In Which Lili Tells of Meeting a Particular Short, Temperamental, Raven-Haired Elf

by Moonrose

Lili's either talking to Ghost when he was looking for Luse, or to the Blood Guard without knowing that they're the police.

I live in Mandratha, I work near the docks, I get a lot of sailors. I don't get a lot of elves, maybe that's why I remember him. And he was short for an elf, and had an impressive sword. He looked too scruffy to have come by it honestly, but like I said, I live in Mandratha and work near the docks and see a lot of people who don't look like you'd expect. There was this guy once...but I don't guess that's what you want to know, huh?

Well, anyway, this elf, he was short and scruffy but kinda cute. He wanted that design over there, the cross with the wolf heads and roses, and he didn't give me any problem with the price or the pain or the time I told him it would take or anything. Sometimes they give you a hard time when you tell them what a tattoo costs, or you prick them and they start yelling and screaming and pissing and moaning--you didn't tell them it would HURT, whatever. I swear, some men are such babies. My boyfriend keeps telling me I oughta have someone else in here in case a client gets testy, but I've lived in Mandratha my whole life and I can take care of myself. He's just protective, is all. A lot of times the guy'll pass out before he can come at me, and no one's going to be any threat when he's unconscious. There was this sailor once, biggest guy I ever saw, came in with a couple friends, picked out a design, sat down, all I did was poke him once and BOOM he's flat on the ground. Eyes rolled back in his head and the whole thing.

But that's not what you came out to hear. I keep a bottle of whiskey for my clients--helps dull the pain, you know, and I can get it cheap, I got a sister in New Amineta--so I offered this elf some and he drank the whole bottle. Five seconds, the whiskey's gone. I think it was almost full, too. He said something to the effect that he needed to relax. He didn't twitch at all when I started pricking his arm; he was quite the stoic type, or maybe just numb from pounding my whiskey. Didn't talk much either, just kept his eyes on my chest. That drives my boyfriend bats, he's always telling me, "Lili, put on more clothes, you want guys starin' at yer tits?" What he means is, HE doesn't want guys staring at me. But hey, if it takes their mind off their pain, why not? It hurts to get a tattoo, you know. Besides, the gods didn't give me this body so I could hide it.

So this elf is staring at my tits, and he tells me I look like this friend of his who lives in Mandratha, except she's an elf and I'm not, we even have almost the same name. Hers was Lirith or Lily-Rae or something, it was a couple years ago, I don't remember. She was a healer, his ex-wife told him she was in Mandratha. And then he went into this long mumbled rant about his ex-wife, bitching and muttering, and I'm wondering if he's losing his mind in my studio or if he already lost it, and he looks up and apologizes to me, says he's just been having a tough year, lost an eye, couple times almost lost his mind, beat a Gilles root addiction, got the shit kicked out of him, got killed, got the shit kicked out of him again, on and on. Not a happy puppy, I felt sorry for him. He reminded me of this other guy, said he was a mage, got a tree on his ass; he was cute, that one, charming as hell, but kinda scrawny and not really my type.

This elf, though, he was tough, and I got the feeling more pissed off than anything else. And since I didn't have anything to do with him being pissed off, he wasn't going to give me a hard time. He'd been meaning to come to Mandratha and get a tattoo, he said, and I smiled and allowed as how I was glad he did. I got a nice smile, maybe you noticed. So anyway, he wasn't that exciting, except for being an elf and a short one at that, and once I asked him about the Steps--I told you, I've lived here my whole life, I've never been anywhere else, but my boyfriend used to be in the army and he tells me stories about elves and their Steps, but I don't trust half of what he says and I don't get that much chance to ask an actual elf what they're like. It's an innocent question, right? But this elf just stares at me like I'd asked him when was the last time he screwed his mother, and he spits and says something like "Fuck their Steps," or some such thing, I guess it was a touchy subject with him so I didn't bring it up again.

And when I was done, I wrapped his arm and told him to keep his tattoo clean and not pick at it until it healed--which I always tell people even though I know hardly any of them ever listen to me--and I took his money and he went away. I thought I saw him a year or so later down on the docks unloading a boat, at least I saw a black-haired elf with what looked like a cross and roses tattooed on his arm, but it was from a distance and my distance vision isn't so great. He never threatened me, never said anything suspicious or anything that made me wary of him, although I guess I have a pretty bad radar for suspicious, and not a lot makes me wary, my boyfriend swears someday I'm going to walk headfirst into a plot to kill the mayor or something. I guess he could have killed someone, he looked like he might do that, like an assassin--maybe he came to Mandratha to join that guild--and besides he had that sword, but he never said anything to me so I can't say. I'd love to see him again; I've heard elves heal up real good and age real slow and I'd love to know if that affects their tattoos at all. Besides, he was cute for a short guy.


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