Reclaiming of the Shrew

Title: Reclaiming of the Shrew
Time Period: January 12, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Jain's shrew is reclaimed at the expense of Algernon's time and patience and Beisdean's pride and Shakespeare.

Property right and right of ownership mean nothing in Dornie, at least when it comes to some members of the militia. It's late evening when the main door to the Albatross bangs open and Jain MacCruimein marches through. He's on a mission. Usually when he visits, he gives a little more concern to the door and the wall it's attached to, right now it could fall off its hinges for all he cares.

He doesn't close it behind him either.

Without a word to the surprised proprietors and drinkers, he tromps up the stairs. He would draw his claymore if the hallways weren't so cramped, but it's indoors. If he didn't have a purpose, he would kick the doors to the other rooms in, just to see what's inside. The excuse is always to make sure no one surprises them from behind, really it's to spy more loot for himself. He's not the most honest, but he is one of the best. He stops outside one of the doors, there's no marking on it, nothing to make anyone suspicious of the inhabitant but Jain draws a revolver anyway. The gentleman staying in this room is someone that's committed (to Jain) one of the most heinous of crimes. He slept with the Highlander's shrew.

Within, Beisdean Skye lies on the bed, reading the book of Yeats that is among his most cherished belongings. At the first sound of pounding feet on wooden steps, he looks up with exasperation, waiting for the noise to pass. But it only gets louder as the owner of the feet make his way down the hall until they seem to stop in front of Beisdean's door.

Setting the book down, Beisdean waits for either a knock or more footfalls, but when neither come, he rises and moves to the door, stocking feet masking the sound of his own footfalls as he pads quietly across the wooden floor. He sighs, flipping back his hair out of his eyes before reaching for the door and opening it a crack.

Seeing Jain on the other side, his blue eyes instantly narrow. "Something I can help you with?"

It's a moment or two before Algernon appears after the resounding bang of door to wall. Someone's given it a solid kick, sounds like, and in he steps more slowly and deliberately, moustache, hat and coat already a familiar fixture around this establishment.

Tracing Jain's progress is a matter of asking a younger man on his feet after directions, and here he comes, one boot crossed over the other on his way up the stairs in unhurried pursuit.

The draw and hammer cock of his revolver on the way up is masked by the tread of damp boot to wooden flooring as he goes.

When he reaches the top of the stairs, past a slow, steady exhalation of breath, he — cannot summon the energy necessary to look surprised at who he sees posted outside of Beisdean's door. That his next move is to look back down over his shoulder for anyone who might be eavesdropping is promising, although it isn't clear for who.

"I have more questions," Jain growls, pointing the revolver throughe the crack before shouldering the door with more strength than the man on the other side is holding it. After which, he saunters through, already seeming more at ease than he has been all day prior.

Pausing, he looks around the small room. Small compared to his own dwelling; that is, wherever he chooses to lay his head at night. Sometimes it's the Dovetail, sometimes a grateful widow, sometimes another man's wife… he doesn't care.

He leans backward out the door, waving a signal to the other soldier, someone he's not quite used to working with. "He won't cause much trouble," Jain says to Algernon before plodding back in again. Yeats is manhandled.

Any fight from Beisdean is preempted by the appearance of the revolver, and Beisdean is easily shoved aside, wincing as the door's dull edge clips him in the collarbone in its arc. Brows draw together in an angry pinch, and he glances from Jain holding the book to Algernon and back.

"Of course," he finally murmurs cautiously, cordiality and politeness feigned and fragile. "Come in, why don't you, Mister Fogg? I've not got much in the way of refreshments, but I could beg a pot of tea from Mrs. Owens, I'm sure."

His blue eyes move back to watch the Yeats in Jain's hands.

The measured plod of Fogg's boots down the hallway is as recognizeable as his hat, for those who live here, so his appearance in the doorway after Jain should come as no real surprise. He knows who lives inside. Beisdean's greeting and invitation are received with an even nod for all that he lingers near enough the open door to keep an eye on the stretch of hallway outside, expression inscrutable. Ghastly grim in mostly black, gloves-to-toes prepared for a long night in the snow.

He hasn't holstered his revolver, either. The fashionable thing at the moment appears to be having it out.

Jain edges a little closer to the pillow, closer to the light, as he thumbs through the book at a leisurely pace. "Who do you have in your room aside from the weasel?" Trick question. "There's talk that you speak to others." He leans back against the pillow, almost guaranteeing that Beisdean will have to change the case before being able to lay his own head where the greasy locks leave a stain.

It's a careless hold he has on his weapon, finger through the loop and trigger ready to click at a wrong flip. The mercenary seems off enough to play such a game. But he doesn't yet. Sitting up again suddenly, he tosses the book aside and gets up again, adjusting his shirt. "How familiar are you with the Ross clan?"

"At the moment, sir, there's just you, me, and a wee bit of Mr. Fogg's left boot. The marten is currently elsewhere, and there are no others right now," Beisdean says coolly, glancing from one man to the next, eyes on their weapons.

His eyebrows raise at the question, and he shakes his head. "Not very much at all familiar, except with Bridget. She's close to my age, and we grew up together, though we weren't close necessarily. She and I were always a little left of center, you might say, at least later on." After everyone knew what he was. After her mother died.

"The rest of them, not very familiar at all. There's no reason for me to be doing business with them, nor them with me, and I don't believe my mum ever knew any of them that I know of," he continues.

His eyes flit from Jain's to Algernon's. "Is there any reason to suspect me for any wrongdoings?" He's not asking Jain.

If he isn't asking Jain, he's asking Algernon, and Algeron is very busy looking intently down the narrow of the hallway. "Of the three of us," he says, blandly, at a distance, and to the door frame, "you would be in the best position to know."

The look he checks after it, wood to accused, carries unmistakeable warning: a silent, patriarchal imperative for Beisdean to watch his mouth.

"Do you generally allow your familiar to prowl around?" When there are investigations into your habits going on. "What sort of errands do you have it perform for you when it is loose about the town? Do you have it gather the routines of honest folk?" Not unlike Jain himself.

There's a heavy clomp of the soldier's boot against the floor as he paces a slow and predatory circle around Beisdean. "So aside from Bridget Ross, who you say you don't know well at all but is one of the people who will speak for you…" He gives a small pause but not long enough for Beisdean to retract or explain. "… You don't know any of the other Rosses enough to do business with them. Isn't that convenient? What are your feelings on young girls? There've been witnesses that claim to see you speaking with Constance Rowntree."

At Algernon’s look, Beisdean glances down, brows knitting as he stares at his gray socks on wood floor. His mouth pops open to answer the first or second of Jain’s questions but then they keep coming and he gives the smallest head shake of irritation at the volley of queries.

“My familiar,” he returns to the earlier line of inquiry, “is out hunting squirrels or something of the sort, maybe napping in some warm spot. I think it’s common to give them their own space and freedom, but if it’s not legal these days, I’ll keep him confined.”

There’s no bite of sarcasm to his words now, just flat civility, cautious wording, and a glance to Algernon to watch for more warnings.

“As for Bridget, I didn’t say I don’t know her well; I said we weren’t necessarily close. We each had our own battles to fight, and we respected one another for it. I don’t expect her to say we’re bosom buddies is all,” he continues, pausing to consider if he's answered all the questions.

“I don’t know Miss Rowntree well. We’ve met, but that is about all I can say. We are mere acquaintances," he says finally, watching Jain warily.

"You don't know where he is?"

Algernon finally poses a question upon plucking possible inconsistency from their back and forth, tone mild for all that the implication is potentially dangerous. Bad news, even if suspicion has failed to manifest itself in his demeanor beyond a wary glance. Like he's actually paying attention to what's being said, now.

He even gives Beisdean an unfriendly little up-and-down from across the room.

"Is it unusual for a mage to not know where his or her familiar is?" Jain muses on the question, not taking his eye off Beisdean but picking up another, heavier tome from the shelf. Shakespeare, the English bastard, the soldier's green eyes flick toward Algernon before settling on Beisdean again.

There's a groan of mattress spring and wood as he settles onto the bed with the book in hand. Pages are flipped carelessly enough that a few of the more fragile ones tear at the margin. He stops on one in particular and touches his fingers to the words as if absorbing them through his skin. In reality… the shrew in his sleeve is digesting some of them.

The sound of the pages ripping makes Beisdean flinch, and he closes his eyes, reaching up to rub his temple. "Hold on," he murmurs, concentrating and glancing toward the window. "He's not far. The MacDowell twins are feeding him jam, it seems. Calling him in. May I?"

The question is accompanied by a gesture to the window, to ask if he can open it. Algernon is looked to first, and then Jain. "He's changed forms and is flying in. As for if it's unusual or not — I only know my own habits and his. I don't know what's most common for others, but then I'm not the most common sort of mage, then, am I? If it's illegal for him to be out on his own, I certainly was not aware of it, and I apologize."

Beisdean's answer is — according to the brow Algernon arches at Jain — telling enough, on the subject of whether or not mages tend to know what their familiars are up to.

"As far as I know," he says aloud, and tangentally, "there is no standing law to that effect, Mister Skye." A dismissive nod allows for the window to remain open or closed — whichever way. He's preoccupied with watching Jain make tissue paper of Shakespeare, expression one of mute interest. Property destruction, on the other hand —

"Shall I check under the bed for bodies, sir? Otherwise, if your curiosity is satisfied, I have a horse waiting."

Jain is slow to move his hand from the page but once it is, he quickly snaps the book shut with one hand and places it back on the shelf. "Keep a close eye on it, if I hear tell that you've been letting him out to watch unsuspecting citizens…" He lifts the end of the bed himself to check if there's anyone under it. It's heavy enough that there's strain showing on his face before he drops it with a large crash.

"I'll be back to have more words." From Shakespeare maybe.

He passes by Algernon on his way out to the hallway. It's possible that both men hear him muttering about ghoulish bastard, he could be talking about Beisdean or the Englishman (Shakespeare).

Beisdean moves to the window — it may be moot, but having his familiar close will at least make him feel a little better at this point — to open it, before turning to watch the two militia men retreat from the offensive.

Darklight can be heard before he can be seen, black feathers camoufaged against black sky, before the raven alights on the window sill, cocking his head at the men assembled. Feathers become fur and it jumps from sill to bed, black shining eyes blinking in the light.

"And even if you don't hear tell," Beisdean says, mostly under his breath.

A few minutes of watching his mouth was a good record for anyone, under the circumstances.

Algernon holsters his revolver once Jain's swept out past him, coat lapels swept neatly back down into place before he leans to follow, leaving the door gaping vacantly open after the fade of his footsteps.

"Goodnight, Mister Skye."