A cloudy afternoon in the mundane world is as crystalline and lovely a time as ever in the heart of the stony mountain. Today, the hobs have set a dull white fire, greyish, simmering beneath brighter darts of greens and crimsons and bright golds.
The Council sits in their usual places, and refreshments, light and casual, have been left for those who feel the need to sip or munch.
Queen Heather, her crown a halo of soft rose-gold-white light about the shadows and ink of skin and hair, is leaning over to hold a murmured conversation with Charlie O of Winter, the Darkling's smile enigmatic and amused. Charlie, the icy tears of his Entitlement glinting on his cheek, raises a single brow and flinches when Meredith Ryan of Summer walks past with a cup of literal punch on her way to her own seat, the Winter glancing down at his now-bruised shoulder as though an injury should be visible there.
Having met the literal devil on the way to Stoneheart, Nathania Winters is escorted into the gathering by one Carter Logan. She smiles and thanks him, before nodding to the Queen and her Councilor, Charlie O, with a smile. Everyone else's smile is smaller, less radiant, as the rag dolly finds a seat in her Court's section. Pulling out knitting--of course--she gets to work on a pair of socks in a resplendent icy dawn colors: from dark blues to pale oranges, each pair is similar to Heather Vale's appearance right now as Queen.
Widget's excited! She's clutching a folder crammed full of papers, smelling of industry and unfortunate decisions. She's got little chips of the crystals lining Stoneheart's walls on her, as well. It's so much she's hopping from foot to foot, forcing herself to sit down and make sure everything is in order. Did they notice? She bet they noticed. Aw yeah. They must have noticed. Yes. Keheheh. Keheheheheheheh.
Carter is wearing one of his Hedgespun suits, today, a dazzling ensemble that appears to have been woven from pieces of shattered amethyst that somehow manage to flow like silk. He's smoking a strangely fat cigar, as well, one which is emitting distinctly unusual smells - rather than tobacco, it appears to have been put together from leaves from the Hedge.
He murmurs his thanks to Nathania as she takes his hand and helps him to limp over the threshold and into the meeting room, but makes no objection when she moves to take up her seat in the Winter section. He himself heads off towards the council seats, taking up a chair very close to the Queen's own.
The Devil seems both more alive and more attentive, today, than he usually does. There's a distant flicker of fire behind his eyes, and his Mantle is stronger than usual as he glances around at the other assembled Lost. Widget gets a small smile and a wave, but then Carter folds both hands over the top of his cane and turns his attention back towards Heather Vale. It's quite apparent that she has, for whatever reason, earned his actual interest today.
The conversations among other freeholders pause briefly, many of them, when Carter arrives, the unmistakable weight of his ties to Fate a palpable shift in the room's atmosphere. Queen Heather, looking up, considers the rest of the crowd, then kisses a single fingertip and presses it to Charlie O's 'grievous wounde' by way of 'healing' Meredith's love tap, expression one of vague irony rather than affection.
Once the last stragglers are assembled, she pushes herself up to her feet, dusty blue jeans, plaid button-down and all, and addresses the group, her voice as oddly whispery, yet audible as ever.
"Thanks for coming. Since I know all of the faces here, I'll skip past asking if anyone new's around in need of pledging. Next on the docket: any of you got grievances you'd like to air? Duels in need of arbitration?"
Nathania sits, knitting in silence, looking around. The crowd is small; she frowns. But she doesn't speak up, having no grievance or duel or anything that needs to be taken care of. Widget, however, gets a warm smile.
Carter, unsurprisingly, says nothing when it comes to the matter of grievances and duels. Who, after all, would be foolish enough to try and start shit with the Devil Himself? He simply remains silent, both hands folded over his cane, and stares intently at the Queen.
Widget's easy to kick away and hasn't managed to annoy anyone into getting herself challenged yet. She just sits there, fidgeting and smiling at everyone who smiles at her. She's practically vibrating.
When no one demands satisfaction of any other freeholders, Queen Heather nods, as if she had expected as much, and strums her fingers on the tabletop. "Good. Next on the docket: who in the world set up -weapon- emplacements in this Hollow, and why wasn't the Council asked before they chewed into the walls to do it?" Given the chips of crystal on Widget, a few of the Councillors appear to have at least one guess as to who may have been involved.
Nathania raises an eyebrow, before looking around. Her gaze settles on Widget firmly.
/That/ gets Carter to raise both eyebrows, not exactly in /surprise/, but at least in somewhat sudden amusement. He finally looks away from the Dawn Queen long enough to recognize that Widget is covered in crystal chips, holding a folder, and looking incredibly excited. This is enough to get him to smile crookedly. Whatever issues the Council might have with the gremlin's alterations, it's clear that Carter, at least, approves.
Bless her, Widget stands up proudly. "Me!" She holds up her folder, smiling sharply. "And this stuff! Not working yet. Will! Will. Yes. Whiskey is with me." The folder is full of...what /might/ be plans? They're rather poorly made. She starts flipping through, rambling on about 'comm systems' and 'point defenses' and devolved into waggling her fingers at her 'designs'.
When it's clear that Widget seems likely to continue rambling, Queen Heather lifts a hand, palm up and facing the gremlin. "Stop." She waits until it's quiet, then tells Widget, "You meant well, but I'm telling you now, you and Mr. Whiskey're gonna have to take those out. The wards here, they're based on quiet. Nonviolence. We've got agreements with the hobs." A charcoal-dark hand gestures toward the fire as an example. "They don't want a repeat of the 1950s any more than we do."
Looking around the room, she raises her voice to be sure she's heard throughout the meeting hall. "I'm gonna be clear, here. We love it when this community wants to work together, but it's got to have a brain coordinating all those hands, and that brain's this Council." She gestures side to side to indicate the Council and Carter, as representative of the Extended Council of subgroup leaders. "What Court folks do in their Court Hollows is up to them, but ultimately, it'll involve the consent of one of us. What's done in the public spaces, that comes to all of us, and the Crown most of all."
She waits a moment to be sure that has sunk in, then finishes, "Now, don't get me wrong. This place can use some sprucing up. The Court hollows are still overgrown, and the Library's a mess. Just ask Kip about that one." Looking to Widget in particular now, she points out, "Folks, if you've got the energy and the drive, there's a lot you can do. Just run it through the right channels, hey? And please, pleeeease don't take dynamite to these crystals. I don't want our Greenies trying to pick shiny splinters out of your eyeballs."
Nathania just shakes her head and sighs softly. Knitting away still, working from the top down and two at a time, she's almost done with the toes. Her eyes close at Widget's incoming heartbreak.
Carter, in contrast to Nathania, doesn't look away. His expression does become more somber at the Queen's little speech, but his eyes remain on the gremlin. When it all comes to an end and the room is quiet again, he lifts a hand, motioning for Widget to come and join him, rather than taking up her previous seat.
Widget's face falls in stages, the gremlin quietly closing her folder, nodding, and going to go to sit by the pair. There aren't any tears or anything. She's just...quiet.
Meredith Ryan, Summer Councilor, pipes up with a dry, "Good thing you're on our side," toward Widget, the monochromatic martial artist adding, "I saw those installations, and they're -sick-. You ever want to build a bunker somewhere as a fallback position, you let me know. Summers'll help."
Queen Heather laughs quietly, then shakes her head, amused by Meredith's predictable enthusiasm. "Alright. Next on the docket: the sky lights over in Europe. Our Moons and Suns confirm that it's either our kind or someone with VERY similar abilities doing these killings. Best guess is vampire hunters, and, sorry Helah, fanatic Suns."
Helah, Sun Councilor, looks somber, but not offended.
Spreading her hands, the Dawn Queen tells the room, "We're an ocean away, but the world's a smaller place with every passing day. Spread the word, folks. We need to figure out what our position's going to be, should somebody come knock-knock-knocking on our door, asking us all to commit genocide all over our new allies. I'm gonna have our Vamp diplomat POC, Poppy, see what she can wheedle out of Shanta Wilde, but we're not the only group in the area. The Derby folks we met, the Soundless, we need to know what they'll be doing about all of this. Ask around. Tell anyone you see, bring it up, spread the word. We're safe, for now. But..." She leaves the sentence hanging, expression finishing it: that could change.
Nathania nods at Heather, raising an eyebrow at Poppy being the point of contact for the vamps, but says nothing.
It is at this point that Carter Logan clears his throat and, somewhat laboriously, pushes himself upright, leaning heavily on his cane. He's spent the last few moments patting Widget gently on the back, offering wordless comfort. When the Queen brings up the lights over Europe, though, his gaze moves back to her, and he moves.
"It is at this point that I must ask for further clarification," he says, straightening up to his full height and fixing the Queen with the full weight of his gaze. It isn't an attempt at intimidation, but Carter is not someone that most people would like to be stared at like that. It's rare that the Devil ever shows this much interest in anything, and the intensity of his stare may be somewhat alarming.
"Someone whose life I value very highly," he continues, "has made it clear to me that they intend to make an attempt to reconnoiter the situation in Europe in person, which places them at considerable risk. I am displeased by this danger, of course, but I recognize that their actions are potentially extremely valuable for the future of the freehold. I will make no attempt to stop them, but I do wish to make all possible efforts to ensure their safety. And, of course, the safety of the rest of the freehold."
He pauses for a moment, looking serious, then continues. "As Watcher-Elect, my services as an oneiromancer are already placed at the disposal of this Council. Under other circumstances, I may have thought that enough. As my interest in this matter is now personal, however, I wish to make it clear that I am making myself available for assistance in this matter in /any/ capacity that I can serve."
He lifts a hand, waving it through the air as though to shoo away any interruptions. "I am formally allied with neither Moon nor Sun, though I profess to a personal affinity with the former. I am, not to mince words, a supernally capable diplomat, liar, and general manipulator. I possess considerable talent at manipulating the minds of others, particularly mortals, which I do not wield lightly. If this matter is to come to us, however - and I believe that it ultimately shall - I wish it to be known that I can be depended upon for assistance."
He stops there, for a moment, letting his eyes move over each of the Councilors in turn. "In return," he says, "I ask that I be kept abreast of all information regarding this matter that the Council has available. I have heard the news reports, but know little more beyond this. I am of little use if I am not correctly informed. As Miss Widget has immeasurable talent in the area of machinery and construction, but requires direction, I do the same if my talents are to be of any benefit to the freehold."
Again, he pauses. Then he nods to the Queen and, apparently finished, lowers himself back into his chair.
Widget looks over at Meredith, expression not changing except for a flare in her flicker eyes. Oh, really? Summer would be getting a visitor, then! She had her plans still. So many. If she had a whole /court/ to help her...
She blinks when Carter starts to talk, smiling at him. Europe? That was really far away. Mayeb that's were Zillah is. She'd be fine. Zillah was crafty. Affectionatly bumping her shoulder against the devil, Widget turns her attention to Nat. She wiggles her feet, showing she's wearing those rainbow socks. They were lucky at this point. That was just science.
Bunkers, though. Hmmmmmmm.
"That's the problem on the nose," the Queen confirms. "We know fuck-all about the details, to be crass, and we need to know more. Ask around your folks, Carter. See if anyone can scoop up a vision or two. In the meanwhile... anything else folks want to bring up before the freehold?"
Nathania looks to Carter, and murmurs, "Meeting... soon, yes?" as one Watcher to another.
"Certainly," Carter murmurs, in response to Nathania, inclining his head. Then he looks back to the Queen. "Unfortunately," he says, "the Watchers are currently exceptionally understaffed, and for all my ability as an oneiromancer I possess no talent as a seer. Neither, I think, does Miss Winters." He gestures towards Nathania. "This is regrettable, but unavoidable, I'm afraid. Oneiromancy can be taught. Prophecy is a gift of the Wyrd. I might make some attempt to procure rare goblin fruits or obscure Tokens to induce a prophetic trance, if the Council thinks it advisable, but this would be considerably difficult and unlikely to yield any useful information, in my professional opinion."
Nathania speaks up. "Au contraire, Carter," the rag dolly says softly. "I do... possess... the dreams of prophecy."
Widget has no idea what's going on. The crestfallen gremlin is sitting with Nathania and Carter, protectively clutching her folder o' designs. Confusion leads to a tilted head.
Whiskey enters accompanied by a orange tabby tom who skitters away at the entranceway. He is dressed in courtier clothing, impeccably tailored. Mostly forest green and midnight blue silks, with polished leather boots. A thick quilted vest of some iridescent lizard completes the outfit. No weapons are visible. He bows to the queen, a perfect deep courtly bow of the Victorian style, saying "Your majesty, council. My apologies for tardiness. I hope the new turret meets with your approval. I persuaded Widget to help me with it, in light of the pressing concern of the Soundless. I hope I did not overstep in my eagerness to contribute in order to protect our people?"
A light and bitter chill wind whips half-there phantasms around Whiskey's feet, and the sounds of cats performing very activity imaginable can be faintly heard coming from his direction. Most sound the domestic variety, but there are a few tiger growls in there as well. The vines on his skin are roses today, blood red with thorns visible, and in full bloom.
With a gesture in the direction of Widget and Carter once Whiskey arrives, the Auroral Queen tells him, "We went over that a little bit ago, but to keep it short and sweet: yes, you overstepped, and we'll need you two to remove them. The wards depend on silence and nonviolence, and any substantive changes to the public areas like that need to get the approval of the Council." A charcoal-dark hand flicks an indicative finger toward Meredith Ryan, the Summer Councilor. "Meredith's a fan, however, of anything that goes boom on bad guys. Talk to Widget. I'm sure she's got all new plans for fallback bunkers brewing in that head of hers." Heather flashes a brief, wry smile the gremlin's way.
"If no one has any other matters to bring up, that's all the business on the docket for the day."
Nathania giving a reassuring smile to Widget, a fainter smile to Whiskey, Nathania walks up to the Queen. "Hey, uh, I.... made you... these." And she offers the freshly-completed socks Heather's way. Accepted or not, Nat will be on her way, heading out toward her Hollow.
Whiskey bows, "Yes, my queen. I would like an audience with you at some point if I may, regarding attempts to find out more about Soundless, and to prepare for what I feel is a soon to come attack from their direction."