A Child's Cry

Ch-1 First Encounters††

The audience was amazed by the tales this young woman told. Her hands gestured almost wildly as she wove her tale. Her voice changing to match the parts, she held the audience captive with her masterfully chosen words.
Everyone listened, hanging on to the words she said of the tale she told. She told them of Hercules and his ten monstrous labors. The crowd so entranced by the girl's story that they forgot for the moment the slaughter raging in Pairs, not ten miles away. The owner of the pub hadn't though, and he was expecting company. The Dawn Owl was a safe haven for the Scarlet Pimpernel. He was expecting company of the League tonight. He looked at the Irish girl who was spinning her tales for her audience; she had show up three days ago and offered her storytelling skills in exchange for lodging. He had had her tell him one of her tales. She did and he had been extremely impressed. He had been cautious of her though and had gotten her involved in a conversation. He wanted to know is she was a spy for the French. She wasn't and his business had doubled on the first night alone. The first night she was there she had been met with no small amount of distaste but soon after her first story was finished many of the regulars had gone out to get their friends.† He looked up as Clarity finished her story and was rewarded for her efforts with rounds of cheers and applause.
"Another one, mademoiselle?"
"YES! Another one!"
Clarity laughed merrily.
"Give me a minute to rest m' voice gentlemen! I see that yea have some musicians among yea? Why don't yea play us some tunes while I rest m' voice,"
She spoke in her heavily accented French as gestured for the musicians to take the floor wail she moved into the crowd to relax. The wine she had been sipping during the story to keep her voice sweet had warmed a tad, but she didn't much mind.† She watched as people went out on to the floor to dance. She could see so many different stories behind each couple. Some of old love, new love, sweet love, bitter love, friendships renewed and friendships made.
She watched and debated on what to tell her listeners next. The group of causal musicians slipped into an Irish jig she knew well but with a French twist.
"May I have this dance, madame?" Clarity looked up at the gentleman obviously not French. He sported a charming almost disarming smile. Short black hair and lovely emerald green eyes, he seemed to fit in the 'Knight in shining armor' category.
"I'd be honored, mister÷"
"Bradbarry." Clarity flashed her own charming smile and after setting down her glass of wine she held out her hand to Mr. Bradbarry. He took it and led her to the dance floor. Mr. Bradbarry pulled her into an Irish jig and she couldn't help but grin. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a small group of travelers that seemed to have a nervous air around them. She decided not to pay them much mind at the moment; she was enjoying dancing with Mr. Bradbarry too much.
"Business goes well, Monsieur Gabre?" Sir Percy asked with his classic foppish smile.
"Very well. Especially since that Irish storyteller showed up," Gabre pointed her out to Percy. Clarity and her dance partner were leaving the floor and engaged in a peasant conversation. He turned back to Gabre.†
††† "Is she÷"
"She's a harmless traveling storyteller. I don't think she has much interest in the Revolution at all."
Percy nodded at the statement and turned back to his fellow bounder, Sir Andrew, and motioning to a table in a deserted corner led the way there. Things were going as planned, he had just arrived shortly after the refugees. It was slightly comforting not to have anything to worry about. Still he hadn't stayed alive as long as he had be being careless. He sat back and watched the storyteller.
Clarity was enjoying her conversation with Mr. Bradbarry, it occurred to her that she ought to ask what his first name was.
"Excuse me, Mr. Bradbarry but it seems that I've forgotten to ask fer yer first name," Clarity gave him a somewhat embarrassed smile.
"It's Brian," he told her gently with his charming smile.
"Brian Bradbarry÷ So what brings yea to France?" Clarity liked the sound of his name.†
"Oh, I'm a doctor. Thought that I ought to see if France needed my services. It really is sad how many people can't afford good health care. What about you, is this your first time on French soil?"
Clarity didn't get a chance to answer his question before the rest of the pub decided that it was time for another story. Clarity chuckled lightly and standing up to head once again for center stage, she said a few parting words to Brian, "Shall we pick this conversation up again after I've pleased m'audince?"
"Of course," Brain said as he brought her hand up and kissed her fingers in a very gentlemanlike manner. She smiled and headed to the chair near the hearth she had been using to spin her yarns. Deciding on the story of Pandora's Box, it was innocent enough that no one might be offended because she was rebuking the revolution, but held the subtle moral she wanted get across.† She sat down and brought her legs up into a comfortable cross-legged position and gave the proper introduction to her story. All was silent as Clarity spun her yarn and began to weave it masterfully into the minds of the listeners.
Brain watched Clarity; he had to admire the control over her voice she had. She manipulated her voice to fit whatever character she was portraying at the moment. She lost her accent at the appropriate time and then let it come back.† The night wore on and story followed story. Soon only a few who lived near by the pub remained. Clarity's last story ended and she declared that she was far too tired to tell another tale. The girl's audience reluctantly got up and left. Clarity really was tired, her voice sounded jagged in her ears. She drank the last of her second glass of wine in hopes that it might ease her throat. She stood up and took her glass to the bartender.
"Lovely stories, miss," he complmented her. Clarity smiled.
"I thank yea, sir."
Clarity took her leave of him and started towards the stairs. Brian came up beside her.
"Might I walk you to your room?"
"Of course."
Brian offered her his arm and she took. They started up the conversation they had started again. The pair walked up the stairs leaving the pub below. Percy watched the pair leave. They didn't seem to hold any threat. He did though catch the double meaning of that story the girl had opened with. Thinking about it, there might be more to the girl then he thought originally. It could wait until morning though.
Clarity closed the door as Brian walked off to his own room. In this small room there were no peering eyes except the owl outside her window; she allowed herself a girlish smile. One hand clutched the sliver pendent that had been hidden beneath her shirt. She quickly got ready for bed and then slipped between the sheets of the bed. She drifted of to sleep with the girlish smile still curving her lips.

Clarity groaned; the Dawn Owl's namesake was just out her window and it didn't feel like being polite. She dragged her pillow over her head.† The owl hooted again and Clarity debated whether or not to throw her pillow at it. Deciding against it, however satisfying it may be, she dragged her weary body out of bed. She had been planning on traveling west to Germany any ways. Getting a head start on the journey wouldn't hurt.
She changed from the oversized shirt she slept in and into her normal brown pants, white shirt, and ridding boots. She got her brush out of her saddlebag and brushed her red hair. She looked at her reflection in the small mirror above the washing basin.†
I wonder what Mother would think of me now.
Clarity smiled fondly at the memory of Lady Elizabeth and her mother trying to convince her not to take up fencing. The memories of her mother brought up another more painful one. She could still remember clearly her mother laying on her deathbed.
Clarity clenched her jaw and wouldn't let the tears come, but the scene still played out before her eyes. She closed her eyes tightly refusing to let the sorrowful memories cloud her mind. She stood there for a time making sure that her emotions were under control.†††
††††††††† Clarity jerked her self back to the present. She wiped tears away that she hadn't realized had fallen. She splashed her face with the cold water from the washing basin; any sign of tears fell away with the water. She looked at herself in the mirror: her red hair laid on her shoulders in soft strands, brandy brown eyes that still held the dull glare of tears. Her fingers played with the sliver pendant that had been lying on her shirt.
She sighed and turned to order her few belongings and after she was done she went down stairs to have breakfast before she left. Downstairs she saw Brian sitting at one of the tables on the far end of the room. He saw her and smiled. She forgot about breakfast for a moment; detouring the bar, she headed to where Brian was sitting. "You slept well last night, I trust?" he asked her causally.
"How 'bout yerself?" she returned and answered his question with a nod. He stood up and offered her the seat across from him. She took it and thanked him. She was about to say something but stopped as she heard several horses' hooves thundering up to the inn. Clarity got up absently and went to the door to see what the commotion was. Brian followed her. Outside she watched as three men rode up furiously; a short distance behind them was a full-fledged legion. Two wore guard uniforms of the republic, the third wore all black. Mounted on his tri-cornered hat was a small round tri-colored banner signaling he was a supporter of the revolution.
"Have you seen any travelers come this way?" The man in black asked, eyeing them suspiciously. Clarity felt her heart skip a beat. Was it possible that someone may have denounced her for the stories she had told? France was uncertain ground and traveling in it was taking your life into your hands, most likely.
"I've seen many travelers in the last few days, mister÷" she hadn't answered the question.
"I am Citoyen Chauvelin. Would you please answer the question?" he said shortly. Clarity gave him a measuring look.
"I canna that any of those I've seen would be suspicious, Citoyen."
The lie came with surprisingly ease to Clarity. The last few years of travel and storytelling had thrown her more times where she had to lie then she liked.
Chauvelin watched her like a hawk for a moment, waiting for her to falter. She didn't.
He then turned his attention to Brian who was towering behind the storyteller. "And you, monsieur?" he asked, the tension in his voice cutting through the air like a sword.†††
"I have also seen no one that would be suspicious, Citoyen." Brian stated calmly. Chauvelin eyed both of them with a healthy amount of caution.
†† "I assume you both have papers," the agent stated holding out his hand expectantly. Clarity bit her tongue to keep from saying something tart and reached into her pocket to grasp the neatly folded papers that ensured some measure of safety. Her early travels in France had taught her to always keep her identification papers within arms reach. She glanced at Brian as she unfolded her papers, hoping he had learned the same lesson. He had and was a bit ahead of her, handing his papers to the French agent. Clarity did like wise and stepped back to survey Chauvelin. She had heard some fairly strange rumors about the man, which were only beaten by rumors of the Pimpernel which REALLY got strange. She kept a smile off her face and waited to regain her papers. Chauvelin looked between the papers and the two travelers; finally satisfied that they weren't a threat for the moment he gave them back their papers. With one last look at the pub and the travelers he motioned to the guards and rode off. Clarity waited until they were clearly out of earshot and let loose a relieved sigh. Turning back to the pub she walked over to Monsieur Gabre and then went up to her room to get her things.
Carrying her saddle and saddlebag she went out to the stables to saddle her mare. Once done she lead the mare out, not paying to much attention to what was in front of her, and thus promptly bumping into Brian.
Clarity let a somewhat colorful curse out and then tried to fight the blush that was coloring her cheeks. Brian watched with a grin as he mounted his bay. Clarity also mounted her horse, feeling very much as though there was no blood below her neck.
†††† "So, where would you be headed?" he asked her, trying to relieve some of her embarrassment.
††††† "Germany most likely," she said as her mare started moving forward. Brian blinked.
††††† "Most likely?" he asked her retreating back.
†††††† "I've been known to change my mind at the last minute," she called back over her shoulder. Brian blinked again and then grinned. With a motion of his reins he caught up with the Irishwoman and continued the conversation. †

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