The Deep Dreaming

Faerie tales from beyond the veil to the streets of RhyDin

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Dom Lahart
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by Dom Lahart » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:11 am

There were five of them every night — five little drops of Mallory’s blood that blossomed into crimson moths, took to the air and started to look.

It had been a trinity together in the Forest of the World, nearly one year ago: Jewell, Belladonna, and the witch herself, bound together until the history of the sidhes’ hearts had been completely rewritten, the same as the old gods had done when the Forest was still new.

But there had been a witness, a white-haired harbinger of doom Mallory had seen in her periphery, and it was not the first tme. She had been waiting in the wings of the sanatorium while the girls of Summer fell, one by one; she had watched from the stairwell in Sanctuary while Kalamere said to Jewell, “Darlin’, fight this.” And if someone knew what had robbed Jewell of the memories of her children? Whether this had been an unexpected part of the price for Belladonna’s heart? This creature would know.

“Find her,” she told her messenger moths, and they took to the air to seek out this silent witness of death.

Witness, chauffeur, guardian to fae tongued lullabies. Many monikers were etched into her bones. The very cover art of her skin was literature that only old eyes could decipher. Everything that made up the glamour, the illusion, all the deceptive edges of what she was, were from faraway lands. Like a ghost, like the very wind, she was intangible for the most part; a specter at the crease of peripheral during emotional times. During death days, last breath whispers, one last smile --

Dominae didn't claim to be a villain, nor did she act as a hero. She drank like most did, found comfort in small things like the hum of a jukebox or the sex-sway magic of live music. Her tolerance for society, be it man or beast, was as high as the stars due to her patient pedigree. There was always something off about her, to mortal senses or immortal hearts; she was otherworldly with out attempting to guise it, immaculately put together, sitting firm on the fence between beautiful and bizarre. Pale as opals before their rainbow glisten with hair as white as starshine. Even in a setting like this where fools and ghouls alike paraded, she stood out.

The bar was dressed in heavy smoke from the nobodies sipping on their cigars and cigarettes. Whiskey and vermouth heavy in the air, sticking to the depth of shadows that blended in with the vermilion velvet seats and low booths trimmed in old gold. On the stage was a crooning woman, dusky in skin, vivid with her green sequin dress, hush-lipped with a sultry murmur that complimented the cover of Billie Holiday. Most of the light crowd were ensorcelled by the woman and her voice from the gates of paradise.

Even the long fingered primordial who let her hair down (and down it fell; waves and waves of blonde pearl) kept low-lidded attention on the star of the evening. Dom smoked a vanilla rubbed cigarillo, sipped on a concoction of blood orange and vodka, alone in the back where it was easier to linger in the anonymity. During a lift of her glass, however, something caught the unique color of her eyes.

A single moth settled down a top her table. It caused the minor hitch of a brow skyward as she took a drink. Hello, traveler.

It fluttered its wings as it settled, as if to return the greeting. Hello.

The smoke trailing from Dom’s cigarillo pulled towards the creature, past it to the empty chair across from her. Little motes of dust tore off of its wings, and it writhed on the tabletop as it came apart.

And suddenly there was Mallory, a long-limbed woman catching herself on the armrests as she came down from a few inches too high. The tension relaxed into grace as soon as she was steady, locking eyes with the strange creature across from her, canting her horned head at the harbinger of death.

“Hello.” Another greeting, as the witch took the bleeding tip of her left ring finger and rubbed it across her palm. There was a single drop of crimson on the table where the messenger had been.

Things like this were overlooked in a dirty gem like here. The very singer was not in a green dress upon closer inspection: They were scales, fluttering with every breath the siren took. A man behind the bar was no man at all but a satyr with a well groomed beard and beady eyes. A few that were out of their element were well kept with collars, preened to perfection, kept at the left and right of powerful men and women who were just as majestic as the fables told they would be.

Dom admired the work of the moth, the transcendence of blood to bone when the witch materialized. The riddle wasn't solved but the pieces were coming together; Dom noted the horns, the sly-fox and sloe-eyed look of the girl who was youth struggling against the weight of her past, present, and future.

She tapped ash into a tray, moving her attention from the bloodborne to the stage once more. "Would you like a drink?", she offered, her voice honey and smoke.

“Screwdriver. Thanks,” Mallory added, and settled in to study the woman across from her. She was still rubbing her fingertip against her palm, but the smears of blood had vanished — as had the offending cut.

Her right hand was covered in a simple black glove, which gave off the faintest heat waves and showed a slight orange glow that escaped from around the wrist, like a hooded lantern. But when she grabbed a cocktail napkin, it didn’t ignite, and she mopped up the remains of the moth from the table.

“I’m Mallory,” she said, watching Dom’s face to try to discern if she knew this already, as she folded the napkin in half. Then into quarters.

Mallory's study of Dom would reveal what the world might see her as. Her style of dress was a romantic evolution of the decades, modern yet with intricate designs of something ancient. Plunging neckline, pointed shoulder pads, the wrapping of Grecian the soon billowed near her ankles. No specific markings such as tattoos or scar tissue, just creamy skin that often times seemed to shudder with a gossamer shine. Features were crafted, maybe, from marble for how sharp they were, save for the pink pillowing of lips.

Hand rose to capture the attention of a wandering server with snake eyes and a wrist thick braid that wept to the right side of their shoulder. With out a word they seemed to know what to gather and made a journey for the bar while Dom was still wrapped up in watching the woman on the stage, behind the smoke of her favorite man made vice, but was aware of how Mal looked at her.

"You have horns now.", recited in the same tone, the timbre of cooled lyricism. That was an obvious suggestion that she knew Mallory well enough to find that she was different now then she had been then. Ashing the cigarillo again was like a trigger pulled; her eyes going sidelong to look at the horned witch across from her.

“Magic has a price.” The witch’s mantra spilled forth easily, but this time it came with one of its many caveats. “But the price isn’t always this obvious...” The scaly flash of the siren on stage drew the witch’s gaze, and she listened to her as she slipped the napkin with the red spot into her pocket.

“You were with me, in the Forest of the World... but you shouldn’t have been there. Who are you?”

Dom smiled, a crescent thing that was sharp on one side and soft on the other. It was a good compass to how her station was neutral, riding the wave of the limbo as it was what made her. Threaded together, braided tightly, in the injustice of her dreamt up being. "Yes, it does, doesn't it?" Quietly appreciative of the new equipment Mal was fixed with. Complimentary in her lack of judgement to them.

"I had no name when I was created. Not like many things do now. I adopted my own name, made it myself. I go by Dominae, now, but before then I was simply the Black Dog, White Dog, Red Eyed Dog -- the list goes on." Describing her own creation was not hard but the historical intricacies were hiccups in comparison to the truth. "Please, call me Dom."

Cigarillo was finding its own life snubbed out in the tray when the Screwdriver was brought to the table. Another mix of blood orange and vodka was escorted with it. "I'm old, Mallory. Very old. You've found me drunk on this woman's voice, though; I am death for those beyond the Veil. Do you understand now?" Not a lick of impatience. Not an ounce of threat, intimidation, or egotism. She spoke carefully but in supple twists of her tongue, like that of a scholar to a prodigy.

“The Black Dog.” That belated echo, and the nod that accompanied it, and the way her eyes grew wider, served as Mallory’s answer. She understood.

“So a... guide like you...” The witch struggled with wording the question, shook her head slightly, and pulled her drink closer. Her nails clicked against the rim. She frowned. “Did you see... everything that changed hands, when I transformed Jewell’s heart?”

Dom crafted her smile once more. Enigmatic in the shape alone when it blended into the expression she made. "I'm not fond of that moniker." A murmur just before a drink of her cocktail.

"I did." To the point, blunting the answer with a small incision of her tongue a long the white of her teeth. "I am not a creature to command the rules be followed, though; you were there, after all, when you shouldn't have been. Peculiar, if not admirable. You must have done quite a bit to succeed in such." Dom lit a new cigarillo; this one wafted with black cherry and amaretto, intoxicating in how heavy the sweetness was. "But you are not here because of the Forest of the World, are you?"

“...I suppose I’m not,” Mallory said, though this was new information to her. “I thought... maybe, that Jewell had lost the memory of her children when Belladonna’s heart became her own... a subtle price of the ritual I hadn’t expected,” she conceded with a slow shrug, and drew her drink closer for a sip. There was always something she didn’t expect. “But that’s not when she lost those memories?”

"No.", Dom answered, breathing out a drape of thick grey from between her lips and her nostrils. A batch of silence was hefted in between them; she did this as the siren captured the attention of the audience with a flutter of her lungs and the pitch of Echo.

"You are not responsible for the loss of her memories. I am." A statement that wasn't forced or cajoled; she offered it willingly, a confession that was uncanny for how it was put together. "You are no stranger to the hefty prices that are paid when striking bargains with things bigger than you. Everything has a cost, everything is worth something, and all that must be equal or else no deal can be bargained for." She looked at Mal now, the whites of her eyes gone and the wine-dark color appearing shark like. "Sapphire was going to die. It was written as her fate. I came to collect as I always do, and as I always will, but -- the Empress. She will give and give until she has nothing left to offer, all to save those she loves."

Mallory blew out a long breath, blinking rapidly to hold back the dampness in her eyes. “Sapphire...” She and her friend had faced danger together what felt like countless times, but she hadn’t known just how close to death she had come. She nodded mutely through Dom’s words, about just how much Jewell gave of herself, something that would surely be played over and over in her head later...

...but when she felt her voice was steady enough to speak again, her thoughts went to more immediate consequences. Her best friend had been on death’s door, and now she was alive. “Thank you... thank you for giving her a choice,” she said, lifting her head to meet Dom’s gaze.

Ever enraptured by the depths of emotion that people displayed, Dom was quiet in her surrender to watching Mal. To being a rare witness to the genuine adoration she held for Sapphire, the news causing trembles in an otherwise hardened heart. A moment to share in it with her yet her expression seemed stoic, save for the sulking of lids over her eyes.

"Don't thank me yet, sweet witch; there are always consequences to bargains." Cautiously stating with a confident look shrouded over her face. Mallory understood more than most that a pound of flesh was worth another pound of flesh -- there had to be a balance. An equality. "But, you are welcome." Splitting a casually dressed smile near the cigarillo when she swallowed down more smoke.

“Still.” The way Jewell paid for this would be subtle and show different forms over time, she was sure; but the witch always valued agency over powerlessness, even if the choices won were impossible to make.

“Do you mind if I stay and listen to the rest of her set?” Mallory asked, her gaze moving to the siren on the stage, the ache in her heart soothed by the way she sang. “I’ll buy the next round.”

"Of course not. Stay awhile, drink with me. I would enjoy company." Even if it was in quiet thoughts, both creatures of blood and glamour listening to the songs of a muse.

( Co-written with Mallory. )
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“That is the eternal folly of man. To be chasing after the sweet flesh, without realizing that it is simply a pretty cover for the bones.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
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Sapphire Ravenlock
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by Sapphire Ravenlock » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:34 pm

Sapphire slouched on the bench in the sunshine, face tilted up to enjoy its warmth. She couldn't resist the feel of the sunlight on her skin. A reminder that she was alive and healing. Slowly but healing. "Mom always said the politics of duel of swords was just as important as skills. That guy should have had a Renegade on hand if he wanted one. People don't just step in out of the goodness of their hearts, you know?" She cracked a blue eye and looked aside at her friend with a grin.

Mallory hummed thoughtfully at that, chin dipping just a little, because she too was turned towards the warm sun. There was a decent pile of winter clothes under her side of the bench, jacket and hat and flannel shirt and boots and socks, and now she was only in cuffed jeans and a tank top. “Maybe it’s just been a while... I don’t know. But last night felt like a good challenge — you know?” The witch turned her horned head to her friend in kind, and grinned, too. “But I might be biased.”

"It was pretty good," Sapphire relented with a quiet laugh, her lungs unable to produce their usual, more raucous offering. "For real though, it was great. All tense. Shade being thrown. What could be better than that?" She had been a little more reluctant to shed her winter layers, but it was really too warm within the Solarium to cling to the hoodie sweatshirt. She pulled it off now, making a mess of her hair, revealing the mess of wounds that marked her chest and arms, disappearing beneath her tank top. The skin was raw and red in places still but getting better every day, and Sapphire was only mildly self-conscious about it. "Makes me look like a real badass, right?"

Mallory’s expression slowly fell as Sapphire pulled off her sweatshirt, revealing the array of wounds — the creature who called himself He Who Tears and Destroys had clearly earned his name. “Yeah — that’s your certification.” Mallory pulled up her own tank top over one side, enough to show the claw scars there and the zigzagging, howling spectral face tattooed among them. “They’re yours. Own them.” Advice from someone who’d been living with them for a while already. She adjusted her top back down and gave Sapphire a small, reassuring smile.

She smiled, observing the tattoo blended with Mal's scars in admiration. "I should bum some money off J and just turn the whole mess into tattoos. One big painting across my body, but maybe I'll wait and see what's left. They said it'll take months before my skin fully heals anyway. Just enough time for you to think up an awesome design for me, yeah?" Sapphire draped her sweatshirt onto the back of the bench and slouched again.

“We can definitely come up with something. I’m already in that mindset — I’m trying to come up with two more before Beltane and...” Immortality. Sapphire knew. “I, uh...” The witch faltered. It was a difficult subject to broach. “The thing that gave you the scars? I consumed its soul,” she intoned quietly, with a dangerous narrowing of her eyes. “Least I could do for my sister.”

Her eyebrows shot up almost comically. There was a lot to what Mallory just said: mentioning her eventual immortality, consuming a demon's soul, calling Sapphire her sister. The blue haired woman wanted to grab her and hug the bejeesus out of her. She wanted to burst into tears. Instead, she exhaled all those conflicting emotions with a little laugh and asked, "How'd he taste?"

“Like he’d gone bad.” The witch’s lips curled. She was holding back a laugh.

There was a little note of hysteria in Sapphire's laugh as tears stung her eyes and she leaned over and grabbed Mallory for a hug. "Thank you," she said quietly.

“Anything. Anything,” Mallory promised, squeezing Sapphire in an embrace. As she let go, she left her hands — one bare, one gloved — on Sapphire’s shoulders. “You’re alive. You’re here. That’s what matters the most.”

"I'm here." She repeated, though who that reassurance was for was unclear. "But I mean it... the thanks." Sapphire discreetly wiped at her eyes and nose. It was one thing for Mallory to see her tears, but there were two cute guys walking by. "I know Jewell said you guys took care of it, but I keep seeing that thing in my dreams and... well, it doesn't matter. He's gone. You took care of it. I know I don't have to worry about it."

“Yeah... he’s gone for good.” Mallory slid her hands from Sapphire’s shoulders, her face falling into a frown, eye contact dropping away for a moment. “The... I learned something about Jewell, and her memories. I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to remember every little detail about the ritual with Belladonna, assuming I... did something, when I changed her heart, an... unexpected consequence. And I remembered we weren’t alone there, the three of us. There was a... fourth witness... right there, in the Forest of the World.”

"There was someone else there?" The relief Sapphire felt turned into confusion, her brow furrowing. "What do you mean? Like... Ishmerai, Issy, and I were all there but we weren't there with you in the Forest."

Mallory’s brow furrowed. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen her, either. Out of the corner of my eye, in Sanctuary... in the sanatorium, with Abene and Almast... I can’t describe her.” But she was a witch: she removed her right glove carefully, revealing flesh that resembled glowing embers, and willed a small burst of fire into her hand. It took the shape of a strange feminine figure with white-blonde hair, different colors imparted by the intensity of heat in the flame, a fiery illusion of what Mallory remembered. “Her name’s Dominae. And she’s... Death, as far as the fae are concerned.”

Sapphire's heart beat wildly in her chest, and she found herself rubbing her palms along her thighs to dry them as sweat broke out across her body at the vision hovering in Mallory's hand. "I've seen her. Mal, I saw her. That night, in the club. I saw her. She was there. Jewell was arguing with her. She wanted to touch me and J... she was angry." The words came out in an anxious rush, her head pounding as she began to comprehend why the remembrance of the white haired woman upset her so deeply. Death. Death had been in the club that night. It had come for her. "When I asked Jewell about her after... she didn't know what I was talking about. Said it was the drugs. I thought it was just the drugs."

“...It wasn’t,” Mallory said, and with her left handm, reached for one of Sapphire’s. Her gaze rose again to meet her friend’s. “You... nearly died that night. And she was there to lead your spirit beyond the Veil.”

She took a deep breath, her grip on Mallory's hand painful even though her gaze was distant. That was a lot to comprehend. "Shit." She took a deep breath to steady herself and ended up with the same reaction. "Shit." She was supposed to die. She was supposed to be dead. She shouldn't be sitting here with Mallory right now. For the first time, Sapphire understood the confusion and miasma of feelings Jewell had dealt with upon waking up in the hospital after Kalamere had stabbed her in the heart. She wasn't supposed to be alive but she was, and that was confusing as fuck. "Wait..." her blue eyes focused on Mallory, narrowing. "Why didn't she take me then? If I was dying, why am I here?"

“You know... how my magic works. Nothing is free,” Mallory began with a deepening frown. “It’s built on very old, fundamental rules, and Death plays by the same rules. She couldn’t leave empty-handed... but she gave Jewell a choice. Equivalent exchange — the life of her child, for those memories.” Her heart ached as she said it, and she kept her eyes on Sapphire’s and her hand in her painful grasp, trying to will herself to somehow be there more for her friend in this moment.

"What?" she shook her head in numb disbelief, even going so far as to laugh. "That's ridiculous. That doesn't make any sense. No. Jewell wouldn't do that. I'm not even her child. That's not an equivalent exchange. You're smart Mal, but I think you've gone off the track this time."

“But... you are.” Mallory squeezed her hand emphatically. “You’re my sister, and I’d do anything for you... the same way I’d do anything for my brother, Patrick... the same way Jewell would do anything for you, her daughter.” Mallory bit her lip, thinking for a moment before she could think of the words. “Sometimes family isn’t blood... sometimes it’s a choice we make.”

Mallory's insistence, the truths she was throwing at her, silenced the further denials that were forming on her lips. She stared through her friend, her sister. She stared past her, trying to make sense of something that just did not make sense to her. Could not. "She gave up the memories of her real children... for me?"

“Yeah. She loves you that much, Sapphire.” Despite Mallory being the one to comfort Sapphire, there were tears in the witch’s eyes, and she carefully wiped them with the back of her right arm. “I, um... I tracked her down. Dominae — Dom. She told me what the deal had been, and why.”

"I didn't know," she whispered. Her eyes were surprisingly dry, even when she finally focused them back on Mallory. She was stunned. Shell shocked. That anyone cared for her that much... it was too much at odds with her perception of reality and the truth that she had always believed: that she was just a substitute kid for all the children her mother had lost. But not to this Jewell. It was easier to grasp on to what did make sense -- anger. "I want to see her. How could she take those memories from Jewell? That's all she had of them!"

“It’s the only thing Jewell had that was worth you. Death can’t leave empty-handed.” That said, Mallory withdrew her hand to replace her glove carefully, and to pull out her phone. “I can text her... see if she wants to meet.”

When Mallory took her hand back, Sapphire deflated on the bench, slouching bonelessly with her legs stretched out before her. "No. I mean... maybe not yet. I don't know what I'd say. Or do. I don't even know what I want to say." She wiped her hand over her face before letting her head just clunk back against the top of the bench, "Shit. This is messed up. Like really messed up."

“Yeah... yeah, I agree,” Mallory said, clicking her phone shut. She cradled it in her palms, turning it over idly, frowning down at it. “...I can’t believe I almost lost you. And... I’m glad that you’re here. I’m sorry she had to make that choice, and that it’s something you have to deal with now, too... but I’m glad you’re here.”

Sapphire had let her eyes drift closed again a moment in the face of the sun, but she turned her head to look at Mallory with open insecurity and vulnerability. "Then you think she made the right choice? You don't think she regrets it... or I mean that she would if she could? If she knew?"

“I really, really don’t think I’m the only one who’d do anything for you, Sapphire. If she knew... she’d make the same choice all over again.” Mallory tried to catch her eye, and offer her the edge of a smile. “Sometimes the way you show love isn’t by eating a demon or setting some cultists on fire, but by making hard choices. Those are my ways of showing my love — they’re just not the only ones.”

"Yeah." She said a bit hollowly before repeating it with more assurance and the ghost of her usual smile, "Yeah. You're right. People can show love in a lot of different ways." It was a testament to her unflinching spirit that she picked something particular out of Mal's heartfelt words that turned her smile into a grin, "Did you really set the cultists on fire for me?"

Mallory’s lips curled into a rather sinister smile as she canted her head at Sapphire. “Sapphire... for you, I made them regret it.”

Damn her lungs, she laughed as hard as she wanted to at that. "I would have liked to have seen that!"

“Did you watch any of the vids of Gren’s test? That was the sword I used. I even told them...” Mallory cleared her throat, then tipped her head forward again, making a great show of narrowing her eyes and making her expression grim, and giving her voice more of a low rasp: “Jewell Ravenlock sends her regards.”

Despite the solemnity of parts of their discussion and the weight on her heart knowing what Jewell had given up for her, Sapphire practically howled with breathless laughter, prompting several people nearby to glance their way askance. She laughed so hard and so long, she had to wipe the tears from her eyes. "Oh... oh you're the best ever, Mal."

((Adapted from live play with Mallory!))
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by JewellRavenlock » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:58 pm

“Hey kid. How’s it going? Did you have a nice time with Mal?” Jewell glanced over her shoulder into the living room. She was laboring in the kitchen doing Mother Nature knows what much to Sapphire’s dismay. The elder faerie really did not belong in the kitchen. Instead of crashing on the couch like she wanted to and badly needed to, she trudged around the peninsula separating the rooms and crashed into Jewell instead, draping her arms around the smaller woman, her chin landing on her shoulder so she could see what she was up to. “You okay? You look worn out. I told you to take it easy.”

“I did,” she mumbled. “What are you doing? You know you’re not supposed to use the kitchen unsupervised.”

Jewell blushed a little, “I thought I’d make us dinner tonight.”

Sapphire grin was part grimace, “How’s that going?” It didn’t look like it was going well at all.

“About as well as to be expected,” the Empress sighed, shoving the cookbook away from her. “What do you want tonight? Pizza?”

“Yeah, that sounds good. If I can stay awake for it.” Her large yawn was not at all exaggerated.

Jewell gave her a little, careful side-squeeze. “Go lay down. I’ll call it in and make a salad. I can’t mess that up.”

“Oh yes you can,” Sapphire teased affectionately with a laugh, releasing Jewell and moving back towards the living room while the faerie dragged out the garbage can and swept the contents of whatever she had been trying to make (it was supposed to have been some kind of casserole but it certainly didn’t look like one) off the counter into it. She almost made it all the way to the couch before she turned around and returned to Jewell’s side abruptly, throwing her arms around her as she tried to look up the number for the pizza place and hugging her tightly. “I love you.”

The older woman was taken aback by the sudden display and words of affection. She could count on one hand the number of times she had been in such a position. Her mother had passed away when she was young and without children of her own, Jewell wasn’t used to the spontaneous outpouring of unconditional love from anyone other than the few romantic partners that had come and gone from her life over the years. Hence the moment of hesitation before she wrapped her arms back around Sapphire with a smile hidden in the girl’s hair, “I love you too, kid.” She did. Whole-souled and unconditionally. For a brief moment, there was the fleeting feeling that this was familiar, that she had held someone else like this too many times to count, but then it was gone and it was just Sapphire there with her. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”

“Yeah,” Sapphire reassured her, not letting her go just yet. The weight of everything Jewell had given up for her was heavy on her heart. “I just wanted to make sure you knew that.”

“I…” Jewell took an unsteady breath, admitting quietly on the exhale, “I know it.”
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by Sapphire Ravenlock » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:26 pm

Sapphire fidgeted with her chunky shield ring as she walked alongside Mallory down the cobblestone street. Their pace was leisurely enough (for her sake), but she still felt a little breathless. Anger, dread, and gratitude made for an uncomfortable cocktail deep in her gut. She was about to face death incarnate. Few fae were comfortable with death, and Sapphire was really no different: raised on tales of immortality and the undying lands. Even though she had come face-to-face with death several times over the last year, it was still an uncomfortable thought.

And now she was going to have drinks with Her.

Mallory reached out her right hand for Sapphire’s, covered in one of Alasdair’s special gloves but still warm underneath, a reminder of her love for the woman she now called “sister.” She gave her a reassuring smile as they stepped up to the narrow door between a dye factory and a cramped brick office building.

There were no markings on the door, and no handle to turn, but it opened for them when the witch offered a name to the empty air: “Rassathel.” She of Horns. A set of brick steps led down to the basement level beneath the two neighboring buildings, with a small bar along one wall and a stage on the opposite end.

There were two things worth noting about the speakeasy. One was that every piece of furniture, every decoration seemed to be made with crates, pallets, barrels, bottles, and drinking glasses. The bar, the tables, the stools, the stage, every light that filled this place followed this rule, seemingly taken from the massive cache of supplies that covered the entire back wall, protected by a hemp cargo net -- and more than a few wards, if the owners and clientele were any indication.

The second thing worth noting was that nearly every being in here was fae.

“Right at home,” Sapphire remarked with a glance around at the few patrons sipping on sidecars. It was a bit of a joke since home for her was RhyDin and unlike Mallory, she had never once stepped foot in the Lands. Still, there was no mistaking the young woman for what she was: noble blood with pointy ears and true blue hair. Her eyes cooly scanned the room as if in casual interest, but she was looking for the woman she knew without a doubt that she would recognize.

Dominae was the polar opposite of the swell of warring emotions that hiccuped in Sapphire’s body. A stone cold marble fixture with a shock of white hair that swam in the smoke of the back booths. Grey remains of a sickly sweet cigarillo wavering like ghosts from her lips. Death enjoyed mortal vices; she smoked, she drank, she admired those in the limelight of the bar as a voyeur should. Especially here, where most were of the mythical pedigree of Arcadia. She noted how they moved further from her, on instinct, unsure why but completely submissive to their natural impulses. And because of the way she made the crowd part, she was easily found by those who were searching for her.

She less spotted the duo and more felt the presence of both but once they made dock in the vast depth of her eyes is when she tilted her head to quietly signal that they should join. Death, you see, was a social drinker.

Mallory released Sapphire’s hand and smiled faintly at Dominae’s silent invitation, settling onto one of the thirty-gallon oak barrels that served as seats at her table.

At first it appeared there were no servers, but the bartender looked to the witch for eye contact and she nodded. He raised a finger, and a tiny pink pixie with a massive plume of green hair like a carrot top came shooting over to the table. “Hîm,” Mallory intoned, ordering in Sylvan -- there were more here who did not understand Common than those who did.

“Same,” Sapphire offered to the little pixie as she settled onto the barrel next to Mallory. On a normal day, she would have admired the server’s green hair (having an affection for anyone with unusual hair), but it was Dominae that held her attention wholly and completely. “Hello,” she finally said after simply staring at her rudely for a half-minute too long without offering any kind of greeting. It had been a half-minute of assessment and deliberation, though what she decided about Dom in those thirty seconds was unclear. “I’m Sapphire.”

And she did the most normal thing she could think of: she offered Death her hand to shake.

*****

“Well that’s an experience that should go in my scrapbook. Drinks with Death. Should have gotten a selfie with the three of us. Maybe add a skull and crossbones border to the page?”

“Right after setting a giant worm on fire and getting blackout drunk inside a comet.” Mallory paused. She had to check. “Are you okay?”

Her laughter was slowly losing that breathless quality from her injuries, but it tapered off into a sigh. “Yeah. I guess. I mean, it still sucks. I like being alive, but I hate that it cost her so much. I can't be mad at Dom though. Not really.” Sapphire kicked at a bottle cap littering the cobblestones. “It just is what it is I guess.”

Mallory was quiet for a long moment, frowning over Sapphire’s words and the vagaries of life and death, and all the unfairness they contained. There were no words. She slung her arm around Sapphire’s shoulders and gave her a careful squeeze. “Hey. I know the doctor said to watch the drinks and the smokes, but she didn't say anything about edibles. Come hang out with me and Eri.”

That wasn't an offer she couldn't easily resist. Especially not tonight. She leaned into Mal at the squeeze, nudging her with her shoulder. “Then we better pick up some snacks on the way.”


((Co-written with Mallory & Dom! Many thanks <3))
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by Sapphire Ravenlock » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:29 pm

“And where did you sleep last night?” Sapphire looked up from the batter she was stirring and waggled her eyebrows at Ishmerai as he entered the kitchen, barefoot with his dark, wet hair pulled back in a low ponytail. The long-sleeved shirt he wore covered a majority of his blighted skin, and he had left the glove for his hand behind in his room. Neither Sapphire nor Jewell seemed disturbed by his injury.

“And what business is that of yours, hm?” the knight asked with a hint of a grin as he took a seat at the kitchen peninsula. It had been over a year since they had done this—a year spent in Faerie, their little family unity put asunder—but after a single evening back, their old familiarity and camaraderie easily returned as if no time had passed at all.

“That’s what I thought,” she laughed and then dropped that line of conversation. It really wasn’t any of her business what Ishmerai and Jewell were up to behind closed doors (even if she was extremely curious). Sapphire set down the bowl of batter and poured the knight a cup of the coffee she had put on the second she heard the shower running, passing it across the counter to him. “She was really happy to see you.”

“And I her.”

Sapphire smiled, letting the batter sit and thicken a few minutes as she retrieved her own cup of coffee and leaned back against the counter behind her. “I bet.” She took a sip of her drink before getting right to the point on something she had been dying to mention to him from the second he stepped through the portal with Mallory, “Did you notice anything odd about how she was acting or anything she said?”

Ishmerai’s brow furrowed, his eyes instantly narrowing. There was no rest for him it seemed. “Odd how?”

“Like…” now that this moment was here, she didn’t know quite how to approach it, “she was forgetting certain things. Missing memories?”

“I did not. We were chiefly concerned about your health and recovery.”

She shook her head, “I’m fine.” He raised a brow. The lingering map of scars still criss-crossed her body, visible beneath her tanktop and shorts. “I am. The scars are even fading already. I’m not the one you have to worry about.”

“Still, I worry. But what is this about Mira? What has she gotten into now?”

Sapphire shook her head again, “It’s not her fault this time. It’s my fault. That night at the club when I got hurt? It was… well, it was worse than I knew. It was bad. Really, really bad. I was dying, Merai. I had lost so much blood and--”

There was a sinking feeling in his stomach as he cut her off, “What did she do, Sapphire?”

“She made a bargain for my life,” she gushed out the guilty confession.

A bargain. Jewell had made a bargain for Sapphire’s life. A bargain for something she would consider absolutely invaluable.

His voice turned hard, “Tell me what she paid.”
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by Ishmerai » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:59 pm

Ishmerai was more subtle than Sapphire about how he approached Jewell’s memory loss. He waited. He listened. He listened for what she did not say. The children she never mentioned. He watched. He watched for the things she no longer did. Jewell did nothing on Mother’s Day this year. No visit to the cemetery to weed the flowers she and Sapphire planted a few years ago (Sapphire admitted to Ishmerai later that she took care of that); no tears at breakfast when Sapphire gave her a hasty kiss on the cheek before popping back to her own time to be with her birth mother; and no little sighs throughout the day when they took a walk along the river and saw families together.

The knight was at a loss. He did not seek Dom himself as Sapphire had done. From what she had relayed, the bargain had been struck fair and square with Lady Death. Jewell had even been given a chance to see her children in the Deep Dreaming before they were taken from her one more time. Nothing could be done about it without putting Sapphire’s life in danger, and if he knew nothing else, he knew that Jewell did not want that.

Still, she deserved to know, but it was weeks before he finally said something.

“Mira, we need to talk.”

“About what?” Her smile was so sweet, so untouched by loss, when she turned to him, shading her eyes from the sun with her hand, that he wanted to stop. He didn’t want to tell her. Didn’t want to ask. He wanted to leave that part of her past behind and never look back.

It was his duty, though, to tell her, yet even duty could be ignored at times. It could be ignored for love.

Ishmerai cleared his throat, “About the court. I think you are going to need more knights.”

She shrugged, “If you say so. Put some names together and I will look them over. All right?” she smiled at him.

He smiled back, “All right.”
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by JewellRavenlock » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:05 pm

“Why would she write something like that? It’s just… it’s so weird!”

Jewell ranted as she stomped about the breakfast parlor of the Seaside Baronial Manor, doors thrown open out into the lush, courtyard garden. A copy of Rhiannon’s response to Jewell’s acceptance of the challenge was clutched in her hand, unreadable. She had been unable to respond and schedule the match as the would-be baron’s words had agitated her very soul.

I couldn't help but notice your discomfort around children or is it just the presence of my niece, Maggie, that troubles you? Perhaps, she is a reminder of someone lost to or stolen from you.

She wanted to brush it off. She did. But she couldn’t seem to manage it. She had tried time and again to sit and pen an obnoxious response fitting for The Empress, but the gnawing, scratching feeling inside her stomach--that of a monster clawing its way up into her chest--was untenable. She could not sit still. Her thoughts raced in circles and her feet mimicked them as she paced the room.

Something had come undone inside her.

“It’s just preposterous. I mean, it’s not even true! It makes no sense. Has she lost her mind?”

Still, the words ate at her.

Someone lost to or stolen from you.

There was a glimpse in her mind of dark blue hair and a sweet smile. The ghostly feeling of chubby little arms thrown around her neck. The memory of the sweet smell of baby powder and lavender. As soon as she tried to latch on to it, they were gone and Jewell was left empty save for the sad feeling of deja vu and the vague sense of something important forgotten or overlooked.

Ishmerai stood by, watching her carefully. Tense. He knew what Rhiannon referred to, and he cursed her for it. In the same breath, he had to acknowledge that this day had been inevitable. If not the Warlord looking to sting his lady then someone else would have mentioned them to her. And someone else.

The world had not forgotten the Ravenlock children even if Jewell had.

As she went to make another circle of the room, he reached out to take her hand. “Mira, come sit with me a moment. There is something I must tell you.”
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Re: The Deep Dreaming

Post by JewellRavenlock » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:46 pm

Seven. Seven children taken by Faerie. Sapphire almost died. Lady Death. Bargains. Selling her True Name. Vengeance. Killing Muiren. Killing Conventina. Killing everyone. Amanda. Moradin. Sapphire almost died. Devyn and Kerrick. She had made a bargain for her life. Eva Jade, Raven, and Oz. Cher’s kids entrusted to her. Dead dead dead. All gone. Gone beyond memory. Names with no faces. Names with no memories. Betrayal. Revenge. A visit to the Deep Dreaming. A deal with Death.

She was going to be sick.

Sapphire had tried to tell her. She had tried, but Jewell hadn’t listened. The blue-haired girl had been on so much medication. Even now it didn’t make any sense, but Ishmerai wouldn’t lie to her. He was in his right mind. He would not make this up.

None of this felt real.

“Breathe, Mira. I need you to breathe.”

“I’m trying,” she gasped out. “I can’t… This… this isn’t real. This can’t be real.” She was hyperventilating, her mouth full of saliva as bile threatened at the back of her throat. “Is everything a lie? My memories… Mother of Nature, everything about me is a lie.”

“No no. No no no.” He knelt in front of her, brushing her hair back off her forehead. “Do not think of it that way, Mira. It is like your heart.” He tapped her chest lightly right over her scar. “You have always had this heart, though Mallory gave it to you but a year ago; just as you have never had children, even though you once did.”

She closed her eyes, “I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know.”

She looked so miserable, so lost, shaking her head back and forth as she tried to reconcile what he had told her, that he could not stop himself: “I will go to her right this moment if you want. I will seek her out. I will get your memories for you.” Whatever the cost.

“No… No don’t.” She shook her head again, trying to breathe in through her nose and out through her mouth slowly to calm the roiling tide inside her. “It would put Sapphire at risk.”

“I would never,” he swore.

“It would put you at risk.”

He brushed back her hair again, “Any risk is worth taking for you, my lady.”

“No.” Her tone was final. Firm. She swallowed back the panic threatening to overwhelm her. “I cannot let you. I will not.”

“But Mira--”

“I said no.” They sat in silence for a moment, at an impasse. “Maybe…” she took a deep breath. “Maybe what you’re saying is true. Maybe… damnit, I even know it’s true on some level,” her laugh was part sob. “Sometimes… Mother of Nature, sometimes I know it is. I see a little girl run past me, and I get this ache in my chest. Or when I held Hyacinth’s baby for the first time, it just felt so sooo right. I knew where to put my hands, how to hold her, and it just felt right. And in moments like that, I know that I had something precious once. I know something is missing.

“But I lost them, didn’t I? You’re telling me I lost them all.”

“You did through no fault of your own,” he responded quietly. “They do not have to stay lost though, Jewell. We can find a way to get them back for you, even if it is just the memories of them.”

The tortured little faerie shook her head, “I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe it’s awful of me. Maybe it’s selfish and wrong, but I don’t want to put anyone at risk. I don’t want anyone sacrificing anything for me. And Ishmerai…” she hesitated a moment, but this man, this knight, knew the worst of her, “am I really better off remembering them only to remember losing them all over again? I don’t know. I don’t know if I can handle it.” She leaned forward, forearms along her thighs and her hands digging up through her hair, fingertips pressing into her skull.

When she looked up at him, there were tears in her eyes.

“Maybe some things, some people, are better left forgotten.”
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