Monday, December 1, 2008

Blood is Thicker than Water: Shalimar Mixes It Up

Dalia sat in the parlor chair, her hands folded daintily across her lap as she watched Marion pace the floor. Marcus sat moodily in the corner. There were still a few red patches of skin on his usually smooth complexion that Ulysses Simpson had given him, but these were healing up almost as Dalia watched them. His clothes, of course, lacked his body’s regenerative qualities, and Marcus would have changed them, save that Shalimar had made him wear the rags a little longer so he could meditate upon his failure. Dalia could tell this galled her brother, but who was he to say no to Shalimar? Marion might try that, but Marcus was not that stupid. She glanced up at the bell pull and tried to take her mind off Shalimar’s arrival. They would probably get the tongue lashing of their lives. At least this time it would only be a tongue lashing.

“I would’ve ripped the priest’s throat out!” Marion broke the silence.

“Please be quiet,” Dalia said.

“Next time I see him, I’ll make him eat that crucifix!”

“I’ll bet,” said Marcus, sulking in his chair.

“Oh, Marion?” Dalia attempted to interrupt.

“What’s the matter, Marcus? Don’t think I could do it?”

“That’s not a very smart approach. You need to find a more covert way around the priest.”

“I guess you’re the expert. I see how well you coverted that detective guy.”

“Marion!” Dalia protested.

Marcus stood up. “You’re out of your depth, young one, tangling with me. I’ll give you ten seconds to apologize.”

“Who does your suits?”

“Take it back,” Marcus stepped forward menacingly.

“Fat chance!”

“Marion!” Dalia yelled.

Both men looked at Dalia. “Fighting among ourselves isn’t going to look good to Shalimar when she arrives.”

Marcus collected himself and looked as poised as he cold in his tattered, sooty clothes. Dalia noted, to Marcus’ credit, that he still outclassed Marion. “Dalia’s correct. But don’t try me again. I am not in the mood.”

“Yeah, well, lucky for you you’re my baby doll’s brother, or I’d have taken you down a peg or two.”

“I am not your baby doll!” Dalia muttered.

Shalimar walked regally into the parlor and surveyed the three of them in silence. It disturbed Dalia and she hoped Shalimar would break the silence soon. Shalimar went to Marcus, surveyed his clothes with disgust, and slapped him. Even Eustace flinched a little as the sound went through the room. Then Shalimar’s attention was on them all.

“This is the thanks I get for creating you all in my image. Failure! You have all failed me! How dare you fail me!” She moved from Marcus to Marion. “I will not tolerate failure! You must make amends, or I will allow others to become my companions! And I won’t describe what will happen to you.”

“Yeah, but—” stammered Marion.

“No, don’t protest. I have decided this is what will be.” She directed her attention at Dalia. “Because I have decided to be merciful today, you will all receive one more chance.”

“Thank you,” said Dalia, relief in her voice.

“Our problem,” Shalimar lectured, “is that we have all perhaps been exploring the wrong opponent. So, I feel we should shuffle. You may have noticed Benjamin’s absence. Since he did not fail me, I have already put him to work. I have sent him to the priest.”

“I could’ve taken him out!” growled Marion.

Shalimar sent him a withering look that cowed him into submission. “Marion, I personally have a major project that will need you as steward. And I expect no arguments.”



Dalia looked hopeful. “The girl?”

Shalimar nodded curtly. “The girl.”

Marcus spoke. “And myself?

“Ah.” Shalimar perched herself on the arm of his chair and ran her fingers teasingly in his hair. “Something that calls on your unique talents. The aunt. Enjoy.”

Marcus seemed satisfied. “I will. Thank you.”

Shalimar gave all of them a final look. “Do not fail me again.” She walked out as regally as she walked in, and the three of them relaxed visibly as the confrontation ended.

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