05.04.3014: Shadow Company
Summary: Two of Haven's skulking spies meet in private to provide the other with advice and moral support.
Date: 02 January 2014
Related: Takes place three hours before Blackened Snow
Klaudea Nitrim 


Hanging Gardens - Obsidia, The Crescent
A green oasis in the midst of the white city of Obsidia and the gray and brown continent of the Crescent, the Hanging Gardens are kept cool and bright with misters placed at the top of the white maze-like walls that twist and turn through the half-mile expanse. The white stone of the walls is almost invisible beneath the fall of greenery descending from hidden planters within them. Clinging ivies and draping vines make what would otherwise be a stark space soft and comfortable, the flora carefully chosen so that there is always something blooming somewhere in the Gardens. There are benches and arbors tucked here and there into the near-maze, providing places to sit and relax, and there is even a small lawn around an equally-small pond at the center of the Gardens.
May 04, 3014

The Hanging Gardens, the wonder of Obsidia, and a place where one could probably easily become lost if they don't know their way around. To those who do know their way around, it has been exploited for clandestine meetings at times. Even with all the cameras throughout, in some places the greenery and vegation is just too thick, but the spots are relatively small and not well known… unless you've spent most of your life in Obsidia and the gardens.

With The Gardens being chosen as a meeting place, Blue Sister had sent Brother Shadow a little diagram, and she's curled up, back against a tree trunk and knees pulled up to make an impormptu desk for her tablet Her hazel eyes read intently as she waits for the Khourni lord to arrive through the overhanging of willow leaves, fingers of her free hand in the moss next to her, and another waterproof cushion on the ground nearby. Her head cocks slightly to the side, but her eyes don't leave the diagrams in front of her, each time she hears footprints passing outside, but most often they aren't heavy enough to keep her attention and she lets them go without turning to look.

Nitrim doesn't take long once he receives the message. As promised, it has been a few days since he has been able to break free from the unknown location he has been living, but break free he does. With a dark cowl over his head, a nondescript, simple version of the coat he normally wears adorns his shoulders and cuts view of his hands with the aid of black, leather gloves. If not for the brief glimpses of his chin and goatee, the darkly clad look would appear almost funerary. Even more ghastly is the concept that the hooded figure is trailing smoke…from a cigarette in his hand.

Stepping in through the gardens to her location, he brushes aside a few branches of the hanging willow and slips into their private santcuary. Without a word, he slips over to the trunk beside her, turns, and drops into an exhausted seat with his back squared against the trunk at the four o'clock point, shoulder-to-shoulder with her.

"Slightly less bath-like than last time, aye, Blue Sister?"

Klaudea chuckles. "Although that might be more relaxing," she replies, a couple taps of her finger closing out the window she was working on and blanking the screen to black. Tucking the tablet away, she picks up the cushion and bats him lightly with it in the arm. "Your rear will feel like it's in the bath again, though, if you sit on the wet moss long enough. Not even your coat will save you." The banter is toned down, teasing him enough to almost be normal, but still aware that he might not be up for full on teasing at the moment. Chewing one corner of her lip she tries to see beyond the low hanging cowl without craning her neck too much.

"You should try laying out in a mine in a shell of armor sometime. I don't know what was worse, the armor or the fact the uneven floor put that nerve on the side of my ass against an uneven surface." Nitrim smirks, far more of a scowl that can be seen from under his hood. Turning the cigarette around in his hand, he brings it to his lips. It occurs to him that they are beneath the canopy of a highly flammable tree, sitting on moss and needles. It is probably not the best place to be smoking, but his fears slip away as he remembers that he is one of the population's percentage that can act as a fire extinguisher.

"You're curious as to why." Nitrim's head tilts, noting her shift and her change in posture; the way she's craning to get a better look at him. "She thought I was preparing to abandon her. I wasn't. She was wrong. Something happened and when I went to visit her at Honor's Keep she confessed to me." Nitrim's cowl turns back forward, cutting his lips from view as he takes another pull from the cigarette. "I was…am…non-plussed about it."

There's silence from Klaudea for a long moment after he speaks. Then she shakes her head as if to clear it. "Wait, are you saying that Storm… slept with someone else?" she croaks. "I…" she pauses to chew at her lip, shaking her head again. "I figured something had happened with… but not… I mean …" She hooks her hands around her ankles, pulling her feet closer to her, then wrapping her fingers around her wrists to hug her knees to her chest. "I'm sorry," she adds quietly, resting her chin on her knees.

"It's not something I want known. It happened, she says, because she thought I was distancing from her. In some ways I blame myself." Nitrim whispers as if the people walking through the gardens will hear, keeping their conversation nice and private. "She wouldn't tell me who he was, but she says it was just her body. I can understand. I've done that before. It just seems this lack of faith in my word or how I act is a virus that spreads, and I think I may be the one spreading it. It's why I'm in exile right now; to figure it out." With a final drag from the cigarette, Nitrim's aura briefly flickers, freezing the end of the cigarette butt. With a flick of his fingers it sails out onto the walkway through the canopy of the willow tree. "She said she was going to the woods alone. Now she says she's going to see Sir Flint Grantham, someone who understands her. We'll see…" Nitrim trails off. "We'll see what happens next."

"I don't understand," Klaudea says quietly. "When we were talking at Willowtree before she went to Honor's Keep. When she talked about being worried, I… can't remember what I said, but she said 'yeah, it does sound silly'. I thought…" she chews at her lip. She unwraps her fingers from her wrist and reaches her hand over to his arm or hand. "Just because you have secrets doesn't make you untrustworthy. I mean, well, if you can keep a secret, that should mean you /can/ be trusted, right?" There's as much question as there is reassurance in the words, and her fingers tighten in a gentle pressure.

Offering her his arm, Nitrim leans in to press his shoulder against Klaudea's, accepting the contact comfort willingly. A bitter shake of his head ends with his cowled hood tilting to use the side of Klaudea's skull as a leaning post. The sigh is exhausted, ragged. "I was nearly arrested under suspicion of treason. The Captain of the Citadel that questioned me asked me why I trust no one; pointed out that I could have just explained myself before acting. So many people have told me this. Now she's told me this, too. None of them were really wrong, but some of them are guilty of not trusting that I would never betray them, yet they act as if I will."

Reaching across his chest, Nitrim places his gloved hand over Klaudea's and squeezes her fingers gently, patting her hand against his bicep. "After I was nearly arrested, our father's spoke to each other. No banns came from it and they haven't talked to either of us since. I was worried that Lord Canis, or the Ligonier at Honor's Keep were wooing her and that her father would arrange…all because of my father hearing about these near-charges and the fact that my access to Sarah was revoked." His lips tighten into a straight, frustrated line. "I already failed one woman to see her marry a stranger. Another and she killed herself. Another and she disappeared. I needed to think."

"Well, you knew it would be dangerous to try talking with… Sarah? That is the Cantosan's name?" Klaudea doesn't move her head to look upwards, not wishing to disturb his head, but her eyebrows twitch up as if she could see his face that way. "I can underestand the state being suspiccious of you and your motives. But, those who know you…" Her fingers curl about his bicep again, and she lets out a long sigh that lets her put thoughts in order.

"If something between two people isn't meant to be, then… it isn't meant to be. It doesn't mean that /you/ failed them, that you are solely responsible. It doesn't mean you shouldn't hold yourself accountable for anything at all, but perhaps you shouldn't take all the blame on your shoulders." The shorter exhale from her nose is now more self directed. "Different people respond to being disappointed in different ways… and some of those women, people, may be better off, now, even though they didn't think so at the time." Except for the obvious exception of the one being dead, but she doesn't highlight that.

"Yeah, I knew it would be dangerous, and I spoke with one of the Captains at the Citadel and I'm going to be fine. I even kinda added her as a contact to start working on stuff on an official level. In the end, I might come out better than I did going in." Nitrim replies, turning his head to catch her shoulders pull, no doubt she's trying to see him. Finally relenting, he reaches to his hood and brushes it back. His eyes are simple, tired, but no signs of crying or shrink-wrapped pain.

"Taking the blame is something that I do, it's a bad habit, but it's a knee-jerk habit." Nitrim brings his knees up, balancing his forearms over his knees to steeple his hands together. His head lowers down to his knees, then back up again as he rests his cheek against his wrist. "I know I don't do this, Klaudea, I'm not the guy to say these things but…it hurt. Badly. She wrote me, and I told her that she'd better be sure. She said she was going to the woods to be alone, but she said she went to visit someone at Ignis who understands her. I…I think I'm just going to have to see what comes in the next few weeks, move on, rebuild."

When he finally lets her see his eyes, she's not one to hide the concern and sympathy that's Benin building since she read the rumor in her own. she let's go of his arm, but it's only to shift so that she can lay that arm over his shoulders as he slumps forward, and she pulls her knees around towards him so that she can lay her other hand lightly on his elbow.

"You know will have me, no matter what happens. I hope you can work it out, and maybe be stronger for getting through it. I hope." she takes a deep breath and lets it out. "you came out better with the Citadel, after all."

For all of Nitrim's dark expressions and unwillingness to share too much, his actions are a different issue. He accepts the contact comfort, leaning his body to the side until his shoulder rests firmly under Klaudea's side. Eyes staring out forward towards the almost furry canopy of the willow tree, he begins to nod slowly, understanding and believing her words. "I know, you're a good friend, Klaudea. Always have been and so long as I can, I hope I'm a good friend to you, too."

"So…yes, the Cantosan's name is Sarah 113 of 164, and I'm not being arrested for treason, and I've got a friend here in Obsidia that is putting me up." Hands coming together, his gloves press at the fingertips, forming a steeple, which he brings to his face. Eyes tilting to look at her in a sideways angle, managing to catch her chin in his field of vision without awkwardly turning so close to her face, he continues. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I have friends, and I have time, and I have space to regroup. In the end that's all I really need right now, and I'll be close by, so if your friends in the alleys need anything…call me, okay?"

The comfort is easily given, without self consciousness. Klaudea's chin disappears from his view and comes to rest on his shoulder as she listens. "I know you'll be a good friend. Your secrets are yours and I trust you to be my friend." At the mention of her friends in the alley, her shoulders sag along with a drown out sigh and she lifts her head and turns to look at their canopy in her turn. "I miss them. They are doing all right, Morrigan's been going to see them for me. He tells me Phelan's doing well… I really need to find him a mentor, or someone to squire him. He's old enough." She pauses, blinking her eyes once. "You don't realize how much some… simple interactions with other people man to you until they are gone."

"I know entirely how you feel, entirely how you feel." Nitrim empathizes with Klaudea. No longer wearing his hood, the draw-back of the cowl has left Nitrim's hair standing on end to one side. The tiny fibers of his hair tell him that something is off-center, and he quietly begins brushing down his hair, matting it back into place. "I know I'm not the best judge of this, Six know I've gotten myself into enough trouble, but if I were you I don't know that I could keep myself from sneaking back there." Nitrim's head turns now to look at Klaudea, concern dotting his eyes. "Make a new disguise. Go see them. Don't do anything of concern, but just pass out some sandwiches or something."

Sighing, Klaudea shakes her head, and lets go of Nitrim's elbow, her back meeting the hard trunk once more, and then her head also thunks against it. "Sir Thalo specifically said to not go running around in a disguise where I can get killed. It doesn't matter if it's the blue cloak or a green one. I'd be disobeying orders." She shakes her head, "I can't win Sir Thalo's trust by deliberatly disobeying orders. My father wants me to tour the factories with him next week, though. I'm sure it's some kind of propoganda thing, but… I might be able to talk to a couple of people there, and see how things are going, even though they don't know who they're talking to." Her eyes close and she bites on her lip. "I won't pretend that I haven't wanted to, or been on the verge of doing it… telling myself he won't find out. But, I would know. It it wasn't for Morrigan, I might have broken down by now."

"Right, but you can get killed anywhere these days, and you're a damned fighter, Klaudea. So if his orders were to not go running around in disguise, then just go like I do, with a breath mask, a functional breath mask." Nitrim replies, nudging her knee with his elbow. "Either way, it wouldn't be a disguise and the factories are dangerous since the bombs went off. You shouldn't avoid these people you love." Nitrim leans back against the trunk alongside her. "But if you need me to go, they'd recognize me, wouldn't they? Whatever you need."

Klaudea rolls her head sideways against the trunk, looking to Nitrim, one corner of her lips pulling back sorrowfully. "I am a fighter, but I won't be able to do anything for anyone if I get dismissed from my squirehood and never become a knight. I haven't been working so hard to be a knight just so I can physically fight for the well being of these people, but so that I have the independent means to do so as well." She lifts a hand, scratching at the side of her head, then pushing through the long strands back, and tucking them behind her ear. "As long as I obey, I'm allowed on the general maneuvers with everyone else, and hopefully, I'll get the chance to prove I can be a knight and win my spurs."

Reaching to the center of his chest, Nitrim plucks a pendant from under the front of his shirt and brings it before his eyes for viewing. The oval-metal backing has been stamped with the image of a curling, cobalt-blue snake, much like the one he tends to in his apartments.

"If there's one thing I've learned, Klaudea," Nitrim's fingers pinch the last tie of the necklace and the pendant slowly begins to spin around, twisting the cord to apply a gentle tortion to the accessory. "Is that there is always another way. With a little time, creativity, or networking you can get anything done, really. So if you don't want to risk angering Thalo, then use what you've got. I know who these people are, for example." Nitrim turns his head to look at her. "You have that gentleman I've seen you with. I'm friends with the local lordship. Do you want me to work through Lady Johana on this, see what I can put together?"

Klaudea grins. "That gentleman is Morrigan," she replies, and a little tell tale blush creep up her cheeks. "He's Lady Doctor Elodie Cindravale's body guard, but when he has free time… we meet or he goes to The Alley. He has family of his own there, so no one questions his presence. And something about him being sworn to Cindravale isntead of Iah now means his restrictions on visiting his family have been eased, so he doesn't have to wear a mask anymore." She chews her lips as she considers his offer, folding her elbows inside her thighs and knitting her fingers together. "Perhaps," she allows. "Let me see what my father's visits are all about, and then, maybe I'll know more about what needs to be done."

"Morrigan's his name then?" Nitrim replies, the corner of his lip curling in an almost knowing, yet not punishing, smile. Eyes softening, he nods his head to her and turns, letting the pendant fall back to his chest. "I saw him protecting you during the fight in the streets, he looked good in the field." Nitrim adds, knees turning as he starts to rise beneath the canopy of the willow's heavy branches. His hand extends down, the fingers of his leather glove flexing to offer her a hand up. "I'm within mind-distance with you if you're within the city proper, Klaudea. Simply send me a quick message when you want to talk and spare yourself all of the typing."

"If he would stop getting skewered through the middle," Klaudea agrees, uncurling her arms to reach one hand up to Nitrim. She gives only a slight tug as she rises to her feet, then rises to her feet. At his revelation, she pauses, her eyes widening. "Really? You can… /reach/ that far?" She lets go of his hand to reach down for her cushions. "So who should go first and give the all clear?"

"I've got long arms, Klaudea," Nitrim smirks, eyes rolling over to whites as he tugs the hood back up over his head. Turning his back to her, he reaches out for the branches of the willow and pulls them aside, waiting for her to step through. Finding her easily, having connected with her before on the battlefield-alleys. "You'll have to message me first. It's only something I can connect out to you to open the thought-chain, since you're no Awakened."

Like this… Nitrim's mind brushes out to her, tapping quietly in greeting, as if knocking upon her door.

Taking the cue as he holds the willow branches aside for her, Klaudea steps out and heads towards the entrance. Hello, stranger, and her grin can be felt as she replies. She hugs the cusions and tablet to her chest, casually looking around at the splendor of the flora, before she adds, You'll be clear in five. There's a pause, and then a tinge of amusement. But not for long as she watches a couple furtively glancing around them as they walk down the path.

And now you see, Blue Sister, why I love espionage so much. An emotion much like a pleased grin settles over their mental communication, sharing emotion with thought for the duration of the ride. We can ear each other but they can't hear us. We can talk as loud as we want and be silent as snakes.

The five seconds passes and Nitrim slips out of the trees canopy quietly in the space behind the walking couple. None the wiser, they continue to ogle the gardens while Nitrim slips off in the other direction.

Brother Shadow to Blue Sister. Brother Shadow signing off. Over and out, killer.

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