The waiting game.

Ethan sat back, looking at the half elf upon the bed. His rickety chair was precariously balanced on two legs. His feet irreverently propped up on the bed beside Garrett’s hip.  The Captain was out, said she was going for food, but he was not sure if she had been telling the truth, or just needed a break from watching over her quartermaster.

The former mercenary ran a hand through his cropped hair. The memory of his sister cornering him in the tavern with a pair of shears in her hand and a determined gleam in her eye had him sighing loudly.

He had submitted to her whim, knowing she took comfort fussing over him. He remembered Sylvia’s sly comment about his hair colour and shook his head. Red had been raised in the same place as he, he had been certain before he saw her power. Living on a farm he had only gone to town on market days. He was better known in Altinova than Tarif. If they had met he did not remember.

He glanced back at Garrett. The Quartermaster’s chest was swelling and distorted, purple creeping over bronze skin as the bruising began to show.

The crew was in a sorry state if Ethan was the best healer on offer. He knew enough from watching the vigilantes in Olvia how to stop bleeding and prevent most wounds from becoming fatal.

Garrett’s injury was almost a mortal one. He had lost a lot of blood and if he moved too much broken bones risked shredding his wounded lungs further. At least he had not drowned in his own fluids. A swift knife to the chest cavity had stopped him dying. Ethan’s knife.

He listened as the man breathed. Still no rattle, that was good. No fever as yet and the last time he had checked his wounded sides the cuts had been clean and weeping clear fluid, another good sign. That however was the extent of his knowledge. He had some leaves the pirate could chew when he woke. They would ease the pain. Sylvia had been to the alchemist for potions too. Garrett had a good chance.

Ethan had been surprised when he had heard the half elf yell. It had not been an angry shout or battle cry. No this was the sound a wounded animal would make. It had shivered through him and before he knew it, he was turning to help the quartermaster. Not because he had to, or the Captain would wish him to, but because he felt compelled to do so.

He did not want to analyse why. It had happened; there was an end to it.

“You are one lucky bastard” he grumbled to the man on the bed. “After the shit you pulled in the brothel, I should have let you die”

Alright, he admitted he had found the brothel mildly amusing. It was not like he was inexperienced. It was just- any of those women could have been his sister. It was what she almost turned to. Crops failed, mother sick, him still a boy. The money she earnt at the tavern was not enough. He remembered watching her one night, head in her hands weeping- another bill delivered they could not pay. He remembered the quiet resolve that settled over her when the tears dried. He had not liked it. She was meant to smile, not have eyes hard as chips of jade.

In the end, she sold herself anyway. Not to a brothel, but to a man. She had deserved better. Leaving the place where she was understood must have been more than difficult. He turned his thoughts from her husband. That was over too, she was free.

He looked back down at the man on the bed. Sui liked this one and Garrett had vowed to look after Ethan because the sailor liked her in return; yet here Ethan was, saving his life. A’al had a sense of humour it seemed.

Yes, Garrett and his sister were friends. That he could cope with, but the half elf certainly did not deserve any more than that from her, though Ethan trusted Sui knew that. Still, he hesitated to contact her. They were in her largest trading hub. The Samara name was on the lips of trade princes. Use it and he could have a witch here or an alchemist. He could hire an entire brothel out to tend to Garrett’s every whim. Yet- that would connect his activities to Sui. They were supposed to hate each other. She the respectable one, he her wayward brother. It was a comfortable lie, gave him freedom and her protection.

The door rattled open and with a burst of sea air and sunlight the captain strolled in, loaf of bread under her arm. He grunted at her. He never knew what to say. It was not her rank or that he was intimidated, but she had a pair of very fine- legs. He could not help but admire. He was not stupid enough to make it obvious. He knew far too many men who thought with their libido first. He was pretty sure the Captain had killed enough of those and had no wish to add himself to the list. That other elf was fine too. All curves and cool professionalism. Made him want to tease and make her blush.  Did he have a thing for elves?

The Captain slumped down in the chair opposite and instead of scolding him for having his feet on the bed, copied his pose.

“No change?” she asked, looking at Garrett and not Ethan.

“No,” he responded, more sharply than he meant to. Silence settled on them. The creek of the Captain’s chair as she leant forward to place the bread on the table seemed over loud. Should he say something? His mind was unhelpfully blank.

“Ye saved his arse,” she whispered at last, sparing him his dilemma.

“Maybe,” he grunted hating the warm feeling that crept across his chest. “He still could die.”

The Captain pinned him with a fierce look, not at all diluted by the white strands of hair that had fallen from her bandanna and over her face.

“He won’t. Ye won’t let ‘im.”

It was an order if he ever heard one. She did not have to be specific. They both knew he could be doing more.

“Aye aye, Captain.” He breathed.

Moments later he was out in the sun, heading for a courier. It did not sit well with him, but he would have to involve her.  She would have to handle how to keep things quiet. Sui would manage, she always did. They were blood, after all. A little Mediahan bureaucracy stood no chance against that.

 

(With thanks to Rhea, for helping me make sure I had Yanna correct and to all who organised and who were at the event last night. Love and sloppy kisses to you all!)

Lodge and Lenewe

She sighed as she cleaned the bar, the sharp smell of beeswax thick in her nostrils

She had been so happy these last few weeks. So… content. She should have known it would not last.

He had been so angry. She did not understand why. All she had wanted to do was protect him. He was important to her. Would he do any less for her?

She was growing used to the chill in his aura, it was part of him. Nothing to fear. She had felt accepted… he was affectionate… wanted nothing from her. He was part guide, part friend. He also needed her, craved contact with her just as she had with him.

So unlike the other in her life. He was… afraid… did not understand, or perhaps want to understand.

She was being patient with him. Had been patient, her heart ripped to shreds over him and gathered back together by a sheer act of will. It was not his fault. She had never blamed him. Still, she craved closeness and Len had filled that gap nicely while she waited for her love to comprehend his own feelings.

Now Len was angry and had possibly compromised himself.

Omni had been in the bar. She remembered what she had felt from him in the Silverwastes. The same chill.

Then the other she met in the Flagon. They all spoke to her, seemed so reasonable. Wanted to befriend her. It was if the universe was laughing at her. She would have put a blade through them without a second thought a year ago.

Her dream, was it becoming a reality? Would she become what she feared without having any say in the matter?

Another thought haunted her. The ones she had killed in the mother’s name. What if they had not needed to die?

She finished polishing the bar and went down into the “Safe room” in the cellar. The real reason she worked in this bar. Her former wardens and associates had scoffed to find her working here. Oh how the Valiant had fallen. She cared little. She did what she had to. Those that criticised did not understand. Those she now worked for had resources. Resources she needed to access. She was still learning but she did have a natural feel for the work. Even enjoyed it.

She availed herself of pen and paper and wrote her request down. She needed help, help to see what should have been hers from the beginning. Her employers must know someone who could help. She sealed it in a steel tube and fixed it to the leg of dove from the cage in the corner. Cooing to the little bird and stroking it’s head she moved out of the cellar and back into the now very clean bar. She released the dove from behind the Lodge, watching it flap away.

So, her future in the hands of strangers. She hoped they valued her enough to help. She shook off her bleak mood and headed down the path after locking the door. She could wallow in self-pity or do something productive.

She did not go home that night, or the next. She had someone to find and the Reach was a big city.

First Steps

45th Colossus 1327AE

So yes, ‘lost’ my other journal, so starting afresh. New journal for a new life. Nope I don’t believe that either.

Well… There I was, brooding away in my camp, (Yes it was brooding, I admit it. Monumentally unhelpful self-pity,) when who should happen by but Ellros.

He asked after me. Mother, I wanted to hug that little body, he looked like a strong breeze would blow him over.

In his own… rather colloquial way, he cut through the ‘crap’ as he put it and said he had a proposition for me. Really? To open negotiations so abruptly? Had I been still trading I would have been smelling a desperation. Ellros however has very tight control of his aura. Must be exhausting to repress that much without being soundless. I can never manage it for long myself. Or rather I have not needed to in Orr and I am out of practice.

The Risen do not mind if I am sad or angry. They just make me pay if I let the emotions overcome my judgment. Fighting them has done me more than good. I am now more skilled with weaponry than I have ever been. Physically I don’t think I have ever been in such peak condition.

All that time behind the desk as Prime. I got soft. Hunt changed that.

So, I was asked to join the order of Whispers. Better than the Priory at least.

I was not sure… part of me leapt at the chance. I would have something else to distract me, take me from the forest and all that I left behind. Ease my guilt as I was being of use again, not selfishly chasing after the urgings of the hunt.

Yes I know. Valliant and all that, it’s an honour… (Still can’t see it that way no matter how hard I try.)

Part of me backed away. Arren’s trial, I had been asked to be there. Sprout was getting herself into no end of trouble back in the forest. Rhass, Thekrin, Pepper, Clu, Dex, Aggy, Liu, Argyle, Ver… the list of names continued to reel on through my mind. I avoided thinking of the name that sprang first to mind. Thekrin has told me to let him go, to stop hurting myself.

Could I really commit to something that would cause me to let Arren down again by not being there for him? Could I say yes and not be available to any of my former people until I was on leave? My hunt however, the burden would be shared. I would not fight the risen alone when we returned from deployment.

I would have an excuse to stay away from the forest. He did not want me there.

He did not want me.

Ellros did.

That was it, before I knew it I was being told to get into Vigil gear and we would depart at first light.

I was puzzled as I was given the armour by the quartermaster… then I realised.

Ellros was trying to make me stand out less, blend into the crowd a little. My face is well known.

“Good luck with that,” I muttered as I put the armour on. “I’m a giant blue female sylvari with a white glow. Not many around like me.”

I shoved the helm on my head and grumbled. It crushed my bark. I pulled it back off, hoping I could get away without wearing it. Yes…part of me is still a little vain even now.

It was then when I was nearly hit by a dove flopping out the sky. The poor thing was exhausted and the little message canister it carried had been redirected several times. I’m not that hard to find, am I?

“I need to speak with you urgently. Can’t move much.”

It was from Sprout.

My sap stilled. I had only just filled out the paperwork. I was a member of the pact. I could not just dash off without permission. This was the choice I feared I may have to face and it had happened with the ink still wet on my documentation.

Karma is a bitch.

Still, I had made my decision and was willing to accept what that entailed. I went to Ellros who was talking to Explorer Larxas. (The two are on good terms it seems. Yes Lar is Priory but not a stuck up icicle like most of them.) I named no names but asked to go back to Caledon. Ellros was evidently not pleased, but I was granted permission.

Alright that rubbed a little. Granted permission… stupid ego. I am bottom of the ranks again. Suck it up!

I digress.

I rushed back to the forest, fearing the worst. Cathal was in chaos.

One warden in open revolt, another admitting nightmare connections. I almost wanted to start snapping out orders but I bit my tongue. It’s not my job anymore and to do so would be to disrespect and undermine Pepper. She has enough to deal with.

I found Sprout, she was injured but standing. I was not exactly in a good mood having run from the gate in the Grove. Not even Rhass’ aura brushing over mine lifted my glare. The sapling must have run off, I could not find him after.

It was not as I suspected. Sprout had information for me.

She had been attacked by a wolf and under Verruh’s order.

I thought I may fall apart right there. She continued that he was wearing a scrap of silk that came from my clothing… blue… the silk I had bought in DR with Sprout. I dug for details despite my legs having turned to mush. How was she still alive? She was no match for him.

He had spared her. Not followed through on the order.

Mother help me, I felt hope. Delicious and fragile hope. I had to leave, or risk weeping. I could not let them all know the extent of my involvement… how far I had let myself slip in his case.

I wrote many a letter that night, including one I left in the forest for him to find.

It’s not in me to give up… and that is more curse than blessing.

I have hope… where I did not before.

I returned to fort trinity tired. I will not be back in the forest again for quite some time. I thought that would be the end for a while.

Of course it was not. New day, new problems.

Ellros… It’s not his real name. So the boss is a liar. Good to know. I’ll keep an eye on him, see what else he gives away. I get the impression though that he is, struggling with something. Having talked to the others, they just recently lost their leader and she will be a tough act to follow.

That is so close to my own experience it is not even funny. When Niu died I battled both grief, the fact I was in charge and people were dependent on me.

It was frightening but I rose to the challenge, never thought I would, but I did.

Len looks like he is at that turning point. He needs support but I am not sure he is going to get it. His team is fragmented and some almost hostile to him. If they don’t have each other’s backs then internal conflict can bleed over into the field. I have seen it happen. Trust is key or how do you know the orders you follow will keep you alive?

I don’t want to overstep the mark, I am just starting out, but I tried to at least show Len that I did not hold a grudge for his little lie and I was willing to learn and be a dependable member of the team. I kept the conversation light, he does not need any more on his back right now.

Abigail is intriguing. A mage that uses her power to see the world around her. Blind since birth she feels the air. She seems one of the coldest to Len but seemed friendly enough speaking to me. We got onto the topic of betrayal. (I guess I joined the right order)… she asked me if I ever got used to it.

“No, it still stings and burns. That does not stop me trusting. I have seen those who close themselves off, even tried it myself. It does not work. You only end up hurting yourself and driving those who do care from you.”

That hurt me to say, but I’m not about to lie to those around me… not unless I am forced to. I slept poorly that night, had much to think of. Got up early to help out at the kitchens. That Charr is appreciative of the help, I can tell by the way he has not hit me with a meat cleaver.

Liu came to see me. I did not expect he would and it was nice to see him. As usual with a case such as his, he already knew what he needed to do, he just needed to see things from a distance to come to the decision himself. By the time we spoke alone he already had an answer, I simply made sure he had thought it through.

This is the third time I had aided him in a crisis. He was genuinely grateful, although I did nothing really. Still, he asked if he could ever repay me. The words were out my mouth before I could hold them back.

“There is a large wolf in the forest. Some call him Verruh’s wolf but that is not true. If you see him, treat him gently. He struggles as you do.”

Mother… I truly am a pathetic creature. When will this end? When will I stop thinking about him and worrying? I have no pride… Liu took my request back to the forest with him. There is nothing more I can do. The wolf has to decide. I can only hope he chooses wisely.

Mother, I never asked for anything before… but I ask this. Get him out of that forest and away from those who seek to corrupt and confuse him. If I had stayed then…

No I can’t think like that. Not anymore. What has happened has happened. I have a new path now. The old may cross it at times but my steps are my own.

If only freedom were not such a heavy burden to carry alone.

I have seen Thekrin and his group. Rhass is also with them. I may have let slip that I was in the wastes to Rhass. He would come out here anyway. Better he does so while I am here to keep an eye on him.

Thekrin was… odd.

Stuttering like a sapling, trying to hide his face. I did not know what was wrong at first. I’ve been away from the forest too long I guess. Time was that many a sapling looked at me that way. Later on he whispered in my ear…

“Sorry to be weird, but that armour… wow.”

I spoke with him and Tea, she is not sleeping well either… eventually it was just myself and the sap… Thekrin (really must stop calling him sapling.)

I put my arm round him as we spoke of our hunts. Again his words gave me pause.

“There might be those who make you question the choices you have made, make you feel ugly inside but not me, You’ll always be beautiful to me, Suiri”

Am I reading too much into this? I know he had a sapling crush on me before but that was months ago and he moved on.

Sooner I get out this armour the better.