Log:Plotting the Break-Up
|Plotting the Break-Up|
"I am..." A slight pause. "...not hitherto given to romantic entanglements."
14 January, 2019
The Moon Queen and Watcher-Elect meet with a Black Apple to discuss potential solutions to the problem of The Lover.
Glimmerdark - Back Room
Somewhere in the night, the request to meet up was sent by Zillah out to both August and Carter. Noon-ish, her place. Zee's version of preparing for important guests is putting pants on, or in this case a pair of black leggings under the warmth of her long-but-not-long-enough sweater. There is, however, one addition to the backroom of Glimmerdark - a plush chair of deep crimson velvet. The snakely Queen has a mug of coffee in her hands, stolen from Homepage if the mug can be trusted.
Carter arrives just a few minutes past noon. Undoubtedly he parked outside precisely during the appointed time, but he's slow to reach the entrance to the back room, limping as he does. When he arrives, he's wearing a long gray coat over a dark plum suit, accompanied by an old-fashioned hat, which he removes when he spots Zillah and sets aside on the table. "Your Majesty," he says, with a faint smile. "I do hope that I haven't kept you waiting for too long. My legs are being particularly uncooperative, in the cold weather."
August Bordeaux, Zillah's equal in raw power, wears a charcoal grey wool coat, thigh length, over the indigo blazer below, slacks a matte and simple black. His attire is simple, elegant, and without ornamentation. The man's appearance, beyond generalities, is different to each of them, and he, unlike Carter, is a good ten minutes late. He does not look pleased when he enters the back room, and whatever it was that attacked him, it involved a great deal of glitter. Possibly water balloons AND glitter, given the way it's splattered heavily, and smeared, all over/into the wool of his coat and trousers. A half-hearted effort to remove it appears to have been made, hence the smearing. He nods to both of them, jaw tight. "Moon Queen. Mr. Logan. Apologies for my tardiness."
"Not too long at all, Mister Carter," Zillah replies easily. Her smile isn't quite so faint, and there's the certain electric buzz around her that comes from being well-caffeinated. And probably whatever drugs she might have stumbled upon the night before. "In fact, we're still waiting on Augu...there he is." There's a significant pause, and then a bit of a smirk, as she looks over the Autumn Councilor. "Did you fall into a pit of strippers, Mister Bordeaux?" A gesture, that suggests the both make themselves at home. It's the pile of pillows for the most part, though there is a subtle nudging of the Devil in their midst towards the chair.
Carter gladly takes up the offered chair, and gives Zillah a nod of thanks, groaning heavily as the weight leaves his hooves. His cane is hooked easily over the arm of the chair, and he shrugs out of his long coat, folding it carefully and setting it aside. "Much appreciated," he says, in that musical, hypnotic voice of his. "As comfortable as the cushions here are, it's sometimes best to get the weight off them properly, you know." And he runs one hand over a thigh, frowning, as he looks to August.
The other man gets a long, considering look, which is only briefly joined by a faint, fleeting smile at the sight of the glitter covering his clothing. "I can recommend an excellent dry-cleaning service, Mister Bordeaux. Should have everything right as rain in just a day or two. Remind me to give you the address, once all of this is over. But, for now, I think..." He reaches into an inner pocket of his suit and withdraws a small, sleek cigar case. "...Down to business. Do you mind if I smoke, Your Majesty? And, of course, if you wish for one yourself, you need only ask."
"No." No, he did not land in a nest of strippers. August is neither smirking nor smiling, temper quite weary of the whole glittery situation, and visibly so. The Autumn's faint glimmerings of cold and bloody moonlight are colder and bloodier than usual, and as he drops down to sit on the pillows, his strangling vines proceed to strangle them, as well, a fine film of drifting ash and skeletal leaves flutter-skittering in his wake.
Carter's offer of a dry-cleaning service is met with a hint of wry, tried humour and a nod, along with a smooth, "August-" given the French pronunciation, NOT the month's pronunciation, "-will suffice. You are now on the Council, non?"
There's no hiding the fact that Zillah -wants- to ask what unfortunate fate fell upon August. But she exercises a small amount of restraint in not doing so, instead taking a seat on one of the large cushions. The backroom not being overly spacious, it keeps the trio in close enough vicinity. The Queen's own shadowed mantle twisting around her, threatening to blot everything into darkness. "Oh, you're quite welcome to smoke. And I will take you up on the offer." She leans forward, so that her long fingers can take whatever might be offered from Carter.
"Yes, business. Mainly, The Lover." Zillah lets out the hint of a sigh, there. "And what the fuck to do about her. You've both presented me interesting thoughts. I want you both to hear them from your own lips. One of my big goals for my reign is to not get us fucked up the ass by some Gentry or nearby Freehold, if I'm being honest.'
"An admirable intention, yes." Carter hands Zillah a cigar before taking one for himself. A moment later, he retrieves a small lighter from some inner pocket. Zillah's cigar gets lit first, before the Devil services himself. Then the lighter and the cigar case disappear again, leaving the Devil's hands empty. His Mantle swells around him as he takes his first drag, competing with the Moon and the Autumn from the room's other two inhabitants. It's truly a riot of seasons in Glimmerdark, at the moment.
Carter turns to nod to August. "I am," he says. "Watcher-Elect. And I do indeed have my own ideas about how to deal with our Gentry stalker, though I'd much prefer to hear whatever information you've come up with, August-" he pronounces the name quite easily "-before actually moving on them. It's always best to have as much information as possible before acting, in situations such as this." He exhales a long, lazy cloud of smoke up towards the ceiling, expression impassive. "I have yet to actually turn over the gift I've created to the Other in question, so we have an opportunity to discuss things before committing to any particular action."
August's response, and the sweet-rot scent of apples going sour, are answer enough, it seems, as far as he is concerned: he spreads a hand and asks, simply, "What would you like to know? The Queen has my missive-" he flicks a look toward Zillah, interrogatory, "-and may share it at her leisure. That is all that I have learned."
Zillah half-flops back into the cushions after her cigar is lit. It would be easy to mistake her posture for leisurely, if it wasn't for that coil of energy around her, the keen look in her eyes. Watching, and listening, to the two men. "We're lucky in that we have one of the Black Apple within our freehold, otherwise there might be more of a scramble," she muses, as her right hand reaches out to dig into a messenger back and withdraw a piece of paper. It's held up between two fingers, offered towards Carter. "All you've learned, August. But hardly all you have to offer to this conversation." She -tries- to pronounce it correctly. But that Brooklyn girl in her, the hiss, the fangs, don't get it quite right.
Carter accepts the proffered piece of paper, gives it a little shake, and holds it up to peer at it. His eyes skip over its surface at speed, though not so quickly as to make it look as though he isn't reading it thoroughly. He just happens to read it /quickly/. As he progresses through it, one eyebrow slowly raises, and when it ends, he purses his lips for a moment before handing it back to Zillah.
"If our goal is indeed to drive it away," he says, removing his cigar from his lips and exhaling another long cloud of smoke, "then my plan is likely inadvisable. Particularly considering that it's already likely to fixate on me more than anyone else. It leaves someone alone once it believes they've fallen in love with someone else, but I am..." A slight pause. "...not hitherto given to romantic entanglements. And it already follows me. Causing it to fixate more heavily on the person least likely to fulfill its escape condition is likely not what we want."
His gaze drifts upward, towards the ceiling, and he looks thoughtful for a moment. "Which raises the question of how we /do/ drive it away, if that is indeed the course of action we wish to take," he says. "Because I would seem to be the sticking point, here. It's already latched onto me the same way it did Miss Widget. It makes occasional interventions in my life, leaving little gifts that it thinks will please me. I only find this mildly irritating at the worst of times, personally, but if we want to get rid of it..." He laughs, and looks back down to Zillah. "...I may have to enter the dating pool."
August lifts an elegant brow, but doesn't comment beyond a swift up-down glance at Carter, horns to hooves, and a mild, wry, "Finding love should be easy." Looking to the Moon, he shakes his head, then asks, "What is your goal? What do you see as most beneficial to us? I will, of course, aid the freehold in whatever manner I am able. The Fae, frankly, was a joy to speak with, compared to the majority of her kind. If we can find a way to frame our request within the boundaries of her Title and needs..." A hand spreads, the unfinished sentence implied to conclude well.
While Carter reads, Zillah looks up towards the ceiling. Watching, for a few moments, the subtle glow at the end of her cigar when she inhales. "Perhaps that's the one blessing I've got - I haven't caught her attention despite time with Widget. Likely because of the appearance of relationships around me." There's something there that makes the Queen smirk, has her features sharpening for a heartbeat. But it's all gone as she takes that paper back from Carter, tucks everything back home.
"There's the rub. It's already got sights set on you, handsome," Zillah muses towards Carter. "And if we did go with that sort of plan, I'd rather not risk someone new. Or not as clever. Dating's not a bad post-option." She turns those black eyes towards August, sitting up a bit more. "As for my goal? It's for her to mostly leave us the fuck alone. Not draw any more attention our not-so-humble way. From the Kindly Ones, or other Freeholds that might start painting us as Loyalists in their minds."
"The issue," Carter says levelly, in response to August's musings, "is not in finding others who love /me/. That's so easy as to almost be not worth considering. The issue is in finding someone who occupies /my/ attention sufficiently." He steeples his fingers in front of him, looking as calm and detached as ever. His voice, however, is quite serious. "If we want this Gentry to leave us be, and it depends entirely upon my ability to make that kind of connection with someone... well. I should just hope that there /is/ someone, because I've yet to find one in more than a century of looking."
He shakes his head, then falls silent for a moment, puffing on his cigar, obviously thinking. "The alternative might be to find this particular Other someone or something else that it finds more interesting than us," he says, after a few seconds. "Though this might be difficult, as it's shown no problem in the past with spreading its attention among multiple-"
He stops, mid-sentence, and blinks once. "Hrm." He shifts his cigar from side to side in his mouth a moment. "A thought occurs. If this individual does sustain itself from the feelings of love produced as a result of its attentions, what would happen if either it or its target was exposed to the emotion-deadening effects of the island I brought to your attention during our last meeting? Might that starve it sufficiently to have it seek sustenance elsewhere?"
"Another Fae, perhaps," offers the Legate, whether out of arrogance or experience unclear, "could challenge her attention, but I, too, would prefer not to draw undue attention to our valley."
Hearing Carter's suggestion, his interest is piqued...but subsides, soon afterward, with a small frown. "It is one's empathy, not one's capacity to emote, which is dulled. One's capacity to understand the needs of others, so to speak. While it may be worth attempting, I am not certain it would be entirely successful; love, without empathy, is obsession, mindless passion.."
Those black eyes swing to Carter, and there is a flicker of something within them. "I do hope that there's someone out there to spark that certain bit of attention in you, dear. Things like that go with my personal life philosophy of embracing every last wicked corner of one's soul." Zillah pushes hair back, out of her face, and exhales towards the ceiling again. She, too, has a spark of hopeful interest in Carter's idea, before August puts a mild damper on it. "It's a possibility, then. If not a Plan A, then maybe somewhere along the sound of G. And it would have been so nice, to be able to kill two birds with one stone, and get some of those fruits for our Watchers."
"One might argue," Carter says calmly, "that love without empathy isn't love at all, which is why I was given the idea of starving it. And, for preference, we would be putting someone /else/ there - the one that the Gentry needs, not the Gentry itself. Me, in point of fact." He sniffs, shifting on the chair, and adds, "Not that I'm particularly enamored of the idea. I guard my ability for empathy jealously, given how tenuous my ties to this world are at the moment. It is, indeed, more of a Plan G than a Plan A. But if all else fails, quarantining me upon the island for a little while is, at least, an idea."
He looks over towards Zillah, then, and his usual blankness gives way to a slightly crooked, toothy grin. "I'm all for embracing every possibility, Your Majesty," he says. "It is, after all, why I helped to found an Entitlement dedicated to exactly that. And if the opportunity for legitimate romance were to present itself, believe me when I say that I would seize it eagerly, with both hands. But I am an extremely unusual individual. It's very rare to find anyone that even understands my particular lifestyle, let alone wishes to genuinely share in it as an equal. If I /were/ to find such an individual, however..." He shrugs. "Well. I'm sure I don't have to tell you."
He pauses, then, puffing on his cigar. "But we're getting off topic," he continues, after a moment. "As much as I don't mind discussing my own approach to romance, it's not what we're here for. You mentioned, August, perhaps distracting one Gentry with another. On a related note, there is a hobgoblin whose capacity for love has gone missing in the Hedge not far from here. I wonder if the two events might somehow be connected."
<OOC> August Bordeaux says, "...Work is starting to get grosser than usual, and I'm not sure I can keep going."
<OOC> Carter says, "August can fade out, if you need to? He's given his report, at least."
<OOC> August Bordeaux says, "Hehe, may be for the best."
<OOC> August Bordeaux scoots him home!
A look that is nothing short of completely sympathetic shows on Zillah's features, the shift and hint of dark colors in otherwise black eyes. "It is a fantastic thing, to love and be loved. I forget it, sometimes. I try my best not to." The hint of a frown plays along her lips, but a pull from the cigar keeps it from lasting too long. A glass tray is grabbed, for ashing, since a second fire incident would be far from welcome.
"But yes. We did stray a bit, there. That does sound like there could be a connection. Or, if there isn't, well. Maybe we could play matchmaker, and do them both a favor. Turn her attentions away from us, and help a poor hob in need..."
The Devil catches the Moon Queen's eye when that brief look of sympathy flashes across her features, and Carter gives a slightly crooked smile in response. "I bow to your superior experience in the area," he says, inclining his head. "And, in truth, I confess to some jealousy. It's a rare thing indeed when someone else has experienced something that I haven't. Even rarer that it seems impossible that I ever will. You can understand how this might rankle doubly considering my status as a Bodhisattva."
He shrugs, then removes his cigar from between his lips and leans over to ash into the little glass tray. "I am fortunate enough," he continues, "to be a largely self-sufficient creature. And it's never before been anything that I might consider a weakness. This situation with the invading Gentry is an entirely unique one, in all my years of experience. Normally, one of the Others professing to love another would be characterized by attempts to steal the object of their affections away, not to simply love pure and chaste from afar." His expression fades back into its customary blankness, even as his voice sounds faintly amused. "It's a remarkably gentle and understanding creature, so far as the Lords and Ladies go. I'm almost tempted to simply try talking to it and asking it to leave, though I'm sure it would be fruitless."
"It was a brief thing. That time with Rorschach, when it lasted. All things go. It's the sad and beautiful truth, that we lose much. A condition of life itself. I'll admit that I miss knowing more than lust, games, sparks. But. A girl can get by." Zillah uncurls a little, and leaves her cigar in the tray as she rises up to her feet. Smooth and liquid, like pouring oil in reverse. "I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." She winks, and then her back is to him as she searches for something.
"Usually, yes. They are selfish things. There's an echo of it in us, of course. Some moreso than others. But yes. She does seem rather unique in that. Not that I trust it, of course. But maybe, well. I mean, what do we have to lose by asking it to go away? Politely, of course. Which is why someone that isn't me should do it."
Carter watches her move, stand, turn away, all with that same blank expression. Only once her back is to him does... something... flit across his features. It's an unusual expression, difficult to read even were anyone actually observing it. As it is, there's no one to see as the Devil looks briefly... puzzled? upset? concerned? It's impossible to tell, and it only lasts a fraction of a second before he leans over and grinds out the remains of his cigar in the ashtray, and his face returns to its customary blankness.
And, when he speaks, there's no trace of that odd expression in his voice. "I could always accompany August on his next meeting," he says mildly, "and ask if she might see her way clear to leaving an old Devil be. But that might also backfire, and simply make her even more determined to try to love me, if she perceives me as something lonely and in need of comfort." He sighs. "They are mercurial creatures, unfortunately, and it's impossible to judge what their reactions might be to such a thing. But if politeness is called for - well." He smiles faintly. "I can be a disgusting and uncouth bastard when I feel like it, but I'm quite good at being polite when it suits me, as well."
And while Zillah has a habit of watching everything, even the Queen does not have eyes in the back of her head. Carter's strange expression is missed, as she seeks out that mysterious something. Whatever it was seems to elude her, because she's turning back towards Carter a few moments later. "I like that idea. August, for his role. And you, because, well. I haven't known you long, but I do have a bit of faith in you. If the Devil was going to screw me over, I like to think it wouldn't involve doing the same to the Freehold. And mine is hardly a soul needing stealing." There's that curve of a smile, right before she laughs. "Oh, I'm sure you're able to be absolutely filthy, and that makes my tiny heart warm. But I trust in a silver tongue. Thank you for coming to me, again."
That gets a slight smile out of the Devil, who inclines his head towards Zillah and reaches for his cane. "I can assure you, Your Majesty," he says, "that I have no interest whatsoever in screwing over this particular freehold. I won't lie. I've done it before, just to see what would happen. But I quite like this one, and the people within it. Particularly-" he pushes himself upright, grunting slightly and swaying on the spot for a moment before finding his balance "-its Queen. I wouldn't dare set fire to everything before getting to see how things play out beneath her rule."
He laughs briefly, musically, and reaches out to gather up his coat. As he places it back around his shoulders, he adds, "And you know, of course, that as a Councilor, I'm quite willing to meet with you whenever you wish. But I don't think it's any kind of surprise when I add that I'm quite happy to do so on a personal level, as well. You seem a markedly entertaining individual, Miss Zillah, and I prize those quite highly, these days. As I said last time, if ever you wish for an evening of wine, crab, and conversation, I'm more than happy to provide - but for now, I think, I should leave you to Queenly matters, and instead accompany Mister August on his way out to discuss a proper meeting time to speak with our interloper. If that is, indeed, the course of action you think is best."
Zillah's smile seems to grow all the more for the presence of his. And there it is, the play of deep blue in the black of her eyes. She doesn't help him get upright, though there is a glance down to his legs. Not sympathy or pity, but curiosity. The same thing that's present, when she mock-whispers, "And do try to find out what happened with the glitter and wetness, yes?" There's the fullness of her grin, the flickers of devious mind, before it's back to a friendly warmth. "And I you. I'm glad that you stepped into the role of Watcher-Elect. Not only for the good of the Freehold, but my own selfish enjoyment of getting to speak with you. Sometime, soon, I'll have a night free enough to fully indulge in crab and wine, and your company. I look forward to it."
She slides closer to him, now that he's coat-ed, and shadowy fingers brush the arm that doesn't have a hold of the cane. Briefly done, on her way to open the door for him. "I do think it's the best one we have in front of us, for now. Good luck."
Carter is more than used to curious glances at his legs, after almost a century of dealing with them. He folds both hands over the top of his cane, still smiling softly, and watches her as she steps in. His expressions are harder to read than hers, cloaked behind decades upon decades of viciously overpowering ennui, but there's the faintest glimmer of equal curiosity in his own black eyes as he watches the snakelike sway to her movements. He turns as her fingers brush his arm, limping along in her wake towards the door.
"I would be disappointed if there /weren't/ a little bit of selfishness in your pleasure at having me on board," he says, sounding greatly amused. "And yes. I'll be sure to get the full story for you. Assuming that Mister August can be convinced to part with the details, in any case. He seems the type to get quite tight-lipped when he's embarrassed about something. Boring, but there you are - we can't all be Moons." He gives a little laugh, then leans forward over his cane in as much of a bow as he can muster. "Until next time, then, Your Majesty. Do take care of yourself."
And he steps out through the door, into the frigid streets, and stumps away.