Mansemat Cthonique stood at the solitary tree that lay in the distance. He wasn't sure what sort of tree it was, really. Possibly an oak. Or perhaps... an ash. He'd have to ask Viv. She was good with trees. For him--well, he knew the general fact that some had needles and others had leaves, but the specifics were he had to acknowledge, rather beyond him. But Viv would know. Or Nissy...
He winced. He'd forgotten for a moment there. But then it was hard. For his entire life, Nisrioch had been this familiar presence, always there, or at least, within range. And now... gone.
Because Mansemat had sent him away. Because he had to. Because years and years of plots and plans, and promises that it was all for the greater glory had at last gotten too cloying, too ridiculous to keep up with, no matter how much he loved his brother. Because you could never know what those strange Demon's eyes saw, could you? Could never be sure where you measured up in them...
That tree bothered him. It bothered him on a fundamental level. And he didn't know why. It just gave him a fundamental sense of dread.
He thought he heard a flutter of wings near him. He was about to turn to face it, when he heard a voice. "Ahem... Give me just a second..." muttered Jean. "There!" Mansemat turned to see his sister-in-law standing there. "You know I'm so glad I figured out how to apport clothes. Makes shape-shifting so much easier."
"I'm glad to see things are working out so well for you after our latest ordeal," replied Manesmat.
Jean stared at him suspiciously. "Is that sarcastic?"
"No," said Mansemat, shaking his head. "Why would you think that?"
"Ehh, maybe it's just all this diplomacy, and other stuff..." muttered Jean. "I'm starting to distrust everybody, and... you know, we just aren't getting the time to hang out like we used to. Justinian's out near Joyeuse, handling those damn talks with the damn Easter King, we're here in the Folly looking for the damn Necklace, Nissy is..."
Mansemat coughed and pointed to the tree. "What is that?"
Jean arched an eyebrow. "A tree."
"Yes, but what kind?" asked Mansemat.
"Well, I'm not a big tree girl--Viv would be better--but I'd say that's... a birch," said Jean.
Mansemat blinked and stared at it for a long moment. "Really?"
"Yep," said Jean. "See the whitish bark?"
Mansemat nodded. "Ahh. Well, thank you. That was bothering me, you see."