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Bargains


Bargains

Post by Quinn on

In the end it was dark by the time Quinn tore herself away from the Drunken Rat once again, and she had to give Ina a 'definite maybe' on the operetta, which had evolved fast, was now being called 'A Summer Storm' and was apparently going to 'knock people out', 'wake them up' and 'drag them kicking and screaming into a new artistic paradigm', in the words of Morti. Quinn just hoped he'd remember to give it some decent tunes and some semblance of a plot.

She ended up humming the theme to herself as she walked back towards the industrial district, taking her time - after all, she wasn't going to get anything done until the morning now. It had been a day pleasantly wasted, anyway. To anyone outside of Quinn's little world it would seem an odd thing to do at a time like this, but Quinn knew she thought faster under pressure, and would think a lot better if she could clear her head by farting around as her endearingly shallow alter-ego for a day or so.

In the end she picked a spot facing the Lightsword hall, with a nice view of most of its entrances, leant against a wall and put into practice a favourite trick of hers, which was not-quite-sleeping standing up. She'd slept half the day already, so it should put her in shape for the morning, and it was highly unlikely that anything big could go on without her noticing.

By the time the compound started to shift itself awake she was already moving. Almost ready to resume her manhunt, Quinn paused to check her appearance in the mirror from her bag, and supressed a laugh at how she startled herself. After saying goodbye the previous night, she'd returned to the bar for her trunk and tried out a look that was quite new to her. Very little makeup, and what there was wasn't intended to disguise any more than that of the average woman; she hadn't got a wig on, and her hair was just there, not done up in any way, her usual boots, pants and coat, no scarf, and this tunic she'd never worn except on stage once - a jestery black and purple diamond pattern. Everyone had agreed it suited Zanni, but it wasn't her style. Not girly enough, too plain. This was a new character she was playing - herself. Whatever that meant. Be yourself. That time she did giggle. She could ber herself. She could be anybody she wanted to be.

As for finding the bard, it was almost irritating just how easy it was now she knew. A few questions to passing Lightswords and she had his name and the location of his lodgings, just like that.

She forced a smile as she found the room described to her and knocked. Well, Julen, you'd better be worth it.

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen -- the mighty warrior, the first Lightsword, the man who had slain so many vile enemies the previous day -- was hiding in his room. He preferred to call it sleeping late, telling himself that an extra hour of dozing made sense after his largely restless night. But in truth, if pressed, he would be forced to admit that he was hiding. He didn’t want to go downstairs and watch Rosemary act like she couldn’t even see him. He didn’t want to risk running into Kaydee, who would surely want some sort of explanation for his behavior last night. Really, if he could just stay here until it was time to march for Shim, Julen would be a happy man.

Still, when he heard the knock at his door, Julen scrambled out of bed. He could only think of two people it might be and he didn’t want to keep either one waiting. Possibly Aorle had come upstairs to tell him to get off his ass and go make himself useful. Or possibly it was Rosemary. Julen didn’t expect an apology, wasn’t even sure if he deserved an apology. He just wanted her to come back to him, so he could put his arms around her, and they could begin to work through this, as they’d work through everything before.

Wearing only the pants that he slept in, his brown curls more tangled than usual after a night of tossing and turning, Julen opened the door. When he found himself faced by an unfamiliar young woman, confusion and embarrassment chased each other across his face.

“Ummm...hello?”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Of all the things Quinn might have expected of a bard-turned-footman, nothing as comical and slightly pathetic as this sheepish-looking guy in his pants had ever registered in her imagination. At least until after she'd threatened him.

She tried to straighten out her smirk as she looked around for her opening line. Look, you've obviously had a bad night, so here I am, to potentially make it worse. Nice to meet you! She also realised she had met him before, or at least been briefly introduced under the guise of Asra, and she had a good memory for faces. That should have been infuriating, but Quinn couldn't really get worked up about that at this point. She had a job to do.

"Look, is this a bad time?" she said, and then didn't wait for an answer. "Well, I'll rephrase that. This is a bad time. Worse than you think. For somebody anyway, and potentially for you. We need to talk."

Quinn's eyes flickered to the room behind, and she reconsidered inviting herself in. And reminded herself to be on her guard. Clothes or no clothes, a fighter is a fighter, even if he's a bard, and some of them are at their worst embarassed, particularly embarassed by a woman.

"Look, how about I go away and you put some clothes on, then we'll talk? How does that sound? I'm..."

Quinn dropped her gaze for a second. It was cheesy as hell, but she needed something to call herself, and Arlecchina hadn't cut the ice since age thirteen.

"...Soubrette."

It was a nice name, she thought defensively to herself. It sounded like it could be a real name. And it exemplified quite nicely how she liked to present herself to herself and others: bit shifty maybe, a little bit mischeavous and a little bit playful, but essentially a harmless side character. Not, you know, a villain or anything. Wouldn't want anyone to think that.

She met Julen's eye again, smiling in what she hoped was a mildly reassuring manner primarily for her own benefit, and awaited his response.

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen nearly started to laugh when the young woman asked him if this was a bad time -- not a hearty chuckle, but a shrill and slightly hysterical sound, like wind leaking through the fresh cracks in a formerly sturdy wall. Fortunately, she didn’t wait for his answer, giving Julen a chance to swallow the sound he’d been about to make. Instead of giggling, he managed to limit his reaction to a rather peculiar expression, which quickly flitted across his face and was gone.

However, her hint that someone might be in trouble hit Julen like a bucket of cold water. Grogginess was blinked from his eyes, replaced by an alert glint, while the muscles of his face tightened to produce a look of concern. Although Julen might occasionally succumb to the temptation of wallowing, he wasn’t going to lie there in the mud of his own misery when someone else needed help. “Is there a problem? What sort of problem? For who?”

Instead of answering, she made reference to his state of undress. Glancing down at himself, Julen remembered the extent of his indecency, and blood rushed to his cheeks. The fact that she chose the following moment to reveal her name only made him feel more uncomfortable. Appearing half-naked in front of a stranger was bad enough, but now they were friends. Hastily, he seized hold of her suggestion. “Yes. Good idea. Wait right here while I put some clothes on.”

Soubrette. That was a nice name, Julen thought to himself, as he closed the door to his room. It sounded rather like a desert Rosemary had told him about, made from fruit syrup and crushed ice. Julen wondered if she was one of the refugees. She didn't look familiar, but he hadn't met them all.

Swiftly, Julen got dressed -- which, by this point, meant full armor and a sword belt. And, as he put on the items of his new trade, his farmer’s mind automatically slipped into warrior mode. He remembered things like the chain of command. And ambushes. When he again opened the door to his room, the man who faced Soubrette was more cautious and formal, although no less determined to help. “Alright. You may come in, if you wish, or choose a place where you feel more comfortable to talk. But I will not leave this base alone. And I will report anything you say to my superior, if I think his ears need to hear it.”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Although the sight of a sterner, more fighteresque character emerging from the room probably should have made Quinn more cautious, it didn't. In fact, she beat back a knowing smile - because she knew exactly how much putting on a different set of clothes made you feel like a different sort of person. It was a character aid, and reinforced rather than weakened her impression that everyone, especially this guy, had a bit of performer in them.

However, outwardly she took note of the armour and swordbelt, almost instinctively raising onto the balls of her feet, weight resting more on one foot than the other, a pose that looked perfectly casual, but gave her the most manouverability for a quick escape. Swords could be so awkward. She dipped her eyes , nodding to him when he invited her in. She could have found somewhere else, she supposed, but to be honest she knew full well she worked best out of her depth and it didn't get much deeper than the private rooms of strangers with big swords.

"Thankyou."

Quinn followed him inside, following her own private protocol for such situations - she walked behind, and she pushed the door to, with an ambiguous glance at him as she did so. It could have meant anything, but what it really meant was she felt more in control and hopefully he felt like she was more in control as well.

The mention of the superior was potentially worrying. There was a gap in Quinn's knowledge where Aorle was concerned, and she decided the best option right now was probably to avoid threats and see if he'd help out of a sense of duty to the community or something, and rethink the strategy later if that didn't work.

The legal angle most likely wouldn't fly, anyway. If Aorle knew and tolerated Uluki, it was more than likely he'd do the same for his footman. She couldn't see any scenario in which she threatened explicitly o report him that wouldn't go bad for her long before it went bad for him. Different tack needed, she decided.

"Julen... How'd you like to save a little girl's life?"

Pause to let it sink in, then back it up with the details.

"Kira, a refugee who has been taken in by Uluki, is in danger and I think you can help. Specifically, there is a contract out on her life, bought by a man who can buy enough guile to stitch this entire place up. You're well protected against instruders you can see, but frankly, not too hard to deceive."

That piece of information, she suspected, would reach the superior. Actually she hoped rather than suspected, because if Panterras got bored of waiting and decided to send in someone else, there should at least be a taken resistance.

"My job, as the person who accepted that job with no intention of doing it, is to trick the sick mind who would buy this sort of thing into thinking that Kira is dead. And I want your help."

'Soubrette' glanced up through her eyelashes at the warrior, as if she had finished explaining. Get him committed, then drag magic into it, that was the way to do it.

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen was slightly unsettled when Soubrette took it upon herself to shut the door behind them. He’d planned to leave it ajar, counting on lowered voices to keep their secrets. Clearly, the young woman wanted privacy more than she feared being alone with an armed stranger, so Julen didn’t protest her decision. But he did begin to offer her a seat, hoping that doing so would help him regain some control of the situation -- until he realized that the only place in the room to sit was the bed. Not wanting to risk a major misunderstanding, Julen aborted the gesture. Instead, he placed his hands on his hips, and tilted his head as he listened to what Soubrette had to say.

How'd you like to save a little girl's life? The manner in which the question was phrased seemed almost comically mismatched to its content. How’d you like another glass of ale? How’d you like a sack of grain, thrown in for free if you buy this goat right now? Soubrette’s words sounded less like a plea for help and more like she was trying to sell him something. And, although he might be unskilled in games of intrigue, Julen had dealt with enough travelling peddlers to know a thing or two about being sold something. He knew that the more someone wanted you to have their miraculous wares, the more likely there was to be a hidden catch. Julen was not the sort of farmer who traded the family cow for a couple of magic beans.

However, Soubrette went on to mention Kira, and that raised genuine feelings of concern. Merohl had told Julen about what went on during the meeting with Kira’s father, and about the contents of the journal they’d found in his laboratory. Even now, several days later, just thinking about it made Julen sick. How could a person do that to anyone, much less their own child? Mere “evil” seemed insufficient to describe it. Julen did not doubt that Kira’s father was capable of anything.

“We are more protected from those who come here with sinister intent than you might think.” That was a reference to Aorle’s ability to see people’s echoes, although Julen didn’t furnish any details. He still hadn’t decided if he fully trusted Soubrette. Unfortunately, she did have a point -- with so many new faces arriving, it would be too easy for someone to slip in unnoticed. The danger to Kira was clearly real.

Soubrette’s next revelation made Julen take an involuntary step backward, and his hand went to the hilt of his sword. She might not be the sort of person who ever intended to do the job, but she was still the sort of person who got hired to do it, and that meant an assassin. Julen was not overly familiar with assassins, but he suspected they knew how to take down a man in armour. Then again, if she wanted him dead, she could have done it easily enough when he first opened the door. Forcing himself to take a deep breath, Julen withdrew his hand from his sword. But he didn’t close the gap that had opened between Soubrette and him.

“Alright,” Julen acknowledged, when she’d finished speaking. “With Kira’s life at stake, I can’t risk dismissing what you’ve said. So, assuming that you’re telling the truth, then your plan makes a certain amount of sense. But what role do you want me to play in faking her death?”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Anticipating the size of the room and lack of a chair, Quinn had realised she would have to stand, but took a millisecond out to enjoy Julen’s embarrassment nevertheless. This wasn’t a social call. Her eyes flickered to his hands, though, his face, hunting for clues. Married? Probably, this was a room for two, and the level of uncomfortableness implied something more than mere awkwardness. Perhaps she was the jealous type. She couldn’t be expected back too soon, though, or he’d have arranged that they talk elsewhere. She also noticed some sort of ribbony decoration and candles in the room, which wasn’t usually a male touch – unless he had a woman to impress. Or, you know, he was a ‘fan of musical theatre’ as Zaryel liked to euphemistically describe himself. And these fighter types – all muscles and bearhugging and that. You could never tell.

Quinn dismissed Julen’s defence of the compound’s ability to keep threats out – she was here, wasn’t she? There was just no convincing some people. It was true though – people tended to believe what they liked to believe and they liked to believe they were safe. That normally worked in her favour, when she was the threat.

She ascertained from his face when she mentioned Kira that the compulsion to help was there, as it had always tended to be with people she met inside the compound. What remained to be seen was how far he would go with it. Did anybody know about his gift? She’d take a chance and assume they did, in the same vague, roundabout way that people specifically didn’t talk about how Uluki could heal people, but it wouldn’t be common knowledge. He wouldn’t be expecting her to know, that was the point. And he’d already got on edge when she mentioned that she was the intended assassin, so she would have to go carefully.

She let her eyes drop to his sword when his hand was on the hilt and left them there until he removed it.

“I’d like to discuss how you could help, on friendly terms,” she said, wording it as carefully as she could, “Which is why I came to speak with you unarmed.” She showed him open palms, the standard placatory gesture, and the briefest glance to her hips would reveal the lack of sword belt there. “I’d very much appreciate it if I could talk with you on equal footing, as it were.”

I don’t trust your temper, was the subtext. She knew what the guy was thinking, he thought she was an assassin - most likely the last person who believed that coming from an assassin never got to warn anyone else. Gosh, the truth was hard to work with.

"i'm not threatening you, I'm not asking you to do anything dangerous, I just want you to be polite and talk to the nice unarmed lady in the totally-unsuitable-for-concealing-weapons-in dress without going for a sword every time she tells you she's not intending to kill anyone."

There was an edge of worry in the sarcasm, which she thought should do the trick. "I'm not even an fighter. Can't even use a weapon. I get a little nervous in the presence of those who do."

It wasn't the wisest or most smooth-talking of manouveres, but that hand on that hilt had actually got to her a bit, coming as it did now when she was just easing herself back into the spy mindset and with Panterras' threat looming over her. She really wanted him to put the sword down before she revealed that she had potentially incriminating information about him, just in case he decided to make certain that it would never jeopardise the operation here.

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen was not comforted by Soubrette’s assertion that her dress lacked the ability to conceal weapons. Weapons were not the only way to kill a man. There was poison. And there was magic -- Julen doubted an assassin would be particularly concerned about any laws prohibiting its use. But one fact remained. If Soubrette wanted to kill him, she could have done so when he was groggy and half-naked, rather than waiting until he was wary and armored.

“Look, I’m sorry,” Julen apologized. “The last time someone came here telling me that a friend needed my help, I got led into an ambush, beaten within an inch of my life, and dumped in the street to serve as an example to others. So you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t exactly throw caution to the wind.”

Nevertheless, Julen unbuckled his sword belt. Moving slowly, so as to avoid scaring Soubrette, he placed it on the ground by his feet. If Soubrette was telling the truth, Kira’s life was in danger. That forced him to take certain risks. Besides, he was still bigger than the young woman, and Aorle had taught him that an armored fist or elbow could be nearly as damaging as an actual weapon.

“Alright. I put the sword down. And that’s as friendly as this chat is going to get until I understand more about the situation. You say your plan is to fake Kira’s death? Fine. What do you want me to do?”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

When Julen explained about the former deception Quinn more than understood the feeling, and felt that perhaps she'd undershot a little - probably making up for the way she'd overshot with Uluki. She'd have to make sure that didn't happen again. She was just, she had to admit, a little more shaken and a little more into this than she should have been. The best thing for all concerned would be if she just got this sorted and got away again. Go and be Zanni for a long, long time. Maybe forever.

It wouldn't work. It hadn't before.

She thanked him for removing the sword, watching it until it was on the ground, then snapping her eyes up to meet his with eyes that were almost too bright, as if nothing had really happened.

Then she remembered what she was telling him about. What was the best way to do this? She dipped her eyes, sighed a little, and spoke softly, as if she was breaking bad news:

"You were seen a matter of weeks ago performing as a bard in Marn. It's clear you have... a talent which lends itself to the art of deception. And I don't mean singing. I need..."

She trailed off, wondering how best to phrase this. Then she wanted to laugh, because she realised she was selling the truth, the way she would a lie. What was it they said? The truth will set ye free. Speak from the heart. Honesty, eye-contact, all that stuff.

Quinn looked him right in the eye, and said, honestly, genuinely and truthfully, "I think Kira's best chance is for you to create an illusion to fool the old man. Please... will you help me?"

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

The minute Soubrette alluded to his curse, Julen’s wariness turned to outright terror. Nearly stumbling over the sword by his feet, he took another step backward, his eyes as wide as an owl’s. A swift death at the hands of an assassin was one thing. Being interrogated and tortured by the Judges until he actually begged for death was something else entirely.

“Where--? How--? Who--?” Julen clenched his jaw, cutting off the flow of useless questions. He knew where. He knew how. He didn’t know the names of who, but he could still remember them staring at him in shocked silence. Gods! That disaster seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet it had returned to torment him.

Denial was pointless. He’d flubbed his chance for it, if the chance was ever there to begin with. Soubrette had him by the balls. And clearly, she was smart enough to realize her advantage. Yet, instead of threatening him with exposure, she pleaded for his help. That touched Julen. Slowly, his fear began to wane, and he addressed her with more openness than he’d formerly shown.

“If you think that’s Kira’s best chance, then I’ll do what I can to help. But we must be careful. I have friends. I have a wife. I can’t risk...” Julen trailed off. Clearly, Soubrette knew her way around Marn. She didn’t need him to say what he couldn’t risk. She’d be aware of the penalty for sheltering a rogue mage.

“Also, it’s not that simple. I don’t have full control of my illusions. I can only cast them while I’m singing. And they need to be related to the song.”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

The moment of his reaction was always going to be the most risky part of the whole process, but Quinn didn't let herself appear fazed in the least, as her mind said, if he lunges for the sword, make for the window. It's not too high, and even if you don't land it, better a broken leg than a sword wound. But then what? everyone around here will be on his side, not yours. Pray you do land it, then, and get out. Buy some time with Panterras and plan another feint on Kira's life. If he runs for the boss, you'll have to brazen it out. This is too important to just... oh. It was over. Sort of.

It could have gone a lot worse than that, and it hadn't, that was the main thing. He hadn't decided to deal with the pesky spy immediately, he hadn't gone running to his superior. Not one to revel in a success, though, Quinn immediately moved on to reassuring, because a nervous mage was a dangerous one, and a nervous confederate in a heist was what got you killed.

"To be honest, the people who saw you, my sources... they're not exactly on great terms with the authorities themselves. And they don't know your name. Probably only someone with the right underworld and theatrical contacts and a knowledge of the compound could have found you. So that's... well, me." To some extent, she was trying to convince herself. Contingencies were all very well and good, but nerves cost lives. "Kira's in a lot more danger than you. And we'll be careful." She shot him a winning grin shot with dread. "And hey, if anyone figures this for an illusion, I'm deader than you are. If it helps, I'll tell our intended witness it was me before he fries me, for all the difference it'll make."

She sighed. Okay, now the details. "Right. Well, this is what I needed to ask you about. So... can you put people you know into them? You.. sing what's in the song? Interesting... I mean, whatever your constraints are, I'll work with you the best I can. Hells, a singing show... the old man might just be sick enough to go for that."

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen experienced a little wave of relief after Soubrette’s assurance that no one else should be able to track him down. Her ability to find him still felt disconcerting, but it did seem that she was in a unique position to do so -- although Julen couldn’t help wondering exactly what sort of ‘theatrical connections’ an assassin might have? However, the question didn’t stay in his head for very long. The important thing was Kira’s safety. If he could help with that, then maybe his curse would finally do some good.

The dread in Soubrette’s grin didn’t escape Julen. “If this goes wrong, I’ll do my best to protect you. No one is going to ‘fry’ you without coming through me first.” Other men might have considered a more practical angle, since Soubrette’s death would mean one less assassin who knew a dangerous secret. But Julen was not other men. No matter that, minutes before, he’d been worried about Soubrette possibly trying to kill him. She was now an ally, and he would fight for her. To do otherwise simply never occurred to him.

With that settled, Julen focused his mind on the practical details. “I can definitely put people I know into my illusions.” Julen remembered the angel he’d conjured, who bore such a striking resemblance to Aranel. “But I still need a song to work from. You mentioned having theatrical connections...perhaps you could have someone write something for me?”

“We may have to involve the real Kira and pull a switch at some point.” Julen hated the idea of risking an innocent girl who’d already been through so much, but it was hard to see a way around it. “Perhaps you could tell Panterras that Kira really wants to hear a bard sing. So you convinced Uluki and Rollick to take her to see one. A private performance just for them, somewhere remote and secret, so Kira wouldn’t be put at risk.”

Of course, that meant bringing Uluki and Rollick into it. But that was inevitable. They’d clearly adopted Kira into their ever-expanding family and Julen wasn’t going to do anything without their full consent. Besides, if things did go wrong, having another fighter and a healer around might be a good idea. “We really should talk this over with them.”
Shim -- where the men are men, and the livestock are scared.

Re: Bargains

Post by Quinn on

Quinn shot Julen a slight smile, equally of gratitude and disbelief, when he promised to protect her. She'd heard similar sentiments from the white knight type before, even occaisionally directed at a persona of hers, but the actual purpose of the remark was always to enchance the knights status and subtly lower yours, or to get you into bed. This guy wasn't posturing or angling at all. It was matter-of-fact. Julen wasn't like any partner-in-crime she'd ever had - the agreement was always either that a promise of protection would be made and the words 'as long as it suits me' were understood to be tacked onto the end, or there was someone like Zaryel who probably would put himself between Zanni and an evil wizard, but he'd never say so.

"Thank you," she said quietly and, noticing that he had already turned to the practicalities, she did likewise, immediately looking more serious.

"Yes," she let a slight smile creep onto her serious-face. "The song. Here's the thing - I'm no composer myself, but not a bad poet. And I have here with me the score of an operetta by Innamorti that has never been heard before. It strikes me that there is most likely a song I could write new words to that would serve our purpose."

Julen's idea of a plan was good - so good, she found herself wondering if he'd done this before. "That's a great idea. Panterras would love the idea of Uluki and Rollick having to watch. I could tell him I've got people watching them to make sure they don't make any sudden moves. Put it in the song, even. I'll tell him the bard doesn't know about it, but that I paid him off to sing this eerily appropiate song."

She nodded, "Yes, we should talk to Uluki and Rollick. I mean, they knew vaguely what I was planning - they knew I was looking for you, only we didn't know it was you and it's complicated." Soubrette caught his eye, doing a sort of eyerolling don't-ask thing.

"We could leave now, if that's alright with you. Go and find Uluki and Rollick. I mean, if you have something more urgent then fine, but we shouldn't leave this too long. If we can sort out what we're going to do I can contact Panterras."

Re: Bargains

Post by Julen on

Julen looked intrigued when Soubrette mentioned creating lyrics for the song he would perform. An assassin who was also a poet? Certainly, the young lady was full of surprises. “That’s a good idea. The more you tailor the song to fit the situation, the easier it will be for me to cast the proper illusions. I’ll start learning it as soon as you’re finished. Maybe we can even figure out a way to do some sort of trial run.”

Hearing that Uluki and Rollick were already partially aware of Soubrette’s plan came as a relief to Julen. If those two had judged her to be worthy of their faith, it reinforced Julen’s own decision. He didn’t bother trying to sort out the tangle of how they could have known she was looking for him without knowing it was him she was looking for -- that could wait until a more leisurely moment. Right now, as Soubrette had pointed out, the important thing was getting this plan finalized.

Julen gave Soubrette an apologetic smile as he stooped to pick up his sword belt. “I’m afraid that I’ll need to put this back on. Outside of my room, I need to be prepared.” He hoped that she’d come to trust him more than when she’d asked him to remove it.

They hardly needed to search before coming across Uluki and Rollick. Seeing the couple walking hand-in-hand, chuckling over some shared joke, made Julen feel a pang of regret for the current state of his own relationship with Rosemary. But he quickly pushed it aside and focused on the task at hand.

“Uluki? Rollick?” Julen addressed them in a normal tone of voice, and then drew closer, so he could talk more softly. “I’ve been speaking with Soubrette.” This was followed by a nod of acknowledgement to the young lady at his side. “She thinks I can help with your plan to fake Kira’s death, and I’ve agreed to give whatever aid I can. Perhaps we should go somewhere private to discuss this?”

Re: Bargains

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((Continued from: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1583))


The expressions on Uluki and Rollick’s faces quickly became more serious when Julen addressed the matter to them, though their hands did not unclasp from one another’s.

“Of course,” Uluki replied immediately. She didn’t recognize the woman standing beside Julen based on appearance— judging by that factor only, Uluki would have said this was a stranger— but his words made clear this was the same woman who had posed as Asra and Miss Lewton, though the new name was strange. “We can speak in our room.” The girls were in the adjoining room, but as long as the matter wasn’t discussed too loudly there should be sufficient privacy.

Once Uluki and Rollick had led them to the small room where the two of them slept, Rollick said in a normal tone of voice, “We’ve been giving some thought to this plan as well. As we mentioned briefly to Asra… I mean, Soubrette… at our last meeting, Uluki and I feel it is not sufficient that we simply deceive and distract Panterras. If he believes Kira is dead he will leave her alone, but he will almost certainly immediately seek out a new victim. We would merely have deflected his evil from someone known to us onto someone unknown, and that is not acceptable. He must be stopped, and I feel that lethal force is necessary. I am… prepared… to carry out this measure of justice myself, but I am not sure how to do so, as he is not likely to prove cooperative about being killed, and I have no counter to his magic. The display of Kira’s death will be enough to attract him and to lull him into a sense of security, but if he sees me there, especially armed, it seems likely he will sense an ambush and flee in spite of the performance being enacted.”

“I had an idea about that,” Uluki suggested quietly. “Soubrette could take a message to Panterras that she has broken the spell that bewitched Rollick, and Rollick has decided he wishes to be free of me entirely and rejoin Panterras and the Council he seeks to form. I think Panterras hates me enough to believe that, especially coupled with his wishful thinking about Rollick. If Panterras seemed willing to accept it, you could go on to say that as a gesture of good faith, Rollick will betray and kill me in front of Panterras after you’ve killed Kira. That way Panterras won’t be curious about why either of us is there, and our presence won’t lead him to suspect a trap… or at least he’ll think the trap is set is for me, not for him.”

She looked over at Rollick, and could see him struggling with mixed feelings about the idea. On the one hand, he found the idea of betraying or harming Uluki abhorrent, even as a façade for his true intentions. Rollick was not prone to deceit, and was uncomfortable with even pretending to be capable of hurting his wife. On the other hand, he realized Uluki was right. Panterras’s hatred of her was blinding, and it was highly likely he would believe any word spoken against her, and relish any threat made on her life. It would be a practical solution to the problem he had voiced. After a moment’s silent consideration, Rollick merely nodded his acceptance of her suggestion, though it remained to be seen how Julen and Soubrette would respond to the idea.

“I’m also rather concerned about Kira in all of this,” Uluki admitted. “I’m concerned about how she’ll react to seeing her father. She may have trouble remaining calm enough to play her part, given how fearful the mere mention of him seems to make her.” Uluki remembered with a shudder Kira’s ragged gasps for air, her pleading on her knees for mercy, after Uluki and Rollick had returned from speaking to Panterras.

Rollick added, “It is also a worry how witnessing her father’s death will affect her. He is a cruel man who has done unspeakable things to her, but he has also been her only family for most of her life. I fear the trauma having to watch him meet his fate would cause her. And also, there is no small concern for the danger posed to her by this plan.”

Uluki nodded empathic agreement. “We have to make sure we will be able to keep her safe.”

As Uluki spoke, there was a soft knock on the door, then it opened and Dash slipped in. “I didn’t mean to overhear,” she said apologetically. “The others didn’t, but I was right by the door and I couldn’t help it. And I think… that you should let me go instead of Kira. I don’t think Panterras would be able to tell us apart, not if I wore a cloak to cover my wings and didn’t let him see my hands or feet.” The fact she had six fingers or toes on each would of course be noticeable if he did.

Rollick frowned. “Dashie, this will be very dangerous. The risk to Kira cannot be helped. We cannot ask you to risk yourself too.”

“You didn’t ask. I said I would. And anyway, I’d be in less danger than she would. I’m much better able to defend myself, and I’m harder to catch than she is if I needed to get away. Besides, I’ve killed people before.” This was matter-of-fact, not boastful. “It wouldn’t bother me as much to see Panterras die. Especially since he isn’t my father.” Well, in the rather obscure biological sense he probably was, but Dash felt no particular familial connection with him, not like Kira did. Rollick was the only father Dash acknowledged. “Please, let me help!”

Uluki and Rollick exchanged a glance. Much as they hated it, one of the girls they cared deeply about would have to be in danger, and Dash was right that the risk to her was less. And regardless, Dash was not a child, but a young woman. If she was willing to put her own life in jeopardy to protect another, it was her right to do so. Her willingness to sacrifice was admirable, and this wasn’t the time to stifle her independence, not for the sake of their own fears for her.

Uluki put their agreement into words. “If that’s what you want to do, we won’t stop you. And it’s a good, brave thing that you care so much about Kira. But the decision is not only up to us. Julen and Soubrette also have a say.”
Last edited by Lylessa Uluki on Tue May 13, 2008 3:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent




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