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"I understand completely," Lucien agrees, "It's why I was thinking, after I get a few bites in, you must introduce me to the carnival's library!"
Tristan orders two more beers, and bobs his head gratefully to Sandsfern. "I'll meet you back here. If you are not here when I am back, I will wait."

He carefully takes his beer out to a spot where no smoke from chimneys may be seen, no campfires and no sounds of people. Just the bugs, and the triumphant hooting of the owls that feast on them.

[Talk to the other world: 2d6+1, 3, 2 +1 = 6]

But Tristan is rushed. He has not taken a moment to calm himself before asking. This is the height of rudeness. You come to talk with, not to interrogate. He has not taken the time to calm himself before he asks, has not done his breathing with Robena and Sandsfern waiting for him.

Worst of all, he has come with blood in his thoughts. With so many having such firm convictions that Pellinore needs to be slain, and no evidence presented to him. A need for the world to show him its evidence.

At the last moment, he realizes how grave this insult is. He has not even been careful to wash his hands.
That... hurt.

But if Robena is right that chivalry is dead, surely that means it's more important than ever to be what we want the world to reflect back on us?

"It was not fair for me to ask that of you." He apologizes, looking at Robena's eyes and not her axe. He does not rise from his barstool, yet. "Thank you for letting me try myself, after insulting you with such thoughtlessness. I had planned to-" he does not want to go into his spirituality now, not to a knight with two feet planted in worldy matters, "take a moment of peace before joining with them again. If you'll wait at least that long, only the time it would take for a loaf to bake at the most, then I will. I will do all that you ask and more. Today has dulled my sharpness, and I would appreciate the moment to hone myself. I would go right now if you ask, but I will be less effective for you."

[2d6 - 6, 3 +1 Strong = 10]
Tristan takes a steak knife from behind the counter, where it is to be cleaned, and pauses only to wipe the point of it with his shirt before hurling it at the dartboard on the far wall, getting as close to a bullseye as is to matter. More importantly, the knife stays parallel to the floor without falling.

"Only less." Tristan finishes his beer.

He wouldn't be stabbing anyone in the back, this way, would he?

Mostly because they're likely to try to start stabbing him as soon as he makes the case, but then it would be self-defense. While tactically unadvantageous, it is ethically sound.

He hopes this isn't a second insult, but more than anything else he wants to ask this place if it will tell him what Pellinore really is, what he couldn't see before. He wants that even more than he wants the time to prepare himself to make such open threats.
"Here I am, standing my ground before the mountains I saw hurl each other seconds before, and you think me a coward?" Tristan asks, amused. "What of this: Her knights seem more afraid of her than loyal - though they are loyal. If you can convince any of them of your rightness - even one! - before trying to murder Pellinore, then I fight with you tonight. They are not the ones sworn to Pendragon. If you are to be about the bloody business, anyway, than that is the mercy I can give for the kindness given. Any you convince is one less to fight you, as well, and maybe one to fight alongside you."

This, he thinks, would work. Not on all of them, probably not on most of them. But if Sandsfern and Robena are vanquishing evil, then it would be enough that any close enough to it would recognize evil for what it is. And, he is convinced, it is the only means he has to save any of those knights from the purpose he feels sloughing off Robena in waves.

He will not be peer-pressured into indiscriminate massacres. Merely discriminate ones.

He says nothing about Sandsfern's slights against Merlin. He does not want to look a fool for disagreeing purely out of faith, though it's a faith that goes down to the marrow in his bones. He has not yet learned what it is to be disappointed by heroes.
Tristan shakes his head. "I'll help you, I swear it, but not with them - at least not tonight. They were kind and generous to me, and to turn on them without provocation? Dishonesty has been hard on me enough without outright betrayal. I would not have you know me as someone so fickle with the trust given to me. Besides," he races to add faster than Robena can interrupt, "Her quest is likely a doomed one, a reckless reading of prophecy. One of Merlin's."

Tristan is still convinced that Merlin is unimpeachable, a conviction like bedrock. Either the prophecy is a trap for Pellinore, or her accomplishing it is for the common good, no matter her personal allegiance and culpability. In either case, it's a waste of risk and resource.
"I've never gotten so much as a glimpse at the whole of it, you know." Lucien sighs wistfully, looking up, up past the ceiling. "When I played The Game, I used to pride myself on my ability to extrapolate, more than anything else. Predicted a rebellion three months in advance by looking at wheat futures, once. Or - I'm quite proud of this, actually - I recognized that a delayed ice delivery was the first step in a plot to poison me. Someone wanted to hide cyanide in my almond milk, which I only drank when the dairy soured..."

The smile curdles. "I spent a week drinking only water, boiled water, acting like a nut-milk nutter. Spent that week thinking anyone could be the one with the plan to kill me, convinced by a late delivery. Not just anyone; Someone intimate to me. The worst kind of paranoiac, and worse still, I was right. So I kept thinking like that, until coming here seemed like the least stressful option."

He's only a few steps away from pickles now, he can smell it. His eyelashes are curling from the smell of the brine, and his lips are almost ready to crack from how much salt hangs heavy in the humid air here. Heaven. Distantly he hears a bell ring, quiet as a teaspoon sinking to the bottom of a tea mug. "I don't know what the Heart is, haven't the foggiest. There's too much here to make sense of, too many bad answers between me and the good questions. I've given up on being clever about it, and I'm doing my best just to experience it, come as it may. I've been trying to do it in good company." He inclines his head to the Professor respectfully.

There's a pause. He's being dishonest on autopilot. It's so reflexive it's only now that he catches it, and he wonders - what am I hiding? What am I not saying?

"No. I'm sorry, I didn't answer your question." He corrects himself before the Professor can ask again. "I used to think the Heart is a final objective to always be heading towards, but never to reach. A fable, where the journey is the destination. Then, after the Flood, I realized we were getting closer. There is an end to it." He stares down. Not at his feet, but at something past them. "Then I thought it was because the ending is necessarily tragic, that nobody survives reaching it... not as anyone I'd recognize. Coleman's just the most obvious. But ever since the Station... I think even that would be too determined, too consistent for what the Heart must be." He thinks very hard about the words he chooses here. "I want to try and make sure they all get the best endings they can, and I don't even know what they are, let alone how to go about getting them. 'Best' might not even be 'good'." He clenches and releases a fist as he says this last bit.

He hopes they've got aioli down here. Who knows what creature lays the eggs they'd use to make the mayonnaise though? Good lord, is it gater eggs? Now he has to try it-
"There's a hunting party of them here, tonight. We've been working together, to hunt a questing beast that is chasing my badger. But-" Tristan considers his words carefully, "There is something wrong with them. With everything. I can't say what, just that I've had to be very dishonest while dealing with them. King Pellinore, if you know of her? She expects me to hunt with her tomorrow, as well."
"Of course," Tristan agrees without hesitation. He would have agreed just as readily, even without her promise of help in kind. "What is it?"
Like that? No. The ones that trained Tristan were more about cutting and deflecting and dodging. That kind of brutal, unrelenting endurance? Strength and stance that raw and ruthless?

No. Never like that.

He does nothing to hide his admiration for it as Robena approaches.

"I thought of you, during my hunt earlier." He greets her with a raised glass. "That solid knight I saw at the jousts. What we managed to track was a badger, the size of a team of horses - and it could burrow just as fast. I thought... I could kill it, if I could get enough shots into it, but I'd have needed someone like you to stop it getting under me. I don't think anyone else could have held it long enough."

He offers her the other drink. The silver she's won him has more than paid for it.
"What I'm hearing is that there are fried pickles." Lucien watches the Professor's face for a reaction. If that reaction is not to glance where the pickles may be found, he will start following his nose. Surely he'd be able to smell them out - the carnival is a riot of smells, but nothing cuts through like boiling vinegar. And if anything does... well, wouldn't that be interesting?

He's also waiting for that defeated, disappointed look on the man's face before he claps him on the shoulder reassuringly. "You're right, of course, but I need to get a sense of the place before we start talking anything permanent. Actually, I'd love if you could show me around? Go for a bit of a jaunt and stretch the legs?"

Lucien and the Professor could lope off and meet back up with everyone else later, right? The train's an obvious landmark and, besides, he suspects the others aren't as enthusiastic about deep clown lore as he is.
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