pentamerone <% /!UseJournal %>
Mutual Exchange [Titania]
Once he had steered himself away from Mabb, Schmendrick took shelter in a tree for the night. With a light tap, the bark had opened up and let him in, where he shared a meal with a squirrel and curled up to sleep for the night. When morning came, the tree released him, and he bade his furry friend farewell.

There was a brief pause by a stream to wash the sap from his hair and the splinters from his robe. Then there was another spell cast, and a thin trail of blue light sped through the trees, taking shape as it flew in the form of a butterfly. Schmendrick waited, and a few minutes passed before it returned and flickered it's wings at him.

It led on, following a clear stream until tall reeds and the scent of flowers surrounded them. Then the light spun about and winked away, its task complete.

Schmendrick made his way through the foliage, pushing tall grasses out of his way and treading with light feet. He could sense a whispering through the plants, and the reeds were trying (not uneffectively) to bar him from continuing. He spoke back to it, trying to coax it into letting him pass, but as he tried again, a stalk caught hold of his ankle. Schmendrick stumbled, fell back--

--and landed in a pool of water, his hat falling from his head, and being quickly dragged down by the weight of his robes.

Tags: schmendrick, titania

From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/14/2007 21:16:14  

Titania had already decided to make it easy for Schmendrick to find her. But she hadn't expected him to come looking while she was bathing. The plants felt him coming, and tried to keep him back, but Titania didn't give them the extra push they needed to do so. She needed to speak with him.

She covered her mouth, hiding an amused smile when he tripped and landed in the water; she hadn't meant for him to fall. She waded over to him, water waist-high, and completely naked. And again, completely unashamed of her nudity. "Well my dear magician. I must say you do know how to make an entrance."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/14/2007 21:35:11  

Schmendrick had righted himself, and was reaching for his hat when the fae Queen drew near. He stilled, rigid as a stone, when the corner of his eyes glimpsed naked flesh, and a flush of scarlet rose on his cheeks.

Of course, Schmendrick had seen nudity before. Even before the unicorn had become the girl he had known, naked and pure and new to the world. Before he had known Molly, and the strength and softness of her body. But there was a rather large field of difference between the intimacy of a lover, or the familiarity of a daughter (which he and Molly had privately thought of Amalthea, unspoken but known between them), and the nakedness of the beautiful Queen of the Fey.

"Apologies, my lady," he said, taking his dripping hat in his hands, eyes lowered to the water. "No one... told me you were bathing." He cast a dark look back at the reeds, which twittered and swished their amusement.
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/14/2007 21:53:06  

Titania's amusement was near as great as theirs. "I take little notice of modesty, dear Schmendrick. You need not apologize." She also made absolutely no move to cover herself. "I was hoping to see you soon. And I am glad you are unharmed. I fear I may have sent you on a very dangerous mission."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/14/2007 22:26:00  

"You may not, Lady. I'm afraid I can't help but." Especially when it presented itself in such a manner.

With some effort, the magician raised his eyes, focusing them on the Queen's face.

"There is another dead. I discovered the body myself. And managed to locate the murderer." He took a breath. "Have you heard of one called Mabb?"
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/14/2007 22:33:57  

Titania would have smiled in reply but Schmendrick's next response had that smile disappearing. "I have. And now I have heard she's behind this. What I do not know is why." Carabosse was not all that clear on the details. Her eye narrowed. "You located her? Where?"
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/14/2007 23:05:36  

"By a stream," he said, "But surely she's moved on since then. I was able to follow the trail of her magic." A light, almost bashful wince crossed his face. "I'm not sure she apreciated it."

But his expression quickly became serious again. "She's dangerous. Very dangerous. I don't know what of her story was true, but in either case, she believes it. And she's more than willing to kill whomever she needs to."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/14/2007 23:11:35  

Another dead. And Titania was sure the rest of the council would follow. She looked over at Cobweb and jerked her head, an unspoken command the fairy seemed to understand immediately. The fey was gone in an instant, taking Peaseblossom along. Titania turned back to Schmendrick. "Tell me her story. Tell me everything she said to you."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 07:44:17  

With care, being sure to describe even the gestures she made and taking great care to explain the scars on her wrists and skin, Schmendrick relayed to her his encounter with Mabb.

When he was finished with his tale, he drew quiet for a moment. "I doubt she would think favorably on you, my lady," he said. "I must ask. Is there any truth to her words?"
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 09:09:36  

[OOC: omg sorry for the epic reply; bitch wouldn't shut up!]

Titania was silent through his whole tale, eyes wide. The tale gave her the strangest feelings, as though some parts she should really know, should remember. Others rung no bells at all. Curse the council; Carabosse had been right. They were all betrayed!

Titania swallowed. "There must be at least some truth to what she has said. If her wrists were as badly scarred as you say... only iron chains could have done that. Only long years in iron cuffs would have left so powerful a fey still scarred. The imprisonment must be true."

As for the relationship between Mabb and Oberon... That was where Titania had an inkling of memory, where she knew something had been erased. "If she were speaking the truth about herself and Oberon, then I expect our encounter will not be pleasant." To say the least. But it would happen, Titania had no doubt.

"And I don't doubt she was being truthful about this being the work of the council. Mabb is not the only one to have said so, to have laid blame at their feet. She will continue to kill, of this I am certain. Likely she's already found another. There are few left who can answer questions. I must find one of them before she's slain them all."

Titania turned then and moved to the edge of the pool, to climb out. Moth and Mustardseed immediately came to her side, clothing her in a drying robe. "You have given me invaluable information, Schmendrick. And for that I will do the same for you." A mutual exchange. It was fair.
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 09:41:31  

[Seriously, no worries. You call that epic? I've seen replies that take 3 posts, I shit you not. I like long replies :)]

Schmendrick was beginning to bow when she thanked him, but the second part of her sentence made him freeze, and blink. "For me?" he said, surprised. He didn't know what information she might have that would be beneficial to him. Not in such a manner as she seemed to offer it.
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 09:58:46  

[O__O! okay that's terrifying. i like longish responses too, but dayum! xD]

Titania smiled. "In the Rajani Jungle, I came across a beautiful young woman. Or so she appeared to be. It was clear that she was not, in fact, merely a woman at all. More importantly, my dear magician, she was searching for friends, for you specifically. Her name is Amalthea." She watched him as she spoke.
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 10:11:14  

Schmendrick's jaw dropped open in a very unrefined stare. In all the years since he had left the waste of Haggard's castle, through all the whispers he had heard of unicorns, the name 'Amalthea' had never again reached his ears. Neither he nor Molly had spoken the name, always referring to the unicorn simply as "she" and "her". They knew who was meant when it was spoken.

But Titania's words struck him deeply, with both joy and remorse, sorrow and delight. "Am...Amalthea, you say?" he asked, his voice trembling more now with the complex rush of emotion pouring through him than it ever had in front of Mabb.

His throat was dry, despite his drenched state. The magician licked his lips, trying to moisten. "A... woman? You saw her as... a woman?"
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 10:22:09  

Titania reached out, placed a warm hand on Schmendrick's shoulder. "Yes. She was a woman, but I cannot say she still will be when you see her. She said you were the one who made it possible for her to change. You showed her the way. I welcomed her here, to these woods. I'm sure you will find her here."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 10:33:20  

The magician swayed on his feet, grateful for the hand on his shoulder and the offered strength behind it. Amalthea. Amalthea! Pride swelled in his heart to know that she had kept the name he'd given her.

"I showed her..." His voice trailed off, more speaking to himself and simply repeating the words than attempting any form of conversation. "She can change. Of course she can change, you fool. How could she not and be what she is?"

Then the wizard looked sharply up at the fae. "She was looking for me? I'll see her?" His voice sounded nearly frenzied with panic. "Here?"

That meant soon. Very soon. Gods, was he ready for this? Could he ever be ready?
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 10:40:34  

Titania's eyebrow rasied when Schmendrick started muttering to himself. And then he looked back at her and his eyes were wide, with something akin to panic. Those smae arched brows smoothly slipped down over her eyes in concern. "Yes. Unless you do not wish to. Have I made an error informing her of your presence here?"
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 10:54:15  

"No," he said immediately. "No, of course not. No." Then he shook his head. "Yes. I mean..."

He sat down, not caring that he was still in the water. A log carefully slipped under him to ensure that he wouldn't be submerged by sitting directly on the pond's floor. There, Schmendrick placed his head in his hands.

"I... want to see her. I've always wanted to see her again. She haunts my dreams sometimes." He shut his eyes. "But I am afraid for her. If she is wandering... if she still assumes mortal form... then I fear I have done her great evil, that I can never undo."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 11:05:47  

"Would you tell me what happened, Schmendrick?" Titania asked. She sat by the pond's edge, bare feet dangling in the water. Moth swooped over, draped the seelie queen's drying hair in her crown of white flowers, and darted away again. "Amalthea seemed somewhat sad, but at the same time, so very eager to see you. And a woman named Molly Grue as well." Titania was already certain this would not be an easy story to tell, so she gave Schmendrick the option not to tell it. "If you do not wish to tell me, I need not know."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 12:24:54  

It wasn't an easy story, not by any means. Schmendrick had never told it to anyone.

"She won't find Molly," he said softly. "Molly's gone on to a place not even she can travel."

For a long period of time, he was silent, a blank face staring into the water. Then he began to speak. "My tale is about the Lady Amalthea, but also of myself, and a woman named Molly Grue. It begins with me and ends with me, but it is their story as well." Schmendrick closed his eyes again and continued to speak.

"When I was a child, long, long ago, I was apprenticed to the greatest wizard of all time, a man named Nikos. Nikos could tell I had the gift for magic, but not the aptitude, and so, fearing that I would die before I ever came into my power, he placed a spell on me that I should live, immortal and unaging, until my magic was finally released to me. And so for a long, foolish time I was immortal, clumsily walking the world, seeking magic in anyplace I could hope to find it.

"Even, I am ashamed to admit, with the frauds. Mommy Fortuna's Midnight Carnival was that - frauds and illusions. But her magic was there, even if only based on illusion and belief. Only two things were real. A harpy she had managed to capture while it slept, and the unicorn." A great sigh escaped the magician at the memory, remembering clearly the beauty of the unicorn as she had slept in the grass. "I helped her. Freed her from the cold iron bars of Mommy Fortuna's cage. And in return, I asked if I could accompany her on her travels. I learned that she was looking for King Haggard and his dreaded Red Bull, as a butterfly had told her he had rounded up all the unicorns. All but her. She was the last.

"On our travel to King Haggard's kingdom, we met Molly." Schmendrick stopped here, eyes opening and watching the water. Silent, silent, for so long it was questionable if he would continue. But continue he did, abruptly.

"She invited herself along with us. I never understood why the unicorn allowed her to come along. I still don't. But we went on, and found our way to King Haggard's castle.

"It was the Bull we didn't expect. The Red Bull, who had rounded up all the unicorns of the world for Haggard's bidding. As we neared the castle, the Bull came with the sunset, and chased the unicorn, trying to herd her as well. In that moment, Molly cried to me, and I... called upon my magic. When the spell was spoken, there was no unicorn on the ground, but a girl, with white skin and hair, so beautiful and fresh and new it hurt to look upon her. That was the birth of the girl I named the Lady Amalthea. In human guise, we continued to the castle. And there, the story played itself out.
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/15/2007 12:28:54  

Schmendrick sighed. "The dashing young prince fell in love with the strange and beautiful lady. The sorry magician peddled his poor tricks to the dreary king. Molly and I searched for any clues of the unicorns, and Amalthea grew more and more human as the days went on. Until she too, loved the good prince, and came to forget who and what she was. When we finally found the way to the Red Bull's lair, our quest was nearly halted. The girl wanted to remain Amalthea, and love the prince. But the Bull knew her now, and no human form would fool him this time. My power came when I called, this time and then on, and I transformed her back into a unicorn. And still, the Red Bull all but had her... until Prince Lir gave his life to defend her. When the Bull killed him, the unicorn turned and attacked. She drove the Bull into the sea, and the unicorns were free from their watery prison. They fled, all but one, who remained to bring the fallen Prince back to life."

The wizard sighed. "I spoke to her but once more after that. I thought it a dream at the time. She said she would try to go home, but I do not know if she was able. I prayed she was. I prayed that I might never see her again, for if I did, it would mean she was a wanderer, and that is no life for a unicorn. Molly stayed by my side from that day on, but Molly..." His voice faltered again. "It was a fever. None of my power could help her. And I though... if she would come for anyone, anyone at all, it would be for Molly Grue. But she never came, and I buried Molly in the place where she had first met the unicorn."

He seemed to return to himself a bit, eyes regaining focus, and even turning slightly towards Titania. "I have seen many wonders since those days, and performed many of my own. But I have never again seen the unicorn - my unicorn, if such a statement can dare be uttered, or any other." A faint smile flickered across his lips. "I think Molly loved her more than I, but I do the best I can. More of my love was given to Molly instead. But no matter where I went or what I did, I did what I thought the unicorn would have liked. I don't know if I shall please her. I never thought I would learn."

He looked away again, that moment of awareness turning back inwards. "I hope I would please her. I hope I will not be foolish. But I am more frightened of her than of Mabb."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/15/2007 16:27:02  

Schmendrick story was not short, and it was not unusual for a fey to grow disinterested before such a long story reached its conclusion. But Titania was interested, rapt even, and she watching with almost solemn eyes as the magician spoke. "I have lived for more years than most can imagine, dear Schmendrick, even more so than your immortality has granted you so far. And yet I have never come across such a story as thing, such emotions as this, and I fear I may have little to offer you in the way of words of comfort, save this: You truly loved, still love, the woman, the unicorn, whatever is is was and will be. One should never, never fear anyone they love. That much I know."

She waded back into the water towards him, reached out and took his hands in hers. "I think you will please her. I think all she wants right now, in the strange world she does not know, if to find a friend, someone familiar, and someone she cares deeply for. If Molly is gone, and I'm truly sorry she is, if you two were happy together, then right now in this world, you are all she has. Worry not about about how she will see you. Instead, just see her, and love her again."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/16/2007 10:19:40  

With a heavy sigh, Schmendrick nodded. "Your words speak true, my lady Queen. But things are rarely what they seem, and almost never what we dream."

But he was coming back to himself. "I can be a friend. And I can love her. I always have." He looked back to Titania. "Thank you."

Slowly, he got to his feet, the saturated robes making that more difficult than he had expected. "I would apologize for... such a display in your bathing pool," he said, "but I don't believe you mind."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/16/2007 10:49:29  

"And your words are just as true, dear Schmendrick." She smiled at him and stood, extending her hand to help him out of the pond. "You are welcome. And you are right. I do not mind. I thank you as well, Schmendrick, for all you have found out for me. I'm sure you do not need me to offer this suggestion, but please do your best to steer clear of Mabb. I do not wish her to unleash any of her wrath upon you."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/16/2007 10:54:28  

He bowed. "I wish I could offer the same advice to you, my lady," he said. "But I fear your paths shall cross regardless of what I wish."

He took her hand and offer of aid, and once he was out of the pond, made a wringing motion with his hands. The water seeped out of his clothing, slipping its way back into the pool, and he shook off the droplets that remained in his hair.

"If I may, please take this." reaching into one of the many pockets of his robe, the magician took out a small black stone, highly polished and no larger than an acorn. "Wear it to the skin. It will grow warm when a powerful presence draws near. So you will not be caught off your guard."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/16/2007 11:08:33  

"Our paths will cross. They must, I am certain of that," Titania agreed. It didn't please her to think so, but she knew it to be true. She received the stone he gave her with a kind of curious interest mingled with appreciation. The ability it had - true she could do the same herself, but only when she were aware. If she were asleep, or distracted, the stone could do the watching and sensing for her. Highly useful.

"I thank you, dear Schmendrick. This will likely be invaluable. May I offer you food or drink before you continue on your way?" Her lips quirked. "You've already managed a bit of a bath, or I could offer that as well."
From: [info]what_we_dream Date: 06/16/2007 11:16:52  

Schmendrick smiled. Royalty or no, Titania had earned a place among those he called 'friend' this day. "Thank you, lady. But I doubt I could eat or drink much with the butterflies in my belly."

He let out a breath. "I have a lady to find," he said. "By your leave, I'll stay in these woods until I have found her."
From: [info]no_common_fae Date: 06/16/2007 11:22:34  

Titania laid a gentle hand on his cheek. "You are welcome in these woods so long as you wish, so long as they are mine," she responded. "Go and find her. I wish you both well."
Community: [info]pentamerone
<% /!UseJournal %>