Certain Matters

JP with Lorem and Cindy

May 11th, 1889

When Elizabeth had sent the servant to tell Dr. Jackal that she would be visiting him, she had also sent one to Lorem to tell the Engineer that Elizabeth would be stopping by.

Once Elizabeth was done speaking to Dr. Jackal, she did just that. It made more sense to do it this way as the doctors lab and Lorem's lab/workshop weren't that far from each other.

Once she arrived at the coach house, Elizabeth knocked on the door.

There was a sound of rustling inside, the shifting of a stool on the floor, and then the tiny pattering of feet moving towards the door. It opened with the acceleration of someone having to exert some additional effort to get the heavy object to move on the hinges.

Lorem was standing their looking up at Lady Elizabeth in her normal working attire and well braided long blonde hair, with a very tidy and organized backdrop of a workshop. One fourth the space was her modularly constructed living quarters.

She was wearing an interesting contraption on her head which looked like a marriage between eyeglasses and a microscope; displaying multiple different lenses of sizes and colors. Two of the lens were down over her blue eyes, magnifying them. It made her seem even younger looking.

“Welcome Lady Elizabeth, I’ve been expecting you. Please do come in.” Lorem greeted and moved out of the way to permit her to enter. The gnome had cleaned up the shop when she learned she was going to have a visitor.
To be honest, Elizabeth was getting very used not knowing what contraption Lorem might have, so the fact that the gnome was wearing something unusual on her head didn't surprise the Eldren, but it didn't make the contraption less interesting.

"Thank you," Elizabeth stepped inside, and glanced around. The shop was neat but didn't look unused. "There was a few things I wanted to discuss with you. First is, because of all the events yesterday, I did not get to tell you that my parents are coming for a visit. They will be staying a different house but my father will likely want to meet you and visit you at work. They are scheduled to arrive in about a week."

“I will be ready for their arrival and make sure the workshop is fit for a tour milady.” Lorem used both hands to shut the door after she entered. On one of the work tables was the security device that Cronk had set off earlier. She had been working on it after she learned some valuable lessons earlier. Catching lady Elizabeth in it would have been a disaster.

There were work stools available should Lady Elizabeth wish to take a seat.

Elizabeth nodded, "Very good. My father mostly expects those who work for the order to do their jobs diligently. So, by all means the workshop should be neat but look like it's worked in. Also, he'll likely see you and what your working at headquarters. I would be appreciative if you would pass on the message to Miss Gemma, so she's not caught unaware."

Elizabeth took a seat, before continuing. "I also wanted to discuss ideas you might have for added security around the perimeter."

Lorem nodded in affirmation. “I will definitely let Miss Gemma know as well.”

Lorem moved over to the work table with the prototype machine that she had tested that morning when Elizabeth brought up perimeter security. “Absolutely. I actually worked on a net trap this morning that is triggered by stepping on a hidden baseplate. It worked when the test subject triggered it but I am not sure if I want to continue in this direction or not. What if it was more than one person? What if it was just a friend who forgot … or didn’t know … about the traps? What if they sneak in and just happen to miss stepping on these fixed spots? I feel like I need to go back to the identify the problem and ideation phase.” Lorem demonstrated the device by putting it on the ground and using a pole to trigger it.

“Perhaps I should focus more attention on creating an alarm system, than something that actually captures or demobilizes?” She looked to Lady Elizabeth for feedback and any directions.

Elizabeth raised a brow at the mention of a test subject, wondering if that was voluntary . "Someone was caught in it already?"

"I think an alarm might be a better idea being we have children here, for the time being." Elizabeth commented. "It will have to be sophisticated enough that it can't be disarmed easily, because the people we are dealing with are likely exceptionally good at getting around security systems. I might have to add wards to the alarms but would like to see what you come up with first."

Lorem thought about Lady Elizabeth’s feedback and switched gears in her mind towards an alarm system. This would be much more challenging. “I will do my best.”

“As for earlier, the test subject … Cronk … was not technically a voluntary participant in the test.” Lorem said embarrassingly. “I thought the element of surprise needed to be preserved for accurate results.” She said apologetically.

"I have faith you will be able to come up with something," Elizabeth stated. "Would a walk around the property so I can point out the weakest area, help you in designing the alarms?"

"Understandable," was her response to the element of surprise having been needed. "I was filled in by the Countess and Marcil about what happened with the net yesterday as well." As she had been unconscious through that part of the incident. "Cronk does seem be getting caught in the nets a bit. I hope he is alright."

“A walk around the grounds would be useful, yes milady.” Lorem needed to know the entire scope she needed to work with. It may not be economically or environmentally feasible to secure every area, nor perhaps necessary. On the other hand, different areas might need different solutions; hopefully one solution could be discovered.

Lorem was relieved she didn’t get into trouble for the two net incidents, especially the most recent. The former was an accident, the later was premeditated. “He was laughing this morning when it happened, so I think he’s alright. The steam pressure was too low and the net deployed with less effectiveness than intended.”

She noticeably hesitated as if something was bothering her. “Lady Elizabeth, might you have enough time in your schedule to accommodate a conversation on another matter entirely?” Her hands hand gone into her pockets. Lady Elizabeth, if she was keen on details and social cues, may have figured out by now that such behavior was something Lorem would exhibit when anxious or insecure.

"I am glad he is alright," Elizabeth stated. She wanted to be sure but wasn't surprised a net didn't injure the Orc.

Elizabeth had been trained in noticing the way people were, their gestures, movements
,how they acted or reacted to certain things. She did notice the hesitation in Lorem’s voice and the way the gnome's hands went into her pocket. "Of course, I have time now, if you want to discuss whatever is bothering you."

Lorem twirled the nut around the screw in her right pocket and was rubbing a small wrench in the left one as she tried to gather her thoughts. She was appreciative of Lady Elizabeth’s willingness to take extra time out of her important and busy schedule to give her further audience on a personal matter. She looked about the inside of the workshop, as if one of her many tinkered inventions might hold the answer.

“Well … this morning, after I helped Cronk out of the net, he professed that he would like to court me.” Lorem looked worried. “I don’t know Orc culture, but I wonder if perhaps a female subduing a male … since I’ve caught him in a net twice now … may have given the wrong impression?” She couldn’t think of any other reason how things had progressed to this point. She barely knew or had spent time with Cronk. And she hadn’t done anything, save the thank you gesture flower gift, which she thought might be misinterpreted that she was pursuable.

She added more, “I informed him that saying such things to me in private, without a chaperone, and without my fathers prior consent was socially inappropriate. To which he told me he is going to go get my fathers approval.” Lorem was concerned, among other things, that she just ruined the workplace dynamic somehow.

Elizabeth had suspected Cronk liked Lorem perhaps more than a teammate or friend, but she had clearly underestimated how much.

"I am by no means an expert on Orc culture but I do not think that is why." Elizabeth explained. "I believe he has had feelings for you since you first met. The way he became instantly intrigued with you. However, I assumed that those feelings would subside and you two could just be friends. I clearly misjudged how strong his feelings were. I certainly never expected Cronk to entertain courting you to the point of asking your father." Elizabeth sighed. "You did nothing, from what I can tell, to push Cronk to that point."

She shook her head slightly, Elizabeth had hoped to be a bit more seasoned in her leadership role before having to deal with this kind of issue.

Lorem, deep down, felt like she had indeed done nothing to solicit Cronk’s affections. It was nice to have confirmation from an unbiased third party, especially since Lady Elizabeth was superior no doubt in matters such as these. The Eldren woman was the epitome of high status in society, beauty and ability; which no doubt brought many experiences with suitors to her door.

Lorem knew she, herself, was lovely and intelligent. This was just based on objective truths. Physically, she was genetically very symmetrical which was a key indicator of physical attractiveness universal to all recorded races. And she had enough high performances and marks to know she had brains. She wasn’t so naive as to not realize such things were found desirable. But she typically concluded that it was her youth (she was only 19) and feminine (and gnome) vulnerability that put her on the radar of many men.

Lorem felt embarrassed to have to waste Lady Elizabeth’s time and attention with such matters. She should be talking shop and not relationships with her boss. She felt it was important though to bring up because of the work dynamics issue. In addition, how does one tell an Orc no? Lorem really didn’t have the ability to stop any advance, lest she was equipped with a grenade launcher for example.

Looking a bit more relieved that she wasn’t the only one now shouldering the burden of the situation, Lorem asked, “Do you think this will continue to escalate? If Cronk were to inquire my Father he will no doubt receive a resounding NO. But not everyone takes no for an answer. And will this make working together problematic?”

"I think I will need to stop it from processing further." Elizabeth had to resign herself. "Besides the social implications of Cronk asking your father, while the Order doesn't exactly forbid dating among its members, special permission has to be given for it to be allowed. I am not the one who gives that, the Baron is. Now, as you can imagine among o
Order members of the same race this isn't a problem, when interracial couples are fine such as Dwarfs and Gnomes but an Orc and Gnome would draw far too much attention. So not only would your father say no. It's likely so would the Baron." Elizabeth sighed. "Just a moment. Elizabeth got up and walked over to a button on the wall and pressed it. A moment later there was a knock at the door, when Elizabeth opened the door one of the servants was standing outside. "Mark, please find Mr. Cronk and let him know I would like to meet with him before lunch. Ask him to not leave the property." Mark bowed and ran off, hopefully Cronk hadn't gone anywhere. "I will try to take care of this, with the least amount of problems for both you and Cronk that I can manage." Elizabeth stated.

Lorem curtseyed, “Thank you Lady Elizabeth. I do apologize for this distraction. I promise I won’t let it get in the way of my responsibilities.”

'It is quite alright. You are welcome to come to me with any problems as you feel comfortable doing so." Elizabeth smiled gently. "Now, shall we take that walk around the property?"

Lorem smiled from Lady Elizabeth’s generous invitation of counselor.

“Yes please.” Lorem was eager to move on to another topic. She grabbed her journal and a pencil, sun hat and what looked like a small purse; though most likely with the young gnome it was more than meets the eye. “I am ready.”

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