Logs:Pledging Paths Cross

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Pledging Paths Cross

Characters: Gert Gilles Nicolas Stasya
Date: 2020-06-28
Summary: Two Lost Pledge to the Freehold

The Community Center Kitchen is always fully supplied with plenty of food, but certain days are better than others. This Sunday morning seems to be one of those lucky days because anybody walking into the building can surely smell the delightful smell of some sort of fresh baked bread or other pastries. Following the smell leads straight to the kitchen and one Cotton Candy wisp of a pastry chef currently busy pulling out another tray of goodies out of the oven, humming as she sets them down on a waiting trivet.

Nicolas strolls inside, grateful to be out of the late-morning heat. The Fairest has come business-casual, wearing a tan linen suit, a white silk shirt, and dark brown loafers; he's chosen to forgo the necktie and left his collar unbuttoned to keep a little cooler. Nicolas pokes about for a bit in search of the Summer monarch, eventually finding his way to the kitchen. He halts in the doorway and raps on the frame, knocking as he calls out to announce his presence. "Hello."

There's a sound from the lobby area, somewhere between a yelp and a shout, and then the sound of indistinct voices and what sounds like embarrassed laughter from behind the counter. A moment later, the door into the common area opens, opposite where Nicholas entered, and a horrifying figure appears, grinning almost literally from ear to ear and holding a coffee in one gloved hand.

Gert is not a sight that most people would enjoy. Even in such a cozy area as this, with the smell of good food filling the air and the community center's cats lazing about nearby, she's... unnerving at best. The eyes are too bright, the makeup too thick, the mouth viscerally repulsive and filled with teeth that would terrify a shark. But she seems to be in a good mood, at least, and doesn't immediately lunge for anyone's throats.

"Oh, well," she says. Her voice is high and raspy, like a warty old witch from an old horror movie. "Hello, dearies. I don't believe I've had the pleasure yet." Her eyes flicker towards Stasya's crown for a moment. "Seems lucky that I got back when I did, though," she adds. "Mister Ian did say the Queen hung about here often. Wonderful. Saves us all some hassle."

Stasya isn't bothering with tongs or other utensils as she picks the danish like desserts up and slips them off to a cooling rack. Her hands are clean, promise, and the heat never bothered this Summer anyways. At the rap, she pauses long enough to glance in Nicolas' direction and give a nod. "Hello. Breakfast?" It might be getting closer to noon, but she's not going to presume anybody's schedule. As the clown arrives however, she doesn't seem much more phased although she does stop to wipe her hands on her apron. "And you must be Gert? Ian also told me that you should be dropping in." Convenient, that Ian.

Hearing someone coming, Nicolas steps aside to make way for the newcomer. Then he catches sight of Gert, does a double take, and instinctively opens the distance by another pace. Though he has trouble looking away from her, his expression holds a mix of horror and fascination. "Sorry," he belatedly apologizes for blocking the door. Then he remembers his purpose here and quickly looks back to Stasya. "No, thank you." He declines the offered food. "I'm here to see you as well, so perhaps you can kill two birds with one stone?" Since the other two seem to recognize each other he offers his own introduction to both at once. "Doctor Nicolas Galan."

"That's me," Gert says brightly. One of her hands comes up to push the brim of her bowler back slightly so that she can peer up at the other two without tilting her head back quite so far. This does have the unfortunate side-effect of bringing more of her face into view, but the grin, for all that it is /viciously/ snaggle-toothed and impossibly broad, does seem genuinely warm. "Gertrude Wexley, loves. Call me Gert. Everyone does."

She takes a sip of her coffee, shuts the door behind her, and strolls in. "It's a pleasure, Doc," she says, with a nod towards Nicolas. "And you, of course, Your Queenliness." Her eyes drift towards the pastries and, repulsively, there's a moment where a tongue slides over those teeth. "I'd love some, if you don't mind," she adds. "Been nothing but coffee for little old me thus far. Had to wake up early and go sign some paperwork at the local hospitals. Got to get settled in on the mortal side as well, you know."

"Stasya Andreeva," the Wizened offfers her own name as everybody else is, even if the other two had already seemed to key in on that. "And please, no need to cling to such formalities here. This is a break room." She slids the tray of fresh berry danishes over towards the apparenly hungry Autumn. "So you both work in hospitals?" There's a quick glance to Nicolas as if to confirm that truly is the type of doctor he is. "Either of you wouldn't also happen to be the sort of healer that might help with the more magical side of things than the mortal healing?"

"Pleased to meet you, Gert." Nicolas gives the horror-clown a reserved bow of his head. A second polite nod is offered to the Summer Queen. "And you, Ms. Andreeva." The news that Gert works in a hospital is met with very guarded curiosity, then he looks back to Stasya to reply. "I'm a surgeon by training, but at the moment, no; I've only just arrived in the city a few days ago. But yes, I can help with that. You have someone in need?"

Gert... doesn't laugh. Laughs are wholesome things. /This/ is a high, shrieking, sudden outburst of mad cackling, a horrible sound whose only redeeming quality is that it only lasts for a second or two before the clown puts one gloved hand over her mouth, silencing herself.

"Oh, dearie, no," she says a moment later. Her voice and expression are both intensely amused. "Can you imagine /me/ in a nurse's outfit? There'd be a riot. No, no. I'm a hospital clown, love. I make balloon animals and do magic tricks for the kiddies. A lot of 'em could do with some proper cheering up, you know."

She seems quite serious about it, if still amused. For all the horror of her appearance, for all that she has the voice of a horror movie villainess, her actual /tone/ is quite light and bright and warm. "I also do birthday parties and so on," she adds. "Little bits here and there, you know. Acts at local festivals. That sort of thing. I make do. So I'm afraid I can't help with any of your healing, but I'm happy to fill whatever clown-related needs you might have. And it's always nice to meet a doctor." She sidles closer, eyeing the plate of pastries. "Mind if I try one, love?"

"Not at the moment, no, but that always seems to be the sort of thing it's better to be prepared for before hand than trying to scramble for when you really need someone, dah?" Stasya might have gotten a lot better at English over the past couple years, but her Russian accent is still pretty thick. As for the possiblity of Gert in a nurse outfit, she tilts her head and seems to be honestly considering it. "If one of the Makers can figure out how to make a formal suit around dragon wings, fitting you into a nurses outfit shouldn't be too difficult if needed... And go ahead, anything left on this counter really is up for the taking unless a note says otherwise."

The Doctor can't help but wince, just a little, when he hears Gert's laughter. "Ah," he says upon hearing her explanation; the verbal note of several of pieces falling into place at once. "Interesting." Then he offers Stasya an understanding nod. "I'm here to discuss joining the Freehold, actually. Of course my services would be available to anyone who needs them." His lips quirk into a polite smile for notion of that nurses outfit, but Nicolas is not about to comment on that score.

Gilles arrives from Reception and Dorms - Changeling Community Center.

The clown plucks up one of the pastries, but doesn't hold it in her gloved fingers. Instead, she shuffles it onto a little saucer, then moves to seat herself beside the counter after retrieving a knife and fork. Her legs don't evne reach the floor. Tiny little thing, that Gert.

She sets her coffee down beside the plate, picks up her knife and fork, and begins delicately slicing the pastry into bite-sized chunks (though "bite-sized", here, is rather larger than it might be for anyone else). "Da," she says, with a nod towards Stasya. "Always best to keep a full head count on hand, so you know what acts you can swing when it's showtime. And I appreciate the thought, love, but I prefer my suits. A proper clown's outfit might as well be their skin, y'know."

She takes a bite - teeth snap shut, and the pastry chunk simply vanishes down that monstrous gullet - before continuing, "But I have other skills I can offer, I'm sure. I've never been one to freeload off others. Mister Ian excepted, but only because he turned down my offer of rent." She takes another bite, makes an approving sound, and adds, "Delicious, dear. I do love some sweets in the morning. But if we're both waiting to oath, please-" she tilts her head towards Nicolas "-don't let me hold up the line. Wouldn't want to keep the good doctor waiting too long."

Stasya nods as they both mention wanting to do the oath. "Well, since you're both here and I'm here, we might as well get to it. And no reason for a line. You can both swear at the same time. We did over half the freehold at the Solstice party after all," that Wizened desire for efficiency. "And we will definitely take and use whatever skills you have to offer." It's in the Oath after all, defending to the best of ones abilities.

The coughing, sputtering sound of a four-cylinder engine producing a mighty 10 horsepower is the first warning of Gilles' approach. While he may be able to find untended vehicles as he needs them thanks to Hidden Reality he still has some difficulty fitting the more modern cars into his mind, at least to the point of accessing the contract, and so he arrives at the community center in a Citroen B10 delivery vehicle.

He enters the common area of the Community Center a few minutes later with several large containers for the transportation of food in his arms and a large pot filled with some sort of stew balanced on top, leftovers from the restaurant for members of the community center to enjoy at their leisure. What is it that they say about a servant who's not serving? He glances over to Stasya and the newly arrived changelings and gives them a quick nod as he carries the load toward the kitchen.

Nicolas stands aside, one hand clasped lightly over the other before him, with no sign that he plans to avail himself of the pastries. "Thank you," he says to Gert, "though I'm in no great rush. I simply wanted to make sure Ms. Andreeva knew why I was here, in case now is not a good time." Still, he is all for efficiency and happy to pledge at the same time. "I've heard the wording of the pledge." Clearly it's acceptable to the Fairest. "But I do have one question: Do you know the reason we're able to come to the city now? My concern is that that may ... change back." Which might be bad, given they're within it. There's a glance aside as Gilles appears, and though Nicolas recognizes the other man he doesn't interrupt the conversation for more than a quick nod in greeting.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Gert says, with regard to simultaneously pledging. She wipes her grotesque mouth with a napkin in a surprisingly dainty motion, then glances around as Gilles enters. Her lips curl upward into a slight smile. "Glad to see everyone putting some work into this place, too," she adds.

She looks towards Nicolas, then, and says, "Afraid I haven't heard it meself, dearies. Just got in very recently, and I'll need a bit of coaching. I've sworn plenty before, but everyone's got their own little variations, you know. As for why it's open... not a clue myself, but that's why I figured I'd pop in. With the trods open, this place is going to be a real circus. And every circus needs its clowns."

"There's some theories, but it's hard to every really know what the Wyrd is really up to," Stasya gives a brief shrug of her shoulders. "The nearest Goblin Market at least seems to have opened up because there had been a Butcher Queen that side that apparently is no more. We're not taking that apparently at face value and fully investigating it before allowing greater access. Speaking of which, I do have some militia business i'll need to attend to before too long." Gilles arrival with yet more food is met with a nod, but he'll have to fight for counter space with all the fresh made danishes the Queen had just pulled out of the oven. "The Oath itself is simple enough, pretty standard Summer Oath. 'Until Summer gives way to Autumn, I swear not to support the Gentry in any way, not to bring harm deliberately to the Freehold, and to defend the Freehold to the best of my knowledge and abilities.'"

Gilles exits from the kitchen area, wiping his hands with a convenient towel. The food he brought was bound for refrigeration so there isn't too much difficulty in its storage. "We are still trying to find out exactly what it is that has changed," Gilles says, his voice carrying quite a strong French accent. "The local denizens where not direct in their answers, but as the Summer Queen has said, it seems as though there was a local creature, possibly one of the Gentry, who had established some form of...uh...ban. When this being passed away her agreement unraveled with her, allowing us to return." He gives a quick smile and says, "At least this is as I understand it. I was with the group that went to the market to get that information. You may want to ask Mssr. Jacob as I believe it was his expedition."

Gert's choice of metaphor earns a genteel laugh from Nicolas. "Indeed; I'm curious about it as well." Then he adopts a thoughtful air as he listens to the Stasya and Gilles both explain the recent goings on. "I see." It's not exactly the assurance he was looking for, and the possible involvement of a Gentry is troubling, but he is more intrigued than worried. "I'd be interested to help with the investigation," he volunteers. The news that the Summer Queen has other commitments is no surprise, and he offers a polite nod after hearing the oath again. He looks aside to Gert and quirks a brow. "Ready when you are?"

"Oh, I'm sure it'll all come to light soon enough," Gert says airily, in between further bites of danish. She eats surprisingly quickly, considering how /neat/ she manages to be about it. "The obvious question is why this big hoity-toity whosoever decided it was a good idea to lock the place off, but I'm sure you've already got people on that." She reaches for her coffee, takes a massive gulp, and smacks her rubbery lips in satisfaction once or twice.

When the oath is laid out, she nods towards Nicolas. "When you are, dearie. Seems simple enough, which I quite like. Last freehold I stopped in, the entire thing was nearly a minute long. Comedy gold, of course, but pointless and irritating as an actual pledge. I much prefer this." And then, turning back to Stasya, she recites the oath.

"We do, and we are. There will be a community meeting to present what information we have all gathered so far in the next week or so," Stasya gives a nod and surely there's notice of times and place placed on the bulletein board for more details. And when both appear ready to give their oath, Stasya straightens up and does her best to look 'queenly' which is mostly just good posture and a somber expression as she witnesses said oath, giving a nod once done. "There we go, easy as that. Please make sure to also abide by the Accords as well, a little peculiarity of our local city."

Gilles remains quiet as the two Changelings confirm their oath to the Freehold. Having given the oath himself at the Solstice he feels no need to repeat it. Once they are done, however, he says to Gert, "I had not thought about the why. That is a good question, though possibly one we can never answer. The motivations of such creatures can be hard to understand. They are bound by their own rules." To Nicolas he says, "The goblins seemed to believe she was dead and could not return, so that is good news at least. Perhaps that will give us time to strengthen our defenses before some other creature tries to claim the area."

Nicolas looks a tad skeptical about the mystery being quickly resolved, though he doesn't try to continue that discussion right now. The news about the upcoming meeting is of interest, and he gives the Queen a thoughtful nod. On with the oath; the Fairest recites the pledge in careful and precise manner, keeping almost word for word in step with Gert. "Thank you," he says to both Stasya and Gert, offering a subdued smile. He exhales a long breath, relaxing a little as that the formality with the Wyrd is out of the way and warming to the conversation once more. "Interesting," he says to Gilles. "I hope that's true, but I suppose time will tell. Is it difficult to reach this market?"

"Peachy." Gert gives a sharklike grin to the other Lost as the oath is made, and nods towards Stasya. "I'll try to attend, then," she says, as she sets her knife and fork down on her now-empty plate. "Best to stay on top of things whenever you can, when it comes to things like this. And no fear about the Accords, dearie. I'm already on board with them. Your old Auntie Gert has been a bindle stiff long enough to know the act."

She lifts one gloved hand and counts off on her fingers. "Paperwork filed with the local charities, housing taken care of, oathed to the local freehold, signed any other whatchamacallits they might have hanging about. Makes everything much easier if you just get 'em out of the way right up front. Keeps the locals from coming out and chasing little old me around."

She glances towards Gilles, then, and suppresses what might have been another mad cackle. "Well, that's the trick of it, love, isn't it?" she says. "Got to figure out what their rules are. I'm sure /some/one in the local freak show is chasing down that little thread. If they aren't-" the grin goes slightly crooked "-we shall have to have /words/, oh yes. Can't have the Ashen Court letting the side down. All this song and dance about finding things out is supposed to be our bag."

"For now, we're sticking to official recognizance missions, but hopefully soon. But speaking of, I really do need clean these dishes and then meet with my Ashen Court advisor..." Stasya turns and whisks the pan off to the sink, a quick clean and set out to dry. Once her hands are also dried, she hangs up the apron and gives a smile to the gathered Lost. "Nicholas, Gert, very nice to meet you and welcome to the Freehold. If you get hungry, I'm sure Gilles here can tell you the best place to find a meal." And with that, she's off to her next piece of business.

"We are hoping to smooth out the way a bit more," Gilles says to Nicolas. "It has been so long that it is like a garden that has been left to run wild. We did not have too much difficulty with the last trip but I do not think I would currently attempt it alone." He gives a nod to Stasya and says, "One other reason for my visit is that I am hoping to organize up a group to try to build a roadway between here and L'Auberge. It might give us some practice and then we could see about joining the new roadway with Tumbledown."

He then turns his attention back to Gert and says, "The Ghostmother seems to have more information," he says, "but she wants a price. The ghost of one who died violently, the memory of a ghost held dear, and the ghost of a love that has died. As I said, I believe Mssr. Jacob is looking into those things, though I am sure he would appreciate your help."

"Mmmhmm." Nicolas makes a noise of general agreement for the Autumn Court's bailiwick. He may have a personal interest there as well. He inclines his head to the Summer Queen. "Thank you for your time, and for the warm welcome. Until we meet again." And then his mouth bows down in a faint frown for Gilles' description of the local Hedge. "I'm not surprised; but no, I wouldn't risk the Hedge alone even in a more tame area." The talk of ghosts quirks one of the Fariest's brows, but he merely listens without comment.

"Ooh." Gert's unnaturally bright eyes swing back towards Gilles at the mention of the Ghostmother. "Now /that/ sounds like my kind of party," she says, grinning hugely. "I do so love a good ghost story. I'll be sure to ring up Mister Jacob as soon as I can. But for now..."

She hops down off of her seat, taking her half-empty coffee with her as she goes. "For now," she says again, "this old biddy's got some more clown business to be attending to. Change-of-address forms to file and all that nonsense. But it's been a pleasure, all, and I'm sure I'll see you about." And she strides off towards the door, tipping her little bowler hat to each of them in turn. "Ta."

Gilles smiles and gives something halfway between a nod and a short bow to the disturbing clown as she departs. "Progress is being made," he assures Nicolas, "but yes, it is not too rapid. We must be careful that we do not accidentally intrude on the wrong demesne as we go. I am hoping that we can establish good relations with the goblins at the market and that they will be able to assist us in such matters."

After bidding his farewells to Stasya and Gert, Nicolas turns his attention back to Gilles. He can appreciate the need for caution. "Given that none of our kind have been here before, I can only imagine. You mentioned a 'Jacob' several times. How might I get in contact with them?"

Gilles gives a slight shrug of his shoulders. "You could try leaving him a note here," he says. "I believe I have heard that he is the owner of a place called Ravenstone, though I could not tell you where that is located unfortunately. I have only recently arrived and I am still finding my bearings a bit."

"Ah." Nicolas gives a polite nod. "Sorry. You seem very well informed so I assumed you'd been here for a time. I suppose even the 'old hands' have only been here a few weeks longer, so we're all still getting our bearings." He follows this with a more decisive nod. "I'll try leaving him a message. Thank you." There's a pause before the Fairest tries to turn the conversation back toward the local Hedge. "I don't suppose you've heard anything about the rules for this goblin market, have you?"

Gilles shakes his head. "We were not given any specific rules," he says, "though I am sure it is much like any other market. No violence will be tolerated and all deals are final. None of the goblins I dealt with seemed to feel the need to warn me of any unseen pitfalls and I did not have the feeling I was being led toward any. La Mere Fantome seems to run things, but I think that may be by consent. She is the wise old woman and matriarch and the others simply would not think of disobeying her beyond perhaps some minor mischief. I have only been there the one time, however, so I hardly know all their secrets yet."

Nicolas adopts a thoughtful expression as he listens to the details Gilles provides. "I see. Thank you. That's very helpful." He pauses to consider for a second. "So this 'La Mere Fantome' seems to be the one to speak to. Did you get any impression of what she might like or dislike, other than ghosts?"

Gilles smiles a bit wryly and says, "She was happy to take the rest of the beer that I had brought for samples," he says. "Given her age I do not think I would try to win her favor with perfumes or frippery but she might enjoy something new. Perhaps a recording and a player? I think whatever you give her you should make it something that shows you have given her thought and are not merely attempting to buy her with pretty baubles. She is shrewed enough that I think she would see through such things and might take offense, even if she did not show it."

"Sound advice," Nicolas agrees after hearing Gilles' take on the hob. "And much appreciated. I will have to give it some thought." He's clearly not about to rush into anything, given the uncertainty involved. Then he glances down at his wristwatch and frowns faintly to himself. "Thank you again for the information, but I'm afraid I must be off. I'm supposed to look at an apartment today."

Gilles gives a nod of his head and a smile. "Of course," he says, "Stop in at L'Auberge if you have any more questions. You can usually find me there."

"Excellent." Nicolas offers a polite smile and a nod. "I will have to give your establishment a try when I have the time." Then he steps back and prepares to go. "Good bye."