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Aug 21, 2019 4:21 AM
Veron Chandler and Harry Dresden
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His charges delivered, Veron returns.

"Okay, handled."

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Michael smiles warmly. "Thank you very much. This is a much better solution all around."

"Yeah, agreed," Harry says. "Yay for not straining our friendship again! Now, uh, who wants to know what the hell is going on and try to plan with me."

"I'd appreciate it," Michael says drily. "Inside?"

He shows the remaining group into the kitchen.

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Veron smiles back at Michael. "Happy to help."

And then: inside!

"I can send messages back and forth, if you need to ask things of my guests while they're away. In case we need to, uh, ask them questions. We maybe forgot to ask them questions."

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"Well, first let's get the exposition out of the way."

He lays out the situation. Denarians kidnapped Marcone and tested a containment circle so powerful that it demolished a building. Winter wants Marcone found and Summer is sending hitmen after Harry. Gard feels that Harry should get the White Council to lodge a challenge against the Denarians, with Marcone's life on the line. They would have the right to do this, though Harry alone would not, since the Accords have been breached.

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Veron raises his hand.

"Okay so I've got a probably dumb question, but I'll ask it since it's exposition time. What are the Accords and why do they... matter...?"

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Harry blinks. "I keep forgetting you don't know this stuff, sorry. The Unseelie Accords are the laws that all magical beings abide by. A signatory of the Accords has certain rights, and Marcone is a signatory - the first nonmagical human to sign in the history of the Accords. That might be one reason the Nickelheads kidnapped him - a lot of other signatories don't like the idea of a human signatory, and they might be trying to teach him a lesson."

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"Or they might be trying to recruit him. Which would be very, very bad. He's a powerful man."

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"Ah. Gotcha. Okay."

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"So, Gard wants me to lodge an official challenge. The main problem with that is that the Denarians have no honor or respect for the law whatsoever, and will backstab me in a hot second. Gard knows this; she's essentially telling me to start a fight without technically starting the fight. The other problem is that I have no idea where the bastards are, or where they're keeping Marcone. The first can be solved by issuing the challenge, because even the Denarians won't just ignore it, they'll come out to play. The second is stickier. If I want to find Marcone, I need a sample of his blood or hair. Gard probably has some, because she's mercenary and paranoid, but she's not going to want to give it to me, because she's mercenary and paranoid."

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"Well. Since we're helping her out so much and also helping her find and save her boss, I think we'd have a better reason than most while asking nicely."

  "And if not!" chirps his dragon, "We're better at stealth than some lifelong-trained professional assassins, so I mean. I'm not saying we break into whatever vaults she might have and steal it and then return it once we're done, but I'm saying that it would not be outside of our abilities to do so and she's kind of objectively not a stand up person, and that I have no real moral problem with stealing from her."

Veron raises an eyebrow and looks at the dragon.

  "What? We were both thinking it, I just don't have the social skills to not say it out loud!"

Veron rubs the bridge of his nose. "And you say it in front of a bloody paladin. At least give him like, plausible deniability if we gotta break the law to save the world, that's just rude."

  "Oh. Right." To Michael: "Sorry!"

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Michael chuckles. "I put up with Harry doing it. And David, for that matter. But thank you for the compliment."

David speaks up. "Speaking of me, I think we should send me to talk the samples out of her instead of Harry. I'm significantly better at the social side of things."

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Harry nods reluctantly.

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Veron nods.

  "Okay! I can take you, and then bring you back. Want to go right now?"

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"If you would."

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  "Okay! Be back later!"

Since she's already curled around David's shoulders, it's not very hard at all to just shift and bring him along.

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The world fades into darkness, and then the darkness forms shapes and gains subtle colors. Faint blue lights offer the little illumination available in this cozy interior. There are bookcases, and comfortable looking couches, and windows that open to a world of pale grey, through frosted glass.

"They're, uh, thataway." She points with her nose to a door. "Through that door, down the hallway, uh, in a direction that will be decided upon once I see the hallway."

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David heads thataway. "Nice place."

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"Thanks! It's much nicer now than it used to be. It only really started getting all cozy after people stopped trying to kill us to take it." They reach the hallway. While it's a little claustrophobic, there are lovely landscape pictures on the walls, and a soft grey-blue carpet that soaks up the sound of David's footsteps.

"Okay, go left, then we'll take a shortcut."

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He follows instructions. "I suppose everything gets a little cozier in times of peace."

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"Pretty much! Helps that we also weren't evil, whereas the last Lord of this place, uh, definitely was. Okay, you see that painting of a forest, up ahead? Walk up to it, close your eyes, and focus on your senses of smell and sound."

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"Alright."

He walks up to the painting, and listens, and... smells.

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At first it is silent and without any sort of smell in particular. After a few seconds of stillness, he can note that there's a certain dampness to the air, and the faint sound of wind rustling through the branches. It smells... faintly woodsy, with a crisp of fresh outdoor windchill.

"Step forward," murmurs the dragon, in his ear.

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And leaves crunch beneath his feet.

"There!" says his dragon guide, pleased. "You can now open your eyes. Okay, how good are you at balance, I forgot to check. We can still get back if you're terrible at it, but we'll have to go the slightly less short way around."

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"I can make it through the woods," David says with a smile. He starts walking.

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