Taking a break from weasels today to kinda-sort visit my previous idea of “Two Characters To Bluff Their Way Into The Bad Guy’s Base.”
Seen, for example, here with Lucia and Alda:
Now, since Kat & Dunstana have yet to cross paths with the Three Ladies of Middlesbrooke, this one isn’t really “canon” (not that I’ve really even been a stickler for that at any point in writing Realmgard up to now…), it’s really just an exercise in having characters play off each other.
Incidentally, I’ve been told I do this kind of dialogue well, and it’s happened often enough that it’s probably true…
“Right,” Kat says, going over the situation with Apolline. “Lena has the key to unlock Blackboots’ journal. And we know that the actual journal is inside Sigismund von Bücherhaus’ private library. Which means we have to figure out to get in there, get the journal and get out.”
The Aurorean sorceress nods thoughtfully. “This sounds like that time Alda and Lucia had to bluff their way into a mercenary guildhall.”
“Yeah?” Kat asks. “How’d they manage that?”
“They pretended to be a circus act,” Apolline answers. “Something about putting on a show riding unicycles and juggling waterlemons on fire for the captain’s birthday.”
“I’m pretending to be something so —” Kat falters and she stares at Apolline. “On fire? Wait. The waterlemons? Or them?”
“Okay,” Kat continues once she regains her composure. “We’re definitely not doing that. But I think I can manage to bluff us inside. Right. Let’s go.”
In the brief walk to the gate of Sigismund von Bücherhaus’ large house, they decide that Apolline will pretend to be a Gallicantien-speaking foreign noblewoman — not exactly a stretch given that she actually is a noblewoman and that she speaks Gallicantien fluently thanks to it being one of Aurora’s Two Official Languages.
“Bonjour,” Apollline says in Gallicantien as they approach. “Pardonnez nous. C’est une ruse élaborée pour infiltrer votre bibliothèque.”
“Is Meister von Bücherhaus expecting you?” the guardswoman says, interposing herself between the gate and Kat and Apolline.
Kat dramatically throws her hands up in exasperation and heaves an overwrought sigh.
“Is he expecting us?” she repeats indignantly. “Lady, do you have any idea who this is?”
She frantically gestures towards Apolline.
“No?” the guardswoman answers.
“This,” Kat says, wishing she thought this far ahead. “This. Is the, uh, Marchioness de Martburton… Burton, uh, burton.”
Kat pauses for a moment to judge the guardswoman reaction. She seems more confused than anything.
“Yeah,” Kat continues. “And I’ll have you know that Mr. von Bücherhaus is expecting us, thank you very much. So, you’d better step aside and let us in, or you’re about to get Martburton-Burton’d… burton.”
“Wait,” the guardswoman says. “The Marchioness de Martburton-Burtonburton? The famous art historian?”
“…Yeah” Kat murmurs. “So, let us in, please?”
“Oh, Marchioness!” the guardswoman exclaims, surging forward to shake Apolline’s hand. “I’m your biggest fan! I loved your monogram about The Constancy of Styracosaurus.
Kat clears her throat. “The Marchioness is a very busy woman,” she notes.
“Right,” the guardswoman says. She points to Apolline. “She’s the Marchioness de Martburton-Burtonburton, the famous art historian.”
She points to Kat.
“What does that make you?”
“Oh. I would happen to be, uh, the Marchioness de Martburton-Burton…burton,” Kat stammers, “…’s manservant.”
“Manservant?” the guardswoman asks. “But you’re a woman!”
“Don’t you start,” Kat says, once again feigning indignation. “Do you even know how hard it is for a woman to make it as a manservant? But you know how many times a idea I have to put up with people saying —”
She adopts an exaggerated whiny tone.
“— Manservant, but you’re a woman! I did not finish at the top of my class to put up with this.”
“The top of your class?” the guardswoman asks.
“Yeah,” Kat answers. “You know, at, Manserving School. It’s in, uh, Pelayo…”
I actually think this one would be funnier if it were longer, but I’m trying not to go grossly over my 500-word goal for these scenes.
Honestly, I could probably get an entire story out of Kat and Apolline trying to pull off this con. Though that, of course, would require contriving a way for Kat & Dunstana to cross paths with the Three Ladies of Middlesbrooke.
Also, reminder to catch up on the latest chapter:
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