Logs:Pledging To The Ashen Court

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Pledging To The Ashen Court


Characters: Peter, Lilium, Natalya, Gretchen, Seraphine and Odile
Date: 2019-12-14
Summary: In the waning days of Autumn, Peter Vhorman pledges his loyalty to the Ashen Court, with Odile serving as the Season's proxy.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

Friday the 13th. Is there a better time for members of Autumn Court to be gathering? Yes, literally any other day. Old superstitions have roots in truth, so it is Saturday the 14th that use of the old, simple bookstore in Metairie has been arranged for a gathering of Autumn changelings. In the interest of keeping things simple, a small round table has been cleared of books. There is a hurricane lantern set up on a shelf, and candleboxes placed around the meeting area. A sign. hangs in the window, 'Lovecraftian Counseling Club: Members Only'.

Peter has taken quite a few liberties tonight to set things up, and taken care of keeping the place empty with a decent bribe. And some flattery. He wears a clean black suit, tonight, and refined silver spectacles, looking almost like a government agent. There is a small wire cage on the table, with a white rabbit in it, a inkpot and quill, and a stack of paper.

The chill outside reaches into the shop, and any arrivals are announced by the jingle of bells above the door.

--

For all Lilium has the tendency to amble around like a guileless baby bird, the Spring courtier is the only interloper along for the ride to attend the Autumn swearing in. It would seem she was already here, too. She comes ambling out from a stack of books with her attention buried in Historia Regum Britonniae. Her little round framed wiry silver spectacles aren't ruined by anything like lenses, and left loose, her hair falls in a near waist length curtain of soft silver-platinum waves around her. Mixing her own more colorful aesthetic with darker autumn hues, the bright pink slashes in her glittery black sweater dress are a near shocking contrast. For the first time anyone has seen, she is wearing makeup. It's subtle though, just a hint of metallic charcoal colored shimmer darkening her lashline in a cat eye taper.

--

No jingling from the door, not when this woman is concerned, as silent as a shadow whenever she wants to be. For the briefest moments, the darkened nooks and crannies in the shop seem to come alive, parting like midnight rendered into silk; a slim, white leg steps out of the intangible mass before Odile Devereux's slender, black-clad form slips out of the abyssal ripples, and leaves the them behind. Never one, naturally, to leave her signature color and once she emerges, she is as elegant as she always is - a living, breathing chiaroscuro made striking by her monochromatic palette and the occasional pops of vibrant color; a wide-brimmed hat obscures half her face, leaving the point of a delicate chin and the lurid color of her scarlet lipstick all the more stark, there are layered strands of pearls closed over her throat, and a matching cuff on her wrist. Today's outfit is Versace, sleek and made to hug her lines like a jealous lover, high-collared but cut in a way that leaves her shoulders and back bare. A double-breasted military-style coat with silver-and-obsidian epaulets is draped over the frame they make, to keep her modest.

"Hm," she says, hidden eyes strafing over the decor and the set-up. "I don't believe I've been here before." Her smile flashes in the dark, like a flint struck before a fire, brilliant and unforgivably white. "Mister Vhorman. A fine night, I think, to trade away your soul." To Lilium, there's a tip of her head. "Mademoiselle."

She says it as if it's the most important thing one of their lot can ever do, or the foolhardiest. Heels high enough to make walking a precarious enterprise, and thin enough to cause substantial injury, stride across the hard floors. Stilettos are aptly named; they certainly look painful, but the ex-ballerina makes it look effortless. Then again, she has spent most of her natural life on her toes.

--

One red rose in her hair, one in her hand, and a dress that doesn't belong to anything but an Autumn gathering -- too strange for her usual job, formal enough in its leaves-and-ashes motley pattern, somehow unfashionable in the best way. Natalya looks almost like she's in costume, though no one would pass her on the street and whisper about it. It's an impression given. She's a prompt enough jingle, and navigates back to Peter's back-room witnessing like someone who frequents this particular shop quite often -- she doesn't need to check the sign or the path inside. She does, by contrast, jingle an alert when she arrives.

"Good evening. Nice choices, Peter, if these are yours," Talya says of the decor, looking pensive and holding up her flower in a strange kind of salute. "I'm not sure how many of us we expect but -- Hello," she offers to Odile. "I think we've been near-missing one another. I'm sorry for that."

--

Lately Seraphine has not been showing her true self out and about, and so she enters the Autumn gathering looking like any other person off the street. Fortunately Peter and Lilium know her and can vouch for her rightful place in the Autumn court. She gives Peter and Lilium a little finger wave and a big smile, and smiles for everyone else she does or doesn't know. Then she finds a place to sit and quietly waits.

--

Rising and offering a bow to Odile, he flashes a shifty smile, but when his the dancer of the darkness addresses him, it turns to one of mirth. "Lady Devereux, a pleasure to have you." He glances at the flowers but doesn't not comment, instead pulling out a chair for her.

There is a sly wink for Lilium before he pulls out her chair too, to the right of his own. "This is exciting." A jingle announces the next two, and Peter bows to Natalya, "Lady Valentine, you look immaculate. Thank you for coming." As some sign or stranger signal, he taps the briefcase by his chair with a glossy black shoe, as if to draw it to her attention.

Then he is approaching Seraphine, offering a hug, "Sweet one, so glad you could make it, Lady Seraphine." He pulls out her chair, to his left and then stands behind his own.

"There is a story about Autumn being caught by the first of the Refugees of Arcadia, and she was caught with a story. I'm honored to have you all here for the beginning of this one, my dance in the leaves, my foray into Fall. Please, have a seat. I have a gift for you all, following my speech, after I make my Pledge. Who will be representing Autumn Court here tonight?"

--

At 5'11, 6'4 when one counts the horns, Lilium basically dwarfs Seraphine, but ambles over to catch her up in a long armed hug anyhow, smiling between her and Peter, after offering waves to Odile and Natalya on their arrival. Taking this as a cue that things are about to get started, she folds the tome closed, and slips both arms around it, just a little nervous with this being her first Autumn Court thing attended. Can't kill the smile she wears though, no. She asks Natalya in a soft aside, "Can I steal you to ask you some vaguely work related stuff after the ceremony?" So, Economics, right?

--

Natalya's hello earns her a tip of her head, angled high enough that her eyes are nearly visible underneath the shadows of her hat, glinting like lightning-blue fireflies. "Doctor Valentine, yes?" she identifies, ever a woman of information, extending an alabaster hand tipped with fingernails just as red as her smile, an offered handshake. "Odile Devereux. I've been meaning to speak with you about a particularly dangerous, but incredibly interesting matter that I believe you have the background to parse. Coffee, soon? With my friend, Louis Verte, to whom I understand you're acquainted." The new face, Seraphine, gets an appraising glance, but if there's any doubts on the woman's face that she is one of her fellow courtiers, there is no sign.

With Peter pulling out a chair for her, she acknowledges the gentlemanly gesture with a nod. "Merci," she murmurs, slinging her jacket over to the back of her seat before situating herself at her designated place, long legs tucking by the knee. "Fae are creatures of stories," she says. "So it is only fitting. If need be, Mister Vhorman, I'll represent the Ashen Court, though I trust that the leaves will hear you, while the Fall remains at sway. A few more days yet, I believe, before Winter takes over."

--

"Natalya. Taly to friends. But yes, Doctor Valentine if you love formality -- I'm easygoing unless you've crossed me. And I'm always interested in opportunities, dangerous or no. Louis is delightful, so I can leave you my card and we can make arrangements," the odd-faced Fairest suggests to Odile, though there's a moment when she sits where she goes quite still, looking between faces through dramatically slitted eyes before relaxing into her over-potent typical expression. It might be scrutiny of Seraphine, since she relaxes once Peter acknowledges her more directly.

--

Seraphine is delighted when both Peter and Lilium approach for hugs. She embraces them warmly and then sits down to Peter's left, smiles at Natalya and Odile. Lilium whispers something to her and she returns a whispered response.

--

Peter seats himself, and laces his hands together atop the table, fixing his gaze upon Odile now. His expression has become serious, and he asks, "How shall I begin?"

--

Aside from the whispering, after the sole question to Natalya, Lilium is remarkably quiet and still and composed, listening to Peter, then looking to Odile and Natalya in turn before her bright lapis eyes return to the dragon in suit and spectacles.

--

"Is 'once upon a time' too traditional?" Natalya wonders, and perhaps not entirely seriously. There's a glance after to Lilium, a faint nod, as if sneaking in a subtle answer to that question under the radar before returning attention to Peter, hands still folded around the rose she carries.

--

There is a pause, and the stillness of bodies in the room adds to the sudden, eerie silence. Silhouettes dance upon times that soak up sound, a pale orange glow permeating everything as those shadow bodies dance upon rows and rows of spines.

--

"It's less of a love for formality as it is due respect afforded to a title so strenuously earned. I hear Academia is akin to bloodied waters teeming with sharks, and difficult to navigate and thrive in unless one is a shark, herself." Odile's mouth curls up further in the corners. "But yes, Doctor. Later." She leans back against her seat, hidden eyes taking in the collective, but that visible smile doesn't waver.

With the ceremony underway, she gestures for Peter to stand. "You begin by facing me," she says. "And tell me who you are, or rather, how you would like the Season to know you. An introduction, if you will. The Truth is a powerful lubricant to coax something larger and grander than yourself to provide its intercession, blessings, and protection, but as this is the Ashen Court, subterfuge is accepted and respected here. Thus, you can be as creative as you wish."

Her head tilts back, gleaming blue eyes glittering from underneath the shadows of her hat. "Tell the Season who you are, Mr. Vhorman. Or if you're not quite certain, yourself, tell the Lady Autumn who you wish to become as her courtier."

--

Rapt fascination now roots Lilium silent to her seat. No longer does the stillness have the faint antsy overtones of a child trying to be good in church.

--

Peter tells Lilium, "Wish me luck." He rises and smoothes out his tie, before bending to open his briefcase. He sets the small tinsel crown he pulls out upon the table before him.

The white rabbit in the cage hops to it's corner and quakes subtly with apprehension and confusion.

The Fairest Draconic Author speaks with the history of stage-acting at his back, and his voice, though not loud, echoes through the shop's furthest rooms.

"Season of Autumn, the Leaden Mirror,

I come to you afraid, but honest and open.
I am Peter Vhorman, a playwright and actor, who used the stage to escape my captor.
I will to become the ruler, servant, and Knight I played,
And wield the emotion I've felt in every moment I've had since I stepped into the Hedge.
I will to become Mr. Grieves, the character of terror portrayed to aid in my Ascension.
That is who I am. That is who I will become."

He falls silent but remains standing.

--

Natalya goes playing-card still -- she could be sitting for a portrait, or studying her next move, other than the way her fingers tighten on the rose's stem she holds as if to hold it back from being flung to Peter in its own kind of comment. Not yet, there, mouth turning slightly naturally down, the way her face falls when she's absorbing what's around her.

--

If Lilium recognizes the name 'Mr. Grieves', she doesn't seem to register it. Her hands clasp slowly and she wets her bottom lip, looking from the rabbit to Peter and back and back to Peter again. She slowly claps, though, quietly, almost subdued, not wanting to get too loud in the shop but wanting to offer some kind of recognition or acknowledgement of the words spoken, be it her place or no.

--

For a moment, there is nothing but silence and stillness; Odile's attention appears affixed upon the standing, suited man, her scrutiny bordering on razor-sharp, and as precise as a scalpel - as if attempting to peel the onion-skin layers of him in an effort to get to the seat of his soul. She may be forgiven, for forgetting that she is presiding, but not with the way she is presently regarding the potential new member to their ranks. When she speaks, it's with the same, smooth confidence she always exhibits, kissed with the breath of distant Paris: "Your fear is welcome here, Peter Vhorman," the woman replies. "Fear is the Leaden Mirror's most paramount virtue, and primary weapon. I, Odile Devereux, accept this consideration on behalf of the Fallen Leaves."

She rises from her seat at that, reaching into her purse to pull out a retractable metal rod, which she extends with a flick of her wrist sideways, the length of it gleaming under ambient light; like a foil, and she the fencer. Thankfully, however, there's no blade.

From her end of the table, she extends it to Peter, the end of it resting against his heart. He'd feel it then, sense the whiff of it - of ozone and electricity, the scent of falling leaves and harvest spices, the chilly bite of Autumn's breath and the storms that rage and thrum within the metal she holds.

"Repeat after me, Peter Vhorman," she murmurs, twisting the end of the rod gently against his heart. "I promise on my faith, my fear, my suffering - what I have endured, and what I endure, and what I will endure, that I will remain faithful to the Leaden Mirror. To never cause it, or its subjects and its constituents, any harm, and will observe my homage to the Ashen Court completely against all threats."

--

Peter closes his eyes, stiffening for just a moment at the touch of the metal rod. Silence reigns again for a beat and he speaks.

"I, Peter Vhorman, promise on my faith, my fear, my suffering - what I have endured, and what I endure, and what I have endured - that I will remain faithful to the Leaden Mirror. To never cause it, or its subjects and its constituents, any harm, and will observe my homage to the Ashen Court completely against all threats."

He opens his eyes.

--

Natalya drops the rose once Peter has spoken his words and put his promise into it; she's surrounded in that aura of smoke on the wind that is her particular hallmark of mantle, tangling with the flower that only seems to dare to shed any of its petals once she lets it go from its deathgrip. She's still quiet as if she's arbiting a match, and just as attentive.

--

The words and gestures are so simple, but the Ashen Court was never known for its grandeur. Shadows whisper at every syllable of the oath uttered, speaking softly in his ears, echoing his own words back to him. The world outside seems to come alive, for a moment or two, steeped in the riotous colors of the ending Autumn; leaves spill against the windows, buffeted by the chilly air, gnarled branches tap a staccato against the panes, mimicking battle drums at march. The musty scent seeping from so many old books within the store fades away, suddenly replaced - of freshly tilled earth, of disturbed minerals, and vegetation growing ripe to the point of a brown and fertile death.

After several moments that simultaneously feel too short, and not long enough, the wind dies and the storm of leaves fades away, leaving nothing but silence once more, and the scent of the flower that Natalya holds.

Odile lowers the rod, and retracts it back to its shorter length. "With this pledge, the Ashen Court welcomes you, Peter Vhorman, and so do its courtiers. You may present your offerings, and know that they will be accepted in good faith."

--

Noticing that no one else claps, after about the third time her palms meet, Lilium lowers her hands, and goes back to that anxious quiet, watching in rapt quiet with big blue eyes drinking in every detail of the moment as it unfolds. She looks from Odile to Peter, Natalya to the rose, and back to Peter, even as she reaches behind Peter to steal one of Seraphine's hands to squeeze. She slowly pulls off the lenseless wire frames with the slender fingers of her other hand.

--

Seraphine claps too, LIlium might not have noticed. But she gives her a big grin when Lilium squeezes her hand. They're both elated for Peter. "I must slip out. I'm so sorry to miss the rest but congratulate Peter when it's all done for me." She says these words to Lilium in just barely a whisper and then slips out as quiet as a mouse.

--

Placing his hands upon the tinsel crown, Peter grins, and as unsettling as the average Lost might find it, it's certainly changed. His shadow almost flails against the bookcase behind him when an errant breeze flicks a candle's tongue of flame.

Peter checks every face as he speaks, "This, is the Crown of Thornes, stolen from my keeper and used to help me, half my Motley, and a handful of others escape. It demands a debt to the The Hedge to be worn with intent to use, but once paid, it has dreadful and far reaching powers. An entire battle-field could be mortally wounded if the bearer paid the same price, beings mundane and otherwise can be banished into the Hedge, and it has the captivating command of any issued an official order." He tosses his brow up in slight amusement, as if enticing others to consider the power.

"I offer the knowledge of it, and use of it to fight the Fae and their agents to the Autumn Court. But warn, it is powerful and addictive." He leaves it upon the table and pulls the rabbit cage closer. "Next, a gift for just those gathered here. Lady Devereux, Doctor Valentine. Odile, Natalya.... What repository of knowledge, common or arcane, would help our cause, Autumn's Cause, in the next few weeks? Name it, and I will create it for us."

--

Natalya rubs a thumb against her mouth, then looks to Odile. "I know what things I'd like to know, largely concerning local dangers. I heard rumor of past presence of the Others, and I'd like to learn that story and that of other threats so that we can make answer." There's then the pause -- and she's licking blood from a thorn, but it's not her primary reason for the gesture and the pause, seeming to defer to Odile as Autumn's representative.

--

Acting as little more than witness and accompaniment to the guest of honor, Lilium remains quiet, listening. And if she herself seems remarkably reserved and clearheaded this night, one could speculate it because her Touchstone himself is, in some ways.

--

Her hidden eyes fall on the artifact, scarlet lips taking on a contemplative bent. "I respect its power, it's certainly something to behold," Odile murmurs softly in contemplation, fingernails tapping gently on its table. "You're generous to introduce it to us. As you are its keeper, however, I propose that its presence be hidden, and for none of us to speak of its capabilities until such a time it's absolutely necessary. The Others have no sway on this city yet, I think it's in our best interests to ensure that we keep our arsenal as covert as possible. The element of surprise is a powerful one, and one we shouldn't squander no matter how enticing the cause."

She retakes her seat at that, lashes hooding as she thinks. "Doctor Valentine's remarks are sound. We could use a library, something secret and for our exclusive use, but given my nature, of course I would say that." There's a flicker of a wry smile. "One that, I think, is equipped to track movements of the supernatural in the city. That is a particular story that holds my interest." She nods to Natalya. "And I believe I have an idea as to how to start investigating it, but give me a few days to consult my sources. A Court is not an organism that can thrive in isolation - and as Autumn is a Season of transition, we embrace change, to keep ourselves static is anathema to our principles. If we're to be strong, we will have to start paying attention to everything, even those matters that might not concern us, but might affect us. I think that can serve as a start and the rest, well. We'll see how it goes."

--

Odile notices: Lilium is in 'court mode', remaining still and quiet and poised as a consort might, her features suitably grave, features solemn and contemplative as she listens to and weighs each word; beautiful, alien, and slightly larger than life, with her stretched out form rather taller than one will find a woman nearly anywhere, once the horns are accounted for.

--

Peter nods in thoughtful acceptance of the wisdom offered and, almost greedily, slips the tinsel crown back into it's briefcase. When he reseats himself, he lays a hand on Lilium's wrist and sighs, almost resigned to a solemn fate it would seem.

He begins a speech, proclaiming his fears and desires to those gathered. From having some sort of Monarch like authority, to being hailed as a champion for the people, to amasssing large amounts of magical powers and artifacts, his desires begin ordinary to most men in a suit. When he describes his hope of having a stable, wealthy and healthy Freehold for those who can't handle their return as well as others, there's a brief glance to Lilium, though with kind eyes. His fears become known, as he continues, relating how is afraid his Keeper released him only as a plot to once again 'play the dragon ascending the throne', a recurring role in his Durance. He informs the feminine trio of how he's afraid he'll be seen as some insane demagogue instead of a benevolent aspirant, his fear of rejection or disapproval. His fear of losing his motley.

Finally, as he reaches into rabbit cage, Peter draws out the bunny and holds it over the stack of paper. "I desire to consort with the other beings in this city, investigate the local Dangers' and forge alliances and pledges where wise, but only gather information and understanding where our safety is threatened." *Crack* The bones snapping inside in the bunny's form mix with its short cry of pain and hysteria, until blood drips from its still and broken body onto white paper.

--

Natalya allows for Odile's agreement with a certain tip of her head, some confidence, and the subtlest of expressions that hints at bigger interest when Odile suggests she has a lead on important questions. It's the gesture of someone used to being firm in any opinion offered or truth shared, and a hunger for knowledge. But she stays quiet when Peter sets up the plans with all the Wyrd behind him, listening to his litany with that same hyper-attention, possibly missing anything else but the ritual he enacts with bunny-blood ink and sacrifice of his own secrets.

--

There is a passive study of the hand on Lilium's wrist, and her deep lapis eyes meet his at his look to her, not missing it's implication, but also not flinching or revealing any particular response. They shift back to the rabbit when Peter breaks its throat, but she barely blinks, fully containing the flinch you just /know/ she has forced down to maintain the appearance of poise as she sits at Peter's right hand.

--

She has traded her mantle as a performer whose origins are similar to Peter's, himself, to that of an occasional sorceress by necessity; there is nothing but detached interest in her expression at the rabbit's pitiful squeaks, before its life is ended for the good of the court. "Ashes to ashes," Odile murmurs in quiet acknowledgment, tasting the shifting threads prompted by the sacrifice in the air. She sups on it with a breath, rolls it against her tongue, as if savoring the tantalizing drip of magic. Better, and worse, than any drug.

"I have heard your words, Peter Vhorman, and accept them to be true. And with this life, I take custody of these offerings on behalf of the Leaden Mirror, to be relinquished to its wisdom, herein, and declare this pledging ended," the woman says, and while her words do not go above a murmur, they carry somehow, amplified by the lurking dark corners of the dimly-lit space. She tucks the metal rod she used in Peter's swearing, closing her purse, and starts to rise from her seat. She withdraws a white card from its pocket, and offers it to Natalya, bearing her name and smartphone number.

"If nothing else, the following days are bound to be interesting," she says, the devil plucking at the pliant line of her mouth.

--

Peter can't help but chuckle, "Interesting indeed." Peter offers his own sort of card, a folded piece of paper with a motel and room number listed, and below a phone number, though no name is attached. To each, he states, "If you need to get ahold of me in any circumstance. Thank you both for being here." He gathers up the book and reaches for his suitcase, "Peter thought this went well, and felt relieved nothing disastrous happened. He was impressed by Lilium's decor, but he always knew she was an excellent actor."

--

It takes several seconds too long for Natalya to fully pull her attention back to something normal and centered, so Odile's offered card hangs in the air just awkwardly enough. But she snaps to attention, then fishes in a sleeve to find a card of her own. "This is me," she says, swapping the names and numbers with a face that doesn't quite fall back to a smile right away. Degrees of letting go of the ritual of it all, and still in the mode of studying everyone around her like the competition. "Lilium? Would you like to go for coffee this week as well? Since you have things to talk to me about. I know a place I like very much."

--

And everyone thought the worst was over. Thought. But everyone has forgotten one very very important thing.

Gretchen.

There is a sound, a shuffle, and that low thrum of a purr, followed by the opening of blue slitted eyes and the growing expanse of the grin of rows of white sharp, teeth. All from the darkness of...

... Underneath Nata's skirts. There is a moments pause, a sniffing of the air, then finally a whine.

"Isn't there supposed to be food at these?"

--

Peter starts for a moment, then takes a step back, telling Natalya's skirts. "I'm sorry, there was only one rabbit left at the pet store." He didn't expect a Gretchen, but that was his own mistake. "We're actually heading out to eat, me and Lily Anne, if you'd like to join us?" He offers the obligatory glance to Natalya and Odile, "Any of you."

--

She takes both Peter's and Natalya's cards, and they vanish between alabaster fingers, as if simply dematerializing into thin air. A glance to Gretchen - or rather, the professor's talking skirt, brows lifting in subtle inquiry. "I'm very much looking forward to it, witnessing the things you'll do." Odile inclines her head to Peter, and then smiles to both women who remain. "And while I would love to join you, I'm afraid business and leisure call me elsewhere. I'm certain, however, that this is hardly the last time I'll be encountering any of you. Adieu, monsieur. Mademoiselles." Another smile, flaring, white, but altogether brief, before she turns around, and simply walks towards the back of the room where the darkness awaits, to covetously twine around her like paramours long deprived, silvers of luminous skin swallowed in the ink bath that provides until she is gone.

--

"I would very much cherish the opportunity to do so, my Lady," Lilium tells Natalya. Back straight, she gives her head a deep dip so it looks like her shoulders are just shy of rolling forward themselves. "May I inqu-..." And then there is a Gretchen. Courtly manners interrupted by the sudden whine of the question of food, she just grins from ear to ear. Composure=shattered. She nods vigorously at Peter's invitation, smiling again at the Gretchen. "More than anything else, I was wondering if you could somehow help me gather what might be necessary to enroll at the college for the first semester of next year," Lilium confesses to Natalya. "I don't know what I'm doing, I never went to a day of school."

--

"Please don't eat my knees. They're the only ones I've got," Natalya says goodhumoredly to the voice under her skirts. "Though I do have a granola bar tucked somewhere, do you want it?" A small laugh, a wave cast to the departing Odile, and she notes, "I can't stay to eat either. Grading. You have no idea how much paperwork. As much as you put forth tonight, with less use but possibly more blood on the page." As she says this, she fishes for the granola bar. The bell sleeves of her dress must double as pockets, because she does in fact fish out an only-slightly-squashed bar from one of them as she answers Lilium: "Identification, convincing fake or real; test scores, a completed application, letters of recommendation help. As the short answer. Do you need someone to walk you through it?" There is no objection to Lilium going straight to college whatsoever.

--

"Mmmnnnh, I had thought I had smelled fish." Comes the voice of the Gretch, followed by another short sniff at the air. But slowly she shifts and her voice changes more towards excitement. "Yes." to either the offer of dinner, or the granola bar, likely both.