Divale, Cascabel


This might be the origins of a sinister plan. Or it's an innocent talk in a courtyard.


It is afternoon of the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month of the thirteenth turn of the 12th pass.


Small Courtyard, Igen Bazaar

OOC Date 08 Apr 2018 04:00


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Small Courtyard

Secluded and quiet, this hidden spot of solitude is build at the juncture of three richer residential back doors. Short stairways to said residences are gated and bolted with thick locks that seldom see opening, and any who venture here never find themselves scolded for lingering. The health of the squat date palm surrounded by a sandstone planter in the center of the space attests to care coming from someone, however, as does the carefully swept state of the cream and blue tilework covering the ground. Stone benches alternate with small planters of desert succulents at the edges of the courtyard, interrupted only by a break in the stuccoed wall to mark the way out.

At this point, it would be hard for anyone to pretend they didn't know Cascabel was pregnant unless maybe they'd never seen her before; she is slender as ever except around the midriff, carrying low. Her walk has changed somewhat, and she tires more easily from sitting stiffly in a chair, hence her escape from the home as well as the shop to get some fresh air. Even if it is hot. And for Cascabel it is ridiculously hot; the flush of hormone shifts has her hair pinned up to her head, her veils currently left inside as no one is likely to bother her here. Especially not anyone male. Little Aquifolium may only be a month old, but he is trained well enough that Cascabel attempts to send the bronze off on what is hopefully a really simple mission: find Divale's Mercy, tell her she has a private moment here along with a pot of tea if they'd like to join them. However firelizards may communicate that to each other.

Finding Mercy won’t be an issue. Decoding the message may be trickier, as the now mature gold doesn’t immediately approve of little Aquifolium. Eventually it’s sorted out but Divale’s arrival is not immediate. Cascabel may be left to wonder if the Wingsecond will ever show, but eventually the brownrider will make her way towards the small courtyard; preceeded, of course by the firelizards. Dressed to suit the hot weather, she will be the one wearing the headdress today, but hardly the usual veils expected of women venturing the Bazaar. Divale wears covering mostly to keep the worst of the sun from her skin, which does not favor her by tanning first but burning if she is not careful. A wary glance is cast about the courtyard, but spying no one (visible) about, she will begin her slow, casual-seeming approach. “Unusual location but I suppose it will do.” she muses, no different than any typical greeting. And as her gaze is focused on Cascabel’s features… she has yet to register the change. It won’t be long.

At least Cascabel's pregnancy wasn't news to Divale, even if she hadn't been completely sure at the time they talked about it. It isn't a complete shock! Cas just smiles gently, canting her head down and explaining with a, "It's quiet. Technically private property," though if it's actually hers or not is anyone's guess. "I figured if you weren't busy, you might want to — come keep me company." Her and her bruised wrists, which she's not currently attempting to hide. "While I sit for another half hour or so and want to melt but at least do not want to fall asleep."

No, it won’t be entirely news but it’s one thing to hear a potential theory or worry of pregnancy and then be faced with the truth. “Assuming that anywhere is ‘private’ here is a mistake, Cascabel.” Divale’s careful to keep her voice lowered, as a point and not just her usual habit. The rest is met with a fleeting and vague smile, but she will settle near to her dear ‘sister’ and remain on edge despite her reserved demeanor. If they had met in private, she would relax a little but out here? Despite reassurances of “privacy”, it will take her awhile to be comfortable. “You know I will not deny your company, unless it conflicts with my duties.” The bruises are noticed first as she lowers her gaze and instantly her eyes narrow, mouth setting into a hard line as she peers up at Cascabel. “Is it just the heat you’re escaping?” she asks cooly. Then… then she notices her condition and Divale stares, while her eyes darken with withheld and mixed emotions. Shocked? Surprised? Hardly. However, bruises and the assumption behind their cause and then Cascabel’s advanced state, well… it makes for one unhappy Divale.

"Technically I have nowhere completely private, living in a crowded house and working in a crowded place — " Cascabel has no defense for the lack of total privacy, but she is doing her best. It's nice to have fresh air. She purses her lips for a moment and then shrugs her shoulders. "Not the heat, exactly, it is still hot, but the fact that the shop is crowded? Many bodies in a small space make for uncomfortable heat." She follows the brownrider's line of sight to the bruised wrist, then hangs her head a little. Now she looks guilty, even though it isn't her fault: "Eryem didn't do that," mildly, "His mother did. I hate her." Let's just throw that out there.

Divale scoffs lightly, “Fair enough. I forget how… limited you are in the realm of privacy.” How, how so much has changed! There may be some regret there too, that she is restricted in helping with that. She’d love nothing more than to steal Cascabel away somewhere (like her weyr) and in that way properly catch up without fear of being overheard or seen. This half-life charade is driving her crazy. Crazier, to be exact! Cascabel’s guilt has Divale instantly leaning forwards slightly, head tilted as she attempts to gain her attention without actually touching — she won’t risk what looks to be too personal of a gesture. “Cas.” Spoken softly, but with that ‘look at me’ tone. “It’s as much his hands as those of his mother’s if he doesn’t have the nerve to stop her abuse. None of which you deserve.” That admission to hatred? Brings a rare, fleeting and genuine dark smile to Divale’s lips. “Mhm, as you should.”

Someone would possibly notice Cascabel escaping to a weyr, and then again … maybe they wouldn't. But she'd be convinced enough that they were; she's certainly considered suggesting it and then becoming afraid to even ask. (Also, that would be presumptive; it isn't as if she's actually been invited!) She looks up to meet Divale's eyes and blinks a couple of times, expression tightening a little — though it's not at her companion. "He's harsher with me than I would have liked to admit," does that excuse her for not immediately doing so? "He rarely does anything physically. I think he's slapped me a couple of times, he's more just — rude and uncaring, usually. Hasn't laid a hand on me since I told him about — She's always been rough. She only stopped when her husband stopped her, and he's long gone." Not that long, really, but it feels like eternity.

Poor Cascabel. Pouring out her heart and confessions, while Divale’s expression remains as stony and impassive as the walls surrounding them. That isn’t to say there are tells of her current emotions; it’ll show in her posture, in the small change in the way her eyes narrow and lips press into a tight, grim line. She sighs and there is anger laced in there — not to her, but to the situation. Something far darker is looming too, but she is quick to build up a wall and cage what it is trying to suggest. “You keep trying to justify the acts, Cas. Whether he’s only slapped you or hasn’t since… “ A vague gesture to her rounded stomach. “Doesn’t excuse him or his mother.” She will hold the other woman’s gaze for a lingering second before exhaling and whispering tersely. “What are you going to do about it?”

"No," Cascabel agrees, because that's true, it doesn't. She just has never been sure what to do about it or how to cope with it other than being there and staying there for the sake of people who are no longer there and no longer need her. "I stayed and never protested because I was trying to help someone who was sick. No one else knew how to keep him comfortable. What I learned when I was younger — " She cuts off only because she doesn't want to name Divale's grandmother, but many of the techniques she picked up on were useful for reasons besides just offing people! "He is not here anymore and I want, I don't know what to do," she admits, sighing quietly, "but I want to go somewhere else and the baby — would, do you think the Weyr," Cascabel is still not finishing sentences, her tone turning into a shaky ramble giving away that she's not really on an even mental keel at the moment. "The Weyr keeps children in a group. People don't ask who their fathers are. He would be safe, and then I could …" Apparently this is where Cas' plan ends, because she doesn't know.

Broken sentences are of no consequence here. Divale can thread together what may be said or left unsaid and she does not chide or tease Cascabel for her scattered mind. Relief shows in a fleeting exhaled breath when Hellebore’s name is not spoken out loud; as though saying it here would summon the long-dead woman. Eyes widen slightly, briefly telling of her surprise for the suggestion that she would give her child up to the Weyr but here Divale does not argue. “The Weyr’s children — weyrbrats… They’re well cared for. Some mistakenly think they are lacking, but they do not go wanting for much. It’s not wholly unlike what we had.” she admits in quiet, hushed tones. Safety would be one thing, but there are many things barring Cascabel’s plan. Namely the living! Seconds pass and her expression twists to one of inner conflict as she mulls over thoughts too dark to voice, yet not wholly ignored. Leaning forwards and daring to be a few inches closer to her, Divale peers up at her, emotionless save for the vaguest smirk tugging at her lips. “If it’s help or guidance you seek, Cascabel… You need only ask?”

Cascabel might not have been entirely surprised if saying her name would bring her ghost back to actively torment them. She hesitates very clearly, eyes wide, finger going to the edge of her hair in contemplation, lock spun around her finger — at least she is no longer twelve and putting the hair in her mouth — before she gives a one-shouldered shrug. "I would have you take him there," she says, "where I could still see him, but not have to protect him all the time, if I thought I could get away." Which she clearly doesn't. "I have thought — I have wanted her to die, and would not mourn him either, but — " There's really no clear end to that sentence because there's no clear end to the thought. Unlike before, when she was simply having trouble selecting the right words, this is an actual lack of conclusion. "I would be blamed, I think, if … anything were to happen to them. Or killed with them. Some families do that." It's not a logical fear, entirely, as the family she has been tied to isn't one of them.

Divale has to catch herself before she smiles for that familiar hair-curling fidget of Cascabel’s. Luckily, there is plenty said and unsaid that occupies her thoughts and has her looking grim and all the more tense. Eyes narrow beneath furrowed brow and she will glance subtly about to be sure they’re still ‘alone’ here. “This is why I wish we could talk,” she mutters under her breath. “We shouldn’t be discussing this in half measures. There… are ways to rectify the situation you are in, Cas.” And there’s no need to elaborate that NONE will end up being good for her husband or mother in law. Her expression darkens considerably for the threat of losing her and all it takes is a lowering of her gaze to Cascabel’s curved belly. “I don’t think they would risk a potential heir.” Spoken with such confidence and before it can even hang for too long between them, she adds: “Are their any health ailments with your husband or with her?” She who shall not be named.

"How, where would you be comfortable," Cascabel starts to ask, and then keeps talking before Divale gets to actually answer, as per usual: "I know. I mean, I know they wouldn't risk him — that's why I want to get him away, before she can put her matriarch claws in him, before he can become harsh like him. His father was a good man, his younger brother is … better." And closer to Cascabel's age, yet never considered as a match for her! "There's nothing I know of, but she is getting older, and her husband had cancers. If you wanted to talk somewhere else … I wouldn't know how, or when, or — but I trust you." It's definitely not a great day for Cas' words coming out in a reasonable order, but it seems she's keeping the conversation moving well enough.

Divale knows well not to interrupt Cascabel when she starts to talk. Some things never change? She will listen, even as her jaw sets and it is a constant inner struggle not to let certain emotions take hold and control. Lukoith is weighing in heavily too, leaning hard in the darker recesses of her mind. Listening. Finally, a small little potential tidbit is offered and Divale’s eyes flicker with a brightness that is anything BUT good. “If only we could find a private room to talk, but you and I going anywhere would raise suspicions. My weyr is out of the question. There is…” She frowns hard. “An abandoned cavern in the Weyr. And there is always Mercy.” Her firelizard. Old memories are jogged and her head tilts as she keeps her gaze focused solely on Cascabel. “Do you remember our old codes?” It wouldn’t be a huge surprise that they didn’t all develop their own cryptic way of writing. What would look like random snippets of poetry or some half finished ballad (that would have all been Ravannae’s doing) to all, it would mean something entirely different to them.

Interrupting isn't always bad, especially if Divale can find the words Cascabel can't place when she's feeling more frantic; this time, though, even she doesn't entirely know what she's saying so it would be fairly difficult to guess. "I think I could still read them better than I read normal Pernese," Cas admits, because while she's gotten very good with numbers, words are an occasional sturggle. She rarely needs them, see, and Divale and her father in law are the only people who really ever tried to help her with reading. Perhaps Ravannae, too, and her poetry. "I'm pretty sure Mercy is … not a fan of Aqui's, but he's a baby yet, and she could likely pass things back and forth just fine without his help."

“They were a Master work, weren’t they?” Divale admits, whisper soft and with a hint of something more laced beneath it. Sadness, perhaps? Cascabel would know about the bond between Divale and Rava and how deep that scar would run. “Mercy will tolerate Aqui for now. The timing may be better, before he matures.” she points out and, shifting her posture a bit, takes another glance about the surrounding area. It’s made to look casual and natural, rather than the constant near-paranoid fidget. “We shouldn’t linger here much longer but if you are serious about this, Cas? I will help you… as much as I can. But this has to be something you want without doubt or question.” Because there is no turning back and Divale will not risk the slightest chance of things crumbling apart and being traced back to her. Harsh reality, but not unexpected either.

There's a very gentle, "I miss her," that escapes Cascabel's lips before she forces herself not to speak of it again. She only misses a friend. There was something stronger with Divale, and she shouldn't let herself dwell on it lest it cause the brownrider more pain. "I missed you," she reiterates, just in case she might think otherwise, "And I'm glad you found me. And I am serious. And I know you'll protect me and — I will do the same." Nothing will ever be traced back to her. Cas will take the hit first.

“So do I.” Divale doesn’t share much in the way of emotions of late, but she will extend that much to Cascabel. “I miss them all and you as well.” She wasn’t too concerned whether or not she was missed but that revelation won’t sink in until much later. Her mind is far too focused on what they did and did-not discuss. It’s a dangerous, risky path they’re about to embark upon and she will later have her doubts over whether or not it should proceed. The only thing that will keep her from breaking away will be the continued visible bruises on Cascabel’s skin and the slow, burning anger of what happened back in Lemos so many Turns ago. She won’t ever be able to enact her true revenge but perhaps this will be enough to allow some healing. “I never thought I’d ever see you… or anyone, again. Hellebore made it clear you had all perished and I had no reason to doubt her, then.” While she won’t have the nerve to full on embrace her, Divale will at least sneak a brief touch of fingers to Cascabel’s arm; a rare display of affection in such open a space. “I will send Mercy to you then, in a few days. I should return to my duties, less anyone grow suspicious of what’s kept me. Though…” And here she smirks with some dry humor. “I could always say I was concerned about your state and the heat.” Neutral enough, right?

At first, Cascabel might have doubted that Divale cared anywhere near as much for her, but even if that had been true she wouldn't have minded any and would have felt just the same in response. Theirs is a strange, deep bond, however, and she no longer doubts. Divale just shows feelings strangely. Cas is, and was, learning to read it. "I was as good as, really, I mean, I could have been killed. Sold was just more worth it." Remember that Cascabel has a biological family. It was probably at least halfway their fault, and what is there to say about that? "Yes," she agrees with a smile, "Of course you were just worried about some pregnant woman you'd seen a couple of times. I could have passed out."

Very strangely (or not at all), Cascabel is already far better at understanding Divale’s emotions than most. It will definitely work in her favor, later, should everything go as planned. That earlier smirk morphs to more of a vague, wry smile as she moves and offers Cascabel her arm. As is proper (techncially for a man) but it at least fits in the roles they’re supposed to be playing. “Of course,” she muses. “Which is why I will offer my escort to where you need to go.” Nothing amiss or wrong with that, though she leaves it for her to decide how she’d prefer to return home. Never mind that Divale feels a sharp biting moment of conflict to be the one to bring her back to that Hell.

It is also proper for one's guard, and if Cascabel had married just a little wealthier, she might have merited one. Not so, thankfully (or un-thankfully, depending). "So very kind," she says with a broad smile, inclining her head down briefly in the way one nods to a man of respect. Or a dragonrider. Though Divale's the first one of those she has had more than one conversation with. "I do appreciate it." She can have the emotions, playful and otherwise, for both of them. Cas seems to be walking toward the spice shop rather than the house, but it's probably a little less uncomfortable in there. The door is at least kept open.

Divale says nothing, save to respectfully incline her head and gently take Cascabel’s arm within her own. It’s likely an excuse just to be close to her without making it seem odd and the brownrider will take what she can get! All too soon, they’ll approach that spice shop and, to keep with appearances, Divale will make “small talk” (yes, she can do it, if she makes herself focus on it) and all the appropriate farewells before leaving Cascabel to her tasks. The heat of the day is bearing down and with no reason to linger, Divale will disappear back to her own duties and with her mind a working hive of dark and conflicting thoughts.

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