Chapter 20

The reactions to Phantom's questions was as varied as the people at the table.

Rebeca and the children went pale and quiet. They, along with the rest of the town, had been witness to the execution of murder a few years previously and even with the festival like atmosphere it left an impression on them.

Robyn on the other hand, was rendered speechless. He opened and closed his mouth several times as he tried to come up with something to say about it all. All his glibness having vanished as he thought back over the last few days. No one had vanished, there was no questions being asked, nothing came to mind as to why she would ask what the penalty for murder was.

From his place, pushed back away from the table, Artemis' eyes narrowed ever so slightly. A dozen plans coalesced in his mind, played out and was discarded. The best plan though was to wait and do nothing to alert his target, besides she was not looking at him, but instead her golden eyes were focused on the half elven bard.

The widow woman made it back to her chair before her legs gave out on her. "Who? When?.. I thought…"

Phantom shook her head, causing the pixie to squeal in annoyance as it was jostled around. "No one though if a certain elf sticks his pretty little nose into my business again, I might be more than willing to slice it clean off his face and hand it to him." She sat back in her chair swiping her fingers across her right cheek in an attempt to remove more of the shimmering dust. "To scare off small game as I hunt is one thing because honestly you are able to buy food for the table. But to call upon the fey of the woods to do his dirty work! That is beyond acceptable. Unless he treads carefully he could bring the wrath of the forest fey down on the town and all that live here." Again she shook her head causing another squeal from the pixie upon her shoulder. "He shall be considered lucky that I have dealt with such fey before and know what they can and will do to protect their territory."

The boy's eyes lit up, "Oh! What did you do?" he asked excitedly. He was never one to pass up a good story, especially when they involved magical creatures.

"I ignored the glitter of fools gold and false gems, laughed at their antics and accepted their tricks with good grace. Even when their trickery started out harmful before becoming harmless." Reaching up she poked at the pixie that had once again buried itself under her hair. "This one decided it liked my hair and has claimed it as its own territory. Must remind it of the turning of the leaves before winter sets in." Quickly she drew back her hand, mashing one finger as she did. A single drop of blood bloomed on the tip said finger. "And it is quick to the defense of what it thinks as its own too." She gave a huff of annoyance, shrugging her shoulders as she leaned forward to start eating. "Eat first child then I'll let you see if you can coax the little one out before I look for someone to deal with it that can send it back to whence it came."

Nadal sat back down, eagerly tucking into his dinner so he could have more time before bed to try and get the pixie to come out. His eyes constantly returning to where he last saw the tiny creature. His sister just rolled her eyes at her brother's antics but giggled none the less.

Phantom turned her head to the side to look at the older human sitting to her right. After several moments in which the human looked back at her unflinchingly she smirked. "I like this one. He hasn't run off screaming and isn't cower in a corner or whimpering pleas not to hurt him yet."

"It takes a bit more than a single female Drow to send me running," Artemis quipped back as he slid his chair closer to the table so that he could start eating.

"Oh? And what would send you running?"

"A color blind, bald male Drow with a horrible taste in fashion, a habit of chasing anything in a skirt, a questionable bit of sanity and an insatiable lust for treasure."

Phantom paused thinking the description over for several minutes. "The skirt chasing and questionable sanity can be blamed on normal Drow society. Acquiring of treasure is an acceptable hobby for anyone. The horrible fashion sense though….just how horrible are you talking about?"

The assassin took a sip from his glass of wine as he decided just how much to say. As notorious as Drow were in the first place, he wasn't sure how well know Jarlaxle truly was so decided to take a chance. "Skin tight leather breeches, polished knee high heeled boots, an offensively bright purple, large brimmed foppish hat with a huge white feather sprouting from the brim. If the weather is warm, a short bright red vest that can barely be fastened and exposes most of his stomach. If the weather is cold, high collared, long sleeved silk shirts in bright peacock colors."

"Yes.. yes that indeed would send the most hearty of adventurers running for their own sanity," Phantom conceded with a look of mock horror. "I prefer the more neutral of colors. Various shades of grey and blacks, earth tones along with dark reds or occasionally dark greens. I also do enjoy bright colors but have the good grace to know that most colors can and do clash atrociously with the color of my skin."

"Don't you mean they clash with your hair?" Artemis smirked.

The Drow gave the human a look before conceding his point. "Fine, most colors tend to clash with my hair. Why I was cursed with such a color I have yet to figure out. The normal white would have done just fine, I'd even been able to deal with silver or by the gods both above and below, the rather nasty shade of yellow." She gestured with one hand towards her hair.

"Have you ever tried to change it?" Robyn asked out of curiosity.

"Yes!"

Artemis had finished eating so was sitting back now in the chair slowly working on a second glass of wine. He was enjoying the conversation as well as studying his target. "So what happened?" he prompted earning himself a baleful golden glare.

"After various attempts by traveling companion who happened to be something of a wizard, I ended up with an eye searing combination of pinks. From roots to tips, not just one shade of pink mind you. From lurid bright pink to the palest of pinks and everything in between."

The look of utter disgust had the twins giggling too hard to continue eating while both their mother and uncle were at least attempting (and loosing) to keep something of a straight face. The assassin had no qualms about it and threw his head back with a roar of laughter.

Once he had stopped laughing so hard, Artemis spoke up once more. "So what did you do?"

The Drow downed the last of her drink before speaking. "I shaved it all off and let it grow back. Thankfully it grew back its natural (accursed) color you see now instead of one of the other colors. Took more than a decade for it to return to its former length though." She had also found a style of hat she liked during that first year or so. Flat topped with a brim that was about a hand span across. Wide enough to shade the eyes yet small enough not to interfere at the same time.

After dinner was finished, a desert of light flaky pastry filled with fall berries and covered in heavy sweet cream was served. Light conversation passed around until everyone was done eating. Then as promised Phantom allowed Nadal to try and coax the pixie out of her hair. It was a good try but didn't work.

"Sorry," Nadal said with a small sigh.

Phantom shrugged in reply. "Do not worry child. You tried your best and it seems this one is a stubborn little fey. Now off to clean up before bed."

The boy nodded then bid his uncle and his uncle's guest a good night before heading upstairs.

"I'll be back in a candlemark or two," Phantom said as she rose to retrieve her cloak from her room. "I'm going to the tavern to see if I can locate someone who can remove the pixie or point me towards someone who can."

The bard choose to stay and help clean up after dinner and to see the children to bed. "Don't get into too much trouble," he said with a laugh when Phantom reappeared with her silver-gray cloak.

"I rarely start trouble, just end it more often than not."

Artemis bid both the bard and the widow a good night as he left. Once outside though he waited on the porch of the building for the Drow. When she stepped out the door, he nodded to her then gestured down the street, "Mind if I join you on the way to the tavern?"

"Not at all," she inclined her head in response.

The pair traveled in silence to the tavern, acknowledging the town guard patrolling the streets in their own ways as they passed.