Forged With Fire - Deleted Scene #1
What’s this? Actual, original work?? Yes!
Since Forged With Fire is written from Sloan’s perspective, this scene never would have been in the final work (she’s literally unconscious here), but it’s also a bit too soft tonally to fit where it would have shown up in the timeline.
But! I loved the idea of Moses, who has done nothing but growl at everyone up to this point, make a family dinner (while growling at everyone).
Also trying on a different name for the hacker yet again, this time it’s ‘Zélomé‘ (zay-lo-may), which I completely made up. We’ll see if it sticks!
Zélomé tacked at her keyboard while Moses paced back and forth in the kitchen in front of her.
“We need food,” said Moses suddenly, “For when Sloan wakes up,”
“Sure,” Zélomé said absentmindedly, “There’s some take-out menus in the cupboard under the sink—we can—”
“Take-out?” Moses had stopped pacing and was staring at Zélomé.
“Yeah,” said Zélomé slowly, glancing at Moses, “You know, like, food? From a restaurant? Not everybody can survive on like, powerbars and protein shakes or whatever it is you subsist on,”
“Ugh,” said Moses, making a face. “What food do you have here?”
“I don’t know,” Zélomé shrugged, although Moses had whipped open her refrigerator before waiting for an answer.
“You...don’t have any vegetables in here,” said Moses.
Zélomé rolled her eyes, “No. They go bad before I use them—why would I bother?”
“Do you have any kind of protein at all?”
“You’re the one looking in the fridge,” Zélomé went back to her typing, “There’s some cans of stuff in the cupboards, too...somewhere,”
Moses closed the refrigerator with a tap of her foot and began opening and closing the cabinets, pausing when she found one with unopened spice jars and canned food. She didn’t need to stand on her toes like Zélomé did to reach the top shelf—she easily picked up a few cans and examined the labels.
“You have three cans of hominy, but no milk? Or eggs?”
Zélomé shrugged again, “My mom always had some in her pantry. Why, did they go bad or something?”
“You don’t—” Moses stopped and shook her head, "No, it’s canned. It’s fine,”
She placed the can of hominy beans on the counter and began rummaging through the cupboard again, murmuring to herself as she pulled out more cans and spices. Zélomé continued her half-hearted research on Bishop: she had a good handle on his finances and investments now, as well as his public reputation and business relationships, but the real information would be in much darker places. She didn’t want to venture there now. She was tired.
Zélomé stared blankly at the screen for a few more moments before sighing, closing her eyes, and placing her hands over her face. She usually felt so inspired after a job—even when they went wrong. And this one hadn’t even gone that wrong—they were all still alive, weren’t they?
Okay, they hadn’t gotten paid for their trouble—that sucked—nor did they still have the painting itself. But no one was after them. At least, not for the moment. Sloan would figure something out, surely. Wouldn’t she?
“Have you ever even used these knives?”
Moses’ question nearly startled Zélomé out of her weariness—she removed her hands from her face and looked over at Moses, who was examining the probably dusty knife block shoved into a back corner on the counter.
“Maybe,” Zélomé replied.
“They’re nice,” said Moses, and Zélomé was surprised to hear the note of admiration in her voice. “Is it alright if I use them?”
Moses nodded, “Where’s your pots and pans?”
“Pot and pan—singular. They’re over there,” she pointed to a cabinet Moses hadn’t yet rifled through. Moses sighed, but opened the cupboard and pulled out the almost-new cookware. She set them on the stove and clicked on two of the burners before opening some of the canned vegetables on the counter and draining them in the sink.
Zélomé watched with fascination as Moses deftly chopped or minced the assortment of ingredients arranged in front of her. She had assumed Moses was good with knives—anything sharp, or anything that could be sharpened, really—but not like this. Zélomé’s mother was an excellent cook, and she’d had roommates who would have considered themselves aspiring chefs, but Moses was on a whole other level entirely.
Alright, so Zélomé’s only frame of reference for professional chefs came from fast-paced reality TV shows, but she was pretty confident in her assessment. Moses was quick, and deliberate, and precise, and at the very least really looked like she knew what she was doing.
“Where’d you learn to do that?” Zélomé finally asked, after staring at Moses’ hands for probably too long a time.
“Around,” Moses replied, not bothering to face her.
Zélomé rolled her eyes, “Like where?”
Moses stopped chopping and started to fill the pot with water, “My parents. Travelling. Just...around,”
“Hmm, travelling. Right. I didn’t realize black ops agents needed to be trained as chefs too,”
After she set the pot back on the stove, Moses poured some kind of oil into the pan, “Anything can be used as a weapon. Knowing the ways food can be prepared means you know the ways it can be tampered with,”
Zélomé covered her face in her hands again, “Oh, my God. I was kidding, Moses. Is that seriously it?”
Moses shrugged as she picked up the cutting board and swept the chopped and minced vegetables into the pan with one swift motion.
“My parents taught me first,” Moses said, after a moment.
Zélomé perked up—something personal? From Moses?—but held her tongue. If Moses was going to share, it was most definitely going to be on her own terms, not because Zélomé was prodding. But Moses didn’t say anything else, only stirred the pan on the stove.
Whatever Moses had put in the pan started to sizzle and smell familiar—like onions and chilis, although where Moses had found an onion, Zélomé wasn’t sure.
“What are you making, anyway?” she asked before she could stop herself.
Moses flipped whatever was in the pan—peppers, maybe?—with ease.
“Pozole,” she said, “Or, a variation of it. Pozole verde, I guess. You didn’t have any meat,”
No wonder it smelled familiar.
“Meat goes bad faster than vegetables—plus it’s more expensive,” Zélomé said, feeling defensive.
“You wouldn’t have shit going bad at all if you actually used it,” Moses tilted the pan and scraped the vegetables into the pot, which made a loud bubbling sound, “Or do you not know how?”
“I know how to cook!” Zélomé huffed, “I just don’t have the time,”
“Make time,” Moses put a lid on the pot, which quieted the bubbling.
“What’s the point? Fast food is cheaper, take out is easier. I don’t—”
Moses turned around to face her, throwing a dish towel—where had she gotten a dish towel?—over her broad shoulder and crossing her arms.
“Cooking is important. Making food for yourself is important,” She didn’t look upset, exactly, but Moses was staring at Zélomé with such intensity it made her want to squirm. Zélomé had seen Moses intense before—just before a particularly heated fight, or just after a low blow from an opponent—but there was something else fueling her here.
“It’s human—to make food, to create something,” she continued, “It keeps you grounded. Connected. To humanity,”
Zélomé tilted her head slightly—so, she could get Moses to let down her walls after all.
“Or, you know. Whatever,” Moses muttered, turning around and beginning to pick up the dirtied utensils.
“Here, let me,” Zélomé hopped off her stool and joined Moses at the counter, “This I know how to do,”
Moot and Eirelandais
People like to think that to snap, something has to happen. Some precipitating event, big or small, that is nevertheless different from the thousand repeated indignities tolerated prior. But nothing different had happened. The same unwanted hand making its way up her leg as she waited tables. The same undesired breath on her neck, whispering the kinds of things she had no interest in hearing. All of it exactly the same as it had been for nearly the past three years. All of it she had put up with, every day, relentlessly, until one day Eirelandais realized she could not tolerate it any more.
The apothecary, Eidle, had to die.
Like most nights in his life, Dubius Moot found himself in a tavern. Like most nights in his life, someone, somewhere, was trying to kill him, or at least have him killed. What was unusual for Moot was that at least one of those people was his former mentor, and because of that he’d had to flee her and the city he loved trying to survive in. He’d made it far enough by now that no one in the tavern seemed to have any idea who he was. That was unusual too. Back in the Bryc, at least one person would’ve recognized him by now, offered him a drink—but no matter. The goal was to get as far from Opelia’s reach as he could.
Though he’d stolen enough to pay for his lodgings honestly, he couldn’t resist engaging in enough misdirection and sleight of hand with the tavernkeeper that the man would be paying Moot for the privilege of having Moot sleeping in one of his beds.
“And let me know if any of the girls catch your eye, we can add it to your bill,” the tavernkeeper said to him, oblivious to the money he’d just lost.
“Ah, hah, hm, yeah,” Moot replied, doing his best not to wince. He hated men like these, but the world was too full of them to fight them all. He took a watery ale toward a seat in the back corner and resolved to steal more of whatever he could before he left in the morning.
Eirelandais watched the traveler passing money back and forth with her uncle, quite certain he’d left her uncle poorer for the exercise. Her uncle, the idiot, had a look on his face as though the traveler had paid him double. She smiled to herself. The world finds ways to punish the deserving.
She watched the traveler as he was preoccupied at the bar, hoping to observe him without catching his eye. He clearly was not from around here—humans had come through before, but they were few and far between, particularly for a town that wasn’t on the main road between Cliath and Enniscorthy. His dark, curly hair was pulled back in a careful ponytail from which a handful of wild strands had still managed to escape. His clothing looked like the deliberate sort made to be sturdy, but not look too nice lest people realize what kind of money you’ve really got. Most of it was still covered by his dark hooded cloak.
Eirelandais managed to look away before the traveler turned in her direction. Best not to catch his eye. Best not to make this night any more complicated than it needed to be. She glanced at Eidle, already at his usual table near the fire. His cold, greedy eyes met hers. Tonight, she thought to herself. It will be tonight.
Moot kept walking but stopped the mental inventory of what appeared to be most easily stealable ranked by value and weight. He mentally cursed that slithering weasel of a tavernkeeper, because a girl had caught his eye. It wasn’t her long blond hair, gathered high on her head, nor the steady way she carried herself across the room on those long, inviting legs. It was the look she gave, one that went unnoticed, there for the briefest moment and then gone. Dangerous and determined and deadly. And most importantly, not directed at him. His heart beat a little faster, for the first time in days not over some imminent crisis or threat to his own life. He sipped his ale and watched her surreptitiously, hoping she’d do it again, or look his way, or come talk to him. The night was young, and there weren’t many other girls working. Surely she had to talk to him.
Oh. But that meant he had to come up with something good to say. This was an unusual problem. Nothing came to mind. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been at such a loss for the right words. But as he continued to watch her as discreetly as he could, as she approached some average-looking creep at a table by the hearth, he found himself overwhelmed with the desire just to talk to her, and for her to want to talk with him.
“My sweet baby bloom,” said Eidle in a low voice, his fingertips brushing against the nearest bit of exposed skin he could reach. “My delicate young flower. That man—” he flicked his eyes in the direction of the traveler “—is staring at you.”
Eirelandais felt her pulse quicken in irritation. Of course, the human would bring himself trouble.
Eidle reached out for her arm, pulling until she was forced to lean over awkwardly toward him, his lips nearly touching her ear. “You’ll need to slip him a drink, before he tries anything.”
This was unnecessary. Eirelandais knew what to do. Eidle didn’t need to tell her.
“And bring me something I like,” he said. He boldly tried to nibble her ear, but she had already straightened back up again.
She kept her eyes down, and murmured, “of course, Eidle.”
The traveler was a detour, a diversion, and the perfect distraction. He would need to be poisoned—the usual blend, something to cloud his memory, preoccupy him with uncomfortably lusty dreams, and leave him with a little headache in the morning. He would be fine. And Eidle, the apothecary who had foolishly taught her everything he knew about poisons so he could keep her all to himself, who would not have suspected how sharp this delicate young flower could become, well. If she got the dosing right, he would not be fine.
Moot wondered idly to himself if it was feasible to be in love with someone you hadn’t even spoken to yet. Because he was quite certain that the girl was going to kill the creep by the fire, and he loved her for it.
The longer he sat thinking about it, the higher the stakes got to come up with something to say to her besides, “hi” and “can you get me a drink?”
He started quietly reciting pick up lines to himself to see if any were so bad they circled around to being good again, and was so lost in thought he didn’t notice as she slipped right past him to the kitchen.
Eirelandais stared thoughtfully at the cup as she prepared it. Fortified wine for both—Eidle’s favorite, and she found in her experience the poisons tended to compliment the flavor of the wine, bringing out a subtle complexity. She wondered about dosing for the human, and hoped they weren’t too different. She’d check on him later, just to make sure he was still breathing. She didn’t worry about toning down the dosing for Eidle. He’d built up a resistance to a good many poisons. She made sure his would kill him.
No one was listening to him, so Moot gradually brought his volume up to conversational level to try out various tones of voice. “Is your dad a baker? Because those buns look amazing. Are you a thief too, because I think you’ve stolen my heart. If I told you that you have a nice body, would you hold it—ugh. No, no this is all wrong. Maybe if I just—”
“Excuse me, sir?”
Moot panicked. It was her. “Is your dad an amazing thief because I think you’ve stolen my buns,” he blurted out. Oh, no.
Eirelandais laughed, a genuine giggle she couldn’t help. “I’m sorry, maybe I don’t need to offer you this drink.”
“I’m sorry, that was. Hm. I’m not normally. Hm,” he sighed, frowning at himself.
Eirelandais had been feeling anxious as she approached, but as she watched this young man trying to pull himself together she smiled. “Well, I haven’t met too many humans to say if you’re what would count as normal.”
“Apologies,” Moot said with a smile, his thoughts finally catching up with his mouth. “To be fair, no, I suppose I’m not normal. But,” he waved his hand, “enough about me. I seem to be finding you so intriguing that my mind doesn’t know how to deal with it. Won’t you sit down and tell me your name?”
“Why don’t you stand, and offer me yours?”
Moot gazed up at her, unable to control his grin, resting his chin in his hand as he admired her. “Quite honestly? Because I think you’re a lot taller than I am, and I’ve already given you good reason to laugh at me. I’d like to keep that one in reserve, in case you need something new to smile about. Also, I’m a little bit on the run and haven’t come up with a good fake name to give out yet.”
“It’s Eirelandais,” she said, setting a cup of wine on his table. “I can’t come sit with you while I’m working, but have a drink on me, and I’ll see if I can think up a name for you.”
“Eirelandais,” he repeated, taking up the cup, toasting it to her. “Thank you.”
Eirelandais chided herself. She had enjoyed that too much. She hadn’t meant to really talk to him at all. She’d been repeating to herself—left, traveler, right, Eidle—until she’d gotten close enough to hear the traveler talking to himself. He had looked like he would be the sort of person to know exactly what to say to someone, and it surprised her that he wasn’t. She hoped Eidle hadn’t noticed them talk, her laugh, her expressions unguarded. She took his cup to him. It would probably be at least an hour before his poison took effect. Eidle was just barely sneering, sitting at his table quietly seething. Of course he had noticed.
The wine was good—surprising to find in a nowhere town like this—but after half an hour or so Eirelandais had not come back with a fake name for him. Moot decided to go back to the bar for another watery ale, since there was little point wasting the amount of time or money it would require to get him drunk on even the good stuff. He didn’t want to deplete the town supply. Just give him something to do with his hands. Perhaps he’d come across an excuse to trade a few more words with Eirelandais. He stood up.
Or, tried to anyway. His body disagreed completely, and the room suddenly felt about fifteen degrees off from the axis where he had thought it had been. He stumbled back down into his chair.
“Oh, no?” he whispered to himself in confusion. This was an unwholesome new feeling. Moot had a legendarily high tolerance and built resistance to every known toxin, powder, and otherwise vile concocted liquid. He’d never successfully been poisoned before.
His arms felt very far away, and a little bit like his fingers were on fire. He pressed his palms firmly to the table, holding on onto the surface so that he wouldn’t slide off. He would be a magnet for pickpockets if he ended up on the floor.
“Eirelandais,” he whispered, trying to look around for her without moving his head, trying to summon her through sheer force of admiration.
Eirelandais saw the movement out of the corner of her eye. The traveler looked like he’d lost all cooperation with his legs. That was fast. Human dosing must be different. She had better help him.
“Drunk already?” she asked, moving the cup and the mug off to the bar.
“We need to talk,” he slurred confidentially.
She checked the time. If Eidle died at his table, well she could just slip out the back, perhaps. She glanced at Eidle. He did look like he was making a strange face.
“Come on,” she said, offering her arm. “I’ll help you to your room.”
He managed to stand, leaning heavily on her and clinging to her arm. He looked up at her, his rich brown eyes wide and glassy. “Oh, spirits help me,” he mumbled, “I told you you were taller.”
He leaned his head against her arm, and she couldn’t help but laugh.
“Youuuuuu,” drawled Moot, trying to unbutton his vest as he fell over sideways on the bed, “Are. Amazing.”
Eirelandais shut the door and looked him over. His cheeks were flushed, his eyebrows looked like they were sweating, and she started to wonder if an antidote might be needed. That was doable, but not something she had time for.
“Run away with meeee?” said Moot, trying to roll over. “I think alluv youuu,” he slurred.
Eirelandais tapped her fingers against her chin, thinking while he rambled, trying to decide what to do. She liked the traveler, and wouldn’t feel right leaving him to potentially die just because he was human.
Moot managed to push himself up and tried to wave her over. “’M serious. This’s serious,” he slurred, clearly working hard to be as understandable as possible. “D’you know, d’you KNOW, that no one, no one has ever, ever, EVER managed to poison me before? Y’gotta teach me, y’gotta tell me, ‘s gotta be enough poison to kill a man, his mother, ‘n the horse they rode in on.”
Eirelandais shook her head. “It’s a common poison. You’re just human.”
Moot slapped the bedcover indignantly. “No. M’best friend is the most poisonest man to ever mix two liquids in a bottle, in all of Innisfail ‘n Ivernia. Common poison’s m’breakfast, lunch, an’ middle name.” A thought managed to occur to him, and for a moment he looked like he could cry. “Did Opelia send you? To kill me? Ohhhh no, you reeeeeally did trick me…”
“What? No!” Eirelandais snapped. “Who? No. I’m not trying to kill you—”
Moot gasped, loudly and dramatically. “I knew it,” he hissed with glee. The unbounded look of adoration returned to his face, then slowly slid to a frown, attempting to think. “But you did give me poison.”
Eirelandais tried to remember. Which cup had she sat down, and which one had she carried over? She thought she knew. There were only two cups.
“—and a lesser man than Dubius Moot would be dead before you, y’know, you’re very lucky,” he drawled, trying to wag his finger vaguely in her direction.
She slumped against the wall. The wrong poison. Could it be possible? Surely the traveler was just wrong. But if he wasn’t? That meant Eidle would not be dead. Nor would he be asleep from a poison he’d designed. A poison he knew the taste of. The face he’d been making. She was in trouble.
And her only help was too incapacitated to even come up with a good fake name.
“Dubius Moot?” she said absently, her mind still hoping to avoid reality for a few more moments. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be.
“Oops.” He clapped his hands over his mouth.
“That’s a terrible fake name.”
He sighed. “That’s ‘cuz it’s my real name. You were s’posed to help me witha fake one.”
“Mm? Call me Moot. Mos’ friends do.”
“Moot? I’m in trouble.”
These were the facts: it should not take Eirelandais this long to put the drunk to bed. He had seen them smiling. She was his. And she had tried to poison him.
This would not do.
She could hear his footsteps coming down the corridor, recognized them immediately, like so many nights before.
“Eirelandais,” Eidle called softly. “My sweet little blossom, whatever are you up here so long doing?” His tone seemed gentle, but she could hear the sharp edge, the seething rage simmering beneath, the promise of violence yet to come. She held her breath, hand on the doorknob, waiting.
His footsteps stopped outside the door. She felt his hand rest on the doorknob. “Please don’t make me have to teach you a lesson,” he said as he turned the handle.
Now. Eirelandais jerked the door inward, pulling Eidle stumbling forward. Dubius Moot exploded haphazardly from a crouch beside the door, his solid frame connecting into Eidle with a crash that knocked Eidle’s head against the footboard. Eirelandais quickly slammed the door shut again, but Eidle was out cold. For now.
Moot rolled off him and peered closely. “He’s breathin.”
“For now,” said Eirelandais, hurriedly undoing Eidle’s belt, yanking it roughly out of the belt loops.
“If you think you can stand, help me,” she said, slipping the belt around Eidle’s neck as she tried to reach the other end to the top of the bedpost.
Moot got as far as his knees before falling over again, and did the best he could from there to push Eidle’s slumped form upright enough for her to tie a knot. She braced her shoe against Eidle’s neck, pulling the belt as tight as she could, then arranged him into an obscene tableau before taking the money from his pockets.
On the little table, she left a note –“For Eirelandais”—and the money from Eidle. Perhaps it was enough to cover the debt her father had sold her for. It would have to do.
Moot had managed to drag himself upright, propped against the other bedpost. Eidle, raggedly, was still breathing. For now.
“Do you…still want to run away with me?” she asked.
Moot burst into a smile as he clung to the bedpost. “More’n ever.”
“How do you not have a horse?” hissed Eirelandais, struggling to hold Moot upright with one arm while she searched for the key she had taken off of Eidle.
“Horses...can’t climb trees,” he managed to get out. He slipped out of her grasp, hit hard against the side of the building, and just barely managed not to throw up on either of them. He’d really hoped that vomiting would at least make him feel a little better, but that was not the case. “Might not be ok,” he muttered.
Eirelandais got the door to the apothecary’s shop open and pulled Moot inside. There was nowhere to put him, so she lowered him as gently as she could the rest of the way to the floor and let him curl up on his side. She had been here enough times to know what she was looking for, the jar full of powdered charcoal sitting next to the jug of cold, clear water drawn under the full moon’s light from the allegedly enchanted spring. She wasn’t sure she bought all that, but it was good, clean water. She poured it into an empty bottle and carefully dumped in several heaping spoonfuls of charcoal, then sealed the bottle shut with the palm of her hand while she shook it. This wouldn’t fix everything, but it was a start, and it would buy Moot some time so she could think.
“You need to drink this,” she said, sitting him upright, “and try to keep it in you.” She helped him hold the bottle to his lips, and it took all his concentration not to spit the gritty liquid back out at her. “Keeping it in,” he mumbled, clutching the empty bottle as he sunk back down to the floor.
It wasn’t merely that she’d poisoned him with any one poison--it was the combination, the unique ways the poisons had been brought together, treatments and mixtures Eidle never would have dreamed of, the unique interactions resulting in a constellation of symptoms that no simple antidote could cure. Not that Eirelandais had put any thought toward making a cure when she’d thought and mixed it up. Now she wished she had.
She tapped her fingers on her chin, trying to remember what kinds of rare ingredients Eidle kept on hand. She tried opening a few small drawers, but found them locked--a different key, of course, was needed. She swept her hands blindly along the top of a few high shelves, hoping another key would appear beneath her fingers. No such luck. She spared Moot a glance. He’d begun to shiver, teeth clenched. She didn’t have time to think of something better than finding more ways to shovel charcoal into him. She doubted that would be enough. He needed a healer, and there was only one person in town who knew any healing magic.
The apothecary’s wife.
Eirelandais quickly straightened up the things she had moved, grabbed a few vials that looked like they would be worth having, and helped Moot off the floor. He was soaked in sweat.
Eirelandais had never met Eidle’s wife. She had heard a good many cruel things about her, but Eirelandais always suspected her only true crime was having been young once. And loving Eidle, perhaps. Still, it would not look good to wake her up and bring her to Moot laying on the floor of her husband’s own shop that Eirelandais should not have had a key for. She shut and locked the door behind them, and pocketed the key. She’d considered slipping the key under the door, but what if Eidle’s wife led them right back into the shop? The sight of the key without its owner wouldn’t lead to anything good.
It felt like Eirelandais was the only thing holding Moot up at this point. They made it to the door of the home attached to the back of the apothecary’s shop, and Eirelandais rapped sharply, urgently on the door while her mind was racing. What was Eidle’s wife’s name? Should she address her by name? What would she tell her? What would make her ask the least amount of questions? What if she didn’t wake up?
The sound of movement came from the other side of the door, and a wary female voice--”Who goes there and what do you want? It’s late.”
“Please,” said Eirelandais. “Are you the healer? I believe you are, it’s my friend, I think, I think he’s tried to poison himself.” Why did she say friend, why would she have some random human friend, there aren’t any humans in this town, come on Eirelandais. “I’m Eirelandais, from the tavern just down the road.”
“Ah.” A pause--the door was still chained shut, but the apothecary’s wife opened the door to peek out at them. “One of Corrigan’s girls.” She had tried not to mean any judgement by it, but Eirelandais could tell she’d taken the term ‘friend’ euphemistically. Fine. Whatever.
“Please,” said Eirelandais again. “We gave him some charcoal for it but I don’t think it’s enough.”
The older woman sighed. “Bring him in,” she said, shutting the door long enough to undo the chains. “I can’t promise much, I’m no great healer.”
“Thank you,” said Eirelandais, as the two of them helped lay Moot out on the couch. “I don’t think you can do much to make him worse.”
“It’s a shame you’ve come when my husband is away. He’s a great apothecary, could probably help your friend more than I can.” She sorted through a series of bottles in a cabinet on the wall. “I’m sure you could find him in town--”
Oh no, thought Eirelandais, absolutely not.
“--but by now he’s probably too drunk to do much good. So you’ll just have to settle for me. My name’s Aellys, by the way.” She set some bottles on the table by Moot with a mortar and pestle, and took out a sharp needle. “Any idea what he took?” she asked, holding the needle in the flame of the candle on the table.
Eirelandais shook her head. Would the knowing make a difference, when magic was involved?
“Do you know his name?”
Eirelandais looked at Moot’s troubled face. He’d asked her for a fake name.
“I think he said his name was Dolan.” Dolan - unlucky one. Probably not what he would have picked, but certainly an accurate reflection of how his night had gone.
Aellys chuckled a little to herself. “No wonder, with a name like that. Well, let’s see what we can do to help. Hold the bowl for me, I need to get a bit of his blood.”
“Dolan?” said Aellys, raising her voice as if it might be heard over the pain. “This might hurt a little my dear, but then again everything probably hurts right now doesn’t it?”
Eirelandais held the mortar while Aellys pricked one of Moot’s fingers with the searing-hot needle. She squeezed a few drops of blood, and then knelt by the little table, speaking softly in the sort of long-dead language reserved for the use of magic while she added a sparkling gray powder from one of the bottles. Aellys ground the powder with the blood, and added enough liquid to the bowl that it would be drinkable. Eirelandais watched nervously, hands clenched and feeling useless, as Aellys continued to chant. Aellys waved her over, and motioned for her to take Moot’s hand while Aellys helped him drink the mixture, all while continuing the spell. Once the mortar was empty she stopped, and let Moot lay back down on the couch.
“What now?” asked Eirelandais. “What did you give him?”
“Now we wait,” said Aellys, clearing away the table. “I gave him something I’ve been holding onto for many, many years. Charcoal made from enchanted helix horn. It was a wedding gift, if you can believe it.” She smiled, but there was a hint of sadness to it. “You hold onto these things waiting for the right time to use them, and then you never use them. It seemed like the right time. Might as well use it.”
Eirelandais watched as Aellys closed the cabinet. Did she know who her husband had been, when he wasn’t at home? Perhaps she knew all too well. Perhaps she hadn’t wanted to know, and had been content to stay at home and ignore whatever rumors and whispers managed to reach her. Eirelandais was too afraid to ask.
“Wake me up if you need me, and sleep if you’d like. I doubt you will though. There’s nothing more either of us can do for now, dear.” Aellys patted Eirelandais on the shoulder, checked the locks on the door, and went to the bedroom. Eirelandais wondered if Aellys had been waiting for Eidle to come home. Maybe that’s what she’d done every night.
Moot had fallen into a fitful sleep. Eirelandais found herself wanting to brush the stray curls off his face, but resisted. She looked at the strange, soft curves of his ears, and this time she could not resist reaching out to feel one. She could feel faint scars beneath her fingertips. Moot shifted onto his side, and Eirelandais quickly pulled her hand away.
Eirelandais found the most uncomfortable chair in the room and pulled it over by the couch so she could keep an eye on Moot without falling asleep. Aellys had been kind, too kind. She would probably make a good enough apothecary. But Eirelandais didn’t intend to find out. They needed to leave before daybreak. Eirelandais stifled a yawn. She would carry Moot like a sack of potatoes if she had to.
Moot’s consciousness came struggling back to him. The first thing he noticed was pain. He had thought he’d felt pain before, but those were mere inconveniences. This was Pain, perhaps the worst he’d ever felt, screaming through every ounce of his existence. If he wasn’t dying, someone should have let him, because this was the most cruel and tortuous experience of his life. His skull felt too small, and his brain felt like someone had yanked it out through his mouth and slammed it back in upside-down through his eye sockets. His stomach was in a confused and untenable state, feeling simultaneously hungry enough to eat a horse, yet too nauseous to even speak. The taste of devil ferrets haunted his tongue. Everything was awful.
The second thing Moot noticed was the feeling of a hand pressed on his mouth (oddly comforting, for the moment, because it made him feel like he could keep all his insides inside of him with someone else fortifying the gate), very nearly blocking the air from his nose too. A poor attempt at smothering? Maybe they were just getting started. Another hand was shaking his shoulder. He opened his eyes unevenly, blinking in the dim pre-dawn light, trying to get his bearings.
Eirelandais. Very close. Her hand on his mouth, as she softly shushed him. If she was trying to smother him, well. He found himself strangely alright with that. Existing right now hurt. She leaned a little closer to him and whispered, “We need to leave.”
Moot nodded as little as possible, closing his eyes. If he could just go back to sleep, maybe forever, he might feel better. Yes, that would do. He felt dimly aware of the hand leaving his shoulder as he tried to drift back into the less consciously painful embrace of sleep. Two fingers slowly pinched his nose closed, cutting off all his air.
Eirelandais let go as soon as Moot’s eyes flew open. “We need to leave now,” she whispered fiercely. “Come on. Can you stand?”
Moot made quiet noises of protest as Eirelandais pulled him up off the couch. He gripped her arms, white-knuckled, as waves of pain and nausea hit him. He focused on his breath, harsh and intense, in and out, in and out through his nose, mouth and eyes clamped shut. For a moment he merely stood there, clinging desperately to Eirelandais, frowning and furrowing his brow as he battled every awful feeling that fought for his attention. Need to leave now, she’d said. Even if he’d wanted to question it, there was no way he’d trust himself to speak feeling the way he did. He gave a little nod, and waved a hand in what he felt was the direction of a door, and hoped that was enough to convey both “lead the way” and “please don’t let go of me.”
Her hands were steady as she helped him across the room, her feet light on the floor, listening for any sound of Aellys stirring. She wasn’t sure Moot could keep himself together, but by the look on his face picking him up was out of the question. He was glaring daggers at the world ahead of him, wholly consumed by the laborious process of remembering to successfully walk without falling down or turning inside-out.
They made it outside, Eirelandais closing the front door carefully behind her. She left Moot resting against the side of the building, his head tilted back as he focused on his breathing, and grabbed their bags she’d hidden in the apothecary’s little stable. Supplies were critical. If they could get enough distance between themselves and this town, she’d be able to stop and make Moot some ginger-root tea. He desperately looked like he needed it, she thought, securing their bags over her shoulders. As she returned Moot had undone the top half of his vest and was working to unlace the shirt beneath it, as though any fabric encroaching on his neck threatened to choke him.
“Can you walk?” she asked.
“Mhm.” He slowly pushed himself off the side of the building, and managed to get himself braced, upright, unassisted on his own two feet. For a long moment, he simply stood there.
“Are you...sure...you can walk?”
“Mhm!” Moot managed with false cheer. His entire conscious existence had boiled down to two things: breathing, and walking. He did both forcefully, deliberately, looking like a man possessed as he trudged over to Eirelandais.
She offered a hand, but he waved his dismissively. Focusing on a third thing would be catastrophically distracting, and he could only accomplish the other two through great powers of concentration.
“You mentioned something about being on the run, right?” she prodded, looking up and down the road. Eirelandais realized, in the chill light of the slowly rising sun, that she had had no real plan beyond killing Eidle. The world was opening up before her, strange and full of unknown potential. “What direction do we need to go?”
ft. elf!tenya iida x fem!dryad!reader
wc & warnings: 1.1k | none
premise: getting caught robbing the elfin vaults leads to a heart to heart and a chance at freedom with your former friend, mr. head of the guard - tenya iida.
note: my contribution to @awilddreamerwrites’s fantasy collab - i hope you all enjoy this fic!
breaking into the high elf castle was a piece of cake.
under the cover of darkness, you used your dryad abilities to take out the guards, wrapping them in tight vines and rendering them helpless. elf magic or strength was no match for your gift of nature manipulation.
you stood before the grand vault of the high elf castle, grinning ear to ear. you could almost smell the untold treasures. eager, you opened the doors of the vault and were greeted by swords to your face.
“i was getting worried you weren’t going to show up, thief.”
you let out a chuckle, glancing at the elfin knights from side to side. at the center of it was him.
“hello, tenya dear!” you giggled, waving to the head of the elfin guard. iida scoffed at your friendly demeanor and spat to you, “cut the faux sincerities. you’re under arrest for attempted robbery.”
“oh, am i?” you placed your hands on your hips. the elfin guard poked their swords at you, armed to kill. you sighed and snapped your fingers, encasing all but iida in vines. strolling up to iida, you draped yourself over him and purred, “i love this game, tenya.”
“you’re still under arrest,” iida flipped you over and cuffed you. an annoyed huff escaped your lips, “you know i’ll be out by morning, tenya.”
“not this time,” iida stated, “i’ll be your personal watchman. let’s get going.”
you dragged your feet across the shiny floors of the vault, releasing your vines from the elfin guard. iida walked you to the dungeon and tossed you in a cell, a barrier glowing around your temporary home, “i made sure to have someone place a magic nullification spell on your cell.”
“lovely,” you remarked with an eye roll.
iida grabbed a chair and sat down, facing you with his sharp eyes Boeing into your soul, “you’re one major troublemaker, thief.”
“cut the ‘thief’ crap,” you huffed to iida, “c’mon, tenya, say my name. i dare you to say it.”
“i won’t,” he countered.
“no, i won’t.”
“say it, coward.”
iida fell silent.
“that’s better,” you smiled, settling into your cot. iida exhaled, “what happened to you, (y/n)? really, i’m serious.. what happened to the girl i knew?”
“she’s gone,” you hummed nonchalantly.
“but what happened to her?” iida’s expression softened with concern.
“she died when her village was burned down by the likes of elfin royals,” you chuckled bitterly, “why don’t you see it? why don’t you see the evil you work for?” you stood up and gripped the cell bars, “i thought we were family.”
“don’t give me that,” iida adverted his gaze from you, “you committed crimes against the elfin community, those have serious repercussions,” he ran his hands through his hair, “you could be executed for this.”
“you want that to happen, don’t you?” you raised your eyebrows at iida.
“of course i don’t!” iida yelled. he paused and took a moment to recompose himself, “you are- you were my best friend, (y/n).”
“so let me out of here,” you gestured to the cell.
“you know i can’t do that,” he answered.
“more like you don’t want to,” you plopped down back on the cot.
“look,” iida stood up and grabbed on the bars, “talk to the king. i’ll vouch for you, you could get off with a slap on the wrist.”
“you would do that for me?” you asked, surprised.
“of course i would,” iida gave you a smile, “anything for you.”
“okay.. i’ll do it,” you laid down on the bed, “i’ll see you in the morning.”
“goodnight,” iida went back to his chair, waiting for you to fall asleep.
the chirping of the birds outside your cell alerted you that it was morning. a rumble could be heard, as your cell door swung open. you got out of bed and were greeted by a slap of cuffs on your wrists.
“these cuffs should nullify your magic,” iida noted to you, “be on your best behavior, okay?”
“yes, sir,” you slurred slightly, still groggy from being awoken so soon.
“follow me,” iida led you out of the dungeon and outside the doors to the throne room. he grasped your shoulders gently and stared you in the eyes, “just say your piece and suck it up. the king doesn’t like you and i sure as hell know you don’t like him.”
“you’re correct in that assumption,” you mused.
“just be polite and kiss his ass,” iida patted your shoulders, “you can do it.”
“okay,” you answered before the doors to the throne room swung open.
“look what the cat dragged in!” the boastful and egocentric king rhys cackled upon your entry.
“good to see you too, jack-” a glare from iida, “-king rhys.”
“i heard you tried to rob my vault,” the king beckoned for one of his maids to bring him some wine.
“yes, i did.. and i apologize for that,” you felt like you were going to be sick.
“oh?” king rhys was just as surprised as you were at your apology.
“i believe (y/n) can be rehabilitated, your majesty,” iida spoke up, “i’ll make her my personal responsibility. all i ask of you is a pardon and she can begin anew in our city.”
“a pardon?” king rhys looked at iida like he grew a second head, “are you insane? this thief nearly stole ancient elfin treasures!”
“but i didn’t actually- (y/n), quiet,” iida cut you off and turned his attention to the king, “i’ll take a demotion if it means she gets a pardon.”
“you drive a hard bargain,” king rhys pondered on the offer, “but alas.. i have scheduled this thief’s execution.”
“fuck,” you muttered. iida looked at you in a panic, his hands flying to your cuffs. he quickly undid the cuffs and tossed them to the side, “(y/n)! some magic would be great right about now!”
“on it!” you summoned some vines, rooting themselves in the throne room and incapacitating the guards. the king stood there, helpless. you launched another vine and hung king rhys upside now, “that should knock him out! let’s go!” you exclaimed, summoning a vine and tying it around both yourself and iida.
“what are we- woah!” iida held on tight to you, as the two of you flew through the fly and nearly collided with a nearby tree. you untangled the vine from your bodies and grinned, “looks like you’re a wanted man, tenya.”
“oh shut it,” he grumbled, readjusting his armor, “we gotta run while we still have the chance.”
“or not,” you snickered, “i like trouble.”
“oh zip it.”
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Aeonian | shattered
i saw a post once about a whumpee that will prioritize literally anything else over themselves and i really did just make that Ezra’s personality huh
Whumpay2021 Day 6: “Can you hear me?” / “I don’t see you.”
warnings: again with the blood and gore, broken bones, mentions (but does not include): whipping, execution, burning at the stake, hanging, stoning, beating, arrow wounds, dying
Out of the day and a half they’d been travelling, Phoenix had denied being hungry every time Ezra asked. She seemed to think she was hiding it well, the hunger that was affecting her just as much if not more than it was for him, but he could see her wrap her arms around her midsection than drop them to her sides when she realized what she was doing. Even over the crunch of leaves underfoot, he could hear her stomach rumble at odd intervals.
“Just let me get you some food,” Ezra said.
“It’s fine,” Phoenix replied. “We can eat when we get to the next village.”
She’d explained the plan to him already and he knew the next village did not mean the closest, but the one they could reliably take shelter in without alerting anyone to their presence. They were still on the run from Phoenix’s home village and the zealots there who’d burn her as a witch just as they did to him—and she wouldn’t come back from it the next day.
Ezra swallowed uncomfortably at the thought. She’d abandoned her safety, her home, and her whole life for him, just to get him away from the townsfolk that sought pointless ways to grant a pointless end for him. They’d seen him come back from being frozen, knew he was unnatural, and immediately wanted to snuff him out. To rid the blight from their village and whatever curse he might bring upon them…or something like that.
People were all the same.
Ezra sighed, running a hand through his tangled hair still matted with blood. He really needed to find something to tie it up with, but first, he had to find food for them to eat. At best, they could both have enough for a decent meal, and if not, Ezra would give everything he could to Phoenix.
He scanned their surroundings as they walked, but it was already late evening and all sources of light were beginning to darken. Immortality didn’t come with night vision, so he was out of luck. He squinted at the trees up above, trying to find any sort of fruit to grab. He spotted something in a gnarled tree hanging over a dip in the soil and drew closer to it. Some fruits hung from the high branches, but the tree was mostly horizontal so it would be easy to climb.
“Here,” Ezra said, lightly touching Phoenix’s shoulder to get her attention, then pointing at the top of the tree.
Her eyes lit up. Ezra came to stand at the base of the tree.
“Be careful!” Phoenix called, and Ezra realized no one had ever said those words to him before.
Be careful held no meaning for one who healed from every wound, so the words were entirely pointless. Still, to him they felt like the balm of cool water to a parched throat that had gone for days, weeks, even years without it. He would know. He’d done that.
He dragged his attention back to the matter at hand and began climbing the tree. This was, however, a mistake. Again, even with immortality, it did not mean he was particularly skillful. It was also very dark, and Ezra soon found himself losing his grip on the branches.
He fell down down down, farther than he thought. It was not just a dip in the ground the tree hung over but a chasm, dark and seemingly endless. Rock walls enveloped him in their prying gaze and merciless, uncaring hands, and Ezra was falling still.
He heard Phoenix cry out, and then her face appeared at the entrance of the chasm, a distant spot of orange on a blue and white clouded sky.
He reached a hand up, uselessly, and held onto the image of her as his body was dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks below.
A piercing scream shattered the night. Ezra did not know if it was hers or his own, there was only pain. Pain and the echo of the chasm that swallowed him whole.
His body was not meant for this. No one was. He should have died the moment he hit the rocks, should not have had to bear the splitting of it over sharp edges cutting deep into muscle and bone. Did he even still have bones? He did not know. There was warmth and there was cold, he was so cold but lying in boiling hot water—not water, blood. His blood. His blood splattered all across the floor.
His head lolled back and his arms went limp at his sides, his legs twisted at the wrong angles. He blinked slowly, open, close, open, close, and there was only darkness and the ache of every bone having been shattered to pieces.
A name. Who’s name? His name. That was his. Someone was calling for him.
“Ezra! Can you hear me?”
Phoenix. The woman who saved him. Saved him from further the torment of being burned alive, beaten, stoned, hung, whipped—why? What was there to gain from it?
He’d have gotten away someday. How long—thirty years later? Sixty? A hundred?
He would have suffered, but then, what else was new?
But she had saved him. She’d held him as he cried and oh gods how good it felt to be held—he’d forgotten what that had felt like. He didn’t remember the last time anyone had so much as even touched him without violence.
She’d plucked the arrows out of his back and washed his wounds, fretting over him in the silliest manner where her lips puckered and she bit her bottom lip just so—
Why was she worried? He wouldn’t die. Nothing that happened to him ever so much as left a single scar.
He threw his head back and screamed.
The bones were fusing together already, but this much damage would take hours to repair. He’d have to wait here until then. Just endure it.
“Ezra? Are you there?” Phoenix called out. “I know you’re…”
“I know you’re going to be alright. I just wanted to let you know that I’m here. I’m here for you.”
A sob tore from his throat, from torn-up muscles that he didn’t think would have even been capable of making sound.
“Just…hold on. Hold on,” Phoenix said.
She continued talking to him, at first in loud, worried tones, then gradually wearing down into soft and comforting ones. She started with sweet nothings, telling him she was there and that he would be alright, and later moved onto stories from the village when she ran out of things to say. She told him the gossip that passed through the town, the different stories she remembered from her youth, and exactly which type of sweets she liked from the baker’s shop and when the best time of day was to get them.
Ezra focused on the sound of her voice. It was the only thing keeping him stable. His muscle and sinew knitted back together, bones snapping back into place with a force that made Ezra gasp, but even through the agonizing pain, he listened. He had been trapped in loud places, filled with tortured screams and dying wails that still plagued his sleep even now, and also in silent places, where the only sounds he’d ever hear were ones he made himself. He’d sometimes find himself screaming just to hear something, to remember what it was to have a voice.
This was different. This was neither too loud or too quiet, and it reassured him that he was not alone.
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