This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)
From atop the highest tower of Castle Poppy, the bells began to ring to signify the start of the party. They rang out loud and clear, audible to all within the castle grounds - Ilandra in her room, Nyano in the kitchens, the three still dealing with potato fallout, even poor Akane who had barely made it through the front door. Nobles from all over the castle began to make their way toward the central throne room.
As each man, woman and raccoon entered the huge chamber, they were formally announced, and the eyes of those already present flashed towards the door. Subtle music played, and the Poppies and their guests mingled as they were served canapes by all manner of waiters and waitresses.
Eventually, once the doorman was fairly sure that anyone who was going to turn up had already done so, he gave a signal. The Duchess’ advisor stood forward from behind her throne and shared a knowing wink with her. Brushing his long ears away from his face, he drew himself up to his full eight feet of height and marvelled as the crowd rapidly fell silent.
“My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,” he boomed. “Please, be welcome to this magnificent event, in the honour of the long-delayed homecoming of House Poppy!”
The children present, rather caught up in the celebration, cheered and jumped wildly whilst the elder of the assembled faeries for the most part clapped politely.
The advisor continued. “If you would all now please be seated, we are to commence with the feast!”
The air in the room glittered with golden light which clustered together near the floor, slowly but surely forming first the legs and then the top of two vast tables, each the length of the room and with space for over a hundred places. Once the tables had fully appeared, silver flecks danced up from the floors and became the chairs, whilst table decorations materialised with a sequence of comedy popping noises.
Everyone took their seats, and looked around. No-one had expected quite so many guests - except, it seemed, the designers of the magical furniture - and the room was full of conversation.
Suddenly, with two well-timed crashes, the side doors of the room opened and in poured legions of servants, bearing as many kinds of food and drink as one could ever imagine, and then some!Special Notes Gustaffsen: The potatoes seem particularly delicious - and in some cases, almost familiar. In fact, this meal may just be part of your best-tasting army to date! Hugh: Despite being the orchestrator of the culinary excess, you're nevertheless noble and thus would have left the servants to get on with it whilst you join your peers at the table. Akane: Scanning the crowd, you don't notice Ilandra at first - until everyone sits down. Then, she can clearly be seen - at the top table, alongside Cain, Abel and Duchess Regara; wearing tear-stained cheeks and an expansive dress that looked to be made almost entirely of honeysuckle. Nyano: Feel free to insert your own idea of how cute a raccoon trying to eat at a full-size table might be. Cushions, and other people squeeing, may well be involved...
Nyanos eyes go wide at the sight of so much yummy food. His feet start moving before his brains kick in and he rushes over for the nearest seat.
It takes him quite a few seconds to realise that the crowd is parting for him a little quicker than was appropriate for a tiny racoon. Then he notices the Satyr heading for the same seat staring at a point about a foot and half above Nyano’s head in terror.
Realisation brings him to a dead stop, concentrating for a second he converts the massive war spear he carrying into a small boomerang and tucks it into his waistband.
Taking a look back at his intended chair Nyano found it occupied by a redcap who was taking advantage of the confusion to eat the cutlery from the nearby seats.
Having realised that this seat was denyed him a calculating look enters Nyano’s eyes. This is probably the greatest meal ever made in the history of house poppy, that means that the chef was going to be given first pick of the best food. With this in mind Nyano strides off into the crowd in search of a seat near Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Gustaffsen sat at the table happily piling his plate with as much vegetable matter as possible and with a small side plate for the meat the servant kept trying to give him. He was in his best suit, only 5 small char holes and a faint whiff of something alchemical, his hair was its usual massed tangle of shock white strands. To those around him his idle conversation seemed on the crazy side of his normal, and it seemed as if he was only half concentrating on the world about him. Leaning down the table slightly he attempts to attract his old acquaintance Hugh’s attention by taking a clockwork mushroom from his pocket winding it up and sending it walking down the table; Where it poked the chef in the arm before jumping up onto his plate and going for a swim in his personal gravy boat. “Verfluchte feine Vorw‰hler hier, you must allow me to assist you with upgrading the kitchens now we’re back.”
[Private to GM: Okies the more sensible part of Gustaffsen is currently roaming the castle looking for booby traps left over by the retreating enemy, checking on stores of equipment and keeping an eye open for that girl. Oh and the less sensible side is also keeping his eyes open for her too. when he's not scarfing the veg.]
Up at the head table in the banquet room, was a rather flowery Ilandra. Since she’d accepted Duchesshood, she hadn’t quite figured out how to stop the virulent honeysuckle growth, it was getting contagious, she could tell from Regara and Abel’s dirty looks as their arms were beginning to get pinned by stray fronds. Smiling nervously Ilandra apologised, hoping she wouldn’t have to say anything. She looked at Cain who had thus far escaped with minimal flowering, he smiled and squeezed her hand in what she hoped was reassurance.
Great, now all I need is for something to startle me and I’ll kitten up like I used to she thought to herself, beginning to blush as she remembered all the parties she’d been at where people had insisted upon startling her.
Turning to Abel she decided she had to ask how to make the flowers stop growing, if anything they were beginning to irritate her. But at that point the waiters arrived and as if by magic the honeysuckles were beginning to lose their grip.
Ah, it’s cos I got distracted… cool. Oh, wait, I have to demand food now don’t I?
“hey! don’t just go! i want food too!” she tried to call out but all she could manage was a feeble quiet voice. Luckily, Cain was there to help her out.
wow, he’ll make an awesome Duke, I’m so lucky
The waiter returned and Ilandra’s plate was piled up. It was only as he was leaving that she realized she actually had no appetite.
She resumed smiling feebly at people, this time playing with the food in such a way it looked like she was eating it.
Akane stared at Ilandra. She had expected her cousin to grow, obviously, but the sight of it was another thing entirely; and if she had doubted that the girl was Duchess Honeysuckle now, the trailing flowers would have certainly convinced her. However, her reaction to crowds didn’t appear to have changed much. Mentally, she weighed the possibility of disrupting the dinner against giving Ilandra another friendly face at her side, and made up her mind immediately. Ilandra comes first, and I can eat later.
Ignoring the stares around her and the delicious-looking food in front of her, she moved out of her chair and headed to the high table.
Ilandra looked up from her plate to smile feebly at Cain when a familiar figure appeared in the corner of her vision. Could it be…? But wasn’t she supposed to be banal? Huh?
As the figure drew closer to the table, realisation dawned upon Ilandra and then poof she kittened up, causing panic at the table. From the chair she had a terrible view of what was going on, but the embarrasment would have the better of her for at least five minutes, casting a cursory glance to make sure she’d kept her dress she jumped across and commenced her climbing of the tablecloth.
Upon seeing her scrambling for purchase on the tablecloth, Cain decided to give her a hand, remembering Ilandra’s weakness for large social events.
As if out of nowhere a giant hand picked her up, causing her to mewl pitifully in kitten-panic. It was only when the other hand scritched her behind the ears that she realized who it was.
ok, now put me on the table without snuggling… c’mon
As if he knew what she wanted, the giant hand put her down next to her plate. Ilandra looked up, but her cousin was still obscured, this time by a ginormous plate of food that she hadn’t managed to smuggle onto Regara’s plate.
awww, nertz Ilandra started to climb over the food as Akane drew closer.
Akane watched Ilandra vanish from her seat in amusement, realising what must have happened. Oops…she’s still doing that… she thought as she reached the table and spotted the tiny kitten navigating over the plates, remembering the times when Ilandra had warrented being picked up by the scruff of her neck…and the more frequent occasions involving herself as a fox and Ilandra as a cat running as fast as their paws could carry them to avoid being caught red-handed at some prank or other.
However, this was not one of those times, so she picked up the tabby in a more dignified manner and cuddled it in a happy hug. “I take it I’ve been missed, then,” she grinned down at the wide eyes. “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” she added, although she figured nobody would get the reference.
Purring happily Ilandra allowed the hug to continue, having become as comfortable with her situation as would be necessary in order to morph back. Resolving to resize or morph back as soon as she was put back down, Ilandra tried to dig her teeny little month-old-kitten claws in. stupid reflex, oh well at least people won’t shout at me
“Hey!” Akane yipped, fox-like, as she felt teeny claws scrabbling at her skin. “You could’ve just squirmed!” she muttered quietly to Ilandra as she let her down. “I take it you’re okay to change back?” There was no need to repeat what had happened at that birthday banquet a few years before her departure…
During his search for the chef, Nyano sees the only thing in the room more adorable than him and rushes over his eyes huge with wonder.
“aww itsocute! Wheredidyougetit? Can I hold it? PLEASE???”
Ilandra-kitty nodded and jumped off the table to at least morph back with some dignity underneath it. A second or two later she reemerged.
“oh my god akane! we have so much gossip to catch up on! ok, so you don’t have to find out later, i’m gonna have to tell you now “but first, you remember Abel, and Cain… he’s not as shy anymore… oh and sorry if you bloom…” she indicated the honeysuckles growing up Akane’s clothing. “Anyway, come closer” “ Ilandra leaned towards her cousin and it felt like old times again, she could still remember when they’d painted some girl’s room lurid green cos she’d had the cheek of flirting with lysander. She whispered in Akane’s ear “me and Cain finally got together… long story short, i finally got the hang of fuddling…” she drew back to see the surprise set in.
Nyano looks confused as the kitten escapes under the tablecloth and the noble comes out.
The two ladies seem to be ignoring him, so he decides to go in search of the kitten. Two flicks of his tail later he’s climbed under the high table and started crawling around in search of the poor lost kitten.
After a minute of searching he discovers a lack of kitten, he does however find something familiar, and climbs up onto Duchess Regara’s lap. His eyes look up into hers brimming with enthusiasm.
“Feed me…” he whimpers in mock patheticness.
Akane blinked at the raccoon. More nobles going into animal shape? she wondered. As it ran off, she called after it, “I didn’t get the kitten anywhere and she certainly doesn’t belong to me - she’s my cousin and my Duchess,” she finished as the Duchess, now in girl form again, emerged from under the table.
When Ilandra’s rapid-fire speech finished and the news sunk into Akane’s brain, she grinned broadly. “Oh, wow, that’s wonderful! And it’s about time, considering how you were mooning about him,” she finished the sentence in a whisper. “Now will you two please get as many heirs between me and the throne as you possibly can?” she winked as she finished whispering.
“Which reminds me,” she added, and dropped to one knee. “Before all the witnesses gathered here, as Akane of the Kami and the House of Honeysuckle, I offer my fealty to Ilandra and affirm her as Duchess Honeysuckle.”
((OOC: Sorry, Racheet, didn’t see your post.))
Glaring at Akane as her skin turned bright crimson, Ilandra could not stop herself shrieking “AS MANY HEIRS!!! JESUS H. CHRIST!!! I ONLY JUST WORKED UP THE COURAGE TO SAY HELLO LAST WEEK!!!”
Upon finishing the outburst she realized just how many people were paying attention to her, smiled weakly and tried not to explode into a ball of fur, but it was too late. The embarrassment had set in, there was no other course of action than turn back into a cat and find refuge for the next few minutes…
kitten-formed ilandra ran for the safety of cain’s pockets as Regara’s temper rose… oh i’m in trouble now! but after akane…
StorytellerOC: Jesus Christ, people. I can't even order pizza without 3 new posts =S
Regara looked down at the suddenly-appearing bundle of cute in her lap, and stroked its head before grabbing a chicken drumstick for him. Almost as soon as Nyano had the meat in his paws, however, a succession of loud expletives from the Duchess’ left caused her to jump half out of her seat, sending the raccoon - still with food in his paws - spiralling up from her lap and landing squarely in a bowl of soup.
Nyano looked up from his tomatoey resting place just in time to see the same kitten, reappeared from God-knows-where, launch itself from Ilandra’s vacant seat and into the pocket of Cain’s tuxedo.
To his right, Regara’s face was going the colour of her now tomato-stained dress…
Akane smirked in the direction of Cain’s pockets and called out in reply, “What, do you really want me as your heir? Because I don’t want to be! I’m asking you as your cousin and your friend to save me from this fate!” she retorted, pulling the front of her hat down.
Ignoring the shouting he doesn’t understand, Nyano jumps from his bowl of soup into Cains lap. Incedentally turning parts of the tuxedo a shade of red that closely matched the colour of the duchess cheeks.
“Is the kitten yours?” He asks Cain, gesturing towards the pocket with the partially nibbled drumstick.
“Does it have a name?”
Just like old times, Akane thought to herself as Cain’s pocket stayed stubbornly silent. She took a deep breath and shifted, feeling the clothes stay with her as her shape immediately resolved into that of a small red fox. She trotted under the table towards Cain’s pocket and sniffed at it, yipping. “I told you, the kitten is my cousin,” she yipped at the inquisitive raccoon.
She poked her black nose into the pocket and it promptly bumped into Ilandra’s pink one. “You going to stay in there forever, my liege?” she asked, teasing.
((OOC: We have nothing better to do than posting! :P))
Nyano is so surprised at the arrival of the fox that he barely remembers to eat his drumstick.
“The kitten is your cousin? Where’s it’s mother?”
Turning to Cain, his eyes innocent he asks, “It looks very young, are you taking care of it for her? I never saw you as the motherly type before…”
It is a good few seconds of blank staring later before Cain finally takes stock of the craziness and takes charge of his own voice-box.
“It’s… She’s… Not all that young, really. I think she’s just a kitten when she’s nervous. It’s, erm, probably not a motherly thing either…”
Cain gave Nyano an embarassed look, then turned to face down into his pocket.
“…Ilandra?” he whispered.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Duchess’ slowly increasing wrath, Abel upped his amusement several notches, settling out around ‘hysterical laughter’.
A slightly crumpled Ilandra poked her head out of Cain’s pocket, making sure that she didn’t poke her head out too much.
She stuck her tongue out at Akane “least you’ll get in trouble first!”
“oh, ok then” Nyano replies as if that answer made sense to him.
He turns to the Fox and pulls himself up to his full height, accidentally rubbing his tail along Cain’s nose in the process.
“Hello, I’m Nyano-Sgiathatch, head pathfinder of house Poppy, and I am pleased to make your aquaintance.” He says in a rehearsed manner.
Having finished his speech he looks down at the fox curiously. “How does a fox have a kitten as a cousin?” he asks.
Akane grinned at Ilandra, “She can’t discipline you, you know…you’re Duchess of your own House now, which means that doing so might be considered insulting towards House Honeysuckle as a whole. All two of us!” she laughed.
She then turned to Nyano and responded, “I am Akane of House Honeysuckle. Technically the heir, I suppose, much as I’d prefer not to be. And a detective. And the kitten is my cousin because, well, we’re of the same House,” Akane replied to the raccoon. “And most of the time we both look like women. I just happen to be a kitsune whereas she’s a catgirl.”
Ilandra jumped out of Cain’s pocket and landed, semi-expertly on his napkin. (by semi-expertly i mean face first)
“I might not get disciplined, but you might… and you!” she turned on Cain “I am too young! Meanie! You’re just jealous cos you’ve got to wear a different coat”
Ilandra looked around, hoping Regara hadn’t cottoned on to anything so far, in Ilandra’s mind Regara wasn’t well known for her speed. Unfortunately she had turned a nasty shade of red, the exact same colour that always came before a chase. Ilandra swallowed and looked at her cousin.
“erm, Akane, I haven’t seen Regara that colour since we repainted that room… and then we were forced to run back to our own land…”
This obviously perplexes the raccoon. He furrows his brows and asks “So if you’re a fox and a woman, and she’s a kitten and a woman, was your mother a fox and woman too? and your father? That must have been odd for him.”
He thinks for another second “I think I prefer being a raccoon, it’s probably much easier that way.”
He idly eats the rest of the drumstick as he watches the kitten curiously. “Are you really a duchess? Isn’t that hard if you spend a lot of time as a kitten? How do find space in your stomach for the chocolate you have to eat?”
“I’m sorry, Ilandra,” Cain said. “I didn’t mean that you were old, just that…”
Cain muttered off into silence as he noticed that most of the banqueteers were now staring up at the top table, some paused with forkfuls of food half way to their mouths.
“This isn’t right! You’re in charge of me, you’re my Duchess!” Akane wailed. “Come on!” She slinked under the table and began to make her way towards the door as discreetly as possible. A century being a Serious Grown-Up in Mundania, and half an hour of Ilandra makes me act like an adolescent again… she groaned mentally as she ran.
Seeing her cousin’s reaction, Ilandra gauged the possibilities and calling a quick apology to Cain she ran after her cousin.
“hey akane, wait for me!!! it’s so unfair you always run faster!!! i hope you have cake!!!”
“Become a bigger cat next time!” Akane called as she ran. “Let’s get back to Honeysuckle, shall we?” she grinned, snatching up her bag in her jaws as she passed her empty seat and kept heading out…
“good plan!” Ilandra called and resized to adult size. much better, but she still runs faster
ilandra made for the door, trailing honeysuckles everywhere her paws touched
Nyano turns to call to the escaping felines, but as he does so he finally catches a glimpse of Duchess Regara’s expression.
Squeaking in fear he fights his instinct to hide behind Cain. He’s never seen Regara this angry, but he pulls out every drop courage he has and steps out infront of the angry woman.
He turns to look at her, his fur standing on end in fear and manages to blurt out “She’s only a kitten, don’t be angry at her.”
Regara stopped, half out of her chair and half turned towards the door, and dropped her baleful glare towards the floor. Nyano stood between the Duchess and her rapidly retreating targets, looking straight back at the towering human-shape.Nyano rolls to pacify Regara. Charisma (6) + Empathy (2) = 8, plus specialisation (Cute) Difficulty: 8 Result: 2 successes!
Regara let out the briefest hint of a snarl, blinked a few times as she looked Nyano in the eyes, then slumped.
“I couldn’t…” she muttered to herself. “So cute…”
Akane realised she could no longer hear the heavy stomping of Regara’s pursuit. “She let us go! …AlthoughI wouldn’t recommend going back in there. Still, remind me to thank whoever stopped her…”
Ilandra noticed the lack of an outburst from Regara. “Hold on Akane, I think something happened, she’s not trying to kill us.”
She stopped and turned back to double check that this wasn’t some evil trick. It didn’t appear to be. She allowed herself the time to hide under a tablecloth and turned back to faerie form. the view might be better from up there and i can still outrun her
Buoyed by his success with Regara, Nyano turns around to the rest of the hall and despite the fact that he’s still shaking puts on his biggest smile.
“What’re you all looking at me for? This is a party! We’re finally home!”
Then in a high and squeeky voice, he starts to sing “Show me the way to go home”
He starts to mime staggering when he gets to the bit about having a little drink an hour ago, and overly enthusiastic about his performance he accidentally falls back into the soup.
The audience looked a mixture of stunned and confused at what had just happened, further exacerbated by the fact only about a tenth of them could see what was going on in the first place. Still, the sight of Regara’s deflation stunned enough of them into silence that they could hear what came next.
Up piped a sqeaky voice, out of tune but determined, singing a song that any faerie that’d been to the human world - and a few more besides
- knew well.
A few of the partygoers take up the tune nervously at first, but the momentum builds unstoppably. By the second chorus, everyone is singing their hearts out and Nyano’s own voice is all but lost in the maelstrom of near-tuneless noise.
By the time the song should long have ended, men and women are dancing on tables, quite forgetting the food that was once upon them, drinking and singing and laughing as if there were no tomorrow!
Akane turned to Ilandra, stunned, as the singing reached its peak. “Uhh, I think it’s safe to go in… Although I must admit, that was funny. I haven’t done that in a while. I’m sorry you thought I was dead, Cousin,” she said, sheepishly. “If I ever go away again - which won’t be anytime soon - I promise to visit more often. Now, maybe we should go check on your Cain and make sure he hasn’t fainted of embarassment?”
“just so you know, i’d like you to be maid of honour” Ilandra said matter of factly. “besides, we have to try and look as innocent now as possible so she’ll not only forgive us but also so he won’t want to pull out of the relationship, our house needs more members and i need to find my brother soon”
they walked back, with Ilandra trying to look as innocent as possible.
Akane couldn’t help but stop in her tracks. “You’re going to…look for Lysander? He could be anywhere, a baby, a human…he could be one of the White Roses now for all you know.” Her voice cracked. “Do you think…that we’ll find him?” She shook her head and tried to snap out of it. Stop it, you idiot. There isn’t a chance… “I’d love to be your made of honour,” she smiled. “And I’ll put on my most innocent face to make sure I get that opportunity,” she continued, catching up to her cousin.
“wherever he is, i’ll be able to find him. i need a duke to guard the fort if you wanna come along, failing that grizzel will be able to keep anything malicious out… i don’t know if he is here now, but if you like i could check… i still have the strand of association to him” Ilandra looked at her cousin. “i hate to admit it but i’m going to need help”
They were nearing the table where Cain was singing loudly.
“At least he isn’t missing us too much.” Ilandra chuckled, still maintaining the innocent facade.
“Of course I’ll help!” Akane responded immediately, without pausing to think. What am I doing? It’s a wild goose chase. He might be anyone. But…if she’s still connected to him, then obviously he’s not done being Lysander yet… “You might as well check. It couldn’t hurt, and it might give us some idea where to start.”
As they neared the high table, she began to discern individual voices amidst the singing “He certainly can sing. Guess you’ll have no trouble listening to that voice for the rest of your life!” she said quietly out of the corner of her mouth, whilst maintaining her innocent expression. “Nice going, Cousin!”
“well, if you need a date for the wedding I have it on good authority that Abel is single. He’s a lot like Lysander used to be…” Ilandra said. “Not that I want you to date or anything, but if you need someone to sit with he’s cool.”
Akane smiled. “I I remember him, although it was always Cain you wanted to discuss.” And always Lysander I was looking at, she added mentally. “I’ll keep that in mind , though - I don’t think I’m looking to date when I just got home and have no idea what’s happened these last couple of years, but someone to sit with is always good.” She looked around the celebration. “It looks like they’ve knocked over my chair - they’d seated me over there,” she indicated with a nod of her head, “I can stay with you if you like, or go rescue my seat and leave you time alone with Cain.”
“Oh, please stay here.” Ilandra begged. She indicated a space next to her chair where the honeysuckle plants had formed quite a sturdy looking chair. “I think i figrued out how to make them grow into shapes now… C’mon, let’s join the celebrations, and besides, you need to be made into a princess…”
“A what?” Akane glared as she seated herself on the chair of flowers. It was very comfortable. “I’ll accept the title if you insist, but you’d better make sure it stays Princess, because being forced into Duchessing if you get bored of signing papers really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. After all, you know I can’t stand tea…”
The party continued unabated, with dinner descending into song, and on into drunken excess. So preoccupied were the patrons with their own indulgence that barely a single one of them noticed the double doors at the end of the room open slowly and silently.
The doorman, who’d long since given up being prepared for any more guests, stood up unsteadily from the end of the table where he had been drinking copiously. He stood as best he could by the door, and announced:
The doorman stopped, confused, and looked the new guest in the eyes. She looked back, and the doorman gave a little yelp and scuttled back to his table.
“Lady Elaine of the Black Rose Committee,” the guest said herself.
The entire hall fell silent, and all eyes turned to the entrance.
The previously silhouetted figure stepped forwards, revealing a dainty black and purple lace dress, its elegance completely in contrast to the militant way in which she held her parasol over one shoulder. Her violet gaze swept the room, ensuring she had the undivided attention of everyone present, before she began her slow walk down the steps, across a rapidly-cleared path between the two long tables, and up to the slightly raised platform on which the top table sat.
She stood still for a moment, her gaze again passing across those in front of her - Cain, Regara, Abel, Ilandra and Akane. Elaine bobbed brief curtseys to Regara - who nodded in return - and Ilandra, before standing to one side so as to face both the top table and the rest of the hall at once.
“House Poppy, House Honeysuckle, honoured guests. My name is Elaine; I represent the Black Rose Committee.” She left a second’s pause for the introduction to sink in. “No, you have not heard of us before. But, if I may, I would speak to you all this evening.”OC: Just a brief gap here in case anybody wants to do anything at this point. If not, she'll continue.
Elaine nodded briefly to Gustaffsen as she saw him sneak in through a side door of the room, and quietly make his way over to… Gustaffsen? Without letting her gaze flicker, she made a mental note to investigate that at some point.
She returned to gazing out into the room at large, and continued.
“The purpose of the Black Rose Committee is a simple one. We are here to stop this war, using any means necessary.”
A dramatic pause, to let it sink in.
“Due to the… nature of our kind, our wars will never be brief, will never minimise heartache. Our mission, as the Black Rose Committee, is to stop this war by use of any and all methods that we have at our disposal. We are unfettered by allegiances, nor by morals.
“Lords and Ladies, we live in a land of dreams, but it is also a land of nightmares. Wives have lost their husbands, children have lost their parents, nobles have lost their servants.
“It’s time we ended this.
“House Poppy, you have lost many of your knights and your fighting men. You are in no condition to contribute to this war. I ask that you formally reject your alliance with the Red Roses and become neutral, as many have already done. Instead of the Reds’ half-hearted allusions to caring about you, I offer you the full protection of the Committee. Under our protection, you will not be bothered by either side, and you will be helping to end this war.”
Elaine’s voice had been steadily growing louder, and by that point it had a certain resounding Beer-Hall Putsch quality to it.
“Each of you, think about what you have lost. Think about what life was like before our land was plunged into turmoil. Then, can any of you honestly say you don’t want this to be over?
“We are the solution, and we will end this war!”OC: Reactions please, if you have any other than rapt attention =p
Nyano looks up to the Duchess Regara to see if he is allowed to speak. When she answers him with a barely perceptable nod, he steps forward to address the visitor.
“My father always told me that symbols are important in the dreaming, that they have a power all of their own. You say you want peace, so why would you pick a symbol of death and bedlam like the black rose?”
He scratches his nose in confusion. “Marching anywhere under that banner is going to bring you bad luck, and worse friends!”
“My dear sir,” Elaine said, looking down the line of her nose at the raccoon, “I would most certainly not say the rose, black or otherwise, is a symbol of bedlam. Rather, it is generally seen as one of the more serene flowers - only those that now battle over our land bring it into disrepute.
“As for death, maybe so. We are to be the death of this war, the antithesis of the Reds’ and the Whites’ colourful rivalry.
“Furthermore, as to bad luck and worse friends, maybe you have been out of touch with politics for too long. Two dozen Houses and more have already declared themselves opposed to the war. Our movement is nothing short of a revolution that is sweeping all of Faerie!”
Nyano thinks for a second before he replies.
“Two dozen houses isn’t a revolution, it’s more of a small rotation. Unless of course these are important houses, but I think if they were important houses you’d already have told us who they are.”
Then he looks directly into Elaine’s eyes.
“Why are you so ashamed of your allies that you’d choose to give us the name of the black rose instead of theirs?”
Gustafssen nodded to himself as he approached and waved happily in response to himself before sitting down with himself at the table. The newly arrived Gustafssen picked absentmindedly at the remaining food on the plate before himself, which the other Gustafssen had been guarding from stray feet as people danced about him; whilst joining in merrily with the singing and occasionally badly playing a accompaniment on his horseradish flute.
Then suddenly as if by Science there was only the one Gustafssen at the table who appeared in deep thought and was making notes on his ever present note book.
Ilandra looked at Cain, who was sitting next to her looking amused. She smiled, knowing he wasn’t getting bothered by this new… being.
“hey, it’s a good thing my house is famously neutral, huh? otherwise our wedding could be made… interesting by this woman…” she whispered across to him, taking his hand and entwining her fingers in his for reassurance. even if she does decide that I need to go to her side, i don’t want to risk losing him… I hope he doesn’t think I’m a wuss… oh and she’d better not upset him or so help me god i’ll make sure she rues the day she crossed me
Cain looked at her and gave her a knowing wink before allowing his face to fall into the grin he kept just for when they were causing mischief together.
Though Elaine’s attention focussed entirely on Nyano, she nevertheless spoke so that the entire room could hear.
“You are entirely missing the point. They are not our allies, we are not some third side in this war. We merely offer them our protection in exchange for their inaction. If you would like to know the names of these houses, then out of respect for them and for those present, I will tell you in private. Alternatively, you could merely talk to anyone with knowledge of current events - there is much ongoing dissent about this war, and rest assured that the majority of it is of our doing!”
In the near enough silence of the room a snort of laughter erupted from Ilandra, it wasn’t that she’d been listening, cos she hadn’t… let’s be honest here, so long as Cain wasn’t getting upset she didn’t particularly care about the politics… that’s what Dukes are for and old people. But the relief that after this tedious wretch (as far as Ilandra could see Elaine was just trying to party-poop) was gone she would probably get to dance and have fun again… especially now she had one of her greatest allies back.
she kinda reminds me of the old school master, he was funny, especially when Lysander dumped custard on him
By her side, she noticed Cain sniggering a bit as though her laugh was understood.
Hearing Ilandra’s laugh, Elaine turned to face her and took two paces forward, putting herself halfway between Ilandra and Nyano.
“Ah, the new Duchess Honeysuckle. Ilandra.”
Ilandra raised an eyebrow.
“My, news travels fast, doesn’t it? Yes, the wondrous House Honeysuckle, sanctuary for every soldier, regardless of their allegiance. You take in the wounded, make them comfortable, restore them to health, send them back into the world… to kill and maim their enemies once again. For all that you think you are doing good, it is your house more than any other that is fuelling this nightmare!”
Ilandra could see where this was going…
“what?! excuuuuse me! someone’s deluded here, we don’t encourage them to fight again and we certainly won’t stop. Our medics have been curing faeries for millennia and we’re not going to let some idiot squabble stop us. Sure, ok, so the war wiped most of us out in the first swathe while we were picking troops up from the battlefields… but it hasn’t stopped us. I’m sure you’ll have had at least one family member in the past, present or future stop by our high-glamour wing or even our day surgery. And it’s not even like our nobles have ever believed themselves above nursing duty. To tell us to butt out of your little squabble is like to tell every midwife not to send the difficult births our way. Well hey, look,if that’s they way you wanna play it, I’ll close the doors of our hospital to all that affiliate with such a stupid person that would deny healthcare to those that truly need it. Though I’d rather not, it might affect our neutrality. After all, discrimination is such a nasty word.” She was quite proud of how she’d managed to put menace into that last sentence, it’s not that she was malicious but the threat of withdrawing the free healthcare would at least put the fear of banality into most midwives.
Ilandra flicked her curls over her shoulder in an affected way and inspected her nails, the way a cat would after eating a mouse. She calculated it, the fool would see sense here. It wouldn’t be too hard to see.
now to hope Cain and Akane stay on my side
With the attention taken off him for a second, Nyano scampers over to Regara’s side and speaks softly with her.
[Private to GM: "If they're not planning on defending us with the forces of the other people who've left the war, whose forces are they using?
No one good I’ll bet, I don’t like her attitute. She didn’t say a single thing of substance in her whole speech. She didn’t tell us one single thing about her or her troops. She didn’t even say which house she’s from originally. I bet her support arn’t even fae. They’re probably something much nastier.
She’s asking us to abandon our ancient allies, that have fought and died to reclaim our land, and she claims not to have the military strength of any fae house behind her. I don’t like, I don’t like it at all.”
Nyano puts his hands on his hips in consternation “And she looked down her nose at me! Nobody who was nice would have done that.”</font>]
“Well now,” Elaine said. “There’s no need to be quite so defensive.
“Firstly, it seems you do not understand the soldiers you treat at all. You don’t encourage them to fight? Of course, that’s hardly what one goes to hospital for. My dear, soldiers fight for love, or loyalty, or honour, or money, and no stay in hospital can remove those. Particularly once they realise the substantially reduced risk of death that you are offering them.
“And a ‘withdrawal of free healthcare’? My, with that being the situation, people might have to rely on themselves and their own Houses rather than trusting their livelihoods to a House that might suddenly decide to get political. Wouldn’t that be a shame?”
“I’ll have you know that the only politics I would have liked to get myself involved in concern about 5 people. If you so wish to close down my hospital so be it. The patients within will be released within the day and the doors will close. As to what will happen to the medics, I suppose they’ll have to go back to their old houses… assuming that they’ll be welcomed back. House honeysuckle is perhaps the last place you’ll still find a red rose work together with a white rose, do you wish to allow all my medics to be brutally slaughtered just because you selfishly want me to join in your foolish idea of fairness? If it was down to stopping the fighting we could perhaps include a reeducation program and while we’re at it explain to the two foolish brothers having their squabble what a true king is and does.” Ilandra stood. “The next king of Faerie will have a lot upon his plate, he’ll have to restore order to this place not to mention peace. If he can’t even run his own temper, how is he expected to run faerie? And if you expect to magically find someone to run this place tthen good luck! It’s not like you can pull someone out of a hat and expect them to have all the qualities necessary to keep this place in order.” She paused, and turned to Regara. “The idea behind this organisation seems sound, but with such a sinister name, I’m not sure they really are working for the common good like they profess.” She wheeled round to face Elaine, “Why this one seems verging on the unseelie, she doesn’t care that our house could never turn its back on people who need medical help, no matter what the ruler believes. I will always keep my hospital running and it will always welcome people, no matter what I pledge. That is the way it has been for millennia and that is the way it shall be now. This little raccoon was right, with a name like yours nothing good can be expected.”
Ilandra allowed the tendrils of honeysuckle to calm a little bit, after all, she didn’t want them to be misinterpreted and they were snaking towards Elaine in quite a sinister fashion.
“You are so shallow that your judgement would be swayed if my organisation were called the Fluffy Bunny Brigade? Pah, I am tired of this. House Honeysuckle might as well do whatever it likes; it has such little significance to the balance of power.”
Elaine turned to address the room as a whole. “Is there a rational thinker in here I could talk to?”
[Private to Nyano-Sgiathatch: "Not that I'm saying you're wrong, Nyano," the Duchess replied, "but consider this. Everyone knows our military strength is non-existent. We survive mostly because we are a convenient buffer for the Reds - neither side would think twice about fighting over our land again. We are already a non-entity in the war, which means that all this lady is offering is protection, in exchange for us doing nothing."]
“my judgment was only swayed by the fact that you wanted my hospital closed. And if you do have honourable and good allies then surely everyone would try and join…”
[Private to GM: "Who's protection is she offering? and what happens to us if she fails and becomes a laughingstock?
Will our allies be happy at losing friends and relatives over our lands, only for us to be ungrateful?
Most importantly, when she sends troops to “protect” our lands, are they going to give them back afterwards? You can’t allow an unknown military force into our lands when we have absolutly no political pull on their leaders at all. Besides we’d be making enemies of the reds if we did this. What if father’s been rescued by them, what would they do to him?
The reds arn’t going to see this as a move to end the war, they’ll think of it as another front opening up. When that happens both sides are going to attack our lands, and this woman is going to have to send troops to protect it. I don’t trust her, and I don’t trust her troops. At least the reds have treaties and tradition to keep them from ravaging our lands or taking them whole, this woman claims to have given up morality. I bet that once she’s screwed us over and we complain, she’ll turn around and say ‘Well I told you I was evil.’ “</font>]
Nyano continues to talk urgently with Regara.
Ilandra looks down for a minute, and to anyone paying attention, she seems to… fade, slightly. Raising her head again, she looks straight at Elaine with eyes that appear to have faded as well…Ilandra rolls to do the crazy Vodacce Fate Witch thing! Rolling (Charisma) 3 + (Hearth Wisdom) 2 Plus 2 temporary glamour points (2 auto-successes) Difficulty: 7 4 successes + 2 auto-successes = 6 total! Christ's kebabs.
[Private to Ilandra: As your vision adjusts itself to the strange faded world in which the strings of fate shine, you notice a somewhat unusual effect around Elaine. Threads connecting her to others in the room appear purple flecked with silver - they reach out to three or four nobles in the audience, none of whom you immediately recognise. Two further threads join her to you and to Nyano, each speckled red with faint traces of hostility. The final thread that joins her to a person in the room is one connecting her, albeit faintly, to Regara. It looks almost friendly. There is no reciprocating line, however, suggesting Regara has probably never met Elaine before.
The unusual effect, however, is something that you might almost think to be a meta-thread. It is large and trunk-like compared to the slender branches of normal threads, and it rises up from all around Elaine, spiralling up to a point above her head, at which point it becomes hazy and disappears. The disappearance itself has threads, however, suggesting that it is not a natural phenomenon - something or someone is actively causing the disappearance.</font>]
Ilandra blinked a few times, and seemed restored to normal. Cain looked in her direction, a concerned look on his face, but aside from this nobody else seemed to have noticed her obscure episode.
Regara stood, knocking her chair backwards in the process and leaving it resting against an unexpected honeysuckle bush.
“Lady Elaine,” Regara said, “whilst I cannot speak for Ilandra and House Honeysuckle, I will speak on behalf of House Poppy.
“The Red Roses’ forces have recently recaptured our lands from the Whites, and have given them back to us in good faith. Whilst we are no longer capable of participating in the war, of which I am sure you will approve, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Red - at least for now. With this in mind, I would prefer to trust in a known ally than an unknown one. Perhaps, if the future brings many changes, we may one day throw in our lot with the Black Rose Committee. But that day is not today.”
Regara remained standing, awaiting Elaine’s reply.
“Well then,” Elaine said after a pointed pause. “I’m sorry to have taken up so much of your time.”
Elaine bowed, shallowly and stiffly, to Regara and Ilandra.
“Do enjoy your party.”
With that said, Elaine closed her eyes, shone purple, and dissolved into a mass of black feathers. After a few seconds, all but one of the feathers melted away into the air, leaving a solitary feather with three hundred gazes upon it.
Ilandra nudged Cain, and spoke in a low voice to ensure no-one overheard.
“If you like I can tell you of four people affiliated with the black roses. You interested?”
Cain nodded. She started pointing them out, one by one.
“Their threads were quite well established, I’d assume they’d probably be able to elucidate us at least slightly. Either way, Elaine wants harm to come to me and Nyano…”
Slowly, conversation returned to the room. The atmosphere did not regain its carefree nature, however - most of the discussion concerned the events of the previous ten minutes.
[Private to Ilandra: Cain whispered back to Ilandra. "The second person you pointed to, I think he's a minor Chrysanthemum prince. As to the others - I suppose that if we want to know, we'll have to ask."]Right everyone, I'm knackered so I'm going to call it quits for tonight. For the next four days there'll be no me, no Nyano and no Gustafssen, so there won't be any major plot happening. Feel free to mingle in non-plot-related party-type ways until Tuesday!
As the single black feather settled to the floor Gustafssen quickly rose from his seat and without looking up from his note book crossed the floor to stand beside it.
Quickly popping the note book into his pocket he knelt down beside the feather and began to examin it by passing several strangly shapped objects over it. Before finally scouping it up with a pair of cellery sticks and placing it in a zip lock bag. Then walking up to the high table he bowed low to his Dutches, her sons and their guests before saying, “Ehrlich von den Frauen, meine Herzogin we will head at once to our laboratory to investigate this occurance. Please forgive us for departing so early.”
This said the Scientist turned and shouted, “Schrodinger! Put that triffle down. Heisenberg! Stop what ever it is that you’re doing. And both of you come with us.” Before leaving the hall and heading back to his laboratory.
Ilandra kept her expression as neutral as possible, and turned to her cousin, eyes glittering with conspiracy.
“Hey, see that guy,” she pointed at a noble sat in the middle of one of the end tables. “That’s a minor Chrysanthemum prince… Anyways, this wouldn’t be important otherwise but he’s mixed up in the whole black rose thingy… now I reckon we oughtta go ask, or at the very least find out, what the black rose committee had to offer for them to defect from the war. Wanna help?
Ilandra kissed Cain on the cheek, “right, I’m going in… I’m gonna figure out who the other three are. Hopefully they won’t withhold too much info. Well, talk to you later!” with this she breezed off in the direction of the third noble she’d pointed out, an old lecherous looking guy sitting only two tables away who hadn’t noticed the commotion going on at the top table.
As she breezed up to him, he looked up and a smile spread across his face. She smiled back and perched herself on the table next to him and introduced herself.
“Hi, I’m Ilandra… I was looking around and noticed that I’d never seen you befoe and… well… you intrigued me…” she allowed the smile to grow wider as she waited for his answer.
“Why, my dear Duchess Honeysuckle,” the man said, his eyes straying far from her face. “There’s no need to be shy, I do know who you are. But pray tell, why would an old man like me possibly intrigue a beautiful young lady such as yourself?”
Nyano takes the opportunity afforded by everybody else watching Gustafssen collecting the feather to wander over to Abel.
“Abel, You read lots of books so you know things! Could you explain something to me?”
He pauses waiting for confirmation that the young lord has noticed him.
“Why did Cain have a kitten in his pocket? Is it something to do with the way that he looks at Illandra?”
Nyano’s eyes narrow “He said it wasn’t a motherly thing, what other kind of thing would have him look at a kitten with that kind of affection, and what does all this have to do with Illandra?”
“well, an old friend once told me that older men are wiser. And as you know I’m only just Duchess and have no idea how to run a house. Perhaps, you could share some of your experience…” she reached over and stroked his chest… smiling seductively as she did so.
god, i hope cain isn’t watching… oh the things i do for my house.
The old man swallowed and nearly choked. “My dear, I’m afraid you’ve already made one mistake!” He laughed heartily.
“No, don’t worry,” he said, seeing the look on Ilandra’s face. “The most important thing to realise is that your House should be the most important thing to you - just as mine is to me. Asking advice from a Duke of another house is not likely to provide any that is in the best interests of yours!”
dammit dammit dammit!!! i had to pick a duke to ask
Ilandra feigned sadness, “well, perhaps it’s for the best, if only i knew which house to send the letter of apology to. Oh, and I’ll have to avoid all the nurses from that house on my shift next week. I’m sorry to bother you, it’s just, being a Duchess is so lonely.” with this she burst into tears, making sure between sobs she mentioned how unused to rejection she was and looking up every once in a while to see his reaction.
The Duke, quite unused to dealing with a crying woman, attempted to pat her on the leg in a comforting way (but ended up doing so in a rather more suggestive way).
“Now now,” he said, “I said it was nothing to worry about…”
During one of her brief breaks between sobs, Ilandra glimpses a somewhat irritated-looking Cain making his was quickly through the crowd towards them.
Abel bends down to speak quietly to Nyano.
“Ah, now, you see…” Abel collects his thoughts on what might prove to be a confusing subject.
“Well, you know that I look a lot like a human, yes? And you look a lot like a raccoon? Well, there are some people… er, some kinds of faerie, really… who can look like very different things sometimes. Um, what I’m trying to say is… The cat is Ilandra. It’s, er, not much of a motherly thing. It’s - well, I’m sure you can probably imagine. And though Ilandra is mostly human-looking, she’s sometimes cat-looking. It often… When you surprise her, she quite often changes.”
As if by magic Ilandra stops crying. “you’re right, ok gotta go… sorry!” and runs in cain’s general direction, morphs into cat form and stops just in front of his next step causing him to trip up.
“are you banal? i was almost getting the information and if you’d gone over and sabotaged it it would have been so embarrassing!” ilandra resized and ran into his pocket. “now, get up and if you carry on in that direction at least make it look like you are trying to get to the little boy’s room or something.”
inside his pocket Ilandra panicked oh my god! what if i lose Cain cos of this information gathering mission she dug her claws into the fabric and allowed herself real tears as the gravity of the situation sunk in.
Nyano finally begings to understand the situation.
“Why didn’t Cain just tell me that in the first place?” He mutters, looking around for Cain to give him a piece of his mind.
Seeing his quarry heading out towards the bathrooms Nyano scurries off after him.
Hugh’s eyes refocused on the party around him, to find himself feeling uncomfortably full in front of a well-cleaned plate. Looked very much like he’d zoned out in the middle of a meal again, but it’d been so long since there had been the facilities to Cook Properly and those glorious potatoes…
He shook himself forcibly and surreptitiously looked around, checking to see if his complete detachment from the party had been noticed. Finding that the room was in enough chaos that he could probably have sprouted bushels of garlic without being noticed - hah! the duchess of honeysuckle had very rudely left blooms littering the floor - he had a more thorough look around for Gustaffson; the scientist seemed to have left early. Cheek!
Well, nothing for it then but to begin the sweet course. He reached behind a now empty bowl of potatoes and extracted the chilled ice cream container, scraped himself a respectable plateful and tucked in. After a moment, he caught the noble seated to his lefts attention and gestured towards Cain storming out of the room, kitten and House Poppy Pathfinder in tow.
“Hmmn, so what’s all the fuss over there about?”
Cain picked himself up off the floor, brushed down his now somewhat dusty dinner suit and shot a glare in the direction of the Duke, before continuing on his way down the room with his head held high.
Reaching the great double doors at the end, he nodded to the doorman who let him out - followed by Nyano.
Once outside the room, he collapsed theatrically against a wall and sighed deeply.
“Ilandra,” he said, pulling the cat out of his pocket and placing her on the floor, “what on earth was that about? You could have chosen a more… orthodox method of asking somebody who he is.”
“But the humans…” she replied. “They said… Granted, they took their clothes off a bit more, but…”
“Humans?” Cain asked. “Taking their clothes off? Where, dare I ask, did you get that from?”
Nyano’s inherent curiosity won out over his indignation and he creeped behind the nearest marble pillar.
Poking his head around the white marble to watch, he didn’t notice that his tail was clearly visible on the other side of the pillar. Thus hidden to any inspection less thorough than a brief glance around the corridor he settled down to watch.
“Perhaps I’ll finally learn what humans do when they take their clothes off” he thought to himself.
“Gosh,” said the man next to Hugh, who turned out to be sporting a wig so vast that it dwarfed his somewhat pudgy face. “It does look rather interesting, doesn’t it?
“I’m sure you know your own Prince Cain, and the lady Ilandra who I believe is now a Duchess. The man who appears to have made her so… upset is a certain Duke Willow. Shall we say… he’s not unknown for upsetting young ladies, though usually not quite so quickly as all that!”
Ilandra focused a little and manged to morph back into a tear-stained version of herself “well… you see the lady detective went up to the nasty criminal and started flirting, much like i did, then she leaned closer and lowered her dress straps, like so” she demonstrated, “then the criminal started helping her, and the lady asked him if he was guilty, so he started going ‘yes!, yes!, yes!’ while sticking a weird stick under her skirt and she got out a hairbrush looking thingy, but without the bristles and hitting him with it and calling him a bad boy” she paused for breath. “Then the criminal guy was taken to a judge guy who sentenced him to something or other and these other ladies in pleaseman uniforms but with no panties come out and start doing a strip search and he starts doing a strip search to them. it got really strange after that and the human was beginning to freak me out, so i left him to it. and since then i haven’t ever followed human males of our age.”
She looked into Cain’s eyes, trying to judge how much trouble she was in, when a feeling inside her told her she was in deeper biological trouble. uh oh, it looks like it’s mating season again… oh god!
“now, before you judge me, i need you to promise you will keep my hands by my side for the rest of the evening… it’s one of the bad things about being feline…” having said that, she fell onto Cain’s chest and started purring suggestively.ilandra burns a willpower to not jump cain ooc: cats have 4-7 day fertility cycles many times a year... for greater comedy i figured she'd have a 4-7 hour fertility cycle many times a year. also, i'm not trying to raise the rating of this... just add comedy.
Stunned into silence and rendered immobile by Ilandra’s speech, Cain did nothing for nearly a minute besides blink. Slowly, and carefully. Whilst he turned an interesting shade of bright crimson from his face right down to his toes; not a colour of skin particularly fitting to a Sidhe.
Once an almost infinitely long period of time had passed, Cain delicately lifted Ilandra away from his chest, looked into her eyes…
…then turned and ran as fast as he could down the corridor.
Ilandra sighed and rolled her eyes. “ok, we have no help on this… i’ll just have to make do with honeysuckle rope and hope for the best… oh and blinkers… then i have to make it to the table… then… oh screw it, maybe i should stay out here for four hours. no! can’t give up! oooh or cold shower. that works for hummums… i should try that first”
she pulled a bunch of keys from the everpresent bag and inserted one into a small chink in the castle walls, then put the keys away and closed the door that had opened. She turned back to the hall.
“Right, be brave and this should be over quite quickly.” she loosed her hair so it fell in curtains around her face, blocking the view to the sides and clamped her hands firmly next to her waist. “if all else fails, i think i might still have the tranquiliser shot in the first aid box. i should check.” she checked and found she did indeed still have it. Putting the trank in her hip pocket she started into the banquet hall, eyes distinctly more feline than usual.
holy crap, eyes to the floor… c’mon, we can do this… get to abel, he might help
All eyes, or at least the majority of the ones belonging to sober bodies, were on Ilandra as she re-entered the hall, her hair and her eyes down, marching with considerable imprecision towards the top table.
Thus, around two hundred people were watching when, halfway down the hall, Duke Willow stood up to make reparations for upsetting her; when Ilandra exclaimed loudly “There’s no time to explain, I must tranquilise myself before I do something stupid”; and when Ilandra made good on her promise, stabbed herself in the leg with a needle, and passed out on the floor.
Duke Willow started to bend down to - well, he would no doubt assure everyone that his intentions were innocent - before a tall lady dressed only in what seemed to be hundreds of brightly-coloured shawls politely removed him and picked Ilandra up herself.
As she did so, she spied a note crumpled in her pocket, reading:
“In case of Emergency, take me to Abel.”
Figuring this probably qualified, the lady carried Ilandra as quickly as she could up to the top table, and dumped her in Abel’s arms, where she began to regain consciousness.
She focused, and found herself staring up at Abel. Tendrils of honeysuckle were attempting to gain purchase on him, she apologized and leapt off him like a cat on a hot tin roof. She looked incredibly flustered by this as if she was making a moral decision, she burns another willpower to not jump him.
“Abel,” she says, quietly, “I’ve run out of tranquilisers, I appear to have entered mating season for cats and now my entire body is demanding kittens. I warned your brother of the danger, he ran off… I think I broke him. Now, I need you to keep me away from all other male faeries for at least three hours. It’s vital this happens…” She trailed off as she had noticed a rather good-looking male waiter come up to the table to offer water.
She got up to follow the waiter and noticed a vice-like grip on her wrist. So she sat back down on the floor, cat eyes blazing.
thank the flowers i have good friends… but damnit i wanted that!!!
“also, while we’re stuck with each other, no chance you’d know who that old guy was just a minute ago is there? I know he’s a duke… but that’s about it. Oh and he’s with the black roses…”
Nyano uncoiled himself from the marble pillar, noticing that he’d been gripping it with sufficient force to embed some of his fur onto it’s surface.
That speech by Illandra had made his heart flutter in strange ways. He hadn’t understood most of it, so he focused on the section that made the most sense to him.
The Raccoon quickly made his way to one of the servants heading into the ballroom, and gave a series of urgent commands.
Just as Illandra had finished her short speech to Abel, a servant marched up to her and gave a quick apology. Then he dumped a bucket of cold water over her and left in a hurry. He was quickly followed by another servant who repeated the process, who was followed by a third and a fourth the water getting slightly colder each time.
Seeing the shock in Abel’s eyes, Nyano looks worried and says “She said she needed a cold shower, is she going to be ok now?”
Hugh chortled to the man.
“What a palaver! You know, I’ve not seen shenanigans like this since… Well, since the last great feast we had here! Do you remember, when the Duchess did that dance, I say! The band looked like they were just going to crawl into their instruments from fright!
What do you think the little fellow’s going to do with that bucket?”
The splash echoed loud around the room as Hugh took another mouthful of ice cream and then nearly sprayed it across the table again.
“Hnaaaah! Priceless! What a darling chap!”
The great gouts of steam that arose off the cat as bucket after bucket of near-freezing water were poured on her however wiped the smile from his face. Sweeping the container of ice cream up in one hand, he borrowed his neighbours unused spoon in the other and rushed over.
“Here my dear, this will certainly cool you down.”
Ilandra looked up at what could only be described (at the time anyway) as an evil man as he walked away with the last bucket. She bristled slightly, as the water sunk into her skin. She vaguely realized she was no longer in any danger of jumping any of the men around her, but no big test had appeared yet.
And then a rather attractive chef appeared before her, bearing ice cream.
well… i don’t seem to wanna jump him… his ice cream maybe, him no
She smiled sweetly, her eyes returned to their normal fae colour.
“ice cream? for me?” she asked in a meek voice, only barely noticing she was beginning to shiver uncontrollably. “I like ice cream…” she reached out to the proffered bowl and took it gently from Hugh’s hand. “Thankyou!!! I’d hug you but I can only really use one hand at the mo… though that said, is it me or is it very cold in here?”
She turned to Abel who was still doing a good job of restraining her, though she didn’t appear to need it anymore. “Abel, it’s really cold…” she shivered at him, “can i steal your jacket?”ooc: too much afi at 7:30 makes eric a very awake thing...
“Steal my jacket?” Abel asked, his brain finally catching up with the speed at which the situation had unfolded. He stared at Ilandra, lying in a puddle of water and reaching up towards the ice-cream-bearing heavens, for a few seconds.
“I think we should probably get you dry and into some clothes that aren’t soaking. Come on…”
So saying, he knelt down and picked up Ilandra, holding her in his arms and allowing her to grab Hugh’s proffered ice-cream as they headed out of the great hall in search of warm towels and a wardrobe.
As they left the great hall a very shivery Ilandra was attempting to spoon ice cream into her now bluish lips, and making a terrible mess of it.
“oh my, people must be watching and thinking the worst of me right now…” she lamented quietly between shivers. “and what will Cain think?” she could vaguely recall the shade of red he’d gone… “I’ve got to find him!” She weakly attempted to free herself from Abel’s arms, but found it would be easier to morph into cat form, leaving the soggy clothes behind of course, she’d just have to find some clothes on the way…
She rounded a corner, headed towards his room… running as though the hounds of hell were after her. She got to his door, quite out of breath and let herself in, whereupon she dashed into his wardrobe and purloined what looked like a good combination of trousers and shirt. Having decided on this, she picked a rather adorable little hat from the floor and decided it would have to do to cover her hair.
A few seconds later she emerged, in front of a rather confused-looking Cain, who had heard noises coming from his wardrobe. Still distracted, Ilandra started on her quest to find his mirror and walked straight into him, looking rather like an adult and female) page boy (like the little 6 year old ones you get at weddings who if it weren’t for the fact they’re small would look quite bad.)
“sorry, the servants gave me a cold shower so i had to dry off, and i don’t have any dresses here anymore and Regara’s stuff is huge. I’m really sorry about earlier, will you come back to the banquet? Please?” she smiled and picked up his hand. “and i promise I won’t do anything wrong… please don’t hate me!” her eyes beginning to brim, Ilandra slumped down onto the floor and awaited his wrath.ooc: this link has a page boy outfit that more or less matches the one she's wearing... only she also has a silly hat.... http://www.whatishcc.com/images_rov/page1.jpg
Cain stared down at Ilandra, gave a little sigh, then knelt down and hugged her, waiting for her to realise that she’d done nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, in the banquet hall, a servant weaved his way quickly through the assembled crowd and located Hugh.
“Sir,” he spluttered, “we have a problem.”
Ilandra relaxed into the hug, and wrapped her arms around Cain. After about a minute she let out a contented sigh and murmured “I love you” she then took a deep breath as though she didn’t want to break away from the hug and got up, turned to Cain and said “Let’s go back to the great hall, maybe there’ll be more ice cream, but either way I’m sure your mother wishes to make big announcements.”
She started to walk out of the room, which is no mean feat when you have trousers that trail 3 feet on you. And rolled her (well, his sorta) sleeves up so she could find her hands again.
Cain knelt silently for a few moments, not quite having been expecting Ilandra’s rapid departure from their hug. He shifted slightly to face her and smiled, partly at the sight of her trying to walk in trousers that were at least a foot too long for her, and partly at a much deeper emotion.
Then, after a barely audible squee, Cain stood up and followed his bride-to-be back to the hall.
Hugh glared with ill-concealed irritation at the unlucky servant. They knew damned well that when he was attending the party, he was not to be bothered with the concerns of the kitchen. The kitchen staff were all trained to his exacting standards and were hand picked - by himself of course, knowing full well each one could cope with the demands of kitchen life. He was about to deliver a blistering dismissal when a terrible thought struck him.
His face melting into desperate worry, he asked “It’s not the Trifle is it? Good gracious me I should never have left it at such a critical juncture, it’s not Blenkinsopp’s fault, a trifle is a hard thing to get right…”
He started striding off towards the kitchen, calling to the servant behind him.
“I’ll need to survey the damage of course, but we might well need the emergency bottle of sherry. It’s hidden behind the unused cupboard by that broken sink at the back of the scullery. Be careful with it though, it’s potent stuff.
Let’s see what the damage is eh?”
Hearing the magic word “Trifle” Nyano decided that he needed to find out how such incredible foodstuffs were created.
Picturing giant machines with big whirly cogs that disgorged culinary perfection he sneaked after Hugh.
“Ah, Sir…” the waiter said, trying desperately to keep up with the rapidly-departing chef. “I’m not sure sherry will solve this one. And it’s not about the trifle. Er… I think, rather than sherry, we might be needing more of an… um… antidote.”
As Ilandra walked back in with Cain, she heard the word “…antidote” ring in the air.
“Antidote?” sounds like we may be needing paramedics.” She noticed Hugh about three seconds before he walked into her. “erm, Hugh, do you need help on this? Cos I can help.” She reached out for Cain’s hand and readied herself to drag him with her in case Hugh needed anything. Worst case scenario, she could run and fetch the paramedics from her house.
“Help? With a trifle in ruins?”
Hugh remembered his manners with a start and instantly composed himself.
“I do apologise ma’am, as much as your fine hand would be a blessing for us all in this time of great distress, you might perhaps find the party more enjoyable?”
The need to ensure all went perfectly with the food at this, the first party since the return left him no patience for a reply so off he stormed towards the kitchen again, snapping at the unfortunate servant.
“Antidote? Talk sense man! Why would you need antidote for a trifle? It’s not as if someone would poison it after all.”
The servant, nearly running to keep up with the faes swift stride almost ran past as Hugh screeched to a halt.
“Surely not? Why would someone poison the desert! What makes you think it’s been poisoned man, speak up!”
“Well, um… I… I mean we, we think it’s poisoned because… well, the empty black-stained bottle with the skull and crossbones on the side was a good clue!” The waiter became more and more agitated. “And we caught the perpetrator, at least we think we did, and we don’t recognise him and he has the same black stuff on his hands and we caught him trying to wash it off in the sink and he’s really shifty-looking and he has hooves!”
Nyano steps out from behind Hugh looking mortified.
“You mean a poisoner got past our patrols?” He walks up to the sevant and clutches at his trousers in panic. “Do you have him properly locked up? Have you called the guard? Have you made sure he’s not going to poison himself? HAVE YOU STARTED A NEW TRIFLE?”
He turns around to face the empty corridor. “AND SOMEBODY PLEASE CALL GUSTAFFSEN! Tell him we need him to identify a poison, and fetch one of my men.”
“We beat him around the head with frying pans until he fell over!” shouted the now rather exanimate waiter. “And you are the guard! And we’re not sure about the trifle! It might not have been that he poisoned!”
Remembering his rank and position Nyano puffs out his chest.
“Well then take us to him!” Nyano exlaims as he marches off towards the kitchens in his best military walk.
Ilandra looked at Cain, “carry me? you run faster and i’m quite light in cat form. Or go to the gate and call the house and get the paramedics here. Your choice… but if it’s a poisoning it’s better safe than sorry.”
She scanned the hall to see if she could find Akane, but there were too many people milling around.
damn, oh well… i’m sure she’ll happily help out if we need more nurses
Cain turned and picked up Ilandra, who reverted to cat form as they ran off towards the castle gates to contact the Honeysuckles.OC: Righty, this thread is only for stuff happening in the banquet hall for a while. "Plot: Panic in the Kitchens!" is for anything now happening in the kitchen. If you want important plot anywhere else, new thread gets.
Elaine’s words had sounded right to Akane when the mysterious woman began to speak her piece. She knew that war was brutal and was better off avoided - hadn’t she run to the mortal world to avoid the war in Faerie only to spend the 20th century, so turbulent for humans, running from yet more wars? And had she not then proceeded to return to a Faerie ravaged by Roses, to find her kin gone, with only Ilandra and the hospital remaining to ensure the Honeysuckles’ legacy lived on amongst the Fae?
But withdrawing wasn’t enough. She had learned that, even if it had taken her a hundred years to grasp it. You couldn’t run from war; it was everywhere, it touched everything, and even if you yourself were safely out of it, the death continued. Omission was an action in itself, certainly, but Elaine didn’t really offer a third side. It was just more of the same sticking your head in the sand and pretending the world wasn’t going to pieces around you, that the killing and the pain didn’t affect you.
“No man is an island.” A mortal had written that, and Akane finally understood. No fae is an island either. Walking away would not erase war, even if it somehow ended this one. For that, you need to change the way people think. And there was something not quite right about Elaine, something unsettling. Akane hadn’t made a career and earned a living out of ferretting (or foxing) out secrets without acquiring some understanding of people, and her gut instincts said the woman’s plan was too simple, her “get out of jail free” card too good to be true.
Thus, when Ilandra had told her the Chrysanthemum prince was implicated, she had wasted no time in making her way over to his corner of the room and sitting down beside him. “Well,” she said, smiling slightly. “I think this feast will be remembered for years to come!”
((OOC: I’m hijacking the timeline a bit - Akane would’ve done this as soon as Elaine vanished, so this is all a bit in the past, and the other PCs would be off doing other things. Sorry, people, was not really possible to post whilst away!))
“Why, it certainly shall,” the prince replied. “It’s not every day that an entire house celebrates its homecoming, and in such lavish style too!”
The prince paused for a moment, smiling.
“My lady, do forgive me, I do not believe we have met. My name is Theodore, Prince of house Chrysanthemum.”
“Well,” she responded with a grin, “I was thinking more of the rather dramatic and extremely fascinating interruption - although I must admit, I do not altogether agree with all of the reactions to it, including my cousin Ilandra’s. I am Akane, Princess of House Honeysuckle.” Looks like I’m taking you up on that title, Ilandra, she sighed mentally, Much as I hope I never have to deal with the implied responsibility - if I’m trying to pry information out of Princes, being of equal rank just may come in useful. “I have a bit of a confession to make,” she continued. “It wasn’t just your charm that made me come this way, although it certainly was a factor! It was also that you were one of the few people who did not seem to be scowling at Lady Elaine’s little exposition.” Upon finishing, she examined Theodore’s reaction intently, and hoped she had not overplayed her hand…
“My charm? Dear me, such flattery from a lady so beautiful as yourself.”
The prince flashed a dental-advert smile.
“Not scowling? My, of course I was not. I confess I am not filled with the same immediate… loathing that it seemed some of our peers experienced. Despite the lady Elaine’s methods, and I suppose also her general ambience, I am a man motivated by the eventual goal of a venture rather than the means by which it is achieved.
“I confess I am by no means a pacifist,” he continued, “but I have seen rather too much of this war for my liking. It does cause so much sadness, particularly visibly so amongst the lower folk. It is hardly good for their livelihoods or, by extension, ours. Thus, to some extent, I do agree with the Lady Elaine’s motivation.
“My lady, do you perhaps have an interest yourself in tonight’s political revelations?”
Akane nodded. “As my cousin stated, we run the only hospital in Faerie; I also spent some time in the human world, which has no shortage of wars either. I’ve seen enough soldiers wounded and dying to understand that this must end, perhaps even if unorthodox methods are necessary. Mind you, I haven’t seen very much of Lady Elaine’s methods, but her entrance tonight certainly did qualify as unorthodox. I do believe that bringing peace will require a change in the way we all approach this war,” she added, with complete honesty. “Should this be a way in which that might be acheived, my curosity would certainly be peaked! Perhaps you might tell me a bit more about it?” She leaned closer, her demeanor one of rapt attention.
“Well, it is my feeling - and, I’m sure, hers - that merely talking to as many people as possible may have quite the desired effect, even though her manner of ‘talking’ is not well-appreciated. I believe that very few people - by which I mean nobles, those in power - are keen on this war continuing. We have all seen how it loses us much and gains us barely anything. I feel that so many of our houses are still in the war merely to appear strong, when in reality they wish more than anything for the war to be over. Furthermore they wish to have some bargaining power with their Rose should they be the victors, but most of the more minor houses on both sides have long since lost faith that their side will win.
“So, it is not a change in the way in which we approach the war that I think is necessary, but rather it is that the Houses should each begin to accept the way they have come to approach the war, and act on that rather than continuing along the path of least resistance and continuing a conflict with no obvious end in sight.”
“It is likely enough, I suppose, that houses have lost faith. The deadlock between Red and White was established early and never broken. “But as far as I can see, they do accept the way in which they have approached the war; that is, I am sure many might see the error of having taken a side (although admittedly I’m biased on this matter, as Honeysuckle never has and never will, and I strongly believe neutrality is the best option). Yet it is also inevitable that, having taken sides, they may fear the consequences of abandoning those allegiances. “It could be seen as cowardice, or worse, betrayal. The reaction could be swift and brutal, because neither of the Roses can really afford to lose allies if it would weaken their position, break the deadlock. “It might certainly help if I, as Princess of a House that has forever been neutral, were to advise others to adopt this course of action; I would certainly be willing to consider doing so. But I could not in good conscience suggest this if I knew they would suffer for it. As I said, I’ve witnessed altogether too much violence on a grand scale. “You seem to know more than I do about the Black Rose Committee, Prince Theodore. From what you know, are their assurances of protection genuine? How much can they do, and how swiftly could they act to prevent retribution that might fall swiftly and suddenly?”
“Ah,” said the prince, “there, I think, you have hit upon the essential weakness in Elaine’s proposition. It comes down to their power, both in a political and, I am afraid in these times, a military sense. My House, too, has been considering the Committee’s offer and whether they have the power to be effective.
“As you have seen, they are remarkably reluctant to reveal specific details, either of their political allegiances or their military power. We have ourselves done some considerable research as to both of these, and whilst the list of those houses known to have associations with the Black Rose Committee is large - some very important names among them - it is only the smaller of those Houses approached who have pulled out of the war and thus entrusted themselves solely to the Committee.
“Their military power, if indeed they have any worth speaking of, is untested. None of the Houses that have thrown in their lot with the Black Roses has yet been attacked, so the world at large - and presumably also those Houses - has little idea what their force may consist of. It does worry me that a number of larger houses may see the retribution-free withdrawals of the smaller houses and withdraw themselves, only to face strong retribution from the Reds or the Whites.
“However, frankly, I no longer believe the Reds or the Whites have the resources to worry about retribution against their former allies. They are struggling as it is to continue the war; one might even venture that they continue it out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Thus, and this is a point I have put at length to my father, I believe that an expression of our concerns about the war, signified by our withdrawal, is a safe and wise decision to make. I have discussed the possibility in detail with my father, and alas in a less detailed fashion with the Black Roses, and I believe this to be the best course of action for House Chrysanthemum, but it is still ultimately a decision that my father alone must make.”
“I can understand; Ilandra is my cousin and my Duchess, and, whilst she always listens to my advice, she makes her own decisions. As such, my best chance in convincing her of something is for my advice to make sense. “So if you would be willing to tell me of your discussions with the Black Rose, I would be extremely grateful. No detail is unimportant, as it might be that very detail that helps make up her mind. This war has taken its toll on us all, and I would very much like to see it ended; perhaps if I can convince my Duchess to add her voice to the Committee’s, I will have helped with that.” Or I will have made a bad mistake, she thought to herself, But hell, I’ll say whatever it takes - let’s see if he’ll talk now.
“My lady, I am afraid that the majority of my discussions with the Black Roses have been concerning very practical matters relating to my house, which I would imagine would be of little interest to you.
If you’re after specifics, and I suspect you are,” he said, flashing another smile, “I don’t mind sharing at least a little of what I have discovered myself.”
He leaned closer to Akane’s ears, and lowered his voice to a whisper.
“For example, you may be interested to know that both House Hyacinth and House Daffodil are preparing to pull out of the war and offer assistance to the Black Rose Committee, even though they both have sufficient forces that they need not rely on the Black Rose’s protection.
“I fear your decision may come down to their military capabilities, as so often the decisions have. Know that they are very reluctant to number their forces; however, from what I have seen of their Agents, it would not take all that many of them to be a military force on their own.”OC: Here, have some reward for your persistence. When you left Fairyland, Hyacinth and Daffodil were rather important allies of the White Rose. (Of course, if anything's changed since, you don't know about it yet.)
Akane smiled ruefully at Theodore. “It is inevitable that military strength concern me. Our House trains healers rather than warriors, and thus our neutrality cost us dearly. I would not encourage others to follow our example only to meet the same fate. “Agents”, you mean like Lady Elaine? They’re all like that?” she asked, remembering with the chilly shiver that woman had sent down her back.
“All? Well, I couldn’t possibly say, we’ve not met many ourselves. But the ones with whom I have had discussions have had rather… similar approaches to the situation. They seem so motivated by the goal that they preach that other aspects of courtly decorum - such as politeness or sensible entrances and exits - seem rather to fall by the wayside.”
“I suppose that kind of commitment is what’s necessary, and a good sign, although a bit intimidating,” she shrugged. “After all, the quicker this all ends, the better it will be, for all of us, highborn and commoner.” Inwardly Akane winced at the tone she was adopting to better suit Theodore; she’d spent enough time amongst the humans to know that birth status could mean very little indeed. “This has certainly been enlightening, Prince Theodore, and I thank you for taking me into your confidences; I will certainly submit my opinion to my Duchess, and I hope we remain in contact over this and perhaps other matters, as two people who understand each other.” She grinned conspiratiorially, and perhaps there was something a bit vulpine in that smile.
“Au contraire,” Theodore said. “I thank you for taking the time to converse with me. It was an honour, and a pleasure, to speak with someone prepared to consider the finer details of the Black Roses’ offer without assuming from face value that their intentions are ill.”
So saying, Prince Theodore Chrysanthemum bowed deeply, took Akane’s hand, and kissed it.
StorytellerRight, now we're up to real time again, here goes... (Thanks for your patience, everyone.)
As Cain and Ilandra reached the gates of Castle Poppy, Ilandra jumped down from his arms and morphed back to her fae shape, tripping a little due to the length of his trousers. Fortunately he stabilised her, so she was able to reach the gate and summon her House.
After a few seconds, the house appeared. She ran in with Cain in tow.
“Catkin,” she called out, but received no response. “Catkin!” she shouted, shortly before he turned up. “Right, I’m going to need several first aid kits, and I need to get to the hospital wing. Also, could you brief the future Duke on some form of first aid please? He’ll need it in future.”
Having said that, she barrelled at full speed into the hospital wing.
“Where’s Hippocrates?” she called to Matron, still moving towards the surgery wing. “Bartholomew, Dexter, I need your expertise; we have poisonings at Cain’s party! Could you summon up a team of, say 35 paramedics?”
The two surgeons nodded and assembled a motley crew of 35 multi-specialist paramedics, drawing upon every wing they could.
A tannoy sounded all over the wards, in Ilandra’s voice. “There is a minor incident nearby, we must be on high alert. All brace yourselves for up to 100 new patients. Thank you. Also, pheasant dinner next week for all staff to announce the new Duke.”
She signed off the tannoy system and headed towards Hippocrates’ office. He wasn’t there, so she headed back to the main ward where he was waiting for her.
“My lady, how can I help?” he bowed gracefully, which was quite a mean feat for a man with a walking stick.
“There’s talk of poisoning at Castle Poppy, we need people there, I’m not letting ANYTHING ruin the party of the century. I need you, Bartholomew and Dexter to work your magic, so to speak.” she informed him.
Within minutes she and a massive crowd of paramedics and doctors were in the main hall waiting for Cain and the first aid kits she’d ordered.
After a few moments, Catkin’s exasperated voice could be heard approaching.
“No, no, no! Don’t jab the orange willy-nilly! Insert it gently and forcefully! Oh! I give up! At least you know the basics, come on!” they entered the hall. “Ah, Ladyship, your erm, choice of man seems to be the type that are unable to inject ranges, but will most likely distract the patient if you kit yourself up in nurses’ uniform.”
Ilandra pondered for a split second and shook her head. “No time, come on!” and started walking out the door, trailing paramedics and a Prince.
Hugh Fearnley-WhittingstallCopied from "Plot: Panic in the Kitchens!"
The important thing, Hugh decided as he burst into the hall at full pelt, hair flying everywhere, clothes soaked in a thin layer of sweat, the important thing was not to spread panic by keeping the Poisoning as quiet as possible.
“EVERYONE!” he bellowed, somehow finding the air in his lungs to make himself heard over the hubbub of party conversation.
“THE FOOD’S BEEN POISONED! NO ONE EAT ANYTHING!”
He raised his nose to the air, scenting for the distinctive scent he detected from the bottle inamongst a scene full of exotically perfumed fae. As he did so, he murmered to the following Captain.
“The stuff has distilled Arsenal in it.”
The captains eyes widened, his nostrils flared and with a great scream of “THE TOOON FOREEEVERR!” he set his shoulder once more and began the deceptively fast run of the football hooligan towards a poor confused looking elderly gentleman still holding a loaded forkful up in the air.
The elderly gentleman, quite taken by the surprise of seeing a large Geordie man charge him, covered his eyes, pointed his loaded fork and fired.
As the Northerner slowed, bubbling with anger even more at the knowledge that this obvious Arsenal-supporting Southern pansy had covered him in pasta, just as the double doors of the hall burst open to reveal Ilandra and a small legion of bizarre-looking faerie doctors.
Akane snapped out of her seat for what seemed like the millionth time that night. Seeing which dish the man had charged towards, she assumed an authoritative tone.
“Everybody, stop eating the pasta right now. Those of you who have eaten some of it, there is no need to worry - please go to the Duchess Ilandra and her team near the doors,” she finished.
A substantial number of people began to make their way toward the doors, worry clearly visible in their eyes and audible in their voices.
However, another sizable mass made their way forward in the room, shouting in rather louder voices, demanding of those in charge - who, for the moment, appeared to be Hugh and Akane - what was going on, why, and what they planned to do about it.
Hugh began to wish he’d paid a little more attention to … there was a chap tied up wasn’t there? Oh well, sometimes you just had to make do with the ingredients to hand.
“What’s going on is that someone seems to have poured poison into the pasta dish. We don’t know why yet, but we have captured the man and Nyano is interrogating him as we speak. What we’ll do about it… Well, I intend to stick to the potatos!”
He giggled nervously. Somewhere at the back of the crowd a cricket chirped and the Geordie drop-kicked the bowl of poisoned pasta off the table into the nearest wall.
Akane groaned. Trust the man to use nasty words like “poison”, guaranteed to panic the crowd.
“What…the gentleman means to say,” she added more firmly, realising that she didn’t know the man’s name (but man did he resemble that crazy grass-eating guy she’d run into once on TV), “Is that there is no need to worry, because we found out about it quite quickly, and House Honeysuckle has sent a team of expert medics to take a look at anybody who ate some of the pasta, and you’ll all be just fine very soon.” And let’s not mention that I’m not sure the “expert medics” Ilandra brought know what’s in the stuff…
[Private to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: She jabbed an elbow into the man's ribs before he could blabber on about potatoes any more and hissed quietly at him, "What else are we doing about it?"]
((OOC: Teach me to try to do something fancy with coding. Now debugged, I hope…))
“Well of course there’s no need to worry. Did I say you should worry?
Unless you’ve eaten the pasta of course. Then you should probably panic. I mean, it is poison. You’re quite likely to die really. Er…”
He realised this wasn’t quite as reassuring as he’d intended.
“I’ll just … er… Go and help the medics. Yes.”
Once again, he turned, paused for a second [Private to Akane: murmuring "Buggered if I know m'dear, no need for that kind of roughness!" at the frightfully rude fairy who'd elbowed him in the ribs] and then strode cheerfully off to the crack squad of medics.
“All right people, I’m afraid an exact decomposition will have to wait on Gustaffson …”, he paused and shuddered a little, “but the Fearnley-Whittinstall nose never misses a scent. Anyone know of any antidote to, let me see now… Aubergine, tea, chilli, blueberry, a little foxglove, deadly nightshade, its cheerful cousin happy nightshade, a soupcon of cat-mittens, arsenic and…”, he paused again, this time to lower his voice, “concentrated Arsenal?”
Overhearing the man’s parting words, she blinked in confusion. Fearnley-Whittingstall? You mean the chicken-killing guy on TV was fae? Guess the resemblance wasn’t coincidental… she blinked in confusion. Then again, one of the world’s acknowledged best detectives - Oh, sorry, we’re called “private investigators” these days - had also been fae….
She raised her voice again, trying to undo some of the damage of Fearnley-Whittingstall’s words. There was that time she’d been in the right place at the wrong time and had to stop that riot; it was one of the perils of occasionall being put on police retainer for murder cases…. Thankfully, it’s still a crowd, not a mob. “The IQ of a mob is that of the stupidest person in the mob divided by the number of people in the mob….” Speak clearly and confidently, reassure them.
“Doctor Gustaffsen is investigating the poison; rest assured that as long as everyone who has eaten the pasta informs the medics, they will be treated promptly and effectively. We assure you that, as soon as everybody is looked-after, a full-scale investigation will be put in motion and those responsible will be apprehended.”
Even if, as probably the only PI in Faerie, I have to do it myself…. After all, it’s part of what I’m already investigating. Hands up who thinks the poisoning has no connection at all with Elaine or at least the events that prompted her arrival? she thought, as she headed over to Ilandra so she could join the medic team with their work….
Ilandra was busy discussing a strategy with Dexter, “…well i say a lead emetic would be an expedient move” he suggested. At this point Bartholomew turned and suggested leeches and Hippocrates suggested Homeopathy for those who were extremely panicky. Ilandra took in their advice and thought about it for a few seconds. “No, leeches are really icky and we didn’t bring any so we couldn’t very well use them, however if you would ensure the medics are looking after the patients properly, that would be amazing.” she replied. “also, Homeopathy is an excellent choice, they wouldn’t suspect the organic tissue compounds of being anything other than extremely effective. Lead emetic, now that is an inspired idea… I think we’ll go for a combination of that and Homeopathy. After all, if we make them void their stomachs the poison can’t very well stay in can it?”
Dexter patted her hand, “No, not unless the poison has hit the bloodstream.” he replied reassuringly. “Also, do we have the decoy in case people want shots?” he called out to another medic, who nodded and brought it to Ilandra. “Well, you know what to do if people demand a tranquiliser…” Dexter said, smiling at her. She nodded and set off.
“The medics will see you now, if you would form an orderly queue, anyone who thinks they might need a relaxant must state it to the doctor.” she called out.
Akane and Hugh approached and Hugh told her of what it had contained, according to his nose, anyway… she collared a nearby medic and told him to write it down and take it to Hippocrates to see if he might know of any cure for it.OC: The decoy is a six-foot syringe. No needle, just a syringe.
Overhearing the tail end of her cousin’s conversation with the heads of surgery, Akane grinned. Placebos were a wonderful thing. “They ate quite a lot,” she chimed in, “Which should slow the uptake of one chemical amongst many into the bloodstream. “But if you’re going to use emetic therapy, take them outside a few at a time, one person to a medic - if you start sticking fingers down stomachs in here,” she added quietly, “There’s probably going to be a riot. We may wind up using tranquilisers instead of a glucose solution for the ones that start making a fuss…. “I may not know as much about medicine as our esteemed Doctors Dexter and Bartholomew here, but I definitely know crowds. Not panicking them is going to be quite a task.” At the look of shock on the doctors’ faces at seeing her again, Akane smiled. “Yes, it’s been a while. But for now you’d best put us to work and leave reunions for later….”
((OOC: I’m not playing medical expert here. If I know this from growing up as a doctors’ daughter, Akane will know it from growing up in a house of Healers. In fact, she’d likely know more, given she’s had training.))
As Akane and Ilandra buzzed around the crowd-cum-queue, the paramedics got to work on the ones first in line. Progress seemed slow - the doctors were dutifully dishing up the holistic antidote, but often with confused looks on their faces. Eventually, one of the braver ones came to speak to those in charge.
“Er, Chief?” he began, addressing primarily the Chief of Medicine but incorporating the others into the conversation too. “These people, they have no symptoms. It’s making the ‘poison’ somewhat hard to treat.”OC: All three of you - now you've had a few moments to think of it... With the exception of Happy Nightshade in the case of the Sluagh, and Arsenal in the case of West Ham supporters, none of the ingredients of the 'poison' are particularly harmful to faeries...
Akane blinks. “I think…maybe…either we’ve been played or…we’ve been played.” She felt absolutely furious at herself. Happy nightshade indeed! Unless the ingredients had some strange combined reaction that was in some way harmful, it had been done…to disrupt the feast. A diversion. A hundred years of humans had taken their toll on her noble upbringing: she swore.
“Quick, Ilandra, is there anything that somebody might want to distract us from? Something they’d want to steal, somebody they’d want to attack? If you don’t know, who else could I ask? If it’s not poison, it could have been a diversion!” she said urgently, heart pounding.
Ilandra mulled it over for a few seconds. Jumping to her feet (for she had sat down on the floor) she looked around frantically, “where’s Cain?” she demanded of the nearby people. She spotted him looking rather lost and confused near one of the paramedics, presumably explaining how he wasn’t actually medically trained.
Ilandra sighed deeply, relieved he was still nearby. Then she turned to her cousin “Regara would probably know, she knows most everything about politics. Though that said, Abel’s quite good with knowing stuff.”
Ilandra looked up towards the top table where there was a Regara shaped gap.
“Best try Abel, I don’t know how but Regara’s vanished… which is quite a feat even for her.” she told Akane, then walked towards the paramedic currently admonishing Cain.
“I believe this is my responsibility, and the queue is still rather big so you might wanna help with that.” she told the paramedic sweetly, with every word oozing sugar. Turning to Cain she informed him of how she didn’t see his mother at the top table. Then unexpectedly pulled his face down and kissed him. “I missed you.” she offered as explanation as she watched the rest of the party go by.
Akane was too focused on the possible danger to be more than quietly bemused at Ilandra running off towards Cain. Right; if they’re in here and wrapped up in each other, they’re safe. “Keep an eye on those two and make sure they’re okay,” she said to Dexter and Bartholomew with a nod of her head to indicate Ilandra and Cain. Then she dashed off to the high table, where she could catch a glimpse of white hair.
Skidding to a halt in front of Abel, she kept her voice low and hissed frantically, “The ‘poison’ in the food was harmless. I suspect somebody intended it to be found, to cause a diversion. Is there anything or anyone in this castle that somebody would want to get at?”
“Oh I say! How delightfully cunning. Best to keep an eye on the chaps who at the stuff anyway, but I think the lass with the fox-tail is probably right, we may have been ‘played’.”
Hugh had a good look around the hall and noticed the large gaping hole in the constituency of the room. Decorum restored by the apparant resolution of the crisis, he coughed politely to draw the attention of those nearby.
“Er… I don’t suppose anyone has actually seen Duchess Regara recently? Anyone know if she just stepped out for a moment? Hmmmn. I’m sure it’s nothing, must be powdering her nose. Excuse me.”
He made his way over to the Geordie, who was preoccupied with viciously stamping the remains of the pasta beneath a pair of large weighty boots, checking with any fae he encountered on the way if anyone had happened to see the overlarge duchess. He coughed politely and then asked if the chap wouldn’t mind popping back down to the kitchens and asking Nyano if he’d be so kind as to step on over to the main hall.
“Aside from a few hundred of the most powerful allies of the Red Roses?” Abel asked Akane. “No, not that I can think of. Not unless they aim to steal a weather control device or a lifetime’s supply of ice cream.
“Really, we’ve just arrived home from two years on the road. If someone wanted to take something from us, they had plenty of chances. If it is, as you say, a distraction of some kind, I suspect that it’s not that the perpetrator wishes to steal something.”
Ilandra scanned the crowd assembled for their sugar pills for signs of Regara… she wasn’t there, she sighed.
“Right, Cain, we have to find your mother… I know it’s not something anyone does for fun but I’d feel better knowing she’s safe.” she looked earnestly into his eyes while telling him. “Do you think the Regara song will work?” He smiled and replied, “has it failed you yet?” “No, and I reckon she won’t blame me if i get someone else to sing it.” She rummaged in her bag and produced a pen and paper and wrote onto it:
“Regara’s so lovely, she’s so sound, It’s just a shame her belly is round! OH Regara, you ain’t thin!!! What will the other people think When your corsetre goes sploosh!!! (repeat a couple of times)”
she folded the note up, grabbed Cain’s hand and declared they were “going to find a victim”. She looked around a little and finally decided upon a guard who was standing around.
“Hello, I was wondering if you’d be willing to sing this song at the top of your voice… you won’t get into too much trouble for it but we’re looking for Regara and this song is guaranteed to summon her. Also, should you decide against it, I’m sure your esteemed Princes will volunteer you for medical testing.” she told him, patting the 6 foot syringe to reinforce her point.
Akane went still for a moment, pondering. “A weather control device? Could that possibly be useful for them? Alternately, what do you think they might want to distract us from?” she asked, hoping Abel’s intelligence and far greater familiarity with the territory would yield some kind of idea.
“I suspect a poisoning is some length to go to acquire long-term ‘sunny spells and showers’,” said Abel. “I confess, this whole situation has got me rather confused. There have been two most suspicious occurrences in quick succession, although we cannot rule out the possibility that they are unconnected. But why would anyone carry out a fake poisoning, particularly one so easily disc– What is that man singing?”
The guard faltered at around the third line of the song, and glanced around nervously, expecting the worst. But yet, Regara did not reappear.
Ilandra looked very worried at the lack of an angry Regara, so worried in fact she had to grab the nearest fae to steady herself. She reached out and steadied herself against Cain.
“No… Angry Regara… World spinning…” she said weakly. She sat down on the ground for a second or two, a worried Cain looking down to see she was alright. Then she jumped up, with a triumphant exclamation (probably along the lines of “eureka!”).
“I know how to make the fat lady return!” she cried, then started to fade into the background as she fell into the state where fate lines became visible to her.
Akane burst out laughing. “This has Ilandra stamped all over it. I think she’s trying to summon your mother. And I wouldn’t put it past her to succeed…” she grinned. “That poor man.” “As for them being connected…frankly, in my line of business, I’ve learned suspicious occurrences often are, in one way or another. Could they have done it to remind us that we are vulnerable?”
StorytellerIlandra rolls to do the crazy Vodacce Fate Witch thing! Again! Rolling (Charisma) 3 + (Hearth Wisdom) 2 Plus 1 temporary glamour points (1 auto-success) Difficulty: 7 3 successes + 1 auto-success = 4 total!
As Ilandra became noticably shiny towards the side of the room, Akane and Abel’s conversation continued.
“I’m not sure that’s it, either,” said Abel. “The last two years have taught us that lesson well. I think it’s more complicated. If someone were to want to poison the guests tonight, it would be one of the whites. They would use real poison, but of course we cannot say for sure whether this stuff is harmful or not. If it is, then we can assume it was the Whites, and that we are in trouble unless we find an antidote.
“But, if it isn’t… Who would use fake poison? Someone was counting on us discovering it, but were they also counting on us realising that it was not deadly?”
[Private to Ilandra: Quite mundanely, the ties that seem to be Regara's - they are familial to Cain and Abel - simply stretch in the direction of one of the side doors. Because she's not actually present, though, the lines are weak and insubstantial.]
Cursing loudly, Ilandra snapped out of the background. “Damnit, that was supposed to work. How can no-one know where she is?” Ilandra demanded of no-one in particular, before storming up to the top table.
“How can you not know where your own mother is, Abel? How? She’s not that easy to lose!” she sputtered before giving up and dejectedly allowing herself to sink to the dais where she sat thoughtfully, pen and paper in hand, writing down ideas to find Regara. In the end she got nowhere.
“Akane, I think they stole Regara, we have to go find someone with a broken back… they’ll have her by their side… she’s not very light…” she wandered off towards the side doors, an extremely worried Cain following close behind.
“Well, that’s one possibility,” said Akane. “Are you going to come look with us? Extra eyes are always good, and it wouldn’t hurt ot stick together. Come or stay, but whatever you do, make sure you’re not alone. If they wont after your mother, they may come after her heirs. Heirs…” she yelped. “Oh shit if we can’t find Regara Cain becomes Duke Poppy Ilandra becomes Duchess and I inherit House Honeysuckle…Abel, we have to find your mother NOW!”
Abel sighed. “And there was me thinking my mother had just gone to the bathroom. Still, if we must…”
“Hugh!” he shouted. “Consider yourself in charge whilst this wild goose chase is on! We’ll bring you back a goose if we find one!”
So saying, Abel reluctantly stood up and followed the others out of the room.OC: Ilandra and Akane, separate thread please!
Around ten minutes later, Akane and Abel re-entered through the same door, minus the two with whom they had left. This time they looked rather less concerned and panicked as they made their way over to one of many alcohol-bearing tables with wide smiles on their faces.
Akane had a slightly manic smile on her face as she made a beeline for one of the bourbon bottles and appropriated it along with a glass. “What?” she said, when a few milling Fae looked at her strangely. “They have more!” She turned to Abel with a smirk. “Would you like me to mix you a Devil’s Advocaat, dear?” she asked toothily. “I’m sure we can find some Tabasco sauce here somewhere.”
Abel paused, half-poured flagon of ale in his hand, and gave Akane a look.
A second later a flustered and bright red Cain sprinted into the room, grabbed a bottle of wine from a nearby table and poured half of it down his throat before rushing from the room again with bottle in had, leaving the doors to bang shut behind him.
Abel and Akane hadn’t broken eye contact throughout the five-second experience, but they each nevertheless seemed to know exactly what had just happened.
“Tabasco sauce it is.”
“I don’t believe it!” Akane stared. “They have Advocaat as well,” she said, taking two large glasses and pouring the drink in question into both. “You’ll be having it with Tabasco sauce,” she said, presenting the product to Cain, “And I’ll be having it with whiskey!” she finished, pouring some into the glass and beginning to down it in frantic gulps. “Last one to pass out gets to fetch Cain and Ilandra in the morning!”
“Last one to pass out?” asked Abel. “Then that’s not fair, yours is stronger than mine!”
He grabbed the bottle from Akane’s hand and poured a generous measure into his own glass, then took a sip.
Then a gulp.
Then a sharp exhalation.
Then a very large glass of water.
“What was that stuff called again? Remind me, just so as I never touch a drop of it again in my life?”
“That was a Scotch Aardvark - take aardvark, add whiskey. Hell, if we get drunk enough for it to seem like a good idea, I can even try to make us a Mezmekzeeb. Just don’t ask me what’s in it,” she said, and resumed drinking.
Hugh finally finished apologising to each and every fae he had inadvertently upset with his startling announcement and, spotting Akane and Abel re-enter the room, made his way over to the returned - and increasingly inebriated - pair.
“What ho what ho! Any sign of her great duchessship? Are the cat lady and th’other feller with her now?”
Nyano finally makes it back to the great hall, along the way he’s changed his spear back into a boomerang. He’d had to take a detour to deposit the poisoner in the cells and so missed all the commotion in here.
Seeing Hugh over by Abel and Akane he heads over.
“Is everything ok? I’ve taken the prisoner to the cells, do I need to tell the guards to look out for a drunken aardvark?”
Akane muttered, “The only drunk aardvarks at the end of this are going to be me and Abel…” she cleared her throat. “The Duchess is fine. The only thing that happened tonight is that we got played, quite badly. If you’d be willing, please keep the prisoner in the cells till tomorrow so that I can ask him some questions as well, and see if it gets us anywhere…” she said, downing another drink and hoping that she’d lose consciousness soon, and yet still be able to interrogate tomorrow with a hangover….
“Oh, yes, Hugh, you asked after Cain and Ilandra. Well, they’re not with the Duchess, they’re just taking a rest for a bit. Yes. Something like that. Anyway, have an aardvark,” said Abel, thrusting a suspicious drink into Hugh’s hands.
Akane glared at Abel a bit, and feigned a drunken sway in order to conceal stomping on his foot. “I suspect you’re just jealous that you don’t have anything equally…constructive to do with your time,” she smirked, and then added a jucidious “Hic!” in order to keep up the drunk act. After all, it would cease to be an act soon enough…or so she hoped, moving on to the night’s third Aardvark.
((OOC: And ladies and gentlemen, Akane does not have my tolerance. She probably won’t need someone to hold her hair, but someone to carry her might become necessary…))
Sounds suddenly from out of the side servants entrances, and shocked fae scattered to the sounds of, “YOU ARE HERE!” as a giant red arrow could be seen rising and pointing to a spot just out of site down the passage. Moments later Gustafssen walked happily through the fading arrow happily saying to himself,
“If is nice to see that they are still working without maintenance and still provide perfect navigation around the castle.” Then approaching the group of clustering nobles he said, “Guten Tag. Oh and I can happily say that the substance is not toxic, especially not for those of a fungous nature. I was told that perhaps my services might be needed here. Is this true?”
StorytellerOC: Temporarily playing Hugh for him, at Mark's request --Ian
“Well, old chap,” said Hugh to Gustafssen, “I dare say you’ve already well justified your presence. Two opinions being better than one and whatnot, I think we can safely say that there’s no reason to assume that the ‘poison’ will harm us.”
“Ahhhh Gut, Gut. I am glad to know that I am appreciated. Now what is the reason for the consumption of such mixtures of drink? The schˆne Dameherzogin hasn’t been hiding ice cream in her Corsetry again? That was most defiantly ein schreckliches und in hohem Grade erleuchten Zeit f¸r alle, die sahen. ”
[Private to GM: Translation: 1) Beautiful lady dutchess 2) Both a terrible and highly enlightening time for all who saw. ]
Akane stared at Doctor Gustaffsen. Oops. I’d forgotten how…eccentric he is. They are? I don’t know… She groaned. An’ he still expects us to compre…compre…understand German. Her mind was vaguely fuzzy.
“Hello, Doctor Gustaffsen. I trust your enquiries in the kitchen went well…? We came to the same conclusions here,” she responded, enunciating as clearly as possible to prevent slurring her words. “It wasn’t poisonous at all. And we feel fairly stupid. We’re drinking Aardvarks because we’d like to get very very drunk now.”
There was a lot more she wanted to rant about, like how they’d all been played for fools by someone planting a “poison” that was harmless, leading to concerned medics sticking their fingers up the throats of many of House Poppy’s noble guests, pissing off Regara twice in one night, and winding up buried to their necks in conspiracies galore; but she hadn’t spent decades as a detective without learning how to keep her mouth shut whilst drunk.
So instead she summarized it all in one pithy statement that most of the assembled guests would probably not understand: “My spider-senses are telling me things are gonna get meeeessy…” she drawled.
“Good Evening my dear,” Said the Scientist, taking her free hand in his and bowing over it, his heels clicking together in the finest Prussian traditions. “And yes, yes it took no time at all to work out once I had set such an astute and fine fruiting body of minds on the case. Which is why the bill was as high as it was.”
“Now my dear, I do believe that you have the advantage of me as I do not believe that we have been introduced. And perhaps if you believe things will be getting messy soon you would care to join me in my laboratory. It would be a simple thing to help cure you. Though I’m afraid to preserve your clothing you would need to strip to your bloomers.” Gently patting her hand he continues, his face slipping into one of far away nostalgia for times long gone and more frilly than today. “You are wearing bloomers I hope. Are they all frilly, and white, with neat little roses and bows sewn down the sides? Ahhhh I have not seen a pair such as those in many a year. And obviously were you to be wearing such a pair there would be little or no charges made as it would be simply my pleasure to investigate them… I mean your current malady.”
“I’m Akane Honeysuckle,” she responded. “Ilandra’s cousin. I’ve been away a while…hic! But stories do circulate. You’ve earned yourself quite a reputation for science,” she amended, diplomatically not mentioning what sort of stories had reached her ears. “But I’m afraid you can’t help me, Doctor - my malady is self-inflicted. And my underwear is not frilly. Nor any of your business,” she glared, and swayed slightly. This time it wasn’t feigned - she was definitely well past legal driving limit.
She poked Abel. “I have a very…very important job for you!” she announced. “You need to make sure nobody tries to ‘cure’ me and when I drop uncon…pass out…that thingy, I’m not taken anywhere except to bed.”
((OOC and edit: She and Ilandra and the Poppy Princes grew up together, so I assumed she’d at least have heard of him, if not met him once or twice!))
As Ilandra walked down the hallway away from Cain’s room, she sighed contentedly. She got about halfway down the hall and slumped against a wall, enjoying the cool feel of the rock. She looked back at his room, hoping he would appear, he didn’t. Sighing deeply again she got up and walked the rest of the way into the main hall.
maybe I wasn’t as good as he expected me to be… or maybe he’s trying to avoid people thinking less of me. He’s so sweet… I should try and act non-chalant…
In the main hall, the guests were treated to a view of a very dishevelled, messy haired Ilandra. Her shirt buttoned haphazardly and her walk weaving from side to side as she drunkenly tried to compensate for the slippery floor. Every once in a while she slipped over, but mostly she swayed and hiccuped. She was also managing to fail at looking completely non-chalant to anyone that had known her previous whereabouts.
She looked around and spotted her cousin by the drinks table, so she broke into a run. Stopping and sliding about halfway there she announced to her cousin, “Wow, Akane! Your advice worked!” She fell at that point and re-emerged the other side of the table having slid underneath. “It worked! But I still feel shy when he comes near…” she said, taking Akane’s drink from her hand and drinking down most of it. “This stuff is funny tasting… what is it?” she asked.
“My lady Akane, We are pleasured to meet you. Though we are sorry to hear about your underwear deficiencies, these are hard times we know. But hopefully soon you will be once more able to feel the soft cottony goodness flowing freely against your skin. And should you ever wish to select new styles we are a dab hand with the terbo carrot spanner and can knock up a pair suitable for an heiress like yourself in no time at all.” This said his hand dipped into his lab coat pocket and settled a battered pair of spectacles upon his nose before turning to Abel. “Ahhhh Master Abel, Gr¸?e, Gr¸?e. I am glad to see such a fine young specimen under your care. But be sure to look after here better than that cabbage hound you had as a youngling, I had to build a whole new ventilation system for the east tower after that little game of yours.”
This said his gaze scanned back over Akane and out across the varied vistas of the banqueting hall a slightly far away expression once more coming to his face. The sight of the duchess honeysuckle skidding under a table not phasing him at all.
Akane blinked as her drink was appropriated. “You really shouldn’t have drunk that…” she managed to say, repossessing what was left of her drink and depositing it safely away from Ilandra - in her stomach. “It contains a lot of alcohol you don’t really wanna think about. Scotch. And Aardvark. We’re not quite surehow they make the Aardvark stuff - that’s why we drink it. Ignorance is bliss. Never drank the good Tequila again after I found out about the worms,” she rambled.
Then she blinked as her brain processed the sight of a dishivelled Ilandra, who had just downed most of an Aardvark (and, judging from Cain’s brief appearance, probably a good part of a bottle of wine as well).
“‘Course my advice works,” she said, very blandly. “He’s a guy and you’re a girl he likes. Question is, are you happy?”
Ilandra blushed and looked at the floor a bit then got up and whispered in her cousin’s ear. “We did it… you know? now I’m a grown up just like you.” Though unfortunately, it wasn’t a whisper. Ilandra realised this and then put her finger to her lips and went “Shh!! Shh!!” for a good 30 seconds, before explaining to the invisible amplifying machines that she was trying to speak to Akane, thank you very much, hic.
She looked at the table and noticed a bottle that said “Bailey’s Irish Cream”.
I like cream, maybe it’ll calm me down a bit, it’s not like Bailey will mind…
She picked the bottle up, vaguely aware the room was starting to spin and necked half of it, emitting a further round of hiccups after.
“Okay, Ilandra, seriously, no more drinks!” Akane admonished, grabbing the Bailey’s (and taking a sip). Whaaat, I can take it, this isn’t nearly as bad as the time when I was stuck in the airport bar waiting for the next connecting flight to arrive in eight hours! “You’ve had more than enough, and if you don’t stop, you’re going to get even more dizzy,” she said, steadying her cousin. “You should have some water, though.”
“You don’t need to do that to be a grown-up, although that’s sometimes part of it. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself, and not be sorry the day after. Which is why you really shouldn’t have anymore alcohol.”
((Crap, sorry, totally missed the response from the Underwear Appreciation Society…I seriously need to get some sleep, heh.))
Hugh held the drink, looking worried and muttered, apparently to himself.
“So they faked a poisoning, got everyone hot and bothered for a good five minutes, all so they - whoever they are, just so they could have a jolly laugh at our expense?
They’re not very familiar with our history if they think this will embarrass us though. There has to be something else. Someone has to have gained something…”
He did a quick headcount of the figures in the room, checking for anyone else who should have been there and wasn’t. Or was there whom he didn’t recognise.
Having surveyed the room and the many and varied styles of underwear on view to those in the know Gustafssen let out a small disappointed sigh. “Nicht ein einzelnes. Nicht einzelnes schˆn gepre?tes und gen‰htes.” Taking his glasses off and replacing them in his coat he turns to his companions as a spark of interest and life returning to his eyes and says, “My friends, unless there is anything else of import we’re afraid we must take our leave. We have a great and troubling erection that is in need of investigation and study.”
Whilst the others were busy discussing the merits of alcohol as applied to varied metabolisms, a tuft of spiky purple hair appeared around the corner of one of the hall’s minor doors, followed shortly by eyes of the same hue that flicked back and forth in quick succession.
Once Cain was sure no-one was paying too much attention to him he snuck into the room, closing the door gently behind him, then sidled over to a nearby group and attempted to socialise, hoping that no-one would commend on the dishevelled appearance and strange marks on his neck…
Meanwhile, Abel made his way over to speak with Hugh more privately. “Ah, we have been thinking about that,” he said. “The poisoning certainly had at least two levels of complexity to it - by which I mean that no-one would expect us to believe we were the target of an enemy too incompetent to use a real poison, and thus there is something more complicated at work.
“What is perhaps more of an issue is the Black Rose Committee - they are more likely to pose a threat than whatever this poison was, and thus there are a number of us who are taking action. Ostensibly, we aim to pose as persons who have significant influence over the decisions made regarding our House, and the Honeysuckles’, and thus attempt to gain as much information from them with as little commitment on our part as possible.”
Looking a little perkier, if extremely unsteady Ilandra fixed Gustafssen with a drunken look.
“You can have my bloomers… Abel took them away earlier.” she informed him, rather louder than intended.
“Master Abel my young friend, we never knew you were interested in the finer things in life. Perhaps you would care to join me sometime in a viewing of my collection.” He said giving the prince a knowing wink before turning to Ilandra and continuing. “we are much obliged to you young Duchess, they will join the pride of my collection. If you would care to have them sent down to my laboratory we will have them mounted and placed in the collection immediately.”
“Well quite young man. The Black Rose may well be … a batch of burned cakes. But we know why the kitchen smells of burning carbon and we can start work on a fruit salad - as you say, we can do something about it. And you are.
The fake poison… That is the faint, lingering smell of rotten meat. We don’t know where it comes from, what it has contaminated, even what harm it could do. Worse, we don’t know whether it has already slipped into a tasty dish!
How can we know Black Rose, a bunch of powerless pacificistic poultroons, are more of an issue when we don’t know anything about the ‘poison’?”
“I appreciate your concern,” Abel replied to Hugh, “but I confess I do feel that a megalomaniacal Machiavellian machine attempting to upturn the balance of Faerie politics may be approaching the level of importance of, or even, dare I say it, on par with the horrific consequences of several slightly salty dishes.”
Ilandra swayed a little, hiccuped and walked over to the purple haired cute guy. (I say walked, I mean weaved) Having reached him she jumped onto his back and wrapped arms and legs around him.
“Cain, they have irish cream, it belongs to Bailey but I’m sure he won’t mind if you try some… it’s really rather nice… much like you. hic Also, Gustafssen wants to frame my bloomers but your brother stole them… what do I do?” she said in the general direction of his head… well, the one head that wasn’t moving a lot.
She kissed his neck and jumped back down, grabbing his hand and propelling him towards the drinks table. On the way she saw a familiar face (Duke Willow), she pointed and narrowed her eyes “YOU!” she demanded in as regal a tone as she could. “What house do you come from, damnit!”
Nyano tugs at Abel’s sleeve until the prince looks down.
“Perhaps the poison jar might know more, do you think you could interrogate it for me?”
“The man who gave it to the poisoner was called Indigo Something, perhaps he said something useful that the jar overheard. Even if we can just find out where he got the jar it tells us something about him. So finding out how the jar got to Faerie would be helpful.”
“Of course it is possibly just a minor plot on their part to distract us from paying too much attention to them. But there is little your wheeze requires you to do at the moment, for surely they must approach you individually before you can start to lead them astray. That being the case, would it not be better to know for sure that the poison - incidentally young man, it will have made the food noticably bitterer, not saltier - did indeed have no dark purpose?”
The target of Ilandra’s outburst looked down at her and smiled. “Willow, my dear. Say, you look a little the worse for wear, young lady. Are you in trouble, perhaps, something with which I can help you?”
Meanwhile, Abel was busy agreeing with Hugh and Nyano.
“Indeed, you both make good points. If one of you has the bottle about his person, I say we should go and investigate. I would advise somewhere more secluded than the great hall, however - perhaps my room?”OC: Knackered desu. Ref service will resume tomorrow!
The man she now knew as Duke Willow appeared to be swaying sickeningly.
“Please stop moving while I’m trying to talk to you, it’s very rude.” she staggered over and tried to stop him swaying. “Also, could you make the room stop spinning, it’s rather disc- dis- weird.”
As the general hubbub in the banqueting hall continued Gustafssen gathered his scientific compatriots from their various places in the castle by simply pressing the ‘To work!’ button on his wrist watch. This done he slipped out of the hall and headed to his laboratory.
Akane had been left standing and staring at the Bailey’s bottle thoughtfully when Ilandra ran off to find Cain. Deciding that she was no longer needed here (and probably didn’t want to be around after her cousin polished off more of the alcohol), she made her way over to Abel, Nyano and Hugh carefully, finding that weaving amongst the guests required less effort than walking in a straight line from point A to point B.
I think they’re plotting. Okay, I can do that. I’ve had to get enough people drunk (and incidentally drink myself) to get information out of them… She took a deep breath and began restoring logic to her thought patterns. Sober it is. Burning a Willpower in order to be both drunk AND coherent...
“I appear to have a choice between having my underwear stolen, restraining Ilandra, or sobering up and plotting. I’ve decided on sober, even if it is a waste of good alcohol.”
Akane’s admission confused Nyano. “I didn’t know that scotch Aardvarks are good alcohol. I’ll have to remember that for when we get my father back, he likes good alcohol, though I don’t know if he likes aardvark. But I’m confused, how do you distill an aardvark? and don’t the other aardvarks get angry at you if you do it?”
“Anyway, we were just about to go somewhere private and interrogate this.” Nyano brandishes the poison bottle, thinking that it was a good thing that he’d decided to keep custody of it.
“An interrogation?” Akane perked up visibly; she didn’t put down the Bailey’s bottle, but she stopped drinking. That’s for later. I’ll take the time to Deal With Stuff after this Black Rose thing is sorted out…
“I can certainly help with an interrogation,” she grinned. “That’s certainly something worth sobering up for.”
“Well then,” said Abel to those who had gathered with investigative intent. “Shall we go?”OC: Separate thread, peeps!
Over on the other side of the room, Ilandra’s conversation with Duke Willow was going swimmingly. As was the room itself.
“My dear, I’m afraid I cannot help that myself,” said the Duke. “Though incidentally, I have heard it said amongst the young lords and ladies that if you drink an exact equal amount to that which you have already drunk, the room will spin equally in the opposite direction and thus your vision will retain clarity and your movement will be unimpeded.”
Ilandra raised a finger as if to say “good point” but upon letting go of the shoulder she found gravity was getting the better of her. Falling slowly to the right hand side, she said “why are you tilting like that? please stop.”
With a fluid grace that belied the co-ordination skills traditional for a man of his dimensions, Duke Willow bent down and caught Ilandra, bringing her up to chest height in his arms.
“Now now, my lady, please be careful!”
If the man were to have been grinning any wider, one might almost have expected the top of his head to have fallen off!
Ilandra noticed the fact her feet were in sight, she also noticed the Duke’s arms holding her up. She looked confused.
“Oh! Did I fall over? hic” she asked. Then, because her alcohol saturated brain told her gratitude was a good idea, she hugged him. “My hero!”
Cain had been peering out from his cluster of socialites every minute or so, just to check Ilandra was okay before rejoining the conversation. This time, however, he was stunned to see Ilandra in the arms of one of Fairyland’s most notorious creepy old men.
He was just about to stride confidently over when Ilandra loudly and drunkenly declared the Duke to be her hero. Instead, he freaked out and hid behind the table, sneaking slowly towards the two of them until he was close enough to hear what they were talking about.
Ilandra looked around, sure that Cain was bound to be somewhere worrying about her.
“You can put me down now hic I think I just need some more to drink…” she told the Duke.
“Very well, my lady,” said the Duke. “Would you like me to accompany you to the drinks tables, in case you should so unbalance again?”
“I think… yes… I can’t find Cain… I’m sure he’d help hic oth- other hic wise…” she said.
The Duke put her down and helped her to the table. She looked up and down the table for orange juice… and saw some, just beyond her reach. Leaning over the table to get at it, her foot slipped and she went crashing down amongst the other alcohol.
well… now I’m down herrre… I might as well help myself…
She drank down the jug of orange juice, only to find it was rum punch. So she moved on to a carton that read “orange juice”, which she duly necked.
“I, er…” began the Duke, suffering a rare occurrence of loss of words as he looked down at Ilandra, barely conscious amidst smashed bottles and puddles of booze.
“I, er… I think I ought to call one of your medic folks.” Duke Willow disappeared with some haste, and returned with a Honeysuckle nurse to find Cain standing protectively over Ilandra.
“I blame you for this,” he said, pointing accusingly at the Duke and glaring with eyes ablaze. “Stay away from her.”
Ilandra was vaguely aware that there was some commotion going on above her.
“Cain…?” she tried to say, but whispered instead. It hurt to keep her head up, and her eyelids were quite heavy but she was damned if she was going to fall asleep when she still hadn’t found him.
C’mon Ilandra, you’ve stayed awake for days before… remember? This time, no-one’s dying, but we just have to stay awake… You can do it!
She rallied her strength up a little, and looked around hazily.
I’m sure there was water around here somewhere…
“Ah,” said the Duke, “and you would be her knight in sh- in tattered waistcoat? Then I am glad to pass her care on to one who has even greater concern for her safety than myself.”
The Duke bowed deeply to Cain, then turned and walked away. Not once did he make eye contact with the Prince, though Cain’s stare bore deeply into the Duke’s back as he departed.
did he just insult Cain? I think he did… do I have to defend his honour now?
The nurse looked down at her duchess and shrugged. “Give her one of these, she’ll sober up in no time… oh and whatever you do, don’t mention her family. People tend to be more emotional when drunk, I assume Ilandra’s no exception.” the nurse told him, an eyebrow raised. “Oh, and go thank the other man, it’s only fair after all he did look after her until she collapsed onto the table… which may I just point out is mostly due to the ridiculous trousers she wears.”
Having said her piece the nurse walked off, leaving Cain with an alka seltzer-like capsule in his hand and a little instruction saying ‘dissolve in water’.
Ilandra had mostly heard “…don’t mention family…” out of all the nurse had said, she couldn’t help it, her lip was starting to wobble of it’s own accord. She gave in and started sobbing quietly.
Cain thanked the nurse and turned to Ilandra, who was sobbing quietly.
“Oh, Ilandra…” he said, “Let’s get you out of here…”
Cain pocketed the pill, picked Ilandra up gently from the ground and held her close to him.
He caught the attention of the nearest servant, and signalled for him to follow the couple and bring a glass of water. One his newfound minion had filled a glass, Cain carried Ilandra off in the direction of the bathrooms.
Once there, Cain sat Ilandra down and supported her as best he could.
“Here, take this,” he said, taking the glass of water from the servant, dropping the tablet in, and placing it in Ilandra’s unresisting hand.
Ilandra wiped her eyes and looked up earnestly at Cain.
“…Honour… must defend…” she managed, between sobs. She looked at the glass in her hand and rapidly necked it, making a funny face afterwards.
now I must go defend Cain… She got up and wandered out of the bathroom, swaying a lot less than she had been, her mind focused on yelling at the Duke.
“Ilandra!” Cain called out into the corridor. “Ilandra, come back!”
He followed his fiancee from the room.
“Come back, Ilandra! We still need to clean you up and find you some dry clothes!”
Ilandra took no heed, Princes never knew when their honour needed to be defended…
She went back in to the hallway, looking extremely grumpy (her head was beginning to hurt) and walked straight up to the medics. Snatching up the decoy, she told Hippocrates that some people needed to learn manners. Her cheeks were still slightly tear stained, and her shirt was going see-through from the dampness.
Stupid white shirt, oh well, not much I can do about it now.
She walked up to the duke, decoy in hand and patted him on the shoulder.
“You need to apologise to Cain or I’ll put some icky stuff in this syringe.” she told him sternly. She was vaguely aware that he was looking more at her chest than the 6 foot syringe in her hands, but that was opf no consequence right now, she had defending to do.
“My dear, I do apologise if I have caused any offense to you by my actions, but I assure you I had your best interests at heart. As for your young man, I do not see how I could possibly have offended him.”
Ilandra looked confused. “But he’s a guy, guys get really offended when you mock their outfits, right?” she said, thoughtfully. “I’m sorry, my mistake. Tell you what, I’ll arrange a date for you with a beautiful nurse to make up for my behaviour tonight… it’s the least I could do.” Without waiting for his answer, she turned to the medics and called out “HEY, SUSIE!”
A tall, amazonian beauty came out from within the tangle of medics, discarding the full body overalls she’d been wearing to reveal a very tight nurse’s dress. She's a tree-nymph, appearance 5... She walked over to Ilandra and bowed deeply. “How may I help you, my duchess?” she asked in a voice that resembled the breeze running through trees in summer.
Ilandra gestured to Duke Willow, and informed Susie “This is Duke Willow, I’ve noticed he has no date for tonight and you mentioned how you wished for a nice gentleman to take care of you.”
She then turned to Duke Willow and told him, “This is Susie, she’s from House Mandrake and is extremely lonely at the moment. Would you please take care of her, just like you have of me?” Having said that, she curtsied and left the two of them together, with Susie smiling shyly at the Duke.
well, hopefully they should get along just fine
The rather surprised Duke Willow’s gaze rose slowly to Susie’s face.
“Er, Susie, was it? I do apologise for the Duchess’ rudeness. This situation was somewhat unexpected. Do take a seat,” he said, offering her a chair before fetching one for himself.
“But do tell me, my lady,” he said as they sat, “why do you find yourself lonely at such a vibrant occasion?”
Susie looked into his eyes, her eyes reflecting slight sadness. “My previous lover was killed in battle. It saddens me that people still fight, but there is nothing I can do. I asked my duchess if she would find me a man, much like hers, so I would have someone who would not run off to battle. Now I’m glad, because I don’t have a soldier to worry about.” she smiled and most of the men in the room melted a little.
Across the room, Ilandra was smiling to herself, confident that she would suffer no negative repercussions from having potentially offended a Duke.
“There, there,” said the Duke, gingerly patting Susie on the arm with his rough hands. “Then I’m sure you’l feel better soon. Sadness is one thing, but the worry that you’re free of will before long seem like a great weight lifted from you.”
Susie was overjoyed by this, she smiled at the Duke and leaned over to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Let’s go take a walk in the gardens, the evening seems such a gorgeous one and I tend to prefer solitude when getting to know someone new.” she told him, blushing slightly.
“Certainly,” said the Duke. “I would be honoured to accompany you.”
The Duke stood, and proffered his hand to Susie. She took his hand and stood alongside him, and the two of them made their way out of the main building into the castle gardens.
Ilandra looked around the main hall, to see if she could find Cain. He wasn’t there. She went out in to the corridor, he wasn’t there either. She walked back into the room, picked up an untouched bottle of irish cream and went off in search of her fiancee…
She eventually found him in his room, staring at the ceiling. She walked over and kissed him, wondering if married life would be the same. Then putting the irish cream down, morphed into a cat and took position on his chest.
The party continued without further commotion, long into the night, until it fragmented as parties are wont to do. Noble after noble drifted off to their rooms, individually or in groups, long after the servants had vanished and left the room clear. Shortly before the early Spring dawn, the last of the guests left for bed. The few remaining torches burnt themselves out behind him, and the banquet hall fell into silence and darkness.OC: day++;