This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)

Storyteller

A carnival air suffuses the castle and its inhabitants today, as if the
building itself were as pleased to have its owners back as its owners
are to return to it. Everyone is jovial, and the corridors are
full of nobles and servants alike laughing and joking.

Everyone's in a good mood – except for the Duchess, who as usual is rolling d20 for her mood every few minutes*,
and her two sons, whom no-one as seen hide nor hair of since they
arrived. And, unfortunately, finding them has just become your
job.

There are few words that ever pass the Duchess' lips that people fear
more than a sentence starting with “Could you do me a favour,
and…” For some reason, people never seem to refuse her.
At least, you've never *met* anyone who's refused…

Still, that seems to be your job for the moment. Find the
princes. Pah, what a task! A task befitting a servant,
that's what, not a noble!

Last time you spoke to him, Abel was holding a cup of cocoa and wearing
a dressing gown. He's probably enjoying not sleeping rough for
the first time in several weeks. As for Cain – who knows.

* OOC: Don't worry, I'm not *actually* rolling d20 for her mood swings. Although I'm tempted sometimes =p


Azimov

Azimov sighed at his reflection in the small mirror. He adjusted the
white frills of his uniform and checked his sword was secure at his
belt. He knew it made the others nervous to see a fey carrying a piece
of human steel, but what better a weapon? Finally content that his
reflection suited his mood he took a light step left from the roof
beams in the main hall and dropped gracefully to the floor. After
several hundred years of living high falling was more an inconvenience
than a problem.

Stepping outside, nodding to the somewhat astonished guards at the door
Azimov took a deep breath and moved into the woods a short way until he
found the stand of hazel. It was just as he'd remembered. With a flick
of the wrist the sword removed a branch and was sheathed in a fluid
motion. Grasping the waist high, still green stick and resting it over
his shoulders Azimov moved towards the nobles quarters. Cain and Abel
would be somewhere and the best place to look would be where their
things were.

Azimov reached the doors to the high noble's halls and sauntered
through confident in locating a likely person to ask of the young
princes whereabouts.


Azimov

Looking around the inside of the entryway and seeing no-one a slight
frown crossed Azimov's face. Now where in the world would the guards
be? or the servants? Well it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume the
servants would be in the kitchens or bedrooms attempting to repair the
damage done by enemy looters. It was then that he caught a glimpse of
movement.

Dropping into a combat stance, holding the willow as a sword Azimov
scanned the far side of the entrance hall and spotted… A potato. With
four legs. Dragging a piece of rope.

Something was very wrong here. Azimov waited for the potato to
disappear round the corner and as softly and quietly as possible
followed, clinging to the shadows.


Storyteller

As Azimov trails the rope-trailing potato, it gradually dawns on him
that the castle is not as quiet as he would have expected. In
fact, it sounds awfully like a rowdy mob is rampaging around. A
rowdy mob that sounds quite a lot like it's… behind him.

Hearing the increased volume, the potato quickly darts off down the corridor, still dragging its rope.

Azimov turns to see a few sprightly-looking servants appear from around a corner a few yards back down the corridor.

“'Scuse me, mi'lord,” one of them asks as he runs up to Azimov, “has ya' seen a 'tater 'round 'ere?”

A fraction of a second before he has the chance to reply, the rest of
what does in fact turn out to be a rowdy mob appears around the corner
too. It numbers three dozen or more, and barrels past Azimov down
the corridor led by a man in red-and-white livery blowing a horn and
shouting “Return this instant, damn starchy tuber!”


Azimov

Flattening himself further into the wall to avoid being trampled by the
unruly mob of servants and guards Azimov noticed a general theme in the
mob's weaponry. They all seemed to be wielding forks…

After the mob had passed Azimov stepped back into the corridor and
confronted the servant who looked somewhat dazed and was brushing
himself off, having just been run over by said fork wielding mob.

“Would you happen to know where the princes are? I must speak with them on behalf of the duchess.”


Storyteller

“Oi, oi, oi… Oi 'ave no oidea, milord,” the servant replied.
“Oi was just 'own 'elpin' out wiv t'kitchens, an' all'f suddin 'all was
chasin' out 'door!”

“Still,” he continued, “them say tha' tha' 'landra lady's bin wiv
t'princes all since we got back, sah nowt ken wha' theh may be up tah.”

With that, the man made an excuse involving the Duchess' starch-free
wrath and darted off down the corridor, leaving only the faint
confusion of his unpredicatble accent in his wake.


Azimov

Azimov imperceptibly shrugged as he watched the servant hurry off
waving the fork above his head, vainly attempting to catch up with the
mob. There was clearly only one thing for it, he'd have to check the
princes room and hope he was in. Azimov headed up the stairs, noting
the occasional darting shadow that marked the passing of an un-evicted
rat, or, possibly a potato?

Reaching Abels door first Azimov knocked lightly and politely awaited a response, he could hear some kind of scuffling within.


Storyteller

“Come in!” comes the somewhat strained reply. “Ah! Why,
you… Um, I mean, I'm sorry! Please come in. Just
don't let the damn thing escape when you do!”


Azimov

Azimov sighed and placed one hand gently to his temple. This would not
end well… he just knew it. He readies his “sword” and pressed the
door open stepping in but a moment later with a resounding crack of the
willow cane at about boot height, just ready to catch the fleeing
potato.

Except it wasn't there. Having safely inserted himself into the room,
secure in the knowledge the potato was still inside azimov was greeted
with the most bizzare sight…


Storyteller

Abel's room normally being the tidiest place in all the castle, Azimov
is surprised to find it in uproar. All manner of things are
scattered across the floor, the shelves, the bed… and in some cases
even the walls and the ceiling.

After a moment or two for it all to sink in, the most truly ridiculous
fact about the scene strikes. Both Abel and a limbed potato seem
to have paused to examine the newcomer from the positions they happened
to have found themselves in – the potato skittering across a
now-inkstained writing desk, and Abel himself hanging upside-down from
the chandelier brandishing in the potato's direction an extremely heavy
copy of Sproutling and Turtleneck's Garden Almanack.

“Oh, hello,” Abel says during the somewhat surreal pause.

The potato squeaks what appears to be a greeting to Azimov, then a
clear taunt at Abel – and the madcap chase begins anew with Abel
launching himself uncharacteristically swiftly at the desk just as the
potato jumps for the floor…


Azimov

still somewhat confused at the palace invasion of potatoes Azimov
remains still by the door observing the madcap chase as both prince and
potator shoot over beds, round desks and, at least once, up the wall.
After about a minute of observing the potatoes evasive action Azimov
too three brisk steps forward bringing the willow down right in front
of the potato.

The four limbes tuber speaked in panic and leapt, characteristically to
the left… right into Azimovs waiting hand. The potato almost
immediately wriggled free and leapt away… right onto prince abels
chest. The young prince savagely grabbed the potato with a cry of
triumph. Azimov grinned in triumph and shouldered the willow.

“Well caught my friend! However did such a small vegetable cause so much havoc?” Azimov asked enquiringly of Abel.

“Please excuse my somewhat less than regal behaivior old friend but
this little thing is incredibly fast. What was it you wanted?” Abel
asked.

“The evening meal will be occuring at seven my lord and your mother has
requested your presence. In full court regalia i'm afraid, even those
tight's you hate.” Azimov smiled apologetically at the stricken look on
the young princes face. “I believe there are to be several dances and
numerous games. Would you happen to know you brothers location my lord?
I need to track him down and make sure he is ready for the meal, and
dressed appropriately.”


Ilandra

meanwhile… ilandra looked out the door to see what the commotion was
about and spotted several potatoes running around and causing havoc.
she smiled to herself and said, to no-one in particular “a pooka
couldn't have planned it better” concentrating hard for a second she
transformed into a cat, this time taking her clothes with her.

“better go investigate and make sure cain is ok” she ran into cain's
room only to find him gone, so turning back she decided to check if he
was with his brother.

As she left the room, she tripped a noble up “oh sorry!” she exclaimed. “no chance you'd help me find cain, is there?”

[Private to Azimov:
i don't know what your character looks like so i couldn't really
describe him… sorry for butting into your prologue
]


Azimov

Azimov looked round from his prone position, flat on the floor to
see… A cat. A tabby cat. after a quick rifle of his memory (still
somewhat fuzzy after sleeping for three years) a name surfaced and with
it some memories.

“Illandra! It's me Azimov. It's great to see you again! I've been
looking for Cain myself and according to his brother he's off hiding in
the library again. probbably in a fort made from the sofa's again”

Azimov very evidently rolled his eyes and grinned.

“Wanna help me go find him?”


Storyteller

From somewhere in the castle, a horribly slow grating sound of stone rubbing against stone echoes…


Azimov

Azimov's brows knit in thought briefly.

“That sounds awfully like… something that shouldn't be opened! That's
one of the secret doors going. Damn! C'mon Illandra, the prince can
wait. I need to find out who's messing with my defences!”

With that Azimov tears off down the corridor towards the source of the
noise, his mind racing trying to remember which one of the secret
entrances was in need of oiling so badly.


Azimov

Azimov and Illandra skittered out into the courtyard and stopped in
shock looking at the potato sat in front of the complex controls of the
giant… Thing. Rising from the tower. Azimov stepped back into the
shadows to observe the carnage gently pulling Illandra behind cover.

“I have… no idea what that is. But it's one of Gustaffsens idea's for
certain… And i'm sure he should be the one dealing with it. Damnit.
where is he?”

It was at this point Azimov began to finally grasp the severity of the
situation. The tallest tower in the castle has, apparently, been taken
by hostile (or at least hugely mischevous) forces and they hold control
of one of Gustaffsens devices. This does not bode well for the future.
Azimov began scanning the tower for possible ways in and racking his
mind, trying to remember which secret passages in the castle led into
the tower.


Azimov

Azimov stared in blank amazement for a moment as the extremely (un)
athletic Gustaffsen sails overhead and lands neatly in a lower window
of the tower. Azimov, realising that he may be in need of some
assistance formulated a hasty plan.

After raiding the castle toolshed to get the longest tree rake possible
(well over eight feet) azimov ran to the base of the tower, dodging
some of the temporary missiles, leaned the pole against the tower wall
and shinned up (ooc: probbably on about the third attempt knowing my
luck ^_^. Athletics + Strength).

And hared after the now sprinting Gustaffsen with a grand cry back to Illandra of “Don't get into too much mischief!”


Ilandra

ilandra looked as hurt as it is possible for a tabby to look… “as if! ….bored now” and slunk off to look for cain

I wonder if taters are yummy…

after much slinking,(and to be honest, the fact she could faintly hear
cain's worried voice and had followed it) ilandra finally manages to
crash into cain's leg… ok, moment of truth “I wanna be your cat in shining armour and save you from the food”

ilandra could feel herself changing back again as she did whenever she was nervous.
“azzy said the taters could kill you and stuff… so I figured I better
tell you before I get killed by a tater… I found you a shiny” she
produced a shiny buckle from her pocket and handed it to him. “now lets
run away together and help azimov” she grabbed cain's hand and pulled
him after her

[ooc] sorry, just got the web back [/ooc]


Storyteller

“Wha..? Oh no, not again…” Cain sighed as the now human and
thoroughly naked Ilandra dragged him from his room and through the
winding corridors of the castle.

“Cat in shining armour?” he mused, but didn't find the courage to actually say. “Oh dear…”

“Um, Ilandra,” he half-whispered as soon as he got the chance.
“Where are we going? And, erm, shouldn't you… put some clothes
on?”


Storyteller

From somewhere outside a loud throbbing sound starts to make itself
heard, first through the feet, then through the ears, then seemingly
directly into the brain.

As the pitch and frequency of the noise rises, the air begins to take
on a strange consistency – still air-like, but consisting of tiny
independent vibrations that feel odd against the skin. Kind of
like standing in gaseous facial scrub soap, in fact.


Ilandra

ilandra blushed “erm… yeah… can I steal your cape please?” without
waiting for a reply she put her arms around him and unpinned the cape
then wrapped it round her. in doing so she caught a glimpse of the
tower outside, where azimov was doing a pretty good job of being ok
halfway up it… I don't think he really needs my help… and I might be able to use this opportunity to my advantage with cain…
having covered herself up she turned to cain, who'd gone as red as she
was… “sorry about that, I tend to be more careful than that but you
make me nervous….” she looked at his expression “…not in a bad
way… just, you erm.. you distract me. anyway let's go find a dress,
you can help me choose and that way I can keep you safe like I promised
azzy”


Storyteller

“Right. Yes, er… Anyway,” Cain stuttered. “You
still have dresses here? That weren't, you know, plundered by the
enemy or anything? Wow. I guess I've been travelling for so
long that I'd forgotten what having more than one set of clothes is
like…”

“Well, if we're off to choose you a dress, lead on!”


Ilandra

after much turning corners they get to ilandra's room where she opens
her wardrobe to reveal a bevy of dresses of all different colours…
“right… pick one”
she picks out the one cain was pointing at and nods her approval “but
you have to shut your eyes while I dress… it's not proper to stare at
naked ladies” not that he hasn't seen me naked or anything…
dressing over, it suddenly dawns on ilandra that in all the cafuffle of
the taters no-one's checked on regara. “caaaaaain…” she say, sugar
dripping from every letter “do you reckon your mum needs a cat in
shining armour too?” please let him say no, please let him say no
“cos maybe we ought to check on her… she seemed a bit off with me… I think she might be ill…”


Storyteller

“Cat in shining armour? I can think of plenty of things she'd
need more.” Cain paused for a moment. “In fact, I'm having
trouble thinking of anything she'd need less.”

“So, er,” he continued, “now you're dressed again, what was it you said
we were supposed to be doing? Helping Azimov? What on earth
would he need help with?”


Ilandra

“I'm not sure Azimov really needs our help… he seemed perfectly fine
to climb the tower… but he said how we have to keep the princes
healthy and happy. We could always go find Abel… or ice cream…
hmm… ice cream…” she checks her 'watch' “can you take me to the
hummums? cos it's safe time.” she looks thoughtful for a second while
cain panics. “abel can take me!!!! lets go find abel!!!”
cain inwardly groans, wishing life with ilandra was less hassle.
she grabs his hands and takes him to the fireplace, chucking in a key
as they approach, cain starts to panic before he realises they've just
walked into able's room and ilandra is now picking up the key. “you
have to have some secret passages in the house you know…” she offers
him as part of an explanation. abel looks up from his book and notes
the presence of the intruders. “ah the happy couple, how may i help you
ilandra?”
ilandra bounces “hummums!!! we gotsta see the hummums cos it's safe
time!!! and you always take me so they don't pound me! i even have the
leash” she holds up the collar and leash they'd stolen off the
rottweiler the last time they were with the 'hummums'. cain goes bright
red and looks about ready to pass out.


Storyteller

“Riiight,” Abel says, his gaze sliding back and forth between the two of them. “Just hang on a minute.”

Abel sits in silence for what turns out to be more like five minutes before finally bookmarking and closing his book.

“Just finishing the chapter. Incidentally, how long have you been able to teleport into my room like that?”

“Ooh, about… forever? How else do you think someone cleaned it?”

“One would assume we employed the maids for a reason. And to use the doors. But never mind.”

So saying, Abel wandered across to the other side of the room and
produced three reddish-coloured stones. Two of them were chucked
in the direction of Cain and Ilandra.

“You know the drill by now,” Abel muttered. “Just don't lose them, right?”

Ilandra suddenly develops a pocket to put her stone in, whilst Cain's is lost somewhere amongst his coat's myriad of pockets.

As Cain and Ilandra make their way – somewhat troublesomely in his case
– over the piles of books that litter the floor, Abel drags two large
maps out of one of his many cupboards and unfolds them on the desk one
atop the other.

The topmost map barely seems a map at all, rather it is a whorling mass
of colour that stretches and pulsates and somehow manages to maintain
two-dimensionality. Abel retrieves the pencil from behind his ear
and marks a circle on this top map. As he does so, the area
inside the circle ceases its fluctuation and becomes a pretty picture
of Castle Poppy. Abel then brushes this map aside and looks over
the second one.

“Where are we going, again?” he asks.

“To the place with the ice cream!!” Ilandra shouts. “We have to
steal Ben's ice cream, and Jerry's!! And feed it to Cain!”

Cain sighs.

“Right,” Abel says, drawing a similar pencil circle on this remarkably more normal map.

He walks over to join Ilandra and his brother in the slightly cleared space in the centre of the room.

“Ready?”

“Sure, why not,” Ilandra says, grabbing Cain's hand a little bit tighter.

“Then hang on tight!”

As he says this, Abel's eyes glow a bright white, and the stones in the
posession of each of the three begin to glow in sympathy. A
rising whirring sound echoes through the room, and a sourceless wind
blows paper and books from their original places into… only slightly
less organised positions.

Over the course of maybe a dozen seconds, the world itself around the
three glows a brighter and brighter white, until everything is obscured
as if by some celestial mist, and then –

Whump.

OOC: 8 successes. Holy fuck.

Cain, Abel and Ilandra (who has just turned into a cat purely on
reflex) are surrounded all of a sudden by blackness. A few
tendrils of the white mist sink into the ground, leaving their eyes to
adjust to the blackness.


Ilandra

a voice from ankle height suddenly declares “i know how these things
work, hold on a sec gotta find the glamour switch!!!” a few minutes
later the two guys find themselves in a brightly lit ben and jerry's
factory warehouse surrounded by multiple flavours of ben and jerry's.
they realize they are shivering, probably because it's -5 degrees in
there…

ilandra fishes in her invisible bag for spoons and pulls three out,
handing them to the others. she reaches up and drags a tub or two of
ice cream down. as they sit eating the ice cream (cookie dough and
chunky monkeys flavours by the way) they discuss what they'll do next.
they finally decide upon leaving the really cold room.

“i have a plan!!!” exclaims ilandra, looking conspiratorially at abel.
she mumbles a nonsense poem (roses are red, probably) then grabs cain
and kisses him. “right, cain, you are able to walk through that wall…
once you get outside, you can poke your head in and tell us what's
outside. gogogogogo!!!”
2 successes

cain gets up, clearly fuddled, and walks into the wall with a thud.


Storyteller

“Whu?” Cain mutters after his head whacks hard against the concrete wall. “Why is there a wall here? I…”

He stands still and silent for a moment, as if deep in thought.
Then, slowly as looks of realisation tend to dawn on peoples' faces,
Cain turns bright red head-to-toe.

“Ilandra…?”

Abel glares in Ilandra's direction, his arms crossed in front of him.


Ilandra

a crimson ilandra bursts into tears. “it woulda worked in house poppy
and now your gonna tell regara and she's gonna kill me or something and
it was my first kiss and it's not fair!!!!!” she turns into a kitten
and runs up cain's trousers into one of his pockets. for about 15
seconds they can hear the mild sobs of a cat. occasionally interjected
with laments. that is, until ilandra realises they're not gonna get out
of there any faster if she hides. she comes out and goes up to the
door, turns back into her full sized self and, concentrating, jumps
once, touches the ceiling, roots in her bag, pulls out a big key (the
type you'll find on teething rings) and mimes unlocking the door.
no successes, but i'll burn a glamour
the door swings open.

“where to, gentlemen?” she looks at her watch “we have about 5 minutes to get out of here…”

they run out of the room, ilandra feeling abel's glares upon her as
they do. she suddenly stops in the corridor and looks up, looking for
something, the two men crash into her, not having had much notice of
her stopping. she raises an arm, pointing at the green fire exit sign,
“that way!” she shouts and they follow the arrows. reaching a fire
escape door, she pushes the lever and they make it out of the warehouse.


Storyteller

As the doors swing open, Ilandra looks down to the watch in her hand
just as the hand flicks over from “Safe” to “Unsafe”. It clicks
for a few moments, and then is silent.

For another couple of seconds.

“WARNING! WARNING!” the watch announces in a mechanical and
exceptionally loud voice. “Area is unsafe! Make sure nobody
notices you!”

“Fat chance of that,” Ilandra replies to it.

“IN PARTICULAR,” it responds even louder than before, “I WOULD
RECCOMMEND KEEPING VERY QUIET! THEY MIGHT HEAR YOU IF YOU START
TALKING LIKE THAT, AND THAT WOULDN'T BE GOOD, WOULD IT!?!”

OOC: Ah, I love Gustaffsen's contraptions =p

As if in sympathy, the fire alarm bells begin to ring in the warehouse
behind them. They're only slightly louder than the watch.


Ilandra

“right, i have a plan…” she says to the two princes, “one of you,
silence this thing… but first, there is a fence there… i say we run
and jump it. cain, much as this next sentence pains and hurts my very
nature, i am sorry, truly actually sorry for making you walk into a
wall in a fuddled state… just that you haven't had years of practice
of avoiding my schemes. so i suggest we run, and run now, cos the
hummums are really close.”

she looks at abel, as if seeking his approval, he merely nods and says
“i'm still going to be having a word with you later… now come on,
look lively” as gracefully as a gazelle he and cain start running. she
looks around and morphs into a cat (keeping her clothes) and follows
them.

abel always seems to need to have a word with me these days… and i
think i've really offended cain… and this whole thing was my idea…
oh gods!!! regara's gonna make me into a kitty-cushion for her to sit
on on her throne! i better start behaving like they do, cos otherwise
i'll be in trouble…
as she reaches and climbs the barrier, she resolves to be as dignified throughout this trip as the two princes


Storyteller

The two princes take a run-up and, in synchrony, jump up… up, and
further up, clearing the top of the ten-foot fence seemingly without
effort. They each landed cleanly the other side, throwing up
small plumes of dust as they did. Whilst Abel carried on running
straight ahead, Cain turned to see Ilandra, in cat-form, scrabbling up
the fence on the other side.

“Don't wait for me!” he called to his brother, as he sprinted back to the fence and began to climb his side.

Once at the top, he gingerly reached over and picked up the feline
Ilandra as she finally got near enough to the top of the fence.
With her safely in his arms, he jumped down again – gracefully as
always – and ran after his brother.

Several minutes later, the trees had thickened on either side of them
and there was no longer any visible sign of the all-too-human warehouse
they had left behind. Still audible, though, were the wailing of
the building's fire alarm, the sirens of emergency vehicles drawing up
outside, and the muffled protests of the watch buried deep inside
Cain's coat pockets.

Once they were sure they were far enough away, the two men paused to
catch their breath. Which – oddly for a human but almost
expectedly for a Sidhe – happened almost instantaneously.

Cain placed Ilandra on the ground, disengaging her claws from his coat.

“Now then,” Abel said calmly, “Wasn't that fun.” He looked down
to face Ilandra. “Were you planning on causing any more mischief?”


Ilandra

in a flicker, ilandra becomes human-shaped and looking slightly sad but
still really proud of herself, she pulls out a litre tub of ben &
jerry's from her bag. “it's regara's favourite flavour, i figured this
way she won't make me into a cat fur cushion to sit upon till the end
of time. now, i vote we go home so you get get the talking to done
with. and cain, give this to your mother to apologise for making her
worry about you two… i'm going to be too busy apologizing to abel to
do so myself”

cain gingerly took the ice cream from ilandra, who seemed to be bracing
herself for something. “right, abel, let's get this show on the road”


Storyteller

Abel smiled, feeling oddly proud of Ilandra's foresight. Yes,
there most certainly would be a lot of talking to do when they got
home. Not quite in the way Ilandra expected, though, for it
dawned on Abel that with just one little observation in the right place
not only would everything work out for the best, but the punishment
would fit the crime most amusingly.

“Indeed,” Abel said, and his eyes glowed, and the stones glowed, and
the world glowed, and with a sickening jolt they were standing in his
bedroom in Castle Poppy once more.

“Now then, Ilandra, you head back to your room. Cain and I will
apologise to the Duchess and give her the ice cream before it melts,
and then… Well, I'll come and have a word with you in a bit.”

“Hurry along now,” Abel whispered into Ilandra's ear. “The charm will wear off in a few minutes' time.”


Ilandra

upon reaching her room, Ilandra started to pack things and, taking a well worn notepad out of her bag, began to write a note.

From the desk of Lord Lysander Honeysuckle ilandra

dear house poppy,
i am writing this note to confess that i have brought shame upon both
our houses and am returning to mine, wherever the soldiers happened to
have left it this time.
please do not follow me, especially not cain, i'm not sure i can handle it if you do.
meanwhile thankyou regara for your hospitalitality. and i shall perhaps see you in my next form.
yours sincerely,
princess ilandra of honeysuckle
ps. cain, you're a

the rest of that sentence was obscured by tear marks.
she propped this up on her pillow with the red stone abel had given her to hold it in place.

she exited through the main gate, and in a flash seemed to vanish off
the face of poppy land. the last sound you could hear from her was
“SANCTUARY!”

ooc: lysander was her older brother, he was once a
close friend of cain and abel, however he died of iron poisoning after
a short battle


Storyteller

Meanwhile, in Duchess Regara's throne room, Cain and Abel arrive.

“Ah,” Regara says, shifting slightly on her plus-size throne.
“Cain, Abel, good of you to come. I suppose Azimov did find you
in the end?”

“Azimov?” Abel asks. “I'm afraid it was due to Ilandra that
we came here.” At the mention of the name, Cain twitches slightly.

Recovering swiftly, Cain brings out the litre tub of ice cream from
behind his back and presents it to his mother, who can hardly contain
her glee.

“Mister Chicken!” she bellows. “Bring me a spoon at once!”

The Duchess then turns back to her children. “Ah, so I suppose it was Nyano who found this for me?”

“I'm afraid not,” Cain said. “This was also thanks to Ilandra. To… Ilandra… Ilandra.”

“Ah,” Abel whispered to himself. “Time's up.”

Cain dropped to his knees on the floor, back to the same deep shade of
red that he had gone earlier. “She…” he muttered.
“Ilandra. Ilandra… kissed me…”

Regara's motherly hearing kicked in at just the right moment.

“Kissed you? Oh, did she indeed!”

Mister Chicken, who had made it halfway across the room, was stunned
enough – whether by the volume or by the revelation itself – that he
sent the spoon clattering to the floor.

“So, Cain dear,” she continued in a much quieter voice. “How was it?”

Regara grinned, truly a sight to be seen.

Cain stuttered, unable to produce any words besides “I”, “Um” and “Er”.

“You love her, don't you?”

A few seconds of silence followed, ended by Cain's quiet “yes”.

“And she is certainly quite taken with you, dear, wouldn't you say?”

Cain nodded feebly, whilst his brother stood beside him and shared a knowing wink with their mother.

“Ah, what it is to be young and in love,” Regara mused. “Well
then. I see our celebration tonight will be doubly worth
celebrating!”

“Doubly…?” Cain asked.

“What with our return to our home after all this time, and news of an impending marriage in the family, we'd better make it a night to remember!”

“M…marriage?”

And, with that, Cain fell over backwards and passed out.

“Oh deary me.” Regara whispered to her remaining conscious son.
“Better get him back to his room and woken up, or else he'll never be
ready for tonight!”


Storyteller

Having lain his brother down on his bed and instructed the servants as
to what to do when he regained consciousness, Abel headed off to
Ilandra's room to give her the promised lecture about the use of
mind-muddling cantrips on her own friends.

Sadly, what he found when he opened the door to her room was not at all
what he was expecting. The walls were bare, the cupboards empty
and hanging open, the bed made. Everything was arranged neatly,
as if the room were nothing but an infreqently-used guest room; the
only anomaly a hastily-written letter lying on the pillow.

Abel read it, his heart sinking with every sentence. “Confess?” he muttered. “Shame? Don't follow me?”

For a few moments after he finished reading, he stood staring at the
letter. Then, as if some inaudible sound had jolted him from his
reverie, he stuffed it into his pocket and ran all the way across the
castle to Cain's room.

Barging open the door, he shook his brother by the shoulders until he
finally stirred. “Read this,” he said, pressing the letter into
Cain's hand then turning to leave even before he received a
response. “See you in the stable yard in five minutes.”

Five minutes later to the second, Cain shoulder-barged open the doors to the yard and almost ran straight into Abel.

“Get on,” Abel said, handing Cain the reins of his horse.

It was only by the time they were already on their way that Cain
finally had the chance to take stock of his situation. Somehow,
Abel seemed to have managed to put together a hunting party in five
minutes – no doubt aided by Regara's persuasion. Leading their
party was Nyano-Sgiathatch, the chief scout of House Poppy's remaining
army, inexplicably managing to ride despite the difficulty of holding
the reins in his claws. He and Abel rode next, and behind them
was Poppy's head huntsman, who seemed to be clucthing a blunderbuss
with a worrying amount of zeal. Behind them, brining up the rear
of the group, were five horsemen of Poppy's army – all that could be
spared, Cain assumed, in times like these.

By the time Cain had finished his review of their party, they had
already reached a gallop and were speeding off in the direction of the
Honeysuckle lands.


Ilandra

“welcome home, duchess
her butler greeted her, handing her a pair of bunny slippers and some
hot chocolate with marshmallows in it. “Grizzel is out in his shed and
has expressed the desire to see you again. I hope you haven't been
causing too much trouble young lady, your parents would disapprove.”

“Catkin, you know not to call me that… and yes, i caused much mayhem.
i suggest you prepare a few extra bedrooms and place the house closer
to house poppy than usual… i kissed their prince and have returned
home to prepare myself for whatever punishments it may entail. isn't it
cunning? returning to neutral ground so they can't harm me. either way,
i'll be visiting Grizzel and Lysander's grave. If nothing else, i have
to apologize to him.” she hugs Catkin (the butler) and runs out of the
main hall, her dress becoming more suffused with the house colours as
she progresses.

“GRIZZEL!!!” she cries, seeing the grizzled mane of her head of
security “GRIZZEL!!! I'M BACK!!! LANNY'S BACK!!!” he turns, with a grin
on his wizened face and his arms outspread.

“my little princess! you came back! and what mischief have you caused?”
he picked up Ilandra and swung her round as a parent would to a
ten-year-old. “how was house poppy?”

“house poppy doesn't need me back. you will need to be on duty this
evening, i kissed cain and fuddled him cos i can't fuddle myself and
got into trouble. and i couldn't wipe abel's memory cos he's good at
ignoring me. so now lots of house poppy people are coming and i need
the cantrip that makes it look like the house is speaking to be
performed cos if they have muskets it'll be scary. anyways… i have to
go to my room to make myself pretty and weave some honeysuckles into my
hair and then i have a brother to visit.” she hugged her head of
security/ ex-nanny and ran into the house.

a few minutes later she emerged, in a yellow, honeysuckle coloured
dress with pink and yellow honeysuckles weaved into her hair, running
towards the cemetery at the edge of the land. upon reaching it she
slowed her pace and knelt down and touched the ground, where her hand
was, a honeysuckle emerged. she picked it up and went to kneel by her
brother's grave.

“lysander, i know you've moved on into another shell… but this makes
me feel better” she started, the same way she normally did. and told
him everything that happened. “i think he hates me, which breaks my
heart. however, the trap is set, should he appear here i'll know how he
feels. and now i'm duchess and i guess i'll have to accept my rank.”
she sighs “i wish you hadn't died. you gave good advice, and you taught
me how to fuddle people properly. i reckon you'd have been proud! i not
only fuddled a sidhe, but i fuddled a sidhe with my first kiss.” she
started to cry and gave up on trying to talk to the gravestone. around
her honeysuckles grew tall and proud, blooming and intoxicating all
passers-by with their sweet scent.

after a half hour or so, ilandra returned to house honeysuckle no
longer a princess. upon opening the door, a carpet of pink and yellow
blossoms announced her arrival. today, she was damned well going to be
duchess ilandra, ruler of honeysuckle. after all, she'd earnt it and it
was about time she took up the throne. she looked up at the portrait of
the former duke and duchess, with a hint of guilt that it had taken her
76 years to decide she was ready to be duchess. as if in recognition of
this, the servants bowed down before her.


Storyteller

Back on the forested path leading away from Castle Poppy, Abel had
pulled up alongside Nyano and was talking to him as quietly as he could
given the five-foot height difference between them and the continual
clattering of unshod horses' hooves.

With a flick of his tail, Nyano beckoned forth one of the soliders from
the back of the group. He rode on Abel's other side, and the
three of them talked between each other for a minute or so.

Once their conversation seemed to reach a conclusion, Abel passed a
flower – a honeysuckle – to the soldier. Then, he jumped up so
that he was standing almost impossibly on top of the saddle, and turned
to address the group.

“My friends,” he shouted, “thank you for coming with us at such short
notice! I'm sure word has got around by now of exactly why we're
doing this, so I'll keep it short! In fact, I'll keep this whole
journey short! Luckily, while we were away, there were a few
Poppy folk that tended to our gardens, and kept all our flowers
alive! Of course, there was plenty of honeysuckle!”

Abel waited a few seconds for the urgent discussions of the other
members of the party to die down. Cain said nothing, though – his
heart was beating loudly enough to him as to drown out everyone else's
conversation.

“I'm sure you all know what that means, and why the Corporal is riding
with us!” Abel continued over the continuing din. “So, Ladies and
Gentlemen – hold on tight!”

So saying, he dropped back into his saddle, facing forwards
again. The soldier to whom he had given the flower accelerated
until he was a good twenty feet in front of the rest of the riders, and
then…

Sparks began to fly from the hooves of his horse, stopping not as soon
as they touched the ground but extending, branching out and crackling
across each rider behind him in turn until their horses struck sparks
from the earthy ground as well, ever increasing and intensifying until
all around the riders the air felt thick and hot and sparks of glamour
coruscated around each of them.

As if the storm of magic had reached some unattainable height, a single
bolt of whatever-it-was descended from the sky, and the world went
white with flecks of flashing silver.

The next thing any of them knew, their horses rode on a wide road
running up to the borders of the lands of House Honeysuckle, still
striking sparks until their riders reined them in.

The group stopped short of the border, and Abel glanced at his brother. He was shaking.

“Well then,” Abel muttered to himself. “It had best be me, then.”

Abel climbed down from the saddle, and walked the few steps to where he felt the border to be.

There was no-one inside the Honeysuckle lands as far as he could see, and that threw him somewhat.

“Hello?” he asked into the void. “Is anyone there?”


Ilandra

“YOU HAVE ENTERED NEUTRAL GROUND! PLEASE PUT DOWN ALL YOUR WEAPONS AND
LEAVE YOUR HORSES OUTSIDE!” the cottage boomed, in a voice uncannily
like Ilandra's. “ALSO, STATE YOUR PURPOSE.”

Abel rolled his eyes, “we have come to see princess Ilandra”

a couple of stable boys appeared as if by magic and started to collect
the horses and weapons. as if clearing the visitors for entrance.

“THERE IS NO LONGER A PRINCESS IN THIS HOUSE.” said the cottage. “what
do you mean cain is there? oh ok… eek i just said all that to the
megaphone. damn. LOOK, JUST COME IN SEAT YOURSELVES AND HELP YOURSELVES
TO THE FOOD. not like i care who's outside or anything…”

the troop were ushered into a large drawing room and informed that the
duchess would be with them shortly. this bewildered quite a few of
them, not to mention the two princes. after a few minutes, a sweet
smell wafted into the room and honeysuckles started randomly sprouting
up around cain accompanied by cursing and questions to the butler along
the lines of “how can i make it stop? make it stop!! stop it!!!
aaargh!!!” she walked in, as dignified as anyone can be while blushing
so red it clashes with their dress. “hi!” she smiled at them all. “i
hope you realise, abel, that this is neutral ground and my own house so
you can't turn me into regara's latest scarf.”


Storyteller

“Scarf?” Abel asked. “Goodness me, no. We came to deliver you your nervous wreck of a boyfriend!”

Abel elbowed his brother in the ribs. “Come on, aren't you even going to say hello?”

Cain looked up at Ilandra, and… stopped. And stared. And said “Erk”.


Ilandra

She raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow (a girl has to get pretty for
these things ya know) “'erk?' Dare i ask why? What's going on? I can't
handle this duchessing… it's too full of looking pretty, glowing and
sounding a lot more confident than i really am. Deliver? What has
regara got planned?”


Storyteller

“Our mother's just doing what she thinks is best,” Abel replied.
He nudged Cain again. “Get on with it!” he whispered.

“Right, right,” Cain muttered, pushing his chair back and standing
unsteadily. He made his way slowly, shaking with each step, to
the entrance of the room.

He stood before Ilandra, now Duchess Honeysuckle, and her flowers began to grow around both of them.

“Ilandra…” Cain said, his nervousness obvious to the entire room. “Duchess Ilandra. I, um…”

He shot a glance at his brother, who was attempting to give subtle
thumbs-up signals. He managed the 'thumbs-up signals' part, at
least.

Cain turned back to Ilandra, and his gaze locked with hers. For a
few moments he remained, staring into her eyes, before he dropped to
one knee, took her hand in his, and kissed it.

“Ilandra… Will you marry me?”


Ilandra

Ilandra's world started spinning, the house's security system started
going berserk and tendrils of honeysuckle plants wrapped themselves
around the guest's feet.
“yes” she managed to whisper before passing out and landing in his arms.

Grizzel ran into the room, a few seconds later shouting at the top of
his voice “LANNY!!! WHO'S HURTING YOU? I'LL GET THEM GOOD!!! NO-ONE
CAUSES ANY HONEYSUCKLE PAIN WITHIN THESE WALLS WITHOUT MY APPROVAL!!!”
he blinked, saw the scene in front of him and waved all the tendrils
off the guests. “so sorry about that… just that the houses systems
are going haywire… dare i ask what's going on?”

Abel smiled, knowingly “she'll be fine, she's missing the party of the year.”

“ok, take her to the party, but make sure she's ok. and keep her away from that cain fellow… he's a bad influence.”

“too late, she just got engaged to him” Abel replied. “so, see you
soon. can i assume we're next to house poppy's gates? and don't worry,
i promised i'd look after her.”

they were in fact just outside the gates to house poppy. the group
trooped out, with their horses in tow. a slightly less nervous than
before cain now carrying a still unconscious ilandra through the gates.


Storyteller

Duchess Regara almost choked on the last of her Cookie Dough ice cream
as the party trooped in through the main doorway of the great hall.

“Mum,” Cain said, showing an uncharacteristic confidence, “I'd like you
to meet my new fiance. Duchess Honeysuckle. Better make
that a triple celebration tonight?”

And, with that and Regara's stunned silence, he left. The rest of
the group were left looking uneasy, unsure as to exactly what had just
happened.

Once the doors had shut behind Cain, Regara grinned and winked at Abel.

“I never thought it'd be that quick!” the Duchess Regara said. “My, doesn't time fly?”

“Certainly does,” Abel replied.

“Duchess Honeysuckle, though,” the Duchess Poppy mused. “I hope
that girl knows what's in store for her. I hope Cain does, too!”

“Oh, and Mister Chicken?” she called, as the group turned to
leave. “Could you get somebody to clear up all the honeysuckle
petals from the floor?”

Meanwhile, Cain carried the still-unconscious Ilandra back to her old
room, still somewhat bare since she had left a mere hour before.

An hour! To Cain, as he laid Ilandra on her bed and sat beside her until she woke, it felt like years.


Ilandra

After a spell of time, Ilandra came to. She raised an arm in defiance
and declared “I'll always be a honeysuckle!!! 'til the day I die!!” The
news hit her again and again she passed out. The other people in the
room watched as yet again, the little duchess came to, more disoriented
this time. “What? Did what i think just happened happen?”
She looked around, finding herself in a knee deep room of honeysuckle
plants… every available surface was covered in them. It was then that
she saw the rest of the people in the room. Pulling herself together in
as graceful a way she could, she smiled sweetly.
“Sorry about that…” she said, sitting up. “So, where's the party? And
can someone get it in writing that regara won't use me as a scarf?”

Cain chuckled, clearly Ilandra hadn't been changed by her new position.
He still felt quite nervous around her, but figured it would pass
eventually. Abel merely rolled his eyes, handing her a piece of paper
he'd prepared earlier.

On it was:
“I, Regara, Duchess of Poppy, do hereby promise not to turn Ilandra of House Honeysuckle into a cat-skin scarf”

“It's in your writing, abel.” she said sniffily. “It doesn't mean she won't”

“Ah, but you brought ice cream, and ice cream is good” a female
voice,which turned out to be Regara herself, interjected. “And besides,
you're marrying my son… we'll be related soon… i can't harbour a
wish to kill a member of my family!” The words seemed to drip and ooze
sugar as she spoke them.

The colour drained from ilandra's face, oh gods, she's going to
want to be involved at every step of the way… aaargh! oh well at
least she can't kill me for commenting on that splodge of ice cream

“Regara dear, you have a massive splodge of ice cream on your face…
perhaps you should learn moderation when eating ice cream…” Ilandra
braced herself to run as… wait for it… there.
Regara exploded in a fountain of rage.

“WHY YOU LITTLE!!!” Ilandra pegged it from the room at full pelt, barely stopping to shrug at Cain, Regara followed.
“you know, Regara, running so soon after eating gives you heartburn…”

[Private to
Storyteller: i figured ilandra just wouldn't be able to resist and if
you feel the need to cull any of this post please do… i tried to keep
as much of it in character for the individual characters as possible…
]


Storyteller

Fortunately for the new Duchess Honeysuckle, outrunning her Poppy
counterpart was not a particularly epic feat. Ilandra, Cain and
Abel sped away from Regara, leaving her panting breathless behind them.

Once they were a few corridors' lengths away from their pursuer, Cain stopped and turned to his fiance.

“Far enough, do you reckon?”

Abel stopped too. “Well, at least it's good to see the responsibilities of your new position haven't got to you yet!”


Ilandra

“it'll never be far enough… she will find us in about 10minutes…” a
slightly breathless ilandra panted… “especially while i leave a
trail” she pointed, indicating the outcropping of honeysuckle that was
adorning the hallways leading to their hiding place.

Abel rolled his eyes. “i suppose you'll be suggesting we find a new hiding place soon, right? unless you can stop the flowers”

Cain looked thoughtful, which according to Ilandra was one of the
cutest expressions he had. “the flowers only affect the things she
touches, right? if i pick her up, like so” he put her over his shoulder
in a fireman's lift, much to her indignation and protests. “and if i
run anywhere, the flowers won't appear, right?” without waiting for an
answer cain started running, with an indignated ilandra pounding his
back and demanding to be put down loudly as he sped off towards his
tower. just as well cain ran, regara was just rounding the corner.

“GET BACK HERE!!! YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME, I WON'T STAND FOR YOU
GETTING MY SON TO HELP YOU GET AWAY!!! abel, darling, how would you
like to help mummy? cos mummy's very tired… and she needs to teach
somebody a lesson.”


Ilandra

Abel sighed. “No, mother, I cannot carry you. They've probably gone to
Cain's room. I didn't particularly want to follow, besides I really
need to finish that book. I'll come down for the party.”
Saying that, Abel turned and walked off down the hallway.

Regara sighed. “I guess a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do…” she started jogging again.

Upon reaching the corridor which housed cain's room she was greeted by
what could only be described as a small jungle of honeysuckles and
poppys. The corridor was beginning to look like a small glade… except
less diverse. She smiled grimly, pulled herself together and knocked on
the door. “Oh Caaaaiiin… the party's starting in about 10 minutes and
I want everyone there. Especially the two of you…”

Deep inside Cain's room, conversations that needed to take place took
place and the young couple decided upon the fate of house honeysuckle…

ooc: i shall leave it up to you to decide what they actually do… though they did need to talk quite a bit…