06.02.3013: Empathy Among the Disadvantaged
Summary: Sophie and Elspeth discuss various matters on a bench before a caged drake, when Alexis passes through.
Date: 2 June 2013
Related: None
Sophie Elspeth Alexis 

Menagerie and Terrace Park - Landing
This park is most aptly named due to the various tiers and terraces that are neatly stacked with one another to create a rather pleasing aethestic. It is accessed through a series of pathways leading from the Statuary Forum. It encompasses about two square kilometers of space that, when combined with the various ups and downs of the tiers, means for quite a harch for those trying to explore every inch of it. Built within the parks architecture is a stream that burbles along and cascades over the tiers. Each tier varies in its ratio to lawn, trees, and flower beds. Some have stone bench seating, while others encourage sprawls across the plush grasses.

Tucked in the center of the park is a modest zoo and aquarium that is always open to the public and contains a wide range of animal life from all over Haven.

2 June 3013

It is late afternoon, and the bustling multitude of park visitors have largely dispersed to their homes. Yet, there is at least one individual enjoying herself in the modest zoo, with a guard standing ever watchful behind her. This particular woman is relaxing on a zoo bench with an umbrella leaning against her side, an electronic drawing tablet in her hand, and a fearsome large red drake peacefully resting behind the bars of its cage. Sophie, the woman on the bench, decided to wear an elegant black dress above the budget of most people in the solar system, with draping long sleeves and red flowery designs sewn into the luxurious fabric. She happily draws the drake on her tablet, softly spoken words wafting through the quiet afternoon air, "-and I cannot imagine who that black garbed woman might be. It is so strange, truly. I do quite wonder what reason there might be in concealing ones identity from people that only wish to discuss…well…speaking of which, I am very certain that I will attempt to at least suggest to my Uncle or cousins that an eigth seat be manufactured…"

An early conversation with a friend has Elspeth seeking out the living creatures of the Haven system, and where better than the zoo? She's dressed casually, her 'Scholar' time clearly over for the day, and has wandered into the section meant for native Haven creatures. Such as the magnificent drake resting behind the bars of its cage. As she draws near, she can't help but notice Sophie and her bodyguard. The latter gets a nod and smile of greeting, and the former receives a bow and a cheerful grin. "Still pondering last night's mystery, my lady?"

Sophie blinks as she hears a familiar voice, turning gently towards its source. She smiles gleefully at the surprise visitor, "I am indeed. It is difficult to keep such an oddity out of my mind. Oh, Elspeth. It is very good to see you again. I hope you did not awaken too…groggily? After Lord Aidan offered you that drink." After only a moment's pause, a smile slips wide along her lips and she even giggles lightly. A slender hand waves in the direction of the caged drake, "this is Matthias. I named him myself, and he is such a pleasant drake. My only fear is that he is slowly growing older. I do not believe the poor creature tends to be as long in years as ourselves. Matthias, meet Elspeth Adeyemi. A newly found friend of mine."

Elspeth laughs, and shakes her head. "It was only a beer, no matter how expensive a beer it might be. I like to think I'm not yet so old that a single drink gives me a headache in the morning. And what about yourself? If I might be so bold, it didn't look like you've much experience with the Westend scene, my lady." She comes closer, and studies the drake, her head canted to one side. "Hello and good day to you, Matthias. I can't say that I know much about the drakes, but that many people are very fond of making trophies out of them. It's a beautiful creature, though."

Sophie laughs lightly, "you need not be old to acquire a headache from a single drink. You could simply have a fragile constitution as well." She smirks, shaking her head, "you are only partially correct, Elspeth. Though I only rarely go to such infernally loud and rowdy places, I do occasionally visit on the off-chance that I become inspired." She stiffens for a brief moment, before relaxing with a sigh, "oh, I agree, Elspeth. Far, far too many people see these beautiful drakes as no more of value than as mere trophies." She scoffs, "I would wonder what these otherwise decent people would think, were the tables turned. My own sister included."

Elspeth grins. "True enough. Luckily, I'm not particularly delicate, either. Not going to win any contests of strength, of course, but otherwise hale." She moves to take a seat on the bench at the other end from Sophie. "There are a lot of interesting places in the Westend. Not all are as loud as that, as it sounds like you know. I tend towards the quieter, myself." Sophie's reaction and subsequent defense of the drakes isn't missed. "You're fond of them, I see? As artistic inspiration, I can see where they would be very attractive. And your sister…that would be Sir Ellinor, yes?"

Sophie smiles, "well, at least one of us is not considered constantly dangerously close to shattering, despite the truth of the matter." She nods her head lightly, "I agree, many interesting places in Westend. Still, the personality of the place is quite loud and rambunctious. I suspect it will remain that way for as long as it exists. I as well tend towards the quieter. I prefer the forests and gardens and tranquil places of the world by far." She nods her head sorrowfully at the question of the drake's, "quite fond of them indeed. It is a pity that they may very well face extinction at this rate." Smirking, she offers, "Sir Ellinor, yes. The one that enjoys adorning herself with the carcass of a drake."

Elspeth makes a low and considering noise. "I quite suspect that you're right, my lady. But it's good to have a few places for the rambunctious to blow of steam and all that sort of thing. Otherwise, they tend to expend all that restless energy in places not quite as safe - for themselves or others. Still…I've lived in the city all of my life, and I must say I prefer it to trees. I quite like gardens, though. Even have one of my own." She looks back at the drake. "I suppose the other side would argue that drakes have proved to be incorrigably wild, and have a marked tendency to eat people when left to breed on their own. I'm not fond of sport hunting, but…hmm, I guess I don't have enough evidence to feel strongly about it one way or the other."

Sophie smirks, "indeed, the 'rambunctious' do require the best in entertainment. Especially since they tend to protect the rest of us from the Hostiles." She shrugs her shoulders lightly, "I…suppose I can understand such a preference. I simply prefer the serene savagery of the forests to city life. Perhaps it is a preference born of my own history, as I was all but caged like poor Matthias in the palace walls for much of my life." She scoffs however at the comment on drakes, "they simply do so as animals near the top of the food chain. If it was not for humans, I am sure drakes would lead the entirety of the ecosystem. Instead, they are happily slaughtered and their flesh decorates the bodies of their murderers, who are lauded for the act." At present, she sits on a bench in the zoo beside Elspeth, with her guard standing watch behind them. She holds an electronic tablet in hand, while an umbrella shades her from the afternoon sun, facing the magnificent specimen of a large caged red drake.

Alexis is moving not altogether quickly along one of the paths, heavily favouring her right leg and limping with a cane taking some of her weight. Seemingly rather lost in thought she does however slot as she spots the pair then after studying Sophie a moment changes direction to head toward them.

Elspeth laughs. "Hey, being rambunctious is an equal opportunity situation. You should see some of the students of an evening. And I can understand that - I've only visited the great forests once, to consult with a collegue there about a malfunction she was experiencing with her devices. And we spent most of our time under shelter. But it was magnificently beautiful." About the drakes, she can only smile, and lift a shoulder in a rueful shrug. "Who can say? Perhaps one day someone will learn how to domesticate them—" she breaks off, glancing to the side as she hears the click of cane against ground. Seeing the woman approaching, she rises and offers a bow; it's not difficult to guess from the quality of the outfit that this is someone who warrants one.

Sophie laughs lightly, "ah, I imagine I can empathize with Academ students as well. My tutors exhuasted me the moment they walked into my room. But I am glad you understand the beauty of the forests. You should see my bedroom. The walls are nearly fashioned into the semblance of a forest, with the number of drawings I have made of the Arborenin Woods." She smirks at the comment of drake domestication, nodding her head, "it would please me more than you know. I dream of keeping Matthias as a horse, flying off into the great forests whenever I wished…" When she hears the clacking of a cane against ground, she turns her head to notice the wounded newcomer, grinning at her approach. She looks up at her guard and says, "Sir Barrow? Please help Lady Alexis over?" The man sketches a quick bow and replies, "of course, my Lady." He strides the distance and offers the woman his arm, happy to help however he may.

Alexis answers Elspeth's bow with an inclination of her head only to then frown for a brief moment and shake her head at Sir Barrow's offer. "You are kind to offer Sir Barrow but it is quite unneccessary, I have been limping like this for decades now and am quite used to it." Approaching further she then bows her head to Sophie. "Well met cousin, I do hope that I am not intruding? I will continue on my way if you prefer but otherwise would welcome an introduction to your companion." Elspeth indicated and nodded to with those words.

"I'm sure it's quite lovely," Elspeth says, regarding Sophie's talk of her walls - she manages not to respond to the exhaustiveness of tutors, though her lips quirk with something left unsaid. As for the domestication of drakes and the riding thereof, she can only say, "That would be a sight, my lady." What /kind/ of sight, she leaves carefully blank. Then she quiets as Alexis draws into conversational distance, clearly desiring to leap in, but instead waiting quietly to be introduced.

Caedmon, Sophie's guard, frowns when he is denied the ability to assist, though he walks beside her nonetheless, "oh…of course, my Lady." For her part, Sophie shakes her head pleasantly and replies, "not at all, cousin. It is very good to meet you again. I do hope you are doing well? I must apologize for not visiting for some time. I was away in the forests of Arborenin, being trained as an Awakened if you hadn't heard." She glances at Elspeth and waves a hand in her direction, "cousin, this is Miss Elspeth Adeyemi, a scholar of the Academ. Elspeth, this is my second cousin, Lady Alexis Sauveur."

"As well as I am likely to be given the arrival of the Hostiles Lady Sophie but we all knew that was coming. I may have readied myself for decades to face them but that does not mean I relish the thought." Alexis does tap the pommel of the sword at her side with those words, a slight nod to the part about being trained in Arboria though she does then note. "Sir Alexis Sauveur." An addition before she inclines her head to Elspeth again. "A pleasure to meet you Miss Adeyemi, might I ask what subject you study? I have attended some classes at the Academ myself over the years though mostly on military and historical subjects."

Elspeth smiles at Alexis. "Sir Alexis, it's a pleasure to meet you." She steps away from the bench a little, and nods to the space left vacant. "Would you care to sit? And my primary area of research is the Awakened - their powers, how they work, and how they might be utilized more efficiently or expanded. But I also have advanced study in mathematics, and teach some of the math classes." She grins. "No military, and most of the history I've learned has simply been a hobby." She links her hands behind her at the small of her back, and looks at both of the noblewomen. "Has there been any further word? About the Hostiles, I mean. The Awakened don't seem to have had any further dreams…but no one really knows what frequency of forewarning to expect in a System War." She sounds slightly apologetic about that, like she feels she should know.

Sophie smirks, nodding her head, "indeed. Their arrival, no matter how much we expected it, is still a stressful one. I suspect you are still adamant to fight in the war, cousin?" She flushes lightly however at Alexis' correction, "yes, Sir Alexis Sauveur. You will forgive me for forgetting, cousin." Once Alexis has arrived near the bench, Caedmon moves behind his ward once more, ever watchful and quiet. Sophie smiles at Elspeth's explanation, "I have actually subjected myself to a bit of her research. And I must say, it is quite intriguing." She shakes her head slowly, "no word that has come to my ear. Though…I intend to inquire about the bodies of the Hostile scouts, victims of a skirmish in the Arborenin Woods. They have been taken to the Orelle's, and I shall use it as an excuse to meet my sister Lyrienne, if nothing else."

Alexis gives a slight shake of her head whilst shifting her weight to her good leg. "I cannot linger too long and the intention of this walk is to force me to use my injured leg rather than to rest it but thank you for the offer. As to fighting? I am a knight Lady Sophie, of course I will fight, this war will last for decades and demand every possible effort from all of us." A slight pause then she adds. "Both of you are Awakened and experienced those dreams, can you tell me about them? From what I have been told by others you were somehow experiencing the perspective of a Hostile?"

Elspeth can't help but chuckle, ducking her head a little. "When you say 'subjected' to my research, it does make me sound a bit like a mad scientist from a vid, Lady Sophie." She perks visibly at mention of the Hostile bodies, but it's Alexis' question that draws a further response. "That's what it felt like to me, at least. In the last dream, we were experiencing what - it seems - would come to be the assault on the ramship. But although the impressions were muddled and indistinct, I felt clearly that my viewpoint was fighting soft bodies wielding Havenite weapons. Thus, a Hostile. The two previous dreams that I, personally, recall did not share that perspective, except perhaps metaphorically." She glances to Sophie, as if to confirm this.

Sophie nods her head, "of course you are right, cousin. I simply worry for you, with your leg as it is." She frowns lightly when Elspeth attempts to confirm the dreams with her, "they are…difficult to describe…at one moment, a strange song is sung. Apparently, the same song that a band of Awakened later broadcasted. The name escapes me at present. But then at another moment, a great battle is fought on a ramship. Though I would never have the ability to do so, I felt as though a pierced a lance into someone and threw them to the side, and then I continued forward into greater battle. Still…it did not appear especially as though I possessed the body of a Hostile holding a Havenite weapon. Of course, I am much weaker in the powers of the Awakened than those born to the gift." She chuckles softly back to Elspeth, "forgive me, Elspeth. I do not mean it in such a way, though such an idea would certainly make things interesting. To think, I have a mad scientist for a friend."

Alexis just shrugs to Sophie's concern there, still standing with her weight upon her good leg. "I can still fight cousin, not as well as I might have done in my prime but still better than many." She looks for a moment as if she might say something else but then mostly seems to muse on the discussion of the dreams. "That does match what I have been told by others, please, if you can remember any details about what viewing things from a Hostile perspective was like, how 'you' thought, details of tactics or how the combat was being fought, then detail and share them."

Elspeth rubs the back of her neck. "Perhaps I can manage the occasional unhinged cackle," she jokes gently to Sophie, "if it will help." The diversion into humor is brief, the scholar nodding to the knight. She closes her eyes, trying to recall the dream fully - not for the first time. "There isn't much…thought impression from these sorts of dreams, Sir. I /knew/ that I was not alone. Others were there. And I remember knowing one of them had fallen, my comrades, but if there was an emotional flavor to that knowledge, it didn't transmit. It didn't stop the dream-self from continuing its assault…but it likely would not have done so with any well-trained soldier, I imagine." She opens her eyes, and grimaces as she shakes her head. "I'm sorry. If you want to look into the mind of the Hostiles, your best bet might be those Hostile bodies," she tilts her head to indicate Sophie again, "if they are still anything approaching alive."

Sophie sighs, "I am sure you are right. Forget I said anything at all." She nods her head lightly, furrowing her brow, "I do not know if I remember the dream in such great detail, but I will certainly help however I can. I do know that I felt as though I was part of a unit, a squad. So if these are indeed Hostiles and we have seen through their eyes, then I believe they hold to tactics of some kind." She laughs at Elspeth's words, "yes, I am certain a cackle here and there will help, if nothing else than to keep me wary of science." She nods her head firmly to Elspeth's further words on the dreams, "I agree. We still know very little about the significance of these dreams. The solid evidence that the bodies of Hostiles may bring will assist us much more, I should think. Perhaps you might wish to join me in visiting the Orelle's. You as well, Elspeth. You may be a friend, but you are also a talented scientist and scholar. You may even be of help."

"The bodies of the hostiles have already been examined in great detail Lady Sophie, this might sound harsh but unless you have specialist skills that would be applicable I would ask you not to use our royal name to interrupt the important work of the technicans and doctors labouring on the Ring there. I have avoided doing it myself and I have spent years studying the Hostiles." Alexis does pitch that carefully rather than angrily or confrontationally though there is a sort of matter of fact tone to her voice. Still mostly she is listening to the explaination about the dreams. "Interesting, and thank you, in the last System War they did not really use much in the way of small unit tactics but simply rushed and tried to kill people so while not good news that is definitely valuable information."

Elspeth blinks a couple of times at Sophie. "Lady Sophie…I am greatly flattered at the suggestion. I am. But I feel the need to point out that, while I do have significant experience in electronics, I have none in Hostile technology, /or/ biology. In addition, the Orelles are justly proud of their many and highly trained researchers. It's entirely possible that bringing along a random—" she breaks off and nods in agreement with Alexis. "And yes, Sir Alexis, what little I know of that history does suggest that they've changed their tactics to be, ah, sneakier. It's one of the reasons why, in light of one of the previous dreams, I've urged some caution to be taken with the Havenite water systems. If they're utilizing small unites and covert scouting…well, sabotage is a popular third point to /that/ little trifecta of unpleasantness."

Sophie deflates somewhat visibly at Alexis and Elspeth's words, glancing down towards her tablet and letting out a sigh, "perhaps you are right. I just…I would very much like to see them…surely a moment's glance would not be too much? While the Hostiles are examined by those with greater knowledge of the topic, I would still quite prefer to see how they appear with my own eyes…" Trying her best to join the other subject, she offers, "indeed, from what my tutors have taught me, they were quite…wild and savage in the past System War. With little to no true strategy. And you have a point, Elspeth, sabotage would hardly be surprising, and we should prepare ourselves however we can for whatever tactics imaginable."

"They have demonstrated an ability to learn and adapt however, which they certainly have done." Alexis answers, then frowns a moment. "For that matter the Hostiles who were disabled and captured were scouting troops, likely to be atypical to their combat forces, but worryingly I have heard they were specifically targetting Awakened for some purpose. I would advise against either of you wandering outside inhabited areas without escort." That said she then blinks at something and retrieves a tablet from a pocket, peering at it before then hurriedly straightening and shifting her weight off her good leg. "I need to depart. A good day to you both."

Elspeth bows. "Have a good evening, Sir Alexis." She turns back to Sophie, and moving to reassure the younger woman, "Don't worry - I feel certain there will be more than enough Hostile bodies to go around, very shortly. It's better if we let experts try to glean what they can before the rest of the horde comes down though, hmm?"

Sophie arches a brow, "oh? I have not heard that myself. I wonder why the Hostiles might target Awakened. Still, there are many odd things about this attack. It was early, but only a few scouting parties landed. They seem more tactical than before, and they are apparently intending to target Awakened. Hopefully we can keep them at bay until they are gone for centuries more." When Alexis moves to leave, she nods her head, "of course. A good day to you as well, cousin." She sighs again at Elspeth's reassurances, "you may be right on that, I suppose. I must speak truthfully though, and admit that I would be more curious to converse with them than to examine their corpses. When I spoke to Lord Tristan, he mentioned they demanded our surrender in our own tongue. Which means they cannot be mere animals, and that it is entirely possible there could finally be peace. We, or at least I, do not know why they attack in the first place, after all."

Elspeth raises her eyebrows. "You hadn't? I thought anyone attached to the Royal Family would have been informed first. But, yes, apparently the Hostiles have been targetting Awakened and abducting. To where, no one seems to know. Sir Alexis is quite right about not travelling alone. Not that it is a problem with Sir Barrow's vigilant guard, I'm sure." She offers the man a smile. She glances back at Sophie. "I would truly like it if the Hostiles could be negotiated with. However…they had the opportunity to come in peace. As far as I know, no terms of negotiation have been offered, nor have they sought dialogue. You don't have to be an animal to be an implacable enemy, my lady."

Sophie shakes her head, "oh, perhaps my family knew. But I have been gone from Landing for some time, and only recently returned less than a week past. Indeed, I may have been brought home for that very same reason, since I was previously living in the Arborenin Woods." Caedmon bows when his name is spoken, offering, "I will fight the Hostiles off to my last breath, Miss Adeyemi, if it ever comes to it." Sophie smiles silently up at him, before replying to the other woman, "certainly, they resumed the war the moment they were in range. But we know so little about them. Who can say for certain that they would never be amenable to peace? Besides, if we succeed in capturing a singular one of them, we will know much more than a dead body could ever tell."

"I've no doubt of it," Elspeth says, nodding to the knight. "And, Lady Sophie, I would like to believe such a thing is possible. I find it…anathema to my worldview that any so-obviously intelligent creatures can be /immune/ to reason and the desire for peace. But thus far," she spreads her hands, "they've seemed to want only war. If there's any indication otherwise, at least you are well-placed to hear about it, and perhaps advocate for it. But we can't let our desire for peace blind us to the evidence before us." She hesitates, looking Sophie over thoughtfully. "Ah. This may be overstepping my bounds, but might I offer a small observation?"

Sophie nods her head firmly, "I greatly agree. If they can speak with us, then there must be some method for peace. I suspect they know as little about us as we do about them, though the fact that they are targetting Awakened is certainly curious. But you are right, of course you are right." She waves a hand idly in the air, "you need not be careful in your words with me, Elspeth. We can hardly be friends if we are hesitant to speak."

Elspeth laughs. "Careful. I might just believe that," she teases. "At any rate…it seems that it pains you to be treated as if you are weak or frail, or incapable. For obvious reasons, you know how that feels. Perhaps, in the matter of Sir Alexis, it might be useful to consider how a woman who is trained as a warrior and serves in that capacity yet, may feel being treated in a similar way." She shrugs. "I could be wrong, of course. I've only just met her, and it's not really my place to comment. Simply food for thought." She glances up at the setting sun. "Hmm. It is getting late, I fear. I should be wandering back to the Academ. We Scholars turn into bears after dark, you see."

Sophie smirks, "let's hope you do." She listens to the other woman's words and solemnly nods her head, "I think I might owe my cousin an apology. You are a wise and intelligent woman, Elspeth. I cherish our relationship and I hope you feel the same." She giggles at mention of transforming into a bear when the sun sets, "we cannot have that. We should count our blessings you will not turn into a drake however, lest my sister wear you for a shirt. Farewell, Elspeth. I will send a missive when I am ready to attend the next section of our research." At that, she offers a wave and returns to her tablet, continuing to sketch the drake behind the cage for as long as the sun remains in the sky.

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