[15:06:35] * Oxford changes topic to 'Re: Request for clipping, 7/4/36'
[15:12:21] <~Oxford> Elsa sits at her desk. The log-cabin walls of her office let off a rich, oaky scent as they warm up in glow of the morning sun. On the desk are a lamp, a magnifying glass, and an envelope of freshly-arrived newspaper clippings.
[15:14:08] <~Oxford> The envelope, as well as the steaming mug of coffee by the corner of the desk, came courtesy of Sella, who brought them up with the mail as part of her regular routine. The clippings are from a Cimbrian newspaper overseas.
[15:16:34] * Elsa stares at the Cimbrian newspaper clippings, realizing that she can't atually speak it, much less read it. "…maybe theres a picture of her somewhere." She says before dumping 8 spoonfulls of sugar along with a significant amount of milk into her coffee.
[15:22:45] <~Oxford> The milk makes cloudy white swirls against the black coffee, expanding and mixing until it reaches a uniform tan. The first clipping of the article is just a single column summary for the front page, but the second has a grainy photograph of a man in fine clothes snipping a thick ribbon with a giant pair of scissors. The crowd in the background appear to be clapping enthusiastically.
[15:23:56] <~Oxford> Aside from the man with the scissors, their faces are hard to make out immediately.
[15:24:14] * Elsa looks at the crowd more closely, looking for Flauri and Donalds.
[15:28:30] * Elsa looks REALLY HARD
[15:31:39] <~Oxford> The magnifying glass hovers over the crinkled page, scanning across the faces of the crowd. She notices one figure towering over the others - a man head-and-shoulders taller than the rest of the crowd. The photograph is too blurry to make out the details of his face, aside from his thick grey mustache. And on his shoulders sits a small, frail girl with long, black hair.
[15:35:13] * Elsa squints aharder, "Thats gotta be them…gotta find out what this place is before I go looking for them." She takes a drink of coffee and winces, still bitter after all that sugar. "Or I could find a Cimbran to albean dictionary."
[15:39:26] * Elsa stands up and stretches confident taht with the information Stranahan gave her, if this is an orphanage or something like that she might have hit jackpot.
[15:41:13] <~Oxford> The headline of the article reads: "Nye børnehjem åbner i Aarjerg." A full translation can probably be gotten either through a comrade who speaks Cimbrian, or at worst by way of dictionary.
[15:47:40] * Elsa decides to struggle with the dictionary, is better if she doesn't leave someone knowing where she might be going. After several minutes of struggling with the unfamiliar language she gets a result. "Orphanage…opens? in Aarjerg?" She smiles at the realization and decides to call it a day. Time to give Chelsea a visit!
[15:50:30] <~Oxford> The old photography blackroom is seperated from the rest of the lodge by a heavy felt curtain and a rotating wooden door.
[15:54:04] * Elsa knocks on the door, ready to tell Chelsea about everything in the day, like she always does, not many of the other girls really bother enough to visit her and those that do still find her too weird to be around, taht is if she doesn't kick them out of her room as they come in. "Chelsea, may I come in?"
[15:54:13] <~Oxford> Even as she approaches, Elsa can hear a strange thumping through the walls, muffled by the thick oak. The sound comes a few times a minute, without any consistent pattern or interval. It is a noise akin to a sack of potatoes being tossed into the back of a truck.
[15:55:59] <~Oxford> There's no answer from the other side, but after a moment of silence another thump, louder this time through the thinner door.
[15:56:11] * Elsa is immediately worried about that, given that its coming from Chelsea's room. She forgoes any sort of formality and opens the second door to her room. "Chelsea, whats going on? is something wrong?" She says as she walks into the room.
[16:01:07] <~Oxford> The inside is dim, lit only by the stab of filtered daylight that manages to slip in past the curtain and Elsa. The moment the light enters, there's a flurry of movement as something in a dirty white dress scampers to the far corner on four legs.
[16:03:38] * Elsa closes the door behind her and hurries to the girl tahts huddled in the corner. "Chelsea? Is something wrong? Should I go get a doctor?" She tries putting her hand on the girl's dirty shoulder, reminding herself that she needs to convince her to take a bath once in a while at least.
[16:05:10] <~Oxford> From behind a veil of tangled black hair, eyes glint sullenly up at the interloper. "Enterings prohibited: The Great and Mighty One feels icky," Chelsea says, tucking her knees up against her chest.
[16:07:44] <Elsa> "Well, too bad, I'm already here. Whats wrong? It isn't like you to be…like this. Its almost like you want to break down the walls and go out, when the sun is up." She says seriously. "What happened?" She keeps her hand on Chelsea's shoulder.
[16:12:30] <~Oxford> The girl rocks back and forth slightly on her heels. "Something gooey. Last night, the badderness of this place suddenly exceeded minimum non-badderness levels." She looks up at Elsa, lips pulled tight in a pout. "Can we leave, please?"
[16:16:35] <Elsa> "I…wish we could. If we do the Albean army would most likely hunt us down." Or do nothig at all like what happened to Flauri. "Is there anythign else I can do to make it feel better? What was that gooey thing like?" Something is definetly wron if Chelsea want to go away from the comfort of her room."
[16:24:14] <~Oxford> Chelsea looks away, and then scooches forward, alternatingly moving her feet and her bottom. She turns around until her back is facing Elsa, keeping the same upright-fetal position as before. Her voice wavers a little, but her tone is authoritative. "Provide brushings, then. No head-yanks allowed. Please," she adds, more softly.
[16:26:35] * Elsa has been in this room enough times to know its layout by heart, all those stubbed toes werent for nothing. She grabs the brush from its usual locations and begins brushing. "You know, if you brshed more often, head yanking wouldn't happen that often."
[16:30:15] <~Oxford> "But then my heavenly locks would loose their intricate knotting!" Chelsea protests, wiggling her shoulders. She seems to be calming down as Elsa works on her hair, the gentle feeling of the brush soothing away her fear.
[16:32:29] * Elsa smiles at her before saying, "Are you calm enough now to tell me what happened last night?" Brush brush, I'm worried because you don't like you want to go out of your room, unless its a new moon out."
[16:41:03] <~Oxford> "I was in the middle of my chelseanap, and I was having a sleepvision of these two Grand Dragons who were fighting over a beautiful princess. Her dress was even prettier than mine."
[16:41:09] <~Oxford> She taps her bare feet against the wooden floor and adds as an aside, "But that's just because dreamthings aren't real and don't have meddlesome washer-wenches sneaking them away from you and lyeing on them while you're not looking."
[16:43:58] <Elsa> "You'll get sick if you wear your clothes for too long." Elsa warns as she weakly flicks at Chelsea's back of the neck. "So what happened after that?"
[16:48:34] <~Oxford> "Oh, well then I woke up, because some knaveish woebegone kicked me in the stomach and dumped waterice on me. I tried to eat him, but he wasn't real." She lets out a soft pout, like a child whose mother won't let her have a lolli from the candy shop. "Still felt nausey and shivers, too."
[16:54:25] * Elsa doesn't really understand what she means by this other than that someone dumped ice water on her. "Well, maybe that part about waking up was still your dream and the feeling of iced water woke you up?" She says as she keeps brushing the tangled hair, "I mean, you're still pretty dry."
[16:56:14] <~Oxford> "That's because the water was too scared to stay wet," Chelsea says, but she sounds a little uncertain if that's really the best explanation.
[16:58:35] * Elsa shrugs and keeps brushing, "I found a lead to where one of my friends might be, the one where I made her something to keep her alive when the pendant…uhh ate her heart."
[17:00:35] <~Oxford> Chelsea nods. "Pendants are rav'nous beastieblocks. They'll try to eat you unless you eat them first."
[17:02:59] <Elsa> "Or you toss them into a volcano." Elsa says plainly, "I've seen that first hand, two in the same day…its scary."
[17:03:27] * Elsa stops brushing, "I don't really have to fight one of those if I can avoid it."
[17:05:07] <~Oxford> "One of those what?" Chelsea asks, and tilts her head so far down her hair sweeps the bare planks they sit on.
[17:07:02] <Elsa> "Pendant monsters, back when I was sent to Gaulia. I already told you about these things. They eat magic like a sponge eats water. Nothing I did worked."
[17:11:38] <~Oxford> "Hm-pah, hm-pah, hm-pah," says Chelsea, making what she seems to think is a thoughtful sound. "Sponges don't eat water. They just slurp-slurp on it so they can vomit it back on you when they're squeezed."
[17:13:02] <Elsa> "Fine…a thirsdy dog laps up water." Elsa says sounding a bit annoyed, "Better?"
[17:15:02] <~Oxford> "Maybe," Chelsea says, sounding a little disappointed all that hard thinking was for nought. "Pendants look less like dogs than sponges, though…"
[17:18:05] <Elsa> "They can loock different though, the one I saw was this big silverish beating mass that just kept growing and sucked up all my magic when I tried to attack it, and then we had to run away."
[17:23:50] <~Oxford> "It must be a true scarily, to have frightened my glowiest man-at-arms." Chelsea stands up and pads over to the bed, where she plops down and starts kicking her legs. "Chelsea wouldn't be enfeebled by that, though."
[17:25:19] <~Oxford> She seems to be feeling better, now. At the very least, Chelsea's distracted from what she was feeling earlier.
[17:27:16] <Elsa> "Maybe, but anyways, see? Youre much better now, it wasn't anything other than a nightmare. Just go to sleep, if you're still feeling tired." Elsa then grumbles, "I wish I could sleep as muuch too."
[17:33:55] <~Oxford> Chelsea pouts and tucks her legs up under her on the bed. She bobs up and down, bouncing on the mattress springs. "I don't need an elsanap. I wish to confer further with my loyal shieldberry." She sighs and flops back on the mattress. "But your dutiful duties beckon, don't they. Very well. I accept your proposal that I, your Prince and Ruler, am sleepy."
[17:35:55] * Elsa smiles and lets her sleep, with a quiet, "Sweet Dreams, Elsa is out of the pitch black room and again in the hallway." What the hell was that about anyways?
[17:37:50] <~Oxford> She finds out on the way back to her office. As she reaches for the doorknob, it suddenly opens, and Sella comes out, breathing heavily.
[17:40:58] <~Oxford> "Ah! I was, just, looking," she gasps, putting her hands on her knees, "for you." She takes a deep breath and straightens up. "Headquarters called. Didn't even wait for me to get you, just read it off to me and told me to take it to. Said you'd understand."
[17:41:19] * Elsa blinks in surprise, "What's wrong Sella? Are the Novs attacking us?" Theres no way the Novs could know about this place, but its still possible it could happen.
[17:47:23] <~Oxford> "No, it's," Sella clears her throat and glances down at a scrap of paper in her hand. "Ahem: 'At approximately 2300 hours last night, an incident occurred in the Southwood. It is believed to be similar to the incident in which you were involved in the Occupied Zone four months ago. You are ordered to report to Headquarters immediately for further instruction."
[17:48:15] <~Oxford> Sella blinks and offers Elsa the piece of paper, so she can read it for herself. "Does uh, that mean anything to you?"
[17:54:05] * Elsa pales as she hears the report and practically rips the paper off her hands and reads it herself. After verifying its contents she crushes it in her hands and the paper immediately combusts, all of it. Elsa is left staring at her hands. "Some god forsaken idiot either did something really stupid or that thing happened again." She looks up at her assistant, "Get me a car, now. I
[17:54:05] * Elsa need to go tell the old farts that I told them this would happen. And get me some pieces of paper, string, and some scissors."
[18:00:18] <~Oxford> "Yes, ma'am!" Sella says, instinctively snapping to attention. "Uh, what's all the stuff for, though?" she asks, sheepishly.
[18:02:44] <Elsa> "To make them feel more guilty for not listening to me after that happened."
[18:05:20] <~Oxford> "So you can-" Sella frowns, and then a look of understanding crosses her face. "Yes, ma'am! I'll have everything prepared at once."
[18:12:15] <~Oxford> /session
[18:08:05] * Oxford changes topic to 'Cremmwale to be Evacuated, by Order of Department of War'
[18:15:22] <~Oxford> During the night, the girls are awoken to the sound of howling winds and torrential rain driven hard against the windowpanes. Outside, the trees wrack and twist in the gale, heavy branches ripping from the trunks with a sharp crack. They sleep fitfully, tossing and turning throughout the night.
[18:18:16] <~Oxford> By the next morning, the wind has died down, and the rain is thinning to a persistent drizzle. The girls wake warm in their beds, but a chill draft blows through the halls of Wightshead.
[18:20:53] * Lily wakes for the first time since she CREATED A MONSTER, confused as fuck that she's in her bed and all fluffy and warm and nice.
[18:22:00] * Marina reacts much like anybody who'd just had the worst night in their life normally would, mulling over it in her bed for a few minutes, but then leaves, ready to make some morning tea and get these explanations over with.
[18:22:15] <Cloral> Loewin's door remains still and silent.
[18:24:34] <~Oxford> The hallway outside Marina's door is silent and still in the cold, wet morning. She seems to be the first one to awaken, or at least the first to venture outside the warmth of her room.
[18:26:14] * Bridget groans…and yawns. She's been…shamed ever since she was swallowed up. The poor girl's feeling apologetic, exceptionally so.
[18:26:39] * Lily pops open her door and heads downstairs to eat something!
[18:26:59] <Marina> "Mm." After making sure the kettle's on heat, Marina spends her time staring emptily down the hallway, unclear whether she's waiting for something or totally spacing out.
[18:35:04] * Lily searches the dining room for food 1,1and probably doesn't find Stranahan cooking anythign
[18:35:26] * Marina continues staring down the hallway.
[18:36:20] <~Oxford> Outside, the rain comes down in drops so small that, at a glance, it looks as if a gray veil hangs over the world. Rivulets run crisscrossing patterns along the seams in the pathstones, making their way down to the sea.
[18:39:17] <~Oxford> The dining room is deserted. The wide, east-facing windows that normally let in the morning sun today reveal only a landscape in dripping monotone.
[18:39:47] * Bridget yawns a bit again, getting on her daily clothing. She mmmfs. 's nae thae' baed. 's laek' 'er 'haem. Rainy, somewhat miserable…the works.
[18:40:17] * Lily frroooooowns, letting out a disappointed groan, and then runs upstairs to see if anyone's awake 1,1who knows how to cook, because she only knows how to gather berries and shit.
[18:42:30] * Marina walks downstairs as soon as Lily comes up in some kind of cycle, sitting down at the empty chairs in the dining room herself and sighing.
[18:44:37] * Lily notices Marina and jumps! "Ah, Marina what ahppeneed last night after I conked out is everyone okay did something bad happen I got the feeling something bad would happen but it seems like it went okay but I dunno'!"
[18:45:32] * Marina stops in her tracks and just staaaaaaaaares Lily in the face.
[18:45:37] <Marina> Staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare.
[18:45:45] * Bridget comes downstairs as well, somewhat relaxed looking. Relaxed Highlander girl.
[18:45:45] * Lily leans away a little. "Was…was it bad?"
[18:45:55] <Marina> "… Blevins."
[18:46:04] <Lily> "Mar. Tell."
[18:46:47] <~Oxford> The dining hall feels strangely foreign for a moment, without the rich aroma of fresh coffee brewing, the sound of bacon sizzling, and the welcoming presence of Maj. Stranahan.
[18:47:20] * Marina slowly brings a palm to her face and lets out a small sigh. "An explanation is in order, but not here. Could you see if Cloral's awake and come downstairs?"
[18:47:33] <Marina> "LeClair… is probably left alone for now."
[18:47:41] <Marina> +best
[18:48:26] <Lily> "Did she get hurt or something? I hope she's okay she'd better be okay!" She runs upstairs anyway and KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKS on Cloral's door.
[18:49:45] * Marina waits until the hippie girl already ran off before giving a delayed response that only Marina herself can hear. "Innocence is nice." … Well maybe Bridget can too.
[18:49:58] <Cloral> The door opens quickly, leaving the third KNOCK to kind of awkwardly THUD. The mighty midget appears in a nightgown, staring up at Lily with a welcoming smile. "Yes?" If Lily has any peripheral vision, she might noticed a stuffed lion toy on the bed.
[18:50:01] <Bridget> "Aye?"
[18:50:02] <Marina> "But I don't think it'll work this time."
[18:50:17] <Marina> "… Sorry, it's nothing."
[18:50:28] <Lily> "Meeting downstairs Cloral!"
[18:50:33] * Marina heads back to the dining room to get her delicious wake-up drink.
[18:50:38] <Lily> Then she dashes downstairs.
[18:52:42] * Cloral arrives shortly after the wild child, not bothering to change yet. She eyes Lily wearily before looking to Marina with a questioning glance. Or it would be if her mouth obeyed.
[18:53:39] * Lily sits at the table awaiting information. Gimmegimmegimme
[18:53:39] <Marina> "Good morning," Marina is sitting at the table and sipping her tea like nothing happened, or would be if her sharp tone didn't imply otherwise. But at least PART of it is still the same.
[18:53:44] * Bridget shovels back a rather large gulp of scotch.
[18:53:55] <Cloral> Presumably the equivalent glance while smiling is the kind you shoot to another adult when a kid is being ridiculous or otherwise amusing.
[18:54:31] <Cloral> "…have you told her yet?"
[18:54:44] <Marina> "I'm about to," she shakes her head and sets the cup down.
[18:54:57] <Marina> "Blevins."
[18:55:14] <Marina> "LeClair is in near-death condition."
[18:55:15] <Lily> "Tell me. Martell."
[18:55:44] * Lily 's eyes widen.
[18:55:48] <Lily> wiiiiiden.
[18:55:59] <Lily> A wideface D:
[18:56:05] <Marina> "What do you remember about last night?"
[18:56:25] <Marina> "Do you remember the monster that was created after you overexerted yourself? Anything about it?"
[18:56:52] <Lily> "I remember making sure the Nov didn't die! And then landing and feeling really bad and felt like something bad was gonna' happen and then having a nightmare and not waking up until now!"
[18:57:03] <Lily> "Monster?"
[18:57:14] <Marina> "That's accurate," Marina closes her eyes and sips her tea. "A nightmare did happen."
[18:57:28] <Cloral> "Technically I made sure the Nov didn't die. You committed light treason."
[18:58:06] <Lily> "War doesn't mean you have to kill people, just make sure they're scared to fight you!"
[18:58:08] <Marina> "The Major…" After a pause, she turns to Cloral questioningly. "You haven't seen her this morning, have you?"
[18:58:29] * Marina slams a fist on the table. "Shut up, Blevins! That isn't what war is at all."
[18:58:55] <Marina> The fist shakes a bit before grabbing her teacup. She promptly takes a much larger sip than usual.
[18:59:06] <Lily> Glaaaare. "Is too. It's jsut easier to kill people than it is to capture them or restrain them!"
[18:59:37] <Bridget> "Nae. War be abaet kaellin' tha' other' bastard 'before 'e kaels yae."
[18:59:48] <~Oxford> The room is dimly lit, the only light what's coming through the thick clouds outside. The patter of the rain makes every noise sink into the background, like a radio show coming through over static.
[18:59:49] * Cloral casts the questioning glance this time. "Blevins does have a point. Killing is cheap, prisons are not."
[19:00:06] <Lily> "Or putting him in a cell, there's not a difference in overall effect, only that killing is easier!"
[19:00:10] <Marina> "Being a soldier means following orders. The Major was understandably cross at you for taking prisoner when we weren't asked to."
[19:00:48] <Marina> "From a moral standpoint, what you did might've been right. But the consequences of the effort you put through to spare that one life…"
[19:00:55] <Cloral> "Technically, we were never explicitly ordered to kill or not to take prisoners…" The words leap out from gritted teeth.
[19:01:23] <Marina> "… There were a lot of orders that were unclear."
[19:01:24] <Bridget> "Aye, 's aren't aged. If yae can' dae' aet, gaed. If nae…"
[19:01:32] <Marina> "Do you want to continue, or should I?"
[19:02:14] <Bridget> "Yae' caen."
[19:02:45] <Cloral> "…Bridget, is there some combination of your refined voice and your…gibberish that you can muster?"
[19:02:47] <Lily> "What happened to Henriette!"
[19:02:54] <Bridget> "Nae."
[19:03:04] <Bridget> "n' 's nae gibberish!"
[19:03:16] <Marina> "Your 'spawn' seriously injured her."
[19:03:28] <Lily> "My what."
[19:03:28] * Marina looks left and right, "And you two, stop bickering. This isn't the time."
[19:03:32] <Lily> "I had a baby?"
[19:03:42] <Lily> "How long has it been?"
[19:03:52] <Marina> "It seems so. She even considered you her mother," Marina says while quirking a brow.
[19:04:05] <Marina> She's just… desperately trying to tone out Lily's dumb words and only hear the less-dumb ones.
[19:04:14] <Lily> "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat"
[19:04:17] <Cloral> "To be more specific, Henri opted to fight a fight that may have been unavoidable, and after an initial thrashing when we were afforded the ability to leave safely, she struck irrationally and dangerously, injuring herself in the process."
[19:04:20] <Marina> The frustration on her face shows it isn't working very well. She spends a moment drinking more tea.
[19:04:47] <Lily> "Nononono go back to the baby I don't undersand"
[19:05:00] <Marina> "It's thanks to those 'morals' of yours, Blevins, that she's still alive now. But it's also thanks to those morals that she's as close to death as she could possibly be."
[19:05:12] <Cloral> "It was…more like…imagine if your shadow came alive and attacked people."
[19:05:22] <Lily> "What."
[19:05:29] <Marina> "It must've been born from your thoughts."
[19:05:32] <Lily> "My shadow went around hurting people?"
[19:05:41] <Cloral> "Literally, no, effectively, yes."
[19:05:45] <Marina> "A manifestation of how you overexerted your magic, I suppose."
[19:05:59] <Lily> "Oh, oooooh."
[19:06:20] <Lily> "So it was like when you and Bridget fought each other…"
[19:06:27] <Cloral> "It was basically your ideals to their extreme, warped even."
[19:06:46] <Marina> "Only more extreme than that. Once our duel was resolved, we came to our senses."
[19:06:47] <Bridget> "Aye, 's nae a gaed thang."
[19:06:49] <Marina> "Well… I did."
[19:06:54] <Bridget> "Oi."
[19:07:00] * Marina coughs once and takes another sip.
[19:07:04] <Bridget> Bridget gives Marina a glare without any real venom.
[19:07:11] <Bridget> Which fades into a smile a moment later.
[19:07:23] <Marina> "There wasn't any lasting damage from that, is my point, MacDonald."
[19:07:37] <Marina> She looks away from Bridget, maybe half-blushing.
[19:08:24] <Cloral> "Technically, your duel was not resolved."
[19:08:52] <Marina> "It was when one side wasn't able to fight anymore- but that's not the point."
[19:08:58] <Lily> "So wait, I made another me that was like me but wasn't and beat you guys up?"
[19:09:11] <Marina> "… That's one way to put it."
[19:09:15] <Cloral> "That's an interruption. But…yes, Lily. Technically, we struck first. Rashly."
[19:09:48] <Marina> "Once she was formed, our orders were to eliminate her. And we'd… do that at any cost," she says the last part with a grimace.
[19:09:52] <Bridget> "Aye."
[19:11:38] <Lily> "So what happened? What was she like? How'd she hurt Henriette?"
[19:12:47] <Marina> "How to phrase it… she was a much more composed, serious version of yourself. Which would have been pleasant if she weren't bent on destroying everything manmade and 'saving' the world according to her delusions. At least, that was what I gathered from her."
[19:13:59] <Lily> She frowns. "If I had been there, maybe we could've talked it out! ….oh well, um, go on!"
[19:14:11] <Cloral> "Actually, Martel, I believe our actual orders were somewhat interrupted by static, and 'capture' may have been a possibility, as we were only ordered to engage at will to remove the threat. Combat was not the only option."
[19:14:15] <Marina> "Her magic power, supposedly, was stronger than all of ours combined. She refused to kill us, but continued to fight, causing injuries… like what she did to LeClair." By the way it's worth mentioning that Marina put an effort to wear clothing that covers her back.
[19:15:17] <Marina> "If we had left, the target would have fled," she takes another sip and turns to Cloral, with a stoic face. "That would have been defying orders."
[19:15:55] <Cloral> "Ah, I forget you're uncultured, presumably you don't understand a word is as strong as a fist?"
[19:16:38] <Marina> "Uncultured," sip. "I don't understand what you're getting at, or did you ignore my attempts to persuade her?"
[19:17:35] <Marina> "She was just as stubborn as she was powerful."
[19:18:07] <Cloral> "I imagine for one such as you, a few veiled insults with clear intent ARE an attempt at persuasion, the same a thug might 'persuade' a shop-owner to donate to his cause. Similarly, I imagine pawning off all blame on another is something such a thug would do."
[19:18:24] <Lily> "Hey! Hey!"
[19:18:29] <Lily> "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fighting!"
[19:18:37] * Marina takes another sip.
[19:18:56] <Cloral> "Why, dear Blevins, no fist was raised."
[19:19:04] <Marina> "Why are you trying to start a fight? I asked her questions to gauge her motivations."
[19:19:08] <Marina> "They did nothing."
[19:19:09] <Lily> "Verbal fighting."
[19:19:35] <Marina> "I don't know what you're thinking, but there isn't any way to go back and change what happened now."
[19:20:59] <Cloral> "I'm thinking that playing with fire is something even an infant knows to avoid, Martel." She spits the girl's name out.
[19:21:46] <Marina> "If you think we were able to have done anything differently, you're sorely deluded. If I didn't 'experiment' like I did, she would have escaped and possibly injured us even more than we had been."
[19:21:53] * Lily slams her hands on the table, pouting. "I said no fighting! I get that you guys are really upset about what happened last night and I screwed up really badly but I still don't know how badly!"
[19:21:56] <Marina> "After all, all she cared about was that we weren' completely dead."
[19:22:18] * Marina grabs her teacup and lifts it again, the grip shaking.
[19:22:21] <Marina> "Blevins."
[19:22:47] <Marina> "Maj. Stranahan is missing. We don't know if she's coming back."
[19:23:00] <Lily> She sits down.
[19:23:51] <Cloral> "Bridget here could have had her spine shattered, and here she is just fine. I should think that's testament enough that the shade did not intend to hurt us more than we forced her to. She inherited enough of Lily's ideaology that we may have been able to apply logic to her motivations to defeat her."
[19:24:27] <Bridget> "….Aye…'s nae aged." The girl's been quiet, staring down. "Aye. 's…mae' fault 'fer gaettan' caut"
[19:24:43] * Marina takes a couple more sips and leaves her eyes closed. "All of you, listen to me."
[19:25:15] <Marina> "I know what I did was foolish in hindsight. But I did something that taught us something I feel we deserve to know."
[19:25:34] <Bridget> "Aye?"
[19:25:44] * Marina cracks the eye in Cloral's direction open. "I'm going to explain it to them, unless you want to."
[19:25:45] <Cloral> "Don't put expensive equipment on volatile material?"
[19:26:13] <Lily> She keeps quiet and listens. scowling at Cloral's sarcasm but otherwise waiting for Marina to SPIT IT OUT
[19:30:46] <Marina> "When Instructor Elsa visited, she was terrible at keeping secrets, for starters."
[19:31:09] <Marina> "Some of the things she let spill gave me an idea. Particularly, that 'magic' may come from multiple sources."
[19:32:17] <Bridget> "Aye?"
[19:33:47] <Marina> "I had no chance to determine if it worked that way or not, but my initial theory was that the pendant's magic could… say, 'overpower' her and cancel her powers. Or in a less optimistic scenario, she would do the overpowering herself."
[19:34:25] * Cloral covers her mouth with her hand. Whether it's to hide a grin at Marina's inability to use words and gather thoughts effectively or to hide that damned smile remains to be seen.
[19:34:27] <Lily> "Huh. That's a pretty cool idea!"
[19:34:46] <Marina> "… The truth was neither of those. Closer to the latter if anything, but after it happened we…" She cuts herself off to shiver a bit.
[19:35:10] <Lily> "What happened?"
[19:35:40] <Marina> "I can't think of how to explain what it looked or sounded like, but when I tried to use the pendant as a weapon against her… it was like nightmare incarnate."
[19:36:15] <Lily> "'As a weapon'? So you punched her with it?"
[19:36:19] <Marina> "Essentially."
[19:36:29] <~Oxford> The memory of that sick, pulsating /thing/ in the workroom returns to Cloral and Marina, bringing memories of the revulsion they felt and a wave of nausea with it.
[19:36:30] <Marina> "I wanted to make sure it came into contact with her, and then I activated it."
[19:36:51] <Lily> "And then she turned into a nightmare thing?"
[19:36:59] * Marina grimaces and stares straight down for a moment. She decides this is a good time for a sip of tea.
[19:37:00] <Lily> "…but wasn't it already a nightmare thing?"
[19:37:43] <Cloral> "And then she…melted…"
[19:37:43] <Marina> "The pendant wasn't. But… soon enough, they both were."
[19:38:25] <Marina> "MacDonald and LeClair were unconscious, so there were only two of us to witness it." She lets out an uncharacteristically terrified sigh. "Thankfully."
[19:39:51] <Bridget> "s…kinda…saek soundan'"
[19:40:05] <Marina> "Normally, losing a pendant would be a grave matter, but…" She turns to Cloral with a brow quirked again. "Are you sure you're okay with me explaining it? You already seem unusually defensive today."
[19:40:18] <Lily> "She…melted? Ew."
[19:40:33] <Lily> "Y-you wouldn't melt me, would you?"
[19:40:40] <Cloral> "I'm sure you're making a lot of logical leaps, but be my guest."
[19:40:52] <Marina> "I'll get to them in time, don't worry."
[19:41:23] * Marina glances at Lily with a groan. "If melting somebody on accident is as easy as a miscalculated theory, then maybe."
[19:41:50] <Marina> "Anyway, this may be the only chance I'll get to explain this."
[19:41:53] <Lily> "Well I mean you melted someone that was me but wasn't me"
[19:42:07] <Lily> She shakes her head and shuts up and listens.
[19:42:12] <Marina> "I wanted to stop her from being a threat- pay attention, Blevins. The melting isn't the point."
[19:42:21] <Bridget> "What is?"
[19:42:21] <Marina> "AS I was saying."
[19:42:24] * Marina takes an angry sip.
[19:43:09] <Marina> "The pendants aren't necessary for magic at all."
[19:43:18] <Lily> "What."
[19:43:28] <Lily> "So we were all faeries all along?"
[19:44:44] <Marina> "Instructor Elsa's visit was the first proving point- she never had a pendant with her when she used magic at all. She tried to hide it, of course, but ultimately did a terrible job."
[19:45:08] <Lily> "Aaaaah, okay, I thought she had some kind of special different pendant!"
[19:45:19] <Marina> "According to her, being able to use magic without a pendant is a 'state' anybody is capable of reaching."
[19:45:35] <Marina> "Some learn to, others never do."
[19:46:13] <Cloral> "Of course, she never proved pendants weren't related or required."
[19:46:16] <Marina> "Ever since then, I… well, it's not just me," she sends another glance to the side, "but we've had time to think about what exactly that means, and how it relates to magic's existence as a whole."
[19:46:55] <Marina> "For the initial process, maybe- but in our case that doesn't matter because we've already used the pendants."
[19:47:17] <Bridget> "Sae…ae ain't needin' a pendant?"
[19:47:51] <Marina> "I don't think everybody's automatically able to use it without one- and like said, some might just not ever be able to do it. 'Practice,' she said."
[19:48:07] <Cloral> "You know what electricity is, right?"
[19:48:17] <Bridget> "Aye"
[19:48:23] <Cloral> "But do you know how it works?"
[19:48:46] * Marina empties her teacup. "Are they related?"
[19:49:07] <Lily> "Okay!" She tries to send a ray of sunlight through the depressing clouds then. You tell her she don't need pendants, she's not gonna' use a pendant~
[19:49:27] * Cloral is still grumpy enough that no sunlight shall be breaking through the clouds!
[19:50:04] <Bridget> "Well…aye. 's generation. Movement. Like, ya' create a profess that makes energy n' that goes through wires n' stuff ta' lights."
[19:50:16] <Marina> "… Blevins, I don't think you understand what I'm-"
[19:50:16] <Bridget> "'s why coal' 's sea gaed."
[19:50:20] <Bridget> "Burns well."
[19:50:58] <Cloral> "That's how it travels and on a basic level what causes it. But that's not how it works."
[19:56:35] <~Oxford> Turning her face toward the clouds, Lily focuses hard on bringing a beam down through the storm. She can feel where the sun is behind the clouds: the faint, dull ache on the back of her eyeballs. If she's optimistic, she can almost convince herself the clouds thin a little.
[19:57:20] <Lily> Totally a fairy! Just not ideal conditions to test it!
[19:58:10] <Marina> "Alright, keep going. How are they related?"
[19:59:14] * Bridget goes up to the piano in the room…and tries to lift it!
[20:00:34] * Marina starts to say something as Bridget gets off, but shrugs it off and pours herself more tea.
[20:00:40] <Marina> … gets up.
[20:00:55] <Bridget> ((Of course that was a typo. Sure :D
[20:00:55] <Cloral> "Our understanding of magic isn't understanding. We understand it about as well as we do electricity. Have you ever done the shocky thing where you shuffle across the carpet or something? Doesn't mean you can channel electricity."
[20:02:04] <~Oxford> The piano is as heavy as a piano should be. Far too heavy for even the highland swordswoman to lift.
[20:02:38] <Marina> "… I get what you're saying. That's right, we don't really understand magic as we are- Instructor Elsa's theories are probably just as sound as mine were; it just so happens that only one of them was completely wrong."
[20:02:40] * Bridget grumbles and wanders back to the others.
[20:03:03] * Marina sighs at Bridget… and maybe at Lily too if she can tell what the weirdo's doing. Chances are she probably can because Lily REALLY wants to be a fairy, after all.
[20:03:07] <Cloral> "But that doesn't preclude the other from also being wrong."
[20:03:10] <Marina> "Maybe I should just continue."
[20:03:21] <Bridget> "Aye!"
[20:03:26] <~Oxford> The conversation has run long past the time they would normally have breakfast, yet food - and Maj. Stranahan - has yet to make an appearence.
[20:03:54] <Marina> "Last night I learned I was capable- not entirely in-control, but I conjured something on my own."
[20:04:20] <Cloral> "Or perhaps you were charged with energy by the pendant."
[20:04:31] <Marina> "That's where…" She lowers whatever was covering her back, showing off the shards jutting out. "… These came from, I think."
[20:04:37] <Lily> "I made a sunbeam! …maybe."
[20:04:54] * Cloral looks out the window. Looks pretty stormy. "Nope."
[20:04:57] * Marina shakes her head. "I tried that theory weeks ago. That magic may have been residual after pendant-usage, remember? It didn't work."
[20:05:00] <Bridget> "Oh! Aye! Happens n' shit. Ya' think mae eyes n' hair 're normal?"
[20:05:21] <Bridget> "Nae. 's tha' farest taem ae used aet."
[20:05:23] <Lily> "It was only momentary!"
[20:05:30] <Marina> "That's not my point, MacDonald- we know magic causes mutations. My point is that I did it without a pendant's aid."
[20:05:39] <Bridget> "Aaah."
[20:06:09] <Cloral> "It could have just been an ordinary sun beam. Same way Marina could have simply directed the residual magics that we've learned cause problems into those…spikes."
[20:06:27] <Cloral> It's not the same way at all, she's just mad.
[20:07:37] <Marina> "I guess I'll have to admit, I wanted to fly with them, but they weren't capable of that on their own. … It might be problematic if they stay, actually, but considering they're just frozen water, I suppose I could sit close to heat for a while."
[20:07:39] <Lily> "So!"
[20:07:52] <Lily> "Does anyone want to make breakfast?"
[20:07:55] <Marina> "Right, anyway, let's focus on what we know."
[20:07:59] <Marina> "Or… make… breakfast."
[20:08:22] <Lily> "Might think better if we eat!"
[20:08:30] * Marina brings her head slightly closer to the table. "We mostly relied on the Major for that, didn't we…?"
[20:10:40] * Cloral nods. The rain might pick up a bit as she avoids anyone's gaze.
[20:12:55] <Bridget> "Aye ah'm hungry"
[20:13:00] <Lily> "Somebody make breakfast, I can't cook! I'm gonna' look around to see if anyone's around!"
[20:13:19] <Cloral> "Lily…do you mind…if I join you?" This is probably because Loewin can burn water.
[20:13:22] <Cloral> Or is it?
[20:13:23] <Marina> "… That's what my plan was." She sighs and gets up, walking after Lily. "Good luck, you tw-"
[20:13:25] <Marina> "… One."
[20:13:53] <Bridget> "Ahm gaed at caettin!"
[20:14:33] * Marina worries for everybody's health if Bridget's cooking. "… Shout if you have any problems, MacDonald. I'm going to check on LeClair's condition."
[20:14:53] <Bridget> "…nae. 's…nae gaed at cookin! Gaed at caettin' things!"
[20:15:17] <Lily> "Time to look around!" She goes to the door first and peeks outside to see if there's any cars there or anything. Oh wait, there's a garage isn't there? Her player forgets.
[20:15:19] <Marina> "Then we'll have to just… wait until the Major comes back." She makes sure to avoid eye contact during that line.
[20:16:01] * Cloral keeps up with Lily, quiet until they're out of ear shot from the others. "Lily…you're okay, yes?"
[20:17:10] <Lily> Headtilt. "O…kay? Well I'm a little sore actually from last night but otherwise fine yeah!"
[20:17:39] <Cloral> "And you're sure? And I don't mean just feeling fine, I mean thinking fine and…well, the you I saw before would know, you are fine?"
[20:19:08] <Lily> She opens her mouth and says "I think I'm perfectly fine!" …in Sachsen instead of Albaen.
[20:19:56] * Cloral replies, with a real smile this time, in Sachsen "That's good!"
[20:20:36] * Lily headtilts. "What'd you say?" And then some incomprehensible language 1,1that's actually wahtever the Albaen equivalent of Welsh is.
[20:20:38] * Marina peeks into Henri's room just for a brief glance, then makes a note to herself and heads off to do some exploring of their own. Notably, if Wightshead has a basement or other mostly-unused rooms, then it's there first.
[20:22:00] <~Oxford> Lily doesn't find any cars in the drive, but through the sitting room window she can see the garage door is closed. Usually, that means the car is inside; Erica is fastidious about closing the door when she returns, but less so if she's just taking a short trip into town.
[20:22:15] <~Oxford> If she were leaving for a longer trip, on the other hand…
[20:22:28] <Cloral> Loewin stares with interest. "Oh, Lily, you are much more well-traveled than I suspected. I should think that confirms you to be fine."
[20:22:45] <Lily> To the garage! She says something in Nov and heads to the garage!
[20:24:09] <Cloral> Her jaw would drop were she uncultured.
[20:26:22] <~Oxford> Crossing to the garage requires a short walk in the open, through the light rain. Lily's bare feet splash through the puddles forming in the stone path.
[20:26:35] <Lily> ~
[20:27:20] <Cloral> Loewin goes well out of her way to avoid the splashing, still dressed in a nightgown. Whoops.
[20:30:00] * Bridget goes to follow Lily!
[20:30:38] <~Oxford> The door to the garage is locked, but a window at the top allows a clear view into the converted stable. Provided Lily can get up high enough to see through it - the bottom edge of the window is just above her head.
[20:31:01] <Lily> TIPTOES! JUMPS!
[20:31:30] * Bridget will just try and break down the door!
[20:31:49] * Cloral clears her throat at Lily, prepared to disgrace hers- what's the Highlander doing?
[20:33:46] <~Oxford> While Lily jumps up and down beside the door, Bridget charges past and rams into the door.
[20:34:10] <Bridget> "There' ya' see. 's easy!"
[20:34:12] <Lily> "Whoa!" She backs up away from it!
[20:34:52] <Cloral> "…So…what is the cost of a door?"
[20:35:41] <~Oxford> The door swings inward on its hinges, a good chunk of doorframe dangling from the deadbolt.
[20:36:12] <Bridget> "s nae tha' hard'afaex"
[20:36:27] <Cloral> "I suppose you've learned carpentry after your…desk incident?"
[20:36:44] <Bridget> "Mmmhmmm~"
[20:37:42] <Lily> "Let's go in!" She rushes in to see if there's a car~
[20:37:42] * Cloral shakes her head and steps inside.
[20:38:35] <~Oxford> Inside, Major Stranahan's sedan is parked carefully in the center of the dirt floor, still dry. Bits of straw stick to the bottoms of the girls' feet or shoes as they enter.
[20:39:01] <Lily> "Ah!"
[20:39:36] * Lily checks it to see if there's anyone in it, like THE NOV.
[20:40:34] <Cloral> "…so she's probably here…or got a ride. But I didn't hear anything…so…Bridget, you may have some explaining to do. At the worst possible time."
[20:40:52] <Bridget> "Aye. 's faen."
[20:40:53] * Marina emerges disappointed from the cellar and does a round inside the manor to make sure all the girls have left- once she's sure they have, she 1,1goes back into Henriette's room and cleans her wings while she's unconscious.
[20:41:18] <~Oxford> The boot of the car is locked, but no shuffling or grunts come from within, even when she knocks on the door.
[20:42:04] <Cloral> Loewin heads back toward the mansion proper, shaking her head about the uncouthness of it all. Is that a word? Probably.
[20:42:10] <Lily> "Okay, let's go check Stranahan's room!" She runs back into the manor and starts to head up to Stranahan's room!
[20:42:43] * Bridget shrugs at Cloral and follows. She's in a pretty good mood now
[20:44:04] <~Oxford> Now that she thinks about it, Lily's never found Stranahan's bedroom. The officer was always the first person up in the morning, and would usually still be working in her office long after the she put the girls to bed.
[20:44:32] <Lily> TIME TO CHECK EVERY UNUSED ROOM IN THE BUILDING
[20:44:34] <Lily> SYSTEMATIC SEARCH
[20:45:12] <Lily> "We're gonna' start knocking on every door, uh, Bridget, don't break the others, one is enough!"
[20:45:22] <Bridget> "Aye."
[20:45:41] * Bridget sounds a bit disappointed.
[20:46:40] <~Oxford> Most of the rooms in the west wing are empty. The second floor is set up much like it is on the east wing, in rows of dormitories.
[20:49:14] <Lily> Is there a third floor? going there!
[20:50:25] * Cloral happens upon Lily's bird, though is completely unaware of the damn thing's name, noticing all manner of spiders, ants, and other household pests. "Alright, suppose any of you might lead me to finding an occupied room in here? A room WITHOUT a girl with…uh…metal wings?" Most of the critters scurry off in confusion, but the bird seems to respond and takes flight, Loewin in
[20:50:26] * Cloral tow!
[20:52:47] <Lily> "Ah, you got Enfys!"
[20:53:41] <~Oxford> The third floor is narrower than the second, and the outside walls of the rooms slope inward as they come up under the slant of the roof. These seem mostly empty, housing only dust and a few old storage boxes. The cupola at the very top of the house is likewise empty, but provides a good view of the rainsoaked country estates.
[20:54:10] <~Oxford> All that remains to search is Stranahan's office.
[20:55:26] * Lily SLAMS THE OFFICE OPEN
[20:55:37] <Lily> Doesn't even knock
[20:58:04] * Cloral thanks Enfys with the broest of thanks: the head nod, before groaning at Lily.
[20:59:25] <~Oxford> Cloral, led by the bird, reaches the door at the same time as Lily. The two girls storm in together, throwing back the heavy wooden door and crowding through the narrow entrance.
[20:59:52] <~Oxford> Major Stranahan looks up sharply from her desk, a thick stack of papers in her right hand and a pen in her left. "W-What?" she asks, blinking confusedly.
[21:00:01] <Lily> "Oh!"
[21:00:05] <Lily> "Um."
[21:00:31] <Lily> "…we wanted breakfast!"
[21:00:45] <Cloral> "Lily wanted breakfast, I was fine with…knocking."
[21:00:57] <~Oxford> "Huh? You girls should be in bed, it's late. Er. Early?" She reaches across her desk to pick turn around her clock so it faces her.
[21:02:38] <~Oxford> "Oh!" Erica stands up with a start, the papers spreading across her desk. "I'll get right on it."
[21:02:52] <Cloral> "You…you don't need to…though I don't think any of us are any good at it…"
[21:03:50] <Lily> "We would've done it ourselves if any of us could cook!"
[21:04:27] <~Oxford> She steps forward around the girls, displacing them further into the office so she can reach her apron, which hangs from a hook on the back of the door. "I'm sorry! I got so caught up in…" Lily can read the title of the first page on Stranahan's desk: 'Letter of Resignation'.
[21:06:18] <Bridget> "…why'r ya' resignin'?"
[21:07:06] <Cloral> Loewin is prepared to throw out more pleasantries before biting her tongue. Painfully.
[21:07:13] <Lily> "She's resigning?" She sees it. "You're resigning?" She turns around to the other girls "She's resigning!" She turns around to Stranahan. "You're not resigning! Er…are you?"
[21:09:37] <~Oxford> Erica pauses at the door with her apron on, facing away from the three girls. The back of her neck gains a shade of red. She squeezes her eyes shut and opens them again, quickly. "We-" she says, her voice catching, "we'll talk about it over breakfast, okay?"
[21:09:57] <Lily> "…um. Okay."
[21:10:14] <Bridget> "…faen."
[21:10:24] <Lily> She turns around and leaves, her expression a squiggly one like :s
[21:10:25] * Cloral swallows, that lovely coppery taste following from the apparently quite serious tongue bite. "You didn't do anything wrong…"
[21:13:17] <~Oxford> The Major turns back to face them, and smiles broadly. Something gleams in the corners of her eyes. "Everything'll be fine! Just go set the table, or you don't get any pancakes!"
[21:14:07] <Cloral> Loewin nods and runs back to the kitchen.
[21:14:19] <Lily> Lily goes downstairs, stopping by Henri's room on the way to make sure that Henri's not dead!
[21:14:32] <Marina> How does she open the door?
[21:15:06] <Lily> gently. But not with a knock because she's rude as fuck. She just craaacks it open until she can see Henri in there, or at least that's the plan.
[21:16:06] <Marina> Then Marina doesn't even notice, but is knelt over the eldest girl's bedside, gently caressing her spread-out, detached wings with a cloth. She's even humming to herself as she does it.
[21:16:11] <Marina> Neither of them are dead.
[21:16:15] <Marina> Yet.
[21:17:19] <Lily> "Oh, um, Marina. We found Stranahan, she's making breakfast shortly!"
[21:18:05] <Marina> "Eek!" She squeals out like a grade school-age girl, then slowly creaks her neck toward the door. "O-Oh. I… see. Right."
[21:18:52] <Marina> "LeClair's injuries are still severe, she needs more rest," the albino says while getting up and walking toward the door, hiding the cloth behind her back.
[21:19:39] * Lily nods. "Okay, thank you for taking care of her!" She closes the door softly and leeeaves for the dining room.
[21:20:09] <~Oxford> - - -
[21:25:59] <~Oxford> Major Stranahan emerges from the adjoining kitchen for the third time, this time with a platter full of of omelettes. She passes each customized egg dish to the girl who ordered it, before sitting down across the wide dining room table from them.
[21:26:59] * Bridget noms. Neatly.
[21:27:10] * Bridget looks like she's straightened up too.
[21:27:27] <Cloral> The observant viewer would notice Loewin has only torn her food apart to make it look like she's eaten more than she has. Unfortunately, that trick only works if you at least eat some of it.
[21:27:41] * Marina had stopped pleasuring herself with Henriette's back at this point and sits nervously, not touching the food beyond a couple pokes even after it's served. Maybe a nibble here and there.
[21:27:52] <Lily> Lily eats her food carefully, a bit more restrained than normal, seeming a little hesitant to actually eat, but eats down her omelette. Slooowly.
[21:30:58] <~Oxford> Maj. Stranahan frowns to see the girls half-heartedly picking at their food. "Ah, did I make too much?" she asks. "Did they not come out well?"
[21:31:29] <Lily> "No, they're good!"
[21:31:30] <Marina> "No, it's…" Fortunately Marina had plenty of time to make more tea, which she promptly sips. "It's nothing."
[21:31:45] <Bridget> "They are very good Major." …Formal Bridget!
[21:32:31] <Cloral> "Don't act like that's the problem…"
[21:34:15] <~Oxford> She sighs and sits back in the chair.
[21:38:09] <Marina> Finally she takes a few bites, then downs them with the assistance of her favorite liquid. "I still don't understand, Ma'am."
[21:38:11] <~Oxford> The breakfast table is awkwardly silent. The rain is letting up, slightly, and the metronome drip of water off the gutters provides the only distraction.
[21:38:31] <Lily> "Um…why do you want to resign?" She takes another bite.
[21:39:32] <Marina> "Re-"
[21:40:33] <Marina> Marina's fork (or other utesntil) drops back down to rest at the edge of a plate. "… You were serious."
[21:42:35] * Cloral nods. "She had a letter…on her desk…"
[21:42:47] <~Oxford> Stranahan sits up straighter in her chair and clears her throat. "I don't-," she begins, "I promise, if I could, I would stay here with all of you. But I'm being forced out by the brass."
[21:42:59] <Bridget> "Who?"
[21:44:12] <Marina> "What can you tell us? None of this makes any sense." She downs another gulp of hot tea like a crazy person.
[21:44:58] <~Oxford> "With good reason," she adds, glancing down at her knees. "I'm sorry. I haven't been a very good commanding officer. And no," the Major adds, turning to Bridget, "I'm not going to let you use your position to pressure them into changing their minds."
[21:45:16] * Marina raises a brow.
[21:45:24] <Cloral> "Are you…are you staying in the town?" Her voice cracks on the last word.
[21:46:06] * Bridget mmmmfs. "If you insist Major. We shall not."
[21:46:34] <~Oxford> "I'm not really sure, Martell. What would you like to know? First of all: no, I won't be staying in Ternwald. I'll be reassigned." She looks down the length of the table. "Probably back to communications. I hope."
[21:46:35] <Marina> "That makes even LESS sense." She folds her arms, intentionally leaving unclear whether it's Stranahan or Bridget doing the non-sense-making.
[21:47:25] <Lily> "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! But if they get rid of you then who's going to cook our breakfast and tell us what to do and help us wash our clothes and make sure the bird I found wasn't rabid and kill spiders and remind me to actually wear socks when it's necessary and want to mate with our teacher and be too awkward to admit it and make sure our radios aren't frying out and tuck us into
[21:47:25] <Lily> bed and be a better mom than my mom and…" She trails off after she runs out of things to say.
[21:47:51] <Marina> "I don't understand why you're acting like you're at fault. Sure, there-" She has to cringe at the Lilywall.
[21:49:04] <Bridget> "…yer' kinda' raemblan'"
[21:49:38] <Marina> "… There was some information concerning the properties of pendants that would've helped to know," after some recovery time. "Not that gambling on our lack of knowledge was an intelligent plan either…"
[21:50:36] <~Oxford> "It /is/ my fault, Martel," Stranahan says, cutting her off. "Everything that happens in my responsibility. Anything that goes wrong is my fault. That's what it means to be a commanding officer."
[21:51:44] <Cloral> "…so then what are the 'brass' responsible for?"
[21:52:02] <Marina> "I… I do understand that," she finally takes another bite and chews it slowly. "But it's more the fact of what happened last night. What WAS that… thing we saw? Why are the consequences so extreme?"
[21:55:04] * Lily sniffs and just starts eating her omelette. ;_;
[21:56:15] <~Oxford> "Until four months ago, I don't think anybody would've been able to answer that question. Are you familiar with the battle during the Zone Evacuation?"
[21:57:58] <Cloral> "The one where everyone just…left?"
[21:58:41] <Marina> "It was still considered a major victory, wasn't it?"
[21:59:51] * Lily silently eats her food so that she can pretend she's not crying. She gets the feeling if she talked it'd just be a wail. ;_;
[22:00:42] * Cloral silently tears up so she can pretend she has a reason to not eat her food. There's a reason her growth is stunted.
[22:00:50] * Bridget grumbles but nods, looking rather intently.
[22:01:38] <~Oxford> Maj. Stranahan nods. "Our army was encircled in Occupied Northern Gaulia, but thanks to the efforts of the Navy and Air Force - especially the Focus Pendant Programme - we were able to evacuate safely and get our soldiers back to Albaea safely."
[22:02:26] <Cloral> "E…Evacuate from what?"
[22:02:31] * Marina continues listening, taking another sip.
[22:04:04] <~Oxford> "From the continent," the Major says. "They were cut off and in danger of being wiped out." She decides not to go into the details of land warfare strategy.
[22:04:42] <Cloral> "The Novs? Or…?"
[22:05:35] <~Oxford> "Right. That was the first major battle between the Pendant Users of Albaea and Novgoraad." She frowns. "It was…casualties were high."
[22:07:38] <Marina> "And the relevance between this incident and…" She brings the tea up for a sip and her eyes widen mid-drink.
[22:08:02] <~Oxford> "In fact, it looked like we'd had it. We were outnumbered on the ground and in the air, and we couldn't evacuate fast enough with the ships we had."
[22:10:08] <~Oxford> "But then, during the fight, one of our flights of Users had some kind of…encounter."
[22:11:34] <Marina> Stranahan's story is doing a good job, the food starts disappearing at a rapid pace.
[22:12:11] * Bridget nods, rapt, eating her own eggs.
[22:13:04] <~Oxford> "What they fought was…well, their reports indicate something very similar to what you described."
[22:14:46] <Marina> "Did…" After another bite she tries to choose her words carefully but gives up after a couple attempts. "How did they fight it?"
[22:15:47] <~Oxford> "Fight it? They didn't." She crosses her arms and rests them on the table, frowning. "When it hit, it caused some kind of a wide-reaching effect. In essence, it became impossible to take offensive action: gunfire went wide, shells exploded prematurely, and so on. It covered the entire Occupied Zone."
[22:16:13] * Marina takes a bite.
[22:16:18] <Marina> Then another bite.
[22:16:23] <Marina> Then a sip of tea.
[22:16:30] <Marina> Then spittakes the tea.
[22:16:35] <Marina> "What."
[22:17:21] <~Oxford> "Since the Novs couldn't push the advantage, we had the time we needed to pull everyone out. It…we actually thought it was a good thing. It seemed like a miracle."
[22:18:11] <Bridget> "Ah…."
[22:18:22] * Marina cleans the table off and composes herself. "And… what happened afterward?"
[22:18:29] * Lily is still sobrring into her omelette ;_;
[22:18:33] <Lily> *sobbing
[22:20:23] <~Oxford> "But…well. I guess the effects are different, for each one. Having a no-combat zone in the heart of our industrial zones would actually be pretty useful. They'd be immune to bombing and the like."
[22:21:53] <Cloral> Loewin sniffs and is able to give Stranahan a serious look, temporarily overpowering her smile. "…I…I do have one question about…what happened to us…did you not give us information about the pendants because you didn't know…or because you were ordered not to?"
[22:22:51] * Marina looks to Cloral and gives a slow nod. "What I did was reckless, but it's also true that we know almost nothing about them."
[22:23:07] <Bridget> "Aye. Ae aen't gaet aeny idea."
[22:24:56] <Marina> "Personal theories and wild guesses are almost all we can rely on as to how they work."
[22:25:16] <~Oxford> "The first time this happened, it seemed like… well, like I said. It was a miracle, but from the reports, it was also a freak accident. A one-in-a-million kind of occurance."
[22:26:48] <~Oxford> "Doing what you did, having read your report, Martel: That shouldn't have caused this. At least, based on what I know. Not that anyone has tried that before…"
[22:27:28] <Marina> "… Then in other words, to answer her question, it's the former. None of us had any reason to believe it'd end up like this."
[22:27:51] <Cloral> "…To be clear, you were not ordered to keep that information from us?"
[22:28:32] <Marina> The usually-dainty teacup slams on the table once it's empty, accompanied by a grunt. "Damn! Did the higher-ups even read the report? There has to be something that can be done against that… thing, isn't there?"
[22:29:56] <Bridget> "Ae 'ameagin baetter caerdanaetion"
[22:31:02] * Marina takes a few breaths and then pours herself more tea. Sip. "Excuse me, could you please repeat that, MacDonald?"
[22:31:27] <~Oxford> "There's plenty I'm not allowed to tell you. OpSec, von Stolz. But…nothing that would change how you use your Pendants. They used to do that, when I was flying. The results," she shivers, "I could never do that."
[22:31:54] <Bridget> A moment. A sigh. "We suggest training to improve our coordination in battle. We were indisposed the previous battle and We feel it may be best to work as one unit than as a less coordinated whole."
[22:32:02] <~Oxford> "As long as you followed the instructions we gave you, there was no way this kind of thing should've happened." She frowns. "By the way, what exactly possessed you to try putting a Pendant on the spawn like that?"
[22:32:38] <Marina> "Is…" she alternates between quirked brows. "… it necessary to refer to all of us like that?"
[22:33:07] <Marina> "Though I agree, 'We' need to work our coordination."
[22:33:24] <Bridget> "'s nae all a' oos."
[22:33:42] <Marina> It then occurs after responding that Bridget totally just said a totally comprehensible sentence. A paragraph, even!
[22:34:04] * Cloral expels air from her nostrils like a damned bull at being referred to so…formally, somewhat ironically. The formality doesn't seem right for the situation.
[22:34:33] * Marina shakes it off and turns back to the Major.
[22:35:43] <Marina> "As stated in the report, I had a theory on where 'magic' comes from, and its relation to the pendants, and from there decided that they must have varying sources, meaning the pendant could possibly drain the spawn's energy by 'overpowering' it."
[22:35:51] <Marina> "That theory was… uhm, wrong."
[22:38:43] <Cloral> "Yes…we've been forced to reverse engineer denials from our superiors in what we thought the pendants were. And some of us acted…'rashly' because of that lack of information."
[22:39:18] <Marina> A sigh. "Again, I apologize for my behavior and the consequences thereof. Though it's a bit late for that now."
[22:41:08] <~Oxford> "Clearly." Stranahan's voice is unexpectedly icy. "Your job isn't to go out there and do science experiments! We've got people for that: scientists, point of fact." She seems about to say more, but then exhales slowly. Her voice loses its edge.
[22:41:50] <~Oxford> "When you take an action like that, you're putting everyone in danger. Yourself included. I know it's easy to second-guess things after the fact, but I need you to start thinking about these things before you act."
[22:42:35] <Marina> "Yes, I understand," she says with a defeated droop, looking down at the table. "In the heat of the moment, I only focused on our loss and the consequences of the enemy's escape- as in, failing the mission we were set out to do."
[22:42:55] <Cloral> "It WOULD be nice, Major, to be able to figure out which end of our weapons was the barrel and which the butt, since we were never told." Heated retaliation to the senior ice queen.
[22:43:39] <Lily> Lily FINALLY speaks up, her voice almost a sob. "M-miss Stranahan I…" Sniff. "I'm sorry I got you in trouble, I thought just I was going to g-get in trouble and…" Sniff. She just goes back to eating the last of her omelette
[22:44:09] <Marina> "It didn't occur to me that my last-ditch effort to disable the enemy would cause… well… this."
[22:46:45] <Bridget> "Aem glaed yae' did."
[22:47:12] <Marina> She's already cleaned the plate by now. "Though as I mentioned last night, I do have one… I suppose final report to give, for better or worse."
[22:48:01] <~Oxford> Maj. Stranahan turns to Loewin and cocks her head, raising an eyebrow, but Lily speaks up before she replies. Swallowing the retort, Erica decides to answer her question first. "It's alright, I forgive you. But Blevins… we do need to have a conversation about your duties here."
[22:50:09] <~Oxford> "Not right this minute, but soon. Headquarters will be sending my replacement down within the week, I expect."
[22:50:27] <Lily> "…okay."
[22:50:40] <Lily> She's pretending to eat but there's no more omelette left.
[22:50:54] <Bridget> "…aye. Ae'll maek saer yae' dannae gaet a baed jaeb. Ya' dannae maend, aye?"
[22:52:35] <Cloral> Loewin's plate could be taken as a work of modern art for how she's rearranged the food. If that was a thing yet, and fortunately it probably is but hasn't taken off to an obnoxious level. Hopefully.
[22:52:49] * Bridget devoured all of her Scottish breakfast.
[22:52:57] <~Oxford> She smiles at Bridget. "No, I suppose not. But really, I'm fine."
[22:53:31] * Bridget beams. "Aye! Ae'll caell me pa!"
[22:53:45] <Marina> Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.
[22:54:43] <~Oxford> Stranahan nods. "Alright. I'm not sure exactly when your new CO will arrive. It'll depend on how long it takes them to contain the incident."
[22:55:15] <Marina> "… Contain."
[22:56:51] <Lily> "C-contain?"
[22:57:03] <Bridget> "Caentaen?"
[22:57:23] <Marina> "Now that we're aware what's there is a… creature and it wasn't a single attack that forced us to flee, what are they going to do about it? Do they understand it any more than we do?"
[22:57:28] <~Oxford> She nods. "The one in the Occupied Zone made warfare impossible throughout the entire effected area. This one…"
[23:00:27] <~Oxford> "Well, you can probably guess the effect it's having. We're still working out the details, but electrical devices, engines, and most firearms have stopped working within a wide area from the sawmill."
[23:01:28] * Marina starts to say something but decides against it, instead immersing herself in that 'deep thinking' look. Complete with tea-sips.
[23:04:50] <Cloral> "So…they're making you leave…any clue what they'll do with us?"
[23:07:22] <~Oxford> "He'll have his orders, when he gets here, but I assume you'll still be running intercepts." She shifts uncomfortably in her chair. "If the thing hasn't changed the math, that is. It looks like the zone stopped expanding around 0400 last night. The total area was something like five-thousand square kilometres."
[23:07:58] <Cloral> "…how…how much more than that sawmill?"
[23:08:26] * Lily keeps silent, probably drinking something at this point, her eyes wide.
[23:08:35] <~Oxford> "Most of it was forest, but it got about half of Cremmwale too. The city's being evacuated for now, until they're sure the other half is safe to move back into."
[23:08:43] <Cloral> "…how many people?"
[23:08:44] * Marina would gladly offer Lily tea if requested.
[23:12:18] <Firespitter> (Area of effect has a radius of 39.89 km or 24.93 miles!)
[23:12:43] <~Oxford> "Oh!" Stranahan says, realizing her concern. "People weren't really killed by it. Most of them thought it was a blackout. They've been moved out in good order." She frowns a little. "There may have been a few, but no more casualties than you'd expect during routine operations."
[23:13:08] <Cloral> "'May have?'" She beats her smile again.
[23:14:09] <Marina> "I imagine it was a large enough area that not all of the effects have been confirmed yet…" She scratches her head.
[23:14:45] <~Oxford> "We…won't know for sure, for a while," Stranahan admits, clearly not happy about it. She adds, softly, "This is a war, Cloral."
[23:15:11] <Cloral> "But the Novs didn't cause that…we did."
[23:16:02] <Marina> "But will the public know that," spoken in a much softer, contemplative tone.
[23:17:49] <~Oxford> "The Novs /did/ cause that," the Major says vehemently. "If there weren't a war, accidents like this wouldn't happen. The blood is on their hands."
[23:18:48] <Cloral> "…who do you suppose started the war?"
[23:21:17] <Marina> "I wonder," sipping tea and talking mostly to herself by now, "What form does this… monster take? Does it have a body, or is its body the entire 'zone' it created? If it's the latter then no wonder the higher-ups reacted like this, but…" If applicable she's even probably writing with a pen on a napkin while mumbling to herself or something.
[23:22:19] <~Oxford> "They did," Stranahan replies, "and with a surprise attack, no less. The Declaration of Hostilities wasn't published until they'd finished sinking our fleet at Wadden." She sighs. "But we're not here to question the politics of it. What's important is that we do our best to protect the people we can."
[23:22:52] <Cloral> Loewin scoffs at the simplicity of the reply but doesn't question further.
[23:26:31] <~Oxford> "To that, though, Martel: We just don't know. The only other time this has happened, it was deep in enemy territory. We've never had a chance to study this before now." Maj. Stranahan gives her a look of disapproval that makes it clear this isn't to be misconstrued as a positive outcome.
[23:27:03] <Marina> "Major," perhaps out of guilt, Marina takes it upon herself to pick up the dishes for herself and the others. Not that she hadn't always been dedicated chorebitch before, perhaps when Lily wanted to give up on her duties at Wightshead to go roll in the dirt or someshit. "What are our orders until the new CO arrives? Standby?"
[23:28:50] <~Oxford> She nods wearily. "Standby. Does anyone have any further questions, or can we dismiss?"
[23:29:14] <Bridget> "Nae…"
[23:30:07] <Cloral> "Will…" The vinegar fades from her voice, her face melting passively back into a smile. "…will we see you before you go after the new person shows up?"
[23:30:24] <Marina> "Only my delayed report. But I guess that doesn't need to be immediate," while wobbling back and forth with a stack of plates.
[23:32:25] * Bridget gives the Major a hug. "Yaer' alwaaaes waelcaem aet aer' estate"
[23:33:27] <~Oxford> Erica nods. "Of course! I won't leave without saying goodbye, I promise." She's smiling now, only partly forced. "Thank you, all of you. It's been an honor serving with you."
[23:39:55] * Cloral shakes her head, barely a pseudo nod, before remembering military formality to counter-salute.
[23:40:23] <Marina> After making sure the dishes are washed, "I'll be seeing if LeClair still needs tended to." It is at that moment that she was thoroughly prepared for the countless hours of wing-stroking and giddy rubbing that would ensue.
[23:41:20] <Marina> And during that pseudo-molestation, there was no better time to hatch an incredibly stupid plan to assault the monster, as if already assured the military would do a terrible job in their attempt. The only question is how.
[23:43:55] <Henriette> For Henriette, the polishing of her still developing wings would cause her some sensations in her sleep, but only vaguely. Marina, however, and any other who would chance a visit to Henriette's room might here murmurings of "Désolé…" and "Ma faute…" from the sleeping girl, her face not content but instead contorted in distress and pain.
[23:44:31] <Lily> Lily goes off to her room to go lay around until she's feeling less depressed.
[23:44:49] <~Oxford> Major Stranahan snaps her own salute down to her side with crisp military precision. The rain outside has stopped, though the skies are still heavy and gray. Whether they will clear or renew their downpour is an open question. Erica smiles. "In that case…dismissed!"
[23:44:54] <~Oxford> /session
[22:00:53] * Marina changes topic to 'Squeaaaaak, squeaaaaaaak.'
[22:06:38] <Marina> It's sometime later in the week, and aware or not, Henriette has been checked up on on a daily basis. At least, her wings have, and herself 'enough to make sure she's not dead.' Perhaps like a half-dream, the older of the two would have been able to hear mumbling, and occasionally cheerful storytelling in a sing-song voice from the normally-taciturn Marina. Her voice is probably distinct-sounding enough for it to work that way. Along with it, every time, is the gentle caress of a cloth along her newly-forming wings, polishing the glass to a literal squeaky clean.
[22:08:11] <Marina> "… miss Daddy so much." Rub, rub, rub. "You don't need to be so finnicky, I'm being careful- now let's see, where was I? I could tell a story to you two if you'd like."
[22:11:55] <Henriette> The honest truth is that Henriette is suprisingly healthy despite prior injuries. Her scrapes and cuts, the minor ones, are all but non-existant by that Saturday. Her sleep is fitful, and her face displays obvious discomfort, but a medical analysis would probably only show major problems in the tendons in her right hand. Dazed, her eyes flutter open, but confusion keeps her from sitting
[22:11:55] <Henriette> up, and she's aware of a vaguely tickling sensation coming from… some part of her.
[22:12:58] <Henriette> "Ah…" she groans, a noise that might seem innocuous amongst the discomforting sounds resulting from her dreamscape experiences.
[22:13:10] <Marina> And a giggling from right next to her. "Let's see… perhaps you'll be less antsy if I tell you about ancient Gods." The talker doesn't even notice anything yet.
[22:13:36] <Marina> "You're going to trouble your mother, you know."
[22:14:01] <Marina> The stroking gets more and more vivid with wakefulness, each rub cheery and full of energy.
[22:15:29] <Henriette> Now there is definitive confusion. The sensation would probably remind one of shoulder massages and warm nights with their mother, but the Gaulian orphan wouldn't know much about that. The voice is familiar, however. "Marina?"
[22:16:19] <Marina> The rubbing suddenly stops, followed by a hurried inhalation. She exhales seconds later, as an "Eep."
[22:16:31] <Marina> "L-LeClair?"
[22:18:35] <Henriette> She turns over on the bed, shifting uncomfortably as the wings hinder her movements. "Tu fais quoi dans ma chambre? Err… What are you doing here?"
[22:19:19] <Marina> "Um…" She coughs to compose herself, retaining her usual disposition. Barely. "I was checking on your wounds. You'd been heavily injured."
[22:21:51] <Henriette> "I-I feel très bien." is the reply. Henriette sits up in bed, dressed in whatever clothes the others have left her in. "The last mémoire I have is fighting Lily's… créature…"
[22:22:43] <Henriette> Turning very suddenly and sharply, her hands grab Marina's shoulders tightly, and her eyebrows strain towards the bridge of her nose. "S'il vous plaît, recount what has happened! Was ma attack in vain?"
[22:22:47] <Marina> Marina subtly hides the cloth. "It's been a long night sense then. You're fortunate to have slept through it."
[22:23:16] <Marina> "The…" She turns to the side, as if to hide her face to no avail. "Yes, and no."
[22:24:00] <Marina> "The creature is no longer attacking us directly, so it was effectively eliminated as a target…" She gulps out the next word, "temporarily."
[22:25:43] <Henriette> "Qoui? La bataille continues?" A panic starts to climb into her throat. "Then I have slept while that monster continues its déchaînement!?"
[22:27:08] <Marina> "C-Calm down, LeClair," said almost nervously. During the onslaught of words, Marina looks worried toward Henri's back, like a mother worried about her children. Or more accurately, an aunt worried about her twin nieces. "It's a much longer story than that. You'll need to stay calm considering your… condition."
[22:27:36] <Marina> "… Is what I should say, but you hardly have any sign of injury at all. Still, it doesn't hurt to be cautious."
[22:30:05] <Henriette> "Qu'est-ce donc? Explain what has happened dans le détail!"
[22:31:27] <Marina> "Yes… Yes, I'm going to." She scratches her head, face a mix of nervous and ashamed. And stoic, but surprisingly unlike the norm the latter is being pushed away by the others. "Would you like some tea first? And moreover…"
[22:31:58] <Marina> Her finger points toward the Gaulian girl's back. "How do they feel?"
[22:35:52] <Henriette> "How do…?" Turning her head, a look of absolute shock crosses her face. "Quelles sont ces choses? Ailes? Mais je ne suis pas transformé!" The Gaulian language flies from her mouth as she comically tries to get a good frontal look at them. "Ailes chatoyantes? Mais ils ne sont pas attachés!"
[22:36:42] <Henriette> Her breathing escalates as she flies into a further panic.
[22:38:00] <Marina> "… Please speak so I can understand you." Frustration wins and Marina's hand reaches up to her face as her eyes close, rubbing her temples. "And I DID say to stay calm…"
[22:39:41] <Marina> "I don't think they're much different than mine- if you try to focus, you should be able to move them freely. D-Don't pull on them," she barks out on a half-panic, worried that her effort could be in vain. "They might get dirty!"
[22:40:00] <Marina> "Ah… I mean… handle them with care."
[22:40:23] <Marina> "I mean I just cl- I mean they're fragile."
[22:46:01] <Henriette> "Oh, mer- I am sorry, Marina." She responds. "I panicked because of my… because my magic should not show itself when I am not transformed."
[22:47:19] <Marina> "Should not… but is," she replies with a sigh. "Much like Blevins' shouldn't have either, but she still spawned a monster based on herself with powers just like her own."
[22:47:53] <Marina> "There are details about magic that are still mysteries, and… mutations like those are among them."
[22:48:25] <Marina> "But that doesn't make them any less-" Cutting herself off, she quiets her volume to a half-whisper before repeating, "any less beautiful."
[22:49:07] <Henriette> "Oui… and… what is the situation with that creature?" Her acceptance of her mutation is rather quick, but perhaps it has more to do with her concern about her potential failed attack. Until Marina calls them beautiful. "M-marina? What was that?" she responds with a confused blush.
[22:49:24] <Marina> "Nothing."
[22:49:30] <Marina> "Absolutely nothing."
[22:49:36] <Marina> "As for the creature…"
[22:50:07] <Marina> She inhales deeply, still looking frustrated. "Are you sure you're able to keep calm? Positive?"
[22:51:01] <Henriette> "I-if you are certain…" Her furrowed brows suggest she doesn't believe the girl. Something to be wary of? "Oh, oui, je… err… yes, I will do my best to remain calm. It is… not a skill that comes easily to me."
[22:52:12] <Marina> "I can make some tea if you'd like," another glance shows she actually HASN'T been drinking any for once. Probably because she had her hands full wing-stroking, made evident by the fact that she's not hiding the cloth anymore. "But if not, I'll continue."
[22:53:27] <Marina> "It no longer takes Blevins' form, but the monster is still active. It's.. expanded since then."
[22:53:41] <Henriette> Despite a dull ache in her stomach recommending 1,1wizard need food badly she eat soon, her patience is almost nonexistant, and with a vigorous nod, "Continue, please."
[22:54:47] <Marina> "Somebody made a hasty decision that wasn't very intelligent," she says while grimacing, "and we're now suffering the consequences. Among them, um…"
[22:55:23] <Marina> Another glance to ascertain Henri's calmness. "Among them, Maj. Stranahan is resigning. We're to be on standby the rest of the week until our new CO arrives."
[22:56:27] <Henriette> Henriette's composure slips visibly at the first rammification, but a stern mental reminder tempers her reaction. She's not going to hear the rest of the story if she freaks out. Marina is taking this bit by bit, it seems.
[22:58:12] <Marina> "As for the monster itself, it's spread to a wide area, causing… an evacuation of half of Cremmwale nearby, I believe."
[22:59:11] <Henriette> "She… attacked?" Henriette interrupts, her left hand forming a fist in her lap. Her right hand seems to be fidgeting impatiently, perhaps writing something invisibly.
[22:59:15] <Marina> "We weren't given orders to pursue further." Nothing escapes her lips, but she pauses for a moment after speaking, seeming to mouth the words 'we weren't ordered not to.'
[23:00:06] <Marina> "She… it may be easier to say 'it.' We don't understand quite -what- it is, but from the reports thus far there… supposedly haven't been many casualties. That we know of."
[23:02:21] <Henriette> As Marina's lips move silently, Henriette's face becomes one of intense focus followed by that of confusion. "I cannot understand you that quietly in Albaean, Marina… Please do not mumble. I want to hear all of what you have to say!"
[23:03:07] <Henriette> "A-anyway, did she- it not tell us it shared Lily's traits? Lily would not harm a mouse, let alone a township!"
[23:03:08] <Marina> "Yes, I'm sorry." Emotions evaporate from her face, leaving her as her stoic self. "Additionally, one pendant is missing."
[23:04:01] <Marina> From the depth of her sigh, it may be somewhat apparent that her face is stoic because she's forcing it to be. "From what we're aware, it is the monster."
[23:04:27] <Henriette> "Now you are speaking nonsense, I am sure of it."
[23:05:10] <Marina> "If only I were."
[23:05:51] <Marina> "Pressing the pendant into the monster… should have nullified its magic or disrupted it temporarily." She shakes her head. "No, could have. The problem is, it didn't."
[23:07:06] <Henriette> "The pendant? H-how do you know that would be the result? Shouldn't it have simply magnified its powers, since it spawned from Lily's own magic use?"
[23:08:35] <Marina> "No, it was just a guess. The logic… I guess I'll need to explain to you eventually. But we had no reason to think it would do that either- what it did was neither." She raises her teacup to… wait a second, she doesn't HAVE a teacup. She catches herself in the embarrassing motion and tries to pretend it was intentional. "To put it in Blevins' terms, it 'melted.'"
[23:10:20] <Henriette> Ignoring the teacup motion because oblivious, Henriette's face churns with thought about the pendant's effects. She's too engrossed to be junt grossed out by the melting bit. "Which makes it a danger how?"
[23:12:49] <Marina> "It became liquid, and from what we saw as we were forced to flee, it spread, like a pool of water. It…" She looks more embarrassed than proud at the next bit. "It seemed intent on engulfing your unconscious body too; carrying you to safety was also a hasty decision. It was like it didn't have a mind of its own anymore."
[23:15:37] <Henriette> "Then it is but a mindless horror now! We can strike without prejudice! A-and… wait… why have we not stopped the creature yet? Surely… surely we can handle it with all five!"
[23:17:55] <Marina> The albino shakes her head. "I'd like to think so too, but we understand nothing about it. We can't gauge its strength- three of us had trouble with it BEFORE it had its meal, so we have no way to tell how successful five of us would be, mindless horror or not." She coughs and gives Henri a stern look, reminding her that she might be getting a bit too excited. "Also, we only have four pendants now. One of us would be significantly weaker."
[23:18:59] <Henriette> "I-if that is the case, then surely it has magnified in strength…" Henriette responds, regaining her composure. "Can we do nothing then?"
[23:21:10] <Marina> "You may be forgetting that we're in the military- we haven't been given orders to pursue. And unlike last time, we have reason to believe that it COULD kill us. But…." She looks to the side, a spark in her eye.
[23:22:09] <Henriette> "I-if we've been asked to restrain, then I am not bothered by that!" Henriette says suddenly and eagerly.
[23:23:03] <Henriette> "I had a date with- Errr… I mean that I have o-obligations that I had hoped our assignment would not interrupt."
[23:23:40] <Marina> "But there isn't an assignment," she says with another sigh, crossing her arms. "As I said, our orders are standby."
[23:24:11] <Marina> "And you WERE beaten to near-death condition within 24 hours. Are you sure you're in any condition to do anything?"
[23:25:22] <Henriette> "That sort of order is alright with me!" Henriette says, a smile on her face. "I feel wonderful, frankly, like I have woken from a warm afternoon nap."
[23:26:55] <Marina> "There's also the matter of," Seriousness leaving her face for a second, Marina puts on a teasing grin, reaching over to the Gaulian and lightly pinching one of the wings at her back. The pinch is, of course, done with the hand that's still holding the cloth, so as to not get fingerprints all over it.
[23:26:59] <Marina> "These."
[23:28:51] <Henriette> "I…" Her excitement flounders with impressive quickness. "I had forgotten… But how am I to return to the school like this? I have no way of knowing how long they will last, if they ever disappear!"
[23:32:06] <Marina> "That's exactly what I'm trying to say." She spins around, revealing that she's been wearing clothing with an open back- from it juts out two tiny icicles, perhaps wrapped in a towel of their own to explain why they hadn't been getting Henri's bed wet. "I had some of my own, but they didn't seem to be very long-lasted after a break by a fireplace. Unlike mine, though, your reactions showed that yours may be somewhat less painless to remove."
[23:32:52] <Marina> Actually, less wrapped and more she's sitting on a towel, there we go. There's something cold running down her back and it doesn't look comfy to deal with. Hint: It's water.
[23:35:16] <Henriette> "Then… then I am stuck with them?" Her face bears a strong resemblence to a child being told they have lost their two front teeth and now they have an embarrassing lisp before a glint marks a change in opinion. "W-well… then maybe… maybe Dirk will not mind! You have said they are beautiful, yourself!"
[23:35:54] <Marina> "O-Oh," she fails at hiding a blush, "Well, they… they are, yes. But- Dirk."
[23:35:57] <Marina> "A civilian."
[23:36:12] <Marina> "You're going to show them to a civilian?"
[23:37:20] <Henriette> "Well, I will not stay locked up for my entire life!" she irritably replies. "I refuse!"
[23:38:35] <Marina> "I didn't imply you had to." Marina looks thoughtful, like an albino detective. "There should be some way to hide them."
[23:39:00] <Marina> "Going by the properties my own have when transformed… have you tried removing them? They don't look physically attached to your body."
[23:40:58] <Henriette> She turns around, offering them to Marina to try. "I did not know they were even THERE until you gestured at them…"
[23:42:05] <Marina> "Maybe my guess was wrong, then." She reaches with the clothed hand and begins to tug at one, looking up for reactions, and speaks in a much softer voice, "I'd been cleaning them all morning, though…"
[23:45:17] <Henriette> A soft gasp accompanies the strangest sensation Henriette has probably ever encountered. It's like there's a strain from her back, but none of her muscles are being pulled. It's painful in the same way one might feel if their finger were pulled back to far. "Stop! Stop! I do not like that fe- did you say cleaning? Did I get them dirty somehow?"
[23:46:55] <Marina> Stopped. "Well… no, but… yes… I mean… you spent some time on the ground during the fight… mostly I just wanted to make sure they were polished."
[23:49:07] <Henriette> "D-did you know I was going out…?" Henriette responds, trying to make sense of Marina's strange course of action.
[23:49:44] <Marina> "No. I just liked looking at them," she responds matter of factly.
[23:50:38] <Marina> … And then her stoicness cracks a bit. "But most of all I was seeing to your recovery, and it just seemed like the… logical thing to do to make sure they looked nice while I was doing so."
[23:52:19] <Henriette> Major blushing. Perhaps even like Stranahan would. Geddit? Major blushing? Hurrhurr. Get out. "Oh, well… at least you don't think they look weird. I th-think I could work them into a look with a nice dress… like jewelry."
[23:53:46] <Marina> "You mean… bringing them closer to your back and pretending they're mundane ornaments?" Marina scratches her chin. "I'd say that's too risky, but considering how he is in our class… it could work."
[23:55:21] <Henriette> "I-it could be worth a shot…"
[23:55:38] <Henriette> "Is that the phrase I wish to use?"
[23:56:45] <Marina> "Well, I'm not your advisor. If you get caught exposing magic to civilians, you'll be in your own heap of trouble." She gets up, taking her towel and cloth with her. "All I can do is wish you luck if that's what you're going to attempt."
[23:56:52] <Marina> "… But there's one more thing."
[23:58:07] <Marina> "Were you not at all curious when I said one of us would be 'significantly weakened' if we went after the monster with only four pendants? I didn't say 'incapable of combat,' you know."
[23:59:50] <Henriette> "I… I had thought perhaps two could share. I do not know how the pendants work…" She frowns. "I am not the type for thinking too much when there is work to be done."
[00:01:11] <Marina> "It seems most don't," she responds to the first part. "But that isn't true. At least, not that I know of. … And if you think about it, two of us would need to be uncomfortably close for that to work anyway."
[00:02:25] <Marina> "Everybody else has discussed it while you were unconscious, so at least I can make sure you're informed, LeClair- pendants may not be necessary to use magic."
[00:03:04] <Henriette> "Then… then perhaps I could learn to use my magic to disguise my wings!"
[00:03:58] <Marina> "I considered that too. The knowledge could be helpful, couldn't it?"
[00:04:19] <Marina> "However… it seems it doesn't come naturally. It takes some practice to use."
[00:05:17] <Marina> "You're welcome to try it if you think it'd help, but don't forget to consider that there may be a reason why we weren't told about it. Or the other properties of magic and pendants."
[00:06:53] <Henriette> "C-considering Lily's spawn? I would assume they would not want us to freely abuse our powers." Deep in thought, an idea occurs to her. "Perhaps it was meant to control us, too! There must always be a possibility of renegades, non?"
[00:08:44] <Marina> She nods, turning the doorknob. "All of those things are worth thinking about. But you seem to be able to move on your own now, so I'll leave you be- good luck with your, ahem, obligations."
[00:09:39] <Marina> "Also, you might be able to find leftovers of the Major's breakfast if you check downstairs."
[00:10:06] <Henriette> "Wait!" Henriette nearly tumbles from her bed with the sudden movement. "Are you going to tell the… the Major that I wanted… am leaving?"
[00:11:15] <Marina> The knob turns, and the door opens. "I have a report to make to her. I could, but I'll respect that you're able to tell her yourself before you leave," she says with a wink and steps out, closing the door behind her.
[00:13:53] <Henriette> "Then…" But the door is closed. "Oh… I understand." A small smile creeps onto her face as she peers at a glossy reflection of herself in her wings. "Now, I simply have to figure out how to work these into a look… J'ai une robe blanche que je pourrais utiliser…" Her hands rummage through her closet for the right things to wear. This could work out!
[00:14:04] <Henriette> </mini>
[15:18:27] * Oxford changes topic to 'Boat Rentals Available - Inquire Within'
[15:21:37] <~Oxford> Henriette slips through the wrought iron Wightshead gate and closes it behind her, on her way down into town for a meeting with a certain local boy. The sun has emerged from behind the cloud, and the trees along the road sparkle as the light reflects off captive raindrops.
[15:26:23] <Henriette> Dressed in a sensible white dress, Henriette breathes relief that Marina was kind enough to polish the glassy wings now tied to her back. As it turns out, tying them down is mildly uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as trying to pull them off, and they sit glittering against her back with a white sash tethering them to her midsection. She's trying to pass them off as a fashion statement.
[15:26:23] <Henriette> It probably looks far flashier than necessary, though. Still, eyes on the docks further down the road, the smile couldn't be wiped from her face unless she were stood up or something.
[15:27:06] <~Oxford> The road in to Ternwald is a muddy mess, but the raised banks on either side have stayed reasonably dry, having been sheltered under the overhanging branches. The temperature is cool but not chilly, and the air is very still and moist.
[15:30:59] <~Oxford> The beach village is radiant in the post-storm glow. Water drips from the eaves of brightly-colored bungalows, and the colorful flowers lining the windowsills are a shade fuller from the recent rains.
[15:32:29] <Henriette> The droplets clinging to the reflective parts of her 'outfit' cast a dazzling pattern at her feet, which are clad in sensible galoshes. In a bag she carries with her are a nicer pair of shoes for when they go out on the boat, but the vinyl boots are suitable for getting wet. Her white flats inside are not. A merry tune echoes from her throat as she makes the trek down, reminiscent of
[15:32:29] <Henriette> the Gaulian songs her father used to play on phonograph.
[15:33:55] <~Oxford> Down by the piers, Henriette sees a sandy-haired boy about her age perched atop a piling, drinking a glass of something light-green. He sees her approaching - how could he not, dressed as she is? - and waves a hello while she's still at the far end of the street.
[15:41:10] <Henriette> She returns the wave with her right hand as her left adjusts her hair, which has been carefully coiled into a Fre- Gaulian braid down her shoulder. It's a startlingly orchestrated look, but Henriette has probably spent more time on a school day getting it just so. She's far more nervous about the wings than her hair, to be honest.
[15:45:56] <~Oxford> He sets down his glass and trots over to her, slowing as he draws near to take in the elaborate costume. "Hey," he says brightly, a smile spreading across his tanned face. "That's some get-up you're-" he starts, and then catches himself. "I mean, you look really, really, pretty."
[15:49:56] <Henriette> "Oh! Well, I… I hope I didn't over… overdo it," she mumbles out. Her face goes beet red, and her bandaged right wrist reflexively falls behind her back. "There were circonstances atténuantes- ah… how is it said…? I hoped to make a good impression in something other than a uniform."
[15:51:57] <~Oxford> He laughs and walks a quick half-circle around her, looking at the outfit from every angle. "No, it's great. I've never seen you without your uniform, but I should've guessed you were fashionable."
[15:52:37] <~Oxford> When he makes it back to her side, he reaches down to take her hand. "C'mon, I'll show you to my skiff!"
[15:59:21] <Henriette> Reluctantly, her right hand reaches up and around to grasp the crook of his arm, like Mrs. Carlisle taught her. The gauze wrapped around the wrist holds it still stiffly, and it's clear that it's too keep her from hurting herself as flexing her fingers causes her breathing to accelerate slightly. "J'aimerais ça! Ah… I would like that, I mean."
[16:03:23] <~Oxford> Dirk hesitates slightly as she takes his arm, suddenly finding himself outside his depth in terms of formality. Rather than dashing off down the dock, he walks slowly and somewhat stiffly along the pier, eyes constantly flicking between his destination and Henriette's face.
[16:04:47] <~Oxford> Still, he plows ahead with the conversation. "I was thinking we could go out and circle the point. There's a little inlet on the other side where can go swimming, and I brought lunch if we get hungry…"
[16:08:19] <Henriette> Despite her discomforting new appendages and injured wrist, Henriette seems rather happy out and about. Her smile is persistant and perhaps even a little infectious. "That sounds delightful, Dirk. I am… eager for some normalcy, and this boat trip sounds excitant!"
[16:13:22] <~Oxford> He smiles and leads her the rest of the way to his boat. "Welp, here she is," he says proudly, waving his arm expansively over what is, in fact, a rather small, squat-looking vessel, lashed to a cleat on the dock by its bowline.
[16:15:59] <~Oxford> Dirk hops lightly down into the cockpit, and then extends a hand to help Henriette follow. "She's a catboat; bought her used from my uncle. He's a fisher, but since he moved to diesel this one was just collecting barnacles…"
[16:17:32] <Henriette> "Ooooh, Dirk, it… err… she looks de toute beauté!" Henriette replies, enamored by the simple fact that she can spend some time with someone not wrapped up in the military mess she's in. Stepping onto the boat, the swaying catches her by surprise, and she grips his arm tightly until he helps her down below. "A catboat? Is that because cats fish?"
[16:21:23] <~Oxford> He laughs amiably. "Oh, that's good, I never thought of that one. But it's called a catboat because of how it's rigged." He takes a seat across from her on the cockpit bench, holding up one hand to shade his eyes and gesturing toward the mast with the other. "See how the mast is a lot further forward than usual? Any time you have a single-sail boat like that, it's called being 'cat-rigged'."
[16:24:05] <Henriette> "Oh! Je comprends!" Eyeing the bench warily, she takes a seat in the spot that looks the least likely to dirty her dress and carefully ensures her wings won't get bumped around. Are they… compressing to allow her to sit better? Nah, must be how she sits. "Does that… help the boat move then?" she asks, reaching into her bag to switch shoes.
[16:26:33] <~Oxford> "Ah, just let me get us underway; you'll be able to see how it works easier then." Dirk climbs up out of the cabin and scampers back to the dock, where he unties the cleat hitch and gives the bow a firm push out into the harbor. "Ah, grab the tiller for me, would you? Just hold it steady," he calls back to her.
[16:28:24] <Henriette> "The… the tiller?" she calls, looking frantically from part to part. Something moving? "Is that this lever here?"
[16:31:44] <~Oxford> The place she is sitting contains only one such lever, a weathered piece of wood about a metre long that rotates left or right in a slot at the rear of the cockpit. Its end is rounded from years of use.
[16:35:47] * Aori_Radisleep is now known as Aori_Radidjiu
[16:36:21] <Henriette> Feeling confident that this is what he's referring to, Henriette grasps the lever gently, trying to put most of the weight on her left hand. With Dirk gone from the cockpit, her muscles tense, including the wings on her back, which contract involuntarily.
[16:41:38] <~Oxford> As she does, he leaps back onto the deck, touching the stays lightly for balance. He goes to work on a cleat on the mast, loosening the halyard and hoisting the sail hand-over-hand to the top of the mast. The exertion leaves the muscles of his arms standing out beneath his thin white t-shirt. With the sail raised, the catboat begins to pick up speed.
[16:44:50] <Henriette> "O-oh!" Henriette gasps, surprised at the sudden required effort on the tiller. The breeze from movement is delightful, however, and the braided locks on her shoulders stir. "That was quick, Dirk! I did not expect such une réponse so quickly." Awe clearly coats her expression, but her hands stay attached to the lever even though there's a strain on her wrist.
[16:48:09] <~Oxford> "Yeah!" he replies with a smile, cleating off the halyard and making his way back to the cockpit. "The wind doesn't feel like much, but once you get the sail up she really takes off."
[16:49:14] <~Oxford> He reaches lazily toward the tiller, but stops as he notices Henriette's hands still on it. "Say, you're doing pretty well. You're sure you haven't done this before?"
[16:51:35] <Henriette> "Non! I am simply holding o-on," she replies, and her eagerness in seeing him return to take control means her efforts lessen and a sharp jerk pulls her uncomfortably forwards. "Oh! Oww…" she murmurs, massaging her bandaged right wrist while trying to maintain a grip on the lever. She's probably holding on way too hard.
[16:54:57] <~Oxford> "Here," Dirk says, resting his own hand lightly but firmly over hers. "Don't try to fight the boat, just kind of guide it. See?" The catboat heels gently as the wind fills its sail and speeds it toward the open sea.
[16:57:53] <Henriette> Her face reflects obvious discomfort, but his hand over hers is comforting and her efforts renew. "Je comprends… I just… expected control to be more… exigeant et less… guider," she responds.
[17:01:32] <~Oxford> "Well, in a sailboat, you're dependent on lots of outside things. The wind, the rain, the sea… lots of stuff that's bigger than you. You can't fight your way through them; you just have to go with it." Judging by his relaxed smile, he doesn't find the prospect at all discomfitting.
[17:06:27] <Henriette> His receptiveness to her Gaulian language, which she only retrospectively realizes she's been using, puts a warm glow on her face. "Isn't that ardu when vous are effrayé? Perhaps the winds wish to capsize your ship!"
[17:13:45] <~Oxford> The further the small boat gets from shore, the more the wind picks up, until the little skiff's deck is as slanted as the Wightshead's roof, and Henriette has to hang on to keep herself from sliding off the cockpit bench. Dirk seems more worried by Henriette's comment, though. "No no, this is fine," he calls over the sound of waves and seaspray, "just a nice, stiff breeze."
[17:17:00] <Henriette> "So you do not take it- her out when the waters are… how is it said… choppy?" Henriette queries, struggling to maintain a grip on the steering. She tries to slide into such a position that she can use Dirk to brace against, her left shoulder against his chest. "I am sorry, though! I am not strong enough to manage alone!"
[17:20:25] <~Oxford> He smiles and wraps his arm around her to grip the tiller, pulling her in close with the same motion. "Don't worry, I've got you," he says quietly into her ear, and flashes a warm smile at her.
[17:25:34] <Henriette> Strangely enough, Henriette's wings are far less cold than their glassy texture would suggest. Against Dirk's frame, they flex and fold a bit between Henriette's back and his own chest, and they have roughly the same temperature as Henriette's skin. "I know…" Henriette murmurs. Then louder: "Is this what you want to do when you are older, Dirk? Sailing?"
[17:29:55] <~Oxford> He nods, still smiling. "Yeah! Once the War is over, I want to buy a big sailing yacht and do charters in the Marenostrum archipelago."
[17:32:10] <~Oxford> "Pa thinks I should fish like he does, but that's not for me. All the fishing boats are diesel now, and anyway it's tough to make a living doing just that."
[17:34:12] <Henriette> "That… that sounds lovely…" she says, her smile weakening slightly. "I want to design clothing everyone will like. I… I hurt my wrist though, and it is pénible to sew. I was heureux that you relied on me to steer, though!"
[17:38:55] <~Oxford> "Well, you looked like you were trying hard, so I didn't want you to think you weren't doing a good job," he explains casually, and then blushes. "Er, I mean, you /were/ doing a good job. I didn't want to give you the wrong idea! I… anyway, what happened to your wrist?" he asks, deciding to just change the subject.
[17:43:12] <Henriette> "Non! I am très content you are showing me the… err… ropes." She leans in closer to him and redoubles her efforts to contribute to the steering, but as she glances down at her wrist, there is hesitation. What to say to excuse it? "I… I… err… tripped… Oui, tripped." It's an awful lie. "Non… I did not trip. I…"
[17:44:04] <Henriette> Trailing off, she appears as though she will burst into tears any second. Stoically, she spoke to Marina, but now her fear grips tightly on her.
[17:49:00] <~Oxford> Dirk notices the look on her face, and he turns away just long enough to give the main line a tug, letting out the boom and luffing the sails. The boat begins to slow as air spills from the sail, allowing him to turn his concentration to where it's needed. "Henriette?" he asks, putting his hands on her shoulders gently. "What's wrong?"
[17:55:37] <Henriette> "I… I mustn't," she responds. "It is informations interdites…" The boat's slower speed lets her relinquish her grip on the tiller, but almost instantaneously her fingers attempt to mime a knitting motion, which strains her right wrist. She turns unsteadily, using Dirk's hold on her for leverage, and grasps him in an embrace instead. "Je suis désolé. Je suis tellement désolé. I
[17:55:37] <Henriette> am using you. I wanted to be normal for un court moment! Mais non!" Her tone turns bitter and angry and frightened all at once.
[18:02:26] <~Oxford> He returns the embrace immediately, without really thinking about it. One hand touches the back of her head and presses it in against his shoulder. "Shh, hey now," he hushes, "everything's fine. You're normal to me." They sway slightly, in time with the waves rocking the boat, like a couple during a slow dance. "You're better than normal. You're beautiful."
[18:07:55] <Henriette> Her sobs, muffled by Dirk's shirt, seem naught more than a bird's call above the lapping waves. "I am not normal, though… I am hiding un grave secrète from you, and… you will not think so if I tell you…" Angrily, she thinks of how this came to be. Lily's monstrosity. The Major's lack of threat assessment. Marina's foolish ploy to stop the creature. There is reason enough to hold
[18:07:56] <Henriette> animosity towards each and every one of her flightmates for some reason or another. Dare she be selfish and drag Dirk into it as well?
[18:14:23] <~Oxford> "Of course I will," he whispers in reply, his mouth by her ear, "of course I'll still think you are, of course…" The shore is hazy on the horizon, and the water around them is empty for miles in every direction. The girl and the boy have nobody but each other.
[18:18:43] <Henriette> Rather than saying anything at first, instead, Henriette pushes him away gently and assures herself she is steady on her feet before reaching upwards to pull the sash holding her wings down apart. "These… are not objet décoratif… They are… well…" They float back to their home position a couple inches from her shoulder blades and flex hesitantly, light playing from their surface
[18:18:43] <Henriette> onto the walls of the cockpit. "I…"
[18:27:01] <~Oxford> The polished wings catch the sun as the boat rocks back and forth, sending splotches of white light dancing over the sail and surf. Dirk, who had stood up with Henriette, falls back into the cockpit and sits down hard. "I…what are…" he stammers, unable to take his eyes off of her. "…some kind of angel…"
[18:32:55] <Henriette> "Mais non! Je ne suis pas un ange!" she cries. "I am still Henriette. Just… not normal. Un monstre!" Unsure of what to do- should she back away and assume rejection or seek his acceptance?- she fidgets in place. "I did not ask for such a malédiction. You believe me, non? S'il vous plaît?"
[18:38:08] <~Oxford> Dirk puts his hands on his knees to stop them shaking, and takes several long, slow breaths. "Y-yeah," he says, weakly at first but growing more firm as he speaks. "Yeah. You're still Henriette. Of course I believe you." He stands back up and puts his hands on her upper arms and looks into her eyes. "You're not a monster, you're Henriette."
[18:43:51] <Henriette> She gazes back into his eyes for a moment, trying to understand his thoughts. Does he really believe her? "Oh! Ça me fait peur encore. I do not wish you to think any different of me. I just want someone to treat me like une fille normale- a normal girl and not… not some arme ou un outil!" Still angry at all the causes of her mutation, she wraps her arms around his midsection and holds
[18:43:51] <Henriette> him tightly. "These horrible things! Ma malédiction! Et mon poignet…"
[18:51:38] <~Oxford> He returns the embrace, responding as best he can to the parts he understands. "I'll…sure. I can do that. Treat you like a normal girl. Of course." Standing the way they are is a little awkward, between leaning on each other and the swaying of the boat. Dirk tries to get Henriette to sit back down in the cockpit.
[18:57:17] <Henriette> Reluctant to let go now, Henriette sits down and watches Dirk carefully. "Promise? No one else must know!" she pleads, hands wringing together in her lap. "If… if anyone knew I showed you… they would take me away from here, away from mes amis et mon éducation." She turns to stare beyond the windows of the cockpit. "And you… I do not know what horrible things they would do to me…"
[19:03:43] <~Oxford> He nods quickly, anxious to reassure her. "I promise, I won't tell anyone. You can trust me."
[19:08:45] <Henriette> A heavy sigh sinks over Henriette. The soft sounds of the waves around them slowly lull her back into a soft calm. "Je suis désolé… for making this trip so bizarre. I cannot know what you are thinking now…" Her hands hold onto the bench, gripping firmly despite the discomfort of an injured wrist. "These are the side effects of my… job. J'imagine que c'est… un- a job, I mean.
[19:08:46] <Henriette> I am protecting Albaea from Gaulian and Novgoraadi aircraft through… magic, I guess."
[19:14:32] <~Oxford> Dirk blinks and wrinkles his brow. Then a look of comprehension dawns on his face. "Protecting us from aircraft… Then, you really /are/ an Angel!" He lets go of Henriette and rocks back on the bench, grinning in amazement. "Wow…"
[19:16:41] * Tim (PI.C4C48F2.BA892C34.4C82A832|alliztahc#PI.C4C48F2.BA892C34.4C82A832|alliztahc) has joined #WorldWarBurst
[19:17:47] <Henriette> Well, at least he doesn't think she's an otherworldly being or something. "Oui… if you want to call it that. I am able to utilize the… technology they use to fight them, but… there are consequences…" Wings. Duh. "And I am beginning to regret… what is the word… forgoing my normal life to contribute. I… just wanted to prove that though I am Gaulian, I care about my home…"
[19:17:47] <Henriette> and with a steady gaze into his eyes, her face serious and uncompromising. "And friends I want to be close to."
[19:25:56] <~Oxford> He meets her gaze, and his smile fades to match her expression. "I want to be one of those people," Dirk says softly. "I want to be close to you." He leans forward.
[19:30:26] <Henriette> Blushing fiercely, Henriette chooses instead to rise and take a seat right next to Dirk before leaning inward to reciprocate the obvious desire to kiss. It's… hesitant at first, like she's never done this before, and her wings cast the yellow sunlight forwards over their faces. She grips his arm tightly, letting him decide how the kiss goes.
[19:37:00] <~Oxford> /mini
[19:59:06] * Oxford changes topic to 'This Honour is hereby granted in recognition for outstanding service, above and beyond that expected of an Officer in Her Imperial Majesty's Air Force…'
[20:03:21] <~Oxford> Through the windows of the cupola at the crest of Wightshead's peaked roof, the surrounding countryside is spread out like a panorama, painted in the sunset shades of dusk. The white-framed windows are open, to allow the hot air in the house to rise and escape, replaced by the cool breeze coming in over the water.
[20:08:09] <~Oxford> Space inside the round wooden structure perched atop the estate is tight - just wide enough for Lily's outstretched arms to touch on both side. A quarter of the floorspace is given to a simple ladder-hole, while the rest is unpainted wood beneath her bare feet.
[20:08:54] <Lily> Lily takes in the hiiiiiiigh view here, it's a little scary, in a way that flying actually isn't because you know you won't fall. Or at least, are pretty sure you won't.
[20:12:13] <~Oxford> The sound of bootsteps on the metal rungs of the ladder distract her from the golden sunset, sparkling across the waves through the trees. Major Stranahan's voice calls up from below: "Space for one more?"
[20:12:47] <Lily> "Of course!" She scoooches over to make sure Stranahan has room.
[20:16:56] <~Oxford> Her head pops up at the top of the ladder, flashes a sad smile, and pulls the rest of her body up behind it. She leans against the north side of the tiny room, facing out across the cupola towards the sea. "I think it's time we had that talk, Lily."
[20:18:26] <Lily> "…uh-huh." She leans against the other side of the room, facing the same way Stranahan is.
[20:21:57] <~Oxford> "You don't really see the Novs as an enemy," Stranahan begins, self-consciously sweeping a stray lock of hair from her face. "They're just people to you. I understand why that makes your job harder."
[20:24:02] <Lily> "…we have planes just like them, and there are other girls on their side just like us shooting down our planes, since you said they have pendants too…" Her voice is a lot quieter and slower than usual.
[20:29:03] <~Oxford> "Are you saying they're no different than us, or that we're no better than them?" The Major shakes her head, and Lily can see the reflection of her, ghostlike, in the glass of the window. "They're nothing like us, and we're nothing like them."
[20:30:29] <Lily> "If there wasn't a war…do you think you'd think about other countries at all?"
[20:33:22] <~Oxford> "Personally? I wonder…" Stranahan leans an elbow on the windowsill and touches her thumb to her lips in thought. "If I was still in the Air Force, I would. It's part of the job."
[20:33:41] <~Oxford> "What's the phrase? 'If you want peace, prepare for war.'"
[20:35:33] <Lily> "I just wonder, does the average person really think much beyond what's in front of them? Would most Albaeans or most Novs ever think about the toehr cultures at all if their life didn't directly include them?"
[20:36:30] <Lily> *other
[20:40:36] <~Oxford> "Average people…maybe," she says, "but they only have that luxury because the military is there to protect them. It's because of people like us that civilians can lead normal, peaceful lives."
[20:41:59] <Lily> "That's true, but in war times, normal people, like myself…especially like myself, are drafted into the military."
[20:45:43] <~Oxford> The Major's reflection frowns, silhouetted against the gathering dark. "First, you're not normal. You have a special ability, a gift that you can use to defend our nation. Second, normal people can sometimes be…short-sighted. Selfish. Everybody wants somebody to protect them, but there aren't enough people willing to take the risks and do it themselves."
[20:50:56] <Lily> Lily's eyebrows furrow as she thinks of something to say to that, before finally responding. "I…didn't think I'd have to kill anyone when I got this job. I thought I could be a nurse or use my special pendant powers to help people instead of…hurting them."
[20:54:56] <~Oxford> "Nurses are important, Lily, but they don't win wars. I know you don't like to hurt people, but that's what your country needs from you right now."
[20:57:39] <Lily> "My country…" She pauses on that a bit.
[20:59:47] <~Oxford> "I know it isn't easy," the Major continues. "It wasn't easy for me, either. At first I tried to stay in the back, try not to be noticed…"
[21:07:41] <Lily> "…when I'd heard about wars when I was younger I'd always thought that it was possible to win without killing anyone wars are like those big fights that rams have over the females where they butt heads against each other until one of them can't anymore all you have to win is to make it more painful for your opponent to continue than it is for them to quit so I figured if you captured
[21:07:42] <Lily> a bunch of enemies from the other side and put 'em in prison and threatened to execute them if they don't surrender and to hand them back if they did you'd be able to win without killing anyone because once you have enough people taken away from them it's really painful not to have anyone tending the farms or running the hospitals or managing the money so they'd need that more than they'd
[21:07:42] <Lily> need to win and they'd do that but it's not possible because capturing people is hard and being nice is hard and having the moral high ground is hard and there aren't any morals involved anyway it's just attempts at land grabs and power grabs and wanting to have the bigger stick and…and…"
[21:07:58] <Lily> …she takes a deep breath and tries to continue, but seems to have run out of words.
[21:14:49] <~Oxford> The words reverberate through the cupola for a moment after she finishes speaking, like a choirbell that's un-damped too quickly. Stranahan opens her mouth to respond, but pauses and instead turns to her left, to look out over the patterns of light and shadow dancing over the treetops to the east.
[21:16:59] * BigTentacruel (ten.labolgcbs.agrkut.deepsthgil.F95198D5-xus|rcatneTgiB#ten.labolgcbs.agrkut.deepsthgil.F95198D5-xus|rcatneTgiB) has joined #WorldWarBurst
[21:17:45] <~Oxford> "It isn't…just about power," she says at last, frowning down at the landscape below. "It's about how you use it. What it's put toward. I know the military doesn't always do the right thing, but compared to the Novs, they're saints."
[21:18:19] * Tim is now known as Koumugi_Takagi
[21:18:37] <Lily> "…and that's why I wish I could use my power for something else."
[21:23:59] <~Oxford> "I think," the Major says, resting her chin in her hands, "I think I wanted that too, once." She turns back to Lily and smiles the same small, sad smile she had when she entered the cupola. "It's funny, but for the life of me, I can't remember what I wanted to be when I grew up. Back when I was your age, I mean."
[21:28:45] <Lily> "You…can't?"
[21:37:02] <~Oxford> She shrugs. "It was a long time ago, and during the war - in Cimbria, I mean - I saw things that…" Stranahan sighs and crosses her arms. "Just, afterwards, the world didn't make any sense if I couldn't be a soldier."
[21:39:36] <Lily> "I…well…I can understand you wanting to change your goal in life, but…"
[21:40:08] <Lily> "That's like not remembering who you used to be! It's like thinking you just popped out of your mom the way you are right now, that's kind of…sad…"
[21:44:39] <~Oxford> "It isn't like I don't remember anything," Erica says quietly, "but none of the things I believed as a kid make sense to me anymore. Thinking that the world is a nice place. Thinking everybody could get along if they tried. Thinking bad people would be punished for their sins. I can't figure out where those beliefs came from, or what made me think that, or why I hung onto them for so long."
[21:54:03] <Lily> She frowns. "Even if some of my old ideas are weird, I understand where they came from! To get where I am now, I had to realize my ideas were strange, sure, but I always kept track of how I thought before! I can remember most of myself since I was 6, back when I thought the government was full of fairies who were guiding humans to be more like the fair folk~!"
[22:04:42] <~Oxford> Stranahan laughs softly, a single solitary giggle that she tries unsuccessfully to hide behind her hand. The brass of her cuff-button catches the dying light and gleams like gold. "It's good, really. That you haven't seen anything that'd change you like that." The smile fades again. "But for me, seeing what the Novgoraadi would do…"
[22:07:03] <Lily> "War drives people to do scary things. I hear some of the ancients would salt and burn the fields of some of their enemies so that they could never have farmland again, although doing that kind of thing often is impractical…"
[22:12:45] <~Oxford> "If that's what it takes to stop your enemy, that's what you do. 'Novgoraad must be destroyed'. They're the ones who started this, with their stupid holy war, and I'll do whatever it takes to end them."
[22:15:30] <Lily> "…well, I will agree that the idea of a holy war is stupid…"
[22:19:34] <Lily> "The idea that all who are unlike you are anathema to all that is good is stupid…"
[22:22:05] <~Oxford> "They killed them," Erica says, barely above a whisper. "My whole squad, my friends, and for no other reason than that they wanted a better port to park their fleets in."
[22:25:17] <~Oxford> "I know the average Nov soldier isn't to blame for all that. I mean…" She raises her hand toward her face and looks at it sadly. "I'm sorry. I think I scared the others, when they brought that pilot you captured in. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to do."
[22:26:38] <Lily> Lily doesn't give a word, just turning around to give Erica an unprompted hug.
[22:33:11] <~Oxford> Erica brings the hand down and uses it to give her head a pat. "I would've died back there, like everyone else, but I was rescued by someone… important to me. From then on, this is all I wanted to do."
[22:33:58] <~Oxford> "Well, anyway. It doesn't matter," she adds quickly. "What's important is that you understand your duties here."
[22:36:19] <Lily> "…well, okay."
[22:36:28] <Lily> She lets go and looks out the window again.
[22:43:28] <~Oxford> The sun has sunk below the horizon, and only cool moonlight reflects off of the rippling leaves of the trees. "I won't ask you to kill anyone, but you can't attack your teammates when they do," Stranahan says, her tone sounding more impersonal. "That's treason. And pretty soon, I won't be here to protect you."
[22:44:22] <Lily> "…I understand."
[22:53:13] <~Oxford> The Major nods her head and sighs. "Alright. In that case, you should get down from here and get some rest."
[22:54:30] <Lily> "…all right." She turns to leave through the ladder hole, then stops right before it. "Um…who's that person you mentioned?"
[23:01:53] <~Oxford> "Nobody important," she says, gazing out into the gloom with a nostalgic look on her face. "Just the captain of a tank company. He was in the right place at the right time, and he saved my life even though he was ordered not to." She takes in a deep breath of the cool air. "To me, he was a hero."
[23:05:21] <Lily> "…all right, then I'll make sure to be a hero." She climbs down the ladder, now, leaving Stranahan alone.
[23:18:57] <~Oxford> With nothing but the moonlight and the whispering wind for company, the ex-rising star of the Albaean Air Force sits for long while in the cupola. She delves into the fragile memories of her past, before the horrors and the heroes, to a time when life was simpler. A time when she was happy.
[23:19:01] <~Oxford> /session