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Messages - Tahlia Faras

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Just Desserts / Re:
« on: April 26, 2019, 08:29:05 PM »
[size=18]Wish You Were Here[/size]

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
~ Songwriters: David Gilmour / Roger Waters Pink Floyd

Lumira was blind. In the brief instant it had taken her to cross the portal's threshold she'd lost her ability to see. That wasn't quite accurate, her eyes still worked just fine, they hadn't been prepared for the intensity of the light on the other side. She held her hand in front of squinting eyes trying to block the white purple glow as she would the sun and stepped forward cautiously. Had there not been others about to traverse the same space she'd have remained in place until her eyes adjusted to the brilliance that burned across her retinas like wildfire. Two steps were taken the soles of her feet shuffling across the floor with an almost agonizing slowness, she took three more before she felt what couldn't be seen. The tip of her toes collided with...something. It was solid even if it lacked the hardness of stone and it moved at the gentle impact ever so slightly.

There is a certain feel that can only be recognized as flesh.  Lumira would have known what it was even if she were immersed in darkness instead of light. It was still warm at least, the brief contact of her skin told her that much before she pulled her foot back. An arm most assuredly judging by the weight and how it had moved. If there had been a sound to hear it was lost in a cacophony of guitar like feedback in the key of D sharp, or perhaps E flat, which permeated the air heavy as a wall. She stopped her advance, moving vertically instead to kneel and grope for the impedance letting the scent guide her where her eyes could not. That hadn't been noticeable before masked as it was by the smell of sulfur from even her keen senses, not that she recognized him after so much time had passed. There wasn't even a bare emanation of the aroma the child in her memory possessed. It was still him though. Despite all the contrary input Lumira received from her five senses, a mother always knows in her heart. "Kruger..."

Tahlia didn't so much step through as wake up, her eyes ringed in silver as she, took the breath she'd been subconsciously craving since Kruger had put her into that strange half-existence. Rolling onto her side, she coughed, her brain certain she was drowning, and it took a moment for mind and body to sync back up to each other.  Once they did, she looked up, her first thought, as always, for the giant selkie who was center and shadow, and was only distracted from that search by the sight of a slowly leaking form sprawled across the floor of the forge, with Lumira hunched over him.  Not the one she'd been seeking, but one connected to him - to both of them, in his own way.  Grumbling under her breath about the stubbornness of the entire family, the tiny blonde shifted to her feet, and stumbled over, sinking to her knees next to the smith.  She laid her hands on his chest, and murmured come back, paying little attention to the fact that the blood pooling on the ground began to seep back into the man it came from - it was what she'd asked it to do, and she expected no less.

Eddie could have been insulted, even surly at how abruptly the opening closed as he passed through it. He would have been, and just as eager to lash out at the obvious orchestrator of that if there hadn't been one most excellent reason not to. It was far more important to be seen as the epitome of presence. That would be impossible if he made himself known by angrily chastising his brother, so he acted like it was nothing more than he expected. Sure he hadn't anticipated the blazing light and blaring noise that enveloped him, but he refused to let such banal things touch him... "I am not planning to help anyone pay for his utility bill... just don't even ask." His half smirk was only slightly besmirched by the need to shield his eyes, the need for it becoming far less as the tear in the air sealed itself fully and the radiance dimmed enough for him to be able to make out the person he most wanted to see him. He wasn't upset at all to see her kneeling with her hands on Kruger's chest, no not jealous in the least little bit. His face always looked that way.

Nim was alone, an unseen witness to events still being played out on two similar planes slightly adjacent to her own, or at least to the one she currently occupied. At least she was no longer subjugated to listen to the lunatic ravings of her daughter's fool of a son. Of course that only left her to listen to the sound of her own thoughts, things that nearly had her speaking them aloud. Craziness...she almost missed the boy...almost. He'd promised that he wouldn't leave her here with no way to get back, and yet here she stood wondering if she should try to leave and half afraid that if she did that she'd miss something important. So she lingered, letting her attention be drawn to the image of Lumira. A noise...certainly not a squeak...pushed out of her involuntarily as she watched and did not fail to notice the diminishing pool of blood or the creature responsible for it. She watched it unseep, or was it anti-seep from the savage crescent shaped wound on Kruger's chest.

The White Shark's bite was always vast and deep. Skin peeled back in the shape of wicked claws across an abdomen which until a second before had been pristine. Their depth should have been accompanied by gouts of red vitreous lifeblood, but it was suspiciously absent. She didn't need to see the raking blow Jax had delivered to Kruger's consciousness to know where it had come from. No, she was seeing things far more clearly now which only increased her suspicions of E.J's blonde distraction. There was more wrong with what was happening, the bite which had punctured the skin on Kruger's torso began to slowly knit itself back together leaving not even the hint of a scar behind. "How...why...who?" Nim finished the sentences that went with each inquiry silently in her head. It simply wouldn't do to be found talking to herself.

This close, Tahlia could keep her eyes closed, and focus her attention on keeping his blood where it belonged.  Or at least, where they thought it belonged.  Whoever kept taking shots might disagree.  Eddie had seen her do this before, to herself, or to him - it didn't occur to her that there would be questions, or concerns - wasn't she using her powers for good, this time?  Whatever fight Kruger was raging had given them the chance to get to the portal, and get away.  Besides, she knew how much they meant to each other, even if it might actually kill them to say so.  The healing...helped.  It was easier to make the blood behave when it didn't have an easy way out, but there were more injuries.  "Baby...could you come here? Your brother seems pretty intent on trying to get himself killed, and if I'm gonna be here a bit...I haven't been able to touch you for ages."

Eddie needed no more coaxing than the request, he'd have moved at a look from Tahlia. He stepped around his mother and knelt behind the blonde, slipping his arms around her waist and pressing himself against her back. Funny the kinds of things that brought out that I'm trouble smile. "I hope he wakes up soon..." Eddie wanted to be concerned for what was going on, the things that he couldn't see shouldn't be happening here and now. "...I think his stereo is broken." Wanting a thing and actually allowing himself to touch it were two completely different things. He did have the good sense to look abashed as Lumira frowned at him. He'd thought it was funny, maybe inappropriate but just a little. Of course the silent rebuke was just further proof that mom always loved Kruger better!! Eddie was not pouting!

Talia knew him, even if they never really talked about it - certainly not to say those words, and leaned back into his chest, snuggling into his arms and trusting him to move around her, tilting her head back and kissing the only part she could reach.  Which turned out to be his jaw, but it didn't really matter.  She could touch him again.  She liked the smith just fine, but he was Eddie's brother and that meant she'd push herself to the point of exhaustion to help him as much as she could.  The fact that he was healing, somehow, just meant she had to deal with the new wounds, and making sure there wasn't anything else mixing with it that could harm him.  It had been a while, and between the massacre the night before, and tonight...Tahlia was tapping into reserves she hadn't used in years.

"He's trapped." Lumira's gaze was on Tahlia but the clipped tone was obviously meant as a mild rebuke for her youngest. At least she hoped it was mild, though who could really blame her if it weren't? It had been a long time since she'd had anyone else's feelings to consider when she spoke. Eddie would just have to learn to be understanding. "I don't know what's holding him there." She looked over her shoulder in Eddie's direction though her intent was focused more up where the portal had been. "The way back is closed. Either he couldn't hold it open or..." or he'd closed it on purpose, but that thought was folly. No one in their right mind would intentionally trap themselves that way. "We need a way to pull him back, or barring that sever the connection." Despite the intervention which seemingly came from the blonde, Kruger's body would only take so much. Her attention was drawn to a shimmering in the air, a space significantly darker than its surroundings which never really solidified into the form of her mother. "What did you do?!"

Things had become clear to Nim now that she was no longer distracted by conversation. Even that was now an obvious ploy to keep her from discoveries, being manipulated left her feeling a trifle sour. This was what she did, having it done to her had been inconceivable until now. Being alone had allowed her to observe things with far greater lucidity. Oh, she'd seen it all as it unfolded, but the barbs and droning of Lumira's whelp had prevented her from understanding exactly what she witnessed. This place she'd been brought to was an illusion, but it was most certainly based on fact. She could see now what she'd been missing, why the nexus of imagery centered itself over the anvil. Initially there'd been no reason to believe that it was anything more than a symbol. Now she surmised that it was more, she'd seen this particular artifact before. Maybe Georg had been right after all. Maybe they'd both gotten what they wanted.

"I'm a victim here, Mira, as we all are." Nim could feel the strain at her mind as she pierced the metaphysical veil though she refused to let it alter her opinion of anyone else. The sound of a disbelieving chuckle pulled her attention to Eddie. She looked from her daughter to him with narrowed eyes before letting them fall to Tahlia with what was a promise to have words with her later. "Scoff if you will, but I've been as impotent as a child since this began." Her footfalls made no sound as she moved her way around all of them to the place where until recently Tahlia had lain.

"Oh good...just what I was missing."  If Nim was making promises, Tahlia was unaware, eyes closed, curled up as much as she could be in the warm, safe circle of Eddie's arms and trying her best to keep Kruger alive until they could figure out how to get him back.  Assuming Eddie was looking, which, let's be honest, was all but certain, he'd be the first to see the gold start to fade, deepen into the color of blood in the ocean, and then to nearly the same shade as the liquid she was working her hardest to control in the smith.  The tan faded out from her skin, and marks appeared that hadn't been visible before.  A fleur de lys behind her right ear, and the edge of an oak leaf visible along her ribs, both branded into skin more porcelain than it had been before.  The black pearl nestled in her navel shivered as she let out a slow breath, and leaned in a little closer, depending on the man behind her to hold her up.  He was the only one who knew how much it cost her, to let that go.  She didn't raise her voice, she was sure she didn't need to.  Nim had never frightened her.  "Look, much as I love your cryptic little entrances...and seriously, is that genetic?  Because you ALL do it - if you're not going to be helpful, I really need to focus on keeping him alive...for as long as I can..."  

"Perhaps you should focus more on what you're doing..Bó na Talún." Nim's face took on an innocent expression as Lumira squealed out MOTHER! You can't say that! It only lasted a moment, broken by the scrape of steel on stone. Nim bent taking the hilt so recently abandoned by Tahlia in hand.

"Your leanbh briste has linked itself to this place, Mira dear. It's up to us to know how to sever that connection. Fortunately the fool left us all the tools we'll need." She would need to find this place again, to claim the artifacts within for her own Just causes. Gaia's words were still with her. As she stood, the same transparently luminous blade extended from the Daedric hilt. "We just need to kill the heart of his manufacturings." Maybe she was Cryptic, it wasn't up to *that* woman to comment on it, right? Nim advanced on the prone figure of Kruger and the pair of kneeling women raising the weapon high over her head tempted if for a moment to cure the firstborn of this disease called living. Pity that her daughter would never forgive her, she could see that in the suspicious look in the woman's eyes.

Unseen behind her lids, the once and again blonde's eyes shot silver, and the voice that pulled from her throat was soft, but unbroken.  "Nim, I swear by your precious Mother that if you swing that blade at either man I will take every drop of blood in your veins to heal them without so much as a blink.  You mean nothing to me other than being their kin.  Are we clear?"  Small she might be, and nearly exhausted, but there was nothing in her tone to suggest that she was not capable of doing exactly what she threatened.

The weapon descended in an arc, faux blade falling swiftly towards the intricately carved anvil. She tensed for the impact, imagining (though it would be impossible to prove) the neck of a redhead stretched across the space. The crash never happened, the weapon's edge passed through the anvil as though both were made of smoke pulling Nim off balance enough to have her quick stepping to recover. The image was there one moment, and then gone like the bursting of a bubble. The only evidence that something had happened was the opening of Kruger's eyes and the sound of a child's voice surrounding them.

Mommy! Around them everything was following the anvil into oblivion. Where once there was an entire working forge, now there was nothing except for them. The only solid thing left which wasn't alive was the hilt in Nim's hands. Kruger reached for Lumira and then broke apart like smoke on water. Inside her head she could hear his voice...What's really going to break your brain later is when you wonder if I was ever here at all...

The sudden disconnect sent Tahlia falling back, and if everything was dark, she hardly noticed - mostly because her eyes were closed.  At least she wasn't in a bikini, this time.  Salt crusted leathers and a torn tank top weren't much better, but it meant she wasn't shivering.  Blinking didn't seem to improve matters.  "...he could have at least left the lights..."  Not, really, that it mattered - a moment later, she slumped against Eddie's chest, reserves tapped out, head leaning on one gigantic bicep and trusting him, if no one else in the room, to keep her safe for long enough to recover some of her strength.  There would be questions, later...both for her and from her, she was certain.  All of that could wait. [/color]

Just Desserts / Re:
« on: February 13, 2019, 02:58:10 PM »
The chirpnbuzz in Eddie's pocket had him pulling out the culprit, he looked at the text message then to Tahlia as he put it away. "They're on the way up." It had been some time since he'd seen Reggie though that wasn't his aim tonight. He did want to see him, but there were things that demanded his attention first, and not the kind that he was going to enjoy partaking in.

Tahlia gave a little nod, moving smoothly to kiss his cheek, and wrap herself around him for a moment, a little bit of comfort before he had to do things neither one of them managed well.  She wasn't about to leave him all on his own, although they'd both realized that at least the heart of the matter was better left between the two selkies.  "I'll bring him over to the security office, he should be able to access everything from there.  Just let me know when we can come back - otherwise you know he'll be there all night and we'll have cellophane wrappers everywhere."  It was a pale attempt at levity, but it was there.

He managed to let out a small laugh, if only because it was true about the wrappers. The grip of her shirt in the middle of her back was the only indicator that Eddie was feeling anything beyond normal. "Something tells me it won't be long before I'm calling. I'm honestly not sure what to expect out of her." He'd envisioned it more than once and knew there were some things that were easier to deal with than others. Violence, that wouldn't be so bad considering the alternative, a sobbing mess of a teenage girl with noone around but him to try to figure out the right thing to say. That was kind of the opposite of his ability to say things. He was good for bringing those things out, violence and tears... but stopping them? He already felt lost. The moment's reflection was interrupted by the sound of the elevator, and a pair of loud teens verbally sparring. At least that was what it sounded like by volume.

"We're in here!" Eddie called out to them to help direct the duo onto the correct path, Mother knew what kind of trouble they'd get themselves into without a little adult guidance. He sighed and leaned over to speak softly into Tahlia's ear. "When exactly did we become the grown ups?" It didn't seem possible, not with all the antics that he and his little blonde got into.

She wasn't letting go until he did, and she rubbed her cheek against his as he whispered.  "Dunno, baby.  Clearly, we need to get out more.  Raise a little hell."  Which, given the last few weeks, hell, the last few months, ought to cause screaming terrors in the Mer that had seen what they were capable of.  It had been some time since there had been a sighting of the psychotic sister of everyone's favorite hit man - good thing they had a trip already in the works. Not that there was much sign of Harley in the casually dressed Tahlia tonight.  Just a little sparkle in those big green eyes as she tilted her head back to look up at Eddie, and grin.  

The teenagers got louder, arguing about flavors - from the sounds of it, the ongoing, disturbingly thorough debate on Pop-tart cuisine that had only intensified as Reg had introduced the younger cosain to all toaster pastries could offer.  "Ok...not going to lie...I am kind of looking forward to getting those things out of the kitchen."  Hopefully neither aficionado heard her.

"Hey! That's cheating!" Reg's outburst came a moment after the sound of someone stumbling in the corridor and the appearance of Tallulah in the doorway with a look of smug superiority on her face. He of course was only a half step behind her, but glowering slightly at the girl in front of him. Maybe he was just mad that he didn't think of it first? He looked towards Tahlia and Eddie and managed an embarrassed grin. "Looks like we're not interrupting anything." His shoulder bumped into Lula's playfully, though it couldn't quite hide the fact that he'd put his arm around her...and pushed her aside. "This is a nice place...kind of Spartan... You should get some pictures or something... maybe paint the walls black?" He took a couple of quick steps away from Lula, totally expecting some kind of reprisal for the way he pushed past her.

With a quick assessment of their faces he sobered up. "I didn't do it... I mean unless I did, and I'm sure I had a good reason for it." It sure seemed like one of those expressions he was being given. "If it's too bad, I'm sure I can put it back the way it was." He could, if he only knew which little thing had escalated far enough to have his favorite people looking at him like the world was collapsing.

Lula might have retaliated, one hand shifting to return his shove, even if it was retaliation for hers - if those same looks hadn't pulled her up short.  She'd gotten used to these faces, even if they weren't as dear to her yet as they were to Reg.  But she'd never seen those looks, and immediately, whatever cracks her stone-face might have developed in the weeks of traveling back and forth sealed up in response.  Whatever it was, it was probably bigger than Reg could manage.

Tahlia stepped forward, finally letting go of Eddie with a slow sweep of her hand along his arm, and a tight squeeze of fingers.  "C'mon, Reg...wait til you see the security center here.  It's like the center of a spiderweb.  And you can even give me decorating tips along the way."  She tried to crack a smile, something to reassure the tech savant, but it was a small, brittle thing.

"Uhm...Okay. C'mon Lula..." Reg started to reach out for her only to be stopped by one hard word.

"No." Eddie shook his head at Reggie. "Tallulah and I have something to talk about, she'll need to stay here." He'd said it more sternly than he wanted to, giving in to feelings that he hadn't known were associated with this. That wasn't really true, he knew he was angry, it just boiled out accidentally at Reggie. He dropped his eyes from the hurt look on the kids face, not ready to apologize quite yet. Not until this conversation had taken its course. He chewed on his tongue, listening to Reg and Tahlia leaving since he couldn't really bring himself to watch. Once they were well out of earshot, he turned his gaze to Lula.

"Do you want to sit?" Eddie's voice had gone much softer, which was likely better than what he'd nearly done, which would have been to command her to sit down like she was about to be punished. Then again, maybe she was at that. He walked to the bar and poured out a couple glasses of bourbon while he waited for her to comply or not. "Is he treating you...nicely?" He knew the question was an attempt to avoid what was coming as long as possible.

"Reg? I...yes. He's taught me a lot of things.  About land-dwellers.  Have you had - nevermind." She sensed, intuitively, that this was not the time to compare notes on land-bound delicacies.  Sitting was still an odd concept for one who spent her time swimming or fighting, and she shook her head.  "He says you and the landcow are his friends.  That he trusts you both, and I should too.  You - we are cosain, and roane, and there is a bond there, even if you do...resist submitting yourself completely to the will of the Clan, and the Mother."  Privately, she was beginning to admire that, not that she would ever admit it.  "I'm still not sure about her."

Lula's hands twisted slightly in front of her - Eddie being...nice to her was enough to make her even more nervous than the looks had.  Without thinking, she looked back over her shoulder for Reg, and quickly snapped her attention back to Eddie, hoping he would mistake the flush of her cheeks for anger rather than embarrassment.  "What's happened?"

"It's not nice to be disrespectful to people who've been kind to you." Eddie considered the pair of glasses in his hand as if trying to decide what the lesser of two evils was. He poured half of one into the other before closing the distance and putting the smaller of the two in her hand. He didn't yell the words at her, he couldn't quite manage that yet. "Reggi's a good kid, smart but there's things he doesn't know how to do. That's probably a good thing considering what they are. He's a bit... gentle and there's people who take advantage of that." This wasn't the direction the conversation was supposed to be going. Luckily, or unluckily she'd asked that last question.

"Give me your hand..." He could see the hesitation in her eyes and waited for her to resolve herself to comply. When she did he covered her palm with his own, and took hold with his fingers. "I have a message that I promised I'd deliver from Owain..."  Eddie took a deep breath and looked directly into Lula's face. "He wanted me to tell you..." He tried to hold it together, but there was no hiding the welling up in his eyes. "That you need to learn how to laugh sometimes." That wasn't word for word, but it was what the boy had meant. "That he's sorry he didn't have the chance to give this back to you himself." Eddie released his grip on her hand leaving behind a tiny die with ten sides made from mother of pearl. The release pushed tears out of Eddie's eyes that he tried to hide behind a judicious partaking from his bourbon glass.

The roll of her eyes at the mild rebuke was pure teenager, and would likely have been followed by some level of smartassery.  Would have, if Eddie hadn't asked for her hand.  It took several moments before she complied, watching him dwarf hand and wrist in his grip.  Confusion was clear, her eyes narrowing as he began to deliver the message.  Lula had known Owain nearly her whole life, the two of them of an age, and only the fact that another cosain of his tribe had been caught by whalers off the coast of another shore had catapulted him to the full responsibilities before her.  

"Why isn't he..." But she knew, couldn't help but know as Eddie's eyes welled up.  It was the risk they took, and even traveling back and forth, she had heard about the culling.  "No. No. He can't...he's so strong...he's supposed to..." Her hand clenched tight around the die, not something from their world, but this one, and collapsed onto a chair, the bourbon shaking violently in her other hand.  "He can't be gone.  He...we're..." Sniffling, she ran out of words, and held the die to her chest.

"He's dead, Tallulah..." Eddie took another steadying drink before continuing. "Him, Oralea, Jadin, Blaire, Scarlet..." The names fell from him like the breaking of waves on the sand, people they knew, all of them young. He thought he'd come to terms with it, that he could say their names to her at least without being overcome. He knew better as he rushed through the last of them, his grip tightening on his glass. It took a force of will not to throw it against the wall. "We made it out, You, me, Bo...others." Certainly more than had been slain, but Eddie knew this was only the beginning of what the Mer had in mind.

He moved closer to the young Selkie, laying a steadying hand over hers and peeling the glass from her fingers at the cost of wearing the contents across the back of his hand. "I want you to stay here, with us, for now. At least until the harbor is clear again." Eddie hadn't thought that far ahead, not in any way that would be called sane, even for him. It was his responsibility, and now so was the well being of the stranded little girl who was no longer able to hold onto her stone face.

Tears streamed down her face, no sign now of the mask she'd kept up for so long.  The news that her mentor had made it out barely registered...others might fall, but Bo..Nim...they might as well be immortal as far as she was concerned.  "They're just kids." Like her, even if she never wanted to admit that. "Were." Because they'd never get old. Never grow up, find mates, have young of their own.  They'd be young forever.  "The Mother can't want this - I know they said she's angry with us, but she can't..." Another sob broke, and for a few minutes, the only sounds were sharp gasps, and sniffles.

Lula hadn't really noticed when Eddie took the glass away - she wasn't a big drinker to begin with, and his hand at least had the benefit of being warm, and not breaking when she squeezed tightly, trying to regain her composure.  " I can't. I have to go help..." Help who? Most of the other cosain's-in-training she knew were among those lost, and she doubted Bo needed her help.  "I have to go.  I can't just...hide here on shore with the land witch and Reggie.  You're going...aren't you?"  She'd seen him in the water, of course, during training, and while she would die before she said so, she knew Bo was often awed by the giant selkie.  They all were.  An entire island of warriors, but there was something more to Eddie.

"This isn't the Mother, it's fear, and no... you aren't going to help. Hate me if you have to, but I won't lose another...not like that." Eddie's words had a note of finality to them, they had moved from request to command as though he had the right to assume it. He could feel the heat in the look that she gave him, but it was better for her to be angry with him than to leap into something that she really couldn't understand. Perhaps if she'd seen it she would, but had that happened he was sure that she'd have been lost too. There hadn't been any love from the teen for him, but he would be obeyed!

"I doubt anyone's coming. The harbor is mine, it always has been... and I will not share it! Especially not with a child!" He was always a good liar, the trick was to stay close to the truth. He didn't believe there would be a rescue from the others, or even a plan. Part of him believed that they'd simply accept the tragedy as being ordained by the goddess. That was the way it was all too often in his opinion, but he wouldn't let that kind of mania seep its way into another...not if he could save her. "Besides, Reg needs you. Unless you believe that the others haven't taken notice of him? That they can't smell you on him? Who will save him when they come?" It might be true, Eddie was sure there had been incursions from the sea, and that their targets were the two people in the room and anyone they could use to hurt them.

"Why would they want Reggie?" The idea bothered her more than it should have, and sometime when she was alone, and not reeling from the loss, she'd examine that. "He's just...he's landbound. Like her. What does this have to do with them?" Surely, the rumors were just that. And she could leave when she wanted.  She just...didn't.  The fact that she'd been staying longer was because it was a long trip, and she was learning how the humans thought so she could defend against them.  It had nothing to do with ice cream and pop tarts, and a certain person.  It didn't.

Lula shrank back into the seat, Eddie in a temper, even a feigned temper, wasn't something to be trifled with.  But she wasn't trained for nothing, and anger was so much easier to deal with than fear and grief.  "So, you're going to stay here, and hide in your harbor, with your
fionnadh talún
and let the Mer destroy our people? And you want me to stay here? I'm a child like you said, like all the rest - you won't let them hide here, why do I matter?"

"They'll take him to get to you, they'll make you watch while they hurt him and they'll enjoy it all the more because he's landbound. Tell me you can't already see that, because if you don't then you really have no business going out there now." Eddie poured himself another drink, sipping off of it before turning his attention back to Lula. "What is it that you think truly frightens the Mer? Our expansion? They're just as equipped as we are for that. It's the threat of a possibility that we may mix with the landbound. Look around you the next time you're out and actually see things for what they are. These people advance at such an accelerated rate while the seaborn are left behind." He'd said as much to Bo, to anyone who would listen and constantly met with skepticism. They were too set in their ways, and maybe that was the problem. Maybe he could only reach one mind with his arguments.

"I'm not hiding." Eddie reached out and took Lula's arm, pulling her off of the seat and towards the window. He pressed her to it a little harder than was absolutely necessary. "But I'm not a fool either. There's hundreds of Rokea out there... looking for you!" They were looking for him too, but still he wasn't hiding. He was simply picking his battleground, it just happened to be on land for now. The beach had been cleared of the bodies, the tide taking care of the smaller pieces, but it was still abandoned. "Because you're proof, little girl that we can evolve further!" He held her there for a moment longer before letting her go. His fist flexed so hard that the tendons were creaking. "Besides, there's still Bo, and Nim and a hundred other Màthair Naoimh out there. Here and now, it's just you, me and anyone else who happened to make it ashore."

Eddie ground his teeth and gave Lula a look stern enough to have been weighted chains. "And if they approach you... you send them to me. You are not to go off and put your ass at risk, I don't care if Jenny Haniver herself asks you to! Do you understand me?" He could have been a parent reprimanding their child. "You matter to me."

She didn't hit the glass because her training had her throwing up the flat of an arm to stop herself from cracking into it face first.  It was easier to focus on the beach than it was to look at her own tear-stained face, the red-rimmed eyes and puffiness of what might be her first good cry since she'd arrived at the island.  That he hadn't once mentioned the blonde, off somewhere with Reggie, didn't escape her notice.  Not directly.  And where before she would have greeted it with confusion, given the miles she'd swam with letters, she was beginning to realize it was a sign of something else.  "But all our cosain are..." Her voice died away, realization dawning.  All cosain - all the ones the roane had, at least - were half-breeds at least.  There were rumors some were more, especially where both parents had worn the ring.  She could see the fins, circling.  The beach hadn't been open since, and she was still coming and going the longer route.  Only this time...she wasn't going back.  There was nothing to go back to perhaps.  And she wasn't fast enough, no-one was fast enough, to make it through all of that.

"I understand."  Here and now, even if he hadn't had the training she'd spent her young life acquiring...well, Eddie had a ring, and she didn't.  As much as cosain were not generally much for rank, that mattered.  Besides, he knew the land better, this place better, these people better than she did.  Than she could. For now, she had to listen, and learn.

As if realizing exactly how he was sounding, and acting for that matter, Eddie did something he probably should have started with. It wouldn't be the first time he'd waited for that kind of thing. He gave Lula a sympathetic look, taking in the tears and the melting pot of emotions on her face he slipped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her in and held on as prepared for enraged poundings as he was for anything gentler. He didn't tell her that everything was going to be all right, it was already too wrong. "I know it's hard, that it feels like someone just gutted you..." It still felt that way to him when he dwelt on it. "But I'm here, we're here for you."

Eddie could have said that there would be a reckoning, because there would, but that would come another time. This was, in his opinion, too soon to make promises of retaliation that would do nothing to bring back the dead. He caught a glimpse of blonde and waved to her to indicate that the worst was over. At least he hoped it was, Lula could be unpredictable sometimes... at least when she wasn't imitating a banshee.

If he'd done it any earlier, she would have wailed against his chest and swung wildly, as if it were he, and not the Rokea, who had killed off her friends.  Now she was too exhausted, too overwhelmed, to do much more than cling to him and sob out the last bits of ineffective anguish.  It wouldn't stop hurting, it might never stop hurting - but she would do her best to channel that into action, and planning and...something.  She would do something.  

The blonde had come up alone, detouring Reg for snacks and sodas, as much because she thought they would be needed as to keep him from becoming the target of a grief-stricken selkie. If she was going to turn on one of them, Tahlia was certain she could take it.  Reg - Reg would take it personally.  Peridot met burnt sienna across the room, with just the slightest hint of bewilderment.  Nevermind grown-ups, when had they become guardians?  

Eddie made the universal gesture for Kleenex, mostly because he could feel the wet spot on his shirt and knew that they'd be necessary. He stroked Lula's hair soothingly a few more times, taking the box from Tahlia and putting it into the teen's hands. "Here... you wouldn't want Reggie to see you with snot all over your face." It was a poor attempt at a joke, but something told him that it was true regardless. He even turned to give her a place to hide when Reg finally made his sweets laden way into the room.

Reggie knew he'd missed something, because Lula never looked like that with him. His brows furrowed accusingly at Eddie while he set the tasty treasure hoard onto a table and promptly forgot them so that he could insinuate himself between the two selkies. Instinct had him brushing at a stray tear on Lula's face, and then turning to the two adults for answers. "What did you say to her?" His tone was demanding and protective at the same time, he'd never taken it with either of them before. Of course he'd never seen Lula break down like that before, especially when they'd had such a good time getting there, tripping and pushing aside. Those were still things that made them both laugh. Well he laughed, Lula usually just looked triumphant, which he had figured out meant the same thing.

Just Desserts / Re:
« on: February 08, 2019, 10:52:07 AM »
We're here!  Well - in thought if not in deed. I solemnly swear we are up to no good and the chaos will continue.  Just needing to focus on life afk right this minute.

Just Desserts / Re:
« on: December 05, 2018, 08:32:33 PM »

Drown if you want,
and I'll see you at the bottom,
Where you'll crawl on my skin
and put the blame on me,
so you don't feel a thing.
Go on and save yourself, and take it out on me.
~ Audioslave

The tools might be different, but their use was quite similar as workmen spread a mortar like substance into the gap. It wasn't exactly mortar, the hue and consistency were as pearlescent as the walls. Eddie didn't want to think about how it was made, or where it came from. He nodded to Tahlia, it made sense to send the one person who made no noise to scout ahead. "Just be careful." He knew he didn't need to worry, but that didn't stop him from doing so anyway.

"It'll give me a chance to rest up a little for the next stretch." Lumira put her back to the wall and slid down til she was sitting on her heels. She watched as Tahlia moved off, doing everything she could to prepare herself and not be the reason that they ended up getting caught. "She seems nice. You deserve someone nice." She didn't catch the grateful, if confused, look that Eddie gave her.

"She's whatever she needs to be." He mumbled the words, keeping his eyes on where Tahlia had disappeared to.

The tiny blonde blew a kiss back before she disappeared behind a pile of rubble, carefully picking her way with an eye to how easy the path might be, not only for Eddie, but for Lumira.  It was probably for the best that she didn't hear the description - it would only have made her laugh, and lose her focus.  Glancing up, there was no sign of the creature, and no sign of patrols. She just had to trust what they had been told.  So far, showoff or not, Kruger had been as good as his word.  

Right now, Tahlia was being exactly what she needed to be, what *they* needed her to be.  It was took much to ask that there were no guards at all, but she was swift, and silent, moving up on the one left behind to make certain he was alone.  The path beyond seemed clear, as far as she could see.  It wouldn't stay that way.  Carefully making her way back, she caught Eddie's eye, and gestured, certain he would be able to follow even if she wasn't right ahead.  Not wanting to take the risk that the guard would hear Lumira's more audible approach, she crept back to the guard, breathing out a single word as she sent the blade through his back, and used the relatively solid weight of it to carefully lower the body to the ground, away from immediate discovery.  No sound, and somehow the blood pooled slowly from his butchered heart.  Holding her breath, she tried to listen past the sounds behind her for any alarm, and heard...nothing.

Silently, Eddie reached for his mother, lending her his strength to help her rise. The progress was slow, anathema for him. He would have preferred to go at this fast and hard, but what more would you expect from someone called Fast Eddie? This entire thing plagued at him, pulling him from his own believed strength, that and having to watch the frailty of someone who had always seemed unbreakable. He found himself, even as they quietly moved down that first least dangerous hallway, hoping that something would happen...anything that would put him into a place where he was far more comfortable. In a different situation, there hadn't been many, this urge of his would have pushed him to make something happen. It made a sick kind of sense perhaps, Eddie didn't like feeling vulnerable, or avoiding things that were better faced head on with a grin and shout of something foul. In a way it was him pushing away those things that were better for him.

Those feelings didn't disappear as he led Lumira through the opening hidden by the massive tapestry. They lessened, slowly seeping out of him in order to make room for the next time...and the next. He looked over his shoulder at the shrouded entrance like a man expecting trouble to find him that he'd thought left behind. They moved through the spiraled corridor, that prickly feeling on his neck subsiding even as a certain amount of trepidation began to rise at the sounds coming ahead of them. Water still surged down there, another of those unfightable enemies. At least this one was an old friend.

Lumira concentrated on every step she took, not wanting to become the reason for their getting caught, and yet she managed to marvel at the gaping hole and the fractured fault line descending down the wall. It had even managed to crack the floor, though that was too fine, its edges pressed too tightly to leave room for light to flow through it. It was more than she'd expected to see, though if she were being honest with herself not so much that she was surprised. Her son had always been bigger than his peers, and even those several years older. He grew quickly, and with that had come all the awkwardness of rapid growth. He'd tripped often, broken things unintentionally, messes had followed him until he'd managed to get used to his own size. She'd never thought about it back then, perhaps she should have but the sight before her seemed right in a way. This is what it looked like when her son intentionally broke things.

Tahlia stayed in the lead, glancing back occasionally to check on their progress. Rescue missions were not something she was familiar with, as a rule.  The last time - the last time had been in a cold, wet dungeon in another world, almost another life, and she had been the one being rescued. She was deadlier, now, if not much bigger.  Looking back was nearly like looking in a mirror...with a shake of her head, she focused, her steps slowing as they approached the training grounds, and the sounds of battle reached her ears.  It had a different tone than before, more frantic, desperate, even.  Holding up a hand, Tahlia crept forward, blade at the ready, and glanced down to the rapidly filling enclosures.  If they hadn't been fish, she might have worried, but it seemed the denizens of the deep were taking the offered opportunity to get a little of their own back.

Lumira couldn't help but feel something for the scene below, her gaze had been drawn there whether through the sound or some sense of foreboding from an unknown source. The predatory sea denizens were not large, the break wouldn't allow for anything large to push through. It didn't hold back the numbers though, the forms below were certainly trained but there's always a huge difference between training and reality. She wished she could want them all dead, would have perhaps if they weren't children, older perhaps, teetering on the edges of adulthood but children nonetheless. She watched as they formed defensive squares against the influx of hungry tooth filled mouths, fascinated even as she was disturbed by what was happening. She kept moving, their progress was still within her ability to keep up moving by feel at the moment while her gaze was trained elsewhere. She kept moving that is, until she ran smack into Eddie's back. His form was stiff, like every muscle he possessed was suddenly bunched up, coiled and ready to spring into action.

Coldness burned its way through her, its source beginning at the very tips of her toes where the first touch of rising water washed over them. She looked at that, and was reminded of what it looked like when water filled a bathtub by slowly increasing degrees. It was the low growl that she felt from Eddie as much as heard that managed to direct her attention forward. The corridor extended further by quite a bit, there was one break some distance ahead and instinctively she understood that was for them. It wasn't the way that had them halted, but what shared the path with them. Lumira felt Eddie start to move, and grabbed his arm tightening her grip desperately when it seemed he was trying to pull away.

A massive figure stood in their way, eight feet tall and heavy with corded muscles. Its mouth was filled with wickedly serrated triangular teeth. The Rokea had transformed only halfway, and the head that lifted from its shoulders was that of a shark, but Lumira knew it to be the one who had brought her here so long ago. It was the same one they always brought in when they needed to move her from one place to another, though it had been some time since she'd seen Jax. She didn't know why, only that his disappearance had incensed many of the acolytes. She knew she didn't have the strength to hold Eddie back, not with her hands at least. "Don't...please."

Tahlia stood between the two giants, frozen, her eyes locked on the Rokea much the way a sparrow watches a snake.  She wasn't a harmless songbird, though, and the smile that wreathed her face was more predatory than anything that of sang like she did ought to be capable of. The blade was slowly twisting in her hands, rising slowly into position. She could hear Eddie's growl, and it kept her from backing down.  

"Do not engage." There was a sluggish tenor to the words, the kind that could be found in any drunk in a tavern, or to one on the fringes of exhaustion.

Eddie pulled his arm free of his mother, and gripped the spear in both hands. "We can take him together, Pumpkin."

The voice pulled her up short. She knew what it was.  Knew who it was, even if she'd never heard it sound like that before.  "But...we can beat him.  He can't touch me, and Eddie could take him..."

"That's what I said..." Eddie started to cut off Tahlia, then looked at her to see who she was looking at. It wasn't his mother. "Who are you talking to?" This was hardly the time for insanity to set in.

"Regardless, you're running out of time." The words dimmed in volume, and if it were somehow possible felt more like a groan.

Eddie began to move forward, there would be time later to figure out what was going on with his little blonde.

Pale green eyes remained locked on the half-shark, and there was just the barest shake of her head.  "Your brother says we're running out of time.  Baby...he sounds tired..." She still thought there was a chance.  

That may have explained Tahlia's sudden insight into things, but it certainly didn't shed any light onto how they were going to manage to get past the big Rokea without time wasted on a fight. He needed a moment to think, to assess the situation...a second or two to resign himself to tell Tahlia to get his mother out, that he'd see her soon as confidently as he could muster on short notice.

"Where did you come from?" Jax's voice rasped its way past those jagged teeth a fiendish facsimile of the one that had last been heard by any of the trio as the giant Rokea looked at them...except he wasn't looking at them, his eyes seemed to Eddie to be focused on something else altogether.

"No!" The shriek came an instant before Eddie could manage one of his irreverent retorts. It came from his mother of all places. Perhaps she knew his plan? The rising water between them and Jax splashed three times at different intervals which began in front of them and ended half a stride in front of Jax. There wasn't even a heartbeat between that final splash before the massive figure was blasted backwards down the corridor, his mouth striking for no visible reason.

Lumira had felt the faintest brush of air against her skin, nothing that might not be expected considering where they were and what was happening as the cold sea infiltrated deeper into the warmer space of the corridor. It was the smell that didn't belong, the barest hint of heated sulfur which told her what was happening. Visibly nothing had changed, she didn't see the form that had emerged from the corridor that had veered off to the left. That didn't stop her from knowing it had run past the trio, despite never viewing the words that blazed off the dark material of its shirt which read The Anvil eats Fish for Breakfast! She had heard what Tahlia had said, and understood the danger of what could be. "You'll have to carry me from here." It was the only way to speed up their pace.

It seemed only Tahlia had front row seats to this show.  The shirt made her laugh - both brothers had a positive gift for showmanship, even if they'd never admit it was something they shared.  If only she had more of an understanding of what was going on.  Part of her wanted to go after Jax, a big part...the rest knew he wouldn't have done this if it wasn't absolutely necessary.  "Baby...?"

Eddie wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, not when he was in a hurry at least, no matter how odd it was to watch the Rokea fighting with nothing. He nodded at Tahlia letting the spear clatter to the floor and turning to hoist his mother. She wasn't wrong, this would allow them to move much more quickly. "Lead the way, baby." He fell in behind the blonde, surging forwards with his burden and not thinking twice about how the area right around Jax appeared to have the red tinge of blood in the water. He wouldn't have the time anyway, because the now unblocked doorway showed why the water was rising above their ankles. The stairs had disappeared beneath the incoming sea like some kind of sinking ship.

The little blonde hissed a word as they drew closer...blood in the water meant she could do that at least.  The translucent form paused at the stairs. She knew she wasn't there, and yet...water and she didn't have a great history.  But it was the only way out, and the faster they got out, the faster this would all be over.  At least she hoped so.  Not for the first time, she wished she could touch - she was trying to listen to Lumira's advice and not panic, but the touch of Eddie's hand would have done a lot to keep her calm.  Shooting a last look over her shoulder, she gave him a soft smile, and moved forward into the water.  This way out, apparently.

Eddie was careful, carrying his mother slowly into the rising water rather than plunging in like he normally would. The change came for them both at nearly the same moment. It did manage make things better for Lumira, as she'd said there would be less pressure from being forced to stand. Though it did nothing to assist in communication between the two selkies and the transparent Tahlia, who seemed to be balking at being submerged in salt water. Eddie poked his head out of the water to look at her and chirp whistle reassuringly. She knew the way... they needed her... he knew she could do it! Likely she understood none of it.

The water didn't so much as ripple as she stepped into it.  The chirps didn't translate to words, but she could guess Eddie was being encouraging.  Taking an unnecessary breath she moved deeper...not finding the resistance she expected.  The water was like air, and she realized that she wasn't constrained by normal movement.  Watching the two selkies for a moment, Tahlia launched herself forward - at least this time, she couldn't drown.

Being in the water had a healing effect on Lumira, it didn't make her whole by any means, but she felt stronger than she had in a long time. Normally she'd delight in the sea, perhaps marvel at how Tahlia's half there form moved so swiftly and maybe even try to play. There was an urgency to their swim, one that she was unable to explain to either of them in any language. She pushed herself to keep up with them without charging ahead into places she didn't know. If she had she'd have left them behind, in fact it was the moment at which Tahlia made the last turn into the forge that she did just that. There was a figure in there, a burly Mer who stood in contemplation of the disk feebly pulsating in his workspace. Lumira used her considerable size to bowl into the smith, pushing past him through the rupture to disappear.

Tahlia watched the seal-Lumira send the Mer tumbling, and paused, watching the gateway flicker.  Moving close, she laid a hand on the giant head of the leopard seal behind her, knowing he couldn't feel it, but wanting the moment anyway.  The way out dimmed, and then brightened, and she knew they didn't have much more time to lose.  Hopefully Kruger would be waiting on the other side, after all, he was only a little more there than she was.  Blade still in hand, she darted back to the surface.

Eddie couldn't feel the touch, that didn't mean he didn't appreciate what it would feel like. He let out the briefest of whistles, then watched as Tahlia took her run at the dying gateway, following along in her wake and maybe almost playfully colliding with the mer who was trying to right himself as he passed into the portal moments before it disappeared completely.[/color]

Just Desserts / Re:
« on: December 05, 2018, 08:23:39 PM »
[size=18]Poor Unfortunate Souls[/size]

If you want to cross the bridge, my sweet
You've got the pay the toll
Take a gulp and take a breath
And go ahead and sign the scroll
~ Poor Unfortunate Souls lyrics (c) Walt Disney Music Company

Eddie had never been here, not inside here at least and yet he knew exactly where he needed to go. "You could have, but I didn't expect that you would want to." He reached out to take Tahlia's hand only to have it pass right through her. How had he missed that she was practically transparent anyway? "Do I want to know what's happened to you?" He probably should have phrased that differently, because yes he did want to know. "Stay with me, I'd hate to lose you in here." If that were even possible in her current state, he was about to head out when he heard the creaking groan echo through the corridors. That wasn't a major concern, it was the sound that followed which had him start to worry. The inrush of the sea was distinct even at the distance the sound needed to travel to get to the dynamic duo. "Oops..." He would have made a quick grab for the blonde, if he hadn't already been thwarted once by her lack of solidity.

Turning back towards the essence which pulled at his chest like fishing line, Eddie stepped over the fallen Mer and those things which would have his feet bleeding. His path becoming a winding twist of doorways and corridors that undulated anglelessly, though even as he moved forward he couldn't keep from looking over his shoulder to check on Tahlia.

"Your brother.  He did - something like that mark Nim put on me, so I'm here, but...not.  I guess cause the whole...not one of you, thing?" Tahlia shrugged, staring at her the way her fingers closed over nothing.  They were ghosts to each other, in this place, but she was there and he could see her, and somehow that was important.  She couldn't hold on, but she was as close behind as her much smaller strides could keep her.  Habit had her murmuring a single word under her breath, hoping to erase the crimson footprints in Eddie's wake.  "And before you say anything, I asked him to." Begged might be closer, but now wasn't the time or the place for a conversation they'd been so good at avoiding.

The rush of water was a backdrop as they made their way through the smoothly curving corridors, trusting the big Selkie to lead the way.  She was pretty sure she couldn't drown like this, but really, why test that theory?  Hopping over a splayed figure (possibly landing on its head just to make herself feel better), it took her a moment to realize that the corridor had somehow gone from simply clean to pristine, and there was a subtle scent in the air she could only describe as antiseptic.  Nose crinkling, she resisted the urge to touch anything, and took an extra few steps to stick just a little closer.

Abandoned pathways stretched out before them, their normal occupants pulled away to other places whether that was dealing with the flooding below or the Livyatan that someone had managed to enrage mattered little to Eddie, so long as they didn't get in his way. It wouldn't last, he knew that much, hell he could hear voices ahead and see where this particular hallway became an open area. Navigating around it would have been pointless, the pull would bring him back here again. He stopped at the edge, putting his back to the wall and pointing to a closed door in full view of the chamber just around the corner.

"Liandra's always saying the most horrible things about you." The voice was clear, strong, and quite young. It came from a novice acolyte who, judging by the smell, was delivering food.

A second voice came from further into the chamber, this one deeper, full of experience, and a bit of ire. "Girls who gossip are a bore, dear. I'm certain they've told you I don't like a lot of blabber... so run along, before I teach you what idle chatter's for."

The tray the acolyte carried hit a tabletop hard enough to indicate that it was done on purpose. It was followed by a haughty huff and solid footfalls heading down an adjoining corridor. "Ugh! She's such a witch!" It likely wasn't meant to be heard, but the low chuckle from the other woman said that she'd gotten exactly what she wanted.

The witch in question tilted her head, not turning to look at the edge of the hallway, although it was obvious there was no-one else to whom the next words could be addressed.  "Come in, come in, my dear...we musn't lurk in doorways.  I know why you're here, of have a thing for a certain Selkie...not that I blame you, he is quite a catch.  But - you're just a little landbound, aren't you. aren't quite all here either..."

Tahlia looked over at Eddie, and mouthed a question.  Not quite a question, since she took a half step - after all, what could the witch do to her in her current state?  

He certainly didn't like that the woman seemed to know that much about Tahlia and her current state of unbeing, but it was clear that she only sensed one of them. Then there was the matter of the ring of keys that glinted their all too solid presence on a desktop. Eddie was of two minds, on the one hand he was more than happy to make a play for them himself but he knew he wouldn't get more than a few steps before he was wrapped up in some sort of spell. The acolyte's accusation of the woman being a witch may have been more accurate than a simple insult. He nodded at the keys, hoping that Tahlia would understand what needed to happen.

She did, and nodded ever so slightly, masking the gesture by tucking her hair behind an ear, and stepped out to where the witch could see her.  Tahlia had yet to see an old Mer, or one who wasn't in fighting trim - this one was neither, her face crinkling at the edges, and drooping into a jowled jaw that kept nodding after she had stopped.  "How did you know I was there?  And...why I was there?"  She wouldn't mention names...the sea hag didn't seem to fall for the Misery Woe myth that had had the sister in the infirmary screeching.  Making her slow, gravity-mimicking path to where the witch stood, she purposefully angled her way along the wall, hoping the other woman would turn to track her.  

"The girl wasn't kidding when she called me a witch.  I fortunately know a little magic, and I use it on behalf of poor yourself."  The zaftig figure shifted as they'd hoped, moving toward Tahlia with what was meant to be a reassuring smile.

Timing was everything, knowing that didn't make waiting any easier for Eddie. There would be those who, if they ever heard of this, would chastise him for sending her out there into danger[/]. They were the same people who believed that women weren't capable of handling it too. Maybe they weren't always wrong, there were plenty of women who needed to be constantly protected. Of course there were plenty of men with the same issue, and those same people would often look down on them. There's nothing wrong with being afraid, what was more important was finding the strengths in those people and using it.

It was true that there had been the occasional rescue, but Eddie had faith that Tahlia was more than capable of anything. It didn't make it simpler to let it happen, but that was exactly what he would do. He observed, as stealthily as he could, the interaction between the shade and the admitted witch, letting things unfold as they would. He was ready to step in, should the need arise, but she knew what was needed and slowly the little blonde managed to get the witch turned fully about. That left him to do his part, at least his bare feet were quiet on the floor though he was conscious of every step and the way his skin seemed to want to stick to it. Probably whatever they used to clean it? It didn't matter, what did was getting the ring of keys without them making a sound to call attention to himself. It wasn't much different than picking a pocket, just a bigger sleight of hand illusion. Once he had them in his palm, Eddie moved silently towards the door and began to test the different keys in the lock.

Tahlia kept both of them in her sight, her bottom lip caught between her teeth, every inch the damsel looking for a magical cure to whatever was a step beyond a long distance relationship. "So you me? How?"  Eyes wide, hands twisting in front of her, those angelic looks of hers sold the act with only the barest effort from her.  She just needed to keep the witch focused.  Eddie could do the rest - would, she had no doubt.  She'd never seen him fail.  

"What you need, to be part of his world.  I could do that for'd make a very pretty seal.  Such...lovely golden fur...Let Orsine help you get your Selkie, pet...after all, who knows what he's getting up to while you're sitting on the beach, just waiting for him to come home. There's a lot of fish in the sea, so to speak...fine, strapping male like that probably has a mate in every cove..."
Eddie looked away from the door for a moment, using touch to insert the keys. He frowned at what the witch was saying, a look was sent to Tahlia to steady her resolve perhaps to let her judge for herself what was true and what wasn't. His fingers gave a twist to the key which turned, he could feel it pulling the bolt of the lock open. He left them in the door, turning all the way towards Tahlia and Orsine. He'd thought the *woman* was a fable, maybe he should have known better but she just seemed so...unreal... growing up.

He moved away from the door, it was time to put the witch in her place as defiantly as he could. Eddie still had the advantage of being *unseen*, the irony wasn't lost on him and he'd likely point it out later. Now he just needed to keep the witch's offer from taking hold. He kept his progress slow, the room wasn't huge but there was a lot of space to cover between the door and them, too much if he betrayed his presence too soon. Enough that Orsine would be able to get the drop on him and who knew what she would unleash?

Anyone else would have missed the wink before her eyes went wide, her attention on the larger-than-life figure of Orsine. "Do you think that would help? He's been away a lot, lately...and there's" A little truth, just enough to season the lie.  As secure as Tahlia often seemed to be, she couldn't compete with the ocean, and she knew enough not to try.  Eddie wouldn't respond to a tight leash any better than she would.  "But I wouldn't be able to change back..."

Who knew what snapped the witch's attention away from the girl, and toward the door, and the giant Selkie standing between her, and it.  Rage contorted her features, and power crackled across her skin as she pointed a shaking finger at Eddie.  "Ainmhithe dí dare too much!"  Lightning gathered in her other hand, rising to send it flying before turning with a speed surprising in one of her age and build, and sending that ball of destruction toward the tiny blonde figure who'd served to distract her.

"You go too far, Witch!" Eddie could take being the focus of Orsine's ire, at least he thought he could, but the woman turned the intention of her assault on Tahlia. "No!" He was too far away to interfere, half a step it might as well have been a mile for all the good it did. He'd gotten his hands on Orsine, used every bit of the strength in his body to pull at her and force her away from the little blonde. Too late...he'd been too late... that shocked him, left him uncertain of how to proceed. His foot came up catching Orsine in the stomach and sending her careening towards the table he'd so recently liberated the keys from.

There was desperation in his expression as he turned back to Tahlia certain to find her a quivering mass of electrocuted flesh. Eddie knew he should have kept his focus on Orsine, but that just wasn't something he was capable of doing. He didn't care what happened, not if he'd brought the blonde to harm. "Baby?!" He stepped forward, dreading what he'd find when he felt the implosion of heat across the exposed skin of his legs. He winced, expecting to become little more than charred Selkie, only to hear Orsine hit the floor next to his feet. It was enough to pull his gaze back to discover the fierce gaze of the redhead standing in the now open doorway.

Tahlia's instincts had taken over, throwing herself to the side, and down before she remembered that she...wasn't really there.  Still, who knew what magic could do to her, in whatever state Kruger had sent her here in.  Brushing off non-existent dust from her illusory form, she stood up just in time to see a blast of something vaguely purple ripple through the air, and send the sea witch Orsine plummeting to the floor.  The flames aimed at Eddie's back hit the strange smooth surface below their feet, and faded. There wasn't time to react, just stare in shock at the figure that had emerged from the cell, eyes only a few shades darker than her own, and crimson locks that reminded her of centuries past, and people long gone from her. Facing down the witch she'd done without a thought, this woman...made her nervous.

"I'm ok, baby.  I'm pretty sure it would have just gone through me but..."  Stepping closer, she reached for him, cursing under her breath when her hand went through his. "I'm ok. Did she get you?"  Later, maybe, she'd find herself a quiet moment to process just how many times she'd nearly died since meeting the Selkie, nevermind that she wouldn't change a moment of it.  Right now...there were more important things.

Habit, had him putting out his hand for Tahlia to take hold of, or was it instinct now? Either way he was unable to feel the solidity he was looking for. Her voice pulled his attention away from the form of Lumira and, after several moments of high scrutiny, finding the smile that would answer her questions. "Right as rain, Pumpkin." He wanted to put his arm around her protectively before going to where his mother stood eyes glaring at the unconscious witch lying prostrate on the floor. Those eyes moved to him and in turn to Tahlia softening ever so slightly as she gestured for the two of them to come inside the chamber with her.

Eddie would have preferred that connection which he was being denied, probably something done on purpose just to injure him. He'd have things to say about that later. In lieu of it he moved forward placing himself between the redhead and the blonde as he moved into the room past his mother who closed the door behind them. "You should dress more appropriately, Edward Jain Blake...this isn't the time to go about with your bits hanging out."

"No no... you're right. Let me go back and find my pants... just wait here a little longer...mother." The last word was a mixture of sarcastic formality. She'd started it calling him his full name like that. You'd think she'd be a little more grateful and less critical, she might as well have asked if he was wearing clean underwear when he got into an accident. "This is Tahlia...she's... with me." He indicated the woman he was unable to make physical contact with. "This is Lumira, my mother...who's much nicer than she seems, just under a lot of stress I think." Despite the greeting he'd gotten, one that he really did understand it was just hard to accept easily, Eddie hugged Lumira like he hadn't seen her in he'd believed she was dead only to discover she wasn't.[/color]

Just Desserts / Re: Poisonous Fruit
« on: October 29, 2018, 09:11:25 PM »
It had taken a little effort to ensure that the limo's arrival at the Seaside high rise went unreported.  A little coin to convince the security guard to let them up silently.  But quiet was about to go out the door.  Large oak doors barely muffled the frantic rise and fall of nearly a dozen voices within, and Tahlia took a breath, waiting for the opportune moment.

"But we have to sign a contract!  With Adder gone, who knows what will happen to the last one?  We all signed in blood! Did anyone think to consult a demonologist? A lawyer?"  There were papers everywhere, and ten very panicked men, all with hair shading from grey to white, dressed like copies of each other.  There was an empty space at the end of the table, very clearly the late, unlamented Samuel Adder's seat.  In his absence, one Alfred R. Pennywhistle was trying to assert his authority.  "Gentlemen!  We must have a plan!  Who knows who might try to take over?"

As if rehearsed, the doors swung open, revealing a petite blonde in a fire engine red dress, perfectly coifed and put together.  Dressed to impress, as was the short, balding man behind and to her right, wearing a grey houndstooth with a bright pink trim and matching shirt.  The men might be forgiven if their eyes were drawn to her left, however.  Eddie might be the biggest thing any of them had ever seen.  

It's amazing how much support can be conveyed with a wink, and Tahlia had received two of them one each from both men. Eddie said little, at least he'd dressed up...although the tie didn't exactly go with the leather jacket he wore, he was rocking it. He wasn't here to talk, not unless there was no other choice in the matter, and then the things he would say would be neither businesslike nor politically correct. They would be much more...forceful is a good word, let's go with that. Fortunately the need to talk was taken from him almost immediately.

"Oh good, you're all here. I've got to tell you boys that I've been looking forward to this for at least the last several months." Saul took a deep nasally breath that was certainly meant to be heard by everyone. "Smell that gentlemen? That's opportunity, and it's just walked through the door. I've taken the liberty to prepare a few notes... call them... points of interest." A few notes, in Saul's world, ended up looking more like him opening his briefcase and handing thick folders to everyone seated at the table.

"Who the hell are you?" The voice came from the head of the table, its tone filled with importance and disdain. "And what are you doing here?"

"Saul Mortimer, and I'm bringing you the future! Now, put your bifocals on, open the packet and let's get started. You'll see that you've all received copies of this original document which hands over... upon the death of Samuel Adder... all rights to The Golden Bough, the trailing documents accede the same rights to a couple other interests. So, here we are... I give you The Future!" Saul moved closer to Tahlia and presented her quite flamboyantly. "Tahlia Faras. I know, it's a shocker isn't it?"

The object of his presentation stepped forward and gave Saul a kiss on the cheek.  "This is why I love you, Saul." Turning her attention to the slack jawed board, Tahlia smiled sweetly, those pale green eyes landing on each of them for a moment, as if she already knew them.  "Gentlemen, if I can use the term loosely, you'll find that Samuel saw fit to leave everything, and I do mean everything, to me.  I'll be implementing a number of changes, not to mention making arrangements to repair the recent damage to the Bough, and possible rebranding of Club Zenith.  Contracts will be reviewed, and renegotiated. Well...some of them will."

She hadn't moved, save for that single step.  "You have two choices.  Do what I tell you, or leave.  It's my way or nothing, and please don't make the mistake of assuming that you can fool me, or control me.  Samuel Adder thought the same.  And look where we all are now."

One of the mid-ranking members, a reedy man with salt and pepper hair, and the unfortunate luck to be named Aloysius Honeywell had been staring with consternation at the trio.  "By the two moons!  She's...she's Adder's latest...doxie!"  He said it like most people said much worse things. "You don't really think we'll let you take a seat at the table when you should be flat on your back on top of it!"

"Woah... Easy there big fella, there are ladies present!" Saul started talking, which was probably a good thing because it was what stopped Eddie as he moved. "Look, I understand you're pain. Miss Faras understands it too. Change is hard, sometimes harder than it's worth. So with that in mind we've put together severance packages tailored to each of you individually... minus a few of your less than above board expenditures. Alan Landry? You'll be happy to know that last night's 250 dollar rent a redhead on the company credit card isn't included... I already had the packages put together and didn't have time to redo just yours."

Pages ruffled in all their hands loud enough that it could have been a bindery. "Why is the balance on mine a negative number?" The question came from Mr. Honeywell, his tone gone from aggravation to perplexed.

"Why don't we ask your bank down in the Kaymans?" Saul was quick to interject. "This might be a good time to note for you that IT has frozen your access to company accounts, and our security boys are on standby to have you removed from the building. Miss Faras fully expects those funds to be returned... or she'll expect something of equal value. Do you have life insurance?" Saul paused for three whole seconds. "Nah... I'm kidding, we know you have life insurance. We know the benefactor, and we know how to make the burden of compensation fall on your surviving heirs."

The balding man in the audacious suit began to move back and forth across the boardroom, pulling the eyes and attention that was being cast angrily at Tahlia to himself. "You've all managed to make a lot of money for Mr. Adder. Did you have to go and sell your souls to do it? Miss Faras doesn't want your soul... she doesn't want your blood, and if we're all friendly there's no reason to believe that she will seek either. Miss Faras expects your loyalty, one hundred percent to her. There's a new hierarchy for you... it goes like this. Miss Faras... Work... God.. and if you have time, family. I know, I know... Saul, this is going to take some getting used to. You're right, but think about this. Why would Miss Faras ask you for a seat at the table she owns?" He nearly said something about if she wants to be flat on her back on top of it, they'll just have to figure out how to work around her. But he thought that might be too much.

There was only one man in the room she was likely to assume that position for, and he was a large enough presence that there was no working around the pair of them.  But none of that needed to be said.  One might assume that the men at that table had gotten where they were by being smart.  But they had, more often than not, eschewed smart, for conniving.  Which didn't come with as many perks.  It could, however, explain why dear Aloysius didn't let the matter go.  He did, after all seem to have little left to lose.  Rising from the table, his hands in fists, he stormed around the table, fingers uncurling just enough to jab a finger in Tahlia's direction.  "Why should we listen to some trumped up tart? If she had a brain in her head, she'd...well, she'd hardly do that."  He was on shaky ground, since every one of the men in the room had at least one mistress of their own, if not more...admitting they might be competent at business didn't bear thinking about.  "No-one will believe any of...of this]!  And we'll sue!"
"Oh, they will.  The papers are just the tip.  Although I've seen proof some of you haven't more than that.  Such naughty, naughty boys you've all been. Thinking money and privilege would protect you.  I might be a tart, but just think about all the things you've let slip to yours. And she's more than willing to talk...they all that they don't have to do those things you like so much." Tahlia didn't have to say them.  He knew.  They all knew their own sins.

Rage contorted those thin features, and Aloysius Honeywell crossed the short distance with a few strides of pinstripe clad legs.  That pointing hand shot out, and grabbed Tahlia by the throat.  It might turn out to be the stupidest thing he ever did.

There wasn't time for Aloysius to close his fingers before there was a much bigger hand on the man's throat. Eddie's expression changed for an instant to unbridled rage before he managed to pull back on the everythings well in any world that has Eddie Blake smile. It might have been because Aloysius' feet had left the floor, or it could have been the way Eddie carried him to the nearest window and used his head to send splintering cracks along its surface. "Babe... I think this is our window for letting this guy go!" The window was groaning its protests as Eddie pressed harder against it. He leaned in and started whispering to Aloysius quietly, the man's eyes grew wide. "Every inch... you got that?"

If either Tahlia or Saul were at all surprised, it didn't show, although the blonde took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment as her fingers twitched at her side.  A few too many bad memories, there.  "I think you're right, baby.  It's a shame, but I really can't risk having someone I can't trust around, can I?"  There was a pause, those wide peridot eyes meeting burnt sienna across the room, the tip of her tongue just visible against crimson lips for an instant before she gave the tiniest nod.  "I think it's time to let Mr. Honeywell go, don't you think, Eddie?"  

Eddie grinned wider at Tahlia's nod and shoved a little harder. It was enough to cause the window to break fully. "Maybe the company will do him one last favor and drop him off somewhere special?" He looked at Aloysius, and shook his head. "Relax... it's a joke, it's all a ****en joke. I'm just gonna show you the front door." He opened his hand and there was a long scream that ended abruptly. Eddie put his head out the window and looked down. "Missed it by that much." He turned on the rest of the board members. "Clearly the man was suicidal, anyone else feeling... uhm... depressed?"

There was a resounding silence in the wake of that scream.  After a suitable period, Tahlia calmly cleared her throat, one hand gesturing to the still prepared Saul.  "I'm glad to see you're all...on board, as it were."  Walking around the table, she took Adder's seat at the head, and nodded.  "Let's get started, shall we?"

Community Events / Re: Mid-Autumn Festival: A Golden Gala
« on: October 19, 2018, 08:02:20 PM »
Tahlia had left it to Eddie to arrange transportation, and her delighted laughter as it arrived might have been a hint that she'd expected nothing less.  It wasn't a traditional limo - but then, nothing about the couple inside seemed terribly traditional either.  As the sleek stretch muscle car pulled up, the doors swept upward, allowing the giant Selkie to exit first, and reach back for the petite blonde, dressed to the evening's theme in a sparkling gold gown, decorated with sprays of purple flowers on the bodice, and skirt.  Her hair was loosely twisted at the nape of her neck, but she'd left the jewelry home that night, letting the dress sparkle on its own.  It was her first outing as the new owner of the Golden Bough (currently under construction), as well as a few other properties and interests she'd "inherited" from Samuel Adder, and she'd wanted to make sure they made an impression. Rising on tiptoe, she brushed a kiss to Eddie's cheek - once again, he hadn't let her down.

Eddie had considered the stretch Escalade, he'd perused the elongated Humvee too. They're not bad ways to go if you're the ordinary upper class, or the extraordinary backwoods West Virginia hillbilly who struck it rich. He was pretty sure he was neither of those things. Fast and sleek, that was a fair description of Tahlia and himself though which order and for whom was up in the air. He had even for a moment thought about a stretch Smart car... because that certainly wasn't ordinary or vaguely trucklike. Problem was it was the size of a normal car, and if he was going to drive one of those it would be his own. This was a party, and not the kind you drive yourself to. The choice was obvious, because even them Dukes down Hazard way knew that American Muscle rocks.

He stepped out of the car decked out in a grey vested suit, with just the bit of purple doing its best to strangle him in the form of a tie. He had to keep stopping himself from touching his hair for fear of wrecking whatever they'd done to keep his bangs back. They'd offered to cut them, he'd offered to break important thing, they'd compromised. Eddie took Tahlia's hand to help her from the vehicle. He'd watched the other cars do the same thing, maybe it was expected? Sliding her hand to his elbow after her kiss he walked the gauntlet with Tahlia to the door, leaning in to speak so that only she could hear. "You're outfit seems to be missing something." He let her ponder the state of her dress for a few moments before taking her free hand and sliding a ring onto her finger. This was the gold gala... or some such thing, right? It was gold too... in keeping with the theme, though it had three sapphires on it, one emerald cut purple centered between two oval cuts outlined by diamonds.

"Missing somethi-" Her voice cut out as she felt the cool touch of metal around her finger - and tried not to gape up at him in the middle of the entrance.  For a moment, her arm stretched as she slowed, and Eddie kept going, only to quickstep to catch up to him.  Twisting her wrist, she looked at the glittering stones, and then up at the cockily smirking Selkie.  "We are so talking about this when we get home..."

"I'll talk about it right now." Eddie was more than happy to keep that grin on his face, and stop in the middle of everything. It wasn't like he was big enough to block the entire entrance. "But maybe you just listen to what's being asked, because the ring is the question and wearing it doesn't automatically mean yes or no. Not tonight at least, tomorrow...the next day...that'll be more telling."


Just Desserts / Re:
« on: October 18, 2018, 12:14:57 AM »
[size=18]Head Above Water[/size]

So pull me up from down below
'Cause I'm underneath the undertow
Come dry me off and hold me close
I need you now, I need you most
~ Avril Lavigne


The darkness never receded, it just lost that purple hue in favor of something more like a lightning bug glow. The opening to the portal was no longer visible, though if someone stood there long enough they might feel the hint of a breeze signifying that it was indeed still present and open. The sounds of a hammer still rang on, though its origin had shifted position and the timing of the blows was off by half a beat. Shelves stood in odd places within the new space, all of them laden with the bits and pieces that made up sea life. In stark contrast, there were a number of spaces which held iron bars and from the sound of the ringing that was the material being worked currently. The space between the strokes was filled with the sound of chanting, though the language was either dead or something far from common.

A large man stood over the anvil, his hand holding to a long handled hammer, he was burly but something in the greying shade of his skin spoke of age. From time to time his head would lift, attention drawn to the second figure in the room. His distraction with her didn't seem to hinder his ability to work any, a clear sign that he'd been doing this for a long time. The other, it was just as clear, had not. She was as obviously youthful as he was aging, his gaze held a certain fondness for the kneeling girl. Her attire was a long robe reminiscent of catholic nuns except that she wore no cover. Her hair hung in wavy lengths of cerulean and viridian highlights. A second sound broke the rhythm of the room, another bell coming at discordant measures to the smith's hammer. It was enough to draw the chanting woman out of her work.

"I have to go. I'll return to finish when I can." She rose to her feet, revealing a handful of weapons laid out on the floor, then crossed the room to place an almost chaste kiss on the smith's cheek.

"More meditating, Angelfish?" His tone was rimmed with disappointment, though the kiss did give him a bit of a smile.

"I only do what the mother wills." She raised the back of her robe, covering her head and glided from the room.

There was a sigh from the smith as he watched her go, head shaking. "At this rate I'll never get all these weapons blessed... kind of a strange time for meditation, it's barely past breakfast."

Tahlia stepped from the portal, automatically ducking behind a rack of weapons - some complete, some obviously in progress, watching the scene before her with sharp eyes.  She didn't know how visible, or not, she was like this, but it didn't hurt to be cautious.  She assumed that if Bo had been able to sense her in that god-forsaken torture dream, others might be able to as well.  

Blessed weapons...war had been a near constant reality, when she was young, and she remembered the priests offering blessings and absolution to the soldiers.  Still, it was a piece of information she would have to hold on to, glancing around the space as if to note details, but really just to see if there was anything distinctive.  She could feel a subtle tug, a direction,nothing more, but the warmth of it gave her no question as to who it was drawing her to.  Ducking down, she snuck along the wall until she gained the door, glancing back for a moment to make certain the smith was back at his work before she slipped through the doorway.  

Motion caught the smith's eyes, he got a glimpse of someone...something... retreating through the door. He balled up a fist and held it against his stomach, certain he knew what was happening. "The girl can't cook to save her life... got me seeing things. At least she's pretty."

There were more than a few hooded forms moving along the hallway, though the door to the smithy seemed to be the last one in this particular corridor. The light wasn't blinding, but it was certainly much brighter than the forge had been. The sound of the bell seemed to intone through very walls of the place, perhaps something in that smooth pearlescent finish acted to amplify the sound. They were lined with brighter versions of the glows that had been in the forge, here and there a tapestry hung. Most of these depicted a domineering woman as she appeared to be commanding the waters to do her bidding, or standing over sea creatures with a loving expression on her face.

The corridor bent inward, yet never seemed to rise. This was not a ramp but something that ran along the outer wall perhaps. The hooded women veered to the right through another doorway. There was another a little further down and to the left, here too was the hint of brimstone and something more. The hint of a whisper saying it would help to see it through.

Tahlia was certain the hooded figures would be more likely to notice her, so she bypassed the doorway on the right, smoothing one hand along the wall, and kept her eyes on the figures.  They looked like the ones from the cavern, only unarmed.  At least, visibly unarmed. One passed close by, and the blonde held her non-existent breath. There was a rush of forms, and she pressed into the wall, edging herself behind one of the tapestries, one depicting the Mother (she assumed) gazing down on her children with love.  It didn't seem to match the vibe of the hooded figures, or the buzz of war.  More likely the other...the one she could see hanging just across...who seemed...well, the angry god of the Old Testament she'd grown up with.  

Beyond the door a stairway rose, that it did not also descend was telling in a way that there was no further down to go.The scent, the sound both disappeared within that pristinely carved staircase. Whether they had been real, or simply tricks played by the mind once inside they slipped away. From here, there's only one way...up. They might be gone, but there were other things reaching out for Tahlia, one in particular really and if she had a doubt she'd find that the pull became stronger the closer to those steps she got. The steps were steep, and bent around two more times before stopping at a closed door. It, much like the walls, was slightly opaque, the stout hinges indicated that it swung inward, and perhaps that it was heavier than it looked. A window of sorts rested halfway between the top of the door and the handle. It wasn't like the ones she'd be familiar with. There were no seams, and the substance wasn't glass. It was designed to be there, a distinctive oval shape which seemed to have had the pearlescence drawn out of it.

She followed the pull, closing her eyes even though it didn't really do anything at all, and feeling her way along the smooth curve.  She nearly walked into the door, stopping just short, and blinking at it for a moment, still disoriented by being both present and somehow...not.  Rising up on tiptoe, she peered through the opening, scanning the other side for a hint of what was ahead of her.  Assuming she could get on the other side of the door.

Another corridor ran forward from the door. Here the walls had been siphoned of the milky tint as well, though what was beyond them was difficult to see. To the left everything was dark, like the sky at night when clouds covered the stars. To the right another wall was visible through the windows. The angle making it obvious that room on the opposite side was deeper than the floor, like they'd been put in place to observe something happening below.

There had to be some code, or sequence.  Leaning up and in, she tried to see what the other side of the door was like, if there was a key, or a lock...or something.  So focused on looking over - she nearly fell flat on her face when she went through the door, and stumbled a few feet down the corridor.  Glancing around, she was incredibly thankful Eddie hadn't been there to see that, or anyone else for that matter.  Turning, she reached to close the door behind her, only to realize that it had never opened.  Huh.  Maybe Kruger had been right about looking through things.

A panoramic view was offered through the window to the left. It was definitely outside, and yet even more confining. The darkness was unbroken from above, from far below rose a glow that pulsed in shades of crimson. It came from thousands of small, at least they appeared that way from here, shapes lining....the seabed like rows of rubies. If there were any doubt about this place being beneath the water it would be removed as a shape swam uncaringly past. It's coloring was bright, the kind of thing found in tropical waters... or fish tanks. The view to the right was less open, the windows looked down into vast central chambers. There were creatures swimming here too, less ornately colored and at least half their measure was humanoid. The first window revealed a nursery, dozens of forms small enough to be nothing other than infants which zipped back and forth within.

Each window looked down on a similar scene, though the creatures within were bigger, presumably older and progressively less innocent in nature. No longer were the caregivers a reasonable facsimile of land nannies. Now they were weapons instructors and the students the size of five year old children. The corridor sloped upwards, the chambers deepening as the children increased in size. They broadened out to accommodate the ever more aggressiveness of their training. Upon the walls were diagrams of different species from both land and sea. The final window looked down upon groups of young adults engaged in combat against each other under a massive banner reading. Flosh Klin Emo Cosain!

Tahlia could read the words, but not understand the language, save the one word.  Whatever the rest was, she suspected it wasn't good.  She continued along the path, pulled inexorably onward.  To say the scene below gave her goosebumps would be an understatement, or at least, it would have if she wasn't just...a projection.  Maybe an illusion.  She hadn't really had a chance to ask Kruger, not that she expected him to be any more forthcoming than his brother.  

Shaking her head at the thought, she kept moving.  She had to find Eddie - and then, then she wanted to get out of here.  

The corridor bent sharply to the right, the windows becoming the same clouded color that most of the place had been up to this point only to end at yet another massive tapestry. This one, like all the others had a maternal figure on it, though unlike the others it depicted her healing the injured. To the left was another set of stairs, whatever was happening to the right would be inaccessible. The pull was growing stronger, it came from the stairwell, and yet it wasn't strongest there. Its greater urging was to move forward.

Tahlia stayed alert, moving cautiously across the hall.  She still wasn't sure how visible she might be, or might not be.  Angling toward the steps, she slowed as the tug that was leading her didn't seem to follow.  Two steps toward the stairs, and it was at her side.  Turning, once than once more, she found herself facing the tapestry.  Closing her eyes, she spun, following the pull, only to end up exactly where she'd started.  It was drawing her to the tapestry.  The one showing the Mother caring for her children.  An infirmary? Was Eddie hurt? But...she couldn't see an opening, but then, did it matter? Just as she moved toward the wall, she saw it.  A shadow along an edge that was darker than it should have been.  The slightest movement. A sign. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the tapestry, hoping it wasn't a disaster.

Hidden behind the tapestry, a low tunnel swept away and upwards. There were signs that it was used often, the biggest being no dust on the floor. It was the perfect height for someone small, anyone too much over five feet tall would need to stoop to traverse it. The tunnel, like so many other things in the place was a worked spiral, though another opening existed in the wall not too far away from this one. The darkness in it said that it too was covered, quite possibly in the same way. As Tahlia worked her way upwards she would see there were many such openings, all of them hidden behind a curtain of thick woven cloth. Still, it's not always what's ahead that is the danger, but that which comes from behind. Glass shattered in her wake, the sound of porcelain hitting stone punctuated by a terrified shriek. "Mother protect me from Misery Woe!" The call was frail despite its volume, tremulous words from an aged throat.

"What is it Nianni?" A second voice full of authority asked.

"A spirit, sister, the dark one... the destroyer roams our halls this day!" The presence of the other woman had done nothing to pull the panic from Nianni's voice.

"Calm yourself you old fool, your eyes are old and are playing tricks on your mind. There's no way the destroyer could pass through our hallowed halls. Where is your faith?" The stern voice began to reprimand the old woman, but even that died away as another sound carried through the tunnel. "Get someplace safe, Nianni...maybe you did see something after all."

"You see! I said what I saw... she's here to consume the blood of our children!"

The crash of glass pulled the tiny blonde up short, staring at the crone in surprise.  That name again.  She wasn't sure where to go - at least the older sister didn't seem to be taken seriously.  Making her way along the corridor, the blast of a horn sent her hiding behind a nearby tapestry.  Maybe in wasn't her the old one had seen...or perhaps she'd tripped a wire, or some kind of alarm.  In between the lowing bursts of sound, she could hear footsteps.  Too quick and sure to be Nianni, it had to be the other one. For the moment, Tahlia needed to play it safe.  Besides...there was something familiar about the rhythm of the tones...

There were a lot of voices now and footfalls to match the quantity. They remained outside of the tunnel, almost as though they didn't know this accessway existed or surely they'd have been inside. "Livyatan..." was said by more than one voice though another was asking where it had come from. The steps behind were closing and ahead there seemed to be nothing less than filled chambers and corridors.

"Here it comes!" Boom, the impact could be felt as well as heard, the entire complex shook under the impact of something that had to be massive. Ahead and behind the footfalls became the sound of bodies hitting the floor. The tapestry behind which she was hidden also shook, though it was with the impact of a body against the other side of it.

Tahlia ducked, looking up at the cracks spiderwebbing across the ceiling...the opalescence of the walls shimmering with the impact.  A single word breathed out - a name she uttered often, and with every ounce of hushed joy she could manage.  He always did know how to make an entrance.  Ducking out from behind the tapestry, she looked out over the room below, then up, squinting in the sudden shadows.  Ghostly lips pulled into a smile, realizing that it wasn't clouds, but a whale the size of a battleship blotting out the light...surrounded by alarms and chaos, the blonde stood still, waiting.

Large sections of the ceiling collapsed inward towards Tahlia to shatter as they impacted the floor. Some did more than simply become bits of thick shell scattered across the corridor, pinning Mer unfortunate enough to have lost their footing completely. There were still plenty stirring to life, their progress marked by the scuffing of weapons on the floor and the tinkling of shifting detritus as bits and pieces slipped noisily from the slowly rising forms. The hornblower had stopped, likely as out of sorts as those in the space beyond the tapestry, though the bell still tolled. It rang out a couple of times before being followed by a voice from above.

"Ding Dong... Avon Calling! I got just what your faces need!" Another impact, this one significantly smaller than the previous. It likely didn't register on the richter scale at all, the poor sap that felt the full weight of one Eddie Blake, he only had a moment to really get a feel for what just happened. What followed were the sounds of some kind of blunt object making contact with some almost solid objects, if a little hollow or squishy.[/color]

Just Desserts / Re:
« on: October 08, 2018, 09:56:52 PM »

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaking?
But, you see it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your head
They are fighting
~ Bad Wolves

There was no-one in Seaside who was unaware of the sudden change in the shore, and more than a few who could look down on the carnage from their windows.  The Watch could close access from land, and sea, but the air was clear, even if the setting sun could trick the eye into forgetting why the water was that shade of red.  Of those, only one, perhaps, had reason to remain glued to the sight. Up on the deck of her penthouse, Tahlia had been watching since she'd first caught sight of the fins in the water, since the first pieces had hit the shore, and the water had started to change.  So much blood could hardly fail to escape her notice.  But that wasn't why she'd sat for hours, leaving only briefly for bourbon and a stuffed seal before taking up position in a chair that had perhaps been placed there just to let the little blonde watch the beach.  

Tahlia wasn't sure why she kept vigil - there didn't seem to be any schedule to Lula's delivery runs, and Eddie would be stuck on the island for ages still - confined for training. But something held her there, the bourbon disappearing as the water went from tinged to saturated, crimson waves staining the sand and leaving body after body in their wake.  From here, she couldn't see details, but she knew, at least, none of them were a leopard seal larger than any had a right to be.  They weren't her seal.  Somehow, she knew that she would know if he was there among the dead.  She could just hear the news, left on inside the open doorway, but she didn't look back.  Blood had no horror for her, but she didn't need to see any closer, and she wouldn't recognize anyone but Eddie in their changed form anyway.  She just sat, plush toy held to her chest, the glass of bourbon rising periodically to her lips.  

She stayed that way as the sky darkened, and the glass made fewer trips.  Stayed as the seal slid to her lap, one hand resting on it's fake fur, and not nearly as soft or warm as what it stood in for.  Without her realizing it, her eyes closed, and her body shifted, until she was curled on the cushions, one arm curled around her safety plush, and the other tucked under her head.  

Maybe it was a little further than he remembered, or perhaps he had lost a step somewhere along the way. It took him longer to make that walk than he thought it should have. Horns sounded as they passed him by, not that Eddie blamed them. He looked like some homeless vagabond and this was not a place such things were tolerated lightly. He barely paid attention to them, it would have gone badly had someone actually stopped rather than honk and drive. He entered through the parking garage, the place had a pretty strict no shoes no shirt policy and he wasn't wearing either. The length of cord around his neck held a disk shaped medallion, the slap of it against his chest offered strange comfort. The elevator didn't stop on its journey up to the highest reaches of the building to let any other passengers into the car. Small favors, Eddie didn't really want to see just anyone.

He slid the key into the lock, wondering for a moment if he'd find himself interrupting anything. A moment's hesitation revealed nothing to his ears. Had there been anything, he was sure he'd have pulled the key back out and gone...somewhere. A deep breath was taken and held as he turned the key and then the knob. Things hadn't changed much, most of the smells were familiar, even comfortable. He could already tell where she was, Tahlia had left the door open to the balcony. A lot of scents came from that direction, hers was clear and close. Eddie moved with a lightness that someone his size shouldn't be able to achieve, across the room and back outside. There was in him an urge to wake her, that kind of thing never really went away. Instead, he pulled a chair around to face hers and settled into it, content for now to simply watch her slumber.

Anyone who didn't know her might comment on how angelic she looked, blonde hair coiled between hair and arm, and those wide green eyes hidden by lid and lash. Delicate features were bathed in the last fading rays of the sun, although most of her was hidden beneath an oversized t-shirt that might still smell vaguely like the man watching over her, and a pair of yoga pants. She hadn't expected to fall asleep, and the tight curl of her form relaxed as the breeze stopped bringing goosebumps to her arms.  

For a few minutes, it seemed she would just keep sleeping, although a smile touched her lips, and she snuggled the stuffed seal closer.  Those stunning eyes stayed closed, but her head turned, just a touch, and the smile widened, her free hand smoothing over the cushions and toward him, reaching, as a single words purred from her lips.  "...Puddin..."

Eddie knew what was expected of him, he'd already formed words around something cocky to say. Should I be jealous? It was foreseen perhaps, but that wasn't why he didn't say the words or put on the knowing half smile. Too many other words flowed through his head, the interim between his arrival and her awakening had been miniscule, but how much time did thought really take? Not much if you're the kind of person who always has a response.This time he didn't. He had no words, none which belonged to him at least. He heard Owain's last jest at his friend. It's okay for a stone face like her to laugh sometimes too. The kid wasn't wrong, the girl fooled fewer people than she realized hiding behind petulance and stoicism. They were the same in that way except that Eddie had learned to rely on quick wit and a big mouth. It amounted to the same thing though, didn't it? The voice of his brother was in there too, something said months ago when the weather was still cold. You don't know what sacrifice is. Yet. Had he known, or simply guessed that everyone would come to such a realization? That question would wait long for an answer, if it ever received one at all.

Would you still say that I wonder? Veiling things was easier than trusting, it certainly hurt less...except when it didn't of course. It kept the bad at bay, a man could be happy that way. He just could never be close, never be understood, and any comforting would have to come from within. That worked just fine, so long as there was some inside to draw from.When there wasn't, you just...

Eddie slid out of his chair, sank to his knees burying his head into Tahlia's middle and began to sob uncontrollably.

That woke her with a start. The scent of him had merely infiltrated her dreams, the solid weight of his head against her ribs was an entirely different matter.  Before she was fully conscious, she shifted enough to wrap her arms around his head, her joy at having him back buried for the moment.  "Eddie...?"  Her hands slid against bare skin, and her surprise turned to concern.  "Eddie...where's your jacket?  Are you ok?"  Sneaky little thing that she was, she brought her legs down, and squirmed to sit up without losing her grip on him, or dislodging his head from her middle.  

Bending her head to his, she breathed him in, closing her eyes and letting her hands roam, those indefinable senses of hers holding their breath for any hint of blood.  

"They're dead, baby... they're all dead." Eddie's voice was muted by his current position, not that it would have been easy to understand him in this state anyway. She was worried, about him physically and otherwise. That much was obvious by the questions she asked. He wanted to reassure her, but he wasn't really okay. He was in one piece to be sure, having proven once again that the moniker Fast Eddie meant more than what people believed when he said it. He did the one thing he knew would help, transforming the pants he'd worn back into the trademark jacket right beneath her probing hands.

"It isn't right... one thing to kill a man or a woman. All you do is break the past, but to kill children, they've stolen the future." That had been the intention all along, and he hated them for it. There were just too many of them for him to take by himself. Two at a time, maybe three though that would be pushing it even for him. He did only have two eyes after all. It had happened too quickly, he'd been too far away. They'd all been too far away, expecting things to go differently, believing that the size of the Whalekin to be its own deterrent. They'd misjudged the malice, the alliance with the Rokea, and the ferocity of the attack when it had come. They'd believed differently...he had, and now that it was done the real ache was taking hold of him. He looked up his vision blurring the form of Tahlia, but he knew where her eyes were even if he couldn't see if they were judging him.

The pale green eyes that met his held no judgment, just a slight shimmer of relieved tears.  He was, at least physically, unharmed, and for a moment, that was the only thing that held her focus.  One hand left his shoulders, and cupped his jaw, her thumb smoothing away his tears, or at least the ones that already soaked his cheeks.  "Lula?" She'd grown almost grudgingly fond of the young selkie, and suspected she wasn't the only one. "You did all you could. I couldn't see everything, but I could count fins.  There were so many... you couldn't take them all by yourself, baby... how could you?"

Just one of the Rokea had been enough to nearly cow her, only her faith in Eddie had allowed her to hold her ground. Right now, he needed her to hold him, and remind him who he was.  Bending over him, she touched her forehead to his, just at the spot where Nim had placed the mark, and closed her eyes.  "But you're not alone.  I promised, remember? I'm right here..."

"She was fine when we separated, I wouldn't let her follow through that. Sent her in dockside." She might be making her way there, but somehow Eddie suspected she had a stop of her own to make first. "A lot more aren' least one is going to break her heart I think, despite how much she said he annoyed her." Eddie closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It would be a simple thing to give in again, not that he was opposed to simple of course it was better not to this time. "Maybe I couldn't, I did nothing. I didn't have time to try, not with so many stranded." It was bravado, not entirely false, he knew his limits he just refused to accept them most times.

He reached for her pack of smokes and stole one, lighting it with the lighter sitting next to the pack. "I know you're here for me. But this'll get worse before it gets better. Assuming that voices of reason don't manage to sway opinions." He drew down on the cigarette, exhaling a cloud of bluish smoke into the air. "They managed to drive a wedge between us out there. I can't...couldn't... " Eddie shook his head trying to dislodge the memory of what went on beneath the waves. "The fastest of us went to warn the others... except me, I came here." He said it like it meant something important.

"They were focused on the beach...our beach.  I didn't see any peel off, and the news would have mentioned...anything in Dockside."  The little blonde took a deep breath, sliding a cigarette from the same place, and lighting it. "She'll make it.  She has to."  Tahlia couldn't say where the certainty came from, just that she knew it, bone deep, the same way she knew Eddie would always come for her.  Letting the smoke twist from her lungs, she stared out over the water for a moment, the hand on his cheek not leaving, keeping contact as if to reassure herself that he was really here.  

"Do you know how many deaths I've seen, Eddie?  How many I've caused, one way or the other?  I don't...I lost count. Or never bothered to.  But I've never killed children.  No one protected us, after my mother died.  At least you tried. As for them..."  She could guess who they were, even with the separation.  "We beat them at the temple.  We'll beat them again.  I don't...I don't know why they think I'm the stuff of nightmares, and I know Nim thinks I'm just bound jezebel who caught your eye." This time, she leaned in, and kissed him lightly before letting out a deep breath.  "You know what I can do, we show them.  If they want Misery Woe...they'll get her."

"She'll make it, hard to get close to the little banshee." He might have been referring to the sounds she made when he held things out of reach. Eddie shook his head, though he knew her question was rhetorical. It didn't really matter how many, or how long she'd been doing it. "I don't care what everyone thinks. I care about you." He held his smoke aside and drew her in for a long hard kiss.

Just Desserts / Re: Poisonous Fruit
« on: September 24, 2018, 10:29:55 PM »
September 15, 2018

Reggie had been here before, more than once truth to be told. It wasn't always business of course. Sometimes it was just because. Today was supposed to be business, and that meant lugging the backpack loaded with gear. That might sound okay from the point of view of the uninitiated. For him it meant a long walk across town with upwards of thirty pounds of equipment stuffed into a pack designed for half that. He wouldn't mind, except that it was the company that mattered... and the fact that he was sweating like a grunter in the noonday sun. This was a posh place, and honestly he hated to come here reeking of sweat. He was here though, and the air conditioned lobby had helped to at least dry his skin. The hair was another story, though at least he could push it back from his eyes and be relatively confident that it would stay there for a while. Maybe he shouldn't have worn the leather jacket? Reggie shook his head, chastising himself. Eddie always wore one, Reggie could endure for a little while, right? The nice part about being who he was...people tended not to notice him so making it to the elevator was not a problem. It was simpler than hacking the controls to get the car to move upwards into penthouse land, not that this was difficult either, really. Still maybe his ringing of the doorbell would come as a shock to the person that dwelt beyond? Reggie was full of wishful thinking lately.

Tahlia opened the door, dressed in a pair of yoga pants, and an oversized t-shirt knotted at her waist. Blonde hair was drawn up in a ponytail, and if she was wearing makeup, it wasn't immediately obvious. The fact that Reg had been getting...well, more like Eddie...hadn't escaped her. She hadn't mentioned it to the original, to be honest, she'd been too overjoyed at getting word to think of it. Smiling, she waved him inside, and turned to saunter in to the kitchen. "Go ahead and get yourself set up - I'll grab drinks. You sneak in, or break fingers?"

"My fingers are all intact." He makes a show of holding them up so Tahlia can see them. "Do you have a lot of problems with fingers breaking? It's probably the card reader, or maybe the tension on the floor buttons. I might be able to fix that for you." Self consciously he slid his hands into his pockets and stepped further inside. "I was hoping to see..." Reggie stopped talking, the other obviously wasn't here and he didn't know what to make of that. He shuffled his way over to the couch and unbound his shoulders from the heavy pack. "So...your call seemed urgent."

"Not yours...someone else's. It's...been a slight concern, lately. Hopefully just a one time thing..." She looked out at the ocean, and shook her head. "He's still away. Business. know how he is. He'll be back. Right? You said he always comes back...or Saul did." She might be holding on to that assurance more than she let on. "Huh? Oh, yeah. I' myself in a little over my head, Pop Tart...I could really use your help..."
Reggie peered at Tahlia, eyebrows lowering. "Business? How long has it been?" He started to unpack his things, mostly a slew of *borrowed* laptops and a few other things that would plug and play as he required. "Gimme a minute to recharge and we can get down to work. His familiarity with the place would have become obvious once Reggie made his way through the sitting room, and the door leading to the kitchen. "HEY! Who ate all my pop tarts?!" He'd have sworn there was still an entire box up there the last time he'd been by. Sure it had been a while, but seriously Tahlia didn't eat Pop Tarts... like ever.

"She ate the Pop Tarts? Seriously?" A laugh burst from her lips, gone a moment later. "A little over a month. It feels...longer." She'd seen him more recently, of course, but they'd kept word of her attack under wraps. "Yeah...go know your way around. Let me see if there's still that box hidden...." Tahlia ducked down, bending to check a bottom cabinet. There was some rummaging and then...."Ha! Found 'em. Strawberry..." Backing out from the cabinet, she held out the box like a prize.

"Hey, I take care of you...don't I?" She waved him off, grabbing a plate, and sticking the barely-food items into the toaster.

Reggie took the box like she was handing out hundred dollar bills, that poor lid never had a chance. "A month?" It'd been longer for him, but that wasn't unusual really. "That surprises me. He's usually so..." Whatever else Reggie had to say was muffled by the mouthful of pop tart that he'd taken. He didn't linger in the kitchen, too many memories and he wasn't altogether sure what surfaces were actually not...used. He was back in the living room, opening laptops and and holding the fake danish between his teeth. "So, what exactly did you need from me?" He'd obviously been paid in advance.

"So...what?" She was honestly curious. Reggie seemed to know the secretive Selkie better than anyone - Tahlia was nearly certain better than she did, some days. "I need you to backdoor into the Golden Bough. You've heard about the kids that have been going missing...?" She was certain he had, but it was an good an introduction as any. And she genuinely wasn't sure how he'd react to how she was getting the information...

"Wait, who ate them?" It had just registered that Tahlia had said, she.

"The same person who broke the desk clerk's fingers. She' back." She hoped so, anyway.

"Uhm... So Eddie." Reggie planted his elbow and pinched the bridge of his nose, he had a big mouth. "The Gambling place?" A complex strand of cables came out of the backpack, the ends meticulously plugged in from one computer to the next, though he failed to explain any of the 'why' of it. "Sure i've heard of the abducshuns. Everyone on my block has." And a few others probably, but honestly nobody wanted Reggie...not like that anyway. "You looking to do a little illegal betting? I got this great worm that'll give you the down card for any online dealer."

"He's always that. Even...when he isn't here." The black pearl was just visible under the knot of her shirt, and there was a subtle brush of fingers across it. "Yeah, the gambling place. And no...I'm not looking to bet. I...have an open line of credit." It was one way to put it. "Yeah...the thing is...I need their network decoded. For information." Setting down a glass of soda, she took her bourbon, and flopped onto the

"What kind of information?" He pressed the power buttons on the other laptops filling the air with the sound of overworking fans. The odd thing was that all of the information ticked up on the central screen, the others remained dark. "I mean, it matters because... Boom!..." the screen on the left flared to life with the Golden Bough's website. "...because it'll help me know the 'where' to look." The screen on the right came alive then, scrolling code faster than the eye could pick out symbols. Reggie shifted his hands to that keyboard and typed in a string of letters numbers and symbols. The screen flashed the word Denied over and over again. "Gonna be a little bit while the locksmith works." He sat back, finally looking away from the screens to Tahlia, he chewed his lip even though his hand still held the remnants of a pop tart. "He'll be back, he always comes back." Whether that was to reassure her or him was harder to figure out. "She'll have to break more than my fingers if she wants my staples...whoever she is."

"Everything? I don't...really know. They got someone they shouldn't have. And I know she's...well, she's there. Somewhere." Tahlia ran her hand through her ponytail, and sighed. "But I can't just go looking for her. I need to be able to get the information to someone else. I can't do anything with it. Not and stay useful." Not to mention safe. Her hand slid to her throat, and she took a large swallow of bourbon. "It can't trace back, and I know you know how to do that." There was a moment of silence, and she just...nodded. "I know. I just...wish he was already. And I wouldn't say that to her. She might."

"Everything?" He shoved the last of the pop tart into his mouth and focused on the screen that was still denying him access. "Admin level access..." He nodded to himself twice before stopping the scroll and adding in a few more lines of code. "I wouldn't worry about the backtrack. That device right there is an IP shuffler. It grabs your address, and randomizes the numbers that get displayed. Right now the site thinks were on an entirely different continent.  You're not the only one that misses him, but think of it this way. If he was here, there wouldn't be any stealthy stuff happening. Pretty much kick in the door and blaze away." If there was anything Reggie knew it was that while Eddie could do subtle, he liked to wake up the neighborhood. "You don't have to worry about me. Nobody wants to have much to do with me one way or another." There were those who knew what he could do of course, but Reggie doubted that any of them would give him a second look if he didn't have these particular skills. He reached for the soda and took a sip. "Not that I blame em."

"He didn't kick in doors in Westport..." She knew Reggie was right, though. Eddie wouldn't be thrilled about her putting herself in the kind of danger she was, especially after the vampire attack. She wasn't going to mention was over, and she was...relatively safe. Except from Adder himself. " know that isn't true. I know you've been busy. And I'm sure Eddie wouldn't mind if you took the Runner out...I can hardly drive it, and you know the engine doesn't like to sit too long..." She was trying to coax him...lure him out. She was worried about him. "And you can always come hang out here. There's the hot tub."

"Tch..." Reggie did his best to keep his face expressionless, though he did like to drive the big purple car. His effort was rewarded when the central screen popped to life again. "You know I don't mean you and Eddie. I just mean there ain't no real benefit in bothering with me.I don't mind really, kinda chose it for myself." He did nod though at Tahlia's reference to Westport. "He can be a calculating cuss. I think he prefers action though. "I'm in, but somehow I doubt that we'll find what you're looking for through the normal CCtv cameras." Reggie still pulled up the video feeds, they were showing on that left hand screen. On the center he scrolled through the files, clicking on the one for room service. "We might find her easier by looking at what rooms are ordering...and how often. Correlate that with rooms that have had the same occupancy long has this person been missing?"

"I'm not sure...the message I got wasn't exactly...coherent. Can you just...I don't know, shrink the files? Wait...can you get into Adder's files?" It was a dangerous suggestion, but if anyone would have all the answers, he would. "There's a computer in his office, but it's probably encrypted heavily." She knew how much he loved the car. "You know you're worth more than some random street kid. And I know he does...not exactly much for words. But that's ok." They were bouncing between topics...mostly because Tahlia was trying to stay on topic and not about Eddie. "Can you just...grab all the files? And maybe compress them on something like...a sim card?" She was thinking of information exchange, and keeping herself, and Reggie, protected. At least Eddie was safely away.

Reggie stared at Tahlia like she had two heads, and both of them were scowling at him. It wasn't her fault he supposed, sometimes it was like they were speaking entirely different languages. "I can get in, though I'll have to get through his firewall and any encryptions he might have. When Blowfish came out I put my pin prick code together. When Twofish happened I came up with double hook. Now I try to stay ahead of the curve." Reggie laced his fingers, extended his palms outwards until the knuckles in his hands popped before raising them over his head, stretching until his shoulders and spine popped. Only then did he release them, arcing them down to the side and bringing them back together as prayer hands in front of him as he exhaled. "This is where my kung fu is best." He grinned broadly at Tahlia, called up an input box and simply typed. Initiate Program/S'Mores.exe.

Tahlia just - blinked.  Several times in succession, slow controlled bats of those wide green eyes.  She hadn't the foggiest idea what he was talking about, but assumed from the sudden zen master moment that he had a plan.  Grinning back, she leaned over and kissed his temple.  "That's my Reg.  This is why I only ever call you, Pop Tart.  You never let me down."  Eddie didn't either, but calling him right now wouldn't do either of them any good.  "Don't worry about interpreting you..."  

The little blonde took a breath, and tried to translate what she had in her head.  "Can we like, zip the info on one, and put a... magnifying glass on another?  I don't need to see the information, I just have to get it to someone.  If they're's like the zip drives.  From the Gala."  She still had those, stashed in places only she knew about.  "That way they're only useful if you have both pieces."  They might speak different languages, but so far, the kid had never not been able to translate her, or Eddie for that matter.  She was pretty sure it was at least a little because he never wanted to tell either of them no.

"I can do a lot of things, frag out the data between sim cards so that you'd need both to have anything. I could arrange for a sign, countersign application to verify that the cards in question are not fakes or copies. I could arrange for a black box system, one that will keep the cards active and download anytime this Adder guy saves anything. I can't make it all visible on a card though, because storage capacity is exceeded by the amount of information." He wasn't sure what she needed, and unfortunately no amount of kisses would change the laws of physics. "Leaving this program in place isn't an option so, if you want something viewable, you'll have to pick what it is." He wanted another pop tart, but taking one before business was complete was a little like asking for both halves of a payment upfront.

"No..something they've got to put on a computer is best."  Tahlia closed her eyes, trying to think this through.  This was when she missed Eddie the most.  He was more familiar with all of this then she was, even if it wasn't by much.  Her plays had always depended on a fairly basic formula, that didn't require the level of technology Reggie and Eddie seemed to take for granted.  "Can we do the countersign they need to upload both to get the information?  Does that...does that make sense?"  There was a subtle snap from the kitchen, the toaster finishing its work.  The truth was she was just glad for the company. Toaster pastry was a small price to pay, and there'd likely be some cash in it as well.

Reggie unzipped the front pocket of his backpack and a black box about the size of his palm. Next came a USB cable and a pair of micro cards. He plugged the cable into his computer then into the box before pushing the cards into place. A pair of LED's on the face of the box lit up as he locked the cards into place. "You'll need this too, in order to get the data back together." He dragged and dropped the contents of Adder's hard drive into the window that popped up, the fans of all three computers started working overtime. "I didn't use identical cards, because you'd need to mark them so you know which goes into slot A and which into B. You'll have to remember the difference. The way this works is A gets the sign, B gets the counter. It's randomized but they'll only recognize each other. I could make a copy of either but they'd fail that initial handshake even though all the other data is the same."

He looked up as the toaster sounded, eyes going to the kitchen. "Sounds like they're playing my song in there." He'd have beamed at the comment once, he was much too cool for that kind of thing now. Cool and absolutely serious! Someone had to be, right?

It looked better on him than it had, once upon a time.  But she knew in there somewhere was the kid who had eaten licorice pipes in her bathroom, and flushed when she and Eddie got lost in each other.  He just seemed to feel like he had to fill those shoes while the big man was away.  "Sounds like it...I think I might have extra icing from the box of apple cinnamon...if you want it."  Rising from the couch, she rumpled his hair, and sauntered off to the kitchen.  She understood - why else was she wearing one of Eddie's shirts?  She'd saved the last voicemail he'd left her too, just to hear his voice.  Dropping the Pop Tarts onto a plate, she grabbed the extra icing, just in case.  

Once the download was complete Reggie disconnected the cable from the computer. "You sure extra icing isn't just for kids?" He hadn't felt much like a kid lately, he wouldn't admit it to anyone either, but he hadn't felt much like a person. That didn't stop him from covering his tracks with the thing that made S'Mores best, melty gooey marshmallow. "Today, everyone's a winner." In his estimation there were two ways to cover his infiltration into the casino's servers. Perhaps it would have been smarter to leave no traces, but the rest of him wanted it to be seen as something else. He wouldn't see it happen, but he knew that as soon as he'd disengaged the coin machines would start paying out at twice their normal rate. They'd know they'd been hacked, but it would look like that was the intention all along.

[size=9](written with Reggie's player, with much thanks) [/size]

Just Desserts / Re: Escargot Mail
« on: September 19, 2018, 11:56:44 PM »
This time, Tahlia was prepared.  Opening the door, she waited until Tallulah was inside, and closed the door behind her.  Trying not to look like the contents of that letter were as precious as they were, she nodded toward the kitchen. "The boxes on the counter are all yours,  I had them send up a variety.  I don't think they'll survive the trip back.  Just don't touch the ones on the shelf - their namesake gets cranky if someone messes with his stash."  

The end of the sentence was nearly swallowed under the sounds of tearing cardboard and cellophane.  Smirking to herself, Tahlia disappeared to her bedroom to read and reply, leaving Miss Personality to her burgeoning sugar addiction.  

Tallulah was too busy sampling to reply, she had a pastry in each hand, and was alternating back and forth, crumbs peppering the floor.  Manners didn't matter much, in the ocean.  Not with food, there were other things where it did. But landbound?  She didn't owe the blonde cow anything at all.  Even if she was providing the sullen (never petulant) teen with sweets, and an excuse to explore more reasons why life in the Mother's embrace was infinitely better.  


Pop Tarts. She's doing this for pop tarts, and Reg nearly had a fit cause she found his stash.  Not that he was here when she was.  He's been around though...I think he'll take care of the car.  I can't get behind the wheel without thinking of that night in Yasuo City, and having to pull over.  

Kid's doing ok, he's been helping me with a job, and he's...trying to be more like you every day.  And I miss you.  I spoke to Saul for a few minutes the other day, he's his usual bright and obnoxious self.  And I miss you.  Haven't seen Doc, and don't plan to.  And I miss you.  Tanya's in the hospital, she got hit by a blast of magic but she'll be ok.  And I miss you.  You might have used a big M, but I think you get my point.  And I miss you.  More than words.

I can't stop staring at the ocean.  I know there's still weeks yet, probably, before you come home, baby, but I can't help looking to see if you're walking up the beach.  Especially now.  I got a little lecture about how everything could have gone wrong - what they could have done if Mal hadn't gotten my blood back to me.  I never think of magic first...I'm still not used to it, I guess.  I wish you were here, Puddin.  I'm alone, and I'm scared...I want to curl up in your arms, against your chest, and just for a while.  I wish I could have been on that beach, and you're right, I wouldn't care at all about how much of a commotion we caused.  Maybe they'll learn something.  

I'm sitting on the patio, with the fireplace lit, staring out over the water and wishing I could see you.  That's been most of my day, my week, just about every minute I'm not working, that's what I do.  I miss you.  And I xxxx you.  Every minute, every day. Even when I'm working.  You're my puddin, my sexy Selkie, my Eddie. And no matter what else, I'm -


Just Desserts / Re: Poisonous Fruit
« on: September 19, 2018, 08:47:22 PM »
The Panamera slid into its spot, the engine silent for a moment before the door opened, and a tiny blonde slipped out, leaning against the body of the car for a moment before heading to the elevator.  Loose waves fell over one eye, hiding bruises already starting to yellow, running along her cheekbone and up to her temple.  An oversized shirt was knotted at her waist, over leather shorts, and knee high boots that looked worse for wear, as did the tote she held carefully on one shoulder.  She looked better than she had the night before, but there was no denying she'd been in a fight.  

Tahlia leaned against the wall of the lift, and tried not to breathe too deeply.  Her ribs were still sore, but the sharp stab was gone, and the livid bruise was the same mottled chartreuse that marked her face. The soft chime had her straightening, slow steps taking her through the doors and toward the penthouse she'd called home for most of the last year.  One hand reached for the door, the other rose to pull a length of hair over the puncture marks still disturbingly visible against the line of her throat.  She just had to make it a few more feet, and then she could finally feel safe.

Heels clicking against the floor, she closed the door behind her, and looked around the apartment, bottom lip caught between her teeth.  "Puddin?"

There were a lot of states which Tahlia had found him in, though none were as funny as the time she came home to a full sized seal playing in the bathtub. No chance of that this time, his jacket hung from a doorknob looking exceedingly ordinary. There was no return call from him, though if she wanted to find him she only needed to listen for the occasional tone from his phone. That or follow the scent of freshly brewed coffee. Eddie was just there, in the kitchen leaning hard against the open refrigerator door, the jeans he wore showing all his best attributes. His back was to the door, and much like his feet it was bare of any kind of covering. His head was down and unless she looked at the right angle would appear to be gazing into the depths of the cold storage appliance. A slight adjustment would tell a different tale, hand holding his phone and eyes looking at the screen. It was slid into the back pocket when he realized that he was no longer alone, which only made it more noticeable when the thing chirruped from there.

"Sit. I'll get you something." What was going to be the question, he hadn't decided for himself yet. "Maybe breakfast, since you missed it earlier." Eddie squatted down and reached inside, the words deciding for him. When he appeared again it was with a handful of eggs, the milk and a bowl full of cut greens. Obviously someone had been busy, which could only mean one thing though maybe she hadn't figured this side of him out yet. "You talk, I'll cook."

Tahlia slid onto one of the stools, arms folded on the island, and her head falling forward to watch him move from beneath the curtain of her hair. The shower had taken care of the blood, and some of the aches from her muscles, but not the urge to be curled up against his chest until she forgot the rest of the world existed.  Some voice of reason reminded her that she hadn't eaten since sometime the day before, and that her body was going to need all the fuel it could get to heal.  So she leaned on her forearms, and didn't pounce him while he was feeding her.

"I left the Hold, headed to the car...and this guy came out of the shadows.  I figured he was just looking to make a grab for the bag.  Or me.  Turns out it was me." Pale green eyes flicked up, focusing on the play of muscles before sliding to the slice of pie inked into his arm.  "He didn't - I got a hand on my knives.  But he kept coming. He shoved me into the wall, took a shot at my face.  I - I thought he felt like he was trying to choke me with his teeth.  I didn't know." For some reason, it was important to her that he know she hadn't had all the information at first.  Slowly, she pulled the hair back from her neck, drawing it over the opposite shoulder.  "Vampire.  He - I didn't know.  Not til after.  Just figured he was your usual low-life, shoved a silver dagger in his shoulder, and made him bleed."  Her fingers traced a slow curve on the counter.  "He kicked me before he took off."

The beating of the eggs in the bowl became more vigorous as Tahlia talked, nothing to be alarmed about, they were obviously being very stubborn eggs. "What did he look like?" He looked up from his work for a moment and took in the bite on her neck and almost gently, if you count the way it thwacked as gentle, added butter to the pan heating on the stove. "You didn't have to stay there, I'd have come to get you." Eddie wasn't grinding his teeth, his jaw always looked that way. He took to tilting the pan, working to melt the lump in its center before pouring in the eggs he'd given such tender treatment to a moment before.

It was likely too late now, any viable scents would be overwhelmed by every other repugnant creature in the area. Last night, that would have been a different story. "Would have given you a ride to get your car too." He was working the edges of the omelette inward, letting the uncooked portions find the heat of the pan, funny how closely it resembled stabbing something repeatedly. All chefs looked like that though, right?

"You were working.  I didn't...I just figured the guy was looking to take what no-one was offering.  I got sick. In the alley.  Conner was half a block away.  I didn't know if the guys was coming back."  She could read the movements for what they were - she had honestly expected things to be airborne - Eddie seemed surprisingly calm.  That might worry her a little more than she let on  "It was dark - you know how it gets down there.  Can't keep streetlights, and the moon..." Shrugging, she shifted on the stool, only wincing a little.  "I was thinking about the shower the night before, and getting home... big guy, but not as big as you.  I didn't pay him much attention until he grabbed me. And then he was too close to get a good look."

The smell of cooking eggs resulted in a tiny grumble, and Tahlia's cheeks pinked as she set a hand over the black pearl that never left her abdomen.  So many things they didn't say, but it was all still there, just...hovering.  "Valito came and checked me out, and then I kinda passed out for a bit.  I know...Puddin, I know you would have. I wish I had.  All I wanted..."  Eyes squeezed shut, and she scrubbed a palm against her cheek with a hiss of breath.  "... all I wanted was to call you.  But you were working.  And I... concussion, fractured ribs, and the bite... he got - he got some of my blood. In something."  Finally home, and as safe as she ever was, Tahlia finally started to shake.

"Because I never come when you call, if I'm working?" Eddie dropped the cheese into the pan and used the turner to fold the omelette over before sliding it onto a plate and turning off the burner. He put the Western concoction in front of her and laid a fork on the counter next to it. A glint of silver caught the light, unnoticeable until he'd turned around fully. A disk hung from a leather thong in a disparate clash that was mirrored in the well turned food and its preparation. "Because I never worry about anything or anyone. Because I'm unavailable and don't like being bothered."

Eddie didn't yell, there was no need for that, not coupled with the hurt in his tone. "I know you're probably exhausted, and in pain. Finish eating and I'll p..." Another chirp came from his back pocket accompanied by a pair of dull vibrations. He ripped the phone out of his pocket and threw it against the wall without ever checking the message that it contained. "...I'll put you to bed." He wasn't grinding his teeth. His jaw always looked that way.

"Because I didn't want you to see me like that. Again. Because I'm terrified one day you will just get so damn tired of how fragile I seem to be, here. And you'll swim away and I will never see you again, and I can't..." Lips pressed to a thin, pale line, Tahlia hunched over, a forkful of omelette barely making it back to the plate, and tried not to think about bones grinding together.  When she could speak, it was barely a whisper.  "I know you worry.  I know you - I know I'm important to you. Eddie...I'm scared of getting used to this. Of you being here to rescue me. What happens if someday... you're not." She was in dangerous waters, and worst of all, she'd hurt him.  And there was a little voice she didn't recognize, reminding her of all the times he had come for her when she needed him.  The truth was, it scared her how much he was the only one she wanted.  "Eddie... I'm sorry."  She could eat later.  Right now,  she needed to curl up against his chest, needed contact and his warmth, but the shattering phone drew her up short.  

"Only if you come with me." Pale jade eyes dropped to the wreckage, and she took another step closer, sneaking glances at the set of his jaw and half expecting to hear a crack of a broken tooth.  "Who keeps calling you, anyway...Poptart need something?"  

"I wouldn't put Reg in that situation." Eddie looked at the remnants of his phone, it was just a minor swath of destruction, far less than he wanted to create...or would have if he were angry...which he certainly wasn't! He pressed his fingers hard against his forehead tracing the seam in his skull hidden beneath the skin. "That was Salducci reporting in to tell me that you made it home." He'd reached out to Big Tony, now he owed the man...well Carmine owed him but it amounted to the same thing. Eddie's fingers combed roughly through his hair stopping to squeeze the back of his neck hard enough to have finger joints popping.

"I could be there. All the time, but I won't. You're not under my thumb, and I'm not going to try to control you...not like that anyway." Eddie turned away from Tahlia and stalked the length of the kitchen only to be blocked by a wall and forced to turn around a take the same path back. The wall was lucky that time and didn't receive a little vented frustration, but in his attempt to calm those urges he just ended up pacing. "Besides, I'm pretty sure you don't want me around all the time." He shoved his hands into his pockets, reigning in their ability to do things all on their own. Problem solved. "Not that it's any easier for me either." He moved towards a chair the decision to sit springing into his head and jumping away just as quickly. Instead he kept moving, needing something to do with the pent up energy inside him.

"You.." For most people, finding out your whatever-the-hell-Eddie-was had called in favors to have you followed would be cause for serious re-evaluation. Tahlia just softened, her eyes shining with much happier tears than she'd shed since the night before.  Calling in a favor like that...she knew what that took, for him.  She also knew she couldn't take the debt on.  "I don't know about that..having you here, I mean.  It's a reason to come home. out all the time." There was so much more she could say, except that she couldn't.  Not without violating the promise they'd made way back when.  

"Puddin...please...I'm...I'm so scared."  It took nearly everything she had to admit that.  Even to him.  "We don't have vampires.  I'm not...when I thought he wanted the money, or ... me... I could handle that.  But he's got a bit of me and I can feel it missing, and I don't know why.  And I...what isn't easy for you?"  It was an interesting time for her brain to latch onto that, and demand explanation, but she was still too overwhelmed from the night before to question it.  Maybe it was the whack to her head.  All she could do was watch him pace and try to make him understand.  

Being here wasn't exactly what he was talking about. "We are what we are, babe, and when I'm around it puts that in jeopardy." Not that he hadn't enjoyed those times he'd shown up, if only to remind her clients that money doesn't buy everything. "Want me there or not I..." don't want to "...shouldn't be there." Eddie hadn't exactly addressed her question either, though he couldn't say why.

The world called them Vampire in some form or another, but Eddie saw it a little differently. "Gods damned parasites, think they're entitled to whatever they want...weak though really. They're less than the drug addicts that will do anything for their next fix." He was grinding his teeth again, and wishing he had some kind of Vamp only bio weapon. "You'll have to get it back, Pumpkin. I'm the only one that gets to have pieces of you." He'd said similar things before while running cons or too start her mind working. Maybe she heard it the same despite the difference in tone.

She knew what he meant, and stood by her answer.  For the first time in all her years of trading the most intimate access for money and trinkets, Tahlia was starting to think beyond her next client.  Sure, she'd tried before, but that had been because of someone else's struggles.  Eddie hadn't ever, wouldn't ever, ask her to give up her work.  Maybe that was why she'd been focusing on it so much.  "I know. I know. I just..."  Pausing, she leaned against the counter, and ran a hand through her hair, only wincing a little as she took too deep a breath.  She wasn't ready, yet, to finish that sentence.

"I don't know where to start.  Well, maybe I do.  I think I know who hired him..."  If she sounded distracted, maybe it was because her brain had gone exactly where he wanted it to.  Pushing away from the counter, she stalked him like a kitten just learning to hunt, snuggling up to his chest as soon as she was close enough.  "I should eat my eggs...but the stools hurt."  Tilting her head back,she bat her lashes at him, unaware of the way her hair fell to frame the bite.  

"Sounds like you just need the right cushion." He had one in mind that he thought would do the trick, pulling back a chair Eddie picked her up and sat down. "So, you get it back...then we're outta town at least until you heal up. I know a place that will work." He scooped up some of the eggs onto the fork and brought it up to feed her, but the moment she opened her mouth he was kissing her.

Just Desserts / Re: Escargot Mail
« on: September 11, 2018, 09:26:53 PM »
Tahlia opened the door, blonde ponytail snapping through the air behind her.  Part of what she paid for (or someone paid for) in this building was not having someone leaning on her doorbell, or, for that matter, getting phone calls from the concierge about broken fingers.  "Brett...I don't know anything about..." Glancing down, but not that far down, she took one look at the messengers face, and the envelope, and barely managed to tamp down the laugh.  "Nevermind, she's here.  Yeah...send me the bill."  

The tiny blonde took the shoved envelope, and tried not to tear it open.  It had been...weeks, since she'd heard anything from Eddie.  He was supposed to be focused on his training, no phone, no email...and no her.  Glancing back, she tilted her head at the girl, and nodded toward the kitchen.  "Come in, close the door...there's cold water in the fridge, and I think I might have some sashimi..." What? She liked Japanese, and it wasn't a far stretch to assume anyone who came with a letter from that barren island was one of his clan.
Sylvie just..decided to go in.  It certainly wasn't because the dry lander invited her in, although she'd maybe unbend enough to accept some water...and whatever this 'sashimi' was that she mentioned. Raiding for provisions was allowed, wasn't it?

While Sylvie raided her kitchen, Tahlia stood leaning against the counter, yes that counter, and read the letter.  Luckily, she'd had enough experience with the tall, dark Selkie to read all the way to the end, and flip the page before taking his advice.  "Hey...kid...if you wait a few, I'll make sure the fridge is full with whatever you want the next time...I just...need some paper." And for the little savage in her kitchen not to see her cry.  

Sylvie was hardly paying attention, sniffing and tasting her way through the giant cold box the light-haired landwalker gestured to.  She was still at it a few minutes later, when there was a subtle tap with a return letter, the single word on the front smudged a bit by watermarks, but still completely legible. Puddin, right across the front, in a surprisingly elegant script.  "You keep playing messenger...I'll get you anything you want."


You're not catching me so easily, not after the fish incident.  They say hi, by the way.  If they could talk, they might tell you they missed you too, that they just spend their days swimming around, staring through the glass at the ocean, waiting.  That when they close their eyes, they can smell you, maybe even feel you, but then when they open them again, you aren't there, and it's almost more than they can stand.  That it doesn't matter how many other fish are around...the world just isn't the same.  Not that they see many other fish, these days.  

Lonely nights are the worst, aren't they?  And early mornings should only be seen straight through after midnight.  If it helps, I've seen a lot of sunrises too...I told you the bed seemed too big and too cold without you.  Now I have proof.  Even the stuffed seal I bought you back in Westport doesn't take up enough space.  You knew that was really for me, though, didn't you.  So was that one shirt you've probably missed by now. The ones you left here don't smell enough like you, and I can't sleep anymore unless I'm wearing it.  I'm guessing they don't let you wear much (and five minutes later I remember to keep writing...) So, if you wanted to send another back with your super friendly messenger, I wouldn't mind.

I was a little angel when we met, so I don't know what you're talking about.  Sweet and innocent until you corrupted me with that smile, and all the naughty things you whispered in my ear.  All my marks are fading, puddin...I run a hand over my skin and I can barely feel where you've been. A part of me is afraid you won't be back to leave more.  Plus the weather is turning colder...and you know, I just can't find anything that keeps me as warm as your leather.  

I know you can do this - you're Eddie Blake, puddin, you can do anything.  Even without coffee - although hopefully you don't have to.  And you're not alone - I promised you, remember?  You're stuck with me until you want me gone.  I'll be waiting right here, watching over our beach.  You remember it, right? I might have paid one of the local beachcombers to make sure there's a light lit on that beach every night - just in case you need help finding it.  I can't go down there, I might call you back like I did before, and look at the trouble it caused.

Miss Personality is getting fussy, I can tell - I'm going to have to see what she took and keep it stocked for when you send her back - you are sending her back, aren't you?  

And yes, I know you're heartless, and unfeeling. So am I.  Consummate professionals, the pair of us. Because if we weren't, I'd have to tell you I loved you too, I'd have to tell you a lot of things and we just don't need that it's a good thing neither one of us feel anything at all.  Just...come back as soon as you can, puddin, it's getting cold.  And tell that stone-faced bitch Bo that if she lays a finger on that pendant I gave you, I'll show her what we did in the temple up close and personal.


Just Desserts / Re: Poisonous Fruit
« on: August 21, 2018, 11:23:32 PM »
It took a while for Cristoval to pick up the phone. Seven rings, starting the eighth. There's a telephone room down the hall, he'd said. If I'm there, then I'll hear it. The healer was tired, friendly enough, but quick and to the point. Injuries. Did they know what attacked her. Where are you? He wasn't far, he assured Conner; he'd be right there.

Conner had to time it right or Val would never find them.  The building where he lived was hidden in shadow, pressed between Dockside warehouses and boxy factory buildings.  A person could stand immediately before it and not see it.  Conner met Val downstairs with a firm handshake and a relieved exhale.  

In the elevator, he reiterated the concerns he had shared on the phone: that Tahlia might have a concussion, that she might have multiple broken ribs, and most concerning, that she might be having an adverse reaction to a vampire bite.  “Seen enough at the fights to know when help’s needed.”

Cristoval had run over from his apartment, though the effort hadn’t winded him much. It was the middle of the night, but his eyes were bright and alert, and he listened to Conner, nodding gravely at the mention of the bite. “I might not be able to mend her ribs on my own. The rest...” He trailed off, fingering the pendant of the Flickering Flame that he wore out in the open tonight. There was another, though, tucked out of sight, attached to a beaded chain. There was a khaki-colored bag over his shoulder, worn at the seams and carefully turned inside out.

As the elevator doors slid open, he shifted the old bag off of his shoulder, shifting the glass vials and tin cases within, and gave the caller a warm, reassuring smile. “I can certainly take care of the rest. I believe I’ve seen worse.”

Conner was looking a bit rough around the edges himself, holding himself more tightly than usual.  But he gestured to welcome Val through the open elevator doors into the apartment.

Showered, and draped in what she strongly suspected was one of his t-shirts, Tahlia had tucked herself back on the worn-in couch, tousled blonde waves spilling over her shoulders.  She wasn’t intentionally trying to hide the bite, which was clean, if still red and inflamed.  It had stopped bleeding - the shower had given her the opportunity to clean the last of the vampiric taint from her blood, and she was feeling less queasy.  Still woozy though, which is why her head rested on the arm of the couch, and her legs were half curled beneath her.  The bruising on her ribs were covered, but there was still the eggplant and navy framing one jade eye, even if she did hold her head in such a way as to try to hide the worst of it.  Her phone was in one hand, and she tapped away at it with the other, scrolling occasionally from one message to the next. It kept her from thinking, for a few minutes.

Val had, in fact, seen worse, though the extent of her injuries was surprising to behold all at once. “Tahlia,” he said, and turned a similar smile on her. His fingers tightened around the strap of his bag as he drew close enough to see the angry wound on her neck. He set his bag down on the edge of the Persian rug and pulled his hair back into a ponytail as he asked her, “How are you feeling?”

Conner faded back as Val got to work.  Arms crossed over his chest, he leaned back against the desk and watched silently, eyes focused as much, if not more, on the healer rather than the patient.

The little blonde blinked, and tensed before realizing she didn’t really want to move.  “Valito. Hey. I kinda figured he’d call you…”  It took her a moment to consider the question, and how much she wanted to answer. “Fuzzy.  It doesn’t hurt as much as it did--” A brief glance in Conner’s direction - she appreciated what he’d done, but now she owed him, and that wasn’t a favorite. “Tired.  Kind of like something is missing.  Just empty and achy.”

“That would be your blood,” Valito replied, with a touch of humor in his voice. “But your body,” he added as he removed a pair of gloves from his bag, snapping them on, “knows how to make more. Can you look at me?” he asked her, staring into her eyes with a faint frown of concentration. “And is it alright if I touch you?” he asked, that a little quieter, distracted as he glanced over the bruising around one eye.

His bag lay open. Currently there were several vials of ointments, rubbing alcohol, and anesthetic, as well as tin cases for bandages and various implements, obstructing the view of the interior.

Tahlia gave a little nod.  It hurt, but it didn’t make the world spin as much as it had.  “Yeah, it’s ok.”  She tilted her head to let him get a better look at the bruising.  It had been a glancing blow, enough to cause some glorious coloring, but she’d deflected enough to keep the damage to a minimum.  The pale green gaze didn’t waver, and she didn’t show any serious signs of concussion.  But she sat quietly, and followed his instructions, letting him examine the injuries he could see to his satisfaction.

He touched his gloved fingertips to a few tender spots, murmuring an apology as he did, this too distracted by his focus on his work. He asked to see her ribs, then poked a bit there when she lifted up the side of her shirt.

It was a good thing she wasn't shy, unashamedly pulling the shirt up to expose the equally colorful bruising on her ribcage.   But she didn't linger, didn't flaunt, perhaps the clearest indication that she fully understood how lucky she was it hadn't been worse.

As she straightened up, he leaned forward and clasped his hands together, affecting a grave expression. “Tahlia... I’m afraid you’ve contracted latric ursanthropy. At the next full moon of Arabrab, you’ll turn into a were-panda.”

He looked over his shoulder at Conner solemnly. “We should start stockpiling bamboo as soon as possible.”

He snorted, his eyes showing appreciation of the joke while his mouth retained its tight draw.  A quick reach brought a glass into his hand, shortly filled with whiskey.  He leaned against the counter and drank, eyes looking past the pair at the couch to the city lights just beyond the window.

“I what? A were-panda?” she stared at Valito in consternation for a moment,  occasionally mouthing ‘were-panda’ under her breath.  “It couldn't have been a seal, no...of course not.” Flushing gently, she tucked her hair behind her ear and winced as she hit the bruising.  “Shoots and leaves for the rest of my life.  I wonder if Eddie will mind I'm a vegetarian…” There was a subtle wink to let them know she was in on it.  “So, I'll live then?”

Val laughed warmly and nodded, "You'll live. But first I'm going to want to draw out the corruption from your bite, then call upon a little extra help," lifting the pendant of his goddess with his thumb, "to lessen the extent of your injuries. And even then, you should take a few days of physical and mental rest -- limit how much time you spend on reading, correspondence, or crossword puzzles," he added with a little more of a smile. "As for your ribs... no sports, no activity or exercise that makes you feel any pain there, and no heavy lifting. You should still get up and stretch, move around... but we can go over recommended treatments once I'm done."

He directed her attention back to his hand, letting the pendant rest against his palm. "This is divine magic, a... gift from the Flickering Flame. A goddess of light." His gaze ticked over to Conner, lingering for a beat as he leaned against the counter... then back to Tahlia. "She's going to help you heal... as long as that's alright with you," he added. "Have you had any adverse reactions to this kind of magic, that you know of?" with an earnest look.

“N-not that I know of, no…” She wasn’t used to such things, obviously, from the way her eyes darted between the two men.  “I’m not real thrilled about the idea of being inactive too long…” And Eddie wouldn’t be either, that much she could count on.  “There isn’t any corruption left.  I’m pretty sure.  But go ahead and do what...well I guess what you can.”  Tahlia tried to temper her response with a hesitant smile.  It wasn’t that she didn’t think he was skilled, she’d seen what he could do at the Hold.  Her head was still reeling from the fight, and the fact that someone out there had her blood, and she didn’t know why.  Forgetting for a moment that it was unwise, she took a deep breath, her lips thinning immediately with a muffled whine of pain.

“You shouldn’t take deep breaths like that. Try bracing a pillow against your chest if you need to cough,” he advised her. “And restful inactivity isn’t thrilling, I understand... but it’s the fastest road to recovery.” He tipped his head and gave her the biggest, most reassuring smile he could find. “Trust me.”

Then he bowed his head, closed his eyes, and clasped his hand around the emblem of the Flickering Flame. A warm, soothing light leaked out from between his fingers, like he’d cupped his hand around a flashlight, and he spent several minutes moving it over different points in her body. The bite on her neck, which grew smaller and less swollen. The bruising around her eye, and the effects of the concussion. The ache in her ribs lessened, too, though not by removing the pain itself as Conner had, but mitigating it at its source.

When he was done, he blew out a slow breath, as if he’d been holding it all along. It had required a great deal of focus on his part, yet he seemed more relaxed now if anything, as if emerging from a meditative state.

With Val apparently finished with his work, Conner pushed into motion again to get a glass of cold water for the healer.  He set it on the end of the counter, a silent offer.

The touch of the light felt warm against her skin, and she let her eyes close, the short, shallow breaths smoothing out and slowing.  She couldn’t take a deep breath, not yet, but they were a little fuller, and she could feel the ribs start to knit together.  She had hardly noticed the dull throb in her skull until it abated, but she certainly wasn’t complaining.

“Better?” Val asked with a gentle smile. He was already shifting out of his seat for the offered water. His steps were slow like the way he blinked, like a sleepy cat lounging in the sun, and he set his back carefully against the edge of the counter as he collected his glass.

He grunted, wiggled to make his back more comfortable, and pulled a small preserves jar from his jacket pocket. It contained about a dozen dark green pills of blended herbs, coated with a light amber syrup to counter the bitterness. He glanced down the counter at Conner, nodded encouragingly, and held out two fingers.

Two pills to help the pain — something that wouldn’t react with alcohol or other substances, useful to have on hand at festivals like Burning RhyDin.

Conner eyed the jar, then shifted so he could reach it.  He took a testing sniff inside before removing two pills and swallowing them in quick succession followed by a drink of whiskey.  He returned the jar to the counter with a nod to Val.  "Thanks."  He straightened and started to cross back towards Tahlia while he directed his question to Val.  "What do I owe you?"

The healer rumbled thoughtfully as he screwed the cap back onto the jar, trailing Conner to the couch and kneeling by his bag. “If you could look in on my roommates while I’m out in the desert, it’d be a great burden off my mind,” he decided. He packed slowly, studying Tahlia as he did. Her gaze, her demeanor.

Her chest rose and fell, mostly even, although there was the occasional hitch as her muscles caught automatic responses they weren’t ready for.  Blood loss, pain, and the fading adrenaline from the fight in the alley had left her wrung out, and the easing of those had her barely trying to keep her eyes open.  She knew she was safe enough to rest at least a little, enough to let her get home.  A slow blink, and she managed to focus on the healer for a moment.  “Thank you…” Her gaze shifted to Conner, before thick lashes fell back over her eyes, and she let herself sink into sleep.

Conner looked back at Val, brow furrowed, as he grabbed a soft throw blanket from the end of the couch.  Attention returned to Tahlia while he gently settled the blanket over her legs, quietly commanding, "Sleep."  He watched her eyes close and her breath even, before moving away.

Stepping away from the couch, he waited beside the elevator doors for Val to finish packing.  When the man neared, he kept his voice low as he asked, "Your roommates?"

Val cracked a grin at Conner. “The plants in my care, and the cats that come and go as they please. Elfroot in the watering can and the odd can of tuna keep them at peace... but it’s a fragile truce. You seem like a capable diplomat,” he added with a chuckle, shifting his bag as he followed him into the elevator.

Conner stared at him.  "Can't I just… buy you a beer or something, mate?"  He chuckled as the doors closed.

Just Desserts / Re: Poisonous Fruit
« on: August 21, 2018, 11:20:05 PM »
"Easy, lass.  Keep them pretty eyes open for me, aye?"  The elevator came to a stop and opened directly on his apartment.  It was a modest-sized space, mostly open with different areas flowing into the next.  Windows sported partial views of the city and the docks on two of the four sides. It was decorated like a gentleman's study.  A lived-in leather couch, an armchair with footstool, a simple desk with a warm elbow lamp, all set on a red-hued Persian rug, facing the windows and overflowing bookcases.  A kitchen with open shelving, a counter space for eating, dishes stacked in the sink.  His bed against the brick wall facing the view, partially made, slate grey bedding spilling onto the floor.  The lights were on, but they were in direct contrast to the harsh light of the vestibule.  Soft, low, and warm.  The entire place giving the feeling of lived-in comfort.  He carried her towards the couch.  "Get you fixed right up, aye?"

Adrenaline was wearing off, and she was fighting to stay awake, to stay conscious in the face of her body screaming that it didn't want to handle all of this right now.  She felt off, horribly off, in ways even the slight concussion couldn't explain.  Like something was missing.  For the moment, his decor went unnoticed, although the lowered light meant she was peeking out from her self-chosen hiding spot.  The side of her face was swelling, obviously bruised, and her breath hitched.  She was small enough that the way he held her didn't compress her to the point of suffocating, but ever since the night of the squid...the thought of being unable to breath scared her worse than anything.  "I didn't...think you could...heal people...too..."

"I can't."  Gently setting her down on the couch, pulling an extra pillow into place beneath her back.  "But not every ill needs a magical solution."  He leaned to turn on a light.  She was sensitive to it, but he needed it to see where she'd been hurt.  He knelt beside the couch.  "Let me look, lass."  Carefully starting to roll up her bloodied shirt to see her abdomen.

Her eyes snapped closed against the light, but she didn't protest.  She'd trusted him this far, it made no sense to fight him now.  

There wasn't much to roll, the shirt ending just at the edge of her rib cage, but the gesture exposed the blooming bruise from her attacker's parting kick to her ribs,  the bones beneath curving more than they should.  Beneath that was a band of discoloration, more surface injuries than anything, even if the ever present black pearl in her navel seemed to vibrate as she tried not to flinch at his touch.

"You've got to stay awake for me."  His expression didn't change as he gently felt those bones for severe injury.  "You got hit in the head?  You've got to stay awake for me."  He shifted, gently turning her head so he could look at the puncture wounds on her neck.

"Against the brick. He threw me against the wall.  Has to be why I'm so foggy..."  It was easier to talk, now, although there were breaks between the words, places she needed to pause to get enough air to continue.  Nothing broken, although fractures weren't out of the question.  Biting back a yelp, she bit down on her lip, and let him turn her head, still unaware of what she'd faced in the alley.  "If that bastard left me with a hickey...ugh.  He licked me."  Just a hint of green beneath those thick lashes said she wasn't out.  Not yet anyway.

"No, lass."  His eyes shifted to hers, his brow pulled into a deep furrow.  "No, he bit you."  One hand reached for hers, a gentle hold of reassurance.

"He wha...?" Her eyes opened at that, the hand not laced with his, and holding tight, waved vaguely.  "It felt like he was trying to strangle me with his teeth.  Jaw closed around my throat -- I couldn't breathe. Even if he broke the skin... I don't bleed."  But there it was, two lines of crimson trailing from needle-thin punctures in her throat.  The only blood of her own in the mess that covered her.

"He was trying to rip your throat out.  Twas a vampire, lass."  He gently stroked a hand across her brow.  "You're bleeding some."  There was muted concern in his eyes as he looked down at her.  "Trying to decide whether to call a healer."

"Noo... Conner, I don't.  My blood likes me too much.  It's mine.  His was mine too, when I asked it.  It's why he left me alone, finally."  But there was that sense of something missing, wasn't there. A loss she vaguely remembered from years too far gone to name.  Maybe that was why she spilled her secrets so calmly.  "It's gotta ... be..." Stuttering to a stop, she finally thought. The man very likely knew a vampire bite when he saw one.  "William."

He didn't entirely understand what she meant, his brow furrowing in confusion.  But the last bit he followed.  "You know who this was?" He shifted up off the floor, suddenly needing to move.  "Who is William?"  He pushed a hand through his hair, then stalked towards the bathroom door.  It wasn't far, still in earshot.

"It wasn't him.  I know him."  Something about the way she said it implied she meant that in the most physically intimate terms.  "Client. Former client." If he hadn't been before, he certainly was now. "But he...he tried. A few months ago. Said he couldn't resist." I heard you taste real sweet. ****. "I slapped him, told him he was out of line.  He must have hired someone..." Her hand clutched at air, eyes clenching tightly as her mind recalled a sound.  A very particular sound.  "... he didn't swallow it all..."

His jaw tightened.  He looked at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror a moment.  Then he stepped back.  He headed towards the kitchen.  There was the sound of him in and out of the fridge.  Water running.  Another moment to pause.  And then he was returning to her side.  "Cold."  That was all the warning she got before he set a clean towel over her ribs as a buffer between her skin and the frozen cold pack he set there.

Eyes snapped wide, and she let out a sound somewhere between a yelp and a squeal, toned muscles tensing sharply as the pack settled into place.  It was either that, or sit up and scramble, and her body was very clear about that being unwise.  "... I hadn't seen him since. But he called.  Wanted me to run an event. Hire a witch - Mallory, something.  It didn't go well."  Her eyes drifted closed for a moment. "He dented the Porsche yesterday.  Blamed me. This - this is payback."

The story sounded barely coherent.  "How fast do you heal?"  He wasn't trying to be nosy, but he really needed to know whether to call a healer or not.  In his hand he had a couple aspirin and a glass of water.

Her mind was racing, the words tumbling out in shallow bursts.  Someone had her blood. "A little faster than normal. But I - I've never had a vampire bite before."  She was going to owe him explanations when this was over, she knew.  Tahlia looked at the pills, and shook her head, then swallowed thickly.  "They won't work.  With all the damage - I'm not sure I could keep them down."  She was beginning to suspect the blow to the head wasn't what was making her nauseous.  "Do they have their bite? Saliva, maybe?"

"Some do."  He frowned and set the aspirin and water glass on the side table.  He gently lifted her chin again and looked at the two puncture marks.  Brow furrowed.  "Could have a reaction to it.  Like a big bad mosquito."

"My body thinks its poison.  It's..." She grimaced, wanting to sit up and knowing her ribs didn't want her to. "It's why I got sick, in the alley, I think.  Anything strong enough to make me bleed.  I...I should warn Mallory."  The tremors were starting, tears leaking out from beneath her lashes.  "Conner...why would a vampire spit out blood.  Like, into something?"

His jaw tightened.  "To save it for something."  He shifted to sit beside her on the edge of the couch.  Looking down at her, he reached a hand to stroke her hair back again.  "Blood is power.  Blood of a powerful person, all the more so."  He took a breath, then exhaled slowly.  "Tahlia.  You need to tell me what you are.  Iffin I can't fix what's happening, I'll be needing to call for help."

It took barely a heartbeat for her to shift, a soft purr slipping from her throat at the gesture.  "I don't know.  I've never known.  My mother had some gifts... spellwork.  Herbs. Sometimes, when she thought we were asleep, she'd do things.  She only ever told us not to let anyone know what we could do.  Not ever.  So I made sure I only ever Called blood when I could hide it. Remembered to make myself bleed.  Kept my little illusions subtle.  But she wasn't like us either. There was something else.  Maybe it had to do with our father, but I don't know who he was.  And they're both dead now." Her fingers twitched slightly, and the blood at her throat grew thicker, almost viscous.

Fingers curled in her blonde hair before gently combing back again.  "Alright, lass."  He looked towards the windows, brow furrowed.  He looked back at her, gently taking her hand once more.  "I'm going to call someone, alright?"

She was too hurt and exhausted to protest.  "Ok.  Can you hand me my phone? I should warn Mallory.  And see if Eddie...called, or texted.  Something." Sniffing, she brushed at the threatening tears.  She wanted her Selkie.  He couldn't fix her, but he took care of her.

"Aye."  He took a breath.  "I'll get you something to change into."  She couldn't stay in these clothes.  "You up for a shower?"  He hadn't let go of her hand just yet, hadn't moved to get her phone.

"I think so." She certainly wanted one, the scent of the vampire still in her nose.  Sitting up a little, she held her arms up with a brittle shadow of her usual coquettish smile. "Carry me?"

He snorted in amusement.  Releasing her hand, he shifted back, then slipped an arm under her knees and one under her back.  He didn't seem to struggle at all with her weight.  His bathroom was modestly sized.  He set her gently down to sit on the closed toilet.  There was no tub, but the shower was relatively spacious with a marble bench inside.  He leaned to turn on the water, setting the heat at a mild warmth.  "Don't move."  He stepped out and came back a moment later with a soft fluffy towel and a large, soft clean shirt.  He balanced these on the counter, then moved back to her.  "Give me your hand."

It was a defense mechanism, a way to deflect from the tremors, the tears that threatened to roll down her cheeks.  "Are you joining me?  All this might be worth it then..." She didn't mean any of it, although she wasn't sure she'd say no if he took her up on it.  She was frightened, more than she admitted to, and hurt, and craving the same distractions she always sought to chase those things away.  But she did as he said, holding out a hand that only shook a little.

He took her hand in both of his and fixed her with his dark eyes.  His look was intent, concerned.  Like before, over the span of a few heart beats, her pain drew down, softening and gentling.  His breath shallowed, his voice rough. "Take a shower, lass.  You'll be alright."  He started to release her hand.

"You're taking it, aren't you."  It wasn't a question, not really.  Pale green eyes tripped over his face.  "Conner...Why? I'm just..." How rare, for her to refer to herself as 'just' anything. "I dunno, a friend, maybe.  Coworker."  She pulled her hand back, and unzipped her boots.

Before she could pull her hand away, he leaned forward and dropped a kiss to the top of her head.  "Shush."  Then he moved back and to the door.  "Call iffin you need."  He left the door ajar, then headed for the phone to call Val.  At the counter, he exhaled the breath he'd been holding.

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