Underneath the Canopy

March 1, 2013: After chatting with Dana for a bit in the Silveroak, she and Logan wander out into Faerie itself to continue the discussion.

The Silveroak

The Silveroak Tavern sits nestled off one of those side streets in New York no one ever quite thinks about until they happen to be there. It's like a hidden gem in the city, really. Red brick facade accented by green painted wood in an old English pub style. There's no writing over it to proclaim its name. There's just a wooden sign that hangs on a copper bracket over the street, painted with a silver tree, a tankard inscribed on its trunk.

Pushing inside the red-painted door leads one to the warm, golden tap room. A long bar sits against the far wall, the shelves behind it laden with popularly recognizable through to entirely obscure bottles of alcohol from all around the world. A full sized keg, the sort one might expect to see in a period movie, sits at the far end, an oaktree like the one on the hanging sign burnt into its face. It houses the local house mead, widely rumoured by those in the know to be the best in the city… if not the world. The smell of rich and homey foods can be detected wafting from the kitchen, though getting through to that kitchen is a challenge to any not part of the staff.

The place is owned and operated by a small, silverhaired woman apparently in her 60s with merry eyes and a tacit demeanor. She is at once everyone's kindly mother and fierce landlady, a genuine force of nature. Her name is Wassea and she is not lightly crossed in this place. This is a neutral meeting ground. Dark, light, or wild, it matters not. All that matters is that the peace is kept and food and respite are enjoyed to their fullest.



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Mood Music:

As the conversation shifts to a more in-depth look at her father's culture, Dana motions for the hairy mutant at the bar to follow her. Picking up her now half-filled tankard, she pushes through the door to the kitchen, leading him into Wassea's inner sanctum. It's a brighter place than the tap room, a large window behind the long counter across the back wall letting in slanting rays of twilight. It's a place fashioned of stone and wood, copper and brass, not a hint of iron or steel to be seen. Even the water comes from an old copper pump in a deep stone basin.

The landlady and chief cook and bottle washer looks up from the bread she's kneading, an arch to a silver brow in askance at the intrusion. "He's good," Dana tells her, a light smile on her lips. "We're just going to step out back for a bit of fresh air."

Wassea gives her a knowing look at that and gives Logan a very clear once over, assessing him. Finally, she gestures lightly with a floured hand and passage is granted.

Flashing her a grin, Dana lifts her mug in salute and continues on through, pushing through a heavy oak door to the yard beyond the kitchen proper.

In truth, it's a remarkable garden — more of a clearing in the woods, really. There is no sign of New York, any more. Only an endless forest drenched in perpetual twilight, though whether its the light of dawn or of dusk is impossible to say. Turning to look back at the tavern shows the window and the door structure inset into the roots of a vast tree with silvery leaves in a sharp-edged oak-like pattern. It towers so far above, it might be reminiscent of a red wood Sequoia in height and girth. Smells are sharper here, sounds clearer and at a greater distance. There's a sense of life all around, and of shelter, the great boughs of the tree spread wide to create a sort of protective canopy overhead.

Dana sets her mug down on a window sill and grabs and old barrel to set up as a makeshift table, a couple of smaller kegs to use as stools. Once she has, she retrieves her mug and invites Logan to join her with a gesture not terribly dissimilar to Wassea's earlier granting of passage. "Have a seat," she tells him simply. "We're freer to talk out here than inside."

Logan's own, empty tankard is left at the bar as he moves to follow after Dana, blue eyes sweeping across the inner room as they enter it. And then he notices the older woman present. Chuckling dryly at the clear assessment, the old Canadian inclines his head to Wassea as he greets her, "Evenin'. Very nice place you've got here."

The canucklehead doesn't linger around though after the gesture, stepping through the doorway after Dana into the yard. There's a sharp sniff, and a blink at the sight of what welcomes his eyes, as well as that of his other senses.

Distracted from the woman for a brief moment while she sets up the makeshift table, Logan lets himself adjust to some of the differences in this place before looking back to Dana. "This..where are we? Magic I take it?" He moves to join the half-fae woman, settling on a keg opposite her, "Thank you." Looking back towards the door, the mutant wonders, "Is she your family?"

Wassea accepts Logan's greeting with a gracious nod and a prim, if friendly, "Thank you." But, she quickly returns to her kneading when the pair finally head to the back door.

As Dana lowers herself onto one of the kegs, the mug placed on the barrel, she watches Logan's reaction, and notes it's not greatly different than her own. Even she seems to relax further when she's away from the tap room — as welcoming as it is. "We're beneath the boughs of the Silveroak," she tells him, even though the answer may not be the most helpful. "It's a sort of magic, yes. The Silveroak is technically in the Otherworld, but it exists simultaneously in so many different worlds that the overlap here is near perfect." That probably doesn't mean very much, either. "Thresholds are a large part of Sidhe magic and we did cross three of them to reach here." The pub door to enter the tap room, the kitchen door to enter the heart of the demense, and the back door to achieve the twilight clearing… Thresholds, and the rule of three, all working together.

She takes a sip of her mead and smiles over the rim of her cup. "Wassea? Yes. Well, not technically, but still. She is. She might as well be." All Dana really knows is that the old woman looks out for her, and in return she looks out for the old woman.

Peering up at the massive tree for a moment, Logan shakes his head before looking back to Dana. Magic or no, the sensations here, so reminiscent of the wilderness, and so much…/more/ than the natural wilderness, it does sort of relax the feral old mutant.

"So, that's the Silveroak. So are we not in my world? If I got up and wandered off, I take I wouldn't be able to find Westchester, eh," the canuck muses while trying to make sense of the fae woman's remarks. "Thresholds. You're gonna have to explain some of this better sometime when we get past the basic intro for dumb canuckleheads." There's a grin offered to the woman with that bit.

The words about Wassea get a nod as he speaks, "I been around a long time. Maybe not as long as your faeries, but the family you choose is more important than the family you're born with, I think. Blood don't mean somebody's gonna be there when you need them."

Lifting a hand to scratch at his cheek, the mutant looks around at the forest, "So, is this where they live? These Sidhe folks?" Attention back on Dana, he adds, "I got some questions about these faeries, if you're willing. Particularly if you're gonna let me help protect you."

"I don't know that you can protect me, Logan," Dana says quietly, now. She's not refusing his aid. She's just not sure what he can do. "But… you've a touch of the Wild about you, I think… so I'll answer your questions. Those questions I can, anyway."

She looks around. "The Sidhe live in the Otherworld, which this is technically part of. I don't recommend you cross beyond the reach of the old oak's canopy, though. Wassea's protection of this place doesn't extend beyond it. I don't know how she protects it, I just know that this is her demesne, and as such is inviolate. It has been accorded status as Neutral Ground, which means all are welcome here, regardless of allegiance, and none may do another harm, in this place, regardless of oaths or other compulsions. It's all got something to do with ancient, arcane treaties, all in the name of keeping the overall balance, if not outright peace."

"I don't know if I can either. Won't stop me from doing my damnedest to try," the mutant tells Dana simply, "Which is why I'm curious about these faeries." There's a chuckle at mention of the Wild and Logan inclines his head to the woman, "Nature..the wilderness and I see eye to eye. It's a harsh, dangerous place. You gotta harden yourself to make it for long."

Leaning forward, Logan plants his elbows atop his knees, his attention solely on the half-Sidhe woman as they speak now. A lot of what she's saying doesn't quite make sense to the mutant, he doesn't know enough just yet, but he's listening.

Grunting at the end, the canuck shakes his head slowly, "I guess my first question is..let's say one of these Sidhe folks has finally had enough and they decide to try for you. How do they do it? They sneak in your room with a knife? They cast some spell that causes you drop over, from miles away or what?"

"Depends on the Sidhe," Dana says, a wry smile touching her lips. She sobers some, knowing that's not a good answer. She regards him for a long moment, once again, and her lips press together. "My father is Arawn, sometimes called Gwyn, King of Annwn and Lord of the Wild Hunt." That wry smile returns. "Some people think they're born to be wild; I actually have it on my birth certificate." Or would have, if hospital officials believe such thing. Technically, 'Aaron Hunt' is listed as her father on her actual birth certificate. But, she can't help the joke.

"I don't know how well you know your folklore or pagan mythology," she continues, "but Annwn is, effectively, the Celtic version of the Elysian Fields, or Tartarus, depending on who you ask. And the Wild Hunt is how you get there. The Greeks have Charon the Ferryman and Cerberus the three-headed hound. The Celts get my dad and a pack of cwn annwn — hell hounds."

She gives a mild shrug, now. "I've spent a lot of time brushing up on my Celtic folklore and mythology over the past few years. Not everything contemporary scholars believe on the subject is accurate, but they've got the salient details well enough."

Reaching for her mug once more, she takes a sip. "The thing is, the fact my father is a King is important. For the most part, very few of the Sidhe nobility can come after him directly; not without risking an extremely messy blood feud. But, what they can do is come after me; mess me up." A beat. She sobers again. "There's an awful lot you can do to a body without killing her," she notes. "Most anyone who comes after me will avoid killing me. If they kill me, Dad gains the blood right to kill them, or someone of equal value to them. Failing that, he can gather his armies and attack in force without violating any treaties. It gets very messy at that point, for everyone involved. There are precisely two members of Sidhe Royalty who out rank my father — even other kings are merely his equals, not his betters. And those two are the Queen and the King. They're the only ones who could technically have me killed without fear of automatic reprisal. Most specifically, however, it's the Queen herself who has that freedom. Because my father owes her his fealty, the King can't technically harm me without opening himself up to reprisals from her."

She considers it further. "The problem is that I haven't pledged allegiance to either of them directly. Nor, technically, even to my father. So, I'm wild in more ways than one…"

She shakes her head. "Long answer short, however, there's any number of ways they could come at me. They might encourage a mortal attacker to come after me. Then, they can disavow any responsibility. They could send lesser fae after me to harass me or plague me with any manner of irritations or outright dangers. They're more likely to use spells from a distance than direct confrontation. It depends on how big a threat they think I am, or how personal a message they want to send to my father… So… Not so short an answer, I guess. Not when it all boils down to 'I don't know'…"

Log Note: Queen and King = Queen and High King

"Lord of the Wild Hunt," Logan repeats after Dana, grunting at her comments while she looks at him with that considering gaze yet again, "There's strength in the wild. That's a point in your favor, Dana," the mutant remarks with a brief grin for the half-Sidhe Princess before sobering for the rest of the information. "He's the Celtic version of Hades, then? Or more like the ferryman?"

The old mutant shakes his head slowly, blue eyes studying Dana's face as they converse. "So, you're a real life faerie Princess, eh? Guess it's not all it's cracked up to be, is it?" There's a frown at the mention of someone 'messing her up' and the reference to torture or something of the sort, "Believe me, all too familiar with that, Dana. And I got zero intention of letting anything of the sort happen. I ain't a faerie wizard or anything, but if there's one thing I know, it's fighting. Can you tell me what I need to know to fight these things? Do they bleed when you stab them? Bones break when you hit 'em?" There's a gruffness to the mutant's words now.

"Are you planning to pledge allegiance to anyone? You actually involved in the faerie crap, or are you trying to stay out of it?" Wolverine wonders of the woman, "It seems like the latter, from all I've heard so far, but your faerie folks don't care." There's a shake of his head as he pauses for a moment, thinking again.

Looking up at the tree towering over them, he starts talking again, "Plain old thugs and assassins to look out for, thug faeries, curses and the like, and magic. You're a tough girl, eh? Got your hands full." There's another grin offered as Logan looks back to the witch, "Known folks to crumple under less pressure than that."

Dana snirks. "The shit faerie princesses go through, if my life is any indication," she tells Logan, "ain't fit for Disney." Not by a long shot. Nevertheless, she nods. "They bleed. They break. They heal fairly quickly, but few heal instantaneously. Frankly, though, if you really want to harm them, use iron. Cold, hand-forged iron. That takes ages to heal from." Something she's learned from personal experience, and iron doesn't affect her nearly as badly as it does her kinfolk.

Nevertheless, she shakes her head. "No. I don't intend to pledge allegiance. Certainly not any time soon. I want to stay as far away from the fae as my blood will let me." Which, actually, isn't very far, come to think of it. Therefore, after a beat. "Farther, actually. Much farther… If my father hadn't decided to 'legitimize' me, I'd probably be living in Brooklyn, right now, helping my mother at her shop, blissfully clueless about any of this."

"In any case," she adds, "the moment I swear allegiance is the moment I lose my human ability to say 'no'. So… yeah. Not giving that up."

At his assessment of her, however, she gives a wry — perhaps self-conscious smile. "Tough? Maybe… Mostly, I just do what I need to do to keep going. I call it survival, more than anything else." Pragmatic, this one.

"Bleeding and breaking is good," Logan murmurs, then smirks, "and I got a bit of insider info on how to deal with folks that heal from scrapping." He doesn't spend terribly long gloating though, as the next comment from him comes dryly, "Though that's dependin' on them stickin their head out for an up-close and personal dance, which seems like it might not be their first choice."

Thinking about the iron for a second, the canuck grumbles, "I ain't got iron. Though I suppose I could always wrangle up a sword or knife made of it. But if they cut and bleed from other things, ain't necessarily gonna need the iron." Lifting his right arm, there's a brief flex of muscles as he makes a fist, followed by a ''snikt'' when three gleaming metal claws pop out, extending a foot from his knuckles. The sudden appearance of the claws might draw attention away from the fact that there's no blood or anything from their appearance, the wounds healing that quickly around the blades.

"Like I said, I don't know much about magic and faeries. But fighting and surviving? I been doin those for a while now," Logan remarks. Looking down at the gleaming metal, he chuckles, "Ain't iron, I'm afraid, but I only seen a few things on this planet, or anywhere else, that these don't cut through."

Keeping the claws extended, the man grunts at the other bits, "Is there a reason your father, the faerie king of the underworld, decided to drag you into his crap? Seems like you'd have been off living your life in peace if he hadn't involved you."

Dana blinks as the claws *snikt* out. Her brows rise. "That…" she says slowly, "will probably be quite effective. If you do get up close and personal, I suggest beheadings. Not even the Cauldron can bring back the headless." Not that she knows, anyway. But, she'll be the first to admit her understanding is somewhat less than comprehensive.

She shakes her head, then, however. "I don't know what my father's reasoning was," she says. "For all I know, he engineered the affair with my mother, in the first place, to ensure I would be born — perhaps not me specifically, but some child he could claim as heir. He claims to love my mother, but…" she shrugs. "I don't know." Her expression is shuttered somewhat, however. It may be a sensitive subject. More sensitive, in fact, than the very fact the Sidhe exist… at least to her.

A dry chuckle answers Dana's comment and suggestion, "Can count on one hand the number of times they ain't been effective. And if I ever wind up scrappin' with one of these faeries of yours, I'll keep that in mind." Relaxing his hand, the gleaming metal disappears back into the hairy mutant's forearm, the thin cuts between his knuckles disappearing almost instantly.

Hmm'ing aloud at the woman's answer about her father and noting her expression on the matter, Logan lifts his hand to scratch at his cheek, "I understand, if you're not wanting to talk about that. Suppose it ain't the important thing here anyways, not for me anyways. Worried about makin' sure none of these Sidhe try to 'mess you up', as you put it. Can't always be around to play guardian, figure you don't want me in your space all the time, and I got other duties. But you're safe when you're in the tavern, right?" There's a pause, and a grunt before he queries, "Is that 'completely safe', or is that 'supposed to be safe'?"

"Might help if I better understood these Sidhe folks and their rules, but I suppose I'll just have to pick that up as I go along, seems kinda weird, the most of it," Logan grumbles. Eyes on the woman's face, he inquires, "You got any reason to think someone might be actively plannin' to mess with you? Weird feelings like you're bein' watched or followed or anything?"

Dana shakes her head. "Nothing aside from the Thunderer's words about sensing the Queen's mark upon me." Which, admittedly, is word enough for her. "The Queen and I have had a detente for the past several years. I stay away from Faerie, aside from neutral grounds like the Silveroak, and she stays away from me. Personally, I consider it something of mutual non-aggression pact, except it really isn't. The last time I was in her court, she effectively said she would not pursue me, herself, but neither would she extend me her protection. That doesn't rule out having me followed, marking me so she can keep tabs on me, or standing idly by while others take pot shots at me. Further, she has forbidden my father from lending me protection outside of his own demesne. I think it was a bid to force me to stay in Faerie. The problem is, I prefer Earth. This is my home. I lived here until I was 16, when my father turned up unexpectedly on my birthday and spirited me away. The time I spent in the Otherworld was a crash course in pain, politics, and personal endurance. I can't say I have a lot of love for my father, though I'll concede a certain measure of respect. His training has saved my life, on occasion."

She shakes her head lightly. "I can't tell you if this place is 'completely safe' or 'supposed to be safe'. I like to believe it is 'completely safe' — no one in their right mind goes up against Wassea. But, she's not the Queen. And I don't know who it is that really holds her allegiance. In the end… with the Sidhe involved, nothing is completely safe."

She then regards the mutant for a moment, before she presses her lips together in decision. "I am a witch, Logan. This does give me a range of magic. But, if I really have to guess why I attract so much attention, I am certain it is because of the other gifts I have. I am what they call a True Seer — clairvoyant after a fashion, but horribly unpredictably so. The actual heart of my talent is to perceive the true nature of anything I look upon. Faerie glamour cannot fool me. Neither can any other sort of disguise that is not simple prosthetics or a costume. I can walk down any street in the world and tell you precisely who is human, who is demonic, who is angelic, and who is fae simply by looking at them. I can see ghosts and wandering spirits, and talk with them when others don't even know they exist. I can tell superhumans from normal humans by the strength of their auras. And I can read the character of a soul in the patterns I see there. I see threats long before they actually manifest. It's all instinctive. And I do make mistakes. But when you add to it the prophetic visions the Fates sometimes see fit to plague me with… I'm considered something of a prize."

"This Queen of yours is soundin' like a serious bitch," Logan comments gruffly while he listens to the half-fae witch. "If you want to stay here, then this is where you belong. Seems this Otherworld ain't no place for somebody who grew up in New York City." Scratching at his beard, the mutant falls silent, attentively listening to Dana and studying the woman across from him.

Lowering his arm, Logan sets an elbow upon his knee and leans on it, "So the only thing keepin' this place safe, when you get down to it, is the fact that the nice lady in the kitchen would be upset with them if they did anything." There's a look back over at the door, before the claim to be a witch has his full attention again, blue irises on Dana's face.

"Is that what you're doing when you go quiet and stare at me?" The old mutant chuckles a bit, putting two and two together fairly quickly, "I hope you didn't see anything bad in there. My soul's older than most."

Shaking his head, Logan leans on his elbow, a wry grin curving the man's lips, "So, the beautiful faerie princess with a magical gift. Some of these faerie folks want you to come to your side, then? Whether you want to go or not, is that what you're saying? Because if it is, let me tell you, I been around that block a few times. It ain't a fun block. Folks that see you as a tool ain't gonna stop seein' you like that."

"Hence the reason I prefer Earth," Dana says dryly. "But, yes," she sighs, "I am impinging greatly on Wassea's hospitality, which is one of the reasons I help out wherever I can here." Earning her keep, perhaps. "She's never asked anything of me, and I don't know why. It's highly unusual for the Sidhe. They prefer bargains and trades — preferably either skewed to their personal favour or at least equal in weight and reward. I admit I find it troublesome, but… I trust her. I can't say that of very many fae." A beat. "I can't say that of very many people, in general, actually."

So, a wry smile touches her lips. "But, yes. That's precisely why I studied you. I can see you're no paladin, certainly. And, yes, your soul is older than most. But, you've the sense of a knight-errant about you… and, as I said, the Wild. I understand Wild. It pulls at me, too."

"So, if you can do this faerie magic yourself, you have some defense against them messing with you that way, yeah? Granted, they've been doing it a lot longer.." Logan wonders of the woman before nodding at the bit about deals and trades, "Who knows. Maybe she's just a genuinely good sort. Ain't a ton of them around, but they do exist." The old mutant rolls a shoulder in a shrug, glancing at the door again for a second.

"A knight, huh," Dana's words have the feral glancing back to the smiling half-fae woman with a grin and chuckle, "Does that make me your knight then, Miss Faerie Princess?" He looks away momentarily, looking to the fae wilderness around them, "Must be nice, having this little bit away from the city. Get tired of the cars and buildings and people and noise on occasion myself."

"Only if you swear fealty," Dana says with a soft chuckle, not recommending that he does, nor denying him the opportunity. She believes Wassea to be one of the good ones, however. The woman has yet to lie to her, though she's sensed that there are secrets kept, nonetheless. She's been unwilling to push such an issue, however. She has secrets of her own, after all — or so she believes.

She looks around, now, at the comfortable clearing. "It is," she admits. "Necessary, too, sometimes." She chuckles, now. "Wassea does rent rooms, by the by. I can't guarantee what the price would be, mind, but I'm sure she'd discuss it with you, if you wanted it. Or needed it."

That chuckle has Logan arching a brow and snorting in amusement himself, "Swear fealty. And what would that involve, Princess? You got a sword to tap on my shoulders before I become Sir Logan of the wilderness?" He turns his head to look around again, nodding at the woman's words before hmm'ing, "I'll keep that in mind, then. Sure beats some of the places I've stayed when I'm in the city overnight."

Attention back on Dana, the mutant runs a hand through his beard, "I wonder if there's something you can do to just get them all to forget about you. Guess it's too late to go asking your father, mister King of the Hunt, to go and unrecognize you." Fingers scratching at his jawline, Logan wonders, "Are you his only heir or somethin'?"

"Fealty?" Dana's brows rise, mildly surprised he'd even consider it. And then she chuckles, perhaps sensing a jest in that. "Actually, it involves an exchange of oaths and binding magic, I believe." A beat. A chuckle. "I could research it more fully, if you like. That might, actually, be a surefire way to bring anyone after me out into the open — if they think I'm building a powerbase."

She grimaces ruefully though and takes the last swallow from her tankard. "My father will not disown me, now, no. Not unless I were to do something truly horrible… and I do not think I could stomach such a thing, nevermind him. It would have to be an act of personal betrayal of great significance. There may be little love lost between us," from her perspective, "but… well, there's a reason I don't truly fit into the Sidhe courts. But, yes. I am his only heir. And, I suppose, that's the problem."

She rises now, rolling her shoulders. "It's a challenge, Logan. One that won't be won in a day. But… if I survive so long, I understand I could have centuries to allow me to time to figure it out."

"Magic oaths again, should have figured," Logan chuckles dryly before nodding, "Look into it. Might as well cover all our bases, eh?" The canuck listens thoughtfully to the response about the woman's father, grunting at the last bit, "Well, I suppose that explains why he recognized you in the first place. Possibly, anyways."

Shaking his head, the old mutant moves to rise when his half-Fae hostess does, "Not many things are easy enough to end in a day, this is soundin' like it'd be lucky to have ended in a year."

There's a grunt as he pauses briefly before remarking upon the mention of having centuries, "I'm workin' on getting through my second one. Surprisingly it ain't any easier than the first was." Chuckling to himself, Logan inclines his head to Dana, "I'm honored you shared so much with me, and I'm hopin' I can be of use to you. But I think we've blabbed enough for one night, eh?"

"Mm." Dana can't disagree. A beat. She looks at the man. "I am trusting to your discretion in this, Logan," she tells him seriously. "And, I warn you, I may very well have made you a target, this night, simply by telling you as much as I have. But you…" Her head cants. "Second century, huh? That may very well explain a lot about you."

She moves toward the back door, however. "But, you're right. We've spent enough time at this, for one night. And I expect Paddy could still use some help. Stop by again… I'll let you know what I find."

With that, she leads him back through the kitchen and out to the taproom, where the night slanting through the windows is remarkably darker, and remarkably later, than the eternal twilight beneath the oak branches they left behind.

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