14450/Back to the Big Apple in 2030.

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Back to the Big Apple in 2030.
Date of Scene: 20 June 2022
Location: Fontainebleu Antiques, Yonkers
Synopsis: Willow seeks Henri to return a precious object and discuss the recent - and way less recent - events.
Cast of Characters: Hellequin, Willow Rosenberg

Hellequin has posed:
For some reason, Henri de Fontainebleau has been rather absent in New York City. The antiquarian must have been busy with buying or negotiating to renew his store's inventory. The Big Apple, surprisingly, revealed itself to be a good market for choice artefacts from Medieval times.

Even if the business is doing well, the store is often void of clients. Which is the case today, just after lunchtime. As usual, medieval soft chants can be heard in the store, filling the air with a very Middle Age ambient atmosphere.

Henri de Fontainebleau is busy unpacking a few medieval weapons from a large wooden crate that looks as old as the items it contains. Falchions, rapiers and short swords are thus carefully placed on the counter.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
Willow really didn't know what she was doing here outside Henri de Fontainebleau's shop, in fact she'd wandered around the block not once, not twice, but three time before it was clear to her that /that/ was where she was meant to be.

Of course, 'here' is one thing; to do anything about it was another!

Hovering outside his shop, she tried to think of a good excuse for being here - after all, she wasn't on the best of terms with him! But what?

Hellequin has posed:
Even by daytime, when his heart is beating, the hunter turned antiquarian can feel the presence of magic and magic users. Like he often says, to him, it's like detecting a skunk: he doesn't need to see it to know it's around.

The task of unpacking is left unfinished as Henri slowly turns his head toward the door to his store, a frown on his face. Yes, it smells just like a skunk to him. And very close too. A few long strides are all it takes for the tall man to close the distance to the front of the store and to reach the door. On the other side of the reinforced glass door is - not really a skunk - but a witch nonetheless, one he already knows. They even went to eat together at some point!

The frown remains on his fine face as he pushed the door open.

"Come in," comes his relatively inviting low voice. And on that, he steps back and returns to his crate. "Put the Closed sign on the door." Indeed, it might be award for visitors to drop by now.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:

Not the best way to say hello! Not by a long shot. Still? It was out there. The last time she had talked with him - really talked with him - was in the expensive restaurant, Georgian Creeds. As a matter of fact, didn't she get a present from him?! She'd nearly forgotten that, and it brought a smile to her lips for just a moment.

Entering into the shop, and turning the window sign to closed, Willow asks him "So, you know why I am here?"

Hellequin has posed:
Turning to face her, and leaning against the counter, Henri takes the time to observe her. Oh, not in a leering way, God forbid. But rather like a hunter observing a prey. Old habits die hard!

"In veritas, non," the antiquarian says, "There might be many reasons. Let me think here." And on that, he takes one of the falchions in his large hand, testing its weight and balance before placing it back on the counter.

"Still, no, I have no idea. You want me to kill one of your rivals? Or, maybe, you saw the Light and want to repent all your sins." Yes, there's a faint smile on his lips, is he actually trying to make a joke? "Then the church would be a better place to go."

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
Willow doesn't quite make it to joking. "That would be bad of me? People could be angry for lots of reasons, that doesn't make them evil! And if you think I'm evil, it would be even more questionable to hunt up someone just on my word?"

She does manage to giggle about the Church, though. "My parents are Jewish. We don't have a confessional in synagogues. When we feel that we have wronged another, we apologise to them. And.." She might as well go all the way.. "I'm pagan by religion. Wiccan as a matter of fact. We live by the three fold rule - whatsoever you give unto the world, so shall you bring back three fold onto you. Which is a fancy way of saying, do good things, not bad, or else."

She chews her lip thoughtfully. "So.. you didn't wake up feeling funny?" Good job, willow. He doesn't sleep!

Hellequin has posed:
The Frenchman rolls his eyes, not even trying to pretend not to. This woman often has good philosophical questions for him, which often leave him speechless. He's no philosopher!

"Bah! Good and evil, it's easy to distinguish. I was merely trying to be entertaining, not to engage in a rhetorical discussion."

And on that, he walks away! Yes, not far, just to the back store. From behind the small door leading there, his voice booms, "Coffee?"

Without waiting for her to reply, Henri soon returns with two cups and croissants on a tray that he places on the counter. Fresh croissants directly from the French bakery at the corner.

"As you know," the antiquarian explains, "I do /not/ sleep. Last time I did was, hrm. I have never been good at calculus, but I would estimate to at about 810 years ago." And as if the memories of this last night were brought fresh to his mind, he tilts his head, the frown returning on his face as he considers Willow. "But I do remember my last, hrm, day. Why do you ask?" If he knows what she's talking about, he's not saying so.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
"Sorry, I forgot. Please forgive me."

When he disappears for their coffee, Willow looks around, talking. "I don't mean to ask you rhetorical questions. Just sometimes they slip out. And, of course, sometimes they're really for me."

Coming around to the desk where he sold things from, she answers him, "Coffee please. With cream - if you have it." Then, "Just.. I was curious." She knows that the coin was in her satchel. Curious is a mild word.

Hellequin has posed:
As he likes to do, Henri first quotes the Bible, relatively to curiosity. "Be not curious in unnecessary matters: for more things are shrewd unto thee than men understand."

That said, the antiquarian nods at Willow, before retreating to the back store again from where he can be heard, "Creme. Madame desire de la creme." There's the sound of a refrigerator opening and closing, then Henri returns to the front with a cream pitcher. "There."

Before Willow can add the cream to her coffee, Henri has already eaten one of the four croissants. Because, frankly, when you are such a large man as he is, always hungry and unable to gain weight, why not enjoy it to its fullest?

"And curious about what exactly, pray tell?" Leaving the remaining croissants for her, the antiquarian moves to lean against the other counter, facing his visitor. Maybe not the darkest of witches he has met - actually, she's quite mild when it comes to darkness - but Willow still reeks of magic. Working at the Magic Box sure doesn't help with the magic fragrance.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
"Well.. you see.." Willow bobs her head in thanks for the cream. And of course she has to snag a croissant! Chewing on the edges, picking at the crispy bits first, "I found something I think belongs to you."

Hellequin has posed:
Henri stops eating his second croissant, curiosity and maybe surprise visible on his face.

"I can't recall having lost anything," the Frenchman replies. And if he did, how could she know it was his?

And then, his eyes narrowed, fixated on Willow. Of course, he lost something, the only piece or souvenir he has always kept with him over the centuries. Something more precious than any jewel found on display in his store. Could she have found it?

"And what did you find, exactly?" he finally asks her.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
"The thing is, I couldn't figure out why you had it. Can't figure it, really."

Willow put down her croissant. "You always say that you are anti magic. And yet.. You see.. I mean.." Sigh. It /was/ his regardless. Opening her satchel, she slipped the coin into her hand and passed it over the desk. "It's yours. But I know it is magical."

A pause.

"And I know who had the other one."

Hellequin has posed:
The half eaten croissant is put on the counter as Henri's eyes stare at the coin as Willow slips it over the counter. Old memories rush to his head, memories of the wonderful days but also, of the fateful ones. Back then, these memories used to bring sadness, even anger. How long can one suffer a lost love? Ten, twenty, fifty years? He had 800 years to get used to it. Still, the sight of his coin on the counter can't but stir some emotions. Which doesn't mean that they will show.

His large hand closes on the coin, retrieving it from the counter, as if the light itself could damage it.

"It is magical," Henri agrees, "The magic of love. Of a lost, impossible love." Looking straight at Willow, the man tilts his head, "I always thought I saw you before," he says, "I have met so many people, I could not remember you specifically. So, it was you, with the minstrel and the kid." Realization hits him. Yes, it was her with her companions. "And since you know so much, who has the other one?"

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
A quick nod of Willow head confirms it. "You know Nick, the minstrel. The boy you haven't met yet. He found the coin, and he brought it to me to identify it. We, activativated it by accident."

The thought of love running the magic, makes a smile fall across her face. A bittersweet smile. "No wonder you were.. are.. upset with witches. I really don't know what happened. Heloise and her mother, Jeanne, got your message, and were leaving, when we were brought back. "

Then something clicked. Why he hated magic so: Heloise must have been unsuccessful in her escape, making his coin inert. For 800 hundred years, his portion of the pair of twin magical coins was silent.

Completely.. silent.


Hellequin has posed:
"Yes, obviously, you do not know what happened," Henri concurs. The man doesn't seem too eager to tell the story.

Instead of telling it right away, he calmly finishes his croissant and takes the other cup of coffee. The coin is carefully pocketed.

"Heloise," he starts, with a hint of something when he mentions her name, "Was /not/ a witch." That is a statement, and by the sound of it, no one will be able to make him change his mind about it. "Jeanne, this wretched soul, a sorry excuse of a woman, was the witch. She's the one who created the coins for us, without telling us about their special powers." He pauses, now his face resembling the one more associated with the Hellequin.

"She's the one who escaped that day." And what happened to Heloise is left untold.

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
"I know." Taking her mug up with two hands she blows on it, thinking. "I know the grandmother was the witch. Can I explain something to you?"

How to do this?

"A witch isn't the proper term, really, for people like me. See, anyone can /call/ themselves a witch, but that's not true. Really we're magic users. Mages. Some people prefer to go by witches. Warlocks. Sorceress and sorcerer. Enchanter, and enchantress. A whole bunch of names. But really we come down to a simple subset of humans that are able to use magic. It may be passed on, or be a mutation, like mine. My parents aren't magic users."

"So, yes, I can imagine Heloise was a straight human, but, I also know her grandmother was a mage. Specifically, one that called herself a witch. Which, you can choose to believe or not, don't harm anyone. I told you about that earlier."

Hellequin has posed:
Sipping his coffee, the antiquarian listens. Yes, listening is way better than merely hearing someone. Still, there are no signs of confusion or uncertainty on his face.

"You see," Henri says calmly, with his usual deep voice, "To us, back then, there were only witches and sorcerers. Life was that simple. You walked in God's footsteps, or you did not. Those who did not, well, were not welcomed and were then dealt with."

As he speaks, Henri nonchalantly grabs a small axe from the counter, balancing it in his large hand to check it balance. "Oh, I know that not all magics are the same. It is fascinating that people, nowadays, think that there is even some /good/ magic. Fine. I can live with that. Forever if need be." That is an interesting possibility.

"But," Henri continues, "I have never," now his voice becomes a bit louder, "And will NEVER let the necromancers, sorcerers and all wretched magic users go against GOD'S WILL and harm others."

As he finished this tirade, Henri is about in Willow face. "You say her grandmother was a mage. Oh for Heaven's sake!" On that, he turns around, and throws the small axe at the wall, where it remains embedded. "She was a wretched old hag, worse than the purine of a pig with scours! She died as she deserved, and has been rotting in Hell since then."

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
"Some witches did follow God in the Catholic Church, you know." Willow speaks very quietly. "I know you can't believe it, and I guess that's you right. Do you know.. No, I guess it won't solve anything."

Willow is suddenly sad and tired.

When suddenly Henri is in her face, waving an axe around. For a minute, he looks as though he is going to kill her. All her talks were for nothing. Willow closes one eye, and squinches the other one half way. But she holds her position, regardless of whether or not he will use the axe on her.

"She did not! She was going to hide both of them, but Heloise ran out at the last minute! That's when we disappeared, or else I.. we.. would have tried to help her. For you! You don't get it. If we didn't care about you, we would have left them, and found out the way to go home. And we planned on helping! Jeanne kept Heloise safe! You didn't even notice - she had wards on her house to keep her safe! I saw them. The only reason she opened up the house was because of you!"

By that time, both eyes were wide open, and her hands were in fists at her sides.

Hellequin has posed:
After listening to Willow, the antiquarian turns around and walks to the wall, to retrieve the small axe embedded between two glass displays. As he returns to the counter, Henri places the weapon back on it top with the other medieval weapons. "Still a very good weapon," he states, patting the well worn wooden handle.

Then he turns back to face his visitor, leaning back against the counter. His face has returns to its neutral attitude. "Feisty," he says, noticing the balled fists, "And speaking of things you do not know." He pauses, inhaling deeply - yes, he does do that during daytime - and continues. "It was this old ugly sow's fault to start with. If she had not used magic in the first place, she would not have needed to use magic. She would not have had to protect Heloise from the witches hunters." He pauses, and this time, although his voice becomes booming, he doesn't move from the counter he's leaning against, "She would not have VANISHED and left Heloise alone, to be captured!"

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
Willow did something she wasn't really known for, she held her tongue in check - barely.

"I may not know the entire story, but I DO know that Heloise broke off from her grandmother to save you! Her grandmother was trying to protect her! But she ran out as the spell was cast. There was nothing that her grandmother could do, except leave her own place of safety to try and save her. But at that moment.."

She heard Jeanne say they would be gone and not gone. Telling Willow what she likely did. But given that Heloise broke out of the spell's casting radius, she was visible to the villagers when they came.

And given how Henri spoke of Jeanne, she likely tried to help Heloise, and she was caught.

Hellequin has posed:
With a sigh, Henri briefly waves his arms around, in mock defeat, "Again, rhetorical talks," he states, "Will lead nowhere. The only thing that mattered, was that by using magic in the first place, the sow attracted the wrath on her and Heloise. It is irrelevant to try to defend the sow for being at the source of her own fate."

On that, the antiquarian reaches for the last croissant, proceeding to eat it. Visibly, he isn't going to go into details on how this all ended for Heloise and Jeanne. Is it too painful for him to talk about, or too gory for Willow to hear?

"In any case," Henri states, "I am thankful to you and your companions for trying to help. You did what you could. But God's ways are mysterious, and what happened had to happen."

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
Oh! That wasn't right.

Trembling, Willow was quite quiet, yet very firm, "Is that what you call me? You've never used my name. Am I a sow too? After all my magic brought us to you, so that she could have a means of escape, a small means of escape."

"She has a name. Jeanne. Not sow. Jeanne."

Hellequin has posed:
And Willow is not the only one to struggle with their temper.

"Not at all, young Saule," Henri replies in a voice he hopes isn't too paternalizing, using the French word for /willow/. "The little you do not know, Willow, is how this witch caused her own grand-daughter to be captured, tortured and burnt at the stake."

He pauses at that, closing his eyes for a moment, "How by her own will, by her own design and actions, she made her own grand-daughter perish in the most painful, undeserved, manner." He pauses again, now frowning, his eyes narrowing, "Do you know how it feels to be BURNT alive? The pain, the gasps for air? The acrid smell of your own flesh burning? And knowing that it was your own grandmother who brought you to this miserable, torturous end? Do you know, Willow?!"

Another pauses, and Henri is back to his calmer attitude. "No, you don't, Willow. But what you do know now, is why I say she was a sow, and still is Satan's sow in Hell."

Willow Rosenberg has posed:

She knew what that was. Normally she would have blushed and thanked him for finding an even prettier version of Willow - but not this time.

"Fire? No, thank goodness, I don't. Just like, so far, I haven't died with any of the things we have fought so that normal people can sleep at night without a care. Oftentimes my friends protect me because in order to use my magic, I need time. And sometimes they are hurt because of it." Nevermind without her, they would be hurt regardless! "Not all my magic is combat oriented."

"I know how horrible it feels to lose a friend. How hurt you must have been seeing your love being ripped from your life that way. It must have been horrible to hold that much hatred for over 800 years. I am sad for you, because I bet Heloise wouldn't want you to be like this. Some day, with Jehovah's blessing you will be at peace, and then what will you say to Heloise then?"

Hellequin has posed:
Henri is visibly unmoved by Willow's outburst. Visibly. With age, you tend to get more laid back about such things as, let's say, death. Especially when you cause and experience it yourself every day and night.

"Oui, oui, yes, I get it, Willow. You use /good/ magic," he seems to force himself to say the word /good/, "To help people. I annihilate the other magic users." And by others, he means a lot of them.

"What I will tell her when I meet her in Heaven, Willow, will remain between her and myself." There, simple enough. That he had no clue of what he would tell her at this moment, or that it never occurred to him that he might also have to explain anything to her. Either way, he can't say for now.

"But please, do finish your coffee. I have more cream and croissants if you fancy more."

Willow Rosenberg has posed:
Willow shakes her head.

"I think, for both our sakes - maybe just mine - it would be simpler if I left, before I said something I shouldn't."

Pushing her half coffee, and the remains of her croissant away from herself, she turns and walks through the door, taking the time to reverse the 'Closed' sign back to 'Open'.