A Picture to Elicit a Thousand Words - RPLOG
It's a sunny afternoon. Not too hot, not too cold, at least for the time of year. Flora is currently standing in front of a small wall decorated with uncategorized family-portraits in the back, doubtlessly standing in front of one of them... Waiting for someone to arrive, perhaps? It certainly doesn't seem she's busy with the portraits right now, having her back turned to them.
"I really do know the way by myself, you know," Fenris says as he is escorted by two LongTech guards into the Ballroom, "I really don't see why I need the armed escort every time I come to visit."
The big tiger saunters along and looks over the wall of portraits that Flora is ignoring before sweeping into a deep, theatrical bow. (Bow 7, for high ranking nobility, but still sort of impertinent.) "And what can this lowly performer do for the Highlady today?" he asks, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"Company, and House policy, Fenris. No-one goes in or out of the Manor without the guard knowing it, and no-one who doesn't work here gets to roam the halls," Flora points out, a smile on her lips, tails swaying behind her. She's very purposefully not leaning against the wall, though she does hold a relaxed, slightly backwards-leaning stance.
"Tell Flora about the people Fenris traveled with in the past. The jadelands, in particular, yes."
Fenris raises an eyebrow at the request. "Are you looking for something in particular?" he asks, "I spent quite a few years in the Jadelands. I assume that you are not just asking to hear stories about my youthful wanderlust." The tiger folds his arms and peruses the portraits while he gathers his thoughts.
"Not yet. Start at the start. Flora'll ask if something of interest comes up, yes," the she-cat rumbles with a smile, tail still swaying behind her... Flora -is- moving slightly, almost purposefully blocking that small bit of wall behind her from sight.
Fenris shrugs, then scratches his fluffy chest as his gaze turns inward. "I stayed in Auroon for a little bit," he reminisces, "I had a job as a ship's cook. That is what took me out there in the first place. I kind of thought that I would just stay with the ship and sail on with her. The Hanged Man's Beautiful Daughter. That was the name of the ship. Sort of strange and a little creepy, but the captain was a good sort and willing to take on a young man on his own."
The tiger shakes his head. "Didn't happen that way, though," he says, "We were in port for two days when word arrived that the ship had been sold and the crew relieved of duty. Not really a problem for most, since most would be quickly hired back on, but I felt like it was a sign that I should find something new. I found my way to the Yamauchi family shortly after that."
Flora nods, her tail swaying lightly behind her as she listens. "Ships tend to have... Somewhat strange names, no? And captains aren't happy when you want to refer to their ship differently, even if you charter it," Flora concludes, tail twitching lightly... She's probably referring to the airship she's chartered twice now...
Still, she listens with perked ears, her tails twitching behind her.
Fenris smiles at Flora's observation. "I spent several years with the Yamauchi family, far away from the capital city of Auroon," he continues, "In some ways, they became a second family to me. Master Yamauchi was a great teacher. He taught me to fight, and he taught me how not to fight." The tiger pauses for a moment. "I was. . . angry, and lost after the shadow attack. That was part of why I went to the Jadelands. It was as far as I could think to get from Sweetwater, where it all happened. Master Yamauchi taught me to find peace again."
A smile, a nod, and a flick of her tail as Flora continues listening, her ears flicking lightly. "And Fenris spent all of his time at the... Yamauchis? Is Flora saying that correct?" the she-cat offers. She's definitely placing the emphasis wrong, but she's trying, darn it.
"Flora imagines Fenris would spend -some- time not training, yes?"
Fenris smiiles at Flora's pronunciation. "No," he says, "But you are close. They are the Tiger clan of the Jadelands. Sort of like our noble families here in Sweetwater." The tiger rubs a hand over his face. "And of course I was not ALWAYS training. I worked for a little restaurant to pay for my room and board, and there were always things to do in the city. I actually spent a lot of time with the Master's children. He had a son and a daughter, both younger than me. They became like surrogate siblings to me. And there were a few people from the town that we ran around with. Some locals, some foreigners. It was a good time."
A smile and a nod. "Anyone in particular that stood out?" Flora offers, her head canted lightly to the side. She certainly doesn't want to steer the conversation -too- much, in any case. That tail still sways, and she continues listening.
Fenris frowns and turns his attention on Flora. "What is this about?" he asks, "I feel like you have something that you want me to say, but I'm really not sure what it is. Remember, this was a long time ago. Probably before you were born. That is a lot of thinking back to do."
The tiger bites his lip in though. "Well, there was Fatty Danuke," he says, "My boss's son. The Hopps brothers, acrobats that stayed on to entertain the main family. There was Manny Undertow, a retired seaman who like to follow us 'young folk' around. Good sport, he was." He looks thoughtful for a moment, then snaps his fingers. "Then there was Iris and her brother," he says, "Kind of a weird pair. I actually don't think that they were brother and sister, but that is what she told people. Funny story, they are actually the reason that I never drink alcohol."
"Flora doen't suppose there was a... Lily?" the tigress offers, as she steps aside for the fist time since Fenris's arrived, revealing the small painting Hugo'd had delivered to the Manor a day or two ago.
"Fenris will have to talk about Iris and her brother sometime later," the she-cat concludes, smiling lightly as she waits for Fenris to observe the picture of the white-furred panthress.
Fenris looks at the painting.
And looks at the painting.
"That. . . " he starts, then starts again, "That is uncanny. And when I say uncanny, I mean Iris. Or someone who looks just like her." The tiger looks from the painting to Flora. "Where did you get this?" he asks.
"Uncle Hugo. He called her Lily. So... Flora would like to know about Iris. Or Lily," Flora offers, as she moves to the small table that has been set up nearby before, gesturing for Fenris to join her... There's no more picture to obscure, after all.
"Hugo?" Fenris asks, moving to join Flora, "Hugo Snowmane? Really?" He settles into a seat and turns to look over his shoulder at the painting again. "Lily, hmm?" he muses, "I never really believed that Iris was her real name. She was. . . " he ponders a little before continuing, "mysterious. She liked to keep people on edge. She and her. . . brother, were always pushing the limits. The rest of us would hike in the mountains or attend performances or try new food. They always wanted to do riskier things. Climb towers, sneak into places that we technically shouldn't be. I am pretty sure that she never paid for a meal or a ticket to a show with her own money. But she was. . . I don't know. . . charismatic, I guess. She could usually talk her way into and out of anywhere. Or anything, for that matter."
"Hugo Snowmane," Flora confirms, nodding lightly, tails swaying behind her. "Flora would imagine Lily is also a pseudonym, but given that uncle hugo is family, it is likely... Closer to her real name?" Flora offers with a shrug, leaning back in her chair lightly. "Flora sees. Please, go on, yes," she offers, even as she flags a passing servant, and gestures to them to fetch some drinks for the two... Tea, probably.
"I don't know that there is much more to tell," Fenris admits, "Whatever her name is, that is definitely her. I mean, white panthers are hardly common, are they? And, like I said, she was pretty distinctive." He considers the secretive smirk on the painted panther's face. "Who knew Hugo was such an artist," he says, leaning on the table, "It's an incredible likeness."
Fenris shakes his head and returns to his story. "Like I said, there is not much more to tell. Iris, or Lily, or whatever her real name was decided that she wanted to be included in our group, and what she wanted, she got. And if she did not get it, her brother made sure that she DID get it after all." He runs a hand across his chin thoughtfully. "They did not stay for very long. A few months was all. One night she threw a party for us all. Provided the finest foods and finest drinks that could be found in the whole country. I only wish I could remember anything but the beginning. We were all having a good time, and the next thing I remember is waking up in a bed that was not mine with a headache that no one deserves and the landlord banging down the door to collect on a bill that took me the better part of two months to pay."
The big tiger shakes his head ruefully. "Never touched anything stronger than water after that day," he chuckles.
"And I never saw Iris or her brother after that either," he adds, "Vanished like smoke, the both of them."
Flora nods, her tails swaying behind her. It doesn't take all that long for the tea to actually arrive, and soon enough, there's two cups set aside. "What was Lily like, other than what Fenris already talked about? And did her... Brother have a name?" Flora asks after a while, taking a short little sip from her drink.
"Fenris remembers nothing at all in between?"
Fenris laughs openly. "Nope! The night is a complete blank. I will never touch alcohol again. That lesson stuck with me. Everyone else teased me about it for months. But they were hardly any better off." The tiger pauses to pour an ungodly amount of sugar into his tea before giving it a little stir and taking a sip.
"I've been trying to remember," he confesses, "I just can't think of what his name was. We all called him Shadow. Because he was Iris's shadow, right? Everywhere she was, he was right behind." He gestures at the painting on the wall. "Only thing that Lord Snowmane got wrong, if Iris and Lily are the same woman," he says with a smile.
Flora nods, again. Another sip, a small sigh. "Flora sees. Though, that helps, the cat offers with a small smile, a flick of the ears. "Flora is trying to figure out where these portraits belong in the family-tree. To give them a proper place in the house. Uncle Hugo offered this picture, and the story he gave -seemed- to include Fenris. Not by name," she offers with a shrug. "Flora will have to do some more research, but this helps, at least, yes."
"I wish I could be more help to you," Fenris says, looking over the collection of portraits, "But they were secretive. Iris was smart, and always in control, but she did not share much. Looking back, I don't doubt that the both of them might have been Longtails on the run. I could do a little bit of digging around, if you like. After all, there can hardly have been many white panthers in the line. Right?"
"Flora has already scheduled an appointment with the Spyguard. Flora would prefer to do... Family-research through official channels. For the most part, at least. If Fenris remembers anything, though, Flora would like to know it, yes."
Fenris raises his teacup in salute before slurping down the sugary concoction. "Of course," he says, "I'm always happy to help." The tiger starts to stand, then stops halfway up. "Was there anything else you needed?" he asks, waiting before he leaves the table.
"That was it, as far as Flora's concerned, yes. If Fenris has to leave, Tom can escort Fenris to the gates, yes," she offers, flagging a passing guard, and gesturing at Fenris, a smile on her lips. "Flora will let Fenris know if Flora finds something out, yes."
Fenris nods and stands. "Alright, Tom!" he says, holding out his hands as if waiting for manacles to be slapped on his wrists, "Take me away!"
The tiger can't help but stop to consider the painting once more before he lets himself be escorted from the manor.