Dec 11, 2019 4:28 AM
A boon for a favour
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There are stories about fairy rings. The line of mushrooms often doesn't stand out, but it is true, and it won't lead you astray. You'll find the circle, if you follow that line. And once you step inside, you've made an invitation. Fairies don't usually take long to accept it. It's funny, that; you'll always find them there, almost as if they're waiting for you, even though they'll tell you that they just happened to be passing by.

They're not always friendly.

They're not always hostile, either, though. You're rolling dice.

The stories say you should never tell them your name. Names have power, they say. As do invitations.

As do favours.

It's a dangerous game to play. You may be invited to dance, and if you please the Queen, she might give you a gift.

The stories don't elaborate on what happens if you don't.

You may be asked a favour. You may be asked questions. You may be asked your name.

Never give them your name.

You may offer to do them a favour. They're wary of favours, but usually their curiosity wins out. They always want to know what those strange, strange humans have to offer them. And you may get a boon.

It's a dangerous game to play, and losing it may cost more than you have to give. But it may win more than you have ever dreamt of.

And when you have nothing more to lose, losing everything doesn't sound so terrible anymore, does it?

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She does not, technically, have nothing more to lose just yet. Still, she's straying rather closer to it than she'd like, and she will absolutely not stand for it. She would like to leave. Actually, Evette would run off into the night if she thought she could pull it off. Realistically, she can't, not successfully. She hasn't had the preparation time. If she takes time to prepare, then her asshole ex-boyfriend-who-is-somehow-very-confused-about-the-ex-part will also have time to prepare, and when he's the bastard son of the lord of this land she would really not like to see how that'll go.

Especially not after, uh, the past couple of hours. Apparently she has shit taste. Who knew. She hadn't thought he'd be the sort to respond to a breakup with a bloody marriage proposal, nor the sort to respond to a refusal of that inane question with, with—how he decided to respond to that. Evette is having a bit of trouble comprehending what very nearly just happened back there, her mind is skipping over it like a stone over water, but she does not particularly want to see how he'll respond to that broken nose she gave him. He did not respond well to her much more reasonable actions earlier, and while she very much thinks he absolutely deserved that broken nose, he's likely to think otherwise. And he's the one with the lord for a father, so. Best to have some kind of leverage that he's not expecting.

Thus, the fairy ring. This is incredibly dumb, but, look, apparently a lot of the decisions she'd thought were smart, or at least reasonable, turned out to be really dumb, so clearly she needs to broaden her horizons of possible actions, here. She has a basket of herbs, the knowledge of how to use them, and the firm belief that even fairies need practical herbs for things. Maybe nothing will happen, maybe the stories will be wrong after all, and it's all just made up nonsense spread by bored fishwives. But she learned most of what she knows of real use in the world from such fishwife based stories. Sure, sometimes they need some direct and methodical testing, but she's seen (and cataloged, and leveraged, and built her livelihood around) the truth in them.

Evette Lyon sucks in a breath through clenched teeth, steadies the shaking in her hands, and steps deliberately into the fairy ring.

Okay, fairies, what have you got for her, because the wonders of humanity are not filling her with warm fuzzies and delight.

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What the fairies have right now is a cool breeze sending shivers down her spine. And have the noises around her gone a bit quieter? It's probably just her imagination. Or just a coincidence.

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This is dumb, this is dumb, this is so dumb. This is dumb if she's right and if she's wrong, why is she doing this, this is awful, the waiting is the worst, she'd have tried something else first if she'd known that the fairy ring would involve waiting.

She stays in the fairy ring anyway. She does not say the sentence she's thinking out loud, because she's not actually an idiot. Still, she can think it in perfect safety. 'If the almighty fae would just hurry it the fuck up I'd be very grateful,' would be a very bad thing to say, because those kinds of open ended offers are not the sorts of thing that the clever people who got out of the fairy tales better off would have said. Evette would kind of like to channel the essence of clever fairy tale protagonist who gets what she wants. So she stays silent, and she waits.

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It's definitely not her imagination, now. Could be just a coincidence, but the cool breeze has turned into stillness, and even the leaves around her seem to feel it, unnaturally still as if they're holding their breaths.

It takes a few more minutes until she hears a voice: "You're one of the fun ones, aren't you."

It's coming from... below?

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She jumps a little, and then looks down towards the voice.

"I make no claims for or against my level of fun," she says promptly, in a business-like tone. Aaa! Aaa! It's working! It's working!!!

"Hello," she adds, cautiously, because it's always a good idea to have manners in these sorts of situations, at least according to the tales.

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And there, sitting on a flower, is...

...a very small man. He'd fit in her hand, probably, and given how he's barely bending the flower he's also probably very light. It's hard to make out his expression from this distance but it looks like he's beaming. And also maybe like his ears are pointy.

Also, he's wearing nothing but a loincloth that seems to be woven out of leaves.

"I guess there have ever been visitors who waited and who turned out to be boring. Or maybe I am just too impatient to wait the proper amount of time to figure out if you are one of the fun ones."

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"I'm glad, if I'd waited much longer I'd have started fidgeting, which would have been quite irritating. Especially for my hems, the poor things." That's not one of the clever fairy tale protagonist things that she should say, whoops. Instead she should say:

"I'd like to do you a favor."

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"Okay that is definitely a thing only a fun one would say," he replies, grinning even more widely. "What's your name?"

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She raises her eyebrows at him. "What's yours?" she asks, syrupy sweet.

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"You pass the test!" he says, and laughs. "What favour do you want to do me?"

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Okay this terrifying and somewhat exhilarating conversation is made more annoying by how he's, like, a handspan tall, and she's standing above him. She carefully sets her basket of weaponry (or, well, herbs) down on the ground, and then gingerly sits beside it so she can speak to him at a more reasonable level.

"I," she says delicately, "am an herbalist. I would like to offer you the knowledge of what these herbs might be used for, and then your pick of one to keep."

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"And what," says the fae, hopping down from the flower, "makes you think I want that?" he asks, his voice getting muffled and more distant as he quickly hops away from her without turning around to look where he's going or taking his eyes off her.

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"Because they're practical. If there's anything I've learned from tales of fairies at all it's that while you all have quite a lot of impressive magic and fancy boons and whatnot, you do not have, say, a concoction capable of inducing sleep, or something to cause you to vomit something you'd eaten unwisely."

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"You shouldn't trust all stories," he says, now just near a tree.

Then he steps behind the tree.

And when he steps out on the other side, he's no longer tiny. He is very, very much no longer tiny.

...or maybe he is. Was that tree so green before? And did its leaves resemble petals so much oh darn no actually she's tiny, now.

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Eep.

Still, it wouldn't do to squirm just because... this is happening. Fairies deal in misdirection and manipulation, if she jumps she's giving him what he wants. She stays in her seat, placidly looking up at him. If he were going to hurt her, standing wouldn't help her at all; it's the things she says and what she agrees to that are dangerous.

"I don't. If there's nothing of all that you'd like of me from this basket after I've explained all things the contents might do, you are free to turn me away, no favor given or taken."

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"Oh, but you see, you came here. That's an invitation. You can't just leave." He walks towards her again and sits on the ground cross-legged in front of her - at that size he's taller than her by almost a head.

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Aaaaaaaaaa.

"I'm not planning to. You wouldn't allow my departure, just to know if the flowers in my basket do anything at all? Or just what sorts of things each and every one might do? You're not," her lips twitch in something like a smile, "just a little bit curious about the fun little human that made an invitation?"

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"Oh, about the human I am," he readily says, leaning forward and staring into her eyes. "You're running away," he continues, a statement and not a question. "You could run away with me."

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She supposes that was fairly obvious, wasn't it, she tries not to let his correct supposition unsettle her. It kind of does anyway.

"And why would I do that?"

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"Because you have nowhere else to go," he says, again not as a question. "Because you are curious about the attractive fey creature who didn't want your herbs. Because you've heard enough stories to know that the visitors who are smart and who stay a while, those are the ones who get the greatest gifts. If they please."

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"Yes," she agrees, because, well, he's right, and he is very pretty, and distractingly not wearing anything but a leaf loincloth, and he has pretty eyes and she is not going to be distracted right now, thank you, "but didn't you tell me not to trust all stories?"

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"Well, that part of the stories is right."

And she knows he cannot lie.

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"Neat. If I wanted to be under the power of a mysterious and pretty man, then I do not need a fairy circle for that." That came out a bit snappier than she'd intended, he's clearly succeeding at unsettling her. Or, well, she supposes she was already quite unsettled.

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He raises both eyebrows. "Was he actually mysterious, or were you just surprised?"

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"He was mysterious, thank you, and then once I figured out the mystery I didn't like very much what I found, will you give me a straight answer on the herb front or not, or do you want something else to let me leave?"

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