"I wish to be free to move about as I please," was Angelmaris's first demand, though it came with a stipulation that made it seem somewhat reasonable, "but I promise that I will return here every evening, and I will ensure that I travel no further than would make it possible to do so. If I should break this agreement, you will be free to apply whatever further restrictions you deem appropriate, and I will agree to abide by them."
Richard lifted a brow, seeing the immediate loopholes that the fae lord was attempting to create. "First, you aren't allowed to travel by any magical means without first getting my permission, and that counts for every single instance that you want to do it. No blanket permission will be granted. Second, that also applies to asking, suggesting, or in any other way getting someone else to transport you via magical means."
The faerie scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. "Do you expect me to [i]walk[/i] everywhere?"
"Yeah. Or I can get you a bus card."
Angelmaris pulled an expression somewhere between disgusted and horrified, then it folded into resignation. "Very well. I will admit that to be a reasonable restriction, and I will abide by it."
"You don't get to bargain with others. No making deals for souls or power or whatever, no handing out boons, none of that. You don't get to weasel your way out of this by giving someone something in return for freeing you from your captivity."
It was the fae's turn to lift a brow. "You [i]do[/i] realize that this restriction is [i]entirely[/i] untenable, yes? I will agree to the part about not exchanging something in return for freeing me from your... care, but saying that I can't bargain at [i]all[/i] will not be a restriction that I can keep to. Bargaining is, as you [i]should[/i] well know, an inherent part of being fae. How do you think we came to this point in the first place?"
"Hmmm... Alright, you have a point. How about this? If you want to bargain for or with anything magical, which includes favors to be called in at a future time, then I have to be present, and the bargain cannot be completed without my agreement. You can bargain for entirely mundane things without restriction."
Angelmaris scowled even more deeply at that, nestling down into the couch cushions to sulk. "Fine. I agree. You know, it was more fun being held captive by Queen Mab. At least [i]her[/i] torture was overt and mostly physical."
"I'm not trying to torture you," Richard rebutted. "I'm trying to make sure that you can't fuck with me, or anyone else, until I let you go, and I'm [i]not[/i] letting you go until I can either settle our debt or make sure you won't take revenge on me and/or my loved ones."
"I am [i]not[/i] going to abstain from sexual intercourse! That's one of the sole benefits of even [i]being[/i] in the mortal realm! Though I can [i]assure[/i] you that I have [i]no[/i] intention of including [i]you[/i] in my list of conquests."
"That's not -!" Richard sighed and facepalmed, letting out a groan as he dragged his hand downward and off of his chin. "I'm not talking about sex, and you damn well know that. If that's something you want to do, then fine, have at it. Just make sure to do it quietly. I really don't need to hear you getting down and dirty."
"Hmph. Yes, well, when you use such non-specific words, how am I to help but interpret your meaning incorrectly?"
"You [i]know[/i] what I mean. I -"
Richard was cut off by a sudden, frantic pounding on the apartment door. Which was followed almost immediately by an alarmed squawk and a painful-sounding thunk. He glanced at the other end of the couch and saw legs sticking up in the air and an arm flapping around at floor level. He went to help the former harpy right herself, calmly explaining that it was just someone wanting to come in. Which might actually be a problem, but he didn't want to alarm her unnecessarily. He had no idea how long he had been gone, though from the lack of a dust layer over his things, he figured it hadn't been too terribly long. But having [i]been[/i] gone and having someone pounding on his door less than an hour after getting back was a bit suspicious, to say the least.
He only relaxed when he heard a familiar voice call out, "Richard? Richard?! Are you in there? Are you alright?"
The shifter sighed with relief and went to open it, revealing a very short, exceptionally pale man who had a face so effeminate as to approach androgyny, which combined to make him look like a twelve-year-old girl. Even in the middle of the night, he wore all black, a button up shirt over slacks and boots, and Richard was pretty sure that he didn't actually [i]own[/i] clothing of any other color. Behind the small man stood an absolutely Amazonian valkyrie of a woman, as tall and muscular as her mate was small and slender, wearing biker leathers. Both of them heaved a sigh of relief at seeing the shifter, then the albino squinted up at him.
"What do you call a three-humped camel?" he asked suspiciously, and Rich could only chuckle before giving the silly passphrase in response.
"Pregnant. What's up, Cy?"
"What's up? What's [i]up[/i]?" Cyrillion's pale cheeks flushed red. "What do you [i]think[/i] is up? You [i]had[/i] to have heard the alarm! What the hell hit your wards?"
"Oh, uh... well... Maybe you should come inside and see..."
Richard opened the door further and ushered the two inside, though the albino was barely past the doorframe when he spotted Angelmaris.
"What are [i]you[/i] doing here?" both the fae and the black-clad human said in unison, the first with venom in his tone and the latter in utter confusion.
"Is [i]this[/i] who triggered the wards?" Cyrillion asked, his voice growing frosty, one hand held up towards the faerie, who... cringed? Then again, with most of his power stripped from him in the current situation, Angelmaris would have very little defense against any spell that Cyrillion cared to cast on him. "Has he caused you any harm?"
"I caused him no harm whatsoever, and how are you even [i]here[/i]? This is a [i]complete[/i] violation of the Concord!"
"Tsk, tsk, Angelmaris, you know better. I'm only a half-breed."
Richard glanced between the two of them and suddenly saw the similarities: small and slender, androgenous, elfin, and with a vaguely European accent to their English that didn't exactly point to any one locale accompanying the use of rather old words and phrasing. He slapped a hand across his face for the second time that night.
"Of course. Of [i]course[/i] you're a fae. I should've seen it..."
Cyrillion gave him a look of wounded offense, and Svetlana let out a bark of laughter. "I'm hurt, sirrah! A fae? Me? Not at all. I'm a half-dragon, on my mother's side."
"You don't know who this [i]is[/i]?" Angelmaris cut in. "Cyrillion Bastion, Lord Treasurer of the Red Empress, Trademaster Supreme of the Golden King, -"
"We'll be here all night if you insist on listing [i]all[/i] of my titles," the diminutive half-dragon interrupted, but the fae lord continued on.
"Master of Negotiations -"
"Now you're just flattering me."
The captive fae huffed grumpily, concluding, "Lord Ambassador of the Dragon Flights to Queen Mab of Faerie."
"All true, but in this place and time, I am but a humble sorcerer. At least, that is how I am known, and that is all the power that I wield, so far as humans are concerned. But [i]you[/i] know differently, and [i]you[/i] should be well aware that this campus and all its attendants, both student and staff regardless of origin, are under my protection."
"Wait, wait, wait," the shifter pleaded, feeling a headache coming on. "You're half dragon, and you're the [i]ambassador[/i] to [i]Queen Mab[/i]?"
"Who better to send than an ice dragon for the Queen of Air and Dark? We get along quite well, really, though her sense of humor is rather obscene at times."
"What about Svetlana, then? Is he, like, the daughter of Fenrir or something?"
The massive nordic woman laughed again. "Nah, he's my great-great-great-grandfather. I'm just a normal, simple wolf shifter. Mostly. Little Cici's the special one."
"Lana, dearest darling, can you [i]please[/i] not call me that in front of the enemy?"
"I'm [i]not[/i] an enemy!" Angelmaris protested, holding up his wrists to display the silver chain that linked them. "I'm a prisoner, and by the Concord I call upon you to assist me in recovering my freedom!"
Cyrillion glanced between the fae and Rich and seemed to be actually considering it, then he shook his head. "No, no, this situation doesn't fit the requirements. This is actually rather amusing, to be frank. Richard isn't even able to cast a cantrip. Oh, hello again, Crimson, by the way. I'm glad to see you managed to win your freedom."
The red-eyed former harpy was peeking up over the back of the couch to stare at Richard's guests, and gave a shy finger-wave towards Cyrillion. Svetlana returned it with a vigorous wave of her own, though most of her attention remained focused on the fae lord. Richard flopped onto the couch, staring around as if he were back in the land of Faerie.
He had been in school for a year and a half, and he had only ever heard good things about Cyrillion and Svetlana. They were an odd couple, the dwarf and the giantess, the albino and the nordic bodybuilder goddess, but everyone [i]liked[/i] them, which was natural since they were never anything but kind and helpful. Admittedly, he [i]had[/i] heard stories of Svetlana putting people through involuntary yoga a time or two, but the stories indicated that such treatment had been deserved. They were eternal students themselves, Cyrillion pursuing his seventh or eight degree and his wife her third Master's, the tiny man working as a valued tutor while the Valkyrie had a side business as a fitness instructor and physical therapist. They had approached him on his first day at the college, nearly a year and a half ago, with Cy offering to ward his apartment. The same wards that had held against the power of a fae lord. Which made a lot more sense now. If the child-like half-dragon was as powerful as it sounded like he was (being an [i]ambassador[/i] to one of the two Queens of Faerie wasn't a position he'd expect someone without massive personal power to have), then it was no wonder.
"So, you're a dragon," Richard stated, slightly numb and still not quite believing it.
"Half-dragon," Cyrillion corrected quickly. "On my mother's side. My father, so far as I have been able to determine, was entirely human."
As lightly as he said it, Richard knew that he had a lot of venomous anger towards his mother, whom he said had kicked him out of her home at a very young age. He never said exactly [i]how[/i] young, but it was intimated that he'd been put on the street almost as soon as he could walk on his own. Cy had made himself a fortune once he reached adulthood, and the titles that Angelmaris had listed told the tale of how that had been done.
"And a sorcerer?"
"Absolutely! I'm not very much of a dragon, obviously, so I focused my attention on honing my magical craft and power. Not to brag, but I'm stronger than most full-blooded dragons when it comes to that."
"And the campus is your territory? Are... what do you have a lair dug under the green or something? Where do you keep your hoard? I've seen your house. If I didn't know you had a bank account with more digits than I can ever hope to see in my lifetime, I'd think it was your grandmother's and you were just staying there while you were in school."
"Ah, you have a bit of a misconception there." Cyrillion moved to sit on one of the two chairs that complimented the couch as living room furniture, with Svetlana moving to stand behind him, her focus never wavering from the fae. "Yes, the campus is my territory, because I value education above most other virtues, especially when given to the disadvantaged. A goodly number of students here won't end up with crippling student loan debt because we pay for their tuition through various grants, yourself included. The Darkmoon Grant wasn't given to you because you're a shifter, it was given to you because we wanted you to have it. You didn't know that, I know, I know, and that was intentional. We don't want those we help to feel indebted to us. For the most part. Those whom we [i]do[/i] wish to feel indebted most assuredly do.
"As for my hoard, well... Richard, you're part of it. I [i]am[/i] half a dragon, yes, and that does come with some inescapable instincts, but as half a human, I am able to interpret those instincts far more broadly than a full-blood can. I hoard people, Richard. Friends, loved ones, the occasional shared lover, good people who deserve to have good things in life. Those who go to this school are, for the most part, trying to better themselves, and we greatly approve of that, so we help where we can, as we can, and we make friends. It's always good to have friends, Richard. You never know when you might need one."
He grinned at Lord Angelmaris as he said that last, and the shifter could swear that Cyrillion's teeth looked a good bit sharper than they normally did. It made Rich... curious.
"So... are you able to... [i]be[/i] a dragon? What do you look like?"
Before he even finished, the fae lord was batting at him and making shushing sounds, but Cy just frowned at the bound faerie.
"You know, I've never understood why everyone else is so touchy about my size," the half-dragon said, pushing himself back out of the chair and moving to stand in a clear space in front of the television. "Yes, I'm a runt. I've accepted that. I've [i]always[/i] accepted that. I made myself large in other ways."
The temperature dropped as he spoke so that the shifter's breath formed a cloud in front of him, which swirled on a sudden gust of wind to encircle Cyrillion, a tinkle like wind chimes sounding as forming ice crystals clinked against one another. The half-dragon was hidden by the frosty veil for only a moment before it suddenly burst, dusting snow through the air and revealing the transformed sorceror. He was... still tiny, about the size of a Great Dane or a large mastiff, with pure white scales that glimmered as if they were coated in ice. He folded his wings back down against his sides after the rather dramatic transformation display and curled his long tail around his feet like a cat, staring at Richard with a friendly grin.
"Okay. So... I guess you're more like a shifter witch than what I'd really think of as a dragon. Not that I mean any offense by that," he hastened to add at the slightly hurt expression that crossed Cy's muzzle. "You're just... You don't... I mean, when I think of dragon, I think... Smaug, y'know?"
The smile returned, and the half-dragon nodded his understanding. "Don't worry, I'm not offended. If I took offense to that kind of thing, I'd have had to kill about ninety percent of the people I've met in my life."
"He's big enough where it counts," Svetlana offered, grinning widely when her husband shot her a censorious glare. "Oh, hush, you know you like it when I brag."
The draconic shifter rolled his eyes, and finally turned his attention back to Angelmaris. "So, now we come to the crux. What ever should I do with you?"
"I claim Sanctuary!" the fae shouted quite suddenly, which made Cyrillion blink. The lord hastened to continue, moderating his tone to something more wheedling. "I claim Sanctuary, under the Accords and the Laws of Hospitality."
Cy tilted his head to one side and the other, a bit like a confused dog, thinking it over before speaking again. "Under the Accords rather than the Concord? On what grounds?"
"If... if you tell Mab and Titania that I am here without permission, then they'll... well, you [i]know[/i] the kind of punishment I'll face. So, on that ground."
The dragon shook his head. "Definitely not. I'm obliged by both the Accords [i]and[/i] the Concord to inform them of your current location if and when you become a fugitive, which will be as soon as I inform them that you are here as part of my ambassadorial duties."
"But! But, but, but! Not if I become a student!" Angelmaris seemed nearly panicked in his haste to explain. "That would put me under your protection, would it not? If I were trying to better myself here by gaining further education?"
Cyrillion glanced at Richard with an amused smirk, and the shifter was surprised that the dragon's expressions were as easily readable as a human's. "And who would act as your host and guarantor?"
"Richard! He's already my captor, so that counts as being my host. He'd... just have to guarantee my behavior..."
The fae lord deflated, looking at the shifter with a face full of misery as he slumped into the couch cushions. Cyrillion had a smug grin on his face as he slid forward and settled down to lie with his paws tucked beneath him, also like a cat. It was... kind of cute, but Richard [i]really[/i] didn't want to offend him by saying so. It was even [i]cuter[/i] when his Vakyrie of a wife sat cross-legged beside him and began to scratch at the back of his neck, causing him to emit a soft purr. She winked at him, obviously aware of how adorable her mate was, and the shifter just did his best to keep from laughing.
"So, uh... What would being his guarantor entail?" he asked, his voice a bit choked.
Cy gave him a skeptical glance, but Svetlana dug her fingers in behind one of the dragon's ear ridges, and he seemed to forget about any comment he had intended to make. "As host, you are responsible for his care and comfort. As guarantor, you are responsible for his behavior. Should he break the Laws of Hospitality within my territory, or any of my personal rules regarding comportment, then you shall be punished for his transgressions. He will, of course, [i]also[/i] be punished, and you would be able to enact your own punishment upon him as well, but you should understand that you would quite literally be putting your life on the line if you decided to stand as his guarantor. "
Richard heard a soft squeal from beside him and jumped, turning to see Crimson had moved over behind Angelmaris and was leaning over the back of the couch to grin down at him with vicious glee. She somehow managed to convey the impression that she still had sharp, pointed fangs despite the fact that her mouth was now filled with completely normal human teeth. The fae had cringed down, looking even smaller and more child-like than normal, though not in that ephemerally beautiful way. Instead, he looked lost and distraught and hopeless, harried and battered and alone. It tugged at the human's heart, despite the fact he knew that the fae lord was in fact a devious, selfish, and powerful creature. Angelmaris's eyes darted over to meet his own, and the faerie must have seen the crack of sympathy there, because he latched onto it like a drowning man, gripping the shifter's arm with trembling fingers.
"Please? I... I'll promise to leave your family alone. I won't do anything to them, nor have anyone else do so. I can't erase the debt, but I can shift it so that only [i]you[/i] are affected from here on out, at least until you die. It would then shift to the next youngest descendent of the line." The fae seemed to realize how that sounded, and continued with panicked haste, "But you look [i]wonderfully[/i] healthy and hale! I'm sure you have hundreds of years ahead of you! Or... wait, no mortals only live dozens of years. [i]Dozens[/i] of years ahead of you! I'll adhere to our agreed upon rules of parole and be on my [i]best[/i] behavior. Please? You couldn't even begin to imagine the torments that Queen Mab would inflict upon me if she learns of this utter disgrace. You'd go mad even trying."
Rich let out a heavy sigh, swiping a hand across his eyes. He glanced at Crimson, a burden that had been inadvertently thrust onto him, someone that he was going to have to teach about this world and how to live in it, how to integrate with humans, how to deal with her shifter instincts while dwelling within civilized society. He knew that she was probably going to have a lot of habits and ways of thinking that he needed to break her of, and she was likely also traumatized by her captivity under the Faerie Queen. Not to mention the fact that she would obviously need to live with him until they could find some simple work that she could do to help pay the bills, though...
He glanced at Cyrillion and Svetlana. They seemed to know Crimson Gaze, and he knew that they had lots of friends and connections. Anyone in the community who needed help came to them, and they would give it without hesitation. He [i]could[/i] ask them to handle Crimson, but... he felt responsible for her, especially since she had become as she was now so as to be his perfect mate. And he was going to need to prioritize breaking her of [i]that[/i] notion... And he was [i]sorely[/i] tempted to let them handle Angelmaris as well. The problem there was that it would only foist the problem of the fae and whatever debt his family owed onto future generations. Future generations that might be even more out of the loop than [i]he[/i] was, and [i]he[/i] had thought he was pretty in-touch with the magical community. At the very least, he was aware of it existing, and not everyone in his family was. What would have happened if Angelmaris had gone after one of his cousins?
Which brought him back around to the fae lord. Who still looked incredibly pathetic, bruised black and blue from his run in with the wards, his usually perfect hair disarrayed, his expensive silks scuffed and torn, and a small glimmer of hope making his enormous eyes seem even larger. When he wasn't being a complete and utter dick, he could apparently make himself seem rather innocent and adorable. Richard supposed that it made sense considering the old stories of how faeries tricked and beguiled humans. The shifter also supposed that he was probably getting the best deal that he was going to. It was almost certain that he couldn't get anything more with his own negligible negotiating skills, and it [i]did[/i] pretty much ensure the safety of his loved ones. He sighed heavily once more with a sinking feeling that he was going to end up regretting his next words.
"I'll stand as guarantor for Lord Angelmaris if you'll provide him sanctuary and accept him under your protection as a student of the university."
The dragon cocked his head to one side, examining the human as if seeing him in a new light, then a slow smile spread across his muzzle. There was another blast of chill air, and the human form of the sorcerer stood before him once more. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the small notebook that he kept on him at all times, flipped it open, and scribbled in a few notes, grinning all the while. He looked at Angelmaris when he snapped it closed and slid it back into his pocket, seeming quite satisfied.
"Excellent. Welcome then, Angelmaris of the land of Faerie, refugee from the Winter Court, and soon to be named Anathema by Queen Mab. I'll expect you by my home on Monday morning, and we'll help you with registration. You'll be expected to accrue mortal currency to assist your host with his financial responsibilities: housing, food, internet access, that kind of thing. You [i]will[/i] be expected to actually [i]attend[/i] your classes, as well. I'll provide funding for your initial enrollment and will continue to back your tuition requirements so long as you maintain a reasonable grade average. And, of course, if you find yourself in need of any additional tutelage, feel free to join one of my study groups!"
He gave them a light bow and headed for the door. Svetlana nodded to Richard, then gave Angelmaris the "I'm watching you" gesture, gave Crimson a smile and another wave, then followed after her husband. When the door shut behind them, the shifter went to lock it and heard a long sigh of relief that came from the direction of the couch. He ignored it and went to the connected kitchen, digging out some bread and slotting it into the toaster, getting a pan heating on the stove so he could make sausage and eggs, and starting up the coffee pot for some caffeinated brew to go along with breakfast. If he was going to have guests, or semi-permanent roommates more accurately, then he was going to have to feed them. Besides, he had shifted only a couple hours back, and he was hungry despite the overfeeding that Angelmaris had given him before they were returned to the mortal realm.
Crimson came over to watch him, curious, and he figured that it was as good an introduction to human life as anything else. At least until after he had pulled out the sausage and eggs and was busy beating the latter in a bowl. He heard the crinkle of plastic and the sounds of happy nomming. He knew what he was going to see even before he looked, but he groaned, turning to find the former harpy had ripped into the package and was stuffing the uncooked meat rather messily into her face. She gave him a look that mixed shame with surprised inquiry, and he just shook his head with a soft chuckle.
"Alright, Crimson. First rule of being a human. You have to [i]cook[/i] your food first. Just... lemme show you. Trust me, you'll like it a lot better once I'm done..."
28 August 2021 at 09:04:47 MDT
Chapter 7 of Richard's encounters with the Fae and Lord Angelmaris. Having gotten back to earth, now he has to figure out what to do with the renegade Fae lord.
Written by VeronicaFoxx