Hold Them Close
IC date: Winter 25
OOC date: 13/01/13
PCs: Hemlcok, Zula
NPCs: None
GM: None

Another evening - another rain storm. Zula trots down the Main Street intent on picking up a few supplies - all her 'crew' seem to be MIA ATM - she's reduced to this mundane chore.

Zula may be shocked to see one of her crew directly ahead! Hemlock is, once again, outside and playing in the rain. The only difference between now and last time, is he has Crocky now, who is his best friend eternal. Thankfully, Hemlock is looking exactly the wrong direction to see Zula at the moment.

Zula trots right up behind Hemlock - who appears to be completely oblivious to her presence at the moment. Once she's all but upon the stallion she speaks up. "Hemlock. What are you doing?" announcing her presence at almost point-blank range

Hemlock stops playing immediately, though he doesn't look shocked. "I am playing in the rain, mistress Zula." He whirls around, a big smile on his face. Zula is a friend, why would he be anything but happy? "Somepony in town has to keep spirits up!" So says the drenched stallion playing alone in the rain on an empty street.

Zula looks down at Hemlock then around at the empty, wet, cold street. "You'll catch a death of a cold out here…that would be bad for business. Up." she begins to trot forward then stops to glance over her shoulder at Hemlock. "I will allow you to purchase me a cup of coffee." Really a way to get the stallion off the street.

Hemlock frowns for the first time today. "But playing in the rain is fun! I'm tougher than that, you…" The rest tapers off in to incoherent grumbling. A couple seconds later, he's all smiles again, trotting after his favourite zebra. "A cup of coffee? I would love to take you on a date, Zula, you just had to ask." He exaggerates the wink.

The chilly air about Zula seems to grow all the colder as Hemlock grumbles - Zula softly asking "You…what?" staring at Hemlock without blinking…a tad unsettling.

Hemlock is used to it by now. "Oh I'm just joking Zula, let's get some coffee. You know I appreciate how much to take care of me." He tone is a lot less jovial and more sincere.

A quiet moment passes before Zula agrees "As you wish…" the mare trotting towards the closest little cafe.

Hemlock feels he needs to make something up to the mare. Being gentlecoltly would probably help. Holding the door open for her, he bows. "After you, Zula."
Zula trots into the cafe then stops to hang her rain coat. "Back home the rain was never such a big pain." She'll pretend she didn't hear that and continues her way into the cafe to take a seat.

Hemlock hangs up his own raincoat, chuckling as he join Zula at the table. "Yeah, it's quite a storm. It's been like this for a while, even starting to put a damper on my mood!" Zula should know how hard that is, Hemlock is rarely not seen smiling. "Could be worse though, I like this town well enough. How about you Zula, how are you settling in?"

Zula glances left then right at Hemlock's question before calmly replying. "It's…crowded." While it's obvious there quite a few ponies about - Zula is likely talking about something a little less obvious. "I'm glad you're settling in Hemlock." though she doesn't sound it or look it - but she really is! "You and Bomani will be quite busy the next few days."

Hemlock eyes her curiously. Before he continues, he notes the 'crowded' comment, he's learnt by now that Zula is a pony to keep a careful eye on how she's feeling. "So you've said, Zula. Unfotunately, I still don't know who I'm going after. That's quite a handicap, if I knew /who/ it was, I could 'prepare' accordingly." He makes no secret of his 'preperations' being poisons, which are tailor made for every client. She should know that by now.

Zula nods softly as the waitress offers coffee then proceeds to feel a mug. "Queen-Pegasus." Zula calmly explains "She is without crew, and suffered a near fatal injury. This window of opportunity is closing quickly." adding a hint of sugar and cream to her coffee- hardly enough to make a difference.

Hemlock takes it rather well, all things considered. Hid face goes rather pale and he stops moving, but the smile is there and nopony was hurt, chalk up a victory for self control. "Zula, if you wanted me out of the group, you could just ask me to leave. There's no need to kill me off." He's uninterested in a hot drink himself, or for now at least.

Zula motions towarsd the table before her. "You cannot continue to cower or allow fear to cloud your judgement. This is a opportune moment, but if you wish sit on the side-lines I will allow it. I shall acquire a suitable replacement for this mission only. I understand you are uncomfortable with RED-level missions."

Hemlock scowls at that, that's not fair. "Oh come off it, I can take on just about anything this world could throw at me. But I wouldn't be happy taking Queen Pegasus on if I had the entire royal guard at my back and she was asleep at the time." He puts his hooves on the table, his face dead serious. "Listen, the life I was in before I became a hero? We had one rule: You don't mess with Queen Pegasus." He closes his eyes, taking a couple deep breaths. "I'll help you, but don't expect me to be happy about it."

Zula softly shakes her head. "Your own fear and doubts are your greatest opponent - it was unwise of me to consider involving you. I apologize." the mare sipping her coffee - it may take a moment for Hemlock to register - but yes, Zula just apologized!

Hemlock is more insulted. "Fear, miss Zula, is what being a hero is all about. It's what keeps me going when times are tough, and what keeps me alive despite the odds. I suggest you be very, very careful when you confront the Queen. You know I will take on anypony, but that mare is scary." He leans back in his chair and orders a coffee from a nearby waitress. "But I don't think I can join you on this one. Suicide isn't part of our deal." Only now does he register that the zebra apoligsed, and his frown softens somewhat

Zula doesn't look afraid - matter of fact she doesn't look much of anything very often does she. Another sip of the hot coffee provides some much needed warmth. "True fear lies within the unknown." she comments off-hoovedly. "I do not think less of you for this decision.

Hemlock takes a vial of something from his saddlebag and adds it to the coffe, which somehow becomes blacker. He really doesn't understand how ponies can drink this weak stuff. "Yeah, whatever." He looks really upset as he takes a sip. The coffee does settle him down a bit though. "I'll continue to gather information around town, see if there's any jobs I can do by myself to keep us in pocket. If you come back, find me. I'll be in one of my camps near the edge of town."

Zula cranes her head to oneside before softly commenting. "There is no doubt that I will return. I'm afraid we have very different expectations of one another."

Hemlock nods, never really sure of where he stands. "Of course, I only expect the best from you Zula. I'm just worried, is all. I want you to come back safe, Bomani too, even that little colt Starchild."

Zula replies with a small nod. "Of course - I understand you mean us no harm."

Hemlock places a hoof on one of Zula's. "No, I want you to promise me you'll bring them abck safe. Even if it means losing the target. Bomani may be sturdy, but he doesn't have my immortality. Starchild barely knows what he's doing. You are the only one I know who can get them out of this mess. You're the only pony who can frighten me mroe than the Queen, so you promise me, okay?"

Zula calmly replies "I've no intention of harboring their spirits." Certainly she's the last pony that would want someone to die; cause she'd be the first any angry spirit would bother.

Hemlock leans back again, taking a sip of his coffee. "Okay, I'll trust you. That's a lot, coming from me Zula, especially to a zebra."