Memories & Motivations

Seliana seeks out Baroness Wake to discuss some of their previous correspondence and research.

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

The sun shines down on the immaculately tended rose garden, the autumn breeze just enough to rustle a few of the leaves. Along one of the paths a figure in a black hooded cloak with silver trim script seems to have become drawn in by the beauty of one of the roses. Within the hood two shifting orbs of rainbow light inspect the flora of the garden.

Stepping off the path the figure reaches out a delicate sandy white skinned hand to run her fingers over the petals before leaning in to smell the flower. Standing up once again the figure remove their hood, revealing Seliana, appearing as a young human women with long white hair that now freely flows down her back. She looks up at the blue sky and whispers to herself, "beautiful.."

Then as if waking from a dream, with a slight shake of her head, she return to the garden path as she looks around trying to either spot the Baroness's suite or the noble herself in the garden. One of the staff had offered to direct her, but she had dismissed them so she could more freely experience the garden as she went.
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    The quarters of the Baroness open to the garden. Past the veranda, stone steps lead to a space where a table has been set with tea, fruit, and several pitchers offering water and fruit juice. She sits there, looking through paperwork.

    The usual string of messengers has been called to a halt so that Wake can have some time to think. And occasionally send a chim message to someone that has her smiling in a way that she rarely allows others to see. Is that.. laughter, as well?

    The plate in front of her indicates that she's in the midst of a meal, though she's made little progress. She shows no sign of a strange mood, at least.

    The Right Clothes today are bright, airy. Her dress is a light, vibrant green one that shows a remarkable expanse of shoulder, though the fabric rises up to her neck and the skirts go down to her ankles, ensuring the rest of her remains decent. The sleeves are short, and (as is her way) she wears a pair of rough, silver bracelets about her wrists. A reminder of her devotion to The Beautiful One.

    "Yes, I'll send you a message later. And yes, I will finish eating. It's not as good as what you make, but.. it keeps me going. Farewell, my beloved," she says, apparently bringing her conversation to an end.

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Seliana continues her exploration of the garden, occasionally being distracted by the scenery, other times moving to run her hands along both the plants or statues as she passes - including at one time the thorns of a stem which had her flinch just slightly. After a couple minutes of her wondering the terrace comes into view with Baroness Wake, elegant as always lounging with both a meal and paperwork before her.

Now with her target in sight Seliana walks a little more purposefully, a smile on her lips as she approaches and calls out. "Hello Wake, it is good to see you again." She raises her hand in a little wave. "I bring some news from my research, and hoped you might have a little time to catch-up. It has been quite some time since we've been together face-to-face." The greeting is very casual, lacking any of the noble refinement that one may expect in this setting, but regardless holds a warmth that before was very rare for Seliana to show. "I hope you have some time? How have you been, Wake?"
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    The Baroness rises smoothly as Seliana calls out. In that same motion, she is somehow able to both slide her largely untouched plate out where it might better be shared and the paperwork is neatly settled, a stone set on it to prevent the breeze from sending it off at a run.

    A step away from the table and Wake glides into a curtsey, her head bowed and skirts held wide in greeting. "Seliana, it has been too long. I am delighted to see you are safe. I will always make time for a friend. You and your peers are welcome in Eas. Would you like to walk, or would you prefer to sit?"

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

As the Baroness curtsies, Seliana watches and then attempts to imitate. The effort is there, although in contrast to the Baroness it seems clumsy and unpracticed. This fact however does not seem to bother Seliana in the slightest, as she gives a small grin with just the hints of teeth showing. "If it would not bother you much, I would like to continue to walk the gardens."

She looks over to the side to take in the gardens from her now slightly elevated position. "It is a wonder how a change in self concept can make so much a change in the experience of the world." She muses more to herself than as conversation before looking back at Wake, her eyes moving up and down taking in the noble lady.

Her eyes narrow , "You were always quite refined, but this" she waves her hand at Wake, "You are like a queen in her element now." And Seliana's eyebrow is raised just everso slightly. "I guess the rumours I've been hearing are all true."

She moves to follow the Baroness's lead, accompanying her in whichever way she goes. "But how are you?" There is a note of something seeming like concern in the question.
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Whiskey Sour had never been one to match her aesthetic, but Seliana had, an age ago, sought out and thought out an outfit for the poor Clown Levelling Gear Chic druid to wear. It was not that she didn't have a sense of color.

It was that, as an alchemist, she was keenly aware of exactly what went into the 'good' shades of black, white, and metallic effects.

MMOs were truly a prison created for those within them. She could have every shade of pink she wanted -except- pearlescent. For pearlescent, she needed to hunt specific high-level rare spawns. Truly, disgusting. So she went un-dyed and raked the reagents saved for alternative projects. Profit interest lost to mental interest, among Plant Hwyaden, and Whiskey - a financier by training, even - was no exception.

Which is why. . .

The Present Moment,

Whiskey arrives shortly after Seliana does, in an eggshell white hooded robe, with the hood left to hang about her shoulders. The dipping sleeves and hem of the skirt have triangles of dark orange, and two orange-fuzzed ear-blobs floop from the top of the hood. Her long black hair hangs behind her, framing her sun-dazed and tired expression.

"Baroness, it's a pleasure." She offers in greeting, clasping her hands together before her and bowing. "Seliana had started sharing with me that you were still in correspondence, and I was..." She blinks her eyes closed in a long-held pause, and Seliana has already asked the pressing question.

"... interested in how you've kept up. I was a lot less available, and I feel a bit lesser for it. I'd say something like 'the wages of discovery', but--"

Whis lifts her hands in a shrug, shaking her head with a whisk of her hair across her back. "--honestly it was just a stupid adventure. Happy to help you with the carving help, though."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    Wake nods her assent to the walk. "You flatter me with your compliments and certainly we can walk. I never tire of the beauty that we've brought back to this place. It has become a living memory of Eas, a place I found back in the original Elder Tale, back before the online version was released. While there are still many things to restore-especially the Dome of Stars-I am pleased to have brought new dreams to this land."

    The Baroness directs her calm smile to Whiskey Sour. "It is an honor indeed to receive you. You both honor me with your presence." The slight widening of her eyes indicates a sincere pleasure, even in the midst of these times.

    Before she answers the question, however, she sets an easy pace through the garden. Along the way, there are many works of art, sculptures from a time largely forgotten, by a people whose ways were lost when the orcs slowly drove them out. All of them have been painstakingly restored. Even so, where it was uncertain what the original work was, repairs were not completed. Only what was clear would be made whole again, using the same techniques as the original artisans would have used.

    "I am.. impatient. Our invaders have forced me to allow my allies to house their forces in Eas. They have compelled me to send my people to sanctuary in the Tower. My fiance' is with them. When this ends. When they are defeated, they will have much to answer for."

    She directs her attention back to her guests, "However, I am curious what the rumors are that you speak of. My mind is focused on the war and ensuring my people, half a world away, and my Unconquered allies are living well. I hear much, but not everything."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

As they begin to walk through the gardens, Seliana once again starts to gaze intently at each plant and piece of artwork. Her kaleidoscopic eyes seeming to greedily take in the details with a renewed kind of intensity from months prior. She nods as the Baroness discusses the beauty of the garden, and as she walks to moves close to Whis as she smiles at the white clad 'support'.

"In another world, a woman who is close to my heart had a father who was quite the crafter and artist. A carpenter by trade, but focused on custom work for the wealthy. It was not uncommon for him to have his works in gardens like this and he maintained a family garden of his own." Seliana sounds wistful. "You've done a wonderful job here, Wake."

As the conversation turns to matters of more concern, Seliana raises her hand, an ancient looking scroll appearing in her hand from her inventory. With her other she unfurrows the scroll, skimming the now familiar contents with her eyes once again before looking up once more. "This is The Six Laws, a relic which contains laws that appear to be different than those of Alba. To summarize," she again looks down at the scroll, "do not kill, do not let others die, do not be discovered, be sly, ignore their rules, don't lose." A slight smirk flickers across her features before she rolls the scroll up once more.

"As was mentioned in my letter I've been researching this relic, trying to find out any information I can. It grants power. Alters the world around it allowing me to see to times and places where I am not. Who made it? When was it made? How was is made? And most importantly, can we create similar items?" A frown forms on Seliana's face, "So far every avenue has run into a dead end. No indication or records of any kind. No references. Nothing. Most significantly, after extensive appraisal the only additional information I've been able to gather is a readout that claims:"

This Item Has Not Yet Been Created

Seliana sighs, "As such, in the face of these difficulties, I've now turned over to a new line of research. One that I feel is vital to our long term survival." She turns to look at the Baroness.


She continues, "More specifically regaining lost memories, and means to protect ones we have." There is a determined look in her eyes.
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"An honor?" Whis asks, genuinely surprised to hear it. "You make it sound like you're serious. I'm sure it's a pleasure, but an honor?"

Her incredulity rests on Wake, an up-and-down of the noblewoman in literal and figurative name and title. A little smile lifts her cheeks. "But it sounds proper for you to say it, so I'll stop examining it so much."

Seliana brings forward the scroll, and reveals her needs. Whis' clasped-together hands fall to her waist, and her sleeves drop to cover them, and she joins in the walking from the rear point, between and behind the Baroness and Seliana through the garden.

"Like repairing a statue, with a piece missing from the inside, without making any fresh cuts or marks. And wouldn't it be exactly that? An insertion? There's no ailment inside someone I can detect, no change I've measured. They just change. And if you put it back, do they change back?"

"Put another way, the system told her: 'It's possible', and it is an item, that is created. That narrows it down a lot."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    Wake stops suddenly and directs her full attention to Whiskey Sour's comment. She isn't angry. She's intense. Her calm smile doesn't shift, but there's something in her eyes. That absolute focus that makes it clear that the rest of the world is going to simply have to wait for her to get back to it.

    "I am a Baroness. I move events, armies, hearts, destinies. But /you/ are of Plant Hwyaden. You tear the secrets of the universe from its unyielding grasp. While some might flatter, I am smart enough to know that you have what I need. Vision. Truth. A degree of freedom from the blindness that my station tends to impart. I am honored that you take the time away from your studies to guide my actions. Many people go through this world with little awareness of their value. Do not join them. You are incredibly important."

    She even reaches out to set a hand on Whiskey Sour's shoulder. If allowed, she will squeeze as if to drive her point to even greater emphasis.

    A heartbeat later, and it is as if nothing happened. The Baroness walks on once more.

    "This scroll is quite interesting. And I rather like its insinuation. A tool of destiny is never truly created, is it? But the words are a most curious guide, are they not?" A pause. "However, you seek something, and I believe I am able to assist. I have heard of Palace Landers who have died so much they are becoming Landers. I may have.. a test subject for you. If you do not have an appropriate place to keep them bound you are welcome to study them here. I simply have to make a few arrangements."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Seliana watches as the Baroness places a hand on Whis's and affirms her words. Then a moment later they are continuing on but Seliana smirks as she talks to Whis, "Beloved of the universe, do you still forget your place?" a playful tune in her voice as she gives the black haired woman's arm a quick squeeze.

As they continue Seliana replies to Wake, "Indeed, the Six Laws are those which I believe I myself may seek to understand more deeply, regardless of what else I can find about them."

As the conversation turns to the Palace Lander, Seliana's eyes open in mild surprise. "Someone who has already lost so much?" And there is a sorrow there. "As you may recall, I am a member of the Cult of the Lost, and I certain that we can try help this individual and I'm sure others in Plant Duck will also assist."

She shakes her head sadly, "Everything going on with the Palace Landers.." a slight pause as she considers her words. "I've been so invested in my research, perhaps you could update us more on the status of the efforts?"

After that topic she then she returns to the issue of the Lander, "It is now well established that when Adventurer's die, especially during waves that follow when a boss of the Tower is defeated, that they lose memories. Like pieces of souls ripped away, they begin to lose all sense the connect to the person before in the other world." Seliana frowns and pauses for a moment in thought as she looks out at the flowers of the garden.

"Lose enough, and you become a Lander it is said - like this individual of yours. Die after that and it is seemingly permanent. But the madness? I suspect it is more the crowns influence than the memories." She continues as she looks back to Whis and Wake. "The memories are like the currency of our lives now. And they are the link to those people before. If perhaps it is possible to regain a memory, then we can ensure our own survival. If we can regain memories then just maybe we can make Landers into Adventurers as well.."

Seliana considers further, "As you seek to secure this individual let me contact some of the other in both Plant Duck and members of the cult to determine what is best. I suspect we may take you up on the offer to have them secured here, at least until we can be sure we are able to handle them safely."
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Whis' face goes through a few expressions, from the base tired and unmoving, up to an active and resistant grimace. The recitation does little for Whis, eyes moving in saccade to Seliana for --

Something. Needfulness, or apology, or something among the rest. She is touched, and Whis' head hangs.

"We're-" She begins, but it does not sound like a 'we'. "-not the ones who get honored by authority. Even if you're right, it's not convenient to have to change. People only want to at their worst. Not when they're happy."

Whis sighs, withered, released when Wake carries on as if nothing happened. The druid's sullen face of fatigue droops a cheek on Seliana's shoulder, and the weight placed there reveal more than a cute affectation.

"I didn't forget. It didn't seem like it applied."

The 'Palace Lander' is something that isn't Whis that Whis can talk about, so she turns to that topic as well.

"Have you had a Physician examine them? I might be able to help with that, though I doubt it's some status effect. It might reveal itself to Seliana or I, if we put our heads together."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "The one we've seized is still an adventurer, at least," says Wake gently. "But the mind.. I may, in time, have some hope of restoring them, but I don't know if the learnings from the past world will be enough to deal with slavery and being repeatedly sent to the silence of death. We have not had a detailed examination yet. At least not that I'm aware of. I frequently turn to Prophylaxis for that kind of work, but I'd be glad to have you take a look. When things are set ready, I will ensure that you are made aware and that the guards give you unfettered access. I only hope that this evil can be undone, though I fear it seems unlikely."

    The Baroness tightens her fist ever so slightly. "I suppose I should say that justice will come, but it does little to restore what was lost. That landers can strike us down like this is every bit as disgusting as enslaving them would be."

    A breath is expelled. The hand relaxes.

    "As for the war. As you likely know, they hold Mac Anu and Shibuya. They have crowned the Old Man under Mac Anu to take over the guardians. In response to this, the Alliance have moved to secure the special landers defending the other Root Towns." She pauses, turning slowly to survey her surroundings. She's extremely careful and patient. She whispers faintly, "We have secured Breg Epona, though we must not let anyone know of our success. Much of our hope lies in secrecy."

    A slight shift in topic and louder in volume, "I attended a war council called by Gilgamesh where these and other matterss were discussed. So at least we are working together. Though unfortunately my 'friends' in the Dukedom now defend Eas. So if you work here, please do keep an eye on them. No doubt they may come to rather enjoy my home, and I will be away, for my Unconquered are in every corner of this world. I must confess, I almost hope they try. Unfettering me would be a most.. terrible mistake."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

As Whis droops a cheek on Seliana's shoulder the white haired 'human' raises a pointer finger to tap her chin as she considers things a little further. At the same time, she wraps an arm around Whis to pat her far shoulder. She hums in thought, then opens her mouth as if to speak before closing it again with a tilt of her head.

She side-eyes Whis and finally comments in a whisper, "Honor is something that can mean many things, isn't it?" But it seems that more on the topic may not be coming immediately as she shifts her focus to the Baroness.

Seliana nods as Whis mentions that they may be able to figure something out between them. "It is possible we may be able to gleam some information of their state, and I'm sure with the others we can get a more complete understanding in time." She also nods at the clarification of the Adventurer's state, "If they have not yet gained the Lander title then I suspect there is more that is possible."

"Our minds are not like those in the other world. We are creatures of data, entities where laws we still learn of affect us, but there is without question also a potential. If sickness and injure can be healed with a spell then the effects on the mind may be far more mutable as well."

Seliana listens with interest to the update about the events with the Palace Lands. A slight nod as quiet words are whispered, and then replying, "Gilgamesh you say?" as she raises an eyebrow. "Well, I appreciate your sharing this with us, Baroness."

Then Seliana looks to Whis again, "You've been helping out the Baroness with some of the projects, right?" She looks over to the Baroness herself, "I know that I've been quite committed to my research, but please feel free to contact me if there are projects ongoing that could use my expertise. I am mostly focused on appraisal, scribing, divination, and at times tracking." Seliana gives a small smile.
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"Justice isn't real." Whis murmurs. "Closure isn't something other people can give you. You can beg for forgiveness, but until you feel it inside yourself, it doesn't exist outside." A closed-eye inhalation stops Whis for a moment, as she cycles the breath deliberately through her nose. "What's real is that people are being changed, and not for the better, and not because they wanted to. And that happened to them, and we can't wave a magic wand of data and make it all better. We can ruin someone for ruining someone, but then two are ruined. Justice."

Whis looks down, to the earth of the garden, and 'below'. She imagines a dungeon beneath the ground. "You should ease them back into living, Wake. If they were killed, over and over, the perscription is living - working back up to a real life."

Of course, the Baroness already has a doctor. "I've never even examined my relic. It was just something I had that was useful, but it lets me see ailments without contact. I was--" Gone. "--n't really keeping on top of progress, so you probably have someone more able available."

Wake takes her time looking around, even here, and Whis makes a considering noise. "Not even here's safe?"

'Honor is something that can mean many things, isn't it?'
What begins as a groan clears through Whis' throat and escapes as a moment of laughter. "Yeah. Honor's lots of things." She admits. "I'd call it 'duty', though. The choices that come from having power and knowing."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "Yes, Gilgamesh. I've had a few experiences with the King, now. He is fascinating, and is likely the most powerful being I've ever encountered. I will be happy never to find out."

    Wake gathers her thoughts for a moment. Her mind moves swiftly as she gives voice to a matter of interest. "King Gilgamesh said he would make a proper kingdom, since Ezzo was removed. If anyone might be spared to study how this is achieved, I would be grateful. I mean to very quietly probe into the matter, but I suspect true understanding will call upon gifts that I lack."

    Wake turns to give Whiskey a curious look. "I do not dispute what you say. But even if I can give healing, as a ruler I must dispense justice. It does not fix things, but at the least it might prevent one person from inflicting harm upon others. Somehow there is a part of me that needs to think that evil has a cost."

    Watching Whiskey Sour display such doubt in her own worth does something anger couldn't. It changes the Baroness' expression. The calm smile grows gentler, and her eyes glisten as if barely holding back tears.

    "I cannot give you the belief in yourself that you no doubt deserve, my dear. But I assure you, I want your help. Prophylaxis is a friend of mine from the past, but no matter what my station should become, I pray that my heart will never run out of room for more friends to trust. I need your help."

    With a soft sigh, Wake directs her attention at her hands, then back to her guests, dividing her gave between them.

    "There is no safety on the heights, my friends. The fall only gets more dangerous and I become an ever more appealing target. I must be clear. There is no Duke that would hesitate to kill me if it meant they would have a clear path to taking Eas. This fortress has incredible value. Only by playing them one against another do I hold sway here, for the others know that should they descend upon me, the others would devour them. And who is to say? Perhaps they fear what my allies might do. Having the Olympus Headquarters here has great advantages. Even a great kingdom would hesitate to make enemies of any Adventurer Alliance."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"Until we really examine them, we don't know if there is a possible magic fix or not." She raises her eye at Whis. "Let's see what we can help facilitate at the least. If nothing else there are some in the cult that have experience with.. troubled individuals.."

Then as the conversation continues to topics of new kingdoms, "A new kingdom you say?" Seliana considers, "I suppose I looked at things more from the angle of respawn points. And from that perspective there is already a respawn in that area, so what else does Gilgamesh even gain from having an 'official kingdom'?" Seliana uses air quotes.

But then her mouth draws into a line as topics turn to justice and evil, and she looks at the other two women. There is a hesitation, "I think we can only do what we feel is best in the moment." And she shakes her head slightly and remains silent otherwise on the topic.

Then looking at the Baroness, "It seems that there are always politics, even with other conflicts. I do not envy the situation you find yourself." She seems to quickly look to Whis to see her reaction to the news, "I can say that you've been very helpful, Wake, and I appreciate your assisting with coordination a great deal. It is nice to chat once in awhile as well." And Seliana smiles once again.

She then looks to Whis a little more closely trying to determine if it may be an appropriate time to part ways.
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"They're all magic fixes. We're magic." Whis answers. "I already agreed to help." Her eyes close, and then open. "I said I would."

Her tone is flat, declarative, direct. "I didn't want the Baroness to rely on me over someone with better ability. I do..." Her hand comes up, loosening from her sleeve. A handful of colored spheres lift from the air about her arm and orbit her wrist, in the elemental hues. "A lot of little things."

Ezzo gives Whis further pause, and one that meets at a crossroads of 'her' and the ongoing events. "There was something I noticed, actually. Even though 'Whiskey Sour' is a girl from Ezzo, her, and everyone like her, is just called 'Outcast'. And there were primarily Outcasts in Plant Hwyaden."

With a flourish of the hand, Whis plucks the dark marble from her wrist's orbit, and squeezes the magic particles between her fingers, deforming the ball into a lemniscate.

"It has a magic to it, as well. Do you think that establishing a new society will have an effect on people? Is it an empty space to colonize, or a wound to close over, or just something that exists?"

'... evil has a cost.'
'...never run out of more friends to trust.'
Seliana looks to Whis. Is it time to go?

Both women can see Whiskey Sour having a difficulty with this, where 'normally' she would be easy smiles and effortless acceptance. The 'support player', happy to be 'taken care of'.

A hard swallow. "Sometimes the awful feelings we have is something inside us telling us to do something, instead of not do something. I'm really..."

It takes her a moment. "Thirsty. Do you want to sit down for tea?"
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "The nature of the kingdom is a great question. I imagine there must be something of great importance to it, though. For instance, we know that Lander Lords keep books and refuse to let us see them. It makes one wonder just what might be inside."

    The Baroness turns her attention to the needs of her guests. "Certainly, it is a warm day, and the mountain air takes some getting used to." She shifts her focus for a moment and sends a brief chim for refreshments to be brought to the north side of the gardens.

    "There are chairs out of the sun on the veranda just ahead," she explains. She leads the way, pointing out a butterly to her right as they pass it. "It's a lovely thing, and I'm delighted to see many like it have grown fond of the gardens."

    For one reason or another, she allows the serious topics to drop. She doesn't explain herself, but settles gracefully in a seat. As expected, her posture remains perfect.

    As if they were racing to meet their guests, servants appear, two women swiftly setting out a variety of drinks and small refreshments. The eldest of the servants turn to regard the guests seriously, "Is there anything else you are needing, my Ladies?"

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"This universe does hold some rather strange effects linked to titles." She frowns, "I am not fond of how much unknown influence we may be subject to without our knowledge or consent. We know it is possible that memories of even those who have not died can be altered, if only temporarily."

"This life is a two-way street. We are provided with gifts, but there is still danger - and if we aren't aware of how it all works then we remain ignorantly open to that danger." Seliana continues to follow along as they arrive at the veranda, and she gives Whis's arm another squeeze along with a smile before also casually takes a seat. "But we can't act on pure unknowns, it would drive us insane trying to imagine dangers from thin air." Seliana waves her hand in dismissal, "I'm rambling. It's just.. we will have to find out."

Seliana watches in bemusement as the staff appear and efficiently provide refreshments. Taking the elaborate teacup set before her and blowing on it to cool the contents.

At the question of if there is anything further Seliana speaks, "I will send you some additional details on my new research once I have it more established within the guild and cult, at that point I likely could get all the help I can. So your administrative expertise would once again be greatly appreciated. Since it seems my letters have been finding you, I will continue with that means for the more condensed data, and occasionally reach out via chimlink for coordinating efforts. Does that work for you?"
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"Titles, song, scripture, relics and enigmas, they all change us." Whis observes, led to the sitting area. Servants spring forth, and the druid is quietly impressed, and sad additional and besides.

"Have you ever thought to yourself 'it's just like a fantasy castle'? I did, just now, and it felt so strange to have that bubble up. Foreign."

Whis extends her hand out, in passing, and the butterfly lifts as if beckoned, fluttering about to land upon an outstretched fingernail and ease closed its wings.

'This life is a two-way street'.
Carrying the butterfly on her finger to the sitting area in the sun, Whis's retreat to sitting becomes an undignifiedly boneless slouch, with her hand raised as a perch, and her opposite arm still held by Seliana. She is in no hurry to disentangle herself.

"It's not. The scope's bigger, but the danger is only to how-we-were. It's so much more grand than how it was before, and the only thing we stand to lose is everything we cling to right now. Wake, Whis, and Seli won't fade away, only gain distance from a point."

Her fingers curl, and the butterfly flutters away.

"We were always a moment from death. I was ready to face it, I thought. Now, with so much distance, it's like it's not even real."

Leaning forward for tea, she lifts a cup from the saucer and gently tilts it in thankful indication to Wake before settling it under her nose and composing a closed-eyed appreciation for the steam. "Does the Sleeping Knights have an Alchemy expert?"
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "It is interesting how powerful certain things are in this place. It makes me wonder if what I say really matters, or if it is the mechanical workings of random numbers and skills that settle it all," Wake muses. She bows her head to her servants, "Thank you, my dears. Please enjoy some time to rest in the garden. We can take care of ourselves."

    She offers it every time, but the Landers never seem to act on it. Instead, they offer gentle objections and apologies, then get back to their stations inside.

    "Someday, perhaps, I can teach them to enjoy leisure and rest."

    Regardless, it's clear that Wake is rather fascinated by how easily Whiskey Sour can handle the butterfly. It captures her attention quite thoroughly.

    "Having been so active in restoring, I sometimes do find myself surprised by how used to it I am becoming. Saying 'my castle' sometimes shocks me, but most often I have grown accustomed to it. I wonder.. what that says about me?"

    The Baroness shakes her head slightly, "In any case.. hmm, an alchemy expert. I don't know of one. Did you have a need? I can check with the other alliances, if you would like."

    Seliana's inquiry is met with a nod, "Certainly. And do not fear rambling. My mind needs to be broadened, and what you think is rambling helps me better understand how you think. The danger of being in my position is that I cannot be seen to be weak or others will lose confidence, yet I must take advice and allow my mind to be changed."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Seliana watches the butterfly as she takes some tentative sips of her tea.

'.. a moment from death.'

Seliana looks suddenly looks surprised, sitting a little straighter, and then squints at the deflated Whis, "What was that? I mean, you kind of mentioned.. but.." Then she pauses before continuing, "I mean, I kind of want to know.. but whenever you think is best."

At the question about the castle Seliana nods, "The gardens remind me of the other world, but the castle is still all so.. storybook. It's beautiful, and different." She gives a little laugh. "Most of the people in the cult are the desperate and forgotten. I've been so involved there until recently that everything started to feel a little foreign, I guess." Then she grins at Whis, "Times change. Even the cultures of Adventurers and Landers. Which will we encourage?" Her tone is lighthearted.

Smiling a little awkward to the Baroness, "Ah yes, well.. I find myself having passed a bit of a crossroads recently. In my new found.. freedom?" she questions the word, "I've taken more to musing aloud. To simply understand who and what I am - a question that's always been a challenge - seems to have new layers of consideration that.." she considers her words yet again. "I guess I just feel that I have to find out. Imperative."
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"You may not notice it as much, Baroness, but..."

Whis makes a menu-opening gesture with a downstroke of her hand, and then hangs there, upending her palm to hold the only-visible-to-her column like a physical cylinder. "Change is something that happens due to choices, whether or not we know we're choosing. You're a ruler, because you chose."

"You're a human, -because you chose-."

Seliana pauses her, looping Whis back, and the black-haired girl turns her head to watch, steam curling around her nose as she turns away from her cup. "It's okay to just ask, Seliana. I'll tell you or I won't. I know why you want to know."

A shrug. "I'm speaking to our human lives, on Earth. I confronted my human life, and walked forward knowing it was short and arbitrary. Now, here, this life is. . ."

Whis remains on Seliana, though all three women outwardly look it, yet two are not.

"... we're not Human any more, Seliana."

Her eyes track to the Baroness, weary in the way of wanderers and those outside. The look she always had, but could be explained by sleepless habits. "Replacing parts of ourselves, or the whole, with something different. Alchemy - is transmitting properties from one thing, to another. The Sleeping Knights are all about going tall, taller than anyone else. If you were offering 'knowing', I wanted to see if you could skip both of us a lot of steps of finding."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "Change is something we cannot stop, and yet there are anchors that we can hold to. Parts of ourselves that, if not precisely immutable, hold us steady in the whirlwind." Wake draws something from her menu.

    Oddly, in a garden or roses, the one that appears in her hand manages to best them all. It inspects as << The Witherless Rose >>. "I did not come here alone. My fiance' was playing with me, on that fateful day. And we are still together. Bound by love and this castle, odd as it may seem, was inspired at first by a teasing jest."

    Wake speaks fondly of the memory. "You see, she once told me she would never marry me in a game unless I had my own castle. A joke to her, but I kept it in mind. And now here we are.. and all was ready. Then the invaders came."

    She shakes her head, "In any case, I am human in the ways that count. Flaws, desires, values.. fears. One day soon I will finally give her the gift I've held for so long, and she will be my wife."

    With a soft sigh, she sends the rose back to the safety of her inventory. "The Sleeping Knights are about mastery of whatever domain we are dedicated to. In my case, politics. Yuuki is obviously our greatest warrior. Though we can all fight. But I do not know of anyone who has pursued alchemy to mastery. I struggled to support those efforts, frankly, but with the proper exertion of resources, we scrape by."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Seliana bobbles her head slightly left and right, considering, then finally at a decision is made. "I feel it is best that I now take each step from my own perspective. I've been anchored for too long in cycles of mourning over those who are but memories. And here, as I am.. I think some of the details of our memories may not matter so much. Regardless, you can count on my curiosity." And she grins again at Whis.

Then the Baroness pulls out a rose of beauty unequalled to any flower Seliana has seen, and her vision is captivated. As she looks intently her eyes flare with rainbow lights, seeming to activate some kind of skill. Her eyes narrow ever so slightly. Then as the tale turns to romance she again looks to Wake.

'.. in the ways that count. Flaws, desires, values ..'

Seliana's gaze turns sharp and then contemplative. She looks over to Whis, also considering what the black haired alchemist had mentioned. But then the rose is gone, the absence having a slightly startling impact on Seliana, and she focuses on the Baroness again. "I'm glad to hear that you have companionship that has links in both worlds, I'm sure those memories of the other world reinforce your bond in this one. But I wonder, do you really wish to wait until the ideal time before you seek that last step?"
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

Baroness Wake speaks, at length and emotional weight, about her dreams. Flaws, desires, and values. At least, desires, and values, and fears. There are no flaws to call out within the moment. It simply is, witherless and perfect - a timeless dream with all the tied-up hope of a moment expected in the future that has yet to come.

No, there's one flaw.
"'We scrape by'?" Whis smiles faintly.

"Hard to give your love a castle occupied by allied soldiers, even if it's your castle. Sometimes titles just consummate."

The whole of it, though, at least rattles Whis out of her slouch, righting as she leans forward to place her teacup down. Somewhere between satisfied and through-the-worst-of-it, Whis settles back into a hand-clasped seat, gazing quarter-lidded at Wake.

"If you don't have an in-house alchemist, then I guess I'll be available to support you scraping by." She suggests mildly. "For the rest, though, I can see why you and Seliana get along."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "We do the best we can with what we have. I will call on you both whenever something comes up. Even if it is not your area of expertise, you may know someone who can assist. I often do that. In truth, being what I am is about contacts, about connections." She diverts her attention to her tea for a moment, finally raising it to take a drink.

    "And you speak truly. I cannot wait for my people to return and these.. friends to be back in their own beds, far away from here. As much as war might seem exciting to the young and glory-starved, I wish only to return to peace and build my home. I miss my Landers. It may seem odd to you, but we have a lander who has this quest. Every night he loses his pekos. And every day, an adventurer from Olympus or another guest helps him get them back. Right now, he is in the tower, loses his pekos every day, and my fiance helps him find them. Every day. Though I think some low level members of the Scale Emblem are doing it as well, now. I admit I used to find it a bit trying. Now.. I would give very much, indeed, to be putting those pekos back where they belong."

    More honestly, Wake says, "And then we could be free, and I could give my Tae the wedding we both dream of." Though she maintains her even expression, the eyes do not lie. She doesn't have to say she is lonely in order to express it.

    The emotion is not revealed for very long. Trust her guests as she does, Wake is who she is, and hiding what she feels is more natural to her than sharing it.

    "I hope you both feel welcome. Truly, I know you have a home of your own, and it is likely superior for most of your work. But should you need a space here, or wish to study in the library or have a project that needs a great deal of space to complete, I can likely accomodate you."

Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

The tea having cooled further, Seliana is able to move from small tentative sips to larger more flavourful mouthfuls. She hums in appreciation. The aroma. The flavour. Caught up as she listened to the discussion she find her cup drained. Returning it to the tray she comments, "While we are here, you have some allies you know you can count on." And then more quietly, "and to keep an eye out."

"It is nice to have a clear goal like you do. A dream to look forward to." Seliana grins, "and I hope we are invited to the party when it happens."

The Baroness's loneliness doesn't go unnoticed though, and Seliana reaches out under the table to squeeze Whis's hand. "There will always be periods of time when those we care about will be occupied, but it seems like you and Tae are making quite a new life for yourselves."

"You have indeed helped to make me feel welcome here, and I believe I may take you up on the offer to stay awhile. Thank you for your hospitality. I hear that Uta has quite the library, and I have yet to visit it in person." She looks over to Whis with a smile, "Perhaps you might be interested in accompanying me, Whis?"
Whiskey Sour
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

"We spend our hours on things, and eventually even things that we find a little annoying become a part of our routine. Do you think it's different, that some people bring up the same 'quest', every day? Whether or not we complete them, we have tasks every day, ones we 'want to', 'should', and 'must' complete. I think the Landers. . ."

Whis smiles. "I think you could become the sort of person that would create reality among the people. That's how Plant Hwyaden understands Legends. How I do. 'Those that are not Other to the Landers'. Despite... Everything."

Whis rises, Seliana's hand in hers, and looks down at the white-and-black woman fondly, before looking back to Wake.

"I'd rather win a war than lose it. If we're choosing. And I'd rather stay with people than not. The rest is. . . changing."
Baroness Wake
Castle Eas - Dome of Stars

    "The dreams keep us moving on. And.. if my presences helps the Landers be more real, be more complete, then I am truly blessed. You see, I care for them dearly. They are my people, and their children are my children. At least as much as they can be."

    The Baroness rises, then, noting the time and that her guests are clearly ready to depart. Another curtsey comes, every bit as graceful as the first. She has elevated the gesture to an artform. It's almost as if she is floating there.

    "Thank you for meeting with me, my friends. If you need a place to stay this night, I will see that quarters are prepared for you. And a meal as well. We have excellent cooks, though, alas, they have nothing on my Tae's creations. But that is neither here nor there. I hope you enjoy your stay here and that it proves both peaceful and illuminating."