ArchivedLogs:A Hat to Lead Armies

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A Hat to Lead Armies
Dramatis Personae

Horus, Isra


A gift in the present.


<NYC> Harbor Commons - Courtyard - Lower East Side

This courtyard is the lush central hub of the surrounding Harbor Commons, bound in on three sides by rows of duplexes and triplexes, cutting upward at the sky with the sharp thrift of a minimalist's style, neat lines and bountiful windows, boldened with accents in wood towards the upper stories, stone towards the base, the whole of the compound sealed in by a low stoneworked wall that opens entrance gates to the streets beyond at its two far corners, smaller gates at building back doors.

The fourth side of the courtyard is open to the East River, the ground forming a slight decline, controlled on one side by micro-retaining walls to form wide steps where picnic tables sit beneath the nominative shelter of a trio of dogwood trees, accessible by ramp. The other side is allowed to slope at its natural angle, a wide open yard space, until its cut off at the river's edge, where a massive pair of oak trees stand, a staircase leading away up one of their thick trunks.

The yard itself is carpeted in an organic flow of emerald grass swirled through with wending channels of smooth-paved cement walkways, flowing naturally away from the building's front entrances, where some are arced by trellis, some flanked by hosta plants, fern and lilies, a few laid in gentle switch-backing ramps for wheelchair access, before forking off at matching angles to sites of small garden installments. Bird feeders and baths suspended from the necks of small lamp posts, a rock-lined koi pond, a sleek gazebo tucked to one side in simplistic varnished wood, its southern side overgrown with a mass of thriving grapevine and a caged-in barbecue pit under its sheltering roof. A play area and proper garden are within sight off another branch, until finally all paths spiral in like wheel spokes to a shared common house at the center of all traffic flow.

Though the sky is gray and low, the Commons do not lack for color and illumination. Strings of lights and garlands coil along every eave, every railing, and every bench. A colossal red cedar stands at the center of the courtyard, countless lights nestled in its branches. The tips of its scale-like leaves are frosted with an iridescent sheen, though the temperature is well above freezing. The walkways, too, show glittering not-frost in the patterns of snowflakes.

Sitting on a bench amidst the decorations, Isra looks rather festive herself. She wears an elaborate wrap dress of glossy sapphire blue, trimmed with a knotwork border of black and gold. A matching hooded cape covers her slouched shoulders and folded wings. Her skin is a darker shade of blue, offset with purple and silver highlights. A box sits in her lap, impeccably wrapped in silver paper and bound with a royal purple ribbon. For all that, no holiday cheer is evident in either her expression of carriage. A NASA thermos sits on the arm of the bench, and a laptop open beside her, its screen gone dark with neglect.

/Swoosh/-flap. The rustle of wings overhead is considerably louder than most city-birds might make, a fluttering that stirs up a gust of wind down on the ground below as Horus wings his way down from the Commonhaus rooftop towards his own balcony. He circles, though, redirecting to land -- not on the bench but on /Isra/, talons curling around one of her backswept horns and his wings folding neatly in as if this is a Totally Normal perch. He even begins to preen himself, there, quietly nonchalant. Hmm hmm hmm.

Isra glances up briefly when Horus first passes overhead, but then looks down at the box again. Her tail swishes behind her where it passes between the back of the bench and its seat. When Horus comes to rest on her horn, her surprise only registers in the slight unfurling of her wings. They fold back under the cape again, and she braces her neck to compensate for the lopsided load of one gigantic bird. "Good day, Horus." She straightens the box on her lap, long silver talons plucking at the ribbon where it did not lie quite flat. "I have a gift for you--though I would entirely understand if you should prefer to refuse it." So say, she holds up the box for his inspection. "I debated just getting something else outright, but...I leave that decision to you."

Preen, preen, preen. At first Horus seems to ignore Isra, rather intently /focused/ on the very careful grooming of his shimmering-silver wings. His talons shift, scooting him along Isra’s horn to its very tip and likely not helping /balance/ this heavy load any better, once she indicates the present in her lap. A flutter of wings takes him off her head, thankfully, and down instead to the back of the bench. One swift-darting stab of beak grips the edge of the ribbon, tugging it sharply to unravel its bow and pull it free; a small toss of head drapes the purple ribbon around his neck. The small warble that follows is distinctly pleased, though it takes a moment longer for him to get his stylus and switch his tablet on to actually speak. 'Yes yes yes wonderful excellent paean-learn-present this pulse-puerile-purple goes so well with shiny silver Horus yes yes I will keep. Thank you.'

Isra turns in her seat and cocks her head at Horus--perhaps as much to stretch her neck back out as any kind of puzzlement. "You're welcome." She hesitates, a slight frown touching her hairless brows." I am glad you like the ribbon, but I meant...the rest of the present is /in/ the box." By way of demonstration, she shakes the box lightly, causing its contents to shift with a faint rustle. "Would you like me to unwrap it for you?"

Horus tips his head, one way and then the other, eying the box with a rather intent look. Hopping down off the bench to scrutinize it from a different angle as well. Pecking lightly at the outside. 'More present? More present more present hmmm.' He taps his beak against the box once more. Contemplatively. 'Where would I put it, ran out of hands.'

"That, at least, should not be a problem." Isra sets the box back down in her lap and peels open the small pieces of tape holding the professional wrapping job together. The box beneath the wrapping paper is a good deal less shiny, brown cardboard with the word "Armoury" printed across the top in elegant, old-fashioned lettering. She opens it to reveal a fine black bowler hat with a black satin hatband, nestled in crumpled purple tissue paper. Lifting the hat out, she offers it to Horus, ears pressed back against her skull. "Merry Christmas."

Horus skitters backwards, a rapid ungainly motion that his taloned feet are not really /equipped/ for, reflexively putting some distance between himself and the Hat. His feathers ruffle up, head lowering as a very uncharacteristic /hiss/ slips out, soft and rasping before his beak clicks back together. After this, silence. He watches the hat warily. Slooooowly inching back towards it. Very slowly. Sneak. Sneak, sneak, sneak.

"I bought it a couple of weeks ago," Isra explains. "I don't believe in fate, but if it troubles you because of what happened in the dream, I can find you a different hat." Her wings shiver beneath the cape, although the day is not particularly cold, given the season. "Also, sorry I tried to eat you--back in October, that is, the future. Although I suppose I would have been sorry for that, too. In the future."

Sneaksneaksneak, sneaksneaksneak. Horus is still inching up on the Hat. Kind of scooting in a semicircle around to the side so that, abruptly, he can /attack/ it, pouncesnatch, grab it out of Isra's hands. After this, though, he is kind of stuck. Trying to flip it back up onto his head. Failing. He drops it on the ground once, picking it back up to attempt this again.

Isra watches Horus struggle with the hat, her expression a curious mixture of amusement and sadness. She picks up the hat after he fails a couple of times, settling it onto his head. "It does look very nice on you," she says. "Perhaps with a silver hat pin..."

Horus settles down, feathers slowly lowering back into place. A calmer-softer warble burbles up from him when Isra settles the hat properly, and he gives his head a few testing bobs before picking his stylus back up. 'Very Fine Hat,' he decrees. 'Very Very Fine Hat.' His head tilts to give Isra an appraising look. 'Very Fine… hat-pin?' Shift-shift-shift, he's fidgeting a little restlessly from one foot to the other. 'SOMEONE has a birthday soon. Not telling who.' But then after a pause: 'Someone with silver feathers.'

Isra produces her enormous smartphone and swipes something into it with her stylus. "/Someone/ with silver feathers, eh?" She unfurls her wings half-way, far enough to display the silver feather motif on the dark blue membranes. "Not /my/ birthday, that doesn't come until October. But I'll keep an eye out for a very fine silver hat pin and see that it finds its way to someone who has silver feathers and a birthday soon." She smiles, if a little wanly.

'Someone,' Horus affirms, warbling again at the feathers Isra displays. 'Hatpin hatpin hatpin for everyone.' And then after a moment's consideration: 'Silver feathers for everyone.' His own ruffle back up, head bobbing a little more eagerly. 'Very fine very fine very very very fine. This hat could go many paces-paces-places. Serious Hat for Serious Horus. This hat,' he decides, after another pause for thought, 'could lead armies.' He flutters back up to the back of the bench, beak touching lightly -- bonk! -- to the top of Isra's head. Then takes off, winging his way back home to his own balcony to head back inside.