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Edinburgh, Scotland (newly part of the United Kingdom) 1710
Even though Edinburgh was emerging as a banking center, its sheer population density led it to being one of the most overcrowded cities in Europe, and naturally, there was an almost innumerable amount of people living in, or near poverty. A large part of the urban center was made of tenements, and it was not simply the poorest who lived in these closely-built structures. With the wide diversity in economic status, the gap between rich and poor intensified further with the unsanitary conditions generally to be found throughout much of the overpopulated city.
Like so many other densely-populated human centers, misery was inevitable. Suffering in many forms existed, from the cruelty of a human hand, to the vermin ad diseases that traveled easily between bodies, to sheer bad luck like dying in childbirth. Many crimes were committed out of desperation, and the people who were so desperate were often themselves the victims of crimes of greed or hate. Inevitably, vengeance would be called for.
Going about as a charity worker was a surprisingly effective disguise. Clad in plain gray traveling clothes with a hat and veil, she was easily identified by the cut and modesty of her garb, as well as the modest-sized cross she had pinned to her breast. Deference to the rank Koshka masqueraded to led her to a certain leeway not afforded to a woman of propriety or gentility. Had Catholicism been more tolerated in the United Kingdom, she would have masqueraded as a nun, but the strife between Catholicism and Protestantism had culminated in the exclusion of Catholics from the line of succession to the Crown, and the firm establishment of Protestantism as the state religion.
Regardless of the popular religion though, there was always the poor and downtrodden, as well as people of wealth — for money was just as much a lure to evil deeds as lack thereof — and people would always seek redress.
Her last vengeance spree was for a young woman whose father had sold her into servitude to cover some of his debt. It was not uncommon for daughters to be sent to maid or laundress services to support their family, but much more had been asked for — or more accurately, taken from — the girl. Her father, along with the men she’d been forced to service, fell before the meat knife that Venjanca had placed in her hand, and the next day there were stories of a demon haunting the neighborhood. The young woman was of course unharmed, as the demon had used her power to shield her from identification.
There were many others in the maid’s position, but the ancient laws that even such beings like her had to follow prevented magical folk from wreaking too much havoc upon the world, and even curbed their benevolence. For her to grant vengeance, her name had to be invoked, but then, it was a good thing she’d gone by multiple names, and she was not without a name in the tongues of the Isles.
The demon who had been known as Ekdisiki, Venjanca, Koshka, and now Aicheamhail, was the image of piety as she strolled down the street, ignoring the scent of garbage on this warm day, and the clouds of flies that hovered over the waste thrown from the windows of the buildings that lined the streets and alleys. Hands folded into her sleeves, her pace was brisk.
Though Puck normally kept to the peacefulness of the countryside, sometimes, going into town became necessary. Or, if nothing else, it provided for amusement one could rarely find amongst goat-herders and their ilk. Floating over the crowd unseen, he marveled at the displays below. He couldn’t understand how the humans allowed their kin to descend into such abject poverty. Even amongst the Fair Folk, with all their trickery and backbiting, they still took care of their own.
He sensed a magical aura that was almost as familiar to him as his own, and a slow grin stretched across his lips. Here, in Edinburgh, that far west? It was a surprise… but not at all unpleasant one. It did not take him long to track her down, and looked over the people milling about along the street, narrowing his eyes as he looked for a familiar face. That is, if she’d chosen her usual human appearance.
He did a double-take when he figured out that the somberly-garbed woman with her face hidden under the brim of her hair making a brisk pace was the woman he was looking for. He trailed after her for several minutes, watching as she tossed a coin to a woman begging, a grubby-looking infant at her breast. She said several words to the woman before making a sign of benevolence. Whatever it was she said, the woman frowned, weeping as she clutched the coin in her fist. Likely from some firmly-worded advice, but then the vengeance demon wasn’t known for honeying her words.
A vengeance demon doing charity? Puck mused. Well, it was nice to know that somewhere inside of the hot-tempered demon was a soft touch.
When she turned into a poorly-lit alleyway, pendik escort he alighted beside her and let himself be visible. He’d taken on the glamour of a mortal man with sandy blonde hair, and clothing that was somewhat shabby, fitting in with the general fashion and class level of this area.
“Hey, you,” he murmured happily. “Nice hat.”
Without missing a beat, she kept walking, and he maintained her pace, keeping at her sides unless he had to duck around a pile of garbage, or a person out and about.
“Yes. It’s all the rage in London and Dublin.” she replied lightly as she regarded him. “And what’s a pretty thing like you doing in a place like this?” she asked.
“Just people-watching. Though now I’m focused on one person in particular,” he smirked, winking at her, “So you’re up to date on the fashions in England and Ireland, but you decide to come out here, and you even called me pretty! Did you miss me?”
“I’ve already been to London and Dublin, and other places. Quite a time for the Isles. And of course, in all that turmoil, plenty of people here needing vengeance,” she commented, sidestepping his question.
“Yeah, it looked like you were administering out some vengeance. No, wait,” he cast a sidelong glance her way, “that was food, and money. All your time among people make you grow soft, Venjanca?” He was teasing, of course, and lightly nudged at her side with the tip of his elbow.
“Retribution is meted upon people who deserve it. Little children don’t. It’s not their fault they have parents who would rather spend money on alcohol instead of food, or keep breeding like rabbits even if they can’t afford the children they already have,. It’s common sense, really.” She huffed and rolled her eyes, “And what have you been up to? Swapping human babies for fae babies?” she teased back.
She seems to be in a relatively good mood, Puck mused. If anything, she almost actually seemed happy to see him.
“Nah,” he waved the comment off dismissively. “I’m more the baby-eating type. They’re so soft and juicy. You know how it is.”
“That’s funny. Out of the two of us, I’m sure that others would agree I’m the one more likely to eat babies,” she shot back.
“Yeah, probably,” he quipped back, winking. Of course, both of them knew very well he that neither of them ever engaged in the horrendous pursuit of stealing and consuming babies.
“So you didn’t come to a city jam-packed full of people just to cause mischief? Goodness knows plenty of people around here could use some cheering up.” She shook her head. “Humans can create such putrid shitholes sometimes.” She wrinkled her nose a bit as they passed by the open door of a tenement that looked as if it might collapse at any moment, hearing the crying of babies and the arguing of adults from within.
“Well I’ll do that when I’m here too. Just a matter of finding some people that it’ll actually cheer up. So many of these folks are so down that a bit of mischief can end up breaking them,” He shrugged, kicking a stone down the street. “But when I find some folks that actually have it together and are still in need of some levity… well, you know what happens next.”
“Oh, believe me, I know. Your reputation precedes you, Goodfellow.” There was a legless man begging in the street. Koshka dropped a coin in his hat as she passed by, making the sign of the cross, which was ironic given her origin. “Still, this place is… interesting. It’s amazing how little common sense some of these people have.” A drunk man staggered out of one of the taverns, and from the looks of his clothing, appeared as if he spent all his wages on booze and nothing else.
“Some of it’s lack of sense. Some of it’s the times. People are desperate. When you’re desperate, it’s easy to just give up,” Puck sighed, sounding more serious than usual. “It’s still human weakness, but it’s rooted in more than ignorance.”
“Yes, of course. There’s also greed and cruelty.” She waved her arm. The upper classes and much of the clergy do their part in keeping the peasants poor and ignorant. But that’s nothing new, is it?” Some things had never changed since the dawn of civilization. “Course, there’s only so much vengeance I can wreak at a time. Cosmic laws and all that.” Puck was just as bound by these laws as his demonic counterpart, so he could only do so much mischief, or so much good with his magic. It was a way of keeping things in balance.
“Right. Stupid balance,” he grumbled, kicking the stone again. “You all tapped out on vengeance right now? I need to take a little break from mischief-making and could certainly use some company.”
She smiled. “Company? Are you sure it’s not just an excuse to try to get a peek up my robes?” she replied glibly.
“That hadn’t been the idea. But if you’re offering a look up your robes,” he shifted a bit closer, “I’m not about to turn that down.”
“Well, you caught me in a good mood this time around. So I’m willing t tolerate your company, maltepe escort at least for a bit. Is there anything you had in mind?”
“Well now my mind’s stuck on the whole getting a peek beneath your robes thing…”
She gave him a light elbow to the side. “Well, I suppose I can accept blame for that. You know, I’m getting tired of the smells of this place. So what do you say we go somewhere a bit fresher and cleaner?”
“You suppose. It’s totally your fault, being so beautiful and all,” he teased, smiling softly. He offered her the crook of his arm. “Shall we?” She glanced at his arm for a moment before meeting his eyes and hooking her arm through his.
Winds blew, light flashed and in a mere moment they were standing in a field far from civilization, deep into the wild heaths of Scotland, A tree dotted the clearing here and there, and she heard the call of birds above the bubbling of the brook that ran past them.
“Will this do? Or did you have something else in mind?” Slowly, he slid his arm from hers, reluctant to break the contact.
“No, actually, this is a very welcome change.” She took a deep breath. She wasn’t a nature demon, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy Puck’s domain. With a sigh of relief, she took off her hat, welcoming the breeze on her neck. “Mmm. That’s much better.”
“That’s right… take it off,” he teased, grinning impishly as he nodded at her.
She smirked at him before taking off her boots and stockings, setting them aside and dipping her toes into the water. This was one of the streams that ended up feeding into the river that passed through Edinburgh. The crystal purity she saw here would in due time, become muddy and brown, carrying garbage along its currents. She picked up her skirt a little, enjoying the cool stream. It had been a warm day — not the best for wearing an extremely modest woolen robes or veil.
Puck was into the water quickly, his glamour gone. The trickster was shirtless, shoeless and in baggy, green-brown breeches. He dropped into the stream with just enough impact to splash her lightly. “I like it here. Far enough from people for some real peace and quiet.”
She nodded. “Sometimes I wonder why I bother with this.” She gestured to her outfit. “Humans are very interesting creatures. But so bloody annoying sometimes,” she remarked. “Their arguing over whose church is better… I’m sure that if Martin Luther could see what was happening, he might have reconsidered the 95 theses,” In response to the splashing, she kicked some water at him.
“Well if you’re that unsure about it, you should take it off,” he teased, giggling, then shrugged. “Can’t blame me for trying.” He batted his eyes at her.
“We’ve been doing this dance for what, a thousand years. I’ve come to know you well, Puck, and what to expect for you. So I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.” she grinned.
He grinned back. “Well then, are you going to take it off, or what? Dancing’s a lot more fun when you’re naked anyway.”
“Come now, Puck. You should know me well enough by now to know I’m not going to just do that and make it easy for you. This is the most I’m going to do.” She lifted the hem of her skirt a bit, adjusting her robe as she redid her belt so that the hem wouldn’t drag n the water, giving Puck a glimpse of ankles and calves. “That should be enough for you, little imp.” She wouldn’t admit it out loud but she enjoyed his teasing and flirtations, at least when she was in a receptive mood.
“No such thing as ‘enough’,” he snickered, eying her legs lustfully. “So, what you’re saying is you’re just playing hard to get?”
“Playing hard to get implies that eventually you’ll get what you want. Which I have no intention of giving you,” she replied, and though she sounded firm, there was the faint twinkle in her eye that she was unable to hide.
“Talking like that isn’t gonna make me stop trying,” he smirked, crossing his arms over his chest. His foot kicked out quickly, splashing her a bit more forcefully than before.
She responded with a kick of her own, almost falling in the water as she did so, since she didn’t do this sort of thing often while Puck was comfortable in any natural element.
Puck giggled, kicking more water her way. He shifted to the left then right, playing at dodging splashes. Then, bounding forward, he tackled Koshka down into the water. It wasn’t deep, and he was off her after just a moment, laughing on the shore.
“Imp!” she exclaimed, though she wasn’t as angry she would have normally sounded. The cool water was a welcome change to the heat and humidity, “I’m going to kick your ass for that!” she said, shaking her fist at him as she got to her feet, the wool now heavy against her body. She added in several other colorful threats as she wrung her skirt.
“Oh, tell me how you really feel,” he teased, sitting up and dipping his feet back in the water. “You look nice all wet,” he added, grinning and playfully kartal escort quirking his eyebrows.
She rolled her eyes. “Have you ever worn wet wool? That shite is heavy.” She looked down at it for a moment before deciding to remove it. She saw Puck’s eyes light up as she started, knowing he hoped to see her naked. His pants now clung to him since he’d gotten himself wet too, clinging to his legs and other parts, giving her more than a little hint of his endowment. Not for nothing did he carry a reputation as an endowed lover.
Under her habit, she had on an ordinary linen chemise, and since this was wet, it clung to her as well. Given her garb, the shift was longer than what one would expect, and of a finer quality, the thin fabric hugging her breasts and outlining her nipples. She regarded him with a small smirk, placing her hands on her hips.
“See,” he gestured to her with a grin, “you look even better in less clothes. Don’t know if you should get naked though. At that point, I just wouldn’t be able to control myself.” Puck ran a hand down the front of his pants slowly and firmly, letting her appreciate the show.
She raised an eyebrow. “Self-control isn’t one of your strong points, we both know. So I guess I’ll do you a favor and keep on my clothing,” she teased. She was unable to stop herself from glancing at what Puck was doing for several long, lingering moments before managing to tear her gaze away. “I don’t suppose if I wave this cross in front of you, it’ll make you go away?” she teased as she unpinned the pewter ornament from her robe, both of them knowing very well that religious icons did absolutely nothing to him.
“No such luck. Sorry,” he teased, the movement of his hand finally stopping. He had the hint of an erection beneath the pants, and bulged against his leg. “And come on. You don’t really want me to go away, do you?”
“Well, like I said, you caught me in a good mood. So we can have a nice sit-down and talk about Jesus and all. Open your heart and let him in.” she said, placing her hands together in a praying position, cross just visible as it dangled from its bit.
“I’m sure we can come up with something better to talk about. Unless you’re just trying to role-play with me. Have me corrupt the sweet, innocent earthbound angel of God and ravish her alongside the creek,” he replied.
At that, she let out a warm, hearty laugh, which was a rare sound from the usually dour and bitchy demon. “And what would you be, Satan? With big horns and all? I’ve also heard he’s also very endowed.” she joked. She kicked some water at him again.
“I’d be me,” he scoffed. “As if the trickster Puck has never seduced anyone. You’ve heard the stories.” Puck licked his lips suggestively, letting the water splash against his chest.
“Believe me, trickery and mischief are not the only things you’re known for, Goodfellow.” she replied, wiggling her eyebrows. She waded through the water, approaching him, placing her hand on his chest… before she pushed him into the water, grinning down at him. “Turnabout is fair play, after all.”
Puck giggled, kicking water her way before floating up out of the creek. Once again he dived at her, this time rolling the two of them across the tall grass along the creek. He landed looking down at her and grinned suggestively. “Gonna toss me back into the water?” he teased, tucking a few strands of Koshka’s hair behind her ear.
“That’s generally what one does with fish they don’t want, eh?” Koshka snapped back as she looked up at him, twirling one of his long forelocks between her fingers. “Though I’ll say you do smell much better than a fish.” She had never admitted it to him, but she liked the way he smelled, of flower-streaked meadows, and deep, ancient forests, and the earthy smell of bogs. Much better than the smell most humans had, for sure.
“I’d hope so,” he wrinkled his nose. Leaning down, he inhaled, his eyes half-lidded. “You smell pretty nice too,” he murmured, his lips brushing against her neck with each syllable. She let him enjoy her scent for a moment, before lightly pushing him away, causing him to tumble across the grass. “Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you.”
“It’s because you’re into me,” he sat up in the grass, crossing his legs. “You hide it sometimes, but I can tell. I’m perceptive like that.”
“Oh., now you’re an expert in women, huh? I suppose having all these lovers makes you think you know so much about the female species, huh?” She sat up, crossing her arms, smirking faintly. “Come now, Puck. After a thousand years, I’m still saying no. I’m pretty sure that means I don’t like you.”
“If you didn’t like me, you wouldn’t be here,” he grinned. “And there are no experts on women. I’m just good at telling when one has a crush on me. How do you think I end up with so many lovers. I have a good eye for people that are interested. Though if you prefer something more casual,” he added, “we could just have some fun and then be on our ways.”
“Sorry, Goodfellow. But I am set against being another notch on someone’s bedpost. So my answer remains ever the same, but I’ll still talk to you about Jesus. You could become a monk or pastor. I’m sure you’d look sharp in somber colors.”
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