Home Fires

There are no more distractions, and the two readily arrive at Saffron's house after Skye gets back into her uniform.

Skye lays her weapons on the table in the hall Saffron had previously announced was where they belonged. "I need to call Julian," she says a she shrugs out of the uniform jacket she hadn't bothered buttoning when she put it back on at the castle. "But first, she continues as she moves into the library, "A drink." She pauses in the doorway and turns to smile at Saffron. "If you want to check to see if we have steaks, I'll start the grill after I report in."

"Sure." Saffron smiles affectionately at the Ranger. "Pour me something too? Nothing too strong until after I'm finished cooking, please. And let me know what he has to say about the Mysterious Visitors?"

"You got it," Skye replies warmly before stepping through the door into the library.

She pours herself a scotch, and a glass of wine for Saffron. She takes the bottle with her and sets it on the side table. The young Ranger drops into her chair and pulls out Julian's card. She looks from the card to her drink and back before muttering darkly and slamming the 100 year old scotch back like it was cheap tequila. Skye shudders briefly as the warm starts to spread through her. Ready to face things now, she refills her glass and focuses on Julian's card in one hand and the other starts unbuttoning the high banded collar of her uniform shirt.

The contact comes swiftly, Julian's mental voice sharp and hard, just like his normal voice, nothing sensed save for that. ~Who calls?~

Upon recognising Skye, the image erupts into a full blown image of Julian sitting at a desk. ~Skye. What have you to report?~

"The castle is haunted," she replies flatly, worry mild in her expression. "We saw apparitions that looked like Oberon; tall, graying, dressed in gold and green. And-" she pauses and her expression briefly shifts into something that was a mixture of fear and hope, and then it was replaced with an unreadable mask. "-the other may have been my father. He had the look of one of that brood. Black hair. Neatly trimmed beard. They just … appeared, turned and walked away. But they vanished again as quickly as they appeared."

Julian gives her an odd look. ~If almost anyone else were saying that, I would assume they were attempting a joke at my expense. I assume you've told Random?~

Skye nods, and slips into the mental conversation instead of speaking out loud. She preferred to speak, but since he was doing it…

~Yes, and Fiona. Saffron examined the locations of the appearances and said it almost looked like Pattern energy, but it wasn't. She called Fiona after the first one, and Fiona told her Merlin had reported seeing similar things that he thought were Pattern constructs, but she wasn't so sure of his conclusions. This may be the same thing, but she wanted us to investigate it. We saw the second one on our way to find Random - who told us we would probably be best served if we spent the night away from the castle. Apparently there has been several other things come to light since Court, and he has called a morning meeting for 10:00 tomorrow. The Privy Council Chambers.~.

~I am aware. It being one of the reasons I am not yet back in Arden.~ Julian's mental voice is solid and steady, as always, with no trace of any emotion. ~Did you have anything else to report?~

Skye mentally reviews the time from when she left Julian to now and shakes her head. ~No, sir. Did you need me for anything before the meeting?~

Julian shakes his head. ~No, I don't believe so. I'll contact you - the normal way - if I do. I presume you're staying with Saffron for the night?~

She bites back her first impulse, which she would have completely blame on the Scotch if it had gotten out, and nods instead. ~Yes. The only other place I have in Amber is the castle, and neither one of us is particularly interested in finding, I don't know, Brand in the middle of the night.~

~Understood. Then I'll see you tomorrow at Random's meeting. Good night.~

~You too, sir,~ she smiles. Skye passes a hand over the card and closes the contact. Blowing out a breath, she puts the card away and goes to see if the grill is needed and take Saffron her wine.

"Saffron!" she calls as she nears the kitchen. "Do I need to go to the butchers?"

"Not unless you really want to," Saffron answers cheerfully. "I was thinking mashed potatoes as a side, and dipped berries for desert?"

"Ahh," Skye smiles slyly as she hands her a glass of her favorite wine. "Will there be whipped cream and chocolate involved?"

"Definitely chocolate," Saffron replies, smiling. She sips at the wine before adding, "I'll have to check on the whipped cream. I don't remember if I actually bought more or not. I know I meant to…"

"We don't need it. It's just gilding the lily, really." Skye moves close and dips her head to nip at the curve of Saffron's neck. "Julian doesn't expect to see me until the meeting in the morning. But I should get the coals going if we're to eat before midnight."

Saffron turns her head slightly towards the brunette. "Love," she answers lowly, "you're not going to get there any faster if you keep doing that."

Pulling back, Skye gives a grin full of mischief. "Yes, Ma'am." She gives Saffron's nose a playful kiss and then saunters off towards the grill in the garden. "Bring me the steaks when they're ready."

"Minx," Saffron answers cheerfully. "Go on." She grins to herself and goes back to her preparations.

Skye stands on the patio and just enjoys the environment. Along with the roses of several varieties, and Saffron's potted orchids, there is a selection of plants and flowers from Scythia within the backyard's walls. Not everything they brought back took hold in Amber, but the frilly trumpet shaped climbing blossoms or brilliant red and silvery gray that Skye had always been particularly fond of in her mother's gardens had taken to the soil here like they had always been there. They always make her smile. For a moment she can forget all the weirdness going on and just be.

She gets the fire going in the brick grill and slips back into the bedroom from the patio to change out of her uniform into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She is back out within minutes, wiggling her toes in the thick grass and enjoying a rare cigarette while watching the dragonflies dance around the lily pond.

Saffron joins her in the courtyard shortly thereafter; she has a plate of steaks and skewers of vegetables in one hand and her wine in the other. Her shoes have vanished, apparently, since bare (and painted) toes peek out from under her skirt as she walks. She crosses to the grill, sets the plate down beside it, and then pads to her girlfriend's side. "Feeling better, sweetheart?" she asks softly.

Skye's arm snakes around Saffron's middle and she leans over to kiss her cheek. "I am now. I always forget how uncomfortable I have become in the castle until I am there again. The added drama of flaming messengers and vanishing apparitions do not help."

"Flaming messengers rarely help with anything," Saffron answers, in a tone of voice that sounds suspiciously like the voice of experience. "They aren't even terribly efficient at starting wars; it's hard to know who you're supposed to fight when the messenger can't talk and most physical symbols are flammable." She smiles wryly and wraps her own arm around Skye. "I do try to avoid the castle myself. There were too many ghosts there even before the latest batch."

"That much is certain," the Scythian agrees. She glances at the fire. "I'll put the steaks on. How's that conjuring ice coming along?"

The sorceress frowns slightly. "About as well as every other attempt to do anything with cold. Did we need ice?"

"No," Skye chuckles softly. "Sometimes scotch on the rocks sounds like just the thing. It's a dream I have. Scotch on the rocks on demand in Amber." She kisses her girlfriend again, pats her backside and goes to play with a different kind of fire.

TOCThe King's Council

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