Oct 20, 2019 2:49 PM
Emma and Ivan in Chronicle
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She's- she's not a leader, this is Jann's quest, how did she wind up with a crowd following her, she's-

-she's a princess and she will deal with it.

She straightens her spine, dusts off her dress even if she's resigned to the spider blood, and manages to herd the lot of them into something resembling an organized group. It would be the most exasperating thing she'd ever done if she hadn't had to manage Morath and his friends; she sighs internally at the comparison. Once she decides they'll be able to move through the caves without tripping over each other, she starts back the way they came.

(Slowly. While watching for Jann. He's the one she knows, in this crowd of strangers; this is much easier when he's near.)
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He stays near the front of the group and helps with herding them, but she's the one who actually knows the way; he's only been through the once and there was a lot of darkness in the relevant time period. He makes sure that not too many people are trying to cross that rope bridge at the same time, though, which means he's the last person across. It doesn't break. He shoulders to the front again when they're all on the far side.

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The spiders are gone when they get back to the relevant tunnel. That's- concerning. She knows it's the right spot, it is, she can see the smear in the dust where she'd curled against the wall, and the bloodstains on the floor. But she doesn't want to think about what could have taken the spiders, so except for a nervous glance at Jann, she keeps them moving.

They're louder now than when it was just the two of them, but a crowd of armed knights is a much less appealing target. That's what she's going to repeat in her head, at least. There's more men here than in Griffinmarsh's entire castle guard, unless she's badly miscounted; she's safe.

(Her walk drifts her closer to Jann anyway. She doesn't know these men, even if they have swords.)
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Jann, too, is concerned about the missing spiders. He sticks close to Emmalina. "Everybody look alive," he calls to the various knights and princes. "Could be something bitey here, we had trouble with giant spiders on our way in."

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"I'd kill a helluva lotta spiders if it got me a guide looked like that!" one of the men at the back chuckles loudly.

Emmalina blushes, she can't stop herself, but she knows better than to engage. She sets her mouth and keeps moving.
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"Somebody didn't pass his etiquette classes in knight school," mutters Jann under his breath. Walking a bit faster now, slightly between Emmalina and the ex-boulders.

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Emmalina glances backwards. "No armor, no sword," she says softly. One of her Princessly Skills is the ability to be able to speak quietly without looking like she's talking. "He's probably a forester out to make his fortune, someone's middle son maybe?" She looks back at Jann. She doesn't smile, but the stress lines around her mouth loosen a little. "The knights I know are perfectly polite."

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"Hey sweetheart, do you-" the man at the back starts, before someone near him clocks him on the head and angrily hisses something about ingratitude. Emmalina rolls her eyes and lets herself smile, just a bit. "I should probably be upset by the violence," she tells Jann, sounding completely unbothered.

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"As long as they don't start trying to kill each other it's all just a slightly informal tourney. For, in this case, your honor."

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Well, that gets a laugh out of her. "That would be a first," she says.

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"Really? Can't scarcely credit it."

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In retrospect, that might have revealed a bit more than she meant to. Too late now. "There's not a lot of knights in Griffinmarsh," she says. "I was supposed to meet more, at the tourney, but- well. Morath."

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"Very bad timing on his part."

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Emmalina shrugs slightly. "The tourney didn't actually exist," she tells him. "So I suppose my alternative was more embroidery, not socializing. But it might have been nice," she adds, trying not to sound wistful. "The marshes made it hard- we didn't travel much."

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"...The tourney didn't exist?"

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"Dragons don't usually abduct princesses in the vicinity of a tourneyful of knights," she says with a smile she doesn't feel. "But it meant I was in an easily spotted carriage."

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"...Oh, one of those. Setup arrangements. I don't quite get the mentality there. I mean, it seems to set some people up all right, but couldn't they just be... introduced in some politer way, I don't get it."

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Emmalina looks down at her hands, which seem to be clenching her skirts rather more tightly than usual. "I've. Never had the chance to ask." She knows she probably sounds a little curt, but it's that or start ranting about her parents, and if there was ever a place to not do that, leading a score of knights out of the Caves of Fire and Knight would be a strong contender.

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Jann takes the hint. "Mm."

On tromp the score of knights.
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Emmalina greatly appreciates his hint taking. First, it's nice of him, and second, then she doesn't have to be mean to him, which would be horribly ungrateful. He gets a small but appreciative smile for his tact.

The group emerges from the caves almost entirely unmolested, except for the usual attacks of cave-walls-in-darkness. A couple times there were eager shouts of beasts glimpsed in corners, but if such even existed, they seemed to have the sense not to bother quite this many knights and promptly disappeared. Arriving at the entrance- exit?- of the caves is anticlimatic, but very bright.

Emmalina covers her eyes with her hands, hissing with annoyance. "...sun," she grumbles. "Sun, ow."
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Jann winces too. "Ow," he agrees, "ow, ow, look a shadow." He ushers her into the shadow, which helps a little.

Wincing knights and miscellaneous disperse into the late daylight.
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"Thank you," Emmalina says gratefully to Jann, and lets herself relax, eyes closed. When the bright white circles have started to fade from her eyelids, she opens them again, much more slowly and carefully. When she can see again, she looks down at her dress, and immediately wishes she hadn't. Dirt, dust and spider blood are not a winning combination, and the hem is torn well beyond hope of repair.

She grimaces at the sight, and then turns back to Jann. "So..." she says blankly. "Those were the Caves?"
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"Those were the Caves. I'm not sure why they get talked up so much as a tourist destination. Give me a nice trail ride in the woods any day."

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"But just think how disappointed the locals will be."

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