Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:00 pm

Anymore, she could come and go as a ghost.

After almost three years in Myrken Wood, Gloria Wynsee had taken her place amid its filthy regulars and downtrodden citizens, chiseling out a niche despite the muddy hue of her skin and the broken glass of an accent that still lingered from her life overseas. That had been her old life, her past life, a place of sand and blood where she'd grown into a fat little girl with a head full of nothing. Very quickly, Myrken had managed to peel back the Jerno and inject her with fancies, with ideas of her own, with the capacity for good decisions and bad ones.

And here, standing in the smoky upper hallway of the Broken Dagger with a tin cup of tea held in her fist, she wondered if this was another one of the latter.

The room across from her belonged to Ailova; the brigand, however, wasn't its only occupant.

"Phor," Gloria whispered, leaning forward to press her cheek against the wooden slats. Her rumpled bonnet crushed against the wood. With an eye angled to see through the slits between the boards, the girl wondered whether or not she could catch a glimpse of the world within: perhaps a sliver of the bed or a shadow of movement, maybe the glimpse of a secret to feed an insatiable surge of curiosity. Looking into the rooms of others was a portal to another life, another existence, something different.

"Open up," she encouraged, skirts rustling as she lifted a knee to knock it against the doorframe. "I brought tea. It's Gloria. I brought you some tea."
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:16 pm

Not much could be seen through the slats. But what could be heard was another story.

"...be much easier on you if you cooperate." It was Phor's voice. "It will be much easier on everyone. The other girls don't like to see you punished. And I don't like to punish you. But if you aren't good, what choice do I have?"

Her voice hiked an octave. You could set me free, Madam. Please, just set me free!

"You know I can't do that. Besides, what would you do if I did? No skills, no home, no money. You're just a dumb little girl. In a week you'd be begging me to take you back. And what of your family's debt? Do you want them to suffer for your selfishness, Chelsea?"

"I...no...but I can't live like this!"

"That's because you're struggling, child. Just relax, and be a good girl. Like Phor. She accepts what she is, and she's happy because of it."

A gasp. "I would rather die than be like that thing! It's not even a person anymore!"

"But she gets to eat this week."

"N--" Phor cut off when Gloria knocked on the door. There was a skittering of shadows and some rustling. Then, silence.

After a stretch of dead air...

"What do you want?" Phor snapped. She was less than happy to be interrupted during playtime. It was Gloria. And she said something about tea. Ailova had told her not to let anyone in when she wasn't around, which ostensibly meant not opening the door for anyone, but Phor didn't give a shit about following the woman's rules when she wasn't around. She opened the door.

The pallet where Phor slept had a blanket on it, strewn with hay. A series of lumpy figures made of mud and straw and sticks lined the wall. The bag Gloria had given her was beside them, stuffed full of something. A length of rope hung from the ceiling, ending in a little noose-like loop.

Somewhere along the line Phor must have gone into social mode, because she was wearing her best good-little-girl face. "Oh, hello, Miss Gloria!" she said. "I'm sorry. I thought you were, um, Cat, trying to bother me again." That seemed like a serviceable enough lie. "You said something about free tea? Is there whiskey in it?"
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:37 am

When Phor opened the door, Gloria was smiling. Her cracked lips tried in futility to hide the ruin of her teeth and their dull shade of yellow, but it was a task left sorely underperformed. "Tea," she said. "Just tea. No whiskey. I think it's quite better for the both of us if we divorce ourselves from any notion of having that drink again for awhile."

She lifted the tin cup -- all dents and divots -- and pilfered a sip of the scalding fluid before thrusting the vessel out to Phor.

"I brought it for you."

It was the figures that first caught her eye, little mud-made travesties of people propped up in audience against the wall. Though from this distance she couldn't tell them apart, their artificial stares prickled on her skin as she stood on the threshold. Gloria wondered if they'd been the actors in Phor's play, but prying (and Gloria, however reckless, was not always a complete fool) would have been too bold, too brash, too quick--

"I wondered if -- if it would be alright if I could visit for a bit," she said, surrendering the authority of the situation to Phor. "It was terribly dull downstairs, and my cloak and satchel are drying near the fire."

A frown. On the dark shale of her face, the sentiment was effortless. Far more natural and genuine than any grin.

"Cat's been bothering you?"
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:20 am

Though Phor's smile was a perfect fake little thing, the look in her eye was one of hate and scorn. This woman brought her tea, without any whiskey in it, in order to bribe her into having a "visit." Probably to hem and haw about what Phor had witnessed between Gloria and Mercy. Phor wanted to slam the door in the woman's face. Let that stupid fucking tea splash all over her, and laugh at her through the slats. Phor now had Ailova to fill all those obnoxious social needs of hers. Phor had once liked Gloria, back when she was desperately lonely, but now? The girl couldn't give a shit about the woman.

On the other hand, Gloria knew things. She had to know about some of the darker secrets of this place. And the woman was stupid enough that Phor felt she could pull that information out of her. And Phor liked free things, even if it was just boring tea.

"Sure!" Phor said, cheerfully. That cheer wavered when Gloria took a sip of the tea before handing over the vessel. Sure, it was nice to know that it probably wasn't poisoned, but now some of this disgusting woman's spittle was mixed in with the tea. But Phor took it anyway, and tentatively took a sip. It was....tea. Bland and boring. Phor wanted alcohol. She'd been wanting it more and more lately.

"You can um, sit on Ailova's bed." Phor ignored the question about Cat. She sat on her heels, on her pallet, and took another sip of tea. "What did you want to talk about?" You wide-hipped sack of shit?
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:20 pm

"You assume that -- that I'd some predetermination of subject," Gloria said, using the bend of her elbow to swing the door shut behind her. "If you want to know, I came to see how you fared. Menna Ailova mentioned you were bedding here. I'm glad you have a safe place."

Something dangled like a stone weight in those words, drowning their more genial qualities. A few of the crests and troughs in her voice had gone flat, any feeling falling away before it ever became sound. As such, her sentiments were suitably hollow. With her severed arm tucked against her ribs and her remaining hand clutching a handful of muddy skirts, she sat amid rustling fabrics on the edge of Ailova's bunk. Road-weary boots stuck out from a mass of mismatched petticoats -- layers all worn to will away the chill of winter.

Her lips formed a stern line. Phor did not want her here, and though Gloria did not hear, she saw. Eyes were gemstones, Duquesne had said time and time again: jewels and baubles set into the hills of someone's face, wealthy not for what coin they could fetch, but for their silence, their hardness, each like a looking-glass for the emotions they tried so desperately to hide--

Truth for truth.

"If you want to know," Gloria repeated, "I did indeed come to speak to you about something. But before I answer your question, it's only right you first answer mine. And if you'd rather not answer my question about Cat?" Her round chin jerked toward the hand-made effigies, and to the length of rope hanging above the pallet, still hungry for a victim.

"Then perhaps you'll tell me about the story I so rudely interrupted."
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:06 pm

"As safe as this place gets," Phor grumbled. But it was true that the insanity the tavern attracted had never gone so far as to affect the inside of Ailova's room. Until it did, Phor was willing to consider it a safe enough place. Certainly safer than the outside world. Phor took another little sip of the tea. It was still too scalding hot to take more than a drop or two into her mouth.

Phor saw that Gloria had picked up on her disdain for her. Good. Once the door had closed, Phor dropped the charade. "Stop staring at me. You're almost as ugly as Ailova, and you're going to make me sick."

But then Gloria turned her attention to Phor's toys. Perhaps you'll tell me about the story I so rudely interrupted. The woman had just admitted to one of the gravest of mortal sins. A transgression that dropped her to below even Catch in Phor's mind. "You were eavesdropping." Phor's nostrils flared. It was a visible thing, how Phor bottled that rage. How she set it aside, for later. To be unleashed when it came time for Gloria to be brutally punished for such an offense. "Please don't ever do that again."

Phor focused on the length of hanging rope. One of her toys had just earned the name of Gloria. "Cat bugs me sometimes," Phor lied. "It's none of your business, though. Now ask your stupid questions so you can leave."
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:20 am

There.

There she was again after barely any effort at all --it had only taken the equivalent of a thumb-press, of a flick to the lobe of an ear. The other Phor. Not the girl who fervently corrected Gloria's mispronunciation of her name, not the girl who'd naturally spurned maternal attention. No, the other one: the one on whom the horns seemed so natural that they almost disappeared; the dormant persona that had shaken itself free after a little too much whiskey. A spitter, a fury, a violent little bitch--

"It's bold of you to insult the woman whose -- whose charity brought you into the comfort of her room," Gloria said, and though her natural instinct was to tighten the lids of her eyes, she kept them wide, bulging, staring -- never at the horns, but at the urchin's face. "How else do you intend to show your appreciation for the other kindnesses she's offered you? A coiled turd on her nightstand? A bit of spit to top off her flask?"

(First, she'd stared down the Black Smoke. Then, time and time again, she'd yearned to set a fire whose only intent was to awaken the passenger -- It -- in Noura's veins.

When everyone had a second face, it was a worthwhile to know the limits of their patience, or exactly what pressures would awaken them from slumber.)

You were eavesdropping.

"You were being loud," Gloria rejoined, boots scraping as she got to her feet. "There aren't secrets in a place like this, Phor, that people don't eventually wring out of you."

Now ask your stupid questions so you can leave.

She'd not come with questions; no, she'd come with an ultimatum. But if Phor wanted her to have inquiries...

"Did they lie to Chelsea about your happiness?"
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:37 am

"It isn't charity," Phor spat. "I earn my stay here. And she knows she's ugly. But she's a boy-girl, so she doesn't need to be pretty. You're a girl-girl, so you do. And you're fucking ugly."

Did they lie to Chelsea about your happiness?

Snap.

Phor tossed the scalding contents of the tin cup towards Gloria's face. She was aiming particularly towards the eyes. "Sir Brayton is going to have a lot of fun with you," she giggled in a sing-song voice.
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby highawaywoman » Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:44 am

Ailova had chosen that impromptu time to enter her room. For a hardened woman who was used to being on her own? It was with shock that she opened her door to find the two girls. What was worse? The tea had gone vaulting through the air aimed at Gloria and Ailova made to grab the young woman's arm, hopefully pulling her out of the oncoming stream of burning liquid.

"Feck, Phor! Wot the feck?!" Ailova yelled at the gutter-snipe, not raising her hand in anger - but she was hard pressed not to hit the horned-brat.

"Gloria! Are ye alright?" Ailova bent her covered head to peer at the woman's face, as homely as her own. She whispered, "Ye can't be seein' her on yer own like this. She's, she's vicious." It was whispered softly into Gloria's ear, for that one's benefit alone.

The highwaywoman pointed to the cup that lay on the floor, "And wot the feck did I say about keepin' things nice and tidy?"
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:38 am

She expected the tea.

Ailova, she did not.

The brigand's tug -- timely and serendipitous, really -- brought her staggering out from the spray, but it didn't save all of her cheek or collar from the tea. The hot fluid splashed, burned, and bit at her skin, but most of it struck the door and wall behind her. Teeth made of gold flashed in front of her face as Ailova leaned in to speak to her, the highwaywoman's warning a high-speed whisper. Ye can't be seein' her on yer own like this. She's, she's vicious.

"Thankless," Gloria breathed, her shoulders heaving, breath filtering out of her in hard, sputtering bursts. "She's thankless," she repeated.

Twisting, she wrenched her sleeve from Ailova's grip.

And, like an oversized arrow springing free from a bowstring, Gloria Wynsee surged forward.

Though cumbersome of width and height, the seamstress was far from plodding in her pace: the fat of childhood still plumped her cheeks and neck, but her shoulders and upper arms had been shaped by a common life, by work, by labors of the everyday. Though she'd only one hand, it snapped out in an attempt to grab Phor by whatever it could seek. Her hair. Her collar. Even the horns, if she could find them. And if snaring fingers found purchase, their aim as agents of her forearm was simple: to pin the smaller girl against wall, or bedstand, anything. The whole time, Phor's laughter, her talk of Sir Brayton, clung like molasses to the inside of Gloria's mind.

Who?
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:19 pm

Phor hardly expected the timely arrival of Ailova, either. And there was nothing more infuriating than seeing a perfectly good spray of blinding, scalding tea go to waste, splattering against the door.

"Hey, I was going to clean it up," Phor responded to AIlova, indignantly. Nevermind that she could have permanently blinded Gloria. That had been her intention. Making a mess would have been an inconvenience, and she'd hoped to have it taken care of before Ailova returned.

And then Gloria lunged. Of course Phor had expected some retribution, she'd just attacked the woman with scalding tea. And when it came to agility, her kind had a strong edge. The problem was the room was small; there were very few places to retreat to.

Phor leapt backwards, landing on Ailova's dresser so perfectly that she might as well have been a ghost.

"Hey, Fuck off, One-Arm!"

Gloria was unlikely to give up so easily. The next time she went for her, the ram-horned girl jumped to the backboard of Ailova's bed. The wood was barely a half-inch wide, but her cloven toes found such purchase that it might as well have been several feet.

"Go spread your legs for Catch again!"

From the backboard, Phor leapt over the bed, behind Ailova and towards the door. She couldn't dodge forever in such a tiny room. She needed to get out.
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby highawaywoman » Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:14 am

In times of chaos Ailova had the innate ability to be calm. When shite went to hell, the blonde brigand was known for her serenity, despite whatever curses she might utter during the storm. Something very close to amusement played across her face as Gloria jerked from her grasp and went full-tilt for Phor.

What ensued next was a mess of jumping and scrambling - almost comical had not the horned-one been so intent on her course of harm and then neat escape.

The highwaywoman remained in her place next to the door deciding to do the simplest thing; with a casual raise of her wrist she neatly held the door firmly closed. One couldn't help but appreciate the way Phor jumped about the place like a scalded cat, but Ailova was a firm believer in fairness - karma if such a notion existed.

"Now, Phor. Ye could've blinded Gloria."
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Rance » Mon Feb 16, 2015 6:20 am

"It's unfortunate for her that she didn't."

The door clicked shut behind her. Gloria's shoulders heaved, an up-and-down, up-and-down, like she had a hearth's bellows blowing air in and out of her lungs. Ailova was so comparably calm, so genial and collected, and that made the impatient Jerno buried in Gloria beg more to be let out, to show this scrambling hoof-footed gnat how children were disciplined in places where sand whipped so viciously in the wind that it sliced skin, pierced eyes, and left scars.

She stopped giving chase. In such close quarters, the need was unnecessary; given enough time in such a cramped apartment, probabilities would swing in either direction: Phor would either flee, victorious and unpunished, or Gloria would snare cloth or skin and apply brutish muscle to the problem. Girl-girl as the horned urchin might have considered her, there were smears of old, faded blood on Gloria's skirts, smeared across the knees, spattered along the hems.

Girls still had fists, after all.

"Say it to my face," Gloria implored, never blinking, thrusting her head and neck forward to stare at Phor. "Go on, then. Look me in my eyes, get right here--" the consonants of her words were as sharp as blades, "--and tell me what you think of me. Say all you want. I'll give you that freedom just this once. Say what you feel about Ailova as well, if you're so bold.

"And then you can go get your Sir Brayton, and I can bloody his fucking mouth, too."
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby Antichthon » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:43 am

Shit. The door clicked shut, and Ailova kept it shut. "Fuck you, Ailova, let me out!" But there was no way Phor could pry open the door. She didn't have enough strength in her entire body to match Ailova's one arm. She could go for the window, but there was no way she'd get it open in time. Besides, she was cornered now. So she tried to keep Ailova between her and Gloria.

She could have blinded the woman? "Uh, yeah. That was the point." Despite her lip, she was clearly frightened. The door had been her last, best hope. "Now open the fucking door before she--"

Too late. Phor felt a snag as Gloria's hand found the collar of her tunic. the girl wheezed as she was forced against the wall. She was so light, that even with one arm Gloria easily lifted her feet off the ground. "Let me go!" She screamed and clawed at the arm holding her hostage. But Phor relied on not being caught. Once she was captured, there was nothing she could do. Well, almost nothing.

"Ailova! Tell her to put me down!" She looked at the brigand with wide, pleading eyes. "She's crazy! You know she's crazy, don't be on her side! I won't be able to help you if she beats the shit out of me!"
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Re: Tea for the Girl with the Horns

Postby highawaywoman » Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:04 pm

The highwaywoman didn't move, but kept her work-roughened hand firmly placed on the door. Calmly, she looked between Phor and Gloria. It was an uneasy war that raged within her; as someone who grew from constant physical abuse - her first instinct was to protect children and women from beatings. However, Phor had very neatly played on these sympathies that Ailova held dear. Finally, Ailova was beginning to see that her lack of physical punishment or threats had seemed to do nothing but to encourage the gutter-snipe to even more verbal and physical nastiness.

"She willnae kill ye, Phor. Besides, anyone who'd been at the receiving end of your wicked tongue? Has been spit on? Thrown scalding tay at? Been accosted numerous times bodily and with words?" Ailova took this time to lift her bony shoulders in a shrug, "They'd say ye had it comin', gel."

"Besides, I'm verra interested to hear wot ye have to say. Gloria here seems to think ye got quite a bit ye'd like to unleash towards meself and 'er. So. Let's 'ave it."

For once, Ailova's first thought wasn't for drink. Instead, she leaned against the door - making no move to step in to interfere with Gloria's brand of justice.
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