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 A Serpent In The Bosom, feat. enfai
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
This was it. According to the information she'd gotten from the woman, this was where the crafty kirin's daughter was. Felix had tried to hide her, but... well, when you were as experienced as Shamhat, you had ways of ferreting out secrets. And a youngster like Felix was no match for an older intellect, sharpened by millennia of dealing with the dangerous men and women of the world.

It helped that she'd gotten a glimpse, after she'd started her bloody harvest. True, she'd hidden so that the girl wouldn't see her, but she remembered the girl. A scared little thing, terrified, but likely hell-bent upon revenge. And here was her father's killer, come to do something similar to her. But she would probably be on her guard. After all, witnessing your father's corpse tended to do that to people, Shamhat often found. Made it harder to get what you wanted from them, even if they hated their fathers.

Still, the first step with her would to be knock on the door, introduce herself, ingratiate herself with the kid. No matter how long it took. No matter what kind of sacrifice it would take. She needed more powdered kirin horn for her plans, and this was the only one that she was willing to sacrifice whose location she was cognizant of. So she knocked on the door, taking a deep breath.
enfai siao — tagged
"the fable of the farmer and the viper" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
Three days of constant studying later, the ‘bear’ emerged from her den. Though, to be fair, Enfai Siao far more resembled a raccoon. Bright emerald eyes were encircled by black circles, her movements one-part drunk and one part robotic. Bare feet gripped the hardwood floors as she staggered her way to the counter. Hands fished wildly for the tea kettle. With a soft smile, she poured herself a glass of lavender. A pleased grunt spilled from her mouth as she sniffed the beverage. Calm instantly washed over her. Lifting the glass to her mouth, she paused. Best check there's nothing floating in it Enfai. You know how the boys washes. Finding it uncontaminated, she drained the glass. “Mm.”

Finally, awake enough to realize she stood in the dark, she flicked on the light switch.

Judging by her look of horror, Enfai regretted it. Even if it had not horrified her, it certainly was not what she expected. Her home looked like a warzone—if wars were fought with pizza boxes, half-empty soda cans, and dry-rotted nerf guns. Her heart began to pound—and it sounded, rather fittingly, like a war drum as she rose it to the clock upon the mantelpiece. Mother will not be pleased. The events of the last few days came flooding back to her. Her normally anxious face temporarily vanishing beneath a mask of shock.

Then, memories from the past few days crashed into her. Her little brothers asking if they could have friends over—even if mom was gone. She also recalled that she had been, too absorbed in her studying to check that they had listened to her refusal. Darkened eyes narrowed. I cannot believe they did this! At this rate, those hooligans are going to end up in prison! Without looking, she knew their rooms lay behind her: sloppily cleaned, empty, and smelling of stale Cheetos. The mug clattered to the counter as she realized how little time she had left.

Mother would be calling from the airport in a few hours! She could not come to a pig sty. She is going to kill me! Or, even worse, throw me out! Then I'd end up homeless--and get addicted to meth--and end up in a cell right next to Aiguo! Though she was exhausted, brain-dead from three all-nighters, the Kirin launched herself right into the role of Cinderella.

Boxes went in the garbage. Most of the cans, even the ones shoved n between the couch cushions, were gingerly placed in the recycling bin. in the recycling bin. And all the stains of—well, an origin she did not wish to know—were scrubbed up with a damp rag. By the time she finished, Enfai could see her face in the floor.

But, halfway through her cleaning, a knock rang out The nerf dart launcher in her arms, too big to get tossed under a cushion, was cradled under her arm like a neon crutch. Trepidatiously, nostrils flared, the girl approached the window. A clawed fingertip lifted to press against the intercom—a handy thing that originated from her and her mother’s joint paranoia. A nearby touchscreen showed a stranger on the doorstep. She filled with relief. she’d prefer an ax murderer over her mother right now.

A calm, cultured voice emerged—its coolness managing to hide any anxiety. “Good morning.” She continued, her tone guarded. “Who is it?” Cheeks flared. Fingers jammed back against the intercom. “Sorry--! That sounded rather harsh, didn’t it?” She swallowed. Tried again. "May I ask who's calling--no idea why they say calling. It's rather obviously knocking."

// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
"Ah..." So there was an intercom. This would make things more difficult, in terms of getting in. "My name is Maryam al-Nasri, I was a friend of Felix for several years." She cleared her throat. "I... I'm looking for his daughter. I was told she lived here...?"

She smiled sadly, looking around for the camera. If Daddy had told the girl about any of his dark past, Maryam al-Nasri the art thief would have definitely come up. But then again, the naughty boy had probably projected the image of a saint for his daughter. Really, such a farce was almost comical, given how — ah! There was the camera. Probably. She waved, hoping she didn't look like a fool by waving at not-the-camera.

"I... ah... I came to pay my condolences... and to see if there's anything I can do to help." Easiest to keep the lie simple.
enfai siao — tagged
"sorry for your loss that i caused" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
”Trust no one, Enfai.” Her mother’s words echoed each time she lifted a finger to the intercom. Strangers were not welcome here. Disruptive ones, less so. Surrounded by lance-like wrought iron fences, the home itself seemed to bear its teeth at any who sought to trespass. Everything about the Siao household exuded hostility. And yet, here this stranger stood.

Emerald eyes lifted to the steadily ticking grandfather clock. Its chimes sounded loudly in her ears as its hands circled ever closer to 3 o'clock. Mother will kill me if there is some strange woman on our front stoop when she gets home! Just ignore her, Enfai! Though her mind begged her to turn away, her hooves remained firmly rooted to the spot. What if it’s important!? You should at least hear her out—she did take the time to come all the way to the door. She cannot do anything to you out there anyway—you should hear her out. One clawed fingertip continued to flirt with the intercom, half of her mind intent on making up some excuse to leave the outside world behind.

At first, Enfai felt relieved. The woman had the wrong house. A shaky sigh was audible over the speakers as the young Kirin bowed, unseen. “I am sorry, ma’am. You have the wrong address. I do not know a-—” A gasp served to punctuate that sentence as memories washed over her. The smell of hibiscus flooded her nose as her world swam beneath a veil of tears. Her ebony claw froze upon the button, the speaker buzzing like a hive of bees. “That man—” The name her mother cruelly sneered across the table. Too hot.

The second word felt alien as it rolled off her tongue. “Felix. . .” A name she’d spoken a handful of times. One better left to courtroom documents and clients. Too cold.

A heartbroken sob tore from her throat as she curled inward. The third word was almost childish. “Daddy…” It burned like bile in her throat. Raw. Childish. Just right.

Click! The door jerked forward. Red hair appeared in the space between door and jamb as the young Kirin poked her head outside. Curious emerald eyes roamed the woman's slim form. She certainly does not seem all that dangerous, momma. I never imagined my father with such a woman A bitter, guilty laugh escaped her lips. “I never even thought of my father having friends—then again, I was never the most insightful child.” Silence stretched taut between the pair. Tell her to leave, Enfai! It was six years ago, is it not time to let it go?

No! The door opened. The redhead bowed. “Would you like to come in?” // tag shamhat // words // notes

// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
The kindly smile was placed far too perfectly. The slightly sinister light in the eyes was softened by just the right amount of pathos to cast its existence into doubt. The dark-skinned woman nodded thankfully. "I'd love to." She walked in and cast her eye about the place. Clearly, someone had been trying to keep things clean — although there were signs that the cleanup was recent.

OK, Shamhat. You're in. Now it's time to move on to step two. Continuing the charade, she walked over to the counter. "Your father helped me out of a couple very tight spots a couple decades back. I... only just heard about his passing." A couple tears rose to her eyes; to Enfai's eye, they would surely have seemed unbidden, especially since she blinked one out before wiping them away.

She looked at Enfai, biting her lower lip. "Do you... do you have any coffee?"
enfai siao — tagged
"crocodile tears" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
The instant the invitation left her mouth, Enfai regretted it.

But, then again, she regretted every decision she made a few dozen times before accepting it. And yet, the trepidation was different. It left a strange, sinister feeling tickling at the back of her corneas and tasted of newly-rotted pomegranates. And yet, though her hands stayed upon the door knob, the invitation remained. What would you do, Enfai? Slam the door in the poor foreigner’s face? Scream like some injured water buffalo? Honestly!

The acceptance was met with a half-bow and a sad, skittish smile. “I would hate for you to come all this way for nothing, Miss al-Nasri.” A sad sigh emerged from between pursed lips. “Poppa was a man of hospitality, after all.” That is also what proved his end, isn’t it? But, steeled by her innate sense of curiosity, she brushed her concerns aside.

Click! The lock flipped into place. A sense of finality fell upon the encounter. As she finally lifted her eyes from the floor, her blood froze. Though clean by many people’s standards, she saw naught but a pig-sty. Why didn’t you clean up first, you idiot!? Shame clear, Enfai offered the elder woman an apologetic bow. “I am terribly sorry for the mess! Hands wringing together, the auburn-haired girl listened as the other woman expressed her regret. Enfai's heart twisted.. She is crying! How dare you try to villainize her!? Poppa would be ashamed.

“My father never could turn down someone in trouble—” Unlike his greedy, little wretch of a daughter, right, Enfai? Glad to be busy, the request sent her running to the kitchen cabinets. She began to toy with the charm around her neck, twisting it as she pulled out a barrel of freshly-ground coffee. She flushed. “Only decaf, I’m afraid.” A bitten nail lifted to scratch at her cheek. “My mother does not believe in caffeine—or, well, at least not in coffee.” A pause. The words tasted sour upon her lips. “I mean, she knows it exists. She just does not like us drinking it—” Before the other woman answered, she started filling the coffee maker.

“Though, I think you might need this a bit more—” Quivering like a flag of surrender, Enfai slid a Kleenex across the marble countertops. Tears, unbidden, quivered on her own lashes. “It’s okay—" Please don’t take this the wrong way. She smiled forlornly. “I miss him too.”



// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
Too easy. Shamhat took a tissue, blowing her nose hard into it. The room was neat. And this girl... Enfai Siao... she had a bit more kindness about her than Felix had had when she'd known him. The young buck had been a little too inquisitive a couple times, even though she'd not involved him in anything worse than art theft. The boy didn't have the stomach for human trafficking, no matter how bad he played, and letting him know would have only gotten the cops called down on the whole operation.

Made sense in retrospect. After all, what kind of kirin would abandon their faith in humanity far enough to actually sell human beings like so much cattle? She sniffed again. "He was a good man. I mean... our dealings aside. Not that they were that bad." What did it matter who had the original Renoirs? It wasn't like the original had been in a museum in the first place. Besides, she had to have the original "Luncheon of the Boating Party", she was in it and it wouldn't do to have someone figure that out. Thank the Gods for whatever forger had decided a brown woman wouldn't fit in Renoir's painting.

"D-do... do they have any leads?" Probably not. Three years, and the girl was willing to let in someone who knew her father? ...Still, perhaps she could pin it on someone else they both had worked with. Jean-Paul du Renault was still alive and kicking, as far as she was aware, and he'd outlived his usefulness too... up until now...
enfai siao — tagged
"elo, face the music, track 3" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
She didn’t know what to do.

Fingers hovered in the air for a moment between them, a butterfly frozen between window panes. Inside her head, a debate raged. Don’t touch strange women, Enfai! She could be a poison dart frog in a meat coat for heaven’s sake! Her mouth opened. Fingers dropped stiffly to her side. You cannot just let her cry! You did this you brainless git! An overwhelming urge drove her tongue to move. But, all that came out was a strangled noise. “Nn—” A sigh. Then, whisper quiet, a teary-eyed: “I am truly sorry. For your loss, I mean.” For mine too.

Suddenly, that dam she had erected seemed to teeter on rupture. Tears blurred her vision. But, the stranger’s next words drew a gasp. Emerald eyes narrowed, defensively, as Enfai lifted her head. On someone less teary-eyed, the gesture might have been ‘haughty’. Her expression, though tinged with tears, grew concerned. Blunt, herbivorous teeth tugged at her bottom lip. “What do you mean ‘your dealings aside’, ma’am?” Tiny though they were, her next words spoke volumes. “My father was a good man—perhaps, not perfect, but certainly not—not one in need of a qualifier. As if trying to cage her love, and bar self-doubt, Enfai lifted a curled hand to her chest. But, as always, the doubt crept onward.Could it be that he wasn't what I thought I was? Could even poppa lie to me?

It took her a moment to register the woman’s next words. When she did, it took a few more for her to decide what to do about them. You should not tell strangers things like that! What if she’s up to no good She swallowed. Her head stopped mid-shake. She pretended not to hear.

Tiptoeing towards the other woman, around her own fragile psyche, Enfai offered Shamhat a steaming cup of lavender tea.

Sipping quietly, hoping to find courage in her mug, Enfai shakily ventured: “Did you say how you knew my father?” She swallowed. “I’ve never had your name come up before.”  Her eyes became suddenly interested in her home’s expensive hardwoods. “Then again, I could have just forgotten—mother always says I have a mind like a sieve.”



// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
"W-well... I'm not in the business any longer, but for many years I was an art thief. Your father helped me find rich old men who had nice paintings, and I would replace their masterpieces with forgeries. I gave him some of the profits from it." Shamhat shrugged. "It's... well, it's a mostly victimless crime. I mean... doesn't everyone deserve to have a Renoir?"

She took a sip. This was some good coffee, for decaf. "I stayed in the game longer than he did, but... he was a good handler while we worked together." A wistful smile crossed her face. "Oh, the stories I could tell... like the time I had to steal a forgery from the Louvre before they could realize that I'd accidentally sold them the forgery I'd meant to give the tightfisted old codger who had the original." Now that had been fun, and not just because it had been one of her few mistakes in her time as an art thief.
enfai siao — tagged
"for once, she's telling the truth" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
Those words turned her blood to ice.

If she had been a siren, she would have started firing on all cylinders. Hands, formerly steady, now sported a characteristic little tremor. Where peach skin once sat, a few patches of green began to bloom. You just let a criminal into the house, Enfai! Your mother is going to kill you—or, worse!! As she stared at the other woman, Enfai forced a shaky smile into place. Take it easy, Enfai. It’s not like she killed anyone, right? Who would kill someone over a few priceless paintings? Though the smile remained, her pupils continued to devour what little remained of her irises. Hesitantly, she spoke, “I see.” She continued, unnerved by the silence. “I am certainly glad you have moved on to less—umm—criminal enterprises.”

She buried her face in a recently obtained cup of tea. Chewed nails tapped anxiously against work porcelain. “Are you certain that my father—” She shook her head. Have faith in him, Enfai! He was a good man! A great man! Shakily, she took a breath and turned towards the television, seemingly engrossed in its blank screen. “I really think you have the wrong man, Miss al-Nasri.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “My father was a veterinarian—he had no reason to—” Don’t say steal! Don’t do it! “—borrow paintings.” On the subject of distributive justice, the redhead remained tellingly silent. But, that look of judgment in emerald eyes managed to say it all.

A stiff smile followed the next admission. The Louvre!? Oh heavens! It’s getting worse! “That’s q-quite an accomplishment among art thieves, I'm sure.” Unable to sit still a moment longer, the Kirin wandered over to aimlessly rearrange the counter. Just keeping her hands busy helped her think about things—things other than calling the cops on her house guest. I really hope this isn't one of those hidden camera shows.

Wiping away an imaginary stain, equal in size to the one growing on her conscience, Enfai meekly ventured, “Do you know anyone who might have wanted to hurt him?”

// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
My, oh, my. This was intriguing. She clung to the image of her father as a saint, hm? Well, truth be told, it wasn't like he'd done anything too bad. He hadn't killed anyone, and it was always Al-Nasri who had gotten the police attention, never her handler... She shook her head. "I... I don't think so. I mean, I'm sure there were some people who would have because of what kind of man he was, but those kinds aren't likely to..." She sniffed, looking around for a tissue. It was all a show, but that didn't mean she shouldn't put her all into it. Besides, pinning the blame on some sort of homophobe or xenophobe would make driving the knife in all the sweeter.

"Although, you know what they say... good ol' boys have a habit of protecting their own. I'm sure they figured they could get away with it." And she had. "O-oh... that reminds me... he would have wanted me to introduce you to a couple of his family members..." She pulled up her smartphone and swiped through some pictures. Sniffing hard, she placed the phone on the counter. "This is your aunt. She's an aspiring author, good head on her shoulders, absolutely brilliant sense of humor... I've read some of her work, it's brilliant." If Enfai looked, she'd see Shamhat smiling with Felix and a woman who looked vaguely like him, all three of them mugging for the camera and making peace signs. The next pictures on either side were also of the three of them, since Shamhat had purposely uploaded a selection of photos of her, Felix, and the other relatives to this particular phone.

"I... I scanned these in, they were actually taken around 1987..."
enfai siao — tagged
"the aunt is safe, it's why shamhat's going after her niece" — noted
years old 29 posts PM
PLAYED BY Dynasty
With the counter cleaned off, her motions now consisted of an endless pacing. Nervously, she batted her half-empty teacup back and forth across the counter. A lightly-scaled hand scrubbed vigorously at the invisible—moral—stains spread all across the marble. She was a toothless tiger locked in a cage of her own making.

Some part of her felt that this woman walked on blasphemous ground. The urge to protest, to play hero to her father’s memory, clawed at her throat like acidic bile. There is little reason to trust the words of a thief, Enfai! The other part just saw this conversation as further confirmation that her mom was right: trust no one, little flower. And, yet, trust or no trust, she waited with bated breath for the woman’s answer. Hope was sometimes the biggest monster of them all. And, it was certainly one of those times.

Disappointment signaled a resurgence of frustrated, angry tears. This time, however, she let them fall. Her lips pulled down slightly as hope, again, reared its ugly head. Confusion took the place of frustration as she struggled to process the elder woman’s words. ”The—the kind of man he was?” A good man? A kind man? A thief? A supernatural freak like his vapid little daughter? Green eyes widened as she finally realized what the woman was trying to imply. She gasped. Green eyes narrowed with all the rage of a rabid squirrel. She shook her head furiously. “Why would someone—! That’s not—it’s not—it's not something we can control.”

Once the initial shock wore off, however, she frowned. The little Kirin quietly muttered, “But, why would they take his-" She froze. Stiffened. Fiddled. Bowed. “I will keep your suggestion in mind, Miss Al-Nathiefri.” Even if it didn't quite fit. Not that a mindless little sheep like her knew the first thing about detective work—or homophobia, for that matter.

A one-eyed purple people eater would have shocked her less than the idea that her poppa had family. She certainly knew that to be the case—deep down—but she’d never actually thought about it. A strange squawk emerged as she swapped a clean piece of paper towel for the phone. Scaled fingers trembled as she idly flipped through them. “My aunt—?” A finger lifted to touch her own cheeks. A ghost-like smile flitted across her nervous lips. “She looks like me” Like a drug addict eager for a fix, the Kirin began rapidly swiping through the phone.

Her eyes focused on a picture of a younger man. Another picture, that of a younger girl, followed on its heels. Enfai opened her mouth. "Who-?" Closed it. Shook her head. Let's not pester the art thief with questions, okay? In her astonishment, she nearly missed a potentially damning admission. Her head jerked up. Her nostrils flared. The phone dropped with a clatter. When her voice emerged, it was a squeak “1987!?”The problem? Shamhat looked almost exactly--no, exactly- the same. Which meant, she'd committed the worst offense of all: letting more freakishness into their home.

// tag shamhat
// words
// notes
years old 16 posts PM
PLAYED BY thegrimlich
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…
"Plastic surgery does wonders, Ms. Siao. Besides... where I'm from, unfortunately, looks are one of the few things a woman can use to remain independent, and looking my real age would..." She shook her head. "I'm not about to be shut up in a home, Ms. Siao. My mind is as sharp as ever, and the nurses are infamous for stealing things."

Well, so was her main identity, but that was beside the point. She took in a deep breath and sat at the counter. "But yes. I've undergone surgery to keep this beautiful face." That was a lie, but somehow the idea that she was several thousand years old seemed like the wrong tack to take with this child. "It's funny... I figured I'd die young. All the thieves in movies seem to. But... then I hit thirty. I never counted on growing old. And when it began happening, all I wanted to do was make it stop. So I left the old work behind, began using my money to buy surgeries, set myself up for life..." She shook her head. "Growing old is horrible."
enfai siao — tagged
"and if shamhat has her way, you won't have to suffer that indignity :p" — noted
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