𝓝𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝟕𝓽𝓱, 𝟏𝟑𝟐𝟕 / / 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓯𝓮𝓵𝓭 / / 𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓭𝓪𝓷'𝓼 𝓔𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓮 / / 𝓔𝓿𝓮𝓷𝓲𝓷𝓰
It had been an interesting day to see the least. Regies was entirely uninterested in... well, all of it aside from serving Rose-Marie as best he could. After dinner he made sure to attend to his duties and headed straight to his room for what he assured himself was a well deserved rest. After all, he'd gone a long ways from home for the sake of his mistress, and...
Well, it was taxing to do new things.
He settled in, sitting on the bed and gazing out the window. As he did he found his lute, idily plucking away the notes of a song he'd only half-remembered.
She and Amelie's garden visit had been a big flop. Of course. The one part of this big, crowded box that Wren had any interest in exploring and she wasn't allowed. Perched on the windowsill with the dinner dress crumpled on the bed behind her, Wren stared up at the moonlight peeking through the branches of the tree outside.
She needed to step out for a bit. A tree alone was no garden of flowers, but it would be nice enough.
The small young woman tentatively reached for the window latch, trying to remember how Amelie had opened it before. Recalling the presence of her friend, she turned to see her breathing slowly in her bed. Asleep after a long day of travel and senseless 'requirements'.
Silent boots hit the floor again and she crept a bit closer, narrowing her eyes curiously at the sleeping girl's face. What a weirdo. Why did she want to come here so badly? The food was good, but they had plenty of that at home. None of this needed to be their fight. What had the Emperor of Greinheim ever done for them? With a breathless sigh, Wren straightened herself and stepped towards the window, slipping out into the night air.
It was only a short hop to the nearest branch. The tree barely shook as it accepted her weight. The feeling of bark beneath her fingertips was a comfort she hadn't realized she'd missed after spending all day with smooth, polished surfaces. This was a good tree. Yes, as long as this tree was here, things might not be so terrible.
The second thing that caught her attention was a sound. She'd heard it only a few times before. Sometimes drifting from beside a distant campire, sometimes flowing through the maze of buildings and fences near Amelie's house. Curiousity propelled her up a sturdy branch that reached past the window from which she thought she could place the sound, but no. The room inside was dark. She cupped her hands up against the glass, squinting until her eyes adjusted. Nothing to see.
Just when she thought she might lose interest, the music started up again. She looked down between her scrawny legs, dangling just above the top of another window. There was light in that room so it must be the place. Twisting her hat more snugly onto her head, Wren turned herself upside down, knees closed around the tree branch and necklace jingling against her cheek as she peeked in at an orange haired boy sitting on his bed with a... music thingy.
Regies, for but a moment, was so absorbed in thought that he didn’t notice the gremlin hanging from the branches watching him. He continued to pluck at the strings of the lute, looking off to the side.
However, he eventually did notice.
”Oh! By the gods, monster!” he shouted, shooting up, placing the lute at his side, and quickly searching for the sword that Rose-Marie had given him. He never though he’d have to use the damn thing, especially not this quick. Was this how he was going to die? A dirt covered gremlin eating his innards? He shot a quick glance behind him as he rummaged for his things, and…
Wait, was that actually a person?
Wren stared, mildly surprised when his eyes met hers and he jumped up to begin shouting. What the hell was that for? She cinched her brow and as he began searching for something, a frown settling across her face. Probably something to throw or swat at her with, if past experience was anything to go by. She soundly doubted he was fishing for some socks to hand over freely, like one other weirdo she knew. Either way, it seemed he was no longer interested in making music, so it was likely best that she make tracks.
Wren quickly righted herself and reached for a branch overhead, pulling herself up and away with only a few falling leaves left behind as evidence she was ever there.
Regies turned quickly, trying to place the face with one of the ones at dinner but failing to. Or was it…? No, no, he pushed the thought away, hurrying to the window and opening it, ”Hey! Wait!” he called out.
Alas, 'wait' wasn't a word she often listened to. Wren pulled herself up onto another tree branch before reconsidering. This was supposed to be her home. Hers just as much as it was his. She turned around and leered down at the boy silently. Her eyes flickered to his hands, noting that they were empty, but still cautiously waiting for whatever it was he wanted to say.
”Uhhhhhh…” was, for a moment, all he could think of. ”Are you, er, one of the, uh… celestially… bonded… people?"
Silence. More silence. Wren rolled her eyes and sighed. Yeah, she sure was. And she sure kinda wished she wasn't. What was he asking such obvious questions for, anyway? Hadn't he seen her at the table?
Shifting into a more comfortable position, she nodded once.
Regies smiled, ”Oh, well, you gave me quite the scare!” he said jovially, ”Er, probably not best to be peering through people’s windows at night. I’m Regies… uh, Regies Proulx.” he awkwardly extended his hand upward, not quite sure if she’d come down and reach for it.
Indeed, she wouldn't. Staring at the hand reproachfully, Wren lowered herself down a branch. She wasn't stupid. She knew what a handshake was. In fact, she was keenly aware of the social repurcussions of turning one down as well. But in the grand scheme of all things Wren, feeling another person's skin against her own simply wasn't something she fancied doing anytime soon. So she did the next best thing.
She gave a small wave, additionally showing no remorse for the 'scare' as she folded her arms and leaned against the tree trunk, staring at 'Regies' expectantly.
Regies stared at the girl for a moment. Oh. Oh. He understood! She must’ve been simple, like his cousin Linus. Aye, he knew how to handle the sort. A light touch was best. He glanced back at the lute, reaching for it, ”Were you, er, interested in this?”
Wren perked up a bit, but didn't move. Was he offering to play more? She thought for a moment. It felt awkward now that he knew she was there. And she didn't want to have to sit and politely listen until he was done with whatever he decided to play. Especially if it turned out to be a very long song... Then again, why not? It wasn't like she cared about this random person's feelings. She shrugged lightly, looking away and trying to seem indifferent.
She liked the music. That much she would admit. Not to him, though.
”Aye, well... I’ll play a song, then we’ll see how you feel. I’m quite good, I’ll have you know.” he grabbed the lute, heading towards the window and leaning out of it. He began to pluck at strings, playing a ballad that his father had taught him. ”So, tree lady, do you have a name?”
Wren listened intently, staring off at the skyline of trees in the distance and not bothering to look at Regies again until he asked for her name. Her name. Ugh. He forgot that, too? Wren stared at him, clearly unamused. She was silent for another moment, almost deciding not to answer at all. It wouldn't be the first time she didn't answer a question like that.
She sighed. Today was an odd day indeed.
"'Tree lady' works...," her lips curled into a mean-spirited smile, "But I answer to Wren."
”Aye! Yes, I remember now, Wren. And your partner was… Amelie.” Regies nodded along to the song for a moment, perhaps intentionally ignoring Wren’s displeasure at the question, ”And where, pray tell, are you from, Wren?”
Her eyes narrowed. "Balwyn," she frowned. Amelie had said that during dinner, too. Unlike Regies, who never mentioned where he and 'Rose-Marie' were from. But she didn't bother asking. Being unfamiliar with the world outside Balwyn Forest, she wouldn't recognize it anyway.
”Balwyn…” Regies thought for a moment, and then shook his head. ”’Fraid I’m not familiar. Not one for maps, myself. Perhaps I read it in a book once, but I don't recall. What is Balwyn like?”
Wren could at least relate to the sentiment concerning maps, but her lips pursed at the next question. What was Balwyn like? She didn't possess the words. Balwyn was Balwyn. But of course this person before her could never understand that. From their brief exchange, she could already tell.
Then again, she doubted anyone could properly appreciate Balwyn Forest as she could. Not even Amelie.... Otherwise, they never would have left.
She stopped leaning against the tree and sighed again, looking over at her own open window. Huh... so he was their neighbor. But he was also asking too many dumb questions. A homesick uneasiness hit her like branch to the gut after a nasty fall. She knew why she didn't want to talk about Balwyn. Sure, it was her only point of reference, but it was home. And she missed it. She missed it way too much.
"I'm going now. Goodbye," she said, thinking herself remarkably polite for doing so.
"Errrr... goodbye? Although, uh, you don't have to talk about Balwyn. If you'd prefer I could shut up and finish the song, at the very least."
Wren didn't stop moving. Now he wanted to shut up? Ha... Reaching her windowsill, she stopped with one foot inside, adjusting her hat as she looked back at him. Her mouth twitched into half a humorless smile.
"No...," she said quietly, storm brewing behind sharp, dark eyes, "No, thanks."
It was time to be alone. Er, as alone as she could be in a place like this. Not only that, but she was tired. Tired of talking so much and tired of listening. The music was nice, but not like the owls and crickets that lived in her trees back home.
Regies shrugged. ”Oh well.” he muttered to himself, resigning to the fact that people outside of Roche were both scary and strange alike. Still, he happily continued his song.
Amelie's eyes flickered open, the country girl roused by distant noises out the window. It wasn't uncommon for her to have to wake at strange hours. Wren was a strange one herself, after all, and the Balwyn nights would usher in plenty of storms that would require her to keep an eye out for the forest dweller.
A squint towards the dark of their shared room prompted Amelie to reach out with her mind. "Wren? Are you okay?"
Wren left the window open walking across the room to grab her bag and drag it over to Amelie's bedside. She didn't answer right away, sitting down heavily and leaning up against the wall with a small sigh. The ability to link minds, by far, was one of the biggest things she knew she'd have to get used to. As much as she cared for Amelie, it felt strangely intrusive. Like a touch on the inside of her skull-- a touch she'd never experienced before, but a touch nonetheless.
"Yes," Wren answered outloud, fixing some of the stray feathers peaking out of her skirt before hugging her knees tightly. But it suddenly struck her as a little rude-- talking outloud when Amelie was using her mind. So she closed her eyes and tried to open it, surprised to find that when no words came, her emotions spilled forward.
A nigh inconsolable amount of anxiety and regret. Fear and discomfort. Longing and a lack of understanding. Strong and heavy feelings not a single person would likely guess by looking at the small person seated against the wall. Her expression was still calm as she opened her eyes to look at Amelie. She gripped her knees just a little tighter. She hadn't meant to share all that. At least not all at once.
Involuntarily, Amelie curled in on herself as a wave of what she could only describe as stress washed over all the orifices of her mind. She suppressed a grimacing exhale, taking a few moments before she could muster a proper smile. Gods, had Wren been feeling like this the entire time? Her own doubts and regrets began to take shape in her mind but Amelie cut off the connection before Wren could sense the bulk of it. She had enough on her plate already. Hopefully those fears would put themselves to rest over time.
"You can take my blanket if you're cold," Amelie whispered. Something to start with. Current worries could be just as important as the long-term sometimes.
"No," Wren said quickly, the fainted hint of regret in the sound, "I'll be fine." Two birds, one stone. She quickly pulled her own rolled up blanket out of her pack, bringing the dirty, worn fabric up over her mouth as she settled herself against the wall. An uncomfortable frown wormed its way across her lips.
"Sorry," she told Amelie without speaking, careful to choose her words before opening the link this time.
"...I'm sorry too."
What else was she meant to say? Well, mind-say.
"Tomorrow will be a better day. And I won't stop trying that garden until we get you those flowers."
Empty words, but Amelie truly believed them in the moment. She'd make them real and Wren would never feel that desolate again. Amelie would have said more but she was rather curious right now.
"Were you making a new friend out there?"
"Okay," Wren thought, closing her eyes. It was a nice thought, but she wasn't in the mood to get her hopes up, "No... I was talking to Regies. He's... okay. Kinda odd. Talks a lot."
The Rochean who came with the Marquis.
"Heh. Yes, he did seem like the sort at dinner."
"Would you prefer I stay here, or can I go and pay him my own visit? I'm sure we'd have to meet him tomorrow either way."
"Do what you want, Amelie," Wren mentally sighed, though it was more out of exhaustion. No judgement, hidden conditions or preference either way.
"Okay. Goodnight, Wren."
Amelie hopped out of bed then, changing quickly. The servant kept company far more graceful herself and though she was far from conveying that sense of wealth and importance, the clothing offered by the estate allowed her to imitate the part at least. She squared her shoulders once she reached the neighbouring room, having followed the sound of lute music. After taking an extended moment to straighten her dress, Amelie knocked on the door.
The faint sound of music was stopped, and replaced by shuffling. After a moment Regies arrived at the door. He greeted Amelie with a warm smile, ”Ah, the Lady Amelie,” it sure was a good thing that Wren dropped by to remind him what her name was. He gave a flourished bow – something he practiced for the sake of not embarrassing Rose-Marie. ”How might I help you tonight?”
One might think that his formal mode of address was due to him being a butler, but really he just thought it was quite a good first impression to make on a lady.
"O-oh," she chuckled, a light flush colouring her cheeks, "there's no need for that!"
A quick curtsy was done in return, more out of the sudden feeling of obligation than anything. These noble types were another thing altogether!
"Regies...Proulx, right? You spoke with Wren earlier?"
He nodded, ”Proulx is correct.” for but a moment he gave a thoughtful look at her question, ”Well, yes, I spoke but there wasn’t much talking, I’m afraid.”
It didn't seem to be much of a problem from the way Amelie giggled.
"Yes, that sounds like Wren alright. Actions speak louder than words, or something of that sort. I hope she wasn't a bother."
Regies shook his head, ”No, no, not at all. I had a cousin that was quite a bit like her, I’m used to… well, y’know.” he relaxed a little, his manner of speaking becoming a touch less formal, ”She did run off in the middle of my song, though. Must not’ve been a very good one.” he said with a small laugh.
A cousin like her? Another forest hermit? The news and subsequent joke made Amelie visibly relieved.
"Oh, no, I'm sure your song was wonderful. Wren loves music too, she just takes a long time to warm up to people." Amelie left the 'if she warms up at all' unsaid. "I'm glad there wasn't a problem. To be honest, it's been a long journey from home and, well, I was afraid of how we'd be received, considering our...lifestyle."
Amelie didn't dare separate Wren's problems from her own. They were in this together.
”Aye… worry not, Amelie, we’re all far from home. At the very least you can expect no judgement from me,” he said with a smile. For a moment he was going to append Rose-Marie’s name to that statement, but… well, perhaps that might not be true, ”Speaking of, Wren mentioned she was from… Balwyn, was it? Although if I’m not mistaken I hear a hint of Rochean in your voice.”
'You're definitely mistaken'. She couldn't say that, could she? Her accent would keep slipping out either way plus she had no idea how long she'd be living with these people.
"Er...well. Balwyn, Roche. Practically neighbours, aren't we?"
"Yes. Of course, makes sense to me."
They were neighbors? News to him. More than a little embarrassing, considering he wasn't entirely sure where Balwyn was.
"What's Balwyn like? I asked Wren but she didn't seem very keen to talk about it."
A fond smile crossed the girl's face. It wasn't just because the issue of her accent had been glanced over.
"The thickest forests in all of Grenheim, and the most beautiful. Outside of those, nothing but farms and quiet villages for miles. The opposite of Ausfeld, really."
All the more reason she shouldn't have dragged Wren along.
"What about Roche? I've, uh, heard some great stories."
"Lovely place! Festivals like no other, and great parties. Beautiful cities, rolling countryside, all that good stuff..." for a moment Regies's eyes lit up as he talked about his home, but he quickly came back to reality. "Oh, by the Gods, great food too! Truth be told, I quite miss it already..."
Amelie laughed. Wren was right about this fellow.
"Sounds like a place worth missing," she grinned, "We'll have to see if this 'destined warriors' deal involves a tour across Grenheim. Balwyn feels like a rather small place most of the time. I'd love to see some sights like the ones you've mentioned."
"Aye, well... I have no doubt that we'll see something, at the very least. I doubt they bothered gathering us so we could hang out in a castle," Regies sighed, making an effort to return Amelie's grin, "I myself haven't been outside of Roche, but sometimes I think that may have been for the best... er, sorry, I probably shouldn't be complaining."
"Yes, it's an...interesting world out there."
The girl forced out a brief chuckle, unsure of how to take that comment. He wasn't disparaging the regions outside of Roche, was he?
"Oh, it's getting rather late, isn't it?" What had she come here to say again? "I should retire soon. I just came to thank you for not chasing Wren away when she came by. It's a relief to know we have at least one friend here."
"Not a problem, Miss Amelie. I'm sure we'll see each other around, and if you or Wren ever wanna chat I'll be here..." he wasn't quite sure where he was going with that sentence, "Have a good night!"
"You too, Mister Regies. We'll see you in the morning."
And with a parting curtsy, she departed.