An Off Witch, a Dangerous Imbalance
- Fao Manor, a broken down estate in the Barony of Fao.
The next morning, after the rather disastrous discussions of the party and her apparently over the top reaction, Zyindra is up as usual with the dawn, already preparing breakfast for everyone according to their usual preferences. She also, it seems, is trying to make things up to Sabbath, as she is in the kitchen, tossing him tiny bits of meat - mostly trimmed bits of bacon - intermittently throughout her work.
For his part, the fox is deigning to poke his head out from beneath one of the trestle tables in the kitchen to scarf these bits of treat as they are offered, and is staying close as always to his mistress. But he is not draped over her shoulders, or tangled around her feet as he would normally be. He is keeping his distance, still apparently making his displeasure known.
"Yes, of course I know they were not there. But I had not tested anyone, and they had just come from a place potentially infested with the things. I had to make sure you would be protected."
Usually the last one up and about, for some reason, Lucius is awake or at least as awake as he can be so early in the morning. He pushes the door to the kitchen open, stifling a yawn.
"You know you don't have to make breakfast every morning." Even as Lucius says the words, it's obvious from the look on his face that he'd be quite sad at not enjoying the good food Zyindra makes.
Sabbath gives a sharp little bark from his spot under the trestle table, and then turns his muzzle to watch Lucius enter. He ducks back under the table, staying out of the way, though the tip of his nose and tail are still visible.
Zyindra looks up from Sabbath at Lucius and smiles, shaking her head. "I want to eat, too. If I am going to cook for myself, why shouldn't I cook for everyone else? Everyone does better with a healthy meal first thing in the day, after all."
That green-golden glow forms in her eyes as she glances at a mug, which proceeds to sparkle as it floats over to the fire, the glow spreading to the pot in which the coffee is resting, which then tilts itself to pour out a measure. The pot resettles, and the mug floats over to Lucius.
"Your usual, this morning?" the redheaded witch then asks.
As is usual, Lucius is always wary around all animals including Sabbath and Kaza and unless dire circumstances force him to acknowledge them, they are merely background noise to be politely ignored.
Lucius takes the offered mug with a smirk. "Since you've already gone to the trouble. I suppose it would be rude of me to decline."
"Ever polite." the redheaded witch offers, the glow fading from the mug as it is taken, and from her eyes a moment later. She does not bother with magic, then, as she pulls out a plate and fills it with Lucius' usual preferred breakfast; they have all known one another quite long enough to know each other that well, and she really is the best cook in the group.
"I wanted to apologize for disrupting the meeting last night. I will speak with Shiphrah later to make my apologies to her personally, but it was your meeting." And this is the first time she is seeing anyone but Sabbath since the incident occurred. She offers this, even as she extends the filled plate to Lucius with a slight nod.
Lucius takes the offered plate with his free hand.
"We are all under great pressure these days. I, myself, have been known to get a upset occasionally." He motions over to the few stools in the corner for those who need a moment to sit while working in the kitchen. "Why don't we sit down and you can tell me what's bothering you?"
"No, really. It's alright. I don't need to burden you ..." Zyindra starts to demure, clearly intending to let the opportunity pass. She's even visibly shaking her head, when from behind Lucius comes a sharp bark. Sabbath has come out from under the trestle table to stare at Zyindra intently.
The two lock eyes for a bit, and finally Zyindra's shoulders slump a bit. Apparently feeling vindicated, Sabbath returns to all fours, swishes his tail and disappears back under the table, his work here done.
Zyindra, apparently defeated, walks over to one of the stools Lucius indicated and settles herself. Clearly, she had no problem taking responsibility and apologizing, but she really didn't want to talk about her feelings, not even with Lucius, possibly her closest friend in the party.
"The truth is, I suppose, there are two things bothering me." Zyindra begins. "The first is that the ticks upset and anger me. They can be anyone. And there is no healing the damage they do, no restoring those they affect. They are forever gone." For someone who has made it her life's work from her youngest days to help and heal others, clearly this would be upsetting. It's not hard to understand; this is not just death, but the true unmaking of the living person. Anathema.
"But more strongly, to be fair, is my fear." Zyindra looks very, very uncomfortable admitting this. This, it seems, is what she was avoiding sharing. This is what Sabbath apparently demands she share, in spite of herself. "I am terrified of this apparent threat of the sleeping god-general, Kitiara." Zyindra sighs pensively. "It - she - is a god-general. We cannot defeat that sort of power without the Totems and armies. And we have neither. We may well be destined to face this threat. But I cannot help believing that we cannot win, and we will be destroyed." And like any mortal being, Zyindra doesn't want to die. "It does not help that you are now having visions. Yet my own have been silent." Is that because of her fear? Or is there an even worse reason?
Lucius places his plate and mug on the counter next to the stools and listens to Zyindra as she lays out her concerns. It doesn't matter that his delectable meal might be getting cold, he shows his caring by showing that she is more important than a tasty meal. When she has finally paused he waits to see if she might say anymore before speaking himself.
Then he takes a deep breath and clasps his hands together in front of him. "I can understand why you would be upset. Those are two very serious concerns. The ticks alone are incredibly disturbing without definite ways to recognize them right away. I fear that no one can be trusted and even after trust has been obtained, it needs to be renewed."
Lucius refrains from muddling things up by adding his own feelings about trust. He lives in a world where secrets rule and trust is rarely given.
"Having to deal with a god-general on top of the horror of the ticks is beyond anyone's wildest imaginings. And it makes sense that you are afraid. I believe it's safe to say that we are all afraid." Because anyone who isn't a little bit afraid of a god-general doesn't truly understand the breadth of the problem.
"As for this vision I had, I hope that has not upset you. I had not had a chance to elaborate last night but after mulling over the possibilities, I believe the Horned Lady, an icon of Onyx, wanted to show me something. She is the keeper of secrets lost to nature and I believed she wanted to talk to me and give me a map of a location. From her I believe I now know approximately where in the Barony, there might be a lost temple."
Lucius places his hands in his lap, head bowed.
"I did not plan for it to happen and it is not something I believe is like what you experience in your visions. There was no future seeing involved or cryptic message. That day, I had gone to the temple and sought out a bit of inspiration, perhaps an epiphany from Onyx. As you know, the totems don't interfere directly in our lives except through their icons. Even so, I hoped to be inspired with a new solution to fix all the problems we're having. Even just the hint of a solution would have been welcomed. Being a Baron is not easy and I fear I am failing my people."
Zyindra shakes her head. "I am not blaming you, Lucius. It is what it is." And the story of how he obtained his vision certain reassures her that its source is more likely legitimate than misinformation from the enemy. "But I won't say it isn't unsettling." And isn't there enough unsettling things already?
"I did get a message from the Queen this morning. She has received our messages regarding the tick, and the original intelligence on the god-general." Zyindra mentions. She did send a message on Lucius' behalf before they left for Vesicule, and finally has a response back. How she managed to send these she has not explained, other than blushing brilliantly whenever the subject was brought up. "Of course, we did not have a name then. I am paraphrasing quite a bit, but she promises that she is on the tick problem as of now. She has dealt with one who was impersonating the ambassador of Peridot to her court, and expelled the rest of their delegation to demonstrate her displeasure. She extorts us in strongest possible terms to do all we can on the front of the god-general, and leave the ticks to her efforts wherever we can."
The witch sighs. "You are not failing your people, Lucius. You are struggling against nearly impossible odds. You have a target location. We will just have to check it out carefully, and hope we can do something before this god-general can be awakened by the enemy." How, she has no idea.
Zyindra passes her hand over Lucius' plate, reheating things. "I would like to ask a few questions about this new cousin of yours, when you have the time. And I will see to scanning everyone that has come in, just to double-check."
Lucius nods in agreement. "Truly much is unsettling. Though I am glad to hear that the Queen is working to clean out her court. Hopefully we can trust that she is truly she and not one of them. I suppose I can inquire if there are rumours that match the Queen's actions. It will be slow to find out but where we are already is quite slow. Definitely check the others when you can."
He sighs at Zyindra's questioning of his cousin, picking his mug back up and taking a sip. It's as if he expected someone would eventually start asking questions. "What do you want to know about Drew?"
Zyindra frowns quite unhappily at the thought that the Queen could in fact be one of those vile, disgusting, evil ticks. That didn't have to be said, damnit.
"Well, her name, first. Why she is here?" Zyindra starts in with Lucius about Drew, shooing him to start eating lest she have to reheat the food once again. "And, if you will allow me, on a more personal note I am curious about her rather profound resemblance to the Queen."
Lucius turns to his food and takes a bite, savoring the flavor and spice. As most Onyxish, he loves all his food spicy and hot. He lets his appreciation for breakfast be known by taking a second and then a third bite before even beginning to answer Zyindra's questions.
"Her name is Drusilla. She's Brutus' replacement for the company. I call her Drew, but only because she calls me Lucy. You can call her Drusilla. You'll like her. Everyone likes her. If you ask me, it's most unbecoming." It's odd that perhaps he might have preferred the dislike that Brutus showed to him over the obvious niceness coming from Drusilla.
He shrugs. "The Queen? Honestly, I don't see the resemblence."
"Drusilla." Zyindra repeats, almost as if she is tasting the name, deciding if she feels it is the truth or not - a true label for the individual she has encountered. "I do not know why you would feel it unbecoming for a businesswoman to be liked by most who encounter her. Surely that would be of benefit to her in doing business?"
But on the question of the resemblance, Zyindra is not mincing words. "I never took you for a blind person, Lucius. Yes, she looks virtually like the Queen's twin, if not for her coloration. Even her voice is eerily similar, although her accent is different." And to be blunt, Zyindra is almost thinking that Lucius is being purposefully obtuse. It would be far from the first time, after all.
"It is not that she is a business woman. I admire her excellent skill at bargaining. It is.." He seems about to say more but then shakes his head. "This is not the right place for such a discussion. And anyway, it's not important. Either way, she is not infected and therefore a suitable replacement for Brutus."
When Zyindra accuses him of being blind, he stops mid chew swallows and then responds. "You really think she looks like the Queen?" Is he being purposefully obtuse? There isn't anything to suggest he is. In fact, the serious look on his face seems to suggest he's thinking really hard as if trying to remember and compare the Queen to Drusilla.
|Setting • People • Locations • Monsters • Journal • House Rules • Noteboard|