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New Year's Day, after the hunt [14 Nov 2003|11:14pm]

I arrive back from the hunt shortly before seven, and waste little time in going to my rooms and shedding my fine dress coats and britches. Once more in casual robes, and with still an hour before supper I make my way quickly along the corridors of my father's palace to Helene's rooms. Lit by candle and lamp light I can hear servants scurry around the floors beneath. Occasionally a long shadow will pass the stairwell, but none come to this floor.

As I approach Helene's door, I draw back. The man Aeneas is leaving her door, and now walking towards me. I continue on, cautious. As we near, he doffs his head towards me, as he should. And we all but pass.

"Aeneas." I want to spit his name. He stops, and turns to face me. What is his game I wonder, and why is he leaving my sister's rooms at this hour?

"How is Helene?"
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New Years, Evening [10 Nov 2003|11:53am]

[ mood | accomplished ]

A good day's sales, all in all... much of Ilium's fine citizenry were out and about today, shopping after a rousing hunt. I heard snippets of conversations about what occurred there... some foul deed, perhaps, or some intrigue or indiscression. I paid no more than cursory attention to all that- no longer my concern, any of this... I am concentrated on finance, and finance alone.

Well.. perhaps not solely finance. I did notice a handsome young man or two amongst the crowds, and I could have sworn one of them was giving me the eye. Perhaps I am not as entirely disinclined to make new friends in my new life as I might have first thought. I will leave the possibility open, surely...

As I was packing up my wares for the evening to put them all away, I noticed a young lady who had been selling quilts doing the same. As I was quite in need of a new bedspread, particularly with the chill air in these parts- I decided to stop in to purchase one on my way home. I hastily closed for the evening, and made my way towards her...

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PRIVATEER [09 Nov 2003|04:58pm]


New Year's Day

Technology is a wonderful thing. From my position on the hilltop I can watch everything that goes on with a telescope. The dogs are off, the riders following leisurelily after them. My man is in place behind the Achilles party, whom he has been cosying up to of late. He is carrying a perfect replica of a Hector arrow in his quiver, which is disguised by illusion as a plain one. Just so long as the fool picks the right arrow to shoot with, the Achilles are about to be seriously affronted...
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[01 Nov 2003|09:34pm]

New Year's Day: before noon

The hunt has just begun, but even so, my mind is racing with thoughts of other things. It has just come to my attention via a good friend of mine that the Privateer is back in town. I owe him at least eighty-thousand gold pieces, though with interest it's probably more. No doubt he will be seeking my company in the near future, and I will only be able to pay half of my debt at most and not go bankrupt.

Before I saddled up, I caught a glimpse of Catrionia conversing with a lady I have not seen before. She did not look like a noble, however there was a regal beauty about her. When I later had the chance to talk with Catrionia alone, I found out her name was Faustina and that she is a trader who just moved to Ilium. It has my curiosity stirred, I must say.

I see a good sized steer not twenty meters away from me. I reach for an arrow as inconsipcuously as I can, and pray that nobody else slays him before I do. I release my arrow and I close my eyes, asking the steer forgiveness as I hear the life drain out of him.
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[01 Nov 2003|06:21pm]

New Year’s Day, afternoon

I descended the stairs this morning, fully dressed and coiffed, to find Marcellus in his dressing gown, picking at his breakfast plate. He wrote some things out on paper with his other hand.

"My lord," I said, sliding into the chair across the table from him, "surely you won’t be watching the hunt dressed like that!"

He barely looked up from the china and replied, "I haven’t the time for that sort of nonsense."

"Whatever do you mean? We attend every year. What will people say?" I asked, my disappointment growing by the second. The hunt itself isn't really all that exciting to me, but I enjoy the spectacle of young men in tight-fitting breeches, riding about on beautiful horses.

"Frankly, my dear," he said, the sneer evident, "I don’t quite give a damn."

"Well, I want to go! And I cannot go alone, for there shall be even MORE talk about us in town than if we don’t go together."

Marcellus waved his pen wielding hand in a general manner and went back to his figuring. This made me rather furious.

I pressed on, "Well, I am in need of an escort!" More numbers appeared on the paper to the accompaniment of the quill scratching against it.

"Of course, my LORD. Ignoring me helps things rather well, doesn’t it?" I took up my water goblet and tossed its contents at him. The droplets rolled in haphazard courses down his face and beard. He rose up from his chair, glaring at me as he spat, "You BITCH!"

I stood up as well, smirking at him. He grasped my wrist and twisted it. "Give up," I whispered. "Everyone knows you are ineffectual as a man!"

He picked up his plate, remnants of food still clinging to its center, and threw it at the wall. I heard feet running towards the dining room. Hermes appeared in the doorway, and our tableau gave him pause: my husband's face dripping with water, his big-knuckled hand grasping my delicate wrist, both of us with angry countenances.

He broke the silence. "Mother!" Hermes shouted, and he stood at the head of the table, crying out, "I shall take you to the hunt; just, please, don’t do this!"

Marcellus disengaged my hand, and stalked out of the room. There was a faint rosy mark on my wrist for the rest of the day, and it twinged every so often, but I wasn't too concerned. I knew I had hurt him far worse than he let on.

Hermes and I set out a little later to the centre of town. In a few minutes, we are joined by my other children. The traders and food vendors are still setting up their stalls. Through a throng of people, I think I spy Clayton, but by the time it disperses, he is gone. A moment of apprehension, then it dissipates.

"Look," Hermes says, pointing us in the direction of the square proper. "The men are mounting; they must be almost ready to start."

We make our way towards them.
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PRIVATEER [01 Nov 2003|03:14pm]


New Years' Day

I deal in that which is not dealt, the underworld, illegal, the dead and the dying, limbs and tongues, spells and potions. I am the Privateer. If you need something in Ilium, I am the one who can get you it.

I hope to continue to play the Hectors and Achilles off against one another to keep myself in business. Arms dealers only make money during wars, naturally. Cold wars tend to be my speciality. That Hector boy already owes me plenty of money, so he is at my beck and call should I wish. I've seen the Achilles brat sniffing around my turf recently too, I shall have to find what's going on there.

Meanwhile, I've drugged one of the weakling councilmen to cause an escalation at today's hunt. It could be messy, we shall see...
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[01 Nov 2003|02:34pm]

January 1st, Afternoon

Everyone has gone to the hunt, even some of the servants. The house is very quiet, so still that I can hear someone coughing several rooms away and the sounds of footsteps in the street below. I decide to see Helene; I need to find out how she is, and if she intends to hurt herself again. I need to know for my job, but I have to admit to myself that I am worried for her, too.

I am soon outside her chambers. I cannot just go into her bedroom, so I slip into her drawing room. The adjoining door to her bedroom is slightly ajar, and I hover beside it. I cannot see Helene, but there is a servant girl busying herself by the wardrobe, hanging up clothes.
"Can I get you anything, my lady?" she says. I strain to hear Helene's soft and cracked reply:
"No thank you, Lucy. You are dismissed."

The girl curtseys and leaves by the other door. I wait until her footsteps have faded down the corridor and then I knock lightly on the panelled wood. "Come in" follows, and I step inside.
"Do not be alarmed, lady," I say, as Helene's eyes open wide and she pulls the sheets up to her neck. "I just wanted to see how you are."
"I'm - it's - Gentlemen aren't allowed in my chamber," she finished in a stammer, her face flushing the same shade as her hair. I sit down in a delicate chair next to her bed.
"You are quite safe with me, Helene. I was just worried about you."
"You know what happened last night, Helene." I look at her gravely, trying to see signs of madness or wickedness, but her face is all sadness and sighs. "I want to know what possessed you to do such a thing."
She turns her face into the pillow and says nothing. I stay still, waiting for her reply.
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[30 Oct 2003|02:13pm]

New Year's Day, afternoon

Helene is sick today, and confined to her room. Even my father has forbidden me speak with her. I am worried for my sister. And now I am here, in the market square waiting for the hunt to start. Father is already on his horse, preparing to lead the hunt. I find the whole idea distasteful. I have never enjoyed New Years Day for this reason, and this year, with Helene surcumbing to some mystery illness, I am enjoying it even less.

Still, there are stalls and tradesfolk here with their wares to peruse, and I wander amongst the throng idly looking at the goods on sale here.

I saw the Lady Penelope with her three children earlier, talking to some purveyors of antiques. I hid my head and moved away quickly. Tomorrow, will be soon enough to meet with that family again.

I find myself at a stall of shawls and needlework - I have little idea why - but I am standing there feeling the soft and delicately woven fabrics beneath my fingers when I look up, and into a face - her face. I fluster and splutter and say her name eventually. She looks back at me, saying my name, "Charles?" I feel Elisabeth's eyes interogate my formal attire - questioning who I am...

I am about to reply to her when, across my shoulder comes the crisp call of my father's cleric, addressing me by my full name. I stop. Elisabeth looks on at me...
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[22 Oct 2003|02:33pm]

January 1st, morning

I sat up most of the night, sleepless and thoughtless, my mind a grey blank. I decided to fill the time by writing my report to Sir Hector. I fill it easily enough, but when it comes to the topic of Helene I rest my quill and wonder what to say. I have a duty to tell Hector what has been happening; he is my master, after all. But to tell him that Helene attempted suicide? For him to know that she is capable of such a wicked crime? I cannot, for Helene does not seem very wicked to me, and I do not wish her to be destroyed. Perhaps it was a mere moment of madness, the sash and the chair, but I cannot be sure.

Eventually I scratch down a few words and send the letter off with a messenger. An hour or two later, the whole household turns out for New Year's Mass. All save Helene. When I ask after her, Achilles tells me curtly that she is sick in bed. Does he suspect anything? I am all at once afraid for her, trapped in her bedroom, alone with her thoughts. As I kneel in the church, my knees pressed into the hard wood, I pray that she may do herself no more harm.
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[22 Oct 2003|02:23pm]

January 1st, afternoon

Many people are at the New Year's hunt, but I have no time for such sport. My darling lady wife nagged at me to take her, for of course she cannot go alone. I think she wishes to look at the young men riding; I have seen the expression in her eyes. Lascivious bitch. So I told her no, and she raged and stormed at me until Hermes came in and offered to escort her. Now the house is silent, and I can relax in my study. I do prefer it when my family is away.

I have received Aeneas' first report. It is quite brief, but then, he has only been in the household a few days. Still, I will be expecting more of him if he wishes to receive the generous sums he has been promised. Let's see, what does he have to say?

...Hmm, a homosexual chef, how interesting... I doubt that Achilles knows he is harbouring a sodomist. And po-faced Clayton has been seen with a girl of ill repute! Well, well. I smile to myself as I read the next line: "you may like to know that your younger son has been blackmailing the young gentleman, though for what purpose I have not yet ascertained." Ah, Mercutio. He reminds me of myself in my youth. Ordinarily I would be forced to reprimand him - I have not spent all these years cultivating a respectable reputation for him to ruin it through wildness - but I decide against it in this case. Anything that unsettles the Achilles family makes me happy. My jaw tightens as I think of all the wrongs Achilles has done me, and I realise I have scrunched Aeneas' report up in my fist. I smooth out the paper and read his last comment. The ink is a little darker, as if he was disturbed in the writing and came back to finish the report later, or as if he had sat for some time thinking of what to write.

"Lady Helene is, I think, somewhat disordered in her mind."

What does that mean? It is not like Aeneas to be cryptic. Still, if I read it right, he is suggesting that the girl is a lunatic.

How marvellous.
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[19 Oct 2003|07:46pm]

i struggle for air; my chest feels too tight. someone is standing over me, somebody dark, but i can't tell who. the walls are spinning, faster and faster. the floor lurches below me. for a moment i am on the boat, the one my father named mary. perhaps we are going to the island with the flowers and the wood-smoke.

but then i feel hands upon me, frantic hands and i remember the way the music stopped. the hands are scrabbling at my dress, unlacing my bodice. i want to scream but i have nothing left; my lungs and my belly are empty.

there is light now, somebody must have kindled the fire. i look up and see him. his skin is stretched tight across his bones; i want to reach out and touch him. this doesn't seem real.

he is saying my name over and over. helene. i want to tell him that my mother named me after the moon. helene.

for the first time i notice other people in the room - two of the maids. they are standing behind him, their eyes alive with excitement. it is not everyday that a lady tries to kill herself.
"please don't tell my father" i manage to croak. he stands up and he leaves without a backward glance.

an hour later
they have put me to bed. they did not say a word to me. i wonder if they are talking about me in the kitchen.
i don't remember what i felt as i swung from the beams. i do not know what i feel right now.
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January 1st, Early Afternoon [19 Oct 2003|01:52am]

Elizabeth had decided the night before what she had to do. She had to get out of the city. The only problem was the fact that her landlord made it out so that she could never save enough to leave. He told her that most of what she made had to go towards her upkeep and paying off the debt her mother owed him from when she was sick. What little money she did make went towards other things, things that were a necessity for her.

She hated to do it but she knew what she must do. She would go to the hunt today and she would sell the patchwork quilts her mother had so lovingly made. They were of excellent quality, probably some of the finest quilting she had ever seen. She wanted to keep them but she felt her mother would rather her sell them and make a new life for herself elsewhere then to live and die in her footsteps.

She had not told anyone of her intent. Instead she had packed up the quilts in a laundry bag. She told everyone she was off to do the wash and headed out into the noon day sun. She hated what she was about to do but she had no choice. If she could leave this place, go some place smaller, perhaps she could meet and marry and simple fisherman and live a somewhat normal life. She craved for something a little less mundane but life was mundane for all women, regardless of social stature. It was just something she would have to learn with.

She got to the square where the other merchants were setting up. She paid her fee for table space and spread the quilts out carefully. She hugged each one close to her as she handled it, smelling them, unshed tears gleaming in her eyes. She felt as if her entire life had all come down to these quilts, and she were selling them for pocket change. She did not know if she would ever be able to forgive herself.
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New Year's Day, early morning [18 Oct 2003|11:39pm]

I cannot sleep. I fret over my alcoholic tongue. Was I foolish to believe that this would work favourably? The hope that it would is diminishing.

Marcellus is snoring soundly, but he would sleep through anything. I am not quite sure what, if anything, he suspects about me.

I'm doing Clayton a favour. He is so very naive in the ways of the world; it's time he learned how to consort with real women and not just harlots.

I toss and turn most of the night, pondering both sides of my problem, until the first edges of light fight their way to the horizon.
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[18 Oct 2003|11:22am]

January 1, mid-morning

New Year's Day means breaking fast with the family. I am wary to step into the dining room. I dress myself (I like to dismiss my servants for the holidays, as usually I am too stressed to be waited on at this time of year) in bright green leggings, an old faded dark green tunic and fasten my favorite belt over it. I look out my window and sigh.

There is a knock on my door. "Enter," I say, turning to face the door. Catrionia comes inside, still in her nightgown. "Good morning,"
She smiles, hands me a satchel, and says, "Please keep this safe for me, brother. Do you promise?"
"What is it?" I say, looking down at the blue velvet bag.
"I will tell you later. Do you promise to keep it safe for me?"
I do not want to become a victim to another one of my sister's pranks. I do not want to be involved in another one of my sister's bad ideas. "What is it, Catrionia?"
The smile is wiped off her face in an instant and her eyes shoot flames at mine. "I said I will tell you later, Mercutio. You will keep it safe for me."
"Very well," I say, trying not to sound intimidated into the decision. An evil smile is now on her face as she leaves my chamber, without thanking me.

I gently put the satchel on my bed and I stare at it. It cannot be anything large inside. I felt no glass, so there cannot be any viles of potion inside. What did I feel inside? Nothing alive. Not grains of something.
My curiosity runs wild and I am about to pick the bag up and look into it when there is a knock on my door again. I quietly and quickly throw the covers over top of it and say, "Enter."
Hermes, dressed in a fine red silk tunic and blue leggings, along with a blue cap with a long red feather, walks inside my chamber and shuts the door behind him. He stands tall and proud and expressionless.
"Good morning," I say, waiting for him to speak.
He replies in a deep voice, "Do you have it?"
"Have what?"
"The blue bag." He steps closer to me. "Catrionia said she was going to give it to you."
"Just this morning, minutes before you entered, she handed me a blue velvet satchel and told me to keep it safe. Hermes, what is going on?"
He made a face that looked like he was making a note to himself in his head. "I cannot tell you now."
"Those are not words I like to hear, brother."
"They are not words anybody likes to hear, but they are necessary. Keep it safe, like she told you, and all will be explained later."
He left me standing in the middle of my chamber, mouth agape, mind blank. I pondered changing into a fine outfit, to look important like my brother, but changed my mind. I am a modest sort of fellow when it comes to family matters. I do not wish to stand out amongst my siblings like Hermes or Catrionia.

I wish to be a successful entreprenuer. And with thoughts of business in my head, I sit at my desk and start bookkeeping.
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[17 Oct 2003|09:01pm]

january 1, early hours

i am sitting by my window, looking out at the carriages below. the men stand talking, waiting for their masters and mistresses to emerge from the house.

when i was six, i saw a woman being taken away. it took five men - she was kicking and screaming, her hands clawing at their skin.
i asked my nurse-maid why.
"she tried to cut her throat with her husband's sword."

the silk scarf drips through my fingers like water. i am tired; my head and my bones are dragging.
there is nothing now; mister castor and clayton and my father and the maids and the hectors have faded. there is only her face and her voice and the way she used to sing lullaby night-magic.

i hum one of the half-remembered songs. ribbon red, ribbon brown. what goes up must come down.

i kick the stool away and close my eyes.
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[16 Oct 2003|05:50pm]

[Karen, ask me to edit this if you're not happy with it - I'm just going with what you said in ilium_ooc.]

New Year's Day, early hours

I am confused. I had taken Helene outside; it was a perfectly romantic setting, the stars gleaming in the frosty night, the sound of music behind us. As the church bells rang out for New Year I wished Helene well, and then she fled! I thought over what I had said, but I could find nothing amiss. For all that, she had stared at me like a frightened rabbit and then scampered away. I returned to the ballroom in confusion, wondering how I had let her slip through my hands like that. I saw Lord Achilles, who looked very pleased with himself.
"Have you seen my daughter?" he asked after a little conversation.
"She said she was tired, my lord," I said quietly, and his mouth creased into a frown, but then he was all smiles again and wished me a happy new year. I wondered what he had been doing that had made him so cheerful. I would have to find out.

I retired to my room shortly after this, and had a nightcap by candlelight. The room was cold; no servant had been up to light my fire, having forgotten me evidently in the hustle and bustle. Well, it would be a bad idea to let the servants think they could treat me as unimportant, and so I began to make my way down to the kitchen.

Or so I thought I was doing. Instead I looked up and realised I was walking towards Helene's drawing room. Why had my footsteps turned here? I stopped, my candle flickering pale light in the dark hall, and I felt a strange fear in my breast. Something was not right. I heard a thump, like something falling over, and the fear increased, my skin tingling with the knowledge that something bad had happened. I hurried down the corridor and pushed open the door to the drawing room.

One bare candle lit the darkness, a small pool of light illuminating the upturned chair. I looked up in horror at the shape in the darkness, suspended from a beam. In a moment I had pulled down the silk sash and Helene lay on the floor, her face white as moonlight and her hair spread like blood across the rug. Damning my fingers I tugged at the silk about her throat, finally freeing it. Her skin was pink where the cord had dug into the flesh. No breath came from her and I shook her frantically, not knowing what to do. She needed air, but how might I provide it?

An idea came to me, and I breathed in hard and then placed my lips to hers. As I breathed out there was a long moment where I think my heart stopped, so quiet was the room, and then her eyelids flickered.

There was a sound at the door, and turning, I saw a maid standing there, a candle in her hand. Her face was white and accusatory. We must have made a sinister tableau, Helene and I, me crouched over her silent flesh, and so quickly I said:
"Miss Helene has fainted. Fetch her some smelling salts." The maid hovered, undecided. "Go!" She scampered away, and I turned back to Helene.
"My lady, what were you doing?"
She looked at me, her breathing shallow.
"Do - do not tell my father," she gasped. "Please." Her small hand weakly scrabbled at my arm, and I nodded. At that moment the maid came back with another servant. I stuffed the silk sash into my shirt and left the room, and now it is nearly dawn and I find I cannot sleep.
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[14 Oct 2003|04:30pm]

1st January, New Years Day — around 2.30pm

I had promised to meet with Elizabeth in the forest this evening. I shalln't go, though. Truth is, I'm still a tired from last night festivities. The last of the guests didn't leave till gone four this morning, and I didn't sleep well. The events of last night are still encircling my mind, preying at shreds of memory trying to have some sense made of them. To have one approach made by a Hector would be confusing enough, but to be approached on the same evening, at the same ocassion by both mother and son bothers me.

And then there was church at 10 o'clock, for the New Year Mass. After the events of Christmas I thought it best not to antagonise my father any further. I might be wrong, but I suspect he may have instructed some of his clerics to tale my movements. It is best to keep my nose clean for the time being - at least until the start of term again. Which leaves me with an interesting conundrum. By rights, I should not meet with either Hector tomorrow, but can I afford not to meet with Mercutio, and I find myself intrigued as to what the Lady Penelope was meaning not to attend her meeting. I shall have to make plans with the utmost care...

For the moment, I fill my plate at the buffet lunch down by the The Three Crowns. The New Year's Day Hunt will be starting from here in an hour, and then tonight - I shall seek out the company of dear Helene. It is time I paid more attention to her.
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New Years Day, afternoon [10 Oct 2003|05:41pm]

[ mood | hopeful ]

I have arrived in this fair city to forget my past... to remember no more the cold, sweaty hands of a husband I never loved; to let the dark clouds of memory float away and leave the clear horizon of the future shining before me. I am young, still... and though I have no illusions that I will ever find the romance of storybooks, I know that I can make a good life here on what is left of my husband's fortune.

I shall not go back to the house of my father, will not make myself wear widow’s reeds for a man I do not mourn. Instead, I set up my new shop, arranging carefully the fine crafted items of gold and tin that were my husband's trade. As an afterthought, I slip in to the display some of the dresses that I have crafted. My seams are tight and careful, and my designs have always been praised by other ladies... so why not? When the trade goods are gone, I will need something else to sell-- my departed husband's contacts will doubtlessly not trade with a 'mere woman'.

With a certain sense of pride I hang the banner that I have crafted. "Faustina's Finery", it proclaims. Now... if only I can attract some customers, all will be well.

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[10 Oct 2003|09:34pm]

new years ball

he has taken me out onto the balcony. the weight of my dress is dragging me down; i feel i will sink to the floor in a heap of brocade and pearl.

my arm is tucked into his. i wonder if my father saw me leave; i wonder if one of his men will appear and usher me away.

it is january now -- i can hear the revelry inside. i am quite breathless. i look up at the sky, too afraid to look at him.

"happy new year, miss helene"
i can feel his eyes upon me, upon my throat and chest. i glance at him but his face has blurred. the stars have melted together. the music inside reaches a frenzied crescendo.
"i mmmust go" i stutter, panic blooming in my stomach. i cannot stay here. i run for my rooms, heedless of eloquence or etiquette. a cinderella-doll tripping up the stairs.
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[07 Oct 2003|02:45pm]

"I asked for a glass of wine! Why do you serve me nothing but water?" Lord Achilles raised his voice to a servant, trying not to cause a scene but still managing to nevertheless. I smirk.

The frightened servant brings a bottle of wine to Lord Achilles, poured it into an empty goblet in front of Lord Achilles, and bravely said, "Sir, this is all I have been serving you." bowed, and took his leave before he could be attacked again.

I watch Lord Achilles eye his goblet suspiciously. I watch him raise it to his lips. I hold my breath and, walking as far away as possible, I whisper, "Vinum Achillis aqua transfixio."

I hear shouting and stiffled laughter, and I make my way outside. I do not doubt he suspects me of this trickery - either me or Hermes - and I do not wish him to accuse me publicly, which would not surprise me, so I take my leave, smiling to myself.
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