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Seas Of Erin > Tir-Nan-Og > To court the honeyed heart from your side
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 05:23 AM
The rushing dark had fallen cold when Morgana finally appeared, timidly brushing open the tent-flap, uncertain as to how many sleepers she had to contend with. "Babben?" she whispered into the dark.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 05:30 AM
Marcello was not quite asleep. He was in one of those trancelike states one falls into in the middle of waking up and falling back to sleep. So his eyes were shut, and he was burrowed under the blankets, and his head was toeing a fine line between dreaming and wakefulness, where images were rushing through his head but not quite enough to stick.
He stirred at the sound, pulling the blankets away from his face.
"I don't know what that means," he informed the air, still half asleep. "Did you say rabbit? I don't think they we eating yet. That's very inconsiderate of y--"
Then he blinked. "Oh."
And sat up, then pushed himself away from the sleeping girl. "Morgana."
He rubbed at his eyes. "I think I was still asleep."
He scrambled to his feet, reaching to clap the woman on the shoulder. "How are you?"
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 05:37 AM
"Not so well. I've been seeing to the queen." Morgana's braid had, over the course of the past day or so, come so nearly to unpinned as to be less of a braid and more of a wild frizzy rope attached to the back of her head. She brushed loose strands away from her hollow face. "She's so feverish from iron that I can't tell if she's infected. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad one, in our position."
Half-asleep on her feet herself, she drifted past him to Niabheara, lowering herself to the ground to first touch the girl's face, then stroke her back. "She was conscious earlier. Did she speak to you?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 05:43 AM
The man sighed, then nodded. "That's why I wanted you here," he answered. "I've been to the king; he...he said he gave me the cure, and...she was coughing, but not as badly as before. Only...I promised him the queen back, if he cured us."
He rubbed at his temples, looking to Niabheara. "Was she still delirious?" he asked quietly. "She...she didn't seem delirious. But she asked me to take her away. And you."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 05:54 AM
Morgana looked up with sharp distrust, her eyes nearly pale enough to glow in the dark. "I don't know if Her Majesty can be moved," she said. "I can barely get near her. The ward I laid on her has mostly flaked away. She's so strong, I can't believe how strong she is, even now. I'm afraid she's going to hold me off until she's beyond helping. May be he will have to come for her."
She cupped Niabheara's cheek under her hand. "She wasn't entirely out of herself when she spoke to me," she said in a softer tone. "She knew where she was, and she remembered enough to ask if Mother had come yet. I don't believe she knows she's only been ill for two days." She carried on stroking the girl's hair as she looked up to Marcello. "Marcello. She might have agreed to it now, but if the time comes, I don't know that she won't object. And I can't leave. My husband's waiting for me to come back."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 05:59 AM
The young man looked uncomfortably at Morgana. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I-- I don't think Niabheara thought of it, but I'm afraid for your family. Whether you go or stay, I-- I don't believe Titania will let them be for an instant. I--"
He bit his lip. "She didn't agree to it. She told me to arrange it. And I--" He looked up at Morgana, worriedly. "Can you tell me, honestly, that there's a better way?" he asked. "The Queen will be after her the moment she can; the King-- he may simply be biding his time."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 06:17 AM
After brushing her hair from her eyes for the third time in a row, Morgana reached back to undo the end of her braid and slowly rake her fingers through it. "Donal and I can take the little one and go to ground in the 'Dale. We lived there before, when Nialla was little. Or take to the Mainland. Either way. Mainland would be easier, and still keep us in proxy with what's happening here."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 06:24 AM
Marcello nodded, pursing his lips. "I'll go wherever you tell me," he answered. "If there's a way to get her away completely, to Italy...I'll do that. I've already spoken to Jamilah, I'm taking her, too. She got caught up in this because of me; it's my responsibility to get her out. I think i can disguise Niabheara as tallfolk without even using a glamour, which would be preferable; people will be looking for a glamour."
He gave Morgana a tight look. "I asked Niabheara if we should wait for your mother," he said quietly. "She didn't seem so sure...what would you say? Is there a better way out? A quicker way?"
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 06:34 AM
"I think if Mother shows up again on this side of the water, there is a very good chance that she is coming to lay waste," Morgana said quietly. "This could be good or bad again. If she does come, do not try to bargain with her; leave that to me. She's so deep in debt with me that she'd draw down both moons to get out from under me. The only other way I can think of is the portals, and Titania's closed them all here. At the very least you would have to cross the waters to Avalon to get to the nearest one. Nialla can open them; I've never known how."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 06:41 AM
"I've seen her do it," Marcello answered, not looking at all comforted by Morgana's speech. "If she shows up? If she comes? If, if...Morgana, that's too many ifs. What are we meant to do, wait and see?"
He looked agitated, his eyes flicking back and forth between the sisters. "I just want to be gone from here, Morgana," he said, his mouth puckering as if her were sick. "I don't want to spend another minute worrying about who's going to try to kill us next."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 06:59 AM
Morgana sighed as she lifted herself, awkwardly, from the ground. She put her hand on Marcello's arm. "Marcello," she began with some difficulty, then stopped, pinching the tip of her tongue between her teeth. Her eyelids lowered. "By all legal accounts, so far as they may even matter where we are now, you are her Queensman. If you make the decision to take her, you make it in her name. I'll follow your orders. But." Her eyes flashed suddenly upward. "As her sister, I would strongly suggest that, if you feel this is the right thing to do, you do it now, while Titania is still bound and while--" She shook her head, feeling every inch the traitor. "While Nialla is too weak to fight you."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 07:06 AM
Marcello gave Morgana a hesitant look. "I told the Queen I was her Queensman," he pointed out hesitantly, his cheeks going a little hot. He reached back for Morgana's shoulder. "I won't hurt her, Morgana. I'll take care of her; I promise you. I...do you think this is the right thing to do?"
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 07:13 AM
"I've thought this was the right thing to do since she had eight winters, Marcello." There was a faint, plaintive whine in her voice. "I think she'll be killed if she stays and that her heart will break if she goes. But she'll live through one of those."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 07:20 AM
"I know," Marcello answered, swallowing tightly. "That's what I've told her." He hesitated, then stepped forward and gave Morgana a tight hug. "I...we need clothes, and food, and money, and something to dye her hair this color," he said, tugging at his own hair. "And a bonnet to cover her ears. Our skin and eyes are close enough for her to pass as my sister."
He looked down at the sleeping girl. "And a way out. I...however we can; I-- if you know the best way... And..."
He swallowed again, then looked to Morgana. "There's still no word of Moira, is there?"
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 07:32 AM
Morgana could not suppress a light, sardonic sniff of laughter at the thought of having to conceal the poor child's ears. She hugged him back tightly. "Money's not going to be the problem." Her lips pressed bitterly together. "There's still Tristan's ransom. It's not been touched. The trouble will be getting you anywhere near enough to a functioning portal."
She stepped away from him, her eyes downward, and said as gently as she could, "I think we should accept that Moira is not coming back to us."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 07:41 AM
Marcello tensed, then nodded. "But word should be sent to the College nonetheless," he said firmly. "How did you all manage to get here?" he asked. "I-- got vanished here, remember? Is there a port? If I can get passage on a ship to the mainland, I don't care where it goes; we'll be harder to find if we're not where they'd expect us, anyhow."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 07:55 AM
"Nialla and her men used the portal. I did it the old-fashioned way and bought passage with a load of blocks from Rose Harbour. They'll be watching the ports here now. The best you might do is strike passage from here to Ushante and from there to the Mainland." The weight of this decision seized on her like a sudden cramp; her face twisted briefly and she covered it with both hands.
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 08:05 AM
"That's what I'll do, then," Marcello answered, bowing his head to Morgana, before taking in a sharp breath. He wrapped his arms around the woman again. "I'll get her out clear," he promised. "I've done this before. I'll get her out and safe and we'll find a way to get word to you as soon as we can. If...you can spread the word that she's still ill, we'll have a few days before anyone starts to wonder. I...I know I'm not meant to say thank you, but I could not-- I'd be dead if it weren't for you. We both would. I won't let everything we've done be in vain."
He smiled tightly then. "I'd kiss you, but I'm still a little wary of it."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 09:11 PM
Morgana gave him a wry smile. "Don't be angry. I've already been moving in that direction, just in case I had to smuggle her out myself. As far as anyone knows, she's been moved back to the main pavilion. I set the guards myself. They're not allowed in. Every few hours I turn up with a basket full of stones and have a conversation with myself inside. Or take a quick nap."
Suddenly the woman looked both pained and tired, the skin under her eyes pale violet with exhaustion. She gave him a tight smile, kissed her first two fingertips, and pressed them against his cheek. "This . . . is hard for me," she admitted. "It's hard to trust in someone you don't know."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 09:24 PM
He nodded tightly, taking a handful of Morgana's shirt. "I know. I helped raise my sisters. I...it would be hard for me, too, if it were one of them. Is there someone I can send word to, who can pass it on to you?"
He shot her a pained smile and touched his cheek. "Leave it to you to have it all worked out. Playing parts is what I'm good at. I'll show her what to do, and no one will ever think she's who she is. She'll be safe."
He glanced over his shoulder at the girl, his look weary and affectionate. "I promise."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 09:32 PM
Morgana pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose and shook her head, laughing, if only because it was laugh or break down entirely. "One of Mother's public houses in Ushante. It's named after some sort of tree, I can't remember just what." She shook her head once more, trying to think. "There's this . . . code she puts down so that anyone who sails with her can take lodging, some little rhyme or word g-me about asking after the landlord's daughter. You give it to the innkeeper and she comes back and pays him once a year or so for the privilege. Paugh! Damn the woman and all her riddles!"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 09:37 PM
"You don't remember it?" Marcello asked, frowning for a moment. "I..." He rubbed at his chin. "I'll find it, somehow. Send a note to..what...if I were from your world, what nationality would people think I belonged to? And...what do their names sound like?"
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 09:40 PM
Morgana shrugged helplessly. "Cecilia? I thought from your name in Nialla's letter that you were Cecilian, if that counts for anything. Except I believe most of them have yellow hair."
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 09:56 PM
Marcello waved a hand, looking a bit apologetic. "I meant what do I look like, so I could make up a name for you to send word to," he explained. "I'll...look, leave word for Benedict Page, and I'll manage it. Or have your mother send word on, if necessary. We'll be there as soon as humanly possible. If I have to pay for the inn, I'll pay for the inn, but we'll be there. Just...anything you have to say to Niabheara, call her my sister. In case anyone tries to open your letter. Sign it however you like, just say something in it to let me know it's from you."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 10:09 PM
The prospect of actually communicating in writing made Morgana look more strained than before, but she nodded in agreement. "I'll send word on from Ebhot, or from the 'Dale, if needs must. When will you start out?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 10:13 PM
Marcello bit his lip. "When do you think we can safely move her?" he asked. "If Auberon was true to her word and she's improving, I'll set out in the morning."
Posted by: Morgana Northsbane Dec 8 2007, 10:45 PM
"She's going to be weak whatever happens, cured or not. She hasn't had much in her for two days. Like as not she might not be able to travel hard." Her long, loose hair tipped over her face as she bent again over her sister. Her hands were gentle, yet somehow brisk and distant; she prodded open Niabheara's mouth to see the colour of her tongue, laid a hand over the girl's breast to count her breaths. "Her heart's regular, at any rate." She lowered her head to Niabheara's chest and held her own breath. "Still grinding, but it's nothing like it was before. Do you think it might be safe to take the horses to the shoreline, if the house colours were stripped off them first?"
Posted by: Marcello Basciano Dec 8 2007, 10:56 PM
"I'm not worried about that," Marcello answered. "If we don't appear to be in a rush, we'll seem less suspicious as it is. We can pace ourselves."
He looked worriedly at the sleeping girl. "I would strip them and fit them to look like ordinary work-horses... get the horses that look the hardest-worked, which shouldn't be too hard just now. We're going to be commoners, we need to look common. If we can get a cart, she can travel that way. If not, I'll take her. We're going to need bundles that look like we've been travelling a long time, and she's going to need the plainest clothes we can find her. I don't want anything glamoured; there's too much of a risk."
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