WC: 1005 | Tag: | marzia at shine & gs.
Last edited by Vandrad Ragnos on Sat 12 Dec 2020 - 5:43; edited 1 time in total
The last two days had been quite busy for the Silver Wolf ace. Vandrad had gone out of town for a week to visit his mother, leaving Mercury to her own devices, and boy was he ever going to regret that. The prince really shouldn’t have trusted Mercury as much as he was, cause it was only his second day gone and she had all but fulfilled sleeping with the rest of his family at this point. Or at least, on the du Wolff side. All she had left at this point were the twins, neither of whom were really into women, but damn if Mercury wasn’t going to at least try to make it work.
In the meantime, her night with Everance and Dudley had been unbelievable in quite a number of ways. They had really gone all out for her in a way that Mercury had never experienced before, and even Mercury didn’t really understand how special that time had been for her. They were just a lovely couple that loved to dote, whether that be on one another or on a guest, and the Xocili had a feeling that she was going to be invited back again, someday. Or perhaps that Everance would at least find more excuses to spend time with her, particularly if the older woman decided to join Silver Wolf. And then there had been Bartrand, who was always a treat. Vandrad’s younger cousin was closer to Mercury’s age than the prince himself was, and was full of life and spirit. His approach wasn’t nearly as refined as his parents’, being a bit more forward and interested in getting right into the nitty gritty of things, but that wasn’t exactly a turn off. If anything, it was endearing. The young man just liked to have a good time and to live his life to the fullest, and Mercury rather enjoyed that.
But all good things came to an end, and once things had settled up with Bartrand the Xocili elected to take her leave and head home rather than overstay her welcome. Getting back was a cinch with her new teleportation ray, and soon she was back in her room in the Phoenix Mountains with a small smile on her face, ready to get some work done. It wasn’t long into her catching up on her daily news feeds and Earthland research that her phone went off with a message. Mercury pulled it up inside her head, surprised to see it was from Gren. The man was hoping to have dinner with her that night, which of course was an idea he’d already proposed to her last time they’d seen one another, but she hadn’t expected it to come around this quickly. She wrote him back right away to let him know that she’d be more than happy to meet him there.
Immediately afterward, she sent a copy of the dinner request to Monica with a quick note of: Looks like I’ve got a hot date tonight..! At this point, there was no hiding the fact that the two women were competing to break Gren’s noble shell and get him into bed with one of them, which Monica had all but deemed impossible at that point. To Mercury, that just made the challenge all the more exciting.
It also made the rest of the day far too long. Mercury tried to work on some of her Scholar projects but was admittedly quite distracted by the night ahead and what mysteries it might hold. She knew very little about Vandrad’s father. Or at least, what she did know was all from decades ago before he’d disappeared or died or whatever the hell had happened. Mercury was still a little unsure on that one, a little unwilling to believe that he’d come back from the dead which was scientifically impossible. But, perhaps she’d get more answers on that tonight. Either way, thoughts of the night ahead kept her more than a little distracted from her chores and responsibilities until she finally decided fuck it and just focused on preparing for her apparent dinner date.
Like Gren, Mercury had arrived a fair bit early. It was just a habit, one that she’d developed a long time ago to give herself the edge in meeting and observing people to get a read on them before they could get one on her. For once, however, her target of interest had arrived before she did, which in this case was more impressive and tantalizing than anything else. Since Mercury didn’t give off any kind of magical signature and was more than adept at hiding in plain sight, she was able to observe him for a few minutes from across the street without him noticing her, far enough away that she would be nearly impossible to pick out with the naked eye. Her own mechanical eyes, however, allowed her to zoom in on him and watch clearly as he got a small table in a corner for them. He ordered a drink and then, after looking around and taking in the restaurant a bit more, also ordered himself a cigar. He looked downright dapper. If Mercury had thought him attractive in his uniform with the Order, he was an absolute unit of sexuality now, to the point where Mercury took a still frame from her recordings and sent it to Monica just to further toy with the woman.
She only lingered and observed him for a few minutes, giving him enough time to get a parge or two into the book he’d pulled out, before casually making her way over. Mercury had been a little worried about her own choice of outfit before. Not in the sense that she felt it wouldn’t look good on her, because she knew it looked fantastic. Merely because she wasn’t sure if she was over dressing and perhaps looking like she was trying too hard. Clearly, by the look of his own suit and his choice of a classy smoking establishment, that had not been the case. As such, she felt exceptionally confident as she strolled in the door and stopped briefly in the doorway to take the joint in.
She was dressed in sleeveless black satin dress that hugged her body like crazy and was short enough to stop a few inches above her knees. It was a dress that was both sexy and classy, just modest enough to not be a slutty club dress but also provocative enough to be more than a little alluring. The chest of the dress was a dramatic V shape that plunged fully past the valley of her breasts, but the scandalous space was covered by a sheer black silk that made the view more of a tease than a cry for attention. The translucent fabric rose up to her neck where a silk black collar had been built into the garment’s design, complete with some black lace and a single, ruby drop that hung from it. Mercury kept her jewelry simple, with a gold band around one bicep and matching, delicate gold dangle earrings. To add a bit of that wow factor, she’d grown her hair out until it reached all the way down to the top of her ass, a far cry longer than it had been when he’d seen her only a week or so ago. She left it down and had curled a slight wave to it to give it some body, and put on just a touch of makeup to heighten her natural features.
Mercury made her way over to his table, a soft smirk on her face that was equal parts impish and sincerely pleased. “Well, now… Big Daddy cleans up quite well.” The Silver Wolf mage shamelessly gave him a slow once over with her emerald gaze, unafraid to check him out when she’d already done so a number of times already during their last meeting. She certainly wasn’t going to stop flirting with him just because Vandrad wasn’t here to embarass. If anything, she’d be much more open about such thoughts now that things weren’t actively going to shit around them and Gren was looking like a right fucking snack. It was no wonder Themesycia had let this man put a baby in her.
“It’s good to see you again, Mr. Ragnos. You seem to have healed up nicely, though I feel like that’s turning out to be more to my benefit than yours.” Her smirk deepened just a hair.
Well, there was no mistaking that her look had an effect on the man. His vitals spiked just the tiniest bit upon seeing her, and he was having about as difficult a time taking his eyes off of her as she was of him. Mercury complimented how well he’d cleaned himself up and he returned the sentiment, taking her hand and kissing it on the back, similarly to how Dudley had done. Though truth be told, as attractive as Dudley was, he was definitely second to the distinguished hunk before her. “Thank you,” was all she told him in reply, classily accepting the praise without deflecting it nor building upon it to fluff herself up. She took the seat when he offered it to her, allowing him to be the gentleman he clearly was before he joined her in sitting back down.
As she hung her small clutch from the back of her chair, he commented on not being quite as on the up and up as she was when it came to nicknames, though he hoped to come up with one for her eventually. “I’m sure if the two of us put our heads together we could come up with something suitable. I can certainly think of a few things I wouldn’t mind hearing you call me.” Mercury winked at him, continuing to be a relentless flirt without necessarily being too over the top or crass about it.
When she commented on how well he looked to have healed, Gren showed off a couple bandages on one of his hands. He claimed everything from the night with Faera was gone more or less, but he’d already accrued new damages from more recent jobs. “Ain’t that the truth,” she lamented, chuckling along with him. The former Rune Knight insisted then that she call him Gren, or Big Daddy if she really wished, rather than the formal moniker. Something casual was better to his style, though she apparently had him rethinking that. “You certainly take to the nicknames much faster than your shorter, grumpier son, and I am all too pleased with that. Alright then, Gren and Big Daddy it is… and you definitely should dress up more often. I’m a fan. If ever you need an excuse, you just reach out to me again and I will happily give you one.”
Gren remarked how he knew it hadn’t been very long since they’d last seen one another, but it seemed he hadn’t wanted to wait any longer than was reasonable to rest and recuperate from the battle at the graveyard. “Trust me, I more than understand. That was a… delicate and charged situation, even for me when I wasn’t really directly involved with any of it,” Mercury assured him, her playful demeanor dropping briefly to address the topic with a bit more tact and sobriety, if only for his sake. “Time to regenerate was for the best. I’m pretty sure I slept for three days straight. And for once, Vandrad let me sleep in instead of bossing me out of bed to beat me to a pulp in the mornings, so I just take that as a win.” She shot him a small, cheshire grin.
With a drag on the cigar, he expressed his hope that the smoking wouldn’t bother her. He admitted it had been two decades since he’d been able to have a smoke and he’d forgotten how much he liked it. “Oh, it’s not a bother at all. I’m known to indulge a cigarette from time to time. Can’t say I’ve ever tried a cigar, though. Maybe I’ll get one. Any recommendations?” She was looking around for a menu or something to see what the selection was, both for cigars and drinks, when the waiter returned. His vitals were all over the fucking place, the younger man having a much harder time controlling his physical reaction to Mercury than Gren was. The Silver Wolf mage kept her amusement over that fact hidden behind a perfect mask of obliviousness, but she did give the man an attentive smile when he asked her what she wanted to drink. “Whatever stout you have on tap would be perfect, thank you.” She’d also order herself a cigar based on whatever Gren and the waiter recommended for a first time cigar smoker.
After the waiter left, they were by themselves once more. Gren thanked her for coming with so little warning. He expressed his wish to get to know more about her, posing a couple generic questions. “Well, luckily for you, Vandrad left me to my own devices this week so I actually have plenty of free time. In fact, I can say that I’ve already gotten into quite a bit of trouble and it’s only his second day gone. Someday he’ll learn better than to leave me unsupervised.” Another cheeky grin lit up her face briefly before settling back down to her typical state of moderate playfulness. “But I’m doing fairly well, all things considered. There’s always lots of work to do between my Silver Wolf duties and my day job, but I like to keep myself busy. How about you? Clearly your employers wasted no time in giving you more fun.” She nodded to his bandaged hand. Leaning forward to engage him more keenly, she rested her arms on the table and gave him her rapt attention and interest. “How have you been adjusting to the whole suddenly-having-a-second-fully-grown-son thing? Bet that was a bit of a spin for you.”
Gren was so much more flirty than his son, and Mercury loved every bit of it. He didn’t hesitate to pick up on her not so subtle insinuations and reciprocate them just as playfully. The older man insisted that the formality made him feel like his father, which he wasn’t keen on, and that if they were to be friends then it would only do to be more familiar with one another. He also stated that he didn’t really have a reason to dress up for things, but stated rather plainly that he’d consider making opportunities to see her dressed up more often. “Well now, that’s a shame,” Mercury replied smoothly when he expressed that men like him typically didn’t get dinners with women as attractive as she was. “See, I think men like you deserve some pretty little arm candy just as much as any other man, if not more. I’m honestly shocked you don’t have women crawling all over you -- or have you not noticed the ladies to my five, seven, and eight that can’t seem to keep their eyes on their own dates?”
Oh, how her eyes twinkled with mirth and mischief. She had rather easily picked up on the three women in the room whose gazes kept darting toward the older man, her vitals and heat signatures trembling even as she caught their glances through the reflection on the window behind Gren. There was no doubt in Mercury’s mind that any one of those ladies would highly consider an opportunity to swap places with her just then, despite their own dates being rather good looking themselves.
Mercury expressed her pleasure over how Vandrad had elected to let her sleep in for a few days rather than demand she be up at cursed awful hours to work out. Gren laughed outright, admitting his pride in having a son that enjoys working out as much as he does. Apparently, Mythal had never been much for it, which meant Gren had nearly always done his exercises alone. That hadn’t changed after joining the Order, who was more concerned with magical strength rather than physical strength. Mercury shook her head a little, a wordless testament to how silly she thought that stance was. Why focus on one skill over the other? Why not hone both equally? Reliance on one over the other was sure to be a downfall. Sure, Mercury preferred to fight with her weapon -- it required less energy. But, she’d still honed and perfected her martial skills. Not that she’d had much choice, but over time she’d managed to overlook the fact that the training had been forced upon her to see the benefit that she could gain from it.
Either way, Gren was glad Vandrad had given Mercury some reprieve. It was a courtesy that Gren had failed to give himself, having already been up and moving the next day. Mercury chuckled, shaking her head lightly again. “Now, there’s something the two of you certainly have in common. You boys need to learn how to relax and take it easy for more than a few hours at a time. It will do you some good, I promise. But yes, Vandrad is more or less obsessed with training. It’s the only thing he cares about. I swear, everything comes back to whether or not it challenges him or pushes him beyond whatever limits he currently believes he has. It’s admirable, but also exhausting at times. I like to thing I’ve loosened the stick up his ass a little, but he’d never admit it.”
At her curiosity over cigars, he turned his around and offered it to her to try, stating that it was something on the sweeter side. That was, of course, provided that she wasn’t remiss to trying something he’d had his mouth on. She shot him a coy smirk. “Oh, no. Putting something your mouth has been on anywhere near my own mouth. However will I cope?” Mercury accepted the offer, taking the cigar from him gently and bringing it to her own lips. She took a meticulous drag as he explained some of the finer knowledge about cigars, breathing the smoke into her mouth and letting it percolate for a moment to get its taste before blowing it gently to the side, away from his face. The Xocili was actually surprised by the difference in taste between it and her cigarettes, giving the stick a look over. “That’s pretty damn good…”
The lavender haired woman offered it back to him in the same manner he’d done, pointing the burnt end toward herself rather than at him. The two looked over the menu together, with Gren helping her understand a bit of what to expect from the various types and how they’d differ from the one she’d just tried until eventually she picked one that sounded interesting to her. After that, she brought up some vague details about what she’d been up to while Vandrad was gone, which earned her a grin from the older man who inquired as to the nature of the trouble she’d been partaking in. Mercury rewarded him with a sly, impish smirk. “Oh, you know… a little of this, a little of that,” she told him, neither confirming nor denying whether or not she’d been sleeping around in Vandrad’s absence, though it was pretty clear she had spent at least a little of her time doing just that.
But that was all she gave before flipping the attention back on him. Gren explained that the Order had given him quite a bit of independence now, given that the only reason he’d had to stay silent before was to protect himself and his loved ones from Faera and her minions. But, now that the goddess was already aware of what had happened to him, there was no need to hide. That, and apparently the Order felt pretty strongly that Mythal and Serilda could handle themselves more than adequately should Faera attempt to pull another fast one on them. Mercury chuckled lightly, genuinely amused but also still not entirely sure how she felt about all that. Her recent spiritual awakening had been a bit shocking to say the least, and a large part of her was still trying to wrap her mind around it, and was still more than a little intimidated by Serilda after her outburst.
Like her, Gren liked to keep busy, so he’d still elected to do some extra work for them despite the fact that it wasn’t always the cleanest work. Mercury thanked the waiter when he returned with their drinks and the extra cigars, taking a moment to light Mercury’s for her. She took a drag from it and savored the taste much as she had with Gren’s. Considering this one had been put together with more notes of coffee taste in them, it was no surprise to her at all that she greatly liked it, and she expressed as much with a gentle hum of appreciation.
Gren told her that he was taking to being a father of two about as well as he could be. Supposedly, he’d already gone back to confront Themesycia, which seemed to have been a positive and nostalgic experience despite everything. More than anything, he was just glad that Vandrad seemed to be a good person, expressing his appreciation over how much effort the prince had put into cementing the bond between himself and his adoptive brother. Mercury nodded, taking another drag from her cigar before offering it wordlessly to him to try if he wished. “He never said as much, but he was hella nervous the night we finally went to go meet them. If he ever felt any resentment toward Mythal for growing up with you when he did it, I’ve never seen him express it. I think he was just happy for anything he could get that would give him answers. And luckily, Mythal was willing to give him what he could and didn’t hesitate to accept him without scrutiny. Vandrad’s a bit surly and rough around the edges, but he’s pretty easy to please once you figure out that he appreciates a straight shooter.”
At the thought of dinner, Mercury’s eyes lit up a little as though she’d already completely forgotten about food. “That’s a good question,” she said, pulling the menu back up and taking a look. “I’m not too picky, though I gotta admit I’m a girl that likes my meat. Take that how you will.” At this point, the innuendos came so naturally to her that the statement sort of just rippled off her tongue without really stopping to think about it or even to shoot him any kind of seductive look. “I could go for some chicken, or maybe a half rack of ribs. Ribs are a bit messy so I don’t get them often, but I’m a sucker for some juicy pork falling right off the bone… What about you, handsome? Anything sticking out at ya?”
Mercury had, of course, noticed the men that had been looking at her, too, but there hadn’t really been a reason to point it out without coming across as conceited. Still, she took note of the way that he easily rolled with her observation and added to it with his own, just as easily picking up on the cues around the room as she had. Her smirk deepened a hair with delight. It was always exciting to find someone that could match wits with her. Vandrad certainly could do so to a point, and he was good enough at it to keep her entertained as a part of him saw her sharp tongue as a challenge in and of itself, but he still had his lines and games that he refused to play. Gren, it seemed, was willing and almost eager to meet her on equal footing, and Mercury couldn’t help but be exhilarated by that.
The older man chuckled at her opinion that Vandrad -- and others like him -- needed to take more time to stop and smell the roses. He implied rather openly that they should be asking her to show them how to do so, though he failed to see how such relaxations could last for more than a few hours. She grinned, giving him a subtle but saucy look. “You’d be quite surprised, actually. Some activities can last much longer than a mere few hours. Some last all day… or all night. But if you’re interested in some tutoring, well, far be it from me to be so selfish as to deny you some further education.” It truly was a wonder that Monica hadn’t managed to get Gren into bed with her yet. He was clearly quite flirty and unafraid to openly express his interest. Then again, she had not really seen how he acted around Monica. It was entirely possible that he simply wasn’t interested in the tattooed woman, though that was a stretch. Mercury couldn’t possibly see how anyone wouldn’t find Monica attractive for one, and for two she had noted that Monica and Themesycia were very similar women, both physically and in personality. Then again, perhaps that in itself was the reason. Maybe Monica reminded him too much of his long lost flame.
Either way, he was here with Mercury now and clearly more than willing to tease her in all the right ways, and the Xocili wasn’t about to argue with it. Maybe if she played her cards right, she’d manage to beat the challenge and get her new best friend jealous. Mercury returned his toast with a gentle clink. “It is my absolute pleasure, Gren. I’ll do my best to add to the fun without getting you in trouble. Maybe. I suppose I can’t make any promises.” She winked at him before taking a drink of the ale.
The Silver Wolf mage explained a bit about how the meeting with Mythal and Serilda had gone down, it not in too much detail. After all, she could only assume that the affianced Rune Knights had already given him most of the details long ago, thus the only thing that really was left unsaid was likely stuff from Vandrad’s own perspective. While Gren seemed genuinely interested in knowing more about her as well, she imagined that a great deal of his interest laid more in Vandrad and her connection to the prince rather than necessarily Mercury herself. The Xocili knew where the lines were, of course, and the kind of things that Vandrad wouldn’t appreciate her talking about, but for the moment they were nowhere near that territory of conversation, and if they got that far she would find a subtle way to deflect as she always did.
Gren admitted that Vandrad got the straight shooting trait from both him and Themesycia, the latter being more entertained by games than the former but still only having so much patience for them. “I’m sure she simply enjoys the parts of it that are more a battle of wits than anything else, but I can’t say I envy her position, nor that of the Rune Knights. Having to deal with all that red tape and political dancing sounds like a chore to me, personally. I think I’d go mad being cooped up with all that expectation and regulation. Sounds… restricting.” Mercury was a woman who liked her freedom. Or at least, what little of it she had. Why anyone would want all that responsibility weighing them down was beyond her, but more power to them, she supposed.
The topic moved along to dinner. Unsurprisingly, Gren was also a man that appreciated a plate full of meat. The two of them perused the menu a bit before Gren opted to settle on a ribeye steak that he’d heard was quite good. Apparently, he’d never eaten here before so he was looking forward to seeing how well it lived up to the reputation. “You’re never too old to do a bit of experimenting,” she agreed, the insinuation in her words as subtle as a knife’s edge but still sharp enough to catch the playful suggestion. The waiter came back and took their orders, with Mercury electing to go with the ribs as she’d been toying with. The man took the menus and left to get their order placed, leaving the two alone once more.
Gren took the opportunity to open up with a rather common question, seeking a bit more about her background and where she came from. It was hardly an invasive question, and was one that she was more than accustomed to dodging. He guessed that she was from Bellum somewhere, given how similar she and Themesycia he believed her to be, earning a small chuckle of delight from the lavender haired women who certainly took it as a compliment. He assured her that he hadn’t gone looking for any information on her on his own, not wanting to be invasive or disrespectful, particularly when it would be more fun and meaningful to see what he could dredge out of her personally. “You wouldn’t have found much of anything on me, anyway,” she told him with an innocent smile, tapping the ashes off the end of her cigar into the small glass tray that had been left for such purposes. “My connection to Silver Wolf, perhaps, and my role with Dagger Corp as the manager of their I.T. department. But as much as I would have loved the opportunity to meet Themmy much sooner, I’m not from Bellum. I’m actually not even from Ishgar -- I was raised far away from this continent, and have only been in the area for about a year or so, so there wouldn’t be much out there for you to uncover.”
It was an earnest truth, if one that was masterfully veiled to make her appear more as an Earthland native from a different continent rather than from a different planet entirely. Ishgar knew its own countries and those of its neighboring continents quite well, but it wasn’t a far stretch for most people to assume that there were places so far away on Earthland that not even Fiore had heard of them. Content to leave it at that, as that was usually enough to satisfy most people, she leaned forward once more to engage him with more charmed interest. “What about you? Obviously I know you spent the majority of your life in FIore and were a rather prestigious officer with the Rune Knights for a while, but what about before that? Are you from Fiore originally, or did you migrate here from elsewhere?”
“Oh trust me, I will happily push the envelope as far as you’re willing to let me.”
There wasn’t so much as even a thin veil behind the statement, and while Mercury certainly had never been shy up until this point it was easily the most direct she’d been so far. She wasn’t one to push for too much with someone who clearly wasn’t interested, but that was not the reading she was getting from Gren. In fact, the Xocili would wager that Gren was actually very interested, he just hid it well. Or at least, seemed to have a great deal of discipline and restraint. But just because he was interested didn’t mean that he was willing to let the flirtations come to any sort of fruition, and she had yet to get a read on exactly how far he may or may not be interested in taking their playful mannerisms. Essentially, this was his invitation to give her an indication one way or another as to what kind of an influence he was willing to let her be with him.
She expressed her distaste of the idea of being shackled to responsibility, which earned a laugh from the older man. Gren told her there was a lot more to it than that, and that there were actually a great number of rulers that didn’t even do most of the work themselves, but rather relied on advisors, which sounded cheap to Mercury. All that power and influence and people simply sat back and let others do the hard work for them? That about entitlement. Thankfully, Themesycia wasn’t one of those types, and both of them knew it. The Ashen Dread quite enjoyed being an odd ball that no one in the Bellum court could quite figure out what to expect of her, and she was genuinely interested in politics if only to try and make them better. It was a fair assessment, and one that Mercury agreed with. After all, she’d seen herself the wavelength that the duchess operated off of and it was a far cry different from what Mercury had grown up with and come to expect from people in a position of power.
Her quip about experimenting was returned with a quip of his own, the older man casting a somewhat naughty smirk her way. Mercury merely grinned at him, allowing the moment to pass for now. While she was certainly tempted to take the bait, Mercury had already been more than clear about what she was interested in, and as flirty as she was, it wasn’t in her nature to act with so much thirst as to appear desperate. Desperation was hardly attractive, even if she definitely was quite thirsty for him.
Gren appeared to take the bait, happily accepting her vague answer without pressing for more details and instead allowing himself to be the center of attention again. He claimed to have grown up on the streets with his brother and parents, moving from home to home in perpetually underwhelming environments. At some point he’d managed to make life a little better for himself by rising above his station and becoming a Rune Knight, and that was all it took for him to decide he was content to settle in Fiore, with only the odd temptation to make him reconsider.
She didn’t even get the chance to ask any follow up questions before he was already moving along to more queries of his own. Gren asked her what about Fiore had drawn her there, speculating between such possibilities as the tourist traps and Dagger Corp, given her work for them. Apparently, he was rather captivated by a woman that didn’t blanche at a little hands on work. Mercury chuckled. “Well, if you like that sort of thing in a woman so much, then maybe I’ll have to show you a few of my toys.” She winked playfully before carrying on in a more serious manner. “I do love my work. I have a penchant for the scientific arts, if you will, particularly engineering and computer technology. I’m actually in charge of the Scholar branch at Silver Wolf. We’re the ones that get to have all the fun playing with mysteriously gadgets and deciphering ancient tomes, that kind of thing. Not sure how much you know about Silver Wolf, but it’s a very research focused guild. I’ve got probably a dozen or so projects at any given time, which is how I like it.”
“That’s actually how I wound up with Dagger Corp, too. It was a good opportunity to get the best of both worlds in leading scientific and magical research and development, at least around these parts. The tech in this corner of the world is admittedly a bit behind where I come from, but it’s still worthwhile and educational. As far as what drew me to Fiore, specifically…” She shrugged. “Can’t say there was any concrete reason outside of it being the hub of everything in this area. There’s a lot to be learned here, and for now I am content to linger and soak in the academic opportunities Fiore and Ishgar provide, but eventually I will move on and see what else is out there.”
There was a bit more detail in this answer than the one before it, but yet again most of the information had to do with current events and glossing over parts from her past that might have played a more specific role in her coming to Fiore. Mercury was a master at giving just enough information to make people feel like they had been given a sufficient answer without actually giving them any true tidbits of value when it came to her personal life, or more specifically her history and origins. It was also clear that, while she certainly had a lot going for her in Ishgar, she didn’t plan on staying forever and would eventually move on to other things, despite the relationships and connections she had built in Fiore and its surrounding countries.
The food arrived, each of them having their plates set before them and looking quite delicious. Her emerald gaze set on the rack of ribs before her with interest and she gently shook out her napkin, setting it across her lap so as to keep any droplets of food or sauce from staining her dress. Picking up her fork and knife, she carefully cut the ribs into the individual bones, the meat practically flaking like a freshly buttered pastry beneath her knife. “So you have a brother, then. Is he as delightful and handsome as you are? Because I may need to pay him a visit. Does he know you’re still alive? Actually, come to think of it, I’ve been meaning to ask… if it’s not too personal… how exactly did Mythal and Seri find out you were still alive? We suspected they weren’t being upfront with us about your status when we first met them, but they played it off quite well. It just seems like you put so much effort into staying off the radar, even from them, so I’m curious how they managed to figure it out. Again, if that’s not too sensitive a topic. I admit to being an exceptionally nosy individual, so feel free to tell me to shove off if I get too intrusive.”
Well, that was about as much of a green light as anyone could hope for. Mercury could already feel Monica steaming with jealousy, and the woman wasn’t even aware of the conversation yet. The Xocili didn’t say anything, but it was clear from the way that she reciprocated his smile that she fully intended on taking him up on the open challenge. He even seemed a bit excited about the prospect of her toys, but then again who wasn’t excited by the idea of a few toys?
He admitted to hearing about Silver Wolf but not really knowing much about them. He’d never had a reason to look them up before meeting one of their members, which appeared to be herself if the look he gave her was any indication. He was silent and rapt through her somewhat long winded answer that had been perfectly crafted to feel length enough to be an answer without really giving him much of substance. Then, she used his own method of attack back on him, asking a few more questions before he could get the chance to offer up any follow up queries.
Gren insisted that he was an open book and that she could read him as she liked, which earned him another pointed smirk from the younger woman, shot over the meaty rib that was currently lifted to her lips. From there, he admitted that Vandrad’s adopted sibling and his fiance discovered the truth about Gren’s status when the older man had taken it upon himself to meet Serilda in person, though it seemed the meeting wasn’t exactly an open one. He had been keeping an eye on Mythal for some time and noticed that he had been spending time with the noble. Given what he knew about Faera, Gren apparently hadn’t been able to keep himself from scouting Serilda out to make sure that she wasn’t an agent of the goddess trying to manipulate his son. The truth had turned out to be quite the opposite, with Serilda not having any affiliation with the goddess at all and having a genuine care for the man. It had apparently been enough for Gren to lay a clue as to who he was, which had then started a series of events that eventually earned him the blessing of the Order to finally approach them openly.
Not that Mercury knew Serilda all that well, but she could imagine that the voidwalker had been none too pleased by Gren’s somewhat manipulative approach. The Xocili didn’t have to wonder about that for long, as Gren openly admitted the situation had been rather tense thanks to his lies and secrets, which he hadn’t been a fan of despite their necessity. But despite that, Mythal and Serilda seemed to have respected his need to keep his return a secret and elected to honor it, even when it came to another surprise son of Gren’s coming out of the woodwork. Gren seemed to think all the sneaking around hadn’t really done much good, and Mercury shrugged. “Better safe than sorry. Besides, it seems to have worked out. Mythal is no longer connected to her and everyone survived, despite the odds. Sure, you guys didn’t manage to kill her, but it sounds like you would have if things on our end had taken only a second or two longer. Either way, I’d still call that a win. Can’t say I’d be too comfortable risking having Seri mad at me, in any case. You’re much braver than I am for approaching her like that.”
Mercury played it off as a joke, but there was just enough truth to ring soundly in a pair of attentive ears, which was certainly true of Gren. While Vandrad appeared to have been the only one who noticed it at the time, Mercury had been shaken to her core by Serilda’s display of power and temper, and while she was certainly more than willing to still spend time with the woman and treat her more or less the same, the Xocili was genuinely scared of her. In fact, a lot of her recent research had gone into not just Serilda as a whole, but also the allies she boasted among the Prime Sins and the Seals. What she’d found hadn’t given Mercury much hope in being able to defend herself should the need ever arise.
Chewing gently on her rib, she listened as Gren went on to talk a bit about his brother, who was apparently much more boisterous than Gren was. Mercury perked up immediately, about as excited as Gren openly expected her to be. Cael, as he called him, was the more charming one between the two of them, which said a lot as far as Mercury was concerned. As of now, he lived in Minstrel with his son, who was grown, and apparently both of them still assumed Gren was dead. Apparently, neither of them had talked to the other in some time even before he had died. Again with the death thing. Mercury’s brows furrowed slightly in confusion before she was distracted by him pulling out his iLac and showing her a recent picture of his brother and the man’s son, Han, at the opening of a dance club Cael apparently owned.
Mercury’s eyes lit up like stars as she wiped the sauce off her fingers with her napkin and took the device. “He owns a dance club?” she asked in wonder. The Xocili took in the photo and the article, snapping mental images of them in her head and tucking it away to do some more research later. Both of them were unsurprisingly attractive, a trait that seemed to run on both sides of Vandrad’s family. “Well, I may have to pay a visit to Minstrel during my Vandrad-free vacation. For reasons.” Smirking at him, Mercury handed the phone back and returned to her ribs.
The question was then posed to her about any family she might have, wondering if there was anyone out there that she felt any homesickness for. Specifically, anyone that might take offense to him getting too handsy with her. Mercury chuckled merrily, covering her mouth with a hand as she tried to finish chewing her current bite so as not to be rude about flashing him a mouthful of half eaten food. “Now see, I just think that would be half the fun. Think of how daring and risque that kind of risk could be,” she teased, giving him a grin. “But no, you are free to be as handsy as you wish, handsome. There’s no one waiting for me back home, and no one here that would try to stop you. Vandrad would probably grumble a bit, but that would be more out of exasperation than anything else. He is not at all like the rest of his family when it comes to sex, and I’m pretty sure it was the worst day of his life when I crashed one of his engagement parties and Themmy invited me to stay. Poor thing. He tried so hard to get rid of me after we first met, but I think he’s finally resigned himself to just accepting that I’m gonna be around, whether he likes it or not.”
Her impish grin deepened, clearly quite pleased with herself and her ability to keep Vandrad spinning. It was also one more piece of evidence that her and Vandrad’s relationship wasn’t quite what everyone seemed to assume it was, though in truth Mercury hadn’t meant her words to be an indicator of that. She simply took a lot of pride in being the prince’s personal pest that he audibly expressed his annoyance with, yet never seemed to want to get rid of. It was worth noting that, once again, she had managed to answer the question about her own family without actually giving him any concrete information. The only thing that could be reasonably taken away from her words was that she didn’t have any attachments back home, but it was entirely up in the air as to how she had wound up in that state. Instead, Mercury had found a way to make Vandrad and her relationship with him the bigger focal point.
Setting a now bare rib down on her plate, she wiped her fingers off on a napkin and picked up her fork to work at some of the vegetable that accompanied her meal. “I actually do have another question, if you’ll indulge me. It’s been bugging me for a while. In fact, I actually thought I had heard things wrong back at the Order when everything was going crazy, but what you said a moment ago... “ Mercury looked at him, her eyes frowning with confusion. “You… actually died? I didn’t mishear that? It wasn’t just a ruse this whole time? I don’t mean to sound skeptical, I just… I don’t see how that’s possible when you’re sitting right here, eating with me and making me wish I had been scandalous enough to not wear underwear tonight.”
Apparently, Gren’s brother actually owned a series of night clubs, and the one in the picture was merely the most recent. Though Cael had taken a different path than Gren, he had managed to make just as much of a name for himself. She teasingly expressed an interest in going to visit the man to get better acquainted with him and to check out his business establishments, and Gren gave his blessing so long as Mercury didn’t reveal anything about Gren’s resurgence, as that was his own responsibility. He did warn her to be careful though, as Cael apparently had a knack for talking women out of their pants in no time flat even back as a teenager. “It’s certainly not a problem, though I admit most days I prefer to be more of a challenge than anything else. But, I’m not against the idea of having my pants charmed off. If I decide to take a trip, though, I promise not to say anything that’s not my business to share. Most likely I’d wait until after you had the chance to see him first, anyway.”
As he could probably surmise already, Mercury was almost insufferably good with keeping secrets and withholding information. But truthfully, the situation would probably be much simpler if Cael had already reunited with his brother, not only because that would keep Mercury from having to deceive him in any form, but also because it would give her a reliable opening to catch the man’s interest and hopefully keep her company long enough to have some fun, whether sexually or not.
She opened up a little bit on how things worked between herself and Vandrad, if only to brush off the question regarding her family. Gren was rather amused at the notion that Mercury had made herself a rather stubborn force in Vandrad’s life, which earned him a cheeky grin. But the light hearted conversation only lasted so long as Mercury finally asked the question that had been burning in her head for quite some time, now. She knew it was a heavy question, one that probably wouldn’t have the most easy of answers, but unfortunately she simply couldn’t keep herself from asking it. For a woman whose whole world revolved around science and the inherent laws of nature and physics, the idea that someone could return from the dead simply didn’t add up. To her credit, Mercury did try to keep the conversation light, adding a little bit of humor and scandalous flirtation at the end in an attempt to keep the edge off, for what it was worth.
And Gren seemed to appreciate that, smirking and assuring her that there was still plenty of time for her to take her panties off if she wanted, which he wouldn’t complain about. She shot him a mischievous grin, but otherwise said nothing… though her mind was certainly churning on the subject with a devious little idea.
But first, came the answer to his question. He assured her that he really had died, causing Mercury to momentarily forget about her food. Her brows furrowed further with interest and she leaned forward, shifting a bit to make herself more comfortable in her seat as she gave him her full attention, her hands crossed gently on top of the table. He explained that when Mythal was a teenager, Faera had attempted to gain control of him and had been at least partially successful. During that time, she’d managed to set the house on fire, and unfortunately he hadn’t made it out in time. He’d woke up in Kingdom Darkness, where the goddess had managed to trap him as retribution for Gren’s interference in getting Mythal as an infant. For years she’d held the man hostage, dealing him all manner of abuse to make herself feel better, and Gren had accepted that that was simply going to be his existence for the eternity of his after life.
However, it appeared that there was a loophole that could be exploited. Supposedly, the Order had known a bit more about Faera’s kingdom and how it worked than even the goddess did, or at least in one specific department. Gren’s spirit, while trapped, was not cemented to the place. All it had taken was having someone who was willing to switch places with him, which sounded like a raw deal to Mercury but apparently someone had insisted. Plus, it wasn’t like Gren had gotten any say in the matter, given that he hadn’t learned about any of it until after it had already happened. The knowledge still haunted him, it seemed, as he poked at his food and openly admitted how much it bothered him to know that someone was in there serving his own sentence. The man had apparently been sick with an incurable illness and wanted his dying act to be something that made a good impact on the rest of the world. It was a choice that Chishan hadn’t been very fond of, though apparently his wife was more inclined to be okay with such decisions, which didn’t surprise Mercury in the slightest. Zifu had painted a bit of a target on her back with the Xocili. Perhaps not as big of one as others in the past, but it was still there.
Mercury had been fully enraptured in his story, her expression even and unreadable, even during the parts where he’d admitted about being tortured. While most other people might have winced or gasped or shown some kind of emotion, Mercury had no such inclinations. She knew all too well what that kind of life was like, and there was no amount of pity or compassion from other people that would do anything to fix or even lessen that kind of pain. That, and she had simply been subject to so much abuse and trauma in her own life that hearing about other’s experiences with similar things simply didn’t affect her like it would someone who hadn’t been desensitized to it already. So, she made no comments, no interruptions, gave him no pitious or sorrowful glances -- merely listened in astute, respectful silence as he opened up about the deeper trauma of his death and subsequent rebirth.
Which was quickly followed up with a return to her prior flirtation, as he rounded everything up by summizing that, while he had died, it hadn’t quite been in the same fashion that most did, which thus allowed him the chance to be back in the world of the living, wondering what color her underwear was. Mercury had actually been so focused on his tale that for once she wasn’t quite ready when he came back at her with the teasing. She blinked for a moment as if caught off guard before a small laugh sprang from her lips. “Well, I’m nothing if not thoughtful. Who knows? Play your cards right and maybe you'll get to see them yourself.”
Mercury gave him a sly smirk, but it lasted only a moment before she clearly became wrapped up once more in thought over all he had said to her. “I’m going to be honest, I still don’t think I fully understand, but… I’m not sure there’s really anything that can be done about that. See, in my culture we don’t have anything like gods or demons. It’s actually one of the bigger things I’ve been struggling to understand since coming to Ishgar, because there just is no equivalent to it where I was raised. It was, and in some ways still is, a completely foreign concept to me, all the worship and spirituality, different realms that seem to exist like… outside this one, but not in the sense that they’re simply in another content or something. Science is the only thing we really had, so the existential has been a bit rough for me to grasp.”
She shrugged. This was a matter she saw no harm in speaking about, as there were a great deal of countries and people on Earthland that believed all manner of different things, so it wasn’t so far-fetched to suggest that she simply hadn’t been raised to believe in or really understand the supernatural. The only thing she could safely conclude was that magic had been involved in some fashion, but even that sounded ludicrous. There was nothing more permanent than death, and the thought that there were forced out there that could cheat it both fascinated and intimidated her.
What was more, Mercury wasn’t entirely sure what to say to him after all that. If he was anything like Vandrad, he probably didn’t expect her to say anything at all, but even to a woman that made it a point not to bond too much with anyone around her, even she couldn’t help but feel the need to respect him with some kind of reaction. Particularly when he had just opened up about something deeply personal, despite how much she’d been deflecting his own questions about her this entire time. “I can’t imagine the strength it would take to do what that man did, particularly for a stranger. They must have thought you were pretty important to go to such lengths to save you. I admit, I probably would be pretty torn up about it in your shoes. That kind of compassion is… well, I’m sure it’s not very easy to accept or make peace with. I had a hard enough time with Themmy tossing clothing and a house at me, so someone offering their own life up for mine would be a difficult pill to swallow. I’d probably never understand it, even if I spent my whole life analyzing it.”
There was no but to her ruminations. Mercury wasn’t about to try to make him find some kind of peace with the man’s choice, or to try to put him at ease over his struggle with it. In a way, trying to do so would be almost insulting to the man’s act, like it would cheapen his sacrifice. Making any kind of suggestion along those lines in an attempt to cheer him up or lessen the deep impact it had on Gren would have not only been insensitive, it would have been downright rude. So, she wasn’t about to even think about going there. But, she could at least empathize with him on some level, and validate his internal conflict by reassuring him that it wasn’t a simple issue to live with, nor should it be. It certainly wasn’t fair to the man who had given his life in place of Gren’s. Mercury had never known that kind of compassion, and as far as she was concerned she probably never would. In a way, she was envious… but that wasn’t something she could really say, so she didn’t.
“I’m glad that you at least seem to be making the most of it as best as you can, though, despite how bitter I’m sure it is to live with. Sometimes, that’s all we can do… just play with the hands we’re dealt and hope we can find a way to make some kind of meaning or substance out of it before we run out of chances to live. Regret is an awful feeling, and I try to avoid it where I can. I can’t say I’ve always made great choices, but… once an opportunity for something passes me by, I may not get it back, yknow? I guess you know more than most just how quickly it can all go to shit and be lost in the blink of an eye, and then that’s it. Not everyone appreciates what they have, nor how much is sometimes sacrificed for them to have it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad that you don’t have to stay hidden anymore. I’m glad you got a second chance, whether fairly or not, and that you have the freedom now to make up for the time you were robbed of.”
Mercury hadn’t really been looking at him through most of her words, her eyes lost in a mixture of thought and reflection. It was perhaps a bit more telling about herself than she normally would have liked, but… well, similarly to his son, it seemed that Gren’s moment of deeper honesty had the power to draw out such moments from herself, if not so openly. She didn’t say as much, but there was no mistaking that she was no stranger to hardship, perhaps even abuse, and that her view of life was so bleak and practical that she’d simply learned to handle it one day at a time, making the best of things where she could and finding pleasure in whatever simple thing happened to present itself before she was left with nothing at all.
She looked up at him then with a small smile, the look in her emerald eyes far more genuine and soft than what she normally expressed. “Thank you for sharing your story with me, Gren.”
Mercury nodded in agreement to his assessment that magic really wasn’t that much different from science. It broke a few laws of reality, but it was still defined by its own set of laws, and was a phenomenon that was still quantifiable, and could often even be integrated with science and technology, so as bizarre as it had been, it had also been fairly easy for her to pick up and find some kind of firm grasp on. But the spiritual hadn’t quite been the same for her, and Gren acknowledged that not everyone was born with the exposure to such knowledge, even in a place like Fiore where it was more widespread.
There was a brief silence for a time before she spoke up with some of her thoughts, both about the man that had given his life for Gren to return and about the rare shot at second life that Gren had been given. He didn’t interrupt her at all as she focused on getting the words out and speaking her mind, lost in his own world across the table. But, when she did finally look up at him with a smile and earnestly thanked him for opening up about the story with her, it was enough for him to meet her gaze once more and thank her for simply listening. Gren even took a moment to reach across the table to give her arm a soft squeeze, and she briefly reciprocated it by putting her other hand on top of his and doing the same.
Then, after only a lingering moment of touch, they returned to their food. He voiced his surprise that such a heavy topic had come up during their little dinner, but he was glad it had. “Well, polite idle chatter can only occupy for so long,” she said by way of agreement. “Me, I like hearing people talk about themselves. I try not to pry on sensitive stuff, of course, but if the deeper stories present themselves I find they are usually far more enjoyable and worthwhile than anything else.” As long as it was deep stories about other people and not herself, at least. She wasn’t as prone to sharing, although lately that had very little to do with not wanting to share. In fact, after all the time she’d been spending with Vandrad and his family, and even with Mythal and Serilda to a point, she actually found herself slipping more and more into the dangerous territory of wanting to talk about some of the awful shit from her own past and opening up about things, to get a real taste of what it felt like to actually have a supportive community.
Unfortunately, she just couldn’t do that. She was already far too deep in that hole and the only thing that kept her from clawing her way out of it was the fact that she had yet to be reprimanded or caught.
They finished their meals and Gren ordered them another round of drinks, much to Mercury’s delight. Her ribs had been fantastic, and it showed by the satisfied smirk on her face as she set her utensils down and leaned back. She was starting to ponder where the conversation should lean next when Gren elected to take the initiative in that department, and in a way that she wholly wasn’t expecting. She raised a slight brow of interested as he opened up his query slowly, as though looking to steer things into a more weighty topic again, but instead he asked quite openly about her impression on Agatha’s sexual prowess. Given her obviously sincere and kind hearted nature, Agatha didn’t quite seem to match up as being the type of woman that would have found herself married to a sex demon and another female human that was beyond crass and practically obsessed with sex.
Mercury laughed out right with delight at the question, her eyes dancing with mirth and impish amusement. “Oh, man. It was wild, I’ll tell you that. Those three are something else entirely. I like to think I’m at least decently experienced, but that was like nothing else I’d ever participated in.” She chuckled again at the memory before tapping her fingertips gently along the table in thought, trying to figure out the best place to start in answering his question. “She’s definitely a giver, that’s for sure. And way more flexible than anyone has a right to be. She’s surprisingly naughty. Not like Monica, though. Monica is her own brand of delightful, bold and sassy and always up for a little trouble like I am. Agatha’s a lot more… classy, I guess? But still just as adventurous and kinky, she’s just not as over the top about it as Monica is.”
Since he was clearly interested, and there was no point being reserved about it after all the other shit they’d already discussed, Mercury went ahead and regaled him with the story of her brief foray with the married thruple, including the position she’d found them in upon bursting through the door. She did her best to give due credit all around to each Lusty Titans leader’s bedroom skills, and how playful and devious each of them were. Mercury even admitted how they’d all basically ganged up on her at the end and more or less put her in a position to just sit there and enjoy it. It was a great tale, one that Mercury took much delight in finally being able to talk to someone about.
Chuckling merrily into her ale as she took another drink, she told him, “Man, it is unbelievable how hot she is. Even Vandrad’s jaw dropped, and he’s just not the kind of guy that puts much stock in that kind of thing. He couldn’t even talk straight when she started a conversation with him. He was fumbling to form a coherent sentence. She walked in the room and he was so shook he actually swallowed his pride long enough to give me this look, like he couldn’t help himself from having to acknowledge how attractive she was. I know that probably doesn’t mean much to you, but to give you some perspective, I’m probably the last person he would ever want to have that kind of ammo over him. He spends every waking moment of his life trying to keep me from sussing out any information I might be able to use to embarrass him later, yet he still couldn’t help himself. I can’t wait to shove the two of them in a room together again, someday, just to watch him stammer like he’s getting a second wave of puberty.”
With an almost wistful sigh, she envisioned the scene in her head and how flustered the prince was going to get. Having returned to her cigar, she put the thick stick to her lips and took a light draw before speaking up again. “Kinda wacky that Seri and Mythal know them, if I’m being honest. A demon lord of lust and his sex crazy wives don’t exactly seem like the kind of people they’d hang out with, yknow? They’re so proper and private. Or well, Seri is proper. It’s just kind of weird to trace that back and try to figure out how in the world they ever met, let alone got along well enough to be such good friends to the point where Ruzatz would come immediately upon Seri reaching out to him. Either they’re secretly kinkier than I gave them credit for, or their self discipline is off the charts.”
Gren chuckled as he remarked over their similarities in that regard. Both of them were far more interested in hearing other people talk, with him admitting the habit was one he formed from living on the streets and having nothing else to do, and perfected after joining the Rune Knights and working on reports all day. Mercury, too, learned to listen and read people from a young age due to her harsh upbringing, so she fully understood what he meant. And it was clear that he was a little more insistent than others she spoke to in the past that were more easily lead down a road of talking about themselves rather than discussing her, though he certainly hadn’t been pushy about it thus far. He was probably just curious about the odd woman in his son’s life that didn’t at all seem like the type of woman the prince would spend time with.
He asked about Agatha, and it was a delightful shift in conversation leading toward something that both of them could heartily laugh about. Mercury gave a brief summary of the exploit, giving some general details about Agatha, and it bought a chuckle from the older man. He expressed his relief that Mercury wasn’t as experienced as the thruple and that even she had been a little out of her element, which meant he wouldn’t be alone in that regard when it came to Agatha. He claimed he didn’t have a whole lot of experience with women at all, and that the last date he’d had was near forty years ago. Mercury looked offended by the very notion that he’d not had the opportunity to sow wild oats to his heart’s content as a younger man, though she knew now that a great deal of that time was because he’d been trapped by Faera and having to keep a low profile. “That’s just a crime. Rest assured that I will do everything in my wiley power to help you break a few streaks tonight.”
From there the conversation let into the more sordid details of her time with the three Titans, which was a story that Gren wholly appreciated. He hid it well, but unfortunately for him, Mercury was capable of reading his pulse and his heat signatures, and there were a number of bits in the story that he seemed to find a bit… well, rousing. To her credit, she didn’t call him on it. One because he technically had a table blocking her view, so to say something about it would give away that she had means of sensing such things, but also because it was just more fun to make him squirm. When she got to the bits about Vandrad having to cope with Agatha’s very existence, Gren was laughing so hard the table was shaking and he was red in the face. Mercury’s smile was ear to ear at getting the big man so tickled, chuckling heartily herself over the infinitely amusing topic.
When she switched gears and lead the conversation to her bewilderment over Ruzatz and Agatha being such good friends with Serilda and Mythal, despite their polar opposite personalities, it seemed Gren actually had the full story on how all that had gone down. He finished his drink and waved for another while Mercury tapped some ash off her cigar. Gren explained that Mercury’s assumption about their polar personalities was correct, and that under normal circumstances nothing lasting would have developed there. However, a small series of events had managed to bring them together. It seemed she had run into Ruzatz and Agatha separately without knowing they were married. The meeting with Ruzatz appeared to have been coincidence while the one with Agatha had been due to the noblewoman seeking answers about something that Agatha was able to help her with -- though the answers seemed to have been upsetting at the time, for both Serilda and Agatha.
Agatha had lamented to Ruzatz, who then managed to track Mythal down and give him a piece of his mind, getting involved to help the noblewoman despite the poor first impression he’d given her. Apparently, he’d brushed her with his lusty magic without meaning to and Serilda hadn’t appreciated it one bit, and Ruzatz had felt awful enough about it to make sure that someone was there for Serilda to help her cope with her upsetting news. Typically speaking, Mythal wasn’t the type to be receptive to that kind of thing but the topic being Serilda was the difference maker. Mythal took the advice and went to find her, and it was a big step toward fixing things that had been rocky between them up until that point. But then Faera pulled some moves and Mythal had to leave without much notice, leaving only some letters behind and sending Serilda into a panic.
At this point, most of the story was pretty familiar as Serilda had told much of it herself back in the Order’s base while describing how she’d become connected to the demon of wrath. It was the story of how she’d become a god slayer and earned her unholy powers, but focused on different pieces and driving forces behind the story that gave it new perspective. Once Serilda had gotten into Kingdom Darkness with Ruzatz’s help and busted Mythal out -- with Gren’s outside assistance -- they had recuperated at Lusty Titan for several days. During that time, the four had managed to work themselves out and had grown a little closer to each other due to the hardship they’d endured, and from there the rest was history. In fact, Serilda and Mythal were close enough to the other couple that they’d even willingly attended full blown orgies that the Titans had hosted.
Mercury’s eyes went wide at that. “What, seriously?” That was the last thing she’d ever expected to hear, and it brought a short but hearty laugh out of her. Mythal and Serilda simply trusted Ruzatz and Agatha and valued their friendship so much that they were willing to put aside some of their own personal comfortabilities to spend time with them and respect the other couple’s lifestyle. In turn, the Lusty Titans leaders never pressured them into anything, despite how much of a crush Ruzatz apparently had on Serilda. Gren expressed that the demon lord would willingly amputate part of himself to get a night with her, and Mercury laughed. “I can’t say I blame him. She’s scary, but she’s gorgeous, and he clearly has a thing for strong women. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t entertained a few fantasies over her and Mythal both. If I thought for one second that either or both of them would be open to playing around, I’d have made moves already, but unfortunately they’re basically fucking unicorns.”
She sighed, lamenting her daydreams over the possibility that would never come to fruition. Gren worked a bit on his own cigar before turning the topic back to Agatha, expressing how baffled he was to think that a woman as classy as her was as dirty as her spouses. But at the same time, he wasn’t too surprised, nor was he surprised to hear about some of her more risque traits. Then he got to Monica and her own insatiable nature, which brought a wicked grin to Mercury’s face. And surprisingly, he came right out and admitted the reason that he hadn’t slept with the woman yet, which turned out to be exactly what Mercury suspected: she simply reminded him too much of Themesycia, and he wasn’t over the duchess enough yet to break down that wall with Monica, even if he clearly wanted to. He figured he might get there one day, now that he could actually see Themesycia again and perhaps find a way to move on, but it seemed that was still up in the air.
In the meantime, he was more than happy to string Monica along and drive her crazy. Mercury practically choked on her cigar with wicked laughter at his admission that he was quite purposefully teasing the tattooed woman, knowing what it was doing to her. According to him, it was nice to just have someone that so clearly wanted to bed him, which hadn’t been the case for a very long time. “Man, you have no idea how badly she wants you. Here, let me show you something.” Reaching into her clutch, she pulled her homemade iLac out and turned the screen on, flicking her finger across the glass surface to get to the files she was looking for before grinning and handing the device to him. “These are all the pictures she was taking of you during your missions together. She was showing them to me at the Order while you guys were all talking, before Ruzatz and Agatha showed up… in case you were wondering how long it took for her and I to get together and start swapping photos.”
And of course, nearly every single picture was zoomed in on his tightly wrapped bulge or his ass. There were a lot of them, too. “She claimed they helped keep her warm when you continued to brush off her advances.” There was no mistaking what she was insinuating, particularly given the rather shit eating grin on her face as she drew another drag from her cigar. “You would make her fucking life if you gave her the chance… but honestly, I get it. I had actually already put the similarities between her and Themmy together myself, and was wondering if that was the reason why you hadn’t gone for it yet. If only because I couldn’t imagine someone not being attracted to her, so it stood to reason that there had to be something else holding you back. Frankly, I think she’d understand that too. She’d be disappointed and would probably still try to see if she could bring you around and make you reconsider, but I think even she would probably concede that remind you of a former flame is a valid reason to keep your distance.”
Then, her expression turned devious again as she shot him a sultry little smirk. “Luckily for you, she’s not the only woman around hoping to lure you into bed. And since I look nothing like Themmy..” Mercury gently slipped one of her feet under the small table to rub it gently against the inside of his thigh, next to his knee. If he happened to look down, he’s find that hanging from the toe of her black heels was a pair of bright, lime green underwear in the form of a lacy thong, that she had somehow managed to slip out from under her dress without even using her hands, which had been visible above the table the entire time. Yet, there they were, right there within reach and practically daring him to take them in hand.
“Then maybe my chances are a little better.”
According to Gren, if Mercury wanted a shot at Mythal or Serilda, should the couple ever opt to branch out, she was going to have a fight on her hands with Ruzatz. Mercury cackled merrily, about as amused at envisioning that fight as Gren was, the older man stating he’d pay to watch it go down. “I’ll bet I could give him a run for his money,” she said with a grin.
She offered to show him the images that Monica had accrued of Gren’s unmentionables during their missions together, the bearded man laughing outright and expressing his lack of surprise, both at the photos and what Monica had used them for. Apparently she had come at Gren quite hard on most of their missions together, moving their sleeping bags closer together and even outright walking around naked. And while Gren had enjoyed the view quite thoroughly, he’d managed to restrain from giving in to the temptation. At Mercury’s word that Monica would probably be understanding about Gren’s reasons for not reciprocating, he readily agreed, calling her a ravenous but compassionate woman, as well as a reliable person to work with. With time he truly hoped he could work past things enough to be able to say yes to her, he simply wasn’t ready for now, which was certainly fine. Mercury was a lot of things, but she was not the type to push sex on anyone if they weren’t willing or ready to go for it.
But in that vein, Gren had already made it perfectly clear that she was more than welcome to push and see how far she could get Gren to play along, so when the devious idea came up to slip him her underwear out there in the open, she just couldn’t resist. She’d waited long enough for it to be more appropriate of course, as doing so after his story of resurrection wouldn’t have been very tactful, but once she had another opening the Xocili wasted no time in going for it just to see what kind of a rise she could get out of him. He played it off masterfully, but once again she had an ace in the hole that tipped his hand for her. His face may have been the perfect picture of calm, but his pulse had picked up and a great deal of his blood was rushing to a centralized point.
He reached down and plucked the thin garment into his hand, bold enough to hold it for a moment before discreetly slipping it into the pocket of his jacket. By then she was in full form, grinning like the wicked little cheshire cat she was as she sipped from her glass and eyed him from across the table, waiting to see what he’d do or say. And to her surprise and immeasurable delight, he decided to one up her by calling her supposed bluff. Gren innocently questioned how he was to know that these were the ones she had been wearing, as she could have stashed an extra pair to tease him with. The look he gave her sent a shiver down her spine, those damn glasses having damn near the same effect on her as they’d had from Vandrad. He gently took hold of her foot to keep her leg nearby, running his fingers slowly up her thigh and sending a ripple of excitement through her as he explained that he merely had to gather proof in the form of an innocent patdown.
“I got nothin’ to hide, officer,” Mercury told him coyly, playing on his old position as a cop to be just a little extra dirty about the matter. The act was infuriatingly deft and he made no invasions, but that was honestly what made it even more provocative. She watched him the entire time, continuing to gently rub her foot against his thigh with a little more intimacy but without actually getting too up close and personal, still looking merely to tease and entice more than anything else. The exchange was over in a matter of seconds and he withdrew, satisfied with the conclusion of his search. She was allowed the return of her leg, and just like that it was on to other topics as he asked if she was interested in a coffee or desert, expressing an interested in getting a sweet treat before he casually sucked on his fingers.
Oh, he was dirty. There was no mistake in her gaze that she was all sorts of impressed and delighted. However, unlike someone like Monica or even Themesycia that would have taken the bait right then and there to quit playing around and seeing where they could go, Mercury was far, far more stubborn than that. As such, she went right along with his teasing. “I never say no to coffee. Nor to dessert.” Reaching toward the center of the table, she plucked the small dessert menu out of the little condiment stand and looked it over, posing options to him until they found something that sounded good to them both: a small chocolate lava cake that was topped with fresh vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle. The water was flagged over to take their empty plates away and the order was put in, along with a couple coffees.
Taking another breath from the cigar, she settled comfortably back into more casual conversation. “So, what’s next for you now that you don’t have to stay in hiding? Any big plans?”
When she asked him what plans he had for himself next, he opened up by admitting that he had spent most of his life either working as a Rune Knight or raising Mythal, which hadn’t left much time for traveling around and just living his life. He enjoyed working for the Order of course and figured he’d keep doing that, but apparently he needed to consider finding something to do that came with a little more financial gain. Apparently Mythal had been encouraging him to sign on with a guild that could make use of his skills, but the shrug Gren gave was an indicator of his interest in that. He admitted that this being his first time without some kind of responsibility was ideal, and he hoped to do something more adventurous with his time without having to really answer to anyone.
She nodded. “Makes sense. I’d want some freedom to do as I please after all that, too. But the nice thing is that not every guild ties you down. A lot of them encourage travel, actually. But even then, there’s usually plenty of work around for mages that aren’t affiliated with guilds as well. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a way to earn some cash.” He turned the question around on her, wondering what other plans she had during her week with Vandrad gone and what other kind of trouble she might have planned. Mercury chuckled. “The sad thing is, I rarely go looking for trouble. I just have a tendency of running after it when it presents itself.”
Pausing to pour some creamer in her coffee cup and stir it, she went on. “Honestly, I’ll probably try to catch up on some of my personal projects. I just finished designing a translocation ray that will make it easier to get back and forth from work to home. It’s basically done and working, I just want to tweak it a little so it’s a bit more efficient. Ever expressed an interest in it, stating that she and Dudley might be interested in commissioning it from me to help out with their own business, so it’d be nice to get it wrapped up and finalized so I have a full blueprint for them to utilize. Outside of that, I’ve always got little projects here and there I could be working on.”
It was difficult to talk about all the stuff she did in her free time, since a great deal of it was research into Earthland itself, building reports and compiling databases to send back to the Nazru. A lot of that research was information she had stolen from the secret Order that Gren himself worked for, which she certainly couldn’t bring up. Mercury had gone through a great deal of the data she’d stolen, but there was a lot to digest and organize. It was a tedious process, even for a woman with a literal computer for a brain. “Mostly, though, I’m probably just going to take advantage of the peace and quiet, and the sleeping in. Once he’s back it’s going to be right back to the relentless grind that he loves so much. He’ll probably scold me if I don’t do anything he considers productive, so maybe I’ll practice some piano or set up a tech project for him, just so I can say I did something other than laze and sleep around all week.”
The Xocili grinned, taking a sip from her coffee. “Did he tell you he’s picked up engineering, by the way? Sneaky little bastard tried to pull a fast one on me. A few months back he decided on his own that he wanted to see how much he could learn of what I do, and started doing some research and tinkering on his own. Made some pretty impressive armor that he pulled out one day while helping me with some research. Little shit was so fucking smug about it too, but I admit it was some pretty decent work. So, now I guess I tutor him on the weekends, giving him projects to try out and stuff. It’s a shame he wound up with Fairy Tail, cause I actually think he could have done pretty decent with Silver Wolf.”
The waiter arrived with the dessert, much to her delight. He placed it on the table between them along with a couple spoons and some fresh napkins. “Mm, that looks amazing,” she cooed, leaning forward a bit to see it better. Mercury picked up a spoon and gently dug a mouthful out, making sure to get a little of both the cake and the ice cream. Rather than lift it to her own mouth, however, she leaned forward a bit more across the small table and offered it to him with a playful little smirk, offering to feed him the first bite. “So. If you wind up traveling, where do you think you’ll go? Anything in particular calling to you?”
“Oh, I’m quite sure Monica would love to have you be a part of Lusty Titans. She’s probably already worked it out with Ruzatz that if you join, she gets first dibs on your initiation.” Mercury smirked playfully at the man. She’s been talking with Monica a lot the last week or so since they met, and the woman had been trying her damndest to get Mercury to join too, even using the promise of the initiation ceremony as a means to try and lure her in. And boy, it was certainly tempting… but Mercury wasn’t entirely sure she was ready to make that venture just yet, not when she still had a lot about herself she was trying to keep underwraps. The thought of being surrounded by an entire community of people that were trained to suss out all her little secrets was not one she was willing to toy with at the moment. It was already dangerous enough hanging around Gren, who Mercury was quite certain had been analyzing her all night and probably picking up on more than she really should have let him figure out.
She explained a little about some of the stuff she was working on, and how she mostly planned on just using the time to relax though she would still have to do a little bit of work so that she wouldn’t be lying when he asked if she’d done anything useful with her time. His interest piqued up a bit at the news that she played piano, commenting on how it seemed the type of instrument that one would learn growing up with nobility. Apparently he always wanted to learn how to play drums but never did, before expressing an interest in hearing her play. “I think you could convince me to do that,” she told him with a grin. “Maybe you should take some time to learn drums if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do. Nothing saying you can’t take it up now that you have the time. I never learned to play any instruments growing up. Always wanted to try my hand at something, but never got the chance. I blame Themmy. She put Vandrad on display during that little engagement ball that I crashed and made him play and sing for everyone, and then she turned right around and tried to get me to do the same thing. I only knew one song at the time, but I had to have Vandrad play it for me cause I didn’t know how. It was a little embarrassing, actually, cause I’d never sung anything before but it did open a door to being able to learn how to play so I guess I can’t complain.”
Even now, Mercury could remember how nervous she’d been sitting up on stage next to the prince and putting her heart on display in front of a bunch of strangers. It had been a rather tense moment, one that had left her a little shaken and humbled. She was fully expecting Themesycia to pull the same trick at the Christmas ball that she’d just received an invitation to a day or two prior. From there, she went a bit into Vandrad’s recent interest in engineering and the little stunt he’d pulled on her. Apparently, Gren was clueless as to where Vandrad would have picked that interest up given that neither he nor Themmy were really tech buffs. The only thing he could assume, and insinuate, was that Mercury had been the one to inspire him there. “Perhaps,” she remarked with an equally playful smirk. “But frankly, he’s just the kind of guy that likes to challenge himself, both physically and memtally. He probably grew up with it from Ever and Dudley, since their business is actually in the tech field, but who knows.”
Dessert came and Mercury offered to feed Gren a bite of it, earning a little smirk before he leaned forward and took it, much to her delight. She posed her question even as he dug out a bite and offered it to her in turn, the Xocili taking it as he answered and enjoying the delectable treat with a soft hum of appreciation. He figured he’d go to Minstrel first to square things out with Cael and Han, which made sense. He was long overdue for some time to catch up with his brother, so it sounded like he planned on spending a fair bit of time there. After that, he didn’t have any real aim. He said that Mythal had spent some time in Midi training with some monks there, so taking some time to see the place and learn more about the culture interested him. Outside of that, it sounded like his direction was really going to be left more up to fate.
Mercury dipped her spoon back into the little bowl to retrieve another bite. “I actually have been meaning to go to Midi myself, now that you mention it. Got some things out there I’ve been meaning to take care of, but I keep putting it off.” The Xocili actually hadn’t checked in on the entitled little brat that was Sabine since she was kicked out of the du Wolff manner. She really hadn’t needed to. All the little devices she had installed on the young woman had been set to notify her if any specific keywords came about of Sabine’s mouth, and so far Mercury had received none of those pings. She knew the plants were still in place and operating, because she would have been notified of that too if they’d been removed or destroyed, so she could only conclude that the pest had kept her mouth shut, which was a bit disappointing. But, she still planned on visiting the princess’ neck of the woods and scoping out the area and her family, if only to build a game plan so she could pick on Sabine as thoroughly as possible when the time came.
“Spending some time catching up with your brother sounds fun, though. I’d be interested in hearing how that goes once you’re back. Or maybe while you’re there. You’re certainly free to call or text me any time if you get lonely out there.” she gave him a playful wink before putting her bite in her mouth, enjoying the dessert. Once she swallowed, Mercury shot him another grin. “So I’m curious, if you’ll indulge me: What all did Vandrad have to say about me during your little pow wow? He has a habit of leaving out the juciest bits of stories and doing his best to undersell them. I’m curious to see what all he decided to relay and maybe do some fact checking to see how honest he was about how things went down.” By the tone of her voice, it was clear that she wasn’t snooping to try and figure out how much Gren knew about her so much as genuinely wanting to see if the prince had only given his father any half stories in the hopes of saving himself some face. She just delighted far too much in being a pain in Vandrad’s ass, which was her favorite pastime.