Rites of the Spring Horn

Fianna's Rant of the Week--November 24th, 2013

Journal Entry 3:

Welp, the brass doesn’t look like they’re the type to leave us waiting around; we got our first mission right out of the gate. Missing people, suspicious happenings. Sounds brilliant. We even got to go deal with the mother of two missing little girls first. Fan_tastic._

(For my own amusement I will continue to refer to our babysitter as ‘Golden Boy.’ He’s got a bit of a lousy attitude. I bet he’s got buttons that are just waiting to be pushed. Must test this.)

Anyways, Golden Boy got us up and out the door, rather grumpily at that, and we all piled into a creepy old van and were bused over that way. I’d like to say I’ve been in more awkward car rides, but I would be lying. And there was classical music. Feh.

We split when we got to the girl’s house; I wasn’t one of the ones who went inside to talk. I opted to keep an eye on our two most…eccentric members, Iris and Amy. They were examining the garden. Her Highness was there as well, but she was moderately tolerable for once. And between the three of them, they actually found something. Something bad.

I admit, I don’t like hearing that kids have been disappearing. We all know what’s probably happened, and it hits a bit close to home; I’m guessing Amy was taken at a similar time in her life.

I wish I could say I doubted their competence, but it was pretty clear that the girls had disappeared, and the pile of debris left in their baby carriage was fairly damning. Damn it, I hate it when it’s kids. No one deserves that.

Hopefully the next stop is more informative, and less horribly depressing.

~Fianna

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Marcella's Journal - Game 3 (11/24/13)

As the group sets out, Marcella is excited and relieved to be going on a mission and have something to do. She decides to take her chess sword because it is familiar and reliable, and after a moment of hesitation grabs the bamboo sword as well. The weapon smith said it might reveal other properties with use, and it can’t be used if she leaves it behind all the time. She’s decided not to use the onyx-handled sword unless she’s in truly dire straits, since it isn’t really hers to use.

She feels a slight rush of alarm and then frustration with herself when Blue points out that mortals might be surprised by their weapons. She has been carrying a sword for 12 years (or so it felt, apparently only two), and honestly can’t remember the last time she wasn’t armed, other than in the Queen’s court earlier today. She had forgotten that most people here probably had never seen a real sword, let alone held one. What else would seem foreign about the mortal world to her now? What else had her Keeper taken?

Marcella approves of the thoughtfulness and initiative Blue is showing as they organize themselves and plan their approach to the family. She feels pretty confident in her ability to talk to people (all that general-ing might have real-world applications after all), so she sticks with Blue for that part. Plus, hopefully there won’t be call to talk to any bones. Rationally, the other changelings probably won’t be freaked out when she tells them about that ability, since many of them have equally strange or stranger powers. However, the ten-year-old part of herself which knows about the mortal world still has the instinct to hide any piece of herself which they might think is weird or different.

On the other hand, she is increasingly becoming convinced that Iris and Amy should have some form of supervision and protection when they leave the freehold, since the two of them seem to have a slightly looser grip on reality than most of the rest of them. She’s glad when Fianna and Zia decide to go with them to look for clues outside the house. Their guide, Faron, continues to be curt almost to the point of rudeness, but at least he’s keeping them on track. She’s a little surprised when he comes with her and Blue to talk to the family, but perhaps he’s going because he has the most facts about the case and can cover in case they screw up the details.

Marcella is flabbergasted when she realizes Amy and some of the others don’t know what cell phones are. Given that she was born after the devices were invented, she can’t really envision a time when instant communication was fact rather than science fiction. Frustrated again by the complications of her shift in age relative to the world, she briefly explains and lets the subject drop.

Marcella frowns at Blue for a moment when he gives her real name to the mother of the girls, then quickly gives a false surname to try and cover the damage. Not that Blue knew her real surname, or that she’d told anyone her real name since returning, but it was better to take control if Blue might slip up somehow.

As Marcella listens to the story the girls’ mother tells, the hair stands up on her arms. The more they hear, the more this sounds like children who have been snatched by the Fae. She wonders what the Court wants them to do about this. No changeling would ever say that a human being taken by the Fae was anything less than a tragedy, but if it turns out to be the Fae, what are they supposed to do about it? It’s not as though changelings have the power to predict who will be taken next – or at least, if they do, she hasn’t heard about it yet.

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Amy's Journal_Game_3_11/24/13
In which Amy starts to break down

It started out fun. We were going to be heroes. We were going to find all of the missing people and bring them back home.

It was still fun while we were in the car, even if the music was kind of boring.

It was still fun while we decided what to do and split into groups.

It was fun when I asked the nice bricks what they’d seen and they told me.

It stopped being fun when I say the tunnel in the garden bushes.

Don’t go in, Iris. You’ll never come back. Don’t go in. I don’t want to go in. It’s just like before and I won’t go. I won’t go. I won’t go won’tgoWON’TGO!

I don’t want to go back. I want to go home. I want my Mommy and Daddy. Don’t go in Iris. Don’t touch it. Just stay away.

JUST STAY AWAY!

But… if I don’t do this, can I ever go home? Will the freehold still find my family? Will they still find my name, or will they send me back there?

No. I have to do this. Be brave, Amy. You’re a brave girl. You’re all grown up now, and you can do this. Think about those little girls. Taken just like you. They must be so scared. I don’t want to go back. Don’t send me back. I have to be brave.

I’ll find a way in.

I have a Mother. I call her Mommy and she loves me. She makes me food and packs my bag for school. She watches over me while I’m playing and hugs me when I get home from school.
I have a father. I call him Daddy and he loves me. He taught me to ride my bike (the bike is pink) and how to talk to bullies. He watches over me while I play and helps me with my homework.
I have a puppy. His name is Benny and he loves me. He’s a scaredy-cat and always wants me to protect him. He licks my face any time he sees me, and he does tricks when I say so. He loves walks and likes to chase birds, but never catches them.
I have a classroom and a teacher. I play with my friends and I learn things. The schoolhouse is red brick, and has my favorite book in it. The book is about a cat.
My favorite food is chocolate.

Is someone talking? It doesn’t matter. I’ll find a path. I can find it in dreams. Just a little blood for the hedge…

I am – uh – was six years old. My real name has an A and an M in it, in that order. I remember that and I won’t forget it. I call myself Amy. I am Amy. I am brave and I am me and I can do this.

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Zia's Journal- 11-24-13

Dear Journal,

After Faron came in and told us about our mission, we all went to change and get ready. Except Blue who stayed in his nice suit, which turned out to be a good idea. Perhaps I should consider focusing on creating an array of clothing for each of us to play different roles depending on our mission. We could have a costume van! That would of course, entail us getting our own van and having the money to fill it with the perfect clothes, oh and one of us would need to have a driver’s license again.

In any case, I changed into an outfit the seamstress only had to make minor changes too, a rather nice steampunk-inspired get up. I went to the courtyard to meet everyone else. Shortly Faron brought the car around. We turned on the music in the car! It was so wonderful to hear human music made by human hands carried by human technology, even if it was classical. I think that it might take a few weeks or more to get everyone out of their shells, but the music definitely helped.

At the site we split into two groups. I would have prefered to discuss our plan in the car and in the end…we all went to the same place, just 3 of us went inside. I think Amy can talk to things like I can. She went and talked to a building and then seemed to know what was going on. I think her contract works differently. She seemed to know what happened across from the building, which I couldn’t do. Iris saw a ghost of some kind, maybe a doggy from the way she was acting. Either way, both Amy and Iris led to the garden and the carriage. I spoke to the carriage. Those two little girls seemed so lonely, like they really missed their dad. I’m not sure what took them, but it took them right into the hedge. The carriage remembered magic and fur and talk of promises. Was it Amy’s fox friends? I am not sure I understand who her friends were. I am a bit concerned that she doesn’t know that animals don’t talk. I wonder if the freehold keeps good psychologists on hand? Either way, I suppose this could be her fox friends or it could be something else. There have to be plenty of furry small animals with magic in the Hedge.

Iris and Amy seem to have found a way into the hedge. The way seems rather small, big enough for children or a fox, but not really for us, certainly not for everyone. I don’t want to go back into the Hedge…I was just there this morning. I’d really some sleep before we do that.

Until next time,

Zia

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Fianna's Rant of the Week--November 17th, 2013

Journal Entry 2:

So people kept talking about ‘Spring Court’ this and ‘Spring Queen’ that. I thought they were some fancy words for something—symbols, y’know? Turns out they were being completely literal.

The entire place looks like the Renaissance and a flower garden had a baby. There’s even grass on the floor. Hell, for all I know, the grass might actually be the floor. All I know is that it tripped me. It and these damned heels. And of course it’s not like the hall was empty, oh no. The place was full. After this I’m going to have to find some shoes with sensible heels.

Then we met the Spring Queen, who, I gotta say, seemed to have been trying really hard to be impressive. I was not particularly impressed, but I’m not going to rag on her too hard or anything; she was in charge. She’s got to do all those snooty politics. And she could have just kicked us out.

She had us introduce ourselves—Zia introduced herself as the ‘Crafter of Rainbows’, dear Lord—I gave the name I decided on earlier. No one needs to know Blair Cameron is, or was. The little doll-girl—maybe as a result of losing her own, poor bairn—seemed confused about my not wanting to use my name, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

Then she got down to brass tacks. Turns out there’s a lot of us escaping through the Hedge and ending up in this city. Too many. Something about you’re supposed to find your way back to familiar surrounds. In any case, the freehold can’t provide for all the training and other necessary breaking in that keeps the newly escaped from getting themselves killed, which is bad for yadda yadda yadda doomsday for all the changelings, Gentry everywhere.

Then she started offering us things, which I expected: retribution, closure, knowledge, what have you, if we would only join one of these training programs and swear to the freehold.

I would be lying if the thought of getting back at the Professor does not tempt me very much.

In any case, we all swore, and the magic involved was strong. Impressively strong.

And then the ghost girl had a panic attack. A little delayed, if you ask me, but whatever.

Apparently we get ‘official liasons’ for being in one of these groups. The one from the Summer Court—who I’m guessing is who takes over when the weather shifts in a few weeks—is this pretty golden boy with a sword and armor. A literal knight in shining armor. I just about cracked up laughing.

His name is Faron. Seems fair close-mouthed for the moment. He led us off to a hall where we were supposed to eat and get to know each other better, since we were going to be working with each other.

I honestly did not say much during dinner. I know there was some talk as to who was good at what—pretty much what I’d guessed, though the ghost girl being good with a firearm was a bit of eyebrow-raising news. They picked a name for our group. Vogel something. I didn’t contribute.

I was far too interested in the food. I have never eaten this well in my life. Some of the things on the plates I’d only ever heard of, never seen, or just been too poor to afford. I didn’t drink any of the alcohol—they had milk, and you could never keep milk on the street. No refrigeration meant it went bad.

Golden boy came in after a bit, said we had our first ‘mission.’ Something about people disappearing. Honestly, I don’t care if whatever this mission turns out to be. If we get to eat like this at all regularly, I will count it good.

~Fianna

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Zia's Journal- 11-17-13
On the way to group dynamics...

Dear Journal,

It’s been a really long day already…Sometime last night I was woken with a finger to my lips by Tridee, one of my assistants. In all the time that Brigid had kept me in her castle, Tridee had been polite but never indicated she was anything other than another of Brigid’s most loyal supporters. She used a special tool to etch out a key part of the inscriptions on each of the pieces of jewelry. I was free. It took tiring hours to work my careful way free of the castle and then more hours and trials to get through the Hedge.

Now it seems I am to go directly from our get-to-know each other banquet to our first mission. Sigh. But I get ahead of myself. The spring court was simply lovely. I imagine that they change up the court hall every season. I am quite curious as to how they do that. Is a spell or is there crafting involved? In any case, the Queen asked us to swear to the freehold, which was not my preference, but it appears that we will receive significant benefits from doing so. I am sure that if needed I can find a way to amicably settle this.

I do hope that our group, now named Vogelfrei will be effective. As a whole we are quite a mixed bag. Amy is a sweetie, though quiet. She will look simply lovely in the outfits I have already thought up for her. We’ve yet to see what she can do, perhaps something with dolls? We will have to find her a better sling than a bedsheet for that one she carries with her. Marcella is the most promising in terms of potential obvious skills, what with the two swords she is carrying and her obvious leadership experience. Blue seems to be vying with her for leadership of our merry band, though his skills are as of yet unknown. Iris can talk to ghosts, which is really cool. I hope that that doesn’t come in handy tooooo often though. I have worked with dead flesh a few times at Brigid’s behest and it was…not my cup of tea. Fianna seems to be quite a firebrand. I am sure she will quite useful, if frequently annoying.

Now what they all need is a good makeover. I don’t have much to offer in the way of combative abilities, but I can help them get kitted out in a modern fashion!

Now, off to a mission! I hope that it will go well and that those little girls are alive.

Zia

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Iris' Diary: Vogelfrei (or are we?)

We were led into a court, I could feel them staring at us, judging us silently and we still had no idea what they might have in stock for us. I didn’t anyway, the others might have, but I didn’t try to ask at the time, I was too busy trying to figure out what I had gotten myself into. Naturally I didn’t manage until it was already too late. I could feel the queen’s attention on me, but what choice did I have? If I were to run they would not only catch me but I would also lose what little comfort I had left and be on my own once more. I knew they wanted something, I was also well aware that most of the people from my group weren’t from around here, some of them weren’t even German. What the queen told us made sense I guess.

I might have been scared before, but when she told us to swear here, in a place where words had power, I started to panic. I couldn’t get away. None of the others seemed to be concerned, but there I was, I don’t trust them. They wouldn’t help us without expecting to be repaid, surely. And if I didn’t swear they might reveal their true face… I guess it was still all theoretical. I hesitated, but I managed to make my lips speak the words.. it was only when I felt what I had brought upon myself that I really started to realize – this oath was binding. There would be no out from it now, no way of just running and escaping punishment, yet I had nowhere else to go. The fear took over. I was frozen in place, desperately trying to breathe while I got more and more dizzy. I’m sure I must have embarrassed everyone, having to have a doctor come and take care of me, but if they thought me weak it might be for the best. I would rather be underestimated, just in case.

It was quite strange, when I finally managed to get a hold of myself everything continued as if nothing had happened at all. As if this was some sort of strange, grotesque procedure. Maybe I’m thinking too much into this, but I can’t help it. This place, the things that happened, all of this, this magic is making em nervous. People mare making me nervous. I don’t know who to trust and for now I think my answer is nobody at all. This world is still new to me, I don’t know the rules, I don’t know the places or how the game is played, but I’m sure somebody will take advantage of this ignorance and I need to be prepared and earn quickly if I want to have a nay chance at figuring out how to build some sort of life before it’s too late.

As for my companions? I’m actually starting to like some of them. They make me feel less alone, in that all of them have been wronged and kept captive, they’re all different of course. Strange people and I don’t think I understand them by any means, but it’s somehow comforting to know that I’m not alone. Unless they’re all actors or fetches or illusions, but I’m trying to keep those thoughts out. It’s maddening enough as it is and in the end, maybe part of me really would rather be happy than right. I’m not sure yet. I’ll write more about them when I know more. For now there is blue, who at least knows about fetches, I feel somewhat more comfortable around him. There is Amy, who looks a bit like one of those Victorian dolls, strange, but she seems more child like tan actually malicious. Those eyes are just creepy though. There is Zia, who seems to pay a bit too much attention to fashion, but I guess she says she’s an artist and she seems to mean well. Hulda and Marcella I don’t know too much about yet and Fianna I’m a bit weary of. She seems fiery and not entirely sane, but then neither am I most likely and we’ll just have to see what’s going to happen.

At least we did get lunch an impressive feast at that. I was famished by the time we got to the dining hall so I paid far more attention to the food than the conversation most of the time, but I was listening – and it seems I still managed to have one of my comments cause quite a stir. I suppose I should explain… we’ve been turned into a group or task force of sorts and they were throwing around names. Turns out I still think aloud sometimes, but in this case I can’t say I’m sorry.

Vogelfrei – an adjective. It reminds me of the books I used to read, fantasy novels partially written and partially translated into German. I’ve always liked that word and now that I think about it it fits our situation. We are after all outlaws, free as a bird on one hand and on the run from our captors on the other. It’s quite poetic I think, but it also makes me feel better, a little bit more powerful or rather purposeful. It is what and who we are right now, there is nothing else left. Our lives lay in ruins, we are fugitives in hiding, but we are or at least want to be truly free most of all. I do anyway, I haven’t asked them about it. I have to admit I also happen to like the way it rolls of the tongue though.

Then we finally found of the catch to all this. we had to go investigate some murders. Great. I hope the others know how to fight because while I may be a decent shot I certainly don’t want to be caught in a melee with who knows what kind of monster it is we’re supposed to chase after. We don’t know anywhere near enough about all this to know what we’re getting into, but maybe if I can find and talk to the ghosts of the victims we will have a better idea of what’s going on.

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Amy's Journal_Game 2_11-17-13

Wow! This was so great. They let us into the hall where the queen was, and I got to talk to her. I talked to a real queen. She asked everybody’s name, so now I know. The naked lady is Fianna, her friend is Zia, the smart one is Blue, and the other two are Iris and Hulda.

Fianna tripped and it was funny so I laughed, but then I was embarrassed because I laughed at someone in front of a queen. I’m not sure she noticed though. She was really pretty and nice.

She told me most changelings never go home. I don’t know why. That seems weird to me, but then Fianna said she didn’t want to go home anymore so maybe the queen was right. I still want to go home though.

We pledged ourselves to the freehold and then Iris started to panic. It scared me and I didn’t know what to do, but Blue and the doctor took care of it.

Then we all went to dinner. It was really good, and we talked for awhile. Everyone is so sure of what they’re good at. I don’t know how they all know. I don’t know what I’m good at, or if I’m even good at anything. Blue didn’t know either though, so I didn’t feel quite so alone. Then everybody talked about boring things for a bit, which was disappointing, but the food was good so I just ate. Zia seems to talk about boring things a lot when she’s not yelling at Fianna. I know I should try to be friends with her since we’re going to be a group, but I don’t know how. I like Blue and Marcella better, and Fianna is really funny.

After we ate for awhile, Faron, he’s our teacher from the Summer Court, came in and told us we had a mission. Like James Bond or superheroes! It turns out people have been disappearing near where we all came out of the hedge. It sounded like the True Fae to me, and I think the others were thinking it too, but no one wanted to say it. We’re going to go and save all the missing people, I think. Or at least stop any more from going missing.

I’m going to look for my friends and see if they know what’s been going on. I haven’t seen them since I left the hedge and I’ve been worried. I’ve been so busy trying to find out about my family and get used to this new body that I didn’t have time to ask anyone about them, but I hope they are ok. They were so nice to me.

Some of the others seemed to think it was weird for animals to talk, and that it might be bad. I guess animals don’t normally talk, but my friends did, and they weren’t bad. I thought they might be at first, but it turned out they were just lonely. I can understand that. And then they helped me and protected me, so they can’t be bad. Maybe the ones the others saw were bad, but those couldn’t have been my friends anyway, because they left the hedge with me, so they wouldn’t have been there.

I can’t wait to go see them! This is going to be so awesome.

I need to remember to find a better way to carry my small friend, though. This sheet is uncomfortable.

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Blue's Experiences - 11/17/13

Things took a depressing turn. We all took our steps into the court; it was filled with a ridiculous amount of floral life and just as many people who were trying to look like flowers. Their colours, their clothing, the entire scene…it just wasn’t the best place for Caesar. It reminded him of the fountain room from the Lady’s mansion — a place he’d rather not have in his mind. The queen, herself, wasn’t all that amazing to meet; she didn’t particularly stick out in Caesar’s memory nor did she say much that intrigued him.

Everyone exchanged pleasantries and made an oath to protect the freehold and went off on their way. Iris had a panic attack, blah, blah. Still nothing really stuck out to Caesar save meeting Faron, whom the team — now named Vugelfrei — would be working with for the rest of the spring and through the summer likely. Little was exchanged with him, yet, Caesar feels he’s hiding something, for whatever reason. Perhaps that just the way Changelings were, we all had a past that was better not brought up.

Afterwards, we were all invited to a luncheon held by the Spring court. Even for one who wasn’t too familiar with food, everything seemed fresh. The lamb was especially nice. During the lunch, the other six seemed to open up a bit and talk.

As a team, we have: Iris, the medium who knows how to use a gun, Zia, the up-beat craftswoman, Marcella, the timid swordswoman, Amy, the one with the fox friends, Hulda, the story-collector, and Fianna, who likes to punch things. It was an interesting bunch. Weird to see that the Fae seem to prefer abducting females rather than males.

Apparently, there’s these things called “fetches,” which replace someone here while they were in Arcadia. It was a terrifying thought. While the real person was suffering in some weird new world, others would continue on as though nothing happened. What happened when you came back to replace the fetch? You can’t just merge back into that kind of life. Perhaps that’s what the queen meant when she said people usually didn’t return to life with their families. Anyways, there was no life left back for Caesar, he was supposed to be in his early thirties. He couldn’t even be Caesar Berry any longer. He’d have to go by Blue in the case that a “Caesar” was around.

Zia slipped a comment which really interested Caesar, that she created diadems in the fashion of various mythologies. Those headbands aren’t too different than the manacles Caesar wore; perhaps Zia might be familiar with them, or any of the other Spanish mythology the Lady seemed to follow true to.

Marcella was the first one to figure that Caesar hadn’t told his strengths, as the others had. In light of such, Caesar tried something new, something he wasn’t even sure he could do. He managed to “whisper” a message to her, something no other could hear. It was a brilliant thing, something he could not do before his captivity. He could convey information secretly and safely.

For now, only Marcella knows of it (why her, that’s a good question for anyone). The others believe that Caesar, like Amy, know nothing about what they could do.

We barely had time to toast to the formation of our team before Faron came and told us about a mission. Four dead or missing from near the cemetery that Caesar had exited the Hedge from. Only one of them was confirmed dead from Faron’s preliminary informational gathering. Caesar thought of those glowy-eyed beasts he saw in the Hedge, rather close to where the cemetery was. The mentioning of it caught Faron’s attentions; he hit the nail on the head. It was these things. They said they were luring those stuck in the Hedge for food, but Amy said she had “fox friends” which brought her to safety. Were they trying to convince her they were safe? Caesar distinctly remembers a fox at that meeting of their’s. He’d have to warn her her friends weren’t friends at all.

All the girls went off to change, leaving Caesar alone for a short time to try to plan everything with Faron. Caesar had a few questions and something of a plan already formulating in his mind for how this mission would go.

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Marcella's Journal - Game 2 (11/17/13)

Marcella is quietly impressed by the Court Hall of this freehold. During her imprisonment, it was impossible to imagine such magical splendor in the human world. She had thought that this kind of fae splendor was exclusive to Arcadia, but it appears that here in the mortal world, escaped changelings have reclaimed it and made it their own. She approves wholeheartedly.

The power structures within the court seem fairly clear as they walk up the aisle. The Queen is at the far end, with the rest of the Spring Court gathered around her. Most of the hall seems to be filled with the rest of the changelings of the Freehold.

As she listens to the introductions to the Queen, Marcella is impressed by her diplomacy and tact. The Queen must be used to dealing with new changelings from the Hedge. Marcella relaxes a bit more as she realizes how accepting the freehold is of the … oddities of these new changelings. They truly were not mortal any more, and all of them had been traumatized and tortured in their own ways. This freehold truly was a place of refuge, a safe haven for fae within this now-strange mortal world. Surely there was politicking and intrigue behind the scenes, but bound by the pledges and contracts that held a freehold together, Marcella understands what draws so many Changelings to stay with a freehold after regaining their freedom.

Marcella is a little disturbed to hear the Queen’s answer to Amy, that Changelings almost never rejoin their families. She is still struggling with what to do about her own family. Rationally, she knows she probably shouldn’t even try to contact them. With no report of her own death on the internet, she has probably been replaced with some sort of creature created by the True Fae. Besides, she has no way to explain how she has aged 12 years when only 2 have passed for them. But, surely her brother noticed something was wrong when she was taken … they had been joined at the hip, and Marcus knew her practically better than she knew herself. Why else would his fencing rankings have plummeted, when before he had been even more talented than she?

Marcella listens with interest to the queen’s explanation of Aachen’s “problem.” The “three seasons” statement set off a quiet echo in her brain. Hadn’t one of the True Fae her Keeper hosted mentioned something about how there had been “no good harvest in three seasons”? That couldn’t be a coincidence. She still remembered the feeling of the Hedge snapping closed on her view of Berlin. Why would she have emerged here in Aachen, of all places? And why would people like Amy and Fianna have emerged here, who weren’t even from Germany? She doesn’t feel like she has enough information to figure out what’s going on here, but at some point she should see if others in the freehold or in her group know anything else.

Regardless of why this is happening, Marcella approves of the way the freehold has chosen to handle the problem. Giving new changelings structure and guidance after the horrors of Arcadia seems like the right approach to her. She gladly pledges the oath to the freehold.

Their guide and contact, Faron, seems competent and knowledgable, though Marcella is a little surprised that their guide is so reticent. However, she will reserve judgement until she sees him in action and has interacted with him further.

Iris seems a little jumpy and overwhelmed by the number of people and the oath they just swore. Marcella can understand the jumpiness and distrust of strangers though, and figures she went through a lot in Arcadia. Hopefully in time, this group will be able to earn her trust.

Blue seems to have a lot of common sense, Marcella is glad to see. It seems like he may want to become the leader of the group, but she can’t quite tell if he’s making a push or is just friendly and talkative. She’ll have to make sure not to let everyone assume he’s the leader without a discussion.

Zia seems a little fashion-obsessed, but definitely smart and talented as well. It sounds as though she has some truly amazing crafting abilities. Marcella wonders if she would be able to find out more about her swords, especially the bamboo one. Weapons don’t seem to be her thing, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Amy seems so innocent for a Changeling. Though she doesn’t look especially young now, Marcella wonders how old she was when she was first taken. She doesn’t seem to have a good grip on reality, but she has certainly activated all of Marcella’s protective instincts. Marcella hopes she can keep her safe.

Hulda has been fairly quiet so far, but she seems quite knowledgable about history and myths.

Fianna is quite straightforward and direct, but Marcella is glad to see there is another fighter in their group. They have a good range of talents, but as far as she’s concerned, if they can’t protect themselves from harm first, they won’t be able to complete any of the other tasks the freehold might give to them.

When Faron comes in to tell them about their mission, Marcella feels something like a sense of relief. Finally, something for them to do, a goal to work towards. She has had enough of sitting around, dwelling on what might have been and might yet be. She’ll take action over banqueting any day.

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