Scrying Secrets

Title: Scrying Secrets
Time Period: May 19, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: At her son's request, but not for his gratitude alone, Aislinn does what she can to help find Cas.

The Lord speaks to Aislinn in her dreams - or this is at least what she believes, and what has brought her to the edge of the loch on a cold, dark morning that blankets the water in mist and shrouds the tall, statuesque shape of Eilean Donan rising up out of the fog in the distance. For all her selflessness - or butter spread too thin, as Duncan calls it - she would not be here if it were not for Colm, who has spent days pleading with his mother to use her magic to help find his friend, and were it not for her method of finding people who are lost, the request would not have escalated into an argument.

Aislinn has a fear of the water, and in her dreams that is where the Voice tells her she must go to look. She would feel better if Edmund was here instead of Beisdean and Mariah, but if he was, she supposes he would not allow her to do as she intends. "You will hold me under," she instructs the former without looking at him, seated on a low boulder with her small hands occupied with running fingers through her familiar's coarse brown pelt to keep them from trembling, "until Hush tells Masque and Darklight otherwise."

The tall man stands with scarf wrapped around throat and hands buried into his coat — it may be spring, but it's cold and early. He's listening, attentively and calmly until suddenly Aislinn is asking him to commit near-murder by drowning.

"Wait… What? No…" he says, shaking his head with gray-blue eyes widening. He takes a step back away from her, away from the water. A glance is thrown over his shoulder to where Darklight stands, and the marten too looks alert and worried, head canting at Aislinn almost comically.

Then the rest of Aislinn's words catch up to Beisdean, and he turns to look at Mariah, bewilderment and something darker furrowing his brow. "Masque?"

Mariah stands nearby, a warm jacket wrapped around her and layers of skirts to keep the cold off her as best she can while they're out here. She's looked better, but for one, it's far earlier than she's used to being up and out and two, she's been in something of a raw state since Cas was taken.

It's always been in her tendency to assume the worst, so she's here on a thin thread of hope. And perhaps a healthy dash of stubbornness.

At first, she opens her mouth to protest to the plan as well, but she doesn't actually manage to get it spoken. Instead, there's a heavy sigh when her familiar is mentioned, not annoyed like she would be on any other day, but more resigned. "Yes, alright," she manages before she glances over at Beisdean. For him, she doesn't have an explanation just yet. Later. "I can do it, if you'd rather not." The familiar in question is around, but out of sight as is his habit. Their habit, perhaps.

He wasn't supposed to know, Hush reminds his mistress in a voice less condescending than it would be on any other day. This is a solemn time for all of them. He presses his fox nose against Aislinn's palm and gives the tips of her fingers an affectionate nip before sliding off her lap into a graceful heap at her feet. His front paws go out first and he bows his back, still working the kinks from his muscles after spending the night curled up in her bed instead of Ariel's, which is where the familiar usually rests his head.

One long, luxurious stretch later, he's twisting his head over his shoulder in time to catch the remorseful look Aislinn points in Mariah's direction. She apologizes with her eyes.

Beisdean's eyes drop and he gives a jerky shake of his head. "No," he says, a touch sharply to Mariah, but then he angles his head toward her, eyes still downcast, to add more softly, "You don't need to catch a cold on top of everything else when you're out of your head with worry."

He looks back up to Aislinn, his worry and fear clear to the empath. "This is the only way you can do it?" He knows the answer is yes, or she wouldn't ask. His answer, too, though unspoken, is yes — if only to keep Mariah from having to do it. He unwinds the scarf from his neck and tosses it onto a nearby rock; the coat is unbuttoned to follow. Make sure you tell me immediately he tells the marten.

Mariah closes her eyes at that sharp reply, a hand lifting to rub over her eye before she looks over to Aislinn. She makes a little wave with her hand at the apology. She's upset, no use hiding that, but she has a what's done is done policy about these things. Plus, she's appreciative of what the other woman is about to do, so yelling doesn't seem to be forthcoming.

Maybe some crying, but not yelling. Although, she's doing a fair job at not doing that, either.

"What can I do then?" She asks, her own voice sounding a little flat at the moment, for all that its comforting effect is still there. It just doesn't comfort her. She turns to make a motion toward where she knows the badger to be, adding, You might as well come out. Which he does, trotting over to her side, which is as close as they get to any display of affection.

Aislinn rises from the boulder, Hush winding between her legs, and moves closer to where the water laps up against the shore and transforms the rocks into black glass. She crouches there, wets her fingers, and says a prayer in her native Irish while making the sign of the cross. It leaves damp marks on her coat, which she removes shortly after her boots - while she won't fully undress to complete the ritual, she isn't going to submerge more items of clothing than necessary.

The dress she wears beneath her coat is a flimsy, pale thing that belongs between the sheets of her bed, but it's easy to take off, and that's exactly what she'll be doing when they're finished here unless she wants to catch her death from the cold. "Do you have something of his?" she asks Mariah.

The marten tips his head at the badger. The fishmonger. To thine own self be true conveys that wry bitterness that Beisdean manages to refrain from indulging in at the moment.

For his part, Beisdean keeps his eyes cast down as Aislinn disrobes partially. "You can keep watch to make sure the militia doesn't decide I'm trying to murder Mrs. Rowntree, aye?" he says, a humorless smile gracing his face — he has reason to be nervous of such a thing, but in a better mood, he'd make more light of it. He tugs off another layer, his sweater, to toss onto the rock, leaving him in just a thermal below, and finally he unlaces his boots; the pants will stay on, and he'll simply be very, very cold until he can change clothes.

Masque circles around Mariah's feet at that bitterness, but he ends looking toward Darklight, although his stance leans toward the protective side. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so, is his reply, tone as flat as his mage's. But that's pretty normal for him.

"Aye, I'll keep watch," Mariah says, letting out a sigh that probably tells that she'd rather be doing something more active. She looks down to Masque, clicking her tongue at him and nodding toward the side. He seems to take it as a signal, because he dashes off to get to a high point, also playing lookout.

When she turns to Aislinn, there's a hesitation, but her fingers reach up to remove the necklace around her neck, delicate chain and bloodstone pendant carried over to set in the other woman's hand. "It isn't his, but he gave it to me." Gave and not paid, which makes a difference to her, although she doesn't seem to feel the need to explain that it's special to her. Or ask that extra care be taken. But it's there in the way she looks at it, lingering as she looks up to Aislinn's face. "Will that work?"

Aislinn holds out her hand for the necklace and pendant and curls her fingers around it when Mariah surrenders the treasure to her. Although she isn't one for jewelry, she has a horse that's very dear to her - a gift from her husband and a symbol of his commitment to their marriage, family, child; she holds the necklace to her breast with the care she would show Toirneach if Toirneach could fit in her palm.

"It will make this easier," she tells Mariah, because she cannot promise that it will work.

Magic doesn't always.

The healer wades out knee-deep into the water, dress clinging to her thighs, and lowers herself onto her knees. She is ready as soon as Beisdean is.

The man glances back to where Mariah and Masque keep watch, and turns away again, a sullen look on his face. He too steps into the water, swearing something in Scottish when the sharp cold bites. He presses his lips together, gray-blue eyes leaking a pre-emptive apology as they seek Aislinn's.

His hands move to her shoulders as he too crouches down. A deep breath is taken, as if he were the one about to go under water, but he nods to her to do the same, making sure she has a mouthful of air before he presses her down, steeling himself for what he knows will not be pleasant.

He turns to look at Darklight, who has scampered up onto the boulder to keep watch.

Mariah nods to Aislinn, noting the lack of promise, but grateful for that bit of honesty. She steps back when the other two head for the water, looking away when she catches the sullen look. She ends up against the boulder that Darklight perches on, but looking another direction. Making sure no one happens by to make the worst of the scene.

Her arms fold, her shoulders hunching as if cold, which she is, but not enough to need to huddle herself up. And Masque, from his own high perch, keeps a split watch for anyone approaching and for Mariah down below.

For the first few seconds under the water, Aislinn is tense beneath Beisdean's hands - but it isn't until half a minute has passed that he has to combat the start of a struggle. He feels the muscles in her shoulders and arms turn to stone, her back arching up off the floor of the loch an instant later. Her body disobeys her mind's command, which is to keep still, and soon her heels are digging into the mud, struggling to gain the leverage required to throw Beisdean's weight off her.

From where Mariah and Hush are standing, it doesn't appear quite so violent. The water is deep enough that Beisdean could be struggling with a large fish caught in a net and no one on the loch's shore would know the difference unless they're looking for the flash of a bare arm or leg.

Under the water, Aislinn's hands find Beisdean's wrists and press their nails in.

Eventually, she is still and Hush gives a low whine. He does not say anything to Darklight or Masque.

Beisdean's brow scowls as he concentrates on not letting her up the second she starts to struggle. His hands loosen for a moment now and then but as long as she's struggling, she's not drowning; it's only when she's still he truly worries. His head swivels to Hush at the whine, and he almost lets up.

"Tell me!" he shouts to the fox, and then his eyes dart to the marten.

Not yet, brother. Darklight's voice is calmer, though he bounces off the rock to Hush's side. He may not hold her long enough. Is it working? he asks the other familiar.

The struggle draws Mariah's attention back toward the water, and she joins the familiars in looking on, worry in her gaze as well. Her brow furrows when Beisdean shouts, and she has to swallow hard to keep overactive emotions down under the surface where she likes them.

Her hand reaches over to rest on the fox's back, some comfort for the familiar. If it isn't easy for her to watch, how much more so for Hush. "She'll be okay," she whispers, perhaps trying to convince herself as well.

She is going to a place where she will know, Hush answers, his voice sounding much further away than it should. His legs fold beneath him against his will and he leans against Mariah's leg for support as his body sinks to the ground. When he can no longer lift his head, his eyes begin to hood, and water - loch water - leaks openly from his nose and mouth.

All of a sudden his breathing is haggard and wet.

Beisdean can't see the familiar that clearly, or he would let up immediately on his hold. Darklight passes the message on to the medium, though he noses Hush with some worry.

"Hurry," Beisdean hisses, whether to Hush or to Aislinn herself, it's unclear. His hands shake where they hold her shoulders, though out of fear, not out of any intent to jostle the woman. Fear and uncertainty bleed off of him with every second.

When Hush leans against her and slumps to the ground, Mariah crouches down to try to help, only to be faced with something a bit other and her hands come up to cover her mouth. Eyes get watery there, but she reaches to keep a hand on the fox familiar.

"Darklight," she says, a little insistently, tinged with impending frantic as her gaze flicks from familiar to where Aislinn is held underwater. "Oh god."

She knows what she's doing, Masque reminds, but even he sounds less certain than usual.

The effort required to breathe has Hush's sides heaving, and he makes a sound like a baby bleating in its crib.

Then: Up.

As Beisdean turns at Mariah's voice, his fingers already beginning to lift from the wet fabric of Aislinn's gown, Darklight repeats the command.

He doesn't only let go. Beisdean pulls her up, a ragged gasp raking his own throat, and then lifts her to carry her out of the water. "Get my coat for her," he calls to Mariah as he wades through the water, finally setting Aislinn down on the dry boulder.

Mariah breathes out a heavy sigh when Beisdean lifts the other woman out of the water, and she rubs her hands over her face as she glances down to Hush, to see how he's fairing, too.

But she straightens at the mention of a coat, and while she does grab Beisdean's, she also shrugs out of her own. And its the latter that she hangs on Aislinn's shoulders, not seeming to mind it getting wet, even though it is a very fine coat. Only then does she turn to put Beisdean's over his own shoulders.

The first thing Aislinn does when hauled from the loch is vomit up the contents of her stomach onto Beisdean's shirt. Fortunately, this consists mostly of water and the fluids than churn in its pit when empty - she knew better than to take dinner last night or breakfast this morning, and although there was nothing in her bowels to expel while Beisdean held her under, at some point she lost control over her bladder.

That they are both sopping wet spares Aislinn the embarrassment; she won't notice the dilute smell of urine until she's back inside and her dress has begun to dry. Hush isn't faring much better.

The healer's body is numb to the warmth of Mariah's coat, but that doesn't stop her from fumbling to close it and lock in its heat, hands forming a knot with the chain of Mariah's necklace dangling from between her knuckles - complete with gleaming bloodstone.

"There's a theatre," she croaks out, voice small and hoarse, "and an old road - dirt, the wood, distance. A hob. I saw a hob."

The coat around his shoulders is nodded at, a tacit thanks, but he lets it slip in order to pull off the thermal quickly, then pulling the coat on again properly. The flask that's in the pocket is taken and opened with shaking hands that bear the marks of Aislinn's nails; the receptacle then pushed into Aislinn's hands for her to drink from. He sinks to his knees to look up at her.

"A theatre some distance away? Not in Dornie, then?" he asks.

Darklight makes a soft tch at Hush, moving closer to lick the other creature's face clean of the water it had spewed. Are you all right?

Mariah steps back from them, not yet taking her necklace back, and not quite joining in the conversation, either. Mostly because it makes little sense to her.

Masque climbs down from his post, coming to join her rather than the other familiars, but her steps take her that way anyway. But it's her and not the badger that moves to help clean up Hush, her skirt helping brush away and soak up the water. She keeps her head down, focused on the job at hand rather than looking back to the other two.

"I don't know," Aislinn chokes, clutching the flask in her bone-white hands. She does not drink, if only because the thought of liquid filling her mouth makes her feel nauseous again. "Find the hob - you'll find Casper."

Hush flattens his ears and turns his face away from Darklight's whiskers and tongue like a stubborn kitten refusing a bath from its mother, but he's too weak to resist either the marten or the woman toweling him off with her skirts. Like Aislinn, his body continues to quake uncontrollably. If he has an answer for Darklight, he's too proud to give it.

"Easier said than done," Beisdean murmurs. Hobs are not the most sociable of creatures, after all. "Is there anyone recently whose seen any? I remember some stories from when I was a child, but I haven't heard of anyone who's seen them lately." This is asked of both, but Mariah is given an inquisitive glance, given that so much gossip travels through the Dovetail.

"Darklight," he says aloud rather than thinking to his familiar, "fly and see if you can see anything like she describes."

The marten changes shape, choosing this time a sea eagle to fly a greater distance if need be, and takes to the sky.

The use of Cas' proper name gets Mariah to pause a moment, brow furrowing before she carries on cleaning up the familiar. She doesn't seem to notice the look her way, or else she simply takes a moment before she speaks up.

"We saw them," she says lowly, but loud enough to carry. "The day he was taken. Some were there with the Dogs." Her lets her skirt drop, opting instead to pet Hush gently. "Should I bring him over?" That's for Aislinn, and she actually looks up then, toward the others.

"Please," says Aislinn, who lacks the strength to go to her familiar the same that her familiar lacks the strength to go to her. She offers the glittering necklace in exchange.

"So find the hob, find Cas," Beisdean reiterates as if it were simple. "Maybe if we go to where you saw them, there'll be a clue? Tracks, something? Which way did they go, when you saw them?"

He finally rises from his crouch, moving to lean against the boulder to get his boots on — he should have brought a change of clothes. His hands are too cold to manage the laces, and he leaves them untied.

Mariah scoops Hush up gently, trying to to jostle him as she carries him over to Aislinn. Familiar for necklace seems like a decent exchange to her, and once the former is handed over, she retakes the latter to clasp around her neck again, fingers brushing over the chain to the pendant as if making sure it were hanging correctly.

"There were some tracks, leading sort of south. But they faded before long." And she didn't find Cas at the end of them. It's a bit of habit and a bit of nervous energy that has her reaching to fix up the laces herself, practiced fingers having done up lord knows how many of the boots that pass in and out of her door. "We can go there, though, if you think it would help."

It'll be Darklight from above who'll spot the little hob slowly making his way from the tree he opted to rest against toward the outer edges of Dornie. Slowly but surely.

The lacing of his boots earns Mariah a raised brow. "I'd like to change into dry clothes at least," Beisdean murmurs, but then he is interrupted.

I spy, with my little eye, a hob, brother, Darklight's voice intones from his remote location in the sky, no longer in their sights.

Keep on him. "Darklight's found one. He's following him. Shall I go after?" Iago is grazing nearby, and glanced at. So much for a change of clothes.

"Yes, well. It's a long walk to the Albatross." Mariah straightens, hands running self-consciously over her dress for a moment. It isn't a state she's in often. Doesn't quite fit on her.

But she looks up when he mentions the hob, and she opens her mouth, but closes it again, brow crinkling. "Yes," is her eventual reply, "I— I'll make sure Aislinn gets home." She'd probably rather go chasing Cas down, really, but leaving the other woman sitting there weak and cold isn't an option she's comfortable taking, either.

"Thank you," comes a bit softer, and with her looking away again. Guilty. It's another thing she doesn't wear well.

Aislinn's hands on the flask are tapped. "Drink that, it'll warm you," Beisdean murmurs. The coat is pulled off so he can pull the dry sweater from the rock on over his head — at least the top half of him will be warm. The coat and scarf are donned once more.

Mariah is given a nod. "Make her take some of her own medicine, aye?" he says lightly, and then he strides to where Iago nibbles grass; in one graceful motion, he's on the horse and on his way.