Un Souvenir

Title: Un Souvenir
Time Period: June 25, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: When Luna's life hangs in the balance, the Dornians' seeming rescuers offer to help tip the scales.

There’ve been no further ‘confusions’, yet the split sentiment begun at the parties’ introduction continues to mark the encounter. Certain areas of the ship are strictly off limits, and at least one heavily armored man has been spotted keeping watch by the rear cabins. In contrast, Septimus - the mage with the ginger monkey - is all welcome and consideration. One gets the sense he may have been a bit lonely. This is explained by his the attitude of his ‘secunda’, a rank that would seem to place her below him in the hierarchy. Indeed, her name - Octavia - makes of them a series, seven and eight.

Yet Septimus seems to wield very little real authority over Octavia. A woman of medium build with a small pointed nose and hazel eyes that peek out from under bushy brows, she goes about her business pointedly, ignoring Dornians when she isn’t keeping a close eye on them. She’s a mage as well, as evidenced by her own familiar, which can often be seen as a reptile, clambering along some unlikely incline.

The two mages bicker frequently, often about their new passengers, and after enough dropped eaves, Eduard Hossfeld is able to determine just what Septimus lacks to keep Octavia in line. Each time, Septimus leans on orders from a higher authority - their Magus - but their Magus is presently indisposed, by what malady they assiduously avoid saying directly, but it’s clear that when the captain is too unwell to give orders, the first mate lacks the power to act as proxy. And the sailors are much faster to obey Octavia than Septimus, for whatever unknown reason.

One thing Septimus was able to secure, though, is a proper recline for Luna Owens, whose wounds are grave enough either to move even Octavia, or to affect the crew enough that she doesn’t dare countermand. A secondary magazine, empty, is set up as a room, not far from the hold where the rest of the party is let rest on canvas rolls.

Luna has her own cabin, at least that's how she sees it between lapses of unconsciousness. At present she's wavering, her pale skin is shiny with perspiration and almost glitters in the rays of the sun that peek through the small portal. In her own mind, she is as invincible as one of the vampires that she read about in a book once. No matter how many bandage changes try to throw a different light on her dilemma. Will she or will she not bleed out before they find Aislinn.

Pale eyelashes fan over the dark moons under her eyes, slower and slower. Each time they shut for more than a few seconds, she starts a little and begins her struggle anew. It's become a ritual, every few minutes she jerks, squeezes the coin in her good hand, and continues to stare at the door.

Presently, Eduard Hossfeld is sitting just outside the entry to Luna's magazine, doing two things. First, he is pondering the greater meaning of the exact relationship between Septimus and Octavia, and their apparently absent captain. Truthfully, the German is perfectly willing to believe that there is no captain, and that Ocativa is calling all the shots. And second, he is busying himself with the brass harmonica he recovered from some set of ruins or another some years back. He never really spent much time learning to play it, but he knows a few scales. Not enough to really assemble into proper music, but enough that trying to play sounds like something other than noise.

Voices from down the hall rise and fall as emotion wars with discretion- the former seems to be winning. The two mages, Septimus and Octavia, are at it again - but this time it is more than the habitual spat. There are stakes, now. Clear and present, if only to them. They speak in French, though both speak it with a different accent, suggesting it’s a common second tongue. The closer they get, the more Hossfeld can make out.

-so poorly. Surely- a man, Septimus-

-this long and now- -in the order- the woman, Octavia-

-ought to ask them. My God, I wouldn’t wish it on her!

Shithead! Then stop before you do something foolish.

It’s a risk, not a curse- not certainty. Not death!

They turn the corner, stepping into Eduard’s view. Their familiars are absent, a frequent occurrence, either out scouting or keeping an eye on the deck from the rigging.

And how are you going to ask?

Her, or them?

Either! Both!

And then they notice Eduard, and fall silent. Steps faltering.

The slow vibrato of the harmonica at Hossfeld's lips gives Luna a little more reason to stay awake. Surely the sound is enough to drive any sane woman mad, though the injured woman hasn't been accused of having her wits all about her for a little while now. Sometimes the tune is pretty enough to listen. Other times she wishes she could put a pillow over her head and muffle the outside world. Unfortunately one of her arms is useless.

When the harmonica falls silent, she lets loose a long sigh. Perhaps the German can read minds, he is quite an astute fellow, he might be a mage that can read minds but lost his familiar in some horrid accident. In a ruined city, yes, his familiar died to a horrible beast inside a ruined city. Luna's imagination runs away with her during this respite, not knowing the reason for it. By the time the smothered voices poke into her senses, she's already created an epic tragedy in which Hossfeld lost everything and everyone he ever cared for to a beast far more immense than the creature that was about to eat her.

Now if only she could understand a word they were saying, or even call out loudly enough for someone to come in and visit.

The pair notices Hossfeld and falls silent. He notices them and stops playing. Almost immediately after that, he loses time, and knows he won't be able to resume where he stopped. A musician is not his destiny, it seems. Das ist leben.

"Bonjour," is how Hossfeld decides to begin, figuring that they'll figure everything out from there. "«There is a problem?»" he continues, "«Yes? I can help?»" His French is not perfect, no, but perhaps is endearingly bad. Or perhaps not.

The pair are suddenly pushed into collusion by Hossfeld’s common address. They are on the same side, aren’t they? Octavia and Septimus glance at each other, as if waiting for the other’s decision. As luck would have it, Septimus makes the first move.

“«We came to ask how the lady is doing»,” Septimus says, and when he speaks he does with courtesy speed and clarity, “«we are making haste to your town, and hope-»”

Idiota!” Octavia exclaims, cuttin Septimus off; she addresses Hossfeld herself, “«Monsieur At-The-Door, will she die before we get her home?»

“«We have no healer, but-»” Septimus begins.

Octavia cuts him off again: “«Be a proper sybil and choose divine words, Septima!»” This reprimand amounts to a demand for silence, and it’s obeyed. Octavia awaits Hossfeld’s answer, as expectantly as if he knew exactly the number of Luna’s days.

"Blah blah blah," Luna whispers to herself as she tries to decipher what it is her hosts are trying to say. She's not as good as Hossfeld at this, all she knows are a few choice insults and baudy invitations. "Oui non, monsier frou frou, ha ha cochon."

Her state of health doesn't preclude her from taking small amusements where she can. She does, however, quiet quite swiftly and turns her gaze to the window instead of glaring at the door.

Hossfeld can't help but grin, just a tiny bit. It's good to know that, if nothing else, he's not alone in this battle, even if he is without an army. "«When she will die, is when she will die. That I know.»" It is entirely without the bit of politeness that he spoke with earlier than the German replies. "«Want to know day? To know hour? Fragen eine wahrsager. You ask fortune teller. Not me.»" It's not the best idea, perhaps, mouthing off like that to the people who are effectively deciding whether or not they should throw him overboard. It's also apparent that he's somewhat beyond the point of caring. "«What do you want to hear? I am a man. Not mage.»"

“«You see?»” Octavia hisses to her fellow, “«they don’t want our help.»”

But Septimus is unperturbed. In fact, it seems as if Hossfeld’s words have given him cause to redouble his efforts. He speaks assertively, inviting no further interruption from Octavia, who folds her arms and scowls her disapproval.

“«Monsieur,»” Septimus says, “«what if there is a way to give her- a little more time?»"

Octavia lowers her head to her hand. “Ogni tontu t'hà u so filu…” she mutters, "«this man decides for her? At least let her hear the decision made!»"

Blah blah the woman's voice seems a little slithery, like a snake, much more muted than that of Hossfeld or the other man, Septimus. Blah blah blah blah.

Monsieur a word she knows, spoken by the mage that brought them aboard and gave her this room that isn't in a hold. Blah blah… Luna stops listening and turns the coin over in her palm. The chain was wrapped around her wrist a few times by Constance, the prostitute didn't want to lose the token she brought with her to remind her of a heart still at home.

Hossfeld pauses a moment, although anyone familiar with the French language would see that it's not for effect: It's because he is sorting through what he's heard, and formulating an appropriate response. "«'What if there was a way for more time?'»" he asks in return, "«Or 'there is a way for more time?' You are not a fool. Completely. If there was no way, you would not ask, so there is way. What is it?»"

The phrase Septimus uses is une attache pour l'âme, and it may take a moment for Hossfeld to reckon its meaning. Quite literally it means ‘a tether for the soul’, but such a vague turn of phrase might well be metaphorical, like a lifeline or a straw one grasps at.

Only it’s not.

“«The soul tires and drifts,»” Septimus explains, “«you talk to a bleeding man, you keep him awake, otherwise he dies, yes? You keep his soul near. This is the same, only more. Magic.»”

When Septimus pauses to let this sink in - what with Hossfeld being a man and not a mage - Octavia seizes the moment and sidles forward, meaning to pop the door open and bring Luna into the loop.

Again, Hossfeld is silent for a time, not only to pick apart what he's just heard, but also to make sense of it, and then determine what he will do, and then reply. "«I will hear you, Monsieur,»" he finally answers, regarding Octavia opening the room just briefly. Just as briefly, he pushes aside the fabric of his coat, to let everyone know that he is not without a weapon. "«But remember. I have a pistol, in case you become insane.»"

The reason that Luna doesn't try to rise or make herself a little more presentable is clear, and the assumption that the injured woman makes is that her guests understand if she's a little less than the ideal hostess. She stops rolling the coin in her palm when the door opens and her eyes light up at the prospect of company, for Luna is a social creature, not something to be left alone for long periods of time.

"Eduard? What is happening?" The quiver in her tone is nothing more than the fear that she'll be expelled from her room. After all, she's not dead yet.

“«Do you have something she knows well?»” Septimus asks, staying outside with Hossfeld, “-un souvenir-” is that what he means? “«something she will hold on to?»

Meanwhile, Octavia hovers over Luna. Her hardened exterior cracks a little, this close to Luna and her near-delirium. She mutters a few more oaths, then crouches next to the other woman.

“Listen good-” Octavia says, slow and deliberate, “you are here? Here on the ship?” It seems she takes the soul’s distance metaphorically as well, as if Luna might be projected elsewhere.

And with that, the puzzle pieces start coming together. Why can't Luna be somewhere else? If, after a time, a city's ruins begin to know who is trespassing in them, and to know them well enough to send das jagd entsetzen to them, then surely what they are driving at is more reasonable. It can be conjectured, at least, that Luna might have 'stepped out' when she was in the process of being slowly eaten. "«There is something,»" he replies, "«Ein souvenir. There must be something.»" But what, exactly, isn't something he seems as sure about. Only that there must be something. "It is fine, fraulein," he says, finally acknowledging Luna's question not because no one has, but because it might be less unnerving if she hears him speaking, instead of a nearly perfect stranger. "We are making a plan. It is a plan to help you live to see Dornie again, if you wish to."

"Aye," she replies to both Octavia and to Hossfeld. She's here, she wants to live to see Dornie. The pads of her fingers slide along the surface of the coin she's palmed, the chain glitters just enough to call attention to it when the rays of the sun hit.

Seeing Octavia, not for the first time surely but for the first time this close, she studies the mage for a short while before lifting the hand that holds the coin, just enough to see it. "I'm here, how far are we from home? I made a promise I'd be home alive."

“You’ll keep it, lady- I swear it,” Septimus says, gallant on accident. Octavia scoffs, but eyes the coin. She reaches out to take it, but when her fingers find it they don’t lift it free. Not yet.

“Tell her,” Octavia says. She’s talking to Septimus, but her eyes are firmly on Luna. Holding her there, bridged at the fingertips.

Septimus hesitates, but he can’t for long. Even then, he begins by addressing Hossfeld in French. Avoidant.

“«There is a risk,»” he admits, “«if her body dies.»”

Codardo,” Octavia growls at her companion, before her hand slides down to claps Luna’s wrist; she finds her heartbeat - faint, but steady. “Strong,” she says, giving Luna a small squeeze, “stay here,” and then, aware she is echoing Septimus, “keep your promise.”

She takes the coin from Luna’s grasp, and rises to a stand. She turns, speaking to Hossfeld, but speaking in English, so Luna may understand.

“If she dies, it cannot be undone.”

"If I shoot you in the face," Hossfeld begins, standing up from his seat on the floor, "It cannot be undone. If I drown in the ocean, it cannot be undone. It does not matter what book you read, what script you follow. Death is always the final word. If you try, she may die. But if you don't, she may die. So, tell me. What, exactly, are we risking after all?"

The chain attached to the coin pulls at Luna's wrist when Octavia stands and unravels, separating the woman from the charm. A small keening sounds escapes her but it quickly expires from lack of breath. So she lies naked, though clothed and covered, her hand missing that extension of herself that she's been clinging to.

"Give me back my coin," she says, her voice gaining enough strength for that at least, "I'm not dead yet, you can't take my things until I die, there's rules." The reason why she wants it is rather straight forward, it's exactly what they need which is why she needs it.

Octavia is merciless about the separation: “You stay alive, you get it back,” is her decree. She turns to Hossfeld. “If we do, her soul will stay- if she dies, if she lives. Either way. And if her body dies.”

“«What’s left will be not so much a life…»” Septimus confesses, somberly, in French.

Une ombre,” Octavia says, coiling the chain around her fingers, “et une cadavre.

That's, not quite what Hossfeld was expecting as far as potential results go. But, it's like death, as has been point out. "Ich verstehe," he says, even if his attention is not focused on either Octavia or Septimus. "«Understood.»" Clearly, however, he's finished standing around outside, and moves himself inside where Luna is. For the moment, she is a part of what family he has, for what it's worth. Where there was once a coin in her hand, now there is empty space that he fills with his own hand. "Don't worry, fraulein. We'll be home very soon. Home with everything that we found, and stories. The best stories we can tell. I promise."

Luna's hand curls around a few of Hossfeld's fingers, gripping them loosely, the expression on her face betraying the loss she feels over the coin. "He said he'd be a hundred kinds of cross if I don't come back. Why didn't I let Baizey take the honor, I'm so stupid sometimes."

She tries in vain to edge a little closer as her voice drops down, a small attempt not to be heard by their hosts. The prostitute can't understand what they say, so in bitter retaliation, she hides her own words. A confession. "I'm frightened, Eduard, I'm afraid that I'll never see the shore again… or kittens." Her train of thought is moving too quickly for her lips to follow. Turning a suspicious eye on Septimus, he's given a somewhat dubious gaze before she refocuses on the German. The expression he receives is kinder, more familiar.

Her lips part, moving to say something very quiet. The barest of whispers can be made out but it's there for Hossfeld's ears alone.

"I'm so very tired."