Log edited with Logedit 2.6.5pl on Fri Jul 19 17:29:37 CDT 1996
Logged by Autolycus
Mercedes has arrived.
Mercedes comes walking out from the direction of the grove, eating an apple.
Mercedes polishes off the apple swiftly, dumping its core into a pile of leaves.
Tarot appears out of a rainbow sparkle.
Tarot has arrived.
Tarot appears fairly close to the tower. Her eyes abstract as she glances around, tucking the card back into a pocket.
Mercedes reaches up for another apple, then peers up into the tree at Autolycus.
Autolycus appears asleep on a branch. If you're particularly gullible.
Mercedes bites down on the apple, holding it between her teeth. She climbs agilely up onto the first branch that will hold her weight.
Tarot's eyes refocus again, and she begins to make her way quietly through the orchard towards the occupied tree.
Mercedes positions herself, with a minimum of loosened leaves, on the branch next to Autolycus. She looks down at him with a curious expression.
Autolycus opens one eye. "Come here often?"
Mercedes bites down on her apple, chews a bit, then says, "Yes."
Tarot is visible, approaching below.
Autolycus opens the other eye. "What, am I in your seat, or something?"
Mercedes says "No, I just like to watch you sleep."
Mercedes curves a sly smile.
Autolycus says "You got here a bit late for that, and I make it a point never to pick up on straight lines from women who are either married to royalty, bigger than me, or both."
Tarot pauses beneath the tree, tilting her head to look up.
Mercedes looks faintly disappointed.
This orchard is old almost beyond understanding: trees bend from age and from the weight of their fruit to touch the ground, swaying in gold and brown. Apples hang from many branches, some a fresher green, others a riper red or gold: the grass is dry underfoot, here at the end of a long summer. In the distance a range of hills runs purple and grey against the sky, but here the air is soft and warm, the breeze mild, and the sun gentle against the skin. To one side the trees give way to a walled garden, regularly lined by rows of plants and shrubs, and showing clear marks of cultivation. Through the trees, a little further on, rises a tower of dull grey stone, the walls marked by vines and moss: glass glitters in the roof like some watchful eye.
Mercedes says "I'm just taller than you."
Mercedes says "Not bigger."
Mercedes takes another bite of apple.
Tarot says, from below, "I can always provide scales, if he really wants to argue the point."
Autolycus sits up on the branch.
Tarot says "Dawn greet, the both of you."
Autolycus says "No thanks. You've probably taken me to the land of Really Light People or something."
Mercedes looks down at Tarot, then laughs.
Tarot's mouth quirks. "Not at all. Fall off and count bruises if you disbelieve me."
Mercedes tosses the apple high into the air, through the branches. She promptly flips backwards, off the branch, and lands feet-first on the grassy ground. She holds out her hand, and the apple falls into it with a thunk.
Autolycus applauds, then stands up on the branch.
Tarot waits, with an air of expectancy.
Mercedes polishes off her apple, peering upwards.
Autolycus front-flips to the next tree over, springboarding off of its trunk to immediately reverse into a backflip to the ground, landing just in time to catch in his left hand a single apple dislodged from his impact with the tree.
Mercedes says, to Tarot, "Oh, lady."
Tarot simply shakes her head.
Tarot says "I am not even going to _attempt_ acrobatics."
Autolycus polishes the apple on his tunic, idly.
Tarot says "But given that I must make some sort of contribution, would the two of you care to accompany me out for lunch?"
Mercedes runs a hand through her hair.
Mercedes says "Certainly."
Autolycus says "Sure. Save this for later."
Autolycus tosses the apple to Tarot.
Tarot catches it out of the air, tilting an eyebrow thoughtfully.
Tarot says "The way the two of you are dressed, likely you will be taken for professional duellists or guards. Is this acceptable, or shall I find you some other clothing?"
Mercedes says "That's the reason I dress this way, cara."
Autolycus looks at his clothes. "What's wrong with the way I dress?"
Mercedes says "Nobody bothered us last time we were there, if we are going to the same place."
Tarot absently removes her jacket, and shakes it out a few times. When she throws it over her shoulders again, it is more of a mantle.
Tarot says "Nothing, sir: and yes, we are."
Tarot says "If you two would both follow me closely, it is only a short walk from here."
Autolycus says "Hey, I'll follow you closely any time."
Mercedes says, to Tarot, "You are not bigger than he. We will have to see you married to royalty."
Tarot's mouth curls. "Ah well, at least I will be able to look back on one memory of a man promising to follow me forever closely."
Tarot turns to begin to pace through the orchard, eyes abstracting.
Autolycus says "Let's not read too much into that, now."
Mercedes shrugs, follows.
Shadow shifts around the three, and they eventually emerge into a set of alleys, debouching on a crowded square, a restaurant visible across from them.
This restaurant is cool and open to the air, tables set widely apart to allow private conversation: the floor and ceiling are dark wood, the walls lucid marble that catches sparks from the light. Around the edges of the room hang harlequin masks, black and white, dancing occasionally in the breeze from outside and skittering against the walls: the waiters move silently, barely noticeable. Outside in the square, a commedia del arte is in performance, visible through the wide windows, the bright colours of the costumes gaudy against the marble of the square. There is a faint odour of oranges and lemons on the wind.
Mercedes looks around, with a lazy sort of caution.
People jostle cheerfully in the square, long skirts and dagged sleeves and doublets a bright mixture of colours. The orchestra is busy tuning up for the next performance of the commedia.
Autolycus says "Very colorful."
Tarot's eyes flick to the mouth of the restaurant, then across the square. She nods slightly, and moves towards the restaurant.
Mercedes gestures for Tarot to precede, with a wave of her arm.
Autolycus follows, amiably.
Mercedes looks down at one of the waiters as he passes, as if she recognizes him.
Tarot leads the way towards the restaurant: a waiter who sees the three coming pales, gestures to another to clear a table, and runs as unostentatiously as possible to meet the three.
The waiter ducks into a series of bows. "Domnas, it is as ever an honour to have you visit. Would you and your duelist care for the same table?"
Mercedes arches an eyebrow.
Mercedes looks to Autolycus, with a thin smile.
Tarot nods mildly. "Of course."
Autolycus smoothes his mustache with one finger.
The waiter gestures them over to a table against the wall, and hovers.
Mercedes stalks over to the table, silently, and sits with her back to the wall.
Autolycus stands near the table, patiently.
Tarot takes a seat beside Mercedes, motions casual. She says to the waiter, "What is recommended today?"
Tarot makes a slight gesture to Autolycus. "You may be seated."
Autolycus sits down on the other side of Tarot.
Mercedes studies her fingernails.
Outside there is a brief hubbub, apparently the result of a discovered pickpocket.
Mercedes's gaze flicks to the crowd.
Autolycus puts his hand on the table for support as he twists around to look.
The waiter's rubbing of his hands is probably merely a nervous gesture. "Shellfish from Esanterinne, and lobsters still fresh in the tank. Venison from the slopes of Mariinin, Palla Grande.."
The waiter trails off.
In the square outside, several distinctly anonymous men surround the pickpocket. When they separate again, he is apparently missing a hand. The crowd closes around the scene swiftly.
Autolycus says "Ouch."
Mercedes says, instantly, "Lobsters."
Mercedes eyes Autolycus.
The waiter nods. He collects a jug of water, a basket of rolls, and the wine list, and deposits them on the table before retiring to a discreet distance.
Autolycus takes the wine list, promptly, and leans back to read it.
Mercedes's lips curve.
Mercedes lounges back in her chair, watching the passersby.
In corners of the room, quiet discussions continue at their tables. A pair of women eye the three from behind their fans: one considers Autolycus's bare chest, and murmurs to the other, and they both giggle.
Autolycus says "Never heard of any of these. Here."
Autolycus hands the list to Mercedes.
Tarot pours herself a glass of the water, and sips it.
Tarot says "Certes I would be no judge of wines."
Mercedes takes the list, frowns at it.
Mercedes says, to the waiter, "What is this?"
The waiter twitches slightly. "Our best wines, domna." He hesitates. "Unless the domna requires the special list?"
Mercedes regards the waiter silently, impassively.
Autolycus says "So is it the best wines, or the best wines except those other wines?"
Mercedes butters herself a roll, eats it in two bites.
The waiter almost physically shrivels. He darts over to fetch another, smaller list, which he carefully puts on the table by Mercedes, before backing away.
Mercedes looks at the list, says, after a moment, her tone sour, "The Calla Azura." She doesn't even touch the paper.
The waiter retrieves the paper, and drifts backwards as fast as he can, retreating to a small door that might be to the cellars.
Mercedes offers both Tarot and Autolycus a smile, then eats another roll.
Tarot half smiles in return, taking another sip of water.
Autolycus balances his knife on his fingertip.
One of the ladies in the corner murmurs to a waiter: he nods, taking a small folded item from her, and carefully brings it over to the table, placing it next to Autolycus with an air of sublime ignorance.
Mercedes says, to Autolycus, chewing, "Your mother teach you that?"
Autolycus says "Passing notes? No."
The object is a small folded square of paper, smelling of violets.
Autolycus unfolds the paper.
Mercedes sniffs, then says, "Probably doesn't taste very good either."
Autolycus says "What, the paper?"
Mercedes says "No, the knife."
Mercedes rolls her eyes.
Autolycus says "I'll keep that in mind."
Mercedes mutters to herself, "... father."
Within, on a looping hand, is written the words, "Carito, your flashing eyes and open smile have captured my heart. Ignore the two you are with, however much they have paid you, and come to my side instead. Ellesandra, dila Demito."
Autolycus folds the note in half. "Very classy."
Autolycus folds the edges down, and back, and again.
Mercedes says "Such a short time for such a capture."
Tarot glances over, tilting an eyebrow.
Autolycus sails the paper airplane towards the ladies' corner.
Mercedes sits back in her chair.
The women watch, fans hiding their painted faces. The one who sent the note eyes the aeroplane.
Autolycus says "Now _that_, my mother taught me."
The waiter reemerges, with a pair of dusty bottles: another follows with a cloth and three glasses. They approach Mercedes nervously.
Mercedes manages to feign an absolute ignorance of the waiters.
Mercedes says "Not your father's style."
Mercedes reaches for another roll, casually.
Autolycus says "I'm sure I wouldn't know."
Mercedes says "A shame."
Autolycus flips his knife from his fingertips; it lands point down in a roll (albeit not the one Mercedes reached for).
Autolycus says "I'm sure I don't know how you would know, either."
The second waiter wipes the excess dust from a bottle, uncorks it carefully, and pours a mouthful into a glass, which he timidly places before Mercedes.
Autolycus takes his knife back, with impaled roll.
Tarot takes another sip of water, half smiling.
Mercedes says "That's right. You don't."
Mercedes sniffs at the wine suspiciously, rolls a swallow in her mouth. She shrugs, nods to the waiter.
The waiter is, by his looks, reprieved from execution. He fills all three glasses, then retreats, leaving the bottles on the table.
The two women in the corner rise, and make their way towards the door, long red and purple skirts rustling. They do not even cast a glance at Autolycus.
Autolycus idly butters his roll.
Mercedes says, to Tarot, "Royal enough, if you were so inclined." She takes a swallow of wine.
They leave, the ice in their movements quite visible.
Tarot's brows rise, as she takes a sip from her glass of wine.
Tarot says "I would appear to wander into coincidence with each step that I take."
Autolycus says "Poetic."
Autolycus takes a large bite of buttered roll.
A set of waiters bring over lobsters, vegetables, hammers and knives and napkins and other implements for eating lobsters. And more rolls.
Tarot nods to the waiters, who withdraw.
Mercedes begins, efficiently, to rip apart her lobster, disdaining the various tools. She slits one of the claws open with the chromed blade at the tip of her fingernail, lifting free the pink meat inside.
Tarot says, quietly, as she uses a knife on her lobster, "Be careful. Sorcery is believed a thing of the devil, here."
Mercedes says "Then it's a good thing I haven't used it."
Tarot says "Indeed."
Mercedes smiles at Autolycus.
Autolycus comes up with nothing to add, and finishes his roll.
Mercedes adds, "You look just like him, you know."
Someone beckons the waiter to the door: he goes, and vanishes for a while.
Autolycus takes a drink of wine, and eyes the glass. "No, I don't. I still don't. I'm guessing that you're speculating. Or the other way around."
Mercedes forks free the tail of her lobster, cutting a tender piece free and dipping into butter.
Autolycus says "See, I learned on my first day with Tarot about people who look like other people but have no connection with them."
Tarot eats quietly, eyes shifting towards brown.
Mercedes says "Well, I've got no way to tell for sure, of course."
Autolycus says "Uncertainty is the spice of life."
The discussion at a corner table thickens: one man nods, then the second, though the third is still undecided. A glint of metal from a sleeve is quickly hidden.
Mercedes says "There are other spices I prefer."
Mercedes licks butter from her fingers, then dries them on a white linen napkin.
Autolycus says "I think someone's stealing forks over there."
The three men in the corner come to agreement, rising. They begin to move towards the door, one approaching a burdened waiter, coins flashing in his hand.
Mercedes says, to Tarot, "Do you be careful, cara. More trouble."
Mercedes dabs at the corners of her mouth with her napkin.
Mercedes toys with her wine glass, watching the three men.
At Mercedes' words, the three men burst into motion: the one by the waiter seizes his heavy platter of venison, sending it spinning at the table where Tarot, Mercedes, and Autolycus sit: the other two draw swords and knives, as they run for them.
Autolycus catches the platter.
Autolycus says "After you, ladies."
Mercedes unsheathes her sword, with an unnerving hiss. She's out of her chair in one second, on top of the table the next. Her blade whistles down.
The other guests would appear to be either politely ignoring the fracas, or taking bets. Waiters cower.
Tarot's sword comes into her hand, and she slips out of her seat, coming upright to one side of the table, her stance loose.
The closest man takes a scalp cut, barely avoiding a great deal worse, and ducks back, swearing: the other carefully begins to move in, hissing, "Putana."
The trencher-thrower flicks a knife at Autolycus, muttering, "Catch this."
Autolycus catches the knife in his free hand, and jumps over a table torwards the thrower.
The dagger-thrower pulls another knife from somewhere in his clothing, and advances towards Autolycus, stance professional.
Autolycus slaps at the man's knife hand with the platter, and kicks for his groin.
Tarot flicks the copper-handled knife from her belt with her free hand, and sends it neatly spinning towards the scalp-sliced man: half blinded by his own blood, he takes it in the shoulder, and is forced to shift his sword to his left hand.
The knife-man is quite clearly shocked to have his knife batted away with the platter: he is yet more pained by the knee to his groin, folding up in a small gasping ball.
Autolycus chops down at the base of the man's skull with the platter's edge.
The remaining man lunges for Mercedes, a twisting movement.
The platter connects, with a crunch, and the man is unconscious.
Mercedes's left hand carries the weight of her blade as her right hand floats free, sending chrome arrowing towards the throat of the remaining man.
The remaining man's throat is opened up in a wide spray of blood, as he falls to twitch and gurgle, and finally lie still.
Mercedes wipes blood off her face, with a slivered smile. She licks the palm of her hand, then deliberately runs the man through the heart with her sword.
Tarot's second knife is in her hand, and she throws itat her previous target: this time it strikes more centrally, and he falls.
A certain amount of money changes hands at other tables. Nobody moves to interfere.
Autolycus produces a length of wire from nowhere in particular, and binds the hands of his opponent behind his back, propping him against a chair.
Mercedes bends down to retrieve her sharps, plucking them out of the throat of the dying man with her fingertips.
Tarot moves to collect her knives, wiping them before resheathing them.
Mercedes eyes Autolycus, then the bound man in his chair.
The waiter hesitantly reappears. He stammers, "Will the domnas and their duelist be requiring dessert?"
Autolycus takes a water pitcher from a table, and throws the contents in the unconscious man's face.
Mercedes smiles, blood-splattered, at the waiter, and says, "Perhaps in a moment."
Autolycus's victim chokes, splutters, dribbles, and blinks. He spits, "Assis de necromadzia."
Mercedes says, to the man, "No, you're just slow, you foul-mouthed whoreson."
Autolycus whangs the man in the head with the platter. "I didn't ask a question, so you sure can't be answering it."
The man's head rolls. He mutters, "Very well. The domna over there," he nods to Tarot, "helped bring down the Demipappa. That makes her dangerous."
Autolycus whangs him again. "I still haven't asked you a question. Wait for it."
Tarot's eyes darken.
Tarot says, to Autolycus and Mercedes, "I am sorry to have brought you into this."
Mercedes licks the rest of the blood off her hands, then uses a napkin to wipe off the rest of her face.
Mercedes says "Nonsense, cara."
Waiters begin to clear up the spilled venison and ruined lobster.
Autolycus says "Let's try this from the top. Are you paid, or are you stupid?"
Mercedes smiles hideously at the bound man.
The man looks around. "We're Sicarii, we weren't paid for this but we thought we'd make a little money on the side. There's no bounty on her, but if she's moving in again with new muscle, there are people who'd prefer her out of the way."
Autolycus says "Stupid. What are you going to do for me if I don't give you to her?"
Mercedes's smile widens.
Autolycus gestures with his right hand (where IS that knife?) at Mercedes.
He shrugs. "I'm in the same business as you."
Autolycus whangs the man again. "You have no idea who I am, and it's staying that way. What are you going to do?"
The man's head rocks again. When his eyes refocus, he mutters, "I'm going to tell all my friends that you're tough targets and not worth the money. That what you want?"
Tarot stays back a few paces, merely watching the man.
Autolycus says "Close enough."
Mercedes shrugs, seeming disappointed.
Autolycus says "No dessert for me, ladies. Are we ready to go?"
Autolycus fails to unbind the man.
Tarot says "Certes."
Mercedes says "I suppose so."
Autolycus balances the platter on the man's head, and walks towards Mercedes and Tarot, taking a few rolls from a table.
Tarot picks up the untouched bottle of wine from the table, carefully.
Tarot tosses the nearest waiter a small purse, and balances the bottle under her arm, turning to make her way out of the restaurant.
Autolycus hands Tarot a roll, and follows her.
[The three leave through Shadow, etc.]