Description: Inside of the young nation of Illyria, Konrad von Sabrewulf seeks knowledge of the arcane that may be within. In order to keep to himself, he travels alone and by foot. However, within the forests of Illyria currently reside the former 'Hound of the NOL' Clio St. Jeanne. A lone traveler triggers the suspicions of the former Lieutenant. She takes to investigating his potential intent, and to leave him with a lasting message for what secrets and knowledge that Konrad von Sabrewulf may uncover in his travels.
Illyria, youngest nation in the Old World of Europe. Nestled in the mountains, flush with old forest, spired mountains, vistas over great valleys. It looks the part of a Faerie Tale kingdom of yore complete with iconic castle and keep town rising like ivory or alabaster above the emerald forests and sapphire lakes. It is, in metaphorical terms, magical. It was also magical in more literal terms, though the potency of the great leyline is diminished after the conflict between the NOL and the ultimately victorious Sacred Order.
Now Illyria stands, a rogue nation, and one that serves as a haven to Gears and in some regards, Darkstalkers wishing to escape the baleful eyes held in other climates. Some have come seeking refuge. Some have come with ill intent. Some simply curious. All have their own reasons for traveling to the nascent nation. And just as many have their own reasons for remaining within its tenuous borders.
Within the forests of Illyria, under the heavy canopy of old growth trees, there are many paths first made by foot travel in ages long since past. Illyria is, in many ways a place untouched by time between its old origins and its recent resurgence. The presence and use of the footpaths being one of those markers of its age. To think that war was fought here a scant few months ago is hard to imagine, though here and there dot the remains of camps and temporary structures held by the Sacred Order, the Librarium, and their hirelings. But one thing the dense forests are quite good for is napping. Particularly in the soft and cooling autumn weather and under the dappled sun that breaks through the boughs.
On a thick branch is the supine form of a reclining woman. In purple, she's contrast against the greens of the leaves and the browns of the bark and earth. She rests, hands behind her head, one boot clad foot hanging from the thick branch being used as a bed. Her hood is up, a pair of leather cups in the shape of ears poke out from the violet cloth. In the tree bark and on the ground around the tree are a series of scratchings and carvings. Many runic, some hermetic, sigils and numbers and glyphs. A multitude of starts and stops and iterations of the same and similar patterns over and over again. All carved with something sharp. Magical formulae, complexities and curiosities that most won't understand. Though to the discerning minds that worked in the eldritch, or perhaps were taught in the NOL military academy, they would be a more readily accessible insight into the workings of the young woman that lay up in the trees.
A product of the Old World, and perhaps far-better fitting within the borders of such a land compared to many, an archaically-dressed gentleman can be seen in slow approach toward such wooded and lofty position as the woman so inclined to recline. His footsteps are soft, but not stealthy; his shoes are not made for the woods, but neither are they entirely inappropriate for such a hike. Middle-aged, with a medium-average build, the orange double-breasted waistcoat worn is more than visible.
This type of wood, and by extension this type of land, is a setting that the man knows well. He does not look 'out of place' despite being entirely so; rather, his posture is relaxed while his eyes' gaze casually scans the ground in a practiced amount of observation as to avoid any smaller wildlife. He does not speak. Nor does he play music through electronic accessory in his walking. His attention is turned more toward inner thoughts while his outward demeanor is clearly respectful of the natural environment.
This rather lonely trek is one that offers the man plenty of calm, a fair amount of assurance that, even if something were to go wrong on his part, there would be none around that could be frightened or come to harm. Indeed, his stressful tendencies to be anxious about his current level of humanity is mostly absent. He might even be comfortably smiling, although not at all in a giddy way. This is a visit for education, after all, although there may be need for a bit of social diplomacy through such meeting with potential scholars; hopefully his aristocratic status will not plunge him into the heart of dealings with heads of state or local nobility. There is that worry hanging overhead.
Throat clearing softly, with a side bag secured over his opposing shoulder with a strap, the man nears the tree so occupied and, at first, doesn't really scan the oddities of marking covering it so. He's been quite absorbed in the history spotting the wooded mountainside through details and remnants alone, yet... After passing by the tree, his movement stops, he backs up a few half steps, and turns to look a bit more closely with a cautious lean forward. He reaches up to slip his monocle into place, and with a slow pan upward has a curious cursory study of those runes.
"Wie interessant," he says to himself. German. A practiced ear can determine that it is southern German in dialect, too.
The man speaks. Above him, the woman's eyes snap open.
Her breathing goes from deep and low, to still. Her head cocks. A tense moment as her dozy mind races through potentials. NOL? No, she doubts either Makoto or Mai would have betrayed her. Sacred Order? Doubtful. Master Jubei? No. Jubei isn't prone to German. She closes her eyes and lets out a long and slow exhale before turning her head to peer, half hidden by her hood, down at the man below.
A wandering hipster, it seems, has intruded on Clio's scrawlings and her napping spot. She yawns, coughs to be perfectly obvious that she is there, and then she gets around to twisting herself into a sit, her feet kicking lazily over the branch. "Most of them are meaningless," she says of the arcane writings. "Half-baked ideas. I don't do my best work in the day." Her accent is clear, American, Metro City.
She stretches, back popping, and leans forward on her branch, looking down at the man. Even if the hoodie is long enough to appear to be the only thing she has, perhaps thankfully for the traveler's dignity, Clio is wearing a pair of shorts, even if it's not much in the way of a pair of shorts. "That you even stopped to gawk is telling me you have an idea of what you're looking at," she tells the man. "So, you got a name you can spare me?" she asks, small curious grin playing at her lips as she considers the details she can pick up from the man. The former Hound of the NOL is, as always, an observant kind of cop.
While that initial yawn is not parsed as anything necessarily human, the cough absolutely catches the man's attention. He has a minor start from the realization, although his face is upturned enough by that point that such a furthered glance higher takes little effort. All the same, he backpedals half a step. The hand not clutching the strap of the bag pressed over his chest and back moves to his chest as he softly interjects, "Du lieber Himmel."
"English? Of course. I did not know sis vas your tree. You haf my sincere apologies, meine Dame." Through this upward stare, that monocle eventually falls away to be caught by the gold chain of which it is tethered and softly comes to rest against the fine fabric of that vest. At this point, perhaps partially in anxiety over the surprise, he quietly laughs and lowers his eyes.
This man does not know this land well aside from what maps and guide tips are available for leisurely travel. Could this be a modern-day highwayman? Would revealing his name or title be any more obvious than the fineries of in which he is presently clothed? ...would a mugger get more than they bargained for?
Assuming a rather stiff posture, the man bows firmly and gracefully. "Freiherr Konrad von Sabrewulf, mein Dame. Fisiting sis land for se sake of scholarly pursuit, but not so absorbed by science sat I cannot appreciate se land itself." After the well-rehearsed introduction, along with some explanation as to his lonely hike, he once again relaxes and turns partially aside to sweep an arm in regards to the path and the surrounding landscape.
"And you-" Konrad begins to ask after the scrawled symbols on the tree and the ground with a pointed look upon them once again, but he stops himself short. "Es tut mir Leid," he apologizes quickly, but then clarifies: "I am sorry, it is not my business to know. But- Vell, most people vould use pen und paper, ja?" This is more a joke than a criticism, or course. As he can fully understand the occasions wherein one -must- put one's thoughts down at /that moment/, there jest is made with a level of unspoken understanding that may or may not translate well through the humor. Certainly, Konrad is not 'most people', after all.
Clio hums at first, German isn't her best and she can only pick up some of what he mutters. But when the man shows that he can speak English, things become a lot easier. That and she got him to drop his monocle, so that was a check box off the list of things she never knew she wanted to do in her life.
"The ownership of the tree is under heavy litigation," she deadpans. "Terrible legal mess and all. Who owns this tree." With a yawn, she rolls backward, flipping off the branch and landing with an altogether soft thump on the ground opposite Konrad.
She straightens her hoodie, dusting off the ankh that covers most of her front like a medieval Crusader's tabard. Her smile is easy, her eyes dark, shaded with a distinct amount of makeup, and she considers the man and his rote sounding explanation with sincere suspicion.
"Got your script down, don't you?" she asks, hands resting in the front pocket of her hood, fingertips running along the spike hidden inside. People who use scripts to remember their introductions have reason to do so, and in Clio St. Jeanne's experience, those reasons never bode well.
She rubs the toe of her boot, lined with nails, against the forest floor, listening and nodding at the wandering steampunk aesthetic. But he's not addressing her work directly, just her use of something other than paper and pen. That gets her to laugh. "You caught me," she admits, shrugging, "I had a bad idea I needed to work out. I didn't have any paper so I used what I had on me." She returns the joke, somewhat, with a tapping at her chin. "You ain't some kind of wandering metallurgist by any chance, are you?"
The well-dressed man witnesses the deft dismount from the bough with a solid and impressive landing with the impressed appraisal that any normal person might. Were he to attempt such a display he might land on his head and sully his clothing. "Sehr beeindruckend," he comments in a tone of voice that can only be truly interpreted as its translation. Very impressive, indeed.
His introduction seems to be a matter for being called out. That's nothing out of the ordinary, though. A well-rehearsed introduction is very important in some social circles, after all. His hands move to the lower end of his waistcoat to give a light tug in order to smooth out the vest; he follows up on this with a brush of a palm over the material. "Not to vorry, ja? Rumor has it sat paper comes from trees anyvay, so sere is no shame in cutting out se middleman. Sink of it as an exercise in efficiency, alsough sere may be trouble crumpling sis one up if you vish to start ofer again."
Clearly no forest warden, the Baron seems less worried what other people do on their lands. It's not his land to watch, after all. No, he seems relatively happy for some humorous discourse despite the start so received in the unorthodox meeting. He's not entirely surprised when the conversation takes a turn toward the sciences, though, and the moustache-and-sideburn-styled man lifts a hand to pet briefly over that upper lip covering.
"Metals und ores? It is not necessarily my main field of scientific study, alsough I haf experience vorking vis se softer prime metals. Like azoth." With a shrug, palms up, Konrad gestures. "I hardly haf se hands of a blacksmith, Madam...?" Fishing for a return introduction in reciprocation to his own, his question trails off with the last syllable.
Clio St. Jeanne grew up in a vertical city. It paid to learn to climb and jump and squeeze through the small and the high places in order to keep one step ahead of things. Staying alive and staying unhurt just that long enough to survive. She knocks her hood back off her head and nods to the man.
She scrapes her foot over the writings on the ground. "They're useless anyways," she says. "Can't hold a charge. I thought I had something there, but it's just not the write equation." She speaks casually, off-handed, yawning even as she finishes. Her eyes held half-lidded in the sleepy day.
She hears azoth, a curious term of art. And that draws a curious hum from her chest. "Working with mercury?" she asks, looking Konrad up and down. "Guess that explains the outfit." She chuckles, mostly to herself, rocking back on her heels.
"My name's Clio. I'm just sort of here. Not as interesting as scholarly pursuits." She introduces herself and looks around at the old growth forest. She knows Illyria has a number of things to be studying, she's doing some herself, but she doesn't know what's what yet and that's uncertainty she needs to figure out. "What sort of scholar are you, Sabrewulf? Also, that's a pretty killer last name to pack with you. Just a point."
First thing is first: "It is a great pleasure to make your acquaintance, Fraulein Clio." Hood so removed, the middle-aged man now has a better image to go along with the new name. "I am pleased sat you find se name, mm, fashionable? It is an old name born of a time vhen some sings in se vorld vere fery different." Which is to say, concerning modern developments and social politics, history has a way of repeating itself if they do, indeed, change at all. Thankfully, this means most people simply don't know the name at all or what it stands for, but, on the other hand, it makes it a very memorable one it there is reason to remember it at all.
Konrad clasps his hands together at the question of his academic interests. How serendipitous to chance upon one that even bothers to ask such a question. The setting is mostly irrelevant. Rather, the calming atmosphere provided by the aged mountain wilderness makes it all the better to host a decidedly random bout of intellectual discussion.
"Vell, on se more relaxed side of sings, I fery much enjoy se musical arts und seory, se sound masematical design behind musical score und composition, along vis se psychological und philosophical aspects of compositional facets." And that's the casual side. "Ansonsten, my ultimate passion surrounds se defelopment und application of chemical und alchemical arts upon mammalian physiology, psychology, und how such effects change or compliment natural biological functions. Because it is so delicate, it requires study in uhser fields. Serein, I am general fery much happy to explore most any field of natural science und histories behind sem as sey are encountered."
A much less practiced thing, such an synopsis of scholarly interests would certainly sound or 'feel' more genuine. The poor man rarely gets to speak of such things with people. A lot of people hear 'alchemy' and immediately write off everything on the list.
Clio is pretty far from middle-aged. Though her eyeshadow is dark, her face is young, but it's one that has seen a significant degree of fighting in her life. Metro City, The Librarium Military Academy, The Gear invasion of Japan, Majigen, betrayal and pain. For a moment, she looks at Konrad von Saberwulf with those eyes. She wonders for a moment, wishes she still had access to the NOL's archives on the arcane and irresponsible. For all their flaws, to contend with the misuse of magic in the world was a noble cause that Clio St. Jeanne believed deeply in.
And though the man's clear interest in his own work is evident, it isn't an act as far as she can tell, road to hell and good intentions and all. Her lips purse thin and she nods. Thoughts of Relius Clover and her own mother dance in her head. "Are you here for the Gears?" she asks, head lifting, eyes deep and dark and judging. The hound of the NOL is still loyal to those she considers, in some regard, needing protection. The artificial, created beings, amalgams of magic and life, certainly fodder for a rogue arcanist or alchemist.
Clio's hand draws the spike from her sweatshirt. She uses the tip to casually scratch at her chin. A subtle, or not so subtle, reminder that she is armed.
"The Gears are people. They may not be so keen to simply be studied by some random guy. No offense. But if you make your case to the Kings, or to Doc Paradigm, you might have a chance."
Were this but a week ago, during Konrad's trip to London to have his pocket watch repaired by a very competent clockmaker, the connotation would be very different. The immediate reply seems to be just-as-immediately addressed, although in a very defensive way. There is a bit of confusion that settles upon the face of the man, although his eyes may reflect the faintest hint of recognition of the term once placed with some context. He has, essentially, been living under a rock all alone for quite some time. Only snippets of news ever reach his estate.
Furthermore, the gesture made with the hand-held spike does not seem to register as being a threat, but the Baron's body language does not reflect a sense of confrontational confidence; he very well may not see it as anything but a casual fidget. He does the same himself when in idle thought.
In a similar gesture, actually, Konrad moves a hand up to rub over his throat. "Oh, no no, if you sink sat I aim to experiment upon people, I can assure you sat is absolutely not se case. I am much more interested in written knowledge, sings I can study in relatif quiet und peace. I desire to compare scholarly expertise und recorded experience to sings I haf learned myself, verstehen?"
There is a note of concern in his voice and he does his best to speak as clearly as possible so that there can be no misunderstanding. "Meine studies are almost entirely seoretical. I vould not care to haf atrocity staining meine hands, Fraulein Clio, if sat is vhat you are implying." This last statement is said matter-of-fact with as direct of eye contact as can be made.
The gormlessness, the lack of understanding, and the fidgeting defense of his goals is something that brings Clio a moment's softening of her features. Maybe, loathe as Clio is to admit it, this guy isn't just a wandering German hipster with a name that's trying a little too hard. Maybe the man is just curiously uninformed.
The spike disappears as quickly as it appeared, slipping away along with Clio's hand into the front pocket of her hoodie. Her head cocks, she exhales, and she nods. "Point still stands, if you want that information, then talking to the people in charge of the castle are your best bets. They're good people," she emphasizes for the purposes of her uninformed audience. "But if you're looking to know about the arcane, or alchemical, Doctor Paradigm is one of the best outside of the Librarium."
She starts to walk, looking up at the canopy as she does. "I can point you in the direction and get you on your way, but I've got a lot of woods to walk through."
She stops and looks over her shoulder toward the guest in the forest. A grin playing at her lips. "On the condition you tell me what it is you're working on."
Von Sabrewulf wouldn't have made the journey to this land if he hadn't prepared for some sense of destination. Sure, he may be inept with the details of current events, but he certainly wouldn't be out wandering the lands of another country simply for recreation. On one hand, a guide would be welcome; surely the trek would be more efficient than his own rudimentary knowledge of where he aims to roam. On the other hand, he doesn't like the idea of allowing the chance for anything unwanted to slip amidst conversation that should remain secret. He knows that being overly guarded about certain topics can be suspicious.
"You vouldn't ask me to difulge my studies before sey are ready to be published, vould you?" No matter the age of man, people are always on the lookout to steal the successes of others for themselves. This question, at least, is presented as another jest, with a soft smile, as he takes a step forward along the path with but a simple last glance back at the inscribed-upon tree. Konrad inhales deeply before softly sighing.
"I am one of se Freiherren, Fraulein Clio -- somesing you might know as a Baron, ja? -- und I am responsible for se land sat I own und sose sat lif upon it. Sere are many strange sings in sis vorld, as I am sure you are avare, und my duties align vis my studies. I only desire to haf knowledge in vhich to use in case any of sose strange sings become problems on meine doorstep."
A side-glance is given to perhaps attempt to appraise the amount, if anything, of what he says that sounds familiar or relatable. Konrad may not be the head of state for a nation, but such sociopolitical problems are no less important to address even on the smaller scales.
Clio only intends to stick around as long as things are suspicious or remain interesting. She has a great deal of other things to consider and to work on in her own time. Creating a new chain for herself to use not the least of her studies and designs. But for now, taking in some information about curious German travelers can sate herself.
She rests her hands behind her head as she walks with a bit of a strut, looking slightly up and forward as she goes along. "Oh yes, some random girl in the middle of the forest is surely out to commit terrible espionage on your great work!" she says, with a bombast and a laugh in her tone to play up and off the jocular approach Konrad takes with her.
That the man is nobility explains a bit for Clio. Eccentric rich folk without a hell of a lot to do with their lives probably are pretty engrossed in their hobbies and don't get out too much. "How noble," she deadpans, "Looking to protect your backyard." But it's barely a moment before her expression softens. "It's not always the strange things out there that are the problem. And learning about them comes from more than just texts and experiments."
Her fingers draw shallow circles in the air at her side, quick paced twiddles and flicks. They play at jostling metal that isn't there. "There's a lot to be said about the Librarium handling strange things. They are the experts. Wouldn't it be safer to hash a deal with them rather than get into shit yourself?" she asks, sussing, poking prodding, there are certainly many ways to learn about strange things. Clio prefers to talk to them. Well, she prefers punching them, but talking is often the better choice she has found.
The Freiherr joins in the laughter with a glance down toward the ground. It's not at all forced. Certainly the idea sounds rather absurd, but that's exactly why it was stated as such. The corners of the man's mouth upturn into something a bit more relaxed after the brief respite offered by such mirth. What follows, though, is a bit more sobering in subject.
"You are, of course, absolutely correct," he responds regarding the matter of there being far more than book knowledge and such studies alone, as a consequence, are incomplete. "But one must start somevhere. I vould rahser haf, mm, a modicum of understanding from recollections of uhsers before hafing to apply vhat knowledge I haf uhservise in a more practical situation. Defelopment of sciences are based on need und fueled by research long before practical experimentation can be conducted."
Konrad's posture is far less rigid now that general mobility has become a factor once more in his venture. As before, his footfalls are soft and born of much practice in personal proper etiquette; no foolishly loud clomping about to be had from him. The bag at his side, dense as it is and heavy, requires a bit of shifting with adjustments of the strap wherein much of the weight is borne upon his shoulder. His tone of voice, also, is also casually conversational. Neither does he speak too fast or too slow.
"Und vhile it might seem more pragmatic to send serfants out to meet vis sose such as sis Doctor Paradigm you mention in order to broker a deal ofer such studies, sat vould be reliant upon my status und vould, in my opinion, seem far less sincere san actually making se effort myself. After all, I am here as a scholar primarily. Vould true disaster be somesing to deal vis at home, business vould no doubt go srough gofernmental channels in Deutschland to make an official appeal to sose of uhser nations sat may possess knowledges or technologies sat might help vis vhasefer catastrophe has befallen such lands sere."
Much like the 'ownership' of the etched-upon tree, that would be a messy legal situation.
Clio takes in Baron Sabrewulf's opinions on the matter. She expected agreement, it was only polite, and the man certainly seems to be that. He still seemed earnest enough, but earnestness was generally easy to fake. And this was Illyria, the nation that took her in when she forsook the NOL. When she 'died'. She wasn't going to treat its safety lightly.
At the same time, she was well aware that she would lead this Baron into the most secure part of the entire country. What with its twin kings and of course "Edith". Even Mai and if Makoto continued to be around. Let alone Master Jubei. The power here, she felt, was enough to repel even the attentions of the nations that did not regard Illyria as sovereign. Which, regardless of Baron Saberwulf's admission, Clio felt was the real reason for his secrecy and solitude.
"This kind of thing you're doing, alchemical work, and coming out here, that's not really something you want to do without coming in person," Clio admits, fingers drumming at the back of her head. "But, hey, smart guy like you, you're not dabbling in mad science kind of alchemy, are you? Because the Librarium is always closer than you think."
As it stands, 'mad science' is an expression that Konrad is not familiar with as a common use in pop culture, but he understands, he thinks, what is inferred through context combined with literary exposure. "I assure you sat I am very much sane, Fraulein Clio. Mark my words if you must: I vould nefer seek to conduct alchemical experimentation on anybody, be sey man or beast, in a vay sat vould be unesical or visout seir consent. I-"
The man frowns with a sense of disappointment. It is not a failure on the young lady's behalf in which it is directed. No, it is simply due to the discouraging nature of humankind as a whole, at times. "I somehow feel sat I shouldn't haf to emphasize sat point as much."
There is a beat or two before Konrad adds, "I'm sorry. Se truse of se matter is sat I am very much unavare of any such problems sat may be ongoing related to such abuse of science und alchemy here. My travel and entry vere unabated, my intentions haf been fery clear -- I just vant to study whasefer is afailable to me. Naturally, I am able to pay a reasonable amount for se serfice; perhaps considered a monetary donation to se adfancement and continuation of scholarly exploration und education?"
With a double-armed shrug, Von Sabrewulf turns to regard his present company as he walks along. "You seem to be knowledgeable of many sings here sat I am not. As an educatee from abroad, is sere anysing sat I should know? Adfice? Vords of visdom? Do se locals look down upon facial hair?"
His eyes dart to the side. "Ach nein. Please tell me sat I do not need to shafe completely to avoid public scorn."
There's a look of almost pity on Clio's face for the briefest of moments when Konrad explains himself. The look of disappointment, the seeming lack of understanding. Clio is young, but she's seen a lot. Maybe, she thinks, more than the man far her senior.
A sigh leaves her lips and she closes her eyes. She wishes she still had her Librarium cloak to cover her. And it's still too damn daylight for her to be fully awake. "Chi is a well known phenomena," she says, "If you're hear, you're looking into Gears. Into Magic. Into alchemy. Darkstalkers. More."
Her eyes turn up toward von Sabrewulf, hands dipping into her pocket. "The Boundary is dangerous. It will rip you apart, body and mind, if you seek its power." Clio takes out that spike from before. She holds it out in the palm of her hand, casts her other hand over it. Sigils, runes, hermetic equations alike, etched along the length of the spike, glow with a dark violet energy. The spike turns upright and rises, and then the lightwithin burns outward, the flame warm, radiating, its core a dark shadow that dances like a photo negative along the lines of the arcane writings. It holds its levitation above St. Jeanne's hand. Even as she walks, it goes with her.
"I'm a witch, von Sabrewulf. And from my own experience I've seen what people who dig too deeply into things can do," Clio St. Jeanne explains. "You seem like a nice guy, so I'm a little harsh here, but I want to know you're not going to get in over your head. This isn't some rich guy gets bored and decides he wants to play at thaumaturgy, is it? Because the people in Illyria? The Gears? They've made it their choice to come here so they can live in peace without people poking at them. So I want to make it very clear that you will need to a really nice and helpful guy while you're learning."
Darkstalker. That's a word he knows a tiny bit better than 'Gear', if only because he has met such a thing once before. Konrad is just about to mention as much when a new display is given. Falling out of a tree in style is a very different tier than...that.
In fact, the man falls behind a pace or two so disrupted in walking is he from the deft display of whatever that is. It's entirely unexpected, yet fascinating. For a few precious seconds the man says nothing, staring from more than an arm's length away, following along. He doesn't even realize he's gripped the strap of his bag tighter. This is not a reaction born of fear. It is a reaction born of caution.
After those long seconds pass, Baron Sabrewulf steps forward to close the distance. He listens as well as he can. He hears the word 'witch', but he doesn't fully understand what it means aside from what speculation and imagination allow outside of present observation. Konrad finally speaks, but his eyes don't leave the spike. "I do not vish to play God vis such knowledge-granted power, Fraulein. I cannot state it more honestly or clearly san sis:"
"I haf no desire to be anysing uhser san a boring aristocrat lifing a boring life, aside from se occasional soiree."
The truth cannot be any more clear than that. The statement is said in the most genuine and heartfelt way. Anyone sensitive to empathy or deception should be able to tell. His jaw clenches a few times as he quiets, staring still, but, so intense is his focus on this object shown, he completely misses his footing and nearly pitches forward onto the ground because of wayward vine.
Chi-users are things most people are aware of. The fighting displays in history and around the word make that point abundantly clear. Though for Clio St. Jeanne, it's an inborn force of will that brings to bear a taste of The Boundary with each motion of chi. As simply as the flames are conjured, they are snuffed out when Clio sees that her point might be made well enough.
The flames dance along Clio's knuckles when she takes the spike, but they are gone by the time they spike is once more secreted into his pocket. She looks at him, his posture, his reaction, and her lip quirks upwards. "Before you dig into things like this, you should probably hit up a newsfeed. You're treading in dangerous waters for someone that acts like they're living under a two hundred year old rock."
She walks on, smiling, but the dark seriousness continues to remain in her eyes. "I. . ." She stops and turns back to see the man faceplant, all because he was staring at her spike and probably lost in thought. An eye closes and she rubs at her forehead, muttering, "Damn it."
Her boots drag on the ground, she walks over to stand by his head, looking down, she cocks her head to the side. "I'm not exactly the equipped to carry someone like you around on my back, you know. It'll really suck if you break your ankle out here."
Thankfully, the fall isn't that bad. The Baron's knees don't even touch the ground, although his hands do wind up pressing into the topsoil. "Scheisse, was fur ein dummer Esel," he chides himself. Even as his woodland guide walks over and stands over him, the man goes about the slow process of standing back up. A brisk rubbing of his hands helps to remove any outstanding dirt or leafy debris stuck to them. "No, I'm fine. Nuhsing hurt but mein pride. Not...my finest moment, ha."
Then, a detail strikes him hard like a firm slap across the face. In the fall, his shoulder bag smacked the ground much harder than he did. He suddenly stops everything and opens the bag in order to check the contents. Without pulling things out and bringing about even more questions, Konrad instead uses a hand to explore the innards. What can be seen from a close-by view are a couple of books, some notebooks, and lots of padding. Carefully, the man seems to check one thing at a time, worry etched upon his features, but the search ends in a very relieved sigh. "All is good. Sehr gut. I haf medicine sat I take efery day. Mm, vhat do you call it in English? Die Zuckerkrankheit. ...sugar disease?" He starts closing the bag back up. "Nuhsing broken, ve can continue."
Von Sabrewulf doesn't even notice yet that his shoe has come off.
He isn't hurt, just clumsy enough to stumble. Clio backs off from the man to let him pick himself up and dust himself off. She wonders, just for a moment, if her plans to leave the man to his own devices is a good one or not. She may be a city person by nature, but she's taken to any place that gives her something to climb and a good view of the stars.
She can't help but notice the man has a very sudden concern to dig through his bags. Making certain that something isn't amiss. She regards with half concern and half suspicion, but she shrugs when he makes his excuses. "Diabetic," she says. And she's back on her way again.
That he's dropped his shoe gets a tired laugh out of her. But she doesn't bother to let him know about it. After all, that just might turn out to be funnier if he doesn't notice. So she keeps her own little secret in the moment.
A yawn comes from the young woman, she stretches and cracks her knuckles, stopping to regard the man. "I've got a lot of important napping to do before nightfall," she tells the man. "If you keep going this way, when you hit the slopes, head down toward the valley. The forest doesn't really go away, but eventually you'll see these big tall spires. That's Castle Illyria. Head right there. You pretty much cannot possibly miss it."
She pulls her hood back up, leather ear cups and all. She grins. "Don't do anything stupid," she tells him, "There's one thing that all people deserve, Darkstalker, Human, or Gear. And that's having a choice with what we do with what we can do. But you still got to make the right ones. Yaknow?"
Sure enough, Konrad takes a step before realizing one of his shoes, the one that was on the foot that got hung up on a vine, has come clean off. He scoffs at himself and scoops up the shoe before borrowing a tree to lean against while he brushes off his sock and picks off a few small pieces of mulch that would surely prick his soles left alone.
Shoe refitted, the man exhales deeply and cannot help but anxiously laugh. "Vell, look on se bright side; hopefully sat is all my bad luck used up for one trip avay from home, ja? Ha ha ha." With a shake of his head he wanders along, seemingly ready to continue -- for real, this time -- and finds himself with some guiding directions. He makes a mental note, repeating them wordlessly to himself, then nods.
"Jawohl, Fraulein Clio. I haf no arguments sere. Everybody deserfs se right to choose seir own road in Life, efen if sat choice is just to be left alone." And, spoken a little softer, "Especially if it's just to be left alone." The fellow inhales quickly as if about to add something else to that sentiment, but pauses for a moment first.
"Fraulein? Vielen Dank. Er, sank you fery much for your guidance und freely offered adfice to a stranger. Se philosophical discussion, along vis se intellectual debate ofer science, has been velcome und a little enlightening. You... You haf a special gift und you did not haf to share sat knowledge vis me. Yet, you did, und now I vill haf more to sink about on se rest of se hike, at se fery least. I hope I am able to lif up to se high standards of compassion und understanding sose who dvell here must share, if sey are anysing like you. Vhile idealistic, I certainly hope such a nation will be able to hold up underneas se strain of outside pressure."
#t A skip step back, putting down distance, hands coming from her pocket. She is still uncertain, wary, but she is with most people. Habits when you've lived the life she has don't disappear easily. If anything, with the way her life is, they've simply grown more refined senses of suspicion. But for now, she sticks to her philosophy. She'll let this man make his choices, seek out the knowledge that he seeks, and hopefully he will do something good with it.
If he doesn't, well, Clio was never above having to kill. She was, after all, a soldier at one time.
She twists and kicks her spiked boot into the side of a tree. Using it as a support, she quickly kick climbs upward toward a higher branch to perch on and look down to Konrad. "You ain't seen nothing yet," she says, accent pure Metro City, "Just don't do anything stupid. I kind of like you. And I want to see what sort of shit you come up with because maybe I can use sometime."
Her fingers drum on her branch perch. "But thanks for the kindness. Not always a lot of that. See you around, Sabrewulf." When she says his name, it carries a laugh to it. Just saying it out loud and with a straight face. "Say, when you get to the Castle, ask to speak with King Leo." She snickers a little louder as she twists to drop to a sit and recline in this new tree branch. One where the sun still breaks the boughs with the right amount of dappling to nap in.
Another laugh under her breath. "Sabrewulf and Whitefang. Too perfect."
"I vould really rahsuh avoid being high profile, Fraulein," 'Sabrewulf' calls out as he watches the feat of agility play out before him. "But if I do so, shall I use you as a referral?" One hand grasping his bag's strap once more, the other lifts in a loose wave as he laughs softly at the notion. Even if, well, he's being serious in asking.
"Auf Wiedersehen," he adds as his steps begin carrying him away. "I do fery much love se forest here. It is magnificent! Perhaps someday you vill haf se chance to climb deutsch trees und you can write me a letter to tell me all about se differences."
With no idea what to expect other than the mundane, yet now faced with things altogether special, Konrad von Sabrewulf may wind up stepping into the deep end of the pool with such a visit. Then again, he deals with such uncertainty every trip away from his home in Bavaria now that he is forced out of seclusion. Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.
"Was sein wird wird sein. Es kommt, wie es kommt. Ich habe keine Wahl."
Log created on 01:24:54 10/20/2018 by Clio, and last modified on 03:02:26 10/21/2018.