Honoka - Changing of the Guard

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Description: As Elise holds vigil over the Twilight Star Circus, its star performer returns home. Both the fortuneteller and the juggler have undergone a number of transformative experiences, however; can anything really be the same afterwards?

The onset of spring -- and the warmer, though sometimes equally unpredictable weather -- hits an organization such as a real-life circus as if it were a hibernating animal. The Japanese are culturally proud of their nation having four distinct seasons, which it very much does; this meant that the past few months, as winter died down, were cold, though thankfully not a wet cold. It cretainly put a damper on attendance and performance alike for an outdoor venue. But as the sea breezes from the coast between Ise and Matsusaka started to blow warmer, and cherry trees blossomed into a carpet of white and pink, so too did things start to turn around. Now, each performance is a little more giddy, more fun, as the restless energy of citizens stuck inside for 4 months plays out in the audience. A good performer, after all, both feeds on and reflects the energy of their audience.

And yet...

There is a pall here, in these post-show moments, a subtle dampening that seems to get incrementally more intense by the day. Like it or not, Honoka Kawamoto -- the circus's ringmaster, among other things -- is the heart of that show and that organization. Things have been difficult enough, without her guidance or her direction. Largely, every aspect of the circus, from its surface operations to its more clandestine and hidden ones, has been in a holding pattern. One of Honoka's key lieutenants, the Scottish witch Elise Harkness, was able to keep things running smoothly, but in a treadmill sort of way. She was part-time ringmaster in every sense of the word...

Until, a few months ago, the unexpected visitor came.

Since then, she has become increasingly difficult to deal with for the members of the Twilight Star. Not in the sense that she's inexplicably irascible or vengeful; quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, Elise has seemed too calm, too placid. It's not the reassuring calm of everything being well; it's the unsettling calm of the hurricane's eye through which one is flying, knowing the tempest is on the other end. Given that her role is primarily social in nature, the circus members who got to see her using her ancestral powers in action in a very direct way have had a hard time dealing with it. And so responsibility has largely moved down the chain again, another step, while Elise remains calm, present, but... living, as it were, somewhere else.

Today, though, something got her moving. Perhaps it was just luck, or perhaps it was her gift of genuine -- if unreliably vague -- prophecy speaking subconsciously. Either way, today was the first appearance in weeks of Elise Harkness as ringmaster. That the performance went well is without a doubt; regardless of her state of mind, she's a professional. But now she finds herself in the exact spot she was in not that long ago: watching the circus teams break down the show, bustling about the grounds, packing things away.

So many of them, and so vulnerable, and with largely only Elise to protect or guide them.

As she sits, one leg gingerly crossed over the other, on a folding chair, she looks up. Tonight the moon is waning, heading into the darkness where it will hide until it rises again to shine silver over a springtime world.

Is trouble more likely to arrive when one is expecting it, or when one is not? Elise Harkness will have some time to consider the point as a familiar presences -- accompanied by six -other- souls of considerably less familiarity -- begin making their way towards the circus proper. Their gait is not quick, nor is it particularly sluggish; just the amicable, easygoing pace of someone who has a damn good idea of where they're headed and no particular rush to get there.

As the presences step around the circled "wagons" of the circus perimeter, it becomes obvious that only -three- are actually represented by people. The central figure is dressed in fine crimson, neatly brushed and fringed with embroidery in a honeyed hue. On the figure's left is a man carrying a sheathed sword on his waist, and a spear in his left hand. On the figure's right is a woman with a bow around one shoulder and a sheathed knife on her waist. All three are garbed in garments resembling kimono, but which one familiar with the Ainu culture would easily distinguish as an 'attush' instead.

Curiously enough, none of the staff of the Twilight Star Circus seem to pay the new arrivals any heed. Particularly the guards, who seem to part aside as if they do not even notice them at all -- as if they just -happened- to all want to move aside of their own volition.

The woman known as Honoka Kawamoto has returned. And the vast majority of the staff will not even notice, as the puppetmaster's psychic presence has grown manifold times in the past weeks -- enough to allow her to compel them to step aside with almost casual ease. Even with the unfamiliar Ainu souls on either side of her, Honoka's presence will be a noticeable and familiar pressure to the Scot fortuneteller.

A faint smile lights her features as she approaches the folding chair in which Elise is seated. A hand raises; the cloth of a gold-fringed sleeve drapes casually from it.

The smile grows considerably once the Ainu retinue enters conversational range.
"Hi, Elise. Miss me?"

This is... a lot to take in.

Honoka and her retinue are, psychically speaking, like a lead weight dropped onto a blanket pulled taut; before she's anywhere even remotely close enough that the individual and recognizable *presence* of the Ainu woman becomes discernible, they are the mystical equivalent of a dust cloud on the horizon. And in that grey moment, the time between 'something is here' and 'it's something I recognize', Elise feels her body become whip-tense. She sits up straighter, her eyes widen then narrow. A few people around her look at the Scot in concern.

And then, just like that, it passes. Her muscles briefly ache as the adrenaline drains out of them and Elise stops feeling like she was flexing every part of her body simultaneously to leap out of her chair. Thankfully, perhaps, this period is short enough, too, so that when Honoka Darth Vaders her way into her own home and appears, flanked by a very specific set of servants, carrying objects suffused with a very particular kind of power, Elise is able to turn her tension into curiosity and interest of a kind. A Christmas morning kind of anticipation; finally, she is going to get to know what in the hell happened.

'Miss me?'

She should have a sassy rejoinder, a brief joke. 'I hadn't known you'd left, hen,' lines up to be said, but that doesn't happen. In defiance of everything known about her, Elise rises from her chair, strides across the distance, and -- as if they were the only people on the grounds -- embraces (or, depending on how this goes, *attempts* to embrace) Honoka. "Yes, lass," she says, voice thick with relief. "I did."

And yet... deep, deep under the surface, some part of her is still tense. Still worried.

While Honoka's aura is certainly familiar, there is no mistaking the fact that the young woman is different than before. Not only has her power grown, but her confidence is unshakable. Some of this has to do with her outfit change, to be sure: her white attire projected self-assurance to her Yakuza underlings. But this level of certainty is far and away more.

As if she had met the kamui themselves, and dared to meet their gaze head-on.

The tension flowing through Elise did not go unnoticed, but it does go unmentioned by the Ainu medium. She nods her head in greeting. And when Elise embraces her, the Ainu figure returns the gesture warmly, pleased that her first communication with the Scot wasn't -overly- tinged with sass.

She would've been okay with it, but still.

"I missed you all. In some ways, I wished I had never left. But having accomplished what I have..."

She closes her eyes, a tinge of pink rising in her cheeks as she draws in her breath.

Eyes open again -- bark-colored irises now tinged with traces of gold.

"I have much to share. But I believe I have bought enough time to catch up with my favorite fortuneteller." She smiles brightly. "Tell me what's on your mind, Elise. What troubles are you on the watch for? ... You needn't worry about secrets. My new... friends do not understand modern Japanese yet."

Having had the chance to perhaps get an honest expression of feeling out of her system, when Elise lets go of Honoka and straightens, glancing at the shorter young woman, a hint of her usual composed dry wit seems to come back to her, a brief glint in her own eyes of good humor. "Oh, no, hen," she says, taking a step backward. She's still clearly *speaking* to Honoka, but her gaze is elsewhere; the Ainu honor guard at the woman's side and the weapons they carry really do demand one's attention. And in truth, the more she's able to absorb herself in taking in what's sitting in front of her, the more she's able to bury her anxiety beneath the surface long enough to seem like a reasonable human being.

"You can't drop into a hole in the universe for so long, pop up like so, and then say 'well there's nae story here'," Elise continues, still looking carefully at the Ainu, before swinging back to Honoka herself. "So if we have to move somewhere a little less open that's fine, but you're not wriggling out of telling me where in the nine hells you've been all this time."

She knows, *knows*, that Honoka will not tell the story here, in front of all these people. In truth, Elise has the growing suspicion that Honoka may not tell her the *entire* story at all. There is something in the gold-flecked eyes, something that only a person that has mined the rarest of metals -- Honoka's trust -- might know enough about her to see. Something that suggests perhaps nobody but Honoka herself will ever REALLY know all the details... or is even CAPABLE of knowing *all* the details.

Still. In a tiny way, Elise feels she's *owed* an explanation at this point, and is firmly resolved to get at least some reasonable approximation of one.

"There's always my trailer," she says, calmly. "I don't think the place is going to collapse without us in the next hour."

Elise's shift in gaze is recognized. Even with Honoka's new plateau of confidence, she still has the cognizance to realize there's only so far she can comfortably test Elise's threshold of discomfort. "Too weird, then? Too weird." She nods quietly, sharing a few Ainu words to the woman at her right. With only those words, the Ainu representatives nod humbly and take a few steps back, turning away from Honoka so that they can focus their gaze elsewhere.

Her gaze returns to Elise, as she gives a brief nod to the suggestion. "Lead the way, then. It may take a while."

Despite her smile, Honoka has the self-awareness to keep from spilling all the details of her fantastic voyage until crossing the threshold of Elise's trailer. To their credit, the Ainu warriors remain outside the trailer, taking positions on opposite sides of the door as they look outward, showing no intent of eavesdropping on matters outside their purview.

As soon as privacy is ensured, Honoka shrugs her shoulders -- overconfident, to be sure, but she feels she's earned that.

"Every hundred years, the fate of Earth had hung in the balance of a grand martial arts tournament. The series of battles has taken place on an island which exists outside of Earthrealm, and yet, outside our adversaries from Outworld as well. For the past nine hundred years, Humanity had lost the tournament, failing in their duty as representatives of Earthrealm. This year... "

Fingers lift to brush along the pendant suspended from Honoka's neck. Before, it had lain almost dormant. But now, with the attention, it glimmers with a honey-hued glow.

"This year, the kamui smiled upon our world, granting us with these boons. The power to retain soul energy from the vanquished, or from volunteers. The power to usurp victory from the Outworld champion himself."

She tilts her head to indicate the figures outside.

"And, within the confines of the island, the power to restore life. Those two standing outside perished two hundred years ago. They look well for their age, mm?"

Honoka's lips press into a smile, as she eagerly studies her companion's expression.

"I would have restored more to life, but there are limits even to those powers."

It is likely a testament to the nature of their relationship that when Honoka delivers a short summary of the events of Kombat, a summary that sounds more like the plot of a silly martial arts movie than a real thing that happened to real people, Elise does not blink an eye, or call her out on this being fiction, or do anything but nod. After all, the Ainu medium is talking to a witch descended from generations upon generations of witches. Why should the idea of a martial arts tournament to decide the fate of the world be strange to either of them?

The post-action debrief is perhaps the most common way in which Elise and Honoka connect, so by now the groove of its passage is well-worn; the Scot listens, keeping her hands busy by putting a kettle on to boil, getting out the small tea service she keeps for these occasions. Just... listening. "Must be an Asian thing, aye? You'd imagine we'd have heard of such a setup over on the other side of the globe, yet the description says nowt." A faint grin, one with a little too much of a knife edge behind it to be entirely innocent, crosses her face. "Maybe once you try to roll the planet up in a tight little colonial bundle you don't get to try and save it, aye?" At the very least, Elise has no illusions about the impact of European expansionist colonialism on southeast Asia. A saving grace, perhaps?

While the kettle boils away, she sits down, digesting this information. Two hundred-year-old Ainu brought back from the dead? Gifts from the gods that can trap souls? Well, why not. "I'm not sitting here neck deep in beasties from the beyond so I imagine you all won, so cheers all 'round," she says, but her expression is thoughtful; here in closed quarters she makes little motion to hide her perturbation entirely. "I'm sure you know what I'm going to say, hen, but you've changed. I won't lie to you that it's a bit jarring to hear you speak so formally, but I imagine I'll get used to it." The cadence of Honoka's voice *does* seem a little different from the precise but relaxed way she spoke while usurping an entire major yakuza clan, for example, but one imagines if you just went through an ordeal to save the literal world, it can leave a mark.

"I wish I could tell you anything interesting happened while you were away, but I can't. Though we've been treading water for some time, hen; I imagine once you feel up to it, people are chomping at the bit for their next new move."

It is an innocent statement. And the first part is an outright lie.

The kettle whistles. "Is that it, then?" Elise says carefully. "You saved the world and brought home some ancient bodyguards? Just another week for you then, aye?"

Not just Asians... "Warriors from all over the world take part in this -- quite a few lost their lives. I can't say I'll miss any of the ones who were left upon the island though. Sergei Dragunov -- Daniel Jack's Russian frenemy from the King of Fighters tournament. Our good 'friend' with the oversized chin, Vega. I'm sure there are others, but those are the two non-Asians I can speak of who I don't believe made it out."

She seems more than pleased enough with those two, from the way in which her smile lifts up at each of the two victims' names.

The edged remark does, however, damper her smile just a smidgen. When she speaks, there is no small amount of haughtiness in her expression: "If Earth had lost, the matters of our culture dying off would be insignificant. Outworld would be allowed to send its armies. And the kamui would be contractually forbidden from aiding us in any way."

It takes a moment for the Ainu puppetmaster to realize that she may... have mistook the comment. One corner of her lips pulls into a smirk. "... You do have a point, though. Next time I'll send you."

Casually, she takes a seat, the soft material of her robes making only the slightest whisper of sound. She nods quietly in assent with Elise's personality assessment. "... I'm... extending Honoka's sabbatical just a bit longer. There is much more I have to do. I'm afraid I have another... job now. I can't exactly take responsibility for six Ainu warriors following me around at all times. They will need to stand apart. And they will need to find students... and teach the ways our people have forgotten. Only then..."

She draws in her breath, closing her eyes in irritation. Try as she might to talk like her old self...

"So, I just want to be sure I heard you right just then. Is it that nothing interesting happened, or is it that you can't tell me anything interesting happened?"

The lie was pro forma; even had Honoka not come out of the crucible of Mortal Kombat new-forged, it was unlikely that the Scot would have been able to keep the fact from her for long. A crowd of onlookers saw her mystically bind a faerie bruiser to the ground after it tried to kill her; the news would have gotten back to her eventually. So when there's a degree of upbraiding to happen -- even if it's not about Elise holding back -- the Scot doesn't argue; she merely listens quietly, bringing a teapot and two cups to the table, settling them in place before sliding back into her chair herself. Ritual... as with many things in life, it's the sort of routine that holds things together even when they stand ready to fly apart.

As she pours tea, however, she does chuckle at the idea of being sent to represent Earth in the next Mortal Kombat. "I don't know how useful I'll be in a hundred years' time, hen, but you're welcome to do so."

The news that Honoka's time off might go on longer than it has, however, does bring a dark cloud over Elise's expression, and she stops and sighs, her own teacup halfway to her flips, the vaporous cloud of steam waving erratically back and forth in front of her face like a grey, gauzy veil. "That... might be a problem," she says, carefully, choosing her words with intricate delicacy. Looking into her teacup, the Scot takes a breath. "You say you've just come back from an interdimensional tournament to save this world, lass, so let me ask you in all seriousness: what do you know about other worlds?"

There's a pause, and then Elise sips her tea and puts the cup down on her saucer. "And I don't mean... *that* other world," the witch says, stressing the words in just the right way, their personal code for the alternate world that so many people connected to Honoka seem to have some knowledge of. "Though maybe that does count after all. I mean... worlds connected to this one, that most people don't see."

Honoka arches an eyebrow at the idea that she might -not- be able to fulfill her life's objectives on her own timeline, after all. Her smile begins to fade, but rather than voice her thoughts, she simply looks down at her teacup, drawing it more closely to her.

In lieu of an immediate answer, the Ainu medium begins to swirl the tea slowly about within its cup, as if it might provide guidance. She draws in the pleasant aroma -- indeed, the aroma is one that she hasn't smelled for quite some time. A reassurance that she has left that ghastly island, and is indeed in a place she has the time to reflect and consider her words.

"I've been to a hellish island where the stench of death is something you just learn to live with. I've visited a future that may never occur, where there was no scent at -all-. And the waystation between the two, with an emptiness I never want to experience again."

She takes a sip of her tea, contemplatively. And tilting her head to a very slight angle, she stares back at her friend.

"It wasn't important enough to share, but now it's important enough to delay the impending resurrection of my culture. Do forgive me for feeling out of my element here, but I think the mic is yours now."

Now, perhaps, it's Elise's turn to potentially read something the wrong way; Honoka's last words are pointed, and the Scot's eyebrow goes up in a sudden way, all her other movements halting. "With this serious face you brought back," Elise says quietly, "I cannae tell if you're having a go with me or not, hen, but I'll say that it was you who asked. I was content to keep it all under the table so you could have the moment you've earned."

She knows, *knows*, that the return of Ainu culture means the world to Honoka. Elise *knows* this. That passion is part of what made the tusukur attractive to the witch as someone to work with, after all. But for a fraction of a second, the Scot feels the tug of resistance. She didn't sign on to be a cultist; she's here as a partner, a peer, helping willingly. But in that tense moment of silence, Elise exhales through her nose, calm returning. She hasn't *explained*. There's no way for Honoka to know how personal, how important this is to Elise herself... or that the witch has delayed serious action on the matter *because* she felt uncomfortable doing so without knowing the organization's leader had her hands on the reins again.

Predictably, she does not seem terribly fazed by the idea that Honoka saw plenty of alternate versions of the world during her journey to this tournament. "Those aren't even the strangest, hen," she says, looking down into her teacup.

The swirl of snow through air that still felt fragrant and warm. Ice like mirrors. A never-ending night. Images pass through her consciousness for a brief moment, before Elise continues.

"You might say there are... reflections of this world, that exist. Different, but the same. And very, very close by. Closer than it sounds like this 'Outrealm' place is, I suppose. So close that at the right places you could walk into them and never come out again."

Clearing her throat, Elise looks at the door, and to the Ainu guards outside. "I'm sure your people have legends of a few, aye? If you're a good Christian, Heaven and Hell, Purgatory... they're just versions of the real world, close by. And each of those worlds has a ruler, and that ruler shapes how the world is, hen. Like a dream."

Hands come up, run through the Scot's long fall of brown hair. She suddenly seems a little tired. "There are two very powerful rulers, where I'm from. I suppose you'd think of them as faeries. Tricksters, pranksters. In Europe, you can actually walk into the faerie land, *physically*. But only at certain spots, and only at very specific times, when those worlds and our world are at their closest."

She pauses, using the time offered to Honoka to digest this information to take a sip of her tea, before continuing, her gaze still staring into the dark depths of her teacup. "While you were away, lass, something from the world of faerie stepped into this realm. Here, in Japan, which should be impossible. And he came here, looking for me. Hurt a person or two before I sent him off with a warning."

She doesn't say the rest. Ideally, she doesn't need to.

As much as Honoka could easily escalate this to an actual argument, there is a nice hot cup of tea in front of her. She looks down on it, weighing her words for a moment. It's... taking her moment to re-internalize the notion that Elise is actually a peer of hers. That here, unlike on the island -- Elise has the ability to say no.

"I've no intention of 'having a go' at you." The frosty tone with which that line was spoken disappears as the young woman sweeps her bangs away from her eyes. "But the fact remains that the matter is worthy of my attention, mm? As for the moment I've earned... There is not much that will stop me from collapsing in my trailer tonight, presuming it hasn't been left in some other city."

She sips at her tea, demeanor softening back into something that more closely resembles her usual mien. "There are several other realms in the pantheon of Kamui, yes," she agrees, when the opportunity presents itself. And she listens intently, without the condescending airs she had wrapped herself in earlier.

Curling her hands around the cup, she nods slowly. "I want to help. I need you to feel comfortable in this, Elise. I can't have my closest confidante troubled." A brief, but meaningful, pause is left for a reassuring smile. "Do you have an idea in mind for dealing with this threat? Of... finding out what allowed the impossible to become possible?"

There's a pause, here; when Honoka says she wants to help, the Ainu woman is possibly, but not probably, prepared for the actual pained expression the Scot's face when she does so. The blue eyes close even as Elise tilts her chin up, unseeing eyes staring at an obscured sky, before she brings her gaze back in line with Honoka's and takes a breath, a smile forming, but a rueful one. "There's naught you can do, hen," she says quietly. And that much, she knows, is the unassailable truth. "Though bless your good intentions."

Taking her teacup into her hand again but not drinking from it just yet, she gestures vaguely with it toward the outside of the wagon. "If we were to visit these realms of yours, you and I, I'd be right useless in the long run, aye? I don't know the rules, there, but you do. And for the faerie, there are rules. You wouldnae think it, given the description, but they love a rule, because a rule means a loophole, and that's what they love, hen: loopholes. Finding ways to bind you up in agreements and oaths and then twist them around your neck like yoking an ox." The bitterness that seeps into her tone here is unmistakable, but also a brief flash, gone in an instant.

There's a sip from the cup, and then a shake of the head. "I can help you all you like with what you plan once I've resolved it, but I cannae involve you, hen. Maybe you'll need to put some of this in Oboro's hands for a time. And I *do* want to help you. For all that you look like you swam through the lowest hell face down, there is something happier about you now, after all this. But..."

With a shrug, she looks at the table. "Have ye heard of druids out this far? Nature worshippers in my neck of the woods. They call it the 'Old Faith' because it goes farther back than anyone remembers. And it was the faerie that those first druids learned the Old Faith from. It's in us down past the marrow, we Harkness girls, is all. Our responsibility. Just like you have yours."

Honoka has a good long while to enjoy her tea, considering all the new information she is being presented with. The framework -- a situation that insists her involvement. The problem -- she can't do anything about it. To at one moment be exultant at the height of her power, to then be shuttered away behind the shades of 'you wouldn't understand.' It's frustrating as hell -- and Elise will probably know the signs of an irritable Honoka feeling powerless, disenfranchised.

Rules. She knows about rules. Her eyes close, as she extracts one last iota of comfort from the fading aroma of her tea, before sipping the bulk of it down. Shang Tsung and the Elder Gods know all about rules. And she'd had plenty of help in interpreting them, by people who gave their lives to researching them.

"The motto of the anarchist is, naturally, 'rules are meant to be broken.' Either you are in a situation where the rules must be upheld at all costs -- much like I was on Shang Tsung's island -- or you are not."

The teacup divulges its last sip, before returning to the coaster. Frustration... melts away, as the tea brings a measure of clarity to the tusukur.

Pausing to take a breath, she speaks with a neutral tone: "Presuming the 'druids' you speak of are not themselves Ainu, no, I've no idea who they are. But I'm listening. And I hear you asking for help, even while insisting you can do it by yourself." With a warm smile that exudes confidence, she leans forward, steepling her hands upon the table.

"Let's go with this, then. I'll stick around two days, to get my affairs back in order. Figure out where all my men are, and how many candy stores they've knocked over. If you have figured out a way for me, or any of those working with us, to help you, we'll proceed with that. Otherwise... I'll merely be a phonecall away in Kamui Kotan. A day, a week, a month... however long it takes. Does that sound workable?"

Long moments pass, after Honoka makes her suggestion of a bargain of some kind. Unless the tusukur interjects something into them, they pass in silence, too; the only sound that comes from Elise is the slow and decidedly measured pace of her breathing, in and out through the nose. Drinking her tea was her displacement activity and now her cup is completely empty... a fact she only seems to process once she's brought it to her lips to take another sip.

When she does speak, her voice is quiet and serious. "I know that you are trying to help me. You have the best of intentions." Here she looks up to meet Honoka's gaze, however, with glacial calmness. "But if I had told you that I knew the nature of your problems, as an Ainu... that I could help with them even if you'd said I likely couldn't, directly... how furious would you be with me?" The question is rhetorical. She has never seen Honoka angry, not REALLY angry. But she has seen 'annoyed'. She knows what the shape of it is like.

Shaking her head, Elise sighs, looking to the side. "This isnae how I imagined this happening, hen... your return, I mean. I wasn't waiting around, saying 'I sure hope Honoka comes back soon so I can skive off while she does all the heavy lifting'. But if you want to help me -- REALLY want to do the thing that will help me the most -- then just... tell me you can live without me long enough for to do what must be done."

There's another pause, and then Elise adds, in a low tone, "And to trust me enough to know that when I have done that, I will come back. And that if I don't come back..." She pauses, leaving the statement out in the open. She'd rather not say 'it's because I've died' aloud.


A hint of irritation flickers in her aura, a tell that only Elise and few others would even be able to pick up on. To anyone else, it would read as a slight hesitation before her words continue, and nothing more.

And then the irritation is gone.

"I'd be furious, I suppose," she agrees, as her tone grows diplomatic. Measured. And calm.

Honoka sees no point in evidencing her agitation any further. Perhaps she just needed to talk less -- to listen more.

Through it all, her hands remain calmly steepled. Before her departure to the kamui-forsaken island, her fingers may have been quaking, the knuckles white. But now -- and for the duration of their rest upon the table -- she is calm, unwavering.

If she doesn't come back...?
"... Then your tea set is in good hands with me."

She might be -too- calm when she says that? And maybe even for the moment of silence that follows.
Thankfully, she shakes her head after a moment to dismiss the thought. It was a joke after all.

"Go do what you need to do, whenever you're ready. We'll be fine. Just one question: If someone comes looking for you..." She shrugs faintly. "Is it against the rules for -me-, as non-practicing foreign non-believers, to take care of them in the manner I see fit?"

Relief is probably not the reaction one might imagine to irritation in a conversational partner, but if Honoka's annoyance means that she understands where Elise is coming from, then she's satisfied with that. And if dark humor is delivered a little too deadpan, well... in the parlance of the younger members of the circus, the look in Honoka's eyes says She's Seen Some Shit. A little dark humor might be entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

"I can't imagine they will bother you in any meaningful way, hen. And mark you, not all faerie are hostile to humans. There are two courts, Summer and Winter... Seelie and Unseelie. The former are tricksters, but they don't mean harm. The latter, though... they feed off human suffering."

Pouring herself another cup of tea, Elise brings it to her lips, and looks at Honoka over the rim of the perfect bone white china cup; behind it, only the top of her suddenly wicked smile is visible. "And if the Queen's fools see fit to bother someone like yourself, they deserve everything they get."

Log created on 19:26:10 04/27/2017 by Honoka, and last modified on 01:04:13 04/29/2017.