Title: Intervention
Time Period: January 17, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Fogg does his duty, Masque does his.

Somewhere (or when) round 8 or 9 in the AM, Algernon Fogg has one final stop to make before he turns in and attempts to sleep. The Dovetail looks the same as it ever does — still intact, unburned, if quieter now than it tends to be deeper into the day. Still bulked against the morning chill in the black of his coat and stinking of horse sweat, he holds the door for another client on his way out and immediately breathes a sigh of relief at the blast of warmer air there to greet him.

Coat and hat retained — he doesn't intend for this to be a long visit — he tracks his way down the hall on his way to the lounge. On his way he crosses paths with an unfamiliar denizen of the house; he asks her about 'Mariah.' She points. Kind of. Gestures, anyway. Rolls her eyes. Turns to lead. Too early in the morning to bother with being polite.

Fogg follows.

Outside, a fresh crust of snow glitters clean in the white morning light, dusted bright in Forge's wake as the heavy cat propels himself up the trunk of a nearby pine. Hooked talons scrape and scuff quiet, one, two and three bounds up over bark already grooved by frequent use, until he's able to leap and land silent on the Dovetail's snowy roof.

Below, a thin line of white powder sifts unsettled across the roof's edge to scatter itself against the thicker stuff on the ground.

He's pointed in the general direction of the kitchens, where Mariah is busy waiting on a kettle that sits on the stove. It'll boil eventually, and she leans against a nearby table in the interim. It is, apparently, too early to be dressed properly, as the woman is standing in a thin robe and bare feet, with her hair hanging loose around her shoulders. She's got priorities. Coffee appears to be one of them.

When Algernon comes into view, she doesn't straighten up or attempt to be more modest, but she does get a curious look about her. She doesn't forget a face, after all. "I do hope you haven't come for breakfast," she greets, wryly, "I'm afraid it'll be a while before the house is roused enough for that."

But outdoors, where the snow trickles down from the roof and hits ground, a nose is the first thing to appear from under the building, followed by the rest of a peculiar badger that seems to like hanging around the house.

Masque peers upwards, curiously — suspiciously, for just a few moments before he opts to go exploring. He's gotten pretty good at getting around the Dovetail, and up to the roof is no exception.

Algernon takes note of thin robe and bare feet with a glance that doesn't linger for more than a second. His own priorities lie in getting in and out as quickly and smoothly as possible (that's what she said) and he looks more or less exhausted besides, eyes shadowed and posture tired about the edges.

"No, not today."

His escort's already abandoned him, leaving him to fend for himself in the doorway of an unfamiliar kitchen. "Mariah, I presume?" This is awkward, suddenly, as he only just realizes exactly what — it is. That he is doing. He hesitates accordingly, but not long enough for her to answer. "My name is Algernon; I'm a client of Luna's. I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds, but. She mentioned that you were friends." He places wary emphasis on the word, evidently unsure of the likelihood that Mariah has the same definition of their supposed relationship.

Up on the rooftop Forge slinks low to the snow, pausing often to touch his nose to this bit of pine litter or that exposed tile. Naturally cautious. Wary of the human stink that billows from every thin crack in the exterior.

"I know who you are, Mister Fogg," Mariah says as she steps away from the table, but only far enough to slide out a chair. "Care to sit?" The chair isn't for him, despite the offer, since she slides down into this one herself.

"Luna mentioned correctly," she says with a nod, "And you haven't overstepped any bounds so far. What can I do for you?" That is, however, the sort of question that invites it. Overstepping bounds, that is.

Masque clamors up onto the roof. It's no graceful leap, but rather a clumsy event before he starts trundling over the roof tiles, sniffing out whatever's up here. He's not being quiet about it, and each step his clawed feet make over the roof announces his approach.

A tip of Algernon's head stands in for a polite no thank you, as sitting implies that he is open to discussion. Perhaps over coffee.

And he isn't.

Confirmation of the 'friend' title earns her another inspection, meanwhile, calculating for what that might mean. Is she insane too?

Probably, Forge opines from his navigation of the roof.

Fogg runs his tongue across his teeth.

"Are you aware that she nearly burned down the building while passed out unconscious in her room recently?" As far as questions go, this one could be posed more aggressively, with undertones of accusation or contempt. Instead he asks as a matter of curiosity, sort of did you see in the paper about it. Granted, given the subject matter, if they really are friends, the scenario he's asking after should be far from shocking.

A bird lands and chitters on a peak of the roof — twee and yellow-tinted. A finch, perhaps. Forge stiffens and narrows fiery eyes after it, instantly suspicious, shoulders pushed lower still to the snow, as if his grizzled hide has any hope of blending against all the white. It's the bird that causes him to miss the quieter beginnings of Masque's approach, and it's the bird that has him cornered to the tune of snuffling claws raking round hot on his heels. Whiskers twitch, banded tail swishes and as the hawfinch bustles away, it's replaced by another standing plainly against a thatch of bare roof.

And it does seem to be the opposite of shocking, as Mariah's reaction is more a frown of concern than a gasp of surprise. "I didn't know you were aware," she eventually says as she leans back in her chair. It's a comment that leaves the way open if he has more to say, but doesn't add terribly much. It's possible she sees it as Dovetail business. Or Luna's business.

As Masque follows his trail along the roof, snuffling a bit here and there before he comes upon… nothing he expected to find. Although it should be less surprising to see a bird on a roof. He looks around a bit before setting his sights on that finch.

You're not fooling anyone, he notes, but in a fashion that implies he's saying that more as a test than a real certainty.

Well. He is. Aware. And now distracted — the scoped focus of his stare fuzzes for a breath or so and he shifts his weight slowly over onto one side.

Elaboration is not forthcoming, is the short of it.

"I don't think," he's slow to say, "she's deliberately suicidal. However," however, "left to her own devices in her current state of unbalance …I'm disinclined to underestimate her predisposition for accidental death."

Forge the finch is still where he stands, save for an unenthusiastically stupid hop hop in response that would likely diguise him effectively if not for the fact that his patch of roof is at the end of a winding set of fresh feline tracks. The brilliant button orange of one eye turns to drill into Masque, pupil as flat black as a shark's. Thin scarring is marked featherless and grey at the little bird's throat and at one side.


"Check-ins at night might prevent a reoccurance. If you can find the time."

"I'll look after her," Mariah says, and she even sounds more friendly there. Now that the reason behind his question is out and isn't for gossiping purposes. Or worse. "If I can help it at all, nothing damaging will happen to her."

She doesn't speak up about the other girls of the house, no mention of them all banding together to help their sister-in-arms, of sorts, but she is sincere about her own determination, at least.

Up on the roof, Masque takes a few — more careful now — steps toward the bird. Not to attack it, but rather to get a closer inspection. And, if it doesn't simply fly off, it may get a nose nudged against it. Curious.

Noooo, the finch is not interested in being prodded or even advanced upon — it hops back and aside and fluffs and flutters and finally takes wing only to land again nearby. Where its predacessor perched moments ago, on a peak of roof less accessible to badgers, where it can peer down its beak after undesired company in stony silence.

"Alright," says Algernon to Mariah and the otherwise empty kitchen, never having taken more than that initial step inside and already leaning subtly in the direction of retreat. Business addressed. "Thank you."

The bird moves, but doesn't fly off entirely, and Masque just hunkers down against the roof. Staring. He's got his eye on you, bird.

"You're welcome. And… thank you as well. For your concern." It's that notion that brings a smile to her face, and one that is more friendly than alluring. Perhaps it's too early for alluring. But she seems to take it all for the goodbye its meant as, since she stands and turns to get back to her own business. Which, at this moment, is the coffee. Not so much the other thing.

Concern is a strong word — one that doesn't sit all that comfortably with the perceived brevity of Fogg's intervention. His brows twitch to touch on protest he doesn't voice. Defensive resistance to the term implies guilt.

"Just fulfilling my duties," is what he goes with instead, chops edged around the forced line of a smile. "She might have killed everyone here. Enjoy the rest of your day."

And on that cheerful note, he turns to go.

Far above, Forge remains, staring at the badger that is staring at him. Pokerfaced, beady-eyed. He puffs his feathers.


Mariah lifts an eyebrow, less at his words and more the idea that he took the time to stop and say them. "Hmm. You as well," she replies dryly. She needs interventions to happen after coffee, perhaps.

Masque watches for a little while longer, but he is eventually the one to break the staring match. In fact, he slinks down off the roof and all. Not to stop paying attention, but rather to watch the bird and the house from a more badger-friendly location. He may be a touch protective of the place. Or at least, someone inside of it.

A tip of hand to hat on Fogg's way out marks his exit.

As for Forge — he remains huddled in a fluffy wad on the roof for upwards of an hour, irritable. Hardly moving, even, until he manages to convince himself that the coast is clear enough to take off in a bustle to arrow for the treeline.

And once the bird moves, Masque skitters out of his hiding place and takes off for the trees as well. It may not be the best place to go bird hunting, in a bunch of trees, but by golly, he's going to try.

He clearly needs a hobby.