Thirteen /me sweeps down a rather dim corridor in the Human Quarter, moving with the curious ease of one retracing a long-abandoned favorite path. The guards observe him warily, but allow him to proceed. Reaching an ivory door festooned with blue cloth, he knocks.
charlequin There's silence for a few moments after the knock; j
charlequin ust as it seems that the knock went unheard, a voice from reasonably far away muffledly announces "Come in, come in!"
Thirteen lightly pushes the door open and enters the spacious apartment.
charlequin The living quarters are quite spacious indeed, with a hanging mezzanine adding yet more floorspace to an already large set of rooms. Multi-colored Light beams in from large windows and bounces off the spinning cubes and pyramids that are hung in mid-air to provide light and other functions.
Thirteen "Good afternoon, Belladonna."
charlequin The place appears to have been cleaned reasonably recently, though a few select outfits seem to be spread out on some of the furniture and the remnants of a meal adorn one small table.
charlequin From in the depths of a closet or chamber somewhere removed from the central area, the voice speaks up again: "I'll be out in just a moment! Hold on, hold on...!"
Thirteen calmly seats himself on a hanging cube, snagging the plate from the table and finishing off the leftovers as he does so.
charlequin There's some rustling and clanging noises, and then from one of the many side doors emerges a young woman clad in flowing -- yet quite flattering -- blue and purple robes, with silver rings adorning her arms, neck, and ears. Her long green tresses are as unkempt as Thirteen remembers. (...)
charlequin She seems a little surprised when she walks out. "Thirteen? Thirteen Blooming Flowers?" Her facial expression is quite honestly surprised. "What are you doing here?"
Thirteen "A full explanation would take too long and be too revealing."
Thirteen "For the moment, I am calling on an old friend, whom I hope has not been accused of murder again since the last time I have seen her."
charlequin "Oh, hush." Belladonna makes an exasperated face. "I am ever the upstanding citizen. I even served on the Rotational Subcommittee." She starts to tidy the outfits she's strewn about the room, and says "Are you hungry? You can help yourself to whatever you wa... oh." (...)
charlequin She makes a tiny bit of a face when she notices what has happened to her leftovers.
Thirteen "Thank you. I am fine."
Thirteen "It is good to hear that you have finally received recognition for your talents."
Belladonna "It's true. I have had a meteoric rise in your absence!" She flourishes a little with the scarf she is currently holding. "I have done quite well for myself, it is true. You might notice how pleasant my place of residence is today."
Belladonna wrinkles her forehead slightly. "I am still puzzled by your arrival, though. I thought you had a great AGENDA to pursue. You are not the sort who travels for pleasure."
Thirteen "It is in pursuit of my ultimate goals that I am here on Xara today. However, my plans are brilliant enough to occasionally leave room for idle conversation."
Belladonna laughs. "Brilliant indeed. I note that you do not appear to have arrived with a Missus Flowers in tow."
Thirteen "Have you been keeping up with your studies? You are favoring your right leg again. I thought I told you that your techniques are worthless without a properly grounded stance."
Belladonna leaps up across several of the cubes to a closet set high into the wall, and begins to hang her scarves delicately, balanced on a single leg. "Well enough, yes. You think too highly of yourself to imagine I have spent these years wringing my hands over your casual advice."
Thirteen "While I have brought a few friends with me, Donna, you are right to surmise that a paramour is not among them."
Thirteen "I would not expect you to do so. Rather, I expect you to improve immediately and then discard my comment. Hence my surprise at noting that your fault remained."
Belladonna "I'll have you know that I broke my left leg in four places not long ago, but I apologize" -- she bows in mock solemnity -- "DEEPLY if it has reawakened old habits." She leaps back down to ground level again.
Thirteen "That is unfortunate. Has the responsible party been dealt with?"
Belladonna draws out a pastry stick, coated in two kinds of candy, from one of the many fine ceramic jars in the room and in answer snaps it, quite loudly, in half. Belladonna smiles sweetly while offering half to her visitor.
Thirteen brushes her hand with his as he accepts the pastry and consumes it.
Thirteen "I fear I must shock you now by revealing that I have some measure of ulterior motive beyond sheer pleasure in your company."
Thirteen "It has, after all, been many years since I have been here. It would benefit me greatly to learn from a party known to be trustworthy and perceptive how things have changed in the interim."
Belladonna covers her wide open mouth in mock surprise. "Heavens! To be used by Thirteen for his own nefarious ends."
Thirteen "It is alarmingly out of character for me, I know."
Thirteen "If it will restore you to your former opinion of me, I will grudgingly submit to performing some trifling service for you in return, if you have one to hand."
Belladonna laughs again.
Belladonna "Alright. As much as it may surprise /you,/ I do indeed have a task for you to perform before you depart. Though I think I need to think it over a little more to be sure." She smiles more dangerously this time. "Ask away, then. I, of course, know everything."
Thirteen "Of course."
Belladonna opens a panel in the side of one cube and draws out a byzantine pitcher filled with a multi-colored liquid, which she pours into two floating pyramidal glasses that come to her at the snap of a finger.
Thirteen idly beckons a glass towards him as he mentally reviews his notes. While the two drink, he fires off a barrage of questions about the current political situation and the various shifting forces at play in Xaran society.
Belladonna lays out quite a few minor details while casually enjoying her liquor.
Belladonna After some time, though, she suddenly makes a bit of a face and grows more serious for a moment.
Belladonna "There's something... up." Belladonna announces this out of the blue, more or less.
Thirteen "Oh yes?"
Belladonna "I'll.... illustrate."
Belladonna draws down a fishbowl, complete with green, gold, and red large-finned show fishes which move in an elaborate dance within the waters. She gestures demonstratively at the bowl and waits for Thirteen's acknowledgement.
Belladonna takes out a small vial of bright blue liquid and drops a single drop into the top of the bowl. The liquid begins to billow and spread, flowing out from the central point. As it spreads, the fish begin to adjust their movements, shifting and turning their ellipses to avoid passing through. The dance continues -- but its path irrevocably shifted.
Belladonna cocks one eyebrow and nods her head towards the bowl. "You see?"
Belladonna reaches a tiny net in to scoop the fish out quickly as the blue backs them into the corners of the bowl, and dumps them into little water cups.
Thirteen "I hope that I have not inadvertently allowed you to endanger yourself."
Thirteen "Listen." He reaches out to touch her arm. "Do you trust me?"
Belladonna "Oh no. I am in constant danger. It makes it difficult to keep lovers alive but otherwise does not specifically bother me."
Thirteen "A lover one has to keep alive is surely not a lover in which one can have complete confidence. Lovers should ideally be able to provide for their own survival on most occasions."
Belladonna reacts a little to Thirteen's touch... but just a little. "It is true... I have not had many where I truly regretted their passing." There is a pause. "Yes, I trust you, Thirteen."
Thirteen "Last time I was here there was quite a bit of trouble as an accidental byproduct of my visit. This time, unfortunately, I have arrived with the express aim and intention of causing quite a bit of trouble."
Belladonna nods quietly.
Thirteen "I swear to you now, by our friendship, that I have come with the best of intentions, and will do nothing I do not deem necessary."
Belladonna seemed the tiniest bit frightened for a moment, but she recovers her composure quickly. "Nothing /you do not deem necessary. That is a great/ relief."
Thirteen "I must call upon a boon, Belladonna. Ten years ago I saved your life and your reputation. I ask today that you trust in my decision, though you may not appreciate its consequences, and stand with me as we have stood together in the past against the warriors my enemies will send against me."
Thirteen "With you by my side, neither of us will be endangered."
Belladonna makes a face of consideration here -- she does not accept a request like that lightly.
Thirteen "I did not come here with the intention to ask you this. I did not expect you to trust me with what you have."
Thirteen "I am honored."
Belladonna After what seems like a full minute, she responds quietly. "I will not turn against you, Thirteen." There is another, much briefer pause. "Do not make me regret that."
Thirteen "If I did not make you regret it, Donna, there would be little reason to ask you to make the promise."
Thirteen "I will do my best not to make you regret it any more than you would regret any other possible course of action, in the final analysis."
Belladonna There's a tiny fire in her eyes, but she says nothing.
Thirteen lightly brushes her hair back from her eyes, and arranges the end of her scarf. "It has been most rewarding to see you again, Belladonna."
Belladonna "And it has been endlessly surprising to see you again. I am certain the next few weeks will be far more interesting than I had expected."
Thirteen "I feel much the same."
Tags: (:tags Xara, Belladonna :)