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Glass Houses
Li nodded for the bartender with a smile. "Refil please."
Li pulled out his wallet and laid down his credit information for the tab he was now running. It might be worth while - it might not. At least it wouldn't be boring or lonely.

Li was surprised when she asked his name, it wasn't often that people didn't recognize him. It made him smile when he could be almost normal. "You can call me Li."

Li glanced around the vicinity with a mischievous grin but his eyes landed back on the girl before him. "I think little ole you is perfect."
He faked a frown as he added "Though your boss behind us looks familiar - not sure where I saw her at. It's tickling the back of my mind."
It was a stab in the dark to see what Claire knew about the woman behind her.

Li flashed his winning smile. "Will I see you up there tonight, or are you more the hostess type?"
“What you must do," said Monkey, "is lure the monster from its hiding place, but be certain it is a fight you can survive.” 
― Wu Cheng'en, Monkey: The Journey to the West


Oriena laughed at the girl's earnestness and the open way she smiled. "Knowledge comes with a price. What can you do for me, Ilesha?"
Usually it was the moment she'd begin spinning her webs, but this was one of the rare instances in which she felt honesty was in her interests. The words came out a tease, not a demand. "You're not dead. And I assume you survived the Sickness. That's half the battle, sweetheart."

She slipped from her stool to stand closer, glass still cupped in one hand. The ice tinkled with her movements. "It enhances our senses. That has uses."
She traced her fingers down Ilesha's arm. "I sensed you. Even before you used it. You glowed so prettily when you did."
Her smile curved sultry, burning gaze searching for hints of discomfort. She'd only find it amusing.

"But you should know that some will try to kill you for what you can do. Those people are marked, here--"
her grip fell to Ilesha's forearm, where she squeezed lightly "--with a serpent biting its own tail."
Though perhaps that would change now. "More than that?"
She tipped her shoulder into a shrug. "You'll have to be specific."
Ilesha couldn't do anything for her. She could pay her but Ilesha was certain that Oriena didn't want money for knowledge - favors in return seemed more her game - or blackmail. "I'm just a mechanic, I doubt you have any need for my skills."
Though in reality Ilesha was more than just anything. She had a degree in Mechanical Engineering - top of her class. She had a bright future ahead of her or so they had always told her in the career office - all her teachers. But all she wanted to do was fix things - maybe make something grand that everyone would one day use.

But none of that meant little to the owner of a strip club. Ilesha played with the ring in the palm of her hand. It was an absent minded move as she rolled the metal ring in her hand.

The warning came much like the one Ascendancy had issued but this was one with more information - a snake biting it's own tail. Tattoos were common among her clients - she wondered if she'd ever seen any. She blinked her eyes. "I wouldn't even know what questions to ask."
All the prior thoughts of things she wanted to know seemed to jump out of her head. It wasn't that she forgot, or didn't know how to phrase it. They just weren't fully formed. There was a lack of knowledge and Ilesha knew it - but she had no idea where to even start. "And I wouldn't want to waist your time while I tried to find them."
Ilesha smiled to say she didn't mean any offense. She turned to her drink sitting on the bar and watched Raffe down at the other end with another smile. "I have nothing to offer you for your knowledge however specific I could get anyway."
Ori shook her head, smiling slyly. "You're not just anything."
She was different. Gifted a power that made her better. Stronger. Yet even with coaxing Oriena doubted this one would rise to the potential. The seeds were planted all the same. She shrugged off the humble apology of wasting time - Oriena would not be here, nor entertaining the girl at all if there was not something in it for her, no matter what Ilesha thought. She followed the other's line of sight, finding Raffe, and gave a throaty laugh. That one attracted attention like moth to flame. "You know where to find me if you think of anything."
Claire tipped a shoulder. "Oriena gets around. Who knows where you've seen her. But if you like tickling, maybe I can tickle the back of your mind,"
an ornery glint crossed her eyes and she waggled her fingers along the black of his hairline. Li sounded like a familiar name as well, but Claire didn't place him. There was something imposing about his presence, though. Something playful too but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Like he was capable of great damage but it was restrained.

"Other girls are better dancers. I'm better at something else. I could read your fortune, if you like. Let me see your palm,"
she held out her hand for his to be placed in it.

Li smiled at the mention of her name and he filed it away for later, he also got confirmation that she was indeed her boss. Information was piling up and soon he'd know what happened to the wolfkin from Almaz. Disappearing was not something they did.

Claire teased the hair at the back of his head and Li had to fight the manly urges that came with women. It was more difficult when there was a pretty woman sitting next to him but he was in control of his body - all of it.

Li wondered if this woman thought she could actually read the future on the palm of his hand. There were prophets in the world - real ones - ones that truly did see into the future. It might be beneficial to know one or two of them - the Atharim could use a prophet to predict their future to control the monster incursions. But the Atharim frowned upon using the so-called monsters as tools. Li never really understood the dogma that said all monsters should die and yet they worked closely with the Furia. The Atharim were only slightly hypocritical. Which is the only thing that allowed Li to continue working with them. One day they might embrace the differences in humans - the gifts that the power truly was, or the sight of prophets, or the feelings of the Sentients and even the ability to track as well as any wolfkin. One day...

Li held his hand out and placed it palm up into the tender fingers of Claire. "Dazzle me, oh wise prophetess, with your words of wisdom."
Li teased with a bowing of his head and a wide smile.
“What you must do," said Monkey, "is lure the monster from its hiding place, but be certain it is a fight you can survive.” 
― Wu Cheng'en, Monkey: The Journey to the West



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