Private Tales I robbed Tinkerbell?!

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Fraeya

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She blinked, sheathing the knife as he didn't take it. Perhaps he'd regret not stabbing her with it later. Perhaps she'd regret not making him do it.

"Oh I'm sorry," her voice dripped with sarcasm. "Is this all a big inconvenience for you?" A hiss as she spun around to catch up with him. "Maybe that's why you shouldn't steal from strangers."

Then a jumble of words left her lips in an ancient fae tongue.

"Eech nee srenay khat kumolt!"

A hand would reach out to tug on his arm as she meant to stop him and force him to face her. To get his full attention. "It belongs to a powerful court with beings that will eat you alive." She'd feel the weight of oaths press on her tongue but she could say at least that much.
 
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Jace

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"Well maybe," Jace tugged his arm free of her surprisingly strong grip and scowled. "You shouldn't leave powerful people's shit just layin' around on the floor!" he huffed before stomping onwards. Of course he knew thieving was technically the wrong thing to do, but it was generally accepted that there were thieves out there no matter how many city guards there were or hangings. If you didn't want to be one of the unlucky victims then you just kept an eye on your stuff; simple really.

It was rather rude she hadn't.

"Look, I'm sorry alrigh' - I though' it was diamonds I'd seen in your bag not a dusty book or I wouldn't 'ave bothered," he stuck his hands in his pockets glumly.
 
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Fraeya

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“Are you seriously blaming me?” She didn’t point out the other details. The ones that would fall on deaf ears. Like how Delun had placed the bag between them. That she always had to be more aware around fae, even the one that was like a father to her. That Jace was a damn good thief for getting away with it.

“Never mind,” she said quietly, suddenly drawing inward.

If he was THAT good. Maybe they had a chance to get it back. And she would cling to that chance like a lifeline in the middle of a stormy sea. She felt the fatigue slowly catching. She needed to sit down. Get some food.

“Do you know a safe spot we can go to rest and plan?”

An added quiet plea, “somewhere with some hot tea?”
 
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Jace

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Jace gave the girl a funny look; who did she think she was talking to? Did she notice the torn and patched clothing he wore? The smudges of dirt on his face? There was nowhere in this city that was nice like the little place that would accept him in this state. Certainly not somewhere that served tea.

"Safe, yes," tea...? She would be lucky if he could find some unopened wine somewhere in there. Tea wasn't really a luxury thief's spent their hard-earned money on. He didn't speak anymore as he led her down a seemingly random series of alleys and streets which grew progressively quieter and dirtier. The smell of the tannery grew stronger until the smell could almost choke a person unused to the smell where he then clambered up the steps to the little series of room his team kept.

Thankfully he knew they were all away tonight.

The door made a gods awful noise as he pushed it open and then stalked to the cabinets to look for tea. Artemis liked the stuff so maybe she had left some...

"Aha!" he smiled smugly and waved what he thought was tea leaves towards her. "Will this do?"
 
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Fraeya

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She tried not to gag as she entered the space. Couldn’t stop her eyes from watering. The fae certainly had refined tastes and it made sense with their heightened senses. The only other time she’d smelled something this bad was when they’d whipped Clarissa and left her strapped to the pole in the commons for days under that hot sun. Fraeya swallowed down the bile that wanted to come up.

Jace’s triumphant voice distracted her. A hand moved to push blonde wispy tangles behind one curved ear. Her instinct was to hide her ears. So instead of pushing her hair behind it, she smoothed it over the curved ends.

Eyes widened at the leaves.

“That’s not exactly tea,” she knew her plants. Her lips wobbled. “That’s an opioid.”
 
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Jace

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Jace looked at her blankly.

"Isn't that what tea is?" he looked down at the leaves again. He was pretty certain he had seen the faun put it in her cup before and it had always seemed to relax her; wasn't that what tea was meant to do? He was fairly certain he had heard the posh women say they needed tea for their nerves. The young lad scratched his head in confusion then shrugged and set it back where he had found it.

"If that's not wha' you want then I'm 'fraid it's just mead in the house,"
he pulled a bottle of the honey wine off the shelf and poured it into two chipped and dirty mugs.
 
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Fraeya

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A smile on her lips and a shake of her head. "Not most teas," she said. She wanted to laugh. But when was the last time she'd been able to laugh? Hell, if she was about to meet the devil might as well.

But it couldn't quite come.

Reaching out she took the mug and stared at the liquid dubiously. Bringing it up, she took a hesitant sniff, nose wrinkling as she tried to keep her face neutral. Lime-green eyes lifted, watching and waiting for Jace to take the first sip.

She never drank fae wine.

But this?

This she could do.

A quick glance around the tannery. "You...live here?"
 
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Jace

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Jace didn't take a sip. He downed the whole mug in two gulps and poured again whilst smacking his lips together, clearly oblivious to Fraeya's hesitation in drinking.

"Yeah," he glanced up at her and then followed where she was looking around the room. It was a shambles of a living space with bare brick walls and cupboards that were battered and barely serviceable. The floor was a tapestry of different strains in a variety of shady looking colours and threadbare rug by the fire which was faded to the point of grey. He supposed it wasn't a lot but...

"It's better than the sewers," he grimaced and then glanced around for a sign of a rat.
 
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Fraeya

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Sandy-brows lifted.

"Why wouldn't you just choose to be outside in the wood if the sewers was the only other options?" She took a gulp of the ale and nearly choked, coughing and sputtering. She forced herself to swallow before she spewed it all over the dirty and rickety round table she sat at.

A hand went to her chest, patting it as she gasped.

Her other hand went to wipe away the moisture that had gathered along the corners of her eyes.

Another clear of her throat as her voice came out raspy. "Oohkay. Walk me through this woman's den. Everything you know."
 
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Now it was Jace's turn to raise an eyebrow. Woods? Where the fuck did this girl think she was? Neverland?

"Right..." he slowly nodded his head as though she had just suggested he go learn how to breathe under water then sighed. He had half hoped she had forgotten about Kressa. Reluctantly he pulled scattered items that had been left on the table - an empty bottle, a lid, a knife and a thimble - and laid them out on the table.

"She lives above a club that she owns," he put down the lid. "It gets busy in the club - there's dancers and the like - so it'll be easy enough to get in there, but that's when it stops being easy," he sighed and put a bottle down. "You've got to get past the guards at the back to get up to the suite of rooms for the VIPs - this is where all her henchmen usually hang out - and it's also the only way to get up in to her private quarters which is where she'll have stashed your book," he put down a thimble to represent the crew.

"If you manage to somehow get past that lot then you have to deal with Kress herself," he grimaced and stabbed the knife into the table. "Elves don't like to be stolen from and she knows more spells than... than... a very smart mage."
 
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Fraeya

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She forced herself to gulp down more of that sour, burning liquid. The human ale. Ugh, this stuff was terrible. No wonder why he hadn't detected her drugged powder in that bar. The sour blotted out any other taste.

She leaned forward, looking at the set-up.

"So I'd need an audience with the crew. Kressa herself." Her index finger reached forward and tapped the thimble thoughtfully. She eyed the knife, undeterred. "Do they ever interview new entertainment for the club? I can," she hesitated not usually sharing her talent with anyone. Information was always powerful. She took another swig of the liquid and set the chipped cup down hard on the table.

She swallowed.

"Sing. Play the strings." Fraeya was good. Had a gift with music and song. So much so that it had saved her from the fae many times. A song as a bargain. Delun had always advised her to use it sparingly. Many of the fae liked collecting others with gifts. Were greedy and he feared the Erlking or someone else in the autumn court would easily trade her away from him.

"Or," she nudged the thimble before drawing her hand away. "Could pose as a buyer but that would involve Kressa advertising she has the book and is looking for buyers."
 
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Jace ran a hand through his shaggy brown hair and blew out a breath.

"Kressa doesn't really advertise things for sale, she tends to steal 'em with a buyer already in mind," but thieves had a way of knowing and if the price was right she might be interested in hearing what Fraeya had to say. If they saw her with Jace though they would wonder why he hadn't just sold it to her to begin with and why they were running all over Alliria looking for it. It would send the price of the book up more.

"As for hiring acts, that's Mal you're gonna have to see. He does hearings before the club opens for the night. If you're good he'll put you on. I could be your agent," he grinned.
 
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Fraeya

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It seemed like their best bet at getting to that inner room. Even if it took a few nights. She didn't have that long though. The next hunt wasn't for another fortnight. There was always the chance the Erlking would want to see the before before then but...at least she had some time.

A part of her wondered if she should just go fess up to Delun.

Perhaps the book was spelled to always come back if stolen. Or for the fae to be able to find it themselves. But the chance that wrath would be taken out on her, even though it hadn't been her fault was too great a risk.

"Sounds like our best option," her fingers flicked the thimble off the table and it clattered and skipped across the dirty floorboards. It was dark. Late. Dawn was just around the corner.

"If I'm good enough do you think Kressa will want to talk to you in that room. Call a meeting with my agent?" She stifled a yawn. Palm pushing away the sleep threatening at her eyes. "Are you even old enough to be an agent?"

Lips twitched.
 
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Jace

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"How old do you think I am!?" He spluttered angrily, spots of red blooming on his cheeks. Age was clearly a sore subject for the lad. In a band where he was the youngest he suffered enough with comments about being a child or immature.

He huffed and gulped down more of his drink, scowling darkly into his mug.

"If they think you're good enough you'll be taken up to the VIP area to perform privately for them," he explained gruffly. "Kressa likes to hear only the best, I can sneak up whilst you distract her."
 
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Fraeya

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Fraeya let a lazy smile slip along her lips. Hand turned upward to cup her chin, elbow on the greasy table as she made a show of taking a good, long look at him. “Hmmm,” she mused, eyes sparkling with a lightness that hadn’t been there in a long time.

“Definitely younger than twenty.” Fraeya was barely 20 herself but that didn’t matter. “I’m usually the youngest where I come from,” she added a little more gently.

Her smile faltered at his plan.

“How do I know you won’t double cross me?”
 
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Jace's eye twitched but he didn't rise to the bait. What he lacked in age he more than made up for in experience. At least... when it came to heists. He doubted this kid had stolen anything in her life, probably born with a silver spoon in her mouth, he thought bitterly to himself and it soothed him.

"You don't," he smirked and finished the rest of his mug, slamming it down on the table and standing up abruptly.

"Come on then, songbird, time to go sing for your supper."
 
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Fraeya

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She glared at him. She wanted to rip that smirk off his face. Were all males, no matter the species, the same?

Ugh.

A blink up at him. “What? No. It’s nearly dawn and I’m exhausted. I doubt owners of a club will be up this early. Is there a place I can lie down?”

She quickly added.

“Alone.”
 
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Definitely not from the city, Jace raised both eyebrows at her refusal. Alliria never slept. It was like the beating heart of Arethil and its rhythm could be felt morning, noon and night. Dawn was the perfect time to go and seek out the club owners who were no doubt winding down for the night. They'd be in good spirits after a profitable night.

But he had lived with Wren long enough to learn when not to argue with women about sleep. He huffed.

"Sure but if you don' like the livin' room you ain't gonna like the bedrooms."

For once, Jace was not over-selling just how bad it was. He led her to one of the rooms the crew took turns crashing out in when they had a chance. The bed was a narrow, rickety thing that sagged in several spots and oozed stale straw onto the floor. The floor was just was bad as the rest of the house and mould was growing on spots on the wall. Two other sleeping bags were on the floor.

He did a little flourish.

"Your bedchamber M'lady."
 
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Fraeya

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"I never said I didn't like it," she said quietly. But she couldn't help the frown as he bowed as she stood in the doorway of the room. The mold tickled her nose. And the other smells...

It almost made her prefer the fresh scent of the tannery below.

She silently smoothed her expression over. Right now she felt like walking the five miles on foot out of the city to find a tree to curl beneath or in. Or even in one of the city's vast parks. It's not like she'd never known discomfort. She'd had plenty of nights in the woods with nothing but the dirt, mud, and grasses as a blanket beneath a crisp air. But she knew how to survive there.

Here?

Here where she was meant to feel as human as she was she felt far from it.

"Thank you," she finally managed and chose one of the bags on the floor, pushing it quietly with her toe. "You're not tired?"
 
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Jace was halfway to closing his door on the way out when she spoke, causing him to pause.

"I just... sleep when I can," he shrugged. Even when he was a kid he had never had a set bedtime. Petyr would often take him out all night on jobs and then have him up again mid-morning to work the streets for him. Being a good thief meant being around for the best opportunities and if you slept like a normal person... well that was like eight hours of thieving he was missing out on.

"G'night," he nodded and then shut the door behind him.
 
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Fraeya

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She stared at the door after he was gone. Jace was like a puzzle she couldn't quite put down. Being here, away from the fae, was like that. She just felt so...out of place.

Sighing, she lowered down on the top of the bag and curled up on her side, not daring to tempt the creatures that surely lived inside the bag. Fatigue won over any discomfort as she quickly fell asleep.

A voice slithered in her ear like crackling leaves and decay: Fraeya. Fraeya...where is my book?

Lime-green eyes snapped open to the light of the day streaming in the dirty, small window half covered by a tattered blanket in the corner. Something glinted on the windowsill. Rising, she stalked over, seeing a shiny button, one acorn, and some packets of herbs inside. She quickly pocketed them.

"It's dangerous to do this," she whispered to the air. For a moment, she thought she saw a small, shadowy figure dart within a crack along the wall. "But thank you."

But she didn't see that movement again.

Turning, she opened the door, making her way back to what existed of the kitchen. Finding a rusty kettle, she put some water in it and within no time it was boiling. Dumping some old ale out of two chipped mugs, she dropped the two packets in that had been given to her from the windowsill, wondering if Jace had already bailed on her and left far away from here.
 
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Jace had slept in his usual spot when he had difficulty drifting off with a mission on his mind. The rundown shack they called a home above the tannery was blessed with a large overhanging roof and at the point where it peaked was a small alcove where a lanky lad such as himself could just about squeeze. It provided unrivalled views of the city and that calmed him. Sometimes it was nice to just watch half the city sleep even if he couldn't.

He'd woken after a few hours and had promptly gone in search of something to eat having not had enough coin to buy anything the night before for his supper. Breakfast was much easier to steal; bakers were too busy in the morning to keep an eye on everything at once.

By the time Fraeya was finished with the tea Jace banged back into the room with two warm pastries, though one was already disappearing down Jace's gob.

"Igo'yewahpaffry," he held hers out with a grin.
 
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Fraeya

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She couldn't stop the relief from flickering across her face as he entered. And then the confusion. She blinked wondering for a moment if the basic human language had changed. But she strung enough together as he held out a tasty looking iced morsel. Oh it was for her.

Cradling the second mug of tea she made she offered it to him.

"I made you some tea. Some real tea. Don't worry, it's not drugged." Even if he had tea before, this wouldn't taste like anything he'd ever had. It would taste stronger, fresher, crisper. And if he didn't like tea, he would probably like this.

Fae always had a way with herbs and plants. Things always tasted better in their realm.

She took the pastry and her mouth watered as she smelled it. She was hungry. Looking up, her teeth bit down lightly on her lower lip. "Erm, you have some. There's a blob of jelly dripping down, there." She pointed to the side of her cheek.
 
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The lad barely gave the tea a second sniff before taking a few gulps to wash down the sticky pastry that coated the roof of his mouth and tongue.

"S'ood!" He grinned and took another few gulps. It was hard to tell whether he was actually tasting it given how fast he drank it, but in this house it was eat quick or don't eat at all. He slumped into one of the chairs which groaned alarmingly under his slight form and wiped at his jammy cheek.

"Seconds," he grinned and licked at his fingers. "So... are you ready now or do you need to so more... prep?" He wasn't actually sure what singers needed to do to warm up.
 
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She leaned back, resting her rear on the edge of one of the tables and sipped her tea, while taking slower, smaller bites of the pastry. Much smaller than wolfing it down. But she did lick each finger free of the icing when she was done, making sure a crumb didn't go to waste.

Food may have tasted better with the fae but there was a cost and it wasn't always around.

Finishing off her tea, she straightened again.

She told herself this would be far easier than singing in front of Delun or the few fae that knew about her gifts. She told herself that anyway. But too much was on the line to turn into a scared little mouse now.

"No, I'm ready." Shoulders squared and she scooped up the two mugs now empty and put them back in the dirty kitchen. Fingers dropped, checking the bone knife that never left her side. She followed him out. A sideways glance cut his way, "But you're not going to be listening, right?"
 
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