Things could probably be going more smoothly. Granted, we’ve come up a bit in the world since a few days ago, I still would have preferred a cleaner reentry into “civilized” society.
I awoke, wounded but alive, to find that plans were already in the works. The local Courts, as they call themselves, sent some gentlemen to make sure I didn’t go and get more holes put in myself. The others worked out something with them… I wasn’t really in a condition to help. I guess they’ll give us some lodging, food and protection in exchange for us doing something-or-other in the future. Seems fair enough.
The nurse, CJ, had tattoos peaking out of her scrubs. Intriguing. She looked young enough, disenchanted with the world, and, as she divulged, interested in enhanced perceptive states. I have to be honest, I was a bit overeager to secure her friendship, but all this morose crap since our return has got me looking for any escape I can find. She seemed cool, so I pressed. Probably a bit too hard, but she agreed to meet me after a shift in the park where she lights up. Lire bought us pipes, so why not?
Blah blah blah we talk with these guys from the Summer Court. They seem to like ass-kicking for ass-kicking’s sake, and that’s not really my deal, life-threatening wounds notwithstanding. I get it in the abstract – someone’s gotta pluck the weeds – but I’d prefer that someone to not be me (or Lire). Then again, dangers do seem to abound of late. The coffee sucked. We learned a bit about the Courts and Fetches and the naggingly present, narrow world of Being What We Are. One of the guys is a Knight, whatever that means in Duluth, Minnesota. So far the whole Changeling deal wasn’t piquing my interest… But then they showed us the Hedge garden, full of interesting fruit that heals wounds, fills you with magic and imparts wisdom. I guess I could get used to that. Somewhere in there we met Bob the Pug-Faced. Seemed nice enough, but wasn’t selling me on Court life with his coke-bottle glasses and stick-in-the-ass demeanor.
We holed up in a little apartment. Sam made himself a nest. Stella and Lire shared a bed, I got the other one, and Zai slept on the floor. Good on Lire, too. I was thinking maybe Stella for myself, but she’s taken a bit of a turn for the dour, and that’s really Lire’s department. There are tears in there that I think a bout of vigorous lovemaking might shake loose instead of allay. I must admit, I stayed up a bit making sure everyone was alright, and even the gargoyle is starting to grow on me. If I make my way up the ranks to Spring King or whatever, he can be my Chief Pilferer of Funds, Lire can be the Minister of Springtime Shade, Stella can be Scribe Laureate of Illicit Activities, and Zai can be the Royal Tree. Yeah, that wouldn’t be that bad.
They inform us of the locations of our fetches. Lire doesn’t have one. It hurts that I can’t help, but I know at that moment I’m the person he wants to talk to least. I leave him with Stella and hope he doesn’t do anything stupid. I bring Zai to the park to meet CJ.
Zai has a good time, at least. She plays in the trees and seems to be quite at home. I leave her to it. Imagine my surprise when I find the local dealer, parked right there in plain sight, has thorns around his eyes. Looks like the Lost are few, but their influence is wide. I suppose I’ll have to try harder if I want to carve out my own space away from them.
CJ shows up, and I’m overeager again. We smoke and talk. I show her my healed wounds and convince her to let me ensorcell her. I must not have done a great job explaining it, either, because it blows her damn mind when it happens. I show her what I look like, the dealer and his thorns, Zai in the trees, the whole deal. I guess I figured nurses see a lot of shit as it is, and she, more than most, seemed like the type who might roll with it. Whoops. I have to make a Pledge to ensorcell (so many rules), so she agrees to bring me to a concert so I can meet her friends. As far as I know, that’s still on even though she got out of there pretty quickly. It will be good to meet some new people, and maybe after some time to process, she’ll want to try again. She said she paints, so maybe she’ll find some inspiration in it.
Zai and I chat up in a tree. She makes the trees dance with her woods magic. It’s peaceful.
We get invited to a Christmas party with some other Lost, and it’s not a bad time. In particular, I meet this woman named Alice who came with a quiet fellow. He disappears to find… chicken wings? donuts? I don’t remember. She’s frosty-looking and beautiful; her Mien is a welcome break from everything else we’ve seen. She exudes competence, and she’s very direct. We flirt, Stella cautions me against pushing further, and we flirt some more. It may have been the failure with CJ, or the fact that I had to sleep alone (not blaming anyone), but I was starved for touch. The others chased down their various interests, and I spent the night in a nice apartment working at politics and playing at love. Maybe losing at one, but debt is its own kind of connection. And who am I to turn down a night of enjoyment in favor of caution? So I indulge. This side of the Courts is one I could very much enjoy, I think.