A Troubled Meeting

Runealy and Cecelia stumble upon each other after school. It doesn't go very well.

Date: 2019-06-25
Pose Count: 28
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 00:15:03 105735
It's a school day like any other, or rather the end of one. Those that have clubs to attend head to them while most of the others make their way home. Cecelia lies somewhere in between- she wants to join a specific club but they aren't meeting today and so she's filling out some paperwork outside near the entryway, enjoying the relative openness of the school grounds compared to the extremely packed and densely populated streets and sidewalks of the rest of the city.

There's some small irony that she'll be attending a school shaped like a castle, she thinks, given her humble origins. While she sits and fills out the sheet of paper, having a bit of trouble due to being completely unfamiliar with paperwork of any kind, she sings to herself without a care that people might overhear her. It's not a song the Choir she's filling out a form to join would sing, however. In fact it's not a song anyone in Tokyo, or even Earth would even recognize, barring a select few. It's an old Waldian tune of the bittersweet sort, with high ringing notes that tell a story of the dangers when people fail to work together to be Safe.

Cecelia sings it well if not expertly and with a distinct Lormian twist that has sprung up in a lot of folk songs and stories over the last hundred or so years, but the tune itself is recognizable to a Waldian.
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 00:22:44 105736
Rune has yet to join any post-school clubs, instead favoring visiting any given one at random on some days... and on others she simply heads home. It may not be fashionable, it may be seen as a bit weird and non-conformist, but it's how she does things.

This leaves her pacing the school yard and heading toward the entryway with a reasonably good mood on her face...

...which fades, replaced by confusion and curiosity, as she hears something very out of place. Rune does not recognize the exact song, not with the changes made... but enough aspects of its vocabulary and lyrical structure stand out that it definitely has her attention.

She doesn't do a great job of hiding her surprise, instead standing several feet away from Cecelia and outright watching her. Rune isn't showing any hostility, but she is blatantly puzzled by this. No words, merely staring at the singer.
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 00:34:39 105737
Cecelia is about halfway through the form when she feels that nagging feeling you get when someone is looking at you. The song has a brief pause before resuming, something that might come up as a mistake for any amateur singer. She shakes the feeling after looking up from her clipboard and writes a little more, but the feeling doesn't go away.

The song fades and dies mid note and now Cecelia lifts her head and looks all the way around herself, only to blink in a bit of shock when she finds herself looking straight at the de facto ruler (and supposedly recent savior) of the world she's from.

Most Waldians would probably be elated or happy to meet their Princess, but as the surprise has time to marinate Cecelia's expression changes to something less abundantly enthusiastic. "Oh. Hello, Princess."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 00:42:12 105738
Savior with a lot of help; Rune would have certainly failed in her efforts had she continued with trying to save her world alone.

She starts to speak up when Cecelia notices her. "Forgi-- ...wait." Rune blinks several times, confusion growing. "You... addressed me by title, not name. Very few people here do that, except to tease me about when I introduced myself as such a few years ago. Nobody here truly believed me, of course. I've never met you before, so I..."

A moment's pause, then: "I must ask. Why do you refer to me that way?"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 00:54:18 105741
Cecelia's eyes slightly widen for a moment after Runealy speaks before returning to normal. "Isn't it polite to address someone by their proper title before you've been introduced to them?" She sets her clipboard down on the bench beside herself, standing to face Runealy. "Would you have been any less surprised if I'd known your name, having never met," she further inquires.

A small, formal bow by way of introduction, "Cecelia Stovjord." A small pause before she remembers to add, "Grade 9."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 00:59:38 105742
"Around here, I am known almost exclusively by my name; only friends know me by noble title," Rune explains. Then Cecelia makes an introduction, and the princess' eyes flick wide with a quick gasp following!

There are only two likely explanations for a name like Cecelia's. One is that she's from some other part of Earth, yet somehow knows Rune as 'princess' already. Possible, but this requires so many convenient coincidences that it's the lesser of two options.

"Cecelia... it's a pleasure to meet you. If I were to guess that I need not offer my name because you already know me, by reputation if nothing else, would I be correct? The way you were singing just now means I can't readily come up with a better explanation." These remarks are made in a soft tone, inquiring rather than threatening.
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 01:08:56 105744
""That's right, I'm not from around here. I'm sure you must have realized if you heard my song; I'm from Waldia, like you," Cecelia confirms, nodding earlier when it's noted Rune has no reason to state her own name.

"I wasn't expecting to meet you, especially not so soon." The blonde turns enough so she can gesture to her clipboard, "I've only recently started going to school here. Settling in here has been something of a challenge, everything is so different."

All well and true but also handily stepping around all the most obvious questions.
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 01:12:11 105745
"What do you mean by not expecting to see me this early? To date, the vast majority of people who have crossed the portal have been here either at my request, or were seeking me on their own initiative." Rune gives only a passing glance to the clipboard; it doesn't interest her nearly as much as Cecelia does.

"To put it another way, why did you come to Earth? It's generally forbidden, and if you've seen this city for even an hour you can probably imagine why." Her tone remains relatively calm, omitting any hostility.
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 01:16:46 105746
"I knew it was possible I'd see you eventually, but once the I saw how..." a moment to struggle for words, "impossibly large this city was, I thought the chances rather remote."

When asked why she's here Cecelia becomes visibly upset, crossing her arms and looking away from Runealy. "To make a new life for myself. To get away from Waldia and everything in it. I couldn't stand it there anymore. This is the only option I had."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 01:20:56 105747
"It is enormous. I suspect the population of Tokyo on its own would be a significant percentage of our entire world's populace, so... when you say it like that, I think I understand."

Then Cecelia's response changes the tone of this conversation entirely, in an instant. "What?!" The princess recoils a step away from her, eyes wide with shock. Still no anger, but Rune is far less calm. "Why? We all strive to make life better for one another; the royal family for all people, and everyone's friends and family toward each other. What could have gone so wrong that you would abandon all of it?"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 01:32:05 105750
The surprise from Runealy creates similar genuine surprise in Cecelia, who blinks a few times as the Princess speaks. "Of course that's what everybody says, but it's hardly true everywhere. I'm from Stovjord in Lormia province. My family are farmers and my parents had to half starve themselves to make sure I had enough to eat." She tries to keep it out of her voice, but even tangentally referencing her parents like this makes her visibly angry.

Her arms uncross and she looks at Runealy in the eyes, "People are all supposed to keep each other safe, but when there isn't enough to go around they think for their own families first. The royal family," she actually scoffs, "is supposed to keep everyone protected from demons. But they didn't. Did you know some people in Lormia actually prefer demons to the royal family? That's who I needed protected from. That's why I'm here now."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 01:39:24 105751
Rune's back arches, coiling away in shock from what she's hearing. "You're from where? And what you're describing sounds like an absolutely unprecedented food shortage in either of our lifetimes... we have had some poor harvests, yes, but planning ahead and being very careful in our responses to the situation prevented it from becoming that dire. I'm not making light of your situation, but..."

"...Everything you've just described sounds exceptional. Awful, yet unusual. Demon assaults are not so common that people would side with them, nor is a lack of food. If these are failures of individuals, of rare circumstances... won't you tell me of them, so we can find a solution?" Rune speaks with tiny gasps after several of her words, stinging from the rebuke she has just received.
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 01:49:03 105752
"Stovjord, like my name. In Lormia province." Cecelia repeats, not knowing what to make of the obvious shock she's seeing in the Princess. On the one hand it's good to be taken seriously. On the other... how could she not know what was happening in the world she openly admitted she was supposed to keep safe?

"I know my family was worse off than most, but I think poor harvests and management are more common than you think." She shakes her head, sending small waves through her long hair, "I can't tell you very much more. I'm just one girl who grew up on a farm that could only grow so much food no matter how hard we worked. I thought things were okay, but all of a sudden it was obvious they were very not okay. I don't know how to fix it, except to say that you should probably be in Waldia taking a good look at the nation you're supposed to rule over instead of here."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 01:55:22 105754
"I'm having trouble making sense of this." Rune isn't moving much now, gaze staring hard at Cecelia. "You're describing things I've simply not seen. When someone falls upon the difficulties you've faced, we have initiatives in place to help them. I won't pretend they work every single time, but in the vast majority of cases it does help them set their lives back in order."

Her hands toss forward, palms up, as she tries to explain: "I could go back, but my father has things well in hand. He's tending to the day to day governance, so that my Knights and I may face threats here before they cross over to our world! The Barrier was restored, and demon attacks remain a rarity. At least... to my best knowledge, they're very infrequent. I've little direct control over harvests, in any event. What good could I do that my father cannot?"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 02:06:03 105756
"Wow. You really don't know what it's like there, do you? I guess that's why we never bothered celebrating your birthday." Cecelia sighs a little, speaking in something of a quieter voice, "I only went to bigger towns a few times, but even there people were struggling. I don't think they were going hungry, but everybody thought that something more should be done to help, but it wasn't."

As Rune talks about her father governing things well she looks perplexed, "Then ask him about it, if you don't believe me." Then at the mention of demon attacks she snaps a little, "They don't have to attack people in league with them! That's-" she stops suddenly, realizing she probably said more than her own 'benefactor' would probably want known. Her arms cross again, gaze averted.
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 02:24:34 105757
Talk of being anywhere from ignored to outright disliked - or perhaps worse - by a segment of populace Rune is only vaguely aware exists nonetheless stings, and Cecelia's remarks are met with a wince. "I'm not even sure where to begin with the problems you're speaking of... I've heard nothing of the sort. However..."

Then Cecelia reveals something that the princess suspects is impossible. Rune asks in an incredulous voice: "What do you mean by people siding with them?! I'm willing to believe most of what else you've said and I wish to help if I can, but allying with demons... I cannot believe an entire region does that!"

To her credit, despite her ignorance... Rune is at least mostly right. Even in an area as poor off as this unknown-to-her province, the average person does not associate with demons.
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 02:29:51 105758
"I didn't say the entire region did, did I? I don't know how many do. I only know of a few did and that was more than enough reason for me to never want to be anywhere near it ever again." Cecelia is still somewhat upset but that anger doesn't seem to be directed towards Rune herself.

"Like I said, talk to your father, or whoever is ruling things there if you don't believe me. As for me..." She looks towards Runealy with a serious expression on her face. "I'm not going back. I won't go back; you can't make me, so don't try." She isn't sure what Runealy might be thinking of doing about her personally, but she wants to make that abundantly clear.
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 02:36:49 105759
"I... listen. Everything you're saying is astonishing, and some of it I simply cannot understand. However, I'll say this much... we actually agree on one thing." Rune's gaze lowers, facing the schoolyard ground more than Cecelia.

"Specifically, I don't want you returning home either at this time. You have already seen Earth's seemingly impossible technology, and will no doubt see more soon. I would much rather you not bring any of it with you back to our world; as a people, as a society, we're simply not ready for cell phones and doors that open for you because they know you just approached them."
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 02:43:57 105760
Cecelia looks relieved when Rune says she doesn't want her returning to Waldia, relaxing her stance somewhat. What Rune says afterward gets a large looks of incredulity, however. "Wait, stop. Is that what you're worried about? Don't tell me you really care more about people back home hearing about horseless chariots and glass castles than you do about your own people's hard lives and demons. I think the demons are a bigger threat to 'our' world!"

She shakes her head and makes to sit back down, "By the barrier, if that's how it is I'm even more glad I'm here."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 02:48:36 105761
"It's one thing I'm worried about!" Rune loses patience, turning flustered. Still not hostile, but definitely no longer calm. "I fight demons when and where they appear, but I cannot be on both worlds simultaneously even if it's starting to sound as though I'm expected to be!"

Her posture has a slight forward lean to it, frustration having taken full hold. "You've described some real problems, but they're ones I would be no better at solving than my father would be. Meanwhile, there are forces from other worlds here that are focused on conquering Earth... and given we have a direct connection to Earth, we would be their next target!"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 02:58:52 105762
"Then you'll be pleased to know you can cross it off your list, because going back is the last thing on my mind. I've eaten better and slept more comfortably here than I ever did in all my time back home, but thanks for your concern." It's something of a childish, pithy retort but Cecelia's nerves are considerably more frayed than she's let on.

When she mentions her father solving problems she gives Runealy a weary look but says nothing. The king would likely be cut to ribbons seriously investigating demon cultists, she thinks. Mentioning that might be a warning Thravimax would not want given.

"Suit yourself. It doesn't matter to me, not anymore. All I want is to try to and find a new way to live where I can be happy and keep from being lied to when people tell me they care about me."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 03:03:45 105763
"Even with the difference in technology, the contrast in quality of life shouldn't be that great..." Rune shakes her head a few times, struggling to make eye contact right now.

It's only after Cecelia states her intent for a new life that Rune forces herself to face this newcomer. "Part of me wants to bring you to our home here in Tokyo and find out more, to at least start to figure this out and make things better for you, but I have no idea if it would be accepted. Or..." Rune manages to calm down some, asking in a lighter tone: "Would it be seen as another lie?"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 03:12:55 105764
"It's hard to want to go with you when it's clear you have a hard time even believing me, especially to a place that I'm sure also houses your Guardian Knights and the new Princess. Sorry, I don't trust you enough for that. And... I'm not ready to tell you any more than I already have." Cecelia looks towards Rune even if she doesn't look back, "You should at least understand why I wouldn't want to give more details when you already don't believe half of what I've told you. It might all sound crazy to you, but it was my life."
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 03:15:32 105765
"Trust? I don't understand... what is there to mistrust? None of them would have any reason to harm you." Rune stares at Cecelia with wide, baffled eyes. "Regardless of how any of us might feel about what you've just said, I'm just not seeing why we would do anything that requires trust."
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 03:23:13 105767
"If you're so concerned with the Waldian public finding out about the wonders of this world maybe you wouldn't trust me to stay away. Maybe it'd be better for you if I just disappeared, or stayed locked in a little room where you could be sure I'd never go back. I don't know what you're thinking or capable of. I've only heard stories, and none of those have been very flattering," Cecelia remarks.

"Besides," now it's her turn to look away again, eyes cast towards the ground, "did you think not being believed wouldn't hurt me? How would you have felt if people didn't believe you? 'A demon, in the castle? That's impossible!' 'Demon attacks hardly ever happen!'"
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 03:28:04 105768
"They know Earth has technology different from ours... I've simply never provided the details. Even knowing the basics might influence them. Beyond that?" Rune goes tense. "I've never heard of us placing anyone in the dungeon just for unusual claims, and it's certainly nothing we do here in Tokyo either. But you... something you said just now has struck a very real nerve."

Tension starts to be joined by anger. "So I am not going to find a small room to lock you in to, but I am going to insist we part company here and now. Perhaps we can speak again later when I'm not holding back tears, because you either have no idea what you just said... or you have all too good an idea and said it with intent. Either way, this conversation is at its end!"
Cecelia Stovjord 2019-06-26 03:46:49 105770
"There's a lot of awful things I hadn't heard of that ended up being true anyway. I'm sorry if the implication upsets you, but I'm not going to take any chances with that." Cecelia returns her gaze to Runealy when the anger comes, accepting the full force of what she'd provoked, "Yes, that's right. It was a stupid thing to say, wasn't it? Because it isn't the same at all. There's no chance you wouldn't be believed, you're the Princess."

She picks up her clipboard and looks over the form, no longer in any kind of mood to be singing and feeling too grumpy to even start filling it out just yet.
Runealy Waldia 2019-06-26 03:51:43 105771
"Being believed is the least of my concerns right now." Rune comments in a sharp voice, eyes narrowed as she begins to walk past Cecelia, past the school gates. If not prevented from departing, Rune walks with heavy footsteps and elevated, harsher breathing.

Believability and plausible claims aren't the thing weighing strongest on her mind right now. Instead, her thoughts are fixed on the one single time she's aware of that a demon attack did happen in the castle.

After all: It was only a few years ago, and had only one victim.