‘I saw three ships’ is an old song from before the fall. It’s rather pretty and right now Jericho is practicing it. After all there’s a ball coming up and the Baronet does not intend to simply mingle. There’s a certain level of entertainment to be offered and his rather exotic instrument is sure to make people talk. Also the fact that he can pursue artistic endeavor. Most people think of him as a business man and a duelest. Not an artist.
So the tones are ringing out through the Factor’s residence at the Trent factory. There’s been a lot to do between bot training, ball preparation and managing his Guild. How he finds time for it… well… maybe it’s a form of magic.
Leaning against the door frame to his residence, or perhaps now it’s more fully //their// residence, is a dark skin asiatic woman with pointy ears and mostly elven features. Her dark eyes are more lilac than brown now and she’s smiling as she watches her … companion … perform.
He might be surprised as she adds her voice to the sound, the tone rising and falling a counterpoint to the crystalline sound.
It’s a very pretty song even if no one is all that certain if its meaning.
Where does Jericho find time to do all this? Maybe Natsuki is a good influence on him. Or maybe he has a magic of his own.
Jericho is really quite good at the whatever this is that he’s playing and the lightshow is as pretty as ever. He’s likely to dazzle a few people almost literally. As the song ends he looks up and smiles to Natsuki, holding his hand out for her.
“So nice of you to join me. I thought you were busy.” A single gesture causes the crystals to bunch up and float into their case, neatly in order. One must wonder whether THESE are magical in some form. They’re certainly wonders whatever they are.
The last notes of Natsu’s song fade with the last of the crystalline sounds and the part-elf smiles, pushing herself from the door way to join the Baronet. “How could I resist when I heard such beautiful music? There is a magic in music, Jericho. But I’m sure you know that …”
Taking his hand, she twirls a little until she’s close to him. He’s taller than her now, which is a worry of sorts.
“I //am// busy. I finished my exercises in the Puma not too long ago and I have Elisa to meet later this afternoon. But I can take some time out to see my leannan, can I not? I might also say the same of you. Don’t you have a lesson with Matthew to attend to?”
“He’s attending to a lession on repairing a right knee actuator at the moment. The last lession caused some damage to his bot and I thought the opportunity to do something else would be nice.” Matthew is a good kid but he isn’t actually a natural. He’s got a good head start but…
“Tell me, how is Elise’s preparations’ going? I understand the girl can be kind of head strong. She hasn’t… caused you any trouble has she?”
Jericho has no doubt she has rather… traditional attitudes.
“Did you take the knee out, Jericho…” Natsu snorts softly at that news. He’s training her as well and she’s sure he’s going easier on her than he might with others. “But it will do him good. I just hope you don’t expect me to learn to do all that stuff. Speaking of which, if you’re going to be playing at the Ball, do you expect to duel?”
Oh, she’s in fine form today, teasing him as she reaches up to kiss him soundly.
“The young woman, leannan, is indeed headstrong but it’s nothing I can’t handle. You’d be surprised how many things she’s tripped over when she’s looked down her nose at me…” So yes, she’s given Natsu attitude. “I’m more concerned to be honest that she keeps asking about my previous … liaisons.”
Those could be any of sorts of question, Jericho knows. But for it to concern Natsu is something.
“I’m not expecting. Should I? Someone going to want my instrument?” The Baronet smiles. The news that Nat’s protege keeps asking about her romantic connections makes him sigh a bit. “I’d say that she’d grow out of it but the truth is your probably something of a romantic her-”
The comm device on Jericho’s desk beeps and he frowns as he looks it over. “Gabrielle’s coming up. And she’s asking for you. Specifically.”
“No. I thought maybe you’d like to display the breadth of your skills. I just hope that no one expects to me to – you know, a change in roles and all.” She’s still teasing.
“A romantic hmmm? I wish I could disabuse of her of that notion. There was little romance in many of my … conquests.” Her lilac shaded eyes hold Jericho’s for the moment “I’m not sure she’ll try to … find someone like that but I do worry that others might think she is my protogee in … all things.”
Her eyes follow Jericho’s as he looks at his at his desk, still leaning against him quite comfortably. “She … did? I … didn’t do anything?” She’s still teasing again, but he can’t miss the frisson of concern that goes through her. Gabrielle doesn’t overly like her brothers Chosen.
“Are you expecting to have to duel for me?” Jericho teases lightly. He’s looking over something that Gabrielle sent up to him. It’s a mass of cryptographic code that he’s not entirely sure he understands but he knows when his sister is excited about something. That’s usually the point where she stops making sense for a little bit.
“Perhaps I should give Matthew some saber lessons in case he has to defend his sister’s honor…” Though it would be the foolish man who insults a Duke’s daughter like that.
The door flies open and Gabrielle, well Nat might never have seen her looking wild but she does right now. Her hair is wind tossed as if she ran or rode without a helmet to get here quickly.
“Natsuki! Mist on the Rivers! Do you have it?!”
“Duel for you? Perhaps. I would you know …” Natsu smiles, the teasing easing her concern. “… for you are mine… ” She looks at the code that Jericho has and frowns, shaking her head. This is not her forte.
“Oh, I think you might need to worry about the hapless gentlemen that Elisa targets… She *has* been watching me very carefully.” Of course, Elisa doesn’t have the traits that Natsu was bred to – the charm of the elves, but there is still much she can learn.
“Gabrielle?” Natsu blinks at the dishevelled Auditor who bursts through the door. “Mist on the Rivers? Only in winter …” that’s glib and she instantly regrets it. “That’s one of the paintings I did. I’m … I … gave that to Greg.”
“We need it. It’s the key. The key to everything Greg hid is on that painting. He used it to reference your OTHER paintings in a rather clever double encryption system. I only figured it out this morning.”
“What time this morning.” Jericho says, eying his sister.
“Four thirty, dont’ change the subject. It wasn’t with his effects or I would have recovered it from his mother. Where else might he have hid it, Natsuki?”
Gabrielle is, yes… rather intense right now.
“He did what?” Natsu is actually very good at the type of work Greg had her doing, but cryptology wasn’t part of that. “A double encryption system? What … no don’t bother trying to explain.” When Gabrielle mentions how early she was up, the part-elf goes to Jericho’s desk and orders a pot of klah to be sent up.
Coffee is expensive and hard to get, but they’ve worked out a replacement that can be grown locally. It’s … not as good.
“That’s if he kept it at his townhouse.” Natsu nods. “That or Lady Davidson held out on you. I gave it to him not long after I created it.” Talking of Greg is problematic for Natsu and tries not to let show for Jericho’s sake. “I … don’t know. Let me think about. There was the hunting shack out near the western border.”
“Greg wouldn’t have worked out of his townhouse. Anything that was truly sensitive would have been held somewhere that only trusted associates and fellow Agents could access. Probably somewhere locked by magic.”
Gabrielle has made an extensive study of the Agents of the Crown and had been doing so since before she came into conflict with them last year. They are one of Dogwood’s most famous and feared intelligence services and it’s not uncommon for Auditing departments to study or even try to duplicate their methods.
What is unusual is for someone to have actually gone to trouble of testing them. Proding their networks to see how they react. To see what the agents themselves do. It’s a dangerous game but one that Gabrielle has played successfully.
“Did it have any particular meaning to either him or you, Natsuki?” Jericho asks as Gabby starts to pace.
“He did, Gabrielle. At least for some of it but most of his work was from office off the Palace. I hadn’t been there for sometime, it might be in there and it would be easy to check if it were.” Easy. To get into the palace and into the ex-spymasters office. Oh well, Natsu was rebuilding that network, she’d have to do that eventually.
“The cabin?” She nods slowly to Jericho. “It was the place where he and I ….” she doesn’t finish, Jericho should get the meaning and she’d rather not make too much of that.
Jericho quriks a brow. It’s possible that the painting could be in either of those locations then. He knows what Natsuki didn’t want to say.
“Easy? To get into the palace into an Agent’s office? Natsuki I know you’re cozy with the Crown Prince but are you absolutely sure about that?”
Jericho snorts. “The prince can get a lot of things done, I understand.”
“Yes but the Agents don’t answer to him. They answer to his father. How fond is the king of you?”
Thaaaaats a good question.
Natsuki’s quiet for a long moment, there’s a lot tied up with Greg and it takes her time to process it. “Fairly sure. It will take some doing but Kai and I have done some crazy things…” That’s an admission. Just how long has Natsu known Kai and what sort of things have they done?
“The King?” That’s not a question that Natsu actually wants to answer. Jericho //knows// that from their link. Gabrielle can tell – she’s perceptive and for once, Natsu’s composure isn’t solid. “Uh. Somewhat fond. But after Kai and I dyed his favourite spaniel green and purple, he said he didn’t want to see me in the palace again.”
“Hey I know that dog, what ever happened to it?” That Jericho has at least been in the palace and that shouldn’t be surprising. That he has seen the king’s favorite dog? Well the mutt has the run of the place so…
“See if you and Kai can work your magic. Was there anything else Gabrielle?”
“Mmmm? Oh yes. Natsuki I need some of your blood. On, like, a handkerchief or something. Don’t need much.”
Jericho quirks a brow at his sister.
“It took months for the dye to wash out.” Natsu looks at Jericho and for the moment he might catch flashes of a mischevious young teen in her look. “I’ll see what Kai can do.” It might get them hauled before the King if they’re caught, but Natsu’s sure he’s forgiven her for … everything.
“My blood?” the part elf pauses and gives Gabrielle a serious look. “What type of research requires me blood, Gabrielle? Blood has power and Grandmama always said to never give it freely …” She wants to to know more. She //probably// won’t say no but the request seems to have found one of Natsu’s few boundaries.
“Yes. Your blood. Something came up and I need a sample to do some research on your lineage.”
That makes Jericho frown. “You know what her lineage is.”
“We know on one side, for a little bit. Humor me brother. How about it Natsuki? Just a drop or so will do.”
It’s dangerous but… surely Gabrielle wouldn’t take it to a witch or anything like that would she?
“What came up, Gabrielle?” Natsu pushes. Neither of the siblings can fault her for that. What the part elf doesn’t ask is what Gabrielle had been looking into for something to come up in the first place. “And I’ll point out, Gabrielle, that you’ve not asked my family.” It has to her father that Gabrielle’s found the anomaly with.
Her father, that the part-elf barely knew.
There’s a quiet grace about Natsuki as she looks at Gabrielle. She’s a little hurt that the younger woman hasn’t divulged much but is asking for much. Much in Natsuki’s opinion, at least.
“You can have it, Gabrielle. But I expect a full explanation regardless of what you find.” She knows the other woman doesn’t like her, she should have expected this.
“Your family is Lady Zelda and she’s never around.” Gabrielle makes a face. “And I have no idea where your other relatives live. Nor do I really want to visit. I’ll let you know what I find if it turns out to be anything. It might not. If you please?” She hands over a small spring loaded lancet of the type used to get small blood samples at Queen’s hospital.
Jericho looks at his sister and then nods. She’s playing this one close to the vest but he trusts her. Well… he would, wouldn’t he?
“You could ask me…” Natsu says quietly taking the lancet and pricking her finger, dabbing on the kerchief that was also given. She’s so not happy and Jericho can tell that.
Handing over the sample she gives Gabrielle a searching look. “I’ll be going now. There’s klah on the way up for you, if you want it. I’ve arrangements to make.” Jericho gets a kiss on the cheek before she turns to go.
Jericho sighs and gives Gabrielle a look as he kisses Nat on the cheek back. “We’ve got some planning to do this evening. I’ll come find you.” He murmur.
He’ll probably apologise for his sister too. Jericho knows she’s being… well, herself. The two of them get along well but there’s been tension with Natsuki for a long time. This won’t help. Hopefully it’ll be worth it.
“I know. I’ll see you at dinner.” Natsu murmurs, leaving the room with her head high. It’s not the first time she’s left their presence like this and it probably won’t be the last.
And she won’t hear of him apologising for his sister. This just higlights to Natsu just how much work she has to do and she worries, it will never be enough.
But for now, she’s things to do. Maybe what Gabrielle has, will be worth it.