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Rendezvous in Wheat Down
This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)
Akane tapped her snout against the glass of the window, leaving a faint
nose-shaped smudge. It was closed, but not latched; careful pressure
pushed it open and she streaked inside to land gently on the floor in
front of Ilandra and Cain. Their clothes seemed a bit the worse for the
wear, but they themselves looked fine, and that was what really
"Before you ask," she said, hoping to forestall Ilandra's indignation
at the thought of being babysat by her cousin, "I wasn't following you,
but since I wound up here, I thought I might as well make sure you're
In a surprising move, Ilandra didn't throw a hissy fit and stamp her feet, but instead shrugged.
"That's ok, the peasants outside reckon we're their only hope and so we
can't leave..." she said, her voice betraying her annoyance.
"Furthermore, the sick people that we're expected to make better have
infections and I didn't pay much attention when the Sister was teaching
us about that kind of thing. On top of which it's not fun anymore.
Though the head peasant seems to think all nobles are evil and wants to
lead a revolt against the horrible oppression at the hands of the evil
nasty nobility." As she finished this sentence she pulled a funny face.
"Not to mention the fact that he's really scary all of a sudden" the
look on Ilandra's face was so serious, and she could feel her throat
tighten but she controlled it.
best not show akane that i'm having trouble...
Akane quickly ran the facts through her mind. "I'm here to retrieve the faun's family. Nyano wanted to indenture him and his family
as punishment for Albert's crime. It wasn't fair. I said we'd take them
- more than enough of our own lands are lying fallow after we lost so
many. He's from around here, you see, and they lost everything.
"This is Hyacinth territory. I'm told the war stomped through it,
several times, both sides. The peasants are bound to serve nobles who
don't care about their wellbeing, their fields are burned, and their
families are hungry. At this point, even if they could believe that not
all the gentry are caught up in their petty feuds, I'm not sure they'd
care," she sighed. "We do have a revolution on our hands, Cousin, and
I'm not sure what we can do about it besides hope they find a way to fill their bellies and decide to let it go."
Then she tried to remember what she knew about infections. "There isn't
much you can do with what you have available. Clean the wound out well
and put a poultice on it. Willow bark tea. If I can, once I've gotten
Albert's family out of here, I'll try to head into Mortalia and bring
you back some penicillin, if the Hospital turns out to be short on
"Indentured?" said Ilandra, her expression fliiting between fury and confusion. "We don't indenture people...especially not on the orders of another house."
She turned to Cain. "I'll make an exception for your house. This once. But I am capable of running our land!"
Turning back to her cousin she calmed down. "I can do it!
It doesn't look hard to do, so why would I find it hard? By the
flowers, I'm gone for 5 minutes and my house gets taken over by
The last time Ilandra had been harsh to her, Akane had felt guilty. This time, she just found herself getting angry.
"It was this or death for him, this or slavery for all of them. You
know he's not going to be treated any differently from the free
peasants if he comes to our lands, and it was not on their orders
that I did this, and they wouldn't hear of it unless I went into
Hyacinth territory to fetch his family myself! I damn near wound up in
fisticuffs with Nyano for this family's freedom!" Akane said, her
hysterical wail rendered comical by the fact that she was trying to
keep it to a whisper. "I was trying to uphold the principles of
compassion our house is based on, and all you have to say is that our
house has been taken over by Regara, when I've been walking on the
knife's edge to defy her will without incurring her wrath?" she
snarled, vulpine nostrils flairing.
"I have to go before I do lose my temper and can't keep quiet. I'll
bring you supplies from the hospital, if you think you'll still be here
- see, I don't want to have to sneak through enemy territory twice thinking I'm doing what you'd want only for it to turn out I've somehow fucked up again."
Ilandra grabbed Akane and picked her up into a hug. Breaking into silent tears she whispered in her cousin's ear.
"I just wanna get out of here with Cain and it's kinda frustrating that
they have sick people cos otherwise I could be out of here within two
shakes of a moggie's tail..." she lifted her head a little "I'm sorry,
I didn't realise... I've been really mean to you haven't I?"
Akane rubbed her foxy face against Ilandra's. "You kind of have been
mean, yeah, but...you've had a lot of pressure to bear all alone, and
some of what you said, I did deserve, and I probably needed to hear it,
as nothing less would have made me realise.
"As for the sick people, I know you can't leave them. It's just not in
your nature. When I first realised you were trying to sneak away you
remember how I thought you was abandoning us? I should've known better.
You weren't, and somehow you've managed to find people that need you
just as much here that you equally can't walk away from.
"Just...I know I don't need to say this, but be careful. People with
revolution on their mind don't often care who their scapegoat is. If
something happens, tell them that someone is bringing medicine, which
they will receive only as long as you remain free and unharmed.
Although of course I'd prefer that you just got out of here if it looks
like you need to."
"but what if they decide that they have been slighted..." she started.
"waiiit... if they think i'm their salvation they'll be extra nice to
us... so they might forgive a lot more... and might let us go
unharmed... we spun them a tale about how we're trying to save some
baron's daughter... they seem to have bought it for now."
she shifted into cat form and jumped at her cousin in a kitty glomp.
"you're a genius! (please stay a little bit)"
"A baron's daughter? Are you sure they'll buy it, and are you sure
they'll care? If it's a noble, I doubt they'll be overly sympathetic,"
Akane responded. "(I can stay for a little while)," she added in a
whisper, "(But I've got Poppy guards waiting for me to come back with
Albert's family at the border to the Hyacinth lands, so I don't know
for how long. Certainly until I locate them, but wouldn't you want me
to bring back the medicine as fast as possible?)"
"(have you seen the patients? i don't think they'll last the week...
and those that recover will take forever...) i'm employing liberal
amounts of feverfew and washing the wounds. But I think I could do with
a second opinion.." Ilandra said.
At this point, Cain said "The story she spun them was about how if we
helped the baron's daughter we could stay together... I don't think the
guy bought that... nor my poor excuse for a peasant accent... even
though Ilandra made him believe my aceet was genuine, but I doubt she
can fuddle the whole village."
"So we're potentially in a tiny spot of bother..." interjected Ilandra,
"I'll manage to get us out of here, besides, Akane will be passing back
through within a couple of days so if we're still here she'll help us out of here won't you?" the sheer amounts of hopefulness in Ilandra's eyes belied her confident tone of voice.
"Of course," Akane nodded. "If you want out, I'll get you out. I'm just
going to have to find a way to explain two rather refined peasants, a
family of fauns, and a fox all traipsing towards the border. Isn't that
going to be fun...we'd best travel by night and keep off the roads I
guess. If either of you knows a cantrip for camouflage that you can use
when I come fetch you, that'd also be a help.
"Keep your heads down, alright? While I'm gone, try to think of a way
to get antibiotics to these people safely once we've fetched it from
the Hospital, or Mortalia as need be. Cain, try not to speak too much -
I'm willing to bet you couldn't sound common if your life depended on
it, and it may. Ilandra, keep your lies simple and don't confuse the
details; look them in the eye while you're lying, and when you speak, believe what you're saying.
"If you need to make a run for it and I'm not back yet, this is where
I'm going..." she finished, and recited the directions to Albert's home.
Ilandra looked incredibly amused. "Are you trying to tell a Pooka how
to lie?" she giggled a little... "mind you, it's good advice...
seriously though, we're just trying to get to the council, so we'll
probably keep going that way. Just that I accidentally got us into a
jam. If we manage to get out of here then we'll go your way to make
sure you don't worry too much."
She fidgeted then looking slightly sheepish asked, "Which way is the council anyways?"
Akane nodded. "Yes, please, don't give me a premature heart attack,
just let me know you're okay. But...the Council? Whatever do you need
"Well... It would probably raise a lot of hackles if a previously Red
sided Prince married a neutral Duchess on the sly... So I figured the
easiest way to get round that is to go and ask the two Rose dukes to do
the ceremony and then all of Faeries' nobles would need to be invited.
Going to the council and asking them to do the hard work just seemed
more proper..." Ilandra replied, in a matter of fact way. "And Cain
said it was a good idea..."
"Er... I did?" asked Cain, somewhat taken aback. "I don't
remember, er, I mean... That'd cause a lot of problems.
Trying to get the two Rose dukes to do something together, I
mean. I'm not sure it'd really happen, to be honest. Still,
it looks like that's the way things are going. Um."
Immediately, Nyano's plan about using Cain and Ilandra's wedding as
bait to draw out the party responsible for the attempted 'poisoning' of
the Poppies and their guests jumped to Akane's mind.
"It would also be very dangerous," she said carefully. You saw what
happened at the homecoming feast; it was a perfect opportunity to
target many important nobles at once. And whilst our House is small,
Ilandra, the fact that we have the Hospital, coupled with the
controversy of your marrying a Prince of a Red-aligned House, means
that your wedding will be a reasonably high-profile event.
"Whoever was behind Albert's mock-poisoning attempt could choose then
to strike again. In fact, Nyano actually suggested a plan to that
effect - I wasn't too happy with it or him, given it seems to require
using his Prince, who is also my friend, and my Duchess, who is also my
only family, as an expendable strategic asset. Whatever you do, Cousin,
be careful, and don't take anything at face value. I know I'm really
used to seeing everything as a conspiracy, but this really feels like
"In getting both the Dukes to preside we'd be cementing our neutrality,
though if they refuse at least they've been invited. Also, if I am not
too mistaken, our house still has the gooby thing on it that makes
violence pretty damned hard to do." Ilandra said, matter of factly,
"Also, I refuse to be bait for any trap and using Cain as bait is just
evil... Besides, I think he's well aware that he has to give up his
political leanings and accept that he is going to be neutral. In fact,
I figured it'd be an important part of the whole thing really, hence
why we need both sides to witness it. If there is another poisoning,
well the hospital's right next door and I'm sure I can persuade one of
the farmers to taste the food before it goes out to the people. After
all, it's not like Milligan dislikes food... Does that satisfy you?"
Akane grinned. "Yes, I'm sure Milligan would be happy to help - it's
not like we can ask Regara for her assistance. "If you're really set on
going through with this plan, though, wouldn't it be better if you got
someone to escort you? I'm guessing you need me to go back to our lands
and act as administrator during your absence, but this isn't good
territory to be traveling through, judging by the people we've run into
"Well, seeing as we're not exactly prisoners as such... I don't think
we're bound to stay for longer than necessary" Ilandra said. "Besides,
Cain's strong and brave... he fended off a troop of bandits on his own
before so he'll be able to protect us. Surely this would make him the
best possible escort, right? Besides, it's not like I don't know how to
handle myself if I'm involved in a fight..."
Akane nodded. "I'm probably worrying too much - a lifetime's worth of
hiding you from an enraged Regara I guess. I think the sooner I go and
fetch Albert's family, the sooner I can help spring you two out of here
if you want, or bring back medicine, whichever. Besides, if they hear three voices, and noble ones at that, and come investigating, we're bound to be in quite a lot of trouble."
Almost as if on cue, the door to the back room burst open and smacked
into the wall beside it. Into the room half-staggered and
half-fell Jebodiah's son.
"There won't be anyone in here," his gruff voice announced, "so we..."
He looked up, and noticed that the room already had occupants. His breath began to wrinkle the paint on the walls.
"Oh. Nevermind," he mumbled, and turned around only to fall backwards onto the floor.
A young lady some twenty years his junior, presumably the target of his
intended affection, peered around the door frame. She glanced
briefly down at Jake's unconscious body, then back up to Ilandra and
Cain whom she flashed a sheepish grin.
"Erm..." Ilandra managed, then out of sheer surprise kittened up.
"Balls!" she exclaimed from the floor. She ran up Cain's trouser leg
and hid in the pocket, hoping Akane wouldn't get noticed.
the peasants we lived with knew better than to hurt foxes... but
these ones might hurt her for the hell of it... god! why did i have to
fuzz up like this? how embarrassing!
"B... balls?" the young woman asked to no-one in particular, before her eyes managed to focus on Cain.
"Did that girl just... She... A cat..." the woman
spluttered, seeming to to have lost control of her speech just as she'd
regained control of her eyesight. "I've gotta' drink less.
Or more. Maybe both."
With that she spun a neat 180 degrees on the spot, took one step
forward, crashed into the door and lurched unsteadily from the room.q
Sure that the girl had gone, Ilandra jumped out of Cain's pocket and
morphed back to her normal shape. "Well, I reckon we'd best be getting
back to the party... see you soon Akane." she said, grabbing Cain's
hand and dragging him back into the hubbub.
As they exited the room, she made sure she looked just dishevelled
enough not to arouse suspicion then rushed up to the bar and asked
politely for another flagon of ale each. (making sure she kept her
"Ale? Right y'are," said the temporary barmaid. "Though I
wouldn'a though af'er jus' now ye'd be back fer a second! Goin' a
bit ta yer 'ead, eh?"
"Well, have yeh got summat nicer than ale?" she inquired. After all, she was kinda thirsty...
"We's got scrumpy out back," she said. "Moight be more ta' yer
taste. An' if ya' fancy summat stronger, there's always th'
Ilandra pondered for a moment. moonshine sounds so sophisticated and grown up... whereas scrumpy sounds odd...
"Could I try both?" she asked.
"Aha!" exxclaimed the barmaid. "I knew it! Still, 'tis the toime for celebratin', Oi guess!"
She turned and headed into the back rooms of the inn. Almost as
soon as she had left the bar, an elderly man sidled up to it and
glanced furtively back and forth. After sufficiently convincing
himself that no-one was looking, he grabbed an empty flagon and reached
it over the bar toward the open barrel.
"Jethro!" came the barmaid's rasied voice from the back. "Don't
you be sneakin' a sly one! Y'know your wife'd 'ave me guts fer
garters if I din' stop ye."
The old man looked startled at first, then sheepish, then he sidled off and was lost in the partying crowd.
Before long the barmaid emerged again, a ceramic mug in one hand and a
tiny metal thimble clasped between thumb and forefinger of the
other. She set them both down before Ilandra, and smiled.
"Now'n," she said, "take yer pick!"
"erm... ok..." she said, uncertainly, reaching for the thimble. She
picked it up and gave a perfunctory sniff before daintily sipping from
it. Eyes streaming, she put the thimble down.
"*cough* 's a bit... *cough* potent..." she managed then picked up the
scrumpy. This she sniffed and put down. "can't smell anything... wow,
that last stuff was strong" she gingerly took a sip from the ceramic
glass. "Did something die in this? It tastes kinda like mouse... I like
She handed the thimble to Cain. "Don't inhale" and settled in her chair to daintily sip at the scrumpy.
The barmaid raised an eyebrow at Ilandra's announcement that she liked
drinks that tasted of mice, and turned to smile a knowing grimace at
Cain, who was looking uncertainly at the thimbleful of clear liquid.
Slowly, Cain raised the cup to his face, blinking his eyes rapidly to
dispel the tears that the mere whiff of the moonshine was
eliciting. He gulped once, twice... And the third time he
gulped, the alcohol disappeared down his throat with it.
"You know, that wasn't so-"
And he stopped, his eyes wide, gazing into nothing. Seconds
passed, and he appeared completely incapable of moving. He hadn't
Ilandra looked up at an immobile Cain.
is he playing a joke on me?
She then gingerly poked him. He rocked back and forth. Panic was
beginning to set in. Attempting to keep her composure, Ilandra asked
the barmaid "There's nothing actually harmful in that, right?"
The barmaid winked "Who knows?"
Ilandra poked Cain again and again he rocked back and forth. She
rummaged in her bag and pulled out some smelling salts, they had no
effect. Panic started to take its hold fully causing her to drop the
accent she'd been using until then.
"Oh my god, he's dead!" she said, shaking him. "Don't be dead, damnit!"
The barmaid sighed, and patted Ilandra on the head.
"'E ain't dead, love," she said. "Ye jus'... might wanna be
'prared fer foive minutes toime, when 'all catches up wi'm." With
that she smiled a wide, toothy grin, and turned to serve a tall man who
was looming over at the other end of the bar.
Reassured slightly Ilandra calmed visibly and picked her "mouse juice" back up.
"What'll happen in five minutes time, I wonder..." she murmured to herself and sat back to wait for the five minutes to pass.
Five minutes passed, as minutes are wont to do, with the inhabitants of
the inn making merry in the traditional manner. Barely a soul in
the place paid attention to Ilandra and Cain, who still stared into
space as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. Only
the frequent glances reminded Ilandra that time was, in fact, passing.
Then, as if some cosmic alarm clock regulated the world, Cain virtually exploded into life.
"BytheDagdaandDanu!" he exclaimed at at least double-time.
Whyiseverythingmovingsoslowly? Ilandra? Ilandra?
Idon'tthinkI... Oooooooohhhhh." And... normal speed again.
"Ooh. I... Ilandra?" he asked, spinning slowly.
Looking furtively around and hoping no-one noticed the outburst,
Ilandra made hush motions at him. Then, noticing people looking,
giggled and told him "No, silly, Ilandra's not here, remember... we
were on a mission... remember?" He looked kinda confused.
"Everyone's looking, you're gonna get us killed" she hissed then in
normal volume. "Poor love... he gets so confused sometimes..." oh holy crud
Around Ilandra and Cain, laughter erupted from the already mostly
inebriated population of the inn. Various fragmented phrases such
as "been at the moonshine" and "make a man of 'im yet" floated above
the general background racket and, across from them in one corner of
the bar, was that a pair of golden eyes watching and chuckling in
Turning a colour that is really only appropriate for tomatoes, Ilandra focused on her mouse juice.
"y'know... that was kinda mean... but there's nothing i can do..." she
murmured. She looked up and noticed the golden eyes. Taking another sip
from the mouse juice, she resolved to work out why those eyes were so
When she was sure that most of the room weren't paying attention or
were too drunk to care, she carefully melted into her cat form and
snuck across the room, where she morphed back behind a chair and walked
the rest of the way up to Jebodiah, making sure she approached from
"So, what's the deal with them eyes?" she asked him, suddenly.
"Ah," said Jebodiah, turning to face Ilandra and not looking in the
least surprised by her appearing from behind him. His eyes locked
with hers, blazing gold as ever they had. Then, after a few
seconds, he blinked and dropped his gaze to the floor.
He sighed. "I were wonderin' 'ow long it'd take you t'ask.
E'ryone does sooner'a later." Another sigh, and a long gulp of
his ale. "There be a story be'ind that'n an' no mistake.
Bu'..." He gazed into his pint, the light from his eyes
reflecting slightly off the foam.
"Bu' that's a story fer 'nother toime. Fer naa, let's jus' say
tha' I were bless'd, or mebbe cursed, ta see more than I oughta'."
She gulped, "How much more?" she asked, wondering whether they'd been rumbled already, then deciding they probably had.
"More than any man oughta'," he said. "Truth be tol' I wouldn' be
in t' position Oi am t'day w'out it. But gi'n choice
back'n... I dunno if Oi'd want it."
"Cheer up, it could be worse..." she said. "Would you like some mouse juice? they call it scrunchy or summat..."
before he had a chance to answer she was gone, again in cat form
towards the bar. Within a few minutes she returned, with two mugs of
scrumpy and Cain in tow.
"Scrunchy?" asked Jebodiah once the girl had returned. "Mouse
juice? Now you mus' be from a lon' way aways, or from some very
strange place 'ndeed! Have ye not heard a' Scrumpy 'afore?"
Ilandra blushed. "Erm... sorta not, I always got given cocoa before cos
I was too young." she said, looking fixedly at the floor. Handing over
the mug, she sat down on the floor by Cain's feet and commenced her
attack on the mug of scrumpy.
"Ah, Oi see," said Jebodiah. He thought for a moment, then
started to look worried. "If ye ain't 'ad it afore, Oi'd,
ah... B'careful 'ow quick ya' knock th' stuff back."
Ilandra thought about it for a second, failed to string more than a
thought up and decided to thank Jebodiah for his advice. Then
discovered she'd lost automotive functions and had quite heavy eyelids.
Snuggling into Cain's leg, she fell asleep.
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