Logs:A Long Time Ago Last Month
A Long Time Ago Last Month
|Characters:||Robin, with Ian as Storyteller|
|Summary:||In which Robin meets their Touchstone, and chases off a few Bruja.|
It's late. It's dark. The streets are wet. Has Robin ever /seen/ water in their memories of life? Probably in the Hedge, surely, but this isn't quite the same thing. The street lights flicker and falter, the nimbus of neon around the nearest window designates this place a "2 DRINK MINIMUM" location, and a sign on the door of the only building in the parking lot reads, "LADIES NIGHT" and "NO COVER FOR LADIES". Above it all, the silhouette of a curvaceous woman graces a glowing white sign that reads, "$TRIPPER$" while a neon woman flickers in various positions around a pole just beneath it. Below that: "HELP WANTED: You could be a STAR!"
It's been a...long trip, from Arcadia back to the world. The Thorns have left Robin Aster with little memory of anything -but- the Hedge. Time obliterated their memory of mortal life. The Thorns obliterated most of their memories of Arcadia, Icons littered behind them along with the last of their humanity. To be honest, Robin never -really- expected to find an exit - just to wander the Hedge forever until they became one of its denizens. So when they step out of the alleyway in blazing Hedgespun armor, their light banishes the night's darkness and raindrops sizzle as they touch faerie fire. The air tastes...odd. Almost poisonous. The world seems odd and muted and glamour-starved. They tighten their jacket around their form and tug their gloves on tighter before wandering out of the darkness of that alleyway and into the light of the Baton Rouge street. Lights glow across the street - Robin is neither woman nor noble, and thus incapable of being a lady.
But the sign beneath calls to the Sun: someone inside needs help. From a star. The Wyrd has forged destinies out of less. They cross the street confidently, without looking. What are cars, even?
Cars are big metal Hedgebeasts that honk threateningly as they approach and if Robin doesn't walk fast enough, they'll swerve around them and Robin will see the upraised middle finger from the driver inside.
There are bikes and cars parked outside the strip club, strange piles of metal and sleek artistry and chrome. There's a man in the shadows, leaning near the bikes, casually watching over them out of the rain - Robin gets a look and a tilt of the head, but the man isn't full Blooded yet, and his masters haven't granted him the ability to see the likes of Robin. He says nothing as they walk by.
Inside the club it's loud and smoky, and there's a big man with a bit too much pudge on his waist looming nearby to take the cover fee.
A man with pudge. But it -is- human, and not a hobgoblin. The first human Robin has ever really interacted with. They wind up spending a lot of time just staring at the man's face, hands on hips, studying all the little mundane things about it. -This- is what a human looks like. Remarkably similar to Robin themself, all things considered - at least, compared to how much Robin resembles some Goblins. "You need help?" the Sun finally asks.
The bouncer blinks at this strange, red-haired waif who violates both male and female gender norms. There's a bit of silence while his hand lifts reflexively to take the cover charge... and then drops slightly because... woman? Man? What even IS Robin? "Uh." The question gets a slightly shocked pause.
Behind him, through the smoke, there is a stage. On the stage dances a woman with a slightly bored look on her face, gyrating to the throbbing beat of the music, her hair whipping around and around and around... she actually smiles at one of the men crowded there, who reaches out to give her a scrap of greenish paper... and then grabs her when she reaches down to take it. Her face twists in fear and fury and she yells, "Jackson!" at the bouncer.
Someone else is quicker, though, lean and muscular and very human, and Abel Blake shoves forward to get between the very large man and the stripper currently straining to get her arm out of an iron grip. "Hey now, none of that," he says soothingly, "We get to look, not touch."
The bouncer, Jackson, simply abandons Robin at the door to go handle this. Taking door fees is not as important as protecting the merchandise.
The bikers are arrayed in a large round booth near the stage, sprawled and hedonistic and enjoying the drama about to unfold before them.
"...how rude." Still, protecting someone from being manhandled is important work. Robin, still unsure as to -what- help is required, wanders inward. They seem to have that under control, but there are -some kind of supernatural hunter creature- that feel dead and cold and -dangerous- to Robin's Kenning in here. Maybe that's what they need help with. Robin wanders toward them with a slow, deliberate stalking gait. As they walk, they leave behind flaming footprints on the floor. Their halo throws off flickering flame that the vampires can -definitely- see, and as the Changeling draws nearer, said vampires will smell...hot dogs and sparklers.
Those vampires are suddenly aware, all at once - the flaming footsteps, the heat, the flickers of fire. Behind the grabby one, they scramble to get out of the booth - and have you ever tried to scramble out of a round booth? One of them gives up and just leaps up onto the table. The bouncer is on his way but it's not him they're watching, it's Robin.
The one who has hold of the girl puts a hand around Abel's throat and grins, feral and fangy. "Two for the price of one. All right, I'll bite." And then he's dragging the screaming girl off the stage and towards his hungry mouth, while with the other hand he raises the human man right off the floor. He is, quite literally, the most oblivious motherfucker /ever/ right at this moment.
"No touching!" yells Jackson, and he starts for the mess with suicidal singlemindedness.
"You should all release the humans. And we can go outside and discuss this, like honorable creatures." Reaching into a pocket, Robin casually pulls out a strange-looking box of matches and brings out out. They flick the match and bring it up toward their mouth as if they're going to light a non-existant cigarette, and then...inexplicably...pop the lit match into their mouth instead. A quiet crunching begins as they chew wood and sulfur and flame, and...well.
If the vampires thought there was fire surrounding Robin before, -now- there's even more. This fire that licks up them from boots upward hardens into a coating that flickers tightly against their clothing, forming a hard layer of flame like semi-transparent plate armor.
And the mortals can see this one, too.
Finally the leader becomes aware of the noise behind him. He turns with his mouth already open and the words, "Fuck off, bitch," already halfway out - and then he sees Robin. "What the --!"
The stripper scrambles back with one final, panicked shriek and bolts off the stage, her arm bearing a red bruise. Abel, meanwhile, drops to his knees, making choked noises - the vampire's still got him.
Two of the vampires just up and bolt. There's a large plate window hidden behind heavy curtains over yonder, and one goes right through it, letting in a blast of moist night air. The other scrambles past Jackson at top speed, leaving the man swaying in place and shocked.
The remaining three pop fangs, including the leader. "This little morsel a friend of yours, bitch?" snarls the leader... but he's not approaching. All that fire... yeah, he might have a problem with that.
By the door, the guy who was watching from the shadows outside peeks in and... decides not to approach.
As for the rest of the mortals... they bolt, scramble, and flee like roaches. There's shrieking behind the curtains backstage as the girls peek out and change their minds. Someone's probably calling the cops, but by the time they get here things will be long over with.
When the vampires do -not- seem inclined to release their hostages -or- step outside like honorable opponents? Robin gets fed up. They reach out an arm, flicking the flames from their jacket and their armor to extend outward from their fingertips. They make a -flick- with the arm, extending it backward and away from the vampires and their prey so that it seemingly -clicks- into place, rigidly forming a spear as long as Robin is tall. The Changeling spins it, the sound of flame whooshing through the air accompanying the maneuver as they bring it up to threaten the vampires. Flaming faerie of fire with a fire spear. Not -quite- as good as being dressed and wielding raw sunlight, but Robin's friend Mr. Sun isn't out right now.
The lead vampire's hand flicks out in spite of the flame, /through/ the flame, to test the armor... and he hisses and draws his hand, his coat steaming and his clawed hand raw and red. He's clearly done no damage, while even /trying/ to hurt Robin has harmed him. He snarls under his breath in some other language and tosses the human in Robin's direction as he - and his people - begin to back away. From the hate in his eyes, he'll likely be back later - hopefully when Robin's not around or able to protect themself.
One might expect a person as obviously upstanding and helpful as Robin to -catch- the falling human. However, Robin may not be particularly -smart-, but they are extraordinarily quick thinkers. Robin sidesteps the human and lets them tumble. Better than catching them while covered in fire. That'd be like when you stumble and put your hand down flat on a hot stove burner. Just no good at all.
The claws have left no mark on Robin's armor and -definitely- didn't penetrate. No harm, no foul. When they begin to leave, Robin's stance relaxes somewhat and they put the butt of their spear on the ground, the universal stance for 'go on then, I'm not gonna chase you'.
The vampires flee. The humans have all cleared out except Jackson and Abel. Jackson is still just like 'what' and Abel... looks up, coughs, squints, and says, "All right, you can stop glowing now." His voice is raspy and hollow and quite unsteady.
Right. Robin drops the spear, which fizzles before it hits the ground, then gives the arms a shake. The shimmy continues with torso, hips, then a hop on one leg, then another, putting out the excessive amounts of flame. Robin -is-, of course, still glowing. But the Mask hides that. "There," the faerie declares, "I helped. You can take down your sign now, most likely."
"Uhh," rasps the man on the ground, "bet they're gonna shut the place down for a bit... here." Abel starts shoving himself up, unsteady as hell. "You can't be here, it's not safe..." This may not be his first rodeo. "C'mon." He pats Jackson on the shoulder as he goes, and just... keeps on going.
"I'm sure it's perfectly safe. I doubt they'll be coming back, not after -that-." Nobody wants to be burned alive! Surely everything Robin is saying is perfectly true. "Is there, perchance, any sort of...compensation? Valor is, of course, its own reward. But I haven't been in your world for more than a few minutes and I sincerely doubt the markets in this world accept goblin fruit or promises as currency. And I will surely have to eat mortal food eventually, although one never knows how one will respond, after all!"
Abel looks back, a familiar sort of pain in his eyes. "Follow me, and don't light anything on fire. At the very least I can feed you." And then he's trudging off, one hand on his sore throat still feeling where the vampire nearly crushed it.
He's got a car, a beat-up old cream-colored Datsun from the 1970s, and he opens the door for Robin, then circles around to get in his side. "This is a car. It's a... a riding beast. Sort of. Get in." In the distance there are sirens.
Sirens. Coming closer. Robin tenses, and..."There are hunters coming. We should -go-. Now." Robin gets into the car and pulls the door shut, and starts looking around for controls. They -do- know what vehicles are. They have a faint idea that their Keeper had some kind of vehicle. A ship of some sort, perhaps. They start to clamber over the center console and into the driver's-side seat. Surely Abel won't mind if Robin drives.
"Stop that," Abel protests, because he's already gotten in the driver's seat, or at least is in the process of it. "I'm going! Panicking helps no one. Settle down." And he shoves the key into the car to make it rumble to life. "Also the faster we drive the quicker they'll notice us. So calm, here we go." They're rumbling out of the parking lot - assuming Robin hasn't decided to wrest away the controls.
Goddamnit, mortals! "I assure you, they will hunt me with the same fervor whether we are moving quickly or slowly, they'll just -catch us- if we go slowly. If you're going to be slow then I'm afraid this is where we'll have to part, so please, -make haste-!"
"They're just cops!" Abel protests, but he puts on the gas, muttering a curse under his breath. "Their job is to show up late to the party and hurt the people they're supposed to help, plus anyone that looks guilty of something - guilty in this case means whatever they feel like beating up. Whatever /runs away/. All right? They're just cops. Just /people/." He's just figured out the source of Robin's concern. "Fuck. You just got out, didn't you."
"I've only recently arrived in your world," the Changeling admits. "I can sense something of the Wyrd about you, but you're no hobgoblin. You're of -this- world. And so I will trust that you are correct about the enemy known as 'cops', if you -promise- me that they are not Huntsmen of the Gentry." Robin gives the Fae-Touched a -very intent look-, waiting for that promise.
"They are not," Abel says, "I swear it. I promise you, I will keep you safe to the best of my abilities tonight." He knows the value of a Promise. The serious look he shoots over is proof enough. He guides the vehicle to a slower pace as several cop cars go rushing by between buildings in the opposite direction. "Now. We make for the highway." And he turns thataway, further away from the strip club. "I'm Abel. What shall I call you?"
"I have been called a few different things. The one that pleased me most was Robin Aster." The Fae-Touched will feel when Robin seals that promise. A seal is a small thing, but it forms a sort of formal acknowledgement that Robin does not hold the promise to be casually made. Robin settles down into the seat. A sign that the remaining flames that wreathe Robin's jacket are more glamour than -fire- is that the seats do not catch flame or melt. Robin has not buckled a seatbelt, but then again, would that armor even let them be hurt in a crash? They turn to peer out the window as they move down the street, gloved fingers splayed against the glass. "Does this world always smell like this?"
"Sometimes it smells better, sometimes worse." Abel drives and finally remembers to put his seatbelt on too, at the next light they stop at. "Sometimes it smells like food. Damn, I'm glad I didn't drink more than a pint tonight." The vehicle is picking up speed. "Robin, huh? All right, Robin." They're heading onto the freeway. "You're in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the United States of America, on the continent of North America, on the planet known as Earth. We're the third rock from the sun, and the only one with a full-sized moon - that we've found, anyway - in the solar system called Sol, a small part of the Milky Way Galaxy. Technically we are also in the Local Cluster, but I don't think we need to get that detailed and you probably don't give much of a damn about galaxies anyway, almost no one does. Welcome home. When were you Taken?"
"I know the sun. We have an agreement. He holds my True Spear. I'd have used it, but we were indoors, and he refuses to come indoors to hand it to me." The fact that it's -night-, apparently, doesn't matter. "And by that virtue I know the Earth, its Moon - one planet and one moon of the eight planets and two hundred and thirteen moons in this system. I do not know all of the smaller bodies by name, but those I do know, although not personally. Your Moon and I do not get along. She is fickle and untrustworthy. Your Sun is angry and holds a grudge, but this is the way of stars, as I know well. I will admit, however, that I do not know much about your Earth beyond the obvious. It is the only planet of a size and temperature to be of any interest to the Fae - or at least it is for now." That last statement and question -confuse- Robin, though. "What do you mean? I've never -been- to your world before."
"You were Taken from it," Abel says with a glance of surprise over at Robin. "You have to have been. No Hedge creature could survive long out here, surely, yet you're fine. You can't be one of Them." Surely not, right? A hint of worry flickers across his face. "They don't have names like we do - and yours /is/ a name. Robin. People name their children that."
"Goblins wander out of the Hedge all the time, as I'm brought to believe. They must always return, but can come out for much longer than I've been here. That said, no, I am not a goblin. Nor am I Gentry. Nor Huntsman. Beyond 'what happens when a star explodes', I have no name for what I am. I admit that Robin is not so much a true name as simply what I was called by someone I encountered on the road and liked more than other, less kind things. Those who dwelt on worlds which orbited me did not often call me much other than 'the sun', but that name is taken here."
Abel lets out a deep, unsteady breath. "Right then." The vehicle pulls off the highway. "Well. Best guess, you used to be human. But I don't know. I promised you safety for a night and I will give it. Are you hungry? We're getting McDonalds." It's that simple. Really he ought to make sure their first meal out of the Hedge is something better but... "I'm too broke for fancy food, sorry." And yet he was at a strip club. There's a reason his family considers him a lost cause."I subsisted for three weeks on the dried carcass of a briarwolf. Have you seen the face of a briarwolf? Simple fare is acceptable, Abel." Robin leans into the door to try to peer at a neon sign for a psychic that promises astrology reading as they go by, and is quiet for the rest of the ride as they fall into contemplation.