(1941-05-15) Meeting with the Starchaser Chieftain
Details for R.C.M.C. on Campus
Summary: After some haggling and cultural exchange at the gates to the village, the R.C.M.C. and one of Hogwarts students finally gain admittance to the Centaur Village so their investigation on the Centaur Civil War can continue.
Date: May 15th, 1941
Location: Hogwarts
Plot: Centaur Civil War
Related: Previously on… R.C.M.C. on Campus

With only the clothes on their backs, weaponless and wandless the humans are the first besides Dumbledore to be admitted into the Village. Some of the Starchasers are curious and come to watch the parade to the large hut on the edge of the crater. Others herd some of the younger centaurs into huts or just away from the humans. The Starchasers are not the most xenophobic of the herds. But even them, the most human friendly of the herds have their wariness as any wild horse would with humans.

Within the hut it is warm and a bit hazy with smoke from the fire that has been built up recently for company. On the far side of the fire from the entrance is a very organic throne that looks more like a chaise lounge with an arm and back that is very high. The wood used still looks like branches that have just grown out of the earth to support the chieftain and make sure he's as comfortable as he can be. To his left standing beside the fire is a magnificent female, wild but regal looking. It is she who gestures towards some cushions that have been put by the entrance side of the fire. "I am Oighrig. Mystic of the Starchasers" (pronounced: OY-rik) "I present Chief Torrigan. Please sit and be welcome."

Torrigan remains in his throne but gives a very respectful nod of his head to his guests. A very keen eye might notice some potion bottles on a table behind the throne. The Chief nearly was killed by the Swift Arrows when they were run out of their original village. His lack of getting up to greet them is linked to lasting effects of his injuries and not out of rudeness. But he is not a man to come across as weak and so his fur blanket is rolled up at the foot of the throne instead of covering him up like some infirmed foal. This does however give a visual to his still healing scars on his equine form.

"Welcome." Torrigan's voice is one of those booming things that even when he's speaking normally it just sinks right into ones bones. "Sit. Drink. Tell me why you have come to see me."

Disarmed, Grayson seems to swell just a bit, carrying himself with a hint of a swagger, as though he feels some subconscious urge to compensate for the lack of weaponry. He seems to sense the stares of the various Centaurs and draws nearer to Rowena's shoulder. But as he enters the hut, the bulky dragonologist offers a grave bow toward Oighrig and Torrigan. His gaze is keen, and he seems to take in the situation with a few quick glances around the chamber.

When Torrigan speaks, Grayson seems about to answer, but then thinks better of it. He glances aside at Roe, respectfully inclining his head slightly and seeming to make himself less conspicuous. It might be some form of magic — or it might have to do with the way he lets his shoulders roll in, his posture relax. The subtle changes leave him, undoubtedly, the subordinate member of this RCMC pair.

Unthinkingly, though she is of course curious and taking stock of her surroundings with alert blue eyes, Roe offers a hand out toward Josie as the little party follows after their guide. Maybe it's just a mirrorred reaction to the female shephering the foals about. But it is rather unsettling, after all, being without one's wand. She's not oblivious to that. The little brunette keeps a smile in place, even offering polite nods to those whose gaze she catches in passing; doing her utmost to look non-threatening.. not a hugely challenging task, given that she's teeny in comparison.

Entering the central hut, regardless of whether the student accepted the offered hand, Roe stays close by Grayson's shoulder. A united front, certainly. But common sense, too. Oigrigh's greeting is met with a respectful nod from Roe, who clearly understands the title and the role it denotes, though she's not so rude as to mutter any explanation aside to her companions right this minute. Shifting her gaze to the Chief and repeating the gesture, she accepts the invitation and moves unhurriedly to settle on a cushion, subtly tugging Grayson with her fingertips at his cuff. "Well met, Chief Torrigan. Mystic Oighrig. My name is Roe Scamander.." Here she pauses, leaving room for the others to interject with introductions. "..and we have come to respectfully request to learn more of you, and your people."

Though she doesn't seem all that nervous, being somewhat experienced in hiding any fear, Josie does take the offered hand as she follows the Ministry officials into the hut. She looks around with curiosity as she enters, and then bows to the Chief. At the invitation, she steps over to sit down as well, watching the proceedings with interest.

Behind the humans, almost like a chaperone, comes Caitig. She inclines her head to the Chief and the mystic, then swishes her tail. Her head tilts to one side, and she looks upon Torrigan's wounds with a seemingly casual air, though there is a deep intensity should one choose to meet her gaze.

It is the Mystic that seems to be the one handling the diplomacies. Torrigan rather just lounges there, looking proud and intimidating and overflowing with mighty leadership. With a swish of her tail the mysitc grasps her hands in front of her belly. "The Starchasers are very willing to do what must be done to co-exist with the humans of Hogwarts. Much of our exile is due to this fact. But in the years to come we would like our children to be able to return to our home within the forest. So I hope that it is understood that we will not betray our clan. We are here over a misunderstanding. We did not do what the Swift Arrow Herd accuses us of doing." A soft chorfle of air escapes the Chief when 'misunderstanding' and 'accuses' comes up. Of all the herd that did not perish in the attack, Torrigan is certainly the one alive who suffered the most grievious of injuries.

Allowing himself to be drawn down onto a cushion at Roe's very subtle tug, Grayson looks the Mystic in the eye for a few moments, then turns toward the Chief at that soft noise. His own features grow flinty as he considers the man's wounds, then looks back at Oigrigh. When he speaks, his voice is very quiet. "I'm quite glad you brought that up, Mystic Oigrigh. It is the RCMC's hope that we may be of assistance in clearing up any misunderstanding. Of course.." He trails off, turning to look at Torrigan again, "..It would be a great boon to us if the entire tale might be told. If it is not a matter that must stay within the Clan, of course."

Roe nods her understanding as the Mystic speaks, offering the elegant female a soft smile. "Of course. I am certain this has been a challenging adjustment for you, and we certainly don't come here with the intent to cause you any further unease." The words are spoken with the utmost sincerity.. but one who knows her well enough would likely note the tells of the young woman's mind squirreling all this information away. 'Exile'. 'Betray'. 'Misunderstanding.' It all matters. "We certainly would not demand anything of you that you are not willing to give." In this statement, she looks between the pair, respectfully including the Chief, even as he remains stoic and silent.. and she pauses to allow Grayson to speak, a flicker of amused.. something in her expression. Pride, perhaps? "Yes.. while I admit my own admiration for your culture was a large part of my wishing to be involved, it would, in an 'official' capacity, be most helpful if we could better understand the conflict, here." While she has a firm grasp on the basics of their society - and the lack of concern they tend to carry over things that would cause human wars - the curiosity keeping her dainty features alight is palpable. This is no false flattery.

Josie says absolutely nothing, as she's here to watch. She seems to want to, questions apparently on her mind at what the mystics says, but she keeps her mouth shut and it's the Ministry officials talk. She pays attention not just to what the centaurs say, but also to what Roe and Grayson say. How they handle this.

The Leafwarden takes a step forwards, then plants her forehoof and inclines her head deeply. "If I might speak," she murmurs, and though there remains the mothery quality to her voice, there is something richer and wilder than was in her tone previously. "Meaning no disrespect to the motives of the humans here, I would like to know if the RCMC wishes to 'help' us, or if this is a fact-finding mission to help them determine whether or not to interfere, and potentially move the entire clan out of the Forest. Though these here seem sincere…." She shrugs her shoulders. "I should like to know what exactly their "help" would mean before we speak of the situation."

The Starchaser's leadership both nod a little as they listen to their guests. It's when Caitig speaks up that they both bow their heads towards the Leafwarden and Oighrig makes a gesture to signal that they wish to know the Human's answer and had the same sorts of questions right on the tips of their tongue.

At the voice of the Leafwarden, Roe turns her head to regard the older centauress, arching a brow before relenting to a gentle smile of understanding. "Oh.. of course, you missed that part of the discussion.." Returning her gaze to the Mystic and Chief, the brunette folds her hands primly in her lap. "Well, I suppose there's no harm in repeating the words that your fearsome Ealisaid deemed a suitable answer to that question.." Drawing a breath, and shaking an errant wisp of hair out of her eyes, she answers the manyfold enquiry in a succinct and genuine manner.

"We wish to emphasise that the forest is in no way within our jurisdiction, and therefore we've no intent of 'interfering'. Or in the relocation of the clan, or any individual herd. That's simply not our right." A sidelong glance and a calm curve of her lips includes her male colleague in these offered reassurances, before her blue green eyes move back to the pair before them. "What we do want, is to leave with a better understanding of the politics of your situation. And, if we have any aid that you desire, find a way to bring that about, to the benefit of all. You are, after all, now in close proximity to our precious young people.. and they to you. I am certain you see the wisdom in gaining some basic understanding, to ensure this situation remains stable? That's all I'm asking for, in this initial meeting.. and thank you, by the way, for agreeing to it at all. We're ever so grateful." The 'official' tone slips with ease to be replaced by Roe's natural good cheer, dimples revealed as she grins broadly.

As if remembering something, she looks to Josie, in turn; smiling encouragingly at the girl. "You're a Hogwarts student, Miss Davies. How much do you know of centaurs?" A rueful admission is offered to all those looking on. "What little information we have I fear is not particularly accurate. I'd be delighted to set the record straight, as it were. Without, of course, as I said earlier, demanding you tell us every facet of your clearly very personal and private beliefs and such. Again, not our business.." Pausing, she presses her lips in a firm line for a moment, perhaps seeking to better summarise. In the end she settles for: "..tell us what you want the world to know of you."

Grayson falls silent as the Leafwarden voices her questions, glancing aside expectantly to Rowena. Though the muscular dragonologist is the older of the two, he seems quite happy to defer to Rowena's judgement. And, indeed, as the younger RCMC employee offers her answer, a brief smile touches Grayson's features. If she were proud of him before, his own approval shines through rather obviously before he schools his features back to neutrality. He clears his throat softly.

"As Miss Scamander says, we are absolutely not here on an agenda of our own. I apologize if I gave the wrong impression." He glances aside to Rowena and continues. "As my partner says, we're here at your disposal, to use — or to not use, indeed — as you see fit. And we are also here to learn, so that we might better respect your people in the future."

The very suggestion that Roe and Grayson may have come with an ulterior motive seems to surprise Josie, and she almost argues in their defence, until she remembers her common sense. For now, she keeps her mouth shut. That is, anyway, until Roe asks her the question. "Not enough. I know that centaurs are very intelligent and wise, and I've heard that you follow the guidance of the stars, but I don't know much else for sure."

"And yet…." murmurs Caitig, "And yet. You hve brought one of your precious young into our camp, knowing that we have enemies nearby in the forest. I am…. confused."

"Your camp borders Hogwarts grounds. Your fight is upon our doorstep.. and that of our young.. whether we would choose it or not." Roe's tone is still calm, though a touch firmer this time as she looks to Caitig. "Just another reason we desire to understand the situation." Leaving it at that for the moment she falls silent once more, eyeing the Chief and his Mystic after a reassuring smile toward Josie.

At Caitig's words, a sort of change comes over Grayson. His features remain neutral, his posture subservient, but there is a sudden tension in his frame. He watches the elder Centauress with a blank, intent, expression. When he speaks, his voice is flat. "I am, unfortunately, no stranger to war. I've seen entire cities obliterated, Leafwarden. That knife your daughter holds has blood on it. I do not say these things to brag."

He takes in a deep breath, turning to study Josie for a few lengthy moments, then back to the elders. "I know war. And I would never bring a child into a war-zone, Leafwarden. The finest Wizard of our age has guaranteed her safety here — and, for what it is worth, your own." He sits back, closing his eyes for a moment and exhaling. Some of the tension leaves his frame.

Josie glances to Roe and then Grayson, at their answers. She nods, and says, "We're in the Hogwarts grounds. If I'm in danger here, I'm in just as much danger walking to herbology class, or playing Quidditch, or in Care of Magical Creatures. They didn't bring me into a war zone, I'm either safe here, or I was already in one."

Oighrig lifts her hand finally after listening to the exchange. "The Hogwarts Staff as well as the Starchasers have done our best to make sure the children of the school go unharmed." She glances towards Torrigan and he gives a grave nod of his head. The Mystic then turns towards the Humans once more and continues, "There is an artifact of great importance to the Dark Forest Clan. Because of our connection with the stars and the omens they give us, the Clan as a whole was shocked when our Great Chief" Not to be confused with the Herd Chief that sits before them, "Took ill and passed without forewarning from the stars. In short time before that, only a moon before, the sacred artefact also went missing. It is required in rituals to determine the next Great Chief."

Oighrig takes a deep soft breath, almost a sigh. "Things went from worse to horrific. The Herds turned on each other, accusing each other of stealing the artefact. The Starchasers for the most part are a very peaceful herd, our lands are very open and not easily defended. Baelom, Chief of the Swift Arrows. He has aim to become High Chief, but he knows Torrigan is much more popular than he is. So he accused the Starchasers of stealing the artefact."

The Mystic doesn't chortle indignantly like Torrigan does when the accusations and name of his attacker are brought up. But her beautiful long tail that's woven with leather and fresh flowers and leaves does swish in what is unmistakably tension. "Until the pieces of the artefact, the High Chieftain Bow of Stars are all found and united again. This war will continue." Another calming breath is taken. "So as you can see, there is probably very little that can be done to help in the way of R.C.M.C. 'diplomacy'. I am sorry, we are grateful for the offer."

Roe listens to all this in typical, enthralled silence; her blue-green eyes fixed upon the Mystic as she speaks and the occasional little nod offered to convey her continued attention and understanding. There's also the faintest flicker of a smile when Torrigan chuckles, a flit of her gaze toward the Chief, though she keeps her own expression otherwise neutral.

Only when Oighrig reaches her rather forlorn conclusion does the young woman notice she has been leaning fractionally closer. Straightening her posture and casting a sidelong look toward Grayson, the little brunette than draws a slow breath, plainly taking a moment to turn all this over in her mind rather than offer a hasty reply that would imply a lack of patience. "Well." Good start. "..firstly, may I offer condolences on the passing of your Great Chief.. I.." Pausing, she reaches to an inner pocket of her oversized jacket, producing a small notebook and rather battered quill. "I'm sorry, do you mind if I..?" She flips the cover open, scribbling presumably a few pointers to keep her thoughts in line. The first heading reads, unsurprisingly, 'Great Chief'. "It seems an awfully strange coincidence to me - while obviously I lack your peoples skill in understanding omens and other such remarkable things - that the artefact should vanish right before the poor chap was taken ill. Do you suspect foul play, in his untimely demise? To put it bluntly, and I mean no offense in suggesting it.. do you think someone close to him may have seized the opportunity to bring it about with the likes of poison or some other dreadful thing?" Roe looks up from her brisk writing, looking between the pair with wide eyes - though they reflect only keen interest and concern rather than fear. "And this.." She glances to the next heading in her notes. "..Baelon. It was he and his herd who attacked yours on Hogwarts grounds?"

Regardless of confirmation, she continues, in the same soft-spoken manner. "..if, Merlin forbid, Chief Torrigan had been slain in that battle - which I am certain would have been no mean feat.." Here she ventures a smile toward the intimidating figure, making no mention whatsoever of his injuries or any other implication of weakness on his part. "..would there have been any other rival to contend his wish to claim the position of High Chief?" While further questions and ideas clearly assail the young lady, she bites her tongue now for the moment and waits, quill poised.

Grayson, too, listens. But while Rowena takes notes, Grayson flexes and relaxes his fists, as though he could go out into the forest and beat the problem to a pulp. His features are impassive, closed-off, but his eyes are alight with intelligent interest. When Rowena begins to pose her questions, Grayson casts a sidelong glance at her, frankly appreciative. He flicks his gaze down at the notebook, then up to Roe's features. When she finishes, he clears his throat softly.

"I am forever reminded that my colleague is among the sharpest minds in England. She has asked many of the relevant questions that occur to me." He pauses for a moment. "I don't mean to overburden your confidences, but I do have a few others." Just for a moment, the man tongues the side of his cheek, getting his thoughts in order. "Firstly — this artefact. I should like to know, if it is not too personal, the history and provenance of the item. It may hold some relevance if, as my colleague says, foul play were involved." Another quick pause, a rapid-fire glance down at his own fists. "And secondly, I should like to ask your permission to enter your territory within the Dark Forest. Purely to observe, of course, and by no means to claim it as a part of the Wizarding World."

Listening with rapt attention, Josie now sits silently. She starts to frown a little as the story is told, as if she's had a very unpleasant idea. Perhaps not even the same idea that Roe has, as she looks to the woman with an unsure expression and then back to the centaurs, but for the moment she doesn't say anything.

Firstly with the patience of a monk like kindergarden teacher the Mystic mmmms out indicatively. "Baelommm."

Torrigan interjects, "Assumptions and wild accusations is what got us in this mess! We'll not contribute any futher."

Oighrig diplomatically translates. "There is no way to know and we refrain from speculation." Serenely she nods, "Yes, it is Baelom, Chief of the Swift Arrows who led the attack and exile on our herd."

The chief speaks up again, "The artefact is a symbol of unity and cooperation within the clan." His tone is a bit gruff and holds within it the subtext of, 'That is all you need to know and will get to know'. "You may Grayson of the R.C.M.C. at your own peril. The Swift Arrows no doubt have sacked my lands and set traps and ambushes throughout it. Not to mention other denizens of the forest have most certainly taken opportunity. The Stargazers will not be held responsible for your safety. You should take that Ranger Female with the dark hair and skin if you insist. She knows the way. Baelom might not shoot her on sight. Might. "

"Ranger Fawley would be a good choice." The Mystic adds and uses the Ranger's known name where Torrigan just can't be bothered to remember the name of the human pest that pokes about the forest making sure nothing is sick or injured. Just as once they leave Roe will become the Little Brown Haired Questioner and Grayson will be the Bold Warrior Spirit and Josie will be the Quiet Child tag along.

"Of course." Roe is quick to voice understanding and a subtle backpedal. "My apologies, I didn't mean to toss accusations about." When Torrigan speaks up with that curt, 'don't push your luck' tone to his voice, she respectfully lowers her gaze for a moment.. though it falls upon her hastily scrawled notes and she ends up chewing gently on her lower lip. Quietly, she underscores the word 'pieces'. Twice. And adds a question mark. With any luck, more on that will become clear in due course.

When it comes time to address Grayson's suggestion, the Little Questioner turns her attention toward her colleague; her expression betraying her apprehension at such a notion. But.. well, needs must. And if he can appear confident about it, so should she. Noting down the Ranger's proper name - thank you, Oighrig - she circles the contrastingly neat words idly, her mind wandering already into the details of such an excursion. "Thank you. That you would recommend her yourself speaks volumes for her capability." A firm nod. Then she catches Josie's expression, quirking a brow at the girl in a gentle, silent expression of enquiry. No doubt she'll ask her about it properly when they're not in the presence of a tetchy centaur Chief.

The Chieftain's tone does not daunt Grayson, but neither does he raise his hackles and respond in kind. He squints for a moment, glancing down at his knees, then back up at Torrigan, locking eyes with the Centaur. And then he nods, once, in acknowledgement — one warrior to another, perhaps. Rowena's apprehensive glance is met with a thin, confident, smile. As he listens to the various dangers that might face one in the Dark Forest, his expression loosens a bit - tension relaxing into something like comfort. "Sounds like home," he mutters softly, perhaps without meaning to.

As Oighrigh offers a recommendation — Fawley — his eyes sharpen briefly, and he nods. "Yes, it's better to move with a local guide if at all possible. She must be incredibly competent, as Miss Scamander says." He takes in a deep breath, looking down at his hands for a moment as he collects his thoughts, perhaps seeking a question that won't send Torrigan into a deeper anger. And, not finding it, he goes quiet.

Josie brightens at the mention of 'Ranger Fawley', and as the others mentioned that she must be good, she nods quickly. "She's the best. She probably knows the forest better than any human. She'll be able to help," she says, with surety. She is, indeed, very confident in her soon-to-be stepmother. At Roe's look, she does give a little nod, however. She'll explain later.

Oighrig looks a bit curious as the questions have seemingly started to ebb. "If there is nothing else?" It is growing close to the time when the Chief needs his regimen of potions, ointments and bandages. His rising grumpiness indicative of this to the Mystic. She offers a serene smile to the humans however. If they do have more questions, she is glad to answer them.

Caitig looks to the Mystic and the Chief, and she motions subtly to a pouch at her flank, then raises her browsd questioningly. Then she shifts, looking down at Josie. "Child, you do well to shoew respect and understand that you do not understand. But do not fear to question. We are not…." She thinks a moment, then gives a high, whinnying laugh. "Not what one might call a kindly folk. But we are a folk that values learning. If there is something you need to ask about these issues, ask. Sometimes foals ask what we adults have overlooked in its familiarity." She looks at the two RCMC representatives. "Many of the Clan do not like humans…. at all. Remember that, for your own safety and ours."

Josie looks up to Caitig, and then shakes her head. "Thank you, but it's not a question. It's just an idea, an idea I'd like to talk over with someone before I suggest it. I'm probably very wrong, and I don't want to cause trouble if I am."

"I don't think any of us desire to overstay our welcome." replies Roe, albeit a touch reluctantly; closing her notebook and sliding it back inside her jacket. Another smile aside for Josie, in the wake of those firmly echoed sentiments about the Ranger they intend to seek out and she nods at the girl. "I expect that's true, in every regard." Unfurling her legs, the brunette rises slowly to her feet, wiggling the feeling back into her toes as she speaks, this time addressing her colleague. "..unless there's anything you wished to add, Gray?" He does, after all, sometimes have moments of brilliance. But a shake of his head as he rises, alas, denotes that this is not to be one of them.

"Alright. Well. Should we find anything of import, we shall be crtain to inform you. I can only thank you again for your time, and reiterate our willingness to aid you, if there is anything you require. I think this has been a very insightful first meeting." Folding her hands before herself in prim habit, Roe smiles a little sheepishly. They couldn't even bring the right drink to properly betrothe Grayson to the terrifying gate guard. What else can they offer that the Starchasers might want, theatre tickets? Shampoo? A subscription to the Daily Prophet? No. Hopefully a good first impression has been made and that will have to suffice, for now.

At least they haven't been branded as slavers.

Looking aside to Caitig when she addresses the adults, the young woman again inclines her head in a subtle gesture of understanding. "Thank you, Leafwarden. We shall take every precaution." Politely sensing the gentle dimissal in the Mystic's words, though, Roe offers a hesitant sort of bow from the waist. While she might have the knack for enquiry, calculation and the like, it seems she's still a touch awkward when it comes to just.. plain old social interaction. A murmured, "Farewell, then.." as she backs a step toward the entryway, then she pivots on a heel to head for it directly, flanked by the broad-shouldered dragonologist and holding a hand out companionably toward Josie once again on her other side.

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