Halloween I.F – “Uncanny Valley” Day 21
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Tam needed to eat breakfast anyway, since today was going to be pretty busy. And it would be pretty rude to just run out on Lithway after the night they’d shared.
“Sure,” he said. “If you’re ordering from a deli or diner, just…some kind of eggs and meat mix? I’ll probably need the protein. I’ll be out there in a minute, I just need to email some people about brother things.”
Lithway blew him a kiss. “Certainly, dear,” they said, and vanished back around the bookshelf, just a shadow drifting between them.
Tam dug his computer out of his bag and wrote some notes to himself as he tried to plan the day. It’d probably be good to have some idea of what he could ask from his potential allies, if he was going to start to pull an action plan together.
At breakfast, he could discuss a little more what Lithway might be able or willing to help him with, he figured. They were close enough now that maybe Lithway had a way of getting him in and out—if nothing else, they could manipulate their own shadows pretty efficiently. Though, of course, that would require an infiltration plan sometime outside of the early evening hours of their performance.
When he met with the weredogs, he’d have to assume that their keen noses might help him track his brother’s exact location. Their ability to transform at will might help there. Sahil had said the weredogs weren’t available at night since they couldn’t control the transformation then, but Tam wondered if needing them in dog form rather than human might help there. Then again, it was possible the full moon had other effects that might make them unavailable at night entirely.
The building itself, when he found it, would probably be under some kind of magical warding, whether to keep people out, or to alert Istem when people entered. Maybe he could ask Antoine if there were any charms he could get to keep them from going off. He figured Antoine likely knew Istem’s spells better than anyone, and there was no reason to think that he’d be geased to keep from helping this way. They could probably be designed to get through anyone’s charms.
Although he had yet to talk to the lawyer, ideally, some sort of legal summons could be a way to get her out of her house. Maybe the vampires could do something about that too, if he acted at night instead of the day—hard to say. Either way, he knew he had to look for opportunities to get her out of the house. Getting to his brother would be significantly easier if Istem herself wasn’t there. Though, on the other hand, he knew he couldn’t postpone a confrontation indefinitely, since she knew where his family lived. But anything that bought him more time would be good, too.
Then there were the vampires… Tam wasn’t sure yet what to do with them, if anything, which sort of stalled out his planning. They sounded a little volatile, but he knew they were one of the most powerful forces in the area. If nothing else, they might have information, and at best, they could be an incredible power to bring to bear against her. But if he did decide to get the weredogs involved in the extraction, things might get unpleasant. Worst case scenario, his allies might start fighting when he needed them the most.
Tam shook himself. He’d planned as much as he could this far in advance, he decided. He sent Sahil and Jared emails that he’d meet for lunch and dinner respectively and would like to arrange the meetings, and sent Antoine a message asking about the charms.
As he got dressed, Antoine replied pretty much at once—it seemed like he’d been waiting for something like this. No problem, I should be able to whip something up. I can’t guarantee she’s not changed the specifics on me, but I know the generalities really well. I’ll be in my shop until 5 (though I can close up if you need me to) so stop by there any time today. I also live over it but I’ll need to know in advance if you wanna come to my place after hours!
Tam finished dressing just as he heard Lithway at the room’s door, receiving the order. The lady running the delivery sounded starstruck, and Tam couldn’t blame her. He still couldn’t entirely believe he’d found himself in this situation.
He waited behind the shelves until the door closed—no point in ending up in the tabloids for this—then headed out to join Lithway. They had cleared a spot at their desk for Tam and handed him the delivery bag as he approached.
“It’s nothing fancy,” Lithway said with a false modesty, as though they’d cooked it themself. “But enjoy.”
Tam did, digging into it with voracious hunger. In between bites, he ran his thoughts past Lithway, who was resting their chin on their hand and watching Tam with an intensely curious gaze.
“Oh, certainly, like a spy? I think I could get you in and out if you wished,” Lithway said. “I could do more than that, even.”
“You did mention fisticuffs,” Tam admitted. “But I’d rather not get into a confrontation with her if I can avoid it.”
Lithway waved a hand dismissively, trailing smoke. “It’s something else. Can you keep a secret?”
“Of course I—”
“Because,” Lithway said, leaning in close, “it truly is one. I try to be very close to the chest about my abilities, you know. Many of the things I can do would, if it got out, make things more difficult for my kind, and also damage my reputation as an actor.”
Tam blinked. “Damage your reputation? Listen, Lithway, I promise, that’s the last thing I want to do. And… if it can help my brother, I’ll swear on anything you want me to swear on.”
“Swear on your life,” Lithway said. “If you’re not willing to do so, I understand, and won’t hold it against you in the slightest, because that’s a very deep oath to make. But I’m very serious about this. I care for you quite a bit already, dear boy, but if you told anyone, however close you think you are to that person, accidentally or deliberately, it would be the worst betrayal of my trust to you, and I would come for that life. So: will you swear on it?”
Tam looked at Lithway, wide-eyed. Although they’d said something so dire, the warmer smoke of their eyes was churning with an apparent excitement, and a grin lingered around the corners of their lips.
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[Completed Parts: Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Epilogue | Author’s Notes]
The question you have to ask yourself here is: can you keep a secret from Ash? If your brother asks how you got in to rescue him, are you going to be able to keep Lithway’s secrets, even from him? Tendencies towards drama aside, this doesn’t seem like it’s a small thing it’s trusting you with; remember, practically nobody knows anything about the shadowfolk. Give that the respect and consideration it deserves, and make sure you’re prepared to bear the weight of it.
If you’re sure the answer is yes, then there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to go for it. The more you let Lithway help you, the better your chances, right? And in the end, the important thing is to get Ash back.
Think on it for a bit; really think on it and decide how well you can keep that secret from Ash — and also consider how it affects your plans. If what he reveals is a gamechanger, you’ll need to be able to effectively lie around what he’s doing to your other allies to accommodate shifts in your plan, or at least be very confident in your ability to keep closemouthed if someone (particularly a supernatural being, particularly supernatural beings with compulsive powers…) presses you on it.
On the other hand, consider that it might be possible to just, you know, get someone to geas you not to talk about it ever as an extra safeguard, just like Antoine is geased not to talk about some parts of Istem’s business. Hard to say if you’d be able to get THAT done before meeting up with vampires/weredogs/etc again, though, and hard to say what the cost for that service might be.
TL;DR, it’s probably a good idea to swear and let him tell you, and the pros seem to outweigh the cons, but take a minute to really think on it before you make a decision, and also consider contingency plans.