Seated in an arc around the rear of the changeable hearthfire, which, today, is an almost painfully bright blend of fuchsia and jungle green with an oddly sweet scent to it, almost like cloves, the majority of Crown and Council are already in attendance. Heather Vale of Dawn is seated next to Reginald Pook of Spring on one side, and King Charlie on the other. Meredith Ryan of Summer is on Pook's other side, with Helah Morgenstern of Sun, a vacant seat for Ashe, Katie Jones of Dusk and, last, Tracy MacGregor of Moon to the far right.
Incongruously, one of the tables scattered throughout the room has a box of a dozen store-bought cupcakes with violently pink icing.
Heart shaped sprinkles, in fact.
A torn-off scrap of blue-lined notebook paper has the words 'EAT ME' written on it in black Sharpie, and an arrow pointing toward the cupcakes.
Esther comes in smelling of strange herbs, her usual bag hanging off her shoulder. She's got a notebook in one hand, and as soon as she sits down, she opens it and begins scribbling notes with a pencil that she probably grabbed from putt putt golf or bowling. She almost, almost, doesn't notice the cupcakes. But they soon catch her eyes. She looks around, then quickly gets up, tiptoeing over to grab one and get back to her seat. And back to notes.
Apparently it's a day for sensible shoes, or at least more sensible shoes than usual as Poppy steps into the meeting room without the usual click of stilettos that typically announce her presence. She's also not alone, being accompanied by one Vorpal; it seems someone isn't the kind of person to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to 'not getting eaten in the Hedge.' Or maybe 'not having literally anything come within a twenty foot radius of the trip through the Hedge.' She's wearing her usual winter outerwear consisting of a wool trench, but it's open in the front, revealing black skinny jeans and a loose-fitting, iridescent green top decorated in stylized scales and layered over a simple long-sleeved, black shirt. Her attention goes from the fuschia and green towards the boxes of cupcakes and the notebook, and she gives a rather musical snort. "Oh, fuck no am I eating something that comes with fucking instructions," she murmurs.
"Spoilsport." This comes out as a laugh from just behind Poppy, as Amber makes her own way in wrapped in a winter coat. She peeks over the siren's shoulder to look at the cupcakes while peeling off her gloves, then flashes a grin as she steps around just long enough to claim one of the treats before finding a seat.
Poppy's remark on the cupcakes draw Vorpal's attention to them, and he freezes for a half second, eyes narrowing violently. "... those have November written all over them. That, Poppy, is -the right- reaction." He scrunches his face and snorts in the general direction of the confections, then huffs, and grins at Poppy. "Gonna grab a seat. I'll be taking a group back real-side afterwards, if nothing interferes. You're welcome to make this a round trip if you like. Until then," he offers, tipping a nod her way, before moving to sweep a bow in the general direction of the Council, tip a wink at Heather, and moving to claim a seat at one of the tables.
The usual trio, two Russians, one Malamute. Beren's in his doggie vest, bright-eyed and fluffier than ever. He's not on a leash, and once Kiril and Zhenya have come in behind him, he makes a beeline for the cupcakes. Putting one paw up to brace himself, he rears up to look down at the note, then turns to his Soldier and announces, delighted, "I can read the words! They say, "Eat me!" Can I eat one?" Kiril leaves Zhenya to get situated and looks over. "Buddy, you know that kind of frosting makes you sick. Remember the Saint Patrick's day disaster?" Beren looks uncertain for a moment, drops down, then admits, grudgingly, ".....yes."
Sensible shoes?! But then you can't separate! At least not for free. The mermaid comes drifting in, humming to herself, trailing her husband behind her like a ducky on a pull string. Their fingers are gently looped together, so as not to hurt the webbing between Etsy's fingers by means of the little black claws on the tips of Reggie's fingers. Doodly doo, doot doo. She looks at the cupcakes for a moment, and then sighs so sadly: "But it is not a meats," before wandering toward a seat, wiggling her free hand's fingers toward those she knows. Doot doot doot.
Esther bites into the cupcake, chews, swallows, and...is surrounded by little floating hearts. It's like one of those cute picture options on the internets. She sits up straight, looking around like a startled golden retriever. "My goodness!"
Poppy glances behind her at Amber, grinning at the Ogress before she glances towards Vorpal, arching an eyebrow. "I...will /definitely/ not be eating the fucking cupcakes then," she sayd cheerfully, then nods brightly at the hunter. "Appreciate it," she says before glancing back towards Amber. "What the hell have you been up to?" A grin and nod towards the cupcake. "Besides living dangerously." The Russians and the doggie are given a wave of greeting, even as the siren moves out of the way of those arriving.
If you're going to turn up, turn up in style. Sigrun strides in dressed head to toe in hedgespun armor and raiment. Most notably her winged helmet, her silvery-blue plated armor, which contrasts nicely with the black reptile hide leathers beneath it. An ornate weapon belt, a truly conspicuously large norse round shield and battle axe on her back, and a lovely floor length briarwolf fur cloak worn over her pauldrons. There's a white and gold drinking horn at her waist, and a golden braided torc around her neck. And she's glowing. It's like she walked off the stage of a Wagner opera, through a nuclear reactor. And if that's not enough, her summer mantle roils about her, rippling the cooler air with heat and, every so often, distant sounds of singing voices. It's hard to comfortably sit when you're kitted out to raid Saxon coastal settlements, so she finds a place to stand, instead. Or loom, as the case may be.
Esther lifts the cupcake to her nose, sniffing a few times. The hearts go away. The ogress blinks a few times, looking around to see if anyone else viewed the interesting visual. Then she takes another bite. *pop!* go the hearts, *blink!* goes the Esther. "Either I am hallucinating or..."
Amber starts to answer Poppy, but Esther's sudden exclamation catches her attention instead. She turns and blinks over at the other woman and her new floating accessories, and laughs brightly. "Oh, now that is /fantastic/." Cheerfully, she starts unwrapping her cupcake even as she follows Poppy to get the heck out of the way. "You know me -- working more than I should, getting into trouble, all that sort of thing. I feel downright responsible, making it to things tonight." Then Sigrun enters, and the ogress lets out a low whistle of appreciation as she looks the tall Summer over from head to toe. "Remind me not to act too much like a nice inviting village on the shores of England."
Reggie waddles in after Etsy, following her towards her destiantion, and seats himself right alongside her. He's content to simply offer a few waves to familiar faces and concern himself with his drinking flask. Meetings can get awful long. "If my time in fairy circles has taught me anything, it's never to eat cakes with a sign that says 'eat me' nearby. They wrote books about it."
Vorpal lifts a hand at his table when Sigrun storms the beaches, greeting her with a wave and a grin that at least attempts to be as bright as the Valkyrie herself. The sight of hearts starting to pop around various cupcake partakers has Vorpal outright laughing and closing a fist against his mouth, clearly delighted at something.
King Charlie's crown is as icy as he is, glittering in diamond-sharp points with a band of black onyx as a base. This means, of course, that tonight it looks a bit fuchsia-and-greenish thanks to all the light reflecting from the goblin fires.
Rising from his seat after a murmured word with Heather at his side, a single lifted finger and a decidedly bland expression indicating Esther, the Winter waits for those assembled to settle before speaking.
"Thank you all for coming. I'll try to keep this brief. In order, we will welcome new members; arbitrate any duels in need of arbitration; discuss any announcements and details brought up by our Custodians, Greenies, Harvestmen, Watchers and Waykeepers; discuss the ongoing searches for Freehold, Market and True Fae; and, last, open the floor to any other concerns members may have."
The hearts make both Beren and his human laugh, the former waving his tail as he trots back to flop down at his human's feet. HE's given some kind of treat as compensation for not eating the cupcakes. Then the Monarch is speaking, and the Winter's looking attentively to Charlie, even as the dog's head turns that way.
Poppy is first distracted by Sigrun's glowing arrival, giving the Valkyrie a grin; she then glances towards Esther and the hearts. "Well, I can definitely fucking pass on that," she says before returning her attention to Amber and grinning before leaning in and murmuring something as Charlie O begins to speak, even as she sidles over towards a table.
Cordy is camped out at one of the tables, doing her best to stay small and out of sight. Hearing that new members is the first thing on the docket wilts the black-furred rabbit ears poking out the top of her head, but she doesn't complain, at least, the forgelight behind her eyes flickering as she blinks and tries to take in the cavalcade of unfamiliar faces.
Whilst Beren may not avail himself of the snacks provided, it would be a rather rude day for Zhenya not to do so. She pets the malamute behind his bristly ruff, taking one of the iced cakelets for herself. Such a humble gift she carries over to whatever situation constitutes a comfortable place to sit with Kiril. A dab of icing licked off the tip of her finger will soon enough give her the heart-form halo like everyone else.
Billy Ray makes his way in - quietly, since he's late - removing his trucker cap to stuff it into a back pocket. He has on a button down shirt, of all things, and clean pressed jeans and boots, running his fingers through his hair as he drops into a seat and silently thumps a Copenhagen can against his thigh, a slow and steadily silent beat.
In direct contrast to Sigrun's big entrance, Olenka arrives about as intrusively as a whisper. No glowing. Barely any mantle to speak of, discounting the odd snowflake that pinwheels and rolls in her chilly wake. She wears black predominantly too, and the bulk of her hidden within a long, double breasted trench coat. From the hem, skinny legs in dark stockings end at feet, as is customary, slipped into heels so high they look potentially fatal. Or would, if she wasn't so graceful in them. She glides to a stop short of the seating area, angled off to the side out of the way where it's much easier to lurk, and does just that. Lurks.
King Charlie waits until the last murmurs of conversation have died out, ignoring the stifled laughter from a few of the Councilors at the sudden appearance of hearts over Zhenya's head as well, and looks out over the room. "Any who haven't pledged, you're welcome to do so now. Please approach the fire. Any who have pledged since January 21st, please stand to be recognised, and thank you for joining Fate's Harvest."
Esther doesn't feel so out of place when other people in the meeting are dealing with a case of hearts as well. She finishes off her cupcake, then starts taking her notes again, paying close attention to the meeting.
Cordy stands when the King calls for those who wish to pledge to do so, and moves towards the fire as directed. Her shoulders are a mite hunched, and she glances around the room as she takes each step, as if desperately hopeful she isn't going to be standing up there by herself.
Etsy settles in at the blue table and kicks off her tatty silk slippers. A little sigh of relief follows, and the Flowering siren's feet unfold into, well. Fins. There's casual mermaid nudity, and then there's 'the siren equivalent of taking off ya damn bra at the end of the day.' But Etsy dun look much like either one of those intimacies is a thing she's thinking about. Her sea-change eyes shift subtle brackish.
Sigrun gives Poppy and Amber a sidelong glance, her stoic expression not lasting past the other women's amusement. Sigrun's smile appears and remains in place, after a small shake of her helmeted head. She does lift an answering hand to Vorpal as she starts off down the aisle towards the fires. As she nears the crown and the council, she removes the helmet from her head, which leaves a leather hood in place. Helmet tucked under arm, she rests her hand atop it and waits to speak her oath.
Olenka remains off to herself, stationary, lurking. She is clearly watching and listening, icy eyes smoothly tracking a gaze after those standing to take their oaths. She doesn't move to join them, moving only to swing her handbag in front of herself so that she can hold the handles with both hands, grip lose. Her head ticks a few degrees to the left, and the tears frozen to her upturned cheek shimmer softly in the firelight.
Belatedly, a steadfast tin soldier-- with somewhat less wildly overflowing Spring mantle than before-- comes in through the back and tries not to let what mantle he does have be too intrusive. He leans against the wall and looks expressionlessly at the cupcakes, giving off the impression of longing despite the anime heartbubbles popping around people's heads, and he remains silent.
King Charlie waits for any others to stand, and when it appears Cordy and Sigrun are the only two who are new this evening, he quietly walks them through the pledge, patient with any hesitations. His expression is grave, but pleased; it's a dangerous world out there, and one more body in the Freehold is one more body to defend them all.
Once their fealty pledge has been made, he gestures for them to turn around and face the rest, a wry smile quirking his lips. "Obligatory public staring. Thank you for your trust, and welcome to Fate's Harvest."
The Council members begin a smattering of applause, and, in Meredith of Summer's case, table-pounding and hooting. Subtle? What's that?
Once congratulations are over, he gestures for the duo to take their seats again, and announces, "The Extended Council met yesterday evening, and as it appears none of the group leadership was able to make it tonight, suffice it to say that business goes on as usual. Harvestmen and Greenies, especially, but all subgroups, please pay attention to any upcoming announcements from your leaders. We will be initiating group training sessions to better prepare ourselves for conflict, internal or external. There have been hints of trouble, but nothing definite enough to warrant a full-scale search. Better to be prepared than to be caught with our pants down if it does come."
Reggie glances about, seemingly coming to the realization that he should be up there, too. "Bollocks." He screws the cap back on to his flask, hops back to his feet, adjusts his hair and scarf, and begins to boldly... waddle up towards the fire. He doesn't cut a very fine figure, but he tries. So. Hard. "Sorry. Sorry." He adds his pledge in for good measure, having to rush a bit to catch up to the others, then waddles his way back to his seat beside Etsy.
King Charlie pledges Reggie too!
Esther applauds when appropriate, with an extra cheer for the ever dashing Reggie. She looks over to see if there are any cupcakes left. She doesn't want to cause a scene, but they were quite tasty. She sighs and returns to note taking.
Cordy works her way through the pledge itself with something approaching relief- relief PROMPTLY squashed when she's directed to turn and face the crowd instead of scurrying back to her seat in safety. She does, to her credit... but it's hella reluctant and she looks like she might die on the spot of sheer embarassment. Her ears droop to either side, she -visibly quivers- in place, and the clapping- and table-pounding hoots- leave her flinching. The moment they're dismissed, it's STRAIGHT to her table.
Her table? She must have gotten lost, because she settles at Etsy's table, not the one she was at before, staring at the table surface and doing her best to disappear into it.
Still nine cupcakes!
Billy Ray gives a thumbs up to Etsy as she arrives, and then Reggie, clapping as folks are pledged - a smile from the redneck Spring Wizened to Cordy and a thumbs up to her as he settles in.
Poppy watches Court more or less quietly, but intermittenly does seem to be sharing a murmured comment with Amber. From the sly expression on the siren's face, it's likely the conversation has nothing to do with Court business.
Etsy hums happily and swings her feet, her fins sweeping against the ground, and almost-silently claps her webbed hands at Reggie's repledging. Merms take care of such things promptly. Doot doot doot.
The Winters are smiling at each other, secretively, shoulder to shoulder. Beren's under the red table, peeking out like a wolf from a cave, observing.
Sigrun accepts the applause with requisite humility. It's just a freehold pledge, after all. She murmurs her thanks to Charlie and starts back down the aisle again with further rattling of arms and armor. Still unable to really easily seat herself anywhere, she adopts her former shoulder width stance near the rear of the room. Once she settles back in, she lifts the helmet out from under her arm and returns it to her head, adjusting the facing of the wings just so.
Another swipe of icing and there goes the happy rainbow heart aura again. Someone needs to bring a bit of light and colour; it might as well be the Telluric Winter, clearly appreciative of the baked goods or sorely testing the resolve of the room. Any sort of applause and fanfare might be completely out of character, but Zhenya does smile.
Amber at least /seems/ to be paying attention, her eyes watching the flow of people making their way up to pledge, and other related discussions going on around the current monarch. But whatever quiet conversation happens now and again between she and Poppy, it's punctuated by the ephemeral hearts that appear and dance over the Spring's horns from time to time as she nibbles her way through her cupcake.
Olenka pats the back of her hand in a semblance of a round of applause for those newly pledged. Of course, it's basically soundless, but the intent is at least there from the silent Winter. She doesn't actually smile, or anything either, but she doesn't seem the type to be throwing grins around all willy nilly. They're probably reserved for very special occasions, in the dark, when nobody's looking or even aware she's standing behind them with a knife.
King Charlie scans the room, noting faces, and when no one else seems to be coming up as a late-pledger, he asks, "Logan? Poppy? I believe you and an unaffiliated named Daniel Dross were the latest to work on the Freehold search project. Please give the group an update on what you have learned."
Oh, yes, Logan. He's here, too! As bright and as shiny as ever, currently watching from the back of the room, arms folded, a smile on his handsome face. He's wearing a nice blue suit and blue and gold striped tie, more preppy and formal than usual, and less Hedgespun. But he does step forward when King Charlie calls him out, after a brief glance at Poppy, and speaks up in his melodious SoCal tones. "I'd be happy to, Your Majesty. Poppy, Dross and I searched high and low throughout northern Vermont for Hedge gates or other signs that might point to additional Freeholds in the area." He pauses, smiling, then continues. "We at last found a lead in Troy. There's a gate under the Missisquoi river bridge on the VT-100, and a loop of trod. An old escape route. There used to be a Freehold there once, according to an older gentleman we met, and there may still be one." He neglects to mention what the gate is made of or where /precisely/ it is, it's just so /unglamorous/. "Anyway, that's where we left things, and with your permission, I'd like to go back with reinforcements to head through the gate and see what we find."
Poppy doesn't /quite/ look like the kid in class that got caught having a side conversation, since she's been dividing her attention enough to not be caught entirely unawares, but she does blink as she catches her name. Thankfully, she doesn't have her mouth full, at least. A glance to Logan, then when it becomes clear the other Fairest is more than content to give an update, she holds her peace. She's at least paying full attention now?
"I'd like to lend a hand with that, and see if I can rustle up some other Harvestmen and-or Greenies to go with, too," Czcibor's tinny echoing radio-in-a-tin-can hedge voice speaks up from the back. "Let me know after the meeting, Logan?"
Sigrun rattles a bit, perhaps deliberately, as she adjusts her stance and raises her voice. It doesn't need much raising, really. It must be noted that the whole towering valkyrie aesthetic may be sliiightly compromised by the folksy Minnesotan accent she sports when speaking, "Your Majesty. If this mission wants for reinforcements and protection, the Summer Court would be happy to offer it. If Logan and Poppy would be willing to provide a desired skillset, we'll put some names together at our meeting on Sunday and have them for you all at the start of the week." She gives first Logan, then Poppy a nod to solemnize her assurance.
King Charlie stands, hands at his sides, until it looks like Logan and Poppy have made their decision about which of them is going to speak up.
Stepping around the fire to reclaim his seat while Logan describes their search and their results, he nods, acknowledging the need, and confirms, "The call will go out to the entire Freehold as a body, but the sooner we can start planning, the better. Ideally, I would like for us to have at least one scouting mission preparatory to a more diplomatic introduction." Pointing a finger-gun at Sigrun, the Winter adds, "Summer's got the general idea. You folks get together, see if you can find what you need, and if not, let me know."
He looks around the room again. "Market search is next. Who'd like to report on that?"
Sigrun puts a hand over her chest and staggers backward one and a half steps in the wake of being fingergunned. She has a sense of humor, apparently.
Reggie elbows Etsy. First once, then twice. "Don't make me do it, I was drunk for most of it."
Logan looks suitably pleased by the various offers of help, and by King Charlie's assessment as well. He steps back after he's done, blue eyes trailing over those darn cupcakes. But no, he's not going to eat one. He's already seen what happens to those who do.
"You are not supposed to do an admits of that, Reginald H. S. Danger," mutters Etsy, and she doesn't rise, because fins. Sitting is better for a merms. Folding her webbed hands on her lap, she swings her tail -- feet -- yeah -- as a single unit, and her musical, if somewhat disordered, speech tumbles from her pale blue lips in an absent collection of phrases that thankfully mostly make sense. "We went out to do a lookings, and did find a hob who did have a knowings of two Markets. I was able to get from him an officials messages to delivers to Keyfork Marshes," and here she twitches a little bit, it's not good to be a Sacred Courier with an undelivered message, "which was meanings could get there easy-peasy following a sense of a message which I am havings. We did go theres but the market rules are not so goods for us I am thinks."
"Uschis of a Moons did do a bets and get the rules after I did a findings of a Markets and Cordys here did come and do a helps and Reggies did fly us placings and retrieve for us the price for Feck the birds to give us a messages to deliver. The rules of a Wayforks Markets are as doing a follows:"
"1. If you do a steal, the persons you do a stealing from gets part of you as payment. If you are wanting it back, you have to do a separate bargains and pays to get that parts of you back. 2. Do not do a Welsh on a deals. 3. Only do a fights outside the markets. No fights in the markets, only outside."
"4. Do not do a sass of sniffers of the Markets, as they are goodness at doing a sniff of finding fights. 5. Do not talk to or nearness to the the Founders. Keeping mouths all shut. They are not to like a Lost at all, and do not have a carings if we wanting a liking from the Founders. They will not likings because they are saying we should all be being slaves. They have a crooked contracts and thinking only a goodness of Lost is as slaves."
"So probably not a good viables markets, also are large bugs that do an attacks nearby. So probablies will want to do a second visits and go to White Hand Markets. But must go delivers a message to clear my queues, at Keyforks."
Poppy gives Czcibor a thoughtful look before smiling at Sigrun, then grins at the exchange between the Valkyrie and the King before settling back in her seat. She does glance briefly around at the mention of the Market, gaze settling on Etsy as the mermaid speaks, the Autumn's expression turning thoughtful.
"Bunch of slaving bastards, your majesty," Reggie speaks up for his own part. "They were prize fighting two lost when we got there. So. On the plus side, we know there's another market there. On the bad side, it's full of complete and utter assholes."
Esther's face is a look of complete concentration as she listens to Etsy, translating "Etsy speak" in her head. She seems relieved when Reggie sums it all up.
Dielle comes into Court, very late, looking sheepish. She looks around, chin-tips at those she knows, and slides into a seat at Vorpal's table, because.
A few of the Councilors, less subtle than the rest, are visibly a few seconds behind in their interpretation of what on earth the mermaid is saying. King Charlie simply listens, nods, and lifts a frosty brow at Reggie's crude summation. "This second market, the White Hand. Have you heard anything about it?"
Oh, well, if Dielle's definitely going to sit down-- and since he already called attention to himself by talking-- Czcibor trails after the Captain to Vorpal's table, too.
"We have nots yet," answers Etsy, apparently entirely unruffled as Reggie sums up. "We did a going to Wayforks firstly because Feck had a contacts there, and being a Sacred Courier," oh, so that doesn't get weirdly pluralized, "I could gets a message and take us right there like a compass training on its. If we can find someone to give me another messages I can take us right to White Hands. Or we can find another ways but that is my way of going with such a directnesses."
Etsy also wiggles her webbed fingers at Dielle. So subtle, merms.
Kiril is passing a flask back and forth with Zhenya, and eating bits of the cupcake. There's a veritable cloud of hearts around this pair, comic relief in contrast to their solemnity.
King Charlie nods to Etsy, commenting, "Sensible," regarding using her Entitlement's token to assist. "Report in once you have more information, please, and be sure to take members of the Harvestmen with you."
He scans the room again, and asks Vorpal, "The prisoner you took. What did you learn? Objectively and concisely, please, as I'm told there was a great deal of froth and foment at the meeting held last night during the Council session."
Dielle offers a small wave to Etsy. She seems like she's holding herself very still today. Then she pays attention to Vorpal. She wants to hear this.
Vorpal nods when verbally tapped to speak, and does so from his seat, because apparently it's not required to stand and it's comfy down here! "In short- we learned that they came from a distant village of devotees to this Eternal Sands creature. The residents of the village are born and bred there into It's service, and as a rule don't bother leaving. They're a cult, and the residents have no concept of life outside their village nor desire to leave. We only found them outside the village in pursuit of invaders that took one of their own."
"Through the gifts of a Harbinger, we ascertained there was absolutely no chance she would turn, and as Uschi had not yet had the dream that gave us insight into the reclusive nature of their cult, and we caught the prisoner torturing a mortal for glamour, we deemed she couldn't be safely released. She was given a swift death."
"There's voices both for raiding the village and freeing the prisoners of the Eternal Sands- which to be blunt is a toss-up, if they're all as devoted as the woman we found- and to leave them be."
Etsy bobs her head in agreement, the water lilies in her salt-crusted hair floofing up a bit when she's addressed by the Winter King. She's said her bit and stays quiet, her eyes slowly changing color to sea-foam. Doot doot doot.
Sigrun rolls her shoulders slowly as Vorpal speaks, her smile remaining in place, if a bit diminished given the topic at hand. She watches him speak, head turning to judge the crown's reaction to the telling of the tale. In the end her head bobs once, apparently concurring with the details enough not to wish to amend them.
Esther's shoulders slump as she hears about the fate of the prisoner. Her expression wars between sadness for the death of a Lost and the disgust at the actions of said Lost. In the end, she sighs.
"People who want to raid the village and free the prisoners had better be willing to shed a lot of innocent blood and adopt a metric shit-tonne of cultists needing therapy and looking after and de-programming, which to be honest, isn't something more than a few of us are any good at," states Czcibor, leaned back in his chair, kudzu climbing up the table legs near him and vanishing into nothing. "How far is it, anyway? Because odds are good the government of the place might also not look kindly on a bunch of fucked-up fighters invading their sovereign territory and essentially kidnapping a chunk of their populace, which is what it'd amount to if they don't want to leave."
Perhaps she's heard some of this news before, as Poppy doesn't look particularly surprised; it's actually hard to say what the siren is thinking right now, her expression difficult to read.
Dielle looks at Vorpal as he speaks, and doesn't seem to disapprove until she hears that people want to raid. Then she makes a face of annoyed disgust. But she still stays silent.
Zhenya inhales a breath. Whatever she seems to think of the news, it's well considered and hidden. Her tea is swallowed down, a bit more generously than she might otherwise prefer. An apologetic look shot to Kiril vanishes under the serene glow of her expression. She wasn't heard to speak the night prior in the situation, and not likely now.
None of the Councilors seem too surprised by Vorpal's descriptions, so it's a safe bet that they've heard at least the broad strokes of the matter beforehand.
King Charlie listens, expression grave, and listens as the Courts discuss the matter amongst themselves.
Once the chatter seems to have died down, he draws a slow breath, then exhales it, lips twitching in the hint of a frown which never quite finishes before he speaks. "Cruel as it may sound, if they're satisfied with their lot and not a threat to us, I'm not willing to commit the Freehold's resources to a project on that scale. We have too many other pans in the fire at the moment, and not enough hands to manage them. Summer-" he flicks a glance toward Meredith, not entirely pleased, "-may have other plans."
Scanning the room, he adds, "I'll ask the Watchers and anyone with foreseeing abilities to get us as much information as possible, in the meanwhile."
Silent a moment, letting that sink in, he adds a last, "Are there any announcements from the membership? Other topics you feel we should discuss?"
"Respectfully, your Majesty, there's been some omen work done on the matter. There's some additional information that ought to be taken into account." Sigrun looks aside at Czcibor, nodding her head at his caution. "So if you're looking for foretelling to guide a decision, I can provide you such information presently should you wish it. From a Harbinger of the Summer Court. I can have them prepare a more formal dossier for you, if that is your preference."
King Charlie nods to Sigrun. "Please collate any existing data that your acquaintance has acquired."
Dielle speaks quietly at her table and looks disgusted and angry at the answers she's getting, but when the King announces that no, they're not going to go do anything about it, she looks relieved and pleased.
Surprise! It's more silence from the shadowy Duchess in back. Olenka barely contributes an expression let alone any words, her features remaining a stubbornly blank composition. Is she mad? Is she sad? Hard to say. The lone betrayal comes from her fingers, as she absently twists a thorny ring back and forth as she seems to ponder, or frankly, stew over something.
"As you wish," Sigrun answers. "That being said, I do have some additional items to bring before the court. The meeting you mentioned? It ended, as most contentious meetings do, with a scheduled time and date for a follow on meeting to begin the actual discussion of some of the issues the prior meeting brought to light. So if any here present wish to weigh in on how we might wish to handle future loyalists that come under the mercy of the crown, it's to be held on Monday at seven in the evening at Cat-22. They've recently posted Hospitality on their premises, so plan accordingly." There's a brief pause. "In addition, Majesty, Summer will be meeting this Sunday. So if you or the council, or anyone else for that matter, has any concerns or requests for the Court, I would be happy to convey them for you."
Dielle stands up and looks at Sigrun, curiously. "Uh...those fucking assholes who like to firebomb cop stations aren't even PART of this freehold. They won't join. So why the fuck do they think they get a goddamned say?" She starts off reasonable. But that last question gets a bit loud as she starts to lose her temper. She takes a breath, gets ahold of her temper, and looks over at Charlie O. "Sorry, Your Iceness. But seriously, why do they think their opinion should matter so much when they won't contribute to the general well-being because we're all stupid for joining a freehold?"
Vorpal speaks up. "Because they feel they've been given de-facto voices on account of providing assistance on operations the Freehold organized. Their words. Because they were technically a part of how it all went down, they feel like they're entitled to have a say in how it proceeds."
"Nobody is making anybodies do a helps. If you do a helps without doing a pledge, you cannot expects to have a says. Easy peasies, do a pledge!" That can only be Etsy.
Out of turn again, but this time with a mildly confused and very polite tone in his metallic echoing voice, Czcibor says, "We do already have laws about how the Freehold creates or clarifies or changes policy..."
Then, "Your Majesty," he now clearly addresses Charlie, turning to him from Sigrun, "can't freehold members talk to their councilors, or bring it up here at court, if they're having trouble with something that happened or want something to be changed or considered for clarification...? And if they're not Freehold--"
And there's where Vorpal answers, and Etsy agrees, and though the Manikin's face doesn't change, there's a crooked smile in his voice. "They did make pledges for the durations of the missions, as I understand it. It's as Etsy says -- if they want a voice for longer than the duration of the mission, they can make the same pledge the rest of us do. That said, it'd probably be a good idea for people with long fuses and a lot of patience to attend this upcoming meeting along with Sigrun here. No one needs broken hospitality. From the sound of things, I would probably lose my temper in under five minutes."
Sigrun doesn't react to the dissent offered by Dielle or Etsy for that matter. She looks to Vorpal and ticks one eyebrow a bit under her helmet. "I assured them I would bring their concerns before the Crown, and I have done so. The crown and council are under no obligation to act on them, of course. It was my hope that engaging them in civil dialogue and demonstrating I could be a fair dealer, I might entice more of them to swear as I have done. The worst case scenario for me is that I waste an evening in unproductive conversation. If some good ideas come out of the meeting, they can be brought before the court to petition for change through the accepted process. And even this demonstration of the successful workings of the Freehold ought to be proof enough that they have the wrong idea about how the Freehold operates. Nothing to lose, really. It would be to everyone's benefit if dissent amongst our people were peacefully assimilated rather than begrudgingly tolerated." She adjusts the torc at her throat briefly with a nod towards the crown, her smile especially bright.
King Charlie accepts Dielle's apology with a nod, and remains silent as the room erupts in differing opinions.
Regarding the unaffiliated, he clarifies, "They were invited to assist because these are matters which could affect us all, but it is true that our decisions as a group are ours, and ours alone. They cannot, and will not, dictate this Freehold's policy. You were all informed of how our laws are made and can be revised before you ever pledged to Fate's Harvest." Regarding the pledges, too, he adds, "The pledges, for those of you not involved, were of mutual alliance and nonaggression for the duration of the mission. Nothing further."
This, to Sigrun, with a small gesture of assent. "The Council and I will consider any proposals your group suggests, but I will reiterate: unless they pledge to this Freehold, and swear to support us as we swear to support them, we can't extend to them the benefits of membership." His tone is firm, there, and he looks about the room, slowly, meeting any eyes he can, before returning his focus to Sigrun. "Making allies of them is far preferable to the alternatives. Please do what you can to encourage any who are willing to join our banner."
When Czcibor sits up and speaks again, he spreads a hand. "All of them are welcome at the Wayhouse any time they feel like Hospitality. The laws are out there in the world. Share what you will."
Dielle clasps her hands together near her heart and gives Charlie O a look of respect and delight. She can't help herself, and she murmurs, "Membership has its privileges." Thank you, American Express.
Kelsey, who has throughout been quiet in the background, except for marking out Cordy with a nod back when she swore ... starts to nod to the Winter King, this time. Until Dielle speaks up. Whereupon the nod becomes a facepalm. This is probably a compliment.
Sigrun presses a fist over her chest and offers the crown a slight bow, eyes remaining on Charlie. "Of course, your Majesty. I will of convey your intents to them on Monday evening." She straightens back up and resumes her more-or-less parade rest stance, her smile never relenting.
So while the pair of Russian Winters have been listening, mute as hanging judges, the dog's decided that he'll risk whatever penalty the frosting exacts....and crept over to delicately extract a cupcake from the plate, and then bolted it down as he hustles back to his sanctuary under the scarlet table. Trailing little bubble hearts behind him. Kiril's jerked out of his reverie and mutters, "Jesus, Beren." The Malamute shows no contrition at all, licking pink frosting from his whiskers.
Etsy swings one of her feet and hums a little trill after Dielle says that. Doot doo doot doo! Did... did the siren just sing the American Express 'membership has its privileges' sting from the 80s? Yes, yes she did.
"I have that one, you know," Reggie remarks, stirring from his silence. "The black one." He glances back over his shoulder to assure everyone, "I'm very rich." And probably a little drunk.
Poppy has been sitting with her arms crossed, leaning on her elbows on the table, watching the conversation with interest; Beren's run for the cupcakes, however, catches her attention and she hides a grin behind a hand, eyes twinkling. Nope, nothing to see here.
"Thank you," Czcibor tells King Charlie honestly. "Wanted it clear for everyone." Then he sits back down with a dull klunk.
Etsy goes from happily humming advertizing stings to burying her face in her hands, and then reaching over to very gently but very firmly remove the flask from Reggie's hands. Far too late, to be sure.
"Fucking Christ, my head." Looking distinctly hungover is Jenny, rubbing her eyes and swatting ineffectively at the bright lights as she staggers in, grimace transforming quickly into a wide grin as she spots some familiar faces. Heading over to the violet table for now, at which she does not so much take a seat as just kind of sprawl over a relatively clear section of table. "S'court started yet, love?" The latter seems kind of directed at Johnny, probably.
"Oh, sure. SHE gets to be irresponsibly drunk," Reggie mutters as his flask is claimed by the sensible and entirely correct Etsy. He folds his stubby arms like a petulent child and pouts as only an otter beast can.
Tracy MacGregor rumbles a laugh from the far right end of the Council's arc when Jenny staggers in. Moons get Moons.
"She is not the persons wanting me to have a last name same," answers Etsy ever-so-primly. The flask is closed up and disappears into one of the pockets of the mermaid's voluminous dress.
"Shit. I could spell face-toast any day of the week. Flan oughtta be mine." Jen grumbles, running a hand through her vines as she sits up, shooting Dielle a jealous look as she nods appreciatively to Reggie at the recognition, then looks around at the lull in conversation, gesturing magnaminously, even indulgently to the Crown. "Proceed."
King Charlie lifts a brow at Jenny, slants a sidelong look toward Tracy, and nobly forges on. "Unless we have any further matters to discuss, I'd like to call this Court to a close."
Czcibor lifts his hand one goddamn last time. He doesn't get up though. He just says, "Can we have intoxicating flan instead of heartbubble cupcakes at the next Court?"
Jenny quickly finger-guns Czcibor with a grin, "You fucking got it, man."
Etsy gasps and puts her hands to her mouth. "I can eats a flan! Is a carnivores dessert! Eggs and cheeses and milks and also some sugars but that is okays, sugars is just a sugars." Apparently that is one of the most exciting things to come out of this Court. "I am like a suggestion of Czcibors."
While Etsy is distracted, Reggie turns a bit in his chair and pulls his backup emergency flask from his boot and unscrews it under his armpit.
Czcibor fistpumps. All the flan.
Before court is even formally closed, Sigrun is already stepping quite directly towards Dielle. That this brings her closer to Vorpal and Czcibor is a pleasant happenstance. Her smile remains warm, and particularly so for Vorpal's sake. "Vorpal," a nod for the godling, "Captain," a nod for Czcibor. And for Dielle? She once more removes her helmet and puts it under her arm, then offers her hand out to Dielle directly. "Captain Henner? Sigrun Ljosdottir of the Iron Spear, a member of the Charmed Circle. I would like to enlist in the Harvestmen. Vorpal informed me you needed more heavy hitters. I hit hard. I am available for immediate assignment, as well, if you have any irons in the fire."
Dielle blinks at Sigrun as she walks up, and then says, "Well, I'd ask if you're part of the freehold, but clearly, you are. Ok, you're in." She pauses, then says, "Yes, it's that easy, too. Congratulations, you're a recruit." She grins at Sigrun, then adds, "The Captain, here, is my Second and Vorpal is a Lieutenant. Whether I'm around or not, you can report to them if you see anything. Ummm...well, we're accompanying people who're looking for Goblin markets. And other freeholds that ain't the Soundless. And you're already involved in the stuff with Cat-22, from observation, so not only keep that up but if you want to come tell me about it after, I'd appreciate it."
Etsy's hand snaps out and grabs the flask from Reggie, even though he tried to hide it in his armpit. The little mermaid's sea-change eyes turn a darker color, and there's a breach in her ever-so-sweet expression as her blue lips peel back from her piranha teeth and she hisses at Reggie like some sort of angry amphibious eel. And then her face returns to its perfect delicate calmness..
Jenny sits up at the violet table, or on it rather, the maenad peering inscrutably at Sigrun. Rising to her feet and peering quite closely at the elfin knight. "Hmmm." She nods, twirling and flopping down into Johnny's lap. "I like her. She looks super gay." Because clearly Dielle wanted the drunken's dryad's insights into military recruitment. "Wait, what're we looking for? Johnny, you going out looking for things without me?"
Zhenya's had her share. Kiril's disposed to loiter, and steal more cupcakes. One for himself, one for the spitz, both of them trailing hearts behind like engines with their banners of steam. Well, it is a bromance for the ages. "No, we can't take them all," Kiril says to Beren, despite pleading eyes deployed to strategic effect. Why you starve your doggo, cruel human? HE relents to the extent of allowing, gruffly, "I'll ask for the recipe."
Olenka finally stirs, if only to move to the table and select, with great care, two cupcakes. She doesn't eat either. Doesn't even try the frosting. After a polite curtsey to the Winter King, she turns and retreats to her out of the way spot to gradually fade out as unobtrusively as she arrived.
Defeated, Reggie is without any further alcohol. Fortuantely, court is over, so no further alcohol is required. And he has an automated dragonfly plane to get them safely home. So there's that. "Ugh. Can we at least go home, then?" He rises to his squat legs and turns to Etsy, waiting for her to follow suit.
"I'm happy to help," Sigrun assures Dielle with a bob of the head. Jenny's assessment has her considering Jenny. No annoyance evident, and her smile remains. If a bit more distant for the consideration she's having to give the other woman. "Super bi, in point of fact, but I'll take it." Her focus returns to Dielle, though, since there's still business to be discussed. "Vorpal mentioned he was an officer. So you have him to thank for the recruitment. Obviously, stealth isn't my strong suit. But if you believe I can assist in certain escort missions, I am happy to go along with them. It sounds like some discussion would be helpful for both of us, though, on any number of topics."
When Reggie pouts up to his feet, Etsy folds up her fins into something resembling feet -- that must be so painful to walk on -- and slips them into her tatty pink slippers. She drifts up to her feet, a pretty piece of detritus on the wave of socialization. She drifts over in front of Reggie and frames his face with her tiny webbed hands, pushing up to her very tip-toes to kiss him on his little black otter nose and then -- scandal, Mister Danger! -- on his mouth. In public. "I will make you less grumpiness when we are homes. Don't do a fussing. Is time for swimming in the tank, which you buyed for me because I am a spoiled mermaids with a super richness of Reggies." A richness of Reggies is the plural noun for him, apparently. "No fuss."
Sigrun accepts the paper and examines the phone number before stuffing it down her breastplate. If there's a safer place on her person, feel free to suggest it! "Tomorrow I have a patrol to run. Sunday in the evening Summer is meeting at the Iron Church, but perhaps we can meet for brunch." A thought occurs to her. "We could have brunch over at the Wayhouse? I am staying there for now until I can settle on property and get myself more established." Sigrun then gives the crown a quick double take and notes, "Forgive me, Captain, but I'm going to try to catch him in the annex before he makes good his retreat. We'll speak later."
Jenny shrugs with both arms, "I only said look, yeah?" The maenad hrmphs as Johnny has to excuse himself for a minute or something, peering over to Dielle and then at Czcibor, leaning in to whisper rather loudly, "Wait, did they switch to flirting or is this still the other thing?" Probably disappointed and just finding a lot of wind instead.
"I'd love to sit in on that, if you'll have me," says Czcibor cheerfully, as impassively inexpressive as his metal face may be. But he starts getting to his feet either way, and tilts his head a little at the toppled-on-purpose Jenny. "I'll have to go out digging for Chu Chu Culm for you. For now, I have to go find Logan, since he left so abruptly and I'd like to tag him for that freehold business on the 100. Captain, text me too? I'm out, see you later."
Then he literally dissipates, disdaining the idea of trudging out and through the hedge with a limp because fuck that noise, and turning into a breeze that takes all its kudzu with it.
Dielle blinks at Jenny. Then she shakes her head. "No flirting. Brunch might work, Sigrun." She stands up, then, and says, "Ok, I'm heading back to the Aspire. Let me know when you want to talk, Vorpal." She waves at everyone, tips her hat to Etsy, and slips out.