Autumn has come, and with it, August's return to power. The Black Apple has simple tastes, and the decorations reflect that: harvests of the earth's bounty, in fruits and grains, and harvests of the Hedge as well, in goblin victuals and lesser-known beverages with effects both savoury and strange.
The Council is seated at their table, as always, electees, former and current monarchs alike, and a few hobs appear to be discussing something with the King in low voices. They're a spindly sort of folk, vaguely spidery-seeming, though almost translucent, with an almost opalescent quality. Milk opal, more than fire.
Nathania enters, and moves to sit after grabbing something to drink. She sips before carefully placing the drink down, pulling out her knitting, and getting to work on some orange and black socks. Because Halloween is coming up, and the dolly has someone to gift socks to.
Slouched in one of the seats is Damion. The dragon has a vaguely broody expression on his face, not typical for him. But he's here. Watching the discussion between the bigwigs while waiting for things to start. The air around him particularly heated, the monstrous breathing that accompanies him louder than usual. It seems the Summer isn't in the best of moods.
The familiar click of heels against stone precedes the appearance of the Autumnal siren; Poppy is currently dressed in a draped, black top that hugs forearms and hips over a pair of skinny, dark blue jeans and knee-high black stiletto boots. Her hair is loose down her back, and a silver pendant shaped like an inverted triangle glitters against the front of her shirt. She grins sharply as she spies the familiar faces, lifting a hand in wave before pulling a flask reading 'I Drink and I Know Things' from the black leather purse resting against her hip.
Carter has elected to remain unstead, for the moment. The Devil is standing near one of the food tables, a plate in one hand, the other delicately selecting the choicest options. He stands straight, now, without any of his former unsteadiness, but he still has his cane, hooked over one elbow and unused.
He, in contrast to Damion, seems in a fine mood, albeit in his usual distracted, disinterested way. He occasionally whistles a snatch of some jaunty little show tune under his breath, and when Poppy enters, he glances up, smiles, and waves at her before seizing another apple from the table.
The hobs' discussion with the King appears to conclude, sober nods all around preceding a bit more time for members of the Freehold to arrive. Time for drinks to be retrieved, time for conversations to settle.
At last, August rises, tall, slender and dressed in an understated suit of ash grey wool. He is different to every observer, sometimes vastly so, but always designed to appeal, and always clad in the same attire, dark glimmerings of cold and bloody moonlighta sinister gleam on the slow, inexorable rise of strangling vines attempting to contest the Mantles on either side of him, frosted by Charlie O, and withered by Meredith Ryan's Summer heat.
"Welcome, all, to the first court of Autumn. Are there any who would renew their pledge, or pledge anew, among us? If so, please step forward."
Nathania sets her knitting aside, takes a drink, and stands, stepping forward.
Carter tosses his apple into the air, catching it without looking as it comes down, and glances up at the new Monarch's call. There's another glance at the buffet table, and a moment's hesitation, but then he laughs quietly, shrugs, and turns to step forward as well. Apparently oathing to the freehold is indeed more important than satisfying his immediate hunger, even if only slightly so.
Poppy sips from her flask before making her way down to one of the tables, sliding lazily into a chair and crossing her legs. Taking another sip from her flask, she grins cheerfully again at those lining up. Perhaps she's already caught her fellow Autumn to pledge, given that she offers him a rather wicked smile and finger wiggle.
The King accepts the line of pledges-to-be, reaffirming the familiar bond of liege to vassal, vassal to liege among those gathered, with simple, grave respect. Whatever conversation he must have been having with those hobs, it sure hasn't improved his mood.
After everyone has pledged, he nods, and tells them, "Then let us begin with what threatens. The Lover, while she has moved somewhat south, is still keeping us within her protection. Our scouts report that she has made no further moves toward overtly influencing our membership, and no signs of having acquired further Titles. In my own experiences with her as Legate, to the best of my ability to judge one of the Fae, she seems..." His lips turn down in vague distaste. "...more harmless than most."
August shakes his head, unhappy, but moves on. "The matters with the rebel Suns have slowed, and the movement may well have met its match in our freeholds. There simply are not many native Sun courtiers in the Americas for them to work with, and our penchant for forming democratic committees, not to mention fussing over who should lead whom, appears to have stalled the wave. Our vampiric neighbours are...amused, and relieved."
"Lastly, and most immediately concerning, members of my own Order have been disappearing."
Poppy gives a rather musical snort at the remark about the Lover, then smirks for the remark about Suns, although she holds her peace. Sipping from her flask again, she frowns, sitting up a bit more at that mention of the Black Apples disappearing. "Is that shit local, or in general?" she asks for that.
In answer to Poppy, the King, frowning, replies that, "While I am not privy to decisions farther afield, it does seem to extend beyond this region. A scholar has only recently connected several disappearances, one of which was not far from our valley." He glances toward those members present of the Watchers and Custodians, and Harvestmen. "I would warn our people to be wary. My Order is seldom molested without greater aims in motion."
Carter gives a small nod when he is glanced to, but says nothing immediately. He seems content to take another bite of his apple and watch quietly, simply observing, until the King mentions a probability of greater aims.
"Agreed," he says. "Which means, I assume, that you will be exacting in your precautions for your own good person, Your Majesty. I shan't ask the details, but should you require the services of the Watchers to guard your sleep, I'm sure that you know where to find me."
The siren's expression turns pensive at that explanation, then she nods. "Any additional information that we should know?" Poppy asks. "Do you want us looking into this shit? I'm happy to see whatever the hell I can find, although I'll be honest that I'm not up for directly fucking around with one of Them." She sips from her flask again, then nods agreement with Carter's words.
The Autumn King, sober, inclines his head toward Carter with wry irony -- most people wouldn't WANT someone so close to being Fae mucking about inside their heads. "We will speak later, and thank you."
Toward Poppy, he nods, confirming, "As our freehold is..." Here, he slants a look toward Carter again, then toward others in the ZOMG WYRD crew in the room, "...blessed with those of greater power than others, it was recommended to me that I ask those here to use their gifts, and to be watchful. The Fae often prey upon those nearest themselves in strength, and there is concern that eliminating the Legates is only a precursor to a larger rival purge."
"Assuming that it is, in fact, the Gentry behind it," Carter remarks mildly. "They would seem the most obvious option, but I should hope that we are all experienced enough by now to never assume, when it comes to matters like this."
Poppy smirks at August's remark about power, opalescent eyes glinting with amusement even as she sips from her flask. "I'm going to guess you mean more of a proactive fucking watchful and not the kind where we watch as some nightmare from the goddamn abyss shows up to eat all our fucking faces." She glances towards Carter, nodding agreement again.
August, wry, nods again to Carter. "Yes. There are certainly those who would prefer more chaos. Privateers, for one, though I rather doubt that the hobgoblins have formed any cohesive band wide-spread enough to cause similar chaos." Toward Poppy, he agrees, adding, "Use your contacts, please, and any other resources you've time to spare. While I am biased, on behalf of my Order, I do recognize that we only have so many hands, and so many hours in the day to use them."
After a pause, he glances about the room before asking, "Are there any grievances, worries or other concerns anyone would like to bring before the court?"
Carter merely shakes his head in response to the question, quietly taking another bite from his apple. His eyes have already begun to drift away again, back towards the buffet; apparently what little attention he felt required to give to the meeting is nearly exhausted.
The siren nods at the Autumn King's request, saluting him with her flask before taking another sip. The question about concerns and grievances is met with a shake of Poppy's head, although she gives those others gathered a curious look, perhaps wondering if anybody else has been nursing something quietly.
When no one else in the room appears to have anything to bring up, the King nods, declaring, "Then let us close this court, and look forward to the fruits of the season. Thank you, one and all, for coming."