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 Post subject: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 9 Posted
PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:36 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 72
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Since I'm just about done with My Dark Disquiet, here's the first part of my latest piece. I got ten chapters done already and at least ten more planned out(but I doubt I'll stop there, things have tendency to drag out with me).

• Title - The Vaesen and the Society
• Author name – Rutkowski
• Rating - Teen
• Disclaimer - Some period-appropriate sexism and bigotry. Trying to be realistic while I also refuse to be exploitative. Images taken from the Vaesen RPG sourcebook
• Feedback - Always!
• Summary - The Society is being rebuilt and Rupert Giles is gathering those with 'the Sight' to help in the struggle to keep the people safe from the supernatural elements that rebel against increasing modernization and industrialization. Giants, Wood Wives, Mermaids, Werewolves, Revenants, Nissar and Fairies all react poorly as human civilization increase their reach into the wilderness. Caught between these clashing cultures are the regular people trying to survive in a harsh world and reactionary society.

Late 19th Century AU. That means no vampire slayers, no Hellmouth and no watchers but there's still magic, monsters, secretive orders and other supernatural elements.
• Notes - Okay, what you need to know:
Takes place in 19th Century Sweden
Sweden is at this time poor, kinda backward and in the middle of a period where about a third of it's people emigrate to North America
No Vampire Slayers and no Hellmouth but magic and mythical monsters exist and are a big part of the setting
Consider all characters to be speaking Swedish with varying proficiency unless otherwise noted
Many names have been 'Swedified' to fit into the setting. Most, if not all, should be easily recognizable though.
Gender roles are relatively accurate for the era but with some exceptions to prevent too restrictive storytelling
Images from the Vaesen RPG and some characters, quotes, scenarios, plot hooks and excerpts from the books will appear
First couple of chapters are kinda worldbuildy, sorry about that
Yes, 'worldbuildy' is a real word




Throughout history, supernatural Vaesen have lived side by side with the people of Scandinavia. But these creatures are not perceptible to human senses – unless they choose to be. Invisible, they have helped out on farms, assisted in calving, made sure that stray ewes find their way home, and kept people safe during harsh winters or wildfires, in exchange for some of the farms’ milk and grain. Vaesen have filled the fields with flowers, shown the way to ponds where people can see their future reflected on the surface, and whispered dreams into the ears of the sleeping.

In the nineteenth century Scandinavia is changed by industrialization, war, and revolutions, with new ways of thinking and understanding the world spreading through its universities. Old truths are being questioned. The rural poor are pouring into the cities or across the Atlantic to escape starvation, hoping to build a life where they can be free. It is no longer the nobles and priests who decide how people should think and act. Instead, those who are able to use the inventions of this new age can make a fortune and exert influence through their wealth. Factories are emerging around the cities, giving rise to vast suburbs where impoverished workers are crammed together in harsh conditions. The elderly are left behind in the villages, along with those too weak or scared to leave. Meadows become overgrown, forests are cut down, and the construction of railways between cities lays waste to paths and communities that have existed for centuries.

Glassworks spew out chemicals while the mines eat their way into the mountains like wolves feasting on a wounded animal. The Vaesen of Scandinavia are changing as well. The villagers used to know how to appease the creatures when angry and gain their help with farm work – for instance, they refrained from peeing on the ground where the vaettir have their burrows and provided the nisse with porridge and a new hat every year. But the old rules and traditions no longer seem to apply. The Vaesen have turned aggressive and bloodthirsty, snatching children from the villages, wrecking houses, and setting barns on fire. In certain parts of Scandinavia, the supernatural seems to have grown stronger and started acting erratically – like a storm sweeping over the farmlands.

There are rumors of kittens being born with two heads, streams where the water is mixed with blood, forests lulling young ones into eternal sleep, and fairies dancing through villages, luring youngsters into the woods to slave for those underground. In other places, the creatures seem to have disappeared from the countryside, as if they never existed, and magic along with them. It is also said that some Vaesen have followed people to the cities and found new homes in sewers and abandoned factories.

Some people in Scandinavia - and the rest of the world - are able to see the Vaesen even when they are trying to stay invisible. It is called 'having the Sight.' There are few of them. At some point they experienced something that scared or hurt them; maybe they almost died in a fire or a werewolf chose to reveal itself to them for their own enigmatic reasons. After that nothing was ever the same. Suddenly they could see nature spirits stealing food from the tables and trolls showing up uninvited to weddings and christenings.







Two kilometers away from the city of Upsala a motley group loudly made their way towards civilizations. They were an odd gathering on the best of days and today they stuck out from their surroundings even more blatantly than before. Three of the four strangers were covered from head-to-toe in black soot and were loudly expressing their discontent with the lone unblemished member of the party.

"There was no reason for you to change the plan, young miss Rosenberg. Mister Alex and I had the situation well in hand and if you had just kept to the plan none of this had to happen," the dark-skinned woman protested with a tone that would have ensured anyone overhearing their argument that she had already stated her opinion several times already.

The woman was a rarity in the city. Kendra Young had been born to children of slaves in Jamaica who saw their own parents joining and dying in the Baptist War, a slave uprising that was quickly crushed. Kendra's parents outwardly stayed out of politics but secretly had joined an underground resistance towards the British slave owners. When Kendra was twenty her parents were arrested and executed for their rebellion.

Kendra would've joined them at the gallows if she hadn't been able to flee to a local abolitionist, writer, and diplomat who offered her asylum. His name was Rupert Giles and together with his wife and fourteen-year-old son Alexander they provided solace and a family for the distraught young woman.

Soon the family moved to London and the Giles family employed Kendra as their chief of security at their small estate. The extended Giles family wasn't numerous but they were known to have influence in many different circles - both the politically powerful but also the obscure - within and outside the reaches of the British Empire. Kendra employed her expertise as a guerilla fighter within the resistance and skillfully protected the family for five years despite numerous attempts to assassinate both Rupert and his wife.

Just two years ago she had failed when a mysterious assassin managed to infiltrate the estates and murder the lady of the house in front of the eyes of both Rupert and Alexander. Rupert was at first arrested by the law as the main suspect but was quickly released due to lack of evidence(and a not inconsiderable amount of money spent on bribes). Both of the remaining Gileses claim to have no clear recollection of the appearance and identity of the murderer and rumors soon spread amongst the local gentry of conspiracies and skullduggery within the Giles family.

Just a month ago the two men moved to Upsala with their exotic employee and travel companion after Giles received an important missive from a long-lost friend. They were suddenly on a mission to rebuild Castle Gyllencreutz - a neglected old castle located on a hill by the Fyris river that divided the city of Upsala - and to resurrect what Giles called the 'East Aros Society.' They hired local constructors and soon after that Giles had recruited a young local engineer and savant that now formed the last member of the party.

Kendra was dressed in practical but elaborate armor that covered her torso, thighs and upper arms. While somewhat cumbersome the grey-brown protection had already proven it's worth throughout the years as she employed her considerable strength while she fought both man and monster with her trusty saber that she had sheathed in her belt. Otherwise she employed as unremarkable clothing as she could find in order to avoid sticking out in a crowd - despite her exotic skin and long black hair being a constant foil in the mostly Caucasian kingdom - and mostly wore drab colors that wouldn't make her stand out in most local terrains. Her only indulgence was the masterwork violin that never left her side. Her mother had taught her the art and it was a constant source of stability in the chaos that often formed her day-to-day life.

It was something she deeply regretted at this moment as the instrument had suffered the same fate as the rest of their equipment - a thorough packing in layers of black soot - and she just knew that she would have to spend considerable time to remove all traces of the intrusive contaminant.

"The plan didn't work, Kendra. The plan was for me to stay in the back and ring that small bell to make the giant think it was a church but as I warned you before; I'm not Christian like the rest of you. The giant only care if Christians ring church bells - if only my father was so lenient - and I'm very much not of the local faith," the only unsooted member of the group protested. Willow Rosenberg was a member of the local Jewish community and had grown up in the Jewish quarter of the university city. The only daughter of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg - the city's jeweler and watchmaker - she was the youngest of six siblings and had made national news last fall when she became the first woman in Swedish history to enroll at the renowned university.

It had taken a lot of effort and resources to earn that opportunity. Willow was know to be a strange and lonely girl who spent most of her time with books and in her father's workshop. Since an early age she had shown a remarkable talent in engineering and machinery which she had employed - despite frequent and loud protests from her mother - in order to become a part of the family business. Willow and Ira got along throughout her adolescence and she became more and more an integral part of his business ventures and when she approached him for support in applying for formal education he gave it without objection despite his lack of faith that she would be approved.

Society in Sweden at this time wasn't even attempting to be at the forefront of social movements. The royal family and parliament were both of the reactionary kind - even if some concessions to liberal movements were given to minimize dissent - and a woman weren't considered to be legally adult until she had been either widowed or granted a divorce(which were exceptionally rare at the time). Up until her marriage she'd be in the care of her father(and if he were no longer in the picture, the oldest brother or other close male relative) and once married she just transferred that role to her husband. Some invited foreigners were given special rights - the most noted local is the current chief at the asylum - but otherwise only special circumstances would afford those rights to any woman. Upsala was somewhat of an outlier, however, and both the local police as well as a couple of local governmental offices had recently begun to employ talented women of good families.

Ira and Willow were both smart and resourceful. Ira was able to summon support from not only the local Jewish community but also from those that lived in the capital and Willow's application quickly became a cause célèbre for the Jews living in the kingdom. By pushing the cultural and religious aspects - instead of her gender - on the application they gave the royal family an out where they wouldn't have to lose face. As such they granted Willow a slot in the student rolls in Upsala due to her faith without having to offer any similar opportunities to the country's native women as a consequence.

Sheila had opposed the venture from the start. She was a staunch conservative who saw her only daughter as a political marker to marry of to an influential family. In an ironic twist her principles on women's role in society led to her staying silent on the issue by command of her husband which resulted in her daughter becoming a noted figure for her political opponents. That the approval of Willow's application also led to the youngest Rosenberg becoming a legal adult was not something Willow or her father had opted to inform Sheila about and ever since then the two women hadn't communicated at all.

Willow didn't mind. She hated her role as nothing but a vessel for her mother's ambitions and despite her parents' insistence she didn't entertain any suitors and kept pushing back the date where she'd start looking at forming a family of her own. At first it was once she turned seventeen, then it was when she had her application approved or rejected and the most recent answer given had been when she would finish her studies. That she already had planned her next moving of the goalpost was something Ira suspected but hoped to dissuade. He had always loved and respected his daughter and tried to support her numerous eccentric ideas despite his own wishes that she'd one day settle down and help continue the family line. As a compromise - and to remain on good terms with her beloved father - Willow had conceded that she'd try to appear in at least one social gathering per month. Just in case she'd be proven wrong and she'd find someone that she could eventually settle down with.

As expected, Willow had other plans. She loved her father, despised her mother and tolerated most of her brothers. She hated being the youngest of a large family(but by far the smartest) and knowing that she would never be able to have the same ambitions and dreams as her brothers. So her 'coup' in convincing her father to support her further studies was the first time she really felt proud to be herself. She had never been one who had close friends - or friends at all really - and once she approached her mid-teens she soon realized that her peers only paid attention to due to her family's wealth and name and not for her intellect or personality.

Her first year of university studies had been rough. She had no naïve idea that she'd be accepted as an equal by the other students or the faculty but the notoriety that preceded the start of her schooling led to her being a frequent subject in derisive and satirical ballads in the student unions. When she was approached by the only professor who'd given her any kind of support just a week ago and offered a membership in the East Aros Society she didn't hesitate to join. She left her small student lodging and accepted the free lodging in Castle Gyllencreutz where she was put in charge of the library and equipment.

It was a role that she was looking forward to excel in. She had never been good with people and her lack of verbal discipline never failed to put her in dispute with both her peers and many authority figures. As a result of years of social faux pas's and the ostracizing at the university she looked forward to a job where she could spend time tinkering with her equipment and reading the books that had been her constant companions.

The small woman was only nineteen years old and in contrast to Kendra she stuck out from the crowd due to her small size and boyish clothes. She wore pants and a comfortable jacket under the green coat that provided much warmth this cold spring afternoon. The clothes were of her own design and were lined with protective leather and hidden pockets while still giving her the mobility her new occupation required. Willow's shoulder-length red hair was a visual marker of her family that gave her some leeway from harassment on the street from the law and religious leaders but also marked her as an outsider from regular society.

Even if her clothing hadn't been unique her equipment would make her stand out as she was walking back with her new compatriots. Her backpack was a gift from her father upon enrollment and held not only a small, portable laboratory but binoculars, a compass, a small tinderbox, a box of silver bullets, a couple of relevant books and even some paper and writing utensils. Mounted on the side of the backpack - in a holster she added just before the day's adventure - was a unique rifle of her own design.

It was a carbine with three rotating barrels that she had spent the last two years building in secret. She never thought she'd ever use it but after seeing the obsolete equipment the local garrison employed she wanted to see if she could design something that would provide reliability, accuracy and a steady rate of fire. Building the weapon - one she had affectionally dubbed a 'Rheinlander Carbine' after her family's German origins - had been an exercise in secrecy and fine workmanship. In general civilians were not allowed to carry weapons - especially not women and not in urban settlements - so she had to keep it in a small size which limited the potential range.

She also wanted to employ the revolver magazine design that became increasingly prominent in handguns and as a result she had three rotating barrels(to prevent overheating in extended engagement) with a nine-shot revolving magazine that gave her a reliable but complicated weapon that had no equals - as far as she knew. Of their group only Alexander knew about the weapon. The two young adults had quickly become friends and he had sworn to keep the existence of the carbine a secret until she was ready and willing to deploy it. She had brought the weapon with her - disguised as an umbrella attached to her backpack - but the brief but violent battle with the giant forced her to employ her considerable chemical skills instead and the hidden weapon remained just that; hidden.

"How does that work anyway," the tall young man queried. "did he just know it wasn't a real church bell or did he hear you curse in that weird language I sometime hear from the library at night?"

The dark-haired young man chuckled to himself and wiped off some soot from his large sledgehammer that he frequently employed as his primary weapon. Alexander Giles had always been a large boy and somewhat of a charmer towards the women he encountered over the years. In London he employed his muscled physique and jovial personality to court a number of attractive women but he rarely spent a large amount of time with any of them. Rupert was a strict man in regard to his son and although they both respected and loved each other the son's lack of interest - and talent - in academia was a scab in their relationship that never fully healed.

Alexander was not without his own abilities though. He made friends with ease and picked up the local language faster than anyone had ever expected. He was also a fiend when it came to reliable and quick construction and those talents were invaluable in the repairs of the castle that had become their new home. He was put in charge of the construction crew as soon as the family had arrived in Sweden and with the help of Willow's intellect they had already refined the already existing blueprints to ensure the castle would not suffer the same fate once again.

He got along well with Kendra as well. He had seen her as an older sibling for years and deferred to her leadership in both battle and planning. She appreciated his friendship as well and the two had developed a well-honed routine when it came to dealing with the prejudices of society. Despite Kendra's stronger talents in finding out what makes people tick it was often Alexander that strangers listened to as he was not only a man but handsome, charming and Caucasian. As such they often put up the front of Kendra being a hired help and offering discreet advice in situations where Alexander would be in over his head.

"I really don't know why Alex but I doubt it's the Yiddish that singled me out. I don't think there's some stealthy giant sneaking around and checking the church registrars and then sending out news bulletins to inform his friend and family just who they should be afraid of when employing the Christian religious symbols and who are nothing but heathens and heretics that should be ignored. What we can surmise from today's events however is that a lack of belief in Jesus seems to prevent me from being all chasey with the jingling of the bells. Wonder if someone of the Islamic faith would be able to-"

"Can you PLEASE shut up," Kendra growled through clenched teeth.

"Ken, please, Willow just answered my question. There's no reason to lash out like that," Alexander offered in an attempt to calm the growing frustration between the two women who hadn't managed to hit it off since becoming acquainted.

"If all three of you were to take a deep breath - or ten - then maybe the lingering frustrations after a day's hard work and exhausting conflict. Kendra was right - we had a plan. Miss Rosenberg wasn't entirely wrong either though; the plan had a fault that resulted in all of us being put in considerable risk and even though her quick application of the loud smoke bomb chased the giant away we would indeed be better off if she had warned us and the problem of the delinquent giant still remain as he fled the field and left us in the very literal dust."

The older man of the group smiled inwardly as the three younger members muttered different levels of acceptance to his judgement. Rupert Giles may be the black sheep of the Giles house but he was still a man that was able to command respect and influence in certain circles. The others didn't know of it but he had been a recruit of the old East Aros Society when it had collapsed decades ago. He hadn't been inducted to most of the secrets of the group and wasn't informed of the fates of most of the other members but he had been sent back home to England - and eventually to a diplomatic post in Jamaica - as a result of the collapse of the society.

Like the rest of his group he was one with the Sight. Ever since the mythical musician called the Neck had tried to drown him as a child during a vacation in southern Sweden he had seen the Vaesen that hide in plain sight. As a consequence his father sent him to Upsala as a young teen to become a part of the previous incarnation of the East Aros Society. Back then the group had over four dozen members and despite their headquarters being in a state of constant disrepair they worked relentlessly to keep society safe from the pestilence that Vaesen was for the common man.

But then it fell and he moved back to London where he became an aspiring writer for one of the local newspapers. He eventually engaged and married the love of his wife who gave him a son and soon they were sent to Jamaica to help reorganize the diplomatic station in the colony. He was fierce opponent of the institution of slavery - however - and spent a considerable amount of his wealth to buy and liberate slaves that he then employed as servants in his home. When the colonial government struck against the underground abolitionist movements he suddenly found himself in the position of someone who had offered implicit support of a lost cause and by transference, support against the crown's interests. Due to his family name he would never be imprisoned for his actions but he had attracted enemies amongst the local elite who did not put a kind eye on his abolitionist activities.

It was the offer of asylum and housing of the orphaned Kendra Young that formed the final incentive for the family to return home to London. They sold their estate at a loss and returned before the local governor could arrest the teenager for her part in the struggle against the institution of slavery.

When his wife was murdered half a decade later he felt like half his soul died with her. None other than Rupert and his wife would ever know how much they loved each other - not even Alexander and Kendra were privy to spectate their close affection - but just because they were private with their feelings it didn't mean it was just a marriage of convenience as was the standard at the time.

It was only because of Kendra and Alexander that he managed to survive in the two years that followed. He had managed to return to writing and kept to himself and his family while rumors surrounded their lives and history. When he eventually received the secret missive from his childhood friend Linnea Elfeklint he realized that it was time for him to make amends for the failures of his youth and rebuild the East Aros Society and protect the people of a country that had suffered in the decades since he had left.

And so he returned to Upsala and claimed the deed to Castle Gyllencreutz. He - with reluctant support from the local government - reactivated the old charter that gave the society the legal rights to pursue their sacred calling and keep the Vaesen at bay. Thus civilization could finally be able to claim the wilderness and provide safety and stability for the people in the Kingdom of Sweden.

Only this time - instead of a group of veterans and eager recruits - he had a brutish son, an escaped slave and a young but eccentric genius without any ability to control her verbal outbursts as the foundation for the society.

It was at times like this Giles was glad he enjoyed a challenge.

While he had his issues with the young miss Rosenberg's missing social tact and lack of mannerism he appreciated her complete dedication to her new role as a member of the society as well as the innate talents the woman held. He hadn't met her parents but due to her emancipated legal status and her request to not inform them of her new situation he saw no reason to break the trust she had given her. Her skill in discerning relevant facts and information in the wide range of tomes and texts the old castle library were starting to gather as well as her talents in the mechanical field made her an essential part of their new organization despite her other - oft notorious - shortcomings.

"Dad's kind of right, Will. There's no reason for us to continue arguing about this though, what's done is done and at least nobody was hurt," Alex offered as an olive branch. "Besides, the three of us have that shindig later tonight to clear our heads."

Willow groaned dramatically as she stared into the open sky in frustration. "Ughhh, thanks for reminding me. I forgot about the monthly concession to my dad, what is today's big event that I'd shame my mother if I bailed out on?"

"It's some pre-wedding celebration for one of the rich farmer families. Can't remember which one, I think it's one of the Irish families this time."

Kendra sighed audibly. "If any one of you were up-to-date on your social events you'd know it's the Maclays and the Doyles who are wedding their children in a week. And before you ask, none of us are invited to the actual marriage. I'm not invited because I'm of 'mud blood' - they didn't even sugarcoat it for me - while miss Rosenberg is too Jewish and you are too Anglican for their very Catholic tastes. They kind of had to invite all of us to today's event though; they'd loose too much face in the city if they didn't. Especially with your people, miss Rosenberg."

"Yeah, my dad's best friend does a lot of business with the farmers in that region so they won't dare insulting us by completely keeping me away. Why can't they insult us so I could just stay home?"

Alexander grinned at her. "Look at it this way, Will. If you didn't go today there's that Maydell ball in two weeks and do you really want to spend an entire day in formal clothing and classical music with that crowd?"

Willow demonstratively kicked a small rock that deflected at a boulder and hit her arm on the rebound. "Ouch," she whined while rubbing the area there self-inflicted projectile hit. "I guess you're right. I mean, it's just one evening and then I'm free for the entire month. At least I got you guys to keep me company, right? What's the worst that could happen?"

Willow never saw Kendra blanching behind her back at the prospect of spending an entire evening chaperoning the blabbermouthed redhead.




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Last edited by Rutkowski on Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:41 am, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject: A Wedding in Upsala
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:39 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
Posts: 72
Topics: 4
Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Seventy kilometers north of the Swedish capital of Stockholm and on the border of Norrland - where cities and villages are few and the wilderness endless - is where the renowned city of Upsala is positioned. North of the city the Mounds of Upsala signpost the border between the wild north and populated south of Sweden. The Mounds are ancient barrows from the sixth century where old kings were interred in glory and splendor and the area was one of the last outpost of the old Norse pagans when the country was Christianized.

As it was, the city was best known for its university, the oldest in northern Europe. Despite the city almost being burned to the ground in a fire that killed a fifth of its citizens in 1702 the city have recovered and modernized and was one of the leading cities when it come to the research into the natural sciences. Over ten thousand men, women and children live in the city - tiny compared to the rest of Europe but noticeable in the backward states of Scandinavia - and over a tenth of those are students. Despite its small size it's very cosmopolitan with scientists and workers from Europe making their mark on the city's culture as gas lamps lit the streets and the local newspaper - the Upsala Gazette - release new issues frequently and with established credence.

As the Archbishop of Sweden - Henrik Reuterdahl - had his seat in Upsala the Church holds great power. The gothic cathedral is the largest in Scandinavia and with a bell - Storan - that can be heard throughout the city. The altar cross contains a relic of the True Cross and a new gigantic pipe organ takes up an entire wall inside the cathedral.

The university campus is massive, thanks to the Gustavian patrimony. Back in the 17th century, King Gustavus Adolphus donated 400 farms owned by the crown - and their land - to Upsala University to fund the school and the research within. There are numerous grand and beautiful buildings in which the students gather in student unions, singing songs and discussing science and philosophy. Some of the groups favor the romantic ideals with focus on emotions rather than reason, idealization of the exotic, and an interest in mysticism. Other groups believe in the natural sciences and despise the sublime. They wish to uncover truths through carefully performed experiments. Conflicts and confrontations are constantly raging between these groups.

It was a divided city that had grown from the ashes of that which burned in the early 18th century. The primary divider was the Fyris River that separate the rich west and suffering east as it flows into the lake Mälaren. Several bridges - such as the Cathedral and Iron bridges - cross the river but while there are no states laws that bar the poor from crossing the water local police often keep an extra watchful eye on those that travel westward across the river. The Romani that live in a semi-permanent camp in the south-eastern outskirts of the city are under constant surveillance when they dare to even approach the bridges crossing the city.

The eastern sections of the city suffer from cholera, violent crime and brutal crackdown from the law. The police mostly abandon those sections at night and even at day they rarely move without their sabers drawn and never on their lonesome. Natural resources provide the material for both brick and textile factories but it's the production of aquavit - both illegal and legal - that form the backbone of the local economy. Farmers, industrial workers and servants live side by side in the east while students, nobles, and clerics – the latter enjoying extravagant luxuries in huge villas and apartments - occupy the west while the poor tend to their every need - bowing and scraping - until their bodies are all worn out. Open conflicts rarely arise between the two groups but when they do it tends to happen at illegal night clubs, the opium den and the brothel where the distinction between rich and poor was less clear.

On top of the east-west divide the city was also fractionalized by differing cultures. While the west contain Swedes almost exclusively - invited researches and experts from other countries excepted - the east hold sizeable populations from several different cultures. The Jewish of Upsala are noted despite their relatively low number and their quarter was richer than most of the rest of the citizens east of the Fyris River with several craftsmen and workshops ensuring their safety through the value of those establishments.

One thing that provided constant value to the eastern side of the city was the recently finished train station that connect the city with the Stockholm - the capital of Sweden - and from there the port city of Gothenburg and the Scania province.

Wallonian craftsmen and Finnish exiles form two of the three largest minorities but it was the settling of veterans and their families from an Irish mercenary company - the Eire Galloglaigh - following their end of services for Denmark in the Schleswig War that radically changed the politics of the city. Led by officers from the Doyle, Maclay and O'Connor families they were granted particular exceptions to the religious laws of the country and the former officers now hold sway in both legal and illegal trade.

The Doyles are numerous and many sons of that family have followed in their fathers' footsteps and joined either the local garrison or the constabulary. The Maclays are less numerous but hold the most political power as Donald Maclay were the Chief and commander of the cavalry in the Eire Galloglaigh and used his amassed fortune to purchase a vast amount of farms that now provide a significant portion of the food that supply the city. The O'Connors were the poorest of the three families but have carved out - quite violently and with a considerable amount of loss - a powerbase in the underworld.

Known in the papers as the 'Whirlwind Gang' the family was lead by the married couple - Darla and Liam 'Angelface' O'Connor - who hold court in the brothel at 59 Wellspring Street. Angelface was a young lieutenant who inherited his post in the mercenary company after his father died in mysterious circumstances. After assuming his role it didn't take him long to establish a fearsome reputation as a particularly cruel and vicious leader of irregular infantry. He brought his cruelty and expertise to Upsala and - together with his young wife - they soon established the brothel and promptly destroyed the three gangs that had previously divided up the city amongst themselves. Only remnants remain of the earlier criminal powerhouses and the only significant illegal establishment outside of the O'Connors' control was the opium den located in the Poorhouse basement at Kamphavet Square.

The center of attention this spring evening was in the world-famous Botanical Garden where the Doyles and the Maclays hosted all local individuals of repute - and some of ill repute - in the pre-wedding celebrations between the eldest remaining daughter of Donald Maclay and Mickey Doyle, the third-oldest son of the Doyle patriarch.

The Botanical Garden of Upsala University was founded in the 17th century by Olof Rudbeck but is best known for being the workplace of world-famous natural scientist Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century. Linnaeus transformed the garden into one of the finest in the world with thousands of different plants that can be viewed in their full splendor from the walls of the nearby Upsala Castle.









The main festive hall of the Botanical Garden had been decorated with opulence and splendor to convey the message that the Maclays did not shirk from the responsibilities they've claimed as the leading family of the Irish. Donald Maclay was the father of the bride and as such had put a large amount of money to both the celebrations and the dowry in order to marry off the second of his two daughters. He was known as a stern and traditional man, one who had grown even more so after losing his best friend - Joseph O'Connor - in mysterious circumstances during the Schleswig War, and when his wife died in a bandit attack that led to his eldest daughter's disappearance five years ago he had lost any warmth and familiarity to those outside his closest family.

Willow sat by her table at the back of the party and watched the celebrations with a morbid curiosity. She watched as the Maclay patriarch - the father of the bride who would in just a week give away his daughter to the son of his closest ally - should have been celebrating with glee and joy but seemed to actively project the opposite emotions as he sat in his seat at the head of the main table. At his side, almost completely out of Willow's view, sat the soon-to-be bride in her splendid dress and made-up dirty blonde hair. Willow couldn't get a proper look at the young woman but the despair and sadness in her grimace was undeniable.

Willow herself wore a simple long-sleeved dress in forest greens - one of the two fancy dresses that she kept once she moved out of her parents' household - and sat in-between the empty seat that had been assigned to Alexander and on the other side the stoic Kendra wore a comfortable maroon dress as she finished the last of her dessert. The main floor of the room was filled with young men and women who danced the night away and while Alexander had partaken in the celebrations with gusto his two friends had both remained seated for the entire evening - the first open dance excepted where Alex had eagerly brought Kendra to the floor where she partook in the delicate dance with grace.

Willow was a pretty young woman and had been asked to dance at earlier social events but after her infamous acceptance to the university most men had backed off - her chosen path being considered uncouth for a proper lady - and those that hadn't were rebuffed by her until she were left alone for what was turning into the third social event in a row. It didn't bother her - it was the intended outcome of her rebuffing of any eventual suitors - and she had found the observance of her mother's futile attempts to convince other guests to dance with her to be the largest source of humor in otherwise dull proceedings.

The rest of the time she spent doodling down notes in a small notebook she had managed to smuggle indoors - Kendra had spent considerable time quietly trying to figure out just how she accomplished that feat - while keeping the notes out of sight of her mother who continued to glare daggers at the unruly daughter. Sheila still refused to talk to the daughter who refused to atone for the shame she was bringing to the Rosenberg name so Willow were free of one of the worst bringers of grief to her mental well-being.

In fact, the party had been way above expectations. Ira was in a jovial mood and dropped by at times to catch up and provide brain teasers for his daughter to solve and even helped to cover the notes when Sheila almost caught her daughter's unwomanly writings. Alex was a pleasant companion as they had eaten the abundant supper and even Kendra appeared to be in a better mood than expected, especially after the mishap with the giant earlier in the day, and had even taken part in the latest of Ira's riddles - an event that instantly endeared the Jamaican woman to the rotund jeweler. Of course, Willow still would've preferred to spend the evening in their library or even with Giles to provide annotations to the records he was currently transcribing to document their adventure.

"Hey Willster, what's the what? Did someone nail your dress to that chair or are you able to join me for a dance before they throw us out of here?"

Willow expressed a sound that could best be described as an 'eep' as she remembered that Alex hadn't been informed of her 'unavailability' at social events.

"I'm sorry Alex but I don't dance at these things. It's just not my thing, I'm provided with two left feet and would just spaz enough that they'd drag me to Walsh's asylum within minutes. But I think that-" Willow paused as she took in Alexander's disheveled appearance. He was wearing a simple but handsome suit that exhibited his build but that had been scuffed and dirtied - a condition his face shared as he was sporting a mark that would soon grow into a distinguished bruise. "What happened? Did you fall or did one of the local girls finally tire of your 'undeniable charms'?"

Willow noticed that Kendra had realized his scruffy condition and subsequently palmed a sharp knife while taking in their closest perimeter as she tried to find any potential threats.

"It's nothing, Will. I just had a minor disagreement with the two youngest Doyles - the twins who were making a ruckus earlier - and they needed to be taught a lesson. So I did. And they learned."

Willow blanched as Kendra made a sound that reminded Willow of a fierce growl.

"Alexander, are you telling me that you not only fought at the first social event we were invited to but that you also fought two brothers of the groom? Brother who, if I must remind you, have plenty of siblings, cousins and nephews who could give us an abundance of grief as a consequence?"

Alexander haughtily scoffed but flashed his trademark grin to disarm the woman he considered family.

"I didn't just fight them, I beat them. But do not worry, Kenny, I also had time to have a glass of ale with them after."

Willow arched a brow in surprise. "Wait, really?"

Alex grinned and nodded to a pair of almost identical young men sporting numerous bruises and superficial cuts but who also waved happily at Alex as he caught their notice.

"Friend told me that the Doyles always fight at weddings, funeral and when they're baptizing so I figured I'd find a way to make some friends while we're here since you two seem to stay content while brooding in this here corner. Now, if you don't mind I got to talk to the twins' elder brother Allen. He's a friendly sort and a cop so he'd be good to have on our side, okay?"

Alexander stood up with a wink and turned towards the table where the twins were sharing an ale with two other men with traits that clearly identified them as members of the notorious family. In his wake he left a pair of women with shocked expressions on their faces as they started at the group that Alexander was swiftly integrating himself with.

"Have... Have I completely misjudged Alex and he is really a smart and devious mastermind who only act the lout to lower others' expectations?"

Kendra shook her head with an expression that was less shocked than Willow's, if only marginally so.

"You have not, miss Rosenberg. Alexander is a shiftless thug with a talent for physical labor and a charming grin but he is not one you'd call quick or keen."

"What was that then?"

"I figure that as someone who enjoy his spirits and his tumble he have found kindred spirits amongst these Doyles. Did you know of this tradition of theirs? You are the local, after all."

"Nope. In case you missed it; I'm not exactly a social butterfly. I don't do well in formal settings - or informal for that matter - and if anything you'd best describe me as-"

A new voice entered the conversation from the right of the two women. "A social reject and mannish pretender?"

Willow winced as she recognized the voice of her old tormentor; Cordelia Creutz, daughter of the baron Creutz. The Creutz house used to be based in Finland but Cordelia's grandfather took his family to Upsala when the Russian Empire invaded and annexed the provinces of Finland that used to form eastern Sweden. With long brown hair, impeccable style and a figure that would make a romanticist artist swoon with delight she was considered the most eligible bachelorette in the city. Cordelia was everything that Willow wasn't - and vice versa - and to make matters worse Sheila had compared the two for years and favored the noblewoman in all matters except religion and did not try to hide it.

At her side were two other young noblewomen that rarely left her side. Harmony was of the Maydell house. Baron Maydell was another descendant of a family exiled from lands that Sweden had lost over the last hundred and fifty years, Estonia. While not as notable as the Creutz the Maydells were richer and Harmony had a reputation of never reusing a formal dress and once even wore three different dresses in one day-long ball. Amy, eldest daughter of Count Mellin, was of higher birth but lacked the same social grace and wealth that her two closest friends carried. As a child she had been of somewhat friendly terms with Willow but that friendship had been ended by her mother once her tutelage as a lady of noble birth had begun.

"Hello Cordelia," Willow muttered as she hid her noted under a napkin.

"That's Baroness Creutz to you, Rosenberg. Who's this woman; did your father finally give up and start paying for someone to be your friend or did you just pick her up in the street?"

Kendra frowned as Willow wilted under the scornful gaze of the new arrivals. While the young student often proved herself tiresome with incessant babbling and erudite conversations Kendra did respect Willow - in a way - for her bravery and quick thinking but now the young woman more resembled a little girl, one who shrank into her chair while witless socialites - women she should've been able to verbally dismantle in moments - tore her to pieces.

"She's Kendra Young, protector of the Giles family," Willow revealed in a demure tone.

"The Giles's you say," Amy pondered. "Does that mean that you live with them in Castle Gyllencreutz?"

"I provide security and friendship to both master Giles and his son Alexander, yes. As do-"

"Isn't that just a rat-infested ruin these days," Harmony interrupted Kendra's attempt to answer. "I heard it used to house a bunch of freakish bookworms so it's no wonder you're getting along so well with this animal."

The trio of tormentors left the girls with a mocking symphony of derisive laughter as Willow failed to lift her eyes from her hands as they rested in her lap. "I'm sorry, Kendra."

"While I'm disappointed you let them humiliate you as they did, you have done nothing to offend me miss Rosenberg."

"You got tarred by proximity. I've never been anything but an outcast at these events but once I began school it's like I got leprosy and everyone who even dare to associate with me are to be shunned until they stop doing so."

"I am not here to make friendships with insipid noblewomen, miss Rosenberg. I care not for their opinions but obviously you do or else you wouldn't let them treat you like this."

Willow sighed as she tried to find a way to explain her situation. "I just-... I mean, it's like this," she attempted before closing her eyes to prevent the tears that tried to escape. "I'll just go on home. I didn't want to be here anyway and there's still a few hours that I could spend in the library instead of getting humiliated in a place were I was only invited as a matter of formality. I just want to read and then go back to my room and sleep again."

Kendra sighed inaudibly and shook her head. "You haven't slept in your room since that first night, Rosenberg. You'll just fall asleep in your chair again and both of us know it; it's not like I haven't noticed that you moved your footlocker with your clothes to the library storage a couple of days ago."

Willow grinned mirthlessly as she hid her notebook in her right-hand sleeve. "It saves time. And place. Now, will you cover me as I try to sneak out without offending our hosts?"

"It's not like we're lacking in beds with only four members of the Society. But there's no need to worry about anyone noticing as a diversion seems to have sprung up on its own."

Kendra nodded towards the ruckus by the main table and Willow's eyes grew wide as they took in the chaotic scene that gripped the attention of the party guests; the bride-to-be had gone missing and nobody could find her. The two women watched the collapsing event with a kind of horror-filled fascination as Alexander returned to his friends.

"So Willster; is this the worst that could happen?"






Image
Map of 19th Century Upsala

A/N: Fun fact; this map is incredibly accurate to how Uppsala(oh yeah, that's the modern name of the city) looked back in the day with only Castle Gyllencreutz and Olympus edited in(none of them real buildings). In fact, you could use that map to find the other locations in today's Uppsala without any issue(okay, the Asylum was a bit further south and is torn down these days). The Vaesen RPG is incredibly well-made.

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 Post subject: Guests in the Castle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:55 am 
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3. Flaming O

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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
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Castle Gyllencreutz


The home and headquarter for the East Aros Society - Castle Gyllencreutz - was located by the eastern bank of the Fyris river that divided the city in twine. Positioned on a strategic hill, the huge but neglected old castle was surrounded by a black iron fence with only the large gate - flanked by statues of griffins - providing any safe land entrance or exit to the grounds. The garden - and the paved walkway leading to the entrance - were overgrown with bushes, trees, and shrubbery. Plenty of mice, rats, foxes, and birds had since long claimed the area and the possibility of their eradication was one of the primary reason the locals greeted the news of the Society's return with middling acceptance. On the bank of the Fyris river - in the backyard of the castle - there was a dilapidated jetty and a boarded-up old boathouse.

The garden itself had several smaller abandoned buildings – most likely used as stables, storage rooms, and servants’ quarters – as well as a fountain and a number of statues. Up on a small hill there were seven rotting crosses of wood marking what appeared to be a hasty attempt at a graveyard before the castle had last been abandoned.

Monstrous gargoyles decorated the three-story castle’s façade. Castle Gyllencreutz was a building with several towers and a vast underground cellar that - up until a month earlier - had stood vacant for many years. The old furniture was covered in cobwebs and mice had nested in couches and chairs. Rats defended their homes while bats and crows came and went through the holes in the ceiling. Parts of the building reeked of mold and the leaky roof let rain and snow in with abandon.

Most of the castle was unexplored as many of its doors still were either locked or nailed shut. By reading old journals left behind by previous residents Giles had learned that there were several libraries, a laboratory, an infirmary, a chapel, an observatory, and halls for magical studies that - time and resources willing - could be discovered and returned to service for the Society. According to the journals there would also be cells where Vaesen used to be held – all of this hidden behind the many secret doors the group had mostly identified - but not yet opened.

Shortly after taking over the castle Giles were visited by a man called Algot Frisk. He had claimed that his ancestors had served at Castle Gyllencreutz for hundreds of years and insisted on being hired as steward of the castle. Steward Frisk worked hard to keep the group fed and clean up the castle while remaining - emotionally and socially - distant from his wards.







Willow sighed as she put away book eight - out of twenty-two - of Description of the Northern Peoples and withdrew its successor in the series. Willow had no qualms of describing herself as a friend of the written word and - in her stronger moments - could even admit to herself that it was one of the few times her overactive mind didn't wander. She had enjoyed the long evenings she spent with her father managing the books of the family business - as well as tinkering with the fine machinery that Ira employed - but it was more a means of an end to prepare her life for a future where she would be the master of her own fate.

And she had succeeded. Despite her mother, her peers, the crown and her religion, she had managed to get herself emancipated and become the first woman in Swedish history to study in the higher fields. She was a milestone and on top of that she was part of a group that kept humanity safe from the Vaesen that lurked in the darkness.

Yet here she was; alone and reading a thick book by an incredibly dull author - Olaus Magnus - who gathered his many essays of the different cultures of the Scandinavian people and the mysterious creatures that lived in their shadows.

And she was so damn bored.

Willow still loved her research but spending another long night in the library after seeing her peers talk to friends and be merry in good company while she remained the stagnant wallflower reminded her of the solitude that had - ironically - been her constant companion throughout her entire life.

She came back to Castle Gyllencreutz with Kendra(Alex had decided to join his new Doyle friends in one of many impromptu search parties to locate the missing bride-to-be) only to be abandoned at the lobby as the older woman joined her surrogate father and his new friends for a cup of evening brandy. Willow wasn't invited to join - and she knew that technically Kendra wasn't either - and lacked the confidence to claim a seat with their company as the warrior had done so Willow did what she always did; dove into her studious work to eventually read everything the library had to offer.

It's not like Willow was a complete outcast of society. She got along well with her father and while she wasn't part of the Giles household there was a friendly kinship of sorts. Amongst the laborers - currently in the process of restoring the old infirmary at the bottom floor of the castle - she was on good term with a physical powerhouse Lars while the rest of the local craftsmen kept their distance. While she lacked friends among her fellow students she got along well with Giles' colleague, professor of engineering Ethan Regn. She shared Regn's technical interest and mischievous spirit and he was relatively forward-thinking when it came to Willow's attendance at the University.

She had few friends in the rest of the city. The Romani camp - which was often unfriendly to outsiders due to decades of judicial and extrajudicial harassment - greeted her as a fellow oddity in a xenophobic society. They knew that those that took part in the attacks on the camp were often the same who attacked solitary Jews in the streets after late evenings of drinking. Other than that she were on friendly terms with a couple of the local urchins and had helped them hide from the law a couple of times when Judge De Hoffryn sent out one of his many declarations against the 'plague' of poverty - in reality a carte blanche for the constable and garrison to brutally enforce their will upon the meek and helpless.

In the moments before falling asleep in her chair - as she always did - Willow considered if her new friendship with Alex were the key to making new acquaintances. Alex had already been able to make more friends than Willow had in her entire lifetime and if anyone were able to help smooth over her social inexperience it'd be the English charmer.

It didn't take her long to abandon this train of thought for primarily two reasons. First and foremost, it felt manipulative to her to use a man who had taken her in as a friend without any kind of precondition or expectation in return, except for her own friendship. But on top of that his friends were of the loud - often drunk - kind that while friendly would not be reliable companions to a young woman who had no romantic interest in them no matter what circumstances. She trusted Alexander, implicitly, but not the men that she only knew by name and vague reputation.

But if nothing else she always had her books. And when they were all exhausted she could always acquire new ones.







"Good morning Alexander, mister Giles, mister Frisk, miss Rosenberg," Kendra greeted her colleagues in a not unkindly manner.

Alexander sported a wide grin while he stretched his arms as the Steward placed his breakfast porridge on the table. "I bet you'd never see the day where I'm up and about earlier than you are, huh?"

His father side-eyed him but kept his mocking scoff to himself while Willow smirked tiredly.

"Young master Giles was indeed early enough that he fell asleep again below the kitchen table," the Steward haughtily added. "In fact, he must have been so early that he forgot to change his clothes from those he wore as you left for the Doyle-Maclay celebration."

Alexander scoffed. "Hey! I was just, well, efficient!"

"And fragrant," Willow teased.

"And dirty," Kendra added with an uncharacteristic smirk.

"And ready for the loud noises that'll accompany the full workday that await you I hope," Giles teased.

"Full workday?" Alexander gulped. "I thought we gave the men the day off?"

"That was yesterday, Alexander. The team is setting up for the day outside the soon-to-be infirmary and they need their foreman not only there but sober and able."

"Hey, I resent that! I'll be ready as soon as I've finished eating and changed into my workday clothes but when have I ever failed to do my duty with the hammer and nail?"

Giles pointedly glanced at the warrior who was now in the process of devouring her own breakfast. "Kendra?"

She sat up and put down the spoon. "Two months and five days ago, Alexander. I believe you were spending the night elsewhere and missed the wakeup call that morning."

"Oh?" What happened?" Willow asked curiously, ever-willing to learn more of her companions.

"My beloved son spent the night at the local constabulary," Giles answered dryly. "He had been arrested the previous evening for partaking - and possible starting - a drunken brawl that sent two members of another family to the surgeon."

"Okay, I'll grant you that I missed two hours of work that day, father. But in my defense those Morgan bastard was talking ill about, y'know, her and I could not let that stand," Alexander responded without shame or regret.

Giles looked at him apologetically and Willow noticed that Kendra grimaced slightly at the memory. "That is true, son. My apologies, I had promised not to drag out that instance again and I forgot myself. You were right then and you're right now, you do your duties with enthusiasm and expertise." Alexander beamed at the apology before Giles muttered an addendum under his breath. "Such as they are."

Alexander's face fell and his gaze followed suit. "I'm done eating. I'll go and change and if you need me, I'll be at the infirmary trying to restore this sorry ruin to something suitable for habitation."

Willow didn't know what had happened but felt the atmosphere in the room change noticeably. Before Alex could leave the dining area a loud series of knocks on the front door alerted the group to the new arrivals. Alex quietly lingered in the room as the Steward hurried - while never breaking decorum - to the door and in a minute he returned to the group to announce their guests.

"A representative of the local constabulary has arrived with an escort to inquire the masters of the castle about the missing Maclay lady."

Giles nodded and stood up before motioning to the others to join him. Alexander quickly brushed off his dusty clothes while Kendra quietly followed Rupert. Willow began to follow them before stopping by the Steward's side.

"I've put my dirty clothes in the bag outside my quarters as usual, Algot. Can you put the broom and clean sheets in front of the door and I'll clean and make the bed before nightfall?"

He nodded with a sigh. "As you wish, mistress Rosenberg. I still say you should let me clean your room as I do for the rest. Or if not that, convince master Giles to hire a maid to ease the inconvenience."

She shook her head and offered an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry but I promised my father that no men were to be in my quarters - not even the help - and I must not dishonor him by breaking a promise given. Besides, I'm no stranger to physical labor of sorts."

He nodded. "I can respect that and you do your family proud - despite everything - by not compromising on those principles. Even if I do still need a maid to supplant the workforce. I'll have the sheets and equipment in place before supper."

Willow smiled and curtsied in thanks before joining the rest of the increasingly loud group in the entrance hall.







The entrance hall - a large lobby that fortunately were one of the best-maintained rooms of Castle Gyllencreutz - were filled with more men and women than it had seen ever since the 'Oulu Massacre' had crippled the old Society at the tail end of the 18th century. Other than a couple of civilians armed with axes, hunting rifles and pitchforks - as well as a couple of assigned representatives of the local garrison - the majority of the roughly two dozen guests were part of the local police.

Armed with sabers, batons, and a never-ending sense of innate superiority, the city’s police wore blue uniforms with golden buttons and helmets. The force was known to practically all locals - even relative shut-ins like Willow - to be remarkably corrupt and violent. One of the few people in the force who cannot be bought was, ironically, the newly-appointed police chief, Allan Finch. He were trying to purge his organization of corruption which made him numerous enemies on the force - and on the outside. Some officers, however, idealize him and have tried stopped working with shady elements with varying degrees of success; once you're caught in the Whirlwind's grasp it's hard to break loose.

In the middle of the gathering was the chief himself dressed in an expensive - if dirty after long night's search - uniform that distinguished him amongst his fellow officers. Upon identifying Giles as the presumptive leader of the inhabitants Finch moved up to him and extended his hand in greeting. "Greetings! I am Chief Finch and thank you for letting us take solace from the morning cold for a moment. Am I correct in my assumption that you are the leader of this organization I've heard so much about?"

Giles shook the offered hand - firmly - but shook his head with an apologetic smile. "Good morning Chief Finch. I may be the eldest of the East Aros Society - our Steward excepted - but I am not the leader as we are not that kind of organization. However, I - Rupert Giles that is - am the Castle Master as the structural organization of both the castle and the society are under my responsibilities. My son Alexander over there," he motioned to Alex who kept himself to the back as to hide the obvious signs of a long night on the town, "is our treasurer and in charge of the repairs and reconstruction of our humble abode.

Finch nodded to the young man who returned the greeting. Behind the chief of police was a different man with red eyes and a tired smile who waved at the younger man and Willow recognized him as the Doyle family member that Alexander had planned to befriend the evening before.

"Young miss Willow Rosenberg here is our resident librarian and armorer - I'm sure you've heard of her technical expertise and renowned intelligence?" The chief locked his jaw but politely tipped his helmet to the shy woman. He had been informed - and informed his officers in turn - of the unique situation regarding the emancipated young lady who was not only a student but the lone daughter of one of the most influential craftsmen in the city.

When he heard one of the members of the crowd mutter an insult, loud enough for most of the room's inhabitants to take notice, his demeanor changed from one of resigned politeness to apologetic friendliness.

"I apologize for that remark from one of the twats that I've been straddled with, mister Giles." He spoke loudly to ensure that no member of his party would misunderstand his intentions. "I'm sure there'll be no further outbursts of that rude nature or else I'll be forced to send everyone present in a double-shift down by the poorhouse."

Giles smiled politely but Willow still shrunk back behind the closest pillar. She was used to the jeers and insults - sometimes even threats - but had grown comfortable in her new home and had enjoyed a safe harbor from the ugliness that was a regular part of her life in the city.

"Certainly, chief Finch. But finally, but far from least, there's our Guardian." He pointed towards Kendra with outstretched hand. "Kendra Young is a warrior with ten years of experience both on the field and as our personal guard and together with the rest of us we form a council where we decide as a group of where the Society's goals should be."

The chief once again tipped his helmet in polite greeting before turning back to Giles. "Remarkable, such an organizational structure is rare indeed outside of traveling troupes and some sea vessels. I'm curious to see if the structure remain intact if you're able to grow into the numbers that I've been informed the Society held a hundred years ago. But that's neither here nor there as I'm actually on the job and you're our last stop of the day."

"Ah, the missing lady Maclay I presume?"

"On the spot, mister Giles. We have reasonable assumption that she was kidnapped while going out for some fresh air during the celebration yesterday. Nobody has seen her since and together with the other two parties that have canvassed the city we've found little to dissuade us from the notion that she's been taken by an enemy of the Maclays, Doyles, or both. So I'm here to see if you or your... companions have seen or heard anything that might point us in the correct direction."

"I'm afraid not, chief Finch. My son was a voluntary member of one of the other parties but the rest of us have spent the night in our respective quarters ever since the younger members returned home from the aborted festivities."

The chief nodded but if the poor news changed his mood in any way he masked it well. "I dared not hope otherwise but I had to investigate every avenue. I thank you all for your time and if you hear something - anything - do not hesitate to contact us at the station. The Maclays have already put out a reasonable reward for any information that lead to her safe recovery and I do not doubt it'd do wonders to help in the rebuilding of this once illustrious castle."

Giles smiled gently. "That is most certain. Do you want me to send for our laborers so you can ask them as well before heading back out? Otherwise I'm afraid I'm going to appear quite rude as we all have business to attend to this day and need to avoid any further delays."

The Castle Master had no idea just how much chaos would continue to haunt them over the next few days.

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 Post subject: Seers and Poetry
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2021 6:10 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
The police remained for another twenty minutes as the chief questioned the laborers in turn but as the chief had predicted there were no relevant information to be found amongst the workers. Alexander used the distraction to sober up and change his clothes while Kendra oversaw the questioning. Willow had left soon after the police did - she told Giles it was personal business and he did not see a reason why he would discourage the lonely girl from enjoying the few social connections she clung on to.

Willow - and the other two younger members of their organization - still had a hard time finding themselves as his equal. They still asked him for permission and sought his counsel even though what he had told Chief Finch was true; he was not their leader and the schedule and rules he had drafted were all approved by the group as a whole.

Still, the mindset and routines ingrained over a lifetime were hard to shake. Alexander was his son and Kendra, in many ways, his daughter. It was normal for them to look up to their patriarch for approval and advice but that even the often willful - and notoriously independent - Willow kept referring to his word before taking initiative on her own.

Rupert didn't mind, in a way. He knew he was in the autumn years of his life and was proud that they found him a source of wisdom and knowledge despite his numerous mistakes in his colorful past.

That he was currently going through the process of being granted temporary visiting rights at the asylum in order to return to the woman who was the source of much of his knowledge of the Society's history - the very same knowledge his companions trusted him to provide - was a concern the others did not need to bother with at this time.

Upsala's mental asylum was encircled by an imposing black iron fence. Patients arrive at the brick building in covered wagons but rarely leave - except in a casket. It is a place for half-wits, lunatics, and people who have caused outrage in the parish(many of that category were the poor individuals who had experienced 'the Sight' but were unprepared and unable to cope with the terrifying awakening). Even women who have displayed signs of independence and self-determination have been known to be admitted against their will - on order of their husband or father - under diagnosis commonly referred to as 'Female Hysteria.'

Patients were divided into first and second class depending on their financial situation. Wealthier patients were often treated well and had meals brought to their rooms on a tray. Lower-class patients, on the other hand, were starved, shackled, and put in confinement boxes. They were treated with laxatives and emetics as their skin developed ulcers after being smeared with irritant substances. Insanity was attributed to mucus and so the patient had to be cleansed.

All treatment were supervised by Doctor Margareta Walsh, a woman of small stature and stern manners, who was utterly convinced her treatments were effective. Recruited from a similar institution in southern England the imposing woman was infamous for being able to terrify the most well-bred of soldiers with a single glare. She was supported by a large group of orderlies, guards, and physicians and worked without any real oversight despite most of the funding was provided by the office of the mayor as well as the deep coffers of the University.

One of the orderlies - a large man with blonde unkempt hair and broad shoulders - led him down a corridor in the first class wing of the asylum. The rooms were larger than those he'd seen in similar institutions in the past and the corridor was as clean as one could wish for considering the circumstances. The patients weren't loud either, only some frantic ramblings from a young woman in the room next to Elfeklint's breaking the peace, but what really surprised the Englishman was that the door to the woman he was visiting had been left open.

The orderly took notice of his confused expression and broke the silence.

"Miss Elfeklint is here on her own will and have no record of violence or hysteria so she's given more freedom than the rest of this lot, mister. It's not the first time she's here either, she pay for a room at least four or five times per year. She's lucky she is of old money or we'd be forced to put the old hag with the rest of the rabble and she's far too gentle of a woman to suffer that indignancy."

Giles nodded stoically. Linnea Elfeklint was a former member of the Society who chose to leave the organization just before its fall. She was renting a room in a simple apartment in central Upsala but apparently spend a lot of her time at the asylum.

When he met her - just after arriving in the city - she refused to visit him in the castle and almost threw him out after he suggested it. After a considerable amount of reassurance and convincing that he would not attempt to force her she finally relented and they were able to speak in peace.

She told him where to find the old charter - as well as the castle deed and a few of the lost journals - and was an invaluable aid in rebuilding the Society despite her wavering lucidity. That first meeting didn't last long, however, as when he asked her to describe her last expedition in greater detail she fell silent. After half an hour of unwavering muteness he relented and left the old woman in her apartment with the mental note to not approach the subject again. It was shortly afterwards that he was informed by Doctor Walsh that the old woman had readmitted herself to the asylum until further notice.

The orderly let him in and closed - but didn't lock - the door behind the two survivors of the old Society. On her cot was the old woman, busy with knitting a patterned shawl, and if she had taken notice of his arrival she hid it well.

Dressed in simple and dirty clothing, the old woman was an enigma at best. She spoke erratically and often it seemed like she channeled someone else rather than spoke from her own mind as she could contradict herself without issue, sometimes within the same statement, and rarely remembered what she had said just moments earlier.

"Hello lady Elfeklint. How are we doing today?"

The old woman didn't skip a step as she continued gazing into nothingness while still knitting the shawl.

"I am Rupert Giles, from the Society. Do you remember me? You sent me a letter months ago and asked me to rebuild the Society, the castle?"

"Did you build the infirmary?"

"My son is currently working on it. I still do not understand why; we have yet to find a healer with the Sight so it feels like we're spending time and resources on nothing but-"

"Good. Soon she'll come and you'll see. You have the Sight but you do not see."

"Who'll come?"

"She of the earth; the one who'll bring the craft to the wound and order to the chaos of the tree."

"She of the... Who is she? Can you give me a name, lady Elfeklint?"

The old woman's jaw snapped shut and gave no more answers. This time, Giles didn't need half an hour to realize he'd be given no more answers and called for the orderly after only a few minutes.

She didn't skip a beat as he said goodbye and left her to her handiwork.









It was a sad sight that greeted Willow as she left the city limits by the south-eastern road. The Romani of Sweden have had a long and often unfortunate history where the culture was at best tolerated but for centuries outright banned; it wasn't until 1748 that a nearly 100-year law - one sentencing all Romani men to death while women and children were to be deported - was finally repealed.

The camp in front of her was one of a kind where not only Romani of eastern European origin lived but also descendants of the Kalé tribes who fled the Russian Empire after their conquered the region in 1809. It was an ironic situation since the Kalé had been expelled from the Swedish mainland in 1637 and now had an ill-protected refuge in the same country that used to execute them on sight.

The camp was never an organized quarter like the one where Willow had grown up in. A few shacks - with a larger meeting hall of sorts centering the camp - formed the only permanent housing but were surrounded by dozens of covered wagons and thick tents that provided a modicum of cover from the harsh weathers of the plains of Upland.

What Willow was passing through wasn't as much a camp anymore but more the remnants of one. Tents were in tatters, several wagons were turned over or sporting broken wheelhouses, and the windows of the meeting hall had all been smashed with abandon. Willow knew the reason for the chaos and felt many a bitter glare in the back of her head as she meekly wandered towards her destination. She also knew that these people were the hardy sort and would soon rebuild the camp to the state it had been just a day before. Willow had previously asked her friend why they never built more of the permanent buildings but soon realized her folly as the more prosperous dwellings were those that often suffered the most when the citizens felt the urge to beat down on their camp-dwelling neighbors.

The tent in question was a splendid sight to behold, despite the damage its neighbors had suffered. Sewn in a plethora of patterns the tent stood out even when the rest of the camp wasn't in a disarray, Willow could hear the shouting of two voices she would recognize anywhere - even if the language they used was one she had yet to master. She knew that she would probably never learn the language in full as it wasn't written down and the Romani were, understandably, quite protective of the language as it gave them a form of communication that was protected from the oversight of the law.

Before she could lift the flap that would grant her entry to the tent, the man opened it from the inside. He was a large and imposing man with a thick moustache that reminded Willow of one of her father's best friends. He grunted at her - a greeting of sorts - before shouting something to the woman inside as he left the area. Willow knew the man as 'uncle Enyos,' one of the Elders of the camp, and on paper the man who owned the tent in question despite not being involved in the business that was housed within.

Willow entered and couldn't contain the grin that split her face in twine. Shelves of exotic reagents and large chests and footlockers that held the valuable ingredients that had to be evacuated swiftly in a crisis formed the wares that were offered at a premium. Suddenly the tent grew dark, as if someone had extinguished all candles at once, and an eerie voice filled the void.

"Welcome, brave traveler, to the Emporium of the Wicked. Here you'll find stuff that only legends dare whisper and- Oh, it's you Willow! My bad!"

The candles lit up again and a woman in her early thirties appeared out of a well-hidden tent flap in the back of the store. She grinned widely and pointed towards a stool which Willow sat down on with a shy smile.

"I'm sorry about that whole spiel. You see my," she turned towards the entrance and raised her voice to a shout, "IDIOT UNCLE DIDN'T TELL ME WHO MY GUEST WAS and you know how it is, I gotta put the fear in anyone who'd even think of nicking any of my stuff. Now how's my favorite little studious Willow Tree?" Her friendly grin lit up the tent and raised Willow's spirits in the process.

Willow relaxed into her seat and shrugged. "It's okay, Janna. Society is treating me well and you were right, no signs of them being hostile to you and yours. Which is good because the moment I see anything like that I'm going back to my student apartment and leave nothing behind except for a stern letter. And maybe a spiteful trap or two to remind them to stay away."

Janna laughed richly and pulled out a seat for herself. As she moved her practiced grace allowed her to sit without her wide dress somehow managing to avoid knocking down any of the expensive reagents - despite the crowded space of the tent.

"And I expect nothing else from the most loyal of souls that I've ever seen. Did you have fun at the party yesterday?"

Willow frowned. "No, obviously. I mean - it was a social event with people and fancy dresses and social expectations and my mother with her matchmaking idiocy and she just can't understand why I don't want that and-"

"I get it," Janna interrupted, not unkindly. "I take it none of your new friends knows about... it?"

Willow shook her head. "And they must not. You are the only one that could ever know."

Janna nodded grimly. "I know and you'll never have to fear I'll speak of it with anyone but you." Janna shook her head, sadly, before returning to the jovial mood she had previously displayed. "Have they found the missing bride-to-be yet?"

Willow shook her head again. "No. The police think she was kidnapped but, I don't know. I got a quick peek at her during the celebrations and she looked as if she was attending her own funeral feast - rarely have I seen a sight as sad as her in such a fancy gathering."

"So you think she tried to do the same as you; flee the oppressive bonds of matrimony?"

"She could have. If so, I don't blame her and if nothing else it DID give me an excuse to leave early."

"Creutz and her lackies again?" Willow nodded sadly. "I'd offer to give her some blighting curse but I know you're not of the inclination so at least let me offer my sympathies."

Willow smiled before frowning. "Look at me being all 'oh boo-ho I'm being forced to a fancy party' while you're sitting in the middle of your ravaged camp. The police told us they had three search parties out yesterday, I wager one of them came here to 'politely ask a few questions'?"

Janna growled as she nodded. "Yeah. They'd probably have sacked my store if my reputation hadn't scared them away. Our glass-master is working on the hall's windows and within a few days we'll be up and going again but two men died and one woman was taken. We found her a few hours ago, alive but damaged, and she'll make a full physical recovery."

Willow blanched and looked down at her hands in shame. "I'm sorry, it was a bad time to visit. I'll come back next week instead if you'd prefer?"

Janna shook her head. "You know as well as I that there's nothing we could do to prevent this. It's not your fault, it's not the girl's fault and it's not even the runaway bride's fault. It's those men and those laws that allow them to act like this."

Willow looked up at her friend in shame. "...my friend Alex - Alexander Giles - was part of the Doyle-led search party last night. Please tell me he wasn't part of that group that..." Willow couldn't force herself to finish the sentence.

"He wasn't," Janna answered after a short pause. "It was the Maclay-led party that visited us yesterday. From what you have told me of your friend I doubt he'd ever take part of this kind of cruelty." Willow released the breath that she didn't even know she had withheld. "How did the saltpeter work out against that giant, by the way?"

Willow regained some of her earlier mirth. "It worked great; we chased him away because the two of us were right, the giants do not care about Jews wielding the gentile icons. Not that they appreciated it, as you'll probably figure, but at least everyone survived just fine."

Janna grinned. "And you know they'll never appreciate us fully, it's as it'll always be. But I got something for you!"

The Roma woman stood up and took out a wrapped package from a lockbox she kept in the back of the tent.

"Bring this back to your stash and open it when you're safe in your quarters."

"What is it," Willow asked while examining the wrapped gift with almost excessive care.

"That's a surprise, Willow. Now, it's time to go back and clean your room before that Steward of yours break his promise in order to keep his castle clean."

"How did you know of the promise? And my plans for the evening?"

Janna only offered a mischievous grin in response as she led her young friend out of the store.









It was about fifteen minutes before dinner when Willow returned to her quarters-in-name-only. While the room had been cleared and cleaned up in anticipation of her joining the Society she had only spent the first night in the room; the rest of the nights she slept in the chair by her table in the library. Kendra had teased her about her relocation of the footlocker that contained her clothing and some personal effects to the library but what Kendra - or any of the others - didn't know was that Willow had a secondary storage hidden in her room.

Behind a loose brick in the wall - one she had covered behind a small religious icon - was a lockbox containing her most private belongings; the things that she dared not show anyone.

She quietly entered the dark room and brought the new sheets - as well as the cleaning supplies Steward Frisk had left for her outside the room - and closed the door before bolting the door. It wasn't a large room - none of them were granted that luxury - but it was secure and with a window that gave her a view over the castle garden as well as the only source of natural light. The room was otherwise barren and the cloudy weather and a lack of lit candles meant that Willow had to rely on her sharp eyesight to make out any details.

She dumped the cleaning supplies in the corner most distant from her bed and the sheets she left where the footlocker used to be positioned. She lit a candle that was set in a sconce by the door and sat down by the end of her bed, the package Janna had given her held tightly in her hands.

She unwrapped it and immediately recognized the Greek writing on the cover of the hand-written book - Sappho's Confession and other Works. She held the book tight against her chest, as close to her heart as she could manage, as she quietly sobbed in the shimmering candlelight.

She turned over to the side and fell towards her bed and immediately shot up in silent panic, dropping her book in the process. She wasn't alone in her room. Someone was sleeping in her bed.

And that someone had just woken up. A woman with honey-blonde hair and clear blue eyes stared at her with an panicked expression that Willow quickly realized matched her own and when she let the cover fall to reveal the crumpled light-blue dress she was wearing Willow was certain of her unexpected visitor's identity.

"You're her! You're the Maclay woman! You're the one they're looking for."

Willow turned towards the door to call for her friends. But, before she could open the deadbolt, she heard the quiet plea from the other woman and turned to face her. She was pale, her expression one of gripping panic.

"Please, don't tell them I'm here. Don't force me to go back to them. Please..."


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Last edited by Rutkowski on Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 4 Posted
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2021 6:50 pm 
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This is a good one, Rutkowski,.......I like it,....very different setting for the "girls". Looking forward to more.

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 4 Posted
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 3:06 am 
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Sorry that I didn't comment on this story before. I love AU-stories with our girls in historical settings and I'm very intrigued by what you have written so far. Very rich background you created here.
It would take me too long to comment on all chapters, so I'll just give a quick comment to the latest:

Quote:
"Good. Soon she'll come and you'll see. You have the Sight but you do not see."

"Who'll come?"

"She of the earth; the one who'll bring the craft to the wound and order to the chaos of the tree."

So the gentle runaway-bride Tara (earth) will join the new Society as a healer and will also figuratively heal Willow with love?

Do I assume correctly that Janna is who we know as Jenny Calendar from canon? Maybe she could join the Society too (and mend the broken heart of widowed Giles?).

Quote:
"I get it," Janna interrupted, not unkindly. "I take it none of your new friends knows about... it?"

Willow shook her head. "And they must not. You are the only one that could ever know."

Janna nodded grimly. "I know and you'll never have to fear I'll speak of it with anyone but you."

I wonder what Willow's secret is, her being gay or something more sinister?

Quote:
She turned over to the side and fell towards her bed and immediately shot up in silent panic, dropping her book in the process. She wasn't alone in her room. Someone was sleeping in her bed.

And that someone had just woken up. A woman with honey-blonde hair and clear blue eyes stared at her with an panicked expression that Willow quickly realized matched her own and when she let the cover fall to reveal the crumpled light-blue dress she was wearing Willow was certain of her unexpected visitor's identity.

"You're her! You're the Maclay woman! You're the one they're looking for."

Willow turned towards the door to call for her friends. But, before she could open the deadbolt, she heard the quiet plea from the other woman and turned to face her. She was pale, her expression one of gripping panic.

"Please, don't tell them I'm here. Don't force me to go back to them. Please..."

And our girls finally meet face to face, yay! I trust Willow will help her, but she won't be able to hide her from the others for long. I'm wondering how Tara got into the castle and Willow's room and how she knew that this bedroom is hardly used and entered by noone but Willow and therefore supposed to be a pretty good hiding-place?

I'm looking forward to the next chapter.


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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 4 Posted
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:10 am 
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MotherD wrote:
This is a good one, Rutkowski,.......I like it,....very different setting for the "girls". Looking forward to more.

Thank you! And yes, late 19th century folktale Sweden is probably not a common setting for any Buffyverse fics. =P

Will's redemption wrote:
Sorry that I didn't comment on this story before. I love AU-stories with our girls in historical settings and I'm very intrigued by what you have written so far. Very rich background you created here.
It would take me too long to comment on all chapters, so I'll just give a quick comment to the latest:

To be fair, I have not created the wider background of the setting. It's from the Vaesen pen and paper RPG but I have modified it to fit the Buffyverse better.

Also I've done far more research of historical minutiae regarding irrelevant stuff than I ever thought I would have to.

Quote:
So the gentle runaway-bride Tara (earth) will join the new Society as a healer and will also figuratively heal Willow with love?

Do I assume correctly that Janna is who we know as Jenny Calendar from canon? Maybe she could join the Society too (and mend the broken heart of widowed Giles?).

That would be correct. Jenny Calendar's real name was Janna Kalderash in canon so adopting her to a romani character here wasn't hard. Since the Romani have a long and storied(and extremely depressing) timeline in Swedish history I jumped at the chance to include them.

Quote:
I wonder what Willow's secret is, her being gay or something more sinister?

Next chapter answers that question!

Quote:
And our girls finally meet face to face, yay! I trust Willow will help her, but she won't be able to hide her from the others for long. I'm wondering how Tara got into the castle and Willow's room and how she knew that this bedroom is hardly used and entered by noone but Willow and therefore supposed to be a pretty good hiding-place?

I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

That's explained in the next chapter!

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 Post subject: Seen and Unseen
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:45 am 
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Realizing the immense fear in the assumptive intruder's eyes was enough for Willow to halt her plans of calling for support. In silence, the two women nervously stared at each other without moving from their respective positions in the cold and barely lit room.

Willow was the first to flinch and tried to put up a jovial front to mask her chaotic thoughts. "So, umm, hi!"

"...hi," the other girl responded, apologetically.

"You're that Maclay girl, right? Tanya, or-or something like that?"

The blonde's eyes nervously flickered between the closed window and the small woman in front of her. "Yes. Or, no. Or - I'm her but it's Tara. Tara of the Maclays." Tara spoke with a faint Irish accent, one inherited from her parents and not one brought from any childhood at the green isle.

"Okay then," Willow continued with a friendly smile. "I'm going to make the assumption that my earlier guesstimation was of the correct kind; you were in reality not kidnapped from the pre-wedding-that-wasn't-party, right?"

"No."

"So you're hiding out in here to avoid being forced into a marriage you resent," Willow stated. This time she didn't even bother putting it as a question.

"H-how did you know?"

Willow beamed in glee over her conclusions being proven right. "You're not the only one who's unwilling to sacrifice your future for a parent's prestige, Tara."

Willow started to move towards the woman but halted almost immediately as Tara backed even further into the corner she was pressed against, her face swiftly losing all color.

"Sorry! I'm not going to grab you," Willow stated as she quickly moved towards the empty dresser on the opposite side of the room. "Look, I'm removing these." She flicked her wrists and two blades shot out - a regular from her right sleeve and one of silver from the left - and she positioned them both on top of the dresser next to her. "See, now I'm unarmed!" She waved her arms in a nervous manner to show she wasn't hiding any other hidden weaponry and then started to bounce on the balls of her feet to show her leggings hid no similar weaponry.

The appearance of the nervous engineer bouncing and waving her arms like a lunatic - while still attempting to project a reassuring smile - was simply too much for the still freshly woken intruder and she were unable to contain a small giggle. Willow froze, mid-motion, and frowned as she realized just how silly she appeared to Tara.

"Good job Willow, way to exude and aura of confidence and maturity. Here's some woman in your bed and all you can do is throw weaponry around while acting like a complete spazmaster instead of-"

"It's okay," Tara interrupted.

"No, it's not okay. I'm supposed to be this smarty-pants - not a smarty-dress since you probably have realized just how cumbersome it is to move around freely in those things while walking about - but instead all you get is a weepy loon with no manners or grace. I mean I haven't even introduced myself! My parents would be so disappointed in me! Okay, my mom already is with the whole no-marriage-thingy but this is too much - even for my dad and when he find out I won't even be allowed to call myself a-"

"Rosenberg. That's your name, Willow Rosenberg."

Willow nodded and realized that Tara had calmed down and now sat in a more relaxed stance than she had before Willow's verbal diarrhea had begun.

"That's my name! Wait, how'd you know that? We haven't met before, have we?"

Tara shook her head with a smile. "Everyone knows about you, miss Rosenberg. You're the main reason I'm here?"

Willow's eyebrows rose high. "Me? Why?" She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Nobody ever willingly seek me out. In fact, people make effort to avoid me and my freaky self."

"Because you're free. You were right before; I'm hiding from my family because I'm not allowed to say no to the marriage. As far as I've found out, you - and only you - are the singular woman in this city who actually wield her own fate."

"Well, that's true. My situation and circumstances are kind of... unique though. I spent years priming the land to set up the convoluted process that let me become emancipated and it required the support, and benevolent manipulation, of my father which," Willow stopped as Tara's face fell into defeat.

"Wait! That doesn't mean I'm gonna throw you to the wolves, Tara. Just because I'm lucky doesn't mean I'm going to let you suffer marriage with some cruel Doyle man - not against your will."

"It's... It's not him," Tara said as she dipped her head to hide her blue eyes behind her long hair.

Willow's confusion returned as she waited for Tara to elaborate.

"It's not the Doyle man. I don't know him and he seems nice but he's... He's not what I want. He's just not for me."

Willow nodded sagely - despite not actually comprehending the implications of the statement - before returning to her earlier joviality. "Well, my offer still stand - no matter your reasons for wanting to avoid being forced into marriage!"

"W-what offer?"

"Oh, I forgot to actually make it. Well, you see, I live in this room."

"Yes, I figured that much, miss Rosenberg."

"Please, it's Willow. And how?"

"Okay," Tara accepted with some discomfort. "I came here to find you and hid after I snuck in yesterday evening. I waited for you to retire to your quarters so I could ask for your help but you never came."

Willow moved to the bed and sat down where she had been positioned before she had found Tara's sleeping body. She did this without thought but Tara accepted the approach despite her own lingering nervousness.

"Yeah, funny story that. I don't really sleep here. You see, I sleep and store my clothes in the library where I spend most of my days. That's why it's so cold and dark in here since you've apparently decided to play at being a bat and hide in this void."

Tara smiled as she marginally raised her chin. "If I lit the fire or the candles I'd be noticed from the outside, wouldn't I?"

Willow opened her mouth to respond before halting herself, considered the reasoning for a moment and then she simply nodded. "True. Obviously, you're a lot better at this sneaky stuff than I am. I mean I didn't even notice you until I laid down beside you. Had I not done so you'd probably still be sleeping here for days without food or water and oh G-d you haven't eaten since the party, have you?"

Tara shyly shook her head; she hadn't even gotten the chance to think of food since she had been abruptly woken up.

"Lucky for you it's dinnertime in, well, any minute now! I usually eat by myself so I'll just grab an extra-big portion and we'll both eat here!"

"I don't want to impose..."

"You're not imposing, I'm offering!" Willow's enthusiasm for her hastily concocted plan seemed to grow for every moment.

"Still, I don't want to be a bother."

Willow frowned for a moment before flashing a huge grin. "Okay, how about this. I'm supposed to clean the room and swap my sheets today so Frisk doesn't get cranky so if you do that while I'm gone I'll 'pay' you with a fine dinner!

Tara's facial features softened slightly and Willow knew she was about to convince her.

"Also, I'll be so crass as to demand for your company while we eat. Is that enough to soothe your conscience?"

Tara finally allowed for a smile and extended her hand towards the host. "Okay Willow, it's a deal."

"Excellent," Willow stated as she gently shook the offered hand. "I'll get the food and be back in a jiffy! Or, if it's delayed for some reason, two jiffies. Two-and-a-half jiffy, tops!"

Tara could only stare in shocked wonder as the red-head swiftly exited the room, almost bursting in excitement.







Willow returned to Tara fifteen minutes later - or roughly one-and-a-half jiffy in her own scientific estimation - sporting a large grin and carrying an even larger tray holding both dinner, bread and large mug of hot tea.

"I'm back! The others were busy going over the final touches necessary for the infirmary restoration so I could sneak away a lot more food than I thought I would've. We got meatloaf, bread from the bakery and some imported tea. It's the good stuff too, since Giles is too picky for any cheap imitation product. I only got one mug though or else they'd find out I have a guest but if you're not willing to share I can always get my tea later in the day."

Tara smiled gratefully at her nervous host.

"Sharing sounds great, Willow. This is all so much, I hope nobody will be going hungry because of my intrusion."

Willow shook her head. "Nope," she replied and popped the P as she did. "Frisk always make too much food as it is - we got a pretty generous budget when it comes to that matter due to our low numbers - and since both me and Alex are still at the end of our growing years nobody should question if we eat more than our sizes would suggest. Oh, I hope you're okay with a couple of sugars in the tea! I forgot to ask - sorry about that - and just added them out of habit which was rude and inconsiderate of me."

Tara giggled and Willow relaxed at the harmonious sound. "I rarely drink tea as it is but two sugars sounds like I would barely notice them anyway. Shall we begin?"

She patted next to her on the bed and Willow sat down and placed the tray between them. They quietly(if greedily) ate and soon the meatloaf was a thing of the past. The bread was saved for later in the day and once they had begun with the tea Willow broke the comfortable silence.

"You really cleaned up fast in here, Tara. Which is good, I'd hate for you to live in a pigsty while you're here and-"

"L-live?" Tara interrupted. "I'm going to live here?"

"Well I promised you I'm not going to throw you out on the street or turn you back to daddy Maclay, didn't I? And since I no longer have my student apartment I can't really offer you any other place to live - not even my father would let me loan out my childhood bed without any explanation and he would be obliged to turn you in or his businesses would be in danger."

"But I can't throw you out of your own room!"

Willow grinned. "Sure you can! As I said earlier, I rarely sleep here anyway and we're out of renovated quarters. So you're going to sleep in here while I sleep in the library and in the meanwhile I'll try to find a way for you to get free. I can continue snagging extra portions and Frisk, the Steward, won't go in here because I'm a laa-aady so until he hire a maid this room is off-limits to everyone but us!"

"Wow," was all Tara could offer as a reply. "You've really thought this thing through?"

"Obviously. Why did you think I was so quiet during the entire dinner?" She tapped the temple of her head. "This little nut was working overtime to ensure you wouldn't have to sleep on the street or anything. This way you'll be safe and you won't even have to see me often if you don't want to, I'm not going to force you to spend time with miss Upsala Outcast 1868-72 just because you're in a bit of a pickle."

Tara dropped her head. "Y-you're not going to be here?"

Willow looked at her, confused. "I thought you wouldn't want me here. People rarely do; I'm not good with people and I babble a lot and wig them out so I stay by myself instead. Less risk of complete humiliation and unavoidable cases of the awkwardness that way."

Tara looked up from behind the curtain of hair. "What if I want you to talk to me?"

"Why," Willow asked with complete sincerity.

"You're friendly and good-hearted and you haven't been rude to me."

"Not yet," she sighed. "I eventually insult everyone - accidently or not - and then you might be so miffed that you leave and I don't want you in danger just because I'm a spaz."

Tara looked up again, her eyes meeting Willow's. "I won't, I promise."

"You sure? Because I won't be offended-"

"I promise," she reiterated and put her hands on top of Willow's fidgeting ones.

Willow beamed a huge smile at her. "O-okay then. If you say so. I'd love to spend more time with you as well, to be honest. You seem nice and haven't once insulted me for my chronic foot-in-mouth disease. The others are nice, too, but they're like a close-knit family while I'm the weird newbie despite them being the foreigners while I'm the local. I mean, Alex have made more friends in a month than I've made in my entire life and that's just not fair! But, no worries. I'll find a way for you to be free - one way or the other!"

"How? If it's like you said, your situation is kind of unique then I seem quite trapped."

The red-head pointed towards the wall in the direction the library was. "The library, obviously! The Society have this huge library - the one I sleep in - and I spend most of my days just reading the books there. I'm certain that with an applied and focused mind I'll find another way to replicate the results! Sure, most of the books are about the Vaesen and rituals and folk tales but there's a lot of practical stuff in there too!"

Tara looked at her, stunned. "Y-you know about the Vaesen?"

Willow frowned. "Shit. I'm not supposed to talk about them to those without the Sight. Sorry." Tara looked at her with a sly grin as she waited for Willow's mind to catch up with her mouth. "Wait, you know about them?"

Tara nodded with a small smile. "I thought I was going insane. I kept seeing these small bearded people and faeries and other creatures not really of this world. You're saying I'm n-not crazy?"

"Not at all! It's called having 'the Sight' and everyone here has it. We're actually a group that seek out and pacify situations where humans and Vaesen come into conflict, that's the Society!"

"Willow?" The smaller girl paused to look at Tara. "What is this 'Society'?"

"Oh boy, that's a dozy. Let me get the relevant books and I'll explain all about it, okay?"

Willow didn't wait for an answer and in moments she had left the quarters, closing the door behind her as Tara remained on the bed with the tray and a mind - one buzzing from all new revelations presented to her.

'I'm not going mad. I'm not alone in this!'


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Steward Algot Frisk

Image courtesy of Vaesen RPG, Fria Ligan publishing

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 5 Posted
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:32 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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Dibs! :whip
The drawing of Algot Frisk reminds me of the character "Argus Filch" in the Harry Potter movies. From the snippets we've seen from him so far (especially his conversation with Willow) he seems to be way nicer than Filch, though.

You said that Willow's secret would be revealed in "the next chapter". I couldn't find it in this one, so did you mean the next to come?
You did reveal why Tara sought out Willow's room, but I'm still curious how she knew which room of the castle is supposed to be Willow's and how she managed to get there undetected (I can't imagine that Willow left the window open or that she could have just wandered in through the door).

Quote:
She waved her arms in a nervous manner to show she wasn't hiding any other hidden weaponry and then started to bounce on the balls of her feet to show her leggings hid no similar weaponry.

:laugh Spazzy Willow is so cute!

Quote:
"I'll get the food and be back in a jiffy! Or, if it's delayed for some reason, two jiffies. Two-and-a-half jiffy, tops!"

Tara could only stare in shocked wonder as the red-head swiftly exited the room, almost bursting in excitement.

Willow returned to Tara fifteen minutes later - or roughly one-and-a-half jiffy in her own scientific estimation

Adorable - and nice to know the time span of a "jiffy".

Quote:
This way you'll be safe and you won't even have to see me often if you don't want to, I'm not going to force you to spend time with miss Upsala Outcast 1868-72 just because you're in a bit of a pickle."

Tara dropped her head. "Y-you're not going to be here?"

Willow looked at her, confused. "I thought you wouldn't want me here. People rarely do; I'm not good with people and I babble a lot and wig them out so I stay by myself instead. Less risk of complete humiliation and unavoidable cases of the awkwardness that way."

Tara looked up from behind the curtain of hair. "What if I want you to talk to me?"

"Why," Willow asked with complete sincerity.

"You're friendly and good-hearted and you haven't been rude to me."

"Not yet," she sighed. "I eventually insult everyone - accidently or not - and then you might be so miffed that you leave and I don't want you in danger just because I'm a spaz."

Tara looked up again, her eyes meeting Willow's. "I won't, I promise."

"You sure? Because I won't be offended-"

"I promise," she reiterated and put her hands on top of Willow's fidgeting ones.

So sad that Willow is so certain that Tara wouldn't want her company or would shun her after getting to know her better. I hope that Tara's love will help her realize her own self worth soon and that she'll find more friends once she is more confident herself. Maybe Buffy could also become part of your story as another new member of the society and take the role of female best friend for Willow?


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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 5 Posted
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:06 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Will's redemption wrote:
Dibs! :whip
The drawing of Algot Frisk reminds me of the character "Argus Filch" in the Harry Potter movies. From the snippets we've seen from him so far (especially his conversation with Willow) he seems to be way nicer than Filch, though.

As I'm not a fan of HP(and especially not of JKR) I don't know the character and can't compare.

Quote:
You said that Willow's secret would be revealed in "the next chapter". I couldn't find it in this one, so did you mean the next to come?

Oops yeah I mixed up where that subject were... addressed. But yeah Janna's gift is a hint.

Quote:
You did reveal why Tara sought out Willow's room, but I'm still curious how she knew which room of the castle is supposed to be Willow's and how she managed to get there undetected (I can't imagine that Willow left the window open or that she could have just wandered in through the door).

She snuck in(which hasn't been addressed here yet but this Tara is quite the adept sneak) while the group were busy elsewhere. One inside it wouldn't take too long to find the correct room by the process of elimination. Fun fact - all of the major characters actually have character sheets from the RPG because I'm a nerd and enjoyed making them. Stealth is one of Tara's 'best' skills.

Quote:
Adorable - and nice to know the time span of a "jiffy".

Well you have to establish the basic laws of the universe or we'll all end up using something silly like the Imperial measurement system. ;)

Quote:
So sad that Willow is so certain that Tara wouldn't want her company or would shun her after getting to know her better. I hope that Tara's love will help her realize her own self worth soon and that she'll find more friends once she is more confident herself. Maybe Buffy could also become part of your story as another new member of the society and take the role of female best friend for Willow?

Willow's(even worse than canon S1) complete lack of confidence in her own social skills are something that I wanted to establish early on. In 19th century Sweden Jews were not... popular(segregation and restrictions ahoy!) and women were not supposed to stand out of the crowd. At all. Willow's interest in 'unfeminine' subjects from an early age, her religious and ethnic background, the lack of 'stable' friends like Xander and Jesse, her tendency to talk when indulged, and Amy's abandonment following familial pressure all helped to reinforce her own dismal self-image. When she decided to manipulate her father into eventually helping her get emancipated it also shone a spotlight on her as an outsider - a woman who refused to accept her place and acted far too 'mannish' for the rest of the middle and upper classes.

Mind though, women in the lower classes still worked the fields, the stalls and the factories at this time(on top of working in the home). Not that it'd ever get recognized by society at large.

As for Buffy(not a huge spoiler):
Spoiler:
She's in the story but won't be a major player - I'm planning to use secondary characters from the Buffyverse in larger roles for this story.

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 Post subject: Burgher and Baker
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2021 11:45 am 
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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
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Western shore of Upsala by the Fyris River

Image courtesy of Vaesen RPG, Fria Ligan publishing


Located on the eastern half of Upsala at 57 Wellspring Street(just next door to the infamous brothel) the tavern known as the Burgher and Baker was the premier hangout for a menagerie of both men and women of ill-repute. Vagabonds, streetwalkers, corrupt officers, thieves, thugs and laborers all frequented the establishment that offered aquavit, ale, beer and vodka for low prices and even lower quality. While the O'Connor couple that ran the Whirlwind Gang were the owners of the establishment, it was in reality managed by the notorious blabbermouth known as Willy the Snitch.

Willy was one of the younger officers of the Eire Galloglaigh who had risen in rank and stature not through any skill-at-arms or tactical brilliance but as a staff officer who bartered information and rumors to undermine his rivals and and secure a sizeable pension once the company dissolved and settled in Upsala. Despite being known for being a notorious coward, and willing to flip information with little incitement, he had managed to keep his covetous position due to sheer familiarity. Everyone knew he was unreliable and lied as easy as he would breathe as that provided a certain kind of stability, even for the otherwise notoriously fickle Angelface.

Alexander Giles had visited the establishment several times per week since he first moved to Upsala with his father and surrogate sister. Despite being an heir of a noble family - if a very low-ranked one - in the British Empire he was not considered a noble(with all the special privileges that usually entailed) in Sweden as the Giles' coat of arms was not registered in the Swedish 'House of Nobility,' the royal registry of all noble families recognized within the borders of the Kingdom. Nonetheless, due to the Empire's prestige(and the small size of the city) he, and his father, were still treated with some respect but that reprieve was fickle at best; if Castle Gyllencreutz and the Society failed to manifest any wealth, safety or prestige they'd have to be prepared to get laughed out of town. At best.

Alex didn't care about his own reputation - he never had. While he did enjoy the status that his father's name granted him he had never been one for the politics and games the noble houses played out for wealth and prestige. He had always been a big guy, and good with his hands, and never had the talent or interest to follow his father's footsteps into scholarly education. It's why he were in charge of the reconstruction and reinforcement of Gyllencreutz but it was also why he'd never be the son that Rupert had wanted him to be.

He knew that Rupert loved him - that had never been in doubt - but he could never avoid the shadow of his father's lingering disappointment, the flecks of pain he could glance in the eyes of the elder Giles when he would momentarily drop his usually guarded exterior.

And it hurt. It really fucking hurt. And instead of wallowing in that hurt, he put it in a bottle and left the bottle on a shelf in his mind. The problem was that since those shelves were already full - so instead he took down the bottles containing alcoholic spirits to dull the pain and make space for those containing his bottled-up resentments.

Also, he really fucking loved to drink.

Both Kendra and Giles knew he was a 'social drinker' but were not aware just how much he dove into the 'hobby' and with what fervor he did it in. He had always been talented in hiding it though - and it had never affected his work. He took great pride in the diligence of his handiwork, what he built would ripple through generations if he did it well. He didn't need books to make his mark on history - he was going to (re)build the castle that held the library that held his father's books.

Alex also used his drinking as an icebreaker and had made his natural charm(and a fortunate talent for information gathering) into an artform as he was very able to control his drunken tongue while his drinking buddies rarely possessed that same ability, an advantage he took great advantage of.

So there he was, drinking at the bar alone that early evening. After another eventful day where they were not only visited by the police but still almost managed to finish restoring the infirmary before they had enjoyed a dinner - where both his father and his new friend Willow were absent - and then came back to the Burgher and Baker. He wasn't there with a purpose this time, there were no suspicion that the missing Maclay woman was attacked by Vaesen and there were currently no rumors or research to dig into in the service of his father. Of the Society.

He only got halfway through his first mug of dark Irish ale before a young woman took the seat next to him.

"Willy! Gimme one like he got. And refill his once it's empty, got it?"

The weaselly barkeep hurried to fulfill the order as Alex turned towards the woman.

He had seen her before - many times - while visiting the tavern and it wasn't just because of her striking figure, shoulder-length brown hair or hazel eyes that he had ensured that he wouldn't miss when she was in the vicinity. No, the main reason he memorized Faith Lehane's appearance was because she was well-known - infamous even - in the poorer quarters in the city. The daughter and only child of a veteran soldier within the Eire, Faith was the only surviving member of the Lehane family in the Swedish kingdom. She had also been the main enforcer of the Whirlwind Gang for the last five years - usurping the role at the mind-boggling age of sixteen. Despite her unremarkable size she had a fearsome reputation as an expert blademaster and threw her daggers - a large number of blades that she somehow hid all over her body under her otherwise revealing clothes - with an accuracy that had spawned rumors of a past as a performance artist.

It was said that Faith feared no man or monster but the O'Connors. Alex had seen her fighting a week earlier - just after going out celebrating when they had fully inducted Rosenberg into the Society - when she had engaged three men who tried to welsh on their fees at the next-door brothel. Two of the men limped away with bruises and missing teeth while the third was found by the constabulary the next day floating face-down in the Fyris River.

Despite numerous fractures, cuts and bruises the matter was swiftly declared as a suicide and no extensive investigation had taken part. Chief Finch fired the coroner that same evening but Judge De Hoffryn refused to reopen the case, as was his custom.

"No thanks, miss Lehane. I can still pay for my own drinking habit."

She laughed, loud enough to attract notice from the nearby tables. "Sure you can but it's not like I'm paying anyway. And it's not an offer, get it? You're my drinking buddy for the next little while and you're going to answer me a couple 'o questions in gratitude for my generosity, okay?"

Alex stiffened his back for a moment before surrendering the issue. If he tried to fight the matter he'd probably end up as a yet another organic buoy in the Fyris before sundown. As such he elected to sweep the rest of his mug before Willy filled it up again. If he was gonna get extorted he might as well get something out of it, right?

"Alright miss, you got until I'm done with this ale and them I'm out of here. Deal?"

She grinned. "Dealio, Alexio. First question is easy; how come you're never visiting our fine whores despite being such a fan of this dank hole?"

He almost choked on his ale and needed half a minute to stop his coughing. "That's easy to you, miss?"

"Yeah. I mean, you're not one of those puritans that you brits dumped in the colonies back then and I know for sure you're a fan of the fucking so why the shrinking violet act?"

He stared at her incomprehensibly for a few moments before regaining his composure. "Okay. Wow. Several reasons. First, I don't like to pay for play. Second, I'd prefer not to die of illnesses before I turn thirty. Third, there's no shrinking involved here in any way, got it? Finally, I've seen some of your women at that place and-"

Faith was on her feet, as swift as a viper, and pressed a large blade to his femoral artery. "You listen to me you limey fuck and you listen good. Those girls are not my women and if you ever imply anything of the sorts again I'll make you a prime candidate for membership at the nearest monastery. Got it?"

He nodded nervously but - to his credit - he didn't falter. She sheathed the blade again and reclaimed her place at the nearby stool in one swift motion.

"Good. Second question; is there a logical reason your old man has been making himself a regular at the looney bin or is he just booking a room for whenever your lot break from the same crap that got the last people who owned that old ruin?"

Yet again Alex was caught off-guard but he tried to hide the obvious surprise. He had no idea Rupert had been visiting the asylum at all, or even if the information she just revealed was true in the first place. For all he knew she could just be testing him to assure the truth of his answers.

"No idea, miss. It's the first thing I hear about it but - considering his expertise in the field of delusions and hallucinations related to mythology - it's not very surprising that he'd interview staff or patients with those very symptoms."

She narrowed her eyes for a couple of seconds, as if she were trying to see any trace of lies in his facial features. She returned to her ale with a shrug, seemingly satisfied with his answer.

"Strange guy. No wonder you skipped the books and started pounding walls, wood, whiskey and women instead. Does good for that wicked body of yours, too."

She grinned as he glanced at her. Anyone else would've gotten their head smashed into the counter for the insult against his father but that road only lead to his own swift and brutal death when Faith were the offending party.

"Thanks, I guess." He glanced into his mug. "I'm almost done here so you got one more question before I'm heading out. Make it a good one."

"Fair enough, Alexander the Giles of Prudingtown. Now I get why you and your father brought that Kendra Young chick with you, I mean she's a pair of legs that could even give me a run for my money, but what's with bringing that Rosenberg freak into the castle? That Jewish girl has made enemies in just about every group, church and branch of government you can think of - plus some you probably haven't - and I just can't see what bringing a celebrity of such wicked reputation gives you in the long run. Or wait, is she just a gift from your father so you won't visit our girls?"

Alexander's eyes darkened and he locked his jaw as he turned to her with steel-eyed determination. "Willow is extremely smart and capable and was recruited for those specific talents. She's a master with both the chemical and mechanical and that's on top of being the fastest reader I've ever seen. Now, I've tolerated a lot of crap in just a short minutes with you but if you plan to besmirch her name in that manner again you'll do well to do it when I'm elsewhere, got it?"

He stood up, finished his drink, and made to move towards the exit.

"Because if you don't 'get it' I'm quite certain I'm able to snap your neck before any of the three goons - I'm not counting that craven behind the bar - you currently got watching me could intervene. You need a blade to slit my throat; I only need these dumb hands that pound those dumb walls. Don't forget that, miss Lehane."

He took couple of steps before she caught up with him.

"I can respect that, Xanman. However, call me anything but Faith again and there won't even be anything for dear old poppy Giles to bury."

He nodded as he marched out of the tavern and - once he was fairly certain he was out of sight of anyone lingering at the entrance - he hurried back to the castle in a jog. The Whirlwind Gang had obviously taken notice of the Society and were not happy with not having enough information and control over the organization.

The others needed to be warned.






"Hey Tara, it's me. Willow. Willow Rosenberg. Could you please open the doors for me?"

The loud whisper from the other side of the thick door shook Tara from her reverie and she hurried to help Willow gain entrance to 'her' quarters. As soon as she opened the smaller woman tumbled into the room - her arms full with an assortment of books, journals and notebooks. Before Willow were able to regain her balance she had become a close acquaintance with the cold floor, surrounded by the bound papers that she had brought from the library.

Tara did her best to muzzle her laughter as she silently shut the door again, still taking care to avoid notice of the other inhabitants of the castle. She had lit the fire - so the room wasn't as cold as it had been when Willow left to collect the books in the library - and that small but significant alteration was enough to considerably raise the quality of living in the room.

"You know, it's not considered very polite to mock someone who was just gravelly injured in the line of duty. Okay, it's the duty of the librarian and not in combat but still a duty of sorts!"

The grin Willow displayed as Tara helped her back to her feet assured the other woman that she took no offense at the continued(if muffled) laughter. Besides, Willow's flush when she realized that Tara were helping her brush off dust from her backside was a far graver matter for the young librarian.

"Now with my dignity gone the way of the Swedish Empire I figure it's time for me to go all Gilesy - that's the old man who's brought us all together and who did this for me when I joined up - and tell you what I know about the East Aros Society."

Willow smiled at the way Tara raised her hand to ask a question. "East Aros?"

"Oh yes. East Aros is the old name for Upsala. What we today call Old Upsala was Upsala until they wanted to build the cathedral. The country was Catholic at the time so they petitioned the Pope to be allowed to call it Upsala Cathedral and the Papacy agreed - but only as long as East Aros changed its name to Upsala in the process. Fun fact, West Aros is the old name for a city about a day's ride with a coach from here, Westerås, so if they hadn't changed the name we'd probably be living in Österås now."

Willow had started pacing as she elaborated but then realized she had gotten off-subject. She shook her head as if to clear it from the distraction before turning to Tara with a grin.

"But wow that was a distracting tangent and we haven't even begun yet. Now, to the actual Society. According to our books - and Giles' helpy additions - the Society was first formed in Denmark when two people with the Sight met. An accused - and convicted - witch called Tine Rasmussen and a widowed nobleman with the name Mats Rosenberg - no relation to my family - formed the 'Order of Artemis.' They recruited others, including an Italian nun named Ana Rastelli, and the Order grew for the next two hundred years. In Upsala they recruited the renowned Carl Linnaeus who soon became the local leader but then there was drama and a mess and he left and the records burned down."

She continued pacing again while Tara gathered the books that Willow had dropped to the floor when she had first crashed at re-entry.

"After that, things started to go downhill. The Order was renamed to the Society and many branches started to dissolve. Members died all over Scandinavia and soon they reorganized and made this place, Castle Gyllencreutz, into the headquarter for the entire Society. By the end of the 18th century something happened called the 'Oulu Massacre' and a couple of decades later the last members all either died or fled. According to Giles, he is the sole survivor of the old Society which is why he has access to the books, castle and resources to allow us to rebuild the Society again!"

She stopped and looked out the window with a contended smile.

"So now there's four of us. It's 'old man' Giles who's our boss except not really, his son Alexander who's both friendly and very strong. Then there's Kendra Young; a rather rude but very dangerous fighter from the Caribbean who's been a friend of the Giles family for a decade. They came here a month ago and recruited me about a week ago to be their librarian and armorer."

"But why are you part of," Tara waves her hands to somehow gesticulate 'this cult-like organization that fight against the supernatural world that few even realize exist' to the other woman. "You're not a member of the Giles' family and from the sound of it you didn't know them until very recently, right?"

"That's true! But they allow me to be, well, me. Here I'm not just the only daughter of the Rosenberg family or a weirdo who's expected to subjugate myself to a husband and pop out a bunch of smelly kids before I die because these hips are really not made to give birth. The Society not only allow but encourage me to study and better myself but I can also help people while doing so! Sure, it's not safe and I'll probably die in some cold and dark forest before I'm forty - but at least I've lived instead of just being locked away in some manor to order some poor and most likely overworked servants around."

Tara sat quiet for a while as she contemplated over what she had been told and the implications she could formulate in her mind.

"So just who is allowed to join the Society," she eventually asked. Willow looked up from the book she had taken to read as she had waited for Tara to say something.

"Anyone with the Sight and who is willing to support our Creed. Or actually, the council of the Society votes on it. Alex gets a vote as our Treasurer, Giles gets one as the Castle Master, Kendra is the Guardian so she has a vote as well. Since they gave me double responsibilities as both Librarian and Armorer I actually get two votes so I just need to convince one of the others to support your membership and you're all set!"

"Why'd you even do that? You don't even know if I can provide anything of value to the group," Tara protested.

"Because you're kind and smart and apparently very sneaky so even if you know nothing else - which I doubt since you've grown up on a big farm and therefore must have some skills related to farmy and livestocky stuff if nothing else - you'd be able to provide that way. And, once again, I really don't want to see you go out on the streets or back to that butthead father of yours if you don't want to."

Tara smiled and started to look for something in particular amongst the gathered reading material. "So, what is this Creed you spoke of?"

"Oh, I completely forgot. Hold on, I'll just go get it!"

Willow moved towards the door, energized yet again by the warm smile Tara gave her, but froze in place when she opened the door.

What she saw on the other side was Alex - who was just about to knock on his friend's door. And he had seen Tara.

Before he could make any sound Willow grabbed her friend by his collar and pulled him(despite Alex being over twice her size) into the room and promptly shut the door close again.

'Oh fudge.'

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 6 Posted
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:28 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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Dibs! :whip
Quote:
He knew that Rupert loved him - that had never been in doubt - but he could never avoid the shadow of his father's lingering disappointment, the flecks of pain he could glance in the eyes of the elder Giles when he would momentarily drop his usually guarded exterior.

And it hurt. It really fucking hurt. And instead of wallowing in that hurt, he put it in a bottle and left the bottle on a shelf in his mind. The problem was that since those shelves were already full - so instead he took down the bottles containing alcoholic spirits to dull the pain and make space for those containing his bottled-up resentments.

Also, he really fucking loved to drink.

Both Kendra and Giles knew he was a 'social drinker' but were not aware just how much he dove into the 'hobby' and with what fervor he did it in.

So Xander is a coveted alcoholic? I worry for him. Hopefully Tara as their future "healer" will somehow sense his problem and will be able to help him overcome it.

Faith is pretty scary!
Quote:
Alexander's eyes darkened and he locked his jaw as he turned to her with steel-eyed determination. "Willow is extremely smart and capable and was recruited for those specific talents. She's a master with both the chemical and mechanical and that's on top of being the fastest reader I've ever seen. Now, I've tolerated a lot of crap in just a short minutes with you but if you plan to besmirch her name in that manner again you'll do well to do it when I'm elsewhere, got it?"

He stood up, finished his drink, and made to move towards the exit.

"Because if you don't 'get it' I'm quite certain I'm able to snap your neck before any of the three goons - I'm not counting that craven behind the bar - you currently got watching me could intervene. You need a blade to slit my throat; I only need these dumb hands that pound those dumb walls. Don't forget that, miss Lehane."

I'm touched that Xander defends his new friend Willow like this although he knows Faith could injure him gravely or even kill him if she wanted to.

Quote:
"Hey Tara, it's me. Willow. Willow Rosenberg. Could you please open the doors for me?"

The loud whisper from the other side of the thick door shook Tara from her reverie and she hurried to help Willow gain entrance to 'her' quarters. As soon as she opened the smaller woman tumbled into the room - her arms full with an assortment of books, journals and notebooks. Before Willow were able to regain her balance she had become a close acquaintance with the cold floor, surrounded by the bound papers that she had brought from the library.

Tara did her best to muzzle her laughter as she silently shut the door again, still taking care to avoid notice of the other inhabitants of the castle. She had lit the fire - so the room wasn't as cold as it had been when Willow left to collect the books in the library - and that small but significant alteration was enough to considerably raise the quality of living in the room.

"You know, it's not considered very polite to mock someone who was just gravelly injured in the line of duty. Okay, it's the duty of the librarian and not in combat but still a duty of sorts!"

The grin Willow displayed as Tara helped her back to her feet assured the other woman that she took no offense at the continued(if muffled) laughter. Besides, Willow's flush when she realized that Tara were helping her brush off dust from her backside was a far graver matter for the young librarian.

"Now with my dignity gone the way of the Swedish Empire I figure it's time for me to go all Gilesy - that's the old man who's brought us all together and who did this for me when I joined up - and tell you what I know about the East Aros Society."

:laugh Willow is so cute!

Quote:
Willow moved towards the door, energized yet again by the warm smile Tara gave her, but froze in place when she opened the door.

What she saw on the other side was Alex - who was just about to knock on his friend's door. And he had seen Tara.

Before he could make any sound Willow grabbed her friend by his collar and pulled him(despite Alex being over twice her size) into the room and promptly shut the door close again.

'Oh fudge.'

I'm sure Willow and Tara will be able to convince Xander not to tell any of the others about Tara hiding in the castle for now and to support her acceptance as a new member of the society.
Giles senior will probably approve Tara as well once he makes the connection that she is the healer "of the earth".


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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 6 Posted
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:06 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Will's redemption wrote:
So Xander is a coveted alcoholic? I worry for him.

Yup. His tendency to retreat into alcohol is more than hinted at in canon so I made it a developed trait for a marginally older Xander in an era where a LOT of people - especially physical laborers - had alcohol problems. In fact, by this time it was a common practice for laborers to get part of their salary paid in alcohol and would continue for another 50ish years.

Quote:
Faith is pretty scary!

Thank you! Since this is a world without Slayers I needed to establish that Faith didn't need superpowers to be terrifying when she wants to - despite her rather smallish size.

Quote:
I'm touched that Xander defends his new friend Willow like this although he knows Faith could injure him gravely or even kill him if she wanted to.

I have my issues with the character of Xander but if there's one thing he were it was 'loyal'. Willow is willing to offer her friendship and trust towards him(remember, he's the only one who knows about the Rheinlander)? Yeah he's gonna reciprocate that trust and seeds of friendship.

And if nothing else - they're comrades in arms now. That meant something.

Quote:
I'm sure Willow and Tara will be able to convince Xander not to tell any of the others about Tara hiding in the castle for now and to support her acceptance as a new member of the society.
Giles senior will probably approve Tara as well once he makes the connection that she is the healer "of the earth".

Problem for Giles is three-fold: 1. While he is obviously willing to trust Willow(otherwise he wouldn't have moved for her recruitment) he doesn't know her as well as he knows his son and de facto adoptive daughter.
2. The others doesn't know about his visits at the Asylum and he'd have to explain how he's made that association.
3. Political fallout. The Irish families may still be considered mostly rabble but they hold power and influence - the Maclay family in particular own a large percentage of the non-University owned farms in the region. Those who feed the people can influence the people.

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 Post subject: Metals and Morality
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:28 am 
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After spending most of the day interviewing the present candidates for the castle guard - with infuriatingly few suitable candidates to be found - Kendra decided to go out for a walk, to stretch her legs and get more acquainted with the local geography and populace. The recruitment process was already slow - the castle had a lot of superstitious rumors surrounding its colorful history - but with the active manhunt for the missing bride distracting the local populace there were few who took the call for recruits seriously and even fewer who had both the skills and discretion necessary for the job.

Of the full dozen men who had shown up, less than half had any sort of combat training or experience. Of those, four refused to take orders from a woman and the final two both showed signs of either opium or alcohol abuse, both obvious weak points for hostile groups and individuals to take advantage of given half the chance to do so.

So she was left with three men, none of them with any combat experience but with some training, and no women showing any interest. This didn't surprise her, she had already realized that few women in the backward kingdom had any potential, interest or even possibility to go down the same route that Kendra herself had done in the past. She'd do follow-up interviews with the three men in a few days when the second 'open house' was scheduled and hopefully they'd be accompanied by more fitting candidates who didn't show up on the first 'open house.'

Not likely, but there was always a chance. A small one.

On her way back towards the castle after a lengthy - if monotonous - walk, she frowned when noticing the mud forming layers upon layers on her trusty leather boots. The streets of eastern Upsala were in poor condition and - being a notable individual in a city that were suspicious of strange outsiders - she didn't feel comfortable taking a stroll on the richer side of the river, well aware of the temptation she'd present to corrupt members of the city watch who might risk an arrest in order to extort bail from her comrades.

The irony of an unescorted, foreign woman walking down Black Creek Avenue in the early evening being safer than if she had been circling the city's renowned Cathedral was not lost on her.

That she suddenly found herself surrounded by five men - carrying a hatchet, club, dagger, sickle and a knife respectively - didn't help soothe her sense of unease. They were a scrappy bunch of young men, none of them appeared to even be out of their teenage years, who had managed to isolate her in the street that seemed so very active just a few minutes earlier.

Kendra made a quick appraisal of her situation. She had three men in front of her and the other two, the pair carrying the sickle and dagger, cut off her only possible escape route. They carried themselves in a sloppy manner and seemed to compensate for their obvious amateurism and inexperience with sheer enthusiasm and bravado. That the leader was the biggest of the group - a man that Kendra immediately recognized as one of the candidates from the earlier interviews who refused to take orders from a woman - that carried the hatchet was obvious to the warrior's experienced scrutiny.

She sighed as she cursed the law that prevented women like herself from carrying any weaponry in the streets. With her trusty sabre she'd dispatch her attackers with ease but as it were, the freshly maintained blade would be resting in it's sheath on top of her perfectly made bed - military corners and all. "I don't suppose that this is an attempt to get a second interview, Klas Mässing?"

"I'm afraid not, mudgirl. This is a changing of the guard y'see," he spat out with an ugly grin, several of his missing teeth giving him a slight lisp as he spoke.

She scoffed, buying time with the predictable banter while using the stalled ambushers hesitance in an attempt to find the opportunity to turn the tactical situation to her advantage - or at least to give her a fighting chance. "Is that so? How do you suppose that would happen?"

"Well, those pricks you grovel for? They'd wonder for a few days where you ended up and after giving up on their tame mongrel bitch they'd start looking for a new boss guard and that's where I'd step in. Then my boys here would be all hired up and suddenly we'd have both jobs and complete control over what comes in and out of that ruined hovel of yours."

She arched a brow. "Is that so?"

The man nodded with an ugly grin.

"I think you severely underestimate mister Giles' rigorous screening process; he'd be more likely to have you arrested as vagrants than hire any of your impotent lot."

The leader frowned but kept his calm, too clever to fall for such an obvious attempt to provoke him out of formation. The man next to him - the one carrying the hefty wooden club - lacked the same restraint and, eager to prove her accusation of their implicit unmannish vitalities wrong, charged up to her in a fury despite his boss's barked protests.

He swung the weapon down from over his head and she swiftly sidestepped the attack and kneed him in the groin, both in petty spite and to prove to the man that she'd make sure her insult was proven true by the end of any eventual fighting. He collapsed into the mud in a pitiful squeak and she confiscated his weapon and used it to knock him unconscious in one fluid motion.

"Now, was there anything else to take care of or can I continue my evening stroll in peace? I really don't have time with any has-beens from the Metalheads."

Mässing frowned, both at the sorry state of his idiotic friend but also at her reminder of his previously fortunate past. Kendra would freely admit she wasn't the most gifted student, but she was if nothing else a diligent one. When she had found out about their upcoming relocation to Upsala she had started researching the cultures, religions and history of the strange northern city. It hadn't taken her long after first arriving in the city to find an elderly man in the Jewish quarter who had fond memories of the old Society and who willingly spoke of the status and history of the gangs that controlled the streets at night. One of the gangs that had lost their power when the Whirlwind had violently taken control of most of the city was the 'Metalheads,' a coalition of families of primarily mining background who used brute force and threats to rob and extort their fellow men at night.

"We'll show you who's the has-been, mud whore. Once we're done with you we'll make sure that old fuck Giles regret ever setting his foot on Swedish soil. But before that I'll force him to watch while we sodomize his son and that Jewish slut to death, know this as you bleed out on these here streets."

He rushed forward with the sickle-wearing flanker bringing up a second front at her back. The other two remained in place, likely to keep an eye out for any passing guard, and Kendra was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth when presented with an opportunity to even the odds a bit and as such, dove into action with a spirited fervor. She turned on her heel and swung towards the sickle-wearing attacker as he tried to sever her spine from behind but her earlier demonstration had been too effective; he held back and she was unable to properly connect with the attack.

Klas had no such hesitation and swung the hatchet towards her in an attempt to separate her arm at the shoulder. She turned away from the attack and he caught nothing but air but kept his composure as he prepared to press the attack, intentions to keep her reeling being made clear for all of the combatants.

"Oi! What's all this about you doing something to the Gileses lot, Mässing?"

The heavily accented inquiry signaled that a new actor had appeared on the stage. Wearing a dirty leather duster, dark but flexible clothing, blue eyes and curly brown hair, he sported a wide and cocky grin but nothing else. Next to him was a woman a few years younger than himself and - unlike his flashy mannerism - she wore simple clothes, dirty auburn hair and an expression that betrayed nothing of her emotional state. Where he was seemingly unarmed she wore a long skinning knife but made no movement towards putting it in action.

"This is not for you twats, Pratt. Get lost and we'll leave you and your sis in peace."

The newcomer turned toward his sister. "Justine, do you want to deal with this one?"

She didn't respond but he sprinted towards the flanker carrying the dagger, faster than any other man Kendra had ever seen. He ran past not only the man he sent his sister to handle, but also Kendra and the two men she were again fighting now that the interlude was over. While bringing her club down in the back of the head of her sickle-carrying assailant Kendra saw - in the corner of her eye - how the sprinter had not only jumped the dagger-wielding thug but broken his nose and wrist with a few quick but devastating strikes with nothing but his bare fists.

Justine slowly moved towards the only man who wasn't active in the skirmish. Despite carrying a larger knife than the strange woman he remained in place until she was just out of arms' reach. He swung wildly and she completely dodged the clumsy attack by slightly bending backwards, just enough to assure her safety without having to do more than shift her feet. Before he was able to go for a second attempt she brought up her own blade and in one long series of swings she ended the battle. He lost four fingers on the hand that held the knife and two on the other. Before he could scream she had managed to cut open deep wounds in both arms and legs and finished the series of attacks by cutting his throat so deep that he was dead before hitting the ground.

Klas hadn't realized that he was alone when Kendra grabbed the sickle and swung it in an upward motion, lodging it securely in his groinal area.

"I'm sorry about this, Mässing, but I can not suffer any threat against my family to live. May God grant you the forgiveness that I am unable to."

He collapsed to the ground and she dropped her weapons once she was sure all the attackers were out of action. To her horror, she saw how Justine was repeatedly cutting open new wounds on the corpse of the man who she had just killed.

"Oi! Baby bird! Time to stop. You did well already and we all need to move before the local 'Yard bugger us sideways."

To Kendra's undisguisable confusion the other woman immediately stopped her bloody assault - without any visible or audible protestations - and quickly wiped her blade on a part of the clothes the corpse carried that weren't yet caked in blood and mud. Her brother turned to Kendra with a grin and she finally saw that he wasn't completely unarmed; he wore a pair of elaborate knuckle dusters that were easily hidden away from any snooping constables.

"Tell old man Giles that the Pratt debt with his kind is now settled, y'hear? William Pratt always pays his dues, even if it might take almost a decade to do so. Now scram little bird, before your luck goes sideways."

The stunned Kendra was still unable to speak, too confused by the series of events that left her side-by-side by a lunatic woman and cocky pugilist with referenced history to her patron house.

In the end, a slight nod in thanks was all she could muster before she eventually turned back the way she came from. At the same time the English siblings went the opposite way while the three surviving attackers remained on the ground as the summoned constable approached the skirmish area.






"Okay, first of all - ouch!"

Alex bitterly rubbed the back of his head after Willow had finally released her iron grip on his collar - which was after she had accidently pushed him up towards the stone wall which failed to offer any kind treatment to the hardy foreman's thick skull. In her defense, Willow at least had the decency to look apologetic for the rough treatment she had subjected him to. In the bed behind her sat Tara, still wearing the dress she wore during the pre-wedding celebrations but now her mannerisms had regressed back to the fearful state Willow had first found her in.

"Sorry Alex, I didn't mean to hurt you and I didn't even know I could I mean you're so big and I'm not and what are you doing in my room don't you know it's poor manner to intrude on a lady's private quarters?"

Despite her frantic babble and nervous gesticulating she attempted to look stern.

She came up far too short.

"Hey Willster? Not only was it you who physically dragged me in here but you've explicitly told me you're not a lady and that you hate being treated like one. I mean you make bombs and weapons and kind of terrify me with what you're capable of doing with those small hands of yours. And unless I'm mistaken I am not the one who's hiding a missing bride-to-be that we swore, quite incriminatingly and in front of a decent number of reliable witnesses, was very much not located in our castle."

She wilted momentarily under his accusations and decided to go for the metaphorical Hail Mary.

"M-maybe you ARE! You could have switched out our rooms while we were sleeping last night to frame me and then usurp my position as librarian!"

The two friends stared daggers at each other for several seconds before Alexander finally broke down into incredulous laughter, Willow joining him moments after.

"Oh my dear Willow tree, you know that you're in trouble when you're accusing Alexander Lavelle Giles of being a scheming academic capable of hungover skullduggery and sneaky misdirection. There's not a Judge in Europe who'd fall for such ridiculous lies. Besides, that attempt sucked. Do you have any idea who this woman is?"

Willow stopped laughing and straightened her posture. "She is Tara Maclay, my dear friend and a current prospective member of the Society!"

Tara smiled at the description but due to Willow being turned towards Alexander she took no notice of the reaction. Willow did not, however, fail to see the suspicious glare that he directed towards Tara.

His eyebrows rose in confusion. "Dear friend? You said just yesterday that you had no idea who were even getting married and now she is your dear friend? Since when?"

"Well, since just before dinner since that's when I found her in here," she muttered under her breath. "But she's really nice and friendly and she has the Sight and want to help us and we can't turn her away!"

"Since before di-" she shook his head in frustration. "Fine, that's not our biggest issue at the moment. Miss Maclay has the sight? And you told her about the Society? And just why shouldn't we just return her for the sizeable reward?"

Tara frowned and stood up. "She can speak for herself, mister Giles. Yes, I have the Sight. S-sure, up until Willow explained to me what it is I thought I was going mad but now that I realize the truth I know I can help."

Willow smiled proudly at Tara standing up for herself. "A-and yes I told her because how else are we to recruit new members if we can't inform them about who we are and what we do here?"

Alexander groaned as he stared into the roof in frustration. "Okay, I'll give you that. And miss Maclay?" He turned to her and she dipped her head under his gaze. "I'll speak with Willow because she's the one currently hiding someone in her quarters and therefore putting not just me but my father and surrogate sister in danger by doing so. We can speak later." He turned back to Willow. "You still haven't told me why we should let her seek shelter within our walls."

Willow frowned. "Because she's not going to be forced to marry against her will, that's why."

Alexander sighed and Willow bristled at the paternal lecture she knew was about to be forced upon them in return. "Willow, that's just how it is and how it's always been. You're an exception, both of us know that, but we can't just go around and grant some kind of anti-marriage amnesty to every miss who want to shirk her womanly duties!"

"Why not," she growled. "I'm only an exception because I made myself one, just like how we'll find a way to make Tara one as well because she's exceptional in many ways too! Probably even more exceptiony! You got no right at all to force her to do anything even if we have to exceptionalize every woman in this hecking city!"

"Because it's not our place!"

"But it's our place to gather those with the Sight to grow and bolster the Society! And Tara's got the Sight! And other assets!"

Tara arched a brow at Willow, curious if she comprehended the possible insinuation of the wording. Alexander, on the other hand, just threw his hands in the air in frustration.

"I'm not going to lie to my father. I won't help you lie to him or Kendra just to cover for some Irish runaway."

Willow's frown grew even more grave. "Hey! Stop that cruel jabbering, Irish women seems to be fine for you when you're the one bedding them."

"Wait, you're bedding her?"

"NO! That's not what I meant," she protested as her veins grew cold as ice at his accusation. "Just... Just give me until tomorrow before you talk to Giles. I'll find a way to solve this entire problem until then and I'll claim any and all responsibility for the fallout. Remember, I'm emancipated in the eyes of the court so I'm also legally responsible for my own actions."

He buried his face in the palms of his hands and kept them there for a moment as the considered his alternatives. After a few moments she spoke up, his face still covered. "Teatime."

Both the women looked at him, curious of what he meant.

"You have until teatime tomorrow morning," he clarified as he let his arms hang loose in apparent exhaustion. "I'll tell the others there's an emergency meeting, we have other matters to handle as a council anyway so make sure you bring her and a damn good reason for us to not cash in on that reward."

Willow nodded eagerly. "Until teatime it is. And thanks Alex, I promise you I won't regret it." She turned to Tara and beamed a wide smile that warmed the insides of the shaken newcomer.

Alexander moved to open the door but stopped just before pulling the handle. "You know," he said, glancing over his shoulder to the two women who were making his life very difficult at the moment. "If it were anyone else I'd say trying to find a loophole in arcane laws in a backwards kingdom would be a folly of epic proportions. But with you, Willster? With you I might just have to hedge my bets that you'd be able to pull this off."

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 7 Posted
PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2021 4:57 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Dibs! :whip
(Quite a shame that I'm able to do that over 3 weeks after the chapter was posted).

That was a very close call for Kendra!
Quote:
She sighed as she cursed the law that prevented women like herself from carrying any weaponry in the streets.

She should hide a blade or two in her clothes from now on (as Willow does).

Quote:
Once we're done with you we'll make sure that old fuck Giles regret ever setting his foot on Swedish soil. But before that I'll force him to watch while we sodomize his son and that Jewish slut to death, know this as you bleed out on these here streets."

Quote:
Klas hadn't realized that he was alone when Kendra grabbed the sickle and swung it in an upward motion, lodging it securely in his groinal area.

"I'm sorry about this, Mässing, but I can not suffer any threat against my family to live. May God grant you the forgiveness that I am unable to."

Good riddance! Although we can't be sure how sincere his disgusting threats against the Giles' and Willow really were it's better to be safe than sorry (plus they certainly were determined to murder Kendra and Mässing as the leader might have tried again later if she had let him live).

It's a good thing that William Pratt (aka Spike, I presume?) and his sister came to Kendra's aid. Crazy Justine is pretty scary though.

Considering that "your" Spike travels with Justine instead of Drusilla, I'm wondering if Dru will have to play a different part in your story. I would like it if she'd be one of the "good guys" in your universe, another person with the "sight" who'll join the society in the future, perhaps?

Quote:
"Sorry Alex, I didn't mean to hurt you and I didn't even know I could I mean you're so big and I'm not and what are you doing in my room don't you know it's poor manner to intrude on a lady's private quarters?"

Despite her frantic babble and nervous gesticulating she attempted to look stern.

She came up far too short.

"Hey Willster? Not only was it you who physically dragged me in here but you've explicitly told me you're not a lady and that you hate being treated like one. I mean you make bombs and weapons and kind of terrify me with what you're capable of doing with those small hands of yours. And unless I'm mistaken I am not the one who's hiding a missing bride-to-be that we swore, quite incriminatingly and in front of a decent number of reliable witnesses, was very much not located in our castle."

She wilted momentarily under his accusations and decided to go for the metaphorical Hail Mary.

"M-maybe you ARE! You could have switched out our rooms while we were sleeping last night to frame me and then usurp my position as librarian!"

The two friends stared daggers at each other for several seconds before Alexander finally broke down into incredulous laughter, Willow joining him moments after.

:laugh Willow's clumsy attempts of defending herself are hilarious and cute!

Quote:
"Hey! Stop that cruel jabbering, Irish women seems to be fine for you when you're the one bedding them."

"Wait, you're bedding her?"

"NO! That's not what I meant," she protested as her veins grew cold as ice at his accusation.

:lol Not yet...

Quote:
"You have until teatime tomorrow morning," he clarified as he let his arms hang loose in apparent exhaustion. "I'll tell the others there's an emergency meeting, we have other matters to handle as a council anyway so make sure you bring her and a damn good reason for us to not cash in on that reward."

Willow nodded eagerly. "Until teatime it is. And thanks Alex, I promise you I won't regret it." She turned to Tara and beamed a wide smile that warmed the insides of the shaken newcomer.

Alexander moved to open the door but stopped just before pulling the handle. "You know," he said, glancing over his shoulder to the two women who were making his life very difficult at the moment. "If it were anyone else I'd say trying to find a loophole in arcane laws in a backwards kingdom would be a folly of epic proportions. But with you, Willster? With you I might just have to hedge my bets that you'd be able to pull this off."

Yay that Xander relented. I have no idea how Willow will find a solution until tomorrow afternoon, but I also trust she will manage it.


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 Post subject: Oaths and Hope
PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2021 2:09 am 
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It was with both gratitude and shaky nerves that Tara held the delicate cup of tea that Frisk - the castle Steward - had offered her once she had been seated in the small greeting salon. The night had been a strange one for her. She had done her best to provide assistance to Willow's efforts while the librarian had dug into her books with a passionate fervor when she worked towards finding a way to keep Tara from her father's clutches.

Despite the increasing fear and growing panic as the night went on and the pile of unexhausted source materials grew smaller, Tara felt a strange kind of eerie calm as they continued their research. She kept coming back to what Alexander had said; that if anyone could pull out a miracle from these old books it would be Willow. And, for some reason, Tara actually believed him. More than once, Tara had caught herself staring at the red-head as Willow was captivated in her work, taking copious notes with the tip of her tongue poking out from between her teeth as the young woman concentrated on her mission.

She didn't know how late it had been when she had fell asleep but when Tara woke early (a farm-girl habit she'd kept for as long as she could remember) she found Willow sitting on the floor, fast asleep. She had fallen asleep with her back rested against the bed and Tara's heart grew fond of the complete dedication Willow gave in her quest to help a woman she had just met.

That Tara would later realize that Willow often acted in a similar manner whenever her mind was completely set on something did not diminish the gratitude of the moment.

Tara put a spare blanket over the sleeping librarian before falling back into the bed, still exhausted from the turmoil of the last few days. She fell asleep to the soothing sounds of the snores that, if pressed, Willow would most likely deny she was responsible for.

The next day she realized that Alex had actually kept his word by not mentioning Tara's situation to his father or surrogate sister and felt a brief flash of shame at doubting the man who had given her no reason to doubt his honesty. Willow once again ate in her quarters and while the two broke the morning fast she had revealed that she made a breakthrough while filling their tray in the dining hall. Willow wouldn't reveal the nature of her discovery but promised Tara that it would all be okay and Tara, for all her anxiety with the uncertainty of her future, decided to offer Willow the trust that she had - with a good margin - already earned.

Still, she couldn't avoid feeling somewhat queasy as Willow tried to calm her own thoughts before making their case. Still dressed in the (now quite dirty) dress from the aborted party, she had borrowed Willow's brush and had been given some water to wash the grime and dirt from her face, hands and feet. Alexander's unease at having lied to his family was palpable to them both and Tara made a mental note to thank him for keeping his word, despite the discomfort he had felt in doing so.

The dark-skinned woman was standing in-between father and son and her hand rested on the hilt of the saber that she had brought - most likely for intimidation if Tara were found out to have nefarious goals towards her adopted family - to the proceedings. Her eyes never left Tara who in turn realized that even if she had ill intent she'd probably confess to everything within minutes of such intense scrutiny. Villainy was not in her nature and she were only dishonest when other people's well-being were in jeopardy. 

Rupert Giles was as quiet as his son and ward but offered a marginally less hostile glare whenever his gaze turned from Willow to Tara. The latter woman realized that any anger he felt was not directed at her but at Willow and her sneaky behavior. Tara couldn't avoid the pang of guilt at the ire she had brought down on the girl that had stuck out her neck to help her out.

"Okay then," Willow began. "As you all must have realized by now; this is miss Tara Maclay. I found her in my room just before yesterday's dinner but she told me that she had been in my room since the evening of her disappearance."

"And you didn't find her until then because, despite our clear and repeated objections, you still sleep in the library at night," Kendra surmised. Willow nodded and bit her tongue, deciding to skip the issue of her sleeping habit to focus on the matter at hand.

"Yes. But after dinner Tara told me that she had the Sight and that she wanted to join us and I was like, 'hey we need recruits and our recruits must have the Sight so that's a great idea but now it's late so I'll wait for a better opportunity to bring it up with the Council' and then Alex knocked on my door and saw her and suddenly we were scheduling this emergency meeting!" Willow knew she was lying. Actually, it wasn't really lying. It was failing to reveal all the little intricacies of the entire truth due to practical necessities and in consideration for the well-being of a newly acquainted guest.

Yeah, that's it.

An awkward silence had filled the room as Tara kept her eyes focused towards her tea while Willow was nervously fidgeting with the hem of her tunic. It was Giles who eventually broke the silence.

"Sit down, Willow. I'd like for this young lady to speak for herself for a bit." Willow obliged and her eyes nervously flickered between Tara and the older man. "So, miss Maclay, you have the Sight then? Since when has you been gifted with that particular gift?"

Tara frowned before lifting her head in order to look him in the eyes. Shyness be damned, she was not going to become impolite just because she has finally fled her family home. "I don't think I'd like to call it a gift, s-sir. It's been nothing but trouble for me and up until yesterday I thought I had been cursed by the Gods, doomed to gradually go insane as I saw things that nobody else would recognize."

"Yes, I understand how that could seem to be the most likely outcome if one isn't properly informed about the intricacies of the Sight and the Vaesen," Giles replied with some discomfort. "But to the matter at hand; when did you obtain the ability to see the unseen?"

"Roughly five years ago. I was on my way home from Gothenburg with my mother and sister. We were escorted by a pair of hired guards, as well as the carriage driver, and only an hour before we would have reached my father's lands we were ambushed by... something. The carriage was overturned and I was knocked unconscious so I did not see exactly what happened but when I came to I was greeted by a passing farmhand that my father employed."

"What did you see then?"

"The young man was terrified, sir Giles. He didn't see who had attacked us but the driver was strung up in a nearby tree while the two guards had been cut down while defending me and my family. My sister was missing, I still don't know where she went, and my mother..."

She paused the recollection with Giles' silent approval and Willow held her hand in support as she slowly calmed down.

"I returned with the farmhand and my father sent out a dozen men to collect the bodies. For a week they tried to find Winnie - that's my sister - but to this day there's not been a single trace of her."

"But how does this have anything to do with the Vaesen," Alexander pushed with no small amount of impatience.

"What I never told anyone was that I had seen something just after I woke up. I saw a huge and bearded man - or a mannish creature - with a tail and gigantic nose. He had green skin and large red pupils. He glared at me with evil eyes and said something I couldn't hear but the intent was clear; he did not want us around."

"A troll," Willow declared. "Trolls often show those characteristics and can have more arms or legs, too! Was it daytime or dark when you were attacked?"

"Umm, it was during the day," Tara answered with tacit hesitation. "E-early afternoon I think."

"Then it was a forest troll. Mountain trolls are even larger and are related to giants - all three subspecies share the same fear and hate for everything Christian - but they turn to stone in daylight. They rarely kidnap people though and if you're baptized you're safe as houses from a kidnapping - which is kind of unfair for us Jews who also wish to remain unmolested but that's insane troll logic for you - so I don't understand why they'd take your sister but-" Willow paused as Alex put a hand on her shoulder and she realized that her incessant babbling was not what her new friend needed to hear at that particular moment.

"I apologize for my Willowy friend, miss Maclay. She is suffering from a chronic condition known as foot-in-mouth disease but I'm sure she really didn't mean to cause you any pain, right Willow?"

She nodded miserably. "I'm sorry Tara. My mind ran amok and now you see why I get along better with books than with people."

Tara offered a mirthless smile in response. "It's okay, I know you mean well."

"I'm sure she did, miss Maclay," Kendra added as she spoke for the first time during the meeting. "Rosenberg is rarely one graced with the expected amount tact or social skills but she is not a cruel girl. For what it's worth, we're all sorry for your loss."

"Indeed," Giles agreed. "Now to the matter of your supposed recruitment. I'm sure you understand that your situation is delicate at best for our fledgling organization and for us to accept you as a member you'd have to offer something to the Society as a whole. I wager Willow has informed you of the nature of the Society and how we elect new members?"

"She has been most helpful," Tara assured and Willow's miserable grimace softened somewhat. "As for what I can provide? I've been in charge of patching up the injured at the farm - maid, farmhand and animal alike - and have done everything from help a cow give birth to amputate a poor man's crushed hand. I'm also a quick learner and know several languages and can cook reasonable well even with only basic ingredients. Finally I'm well-versed with the medicinal properties of many of the different roots and plants of these lands."

For all her confidence in the plan she had prepared before the meeting, Willow hadn't put her mind to query Tara of her actual abilities before they entered the salon. She had been too preoccupied with the legalities and technicalities that she had overlooked the most basic questions they would reasonably be expected to answer.

To Willow's delight though, Tara made her case with no hesitation and even though Kendra didn't show any sign of being impressed both the Gileses displayed otherwise. Alex was never one to hold his tongue and showed restrained appreciation while Rupert nodded, seemingly deep in thought of the possibilities presented to him.

"Then there's the matter of your father. He is responsible for your welfare and we can't hold you against the word of the law."

"Actually," Willow pre-empted Tara's chance to respond. "I can guarantee that Tara will, once she is a member, not be prevented from remaining in the castle by the person that's legally responsible for her well-being. I can't explain how right now but I am certain of it!"

Giles turned to her with a suspicious glare. "You're asking me to just trust you that we won't face any legal issues following her eventual admittance to the Society?

"I swear upon my father's name and my own honor that Tara can't be legally prevented from staying here if she is sworn in today."

Alexander frowned. "Wait, we're voting right now? No vetting process or consideration, just 'hey here's this girl and let's vote'?"

Willow nodded. "We're kind of on a tight schedule so yes, we have to do this now. You're still allowed to vote no if it discomforts you."

Alexander turned to his father who nodded slightly. "Alright. Kendra, ladies' first."

"No," she stated without hesitation. "It's too reckless and I've not seen enough to trust that we're not endangering the Society by doing this."

Willow frowned inwardly but she had expected Kendra to vote against her. It sucked but she also knew it wasn't due to spite or hostility and Kendra did have a good reason for her vote; she didn't know Willow well enough to trust her word.

"I say no as well," Alexander added with a remorse in his tone that didn't help in soothing the hurt the words had just caused Willow. "I'm sorry Willster, but Kendra is right about this. We've already shaken the townspeople enough by admitting, well, you."

Willow had counted on Alexander's support and suddenly her brilliant plan felt a lot less certain. She didn't dare to look at Tara due to the pain she feared she was causing the woman with her failure to keep the promise she had made.

Giles sat silent, deep in contemplation while the others' looked at him expectantly. He went over the events of the last two days and thought back to the words that Elfeklint had given him before he had been dismissed from her room. 'She of the earth; the one who'll bring the craft to the wound and order to the chaos of the tree.'

He finished the last of the tea and leaned back into his chair with a smile, feeling quite smug of the obvious conclusion to the vote.

"I vote yes," was all he said and Willow held Tara firmly by the hand while fighting the urge to dance a victory jig in the middle of the room.

"So it's a dead tie," Alexander stated. "What do we do then?"

"Actually, it's not. I vote yes," Willow clarified, "and since you gave me two roles on the Council I have - according to the Society's charter -  two votes in these matters."

"Master Giles, that cannot be true," Kendra protested while Alexander nodded in support of the complaint.

Giles knew of the technicality and if Willow hadn't brought it up on her own accord he would've done so himself, he prided himself on always attempting to be both fair and pragmatic. He was glad he hadn't mentioned it in the past though. If nothing else, it proved to him that Willow really was as good with finding minor technicalities in mountains of paperwork as he had hoped for when he set out to headhunt her for the Society. They had recruited her as a researcher and she did not disappoint. "Willow is correct. Each of the eight pre-ordained positions in the Council hold a vote and if someone is burdened with the responsibility of two roles - and do their duty to the satisfaction to the rest of the Council - they get two votes in matters such as these. Do any of you wish to object to the work Willow has done in regard to her responsibilities as the Librarian or Armorer?"

"No," Alexander answered without hesitation and Kendra repeated his answer a few seconds after.

"Then miss Maclay, I welcome you to the Society. Would you wish to claim the role of Custodian after you've been sworn in as a member? It'll put you in charge of the newly constructed infirmary as well as the general well-being of our members."

Tara sat silently, still shell-shocked from the quick turnaround of her fortunes, but eventually nodded as a response. "Y-yeah, that sounds good. Thank you sir Giles, thank you everyone."

Giles stood up with a satisfied smile. "Excellent. We'll take a short break and then we'll deal with the rest of today's matters and after that you're going to repeat the Society's Creed before fully becoming a member. Don't worry, we wont spring any arcane rituals or obscure recitations on you. It's a quick oath and then you'll be the fifth member of this fateful lot. The real challenge is keeping these young fools in one piece when things get rough."






After taking a short break the group were briefed on Alexander's interaction with Faith at the 'Burgher and Baker' as well as the attack on Kendra and the Pratt siblings' unexpected intervention in the ambush. Tara - who had been allowed to take part of the rest of the meeting despite not actually being a member yet - found Giles' reaction to Kendra's recollection of the ambush quite perplexing.

He very obviously knew of what debt the elder Pratt spoke of but he refused to grant any clarity to the younger members of the Council as to what the details of said debt actually were. Kendra accepted this at face value and - after some very obvious hints that the matter was both personal and final - Alexander followed suit soon thereafter. Willow's discomfort of being left out of the loop was palpable - even if Tara was quite certain that Willow had misinterpreted the situation and likely thought she were the only member not informed of the full matter - but she relented as to not push the luck that had allowed her earlier scheme to come into fruition.

It's not like she had any claims for complete honesty after recent events, she knew that.

While Giles informed Willow that Tara would adopt her room - since it was her invitation that had ended up with them being a bed short and it wasn't like Willow was using the room anyway - Kendra had collected the elaborate document that spelled out the Creed she were to recite to become a member of the Society. The yellowed document had been put in an ornate frame and the borders of the document consisted of a long worm that winded around the text until the tail reached the waiting mouth.

It was the the Ouroboros - the Lindworm biting its own tail. Originating from ancient Egypt, the Ouroboros also appeared in the old Norse mythology as the giant serpent Jörmungandr. Tara would later find out that it was the symbol of the Society as a whole.

After finishing the minutiae of the meeting Tara was called - after being asked for a final time that she was certain that she wanted to become a full-fledged member - to recite the text as an oath to the group and humanity as a whole. Tara didn't hesitate in reaffirming her decision and when she recited the Creed she did so with determination and without any stuttering.

"I solemnly swear
Not to be corrupted, bloodied or weakened by the spawn of the underworld
I swear not to let my mind be muddled
Clear of eye
Keen of thought
Pure of deed
I swear to put the Society before my own ambitions and emotions
My life for my comrades, I pledge my life to you, holy Artemis
For the battle against Vaesen and the protection of mankind"


The Gileses nodded with grave expressions in acceptance of her oath, the solemn worth of the sacred words were not lost on any of them. Rupert had drilled the lore of the Society into his children for years and despite their often jovial commentary in serious matters, both Kendra and Alexander knew that some things were not to be taken lightly.

Willow  however - despite thinking she fully understood and respected the gravity of the situation - just smiled with an enormous amount of pride and childlike glee.






With a plain face, short brown hair and a tall and well-built frame, Scott Hopp was not unattractive but also not a man to stick out in a crowd either. He was an honest man, one who worked construction and who enjoyed a drink with his friends and a man who went to the church on Sunday morning as was expected of him. He had also heard that his current employer had sworn to the Chief of Police that he did not know where the missing Maclay girl were hidden and then - just one day after that promise had been made - Scott saw the very same girl getting ushered into the salon where the strange people who were living in his current workplace conducted their meetings.

So it was only his duty - to both God and man - to report the missing girl's location so that Giles would get the opportunity to atone for breaking his oath. He doubted that would happen though, it wasn't likely with a group that employed women of dubious background and where the only roots they held in the area were with the infamous Rosenberg girl.

That there was a hefty reward for any information that lead to the return of the Maclay girl didn't hurt his intentions to do the right thing either.

So once he saw her he told Lars - the man who replaced Alexander Giles as their foreman while the latter were indisposed due to other matters - that he had to duck out as he was suffering from temporary vertigo. It was a white lie but Scott was certain that God would show him mercy as it was for a good cause. As soon as he was out of sight he hurried to the police station where they had been told the heir of the Maclay family were organizing the search for his sister.

The police station was cramped, water-damaged and badly infested with vermin. The wooden floors were creaky and the entire building smelled of filth. The station consisted of offices, cells, and courtrooms for dealing with day-to-day issues. One end of the building was occupied by a special detective branch responsible for more 'complicated' investigations, the only branch of it's kind outside of the kingdom's capital. A laboratory had recently been installed in the basement where chemical tests were now conducted to facilitate the hunt for criminals.

Scott didn't see much of this, however, as the constable he encountered at the lobby directed him to a small office not far from the entrance. He was greeted inside by a pair of men, one in rough clothes that spoke of a low birth and even lower salary and Scott quickly ascertained that he was a farmhand for the other man, a well-built brute with a set of sharp eyes and calculating grin.

"So you're the one who claim to know where my missing sis' is hiding out," he stated. It wasn't a question and Scott realized he wouldn't be dealing with any pleasantries or small-talk.

"Yeah, that's me. Scott Hopp at your service sir," he tried and extended his hand in greeting. To his surprise it was accepted by the sitting Maclay.

"Donald Maclay, junior. If your information is true you can call me Donny. If it's not you can call me 'sir' and 'please don't break my kneecaps sir Maclay,' got it?"

Scott swallowed the gulp in his throat. "Understood, Donny."

Donny grinned in recognition that the would-be tipster accepted his terms. "So where is my wayward kin?"

"She's currently talking with the inhabitants of Castle Gyllencreutz, my employers."

Donny nodded. "Is she kept under duress or are they hosting her as a guest?"

"I am not certain but from the looks of it she had been treated well and moved about at her own free will," Scott answered and he silently cursed himself for not paying extra notice to her circumstances.

"That's good enough, mister Hopp. Jimmy!" the farmhand turned in recognition. "Run to the solicitors and tell them that she's at Gyllencreutz. Tell them to give the lunatics living there one shot to turn her in before I drop by with both a judge and police by my side."

The farmhand nodded and hurried out of the room and Donny frowned at Scott as he lingered. "Yes?"

"I'm just curious; how do I actually claim my reward once you've found her?"

"Oh," Donny stated, the details of the matter was something he hadn't expected to bother with. "The reward. Yeah. Talk to the clerk at the front desk, I'll make sure they have your name and that you're paid in full once she's returned to our worried daddy. And don't worry, I'll keep your involvement in the matter a secret so if the lunatics are allowed to stay you'll still be able to work an honest living. That's okay with you?"

Scott smiled with pride. "Better than okay, master Maclay. I'm glad that she poor girl is going to be returned to such a kind family who will go to such lengths to ensure she is both safe and wedded well. Thank you for your time and good luck in retrieving your sister."

As Scott walked towards his home it was with the contended feeling of not only having performed a good deed, but also that he would be justly rewarded for his pious actions. All in all, it had been a good day for him and the city of Upsala both.

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 8 Posted
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:27 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Dibs! Yay that Giles also voted yes and Tara is now a member of the society. :applause

Quote:
"Roughly five years ago. I was on my way home from Gothenburg with my mother and sister. We were escorted by a pair of hired guards, as well as the carriage driver, and only an hour before we would have reached my father's lands we were ambushed by... something. The carriage was overturned and I was knocked unconscious so I did not see exactly what happened but when I came to I was greeted by a passing farmhand that my father employed."

"What did you see then?"

"The young man was terrified, sir Giles. He didn't see who had attacked us but the driver was strung up in a nearby tree while the two guards had been cut down while defending me and my family. My sister was missing, I still don't know where she went, and my mother..."

She paused the recollection with Giles' silent approval and Willow held her hand in support as she slowly calmed down.

"I returned with the farmhand and my father sent out a dozen men to collect the bodies. For a week they tried to find Winnie - that's my sister - but to this day there's not been a single trace of her."

"But how does this have anything to do with the Vaesen," Alexander pushed with no small amount of impatience.

"What I never told anyone was that I had seen something just after I woke up. I saw a huge and bearded man - or a mannish creature - with a tail and gigantic nose. He had green skin and large red pupils. He glared at me with evil eyes and said something I couldn't hear but the intent was clear; he did not want us around."

"A troll," Willow declared. "Trolls often show those characteristics and can have more arms or legs, too! Was it daytime or dark when you were attacked?"

"Umm, it was during the day," Tara answered with tacit hesitation. "E-early afternoon I think."

"Then it was a forest troll. Mountain trolls are even larger and are related to giants - all three subspecies share the same fear and hate for everything Christian - but they turn to stone in daylight. They rarely kidnap people though and if you're baptized you're safe as houses from a kidnapping - which is kind of unfair for us Jews who also wish to remain unmolested but that's insane troll logic for you - so I don't understand why they'd take your sister but-"

So the questions are why Winnie (I guess that's the short name for Winniefred?) was abducted and Tara left behind (and alive) while the others were killed and what kind of fiend did that if it wasn't the troll. I also wonder if Winnie (aka Fred) will reappear in the future of your story.

Quote:
"Then there's the matter of your father. He is responsible for your welfare and we can't hold you against the word of the law."

"Actually," Willow pre-empted Tara's chance to respond. "I can guarantee that Tara will, once she is a member, not be prevented from remaining in the castle by the person that's legally responsible for her well-being. I can't explain how right now but I am certain of it!"

Giles turned to her with a suspicious glare. "You're asking me to just trust you that we won't face any legal issues following her eventual admittance to the Society?

"I swear upon my father's name and my own honor that Tara can't be legally prevented from staying here if she is sworn in today."

I'm immensely curious what information Willow found that makes her this certain that being a member of this society the officials of Upsala don't accept could prevent her father as her legal guardian from demanding her release...

Quote:
After taking a short break the group were briefed on Alexander's interaction with Faith at the 'Burgher and Baker' as well as the attack on Kendra and the Pratt siblings' unexpected intervention in the ambush. Tara - who had been allowed to take part of the rest of the meeting despite not actually being a member yet - found Giles' reaction to Kendra's recollection of the ambush quite perplexing.

He very obviously knew of what debt the elder Pratt spoke of but he refused to grant any clarity to the younger members of the Council as to what the details of said debt actually were. Kendra accepted this at face value and - after some very obvious hints that the matter was both personal and final - Alexander followed suit soon thereafter. Willow's discomfort of being left out of the loop was palpable - even if Tara was quite certain that Willow had misinterpreted the situation and likely thought she were the only member not informed of the full matter - but she relented as to not push the luck that had allowed her earlier scheme to come into fruition.

I hope that Giles will change his attitude and be more open with the younger members of the society in the future. He should realize that his secrecy could endanger them and their course.


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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 7 Posted
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:17 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
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Location: Uppsala/Sweden
Will's redemption wrote:
Dibs! :whip
(Quite a shame that I'm able to do that over 3 weeks after the chapter was posted).

Well to be fair I'm just as slow - if not even slower - in responding to feedback and updating so it all evens out. :)

Quote:
She should hide a blade or two in her clothes from now on (as Willow does).

Willow has no problem breaking rules to get her way (as the current events showcase) while Kendra is far less likely to buck authority, despite her unusual circumstances.

Quote:
Good riddance! Although we can't be sure how sincere his disgusting threats against the Giles' and Willow really were it's better to be safe than sorry (plus they certainly were determined to murder Kendra and Mässing as the leader might have tried again later if she had let him live).

They were sincere. This setting is a lot more lethal than the canon universe - life expectancy in 19th century Sweden wasn't one to write home about.

Probably because the recipient had already died by the time the letter was delivered.

Quote:
It's a good thing that William Pratt (aka Spike, I presume?) and his sister came to Kendra's aid. Crazy Justine is pretty scary though.

Thank you! Justine is going to be a very different individual than her canon self, I'm just borrowing a few notes and her appearance to create this version instead.

Quote:
Considering that "your" Spike travels with Justine instead of Drusilla, I'm wondering if Dru will have to play a different part in your story. I would like it if she'd be one of the "good guys" in your universe, another person with the "sight" who'll join the society in the future, perhaps?

She's in this story and she's not evil. Don't want to spoil much more than that. :)

Quote:
:laugh Willow's clumsy attempts of defending herself are hilarious and cute!

Someone should've told her that Hail Mary's are for Catholics only.

Will's redemption wrote:
So the questions are why Winnie (I guess that's the short name for Winniefred?) was abducted and Tara left behind (and alive) while the others were killed and what kind of fiend did that if it wasn't the troll. I also wonder if Winnie (aka Fred) will reappear in the future of your story.

Oh poop I thought I were a lot more discrete with the use of Winnie. Yes, that's Fred. And yes, she's been away from civilization for about five years. That is not a coincidence.

Quote:
I'm immensely curious what information Willow found that makes her this certain that being a member of this society the officials of Upsala don't accept could prevent her father as her legal guardian from demanding her release...

That's coming up soon and I hope it will be a satisfactory resolution and that it won't feel too much of a Deux Ex Machina. :)

Quote:
I hope that Giles will change his attitude and be more open with the younger members of the society in the future. He should realize that his secrecy could endanger them and their course.

Giles - as much as he tries to see the younger members as his equals and not his wards/children - still have a tendency to think that he knows better because he's done this longer. Secrecy has been his way of life for decades and changing that in just a few months is not easy.

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 Post subject: The Lawyers and the Judge
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:40 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:47 pm
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It took only an hour and a half after Tara took the Society's Oath until the first hint of the troubles ahead of them showed up at Castle Gyllencreutz. It wasn't as Giles had feared though; that the police or the Maclays would show up to drag her away by force. When he saw who were waiting for them in the Gyllencreutz lobby he cursed his bad luck and almost wished that the Maclays had sent the local garrison instead.

No, in the lobby were nothing but two young solicitors, both of fearsome reputation but of differing kind. The man was Lindsey McDonald; a man who had arrived in Sweden as a child when his father retired from active service with the rest of the Eire Galloglaigh. Ambitious, resourceful and charming, Lindsey had already made himself a reputation as an effective lawyer that did his job admirably and efficiently.

His partner was the real danger though. Lilah Morgan - a curiosity in itself as a young woman working in a respectable profession in a country that rarely permitted it - had arrived in Upsala after leaving England just two years previously and in the short time since she'd proven herself exceptionally ruthless, cunning and with a moral flexibility that disturbed even some of the more corrupt officers in the local constabulary. Rumors had often incriminated her in deals that stretched far outside the permitted boundaries of the law but sharp wit and a deep insight into her own profession has allowed her to maintain an unblemished record.

It was also a woman that Rupert Giles loathed with a fiery passion. When he had lived in London she had been employed several times by his rivals to harass him during the years that followed his wife's death and before Morgan's relocation to Upsala forced his enemies to seek out other officers of the law. Rupert did not look forward to have her continue their hostile encounters in a new arena.

"How nice to see you again, sir Giles. I was wondering when you'd mosey back to Upsala once you realized you weren't really welcome in the good old Empire."

Giles scoffed, expecting more from her opening barrage. Despite his discomfort in having to deal with the woman he felt a comfort of sorts in the fact that Alexander were currently overseeing the final touches of the infirmary restoration. Having his son threaten to use his hammer to cave in the head of a woman that had insulted his late mother on repeated occasions would not help their cause in the eyes of the law. Only Willow and Kendra were accounted for in the lobby; Tara was currently in the process of getting a sorely needed bath while Frisk had been sent to purchase a few basic clothing items - on Willow's own dime - for their new Custodian.

"Likewise, miss Morgan. But you should have expected me to come here. After all, someone had to deal with the soulless witch that is corrupting this poor Kingdom's judicial system."

"Careful Giles," Lindsey warned. "That might be considered slander and you'll find I'm considered to be a very reliable and trusted witness. Not like the pair of mutts behind you," he said as he nodded towards Kendra and Willow.

Giles bit his tongue as he fought the instinct to jump to the defense of his companions. Kendra - as attuned to Giles' miniscule behavioral shifts as always - took the opportunity to insert herself into the verbal sparring match.

"Do you have a reason for intruding in our hold or can I assist you in leaving the premises without issue," she asked with her hand resting on the hilt of her favored saber. Lindsey showed the smallest amount of hesitation but Lilah - experienced with the dangerous fighter from the London years - simply flashed a cold smile that never even came close to reach her eyes.

"Oh I have a reason, miss Young. I'm here to serve official notice to the owners of this castle that, unless you return miss Tara Maclay to the authorities posthaste, you'll be visited by the Maclay family an hour after dinnertime today. They know you're hiding the poor girl and she's to return to her legal guardian."

Willow - who had up until then remained in the background to avoid getting singled out - bristled at the remark and paced up to the pair of solicitors with an uncharacteristic display of confident resolve. "She's here of her own free will and you have no right to take her away, Morgan."

"That's miss Morgan to you, girl."

Willow frowned at the reprimand. "You heard me, Morgan. Bring your boss! Bring your police! It won't matter in the end."

"Willow," Giles implored.

"I'm sorry Giles but just trust me on this," she said without her eyes never breaking sight with Lilah's. "Bring everyone, Morgan. Bring Judge De Hoffryn if you so must, all it'll show is how weak leg you got to stand on!"

Willow almost growled as she spat out the final words and the confusion in the lobby was clear in everyone. Giles was speechless and tried to buy time to gather his thoughts as he wiped his spectacles clean with the handkerchief he always carried. If Willow had turned around, she would've seen Kendra with a shocked expression that even Giles had rarely seen before. Lindsey - who had followed Willow's well-publicized emancipation process both in the papers and in the courts - was both impressed and confused by the woman's incredulous display of determination and arrogance.

Lilah said nothing and for several seconds showed no reaction to the outburst. When she finally broke she actually laughed at the remark. It wasn't a mocking laughter - and Willow was well-experienced to recognize those when directed at her person - but actually one of morbid curiosity.

"It's a shame you decided to go with Chemistry and Engineering as your subjects, Willow Danielle Rosenberg. With this kind of foolhardiness and the clever thinking that allowed you to study in the first place you'd make a first-rate solicitor upon graduation. Too bad you'll be even more disgraced after today when you're charged with kidnapping and the Maclay girl is returned to her family." Lilah's lingering smile faded into a thin line. "It's a shame, you'd think that after all the humiliation Sheila Rosenberg have suffered for your actions you would be more careful in the future."

Willow hesitated for a moment before grinning. "Wow, you're trying to pull the 'mom' card on me, Morgan? I think you oughta do your research better next time because holy bovine livestock that's the wrong approach with me. But then you really have no clue who I am because I have something that would prevent me from doing your dirty job."

"What's that," the male solicitor asked curiously.

"A soul," Willow spat out.

Lilah finally broke off their staring contest as Lindsey snorted at the insult but it was Giles who put in the final word of the encounter.

"If that's everything, miss Morgan, maybe it's time for you both to leave the premises before we'll have to remove you by force. Kendra?"

The warrior only needed to take a couple of intimidating steps before Lindsey raised his hand to halt the advance. "That won't be necessary. We're done for now but we'll see you all in a few hours, mister Giles. Miss Young, miss Rosenberg."

Lindsey nodded at them both as he turned towards the exit with Lilah joining him at the door.

The trio that remained in the lobby stayed silent for a couple of seconds after the solicitors had shut the door before Giles turned to the women with a curious grin. "You know, I was about to chide you for the childish outburst and impotent boasts you threw at them, Willow."

Her face fell as she felt the earlier confidence quickly fading away into her usual nervous anxiety. "I understand, Giles, but you have to trust me when-"

"As I said," he interrupted. "I was about to chide you - but then I saw miss Morgan laugh in your face."

"Oh? That's good?"

"Oh yes, that's very good I wager," he said with relaxed mirth.

"W-why is that? Usually when snobby people laugh at me it's of the bad with many non-good things to come in the future, possibly even catastrophic!"

"What master Giles is trying to say," Kendra explained, "is that we have years of experience with that infernal harpy and not once have we seen her laugh. She may grin, smirk or even smile now and then when she is feeling very confident but to laugh is so extreme that it's likely she was actually feeling quite nervous."

"Indeed," Giles agreed. "Your complete lack of manners and total disdain at adhering social conventions together with complete confidence in your case was something she was not prepared for."

"Oh," Willow replied as her determination slowly returned. "That's nice."

"So it is," Giles added as he moved towards the salon. "I just hope my trust isn't misplaced."

Willow's anxiety swiftly returned at his implication of what awaited if she couldn't deliver on her promise.

"Kendra," he continued. "Inform my son that I expect everyone in the Council to be in clean clothes and well-prepared to receive our guests after dinner. No matter the outcome we'll show our guests just what kind of people we are."





To the credit of the assembled mob the Maclays had gathered, it arrived on schedule and in good order. The solicitors had returned as promised with Tara's father who in turn brought not only his son but also several other men that were armed with wood axes and sledgehammers. To the dismay of the entire Society - Willow excepted - Lilah had taken Willow's suggestions to heart and brought several different outside parties to the proceedings. Not only were Chief Finch - and a few of his men, including Doyle - present but judge De Hoffryn, deputy mayor Roger Snyder and even Frederick Ivarsson, the notorious journalist from the Upsala Gazette, had been brought along to further add to the humiliation of Tara's protectors.

The members of the Society had all prepared for the meeting despite Willow's unwillingness to divulge her plan in advance. She had bet everything - all their trust, confidence and possibly even futures - on the success of her plan and she didn't dare jinxing the outcome by showing her hand too early. She knew it was superstition at best but in for a schilling, in for a riksdal.

Giles stood at the front of their group, directly facing the elder Maclay himself with only two meters dividing the two groups. At his right side stood Kendra in her best clothing and carrying the decorated scabbard for her saber for the occasion. At his left were his son who wore clean clothes of good quality and who carried the sledgehammer he had brought with him when they had tried to slay the Giant earlier in the week.

At Alexander's other side stood Willow who wore the clothes that she had customized with leather padding and hidden pockets but to any untrained observer she was completely unarmed, the bulky umbrella the only instrument she'd be able to use in defense of any attacker. For most people a woman carrying an umbrella indoors would look foolish indeed but Willow were comfortable (most of the time) with the queer rumors and reputation that surrounded her character so nobody would care to question her strange accessorizing.

Which was the point as the umbrella was, just like it had been in the past, just a cover for her 'Rheinlander' Carbine that she had yet to reveal to the world. It was an insurance policy, nothing else, and were only to be deployed if things really went to hell and they had to escape the city if the mob grew violent. That was also the reason she had reattached both the hidden blades that she sheathed by her wrists. Other than that she carried a small bundle of papers, organized by small pieces of colored fabrics for easy referral.

Despite Frisk's purchases earlier in the day, Tara stood in her party dress that had now been cleaned and dried. She provided a glamorous sight in an otherwise ramshackle gathering but she wore no weapons but a small blade sheathed by her ankle.

To say the atmosphere was tense would be an understatement of notice but to both parties' credit, everyone were kept in check as Maclay began to speak. "You have something that belong to me, mister Giles."

"That's the issue in contention," Giles replied sternly. "Isn't it, mister Maclay?"

"I don't think it is," the landowner replied. "I see my daughter standing over there, hiding behind your son and that Jewish cur."

"Mister Maclay," judge De Hoffryn interrupted in a loud voice that demanded attention. "No matter what you may think of miss Rosenberg you are not to slander the young woman. This is now considered a court of law for these proceedings, with all rules and regulations that it entails, and you all know I allow no insolence in my courtroom."

"My deepest apologies. It won't happen again, Judge De Hoffryn." Despite the reprimand, Maclay was happy that the solicitors had managed to bring the Judge along for the retrieval of his wayward child. The Judge had a fierce reputation as impartial and utterly incorruptible but who rarely deployed anything but the harshest penalties for those that broke his laws. And De Hoffryn saw them as his laws; he wore the gavel as a family banner and worked during almost all his waking hours with a vengeful zeal that had no equals. His word was final and in his mind, absent of any error (which meant that he never allowed for any appeals, no matter the reason).

"Excellent," De Hoffryn continued. "Now, Chief Finch? You said that you were promised that these good people had no idea where miss Maclay were located, am I correct?"

The Chief glared at Giles while responding in the positive.

"When was this promise given?"

"The morning after her disappearance, Judge De Hoffryn. We visited this castle as our last stop after a long night's vigilant watch for miss Maclay," he clarified.

"Excellent," the judge turned to Giles. "Do you have anything to explain why you lied to the Chief of the Police, mister Giles?"

"I would like to state that I - nor anyone else who were questioned by the police at the time - lied at all, Judge De Hoffryn. At the time we had no idea where miss Maclay were hiding and," he nodded in Willow's direction, "she was only found by miss Rosenberg a short while before dinnertime."

"Is there anyone else who wish to disprove this claim," the Judge asked the assembly and received no answer.

"Excellent, the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice are therefore withdrawn. Mister Maclay, shall you present the main issue of the day?"

Tara's father nodded gravely and pointed at his daughter. "I've come to retrieve my daughter and bring her home, as is my privilege and duty as her legal guardian."

"Is there anyone present who wish to contest this claim," the Judge asked in the same emotionless manner as he had done before.

Willow stepped forward with a nervous smile. "I object, your honor!"

Donny protested loudly before the judge had the chance to recognize the objection. "That can't be allowed, Judge De Hoffryn. This is considered a court of law and only those of legal standing have the right to involve themselves in the proceedings!"

"Silence," the Judge sternly demanded. "This is your only warning, young Maclay. Another outburst and I'll have the constable escort you to the jail for a week's worth of calming down."

Donny's wrath was tempered by the warning and the judge continued. "Miss Rosenberg is emancipated and therefore carry the same legal standing as any other civilian in the court and can therefore speak for herself without a male guardian representing her. Miss Rosenberg, present your objection to the court."

"Thank you, your honor. I carry with me a legal copy of the original charter of the Order of Artemis." Willow pulled out a paper from the middle of her bundle and stepped forward to hand it to the judge. "If you would please take notice of article four, your honor."

The Judge read the section in silence and nodded as he returned the paper. "I see. I do not see how this is related to our current predicament, miss Rosenberg."

"This document should help with clarifying that issue," she said while handing him another paper. "It's the official notice of the renaming of the Order of Artemis into the Society. And here," she gave him yet another document, "is the signed document by mayor Richard Williamsson the First that reaffirm the same article that you first read, your honor." She gave him the last document from her bundle. "And this is the notice of the legal continuation of the East Aros Society under the direction of the Council."

"Objection," Morgan stated. "Your honor, we haven't seen these documents and have not been informed of them in the past."

"Overruled," the judge replied after having finished reading the final document. "These papers are all, by order of the Royal House, considered state secrets and are only to be examined by select individuals. That included the current membership of the Council of the East Aros Society."

Morgan bristled at being kept out of the loop, the proceedings were getting away from even her worst estimations. "Can we at least be informed of the relevant content, your honor?"

"In essence, miss Rosenberg has proven that any woman who qualify for membership of the Society is permitted to join and granted temporary emancipation as long as she remain in said Society. Miss Maclay," he turned to Tara who summoned all her strength to stand straight under the scrutiny. "Have you been sworn in as a member of the East Aros Society?"

"I h-have, your honor. I swore the oath after breaking fast earlier today," she answered with all the confidence she could muster.

"Does the rest of the Council affirm miss Maclay's statement?"

The rest of the Society replied in the affirmative and the deputy mayor stepped forward to claim the floor. "Your honor, what are the requirements for membership in this 'Society'?"

"That's classified," was the judge's curt reply and Giles almost failed to curtail a smug grin that tried to form at seeing deputy mayor Snyder's irritation.

"If there's no further to add to the proceedings," the judge declared, "it is the decision of the court that as long as miss Tara Maclay remain a member of the East Aros Society she is under no obligation to leave the organization and is to be considered a legal adult in all the same situations as miss Rosenberg until the day she leaves said organization. Mister Donald Maclay is also ordered to expediate the transfer of all of miss Tara Maclay's personal belongings to Castle Gyllencreutz within a fortnight and must provide a notarized bill to miss Tara Maclay to receive reimbursement for the expenses of said transfer."

Despite the growing anger from several of the petitioners on the Maclays' side there were no further objections.

"Excellent," De Hoffryn repeated. "The decision is rendered and this court is hereby adjourned. This is now once again the premises of the East Aros Society and unless they state otherwise, all visitors are to leave the premises posthaste!"

Despite the loud protest that followed their dismissal, no physical altercations or direct threats occurred. Willow remained uncharacteristically quiet during the entire process as she was far too busy to provide the smuggest grin she had ever mustered in the direction of one specific lady solicitor.

She did not fail to notice the other solicitor's discreet thumbs-up, given from behind the back of his irate colleague.

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 Post subject: Re: [AU]The Vaesen and the Society - Chapter 9 Posted
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:51 pm 
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