Correia's Law

Correia's Law, first seen here:
"The amount to which someone tells others to moderate their tone is inversely proportional to their own ability to do so."

Libertatem, Literarum, et Veritas.

"Freedom of letters and truth."

Oxford Comma, y'all.

Just making note of the date.

Redcap

Viano placed the glasses on the table, undid the seal on the bottle.  Poured.  The liquid was cloudy white, and smelled of anise.

Caprice waited until Viano was done.  “It it true what they say about you, O’Malley?”


Patrick hesitated.  “Some.  I come when I’m needed, yah?  I do what it needed, if it can be done.  So long as it’s to do with the fata, with the fair folk.”

Caprice nodded slowly.  “I think it does.  Maybe.  So I ask you to come.  Three days ago, my daughter’s youngest, she did not come home.  Her sisters say she was down by the river.  When my Gianna went to look for her, she found this.”

He pulled out a small wooden box and opened the lid, then turned it so Patrick could see.

Inside was a scrap of red cloth.

Patrick reached out, hesitated.  “May I?”

Caprice didn’t answer, just raised his chin.  Patrick reached out and gently lifted the scrap of cloth from the box.  It was faintly damp, still.  He lifted it to his nose, sniffed.

The smell of copper.

He reached out to put the cloth back in the box.  He didn’t try to hide the trembling in his fingers.  He closed the lid before silently taking the glass in front of him and tossing back the contents in a gulp.
He coughed, held the glass out before him until his hand stopped shaking, then raised his eyes to meet Caprice’s.

“Aye.  This is that, it is.  Nasty, too.”  He hesitated.

“Say it.”  Caprice’s voice was flat.

“Redcap.”  Patrick shook his head slowly.  “Your little one.  She is not coming back, sir.”  He swallowed, hard.  “I am sorry.”

Caprice lowered his head.  “I knew.”  His voice was quiet, rough.  There would be tears later, Patrick thought.  Not now, though.

“I knew,” Caprice repeated.  “There is nothing to be done for her, is there?”

He chose his words carefully. “Nothing for her, no.”

Caprice raised his head slowly.  “For her.  I see.  For who, then?”

“For you, maybe,” said Patrick softly.  “For your Gianna.  For your family.  More than that, though - for the other bairns, the little ones.“  He reached out, tapped the box.  “This one, if he’s here, he comes to stay.  Until someone drives him away, he’ll take the children, one by one.  All the children.  Italian, Irish, Polish, Hungarian…”

“Until someone drives him away.”  Caprice closed his eyes.  “What then, O’Malley?  I ask you to drive him away, what happens?  Will he come back some day?”

“Maybe.  Yes.  Sooner or later, yes.  Someone gets careless, someone gets stupid, someone with a knack opens the way, and the Redcap will return.  Worse.  Others will know he found his way here, and they’ll want to follow.”

“Can you kill him?”

“It.  Don’t dignify it by giving it more than that.  No, I can’t kill it.”  Patrick took a deep breath before continuing. “But… I can do better than send it back, I think.  I will be needing some help, but I think I can make it so that it doesn’t come back, and nothing would dare follow it.”

Caprice wasn’t a dumb man.  Patrick watched his face as it mirrored his thoughts.

“You’ve thought about this already, haven’t you?”

He didn’t deny it.  “Yes.  I learned from my father, and he from his.  Every generation.  Something comes through.  The fair and shining folk trod heavy upon the grass of our world, and leave people broken and bleeding in their wake.  We have always wanted to stop it, but never had a way.”

“You think you have one now?”

“With your permission?  Yes.  I need to talk to a few others, but yes.  I can seal this thing away for good.”

“Permission.”  Caprice’s eyes narrowed.  “Who am I to give you permission, O’Malley?  This is your work.”

“The forms must be followed.  These ones… they are old.  They wrap the world around them like a cloak, for protection.  There are always openings, though.  Ways to hurt them.”  He kept his face impassive.  “This one, it exists by rules that would let it be bound.  Under certain conditions.  If the moon is right, if the forms are followed.”

He met Caprise’s gaze.  “If the ruler o’ the land allows it.”

He watched the gears turning.  “The governor, you mean?  Or the president?  There is no way that that is happening, O’Malley.”

“Ah!”  Patrick grinned.  “Right thought.  Wrong direction.  ’Tis the undisputed ruler of the land that it is in, what matters.”  He paused for a second, inclined his head slightly.

“Don.”

Caprise watched him carefully, stroked his chin.  “That’s not a title I’d be throwing about, O’Malley.”

Patrick shrugged.  “It is what it is.  Right here, right now?  Men don’t work unless you say.  Those who disobey are… well.  They find themselves in a right jam, don’t they?”  He looked up at Caprise.   “You’re the law here, Caprise.  Judge.  Jury.  Executioner, if it comes to it.”  He shrugged.  “By the rules it lives by, if you give your blessing, I can pass judgement on it.”

“Can you…”

Patrick held up his hand.  “Do not ask that.”  He lowered his hand slowly.  “With your permission, there’s naught that I cannot do to it.  If I kill it, though… no.”  He shook his head slowly.  “The curse o’ the thing, at it’s death, would be too much.  It would kill e’ry man, woman and child in this city.  I will no do that.”

Caprise slumped. “What good are you then?” His voice was bitter.

Patrick smiled and leaned forward.  His grin would have made Satan himself proud,

“I will nae kill it,” he said softly.  “There’s a lifetime o’ Hell that can be heaped upon a creature before it dies, though.  Mortal or fae.”  He leaned back.  “That, now.  That I can do.  An’ you say the word.”

Caprise  blinked.  “So you won’t kill it, but… you can torture it?  Make it suffer?”

Patrick didn’t answer.  Just smiled and nodded.

“Good.”  Caprice’s voice was a snarl.  He gestured to Viano.  The young man topped off Patrick’s glass.  Caprice picked his up, and Patrick did the same.

“To Anna, may she rest in the arms of the saints,” said Caprice, solemnly.  “And to the O’Malley, who I ask to rid us of this fata.  You will do this?”

“Of course.  It’s what the O’Malley does.  It comes with the title, sure an’ it does.”

Xe, Xar, Xir, Xyx, @!^#%

Seen today, commenting on alternate pronouns:
I've simplified life by adopting a single universal alternate pronoun, "b*tch."
Works for me.

TWO IN ONE DAY?!?

Yes, I know!  Insane, eh?

Anyways - "Thrash Grass" from The Native Howl.

Tagging it here because this may be just what I need for a scene in Night Poll.

Well, Now.

Ten year anniversary.  Even if not much has been happening here lately, I've still been keeping busy.

Eldest is off at college.

The youngest two are playing basketball.

Company was acquired by a Big Name.  Yes, you've heard of them.

Teaching an adult Sunday-school class.

Walked over 1000 miles last year.  Pushing for 1500 this year.

A couple of other major (good!) health and lifestyle changes last year.

Currently editing "Terms of Employment" and hoping to submit it this week.

Next up is finishing "An Honorable Man", then a short called "Sacrifice".

Then I'll dive back in to Night Poll.

Have a cake on me, sir or m'am.

Terms of Employment

It started far too early on a Monday, of course.  Nothing worthwhile ever started on a Monday, but that doesn’t keep some people - eternal optimists that they are - from trying.

I was just settling in to my chair with a hot cup of fresh coffee, looking forward to a wonderfully unproductive day of catching up on some paperwork, when the phone on the desk buzzed.  I sighed and picked it up.

“Jack!” Hansen didn’t even let me say hello.  “I need you in my office.”

I sighed again.  “Right away, sir.”  I hung up the phone, looked longingly at my pile of nice, boring paperwork, then pushed back my old office chair.  I took the time to stretch as I stood up, then grabbed by coffee and sauntered towards Tom’s office, sipping carefully as I went.

It was Monday morning, for crying out loud.  He could wait a few seconds while I caffeinated myself.

Tom was flipping through his own pile of paperwork when I walked into his office.  He grunted to acknowledge me, then motioned for me to close the door and have a seat.  I kicked the door shut gently, then hooked my foot around an overstuffed chair that had seen much better days and dragged it into position so I could sit and stretch out my legs.

Tom’s a good boss.  He continued to shuffle paperwork for a few more seconds to let me get comfortable and grab a few more sips of coffee.  He finally found whatever it was he was looking for, and pushed the rest of the papers aside.

“Ever been to Pittsburgh?”

Tom’s not big on small talk, so I figured this was something job-related.

“Once, years ago,” I said.  “Passed through when I was still a kid.”  I took a careful sip of coffee.  “I understand it’s changed a lot since then.”

Tom snorted.  “You could say that.  They have parks now, for one thing.”

I blinked.  That was not the Pittsburgh I remembered.  “Really?”

Tom nodded.  “Really really.”  He handed me the paper he had dug up.  It was a color printout of an aerial view of - well, I was assuming it was Pittsburgh.  There was a whole lot more green than I was expecting to see.

Turns out, I was half right.

“Oakland,” said Tom.  “One of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.  The blob of green in the center is Schenley Park.  Golf course, swimming pool, skating rinks.”  He raised his eyebrows at me.  “Phipps Botanical Gardens.”

I whistled.   Phipps was a Big Name in our business.  I hadn’t realized they were located in Pittsburgh.

I looked at Tom.  “They having problems?”

“No,” Tom said slowly.  “Or, rather, they may be.  One of their workers was out for a walk last week, and claims that he found troll spoor in the park.”

I laughed.  “No, seriously?  Look at that place!  How big is it, really?”

“Just under 500 acres”, said Tom, grudgingly.

I shook my head.  “No way someplace that small could grow a troll.”

“That’s just the park area.”  Tom sounded like he was trying to convince himself.  “With the surrounding forests…”

“It’s still urban, Tom.”

He sighed and looked at me.  “And it’s still someone from Phipps saying they found troll sign, Jack.  They asked if we would send someone to check it out.”  He shrugged.  “Just in case.”

“Wait a minute,” I said.  “If there is a troll, that should be Penny’s bailiwick, right?”

“Yep.”

I smiled and looked at Tom expectantly, and he just returned my gaze.  There was something… oh.

“Penny’s on vacation, isn’t she?”  I couldn’t keep the resignation out of my voice.

“Yep.”

“Fine!”  I closed my eyes.  There went the week.  “Whatever.  I’ll go.”

I opened my eyes to find tom looking at me bemusedly.  “You know I’d send you with her anyway as backup, right?  Why the objection to going it alone?”

I shrugged.  “Areas of responsibility, Tom.  You know that.  If it’s something that Penny should have been dealing with, and I have to fill out her paperwork, you know I’m going to screw it up.”  I looked into my coffee glumly.  “She’ll give me crap for weeks about it.”

Tom signed and shook his head.  “Look, whatever - just go, OK?  Get your kit together, I’ll authorize a vehicle, and however it goes, you’ll have it wrapped up by Wednesday at the latest.”

I stood and looked down at Tom.  “With only a weeks worth of paperwork to do at that point…” I waved my hand at him as he opened his mouth.  “Fine! No, I’m going.  See?  This is me opening the door.  This is me stepping outside.  This is me…”

“Getting assigned to counting tick populations in Maryland if you don’t shut up and get moving!”  growled Tom.


He was smiling as he said it, though.  Slightly.  So I gave him one in return and went to put together my troll-hunting kit.  Just another glorious day in the National Park Service.

An Honorable Man

“It’s probably just a matter of breaking it in,” said Haulings.  Damian could see the unbelief in his face, hear it in his voice.  He looked long and hard at his first mate’s scarred face, then shook his head.

“Don’t be blowing sunshine up my ass, Haul.”  He lifted his glass, glared at the remains, then threw it back and slammed the glass down on the table.

Haulings shrugged.  “Just trying to look on the bright side, Cap.”  

“Tell you what, First.  Go look in on the crew.”  He took a breath, blew it out, and raised his glass to the bartender.  “Another one over here!”  He put the glass down and turned back to Haulings.  “Get them… crap.  Doing something.  Keep them busy.  We’re supposed to set sail tomorrow, and they’re all being good little scamps.  They find out we’re stuck in port until I can find a magi to work the hull, and we’ll be peeling them out of every last lockup between the Fenders and the Flash.”

“Cap…” Damian could hear the warning in his voice.  He waved his hand at his first mate, but didn’t turn to meet his eyes.  Instead, he fumbled in his pockets and pulled out a coin, sliding it across the table to sit beside his empty glass.

“I’ll be fine.  Another to lubricate the thinking parts, First.  Then I’ll be back with you, and we’ll figure this out.”

He kept his eye down, looking at his glass.  Haulings reached out, put a hand on his shoulder for a second, then slid out of his chair and vanished into the crowd.

Damian waited a second, then let his shoulders slump.

“Hard being optimistic, isn’t it?” said the man sitting next to him.

Damian jumped and glared at the fop who had snuck up on him.  He and Haulings had been alone at the table… he was about to unleash his extensive vocabulary when he noticed the man’s eyes.

Piercing blue, verging on unnatural.

He slumped back, the fight gone out of him, and snarled. “Sayel.”

The man shook his head.  Long curly blond hair framed a thin face with a button nose and full lips.  He’d never seen him before.  His lips quirked up in a shadow of a grin.  “You always seem to know it’s me,” he said.  His voice was low and syrupy.

Damian snorted.  “The eyes.  Fae can’t change the eyes.”

The man’s grin faded.  “I have told you before.  I am not Fae.”  There was an edge to his voice.

Damian grunted.  “Good.  Now we’re both in a bad mood.  Misery loves company, or so I hear.” The bartender came around, collected his coin, and slid another drink towards him.  He pointedly ignored the Sayel and took at slug, feeling it burn it’s way down.

Sayel leaned back.  “That stuff will kill you, you know.  Is that what you would be known for, in death?  ‘Here lies Captain Damian Black, dead from drinking the juice of a rotten plant?’”

Damian stoped with the mug halfway to his lips, and turned his head slowly to look at Sayel.  “You told me last time that you did not know my fate.”

“Still don’t,” Sayel said cheerfully.  “I’m speaking in generalities, of course.”

Damian sighed.  “Of course.”  He set his mug down anyways, perhaps a bit carefully. The anger was gone, replaced with weariness.  “What do you want, Sayel?  I’ve got things to do.”

Sayel raise a single eyebrow.  “Like drink yourself into forgetting that you’ve spent far too much money on a completely useless keel?” He wave at the mug.  “Please, don’t let me interfere.”

“Screw you,” he said, but his heart wasn’t in it.  “Come to mock?”

“Little bit, maybe,” said Sayel.  “Come to help, is more like.”

Damian couldn’t help it.  He laughed out loud.  “You?  Help?  Right.” He lifted his mug, took another belt, and started coughing.  Crap.  Maybe Sayel was right.

“Oh, I can’t help you.”  Sayel lowered his voice.  “I can direct you to someone who can, though.  Someone who could take that badly-woven keel of yours and tune it for the Weave.”

Damian stared at him.  “Sure you can.”  He grit his teeth.  Damn it all, but there was a spark of hope here.  He owed it to his men to search out the truth of the offer.  “What price, though, adruch?  What would you have of me?”

“Nothing.”

He furrowed his brow and stared at Sayel.  “Crap.  There is always something.”  He was surprised at how bitter his own voice sounded in his ears.  “Always.”

Sayel’s eyes seemed to flare brighter.  “I swear to you, Captain.  On my Name, and the Name of the one whom I serve.  There is nothing I ask of you, save that you hear me out.”

He looked at Sayel for a moment, then nodded quickly.  “Speak.”

“In the Touring Quarter, you’ll find a poor ayloshea working on aristo’s hulls for a pittance.  He does what he does for the love of his craft, and has sworn an oath to not make a coin from his labors.”  Sayel tilted his head.  “He has never done work on the scale you require.”

“Then what good is his name?”

Sayel winked at him.  “I have it on the highest authority that he can do the work you require.”

To Damian, it was if the entire room had suddenly gone cold.  A feeling of dread crawled up his spine.

“Highest authority.”

Sayel smiled slightly.  “I do believe that’s what I said.”  His voice grew cold.  “Do you want evidence?”

“No!  No.”  Damian waved his hands.  “Not needed.  You word, as always, is impeccable and unimpeachable.”

“Excellent!” Sayel said, cheerfully.  His smile was back.  He reached into his doublet, and pulled out a thick envelope.  He tapped it on the table, then laid it flat and slid it over to Damian, who looked at it as if someone had offered him a snake.

“You will find all the details in there, along with some suggestions of mine on how to approach him.”  Damian could swear there was a twinkle in his eye.  “The man himself may not be interested in money, but I think you are going to find this will cost you enough to make it hurt.”

Damian cursed, but his heart really wasn’t in it.  Sayel got up to leave, and he reached out and laid his hand gently on his coat.  Sayel stopped and looked back at him.

“Why?”  He shook his head, leaned in.  “We’re smugglers, Sayel.  Why?  Why would he help us?”

Sayel shook his head slowly, a slight smile on his face.  “Honestly, Damian?  You should know by now.  He loves you.”  His mouth quirked up in a slight grin.  “I’d be lying, too, if I didn’t admit a bit of affection for you and your men.  You’re a rebel and a rogue, by the standards of the world… but there are different and better standards, and by those, you are nothing if not an honorable man.”

Damian let his hand drop.  Sayel smiled.  “Jamal Jamar, Damian.  Read the letter, and look him up.”

Damian glanced down at the cream-colored envelope on the table, then back up to Sayel.  Or, rather, when Sayel had been standing.  He was gone.  Damian resisted the urge to look about.  It would serve no purpose.

He sighed, considered his drink, then pushed it away.  Instead, he picked up the envelope, slit it open, and pulled out the pages inside.  He started reading, then shook his head, reached over and grabbed his drink anyways.

He raised his glass towards where Sayel had been sitting, before tossing back the last of it and settling down to read.  After a while, he grunted.  Sayel was right.  This was going to hurt… but if he could pull it off, he’d have the only ship outside of the Empire and Fae that was capable of sailing the Weave itself.


He bit his lip.  Sayel said there was no price… but there always was, when dealing with angels.