16th of Midyear, Morning, the Oasis
Meg was feeling much better today, as it were. Now that she could stand up and walk with less of a limp than the previous day, she was beginning to feel less of a burden to the group and somewhat more confident in herself. It still irked her terribly that she had managed to get shot while they were escaping. It seemed like such a stupid thing- she had spent years travelling through dangerous places and situation and survived without too many scratches. Yet the one time she needed to be in best shape, not just for herself but for others, she ended up getting the worst injury of her life.
However, they were all there. They were all alive and well, relatively anyway. Daro'Vasora and Latro were back with them, and they had all managed to escape the dwemer without getting caught- well, not all. Alim wasn't there with them. It was a blow to the morale, but Meg trusted her companions. If they had managed it once, she was sure they could do it again. They had to.
She wasn't quite sure if they had needed to align themselves with the three newcomers, however. Sevari she recognized, and still felt more than intimidated by him. She knew Jaraleet was his friend, but that didn't have to mean he thought she was more than a nuisance. She could still hear his words from the night when he had saved their hides from being riddled in holes- never before had she been so relieved yet depressed at the same time. And what of the other khajiit, Zaveed? Meg had done a double take when she first saw the man, reminding her of J'raij at first glance. A second and third glance however proved that despite the similar hair and markings, they didn't look much the same after all. It was a relief, now that she thought of it. She didn't want such a wicked and dangerous person reminding her of someone she had cared for deeply.
And then there was the woman, some Redguard who no one knew anything about. Why was she with those two? Was she promised something? Maybe their prisoner?
Chewing the hunk of bread she'd found, Meg was so consumed in her own thoughts that she didn’t realize someone else was there until she walked into them. “Oh, sorry-” She blinked and moved back, eyeing the woman who stood before her. “Y’look differen’.” She was sure the last time she saw this woman, she had been wearing a tunic of another colour. Her hair had been longer as well; now it was pretty much the same length as hers.
Sirine took a step back as well, glad she’d had the sense to carry a rucksack rather than just hold things willy nilly in her hands. Smiling mildly, she looked the Nord woman over before speaking up. “As do you,” she commented. “It seems your injury has somewhat abated. That is good.” She waited a couple of moments, wondering if the Nord had anything else to chime in, but after a little silence, she nodded and started off again. “Well then, see-”
“Wait!” Turning around, she saw Megana looking at her sheepishly. “That’ er… wasn’ real polite of me. Sorry ‘bout tha’. I was jus’ surprised is all.”
Meg lifted a hand, about to rub the back of her head to relieve herself of awkwardness, but then she had an even better idea. Breaking the hunk of bread she still held, she offered the unblemished half to Sirine, a wary but since look on her face. “Y’must be hungry, I’m bettin’?” She really didn’t know what to make of this woman, but perhaps some offering of goodwill could help. Maybe she could even find out a why.
“Oh… thank you.” The former pirate reached out and took the piece of bread, the mild look on her face shifting to one of surprise before returning to its former self. Immediately she wondered why the younger woman would be offering her something to eat. She didn’t expect it to be poisoned or anything like that… it just surprised her. She took a bite and chewed thoughtfully, taking her time as she did so.
“Er…” Meg looked a little uncertain now. Did she not like it? Did it taste bad? It was nice enough for the Nord woman, albeit a little dry without anything to drink. “Is it a’ight?”
“Oh, yes,” Sirine replied, sending a smile the woman’s way. “My apologies, I simply didn’t expect to be handed something to eat from someone I hardly know.” Was this a common thing for the people here? She did recall Ursa and Floki doing the same whenever a newcomer joined their crew. It was ‘making them feel at home’.
As it turned out, her suspicions weren’t far from right. Meg rubbed the back of her head before giving the Imperial Redguard a sheepish smile. “Well, you’re kinda part of the group now, y’know? Even if it it's only been for a li’l while. ‘Sides, y’gave me tha’ potion in the wagon, the health potion? Really helped with the pain and got me sleepin’ for a bit.”
“Ah, I see.” So it was to repay her for her favour. Now that made quite a lot of sense. When she had given the girl one of the health potions she’d salvaged before leaving the tavern, the former pirate hadn’t really been thinking about being repaid, rather she had expected the Nord woman to forget about it. She wouldn’t have minded or felt hurt either. “So you consider me part of this group then? Even though I travel with two men the rest of you all seem to dislike?”
Slightly taken aback, Meg took a bite of her bread so that she had an excuse not to reply right away. She also used her extensive chewing session to think about what the Imperial Redguard asked. It was obvious those three were part of the group, seeing Sora and Latro were the ones who recruited the trio. She trusted them, and she knew Sevari was an ally- he had saved Jaraleet after all, and well, her too in a sense- he could have simply let her die. As for Zaveed… Meg didn’t know what to think of him. He tortured Raelynn and kidnapped Sora. He did such horrible things-
“I can see it on your face.” Her thoughts were broken by Sirine speaking up. Meg’s green eyes landed on the other’s dark pair, and though they were pretty much the same height, she felt smaller somehow. She was almost reminded of her talk with Gregor all those days ago, given courage only by copious amounts of alcohol swimming through her system. He had been a fearsome enigma to her- he still was a mystery, to be fair, but she no longer truly feared him. He was on their side after all!
“Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout?” She blinked at Sirine, feeling the woman’s eyes boring into her own.
“You’re unsure,” Sirine replied easily, a small smile on her face. “Even though you’re trying to be nice, you don’t really know whether you should. You don’t know what to make of us, whether we’re truly here peacefully or will end up slitting your throats at night.” She didn’t really have any malicious thoughts against the Nord, but the former pirate was curious as to how the less dangerous seeming people here would react to her words.
“Sevari won’,” Meg replied, a frown creasing her brow as her grip on her bread tightened. “I know tha’ much. He coulda left me an’ m’friend t’die by the dwemer one night but he didn’. I don’ think he likes me much… but he saved the two of us an’ he helped the group. He’s Jaraleet’s friend.” She paused only long enough to let out an indignant huff. “I dunno you, I’m not gonna go thinkin’ bad stuff ‘bout you right from the start. The other khajiit though…” Her eyes darkened. “He’s dangerous. He hurt my friends. Ain’ no way we can just forget that. He’s not… good people don’ do things like that.”
“Oh yes?” Sirine’s smile remained; this woman was as predictable as she had thought, and in its own way, it was slightly comforting seeing her rise to to the bait. “Tell me then, what do good people do? Do they join terrorist cells? Do they torture peaceful administrators and murder them? Do they let prisoners escape from prison?” She raised an eyebrow before taking a bite from the bread, waiting with bated curiosity to see what the response to that would be.
“That’s…” Meg blinked a little at the barrage of questions thrown her way before looking away to the side, unsure of how to answer them. This has been on her mind since their arrival in Gilane, but she had continuously been shoving it to the back of her mind like a coward. When they had been in Imperial City, in Skingrad, in Anvil… they had been running from different obstacles, surviving to live another day. But in Gilane… things had changed from the moment they had accepted the Poncy Man’s proposal. From the raising of the garrison to saving Shakti, to Nblec's torture and death. Violence, lies, secrets. When she was in Skyrim, Meg had actively kept away from either side of the civil war for these very reasons, not wishing to be involved in anything of the sort where she couldn't decide who was right and who wasn't. Yet here, she had been forced into just that by circumstance. The men she had killed could very well have had families and children. The people Jaraleet had dealt with, what sort of trauma were they going through?
Why was it so much easier to point fingers at a strange khajiit than at her own self and her friends?
“I don't know,” she finally replied. She glanced back at Sirine, expecting a look of victory on the Imperial Redguard’s face, but there was nothing of the sort. In fact, the woman looked almost sympathetic to her struggles.
“It looks like we're in the same boat,” Sirine commented with a half smile. “Because neither do I.” Whatever pleasure she had wanted to derive was lost as she recalled her conversation with Zaveed the night he trimmed her hair. How did one choose what was good and what was bad? How did a person decide who was the one who deserved their goodwill and who deserved nothing? Wasn't it all simply based on individuals and their biases?
“Well…” Meg was a little hesitant at first, but decided to continue with her thoughts. “I know one thin’; I'mma do what I can t'keep my friends safe an’ happy. If anyone tries t'hurt them, I'mma hurt them righ’ back. Yer part of the group now, so I'mma do the same for you too.” She looked almost defiant, as if trying to dare Sirine to say something else. “Daro'Vasora an’ Latro let y'all join us, an’ I trust 'em both.”
“Heh.” The former pirate shook her head before sending a small but genuine smile the Nord woman's way. “Very well then. I'll make sure your trust in them doesn't have to waver.” If this woman was showing so much loyalty for someone who had simply shown up, she couldn't imagine the lengths she would go through for her companions. In a way, Sirine felt envious; it had to feel nice to have a conscience where cynicism wasn't always lurking about.
“And thank you,” she continued, “for sharing your breakfast. I appreciate it.”
Meg blinked at her before smiling back, one tinged with relief. “Yer welcome,” she replied, shoving a free hand in her pocket, a little embarrassed from her outburst. “Uh… I'll pro'ly head back t'camp now…”
“By all means,” Sirine replied with a nod. “I'll see you around camp.” She watched the Nord woman limp away for a few moments before turning around and returning to her own chosen path. Along with the bread, Megana Corvus had certainly given her some food for thought.