I figured I had three options.  I could play stupid and probably get kicked for it later.  I could play knowledgable and probably get kicked for it later.  I could play it straight, and, well, there would be a whole lot of fonging going on pretty much no matter which choice I used.  The differences were subtle.  One of my fellows had done a lot of study on the fey, so I had a good idea of how to negotiate.  Alas, a lot of it seemed to boil down to, “But, they’re capricious, so no promises.”  I don’t like “no promises” as an answer, so it might be good to just blindly follow the, “I’m just a dumb mortal,” route (“Me E. You sparkly.”), and hope I was actually clever enough to not end up in some bad place.

I could just brazen it out and face what was coming to me.  I never claimed to be smart, right?

“Oh.  Well.  You’ve found him, then,” I said.  I like to think my inherent lack of suaveness…suavity? Um.  That it was in deliberate reaction to the kind of soft glow filter the fey put on things, anyway.  I’m crude edges.  One thing this fellow of mine had said (his name was “Thomas,” and I may speak of him more in the future) was that only practitioners come across at all three-dimensional to their kind.

Crude edges.  Like an axe.

She smiled.  I had half-expected her to titter, which proves that my prejudices are quite close at hand.   I tried not judging the smile because it was another pathway of opportunities I couldn’t navigate without a trustworthy guide.  Either it was deliberate, and it was meant to look like a mortal smile, or it was a natural reaction (but I wasn’t sure of it) and was it too wide, or too short in duration or…  A man could go mad trying to wend his way through the labyrinth.  But I will guess that I amused her because I wasn’t blasted to bits on the spot.  See?  Easy as cake.  Pie.  Bacon.  Whatever.

“Good,” she said.  “I was looking for you.  You are the doctor?  Of places in-between?”  She made a hand motion kind of like opening something.  I was uncomfortable with the phrase.  I had a feeling that her words were being chosen deliberately and had additional meanings I was going to be kicked for in the future.  In fact, I felt a headache coming on already.

“I close simple portals to this world, if that is what you mean,” I corrected slightly.  Correcting meant I felt like I was a little more in control of the game.  Linguistics aren’t my forte, but I could habla some kind of rudimentary patois, I hoped.

“Indeed,” she said, and the look she gave me I recognized from other women.  It was some sort of reminder against either bragging or modesty, but I’m not always sure what side of the coin it represented.

Women aren’t my forte, either.

“I have a ‘simple portal’ that needs closing by one anchored to mortal blood.  You will be compensated.”  She paused just long enough.  “It should not hurt you.  We leave now.”

Thomas suggested they couldn’t actually read minds as their own were too alien.  Still, she had hit some of my concerns.  Of course, “should not,” was a “no promise,” of a similar colour each uisge.

“I am contracted to this mortal labor,” I tried speaking the speech trippingly on the tongue.  “I may not cross that boundary as a matter of honour.”  I hesitated before offering a stronger principle, like, “Ability to feed myself,” but it seemed to fit.

“This is work a simulacrum could do,” she said.  She reached out faster than I could stop her and pulled a hair from the top of my head.  With a quick knotting, she unfolded -something- and scared me half to death.

I was sitting at the desk.  A call came in and my double picked it up, convincingly.  In fact, I think it might have done it better.  I’ve been at jobs where I thought a trained monkey could do the work, but never had I thought, “So easy my simulacrum could do it.”  I mean, I could see the differences between this creation and myself, but no one looks at temps that hard.

And she did it without words, time, or any of the principles of illusion or mindbending magic I had learned.

“Scared” covered it, but that’s because I’m not good at the talky thing.

“Is your honour satisfied?” she asked, impatiently.

I nodded.

“Then let us depart.”  And with that, she opened a portal right in front of me, pushing me towards the abyss.