It is a hard thing, trying to get privacy, even in a house as large as the one I am lucky enough to possess. Upon the rare occasion that I can, in fact, cram myself away into a personal nook, cranny, or corner, it never seems to last particularly long. For even when I am capable of writing down more than one page of information at a time, the fact of the matter is that information's main intent is usually lost by the time I manage to scratch it onto my documents.
So it was a great privilege indeed, one warm Spring day, when I managed to hide myself away from the sunlight for a few hours, away from the boisterous Irishman, the obnoxious demon, and other stifling factors of my own little innfor what else had my manor become but a place to store the rejects of society? Harsh as it may sound, it is the truth that makes it so difficult to hear. However, I was entirely grateful; from the moment I could rest behind my desk of mahogany, briefly reflect upon its marvelous, gleaming surface, and enjoy the subtle comforts of a chair well-worn down from time, the velvet cushions broken down by dust and decay.
The notes I was planning to scrawl out were extremely beneficial to my researchthe first time in a long time I had managed to commune with the land of the dead. Talking to those that have already passed on can be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most helpful experience of one's life. I took mild irony in that fact as I wrote it down, satisfied to finally begin my thirty-second journal, the others stacked neatly with their papers and excess research material on the front of my desk, between the Sphinx paperweight and the miniature grandfather clock, which ticked in unadorned glumness, the sunlight through the gray window glancing off its tiny, silvery face.
"My lord Avion?"
The voice came from the doorway of my home office, in the uncertain, warm tones of my older sister, interrupting the flow of my thoughts (thoughts that had finally collected themselves into something vaguely coherent). I glanced up, shortly, yanking myself with mild disgust from said thoughts, and managed to greet her with a shallow grimace (whatever passed for a smile), while simultaneously folding my hands over my notes.
Nimue, apologetically shrugging her shoulders, folded her hands behind her back and scuffed a bare foot against the floorboards of my personal quarters; my office, before clearing her throat and straightening in place, holding back her thin shoulders in her long, sleeveless summer-dress.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your work, brother, butthere's a young lady here to see you."
I opened my mouth for a myriad of retortswhy did she use my title, how dare she interrupt my work, who in the world could merit the importance of my attention, and Nimue frowned, shutting me up by placing a singular finger to her lips.
"Please, brother. Be nice to her, she has come a long way just to meet with you."
I raised my eyebrows at her silently, drawing my mouth closed from where it had briefly begun to hang open. Nimue merely smiled at my unspoken question and stepped aside with a roll of her hands.
A flicker of fern-green, the color of a vest, dark brown, a pair of slacks, accompanied by the sharp clap of a leather sheathe hitting a firm other thigh, and the clatter of a crossbow and satchel hoisted higher up onto one, narrow shoulder announced her presence firstas the woman my sister had brought to meet me patted Nimue on the shoulder, stepping around her to sweep into the room.
Hunh, she said idly, her voice slightly lower than initially expected, as she adjusted one of the leather bracers on her wrist. A little less fancy than what I expected. I suppose the rest of the house makes up for it. She smirked at Nimue, a twitch of bow-shaped, full, pink lips, and my sister flashed an uncertain smile back at her, before glancing between us, and gesturing to the woman.
Um. Avvy, this is Lady Carissa Malkina demon-hunter.
My vague interest of such matters faded abruptly, and I turned my face back down towards my notes, chewing idly on my bottom lip as I re-reached for my quill, selecting the finer of the three black ones lying in their inkwell, untouched.
Oh, is that all.
Avion! Nimue whispered, scandalized, before turning with an apologetic glance to the young woman who had so elegantly graced me with her presence. Im sorry. Hes not usually this rude
Upon the contrary, I should think, I remarked dryly, mostly to myself.
Lady Carissa, this is my brother, Avion Nimure.
Charmed, Im sure, the woman said, and I snorted a dubious retort in Seelie under my breath, before turning the page of my journal with a flick of my fingers, and chose from that moment on to ignore her.
Well, Nimue said, after an uncomfortable moment of silence, backing away softly out of my office. I guess Ill leave you two to converse. Ill make teado you like tea, milady?
I prefer java, if you have any. Carissa said, folding her arms over her chest, and beginning to pace around my room. Her muddy boots, I could tell, were tracking across my floor, and I sighed, quietly lifting a hand to my brow to rub away the impending headache I could sense would be otherwise inevitable.
Java. Nimue paused, a look of mild confusion on her face, as Carissa reached out to snag the crystal prism resting on the bookshelf nearest her face, and toss it from hand to hand.
Please put that down, I said tonelessly, keeping my eyes focused on my work. To my irritation, the woman only laughed, twirled the half-round orb on the end of her finger, and continued to toy with it, running her fingers across its gleaming surface, and throw it up, then catch it, repeating the motion infuriatingly.
Or youll what, stonewall me to death? Stoic faces dont scare me, Silvertop.
Silvertop? She had heard my name, correct? I glanced up dryly from under my hair, and, upon hesitation, carefully drew it out of my face to present her with the least of my scowlsa faint, downwards pull of my lips, annoyed at her lack of ladylike manners. She flashed me a stare that caught the light, and we pinned each other with a gaze I knew meant ill business.
Oh, this was going to be fun.
Nimue, I started to say, then, realized, upon inspection of looking up, my sister had wisely vanished, slipping out of the room and into the kitchen with such finesse that it was almost as if she had never been there at all. I grimaced, and, rubbing my brow again, bided my patience by biting my tongueas the lady, obviously either a worker at a renaissance faire, or someone much closer to home (too close, likely), put the gleaming paperweight down, and stepped towards me.
Nice girl, Carissa said lightly, folding her hands behind her back. Little bit overly-happy, though, if you know what I mean.
I do not, I said stiffly, folding my own hands over the papers on my desk, and glowering up at her. Now, if you have business with me, please state it plainly or leave. I have research to attend to.
Ooh, she smirked, wrinkling her nose, and leaning forwards slightly. A man whos direct. I like that. Its always funny when you fellows know what you want. She paused, and placed her hands on the papers of my desk, her lips curling into a subtler sneer. Or think you know what you want.
She was close now, her pale palms pressed against the surface of my desk, leaning across it as if it were a trivial distance to cross. Her face, (which upon a closer look, proved rather fetching) was close to my own, and she was looking down her pointed, slightly-upturned nose at me, back bent fractionally inwards as if to assist her slightly-lazy posture. Light blonde hair the color of corn-silk was drawn back and up in a high ponytail, tied roundabout with dark green ribbon. Her eyes, focused squarely on my own (once I settled on them) were a cattish shade of light, spring-green. Her face was almost angelic, but hardened at the edges--she was very much a human, from the quirk of her pale pink lips, to the rounded ears that bore no hoops or jewels, to the dashing splatter of freckles across the bridge of the nose aforementioned, and a brow that furrowed subtly at my continued speechless silence.
Further examination led to legs that, while encased in brown calfskin, went on into the heavens above, a well-developed torso with suffice displays of feminine attributes, and, of course, slender arms that continued to grasp the desk, their rumpled sleeves a beige color--while her fingernails, short and stubby, dirt-caked and surpassingly disappointing, drummed out an irritable tune on my office space. I found myself absently wondering whether or not the shoulders beneath her shirt were actually as ramrod-straight and strong as they looked, and, resting a hand under one side of my face, I had not realized how far into my personal thoughts and examination until she had quietly cleared her throat and spoken sharply.
"Eyes up here, Marybelle."
Yes, you, she added, and, plunking down abruptly on the side of my desk, flicked my papers aside with a hand. I stifled an open gawk as the research fluttered off of my workspace and onto the floor in total disorganization, and, slouching lightly, the woman scratched her jaw. You said ywanted a business proposition, sohere I am, bein direct like you wanted.
Please remove yourself from my desk immediately, I said shortly, clasping my hands tighter and lifting my chin slightly, refusing to back down to the amused glimmer in her cat-like eyes.
Why, masteror would you prefer lord?Nimure! She trilled mockingly, flapping her fingers back and forth under my nose, I didnt know you were so inhospitable to guests. Guests who have come thousands of miles to see you! Guests that have braved gates, beasts, and all manner of horrendous things just to bask in your radiant
She lifted a leg, settling that on the desk as well, and I tightened my jaw, not looking at it. Lordly
She stretched, her arms above her head, lazily twisting to and fro to soothe some unknown ache. Presence, she finished off, fluttering her fingers in front of her mouth to stifle a yawn.
I could think of no suitable retort, and retreated to safety in the mannerisms of my kind, calmly ducking my head downwards to further examine the journal in front of myself, trying to discern why any word larger than three syllables looked slightly blurry.
By all means, I said dryly, not bothering to mask the disdain in my voice. Make yourself at home.
She seemed to brighten, for she straightened upright, still seated on my deskand the very next thing I knew, a hand had roughly descended on my head, and she had rumpled my hair into my face.
Golly, thanks, Silvertop! I sure am famished after such a long tripgot anything to eat?
Drawing in a shallow, reassuring breath, I reached up and shifted my fingers through my hair, forcing it out of my features as best I possibly could, upper lip curling at the feeling of disheveled locks between my fingers.
How about your own fist, I suggested quietly.
I said we are out of fish, I muttered faintly, rubbing my temples. Pleasecease your distracted thoughts long enough to make mention of this business you spoke of, or else remove yourself from my officeI am a busy man.
Oh, aye, I can see that, she said brightly, plucking a journal off of the pile and rifling through itI reached out to snag it and she dangled it just out of reach, smirking. Pretty little pictures, sketches of sealsand what language is this, Seelie?
Avalonian? I threw back at her sharply, and, blinking those bright green eyes, lady Carissa nodded, clamping the book shut.
Born and bred, she said casually, plopping the journal haphazardly atop its brethren on the piles. I drew them closer to myself to protect them, and went back to writing. Now, where was I? Ahthe souls of the dead can be sustained in the living world through a series of connecting seals, depending on the willpower and stamina of the spellcaster, or the desired target, depending upon
So I came to inquire about one of your housemates, Carissa said, propping both elbows on my stacks of journals and leaning forwards, hands under her chin. Kale, isnt it? See, being a demon hunter and all, its my duty to at least record the potential dangers of demons for further studynot unlike your studies, if you think about it, which is to say, blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah, blah
Of course, she did not say blah, blah, blah, etc., but that is what I heardfor my eyes had taken a moment to realize that her new position put her rather dangerously close to my still-drying notes, and, more importantlyI glanced away carefully, refusing to follow the desire of my retinas to scope out the smooth, white curve of her throatand where it led beyond that.
This, unfortunately, was subtly displayed from the way she was
laying atop my desk.
so, you see my dilemma.
Your only dilemma, lady, is the fact that you bought clothes that obviously were ill-suited for your needs.
Hello? Lord Avion? she queried, waving a hand in front of my face. I snorted and jerked out of my daze, glaring up at her.
I am sorry, I said snidely, rising to my feet. Your nasally voice nearly put me to sleep. You should speak to Kale, first, if you have business with him. It is no matter of mine. I slapped my journal shut, stuck the quill back in the inkwell, and dusted off my hands. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other matters to attend to. I trust you can show yourself out.
She scowled slightly, rolling off the desk and onto her feet with a sturdy hop, dusting off her arms.
Well, like I said, She shot back at me, jabbing a finger under my nose. I did speak to Matthewshowever, he was hardly obliging to my ideas.
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. I watched her, and reminded myself that she was quite crass and rudethough it was a bit harder to, now, and I rubbed the lower half of my face to force down a smile as her temper seemed to flare.
Look, its one thing to be a prick about all of this, Avvy, my smile died at the nickname only my sister was allowed to use, But its another thing to completely tune out the ideas of a well-seasoned hunterIm in charge of six fucking regiments in Avalons private army. You got that?! Six! Id say that merits some general attention. And weve all heard the rumors of a dragon-demon hybrid running aroundnews gets through the between-gates very easily, Lucinda, you follow me here?
Why do you keep doing that? I simply had to ask. She scowled a question my way. I rolled my hands to help her remember. Using
names that are not my own. Her eyebrows rose. Including female names, when I am clearly male.
Oh. She smiled without humor, obviously displeased with my change of subjectsand I realized I had just proved that I was not listening again. Wellare you a man?
The words froze any laughter that silently worked its way around my throat, and strangled in my throat. I stared at her, suddenly quite reminded of why I disliked herher straightforward, condescending attitude reminded me of my fatheror
Because a real man at least gives a lady notice when shes talking, Carissa taunted. And has the decency to point out whether or not shes wrong. And can handle business without getting into a pissy little huff about his writing in his pretty little diaryoh, excuse me, research--getting interrupted. A real man--
Tea? Nimue interrupted hastily, bursting back into the room in a tumble of white fabric and clatter of tea-tray. AndI found some coffee, milady Carissa, I hope thats what you meant
Oh. Carissa grinned, distracted. Thanks, huncoffees fine, thanks. As for you-- she started to round on me, and I breezed past her as her finger raised itself into the air.
Nimue, I said stiffly, my back to them as I set off down the hallway. Call Kale in here to speak with Carissa while she has her coffeethen, if you please, see her to the door. I glanced over my shoulder. I am sure she will not let it strike her on the way out.
Carissa made a motion to snap in retaliation, and I threw open the door to the basement, shutting them from my sight with a decisive click of the door behind myself.
I could use a glass of wine to wash the foul taste of air shared with a woman like that from my mouth.