At an End

Title: At an End
Time Period: August 11, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: "Algernon" calls in a favour.

Night has fallen in its pitchy entirety by the time Algernon has rounded off the end of his shift, scrubbed his wounds clean and retreated away from sulphurous lights into the woods. There isn't much of a moon and more than once he spooks a doe out of her bedding off the beaten trail. Further ahead, a howl rises from the forest floor, unfamiliar to his ears.

She said she'd know it.

Once he's far enough to feel confident he won't be seen and that all of the spaces between trees are filled with more trees, he sets his torch alight. From there it isn't far at all to a fire pit he's already dug and stones he's already placed. His torch is touched to dry wood he's already collected.

Whatever may be said about him now and in days to come, no one will be able to argue that he isn't organized.

The fire has been blazing for the better part of an hour before Forge's call is answered. A twig snaps somewhere off to Algernon's left, and the whisper of cloth rubbing over soft leather rises above the crackling flames. Eilin's silhouette appears a moment later, unmistakable in its smallness and the sharp lines of her face illuminated by the firelight as soon as she steps into its glow on the opposite side of the pit.

She wears her pelt draped across her shoulders like a pale cloak, fur rippling in the breeze. Eilin squats down by the fire and rests her arms over her knees and her weight on the front of her feet.

If Algernon was expecting someone of greater stature or fancier aspect, it doesn't show on his face. The hand he'd set to his revolver eases into more of a rest once he's had a decent look, wariness waning without vanishing entirely. For his part he is tall and sharply dressed for a clandestine meeting in the forest, cut broad through the shoulders and trim in the waist. Bandaging shows crisp white past the cuff of his right sleeve.

She's seen him before.

And Forge, of course. He ghosts out of the brush on firelight's bare edge and then back in, flashing eyes and ringed tail.

"Thank you for coming," says Fogg, after silence has had a moment to settle. "My name is Ivan."

"Ivan," Eilin repeats around a thin smile. She glances in the direction Forge disappeared without moving her head, and that she doesn't redirect her eyes back to him when she speaks is probably a good indication that she didn't come all this way alone.

Despite appearances. "Wartooth calls me Ylva," she says, raising a hand to scrub at her jaw with the back of her knuckles. "You will call me Eilin." She looks back at him, then, studying his clothes from beneath her lashes and making no effort to disguise her interest as she does. "What can I do for you and the little cat?"

"My time in Dornie is nearing an end," says Ivan, whose own interest has little to do with curiosity. More of a practical examination. Meanwhile his accent is distinctly English and his diction has a methodical pace to it. Too terse for total neutrality. "Suspicions are escalating. I am soon to be 'found out.'"

Because of a bullet he didn't fire. Irritation overtakes him briefly, black in his eyes, but there is more to it than that and he's allowing his ass to show besides. He works gnawing tension out through a flex at his jaw and then his fist. In through his nose, out through his mouth.

His waistcoat was finely tailored and still is for all that its age has begun to show. Repairs are evident at one shoulder and down the same flank. The shirt beneath it isn't as white as it might have been a year ago. So it goes.

"I believe I will have the opportunity to fulfil one last objective. Beyond that," and barring his demise, he acknowledges with a pause, "if my efforts are to continue I will require an alternative living arrangement."

Eilin's eyes are too cold to show much sympathy, but it's there if he chooses to look for it. At the very least, she understands his frustration. Her thumb follows the curve of her jaw and rests its nail's edge on her chin as she considers the request.

She has a scar on her left breast where Duncan Rowntree's bullet punched through her leather armor and grazed her heart - her reward for trusting the word of someone from Dornie. And yet this man's accent does not belong to the settlement that lies beyond the forest, and his manner of dress is distinctly different than most of those who live within its borders.

Still, it is with some reluctance that she tucks her chin into a nod. "For the little cat," she concedes.

"Forge has been in contact with you at my behest," dry, there, and quick to cut away at any insinuation or misconception otherwise, Ivan glances after the space his little cat vanished into. "We are as one. But." But, he draws himself into a restless pair of steps aside, "He would like you to know that he appreciates your confidence in spite of my ostentation."

He sinks into a sit on an overturned trunk there, too far from the fire to be entirely companionable. Better at conversation when he isn't tired and disappointed. And preoccupied.

"I would like to see the house of Rowntree burn," he states plainly, once he's had a moment to settle. "And the Rosses not far behind."

"Fire spreads when the wind blows," says Eilin, and she holds her hand against the flames as if to warm it. Dirt forms dark crescents under her nails, and although her fingers are rough and callused, they are also long and slender, feminine in ways that her face is not - even with the kohl to highlight her eyes and accent their lashes.

"If you are not careful with this thing, it will consume all that it touches." She rotates her hand, continuing to watch him through the haze created by the heat emanating from the pit. "Dornie needs leadership. Who will you put in their place?"

"Then it will spread," Ivan replies without heat or hesitation. Merely a leaden kind of weight. Cement shoes for the sentiment.

"It's my understanding that Edmund is the least psychopathic of the Rowntree brood. He is also the least ambitious. While I have no intention of installing 'replacements' I could certainly be persuaded to leave him alive." Which is generous, he thinks. Under the circumstances.

"Cordelia Ross is well-intentioned and has a level head. I imagine she must have some steel to her spine as well, given how well she's faired in the wake of recent events." Recent kidnapping events, he means. Clean of accusation, for all that he wagers to look her over more intently.

"The community is not so large that it is at risk of armageddon in a power vacuum. Humanity is resilient."

Eilin seems satisfied with Ivan's answer, if only because he has not listed Jorn's name among the possible contenders. "She is young," she says of Cordelia, "and will need guidance." Her brows lift, arching in place of a suggestion that goes unspoken. If Ivan succeeds, it might be wise for him to stick around and provide what Eilin implies that Cordelia lacks.

"When your last objective is fulfilled," and her tone reminds him that these are his words, not hers, "send the little cat to seek me, and I will take you home. We will speak more of this if you live."

Cordelia is young. And she will need guidance. Ivan tilts a brows back at her in ambiguous agreement before he pushes back to his feet. There is the matter of her not being all that keen on hearing his advice after he's cut a swathe through her immediate ancestry. Anyway.

He already has another candidate in mind.

One whose name he's so far been careful not to mention.

Her prompt about that last detail is soaked with a gruff exhalation. Not quite apologetic for having gotten ahead of himself. This is the first opportunity in over a year he has had to vent at the hatred bolted down beneath his rib cage.

It's been a small relief to touch on it any which way.

"Yes," he agrees more formally after a beat taken to recollect himself. "If."

"Do try." To live. "I like the little cat," Eilin says. "Maybe I like you, too." She rises lithely from her crouch, pine needles flaking off her pants, and rubs her hands together to generate the heat needed to keep her palms warm now that she's moving away from the fire. Her boots make little sound on the forest floor - either the snapping twig was a fluke, or a way of announcing her arrival.

"My village is a day's journey on horseback. Longer by foot. It is better if I stay in the forest until you have need of my help. Also." While she's thinking about it— "There is a necklace. I asked the hedge wizard's bird to retrieve it for me, but she failed. If you find yourself on Eilean Donan with the opportunity…"

"I have a horse." Nothing more on the subject of his death.

He'll have plenty of time to think on that once he's in bed.

"And I will speak to Fletcher about the necklace." If he seems amenable.

Eilin moves away and Ivan remains, eyes set back on the fire. It's late. And a long walk back to the inn. He'll put it out after he's had a smoke. "Keep safe," is the best he can offer in farewell. Maulings to a minimum.

"You as well, Ivan." On the firelight's periphery, Eilin turns, takes a step into the black and is gone, leaving only the swaying branch of a sapling behind as evidence that she as ever there in the first place.