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  1. #11
    Stefan Baruch




    Stefan hadn't really thought about their relationship that way - the way someone could see it looking in from the outside. He just knew he was happy. That he was glad it was permanent, that this happiness wouldn't be fleeting. Usually on the rare occasions when he considered how other people would see their marriage, he imagined them asking themselves how a hero like Anakita had ended up with an ordinary footsoldier like him... at least, that was how he saw himself. It was refreshing to hear Nairn's take on it.

    "Thank you," he said sincerely.

    When Nairn's eyes flicked back to the papers, Stefan's instinctively did too, although he wasn't standing close enough to read the words.

    "What are you working on?" Stefan asked. "If you don't mind my asking."

    It was just friendly curiosity, not an attempt to pry, but things seemed to be going well and he didn't want to make their meeting awkward.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 12-11-2012 at 10:57 AM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #12
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    Personal happiness was something the self-appointed observer of life had only just begun to appreciate and reciprocate. When Stefan admitted the depth of love he had for his wife, Nairn had smiled - something she would never had thought to do before. It was unlikely that she herself was even noticing the small changes in her behaviour. Some things would never change, however, and one of those things was her relationship with paper.

    Nairn loved paper. She loved what was written on it even more. Information, gleaned from days long past gave her glimpses into what life had been like eons ago, clever anecdotes, solutions to forgotten mysteries – and of course – the odd spell, enchantment or magick. It was her obsession with information that had led her to the spell that had ultimately freed the man standing before her.

    The current target of her research was causing some issue, however, and there was no internal debate about whether to answer Stefan’s question. He was likely to be able to help her as the past perhaps would not be so muddied for someone who had lived there.

    hhI hham trying to trrrace my family hhistorry.” Nairn admitted, more concerned about the fact that she was partially conceding defeat, than by asking for assistance.

    hhIt was rrrrevealed to me that hhI hham a desscendent of Conssstance Terrpein, hhone of your past guild mates. hhI hham now looking forrr my family line but...” Here she paused, and the wrinkle returned to the spot between her eyebrows. “therrre arre a numberrr of Terrpeins hhin these recorrrds. Was hhit a common name, orr perrrhaps hhused as a euphemissm forrr ‘trraderr’?”

    She was being modest in her use of the words ‘a number of’ to describe the sheer number of references to the name Terpein she had found. These particular records were from a Dwarven village nestled in the middle of the Shiverpeaks, not far from Yak’s Bend. How they arrived in Hoelbrak in the care of Old Fiach, she had no idea – likely because she had not asked. Nairn had found when it came to collections, it was best not to ask those sorts of questions.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  3. #13
    Stefan Baruch




    Stefan hadn't realized that Nairn had an interest in genealogy. It made sense, though, given her interest in history and lore - a family was both, after all. It had never really occurred to Stefan to trace his own roots. He knew quite a bit about his maternal side of the family just from stories told around the hearth when he was a boy, but he knew almost nothing about his paternal side, including his father. Certainly he'd wondered - who wouldn't? - but he'd never done anything to delve into the past. It was a rather painful thought, since his remaining relatives had been killed in the Searing, but perhaps it would be worthwhile for his children to know someday.

    Anakita knew more about her family line, but tracing it for the Snakecharms had involved more figuring out who was entitled to what share of the inheritance and could lay claim to what noble title than preserving memories.

    It interested Stefan that Nairn seemed so intent on searching for her roots, and he was glad that the Terpeins were a subject about which he might be of some help.

    "I had no idea you were related to Constance," he said. "Anakita and I knew her, although Anakita knew her better than I did; you should ask her sometime. Constance was an admirable person. Anakita and I respected her very much. It's a proud heritage to bear."

    He smiled slightly at her question about the Terpeins, although of course his tone of voice couldn't change. "I suppose you could say it was a common name, but only because the Terpeins were so... prolific," he said, only half in jest. "They tended to bear large families, and their sons and daughters went on to bear large families too. You'll find a lot of them in the Shiverpeaks, but my guess is that if you're related to Constance, you're related to just about all of them in some way or another."

  4. #14
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The Norn nodded her head as if to confirm that Stefan wouldn’t have known about her distant relation to Constance. A smile came to her face, however, when he gave his opinion. Even though this human woman was her relation seven generations back, it still came as a source of pride to know that she had been someone people of the day could look up to.

    Of course, looking at the snarl of the Terpein family tree, not all her roots could be so fortunate to have borne good fruit. All of these people were technically related to her family line, however far removed, and so she had an interest in who they were and where they went. She was still smiling at the thoughts surrounding a ‘prolific’ family such as the Terpeins as she acknowledged Stefan’s helpful confirmation of her theory.

    “That perrrhapss makesss thingss a little morrre difficult, though it iss good to know forrr ccerrtain. hhI ssshall hhave to cassst my net widerrr.”

    However, the histories of their offspring were not of primary importance to Nairn. Something much more immediate plagued her mind.

    hhI hadmit, hhI had read much of the hhannals of the Nouvel hhOrdre, but paid little hhattention to Consstance Terrrpein.”

    Nairn left out the part about how she had broken into the old guild vault and raided the documents locked within. She had transcribed the reports and anecdotes that had interested her into Norn and eventually returned the originals. Normally, the thief would have let it suffice to have passed on the knowledge to her own people (when she deemed fit). But, as Sonja Redflame had informed her that the guild hall of the Nouvel Ordre de Phoenix was the end point of her quest, she decided that it should add to the education of the newest incarnation of the guild as well.

    Shuffling some papers, she located a page of bulleted notes, along with a simple family tree with spokes leading off the sides of the pages. When she spoke, it was as though she had just discovered a great mystery that would change all of Tyria.

    hhI know ssshe wass a hhuman warrrriorrrr, that ssshe wass frrom the Ssshiverrrpeaks and that ssshe marrried a Norrn known as Gysssir the hhOptimissst. Ssshe hhad a daughterrr, Trrreissss, which hhultimately led to hhher demissse. Hhherr death sssomehow ssstarrted a blood feud, perrrhaps ssseverrring the ties of Gysssir and Trreisss to the Guild as therre hharrre no furrtherr hhentrries therrre.”

    Of course, none of this information would be surprising for Stefan to hear. Undoubtedly, he had heard all this before. Yet, to Nairn, it was news. Not much news, but something, at least. The Norn settled back on her stool, physically moving herself further away from the pages so she could regard Stefan without distraction. As usual, her face was inscrutable, not for an effort to conceal her feelings, but more as a result of never having learned their proper portrayal upon a face. She shrugged, using the motion to help her inhale after such a long discourse.

    hhAnd ssso, hhI searrch forrr whisssperrrsss hhin namesss on pagesss. hhIt isss...difficult, hhand yet, my besst chancce at finding the hhidentity hhof my parrrents. hhI hhave sssearrrched forrr yearrss and thiss isss the firrssst prrrogrress hhI have made.”

  5. #15
    Stefan Baruch




    Stefan nodded to confirm what Nairn said about Constance. "It was tragic," he said. "She died far too early. Anakita and I will tell you about it if you want - when we can do it properly, that is, toasting to her memory by the hearth in the Great Lodge. It will make more sense if we start at the beginning. To the extend blood feuds ever make sense, that is..."

    He felt the tingling sensation that indicated a flashback coming on.

    Steel on steel. Blood soaking fur and fire scorching skin. Shouts of battle and screams of agony ringing in the damp, musty, close air of the tunnel far underground...

    Stefan suppressed the memory with effort, and very deliberately went on, trying to signal to Nairn that, although she would surely notice his struggle, talking about it would only make it worse. Distracting himself would make it fade faster than dwelling on it.

    "I'm no genealogist," he said. "But may I make a suggestion? The Terpeins are so numerous that trying to pin down which of them you're directly related to will be an impossible task if you start with the premise that it could be any of them. I think you could narrow it down starting at the other end - who raised you, and the first place you remember living - and see which Terpeins connect to that context. That would give you a starting point."

    He shrugged, and suddenly self-conscious, he added, "Or maybe that's a stupid suggestion. Like I said. I don't know much at all about these things."

    This discussion was starting to give him an idea, though. Maybe there was something he ought to be searching for, too. If the right moment came at some point, he would ask for Nairn's advice on how to go about it.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 12-20-2012 at 05:49 PM.

  6. #16
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    Having first-hand accounts of an event so long ago no one remembered it – from reputable sources, to boot – almost made Nairn giddy. The excitement of discovery was familiar to her and was not at all dulled by the fact it centred on the death of the person whom she now considered to be her primary ancestor. The floating feeling dissipated as she watched something come over Stefan. Something like a shadow. A darkness.

    It must have been a memory – of what, the Norn could only guess – and he pressed on with their current topic instead of allowing himself the distraction. Once again, she had to admit that she was impressed by the human warrior. His force of will was surely on par with Anakita’s. However Stefan was moving through his haunting, it seemed that he somehow passed it on to Nairn.

    ‘...who raised you...’ he had said. Certainly, it was a good idea. Nairn could see that the Terpein end of things was convoluted at best. It made sense to start with what and who she knew – but there was the trouble. She knew enough about Astrid to make her not want to know more. As a girl, she had wondered why the stoic Norn woman had taken her in and raised her. It always felt as though there was a sense of obligation hanging between them, but Astrid had never made the origin of that obligation clear.

    In fact, she had made few things clear. What she did teach Nairn was how to hold onto anger until it became resentment, and resentment until it became bitterness. When Astrid died, Nairn had felt a sense of loss, true, but was it grief if there was no love lost?

    At this point, she realized that she had been scowling into a space directly below Stefan’s face. Blinking, she considered making some sort of restitution. Surely, he had give her a lot of personal information today. Perhaps...perhaps she could trust him with some of hers?

    “No. hhIt isss a fine hhidea. hhI hhaave...avoided it assss the woman who rrraised me wass...” Cruel? Unfeeling? Indisposed? Violent? “not a motherrr.” That about summed it up. Nairn leaned back on the stool again, letting out a long breath and crossing her arms. Her eyes were looking in the direction of the wall in behind the warrior, but they were focussed on a place much further away.

    hhI believe ssshe felt sssome obligation toward me. Perrrhapsss it isss time to find out why.”

    Nairn had a feeling she’d be disappointed by the answer, but Stefan was right – it was a path worth pursuing at least for a little while. She shrugged absently, a slight smile finally breaking up the serious mien and her eyes returning to the man before her.

    One neverrr knowss what drrivesss anotherrr to do what they do. That iss one of the reasssonsss hhI like what hhI do.”

    Here, she gestured at the papers lying before her on the table. It was obvious that she was referring to the study of history and stories – not to her ‘other’ occupation that had given her the reputation she carried. The one that kept her from returning to the town in which she had been raised.

  7. #17
    Stefan Baruch




    "I understand," Stefan said when Nairn told him that her caretaker had not been a mother, and spoke of obligation.

    He felt he should make some sort of comforting gesture, but he also wouldn't presume to make physical contact with Nairn. Instinctively, his palm came to rest on the table, in what would have been a silent expression of solidarity if Nairn's hand had been beneath it instead of bare wood.

    Stefan didn't have any personal experience with that sort of childhood. He'd never known his father, but his mother and his extended maternal family had been warm and loving. Anakita had spoken of her grandparents viewing her and her brother as an obligation, though. She had never felt they loved her, only that propriety left them no choice but to take in their orphaned grandchildren. Stefan thought that even more than the death of her original parents, that had been why Anakita had been so willing to claim Forgal as a surrogate father. That was why she had needed him. Forgal had no obligation to her at all; he had become 'Dad' because he respected her and wanted to be, and that had healed the wounds that being treated as something of a burden by her grandparents had left.

    Nairn presumably had wounds also, and Stefan felt for her. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else he could do about it besides feel.

    "I know it will be painful," Stefan said. There was empathy in his eyes, but not pity. He couldn't imagine himself ever thinking Nairn required pity; she was too strong in her own right. "But if you persevere through it, maybe you'll find something that will ease the hurt of it. Family, perhaps - or at least the memory of one. In addition to the guild family you already have, of course."

    With a smile, he added, "I would be happy to help in any way you like, and I'm sure Anakita will say the same. We could accompany you on your search, if it would be useful. We're not scholars like you, but we would do our best, and we could watch your back while you worked. I also wondered..." He twisted his hands together in sudden self-consciousness. "I had an idea for a project, and I'd appreciate your advice about how to go about it, if you have time and you don't mind."

  8. #18
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The Norn stared at the comparatively small hand resting on the table before her. The way Stefan’s fingertips had lightly pressed against the wood grain, his palm hovering, gave the impression not of leaning but of giving the desk his strength. She felt strangely comforted by this – and wasn’t sure why.

    Perhaps it was a memory, like he said. Stefan was right – this course of action would be painful. Nairn was certain that what she’d find out about Astrid would be unpleasant and would lend a certain air to her recollections of her time with the woman. Time and information had a way of distorting the past’s feelings on one situation or another. But, she was curious and so much of her life had been wrapped up in not knowing, she believed it was finally time to move on.

    hhI would be glad to have yourrr company...hhand yourr aid. The Norrrn of Lorrnarrrss Passs call me ‘the hhUnwelcome’ forr a rrreassson.”

    A dry smirk crept across her lips as she allowed the name they’d given her to tumble out. It had always been a source of amusement for Nairn, despite what it literally meant. What she recalled was the story of how her name came to be – namely in the course of the stupidity of others.

    The coarse look disappeared, however, as soon as Stefan mentioned a ‘project’. She didn’t notice his nervousness, but sought out his face instantly. Straightening, she pulled her stool closer to the table and leaned over it, coming the closest she’d been to him in their entire conversation. Her attention was complete, so her words were few.

    hhA prrroject? Tell me.”

  9. #19
    Stefan Baruch




    Stefan grinned when Nairn mentioned her nickname, and replied, "I bet there's a good story behind that."

    If Nairn had seemed upset or traumatized, he would have offered comforting words, but since she seemed amused, he decided a lighthearted response was best. He knew all too well how provincial people could be when someone fell outside their expected norms.

    When she asked about his project, he was pleased by her interested reaction, and said, "It's research into a bit of Norn genealogy, actually. A gift for Anakita. I'm sure she told you about her adoptive father, Forgal Kernsson. She misses him a lot. I'm sure the grief will become less raw, but as time passes, she also becomes more aware of the depth of the loss. There's not much I can do about that, other than offer her my comfort and support. It also bothers her that we were never able to recover his body. She was with him when he died, but it's very likely that his corpse became Risen. Some of the Risen in Sparkfly Fen taunted her about that, and she was pretty shaken - Risen aren't smart enough to manipulate or engage in psychological warfare by making up lies. She's afraid some part of him is still out there, suffering. We've looked for him in Orr, but... found nothing. And there's not a damn thing I can do about that either."

    He sighed at his own helplessness in the situation, and went on, "There's one thing I can do for her, though. I wanted to find out about Forgal's family line. I don't think he has much in the way of living relatives, but perhaps if she could learn more about her adopted heritage, it would help her feel connected to him again. I think they were a pretty prominent family; Kern was the last Dolyak shaman, so I don't think it would be too hard to find some records. I just... don't know where to start, and that was what I could use your advice about."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 01-06-2013 at 05:55 PM.

  10. #20
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    Continuing in the spirit of conviviality, Nairn gave Stefan a toothy grin.

    hhOh, therrrre isss, but it hiss a betterr tale when they tell it. They sssay hhI killed ssseven men.”

    A strange, high-pitched chortling sound reverberated off the room’s walls. It seemed an almost impossible noise for the Norn to make – and clearly she was willing to let him think that. Her head tucked low, she had stared at the pages in front of her until Stefan had mentioned his project.

    Her interest in his enquiry never faded, though her brows drew together in thought as he explained. Nairn knew of Forgal Kernsson – of his life, his accomplishments, and his untimely death. Anakita had indeed told her about Forgal’s adopting her, not that the sometimes-thief had entirely understood. At the very least, Nairn understood how Anakita was taking on the role of a Norn kith – she remembered Forgal and told his stories. It was amazing how something so essential to Norn culture could cross the very boundaries the races had set up between them.

    hhI can help.” She was nodding even as her left hand picked up a quill and began daubing unintelligible lines on a blank piece of paper. “hhI know wherre hhI can find sssome rrecorrrdss of the sssshamanss – though therrre iss no longerrr a ssshrrine built sspecccifically forrr Dolyak. Leave it to me.”

    The records she sought would more than likely be found in the Durmand Priory. Not a member herself, Nairn would likely have to use some ‘alternate’ methods to obtain said records. She didn’t wish to trouble Stefan with the details, so she left it at that. Still, she wished there were more she could do to ease Anakita’s suffering. Something more than simple words on a page. Something to ease her spirit.

    Here, Nairn paused, even in her writing. Not a spiritual-type herself, she often ignored the shrines and worshipers. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe that the sprits didn’t interact with the Norn, it was that she didn’t believe they made the Norn any more powerful. They were a crutch on a bad day, a rallying point on a good. Still, the influence they exhibited over her people was great and they did give gifts to a chosen few. Hesitantly, she continued.

    “You may consssiderr a trrrip to the Wildssspine Hillsss. hhIt iss sssaid that the ssspirit of Dolyak iss clossessst therre. Perrrhaps...perrrhaps hhAnakita may gain sssome hinssight therre asss well. If not hhinsssight, maybe peaccce?”

    It was a wild suggestion, but she knew that spiritual things often meant more to those who went looking for them.

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