An Envoy and Introductions

An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:45 pm

A black streak shot down from the bow of an elm. The wings arched to cushion himself as he settled in the grass. With three sharp snaps of his beak, he snatched up three fat snails, cracked their shells like beechnuts, and tipped back his head to guzzle the contents. Tultharian country wasn’t all bad. The snails were juicer. Didn’t rain all fecking summer. The yellow elms arched over the rutted road like lacy parasols, dappling the bare dirt with cool green shade and wavering sundrops.

It was a matter of finding her.

Well, no, it was never a matter of finding anyone. It was a matter of catching them in private and in a situation where they wouldn't be interrupted and weren't so vulnerable that they would shriek or throw things or go off in a panic to tell the villagers that a giant demon-raven had appeared in front of them and whispered vile prophecies with the tongue of a man, or whatever the hell they thought was happening.

Not like that had ever actually happened, though, the raven mused. The wanker, who with one minor blink had taken the whole thing in stride. The quiet lady, who had been forewarned. The big guy, so lost in his own interior landscape that one more apparition barely made a difference. Still, there was always a first time.

When hoofbeats clapped from the bend in the road, he fluttered back to his branch, retrieved a beribboned letter, and took off like a streak of black ink behind them. He knew who it was, of course. He always knew the delivery.

Trailing along behind a speeding carriage was not as simple as it seemed. Then it was a matter of waiting for them to stop, then making sure the stop wasn't a piss-break because there was no hope of engendering good will when you caught a lady with her skirts hiked up. But no one paid particular notice to a raven on the wing, even when it was clearly following a carriage like a small dark cloud of trouble, even when it lighted on the gable like a bad omen. About the closest he came to trouble was taking cover behind a chimney-pot as they went into the inn, since Glenn of all people might be watching the sky (though hiding ended up feeling a bit more like a betrayal than the raven was comfortable admitting).

By then it was near-dark anyway. He settled in to wait. Hopefully they weren't sharing a room--not for risk of seeing anything he shouldn't, but because the queen had specifically requested to be told if they were and he didn't want to have anything to report. Unfortunately, the windows were the sort with shutters. And no outer sills. He'd just have to take the risk.

A dozen or so smoky black fingers threaded their way through the wooden slats, gathering themselves into a knot on the opposite side. A letter manifested, seemingly out of thin air, and plopped to the floor.

"Shit," the cloud muttered, then solidified further into the distinct shape of a large bird. "Ah, shit again, didn't mean to swear--"

And then there was an embarrassed raven, quite substantial, very real, balanced on the windowledge. And a letter, rich with wax seals and red ribbon, upon the floor. The raven spoke as quickly as he could: "A message for Genevieve Tolleson; listen, please don't panic, I come in peace, I know Glenn."

Not that knowing Glenn made it any more likely to be welcomed.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:13 pm

Smoke solidified beyond the slats and well inside the dimly lit room where Genevieve could be found. She was alone in the sparse but well-appointed accommodations, there was a sturdy bureau and ceramic basin, even a proper bed, if a bit lumpy looking. In a state of half undress she sat hunched at the desk thoroughly absorbed in whatever document she penned. Laces of the top half of her dress were undone allowing the fabric to be folded down at the hip. The relaxed style revealed a modest, sweat-damp shift tinged with dust from the road.

Twilight was falling and only the lamp at the desk had been lit; the room was almost dark enough now that unless he had spoken she might never have known that someone or something was in the room.

‘Shit’

The sudden profanity and proclamation of peace received a gasp. With a start she jerked around, her arms snapping back defensively while her head turned to see the speaker. A pen flew across the room and lodged itself momentarily in a bedpost while somehow the well was knocked over, ink splattered in a violent line across the wall, and dabbled the page, before a tiny, calm stream dribbled to her skirts.

“No, no, no, no!”

The words seemed to be chiding the ink more than anything else. Either she had decided that the creature wasn’t the immediate threat of a fire-breathing, giant, bird demon or that the incident of the mess was more pressing. Her attention returned to the crime scene in black long enough to tip the container upright and salvage whatever, if any, ink remained. “Damn,” she swore softly with frustrated resignation; holding her hands up as if momentarily unsure how to proceed. The skirt was already lost and so she wiped her hands on it, leaving great black streaks beside the new smattering of polka dots.

Oddly, in this particular instance, knowing Glenn was probably in the raven’s favor.

“Benedict, I presume,” the words were offered gently, though not entirely welcoming if merely for the fact that she hadn’t entirely recovered from stain inducing surprise. She glanced down to the letter and then up to the ledge where the large bird sat perched. Previously, her red hair had been haphazardly scooped and tied into some manner of untidy bun. It had allowed unkempt tendrils to fall in loose curls providing, if nothing else, a somewhat handsome frame for her freckled face. It was a quaff that suggested she had no intention to go back out for the evening, and required she tuck a piece behind her ear in order to better see her company. Of course, doing so deposited an inky smudge on her left temple. If she had intended a dignified air in her words, her appearance contradicted it.

“Peculiar that you are exactly as he described."

She eyed him, seeming to examine the creature more thoroughly with a raised brow.

"Though I wonder, do you really come in peace? Your arrival was so terribly sudden I believe my spirit may have momentarily departed my body.”

Thankfully he had only managed to catch her in this state and not one with her clothes entirely off or a skirt hiked up for a roadside reprieve. Then she might well have died.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:21 am

Genny's jerk, plus the flying pen and the inkpot, startled the raven enough that he nearly lost his grip on the sill, which was already too narrow to seat anything much bigger than a blue jay. Frantically he looked about for a better perch, torn between stability and his first instinct to rescue the letter (letting the delivery drop, actually touch the ground, was Bad Manners beyond all fathoming).

"Ah, shit, I'm sorry," the raven said, temporarily forgetting that unbridled cursing was what started this little farce. "Usually this goes a lot more smoothly...do you have another skirt? I can get you another skirt. Well, a skirt's gonner be a little unwieldy to deliver but I can tell the lady and she can send you money to get yourself one..."

Overriding concern for the letter won out. He hopped down and strutted, with his awkward yet strangely formal ground-walk--like a country parson taking a constitutional--picked it up, shook it hard enough that the ribbons flapped to remove any grime. Even with the letter pinched between his beak, he carried on talking; apparently his mouth was not exactly where the words were coming from. "Yeah, Benedict. Glenn told you? Glenn's the only reason I got that name to begin with. He got real stubborn about names one time and it was the only way to shut him up."

For lack of other ink-free surfaces, he fluttered up to the bed's footboard and laid the letter on an unrumpled corner of the blanket. His head lifted, and he blinked at her a few times, bright blue eyes and head cocked at a politely curious cant. "Look, I am sorry. The shutters threw me off. You alright? You got a little something next to your eye there."
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:37 am

Losing his grip the bird teetered, spoke some more, and eventually met the missive on the floor with a rather jolly looking little jaunt.
The fallen letter and that it was Bad Manners didn’t seem to bother Genny at all, she simply looked at it and then him because they were there.

“I have others,” she gestured absently to the skirt with ink smudged hands, obviously not happy about the matter but accepting that what was done was done. “The Lady,” the words curled slowly, thoughtfully from her lips. It was such a curious, benign and commonplace designation, or rather, it should have been. It was merely because of Genny’s own experience, one all of Myrken had gone through not so very long ago, that those two words had a malicious sort of weight. But it too was done and her head cocked to the side with a willing curiosity.

“She must be quite gracious, if you think she would be inclined to provide recompense for such a blameless blunder.” The spilled ink wasn’t entirely blameless, but there were factors in play beyond either of their control and diminishing the incident was just polite. If it had been a person and not a seemingly enchanted raven with a letter to waft into the room perhaps they would be having a different conversation. Still, she glanced momentarily at her thin sword, thoroughly sheathed, and uselessly leaning against her small traveling case on the other side of the room.

Names were a curiously powerful thing, or so she had read and heard. Hearing how Glenn wouldn’t shut up might have raised the corner of her mouth an infinitesimal amount, but she was hardly smirking. “Having something proper to call you is probably easier,” especially for someone like Glenn who had a lot to say. It could be unwieldy to rely on ‘you’ or ‘that giant talking bird fellow’ each time he meant this particularly talented raven.

Not that it would help but she stood and walked towards the basin, meaning to wash her hands of the residue not that it was likely to come out easily. “I am. Are you?” The question was posited as she had no idea what the toll of turning to smoke to infiltrate a building would take on a creature, plus, he’d only just found purchase on the floor. She didn’t turn her back to him as she rinsed her hands, that seemed rude and possibly dangerous. Instead, with towel from the basin in hand she’d probe the wrong spot on her forehead and silently present it back as if the gesture alone were question enough for him to provide confirmation that ‘she got it’.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:19 pm

"My mistress," he clarified, taking Genny's musing thoughtfulness over lady for simple confusion. "The one who sent the letter. I thought he was supposed to tell you that, too. She said you'd know." The raven sounded curiously disappointed, not quite plaintive. Fancy Glenn of all people forgetting a piece of critical information, or the lady herself being mistaken about it. "Technically I'm supposed to function as a representative? So if I break anything it's like she broke something."

With a moment to spare while Genny mopped up the ink, the raven let his gaze wander elsewhere, here and there throughout the room. It was a room. Very square. Nothing much of interest that might give an hint to the nature of its occupant, save for the sword, which did not particularly alarm or disturb him, not the least reason being that it was well out of reach. Woman on the road, staying in somewhat shady rooming houses--perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately the end of the bed seemed the only convenient spot, other than the floor, so he stayed where he was, waiting politely for her to be finished. A glowing strand of Genny's hair, outlined by lamplight, lay on the floor. It was hard not to swoop down and collect it.

"Sure, I'm fine. Been followin' you lot most of the afternoon. Like waitin' for a dragonfly to light, I'm tellin' you. The lady's a little concerned about when you're gonner reach Myrken. Well, not concerned so much. Just a little eager." That part seemed safe enough to confide, but now he wondered if it might sound a little...well, predatory. "Not eager-eager. Excited-eager."

When Genny turned back to present herself, the raven leaned forward, peering at her brow but careful not to meet her eyes. "Still there," he said, apologetically. "Up a little more. Back toward your hairline."
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:35 pm

“Indeed,” she replied regarding the raven’s lady mistress, the sender of the letter, that Glenn was meant to inform her, and that she was meant to know the lady he referenced. Her tone was level, amicable, but not confirming nor questioning; rather, it could have been addressing all of the questions made statements that he had presented, with an answer that wasn’t an answer at all. It seemed well enough that he was innocent to the gravity of, ‘the lady,’ as a term; equally to allow him to make assumptions about what Glenn had or hadn’t said. Perhaps Glenn himself wouldn’t remember. They had talked extensively of late, more so than they ever had during their long and oddly defined relationship, and some in circumstances that left him entirely too vulnerable to someone with as many questions as she had.

“As a representative,” she nodded in understanding. “Not to worry, you may keep this matter out of any report. I have not the intention of holding spilled ink against your mistress.” Her tone was kinder, whether that was to benefit Benedict, to keep him out of trouble with his lady or save her own embarrassment regarding the incident.

He wouldn’t meet her eyes and that was a notable curiosity, along with the rest of his tale, or frankly his entire being. He had followed them, he seemed a spy in addition to an envoy. Still, she moved her hand along her hairline until the smudge was captured and buffed out of her forehead.

“Thank you,” she offered for the assistance absently folding the towel into fourths as a matter of habit. The towel was then set neatly beside the basin; her face and hands now free of anything that would transfer, though still stained in several spots that would take a day or two to fade.

“Excited-eager,” she repeated, but then returned to the matter of Benedict’s tale, “that must have been a terribly long, and boring journey, given that you have all of the sky at your disposal. Does it not leave you tired? Are you hungry?”

Slowly she approached the end of the bed and at two or three paces away she knelt to the floor as if Benedict were a monarch and she to be knighted. It merely brought her head, with inquisitive eyes, as close to level with his as she could manage.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Sun Sep 08, 2019 5:12 pm

Now for once he was worried he might have gotten Glenn in trouble by revealing that the man might have known more about all this than he'd let on. Eh. Glenn was a big boy; he could catch a little flack. The lady's business was the only really important thing here, although now he was rather hoping he might be dismissed. This woman was prodding. There was something she wanted. Sometimes kinder meant kind. Sometimes they were just softening you up.

Oddly enough, he was more sure-footed on this game than most others. Tuatha were always prodding for something, trying to get you to give away more than you were supposed to. He'd have to watch himself. Which was a shame because he had just thought of a pretty funny joke about Glenn's propensity for hanging out with ginger giantesses.

"Not too long," he replied. "And actually most of the time I was just feeling sorry for your horses, draggin' that big clattery box around all day. I can take a breather when I want but they can't. I guess they're used to it. But you think they'd be terrified. That thing's loud, and horses spook easy anyway."

Ravens--birds in general--do not like to be stared at, nor can they match anyone's gaze for very long. This raven was a bit more used to it than most, but having her actually lower herself to his level, only a few feet away, immediately set the quills to quivering up and down his back like a bad case of lice. His neck ruffled, and he squirmed uncomfortably, an automatic twitch that, for the briefest of instants, flashed the house colors on the underside of his wings--red and gold. "Not for nothin' but can we not do the starin' contest? I know you humans look each other in the eye to make sure you're tellin' the truth, but right now all I can think of is a hungry fox."
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:43 am

Glenn could be in trouble, whether or not he was didn't show on Genny's face.

“Can you talk to horses,” she asked with abrupt and genuine curiosity. After all, a talking raven was a bit outside her area of expertise, perhaps Benedict had a way to bridge the gap. But then again, perhaps he could only speak to other birds or even ravens specifically. If he was able to converse with other animals maybe he could simply find out for them, confirm the line of reasoning that he presented, which certainly seemed to make sense.

If she was prodding, it was ever so gently. At the slightest hint of his discomfort she stilled her advance. And at the flash of the red and gold, her face seemed to actively retreat as she rocked back and sat on her heels. “Apologies, you are by far the most interesting creature I think I have ever encountered,” her look was voracious, but only in careful curiosity and somewhat awed admiration. She had met some interesting people who were probably closer to creatures, as it went Benedict was probably a creature far closer to being a person.

“Perhaps my hair likens me to one but I assure you I am neither hungry, nor a fox. It may be presumptuous, however, as you have no intention of harming me, I will act in kind,” she opened her hands, palm up, in a display of surrender. It worked with cats, perhaps it worked with birds as well?

Glancing away to the window, she smiled, a purposeful action averting her gaze to put him at ease. “It is merely an odd thing to talk to someone without looking at them, searching for truth or otherwise.” And perhaps he already knew that, he had spoken to Glenn at least, perhaps a dozen or hundreds of other people. Looking at people was common practice for regular folk, though she wasn’t exactly regular folk either and had talked to people without seeing them on many occasions.

“If it is any consolation, I doubt I would be able to ascertain anything from your eyes; having no experience reading the intention or emotions of a raven. If that is truly what you are.” The last bit was definitely prodding, but the tone closer to a genuine question from a curious child than an accusation.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:10 am

"Sure," he replied matter-of-factly, "anyone can talk to horses. If what you're askin' is do I speak Horse, then no."

She recoiled a little, rocking back on her heels, when his wings spread for balance. Maybe that was natural, having your vulnerable face so close to an agitated carrion bird with a sharp, heavy beak, and some folks were frightened of any bird bigger than a titmouse anyway. But he didn't quite buy it. The way she'd jerked back...it kind of made him wonder if maybe something a lot scarier and more threatening than him hadn't made that gesture toward her before.

Recognition. That was the word.

It was a bit more mollifying to be told that he was the most interesting creature someone had ever met, though it did make him wonder if Genny got out very much. The lady, it seemed, grossly underestimated how interesting a mere letter might be compared to a talking bird. Back home, the message and the raven were a sort of two-part unit, like a cup and a saucer, and as with a cup and saucer, people tended to be more interested in the contents of the former than in the object that conveyed it.

He tolerated Genny's interest with good humor, preening politely for her benefit, with only a small greedy glance into her open palms to ascertain whether or not she had treats. "S'alright. You humans, sometimes you forget you're predators too. Look," he said, in response to the open prodding, "I get this a lot now, apparently, so just to clear it up: yes, I'm really a raven; no, I'm not some poor sap who got turned into a raven and condemned to deliver other people's mail for a thousand years; and I only speak Raven and People. If there's some secret mystical language that all birds have in common then they ain't told me yet. There," he concluded cheerfully. "Now you know me. So who are you? How do you know Glenn? How'd you get suckered into travelin' with him? Do you still have ears under all that hair or has he talked 'em off yet?"
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Tue Sep 10, 2019 8:27 am

Fair enough; horse speak was Horse and though his answer was at best sarcastic, it wasn’t entirely useless. Though how, when, or even if that tidbit of knowledge would come in handy seemed awfully unlikely.

The meager flash of recognition was just that. She might have been an excellent Poker player when her mind was calm enough for the task; she hid her emotions well and for the most part tried to give little ground in her reactions and replies. She would be honest and perhaps even disarming, but measured.

If sass was how it was going to be, well, “you know such a great deal about me already; you know my name,” though she didn’t repeat it. “And that I am just a human person, not a poor raven turned into a human and condemned to muddle about, and I only speak People. Though I would gladly try to learn Raven if I had a willing tutor.” She genuinely smirked, it wasn’t an expression she often had but it suited her well enough; though it probably looked more at home on her brother’s face.

“There,” she offered back, still looking away.

“I have answered as much about me as you have offered about yourself. As for your questions, you are the intruder therefore it is unseemly to be so demanding; how do you know Glenn? And how have you become ‘suckered’ into delivering messages at the behest of your most curious mistress?”

“And for good measure, to be absolutely sure, is your only purpose here to deliver that message?”

Her eyes returned, and now they were looking for the truth. Whether or not she had the capacity to see it.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:08 pm

"You really need a beak to speak Raven," he said with some sympathy. "Scratches your throat up something awful. Sometimes the lady tries to speak it but it's just sort of hilarious."

The raven twisted slightly in place, cocking his head at her. It was hard to read an expression on his sleek, unsmiling face, but that was hardly his fault; he had none of the usual tells of a human, no eyebrow to raise in skepticism, no friendly creases to invite camaraderie. His beak unhinged itself just a little, giving him a look not unlike a panting dog. The round pale eyes blinked a few times, and the edge of a scarlet feather stuck out from a disarranged wing.

Fortunately most of her questions were ones he was allowed to answer. The ones that weren't required only slight modification. "I don't actually know you except she told me that you were from town and you were with Glenn. I know Glenn because she sent me to Glenn. I don't know how they know each other, just that they knew each other before I came along. Him and me natter a bit sometimes. Usually I don't talk to the delivery but the rules are a little different Here." When he said Here, he pronounced the capital, as if Here were a monolith. "No one suckered me. She asks, I bring things. If anything I think Glenn might've suckered her. And I'm only here to bring the letter, although she did say I was allowed to talk to you if it seemed appropriate--her word, not mine."
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:21 pm

“Kind of her to try though, I suppose?” The statement came as a question, was the lady kind? And if it had a purpose, it was a mild and circuitous way of getting Benedict’s option on his mistress. After all, having opinions didn’t make a servant or a friend disloyal.

Genny lowered another inch or two as she relaxed more noticeably and leaned, propping herself up with her right hand and sliding her legs to the side. Seemingly content to sit on the floor, chat, and observe her company.

“Appropriate, indeed!” The choice of words seemed to tickle her. “You are a wonder; how could I not speak with you. When an opportunity presents itself so thoroughly...” and he had, seemingly appeared out of no where in her room.

“He seems to find you a fine friend,” the term might have been a bit of a stretch based on what Glenn had actually told her about Benedict, which was relatively little. But Benedict didn’t seem to know what or how much was said and aside from the fact that Glenn would talk at length to anyone who would listen, and even those who wouldn’t, it seemed a perfectly innocent assumption.

“Do you enjoy your visits with him? Do you like it here,” here, Here; there was something about ‘here,’ and her use of it echoed his intonation.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Tue Sep 17, 2019 1:16 pm

It felt a bit weird to tower over a delivery. It was another one of those nitpicky, unspoken rules of Court: you perched over the delivery, it was an insult; stand on the floor and it was a reflection of the status of the sender. Waist-high was recommended. But there was nowhere else to go and technically, he'd made the delivery even if she hadn't touched the letter itself, and she looked sort of cozy curled up on the floor, as if she were prepared to camp out down there for a while.

He caught the question for what it was, an inquiry into his lady's temperament. Still fishing even from the floor, but this one was something he didn't mind answering truthfully: "I don't know about kind. I think she only does it to make me happy, even if she can only really say two different kinds of hellos. I guess that's kind of kind."

The other side of the coin was that even if tultharian ignored the message in favor of cross-examining the messenger, it was nice to be acknowledged. He gave a modest if pleased rrrk! in response to being called a wonder, and smoothed out his feathers to shine better in the lamplight.

"Glenn's all right," he admitted grudgingly. "Talks a lot of wank. Lies on the floor more'n a man his age really should. Takes a lot of looking-after--you'd attest to that one, I bet--but I don't know if you'd call this friendship. Maybe...very cordial working relationship; he'd probably agree to that one. He's interesting. Most of you are," he confided, as if this were secret insider information to which Genny was especially privy. "Here is pretty much the same as anywhere, just that people are different."
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Tolleson » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:42 pm

Perhaps Genny wouldn’t have settled into the lowly position on the floor if she had any sense of the etiquette involved in such deliveries. Then again, even without knowing, what better way to display humility and show that she was not a threat. Her dress was already ruined, what additional damage could dust bunnies inflict?

His answer regarding his mistress was interesting, and not just because it revealed him as clever. Caring for another’s happiness was a kind of kindness, she nodded slightly as if to agree. Though whether or not she actually did, or for that matter, believed a word the talking raven said, would be a matter of pure speculation.

The subtle expression accompanying her nod burst into a grin at the pleased noise Benedict made as he smoothed the feathers. Even if she had been paying compliments to curry some sort of favor or make him amenable to the direction of their conversation, she seemed genuinely delighted at his reaction. Despite that his existence was now readily accepted and she had acclimated to his form, she still seemed genuinely curious about him, visibly enthralled with his very presence.

“He is a fascinating man, more than most,” her tone held a slight lilt of friendly affection and utter confidence in the statement as a matter of fact. Anyone who had met him would agree. Either that or they would have stopped listening after the first five minutes and simply say, well, that he prattled on and indeed, ‘talked a lot of wank.’

“You listen and talk to him, which sets you leagues ahead of most other people,” as if Benedict himself was a person to be counted equally among Glenn’s acquaintances. “Do you receive letters yourself, or merely deliver them?” That might be the real test of friendship with Glenn Burnie, then again, by now half of Myrken or more had probably received missives from Razasan. Glenn himself had told her as much.

As for the comment made about people being ‘different,’ she was quiet. ‘Different,’ could mean many things and yet she had suspicion that ‘Here,’ was a bit more complex than here at this roadside Inn, or somewhere half-way between Myrken and Darras, or Razasan for that matter, perhaps the entire province or more.
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Re: An Envoy and Introductions

Postby Niabh » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:47 am

His head cocked to the side. Maybe not everyone found Glenn fascinating--infuriating was probably a better word--but this one certainly did. The Lady's affection was mingled with a certain cheerful exasperation that made it tolerable, but this one...she had swallowed the whole bait, no doubt about it. Lugh'us Dannan. He wondered if the lady knew that, and if that was the reason she asked about the sleeping arrangements. Moreover, he wondered if the lady needed to know that. That particular piece of information, he quickly decided, was now on a direct-question-only basis.

"Can't read," the raven replied, summing up simply the great irony of his existence: all those letters and not a lick of literacy. He shuffled comfortably, scattered dust from his feathers. "I talk a bit. Mostly listen. She's like that too, a chatterbox, but she's not a pinch on him. Get 'em both together and you just don't know--it's bad enough with just the letters, but when they're face to face they go at it all night. Does he do that with you, too?"

Then she was quiet, thoughtful, and for a moment he fell quiet too, watching her, wondering what she was wondering about.
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