Tessa goes to find Niara to see how she is, finding the door ajar she opens it only to see a flash of silver as a pair of shears cut through Niara's hair.

Tessa taps lightly upon the door left ajar. "Niara? Are you there?" at the Niara's Rooms.

Niara's Sitting Room -- 1st Floor -- Amber Castle

This chamber is spacious, but perhaps seems wider and brighter than others, courtesy of the light-colored woods and minimalist detail used in its furnishing and decoration. The darkest things here are the aromatic cedar inlays in the blonde birch floor, and the most complicated the coppery iris damask curtains. All of the seating and tables are low, the ovals of monotoned carpet lush, and the pillows littered about willy-nilly plush yet designed for abuse. Two large windows let in a view of the Summer Gardens and the not-so-far peak of Kolvir. Two doors lead out; south and east.

Now and then, a breeze wafts through, carrying upon it the refreshing scents of spring. The gloom begins to lighten as, in the stillness, the small sounds of early morning activity may be discerned.

Niara is seated on the hearth, with a basin of water in front of her, and a towel draped loosely around her neck. She pauses, mid-snip of a curl. Niara says, "Tessa."

Tessa stares, mouth falling open as she sees the scissors. "Niara..." she says softly, brow wrinkling. "What are you doing?"

Niara mumbles, and completes the snip. The ebony curl whispers to the floor. "Cutting my hair. What does it look like?"

There is a quick nod, than another puzzled look from Tessa. "But... why?"

Niara offers, "It needs it?"
Niara adds, "Could you close the door?"

Tessa's lips purse. "I suppose it's never too early for a haircut." her hand sneaks around and closes the door. "Want some assistance? I used to cut my mother's hair."

Niara offers the scissors, handles first. "Please. My foster father was in the custom of cutting mine for me."

Tessa accepts the scissors and kneels, behind and slightly to the side of you. "Did you wish layers?" she says, quirking her head, her speech light hearted as if weight did not press upon her. "They would set off your curls."

Niara dips her head forward. "Just short. Cut the curls out, if it comes to that."

Tessa's brow furrows. "Short."

Niara echoes, "Short."

Tessa frowns, but begins to cut.

Niara sits silently while the sharp scissors snip through her hair.

Tessa winces slightly, at each curl she cuts through as layer upon layer of curls are shorn.

Every now and then, Niara collects a handful of the stuff from the floor and chucks it into the fire.

Tessa frowns as the flames engulf the hair, but continues with the careful shearing. "Short, boy, short?" she finally asks, expression frozen.

Niara murmurs, "Short as a boy's, yes."

Tessa swallows, tapping the forefinger of her left hand to her lips, then opens the scissors, the sound of metal swishing againat metal bringing another frown to her face. "Like a boy's. Yes." The scissors slide through Niara's hair again.

Niara reaches up, and scruffs her hands through the crown of her hair, pulling out the snipped curls that had not fallen. Those, too, are tossed into the fire.

Tessa sighs, snipping for the last time, then the scissors lower to her lap. "I think that should do it. Have you a mirror?"

Niara says, "On the table."
Niara swipes her hands over her shorn hair.

Tessa rises, hands brushing at her skirt for any stray hairs. She seems almost, solemn as her hand slides over the mirror handle and she brings it to Niara, she hands it down, then sidles in front to look at her handiwork.

Niara's gaze reflects firelight from the mirror as she plucks at the dense mat of short black hair on her head.
Niara says, "Do you think it is short enough?"

Tessa quirks her head to the side. "Short enough for what precisely?"

Niara glances up from the mirror. She repeats the question, carefully, then adds, "Short as a boy's."

Tessa brings her finger to her lips again and taps it their in musing. Then her head cants to the side and her eyes narrow slightly. "You wish to appear as a boy?"

Niara blatantly considers other answers than yes. But she gives that one.

Tessa's shoulders slump slightly, her lower lip being caught between her teeth. There is a pause as she considers you through dark lashes, then a nod as a faint smile appears. "Well... let's see what we can do." Her inspection is liberal, causing more wrinkles to form. "You're going to need to do something with your chest. Though cut of clothes might help it."

Niara says, "I had considered a corset."
Niara gestures. "Pulled up."
Niara also frowns. "Though that will restrict my breathing."

Tessa shakes her head. "Too restricting. Too hard to breathe in if worn correctly and if worn uncorrectly it will give you mysterious bumps." She steps forward, hands set apart as if making mental measurements. "But a binding... that could be done."

Niara nods. "Without arousing ... suspicion."

Tessa nods quickly. "That will work. Have you any tight bandages? The wider the better. Something you would use to brace a broken leg or such."

"I do," Niara says, without mentioning where she might have obtained them. "And miller's paste."
Niara collects the basin, after reaching over to put the mirror back on the table, and gets up.

Tessa nods. "Good. Now..." her teeth graze her lip again as she ticks off ideas upon her fingers. "You'll need a long tunic, something that comes down your hips. We'll need to wrap stuff about your middle to so all your curves are gone. It will make you appear column like." three more fingers are ticked. "A tunic, leggings and knee-high boots. And then a light vest. That will get rid of every curve on your body."

Niara says, "That, and a little cream, and I may be almost as pale as you. Though -- eh, I shall likely stink of flour."

Tessa nods. "Stinking is not a bad idea Niara, it will guarantee no one will desire close contact with you."

The wry smile flits across Tessa's lips. "Mix a bit of ash in that paste. Dirt is a thing boys revel in."

Niara carries the basin toward her bedroom. "But not of flour. I did not wish to be mistaken for a baker's boy. Luckily, some horse sweat and spring air may cure that odor."
"And dirt," she adds.

Tessa nods. "The ash should cover the smell well. You will smell of a fire. And that is not uncommon."

Niara returns from her bedroom with an empty basin.
Niara says, "The clothing will not prove difficult."

Tessa nods. "Have you oils of any type?"

Niara says, "Which kind? Cooking? Lamp? Bathing?"

Tessa grins. "The kind you could mix with ash and use to clump and dirty your hair."

Niara shakes her head. "Though, I could cease to wash my hair, and simply mix it with ash. It does get quite oily."

A frown crosses Tessa's features. "Niara... make certain to let your hair hang in your face and hide it if you can."

Niara nods. "And mutter, yes."
Niara says, "At least until ... eh, no matter. Mutter, yes."

Tessa nods, brow furrowing. "Be careful Niara. You're going to be a rather pretty boy. Even with all the dirt."
Tessa flushes slightly. "Do I need to explain further?"

Niara whispers, "No. You do not."

Tessa nods quickly, looking relieved. "Good. Now... have you a knife?"

Niara reaches into the top of her collar, without a word, and slides out a silvery dagger. The emerald set into the top of it glitters darkly in the firelight. "Not to fear," she murmurs, then, and adds a soft phrase in a sinuous, alien tongue that makes her smile just to the edge of her white teeth.

For those of you who do speak Virgan, what she said was-- "Your brother's penis is the only one that will ever enter me."-- Good thing Tessa doesn't speak Virgan.

Tessa catches none of the Virgan but nods anyway to the sight of the knife. "Have you a plain one also? Someone might attack you for the gem on top. Best to attract no notice."

Niara nods. "Yes. And a snap-wire." She puts the dagger away. "I trust that I will obtain other things, shortly."
Niara says, "But, we shall see."

"Good. Have you a plain bag? A bottle for water?" Tessa chuckles softly. "God it's been too long since Faire, I don't remember what all I took."

Niara says, "A bag. Water and waterskin. Some bread and dried meat, enough to last me to the meeting place, at any rate."

Tessa nods. "Will you be gone long?"

Niara considers. "I am not certain. But, I shall return."

Tessa nods. "Need me to take care of anything while you are gone?"

Niara inclines her head. "If you were to check in on the Monster from time to time."

Tessa nods. "Certainly." she pauses. "Raw meat?"

"I have arranged for him to wear ..." Niara frowns, and wraps one hand over the other's fingers. "And yes, raw meat."

Tessa nods, then frowns. "For who to wear what?"

Niara sets the basin in her hands down on a divan and walks further into the room. She stops at a cushion, crouches, and picks up an edge of it, carefully.

The Monster lies on the rug, snoring softly. A little black leather bootie covers the paw that's visible.

"He does bite, still," Niara murmurs, "As you know. Perhaps I can think of something to be done about that before I go."

Tessa smiles faintly. "I don't mind if he bites. I promise I'll not hold it against him."

Niara glances up, lowering the cushion. "I would prefer it if he not bite you." Niara says, "Rather, I would prefer that."

Tessa nods. "As would I." she smiles. "I will do my best to be careful."

Niara says, "Thank you."

Tessa nods. "You're welcome."

Niara is silent for a few moments. "How long do you think..." She shakes her head. "Never mind."

Tessa steps forward slightly. "Ask." she says softly.

Niara says, "Before it is discovered that I am missing?"

Tessa frowns a moment. Then takes a deep breath. "Tell me you are feeling unwell, and you wish to lie down. You'll be down when you feel better." Her arms cross over her middle and she nods.

"I am feeling unwell," Niara says, matter-of-factly, verging on truthfully. "There is queasiness in the pit of my stomach. My hands feel ... cold. I wish to lie down. I will be done when I feel better." Niara clears her throat. "Down."

Tessa nods. "Good, anyone that asks of you will be told that you mentioned you weren't feeling well and wanted to lie down for a time. When I left you had soup and fruit but were not hungry at all and really just needed sleep."

Niara says, "True enough."

Tessa releases a sigh. "That should give you at least two days."
Tessa's lips purse. "Will it be enough?"

Niara nods. "This should be enough."
Niara says, "Indeed, by night next, I shall either have everything I need, or I shall be quite dead."
Niara smiles. "But, not to fear, I will send word if the latter looks like it will be the case."

Tessa winces slightly. "Let's make it the first Niara. I don't even want to think about the second. So be safe."

Niara says, "I shall try. Thank you again."
Niara glances down for a moment. "And thank you for not asking why," she murmurs.

Tessa grins faintly. "Hey... if I knew then I could be forced to tell." she says with a wink. "It's much safer being dumb."

Niara admits, "True."

Tessa grins, then steps forward, stretching out a hand towards yours.

Niara says, "But rest assured it is not to lend aid to Virga."
Niara looks at the hand, then takes it.

Tessa squeezes your hand gently. "Be safe Niara. Be safe and come back to be my cousin again. Or more."

Niara mouths the word "more", questioningly, then shakes her head a little, absently. "Be safe yourself, Tessa. If arrows begin to fall behind the walls, do not put yourself in front of others."
Niara smiles a little when she adds, "Put Vialle behind you, and you both use Mira as a shield."
Niara says, "None would dare shoot her."

Tessa laughs as she nods. "Yeah, she'd bite them. And she hasn't had all her shots."

Niara nods, likewise. "I should go lie down."

Tessa nods. "I'll stop by tomorrow to make this room look lived in. If anyone asks I'll say you asked me to look in on you. Perhaps you are out at the temple praying."

Niara says, "I would not say that much. Everyone knows I am a heathen Virgan. Eh. If I am missed, I could be up on Kolvir's peak, looking down at distant Arden. I go there to ... think, sometimes."

Tessa nods. "So I will mention. Fate keep you safe Niara. I'd best be off." Tessa smiles back, at the door. "I'll look after your monster. You look after yourself."

Niara inclines her head.
Niara holds up her finger. "A moment."
Niara shakes her wrist, and turns her hand over. A small brass key gleams in her palm. "For the room."

Tessa offers her hand for it.
Tessa nods then. "Do any of the maids have this key also?"

Niara places it within her hand, with a light squeeze. "Dena did. She will be most upset to find it gone."
Niara smiles, slowly.
Niara says, "People should be more careful with keys, yes?"

Tessa chuckles softly. "Someday I'll ask you to teach me that. A more gossipy pair of maids never existed then the ones who clean my quarters."

Niara says, "Mine have grown more -- subtle. Since the time Martin took some of his men down into the Castle Laundry to inspect my bedclothing." Niara's little smile curves into a genuine feminine-version-of-Antonio smirk.

Tessa arches a brow. "Pardon me?"
Tessa nearly sputters. "Your bedclothing? Whatever for?"

Niara says, "It is perhaps a long story. One which he does not know I know of, perhaps."
Niara says, "And, for another time."

Tessa nods, with a smile. "For when you return."

Niara nods. "Yes."

Tessa slips out the door.