Yesterday, I felt pink. So I put on something pink after my bath, and I went out into the main cavern to look for something to do. Just outside the entrance, I could see Braeden pacing around, so I peeked out to see what was going on. And there he was, pacing around, in front of Aoibheann, who looked very distressed. I could tell something was wrong, I just didn’t know what — and then she started pleading with him. But there was something wrong with her voice. Eventually, I got the story out of Braeden: he had kissed her, and she was turning to stone.
And so she did, right in front of my eyes, turn to stone. I watched her stop breathing. I watched her clothes harden into marble. But what do you say to a Sluagh who’s three times your height to get him to unstone your friend, which he says he can’t do anyway?
You thank every god you can think of that just then your boyfriend appears to ask all the hard questions and make a veiled threat or two. Once Nathaniel had figured out what was going on, I just stood behind him and let him do all the talking, though it really wasn’t much talking. One thing I learned about the Sluagh tonight: he couldn’t turn a whole roomful of people to stone. His energy was quite sapped after doing it just to Aoibheann. Whether or not that’s a useful titbit of information will have to wait; I don’t have much of a quarrel with Braeden, even though he turned Aoibh to stone. The fact is, Aoibheann has a knack for getting into situations where she is helpless against a much more powerful being. She says I can’t save her. The truth is, I can’t save her all of the time. I’m worried, so worried, that this experience caused more harm than some of the others she’s been through, but for that I’ll have to hide and watch.
So there we were, standing outside the cavern, with Aoibheann a statue and the Sluagh only just strong enough to take his leave after we’d plagued him with questions, and Nathaniel’s friend Sophia came round and told us some of the rest of the story.
Apparently, they had all been up in the former Castle Shithole (I may be remembering this wrong; last night is becoming a blur as fast as I can write about it) drinking, and then Braeden came along and plucked Aoibheann up and flew away with her. Or maybe that happened and then they all decided they needed a drink and adjourned to the former Castle Shithole for a drink; the order of events is not all that important at this point. Just, I can tell how shaken up I am because I don’t remember her story better.
Even though I was afraid we’d drop Aoibh and break her, she’d lose an arm or something, I let Nathaniel and Sophia talk me into helping them take her back into the cavern. I hope she doesn’t have any memory of that: she’d spit nails if she knew Nathaniel had his feminine, vampire hands all over her alabaster boobies.
Sophia tried to talk us both into coming back to the castle with her, but I wasn’t budging. First, because I wasn’t going to leave Aoibheann alone to get the faerie equivalent of traffic-coned in the main cavern of Underhill, and second, because the idea of going up there just gives me the creeps in a big way. I did at least have the chance to finally say what I’ve been wanting to say for days — that I am comfortable down here and I don’t want to go back up to the castle. Nathaniel, I think, does. He made a joke that we could pretend to be posh fucks and keep a summer home up there or something. That– that, I might could live with. Besides, it’s not as if we really live together anyway– we just pull up to the same pallet every night. Even still. I’m getting awfully used to waking up on his shoulder in the morning, and can we just stop a moment to sing a broad Hallelujah! that Stephanie Meyer is a fucking idiot and I have not yet met a sparkly vampire? If Nathaniel showed any signs of Edwardness, I’d be running from him instead of to him. God. Imagining something sitting up all night and staring at me while I slept. That’s the stuff of nightmares.
See, this is the problem with writing when my memory’s fuzzy. I go off on weird tangents about summer homes and sparkly vampire.
Sophia left (she never stays long; I’m not sure what’s up with that) to go back to the castle, and Nathaniel and I started kissing. It was nearly very wonderful, but then he started to feel like it was kind of creepy to do that in front of Alabaster Aoibh, even though she was a statue at the time and I’m pretty sure nothing was getting in through her calcified senses. Fine, fine, fine. He had to go off and do something secretive for one of the secretive things he’s doing this week. Fair enough, but he said I’d make a good spy, and I want to be a spy. I guess he knew I wouldn’t leave Aoibh’s side ’til she got better.
I think two or three times makes a pattern. Aoibh goes into a coma or is otherwise immobilised, I suddenly feel comfortable talking about everything in the world. I wonder if she did that to me when I was off with the Hunt last year? She’d never tell me, probably. Anyway, I told her the top thing on my list to be afraid of right now: I’m afraid, after what Valene said and the thing with my hands, that I might be a Sidhe. And they seem so distant and inhuman. Except Isabella never did, but she’s not here, so all I have to go on is what I see from the Sidhe around here.
This next part is super weird.
So there I was, talking to my bestie who’s been turned to stone (natch), and in comes this guy all demoned up, other people’s entrails (I hoped!) sticking to his chest, blood all over everywhere, and crudely drawn symbols on his chest — a peace sign, an ankh, the Eye of Horus. He looked like a refugee from Whitby after a long, hard Goth Weekend.
He looked drunk when he came into the cavern, but I think that’s not all that was wrong with him. He knew me, and Aoibh, but I didn’t have a clue who he was.
Something about staying in this place for a few weeks has made me more careful, more able to think like a fae, I guess. I kept my seat, kept my cool, and asked him who he was.
Turns out, this is Padishar on some kind of a crazy rampage. Awesome. I’d heard a rumour, though, that he had killed Rachel and sent her back to wherever she came from, since that’s where demons go when you kill them. And something twigged in my brain, and I figured it was time to start being devious. Deviousness is hard.
Right behind Padishar was perhaps the second or third scariest thing I’ve ever seen; she looked like some kind of demon goddess or angel or something. She never introduced herself, but I think it’s due to her that I’m alive this morning (Note to self: Must check on Aoibh, make sure she’s alive too); she seemed to have some sort of weird, nurturing power over Padishar. But she was super scary. A year ago she’d have been the scariest thing I’d ever seen. But a year ago, Nathaniel would also have been the scariest thing I’d ever seen, so it’s all relative, I guess. I don’t know why I compare things so much when I’m writing about them: I never do that when I’m out with people. I mean, I don’t think I do. And I’m not asking, since nobody is allowed to read this except maybe Nathaniel and Aoibh when we are all old and– well, when Aoibh is old and grey.
Scary demon angel lady concentrated most of her attention on Aoibh, who was by this time beginning to turn from stone into some shell of herself that would have scared me quite a bit if I hadn’t been so busy trying to keep my wits around bloody demons and their infernal babysitters.
Padishar came to where I was sitting, leaned close, trapped me in the chair. OK, OK, I can handle that, I thought. I’ll just be implacable. I think I succeeded. Or maybe it was all that infernal babysitter lady didn’t want him to become “an addict” — aside: what is Padishar, anyway, and what was she talking about? What could he get addicted to? — I brought up Rachel, I thought very casually, though who knows? I was speaking through a veil of glamour that did at least help me feel less fear. Padishar was downright creepy, rubbing his talons on my neck and suggesting that I might like to be cut open or something. My hands were burning, itching: I felt like I should be able to throw them, they seemed to be so distant from the other parts of my body.
I think I learned something. I think my honesty about things might have surprised him. I hope it did. He wanted to know what Rachel was to me, and I told him we were not friends (understatement) but somehow linked (overstatement). He brought her back up, not me, and wanted to know if I wanted her, and what would I trade for her, and he put one of those very sharp talons right against where my carotid artery very happy and properly resides inside my neck. I told him I was interested mostly in information and wondered what would be a fair trade for information. I think bringing up glamour like that, as sort of a pillow between me and the rest of the world– I think that must have made me look more calm and casual than I actually was. He asked me what specific information, and I just told him. Her true name, I said. In the same voice I’d use if I were asking him to pass the salt. I somehow managed to keep my face from cracking open with the glee of it, the enjoyment of our conversation like a chess game. A game I think I might one day enjoy playing very much.
I surprised him, I could tell that. At the same time Infernal Babysitter Lady was doing something with Aoibheann’s hair and scolding him for being too close to me. I must learn what this addiction thing is. He said he would tell me tomorrow. I said I would look forward to that.
Will it happen? Who knows; he seemed half (more than half, if I’m honest) mad. But it could happen. I could learn Rachel’s true name, and then her power over me would be — well, maybe not gone, but there is something to be said for mutually assured destruction.
I was exhausted when they left; I could almost understand why Braeden looked so nearly like he’d fall out of the sky if he tried to fly after kissing Aoibheann. All I could think about was sleep, but I tried reaching out to Aoibh, anyway. All the way through, she’d been saying the oddest things. “Gwyn is mine,” she kept repeating. “Gwyn is mine.” I don’t know what that meant, but if it comforted her, I guess it’s a good thing. I told her I’d go out looking for her if I didn’t find her in the cavern this morning. And things are starting to stir. It’s time to put away this book and get ready for the next adventure. I do not feel pink any more.