Title: The Perfect Future
Fandom: Magelight Chronicles
Characters: Icefeather, the Unspoken
Warnings: Talk about sex, slaughter, and slavery, none of it explicit.
Notes: I’ve not written anything in … weeks, at this point. Figured it was time to shake up and see what fell out. Morningstar’s a grotesque creature with no remorse, but Icefeather likes him anyway. Unfortunately for them, not everything is as it seems.
Morningstar had not, as those who lived long enough to hear his name tended to presume, been named for the demon lord who also held the title, but rather for the very large bludgeoning weapon of the same name. It suited him well, Icefeather reflected, watching his significantly heftier ‘sibling’ polish his razor-sharp teeth with a lemon and a rag. Morningstar was the kind of guy you wanted in front of you in a fight, if only because once he got started, he was the last thing you wanted behind you. The lords took him out with the Hunt, sometimes, even though the eldest of the Sisters, the Mistress of the Hounds, objected to using the Unspoken that way. Ice almost objected, himself, except that the only part Morningstar didn’t like was that they kept him collared and so often stopped him from finishing what he started.
"Hand," Ice said, setting down his glass of wine and reaching out to untangle one of Morningstar’s scattered red braids from another. He’d no intention of losing fingers.
Morningstar grinned, an unsettlingly wide expression that opened his face a little too far. "Why do you bother?"
Ice shrugged. "Pearle’s mad about you. Gotta be worth something."
"Pearle? Really?" Morningstar looked completely confused. "How can you tell?"
"Ahh, c’mon, she comes back, sometimes. And even when she doesn’t, she talks about you. Always sounds a little sad, though, when she talks about you and me." Ice started unweaving the long bits of Morningstar’s hair, getting ready to rebraid those scattered strands.
"You and —" Morningstar stopped and considered that for a long moment. He stuffed the quarter lemon in his mouth and washed it down with Ice’s wine. Hooking his foot around the leg of the table, he leaned back to look up at Ice. "What she sees is never wrong, yeah?"
"We’re never sure how far out she’s seeing, but everything we’ve recorded that could be matched to recent events has happened. There’s weird shite in there, yeah — those things that none of us have even heard of — but what she says that starts in the now or in the past? She’s …" Ice shook his head. "I’ve never known her to be wrong. Come on, she even knows when Mocker’s in the room, no matter who he is."
"That’s completely disgusting." Morningstar looked unconvinced.
"Morny, d’ye think I don’t know that? For one, ye’d bite my tongue off, and that’d just start a war." Ice shook his head and kept working on the hair in his hands.
"Oooh, getting tart! I’d be too worried your blood’s poison to get that close to it… I’ve heard you and Nox talking. Can’t be good for anyone, that." Morningstar stuck out his tongue and pulled his face into a mask of disgust, that was only slightly ruined by the vicious gash of his mouth.
"I assure you, Noctis hasn’t done anything to my blood." Ice grinned down, saucily.
Morningstar sat up and turned around. "Lady’s blood! With… with Nox? You and …" He looked faintly ill.
Icefeather laughed. "No, not like that. Can’t say I haven’t been sorely tempted, though… all that long, black hair, that smooth white skin… That’s beauty. Not like us." He paused. "Not to say I’m not pretty cute, but you?"
"Oi, at least I’m honest!"
"Yeah, Morny, you act like one of the hounds, and they treat you like one — except worse, because they won’t let you eat your prey. Of course, if you did eat your prey it’d become my problem, so maybe they really don’t like me better, or I’d have more work." Ice snatched his wine back and took a drink.
"You really scare them, don’t you?" Morningstar asked, shaking his head. "I’ll never understand. You just talk to the dead…"
"And you make the dead, but neither of us is Noctis, who is the dead and scares them more than either of us. But, we all spook them, down here. It’s why they keep us hidden away."
"Nox ain’t dead. He still eats and sleeps." Morningstar flipped his hand. "Besides which, I can see him."
"Which one of us talks to dead men for a living? Me. I’m telling you, he’s dead. He’s been dead longer than we’ve been alive. Eats and sleeps? Yeah, those are habits. They keep him sane. He’s been around longer than the Master and longer than the Queen, may the old gods preserve her. The things he just says? Completely relevant and the sorts of things I’ve only seen written, in the histories," Ice hissed. "He wears no clothes, never complains of the cold — and he is ice cold, all the time — and he talks about having been a childhood friend of the last king of Mercia — and to have looked just the same as he does, now."
"And you believe him? He’s just as full of bloody-mouthed shite as the rest of us. He’s her majesty’s poisoner. He’s supposed to be deathly and mysterious. I’ve never heard of a poisoner who wasn’t!" Morningstar leaned back against the edge of the table and picked up another chunk of lemon to gnaw at.
"Yeah, Morny, but have you ever heard of a royal poisoner in this house who wasn’t Noctis?" Ice cocked his head and looked completely satisfied he’d made his point.
"That I surely haven’t, but I’m not bookish like you."
"And that’s why you’re a dog to the eyes upstairs."
"Some of those upstairs have a fondness for this dog, just the way he is." Morningstar barked and looked smug.
"Yeah, but is it good?" Ice asked, sceptically.
"Good, bad, what do I know? They’ll not take off the collar. They just bare their arses and command me, and I stop when I’m done. I’ve had no complaints, and I’ve none to give." Morningstar shrugged. "Almost makes up for never being allowed to finish a kill that matters."
"Bet they muzzle you, too, don’t they. Anything to keep those teeth away from their delicate skin," Ice muttered bitterly.
Morningstar looked away, less smug. "They don’t have to. The collar… I can’t. You think I didn’t try, at least once? They put me in with the prisoners from the Black House, once. Left the collar on, but turned off the limits, to see what I’d do."
Ice refilled his glass and handed the bottle to Morningstar. "Drink up. It’s always easier after a few."
"Thanks." Morningstar drank deeply. "Good kills, and I got to eat them, too. Bad food, sad to say. Don’t eat the Black House spies. They’re vile."
"Don’t think it’ll be a problem. I’m not in the habit of eating my enemies." Ice found the prospect rather revolting, but then, he found a lot of things about Morningstar revolting. Which didn’t explain at all why he was in here, night after night, drinking with his near-bestial brother. He really did like Noctis and Pearle better, but there was something about Morningstar that just made it impossible for him to be ashamed of … well, anything. Whatever he might’ve done, Morny had done worse, and probably in the last week.
Morningstar didn’t answer for a while, just chewed through some more lemons and stared off into the corner of the room. "So, you think Pearle’s serious?"
"When has Pearle ever not been serious? I don’t think her mind is built to be anything else." Ice took a swig of wine.
"I’m gonna regret this…" Morningstar sighed. "You want to just get it over with? She can be right, we can be done, and we never have to talk about it again?"
Ice looked at his glass and considered the proposition. "Let me go steal that bottle of Benedictine from Mocker, and you’ve got a deal. It’ll be more than wine gets us through this."
"Yeah, but go around the back way, so everyone’s chattering mouths don’t start."
"Oh, I’ll go around the back way, I will…" Ice trailed off with a grin, heading for the door behind the cabinet, on the far side of the room.
"I’ll fight you for it," Morningstar offered, as the far door clicked shut.
And in the hall, behind the other door, Noctis smiled at Pearle, eyes gleaming in delighted amusement, and Pearle very slowly grew taller, melting back out into a tall dark figure in a feathered cloak. Mocker winked at Noctis and held a finger to his lips, before he bolted back toward his room to hand over the bottle of Benedictine.