“Ohmygod! Is your name Babenon Dosal?! Do you ha-have you ever been to the Menagerie Coast?! Ohmygod, do you know the Ruby of the Sea?!”
The Gentleman sat upright in bed, the woman beside him still snoring softly. He glanced at her warily knowing he had just heard someone familiar. As he roused to full wakefulness he realized the voice that had woken him had belonged to one of the Nein. The little blue tiefling. How did she know the Ruby? How did she know his name? Most importantlywhywas this tiefling asking these questions.
“Hello Gentleman. This is Jester. Please respond…just yes if you kn-have seen the Ruby. Please? Is that twenty? Oh! Ah! Shit! Balls!” The girl’s tone held trepidation, as if whatever he answered would shape her world in some way.
The water genasi breathed in deeply before exhaling and responding to the spell, “No, that’s preposterous.”
He laid back down to go to sleep but all he could think of was the time, years ago when he knew Marion Lavorre. A simpler time before she was The Ruby of the Sea, and before he was The Gentleman.
She was beautiful, his ruby-skinned lover. They had met one night as he wandered into the inn where she was performing. Just a young thing, introduced merely as Marion. Her voice was soothing, and it reminded him in a way of the Sirens from home. Sweet, promising things that he was sure this woman had few intentions of filling for every person listening, seemingly innocent but the hint, the promise, of danger lying deep below. The entire time he had been hard pressed to look away. He wanted to go up to her after but he saw other men stand to crowd her, so he forced himself to stay seated, making sure that his gaze stayed squarely on her face and followed her as she walked the inn. Eventually her fans were distracted or calmed and even this budding star couldn’t ignore the persistent stare she felt on her neck.
He beckoned to the chair across from him, casually, as if he owned this city. She pursed her lips and he could see her debating if she should take the chance. Babenon did the same thing he would if this were a business meeting—he trusted his luck. He leaned back, cocking an eyebrow in challenge, never breaking eye contact. After a moment the singer found her way to his table.
“Might I join you?” She asks, and where he’d thought her singing tantalizing even magical, he now realized that those qualities were present in her body language and her talking voice as well.
“But of course. I’d love to order you a meal, I’m sure you’ve worked up quite the appetite entertaining all these people.”
They sit for the rest of the night talking, Marion telling him of her childhood and how she had worked her way up from other inns, singing and providing other comforts, though few knew that she offered things up other than her voice. Eventually they moved up to her rooms and spent the night talking to each other, so wrapped up in their conversation that they were both surprised when they realized the sun was rising. Babenon took his leave promising to see her again soon.
And see her again soon he did. The very next night. Marion was surprised to see the blue skinned man again that much was clear to him when she made eye contact during her show. After all her admirers left and she returned to his table she even told him so.
“I thought you might not be real,” she tells him softly, as the meal he had already ordered for her is slid in front of her.
“Because, for the first time in a long time, I had a conversation that was…fun. I didn’t have to worry about entertaining you. I got to just be me. I didn’t think that was an option for me anymore. Even with as little renown as I have.”
“I’m delighted to be that for you. I too think that you’re a very refreshing change of pace from what my normal life holds for me. And on the topic of your renown, you seem to be doing just fine on your own, but a nickname? That’ll add mystery. Can never go wrong with that.”
“And what would you suggest?” A playful grin flirts at him from across the table and he can’t help himself.
“The Ruby. Some people might look down on you cause you’re red, same the do to me cause I’m blue. Might as well make it one of the things you’re proudest of.”
“I’ll give it some thought. So Babenon, are you here just for the show or do you have some time to spend with me?”
“I always have time for you Marion.”
The next year passed by so quickly it felt like it had a haste spell cast upon it. Babenon filled his days with Marion as much as he could, taking her to markets and beaches and anywhere else she might like to go. She confided in him that she had grown up in a much smaller town and sometimes the city of Nicodranas made her a little anxious for all that she loved it, but when she was with him she said it wasn’t as bad. They talked of a life together, and Babenon found himself wanting a change from the life he currently led. It would be dangerous to include Marion in it. This view only solidified when she found out that she was pregnant. He wanted to marry her right away, and she wanted him as well. His heart was so swollen with happiness. But first he had to get away from the Myriad. He begged her to give him time to take care of things, set his house in order he told her. Babenon could see the pain such a request caused her but eventually Marion agreed.
“Take care, and return to me soon, my gentle Babenon,” Marion sighed into him as she kissed him goodbye. He told her he’d have one of his friends watch out for her, and then he left to see the Myriad in Rexentruum.
When he got a letter from Nicodranas from Dwandath that a rival looking for him had attacked Marion one morning he was furious. But the Myriad had given him a job to do regarding the woman who led the Zadash Myriad and if he completed it soon they would let him leave. He had to do this to protect her and their child. Three months later he had finished the job, depositing the woman to the Myriad in Rexentruum. They gave him the choice, he could lead the Zadash Myriad or he could leave forever. He had recently gotten another letter from Dwandath that Marrion had given birth to a healthy daughter, a little blue tiefling, though she hadn’t left the inn since being attacked. She was hiding the child, telling those who knew enough of anything to ask at all—besides Dwandath as she knew he was a friend—that the babe had died. She also was going by the Ruby of the Sea now, and doing quite well for himself.
Deciding to put their safety first, Babenon wrote back that he should take care of any rivals remaining in Nicodranas and then move on to another port city. He was going to stay in Zadash and handle things there. He directed any further correspondence be directed towards The Gentleman before he closed his letter.
Marion would be a good mother he knew. She would make sure no harm befell their child. And he would keep his business far from there. Any port business would be conducted wherever Dwandath ended up. Let others handle the Myraid business in Nicodranas.
It had been three weeks since Jester left yet again. Her little Sapphire. One of the loves of her life. Though she had not thought of the other love much, except when Jester asked growing up. Since finding out that Jester may have met her father Marion found her thoughts turning to Babenon more often. He had said that he would come back. His friend had asked about the baby and then had disappeared. She had always thought that the two were tied and that it also had to do with his rival looking for him. Babenon would deny himself happiness if he thought it would ultimately help those he loved.
She was tired though. And lonely. She had a few friends at the Lavish Chateau but none that filled her life the way he had. But Jester said that she didn’t think that the Gentleman was her father. She explained to her mom that she had been using extra spells when it was safe to cast Sending towards this man and further explain herself. He had never answered in a positive way though.
Well, she thought to herself, Jester is not the only one who can send a message. Marion Lavorre then wrote several letters and had messengers take them to people she thought could help it get to where it needed. Starting chiefly to this man, The Gentleman. It was the exact sort of thing Babenon would start to call himself. For all that Marion loved Jester, Babenon would be able to ignore her if he tried hard enough. He was a stubborn man, and if this Gentleman was Babenon he would convince himself that Jester was just a young nuisance looking for a father. She was hoping that the renown of The Ruby would make her harder to ignore. Her little Sapphire was out in the world and so was her gentle Babenon. She would figure out how to get to them too.