Day 6 was lovely. It was my first day off in November, and I tackled what was a surprisingly difficult scene. Unsurprisingly, most of what I’ve written will need to be at the least scrutinized, if not completely re-written for contradictions and things like that. But this was the first scene where I’d even gotten to anything like that, where there’s actually meaningful content to contradict with, so that was fun. A good feeling to know I’d finally hit plot pay dirt.
11/6/13 10:42 am At Purdy’s, Cait’s first break
“We can’t move her now we’ve given her well water – she’s mostly human, she’ll go mad.” Asha spoke in a rapid, whispered hiss, terrified to be speaking up to their leader but concerned that no one was concerned for the safety of the girl they’d suddenly captured. She was fond of the young writer, had wondered where she’d been all summer and had been happy to see her back, even with all the witch magic draped all over her. Young people weren’t always in control of what their elders subjected them to- Asha knew that well. She didn’t hold this girl’s actions against her. She’d watched her for long enough that she felt she knew the girl, and knew she wasn’t happy with whatever change had brought the witch into her life. She was a victim here, and Asha knew she was the only one who could speak for her.
Meliki’s face was a stern, but her tone was soft. “Don’t worry about her, child. I’ve laid my plans carefully.” Asha flinched at the suggestion that she had been implying Meliki had overlooked something. She ducked her head deference and hurried from the room.
Meliki moved to sit cross-legged on the floor by where the girl lay. She took a moment to connect herself to the bare earth beneath her, sinking her fingers into the dirt before she spoke.
“Before you say anything, please refrain from identifying yourself in any way. It will be considered a sign of good faith that I haven’t used your ignorance against you. Knowing your name would give me power over you, and as I understand it, you are a pawn in this game.”
Brooke’s head was spinning. She felt like she had the flu, aches and chills and a headache the size of a mountain. And now this stranger was ranting at her about games and names and she just wanted to throw up and pass back out.
“Please,” she croaked. “I don’t know what’s going on but I’m going to be sick.”
Meliki reached out a hand to her brow, leaving the other firmly connected to the earth. She let the alien magic of the well water in her system drain away into the sithen floor, until she started to feel the girl’s own magic surface again. She didn’t know how much more she could feed to this mini-sithen before its magic started to become tainted. Reluctantly, she pushed a little magic back into the girl.
“I’m sorry, that’s the most relief I can offer you. Did it help?”
The woman’s hand was cool on her forehead, and it helped ease the knot in her stomach. Brooke nodded, knowing it would be felt through the hand on her head. She felt tiny and weak and just wanted to sleep again. That had been good, that had been featureless, devoid of thought or dream, safe. Awake, her brain kept throwing her images of dark wings and reaching hands and everything was red and violent and it made something in the back of her throat start to rise, like bile but sickly sweet and coppery. She shuddered and turned away from the memory, focusing instead on the now. She was somewhere dark and wet with a stranger, a stranger inclined to talk, so let her.
“Tell me what’s going on.”
Duh, why wouldn’t she listen? But when the woman made no attempt to continue, Brooke cleared her throat and said aloud, “I promise.”
Meliki gave a satisfied hmmm and began.
“The world you live in is not the world you think it to be. The world of your dreams is closer to reality than you think. No, I don’t know exactly what it is that you dream,” she said quickly, when she felt the girl tense under her hand, “but I know that you do dream, because when you are asleep, you are not actively fighting the reality the rest of you feels. When you sleep, when you daydream, you see things that seem impossible, but I promise you, they are very real. The tree you felt invading your mind, the stone that now sits in your belly, those are both the magic of my daughters, the fey who run this shop.”
She paused a moment, letting the girl reflect on her own feelings, letting her heart whisper to her that all this was true.
“All the people you see come and go, that don’t feel quite right, that seem a little “off” to you – they are creatures of legend. Witches, faeries, vampires, shape shifters- and more you can’t even imagine. Mermaids, dragons…” She paused, and let the light from within her shine out from behind her eyes, illuminating the darkness. “Even gods.”
The shock and confusion was clear on the girl’s face, but something else was looking out from behind her eyes, something very, very old. It whispered to her secrets in the night, secrets Meliki could not even guess at. What on earth had stumbled into her daughters’ home?
She drew a deep breath, and continued speaking, before the girl’s ancient eyes wore her down, and she lost her nerve. Her, losing her nerve. Aiya.
“You know this all to be true, you heart tells it to you, does it not?”
Brooke found herself nodding automatically, moving almost as if under the control of something else. Her ears were ringing and her head was pounding even worse than before.
The girl was long gone. She might be aware of what was happening, but whatever lived inside her was pushing its way to the surface, and Meliki was simply not ready for that to happen. She reached for the well water within the girl, twisting it and making it bubble, til it pushed the girl back to unconsciouness.
“Ceira!” she called back up the stairs. “Nanaee!”
It was Asha who answered first – she had been sitting in the hall, listening to the whole thing. Meliki hadn’t told her not to, and she hadn’t nothing else to do with her sisters upstairs running the shop, watching for whoever might come looking for the girl.
“Run and carry a message to your sisters,” Meliki said quickly, not caring who it was she spoke to. “Have them call the boys and tell them I need one of them immediately. We have to move the girl to the main sithen, her magic is still out of control.”
Asha nodded, eyes wide and she backed hurriedly out of the room and ran upstairs.
Zig rushed out the door when Ceira called to say they needed him. Nevermind that it was barely even noon, if that. He didn’t feel the closeness to Meliki’s fae that he did with the rest of the Spiders, but they were all family, and he took family very seriously. If this girl needed to be moved, he’d move her. If she was another sister waiting to happen, well, all the more reason to drive faster.
Asha came back down stairs as soon the message was delivered, partially to report and partially to do what she could to help the girl. She didn’t know what she good she expected to be able to do, but she didn’t want to miss an opportunity if there was one.
Meliki was bent over the girl, checking her over, when the youngest daughter returned. “Ceira says Zig’s coming.” Meliki nodded and stood up, heading upstairs without another word. With Meliki gone, the well water would calm, but the girl’s own magic had receded and would hopefully stay that way without Meliki goading it on. It seemed her presence offended her magic in some way, though that was hardly surprising, given the polar opposition of life and death. While she paid her respects every Dark of the Moon, her domain was life, at its very earliest, babies and seeds. Beginnings. Of course death magic would be riled by such a power as hers.
Asha went and knelt by the girl’s side, smoothing her bangs back from her face as she started to stir. The earth magic in her was returning the soil, a sign that her own magic was pushing back the well water. Asha was glad Meliki hadn’t instructed her to give the girl more when she woke. The water was for humans they would be keeping, and regardless of the scene she’d caused today, Asha didn’t feel they had any claim over her. She was a free spirit and should be allowed to stay that way. Of course, her magic needed taming, but there were all manner of ways to do that. Binding her to the sithen was an extreme reaction, she’d thought.
But, she reminded herself, she didn’t know Meliki’s mind or plan, or have her advantage of wisdom and power. It wasn’t her place to question.
A groan from the girl pulled Asha from her thoughts, and when he eyes opened, Asha smiled.
“I’m glad you’re awake. I was hoping I’d get a chance to talk to you before Zig got here.”
Brooke blinked in confusion, but Asha shook her head and continued. “He’s a good guy, I’m glad he’s the one that coming. You can trust him, he’ll take good care of you. He’s mostly human, like you are. He won’t forget that, like some of the rest of us might.” She stopped herself, knowing she was wasting precious time. It was only a few blocks from here to the Spider’s den.
“Look, there’s a handful of things to know when dealing with the fey. The first is don’t eat or drink anything, but we’ve already sort of broken that one for you, so it’s best to just take anything they feed you there. It won’t do anything that hasn’t already been done, and it’ll save you the pain of trying to swallow the magic of the place raw.”
“The second is don’t tell anyone your true name. First, last, mother’s maiden, anything. Go by a nick name with us, it’s the polite thing to do, and it should save you some trouble as well. Never tell anyone your true name every again, ok? There’s no reason anyone would ever need to know, no matter what they say.”
“Third, think very, very carefully about the words you say. A fey promise is binding to the letter, and only the letter. And only fey. A vampire, a shapeshifter and a witch can all lie to you, and most will, if they want something from you. But a fey cannot tell a direct lie, and cannot break a promise given, especially the more powerful ones. A good tactic is build a loophole into everything you agree to, like ‘As I wish it to be done’ or ‘according to my will’. Most fey won’t agree to something like that, because it leaves them subject to you. Any fey that agrees to those terms without hesitation has no intention to harm you, or they wouldn’t leave themselves open like that. They also won’t offer you anything for free, like I am now.”
Asha paused and gave the girl a warm smile, though she knew she couldn’t see underground like flora fey could. “The only thing I ask of you in return is friendship girlie. And that you’ll do your best to look out for yourself, because you can’t trust anyone else to, ok?” The bell sounded over the shop door, and Asha knew her time was up. She leaned in close and whispered, “I am called Asha. If you place your hand on the bare earth and say that name, I will hear it, and I will help you if I can.” And then they were on the stairs, and Asha was sliding her arms under the girl’s to help her sit up.
Brooke was beyond overwhelmed. Her brain was just plain shutting down. She felt heavy and too full and like one more thing would just make her burst. All these strangers saying all these strange things and coming and going and now this girl was telling her that everyone might be out to get her and that she couldn’t trust anyone and that she wanted to be her friend and would help her if she could and then she wanted her to stand and it was just too much. Tears spilled from her eyes, silent and free flowing, and she buried her face in the other girl’s shoulder and wept.
Her tears fell on Asha’s skin, and they were cold, and her skin drank them in immediately. They felt icy, like an autumn storm that would turn to snow any day now. Her breath on Asha’s shoulder felt like the North wind, and long winters of grey skies with no sun. She gasped, but kept herself calm. The girl needed stability, and here, in her own sithen, she was the earth. She let the rain/tears fall, let the wind/sobs beat against her, and still she stood strong, a great Northern mountain. She would not yield, she would remain.
Meliki watched as her youngest daughter drew the mountain up from the earth and into her heart. She was growing into a fine woman, a few more summers yet and she might be worth something. She let the girls work it out between themselves, waiting silently, as the earth does.
When the girl drew a last shuddering breathe and grew still, Asha turned her head to address Meliki. “She will be called Rain, her tears taste of the Northern wind.”
Meliki nodded and accepted the choice. “Rain then. Can you stand, child?”
Asha rose to her knees, tucking one foot underneath herself. “Come on, Rain, we need to get you somewhere safer.” [fix the damned bit about the door bell, and rain’s mental state when first meeting Zig. Conflicts]
Brooke nodded, albeit a little too rapidly. She leaned on Asha and together they rose to their feet, Brooke’s head swimming once she was finally upright. Asha took both her hands and helped steady her, but it was clear she needed a minute to get her bearings.
Meliki used that moment to clarify some important points. “Child, Rain, how soon will someone come looking for you? You need to be with people who understand magic right now, and I don’t think that means your parents?” She made it a question, hoping the girl would fill in the blanks. She hesitated to mention the ward, not wanting to color the girl’s responses.
Brooke blinked a few times to focus, then finally said, “Not likely. It’s the weekend, my mother is probably off with my step-dad again.”
Step-father, damn. Very likely he was the owner of the ward, keeping an eye on an interesting human. Witch then, almost undoubtedly. Goodie. Depending on how interesting he thought she was, he’d likely be on their doorstep within the hour. Before sundown, for certain. Still, delay tactics were worth a shot.
“Can you contact her, leave her a message so that you’re less likely to be missed?”
Brooke made a rude sound at the thought. “I’m not missed now, I promise you.”
Meliki drew a small hiss of a breath at the oath. Such was her habit to not take things lightly. “Still, child, call her if you can. Better safe than sorry.”
Brooke nodded, agreeing. Now seemed like a perfectly awful time for her mother to finally act motherly, which almost guaranteed she would.
“Alright. Let’s get you upstairs where you can get some signal and we can wait for my boy to get here.”
Nanae released the tea she’d been holding in the leaves, waiting for the girl to come upstairs. She’d brewed it the moment Asha had come up, saying that Meliki wanted to move the girl to the Spider’s den. It was silly, but the last thing the girl had asked her for was a travel tea, and she wanted to be able to at least give her that back. Her whole world had been rocked, surely a cup of tea was called for. Ceira laughed at said something about keeping calm, but it had gone over Nanae’s head. Ceira’d shook her head and said it was just a dumb human thing she’d picked up from watching TV. Nanae wondered if she’d pick up any human habits like that when she was strong enough to leave the sithen.
Both sisters were surprised to see Asha with her arm around the girl’s waist, helping hold her weight as she struggled to stand. Nanae let out a little o of understanding when she realized she was suffering from the exact same thing that kept her and Asha tied to the sithen – none of them were strong enough to hold back their own magic without the sithen eating away the extra. They’d had to give the not quiet human girl some fey magic to wrap around her own power so that their den would recognize it, but that had tied to her to their clan’s magic. It would be painful for her to leave it until the well water wore off. But they hadn’t dared risk leaving her magic burning so wild like that. They’d had to keep her drugged until Meliki figured out what to do with her.
With that in mind, when Nanae stepped forward to offer her the tea, she made a point of telling her it was honestly just tea. “I swear,” she said, face solemn. The girl’s eyes flicked to Asha, who nodded opening. Then she turned to address her sisters. “I have given this girl the name Rain, whose tears taste of the northern winds.” She spoke with authority, and after a brief look of shock passed over them at seeing their littlest sister all grown up, they smiled and nodded.
“Welcome, Rain,” Ceira said, stepping closer to the group. “I am sorry for the way we have met, but not that we have done so. You may call me Ceira.”
“And I am called Nanae here,” the other sister said, still holding out the tea. “I’m so sorry I didn’t think before acting, but I hope when the storms of your life settle, you will be glad to count us as friends, and doubly glad you had us to weather these rains with you.”
Brooke felt as if she was missing something, and struggled to remember everything Asha had said about choosing your words carefully with faeries.
Meliki, reading the apprehension on the girl’s face, spoke next. “I am called Meliki, and I swear to you, you have nothing to fear from my children.” The sisters’ collective hiss of breath drove home her point, and she chuckled. “None of them would risk my wrath at being the cause of my word being betrayed, and aside from that, none of them would harm you anyways. We are a peaceful clan, all we want is soil to set our roots in and sky to grow under.” A murmured wave of “[insert “so mote it be” word here] followed her words, Asha turning to explain softly, “That means “it is truth.” It’s sort of a ritual thing.” She ducked her head at her sisters’ reproachful looks at her interruption.
Meliki laughed, a deep belly sound. “Let the youngest one speak. It is good that we have an interpreter in our midst, since the rest of us are all now too old to speak young folk.” Asha blushed, but grinned at the same time. She was used to being made fun of.
“Now then, child. Rain. I will endeavor to remember to call you that, it is rude of me to deny you a name given by friends.” All three sisters smiled at that. “You must call your mother quickly, it will be better if every trace of you is from this place.”
Brooke didn’t know why, or what she was talking about really, but she obliged and pulled out her phone. The three older women moved to the front of the store, but Asha stayed behind. She wanted to make herself as accessible to Rain as possible.
[edited, already written. See excerpt for flow]
She hung up and moved out of the backroom into the main body of the shop again. Nanae was at her side instantly, pushing the tea into her hand and guiding her around the counter to sit in a barstool. “Rest, be comfortable,” she told her. She nodded and sipped her tea, still bewildered but rapidly adjusting. Making a normal call on her normal cellphone and hearing her mother’s answering machiene and helped ground her back in reality, as had being in a familiar place again. It was all really fucking weird, but it was now a normal weird. Her brain could only stay on omigodhighalertfreakout for so long.
Asha stayed near her side, though she’d clammed up more now around her sisters. Brooke sort of wished she’d kept talking, it would give her a distraction from her 90 mile a minute thoughts. She supposed she could have asked the faerie a question, but that would require being able to pick on out of the millions rolling through her head. She tried to shut it all out and just focus on the next breath, and the next, and not what was coming next.
She was nervous about meeting Meliki’s other “children”, but if they were as nice as the coffee shop fey had been, she wasn’t too worried.
[edited, already written. See excerpt for proper flow]
The oldest sister went to the door, seeing whoever they were waiting for before everyone else. When she slipped outside to go greet him, Brooke’s heart leapt into her throat and started thudding away like it would try to escape. Asha patted her hand sympathetically and pulled her to her feet.
“Remember what I said, Zig’s a nice guy. He’ll take care of you.”
Brooke nodded and forced her feet to carry her towards the door, and whatever was waiting beyond it.
2619 words 1 hr 40 mins 9:31 p 11/6/13