Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Nice office.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Although, you really should put something on that wall.
Raleigh Montague looks around. “Thanks. Actually there was something on that wall when I inherited it.”
Raleigh Montague says: A head.
Raleigh Montague says: I’m not much for trophies.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: … How droll.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Certainly not that kind.
Raleigh Montague drily says: No.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: Plenty of young ladies in the guild these days.
Raleigh Montague says: Quite. All in my House, I imagine, although the odd young lady does get sorted into one of the other Houses.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I find the company of very young ladies somewhat challenging. It’s all fashion and ambition and flirtation with them.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: You are… unmarried, good looking, and wealthy. I’m certain you get your shares of young ladies wanting your company, more so than I.
Raleigh Montague asks: Can I offer you a drink? I’m not being very hospitable am I?
Raleigh Montague wanders drinksward. “We have some rather good port.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh, I do not drink anymore, I fear.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: One of my wife’s little requests.
Raleigh Montague gets you a cup of tea. “I don’t seem to notice any more. The young ladies, I mean. I fear I might be broken.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: My wife rather insisted that I cease and desist my attempt to commit suicide by liver failure.
Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “In that case, no more port for you.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: As for female ballistic missiles I tended to not notice either.
Raleigh Montague resumes his seat and leans back in his chair. “I doubt I would make a very good husband, anyway. I think it’s a terrible way to ask a woman to live.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: I’ve always made a horrible husband. My wife has her hands full.
Raleigh Montague says: Indeed? I thought women didn’t put up with that sort of thing any more.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Oh, I do believe most women want a husband they can change.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: My first wife wanted me to be more… expressive.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The second, to be a contributing member of society.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The third, to stop drinking. I find that request the easiest to comply with.
Raleigh Montague mildly says: It does seem the most reasonable.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley steeples his fingers. “Quite. Had I the wisdom of my current age back then, I should have skipped the first two.”
Raleigh Montague laughs. “I think I will skip another marriage altogether. Once was enough.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly asks: Tell me, Montague, how do you feel about the Rusts?
Raleigh Montague shrugs. “I have had no particular run-ins with them.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley thoughtfully says: Ah. I have long been of mind to relieve Ronnie Rust of a considerable bit of his wealth.
Raleigh Montague amusedly asks: Your cousin?
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm-hmm. Horrible man. Lead our armed forces against Klatch, as I recall.
Raleigh Montague says: Oh, possibly. I was quite young when that happened.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley quietly says: If Sir Samuel had not arrested him for loitering with intent, I do believe we should have been speaking Klatchian today.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The bastard is the head of the family, and I have the displeasure of being related to him through my dear mother.
Raleigh Montague says: Loitering within tent, as well, I believe.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Or both.
Raleigh Montague says: Well, they loathe the Selachiis.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm, I have no quarrel with the Selachiis beyond them loathing me for being a Rust, of course.
Raleigh Montague says: Mutual loathing. Very Ankhian.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Whereas Lord Rust makes my fingers itch to redirect a fair bit of his fortune to better purposes.
Raleigh Montague says: If you find a way, and you need a comrade in arms, let me know.
Raleigh Montague says: I’ll be happy to participate in such a noble venture.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley smiles softly. “That, is what I was wondering.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: I fear I am possessed of what my wife likes to call a criminal mind.
Raleigh Montague chuckles.
Raleigh Montague meditatively says: I wonder what she’d call mine.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: You should ask her some day. Unlike most women, Poz can actually keep a secret.
Raleigh Montague smiles. “I’m afraid my conversations with your wife begin with ‘Hello, Lady d’Ackerley, what a splendid evening’, and end with ‘Goodnight Lady d’Ackerley, what a splendid evening that was’.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: I shall ask her to invite you for a quiet soiree sometime, perhaps just the three of us.
Raleigh Montague says: You’re a cruel man, d’Ackerley.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I have not told her your secret.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley asks you: Yes, I have been told so on occasion. What prompts it this time?
Raleigh Montague says: A quiet soiree? I already do not have the time to fulfil what I’ve been told are my social obligations.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: All the more reason for -quiet- soirees.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Do what I do, Montague. Ignore them.
Raleigh Montague laughs.
Raleigh Montague says: I ignore as many as I dare.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I have grown quite bold in that regard.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: The Ankhian nobility does not like me, and I do not like it.
Raleigh Montague says: Tut, a fallen man in society’s eyes.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to you: I think I am mostly just held to be an eccentric ex-drunk attached to Lady Poz’s ankle. I do not mind.
Raleigh Montague says to Sir Andrew d’Ackerley: I think it is the mystery attached to me that sustains their interest in me.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Mm, perhaps we can remove some of that.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Nothing deters the curious as well as something absolutely mundane.
Raleigh Montague says: I am not particularly averse to being mysterious, though.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles lightly.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I hope you will forgive me for saying it, Montague, but in spite of us being only a few years apart — in some ways you do seem… young.
Raleigh Montague asks: In what way?
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: You desire to be an enigma, for one.
Raleigh Montague says: I do not desire it, but having had it thrust upon me from a very young age, let us just say I am used to it.
Raleigh Montague says: It is a comfortable place.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: I prefer to dwell in obscurity. Let people consider me just a harmless eccentric. Gapp knows Ankh has plenty of slightly unhinged but mostly harmless lords.
Raleigh Montague looks amused. “Indeed, so let me have my enigma. We cannot all be harmless eccentrics, after all.”
Raleigh Montague says: And yes, I know the second point you will make. I am far too reckless, and this is surely another indictment of my lack of maturity.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: I am certainly not going to steal it from you.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Ah. No. I shall not. At least not as long as I amuse myself keeping Sir Samuel busy.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley reclines on the desk still. He takes out a slim cigarette, inserts it into his ebon cigarette holder and lights it with a match.
Raleigh Montague says: Quite. In any case, I put it to you that it is not – uncommon – to present a face to the world.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley laughingly says: Oh, dear me, no, no, it is not. I have a dozen.
Raleigh Montague leans back in his chair. “So pray regale me with your remaining observations. It is not my desire to appear an enigma, and it is not my recklessness. What else do we have?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I do believe that you are baiting me, my good sir.
Raleigh Montague grins. “Perhaps just a little.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Perhaps it should be I who invite your assessment of myself instead.
Raleigh Montague gazes at you with half-closed eyes. “Pretends to be harmless, is not. Likely to have his fingers in many pies. Gentleman, but not a gentle man. Snob, with a healthy disregard for rules.”
Raleigh Montague says: I suspect you could have a rather cruel streak, if provoked, or something of yours is threatened or taken away from you.
Raleigh Montague says: And you most certainly do not share your toys.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley tilts his head. “Mm, quite apt, I dare say. Except perhaps the last part.”
Raleigh Montague’s mouth twitches. “Indeed? I look forward to your proving me wrong.”
Alaia stares at the polished door. It’s now or never. She knocks. Tap tap tap.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley stands up. Sitting on a desk is so… cordial.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley gets off the desk and stands up.
Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “Dear me, I seem to have been run to earth by a student.” He gets to his feet as well. “Come in.”
Alaia opens the door, stalks in, shuts it, and stares at her House Master.
Raleigh Montague groans, but inwardly. “Ah, Alaia.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley is just part of the backdrop. Honest.
Alaia doesn’t notice Andrew in the room. She’s got something to say and it’s been stewing inside her. “I SAW YOU.”
Raleigh Montague asks: What did you see?
Alaia folds her arms and looks sulky and accusing at the same time. “I was in the fighting pit that night and I saw you, you were in the cage, and you were fighting this guy, and YOU KILLED HIM!” That last part might have been a slight shriek.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley strolls to the window, back turned upon the two, on silent boots. Only a magpie outside can see the small grin dancing on his lips.
Raleigh Montague’s eyes narrow.
Raleigh Montague sternly asks: Are you trying to tell me that you were in a part of town you shouldn’t have been in, unsupervised, without permission, at an hour when you should have been asleep in your bed?
Alaia looks startled at how neatly this has been turned around. She sulks some more, totally on the defensive. “Uh.” She remembers something. “I wasn’t unsupervised. I was with Daimon.”
Raleigh Montague raises an eyebrow. “A vampire. You were with a vampire, who is not a master of this guild, and who certainly didn’t have permission to be your chaperone. You are making this much much worse, Miss Al Rasheed.”
Alaia falters. “But. I. You haven’t explained yourself though, and doesn’t matter about me, what you did was much much worse.”
Raleigh Montague icily says: I owe you no explanation; if you did indeed see someone who looked like me in this place you mention it was a coincidence. I imagine it was crowded, smoky, and you probably didn’t have a good view.
Raleigh Montague sternly says: Before you go running around shooting your mouth off at people and accusing them of things, I advise you to have sufficient proof. In the meantime, Miss Al Rasheed, you are grounded. You will not leave the guild for two weeks. You will miss half-term. You will serve detention every day for three hours with Miss Band.
Raleigh Montague says: And you are dismissed.
Alaia stifles a sob and rushes out.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: May I insert an observ–oh.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Dear me.
Raleigh Montague resumes his seat, and catches your eye. He rolls his own. “That girl.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly. “If you wish, I might delicately drop a suggestion to her later that contracted clients are found in… unexpected places, sometimes.”
Raleigh Montague chuckles. “Don’t get me wrong. I admire her spirit. But she has no idea how to behave. She is in her late teens, supposedly. She behaves like a child.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley amusedly says: Goodness, Montague, I have been a House Master myself. As well as a teen. I am well aware that the little lady has, ah, authority issues.
Raleigh Montague amusedly says: There will be quite a few bust ups before we all shake down together, I suspect. The young Widows are still getting used to having me in charge.
Raleigh Montague bemusedly says: And I am still getting used to them, I confess.
Alaia is sitting by herself in the Big Hall, drinking milk and eating biscuits.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley just coincidentally happens to be strolling across with a number of papers under one arm. By some terrible mishap he has a light coughing fit just near her table, dropping papers everywhere. “Oh dear.”
Alaia is torn between covering her milk to protect it from cough germs or helping pick up papers. Deciding she’s in enough trouble already, she does the latter.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley too kneels down to pick up papers. “Oh, thank you, Miss Alaia. That’s very kind.”
Alaia piles papers together haphazardly and gives them to you.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley sits down at the table with a slightly distracted air and begins laying them out for sorting. “Really. The weather here. It does a number on my poor chest, I swear. How are you doing?”
Alaia eats an oat biscuit with a distracted air. “Oh I don’t know. I got punished.”
Alaia sulkily says: And I have to miss half-term.
Alaia says: I wanted to go home and see my dog.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: I’m sure Doctor Montague will let you off early for good behaviour. He’s a decent fellow.
Alaia drinks her milk at top speed. She sighs.
Alaia stubbornly says: It was him.
Alaia hesitates. “I think.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley carefully sorts pieces of paper. It seems to be sheet music. Quite advanced, too. “You did ask an, ah, indiscreet question, though.”
Alaia looks chastised. “I always seem to do that. But I didn’t tell anybody else and I wasn’t going to, but I had to ask him.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: I am sure he would be quite less forgiving if you had, Miss Alaia. Don’t trouble yourself with it. All of us have at some point had to realize the very reality of what we study to become.
Alaia gazes at Sir Andrew. “What do you mean?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up at her. “Clients are not all found in the mansions of Ankh, my dear. Sometimes, one must play quite less flattering roles in order to close a contract.”
Alaia’s mouth becomes an O shape. She blinks. “Oh.”
Alaia ruefully says: I never thought of that.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly as he finds page 23. “I had to pose as a Djelian procurer for nigh a year, in my youth.”
Alaia nibbles around the edges of her second biscuit. “Procurer of what?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley delicately says: A procurer, Miss Alaia, is a… not quite a gentleman who arranges for female companionship for travellers and sailors.
Alaia says: Ewwww seamstresses.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: More or less. It was… quite different from what I am accustomed to.
Alaia shudders theatrically. “I will never be naked with anybody. Ever.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley chuckles softly. “The ladies did not have much choice in the matter. But what I meant to say is, if it was really the good doctor that you saw, I am certain he had his very good reasons.”
Alaia sighs. “I suck so much at being an assassin, of course it’s the first thing I should have thought of.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says to Alaia: You -are- a student for a reason, my dear.
Alaia leans her elbow on the table and rests her chin on her hand, gazing into the distance with her dark eyes. “I will apologise.”
Alaia says: I will make a handsome apology.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says to Alaia: I am certain that he will appreciate it.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley finds page four, yay. It was hiding under 20.
Alaia looks at the pages at last. “Are you the new music professor?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley looks up. “Goodness, no. These are just a few sheets I borrowed from the Kompt de Yoyo. I play a bit for my own amusement.”
Alaia looks at the music upside down. “What instrument?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley politely says: I do prefer the violin. This piece is for the clarinet, though.
Raleigh Montague stalks past on his way to the climbing walls, where he has a session. He inclines his head shortly at the occupants of the table and moves on.
Alaia freezes for a second before getting to her feet and running after. “Doctor Montague!”
Raleigh Montague pauses in his tracks and turns around. He raises an eyebrow. “Yes?”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley nods at the retreating professor, still sorting sheet music. It was such a good conversation starter but he should have brought a smaller pile.
Alaia wrings her hands together as she always does when she’s feeling overwhelmed. “I’m sorry and I didn’t tell anyone and I never would and I didn’t know you were there because of a client although you weren’t there and I didn’t see you.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley murmurs softly behind her, “Breathe, dear girl, breathe.”
Raleigh Montague looks down at you. “Thank you, Miss Al Rasheed. Your apology is accepted.” He turns to leave, but not before glancing in Andrew’s direction.
Alaia wrinkles her forehead. She runs after again. “Doctor Montague!”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley smirks ever so slightly to himself before stacking the next sheet.
Raleigh Montague applies the brakes. He turns around. “Yes?”
Alaia hopefully asks: Am I – Am I still punished?
Raleigh Montague’s expression doesn’t change. “I’m afraid so, Miss Al Rasheed. Excuse me, please. I really do have to get to the wall.” He wanders off, smiling to himself as he does.
Alaia stamps a small foot in frustration.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley mildly says: Temper, temper, Miss Alaia.
Alaia wanders back to her table and looks at Sir Andrew. “I still have to do everything and miss half-term and Miss Band for three hours.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: Miss Band is quite lovely though. Formidable teacher.
Alaia sighs. “She’s strict.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley carefully smooths a sheet. “Good teachers generally are.”
Alaia mournfully says: Then Doctor Montague is good then.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: I have not known the good doctor long enough to offer a genuine evaluation, but from what I hear, he is quite talented, and a quite talented teacher, yes.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley adds with a small smile, “And his lectures actually have students.”
Alaia eats her last biscuit and looks at the time. “Well I better go to detention then.”
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley says: Thank you for helping me with this mess.
Alaia says: Thank you for talking to me and helping me see.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley softly says: Do not worry about it, Miss Alaia. I have been a student too, once.
Alaia wanders off, comes back and attempts a half-hearted hug, getting Sir Andrew’s shoulders, and then wanders off again, feet dragging. Miss Band. Ew. Detention. Double Ewww.
Sir Andrew d’Ackerley continues to sort sheet music until eventually it is all in order.