. I want the witch alive.?

Mallory?s hand tensed around the glass token that dangled from her necklace, fire bursting through her clenched fingers as she scowled at the emerging fae. The gesture was met with the familiar smile of a sadistic eladrin, as Old Jack?s silver teeth flashed in the firelight. The witch was waiting for one of them to make the first move.

?Don?t let them get away,? Belladonna ordered the fae on her left--a silver skinned creature with red eyes, clawed hands, and pointed teeth. Her gruesome grin blossomed as she threw her hands up into the air, creating a barrier to keep their playthings trapped.

Moriko?s eyes focused on Belladonna, seeing and hearing her giving orders. But the creature throwing its hands in the air made a more immediately important target. The outlandishly attired guard charged forward immediately to launch an attack at the caster with a club drawn from under her coat.

Whack! The red-eyed fae?s gaze rolled white as she slumped over, bleeding profusely from the blow to the head, showering the group with the sparking remains of the broken barrier. The witch kept her back pressed to Eri?s, scattering fire and ice at their foes? feet in a futile effort to keep them at bay, as the delinquent brandished her steel trench spike to keep them back.

Bella glanced down at her fallen lackey, unimpressed. ?Good help is so hard to find these days,? she grumbled, mood soured. At least the fae could be useful in one way: the s?dhe stepped back from those flames and pulled the red-eyed fae?s blood up and away from her body. In a move reminiscent of the good faerie Empress, she made an overhanded throwing gesture at Moriko. The blood coalesced into a series of frozen bolts that tore across the girl?s chest, sending her screaming and toppling to the ground at Eri?s feet.

The fae were done toying with them. In seconds they would converge, tearing them all to pieces? Mallory tensed her left hand, belladonna vines writhing around her wrist as she glared at the mad queen before her? then flicked a finger, and a thorny point pierced her palm. In a spray of blood and a cloud of noxious black smoke, the trio had vanished, their arrival a short distance away signaled by a bright red flash in one of the tall foundry windows.

The unseelie s?dhe growled out her rage, grabbing the fae nearest her--although he was twice her size--and shaking him. ?I want that witch!? She immediately shoved him away, stepping over his body as he landed on the ground and looking around at the rest of them. ?Do whatever you want to her as long as she can still talk. But get her. Now.?

* * * * *

It was several hours since the foundry had closed for the day, and Moriko, Eri, and Mallory were alone? but not for long. Even without the bright flash of magical blowback from Mallory?s Veilstride, even with the iron stock and crucibles of molten steel to weaken fae magic and dulling their senses, it was only a matter of time until Belladonna?s sadistic underlings caught up with them. ?I can make one more jump like that,? the witch whispered as she knelt by Moriko?s softly groaning form, checking the wounds that seeped blood into her uniform. ?It won?t bring us back to Riverwatch? but it?ll put us inside the patrol route.? She looked up at Eri, eyes vibrant from the use of deep blood magic, reflecting the molten glow of the steel around them. ?Are you hurt??

Eri looked around at the foundry, then back to Mallory and the injured Moriko. Her eyes were wide with alarm, but she shook her head. ?No, I?m not hurt. Should we try to retreat then? It might be worse if a patrol is not near and they catch us in the open..?

?I?m not -- ? Mallory began and stopped short, lifting one bloody, vine-bound hand for silence, as the clinking and settling of chains hanging in the foundry gave way to a distant, thudding clang, swaying the heavy iron hooks that dangled over their heads. A low, leisurely whistle of a bar song joined the building chorus of footsteps echoing on metallic stairs.

Let?s get Moriko away from here, she mouthed to Eri, and -- she grit her teeth and dragged a thumb across her throat, one by one. If we see Bella, run for the eastern wall, she added in a low hiss, jabbing two fingers to her left.

Eri listened and nodded, reaching down to easily pick up their injured guard, setting her arm around Mallory?s shoulders. The pair moved away from the platform as quietly as they could, though Moriko?s limping steps echoed faintly after them as they slipped out of sight. Once they were gone, Eri looked toward the stairs that footsteps were approaching from.

Out of the eight fae that had surrounded Eri, Mallory, and Moriko, seven reluctantly entered the foundry. Belladonna herself waited outside, biding her time and unwilling to personally go into the iron hotspot herself. The seven fae split up, approaching the upper floor from different directions. The half-troll monster with thick, green, leathery skin stomped noisily up the stairs towards Eri, the metal clanking every time his tough sole hit the grating.

As the fae fanned out to look for them, Eri searched around the top of the stairs, and spotted a wheeled bin nearby, loaded and bristling with finished lengths of iron rebar. She grinned and ran over to it, grabbed it by the handle and found that she could move and turn its massive weight, so that the points of the rebar faced the top of the stairs. With a growl of effort she got her feet moving, shoving the bin ahead of her, building up speed with the help of her oni strength. By the time she reached the top of the stairs she was running, and she let go of the handle and sent the bin hurtling noisily down the metal steps into the ascending troll.

The large creature fell and kept falling down the stairs, its roar of pain shaking the building as the bin pinned it to the floor and the iron burned it. The Phouka had been several feet behind it. As the troll fell, it transformed into a large dog, using its fallen as a springboard to leap up the stairs in two bounds and skid to a stop at the top, growling at Eri as it found her alone on the platform.

Eri charged forward as the Phouka sprang at her, the transformed creature?s leap toppling the delinquent onto her back. Teeth snapped and bit at her arm, tearing the fabric of her jacket and her flesh. It loomed over the fallen Eri, lunging in to bite at her throat, but when they were face to face, it found itself looking into Eri?s eerie lantern-like eyes and elongated lower canines. The half oni?s small hand locked around her foe?s throat with mechanical vise-like force, while her free hand put the trench spike to work, stabbing relentlessly and repeatedly at the Phouka?s right flank.

Blood poured from its jaws, welling up from its ruptured organs, and with a final yelp it collapsed on top of the delinquent as her iron spike pierced its heart.

((Adapted from live play with Eri and Belladonna! Part 1/3))

Last edited by Mallory on Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:14 pm; edited 2 times in total

#48:  Author: MalloryCan Be Found: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:11 pm
The catwalk where Moriko stood as bait, clutching her wounds and shivering feverishly, was blood-slick and scattered with the remains of the fae reaver, his serrated silver cleavers laying at her feet. Somewhere down below them in the darkness the sluagh lay where it had fallen, its ghoul-like form letting out its last panicked shrieks as Mallory?s blood-conjured wolves sundered its rotting flesh.

And the witch herself had placed herself between Moriko and a fae knight, clad in armor of hard black chitin and shimmering red scales, wielding a barbed staff of wood and bone. She grinned unkindly at the mortal girl, seemingly undeterred by the fact that she?d already dispatched the unhinged sociopath and the undead beast that had barreled blindly into an ambush.

?It?s only your Third Eye she needs,? the knight hissed through her interlocking fangs as she stalked up the stairs to the catwalk. ?The others, I?ll be taking to remember you by.?

Mallory said nothing. Her hands were empty, but for the vines that curled around her left arm and pierced her palm with their thorns. Her gaze was not on the fae knight, but on the heavy chains that dangled near the top of the stairs, and the crucible that hung from it. She waited until she heard the sound of the staff slicing through the air, and curled her right hand around an invisible hilt.

Merciful luck, lend me a blade.

The witch let out a sharp cry as the staff came down on her shoulder as a mantle of shadows flared out to protect her neck, and the weapon bruised and bit deep into her flesh, deep enough for the knight to try to rip it out; deep enough to keep her rooted in place, as one of the heavy chains snapped, the iron within called into Mallory?s outstretched hand.

There was no time for so much as a scream, as the crucible tipped a shower of molten steel onto the fae?s head first. It cracked away her armor, burned through her flesh, and heated the stairs until, white-hot, they gave way beneath her weight. What remained of her body, and almost an entire curcible of hot metal, fell to the floor below where they glowed like a massive bonfire.

A whip of iron links dangled from the witch?s hand, glowing orange and yellow and white where they had passed through the shower of steel. There were more of them out there -- she could hear singing in the darkness around her, someone mocking her -- and she growled out a warning:

?Come and taste it, you bastards.?


Moriko?s warning cry came a split-second too late, as the witch turned to face a pair of knife-like bolts of magic flickering out of the darkness. One just missed her, grazing her chin as she whipped her head away from it; but the other hit her center mass, wracking her body with searing pain as it coursed through her like electricity. She coughed violently and held onto the railing to keep herself on her feet, hauling herself backwards towards Moriko.

Nimble feet, clad in soft black leather, alighted on the catwalk with a gentle metallic echo, and Old Jack rose up from his crouch to loom over Mallory, his silver teeth and silver claws glowing by the light of the molten steel. ?Where ya goin?, girlies? Headin? for the door so soon?? he hissed, his dark and gleaming eyes watching his quarry limp down the catwalk away from him. In one fluid motion he scooped up a cleaver from the fallen reaver, running his tongue along the back of the blade. When it touched the tip, his tongue bled black, and he curled a smile at the pair of them.

Fire erupted from the witch?s right palm, and she curled her flame-licked fingers around the glowing chains at the end of her whip, setting her feet wide to stand her ground against the advancing eladrin. His smile only grew.

?So good of you to stay an? dance with Ol? Jack.?

With a flick of her wrist and a sharp cry of anger, Mallory released the end of the whip from her fiery grasp and lashed out at the eladrin, striking him across the face. He gasped at the precise blow and glowered across the short distance at her, cradling the deep iron burn along his jaw with his palm. His skin was ruptured and torn, exposing his back molars in an exaggerated grin.

These weren?t the clumsy, desperate moves of the witch he?d met at Samhain. Someone had been teaching her.

He was ready for the next strike, deflecting it easily with the silver cleaver and countering with a clean slice that bit through the outside of her thigh. She stumbled away from his follow-through, avoiding his reckless attempt to slash open her belly, but when she turned to flee, she paid for it when he raked his claws across her lower back.

She fell into the railing and the whip dropped from her hands, slithering off the catwalk and into the darkness below. Find your feet. Even outclassed by this eladrin assassin, Ishmerai?s lessons guided her steps, and she whirled to face Jack as she backed towards Moriko again, blowing a long breath through the fire leaping from her fingers. It billowed out into a hot, searing cloud, but the eladrin merely hung back to avoid its sting before he continued his inexorable advance.

It bought them seconds, but they needed more than that. She had so little blood to spare, and they were running out of catwalk.

Eri?s glowing eyes fixed on the sight of Jack pursuing and attacking Mallory as she extracted herself from beneath the bloody mass that had been the Phouka. Their lantern glow flashed brighter as a loud hiss issued from her mouth. She?d already fought with the eladrin once before, and seen his speed and agility in action, so she held back the instinct to charge, instead moving forward in a quiet trot with the spike held up in an icepick grip.

When he hung back to avoid the fire billowing from Mallory?s fingers, Eri struck.

She aimed her spike at the junction of Jack?s neck and shoulder, but the sadistic fae?s quick reactions saved him from that likely fatal strike, hearing the half oni?s approach in time to take the blow to his shoulder instead. The acute steel point gouged his flesh and cracked bone, and he choked back a scream behind his sharp silver teeth. ?One? at a? time!?

He retaliated with a swift swing of the cleaver, burying the serrated weapon in Eri?s upper arm.

The shock of the metal striking bone jolted the spike from Eri?s grasp, but the cleaver was too deeply embedded in her arm for Jack to retrieve. Toe to toe now they grappled at each other, pushing and grasping in a desperate bid for the upper hand. His claws ripped at Eri?s back while her teeth locked onto the fae?s defending wrist with tenacity.

?Girlie, that?s my favorite hand? I like that hand!? he snarled, as building magical power cracked and burned between his fingers, turning slowly in Eri?s jaw to push in towards her face.

Moriko grabbed onto his arm from behind, and he tried to turn to snarl at her? and found the movement stopped by the witch?s long, slender fingers gripped tightly around the back of his head. ?You?ll burn for hurting her,? she hissed in his ear.

There was nothing to do but scream as the magical fire spread quickly through his hair, clawing desperately at his scalp with one hand and struggling to pull the other one free from the oni?s jaws, tearing tendon and scraping bone with the effort.

When Jack released his claws from her back to claw at his burning head, Eri?s hands were swift to grab the eladrin around his neck. As she held him aloft, she saw the second crucible, dangling off to the side of the catwalk and filled to the brim with molten steel. She bared her misaligned canines once more in a cruel grin, and the delinquent gave Jack one final shove over the railing.

The eladrin?s final moments were spent with his eyes locked onto the eerie yellow glow of Eri?s gaze, his burning face twisted with malice. He didn?t scream when he landed in the crucible, and in seconds his flesh was consumed by the rising flames, leaving his teeth and claws to melt away into the steel.

?**** that guy,? Mallory said, joining Eri at the railing to peer down at what little remained of the sadistic eladrin. Then she looked at the thorny vines winding their way around her arm, biting deeper into her skin as she willed it, and breathed a long sigh. There wasn?t much left in her tanks? just enough to get them home.

?C?mon. Let?s -- ? She stopped, blinking at her girlfriend. ?Eri.?

Eri looked up from the surface of the steel in the crucible to meet Mallory?s eyes. ?Hm?? she asked, looking concerned.

The witch gestured incredulously at the massive cleaver still sticking out of her: ?Eri, your bloody arm.?

Eri looked horrified, her eyes and teeth returning to normal as shock replaced the anger of the fight. She wrenched the cleaver free and dropped it with a grimace, complaining in a whiney, nagging tone: ?Owww.?

Mallory sighed sadly at Eri?s pain. Thank Fate she can regenerate. She reached out one bloody hand to Eri?s shoulder and the other to Moriko?s, shut her eyes, and willed her bloodflow to quicken --

-- and in a flash of black smoke and crimson light, they vanished.

* * * * *

Only one fae made it out of the foundry alive. He cowered on his knees before Belladonna on the cobblestone streets of Dockside, his skin lashed and burned with iron.

?What do you mean they got away??

?I?m s-s-sorry, my queen, but the witch? she did her Veilstride again and--?

Belladonna?s shriek of rage drowned out whatever else he planned to say. She wrapped her hand around his throat and lifted him up to his feet, shaking him with every word: ?How. Could. You. Let. Them. Get. AWAY!?

His response was a gurgled, rasping attempt at a defense. She clearly didn?t like what she heard because Belladonna kept squeezing until he couldn?t say anything at all. Couldn?t breathe either. She enjoyed the feeling of his life ebbing away and grinned as he clawed at her forearm in a desperate bid to live.

?Mmm,? she sighed as she let him go. It was no use seeking the witch tonight. They had likely made it back to Kabuki Street already.

That was fine. They would just have to play another day.

((Adapted from live play with Eri and Belladonna! Part 2/3))

#49:  Author: MalloryCan Be Found: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:20 pm
It wasn't until they were on their way back from a Kabuki Street clinic, where they'd left Moriko in the care of a physician trusted by Eri's gang, that Mallory finally had the presence of mind to reach out to Sapphire. Her wounds ached still beneath the haze of painkillers, and her eyelids were heavy, but the witch didn't trust that Belladonna was done for the night.

It stood to reason, but the self-proclaimed Faerie Queen had never struck her as reasonable.

Text to Sapphire at 11:05: you're still offworld, right?
Text to Sapphire at 11:06: bella jumped us. we're ok.

Text to Mallory at 11:09: Bitch
Text to Mallory at 11:09: You sure you're okay?

Text to Mallory at 11:13: I texted Jewell
Text to Mallory at 11:13: You guys should just come here. It's quiet as the grave.

Text to Sapphire at 11:14: ok. I texted Almast so everyone should be in the know.
Text to Sapphire at 11:15: and I promise I'm ok. had to spill a lot of blood tonight, but got cleaned and stitched up and hydrating plenty
Text to Sapphire at 11:16: Eri's feeding me "weeds." it's about as fun as it sounds. she swears it's the best way to get my strength back.
Text to Sapphire at 11:16: oh **** think she just read over my shoulder

Text to Mallory at 11:18: You're in trouble now
Text to Mallory at 11:18: Glad you're okay too

Text to Mallory at 11:26: Jewell said Haizea didn't check in after her rounds this evening
Text to Mallory at 11:26: And they haven't been able to Find her. I think she's really worried.

Text to Mallory at 11:27: I wish I was there... :(

Text to Sapphire at 11:29: ****, Haizea?
Text to Sapphire at 11:30: I have to pass out. I?m sorry. I?ll keep you posted.
Text to Sapphire at 11:33: I?m glad you?re safe where you are. I promise we?ll stay safe here.

Text to Mallory at 11:34: Sleep tight. Rest up. Feel better. Don't let the bed bugs bite.
Text to Mallory at 11:34: ..or Eri

((Taken from text thread with Sapphire's player, with thanks! Part 3/3))

#50:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:22 pm
January 26, 2018

Jewell watched the water in her bathroom sink occasionally run red down the drain as she cleaned off her face, hands, and arms. She was still in her outfit from the Powerhouse Party: black sequin hotpants and a cropped white shirt that was torn and stained a brownish red. That was from where Koyliak had nailed her with those spiky gold heels. There was so much iron in her blood at this point that it was oxidizing as much as human blood, which was disturbing if she thought about it much, so she didn?t think about it at all. Instead, she mechanically cleaned herself up long after the blood was gone, washing her hands over and over again as she stood barefoot at the sink. Her black high heels had been abandoned somewhere between the Dragon?s Gate door to the sanatorium and her bathroom. The pretty necklace she had been wearing early in the evening had been lost to the brutal fight against Canaan.


* * * * *

Jewell?s breathing was labored, her body aching as Cane caught her with one of his favorite combos: he spun out of reach and threw an elbow. Only this time he swung his arm in a wide arc so that his forearm caught her shoulder instead to spread the point of impact. She was important to him; he wasn't going to lay her out. Again.

It was a close thing though because she was as light as the breeze and grunted at the impact, almost losing her footing. Still, she knew how to take a hit and keep on rolling. She straightened up to face him again. The score was 4-2 against her when she tried to punch him in the face once more, a little tired of the way he kept knocking her down.

He didn't push her away from him this time. He caught the punch and held her tightly by the wrist. Enough to get the point and win the match, then tugged her close and bent down to kiss her. His grip on her wrist loosened the instant their mouths touched.

When he caught her wrist like that, signalling the end of the match, her left hand started to swing around like she was going to punch him anyway, a blind panic and fierce defensiveness momentarily seizing hold of her as she lost touch of place, time, and company. She was still in the fight, adrenaline pumping and her body rigid and tense when he tugged her close. Jewell was ready to pull away--ready to blindly hurt him despite a part of her brain screaming,
?This is Canaan!?--and took a deep, sharp breath that eased when he released her wrist and was cut off completely by his kiss.

It wasn't a chaste kiss, but neither did it linger. ?I miss you,? he whispered. It was honest.

She couldn't even say anything in response, couldn't think straight as she had her eyes shut tight for a moment, fighting against something terrible in her brain. The urge to pummel him into a bloody mess, to kill him for daring to touch her, had subsided when he released her but the memories that had provoked those feelings still lingered close to the surface, making her sick. ?I'm sorry.? Quiet, breathless. Jewell opened her eyes, barely able to look at Cane, and retreated quickly out of the ring.

* * * * *

She had felt herself blacking out again, overcome by the past and an unexpected kiss and the taste of blood in her mouth. Jewell had wanted that kiss for weeks and when it finally happened, she had almost lost her *** instead because it started the reel of horror in her head: The Temple of the Divine Mother. Th?odore T?n?bres. The Namekeeper. An iron shiv. The Vessel. ?Come on, you stupid faerie bitch. Why don?t you moan again for me like the dirty whore you are?? Memories even older that lingered still, haunting her.

Her hands shook as she leaned forward, her elbows finding the edge of the counter as she covered her face. Breathe in. Hold it. One, two, three, four, five. Breathe out. Her panic over the unexpected way Canaan had grabbed her wrist and the memories it had evoked (they were becoming familiar nightmares; terrible old friends that would always remain with her) had faded some, but she was horrified at how she had almost lost control again. She had been ready to hurt Canaan. Seriously hurt him. How could she--


She straightened up, frowning. It felt like someone had plucked her spinal cord like a guitar string. The wards. It wasn?t an intrusion but there was a sense of disharmony. Something had gotten through that shouldn?t. Already her limbs were shaking, body trembling as exhaustion courted her after the exertion of the evening, both physical and emotional, and there was the iron in her heart: stoked to a steady, cold burn that kept her in constant pain. Jewell was tired, but there wasn?t anyone else to see to this. Ishmerai was gone. The Empress had come to rely on the knight for everything, but she was on her own now and necessity gave her the strength it always did to see this through. She took a shaky breath before pushing off the counter and heading downstairs.

Lavanya met her at the door to her apartments. ?What?s going on?? she asked the blonde, continuing on her way and expecting (knowing) she would join her.

If Lavanya noticed the state she was in or had any concerns, she failed to mention them. ?Someone came in through the New Haven door. They?re out in the gardens.?

Fear gripped her ailing heart. The portal. ?Let?s go.?

They ran down the stairs and out the front door into the cold night air. The snow was heavy on the ground, but someone had cleared a path leading into the garden earlier in the week. Everyone knew that Jewell liked to sit out there despite the weather, staring at the portal to Faerie, waiting for Ishmerai to come home and save her one more time. A light flutter of flakes was falling now, and there were clear footsteps marked along the path. They moved slowly, silently. Jewell restrained her shivering, walking on top of the snow in her bare feet. The wind blew across the mountain precipice above and through the evergreen needles in a mournful song.

She put her hand up suddenly to stop Lavanya, her eyes sharp even at night. There was a figure scuffling around the portal arch, silhouetted by the light spilling from Mallory?s beacon.

((Flashback adapted from the log of January 25, 2018 in the Iron Fists Garden.))

#51:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:26 pm
Ishmerai had been gone only a few hours when Mallory returned to the sanatorium, clutching a copper lantern in one mittened hand and a rolled-up stack of Valentine?s in the other. A plastic takeout bag dangled from the crook of her elbow, filled with wooden embers.

?Ooo-ooo, are those for your teacher??

?Christ, Ally, be less of a bitch,? she said without turning from her path through the garden, recognizing her sparring partner from her taunting tone alone. A chorus of jeers rose up in response, and the witch finally looked back when she reached the ruined archway. Haizea, Calla, Almast, Lavanya -- the ones she could always count on to give her a hard time.

?Seriously, what are you up to?? Haizea folded her arms to watch the witch, who paused in the middle of stacking broad, flat stones in front of the portal to look at her.

?Li?l help?? Haizea relented to Mallory?s request with a sigh, joining the others in completing the witch?s little cairn. ?It?s a beacon? like a light outside an inn, but it can shine across realms,? she explained, as she tugged her mittens loose and started packing materials into the lantern. ?We need a lantern, and a power source,? tapping the fresh band-aid on the heel of her left thumb.

?Ew,? Calla supplied helpfully.

?Then something from a lighthouse,? as she added the old embers, ?and a symbol of love,? cramming in as many of the Valentine?s Day cards as she could. Most of them looked like the kind that kids gave their classmates, featuring a cartoon owlbear with hearts for eyes.

?That?s it??

?Nnh.? The witch shook her head and produced a lock of hair from within her jacket, carefully wrapped with a silk ribbon. ?A binding agent. Once the lantern is lit, Ishmerai has only to turn in the right direction? and he?ll see this light on the horizon, and know the way home.?

?Wait, that?s his hair?? Lavanya wrinkled her freckled nose.

?Not for long,? the witch muttered. As soon as the lock of hair was in, she lowered a little Bic lighter to the lantern and ignited it. The fuel took much faster than it should have, bursting into green sparks and ashes, and she hurriedly clapped the little glass door shut.

Then she rotated it in place above the cairn, waiting until something pulled it straight down, locking into place atop the stones. There it remained, never slipping despite the uneven angle of the cairn, or the strong winter winds that howled down from the mountains; undimmed, it shone its twinkling emerald light into the realm of Faerie itself.

* * * * *

?Show yourself,? Jewell commanded, the power of Authority in her voice.

A young woman turned around. Her face was marked by long cuts down the front, like someone had taken their nails and scored her skin, and her hair was brown and tangled. She might have been unrecognizable if not for the t-shirt she wore; it was soaked with blood but the lettering was still visible and familiar: I Do Believe in Faeries. Most of the House of Summer girls had the very same shirts, purchased for Yule last year. It was a funny joke between them and their fearless s?dhe leader.

Lavanya gasped at her side. ?Haizea??

No, not Haizea. Not really. There was something cold about her, unholy and different. ?Ghoul,? Jewell hissed.

?What?? Lavanya asked, confused, looking between the two women and then reaching out her hand towards Haizea, ?Sister, what are you doing out here? What did they do to you? We thought-- we thought you were dead.?

Jewell ignored the woman at her side, staring straight at Haizea, or what remained of her after the Night Court was through with her. The ghoul ignored Lavanya?s tearful questions, turning back to the portal and, more alarmingly, the lantern in front of it. In the ethereal light cast from both the lantern and the portal, they watched her raise her hand.

?No!? Jewell shouted, dashing across the snow to try to reach her in time. Lavanya didn?t move, still dumbfounded and confused.

Haizea gathered energy into her hand and brought it down upon the lantern, but Jewell made it there just in time, tackling her into the snow between the lantern and the portal. The impact should have knocked the breath out of the ghoul, but she was stronger than Jewell was--stronger than even Haizea was normally. She grappled with the faerie, flipping her over and pinning her to the ground. One hand was around the tiny s?dhe?s throat, nails like knives biting into her skin as she pulled her back and then slammed her down into the snow again and again, squeezing her throat until Jewell?s vision blurred.

?Get off her!? she heard Lavanya cry and suddenly Haizea?s weight was gone.

Lavanya was at her side instead, trying to help her up. ?Are you okay? Are you okay?? she asked repeatedly, but Jewell tried to shove her away. Black dots filled her vision and her head spun as she looked around for where the ghoul had landed.

She was over at the lantern again. Lavanya had not wanted to hurt her sister and had only pulled her off the struggling Empress, allowing the ghoul to go right back to her task. Jewell gasped, trying to warn Lavanya, trying to tell her to stop the ghoul, trying to reach out with a magic that evaded her in her weakened state to stop the ghoul herself.

But it was too late.

Haizea?s hand rose once more, flickering with an evil light in the deep darkness that belong to the hours after midnight, and she slammed it down into the lantern, heedless of the way the glass tore at her skin.

Mallory?s spell exploded.

((Co-written with the wonderful Mallory!))

#52:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:31 pm
After, Jewell knelt at the place where the lantern had stood. What was left of Haizea?s body lay nearby, burnt beyond recognition. The woman turned ghoul had been torn to pieces by the spell and fried by the backlash of the portal. Jewell and Lavanya had suffered too: cut up by the fragments of glass and metal and burned by the wild energy let loose. The faerie didn?t know how long she had been out after the blast, but she had come to with Lavanya hovering over her--bleeding, anguished, worried.

The remaining House of Summer girls--only seven of them now--were huddled around her now too, shouting, screaming, arguing with each other. The fear in the air was palpable, their anguish and anger keen, but Jewell couldn?t focus on anything other than the piece of metal in her hands. A smooth curve with jagged edges, it had belonged to the lantern. It was supposed to guide Ishmerai home. It was supposed to bring her knight back to her. Her knight with his long dark hair, hard frown, and soft green eyes. Now? now how would he find his way out of the Far Lands? There was no light to guide him, and there was no lock of his hair to make another.

Ishmerai was lost to Faerie, just like her children.

Without him, Jewell was lost as well.

She bent forward, bowed under the weight of these trials. Ishmerai was gone. Aella, Calla, Judith, Samantha, and Haizea were all gone. And for what? So she could cling to the hopeless chance at life Mallory had offered her. So she could avoid facing her mortality.

The faerie had to face it now, kneeling there in the snow--shivering, bleeding, her heart beating tremulously--because the war was over. To achieve that slim chanced victory the witch had held out to her, Jewell knew she had to lose some battles and sacrifice some pawns, but this was the final blow. There was nothing left to fight for anymore. Ishmerai wouldn?t be returning. Certainly not before February 14th, and even if he did by some miracle, it didn?t matter.

Haizea had known the plans for her heart.

Which meant the Night Court surely knew and Belladonna knew. They knew the hope she had harbored and the desperate plan that had sent Ishmerai into the depths of Faerie from which he would never return. They knew the relic he sought and the heart she wanted to steal.

Which meant there would be no surviving for Jewell Ravenlock.

It had all been for nothing.

Despair made her cold as she listened to the cries of the House of Summer girls fill the garden where her last hope had been put to rest.

?What are we going to do? They?re going to kill us all!?

Ishmerai was gone.

?This is all your fault! You?ve been busy ****ing that Night Court trash--?

Her heart was broken.

?You did this to Haizea.?

There was no more hope.

?Judith was right, you can?t protect us! You can?t protect anyone!?

I?m sorry, Sapphire.

She stood up slowly, feeling stiff, old, and broken. More broken than she had felt since the day last February when she had awoken in the hospital with a cut on her arm and a hole in her heart; with tubes everywhere and her body used and abused; and with a branch of magnolias at her side, wrapped in dark blue cloth and secured with a silver pin that wouldn?t end her life no matter how many times she pricked her finger.

?Empress? Empress? What are we going to do??

Jewell blinked, turning slowly to look at Lavanya. What are we going to do? The question provoked only a blank stare from her. ?I don?t care.?

She walked away through the snow and into the sanatorium. She was tired. Maybe everyone would leave her alone now and she could actually get some sleep.

Before the sun came up, two of the girls were gone.

#53:  Author: MalloryCan Be Found: The Lyceum or Kabuki Street, most of the time PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:00 pm
The powerful backlash from Haizea?s destruction of Mallory?s enchantment had violently awoken the witch from her slumber and left her with a searing headache that was only now beginning to fade, in the final minutes of darkness before dawn.

Lavanya had let her into the sanatorium through the Dockside door, and Almast regarded the passing of the witch and her girlfriend with a terse nod, but the others gave her nothing more than long, open glares. They wanted to give up. Haizea was dead because Jewell hadn?t given up, because it was actually hopeless, and because Mallory had concocted the impossible task from which Ishmerai would never return. She didn?t need to hear them say it to feel it in the heat of their stares.

This is your fault.

It was a familiar sensation, if troubling; her hand tightened around Eri?s as they stalked through the noiseless courtyard, where the smell of burning flesh was mercifully cut by the frost-bitten wind blowing down from the mountains. They found the portal at the source of the stench, still scattered with shattered glass, broken stones, and clumps of ash that had blown away from Haizea?s remains. The witch found a clear space and suppressed a shiver as she knelt before the archway.

The portal itself was still intact, more resilient than the witch?s cantrip magic, and humming with angry energy after the backlash the exploding lantern had provoked. The bridge to Faerie called out to her as it always did when she drew too near, telling her to let go of her trepidations and step into the Forest of the World -- to let go and run away from everything.

This is your fault.

She fanned out her fingers and whispered a Latin invocation of Fortuna, calling the lantern?s scattered copper pieces to her hand, molded by her magic into the shape of a small knife. She held the blade over her skin and paused to take a breath, compose herself, and concentrate on what kind of animal she should send through the portal. Into the Far Lands. In search of a friend who had protected her, and killed for her, and whom she had doomed in the pursuit of a plan born from her own arrogance.

This is your fault.

A little voice in her head told her that she deserved this pain and more when the small knife cut into the palm of her left hand, and for a moment she indulged it; deepening the cut, spilling more blood than the spell required, until the shock of pain broke her concentration. She cursed quietly and squeezed her palm, whispering the words of the spell over the newest drops before they could fall to the frost-covered grass.

Each drop erupted into a firefly, emanating a flickering crimson light as they bobbed in the air. Even as creatures born of magic, she could not be sure how long this trio of messengers would last in the chilly air. This was as much a fool?s errand as the quest itself, but there was a chance that it could work and bring him home.

She?d survived on slimmer hopes before.

?Messengers,? she whispered, her voice cracking with the effort to contain her tears; ?go into the Far Lands, find Ishmerai, and light his way home.? She released a breath over her blood-stained hand, and on that gust the crimson fireflies went fluttering into the archway, disappearing through the tiny tear in the Veil in a shower of green sparks. And as soon as they were gone, she gave in to the wave of sorrow that had been threatening to wash over her since she?d first received word of the attack: she clutched at Eri?s jacket, leaned her head against the delinquent?s thigh, and cried.

Her friend was worlds away from her, far beyond her ability to aid him. And her brother would be following suit soon, venturing across the stars as soon as his training was done, countless lightyears further than she could hope to scry. She didn?t know what dangers he might face in the company of strangers in the months to come, or what Ishmerai might be facing right now while his friends were so far away.

But she could send fireflies, night after night, until he came home.

#54:  Author: JewellRavenlockCan Be Found: Little Elfhame; Old Market PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:11 am
Jewell slept all day in a medicated haze to hide from her sorrow, pain, and despair; but she was still haunted by nightmares that had her turning fitfully, tangling the sheets around her as she reached desperately for someone who wasn?t there. When she woke in the evening, the sun setting in brilliant shades of orange and pink on the mountainside, there were fresh tears on her face, and in the bleary moments between dreaming and waking, she remembered all over again that the lantern had been destroyed, that Ishmerai was not coming back, that she was going to die.

And she remembered Sinjin?s text: ?I?m going back to Madrid for a week to check up on my sister ? if you need me, just ping me. Or come find me, in the most inter-global game of hide and seek of all time.?

If you need me.

Mother of Nature did she need the sinner now. There was a sob threatening to choke her, and it was only practice from years of dealing with crippling depression that got her out of bed. She ignored her growing number of wounds--the bruises and scrapes from the Powerhouse Party had been joined by a dark circle of bruises around her throat from the ghoul and an uncountable amount of cuts, abrasions, and burns from Mallory?s spell--and the way her heart hurt worse than it did before she had entered the Iron Fists Garden last night. Her head spun at every movement and her limbs were heavy as she started to gather clothes in a haphazard way. She ignored that too.

She needed to go. She needed to get out. The crushing weight of Haizea being turned into a ghoul, of so many of her secrets being revealed to the Night Court, of the likelihood of never seeing Ishmerai again, of dying was too much for even the powerful s?dhe to handle alone when it was coupled with Canaan?s kiss on her lips and her violent, visceral reaction.

It was odd that despite everything else that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, she still couldn?t shake off the way he had grabbed her wrist and how much she had wanted to hurt him in that moment. She was confused and frustrated too. Canaan wasn?t supposed to be kissing her anymore no matter how much he missed her and no matter how much she wanted him to because they were over. She had ****ed that up. Guilt ate away at her as much as the iron did (if not more so), adding to the sick feeling in her stomach that always lingered with the memories of her time spent under the influence of her True Name.

The Namekeeper?s voice had dominated her dreams again this afternoon.

Jewell shuddered to recall it. She stared into the small bag she was packing automatically without seeing the crumpled bunch of dresses inside it. Instead, she saw the room they had locked her in somewhere beneath an old condemned apartment building. It was small with a dirt floor. There was a bed against the wall. They didn?t use that at first. That came later.

It smelled like filth and misery, and The Namekeeper?s presence was always there with her. It had seeped inside every inch of her. It filled her up. It would not go away. It would not budge. She didn?t even want it to go away. Couldn?t want it or anything. She was an extension of him and nothing more. He had consumed her. Everything she was. Everything she had been. Everything she could ever be. Gone.

?Stooooop,? she groaned out, a light sweater crushed mercilessly within her fist. ?I am here. I am here. I am here.?

It took her several agonizing moments, unable to breathe, before she could ground herself. Her fingers finally found and dug into one of the bruises on her arm. Pain brought her back--it was the single constant in her life--and she could think straight again. Her preparations were even more frantic and hurried after that, and she dropped her phone when she initially grabbed it.

She grabbed it up off the floor, noticing the two messages Canaan had sent while she was sleeping:

Text to Jewell: Thanks cher. But stop apologizing.
Text to Jewell: There's nothing wrong with you.

She actually laughed. Nothing wrong with her. Jewell couldn?t remember a time when there wasn?t something wrong with her.

Text to Canaan: You know that's not true
Text to Canaan: But thank you

She hesitated before sending one more message because she didn?t think he wanted to hear it, but it was true:

Text to Canaan: I miss you too

She hadn?t a clue as to what she had actually packed, but it didn?t really matter. It would have to do as would the hasty glamour she wove around herself--not a hurt visible on her flawless skin, rounded ears, and hair like midnight. A pretty dream out of some Irish fairy tale.

Jewell sent two more texts on her way out the door:

Text to Sin: seven? eight? nine? ten
Text to Sin: Ready or not, here I come

#55:  Author: Death of ManCan Be Found: RhyDin PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:29 pm
January 27, 2018

?The Starlight Basin?? Belladonna repeated.

?Apparently it?s a relic that will--?

?I know what it is,? she snapped. She well knew the Tale of the First Changeling. Little Jewellsie wasn?t after a new face though, was she? No no, she had sent her knight off into the Far Lands so she could procure something much more vital. ?She wants my heart,? the unseelie s?dhe concluded.

?She wants your heart,? the Earl confirmed.

Belladonna calculated her moves. She could run. Hide. Wait until after the fourteenth and come back to the city. She narrowed her eyes at him, ?And you?re just going to let her get it, aren?t you??

?Nonsense. Do you think I want her well, stronger than ever, and angry at me? Come now, Bella. Besides, what would I do without my closest ally??

?Closest ally,? she scoffed. ?Why didn?t you tell me sooner??

He smoothly escaped her wrath, ?I needed to confirm the details first. I wanted to be sure that was what the knight is after.?

?And you grabbed one of her people without telling me. Do you know how many fae I lost trying to take the witch??

?You were taking too long to get the information we needed.?

She growled, ?I?d like to see you go after a blood witch with no preparation.?

He shook his head. ?A lesson for you Belladonna: go after the low hanging fruit if you can get it. Her daughter? The witch? They are too near and dear to her.?

?I?ve told you before, Earl: I don?t want the low hanging fruit. I want to hit her where it hurts the most. Besides, you went after the kindred lover!?

Earl waved her argument away, ?That was different.?

She rolled her eyes, sinking in her chair as she turned pouty and petulant. ?So you say. You get to have your fun but I never have any at all. Perhaps I should just run, hm? Hide? Make sure there?s no way she can get my heart, and then she?ll die and your little Theo will go insane.?

?The great Belladonna, running from the dying Empress??

?Don?t try to con me, vampire,? she leaned forward, hissing at him. ?I?m not running from anyone.?

?No no. Of course not. However, you will miss your chance for making her suffer as much as possible in her last moments if you are gone--?

?Hmph.? Bella sat back, arms crossed.

?But if all you wish to do is protect yourself and ensure that she dies, then I suppose that is an acceptable plan.? He watched her shift, her gaze anywhere but him. ?On the other hand? we could have some fun.? It was doubtful if Lord T?n?bres even knew what the word fun meant.

?Fun?? she sorted. ?Like what??

?We will drain the witch dry before this is over. Would that please you??

?Perhaps.? She continued to play aloof, unwilling to concede.

Lord T?n?bres?s smile was an unpleasant thing. ?And of course there are all those other friends she loves to deal with: the knight, if he should return, and the girl; the kindred lover and that half-demon she?s fond of.?

She looked into his dark, soulless eyes, ?You have a plan??

?I have a plan.?

Belladonna finally grinned, ?Well, I?m listening.?

Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Beyond the Veil

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