This post follows Baiting the Perfect Mouse Trap
. All characters in the following were played by their original players or those merely mentioned were done so with the explicit permission from their original players. What's that mean? It means the group is back together folks! Thanks!))[/size]
The Brownstone doesn?t look like much from the outside. Its aging fa?ade seems to have seen better days. The porch looks like some work has been done but otherwise, the four-story house fits in quite well with the derelict neighborhood surrounding it, very nondescript. For Maeri however, it would be easy to see beyond the magical illusion to the strongly re-enforced structure underneath.
The steps leading up to the porch are stone and sturdy under her feet. The door looks thick and impregnable, a recent addition. The house is surrounded by protective spells and a multitude of high-tech defenses. It is almost as if Bel has taken as much care with this residence as the Blood House or Hades Dawn.
It had been a while since Maeri had even considered stepping on any grounds owned by a Blood. Having walked away, she had really had no intention of ever returning. It was, though, in all fairness to Bel, that she did decide to make this visit on this evening.
Her own spells to maintain the illusion of humanity firmly in place, Maeri strolled up the walk. Lips were now moistened as she ran her tongue over them. A habit she had of tasting the air, not just for scent, but for the weaving of spells. One did not lightly cross spell against spell, especially ones of strong illusions such as these, without keeping an awareness of how the two would mingle.
A hand came up and the knocker was struck to announce her arrival. She knew that even if Bel had not expected a visit from her, the tingling of her magicks brushing against that of this place, would have alerted her more so than the firm sounding of the hammer against the door.
Bel answers the door with a bright welcoming smile. ?Maeri, how kind of you to come sweet! Come on in!?
The entrance hall is rather larger than many of its predecessors. There is a faint smell of fresh paint and drywall lingering as if there had been recent remodeling done to the area. There is a distinct lack of furniture and other homey additions. Stairs leading up to the upper floors line the back wall while to either side are double doors all of which are currently closed. Bel waits for Maeri to step inside before closing and securing the heavy front door. Apparently she feels there is a need to do such things. She then leads the way towards the formal sitting room, to the right of the entry. She slides the double doors open and gestures for Maeri to follow.
Yvette has already laid out the tea service on the low slung coffee table that rests before the two sofas, replete with sweet treats; pecan pie slices and pretty little petit fours she had made herself. Two overstuffed sofas covered in dark jewel tones, one of forest green and the other a majestic deep burgundy, sit in an L-shape invitingly. Comfortable looking chairs are scattered in strategic spots alongside the sofas, with tables nearby and intentionally handy. The lighting in the room is warm but muted. Tasteful pieces of art accent the walls and furniture. Time had been spent in ensuring a comfortable and inviting space.
?Coffee or tea, Maeri?? Bel asks as she claims a seat on the forest green sofa, her hands already moving to the service laid out by Yvette. ?Please, sit, make yourself at home!?
There had been a smile that came easily enough to Maeri?s face, though still with a bit of caution. "Thank you," was offered as she stepped past Bel and into the sitting room. She couldn't help the smile warming a bit as memories came back to her. Upon sitting and almost curling comfortably in the seat, she made her choice. "This evening tea would be most appreciated."
It was rare for Maeri to allow anyone else to prepare a drink for her. Bel was one of the few rare exceptions to that rule. Of course, it would have been rude to simply devise her own drink and decline such polite company and hostessing. However, that had not stopped her before from declining such kindnesses.
Bel smiles and nods, pouring a cup of Yvette?s famous brewed black tea, it has just a hint of spice to it. She offers the cup and saucer to Maeri then places the cream and sugar nearby so Maeri can help herself to her preference of condiments. For herself she pours a half cup of the thick, chicory flavored New Orleans styled coffee and adds cream to top off the cup. Two teaspoons of sugar follow to lighten the heaviness of the dark blend. She stirs her coffee with a small silver spoon as she lounges back.
?I have the updated contracts already for all Onyx House allies?? Bel drops a soft, muted chuckle, obviously amused with her plotting. ?I am covering all of Dragonkind in Rhy?Din. I am sure that will stir a few pots of discontent...? She doesn?t look as if this bothers her in the least; in fact just the opposite seems to be true. ?I have copies for you too.?
Maeri takes the tea and sips at it in a mimicry of caution over the heat. All the while, her attention turned to Bel and her comment concerning the Dragonkin of Rhy?din.
A soft murmur of pleasure escapes her, and eyes sparkle with pleasure. Though as Maeri lowered the cup, she did query, ?One thing though, what is to hold Lankyn to these agreement?? She really didn?t care about anyone else who might be affected. She, the dragons who had been left unprotected and to be molested at the whims of others, and an agreement which might put things to a more balanced setting were all that mattered to her.
Bel enjoys a sip of her coffee as she contemplates how best to answer her friend?s inquiry concerning Corwyn. He?d given Bel permission to oversee the running of Onyx as she sees fit. Of course? the deal made with the devil Veighn wasn?t simply an Onyx alliance situation. However? Corwyn?s primary goal at the time the deal was struck had more to do with the taint on Tasha than the good of the Bloods and their collective holdings.
Corwyn won?t go against Bel?s decision to protect the Dragonkin? but he may not be amused that she is outright inciting the dark devil Veighn.
A light half-shrug is dropped as green eyes move to meet her friend?s squarely. ?If he doesn?t like it, he can fire me?? She allows for a small smile, but she is deadly serious. ?You have given our Family more than most. You deserve our loyalty over?? Bel doesn?t bother to invoke the devil by naming him, ?any others that come to mind? If Corwyn doesn?t like what I am doing, well, then, guess its time to start a new Family, don?t you??
A slight nod offered at that assessment. ?That, unfortunately, is why I felt the need to divorce myself of my alliance to the Bloods.? It had never occurred to Maeri what was owed to her, but what this Family owed to itself. ?Let me be completely upfront. I can?t say that I will fully trust Lankyn on this.?
There was a moment of pause before Maeri continued. ?However, I would like to take a look at this agreement and its particulars.? She had never been concerned about the dragons in her own homeland. She and her mate had been most careful when establishing their own holdings. It was those who ventured further afield to places such as Rhy?Din for whom she had to take the greater care.
?We will also need to discuss how this agreement may affect some of those I?ve made while away from the Bloods.?
Bel produces the new alliance treaties, and the public declaration she?s had done up announcing the Bloods support of the Dragonkin. She offers the papers over to her friend. ?Feel free to take your time looking them over, Maeri. Your opinion on them would be most welcome. As for trusting Lankyn?? Bel isn?t one to offer up advice on this topic, she isn?t sure if she trusts him all that much either? But, he is the progenitor of the Family and deserves some form of loyalty from her, doesn?t he? She again drops a half-shrug setting her cup aside on the coffee table.
?Corwyn means well? his intentions are to protect the Family. It is his means to that end that even I find questionable at times?? It is the most she has to give on the subject. Unfortunately it sounds lame even to her ears. Perhaps she should contemplate a better answer for future situations?
That thought also bothers her?
Bel pushes her concerns about Corwyn to the side for now, he?s out of town and there is no telling when he may return. Worrying over his reactions earns her nothing but wasted time. ?And of course, happy to hear whatever your concerns may be where other alliances lay.?
Maeri set down the cup and saucer on the table closest to her before taking the papers offered. A quick scanning of the context as she flipped through pages of what amounted to all the legal declarations necessary to make things judiciously correct on any world, and then to the meat of the matter at hand.
She took her time and great care with the particulars. Maeri was well aware that if one thing had been left unsaid or stated even slightly wrong it could be worse than a spell going awry. She had often thought that mages and lawyers studied some of the same material just to learn to be purposefully obtuse. Both groups were quite good at such things and better than some djins for being sticklers on wording.
After a bit, Maeri looked up and nodded. ?It appears to all be in order and most agreeable in the wording.?
Bel smiles and nods obviously pleased that Maeri approves. ?Keep those copies I made them for you??
She leans to take up her cup of coffee. She never bothers with the saucer for herself. Lounging back she enjoys a few sips. Those green eyes move to rest on Maeri inquiringly. ?As for other alliances, sweets, I am more than open and willing to negotiate there as well? Not that I want to force you back into the Family, Maeri. I don?t want to force anything upon you. But I do want you to know you have our full support. Mine and the rest of the Family?s.?
What Bel wants is their friendship back in place. She?s missed Maeri and truth is Bel has very few she deigns to call ?friend?.
Maeri considered for a moment tucking the papers away in the manner she was most accustomed to using. However, with the wards she had sensed around the place, she refrained from old habits and simply rolled it up and produced a ribbon to tie it into place. She then took up her drink once more.
Without a pause, she offered, ?I too missed the warmth of our friendship.? Maeri knew that Bel likely could sense that about her, even as she did of Bel. ?Things such as this always have a way of circling back on themselves in the end though. You, more than most, should know that.?
And there is the trademark wisdom of the Dragoness? Bel?s smile blooms brightly as she gazes with affection on Maeri. ?Oh, sweets, don?t you realize, that is one of the many reasons I need you around! To remind me of such insights?? Bel chuckles softly, ?Otherwise, I would be caught up in the drama that seems to evolve all over this realm of ours!? Her tone is light and teasing but there is a deeper truth to what she?s saying and they both know that. ?I confess, I have missed you dearly! Now? if you don?t eat at least one of these petit fours, Yvette is going to have a litter of kittens in the kitchen!? Bel is only half joking.
She pushes the platter over towards Maeri for her to pick one of the bite-sized treats.
?You should know, I may have unwittingly started a war with the Dragons, not the Dragonkin, but the gang that calls themselves such? I am sure you recall them, yes?? A hint of weariness tugs at beatific features as she confesses this to Maeri. ?They are insisting on a meeting with Corwyn? and he?s up and gone on his own walkabout! I have no idea when he might be back!? Bel drops a light sigh then another half shrug. ?Things never seem to calm down, you ever noticed that? Maybe there?s a spell we might dig up?? Again? only half joking.
A half laugh as Maeri replied, ?You will have to allow me to think upon such a spell. One must be cautious when tampering with such thing. Balance in all things, as you know.? She knew that Bel would be aware of her bend toward balance.
?As to the Dragons,? Maeri couldn?t help but pause before uttering that word, as it irked her that they would identify themselves as such, ?I most certainly do.? Her eyes narrowed. ?Another misguided agreement, if you ask me.?
Maeri shrugged, ?One only dances with the devil if they are willing to be the fuel for their fire.? With that assessment, she took the offered sweet and daintily nibbled on it while she considered this piece of news.
Bel nods in agreement with Maeri as she finishes off her coffee. Setting the empty cup aside green eyes move back to her friend and she chuckles. ?Yes, I agree with you there! We can only hope that whatever drew them to pursue the girl Corwyn sent me to collect was worth all of this? You really should meet this Thorn of Zenfaer, Lin Mae. There is? something about the girl that harkens familiar?? Bel?s expression clouds thoughtfully. The girl is a puzzle Bel is still trying to decipher. Maybe Maeri can help with that? Bel can hope!
[size=9](This is only the beginning... To Be Continued...)