Episode 1, Just in Vine
Countess Pianta moved about in her new frock admiring it from every angle. The gold embroidered leaves glistened on the rich green fabric as it swished back and forth it made the most wonderful rustling sound. “Beautiful, Lady Tressa it's wondrous.”
“I am sure this will catch Count Pianta’s attention.”
The Countess tossed back her graying curls. “I would hope so, if I can even get him to attend.”
Lady Tressa looked at the Countess with shock, “But it is your event, it is his Ball.”
The Countess sighed, “You would think so, but alas he spends more time in the West Wing than the rest of the Manor.”
“Surely, not all his time.”
The Countess sighed, “More and more these days. He’s turned nearly the whole greenhouse into a Jungle with plants from the Dark Continent. Plus I cannot get the servants to even enter the Wing. They return claiming they saw objects move and one claimed a tree took her duster!”
“Yet enough about my husband and his… hobbies. How are the girls?”
Tressa smiled politely as she continued to pin the hem of the skirt, “Well enough. The youngest has adopted nearly every creature in Europa to the point that we have been accommodated a special car on the train that now makes its money as a small roaming petting zoo.”
“Goodness, she is merely 10 years is she not?”
“9, but it keeps her busy as she invents new contraptions, the flying rabbit portals are quite entertaining to watch.”
“And the others?”
“Adelcia is apprenticing in Florin.” She paused before saying more.
“What of your ward?”
Lady Tressa let out a long sigh as she stood and smoothed her dress in a fidgeting manner.
“Come Lady Tressa cannot be that bad?”
“My Dear Countess if children were placed on this earth to test one’s parental fortitude then wards were meant to break it.”
The Countess could not hold back the shocking laugh, “Oh you poor dear.”
Tressa began to put up her tools, “No, I will prevail! I have sent her to Zappa, hopefully she can behave herself there.”
“A University on a secluded Island should accomplish something.”
“Indeed. Now,” Tressa stepped back to look at her work, “If the hem is acceptable I will finish it tonight and have it for you in the morning.”
“As always Lady Tressa it is impeccable. Now we must both change for Dinner. I will have Isabel put the dress in your room. Is there anything else you need?”
“No, I am well. I believe I will take a turn in the garden before we eat.”
Lady Tressa strolled through the magnificent garden filled with the typical flora of an Albion home, but as she drew closer to the West Wing the plants began to change. She was quite shocked that some of the plants she saw survived in the current climate, but she had a mission to complete. She approached the greenhouse which engulfed the west end of the estate. It was larger than most and vines covered nearly everything that wasn’t glass. She attempted to peer in, but the greenery was too thick. She stepped back and looked up and down the vacant path, then to the wall in front of her. Seeing her only choice she girded her strength and said to herself, “Right then.” Flipping up her skirt she released her garters from her socks and lifted them up, catching the skirts and attached them to her belt thereby raising the front of her skirt and exposing her bloomers.
She reached out and grabbed a piece of visible trellis and began to make her way up the side of the building. The vines were thick proving an asset, but the higher she rose the stranger the vines became, they grew darker, waxy, and larger, even their scent began to change. Curiously she pulled out a pair of small scissors and snipped off a leaf for later review. This action proved detrimental as the building began to shake. It took her a fatal moment to realize it was not the building but the vines itself. Before she could react the vines took hold of her and drew her on a winding path that ended abruptly with her hanging upside down inside the greenhouse disheveled with leaves in her hair and rips in her dress.
“My Dear Lady Tressa, this is not the dining room!”
Tressa spat leaves and hair out of her mouth and looked down into the room below her. There stood Count Pianta among a plethora of plants that snapped, growled and moved. Currently he was stroking a rather large bloom that responded to his touch with nips and nuzzles. In his other hand he griped a cane length rod which crackled with an electrical charge at the end. As an errant vine lashed at the Count as if to threaten him he stabbed at it with the rod delivering a shock and seemingly dissuading the vine's behavior.
“My apologies, Count Pianta I got turned around in your lovely garden. If you will so kindly let me down I can freshen myself, and meet you there.”
The Count lightly chuckled as he reached down into a bin and pulled out a dead rat which the bloom snatched from his hand and swallowed whole. Tressa tried to hold back her horror, as the vine suddenly plumped behind the bloom. Her eyes dashed around quickly as she saw other swollen sections of the vine and hoped there wasn’t a larger bloom. Her fears were confirmed as a violent purple bloom slowly curled open underneath her.
She felt the vines begin to lower her body and hoped to stall, “Surely Count Pianta we can come to terms.”
“What terms? You have no leverage.”
“Simply let me go and I will leave, never saying a word. I promise I have seen far more incriminating actions by other nobles. Honestly this is nothing alarming.”
“I’d like to believe you Lady Tressa, but you truly are at a disadvantage. I already have you, and Petunia is quite hungry and it is highly improbable that you will escape.”
A wry smile grew across Lady Tressa’s face. “I was waiting for you to say that.”
The Count stared at her baffled, but before he could question her odd reaction the sky above rumbled loudly and shattered glass began to rain down scratching his face. The vines holding Lady Tressa flinched violently at the event causing her to swing back and forth. Before the Count could react a girder crashed down onto his platform sending him flying through the air into the giant purple bloom that swallowed him whole. Lady Tressa tried to focus on the object floating down from the hole in the greenhouse roof, but already knew who it was. Fisk landed on top of the girder and dusted himself off.
“So Sorry,” he replied seemingly announcing himself to whoever was in the room. “I had to evacuate quickly and calculated this would be the least occupied room.”
“Well it’s not!” Tressa shouted.
He looked up and flashed a smile, “Why Lady Tressa what a surprise to see you!”
“I was honestly wondering how long it would take you.”
“I’m sorry my dear I do not schedule my missions around your rescues.” He continued to grin up at her as she swung back and forth desperately reaching to grab hold of another vine or wall.
“Could you get me down please?”
“I don’t know, I’m rather enjoying the view.”
She crossed her arms and huffed, “Fine.” then took out her scissors and attempted to cut at the vine.
“Now don’t do that.” He picked up a set of shears and threw them at the vines holding Tressa. Oddly she didn’t flinch but deftly grabbed hold of another vine when her feet were cut free. She landed on top of the now closed purple bloom that writhed underneath her.
“Oh Dear.“ She jumped off the flower and looked at Fisk, “James, you might want to help Count Pianta out of his pet.”
“Right then.” He picked up the electric rod the Count had dropped and stabbed it into the bloom. The rod emitted a web of electricity causing the bloom to convulse and ooze the Count onto the floor who gasped for air. Acid sizzled as it ate away at his skin and clothes and the Count moaned disoriented from the acid and electric shock.
Fisk looked at the rod and smiled, “Handy that!” He tucked the rod into his belt and picked a leaf out of Lady Tressa’s hair, “So I am assuming you have already contacted Home Office.”
“No, I was merely investigating when these plants abducted me.”
“I must say, Tessa, you have a talent.”
She pointed her finger at him, “Don’t start that again. Now send home office and I will fetch a maid to deal with him.”
He checked his pocket watch and then put it back in his coat, “No time, my dear. I was sent to get you, we have an assignment.”
“I’m on assignment and have sewing to do!”
“Nothing for it, come now I am sure the commotion will call someone to his aid.” He took her hand and headed into the hedges.
“But the Dress.”
“Come now, Tessa. We have things to do.”