Angels, Demons, Muses***

I don’t often get angry. It’s one of my better attributes.  It wasn’t always.  When the other boys teased and bullied me at school, for being bookish, for having red hair etc, I used to get very angry. Fortunately, Mother taught me to overcome that.  On top of that, years of trading, dealing with port authorities, customs and excise and seamen of all ranks in ports all over Europe taught me the value of patience and stoicism.  This is almost certainly a good thing.  Even more so now; as Cristof tells me that the clan we share is prone to anger and worse, frenzy, which I know from experience, is a bad thing.

One thing that will raise my ire is anybody attacking my friends. I had wandered over to the tavern in the morning and found Bunny & Rachel there, discussing various forms of redemption with Cristof.  I gathered that Cristof had been a bit of a holy roller in his youth. I also got the impression that a fight had just been avoided after Rachel said something to impugn Cristof’s honour. I don’t know quite what happened, but she apparently backed down and anger was avoided. Hence, indirectly, the discussion on redemption.  I found myself in agreement with Bunny, preferring my own values to those imposed from elsewhere.  Cristof spoke briefly of paths that our kind followed, one being called Humanitas, which was something a little like Humanism. I need to spend some more time with him.  He did give me some advice regarding what he called Disciplines, which is the proper name for those powers our kind seem to have.  Again, I need to learn more of these.  If I have these powers, I might as well know how to use them. Anyway, at one point in the discussion, Valene appeared at my side.  She didn’t say anything, just stood next to me for a few moments, allowing me to hug her, and listening.  Then, just as quickly, she disappeared. She was clearly known to Bunny & Rachel because they then started commenting about how she smelled like too many men, including Padishar, then called her a slut and a whore. Naturally I defended her, telling that they were talking about my friend and asking them to keep civil tongues in their head. I didn’t wait to hear more, in case I got angrier, and departed. I don’t know why it made me so angry. I was always aware of what she did at Fiendish Pleasures, but that wasn’t who she was. She wasn’t a slut or a whore.  I much preferred the term they used there – muse.  And here, in this as yet un-named isle, I doubt the Queen of the Cait Sidhe has time for such thing. Whatever she may be, or may have been, she is my friend, and thus I will always defend her.

I am a little curious about Rachel and Bunny. At one point, Rachel complained that she needed to feed and Bunny volunteered herself. Yet, I saw no teeth, no biting, no blood, just a holding of hands. Very curious.

I was calmer when I went back to the tavern later, even managing to greet Bunny & Rachel civilly. Nobody seemed to be minding the bar, so I decided to take on that duty.  Vedis was curled up on the rug in front of the fire, still apparently being a snake. Then a masked and armoured figure came in, a figure I remember from days at Fiendish Pleasures.  Galy… something or other, carrying Aoibheann and placing her down near the fire.  She appeared to be uninjured, but somewhat woozy and out of it. As usual, she declined to answer when I asked if she was ok or wanted a drink.  Someday she’ll get over it and realise I never intended her any harm.   I’m not sure what Vedis was up to.  She greeted me politely enough, which I returned, trying to drop the hint that I wanted Aoibheann to be left alone.  She sent the Galy person off to find the various people who were on her side, Padishar and Valene being among them. I guess Clan Seid still continues, even here.  I would have asked more, but Vedis left with Galy soon after, leaving Aoibheann where she was.

Padishar turned up soon after. Rachel, of course, went immediately into obedience mode, not even lifting her arm to drink, which he eventually permitted her to do. Bunny did make some plea on Rachel’s behalf, but Padishar just started going on about how Rachel had tried to murder him and “you wouldn’t want her to murder me, would you?” Senna also turned up, but just sat at the table, possibly hoping for a free drink

Whatever else might have been said was interrupted by the angel I had seen a few days previously. Now I have no great beef with angels, per se, but he clearly had an effect on the bar, in that Padishar, Rachel & Bunny high-tailed it out of there as soon as they could.  Only Senna seemed unimpressed, laughing at him and calling him a walking lampstand.  He seemed quite pleased by the reaction, yelling something about holy fire after them and calling them unholy bastards, which sounded like un-angelic language to me, but then, I’m no expert.

After that, he had only eyes for Aoibheann, greeting her as “faithful one”.  That seemed rather optimistic to me, as I doubt that Aoibheann had sufficient clue, as yet, to decide whether or not to become a follower. I was more concerned about the sudden lack of customers and asked him if he intended to buy lots of drink, seeing as how he had scared off my customers.  OK, technically, they were Paash’s customers, but I wasn’t going to quibble. Senna joined me at the bar and asked me if the glowstick (whatever that might be) knew he was far from home. I opined that I did not know, wondering if this tavern looked like the head of a pin, a question which I think was lost on her.  I poured her a beer, since she seemed to share my cynical viewpoint. The angel, Sammy, or something like that told her that his home was far away, but his mission (being a walking night-light in her opinion) was here. To me, he suggested that I drink all the drinks that the others would have consumed.

I wasn’t going to let that one go, so continued mildly; pointing out that were I to do so, that would almost certainly count as drinking to excess, which I was sure would count as sinful to him. I further added that it was not due to any wrongdoing on my part that the others had left, and that injuring an innocent bystander was surely not part of his purpose.  I don’t know why I was arguing. Perhaps it was his arrogant attitude.  I was also curious.  From previous experience in London, I had found angels to be almost as blindly literal as demons, and was interested in his reactions. To me he said that it was not his fault that the other creatures feared him. To Senna, he warned her that the last being who tackled him had been banished to the forest for the day. She was not impressed, saying that she was shaking in her boots and he had better come up with something better if he wanted her to fear him.  I was similarly unimpressed, pressing my argument.

“I do not recall stating that the creatures’ fear was your problem,” I said. “I’m sure you quite enjoy it. Nevertheless, you have created a problem, by causing a sudden lack of customers.  I am not at fault, the owner of this business is not at fault, yet we suffer for your actions, no matter how well intentioned.”  Aoibheann, meanwhile, acted as though she knew him, even if she was standing there with her eyes closed, and wanted to know if he was terrorising people.  That made me chuckle. Senna and I were perfectly at ease, but Padishar and friends had seemed pretty worried.  He claimed he wasn’t terrorising, that it wasn’t his fault they ran away. Then he decided to use his angelic powers on her.  Did he heal her wounds?  No, he snapped his fingers and suddenly, her rather tatty dress was brand new again.  Oddly, a verse from scripture came to mind, something about clothing somebody in pure vestments. Book of Zechariah, if I recall correctly.  Now why should I remember that?  Hillaire would have been most pleased.  I had to comment, asking how he would like it if I came into church on Sunday and emptied the place by telling everybody that drinks were half price at the tavern.

Senna meanwhile, decided to act on Aoibheann’s defence, moving closer to her and telling Sammy to stop messing with her and filling her with his bullshit.  I silently applauded. I would never deny anybody their chance at salvation, but somehow I was not convinced Aoibheann had been given the full story.  Aoibheann was more concerned about paying him for mending her dress.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, suddenly, my head was filled with an old and oddly familiar voice. Not a lot of what it said made sense; something about shiny things, banishments, lands dying and being reborn. There was only one person I knew who spoke like that, and when I turned around, there he was.  The Phoenix I had met some while ago in Jasper Cove. I didn’t have much time to respond as the angel was talking to me again, asking what I wanted and telling me to be kind about it.  I replied that I was not aware of having been unkind, having merely pointed out the possibly unintended consequences of his actions.  Then, purely out of curiosity, I decided to see how literal he was.

“If I were to put my accounting hat on,” I said, “I would estimate that the gentleman who left owed me three gold pieces for a barrel of beer, the greyish lady was probably good for a few silver pieces on previous form, and the other female, well, she doesn’t count much as the grey one tends to buy her drinks. So, I reckon I’m probably out four gold pieces by the end of the evening.” I wasn’t about to admit that Bunny had already promised to pay for the beer. I was more intrigued to see if I could con an angel. I guess that I could, for he produced four gold coins out of nowhere and left them on the counter for me before vanishing.

Aoibheann did a good vanishing act too, barely managing to acknowledge that I had spoken.  All I said as she left was to take care and ask her if she could let Isabella know I wanted a word.

Senna was still grumbling about the angel, but when she saw the phoenix, became more concerned that she was drunk.  I told her that was unlikely on two beers and a rum she hadn’t even drunk yet.  I don’t know if she had ‘heard’ the same things I did, but she started grumbling about why a creature that lived forever couldn’t find time to learn a proper language. I was about to correct one misapprehension in that, but the phoenix did it for me.  That was pretty much all it said, other than claiming it didn’t need any incense or the fireplace, which I had offered, remembering the last time we met.  I changed one of the angel’s gold coins for the equivalent in smaller coinage and gave that to Senna. She had helped annoy the angel, after all, and, unless things had changed in the past few days, I knew she had no money.  Then, I took myself off to my humble abode, there to commune only with my journal.
*** Couldn’t find a song that featured all three, so…
Angel From Montgomery – long-time favourite of mine and definitely the best song with angel in the title
Demons in Dancing Shoes – just because, it’s RT
The Muse – a bit more random, but I like Laura Marling, so…

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