Finding Home

Quaxo9
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Re: Finding Home

Post by Quaxo9 »

Fira Nar

The combined healing from Anakita and Tempest eased her pain, but the moment the blade was removed from her chest cavity was bliss. She lay there, replaying the events over in her mind. How had this come about? She had no idea where Nairn had come from...oh. Fira had a sudden recollection of what had happened in the cave where they'd found Angus. Nairn had used some sort of portal to move Fira somewhere else. So why had the woman decided to pop right into her and stab her in the chest?

She opened her eyes and focused on Tempest. "Did everyone else make it? Any casualties?"

It had been her plan, after all. She'd be crushed if they'd lost someone. Besides - they had so much to do yet. Clear the camp. Guide the newcomers to it. Help them get going. Fira pushed herself up on her elbows and made to get her feet under her. She needed to get up and get going. She could deal with the crazy Norn later.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

The Rutherfords

"Don't stand quite yet," Tempest admonished lightly, moving as Fira did to try to keep her healing energy on the wound. Thank goodness Anakita had known not to try to remove the dagger; it seemed the Ranger had survival skills that lived up to the name. "Just give me a moment more. And no, I don't believe so. I haven't seen anyone fall, and no one else has called me for significant healing. Just some cuts and bruises here and there. Alright, that'll do for now. Though I think the battle is won."

Indeed, the bandits had been dispatched - dead or scattered, as a few decided that their hideout and some trinkets from travelers weren't worth their lives and had fled, abandoning their comrades. Tempest hoped that this day would make them rethink their lives and choices... unlikely though that might be. She said a brief, silent prayer for the Maker to watch over them and change their hearts. A shame any had to die. But such was the way of the world, and choices had to be made to save the innocent.

"I think Nairn was quite devastated by what happened," Tempest went on with deliberate casualness. "I don't get the impression she's made a mistake like that before."

***

Cullen, meanwhile, was approaching Nairn herself.

"We won," he said - perhaps unnecessarily, but he wasn't sure how aware she'd been of her surroundings toward the end.

He watched silently for a moment, noting the wet skin, the blood in the pool.

"No one will blame you, you know," he said finally. "We've all been there. Battles are chaotic. Confusing. Hard to tell friend from foe. There's a reason everyone knows what the phrase 'friendly fire' means. It happens."
Quaxo9
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Finding Home

Post by Quaxo9 »

Fira Nar

Distracted as she was by thoughts of next steps, it took Fira a moment to catch up with what Tempest said. She stared at the healer for a long moment.

"Thank-you Tempest - for the healing. I'm not sure what would have happened if you hadn't come when you did." Fira paused, looking down at the dagger lying next to her, still covered in her blood. "If she didn't mean to, why did she do her portal thing right into me?"

She asked it as an honest question - there was no accusation in her voice. Fira didn't doubt Tempest's statement on Nairn's state of mind, but she couldn't quite parse out what had happened.


Nairn Tuckamore

She'd jumped and unsheathed her dagger half-way when Cullen first spoke. Her senses dulled, she hadn't heard him approach. The dagger in her hand made her inwardly wince. Was she drawing points on all their allies now? She pushed it back into its sheath, turning her head to look at Cullen while resting it on top of her knees.

"Sssshe was ssstanding on my sh-sh-shadow portal." She offered in explanation.

Of course, it wasn't fair to lay the blame wholly on Fira. Nairn should have been aware that her portal return wasn't safe. Should have noticed that it was a friend next to her.

"But it is...my fault. I....ssshould not have come."

Travelling with a band of adventurers or soldiers was something everyone else seemed accustomed to. Some even seemed to enjoy it. Nairn, admittedly, had been experiencing higher degrees of stress with every passing day and every additional party member. It was like she was trapped, though she had the ability to move around as she chose. It was her free will that seemed to be tethered. It had been her choice to help stop the words from collapsing, true, but she hadn't quite anticipated what that would entail.

"I'm not good with...people."
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

The Rutherfords

Tempest nodded sympathetically. "I believe..." she said. "I don't know for sure. But I believe that this happened because magic is like any other weapon."

Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him.
Foul and corrupt are they
Who have taken His gift
And turned it against His children...


The words echoed in her head, embedded there since childhood, and she shook her head to clear it.

"Of course, magic has the potential to be more dangerous, its effects more widespread and catastrophic. Some even call it addictive or corrupting. But fundamentally, in the moment of battle, wielding magic as a weapon is no different than wielding a sword. In the chaos of the fight, it is only as well-directed as the person directing is able to make it. All this to say... I think Nairn made a mistake. As I understand it, she was using that portal throughout the battle, to useful effect. Perhaps she got confused. Perhaps her concentration wandered. Of that, you would have to ask her. But I truly believe she made a mistake. Nairn may be gruff at times, but I do not believe she has ill intent toward a comrade."

***

"I imagine it must be hard," Cullen said. He noted that Nairn's speech patterns were slipping, her S's becoming more drawn out. "But you're doing well. This moment aside - which as I said, could have happened to any of us. I know you're making an effort. You're doing well. I hope you will continue to do so. You're a valuable ally. I would hate to see this shake your confidence in yourself."
Quaxo9
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Re: Finding Home

Post by Quaxo9 »

Fira Nar

She considered Tempest's explanation and decided that she was very likely right. While Nairn was weird, she certainly hadn't given any indication that she was the backstabbing type. Or side stabbing as the case may be. Fira nodded and stood, stretching her arms as they hadn't exactly been given a proper cool down after the battle.

Turning, she spotted Githia and headed in the young woman's direction.

"Hey, want to head back to the camp and see if it's going to meet your group's needs?" She turned in the direction of the camp and grimaced at the smudge of smoke in the sky. "Oh. Oh I guess that was kind of a bad idea. Sorry. I didn't think. I was just...getting...rid...of......bandits."

The argonian seemed to deflate with every word. Fira took a sudden breath, "But maybe it's not too bad! I'll go put out whatever is still burning!"


Nairn Tuckamore

Her finger traced an unusual symbol in the mud along the riverbank. Cullen didn't have to be here, she knew. He had sought her out simply to be kind to her and she found that strangely comforting. He was also right. Now was no time to doubt herself. Not here, worlds away. Not now, when entire races of beings struggled for existence. Her trifles seemed so...small...in light of what they were here to do.

She lifted her head enough to almost make eye contact with Cullen and nodded once before pushing herself slowly to her feet.

"I will...s...talk to Fira. Explain." her lips pressed together and seemed to be fight against opening again. So she nodded once more to Cullen in as close an approximation to a thanks as she could give at the moment. She dog-tracked her way back up the bank and toward the former bandit camp, assuming that their people would be checking the area for traps and the like.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

The Rutherfords

Githia looked puzzled for a moment, not quite sure what Fira was apologizing for... then saw the smoke. She tried to hide her grimace. "Oh. Um. I'm sure it will be fine. I'll help you put it out."

The Tiefling tried - and failed - to look nonchalant, as if she was not even slightly worried that their new home was going to burn to the ground before they had a chance to move in.

But of course, it did not. They would have the living space they were promised. Safety, for now. But there was more work to be done. Escaping the Duke's land reduced the immediate threat, but they remained refugees with little protection in the middle of an even greater crisis. Addressing that was the next step.

"A suggestion, if I may," Cullen said. "I think it would be most prudent to move our party's camp here with the Tieflings for the time being. Since we're not trying to hold land on a regional level, only a very local one, there's no point trying to defend multiple locations. If we are throwing in our lot with the Tieflings - which it seems we have done fairly definitively at this point - we would do better pooling our resources."

No one objected to that.

"I have one as well," Tempest added. "We have two critical priorities now: moving the Tieflings here and preparing to defend them by moving our own resources in too, and parlaying with the elves. I would suggest that we split into two groups, and work on both at the same time. More hands will be needed for the move, and we don't want to look to the elves like a hostile invasion force, so I would suggest the bulk of the group remain here."

The group going to meet with the elves was quickly decided. Tempest and Angus both had diplomatic skills, as well as a potential connection to the elf leader via Aimosh. Cullen would join them, to provide strategic justifications for their request if things went well, and an extra sword if things went badly. Ulga would join them too, providing local knowledge, while Githia's role in the group was to continue to act as ambassador for her own people. And (though Tempest managed to hide her surprise) Nairn wanted to join that group as well.

Everyone else would stay and help with the camp move and setup, which Fira was asked to take the lead on organizing.

Before they left, Tempest pulled Fira aside quietly and requested that Angus be given a sleeping spot in the center of the group; she knew he was still waking many times during the night and suffering from nightmares. The presence of his friends seemed to help.

Aimosh - still feeling guilty for the trouble he'd caused Tempest, although she assured him it was alright - agreed without hesitation to ask Farsight to meet with them... though he took care to emphasize that he had no particular pull with Farsight, and passing on their request was all he could do.

To Tempest's surprise, after only a brief wait, a messenger informed them that Farsight would see them, and directed them to a nondescript inn in a grimy back alley.

The inn was, of course, full of wary elves. But within the room they were directed to, the leader sat alone, his back to them. When they entered, he stood and turned to them. His hood obscured his face, and the fire on the hearth behind him threw odd shadows across the walls.

"Welcome, friends," he said. As he stood and turned, Tempest noticed a decided hitch in his movements, a difficulty standing and walking even the short distance to the hearth. She wondered if he was sitting not to be casual, but because he had no choice.

The healer may have been trying to be discreet, but Ulga stared openly. That voice. That limp.

"Melar? Melar Sadus. It's you, isn't it?"

Farsight laughed, and let his cloak fall away from his face. "Ulga Lyrius! Forgive me... you go by Ulga gra-Shatul now, do you not? A good change, I think. I did not expect to see you here - though I should have - nor for you to immediately give away my current identity. No one else has guessed."
Quaxo9
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Finding Home

Post by Quaxo9 »

Nairn Tuckamore

It wasn't that she was afraid of a little hard work. Moving the tieflings was, of course, more than a little hard work, but that really wasn't it. No, the problem was more all the people. All those bodies moving in almost tandem. Milling about. She didn't want that. Right now.

Or maybe, just maybe, she didn't know what to say. To Fira.

That was probably the reason closest to truth. No, it was. She, Nairn Tucakmore, was a coward.

She would talk to Fira, of course. Apologize. When she figured out what to say. Which...she hadn't yet. So, she needed someplace else to be and conveniently an opportunity presented itself in the form of a diplomatic mission. Fewer people, and with the company, she knew she wouldn't be expected to speak. Convenience aside, she was a bit curious as to how they were going to work out some sort of joint refugee coordination between the elves and the tieflings.

As they approached the meeting place, Nairn discreetly dropped a shadow portal...then closed it. Who knew who might be standing there if they ported through in a hurry? No, better to port to places she could see. Hopefully they wouldn't need a quick escape.

The inn was a little full for her liking and she again wished she'd found another cloak with a hood before leaving on this particular journey. It felt like everyone was staring at her, even though the more rational part of her brain acknowledged that the entire group was receiving attention as due a group requesting an audience with an important person of a cause.

It quickly became apparent that there would be no need for knives or a hasty retreat. Nairn let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding and took a moment to back herself against the wall and observe elusive Farsight and his interactions with Ulga. It pleased her, somehow, that Ulga had changed her last name. She didn't know the why, or the significance, but the change had been declared a good thing and Nairn of all people could understand that.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

The Negotiation

"But forgive me," Melar said. "You came here to negotiate, not to listen to us reminisce. Ulga, let's catch up later?" The Orc nodded, and he went on, "What is it that you came to ask of me?"

"It's about the Tieflings..." Tempest began. "Perhaps you have heard of their situation?"

Melar nodded. "My people have brought me reports. No doubt confused and exaggerated, but I understand the gist of the issue."

"Then you understand how precarious their circumstances are," Tempest told him. "They are a small minority population in a situation of great conflict. They have no allies at present, and that is what we came here hoping to build. An alliance. If you provide support to them, they will provide support to you as well."

"And what kind of support will they offer?" Melar's tone was interested but carefully neutral.

"They have some fighters," Cullen said. "Their own compliment of weapons and supplies, so their needs will likely be minimal compared to the benefits they bring. We are not talking about great numbers, here, of course, but that can be advantageous as that means little resource investment on your part."

A slight frown creased Melar's brow, and his words were careful. "Please understand that I am not in any way unsympathetic to the Tieflings' plight. I can only imagine how difficult it is to navigate this. But my own resources are scant, and spread thin as it is. I simply do not have more that I can spare, much as I regret to deny them." He sighed, clearly not happy with this outcome and still casting about. "You say you have fighters? Surely they will be able to protect their own for a time, and perhaps when we have won our current battle, we can..."

There was silence for a moment.

Then Githia spoke up. "They will not be able to. We have only a handful of fighters. Mostly civilians. Many children. We are tired and ill-equipped. When we talk about survival now, we speak of lasting the day, perhaps to the next. These adventurers have helped us, but it's only a temporary reprieve. We are vulnerable to any who would take from us. The hope that sustains us is that the children will survive somehow and have better lives than we did, but that looks less and less possible with every passing hour."

Cullen's face fell; his strategic argument was now tidily blown out of the water.

"I see," Melar said, his expression blank now. "Thank you for your honesty."

Surely it was over, wasn't it? He had said no... hadn't he? But Melar made no move to dismiss them. Tempest waited silently, holding her breath, unsure what she was waiting for.

Then...

"Very well," Melar finally said. "I accept your offer of an alliance."

Githia was caught off balance. "I... thank you. What are your terms?"

"The terms are as your mage proposed: I will provide the support to your people that I can, and you will do the same for mine. That is all I require. I have no additional terms."

Hope flared in Githia's heart, but she couldn't bear to raise it only for it to be dashed again. "You realize that there is very little we can do for you? Maybe nothing."

"Yes," Melar said, turning his gaze to stare off into the fire for a moment. "You made that clear, and as I said, I am grateful that you were forthright. But I do not simply stand back and let children die."

And that, it seemed, was the end of the negotiation.
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

At the Camp, A Short Time Later

The visitor hoped he was in the right place. Time was running short.

When he arrived at the camp, he asked for the leader, and was vaguely directed a few times until he found the Argonian in question. Well, that at least was promising.

His face was shadowed with a cloak, a bulky garment that obscured much of his physical form, though appearances did at least suggest he was a Mer. He was slight of frame, and weighed down by the burden he carried, something heavy that was securely wrapped in a blanket.

The effort and exertion were plain in his voice as he asked Fira quietly, "Have you seen the twin lamps?"
Monkey Kitty
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:31 pm

Re: Finding Home

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Ulga gra-Shatul and Melar Sadus

Before they left the inn, Ulga took a moment to speak alone with Melar.

"Thank you," she said sincerely.

"Of course," he replied. "I will do what I can. I hope it will be enough."

"I should have figured out it was you, you know. A mysterious hooded and cloaked elf fighting an impossible uphill battle for justice? Who else could it be?"

Melar chuckled. "Touché! I do seem to have rather a pattern, don't I? But so do you."

Ulga smiled. "Indeed. But tell me, how have you been? It's been awhile."

"I've been keeping busy, as you see. There's always more work to be done. Even after... well. After..."

"Yes. After Suran. Have you talked to anybody? About what happened?"

Melar looked genuinely puzzled. "Of course not. What is there to talk about? I recovered as much as I could, and adjusted to the rest. I have found a way to make myself useful again. That's all I need."

"Is it? I have never doubted your strength, Melar. I have never doubted your courage. But you try to do everything alone. The whole world always falls on your shoulders, no matter how admittedly impossible the task. No one can live like that."

"They depend on me."

"I know they do. I know. And I'm not suggesting that you back down from your responsibilities - nor would you, under any circumstances. But accept a little help, maybe? Or just a conversation? Can you come to dinner?"

"It is difficult for me to participate in such events. There are certain expectations..."

"I'm not talking about some diplomatic event. I'm not inviting Farsight to a political occasion. I'm inviting Melar. My friend. To come to dinner."

"You... wish to speak of Suran?"

"No. We don't have to talk about that. I won't bring it up if you don't."

"Then... hmm. Perhaps."
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