What Lies Beyond the Looking Glass

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Artemis, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. What Lies Beyond the Looking Glass

    Andrew Caine, Silver

    Political unrest in the kingdom of Aurelian was putting it mildly. Andrew sat within his study as a stack of parchment was his sole company. The fireplace - bordered with fine marble - burned brightly as the warmth kept out the season of windfall’s icy nights. Unlike other Aurelian nobles, Andrew preferred spartan comforts as opposed to needless luxuries and decadence. His study only contained shelves of tombs collect from all over the kingdom and beyond while a great rub made of the pelts of five great bears the noble hunted had adorned his dark marble floor. His table made from the finest of cinder wood. His house’s crest hung high above behind him. Portraits from great artist lined each pillar that started from the floor and reached to the ceiling. Though extravagant to a peasant perhaps, this was hardly anything unique - save for the design of course.

    Andrew scowled as he signed a paper and moved onto the next. The death of the empress couldn’t have come at a worser time. With Minister Justinian taking over, he wasn’t sure what was more outrageous. That the minister had somehow managed to remain alive or the riots that had sprouted all over the kingdom. The plague that swept the streets of the capital and the near cities was staggering as well. The city guard and the military had long since absolved into one force for logistical reasons. Quarantines were erected all over the cities. Those who had symptoms of the plague were quarantined immediately. It was merely for show however. Andrew held no illusions what policies he had helped enact. The directive of killing the infected if they got belligerent. While the empress heavily opposed this, she was forced to concede when city guards were assaulted by the individuals and became infected themselves. Grim business. He was sure history would not have been kind on him.

    Now, before him, he was to approve the regency of minister Justinian. The absolute insult it was! The minister had disregarded the proper conduct and had seated himself due to military enforcement. Being friends — Andrew mused — with the admiralty seemed to have paid off for that snake. Refusal of the proposal was his first choice. However, his well-being would’ve been jeopardized. Andrew had no desire to join the empress — bless her soul.

    Hearing a knock at the door, he looked up as he shifted his monocle. “Enter!”

    The door swung open as one of his attendants walked in. “Lord Caine,” said the young man. “You requested records earlier, sir. The lead attendant charged me with delivering them.”

    The documents to the under city. The errand had slipped Andrew’s mind. “Set it on the table,” he said. “I expect Lady Erin to be visiting later this evening. Has she arrived yet?”

    “I shall inquire at once, Lord.”

    Returning to his work, Andrew dismissed the attendant with a hand. When he heard the door close, he pushed the documents to the side and got up. He groaned as he stretched his legs. Sitting was for the lazy he thought. Rather than being cooped up in his glorified prison, riding out for the hunt or simply strolling through the noble quarters was much more tempting. Sorting the affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was not his job. What he did was merely a courtesy given his family’s legacy to the city. The city as indebted to him and his ancestors. Under the purview of the empress, Aurelian had prospered because of House Caine’s actions.

    Hearing another knock, Andrew looked towards the door. “Lady Erin, a pleasure,” he said as he motioned towards the chair at his study. How improper this meeting was. His attendant should’ve kept the vixen in the foyer. “Let us skip the formalities, Lady. You’ve requested to speak to me. Why?”

    Lady Erin, dressed in a beautiful emerald green dress sat down, her face hidden a ballroom mask. The exquisite pieces were part of the culture of the nobles. The game of intrigue. It was truly the ultimate game in both court favor and silencing enemies. “Thank you Lord Caine - I assure you - the time you spare myself is but an honor.”

    Andrew smiled as he took a seat. “House Caravel - as always - may it remain strong,” he said. He was in no mood for court speak. “Now pray, Lady Erin, what brings you to my estate?”

    Looking towards the documents, the woman sighed. “I assume - as we all I assure you - that you’re busied by current matters? The death of her majesty - a tragedy - was a horrific incident.”

    “May she rest in the embrace of the Earth,” Andrew said, cautious of what the woman wanted. “Milady, your business? As you say - as you could no doubt tell - I am rather preoccupied at the moment.”

    “House Caravel would like your support - graciously requested - to lobby for the western burrows.”

    Andrew tapped his fingers against his chair. A bemused eyebrow shot up. “For what reason?”

    Lady Erin stiffened under his gaze. The Game had begun. “The merchants - if you will - have been under the guidance of House Caravel before the rebellion. With the area of the city left without a Shepherd, House Caravel desires back what once was theirs.”

    “Why would I desire - no affront intended, of course - the influence of a fellow house to increase? What would House Caine gain from this - if you’d be so kind?”

    “Other than the favor of a grateful House of Aurelian? Talks - negotiations - of merchant tributes could be arranged - under the purview of friendship. Is it not a favorable for both of our houses, my lord?”

    Intrigued, Andrew saw the sense in the deal. It would certainly expand House Caravel’s influence; but if Andrew were to manipulate the negotiations, the influence and political power of House Caine could advance as well. With the recent occurrences, allies for his house was in great demand. It was no little secret that Minister Justinian and himself were at odds on multiple things. He needed all the political draw he could get.

    Andrew rose as Erin did as well. “If it’d be proper, Lady Erin, we shall continue these talks at a later date.” Walking towards the door, he led her out as they made their way to the grand hall. “I shall think - with great care - on what we’ve discussed. You’ll have my terms and answer - quickly delivered - in due time. When things settle down.”

    When they reached the main door, Lady Erin turned towards him and curtsied. “We await your answer, milord.”

    “A good evening then Lady Erin.”

    As his attendants walked Lady Erin to her carriage, Andrew stayed until the carriage pulled out. Turning hard on his heels, he looked over to his head steward. “Have Aislyn attend me at my study,” he told the steward. “Also, send some servants to inquire the Minister of Economics. She has something for me.”

    The man bowed as he went about his master’s orders. Ascending the stairs, Andrew went back to his study as he rubbed his forehead. Things were moving quickly, and he had to ensure he’d come out on top.
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  2. Aislyn Grey, gray
    "Miss Aislyn, Master Cain requests your presence in his study." Aislyn blinked the dust out of her eyes and fixed her gaze upon the maid who called for her attention. Was it that time already?

    "Thank you, Sara, run down to the kitchen and have the cook put on some tea, please." A quick bobbed curtsy- really, it wasn't necessary, she was no lady- and Sara was off to the kitchens. In the wrong direction. Aislyn pinched the bridge of her nose through the white dust mask, and carefully climbed back down the ladder she'd been perched on to dust the chandeliers. Ever since this plague nonsense has started they'd lost far too many of the household staff.

    Good help was getting difficult to come by.

    As soon as she was safely on the floor, she gave her skirts a good solid shake. It did little to remove the dirt from the folds of black, but that was about as clean as it would get until she could stop to change. Making a mental note to have someone come by to polish the marble floors again, Aislyn started making her way to the kitchens.

    "Aislyn! Good to see ya. Time for tea?" And Sara had yet to arrive. No matter, she would have the cook send Sara up with the tea.

    "Yes, Sara was supposed to get it started. Have her bring up a tray when she finds her way here?"

    "Can do." A curt nod, and Aislyn turned to leave. "Woah there, Aislyn, don't you think it's about time we start in on the preserves?"

    She didn't have to look at the cook to see the nervous expression on his face. Everyone had been on edge, ever since the plague started... A fifth of every man and woman sent to market to buy food for the household didn't return.

    "You know the answer to that, cookie." He cringed at her use of his nickname. "We have to go out for fresh food for as long as we can. The preserves are to be saved for only dire circumstances. Who knows when this madness will end. Two kitchen staff, three guards, just like always. No more, no less."

    "Aye. I won't be happy 'bout it though. And you know the saying, unhappy-"

    "Unhappy cooks burn food. Do try not to ruin the masters tea." Taking the few steps needed to close the distance between her and the cook, she offerred a pat on the arm for comfort, and a small smile. "It'll all be over soon, I'm sure of it."

    It was no comfort, when the silent night streets echoed with screams that reached even as far as the Caine manse, but it was all she could offer.

    She passed Sara on her way to the masters study, directed the poor girl in the proper direction, and gave herself one last pat to shake loose any extra dust before knocking on the door. His response was quick, as always when he was expecting her.

    She entered smoothly, and lowered into a curtsy. Black skirts fanning out around her legs, and head lowered demurely. "Master Caine, how can I be of assistance?"
    #2 Kitsunemage, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
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  3. Andrew Caine, Silver

    Andrew was once again reading his documents when he heard a knock at the door. Several moments later, he saw Aislyn walk in as she curtsied. "Sit," he said as he motioned towards the chair resting opposite of him. When she took her seat, he heard yet another knock as a maid came in. He looked at the tray. Evening tea. The initiative of Aislyn he supposed. It was his typical routine as of late.

    "Tea my lord," said the maid as he nodded. "Anything else, sir?"

    "No," he said. "Leave us. Wait. If you should run into the head steward, inquire to him if the servants I dispatched have returned. You don't need specifics. He will know of what I speak of. Inquire in half an hours time."

    When the servant departed, he picked up where he had stopped writing. The letter was addressed to Lord Terran, head of a House closely tied to his own. Taking a pause, he pointed to a stack of papers. "I require your gentle touch. Those missives must be sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The wax is right there. Seal them." He went back to finishing the terse message he was to send off. Out of his many servants, Aislyn had won his favor. Diligent to her tasks, intelligence and initiative were not vacant from woman. While many masters Lords and Ladies would detest such traits, he commended them. "I trust you can carry out your task and chat? I've heard whispers of discontent amongst the staff. I've taken precautions to ensure their safety; all persons under my care are valuable."

    Dropping his hawk's quill into his ink pot, Andrew took and envelop and carefully slid the letter within. Resting it before him, he sat back and watched Aislyn work. "So, Aislyn, as a member of my House do you feel a lack care from myself? Be honest, girl." His eyes rested on her young face. "The plague - unfortunately - eludes the countermeasures I've enacted. Even with these preposterous quarantines and curfew that the Reagent passed. Have you any thoughts on the matter, girl? Like before, be honest. Your words may impact your fellows."

    Reaching over to the tea, he poured himself a cup and took a drink. Tea from the orients. Exquisite taste. He eyed the extra cup. "Care for a cup, Aislyn?"

  4. Aislyn Grey, gray
    "Thank you, Mi'lord, you are too kind. I fear such fare is far too rich for my tastes, however." Not once did Aislyn look up from the task he'd set to her. She tackled it with the same single minded focus she tackled all of her chores, her fingers deftly dripping the wax and pressing the house seal she found on the desk into the small molten puddle. It was calming work, soothing. Just what she needed to calm her sudden nerves.

    The last time she'd had honesty requested of her from a noble... the results had been quite disastrous.

    "I can say, with all due honesty, that I feel no lack of care as a member of your household. When we visit the other houses, the servants gossip- that is, nothing of import really-" She scrambled for some way to phrase her next question. She didn't want to be charged of slandering the noble houses... nor did she want to fall short of Young master Caine's request. "If I may be frank... the other lords and ladies are not always as kind, as you yourself."

    It still fell short of the eloquence she was aiming for. Her lips pursed with thought, her fingers steadily working away at the pile of missives he had indicated she take care of.

    "But this plague weighs heavily on everyone's heart. They are afeared, knowing that at any moment they could be the next to fall prey... It is mostly the supply runs. To feed so many people, we must keep bringing in food, else we might starve before this plague ends... mi'lord."
    #4 Kitsunemage, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  5. Andrew Caine, Silver

    Andrew shrugged as he took another sip from the cup. "Intriguing. Not many would turn away such a fine brew," he said. He marveled at her concentration. Truly, Andrew felt good knowing that he had such a diligent servant. "The offer still stands, if you should change your mind."

    The indecision of the wasn't lost on the Lord as he awaited her answer to his query. A bit unorthodox, but who else could offer sound advice, if not from the source itself? It was true that nobles didn't take criticism well. Even Andrew had problems with it sometimes, his pride spurred several incidents. However, this was not a matter of honor, but one of keeping those under his dominion happy and keeping his estate - his sanctuary - running as smoothly as possible.

    He would be lying if he said Aislyn's words didn't please his ears. Loyalty through well treatment was a founding principle his father had instilled into him. Carrying on this principle, Andrew also demanded respect, which many had given him. He smiled at Aislyn's attempt at court speak. The poor girl. "It is true - to a degree - that nobles keep their servants in despicable regard," he said. "I share your regard; however, take care in who you share that with. I trust the gossiping between our House and others is in good taste?"

    Finally, they had reached the topic he hoped Aislyn would illuminate him on. He nodded as he stared at the ceiling above. He had been pondering that very question. How could he keep his staff safe when gathering from the marketplace? Those who contracted the plague were quarantined. It was terrible business going about doing it. Casualties in the guard were high due to the infected attacking anyone in manic rage. It was as if the gods were punishing them.

    "So my precautions haven't kept my people safe?" he said more so to himself. He had assigned guards and masks. There was little else he could do outside of having supplies delivered straight to the estate. However, that would bring the plague within the grounds, which he simply would not permit, if the concern was valid at all.

    "I would normally seek counsel with the head steward on this matter," he said. "But, during the time you've been under my employ, I've come to value your opinion. So humor me, if you could. I have assigned guards to our supply runs, issued masks to prevent airborne or fluids from entering the mouth. What other precautions would you suggest, Aislyn? As you know, this problem extends far beyond our personal predicaments."
  6. Aislyn Grey, gray
    Aislyn longed for needlework, embroidery, anything more complex then the simple task set before her. It would have given her an excuse to sit quietly, and concentrate while she thought of an answer. A common trick many of the maids had come to use among their circles. She thought for as long as she dared, before answering.

    "I... Mi'lord," She chanced a glance at the young lord, stormy gray meeting icy blue for the barest of moments, "I don't know.. why you value the opinion of one such as myself... Perhaps, we might think of finding some covering, for the eyes." And then she ran out of letters. For a moment she fussed, stacking the sheaf's of paper just so, and replacing the seal in the exact position she had found it. With nothing left to occupy her hands, she folded them nervously in her lap.

    "Veils might work, if we found a fabric sheer enough. Glass, would be best..." But glass was expensive, and would need to be ordered custom. The likelihood of the glass blowers still working was slight. "the masks and guards protect us from the worst. I fear if we increased the guard, it would merely make us a larger target. Reducing it would make us more tempting for thieves..." And if they reduced the number of people going out altogether, they might starve within a month. And that only if they rationed.

    "I wonder if we might turn some of the gardens into patches for vegetables?"
  7. Andrew Caine, Silver

    Andrew met the maid's grey eyes dead on. She was uncomfortable he thought to himself. "All have valid opinion. The lowest of servants to even the most arrogant of lords. The question is who's capable of being intelligent in the manner of convey. You have said capability; hence, why I ask your opinion," he said. He watched as Aislyn fidgeted with the envelops. He smiled. Perhaps he expected too much from the girl? The thoughts banished - for now - when she mentioned coverings for the eyes. "A full facial contraption, then?"

    It was an interesting thought. The trouble with that was the Minister had decreed that all such masks were to be given to the guard. Though he could risk the black dealers - not in person but through a vessel of course - such a mask could certainly be found. When Aislyn mentioned glass, Andrew narrowed his eyes. Those pieces were expensive. Unlike the metallic parts of the great steam works employed at the factories or the masks that said factory workers wore, glass was custom order. Many of the glass workers had been forced to manufacture for the military. Yet another one of Justinian's decrees. No, he could not risk going to them. Plus, the sheer cost to outfit every servant with said glasswork. The costs far outweighed the benefits.

    He sighed. "The improvements you mentioned - countless times before - have been considered. Unfortunately, glass is simply out of the question," he said. "The formation of our suppliers shall not change. It simply wouldn't do to leave my charges ill-equipped to defend themselves, yet unwanted attention is undesirable. You have helped immensely, Aislyn."

    Raising a prominent eyebrow, Andrew listened at the last request. Growing vegetables in the garden? He had never thought of that, for the garden was the least of his worries. However, the floral in there existed for the pleasure of his guests at his social functions. Would vegetables ruin that aesthetic? "A possible eventuality," he said. "Have you given thought to where exactly the vegetables would go? Simply exchanging beauty for practicality in such a public space requires ... planning."

    A thought came to mind as Andrew retrieved an envelop from his drawer and handed it to Aislyn. "You'll find it sealed." He crossed his hands together. "A letter from your mother it seems. I meant to return it to you immediately, but - as you can no doubt see - other things took precedence." He pointed to a section in his study. "There is a blue print of the estate. It is labeled on the spine. Bring it here. We shall see to this vegetation idea of yours."
  8. Aislyn Grey, gray
    "Thank you, Master Caine," Aislyn stood automatically, eyes fixed on the envelope he'd handed to her. It was definitely her mothers- they'd never had a house seal, but there was the small 'A' carved into the wax in the bottom right corner. A habit of her mothers that always brought a small smile to her face. Aislyn always insisted she use a 'G' for their family name. Her mother said it wouldn't be their family if they didn't have her.

    A small bright spot, in an otherwise dreary place.

    She found the the blueprint easily, and opened it to the view of the grounds. Rose gardens, tulip gardens, stone paths that crossed though them. It would be difficult to find space for them, without transplanting a few of the other species. They couldn't ruin the natural beauty of the gardens either- even if she thought the cooks herb plot in the back was one of the most beautiful things she'd seen.

    "What if... what if we planted some vegetables with the spring flowers?" Aislyn pointed to the eastern gardens. During the summer, it was mostly greenery, though the walking paths were quite peaceful and shaded. "They would flower at the same time, and then a garden wouldn't need to be cleared. Potato's have beautiful blooms. Herbs might make some nice accents for the lilies as well..."

    For a moment, it was like she was talking to her father again. Discussing the grounds, the arrangements. The things that pleased the nobles, and things they might change. She almost forgot her place.
  9. Andrew Caine, Silver

    Listening passively, Andrew wasn't familiar with what the maid was talking about. However, he could imagine it. He wasn't so sheltered from botanic life that he wouldn't know the difference between a tulip and the flowers that generally bloomed in Spring. However, recalling and being able to decorate the garden wasn't in his repertoire.

    Amused by the descriptions, he gestured to Aislyn. "Why have you stopped? Continue." It took Andrew a moment to see the situation from the maid's point of view. No doubt she was raised under the notion that she was not to speak unless absolutely addressed to first. Brevity was something prized amongst the nobles as well. Normally, Andrew would've preferred that. This was a rare exception. "So the eastern gardens, you say? As long as it keeps the courtyard gardens in good taste, I don't surmise myself being opposed."

    Before the conversation could continue any further, a knock came from the door. Andrew was about to have the visitor come later until the door burst open. It was a guard. Andrew cast his eyes over the man. "Understand that your conduct is highly improper."

    The guard saluted as he looked down. "Your lordship," he said. "A thousand apologies. The news I bring is pressing. It couldn't wait."

    He looked at Aislyn then back to the guard. "Report then."

    "A riot has broken out mere blocks from here. I was told from the last supply run of the night. The royal guard is trying to restore order, but your lordsh--"

    Andrew held up a finger. "Careful how you continue," he said. "You're not insinuating that I run?"

    The guard gulped. "I would be remiss if I said otherwise, your lordship."

    Sighing, Andrew got to his feet. "Have the guards stand to then. Everyone. I don't wish for our steel to cut down innocents. Convey that to the men, if you'd be so kind."

    "Yes, lordship."

    When the man left, Andrew walked towards the door as he turned. "Aislyn, go to the staff quarters and tell them to wait in the kitchen area. Tell the head steward that they are to keep to their duties in the immediate area. I shall not lose more of you."

    Wishing that he could continue their talks, more pressing matters needed attending to. Never had the mobs had reason to hate him, he had advocated on their behalf many times and more. If anything, his public repute was envied by the other noble houses. A sick feeling welled in his gut. What if the riot as instigated by another House? Walking into his room, he donned traveling clothes as he wrapped a fur coat over his shoulders. Strapping his House sword and well maintained pistol to his belt, he walked towards the great hall. his guards were waiting for him.

    "Are your mean to their post?"

    "Yes, lordship."

    Taking a deep breathe, he along with his captain walked out into the brisk night. The sound of voices grew louder as he donned his noble's mask - a beautiful thing dyed with the darkest of blues with grey embroideries drawing fierce decal. His soldiers - similarly masked in plain grey - stood to attention as rifles were drawn as well as sword and spears. He waited patiently as the first torch was seen then many more. It was time to talk down a crowd.

  10. Aislyn Grey, gray
    "Yes, Mi'lord." Aislyn was glad, beyond all doubt, that she hadn't been the one to earn such a look from the young master. She curtsied to hide her fear, not of the lord, but of the riots the guard had brought news from. So close to the manor. That amount of noise would be an attraction to the mindless plague that walked on human feet.

    Everything moved quickly from there.

    Aislyn ran through the halls, her skirts clutched in one hand to keep from stepping on the hem in her haste. She found the head steward first, who immediately sent her back non rounds to inform every servant, maid, and attendant she came across of the household meeting in the kitchens. She Kept her voice calm, despite the panic that bubbled in her chest. It would do no good to have the other staff panicked. It would only make it that much more difficult for the guards to protect them.

    The kitchen was chaos, servants talking over each other, trying to be heard. By whom, she couldn't tell, because whoever it was had been mobbed. It took a while for the head steward (the man who had been in the center of the mess) to restore quiet.

    She tuned him out, as he explained the situation, and all of the precautions that were being put into place to protect them. She'd already heard the entire thing from the source. Young master Caine. She'd never had much opportunity to speak to the man, something she'd expected to never change. Whether her surprise was pleasant, or not, was far beyond her comprehension at the moment. To even hand her a letter from her mother himself-

    The letter. Aislyn had forgotten it in the study.

    As discreetly as possible, Aislyn slid out of the kitchen. She made her way- calmly- back up to the study, only to hesitate at the door. She shouldn't enter the study unbidden... but what if she merely brought the tea tray back? Surely that would be fine. She still felt like a thief as she crept into the study and hastily gathered the left-over tea, the letter she tucked in her skirts. By the time she made it back to the kitchen, the meeting was disbanding. Uneasy murmurs followed the people who left. She would have to read the letter another time. For now, she had more chores to finish.
  11. Andrew Caine, Silver

    It hadn't taken long for the mob to fully manifest itself. Andrew stood with his guards. The Captain, a veteran from the Eastern Sea wars, stood before him with his weapons drawn. Fortune had graced Andrew with a devoted soldier. He had saved the man once, and won a bond with the man many military leaders would kill to have. It helped that Andrew led by example whenever appropriate. Like now.

    The crowds came to a stop at the head of the gates as Andrew took one step forward. His posture was military perfect as his blue eyes stared from the mask's slits. His guards stood in front of him, lances and swords drawn. Riflemen were standing afar on vantage points. All the precautions were taken. May fortune favor him.

    His Captain stepped forward as he spoke in a clear voices, "Citizens! you are to disperse immediately from the vicinity! By decree of the Regent, you are in violation of curfew! Leave now before you are all arrested for breaking the law!"

    "Not till we get some answers!" retorted a man holding a metal pipe. "Word has it that the esteemed House Caine is hoarding food. More unsettling, kidnapping folks and throwing them into the quarantines!"

    Andrew listened as the crowd roared for retribution, for blood. It was interesting. He was, in fact, one of the nobles that supported the policy of increased quarantines. What troubled him was the notion of kidnappings. He had tried to be as transparent as possible with the people. Even with his goodwill, the good people thought differently.

    He stepped forward yet again. "Good people," he said in a clear voice. "Only those who are sick are admitted to the quarantines. The plague affects us all. I have sought to keep the streets safe. For you. For all of us."

    "More of us disappear every night!" said the same man. Clearly he was the leader of this group. "They weren't even sick!"

    "Then an inquiry will be made to address these concerns," Andrew replied. Why did these people think he was doing it? "If unjust admittance is indeed taking place, I will seek out the root of this terrible misdeed. In the meantime, you all must disperse before you embolden infected not in quarantine. This is for your protection!"

    "For you convenience more like!" said a new voice that Andrew couldn't trace. "Fix the disappearance, wonderful! But we're starving! You lords are fat, share your spoils!"

    Before Andrew could respond, he heard a howl from afar. That sound was as common to him as his every breath. He turned to his captain. "Disperse this crowd now! Have all guards stand to. They are here. Do not fire on the mod. Understood?"

    "Yes your lordship. But the infected, here? No quarantines are located nearby. Incidents haven't been reported here in some time."

    Andrew clicked his tongue as possible reasons rushed through his mind. "I shall sort through that later. For now, this is our priority. See to it, captain."

    The man nodded as he rushed off. Andrew saw the mob being pushed back as the whole entire courtyard ignited with activity. It was troubling, the infected being in the noble quarters. Whatever the case, Andrew would explore this at a later day from the mob all the way to the infected presence. Treachery was afoot he thought.

  12. Aislyn Grey, gray
    Getting any work done, was looking to be impossible. The mob had reached the manor, and no matter how often she reassured those she came across- everyone was uneasy. Hands idly dusted the same spot, spilled food, and folded linens inside out. All ears were turned to the walls, and the indistinct sound that was a mass of angry individuals. It sounded like some great roaring beast had taken up residence outside the manor, waiting for the unwary to fall into it's gaping maw.

    "Sara... Sara!" Aislyn lunged for the toppling crystal vase, breathing a sigh of relief as the (no doubt) expensive decoration fell heavily into her hands. She would have to polish it again, but that was much better then picking up the pieces should it have broken. "Please, pay more attention to what you're doing."

    Sara sniffed, cringing back from Aislyn's chiding words. She was wringing her dusting cloth between her hands, her cheeks blotchy and red as though she'd been crying already. Aislyn felt a twinge of guilt- she hadn't meant to snap... the atmosphere of this damnable mob must be getting to her as well.

    "My apologies, Sara.. But please, young master Caine and the guard are out there right now. They'll take care of everything. Don't you worry, there is no safer place than here." Perhaps it was the motherly instinct inside of her, but Aislyn's fingers itched to tuck Sara's wayward hair back beneath her bonnet. She patted her hand consolingly instead, fearing the girl might take the action as yet more criticism. Sara offered a watery smile, and went back to dusting the tables. Actually paying attention to her work.

    She understood where the girl was coming from, of course. Every moment the mob lingered outside, the letter from her mother weighed heavier and heavier. As if it were manifesting pounds, and tugging at her skirts. Begging for attention. Surely it couldn't hurt to just read it? It wouldn't take long... With a furtive glance around, Aislyn ducked into one of the unused guest rooms. The letter shook in her hands as she broke the wax seal.


    Don't worry, I'm fine here with the Whitticers. It is your safety I fear for. I cannot take long, and I cannot say how I know, but you must believe me when I say you are in danger where you are. I've heard...rumors, that there is discontent growing for the Caine family. Please, find some way to make it here. I'm sure lady Whitticer will take you in. If the Caine family are truly being targeted... please, you mustn't tell anyone, lest they suspect my employers. Just come home, please.

    Be safe.

    For a long moment, Aislyn stared at the words on the page. It made no sense, first she merely said that there was discontent. And then the masters were being targeted? She couldn't run! The Caine family had been so good to her, they were truly good people. She had to tell someone.

    Aislyn froze with her hand on the door. Would they suspect the Whitticers? Aislyn knew her mother's family almost as well as her own. Surely they wouldn't be involved in something so... despicable? And wouldn't her mother suffer for it? If it got out that her mother was the source... couldn't they both be punished for causing trouble between noble houses?

    Indecision warred over her sense. To tell, or not to tell. At least, it had never once occurred to her to run.

    No. I must trust my mother. If she says I must not tell, then I won't. Grimly, Aislyn threw the letter into the fireplace where the ashes wouldn't be remiss. She would just have to make sure nothing happened. How, Aislyn was unsure. But she could be the ears and eyes on the ground. She tucked the letter opener in her skirts, it's weight taking over that of the letter, and set out to find either of the Caine masters.

    She couldn't tell, but she could watch.
  13. Andrew Caine, Silver

    It was madness. Andrew had drawn his sword as his guards fought both the infected that tore at his ground's gates and the mod who were attacking anything they saw. Truly, it was the very example of human stupidity. The people knew who were admitted to the quarantine zones and what their purpose was. It was to ensure their safety from the infected that grew by the day. While the doctors sought a cure, only violent safeguards could ensure security. Tonight, all of that fell apart.

    Gunshots echoed across the grounds as the click of rifles fired into the infected. There were so many of them. Though they dropped from the shots, their infectious fluid littered the streets. People from the mob were being attacked with the trademark savagery that were commonplace in all the infected. As some made it into the courtyard, Andrew drew his sword as he began to slash through the ones that came close to him. If it weren't for his mask, he was sure he'd become infected in no time. He watched as some guards were torn apart. He frowned. First, he'd ensure they were dead, then he afford them funeral rites as their lord.

    "Lord Caine!" Andrew dodged as his captain impaled an infected that ran from behind him. "My lord, it isn't safe out here! i must insist you make haste into the estate. We wi--"

    Andrew had already stood back up as he cut down another infected and fired his flint pistol into the chest of another. There was a certain art to killing, which he enjoyed. How easily steel parted flesh or bullet ruptured the skin beneath. Such instruments of death were created by mankind. The creators must be proud of their legacies of the father's of butchery.

    Ignoring his captain, he continued to cut down whatever trespassed as his guards did the same. Soon enough, after eternity had passed, he heard the whistle of the military as boots thundered against the ground. It didn't take long for the mob - or what lingered - to be collared and arrested. The infected - unfortunately - were killed off.

    Breathing hard from his mask, Andrew sheathed his sword as the Sergeant from the military came forward. He slammed a his against his chest in signs of obeisance. "Lord Caine," said the grey haired man. "We came with all haste. Are you hurt, lord?"

    Andrew shook his head. "What happened tonight was unacceptable. How was the night patrols not able to spot a mob of that magnitude?"

    "I will inquire lord."

    "Do so," Andrew said as he spun on his heels. "Disperse the mob and allow them to walk free."

    "But my lord, the la--"

    "Release them," Andrew said one more time as he began walking back to the estate. The doors opened before him as the head steward bowed. "Fetch me a new coat. We must burn this one."

    "I'll get someone on it immediately, my lord."

    Andrew nodded as he stood their patiently. Whoever did this would pay dearly.

  14. Aislyn Grey, gray It was easier then Aislyn thought, to make sure she was the one to retrieve young master Caine's coat. Too many of the servants were reluctant to even approach the blood soaked defenders of the Caine manse. As though simply standing next to them would be enough to catch the plague from their dress. It was ridiculous. After all, the men in the guard had risked their lives to keep them safe. The least they could hope for, was a change of clothes, and some assistance getting out of the sullied cloth.

    So Aislyn volunteered, using a scrap of linen to protect her hands from the worst of the gore as she slid the blood soaked jacket from Master Caine's shoulders. She was careful, not to linger at the breadth of his shoulders as some of the other maids might, in hopes of attracting the young masters eye. It was with the same grim, single minded intensity, that Aislyn took care of the stained coat, and assisted the young lord with a replacement.

    Her eyes only flickered up to his once, as she was straightening his lapels.

    "Are you unharmed, mi' lord?"
  15. Andrew Caine, Silver

    After what felt like hours, Andrew saw Aislyn walk towards him with linens wrapped around her hands. Though his heart pounded from the encounter and his mind still craving the adrenaline that slowly left his system, he smiled at the girl. He had expected his senior steward to attend to him at once. Even with the chance of catching the plague - he himself was at peril - it was their duty. He hoped it shamed them when it was Aislyn, one of the younger servants that attended to him. Her professionalism wasn't lost on him as she took away the stained coat.

    Upon receiving his replacement, he quickly shouldered the noble coat on. Straightening it to be rid of wrinkles, Andrew buttoned the coat as he redid the cuffs. Good as new he thought to himself as he removed his mask. It was good to breathe normally again. He hated wearing the thing. Unfortunately, masks were quite the fashion in the kingdom.

    Allowing Aislyn to help him with his collar, he pondered her question. "Indeed. Physically, I'm still whole; however, the mob confounds me." When Aislyn was finished, he placed his hand behind her back briefly as he mentioned towards the interior of the mansion. "Walk with me, Aislyn. I must travel to the Noble's Court to see if I can't spot an ill-intender towards my house. I was so close to firing upon the people. So close."

    Looking towards the head steward, he hid his contempt. "Attend to the grounds," he said. "Take the bodies to the Ministry of the Deceased."

    Unable to hide his contempt, he saw the head steward bow before walking towards the staircase. "I shall not forget your professionalism," he said as he opened the door to his study and walked in. He motioned for Aislyn to sit. "You'll be attending me from now on. My personal aide. Take a moment and soak that in." Letting the silence linger for several moments, Andrew broke the silence again. "You will be traveling to the Noble's Court with me. Gods how I loathe that place. Gossip and lies dig deeper than the sharpest of blades.

    "I shall expect you - with all due haste - to brush up on court speak. Nobles will judge me - if you will - on how you carry yourself. Do you understand what I ask of you, Aislyn? I would - under proper etiquette - request an aid from the guild. Fortunately, I find a specific servant of mine able. Ask if you should have an inquiries on the matter. Amongst nobles, you cannot look weak."

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  16. Aislyn Grey, gray Dazed, could be the only word to describe the expression that crossed her face. Dazed with perhaps a sprinkling of startlement. It was what she'd been looking for- the opportunity to stay next to master Caine, to somehow... protect him, from his enemies. Protect him! As though a girl with little more than a servants knowledge could possibly be of use to a lord as more than a mere retainer.

    "Mi'lord-" Aislyn paused, hers fingers fluttering nervously in her lap, "My lord, I don't know... how I could possibly..."

    Even Aislyn could hear the weakness in her voice, as though her thoughts were tainting her words. What could she do? Aside from clean? She was a servant, not a personal aide. She was not a warrior, or a spy. She was certainly not a lady, to be mingling with the likes of nobles.

    You are anything you want to be

    It was the memory of her father, that reminded her. Reminded her of the kinds of obstacles she could overcome. The sound of the violin beneath her fingers, clumsy, at first. But she kept at it, worked hard to make the beautiful instrument sing- without formal help, as some ladies had. Without a mentor. Just her, and the violin, and the determination to make the music her own. Could this not be the same?

    "I don't know how I could possibly refuse. Thank you, mi-my lord, it's a great honor." She couldn't exactly bow, or curtsy from her seat, but she could bow her head respectfully. When her head lifted again, an indecipherable smile curved her lips. She could do this. "I hope you'll forgive my ignorance, I've never had the opportunity to perform such a job before... What kinds of tasks would I be required to attend to?"
  17. Andrew Caine, Silver

    Andrew observed in silence. He saw Aislyn's resolve weaken in the beginning. However, with all things considered, she recovered well. He wasn't sure how many servants would be able to get over the hurdle of being a mindless drone going through the actions. This was a huge risk he was taking as well. Aislyn had to reinvent herself. Instead of being a servant, she would have to become something akin of a pseudo noble herself. He was confident she was able. There was inquisitiveness underneath that obedient, demure demeanor.

    "Your ignorance is forgiven," he said. Getting to his feet, Andrew walked towards a bookshelf as he picked out several books. They were works he frequented himself. It would be expected of Aislyn to familiarize herself with. Walking back with the works, he placed them in front of the woman. "You will familiarize yourself with court etiquette, history, and various other illuminations people of my status are privy to. There is a tomb about court speak. I shall speak in the commoner's dialect with you for the next week. However, after that, we shall switch to court speak. Noble's consider the aforementioned dialect barbaric. Silly business."

    Andrew gestured to the documents. "I demand you swear a vow of secrecy," he said. "You will help me with my work. You will see the 'true' state of the kingdom, policies I've been asked to facilitate, and the majority of dealings I attend to daily. I trust in your integrity, for you'll be representing me when I'm too overwhelmed with necessary errands." Looking over Aislyn attire, Andrew shook his head. He took out parchment and a quill. "You cannot walk around in servant's attire. Visit Florencia's. A designer that currently trends. You must act and look the part of an aide."

    Rolling the parchment and stamping it with his seal, he handed the missive over. "I ask a lot of you, Aislyn. First start with the tomes I've picked out. Etiquette and court speak is explained in one of them. As always, you're welcomed to questions. Providing you've tried figuring it out yourself."