Log:Meeting the Watcher-Elect
|Meeting the Watcher-Elect|
'"To Her Royal Majesty. May you desecrate the throne beautifully."'
8 January, 2019
The Moon Queen meets with her newest Councilor to discuss some matters of import to the freehold, and gets her book signed.
Glimmerdark - Back Room
While the shopfront of Glimmerdark still shows signs of minor fire damage, and a sign that says CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS, the door in the alley is propped slightly open. It is, after all, where Zillah had told people would be the best place to find her. The heat is cranked up to keep things nice and toasty, and the scent of cloves and weed lingers in the alleyway. It shouldn't be a surprise, given the woman in question.
At current time, the seasonal Queen is lounged on the pile of pillows on the foor, dressed in a t-shirt a few sizes too large for her, black with 'GRIMES' written in dripping bloody letters. She must be some sort of modest today, because there's even black leggings involved. In her hand, the book cover is that belonging to a harlequin romance bodice-ripper.
Carter Logan's arrival is preceded, by several long moments, by that of his voice. He isn't singing particularly loudly, but it's /his/ voice. It carries, and even when only the barest notes of it are audible, it settles on the back of the brain and gently tugs attention around to itself. Today's song of choice appears to be a sea shanty of some sort, sung in a voice so low that it could crack bricks:
"So help me, Bob, I'm bully in the alley,
And then the door opens, and the Devil himself makes an appearance. He's wearing the emerald-green suit again, which glitters dimly in the light as he limps his way in, leaning heavily on that thin black cane. He stops singing as he enters, and inclines his head towards Zillah. "Your Majesty," he says smoothly - and then his eyes fall upon the book in her hands, and a slow, evil grin spreads across his normally detached and blank features. "Ah," he says. "I see you're a woman of particular tastes. 'The Pale Moonlight'? It's been decades since I last saw a copy of it on store shelves. What do you think of it?"
It's the sort of voice that needs to be listened to, and so Zillah does. Her ear turns towards the sound, and there's a bit of tapping her bare foot into the air in time with the song. By the time Carter is darkening her door, there's a twist of a grin on those black lips, and amusement in eyes that would otherwise be a void. "I have more than my share of vices," she admits with a grin. "Found this one back in New York, last time I went through. It's better than the last one that I picked up at Homepage. Not the one that Kip wrote himself, mind. Just some other random one. It's good to give the ol' imagination a workout." Brows waggle beneath the fringe of her bangs, and she makes a welcoming gesture with her hand. "Wish I had some more seating to offer, but you're welcome to a pile of pillows as you please."
"As do I," Carter says, when the Queen mentions vices. "I consider it one of my finer points." That slightly evil little grin of his is still fixed on his features. It's probably the most permanent an expression that Zillah has seen on that normally blank face of his. "And I'll happily take pillows over standing, thank you." He limps his way over towards one of the larger piles of cushions, then lowers himself onto it, groaning as the weight leaves his hooves.
Once more, his gaze flickers to the book in her hands - and this time he laughs, a wonderfully musical sound. "Well, I'm glad that you found some enjoyment in it, then," he says. "I always thought it was rather lackluster, myself, but then, I wrote it more as an exercise than anything. Just to see if I could, you know. And there's always a market for lightly-disguised filth, no matter the year." He folds both hands over the top of his cane, leaning forward over it, and peers at the cover. "I should be happy to sign it for you, if you like."
"I find it marks in the favor of anyone that not only has vices, but indulges in them gleefully," Zillah chimes out, a flash of fang in that dark-lipped grin. She watches Carter, her head following his motions as much as her eyes do. The pillows are rather plush, one of those places in her space that expense was not spared. Vices, likely, include being comfy af when possible.
There's a flash of blue in her otherwise black eyes, like a glimmer of moonlight playing in the darkest depths of the ocean. And oh, the look that spreads across her face before there's a riotous bit of laughter. "This was you?," she says, gesturing with the book. "Oooh, I knew I liked you." Enough so, apparently, that she sits up. Fingers digging into the pillow, before she produces a bright red Sharpie. "I'd absolutely love it."
"Then you and I shall get along famously," Carter says, inclining his head towards the Moon Queen. "My entire life has been an exercise in seeking out new and interesting depravities to indulge in. I find life rather loses its flavor without them." He pauses, then, and his grin fades the slightest bit as he shrugs and continues, "Then again, when one reaches my age, and has spent so long indulging in every vice one could name, it starts to lose its flavor anyway. Hence, you understand, my attempt towards trying something new with assuming the post of Watcher-Elect: altruism." A slight laugh. "Never before in my life have I actually taken it upon myself to actively care for the dreams of others. If nothing else, it promises to be an experience."
The grin resumes its former width when she offers him the Sharpie, and he reaches out to take up both the book and the marker in slender, elegant fingers. A moment later, he's signing, in what is obviously quite a practiced script:
"To Her Royal Majesty. May you desecrate the throne beautifully.
And he hands the book back, dark eyes glittering in the low light. "It was indeed me," he says. "The life of a Bodhisattva is, after all, defined by a consistent effort to find new ways to express one's many desires. Towards trying new things - writing smut under a pen name is just one of many such excursions I undertook, in my younger days. It was almost comically easy, really, because much of it is autobiographical. Just with the names and dates changed, you understand." And he settles back onto the cushions, smiling a crooked little smile. "I'm flattered that you enjoy it so much. But, unfortunately, as much as I'd love to sit here and discuss my many and varied adventures, I do actually have some Watcher-related business to bring to your attention. Besides-" another flash of teeth "-if you ever get curious, you can just read the other books."
"Oh, I do hope so Carter. As much as I love people that despise me having to work with me, and rustling a few feathers, sometimes it's nice to have someone around that's on the same - or at least complimentary - wavelength." Zillah props herself half-up with her arms, head slightly cocked. "The benefits of relative youth, I guess, are that there are plenty of new vices for me to find. And old ones, well, I don't remember." She laughs, clearly at her own misfortune, before she's reaching for that book back. "I'm hoping that Rorschach will rejoin the Watchers, one day. A sense of purpose would be good for him." Those words are quieter, before she looks back up to the Devil with a grin. "Helping others is certainly not the usual that people would think of, when it comes to vice. But that's what makes it interesting. One of my dearest friends is one of the Bodhisattva. The redbird. She's helped me shed my skin more than once."
The book is set aside, red marker holding her spot, and there's another bit of laughter. "I'll have to search out the other books, then. But yes, down to business as it were. What can I help with, Mister Logan?"
Carter inclines his head towards Zillah, still smiling. "Indeed," he says. "It's a rare treat to find someone who not only understands, but enjoys my particular lifestyle themselves. I look forward to seeing the freehold under your rule - and we do, in fact, share a common friend in Miss Cardinal, if that's who you're speaking of. She is a true and proper Bodhisattva - and, let me tell you, as one of the founders of this particular order, that's a rare thing indeed."
He lifts one hand as he says it, tapping one long, slightly pointed black fingernail against the strange golden cufflink that he wears. "I've not heard of this Rorschach," he admits, "but the Watchers are presently rather scarcely populated, so I'm hardly going to turn down any potential members. Particularly those with experience. Speaking of that, I recently inducted one Miss Cerise Hodgson into the ranks." He leans back into the cushions, hooking his cane over the side of the coffee table. "She's a proper seer, which is a rare and useful thing, as I'm sure I don't have to tell you. She has no experience with oneiromancy, but fortunately-" a slight chuckle "-I have more than enough expertise for the both of us, and I plan to begin training her up properly some time soon. That, however, isn't what I came here to speak to you about."
He folds his hands over his stomach, regarding Zillah with his head canted slightly to one side. "There are two issues that I need to raise with you," he says, his tone becoming the slightest bit more serious, even as the pleasant smile stays fixed on his features. "One regards a particular Hedge-fruit which may be of use to the freehold. The other, the encroaching Gentry that I informed you about at court. Which would you rather deal with first?"
"It is, indeed, Cardinal that I mean. We're beyond fond of her." The Royal We? The Moon Court? She doesn't specify. But there is a warmth to her inflection, there. "And I do like what your order stands for, from what I know of it."
"Rorschach was, for a time, the Watcher-Elect himself. Trained up a few recruits. But, unfortunately, some of his own...problems got in the way. He disappeared completely off the radar for months. But he's back, now. A little out of sorts, but I'm hoping that will change." Zillah glances down, and rubs her thumb over one of her rings. A mood ring, worn on her left ring finger. "He was my fiancee, before he left." She clears her throat, and her mind, carrying on. "I don't know Cerise well, but of course trust your judgement."
She leans back again, this time slightly propped up against the wall. "Let's start with the Gentry."
"He must be someone quite remarkable, then," Carter says pleasantly. "To hold your attention to that degree. I look forward to meeting him, in whatever capacity." He steeples his fingers for a moment and rolls his head about on his shoulders, producing a small, audible pop from one of his neck joints. "I generally get along quite well with Moon courtiers. I'm sure I don't have to explain to you why."
Then he shifts, leaning over to one side and propping his head up on one hand as he looks back to Zillah's face. "As for this Gentry," he says, "as I've said previously, I personally find it more vaguely irritating than threatening. But its presence is damaging the mental stability of several of our local freeholders, not the least of whom is young Miss Widget." A brief pause, and his gaze goes up towards the ceiling for a moment, a thoughtful expression on his face. "She has issues when it comes to expressions of affection," he continues. "Stemming from an extremely damaging childhood. This particular Gentry's attentions are extremely unpleasant for her, and I'm sure that they're not much better for many others. So. With your approval, I have something of a plan that I'd like to enact."
He reaches into an inner pocket of his suit jacket and withdraws a small black velvet ring box, which he tosses lightly across the room towards Zillah. "A dream-vessel," he says simply, "crafted over the course of several days. It contains a powerful dream of intense romantic activity with myself, including but not limited to a night of wine, roses, and song. This particular Other wants to be loved. I intend to see if it can be sated, or at least if I can draw its attention to myself rather than others."
There is an air of thoughtfulness that settles upon Zillah, at least for a moment. But as Carter explains more about the Keeper and the reasons behind Widget's reaction to it, that becomes a frown, hints of anger. "If there's one thing I completely hate, it's seeing someone put through something like that," Zillah murmurs. "To have past traumas like that revisited is...no. We'll do what we can to help Widget, there."
The snake's reflexes are quick, and she snatches the box out of the air as it's tossed towards her. Running dark fingertips over the velvet of the box, but not opening it. "If you think this will work, Carter, and are willing to be the focus of it, then I say go for it. I trust your judgement call. But what happens -after- their attention is drawn?"
Carter nods, once, at Zillah's look of anger. "My thoughts precisely," he says. "As I said previously, I'm new to this whole altruism thing, but Miss Widget is my..." He pauses again, and his eyes flicker up towards the ceiling once more as he searches for the proper phrasing. "...at this point she is functionally my adopted niece," he states, after a few seconds, "and the current focus of my efforts as a Bodhisattva." His eyes lower to Zillah's face again, and he gives a fleeting, glassy little smile. "She is the first person I've ever taken the time to teach /restraint/, so that's new as well. So, in addition to protecting her for the sake of it, I don't take kindly to my efforts being interfered with."
Then he shrugs and glances down to the box in Zillah's hands. "Ideally, this will end with our interloper at least temporarily sated," he says. "It wants to be loved. Perhaps if it gets what it wants, or at least thinks that it has, it will simply leave. But that is, perhaps, hoping for too much. So, instead, if it /does/ fixate upon me, there are a few options." He lifts a hand and begins counting off on his fingers. "For one, this buys us time to research other ways to drive it off. I can withstand the Gentry's attentions far better than most, and can likely keep it occupied for quite some time. I don't love, but I can fake it quite well. For two, I may be able to convince it somehow that we are star-crossed, and ne'er the twain shall meet, as it were, though I'd prefer to know more about it before attempting that. And, for three-" another fleeting, glassy little smile "-the thing is driven away if it believes that the target of its affections has fallen in love with another. I've never been in love. I'm not certain I'm even capable of it. But, as an emergency out, I think I could at least make the attempt."
"I like Widget. And I owe her a small debt of thanks, for actions done at my request. If there's something that I can do when it comes to this, just ask. I do suppose there is time to practice restraint. It can make the pay off more delicious." Zillah's fingers work at the box, feeling the texture and weight of it. Not distracted from Carter, so much as a fidget that can't be helped. After a few moments, she's straightening and leaning, until those long fingers can offer it back to him.
"We can certainly hope things fall out so that it's the first option. I'd rather it just...go on it's merry way. I've heard whispers that there are people that aren't happy with my words that we should keep distance and take the time to find out about this One, but." She shrugs her shoulders. "Outright war would be completely fucking stupid on our part. Your plan sounds reasonable enough. Being in love isn't an easy thing, but. There's a world of different sorts of love. It could just be amping it up."
"She's a rare and unique individual," Carter says, leaning forward slightly to accept the box again. "Dangerously uncontrolled, and ignorant of many things, but there's a sort of animal wit there that makes her quite interesting. And there's a thirst for knowledge and experience that one rarely sees. She's rather like a young Bodhisattva, in her way." He shrugs and slips the little velvet box back into an inner pocket of his suit. "She's at least unique enough to make for a useful distraction, at times, and those are rare enough that I must take them as they come, these days."
He settles back onto the cushions, expression returning to its usual imperious blankness. "I'd prefer, first and foremost, to know more about this particular Gentry before taking any decisive action," he says, with a nod. "Open warfare is rarely a good thing. It may not even be possible, in this case; she doesn't seem particularly inclined towards direct, in-the-flesh meetings. She prefers to act through others. And, should I have to find someone to fall in love with in a hurry-" the faintly evil grin returns, and his dark eyes glimmer in the light "-I can at least say that this city has more interesting persons in it than any other I've visited, so the odds are better here than elsewhere. But in any case. That's all for that particular topic, which brings us to the next."
He settles back on the cushions once more, letting his arms fall out to either side as he sprawls back, lounging like a jungle cat. "Tell me, Your Majesty," he says, watching her expression. "What do you know about the Tears of Aomi?"
"Beyond not being possible with this One, I have no idea what our strengths are when it comes to an actual physical fight. I've yet to track down the leader of the Harvestmen." That, that makes Zillah frown deeply. "So beyond knowing Benedict - the one that joined our Pledge at Court - and Ashoka, I don't know who has even the slightest of chances fighting their way out of a wet paper bag. That's not the particular flavor I'd like my reign to end on, the taste of ash in one's mouth." She smirks, a bit wry, before she continues. "There is a certain charm here, isn't there? Rocco wondered why I ended up here, when I left Brooklyn. I think he's starting to understand, now."
One fang hooks on her lower lip, tugging it as she ponders. Digging through her mind, and coming up blank as she shakes her head. "Not a damned thing. Tell me about them?"
Carter nods along with her thoughts on battle. "Besides," he adds, when she stops, "fighting is usually the least interesting way to deal with this sort of thing. Even if it is effective, simply pushing the sharp end of a cold iron spear into anything that moves is terribly dull. I came to Fort Brunsett to find /new/ things, not the same old brainless boredom - though I'd say that the charm is more due to the people than the area." He gives her another curved, wolfish grin, and adds, "Though I'm quite glad we're in an area with decent access to crab. As far as food goes, there's little I enjoy more than crab."
He reaches out to unhook his cane from the edge of the coffee table, then taps the tip of it against the floor once or twice before continuing. "The Tears of Aomi," he says, "are a particularly rare and useful bit of Hedge-fruit that grows in the area. They're of particular interest to the Watchers, as ingesting them apparently doubles one's oneiromantic power /and/ prevents any overzealous attempts at dream-riding from accidentally bursting the bubble, as it were. You can see how this would be a tremendously useful advantage to have in our pocket, I'm sure." His fingers drum out a soft rhythm on the head of his cane. "Unfortunately, accessing them is... troublesome. They grow only on a remote island within the Hedge, and this island appears to drain those who visit it of their capacity for empathy, among other emotions."
"I do prefer new solutions to old problems, especially if they're more interesting ones. It's good to shake up the status quo every now and then. And who knows, sometimes it might pay to reinvent the wheel." Zee lifts one of those shoulders in a shrug, before she's flopping back down into the pillows, staring at the ceiling, the fabric of saris mingling. "I'll have to keep that in mind, should I have the chance to wine and dine you, some time." She grins, even if it's unseen, something in the air for it.
There's the sense that she's listening, and doing her best to remember, as he tells her of the fruit. "Those do sound like they'd be incredibly useful to have in the Watcher's arsenal, as it were. Beyond sending out a willing party to go and fetch them, any chance of us getting some to grow in the gardens? I admittedly don't know much at all when it comes to making a garden grow."
Carter reaches into a pocket of his emerald suit once again, the motion of the "cloth" sending brief lances of green light sparkling across the room before he withdraws a folded piece of paper and sets it on the coffee table, easily within Zillah's reach. "The Library's entry on both the Tears and the island upon which they grow," he says. "Unfortunately, having read what it says, I would conclude that not only is growing the Tears on our own terms not currently feasible, doing so would be highly inadvisable even if we had the capability. The trees upon which the Tears grow are the source of the emotion-dampening effect; they would seem to 'drink' the emotional capacity of those who approach them in order to feed the Tears themselves."
He sits up, leaning forward over his cane, and regards the grinning Moon Queen for a moment, smiling himself. "What to do about the Tears is, of course, up to you," he continues. "Even if you choose to do nothing - which, honestly, may be the most advisable course of action, given the difficulty and danger inherent in retrieving them and our current lack of a standing army. But I thought that you should know about them nonetheless, so that you /can/ make a decision. As for wining and dining-" the grin returns "-I'd be more than happy to spend an evening in your company, Your Majesty, if the fancy ever takes you. You need only say the word."
Lazily, Zillah's hand snakes out to take that piece of paper. But she does seem to have a keen interest in what she's reading, facial expression shifting every now and again. "Ah, poor Lillian Miller, nothing but a dinner. We can at least hope that she didn't care too much about becoming someone else's meal." She finishes reading, then refolds the paper, resting it on her stomach for the moment. "Yeah, trying to grow that in our own humble abode would be a shit idea. But they do seem incredibly useful. I'll...chat with some people. See what we think."
Zillah's grin blossoms again, looking up to Carter with that gleam in her eyes. "I do appreciate it, the information. And I'll keep that in mind, Carter. Though I'd insist on being called Zillah in less-formal occasions. Even if I've yet to get someone to cry out 'Your Majesty' just yet," she teases.
That gets a laugh, a brief but genuine expression of amusement crossing the Devil's features as he taps the end of his cane against the floor. "It's a rare occasion indeed that I end up crying out someone's name rather than the other way around," Carter says, grinning that wolfish grin again. "Even with legs as uncooperative as mine. But however this hypothetical evening goes, I'm sure it would be quite entertaining - even if it was just wine and crab and good conversation."
He heaves himself upright, then, grunting heavily as he stands and taking a moment to find his balance. When it ends, and he's leaning safely on the cane once again, he smiles down at Zillah and offers her his hand. Whether it's to pull her upright or a simple offer of a handshake is slightly ambiguous. "But for now," he says, "that's all that I think needs to be brought to your attention. I'm sure Your Highness has some important reading to be doing." A brief glance to the discarded bodice-ripper, and another laugh. "But I must say that it's been a genuine pleasure to speak to you, my Queen, and I look forward to seeing how the freehold grows under your guiding hand. It promises to be-" he takes a slight breath between his teeth "-quite interesting." The smile that moves across her void-black lips is wickedly amused, and the shimmer of blue shows itself in her eyes once more. "I'm sure that you're quite capable of inspiring others to such things. But, as you said, even an evening of crab and wine and talk would be nice. Even I like to enjoy the finer things in life, when I can." She places a finger over her lips. "Shh, don't tell anyone."
A wink, and then she's extending her hand, sliding it into hers. If he tugs at all, she glides right up to her feet. Otherwise, it's just a press of skin to skin, her own slightly cool. "It's been good to speak with you as well, Mister Logan. I'm glad that you came by - and stepped up as Watcher-Elect."
"Your secret is safe with me," Carter says smoothly. "And I find that the most interesting people always do have an appetite for the fine things. After all, the baser side loses its appeal if it's all there is. Variety is the spice of life, as they say." And he gives a gentle tug, his own skin unnaturally warm against Zillah's, bringing the snake-woman to her feet and smiling a crooked little smile as his dark eyes meet her darker ones.
"I'm glad as well," he says, as he releases her hand. "For the first time in a long time, Your Majesty, I feel as though I might actually be the slightest bit alive again. It's an unusual method of revival, to be sure, but the most interesting one always are. And, of course, I'm always available if you require the counsel of an oneiromancer, in addition to the previous offer of wining and dining. For now, though... I must bid you farewell."
He makes a slight motion with his free hand, not quite a wave and not quite anything else, and then turns to limp his way towards the door. At the same time, another song finds his lips, and that hypnotic voice rolls out again as he vanishes into the alley behind Glimmerdark.
"The moon and you appear to be