Oh, the difference between Summer and Sun crowns. It's so very apparent. For all that Queen Pook had seen to lavish displays and ensured refreshments and catering, the Sun Queen has done no such thing. The big room is left entirely unadorned. There is no buffet of food. There is no ice chest full of drinks. In fact, orders are 'no alcohol'. There is, however, a large orange Gatorade branded cooler-with-spigot for dispensing water into paper cups. That's right, there's not even Gatorade in it.
At least the water is cold?
Just as noticeable a difference is in the Monarch themselves. Helah is already seated at the head table, and has been for some time. She's dressed entirely plainly, in a tan cardigan worn over a brown blouse, along with a tan skirt that falls below her knees. It's not a suit, nor a gown, nor is it even a very lovely outfit.
Helah waits all of five minutes before the posted start date (because she's more timely than her player), then rises up. "Please be seated, we will begin," she declares in a voice that's soft, yet seems to oddly reverberate through the stone itself.
Logan is dressed in a little Hedgespun finery tonight, though not enough to offend the new Monarch, one hopes. It's a white uniform with a small capelet and many gold buttons, plus a golden rapier. He enters into the room with Max by his side, the bright line characteristic of his mien shining out all around him, shadow weaving through it like clouds on a sunny day. Smiling over at the enchanted mortal, he makes his way to a table, forgoing the, er -- very generous 'refreshments' offered at this gathering.
The other Monarchs and Councillors are seated in their places, conversing quietly amongst themselves. Meredith Ryan, notably, last year's Summer Queen, is watching Helah with an unreadable expression as the other woman rises to speak, then scans the room for members of her own Court.
Billy Ray is dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, comfortable boots - no trucker cap and his beard and hair are nicely tended to. He does have his hedgespun rapier in a crossdraw scabbard on his left hip with a folding knife and multitool on the right hip and surprise of surprises has no beer or cigarette. He steps in and takes a seat, getting comfortable.
November, too, is punctual today, and has likewise been present for some time, the Ancient Fairest's all-too-Faerie, fickle energy suffusing the vicinity of the entrance, because of course the androgynous Dawn would stand there, very masculine, snow white suit immaculately pressed and tailored. Point in fact, the only colours she bears are those of Sun and Summer, her waist belted with a slim silk scarf in every shade of crimson, pocket handkerchief dyed to match.
Godly Dawn cooties. Anyone entering in has them. Enjoy.
When Helah rises, the unrainbowly rainbow remains standing, though she does lean back against the doorframe, danger to her suit be damned.
Ashe is there and she's dressed in her usual plain black dress and boots. The woman is shrouded in shadows, so it doesn't really matter if she's wearing makeup or anything else. Since the Crown is standing, there's no reason for her to be seated. Or maybe she preferred to stand this evening?
Wandering in with Logan, there's a curious smile upon Max's lips. Of course she's dressed in her usual attire, a hoodie, shorts, and sneakers. Sitting down with Logan, she takes a look around. Spotting Ashe, there's a friendly and inviting wave. Then she leans in to say something quietly to Logan.
The mermaid arrives almost late, without Leo there to be sure that she's there On Time. The 'no alcohol' rule means Etsy is there with empty hands. Alas. She flutters in, a mass of loose clothes that nearly drowns her skinny frame, and seems -- almost -- to float, -- almost, but not quite -- as if her toes or the tips of her fins or whatever are in those tatty silk slippers she wears are the only contact points between mermaid and ground. She flitters toward Billy Ray, touching his elbow softly to say hello, and then her sea-change eyes slip from brackish olive to a brilliant gold-flecked white and she pshewm toward November as if Court is not in fact happening. Her ridiculous Spring Mantle leaves vines and tiny illusory white flowers fading in her wake, and exploding in all sorts of possible colors where it smashes into November's Mentle as Etsy flings herself at the immacuately-pressed Rainbow with a high-pitched dolphin-style squeak standing in for any sort of comprehensible greeting.
It's only a second later that she realizes anything Official is already happening, and flops down like a discarded doll by November's chair instead of assault-hugging the colorful Ancient. Rainbow's suit, saved by Sun.
Logan sits, crossing his legs and waiting, not seeming to mind if others are standing. If the new Monarch wishes to enforce this protocol, then he'll adjust his behavior. He inclines his head faintly to both Ashe and November, should he catch their eye, as he leans over to murmur something to Max in return, always a faint smile on his lips.
Helah eyes each and every person as they walk in, assessing them with a rather overt look. There's no more disapproval than she normally wears on her face, as she looks over the Freeholders. Of course, as she's right by the door, November gets quite a few glances.
Once it seems as though most everyone is seated - and without giving a look over to Meredith - Helah begins. "Welcome, Fate's Harvest, to Summer. A season that shall be ruled by the Sun, as the Wyrd has chosen, in order to sustain all that we have built so far," she says. "I will say, once again, thank you, Reginald Pook, for your services," Helah says, with a glance aside.
Pook is there, of course. He's dressed in a white suit, with a nice red tie. He smiles beatifically to the small woman, and inclines his head.
"Now then, I will not waste anyone's time. As Fate's Harvest has grown, excess, indiscretion, and frivolity. I am willing to admit that it might have just been Spring, but I fear it is a trend. As such, I will focus my rule on temperance, careful thought, and necessity. To start, I will be meeting with the heads of each of our factions to ensure matters are being tended to. I will deal with any that violate our laws or risk our secret quickly and seriously. I will ensure we are a moral Freehold. For in morality there is strength." Helah pauses after that monologue.
Meredith Ryan snorts softly under her breath, but declines the opportunity to comment, only leaning forward to rest her weight more on folded forearms atop the table's edge as she listens.
Ashe gives a nod of greeting to Max and Logan, but the Autumn doesn't move from her spot. The leaves in her mantle are chasing one another, so she might not be in the cheeriest of moods. When the Sun Queen starts to speak she turns her attention to her and there's a nod as she follows, but she offers nothing when the Monarch stops speaking.
Billy Ray smiles at Etsy, waving, to the rest that he recognizes - Max, Logan, so on - and is quietly as he slides one leg over the other and gets comfortable in his seat to listen quietly. He remains silent at the pause in the speech.
Logan nods his silent agreement, blue eyes fixated on Helah. If others in the room were clapping, he might be doing so right now. He seems solemn but somehow pleased. And he seems to have just noticed Billy Ray now, so he flashes a smile in his direction when the man waves his way.
It would be difficult to say whether or not the white-and-red rainbow is watching anyone in particular, polite, attentive neutrality fixed on Helah and Helah alone, if the angling of her head can be believed. Given that her eyes are as transparent as everything else, well. Those who greet her are met with small nods and a near-invisible smile, light catching on the curve of frost-feathered lips. Etsy's enthusiastic squeaking is met with a turn of her head, transparent, queerly liquid hair drifting and rippling into new patterns where it floats about her body, and a single cautionary finger is lifted to the Ancient's lips to urge the mermaid to listen to the new Queen. Manners, manners.
"Please define the season's morality, your majesty," November requests, Dawn watching Sun in otherwise silent patience.
Having flopped down on the floor next to November, like the crumpled doll she is, Esther Swift puts on her most innocent of faces -- and that's a really innocent face, because she's a Fairest who's super good at being delicate and innocent. F'cking Fairest. Her hands drop into her lap and she leans her head against November's knee, or maybe her calf, because November is tall and Etsy is tiny, and listens to the Queen with the most big-eyed innocent look on her face. The air around her is mildly suffused with the scent of lilies, because Flowerings Try Hardest at social nonsense, practically filling the air with cartoon-like little squiggles of 'don't be mad I squeaked.'
Helah's eyes trail back and forth over the gathering until November speaks, and pulls her gaze away. Her big, dark eyes narrow, just a touch, as she stares at the old Rainbow. "This season's morality is no different than any other's, November," Helah says, her tone quiet and cool as ever, yet still seems to resonate in a strange way. "We value virtues, we turn away from vices, and we aim to be good people," she says. "Honesty, loyalty, temperence, compassion - these are virtues. Does this conflict with your understanding of morality?" she asks. "Or anyone else's?" she adds, with a faint glance about. Could be that's open invitation for others to speak, though something in that disapproving gaze suggests otherwise.
Aaron comes into the meeting sometime as it's in session. He enters through the door, hands slightly tucked behind his back. His spectral sister travelling nearby, and his lanky cat beside him. He finds a place away from the larger gathering--not a fan of crowds perhaps. He listens to the conversations at hand.
Ashe spies her fellow Autumn and she gives a nod of greeting to Aaron as he strolls past. When Helah asks if anyone has questions, there's a shake of the Shadowsouls head.
The Trickster tilts her head as Helah responds, a flicker of rose-gold-peach briefly visible in the air in her vicinity. She flashes a brief smile, no teeth, and breathes a quiet laugh before reminding, "We are the Court of Sacrifice, your majesty. Giving of ourselves to the betterment of the world and those who dwell within it is within your stated bounds. Our goals are congruent." November glances toward the Moon Councillor with another flash of a smile, but at no point does she associate Etsy's position with her own, no contact initiated on her side. Spring's business is its own. "The Wayhouse will receive you, no doubt, whenever you care to visit. I'm afraid Ava was unable to attend this evening's gathering, but I convey her regrets."
Nathania also enters late, with a regretful expression. Giving a nod to those she knows, she ends up beside Aaron after a few moments, silently listening.
Logan glances over at November as he speaks, his eyebrows raised. He looks quite interested, though 'pleased' may be an overstatement. For once, the smile on his lips has dimmed into something almost like a frown, and he turns his blue gaze from madam rainbow over to Helah, drumming his manicured fingers on the table in a gesture of possible impatience.
"Morality transcends Court and does not come in different flavors, November," Helah says, with modest agitation, yet nothing too overt or over the top. This is, afterall, November. Helah also does not check in with the Moon Court. Because she has no desire to see what they think of her proclamation. Following this comes November's invitation, and Helah inclines her head. "Thank you," she says, sounding sincerely gracious. Then she looks back up and around. "Before I move on to our largest outstanding matter, does anyone have anything to bring to the court?" she asks. That is, surely, an invitation.
From where she sits on the ground, Esther stretches out a hand toward the dolly and makes grabby-fingers toward Nathania. Come to meeeeee friend person. She gives no indication of agreeing or disagreeing with anyone, just a general air of Etsy-innocence. No statements on morality, no business to bring forward.
Nathania spots Etsy and moves to sit next to her instead, silent but hugging on the Spring. She smiles to the mermaid but doesn't engage in conversation with her, just hugs.
November, of course, accepts the growing gathering beside her legs as nothing but her due. Nathania is graced with a momentary dip of the Ancient's head in welcome, but attention otherwise remains politely on Helah. No further comments from her quarter. For now.
Mermaids hug faces. So Etsy hugs Nathania wordlessly, and then November is not being leaned on anymore, because Etsy is leaning on Natty with her arms around the Winter dolly.
Hearing no one pipe up, Helah gives a faint nod, and moves on. "Right then. When the crown manifested upon my head, it was not long after Queen Pook had offered one Samantha Whitaker of the Soundless a pledge. One she took, and he had hoped would allow this snake to continue to visit our Freehold without causing us harm," Helah says, her tone turning a touch more fiery. "I asked you all if anyone objected, or otherwise wanted to speak on the matter. I've heard no objections. While I would be pleased if contentment caused you all to hold your tongues, I fear it may be sloth. As such, I will offer you all a chance to speak now. Should Samantha Whitaker, having pledged to do no harm by word or deed to our Freehold, be allowed to frequent our Freehold?"
At this, Logan stands up, waiting for an opportune moment before he speaks in the Monarch's direction. "Having had some contact at the Wayhouse with Samantha Whitaker, Your Highness, I do believe that it's in the Freehold's best interest to form an alliance with Ms. Whitaker," he offers, "in order to glean more information on the nature of the Soundless conflict. I believe we will court trouble if we encourage opposition at this time. It behooves us all to diplomatically interact with her and understand what she is trying to teach us, and to impart our teachings to her in turn."
Charlie O, Winter Councillor, rises with a soft scrape of his chair over the floor. "Loath as I am to disagree with Reginald," is that truth, or sarcasm? Tough to tell, "should she or her Freehold prove a threat, what is to stop her from revealing any secrets she should learn about us once the pledge is through? Our secrets are our own. She should not be permitted details of our holdings, or our plans. Diplomacy is necessary, but blind openness is not."
Etsy's not familiar with this whatsoever, and so watches the whole interplay from her seat on the floor with wide eyes.
Nathania, leaning back against Etsy at November's feet, nods in quiet agreement with Charlie O. She pulls out some knitting and gets to work, a sock in the making.
August Bordeaux, Autumn Councillor, lifts a hand, gesturing toward Charlie. "We are in agreement. I would like to learn as much as possible about the Soundless, however... If they have managed to survive since the Troubles intact, they may have worthwhile information to share."
Lulu drifts in on sandaled feet in a tiered sundress with a shawl over her shoulders. The fluffy headed blonde drifts over to a seat to sit down. Better late than never. The first empty seat she can find is the seat she drops into.
Meredith Ryan, Summer Councillor, mutters under her breath and reiterates what is becoming a persistent thorn in her side. "We shouldn't be dealing with these people like they're friends. They come swaggering in here, cocks of the rock, and expect us to just open up and be best pals? No. No fucking way." A flat palm slaps the tabletop, making water glasses jump. "We should be guarding ourselves and keeping an eye out, and sure, fine, have your fucking tea parties, but this is our Freehold. Not theirs." She fixes Helah with a Look, as if to say, 'and it's your problem now.'
Max moves to her feet, clasping her hands in front of her lightly. She takes a quick glance around. "Maybe we should have someone nominated to go to their Freehold and pledge with their ruler," she suggests as she focuses her gaze on the Queen. "Then whatever liberties they give such an individual, we allow Samantha in turn. What's fair is fair, right?"
Heather Vale, Dawn Councillor, deftly saves her water glass from the table's edge before Meredith's hand can strike. "We need to learn their motivations, and for that, we need to talk. I agree that we shouldn't be welcoming them all with open arms, not yet, but we can't forge blindly forward, either. Obviously, this valley has a lot of history we weren't aware of when we settled here." The Darkling turns her glass between her palms, speaking quietly, but projecting well, voice clearly audible.
"Thank you, Logan," Helah says to the Dawn. A much better behaved Dawn. She then swings her eyes to the side, down to the Winter that is Charlie O. She inclines her head. "I could not agree more," she says. Helah continues to watch, as the answers come in. For August, she offers only a soft nod. For Meredith, however, she stares for a long moment, impassive and unimpressed. "I'll trust a Summer to know a Summer," Helah says. "Though it was a Summer that requested I meet with Whitaker," Helah says, as she continues to stare.
"Though she is tending to other matters on my behalf, Gisa has sent word of her read on Samantha Whitaker. She believes that the snake is maliciously seeking ways to harm us, and that the information she has - specifically regarding The Troubles - might not outweigh the problems she causes," Helah says, to the group as a whole.
Helah's attention swings back to Max, and she stares at the human for a long moment, before she nods. "A fair idea," she says. A pregnant pause gives the Wizened time to think, and then she says, "I'll find someone for the task."
Logan's smooth brow furrows lightly in regards to this information from Gisa, but his attention is mostly on Max. Then, upon Helah again. "Your Majesty, I would like to put myself into consideration for this task, of counterpledging to the Soundless," he says, and for once, leaves it at that. He does not toot his own horn, simply adds his name to the invisible list, and then sits down again.
November is the very picture of good behaviour. See? She isn't interrupting, she is standing straight, shoulders back, chin up, even. Granted, there's still that subtle, alien Something about her, something in the way she carries herself, perhaps, which unashamedly, unabashedly brushes all of those so-sensitive nerves so very well-habituated to the Fae: fickle, capricious, veritably vibrating with potential, for weal or woe. Exquisitely amoral.
Minor details. This summer will be -fun-.
Lulu's head tilts and she listens. She takes out her phone to look at it breifly and glances to Heather then her phone before tucking it away. She folds her arms on the table and goes still to listen to the talk going on.
A webbed hand wiggles at the arriving moth from where Etsy leans on Nathania, sitting on the ground at November's feet while the dolly knits a sock. She's absorbing all of the conversation without commenting.
"Go a month without someone bringing up your name in the negative, Logan, and I will consider giving you a task of importance," Helah says, that mantle of hers shining like the sun reflecting off a car windshield on a hot day.
"Now, I have no intentions of revealing secrets to Whitaker. Some had posed the idea of allowing her to attend our court, but I will not allow it," Helah says. "And I will make it clear to you all now, and by proclamation: That snake is not to be brought to our Hollow, nor given even vaguely it's location. The loop trod is ours, and I will keep it that way," she says, her voice stern.
"If you wish to deal with Samantha Whitaker on your own - along the river trod, in your own hollow, in your own home - then that is your business. But any secrets revealed to her will be considered secrets given to the enemy. Any bad behavior brought about by Whitaker due to something you told her will fall on your shoulders," she says, addressing the group as a whole. "And that is all I will hear of the matter tonight. You may write me - with ink on paper - if you wish to discuss the matter further."
Logan smiles a little. Not a big, bright grin, but a considering smile. He is taking Helah's words about his name to heart, and the light around him shines out a little brighter. Then he is back to listening, of course. Sitting there in thoughtful consideration like the good boy he is, nodding faintly at something or other Helah says.
Sitting back down, Max smiles a bit warmly. She leans back in her seat, making herself comfortable. There's a glance to Logan as she leans over to whisper to him.
Helah continues to survey the space before her, and though her mantle has settled, she still seems to glow. At least it's not blinding! "I will expect reports from all of you that lead factions, and from all of you that rank in your courts," Helah says. "And I will come find you, if they are not delivered in a timely manner," she says. "Summer is not a time for sloth. Hard work will ensure Autumn comes smoothly, and that we last through the long Winter." Helah waits a long moment, and then she rises up. "Court is adjorned. You may all leave," she says.
It's a good season to Not Be In Charge, from the expression on Etsy's face. Clear relief spreads across the mermaid's face, and she flows up to her feet in a flounce of clothes, a style best described as 'I'm technically still homeless and wear everything I own.' She leans down and kisses the top of Nathania's head, then blinks slowly at November. "A very soons, will coming to see you, Rainbow. Have had a missings. But is heres, now, for a whiles." The mermaid adjusts the white sash across her chest, and there's a brief flicker of what look like illusory wings at her wrists and ankles as she blows the Ancient a kiss and skitters for the exit. For all her previous excitement at seeing November, she's far more placid now, for whatever inscrutable Esther reason.
Nathania packs away her knitting and hugs Etsy, before finishing her prep to leave. She smiles at the kiss to her head and follows the mermaid out, looking thoughtful.