This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)
Evening wore on, and before too long the bell was rung for the evening
meal. A remarkable number of the guests had stayed at the castle
despite the festivities having officially finished, but as was the
tradition for such large parties, guests would be entertained for
several days if they had no pressing engagements elsewhere.
Dinner was conducted as a remarkably less formal affair than it had
been the previous night. The top table - mercifully repaired,
along with the rest of the room that had been damaged during the
breakfast food-fight - sat empty, and its normal occupants ate with the
rest of the guests.
Whilst Regara sat with several other traditionally-built dukes and
duchesses somewhat near the waiters' entrance, Abel found himself a
seat next to the newly-returned Eshu.
"So," he said, after a smile and a suitable pause, "it's certainly been a while! Where have you been all this time?"
"In Mortalia," the traveller replied, waving her hand as though it were
nothing of consequence. "Stories here were getting a little
stale, although if I'd stuck around for a bit it would have become a
little more storyteller friendly."
Still, there were more stories from the one hundred Mortalia years than
in the three years that had passed in Arcadia. When the Titanic
had sunk, Saledenre had been standing on the docks of New York as the
survivors came in; when the trenches of the First World War were dug
and shells fell from the sky, Saledenre had stood in the mirk and the
squalor as explosions lit the sky. The Blitz, Beatles Mania, the
fall of the Berlin Wall, the final of the first Pop Idol; Saledenre had
been there, taking notes as she watched all these pass her by.
"Are you still hiding away with your books, Prince Abel?" she
teased. She had never quite undertood Abel's studiousness - it
all seemed so much effort to read compared to a good, exciting story.
"I'm afraid I've not seen a lot of them of late," said Abel.
"Most of them got left behind in the rush. Once we lost the
borders, well... We didn't have a lot of time to pack."
Abel sighed, and sipped at his wine glass.
"I suppose we've been rather acquainted with your way of life
lately. I dare say it takes a while to get used to it; I'm sure
as hell glad to be home again!"
"Sometimes a life on the roads can be dreary," Saledenre agreed, her
expression momentarily serious and weary before a glint appeared in her
eye once more. "That is, of course, until the next good story
comes along. Has House Poppy fared overly ill during the time of
"You could say that," said Abel. "For a start, you've probably
noticed the lack of my father. Besides him most of the nobles
escaped, along with a few staff and reserve soldiers. I suppose
you haven't noticed, but we don't have very much of an army left now.
"Still, the castle seems mostly to have survived intact. And, for
all the challenge and the danger it posed, I think that two years away
from home taught us a lot. Certainly some... interesting times."
"We do indeed. And the House will rebuild, I am certain.
Are there any more of our people travelling beyond Arcadia? If I
could be of service to both you and Her Grace, your mother, in bringing
them back to swell the House once more then I am at your command."
"Not that I-"
"Well, I suppose there is. The Huntsman's wife, now, what was her
name... Serin, I think. She disappeared not long after we
left Poppy two years ago. He doesn't seem to have taken it that
badly, considering, though I suppose that's just their way. It
would certainly be good to have her back again. Are you keen to
return to the Human world again so soon?"
"Not so keen, no," Saledenre admitted, "but I'm probably the best
you've got to send on such a mission. Mortalia is strange... we
Arcadians tend to uhm... now what is it they say?" She frowned,
waiting for the required phrase to come to her. "As yes 'stick
out like a sore thumb'. Are you certain she has drifted
into the otherworld?"
"Yes, she... tends to drift back and forth. Truth be told, her
particular specialities could be quite useful to the war effort -
though I'm not sure whether she'd appreciate being brought back for
that purpose. Or maybe she would; she's an odd character for
"Odd?" Saledenre enquired, still wracking her brain for a recollection
of the Huntsman's wife and why she, of all those Poppies who were
missing, might be so important.
"Well, she'd be odd by our standards and by the humans'. Wherever
she sits in the middle - maybe she's normal for that, but who can
tell? Regardless of that, she's just the sort that seems to
accept whatever life throws at her. The first time she came here,
she seemed to settle in just as easily as she might in her own world."
"How incredibly odd," Saledenre replied. "I don't think I've come
across a fence-sitter before. I'm sure she'll have an interesting
take on things." Already Saledenre's mind was calculating exactly
what type of tale she could spin once she finally caught up with the
Huntsman's wife. People who did not entirely fit in with the
world around them often saw things in a different way; that had
certainly been true for Saledenre during her time in Mortalia.
The Eshu grinned, seeing an opportunity being dangled in front of her
like some appetizing treat. "So, when did you want me to start
"Well, er... Whenever you like, I suppose," said Abel. "I
would imagine you're somewhat tired, so please at least stay for the
night. In the morning... Actually, I could accompany you
some of the way if you'd like. Barring yesterday afternoon's
bizarre adventure, I've not been able to see the human world in quite
some time, so I'd like to see what kind of libraries they have these
days." Abel thought for a while. "They do still have
libraries, don't they?"
"You shall have to tell me more about that later," the Eshu told Abel,
eager to hear anything about the 'bizarre' but for now her mind turned
towards the mortal world.
"Of course, Mortalia still has libraries but now they have something
better!" Saledenre exclaimed gleefully, clapping her hands
together with such speed that the ends of her fingers seemed to
blur. "They have something called... called... called the In Ter
Net." Saledenre had only once tried to navigate the world wide
web one late evening in an Internet Cafe when she had nothing better to
do, but it had not sat well with her. Stories were there,
instantaneous and expressionless, right before her. No time had
been taken in their telling, no suspense built. The whole
experience had left the storyteller feeling cold and disappointed.
"There are so many things on it, more than a hundred libraries' worth
of information," she continued, now parroting all that she had heard of
the information highway. She was certain that Abel would find joy
in it whereas she would not.
"Wow," said Abel. "I should definitely like to see that!
Whereabouts in the world do they keep it? The building itself
must be a sight to behold!"
"Oh, but they are not kept in a building," Saledenre replied with a
laugh, "the information is held by Sir Ver and you can petition him for
the information through the marvelous machines called computers.
It's so quick and often Sir Ver does not restrict the information you
are asking for, although national secrets are rightly held close to the
knight's heart. Many people can even ask questions like these
from their own homes! I bet Gustafssen has not thought of
anything quite so amazing!"
Having lived among the humans for three of their generations, Saledenre
could not help but feel a little proud at their achievements.
They had never failed to fascinate her, especially their ability to
cram so much productivity into their short little existences.
"Machines that petition someone for information?" asked Abel. "I
think Gustafssen did once produce something called a 'Public Service
Onion', but this human thing sounds much more intriguing. If the
people have such machines in their homes, this Ver must be in an awful
rush to produce everyone's information..."
"Well, I think Sir Ver is the one in charge but he has serfs and
labourers to do the actual searching. I mean, people can petition
the Dutchess but it is her underlings who do the actual work, am I not
"Well yes, generally so. This... machinery that the humans
use. If I were to use it instead of a library, do you think it
would be easy for me to use, or should I request an audience with Sir
"Hmmm," Saledenre considered the question for a moment. "I have
never seen any posters or announcements made by Sir Ver before so I get
the feeling he is possibly hidden away as a custodian of all this
information. Perhaps we can access the computers first and then,
if we have further questions, seek an audience with Sir Ver."
"That sounds sensible. It does seem somewhat of a selfish
request, but would you mind if I accompanied you briefly to the human
world - just for a while, so that I can see how these 'computers' work?"
"Certainly, I shall be glad for the company," the Eshu said brightly,
suddenly excited at the prospect of the trip with the knowledgeable
prince into the strangeness of Mortalia. "Perhaps you can get
Gustafssen to create a computer on your return and the you can
communicate with Sir Ver from the comfort of Poppy Castle."
"Well, that would certainly be... interesting," said Abel, taking a sip
from his glass. "Gustafssen building a machine that talks to the
human world, what could possibly go wrong?"
"When were you wanting to leave? First thing in the morning, or will you be staying here longer?"
"Hmmm, maybe mid-morning. I need the right kind of light to find
the thinness where we can pass through. Dawn is abso-bally-lutely
awful for that kind of thing."
"Right then. I shall have my things packed tonight, and shall we
depart after breakfast tomorrow? That shouldn't be too early -
after all the time on the road, I'm quite glad to be back to the
House's more... relaxed mealtimes."
Saledenre seemed a little subdued at the reminder that she had missed
many of House Poppy's hardships during her time in Mortalia. It
seemed as though the grimness of the otherworld had seeped into her own
one, turning light and laughter into sadness and death. She
wondered if perhaps the disbelief and science of Mortalia had somehow
allowed for such a transformation. Perhaps she would discuss her
fears with Abel, but it might be best to wait until they were on the
road and away from too many listening ears before voicing her concerns.