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Tea, Tots, and Twilight

Lirriel's picture

Rhiswyn sipped tea and looked around the cheerful garden. Multiple cats lounged on tree branches and under bushes. A variety of birds, some not native to Elwynn, filled the air with their songs. Puppies of various wild species—was that a corehound?—played with two small boys. “I’ve rarely seen such a restful place that’s so very busy.”

Across the table, Lirriel laughed lightly as she fed her baby. “It can get a little crazy sometimes, but in a nice way, and my nephew’s just old enough now to be a good helper.” She smiled fondly to the older boy, playing with her dark-haired son. “But you didn’t drop by to admire my late summer blooms and the children.”

“Indeed, though both are well worth admiring, dear. I came due to your relatively new position with the Cathedral, after the…unpleasantness last year.”

Lirriel frowned, adjusting the infant’s position against her breast. “How is Firie?”

Rhiswyn shrugged a bare shoulder; the day was too warm and humid for anything but a strappy sundress, and this was the best setting for it. “Outwardly, much the same as ever. She’s quiet, when not trying to be a human wrecking ball in combat. Pursuing a hopeless romantic entanglement; it will end poorly, and her friends are irresponsible for encouraging it.”

“I see. I’ll warn Mother,” Lirriel said, taking a sip of tea. “Czene’s business for the Cathedral has been an interesting web to untangle. All of it was, ultimately, beneficial to the church, so they might pursue various charitable projects.”

“Not that the man himself was very charitable, to my understanding,” Rhiswyn said. “Very intent on appearances, excited about reputation. Which is why I’ve come; I’m sure he kept tabs on those whose actions might have compromised the integrity of the Cathedral’s image, warranted or not.”

Lirriel pulled her squirming daughter from her chest, deftly adjusting her top as she shifted the child to her shoulder to pat her back. “He did have a few he was watching for various reasons, and most were harmless. That tends to be the case overall—but a couple of bad apples…” she sighed.

“A bad apple is precisely what I seek, dear. You’re aware, of course, of what happened with our dearly departed Archbishop?”

Lirriel’s stormy grey eyes darkened as she frowned. The baby fussed, and Lirriel took a deep breath.

Rhiswyn sipped tea. “I doubt he was always working with them; Deathwing’s dramatic appearance over the city seemed to win them the most converts.”

“I worked for him once, long ago,” Lirriel said. “It was brief; I was fresh from the Abbey. I wasn’t highly placed. My interests quickly took me elsewhere.”

“My concern is a young woman, not long out of her own training, not highly placed, sweet and gentle—whose mind was invaded and altered at his order.” Rhiswyn’s voice gained a hard edge, her grip on the cup tightening. “They put a thing in her, so she might kill, violently, at their command and no one—not even the poor dear herself—would be the wiser.”

Lirriel stared. Her eyes were now the dangerous, dark grey of a stormy evening. “The Archbishop is dead.”

“Indeed, dear. But not all his lackeys died with him—and he had someone else perform the alterations on my young patient.”

Lirriel opened her mouth to reply, but around the corner of the house came a puppy’s yelp and the plaintive cry of a hurt little boy. Lirriel started, the infant fussing against her shoulder as they moved.

“I can take her, dear, while you see to the boys,” Rhiswyn offered. Lirriel considered a moment, and then transferred the baby to Rhiswyn’s arms before hurrying off.

Rhiswyn looked down at the infant, who stared back up at her with bright blue eyes that would likely never change color. The child already had thick, dark hair, soft and fine if still too short to curl. The tips of her ears were ever-so-slightly pointed, giving little more than a hint of her heritage, courtesy of her handsome, half-elven father.

“You are going to break hearts someday, dear,” Rhiswyn cooed as the infant yawned, eyelids drooping in post-feeding sleepiness.

Lirriel returned, smothering a laugh. “The things they get into; no harm done to them or the pup, thank the Light. Easily fixed by kisses to scraped knees and bumped foreheads—and I know they inherited thick ones.”

“Do you miss working on more serious injuries, or just in the field at all?”

Lirriel sat back down, tucking a lock of blonde hair behind her ear as she considered the question. “Yes and no. I don’t miss seeing people hurt, but I do sometimes miss adventures.” She looked around and smiled. “Though this is something of its own adventure, I think.”

Rhiswyn looked at the child now sleeping in her arms, smothering the alien twinge in her chest; no time for that. “Sounds lovely, dear. Perhaps someday I’ll try this particular adventure, but I’m already quite busy.”

“Yes, your question,” Lirriel said. “Nothing in Czene’s notes indicated Twilight infiltrators, but they’d have to be quite good at staying hidden, wouldn’t they?”

“I just need a starting point, dear. The names of those working for the Archbishop directly, or others associated closely, will do nicely.”

“And what will you do, if you find them?” Lirriel asked quietly.

Rhiswyn turned her gaze away from Lirriel’s, watching some of the kittens attempt to sneak up on each other. “Bring them to justice if possible, dear. Though I’d rather like to make them pay for what they’ve done.”

“I can’t condone vengeance or violence against anyone, even people like them.”

“I’m not asking you to, dear. I just want the means to make the attempt. If your prayers are needed, I shall let you know.”

Lirriel peered into her teacup and considered. “I can get you some names, and the few notes I found that may be of help. I can’t promise you’ll find what you seek—and I hope you don’t. I’d like to think we’ve rooted the Twilights out.”

“That would be lovely, wouldn’t it? In any case, I do thank you for your precious time, and the tea, dear. I should perhaps be g—“

Lirriel raised a hand, halting Rhiswyn’s words and forward motion. The smaller woman’s grey eyes were clear again, a spark of mischief lighting them. “Oh, you can’t go yet, Miss Linder.”

Rhiswyn blinked. “Why ever not, dear?”

Lirriel pointed to the slumbering infant still in Rhiswyn’s arms. “She’s sleeping. Comfortably. Trust me; it’s a shame to disrupt that—and a headache.”

“But—“

“Just lean back, maybe rest your own eyes a bit. I’ll be nearby.” Lirriel gathered the teacups and the little pot.

“Mrs. Meterein…”

Lirriel smiled sweetly and turned away, practically skipping back to the house with the tea service.

Rhiswyn remained in the chair, cradling the delicately sleeping baby, listening to the sound of little boys playing in other parts of the sunny garden.

Well. There were worse ways to spend an afternoon.

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Jormund's picture

Suddenly a stupid grin takes

Suddenly a stupid grin takes form on Jormund's face.

"Uh... commander?"

"What?"

"What's with the grin?"

"The wha-? Oh! Something awkward yet incredibly adorable must've happened to her."

----------------

(Silly I know, but I couldn't help it.)

"When there is a will there is a way"

"Lead? Me? Nope, no no no no. Bad things happen when I lead. People die and I appear somewhere in Horde territory... with no pants!"