A beetle had been crawling across the worn stone. It felt its way down through the troughs made by the name of the dead with two bulbed antennae. Inch by inch it crept, but it was easier to look at than Nyx right now.
“I do,” he answered her question first, almost absently, “an old seamstress named Taellyn… She made this coat.”
“Cay…” her name whispered across the expanse to her but then was lost. The beetle wandered from the name to the dates as the silence wore on.
Look over at him Cay… just raise your eyes and look at him.
I can’t… I just can’t…
The beetle ran a circle around an ‘8’ lost in its never ending pattern. It seemed to almost panic the antennae rapidly scurrying over the ridges, no doubt sensing its own scent upon them now, realizing that it has traversed this section already, but unable to determine the way out. Circling around and around, caught inadvertently by its own misstep. A single slip of one of its tiny feet.
Over the panic of the small helpless creature she heard her name whispered again, but the sensation of it barely registered. The feeling of his fingers moving over her own and then touching her chin sunk into her nervous system much deeper than his voice did. His gentle coaxing rose her eyes up to his as a trapped bubble rises to the surface in a pool of water. The look he passed over her was not one she was familiar with.
“I can explain why I did not… how did you say? … feed you to the wolves…” The fingers at her chin traced along the line of her jaw, scarcely touching skin, feathered across her cheek…
Her breath held and the tendons that supported her pulled tightly as a ripple of tension moved through her, starting with her jaw and working its way down her body.
“But, I do not think it is an explanation that you are ready to hear, yes?”
No… oh Gods don’t… don’t say it… please…
It was only when his finger graced over the scar that destroyed the once gentle slope of her ear that she pulled back. The tendons in her neck pulling her head a fraction from his touch in a sudden reaction that threatened to snap those strong fibers.
“I have ignored it, even wished… no… fought… against it for what, I have come to realize of late, has been a long time. Even now, I almost find myself wishing that the explanation was not so clear… or that I could speak it and have you hear it for what it is… But it is… and I cannot… for fear that you would not.”
Don’t… because I won’t. I cannot. You simply do not understand Nyx. Perhaps you are different… but it doesn’t make the world different. It doesn’t make what I want different…
Her eyes stayed with him as he continued. They burned deeply into him reading what he dared not say to her out loud, but what he could not hide in those brightly lit eyes of his.
What if you were mistaken about what you want Cay? You can see what he wants. How is it so repulsive to you?
“I will tell you, though, that what I did, I would never have done for any other but one. And that one has been long amongst the stars… along with the someone else I once was…”
Lyssa… the word whispered through her head and she was uncertain if she had said it aloud or not, if she had the only response he gave was to finally turn his head and shake it as the subject fell off between them.
The world darkened for a moment as he curled his fingers around hers more and guided her hand back toward her own body with the change purse in it. Only when he spoke and she opened her eyes did she realize she had closed them at his touch. “Hang on to that,” Nyx grinned, “If Taellyn thinks that I have money, she will assuredly charge extra. You can buy us breakfast from it along the way, if you like.
No oranges, I’m guessing,” he winked to her and in return she gave him a quick nod to show she had heard him.
A cool northern wind was blowing against them as they walked out of the cemetery and she gulped in the air greedily. Hoping it would cool the burning in her soul and help still the fretful beating of her heart. It would be up to Nyx to break this silence and as they began to turn toward the street he did.
“I suppose you should tell me your thoughts for our shadowing of the Bolstoii whelp, today. I suppose I should keep a mind to the job at hand while I consider the one which presented itself once I discovered that there was a tunnel under the Hydra, no?”
“I…” the first attempt to speak came out small and squeaky and with a disgusted look across her features. Clearing her throat she tried again. “I actually had not planned to follow her. At least not right away. I imagine she is not an early riser, not that we are today either… but… Dmitrova will likely be informing someone of what I said and Aelion will be taken in. She’ll be useless as a subject once that happens. I wanted to go finish her job. Aelion wanted to know about cargo passing in and out of Avenon. I want to know why. Perhaps getting those manifests myself would shed some light upon the matter.
We might even be able to pull off another ruse, like the one you managed to pull off yesterday morning. Especially if this Taellyn has something appropriate for me to wear…”
The conversation concerning their plans for the day goes on while she follows him to the seamstress’s shop. Along the way she does stop and picks up an orange for him and a few meat pies for them to eat while they walk.
When they enter the tiny little shop a bell chimed overhead, bringing the silver eyes of an elder wood elf up to the couple. A smile wandered over the other woman’s lips and then reached her eyes as they found themselves looking into the golden beams of Nyx’s eyes.
“Ahhh… Steppe son, you return. Need that coat mended again? It is covered in blood, but I can fix it for you. Ohhh… and I see you brought a lady friend with you?” A garment is discarded and the woman rises, nearly dangerously slender yet with the strength of a willow switch.
“I can wash the blood out on my own… it is not I who needs your services but my partner here…”
Steppe son? Cay mused to herself and was contemplating this when she felt those silver eyes move over her.
“Well deary what is it that I can do for you?” Her head cocked slightly to the left. “Remarkable how well that cloak fits to you, that was a custom job…”
“I’m just borrowing…” again Cay’s voice held a bit of a squeak, clearing her throat she went on. “I need a dress. This one has been rather ruined I’m afraid.” Her arm swept the cloak open to reveal the stained remains of the purple dress she had been wearing. “Something nice, we have something to do… amongst the humans.”
“Ahhh…” Taellyn smiled at Cay warmly. “An Aragainar. You should want something in bright red then, yes?”
“N’uma!” The word came out louder and more suddenly than Cay liked, with it her brow knitted together tightly and her skin flushed. “Il’carad. Amin lanna carad umma. Sut ume lle sinta?”
“Amin sinta sai.” Taellyn grinned wider with her vague answer.
Cay suddenly realized that she had slipped fully into her native tongue and flushed darker in color. “Something in purple or blue if you have it… please.”
“hmm… yes… I see. Come along then dear, I think I have something for you. And you…” The older woman’s eyes moved to Nyx. “I know where all the pockets are on that jacket, if anything appears to be missing when I come back out I will empty out every last one of them before you leave here.” The grin stayed on her face though.
A moment later she had guided Cay out of the main room, leaving Nyx to settle against the wall and wait for them to return.
“You have not known Nyx that long have you?” Taellyn asked while she dug through a wall of garments.
“I… no… a week perhaps.” Her voice was still slightly unsteady. “How did you know that I was raised with the Aragainar?”
“It is not so hard. You speak like one, even in common. And the stitching on your dress, although it should be red.”
“I told you I don’t wear that color.”
“I heard… how is this deary?” Taellyn swung around and held a rich dark blue gown out to Cay.
“Oh… yes that should do.”
“I could mend what you have on as well if you would like.”
“No… I can. Thank you though. Umm… actually… have you any cushions?” a smile cracked at her lips as she said it.
“Pillows you mean?”
Cay nodded. “I’d like one and the dress, a cloak to match… and something for my head.”
“Alright deary… and you have the coins for this purchase?”
After a few minutes an acceptable price is negotiated and Taellyn leaves Cay in the back to change into the new dress. She comes out of the back room with a blue satin pillow edged with black velvet, which she hands to Nyx with a smirk upon her aged lips.
“From your partner. She said you needed one… She is an interesting peredhil. Like you she has severed the ties with who she is, and with those who could remind her of such.” She watched him carefully while she spoke. “I wonder if you see yourself when you look at her. And I wonder if that is why you look upon her with such sympathy and respect…”
Before he can respond Cay sweeps out of the back room. While she fails to recognize it properly her mixed blood does give her advantages sometimes. With the proper costuming she can easily be mistaken for either human or elf at a glance. The blue gown she wears now is much like the one that pulled and stuffed the human he had beheaded the previous morning. On Cayrimsa’s shape it has a much easier job. Layers of skirts billow out from her small waist as the bodice hugs her and lifts the swell of her bosom up. Tight sleeves show off her slender arms, one of which has his cloak folded over it as she now has a shorter blue cape to match the dress on. Her hair has been quickly pulled up in a way that it hides her ears and is held in place by a comb bearing a blue feather. She lacks the accessories that most noble humans would be dripping with, a detail that will hopefully be lost on those that get lost in her mere presence.
“Well… is my servant ready to accompany me on my errands this afternoon?” She speaks rather haughtily as she holds out his cloak for him. A slight smile plays with the corner of her lips though.
Posted on 2009-12-19 at 02:31:53.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:38:55 by Eol Fefalas
Vlad Dmitrova pulled his waistcoat down over his expanding middle and brushed it with his plump fingers once before reaching up and pulling the small lever near the door, eliciting the chime of a bell inside the house.
This was a risky maneuver he recognized as he stood on the front step of the Bolstoii Manse waiting for someone to answer the door. If it failed and the true sequence of events were ever revealed to Toscani he could lose his position within the Hellkites if not more. But if it worked the results could be very rewarding. It was the hope for these rewards that led Vlad to taking on this risky endeavor.
After a few short moments the door opened and Vlad smiled up at the rather surprised looking high elf that greeted him. Corrisan as usual was dressed in blue velvet and had a small ledger pressed almost affectionately to his breast, the expression on his face, however was not usual.
“Lord Dmitrova… this is certainly not typical… I…”
Two chubby fingers rose to stop the elven man from continuing on. For years now Corrisan had been a paid informant for Vlad, not a member of the Hellkites by any stretch of the imagination, and likely Vlad was not the only one he sold his secrets to. Selling them on his master’s porch step, however, was certainly not protocol.
“I am here to see Lord Bolstoii, I realize I do not have an appointment but I believe that he will be most interested in what I have to say.”
This only caused the confusion to settle deeper in the angular visage of Corrisan. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m not asking you to understand slave! Announce me to your master before I lose my temper!” Vlad snapped back as the smile fell from his lips.
“Yes sir…” Corrisan dipped his head to Vlad curtly and worked the muscles in his face to hide any emotions he felt at that moment. The door opened wide and Corrisan stepped the side to allow Vlad to enter into the foyer. With practiced dignity the elf waved toward a plush chair. “If you will wait here a moment I will announce you.”
“Very well… please tell him it is important and cannot wait.” As if to prove that Vlad did not take the seat but instead stood in the foyer as Corrisan disappeared down a hallway.
Less than ten minutes later Styopa’s office was turning blue with cigar smoke while he and Vlad sat making pleasant small talk with each other.
“… of course if the murderer is not found by next week we might be rescheduling the gala. It will be a great disappointment and a great pain.” The cigar waggled in Styopa’s mouth as he spoke.
“Yes… about that…” Vlad’s cigar found its way between his pudgy fingers and he holds it between them. “I had hoped to talk to you about that. I have some information concerning Lady Evine’s murder. I was planning on going to the authorities with it, but I thought it might be prudent to you to hear it first…”
“Me? And why would I warrant such an honor?” A brow rose high on Styopa’s forehead.
“It involves you personally… think of it as a birthday present for your wife…”
“It involves me? Should I say thank you?”
“I would wait until you heard what I have to say.”
Styopa chewed on the cigar and nodded as he leaned back in his chair. “Alright… speak then.”
Dmitrova leaned back in his chair as well letting the cigar settle at his side. A bit of ash drifted to the floor but neither of them paid it much mind. At this moment Vlad held all the cards yet, a feeling which he relished and so held onto it until Styopa took a heavy pull from his own cigar and looked about ready to lose his patience.
“How well do you keep an eye on your slaves?” the almost mocking smile asked Styopa finally.
“Excuse me?!” the cigar lifted up into the air exaggeratedly.
“You’re slaves Lord Bolstoii, the elven scum you have purchased to run your household. Particularly one named Aileon.”
“Aileon? My stable boy?”
“Yes… your stable boy. Such a proper employment for one of those yellow eyed horse breed villains. But it probably allows him an element of freedom. I’ve found that freedom for his kind is not recommended. Had some trouble with one under my own employ recently.”
“I have never had any difficulties with Aileon…”
“Wrong Styopa. You have never noticed any difficulties with Aileon. And from my information neither has your daughter.”
The cigar jettisoned across the finely polished surface of Styopa’s desk. It somersaulted over itself leaving a trail of ash and a dark black mark across a parchment. Styopa himself had risen from his chair and threw his broad shadow over Vlad.
“I think you have outstayed your welcome Lord Dmitrova. How dare you even think of coming into my home and launching such hideous accusations at my daughter!?”
Vlad stared up at Bolstoii’s red face undisturbed, he had expected such a reaction. “Hideous as they may be Lord Bolstoii, they are true. So is the fact that when he is not busy pounding your daughter Aileon is poisoning or beheading the noble women of this city nearly on your very doorstep!” It was now Vlad’s turn to raise his voice. “Which is what I am planning to go to the authorities with. When I do the Imperial Guard will be on your house like maggots on a dead dog! They will pick through your life and discover everything there is to know Lord Bolstoii! They will learn that your daughter is not only being had by a grass munching point ear, but that he’s a murdering grass munching point ear! They might also learn that you like to go gallivanting around with Lady Hapley while her husband is at work, something that will make a great present for your wife on her birthday next week no doubt. They also might decide to go through your books, just for the hell of it. I’m not going to insult you further by going into what they might find there. I hope you had a good breakfast Lord Bolstoii because this is the end for you!” Vlad glared at Styopa as he started to push himself out of his chair.
As he rose he watched as Styopa considered what he had said and the cogs began to turn behind his eyes. Styopa’s eyes narrowed and his lips pulled closely together. “Sit back down… and let us discuss this.
And let me get someone else to join us as well if you don’t mind waiting a moment.”
“Absolutely” Vlad smiled and eased back down into his chair while Styopa went to the door. When he opened it he spoke to someone in the hall, Corrisan no doubt.
“Get Kharinya in here, now.”
Returning to his desk Styopa brushed the fallen ash off the papers and into the air as he settled back into his chair and brought his sharp eyes back to the man sitting in his office. “Now then… we will discuss this with Kharinya. If what she says backs up what you have suggested I will make it worth your while to leave the situation in my capable hands. If what she says does not back up what you’ve suggested… this will be the end of you.”
Vlad nodded calmly and brought his cigar to his lips before taking a long pull from it.
Posted on 2009-12-21 at 02:20:15.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:42:01 by Eol Fefalas
Cay hadn’t voiced any sort of response when, like some blathering fool, Nyx had tried to explain himself to her in the cemetery. She hadn’t needed to say anything, of course; Nyx had been able to see and feel her replies in the ways she had moved and breathed and tensed. He knew the feelings, himself. Had long ago forced himself to forget them because, he thought, they no longer mattered to who he was… what he had become… and, to that end, he was grateful that her feelings had gone unspoken. Nyx wasn’t certain, though, as he and Cay drifted away from the necropolis and moved northward through the city, that he hadn’t hoped for more from her… or from himself…
Ya sii’naa i’nwalmaer, hm?
…and that made him more uncomfortable than even the ache and pull of his injuries. So he was glad, again, that the subject had been let to fall away at his almost anxious turning of both their thoughts to the job at hand.
Nyx’s eyes kept in constant motion, scanning the streets and alleys ahead of them as they walked, but his attentions, otherwise, were keen to the plan she had set for herself. Stalking the Bolstoii girl would be fruitless, of course, given yesterday’s events, the ‘confessions’ they had made in those regards, and the likely consequences that would result, so Cayrimsa had made the decision that she would try and get her hands on the manifests that Aelion was so interested in having Kiki procure for him…
“… Dmitrova will likely be informing someone of what I said and Aelion will be taken in. She’ll be useless as a subject once that happens. I wanted to go finish her job. Aelion wanted to know about cargo passing in and out of Avenon,” Cay had explained, “I want to know why. Perhaps getting those manifests, myself, would shed some light upon the matter.
We might even be able to pull off another ruse, like the one you managed to pull off yesterday morning. Especially if this Taellyn has something appropriate for me to wear…”
A wolfish grin had crept across his lips and his gaze slid in her direction. Nyx had learned on the Gracchus job that Cayrimsa’s thought patterns were far from the erratic and slightly mad ones that often were whispered about in rumor and reputation. He had always known, from the first time he had heard her spoken of and the first time he had stalked her through Drasnia’s streets to watch her work, that she was capable of believable deceptions. Now, though, he came to realize that the threads that she wove into those lies could be as intricately spun as those on her loom. He nodded his approval and set his own thoughts along the path that Cay’s had laid out, working through details that might need to be addressed, complications that might arise, and contingency plans that could be brought into play should those complications turn things askew.
“Taellyn will have something appropriate, I have no doubt,” the mith’ganni assured her as he peeled the rind from the orange, “The old crone is not the favored seamstress amongst the nobility, of course, but her talent surpasses that of any of the round-eared tailors who claim that so-called distinction, and her designs are far more durable.” He poked a section of the orange past his lips and chewed thoughtfully as his gaze tracked to where the dome of the Trade Bureau rose above the surrounding buildings south and east of here, his mind chasing minute details through the layered complexity of what this simple shadowing assignment had become…
Dmitrova wanted Kharinya shadowed and her activities detailed… he must have had suspicions of his own that the girl was immersed in something that would likely embarrass if not ruin her father and, given the rivalry between he and Styopa, give Vadim some great benefit from whatever that might be… those details have shone us a light on Kharinya’s half-moon lover… pointed us at, of all things, manifests for Bolstoii’s Avenon caravans… What comes out of Avenon, or lies between here and there, that could interest our Captain, so, I wonder? Even more, what interest could some branded stable-boy have in any of it… trade goods… routes… manifests to and from?
…There was much more than a simple professional rivalry or any sort of political maneuvering going on, here, Nyx was more than certain. The layers that had already begun to get peeled away, though, had only alluded to the fact that there were many more beneath to go through before the core of the matter was reached and, if he and Cay were to reach that core, there would be need for much more than simply playing along with the bit-parts that Vadim handed them. The information from the Trade Bureau would be only the beginning, Nyx was certain of it. There would be need to press the stable-boy… need to see more of both Bolstoii’s and Dmitrova’s private records... and the assassin’s mind was well into formulating plans of his own on how he might make each of those things happen by the time his breakfast was finished. He hadn’t shared many of these thoughts with Cay… She likely is entertaining similar thoughts, herself, I’ll wager… as the work he had in mind would likely involve more killing and, certainly, more working against Dmitrova and the Hellkites than for them…
Better she not know too much where that is concerned, he thought, tossing the orange peel away and glancing at Cay as they approached Taellyn’s shop, for her own sake.
The bell that hung over the doorway of the tiny store tinkled as they entered and, instinctually, Nyx reached up a hand to silence it, his eyes quickly sweeping the place before settling on the old elven woman who, until now, was intent on the garment she had been sewing.
“Ahhh,” the silver eyed woman beamed as her gaze fell on him, “Steppe son, you return.” Taellyn set the garment she had been working on aside and rose from her seat. “Need that coat mended again? It is covered in blood, but I can fix it for you,” she prattled, her smile widening all the more as her attentions shifted to Cay, “Ohhh… and I see you brought a lady friend with you?”
Nyx rolled his eyes a bit at the Steppe son comment – it had been Taellyn’s way, for longer than the mith’ganni cared to remember, of trying to remind him that he was not where or what he should be. “I can wash the blood out on my own,” he assured the wood-elf as he stepped further into the shop, “it is not I who needs your services but my partner here…”
“Partner, is it,” Taellyn grinned, one slender brow lifting a bit as her silver eyes danced between the tow, “when has the Steppe Son ever taken a partner since leaving the plains, I wonder?”
The mith’ganni offered another rolling of his yellow eyes at that and waved the elder woman’s attentions toward Cay.
Taellyn winked knowingly at Nyx and focused on Cay once again; “Well deary what is it that I can do for you?” Her head cocked slightly to the left as she recognized the cloak draped over the half-elf’s shoulders as the same one she had fashioned for the Steppe Son some years ago; “Remarkable how well that cloak fits to you, that was a custom job…”
It was Nyx’s turn to grin a bit as Cay squeaked out her response; ““I’m just borrowing…”
He watched the two of them for a moment, almost chuckling as Taellyn began hovering about Cay like a humming bird, and the corners of his mouth ticking upwards into a faint smile as the two pattered back and forth in elven over some disagreement as to colors and threadwork. He couldn’t help but wonder at the vehemence with which Cay protested the color that the old seamstress suggested. For her part, though, Taellyn accepted the other woman’s refusal graciously and, even, with a bit of humor.
“Hmm… yes… I see,” Taellyn nodded; her eyes and fingers, having dutifully explored Cayrimsa’s ruined dress, pulled away from the garment and gestured towards a doorway at the back of the shopfront, “Come along then dear, I think I have something for you.
“And you,” The older woman’s eyes moved to Nyx as she ushered the younger to the back of the shop, “I know where all the pockets are on that jacket, if anything appears to be missing when I come back out I will empty out every last one of them before you leave here.”
Raising his hands in a gesture of compliance, the mith’ganni returned the old woman’s grin. “As appealing as that all sounds, Dream-weaver,” he smirked as he leaned himself against a wall, “I shall do my best to resist the lure of all these bolts of cloth and such.”
He heaved a sigh as the two women disappeared into the back room, rubbed at an ache or two that had begun to nag more than he cared to admit in the company of others, and, after a moment of being alone in the main room, allowed himself to sink to an almost seated position. His eyes fell into their habit of perpetually scanning his surroundings – moving from the front door, skimming over the shelves and racks and looms and tables that filled the storefront, pausing for a moment on the doorway that led to that backroom, and returning to the front again – as his mind sought to sort out the myriad thoughts and plans that still whirled about therein. Nyx actively tried to avoid those of Cay that didn’t directly relate to the task that they were currently assigned but, standing here in Taellyn’s shop with the old dreamspeaker so close at hand, he found it fairly difficult to keep them from sneaking back to the forefront. Finally, though, after promising himself that he would come back (without Cay) and tell the old woman about the dreams he had experienced recently, he managed to keep them at bay long enough to start pulling the other thoughts together and begin tying the ends of one to the beginnings of another. By the time the muffled murmuring of voices that had been drifting to his ears from the backroom had fallen to silence, Nyx was content that his mindset was, once again, where it should be and that he had solid markers in place for what he would need to get done in the coming days…
The faint rustling of long skirts and the light-as-air footfalls of a practiced step interrupted his slow scanning of the place, called to a halt his finally level perusal of thoughts, and drew his eyes toward the portal to the backroom. Taellyn emerged from that doorway with a blue satin pillow edged with black velvet, which she handed to Nyx with a smirk upon her aged lips.
“From your partner,” she smiled in response to the somewhat befuddled expression that Nyx offered as he warily accepted the cushion, “She said you needed one…”
He couldn’t help but smile at that and his eyes, lit by a warmer light than Taellyn could remember seeing in them for quite some time, flicked towards the backroom for an instant before being called back to the seamstress as she continued to speak. Am I to take this to mean you may come calling again, then, Cay?
“…She is an interesting peredhil,” she observed, evoking a reflexive nod from the mith’ganni, “Like you she has severed the ties with who she is, and with those who could remind her of such.”
The sheepish grin that formed on his lips was as reflexive and unbidden as the nod he’d offered and he almost had to force the look he flashed the old woman, warning her to leave his ghosts alone.
Taellyn, of course, ignored that cautionary glare as she always had and smiled all the more when she detected the effort it had taken him to deliver it. “I wonder if you see yourself when you look at her,” she said softly, “And I wonder if that is why you look upon her with such sympathy and respect…”
The thoughts regarding Cay that he had so carefully set aside moments ago came rushing back to Nyx’s mind at that goading and his mouth opened to reply. The reply didn’t come, though. Before the words could pass from mind to mouth, Cay had emerged from the backroom and the sight of her in her new dress dropped Nyx’s jaw open beyond the point of being able to speak...
Even more beautiful than before, yes?
…Nyx blinked, forced his mouth shut, and tried desperately not to outright ogle this vision that he (let alone anyone else) could scarcely recognize as the “Witch of the Wharf”…
“Well,” the vision spoke with a haughty air that was tempered by the slight smile that played on her lips, “is my servant ready to accompany me on my errands this afternoon?”
Cay offered him back his cloak and all he could do, at first, was offer a dumbstruck nod as he reached out and closed his free hand around the shadowy fabric… he wanted to ignore the cloak and let his fingers move beyond it to touch her and, it seemed, there weren’t any words in common or elven that could possibly come close to giving voice to the thoughts he had in that split second. Taellyn’s scarcely repressed giggle, though, snapped him free enough from the spell that seeing Cay in her new garb had cast over him and he was, at last, able to take the cloak from her arm and wrap it around his own shoulders. “Of course, my mistress,” he managed to say as, fastening the cloak in place, he sketched a bow and offered an accommodating smile, “where you lead, I shall follow, arwenamin.”
His gaze lingered on her for a moment longer and, then, with no small amount of effort in doing so, finally turned to regard Taellyn. “Splendid work, Dreamweaver,” he said appreciatively, “You did leave her with some coin in her purse, though, I hope?”
“I only ever seek to empty yours, Steppe Son,” the old seamstress grinned back, “and you and I both know the reasons for that…”
“Mmm… something you and I will have need to speak of later, perhaps,” Nyx replied, glancing at Cay again before reaching for the door latch, “There are signs in the stars and… dreams… that I should like to hear your say upon…”
Taellyn’s brows climbed high at that, a look of genuine surprise painting her features. “Dreams?” The woman blinked at him much the way he had blinked at Cay only an instant before. “You?! I was not aware that you even slept, Steppe Son…”
“As I said, Taellyn,” Nyx replied as he pulled the door open, “a conversation to be had another time, yes?”
His moon-hued eyes swept back to Cay, then, and he made a sweeping gesture as he held the door open for her; “Shall we be off about your business then, my Mistress?”
Posted on 2009-12-22 at 20:52:32.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:41:06 by Eol Fefalas
He spoke of dreams. The stray fibers of life gathering together in the cesspool of the subconscious only to haunt those while they sleep.
Do you dream of me Nyx? Is that what troubles you so about your slumber?
She kept her thoughts to herself, however, and instead swept out of the little shop and out into the streets. Quickly they made their way through the deep maze of Drasnia. She took the lead, letting him trail behind the flutter of her skirts, but always aware of his presence just out of the corner of her vision. She struggled to keep her thoughts on what they would be doing, instead of what Nyx had spoken of earlier to her.
“I do not know what we are looking for exactly. He did not go into any further detail than wanting the manifests from Avenon…” she offered to him through her conflicted thoughts while they walked.
Not long after that the two of them stand at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the Trade Bureau. The elegant columns rising off the stairs up to the heavy dome that caps it off. For a moment she stands on the bottom step and looks up at it, her hair catching in a slight draft that sweeps along the stairs.
Such beautiful things they are capable of creating.
With a shake of her head her eyes flit toward him with almost a playful gleam to them.
“Let’s see how quick you are on your toes…” she whispers just under her breath so that only he can hear. The next moment she rises to her full height and smoothes out her skirts, letting herself take on the persona she must now be.
The person I was always meant to be.
Keep telling yourself this.
Inside light filters down through an oculus in the dome, shimmering on the highly polished floor. It echoes with the many voices of those inside. A large desk in the middle appears to be the central hub, around it doors exit off to many other halls and rooms. Benches fill the spaces between the doors where those awaiting service sit, most with impatience.
At first no one gives them much mind, a female human and her elven slave tagging along behind her. When she is certain that no one is questioning their act she takes a few steps into the main foyer. Without warning her hand snakes over to Nyx, she grabs the pillow from his grip with a quick wink and raises it above her head.
“Alright… I am sick and tired of being pushed around and swindled by these horrid elves, someone here has to be capable of assisting me. Someone in this city has to have the intelligence and the ability to actually help me with this or I swear to Naxir I will curse the blooming lot of you to poverty!” Her voice, high and haughty, rises over the murmurs of the crowd that seem to diminish as she finishes. Eyes immediately draw to her, and if he pays attention Nyx might notice a slight flicker in her amber fires but it quickly flares up to confidence.
Those standing in on the floor move aside to let her approach the desk in the middle of the room. The pillow is brought down onto the main desk and she stares at the young male clerk who is seated behind it. The skinny lad blinks his overly large eyes and pushes a ledger her direction along with a pen settled in a mottled bottle of ink.
“Who is she?”
“I have no idea… is that a Twilighter Slave?”
The voices go on around them, but she ignores them all.
“If you could just sign your name on the list… and note what department you need to speak to you’ll be seen shortly m’lady.” His voice was nasally. Fingers fidgeting along the edge of the ledger, curling back the corner of a page.
“Your lady!?” The clerk jumped at her sudden expletive, jostling the ink bottle. His fingers reached over and stilled it before it spilled more than a few drops on the ledger. Wide eyes staring up at her.
“How dare you think you can use such familiar terms with me!? And don’t you think that if I knew what department I wanted to speak to that I would be in that office now, instead of wasting my time with some fool such as yourself?” She turned and brought her eyes to Nyx, “You see Lathon? This is exactly what I was talking about, this city does not have a single competent citizen.”
Quickly she spun back to the clerk and leaned over the counter fixing her eyes on him. “Now… I am being swindled by a puddle of elven pond scum and I need someone here who would be in charge of recording transportation of goods to help me. Obviously that isn’t you, so if you would kindly point me in the direction of someone who has the capacity to think for themselves I would be very appreciative.”
“Ma’am you need to sign the book…” disappearing behind the desk as he sunk back into his chair.
The ledger slammed shut under her hand with a thud that bounced off the walls of the main hall. “This is NOT acceptable. I’ve already been to three other office’s this morning and no one can give me a straight answer!”
“Excuse me…” an authoritative voice said behind them. Cay spun on her heels and found herself staring at a middle aged man with a full head of dark hair and a fine jaw line. The man stood a few inches taller than her and wore a formal suit of dark green, the bright blue sash given to government officials crossing his chest. “Perhaps I could be of assistance, Lady…” he swept her a bow.
Like a butterfly taking flight a smile fluttered across Cay’s lips, and for a moment even touched her eyes as she dipped the man a small curtsy. “If you could I would be most grateful.” Her tone much softer than what had been thrown at the poor clerk.
“My office is just over there, let us go speak about your dilemma privately.” The man swept an arm toward a door to their left.
“Thank you.” The pillow is swept off the counter and she throws a pointed glare at the clerk before motioning to Nyx. For a moment her eyes met his and she takes a deep breath. “Come Lathon…”
Tearing her gaze from Nyx she wandered after the man in green. He opened the door he had motioned to and gestured inside. Offering a sweet smile and a gracious bob of her head she stepped inside. The government official waits until Nyx has entered before stepping in himself and closing the door. Cay wanders in and takes a seat without being asked. Her hand waves to her right side, indicating where Nyx should stand.
“Now then… what seems to be the problem Lady, I don’t think you were gracious enough to give me your name…” the official stayed standing and peered down at Cay with a smile.
She held out her hand to him, which he took and softly kissed the back of, letting his lips linger upon her skin a moment longer than needed. It took all her willpower to keep her eyes fixed on the man instead of flitting to her elven companion. “Lady Evanlyn Dionlyspe of Ropesk. My problem concerns these pillows.” Her hand pulls back to hold up the blue satin pillow between her and the government man.
“Pleasure Lady Dionlyspe, or may I call you Evanlyn?” Quiet and full of underlying passions he spoke to her, never even paying mind to the elf who stood behind her, although she certainly was paying mind to him.
“Eva is fine…” just as quietly she whispers back to him, allowing the velvet tones of seduction pour through her words.
“Eva then. I am Lord Reginald Lemoyne. Reg to those who carry such beauty as yourself.”
“Please…” a light laugh escapes her and she shakes her head, “at any rate… Reg… it is these pillows. I’ve ordered…” she pauses and snaps her fingers, keeping her eyes on Reg while she addresses Nyx, “Lathon how many of these did I order again?”
Only then does Reg allow himself to acknowledge Nyx’s presence in the room, but it is brief for soon his eyes are back on ‘Eva.’
“Exactly, 2000 pillows. How many did I pay for, taxes included?”
“And how many did I receive in the shipment this morning?”
“See… do you see my problem? This is the third shipment where this has happened. I think they are falling off the back of the wagon… but I need proof. My slave here, Lathon, has been negotiating with those grass eaters out on the Avenon plain for me to get them. I know you keep very precise records of all shipments, I want to compare them. See how many pillows left Avenon, where they went and where the…” she snaps her fingers again.
“Yes the 216 missing pillows have gone to…”
Reg rubbed his fingers over the stubble speckling his chin. He takes in the story woven by the creature before him, and obviously finds no loose ends. “So you need to the see the manifests of shipments coming from Avenon?”
“Yes, and probably those going into it as well. I’d love to find out that they are sending them back to Avenon and reselling them to me.” She rolls her eyes.
“I would hope that they are not doing such a thing to you my dear. It would be a travesty, but if we can prove it I am sure that the situation can be resolved for you. Well… when did they ship?”
“You see that is another problem. I don’t know. This shipment was two days late as it is, I have no idea when they shipped it out.”
“Eva…” Reg offered a smile. “You know that this is a large endeavor. We’ll have to pull manifests for at least the past month and go through them by hand.”
She leaned over and smiled at him allowing that velvet caress to slip into her voice again. “You can borrow Lathon to assist, and… if it takes a while to finish I suppose that leaves me stranded here in this city for another night.”
He leaned into her, “Does it now?” A hand touched her cheek gently. A tension in her shoulders reveals how she nearly pulls away from that touch as her mind recalls how Nyx had let his own fingers grace upon her skin only hours before. Reg apparently does not notice this slight tug. “And I suppose you have no plans then for the evening?”
“None…” she shakes her head, and allows a smile to pull at her lips.
The hand drifted from her cheek and down her arm before he raised his eyes to Lathon. “Seems like you have your afternoon’s work cut out for you. Two doors down to the left is the record’s office. Leo Trogden works in there, ask for him and tell him I sent you, he will help you gather the documents and go through them.
I was about to head to lunch Eva, perhaps you would join me, we can return this afternoon and check on the progress…” Reg said as he brought his attentions back to ‘Eva.’
“Sounds like a perfect plan. You’ve been so very helpful Reginald. I shan’t forget it.” Her smile follows her fingers as they press against the top of his hand almost with a promise.
Slowly she brings her eyes off her fingers and up to the enraged moons above her. Her breath holds in her chest while she maintains the false smile on her lips. Even now she can read his thoughts without him saying a thing.
…what I did, I would never have done for any other but one… Nyx’s voice, again in her head, always in her thoughts it seemed.
Why are you doing this to him Cay?
It’s my job.
“I expect something by the time I come back Lathon.” She ordered in a cool voice, but in her eyes, if he dared to try and read them right now, seemed to ask only for his mercy.
If he meant what he did not say he will overlook this.
Only if you mean what you have not said… and if he believes it…
Posted on 2009-12-24 at 03:06:46.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:42:54 by Eol Fefalas
As they left Taellyn’s, Nyx fell almost too easily into the role of servant to Cay’s Mistress. The pale mith’ganni skulked along at the accepted three steps behind her and two steps to her right as she breezed confidently along Drasnia’s streets and guided them towards the Trade Bureau. The sight of them, now, in the eyes of any who should happen to look would surely bear out an appearance exactly as their ruse intended. Cay was positively gorgeous in the well-fit, sapphire-hued dress – sparse jewelry and ornamentation aside – and exuded a haughty and almost regal aire as she glided along the cobbled streets. If any didn’t believe her a noble, they certainly didn’t estimate her to be anything less than the wife of a well-to-do merchant, especially with the battered and bruised Twilighter shuffling along at her elbow. With his cloak carefully draped to conceal the few weapons that he carried and the clothing beneath still rather untidy and torn in spots it was not hard for the average Drasnian to dismiss him as little more than the slave he was portraying – likely a troublesome one or, perhaps, a bodyguard given the purple and blue contusions that marred the exposed alabaster skin of his face neck and hands.
“I do not know what we are looking for exactly,” Cay offered, finally breaking the silence that had hung between them since leaving the seamstress’ shop behind, “He did not go into any further detail than wanting the manifests from Avenon…”
“A place to start is all we need,” Nyx answered, finding it difficult not to look at her overlong (which would be inappropriate for a slave to do). He forced his eyes from her and back to the cobbles at his feet; “And we have that. So long as we can get access to the manifests for those caravans bound to and from Avenon and especially those affiliated with Bolstoii’s companies we should likely find what it is we seek even if we know not what it is, yes?” He held his tongue as they passed a small group of humans (who all offered polite nods and greetings to Cay, he noticed) and waited for them to be out of earshot before continuing, again. “I am no merchant or wagon master,” he said, “but, given that there are only a finite number of things that could be on a caravan between here and there that would possibly be of concern to slaves, I imagine whatever it is will be easily enough discovered…”
Nyx fell again into silence as they neared the hustle and bustle that surrounded the Trade Bureau, his gaze discretely sweeping the crowd and chancing, on occasion, to linger on Cay if given the opportunity. Such an opportunity presented itself when the reached the foot of the wide, marble steps that climbed towards the pillared and domed spectacle of the Drasnian trade offices. To Nyx’s eyes, the place was like any other human designed thing – hard, cold, and garishly overstated – but to Cay’s it seemed, given the way she marveled at it for a long moment, it was a thing of beauty and source of pride perhaps. He wondered, watching the breeze toy with a strand of her hair, what thoughts played in her mind as she stared up at the edifice… and what she must have thought when she discovered the place that he called home…
She thinks that humans are far superior to your kind, Shyndyn, whispered a voice that had been silent in his mind for some while, and she wishes that her own blood wasn’t tainted by the blood of elves…
A scowl twisted the mith’ganni’s features then. Whether it was because it irritated him that Prien had deigned to speak to him at all or, rather, because the Executioner’s estimation rang of truth, though, Nyx couldn’t decide… nor could he decide whether or not to even acknowledge the god… and it began to anger rather than simply irritate him.
Look at you! Playing her slave once more after all it got you last time. I would have thought you would have learned from these last hours, my disciple, that this… these thoughts… these feelings that you have… or even her… none of this is intended for you. You swore your fealty to me. Your life is mine. Accept it and let us get on with our business…
His jaw tightened and eyes narrowed as Prien persisted and Nyx was making ready a reply when Cay’s playfully flashing eyes caught his. A bit of the tension eased from his features at that mischievous glance and the god’s voice was drowned out by her whispering voice.
“Let’s see how quick you are on your toes,” she said softly, assuming an even more confident posture, smoothing her dress, and sweeping up the steps.
He nodded, waited for her to be three steps ahead, and, keeping his eyes on her as she went, shambled along in her wake. Cay was playing her role well, Nyx thought, as they passed through the row of columns at the head of the stairs and into the main foyer. She paused here, unexpectedly, and he watched her survey the room with a hint of trepidation lighting her eyes. The glances and accompanying murmurs that met them threatened her impersonation, it appeared. Do not hesitate, Cayrimsa, Nyx tried to transmit the thought as his own steps mirrored hers, you must believe before any of these others will…
The flicker of uncertainty disappeared from Cay’s eyes as quickly as it had come… as quickly as Nyx’s last thought had sought to reach her… and she fell seamlessly back into the ruse. Once again, she affected a purposeful stride and led them a few steps further into the room, then, with a wink as sudden as the action it took to do so, she snatched the pillow from his hands and raised it high above her head. The deception she crafted next was as finely woven as the tapestry that hung over the palette in her rooms. In fact, had he not known who she really was, Nyx would have believed her to be the indignant and infuriated noble that she pretended to be.
There had been only one more, very brief flicker of insecurity in her eyes when she first began her tirade but that one passed even faster than the first. The crowd parted before them as, shouting her dissatisfaction, she stormed towards the center of the place. The clerk who attended the central desk met them and did his best to corral her with protocol and procedure but, true to the incensed aristocrat persona that she had affected, Cay was having none of it and easily cowed the skinny little round-ear. That, as she had no doubt intended, brought upon them the attentions of a Trade official with power sufficiently beyond that of the stammering little receptionist. The softened, almost flirtatious tone she took with the government man, then, gained them audience in his private offices ahead of citizens who had been waiting far longer and were certainly better-known.
There was a strange twisting in Nyx’s gut, though, when he glanced at the green-suited short-life and read more than concern for maintaining order in the man’s eyes as reason for the invitation he had extended to Cay. He told himself that it didn’t matter… that it was a common and typically very effective ploy to work the lusts and desires and weaknesses of a mark or informant in situations like this… Such things have never bothered you before. Was it not Sylla’s charms and wiles that got you close to Gracchus? You did not flinch at that… Different was it? …
It was only then that Nyx realized his jaw had clenched tight enough to make the muscles in his face ache. He snarled inwardly, banishing the ridiculous thoughts that threatened to distract him and forced the tension from his visage before he turned his gaze to Cay in silent acknowledgement of her command. Well done,</i> he nodded faintly when his eyes met hers.
After waiting, again, for Cay to be ahead of him by three steps, ‘Lathon’ shadowed her to the man’s office and, after she entered and seated herself, obediently stood where she indicated he should. He kept his head lowered and his hands clasped before him as an accompanying slave would do in the presence of his ‘betters’ but when the man approached, asked again after the source of her displeasure and coaxed her for a name, Nyx found one of his hands literally itching to feel the hilt of his blade against it’s palm. And when, after ‘Lady Dionlyspe’ had graced the man with her moniker, the man’s lips lingered too long on the hand she had offered, the mith’ganni was grateful that his cloak concealed the movement of his hand doing just that...
“…I am Lord Reginald Lemoyne. Reg to those who carry such beauty as yourself.”
“Please…” she giggled at the man, tossing her head in a subtly-flirtatious dismissal of his compliment, “at any rate… Reg… it is these pillows. I’ve ordered…”
Nyx controlled the snarl that threatened his lips, ignored the thoughts that flashed like strokes of lightning in his mind, and even kept his eyes from so much as flicking in their direction, but his fingertips still lingered on the hilt of his weapon. He was grateful when she snapped her fingers at him and gave him something to do other than stand and fume…
“Lathon,” she demanded, “how many of these did I order again?”
Lord Lemoyne actually looked at him, then, and Nyx’s hard-glinting eyes held the human’s gaze perhaps a little longer than they should have. “2000, Mistress,” he answered flatly, lowering his eyes once again.
Cay kept him engaged, forcing his mind to come up with and keep track of numbers for the responses she demanded, and expertly wove him deeper into her tapestry of deception and kept him focused on that role. By the time the overtly coy exchange between ‘Eva’ and Reg had steered progress in the direction it needed to go, Nyx’s hand had even drifted away from the kukri, at last, and was once again clasped with the other as it should have been. Even better, he didn’t have to force it to remain there until…
“Eva, you know that this is a large endeavor. We’ll have to pull manifests for at least the past month and go through them by hand.”
“You can borrow Lathon to assist, and… if it takes a while to finish I suppose that leaves me stranded here in this city for another night.”
You know where this is going, yes?
Lemoyne leaned in closer to Cay; “Does it now?”
Nyx’s left hand clamped down on his right, the pressure of the grip shooting painful reminders of the needles that had been shoved under his nails the night before through his hand, up his arm, and into his chest.
“And I suppose you have no plans then for the evening?” Lemoyne’s hand stroked gently over Cay’s… Lady Dionlyspe’s… cheek and the pain kindled a fire in Nyx’s chest. He cinched down harder on his right hand with the left, keeping the jerk of his elbow from traveling further down the arm.
“None…” Cay shook her head and smiled softly up at the round-ear.
You see, Prien snickered over whatever it was his own inner voice was trying to whisper just then, More of a taste for the still living short-lives than for an already dead point-ear from an already dead people…
It was almost more than Nyx could bear and, when Lemoyne’s hand drifted from her cheek and traced down along Cayrimsa’s arm, almost more than the mith’ganni could do to keep from opening the man from crotch to craw as he had the Legionnaire just days before.
“Seems like you have your afternoon’s work cut out for you,” the government man said, lifting his eyes to Nyx’s once again, and, hopefully, missing the murderous fires that raged behind them, “Two doors down to the left is the record’s office. Leo Trogden works in there, ask for him and tell him I sent you, he will help you gather the documents and go through them.”
The nod Nyx offered in reply was stiff and, perhaps, not as deferential as it should have been but, this too seemed to go unnoticed by the lustful bureaucrat and the man’s eyes turned, almost immediately back to Cay… Eva…
“I was about to head to lunch Eva,” Reg continued, already having dismissed the woman’s servant in his mind, “perhaps you would join me, we can return this afternoon and check on the progress…”
The mith’ganni’s eyes, also, sought out those amber pools as if to verify that his mistress concurred with the scarcely-veiled orders Lemoyne had just given him… and hoped that, when he looked at her, his expression would appear as it should when a slave sought its owner’s permission.
“Sounds like a perfect plan. You’ve been so very helpful Reginald,” Lady Eva cooed, smiling as her fingers delicately rest atop Lamoyne’s hand, “I shan’t forget it.”
Her eyes lifted from where her hand lingered atop Lamoyne’s, then, and found Nyx. “I expect something by the time I come back, Lathon.”
“Of course, my Mistress,” the mith’ganni replied with a compliant nod after loosening his jaw enough to speak the words, “worry not. I shall have what you need before you have finished your lunch.”
It took a scant second longer than it should have for his yellow eyes to peel away from the woman and turn to the Trade officer. “By your leave, my lord,” Nyx forced a short bow to the man before, at last abandoning his post at Cay’s right and moving stiffly for the door…
You should consider yourself lucky that the round-ear was too engrossed in Cay to have caught the thoughts in your eyes, Nyx, his inner voice rebuked.
Yes… lucky me… he grumbled in response as he stalked out of Lemoyne’s suite and found his way to the records office.
What angers you so about this? You have not slipped when it has been others playing the role that she plays now… No reaction at all when it was Tselika serving as your lure… none when Sylla donned that same mantle…
Neither of them were her. He retorted.
Prien, might have been correct in the estimation that your feelings are more trouble than they are worth where Cayrimsa is concerned, hm?
Nyx shut the voice out, then, and pushed through the door indicated by Lemoyne. A heavy-set but hardly fat man with thinning hair the color of sand and large, watery green eyes looked up at him from behind a tower of papers and ledgers that were strewn across the table behind which he sat; “Can I help you?”
Nyx bowed his head. “Yes,” he answered humbly, “sir, I am to review the manifests for all Avenon born and bound caravans in the past month, sir.”
“Is that so,” the man asked dubiously, setting aside the quill he had been clutching in one oversoft hand and smoothing his robes as he rose from his seat and peered curiously at the elf that stood just inside the door, “all by yourself?”
“No, sir,” Nyx answered, still not lifting his eyes from the floor, “Lord Lemoyne informed my Mistress Dionlyspe that a Leo Trogden would be available to supervise me, sir.”
“Lemoyne, eh?” The records clerk clucked his tongue, sighed, and, Nyx was sure, he actually heard the man’s eyes rolling in their sockets. “I’m sure he did…right after he wooed your mistress into joining him on a tour of the Bureau, I’ll wager, or a stroll through the financial district…”
“Dessert, more likely, knowing him,” the man mumbled as he came out from behind the desk and approached Nyx.
“Sir?” Yellow eyes flashed as they lifted, reflexively, to regard the clerk.
“Nothing,” the man chuckled softly waving a hand as if to erase his last remark from the air, “nothing at all.” His advancing steps faltered when they met the elf’s eyes and took in the battered face in which they were set; “You’re a mith’ganni…”
“How curious,” the man was intrigued, it seemed, and, unlike the typical human, the smile on his round face appeared to be warm and almost sincere, “it’s not often that we see full-blooded Twilighters here in Drasnia. Half-bloods bred in the slave pits, every now and again, and the occasional dancer or whore in the more exclusive brothels but…”
“Yes sir,” Nyx muttered, trying not to recoil as the paunchy clerk invaded his space and studied him like some freak in a traveling circus, “my people typically do not adapt well to service, I have been told...” His fingers moved to touch the bruised side of his face but fell away before reaching it – it wouldn’t be appropriate for a slave to complain about his treatment, even passively, but the gesture aided in the ruse… “Please, sir,” he asked, mustering the appropriate humility and casting his eyes to the floor again, “My Mistress has demanded results ere she returns. Leo Trogden, if you please, sir?”
“Of course,” the man nodded, taking a step back as if he had suddenly realized that he was making the elven slave uncomfortable, “forgive me, my boy… I am Leo Trogden. Please…” he turned his back on Nyx, gesturing for the elf to follow as he tottered deeper into the room “…come this way. If you are to have results by the time Reg is, ahem, finished with your mistress I think we’ll not have long, eh?”
Nyx wasn’t sure whether he wanted to chuckle or snarl in response to Leo’s innuendo but, since the clerk seemed to find the jab at Lemoyne’s ‘stamina’ humorous, the assassin somewhat nervously echoed the round-ear’s laughter as he followed him past the desk and towards a long row of shelves and cabinets that lined the rear wall of the place.
“What is your name, mith’ganni,” Leo asked, tracing a sausage shaped finger over the spines of several ledgers that were arranged on one of the lower shelves.
“Hmm,” Leo glanced back at him for an instant, then returned to his perusal of the bound volumes, “rather a longish moniker for a Twilighter isn’t it? All manifests bound for or from Avenon in the past month, you said?”
“Yes, sir. Please sir. My Mistress found my former name distasteful,” Nyx answered, watching as Leo pulled first one and then two more tomes from their places on the shelf, “and difficult to pronounce, sir. Twas one of my first tasks in her service to learn the name my Mistress preferred.”
“I see,” Leo said, turning from the shelves and offering the ledgers he had selected to the slave, “Here you are, Lathon… there are several documents from more recent weeks that we have yet to bind. I’ll need to fetch those but this should give you a start…
What was the name you had before?”
“I am not permitted to speak it, sir,” Nyx replied, bowing shortly in thanks as he accepted the leather-bound tomes.
“Even if I promised not to mention that you did?”
Nyx affected a sheepish smile and lowered his head a bit more; “I dare not risk it, sir. At your command, I will tell you, of course, but…”
“Of course, of course,” Leo waved a hand and took on a rather embarrassed demeanor, himself, “I’ll not demand it of you, my boy. It seems you manage to get yourself into enough trouble without currying to a curious old fool such as myself, eh?”
“Yes, sir. I am sure you are no fool, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Another wave of the meaty hand dismissed the gratitude and gestured towards a smallish table in the corner; “No thanks necessary, Lathon. If you’d like to sit there and set to your task, I’ll go and find the remainder of the manifests. I can trust you here by yourself for a few minutes, can’t I? ”
“Yes, sir,” Nyx said, offering the standard bow of thanks again, before shuffling towards the indicated workspace, “I shall not move from this spot until you return, sir.” He deposited the books that Leo had already handed him on the tabletop and, without sitting in the chair that was provided for the purpose, opened the first and began to study the pages therein.
“You can sit, if you like, Lathon,” he heard Leo say over the rather heavy footsteps that now moved away from him, “Naxir knows that I couldn’t suffer through reading so much if I had to stand all day to do it.”
“No, sir,” Nyx murmured almost absently, “I cannot. Mistress says that luxuries such as chairs and beds are for real people, sir. Not for point-eared dogs, sir.”
“Of course,” Leo almost sighed, “Very well, then. I’ll return in a moment.”
When Nyx sensed that Trogden had finally left him unattended for a moment, he spread all three of the tomes out on the table before him and, abandoning the plodding, only-half-literate pace of reading that he had pretended to with Leo hovering about, began tearing through the pages of all of them at once. He wasn’t concerned with all of the manifests for all of the trains that ran to and from Avenon, of course, Nyx only needed to see those for any of Bolstoii’s caravans. So it was that he skipped most all entries in those volumes excepting those which were headed with the names of Bolstoii’s companies and teams and set himself to memorizing the details. Nyx scoured and absorbed each one of these he came upon, etching details of not only the loads of trade-goods that were documented there but, also, the lesser things such as teamsters, guard contingents, rations, equipment, animals, and slaves that were (both estimated and actual) that were appended to each. At first glance, there didn’t appear to be anything overtly out of sorts with any of the manifests individually but, taken as a whole, and compared one to the other, a curious pattern of discrepancies became noticeable… a wagon weight, here, that didn’t bear out the load that was inventoried and supposedly accounted for… additional equipment, there, that couldn’t possibly be required for a simple trade run across the continent… a tally of slave assets that had lost a name or two between departure and arrival with no accompanying death or sales records…
Heavy footfalls, muffled by a bit of distance, still, alerted Nyx to Trogden’s return and the assassin quickly closed the second and third volumes and flipped to a random page near the end of the first. He was feigning an intense interest in the manifest on that page when the stout little man came back into the room carrying a sheaf of loose parchments in his hands and a scroll case tucked under one meaty arm.
“Already near the end of that one, are you,” Leo grinned, apparently impressed with the elf’s ability to have made it through that much of one of the books, “Your mistress has provided you with some education, then, I suppose?”
I was reading before you were born, you pudgy, patronizing bastard! And in a tongue far more eloquent than this trade common garbage that you people call a language!
“Insisted upon it, sir,” Nyx answered, “Milady has not the time to be bothered with tedium such as business details and I would be loathe to let her tire her eyes with the effort of doing so, sir.”
“Of course,” Leo said again, depositing the stack of papers beside the two unopened volumes, laying the scroll case there, too, and then patted Nyx on the shoulder. The motion the elf made at the touch was mistaken by the human as a flinching at unaccustomed contact; had Trogden known that he had narrowly evaded having his neck snapped in that instant, though, he likely would have soiled his trousers. “I’m sorry,” the man said, withdrawing the hand and embarrassedly clasping it with the other…
The round-eared hwandi actually feels sorry for you, his own inner voice noted.
He wants to do to you what Reg is likely doing to Cay, right now, Prien’ sniped.
Pach him and pach you, Nyx growled back even as he nodded a faint acknowledgement of Leo’s ‘apology.’
“If you’ll tell me what it is you’re looking for, Lathon,” the clerk’s voice said next, “I’d be happy to help you find it…”
Eh… the Executioner’s voice made a retching sound, kill him before he kisses you…
Nyx shook his head and glanced over at Trogden, then at the pile of work the man had abandoned when he had arrived. “I am sure you have more important matters to attend, sir,” he demurred, “I shall manage, I think, but thank you.”
Leo looked a bit disappointed but nodded and backed away. “Very well, my boy,” he smiled, “should you need me, though, don’t hesitate to say so.”
“I shan’t, sir.” He turned his attentions back to the work in front of him as the other man drifted back to his own desk. For the next hour or more, even though he had begun to get a better idea of exactly what he was looking for, Nyx pretended to plod through the journals, gathering more information to support the theory he had begun to piece together… gave curt answers when Trogden asked over him… and tried not to think of what Cay might be doing while he waited for her to return.
Posted on 2009-12-27 at 00:04:17.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:53:29 by Eol Fefalas
Her eyes lifted from where her hand lingered atop Lamoyne’s, then, and found Nyx. “I expect something by the time I come back, Lathon.”
“Of course, my Mistress, worry not. I shall have what you need before you have finished your lunch.” She thought she heard the slightest tinge in his voice at the word ‘lunch’ and caught a waiver in those moon hued eyes.
Displeasure… disdain… and perhaps jealousy. That’s what you see Cay. He has not voiced his feelings but they are there in his eyes. How long shall you feign ignorance?
His eyes stayed on hers longer than would have been appropriate, but finally tore up to Reg. “By your leave, my lord.”
Cay sat in the high backed chair and watched as Nyx gave a small bow to the Trade officer then spun out of the room stiff as a board, only his cloak fluttering slightly from where it hung on his arm, no doubt hiding the weapons he was never without. The door clicked shut and with it she nearly jumped, the fires in her eyes flickering for a moment with uncertainty. Wondering if whatever he would find in those tomes of records would be worth what she was doing now.
For his part, though, Reg did not seem to notice the momentary lack of confidence in ‘Eva.’ Instead it seemed that his eyes were fixed on the nearly perfect slope of her bosom that the bodice was clinging to.
“Well this is better… alone with you finally. Now what was that you were saying about being grateful?” his voice purred through her thoughts and she stopped staring at the door where Nyx no longer was and looked over at the human before her. He was good looking, she noted a bit to herself.
Surely Nyx understood that this had nothing to do with that though, that this was a job. Perhaps it had the potential of being more enjoyable than some she had partaken in over the years, but still a job.
Or a punishment for him? Her stomach turned and she fought to prove that the voice was wrong.
“What were you saying about lunch?” her voice came out with more confidence and velvety sultriness than she felt inside. A fact that pleasantly surprised her.
“Lunch? Perhaps we should work up an appetite first. Your slave will be awhile with the manifests no doubt, no need to rush things…” He leaned back against his desk and held out a hand for her.
Her fingers moved toward his but stopped short. Turning she glanced at the door and let a slightly coy look fall over her face. “I don’t think this is the place Reg…” lowering her amber eyes demurely.
“Suddenly shy my pet? Don’t fret…” He rose and went to the door, a flick of his wrist and the lock struck home. “There, now we are really alone. Better?”
Slowly she bobbed her head. “A little. I just wouldn’t want to get you in trouble…”
His hand floated into her field of vision then and she finally took it, letting him help her up out of the chair until she found herself pulled close to him. The scent of cigar smoke, concrete and sweat filled her nose. Against her his body was firm and so very human. Not the more slender and agile frame she had under her fingers the previous night. She cursed herself when she realized she was comparing Reg to Nyx, and cursed again when she realized that she found Reg wanting. Human eyes wandered down her face and to the swell of her bosom again, they shone as they watched the soft flesh rise and push against the bodice with her breath. “I would risk any amount of trouble to spend this afternoon with you Eva…”
His hand moved from her hand to wrap around her waist, pressing his fingers against the small of her back and pulling her closer yet. Her eyes closed behind them she saw Nyx, his ghostly pale naked body dangling from the rafters in Dmitrova’s office, blood dripping down the inside of his thigh, his eye swollen shut. Her breath caught in her chest even as her bosom rose high against Reg’s chest.
Would you risk that for me Reg? Would anyone else risk that for me?
At the sight of her deep breath he leaned in bringing his lips against her cheek, kissing her gently once then just letting his breath play against her, taking in her smell, pausing a moment at the slightly fishy scent that swam with the others she was wrapped in.
No fishy smell was needed to turn her own stomach at that moment. She forced her eyelids to part and pulled her head back to look at Reg. “Are you married?”
“What?” Reg paused and let his hand drop an inch off the small of her back.
“Are you married? You heard me. You said you would risk trouble to be with me… I want to know how much I am risking by wanting to be with you…” she offered with a slight smile.
“It’s a rather loveless union I am in. The whole affair was practically planned by our parents. I assure you no one will know of this…” He whispered and leaned back in to her. The hand that had dropped in near surprise at her question now found a new place to rest. By the smile on his lips she could tell he enjoyed this new position for his hand.
“Reg… please. This is rather fast and… a bit too… exposed for my taste, especially with a married man. Let us to lunch and we will work something out for this evening.”
Reg shook his head. “I don’t think that is going to work Eva.”
“No…” His weight shifted against her, pushing her back against the side of the desk while his hips ground closer to her own, showing her the reaction she was causing in him. “I don’t think I’m in a condition to go out for lunch… going need you to help me with that.”
“Reg… I really think tonight…”
He cut her off though, “Not tonight, now Eva. I’m helping you out, you help me out… if you are any good we’ll arrange something for tonight…” His tone taking on a more commanding than diplomatic edge.
Her eyes narrowed a bit and she brought her hand to his chest, trying to gently push him back from her. “Excuse me?”
What Cay? Something wrong? Isn’t this what you are used to? A little rough and ready… maybe if you ask really nice he’ll slap you around some like Dugan did. I bet he would… would that help get you off? Or at least get your thoughts off Nyx?
This has nothing to do with Nyx…
Then why does it bother you so much suddenly?
A tiny voice whispered in the back of her mind, Because Nyx respects me… and would never do this to me…
“Don’t play innocent on me now Eva. You said you would be grateful for my assistance in your little pillow drama. I’ve been more than helpful I think. Time for you to live up to your words. It will go a little easier if you do so willingly… hell you might actually find you enjoy it if you give me what I want instead of making me take it.”
She narrowed her eyes further. “Is this how you treat all the women who you ‘help’?”
“No…” He shook his head and brought his hand to her cheek, brushing along it toward her ear with a gentleness that contrasted the look in his eyes. “Only the ones as beautiful as you…”
His fingers wound dangerously close to the scar and she quickly pulled back with a shudder, leaning further back onto the desk, feeling a bottle of ink pressing into her kidney.
“Reg… lets start this over. You don’t want to do this, not like this. Lets have a drink and see what happens… surely you have some brandy in here…”
He shook his head, leaning further into her, the edge of the desk dug into her buttocks and the ink bottle pierced her liver. A muffled cry pulled from her lips as she stared up into his intense eyes. “I’ll get us a drink when I’ve finished with you... now just behave…”
For a human… haven’t you always behaved for humans? In your desire to be accepted as one you have always accepted what they do to you. How is this different?
Because he isn’t accepting me. He is using me…
About time you figured that out…
A deep pull of air into her lungs in preparation for a scream that never happened. Reg was a step ahead of her and clamped his hand over her mouth, the force pushed her down onto the desk, the ink bottle pierced her hard for a moment then titled to its side, leaving pain and a black streak in its wake. Reg’s other hand came up and righted the bottle before it spilled all of its dark contents across his desk. Stained with fresh ink those fingers found their way to the rapidly rising and falling crest of her bosom. They traced down her soft skin, leaving his mark upon her flesh. When they found the edge of her bodice he tugged on it, and she felt the seam under her arm give as cool air breathed across the newly exposed skin. She moaned and shifted under him looking for an escape. Reg was stronger than her, though and pinned her to the desk with little effort. His fingers slid further down her body, exploring the curves that Nyx had so admired until they reached her hips.
You know better than to panic Cay. Think… give in or fight… those are your choices. But don’t panic
“If you would just relax and stop trying to scream you might like this… others certainly have. But if you want it like this I’m not opposed. Just makes you that much tighter…” he whispered the last sentence as he brought his lips the swell of ink stained flesh. His one hand continued to stay clamped over her lips as his other hand moved from her hips to his own, beginning to loosen the ties on his pants.
I’m not going to panic. But he will.
She held her breath, pushing her bare breast up into his face more as she did, feeling his tongue, wet and salty, against her. He groaned a little and started to try and wiggle her legs open with his knee while his fingers worked faster on his pants. Just as they pulled out the strings he make a surprised little noise as he felt her own slim fingers join his there and actually slip inside the green fabric.
“Oh yeah… that’s it Eva…” his voice muffled against her skin as she gathered him into her hand.
Yeah… we’ll see how you like this…
His apparently pleasure in this act lasted only a moment. The next moment he felt her teeth find a handle on the fleshy part of his palm, even as her fingers gripped the other purchase she had recently found.
“What the -! You Bi…” The insult was not finished. As soon as his bloodied hand freed her lips she began to weave her spell. Simultaneously nails dug into the soft flesh between her fingers, making certain that the spell would have no chance of faltering due to lack of proper contact.
Reg’s face paled and his eyes glazed over. Spittle formed in the corners of his mouth, which bubbled out when he muttered a squeek.
“I told you you didn’t want to do this…” She whispered in response, giving the old Lemoyne family jewels a final crushing squeeze. Her hand finally snaked out of his pants and moved back to his chest, pushing him backward.
His feet caught on each other and he fell back into the chair she had been sitting in. Tears burned in his eyes and his hands cupped over the goods she had damaged.
“Why?” he managed to whisper around the pain. Her head simply shook in response then turned toward the door while she struggled to catch her breath again.
“I’m sorry Nyx…” she whispered at the closed door, while she sat on the desk listening for any signs that this struggle had been heard and was drawing attention. When it seemed that a few muffled noises from the Lemoyne office did not warrant further investigation from anyone outside she took a deep breath before examining herself.
Reg’s fingerprints still marked her skin and her dress. One side of her bodice was ripped and hung down to reveal more of the stained skin. Touching her face she felt the heat coming off her cheeks and knew she was flushed, her hair had been tussled, and her mouth was full of his blood.
Not elven blood this time…
She got up and spared only a slight glance at Reg as he sat on the chair, still in pain and still trying to glue together the fibers of his thoughts to figure out why he was in such pain. He would not be a concern for awhile now, what concerned her right now was getting control of herself so she could gather Nyx and get out. An inspection of the dresser near the desk revealed she was correct, he did have brandy.
She poured herself a glass and plopped herself into Reg’s chair behind the desk. The heavy liquid stuck to her tongue and washed away the taste of blood from her mouth. When she swallowed it burned down her throat and warmed her as it calmed her breathing. From there she began to clean herself up. Her fingers played a spell over the ripped seam and it pulled back together. The ink on her skin was scrubbed at with a handkerchief soaked in brandy that she found in Reginald’s drawer. A dark smudge still remained and the fingers dancing down her bodice were also still obvious, she would have to pull her cloak around her to cover them, but it would work. Using her fingers as a comb she pulled her hair back into place, using the polished surface of his desk as a mirror until she was certain that her ears were properly hidden from view.
Only then did she look back over at Reg. Color had started to return to his cheeks as the pain had finally begun to just numb him from the waist down. His eyes were still glazed though, and he stared at her as if he did not know who she was or where she had come from. That was not due to the pain, but to the spell she had dug into his testicles.
“I probably didn’t need to turn you simple with that spell… you were already there, misjudged me didn’t you dear Reg? Most do. But you won’t be doing that again now will you? Or will you?” she reconsidered as she turned her head and looked over at his nearly thoughtless eyes.
Will you do this to them all?
A smile curled at her lips. “No you won’t.” She leaned over the desk and propped her head into her palm as her elbows made contact with the wooden plain. Reg’s eyes moved to hers but still no recognition floated in them. “He’ll make sure of that… Nyx didn’t underestimate me…” She closed her eyes and felt him above her again, his hand pressed into her throat trapping her voice in her chest, felt his lips pressed firmly against hers, his breath in her mouth.
“No he didn’t…” she sighed and opened her eyes again to look at Reg, watching as some of the spittle that had gathered began to dribble down his chin.
“Not so superior are you now?”
And Nyx is superior to this human? Is that what you are saying Cay?
Gently she ran her fingers along the trail that Nyx had caresses earlier that day with another sigh.
“I don’t know what I’m saying. Not anymore.”
Or what you aren’t saying.
A snarl crawled across her lips again and she fell back into the chair, closing her eyes and sipping the brandy while she tried to clear her mind, finding it hard not to be wrapped in her memories of Nyx.
Finally Reg stirred and she opened her eyes again. “Yes… you won’t stay like that forever. I should be on my way soon. But do not think we have parted forever my dear… my love will find you soon enough.” She whispered to the still glassy faced human.
“Shut up…” She set the glass down. It landed next to a stack of Reginald’s personal stationary. At a second glance she noticed the stamp at the bottom of the paper contained not only his contact information for the office, but also for his home. Taking the top sheet she folded it into a square and pressed that into her palm.
“Yes… we will pay a visit I think… soon my dear.” Finally she got out of his chair and gathered her cloak.
Reginald received a pat on the top of his head before she wrapped herself in the blue fabric, picked up the pillow, and headed out of the room.
In the main hall she pulled herself into the same haughty stance she had earlier. The clerk glanced over, noticed the flush of her cheeks and blushed before looking down. Avoiding any other eyes she wandered down to the door Reginald had told ‘Lathon’ to go to.
She swept into the room and looked past the sandy haired man that sat that desk near the door. “Lathon! Lathon have you found what I require or do we need another lesson in what it means to disappoint your mistress?” she called out over his head while her eyes searched out Nyx.
Leo looked up at the voice and offered a smile to Cay, also noting the general flush to her features and the clumsy correction to her hair. “Ah… you must be the lady that Lord Lemoyne was assisting… I’m not sure that Lathon has found what you sent him for… perhaps you could ask Lord Lemoyne to give you the tour of the building while he finishes… if he isn’t too spent after lunch.” There was a slight mocking smile on Leo’s lips.
The murderous glare that she sent the clerk pushed that smile off his lips and shattered it against the marble floor in an instant.
“Watch your tongue or I will have Lord Lemoyne use it polish his desk. I’m here to collect my slave, and nothing else.”
“Lathon!” She called out again. “We have another appointment and we need to leave, now!” Her eyes met his as he scurried forth with all the proper comments and apologies for his ‘station.’ In her chest her heart pounded when she saw him, and wondered just what it was he saw when he looked at her, but hoped that he would hear and see in her eyes that the ‘now’ she had demanded of him was not part of this ruse.
Posted on 2009-12-28 at 20:17:46.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 11:54:50 by Eol Fefalas
“Lathon!” Cay’s voice boomed through the records room, “Lathon have you found what I require or do we need another lesson in what it means to disappoint your mistress?”
Nyx had managed to gather enough information from the bound ledgers as well as the loose sheaves of manifests to lend considerable weight to the theory he had begun to develop in regards to what interest the Bolstoii’s stable-boy might have in them. He had torn a few pages from the three bound tomes that would be useful in helping to illustrate his discoveries to Cay and, though he hadn’t pilfered any of the documents from the loose parchments that Trogden had supplied… it was unlikely that anyone would be reviewing the already bound manifests in the near future but a thorough review was sure to be performed on the others, allowing for modifications or updates to be made and final drafts submitted before they were committed to being covered… he had managed to memorize one or two of the manifests from that set. In particular, the one for a caravan of Bolstoii’s that was scheduled to depart Drasnia for Sethbrook in Avenon within the week; given the oddities in that invoice, Nyx was nearly positive that it was going to be the one that Kiki’s half-moon was most concerned with. Cayrimsa’s very-noble-like entrance into the room (and the rather contentious exchange between her and Trogden that followed) provided Nyx with the noise-cover and visual distraction that he needed to quickly fold and secret away the pages he had stolen and, then, quickly straighten the remaining documents before he finally abandoned the table.
“Yes, my Mistress,” he called as he scurried towards the front of the repository with all due haste as was expected of a slave, “Coming, Mistress.”
“Lathon!” She called out again, even above the pretended apologies and pleas for forgiveness he spieled as he neared the end of the bookcase that obscured direct line of sight to the door, “We have another appointment and we need to leave, now!”
His humbled gaze found Leo first as he came around the wall of shelves and noted, with no small bit of satisfaction, that the man now looked as browbeaten as the receptionist in the main foyer had earlier…
Of course, he smirked inwardly as he sketched what was supposed to be a grateful bow to the man, you shut up when for a ‘lady’ but your mouth runs like the Reyal for the slave-race… If you knew that elven blood ran in her veins, might you harass her with questions about her heritage and her people?
… His gaze tracked to Cay, then, instantly noting her flushed and somewhat disheveled appearance. The set of his features remained the carefully crafted mix of humility and fear that one might expect of a servant who had incurred his mistress’ displeasure but, inwardly, Nyx seethed… felt his stomach churn and his heart turn to stone and burst into angry flame… And you, the words hissed through Nyx’s mind as he took in the faint smudges on her skin and dress and the faint sheen that accompanied being near spent, Did you even bother with lunch and get a meal out of it or, mayhap, did you just let him mount you there on the floor of his office?!… When, at last, his eyes slithered up to meet hers, though, and found something lighting them that he hadn’t been expecting, Nyx felt another churning in his gut and his mind, too, registered that the tone underlying that ‘now’ she had spoken wasn’t the demand of a titled Lady to her slave but more akin to the pleading of one partner to another.
Golden eyes flickered, the flames behind them dancing quickly away from jealous anger and towards a thing much like concern, as they locked to the amber ones that glared back… Something is not right, here…
“Forgive me, Mistress,” he bowed deeply, his eyes not tearing away from hers quite like a slave’s might, the sincerity of that plea going beyond the deception they had crafted, “I should have anticipated your arrival. Have mercy on a doddering point-ear, Mistress. Twas not my intent to delay you.” He was near enough to her, now, to smell the acrid tang of human sweat clinging to her and to read even more into the urgency in her eyes.
Nyx bit his lip in order to keep hold of his slave persona as he turned and offered another, short bow to the clerk; “Milady thanks you for assisting her unworthy servant, sir. You have been most helpful and my Mistress shan’t forget your kindness.”
“Your Mistress is quite welcome, Lathon,” the crestfallen Trogden, still wary of meeting Cayrimsa’s gaze but meeting Nyx’s somewhat easily, murmured in reply.
The mith’ganni turned neatly about, then; strode for the door ahead of Cay only for the purpose of holding it open for “his Mistress” and fell into the proper place behind her as she swept out of the repository, across the foyer, and out to the top of the Trade Bureau’s steps. An untrained eye might have missed the fact that her bearing and countenance, still full of the boorish self-importance that clung to most nobles, seemed a bit forced, as if the façade might crumble away at the first challenge… Nyx noticed, though…
Cay’s step was purposeful and her posture was straight and noble, but while it may have been passable for those that glanced in their direction, to Nyx it seemed it was all the woman could do to keep her bones from forsaking her and letting her flesh drop to the ground in an uncontrolled flop. Even immersed in their roles as they were, she also seemed to go out of her way to avoid looking at him or anyone else for that matter; her eyes narrowed slightly and fixed straight ahead as if she walked in the confines of a featureless tunnel wherein the only thing to be concerned with looking upon was the end. Not as much as a glance did she cast in his direction or any other, nor a word did she utter, in character as Lady Dionlyspe or otherwise, as she led them down the Trade Bureau’s stairway, for a short distance down the promenade in the direction of the Church of Naxir, and, then, at last, off of the cobbled thoroughfare and into an alleyway that twisted away to the north. It was perhaps a dozen steps down the length of that shadowed backstreet that she finally let her illusion collapse.
Nyx had stopped when a faint trembling of her shoulders underneath the finely worked blue cape preceded the shuddering expulsion of a held-too-long breath. His gaze worked over the alley, insuring none had followed them off the street or were traveling their direction from the far end, as her own steps faltered and a small noise squeaked past her lips. And when her knees buckled ever so slightly and she turned, Nyx abandoned his role as Lathon the slave, leaving not a single step between them and discretely readying himself to catch her should she faint away… Something has happened…
Cay’s eyes fluttered closed and she did totter backwards a bit, her shoulders coming to rest against the wall behind her as she drew in a long, deep breath which was expelled with only a hint less shuddering than the last. Her eyes opened and turned downward, staying the alabaster hand that had already begun to move forward to support her, and she gave in to the demands of her jellied knees, sliding down the wall and crouching on her heels with her head resting on her knees for a long moment.
“Cayrimsa,” Nyx said softly, after having watched her for a long while as she tried to steady her breathing, “Are you… did Lemoyne…” He sighed, himself, then, cutting off both of the inner voices before either could interrupt. His eyes flicked up the alley and down once more and then returned to her again as he crouched down in front of her. “Are you alright?”
She didn’t look up at him. Instead her eyes remained fixed on a puddle of sludge that had accumulated in the alley and, staring into that puddle, she muttered simply, "I assure you he's in a much worse state than I am... and I'm not done with him."
A faint smile crept towards the corners of his mouth and a similarly subtle nod accompanied it, drawing his gaze to where the slender fingers of one hand moved to touch the square of fine yellowed paper that was pressed into the palm of the other. He wanted to ask her about her ‘lunch’… wanted to know what had happened and how slowly and painfully Lemoyne needed to die as a result… because there is no doubt that he must die, now… but, at the moment, he couldn’t find the words to do so… he wasn’t particularly accustomed to being tactful with Cay, after all…
As if sensing the thoughts in his head, her eyes snapped up from the fetid little pool, then, and fixed on him with the fires behind them burning. "The last thing I need is your sympathy... concern or... lectures. I have the situation under control,” she snapped, “Just tell me it was worth it, that you found something...”
Nyx blinked, nearly scowled, then, with a snort that sounded more like the beginnings of a chuckle, rose to his feet and offered a hand to help her up.
Cay only stared at the hand for a moment, then sighed and leaned heavily against the wall again; head back, eyes closing. “Please, Nyx,” she said, obviously a little more than exasperated, “just tell me that you found something. I'm not in the mood to play games.”
“I found something,” he said, his hand disappearing back under his cloak as a razor-edged smile stole across his lips, “and I am not playing games…”
The mith’ganni’s eyes roved the alleyway, again, and returned to her once more before he turned and began to prowl towards the far end; “Come, let us find a more out of the way place to discuss it, yes?”
Posted on 2009-12-29 at 03:33:35.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:03:38 by Eol Fefalas
When they had met up again after her ‘lunch’ with Reginald, Nyx had brought his blazing yellow eyes to her, he had read her state and by the look that flashed through his eyes for a moment she knew what the conclusion he had come to was. That look only lasted a moment though, the next it flashed to confusion and then concern. Now there was only concern in his eyes, his movements, his words.
The Wharf Witch was doing something she really shouldn’t. The past hour with Reginald had been trying on her to say the least, but allowing herself to nearly collapse in some public alley, to lean against a wall and close her eyes, closing off most of her senses to the world was dangerous. They were not far enough away from the Trade Bureau to really be safe. She did not think that Lemoyne would be screaming to the rooftops, she had left him in a rather embarrassing state, especially for a married man, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t send someone to find her.
Despite how foolish this was she still felt safe. She could hear the gentle shuffle of Nyx’s feet, heard his breathing above her, and even though her own eyes were closed she knew that his were watching the entrances to the alley for her. The feeling was strange, to trust someone, and an elf at that.
But you do… otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here still…
“Come, let us find a more out of the way place to discuss it, yes? Perhaps get you something to eat and a place to rest...”
Slowly she nodded her head, to Nyx and to the internal voice that rang through her head.
“I’m okay Nyx… really…” she sighed as she opened her eyes and looked up to find him doing just what she had thought he was, watching over her. “Just needed a moment to gather myself together again. But maybe some food... I didn’t exactly get that lunch.” A hallow laugh that did not result in a smile followed that.
“We should get out of this district at any rate.” Slowly she began to walk her way back up the wall, and found his hand held out for her again. With a sigh she placed her fingers into his palm and used his support to get onto her feet again. His white fingers curled around hers, his knuckles were still purple, swollen and scratched.
He’s risked so much and is still willing to risk more…
With her hand still tucked into his she brought her eyes up only to find his looking down at her. They shined at her like lighthouses through the shadows of the alley.
Out of every rotten soul in this city why is it you who finally sees me?
An elf, a mith’ganni elf at that! Why?
By the stars why!?
The current brought her closer to shore, the stars by which the boats navigated spun around her making her dizzy as the lighthouses seemed to guide her through the darkness that had only a moment ago consisted of a volatile world. Even as the fingers of his other hand moved to her cheek, caressing her like the wind itself she kept drifting closer. The lights disappeared behind her eyelids and yet she still knew where they were. Close now… her lips parted slightly and she breathed him in… so close.
Their lips touched for a second, not like before. His skin whispered over hers, sweet and tempting. With it though reality crashed back in. With a gasp she turned her head and left his lips to press into her cheek. Almost in exasperation she felt his fingers press against her neck when his lips landed on the soft plain of her cheek instead of the perfect range of her lips.
“We should be going… it isn’t safe here.” She whispered and slowly uncoiled her fingers from his and stepped away from him. Fingers trailed along her shoulder as she did. The expression on the mith’ganni’s face was left to her imagination for she did not allow her eyes to move his direction after she stepped away.
Without another word she curled the blue pillow against her belly and stepped back out onto the street. Behind her she sensed him, his eyes moving over her now and then as he kept a careful eye on the crowd around them.
He isn’t what I want.
That’s not what it seemed like a moment ago.
I’m not what he wants. I’m not. He might think I am, especially dolled up in this dress. Which is why I don’t dress like this usually. Men treat me like Reg did… they don’t see me. They see a pretty object. I’ve used that before to get what I need or what… but it always comes with a price. Often a high price, a painful price. It gets worse if they notice my ears. Human’s find it so much easier to degrade me when they find out… they’ve done things, made me do things… and Elves? They despise humans, as Nyx does. It repulses them as much as it excites a human. He could never love me. I’ve seen how he feels about humans. He doesn’t see me… he sees what he wants to. He’s no different.
Would he do what Reg tried to do?
No… he wouldn’t. He’s protected me.
She left that unanswered as she moved through the streets with her elven shadow. Confused and yet somehow still comforted by its proximity to her. They left the Imperial Quarters, wandering back closer to the docks, getting lost in the narrower streets.
Going to the cemetery was not going to be useful, there was not any food there, and besides each time they went in and out of there the chance that the tomb would be discovered as his home would increase. Her own home was also not an option. Mouse would no doubt still be haunting it, desperate to get her under his control after she lost him the previous night. Going into Dmitrova’s territory would also be dangerous. Too many eyes and ears roving the streets there. The wharf was perhaps the safest place.
It was a small seedy looking tavern that she finally dipped into, not even hesitating to make a motion to him to follow or making sure he saw her go inside. She knew he saw her and knew he would follow. In the dark folds of smoke and whiskey fumes she made her way to a table near the back of the main room. The tables along the wall were booths and she slipped into one of the benches.
As soon as Nyx joined her she lowered her eyes to the tabletop. “So then… what did you find?” she said quickly, trying to ensure that he stayed on a topic she was comfortable with.
Posted on 2009-12-29 at 18:40:21.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:05:04 by Eol Fefalas
There was an all too brief moment, like the flicker of a tallow flame standing against the monsoon that blew in from the seas, in which Nyx thought he might have gained some understanding of his dream… thought, perhaps, Cay might have understood it, too, when, as she finally took his hand and allowed him to help her to her feet, her eyes met his and whatever fragments of their respective souls might have remained danced together in that sputtering light… and, bidden by that understanding, lost in that moment, he sought to kiss her the way he truly wanted to. Their lips touched for only an instant and they shared a breath that, to Nyx at least, felt as if the shards of his blackened spirit merged with hers and offered the promise of a completeness that had eluded him for what must have been forever…
A gasp escaped from Cay, though, and her head turned suddenly away just as Nyx allowed his own eyes to close and committed himself to the pure honesty that this kiss might have spoken for him. Fate or fortune, either one, had, once more, had it’s say in regards to what he might have wanted and reminded him that it was still and, likely, forever out of his reach. The turning of her head was the dousing of that flickering tallow and her gasp the zephyr that had extinguished it. In a protest that he couldn’t stop the fingers that had just traced a tender course along her neck tensed as his lips, expecting to meet hers, were granted only her cheek.
“We should be going,” Cay whispered, slipping her hand from his… moving away from him, “it isn’t safe here.”
As I have tried, over and over, to tell you, Nyx, a stinging voice stabbed at his mind just as the jagged edges of his soul cooled and stabbed his heart, She doesn’t want you. She knows to whom you belong and would prefer to leave you there. Even if she did lower herself to have such feelings for an elf, you know as well as I that it would never be you…
The mith’ganni tried to ignore that voice. Tried, instead, to glean some small satisfaction from that last moment in which he felt her under his fingertips. The voice was right, though, it seemed… just as it had been trying to tell him… and the warmth that he had hoped to keep in the breaking of that moment cooled all too quickly as his hand fell away from her shoulder and clenched tightly as it disappeared back beneath his cloak.
She seeks to be something, mith’ganni... to have a meaning to her life beyond what you could ever possibly hope to offer… to endure… How can you give her that when, every where you go, death follows? You think that enduring, to her, means living in death the way you do? You are death as much as I am… and dead, yourself, as much as you are my harbinger… The edge of my axe, Shyndyn… that’s all you are… to anyone…
Nyx finally forced his own eyes open as his hearing registered that her step was nearing the mouth of the alley and found himself staring into the same stagnant puddle which had held Cayrimsa’s gaze before. He blinked at his reflection a few times; waiting for the inner voice that actually belonged to him to offer a protest or at least a counterpoint to Prien’s rationale... drew his cowl over his head when none was offered… The assassin forced his faintly scorned expression into a mask of grim acceptance before finally lifting to find her stepping back onto the promenade. He drew in a long, slow breath… held it, watching the way she moved… and released the breath and the thought at the same moment that the alley’s shadows let him follow after her. Rounding the corner where side street met thoroughfare, his fingers passed lightly over the silver-worked skull that buckled his belt as his hand moved to keep the flare of his cloak from exposing the kukri at his hip.
There is work to be done… and preparations to be made… think on that… Prien whispered as Nyx’s eyes worked the crowd and the afternoon shadows of the street and he ghosted back into his “proper place” at her right.
As much as he hated to admit it to himself, Nyx actually found himself at least trying to heed his recently-forsaken god’s counseling as he followed Cay in silence out of the Imperial Quarter and progressively lower through the successive districts to the wharf. He tried. He tried by sorting the facts and details of this fiasco as he knew them in and trying to make those facts and details congeal into something that made sense. He tried by supposing maybe-facts and possibly-details based on things the he knew about both Bolstoii and Dmitrova. He tried by keeping his mind and his senses on their surroundings as they traveled. As much as he tried to keep his mind on the job, though, he failed… whether it was recalling some bit of information she had provided and losing track of that tidbit in the remembered sound of her voice or his gaze happening to fall upon her in his scanning of the streets and linger there for a second longer than it should have… his thoughts and senses invariably returned to her along the way. But he tried.
There is work to be done… preparations to be made.
When Cay led them, finally, into the dank, little quayside tavern known as the Salted Mermaid, Nyx had tried enough and was certain that his mind was back where it needed to be. When she slipped into a dimly lit booth in the back of the place, Nyx slid onto the bench on the opposite side of the table and, after seeking out and gesturing for a serving-wench, turned his gaze to the woman across the table and tried to feel nothing…
There is work to be done… preparations to be made.
Her eyes didn’t lift to meet his… a fact that made feeling nothing even more difficult… but she was quick to start the conversation and ensure that the subject remained on course.
“So then,” she said, studying the tabletop, “what did you find?”
A hand moved beneath his cloak and extracted the stolen documents from one of the inner pockets of his coat. “Aelion… or those in league with the boy, for there are surely more than he involved… are not interested in what may be on those caravans,” he said, his voice measured as he slid the papers across the table under into her downcast line of sight, “They are interested in where those caravans are going and which routes they take to get there. They are interested in where they can go and what they can sneak into and out of the wagon trains’ stocks.” His mottled yet still pale finger tips tapped the papers meaningfully before the hand slithered away and disappeared from the table. “They are looking for something. Dmitrova’s gotten wind of it, I would imagine, hence ordering us after the half-moon’s lover, and either wants whatever it is for himself or wants to turn the whole thing into an embarrassment for Styopa Bolstoii of such scale that Vadim’s maneuverings on the Lords holdings would go unnoticed until it was too late…”
His gaze was drawn away from her then by the approach of the serving-wench.
“Oi, an’ wha’ c’n I get fer th’ two o’ ye, then,” the heavy-set and haggard looking woman queried, wiping her thick hands off on a stained and greasy rag as she thudded to a stop at the table’s edge.
“Wine,” Nyx ordered dryly. The alabaster fingers emerged from the folds of the cloak and slid two silvers towards the woman; “Good wine,” he added as the hand disappeared once more and his moonlight gaze flicked back to Cay, “and whatever the lady is having.”
“Aye, good wine ‘tis, luv,” the silvers had disappeared from the tabletop and into the wench’s cleavage even before her smoke and fume reddened eyes turned to Cay, “an’ fer ye, miss?”
He sat silently, watching her as she spoke to the waitress, and remained silent for a long moment after the human woman had trudged away from the table, his gaze still soaking the sorceress in as her own eyes, once more, failed to meet his and fell instead to the papers before her.
“This is all only my theory, yes,” he said after a moment, that characteristically self-assured, razor-edged grin finally fashioning itself on his lips, “We shall need to speak to this Aelion, I think… and I may need to get into Vadim’s, as well…”
Posted on 2009-12-30 at 01:45:02.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:07:30 by Eol Fefalas
The kaleidoscope of carvings long etched into the wooden tabletop had mostly disappeared under the papers that Nyx shuffled in her direction. As he spoke she looked them over, never raising her eyes while his voice played into her ears.
He was right, they were hiding something in these caravans, people and supplies it seemed. When the barmaid arrived she slowly lifted her eyes to the massive woman, catching an etching at the edge of the table out of the corner of her eye as she did; a rather phallic creature with arms and teeth chasing after a crude busty female shape.
“Wine as well… and stew… whatever you have so long as it is warm.” She offered slightly off handily and then returned her eyes to the papers.
“We shall need to speak to this Aelion, I think… and I may need to get into Vadim’s, as well…”
“Yes… that of course will prove to be difficult. I must admit I am a bit surprised we have not heard rumor of an arrest for the murder in our travels yet… Vadim must be stalling for some reason. Perhaps a journey to this Avenon will also be in order before long.” She spoke quietly, slowly as if she was using this thought process to delay others that ticked through her mind.
“Avenon is mainly mith’ganni territory is it not? As much as your people have a territory now…” she winced almost as she said it though and finally brought her eyes up to his. “I didn’t mean…” the sentence ended with a sigh.
“We will be busy then.” A pause while she found herself in the warmth of his moonlit eyes. “I know what you want to know… I remember what you promised me.” The heat became too much and she let her eyes drop back to the table. “I’m counting on you living up to it.”
Carefully she released the square of yellowed paper she still had tucked into her palm. It was creased and the edges damp with her sweat already. Without unfolding it she reached across the table to offer it to him, but did not release it until his pale hand ventured from the shadows of his cloak to take it. With her own thin fingers she pressed the paper into his palm firmly before curling his fingers around it, much as he had curled her own fingers around his purse that morning.
“Just let me finish what I have to say here before you go spouting off… I’m fine to start with Nyx. It isn’t like I’m some blushing rose that hasn’t had someone try to force themselves on me before, so don’t even think about handling me with kid gloves here okay? What happened after you left is simply that I tried to delay any amorous thoughts he had, but I was unsuccessful. At least at first. I assure you he didn’t get he wanted out of me. Physical strength can easily be under minded with the correct grip and spell to go with it.” At that a slight smile played on her lips as she remembered the look in Reginald’s eyes when she bit his hand and clamped her fingers into his tender flesh. Slowly her eyes moved back up to Nyx’s twin moons. “He should only just be coming out of the mental state I left him in, his physical state will take a bit longer to repair… and as for his ego…” The tip of her tongue appeared as she ran it between her teeth slowly. “I doubt he will be going to the guards with his complaint, my bet is he will return home as soon as he is able to lick his wounds and perhaps begin a less official inquiry to Eva.”
The smile fell from her lips then and she looked at Nyx with all seriousness. “Take care of him. And not like the last one. We are in enough trouble as it is right now, another heap of flesh in some alley with a blood trail back to your crypt is not what we need.” She leaned over closer to him and dropped her voice to a hushed whisper. “Make him suffer to whatever you want… but make him disappear afterwards. No trace… tomorrow morning I don’t want him to exist. No body, no blood, no screams… he is just gone. I don’t normally kill, but he does not deserve to live…”
As if to drive home her thoughts she lays her palm down atop the phallic carving and whispers a chant. For a moment her hand flares up with a bright flame then dies down, when she pulls it back the charred outline of her hand remains burned upon the carving.
Posted on 2010-01-03 at 18:23:41.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:08:29 by Eol Fefalas
Nyx watched (both Cay and the gloomy slant-walled tavern) in silence as she glanced in the direction of the barmaid, placed her order, and then returned her eyes to the manifests and apparently pondered the estimations he had offered in their regard. When the sorceress finally spoke, still not having graced him with so much as the faintest up-tick of her tawny gaze, her voice was low and her words measured as if thoughts beyond those concerning the caravans writhed beneath the surface. The assassin imagined he knew what those underlying thoughts might be… chanced to think or, maybe, even wish that they might mirror those that lurked in his own mind… scowled faintly as he shoved those thoughts back again… Work to be done… preparations to be made…
“Yes,” Cay murmured in reply to his last statement, “that of course will prove to be difficult. I must admit I am a bit surprised we have not heard rumor of an arrest for the murder in our travels yet… Vadim must be stalling for some reason. Perhaps a journey to this Avenon will also be in order before long.”
He nodded. A sojourn to or, at least, toward Avenon in the shadow of one of these wagon trains was a thing he had considered, himself, and the difficulty in executing the other plans, as well. “Vadim is most assuredly stalling, else that boy would not only be imprisoned but likely hanging from the gallows already,” he answered, “As I said, it is becoming clear that there is more to all of this than simple trade or political maneuvering. Much more… and we’ll likely not know how much until we do venture to Avenon, ourselves…”
The serving-wench returned and Nyx fell silent as the woman plunked a hunk of crusty bread and a steaming bowl of stew down in front of Cay and followed that with a notably dusty bottle of wine and a pair of relatively clean, albeit roughly carved wooden goblets, all of which were deposited between them. He nodded, again, and waved the meaty woman away before she could think to ask if the pair needed anything else.
“Avenon is mainly mith’ganni territory is it not,” Cay asked, calling Nyx’s attentions back to her from the retreating barmaid, “As much as your people have a territory now…”
One black brow lifted a little at that and at the fact that she had finally lifted her gaze to meet his. “It used to be, yes,” he answered, reaching for the bottle and brushing the dust from its neck before filling the goblets, “My own clan ranged there in the days before I was born… before the Empire claimed it and...”
“I didn’t mean…”
Nyx lifted a hand and gave a faint shake of his head. “I know what you meant, Cayrimsa,” he said softly, sliding one of the goblets toward her and then lifting the other towards his lips, “My clan has been dead since I left Shanurdir and my race has been dying for longer than that. I would be surprised if enough of the other clans remained to even hold a piece of the steppes, let alone venture into what is now Avenon.” He shrugged faintly, and tipped the cup then but, over the rim of the crude goblet, his eyes stayed trained on hers as he sipped and didn’t stray even when he returned the vessel to the table and folded his hands in his cloak again. The hint of a smile danced on his lips as he allowed himself to relax against the back of the bench and swam in Cay’s lingering gaze.
“We will be busy then,” she said.
He simply nodded his agreement to that; his eyes not leaving hers even then.
“I know what you want to know,” Cay continued after a momentary silence, “I remember what you promised me…”
Another nod and a faint glint flashed in his eyes as the ghost-smile that had been toying with the corners of his mouth warmed a bit.
“I’m counting on you living up to it.” Her gaze dropped away, then, and returned to the scarred tabletop that filled the spaced between them.
Nyx couldn’t bring himself to take his eyes from Cay, though. His gaze was no longer transfixed by her returned stare; however, and he allowed himself to take in more than just her face… traced across her cheek, along the curve of her neck, and, moving lower, found the slender fingers of her hand unfurling from around a tiny square of paper that she had kept clutched there since they had made their exit from the Trade Bureau. His smile grew all the more when that hand stretched across the table to offer him that creased and sweat-stained treasure. His own hand slithered across the table to take the thing…
The witch actually wants you for something, it seems, Prien’s voice rumbled as Cay intercepted Nyx’s hand, pressed the parchment into his palm, and curled his fingers around it with her own, How very interesting… You notice, though, that, as I told you, it is because you bring death, hm? Not because you warm her heart? You should charge her for this commission…
The edge of the mith’ganni’s smile dulled a bit… She has paid enough, already… and better, I think, that she wants me for something rather than nothing… Besides, this was a thread I had already planned to sever…… but Cay hadn’t yet glanced up. It must have been the subtle flexing of his fingers beneath hers, then, or, perhaps, some other unnoticed reaction he had made that made her think that Nyx had been prepared to say something…
“Just let me finish what I have to say here before you go spouting off,” she said as her hand tightened ever so slightly around his, “I’m fine to start with, Nyx. It isn’t like I’m some blushing rose that hasn’t had someone try to force themselves on me before, so don’t even think about handling me with kid gloves here okay?”
Very well. He nodded… forced the fingers that were wrapped in hers to relax a bit… and reached for his wine with his free hand.
“What happened after you left is simply that I tried to delay any amorous thoughts he had, but I was unsuccessful. At least at first. I assure you he didn’t get what he wanted out of me…”
I knew this before you told me, melamin, Nyx smiled around the rim of the goblet as he poured another taste of the passable wine over his tongue.
“…Physical strength can easily be undermined with the correct grip and spell to go with it.”
That smile still played on his lips as Cayrimsa, also smiling now, lifted her gaze to meet his once again; “He should only just be coming out of the mental state I left him in, his physical state will take a bit longer to repair… and as for his ego…” The tip of her tongue appeared as she ran it between her teeth slowly. “I doubt he will be going to the guards with his complaint, my bet is he will return home as soon as he is able to lick his wounds and perhaps begin a less official inquiry into Eva.”
I should imagine so… Another near imperceptible nod, his eyes fixed to hers again, as he returned the wooden chalice to the table.
“Take care of him,” she said seriously, the smile melting from her lips, “And not like the last one. We are in enough trouble as it is right now; another heap of flesh in some alley with a blood trail back to your crypt is not what we need.” She leaned over closer to him and dropped her voice to a hushed whisper. “Make him suffer to whatever you want… but make him disappear afterwards. No trace… tomorrow morning I don’t want him to exist. No body, no blood, no screams… he is just gone. I don’t normally kill, but he does not deserve to live…”
Nor do any of these humans who are simple enough to relegate their women to a status only a little above their slaves and other properties, elen en cormamin, the mith’ganni’s yellow-eyes gleamed as they finally broke from the amber fires that burned in hers and followed her hand to where it came to rest atop a particularly crude image etched in the table’s surface, perhaps you are beginning to see this, yes? An amused expression drifted over his features and a light chuckle escaped his lips when Cay’s hand flared with eldritch fire for an instant and then drew away from where it had been, leaving only a blackened and smoldering imprint of her fingers where the phallic-monster had formerly been. There was no mistaking the meaning in that gesture and neither, he thought, was there any mistaking the unspoken meaning in the words that preceded it.
“Consider it done,” Nyx whispered in reply, his eyes returning to hers as his free hand came to rest atop the one of hers that still clasped over his other, “Come morning, Reg will be no more and nowhere, yes?” His gaze dipped away from hers after a moment longer, fell to where those three hands were entwined on the table and lingered there for another instant.
“Your dinner is cooling,” he said, his fingers feathering across both sides of her hers as he finally withdrew his hands… the one that now held Lemoyne’s address disappeared beneath the cloak and the other took up his cup of wine again… “I do not imagine it will taste very good gone cold.” He waited for her to draw back across the table before he released her from his gaze… watched her as she took her first, tentative bite of the stew she had been served… and, sipping at his wine, let his eyes wander a slow circuit around the hazy tavern.
After that scan verified that there had been no changes in patronage or position that should arouse concern, Nyx set the goblet aside again and let his gaze drop to where his fingers had, at last, unfolded the slip of parchment that Cay had handed him. There was another faint nod as he read what was printed on that paper, memorized the pertinent information, and then refolded the thing. “You will need to report to Dmitrova alone, again, tonight,” he said after he drained that first mug of wine and stretched the refolded piece of stationary towards the lopsided candle that provided meager light to their booth… the paper caught fire as his eyes flicked back in her direction and he dropped it into the now empty goblet where it was quickly consumed by the flames. “After last night, I do not imagine that he would expect me in your company, anyway. Most likely, he believes me to still be licking my wounds, yes?”
“Probably,” Cay smirked, looking up from the stew and fixing him with a look he couldn’t quite read, “You weren’t in the best of condition when he last saw you, after all… he won’t know I’ve seen you, at all, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
He nodded and the last embers of Lemoyne’s stationary that smoldered in his cup died with a hiss as Nyx refilled the goblet with another sampling of wine. “Best for us both that he doesn’t,” he said, swirling the ashes into the wine before taking another sip, “I do not think that Tselika was entirely convinced by either of our stories and if, as I believe, she is doing more for Vadim than playing fetch-the-point-ear, she might not have that difficult a time reminding him that you and I are more than expendable…”
It was near dusk when Nyx and Cay finally emerged from the murk and haze of Salty Mermaid and into the lengthening shadows of Drasnian twilight. A cool wind blew off the harbor, its briny tang carrying with it another scent that foretold rain showers in the making, and whirled up the wharf, tugging at the assassin’s cape and the sorceress’ gown as it blew the clinging smoke and smell of the tavern from around them. Yellow mith’ganni eyes instinctually tipped toward the heavens and sought out the faint, early-evening wink of Shipri’s Torch and, having pondered that first of the night’s stars for a moment, sank to regard the iron-dark streak that slashed across the far horizon and mist-like undulation of the orange and yellows above it where the sunlight still held the sky…
Rain within the hour, he estimated, and full storms before midnight if those clouds hold true.
Nyx‘s attentions let go of the skies and returned to Cay as they wandered away from the tavern. “It promises to be a good night for work,” he said, finally breaking the long but not necessarily uncomfortable silence that had hung between them for the last little while. There had been things that he had wanted to say in that long stretch of quiet… things, too, that she wanted to say if he had read her eyes correctly the few times they had met and held his… but, given the events of the last days and the distractions he had found himself led into as a result… And the fact that you have work to do… he kept himself from speaking any of those things… All considered, he had been content to sit and sip away a second goblet of wine (and the ashen remains of Lemoyne’s stolen stationary along with it), watching the room and casting an occasional, lingering glance at the woman across the table as she finished her supper. He had waited, too, while she finished her first mug of wine… had poured her another and waited until she resigned the half-full cup to the table and nodded that she was finished. He was still content to linger with her as they made their way along the wharf, now, as well, but that favor she had asked of him... the promise I made her... called and so did numerous other tasks... "Where will I find you in the morning," he asked, "when I have finished with our friend?"
Posted on 2010-01-04 at 22:44:47.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:11:23 by Eol Fefalas
"Where will I find you in the morning, when I have finished with our friend?"
An elven purr curled over the words that tugged her back to the here and now. In just these past few days she had begun to become accustomed to that purr. It rarely rose above a level needed for her to hear it, and she could not recall it rising above that ever. While it rolled her back in she continued with the examination that she had been conducting since they had fallen into silence in the bar.
Likely he was aware that even when she was not locked in his gaze that he held her attention. Her gaze had never lingered far enough to lose the ghostly flickers of him in her peripheral. Every movement, every breath was caught by her while they had sat together.
If the silence was comfortable his hands were not. Tendons pressed against the pale skin and the muscles tensed. Most of the time he seemed to struggle to keep them occupied, caressing the stem of the wooden chalice until it began to shine with the oils from his fingers, wiping at the corners of his lips when his tongue had finished running over them, adjusting the fall of the shadows from his shoulders, running through the locks of his mane. The rise and fall of his chest betrayed how he controlled his breathing. Between breaths and hidden fidgets with his fingers his eyes had always fallen on her.
Each time they did the distance between them seemed to fade, the noise of the tavern quieted and she faltered. Words danced on the tip of her tongue, but she wasn’t sure what they were, was only certain that she dared not speak them. A few times she felt herself abandon the words and start to rekindle whatever it was that had happened in the alley before they came here. Fear ripped her gaze from his each time though. Staring back at his fingers the doubts began to creep back in along with the distance the table provided and the noises that proved they were not alone here.
You are using him Cay. Not even paying him for this job. A tool, an elven tool to be used and discarded when you are through. Just as you have been used.
He owes me.
He isn’t doing it because he owes you. Nyx would not do anything for anyone because he owes them. Nyx would rarely let himself be in someone’s debt, but if it happened and they asked him to do something he did not wish to… he would not hesitate to kill them. Perhaps that is what you are doing? Pushing him? Seeing how far you can use him before he tires of you?
It isn’t like that…
Then tell me how it is Cay…
“Tomorrow…” she whispered softly and let her look fall upon the horizon as she considered it. “He doesn’t trust me yet. I lost my shadow last night, doing it again will raise suspicions. I won’t lead them back to where you live. They already know where I live.” Turning her head slowly the horizon changed to the starlight from his eyes. “I know you can avoid being seen by Dmitrova’s thugs. I will await you under my tree.”
He gave her a slight nod. “Until the morning then.”
A flutter of his cloak and he had started to turn from her but much to their surprise the delicate pressure of her fingers against his ribs, just over one of the bandages that wrapped around his battered body stopped him. “Are you certain you are up for doing a job tonight?”
Tenderness caressed the words and filtered through her gaze as she looked up at him, a tenderness that most would not believe the Witch capable of. A tenderness that Nyx might have somewhat delirious dreams about from when she had so carefully applied the bandage she now pressed her fingers against.
Admitting your concern over your tool?
The voice went unanswered, however, as she once again felt his fingers curl around her own. His lips parted as if he was going to say something and quickly she stopped him. The tenderness leaked out of her features and her voice, but not from her eyes and she kept her fingers curled into his. “Not that I care, except that if you mess up it could lead back to me… and I’m not up for spending another night stitching you back together. I did a decent job the first time, you start pulling on those wounds they will break open and you’ll just have to go back to your seamstress friend to get them mended this time. I’m not your mother, or some gentle lover willing to baby you…”
Normally there would have been more but she suddenly her lungs held no more breath to expel more of her venomous words. So she fell silent and failed at her attempt to either pull her gaze from his or to turn it as stony as the rest of her face.
Instead she tried to read his expression as he gave her hand a slight squeeze and pulled it back into the space between them. "No need to worry, Cay. I am sure that I will be fine."
Now she could feel the tendons she had watched through the evening grinding in protest as his fingers uncurled and left her hand floating between them for a moment.
"You see to our Captain and I shall see to Lemoyne, yes, and I will find you come morning..." At the last moment his eyes managed to do what she had not been able to do and broke their gaze. The next she was alone in front of the Salty Mermaid, her hand still wavering before her.
“Pshaw!” She cried when she noticed her hand. It quickly dropped to her side and she pulled the dark blue cowl up over her face. Spinning she turned on her heel and started toward the Hydra.
* * *
Vadim smiled as he laid the wooden box on his desk. He leaned over and took in a deep breath of the musty cigar smell that emanated from it. That smell wrapped around the memory of Bolstoii relinquishing the box to Vadim and brought a smile to the liver colored lips.
”Oh… Styopa… mind if I take a few of these lovely cigars on my way out?” He had grinned while his finger left a smudge across the top of the box.
“Eh! Take the whole thing you rotten gutter snake. I’m surprised you haven’t asked for everything else around here, my house, my wife, my life!” Styopa had flared up, sweat still beading up on his forehead.
As Vadim pulled the box under his arm he leaned in close and smelled the other man over the smell of cigars, smelled his anger and his trepidation, “I plan on it… later… one piece at a time partner.” Vadim let that last word hang between them with a gleam to his eye then laughed.
He settled down into the chair he had special ordered with the comfort of his rounded rump in mind. Today had been a deliciously good day. He reviewed his luck while he lit up one of Styopa’s cigars and began puffing on it.
Before the sun had even risen he had gotten to break Nyx with his own hands. He had fallen asleep still buried inside the welcoming depths of Tselika. She swore to him that Nyx was not broken, but Vadim had been there until she had drug his unconscious body from the tunnels. Vadim had heard the elf scream, and watched the rivers of blood drain from his body. If he was not dead no doubt he was no licking his wounds in some alley, feeling grateful that his life had not been taken and thinking twice about ever crossing paths with him again. Bolstoii was doing the same. The information the Wharf Witch had brought him had been just what Vadim had needed to bring his opponent to his knees. Corrisan had hinted that something was happening between a slave and the Bolstoii girl, he had not hinted that the slave was deeply involved in murder. Of course the elven bastard had denied it all. Even hanging by one foot from the barn rafters while Bolstoii enacted his own bit of fatherly vengeance upon the point-ear. The girl, however, had broken down immediately, spilled the lurid details of their affair and begged for forgiveness and mercy for them both, claiming it was love that drew them together. She could not substantiate the claims of murder, but despite her best efforts she could not give her lover the alibi he needed either.
In return for his ‘assistance’ with this matter Styopa had ‘offered’ a very tasty bit of his business to Vadim. The Hellkites would now work guard duty on certain shipments of slaves and narcotics that slipped into the city after certain pockets were padded so that eyes looked in the wrong direction. There would be cuts and trims that would help to line Vadim’s own pockets as well as bring him another rung up the Hellkite ladder.
He was still musing over his good fortune when voices were heard outside the door.
“I don’t know what the bloody password is today! Dmitrova asked me to report to him. So I’m reporting!” A high female voice called out.
“You need the password to get in.” The firm voice of Karl responded.
“Pigs feet! Green River! Peaches! Thick Skulled Round-Ears! Cockroach Breath! Mother-f****** Breeders! Get out of my way!”
Dmitrova sighed. He had not, apparently, managed to break that little half-breed b****.
“Let her in.” His voice rose over the smoke and the cursing going on outside the door. The next moment a woman fluttered in with Karl and Odon flanking her.
“Sorry boss…” Karl sputtered.
The woman in the blue dress cut him off, however. “You know I don’t appreciate you first sending Mouse to trail me and then using your pigs to delay me coming to see you. If you want to know something first you have to let me into your office, then you ask me.”
Vadim cocked the cigar between his lips and looked over the flushed female that stood before him. Last night Cay had come in dressed differently but with Nyx on his mind he had not paid it much attention, this was a notch above last night and she had his full attention now. If the voice, and the temper, had not matched his memories of the witch he might have doubted it was her.
Her color was high and a few strands of her hair had fallen free in her struggle with the guards outside. The dress was beautiful, though somewhat rumpled and stained. Those facts only added to the look in Dmitrova’s eyes though.
“You almost clean up nicely…” he muttered around the cigar.
“F*** you Dmitrova.” She spat her angst at him as she plopped into the chair she had sat in last night while listening to Nyx scream.
“You still look ripe from someone else plucking you Cay. I prefer my meat fresh.”
He laughed when he met her glare. “Fine then, you are here to report, what have you to report?”
Through the curtain of smoke he watched as she turned her head and thus her gaze to the corner of the room and pulled her lips into a thin line. “Nothing. The Bolstoii house was pulled tighter than a virgin on her wedding night. Moving through the Imperial District was a nightmare, I couldn’t go three steps without being asked questions by some guard. I thought this whole business was supposed to be taken care of.” The points of her eyes finally moved back to him.
“It will be, that is not your concern.”
The points rolled toward the ceiling before settling back on him. “Fine. I went to the Trade Bureau to see if I could trace Aelion through the records. Find out how long he had been in service with the Bolstoii’s, who his last owner was, those kinds of things. But I had no luck. All the records concerning anyone with a drop of mith’ganni blood have been pulled by Imperial Lugheads looking for a lead. Went by the cemetery too, seeing if I could gather anything about the noble b**** Aelion admitted to poisoning. But according to the gravedigger I ran into there the funeral had been postponed due to the havoc on the streets, and the body had not yet been released to the undertaker.”
Vadim gave no reaction to her lack of progress for the day. Instead he watched her carefully when he asked the next question. Tselika had warned him not to trust the half-breed, and as he could still feel the scratches the little assassin had left down his back he thought maybe to give her some heed.
“And Nyx? Any sign of him?”
He watched as she stiffened in her chair and brought the flames in her eyes burning down on him. “Am I covered in his vile elven blood?”
At that he laughed, pulling the cigar from his lips to do so with more vigor.
“Alright. Point taken.”
The flames died down a little as she sunk back into the chair. Arms crossed beneath her breasts and she took a deep breath while keeping Vadim in her vision. “What now Captain?”
“Well… I’m feeling generous today.” He reached into the desk and pulled out two bags. “You’ll get Nyx’s share of the job too. Take a few days; I should have something lined up for you soon.”
She caught both of the bags as they were tossed to her and she nodded. “Thanks.” There was little actual gratitude in her voice he noted. “May I go now?”
The cigar went back between his lips and he nodded to her. She said nothing. The figure, which he had really only guessed at previously, and with great inaccuracy, rose out of the chair. Eyes flashed at him and then at his guards before they disappeared in the shadow of her cowl. A flutter of blue material and she had stepped out.
“Follow her.” Vadim nodded to Karl. Tselika does not trust her, and as pretty as the Witch has proven to be she… she’s still got a nasty elven streak running through her, besides she’s not the one gobbling up my flesh right now, now is she?
A smile curled Vadim’s lips as he shifted slightly in his chair at the thought. It had been a good day, perhaps he should turn in early tonight, see if that morsel was still wrapped in his sheets…
Posted on 2010-01-05 at 22:21:03.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:18:21 by Eol Fefalas
The pounding in Lord Reginald Lemoyne’s chest, now, far outweighed the painful, throbbing ache that still resonated in his groin and gut as a lingering after effect of the sorcerous assault visited upon him earlier in the afternoon. The panic that had induced that trip-hammer rhythm of his heart had erased the last vestiges of the spell which had numbed and clouded his mind, though, and for that the Trade Minister couldn’t help but be grateful. Had he still been as droolingly addled as he had been when he first came around in his office just a few short hours ago, after all, he might not have had the quickness of mind to run when, instead of being greeted by his wife or servants upon his eventual return home, he had been met by a horrifically skull-painted, yellow-eyed elven visage that grinned at him from the shadowed depths of the hallway in his too-dark home. He hadn’t recognized that face, at first, of course… had been too terrified by its sudden appearance to even connect it to the events that had transpired in his office… too terrified, even, to wonder after the fate of his wife when that looming death-mask moved towards him and filled the emptiness of the house with a sinister and spine chilling laughter.
Run, his mind had advised, leaving room for no other thought in that instant, RUN!!! And that’s exactly what he had done – turned and bolted out the door back into the now rain-soaked street, ignoring the agonizing spikes of pain that shot through his belly with each pounding, splashing step, hoping against hope that he would encounter a patrol of legionnaires in the deluge or, at least, make it back to the safety of the Trade Bureau before whatever that thing was could catch up. He tried to scream as he ran, too – tried to get the word ‘help’ to carry over the storm that had blown in from the harbor and driven the residents of his affluent neighborhood into the safety and shelter of their own homes – but, whether it was because his lungs struggled against the physical exertion of his flight and refused to give volume to his cries or that his neighbors simply chose to ignore his frantic pleas in deference to staying warm and dry, Lemoyne heard nothing in reply save for the singing of the blood in his ears, the rasping of his own breath, and, even over the pattering of rain on the cobbles and the rolling thunderclaps in the sky above, that wicked laughter and the clatter of galloping hooves closing in behind him.
“Oh gods,” he wheezed as he splashed madly along the street, now feeling the pursuing hoof beats under the pounding of his own feet, “oh gods, help me! HELP ME!!!”
“It is far too late for even the gods to help you, Reg,” he heard a voice behind him say just before a sodden loop of black rope fell across his shoulders, “Perhaps you should have invoked them before you tried to force yourself on my love, yes?”
My love? Lemoyne thought, almost in disbelief, as the rope tightened around his neck and he felt himself jerked off his feet. He recognized the voice, now, and his mind tied it to the face of the slave who had accompanied ‘Lady Eva’ into his offices… That realization and all that accompanied it was jarred from his mind just as the breath was jolted from his aching lungs when he was slammed brutally onto his back. Abject terror washed over his mind much like the sheets of rain washed over his body when it registered that the clatter and splash of hoof beats behind him had been replaced by the much lighter and much more ominous footfalls of a creature that moved on only two legs. His eyes struggled to pierce the painfully blinding flash of white that had accompanied his impact with the street and his mind fought to bring his hands up to loosen the noose around his neck as those steps drew nearer and nearer… he whimpered when they stopped and he felt his trembling hands cinched tightly together by the same rope they had reached to remove…
“And running from me, you paching round-eared piece of horse dung, only ensures that you will die tired,” Nyx whispered as he crouched down beside his quarry, quickly securing knots at Lemoyne’s wrists and elbows, “and I want you wide awake when I kill you.”
“You… you can’t do this,” the human sobbed as his vision cleared enough for him to see the evil, grinning face of the mith’ganni that hovered above his own.
“Yes,” Nyx replied matter-of-factly, clamping a hand tightly over Lemoyne’s mouth, “I can. Now, shut up and let me work.”
A sudden twisting of that hand relegated the human’s vision back to the painful, flashing white veil of blindness as several teeth broke and his jaw was dislocated. Reginald felt himself hauled to his feet and shoved into the flanks of a horse, groaned miserably as he was grabbed by craw and crotch and tossed across the animal’s back like some recently felled game trophy, and lapsed into unconsciousness as he felt the elf climb into the saddle ahead of him and spur the steed to a gallop.
He wasn’t sure, when he woke again, exactly where he was but, at a glance, he knew he was no longer inside Drasnia’s walls… all his vision could find beyond the tears that fell from and rivulets of rain that trickled into his eyes was a great expanse of inky blackness punctuated only in one spot, directly ahead, by an ebony and alabaster elf-skull with eerily gleaming moons that danced inside hollow sockets. Upon seeing that terrible face and now knowing it for what it truly was, Reginald’s heartbeat surged frantically and, once again, his mind urged him to run. He tried and found much to his dismay, that he had been securely trussed up against the rough-barked trunk of a tree. His arms and legs refused to heed his mind’s call to flee and his swollen and aching jaw refused to work properly enough for his cry for help to come out in anything more than a garbled squawk. A razor-sharp smile split the elf’s lips at that horrendous sound and a pale, slender fingered hand reached from the darkness to pat one throbbing cheek, evoking another anguished groan from deep within his chest.
“Hurts, yes?” Nyx snickered as the human’s round eyes grew wider and welled deeper with tears. “Good. I had hoped as much.”
Another blood-dripping spout of gibberish spilled from Reginald’s broken mouth as he tried to scream and plead for mercy at the same time. The elf, though, simply cocked his head, almost curiously, to one side and smiled all the more as he regarded his victim…
“When does the hurting stop?” Nyx gave words to the music that was the man’s anguish as his other hand produced a dark-bladed dagger and traced its point along Lemoyne’s jaw, down his neck, and along his collar bone. “Not for some time, I am afraid, Reg,” he said, pressing harder with the blade as he cut through the man’s saturated green garments and the flesh that hid beneath.
“You see, I wanted to kill you when you first touched her, but I could not…”
Lemoyne’s eyes scrunched closed as the blade sliced through the sash at his waist and proceeded downwards, extending the ever-lengthening gash towards his lower abdomen, overpowering the still-keen ache that lingered there from Eva’s hateful touch.
“…wanted to kill you even more when I saw the look in my lady’s eyes as she came to fetch me from your records room, yes? But she stayed my hand, then, as well,” Nyx whispered as he paused in his cutting just above the man’s pubic bone… smiled as if a thought had just occurred to him and fixed those wicked, yellow eyes back on the agonized green ones that threatened to bulge completely out of Reginald’s skull… “Which hand was it that you first laid on her,” he chuckled, “I know that your jaw is in no condition to form an answer, of course, so if you will just look in the direction of the left or right, I promise, I shall free it for you…”
Lemoyne desperately tried not to glance in the direction of either of his hands but found that he was unable to keep his eyes from ticking ever so slightly to the right and nearly managed an actual scream when a curved blade flashed out from beneath the mith’ganni’s cloak and lopped off the offending appendage. As promised, without that hand attached to the wrist any longer, Reginald’s right arm came free of the loop of rope that had formerly held it to the tree… the weight of his body, now partially freed from the bonds, shifted forward a bit and drove the dagger at his crotch a bit deeper into the tender flesh. Vomit accompanied the blood and the gurgling squeal across his lips.
“Do not worry, Reg. I am not going to cut off your root… not just yet…” Nyx’s smile widened and his moon-colored eyes flicked to the left and indicated the hand that was still secured in the coils of the rope; “Touched her with that hand, as well, did you not?”
Reg managed a frantic, almost pleading shake of his head as he realized what was to come… howled and vomited again as that realization came to inevitable fruition… wailed in abject misery as the sudden lack of support drove the black-bladed dagger even further into his lower belly… and began to sob incoherently and uncontrollably as he felt the elf’s kukri being wiped clean of blood on the remnants of his tunic.
“I had originally thought to drag you through the streets until the flesh was scoured from your bones, Lord Lemoyne,” Nyx said, then, sheathing the kukri and, at last withdrawing the dagger from the human’s groin with a savage jerking motion, “but Cayrimsa… the woman you know as Lady Eva, yes?... asked that there be no blood, no screams, and no evidence of you, at all, left in the city come morning and, I must confess, this has been much more fun for me than my initial designs might have been…”
He wiped the gore that coated the dagger’s blade off on the soaking locks of hair that hung from the top of Lemoyne’s head before returning it to its place, as well, then, stood back, listened to the man gibber and watched him heave and convulse for a moment before taking hold of a handful of that sodden mop and lifting the man’s head so that he could look into his eyes; “Just a moment longer, Lord Lemoyne. We have only one more appendage to deal with before I let you go, hm?” He released his grip on the man’s hair, moved that hand to a knot in the rope and tugged, loosing the man from the tree to which he was bound and stepped aside as Lemoyne flopped forward onto the ground at the base of the tree.
It was all the man could do in his misery to roll over and get his face out of the dirt. He did manage it, though, and in doing so caught sight of his murderer walking away from him towards the mist-gray horse that stood not far away. Something in his agonized mind screamed at him to run again, at that moment, and he desperately tried to comply, groaning and weeping as he pushed at the ground with the stumps of his forearms. He had all but managed to sit up when the mith’ganni was suddenly over him again… howled the loudest he had yet managed since his jawbone had been separated from his skull back in the city… and was quickly reduced to a gibbering, shuddering heap as a savage kick to his face ruined his efforts. Before his eyes rolled back in his head, the once and former Lord Reginald Lemoyne, junior Trade Minister of Drasnia’s bureau, wondered what the purpose of the flask the mith’ganni had just uncorked might be… sobbed when he realized that the elf’s other hand held a lit torch… and wondered, once more at the fate of his wife, as he felt the oil in that flask being poured in it’s entirety onto his crotch… when the torch dipped to set that oil alight, though, he wondered after nothing else as he was consumed by the exquisite agony of the flames that erupted between his legs and started a not so slow crawl across the remains of his flesh.
Some time later, a charred skeleton splashed into the storm-angered waters of one of the smaller tributaries of the Reyal and a pair of gleaming yellow eyes watched as it was swept away, south and eastward from Drasnia, certain that it would never be found by anyone other that the dwarves who still inhabited the mountains between Drasnia and Vaharon…
“It is done, melamin,” he whispered into the night, turning his gaze back in the direction of Drasnia’s distantly flickering lights, “A visit with the Dreamweaver will end my night and I shall seek you out beneath your tree thereafter.”
Posted on 2010-01-08 at 20:29:12.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:30:03 by Eol Fefalas
Lies. For Cayrimsa they were easy to tell. She had been telling them most of her life. As she grew her ability to weave them had improved through practice; just as her ability at the loom had improved. The problem with honing the skill of telling lies is that eventually it got harder and harder to tell the truth, it also got harder to know what was the truth and what was the lie.
Leaving the Hydra she had felt very alone. The heavens had suffered untold injuries and bled their pure elixir down upon the city. Every drop had soaked through her cloak, through her skin and to her soul until the cool liquid seemed to pull her down into the muck of Drasnia’s streets. Slowly she had lead her shadow back to her loft. He stayed under the spine of the stairs while she slinked up them and disappeared into the dark with a light jingle of bells.
The dress she had been wearing was now shoved into a bucket full of dark briny water. A puddle of heavenly elixir gathered under the cloak she had hung on a peg near the door. The canvas flap that covered the skylight was checked and secured, the corners still leaked down to the floor however. An oil lamp sat on the floor, positioned perfectly between several damp places to ensure its continued flame. Dim light fell gently on the figure hunched over the loom, now moved to a less damp place in the room than under the skylight.
Blankets wrapped around her damp curves. The yellowed sleeves of her oversized shirt caught now and then on the threads as she worked the loom. Even in the dim light her fingers moved with ease as she wove. Her mind surrendered to the loom. When nothing else could be trusted she could always trust the threads under her own fingers.
It was a compulsion she despised in so many ways. Weaving in itself was such an elven skill. It added unnecessary beauty to an otherwise utilitarian need. There was no strength in beauty. She would be better off focusing on her magic, tweaking old spells and learning new ones. It was more than her disgust at elven tradition though that made sitting before the loom so hated. When her fingers tired of their labor she would have to rise and cast her eyes upon what she had created. So many of her past creations has been ripped off the loom and burned to ashes immediately after their completion, some even before they had been finished.
In fact very few survived longer than a day. The tree hanging over her bed was one of those. One corner had a singed edge to it, not noticeable unless one looked for it, that spoke of the one time she had tried to light it but had broken down instead. She was the tree and she knew it; a rotten dead tree struggling to withstand the winds of the plains while it stood alone; stained to a bright red, the color of blood the color of ‘her’ people. A cloth immersed in a pot of dye for any length of time will take on the color of that dye, just as her own soul had taken on the color that surrounded her. Wearing other colors, chopping off her body parts, scrubbing at her skin would not change that.
She could always feel the pull from her differing blood lines. In this world the need to choose sides was important. Had things been different she might not have made the choice that she did. Had she been born into slavery, mitigated into a role of servitude for the round-ears perhaps she would have been more at ease choosing her elven heritage, bonding with those around her. Had the group of elves that took her in as an infant been more accepting of her, offered her love and support instead of forcing her to serve them for her meal and board as soon as she was old enough to walk, perhaps she would still be there. Maybe if she had found been found by a human couple, or if the woman with round blue eyes had taken her away as she had promised she would, she wouldn’t have cared about her elven blood. She might have been raised to consider herself human, enveloped in the security of the human society.
Things had not been like that though. Her heritage had always been rubbed in her face like fresh manure.
An hour of weaving and her fingers grew numb. The puddles around her grew, the colored threads, black, blue, yellow, white, red, twined together seamlessly, the heavens cried and her heart kept time.
Before she stood she closed her eyes and let her fingers wander over the design she had just laid out. The familiar ridges and canyons created with the joining of each thread seemed harmless enough. Not once did the image draw blood, perhaps when she opened her eyes and let them gaze upon the work it would not pierce at her soul for once.
With great trepidation she allowed her eyelids to drift apart. The work was not done yet, the image crafted before her was perhaps only half complete. What was there came to her in pieces, allowing it all to touch her soul at once had often caused it to bleed out across her floor.
An inky black sky dotted with stars filled the edges. A few of the stars seemed purposeful in their positioning, but they faded into the rest and drifted behind the objects that were much nearer than the stars so she did not allow herself to dwell on their positioning. Nearer to her was a bloated yellow orb that hung against the sky. In its center a rose had begun to bloom. Each petal was carefully detailed so that the base of it was a bright red and then faded toward the curled outer edge to a pure white. The yellow glare of the moon did not reflect off the rose, but instead surrounded it until Cay began to wonder if it protected the rose or consumed it. Two thirds of the way down the rose stopped abruptly in a string of loose threads. A breeze caught the threads and for a moment Cay considered picking them up and letting them guide her through the last few feet of the tapestry.
The first thread her finger brushed was one of the bright yellow ones that had been building the moon. With a gasp she wrapped it around her palm and pulled it tight instead of looping it over the cross threads. A few rows pulled out as she did and the ones above it strained. The rose warped and several petals appeared to wilt with the tug. Thorns hidden under its beautiful spread dug into her soul.
Her stool crashed to the floor as she pulled back and released her grip on the yellow thread. Sparks flying from the fires burning in her eyes nearly caught the tapestry aflame while it still rested on the loom. Quickly she closed her eyes and tried to remove the image from her mind as she collapsed upon her pallet.
If you don’t do something with it he will see it tomorrow morning…
“Just let me sleep…” she muttered into her pillow as the blankets cocooned around her. “Just… let… me… be…”
~*~*~* The trees again. Under her feet the ground was hard and pounded up into her joints as she ran through the forest. Aspens and great elms drifted past her field of vision quickly. The branches reached out for her, scraping along her skin, throwing her off balance and making her redirect her path.
What that path might be, however, was still unclear to her. The sky above was dark, black as the ink that had darkened her dress. Her dress… her eyes moved over her surroundings at the thought. He should be here, in the forest. Only the trees surrounded her, only the trees and no sign that they would ever end. Her eyes moved to the sky again. There should be stars, if he was not here there should be stars twinkling above, guiding her.
Nothing but ink greeted her from above. Tree’s below and heavy ink above. She closed her eyes and grimaced. Her foot caught and she felt herself falling. Forward she tumbled, eyes closed tightly against what met her when she landed.
She was on her back, the ground mossy and cool against her bare skin. Slowly her eyes opened and stared up into the inky blackness that pierced through the tree limbs. The world spun around her, quickening by the minute. To her left, and then at her feet, her right and then just above her head a yellow ball had begun to rise beyond the tree limbs. As it pulled further into the sky the spinning slowed and then stopped as it nested above her.
He had come as he had promised. The moonlight bathed her naked form and she began to breathe heavily. Something wet hit her stomach and she lifted her head to look down her body. Already the single drop of blood had begun to trail down her moonlit skin. She watched, transfixed as it left a red trail along the curve of her torso, edging toward her back before it fell out of vision. It was followed by another drop on her thigh, and another on her arm.
From where? Quickly she turned to look, the moon shone on the tree branches that separated her own body from his. The branches were bleeding. Around her the scent of human and elven blood mingled as the blood drained out of the bark and fell toward her. In the distance she could hear gurgled screams.
The trees drained themselves of their blood. They bent under the strain cracking and breaking with brittleness. A branch fell to her right. It bounced and splashed the blood that had soaked into the mossy ground into her hair. Her hands moved to her cheeks and felt the sticky liquid slide between her fingers.
“Please… make it stop Nyx… please!” She cried out, letting her eyes close tightly as she called out to the moon above her.
A sudden heat welling up around her made her open her eyes. The moon seemed to have grown in the few seconds she had shut her eyes to it, grown or moved closer. Its light beat upon her heavily, warmly. No… that was wrong. It was not the light or the warmth of the moon, but the trees. The trees were on fire. Laying there in the midst of a burning forest she trembled but kept her eyes on the orb above her.
The flames did not touch her, the blood that had fallen off the trees no longer stained her perfect skin, only the moonlight graced over her while she lay there. In its radiance she was safe. As the trees were consumed by fire she found herself relaxing.
She had no idea how long the forest burned she was only vaguely aware of it. The moon had her full attention, it swelled brightly in the sky. As the trees burned they fell and the branches cleared out of the space between her and the celestial body. The closer it got the more relaxed she felt and the more certain she was that she heard a whisper in elven move over her. Words were but mere sounds with a cadence like elven speak, but indeterminable in their precise meanings.
Smoke filled the air. Without looking she knew the forest had been reduced to ashes, all that was left was her and the moon. The words that before were only cadence suddenly took on meaning.
“It is done, melamin,.. I shall seek you out beneath your tree thereafter.”
“I await you…” she whispered back as the moon faded. Sitting up she looked across the ruins of the forest, before her a single tree had survived the flames. A bright red tree rose high into the night, arching its branches up toward the heavens where the moon had just been. With a sigh she closed her eyes.
In the early hours of the morning Cay slept soundly. Wrapped in the blankets she curled up close to the wall, one hand stretched out and touching the roots of the tree hung on the wall. Nearby the loom still displayed the rose blooming in the embrace of a yellow moon.
Posted on 2010-01-09 at 04:56:15.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:33:04 by Eol Fefalas
A pair of ancient silver eyes lifted from the span of deep, blue-violet fabric, pulled taut across the embroidery hoop that was held in one long-fingered hand, and turned to regard the flame that danced chaotically atop the candle that was lighting her work. A knowing smile spread across her lips as the flame flickered this way and that for a moment, trying to lick out in all directions at once, and then, whirled in around the wick before, finally, settling itself and resuming its gentle and purposeful swaying. Those argent eyes fell back to the hoop as she finished her latest stitch and secured the needle in the fabric where she would start her next. Resigning from the needle, her hand moved to gather up the rest of the cloth, which spilled like a midnight waterfall from the edges of the hoop and into her lap, and set the project aside before her gaze turned toward the far end of the room.
“I had expected you a bit earlier, Steppe Son,” Taellyn smiled into the shadows that draped those depths as she rose gracefully from her chair, “I was beginning to think that you weren’t coming at all…” She glided toward a dresser, retrieved a kerchief from one of its drawers and a pitcher of water that sat on its top, then soaking the square of cotton in the water, turned towards where she knew Nyx was waiting; “…but, I see that you have been working, which explains away your tardiness, I suppose…”
“Tardiness?” The mith’ganni’s eyes flickered into her view, now, catching the light from the candle across the room and reflecting it back at her from the penumbra near the staircase.
“Mhmm,” she nodded, extending the damp kerchief into the shadows where he stood, “As I said, I expected you earlier, therefore, you are late. Now, wipe that coal from your face, hang your cloak on the peg, there, and come in so we can talk. The hour is late and I should like to get some rest ere I open the shop in the morning.”
“Forgive me for upsetting your schedule, crone,” Nyx quipped, taking the cloth from her and using it to wipe the charcoal and weapon-black painted skull from his features before slipping out of his cloak and hanging it where the elder elf had indicated.
“The forgiveness is in the fee, boy,” Taellyn smirked in reply, waving a hand as she returned to her chair and took up the hoop again, “I am charging you for the reading, of course, and adding another three coppers for being late.”
“Bound and determined to bleed me dry, aren’t you, Dreamweaver,” the mith’ganni chuckled as he padded across the floor and settled onto a bench near where the elder wood-elf sat.
“Perhaps I am, Steppe Son,” Taellyn smiled, her eyes twinkling as they flicked in his direction and then returned to her needlework, “It isn’t as if you spend much of what you earn elsewhere, though, is it?”
The assassin, using a clean corner of the charcoal and oil smirched rag, now, to scrub drying blood and dirt from his hands.
Taellyn pulled another half dozen stitches, paused and studied the narrow, blood-red point of the star she was creating, and then looked in Nyx’s direction, again; “So, you slept, then?”
“Uma,” he nodded faintly, feigning interest in rubbing a spot of blood from a fingernail, “amin kaime… vithel kaimele…”
“So you said,” the seamstress smiled, her fingers working the needle once more, “Are you going to tell me about these dreams, then, or am I simply to guess at what you might have seen? I’ll have to add another fee if I am to read your mind as well as try and interpret whatever it has boiled up…”
“Pach, woman,” Nyx scowled, his eyes lifting to squint at her in the face of her chiding, “I am coming to that! As old as you are, I would expect you to have learned some patience over the years.”
“Time is money, Steppe Son. Is that not what you have told me in the past?”
He offered a sardonic smirk and a shake of his head. “I suppose it is,” he conceded, finally, setting the rag aside and letting the indignant expression to melt from his features.
“Eithel san’?” she prodded, not lifting her eyes from her needlework, now.
“It began with the stars,” Nyx murmured after moment spent contemplating exactly how to start the retelling, “I was on the docks, watching the sky…”
Taellyn chuckled softly. “It began before the stars, Steppe Son,” she said, “but I understand…”
He fixed her with a look that melded perplexity and annoyance almost seamlessly; “Mani?”
“Kai,” Taellyn grinned, taking her fingers from the needle just long enough to brush a long braid back over her shoulder and to subtly wave her interruption from the air. “Amin hiraetha,” she added as her eyes and fingers returned to her embroidery, “Vora.”
“As I was saying,” Nyx continued, somewhat uneasily, after blinking at the woman for a second and pushing an errant lock of his mane back over his own shoulder, “I was on the docks, stargazing. All of the constellations in the sky were also in the water… like it was not water, at all, but another sky, yes?... so there were twins of them all… But there was one, and that one alone, that appeared three times; once in the sky, another in the water, and the last, beside me, carved into the dock…”
“Not at your feet, Steppe Son? Beside you?”
“Well,” Nyx’s brow furrowed as he tried to imagine why she had challenged that particular bit of syntax, “it was a constellation that I had carved into the decking, and I was standing on the dock, but… yes… beside me… not at my feet… not the way you said it.”
“Very well,” she nodded, still not looking up from her tailoring, “Go on.”
“…As the dream went on, I noticed that some stars grew dimmer and lost their twins. Then dawn broke and all of the stars… except for the ones beside me… gave way to the sun…”
The retelling of the dream had taken longer than Nyx had imagined it would have. Taellyn had regularly interrupted his narration to ask odd questions and those questions had caused him to recall details of the dream that he had not though important enough to voice at first. So it was that when all was said and done, he had recounted every minute detail of the reverie to the old Dreamweaver and, in doing so, felt as if he had just dreamt it again and, when he at last finished the retelling, he felt as if he had just awakened from it again, too.
This second awakening is no less disconcerting than the first, either, the Twilight elf griped inwardly when Taellyn chose to fall into silence, apparently becoming lost in her needlework, for a long while. After all of your interruptions, I thought you would have been more anxious to tell me I have gone mad or worse.
“Re naa saivanima,” she smiled broadly just before he lost patience with waiting for her to say something or even bother to look in his direction.
“What?!” Nyx looked completely befuddled, now, “What are you talking about?”
“Your constellation, Nyx,” Taellyn laughed, tying a knot in the thread after finishing a final stitch, “She is very beautiful, isn’t she?”
“My constellation? I…” the mith’ganni blinked, uncertain as to what the woman was getting at and dumbstruck that she had called him by his name. Taellyn hadn’t called Nyx by his name since before either of them had come to Drasnia… “…I do not understand what…”
The elder elf, still giggling softly and her eyes sparkling with a warm, knowing light, shook her head and snapped the needle from the thread. “Sometimes, Nyx Shyndyn, I honestly believe you might be as dumb as you are dangerous,” she sighed, turning the hoop so that he could see the results of her stitching. The constellation from his dream… the only one that had stayed constant throughout the duration of the vision… just as he had described it to her was beautifully worked in fine threads of colors and varied as were the colors of the actual stars they represented. “Your constellation. Your partner. Your Etellenya.”
Nyx’s eyes went wide, the moon-yellow orbs melting to molten gold as he recognized the sigil for what it was, and he couldn’t keep his mouth from falling open in awe as he marveled at the accuracy and intricacy of the needlework. Almost without him having willed it to happen, he leaned forward and stretched out his hand to touch the embroidered pattern of stars. Then, when his fingertips came to rest on the graceful arc of the star-trail, his brow furrowed again and he tore his gaze away and found Taellyn’s silver eyes… she had already been working on this before he had even arrived… was working an image from his mind into shadowy-purple cloth before he had even described it to her. Had she somehow known his dream before he had shared it?
“Do not look so surprised, Steppe Son,” she smiled at him, “Despite the apparent complexities that your mind refuses to set aside, it’s not at all that complicated, is it? I knew the answer to your dream when you came into the shop this afternoon and, while I dearly loved listening to you do so – I haven’t heard that kind of feeling in your voice since you won Lyssa’s hand and rode all the way to Min’shar to tell me about it – I didn’t even have to hear you speak it to know…”
The rather sheepish smile that had begun to creep across Nyx’s lips faded a bit at the mention of Lyssa, and the almost warm, pinkish flush that had bloomed on his sharp cheeks flared to an angrier hue for just an instant. His yellow eyes narrowed and peeled off from Taellyn’s silver orbs and fell on the embroidered stars even as his fingertips fell away.
“She said that she’s known you for a bit longer than a week, Steppe Son,” Taellyn whispered softly, setting the embroidered work aside and, for the first time in more than thirty years, reached out to take the mith’ganni’s hand in one of hers and used the other to turn his eyes to hers, again, “how long have you known her?”
“Ten years,” he said after a moment, “perhaps… longer…”
“Why has she only known you for just over a week, then?”
“We never worked together before that,” he shrugged.
“You watched her all that time and waited until, by some twist of fate, you ended up working together before you spoke to her?”
“I did not have to watch her long to know that she would want nothing to do with me,” Nyx scowled, slipping his hand from hers and backing away from the touch of her fingers on his cheek, “she despises elves to the point that she hewed away the points of her own ears…”
“And even knowing that, you continued to watch?”
Nyx’s answering nod was faint enough that only a subtle bobbing of his mane betrayed the action.
“Psssh! Yes you do, Nyx! You just won’t let yourself say it outside the confines of your own thick skull!”
Nyx’s eyes flashed a deadly warning as Taellyn’s voice rose, his jaw tightening as he glowered at her… The woman’s firm visage didn’t change in the least, though, and she continued to stare back at him… “What does any of this has to do with my dream,” he rumbled after a moment.
“Everything,” she said, “She is the dream, don’t you see that? She is what you came here to find…”
His mouth opened to protest but she silenced him with the raising of a finger.
“…You can continue to tell yourself, Steppe Son, that you were drawn here to visit your wrath on the round-ears where they breed… you can continue to tell yourself that you do what you do out of retribution for what they did to your clan and out of reverence to that horrid god you follow… and, Nyx Shyndyn, you can continue to tell yourself that the love you sought to find when you first turned your hate-filled gaze west was supposed to be Lyssa, but you and I both know that you don’t actually believe that to be true any longer, don’t we?”
She waited for a moment, giving him an opportunity to answer but the only reply the mith’ganni offered was a single, slow blink of his shimmering eyes.
“Lyssa died before she left the plains, Nyx. She was not the type that would allow a slave brand or any sort of ‘training’ to change who and what she saw to it that she wouldn’t have to… You didn’t come here for Lyssa…The love you came here to find, the love to whom the stars have been guiding you all this time, is your ‘constellation’. The stars in the skies, Nyx, and the stars in your dreams are guideposts of the fates. Your finding this ‘constellation’ was fated and where it will lead, you, too, is fated to be…”
The mith’ganni’s features had lost any hardness that his flaring anger had carved into them and he nodded in silent confirmation as Taellyn’s words, now, along with the myriad questions she had asked him while he recounted the dream to her, started to congeal into a final acceptance of the Dreamweaver’s interpretation… and of the fact that he had known the answer to it all along as well…
“Without one another, the both of you are alone, Steppe Son,” the ancient wood-elf said softly, “both of you without people or place… both of you with nothing to care for save for that dark anger and hatred that you each profess gives you purpose…”
Nyx rose to his feet, his eyes finally tracking away from Taellyn and falling, once more, on the threadworked constellation that sat atop the small table next to her and lingered there for a while before he offered the woman a nod and padded silently across the room to retrieve his cloak.
“…There is more purpose for the both of you than that,” Taellyn’s voice followed him into the shadows even as her hands took up the midnight cloth and began to free it from the confines of the embroidery hoop, “and, that, dear boy, is what your dream means. You belong to those stars. They guide you, give you purpose beyond the illusion that you have created for yourself, and, the fates have shown them to you because, that same constellation called you here and, as you may have guessed, will also guide you home…”
“How much do I owe you,” the mith’ganni’s voice whispered from the darkness, now beyond her sight.
“For the dream-reading? A silver and two coppers,” the wood-elf smiled, not bothering to watch the shadows where he lingered, her attentions instead fixed back on the blue-violet fabric she held in her hands, “But, if you bring me thirty gold before you leave Drasnia in the next days, I shall include it in the price, of this new coat I am making you… You’ll never get all of the blood out of that one, you know? And I think the needlework on this one has become more appropriate to what you are becoming, now, than the skull you paid me to work into that one.”
“Very well,” Nyx’s voice answered from somewhere down the staircase, “I shall return in two days or less, then. Namaarie, Dreamweaver.”
“Tenna’ ento lye omenta, Steppe Son. Go to your constellation, now, and see what the fates have spun for her, hm?”
The morning sun had yet to begin it’s climb into the sky when Nyx found himself nearing the tumble-down structure on the wharf called Vergal Sea Port and the clinging dark of the night and the storm it had borne made it all too easy for him to slip past the Hellkite shadow that huddled, cold, sleepy, and miserably stiff beneath the rickety stair that stretched up to the building’s third storey. He passed like a wraith through the canvas that hung from the door at the top of that stair, the bells that hemmed it not making the faintest of peals as he entered the apartment. His yellow eyes skimmed the murk of the tiny apartment and fell upon the loom and the new work upon it… See what the fates have spun for her? See what her dreams say?… lingered on the rose and moon that embraced each other in a star-laden night sky long enough for a smile to be worked onto his lips by the translation that his mind and Taellyn’s words gave to the imagery, and then, sought out the tapestry of the tree and the softly snoring bundle of blankets that lay beneath it.
He shrugged out of his still damp cloak, let it fall where he stood, and padded softly towards the pallet. “Quel amrun, elen en cormamin,” he whispered, sinking to sit on the edge of her bed as one hand reached out to feather fingers softly across a cheek of the sleeping face that peeked from the tangle of blankets, “Oio naa elealla alasse’.”
Posted on 2010-01-10 at 15:20:22.
Edited on 2018-11-20 at 12:36:59 by Eol Fefalas