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 WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY, Neassa/Nevarran Warden Keep, 9:32 Dragon
CASSIOPEIA SOPHRONIUS
 Posted: May 5 2016, 01:21 PM
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Cassie took the time to send a very deliberate glare in the Neassa’s direction, her elbow resting on the arm of the chair she’d sunk into. She dropped the wrist of her elevated arm so it was parallel with the floor, perpendicular to her forearm, and her forefinger was pointed directly at the fire. Without even looking, glowering at Neassa the whole while, Cassie doused the flames completely in a heap of rapidly melting snow. It took a few seconds to feel the effects, but soon the cool air from the rest of the room drifted around towards the fire, driving back the dying wall of heat.

As if by an afterthought, Cassie casually flicked her wrist so she was pointing at Neassa with a smirk. She wasn’t going to do anything, tempting as the thought was. She just wanted to wind her up as much as Neassa was driving her up the wall. Though if she got any smart ideas about another Silence, Cassie would cheerfully snap out another lightning bolt.

Cassie’s eyes narrowed as Neassa approached, far too cockily for her liking. That usually meant Neassa had a stupid idea in her head and was convinced of its success. She considered the wisdom in letting Neassa close enough to lean her chair back, but she could see the Seeker hadn’t sprung whatever trap she had in mind yet.

Instead Cassie let the chair fall back until even her toes left the floor, her arms loosely crossed. Just in case this went where she thought it was, she conjured up a similar force behind her that she’d used on the whiskey bottle. Even if Neassa let go and her weight was too far back, she wouldn’t fall. She raised an eyebrow at the drumming behind her ears. ‘That really isn’t necessary,’ she said flatly, hoping Neassa didn’t have any solid plans regarding her defenestration.

Neassa let the chair go, but for a long moment Cassie hung on the edge of the chair’s back legs, the seat unmoving in the air. Cassie idly crossed her legs in midair before allowing the chair to thud to the ground, perfectly composed the entire time. Well, as composed as she could be after the whiskey. Waste of mana? Yes, and she was starting to feel just a little tired now, but worth it.

It may have also been the reason why she relaxed after hearing Neassa’s sigh of disappointment and assumed any and all plans had been foiled, rather than just the one. She was soon side-eyeing the woman again, literally as Neassa came around to her left side. She had enough time to doubt the contrite expression on the Seeker’s face and say ‘What are you th-’ before Neassa swooped and seized her.

With an indignant, not remotely dignified yell, Cassie left her stomach in her chair while the rest of her rose, draped over Neassa’s shoulder. The room spun from the sudden flip and change in height, and the whiskey probably had something to do with how long the dizziness lasted. She was fairly sure she could taste it again at the back of her throat, but she would be damned if something as simple as a pauldron in the gut would make her throw up back Neassa Séverin’s back. Though that would likely convince her to drop her...

Into a pool of her own vomit. No thank you. She spent enough time cleaning up after the recruits who survived their Joining or who challenged the wrong person to a drinking contest.

‘ Neassa Séverin! Put! Me! DOWN!’ Cassie bellowed, trying to elbow the Seeker in the back of the head. Unfortunately she was hanging too far down her back and only hit the woman’s metal stop rib. As they approached the wall Cassie tried to use her legs to keep them both away from the window, but it was a lot harder to coordinate her limbs properly while she was hanging upside down. At least the window was closed. Hopefully Neassa wouldn’t be able to open the little catch single-handedly with her bulky gauntlets on. And Cassie was fairly sure she could kick her hand if she tried...

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NEASSA SÉVERIN
 Posted: May 20 2016, 06:48 PM
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50 posts
38 years
Warrior


The fire may have been extinguished but the same could not be said for Neassa’s malice.

Cassie graciously denied her offer but Neassa was now invested. "Oh no, I insist.” It really wasn’t a bother to her. Not at all.

An open book she might be, written in blood and ranting about imagined injustices she had suffered beneath, but in that split second, even Cassie couldn’t read her. A split second was all The Seeker had needed to dethrone her, forcefully.

The would be Queen had made a sound of protest, it wasn’t sharp enough for Neassa to consider as something noteworthy, so she ignored it. To be honest, the outcome would have been much the same even if she had been taken in by the woman’s yell. The effort taken to lift the Warden from her chair was greater than any small consideration she might have for the other womans comfort that might be lingering in her drunken haze. If she’d hurt her, it wouldn’t be the first time. If she’d surprised her...again, it wouldn’t be the first time. Either way, a voice in her head told her she was winning. Its speech was slurred and stumbling into puddles of whisky, but she could still understand it.

Neassa laughed as Cassie made demands of her, somehow thinking that using her full name would result in a regression to obedience. It might have if it were anyone else, but with Neassa, it got nothing but a scoff and a dramatic dip of the shoulder as she pretended to consider putting the Warden down. If Cassie really thought about it though, she wouldn’t want that. Neassa would just drop her, and from this height, it would end in a couple of bruises at least.

Cassie’s elbow clanged against her armour and Neassa only laughed harder as she approached the closed window. It wasn’t until she reached it that she appreciated how difficult it was to handle Cassie while she was wriggling about like she was. She had known the woman wouldn’t go easily before she had even attempted this most impressive feat, but now, when she was faced with the problem directly, she wasn’t clear on how to solve it.

Instinct was something she depended on daily, it was the thing that saw her duck and dodge out of the way of spells and blades she only ever saw in her peripheral. It kept her whole.

She had loved her instincts, up until the moment she had slapped Cassie on the backside with her free hand.

Apparently, that same instinct was also very easily confused under the influence of anything that wasn’t the heat of battle and something that was far too irresponsibly responsive for her liking. Holy Maker Almighty let her remember nothing in the morning, even Neassa would pray to that.

A mix of horror, frustration and spiteful determination saw her put that same hand through the silver and blue stained glass of the window. It wasn’t as impressive as she had hoped, the window merely broke around her hand but failed to shatter and she realised she was dealing with some kind of heavy duty nightmare.

Not only was it possibly crafted by the Maker himself, but it existed only to show Neassa a reflection of herself in black of the night, rosy cheeked and stony faced after her most recently self inflicted trauma. Her eyes sharpened. Caught between wanting to throw Cassie out the window, and throwing herself out, Neassa paused.

She didn’t have the strength enough to hold Cassie and hate herself and to batter the sand out of that window, so she went instead to undo the catch holding it shut. Some might think she should have gone there in the first place, but they would be wrong.

Even the catch was making a joke out of her and it only took a split second of her infamous not thinking for her to shift Cassie until she had her perched on the ledge so that Neassa could instead use the two hands The Maker gave her (to doubly fuck up in life with) to open the window.

As if the hot flushing menopausal magic wielding Warden would sit pretty for her in the meantime.
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CASSIOPEIA SOPHRONIUS
 Posted: Nov 8 2016, 02:53 PM
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Cassie was certain the floor was swinging far more than Neassa’s gait warranted. This was the last time she drank alcohol in that woman’s presence, she vowed. Never, ever again.

For a whole second, she thought her complaints had actually made Neassa reconsider. As the floor approached by an inch or so, Cassie realised that, no, this was Neassa. This was a taunt. Still, she could try rolling sideways out of Neassa’s grasp. The floor wasn’t... that... far...

She really valued her skull too much to risk smashing it on the stone paving. Besides, her moment of indecision had cost her the chance of a minutely smaller fall to earth – Neassa straightened and resumed her march towards the window.

When they were close enough to the window for Neassa to stop, Cassie flailed her legs, hoping to find some purchase on the wall to help her push herself out of Neassa’s arm and down her back in a hopefully controlled fall to freedom.

Then there was a crunching, grinding sound. For a long heartbeat Cassie froze, wondering if she’d just put her foot through the window – but no, she could feel stonework against the soles of her boots. That left only one answer.

‘Neassa. Please tell me you did not just smash that window open.’ She did. She bloody did. The Warden-Commander was going to murder her.

Or better yet, he could murder Neassa. She was responsible, after all.

She was opening her mouth to say as much – with far more vitriol and By the Makers and what were you thinkings – when her world once again upended and her backside came into cold contact with the windowsill.

Cassie sat for all of a second, processing that Neassa had actually put her down. To open the window. By which she was accidentally crowding Cassie in against the damn thing, arms raised either side and above Cassie’s head to fiddle with the latch. Her heart was still beating quickly from her tie being suspended upside down, but the claustrophobia wasn’t helping.

Not that she’d ever had claustrophobia before, frequent forays into the Deep Roads and all.

Never mind that now unless you want to get thrown out of a window. Which... Neassa was struggling to open. And paying not the blindest bit of attention to her.

Oh, this was too easy. It had to be a trap, surely.

Cassie raised a finger level with Neassa’s armoured stomach – not her chest, not after the last little misunderstanding, glancing up at the Seeker’s face to look for any sign of a trick about to be turned on her. None.

Well then.

She jabbed her finger forward without actually touching the metal, a Force Push jetting along ahead of it. Compacted into such a small space, it would be sufficient to knock Neassa back as if a qunari had slammed a staff into her gut. She was being nice, really. She could have made it as if a dragon tail had smacked her across the room, but all she needed was enough space to get away from the stupid window.

Now, if Neassa actually managed to open it, Cassie might be tempted to manoeuvre the Seeker through the window herself, if her patience was tried enough. Which, this being Neassa, it would be. It was only a matter of time. She should have skipped the shove and gone straight to the defenestration. Pity.

To dissuade Neassa from any other smart ideas, Cassie stood and circled away from the window, coming to a stop somewhere between the doused fireplace and the door, waiting with her arms folded. ‘So tell me, how do you plan to pay for repairs to our stained glass window? I’m pretty sure that one dates back a couple of ages at least. Is a Seeker’s salary really that good?’ No way was Neassa lumping that one on her. Not a chance. She didn’t have the backing of the Chantry, and while she was sure her family could have afforded the repairs, it would have taken a sizable chunk of their fortunes. Not that that particular line of thinking helped, with her being a disowned criminal and all.


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NEASSA SÉVERIN
 Posted: Dec 15 2017, 01:36 AM
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50 posts
38 years
Warrior


She was either drunk or the window latch was a twelve piece puzzle with three of the pieces missing. It took her what felt like an age to get anywhere with it, all the while completely neglecting to consider the implications of a free and upright Cassie standing right there. It should really be more of a concern, sober Neassa would have noticed. Sober Neassa would be panicking internally about being in such close proximity to someone she wasn't actively murdering at the time. Drunk Neassa just wanted to open this damn window-

CLINK

A throaty chuckle punctuated her victory, if only she knew what lay in wait as she leaned forward to push the heavy window open. Still, forgetting all about the woman she had trapped in the small space between. Cassie was never trapped, merely waiting for the perfect moment to hasten her escape. Had she aimed at Neassa's chest, the woman might have noticed. But the stomach? That was way below her eyeline right now. Cassie didn't have to extend herself enough to actually jab her magic infused finger into The Seekers gut because the oblivious fool had already closed that gap pushing on the window.

What happened next was sheer calamity.

Neassa was blasted back and away from the mage but her hand had remained fixed to the window latch...and the little she had opened of it was violently sealed once again, the force of which was deafening. In the turmoil of her confused flight across the room, Neassa could hear the shattering of glass. The chair Cassie had previously occupied was there to catch The Seeker, but it was facing the wrong way. Life was about compromise and Neassa unwillingly made one as she flew over the back of the heavy piece of furniture and landed with her head on the seat and her legs over the top, her world upended.

It wasn't like her to forget there was a mage in her midst but this was all too much for her keep a handle on-

Wait a minute.

Neassa held up her hand in front of her face, finding the window latch still in her grasp. Fuck.

She managed an awkward backwards roll to get out of her current predicament, landing painfully on her knees. The wind and rain from outside sounded much closer than before. Neassa peeked up over the top of the chair, fearful of what she might see.

There was no longer a window. Its guts were strewn about the floor, painted shards reflecting blue light as the light caught them. She remembered Cassie, finally, after such a long period of neglect. The woman's concerns over repairs were rendered irrelevant.

Neassa stood up, leaning on the chair. ”Fixed it.” She gesticulated with the broken latch in her hand, dropping it moments after. Her voice lacked the usual stable cockiness, but the Warden had done a good job of knocking that out of her. ”S’fixed. S’fine…” she repeated gingerly, moving around the chair and retracing her steps back towards the window. Her boots crushed glass underfoot, grinding against the stonework as if to highlight how un-fixed the window was. Rain pelted her face as she neared the space where the window used to be. Neassa bit her lip in concentration, arms crossed. She stood silent for a prolonged moment before looking to Cassie. ”Can't even see the hole now.”

She had already done a pretty good job of fixing the window so far but she had an idea about how to stop the rain coming in like it was. Neassa reached for her back...for the cloak that was no longer hanging there. The memory of recent events came at her like another one of Cassie's force magic spells. “If only my rain shield wasn't in the fire, it would be perfect.” She hissed angrily at Cassie.

Her next action could be easily misconstrued. Neassa yanked a small dagger out of its scabbard on her belt. “You can't have much magic left in you…” Her words only added to the ambiguity of her actions as she seemingly approached the mage, walking around the glass on the floor. She shoulder nudged the woman just for the inconvenience of the whole situation (none of which was Neassa's fault). “You have two choices now, I put a bookcase in front of it. Or I put the shag rug over it. Which one...do...you...I can't think of a better way to say this so, which one do you want to get wet. Bookcase or rug."

She was one more mortifying situation away from asking Cassie to take her knife from her so the woman could lodge it in her heart.

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CASSIOPEIA SOPHRONIUS
 Posted: Feb 2 2018, 10:52 AM
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It was as if the silence in the aftermath of the shatter had invaded her body, rendering her as quiet. All Cassie could do was stare. At the gaping hole where the window used to be. At Neassa. At the glass on the floor, underfoot, spilled out almost across the length of the room.

Okay. Technically a mage should be able to fix this. They could repair old sections of the Deep Roads to stop darkspawn coming through, so this should be easy for someone that... wasn’t her. Lifting heavy boulders into place to block a cave entrance she could do, but reconstructing something? Beyond her. She wasn’t artistic or an architect.

Of course that meant letting someone know about this mess. And hoping they had such a mage in their ranks. They might have to piece the whole thing together first. Maker. That would take weeks. Months. They’d have to find every sliver...

Neassa drew her out of her stupor. Cassie gaped, then finally found her voice. ‘Oh, I can still see a hole. It fills the whole window frame, but it’s still a hole.’

‘Your rain...?’ Oh. Her cloak. Of course, what else would it be called in Neassa’s head? ‘I’ll give you a spare before you leave,’ Cassie offered grudgingly. Of everything Neassa had claimed to be owed to her; that was the one Cassie was willing to concede to her.

Her eyes narrowed at the drawn dagger, her stance shifting to side-on, reducing her target size. Lightning sang beneath her skin, ready to lance out. ‘And what does my mana have to do with anything?’ she asked.

Oh, Maker’s balls. Cassie sighed, shaking away the magic. ‘I’d say rug except we don’t have a way to make it stay up there. Bookcase will have to do,’ she grumbled. The books better not get damaged. ‘I don’t get what the dagger is for,’ she added, giving the implement a dubious look. It was Neassa. It had probably just been to freak her out. That or to cut the rug up, which just seemed to be adding insult to injury. A whole rug could be dried out and it would be back to normal.

Decision made, Cassie eyed up their potential rain-block. ‘My mana’s not so low that I can’t help shift that. If I can hold an ogre in place then a few pranks and spells won’t drain me dry.’ Besides, it’d be just her luck for Neassa to try moving the laden book case on her own and do her back in or pull a muscle, then spend the next few hours bitching at Cassie for it.

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NEASSA SÉVERIN
 Posted: Feb 26 2018, 11:59 PM
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50 posts
38 years
Warrior


There was nothing quite like a smashed window to sober you up faster than your brain could realise. Or so Neassa imagined, she still felt the buzz of whisky fuelling her actions but she was used to dealing with disasters. That might be why she was so quick to offer solutions while Cassie stood and stared for a good moment, commenting on the vastness of this new hole. It wasn't that bad. Historically, worse things had definitely happened. But it wasn't ideal, Neassa would admit to that.

But that was all she'd admit to.

“What? This?” She flicked the knife in the air and caught it in her other hand, by the handle. And not by stabbing her palm on it, which had happened before...these kinds of pointless displays of ability took practice. “It's for holding up the rug-” she muttered as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. Did Cassie really think it was for her? “You didn't really think...I was gonna…,” she gestured the slitting of her own throat. “With this? Pffft. I think when it happens, and it will happen, I might just strangle you with my bare hands.” Watch the life drain out of her eyes and the breath leave her body. “More intimate.” Wait, what?

What? Backtrack, quick, fix it. “I meant intimidating. I'm drunk and those words sound the same ok.”

Neassa threw herself head first into yanking up the rug off the floor, rudely flipping Cassie Killer off one corner she had curled up on. It was heavier than she had expected, or she had used up most of her strength lugging Cassie over here.

In her drunken state she seemed to be more able to recognise tone and understood that the idea of using the bookcase was causing Cassie some concern. It was unlike her to be so considerate but it was known to happen, especially when she forgot which Neassa she was supposed to be playing at any given time. By the time she remembered she had already hoisted up the rug to cover the books, protecting them from any water damage as she used her dagger to fix the rug in place. It sagged at the sides but the main bulk of the bookcase was protected.

As Cassie went on about her mana reserves Neassa waved her off. “No, no, it's fine, how heavy can it-” Neassa slammed her shoulder against the side of the thing and it didn't budge. She made a ponderous sound in her throat then tried again, this time with far more determination. The book case groaned as it slid ever so slightly over the stone floor, nowhere near the kind of progress such effort should be rewarded with. “It's fine. I've got this.” Stubbornly, Neassa persevered. She changed her approach, two hands pushing against the side and all of her weight behind it. She was practically horizontal trying to coerce the thing to move from its roots. “I've got. This. Piece. Of. Shit. Book. Case.”

She did not have this. A couple more inches of progress and she flipped, Neassa pushed back from the thing and rounded on it like she was going to engage it in hand to hand combat. “Is this nailed down or something?!” Turned out she was just taking a breather before again changing her approach and pushing her back against it.

It slid a few more inches. “This might take a while, you should...sit... down.” It may stop raining by the time she got it into position.

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CASSIOPEIA SOPHRONIUS
 Posted: Jun 5 2018, 05:03 AM
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At least the explanation for the dagger made sense. What followed really didn’t. Cassie’s eyebrows rose towards her hairline, her arms crossed as Neassa blundered. ‘Because I’d stay still long enough for you to throttle me. Intimate or not. Really.’ No, she was not going to let that slip go. If it was a slip. She was drunk. They both were. And Neassa wasn’t the most articulate of people at the best of times.

Still, it embarrassed her, so Cassie was keeping it.

She chose not to mention that the dagger would leave a groove in the book case, since Neassa was trying to help for once and no one was going to look at the top of a book case anyway. She watched in bemusement, a hand half-raised to help as Neassa laid siege to the all but immovable object, wondering how long it would take before she gave up.

Eternity, apparently.

With a sigh, Cassie pulled one of the chairs around, scooped up the cat and sat down with the grumbling cat on her lap. ‘Stand up a moment,’ she asked so that Neassa wouldn’t fall flat on her back in glass shards. She waved her free hand; the other occupied with scratching the cat’s ears to keep her quiet. With that easy motion she hauled the book case into place, only a frown of concentration showing the effort she was actually putting into it.

The noise dulled, changing quality as the rain began hitting solid wood rather than the stone floor. It would do for now.

Or... perhaps not. Running footsteps approached the door, which burst open.

Raphael. One of the other Senior Wardens, in his fifties. He came to a stop, one hand on the hilt of his sword, staring. At the shattered glass. The replaced book case. The water, whiskey and window latch on the floor. The sad remains of Neassa’s cloak in the fire. Neassa standing by the window. Cassie in the chair with a cat on her lap. A vein started to throb in his temple.

‘What. Happened. Here?’ he demanded.

The day had officially gone from terrible to worse.



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NEASSA SÉVERIN
 Posted: Jul 3 2018, 11:04 AM
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50 posts
38 years
Warrior


She was far less abrasive drunk, or maybe she wasn't, Neassa didn't know. It was hard enough for her to have much of an awareness about anything she wasn't actively concentrating on at the moment. Right now her attention was split between the bookcase and Cassie. She decided in all of a half second that she didn’t like how Cassie was looking at her, those eyebrows were much too high. Neassa made an indignant sound in her throat as Cassie repeated her blunder, edged in italic too…Neassa stared, eyes narrowing. “You don't have to stay still for it to work-” it was almost as if Cassie had never strangled anyone to death before. Few people ever did stay still, many wriggled and grabbed back if their arms weren't properly pinned. “Do you need me to show you?” Because she was quite happy to demonstrate, just as soon as she was done saving some ancient books from a bit of water.

Something was going on in her peripheral but she couldn't spare the effort to look, too focussed on moving this immovable object until she was certain she pulled something. She snapped an agitated grunt as some muscle she didn't know she had, twinged painfully. Neassa stood up off the bookcase in an instant, it just happened to coincide with the exact moment Cassie asked her to. She reached for her back but doing so only added to the discomfort. “Ah fuck!”

If she could feel such things then she clearly wasn't drunk enough. In a wave of the hand, the bookcase slid across the floor, grinding glass beneath it as it went. Neassa looked impressed, up until she remembered herself (and that it was Cassie) and fixed her expression, returning to a glower. “That's what you trained all those years for. Furniture arrangement.” She scoffed, finding herself both hilarious and cutting. Well, if she couldn't actually cut Cassie then words were all she had these days, especially when a) her dagger was in the bookcase and b) her fucking cat was defaulting on the killer part of her double barrelled name. She glared at the thing, it was a wonder Cassie still had her hand.

Another disaster successfully navigated by her wily Seeker...uh...wiles.

Or not.

Her eyes went wide as the door burst open, fixed to the man's face of horror, a dull recognition of guilt at his tone. Something told her this wasn't good. It was akin to being discovered by Cassandra fresh after accidentally burning down a small village Chantry that one time. Neassa hadn't wavered then for an excuse and she didn't waver now, offering an immediate and sufficient (as far as she was concerned) reply. “Lightning strike.” Her eyes glanced around the room, the chaos and destruction, the glass on the floor. All of it could be explained away on this one natural phenomenon. “Came right in through the window, stopped for nothing.” If she was going to sell this then Cassie would have to be fully on board too. Neassa didn’t trust her not to botch this so she made moves to ensure compliance.

It was with only minimal disgust, thanks to the whisky, that Neassa placed her hands on Cassie’s shoulders. Friendly like. Like friends and not at all like enemies. ”We’re lucky to be alive. Isn’t that right, Cassie?” She squeezed, assuming it was gentle but lacking the inhibition to truly say either way. “You caught us just as we were fixing things-”

Cassie Killer hissed at her proximity, reminding Neassa of her presence on Cassie's lap. The Seeker flinched visibly, genuinely surprised. “Anyway, you're welcome. I should really hit the road...where's my cloak,” the memory of the heat from the fire and the stink of cheap burning fabric struck her out of nowhere. Oh yeah. “Nevermind.”
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CASSIOPEIA SOPHRONIUS
 Posted: Jul 23 2018, 09:21 AM
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Cassie bit her tongue to resist the urge to drop her head into her hands. Fine, pedant for pedant. ‘Allow me to rephrase: you think I’d stay still long enough for you to grab me by the neck in the first place.’

She winced as Neassa pulled away from the bookcase, tense in the way only pain makes you. ‘I can make you an ice pack for that,’ she offered, since Neassa had done... whatever she’d done trying to be helpful. After causing most of the mess, admittedly, but she was trying.

She caught the first look, smiled, but tactfully decided not to mention it when Neassa remembered herself and glared again – just like the button-for-a-potion moment they both still pretended hadn’t happened. ‘And cave-ins. Both causing and fixing them. I’m surprisingly versatile that way.’ She petted Cassie-Killer, who was only occasionally growling now. Or maybe she just had a really angry-sounding purr.

Things had been going... not well, but better than they had been. Then Raphael had to barge in.

Shit.

Neassa truly had an answer for everything. Why that had to involve digging her talons into her shoulders, Cassie didn’t know. She was pretty sure her eye just twitched.

‘I’d like to point out that I wasn’t the cause of the lightning strike,’ she added. ‘However I did try to redirect it, with... mixed results,’ she said, waving at the carnage. ‘We’re alive, but the attempt ruined the room.’ She stroked the cat a little harder when she hissed to try and get her to stay quiet, and received teeth in her thumb for her trouble. She looked down at the cat chomping on her hand for all she was worth, lifting her arm slightly only for the cat to cling to her, up-side down and still gnawing.

She shot Neassa a sardonic look. This is what you wanted to kill me?

Raphael stared at the pair of them, baffled by the cat Cassie was firmly extricating from her flesh and unconvinced by the lie she was sure. However with them both sticking to the story and there being no solid evidence of a fight – presumably why he’d come running in, armed and ready to battle – he slowly relaxed his grip on the hilt and ran a hand through his greying hair, surveying the damage. ‘This is going to take months to fix,’ he muttered into his beard. ‘I think that would be wise,’ he added, stepping aside from the door to let Neassa pass.


Oh, damn her conscience. ‘Let me find you a replacement. I couldn’t have you travelling without one in this weather,’ she said, rising from the chair and depositing a sulking Cassie-Killer on the floor. She headed for the door, glancing over her shoulder to see if Neassa would follow. If it delayed her getting interrogated for another few minutes, she’d take it.


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