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New Fantasy: A Tale of Modern Faeries

 
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Kalanna Rai
Assassin for Hire



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Topics: 171
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Location: The Frozen North

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:34 am    Post subject: New Fantasy: A Tale of Modern Faeries Reply with quote

Chapter One

He leaned back against the dirty leather of the booth and allowed the cloudy liquid to flow from it's cracked glass past his chapped lips and down into his gullet. It burned the whole way down but then that's what he got for asking for a chaser of silver nitrate. A burn like no other and drunk to boot. A nice healthy dose of poison that left him with a hellish hangover the next day. Wolfe didn't care though and he wasn't alone in the sentiment. These days nobody cared and it was evident from just glancing around. Faerie looked less and less like a magical place of dreams and reverie and more like an economically depressed slum in some futuristic metropolis. Nothing he could do about that, even if he did care. Too many fair folk tried to 'keep ahead of the humans' these days. They scrambled around and poured their little magical hearts into pet projects they were sure would wow the unenlightened mortals. Only these days instead of fancy gowns of impossible fabrics and sparkly light shows it was all form fitting garments that looked like varnish and smelled like death and glowing blue bubbles of 'technology'.

Wolfe downed another shot, slamming the glass down on the dirty table, adding another crack and splitting loose a chip along the abused glassware's rim. His head twitched involuntarily to the side and he gave a wolfish grin with a slightly manic edge toward the few sets of eyes that idly slid toward him. Those same eyes abruptly jerked away, as if tugged sharply by strings, the owner of each wandering set realizing that they had much better things to look at. Things that wouldn't shorten their life expectancy from 'immortal' to 'over'. It hadn't always been this way but Wolf blamed progress. Even Faerie wasn't immune to it and it damn well should have been. Progress was a wholly mortal invention. So was science. What needed did mythical creatures have of science. World destroying anti-magic. Call him a nut case, a whack job, call him a lab rat, he'd never been the same since 'progress' had touched him. Since they'd taken away parts of his flesh and replaced it with this...stuff.

A shadow fell over his table, it's top scarred many times over with the perfect circles left behind each time he slammed a glass into it, and with a long suffering sigh he glanced up. And up. And up. Gar, the bouncer here, was a part ogre and perhaps the only creature in this establishment that didn't harbor a bone deep fear of Wolfe. He stared down with his one good yellow eye, gleaming a baleful yellow in the poor light, arms as thick as middle-aged tree trunks folded in front of a chest that looked like two kegs had been pressed under the canvass of his skin. "Alright, cutoff time. Pay your tab and go back to your den Wolfe. No trouble tonight or the boss says you're out till hell freezes over...naturally this time."

He sat for a few minutes, waging internal war over his options, and then with a huff and a puff he fished around in his pocket for a handful of gild and dropped them. Wolfe didn't bother to count or to make any attempt to keep the coins on the table. Neither did Gar. Under the half ogre's disfigured half stare, Wolfe stood and donned his coat and hat. The noise level in the bar had fallen to subsonic levels as the other patrons held their collective breath. Some of them were even likely trying to still their heartbeats, anything to keep from attracting Wolfe's gaze. In bygone days it would have thrilled him to inspire such awe, such terror. These days it just tired him out. Everything tired him out. He wasn't at home in his skin these days, either of them. He blamed the metal...the stuff. What had been put in didn't replace what had been taken out and it didn't fit right with what had already been there.

The filth on the floor seemed to have deepened since he'd originally sat down. Or perhaps he'd just been there a very long time and hadn't noticed it building up. Either way each boot step squelched with unpleasant implications and once he felt something wriggle out from under his heavy tread. When had the muck become this common? The rot? The creeping corruption that was slowly taking over. Just one side effect of 'progress' in Faerie. It was more noticeable in the poorer areas, the areas where the broken and the forgotten gathered, places like this dingy dive bar just off the corner of Faith and Trust. He wove through the thigh-high forest of battered tables and the battered patrons that inhabited them before he finally set foot on the stairs. Grasping the railing, he slowly climbed toward the light, not pausing to look back. Wolfe knew full well that Gar would be standing sentinel at the last step to make sure he didn't come back down. Both of them knew Wolfe wouldn't. Not until he needed another hit. Everyone had their demons and Wolfe's was perpetually taunting him from the bottom of every bottle.

It was raining outside and Wolfe turned up his collar at the acid drizzle, listening to it hiss and pop where it hit the treated hide of his coat. It beaded on the brim of his hat, collecting there so that it spilled in a curtain each time he tipped his head too far. The rain didn't really bother Wolfe, not like it did some denizens of the ruined demesne of the fantastical. It wouldn't eat away his flesh not matter how long he wandered under it's polluted caress. He'd out heal any damage it did. Actually it had been discovered that Wolfe actually benefited from the acid rain. It kept his skin tight and blemish free, removed scars, and polished his metal to a high gloss. It smelled like ass though, a rotten stench of methane and sulfur all bundled up and dropped from unforgiving thistle colored clouds. None of the dainty fae were out and about in this weather. No Nixies or Pixies or tiny little flutter shits. How he hated them and their nasty habit of farting sparkles wherever they went. Mortals might find it charming and even put store in 'pixie dust' but Wolfe found it disgusting that they just shed wherever they wanted and expected it to be okay. That damn double standard...you could get away with anything as long as you looked cute and fabulous doing it. Wolfe was neither cute nor fabulous. Menacing. Terrifying. Obstinate. These were far better descriptors.

The neon hurt his eyes, glaring and glimmering holollusions that advertised everything from the latest frog-skin fashions 'for the fae with discerning taste' to Grandma's Basket 'try the 'Little Red' sausage it's delicious!' and everything in between. Luckily for Wolfe, in a neighborhood this poor the adverts didn't talk or move or anything else. They were just annoying images made of a thousand motes of partially magical mostly digital illumination. Modern Faerie at it's most glamorous. Yet another part of his soul died at the thought. Thank the powers it was a short walk through this neon strife zone from the bar to the edge of the forest. A burn zone separated the city from the 'wilderness' though it could hardly be called that these days. Fringe was a better word for it.

Ever since 'progress' had come those who dwelt in Faerie had started acting more and more like the mortals that frustrated them. They used their resources on frivolous 'modern' pursuits. The forest Wolfe lived in had once been the dominating habitat, a lush magical paradise of ents and semi-sentient flora. Even the dumbest of animals had possessed a beautiful magical spark that in some way set it apart from it's wholly mortal counterparts. White stags seemed to be genetically predisposed to be extraordinarily tasty Wolfe had discovered long ago. Especially those that had little bells attached to them. But you didn't see those in the forest these days. There was barely enough forest left. Wolfe's den was deep within what had once been the 'Dark Forest'. A place laced with brambles and menacingly bare branches, where trees grew contorted faces in their bark for the fun of it, trying to scare and impress their neighbors with their creative imagery. Wolfe still knew the names of the old mossbeards that grew near his den entrance but none of them had been awake in ages. Not since the soil had grown thin and it took all their effort just to get enough to eat.

He gave a small sigh of relief as he descended the entry tunnel that led to his front door, a circle of oak beautifully carved with a scene of a pack of wolves bringing the Lune herself to bay. Fitting copper key into copper lock, he turned the handle and vanished inside, slamming it shut behind him to discourage anyone disabused of life enough to have followed him. He hung his hat and coat on the rack, toweling off here in the foyer rather than track the pollution deeper into his cozy home. That done, he moved into the living room, rolling his shoulders as the fire instantly sprang to life and heat began to fill the room. Magic, pure and simple. The good stuff. The old stuff. The right stuff in Wolfe's humble opinion. He rubbed his stubble covered jaw with blunt fingers, ignoring it at first until it started to sting like someone had taken sandpaper to the pads of his digits. Time to shave. A little bristle was okay but he had no intention of growing a beard.

He fetched his favorite liquor from the cabinet and settled in his favorite chair, eyes taking in the paintings and trophies from hunts long past that covered nearly every inch of space on the walls of his den. Furs piled high on the floor, creating a lovely plush surface to the step, and the furnishings were serviceable and lived in. The best thing Wolfe had ever done was win the services of that brownie in a game of knucklebones all those years ago. He often wondered how the little guy was doing, he hadn't talked to Sherman in an age at least. But things were still clean and the offerings of bread and honey were still consumed, so Wolfe assumed Sherman was still poking along...just less inclined to conversation. Probably because of the accident. Wolfe glanced down at his hands, flexing his fingers. Hard to believe these weren't his original limbs...they looked so real. Felt so real. But they were machine. Just like so much of him was.

He was Wolfe. Once just another shifter. Just another version of the 'Big Bad' of stories and legend. Now he was something more, some forgotten hybrid of 'progress' and 'antiquity'. He poured himself a drink, swirling the slightly luminous blue liquid around in the glass. Before he could quaff the sweet liquid oblivion that he was holding so near, a knock echoed on his door. He stared toward it, puzzled and slightly amused, wondering if he was hearing things again. But it sounded a second time, and then a third. With a decidedly unamused grunt, Wolfe stood and made his way toward the door, a low growl rumbling out of his chest. Someone was going to pay for interrupting the end of his evening.
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