The Stork bringeth Parlay

The Stork bringeth Parlay




As far as ordinary goes for around here, it is such a day for the Hollow. The Lost are going about their business around the subterreanean lair in what amounts to a war zone for them. Nothing has been the same since the Scarecrow and other senior Lost of the Freehold were killed off mysteriously, the Courts decimated. Sure, there has been trouble with spiders, rats, and other Hedge creatures, luckily there hasn't been any trouble with the Keepers. Unless this Pie Man is one of them.

It’s the early evening on a cold November night. The steam pipes keep the area at a comfortable temperature though. Despite the general air of worry that hangs over the members of the Freehold in general, it seems like most of the Lost are trying to ignore their troubles and go about their days as normal as possible.

Apple sits in a corner, watching the daily activities from the shadows. She looks rather nervous, and sits close to the exit. She sips on a cup of tea.

Chills sits near by with his Children Playing' sign-axe in his lap and is cleaning some dried blood from it.

Crispin is for his part leaning against a wall with his arms crossed over his chest. He looks rather uncomfortable to be here and mostly just stares at Chill with a cold kind of appraisal.

Rosemary has just stepped in, the ghostly girl drawing her shawl about herself. She glances around the room, offering a few nervous smiles around at the unusually sized crowd, working her way over to where Apple and Chill are seated.

Apple seems to be happy to have Chill nearby. Crispin gets the odd glance every once in a while as she sizes up the man who's not exactly a regular in the freehold. Rosemary gets a friendly, if nervous wave as she approaches. Appl clears her throat and says, "Hi Rosemary. Glad to see you aren't dead. Have you seen Iola?" She asks about her courtmate in an oh-so-innocent tone that suggests a much less innocent reason for the question.

And as for Chill, he's not involved in anything. Nope, he's quiet, out of the way, and cleaning his axe. No extra sounds, no extra movements. Just clean clean clean and rub rub rub.

Crispin breaks his silence and calls across the distance to Chill and his busy work. "I see you made it out ok." His voice is gentle but the words seem harsh. "Even money had you dead in the Hedge. Anything follow you back?"

Rosemary glances up at Crispin, the auburn-haired girl flushing slightly in confusion. She glances back at Apple, offering a twitchy grin. "No. Not really dead. I don't think." She bites her lip, "Who's Iola?"

Apple shrugs and rolls her eyes, "No one, apparently, since no one has seen her…Like the tree no one hears fall, does she really exist?" She seems to fall into pondering that for a few moments, but then looks from Chill to Crispin and back, frowning a bit as Crispin's tone registers, a little late. "Something wrong?"

Chill looks up blankly towards Crispin. "Uh, no. Came out, uh, somewhere else. Nowhere near here. I, uh, did what I said I was going to, uh, too. All's quiet."

Crispin glances over at Apple. "No. Nothing is alright. I'm only here tonight to give fair warning. Myself and a number of others think it is suicide to stay here. It is compromised." He glances back at Chill still cold and there is a blue light in his eyes. "And our friend here stirred the pot last night. I didn't expect to find him here." He pauses. "But I think this is the last night anyone should stay in this place."

Rosemary tucks a strand of hair back behind her ear, shrugging helplessly at Apple and offering a wan smile. "Sorry I'm no help." She grins twitchily, then seems to notice Crispin's talk, falling pale and silent.

Apple looks from Crispin to Chill, worried. She bites at her nail a while before asking, "Why? Because he killed the delivery man? Doesn't sound like a big thing. Probably a bakers dozen pie-making hobs out there." She offers a weak smile at her flimsy attempt at humor, giving Crispin a pleading look, "Besides, no one's got anywhere to go, so it's stupid to start bossing us like you know everything."

Chill doesn't seem too bothered by Crispin's words. "Uh, I'm here because, uh, its not safe. Until, uh, everyone decides to move I'm, uh, gonna be here." He shakes his head slowly, looking back down to his axe. "I like things, uh, quiet, but, uh, we can't always get what we want. Pie Man, uh, is too dangerous for you to, uh, go after anyways."

Crispin comes off the wall uncrossing his arms. He looks at Apple. "A hotel… skid row… a bus station." His tone remains soft but his words carry. "Any of those would be safer than here. And I'm not bossing anyone. I'm just saying my peace because you deserve a warning. If you don't listen… at least I tried." He looks back at Chill. "I don't know if you are a fool or just intent on pretending to be one. It doesn't matter. You set something in motion last night. You can't push things beyond the Hedge and not expect them to push back."

Rosemary draws her shawl a bit lower, her arms falling to her side as the darkling frowns, drawing attention for the firstime. Her voice is almost a whisper, barely carrying. "Why do you have to call him a fool to make your point? We're all in the same boat. Maybe you're right, but I don't think you should talk to him like that." She bites her lip.

Apple looks from one to the other and nods, "She's right you know. You might be angry at him, but it's not going to help convince anyone if you go insulting the bouncer…All that does is get you kicked out of the club."

Chill looks to Apple and gives his head another shake. "Uh, its alright, uh, really. I don't mind, uh, if people don't believe me. Uh, I sent the Pie Man a gift through, uh, well, I just did. It's just, uh, pies. And now, uh, he doesn't know where we are."

Crispin grunts. "Right… he has no idea." He shakes his head and the long, dark hair sends a shower of brightly colored leaves to the ground. Then he looks at Apple and Rosemary. "Enjoy your evening ladies. The bouncer doesn't have to kick me out. This club ain't my scene." He starts for the exit.

Rosemary looks at Apple, smiling briefly at the affirmation. She watches Crispin turn to leave, rubbing her shoulder and murmuring softly, "I'm confused…"

Some metal doors off to the side of the main hollow area, that normally lead to a service tunnel, where the last pie was delivered, rattle in their hinges as they are shook with a *BOOM*BOOM*BOOM*

Apple looks at Crispin and murmurs to him pityingly, "You've got the curse too, huh?" And she stands, digging in her pockets to take out a small, feeble-looking knife as she stares at the door, her eyes wide with fear. She does what she can to put nice, big Chill between her and the noisy door without being too obvious about it.

Well, there's the noise and violence Chill figured was coming. As he rises to his feet he grips his axe and lets the water come from every pore of his body, drenching his clothes before it hardens into protective ice. "Fuck." He mutters under his breath, eyes on the door. "Uh, you guys might want to, uh, run. I haven't, uh, made a contract with the, uh, wolves yet."

Crispin pivots at the sound and one hand is a blur of motion sitting on the hilt of his sword where it pushes above his shoulder. He hasn't drawn it yet but glowing red eyes are fixed on the door. "I knew it. No good deed goes unpunished." A small, round shield appears in his left hand. It is black and emblazoned with a silver moon. "Deal the wolves? You aren't just an idiot. You are insane." It seems a rhetorical statement more than anything else.

Rosemary looks around at people armoring and unsheathing weapons. Reluctantly, she unfolds her parasol, fingering it nervously as she looks at the door. "So, um. That's bad."

The doors are opened, and a few feet away, within the next doorway is the twilight of the Hedge. The background is a burnt forest landscape - the area in the Hedge that roughly corresponds to Central Park, for those in the know. Out of the right side of the door, a branch is waved with a grimy yellow-white rag. A creaky voice utters, "Parlay?"

Apple arches an eyebrow and lets out a slightly hysterical bark of laughter before falling silent with a self-concious look. She grips her little knife tightly and whispers, apparently to Crispin, "Don't trust that nonsense. Bakers aren't likely to parlay, I don't think."

Chill takes a few steps forward to put himself directly in the line of fire. "Uh, we don't want a fight, uh, so, uh, step out where we can see you, uh, and state your name, uh, before we'll agree. No, uh, tricks now. I, uh, don't want to fight anyone."

Crispin looks over at Rosemary. "Still think this is a safe place to hang out?"

Rosemary's fingers twist tighter in her shawl, stepping backwards and trembling slightly at Apple's words. She starts at Crispin's words, flushing, looking confused, "I don't…" She bites her lip, trailing off whatever she was going to say.

Out steps into the doorway's view an extremely tall and skinny hob, at least 7 feet tall. His head is a bird, with a long beak, and he turns his skull to look at the Hollow with one eye. Overall it gives the impression that of a stork. Maybe he is a hedgebeast rather than a hob? No matter what, it appears that at the smallest sign, he is ready to bolt. "Parlay? The Gizzard wishes to parlay. One of our own was chopped in half. The briarwolves are in a huff." A long whizzy breath through beak holes. "One of the fae swarms is acting strange. A host of Sprights are all excited about something. And the Gizzard received a pie from one calling him or her self Chill. We wish to parlay with the Lost Freehold of the City. Those few who remain." The eye facing the group blinks rapidly.

Apple gives another short burst of quiet laughter, as if she just can't contain it. She looks at the hob and shakes her head, murmuring "I don't like this…Tricky creatures, those."

"Uh, the Gizzard is the one, uh, sending us pies? Unless, uh, Granny was wrong…" Chill frowns slightly, letting his ice armor vanish, exposing himself to danger of attack. "Uh, we can parlay. Uh, as for, uh, Mr. Bucket, well… uh, perils of the job."

Crispin watches with interest but doesn't look particularly happy about any of this.

Rosemary is gradually inching back, the darkling naturally pressing against the shadows at the sight of the monster.

The bird-hob blinks over at Apple with his watery eye. "Are we the ones who cut down an innocent hob, that by all accounts looks like he wasn't even defending himself? We were trying to help." He turns his gaze over at Chill. "The Gizzard went to great extents to protect this…" he motions in at the Hollow itself, "this place you call a home. Do you realize how many pies he baked?" His eye bounces from one Lost to the next. "To protect all of you from the Keepers while you rebuilt yourself after the loss of your numbers. Didn't anyone read the notes attached to the pies?" The bird-hob's voice pitches up in excitement, then halts abruptly. Clears his throat with a croak. "I wish to parlay. If agreed, both sides promise not to lay harm on the other," he states quietly in his creaking voice. "Is there one of you in which may speak for the others?"

Apple looks around and giggles again nervously, "Oh dear. I forgot my recipe book too. But why would we want pies? They didn't seem to be magical or particularly protective." She mostly seems to be talking to herself, though she keeps a close eye on the hob. It would seem she isn't likly to be the one who's going to be speaking for them all.

"Uh… since, uh, its not safe and, uh, since I'm the one who killed, uh, Mr. Bucket and the, uh, Briarwolf… I should, uh, go." Chill looks a little guilty. "I, uh, sent him a pie back. Uh, I thought he'd like it, uh, probably."

Crispin calls across the distance. "It is the season Autumn so it is that Court, if any, who will speak for the Lost of this city. We will parlay but not here and now. The Court of Fear must advise its ruler of your wish to set terms."

Rosemary swallows nervously, trembling as she pushes back from the shadow, slipping behind Chill and murmuring, "I'll go with you…"

The bird-hob once more looks over at Apple, then dismisses her words as nonsense with a wave of a feathery hand. He stares over at Chill. "So you are the culprit who killed poor old Puck Bucket? Though the Gizzard loved the pie, it did little to ease the loss." His eye is already watery, but it definitely seems like he might tear up as he utters those words. "The briarwolves are their own concern. But if they are agitated, they cause all harm. The wise stay away from them." He pauses. "If the terms we work out agree upon it, I think the Gizzard would be happy accepting you as a meal."

He then swivels his stork head to look over at Crispin, and gives the Fairest Bright One a bob of his stork head. "If none may speak for the Freehold now, then so be it. Who may we ask after, and when, and then where? Be it known, while I spoke in concern of all hobs and beasts of the York Hedge, officially I may only negotiate terms on behalf of the Gizzard. No single hob can possibly speak for the Hedge as a whole - it would be like a wave representing the Ocean."

Apple listens quietly to the hob, then looks to Chill and echoes Rosemary's murmur, "I'll go with you. And since Autumn has no leader, that I've heard of, we might as well…you know…get it over with. I mean, like you said…You killed the stupid pie guy, and sent him to the other…" She looks at Crispin nervously.

"Uh… I don't want to be, uh, a meal." Chill admits quietly, looking about suspiciously. "Uh, as long as you promise that, uh, nobody will get hurt during or after, uh, the meeting for at least a time until, uh, we all part ways and reach home, uh, safe, it should be okay."

Crispin frowns and keeps his eyes locked on the bird-hob. "As I said… the Court of Fear is in season and only that Court can parlay." He ignores the other three who seem intent on going. "Three days Sir." He addresses the bird directly. The Court of Autumn will be prepared to meet with you here again and discuss terms at that time." He shrugs. "If you wish to go off with these and parlay them as individuals… that is your concern… but you know as well as I that is not how things are done."

Rosemary frowns at Crispin. She has no idea how things are done herself, rubbing the back of her neck and trying to stay out of the way.

The bird-hob sighs laboriously though his peak nostrils as he blinks his eye bobbing back and forth between the three volunteers and Crispin. "If there be no Freehold, then, yes, I guess you may speak for yourself rather than through your ruler. You said you wished to come with me, so I assumed you were turning yourself in. I forgot honor is a lost virtue." A pause, then a croaking chuckle. "A 'lost' virtue. Oh, my, I must remember that one. Trite will love it," he mutters to himself. He straightens himself, tugging on the bottom of his vest, then looks to Crispin. "It sounds like none of you truly know 'how it is done' when times are dire such as these. To let you settle issues among yourselves first, shall we say a week then, and shall meet once more here." It's not a question, but rather as if he asserting a decided fact.

Apple looks from the hob to the others and shrugs, falling silent and biting the nails on her free hand.

"Uh, Puck Bucket was a lot better pie than, uh, deliveryman. And, uh, he didn't work just for the Gizzard. Uh, he worked for anyone, uh, who would pay him. I don't think, uh, your Gizzard cares as much as, uh, he says he does." Chill states coldly. "I'll go and, uh, parlay but I won't, uh, promise to die."

Crispin simply nods to the bird-hob. "Done. A week it is." He turns and appears to be leaving apparently not caring a whit if the others decide to go off into the Hedge or not.

Rosemary drops the edge of her shawl, glancing at Apple worriedly. "I.. umm." She bites her lip. "What?"

The bird-hob makes a dramatic shrug of his shoulders. "Well, I'm not taking you anywhere at the moment, I was only here to parlay." He looks at Chill as if the Ogre is densely not getting the point. "But please be here, the Gizzard will be interested in meeting you." He turns to leave himself. The branch with the grubby yellow-white rag bouncing on his shoulder with every high step he takes. As the gateway starts to flicker and fade, a few more hobs step out from the brambles near the path in the distance. One has the appearance of several tall boulders.

Apple looks after Crispin and sighs, shaking her head and saying, "Just full of mixed messages, that one…And bossy like the bitchy chill lady." She looks to Rosemary and gives her a sympathetic look, "We're going to go visit the hobs in a week."

And Chill sighs, shaking his head. "If we wait a week, uh, Autumn will muck things up." The ogre is obviously not happy, but he turns and begins to leave as well. "Wish I hadn't let them out of the hut."

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