Présage et Passant

Title: Présage et Passant
Time Period: June 30, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Flint, with little else to do and nowhere else to go, meets d'Sadonne, who tells him whatever else he does he has nowhere else to go. C'est très utile, non?

The beach by the border of the castle grounds is a wide angle expanse of unbroken grey. Grey sky over grey gravel and grey water. Rain scatters delicate rings across the surface, leaden waves rolling into a sluggish froth at the shoreline.

Gulls wheel white-bellied on the wind, cries few and far between. Not much to talk about.

Wet sand and gravel slithers coarse under the tread of Deckard’s boots, marking his approach from a distance. One’s come untied and he hasn’t bothered to fix it, blue hoodie ticking out an irregular beat to the drizzle against his shoulders. The otherwise grey scruff of his head is uncovered, face long and hair bristled damp.

He doesn’t appear to be armed and he’s as alone as a man gets, pace unhurried and destination uncertain. There’s a lot of beach.

The point he decides to stop at is arbitrary save maybe for its nakedness. No trees to climb or garbage to throw.

In the absence of any good ideas, might as well go with a bad one.

The little silk message specified a place, but no time. Still, he need barely wait at all. When she does arrive, Isabelle d'Sadonne doesn't look particularly hurried, and the stretch of sand, looking murky in the low light and pockmarked with droplets, gives them both plenty of warning.

She's a small figure at first, a little phosphorus-headed match against a dark backdrop of trees as she emerges from the Rowntree estate and makes her way towards the border line, using the water's edge as her guide. Her dress is a loose wrap of white wool, wound about her with a Hellenistic simplicity. She's barefoot, and she holds her arms up around herself to prevent the hem from blemishing her footprints, and perhaps to give herself a little more shelter against the miserable Scottish weather.

When she gets closer, he can see her hair is done up in braids. So no needles, at least.

"Je vous remercie de me recontrer, mon cher," she says, when she is just close enough not to to have to raise her voice - that she needs to make sure the unintelligible is clearly heard is likely some token of vanity, "I must ask- the reason you came: are you curious about the omen, or are you curious-" and to speak of sin is to see it, as she sets a hand to her chest in self designation, "de moi?

"You remember nothing, this is true? This is what is said."

Flint watches her all the way in once he's filtered her out from the wind and the drizzle and the trees, stare locked at a wary disconnect.

What else is there for him to do? Having received her request, mulled it over and complied under his own power, he's acknowledged an interest that seems stupid to refute now. Even if she did force him in and out of his own skin before his landlord and threaten him with silver hair pins.

Which he does look for, once he's finished with the dress. He tips his chin down a shade once she's close, otherwise unmoved. French breaks over him the way water breaks over his stolen coat.

"What do you want?"

"I already said, to help you," d'Sadonne says, "but you will not believe me, because you do not trust."

She gives that particularly irritating Gallic shrug, arms parting so her wrists can turn to heaven, helpless. "I try not to be hurt by this, so I believe you, that you remember nothing."

"I did not know this when I saw you there, in the old witch's house-" d'Sadonne confesses, to the sluggish lap of the waves, "you see why I wanted to hurt you a little, non? I am sorry-" she turns a smile towards him, as if that would be enough for forgiveness, along with, "the choleric temper is ma bȇte noire."

"But what can I do, now? Wisdom says I act in good faith, and show you my trust, for your trust. I am here, you as well-" she extends a hand towards him, palm upraised, "can we mend things?"

"I don't," Flint agrees too swiftly on the subject of trust.

There's tension in the flat angles around his face, at odds with the undead apathy tilted into his shoulders when he looks her over again. A step taken forward brings him in a little too close — deliberate pressure applied with a squint after any ground she's ready to give. Tick, tick. Tick. Rain prattles off the crooked flag of his jacket.

The sideways inspection he tilts after her extended wrist is likely in search of scarring.

He doesn't expect to find any.

"What if I don't need help."

Maybe he has trouble processing more than one question at a time.

Her wrist is unblemished. No annal of torment is written there. Indeed, for all her claims to being choleric, her mood seems quite sanguine.

"Mes dieux!" d'Sadonne laughs, "everyone needs help. We do not learn to eat alone, nor walk, nor speak, nor fuck."

d'Sadonne delivers the string of plosives with evident relish, most of all the last with its obscene opening fricative.

"Going mad and dying - these can be done alone, but even so… both much improved with some company sympathique."

Her hand remains outstretched this long, but falls after this final word. She clasps her elbows.

"Tell me of your omen. The owl and the serpent- there was more, oui?" An expert, she.

"The snake became a dog," says Flint, "and the dog became a cat." There's an anomalous, almost impatient indifference to his saying so, any thought for how delusional he must sound plainly absent. He knows what he saw. If she asked about the weather, he'd answer the same way.

It's raining.

For a moment he stands in silence amidst the pitter and patter, rigid with ill-concealed frustration. Why is she so happy? Ropy muscle winches into knots between his shoulder blades. The harder he looks at her, the more he forgets to breathe.

"What you're saying doesn't make any sense."

"Mais non," d'Sadonna counters, her sidelong glare withering for the moment it lasts, "you are not making sense of what I say."

The rain feeds the rising tide. d'Sadonne's toes are tickled by a particularly daring rush of surf.

"An owl in daylight- Athena's animal at Apollo's hour. We know this is an omen- Apollo is the oracle's god. But one demanding wisdom, which is Athena's. Did you act with wisdom?"

She uses her ring finger to brush aside a stray lock of hair, broken loose from her braids and rain-plastered to her forehead.

"A serpent- this is Hermes' creature, it twines around his stave, le caducée. He guides souls on their travels- but death is a journey, too. To where are you headed?"

A pause here, a - perhaps needless - look to see if he is following, if any sense is yet forming. She seems to expect something.

"A dog- ah but that is the constant companion of Hecate triformis! Always when she is near, there is barking and howls- the hunt. Did the beast run with you, or run you down?"

Question after question, accumulating, like steps on a pyramid or the stones on a cairn.

"And cats are always bad luck- unless you can come to an accord with them," her lips twist into a smile, identical to that first, that tight curl of wire, "or unless you are Égyptien."

Flint tries hard to follow, eyes checking quick after hers in search of context clues. A hint. Anything. An omen about where he's headed. And a beast.

Naturally.

He tries.

But riddles are riddles and he's sure the last time he heard something like this it came out of gypsy whore fishing for tips. Even if he can't remember any gypsy whores he might have been with. Specifically.

Irrelevant. Sulfur to striker his temper ignites, flash and bang muffled through clenched teeth and a seize of movement bolted down before it looks like a lunge. Stopping at a stretch of beach without any trees or boulders or shrubs has turned out to have been a mistake. The only place for him to go is into the water.

So he goes. Boots, jacket and all, he turns to leave her for the loch, already in up to his knees.

"Where are you headed?" d'Sadonne asks, echoing herself, as Flint begins to make a break for the ocean.

"This is something you already tried, mon ami mélancolie - the sea spat you back up!"

Up to his boots now. Bare feet follow half the distance. To his knees. She stops as another rush of water darkens the hem of her dress, washing her feet beneath.

"I can help you remember," she calls after him - at last something nearing concrete.

"Whether or not you do, though- I will not forget."

Not much further out and Flint sits, icy water kicking the wind out of him as he sinks abruptly into the tide. Head and shoulders above silt grey, blue jacket marking him all plastic and garbage against the morning, he slouches with his back to her and surveys the horizon.

White dresses don't go in water.

No, they don't. Flint settles, protected by his phlegmatic barrier. d'Sadonne, threatened by shin-high surge, dances back on the balls of her feet. She no longer seems quite so happy.

"Vous êtes comme un enfant…" is hissed from between clenched teeth, before she shouts,"non! Pire que ça! Un chien - galeux et inutile!"

A hoarse baying resounds from out of the treeline behind her.

"It means if you hide, we will find you! If you fight, we will strike at your heel! If you flee, we will run you down!"

The words are ominous. More than that, they are the omen. Revealed as base threat.

"Soon you'll be turned out. You will have nowhere else to go- et vous ne le sera jamais!"

Her last words are for her own benefit, stated while stalking away from the water's edge.

"Ce n'est qu'une question de temps…"

Blue and grey slip deeper still, one last shivery breath filtered in through his nose before he sinks under entirely. Doesn't have to parse the French to get the gist of it — the venom in her voice fails to dilute for all that it bloats thick under the surface.

The flop of his hood lingers topside, marking his position in the second or two it takes him to rise again. He's thinner for the plaster of borrowed clothing to his bones, ears too big and arms too long. Murky water follows him up in a heap, drowning out the rain. Ungraceful. Still branching into thinner streams when he turns back to squint at her retreat, all bare feet and sodden hem.

"I'm right here!" he calls after her, dare implicit once he's found his voice — raised to carry flat across the wind.

But he doesn't follow. Not quite bold enough to press the issue.

Not quite bold enough to throw a rock, either, right hand trailing over the surface in the earliest stage of a move made to find one. He rattles against his own skeleton instead, nose rankled and brow turned down.

Cold.

She does not answer. It would be a further affront to her dignity.

To run would be an indignity as well, not to mention a difficult one, with the mid-sweep of her dress gathered into her arms and held at the unsteady edge of modesty. Hers being a fastidious modesty, really - he catches little more than a glimpse of her ankles, around one of which hangs the fine line of a chain - no shackle, by any means, just an ornament.

d'Sadonne's retreat runs parallel to her arrival, redrawing the prints the water has already erased. Soon they too will disappear, as with all signs of her passing.

Out there in the forest, a low shape lopes alongside. The dark bars of the trees split its single shape into a pack of impressions.