A Disturbance in the Brush

Title: A Disturbance in the Brush
Time Period: July 16, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: In which two militiamen come across something distressing while on patrol and do not do a damn thing about it.

Dawn patrol is a task favored by few and disseminated among the many, only slightly less preferable than the overnight shift that precedes it. Running a long cover from one to the other in the uncomfortable July heat, Algernon's down to waistcoat and shirt in the saddle, outer layers shed hours ago. Even his hat has been packed out of sight — left behind in the midst of his last break. Also hours ago.

He rides in silence now, as he is wont to do, great black horse and rolled sleeves and boots tracking along at a sedate pace. Eilean Donan looms nearby in the rosy morning light, alternately ominous and serene in accordance with ones individual levels of optimism and/or ignorance.

For his part, Algernon hardly glances at it. He's seen it every time he's taken this path and has yet to come across anything more impressive than a wayward doe. Certainly no giant spiders, or trolls, or … alligators. Which reminds him:

"Have you heard anything of Miss Owens' condition?"

No giant bats, either, thank the gods. Everytime Jorn sees one of the little buggers, he remembers that ugly mug on the one from Liverpool. Kuu paces alongside Dusty, her mane sheared short, standing on end, bristly and striped down the spine. A portion of her forelock remains, and she flips it out of her eye with a shake of her nose in the air. She is shorter by a bit, but at least her rider makes up for it. Jorn's cloak is gathered behind him, saddled, of a sort, just behind him.

"She will be alright, with rest and medicine." Jorn answers after a moment of keen silence, lifting one hand from the reins to smooth back his hair, errant by a breeze. "It was getting her back that took it out of her, I think. We had to keep her awake for days. It was terrible." For Luna, and for her hosts, as well as her band. The northman clears his throat, looking out over the relatively calm water.

"I do not envy Duncan." Jorn cracks a smile over at Algernon. If he thought keeping her awake was awful… getting to her recover- well. His expectations are there, in the form of a small laugh.

Her plan for escape had been going well. Constance didn't have a problem getting out of the castle, and while she had gone just a bit further without having been caught, she'd spotted the two men on the road. So with a quick dash to the nearby bushes, Constance concealed herself. There was only one fault to her plan.

As it turns out, spears are not as small and easily concealed as sixteen-year-old girls.

Not one to have abandoned her spear, it's a lot of work Constance is going through to work the spear into the bushes, maneuvering it and trying not to rustle the bushes too much. Hopefully the two will only think it a rabbit or some other small creature.

"Nor do I," Algernon confesses with an arch of his brows that is too earnest to be borne of anything but genuine empathy. However atrophied.

They ride on.

Ahead there is a subtle rustling in the bushes consistent with a rabbit the size of a young person with a spear that Mister Fogg eyes with some resignation. Having hoped to conclude his work day without the inconvenience of an arrest, he glances aside at Jorn as if to measure his inclination towards more traditional brutality and ultimately declines to mention it. Oh well.

"What ho," he says instead, dry as bone. Also quite loudly. "A disturbance in the brush. Probably a rabbit," he tells Jorn. "Or some other small creature."

Jorn has a similarly peeved expression about him, wrists crossed at the horn of the saddle, eyes going from the path and rolling back up to look at Algernon. His mouth is down-turned at both corners, though his brow lifts. Whoever it is, they are, perhaps, trying too hard- or at least not hard enough for this pair, experienced as they are. Jorn appears less inclined towards being ham-handed, and is silent while Algernon segues into speech.

"I feel peckish. Do you think I can shoot it from here? Might make a nice breakfast…" The nord is considerably more emotionally invested in his act than the other man is, insofar as his tone is far less dry and more honest. He does feel a little hungry, eating things hiding in bushes notwithstanding.

Constance almost cringes. Bad acting! At least Jorn does a convincing job. At least enough of one that she's momentarily worried that he might just do something regretful. "Not everything in the woods is good for eating," she says, loudly. The girl, however, does not extract herself from the foliage, but does keep a tight grip on her spear. Not because she's going to be threatening, but because it's a comfort and she doesn't want there to be any chance of it being forcibly removed from her.


It's female.

Having had limited contact with Constance in a conscious state, Algernon does not show any sign of recognition.

Instead he sits back somewhat in his saddle, leather creaking amidst the chatter of little birds peeping awake here and there. "Well." He says. Considering semantics to himself, mustache and chops set all into grim angles while he mulls it over. "I suppose that depends upon whether or not you're a bear."

"…Only in battle." The other man hazards, considering the voice from the bushes. "All claws and teeth, you know…" Where Algernon sits back, Jorn leans forward in his saddle, patting one hand over his horse's neck. He casts a look over his shoulder, then off towards the castle; half expecting something to turn up looking for this very incident.

"What are you doing, down there? Should have climbed a tree, as little bears do…"

"Bears are busy riding horses."

There is, of course, one bear present, but it's not in the bushes. Still not certain if she wants to crawl out, Constance clears her throat a little. "Climbing a tree is too hard with a spear," she points out. "Though next time I'll find a better hiding place, thank you." She clears her throat again. "So, uh, how goes that patrol…?" Change of topic, much?

"Very well, so far. Thank you for asking," says Algernon, fluidly Pavlovian. Dusty's set to lipping at a weedy stalk jutting out of the brush, corrected with a bump of pressure at his heel. Then a step back, with a draw on the reins to match. "I am Algernon Fogg of Dornie's Militia. On the authority of Duncan Rowntree," this sounds rehearsed, "I request that you emerge from the brush and identify yourself. Sans spear."

"There was once a man who talked to a bush. Was on fire, spoke with the voice of God, or something like that. Somehow that didn't seem crazy to everyone else…" Jorn imparts this gem without so much as a concern for where it came from, or true concern for Algernon's demands for the little bear to leave her bushes behind. He knows who it is, of course- he'll let Algernon figure it out. Jorn just hates talking to the plant instead, which is why he had such an anecdote.

"That sounds memorized." Captain Obvious Honesty. "More drama next time. Right?" For bush, or rather, hopefully, the girl coming out of said bush.

"I would prefer not to leave my comfortable habitat, but…" Constance, quite reluctantly, pulls herself out of the bushes, picking leaves and bits of things off of her hair. She does, however, pick up the spear, but she holds it more in the way of a walking stick than a weapon. "I'd prefer if we didn't go around throwing my father's name around. I think he secretly knows when he's being talked about or plotted against."

The young blonde takes a moment to look between the two. "Yes, next time don't sound as if you're used to it. More vigor! Conviction!"

Algernon's jaw juts slowly out on its hinge, almost imperceptible up to a slow breath he has to push out through the offset of his teeth.

The sigh does little to abate the way he's puffed up a bit rigid at their dual assessments of his delivery. Evidently he's under the impression that tangible vexation is less of an encouragement than direct acknowledgment. Because — OF THEIR OPINIONS — he says nothing.

"For what is your spear intended?" he inquires instead. After a flat beat. "Werewolves? Arcane sorcerers visiting from lands unknown? Or your father, when he finds you."

Jorn happens to think that Algernon may be partly made of conviction. If it was a substitute for blood and bone and meat, in any case. Only teasing. He makes no new jibes on Algernon's recitals, but there is a laugh upon his last roving search on what the spear is for.

"All three, isn't it?"

Constance rolls her eyes. "I'm not about to stab my father. I may be frustrated with him, but it does not mean that I'm going to go about injuring or murdering him." She looks at the spear. "It's good luck. So I keep it with me. And in case I need to scare something off. Like a bear. Or a dragon." She looks between the two.

"Are you planning on turning me in?"

"…Of course," says Fogg, after a long beat spent searching Constance's face a little too critically. Searching — to see if she is serious. "Bears and dragons."

The latter echoed for Jorn's benefit, in the event he didn't hear the first time, he shifts along with a restless roll of equine muscle beneath him, weight turned from one side to the other.

"Should we?" he asks her at length. Intentions inscrutable. "A dragon was sighted south of the settlement last week. There is a mysterious boat docked in our harbour, home to potentially terse diplomatic relations."

While making a show of looking over his shoulder in as exaggerated a gesture as he can manage, Jorn listens to both Constance and her interrogation by Algernon; he looks back with a vague smile, taking a breath inward and speaking up again.

"Dragons have fire. Bats don't." A simple reply, though serious and more importantly, true. He shifts in the saddle. "You haven't done anything illegal, have you? I'm not your babysitter, otherwise…"

Constance smiles, slowly. "Last I checked, there was no law in Dornie that says you can't leave your home. Or hide in a bush. Or carry a spear. So… I would say that no laws have been broken and there's no reason for anything official to occur." She looks between the two. "I'm sure two fine, upstanding gentlemen as yourselves have better things to do anyways."

She takes a moment to consider the prospect of fire-breathing, making sure her spear is still tightly gripped in hand. No, she's not about to let that go. "I don't think I'll be hunting any dragons. Maybe a troll."

"In this case the absence of reason is precisely the reason we are officials to occur," Algernon informs at a metered drone — already convinced that it isn't worth the trouble all the same. He's nudging his horse along into an advance even as he speaks, shaggy hocks picking their way round Rowntree as they go.

"It's man more than anything that you should fear in your position," he warns, anticipating that Jorn will follow, an itch at his collar traced after in the absence of a tie to keep it firmly closed. "The only animal with ambition."

Kuu seems more interested than the other horse, and as Jorn takes her a couple steps forward, she tilts her nose at Constance. Algernon's words pick at Jorn, even if Constance does have a spear.

"If you feel like you can finish this patrol, I can stay with her." Not, take her home, but just- make sure there are no shenanigans. "And if she'll have me." He is torn, between finishing the dawn walk, and making sure Constance does not get into too much trouble. As a friend, not a babysitter. Honest.

"I'm well aware of the danger of men, believe me. My father has seen more than fit to instruct me on these points multiple times," Constance points out, but she frowns slightly. One hand reaches up to pet Kuu on the nose gently with her free hand, but she looks between the two patrolees with a slightly annoyed look.

"Look, we don't need to pretend here. We all know why I'm here. The point really is that I simply don't want to be in there," she says, gesturing to the castle, "so you don't need to worry about me chasing down things. I'm not trying to go on an adventure, this is a pointed act of rebellion, that is all. So you don't have to stay with me."

"Well, that's how fathers are, you know. Always going on about the well-being of their progeny. Their safety. Reality. Mortality." Already unhurried pace reined in slower still, Algernon half turns back to the pair of them, ready to be on about his business regardless of where Jorn elects to spend the remainder of his morning. A look tells him as much. He is washing his hands.

"They forget that all children your age are experts on invulnerability and acceptable risk."

"I'm your friend, aren't I?" A gentle reminder from Jorn on this point- he isn't crowding her on purpose. Kuu allows herself to get a pat before Jorn presses his heels and she moves past Constance, after Dusty. "Don't do anything that Cordelia wouldn't do." That's a good instruction, right? For the most part. Better yet, don't do anything Luna wouldn't do. But that would be no fun at all, would it?

"If you need anything, get to someone." Cordelia, Jorn, Peter, if he's out. People she likes. Generally. Only if she gets in a pickle.

Constance nods. Algernon is ignored, after all, he just referred to her as a child which makes him just as bad as her father in her book. Jorn is nodded at with a small smile. "Thank you. It's… very much appreciated. Believe me, I think even Cordelia would find this outing tame. And do feel free to forget you saw me, if anyone asks, alright? I'll make it up to you later or something."

There is a fair bit that Luna would do that Algernon would advise against, so. Jorn made the right choice the first go round.

Dusty slows enough on his own for Kuu to match pace without effort, more companionable than his rider by any measure. He is unhappy with leaving her there alone along the path, perhaps, eyes fixed flatly forward and shoulders set. Quiet.

Patience doesn't come as naturally as it used to at five in the morning.