Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Crew of Red Morning (End of Bodswap Pt 2), August 3 2008
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 2 2008, 11:21 PM
They were nearly to Oireachteigh, and considering the number of people who wanted to see his current body die a slow and agonizing death, Marcello had been relegated to one of the smuggling holds. It was not as uncomfortable as he'd worried, and someone had been kind enough to drag down a straw pallet and a crate to sit on and use as a table, and various other necessities, but even with the lantern lit, it was dim in the hold, where there wasn't any way for outside light to filter in.
The darkness meant that he couldn't very well read or write, and he had taken to folding himself a set of paper knights not unlike the ones he'd made for Tristan, simply because he could fold them by memory and the feel of the paper in his hands.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 2 2008, 11:27 PM
And Niabheara, neither as surefooted or cat-eyed as she was in her own body, barked her shin on the edge a box and then, in the course of crying out and backing away, jabbed herself in the arm with a loose nail. "Ow!" She jerked her arm away, with a rip of fabric, and suddenly found the majority of her sleeve hanging down around her fingertips. She could feel a runnel of blood tickling its way from her cut shin to her ankle, and tears--mostly of frustration--sprang to her eyes. "Damn it!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 2 2008, 11:32 PM
"Cara?!" Marcello called, getting up from his paper army when he heard the girl's voice. "Love, are you all right?" he asked.
His own vision still being somewhat better than hers, he made his way over to the girl, nearly reaching out for her before he remembered himself and dropped his hands to his sides. "Is there anything I can do?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 2 2008, 11:37 PM
"Aye," she said miserably. "Explain to Elaine why she's all dinged up." Too embarrassed and clumsy to much care about touching anyone, she groped in the dimness for his hand. "Is there anywhere to sit down?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 2 2008, 11:41 PM
"She'll understand," Marcello told the girl quietly, slipping his fingers through hers. "Yes, come along," he said, putting his other hand to her shoulder to usher her in the right direction and avoid any more bumps. "Here," he said, nudging her back. "There's a seat there. Are you hurt anywhere?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 2 2008, 11:45 PM
"Pride. Shirt. Shin." In the lamplight, she could see well enough to find that she had torn her pants, too. "Trousers." Cautiously, she settled back and let go his hand, then extended her wrist with the chain. "I'm sorry," she said, with a look at his bandaged hands.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 2 2008, 11:47 PM
He touched his fingertip to the chain, enough that the hiss was audible.
"I love you," he answered, and pulled out a handkerchief, dropping to his knees to wet it with spittle and dab at the cut on her leg. "Besides that?" he asked her. "What's happening above? Is everything all right?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 2 2008, 11:52 PM
"Mother's brought all her men up to out-manoeuvre this other ship," Niabheara said. "That's all I know. Elaine should be coming in a moment if it proves dangerous." She let him dab at the cut in silence, then suddenly blurted out, "It's Auberon, I know it! There's no one else that it could be!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 2 2008, 11:55 PM
Marcello tensed for a moment, still dabbing, and then, looking satisfied at his handiwork, looked up at her. "Shh, love. Judith won't let him do anything, if it is. We'll be all right. Bleeding anywhere else?" he asked her in a businesslike tone, holding up the bloodied cloth. "Judith's got us protected. And Neely's up there, he'll manage, won't he? Auberon can't-- do anything like sense where we are, can he?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:01 AM
"I don't believe Auberon has that sort of power. Otherwise Father is in a very great lot of trouble, isn't he?" She gave a very un-Niabheara-like laugh, short and cold. "Although there's no way of telling if the Puck hasn't simply gone to him and blathered the who and what of every person aboard this ship. E'en if he doesn't know, he may still know. In which case it's a matter of time."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:06 AM
Sighing, Marcello put his hands on her knees. "Then what's the point of changing us all?" he asked her. "You're...don't worry so much. There's nothing we can do right now, is there? C'mere, look," he said, trying to brighten his own mood.
He held up a horseman. "I'm making you an army. If you give me about fifteen more minutes, and I'll have more men than Titania could dream of."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:10 AM
Niabheara looked down from the horseman to the other little knights scattered across the place and burst out laughing. "Is this what you've been doing? How long have you been at it?" She slid to her knees, careful not to crush any of the figures, and picked one up. "An I were a proper faerie queen, I'd know some spell to bring them all to life to fight my battles for me. And it would cost us nothing but paper."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:13 AM
"Not long," Marcello answered, smiling proudly at his little paper creations. "There's nothing else to do down here, really," he reasoned, moving a few of the men out of the way so he could sit on his pallet. "But they're all for you," he said, more seriously. "And all loyal to a fault. You see?" he asked, raising one infantryman in the air and bending the little paper man's arm. "This one's saluting."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:19 AM
Niabheara, smiling, stretched her fingers into the lamplight. Frowned. Did it again--and then caught herself, a little chagrined. "I was going to make him fly," she said. "I forgot."
The girl drew her knees up, tucking her feet under her. "Mayhaps, if nothing else, if it is Auberon, I can plead him to make the Puck change us back; there's one comfort if no other."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:25 AM
"If it's Auberon, I don't think Judith's going to permit you to see him," Marcello said apolgoetically. "Or vice-versa, really."
He smiled, then, obligingly, held the little paper man in the air and waved him about. "You can still make him fly, see?" he offered, and, pinching him between two fingers, offered him to Niabheara. "Quite well, too, I might add."
He considered her for a moment before continuing. "I had a guest last night."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:27 AM
"Your lady in . . . Miranda?" Niabheara took the little solider absently, bending its arms up and down between thumb and forefinger, like wings. "I asked her to speak to you before."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:29 AM
He shook his head. "Her friend," he answered. "Scarlet. The one..." he nodded at Niabheara. "The one who's supposed to be related to you."
He gave her an awkward look. "She used your body. It was uncomfortable, at best. I had to sit on my hands."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:36 AM
"Scarlet?" she echoed. Her voice dropped to a dry tone. "Oh. Let me guess. This one wears all red. And what business did she have in my body anyway? What did she want?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:45 AM
"Just to talk, I think," Marcello answered. "And no, she was wearing what Elaine was wearing yesterday. She, ah. I don't know if you really want to hear this, but here goes," he said, picking up another soldier and twirling him absently between his fingers. "According to her, you're her avatar, you're like a tiny piece of her that gets to live like an ordinary person so she knows what things feel like. Things like falling in love. And she wanted to meet me, and I think she was trying to gauge her approval, but I'm not sure?"
He shook his head. "I'm only repeating what she said."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 12:49 AM
Niabheara's eyes went wide, the whites showing all around. "No. No. They don't get to do that." Her voice shook. "It's bad enough when both parents decide what they want to make of you--she doesn't get to do that. I'm sick of this!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 12:55 AM
Marcello held a hand out to her. "I know," he told her. "Look, I don't-- what do you want to do, cara?" she asked her quietly. "I...I just thought you needed to know. They're all-- they're all very nice, but it's strange, especially...she's you. Almost. More or less."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:00 AM
"She is not me," Niabheara said hotly, "and if she is, may the gods pity her, and I hope she likes everyone ordering her about and telling her what to be and how to be it, and I hope she adores having the Puck shove her up against the doors and run its hands all over her as if she's meat, and oh! I hope especially she likes everyone hating her for things that she wasn't e'en alive for, and getting people killed--" Her voice cut off as suddenly as if her throat had clogged. "I hope she likes it! She have damn well have it!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 01:08 AM
By the time Niabheara was done with her tirade, Marcello had crept back an inch completely reflexively. "Love, love, come on, shh, look--" He threw his hands up. "I'm sure there's one like me, too, only I haven't met him yet, and--God, look, what can I do?" he asked quietly. "Is there anything I can do?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:12 AM
"I want to go home." Even to herself she sounded like a sullen, cranky little girl; she could only imagine what it sounded like to him. "You didn't do anything, you don't have to do anything, just--why do you keep speaking to them? What's going to happen if you e'er meet the one that's meant to be you?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 01:20 AM
Marcello shook his head. "I don't think I could. And I-- I want to hear what they have to say," he admitted. "It's useful-- and I'm curious. I want to know these things."
He grimaced, and reached for her shoulder. "We're almost home," he promised. "We'll be there soon. I--"
Then he took a deep breath. "I told you about when the psychopomp made the prophecy? About striking when the lightning strikes?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:32 AM
She turned her shoulder out of reach. "Well, I don't. There's been nothing any of them have e'er said that didn't catch in my throat, one way or another. This cavalier attitude they have toward real people--we're toys to them." She scooted out her foot, knocking down a battalion. "We're games."
Immediately she regretted pulling herself away from him, but the act was done; the point had been made. She looked up at him, nervously. "Aye, I remember. What of it?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 01:37 AM
Marcello gave her a pained look. "It wasn't about what we thought it was about," he said. "She-- oh, god, I am not trying to defend her, because this-- I don't know if this makes me more angry, or..."
He swallowed, intending to blurt. It took him a moment longer to blurt. "She wasn't telling me how to protect you. She was telling me how to seduce you."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:43 AM
"What? Oh, for pity's sake." Niabheara collapsed against her former seat, not sure if she should be amused or infuriated by this new information. This cinched it: everyone was more interested in her sex life than she herself was. "It didn't work," she said flatly. "It very nearly got you killed."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Aug 3 2008, 01:49 AM
"Yes, I'm aware," Marcello answered frustratedly. "And I..." He rubbed at his bandages. "And it got Tristan killed. And I wasn't even--"
He gritted his teeth. "They told me the one who told me that got sacked. And replaced, with another girl identical to her. I couldn't even tell. And then."
It took him a moment to compost himself to the point he could say it. "She gave me another one. She said that...she said that the curse would be broken when the bell rings."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:52 AM
"But the bell's rung," Niabheara said, pointing upward. "See? They're lying again. Marcello." Her voice softened at the look on his face. "Dearest. It's not . . . I don't regret you, no matter how we were brought together. I'm only glad it happened. But you can see now that these . . . whate'er they are, they have some hold o'er things. This isn't right."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 01:59 AM
Marcello didn't notice that he was suddenly taller, or that his hands no longer hurt. He might have noticed that his eyesight suddenly got weaker, but he also might have assumed that was all due to the frustration of the situation.
But he relaxed when she didn't shout again. "I don't know if they do," he answered honestly. "They just...it's more like they travel on a different plane. Like...maybe like they read books about us?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 02:03 AM
"Hold a moment." Her voice was low, but still panicked. "Your voice just changed." She put a hand to her throat. "My voice just changed."
Under her hand she felt the familiar hard knob of the garnets in the pommel of her torc. Suddenly the hold smelled unbearably of must, of mildewed straw, and of water, and the tight space resolved itself from black outlines to sharp edges. "Marcello?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 02:07 AM
He reached a hand out, blinking as his eyes tried to adjust to the dimness, and caught a hand on her sleeve.
"Niabheara?" he asked softly. His hand traveled up over the curve of her shoulder, to her neck, and over her chin before he realized that his hand was no longer bandaged.
His fingers stroked her cheek, and then he started slightly, and reached for his knife-- which was there, once again.
He held it out. "We'd still better," he said apologetically.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 02:11 AM
Niabheara's wrist jerked toward him--then jerked back when she realised that her bracelet had vanished. Blisters in various stages of rising covered the backs of both hands, with a few smaller ones still on her fingertips. She nodded, tapped her knuckles to the underside of the knife, and yanked her hand away with a scream of laughter, as if it had done something she hadn't expected. "Yes?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 02:14 AM
He held up his own hand, and tapped it to the knife, eyes bright even in the darkness. "Yes," he answered, laughing in response to hers, and he dropped the knife with a clatter, felling two paper guards, and leaned forward to embrace her.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 11:51 AM
Her lips locked against his, although it was hard to keep up a kiss when her chest shook with uncontrollable laughter. She spluttered and broke away from him. "Yes-yes-yes," she agreed, delighted. "You're you! Look at you!" She traced the hollows under his eyes with her fingertips, ran her thumbs around the outline of his jaw, held onto his shoulders as if he might change back again if she let go of him for too long. "I'd almost forgotten--"
Abruptly she twisted to look over her shoulder and upward. "Much as it tempts me to shove you to your back in the straw and have you right now," she murmured, "Mother could send someone down with the all-clear at any moment. Do you think--" She sucked in her breath. "Father. If you're here . . . "
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 12:37 PM
Marcello clasped the girl tightly to him, with the same urgency that she might slip away from him, then ran his fingers over the short beard that suggested just how comfortable Neely had felt with a razor , and then squeezed Niabheara tightly once more. "It's good enough just to touch you," he answered, curling his fingers through the ends of her hair. "This happens too much."
And then he grimaced. "He must be there," he agreed, glancing ceilingward. "And I suppose that might have been the extent of the Puck's trickery, if you're right, if that is Auberon."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 01:00 PM
"I hope it isn't Auberon." The doubt in her voice made it all too clear, however, that she accepted that whatever could go wrong already had. "All this scheming, to be undone before he even set foot on land . . . I hope it's nobody." She twisted in impatience as she looked up at the hatch. "Would it be safe to go up, or should I wait for the all-clear?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 01:10 PM
"It could be better than that," Marcello said reassuringly, although his heart wasn't in it. "Maybe they caught the Puck. Maybe--"
"Love, if that is Auberon? I think it's better we stay down here. I trust Judith to take care of things and tell us what'a happened after. If it's-- I don't think Auberon would draw a sword on any of us, but I'm not certain what he would do."
He grimaced and pressed a quick kiss to her cheek. "If Neely's been uncovered, he's-- he'll be alll right, you know. He seems like the sort who can roll with the punches."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 01:18 PM
Still unconvinced, Niabheara turned herself until she could lean her back against his chest and wrap both his arms around her. "It's almost o'er, isn't it?" What she meant to say, of course, was that it was almost time to begin.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 01:29 PM
Marcello pressed his cheek up tight to Niabheara's chest. "I don't think 'over' is the word I would use," he said quietly. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry we didn't get any time to rest and now everything is happening again."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:31 PM
There was a terse little knock at the door. "You two both in there?" Elaine called.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 01:36 PM
Niabheara started and pushed herself a little apart from Marcello, almost looking guilty. "We are," she called back. "Elaine? Innumerate your injuries."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 01:39 PM
Marcello frowned when Niabheara straightened, and he reached for her hand.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:41 PM
"Injuries?" Elaine asked, and then looked down. "Oh, shit. What did you do?" she asked. "Um. Sleeve's all torn up, and so are my pants, and my knee's gouged and so's my arm and [i]I am fucking soaking wet and the salt water is making my knee sting like holy hell."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 01:44 PM
Niabheara gave Marcello a caution look, pressed his hand, and struggled to stand up. The trip to the hatch went much easier now that she could navigate obstacles. "Sorry! It's crowded down here! I think I ran into a crate!" She flung open the door, her shoulders sinking in relief. "We've changed too. Is it everyone? What's happening up there?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 01:47 PM
The dripping girl looked Niabheara over, and then through her arms around her briefly. "Puck turned me into a mouse! And Judith threw me overboard. Everyone changed back, yes. It was Auberon. He, um. He took Neely," she said, stepping back, apologetic.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 01:52 PM
Niabheara hugged Elaine back in a burst of concern and relief. "Poor thing, you're like ice." Her mouth looked strained, corners turned down in a grimace. "Father . . . are we sure it was him? What was said? Are we still going ashore?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 02:19 PM
"I have no idea," Elaine answered, shaking her head. Little droplets flew from her hair. "I'm fine," she answered. "It was Auberon, or it was Neely? Puck was pretending to be me," she explained. "Pretending to be you. He said he would meet in private with Auberon and..." She nodded at Marcello. "You, and then Auberon spirited them both away. That's all that's happened, I don't know what happens next; Judith told me to come down and tell you both to come up as soon as you're sorted." "
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 02:21 PM
Marcello got her his feet and stepped over toward the girls, putting a hand on Niabheara's shoulder. "Did Auberon say what he wanted?" he asked, glancing worriedly at Niabheara. "Did Auberon even know he was talking to the Puck?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 02:29 PM
"Then he's gone," Niabheara said quietly. "If everyone changed back all at once, Auberon would know by now who he really took away." She looked ill. "Perhaps there's still . . . something." She bit her lip, then looked resolved. "Now I must to Auberon."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Aug 3 2008, 02:31 PM
"He said he just wanted to talk to the Countess," the girl answered. "I don't know how you're going to find him; he spirited them all away, Nialla."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Aug 3 2008, 02:32 PM
Marcello's expression tensed. "We should talk to your mother first," he said to the redhead. "And...if you go, I'm going," he added. "Although I somehow doubt you expected me to say otherwise."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Aug 3 2008, 02:38 PM
"I knew you would, dear." She straightened. "I want this ship landed by forenoon and I want to be established in Oireachteigh before evening. I'm going to tell Mother so." She made her way to the hatch.