[15:08:37] * Oxford changes topic to 'FBC Selmy - The Draugs - 'The Highland's Premier Rugby Club''
[15:46:15] <Marina> PRESENT DAY - After a meeting with Col. Vaughn, our albino heroine walks up the stairs of Wightshead to Henriette's room, opening the door without a knock. What she's greeted with is the sight of the Gaulian girl leaping out the window, to which she politely closes the door back to how it was and curls her lips into a smile. "Good girl," she says to herself in a hushed whisper, and continues along- it's Bridget's room where she stops, raising a fist to the door and hesitating. Every few seconds she brings it closer, prepared to knock, and stops. Frustrated, she eventually gives up after a full fruitless minute and leans against the Princess' room's door, crossing her arms and scowling.
[15:47:05] <Bridget> "Oi!" Bridget can be heard on the other side, opening up the door. "Wot caen Ae dae yae fer?"
[15:48:04] <Marina> "Eek!" Marina almost falls flat on her face, scrambling as the door rams into her backside. She turns around, clearly flustered. "It's… nothing… I apologize."
[15:48:17] <Marina> "I mean, sorry. I mean, I didn't intend to bother you."
[15:48:33] <Marina> It's probably been a few days since the last time the albino dared to speak to her at all(?).
[15:48:34] <Bridget> "Ah? What'cha wont?"
[15:48:58] <Bridget> She looks at Marina curiously.
[15:49:13] <Marina> "I was just…" She looks down, eyeing the floorboards. Floorcarpet? Floor. "… You're not busy now, are you?"
[15:50:28] <Bridget> "Nae!" she grins, grabbing Marina's arm and pulling her in, locking the door after. She sits Marina down on her bed, and Bridget sits across from her, grinning.
[15:51:20] <Marina> "Aa-" She gasps but gives in, letting herself get pulled along like a ragdoll. Once seated, she looks more nervous than ever, and isn't drinking tea for once. Maybe the two are related?
[15:51:51] <Marina> "It's just… I'm just curious."
[15:52:06] <Bridget> "Aye?"
[15:52:55] <Marina> "Your identity. Why did you let it… be known? If it's something that major, you could have easily kept it quiet." She looks at the wall, somewhat vacant. "I'm still not sure if I believe it myself."
[15:54:55] <Bridget> A moment, a sigh. "You had mentioned it to Us, that who We were did not determine what We needed to do and that you felt that We would be the same regardless of who We were. We are not used to that." a look down. "We….like you a great deal Marina. It is difficult for Us to express that oftentimes. But you have beaten Us in fair combat and We respect that."
[15:57:07] <Marina> A hand raises to half-cover Marina's forehead. "That… I… see. I understand. Yes, your identity doesn't define who you are… to some." The last part of the line is whispered, grunted even. "Sorry, I'm not sure I'm used to those dramatic changes in speech of yours yet. Not to mention the Royal 'We' is something I've only read about in books."
[15:59:15] <Marina> "But it's… different. I don't plan to treat you any differently myself, but…. aaargh." Her head gets buried in her hands. "I just wish I didn't know, I guess."
[16:01:12] <Bridget> "We…are aware." A grin. "Talking like this is not easy for Us to do. Our accent is rather firmly ingrained." before Bridget places an arm around Marina's shoulder and pulls her into a hug. "Aye? Ae dunnae amend yae knaughing." She smiles a little more and hugs Marina tighter. "Ae raspect yae sae Aem' faen with yae' knaughing."
[16:02:24] <Marina> "I.." She sniffles and then smiles, returning the hug best she can. "Alright. I'll respect you as a combatant no matter who you are, anyway- in fact, I thought I'd ask if you'd be willing to spar again sometime."
[16:04:09] <Marina> "It might take a bit of practice, though. After all, neither of us would be able to get away with it with our pendants on again," her stoic shell cracks and she lets out a bit of a giggle.
[16:07:39] <Bridget> A small nod and a giggle of her own. "Aye. Caould use Aeur fists!"
[16:08:29] <Marina> "… I wish." She quietly scoffs and breaks the grip, looking down. "If I were that physically capable, I never would have needed magic in the first place."
[16:09:19] <Bridget> A moment. Clearing her throat. "Would you mind telling Us why you agreed to serve?"
[16:10:37] <Marina> "It was just… to…" Her already-red eyes begin to well up, but she wipes them before they start pouring red streams again. Staring straight into Bridget's eyes, she gives up after a moment and sighs.
[16:11:11] <Bridget> Another hug. Tightly. "Yae caen cry. Ae won't tael."
[16:11:18] <Marina> "My father was in the military. I wanted to be like him." She blushes and turns away, like she just revealed an embarrassing secret. "That's all."
[16:13:18] <Marina> She stops making eye contact too. "It's… nothing significant. I just felt I needed to prove myself."
[16:14:49] <Marina> Not hugging back this time, Marina looks down to her hands. Shaking. After some effort they stop. "Like I am… I probably wouldn't have lived very long. Discovering magic was nothing short of a miracle- then again, I suppose that's what magic is usually considered in folklore anyway."
[16:16:12] <Bridget> Bridget doesn't pry. She just nods and hugs more. After a few moments. Minutes really. "Ae'm glad ye daed it."
[16:17:09] <Marina> Ohh yeah, Marina is definitely not one to break the awkward silence herself after something like that. "… Thank you."
[16:18:31] <Marina> "Being emotional isn't my strong point." Finally, she leans back on the bed with a sigh. "It isn't very feminine. It's no wonder boys have never been interested in me."
[16:18:56] <Bridget> "Ae…Ae lake ye." After a few more moments. "Laek all tha' squad. Baet….yer'…" Bridget blushes a little, a lot really, it shows up on her face. "Baet thaer' stuupid."
[16:19:14] <Bridget> "Ae'm interested~" she grins, reddening even more.
[16:20:05] <Marina> "Hehe. Stuup- … ah." Her eyes widen, transforming their juicy red centers into tiny dots. "Interested? W-Well, that wasn't quite… what I meant."
[16:21:09] <Bridget> Bridget giggles and gets up, unlocking the door and giving Marina another hug. "Aye. 's nae problem! Jus' yer' nae ugly n' Ae laek ye' a lot!"
[16:22:11] <Marina> "Oh… uh…" Marina CLEARLY has no clue what to do, returning the hug. After a few seconds she relaxes more. "Well… I suppose you're not entirely wrong about them."
[16:22:51] <Bridget> "Aem a' Princess! Ae'm never wrong!"
[16:23:14] <Marina> "Right now they're on a wild goose chase for LeClair on Col. Vaughn's orders." She stands up herself, rolling her eyes. "Leave it to an old man to understand a young girl's heart."
[16:24:57] <Marina> "I actually came to visit because I was curious how you entertain yourself in dull times." Her face is still a LITTLE red but it's okay because it matches her eyes. "I'd finished all of today's chores, and even I feel like I spend too much time alone lately."
[16:26:15] <Bridget> Bridget grins. "We are asking you to keep this secret" she pounds a segment on her wall and….there's a bookshelf in there. Hidden. With tons of books!
[16:26:44] <Bridget> "We enjoy reading :3"
[16:27:04] <Marina> Marina's eyes sparkle. "Are… All of these yours?"
[16:27:08] <Marina> What kind of books are they~?
[16:27:42] <Bridget> Many histories and fictional books! Some science books! War reports though these appear to be more stories.
[16:28:53] <Marina> 10/10, they just get even sparklier. "I can't believe it… you actually FOUND something by this author? And this volume, every library I'd been to was missing it!"
[16:29:09] <Marina> "Oh… uhm… I'm sorry."
[16:30:16] <Marina> "… Hee."
[16:30:39] <Marina> "Hehehe. I'm amazed that THAT'S what you ask to be kept secret and not 'being a princess.'"
[16:31:04] <Marina> "You certainly are the most unusual person I've met."
[16:33:28] <Bridget> "Mmmm, Ae tare~" she laughs.
[16:33:30] <Bridget> trae*
[16:35:13] <Marina> "I see… you might be missing some that I have." She bends over, observing each shelf in detail. "Maybe you'd like to borrow some of mine at some point?"
[16:35:30] <Bridget> "Aye!"
[16:36:06] <Marina> "Okay then," Marina says with a girlish smile unbefitting her usual self. "I'll bring some over sometime- don't worry, I won't tell the others."
[16:36:25] <Marina> "In fact, now might not be the worst time while they're all occupied."
[16:37:46] <Bridget> "Aye!" again, even more eager, giggling as she gives Marina a kiss on the cheek, impulsive
[16:38:00] <Marina> Marina STRAIGHTENS THE FUCK UP.
[16:38:45] <Marina> … And then loosens up a second later. "I've already mentioned you're unusual once today… so I guess I don't need to again."
[16:39:09] <Marina> "But for some reason, I feel more comfortable around you than most other people… I must be strange too."
[16:42:51] <Bridget> "Ae'm plaenty straenge!"
[16:42:59] <Bridget> She smirks. Looking pleased really.
[16:44:14] <Marina> "Well, at least I don't have to worry about offending you." Standing up, she tries to be stoic as usual, but can't help smiling. "Stop by my room if you want to, then, I'll have some of my favorites ready… and tea too, of course."
[16:44:55] <Bridget> A grin, more of one. "YAe'll sae mae 'n a draess!"
[16:46:17] <Marina> And a giggle. "A princess' dress? I'll look forward to it, then. Maybe we could arrange a spar soon too, after all? I'm feeling more confident."
[16:46:56] <Bridget> "Aye! Ae'll baet yae this taem!"
[16:47:20] <Marina> "That, I'll be looking forward to too." And then she exits the room… was that a wink?
[16:54:59] <Marina> Shutting the door behind her, she mutters a word or two, assured only she can hear it, and walks nonchalantly back to her room. As today's tea touches her lips while alone in her room, she catches herself in an unexpected giggle. Her eyes gaze around the room, observing her mythology and fiction collection, and once they stop back on the liquid she sees in its reflection a frown.
[16:55:02] <Marina> /thing
[13:27:27] * Oxford changes topic to 'In preparation for a major operation, all FPU Flights are ordered on stand-by, effective immediately.'
[13:33:18] <~Oxford> The polished wooden chairs around the long diningroom table gleam darkly in the bright afternoon sun. Col. Vaughn paces on the opposite side, swagger-stick tucked under one armpit. Once Lily, Loewin, and Marina have taken their seats, he stops and takes a deep breath before begining the briefing.
[13:35:32] <LilLily> She fidgets on her chair quietly, awaiting the briefing. All the windows are covered, so nothing to stare at.
[13:36:58] <Marina> The stoic albino is back to her usual self, sitting down and listening emotionlessly. She's had plenty of time to act mysteriously out-of-character BETWEEN missions, so clearly there's no need for more of that now.
[13:39:33] <Loewin> Loewin keeps her eyes attentively on Vaughn, an odd smirk resulting from attempting to suppress her lips' love for curling.
[13:41:10] <~Oxford> "Everyone's here? Good, good," the Colonel says, despite the obvious fact that not everyone is. Clearly, certain people were not invited to the briefing. "Now, as you all know, a major operation in the interior will be taking place within the next week. Our unit will be part of the regional security detail."
[13:48:07] <~Oxford> "As such, our priority right now, before the operation begins, is to make sure our own base is secure. Can't protect others if you can't protect yourself, of course." He returns to his pacing as he speaks, bootheels clicking against the hardwood floor. "I'm told that Maj. Stranahan had certain suspicions regarding a security leak here. Would anyone care to bring me up to speed on the details?"
[13:51:07] <Loewin> "Um…security leak as in why the Novs knew where to find you, or more directly relevant to why the operation has to be performed in the first place?"
[13:52:31] <Marina> Marina straightens up in her seat and starts to speak before somebody else takes over. There's even a little smirk at Loewin's answer in there.
[13:52:48] <~Oxford> "The former, I believe. I'm certain you can all guess the nature of the 'major operation' in question here."
[13:55:38] <Loewin> "Hm…Henriette's been confined to Wightshead since she had her…change, so she definitely couldn't have done anything. I don't really think the rest of us really consort with anyone outside of school to the point that it would really matter." She shifts uncomfortably in her seat. "…did…did the Major ever mention anything to you about a Nov captive?"
[13:59:28] <~Oxford> Vaughn lifts a clipboard from his side of the table and flips through it. "It was mentioned in the report. You think it has some relation to the leak?"
[14:02:06] <Loewin> "Well, if he was able to understand us, he might have been able to piece together that a replacement was incoming, though I'm not enough aware of where he was at all times to know if he ever had an opportunity to act on it. Like, if he had a radio hidden on his person somehow." Loewin obviously becomes nervous, realizing she might be indicating Stranahan as a potential traitor.
[14:02:20] <Marina> She sighs briefly. "Maj. Stranahan's suspicion, Sir, involved a lack of intercepts over a certain stretch of time. She had believed that Novgoraadi pilots were intentionally evading our intercept zone. However, one day afterward, we had an intercept wherein that particular captive was apprehended, and she hadn't said anything more to us on the subject."
[14:03:26] <LilLily> Lily nods. "Yeah, it was the intercept zone if anything!"
[14:05:53] <~Oxford> Col. Vaughn frowns. "The successful intercept was intentionally /outside/ the Flight's regular zone, wasn't it? If anything, the fact that it was so immediately successful reinforces the idea that Wightshead was being avoided by enemy bombers."
[14:07:13] <Loewin> "And they couldn't have foreseen that we'd end up taking a captive…could they?"
[14:08:32] <Marina> "Correction, Sir: That was the second such attempt after an unsuccessful night of searching outside our Zone. But aside from that, yes, that's correct."
[14:08:35] * Aori_Radidjiu is now known as Lily
[14:10:40] <~Oxford> The bald officer looks at Lily with arched eyebrows, but shakes his head. "No, in my opinion, there's very little chance they would be able to predict that a captive would be taken."
[15:14:39] <Lily> Lily blinks a few times at being looked at, and tilts her head slightly.
[15:15:45] <Loewin> "Are important matters like the information that you were coming at all handled through radio or letter?"
[14:17:28] <~Oxford> "That information was transmitted through encrypted radio communication. However, Maj. Stranahan would have kept a write-out of it in her office." He strokes his bushy white mustache before adding, "And of course, all of you were briefed verbally, as well."
[14:19:28] <Loewin> "Couldn't you send out false information through the various channels to see what comes of it? Like say another important officier is arriving on some specific date, see if we're attacked then? Of course, it wouldn't work if it was one…of…us…here." Her eyes widen and she stares down at the ground. Maybe she shouldn't have finished that last sentence.
[14:21:00] <Marina> The albino next to her might've rolled her eyes if her eyelids weren't shut. They are.
[14:22:55] <~Oxford> Vaughn nods slowly. "It seems you understand, then. The risk of an spy in our midst is something we absolutely must consider, if only to rule it out. Anyone who has had regular, unsupervised contact with outsiders is highly suspect."
[14:23:23] <Loewin> "But…that would be all of us…"
[14:24:50] <~Oxford> "Have any of you been sneaking off to spend time alone with them, though? Sending covert communications via coded letter?"
[14:25:29] <Loewin> "None to my knowledge…"
[14:26:09] * Lily 's eyes widen. "Oh, well, there is a thing, but…"
[14:26:29] <Loewin> She slowly lifts her head to stare at Lily.
[14:26:39] <Marina> "That makes sense," she opens her eyes and says emotionlessly. Then they dart to Lily.
[14:29:02] <Lily> She shakes her head. "I used to send letters to someone from Cimbria, but those aren't a thing now, I haven't gotten letters since I started working for the military because changing addresses and I dunno' where to hand the letters off to and other things!"
[14:29:37] <Loewin> Groan. What a Lily.
[14:29:41] <Marina> Doublegroan.
[14:32:39] <~Oxford> "What if I said this person was also a foreign national?" Vaughn adds, a hint of deviousness in his voice.
[14:33:35] <Marina> "… A question, Sir: Is this subject related to why you're only speaking with some, not all, of us?" She closes her eyes again.
[14:33:57] <Lily> "What? No, Henriette haaaaates her home country!"
[14:33:58] <Loewin> "…I'm assuming you aren't counting me as one then, which would explain why the other two were left out."
[14:34:40] <Lily> "…she doesn't even have family there anymore, doesn't she?"
[14:35:09] <Marina> "That would be for her to answer, wouldn't it?"
[14:37:29] <~Oxford> Col. Vaughn nods grimly. "Henriette, regardless of her stated opinions, has both sent and received letters to a certain individual in Ternwald. She has also spent time with this person for extended periods unsupervised."
[14:37:57] <Lily> "She…has…?"
[14:38:50] <Loewin> "Huh? Hasn't she only between between here and school with us? I don't think anyone would let her out now with those…things on her back."
[14:39:03] <Marina> Marina's totally unaffected by the news, not caring how obvious it may seem that she already knew. "Are you suspicious of her or of the 'individual,' Sir?"
[14:39:32] <~Oxford> "Both of them," he says with a sigh. "I know none of you want to believe it, but this is all very suspicious behavior. I'm going to have to ask you three to help me keep Henriette under surrveilance until we know for sure."
[14:40:13] <Lily> "Well, fine, that is…"
[14:40:23] <Marina> "Understood," she says, completely stoic. "MacDonald isn't present- is there an issue with her as well?"
[14:41:23] <Lily> "I have absolute faith in her so she's not at fault I'm sure or if she is I can go make sure she reforms or whatever is necessary!"
[14:42:00] <Loewin> "Lily…it…it doesn't work like that…"
[14:42:20] <Lily> "It doesn't?"
[14:42:44] <~Oxford> "Bridget is no concern whatsoever. Rather, I already briefed her seperately, since she's clearly above suspicion." Whether or not he intended it, it's difficult not to feel a slight sting in the words.
[14:42:54] <Marina> "If 'faith' were enough, there'd be no suspicion to begin with, Blevins."
[14:43:24] <Bridget> It's probably best she's not here, otherwise she'd be running around with that claymore of hers
[14:44:11] <Loewin> "If she did it…and it was intentional…it's likely…Lily it just doesn't work that way…" Loewin is unable to look directly at Lily.
[14:44:45] <Lily> "Mmmmmmmmm well whatever!"
[14:46:49] <Marina> "Either way, we're to see to LeClair's suspicious behavior, yes? In a way, that's just 'spend time with her more often.' I doubt it'd be difficult for us."
[14:47:38] <~Oxford> "I know the implications are…unpleasant," Col. Vaughn says, leaning over and resting his hands on the table, "but if Henriette is the traitor, she'll need to send back word of the upcoming operation, and soon. If she attempts to send out a letter or slip away during the next few days, you're to restrain her and confiscate any such materials."
[14:48:07] <Marina> "Yes, Sir."
[14:48:55] <Lily> "Aye aye, sir!" She gives a crooked salute!
[14:49:08] <Loewin> "I assume we're to accomplish it with subtlety? If we were to make a big deal out of an innocuous letter intended to throw us off, she'd know we were on to her."
[14:50:17] <Marina> "She knows I've been…" After saluting herself, Marina suddenly blushes furiously. "Present… to… take care of her…. appendages. As long as I continued to do that, she probably wouldn't grow suspicious."
[14:50:52] * TinyTentacruel is now known as Henriette
[14:51:02] <~Oxford> "We'll organize a rotating system, and ensure complete coverage." He spreads a few pages from his clipboard over the table - charts and schedules. "Now, here's what I had in mind…"
[14:51:06] <~Oxford> ------
[14:57:10] <Henriette> Crumpled scraps of paper lie discarded in a pile at the edge of the short, plain desk in Henriette's room. The Gaulian tosses aside her fifth pen, the others empty of their ink, and rises from the desk. "Where to discard…?" she mumbles as she sets a plain but floral decorated envelope aside to deal with her trash.
[15:00:17] <~Oxford> The trashbin for most of the paper waste is downstairs, by the offices. She could perhaps use the one in the bathroom, though the amount of crumpled paper may draw attention.
[15:01:52] <Henriette> Shaking her head, those both seem like a terrible idea. Instead, she stuffs the scraps into her bag hastily and clutches the letter a she slides a window open. Best to bury and compost them.
[15:03:48] <~Oxford> The bedroom window is on the second floor of the Wightshead estate. A cool breeze stirs the long grass below like waves across the ocean.
[15:09:23] <Henriette> Hesitating, Henriette glances back at her wings. Would they soften her fall? Could she tie a rope to get down?
[15:12:25] <~Oxford> The sheets from her bed, tied together, would probably be long enough to reach the ground safely. Her injured hand might hamper her some in climbing down, however. As for the wings, they float indifferently at her back, like a pair of shiny metal platters. Their aerodynamic properties are probably limited.
[15:15:39] <Henriette> Well, best to keep that magic train rolling. Henriette attempts to summon her flying powers, recalling the majesty of her first flight. A pale green shimmer coats her in the shape of her dress as she leaps from the window.
[15:19:54] <~Oxford> From her hiding place at the corner of the mansion, Loewin suddenly sees the Gualian girl hurtle from the second story window, only to land softly at the bottom. Lily is beside the Sachsen, keeping her company during the stakeout. Both girls are hidden from Henriette for now.
[15:21:49] <Henriette> Looking around at the bottom of the drop, Henriette smiles broadly. "Je did not think that would work!"
[15:22:19] <Loewin> Loewin whispers to Lily. "This…is not helping her case."
[15:24:30] <Lily> "But I do it all the time!"
[15:24:31] <Henriette> Glass-like wings spread proudly, the Gaulian heads a short ways into the forest to bury the scraps. "Maybe… Maybe I should deliver it in person…" she says aloud.
[15:27:32] * Lily leeeeans in slightly. "Hear that?" She whispers to Cloral.
[15:27:42] <Loewin> More whispering. "Stay here." Loewin commences operation Magic Girl Sighted (Get it?) and tries to silently tail Henriette, going from tree-to-tree, to keep an eye on her.
[15:28:00] <~Oxford> The area around the estate seems deserted. Though the sun is going down, the ground radiates warmth from a long, hot spring day. The weather has been drier of late, as if to give a foretaste of the coming summer.
[15:30:59] <Henriette> "Poor Dirk… His écriture was atrocious." Henriette's journey doesn't lead far. She stuffs the scrap letters into an empty rabbit warren just out of sight of the mansion before staring down to Ternwald. Just to the post office? The military might expect that. No, best to go all the way.
[15:33:08] * Lily pouts as she's left behind despite navigating forests being HER specialty. Oh well, someone has to stay back, after all.
[15:36:34] <Loewin> Loewin would dive over to the rabbit hole and reach in, while apologizing to any prospective rabbits, to see what secrets Henri has been revealing.
[15:37:42] <~Oxford> From the rabbit-warren, Henriette's path takes a shortcut through the younger forests around the mansion, rather than returning to the road. The route leads further north than their typical walk to school, hinting at an unusual destination.
[15:39:53] <Lily> "Didja' get it?" Lily says from a tree above Cloral.
[15:39:59] <Lily> She couldn't stay put.
[15:40:35] <Henriette> Oblivious to the idea that she could be being followed, Henriette hums a short tune before remembering to tie her wings down to her back. Her path halts just before town as she fishes a ribbon from her bag, one that matches the white blouse and pale green skirt, of course.
[15:49:10] <Henriette> Extraneous appendages secured to look like couture, Henriette continues her trek. The quaint little houses on the northern end of town put a wistful look in her eyes. "If only Ihad been born here instead…"
[15:52:01] <~Oxford> Dirk's house is toward the end a winding backstreet, set aside from its neighbors by a stand of thin elm trees. It has a clay shingle roof and whitewashed walls, and a matching picket fence that looks in need of repair.
[15:52:43] <Lily> Lily, while following after Henri, looks over the scraps Cloral has recovered, an ever-widening grin forming on her face. "Oh, Henriette just wishes to mate! I seeee~!"
[15:55:07] <Loewin> "That's…a creepy way to put it…fortunately, this does seem to be in her favor." She folds up the scraps and puts them away in a pocket somewhere. "Buuuuut…it's still possible Dirk's leading her on for information. Just promise not to spook her." The shorter one is clearly getting fed-up with running through forests.
[15:57:06] <Henriette> Unsure which window is Dirk's, Henri approaches the windows hoping for a sign that would tell her which to knock on.
[15:57:25] <Lily> Lily hops into a tree and starts tarzanning it up for PURSUIT. Less vines involved, though, mostly jumping from tree to tree,a nd not actually very big jumps.
[16:01:38] <~Oxford> Though nobody seems to be home, Henriette does find a likely-looking candidate. The room behind the windowpane is covered in dirty laundry and, inexplicably, an oar, but the shelves have several model sailboats on top of them.
[16:03:49] <Henriette> Her hand, curled into a gentle grip on nothing, hovers above the windowpane. A frown lines her face momentarily, but a shake of her head banishes it. Knock knock knock~
[16:06:44] <Lily> Lily quietly watches this from a tree near the house, making sure to hide behind a bunch of leaves
[16:06:56] <~Oxford> There's no response from inside. The window itself, now that she looks closer, appears to be unlatched. It had probably been left open earlier in the day, to let the house air out some after a long, stuffy winter.
[16:07:26] <Loewin> Loewin finally catches up to Lily, panting and quietly cursing, before noticing the girl in the tree and whispers, "Can you see her?"
[16:11:26] <~Oxford> Henriette's ears perk up to the sound of a nearby whisper, but when she turns to look, there is nothing but thick leaves of the trees and the wind rustling through them.
[16:12:39] <Lily> Lily, after putting in measures to make sure they're not noticed, turns a little toward Cloral and puts a finger to her lips, motioning for Cloral to get down under cover.
[16:13:50] <Loewin> Loewin ducks, though it was probably unnecessary.
[16:14:52] <Henriette> Frowning again, she turns and raps on the window again.
[16:16:32] <~Oxford> Yet again, there is no response from within. It seems a bit strange that the house would be empty after dinner time, but Henriette isn't entirely familiar with the schedules of fishermen like Dirk's father.
[16:22:02] <Henriette> Well, without much option, Henriette tugs the window open and fishes the letter along with a clumsily fashioned nautical scarf from her bag.
[16:22:26] <Henriette> She places them down on the windowsill and gently slides the window shut again.
[16:27:57] <~Oxford> Turning away from the house, she is now facing directly toward where Loewin and Lily are hiding. And to return to the mansion, she'll have to walk almost directly past them.
[16:29:18] <Lily> Lily's in a tree with LOTS of foliage. She sees this and shifts her position to make sure she's unseeable from where Henri will be seeing things. Cloral can actually move distance without making lots of noise, so Lily's not THAT worried about her.
[16:29:20] <Henriette> Glancing around nervously, she still can't shake the feeling that something isn't right. What if they abducted Dirk already? Vaughn seemed to have been watching her all week without much subtlety.
[16:29:43] <Lily> That or Cloral might apprehend her, and she'd leave the choice of apprehension in Cloral's hands rather than her own.
[16:33:24] <Loewin> Loewin relies on the long-used stealth skill of curling up into a battle and sitting against the tree!
[16:33:32] <Loewin> *ball…
[16:39:48] <Henriette> Henri's face turns beet-red as she stares directly at Cloral, mouth agape. It seems for a moment like magical power stirs inside her, but it sputters out at the last second. "Cloral?" she calls hesitantly.
[16:41:04] <Loewin> "…You must be mistaken…my name is Loewin." Solid cover. "…I was uh…also…just…doing….things…?"
[16:41:47] <Lily> Lily tosses over whether dropping down for support or staying hidden would be best…hmmm…well, maybe Cloral could pretend it was her own curiousity if she was alone, maybe…?
[16:43:14] <Henriette> Were she a robot, Henriette's face might be pouring out steam both from embarrassment and from confusion. "What… what are you doing in that tree?" she asks, stepping forward. In her panic, her wings pull her ribbon undone and flare outwards to their full extent.
[16:43:14] <Loewin> Loewin fumbles with the scraps of rejected letters. "Funny story, I was talking to this rabbit and it said someone was littering in its home…"
[16:43:55] <Henriette> "Mes lettres! Cloral, ma belle, you were not supposed to read those!"
[16:44:43] <Loewin> "And you aren't supposed to jump out of windows and walk around town in your…um…condition."
[16:47:08] <Henriette> "And stay couped up in la prison vide?" she retorts angrily. "Coming from the one with the ghastly coiffure, that is une blague! Hah!"
[16:49:20] <Loewin> Context clues! "HEY, at least it's more natural, just imagine poor Marina! If they asked me to stay in the house because of it, I WOULD have instead of gone off to play with boys like a tart!"
[16:52:45] <Henriette> "Marina sports une belle coiffure!" she returns defensively. "I… I never asked to be treated like un outil! And Marina even… Don't you dare pity her!"
[16:54:40] <Loewin> "But you did sign up for the military so you should know what's expected of you!"
[16:55:47] <Henriette> "I expected to be treated like a human being! Ma duty is to Albaea! Isn't that enough?"
[16:56:50] <Loewin> "We gave up our freedom when we enlisted. We aren't allowed to have those expectations anymore!"
[17:00:04] <Henriette> "And the Major? Shouldn't she have stayed?" Henriette answers. "She left and you must not even care!"
[17:03:40] <Loewin> Her knuckles go white with rage. "OF COURSE I CARE! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY NIGHTS I'VE CRIED?! She left because they commanded it! Your childish escapades disgust me if you can't realize how much our selfish acts dishonored her!"
[17:06:24] <Henriette> "I…" Speechless, she can see she's crossed a line now. Tears well in her eyes. "I apologize… I… I did not mean to say that. I am j-just scared…"
[17:07:29] <Henriette> "They did not tell me I would become a freak! I would not have signed up if I had known! And now Dirk and… Did they take him too?"
[17:10:56] <Loewin> Loewin's ducts runneth over as she shakily uncurls her hands. "No one…no one could have guessed about that happening…I…I don't know about Dirk. That bastard just…just told us to watch you. He thinks…one or the both of you has been feeding information to the Novs…"
[17:12:41] <Henriette> "A spy? Mais non! You don't think I am… Do you?"
[17:14:35] <Loewin> "No…I've seen you fight…no one that's seen that could doubt your commitment…"
[17:15:14] <Henriette> "A-and Dirk?"
[17:16:58] <Loewin> Tiny shrug. "I've never really met him…so I couldn't say. But it seemed Vaughn was trying to pin it on you…what…what exactly have you said to Dirk? About what we do…"
[17:19:54] <Henriette> "Said to him…" she echoes. "I told him… I…" She shrugs then and simply gestures at her wings. "He knows," is her reply.
[17:20:30] <Loewin> "How much does he know?" Her words are still almost growled out, but her eyes seem to be pleading with Henriette.
[17:21:16] <Henriette> "And I have to make sure he is safe…" She says, leaning against the wall of the house. "About me. I have not said anything about our missions! I am not an idiot!"
[17:22:29] <Loewin> Big sigh of relief. "If…if that's all…please, just…just go back to Wightshead. I'll check on Dirk for you…"
[17:23:13] <Loewin> "Lily, take Henriette back home."
[17:23:54] <Lily> Plop. "Hi!"
[17:24:55] <Henriette> "No!" she shouts defensively, and immediately, her stance weakens. "I don't mean that I do not trust you, but… I will not go back before I see him."
[17:26:02] <Loewin> "I don't know if Vaughn knows you're out here yet…and every second gives him a chance to figure it out. Even if you're not the traitor he thinks you are, he could still charge you with something…please!"
[17:26:14] <Lily> "B-but he's not in, are you just going to be staying here right outside his window for so long?"
[17:28:38] <Henriette> "And if I go back, he will accuse me tout de même," she answers. "I do not like that man. I… I wish Stranahan were still here…"
[17:30:13] <Loewin> "I think we all do…but not going back definitely won't improve things…at least if he sees you going back with Lily cheerfully, he might think Lily's just watching you closely without you suspecting anything."
[17:30:47] <Henriette> "And… please tell me I am simply poor in Albaean, but… what do you mean even, ma belle? You said I am not un traître, yourself! How can… You don't believe me!"
[17:31:43] <Lily> "She's not the one suspecting you fo bein ga traitor in the first place, it's Vaughn, remember?"
[17:32:01] <Loewin> "Oh, nonono, I believe you! It's…like…despite the fact you aren't a traitor, he could still charge you with something, as our superior."
[17:32:15] <Lily> "So this is entirely about how it appears to Vaughn I think!"
[17:33:59] <Henriette> "I…" she stares at the grass beneath her shoes. "He already has decided… If I return, he will send me away, just like the Major. If you take me ho-" she stops. "To that prison, it will be the last you ever see of me."
[17:35:54] <Loewin> Loewin pulls out the love notes. "The only substantial evidence he would have is that you're a romantic, it seems…if you don't return, we'll be sent after you again…but it won't be just to spy…it will be to haul in the traitor. And I'm sure he'll delight in telling Stranahan he took care of it…"
[17:38:59] <Henriette> "Geôliers, then…" she says miserably, finally submitting and stumbling meekly towards Cloral and Lily. As she gets close, she puts her wrists together, a pantomime of being handcuffed. "At least… ensure Dirk is safe? For me? Please?"
[17:41:19] <Loewin> "Thank you, Henri! Seriously…thank you…Lily, take her home. And make sure you both look happy…if you can…" Loewin almost approaches Henri for a hug, but realizes it isn't prime hugging time, and instead nods to her. "Oh, did you have something you wanted to deliver to him?"
[17:44:32] <Henriette> Henriette glares at Loewin darkly, probably the first time maliciousness has ever graced her face. "I already have…" she responds. "And if you are actually grateful, you will not touch it."
[17:48:50] <Loewin> "O-Of course…see you back home…" If Loewin had a tail, it would hang between her legs. She ducks away from Henri to knock loudly on the front door to Dirk's house, prepared to stay up all night for anyone to return should she need.
[17:51:14] <Henriette> Despite the request that she return happily, Henriette just can't muster anything beyond a glower that does little to enhance her normally bright features. Back at the mansion, she returns to her room and bolts the door shut before sobbing into her knees.
[17:58:18] <~Oxford> Everything is more complicated through the lens of twilight. Back in the forest on the north of Ternwald, the sun sinks down between the trees. Loewin's lonely vigil lasts long into the dusk, as the latticework of still-bare branches overhead turns to an intricate pattern of blacks and purples against the orange background of the setting sun.
[17:58:29] <~Oxford> /session
[22:03:08] * Oxford changes topic to ''Please be advised: Sudden thunderstorms reported for late evening.''
[22:05:02] <Henriette> Just as local sirens blared, howling winds and heavy rainfall batter the shuttered windows of Wightshead Mansion. The girls of the flight are taking care of various chores at Vaughn's request, except for Henriette, who has locked herself in her room and pushed a rather sizable bookcase in front of the door. The Colonel, rather than engage, has chosen to let her wear out her emotions.
[22:07:58] <Marina> A certain observer was there to see Henriette make her way to her room in a fit of tears, and decided to give her some time to herself. Plenty of time to make tea as well as drink it. And maybe meet with Bridget again. Or maybe not. But many a sip later, the door gets a knock on it. Two knocks.
[22:09:47] <Henriette> Beyond the thick cherry wood of the door, the bookcase muffles the knock. It sounds to Marina like she's knocking on an actual tree instead of the portal to Henriette's living quarters. Of course, the Gaulian's dry sobs are still audible despite the obstruction. She doesn't appear to have heard the knocking.
[22:11:22] <Marina> Like a Joestar spouting a 'yare yare daze,' Marina facepalms and ponders a bit. She takes the most logical course of action: giving up to go drink some more tea. Minutes later she's back and pounds at the door again, sounding more irritated than worried. "LeClair, can you hear me?"
[22:14:34] <Henriette> 1,1I've never seen JoJo. The sniffling actually halts at the harder knocking this time, and for a moment, there are the rustling noises of paper being hastily stored away followed by the LOUD sound of something very heavy being scraped across the wooden floor. The door opens partially (since it thuds into the only somewhat cleared obstacle) to reveal Henriette, brown hair sticking to
[22:14:34] <Henriette> her face and eyes puffy and red. "Q-quoi?"
[22:16:59] <Marina> 1,1It's just 'good grief.' Which is probably something Marina says to herself a lot anyway. Standing at the door is a very-not-amused albino holding a familiar cloth. She gets straight to business. "I'm not quite sure exactly where you went, but they've probably gotten some filth on them. Do you mind?"
[22:20:13] <Henriette> 1,1Don't worry. I know what that moonspeak meant anyway. "O-oh… Marina, ma belle, n-not right now. J'apprécie nos rencontres, but…" the girl falters, her voice hoarse. "You seem focused on them and not… Well…" The door isn't quite open enough that one could get their body through, just enough so that Henriette's face can be seen.
[22:22:25] <Marina> "Your tears?" Unlike with Bridget, she's completely stoic and doesn't break eye contract for a second. "I'm afraid it'd burn if I wiped your face with this," she says displaying the cloth, "but they're not going to dry any faster if you isolate yourself."
[22:26:12] <Henriette> "Mes larmes? O…oh. Je pensais you meant mes…" She stops, shaking her head. "Nevermind. Un moment, ma chérie." The face vanishes from the door and for a moment, there is another LOUD squeal as something is moved across the floor. When the door opens again, it opens all the way, and in the middle of the room is a floor to ceiling bookshelf filled with books of various sorts (Some
[22:26:14] <Henriette> naval. Some fashion oriented.) It doesn't seem reasonable that anyone could have moved it alone, even Vaughn.
[22:29:12] <Marina> Then Marina still sparklyeyes a LITTLE bit because ~books~ but keeps it more to herself, trying to look professional. "Thank you," she says moving forward, obviously looking to the other girl's wings first-thing and determining just how dirty they are. Even if they aren't she plans to clean the hell out of them anyway. "You might feel better to talk things out anyway, although I would like to keep them polished."
[22:31:51] <Marina> There's actually hardly any need to wonder about how she moved the shelf anyway. In a world where magic is a thing nothing is a surprise anymore. She, of course, closes the door behind her on the way in. "So what happened?"
[22:32:13] <Henriette> The books themselves are probably far less strange than the fact that the shelf itself is in the dead center of the small room. Henriette's wings, meanwhile, are splattered with mud, much like the rest of her nightgown and her skin. The window on the far side of the room is shuttered, but below it are the sopping wet sheets from her bed. "N-no, ma belle, that is what I… I can care for
[22:32:13] <Henriette> them later." The derision in her voice towards them is more than apparent.
[22:33:17] <Marina> "Your state is precisely why I'm offering to care for them for you. Sit down, and I'll listen."
[22:34:35] <Henriette> The Gaulian shuts the door behind Marina and with little effort, heaves the shelf partially into the way of the door, enough so that no one could get through. "I don't want you to!" she yells suddenly, but then she catches herself. Her voice returns to a low, strained calm. "I went to see Dirk," she says flatly.
[22:35:58] <Marina> "Suit yourself," she responds with a sigh, twirling the cloth on her index finger so that it wraps around it and stays that way. After a moment to sigh, she enters the conversation with an "I know."
[22:36:21] <Marina> "After all, what else would you be doing? But… no, go on."
[22:38:37] <Henriette> "Y-you do? Naturellement…" she answers. The surprise in her tone vanishes quickly into the rumbling noise of the storm. "Everyone probably knows… The Colonel thinks I am a traitor. Cloral probably does as well… And… Lily…" Her eyes well with tears. "They followed me there! I…"
[22:40:24] <Marina> "Hmm, so they told you? As expected, I guess," Marina responds, looking up at the ceiling. Probably leaning against a wall while she's there. "Even if you guessed it yourself, I'm not surprised- that man doesn't do the greatest job at hiding what he's thinking."
[22:42:20] <Marina> "Their opinions aren't what I'm interested in now, though, else I'd be in their rooms instead of here."
[22:42:51] <Henriette> Henriette's eyes bore into Marina's, trying to see how the pale girl regards her. "I haven't said anything, you know? Pas un mot about our operations. How could I? I ba-barely keep up with them myself!"
[22:45:12] <Marina> Marina continues to keep eye contact, and is ABSOLUTELY stoic in doing so. Her gaze hasn't changed the slightest bit since she knocked at the door. "I believe you. The question lies with you: Do YOU think you're a traitor? All it takes is a simple answer. It hardly matters whether it's me or yourself you're trying to assure, either."
[22:46:37] <Marina> Maybe a slight change: she blinks once while speaking. But mostly keeps on a solid stare.
[22:48:15] <Henriette> Confusion. "Do I think I am a traitor? Why would I think that? All I have ever wanted is to protect ma patrie! I… I simply needed to confide in someone, and Dirk was… Well, he wasn't like anyone else here." She stares into Marina's eyes intently, a very serious statement passing from her brain to her mouth: "I needed someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay. No one else
[22:48:16] <Henriette> would…"
[22:50:31] <Henriette> "Et now… I am not even allowed that."
[22:51:42] <Marina> "Most have a point in their lives where they feel that way, and some have only themselves to tell them that. The same way your awareness that you aren't a traitor is something you're able to assure yourself of- you don't need somebody else to tell you. It's a fact that you understand." She continues to stare. "Of course, I can't be that person myself, either, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't intend to listen. And I have every intention of making sure you're free to have whatever relationship with him you please."
[22:52:21] <Henriette> "Vraiment?"
[22:52:33] <Marina> "Come again?"
[22:53:04] <Henriette> The hopeful look in Henriette's eyes should more than imply what her foreign tongue meant.
[22:54:29] <Henriette> "Y-you really mean that?"
[22:54:29] <Marina> "… Yes, well, let me ask you, and please be as honest as you can: That man, Col. Vaughn. Our CO. What DO you think of him? Considering it seems to be perfectly clear what he thinks of you."
[22:55:05] <Marina> Her own tone implies she couldn't mean it more. If that wasn't enough she gives a sharp nod before speaking.
[22:57:16] <Marina> … In addition to that, the wall she's leaning against is not near the door, even with the bookcase in place. And she doesn't seem to be interested in talking at a particularly loud volume, though she's trying not to be blatant about that fact.
[22:57:42] <Henriette> Before Marina can even get the question out of her mouth, Henriette's arms are firmly wrapped around the smaller girl's frame, holding her tightly. Marina's shoulder becomes slicked with tears. "I… Oh, mon beau sauveur, Je t'aime tellement!"
[22:58:53] <Marina> Come on, she's only an inch shorter! Or a… however that's measured in whatever systems Albaea uses. Probably not very many units. She returns with a backpat - and maybe a really quick wing-cloth-rub - before returning all her limbs to herself and firing off the question.
[23:01:03] <Henriette> Regaining control over herself, however, she sits back on the bare mattress of her bed and fidgets. "I do not know what drives him to think of me as he does… I do not know him well enough to say, but he… he supposes much about us and our function, non?"
[23:03:56] <Marina> "Yes, that he does. His sudden obsession over a traitor - not to say Stranahan's way the same - is nearly enough to paint him as a likely traitor himself, wouldn't you think?" By the way, she hides the cloth and pretends she hadn't even used it yet, like a masterful ninja-wiper. "I wanted to warn you to be wary of him, though the others seem to have beaten me to it… not that I don't care for your situation. If anything, I think it's injustice that you've found l-love (or something like it) and are being kept from it due to a hasty suspicion."
[23:04:03] <Marina> Yes, she actually stutters on the word 'love.'
[23:06:27] <Marina> also -way +was
[23:06:51] <Henriette> That's the cutest. "Injustice! Oui! Mais… I want to believe that the Colonel has Albaea's interests at heart, don't you, ma belle? Surely a traitor could not be so high in our ranks. I think that this 'traitor' incident is simply paranoia!"
[23:10:37] <Marina> "Both are plausible," she immediately returns an understanding nod. "But that it leads to something like this just isn't right, now, is it? We'll have to do something, but for now… well, our most convenient option is to leave him in the dark. We'll pretend we're 'supervising' you, but only do so enough to assure you're able to make your visits without his paranoia getting in the way. At least until we're able to work something else out. How does that sound?"
[23:14:32] <Henriette> "Oh, Marina! Mon petit agneau! I could kiss you for all that you are doing for me!" Staring down at her feet, she fidgets a bit more and then says, "You enjoy caring for mes ailes, non?"
[23:17:09] <Marina> At the word 'kiss' she reaches up and rubs her own cheek, looking to the side a second, but shakes it off. "I'm only doing what an ally should do. 'A pointless witch hunt against somebody we're supposed to fight alongside' isn't among those things. And besides, none of us are inconvenienced by this any more than we already were by Vaugn's plan, yes? I'll try to talk to the others about it as soon as I'm able."
[23:17:55] <Marina> The cloth idly moves about in her hand. "… Are you feeling calmer now? They're COVERED in dirt."
[23:21:58] <Henriette> "I am, and I should not be rude to such a dear friend." The taller of the two grabs Marina in another tight embrace as she kisses Marina's cheek in a custom known as "faire la bise". "I was afraid… when you came, that you only wanted to clean them. I thought maybe… maybe you cared not for moi, but for mes ailes. I let them get dirty to… to spite you. I am sorry, ma belle."
[23:24:22] <Marina> Two kisses in one day! Seemingle not bothered by it, she finally smiles. "I see. Maybe I came off as rude, then. But… there's no point in cleaning part of something, just to let the rest of it get dirty."
[23:26:25] <Henriette> "A-are you suggesting I bathe, ma belle?" 1,12LEWD4SKOOL Turning, she takes off the mud-covered blouse so that Marina can get better access to the caked on mud right at the part above her shoulderblades. "I shall wash after you are done then."
[23:27:47] <Marina> "Sharp," she remarks with a grin and gets to work, "I was about to suggest that too. Of course for a different reason. Now let's see, maybe we can talk about something more pleasant while I polish them…"
[23:29:42] <Henriette> "Like what?" Henriette's wings flex as Marina touches them, like actual feathered wings would, and the glassy feathers part easily, their owner's control much finer than before, for Marina's careful cleaning.
[23:32:29] <Marina> Her voice takes on a cheerful tone as she continues, like a chatty schoolgirl. "If nothing else, maybe books? I just found one I'd remembered from my childhood and was reading through it again." As she goes, she hums or otherwise speaks singsong, like her passions cause a complete personality 180.
[23:35:11] <Henriette> "Oh! I have been reading much more due to mon incarcération!" Henriette's own voice takes on the excited tone, a farcry from her earlier dispair but much more like her normal demeanor. "Dirk is a sailor, and I had been out on un voilier! I want to be more skilled when next we go, and so I have been reading nautical information."
[23:36:14] <Marina> "Hehe. You really are a girl in love."
[23:38:56] <Henriette> "I… I suppose so! I have never been with a boy before, though. It is… intimidating. I do not know how I should act around him except what I have read in stories and hear from the Carlisles." At the talk of "being with a boy", her wings noticeably shiver.
[23:41:12] <Marina> The albino holds them still when they do, in a calm, reassuring gesture. "I'm afraid love advice isn't something I know much about either. But I wonder, who says you need to act differently around him than anybody else? If you're THIS interested in him, then you should assume the same of his side and just be yourself." She moves on to the other wing.
[23:44:04] <Henriette> The wings themselves are remarkably resilient to grime, and the mud comes easily off with a little elbow grease. "He seems as though he's not been around girls much, either. I suppose all he has to go on are Margaret and Angela, non? And Angela is with Kevin. How are you and Margaret getting along, by the way, ma belle? I see you walk with her home, or I used to, when I could go."
[23:45:42] <Marina> "I still do. Pleasant girl." The wingrubbing motion stops- Henri can hear a giggle from behind her shortly after. Without an explanation, the cleaning resumes.
[23:47:50] <Henriette> Eyebrow cocked, Henriette shifts a little on her knees. "What was that, ma belle?" she pries. "So unlike your normal self! You must be hiding something, non?"
[23:49:34] <Marina> "O-Oh." She makes a couple quick strokes instead of calm ones like usual. "It's just… well, it shouldn't come as a surprise. She envies you."
[23:49:52] <Henriette> "Moi? But… but why?"
[23:51:00] <Marina> "Physically, for one," without skipping a beat, "but personally, I think it's silly. Just a phase. She was terrified of me at first, if you'll remember, maybe she'd take kindly if you spoke to her?"
[23:55:13] <Henriette> With a hand on her chin thoughtfully, Henriette is silent for a moment. "She… envi- oh. Ooooooh. But that is what we are born with! There is no changing blood! It is a silly concern, but maybe… I could give her something to fit her figure better, she would have more confidence in her outward apparence? It is mon savoir-faire."
[23:57:31] <Marina> "Something to fit her better?" Cue a comical scene where Marina wonders what Maggie would look like in padding for a moment. But she quickly catches herself and realizes. "Ohh, I see. No changing blood…" The rubs get a bit slower. "Yes, that's true. You have to live with what you're born as, come good or bad, after all." Was that a sigh?
[00:00:58] <Henriette> "And what you obtain after, non?" Henriette replies darkly as her wings shrink a bit under Marina's careful hand. "Still, the girl could be très belle if she were fitted properly. Je suis sûr she is not looking her best living in this tiny bourgade."
[00:03:41] <Marina> "Hmm. I suppose you're right. She may just appreciate something like that, and her confidence would appreciate the favor as well. But…" She considers, but decides it's best to NOT mention to Cluelessiette how Margarette's eyes undress Dirk in class on a daily basis. At least for now. Potential NTR? Naaaah. "… Never mind. That went faster than I thought it would- they're as good as new now."
[00:07:31] <Henriette> "Oh, merci, ma douce!" Henriette replies, standing and twirling with the glimmering sheen on her wings. The mud on her skirt is still present, as is a little on the strap of her bra, but a bath will cleanse her skin, and the rest can be laundered. "I shall go to take un bain, then! Would you like to join me? It is quite lovely to bathe during un orage like this one." Her hand gesturing
[00:07:31] <Henriette> at the rain-splattered window should translate well enough.
[00:09:30] <Marina> "A…" Like she's already gotten used to every time she spent time with Bridget, her eyes nervously dart to the ground, face reddening. "No… No thank you. Baths are best taken alone, and it… IS late after all."
[00:11:19] <Henriette> "Are you certain, Marina? After my ordeal today, I could use la compagnie des femmes a bit longer," she says as the skirt falls and she fetches a towel from her closet. The bookcase is still in the midst of the room, but it can be moved back later.
[00:13:48] <Marina> "Y-Yes I'm certain. I've… already had one today, anyway." She blinks and stands up, preparing to turn 360 degrees and walk out. Only not quite like that. Or even remotely like that.
[00:16:42] <Henriette> Disappointed, Henriette frowns and lets her friend out into the hallway with a "Bonne nuit!" before gently shutting the door. The sounds of the heavy storm now seem far less intense against the protective walls of the mansion, and soon the sound of running water can be heard from the walls near Henriette's room along with a familiar Gaulian tune about love across broad seas.
[00:16:53] <Henriette> </mini>
[20:22:41] * Oxford changes topic to 'Local fisherman called 'hero' after daring rescue at sea! Next, on Radio 2!'
[20:34:57] <Henriette> Sitting next to a quiet radio in the nook in the back of the mansion, Henriette tries to relax after her emotional ordeal with Marina earlier. The soothing bath waters have opened her pores and, to some extent, relaxed both muscles and anxiety. Cloral will return with news, won't she? If her doubts about Marina were anything to go by, Henriette felt she was wrong to doubt her other
[20:34:57] <Henriette> compatriot.
[20:42:04] <Loewin> The sound of the front door closing reverberates through the quiet of the night, accompanied by grumbled swearing. Loewin quickly shuffles about the mansion, checking for Henriette in her room to no avail, as well as nearly every other commonly used room before at last creeping into Henriette's sight; and quite a sight she is, it would appear that she tripped at least once on her way
[20:42:04] <Loewin> home as she's covered in dirt, leaves, and mud.
[20:45:43] <Henriette> "Ah! Cloral, ma colombe, were you out all this time? Whatever happened?" Henriette replies, rising to her feet. Her (probably hand-made) silken nightgown and still damp hair give away her most recent activity, but bloated cheeks and bloodshot eyes say more about the rest of the evening. Plucking a twig from Cloral's hair, she anxiously asks in a low voice, "D-did he return?" Her eyes
[20:45:43] <Henriette> sweep up and down the hallway beyond the Sachsen girl.
[20:48:32] <Loewin> She nods quickly while yawning. "Mhm. Took him a while to get back though…something about a boat, I don't know, I was half asleep. He was pretty confused at my presence, but he seems fine."
[20:52:04] <Henriette> Henriette freezes mid-leave-removal and for a moment her hands curl into fists by her sides and a silent shaking stirs across her entire body. Tears resurge through open ducts, and, avoiding the mud carefully this time, she wraps her arms tightly around the smaller girl's shoulders. "Oh, thank you, ma belle! Je vous remercie infiniment! I thought… I thought the Colonel had… And
[20:52:04] <Henriette> perhaps that his letter to me had been censored!"
[20:56:12] <Loewin> For once, the smile on Loewin's face is genuine. "It's fine, really…" She moves to return the hug but notices the grit on her palms and decides to just awkwardly stand there instead. "I wonder…the traitor may have been in the post office…and he made us think it was you or Dirk so that we'd pay more attention to our actions…"
[20:58:43] <Henriette> "Do you… think there is a traitor? Marina thinks it might actually… be the Colonel!" she whispers, releasing the smaller girl. Tears still pour out of her eyes uncontrolled.
[21:00:08] <Loewin> Her mouth opens to speak, but her bleary eyes meet Henri's. "You…are okay, right? I mean, aside from the wing thing and the quarantine thing and all of that…"
[21:03:53] <Henriette> "Je suis…" she starts, but then she catches herself, mouth agape. "The wings… mes ailes do not bother me. You all understand and Dirk thought they were beautiful~" Swoon. "But I have always done mon devoir without any question. You… and Marina… and even Lily all seek more! How does the magic work? I have never cared, but now… The Colonel singled me out. Je ne peux pas comprendre!"
[21:11:45] <Loewin> "I think it's just because…well you can't really hide them…at all…I think my hair is the only other obvious change, but I don't know why I was allowed to keep going out…I probably shouldn't because uh…" On second thought, maybe Henriette doesn't need to learn what happens to living things near her. "…because who knows what other things have happened to us. But if you want to
[21:11:45] <Loewin> be normal again…or maybe at least look normal, we need to learn more. All we've learned so far from that girl with the bird wings is that pendants are bad or something, so we've been trying to use magic without it…with varying success. Of course, we'll need to use the pendants for combat until we're sure enough in our skills without. But while you're stuck here, you might as well
[21:11:45] <Loewin> try to practice magic, maybe you'll find a way to make your wings disappear or something."
[21:17:40] <Henriette> "J'ai obtenu un succès before!" she replies excitedly. "Err… with magic, not making mes ailes vanish, I mean." She's obviously referring to her leap earlier, not that she knows Loewin saw. "J'ai appelé my flying magic, at least a little, and floated from my window! It was exciting!" A frown distorts the cheerful excitement for a moment. "Cloral, je… I am not sure I WANT them gone
[21:17:40] <Henriette> now. Magic is… vivifiant! Invigorating!"
[21:20:57] <Loewin> Loewin nods along, yawning again. "Well, so long as you're aware they won't let you see most people without having a way to hide them, I suppose it's fine."
[21:22:51] <Henriette> "I… Do we have to hide?" she replies naively. "I have tied mine down, and Dirk thought they were simply clothing at first. None of the citizens of Albaea know about the mutations, non?"
[21:24:25] <Loewin> "If we don't, they'll know something's off. They'll…probably fear us depending on what they see and who knows how that would progress. And we'd be drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves…"
[21:26:59] <Henriette> "But I could tell them it is nothing! Je veux être une fille normale!" The anxiety in her voice is apparent enough, but Loewin can see something moving in the reflection on her wings: a shadow there for a minute and then gone the next. It looked kind of like the Nymph!
[21:31:03] <Loewin> After a couple deliberate blinks and an eye rub, Loewin suddenly hugs Henri tightly. So much for not getting her dirty. "I know you wouldn't hurt them…none of us would. But imagine it from their side…especially if rather than shiny wings you had horns that Bridget had momentarily, or fire hair or something."
[21:37:13] <Henriette> For a moment, Henriette recoils at the muddy grab, but relaxes and wraps her own arms around the Sachsen girl. She's got more nightgowns, after all, and such a show of intimacy from Cloral seems rare. "Je… This was not the life I wanted, ma belle…" Despite a painful lump in her throat, the words come out soft and gentle, almost motherly. "Even though I have friends like you and Marina
[21:37:14] <Henriette> and Bridget, I… desire more. Intimité, non? Closeness with un garçon. Closeness with… I wish that the Major were still here."
[21:37:57] <Loewin> "D-Don't forget Lily…"
[21:41:13] <Henriette> "Of course!" Henriette isn't a very good liar, so if she were trying to fool Cloral, it would be more obvious. She hadn't been forgotten, just… not addressed that yet. "Les garçons et les filles in this town have… a bland life, non? And yet… I am envieux of them. Is that so farfetched, ma belle?"
[21:43:21] <Loewin> "Not at all…I often feel the same way. But…that is not my life, so it isn't for me…"
[21:45:40] <Henriette> "I suppose you are right. " Arms still locked in a firm embrace, Henriette lowers her forehead onto the top of Cloral's head. "I am sorry if I am troubling you all with outlandish desires, ma belle. You seemed very distraught when I confronted you, and I was… égoïste."
[21:49:24] <Loewin> Loewin says nothing, though her weight shifts such that it would seem she's leaning into Henriette.
[21:53:54] * Henriette breathes deeply and tightens her hold on Cloral. "Selfish, the word is in Albaean, I think. I want to be une fille normale, mais I have not thought about mes amis who would even stay out watching for mon amour in my stead. Merci, Loewin. What is it that you want?"
[21:54:58] <Loewin> Loewin replies with a soft snoring.
[21:58:45] <Henriette> A giggle shakes the older girl as she releases Cloral and with a sweep, lifts her up in her arms like a child. It's easy! Henriette carries her up to her bed, waking her just enough to help her change into something less filthy before tucking her in. The moon's light peers in through a tall bay window in each of the two girls' rooms, washing silvery light up and over the bedside, a light
[21:58:45] <Henriette> that won't go out.
[21:58:46] <Henriette> </mini>
[14:57:51] * Oxford changes topic to 'Explain the political and economic causes of the Hispalian Civil War. Due Thursday. 500 words.'
[15:06:58] <~Oxford> Try as she might, the racket of Lily and Bridget playing with Enfys in the parlour makes it impossible for Loewin to concentrate on her history essay. She flees to the patio, where, sheltered from the wind, the bricks have soaked in a day's worth of rich spring sunshine. She can feel the radiating heat against her legs as she finds a place to settle down and resume work.
[15:14:57] <~Oxford> The sound of the other girls indoors are mercifully faint, muffled by the walls and the distance. When, or perhaps if, they intend to finish the assignment is an open question.
[15:15:24] <Loewin> A handful of viable reasons are scribbled onto a sheet of scratch paper. She tries to write out a brief description of each, but continuously fails to word things exactly as she wants. Her lack of interest in the topic doesn't aid her endeavors. After quite a bit of mucking about, she finally develops the momentum to get started, only to suffer the exasperation of her pencil tip breaking
[15:15:25] <Loewin> after only a paragraph and a half.
[15:19:11] <Tim> "Ahem." A fresh, meticulously sharpened pencil is handed to her, over her shoulder, the sort of midget pencil used by bankers, hand in a well-manicured hand, wearing a clean white shirt, a tall shadow looming suddenly behind her.
[15:19:18] * Tim is now known as Arthur_Woodes
[15:25:41] <Loewin> Initially accepting the pencil while lost in thought and irritation, Loewin lets out a gasp and quickly scrambles to her feet, preparing to salute the man, only to realize he isn't Vaughn. She eyes him curiously and extends a hand. "Thank you, Mister…?"
[15:29:35] <Arthur_Woodes> The arm extends up to the shoulder of a tall, clean-limbed young man wearing a tweed jacket. His blonde hair is ruthlessly combed, not a hair out of place, his entire attitude as crisp as his accent, "Woodes. You are miss von Stolz, I presume? Loewin von Stolz?" Surprisingly, he's…still in his teens.
[15:30:02] <Arthur_Woodes> He takes her hand, and shakes it firmly.
[15:33:34] <Loewin> "Ah, yes…that's right." Her eyes catch sight of a lock of prismatic hair. She would do unspeakable things to be gone with that color. They're unspeakable because she doesn't know what she'd do. "But how did you recognize me?"
[15:39:28] <Arthur_Woodes> Oddly, he's not only not staring at her hair, but he pronounced her name correctly. It would stain generations of the Woodes name to be less than a professional…and besides, rudeness is intolerable, "You have the von Stolz eyes and cheekbones, miss."
[15:40:59] <Loewin> "Ah…" Her face flushes red, but returns to normal so quickly the untrained eye might suspect it to just be a trick of the light. "You are an associate of my father's then?"
[15:43:46] <Arthur_Woodes> "I am an employee of the family, miss, it is to be expected." He frowns very slightly, "I am sorry to trouble you, but I am the bearer of disheartening news."
[15:45:39] <Loewin> "Oh?" Her face expresses a feigned concern, masking the very real concern inside.
[15:48:17] <Arthur_Woodes> He sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose between his fingertips, "It's your father, he suffered a stroke one evening and collapsed. God be praised, he's still alive, but it would be impossible for him to continue as head of the…these are trying times for the Company, miss. It needs leadership."
[15:50:58] <Loewin> She trembles and her words grow stilted and crack. "And what of my bro-….what of Löwe? S-Surely he is fit…"
[15:53:52] <Arthur_Woodes> He turns partially away, looking towards the horizon. It's rude to watch a woman grieve, "Some believe so, miss. Other members of the Board question his passion for the family's business interests. Questions that were never raised about you."
[15:58:31] <Loewin> "M-Me? Run the co- tell me, Woodes, what of my father's health? You say he is alive but…" There is a particularly noticable crack at the last word, and while she finishes the sentence, the remainder is only heard as airy punches.
[16:02:48] <Arthur_Woodes> "The doctors say he might be able to speak again if he recovers, but it will be slowly, and in the absolute best case the loss of much of his mobility is assured." His voice is audibly pained by having to give these details to the man's daughter, hands clasped tightly together at the small of his back, "One of the servants pulled him out of the bath almost immediately, or it could have been…
[16:02:50] <Arthur_Woodes> …much worse. I'm sorry, miss, I truly am. I wish I had better tidings to give you."
[16:07:37] <Loewin> Her trembling spreads to her knees, though through some strength she manages to stay on her feet. "Then…he needs…I mean…I do not believe I could just go AWOL."
[16:12:14] <Arthur_Woodes> He turns to look at her, and sighs lightly, "I can't ask you to make such a decision right now. It isn't fair, and it isn't right." He makes a business card appear from nowhere, the address of a local bed-and-breakfast on it, "There are further details the company wishes me to bring to your attention, but I'll be staying in town. Whenever you're ready to hear them, do look me up?"
[16:15:09] <Loewin> "V-Very well. Until then." She attempts a smile as she reaches for the card, but grace eludes her as she fumbles for it and crushes it almost immediately in her grip "Thank you for…thank you for stopping by."
[16:30:43] <Arthur_Woodes> He turns, about to leave, then pauses abruptly, "…Don't make that face. His light has not vanished from the sky yet. It's just moved on to you." He turns around, his eyes blazing, "You are Loewin von Stolz, are you not!?"
[16:31:08] <Arthur_Woodes> "Inherit your father's will already! Make what he did meaningful! That's the sort of immortality that honors your ancestors!"
[16:41:10] <Loewin> She nods, another mock smile. "Yes…that is what he would want…in fact, he would have said something very similar to that. I shall speak to you later about the Company, Mister Woodes. I have a project that I must finish here first. Good day." Her business concluded, Loewin doesn't wait for him to leave before returning to her previous work. She stares at the paper on the ground,
[16:41:11] <Loewin> attempting to determine where she left off, but she may as well have been trying to read a Novgoraadi dictionary backwards by candle light. The task no longer makes sense to her. She looks for something to occupy her mind, anything at all. Near the broken pencil she spots an ant, and quickly leans over to try to communicate with it. But it doesn't move. No antennae twitch. Her breathing
[16:41:12] <Loewin> has grown strained and shallow, her face warm and wet. Unable to blind herself to the ring of dead insects that has formed even in her short time outside, the idea of death plagues her as her knees collide with the patio. She pays no heed to the red stains they leave and lets out a ghastly wail as her body is racked with sorrow.
[17:21:54] <Arthur_Woodes> Arthur, seeing her return to her work, turns on the heel of one finely-polished shoe to leave, surprisingly plagued by discontent despite having fulfilled his duties and his moral code to the best of his ability, and given her the proper advice. Professionalism, after all, is his bread and butter. He makes it some distance away, before he hears the scream. He hesitates. People of that…
[17:21:55] <Arthur_Woodes> …social class are practically aliens. He has no business intruding on the grief of anyone, let alone the daughter of the von Stolz family. Such people are expected to have upper lips stiff enough to support bridges. But for all of that, she's a scared, frightened girl, so when her eyes are clear enough to see again, he's offering her a clean, white hankerchief.
[17:28:22] <Arthur_Woodes> "I'm really sorry."
[17:30:21] <Loewin> The pristine state of the handkerchief offers something of a pleasant trance for the girl, the orderliness it suggests a calming beacon in times of uncertainty. She hesitates in soiling it with her tears and snot but relents. She holds it aloft in confusion, unsure if she should return it or clean it herself before doing so, but a fresh stream of tears cascades down once more to stave
[17:30:22] <Loewin> off the question for now. "How…how well do you know h-him?"
[17:39:11] <Arthur_Woodes> He only pauses for a moment, before admitting, "Not well, I saw him once or twice in passing." Seeing the hankerchief being completely soiled, he pulls another from a pocket, and offers it to her, with a small smile.
[17:40:34] <Arthur_Woodes> "I'm Arthur."
[17:43:10] <Arthur_Woodes> *small, sad smile
[17:43:22] <Loewin> She accepts the second gift, and thankfully only loads it with tears. "You already know, but I suppose I did not formally introduce myself. Loewin von Stolz, pleased to meet you. I…abandoned the nickname I was given, though some here still call me 'Cloral.'" A small but genuine smile breaks through her grief. After a time of sniffling, she speaks up again. "Did you…know my brother?"
[17:46:46] * Arthur_Woodes is now known as Arthur
[17:48:59] <Arthur> "I'm afraid not. Those are both nice names, is Cloral some sort of flower?" He smiles back, sitting back and withdrawing a slender, compact first-aid kit from somewhere inside his vest, popping it open and withdrawing bandages and disinfectant, "This will sting a bit, I'm sorry."
[17:53:27] <Loewin> "I…do not think so…I am unfamiliar with the origin…" The thought that it's an anagram for 'collar' was just incidental and she was angry, clearly. No one would actually make a name out of that, right? Her brows furrow in confusion at the bandages as she stains more of the patio. "Hm? What will sting?"
[17:57:13] <Arthur> "Your knees, please present them. Infections are a nasty business, and it would be a travesty if they were to be scarred." He speaks gently, checking to make sure that there's disinfectant in the bottle.
[17:58:59] <Loewin> She pulls up her knees into a crouch, wincing as each leaves the patio. "Oh…I…didn't notice…it isn't so bad compared to what I've been doing lately…"
[18:02:27] <Arthur> For some reason, his lips tighten into a thin line, "I don't know anything about that. No matter what they have you doing, you're still a person, and you still have skinned knees." The disinfectant does sting, but he's careful with it, and with the deftly-tied bandages.
[18:04:39] <Loewin> Despite being shot by Novs and shredded by unholy magic-spawned abominations, the fresh sting of a sterilized wound is still enough to cause her to gasp. Her cheeks flood with crimson. "I…have not needed anyone to do this for me since I was a child…"
[18:11:42] <Arthur> His hands are steady, "I…had a lot of younger siblings, and after father's leg went, I had to do this a lot. I learned how to cook that way, too." His cheeks turn maybe a fraction darker. Maybe. It could just be the light.
[18:20:17] <Loewin> "Ah…I'm afraid I was never all that close to my family…I did not really know my mother and only hoped…" She fights back a few tears. "…I only hoped to please my father. Do you know where Löwe is these days? Is he home? I should…hate to lose him too…without ever getting to know him really…" Her brow furrows more in rage than sorrow at that last thought.
[18:26:02] <Arthur> "Sachs, with his mother. I am certain that he is well-protected." He pats her on the back, "Loewin, I can't say I knew your father well enough to guess at his deepest feelings…but I'm sure he was pleased with you. I can't see how he wouldn't be." He reaches into his vest, and pulls out a thin, stoppered flask.
[18:30:55] <Arthur> "Here, liquid courage. Have a sip, one is good for the bad times. Just don't have too much or it'll go to your head."
[18:31:29] <Loewin> "I should be honored that anyone would think that. But…" She regards Wightshead and the sky for a time before continuing. "I do not believe I can take his place in the company yet. I am here to bring glory to the family in honor of the great nation of Albaea. Abandoning my post now would be shameful. God knows he doesn't wish it, but Löwe will have to fill in for me until my time here
[18:31:29] <Loewin> is done. Unless they were willing to have me lead from here, with information needlessly beleaguered by an envoy of some sort."
[18:43:01] <Arthur> "I'll wire them your decision in a . If you do accept, though, you won't be taking over anything immediately in any case. The argument over who should lead the company is ongoing, and Lowe's supporters are in the majority. Really, the question is whether you're putting your hat in the ring for the future, or not."
[18:43:06] <Arthur> *in a few days
[18:48:20] <Loewin> "Oh…if it is for the future…then I am afraid I must say that I can not guarantee my availability, but I shall prove to be an ever-faithful member of the Family."
[18:54:21] <Arthur> "I'll see that they hear it." He passes her the flask, "No matter what you decide, decide it on your own terms."
[18:55:07] <Loewin> She takes a swig of the flask.
[18:58:19] <Arthur> He raises his eyebrows at the swig, and watches to see how she handles the brandy.
[19:01:22] <Loewin> There are a few coughs after she realizes exactly what it was, but it's obvious she's no stranger.
[19:03:20] <Arthur> His eyebrows climb higher at seeing her familiarity with hard liquor, fighting off a smile.
[19:05:08] <Loewin> Passing it back, she catches his face. "…what?"
[19:06:12] <Arthur> "Nothing." He hides his smirk behind the flask, taking a solid plug on it.
[19:13:58] <Loewin> Loewin suddenly glances about nervously. "If…if that's all then…I suppose you're dismissed? I should like to see you…er…speak with you, again, before you leave…about business of course!"
[19:15:00] <Arthur> "…Leave, miss? Ah, I'm staying in town for the foreseeable future."
[19:17:03] <Loewin> "Oh!…I mean…oh…that's good. It will be nice to have a contact, I've been out of the loop for a time. You are welcome back here whenever you like, just know that I maintain normal school hours and will be busy any time you hear a siren, for the most part."
[19:21:11] <Arthur> "Of course, education is very important. You hold your drink very well, you know." He smiles earnestly, tucking the flask away, "Do call on me soon, I'll bake a pie or something."
[19:22:37] <Loewin> "Well it's not the first ti-…I mean…um…thank you?" Her cheeks are still a mite moist, but it's clear enough she's been distracted from her troubles. "I…shall do that."
[19:33:32] <~Oxford> As the man excuses himself, and his back disappears behind the corner of the mansion, Loewin is once again left alone on the patio. From inside, she can hear Col. Vaughn scolding somebody for letting a bird loose in the kitchen. The bricks of the patio are still warm, but a shift of the wind brings a cool breeze rushing in across the gardens.
[19:34:35] <~Oxford> Hot and cold swirl around her like oil and water in a shaken bottle or emotions in a troubled mind.
[19:34:42] <~Oxford> /session