4636/Into Fae Gutters

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Into Fae Gutters
Date of Scene: 07 January 2021
Location: The Otherworld
Synopsis: John Constantine, spider-friend.
Cast of Characters: John Constantine, Meggan Puceanu

John Constantine has posed:
In this particular part of Otherworld, things are relatively quiet. It's an echo of a particular, somewhat whispy Tuesday in early April. Circa 962, in Ireland. Looming trees reach to unseen heights overhead with trunks big enough to hide a bus behind. The cool murmuring shadows are filled with the voices of the ancient trees, speaking the wisdom of ages in the language of plants.

A modest patch of meadowland offers sunlight and warmth, though neither are visible overhead. A lazy field of wild grasses, an echo of Welsh fields in late summer adorned with flowers as if some errant farm girl had spent a day wandering about and throwing seeds at random.

It's into this peace that a siphon of power forms and snaps into a vortex. Wind blows and gasps, bandying about bands of burning heat and frigid chill. The noise of the vortex grows louder and louder as it echoes distorted sounds from within.

A flash of light heralds a man flying through the portal and missing the four-foot drop to ground. The angry note the portal emits turns out to be his scream as he leaps blindly through the gap in reality. He lands, winds himself, and rolls twice, then flings a hand at the portal behind him.

"Bi duinte!" he commands-- and the portal snaps shut, taking the howling noise with it.

Constantine sangs onto his hands and knees with a haggard sound of relief, then checks the bag in his hands. It tinkles with crushed glass as liquid drips out onto the grass below.


Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The human world is fraught with its problems. Sewage-soaked outflows into a bay, per one newspaper. Another talking about the toxic outputs of factories contributing to declining quality of forests in the Northeast. Not to mention the absurdly high parts-per-million of common pollutants in major cities causing a slew of comorbidities. These are part and parcel of a day for an activist. Meg leaves them all piled up in a textbook poking out of a battered hiking pack just large enough for the heavy, hard-covered thing.

That backpack lies ignored on a hillock of peat along with her battered trainers. Glaring red and blue stripes contrast the luminous, friendly greens of the landscape, a wealth of soft goldenrod, buttery yellows, and tender pinks. Barefoot makes it all the easier to float fifteen feet off the ground and catch a broad bough of a tree with her curled toes.

Her shirt is long enough to serve as a makeshift basket. It needs to for the collection of hazelnuts and what look like acorns from an oak-that-isn't. The baubles capped in copper fill the curved sling as she picks a hard-to-reach nut way, way up there among the honeyed leaves.

It would help if the tree didn't try wrapping its branches around her wrist, or carnivorous goblin squirrels were not threatening to defend themselves. She has to be quick. Furtive. Just stretch out while the leaves whisper calumnies, and if--


A shout. At the heart of the chaotic refrain, one of those fuzzy squirrel-like monsters dives out from the sticky foliage and snaps great big teeth at her. Its eyes blink like red jewels full of bloodlust, and they both go ass over tea kettle hurtling back. The squirrel sails for John's feet. The woman clutches her cache of nuts in her arms, laughing the whole way down until she bounces into the grass upside down.

John Constantine has posed:
Constantine yelps and scrambles backwards when the squirrel lunges at him. "Gerrofit!" he shouts, and lashes out with the heel of his foot. The goblin squirrel (squoblin?) screeches again in pain and anger, and scampers off towards the safety of a low shrubbery that's humming an atonal tune for its own amusement.

He casts a withering look at Meggan when he identifies the source of the continuing laughter. "Right, on with ya," John mutters, and gets to his feet. He makes a fruitless attempt to wash grass stains from his elbows and seat. They cling rather doggedly to his overcoat. "Bloody cheek, you fae," he adds under his breath.

He turns a slow circle, brow furrowing deeper as focus turns to confusion, then consternation. Apparently nothing looks familiar to him. From his pocket John retrieves a small compass box and snaps it open. The needle spins wildly and imparts no useful information to him at all.

"Oye!" John says, lifting his chin at Meggan. "Where's this?" A finger twitches in a circle at the meadows. "I took a little voyage, tripped over m'feet. Bad shortcut. I was trying to get to Boston, lost my way a tad, I think."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"Oh, mind them. They care to eat leather and meat if they can. Carnivorous, worse than red-caps in their way." The warning comes in a friendly way ffrom the blonde. Sitting up and checking on the sticky, hard stone nuts leaking from her shirt consumes a moment of her time as she pats the hem. A saltire waves in frozen suspension, stretched out in a bold cross. Blue and white where the rest of her definitely holds that surreal quality. Pointed ears and the true silver-gold hair that Tolkien dreamt up stick her in the Noldor-Vanyar side of his stories.

If not for the acorns and hazelnuts. These she carefully drops to the ground in a modest heap. Somewhere an angry reverberating chord rises and falls. "Oh hush. They're mine fair and square," she waves à hand at the direction it comes from. The squoblin is surely about to squabble again over nut rights. She dusts her hands. Bits and pieces of detritus tumble away, encouraged off by a breeze that isn't blowing anywhere else. The scattered seeds and oak-tuft land like honeycomb over the grasses, mostly avoiding Constantine.

She quirks an interested look his way, mostly at what he carries. "Och, no luck using that in here. It's pretty though. You might as well stow it away in your pocket. If it uses magnetic north, you've no magnetic pole to orient on." A friendly tone gilds that bright smile, too gentle to be saccharine. Her hands clasp together, arms folded. "Which Boston were you headed to? The one in Lincolnshire or the big one with the university?" That along with her lilting accent give her away somewhat. A knock on the Lake Country blended with scraps of Welsh and a whole lot more Gaelic likely place her far more in his country than looks allow. Not a Scouser or a Geordie, not at all. "The well might take you back closer to Lincolnshire, but it might be Warwickshire. In the Midlands at any rate."

A fae who knows her island geography. Well.

John Constantine has posed:
John eyes Meggan curiously. An inquisitive Fae is rare enough, but one who's actually being helpful? He relaxes his posture a bit in a way that's generally considered affable. A cynical person might think he's putting Meggan at her ease.

"Orbis Rosa," John says, holding the little device aloft again. "The Compass Rose. Wind Compass, if y'like."

"Tracks ley lines, not magnets, but the bloody thing's spinning like a pinwheel," he remarks, and examines it once more before putting it in his pocket. Meggan gets a head-to-toe again, then the surroundings, then his attention goes back to the slender blonde woman.

"Boston with the College and the bunch of Yanks who talk like they're gargling marbles luv, yes," John confirms. His hands push back his coat and rest in his trouser pockets. "I had a little run-in with some chaps who I owed a few quid and they were a little cross that I'm short on cash at the moment. I figured I'd land on a line, nip a fast trot through the Astral and walk the rest of the way, but..."

He looks around. "I can't quite suss where I'm at. Are we near Wales, then?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Fae come in all sizes. They come in all shapes. Temperaments, too, which makes a goblin different from a menehune from an inari and the things in between. Meggan falls squarely in the human-shaped and sized kind, though here, thinking too hard one way or the other plays on the immense malleability present in the Otherworld to give her a headache. The Cross of St. Andrew and British jeans aside, she could well be one of those greater dangers of a friendly hand in a place where everything is loaded with meaning and purpose.

Which explains keeping her distance still. A fellow traveler on a strange road deserves that. Her gaze moves curiously to the compass. Latin's lost on her but for Rosa. "Bit like the device River Song had then. It's pretty."

Bloody thing spinning like a pinwheel in proximity to her won't get any better all things considered. "Here? We're past the borders where anything anchors to land. You could walk five hundred miles that way and still be inside the City of London. Walk five hundred more and maybe over the Azores?" A faint frown is the only symbol of thoughtfulness about her. "Getting off a main trod or path has its dangers. The well is fairly signposted though, they get enough of the Somerset crowd this way, so there must be a link close for the West Country or at least Swansea. They get so turned about." Implications fall where they will as she bounds a few steps over the grass and barely comes in contact at all. "You won't want to be late, surely. Come round, this way, we can at least find an out. Probably not the Astral. I've not a notion how you get to there. Drugs?"

John Constantine has posed:
John swears again and takes another visual lap of the area. "Cor, I did a right number on m'self," he remarks, and looks at Meggan. "I'm so deep in the bloody weeds even the locals don't know the way out."

Hands root around in his pockets for a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter. A few quick motions and he's cupping fire in his palm to stoke the cigarette to life.

"Lemme see... Swansea, Somerset... blimey, I hope I can hitch a ride back home once I find reality underfoot again. If I remember correctly there's a fairly steady Way gate out near... Ilchester?" he hazards. "Care to make a few quid, luv? What would it cost me to hire you as a guide, see me safely to a Way back to the mortal realms?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The faint motes following after Meggan leave a few sparks of gold floating in the air. The pale shade of spring sunshine, not a fierce desert shine. "I do know my way," she corrects him easily. "At least to the main sites. You'll risk a good amount more running over the Atlantic though. Ocean runs open up the risk of falling into the water." A thought dawns, her brows lifting. "Can you swim? The tricky bits could get squidgy but I suppose I could fly you over the trouble."

A slender finger taps the corner of her mouth, that smile coming up to light things more than the cigarette does. The smoke turns purplish in the Otherworld, drifting narcotic dreams behind it. "I could use a few pounds. A fair transaction then, your payment for guidance to the Way." Very carefully stated, that, since such matters. Enforced by a weight hard to reckon on, the same iron-clad guidance that gives a certain Flag-Draped Corps its strength and empowers different magic users.

John Constantine has posed:
"I swim like a lead duck, luv, but I'd rather not hoof my way through the Fae Realms to find a Way stateside. Off to Ilchester, I'll bus up to Bristol, catch a plane and fly back if I must."

He digs in his pockets and comes up with five gold-and-silver coins. Only one of them sports Queen Elizabeth's distinctive features, and one might possibly be Queen Victoria. "Five quid to see me there, no sidebars, risky shortcuts, visitations, or friendly interruptions," he says. "And another five once I've my shoes safely on mortal soil again. The name's Constantine, by the way," he tells her. His fist closes around the coins and rolls over, arm extending so he can drop them in a welcoming palm to seal the deal.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Five coins are enough in kind, though Meggan gives them a bit of a cursory look. Money is money. As long as it isn't overtly play money, they can deal with it. "I'm Meggan. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Constantine." The exchange comes unappended of surname, but round the ears, dull the hair, and one of the better known climate activists in the English-speaking world isn't particularly hard to miss. Even if it happens to be one who currently receives a fond petting from the wildflower nearest to her. It curls around her toes and strings a faint green line up her instep, as though to offer a farewell it senses before she does.

Hand outstretched, she takes the coins, and counts, "One, two, three, four, five. Done. And fear not, I'm not like to suggest visitors. Not past here, that is. The deer round here are old. They remember too well what it was like when Doggerland lived over the waves. Not as though we sank it, but they aren't so friendly anymore." That warning is given with a worried tip of her head, but a worry not to last. It passes faster than dew on a warm day. "Let me grab my things and we can be on our way. Oh, and don't bother turning your shirt inside out or that nonsense, it really doesn't do more than amuse anyone. Just in case! Some people have odd notions."

She weaves through the grass to find her shoes and her backpack. The latter gets slung over her shoulder in a cross-body pull, the shoes knotted together by their laces through a D-ring probably meant for a water bottle. A good dusting of her hands cleans everything right up and she waves her hand to show a gap through the brush into another of those appealing fields. "This way then. I expect we'll drop out near Cadbury Castle. Then a quick jaunt to the Way for Ilchester. Unless it's in Mudford Sock. Because it would be, wouldn't it? They wander round and sorcerers are a funny lot."

John Constantine has posed:
"Mm, not my first trip into the Fae Realms, luv," John calls after Meggan while she's retrieving her things. She does get a second once-over, though this time it's a little more cavalier evaluation than flatly weighing how tricky the Fae can be.

When Meggan fiddles with her things, John relaxes a little more. Aluminum's not exactly cold iron but it isn't quite like the Fae to have anything at all to do with refined metals.

"So. Meggan," John says, repeating the name and letting it work around his mouth a bit. "You're awfully friendly towards a chap you just met. Most Fae are at least a little suspicious, and more than a few wouldn't take on honest work if it interrupted their fruit collecting. Given the dungarees, I'm assuming you're not a local?" he inquires. Hands lift when Meggan glances back, a mea culpa. "Not that I mean to intrude on your personal life, just making conversation," he clarifies, and winks with an encouraging expression.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
The road rises to meet her feet, in a sense. Even though she barely touches it, Meggan walks on the balls of her feet more than anything. The hem of her fitted jeans brush the grass or leaves that reach more than ankle high, lofting her a bit. "You never know. I'll keep the sightseeing guide bits for another time?" With a laugh, she crosses over a low fallen log whose boles are very much blinking eyes and the twisting limbs melt into the diamond-paned moss and stones left by some varied formation. While a fast pace might suit, it wouldn't be especially fair to John. All said and done, leaving him four hilltops behind defeats the purpose.

"Do you come here often? Worst pickup line in history, isn't it? But a real question, honestly," she adds, chuffed at the ridiculousness of it. Her head tilts a little and she turns, facing him, walking backwards a few steps with an absolute certainty that usually only exists for mountain goats hopping between ledges and asshole geese. Because, well, geese. That's how they go. "Oh, I figure you can stir up trouble if you want to. No point in getting prickly over something that could be, now is it? Besides, there's plenty enough nastiness out there. In old Boston or new Boston. Adding to it doesn't strike me as a good idea." A fearless smile and an open bearing might conflict with the expected dangers round the place, since the very environment reacts to whatever eddying power flows through. A few buzzing jewel-like bugs in a flowering vine some distance off look pretty, but just as happily might feast on both of them. "I was planning a snack, but you made a better deal. That so surprising? You might be rushing off to repay your debts, but suppose I had a job for you that paid out something better or mattered to you. You'd reassess, aye? Girl's got to find some way in life."

Which is a roundabout way of sorts, but she has her reasons. Coming to a thin streamlet braided around the waterways, she gestures. "See the rocks? Follow my steps exactly, if you would. This one looks plenty deeper than it really is. Drowning gates aren't pretty and kelpies might be burrowed nearby." One pale toe touches a mossy stone almost inundated and then she hops a good meter and a half to the next pointy pinnacle. "Reasonable enough to want to know. Keeps you alive, or out of a jam, maybe? Call it being the change you want to see in the world. That's my little contribution."

John Constantine has posed:
John follows the footsteps with careful obedience. He's nowhere near as graceful as Meggan-- few are, in fairness-- but despite his hard-soled shoes he is deft enough to avoid doing more than getting his ankles wet in the fast-flowing water. Evidently he's not bothered by the way it runs uphill.

"You're an inquisitive sort, aren't you?" he remarks with a grin. "No luv, I don't make it a point to wander the backwoods of the Fae realms," he clarifies. "This was sort of an... emergency landing," he clarifies. "My fault, really. Was in a hurry to get out and I shot from the hip. Could be worse, I once tried to take a shortcut through Brixton to Stratford, someone said 'Liverpool' in my ear, and next thing you know I was knee deep in a drainage ditch off the River Mersey."

"You seem to know your way about the place. I haven't quite sussed out where we are though," he admits. "Are we closer to the Summer Court, or Arctis Tor? I have some thermal socks in my pocket I should probably slip into if we're headed for chillier climes."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"Oh! That sounds chilly. The Mersey this time of year is bound to be mucky too," Meggan winces sympathetically. A step to step spring isn't necessarily easy to find, but it encapsulates a dance in bare feet unstained by the dirt. She reaches the gently sloped bank and turns, waiting for John to get ashore safely. Looking right to left strobes a look through the trees, gauging distance where mist teases. Flowing water, and the puddling sweep of her loose, long hair sways in the same motion. Cutting a route through the light woods and thornbushes might be a little more than a hike in the woods, but it at least comes with those rarer murmurs and melodic sighs. Even if the sighs are a bit too evocative if they are listened to deeply.

"How did you end up getting a murmur like that? That's awfully distracting." Crooking a grin, she waves. "Oh, don't worry too much about the Tor. They're likely galloping further north. Ever been to the Norwegian Islands? Svalbard? I imagine round about there." She waves her hand, brimming with delight. "Here is more eclipsed between them, but when you get to Somerset, the name tells you all. It's always theirs. Hence the squashiness of the whole swampland. Same on this side, too."

John Constantine has posed:
John's not in terrible condition but the sustained hike is forcing him to make a choice between keeping pace or keeping smoking. He ashes out the last gasp from his cigarette, pinches off the cinders, and puts it back in the packet for safekeeping. The ash will fade off and become part of the Realm, but anyone with a lick of knowledge knows not to leave spit or blood in places where Fae creatures sniff about.

"Been through Oslo a time or two," John offers in response to the question. "Few years back a friend asked me up there to deal with a little troll situation. Can't remember the name of the town, it was one of those Danish names that's nothing but vowels and hard consonants."

He catches up to Megann and sniffs the air a few times, clearly trying not to betray that he's slightly more winded than she is. "Pretty country, but a bit too cold and dry for my taste."

"Not that I want to spend a century or two in the wilds, mind," John adds a beat later. "The scenery's lovely but I've things afoot in the Real. Speaking of, you never did quite answer my question," he reminds her. "You certainly look faetouched and you've got a knack for talking like them. Halfling, then?" he surmises. "Which had the touch of the wilds, yer mum or your dad's side of the family tree?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
As it stands, Meggan might be able to cross one half the continent to the other with a stop for lunch and few neat vistas admired in between. She has, however, the benefit of the doubt in reading between the lines when it comes to others not quite catching along. Emotions ride people like an open novel or a brilliant movie, if given to watch. She at least keeps something of a bead on John's mood. Where he wanders is the softer path, the thinner trails through the sloping hillside. Their path heads up to a gentle ridge, probably a remnant of a faerie glacier of some kind. A string of small twinkling bells runs through one tree, another further along, making it easy to miss the slender tower in the distance on a high point, a smaller set of statues emerging from the rubble of a collapsed shrine or monument. Something of old, though the staring eyes looking back caught in jade and striped quartz would be worth a pretty penny. It's the expression of longing even in ruin that holds weight and power.

If he's busy sniffing for air, he might catch woodsmoke, a hint of grenadine, and a blotch of gin. If he sniffs magic, no wonder his leyline compass was going absolutely mad. Plenty of magic in the Otherworld, and plenty of it is knotted up in her. "I'd like to see it. The cold never bothered me too much but then I'm used to it. Cumbria gets its fair share of wet and wind, not to say the rest doesn't." That admission should place her so he can at least figure out the basics on a map. It'll give her accent away, for the most part.

The ridgeback winds lightly through the surrounding landscape, the air overhead singing with promise and the sky painted winter shades of pale with a streak of warmer blue on the southern rim. "'Tisn't much to speak of on that. I haven't the foggiest. They were gone when I was born, though it doesn't make me a changeling. Or a cuckoo, I know that much. Whether mum or dad wouldn't make too much difference, except to say here I'm fully part of the place and there..."

Ah, the wistful note. "There, do any of us really belong?"

John Constantine has posed:
"No one belongs anywhere, luv." John's hands move for a cigarette and lighter the second they pause, and he almost thinks better of it before lighting up the stick. His cheeks hollow, dragging hot tobacco through the tar and filter, and he exhales a vast plume of the smoke towards the bells overhead.

"People keep moving until they're too tired to move any more, and they make the best of wherever they're stuck. Some at least admit they've not the strength to haul themselves a bit furthur, but most tell a story about how they happened to fall in love with something or someone conveniently right next to where their ambition exceeded their effort."

"'s one thing the Fae've got figured out," he says. The hand holding his cigarette gestures at Meggan with the smoek caught between extended index and middle finger. "Being. They're always right where they belong, and they belong where they are. Even if I met a Fae who was pining for home, whether it was crystal palaces or a dirty bog, I've found as often as not they're happy to have somewhere to be that gives them something to gripe about."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Poison is as poison does. A faint grey-purple smudge might try to rise close enough to the blonde, but she waves it away lightly. No need to coil it around her fingers. "Where did you end up stuck, if you ever have? Or you keep roaming until the road runs out and the night comes?" she asks, considering the path forward. There isn't anything to follow by sight other than gaps in the bushes, but there is a knowing to this patch of the landscape pulled skin-deep. A knowing that comes in the roar of a bull red elk somewhere, massive antlers swaying moss, and the lonely cry of a jackdaw trilling doom in tones oddly Bulgarian, pomp and swagger with a tinge of Slavic knowing. Her head tilts and she puts a palm to the ground, kneeling as she goes. Otherwise it would be a mite awkward for all, really.

"You were saying? Most know where they belong. Territory or a bill or clans. Colours of war and fealty. Not a great deal different out there, if you think of sports teams and the like. League fans and such; Tottenham has its own and Liverpool theirs, and they practically are prepared to ride into battle if they cross paths. Makes the trains a right mess. Mm, feels unsettled up there. You haven't been upsetting any overly large spiders, have you? Something's peaky about it. I can't take you the long way round though, and no overly great risk. We might just want to fly the friendly skies and such."

John Constantine has posed:
John shifts uncomfortably. "Much as I'd love a long squeeze by an attractive blonde, I don't do well with flying," he remarks. "I get a bit seasick, not to mention I've this thing about not wanting to be dropped."

There's a distant snarling sound, a sentiment of something profoundly not human that is /very/ unhappy about a situation around it.

"So... spiders, specifically, i don't think I've done anything intentionally to sour one's mood," John says a little cagily. "But there was a bit of a flash and fire in my wake while I was scarpering from the, uh, situation I was in, and I dipped a few portals hither and yon before I got here. So it's possible-- through no fault of my own, understand-- that someone might be a bit peeved at me over a misunderstanding about fire, and nesting caves, and whatnot."

John lifts his cigarette to his mouth and tries not to look too nervous while casually dragging off of it.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"I don't drop people, but the point is taken," Meg accepts, nodding. No point in pushing even with the deeply unnatural growl scudding through the leaves and sending a flock of pixie-like things hastening into the sky. She tracks them the way a hunter eyes up the birds, measuring bigger or smaller matters.

"Fire would do it. Most things burn well, though here fire has a little more of a mind of its own. Or minds. The children of fire earned their freedom from Fire itself, and they've never since forgotten it. Doubtful we can expect there to be any salamanders or firewights coming through, otherwise we might smell much more like a proper Sunday dinner. I really hope you've not eaten too recently?" This found while he looks nervous drinking in the cigarette's poison and she floats up off the ground a few feet. Not going to give her any view in advance at that rate, what with the trees, but it helps as she goes a bit higher. "Decision would be yours, then. We can take the long way around, we can dash through and hope no one shows up on the path, or I can put you in a tree, go see what's over there, and you come down when the problem is on its way. A merry game of tag might do it. I'd rather not... deal with a spider with a face, if it pleases. Or some other unfriendly. You might have your chance to spot a lindwurm burrowing through, with any luck. Tossers choice, take your pick."

John Constantine has posed:
"I'm not fool enough to eat anything in the Fae realms," John says with a snort. "As I said, been through here a time or two. Making bloody good time though, aren't they?" John's backing away from the crashing roars with the lifelong habits of a man accustomed to swift exits from bad situations.

"We've been hiking long enough they ought to have gone home bored by now. Crossed a few streams to shake off any dust off my boots. It's like they're on a blood trail from the way, they're coming, but--"

John pats his chest, then his jacket, then cups his hands to his nose and sniffs deeply. "Bollocks," he snarls. "I always knew someday I'd get killed by a bottle of whisky, it's just a bloody shame I couldn't run it through my kidneys first."

A wand appears in his left hand, an icicle as black as obsidian; in his right, he cups elemental fire that sears the air but not his fingertips. "Suppose this is time for you to shag ass out of here luv," John says, not looking back at Meggan. "Contracted you for a guide service, not as fighting escort. Off you pop, I'll deal with... uh, whatever it is that's on the way."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
A soft sigh is peppered with moderate amusement. It trails off. "That old story isn't true for everywhere. Doesn't make you subject to me, or anyone else here. Not without some awful mistakes and not so much food." Her golden hair swirls, shades of moonlight caught as she goes airborne. It isn't for long, though. Being up there makes her an obvious target but a moving one at that. Girl in a t-shirt, just a boring old human...

"Come out, come out, wherever you are," she offers in a sing-song tone of voice, a bit too loud. Her fingertips span wide.

That might be John's warning, the soft laugh. "I've homeground advantage, guided one. No slagging off on my part. A-hunting we will go, a-hunting we will go, eye-yo, à daire righ," the rest of her song drops into Irish Gaelic, only appropriate. Slender fingernails shine bright, not exactly an icicle. Not exactly obsidian, but sharp enough.

Then comes the ringing, plaintive voice, a bit shaky with fear. It's real, the fear, pulled up. "--Help!--"

See the frightened girl, hear the frightened girl, mind the scruffy magician.

The leaves moan with the echoes. Flattened grass around him shudders. The ground grumbles its complaint. Hooves clash, coming.

John Constantine has posed:
The rhythm of hooves draws closer like the tattoo of jungle drums. The silence quickens; small things go silent, and those too large to hide, flee. Even in the realms of Faerie the animals instinctively know when predators approach.

Leaves rustle and a tree shakes. With little warning a mass flings itself from the treeline and lands heavily on eight spindly legs, each at least twenty feet log and holding up a near-translucent thorax and abdomen the size of a small car. The giant spider's natural camoflague shimmers and transitions to accomodate the new terrain underfoot, turning it into a walking brown stump.

<<Wizzzard>> Mandibles click and it strides towards the two travellers. It has a mincing grace with those eight legs, perfectly smooth. The sheer mass of the giant spider is betrayed by the *thump* of one of those claws hitting the loamy ground. <<Wizzard leaves fire, fire burns web, wizzard feeds young>> It's not quite a language or telepathy, but the spider's intent is perfectly clear. The front two legs come up and start making a gathering motion towards its mandibles as the monster draws closer and closer. John readies his arms, face tense but readily composed.

"Any suggestions?" he asides at Meggan.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Hooves that beat the tattoo of ancient fears into the primal mind. The shudder of leaves that portends trouble. For mankind these are old effigies of a more dangerous time. Faerie is not a place for the Hunted to stay in the open. Not a place indeed to trust what you see, for senses are easily deluded by the confusion twisted out of the ambient magic. Chaos isn't a principle that rules over all the rest, but malleability makes things dangerous. Torpid swirls that breed trouble hold Meggan in place, the wind itself collectively holding its breath around her. She hangs in the air, totally normal, almost within reach of the canopy. Easy to spot her up there, her sun-and-moonlit hair languidly stirring around her shoulders. The only thing with momentum, really.

A tick of her gaze down on that monstrously large body presents a definite appreciation for crystal, glass, things not likely found in an arachnid of especial size. For no reason at all, she starts humming a Flight of the Conchords song. Just one: Jemaine, actually, popularised by a Polynesian movie. The flow into the chorus would almost make her miss that weird chittering noise. Languages of the otherworld are many, but she's got a total transparency to psychics that most do not. That makes for a quick evaluation, hand coming up to press to her head. Thump goes a leg. Fingers curl. Leaves vibrate, the trunk of the tree humming, the roots tightening and curling little by little to the agitation of the elemental hanging above them. A few more of those golden motes spin around in a lazily drawn spiral to land near John. They don't burn.

"It's over that way. You are a wizard? I was hoping Time Lord." Sage advice with a man pointing an obsidian wand hopefully away from her, but she drops three meters in altitude in a heartbeat, bouncing up and down like a buoy on a gentle sea. "We bargain for a new web," she calls back. Still that choral humming between the pauses. "You'd rather be alive and sparkly. Just a sec." An aside back to John: "You can whip up some kind of webbing? Shouldn't be too much?"

Oh, faith of young fae. Or she's got mild reason to assume all wizards just can.

John Constantine has posed:
"The fuck is a 'Time Lord'?" John asks. It's rare, but once in a while even Constantine can be completely befuddled.

<<Can make more webz. Can't make more meatz. Wizzard is meatz!>>

Thus distracted, Constantine's sojourn into the Fae Realms is almost cut short by how fast that monstrous thing can move. It's so smooth at there's no telegraphing of intent. Just instant acceleration towards the magus and his temporary ally.

Constantine yelps and reflexively flings the cupped fire in his palm at the spider. A reaching leg clips his shoulder, spins him around, and sends him tumbling to the ground. The spider shrieks in upset and scurries left and right like a crab, using small pedipalps to try and stifle the flames that cling to its carapace.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"That's proper British culture!" Meggan exclaims. Longer than that she doesn't have time for, since the rapturous oratory skills of a big spider cut short further considered.

Wizard is meat. The one she is bound to keep safe, for a guide's role can be interpreted very specifically. The tug of that eldritch oath yanks on her psyche even as she goes toppling back when the spider bum-rushes them. Is it bum rushing when it has quite that many legs? Flaming legs or not, it still gets some points for knocking over the Laughing Magician.

Not so many from the blonde bouncing off the softened cushion of peat that most definitely wasn't thick before. Her bare feet drive into the ground, finding solid ground to contest backward momentum. Fingernails gone pointed and hard grace the arms lifted to defend her face from any other possible bolts. Almost a blind run through the first steps, but then she swears in Welsh -- all those vowels, it's a good three sentences of letters for three syllables and change.

Hopefully aim isn't John's issue. If he's in the frying pan, the Englishwoman goes right for the fire with one violent pounce. Straight for the spider's back, since going right for the head is not advised in this situation without a hammer.

John Constantine has posed:
The spider scuttles left and right and twists violently, bucking hard to shake Meggan off its back. The spider is an ambush predator, accustomed to being fast and strong and chasing fleeing prey. The counterattack robs it of valuable momentum and it grows increasingly panicked as she launches atop it.

John rolls twice and gets away from the ripping and tearing claws. When the spider rears back to try and reach Meggan with more dextrours forelegs, that obsidian wand comes into play.

"Impetu!" John barks. A fast moving, near-invisible mass of force lances from the wand's tip and smashes right into those pedipalps. It hits with enough energy to stagger the beast and the legs on the spider's left side all collapse at once with the stunning blow.

"Are you going to do something, or just rodeo the thing to death?" John inquires of Meggan. He conjures his focus and draws elemental fire from the air again, cupped in his outstretched hand.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Bit of a question to ask a spider-back riding fae. Really. Driving her claws into the carapace harder than wood and akin to stone isn't precisely easy. Furrows and cracks form while the convulsing horror struggles to get back up as its limbs refuse to answer inquiries. Hateful eyes burn in John's direction for all that they might be devoid of coherent plans for a second. That shockwave still knocks her around, but those slim limbs of hers aren't quite so slim and neither is she quite so short as before. Reacting to get an advantage, she drops down the abdomen towards the head for a secure grip. It means being scratched up by one of the functioning legs, tearing into her shirt and jeans, but those are minor concerns.

"Forgot about the babies?" she calls back. "Size of ponies." Those short bursts of a vocal response come while fire answers to him.

All the reason for the struggle isn't for a steed. It's all for leverage when she abruptly hauls up and every tether holding a struggling spider and a comparatively small blonde snap. Her flight before was languid, just like the initial blast of flame is probably gentle compared to what he could rain down if angry. Maybe a little more running on adrenaline (his, hers, the spiders, it all melts together), but nothing like launching up several hundred feet into the air to hurl the unwanted arachnid a good distance away.

John Constantine has posed:
John blinks in shock as Meggan yeets the monstrous spider into low orbit. He just whistles tunelessly as the spider goes up, up, and away.

"Bloody hell," he remarks, and looks at Meggan with a newfound respect. "Here you are doing guided tours when you should be pitching for the majors. Nip down with me to Boston, Americans go bananas for a good pitching arm."

There's more motion in the forest, though. Chittering. The sound of many pitter-pattering little legs scrambling in the wake of their brood mother landing on the ground with a tremendous *splat*.

"But I think... we should go," John remarks, and starts moving away with alacrity. Discretion is the better part of valor and he makes sure Meggan's up and mobile before making an earnest dash for the safety of a distant Pathstone.

The spiderlings are momentarily distracted by the smell of fresh ichor, and swarm the dying corpse with a chittering hunger. Food is food, of course.

But that swarm will go through it quite quickly.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Oh, it'll come back to haunt her in a few hours, that fling. Her shoulders and knees will feel the force built up, but that's nothing to worry about in the present. The spider goes sailing somewhere off far away enough to leave a dent in the foliage. The landscape itself might be roused to deal with it, or the parade of vicious dryads pick apart an intruder who dared to harm their beloved grove. Maybe that massive red elk bull bellowing earlier will go stamp it. Who knows.

"Done." The blonde drops out of the sky again to land on the ground just before... far too many sounds clitter-clatter through the scrub, running up the ridge in search of trouble. Things that should be small and cute ignore the usual limits of the ground. Swarming over the tree or rushing up over a boulder with imperfect camouflage flashing and shifting gives the impression of being attacked by a semi-mobile wave of nature. Glimpses as the first couple of troubling monsters appear are enough to rouse a need to rush, surely.

John's already running, and she falls in step ahead as a guide behind wouldn't be very much use. Catching up requires an outright bolt normally but it's faster to just fly, bushes whacking her jeans be damned. They're already bound to become cutoffs. Waste not, want not, and all that. "People regularly want you for dinner, or is this a one-time thing? Mind the bridge ahead, it has a mind of its own. Should be an old stone arch, go left."

John Constantine has posed:
John obeys obligingly, and a few hundred yards away he stops and holds a hand up to beg a breathe of air. "Uh... not specifically for dinner, no, but 'dead meat' is a term I've had thrown at me a few times," he admits.

John sags forward to rest his hands on his knees and force his lungs to gulp in more air. "Whewew... haven't done a mad dash like that in a day," he admits. "Not much for sprinting. Running, really, either," he admits. "Nice walks, maybe, on a good day." He fishes for his cigarettes, thinks better of it, and reaches for a flask instead. Meggan's given a quick up and down. "Well the jeans look like they're about done for. How about you, nothing too grievous I hope?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"You sure flying is out?" Just an offer, no demand. Their path weaves and winds up to another laughing rill in wet times, reduced now to a muddy pool and dry cataract weaving to lower grounds. More of the architecture studding Faerie is visible, the towers in finer relief, the hints of occupation present. But not where the Way meets the world, twisted and turned by... a pile of chocolate eggs. A candy rabbit is worked into a stone and rock-candy path.

Seems /someone/ takes 'Cadbury' a little too realistically, since Ilchester and Cadbury Castle are apparently synonymous with... well, Easter. Maybe a holy hand grenade from Antioch might be necessary next.

Meg doesn't rush on even with their goal in sight, still looking back and around more than she should. Constant vigilance for anything that might spring out, whether the dish running off with the spoon or a lawyer demanding copyright infringement damages. Huffing and puffing from the smoker isn't mirrored there; he alone suffers quite so much. But aside from the scratches and a few thin cuts barely traced in pink, she isn't quite the worse for wear. Her fingernails direly need to be attended, all ragged and totally normal. No evidence of the claws that were there before at all, if that's a comfort for him.

"Better to keep you as living meat, if you don't mind me saying so. Nice walks on the beach more your speed, and mine. Getting in a proper ramble, that's heavenly. Minus that mess." A low, distant keen of a bird sounds like a mourning seagull with the last crisp in the packet. Looking down, she grimaces at the state of her torn pants. "We can say it's fashionable." Her shoes and her backpack weathered the storm well enough, reason for all those knots.

John Constantine has posed:
"Someone's got a bloody cheek," John remarks, and glowers at the chocolate offerings near the Way point. He walks through the pile of rubble, nudging a few stones this way and that with his shoe. With an 'aha!' he stoops and picks up a wedge-shaped chunk of granite. Blue runes glow subtly at the touch.

"Long walks on the beach, eh? Are you asking me out? Bloody adorable that, we could split a malted milkshake at the ice cream hutch." he chivvies Meggan. John holds the stone overhead and murmurs words of rock and earth. It floats when released from his touch. Other stones rise and gather to it, forming an archway. When it's completed there's a surge of air and temperature as Reality leaks into the Fae Realm. John breathes deeply the familiar air of England and turns to face Meggan with a relieved expression, hands in his pockets. "Quite well done, I must say," he compliments her. "Five of five stars, would hire as a guide again."

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
At least it's a chunk of granite and not the wobbly yellow yolk of an egg. And at least those eggs aren't close to hatching, if they would at all. Ducks here might end up running off with children like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Meggan holds her distance from the gate, considering John's job is nicking whatever amounts to a key for the thing.

"Walks on a beach for me rarely go so nicely. Milkshakes? Where'd you scarper around as a child, Brighton? Irish Sea isn't so friendly and the tourists mobbing the lakes don't make room for locals much. No, the plastic and refuse washed up on most of them stateside..." She doesn't continue on that vein of conversation, stormy little shake of her head clearing those thoughts. A surge of the familiar weaves among them and it takes no time at all for her to resume none of that pointed-ear nonsense. Back to being a regular British blonde... albeit one plastered on the occasional newspaper and plenty online, batting shuttlecock condemnation on certain industries getting handsy with the common good. She smiles at John, hands stuffed in her pockets in kind.

"Not half bad yourself. Didn't get too panicked, five out of five as a passenger. Minds himself well, must like ciggies."

Simple as that, she gestures, the icon of St. Andrews undamaged. Well, there's that.

John Constantine has posed:
"I wasn't a child, I went straight into howling adolescence and spent my nights and weekends burning down the pubs on a steel guitar." John grins mischeviously at Meggan. "But nice lasses tend to like the simpler things in life, I've found."

Something jingles in his pocket. "Oh, right, speaking of five for five." John counts out five coins and hands them ceremoniously over to Meggan. "A deal's a deal, you saw me here safe and sound," he reminds her. Open hands make a pass, and a business card's offered. "I'm a Liverpool boy but I find myself lingering around the States lately," John explains. The card reads 'John Constantine, Wizard'. Beneath- 'Occult Consultations'. On the reverse there's a basic ten digit number.

"You know. If you ever find yourself that way, hankering for a milkshake," he says with a dancing amusement in his eyes.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
"Roaming the streets as a right proper hooligan, then. I expect you got up to no good," Meggan says knowingly, finger tapping her temple. Mischief is infectious. She laughs and shakes her head. "No, I was never a nice lass. I didn't live in town and read glossy magazines or go shopping every other day like they do. Wasn't much of a punk either, but their music I like a whole lot more than the stuff on Beeb. Promise, I wasn't singing with Girls Aloud or some folk tune just be. Family was lucky not to get tossed out of town if we showed our face. Never think racism isn't truly alive and well in this country."

A nudge of her toe to the ground makes the barefooted look seem easy. Even if she's every bit the image of an English rose by some neo romantic painter off his rocker, Rossini or Waterhouse or some such, apparently she's dead serious about that. The card she'll take, putting it into the little zippered pouch on the backpack. Coins are taken, stowed in the same spot, since her pants may be partly intact but doomed for the bin sooner or later. "You did, and the deal is made. Liverpudlian, huh? That's not so far from Cumbria. We used to think it the really big city. Much less posh than Edinburgh, and bit more comprehensible than Glasgow. Even /I/ can't make much of what they're sayin' up there, and that's full well knowing what they mean to say." A fanciful wave of her hand leaves a few of those little motes plain as day floating in the air, sparking out. "Wizard. So you're the real thing. Wonder why Roma never mentioned you before."

A pinched look between her brows won't last but the question /is/ there. "Truth be I need to hop back that side sooner or later. Got classes to worry about. You fancy a lark around Boston, I'm your girl?"

John Constantine has posed:
"Romanii?" It's less question than declaration and John gives Meggan a look of renewed interest. "I've dated a few of the Traveling Folk in my time. Still have the scars to prove it," he says. Amusement gilds a bantering tone. "I've done a turn or two for a proper vrajitoare. Not the sort of thing people talk about around the fire, though." A finger rests under his eyelid, pulls it down to expose just a bit of red. It's clear John doesn't share the same fear of the mystical as other practitioners.

"Tell you what then, I didn't fancy a slog through the Fae on foot, but I happen to know a Way to the States that's a bit closer to the borders of the Dreaming. Little tricky, there's a bit where you have to hold your breath underwater, but it's surprisingly steady. With someone else along I think I could chance it," he suggests. "Fancy a trip, then?"

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Meggan nods. "Romanichal, as opposed to the New Age travellers. They raised me most of the time. Not the sort living in a caravan park, mind, since it's a park and all. Little different in culture but they were good to me and I always return the favour. Not uncommon to find them round the states, I'm told, but I haven't seen so many." She leans forward to take note of the mark, then nods. John's the expert there, less her, and it tells in different ways. Playing with fire or humming to water is another matter altogether.

"Won't be a problem holding my breath or doing a bit of climbing. If you want me to answer maths problems, you're on your own." She breaks into a smile, dropping a look away to the wayside. Cadbury Castle, the proper thing, isn't popular with tourists in the dead of winter but then where in the southwest really is? England is cold, bleak, and wet. Better climes elsewhere to run around. He holds out a lure and she, knowingly, takes it. "The Dreaming is friendlier anyway. Long as you remember yourself, but it's the thorns that a wise man avoids. The thorns and anything beautiful, for in beauty are nightmares and all that shite. The number of old tales and corny statements we have to live by, I swear."

John Constantine has posed:
"Hopefully we're not attacked by a giant sentient abacus," John quips. He holds Meggan's gaze a half beat longer, just enough to make it more than a passing idea. "Hey, it happened once, 's all I'm saying. For now though, I'm fagged out," he tells Meggan. "Knackered to the core. I need a hot meal, a decent ale, and a few hours sleep. Preferably in that order, but I'm not picky. Let's ee if we can find a pub and solve the first two, and maybe a solution for the third presents," John suggests.

With a bob of his eyebrows, Constantine steps backwards through the portal and into the plain dependability of Reality.

Meggan Puceanu has posed:
Meggan checks her backpack and shifts the shoes dangling from the strap ring to fall neatly against her hip instead. More comfortable that way, instead of worrying about being smacked constantly whenever she goes moving. "A proper pint and a hot meal sound delightful. I bet we can find a hole in the wall somewhere. South side of Boston is where all the fun happens, isn't it?"

That question rings true as she follows in the magician's wake. Probably not the wisest of things, given the dump trucks and demons that want to randomly flatten him. Nothing so much to worry about on her part as she breathes in the sharp, wet air of Britain and waves farewell over her shoulder to one pony-sized spider dragging a leg up the path. Cheerio, monster.