Logs:A Last Breath
|A Last Breath|
|Dramatis Personae|| |
23 May, 2016
Amadei goes to collect the dying breath of an old friend.
A letter comes to Amadei at his motel, written on old parchment, telling him that an old friend back in Arcadia has passed away. This old friend, once a client under the Compass Rose, has left something for Amadei and he'll have to go into the Hedge to meet with the hob that has it. Directions are included.
Amadei, having received the message, left one for Connor, with the gist of the note and a request to come along, along with an apology for his scarcity after mexico. (Maybe what they'd shared before he'd left had left him more shaken than he'd thought.) The response is slow to come, but when it does, Connor agrees, citing caution against having anything to do with things that might come from where they were taken. But arrive he does, at the motel, in his old pick up truck. And he brings with him his bow within its case in the back of the car, along with ammunition. Connor rarely goes back into the hedge, and when he does, he doesn't go unarmed.
There's something different about Connor since the last time that they saw one another. His eyes are near white, frozen over, the blue veins faint within them, and he seems almost physically colder. When Amadei calls him his lover, Connor doesn't reply immediately, but he does say, "You're not going alone. If you're going to go get something from There, then you're not going to do it by yourself." That much, he doesn't argue. Amadei might notice the changes, but for now, he gives no sign. With an airy smile, he climbs into the truck, and gives the directions without disputing the veritable order Connor gave him. Once in the truck, Connor nods to the directions and begins the drive, heading off. He's familiar enough with the area, having grown up here, and depending on where they go, he shouldn't take too much directing to get there. He's quiet for a while, but then he asks, "How was Mexico? Did you find who you were looking for?"
"Yes. He seems to be dead, but apparently was serving something much larger and more unpleasant... I gather that there's a realm for the dead that's rather like our Hedge, and something in there is hungry. I only ended up having to do a little healing... They were hurling buildings and flying and fighting each other and all sorts of things. No one could shoot at me, anyway." Amadei gives Connor a sidelong smile. "I was far too magnificent." But then his smile fades just as quickly. "You, however, don't seem to have found the time nearly as pleasant as I."
"I am sure that you were magnificent," Connor says, and he seems to mean it, as though he couldn't really imagine Amadei managing to not be magnificent in such a situation. "I am glad that you made it back okay.. though I am sorry that the person you were looking for was dead." His voice sounds, distant, as though emotions had to drift up from under a thick floe of ice. He's quiet for a while and then says, "Things happened." But he shakes his head as they approach, and then get out of the truck to head into the Hedge, bow slung over his shoulder. "This way."
"Oh, he was dead because we killed him." Amadei sounds much more concerned when he adds, "Do you want to tell me about it? When we're safer than here?" He follows Connor's lead, once again, without argument: he might be ornery, but he is at a disadvantage here, and he knows it.
"Oh," Connor says, and well, can't really seem to find an argument for that, and so he lets it go, instead turning his attention to their path as they begin to make their way toward the Hedge, and finally within. He looks over to Amadei then and nods, just a bit. He does want to talk about it but.. not here.. not now. "Let's find what we came for first. There's time."
The directions are easy enough to follow, and it's in a safer area of the Hedge, close to the Freehold's Hollow. The pair come to a door built into the side of a hill, a chimney atop the hill puffing out smoke suggests that the occupant is home. All that stands between Amadei and whatever his friend left for him is that door.
Amadei raises his hand, and then lowers it, and then raises it again, and then, after a long moment, knocks. Not so confident now, is he? Connor's bow is not drawn, but his hand is hooked at its handle as it rests against his shoulder, ready to pull it if he needs to, but otherwise he remains a bit behind Amadei and to the side, both to have a good sight line, and to allow him to be the one to speak to whoever might be inside. This is his quest, after all.
A short, toadish-looking hob answers the door after a short wait. "Ah. You. Was expecting you. Come in, come in... don't touch anything." He abandons the door, leaving it to the guests to close behind them.
The place is filled with strange, even ridiculous things. Nonsense contraptions, random mundane objects, it's all mixed together. There's furniture in there somewhere, though the collection threatens to swallow it up.
"I was there when he passed, you know," says the hob, digging through a giant steamer trunk. "Collected this one myself. It was his request, but he helped me once or twice, so I made sure to do it myself. Where'd I put it...?"
Amadei opens his mouth to say... something. Maybe like, 'You? Why you?' But he closes it, before managing, "I... thank you. I'd thought... that he might have forgotten... what we'd been." He looks very sad, as one is when someone beloved has died. That he himself had forgotten this person for a long time is, of course, hypocritical-- but that's how it is for escapees. Instead of actually entering, Connor stands outside the door, like some sort of silent sentry. He leans against the door a bit, keeping an eye on the interior as Amadei goes to fetch the item, and then occasionally watching the exterior as well, a near frozen statue save for the slow shift of his attention from one area to the other.
"Oh, here it is," says the hob. He lifts an empty glass bottle with a rubber stopper at the top and brings it over. "He said that he'd heard you were becoming more of a healer in your new life, and that pleased him, so he asked me to bottle this for you. It'll help you on that path." He doesn't hand the bottle over, though. Not yet. "I've always been more of a fan of your music, though, myself. Anyone can bandage a wound, but few can craft a truly moving tune."
"Ah," Amadei says softly, understanding. "The catch." He doesn't sound bitter: the rules have always been that, to obtain something extraordinary, a price must be paid. That's just how the fae are. "You know that I'll probably pay whatever it is you like for this only token I might have of him, so... what is it that you want?" Connor glances back over his shoulder from the door to see the bottle with its stopper, and then glances to Amadei and the Hob. Convinced that no one seems to be approaching from the outside, he ducks inside finally and lets the door close behind him, though remaining near it.
"You can't walk two paths at once," says the hob. "The more you become a healer, the less you are a musician. I'm a fan, as I said, so this will be yours for the price of a song. One just for me."
"I will be whatever I want to be," Amadei replies pleasantly, but with a regal, steely undertone in his voice that he rarely uses. "And today, I will give you a song-- one that's just for you. Do you have any instruments here?" He looks over as Connor arrives, and relaxes slightly: he is visibly comforted by the snowskin having his back. Connor is a silent presence, not interfering with the transaction, though he does study the Hob carefully, looking him up and down before he then glances around the collection of stuff and nonsense, as though perhaps wondering himself if there might be an instrument in the middle of that pile. But in the end he doesn't see one, and so he waits to see what the Hob answers.
"Oh no," says the hob, "If you played it, your friend would hear it, too, and this is just for me. It's a specific song that I desire - your best song. The greatest you'll ever write. Except you'll never write it now, you'll never play it, or hear it, or remember it because it will be mine alone. That is my price for this bottle."
Amadei stares at him, and then at that bottle, and then at Connor, and then back to the Hob. "Done," he says after a very, very, VERY long pause. "I imagine you've got a painless way to extract it?" Which he should've said first, probably, but there are no takebacks. There's the slightest frown from Connor, as though he's not entirely sure that such a deal should be made, and he opens his mouth, but it's too late. The single word is out of Amadei's mouth, and Connor's closes in silence. Whatever he was about to say, he swallows it, though his attention goes back to the Hob, a bit more wary than it was before.
"Of course," says the hob. He pulls a ladle from his coat and reaches way up on his tiptoes to swirl it at Amadei's temple. A fleeting breeze of music plays through the Fairest's head, then it's gone. A swirl of mist now sits in the ladle, and he sips it like soup. A smile crosses his features, eyes closing. "Thank you," he whispers.
Amadei looks ever-so-slightly disturbed-- but his vanity wins out. "How is it?" Because he can't remember even a bit of it!
"Exquisite, of course," the hob reassures, handing the bottle over to Amadei. "When you're ready, simply open it. Hold it close so that you can hear and breathe it in. My condolences to you."
Amadei takes the vial, and pockets it: the hob won't have his grief, too. He bows slightly, more an inclination of the head than anything, and turns toward Connor. "Let's go." Connor watches the entire process of Amadei giving up that song to the Hob with what might pass for disapproval if any emotion at all was easily readable on the surface. His gaze flickers back to Amadei though when he takes the bottle, and he nods, turning toward the door once he says that he's ready to go, this time going out first and taking a look around to make sure that it is safe before standing out of the way. He looks at the bottle a little dubiously and says, "I hope that it is what you were looking for."
The hob sees them out without a further word.
Amadei says very quietly, once they're outside, "If I'm so very great a musician, then the greatest song I've ever written must be very great indeed. But the next-best song will also be great, won't it? What is a degree or two between perfect and almost-perfect?" He smiles bravely at Connor, his hand still around the vial in his coat pocket. "Not much at all," Connor says, agreeing somewhat reluctantly. He glances back over his shoulder at the Hob's house, and then he says, "Let's get out of here." He then begins to move away, heading back the way that they came to make the trek back out of the hedge. One hand remains on his bow, but the journey home, he is less worried about it seems than the journey there.