First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Unlikely Allies
Mélanie caught her breath as the two horses provided the distraction she so badly needed. Bless these beasts. She spat out the Workings she needed as quietly as she had ever managed to speak and as quickly as she’d ever strung words together, the sounds of the two brutes shouting at the horses and the sounds of the jangling harness covering over not one but five Workings.
She leaned against the side of the horse nearer her, hoping that he wouldn’t get annoyed and push her off. Her light-footed Working was starting to fail her. She had to get back into the wagon or be left behind. And her invisibility Working was probably in need of some touching up, too.
But if everything she had just spat out did anything like she wanted it to do, it would still look like the horses were doing what they were told to. But those horses no longer had bits in their mouths and they had a strong suggestion in their heads that they should go back home.
It didn’t take a lot to suggest go back home to a horse anyway, so that had been the easy part. The hard part was the illusion Workings and the general sense of “everything is okay” that she’d tried to impart on the brutes.
She didn’t want everything to be okay for them. She wanted them frightened and hurting. But that wasn’t her job. Her job was to get Jasper home safely.
She slipped back into the wagon before the last of her light-footed Working wore off and snuggled up tightly in such a way that the brutes would really have to be looking to see her – right under the bench. Then she closed her eyes and listened to the horses’ content clomp-clomp-clomping.
There wasn’t a way, not right away at least, to tell if her plan was working. The horses would keep clomping along no matter what, unless they found something particularly tasty. The brutes driving the car weren’t supposed to notice anything wrong, although if they did, that would tell Mélanie that something had gone wrong with her plan. The road still looked like a road, no matter what. She had no idea where the brutes were planning on going, just that they’d been headed loosely in the same direction as Jasper’s home.
She – She gagged and forced herself not to make a noise. She’d had worse than this. She’d had worse. She must have.
But one of the brutes had gas, and she had no problem at all just letting it fly. Letting it rip right into Mélanie’s face.
If the situation hadn’t been so possibly dire, she might have laughed. As it was, she wished she could do another Working. Something to clear out the air in here, maybe. Something to plug up the bungholes of these two beasts on top of her. Something to-
She fell into a familiar pattern, thinking up more and more creative and nasty ways to get revenge on the two sitting above her while being as still and as quiet as possible. She had once spent four hours with a very nice smile not arguing at all as she considered what should happen to the slaver who had owned her at the time.
“Wait.” The bigger of the two brutes shifted. “Wait, weren’t we going to go back to Chester and pick up some of that good whisky?”
Mélanie froze. Had they noticed their route had changed? Had they been planning on turning left and somehow just now noticed that they hadn’t? Chester was where Jasper had bought her. It was too far in the wrong direction, way too far, and the people there might not be friendly to Jasper even if they didn’t like the brutes.
“I mean,” the big one continued, “he’s gonna be more pliable with a little bit of hootch down his throat, right? And we want him pliable so he gives in easy. I don’t like what we had to do with the last one. I think—”
“I told you, don’t bother thinking. It just wastes everyone’s time. We’re not going to Chester with a man tied up in the back of a stolen wagon.”
“Oh.” The seat creaked and the big one shifted. Turning around, Mélanie realized, and she made herself as small as possible. “He looks cozy. But kind of boring. How long till that stuff wears off?”
“Didn’t I tell you that already? Honestly, if you weren’t my cousin—”
“You’d still need me to get stuff off the tall shelves.” The big woman seemed entirely unbothered as she turned back around. “I want whisky.”
“Once we get him settled in the house, chained up nice and good in case the thing wears off too soon, then we’ll go get you some good whisky. And some of the cheap shit for our new pet here. But we’ve got to get home first, all right? Just think — well, okay, don’t think, but imagine what would happen if we were in the middle of Chester and this one started screaming. Now, someone might think he was a good bounty and not argue with us, but you remember what happened with that woman? They shot you, remember? And they took her off our hands and we got nothing for it but three bullets lodged in your shoulder and one in my thigh.”
“So not Chester. Isn’t there anyplace else that sells whisky?”
“Not where we can risk taking a prisoner like this, no. And not good whisky. The stuff they sell in Freeville will literally rot your gut before you get a chance to piss it out. And — hunh. Woah, you stupid horses, woah. Slow down.”
Mélanie froze. What were they stopping for? Would the horses…. Would they stop? They shouldn’t. And if they did, would the woman notice? Mind magic was not her best skill.
“I said woah.” The reins jangled. “Damnit, slow up.”Want more?