Caramel eyes, sharp like tempered steel, settled sharply on Ellasin. This was it, her Ambrosia-addled mind recognized. This was the moment that they got down to business and into the nitty-gritty. Into the treachery, the bloodshed, and the comeuppance of an angry, motivated pair with a mutual enemy to topple.
Maxine's vice kicked the dark parts of her mind into high gear, propelling her thoughts toward an unorganized whirlwind of chaotic strategy designed to wreak pain and havoc in her spiteful wake. It was during that focused spiral, leaning toward the table, that Audrae rose from her chair in her dress of darkness and shadow. For all her power and grace, it wasn't her menacing, active presence that won back her favored's attention. It was the sharp, mocking laugh she offered with the words she spoke to Ellasin.
Like a blast of unexpected, harsh winter wind, the moment froze and Maxine gave pause. Her blood ran cold. The inkling that something wasn't quite...right entered her consciousness. The drum of war and death stopped mid-beat, and instead her million miles an hour brain slammed on its brakes. She glanced toward Audrae and then the other hooded woman sitting before her.
Wear the Empress?
Slowly, Maxine fell back in her seat.
The weight of a reality she knew on some subconscious level was slow to up-take in her mind. That wasn't much of a shock though. So blinded and driven by hatred and fury was she that there was no room in her vision for anything else. In only the span of a couple trills she knew. She knew before she knew. Brow furrowed and face falling, Max found her shadow patron with a hard, accusing gaze.
"You set me up," Max said with contempt. "I am no daughter of yours." She never had a mother. Not at any moment in time that she could remember. Always the orphan, she knew nothing of what it was like to have a present parent. But this? This was not what mothers were supposed to do. The disappointment didn't last. Her own mother gave her up and left her to find herself here, having walked down this fucked up path. She hoped that woman was dead. Maybe this was what mothers did. And like the mother Maxine had, Audrae too abandoned her to her fate.
Ellasin proved not to be Ellasin at all. Hood and illusion cast away, Maxine discovered it was no mage she parlayed. She'd never met Famula. Not even when she'd spent time in her Zuudaria or among her abhorrent champions and servants. This woman fit that role though like a glove, and the marked woman knew this was the divine patron Faith Augustine devoted her entire existence to. The same woman Carter served when he tried to drive a dagger into her throat, unwarranted. The one too cowardly to fight her own battles and decreed her friends took up arms instead.
"Done hiding, you craven little cunt?" Max spat her acid between bared teeth, seat moving back as the top of the box fell open. Threatening overtones coloring the meeting before had bubbled to a roaring boil at her surface. Pure, hot hate consumed her entirely. Her wild eyes caught sight of the black leather leash. Understanding once more delayed for a trill until she felt the etching around her neck. She knew not what the Immortal was doing, but she knew it was another attack upon her. A stare as desperate as it was violently vengeful locked onto Famula as she spoke of the leash, Kura, and commands.
She's right here! End it all now!
Maxine hurled the table from her way, spilling Ambrosia ash, the leash, and alcohol upon the floor. The furious ex-convict lunged toward the Immortal, glowing right fist hunting for Famula's true face. The only thing her knuckles connected with was the thin air her target seemed to vanish in. She stumbled forward, twisting and turning in place as if she expected the woman to still be hiding elsewhere in her lounge.
"No, no, no," Max repeated, furiously shaking her head. "Come back! I said come back, you red-eyed bitch! I see you! I see what you are! Come back!" A chair became the casualty of her kicking boot. Even as she carried on, fists clenched and expression that of a woman thirsting for blood, it was devastating loss she felt. An alliance with Ellasin in her efforts had one true goal.
In exchange for her betrayal, Maxine had been trying to buy the life of her friends. A contingency plan, should Faith's strategies fail. If the Necromancer's forces prevailed and those tied to the attempt on the ex-convict's life were slain? Well, that was just a bonus satisfaction. Now? Burned by Famula's camp long before this trial and without the alliance with Ellasin? She had nothing.
Maxine tossed the finished joint, and remembering the sensation on her neck, raised a hand to her throat. Her pounding feet took her to the bathroom to gaze into the mirror. When she did her jaw fell slack and her muscles tensed. A black, chain spiked collar tattoo had been given life on her skin. Her memories drifted back to the box, the leash, and Famula's decree that she would be commanded. Blood drained from her face. She was no fool to think this was like her run-ins with her own patron Immortals. This was no blessing. This was a cruel, unforgivable curse.
The mirror was shattered by a quick fist. Bottles came off the shelves of the bar next. Breaking glass and groaning furniture played the background symphony for slews of shouted profanities. No employee dared enter the business despite the havoc they heard inside. Those still lurking quietly took their leave. The front door was locked at some point during the violent tirade.
Even as Maxine destroyed her surroundings, surroundings that meant something deeply to her, the black leash found itself safely back in the box and unharmed. The discreet back door to The Red Hand was left unlocked. The thought to leave did not cross her mind. This was the only place she expected Nell to return to, and whether she realized it or not yet, she had Famula's command to fulfill.