Rival Potion Shops: Eli’s Confession
Post-book 1, totally not canon, just a cheesy thing. Blame @pheita for this one! :)
Synopsis: Eli gets too honest when he’s drunk.
Word Count: 674
TW/CW: alcohol, food mention
Eli leaned over the table, set his chin on his hand, and smiled over at Ambrose.
“You’re so handsome.”
Ambrose shook his head and smiled down at his drink- his first one, half-full. Eli’s third cup was empty.
“That’s the fifth time you’ve said that.”
“Still true.” Like a rag doll, Eli sat up, then flopped onto Ambrose’s shoulder. “So handsome…”
“Eli, I’m gonna have to cut you off,” Dawn muttered into her own cup, eyes crinkled in a smile.
“S’fine.” Eli wrapped an arm around Ambrose’s elbow. “I have all I need.”
Ambrose gave an exaggerated sigh and kissed Eli’s forehead.
“No, you,” Eli shifted his head to smile up at him. “I love you.”
“Hey, Eli!” Someone waved at their table from across the bar. Eli sat up and squinted.
“Oh, hey!” He launched to his feet with a bit of a sway. “Be right back.”
As Eli wandered off, Dawn’s eyebrows lifted.
“I didn’t know you were at that stage yet,” she said. Ambrose couldn’t rip his eyes off Eli’s retreating back.
“We weren’t. We-, um…” Hands shaking, he turned to Dawn. “He’s never said that before.”
Dawn almost spit out her drink.
“What?” she spluttered. “That was the first-“
“Yes, that was the first!” His hand flew up to his chest, where his lungs were sprinting. “What do I do?”
Dawn shoved aside her cup and grabbed his wrist.
“Ames, look at me. Do you want to say it back?” Her gaze went serious. “You don’t have to. You know that, right?”
Ambrose couldn’t hold back a trembling smile.
“I know.” He covered her fingers with his free hand and squeezed it. “I- I want to say it back.”
Dawn beamed at him, eyes shining.
“I’m so happy for you, love.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Ambrose saw Eli turn back towards the table, and his panic spiked again.
“But I can’t say it back here!” He leaned towards Dawn, eyes darting between her and the man weaving his way through the crowd. “Not when he’s drunk, he won’t remember it-“
“Then say it first thing tomorrow!”
“Me? Say it first?” Ambrose’s heart pounded in his throat, and no matter how many times he swallowed, it wouldn’t go away. “No, I’ll just- wait for him to say it again-“
“You all right?” Eli asked. Both of them jumped and pulled away from each other.
“Fine, totally fine-“
“Quite all right.”
Ambrose could almost see the gears turning in Eli’s head as he frowned at them, then at the air. Thought back to the last few minutes. Realized what he had said.
A look of horror spread across his face.
“I fucked it up!” He clapped a hand over his mouth and staggered back. “I can’t believe I- oh gods, I didn’t mean to-“
“No, it’s all right!” Ambrose found himself on his feet, hands raised in reassurance, even as his heart stumbled in fear. “If you didn’t mean it-“
But Eli was nearly in tears.
“I was going to make dinner!” He ran his hands through his hair. “I was going to make you dinner this week, and then say it at dessert- oh my gods, I can’t believe I just- just said it, like an idiot-“
“I love you too!” Ambrose blurted. “There. We’ve both said it in the middle of a crowded tavern. Now we’re both idiots.”
They looked at each other. Behind them, Dawn burst into bubbles of teary laughter.
“You love me?” Eli breathed, grinning wide. Ambrose suddenly felt light-headed.
“Yes.” Giddy laughter escaped his lips. “Yes, I do-“
Eli closed the gap between them and kissed him, one hand at his cheek, the other at his waist. Ambrose pulled him closer, his thoughts swimming in the smell of beer, rosemary bread, and sunlight. When he drew he back, he took a shaky thumb and wiped a tear off Eli’s face.
“Are you going to remember this tomorrow morning?”
Eli kissed a tear off Ambrose’s face.
“I’d never forget it.”
RPS Taglist: @nikkywrites, @chayscribbles, @cecilsstorycorner, @theramwrites, @akindofmagictoo, @pheita, @c-h-a-n-d-ra, @jadeywrites, @wizardfromthesea, @woodhousejay, @writeblrfantasy, @magic-is-something-we-create, @47crayons, @viskafrer, @writing-with-l, @blindthewind, @talesfromaurea, @a-wild-bloog, @copper-dragon-in-disguise, @lost-writer-on-the-loose, @ettawritesnstudies, @inkovert, @zmlorenz, @extra-magichours, @jinglebellss, @kitblogsthings, @vermontwrites, @aurieeeeeenyx
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Mystics, Chapter 18
When Arch becomes hired on at Mystics by the strange shopkeeper Lyrem Nomadus, everything seems to be going well- in fact, their life nearly becomes perfection. Soon enough, however, Arch realizes that perhaps not everything is as perfect as it seems….
Read Chapters 1-17 and more HERE
Taglist: @myst-in-the-mirror, @livingforthewhump
CW: Gore, food gore, captivity, swearing.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: DINNER IS SERVED
Perhaps the floor wouldn’t have felt so rough- Perhaps the air would have felt less dry- Perhaps the bars wouldn’t have been staring back at Arch so mockingly- if…
If they hadn’t practically waltzed into their own prison. Perhaps it would have felt less humbling to be there if they had tried to fight back just a little bit. But it was impossible to do. It was like Paimon had every little one of their muscles at his beck and call. The thought of it made Arch sick to their stomach. They were disgusted with him- with themselves for being too weak to oppose his whims.
Arch stood in their cell, back to the door as they heard the clanging shut. They felt themselves released from the hold Paimon had and immediately they turned to charge the bars.
“Let me out you wretched animal!” they noted the distinct change in the way they insulted him. Usually the go-to word was bastard or jackass. Lyrem had really rubbed off on them more than they realized.
Paimon tilted his head and placed his keys within his robe. Its green silken sheen seemed drastically out of place for a cavern full of tortured souls.
“That’s no way to speak to your employer.” He wagged a single finger. “Consider this a verbal warning.”
“Fuck you,” Arch spit. Their hazel eyes still brought a fire of life to their words- all of it burning with the hatred of a thousand suns.
Paimon raised his eyebrows and moved on.
That had been… probably hours ago… maybe twelve? Arch had passed out against the cave wall for a while and when they had awoken, nothing had changed. Not a shadow moved along the corridor, and not a single discernable word echoed through to them. They heard screams, whimpers, and cries from men, women, and sometimes even the sounds of young children.
Their knees hugged up to their chin and they settled their cheeks into the crevasse they created there, allowing their tears to be soaked into the light purple chiffon and satin. And their feet, their poor feet ached. They didn’t know how long it would take the soles to heal, but Arch wasn’t betting that Paimon would be bringing them shoes any time soon- not after their last encounter… And there was no way in hell they’d ask for any.
The thought was tremendously tempting though.
The sound of clacking hooves against the ground forced Arch to wipe their tears away, determined to maintain their composure. Soon enough, Paimon appeared at their cell door with a glass of water in their hand.
Arch didn’t move an inch, but they shifted their eyes up, glaringly.
Paimon sipped on the glass silently, paying them no attention- refusing them the honour. As though he had planned the moment carefully, Arch found themselves swallowing, and suddenly becoming parched. None of their usual bodily functions seemed to be operating before now.
It was like Lyrem’s back room- Jess, Kyle, and Marcus never used a bathroom, never ate, never drank any water, and never died from it- even though the time Kyle and Marcus had spent back there without any form of sustenance would have been enough to kill a person. Places like Paimon’s home- places like the back room, were odd exceptions to this rule of human functioning.
Arch breathed heavily, though they tried their best not to show it.
“How long do you think it’s been?” Paimon asked, swirling the clear liquid in his hand.
“What?” Arch’s voice cracked. “I don’t know.”
They rolled their eyes and threw out a higher number than they would have regularly guessed.
Paimon looked over to them in mild shock. “Close… Eighteen.”
“Why does it matter?” Arch raised a skeptical brow. They found their eyes lingering on the water glass more than they would have liked.
“Because I have always been fascinated by the perception of time,” he admitted.
Arch blinked, and wiped a hand against their face.
“When can I see Lyrem again?”
“You won’t be seeing Lyrem for a very long time,” Paimon replied.
Arch fell contemplatively silent.
“You see? Perception,” he added, patronizingly. He emptied the glass and it vanished out of his hand as though it had never been there at all. “It’s fascinating. Guess how long it’s been on Earth.”
Their eyes focused on the rocky floor. They had no choice but to obey.
“I don’t know,” they answered, honestly.
“About ten minutes,” Paimon replied. He stared down at them with shining eyes. He turned around, his hooves clacking against the ground as Arch heard his words echo back. “Fascinating, I think.”
Arch was left alone again, with nothing but a bleak reminder that Paimon was more of an asshole than he ever let on as he had known them on Earth. Arch was still thirsty; and now they knew it was only because Paimon wanted them to be. What felt like many hours, had passed by again. At the knowledge of time being meaningless here, Arch didn’t bother to try and keep track of the minutes. They closed their eyes against the most comfortable of notches in the wall and allowed whatever time to flow, to flow as freely as it willed as they tried to sleep it off.
Their head lifted up from the wall with a sudden jolt as they heard a rumbling noise. The ground wasn’t moving like it had before, and then Arch heard the rumble again. They looked down, and grew annoyed when the sound originated from their stomach, carrying with it some small pangs of hunger.
A pressure in their forehead, made them wish to close their eyes again- and they also wished to have something soft… a pillow, a bed… a blanket-
Arch couldn’t afford to think like that. This was the game Paimon wanted them to play. He wanted them to bargain with him. He wanted them to ask for shoes and pillows and water and food. They would stretch their legs, sit back down and try to get some rest again instead of entertaining the notion for even a second that they would give in to a single one of their basic needs.
From far off down the tunnel, there was a wheel squeaking. It grew louder, and then outside the cell, Arch saw the shining silver rolling tray stop to park. Paimon wasn’t far behind it. There were two dinner settings, covered with their own silver warming bowls. Paimon lifted one of them off, and immediately the scent of a salt and pepper steak, roasted potatoes and mushrooms filled the air. Arch couldn’t help it; their mouth began to water the moment it was uncovered.
“Hungry?” Paimon asked with a slightly playful note in his voice.
“No,” Arch lied.
“Tell the truth.”
“Hm. Well, I have some good news for you, Arch. You and I will be enjoying a lovely dinner together.”
Paimon unlocked the cell door.
“Stay,” he commanded and Arch stayed, as if they had any other choice. “Good pup.”
He lifted one of the covered dishes and handed it to Arch as they stood warily in the corner of their small prison. Paimon returned for a knife and fork and set down a glass of water on the ground before locked the cell again.
Behind him, a simple stick chair materialized out of the ground below and he sat down in it, using the rolling tray as his table.
“Go ahead. Eat.”
Arch heard the command and sat cross legged on the ground, setting their plate in front of them.
Lifting off the silver warmer, it was soon clear that Paimon had not come to bring them any desirable meal. The dark red liquid ran along the sides of the plate and smelled much worse than the steak did.
That was because their main course was a raw human heart about the size of their fist.
Arch gagged at the sight, letting the silver clang noisily to the ground. They were going to be sick- any second now-
“Eat,” Paimon knew he didn’t need to repeat the command, he was just growing impatient and placed a linen napkin over his lap.
Shaking and pale, Arch lifted the knife and fork. Sticking it into the left atrium, they heard and felt the sickening pop as the fork broke through. Then, the knife slowly sawed away at a small piece. Arch gagged again before lifting the forkful to their mouth and wished they had a clothespin to stop the heavy scent of blood from rushing into their sinuses. It was warm on their tongue. It was probably fresh.
It was also rubbery. Hard to chew. Tasted… a little bit too much like metal and vaguely musty with a hint of… was that canola oil? Creamed corn? They shut their eyes tight. Hoping they could just imagine away the uncooked organ as some raw beef. They served that in France, didn’t they? The chewing took the longest time. With each bite down, Arch tried to ignore the rubber band sensation, but it was much harder to ignore the heavy taste of blood and the recurring thought that it had just been inside of someone’s chest.
They finally choked it down with a hard swallow as Paimon watched on with a smile. Arch shuffled to the side to pick up their water glass and drank it greedily as a stray tear rolled down the side of their face.
“I was worried that Lyrem would grow soft.” Paimon said, placing a small potato in his mouth. He chewed and swallowed and savored the delicious taste as he reminisced. “Before he had met me, he had nothing. He ran around the world searching for meaning and purpose at the behest of millionaires and politicians but it was never enough. I brought him true love, and in exchange I put his skills to good use. Then, like all men eventually, he decided that he wanted to settle down. He wanted to live normally; grow old with his love and start a family. Well, I certainly couldn’t have that be the reason for a failing business. The last thing I ever wanted was to see him fail... I kept him on the right path. I saw him through the worst of his emotional tribulations with Maria until she finally left the picture, and I convinced him to find someone to new to work with.
I wasn’t convinced by you in the beginning, I admit. You were too green for my tastes, and that is saying something. But, after I heard what you did for him, and what you did to your poor uncle, well… I realized that perhaps he did not make the mistake I thought he did.
Then, I heard that Hekate’s debt to Lyrem had been forgiven. She no longer wanted his life paid out in full so, there was no more rush for you. I could sense that he would want to pump the brakes on your advancement in this field. That is why you’re here. I need to make sure you progress properly. Go ahead, sweet thing. Eat up. It will make you big and strong.”
Arch had taken several bites already, but stopped as they listened to Paimon speak. They sliced into a side of the heart, allowing blood to escape and further pool into the plate.
“Whose heart is this?” they asked.
“Are you sure you want to know?”
A blink, and Arch stuck their tongue between a gap in their teeth in the effort to loosen a piece of tough muscle that had been lodged there.
“Probably not,” they replied, thankful for the response he gave. They took another bite. Arch burped and covered their mouth. “Excuse me.”
“It’s a bit hard to get down the first time. That is why I am here to help,” Paimon remarked understandingly. He was nearly finished his meal now.
“How did you meet Lyrem?” Arch inquired, carving out their next piece onto their fork.
“He threw himself off a balcony and I saved him.”
Arch’s eyes grew wide. They couldn’t imagine Lyrem to be anything less than self-preserving. He certainly couldn’t be suicidal.
“He threw himself off a balcony? … Why would he do that?”
“Because he was sad, and he was alone. Though, I never understood why he felt that way. He had it all, he had done it all. It turns out all he really needed was a good friend.”
“Pfft. You?” They commented. “You think you’re a good friend?”
Paimon raised a comical brow, unoffended and unironically he replied.
“Well, yes, of course.” He set his plate aside. “I taught him plenty of tricks until he nearly became a god himself. Of course, he will never reach that tier but I was the only one who encouraged him to follow that yellow brick road. Then and even now, all sorts of people; rich, poor, young and old, sought him out for favours of his own, or favours from me. All they needed was something… genuine. An ancient sacrifice, a recent sacrifice, …or something simply more valuable than money could buy, and we would be willing to make an offer and give them whatever they wanted.”
“And you want me to sell your… indulgences? Lyrem said it himself, I’m not the greatest salesperson. I’m not the same as him.”
“Oh, sweet thing, yes you are. Just look at you. You’ll carve up a classmate for Lyrem’s spell work- just as he once did for me. Right now, you’re eating a raw human heart to gain mystical power- not even he was willing to do that without a firm shove in the right direction. With just a nudge of encouragement from yours truly, you’re nearly finished your very first. You belong with us. Lyrem’s an old friend; he’s a business partner and you’ve signed on as an employee of this great enterprise.” Paimon’s eyes shone with the inkling of pride as Arch finished the heart in two quick bites and shoved the plate away. “In fact, one day, I believe you’ll make partner.”
They wanted to puke, but their body wouldn’t let them.
“Is this the way all your business meetings go?”
He laughed, throwing his head back.
“Only the important ones.”
Arch lifted their head; the life coming back to them that they had felt they had lost time and time again was returning now. Their feet no longer ached. Their head no longer pounded. Their stomach had been satiated completely.
“So, tell me then,” Arch began, “when do I get a raise?”