Title: Fitting
Time Period: February 25, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Keeps-to-the-Shade fails to deliver what was promised.

The dusking sun lays a rosy cross upon the interior of this, most lonely of the castle's towers. This is a place for forgotten things. It's a mark of Dornie's prosperity, or at least the prosperity of its first families, that in such an age there could be items in excess. Things not useful enough to be used, not loved enough to be held near and dear, unimportant enough to be neglected - such things are the marks of wealth past necessity, possession past personal need. Only a full house clutters its attic, with detritus and dirty secrets.

Which is it, this necklace of bones and twine? Did a careless hand lay it aside? Was it squirreled away? Ringed in a withered wreath of yew, the brittle bones make predatory teeth in the ring's mouth, poxed with berries like shriveled pimples, a thing picked seasons ago.

An ordinary bird might never have looked this way, but Keeps-to-the-Shade is not an ordinary bird. Magpies are attracted to things that shine, and while Shade shares some of this attraction, she is also a familiar, made manifest of a companion whose power allows him to find things of power with wandering hands. Black and white fingers snag on the wind as she flutters upwards, flashes of blue and green feathers like the shining inner curves of a gutted creature shell. She lands on a dusty window sill, wings flapping apart the spider web she encounters there, the white-grey arachnid itself snapped up in her beak and swallowed.

She already feels very clever, very impressed with herself, for discovering this place.

A short flight lands her atop an abandoned dresser, a deft hop having her duck and land on the edge where a drawer had been long removed, permitting her to glimpse into the dark interior of the one below it, but nothing but scuff and dust. She'll be grey instead of proud black and white by the time she's done, and if she finds nothing in her current able form of a magpie, she may have to turn into something smaller. But she would prefer not.

There are footprints in the dust, recent enough to be made out by more than the faintest of hillocks in the dust. Big, booted footprints, for big, booted feet. They move with purpose, pause in the middle for a marked rotation, then cross past the front of a big, cracked mirror over to the splintered surface of an oak table, upon which the wreath and its cadaverous contents sit. Clear enough clues, for keen enough eyes.

Feather tails a fanned, she soon leans back out the first hiding place that caught her eye, some twine caught in black beak and dropped once more. She is about to investigate that small pile of bedroom belongings, a dusty hairbrush, broken toothed combs, and a doll with its painted face worn away, when she spies those markings on the ground. Shade keeps where she is as she tracks it with beady eyes. Then, with more noisy flapping that disturbs the dust in the air, she flies from dresser to table, scratching talons skidding along its filthy surface and wings folding up once she has her footing.

Wonderful. Her feet find the cracking edges of the dried out yew, and she peers down at the bones not unlike the ones she possesses. Already tasting the rabbit she was promised in return for her deed, she snaps up the prize as curtly as she would a worm from the ground.

A sound like a sigh, longing, as the yellowed yew wreath reaches its arms up to embrace the bird. Dark sap begins to weep from the broken needles, oozing its way into Shade's feathers and congealing, thick like tar and just as sticky. She's been trapped, much as an insect might on its way to amber immortality.

Trails of oily black smoke spiral lazily towards the tower's peaked ceiling, coiling in the rafters, marking slow time in thickness.

Her tiny heart begins to hammer at the rapid pace of a hummingbird's wings as soon as she feels those tendrily bindings loop down over folded wings. A twitch of a flap is all she makes, daring not to struggle much further lest she break something, but that doesn't stop the panicky squarks that fill the tower, twisting his beak away from where the sap oozes between her feathers, wishing not for her beak to get stuck closed, or to get suffocated. The entire structure twitches and jerks as feet scrabble, the bone necklace forgotten and falling from her beak.

The hollow eyes of the skull view Shade's difficulty with an awful indifference which is Shade's only company for long hours.

She does not suffocate, though the threat hangs in the form of a dark droplet that clings - securely, blessedly - to twisted needle that hampers her vision. Time passes, and the disinterest of the dead would seem to prefigure the disinterest of the living - is she to be left here, until something else needs be forgotten?

The sound of approaching feet might come as a relief, then, if only because it means a change of company. Will they stop here, though? Yes. And the door creaks open, though not far - just a crack. Enough to give a cool blue proper vantage beneath a rusty brow.

With her entangled as she is, and the sap clotted in her feathers as they are, it might be difficult to tell what make of bird Shade is, at a glance. But black and white are stark colourings, and whatever light there is to catch will bounce off oily green blue accents. She twitches and struggles at the initial sound of approach, but still again, sore and wary of making worse her predicament. A low avian croak looses from her beak.

Somewhere, Cruikshank knows her distress, or knew it when it initially fled through her confidence, but she knows better to imagine that the creaking open of the door is by the hand of her companion. She can't see and thus she can't recognise who might be peering in at her, but she would if she could.

Duncan Rowntree fills the frame of the door as he pushes it open, fully, the wave of air setting the dust up in spiraling clouds, a disturbance avoided by the discretion of his previous peers. No mage, and certainly not about to let himself be bound to any spell for any sake, let alone mere convenience, he's used a mundane method to determine, each day, whether or not the trap has been sprung. Shade is maybe lucky only insofar as she chose a late hour for her investigation, and thus had only so many hours to wait before the evening glance Duncan has been giving this sticky little spytrap.

The militia man extracts a worn silk handkerchief from his pocket and approaches the scene of the averted crime. The fine fabric, when added to the pressure of a thumb, sweeps aside the threatening droplet, and clears some of her feathers.

Yes, it's rather hard to tell just what sort of bird Shade is, though Duncan gives a thin smile when he is able to discern.

"Fitting, for a thief."

He encloses Shade in a silken fist.