Following directions

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Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:44 am

/Are you sure about this?/ Eve asked as Liam headed up the street. /Following a stranger's advice is what got us here in the first place./

Liam grumbled and replied into the phone he'd pressed to his ear to look less like a madman. "Well, what choice do we have? It's that or try to find our own way and get even more lost."

He looked around at street signs, shop signs and passers-by as he went, each more confusing than the last. If the lass in the coffeeshop hadn't mentioned Faerie, he might have thought some kind of fantasy convention was in town. There were people with wings, people with pointy ears, and he could have sworn he saw someone with antlers. He felt completely out of place just for being normal.

The Drunken Loa was easier to find than he'd anticipated. He looked at the sign and took a deep breath, then stepped inside and looked around.

The place seemed cosy enough for a pub; the smell of alcohol on the air wasn't nauseating, at least. The booths looked good enough to sleep on, too. Or at least to pass out on.

Few of the patrons gave him a second glance as he made his way up to the bar. He cleared his throat to attract the attention of the person behind the counter. "Excuse me... I'm looking for Romi? I was told they could help me."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:05 pm

Ezem slowly lifted his gaze from the tumbler he was washing, heavy-lidded eyes betraying no surprise at Liam's appearance if he felt any.  His cool expression didn't waiver, but seemed to soften when he mentioned help, as if he could guess what had brought Liam into the tavern in the first place.  

"At the moment, I'm afraid she's finishing up with another appointment."  His voice was soothing, and he was either legitimately sorry that Romi was not immediately available for assistance, or very good at faking it.  "However, she shouldn't be more than a few minutes.  Would you like me to get you something for that eye while you wait?"  

He offered him a slight but genuine smile as he set down the glass and washcloth he was holding.  "We see quite a few fights here; cuts and bruises are nothing to take care of."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:11 pm

Liam resisted the urge to take a step back as the bartender looked at him. Intimidating was a perfect word to describe them. What kind of wings were those? Vulture maybe, or condor?

He sighed when it was clear Romi couldn't see him right away, but gave a small nod at the request. "Yes, thank you. This isn't from a fight... I was running from someone, through a forest. There was fog." One of his hands started up toward an itching cut on his cheek, but he lowered it again.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:30 pm

Ezem nodded his head back, lips parting slightly in an ah of sympathy. "The trees got you then, eh?" He ducked behind the counter for a moment, and there were several quiet clinking noises followed by the sound of a bottle cap being unscrewed. A thud signaled that whatever bottle was in use had been set down, then there was something reminiscent of a pepper grinder being used, and another tin being opened and closed before Ezem returned, holding a in his hands a square of several layers of gauze and salve and herbs, all folded into a thin envelope of cloth.

"Press this to your eye, carefully. The more pressure you use, the better it will stick." He handed the poultice to Liam, and with it came the aroma of aloe and rosemary and, oddly enough, coffee. There was something else to it, something vaguely smoky and reminiscent of firewood, but the other scents were more concentrated.

Ezem glanced down and caught sight of his palms. "And I have disinfectant for those scraped hands, as well."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:45 pm

Liam took the poultice and sniffed it curiously before pressing it to his black eye. "Thanks again."

He settled down on one of the barstools, but didn't take off his backpack. Questions chased each other around his head; he was afraid if he started asking them he wouldn't be able to stop. At the same time all he wanted to do was curl up somewhere and try to forget everything for a while. Maybe he'd knocked himself out on that tree and this was just a messed-up dream.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:13 pm

Ezem stepped away to make a drink for another patron, and was gone for several minutes before he returned to check on Liam. He opened his mouth to speak, hands working on rerolling his sleeves to his elbows, when the the door at the far side of the bar eased open.

A young woman walked out, watery smile curled across her face as she hugged a small trinket to her chest. She turned and thanked the tall figure in the doorway before ducking her head and walking out of the pub with a determined step.

"Darling," Ezem said. The figure stepped out of the doorway, raking her wild curls back with one hand while the other closed the door behind her. Romi looked up at Ezem's call, and her full lips turned up at the very corners.

Ezem nodded to Liam, and Romi turned her gaze to him. Despite the etched cleaver hanging from her belt and the string of claws around her neck, her face was warm and welcoming.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:16 pm

Liam looked around as the bartender called to someone, and cautiously returned the smile the woman gave him, while keeping an eye on her cleaver. He slid off the stool again before he spoke. "Hi. Are you Romi? I was told to come to you for help. I'm a newcomer here... my name's Liam."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:31 pm

Romi studied his face and repeated his name in her head, committing both to memory as she tried to do with every troubled sort that walked through her doors.

"I am indeed Romi." She reached out to shake his hand. "You look like you've been to all hells and back, Liam sweetie. How can I help you?"
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:35 pm

Liam shook her hand carefully, trying not to aggravate his palm. "I wish I knew. I'm here by accident, and I need to find a way back to where and when I'm supposed to be, but I've been told that's really unlikely. So I don't know what to do unless and until I figure it all out. Do you know if mobile phones work here at all? If I can't go home right away I at least want to tell my parents I'm alive."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:49 pm

Romi's brow furrowed the tiniest bit.

"Mobile phones are unreliable here," she started, "but old-fashioned ones'll be more likely to work. We have a phone booth in the courtyard if you'd like to try that-- it's an old rotary, but it has a spellbox attached and gets the job done more often than not."

She led him to an open doorway closer to the kitchen, which led out to a small but lush enclosed area between the building and the massive tree that protected it. An old-fashioned phone booth, painted black and fitted with stained glass panels that mimicked those of the bar, was nestled at the very corner of the garden.

"It takes coins, but if you don't have any saying 'please' usually does the trick." Romi rested her hand lightly on his shoulder. "Make your call and come back inside. We'll get you all sorted out, and if you've not got a plan by nightfall you can stay here. Yeah?"
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:26 pm

"Okay. Thank you." Liam shrugged off his backpack, digging through it for his wallet. 'Coins' wasn't very specific, but if magic was involved anything might work. In any case all he had to work with was euros.

He dialed his mum's mobile number, held the receiver to his ear and prayed, muttering "please" over and over as the phone rang.

Finally his mum answered, her voice sleepy and confused; he must have woken her up. "Hello? Who is this?"

Liam relaxed a little, but not too much. "It's Liam. Just letting you know where I am. I stepped out for some fresh air and wound up getting lost." Had he even left a note? He couldn't remember. "Don't worry about me, I'm alive and safe. Trying to find my way back."

"Where are you calling from?" His assurance not to worry had yet to take root. "How long will you be?"

"Somewhere called Lakeshore. I found it by accident. The people here are friendly, though."

"Stay right where you are, then, and we'll come find you."

Liam winced. The last thing he needed was for them to get lost too. Did he dare tell them about the person who'd been chasing him? "It's foggy as hell outside, Mum, you'll have as much luck finding me as I've had getting back so far. If we both go wandering around we'll just miss each other and make things worse. You stay where you are, I'll stay here for now, and once the fog clears my new friends will help me track you down." He hoped his voice sounded as calm and reassuring as he wanted it to.

His mum made an impatient noise. "Who are your new friends? Put them on the line, I want to talk to them."

"Okay, just a sec." He took the receiver from his ear and looked around. Romi was lingering in the doorway, and he caught her eye. "My mum wants to speak to you." Not that he could blame her.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:40 pm

Romi smiled and strode forward to take the receiver. She nodded to Liam and straightened a little, as if she were talking to the woman in person instead of over a phone line supplemented by magic.

"Yes m'am? This is Rosemary. I own a pub in Lakeshore, and your son is safe and sound with us."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:59 pm

"Hello." Eleanor Farrell's voice was calm and composed, but it was clear she was making an effort at it. "I hope you don't mind me asking a few questions. Where exactly is Lakeshore, and how soon can you bring my son back?"
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:07 pm

Romi sighed. "Well, m'am..." She pursed her lips. "Lakeshore isn't in a fixed place. The issue isn't so much helping him out of Lakeshore, it's making sure that he exits at the same point he came in. It might take a few tries to get it right."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:21 pm

Eleanor was silent for a long moment. At last she said in a much quieter voice, "If this is someone's idea of a prank, it is in very poor taste."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:28 pm

Romi looked at Liam, her eyebrows raised. "I've only known your son for a few minutes, m'am, but he doesn't seem the type to play this kind of prank on his mother."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:14 pm

Liam didn't hear what his mum had said, but Romi's response made his heart sink. What, did his mum think he'd been kidnapped? Admittedly it was a fairly logical conclusion to come to, but how in the world would they prove it wasn't true? He leaned in to hear what his mum would say next.

"Of course he wouldn't," said Eleanor. "We've been through enough hell this week, he wouldn't add to it. But I've never heard of Lakeshore, or of you. I don't see how somewhere that has access to any kind of phone service can not be in one single place. Either someone is lying, or mad, or--"

"Or something we all thought was myth and fantasy is actually real," Liam interrupted, with an apologetic look at Romi. "Think about it. If I were insane, why would Romi back me up? If she was lying, why would I agree with her? Unless I wake up tomorrow and find out I've been dreaming all this -- and trust me, I'm still entertaining the possibility -- I think we have some new realities to think about."

For a while the only sound on the other end was his mum's breathing. At last she said, "What are you saying, then?"

"The way I understand it, I'm half-in, half-out of Faerie," said Liam. "Yes, that Faerie. Home of the Sidhe and all the rest of the Fair Folk. This place has humans too, I think."

"But that's impossible..."

"I thought so too. But when the phone only works if you ask nicely and the bartender has twenty-foot vulture wings, it gets a bit easier to think it's true." He tried a laugh, hoping it would break the tension a bit. "I guess it's like Shakespeare said: There are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

His mum was silent; Liam thought he heard her stifle a sob. He took a deep breath and spoke softly.

"Mum... you know you can trust me. I don't know how long it'll take, or how it'll happen, but I'm going to do whatever I can to find a way back, and the people here are going to help. For now, I'm alive and I'm safe, and that's what's important."

Again there was a stretch of silence. The voice that answered this time belonged to his da. "I'm not going to pretend I understand this any more than Nora does. But I've been listening in, and it sounds like we've got no choice but to trust you. And your... friends." He sighed. "I'm glad you were able to call us, at least. Is there a number we can use to keep in touch? Does your mobile work at all?"

"I dunno if I'd bother, it's pretty spotty. This is an old rotary phone of the pub's that I'm using. Works partly by magic. I'm not sure of the number." He glanced curiously at Romi.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:30 pm

Romi listened intently, impressed and not a little bit jealous that his family was so understanding. "I'll give you the number. If you call when Liam's not here, I can get a message to him with no problem. It's..."

She recited the pub's number, and assured Liam's parents that she would look after him. "Hospitality is what I'm known for." She handed the phone back to him, and smiled.

"I'm going to check on Ezem," she said. "Do you want me to set aside a plate for you when we start getting dinner orders?"
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:59 pm

Liam nodded and smiled back as he took the phone. "Yes please. I'm fine with basically anything. Except chicken salad." That tasted like death to him now.

"See? I'll be fine," he told his parents. "I've got my backpack with me, so I have money and clean clothes and stuff. I'll call as often as I can. Try not to worry too much about me."

"No promises," said his da. "You take care of yourself, alright?"

"I will." And with luck the town would if he didn't manage it. "I love you."

"We love you, too."

Liam hung up the receiver and took another deep breath, then turned to head back into the pub. "Well, that went a hell of a lot better than it could have."

/No kidding. So what now? We're going to need a plan of some kind if people are going to help us./

"Yeah." He ran a hand over his face and immediately regretted it, as every cut, scrape and bruise sang in pained harmony. "Oww, that was stupid." He pressed the poultice back against his eye; it had started to fall off. At least it seemed to be working.

He found Romi again and caught her eye when she didn't look too busy. "If there's anything you need done around here, cleaning and stuff, I could help with that. If I'm going to be staying here indefinitely I should earn my keep."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:08 pm

Romi smiled. "Whatever you feel like doing. I usually let people pay what they can, whether it's money or chores." She slid a plate of beef stew and rosemary potatoes towards him. "We had one woman that was here waiting to elope with her lover and she stayed two nights. She gave me this massive bag of hazelnuts and taught me how to make these delicate little wafer cookies with them."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Thu Nov 12, 2015 7:13 pm

Liam sniffed appreciatively at the stew, and grinned as Romi spoke. "Really? That sounds like fun. If only I had my cello here, I could provide some entertainment." Might not be bad for busking in the streets for a little extra cash, either. If he had it. Which he didn't.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:53 pm

Romi's eyes sparkled at the thought. She loved watching musicians play-- just as she loved to watch artists and cooks and even teachers ply their trade. Hell, on slower nights, she liked to sit at the bar and observe Ezem craft each drink as it was ordered.

In her defense, Ezem had lovely hands, and she was easily distracted by them.

Ahem.

Romi pressed a hand to her cheek and turned her head to look at Ezem, a new smile curling her lips. Then she realized that she was speaking with a new friend and blinked, returning her gaze to Liam.

"I'm sure we can help you find an instrument. If you end up staying a while."
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:00 pm

Liam nodded and answered between bites of stew. "Aye, I'd like that. Wouldn't mind finding a second-hand one, as long as it still worked. I've been thinking of picking up the harp lately, too. My sister used to play." And maybe she still could, if he let her borrow his body to do it. Then again, he wasn't used to napping during the day, and it might be seen as rude to the other people here if she played at night when he was properly asleep.
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Re: Following directions

Post by Odol Xhyl on Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:14 pm

Romi patted the tabletop and hummed. "We've never had a harp player here. That kind of music doesn't quite..." Her lips quirked to one side. "It doesn't really fit with our aesthetic."

She grew quiet for a moment. "Used to? Did she lose interest?"
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Re: Following directions

Post by Liam Farrell on Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:22 pm

Liam looked away, regretting even having brought that up. "No. She..." He swallowed and tried to fight the burning in his eyes and throat. "It's hard for me to talk about. Not something I'd care to discuss over food, anyway." And that was beside the fact that she might well think him mad for telling the whole truth. In a town full of more kinds of Fae than he could name, would people believe he had his twin sister's soul trapped in his mind?
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