10.6 Quarter

by Matt P.

Thunderous silence reigned in the room for long heartbeats as the Earl struggled without speaking, and Walter stared without speaking. Morgan gloated without speaking, which Walter thought was probably the most unsettling thing about it all. Trash talk he was used to, but there was such quiet self-assuredness in the look that Morgan gave the room that it unsettled him some. Not arrogance, just superiority.

“You’re…dead!” The Earl croaked finally, shattering the tension and making Walter let out a hearty chuckle.

“No, we don’t offer resurrection services.” Walter supplied, after the startled laugh. “That’s down the block. She is very much alive and, it seems, kneeling on your throat. And I wouldn’t threaten someone who just showed she can kick your ass down the block without trying much.”

“No…” The earl croaked, waving. “She’s…supposed to be…dead.” He explained as best he could with a knee that Walter suspected was as strong as the rest of her cutting off oxygen.

Morgan looked almost offended, and shook her head slowly. “Is that what he told you?” She asked finally. She reached down to pat his cheek, almost tenderly. “You always were a fool. No, I am quite alive. Now I’m going to let you go, and you’re going to sit in that chair—because if you don’t, I am going to pull out your vocal cords, and then you’ll have to write everything down. And that will be inconvenient to everyone.” She explained this in exactly the same tone of voice she might use to tell someone their arm was sprained, not broken, and it sent a chill down his spine. He had seen Morgan be polite, serious, playful, teasing, and even sexy. But he had never seen her be terrifying, and he had to swallow after a moment.

“We’d prefer if you just talked to us, you see.” Walter explained. “Because the paperwork I have to fill out if Morgan kills you is rather intense. But as you are not technically human…I’m actually not sure of what paperwork I’d have to fill out.” Walter mused, as he repositioned his chair in front of the violent tableau.

“A good point.” Morgan offered in that same even, clinical voice. “And I do know that within our laws, I have every right to kill a traitor—gruesomely. One of the benefits of having several human medical degrees is an increased knowledge of how to do such things.” She offered, in a way that could have been light if she had varied it at all. “But you already knew that, didn’t you. Because you’ve seen me do it.” She leaned down, to look directly in to his eyes. “You couldn’t see through my glamour before, boy, but it doesn’t matter now—who am I?” She asked, her voice crawling with dark threats—or perhaps more accurately, dark promises.

“Mab!” The Earl croaked. “The Queen of Air and Darkness. The Raven Goddess, the bringer of death.” He said it almost ritualistically, an oft repeated phrase—the Faerie equivalent of Elizabeth, by Grace of God Queen of England. “I am not your subject, but I recognize your dominion, and beg your quarter and mercy.” He said in a rush.

Morgan considered him, and in that moment Walter knew exactly what it looked like for an insect, when a human considered whether or not to crush them and snuff out their feeble little life. It was not a look that asked if it could or if it was possible—only whether it was worth the time and effort expended in the doing. Finally she stood, in a movement so fluid it almost defied belief, and took her seat again. “Unto thee I grant mercy, and the quarter of a captive taken.” She said, every bit as formulaic as his words had been. “Know that you continue to breathe at my mercy, and that if you try to run again that mercy will be expended.”

The door crashed open then, and Marshal William Alexander stood there looking in shock. “What the hell happened?” He asked, angrily. “We couldn’t open the door—didn’t you hear us shouting like madmen, Walter?”

Walter blinked, and looked at Morgan, who shook her head. “No, he couldn’t. I kept the door locked, and I kept the room quiet, so that we could come to an understanding.”

“You can’t do that. You can’t do any of this, Dr. Winters—it’s against the law, and we can’t use anything he says here now.” Alexander continued, his voice only growing in the red heat of anger as he went on. “If we took him to court-”

“What court, Marshal?” Morgan challenged, crossing her legs again. She gestured to the Earl. “Whatever identity this man has, if he has even bothered with one when glamour will do to get him where he needs to go, is fake. He is pure sidhe—he was not born in this world. He has no social security number, no citizenship, and I daresay the 10th Circuit will offer our friendly District Attorney no guidance on what to do with him.”

“We are the police, Morgan. We have to do things a certain way.” Alexander protested, although his glare was lessening in the face of the complete lack of response from the good doctor.

“And that way so far has been fine, except that it never found anything. Now that we have found some things, they are raising the stakes.” Morgan said firmly. “These are not people that will be defeated with tax evasion and racketeering charges, William.” She continued, her voice softening. The Earl rose and shuffled, painfully, back to his chair and sat with a groan. “And these people are not subject to your laws.”

At that, Walter shook his head. “I don’t like that one bit.” He said, with a sound that was as much a sigh as a laugh. “Oh don’t get me wrong—that High School is not one I’d like to see attacked. Or any High School. But at the same time…I don’t know. I don’t know how to deal with any of this. But we can debate philosophy later while thoroughly drunk, which may be how most of the laws in history have been made. But for the moment I think our guest is going to talk.” He gave a pointed glance to the Earl at that. “Right?”

The Earl nodded, slowly. “I’ve recognized her right to command me, and asked for quarter. I will talk, as much as I can.” Walter raised an eyebrow at that, and looked over to Morgan expecting her to look dark as a storm on those words—but she looked unsurprised.

“Are you under a geas to not divulge your master’s plans?” She inquired, drawing another pained nod from him—although it was becoming clear whatever damage Morgan had done was healing. He didn’t even have any bruises, which seemed thoroughly cheating.

The Earl nodded. “If I reveal it, if I even can reveal it, then I would be burned from the inside out, and I have no desire to do that. But I can tell you some, and because of the wording answer some questions—so long as you keep to your word.”

That made Morgan give him a look that was dark and stormy, and promised all sorts of unpleasant things. “I have given my word, my Lord—do you challenge my word here, in front of witnesses?” She asked in a tone as deadly and serious as a snakebite. When the Earl shook his head, she relaxed and leaned back in her chair. “So, what is daddy dearest doing?”

The Earl squirmed a little bit, in the way that a person will do when they have to consider their words carefully and on the fly, before he met her eyes. “What he plans will have great consequence for the world in general—and will likely destroy this Border.”