The Pitch

Title: The Pitch
Time Period: August 25, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Dylan Hightower is finally able to make his pitch for bigger things, and his daughter is his biggest advantage.

Supper at many Hightower households tends to be a raucous, messy affair; while Dylan is, or tries to be, more crusty than his other family members, whatever manner of rules he has invoked on his own brood are thrown out the window at a Sunday dinner with visitors. Naturally, Aileen tries to herd the smaller children off to another table, rather than the one in the dining room itself; it works, up until the point where older youths begin braying that they are old enough to sit at the adult table.

Dylan, with his plain, almost baby-faced features, dark eyes, and brown hair, is not a very imposing figure when he frowns his best frowns. The weak chin doesn't help, stubble or no. As his own children got older, he relies more and more on his wife to be able to cast a net. Meanwhile, he prefers to slide back in his chair and hope for the best.

The dinner is over now, and the newest young woman that Dylan Hightower has employed- he finds himself going through so many, can never find good help these days- is just finishing her clearing of the table settings. The younger set has been ushered off, and for the time being, it is the man of the house to himself. The light of tinder flickers against his face to light the small, slender pipe at his teeth. Dylan waits patiently enough, tall frame hovering near to the window; he waits now, for his eldest daughter to join him after being summoned back.

After washing her face and hands, Akira barely has time to make a cutting remark to one of her younger brothers, who revels in making up ridiculous names for her, before being informed her father is waiting. The skirt of her dress swishes as she moves it this way and that to avoid blocks, toys, and any grime the younger children may have placed willy nilly about the private areas of the house.

With her hair in a simple braid, the no-nonsense young woman re-enters the room. Her nostrils flare at the familiar scent of burning pipe tobacco as she pauses by the table, a bit away from her father, her mentor. "You wanted to see me, Papa?"

Better to get nicknames from your brothers than nicknames from other teenage girls. The latest was something of a mess of syllables that began with her first name, which was apparently hilarious to little boys. Less so for everyone else, who have absolutely no clue why it was so funny.

The weather outside the windows is calm, and overcast, as most of Dornie's weather turns out to be. The sunset is still glazing reddish orange on the horizon, and the majority of the northern parts of town are lit with streetlamps and fires in hearths, reflecting out of panes. Those that have the time and means to do so, are at home and ready for the oncoming of night. Not everyone is so fortunate.

"Your aunts hate this. Your mother does not mind, or else she does not tell me." Akira's father has a few opening remarks like this much of the time, small-talking his way to a point. "A smoky pasttime I learned too long ago, from baser men." When her father finally turns to face her, the stem is away from his mouth, smoldering in his hand. His eyes smile before his mouth does, telltale of an honest emotion. "Yes. If you want to have a seat, you may, for this. I wished to tell you some of my plans."

"You are becoming quite the successful young lady, and I think that it is past time we found a suitor for you." There is something buried in his tone, that Akira can easily recognize as pride.

The red, orange, and gold hues of the setting sun make her own hair of the same shades seem to alight. It is in these moments Akira looks most like Aileen did in her prime, although the truth is the daughter surpasses the mother in beauty, if not in warmth or concern for others.

Many would consider her a cold girl, but many do not know how her cobalt eyes sparkle as she revels in her father's pride. Her smile is small, which is actually an indication of it being genuine rather than feigned or purely polite. "I find it rather comforting, Papa. It reminds me of the first time you took me outside of Dornie for business." Her pale features soften as she reminisces.

Yet the sentiment leaves nearly as soon as it arrives, practicality taking over once more. Sensing this may be a long discussion, she moves to the chair beside Dylan and settles her skirts before primly folding her hands in her lap. "I had hoped you might say that. Is it Clan Ross or Clan Rowntree you are eyeing? Or… has more than speculation already occurred?"

"My lungs may be black as coal, but I can't say the same for my heart, can I?" Dylan sits again only once Akira has, a moment passing where he resigns to watching her move. He faces her without anything in the way of guile, which may say a lot of the relationship here. He is able to speak most frankly with her, even more than Aileen. Aileen's heart rules her head, yet Akira, like he, is able to separate them and keep them that way.

"More than speculation, if I am able to secure more private words with certain parties. I am courting the Rowntrees for their boy, Peter. He does have magic in his blood, but he is Duncan's only son, and the only boy of age. his mother was my cousin, as you well know, but after initial discussions, we found that it was distant enough to avoid any … immediate ramifications. Socially, or for any children you would have." Dylan leans back now, putting his tobacco pipe to his mouth while he waits to hear what his daughter has to say on the matter.

Akira crosses her legs and inches forward slowly in her chair, a sure sign of great interest. Auburn eyebrow lifts gently as a slow smirk curves her lips. "Considering the history of nearly all the world's royalty, particularly ancient Egyptian, I could hardly imagine distant cousins would cause so much as a batted eyelash, Papa." She has ever enjoyed referencing the many books Dylan provided her, although she knows he likely has not personally read every single one. It is a symbol of gratitude for his diligent efforts and the expense she knows it cost him.

"He is a few years my junior, if I recall. Hopefully, that makes him more malleable." She makes no comment about the mage issue, her mind calculating an entirely different aspect. "I would certainly enjoy leading the town. The stain caused by his father putting up his own personal whore will have to be dealt with, of course. But the idiot herself can be left alone, so long as she knows her place." High words from a girl who has dedicated her life to rising above her station.

"How strong a position do you believe us to be in for this particular barter?" Akira's gaze is clear and unashamed; she sees no problem in calling a spade a spade. A marriage of this nature is a sale, pure and true.

"It is still …early- to speak of Miss Owens in such a manner." Dylan as it so happens, feels the same as his daughter; Luna may be the get of another powerful merchant, but in Dylan's eyes she had made her foolish decisions, and should not be able to act as if they never happened. That is how he feels, and it cements when he only half-admonishes Akira. Even then, he scolds her words, not the opinion. "She may not deserve certain things, but for the time being, she is Duncan's consort. And while I am inquiring into his son, I need a dulled tongue from you, my darling."

"I believe we are in a fortunate position here. The Rowntrees need to appear calm and collected. Business as usual entails events such as an engagement, and the Hightowers are as much a part of Dornie as the seabirds. It will show solidarity in a time of unease, I am certain of that." Dylan lifts his dark eyebrows together, and his expression takes on a superior cast whilst he thinks. "I think that we have a good chance, if our meetings go well, and you do not air your opinions, lest they find offense."

"Have you ever socialized with the boy, personally?" Presumably, at various events that give the opportunity.

"Papa, with all due respect, it was not too early to speak of the girl so the moment she took up trade in a brothel," Akira retorts with a derisive sniff. She has no respect for anyone who throws away such a good life for whatever fun could supposedly be had by spreading her legs for every man with half a head of cabbage… or whatever the going rate was these days.

Still, she spreads her hands, palms up, in concession. "I would never speak this to the Rowntrees, of course. Even if I must bite my tongue until it bleeds, I'll be as polite and feign all the interest necessary to bring this to fruition."

The query has her eyes looking upward and lips pursing in thought. "We have met and shared a few words now and again. I cannot say I have ever had a real conversation with the boy, but the few years between us were far more prevalent when I was a teen and he was yet a child. As I recall, he's something of a dreamer. A naive bo-… well, young man, now. He and his twin sister, Constance, make quite the pair. I imagine I'll have to befriend her as well." Just another task on the list.

"Constance is a good girl, though headstrong enough to drive her father crazy. Leah was like that, when she was a wee girl." The moment of nostalgia comes and goes, not swiftly, but timely. Dylan burns out the last dab of tobacco before setting the pipe aside on a tray sitting nearby. His movements are small, but deliberate. "Naive, I think, but if history stands, it is the ones with open minds that have the most potential. If they believe they can do anything, perhaps they can. Peter will not be his father once he is grown, but I doubt he is as content as his uncle Edmund is to let the world move around him."

"I suppose that the one man with the most insight on the boy is the least likely to give you information. Tobin Hirsch has the boy on as an apprentice, as I am sure you know. It may be best to avoid that one completely. You may want to also make nice with his familiar, if you can. They are equally boon and burden."

Akira shifts briefly in her seat. "If you believe it wise, Papa. What's the thing's name and usual form?" After a moment, she confides, "I do not wish to befriend Mr. Hirsch, but it may become necessary to learn the greater depths of Peter. Else, I may have to listen to the boy's rambling about nonsense to get to that point." With a smirk, she notes without hope, "Yet perhaps he has matured since last we spoke."

Folding his hands, Dylan regards her attentiveness with distance. It takes him a moment longer to give her an answer, as he makes inward attempts to sort his words before they find a way out. His brown eyes watch as well as his ears seem to listen.

"I was told its name was 'Heart Song', but I don't know what forms it takes." Dylan gives a small, hopeless bit of a shrug at this. He wasn't going to pry. Experiences with at least his brother have told him that mages don't often appreciate being poked and prodded. God knows his siblings did enough of that when they were small. "You may need to learn to like nonsense. As much as I am proud that you take after me, it will require malleability on your part as well. He will temper out soon, and some moderate influence will help him in that."

"If there is one thing I can do, it is influence. He is already quite malleable." Akira sighs softly. "I suppose a few well-timed smiles and offering apparent interest is more than worth being positioned to jointly rule Dornie. Besides, time and persistence on my part will mold him into the man he must become." There does not seem to be so much as the hint of doubt in her smooth voice.

"As for this… 'Heart Song,' how am I to approach it? I've no experience with befriending mages' pets, Papa. It may be the one category lacking in my education," she finishes dryly, knowing full well that is not a normal part of even the best educations resources can buy unless one is a mage.

Dylan's smile once again reaches his eyes before it spreads onto his cheeks, and the expression on his face gives the impression of a far more rosy man than he actually is.

"Feigned interest, to a teenage boy, is all the same as real interest." He knows this personally, and it comes out in his tone. Likely that Akira does as well, with her cousins and brothers. Boys are easy to please.

"Start off with refraining from calling them pets. You should know that they are no such thing." It is chiding, though not scolding; informative more than disturbed. "Perhaps you can practice on one in the family, if you think that you need more education on them. Your uncle's was rather easygoing, when we were children, but I am no expert."

"Mama had real interest in you," Akira points out with a light grin. "But have no fear; I've never been the girl who dreamed of a prince in armor atop a horse sweeping me away to a palace where we would be madly in love all our lives." In fact, she sniffs derisively. "I'll work with Peter Rowntree and our family will benefit from it. Positions for you, for the other children… all I can do."

With a nod of assurance, she notes, "I will speak with Uncle Leonard, then. Out of curiosity, what -is- Peter's ability?"

"I wasn't comfortable enough to pry, but from what was summarized to me, something to do with dreams. It will be something to find out, for you." Just one more thing for homework. Dylan has absolutely no problem setting her on such quests for knowledge; it is, after all, exactly how he raised her. Knowledge is power, and most Hightowers subscribe to such a trait, for better or for worse.

"Your great uncle James still has his pull within the Rowntree camp, so it is my hope that they find you as favorably. Even should this not work out as I hope it will, you should be able to make some good connections during all of this."

"Certainly, Papa." Despite the confident words, a small shiver runs down Akira's spine. Dreams. He can do something to dreams — his? Hers? Everyone's? "When is the next step? The negotiation."

"I hope to have further words with his father, once things have calmed a little. We communicated briefly before, but I expect the next to be longer and more in depth with detail." Dylan leans forward enough to make an incoming point. "In the meanwhile, it will be up to you to give them, and Peter, a reason to have such a meeting be more …optimistic." Now is where that feminine wiles part comes in, isn't it? Of course.

A slow, sly smile curves Akira's lips. Yet by the time it reaches its peak, most would consider it open and sweet. Her soft features certainly aid in the illusion. Eyes widening just a touch to add the sense of naive wonder, she replies with a hint of excitement, "Of course, Papa. Constance and I shall become the best of friends and Peter will surely love a woman who takes interest in all he enjoys." Only a small gleam in her eye belies the facade, and one would have to be very perceptive to notice it.