2012-06-15: Pancakes Are Neutral Ground


Kalindi_icon.jpg Donna_icon.jpg

Summary: A neutral ground is declared.

Date: June 15, 2012.

Log Title: Pancakes are Neutral Ground

Rating: PG.


International House of Pancakes with its signature white building and blue roof is among one of the more suburban areas of Queens. Open 24 hours for all pancake lovers, IHOP has plenty of tables and booths for its customers.

Kalindi has arrived as promised, following precisely the conditions that she promised: unarmed and alone, her gold jewellery switched out for wood pieces. Her phone rests on the table, at ready in case she needs to call in assistance, but otherwise she has left herself rather vulnerable. At the moment, she peruses the menu with a contemplative look on her face, not really sure what exactly to order. She wears her usual bright garb, a tightly fitting red Chinese style top, a pair of blue jeans and a purple scarf.

It's fairly easy to tell when Donna enters; even in street clothes — which in defiance of the burgeoning city heat are a thin black mock-turtleneck, jeans, and hiking boots — the sickly throb of the iron-bound book wrapped and concealed within a fairly innocuous bookbag fairly screams her presence to anyone with any sort of mystical training. The almost aggressively mundane waitress, however, seems to simply mistake her for the creepily dangrous subset of goth, and nods her head Kalindi's way, silently intimating that she can find her own seat. Which Donna does, with no sign that the waitress' reaction was anything more or less than expected. "Kalindi," she says mildly, standing next to the chair opposite the Hindi sorceress, as though waiting to be invited to sit.

Kalindi gestures towards the other seat and then offers, "Donna. Sit. Please." The young woman eyes Donna for a few moments and then picks up her water to take a sip. "We both know this, but I will declare it. This is neutral ground. No hostilities are permitted in this place, this shall be a place where we will both be considered safe. Neither will we try to extend our influences into this place. This is sanctuary." She nods once more and then says, "Do you agree to this?"

"I do swear to abide by the terms of neutral ground," Donna murmurs, pitched just loud enough to be heard across the table, as she pulls out her chair and sits. "I do recognize this place as sanctuary, and shall not suffer my actions or yours, to break its peace." To one well versed in the arcane legalities common to such agreements, it would be fairly easy to note that Donna did not promise to goad *Kalindi* into breaking the accord… just as the reverse is also true. Folding her hands on the table, the sorceress arches a thin black eyebrow. "I'll come to the point. You have a problem."

"Yes. I think that problem is you. Or, well, to be more diplomatic, this problem is… that you would like for me to be dead, and this is in disagreement with my best interests, which is to not be dead," says Kalindi, tilting her head slightly, "So my problem is, in fact, your problem with me. And this is the problem that I would like to discuss here, as I am not one who is quick to jump to bloodshed. I will also note, that if you know the type of thing I am, that I cannot tell you lies. I can be nothing but honest. I do not know if you know that, but it is the truth. Besides, dishonesty is despicable."

"In point of fact," Donna says with a slight edge to her voice, "I *don't* know what you are. Not fully. You've the scent of demon deep enough in you, ordinarily I'd not even blink twice in trying to kill you. Which, as you say, is the root of your problem. Sitting across the table from you is one trained as a weapon, specifically for the purpose of slaying the servants of darkness. One who has… *special* reason to hate thralls with all the passion the Irish can muster. Now. I agreed to this meeting… well in point of fact, largely because your girl would turn into rather a tremendous headache if I didn't stop to see what you were about. That, and my apprentice seems to trust you, which either speaks well for you, or poorly for her."

"Hmm. I shall explain then what sort of thing I am, then? I have come in good faith, and as I have told you when we first met, I do not wish you harm…" says Kalindi, tilting her head back and forth lightly, "I am the daughter of Umbalificos, the Bargainer. Not biologically, you understand, but I was sold by my father and Umbalificos was the purchaser. My father had expected Umba, which is, ehhh, it is like a pet name? Like, to say Papa, but I say Umba, but I am talking of Umbalificos when I say that, he had expected Umba to slay me. Instead, he adopted me as an heiress and an ambassador, among other things. This is why I am here, a conduit between this world and his own. Anyhow, Umbalificos is a Bargainer, as am I by adoption, my soul shared with his. We cannot tell lies, we cannot break contracts. We tend to deal with anyone who will want to deal with us, and this is how we make gains, trading one thing for another. It is, ehhh, magical capitalism, yes?"
"And what, precisely, do you trade?" Donna's visible eye is hard as flint as she says this, narrowed in speculation. "What does your… Umba… want?"

"Security, really. He wants to be impossible to bother. Order and justice, these are important. Comfort and pleasure, these are things that we seek," says Kalindi, shrugging lightly, "We will purchase whatever we think will bring these things, or could be used to purchase other things that will bring these things. All things must be properly consented, and contracts must be signed. There are no tricks like Fiona's Norgatraz."

Donna's eyebrow twitches upward briefly. "…I'm… sorry, did I just hear you speak of order and justice? A *demon* is a creature of *order* and *justice?* Oh, pull the other one," she huffs, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms, "it's got bells on."

Kalindi shrugs and then says, "Order, there are rules, and they must be followed. Justice, if the rules are contradicted, there must be recourse, and nobody is above them. Yes. Order and justice. Anyways, I do not think demon is a good word, it has so many negative connotations… But I cannot lie. You may research it if you wish, but these are my values as I have spoken."

Donna grunts sourly, picking up the menu and giving it a cursory once-over. "I believe I'll do just that little thing," she murmurs, nostril's flaring. "Very well… since we're being so open about ourselves? Despite what you see, I've no allegiance to anyone or anything but my own personal mission. Specifically, the Great Eye can stick his head between his knees and plant a big wet kiss on his own *arse* for all I care. I was bonded to him through trickery, and with every last breath I defy him. So, you needn't fear any great and terrible darkness hanging over this city… It's got enough to be getting on with on its own, anyway."

"This is a relief, I admit," says Kalindi, tilting her head slightly, "When I first encountered you, I had worried that you were working on spreading its influence which is kind of not very good for my own business. And my business is very important to me." She pauses for a moment and then says, "What is not a relief is that you seem to think that I am a target in this personal mission of yours. I do not claim to be, ehh, a /good/ person by human standards. But I am okay." She raises her hand palm towards the table and then tilts it a couple of times back and forth.

Donna's eye narrows, and a snort pushed through her nose. "I'll do my research. If what I find matches what you've told me? Fine. If not? I'll be coming for you, same as before. Either way… rest assured, I *will* have my eye on you. And if I judge that your actions are too harmful to be allowed? I'll accept the headache that your incredible blabbermouth of a girlfriend will create for me, quite happily."

"Do your research, I invite you, you will only find that I am telling you the truth. I cannot tell you otherwise," says Kalindi, smiling just slightly at that, before noting, "And I would rather that you not issue insults about Tabitha. I care for her very much, yes?"

Donna's lips twitch upward. "Lass, I've spent more time in her company than I'd ordinarily tolerate. 'Tis not an insult, but a statement of fact; the girl is *vastly* too free with her words to entrust *anything* important to. But for all her prattle, she's got a reasonably good heart, and were it not for her endlessly banging on about you while you were away, we'd not be having this meeting."

Kalindi tilts her head back and forth at Donna's words and then nods once as if silently accepting them, "It is just the word 'blabbermouth', it sounds ugly. English is not my best language…" She glances over and then says, "I am going to get pancakes." Indeed, when a server comes by a moment later, Kalindi orders a stack of pancakes. "I am thankful that he speaking of me made you more amenable to this meeting. I am not one for feuds for no reason. It is just so stressful. Though you are right, Tabitha does speak a great deal, when I heard your full name my heart nearly stopped. This is not information that she should be sharing, which I have told her."

Donna closes her eyes, shaking her head and sighing. "She is shrewd, I'll give her that. Or she can be, when it occurs to her. And it's not my full name, but close enough as annoys me greatly that she had the idea to ask it when she had the chance." Setting the menu down as the server comes, she looks up, tilting her head. "Country fried steak for me, and a pot of tea," is all she says, and when the girl moves off, lifts her shoulders. "I'm not sure if she told you, but she *is* in posession of a single favor from me. I'd given it to her, assuming she'd hold onto it until you came to grief, somehow or other, and that yet stands. I say this, so *I* don't get murdered when I show up; I've no small amount of self-interest myself, mind."

"I will keep that in mind, but… well, I do not trust you. I do not think you are bound to honesty in the way that I am, and I have learned harsh lessons since coming to this place that there is very little value placed on truth," says Kalindi, with no small amount of disgust in her voice, "If you make a motion to harm me, I will not hesitate to defend myself. If you make a motion to harm Tabitha, which I suppose I do not think you have motivation to at least, I will defend her as well. This being said… until you prove to me that you wish me harm, I will avoid doing harm to you, yes? If I see you, and you need to give Tabitha this favour, I will not initiate anything."

Donna inclines her head. "Fair enough… and while it's true, I've no *compulsion* to cleave to honesty… my time among the Fae taught me a great many lessons. Chief among them, the price of betraying oaths given, as well as the value of a clear trading balance. So. Trust me or do not, I'll not try to sway you. And I'd expect no less than to defend you or your girl. But I will say this; Fiona is in a *very* delicate place, now. And I *will not suffer* her to be led around by promises and platitudes until she's got enough of her head back that she can reliably make her *own* choices. Are we clear?"

Kalindi raises her hands in an acquiescent way and says, "I have not wanted to do anything but help her. I find the Norgatraz creature to be disgusting and despicable, and she does not deserve anything that the creature has given her. But I do not make any promises I do not intend to keep, and so, I cannot make promises for her freedom or any such thing. I wish her well, however. She is a friend." She considers for a moment and then says, "As I wait for pancakes, I would like to know… what about me or this idea you have of me presents a threat? What is the issue that you have? What kind of threat do you think I pose?"

"Tell me," Donna murmurs, nodding her thanks as the drinks are set down, turning her empty mug in her hands, "have you seen much of what drugs do to a person, Kalindi? I don't mean the little things… but heroin, crack, and the others. Have you ever watched someone walk down that path, I wonder?"

Kalindi takes a sip of her water and then says, "I have seen it. I do not live in a very nice part of town, I have seen some of the people out there, the ones who are addicted to such things. But I have never known anyone to go down such paths, not well. I know some who have overcome such things. I have helped some. Why? What does this have to do with me?"

"Demons, you see," Donna says quietly, "are very like a drug. …Or rather, the power they hold, and offer so temptingly to those with little wit and less scruple. At first, it doesn't seem such a terrible price; you gain power, which you can use to gain respect… but it wears away at your soul, a little at a time. Even if you'd not pledged the damn thing into their keeping already, the stain simply grows and grows, and then a thrall will do things they'd not even countenance, before… And it'd be bad enough, if the damage was limited to just them, and the people around them… but no. No, the dark things beyond the veil, they *always* want in. And above anything else, a thrall truly in the keeping of their master, that will be their goal." Lifting the teapot, she pours out half a cup, eye rising to meet Kalindi's gaze. "You feel very much like a thrall, Kalindi… one quite loyal to her master, 'Daddy' or no. So you tell me; what am I *supposed* to take you for?"

Kalindi's eyebrows raise slightly and she says, "You think I will bring Umbalificos to this realm? That is, well. I have /done/ that before. The first thing he does is /go back/!" She shakes her head and says, "There is a reason I am as an ambassador here. It is a very important place of trade, and has many places of power, but Umba does not like it here. That is all there is to it. The /only/ reason he comes here, is if I bring him through because I need his protection. And then he is all up in a fit because it is smelly and loud and everyone here is a liar and he thinks they will come and try to kill him… so he leaves. It is safer back in our dimension. My human nature just makes me more able to deal with things out here."

Donna grunts, taking a sip of her tea. "Well. As I said, I'll do my research. Mind, I'm not terribly pleased by what I've just heard, but, I stand by what I say. And you can take that to your Umbalificos, and tell him the same applies to him as well. I've not got much reach into the realms beyond… but it might be that I don't *need* them much at all, should I put my mind to it."

"No, I do not think you would be pleased by what you have heard, but it is true," says Kalindi, furrowing her brows lightly, "I can summon him any time, it only takes a couple of seconds of focus. It is a ritual I am good at. But I do not. I do not care to, because then we will argue about whether it was really necessary, and he is stubborn, and I am stubborn. It is deeply unpleasant." She takes a sip of her water and then notes, "Perhaps we are different sorts than the creatures that you are used to, though. I do not know what you are used to."

"I suppose we'll simply have to see," Donna murmurs, pouring out another cup of tea. "Let us both hope, then, that what you say checks out. If Fiona truly is your friend… I'll not be happy to have to kill you."

"And if you are truly aid to her, I would not relish the thought of your death," says Kalindi, finishing off her glass of water.

Donna inclines her head. "Just so we know where we stand," She says, the ghost of a smile passing across her pale face. "So. You've given me my homework for the week, it's only fair I do the same; if perhaps you have any Old World contacts, you might do well to ask after a sorceror by the name of Gerwulf von Hohenkunstler. Ask what he did to the Brotherhood of the Black Heart. That, perhaps, might give you an idea just how… singular… my teacher's purpose was. And how very, very focused his training was."

"Old World contacts? Well. I think it should be easier for me to do such research now…" says Kalindi, staring off with a bit of a frown and a contemplative look, "I think I will research it, though I am guessing you mention it just as a warning not to cross you. I already do not want to do that."

"In part, certainly," Donna says, falling silent as their order comes, taking up fork and knife once the waitress walks away. "But should it turn out we're not at cross purposes? It can't hurt a thing for you to know what to look for. Information, traded weight for weight, handy thing to have."

Kalindi seems rather pleased for the pancakes arriving and she wastes no time spreading the butter and drenching them in syrup, "This is quite true. I will certainly look this up, as I said. Information is something that is quite important to me, and so… yes, that is a handy thing." She starts cutting at the pancakes. "I have gained new property, but it is hard to get to, but it gives me connections I did not have before… do you find it is sometimes hard to sift through things in this city? Like almost everything is fake?"

Donna lifts a shoulder, slicing off a portion of breaded mead and gravy. "In all honesty, investigation is rather a talent of mine. It's simply a matter of knowing how to understand when it'd be in someone's best interest to lie, and knowing how to…. convince… them otherwise. Often it becomes sort of a game; will I learn what I need to know before or after he wets himself, for example."

Kalindi laughs at that and then says, "I think I would like you if I did not worry about turning my back towards you." She continues on her pancakes and headshakes, "I am often good at investigation, just because I like to stay connected, but it is not a skill of mine to sift through the fake and the real. Back in the otherworld, I can take for granted that everything is truth. It is just that easy."

Donna snorts. "Then you've yet to learn the hardest lesson of dealing with such creatures," she mutters sourly. "The Fae are *artists* at couching lies within truths. Never, ever attempt to speak with a Fae, Kalindi, without *ensuring* that they are bound to tell you the absolute truth. And even then, a clever one will choose his words so carefully that nothing he speaks is a word of lie, and yet sends your logic in precisely the wrong direction."

"Oh. /That/ is something that I am familiar with, at least," says Kalindi, sighing softly, "And yes, it is annoying and can be diabolical… but at least I can take it to be true to the letter, if not the spirit." She shakes her head and then says, "The Fae are not creatures I have much experience with, but I am wary of them."

"Smart thinking," Donna mutters. "Best to have as little to do with them as can be managed." Shaking her head, she digs back into her meal in silence, for awhile. "So. We've accord, then? No hostilities, until and unless we find ourselves at cross purpose?"

"Yes, we have an agreement, no hostilities, until and unless we find ourselves at cross purposes," says Kalindi, nodding once at Donna, and then turning to her own meal to enjoy it.

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