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

Storyteller

Abel shut the door quietly after they had all entered, and walked over
to a small altar/desk hybrid. It was covered with books and
randomly-scattered pieces of paper, with which Abel dispensed in the
time-honoured tradition by brushing them all off onto the floor.
"Right then," he said. "Nyano, was it you who had the jar?"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

For the third time today Nyano flourishes his prize, before dropping it neatly onto the desk.

"Here you go."


Storyteller

Abel was quite taken aback. "I must admit," he said, "for a boy only two feet tall with paws, that was quite a flourish!"

"Now then," Abel continued, "what exactly was it you lot wanted me hic to do with this?"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano smiles at the complement.

"We should ask it why it thinks it was put in our food, and if it
overheard anything 'Indigo Something' said about why he was doing this,
hes the guy who gave it to the faun. Ask it how it came to Faerie as
well, and where in the human world it came from."


Akane

"We should ask again what he looked like, what he wore, and
particularly if he had any mannerisms we could use to identify him by,"
Akane continued, single-minded focus cutting through the alcoholic
haze. "We'll need a strategy, or at least that would be helpful. 'Good
cop-bad cop' would work - I'm not sure it's become quite so notorious
in Faerie."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"Um, Akane? It's just a bottle, I don't think we need to go quite that
far. Besides, Abel is the only person who can talk to it anyway"


Storyteller

"True," said Abel, "and I've certainly not heard of 'Good Cop, Raccoon,
Chef, Prince' before. How exactly does one go about being a good
cop and a bad cop?" Abel paused for a moment. "Wait, I
think I recall something about bad cops. Are they the ones who
eat too many doughnuts, or are those the good cops?"


Akane

Akane blinked. "Wait, we're interrogating the bottle?
That's what I get for only hearing half the conversation. Animate
culprits are so much easier to intimidate..." she groaned. "And I'll
have you know I can do a very effective 'bad cop' too...but it doesn't
involve donuts. It's the most classic interrogation technique: one
person threatens, the other person acts reasonable and kind and
pretends to take the subject's side."

((OOC: Wow, my character's less drunk, but I'm acting drunk. I just
realised how little sense that last post made. Fixing, hopefully.))


Nyano-Sgiathatch

The poor raccoon stuck his chin out defiantly at Abel's comment.

"Why am I the only person listed by species? I'll have you know I am a
scoutmaster and head of the military! I'm not just any raccoon!"


Storyteller

"I'm sorry!" said Abel. "I didn't mean it to be offensive, I
just... Well, look at it this way. That makes you more
interesting than us! I mean, we all look kind of the same, but
isn't being shaped like a raccoon rather than a human more fun?"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"It's not that I don't like being a raccoon, it's that you called
everyone else by their rank or job. I just wanted to say that I'm not
just any raccoon, I'm an important raccoon!"

Nyano looks sheepish.
"I guess it sounds a little stuck up when I say it like that. I'm sorry."


Storyteller

"It's okay," said Abel. "It was my fault. I'm... I'm sorry."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

The raccoon looks up at Abel.

"It's ok, we were both being silly. Now shouldn't you question the bottle?"


Storyteller

"Yes, yes, you're right. Now, where were we. Oh yes, this
is a variant of my own on a common cantrip. It is normally a
technique by which one can whisper to the soul of another, but I have
adapted it a little so that many can speak, and of sensible volumes."

Abel casts Willow-Whisper, Abel's Volume-Enhanced Edition!
Rolling (Intelligence) 4 + (Kenning) 2 = 6, with Speciality (Cantrip Modification)
Difficulty: 8
1 success.

Abel stood behind the deskaltar, raised his hands above the jar, and
began to mumble in who knows what language. A wind blew through
the room, leaving the already randomly-arranged papers statistically
unaffected. Small saplings grew up from the altar all around the
jar, covering it completely in a kind o watercress, until with a flash of greenish light it was gone, and alone stood the jar.

It juddered, twisted slowly on its axis to... face... its audience?

Then, just as everyone was leaning closely just in case it could only whisper its own speech, it suddenly shouted.

"G'day mates!"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano looks intently at the bottle

"Do you know anything about a man who might be called 'Indigo Something'"?


Storyteller

"Indigo, y'say? Strewth! Well, 'ere goes then!

OC: Insert AQI here. I can't be arsed to figure out how to gramatically represent it.

"Right, you see, back in the Dream, all the colours o' the rainbow were
walkin' the earth. And one day, back before time was time, some
young Shiela went down the shops ta' buy some Tim-tams an' a jar of
Vegemite. Only the poor lass got holda' marmite instead, an' she
didn't much like that. So, when 'er mate Indigo Something popped
round fa' dinner, she gave it ta' him, 'cos 'e said 'e 'ad a good use
fer it.

"Now Mister Indigo popped back ta' the Dream with this jar a' marmite,
'an 'e emptied it out an' filled it with poison ta' bump off some big
party! Least, that's what me mate Reggie the other jar a' marmite
told me. But hey, what'd I know about things like that.
I've been having wi' no poisons, I've been an honest jar a' marmite all
my life!"


Akane

"That's not quite how the story goes, I'm afraid," Akane responded,
trying not to think about the fact that she was talking to a bottle. Maybe I did spend too long with the humans...
"The partygoers saw an empty bottle labeleled with a skull and
crossbones. They assumed that poison had been poured into the meal, and
there was lots of panicking, until they realised it was actually a
fairly harmless compound. Then they spent a long time wondering why
anyone would pretend to poison them. Do you see what I'm
getting at? We're all very sure you're an honest jar of marmite. What
we're not sure about is whoever brought you here, so we'd appreciate
anything at all you can tell us..."


Storyteller

"The ones who bought me here? Don't know nothing about them, mate. Some guy with a beret and then this furry dude."


Akane

"Well, please tell us if you noticed anything at all unusual or
distinguishing about the guy with the beret, or anything interesting
you might've overheard in his coversation with the 'furry dude'. Also,
you said that Indigo is...a colour of the rainbow?" Akane asked.


Storyteller

"Well of course it's a colour of the rainbow, right? Between Blue
and Violet, yes? But them two chaps, they didn't talk. I
think there was something about it being a secret.

"Anyway, I gotta go. Throwing another prawn on Sindy, or
something like that. Lovely speaking to y'all! See ya'!"

The Marmite jar rocked back and forth with less animation each time, until before long it was still and silent.

There was a lengthy pause.

"Riiight," said Abel.


Akane

"Weeell." She said. "That was no help at all. A beret? What are the
odds he'll keep that on?" She then turned to Abel and grinned. "That
was still a brilliant job on the cantrip, though. You have to teach me that. Or, well, anything. I haven't really done that sort of thing much in the last century..."


Storyteller

"A brilliant job?" Abel was quite taken aback. "Leave that
one for when we get some useful information out of the thing. It
was far less successful and shorter-lasting than I had hoped.
Perhaps, with a little refinement..."

Abel produced a pen from behind his ear, and started scrabbling around on the floor for a piece of paper.


Akane

Akane grinned. "You'd be surprised. I couldn't do that. But then, I got
used to not relying on that sort of thing...I was 'playing by their
rules' most of the time, so to speak."


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

"I don't think we should ignore the beret, if they don't know we know
about it, well, the kind of person to wear a beret is the kind to keep
it on unless they have to take it off dontcherknow.

A pity the cantrip didn't last longer, I've always wanted to know
whether Marmite jars love it or hate it. Neither way makes sense - if
they hate it, they'd struggle to get it out all the time. And if they
love it, they'd never let you take any out. Important question. I feel."

He trailed off.

"So anyway! What's the next step chaps? Furry chaps abound and no one at the party seemed to be wearing a beret..."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"I think the furry chap he's talking about is the prisoner I've got in the dungeon."


Akane

Akane gaped. "Wait, you have a prisoner? And you didn't tell us? I
think he'll be likely to tell us a lot more than the marmite bottle!"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"I already interrogated him, he's too stupid to know anything. That's
why I had to resort to interrogating a funny speaking bottle.

"We can go question him again if you want. If we're quick the cantrip I
cast to make him tell the whole truth might not have run out yet."


Akane

Akane shrugged. "Couldn't hurt. I could always hypnotise him, though I
haven't done it in a while; they remember all sorts of things they
can't consciously call to mind if you do it that way..."


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

"We could certainly have a chinwag with the chap, see if mentioning the
beret brings any memories flooding back. And besides, I want a quiet
conversation with him about spoiling my fine celebratory dinner."


Storyteller

Just then, the door opened slightly and Ilandra's head appeared around
the corner. "Right, we're going home now, see ya tomorrow Akane!"
she said, then disappeared as quickly as she had appeared.

Outside, presumably from closer to Abel's room than Ilandra intended,
came Ilandra's voice again. "Now run, before she realises what
we're doing!"


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh stuck his head around the still-open door.

"You chaps realise we heard that?"


Ilandra

"We're planning a surprise party!" Ilandra called out. "Ruined the
surprise now, haven't you?" the two exchanged a look. "Oh, and we also
wanted extra time for each other..." she called.


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

"A surprise party? For me? Oh. I'm terrible sorry. But whatever for?"


Ilandra

Ilandra stopped and rolled her eyes. "Not for you, for Akane. To
welcome her home. Now it's just another party, rather than the quiet
surprise we were planning..." she told him.


Akane

Rolled perception + subterfuge (7), difficulty 4; 3 successes.

Akane realised something wasn't right...Wait a second. Bag, run, before she realises...Surprise party my vulpine ass! "Excuse me," she told the others as she ran out of the room after Ilandra.

"Young lady," she said, with the full weight of what was now a hundred
and ten years of age difference augmented by a childhood of both
participating in and cleaning up after Ilandra's pranks, "Where the hell do you think you're going?"


Ilandra

"Back to the house of course... where else? what on earth do you take
me for? I have to be the responsible one here and I can't even escape
for an extended session of cuddling!"
Ilandra rolls 4 d10 at difficulty 6 for Wits + Subterfuge
1 success

She cuddled Cain as if to prove her point.

"Also, I've been getting nightmares recently so we thought it'd be a good idea for him to move his stuff over tonight."


Akane

Akane gave her a look. "It is possible, though unlikely. I am prepared to believe you...if you show me what's in that bag."


Ilandra

"It's Cain's stuff, see?" Ilandra said, opening the bag to reveal
Cain's clothing. "He can't exactly wear my stuff, so we have to take
his."


Akane

Akane shook her head. "That much stuff? No. Not when he lives right
next door. I think you're leaving. And I don't exactly blame you, but
it's not even close to responsible. There's a war on,
hadn't you noticed? People die. It's not safe out there. You could find
out that overnight that everyone is dead!" she hissed quietly, not
particularly wanting everyone in Abel's room to overhear.

"We have the only hospital in Faerie. We treat indiscriminately. We are
a target. Not just for Red and White Roses anymore, but also for the
Black Roses, whose true motives are unknown. And you're going to run
off and let whatever happens happen. You deserve to be happy, cousin,
but we don't have the time or the luxury.

"For the last century, I've been hiding in the mortal world, pretending
the war I knew was probably happening was Not My Problem. Certainly the
fate of Faerie as a whole is not my particular responsibility. Nor was
House Honeysuckle meant to be. That was going to be Lysander's job. Now
it's yours. And, yes, mine, because there isn't anyone else left. It should never have been your job or mine; it isn't right nor fair that it now is; but there's no choice. Everybody else is dead, Ilandra.

"You can't walk away from our people. That's what being a noble means
- that you are responsible towards others. I could pretend that wasn't
the case when I was the unimportant daughter of a cadet branch of the
family - there was never really anything I was needed for - but I can't
anymore. And neither can you.

"I'm not going to try to stop you; go, have your damn vacation. I've
been solving other people's problems for the last century, and this was
meant to be my
holiday, but I can't hide anymore. You also ran away from
responsibility for a long time, and now you're going to what, keep
running? You're the youngest Duchess we've ever had, yet what's left of
the House is all utterly devoted, would all die for you. Including me.

"I just hope that, if and when you come back, you don't find out we have," she said, defeated.


Ilandra

"Firstly, I'm not leaving for good, just a week maximum. Secondly,
you're not in charge. Oh and thirdly, I helped make your parent's
passage into the next shell painless, I helped my own parents die
peacefully, I even helped my brother die peacefully, do I act like I've
lost my family? Not anymore." Ilandra was close to tears. "I had the
worst nightmares for three months, and where were you? Missing presumed
dead! That's where! I am not involving our house further in this war
than it is right now! Furthermore, if anyone deserves any kind of
holiday, it's me!"

Ilandra turned to go, shaking her head. "I haven't had a proper
childhood, I had to assume responsibility. Now if you can't look after
a house for a few days, let me know. But know this, Lysander would be
deeply disappointed in your attitude."

She picked Cain's hand up and started to walk off.


Akane

Akane backed up against the wall, then slid down to sit on the floor in a huddle.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know. I didn't want to know, too. But
at the same time, I thought here was safe. I never thought the war
would come here, don't you see? I wasn't needed for anything. Everybody
was good at something but me. Lysander was studious, you were
charming... Everyone was more at something." she said, more to herself than to the departing Ilandra, who had her back turned in indifference.

"If I had guessed, I would've been back in a heartbeat, even if I had
been one of the ones you had to help die painlessly. Instead, my
cowardice cost me the last few years I might've had with them. You're
probably right...who wouldn't be dissappointed?"

Ilandra was probably gone. She didn't look at the hallway to see. She took a deep breath and pulled herself together. "Now I am good at something," she finished softly. "So I guess I should go do it."

OC: "She set her shoulders and went back inside to
interrogate the prisoner." removed, as I think Ilandra meant to
interrupt you doing that. Poke me if I'm wrong!


Ilandra

Ilandra sighed.

"Don't let it get to you Akane. We'll be back soon, right now I just
need some time with Cain. Assuming he still wants to come?" she looked
at him. He nodded. "I strongly suggest we sit down and talk when I get
back, I'll arrange for Catkin and Grizzel to take care of stuff if
you're not ready... they did an excellent job while I was gone." She
went over and hugged her cousin. "By the way, my parents wanted me to
be like you." she whispered in her ear.

Having said that, she grabbed Cain's hand and ran off down the hall.


Akane

Akane stood, using the wall to pull herself up, and it took her a moment to stop trembling like a leaf. No more running, she promised herself. No
more being a coward. It's not even that Ilandra's disappointed, or
whether Lysander would be, although that's bad enough. It's that, in
all honesty, what she said was right, and I'm dissappointed in myself, and that's the main problem.

With that thought, she set her shoulders and went back inside to discuss interrogating the prisoner.

((OOC: Yeah, she interrupted.))


Storyteller

"Right," said Abel, catching the look in Akane's eyes but deciding not
to enquire. "Nyano, did you say the faux-poisoner was being held
in the dungeons?"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"He's the only prisoner in there, he shouldn't be that hard to find. I
left three guards there with him, so he should still be there. Let's
go!"

With that, Nyano heads off towards the dungeons.


Akane

As Akane turned to follow Nyano out, she caught Abel examining her with far too much insight for her liking. I'd
forgotten how well they know me. A lot can be different in a century,
sure, but some things don't ever change, regardless of time.
"Don't
ask," she told him. "You probably don't want to know, and I probably
don't want to answer - not unless you plan to get me drunk again when
we're done with this," she finished as she headed after the Scoutmaster.


Storyteller

Abel stood and smiled for a moment as he watched Akane leave the room,
wondering just how much of her and Ilandra's lives he didn't yet know
about. Then, after a brief shake of his head as if to dislodge
awkward thoughts, he and Hugh followed the other two in the direction
of the dungeons.


Storyteller

Nyano led Akane, Hugh and Abel deep into the heart of Castle Poppy,
down staircase after staircase, until they were well underground and as
far as anyone could figure not underneath the main body of the castle
at all.

At the end of a dingy tunnel was a door, framed by two torches that
illuminated it and two guards who were trying their very best to play
cards.

They snapped to attention as the group approached, meaning that their
next game would inevitably be 52-card Pick-up. They saluted, and
one of them unlocked the door and allowed the four visitors through.

From inside the room, sounds of crunching could be heard, each one
followed by a slight whimper. Abel grabbed one of the torches
from the outside wall and stepped in, illuminating the interior of the
cell.

In the corner, the faun was desperately trying to move whilst
disturbing the floor as much as possible - an understandable endeavour,
being as the floor was covered quite thickly with bones. Each
time the poor creature touched one, he let out a small fearful squeal.


Akane

Akane nodded slightly to the group, then approached the faun. Let the games begin...

"Oh, you poor thing," she told it. "That's not a very nice place to put
a guest!" she scolded the other three. "Listen, I'm sure there's been a
terrible misunderstanding. How about we take you somewhere nicer and
let you sit down, then I'll ask a few questions and we'll get to the
bottom of this in no time!" Akane rolls Cha + Empathy, difficulty 6 - 0 successes :/

Shit, doesn't look like he's biting. Have we got a Bad Cop? Or a Plan B?


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Nyano glares at the prisoner, his boomerang shifting back to a full spear.

"There's been no misunderstanding. He was seen with the poison and he's
confessed everything to me already. He knows that his only chance of
seeing his family again is knowing something useful to our
investigation. He'll answer all of our questions truthfully if I ask
him to."

Nyano looks into the faun's eyes.
"Won't you?"

OOC:New application of Dictum, with the intimidation/good cop/bad cop as the bunk.


Storyteller

Nyano casts the Dictum (Sovereign 2) cantrip!
Rolling (Charisma) 6 + (Kenning) 1 = 7 dice. 1 Autosuccess from bunk.
Difficulty 6.
6 successes!
Jesus Motherfucking Snakes on a Plane =S

The faun virtually screams, backing right into the corner and pushing
himself up against the stonework as fast and as far as he could, all
the while unable to take his eyes off the glinting razor-sharp edge of
Nyano's spear.

"...Yes..." he sobbed, in a voice most un-befitting a grown man.


Akane

Well, looks like we're in business, Akane thought happily.

"I'm sure he'll be very happy to answer our questions and he knows that
his willingness to cooperate will reflect well on him when it becomes
time to decide what to do with him," Akane said pleasantly.

"Here's what we're going to do. We're going to tie your wrists - just
so my friend the Scoutsmaster doesn't feel nervous, as he might react a
bit rashly if he was," she continued with a discreet wink to Nyano,
"Then we're going to take you to a nicer room and ask you a few
questions. As long as you remain helpful, rest assured that no harm
will come to you. If you're very helpful, we might even be able to arrange some dinner for you, from the food you didn't
'poison', and maybe even some slightly nicer accomodation arrangements,
until this is sorted out. Sound good?" she smiled at the faun.


Storyteller

"Um, yes..." the faun sobbed again. He proffered his wrists to
Akane, glancing sideways at Nyano as he did so to check that he wasn't
getting any closer. Even though Nyano hadn't moved, the faun
shuffled slightly away from him anyway.


Akane

"There there, stop crying," Akane patted the faun on the shoulder. Wimp. Then again, he has been keeping company with bones all night.

She fetched a pair of handcuffs from the wall, and, after a moment of thought, a set of legcuffs as well. If he earns his dinner, he'll also have earned the right to feed himself.
Locking the cuffs around the faun's wrist, she clipped the second set
onto her belt and hung both sets of keys around her neck. Keys in pockets is just asking for trouble.

"Right," she turned to the others. "Have we got a non-dungeon-shaped
secure room we can take our guest to? No bones, please, let's give him
a chance to tell his side of the story."


Storyteller

"Of course," Abel said. "It's not as if our House is big enough to fill this old castle any more. This way."

He beckoned and the group, faun included, trooped out of the
cell. The guards, halfway through picking their cards up, stood
and saluted and dropped them all again.

They walked back through the long tunnel, up several flights of stairs,
and back into the castle proper again. Abel found a room quite
high up in one of the towers that had a strong lock on the door, whilst
inside was richly decorated and thick with dust.

"One of the old Dukes was quite paranoid," said Abel by way of an
explanation. "In his elderly years, he spent much of his time up
here, convinced that everyone bar the one servant he trusted with the
keys was out to kill him. It turned out in the end that he'd
trusted the wrong man, but since then no-one's bothered to use this
room for very much."


Akane

Akane lead the faun to a chair and sat down across from him. "I'd like
you to start at the beginning, please. You say you're innocent; so how
did you wind up putting 'poison' in our food? Anything at all you
remember might be important, and of course, the more details you give
us, the more we might become convinced of your honesty." Now's no time to tell him it wasn't poison. Maybe afterwards...


Storyteller

"I... I've already told... Well, I already told the scary
spear-wielding, um, raccoon everything I know. I'm just...
I'm just a poor man, and I was out hunting to try and feed my
family. We were farmers, but... But our village got caught
up in the war, and most of us died, and then the soldiers came and
burned our crops...

"Then, one day... One day I met this Indigo man. I think it
was Indigo something-or-other. I met him in the forest near home,
and he told me that... If I could do a job for him, then we'd
never starve again. He gave me... precise instructions about what
to do, and he gave me money and promised more when I returned to him.

"When the Poppies, um, that is to say, when you passed through an inn
on your way back to the castle, I... let one of your horses out of the
stable, and then, um, I took his place, looking properly like a horse
of course, so I was ridden back here, and then turned back into this
shape, and snuck into the kitchens, and I put the black stuff in the
bottle in all the pots and pans just like the guy asked and then you
found me and, um...

"And I'm so sorry!" he wailed, bursting into tears again. "I just... I just needed the money..."


Akane

Against her will, Akane felt slightly sorry for the poor faun. "The war's been hard on everyone," she said. Maybe
if he really is as innocent as he says, I could have a talk with
Ilandra about accepting someone in his family - probably not him, given
the givens - as a trainee healer. That'd help keep them fed. But I'd
certainly have to discuss that with her first, it's a bit of a
stretch...

"It looks like you don't remember much, and given how difficult this
day must've been for you, I don't blame you," she said soothingly. "I'd
like to try something. I'm going to hypnotise you - put you in a bit of
a sleepy trance, so that you can remember things better - and then ask
you the same questions. Look into my eyes, please," she instructed the
faun.

The human hypnotist that had taught her this trick favoured using a
shiny object as a focus for the subject's vision, but she'd found that
yellow fox's eyes worked even better. Akane rolls Kenning + Manipulation (difficulty 5) to hypnotise the faun; 4 successes. OOC: Finally the dice like me!


Akane

Ian and I did this bit on MSN, otherwise it would probably have taken several more days of playing out this one day :P

The faun blinks a couple of times, then locks eye contact with
Akane. His eyes widen, then close slightly as his body sags into
a daydream-like daze.

Akane eyes the faun. Crap, I don't know his name... she thought. "What is your name?"

"...Albert..." murmurs the faun.

"Right, Albert. I'd like you to think back to when you first met the
person called Indigo. You're walking through the forest. What happens?"

"I... I started tracking something that I thought was a wild animal,
but as I got closer I realised it was a person. I approached slowly,
and the man was stood in a clearing, looking right at me and smiling..."

"Tell me what this man looked like; describe his physical appearance,
his mannerisms, and anything else about him that might be distinctive."

"He was tall, with brown hair poking out from under a blue beret.
He was a noble, I could tell that for sure, though he wore plain
clothes. His chin was kind of stubbley."

"He looked Sidhe then? Tell me what happened next. How did he approach
you, and what were your thoughts on hearing his proposal?"

"He called me by name, and ordered me to go up to him, and I'm not sure
why but I obeyed him. He knew why I was hunting; knew what
happened to my family. He gave me money, gold coins, then told me
to listen. He told me that if I did this job for him, he'd give
me so much money that we'd never starve again..."

"And what did this job entail, Albert?"

"He gave me the bottle, told me exactly how to get to the castle and
what to do when I was there - to put a drop from the bottle into
everything in the kitchens."

"Did you believe the contents of the bottle were going to harm people, Albert?"

"It'd be revenge, he said... Against the people who burned our fields."

"So you believed you were getting back at the people who made you starve?"

"Yes... It's the money I really wanted, but if I could... help to
redress the balance then I thought that was another reason to accept."

"Did House Poppy burn your fields, Albert? Was it them you wanted to get back at?"

"I don't know which House it was, only that they were allies of the Red
Rose. The stranger, he said that... That there would be
many of them here tonight."

"After everything that's happened to you, assuming you weren't trying
to feed your family, would you still try to hurt people for revenge?"

"No, never... It was the money I wanted, and I was prepared to do
any job to get money, but this... just happened to be a job I didn't
disagree with..."

"If House Poppy or their allies made sure you and your family didn't go hungry, would you be loyal to them?"

"I'd do... anything to stop us starving..."

"What if I told you the people you poisoned didn't have anything to do
with your family's livelihood being destroyed? How would that make you
feel about your actions?"

"I'd feel more guilty, but... I'd still have done the job.
Morality is less important to... to the poor, and the hungry."

The problem is that they're poor and hungry in the first place, Akane thought with a sigh. I'll
have to speak to Ilandra; we don't dare let him go free while his
family's starving. The thing that worries me is...how many more like
him are there?
"Tell me," she asked the faun, "How many people like you are there? How much...did the war destroy?"

"From my village there are... maybe six left alive. Once, there
were nearly a hundred. In other villages, who knows. The
nobles' games have cost the world so much."

"I'm sorry for your loss, Albert," Akane said - and meant it. "Back to
my earlier questions - did Indigo say he'd contact you again after the
job was done? How was he going to give you the money that would
guarantee your family's livelihood?"

"He said that he'd know if I was successful and that... he'd meet me in the same place, two days hence at sunset."

"Albert, if we guaranteed your family would have food and shelter, would you meet this man again...and report to us?"

"He'd... know I failed. I don't know what he'd do, and I don't want to find out..."

"Technically, you didn't fail - you did put the contents of the bottle
into our food, and you can tell him so. What if we had someone in the
woods near you to protect you if something went wrong?" Akane knew
information was the only weapon they had at this point, and they needed
it badly - even if it meant accompanying the faun herself.

"I don't know if... if I've failed, whether he'll even come, or whether
he'll just send people to kill me. And it would be stupid for
your people to risk themselves to protect... someone like me."

"Someone like you? What do you mean by that, Albert?"

"I... I tried to kill you. What would it matter to you if I... died...?"

"Because what you did was wrong, but your need was dire. Because if
you're right about the nobles having lost the goodwill of the
commoners, than any one of you could be our enemy, and we need to
change that. Because I believe the reason nobles exist is to look after
their people," Akane responded.

"Then if there is a noble who would... look after me, and my family, I... would do anything for them."

I can't believe I'm doing this, Akane thought to herself, The
last thing I wanted was...responsibility. But someone has to do it; for
him and for everybody like him. I've been a coward; maybe something
like this is what it will take for me to change.

"I'll look after you," she promised him. "For now you're going to go to
sleep," she told the Faun, "And you'll wake up again when I tell you
to." She turned to the others. "We need a plan," she informed them. "I
have some ideas, but I'd like to hear yours too."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Once Nyano was sure the faun was properly asleep he turns to Akane. His fur standing on end in rage.

"Going to that meeting was the stupidest idea I've ever heard! This
idiot wasn't meant to succeed. Didn't you notice that he was told the
entire plan in minute detail, up to the point where he was supposed to
get out after putting poison into food in a busy kitchen SURROUNDED BY
WITNESSES! They neglected to give him an escape plan, they didn't even
tell him to wear a disguise.

HE WAS MEANT TO BE CAUGHT AND TELL US THIS!"

Nyano starts to breath again.

"Anyone who goes to that meeting is either dead or captured.

I will not allow my men to be ordered to do something this stupid.
They've just gotten us home and gotten us through some incredibly
dangerous situations. They deserve a rest and some light duty.

For some of them the thought of the reward they would get when we got
here has been the only thought that sustained them when yet another
monstrosity with 15 mouths leaps from the underbrush and tries to
kill them. I intend to see they live to enjoy that pay.

So if you're going, you're doing it without either military or scout
support. You'll have to take it up with the kitchens about getting your
final dinner, because that's about all we can do for you.

My opinion is that this faun should be tried by the duchess Regara as a
poisoner, and his sentence should be left to her. I intend to request
that he and his family become indentured servants to my household,
where I will see that they are fed and kept out of mischief for the
rest of their days.

And as for what to do with Indigo something, I think if we don't bite
this time, he'll either send something else to try us in the next
month, or he'll leave us alone.

If it's the first, perhaps it'll be less well thought out that this
time, and we can use it to get a little more information on our
opponent, like at the very least a corroboration of his description.
Perhaps if we think about it, we can create some sort of obvious
weakness that we can trick him to exploit. Maybe another big party or
something simillar, some chance that he's not going to be able to pass
up on. But, the final say on any plan goes to the duchess.

That's why we have a duchess, to stop us making up hare brained plans without consulting someone sensible!"

Finally finishing his rant Nyano sits back on his heels to see the effect on his audience.


Akane

Akane sighed. "I never meant to imply that I would commandeer your men
into this without your consent. I apologise," she told Nyano. "I was
simply thinking that, if there are enough people there, we might be
able to capture this Indigo before he gets up to more mischief.

"Nor did I mean to imply that I was going to single-handedly make any
decisions about his future; I just meant for him to give us as much
information as possible about his state of mind so that we can judge
whether it's safe to let him go. After all, he couldn't possibly have
done us harm, even if he intended to.

"I don't think it's fair that his family be indentured, though - after
all, they didn't know anything about this, and didn't have any part in
his actions. By 'looking after him', I meant that I was going to
consult Ilandra about giving the rest of his family positions as
apprentice healers, where they will be looked after until they finish
their training, and, should they decide to work in the hospital
afterwards, receive wages as well.

"Maybe you're right about going after Indigo being a phenomenally
stupid idea. I'm just not sure what choice we have. Whether this man
was working with the Committee or some other plot is afoot, whatever it
is he wants from us, as you said, he'll keep trying, and we will never see it coming.
Next time he will be better prepared. Next time we may not notice the
knife until it's been stuck in our back. Whatever's going on, I don't
think they're the kind to give up.

"If we do go after him, we'll know the time and place of the encounter;
we'll be able to look over the ground he's chosen; we'll be able to lay
traps. We might be able to get some idea what the hell is going on, because until then, we're running blind; and I'm afraid that makes us vulnerable."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"Doing anything based only on information he knows we have is worse
that running blind. House poppy has no resources to spare on preparing
an ambush for Indigo, and even if we did, I wouldn't want to send them
into what is very likely to be a counter ambush.

The trick is to get more information, I think they are going to attack
us again, but the question we have to ask is, what do we know about
them from the way they've attacked already?

What we know is that they want either to poison a whole load of people,
most of whom are not us, or they want to capture some of our people,
probably for political gain.

We can use that to set a trap on our ground, theres no need to risk
resources on their ground. I'm pretty sure, given what he told Albert,
that the man is one of the White who isn't stupid enough to pass of a
chance at poisoning a whole load of red nobles at no risk to himself.

He already knew everything about Albert's circumstances at the time
they met, and he gave a detailed set of instructions on the insertion.
That means he's the type to make careful plans and consider all the
alternatives. The place where he met Albert is almost certainly trapped
already, if it's not it's only because the traps would get in the way
of the full company of White Rose troops that are hiding in the trees.

I think we should set a trap for him instead, that's the best way to
find out 'what the hell is going on' as you put it. Arn't Duchess
Honeysuckle and Prince Cain going to get married?

Wouldn't either their wedding or their engagment party be a party as
big as this one? If we made lots of noise about this party, I bet
Indigo wouldn't be able to resist the opportunity to stick his knife in
there.

Then since we're expecting it, we can set it up so we catch his agent.
I have lots of ideas on how to do that, but that can wait till later,
and anyway, I still think that we shouldn't make any plans at all until
we've told Duchess Regara."


Akane

"They're getting married, yes," Akane nodded. "But first they decided
to go on vacation. My cousin said she'd be back in a week, but it may
take them longer, I have no idea. I'm not sure the man was a White
Rose, though - given everything that's happened tonight, it seems like
the timing is just too good for this to have nothing to do with the
Black Rose Committee, whatever they are. Nyano, they weren't trying to 'poison a whole lot of people', because it wasn't poison,
so what would a White have to gain by that? I don't think that Indigo
would come himself; he didn't this time, and as we've seen, he doesn't
give his pawns too much information.

"Your argument is good, though; if you think we can set a better trap
at another time, then let's do it your way," she said. "However, please
do remember that it wasn't only Poppies that were in danger tonight,
although it did happen on your lands and in your castle." I'm
not in charge here, and I can't have it both ways - I don't want
authority, and that means acknowledging that it's not my place to
judge. But I made the man a promise...

"The man's family have nothing to do with it, though, and I made him a
promise. I'm going to take them in, and if Ilandra says otherwise when
she returns, then I'll find a way to make sure they're taken care of
without using Honeysuckle resources."

Push comes to shove, I send them to the human world to live off my
bank accounts - I'm certainly not poor, given I've been working for a
century - and when I have the time, train them to survive there. That
way, they'll always be able to get by, even if I can't do anything for
them in Faerie.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"We don't need to hold the party in the next week, I was thinking more
like two months. We'd announce it in about two weeks. There won't be
any more attacks for at least a week, since Indigo won't know if this
plan succeeded or not for another day at least, and then he'll have to
go organise his second attack.

As for why he's probably a white rose, think about what the poison jar
said. It claimed that another marmite jar 'Rodney' had told it that
Indigo had filled a simillar jar with poison, but that our jar itself
is not poisoned, it is an ordinary jar of marmite.

Clearly this means that there were at least two jars, at least one of
which was poisoned and one of which was not. At least one jar was
marked as poison. I suspect poor Indigo simply marked the wrong jar. By
the fact that he filled one jar with poison, that he was going to use
to kill a whole load of people in a party, we can assume that he did
infact want to kill the partygoers.

As for why it's a white. It's clearly not a Red, unless it's a traitor.
You don't try and indiscriminatly poison a whole bunch of people on
your own side if you believe in them. I don't think it's a black rose.
The only thing linking it with them is the timing, it happened at the
same party that Elaine crashed. In case you hadn't noticed, this is
both the only opportunity for someone to come and openly make a
proposal to House Poppy in front of the collected nobles of the Reds,
and the only opportunity to poison a whole load of Red nobles in our
lands.

Besides, if we'd accepted the Black Rose proposal or even been a little
warmer towards it Elayne would have been honour bound to stay and enjoy
the party. No one would trust an alliance with an envoy who didn't even
do us the honour of staying at our party once she'd gone to all the
trouble of coming to it. She'd have been given a place at the head
table, and been expected to talk to the nobles of the other houses who
were present in an attempt to convince them.

The important point is, she would have been expected to eat the food.

Whoever she is, you could tell from her bearing that she wasn't just
some expendable messenger. She's important enough that the Black Rose
wouldn't want her poisoned. Even if she had taken some kind of
antidote, if she had survived and a lot of other nobles hadn't, then
word would spread around the Reds pretty quickly that this had
happened. It wouldn't take long for those rumours to start
linking the Black Roses for the poisoning, and then they'd stir up the
hatred of anyone who lost a family member or liege lord to the incident.

There is no way the black rose could have wanted to poison such a large
group of important people shortly after making an offer of alliance to
their hosts. It's political suicide, compounded by political throwing
your toys out of your pram. Frankly the best way to scupper the Black
Rose's plans would be to poison three quarters of the people at this
party shortly after they've made their proposal. Nothing would hurt
them more.

He has to be a White, theres no one else who has a serious motive.

On the other point, letting that idiot's family go free is a really bad
idea. Whatever happens he's going to be sentenced to death, I'll do my
best to make the sentence commuted to something more preferable, but
it'll still officially be death. He confessed to the head of the guard,
with witnesses after being caught holding the poison bottle.

His family don't like the reds as it is, I can guarantee that when word
gets back to them, and Indigo will make sure it does, that they're
going to really really hate us, and I bet Indigo will use that to use
them to get at us, and they'll probably die in the attempt. As they are
they're a vulnerability. As serfs on my land, I can protect them. Can
you say the same?"


Akane

"You're right, a death sentence would cause a great deal of ill feeling
towards the Poppies, given the man was trying to feed his starving
family. So will indenturing innocent peasants. Showing mercy, on the
other hand, would probably gain a lot more political advantage.

"I am willing to protect them without taking away their freedom. We can
offer the children training in a profession, a future career. If their
livelihood depends on me and mine, I doubt they will want to kill us -
especially given that it won't be us who will decide Albert's fate.

"I made him a promise; if it turns out to be a promise to a condemned
man, it's all the more important that I keep it. His family is in my
care, because, for a start, they're they're not on trial for anything,
and they're free commoners, and as such, you don't get to decide what
to do with them. I don't either. I will ask them to come with me, and
it will be their choice if they do so or not.

"I'm willing to let who is responsible for the poisoning is rest, for now." Although
I'm still convinced this is somehow all connected to the Black Roses,
and I will damn well prove it in good time, there's absolutely no sense
in making an enemy of Nyano, especially if he does come up with a
viable plan. We don't need infighting right now.

"However, if we're going to go with your plan, I have a question for you
- why is it that you refuse to endanger your scouts, but you're
perfectly willing to lay a trap with my Duchess and your Prince as
bait?"


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"His family are free commoners? Judging from his desperation and
naievety I suspect his family are serfs. Obviously if they are free
commoners then they can't be made indentured servants, but I find it
highly unlikely that they're free commoners. They almost certainly
belong to some noble or another, and that noble has clearly deserted
them in their time of need, an injustice I intend to rebalance.

If you do try and take them under your care, I'd still be worried that
Indigo is going to take them under his protection before, or possibly
after you get to them.

I'm still not seeing how Albert's sentence can formally be anything but
death. Most of the nobles in the other room think he actually
sucessfully poisoned them. If we don't sentence him to death then we'd
risk slighting half of the noble houses in the Reds. It's embarrasing
enough that this happened at all, letting the culprit off with a slap
on the wrist would add insult to injury, and if his family are
technically someone's property the only way we'd be able to protect
them is to claim them under law.

There is nothing wrong with commuting a death sentence to something
else in this situation. Death commuted to indentured servitute is still
the best option for him.

If his family are free commoners, and you offer them a place in your
hospital, what are you going to do to stop Indigo from turning them
into his spies and agents? You'd have to watch them all the time, in
reality they'd have no freedom at all. That's worse than my option,
you're telling them that they're free, but secretly keeping them
under guard.

Also, whatever gave you the idea that Cain and Illandra are the bait?
Theres no good reason for anyone to attack them during the wedding.
There's little political advantage, and it's obvious that they're going
to be heavily guarded with an entire hospital of fae waiting to treat
them if something goes wrong.

They're not the bait at all, the guests are the bait. Since the guests
will know that one of our parties ended in a poisoning, they'll already
be warned of the danger. By turning up, they've already given
permission to be used as bait. Besides which, I'm convinced that going
to deal with Indigo on his terms is as stupid as suicide. That's why
I'm not risking my men on it.

I think that bringing one of his agents to our turf is much less risky,
so I don't mind the operation. Besides, you think my men arn't going to
be in danger in this plan? They're our only military force, they're
going to have their hands very full with organising the defence. It's
not like I'm cosseting them away from all danger."


Akane

((OOC: her mind went to Cain and Ilandra as bait because she's paranoid and very protective of Ilandra :P))

"Albert's death could be avoided by swearing anyone who saw you capture
him to secrecy if they're house Poppy vassals, and declaring that no
one was caught. Or by saying he was put to death, and smuggling him
out. Or by, I don't know, telling the nobles the truth? It seems like
that's the best option for him, rather than condemning him for a crime
he did not commit.

"I assure you that if his family are threatened, or threaten me, I will
reconsider your proposal to lok after them. Until then, though, I do
not see how taking away their freedom will 'balance' any wrongs done to
them, only perpetuate the injustice; if their lord abandoned them, then
they are free now if they weren't before. They are not stray dogs, they
do not owe allegiance to the first noble who decides to claim them
(which is why I plan to offer them a choice) anymore than they owe
allegiance to the lord who betrayed them.

"In the hospital they will be watched, not because I
decreed it so, but because there are multiple staff members working at
all hours, and the nature of the job is so delicate that anything amiss
would soon be spotted. As you said about my cousin and her fiancee,
they'll be heavily guarded with an entire hospital wing of Fae ready to
sedate them if something goes wrong!

"I worried that Cain and Ilandra might be bait because, as Duchess
Honeysuckle and her Duke-to-be, they are responsible for the only
hospital in Faerie. Elaine of the Black Rose was fairly open regarding
her feeling that the hospital should be closed that. I do not find it
implausible to believe they may be threatened. I am happy to hear that
this was not your intention."

((OOC: Under the English common law regarding inchoate offenses, you
are not guilty for a crime you could not possibly commit, even if you
believed you were making a genuine attempt. Taaffe [1983] 2 All ER 625,
Houghton v Smith [1975] AC 476. There is a basis for what Akane is
saying.))


Storyteller

A slowly loudening sound that had been barely noticable for a while
suddenly jumped up in volume, vibrating furniture, walls and people
alike. For a brief, utterly disconcerting moment the world seemed
to flow fluidly, oozing out of reality before snapping sharply back into place.

The effect was so unnerving that it might have had "Copyright Gustafssen" written all over it...


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh snorted and contrived to indicate that he hadn't just been falling
asleep, completely oblivious to the noodles stuck to his face from the
counter he'd been resting his head on.

"I'll just ... I'll just go and see what that was. You all seem to have
everything perfectly under control here. Yes. I'll ... go."

And he left with calm and quiet dignity tailing across the floor in
ruin. Although not before the look of abject relief crossed his face

Outside, he headed for Gustaffsons lab, on the basis that whatever the
bonkers scientist was up to, it was guaranteed to be interesting. The
noodles fell unheeded to the floor behind him.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

Deeply involved in the discussion Nyano barely noticed the strangeness that happened around him.

He quickly registered to him that Hugh was dealing with it, so continued on with his train of thought.

"You can't swear the entire kitchens to secrecy! They're servants: they
gossip! By now the entire castle knows that I've clapped him in chains
and taken him to the dungeon.

If we claim that I killed him out of hand, people will think that we're
stupid for not questioning him properly, and cruel for not having a
proper trial. They'll want to see him cross examined in front of them,
or at least to think that they had the opportunity. If we claim he was
killed, they'll want to see the body.

He claimed to all four of us that he had no compunctions about doing
what he was asked to. As far as everyone but we four and Gustaffsen
know, he successfully poisoned everybody, and house Honeysuckle saved
them. That's a good position, there's no good reason to throw it away.

The most important thing is we don't have the authority to decide what to do with him. That's duchess Regara's privilege.

I still don't think that there is much chance that his family had any
freedom to start with. They're clearly serfs. You've spent so much time
with humans that you've forgotten how things work amongst your own
people.

Even if their lord has abandoned them, they've never had to fend for
themselves, they don't know how. For their last 10,000 lifetimes
they've been having nobles around to tell them what to do and look
after them in difficult times.

You can't expect them to look after themselves. If ask them to join
house Honeysuckle, whose duchess is about to marry a prince of house
Poppy, I can guarantee that one of them will consider accepting, at
least two will dither, one will run off into the wilds and one will
dedicate her life to destroying everything that is dear to the people
that killed her father. We're faeries, our passions run high and none
of us can resist a good story.

You're going to tear that family apart. I'm offering to keep them all
together and in the style they are accustomed to, working my land as my
serfs. I'll look after them, make sure they're fed and clothed and that
they're happy. Most importantly, I'll make sure that they don't have to
make any difficult or painful decisions for themselves. That's what
being a noble IS!"

Nyano turns to Abel.
"You think I'm right, don't you?"

((OOC: I'm 100% certain that english common law doesn't apply to
Faerie, even suggesting it is Banal. English law is the most Banal
thing I can think off. Faerie law is supposed to be potentially unjust.
You can't have good stories and pathos without injustice, and every Fae
has an Unseelie side.))


Storyteller

OC: Right, there's been far too much OC shit kicking
off about this thread, sufficient that right now I'm not sure I can
post as Abel without risking offending people OC. That's no way
to run a game, so this thread is on hold until this is all sorted.
What happens IC, stays IC. Just because your characters are
arguing with each other, that doesn't mean any of it should spill out
into OC.
In particular, the OC justifications / rants at the end of posts need
to stop, both of you. They're causing problems, and they
shouldn't be. If your character wants to justify themselves, say
it IC. Otherwise, there's no need to say it. If either of
you have OC problems with the other's character or playing style, talk
to me about it first.
Rant over.


Storyteller

"I agree that the man and his family should be in the service of
somebody," said Abel. "Whatever the circumstances of their
present Lord, or potentially former Lord, they don't seem to be
surviving very well being 'free'. But quite honestly, whether
they serve the Poppies of the Honeysuckles, I don't much care.

"The most important thing is that we deal with the rumours, for they
are a more powerful force than we. House Poppy must come across
strongly - I dare say that, by providing the 'antidote', House
Honeysuckle already has. Whether that be by being seen to convict
this man, or by bringing this 'Indigo' to justice, or both, we must do
so quickly or face the whole of Fairyland believing us to be more
impotent than we really are."


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"We have him here in prison. I think we should go and explain the
situation to the Duchess now. If she decides to try him, we can do it
immediatly."


Akane

Akane sighed. "His name is Albert, Nyano. If you're going to take his
life away for a crime he could not physically have committed, at least
do him the courtesy of calling him by name. You go talk to your
Duchess. I'll wake up the prisoner, and I'd like to speak to him for a
moment. I won't do anything rash - Abel, you can come in with me if you
don't trust me alone with him. He deserves to know, at least. We can
discuss his family later - I wasn't suggesting they not have a lord to
look after them, simply that I feel being indentured is a brutal course
to take," she finished, and handed the keys to the handcuffs around her
neck to Abel.


Nyano-Sgiathatch

"I keep saying that I'm going to try and talk the duchess out of
carrying out the sentence, and commuting it to servitude." Nyano says
as he leaves.


Storyteller

OC: Nyano, you have a new thread. Akane, gogogogo!


Akane

Yet another MSN-post. Eedjit Akane and her overblown sense of compassion and responsibility.... Hehehe.

As Nyano left the room, Akane closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead.
This probably wasn't going to turn out good either way... "Albert, wake
up."

Albert stirred almost trance-like into consciousness, the hypnotism still having a profound affect on him.

Akane shook Albert gently. "Hey, snap out of it. I... Nyano has gone to
talk to the Duchess about you. He's hoping to get your sentence
commuted..."

"Good..." murmured the faun, still with his eyes closed and apparently also with his brain unwired. "What... happened...?"

"Nyano wants to move your family to his estates. If everything goes
well, you too. I'm just worried...Regara's known for her temper. The
thing is, well, it's not going to be new to you that people get used as
pawns all the time, from the smallest to the mightiest. I wanted to
offer you a choice. If you want...I'll fight for your family to come to
the Honeysuckle estates instead."

"Which Lord we serve is... your business, not mine. I only want... us... to survive."

"I'm asking you because I thought you had the right to a choice.
Honeysuckle treats its people well. Nyano wants to indenture your
family so that...you don't try for revenge. I guess it doesn't seem
fair to me that your family suffer for a choice you alone made...and it
doesn't seem fair that, if Nyano doesn't convince Regara, you...don't
see it coming."

"Then I suppose... I will choose... House Honeysuckle. You seem... a good person, while... this Regara sounds scary."

Akane nodded. "I promise, I'll take care of them. Hopefully you too. My
Duchess and Regara's son are to be married - hopefully she can be
convinced to entrust you to Honeysuckle custody. We lost a lot in the
war too. There's many lands without people to tend them, and there's
always work in the hospital. Maybe you'll get to start over."

"I... hope so. But... before I can think of things like
that... I must gather my family. I can't... be safe myself
until they are too."
Akane nodded. "Look, whatever Regara decides about you...I'll find them."

"Thank... you."

"If things go well, we'll go together and bring them to our lands.
If...they don't, where do I find them and what do you want me to tell
them?"

"We live outside a village... What used to be a village, called
Waterford, two days' ride Northwest of here... in Hyacinth
lands. Tell them only that... they must come quickly. I
fear what may happen to them if they are alone for long."

"I'll go tomorrow," she promised.

Abel tapped Akane on the shoulder and whispered in her ear. "I realise
you have not been back in Faerie long," said Abel, "so I am assuming
you are not aware of the progress of the war. Hyacinth land is
somewhat... contested at present."

Akane groaned at Abel's words. "Figures. Would your mother lend me a
few guards? After all, if she wants to take Albert's family into
custody, whether that be Nyano's or mine...then she has to fetch them."

"I suspect, knowing my mother, she would make it a condition of your
obtaining custody that Honeysuckle resources are used to find the
family. If they were to serve a Poppy, she may agree to use Poppy
troops, but bear in mind her decision would be strongly influenced by
that of the head of the military - Nyano."

"I guess Nyano and I will have to come to some kind of understanding
then. At least, if she does agree to commute Albert's sentence, then I
find it unlikely that they'll have a reason to look for revenge," Akane
whispered back to Abel.

"Do you have any idea about where the armies on the lands have been recently?"

"As we have been travelling, I am afraid we have only received the
vaguest of reports. The Hyacinth kingdom is by and large hilly
and wooded, meaning that fighting there is neither quick nor
easy. If the territory is sufficiently important to the Reds'
strategy, fighting may be taking place all over the kingdom for some
time."

"Will they respect Honeysuckle neutrality? Especially given the
Honeysuckle's Duchess is about to be married to a Red Rose ally...?"

"The armies will. If Albert here is representative of the mood of
the peasantry, I think mugging will be the greater danger."

Akane sighed. "Do they mug small foxes sneaking through the woods, and
possibly leading a peasant family with nothing of value back out?"
Akane turned to Albert. "Do you have something of yours, a token that
you could give me? Something that would make your family inclined to
follow a fox for no good reason."

Albert looked heartbroken for a moment; affected greatly by some inner
turmoil. Eventually, he reached into his pocket and produced an ornate
gold pocket watch. "Take this, and find my family," he said.
"But.. please return with both, or else... I will have nothing left."

Akane nodded and covered Albert's hand with hers. "Hopefully as
something that small, I can sneak in and out without being spotted
unless I want to be, and your family will follow me. If somebody tries
to pull something, then..." she fingered the gun under her coat. She
had avoided using it or mentioning it, but as a last resort...it wasn't
cold iron, but it was a good second best.

Albert nodded, saying nothing, his eyes wide and empty.


Storyteller

"Abel!" came a barely muffled shout from downstairs.

Abel looked unsurprised. "That would be my mother," he
said. "No doubt she'll be wanting an explanation of what's been
going on."

Abel smiled and made for the door.


Akane

Akane looked at Abel with the closest she ever came to pleading, and
for a moment the competent PI seemed to melt into the girl she'd been a
century ago: serious, earnest, and (when away from Ilandra) reserved.
"Abel," she said. "I've backed down. I'm not going to try to change the
social structure of Faerie in a day. Maybe in a few centuries," her
answering smile was tentative. "But I made a promise, and I have a
plan. Back me up, please..."


Storyteller

"I'll do my best," said Abel. "Let's go talk to my mother."


Akane

He wants me alo-- Oh. Dear. I feel like I'm being dragged for a scolding again, only Ilandra's noticeably absent, she thought, and straightened her coat, tugged her hat down, and followed Abel.


Storyteller

Upon leaving the room, Abel locked his door on the still-dazed faun,
before he and Akane made their way down to the banquet hall.

OC: Bang! And the scene is goooooone. </obscure>