An Interesting Development - RPLOG
It's a long trip down into the belly of the earth, down below the hustle and bustle of the city barracks. The trip here has been interesting - through a number of illusions and tricks meant to hide the entrance to the winding stairwell that stretches downwards, and at the end of it all, a heavy gate of what looks like Creator Steel that looks like it would have been ripped straight off the Ark. But that would be desecration, would it not?
None of Flora's escort touches her, but still stick close to the tigress, enough to invade her personal space a little too aggressively. Just in case. Just in case. An exception has been made for her, considering her station - the blindfold has been done away with, but the stern looks of her escort make clear of the consequences should she let her tongue wag thoughtlessly.
Flora nods and smiles faintly, her tails still flicking behind her, and her ears twitching lightly. She's looking straight ahead, giving the two spyguards as little reason as possible to come any closer, reprimanding her, or anything else she mightn't like. Of course, she's going to be remembering this route, like it or not, so the blindfold wouldn't have had any use anyways, as she tried to point out earlier on.
At the creator steel gate, both of Flora's escorts bide their time a while, saying nothing, doing nothing, and gesturing for Flora to do the same. At some unseen signal, the gates slide open with a hiss, and the three of them enter what appears to be a main hall.
The Spyguards' enclave is not large, and for good reason. Within a single kingdom, few beings - perhaps not more than a hundred - exist with the dedication and intensity required to be admitted into the highest ranks of the intelligence service, and most of them are out at any one time. A few tables have been arranged on the west side of the hall, and it's to one of these Flora's escort ushers her, stopping in front of a red fox and bowing before melting away into the background, leaving Flora alone.
"Good morning, High Lady Longtail," the fox says, all nine of his tails lazily swishing behind him as he invites Flora to sit at the table. A small, placid smile plays upon his muzzle as wrapped hands move to pour out a bottle of wine - no, not wine, it is juice - into two glasses. "I am Spymaster Edmund Sirus Solacious the Eighth. The King has personally approved your request for an audience, and I am cleared to answer - within reason - any questions that you may have regarding your house and history, amongst others."
Flora smiles softly, her ears flicking and her own quartet of tails swaying behind her. "Flora appreciates the opportunity, yes," the she-cat rumbles as she moves to the table, her ears flicking and her eyes cast around the room, before she takes a sip of her juice. "Sir Solacious is... Well-informed, yes. Flora wouldn't expect anything less, of course, from the head of the Spyguards, no."
"Flora has many questions, of course. Where Flora can find, or avoid the rest of Flora's House, where those may be found that can be swayed to support the new direction, whom to avoid, and so on, yes."
"Of course. Directly down to business, I see. All work and no play. Are you sure? I could tell you how my associates and I worked to trace down your history. It was quite troublesome retracing your steps from when you were quite literally pushed off the cart, I can assure you of that. But well, if you're certain of your desires...
"You will understand that after your grandfather's attempted coup fifty years ago, what remaining Longtails used the existing Spyguard network of affiliates to escape the Goods' retribution, primarily to other nations - you will remember that you yourself were found in Shralesta. Afterwords, they sealed off those contacts from us, instructing them not to cooperate with the new management - my grandmother was the one who informed the Goods of the time about the attempted coup, which otherwise might have very well succeeded. She, as one might put it, got accelerated promotion.
He takes a sip of his own juice. "Those Longtails - likely to be low on the ladder of things - who remain in Sweetwater are likely to be embedded with the underworld, or otherwise in hiding. I can see if I can dig up something in our repository for you, if you're interested."
Flora raises a brow lightly, before shaking her head. "Flora will hear that story /after/ those things Flora came here for, yes... Presuming sir Solacious still feels willing to convey it, of course. And of course, Flora has found several parts of, well... What remains of the old Longtail archives, degraded over the years as they were. With permission, Flora would like to look over, and transcribe those copies that were taken in by the Spyguard... They may no longer be relevant, but... It should give some insights, yes."
Again, she looks out over the table, nodding faintly, still swaying her tails. "Flora would appreciate that as well, yes... Other things that might be of use are the family's tactics, methods, and associates... Even if they are no longer cooperative, knowing of their werabouts might help in the long run, yes."
Slightly disconcertingly, Sirus' small smile hasn't shifted throughout the whole exchange, more a mask than a face. "Very well, High Lady. In fact, I'd thought you might want that, so I sought permission from the King to have copies made of the House's geneaology and histories. He felt it was important for you to learn from the past so that mistakes are not repeated. You may collect them before you leave - but a word of warning: in their escape, you ancestors destroyed many of the records that would incriminate or otherwise be used to track them down, putting them to the torch. What we have may not be much better than your own resources.
"Moving on to other matters. Associates are one thing. Those have largely turned their backs on us when the Longtails defected, and so I am at libery to give them to you. Fifty years is an eternity in this business. We had contacts in Shralesta, Thera'dor, further abroad...even in that stupid island hellhole to the south. Trading houses, shippers...and of course, diplomats. All excellent covers for informants. A list will be prepared."
"Methods and tactics, though...you will understand that what we do here currently is based on the work of your House in times past, and that we cannot reveal our methods to those not of our fold. Not even to you, High Lady, who if not for a quirk of fate, may very well have been sitting where I am today. You would have to be one of us for me to divulge our methods to you, I'm afraid."
Flora shakes her head lightly. "What you have... At least it is properly preserved, yes? The remnants of what Flora has... Torn, damaged, and so on. Flora is sure it should assist."
As far as the family's... Tactics go... Flora would figure they'd shift, now they are no longer in an official position. Flora is... More interested in the current state of affairs, than in the tactics they held fifty years ago, which Flora will presume have shifted... Of course, if such is classified, Flora will simply have to figure them out by prolonged observation."
"And Flora will have to decline that outcome. If Flora is honest... Flora would've preferred to not sit in either chair. Flora would've preferred to simply study the world and discover the things hidden in plain sight," she mumbles, sighing lightly.
"What one prefers, and what is, are unfortunately two different things," Sirus says with a small sigh, the first time the smile's vanished from his face. "The histories state that it was customary that while the eldest Longtail would take the head of House, one of the younger siblings would be trained as Spymaster or mistress. And a lot of intelligence is simply studying others and discovering things in plain sight. The mindset, the eye for detail, the inquisitiveness...it may run in the family. Once one knows how to look at things in their proper light, everything lies out for one to see. It's hardly the tales of derring-do that one finds at the theatre."
"As I mentioned, there are still Longtails embedded in Sweetwater's underworld. The Thieves' Guild, for one. Without funding from the Crown, they've had to resort to business both legal or otherwise to fund their activities. Of course, those are unlikely to be sympathetic to your cause. There are a few others - those who were cleared of having any part in the coup, and simply retired as smallholders, others who became vagrants, and yet others who were suddenly left homeless and penniless. Guy, whom you just recently met with, was the son of such Longtails, cast adrift in the middle of it all."
Flora raises a brow, her tails flicking behind her. "Either Flora misheard, or sir Solacious just implied that Flora is not, in fact, the eldest, or even only child?" she rumbles intriguedly, her tails flicking behind her, and her ears twitching atop her head.
Her eyes cast towards one side of the room in silence for a moment, her tails still flicking behind her as she ponders her next question. "Flora would prefer the wereabouts of the Longtails in Sweetwater as a list, sorted by the likelyhood that they can be swayed by Flora, yes."
"On that note... Flora would also like the wherabouts of those in Thera'Dor as soon as possible, and a list for Cliffside will have to be maintained... Flora will need it in a few months."
"Those Longtails remaining in Sweetwater, I can provide for you, although I personally feel it will be an uphill battle convincing them to take your side. On one condition: you do not tell them who sent you. Most of them have settled down into comfortable lives, descendants like you are, and have no wish to change their current situation. Still, you may try.
"The latter list, I can have ready for you shortly. Give me a week or two, and it can be ready - but understand that information does not stay fresh for very long. The closer to the date that I pass it along to you, the more likely the information will still be relevant.
"And as for your last question...what do you remember of your childhood, High Lady? What are your first memories?"
"Of course... Flora will pick the list up on the date of departure. If there is any possibility of recieving an up-to-date copy in any city Flora may visit, Flora would appreciate it, yes."
"As for the latter... Flora remembers living on the street... Flora remembers hardships... Having to steal bread... Flora didn't particularly enjoy that part..."
After having spent most of her morning in the armoury maintaining her armour and sharpening her weaponry, but once it was all said, done, and rearmed, Lucasiel makes her way out into the primary room proper and slows to a stop. "Ahhh. Flora." She was not quite certain she had wanted the high lady to know of her involvement here just yet, presuming she didn't already know before. "Spymaster," she says by way of simple greeting before looking between the two.
Sirus gives Lucasiel a small nod of his head, all nine of his tails swaying lazily. "Please. If you will, and the Lady Longtail is fine with it, join us. We are speaking of matters of her family...and if you are involved, it will warrant your attention."
"Now, High Lady. As I said, at the King's request, we tracked down your identity, first from the ship on which you arrived, to your mentor, and further back...there was a bit of a rough spot where you were living on the streets of Shralesta - few remember yet another alley cat, after all. But the first mention we ever found of you was from an eyewitness who saw you quite literally fall off the back of a caravan. Or perhaps you were pushed. The poor being's memory was clouded after all these years.
"We traced down the caravan firm with considerable difficulty - by then, the original propreitors had passed away, and their daughters were left in charge. Nevertheless, the passenger manifest from all those year ago...clearly delineates the number of families travelling out, with one of them having suffered from one of the daughters having vanished en route. You."
A nod, a small smile, and a mumble. "Flora will... Indeed need a copy of the genealogy. It seems Flora's records are far from complete," she mumbles after a while, before nodding faintly, her tails swaying lightly, trying to process this information in her head, trying to form the next question, as she mumbles. "So... This suggests Flora has a sister, yes... Or multiple siblings... Is there a complete record?"
Lucasiel leaves her helmet tucked under her arm, nodding as she makes her way closer. The normally jovial panther looking the somber and serious opposite while down here. At the mention of records, her brow perks as she recalls something. She brushes her cloak aside, and pulls open her satchel to withdraw a bound leather tome, offering it to Flora. "In addition to the material I provided before, I took the liberty of making a copy of my own notes I had made on the Longtails I encountered during my absence. Perhaps it will also be of used to you?"
Sirus pours out a little more juice into his own glass, and produces another one for Lucasiel seemingly out of thin air. A kitsune trick, or just very good sleight of hand? Who knows? "The official records, High Lady, ended with your grandparents. The unofficial records...he makes a few gestures in the air. "Please, when we are done, ask Lucasiel here to take you to the records room and ask for number six-thousand and forty-three. It is the passenger manifest from said caravan. Draw...your own conclusions. And Lucasiel...don't forget to add anything new to the records. I'm not against sharing within reason information with the High Lady, but we have our own purposes, too."
Flora nods and flicks her ears lightly as she looks through the booklet, nodding faintly. "Flora appreciates it, yes," she rumbles with a smile, before flicking her ears, her tails still swaying lightly.
"In addition, Flora would also like to repay the spyguard with a gift, and an offer. Flora trusts the spyguard have heard of LongTech Industries' Camera, considering it was the object that reinstated house Longtail," she rumbles, before procuring an elegantly crafted model from her bag.
"This one, of course, is a gift. Further cameras would have to be purchased. Flora will also gift a set of ten picture-slides, to test it out. Flora suggests bringing them to Longtail Square once taken, so they can be developed. Instructions for the use of the camera are provided within the package, of course. If satisfied, Flora would like to talk business, later, yes," the she-cat rumbles softly, her eyes gleaming lightly. "In addition, Flora realizes that the Spyguard would not want LongTech Industries to develop their pictures, due to their sensitivity... As such, any contract would come with training, while LongTech Industries would provide the supplies, as needed."
"Flora will not need an immediate answer... Now, if there is nothing else? Flora would like to see these records, yes."
Lucasiel accepts the glass of juice from Sirus, nodding her thanks. "Of course, Sirus. I have added what I could already. It is not much. Of those vagrant and transient Longtails, I've met only a handful. And it was over my twelve years of being gone. But I have added it all the same." She looks towards Flora and smiles softly. "If you'd like. I am prepared to take you."
"I've heard of your inventions, and was planning to procure some through House Solacious...but directly will do just as well." The box is accepted with good grace. "I'm sure we can work something out. In the meantime, please expect to find a preliminary report on Thera'dor Longtails delivered to your desk within two weeks.
"Otherwise, I think this meeting is at an end. You have my leave to take the High Lady to the records, Lucasiel."
Flora nods and takes her leave, her tails flicking behind her still. "Of course... Do stop by the manor. Flora will let the guard know that you are permitted to enter... With escort, of course. Several of LongTech Industries' research-subjects would be no good to us if we'd just allow anyone to view them, after all. Flora is sure the head of the Spyguard understands."
Lucasiel gestures along for Flora with her glass of juice before moving off towards the record room. "As you say, Sirus. Right this way, please, miss Flora. I guess my little 'secret' is out to you now. I do trust that you won't go sharing such information? It'd make my job a bit more difficult!"