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Introduction – The Necromancer and the Weaver

Here it is: the introduction of Agents Tirsaer and Ryni. While I mostly own them, I do not own the PPC. That's owned by Jay and Acacia. Neither do I own the Abhorsen series Tirsaer likes to call "home"—that's owned by Garth Nix.

* * *

The room was gray, although at some point somebody had obviously become displeased with the situation and attempted to brighten things up slightly. Just as obviously, someone else had taken offense at the changes and did their best to tone it down again. The end result was of almost complete dullness, broken here and there with bursts of color.

Two narrow camping cots, one neatly made in somber gray and the other with rumpled red-and-yellow striped sheets, huddled against opposite walls, with a flimsy folding table set up between them. The more brightly colored of the two had several small stacks of books piled beside it. Two equally flimsy chairs, bright blue fabric stretched over dented aluminum, sat on either side of the table, with another, folded chair pushed underneath. On top, a plastic container containing rows of embroidery floss arranged by color sat open next to a small pair of scissors, a roll of duct tape, and a tangled ball of multicolored thread.

A large bookshelf leaned against the wall by the door, the titles on the shelves ranging from Tolkien's classic Lord of the Rings to Pratchett's Discworld series. Garth Nix's Abhorsen series had been given a spot of honor on the shelves, carefully separated from the rest by bookends covered with unmoving Charter Marks, and seemed slightly more worn than the others.

One wall was mostly taken up by the console, the large, blinking not-exactly-a-computer built into the gray Generic Surface. In front of it sat a maroon swiveling chair, battered and torn, and in the chair sat a tall blond man.

He sat with one black-clad leg crossed over the other, holding a thin paperback novel open in one hand and tapping his fingers against the arm of the chair with the other. An odd weapon, like a cross between an oversized cotton swab and a sword, leaned against the chair by his hand. As he read, he hummed along with his headphones, the wires of which trailed down to a pocket in his dull red leather jacket. The jacket hung open in front, revealing both the black uniform and bandolier of bells he wore underneath. Combined with the Charter Mark on his forehead, the bells showed him as a native to the Abhorsen continuum.

Every now and then he glanced up, either at the console in front of him or at the door leading from the room. Occasionally he leaned back, his chair groaning, only to jolt up again with a horrified expression and a fearful glance at the console. Whenever this happened, he continued to sit on the edge of his seat for a few minutes, staring, before finally easing himself back into the chair.

Eventually, he more felt than heard heavy footsteps outside the door. They paused, and then the door slammed open and a short woman strode into the room.

Sighing, the man sitting before the console slid a bookmark between the pages of his novel and pulled off his headphones, lifted the swab leaning on the chair into his lap, and spun around to face her. "How'd it go, Ryni?"

"I feel dirty, unclean," Ryni snarled, hurling herself into a folding chair by the table and snatching up the tangled string. "The air in my lungs is tainted, the blood in my veins impure."

"You know what the cafeteria's like," he pointed out reasonably. "If you really needed something, I have protein bars and chocolate here. Or I could have just gotten you something myself."

Fingers working at a knot in the thread, she glared up at him from behind gray-brown bangs. "Surely you of all people, Tirsaer, would realize the importance holding misery close to the heart, so it shall not fly free and darken all it touches."

"Suit yourself." Deciding to follow his own advice, Tirsaer pulled a half eaten chocolate bar from the pocket of his jacket and bit out a large chunk. "So, anything interesting happen while you were out defiling yourself?"

Not bothering to look up from the green thread she was in the process of teasing from the knot, Ryni scowled in answer. "Aye. Agent Nara did approach me as I left that place of filth for the security and safety of this quiet haven."

"Nara?" Tirsaer raised his eyebrows as he took another bite. "Haven't seen that one since the whole mess with the urple duct tape. Anything new?"

"Another partner, gone and vanished into the labyrinthine hallways from whence she first came." With a final tug, the thread came free, and she began winding it about a plastic bobbin pulled from the box of string.

"What? Another one?" Groaning, Tirsaer finished the chocolate and shook his head. "Shame. I liked Farrir, even with all her crazy pink-haired-ness." He crumpled the wrapper into a ball and tossed it towards a wire trashcan. Falling short, it rolled a few inches to land among the dirty tissues scattered around the trashcan's base. "Any word on the new partner?"

"None to speak of. Knowing Agent Nara as I do, however, it seems more likely than not that if the Flowers That Be fail to quickly assign one, one will be found."

"Heh. Yeah, you may be right. Nara's like that." He shook his head and sighed. "Really, there's nothing wrong with sticking to the rules occasionally."

"Thus speaks the necromancer." Ryni lifted a bobbin of scarlet thread to the light, tilting it this way and that thoughtfully.

An outraged silence, then Tirsaer surged to his feet. "Purely academic, purely academic!" he protested heatedly, clutching at his bandolier. The swab, ignored, tumbled to his feet. "I would never, never actually resurrect someone! Only if they really deserved it, or it was a special circumstance, or... or something! And if I did, I would certainly restore all their memories and free will and everything! But it doesn't matter anyway, because I'm not going to!"

"Tirsaer."

"Everyone thinks that all necromancers have to be evil and cackle and smell like dead people!" he continued, tears starting in his eyes. "But I serve the Charter as well as anyone! I just serve it by studying the ways of Death and Free Magic! Does that make me evil? I think not!"

"Tirsaer."

"Demons are given a second chance! So are all sorts of thieves and killers and lawyers! So why can't I have one, too?"

"Tirsaer."

"What?"

A wry smile twisting her mouth, Ryni looked at him and shook her head. "There are occasions when the words of others should be held as less than the air it takes to form them."

Closing his mouth, Tirsaer blinked rapidly several times. "Oh," he weakly managed. "You were kidding?"

"Aye, Tirsaer." She bent her head towards the table once more, snatching several bobbins of thread from the case and spreading it out before her. "I was speaking out of simple mischief, no more."

"That's all right then, I guess." Lowering himself into the char, he lifted the swab from the floor and gently set it on his lap. Biting his lip, he remained silent for a time before finally speaking once more. "I'm sorry, but I really hate when people get into the whole 'haha evil necromancer' thing."

"Aye, Tirsaer."

"I mean, the books make it pretty clear that it's not necromancy itself that's evil, just the people that use it. Free Magic's so corrosive and destructive that the only ones willing to take the risk are those who care about power above everything else. Except for the Abhorsens, anyway."

"Aye, Tirsaer."

"Doesn't Sabriel herself bring back a friend's dead pet in the first chapter, then feel bad because, and I quote, 'It was no great step from bringing back a rabbit to bringing back a person'? What about Sabriel's own rather unusual birth? What about when the Dog tells Lirael that the Clayr have been known to dabble in Free Magic? While we're on the subject, what about the Free-Magic-iness of both the Dog and Mogget? What about Nick? I could go on for hours!"

"Tirsaer?"

"Yes?"

"The current subject has traveled far, far beyond the limits of a reasonable conversation and into the realm of the obsessive and paranoid. If you must continue to free your thoughts upon the air, a change in topic is required, lest the consequences you invoke be not to your liking."

"Oh. Sorry."

In the silence that followed, Ryni unwound five lengths of variously colored thread and tied them together. As she began to knot the string into a rather intricate chain, Tirsaer tapped his fingers on the arms of his chair and squinted thoughtfully into the distance.

"Hey, Ryni?" he eventually said, after several minutes had passed with his partner seeming content to remain silent.

"Aye?"

"You ever wondered what would happen if we stole all the Bleeprin from Medical, hid it all over Headquarters, booby-trapped it, and left a treasure map?"

"... My mind is free from the consideration of such actions."

"Well, what do you think would happen?" Tirsaer persisted.

Pursing her lips thoughtfully, Ryni paused in her weaving. "Blood and chaos, death and destruction, flame and rage. Those burning with pain and fury wailing, cursing, vainly following hollow instructions leading to nowhere. Madness rising, clutching, tearing normality and shredding sanity to tattered remnants."

"Mmm." Tirsaer considered this. "Sounds interesting," he soon decided. "Want to give it a shot?"

At this point, the conversation was interrupted by a sound they knew all too well, and over time had begun to alternately regard with dread, excitement, and resignation.

[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!]

Spinning the chair around, Tirsaer brought the swab up to scrape along the side of the console and over several flashing buttons, leaving in its wake blackened metal and a stench of burning.

[BEEEEEEEEE-urp]

"Regretfully, it seems we must now be off to bring our own destruction down upon one who would, with shining claws and poisoned smile, rip beloved canon to shreds." Ryni set down the thread and pushed back her chair, wandering over to peer at the console. "And you would do well to treat equipment with more respect, lest it turn against you."

"Ah, well. Another time, maybe." Tirsaer lowered the swab and leaned forward. "Now, what do we get to kill today?"

And shortly after, the room was empty, the console occasionally whirring and beeping to itself in the stillness.

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