The Kingdom - Born on the Bayou

skullandscythe 2013-09-15 22:20:18
"Yes, I'm pretty sure, Ma," Red says with a sigh as he pours himself some moonshine. "Martin's Cityfolk. Raised in a monastery, to boot." He takes a sip; hisface scrunches up for a moment, then relaxes a little as he lets out an 'ah' if satisfaction.

Red turns to look at Pops. "Sounds like now's a good time to talk family business, before any more accusations get tossed about here."
Gatac 2013-09-17 13:40:56
"I assure you, Ma'am, the fur is a recent development," Martin says, his words already slurring slightly from the tall glass of moonshine. "And I don't know anything about disco toes, I was hoping you or your husband or Renard might...elucidate."
punkey 2013-09-20 15:58:29
Never one to leave well enough alone, Martin - now fully aware of the alcohol content of the beverage, but already too soused to care - pours himself a second glass from the pitcher and takes another hearty drag from it. Ah, that’s better than that monastery quote-unquote beer; Martin lets out a purr as the ethanol slides down his throat. Martin's intoxication makes Lucius' surreptitious grab of the jug of high-test booze away from the drunken rakasta monk all the easier, the assassin sliding it to the other side of the table as Martin begins to slump further against Ozzy's side, purring.

Pops raises an eyebrow. "Well, I believe that you boys - and lady - deserve your elucidation." He clears his throat. "As Renard well knows, the Descoteaux clan have disputed our borders for about as long as we've had borders to dispute. It's never amounted to much other than a few dirty looks and fights in Placerville, but now..." Pops shakes his head. "They've changed. They stopped coming into town and keep to themselves, and they've raided some of our smaller towns four times the last three months. And what's worse, my boys say they ain't human no more."
"They're part animal, they say," Ma says. She nods towards Martin. "Like your friend here, but different. I wouldn't believe such a crazy thing, but Beau saw one with his own two eyes, and he swore it looked like Tommy Descoteaux, but with a rat's head on his shoulders." She shivers. "Damnedest thing I've ever heard."
"'Tis why your sisters aren't at the table, Renard," Pops adds. "Not sure what the situation with your hairy friend here is." He shakes his head again. "Worst thing, making us give up our hospitality, but that's how it is."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-09-20 16:11:43
Ozzy nods. "There's dark work about and make no mistake. Us n' your boy Red's been all over the Kingdom fighting a bunch o' bad-blooded evil bastards, and our path seems like to lead us to this Descotaux lot."
Gatac 2013-09-20 16:15:54
"I can see that being the cause of concern," Martin slurs, still somehow able to keep up with the conversation. "When did these...changes start? Anybody new in town who might be connected?"
punkey 2013-09-20 16:23:05
"Not that we've heard -" Pops mumbles.
"Not that we'd know," Ma adds. "The Descoteaux and Sauveterre don't mingle."
CrazyIvan 2013-09-23 21:35:04
"Then perhaps those of us not easily identifiable should head into town tomorrow and...ask about."
skullandscythe 2013-09-24 08:37:25
"Thinking much the same thing, myself," Red says as he takes a swig of moonshine. Then he turns to Pops soberly.

"How much have we lost so far?"
punkey 2013-10-02 06:21:02
Pops sighs. "Fifteen good men. All guards, we've kept the Descoteaux out of the villages so far, thank the Gods. As for heading into town and asking about, can't hurt I suppose," he replies, nodding to Anata. "But tonight, you're all our guests. Eat and drink all you wish."
"Flora! Marcelle! Marielle!" Ma shouts. "Come to dinner!"

Three young women - one in her late 20's, one in her mid 20's, and one that can't be much older than 19, all with what must be Ma's original brown hair - come strolling through various doors into the dining room. All three are dressed in overalls and tunics, the oldest two much dirtier than the youngest, probably from working around the village or outside it. The youngest seems to have a smile just for Red as she sits down.
Ma turns back to the group. "These are our daughters, Flora -" the oldest gives a quick nod as she takes a seat, "- Marcelle -" the middle daughter doesn't even look over as she stacks her plate, "- and Marielle."
The youngest - Marielle - nods and smiles to the group. "How're y'all doin'?" she asks in a soprano voice.
skullandscythe 2013-10-04 15:15:10
Red nods at Marielle as she sits, but it's clear his mind is elsewhere. He stares off into space as he listens, sipping his moonshine with a frown.
Gatac 2013-10-04 15:27:50
"Quite well!" Martin says, swaggering a little from the substantial amount of alcohol in his system. "Quite well indeed, Miss."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-10-07 12:15:07
Ozzy nods to the girls as they enter, and then otherwise spends his effort trying to not speak after that, because everything that comes to mind runs a chance of getting him into trouble.
punkey 2013-11-02 16:47:25
The rest of dinner proceeds in awkward silence punctuated by short moments of small talk. Martin goes from talkative to drowsy to leaning over against Lucius, his arms wrapped around him for a moment before the assassin gently glides Martin forward to the table to have a bit of a nap. After dinner, the team is lead to the guest rooms in the large house (Martin having woken up long enough to be helped into his bed), and then left to their own devices as the peepers and croakers in the swamp wake up and start singing their amphibian songs.
Gatac 2013-11-02 16:50:46
Now, normally, being good and drunk should help Martin sleep, but it's too hot in the bed and too exposed on it, so finally he just pulls the bedding to the floor and shoves it under the frame. It's a tight fit, but comforting in a way, and so Martin curls up in his little improvised alcove, purring contently as he falls asleep to the sounds of his next breakfast.
skullandscythe 2013-11-03 16:08:27
Red leans out the window of his guest room, still cradling his mug of moonshine(now quite full again). The sleepy little village looks unchanged from his time here, but it’s the wildlife that give away the mood of the place; no birds flying overhead, no shadows flitting between trees at the edge of the wood. Red doesn’t ever remember it being like that before, and the sudden thought of it makes him take another shot of his moonshine.

The buzz of alcohol in his head proper now, he shuts the window and sits on the bed and tries to keep the booze-thoughts out of his head. He didn’t want to have to come back, here, so full of memories; memories of Pa teaching him how to use magic while up to his waist in muck, memories of Beau glowering at him across the table, memories of smiling at village girls and watching them blush, and the memory - THE memory - of shivering, cold and soaking and hungry, curled up under a dead oak, pressing rough bark against his bloody wound and staring into the swampy murk, wondering how deep it was.

Too many memories here, to keep them locked away forever.

There’s a knock at the door, and Marielle sticks her head through the door, her light brown hair still kept in the same ponytail it was when he...well, when he was here last. “Heeyy, Red,” she says in a singsong voice. She slips into the room and shuts the door behind him. “You want to say that we’re alone?”

Another memory floats by in his head, and Red put his mug down on the nightstand. “Hey, Mari,” he says. He pauses, and asks, “Beau back yet?”

“Been back for hours, but he’s asleep.” Marielle slides up next to Red, her soft accent still sounding as sweet and innocent as ever.

Red gets up then, and goes to the window. If he focuses right, he can see the moon’s reflection in the window and not hers. “How’s everybody been? This...this war, it sounds like it’s been going on for a while, as far as these things go. It’s gotta eat at them.”

Marielle looks sad at the thought. “It’s been tense. Pa hasn’t let on much, but the losses we’ve taken...they wear on him terribly. Flora and Beau do what they can to help, but...I might be the youngest, but I know what’s going on. They’re concerned something fierce.”

“And you?” Red says. The question’s reflexive, but in his head he’s kicking himself. The moonshine. Bad idea, coming home to roost.

“Been fine,” Marielle says. She comes up behind him, presses herself up against him and sticks her hands in his shirt. “Been missing you.”

Red jerks away, involuntary. “I...It’s a bad idea, Mari. I got a long day tomorrow, and I, I’m tired,” he says apologetically.

“What’s wrong with a little foolin’ around, then?” Marielle asks, pretending to pout.

“Mari, this ain’t the, the time. I’ve heard tell of the, the thing, the queen bitch behind this, and -” Red takes a deep breath, then two. “I need to be at my best for this, Mari.”

“And I don’t...bring out the best in you?” she asks, her hand snaking south past his belt.

“No!” hisses in his head and his mouth as he jerks away, this time completely. “I’m not in the mood, Mari, what’s-” Red bites down on his next words, and turns to look at her in the eyes. “Mari, please, I - I’m just not in the mood.”

Marielle actually looks hurt this time. "Well, fine," she half-whispers. "Just say that next time." She walks halfway to the door before turning back to Red. "Good to see you again, Renard," she says, still with that playful smile, only slightly muted. "Really."

Red opens his mouth, closes it, then smiles softly and says “Good to see you too, Mari. Really.”

She smiles at him one last time and saunters out, giving her hips an extra shake on her way out.

The door shuts. Smile gone, Red stares at it, and not at it, for one minute, two.Then he turns, slowly, and curls up in the moonlight on the floor, back leaning against the bed, knees pressed against his chin.

“What have I done?” he whispers his question to the moon. What he doesn’t expect is a response, whispered into his ear like some sweet nothing.

“Just the only thing you’re good at…’Renard.’”

Red stiffens, and looks around wildly. The only possible culprits are the walls and the bed, and maybe the mug of moonshine.
But when Red finally falls asleep, it’s curled up on the floor, arms wrapped around his legs, leaning against the bed with one ear angled up and out.
CrazyIvan 2013-11-04 16:08:31
A small packet of seeds tucked in a pocket, Ana manages to hold up her fair share of the dinner conversation, much of the rest of the motley little band having fallen silent with the dueling impulses to be good guests, and to be good guests in the presence of three young women. She bids her hosts goodnight, thanking them again for their hospitality and the seeds, before retiring to her room.

Removing her boots, she sits down on the bed, staring out at the moon, and the swamp beyond. There was something strange about it, something...intimidating. The feeling of being surrounded, but without the comfort of the high walls and structures of the city.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-11-04 16:56:49
Ozzy thought the swamp would have been quiet compared to the City. It was quieter, perhaps, but it weren't quiet. What's worse is it was loud in all the wrong ways. Wasn't no people what made the noises Ozzy heard under a moon shadowed by cloud and tree. It was hot, too, once again, not City hot, but... humid. Ozzy could feel his feet glowering at him from the end of the bed, where they just barely managed to poke out from under the sheet, already on its way from a fairly pristine beige to a night-sweat-soaked tan. Eventually the night droned on, and it got cold enough that the sweat chilled Ozzy to sleep.
e of pi 2013-11-05 23:21:29
It's not the heat, Horea used to say, it's the humidity. Anton can't help but be reminded of this as the muggy warmth of the swamp night soaks his sheets in sweat. He kicks at them and rolls over fitfully, trying to find a comfortable position where the sounds of the insects and animals of the swamp can't reach him. Thunderer blasted piece of miserable waste, he thinks. Why anyone would want to live here continues to escape him, even as the mystery of how anyone ever manages to sleep here finally is answered by exhaustion.
Gatac 2013-11-06 01:08:48
There’s a knock at Martin’s door - a tentative one, but a knock none the less. After a few moments of no reply, the door opens slightly to reveal the scared face of one of the house servants. “...Master...Martin?” the servant asks, peeking carefully through the door. He’s greeted by the sight of a disheveled and stripped bed, the tails of the covers poking out from underneath. Martin’s furry tail pokes out as well as he huddles under the bedframe. He stretches his limbs away from him out from under the bed, and climbs out enough to affect a yawn that seems close to dislocating his jaw as he stretches his back.

“I’m here! I’m awake!” Martin calls, sounding not quite there and certainly not quite awake. “Just...I’ll be there in a bit.”
The servant’s eyes look about as big as saucers. “B...breakfast will be served in a half-hour, Master Martin.”
“Thank you,” Martin replies, adding a din of “gnnnnnn” as he works out the kinks in his muscles. “Was there anything else?”
“ you need replacement linens?” the servant asks, defaulting to questions that might produce more easily processed answers. “Was there something wrong with the bed?”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Martin says. “Just fine. Actually, maybe a second pillow? That would be great.”
“Of course.” The servant gives a nod, steps quickly down the hallway to the nearest linens closet and retrieves a pillow before hustling back to the room. When he returns, Martin has removed himself from his little cave and started his morning stretching/exercise/grooming - anything that ventures close to his head gets good lickin’. The servant freezes in the doorway, pillow in hand, as he watches Martin slowly descend into a split-leg position, then bend forwards to groom his thigh.
“Just put it anywhere,” Martin says, looking up at the servant with a toothy smile on his muzzle.
The servant just nods, carefully puts the pillow down, and then slowly backs out of the room. “See you for breakfast!” Martin calls after him.
punkey 2013-11-06 12:12:50
Red's awoken with the knock on his door, and outside is a tray of his favorite herbal tea - someone else here remembers him. Underneath the saucer is the answer, written on a small note in florid script: "It's good to see you again, Master Renard - Olivier"


Ozzy and Anton receive a similar knock-and-peek to Martin, albeit one that's slightly less shocking due to their not having slept underneath the bed in a nest of covers, or because they're not tiger-men. Anyway, any small needs are asked for and taken care of by the house servants, and an advisory for breakfast is given. Anata's is broadly similar, except delivered by a small servant girl, no more than seven or eight years old. She smiles and curtsies for Anata on her way in and out, and as she leaves, Anata can hear her skip down the hallway.

Lucius' wake up call is a bit more of an ordeal, however. Not because of any particularly deep sleep on his part - he was awake by the first knock and alert by the second - but because he had rearranged the furniture...quite drastically. The bedside stand and a chest was moved to provide full coverage under the bed from the doorway, the window was lashed shut with a leather bootlace, and towels were stuffed in the crack under the door. It was the last one that made the servant's job of opening the door quite impossible, until Lucius opened it for him.
"Yes," Lucius gruffly asked, knife in hand. It's far too early for niceties.
"B-breakfast in a ha-half-hour, Master Lucius," the young servant says, giving Lucius' dagger a terrified look.
Lucius grunts and then closes the door in the servant's face.
"Is there anything else you need?" the servant boy asks, too afraid to open the door.
"No," Lucius grunts back, and waits to hear the pattered running cadence of the boy's bare feet on the floor before he returns to packing and selecting his gear for the day to come. Town work, so, the brown cloak and hood. Probably bring the full pick and rake set, and some extra chalk for my hands. Only one set of daggers, but... He fingers his thin, flexible concealed blade. This and the belt punch knife. He pulls out a small vial of green liquid and looks at it for a moment before sliding it into a concealed pocket. Poison's always in style.

His hands come across one other vial in his gear, and Lucius pulls it out. This one contains something very different, very black, and very thick - the same black bile that Lucius vomited up after being captured by the Abbot. Lucius holds the vial up to the morning light - not a single mote shines through, and in fact, Lucius can feel the blackness pull in a bit of heat from his fingers through the glass. He grunts as he gives the vial's contents a hateful glare, and then puts it back in his gear.