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Thread: Returning to the Scene of the Crime - 11/10, Late Evening, Dawn Barracks - Percy/Pippa

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    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Returning to the Scene of the Crime - 11/10, Late Evening, Dawn Barracks - Percy/Pippa

    "Mistress Avery?"

    Pippa looked up from the letter she'd been writing, delaying little before she rose and crossed to the door. She hadn't been expecting anyone, but it was her job to always be ready, on duty or off. Opening the door, didn't even get a word out before the woman on the other side of the threshold started talking again.

    "We found this in young Lady Kendrick's pocket, from the dress she'd been wearing today. They said you'd been with her and might know where she'd got it? I'm to make sure to tell you that we don't think she nicked it, but it doesn't belong to anything her governess recognizes." The woman held out her hand, and coiled on it was a small key threaded on a necklace. Pippa immediately recognized it, and it must have shown on her face, as the maid gave no resistance when she reached out and took it.

    "Yes, I know where this belongs. Vicky must have forgotten to give it back when she was finished...I'll return it to its rightful owner." Apparently satisfied, the maid nodded, turned, and left, in a hurry like so many of the household staff whose tasks were seemingly endless. It was with a small smile that Pippa considered the key; she thought about returning it later, possibly indulging the knight's request that the next time she drop by be for dinner, but that wasn't right. If that cabinet held something he'd need ready access to, or if someone else would, she didn't want him to have to explain that he'd lost the key when he'd let a little girl go through it. No, it was early enough in the evening that she could still make it to the barracks and back without it being inappropriate. And if he was on duty, well...she could always leave it with one of them. They were knights of the highest order, after all, they surely must be trustworthy enough to leave a key with.

    She thought for a moment about changing her clothes, but threw away the idea almost immediately. There was nothing wrong with what she was wearing, after all; just because pants and a tunic weren't the usual attire for a woman in the capital didn't mean it wasn't acceptable. She looked clean and tidy, and that was good enough for her. Before she stepped out the door, she tucked a dagger into her boot - one could never be too careful, after all - and grabbed a sheet of paper from the table. Then it was on with her cloak and she was on her way.

    As she walked through the streets, Pippa carefully folded the paper into a little envelope. Just in case she did have to leave the key with someone else, she thought it might be good to disguise it a little so the others wouldn't know immediately that he'd let it walk out the door in the first place. She had to be mindful of where she was going; she wasn't as familiar with Hebron as she could have been, and she desperately didn't want to get lost, but she found her way to the Dawn barracks and, taking a deep breath and pushing her hair off her shoulder, knocked on the door.

    The knight who opened it was one from earlier in the day - Ser Lexington, if she remembered right - and he greeted her with a somewhat baffled but cordial smile. Pippa bowed, her cloak flipping open on one side as she did so, which conveniently displayed that she wasn't majorly armed, if that had been a question in the first place. "Good evening, Ser. I'm sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if Ser Torgood was in?" Her words sounded awkward in her head, but she managed not to cringe even though the knight was still sort of staring at her.

    Finally, though, it seemed that recognition dawned on him, and Lexington smiled. "You're the one from the tour! Yeah, I think he should be in. Come on in out of the cold and I'll see if I can find him."

    Pippa smiled gratefully and stepped inside, closing the door behind her so as to not let all the heat out of the room, and she made sure she was out of the way of the door before she leaned her shoulder against the wall to wait. Lexington, meanwhile, disappeared down a hallway, and knocked on Percy's door. "You have a visitor," he called through the door, loud enough to be heard inside while still being quiet enough that his voice didn't carry much. "Shortish, blonde, missing the six foot polearm and the small child she was here earlier with..."

    ----

    @Percival Torgood

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    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    Percival had already been out of his attire and was relaxing in his room with his feet up. He had strained a calf in the training yard the previous day, and was now precariously balancing it on the low post of his bed. Every few moments, he would rotate his ankle and allow the solid wood to kneed at the sore muscle that was left atop of it. As stretches went, this might have been the laziest one the young man had ever bothered with, but since he couldn't be bothered to climb the tower steps to the old physician, a measure that he considered counter productive, he just went without the usual balms for pain relief.

    The knock on the door did anything but surprise him. There was always an interruption when he wasn't working. Thinking briefly over their schedule, everyone but Lexington should have been in the castle proper, and so he beckoned the Caldoran Knight to enter. Lex aside, he wasn't expecting a visitor. But once the other had given him the description, Percy rolled his eyes. "Cute," he said sarcastically. "I expect games from your brother, but I kind of thought you were above such sport." When he looked back to his book, Lexington didn't leave, and after a moment Percy looked at him again. His expression hadn't changed. "You are above such sport, aren't you."

    Swinging his legs off the bed, Percival Torgood went to his wardrobe in search of something to pull on. He was awful about sending anything but his uniforms to be laundered, and now had to rifle through what remained clean and find something bordering on appropriate. "Uhhh...maybe you could buy me a minute," he asked, not pulling his head from the back of the large oak cabinet. "Tell her a story or something," he offered, as he found a pair of britches and hopped into them. As Lexington turned back down the hall, Percy called after him in a loud whisper. "And not about your cousin!"

    Without the benefit of a looking glass, the knight did his best to put his hair right after hurriedly pulling a shirt over his head. He tucked it in before snatching up his belt and pulling it on. He fastened only one of the short swords to it, just for his own comfort, and very unceremoniously lifted his armpit to his nose. Content that he wasn't offensive by his own estimation, he took a deep breath, and went to the door.

    From down the hall, he could make out voices, and what was clearly a pleasant laugh from the woman. Whatever story the other knight had decided on, it must have been humorous. Percy grumbled under his breath and silently hoped that Lex wasn't being too charming. As he came upon them, he saw Pippa, as advertised without Victoria or her halberd, sitting upright on the old chaise that was in the corner of the room, and Lexington standing a way off, leaning with his arm on top of a roll top desk. "Lady Avery," Percival said once there was a break in their conversation. "It's nice to see you again," he told her, and gave a small bow of thanks to Lex. "Did you have some follow-up questions from the tour?"

    It was polite of him to offer her an explanation, while they were in mixed company. It also amused Percy to treat Lexington as though he were dim, when they both knew he was not. Nobody thought that the girl was here with further inquiries. But the question remained. Why was she here?



    @Philippa Avery
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    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    While Percival was hurrying to make himself presentable, Pippa was sitting primly on a worn but comfortable chaise, her cloak hanging by the door and a smile on her face as she listened to Lexington telling a story about his first unfortunate attempt to use any sort of polearm. It wasn't the most original topic of conversation, sure, but from Lexington's point of view it was a fairly safe story to tell since it was a bit of common ground and, more importantly, didn't involve his cousin. Or anyone but him and his old training master, for that matter. It seemed to have been a good choice, as Pippa had found it amusing, and it had nearly wound up by the time Percival made his entrance.

    "I can't really blame you for not picking it up again," she said to Lexington, shaking her head a little. She paused, immediately noticing the movement of Percy's arrival, and she offered him a smile before looking back to Lexington. "After all that, I don't think I would have, either."

    "Lady Avery, it's nice to see you again. Did you have some follow-up questions from the tour?"

    Pippa rose from her seat, recognizing the social niceties for what they were and rolling with them. "You could say that, yes," she answered, but she didn't have to take the game much further. Lexington, having fulfilled his duty, nodded to Percy and gave Pippa a little bow.

    "Lady Avery, it was a pleasure to properly meet you. If you'll excuse me." He backed away so he wasn't immediately turning his back on them, but then disappeared down the hall, and the sound of a latch clicking shut could be heard a moment later as he closed himself carefully out of the way of whatever was going to happen.

    Now alone, Pippa took a few steps closer to Percival. "I'm sorry I came by so late, but I wasn't sure how soon you'd be missing this." She reached into her pocket and held her hand out, opening it to reveal the key on its necklace, coiled in her palm. "And I thought I better get it back to you sooner rather than later, just in case." She paused, waiting for him to retrieve it before she continued. "They found it in Vicky's pocket when they brought her dress down to the laundry. It looks like a couple portraits and a doll weren't the only things she pinched from you this afternoon, but at least I think this one wasn't intentional."

    ----
    @Percival Torgood

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    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    Percival watched as the other knight backed out of the room, and squinted at him as he went. His face returned to normal before he turned to look at the woman, and noted the necklace she was holding in her hand. There was a soft laugh and a shrug of his shoulders. "Well, in her defense, I did give it to her," he said innocently. There wasn't anything of real value in the hutch that he could recall, given the last time he had inventoried it. But no doubt his father had kept it locked simply to prevent prying eyes from busting his chops about it, should they have ever found the contents. Since he was no longer stationed in the barracks, it was likely not as important.

    Holding his hand out so that she could drop it into his palm, he smiled again. "It was kind of you to make the effort to return it with haste, however. I suppose you are here to claim the posted reward then," he asked, knowing that no such notices were about, and that she could not have known about it since he was making it up. Moving toward the door, he grabbed a light waistcoat from the rack on the wall and began to fasten it about his waist.

    The fact that the Coronation of Queen Vivienne was the following day meant that the city was still quite alive with revelers and tourists, and businesses would be open well into the early morning. "I hate to rush you back out," he said to her apologetically. "But it's Lexington. He doesn't like female guests in the barracks for too long. Allergic, I think," he said with a smile, as he stepped outside and held the door for her to follow him. As they stood there for a moment, the smell of cooking fires and sound of musicians floating on the air, Percy seemed to turn one way and then another, as if getting his bearings on where to go.

    The knight was somewhat surprised at the fortunate weather, as it was neither too cold, nor too breezy. It was more of an early autumn evening than a late one, and he might not have actually needed the jacket, though it would still get a little cooler before they returned. "Are you game to explore a little, Lady Avery? I mean, other than the official tours? If you aren't in a rush to get home, I thought I might treat you to something stronger than tea, in light of your service to the Order of the Dawn this evening." Forward and peacockish, to be sure. But, she had invited him to call on her. If he had to follow her all the way home to do it, he wouldn't mind.

    There was a gathering taking place. One he had known about. One he had decided not to attend, hence his presence in his bed with a book. His decision not to go had been based partly in his injured leg, and partly due to the fact that he would find it depressing, even if it were a celebration. But since Pippa had come calling, and he had bothered to get dressed, it wouldn't hurt to take a few moments and venture to it, if only to see exactly what was happening. "I trust my father was in residence when you left?" It would be just the kind of place the old man would turn up, if he was on the town himself. That would lead to an interesting conversation. "I was supposed to meet some friends this evening, and if you don't have other plans, I think it would be nice to have you along. If not, I'm just as happy to escort you home," he told her.

    Either outcome would at least afford him the chance to ask her more about herself without the prying ears of the Kendrick girl. That kind of company always restricted the topics of conversation a little.


    @Philippa Avery

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    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Pippa hadn't realized the key had been in the scope of things the knight was fine with Vicky taking, but she didn't feel foolish about the misunderstanding. It only made sense to keep the key with the piece of furniture it went with, if she was being purely practical about it. And it wasn't as if Victoria hadn't come away with enough prizes that she could be overly upset at having lost one of them.

    The guard said nothing to the claim of a reward, but she watched as Percy went about getting ready to leave. "Allergic? What a terrible affliction. I hope the time we spent here earlier didn't cause him to much grief." She had stepped forward as she spoke and fetched her cloak, and she waited until they were out in the street to twirl it on, the weight of the wool making it spin like a skirt on a dancefloor.

    The fact that Percival persisted in addressing her with a title she couldn't claim amused her, and although she knew she should probably correct him, she held off for now. "I've got some time before I need to get back. I'm not on again until after the ceremony tomorrow, unless something changes." And of course, it was entirely likely that something would. Plans were never really permanent, in their line of work.

    She had to genuinely think about whether Corran had been in for the night when she'd left, but she ended up nodding. "I think he was...I wouldn't swear to it, but I'm relatively certain. It's the first he's been in Hebron for awhile, so he's been pretty busy with meetings and the like. I think I remember him saying he was planning an early night for tonight." It was tempting to ask Percy about his relationship with his father, but Pippa held off. It was an awfully personal thing, after all, and since every indication was that it was a distant relationship, she felt it best not to ask. Maybe back home she'd end up asking Corran, if the opportunity came up.

    "I'm game to come along, as long as nobody will mind that I'm intruding." She gave a somewhat crooked smile, and added, "And as long as you don't mind being seen by your friends with someone so inappropriately dressed." Her smile broke into a grin; she wasn't at all ashamed of how she looked, but it amused her sometimes to play into the gender norms she didn't adhere to.

    ----
    @Percival Torgood

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    Percy appreciated how dry Pippa seemed to be. Perhaps he had been too long at court, but the city of Hebron seemed to teem with young ladies who were nothing but giggles and batted eyelashes, almost entirely devoid of banter and wit. The fact that he could laugh genuinely in her company and not have to feign amusement was somewhat refreshing. "Probably sneezing terribly," the knight replied, seemingly nonplussed by the idea of Lexington with red and watery eyes. "But, a few hours in the training yard and he'll be good as new," Percy assured her. Watching for a moment as she twirled the cloak about her, the boy was prone to wonder if she was this graceful in everything she did. He had no doubt he would know soon enough.

    Her words were only mild reassurance, and unfortunately ruled nothing out. "Well, if there was one place in all of the capital that we would run into him, or one time, this would be it," he told her, though there was no real concern in his voice. If the old man should be spotted, and it suited Pippa for them to act as though they were there as strangers, or to withdraw altogether, the knight would understand. They may both be off duty, but the perception of others always worked around the clock. And he wouldn't jeopardize her standing with his father. "But we can burn that bridge later," he said, silently hopeful that they wouldn't have to.

    Percival thought for a long moment about who else they might run into. He couldn't be sure exactly, but he couldn't rule anyone out. He knew only a few for certain, but those few might have brought along any number of others, from gutter rats to the queen herself. Unlikely, but one could not be certain. This event was unmistakably the first of its kind. In fact, it would have been silly for Percy to stay home and he was glad that the woman had arrived to drive him from his bed. No doubt that Somers would not have forgiven him.

    At he comment, the man looked the girl up and down. "And how would you know what is appropriate," he asked somewhat amused at the judgment she was making. If he had to guess, Pippa Avery was very likely to be the least inappropriate person at the gathering. "As for intrusions, I don't think you need to worry your pretty little head about that. I'm a very well respected person, don't you know. And any friend of mine is not only the envy of all of Hebron, but pretty much welcome where she pleases." Both of which might have been an exaggeration, but Percival's tone wouldn't have led her to think that he was being serious.

    As the reached the large, well lit tavern, there was a man posted outside. "Sorry folks," the guardsman said with palm facing them from his extended arm. "We're closed for a private affair." He gave the knight a long look, as though he might have recognized him, but couldn't be certain and therefore maintained his stance.

    Percy turned to his date with a small roll of his eyes. Perhaps she should have worn a skirt. Might have swayed the larger man into letting them slide. But as it was, it wouldn't be necessary. A large crash resounded through the single pane glass on the second floor, and the knight looked up at it as he unhooked his short sword from his belt. "Sounds like quite the time," he said to the man. "Pippa, you'll have to check your steel," he told the girl, making the assumption that she had at least a sap or dirk spirited away somewhere. If she didn't, all the better. Turning back to the man at the door, Percy held out the blade. "Jeffrey de Tankersville is expecting us," he told the guard.

    Nodding, the man took his weapon and looked at the girl for a moment, unsure if the knight had been right about her carrying a weapon, and preparing himself to be surprised if she was. "Of course sir," he said. "Begging your pardon, sir."


    @Philippa Avery

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    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    The more Percival talked about wherever he was taking her, the more curious Pippa became about it. Trying to think of what sort of places Corran would go if he were out socializing didn't help, since she didn't know too much about the man's personal life and preferences. She also wasn't sure what she'd do if they did run into him; Percy didn't seem excited about the prospect, but given the ways he'd spoken about his father thus far she wasn't awfully surprised. As for herself, she wasn't bothered by the prospect of seeing her boss in a social setting, but she didn't want the fact that she was there with Percival to become a problem for any of them. She could assure Corran that there was nothing inappropriate going on, but it was the way of things that whenever a man and a woman showed up together to anything, people would think they were a couple.

    "Fair enough," she granted, chuckling. "Serves me right for making assumptions." It was her experience in general that people thought her usual attire unacceptable in some way, but at least in the market or when she was working she could be easily dismissed from the minds of those who would disapprove. In social situations it became a little trickier, and in truth if she'd had some inkling of what the night held she would have probably dressed differently. But, it was too late to do anything about it, and if Percy wasn't bothered then she wouldn't worry. Worst case she could excuse herself and head home having accomplished what she'd originally set out to do.

    His boasts drew a pleasant laugh from the guard, and she did her best to look impressed without laughing too much. "My goodness! If someone had told me yesterday that today I'd meet someone of such renown I wouldn't have believed them!" She giggled, and put her hand over her chest. "I promise you I'll do my best to not take advantage of the association. I would hate to do anything to ruin your good name." That part, at least, was genuinely true, but not exclusive to him, or even people of his rank. Pippa was the sort to do right by anyone she met, and she always hoped to reflect well on those associations she did have.

    The tavern they approached looked lively enough, but not in the usual way. Normally there were plenty of people lingering outside, the door open more than it was closed, with music or the hum of conversation rolling out into the street. And, she had to admit, the number of times Pippa had been to a tavern that had a guard at the door was a small one. She watched the look the guard gave Percival and half-shrugged when Percy turned to her, almost as if she wasn't surprised they were getting hassled.

    Pippa cringed a little bit at the sound of broken glass, only looking up after a moment had passed, and she turned again to Percy, this time wondering just what sort of place he'd brought her to. Not, of course, that she was feeling scandalized or worried. But she continued to have to reevaluate her expectations with the knight, and frankly she found it pleasantly interesting. She did, however, delight in the look on the face of the guard as he tried to gauge whether she was in fact carrying a weapon of some sort. With very little fuss she leaned over and pulled the dagger from her boot, checking the loop holding it into its scabbard was hooked before handing it over. "Just the one," she said to the guard, and she opened her cloak and displayed that, indeed, her belt was empty of further weaponry. Then, turning to Percy, "Lead on?"

    -----
    @Percival Torgood

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    Her concession to him being right afforded the knight a small smirk. "It does serve you right," he said with a playful nod. "And you best mind yourself, missy. Step out of line where we're headed and you won't find any mercy, I can assure you of that. Nobody will go easy on you, just because you are a stranger." His tone was still light, and perhaps betrayed any chance he had of being taken seriously. Even if what he said was true. Though the punishment would be severe, it would be good natured. Percy's friends were more about the ribbing, but with the dull bladed jests as opposed to the sharp pointed swords.

    The roads were lit well enough to read her face, and her jibe about his fame and good name gave Percival the impression that Pippa could likely hold her own once they got to the party. If dealing with Victoria, and his teasing over tea were any indication, the guardswoman would be fine. "I would hate for anything to ruin my good name too," he said, suddenly wondering if he weren't embarking on a guarantee of the matter. Though he waived even the mock compliment away. "Though you flatter me. You're in Hebron after all. The odds of meeting someone of renown is better than average, I would think." Though any of those meetings would likely have been less amusing.

    Once they had checked their steel, Percy allowed the posted man to hold the door for him, and he offered a nod of thanks. "Watch your step," he warned her softly. The architecture had held up, and the wood looked sturdy, but the gods only knew how much spilled wine or ale was coating their ascent. Turning back as he was half way up, he whispered to her. "Don't judge me on them," he said with a slight eye roll, even as the second floor came into view.

    "Lallersby!" It was a high shrill voice that was shouting, and the room erupted in laughter as pair of them finally found the landing. "Lallersby, you shrew!" A man with ridiculous fake breasts stuffed into a nightgown came bounding up to Percy, waiving the stem end of a wine glass at the knight threateningly. Percy dodged the blow easily, even as the man grabbed at his shoulder to brace himself lest he go over the railing. "Hold still, you old maid. I'll do for you yet," the man added in a terrible vocal impression of an old lady. He was about to jab at Torgood again when he stopped short and looked at Pippa. "Whoah," he said, in a more natural tone for a young man. "Percy," he asked, still somewhat confused.

    "The knight smirked and finally relaxed, realizing the threat of the wine glass was gone. "Her name is Phillipa Avery," Percival said without fanfare, not trying to make the woman uncomfortable. "Pippa," he offered, turning back to her. "This is Jesse Somers. Or, Darren MacHeath. Or Geoffrey De Tankersville. Or, in this instance, Eleanor Mae Day," he said, even as he scanned the room to see who else was in attendance. No sign of his father, but there were quite a few notables. The middle Hepburn; Leigh as he recalled. Augustus Lereaux. Charlotte Hunter. Xavier Fairfax and his wife, Sophia MacHeath. Percy saw no sign of Vivienne, but did not dismiss the idea that she was in a dark corner somewhere. He wouldn't ask Somers in front of Pippa, but if the queen was present, Larson likely was not far behind.

    Jesse meanwhile, was focused on Pippa. "My lady," he said, still not quite caught up with the idea of Percival having a date. It took him a moment to shake off the confusion, and he realized that the din of the crowd had died down, and he was being observed. Snapping back into character, he put his arm over Pippa's shoulder and ushered her into the room. "Tell me deary, because I'm dying to know," he said to her in the high pitched drunken slur of the former queen. "Does the Sword of Summer pack anything more impressive than a short sword?"

    Percival nearly broke his neck snapping his attention back to the couple, and scowled at Jesse, who's mischievous eyes were playing right into the scandal of the question. The crowd, who had been all ears, laughed uproariously and then hushed, wondering if Pippa had an answer.


    @Philippa Avery
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    From "the envy of all Hebron, welcome where she pleases" to "won't find any mercy" and "nobody will go easy on you", Pippa couldn't help but smirk at the contrasting pictures Percival was painting. And that was a good thing, because it let her easily sweep past the fact that he'd called her 'missy'. She hated the term as it applied to her; yes, it could be used in an endearing way, but it was more often than not layered with condescension or mockery. It was a taunt that had historically been used to sideline her, to draw emphasis to her gender and belittle her for it. She knew, of course, that Percy couldn't have known, and wasn't using it in that manner, but it still caused her to clench her teeth just a little involuntarily.

    "Don't judge me on them."

    "I make no promises," Pippa whispered back as her senses turned to the situation they were entering. It sounded like a rowdy party, which wasn't altogether a surprise, but as they paused on the landing she barely got a moment to look around before they were spotted and accosted. The guard couldn't hide the burst of laughter as the ridiculous figure ran at them - or, more accurately, at Percy - and she covered her mouth with her hand as a natural sort of reaction. She didn't move to intervene as the keening "old woman" nearly toppled, although she would have if he'd seemed like he was genuinely going to fall, and so she was simply standing, watching, when he noticed her.

    The reaction was, she had to admit, flattering, and Pippa gave a little bow as she was introduced. The names given were largely unfamiliar, although she did recognize the name of the Day queen from her lessons. "It's lovely to meet you, Eleanor," she said even as it looked like he was still processing the information, and she vaguely wondered where he was currently on the scale of 'one to drunk'. However, they both noticed the quieting of the crowd at about the same time, and so she wasn't too caught off guard when he swept back into character and pulled her along with him.

    Without missing a beat Pippa played right along, putting on a pantomime face of virtue affronted. "Majesty, I am not the sort of girl to get a peek at a man's armory and tell!" She avoided the temptation to turn and look at Percival's face; she didn't know him well enough to be able to anticipate how he'd be reacting. "But even if I were I wouldn't be able to tell you. Your Sword of Summer and I are simply friends, nothing more." There were so many puns it was tempting to make, not least the obvious 'mine is bigger than his', but Pippa ultimately decided to play it safe. After all, Corran might be in the crowd somewhere, and she didn't need to reinforce the supposition that she was dating his son by insinuating that she'd slept with him.

    ----
    @Percival Torgood

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    Her refusal to make him any guarantee only solicited a small shake of the head from the knight. "I wouldn't believe you if you did," he told her on point, not bothering to smile or look back as he did so. Percival Torgood had an excellent memory, and as such put very little stock into promises. Too many in the past had disregarded their word too easily. But Percy wasn't overly jaded or disappointed, and his spirits were still high as they found their way into Jesse's shenanigans.

    The lull and quiet had caused a few to look over and Percy took the moment to search out the room. He saw a table not far off from where Xavier and Sophia were sitting, and had considered moving that way. Before he could steal Pippa back from Jesse however, the spoony bard he had warned her about unwittingly that afternoon was pressing her for all the unsavory details she didn't actually know. He had her by the shoulders, and he didn't look keen on letting her free.

    "If you weren't going to tell," the minstrel said heartily, "Why bother keeping the lamps lit? Seems like a silly thing to peek at a man's armory and keep it to yourself. When I was younger," the faux Eleanor began, and Percy was forced to admit that at certain moments the act was remarkably better than others. The knight didn't hear the end of the statement, as a mug of ale was pressed into his hand and he quickly drank it to try and strengthen his nerves for what was shaping up to be a long night.

    Somers however, wasn't done with Pippa. In his best channeling of Eleanor, he lowered his voice and tapped her on the nose with the tip of his finger. "Phillipa, my girl," he told her conspiratorially. "He is a man and you are a woman. Mark me well in this. You are not friends." Jesse lifted a tray out of the hands of one of the passing servers and held it up for the guardswoman. "Wine or ale," he asked, not caring which she took before he handed the tray back to the server. He tipped his own ale to his lips and cooled his throat that was hoarse from yelling and singing. "You can only be four things, so long as you're a woman. Either his lover, his future lover, his former lover, or his acquaintance. Those are the rules, and don't look at me like that, I didn't make them." At that, he kissed her on the cheek and tapped her on the bottom. "Try to have a good time, now. Or I'll be back to bother you some more," he threatened as he bounced away with his fake bosom nearly hitting him in the chin.

    It was then that Percy had rounded back to where she was, and was about to point out the table on the other end of the room, before the musicians sprang to life and people were suddenly taking to the floor with vigor. "Are we having fun yet," he asked her with a smile, hoping that it hadn't been so terrible that she was contemplating bolting from the building. "Jesse seems to like you. Too bad he is spoken for," he said teasingly. "There's food in the back, if you like. Or the dance floor, if you're the kind of girl who prefers to work up her appetite."


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  11. #11
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    Pippa laughed easily as Jesse went on the the charade, playing along and pulling all the right faces. She was at turns coy, attentive, and contemplative, and even if she deeply disagreed with what the bard - or was it the woman he was playing? - was saying, she didn't let it ruin the fun. She even saw the kiss coming and offered her cheek with a demure smile, and even though she didn't anticipate the tap on her bum, she rose up on her toes and took a step away, grinning over her shoulder and not having spilled a single drop out of her tankard.

    It was, however, a little bit of a relief when the man known as Eleanor ponced off to find another target and she found herself back in Percy's company. "We're having a lovely time," she said before she took a drink, her tone one which didn't make it immediately clear if she was being sarcastic or not. "If that's what it looks like when he seems to like someone, I'd hate to see what he does when he doesn't," she chuckled, and she'd been about to ask who it was bad for that he wasn't available when some pieces fell into place from their earlier conversation. "That's the spoony bard, isn't it?" She looked through the crowd to where he was standing, arm around another man's shoulders as his falsetto cut through the din of the conversation, and shook her head in something like disbelief. If he was, indeed, the spoony bard she'd been told about, that meant he had won their future queen's heart. Which, in turn, meant that the Queen's boyfriend had just touched her butt. It was a far stranger night already than what she ever could have anticipated.

    Shaking her head, Pippa gestured toward the general area of the tables with her drink. "Oh no, dancing is something I do not do." It was a little bit of a lie; she'd been made to dance before, but nobody had ever really succeeded in making her like it much. Not to mention that she had almost no formal training at all, so she would be hopeless among those for whom dancing was part of their routine upbringing. Taking a step or two toward the safety of the empty tables, Pippa waited for Percy to be close enough to use a normal speaking volume before asking, "So is this just a gathering of friends, or to celebrate the Coronation, or...?" Neither of those options would normally include a man dressed up like an old lady royal, but she was still trying to determine what "normal" really was for this crowd, and anything was possible.

    ----
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    The woman from Eddleton seemed to be taking the barrage of the bard in stride, and Percy was somewhat relieved. When she confirmed that she was okay, the knight chuckled lightly and shrugged his shoulders. "I would too," he confessed with another laugh. "Jesse likes everyone. I've never seen someone so good-natured toward people all the time. And I would think it less likely considering he grew up as an orphan." Percy didn't mind sharing details about the minstrel's past, as it had always been an open book for everyone who had ever known him. He never bothered to keep his own secrets, with the one exception, and therefore Torgood saw no reason to let the man stay shrouded in mystery.

    Percival gave the woman a wink at her follow-up question. "No putting anything past you, is there?" He was teasing a little, but it was well intended. "The spooniest," the knight confirmed, not bothering to elaborate. "He is a danger to all sane people everywhere," he added, even as he met the other man's eyes from across the room. Percy had problems deciphering what the bard was thinking while he spoke with him, so there was no hope of guessing his thoughts from the simple look. But he was sure he would get an opinion from his friend later.

    Pulling out a chair for the woman, the knight was somewhat surprised. "Everyone dances, Pippa. But the shy ones won't do it in public," he added with a smile. "Suits me fine," he added. "Without the blade for counterbalance, I am rhythmically challenged myself. Though good luck getting Somers to take no for an answer, if he comes calling." And there was always a good chance that he might. The players had a taste for fresh meat, and Pippa was the new kid on the block.

    Taking a moment to sit next to her, so that they could both look out over the floor, Percival spun his own chair around and straddled it. He lifted a mug and contemplated the question, before putting it back down without drinking. "It's the first state event since Queen Eleanor passed away. Nobody was really sure how to feel about that. So, there's this," he told her dryly. "It's keeping with her spirit, and it's a comfort to some of us who knew her well. The bard does her little justice, to be frank. Some of the principles wouldn't have approved, and so it couldn't be held in the castle proper." Adabella Shellten, Guy Durand, and Grayson Chelan came to mind, but Percy didn't say as much. "Jesse decided to rent the tavern. With a little help from the old physician," he added, pointing toward the gray-haired doctor who was busy twirling Charlotte Hunter about the dance floor with more vigor than Percy would have guessed he could manage.


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    "I always sort of thought there was something wrong with people who could like everybody they met," the girl said, although with more astonishment than condemnation. As happy and friendly as she was, it was hard to find anyone who worked as any sort of guard or knight that didn't have at least a little cynicism coursing through their veins. She was surprised to learn he'd grown up an orphan; it wasn't usually the sort of start in life that would lead to being in close proximity to royalty except in stories and songs, and even then it usually ended poorly. "So is he always that...frenetic? Or is that just when he's 'on', so to speak?" She asked her question with a little chuckle in her voice, her gaze following Percy's to find the lad again, although when she saw he was looking their way she didn't linger.

    Pleased to be safely sitting, Pippa hooked her toes around the front legs and leaned forward, forearms on the table and tankard set between her fingers. Even amongst people she knew Pippa wasn't a big drinker, so the one ale would probably be her only tonight...although if the bard was going to come back and try and make her dance, she might just rethink her intentions. "He'll be setting himself up for disappointment if he does." She didn't elaborate on whether he'd be disappointed because she wouldn't, or because she was terrible. "Historically people trying to make me dance hasn't worked well, but if he feels the need to try, I suppose, more power to him."

    Philippa absorbed what Percy told her about the party's origins, and let some silence linger before she responded. "She must have been one hell of a woman." There was a healthy admiration in her voice, as her gaze swept over the room. It looked like all levels of society were here, and a wide range of ages, too. If all these people had known and enjoyed Queen Eleanor, it spoke volumes about her, as did the type of celebration they'd chosen to have in her memory.

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    "Can't speak to anyone else," Percy said as he pulled at his mug and licked his lips in the aftermath. "But there's definitely something wrong with that one. He ain't been right since he fell out of the old bell tower." Which was inaccurate, of course. Jesse had not been right since long before the incident at the Temple of Swaren, but Xavier and Percival had allowed that particular moment to be a scapegoat for explaining the bard ever since it happened. If the knight was forced to suppose, he would guess that something about being an orphan makes you appreciate everyone around you, for fear that one day there may once again be nobody around you.

    "Frenetic," Percy echoed, as though he were contemplating the matter. "Mostly. Jesse has always been high energy with a quick first step. But you can get him quiet and focused, if you put sheet music in front of him. When he's working, he's calm and meticulous. Otherwise, good luck," Percy warned her with a laugh.

    Before he could go on, a heavyset serving girl brought a tray of meats and a loaf of bread with butter over to their table. "Old woman says you have a bony butt, girl," she said with a shrug, clearly not interested in inspecting it for herself. "Says if you ever want to land a man, you gotta give him something to grab hold of, and bread and butter and sweetmeats is the way to do it." But it was clear the wench didn't know what sweetmeats were, because the platter was full of smoked meats. The waitress didn't wait for a reaction from Pippa, or to be corrected, but instead turned her attention to the knight. "But if you're looking for something to hold onto while your lady plumps up, you just let me know, handsome."

    Percy gave Pippa a terrified look as the other woman strolled away, and tried to look over his shoulder without moving his head, just to make sure she was gone. "Eat fast," he told her jokingly. "That might be more than I can handle." With little interest in the bread for the moment, Percival examined the meats and chose one to snack on. "He does like you though," he said, not bothering to elaborate whether he meant Jesse or himself. Instead, and to avoid the risk of saying any more, he bit into the piece of smoked sausage and chewed on it thoughtfully.

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    "That might explain some things," Pippa said, shaking her head. Fell out of a bell tower? Unless it was out a window on one of the lower floors, he was lucky he wasn't dead. She was certainly curious about the whole story, but it seemed like one for a different time, with fewer distractions. And, who knows, maybe she'd get a chance to hear it from both of them before her time in the capital was done, and that prospect was the most promising.

    She tried to picture Jesse calm, focused, and quiet; it didn't really work. Watching him as he moved through the crowd, talking and dancing and nearly getting concussed by his false bosoms every other step, it seemed like his energy was boundless. Perhaps later he would fall into a heap and sleep for half a day, but the way Percy spoke of him it didn't sound like that would be the case; and no matter what, it didn't seem likely he'd have the luxury of sleeping in tomorrow. If Princess Vivienne was his lady, tomorrow was a big day for him, too. It made her wonder how that relationship worked, and what he felt about his princess taking a step up in the world. She never figured she'd find out, of course; it wasn't even remotely her business, and it seemed unlikely she'd ever get to know him well enough to feel comfortable asking.

    Pippa regarded the serving girl with a sort of passive incredulity, shifting to sit back and get out of her way as she put the tray down. "Send her my most heartfelt thanks, if you happen past her again," was all she said in reply, before lifting her tankard to her lips. Thankfully she hadn't properly started drinking yet when the maid's attention turned to Percival, because the ale likely would have flooded her sinuses if she had. As it was she choked back a laugh, hiding her face behind her cup, and finally spilled out into full laughter at the look she got from her knightly companion.

    "What, she not your type? You're a big strong boy, you could take her!" She balled a fist and nudged his shoulder, half expecting to get swatted for her sass. Leaning forward, she pulled an end off the bread, not bothering to butter it before sitting back and beginning to pick pieces off. The guard gave him a look out of the corner of her eye at his ambiguous comment, but just smiled instead of asking for clarification. "I'm glad. It's been too long since I've made any friends outside of work." She paused, and seemed to rethink her words for a moment. "Or rather, acquaintances." There was a smirk on her face, perhaps belying her true feelings on the matter, but she didn't go into any further detail. It was enough to just make a light reference to earlier, without having to weight it down with actual opinions.

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    "We like to think it does," Percival agreed with a chuckle. "Though to be honest, he wasn't quite right before that," the man admitted. He wasn't sure that he could make Pippa believe that Jesse was far more docile than he ever used to be. He was still high energy, but ever since Vivienne came into his life, Jesse Somers was far less reckless than he had been beforehand. With the kind of meaning that the princess had brought to his life, his friend was far less anxious to try and kill himself, just to get out of Xavier's shadow.

    Percy was still struggling with the idea of Philippa Avery. She had a unique way of being quiet without being anti-social, and he was never fond of guessing whether people were being intentionally vague. He knew what Victoria had wanted him to know, of course. That Pippa was a devoted servant of his father, and that she had wanted to be a knight. He knew that Pippa was graceful enough to demure from controversy, and thoughtful enough to trek back out into the Hebron night just to bring him a key she could have returned at any time. Mostly though, he was perplexed by her independence. She didn't seem to want for anything. She didn't even give the impression that she was looking for something. The Princess, the Waitress, the Dancers, the Lady of Westbury. They all wanted or needed something. Pippa just seemed to be. Or she was more disciplined than most when it came to keeping her desires close to her vest. Percy knew that this wasn't the time to pry about it though.

    "I'd ask you to forgive my friends," he said after possibly reading a little bit of huff in the woman's exchange with the server. "If I thought they deserved it," the man added. "I know you don't know them and they certainly don't know you, but..." He thought about how to put it without sounding terrible. Deciding there was nothing for it, he blushed a little bit. "I don't exactly get out," he told her somewhat shyly. "It's easy to blame on the job, and I do that quite a bit. But in truth, I haven't really been part of the group in a long time. I don't know. Maybe bringing you with me was a bad idea."

    Percival couldn't even be sure what was going on in the minds of the others. But he knew that his absence had been noticed, at least by Xavier. And then to show up with a stranger they've never met, he could see if they thought that he had been hiding her from them. Not coming around simply because he was busy with a new girl that he didn't want to introduce them to. It's not like Jesse could have known that Percy had just met the girl that morning. "I should have done a better job at introducing you, I think," was what he finally said, in a way that made apologies for everyone.

    Casting a glance over his shoulder at the retreating waitress, Percy pulled a face before turning back to Pippa and narrowing his eyes at her. "Aren't you kind of evil to be in charge of a small child? I'll have you know that Victoria Kendrick is a very good friend of mine, and she would be disappointed to hear that you tried to sell me into whatever depraved sexual servitude that woman has in mind." He made a gesture with his hands, pointing at his eyes and then hers, before narrowing his own again. "I'm watching you Avery."

    Percy could feel his face cringing at her comment, and set his mug down so that he could rub his temples. "He gave you the lovers or acquaintances speech," he said knowingly. "Listen," he said a little bit defensively. "That's not...It's not entirely Jesse's fault" he told her, picking his ale back up and draining the mug before motioning to another servant that he needed another. "Let's just say that when the spoony bard told me that he had become friends with the princess, I might have chided him too hard with those exact words. I had no way of knowing how badly I was underestimating him." And he had also been in a relationship with Kivennah at the time, and in a position to be condescending towards his perennially single friend. But now the shoe was on the other foot, and Jesse was kicking him with it.


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  17. #17
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    Percival's apology gave the guard a little insight into the knight without the bravado, and she found the added layer of depth made her like him more, even if he seemed embarrassed by the small confession. Sitting up in her seat so she was more even with him as he straddled his chair, Pippa pulled her knee up and rested one arm over it, casually hooking her boot heel over the edge of the seat. "Well, for what it's worth, I'm glad you did bring me. Your friends seem like good people, and I'm not sad to have the opportunity to meet them." She spoke with a bit of a smile, and there was an understanding in her expression. "Even if you're going to have some explaining to do later," she added, making light of the fact that he'd probably have to endure questioning from his friends when things had quieted down again.

    The truth of it was that she understood being somewhat solitary, even unintentionally. She wasn't going to guess at the reasons Percy had withdrawn from his friends, but he wasn't at all wrong that the job gave a convenient excuse. It did for her, at least, and she didn't even have the added pressure of having to protect the royals. The temptation to just come back to the barracks, grab something to eat, and collapse on the bed in your smallclothes was probably just as compelling to a knight as it was to a guard, though, and it was something Philippa could relate to. Going out and socializing was always a temptation, but without external motivation it was just easier to stay home and tell yourself you'd go out next time.

    There was a wicked turn to the grin on her face when the guard was accused of being evil, and all she could do was laugh. "I could always deny the whole thing, and see who she believes," she said as she lifted her tankard. "But don't worry, I wouldn't really let you fall into her clutches. She may say she'd be good to hold onto, but I'd worry you might get lost." She paused a beat and drained the last of her drink, but didn't rush to acquire another one. "And then I'd have to explain to your boss what happened, and I'd probably get in trouble for having lost you, and it'd just be a whole mess."

    "Oh I see!" She leaned back a little and arched a brow, amused at the turn of events. "So he's pulling a bit of roundabout revenge, then. That makes a little more sense now." And made her feel a little better, knowing that it wasn't something he actually believed. "Did you also say the princess has a bony butt, or is that Jesse being wrong on his own merit?"

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  18. #18
    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    The fact that Pippa still seemed pleased to be there was reassuring, and Percy felt a little more at ease over what was going on around them. He didn't know her very well, and perhaps a big part of his guilt stemmed from the fact that he had made certain assumptions about her. Just because she was close in age and clearly alone in the city, didn't necessarily mean that she was looking to meet new people. She had appeared game for a night out, but Percival could have done a better job warning her.

    "They are good people," he confirmed. Percy was proud of his friends. Proud of how they all took care of each other. "They're just curious about you, and for good reason. I was curious about you myself." And he knew his friends would ask about her later. But what he didn't know was what he would be able to tell them, or want to tell them. "They'll ask," he said, with a relative surety. "I'm working up a story as we speak. At first I was gonna tell them you were my long lost sister, but Jesse already used that one. Telling them you were a princess would also make me look like a copycat," he said with a smile. "Any thoughts on how I should attempt to explain the enigmatic Lady Avery?"

    The idea that she could deny it caused Percy to put on an incredulous look. "Deny it? When I have all of these horrendously drunk witnesses who have no business being within a hundred feet of a small child? Good luck with that, my friend." He laughed at himself, and at her assurances that he had her protection from the servant. "I don't think that Guy Durand would be cross or surprised if I disappeared, except for the fact that he would have to get you to cover my shifts," he said, only half jokingly. Pippa had a strong sense of duty, from what he could tell, and he had spent most of the day wondering how good she was with a halberd.

    Her sudden understanding of Jesse's motives made him smile and nod. "Sorry that you were collateral damage," he told her, wondering if he was bordering on being apologetic to the point of annoyance. "Is he wrong," the knight asked innocently. "I hadn't bothered to look," he told her in what amounted to a deliberate falsehood. In truth, he couldn't be sure what Jesse had said to the waitress, but he didn't think the woman had ad libbed too much of it.

    Before he could manage to speculate as to whether the torment of Pippa was over, he noticed the tall frame of Xavier Fairfax making his way in their direction. He didn't bother to conceal his eyeroll from Pippa, and the other knight cleared his throat as he finally reached the table. "Philippa Avery, I presume," he said though he was clearly leveling his blue eyes at Percival, as if trying to read something in the other man's demeanor. "Xavier Fairfax," he said, extending a hand to the woman. "Queen Eleanor says that you are Percival's acquaintance," he said with what almost passed as a snort of laughter. Percival could only groan and put his head in his hand.

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  19. #19
    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Pippa gave Percival a look that questioned the statement that his curiosity was in the past tense, but she didn't have to verbally question it. She narrowed her eyes, curious at the story behind Jesse telling people he had a long lost sister, but was distracted from asking. "Not to mention it'd be pretty easy to prove I'm not a princess, considering your buddy could just ask his whether I am or not." She gave him a bit of a smirk, and then shrugged, picking up a piece of meat from the tray and rolling it in soft bread.

    "You could take a risk and tell them the truth," she said as she popped the morsel into her mouth. "Although 'I pulled her and the kid she was watching out from a tour and gave them tea, and then she dropped by that evening and I decided to take her with me to the party in Queen Eleanor's honor' doesn't sound that great, now that I think about it." She didn't offer any ideas past that, but did add, "I'll be curious to know what you end up telling them."

    The guard laughed, nodding as he proved her point that he didn't exactly have a reliable witness, and she chuckled again at the idea of having to cover for him should he disappear into the clutches of the chubby serving girl. She didn't have any reason to know it was absurd to think that Guy wouldn't be concerned if Percival went missing, and all she ended up saying was, "Yeah, that would go over well," with a bit of a laugh.

    "I've been in the middle of worse," she said, and finally decided she'd go for another drink and flagged down a passing servant with a promising looking tray. New drink in hand, she arched a brow when the question of her figure's merits were raised, but rather than being mysterious about it, she answered frankly. "He is wrong, yes," she said with very little artifice, but also without conceit. Pippa was proud of her figure, but not, to return to an idea from earlier, peacockish. Of course there were times she wished she could change some things about her looks, and she'd grown up cursing the fact that she'd taken after her mother in having full hips but a relatively slight chest. But at this point she'd trained for so long that she loved her figure because it was useful - and it didn't hurt that all that training had, indeed, given her a lovely posterior.

    Seeing Percy roll his eyes, Pippa turned to see a tall man coming their way, and she couldn't help but wonder if this would be the handsome rogue he'd mentioned earlier. She looked up at him as he spoke, although while his eyes were trained on Percy she made some snap assumptions about him. He looked older, although not incredibly so, and he looked fit in a way that spoke to activity, so possibly another knight. She fixed him with a charming smile of her own and shook his hand, not with the weak and gentle handshake of a lady, but with her usual strength and confidence. "Guilty on both accounts," she said pleasantly, glad she was in on the joke now, and since Percy was already looking tormented she didn't feel much bad for adding, "I'm pleased to meet you. Percy's told me a little about you, and it's always good to put a face to a name."

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    "Even current princesses are not the authority on whether or not someone else is a princess," Percy told her with a smile. "If there was anything I learned from Eleanor when she was alive, it's that only a fool assumes he knows the bounds of royalty." In fact, he knew this to be true personally. Guy had been looking over records for days, trying to discern if there were any pretenders to Vivienne's throne. So far he hadn't found any, but that didn't mean that it was the end of the matter. "After all, we are not alone in the world. The arrival of Balfourians to our shores proved that. You could be a queen of some exotic foreign land," he said with a shrug, even though he thought the chance of that was infinitesimal.

    Percy took a sip of his ale, even as he shrugged at the prospect of what he might tell them. "The truth wears many hats," he told her. "I might try it, even if it doesn't line up with your version," he admitted. There as power in the truth, and Percy knew it. It was free of braggadocio and testosterone, and even if it was unbelievable, there was nothing his friends could do to question it. "She swept into my life with a kid on her shoulders and a polearm in her hand. And I immediately liked her enough to subject her to this," he said, motioning to the party taking place around them. Where it went from there was a question he wouldn't be able to answer for a while yet, if ever.

    Her dismissal of his comment was more humorous than she could know. If there was one thing that Percy was certain of, it was that Philippa Avery didn't know Guy Durand. "Don't think you're up to the task," he asked her, with a straight face and no hint of teasing or jesting. "The Commander of Dawn isn't interested in your pedigree or experience," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "He'll look right through you, Pippa. And if you have the ability, he'll see it. Keep that in mind, just in case you make the mistake of letting me out of your sight," he said to her, finally cracking a smile.

    The insinuation that she had been through tougher spots made Percy chuckle. "The night is young, Lady Avery. I wouldn't be so sure of that if I was you." Especially not with Xavier on his way over. It was unsettling Percy a little, but not so much that he would let the conversation on her bottom pass. "I suppose I will take your word on it," he offered, before smiling wryly. He didn't think that Pippa was dim enough to believe that he wouldn't make a point of looking now, but he would still be chivalrous enough to try and avoid getting caught.

    The knight was about to object to her comment toward his friend, but Xavier cut him off with a look and the continued conversation with Pippa. "Did he now," Xavier asked with interest. Casting a glance over his shoulder to see if he could spot Sophia, the blond man leaned closer. "Did he tell you I was married," the man asked, even as his wife came strolling over. Standing upright, he raised his voice. "Quite happily for some time now, as a matter of fact. And Percival here is our dear friend," he added, as he felt the slender hand on his shoulder. "Isn't that right, love? Sophia MacHeath, Philippa Avery. Lady Avery, Lady MacHeath, Mistress of Nightingale Keep, and, begging your pardon, the most beautiful woman in all of Tuneric."


    @Philippa Avery @Sophia MacHeath

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