One Moment of Perfect Beauty

Baroness Wake

    It is nearing the end of the day. The orphanage of Shimonoseki is unsurprisingly raucous. There are children running about as they get ready for the evening meal. In previous days, they were less excited, but the adventurers suddenly changed that. There is food now. The blankets are new. Everyone has a place to sleep in a sturdy, adventurer-crafted bed.

    There are two new volunteers. Teachers who will help the young and the old alike, as they seek to become craftsman or farmers. Some already were sent to the capitol where they can learn other, more specialized trades.

    In the midst of all this energy and activity, Elly searches for something. There's a feeling in her mind, or perhaps in her soul, that she's close. She's a string and she's drawing near to another that has just the right vibration.

    It is there, in that moment as she draws into harmony that the light pours through. Golden light, bouncing off the floors, the walls, even the children. One moment of perfect beauty.

    As if by magic, this is when a messenger finds her. It was not easy to keep up with her, but it was easy to find her. Everywhere the priestess goes, she leaves change in her wake. Orphanage after orphanage, every one she could find, none did she miss. Weeks of travel.

    She takes the message with a grateful smile and reads it. In that moment, she knows it is done. The will of the Goddesses have been achieved. Specifically, The Beautiful One has taken note of her actions.

    She wavers as the strange mood finally lifts from her. Elly falls to her knees with the weight of it, as if every mile she had walked struck her knees and the weight of every child she elevated from starvation suddenly fell upon her shoulders.


Uta has been an on-and-off discreet presence during Wake's strange mood. Sure, Wake has a personal secretary like Ayame whose skills and abilities are hardly matched. But one person cannot be everywhere, so Uta has been helping with the lightening of the load, in her own way.

Or, rather, multiple ways.

For one, Uta has been keeping a steady medical eye on Wake, ready to intervene whenever necessary; she has been making sure she ate at least the menu food she seemed so bent on making her exclusive source of nourishment; she has been serving as a secondary contact for people who had easily answered questions, to lighten the load of work Wake might have to bear; but perhaps most importantly of all, she has been serving as a decoy contact, which is a fancy way to refer to the one whose 'telephone number' (or, in the case of Uta, chim contact) is given off to people who would only waste Wake's time. Uta seemed to somehow have the patience for this, and not mind.

"The Baroness is very busy right now," Uta speaks into thin air, while holding a hand to her ear. "No, she cannot be chimmed." Silence. A sigh. "We went through this already, I will be forced to end this call." Jab at her menu to end the communication or possibly block the caller.

Just as she she relax she perks up and places her hand on her ear again, and listens in silence for a few seconds. "...I am not sure who the right contact is for that kind of thing is, but what I am positive of is that the Baroness is not dealing with such matters at the moment, and is delegating them to the most appropriate charge d'affaires. I believe that matters regarding the extended warranty of Grunties should be clarified with her Head Groom. Please show up in person at her residence," and she jabs the button to end the call (and possibly block the caller) before they have a chance to continue.

Her hand doesn't have the time to fall again that it raises to her ear once again.

"NO, Asuna, you cannot buy a child! That's not how orphanages work!" Silence. "Oh, sorry, I thought you were Asuna. Your voices are so similar..."

Uta's eyes dart to the Baroness. She catches something there, and her eyebrows raise.

"I am sorry," she hurries to say into the link, "I will have to call you later," and hangs up.

She rushes over to Baroness Wake. "Lady Bombast!", she exclaims with a mixture of concern, excitement and relief, as incongrous as it sounds. It's a fleeting moment, but one can see her expert eyes take assessment of Elly's muscle tonicity, of her posture, of her pupil, the rate of her blinking, and many other telltale signs of her current status. She approaches with alacrity, yet concern, anxious to take care of her friend, yet standoffish in deference to the Baroness's status, and her personal needs and wishes. "Is it over?", she asks, barely above a whisper, shoulders slightly risen and arms slightly retracted, in a posture of uncertainty. "How are you feeling?"
Baroness Wake

    There are other looks of concern, even a young girl who runs up to offer the Baroness water. It takes a moment for Elly to register her surroundings. Her eyes close slowly, she draws in a breath, and then lets it out. She is smiling.

    "Do not worry yourself, little one. I have merely been walking a long road in the name of the Goddess, and her will has been realized. I am tired."

    She takes the water gratefully and drinks it. Elly rises and setss a hand on the child, stroking her dark hair. "My apologies. You have done well. I am grateful for the water. Please, play some more with your friends. Your laughter sustains me more than any sleep could."

    That being said, she turns back to Uta. "It is done." She holds up the message from the Westelande. "The last kingdom has agreed. We will help them all and the children will be safe, fed, clothed, shoed, and educated. Thank you for helping me, Uta. This victory belongs to the Goddesses, but you and many others have served nobly. It will never be forgotten."


"Lady Bombast," Uta begins with the utmost respect, yet... with a firmness one doesn't hear from her in normal circumstances. The firm, confident tone of a medical professional who is forcing the patient to face the facts. "You have been overexerting and undernourishing. You need rest. *They* need you to rest." She sweeps the air around to indicate the orphans at the end of her sentence, then she takes one step closer to the Baroness, and lowers her voice accordingly; the stern edge now gone, her address softens, more heartfelt, more caring. "We are all concerned about you, and if you are not at your best, you cannot hope to serve these children properly."
Baroness Wake

    Well, Elly has always felt that it was important that Uta be strong and resolute. She just never really meant for it to be directed at her. She is not in a strange mood now, though. She can see every debuff.

    "It occurs to me that you are absolutely correct. If I don't sleep in... about 138 minutes, I will faint. The children will be worried."

    She considers her situation with care. She cannot get anywhere better to rest. There are spare beds right here. She will not be depriving anyone. Granted, the last time she tried to sleep in an orphanage there were some debates over who got to sleep nearby.

    "I think I had best lay down for now. Even if I don't sleep, that will help. Uta, do you have anything that might help me rest? I am tired, but I'm on my second wind. Or perhaps tenth wind. I know that in situations like this, it is hard for me to sleep properly. Normally, I require help from my wife."

    She will just leave that there. Details of how /that/ method works are top secret matters of state.

Uta gives Elly an askew glance.

A mixture of suspicion and ever so moderate disbelief, somewhere in the dignified zone between 'you cannot be serious' and 'such nerve!' and away from the slums of 'you gotta be kidding me'.

She stands still for a few seconds, frozen, then sighs. "No, Baroness. You may not have the Pink Ones. Your organism has recently been undergoing a massive imbalance, and proper clinical tests about the interaction between the medication and Strange Moods have not been carried out. It would be reckless of me to subject you to unverified procedures." She narrows her eyes slightly. "Also, there are -children-," she effectively stagewhispers.

"However..." She swipes her menu open, and shimmers her staff into existence. "There is something Else I can do. Please lie down where you plan to sleep," she says, nudging her head towards a few nearby spare beds.
Baroness Wake

    Elly gives Uta a look and sighs. "Yes mother. I am a terrible person who is asking a trained professional to give her a medicine that brings about a relaxed state and all the while I will be under the professional's direct supervision."

    She lets that linger for a moment, but then she is smiling. "You are really strict."

    She will lay down, though. She settles onto a bed. It's fortunate really, that the orphanage is in Ninetails and not in, say, Eastal, where races are frequently shorter. These beds easily fit a tall woman with room to spare.

    She menu switches into something more comfortable. Which is to say, yet another immaculately-made gown, but one that is a touch softer. Also she sets aside her shoes before crawling under the covers.

    "I am not sure how long I might sleep, if someone does not rouse me. If I do drift under completely, please wake me at dawn. I must travel again soon. I have a wife waiting for me."

"You are a Priestess of the Beautiful One, and your command of the Light element likely surpasses mine by a wide margin," Uta begins, with a muted tone and a respectful bow of her head, followed by a "However" which is paired with a slight, but rapid and direct raise of her eyes at Elly. Once again, respectful of status, yet firm.

"...However, unless your latest Strange Mood has brought about an unprecedented simultaneous raise of a second skil as well, I am the one who is well versed in Pharmacy here. And according to my supervision, I state under my own medical responsibility that right here, right now, there is something more appropriate to your case than the Pink Ones."

Uta, who's already close enough to the Baroness that coming any closer would really make no sense, after a moment of hesitation moves to place her hand on the Baroness's shoulder, should she accept. "Judging the amount of discipline needed in each circumstance can make the difference between life and death," Uta reprises. She doesn't say it explicitly, but the mostly level tone of her voice is tinged with a hint of melancholy which conveys an 'I do not like this either and I am not being strict for fun' undertone. "But, hey, on the plus side, you get to experience something new."

"You will wake up when you are fully rested, dawn or no dawn" Uta declares. "I will chim Tae and explain the situation. You have been away for so long, and so focused on your task, that this extra delay won't make much of a difference." A hint of playful mischievousness sneaks into Uta's features, pulling the corner of her mouth into a smirk. "But don't worry, I will make sure to wake you up if this start turning into a Rip Van Winkle scenario."

Uta inhales, and begins to intone the softest, most haunting of melodies. Tendrils of light and magic dance on her staff, focus on her gem as usual, but this time... this time something more happens. The magic of the (anatomically correct) heart-shaped gem in her staff resonates more deeply with the focus; it's as if that heart was -made- for this, as opposed to merely -working- for this. The warmth of Uta's lullaby begin to somehow simultaneously wrap around and soak into Wake's soul, like the fluffiest, warmest blanket and a hot tea, beyond what's natural. If Wake ever encountered the Sirens, as she might have in the Phantom Colosseum quest, she might recognize the feeling. She is now in the unique position of getting to experience them without the threat of death, in a safe environment; no wax or tying anyone to ship masts needed.

And then, the torpor continues. Wake will likely slide into a state of tepid powerlessness, very similar to that "but it's so warm and comfy!" one experiences in a warm bed on cold, lazy mornings.

And then, the floodgates of Morpheus are opened.

Weeks of put off sleep come trickling at once, sometimes pouring in large drips. Dreams do not wait for sleep to be fully achieved, so Wake might be finding herself in that semi-awake state where reality and memories, or plans for the future, meld into one confused reality: nobles, orphans, and celebrations of this success are blended in one pseudo-hypnagogic experience, an antechamber to sleep proper.

But one important feature of this whole state of being is that it's never outright unpleasant: it might be bittersweet at most (and it's entierely possible it's not even that), but it's certainly something that one does not want to leave. On the contrary, it is something that is precisely designed to erode one's will to leave.

And yes, it is entierely possible that, in her semi-dreaming state, Wake's legs will feel like cotton candy.
Baroness Wake

    The dreams Elly does range from the usual chaos the mind throws together in trying to figure itself out to visions of the work she has done. The many children she's held in her arms, whose tears she has wiped away, and who now rest comfortably in beds. Their dreams protected by sturdy, repaired roofs. There are some tears in her dreams, but they are joyful tears.

    At the first sliver of light, Elly is on her way. Silent as a mouse she rises, dresses, and gets outside. Before she leaves, she has left a note, promising to return again and assuring the children that they may always call her mother should they have the need. Those who never knew their parents need never fear the sadness of being alone. They have a parent now, who will come as often as she may to take care of her family. Reinforced by the power of her legndary status, it is true comfort.

    Elly's peko bears her away. She needs to return to Eas. Tae is waiting. There is always so much to do, but she is coming home again. Her greatest struggle yet is behind her, but she hopes that the work never ends.