Treasure felt so humiliated. Clam it, he should be used to the Unseelie Court’s rougher side, but he was weak. Oh, Cod, what was he thinking losing it like that, they were going to eat him alive! Dagda rode through the window and snapped his fingers; the wind roughly depositing him onto the floor. He had his arms wrapped around a human in a business suit who looked like he was about to pee himself, not that Treasure was judging, Dagda had that effect on people.
“Hey! Your Highness, what’s swimming?” He flashed a winning yet slightly nervous smile.
“Reigning terror on the human race, I am,” said the Unseelie King. The human started yelling at Dagda throwing out words like police, arrested, and lawsuit. The Unseelie King ignored him.
“Who’s this?” he asked.
“For the Tithe,” the king stated.
Someone really needs a new hobby, Treasure thought to himself. Fishing camping and gardening are all easy non-bloody ways to get back in touch with nature, but nooo he has to go for the messy, sacrificial ritual stuff.
Dagda frowned. “Pay attention, moppet!” he snapped.
“Huh, yes, sounds like fun, the kind of fun I’d like to miss,” the siren boy remarked, only .
The king cracked a smile. “And while I’m gone, I need you to put him down in the basement and entertain Fernando.” Just like that the siren’s good humor faded. As he wearily eyed the large beast ripping a hole in the pillow goose feathers flying across the aquarium floor.
“I...I don’t know a thing about minotaurs.” he protested. “Except I do know how sharp minotaur’s horns are, do you know how sharp they are, Your Majesty?”
“How sharp are they?” the Unseelie King asked while pulling out an extremely long list.
“Sharp enough to gore the likes of me to death,” he replied. Dagda let out a chuckle and thrust the list at him. Treasures eyes widened as he took it. The siren scanned the list seeing only meaningless scribbles. Panic grabbed hold of him and squeezed his chest. It only increased as he glanced at Fernando shredding the pillow with his horns.
“Look at the little darling play,” Dagda gushed, the fairy king’s eyes darkened suddenly as he grabbed Treasure by his collar. Great another terrifying threat. “You can handle this, I hope, I’d hate to replace you,” the king threatened.
It seemed the use of the word; ‘please’ had gone extinct this century. “Understood, boyo?” Treasure nodded his head up and down. Dagda let go of him and patted the siren’s head affectionately. “Bye Fernando, daddy will be back with a tasty treat he will.” Then the king left.
“What now!” the siren boy shouted. He scanned the list again as if hoping his stare would magically turn the words into pictures. Then he noticed the human trying to escape. “Hey, scruffy, help here?” The Minotaur glared at him as it grabbed the human lifted into the air by the back of his suit.
“I’ll ruin you, aiding and abetting a criminal is against the law, you want twenty to life?” the man explained.
“Well helping a tithe tribute escape is against our law,” Treasure explained.
“What is this tithe business? It sounds shady.” Treasure was about to answer when the Minotaur merely snatched the list from him and shoved him down on the ground.
“Hey! Not nice!” the siren yelled. The creature ignored his cry of indignation and stood facing Treasure its hoof tapped the ground impatiently. “What?” The siren boy asked nervously. The Minotaur snorted in annoyance and threw back its head.
“Oh you want me to amuse you,” the siren realized. Treasure quickly did a handstand; the Minotaur gave him a look as if to say “really.” “Well everyone else is impressed, Mr. Prissy.” the siren informed the Minotaur huffily. He turned to the human and said quite enthusiastically “Hi, I’m Treasure.” He got off his head because that was starting to feel not so good.
“Makulu Sahib,” the human replied. “What the hell is going on here?”
You don’t want to know, Treasure thought.
“Young man, you better tell me now.” The human gave him such a stern glance Treasure was reminded of how it felt to stand in front of his own grandmother.
“All right! All right!” He paused. “Magic is real, this is the Unseelie Court, I’m a siren, oh, and we’re sacrificing you tomorrow.” the siren boy added feeling awkward.
“You expect me to believe...wait? what!?” the human burst out.
“Hey, you asked,” Treasure reminded him. The human stood there gaping for five seconds. “I should lock you up now.” The boy added glumly. Then he turned to the Minotaur. “Um, please, could you release him?” His tone was meek. The hulking beast did so, none too gently. “Okay, so right this way human.”
The human glared at him. “No.”
Treasure sucked in his cheeks. “Why not?” he whined.
“You just admitted you intend to kill me,” Makulu snapped. Treasure had been having a very bad day, and when one is having a bad day, the last thing they need is a justifiably yet uncooperative human. Treasure was suddenly feeling downright cranky, and so he became quite unsympathetic as angry people are prone to do.
“Get your ass down those stairs now,” the siren boy snapped.
“Who do you think you are?” the man demanded equally as angry.
“Someone whose boss is awful and who will lose their head if he doesn’t follow orders, regardless of how he feels, because Cod forbid I have actual feelings!” the siren boy ranted.
“You think you have it bad, I’ve near been eaten by a bird, kidnapped! And set for the sacrificial altar!” the man shot back.
The Minotaur roared and thumped its chest. “Will you wait a finning minute?” Treasure threw up his hands dramatically. “You know what, forget it.” Treasure marched to Baba Yaga’s hut and came back with a rope and Sealiea’s spear. “Hold him.” The Minotaur glared. “Look, I get him into the basement, and I’ll do whatever you want, Fernando.” the siren said in a puppyish voice mixed with a hint of annoyance. The Minotaur grabbed the human and forced his hands behind his back. Treasure felt some of his tension slip away, as he tied up the angry human with the ropes.
“Careful, I have sensitive skin,” the man barked. Cod, it was like Dagda was still in the room with him. Treasure shoved the spear against the humans back.
“March.” He tried to look stern. The human glared at him venomously but took one look at the spear and did so. The two of them descended down the stairs, with Treasure prodding the human gently to get him moving. While trying to keep his thoughts from wandering to the cause of his irritation. Rashell, who was scared, cold and still in pain added his conscious. The siren felt torn, on one hand, Reaper had given a good reason for it. And he as Dagda’s right hand he would know. But whenever he thought about Rashell, he could feel something squirming in his gut, as if he had a jellyfish in his stomach. How could someone so tiny be a threat anyway? Sure, he had some skill with a sword, but surely Dagda was mistaken about the Leanansidhe being a part of the secret royal guard. Sure no one seemed to know who exactly was killing Dagda’s top assassins.
The siren boy finished herding Makulu down the steps. Treasure eyed the door down at the bottom of the stairwell hesitantly then sighed. “I’ll be in and out, I won’t look at him,” he told himself. To even think about interaction with a court enemy, if you weren’t ordered to was treason. But those screams, that terrified face. The siren boy opened the door and pushed the human inside.
His prisoner let out a gasp at the sight of Rashell. “What kind of sick people are you?” the human demanded, his voice held disgust. “You’re keeping a child captive down here.” His voice shook with rage. Treasure made the mistake of looking at the said child. Rashell sat against the back wall his pale arms wrapped around his little knees his eyes were tearing and he was clearly in pain, although the gag mostly muffled his screams of agony. Treasure could tell he was screaming. The siren boy quickly tied the ends of Makulu’s rope to a loose pipe, ignoring the man’s protest. Then gritting his teeth against his nausea, he opened his mouth and sang again.
“You’re not in pain; you can’t feel your flesh burning,” the siren sang, his voice laced with power. Suddenly the look of pain faded from the Leanansidhe’s face. As a wave of Treasure’s magic washed over him. The siren boy inturnally cringed at how easy it was. Surprised, the tiny fairy touched his bound wrists with one pinky. A burn appeared on it, but he didn’t flinch. Sobbing with relief, the fairy boy used his chained hands to remove the gag. Treasure took a step forward and was knocked back on his butt, by the invisible magical shield surrounding the area. The fairy boy lifted his head up and started laughing at the sight. The human joined him.
Well, that explains the door being UNlocked, he thought crossly.
“Glad you find this amusing!” Treasure growled.
“I’m burning, and I’m going ta be forced back ta the Hunt,” Rashell snapped, smoothing his white-blond hair with two fingers. He looked paler than before.
Come on you’ve had a look, now leave. his sensible side urged. But curiosity tugged at Treasure. This bird-like boy in frills and lace was a threat? Brown eyes blinked once.
“What do ya want?” asked the fairy boy putting haughty disdain into his voice. He had a very clear sounding voice fresh with youth without the slightest crack or break unusual for his age. The siren boy shuffled his feet and stood there awkwardly. The two foes eyed each other one in curiosity the other in shame.
“Are ya here ta interrogate me?” asked the Leanansidhe fear crept into his voice as he leaped to his feet, clutching the back wall for support. His legs shook like they were about to topple.
“NO! I don’t... I just wanted to see, if you ah needed anything.” said Treasure.
“Besides me freedom?” Rashell asked sarcastically.
“Um, so I take it that’s a no. So I hear you’re pretty good with a sword.” The siren scratched his curly dark hair awkwardly.
“I guess,” the fairy mumbled.
“Great! I tried but I’ve never been good with weapons. I mean Reaper tried to teach me, but I just wasn’t good.” Treasure admitted. Silence. “So how did you learn? Did the Seelie Court King teach you?”
The Leanansidhe snorted. “Briar didn’t deem me important enough ta teach,” he answered.
“Oh, well, where else would you learn? I mean, I suppose Fox could have taught you but she dosen—”
The fairy cut him off. “Has anyone told ya, ya talk too much?” Rashell giggled.
Treasure felt pleased to have made a breakthrough. “I’m not going to stop talking until you answer,” he promised.
“Why? gathering intel? Think if yer nice ta me I’ll tell ya everything!” he dark muse sounded suspicious and angry.
“If I wanted you to tell me everything, I’ll I’d have to do is sing a few notes.” the siren pointed out.
Rashell glared at him. “Ya mean when ya made me think I loved ya?” he spat.
Treasure shuffled awkwardly “Um, yeah.” he admitted.
“Why don’t ya da it, then?” the Leanansidhe challenged.
“I don’t like messing with people’s minds!” Treasure said defensively.
“Ya just did it,” Rashell shot back.
“Well that’s different, you were in pain,” the siren said.
“It bothered ya,” mused the fairy boy. There was a moment of awkward silence. Rashell sighed. “When I still lived with the Hunt, I had ta learn ta protect myself.“The Leanansidhe’s face softened.
“What could you possibly need protecting from?” asked the siren without thinking.
Rashell’s face darkened. “Everything! To be a Leanansidhe is too considered weak,” he answered bitterly. Easy pickings for the rest of the Hunt the rest went unsaid. Treasure cringed, he had heard some rumors of Leanansidhe treatment. Mostly crass jokes from Reaper and Jenny. But he never really thought about it much before. “Do ya have any idea what it’s like ta be a boy who’s a part, of a species associated with just women?” Rashell questioned.
“In our culture, Sealiea is considered a fine example of womanhood,” Treasure admitted.
“I’ve had some bastards; try and check ta see if I was a lass,” the fairy boy replied offhandedly. “I broke his nose.”
“You’re a tough one,” Treasure said a bit enviously.
“I have ta be, ” said the fairy boy.
“You must really hate me,” said the siren feeling even more horrible.
“Yer just obeying yer monarch. I’d have done the same,” said the fairy. Then Rashell seemed to snap out of it. “But enough unpleasantness, ya can tell me a story.” the dark muse said, brightly brushing himself off and straightening his clothes.
“Um, I should get back soon,” the siren boy admitted.
“Oh well, we can just sit,” Rashell said sounding disappointed.
“I can sing,” Treasure suggested.
“Ya don’t have to,” the fairy said quietly.
“It’s no trouble, now what song would you like, happy, sad, dramatic, war, any preference?” Treasure asked.
“As long as it passes the time,” Rashell said carelessly. The siren boy cleared his throat and started to sing.
“Oh some day’s things just don’t go right, some days you take a bad tumble.”
Treasure did a tumble while he sang the lyrics.
“Some days just want to walk straight but you end in a ...
Treasure pretended to trip, while Rashell let out a laugh.
“Some days you just can’t get it right, let’s face it you’re no knight.”
The siren boy puffed out his chest and raised an imaginary lance.
“Thank the goddess!” Rashell called out.
“Everyone of us thinks we’ve got it sooo bad.”
Treasure fell on his knees and made an exaggerated face of misery, accompanied by hand wringing.
“But if we actually thought about it, we’d be glad.
At least you’re not,
A daring young explorer who ends up as a cannibal’s desert,
The man hired to clean the king’s chamber pot,
At least you can say him I am not!
The sailor with scurvy, a woman giving birth that seems like it really hurt.
Anyone in a witch-hunting town riddled with strife,
And any human who’s had the misfortune of ticking off my wife.
Yes, there are people who have in far worse,
There are those who have the right to curse,
And hey when I’m down it’s a comfort to this clown,
So turn that frown upside down.”
The siren pushed Rashell’s mouth up into a smile and got a genuine one in return.
“And remember when you’re lonely and blue,
There are folks who have it worse than you.
They say misery loves company, and truer words have never been spoken...um
Out in the open, so let’s raise a glass to misery
And repeat after me say “some people are far more miserable than I.”
Then he proceeded to sing the chorus and this time, Rashell clapped his chained hands to the imaginary beat. Treasure really had fun with it, and broke into a weird little dance and started singing each note using different voices. The deep opera baritone, female falsetto, his voice was still too deep to pull off an incredibly high voice, but he had fun trying. Little kid voice, grumpy old man voice, etc. In the end, he bowed dramatically. Rashell started clapping. “Bravo! Bravo, brav...” A hand clamped down on his shoulder.
“Yes, isn’t it?” Reaper said harshly. The siren flinched back there was something dark in Reaper’s eyes and they were red-rimmed.
“Reaper, are you okay?” The siren boy put a hand on his shoulder.
The death fairy slammed him into the wall. “You dolt! You were singing around a Leanansidhe!
Treasure was confused. “Huh?”
The death fairy’s glare deepened. “He gets power from the creative energies you’ve been giving him,” Reaper scolded harshly. Treasure looked back at Rashell, who come to think of it, looked a bit healthier. The fairy boy studied his fingernails broadly.
“But...you said you understood,” said the siren.
“I still don’t want ta die, and yer a mind violating wanker,” Rashell said peevishly.
“So all this confiding in me, you were just trying to get my guard down!” Treasure exclaimed.
“So while... Dagda and I were fighting for our lives you’ve been swapping stories with the enemy.” Spittle hit Treasures face.
“Where’s Dagda?” asked Treasure.
“He he...He’s there was a human with a gun...the bullet was meant for me.” Reaper choked back what almost sounded like a sob.
“What, Reaper, what is he?” The siren boy grabbed his friend’s broad shoulders.
Reaper’s eyes turned black. “Where were you, through all of this? Cowering as always, no worse, fraternizing with our foes!” he spat.
“It wasn’t his bloody fault, ya wanker!” Rashell yelled. Reaper put his hands to the shield and it peeled away, he stalked across the room, to the fairy and threw him against the wall.
“So you want some attention, you dirty little whore,” snarled the older fairy.
Rashell slid to the floor. “Hey, leave the kid alone!” the human called out.
“Dagda and I went shopping earlier.” The death fairy fished a large knife out of the deep pockets of his long black cloak. As well as a bottle of pills, a gag, needles, and even a heating iron. “Happy birthday,” the death fairy said sweetly.
The Leanansidhe paled. “Ya agreed ta no torture.”
“Dagda is gone, the deal is off.” Reaper stated sharpening his knife placing it on one of the old empty tanks that littered the basement. Treasure suddenly had trouble remembering why he was friends with this man. Rashell’s shoulders started to shake. “Unless you want to cut a deal your safety for the Seelie court’s secrets.”
Rashell froze, gathered his courage, and looked Reaper in the eyes. “Begin,” he stated quietly but firmly.
“So you’re the loyal type, I can respect that.” Reaper nodded. “Okay, today I’m gonna soften you up, tomorrow I’ll make you a different offer.” The death fairie nodded. “Sealiea just doesn’t get it. Pain alone means nothing after a while, in order to truly break someone you have to get them to betray their strongest ideal.” He smiled pleasantly.
“What’s the point of telling me?” Rashell demanded.
“It’s more fun if you know the rules of the game,” the death fairie stated. “It makes my victory sweeter.”
“Yer certainly confident,” Rashell scoffed.
“I got a girl to kill her dad once,” he said with a straight face. The Leanansidhe paled beneath the remains of his makeup. “I never lose but feel free to give me a challenge,” Reaper said brightly.
“Now let me just set this up and we’ll start,” the death fairy said.
“Reaper, stop, you’re out of control!” Treasure yelled getting in-between them. The death fairy turned and punched him. “You...hit me.”
“Sorry Treasure, but I’m not in the mood for your pacifist bullshit,” the death fairy said through gritted teeth, just as Rashell snatched the iron with his chained hands, and climbed onto the top of the old fish tank. “Come on now, Muse, you’re just making things harder,” Reaper said cockily.
“For whom?” Rashell demanded.
“Okay, that’s it you little!” Reaper lunged and the fairy swung, striking him in the head with the flat part. The death fairy screamed, crumpling to the ground as his flesh burned. The human let out a gasp in the background. The siren saw a gleam in the Leanansidhe’s eye and then before he could react, the fairy jumped down and slipped his chained hands around the unconscious Reaper’s neck. The frightened siren opened his mouth. Rashell pressed his chains into Reaper’s neck, burns appeared the death fairy’s neck, but he didn’t sir.
“Don’t even think about trying anything!” Rashell hissed looking at Treasure.
“You’d kill an unconscious man?” The siren demanded.
“He was going ta torture me,” Rashell pointed out.
“Uh, good point... no! Ah, bad point, let him go!” Treasure moved forward.
Rashell tightened his grip. “I’ll strangle him, I’m not kidding, darling,” the Leanansidhe said coolly. “Now I’d suggest ya reach into your jacket and show me the pockets, there’s a good boy.”
“Um, I don’t have anything,” Treasure answered doing so.
“Good, now come over here and empty his pockets too,” the fairy boy ordered. Treasure rummaged through his friend’s long cloak. Inside he found a key. Rashell composed himself. “Just, put the key in the lock,” he said to Treasure.
“He’ll be okay, right?” the siren demanded.
“Who cares,” Rashell said.
“I’m not doing anything until I know!” Treasure shouted.
“If he wakes up, he’ll have nausea, double vision and dizziness for a few days. Well if he survives.” said the Leanansidhe airily.
“And to think, I took pity on you,” Treasure said angrily
“See, ya think ya deserve a pat on the back. For not being disgusted.” Rashell looked at him seriously. “Take yer pity and shove it.” There was a pause “Now untie me, please.” The pissed off and completely used siren did so. A few seconds later the lock unclicked.
“What about me?” the human asked, still tied to the pipe, he was wiggling now. Rashell let Reaper’s body drop to the floor. Treasure instinctively tried to tackle the fairy boy. He got a nasty punch in the kidney that knocked him on his butt and a few kicks to the gut for his troubles. Treasure lay on his belly, his body aching as he reached out and clamped his hand around the muse’s slender ankle. Rashell stomped on his fingers with his other foot, Treasure cried out, as he felt something break, but he couldn’t let go not with so much at stake.
He gritting his teeth and ignored the sharp pain. For Sealiea, Reaper, and Jenny, Sealiea, Reaper, and Jenny! he chanted in his own head.
“Let me go!” the muse growled, kicking at his back now, murder in his eyes. The siren gritted his teeth and tightened his grip. Endure, endure for them.
“Sealiea, Reaper, Jenny...” Then, Treasure’ dark eyes landed on the dark muse’s wrists which were red raw. He suddenly remembered the dark look in Reaper’s eyes as he brandished the hot iron. The smell of burning flesh and the sick look of glee in the court’s eyes. The siren dropped the Leanansidhe as if he’d been scalded himself. He couldn’t do this, Treasure realized. The fairy boy seeing an opportunity, quickly reached down and put his hands on Treasure’s forehead, the shocked siren felt the pours on the boys hand widen and attach themselves to his forehead, like the tentacles of an octopus. He started to struggle.
“I wouldn’t advise it, if ya fight, I could eat the wrong thing.” Rashell’s voice was pleasant.
“Isn’t this mental violation?” Treasure squeaked fearfully. The Leanansidhe looked taken aback, and released him his pores shrank back to their normal size. Instead he clapped Treasure sharply on the temples then everything went black.