Picardie: I can get back faster, so I will get Occitanie to come. Set up a signal branch.
Picardie folds her arms, and turns away.
Calais: I shall wait here.
Calais sits among the red flowers in front of the cocoon.
A branch rises above the leaves of a tree.
Below, Calais hugs the tree’s trunk.
Calais: Oh, Duxa…
Occitanie: What a ridiculous waste of energy for a signal branch- oh. That is certainly new.
Occitanie looks at the cocoon. Picardie approaches Calais, who sits near the cocoon.
Picardie: Anything happen, Calais?
Calais: I tried to speak with it using the same magic I use for flowers… But it remained silent.
Occitanie: Naturally. It does indeed resemble a cocoon. Calais, Picardie.
Occitanie touches the cocoon, then grows serious and touches her chin.
Occitanie: Watch the cocoon, all day and night. You may bring some things but your job is to now guard this cocoon.
Calais: You mean Auvergne, Alpes, and Rhone?
Occitanie: Yes. They are strong and knowledgeable about the world beyond our little valley.
Picaride grows angry, and places a hand across her chest.
Picardie: No- let me return to work! I want to keep harvesting. We did not receive any apprentices this year-
Occitanie: Remain here, Picardie. We may have to go without our usual delicacies. So I will have to work harder.
Occitanie puts a hand on Picardie’s shoulder, who is frowning. Occitanie backs up.
Calais: We have scoured most of our assigned areas, anyways. Most of the trees are strong. Some may die in winter, but that is of no concern now.
Calais plays with their hair.
Picardie: Calais… You want to stay here?
Calais: Not particularly. But if it is useful to Duxa Occitanie…
Calais presses their index fingers together.
Picardie walks away from Calais and the cocoon.
Picardie: So that is how you act.
Occitanie: I shall stay here while the two of you fetch your things. Go now.
Picardie walks away on the tree tops. Calais descends into the darkness below the canopy. Occitanie stares at the cocoon, only her back visible.
The next panel shows the wall at night, a yellow full moon in the sky.
Picardie leans against a column, facing away from the cocoon.
Picardie: I cannot believe that Occitanie!
Picardie: She has made a mistake, I am sure of it!
Calais stretches out in the grass, relaxing.
Calais: Picardie, calm down. Go jump in the trees if you must. But I want my evening walk later.
Picardie: Hmpf. I see. Obeying Occitanie’s orders to keep watch on this rotten cocoon!
The cocoon and the flowers shine in between the two sorcerers.
Calais: I choose to follow the Duxa’s instructions! That is all.
A close up of Calais’ eye shows frustration with Picardie.
Calais holds up a shining flower in front of the cocoon.
Calais: You underestimate what this cocoon could do…
Picardie: Well. Fine. I shall jump around as you suggest.
Picardie strides away.
Calais pulls their knees close.
Calais: Hatch, please…
Days pass: the sun above tree tops, and a sliver of a moon above the wall at night.
Alsace and Lorraine have come to talk to Picardie and Calais. They sit on the grass, all but Picardie relaxed.
Alsace: The apples are doing well this year. The drying period will smell wonderful with their wood.
Lorraine: I can imagine the smell now! Autumn sure is the best- late sunrise, mostly drying work…
Lorraine closes her eyes, imagining fall.
Alsace looks down in response to Picardie’s glare.
Alsace: I am sorry that you two have been forced into guarding the cocoon…
Lorraine: Indeed, I must apologize as well. We are doing the active work.
Neither Alsace nor Lorraine looks particularly happy.
Calais: Well… Alsace… It is fine, Lorraine.
Calais puts up their hands in defense.
Picardie turns to face the cocoon, hands digging into the grass.
Picardie: How many more days shall it be, cocoon? We have sat here, doing nothing, for four days!
Calais: I am tired of your shouting. I will be walking now.
Alsace does not get up to chase them.
Picardie grabs at her shirt.
Picardie: Let me return to work! I need to be useful.
She starts to cry.
Alsace gets up and places a hand on Picardie’s shoulder.
Alsace: You are, Picardie.
Picardie: not enough.
Picardie sits, alone, apart from the world.
Lorraine: Alsace, I think we ought to return home before it is truly dark.
Lorraine and Alsace stand up.
Alsace: We will return.
Picardie looks down, but turns to Alsace in the next panel.
Picardie: Please… do not.
Her hand rests on a crumpled flower.
Picardie: I am a disgrace.
She sits, not facing the cocoon, in the dark.
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