Sep 18, 2018 1:15 PM
what desperate enterprise
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Z summons fairy Anna
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For more than a decade, he has been consumed by the search for some way - any way - to escape the eternal punishment which must necessarily await him after death. Every avenue of research has ended in failure, every magician or sorcerer turned out to be a charlatan. Jeremiah is past his prime, and his mission grows ever more urgent as the spectre of his eventual death stalks closer.

In desperation, and his knowledge that he is damned regardless, he turns to the darker arts, those which the church has explicitly forbidden. For, if they had no power to work against God, he reasons, there would be no reason that they should be prohibited. And so he has come, at last, to a resolution. On Walpurgis Night, one of the nights in the year on which the borders between the earth and the fairy realm are thinnest, he will attempt to call upon the Fair Folk to strike a bargain, and thereby gain the eternal life of their kind. 

Having no records or precedent to guide him, he works from information gleaned in fragments from the old stories: a circle drawn in salt on the ground, which the fey cannot cross; meticulous instructions written around it in chalk so that even the cleverest of truth-twisters will not be able to trick him out of anything with which he does not wish to part; words of poetry compiled and composed into a chant with which he will call a faerie to his aid.

As the clock in the nearby church begins to strike midnight, he begins. The circle is drawn out and surrounded with writing, a gap left through which the faerie will be called, and his voice raises in his readied chant. As he rattles off the rehearsed rhythms, he feels a growing certainty that this time, as no other time before, he will succeed. Finishing his call as the last strokes ring out, he reaches for the salt and completes the circle, hopefully trapping the faerie inside. 

"I command you, spirit," he cries, "reveal yourself!"

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And lo, someone appears in the circle. A young woman, barefoot with pants and a backless shirt. Two sets of wings sprout from her back, iridescent and slightly translucent. They shimmer in the light as she flutters them and looks around.

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Well. This is already more of a result than he has ever gotten before.

In the light of the candles ringing the room, he paces around the perimeter of the circle, careful not to let any part of his body or clothing cross over the salt line, and inspects the faerie from the corner of his eye.

He waits for it - her? - to speak first, not willing to give her an opening that she might be able to use against him.

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"Um. Hi? Bit dark in here, isn't it?"

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"Yes, it is," he agrees.

"I thought it appropriate to perform this ritual at midnight."

He is careful not to say anything which might be construed as a request; there are stories of the fey answering the first question asked of them, and no more.

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"I'm more of a mornings person, myself."

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"And yet," he remarks.

"Here you are, at a time that could not by any reasonable measure be described as 'morning'."

Still not making any requests, until he has determined which of the dozens of formulae for dealing with the Fair Folk will give him the best chance of success.

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"Day's not yet half over in Fairyland. What's your excuse?"

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"It appears," he replies, "that I may have gained a somewhat inaccurate impression of the natures and preferences of the Fair Folk."

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"First time summoning?"

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There's...probably no harm in answering questions. In fact, if he answers hers, he may be safe asking one of his own.

"That is correct," he says, weighing each word precisely.

"Is this your first time being...summoned?" And that is an interesting choice of descriptor, but he does not yet feel confident enough to ask for clarification.

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"Nah. It's been a while, though. The last mortal I had a regular thing with died, and I guess my name didn't get passed on."

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She seems to be volunteering information freely, although he cannot discard the possibility that there is some hidden cost which will make itself obvious later. Still, there is such a thing as excessive paranoia.

"And what is your name?" he enquires, attempting to sound as though he does not particularly care about the answer.

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"Evanathe. What's yours?"

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"Ezra Howard." 

It is close enough to the truth: Howard is his true surname, and Ezra his middle name. An effective compromise between the sources which agree that one should not give out one's name to the Fair Folk, and those which warn against lying. 

He watches Evanathe carefully, to see whether she will catch the half-truth.

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She doesn't appear to.

"Nice to meet you, Ezra."

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"Likewise." 

Mostly for the potential utility value, admittedly, but she seems far more personable and friendly than he was anticipating, and does not appear displeased by her confinement to the circle.

He thinks back over the course of their conversation and determines that, if they are trading a question for a question, he is safely entitled to ask another.

"Is there any advice you can give me, for the case that I attempt further summonings in the future?"

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"Not really! I don't pay much attention to the circles."

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So it is the circle which performs the important function; that is useful information. 

He decides he might as well find out what happens if he asks too many questions, now he knows this trick is possible to repeat. 

"Is there some way that I can be sure of summoning you, in particular, again?" Or to be sure of summoning a different faerie, he thinks but does not say.

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"You write that you're summoning me in particular and use my name."

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"That is good to know." A compromise, again, between politeness and the warnings against thanking the fey lest they interpret this as the admission of a debt owed.

There does not appear to be any bar on asking more questions than he has answered, and she is making no attempt to redress the balance. Clearly a transactional approach is not in operation; he is free to question Evanathe until she grows irritated with him of her own accord - although, being fey, she may do so at any moment. 

"Perhaps we should turn to business," he suggests. 

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"Up to you. Wouldn't have taken the summon if I had something waiting on me back home."

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So, she could choose whether to accept the summons? Another useful tidbit which he should not reveal to be new information. 

"I would rather know, at this juncture," he says, "whether or not you can provide what I seek."

It is late, and this conversation is exhausting given the way he is analysing every sentence on multiple levels. He would like to finish this, acquire either immortality or the knowledge that he has failed once more, and rest before beginning the next attempt, if such is required.

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"Depends what it is."

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Here it is. 

His hands are shaking; he holds them behind his back so that they will not reveal his desperation. Hardly breathing, heart beating so loud he can barely hear his own voice, he answers her. 

"Immortality. I desire immortality."

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