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Seas Of Erin > Cecilia > And all our yesterdays are now undone
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 10:13 PM
Well, it wasn't exactly like Jochy had managed to run over to the Red Morning. As usual he had forgotten about his foot when he made the offer, and ended up doing more of a fast hobbling limp. Still, that would give Si a little more time to get away.
And it would also give him some more time to think about what Ariel said. By now he bet the girl had told her brother, who would have told Nialla and... how the hell did you deal with something like that? He wasn't really sure that he could deal with it, and he wasn't the target for once.
So, once he reached the ship he looked carefully around in case Judith was there. When it seemed like she wasn't, he hobbled aboard quietly, trying to judge where Nialla and Marcello might be. Seeing who she was, there was a limited numbers of suitable cabins, so he made his way there, keeping an eye out for any crew.
Really, this was an emergency, he was sure Judes would understand but he didn't fancy taking chances.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 18 2008, 10:28 PM
After a suitable period of watching Jochy from above, Niabheara at last put a foot down on the creaking ropes and made her way down from the fore-top platform--which, as it turned out, was much easier to climb than most of the trees she preferred, what with all the ropes and spars put together at neat, symmetrical right-angles, precisely a step apart. The most difficult parts were keeping her skirts out from under her feet as she descended and the final swing and drop from the ropes to the deck. She gave him a stern, impatient look, much as a wild animal regarding a stranger in its domain, as she tried to determine the best thing to say to him.
"Ariel's spoken to your father," she said, finally. If you could not find the best thing, start with the most immediate.
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 10:31 PM
"I know." Jochy crossed his arms over his chest, secretly so damn happy she was alone and not with Marcello. He liked the guy well enough, but this subject? Too touchy. Too personal.
"She told you then? Probably in more detail than me, I hope." He tried not to look pale, or skittish, but probably failed miserably. "What did she tell you?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 18 2008, 10:37 PM
"That your father has been watching me, and why." She moved toward him, head frozen at the same angle, black eyes penetrating. "I must confess, I am growing deeply disturbed o'er the number of people who favour watching me from afar. They may well all meet the same end. We've also spoke to your father's friend the General, much to the same effect." Finally she blinked. "And frankly, it's all down to where I can't be bothered with other people's scheming, save where it interferes with mine."
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 10:42 PM
"Used to think I was pretty well clear of all that shit, but after coming here I feel like someone's pushed me out on a bloody stage without telling me what the hell I am supposed to say." Jochy kept his arms crossed, a defensive posture in reaction to her far too intense gaze. "Been dogged by coincidences and weird shit, I suppose it should be a relief to learn that I ain't paranoid. But I don't feel relieved. I mean hell, I never trusted that girl in black or especially her scarlet friend, but never in a million years would I have guessed that they were friends of His." His lips curled in disgust at the last words.
"And the fact that He's watching you? Hell... I... " He broke off and pushed his hands down his pockets instead, looking away. "You probably have the right idea. I suppose it is smarter to just ignore them."
He was not sure he could.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 18 2008, 10:47 PM
"I'm not ignoring him," she said quietly, and crossed her arms over her chest. "I've learned my lesson ignoring those who threaten me for the sake of keeping the peace." She let there be a little silence. "Why have you come here, then?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 10:51 PM
"Oh..." Jochy realized he had got sidetracked and explained "Seems like Si has decided to leave back for home without telling Andre where and how and what ship. Andre wanted to know if he could borrow the mirror to see where she has run off to. And since Spider was puking her guts out, I offered to get it so they could get some time out of the sun."
He gave her a look, chewing on his lip for a moment before continuing "So if yer ain't ignoring Him... what the hell can be done? He's... well, you know. I wouldn't even bet on Judes if she was going up against Him."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 18 2008, 11:01 PM
"He. Is. Nothing." She gave Jochy a cold look. "He's an evil man on the verge of great power, and therefore needs to be put an end of before he acquires it."
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 11:07 PM
For a moment there she actually managed to convince Jochy that she could pull it off. He almost looked relieved. "You've got no arguments from me. Seriously. But I guess it'd be easier said then done."
If his father would be dead... he wasn't sure what would happen exactly, but he did know he'd feel a hell of a lot better about things.
But then the fear struck... "But hell, yer got the Queen set against you already, you don't need another damn enemy of that caliber." He took a step closer, hands making fists at his side. "Don't do anything stupid. Please."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 18 2008, 11:32 PM
Niabheara gave a quiet snort. "Forgive me if I cannot imagine your father on the same tier as Titania." Then, seeing the look on his face, she grew quieter, more serious. She reached out for his hands. "No. Nothing like that. Why is it that everyone seems to think I am so impulsive that if my hand do but twitch, I must be reaching for my sword?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 18 2008, 11:38 PM
"Maybe 'cause that's what we might do. We tend to judge people with how the hell we usually act." Jochy smiled thinly, but allowed her to take his hands.
It felt... better. Surprisingly good in fact.
"And I have a problem imagining the queen as the scary harpy she probably is. But you know her, and I know Him. And in this case it ain't the unknown that's fearsome. We both know what the hell they are capable of."
His hands were cold, but he held himself together for now. "I just thought I was rid of the man when I ran away. And then I thought so again when I came here. And yet He keeps dogging my steps and those of everyone I care about."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 19 2008, 12:04 AM
With a wry look, she rubbed his hands to warm them between her own. "I feel the same about Titania. I'm beginning to agree with Father, of all people: every terrible event in my life has her at the root." She paused again, looking downward. "We also spoke to General del Grigio. He's another one of them; I suppose Ariel told you that as well. He mentioned others. There's a good nine of them all together, by my count."
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 19 2008, 12:09 AM
"I've just seen the two. But that was enough. I mean generally I tend to just keep my head down when immortals go aplaying, keeps it from getting bitten off. But this time... I just... I just can't understand how the hell they can even s´consider giving Him any -more- power." Jochy sighed and shook his head.
"Scratch that, I do understand. They ain't mortal. Things like morality probably seems like just a g-me to them. Guess maybe that's why they want Him, He's already coldhearted enough to never care about what the hell He does to people."
He gave her a rather desperate look. "I don't give a fuck what they are up to, I just don't want them to be yanking your chain around."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 19 2008, 12:14 AM
"That's the other thing. Both Captain Romain and the General mentioned that there's another one. Scarlet." She bit the inside of her cheek. "The General went on staring at me all through his talking to us. Do you know her as well?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 19 2008, 12:19 AM
Jochy nodded, trying to find a way to break this to her gently. "Yeah. I do. And the reason the general was staring is 'cause yer could be sisters. Really. She looks a bit older but... she's a dead ringer for you. She was inhabiting a body first, and then of course I didn't know, but I agreed to help Curr out after he had been trapped and nearly comatose in his own head. I brought her and Andre with for help with Curr, he trusted them. And... well, inside yer head, that's how you really look like. At first I thought that she just looked like you to weird me out, since she's in charge of relationships with people and all... but I checked with Andre, and he saw the same thing. And I very much doubt he desires you very much that way."'
He squeezed her hands, watching her intently. "I dunno what it signifies, but it ain't something good I bet."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 19 2008, 12:28 AM
"I know nothing of any of them," Niabheara admitted. "The girl in black's been dogging Marcello, but I've ne'er seen her--even when she was meant to be in the same room. He's seen her in this city as well. And the General is . . . I don't know what to think of him. He seemed very much a man, for what I know of him. He has a daughter." She frowned slightly, her brow wrinkling, then let the thought go. "I told Marcello that the best we could hope for against such is that what they want for us is what we would want for ourselves. But knowing they've fallen in with your father, for whate'er reason . . . I'm not sure anymore."
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 19 2008, 08:39 PM
"Maybe the general is incarnated or whatever the hell they tried to do to Scarlet. Bind him in a mortal body. Lots of entities can do that, but it's hard to tell how much power they lose by the act." Jochy frowned as he pulled back his hands from hers, clenching and unclenching them as he pondered. "Normally I would agree on what to do with them. Hell, I did them enough services in exchange for things I wanted, but really, it's a fucked up world when they ally with Him."
He ran both hands through his hair, giving her a desperate look. "Seriously. I ain't sure either. Part of me just wants to clap my hands over my ears and sing lalalala and pretend I never heard about this. Maybe it ain't immediately back. I can't say I understand how the hell He works. If he wanted to kill me he could have, and I think it's the same with you. He wants to use us."
That made the fear turned to anger and he growled. "The bastard. I can take that He thinks He can use me, but you? No bloody way."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 21 2008, 12:35 AM
She reached out a light hand on his arm. "Stay yourself, Jochy. Whate'er his cause, he's always been more a danger to you, if only because he can manipulate you more." She hadn't the heart to mention that Jochy let himself be manipulated more easily by simply falling into blind panic whenever the man was mentioned. "I'll be away from him. So shall you."
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 21 2008, 07:37 AM
Jochy stilled slightly under the touch, then smiled thinly. Really, that was as always the single best way to return him to himself. Touch.
It made him feel real.
"Yeah, I'm bad like that I guess. He's got a damn lot of practice pulling my strings." The breath he let out was scarcely more than a hiss, but he shrugged it off. "You'll be away from Him. Even He shouldn't be stupid enough to try to pull something in the Erins, yer people aren't exactly pushovers on yer own ground." But he wouldn't.
That he didn't have the heart to tell her. She'd be gone and safe, and so would Elaine and... hell, even Seth. He'd be staying right here with Andre.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 24 2008, 11:08 PM
Niabheara's brow creased in concern. "You are leaving again," she said, her face falling as she already realised the answer. "There's no need for you to e'en be here any longer. You could go back to the 'Dale, or . . . or anywhere. What holds you to this place?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 24 2008, 11:13 PM
"The fact that I've run away once too often I guess." Jochy grimaced, looking away. "What is there for me in the 'dale anyway? Me and Seth has broken up, and if there's any mending there it ain't gonna be in years. Sure as hell ain't going back 'home', and this... this is the closest I've felt to a place where I could belong. Got some people that are worth fighting for. Guess I'll stick to them for the time being."
That made him pause, before looking back at her, face tight and worried. "Would stick to you, but that ain't gonna happen. Not when yer with Judes, that's not smart. I'd complicate things, and right now... yer don't need complications."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 01:02 AM
Niabheara took in a long breath to compose herself. This was one of those moments where she really, really wanted to shout at him and find things to throw in his face, yet he somehow managed to make himself sound so sincere . . . which made the feeling grow worse. "So why have you come here now?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 25 2008, 01:08 AM
"I..." Jochy paused as he noticed her slight hesitation, a faint frown appearing on his face. "Knows that look even below the layers of court, yer wanna kick my arse right now, don't you? Hell, I..." He broke off before he had started on a rant, taking an equally long breath himself. "If yer got a problem, tell me. Chances are I ain't ever gonna get it otherwise. It's been pointed out that I ain't exactly the brightest of men when it comes to saying the right thing."
He pushed down both hands in his pockets in silent defiance. "I came here 'cause Andre wanted to borrow the mirror. Si's gone off on her own and he wants it so he can rant at her for being irresponsible. I... to tell the truth it was just a good excuse to come here. Judes forbade me to set a foot on her ship, but I guess I might be able to pass this off as an emergency if she catches me."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 01:18 AM
"What haven't you done, really?" Niabheara shot back. "I'd tell you my problem, but I'm having some difficulty finding an appropriate starting point. Let's start with . . . oh, I don't know, you need an excuse to come onto this ship instead of being a man about it and admitting that you wanted to get in one last pretty speech. The only question is, to whom? Who gets the apology this time?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 01:21 AM
Marcello stopped a good pace back, his expression going dark.
"Is there a problem?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 25 2008, 01:23 AM
"Well..." Jochy hesitated, then sighed. "You actually, if I can ever manage to have a discussion that won't get sidetracked into arguments or strained politeness. I was an arse before, and not just 'cause I was an idiot... or, well, I was an idiot, but I made myself an arse and I wanted to say I was sorry and..." He broke off the moment Marcello showed up, not sure whether he should curse the man's timing or thank him.
"Yeah..." He shot the man a glance. "There's a problem, yer want a list?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 01:31 AM
Niabheara whirled on Marcello, shocked and furious and frustrated. Her eyes slid back to Jochy, narrowed. A cruel smile twisted up the side of her mouth. "So I was right. I get the apology this time." She shrugged. "A bit late, but it's sweet and slightly touching to know you can pry your head out of your navel long enough to bother."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 01:39 AM
"I don't think that's his navel," Marcello muttered, looking taken aback at Niabheara's almost violent reaction to his approach.
He sighed, then held the mirror out to Jochy. "Save it for someone who wants to hear it," he said in a pained voice, before reaching a hand for Niabheara's shoulder. "Should I leave you two alone, then?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 25 2008, 01:45 AM
"So how long -have- you been listening in then since yer knows about this?" Jochy grabbed the mirror with a smirk at Marcello. Then he sighed and looked back to Nialla.
"I can. Only thing is that every time I do try, things gets out of hand. I never was good at this shit."
Mostly because he cared. It was too bloody hard at times, to try to figure out what to say. He didn't think he was succeeding very well at all.
"And I didn't think Judes would pull such a fast runner, I figured there'd be time you know?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 01:54 AM
"Time for what?" she said icily. "Time to get in good with the both of us?"
She turned her back on the both of them, starting back toward the cabin. "Give my regards to Captain Romain."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 01:59 AM
Marcello looked both rather perplexed and angry. "Why the hell would I listen in?" he demanded, and then looked back at Niabheara, swallowing, and shook his head, before starting after the red-haired girl, throwing his hands in the air.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 02:04 AM
Stomping back into her mother's cabin, Niabheara very nearly--if unwittingly--threw the door shut right in Marcello's face and flung herself at the nearest wall, slinging her fist up against the wood. A tiny, strangled scream burst from her throat. She kicked at the wall, wheeled back from it, only to throw herself against the opposite wall like a bird beating against a cage.
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 25 2008, 02:06 AM
"'cause of me being me having a chat with the woman you love? Most people'd be suspicious." Jochy deflated somewhat, raising his voice slightly so Nialla could hear him as he half shouted after her before she slammed the door.
"And yeah, that was exactly what I was hoping for. That it wouldn't end like this. But I guess that was just a pipedream."
He wasn't going to walk over her and yank her back no matter how much he wanted to.
He was not going to have a screaming argument on the deck of Judes' ship.
He was going to let her go. He couldn't fix this right now. He didn't know what to say, and everything that he -did- say just ended up making things worse.
Maybe she really was right. That he should have gone away and stayed away.
Finally that lesson was sinking in.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 02:20 AM
"Most people trust the women they love not to crumple at the feet of a pompous ass even if he thinks the only reason she's not is because he's deliberately acting like even more of a--"
Marcello didn't finished. He let out a growl of frustration and walked back...into the door.
Swearing, he opened it up, taking a deep breath as he looked the girl over from across the room. "Are you all right?"
Posted by: Jochy Melechen Apr 25 2008, 02:22 AM
Jochy hesitated a moment, hating that he wasn't the one that could follow her into that room.
Oh hell. Stop it. Just walk away.
He sucked in a deep breath and turned to leave.
Trying to do the right thing really sucked.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 02:25 AM
"He! Just! Needs! To leave!" She slammed her fists against the wall again. This time she left them there, gradually sliding down, gasping for breath, her head resting against the wood.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 02:31 AM
And Marcello's stomach twisted into a knot, and he looked, pale-faced, out the door, and then back at Niabheara.
He sighed, stepping toward her, and rested a hand atop her head. "He's leaving. Do you want to talk about it."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 02:43 AM
"I . . . no-oo." Her voice cracked. Suddenly she pounded the wall again. "I'm the one who always goes into strained arguments? He's the one who always tries to keep on good terms with everyone in case he needs them again." She laughed, high and vicious. "By all the gods, why didn't he stay with my father? What a pair they would have made, Marcello!"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 02:54 AM
Marcello reached out to her with both hands. "Off the floor, love," he urged quietly. "You're...I can't make sense of what you're saying. Just...he talks at people. You know this. He's not thinking about whether it hurts."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 03:04 AM
Her throat felt too tightly twisted to talk. She reached up and allowed him to pull her up from the floor. "I know it." Her face screwed in fury. "It doesn't stop it from hurting. I should have ripped his balls off. For love of all decency. Someone should. They should've done it ages ago. I'll ask Seth if he's interested in participating or if he'd rather watch."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 03:08 AM
Marcello wrapped the girl up in his arms, though his hands went cold. "I think Seth might have the prerogative to get the first go at him," he said apologetically. "What did he do this time?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 03:21 AM
"He . . . oh." She wrung her hands, practically snarling. "What else does he do? He got me to the point where I felt badly for him, where I wanted to do something to help him, and then . . . all at once he turned my problem into his problem. He said he'd found something worth fighting for and then apologised because he would only make things complicated if he tried to help me. All this time . . . he damn well barged in whene'er the fancy took him, all my life, and now when I could have used him . . . it's too damn complicated! Of course it's complicated for him. Gods forfend he have to make a choice. What does he know of choices? What does he--"
She broke off suddenly, shaking, and burrowed into Marcello's chest.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 03:28 AM
Marcello squeezed her tightly, pressing his lips to her hair, though his own body became rigid with anger at Niabheara's explanation. "He oughtn't dare," he whispered. "He..." His jaw clenched, furious. "You don't have to-- you shouldn't have to do this," he growled low. "Does he even understand at all what you've been through? What they've-- what they're doing to you?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 03:47 AM
"I hate this," she hissed. "I e'en hate the words. 'Doing something to me'--e'er since this miserable business began, someone's been doing something to me. I'm supposed to be Cnoch-na-Niall. Who took my power? Why can't I do something to someone else to make up for all this?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 03:55 AM
"Because it won't," Marcello said quietly, angrily. "Because as much as you hurt them, whatever you do to them, you still lose something. It doesn't make up for it. It doesn't bring Tristan back. It doesn't give you your autonomy."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 04:06 AM
"This isn't fair. This isn't my fault. Someone else started it all ere I was e'en born and then left me to deal with it. And Jochy gets to pack up and take whate'er side he pleases, no blood spilt, he just leaves when it suits him--"
Her breath whistled in her throat, now constricted too tight to swallow. "He didn't have to die. I don't want to go back there, I don't."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 04:14 AM
"I was just..." Marcello took a deep breath. "I was talking about this to the tree-man...it's the reason I took so long." He loosened his grip on her, stroking a hand over her cheek. "By your leave, I'd like to..."
And then he heard her last statement, and clenched his jaw, tight. "Shh," he said softly. "Whatever you want, we'll make it so. I am not allowing them to play you like a chess-piece."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 04:21 AM
"No. No." Niabheara pulled herself up straight again, massaging her throat to loosen it. Her face was rigid, back pulled straight as a ramrod. "I'm all right. I'll be all right. Say what you will, Marcello. What did you speak to him?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 04:28 AM
"About you," Marcello said softly. "I...about being a tree, at first, but I told him how interested you were. I think he'd speak to you if you like. But I..."
He frowned at her. "Would you like something to drink? Water?" he offered uncertainly. "I talked to him about your predicament. Our predicament. That I'm not sure how to help you right."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 09:33 PM
She shook her head. "No, no water, I'm all right." She wrapped her hand around his thumb, feeling both physically and emotionally small. It was not a comforting sensation. "We go back to the Erins, we organise from Oireachteigh. I sent word ahead with Laird Maitiu to the College, and to Laird Gearoid and his lady sister, and whomsoe'er will lend aid. If Titania strikes direct, I call down the Hunt. This was always the plan, yes?
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 09:44 PM
"That was always the plan," Marcello echoed, stroking her han with his free fingers. "And I'm...well, of course I'm worried about it; I'd be a fool not to be, but it's not the worst of my worries right now. We've talked about this before, Niabheara. I'm more concerned about what's to become of you after. I feel like it's a trap. And I want to know exactly how much of a role your father and mother both have in this."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 10:32 PM
Niabheara gave Marcello a strange, distant, somehow amused look. "That part of the plan has not changed either, I don't think: either I will be Queen, or I will be dead." And then she quickly put a hand up to shush him. "Don't. I know it's not a joking matter."
She hooked her fingers around his thumb again. "Mother's willing to draw up her sailors in the Erins. She owns most of the ships there; I might have failed to mention that at some point. How many are armed, and how many will fight, if there be a sea-battle, I can't say, but the men themselves are loyal to the sea-witch. She can draw out ranks from them. As for Father--"
Her face tighted, grew bitter. "I don't know. By all the powers, I do not know what's to be done with him. He is a wild fire in our midst; whate'er way the wind blows him will be to our good or ill."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 10:39 PM
Marcello reached for her waist, circling it with his arm. "That's not very reassuring, good or ill. I-- with your leave, I would speak with him. And with your mother. I don't-- I do not mean what role they play now. I mean what they intended for you from the start."
He bit his lip. "You understand that I would not have you be dead. Nor would I have you be queen."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 25 2008, 10:50 PM
"With my leave, you may speak to him, an he will speak at all." A fleeting frown creased her features, but smoothed away as she drew in nearer to Marcello. "Mother is her own creature; you need not ask leave of me."
She laid her ear against his chest, over his heart. "I'm not sure I want to know what they had planned. It's rather a cold thing, to know one's whole life was someone else's contrievance."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 25 2008, 11:01 PM
Marcello kissed her hair, tenderly, ran a thumb along her cheek. "The trouble is that I am furious on your behalf, and I...I don't know how to direct the fury. I will not tell you, if he says anything at all, unless you wish to know. I just...I will not have you be his contrivance, love. Nor his pawn. You are not-- you are much more than any of them think of you."
He gritted his teeth. "I feel alone here," he admitted quietly. "Without Meg, or Mortoch, or Moira-- I want to know that someone is here not for obligation or rewards or justice, but because you're you."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 02:50 AM
"I would want to know. It's difficult for me to speak to him. There's still so strong a feeling . . . I don't wish to be caught with him, if that makes any sense. He's tainted." For a moment her head rested heavily against him, as if she were about to fall asleep, but she caught herself and drew up straighter, pushing her hair off his arm and over her own shoulder. "Don't be furious."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 02:58 AM
"It makes sense," Marcello said. "It's like...keeping a filthy animal for a pet and knowing that if your mother finds out, she'll have it killed."
He swallowed, looking a bit sick. "That's a tall order. Sometimes I feel like I've got nothing but fury at our circumstances. It's fury or impotence. Or the impotence makes me furious."
He tugged at his earlobe, then let out a long breath. "What did Jochy say while I was gone? Anything I need to know?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 03:14 AM
"Naught but what Ariel's already told us. About the others--whate'er they are." She paused, still disturbed. "He knows the scarlet one, the one that's meant to look like me. Something about her being bound to a mortal body, or almost bound to one. He was frightened because they've all allied themselves with his father, and because his father's elected to concern himself with me. I think that was as much of it as you didn't hear."
She stroked his arm. "I only meant don't be furious if it's going to make you ill. I worry about you when you get like this. Wound tight and chill. I try not to be upset because I know it's going to upset you." She gave him a thin smile. "At twenty winters I still have some leeway to be upset for no clear reason."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 03:24 AM
Marcello looked her over worriedly. "Everyone does. You more than anyone, I'd wager. And I could wager, and I expect I would win," he pointed out, smiling tightly. "Don't do that on account of me."
He held her hand to his arm, tight and warm. "And I worry about you. I just...I want to skip six months, see where the chips have fallen, just pick up after when everything's back to normal."
His smile was a bit easier now. "Wake up in bed with you and thank God this is all over. And roll back over and fall back to sleep and the worst thing to complain about is your hair in my mouth."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 03:43 AM
There was a light tapping on the door, very quiet. "Countess?" Giles called, his voice muffled. "If it ain't too much trouble, a word with you?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 03:53 AM
Niabheara gave a very light, resigned sigh and pressed a kiss to Marcello's cheek before she found her way to her feet again. "Aye, a moment please," she called at the door. "Who's there?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 03:55 AM
The Italian looked down for a moment, then followed Niabheara, staying a step behind her, hands on her shoulders.
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 03:57 AM
"It's Hartley, your ladyship," Giles said, clearing his throat. "Sorry if'm interruptin'. I can come callin' again in the morn if it suits you better."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 04:03 AM
"No, no." She brushed her hand over her forehead, securing her hair behind her shoulders, and added, in a murmur intended only for Marcello, "Jochy's cancelled my sleeping for another good hour."
She peeked around the door. In the interval she had somehow forgotten about Hartley's face, and it startled her, although she was quick enough to cover for herself. "Is there something the matter, sire?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 04:05 AM
Marcello gave the girl's shoulders a sympathetic squeeze, and looked to the visitor. "Is it about your name?" he asked. "Because if they've not given it back, I'll take it up with them personally."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 04:08 AM
If Giles noticed her reaction, he said nothing. Rather, his mangled half-face lit up at Marcello’s guess, and he looked from him to the Countess, pleased near to bursting. "It is! I thought you should know... would like to know. I spoke t’Neely below, an’ he’s gone an’ returned my name’s keepin’. You coulda knocked me down with a feather, I was so surprised."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 04:15 AM
"He has?" Niabheara found her voice more tinged with unease than relief. "Good. I feared we might perforce torment it from him. I'm pleased for you."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 04:21 AM
Marcello watched the younger man warily, his brow creasing. "Are you certain he gave it back? Did you test it? Make him let you inflict pain on him? He probably deserved it."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 04:25 AM
Giles shook his head, grinning. "Haha--no, I didn't harm him. He did order me about, and I was free to ignore the commands, so I believe I'm safe. It feels good," he looked down at his gloved hands very briefly, pleased to be unbound. The pleasure lasted only a moment, though--when he looked up, he frowned slightly. "You look more suspicious than pleased. Does it worry you so?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 04:32 AM
"We had not expected him to relent without conditions," Niabheara admitted. She stepped nearer to Giles. "Or has he already laid down his conditions?"
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 04:38 AM
"He said nothin' of the kind to me," Giles told her, guardedly. His cheeks reddened. "I offered him a favor, but he wouldn't entertain the idea. We spoke further and he simply ... released it."
The halfblood bit his lip. "Though now that I know my name can be taken so, I've no mind as t'how I can protect it..."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 04:41 AM
"This doesn't sit well with me," Marcello replied. "If I may be frank. From what I have seen of Neely. No offense intended, Hartley, but I suspect he might have taken what he wanted. As to how to keep it..."
He looked to Niabheara, briefly. "Do not offer it out?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 04:46 AM
"Give out what you would be called, but not your name, not ever. Swear no oaths on it that you would not be sure you couldn't keep. This is--" She looked back at Marcello, touched her tongue uncertainly to her lips, then glanced back to Giles. "This is not the way he does business, sire. Soothly, you would be the one to know for certain, but . . . "
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 04:52 AM
Their unease was contagious, and Giles found his excitement rapidly receding. "Well, he asked no favor of me, and I offered nothing up. If he wished for something in return, I'm sure he was disappointed." He looked down again, briefly. "Everyone already knows my name here. There's no protecting it if its known by all. Can Tuatha names be changed?"
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 05:01 AM
Niabheara wrinkled her nose in amusement at the question. "It's more a question of approach. Put simply: if anyone should ask your name, don't answer. Tell them what you would be called--e'en if it's the name you normally use. Or find a nickname, or have someone give you one." She tipped her head in curiosity at the man. "Most times one takes a true name at birth, and is given another by one's mother. But you weren't born with us. I don't know how it could work, for you. Your self is all bound up in the name you wear most."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 05:09 AM
"I doubt I have a true name? An' honestly, I don't think many nicknames I'd gain would be flattering," Giles said with an uneasy grin, looking displeased by the prospect. "I didn't know there was anything to a name. I've only been to the Erins once, an' I landed in the thick of a plague, so there was little to be learn..."
And then he closed his mouth and looked over his shoulders, leaning in closer to Niabheara and Marcello. "I know you've a world of trouble perpetually swirlin' around you, Lady, but I think you can help me, an' I'm sorely in need of help. I've a petition for you, as it were."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 05:14 AM
"You were in Oireachteigh," Marcello observed, chill, before Giles made his final request, and he stiffened, dropping a hand to catch at Niabheara's, swallowing hard. "And the rest is idle chatter?" he asked the man cautiously. "Out with it. What do you want of the lady?"
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 05:23 AM
"I was, Judith found me there," Giles agreed, taken aback by Marcello's vehemency. "There was nothing idle in my questioning, we're sailin' into a world where rules I've never known suddenly apply t'me."
Then he looked to Niabheara. "I beg you t'grant me citizenship of Cnoch-na-Niall." He'd spent a good deal of time practicing the proper pronunciation, but it was yet unmastered.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 05:28 AM
Niabheara looked the man over, cool and distant. "Marcello," she said, "have you iron? I want him proved."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 05:31 AM
Marcello obligingly offered the younger man a knife. "Touch this," he instructed. "For what purpose are you asking the lady this?" he demanded, his tone low, almost threatening. "This is...who put this idea into your head?"
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 05:43 AM
Giles gave the knife a weary look, and pulled off a glove. He touched the iron obediently, then overturned his hand to display his reddened fingers. "I was gettin' there, sir," he told Marcello earnestly, popping a burned finger into his mouth and sucking on it. "I... it's more about Alex, my brother, than me. He's been plagued by a she-demon for the past month. I brought him with me, 'cause water seemed to weaken her, an' I thought Judith's bein' nearby would buy us a measure of security."
He looked back to Niabheara, feeling awkward addressing Marcello when she was the one things concerned. "The Tuatha've got a bargain protectin' them from the interference of demons, but I'm not a proper Tuatha. If I were, maybe I could invoke the rules, ward her off Alex an' keep him safe--if anyone could grant me that protection, it's you."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 05:50 AM
Niabheara swallowed, folded her hands before her, and kept herself from looking too startled. "We were only just discussing this," she said quietly to Marcello. She raised her voice to address Giles. "You want to swear fealty to me so that I might invoke the Teind to protect you. For one who professes no knowledge of Court custom, that's . . . very detailed for a first-timer." Her smile was both weary and amused. "My father suggested this to you, didn't he?"
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 05:57 AM
Giles nodded, rubbing at the back of his neck sheepishly. "Well, yeah. We talked for a time after he'd returned my name. I asked him to teach me about the Court, since ... well, I've gotta learn t'be Tuatha eventually, and where we're goin' it'll only get more and more important. I asked about demons, an' he said you'd be able to protect me."
The young man looked uncomfortable--he'd something wrong without realizing it. "I--I think it was just a kindness, Lady. He asked for nothing in return--it was a passin' thing, a topic of my choosing."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 06:01 AM
Marcello, uneasy, reached for Niabheara's arm. "It is highly doubtful that that man would do anyone a kindness," he said cautiously. "Unless he thought there were something he could gain from it. And there are far better people to teach you about Court than the man who murdered the king and queen and left his daughter to take the blame and the misery of it. Better on this ship, even."
His next remark was directed at Niabheara. "I...this is up to you. I think it might be best to think on it."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 06:10 AM
Niabheara nodded slowly to Marcello, her face tight, eyes troubled. "My father spoke you half-truth," she said to Giles, as kindly as she could. "The Teind is in place to protect my people--e'en if they may be half. Your brother is full-human. The Queen Herself could not cry Teind to cover him." Her resolve broke into a tiny wince when she realised what she had said. "Take that as you will."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 06:12 AM
"And add another grievance to the list I must take up with the man," Marcello said through gritted teeth.
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 06:19 AM
Giles’ face fell slightly at this news, and he raised a hand to stay Marcello. "Don’t—don’t. He warned me not to tell you it was his idea… said it’d color how you treated the request. I already broke my word in that respect—if you bring it up, he’ll not speak t’me so earnestly again."
Why had Neely been so kind? Well. Kind might be the wrong word for it. But he had certainly been helpful, and there was little-to-nothing Giles could offer him in exchange for the help, save a warm bed. But with a face like his, the halfblood wasn’t going to presume that was motivating Neely—he was probably too smart for something so base…. Had he really thought Giles could keep the secret?
"He said it was there to protect the Tuatha and their affairs—Alex is my affair. I’m his guardian." Well, in theory. "It could be just the sort of technical loophole you courtly-people relish. And anyway, if I were sworn to you, the moment she harmed me she could be turned away. I just have to keep myself between them." He licked his lips, and added, "I'm a good sailor, very hard to kill, very lucky. I fought a cannibal pirate-queen once, and won. I'm not useless."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 06:30 AM
"Certes it has coloured the request," Niabheara replied tartly. "That much he spoke you true. Why in the name of . . . There's no need to recommend yourself, sire. If you were anyone else, if you'd come from anyone else--"
She set her teeth together, shook her head again, and looked to Marcello. "I do this all the time. He'd be a vassal; he'd be set under Cnoch-na-Niall, not to me personally. There's nothing at risk for either of us--so why would Father suggest it?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 06:36 AM
Marcello shot Niabheara a sidelong glance, then looked to Giles. "My own understanding of demons is that they are not so quick to keep to the teind, or they find ways around it," he put in quietly, to the younger man. "It's not...we're not expecting you've got something to do with this. It's just...well," he said to Niabheara. "It might not-- it might be to our advantage in his thinking. I don't know which side he sees himself on. What purpose would there be in tying this man to--"
He paused, then looked back to Giles. "Do you happen to know your parentage?" he asked. "Was it your mother or your father who was Tuatha? And have you got any sisters?"
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 06:47 AM
"My mother was English through and through," Giles said, not looking at them. He folded his arms over his chest, uncomfortable. "She was a … working woman. I’m the second of four an’ far as I know the only halfblood amongst them. My older brother is dead, you’ve met Alex. Our youngest is a sister, one I’ve never met. None of us know our fathers, an’ mum never said much 'bout whoever left her saddled with me... I doubt she even knew. Knowin' what I know now, I suspect he was glammed up proper. Why do you ask? Is it really so strange that he'd offer advice? Maybe he likes metal." He rolled his good eye, cursing himself for letting things slip.
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 06:59 AM
"Lineage runs through the mother's line," Niabheara explained with a faint smile. "For inheritances and titles, not for blood. Blood is blood in that respect."
Head bowed, she rubbed her finger along the bridge of her nose, silent and thoughtful. "There's nothing standing against it," she said at last. "Nothing but my father's recommendation--and I've ignored that as long as I've drawn breath. Kneel, sire."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 07:06 AM
Giles' face lit up—and he knelt quickly, afraid she would change her mind.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 07:08 AM
Marcello took a step back. "And it's not something we can't get out of," he added quietly. "If there is something to it. I hope."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 07:16 AM
Niabheara briefly laid a hand on her torc. "I haven't done this to just one person in ages," she admitted quietly, then took a breath and took his head in her hands. "Giles Hartley, you are so sworn, by mouth and hand in fealty and service to the county of Cnoch-na-Niall and in all such matters that concern it, fairly shared in need or plenty, and in peace or war, from this hour henceforth, until myself sways you from such service, death do take you, or the world do end. If we are agreed, acknowledge it aye."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 07:18 AM
"Aye," Giles agreed, head bowed and voice quiet. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears. "As you say."
Posted by: Niabheara ni Dowd Apr 26 2008, 07:27 AM
"Then done." She slipped her hands from the sides of his face. "For good or ill. If this is some trickery of my father's, needless to say, the vow is considered under diress and is so invalid. But for now, done."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 07:29 AM
Giles shivered, glad her hands were no longer touching him. He stood and attempted, rather clumsily, to imitate the formal bow. "You're... you're very good, Lady. I won't let you regret this," he promised, the look on his half-face sharp and determined.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Apr 26 2008, 07:30 AM
Marcello caught at one of Niabheara's now-empty hands. "And now, if you'll excuse us? It's been an unhappily long day and I think the lady and I would like some rest. We'll-- I'm going to speak to Neely tomorrow," he assured Giles. "I'll see what I can discover then, if there is anything. Without putting you in a bad spot."
Posted by: Giles Hartley Apr 26 2008, 07:32 AM
"Good neighbor to you both," Giles nodded, gratefully. "Sleep well--if such a thing's possible here an' now." He bowed again, and left them to their rest.
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