“Spirits white as lightning, shall on my travels guide me.
The moon would quake and the stars would shake, when’ ere they espied me!

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys.
Bedlam boys are bonnie for they all go bare and they live by the air,
and they want no drink nor money.”

The tavern roars as tipsy patrons clink their ale mugs together and sing along to the chorus of the popular old folk song. The conductor of the inebriated choir, a young woman garbed in black and tight leather, leaps onto a heavy oak table and belts out the next stanza. Her silver jewelry glints in the light of the crackling hearth fire as she moves.

“My staff has murdered giants, my bag a long knife carries,
for to cut mince pies from children’s thighs, with which to feed the fairies!”

Angular golden eyes follow the festivities from a secluded corner of the tavern, narrowing in amusement when the woman brandishes a large dagger as if to make good on her cannibalistic boast. Despite the cheery light cast by the large fire, nothing seems able to pierce the thick shadows gathered in the room’s far corner, which completely disguise the seated figure.

“With a host of furious fancies whereof I am commander,
with a burning spear and a horse of air to the wilderness I wander!”

Cackling, Mage leaps off the table and bows to her audience with a flourish. She spares a moment to indulge in the crowd’s exhilaration, then sheathes her dagger and weaves her way to the back of the tavern. She throws herself down into a chair across from the shadowed stranger, kicking her boot-clad feet up on the table between them. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Caít my dear,” the woman apologizes, but does not look particularly regretful. “Just couldn’t help myself – I’ve always loved that song.”

“You’ve quite the voice, Captain,” the figure comments wryly. Mage replies with a conspiratorial wink, “Tom o’ Bedlam wrote that song about me, you know.” The creature makes a sound halfway between a chuckle and a purr. “Oh? I seem to recall that song being several hundred years old.”

“I know; don’t look a day over twenty, do I?” Mage lowers her feet and leans over the table, flashing her companion a hungry grin. “Now. Shall we get down to business? I’m sure we both have important duties to attend to. You know, hunting shadows and destroying the last remnants of the Lost Boys and delightful things of that nature.” Caít-Sidhe giggles and might nod in appreciative agreement, but all that can be seen of the spirit is the faint outline of a dark shape within the heavy shadows. “First, my payment,” he orders, all eager business now.

“Of course.” Mage reaches into the breast pocket of her trench coat and produces a small silk bag bound with bright red string. A faint smear of sparkling dust lingers on the lip of the fabric. “Fresh this morning, and a good one, too. Quite pretty.” As she places the bag on the table, something inside twitches, struggling feebly against its confines. Caít-Sidhe licks his lips with a sandpapery tongue and is about to reach out to the bag when Mage lays her hand over the payment and prompts, “and now my information.”

One hand emerges from the shadows, its digits covered in sleek black fur and tipped in wicked claws. The hand slides a thick envelope sealed with silver wax across the table. “All the locations you requested, Captain. Can’t say as they’re all up to date, what with so many of the Lost up and disappearin’ themselves, but you should find who you’re looking for. Pity for them, that is.”

“Yes, such a pity.” Mage slips the envelope into her coat with a private smirk and rises to her feet. “Enjoy your savory little morsel, Caít,” she says with a half-bow. “I’m sure we shall see each other again quite soon.”

“It’ll be my pleasure,” Caít-Sidhe purrs in response as he prods playfully at the silk bag with one long claw. The faerie inside shudders, bringing a particularly hideous, toothy grin to the creature’s face.

[ Cross-posted to ]


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  1. Pingback: #1202 | Only Fragments

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