Arc I - Terreille in Trouble
Luckily it seemed the young Queen did not have too far to go. Barely ten paces out of the door and there the Eyrien woman sat. She was looking quite miserable, if Fatima said so herself. And she did. She plopped down with more grace than might be expected from the messy girl and forced the ale into the woman’s hands. “That’s from Mikhail,” she said quite matter of factly. She then handed over the shot. “And that's from me. Now drink up. This is a healer’s order.” Her tone brooked no ability to be turned down.
It was slow seconds later that a hand raised the shot to pale lips and the dark-skinned Eyrien woman drank deeply. Her hair falling back enough to show the tears that streaked down her cheeks. Gasping sharply as the drink burned her throat, Faeril gave a sharp cough then another one as she handed the glass back. “Thank you.” The words were rougher than her usual cold and collected tone. Her hand shook slightly as she accepted the mug. “Both of you, thank you.” For all she had drank the shot at the Healer’s and Queen’s order, Faeril still looked shaken. From within the tavern, sharp voices could be heard. Not quite yelling in their native tongue but rather close to it as an argument went back and forth between the brothers. Denvar seemed to be giving Gennar lecture and the other was defending himself.
Dareen’s eyes flicked up, two dark orbs from underneath her hood and peaking over her raised scarf. None of them seemed to have noticed her yet, and so far Dareen wanted to keep it that way. She’d much rather they take their conversations somewhere else, so she wouldn’t have to eavesdrop on them. Dareen has already peaked far too much into Faeril’s personal affairs as far as she was concerned. Narrowing her eyes she refocused on her sketchbook and drove the charcoal deeper into the page as she hardened the outlines of a mug of ale being held in an undetailed silhouette of a person whose appearance was unimportant. The only important part was that they were having fun. Beer, she thought, was supposed to be fun. She tried to only drink it when she was relaxing, or in a good mood. Too many times she’d seen people self-medicate themselves into some ale sickness Dareen didn’t quite know the medical term for.
When Jandar returned to the inn, it was to the sight of three Eyriens bickering and the rest of the group absent. “What the Hell is going on here?” he growled, discomfited at finding some sort of chaotic and dramatic conflict had appeared to occur while he was absent. From the tidbits the brothers offered him while shouting at each other, he got the gist of the situation. Frowning, lips thin in displeasure, he stalked into the courtyard, where Fatima and Faeril where in the midst of an uncomfortably emotional looking conversation while Dareen and Mikhail were awkwardly lurking at the sides. Approaching the latter two, he asked quietly, “Which of you can explain exactly what happened? The brothers weren’t too clear.”
Mikhail was like that for a bit, simply enjoying the breeze until a familiar voice came from behind, interrupting him and making him put on his hood once more almost as if he had just realized that he was showing his ears and his hair, which could potentially attract a lot of unwanted attention to himself.
The owner of the voice was Jandar, who had just arrived and was quite surprised by the chaos he found going on inside regarding the Eyrien brothers.
"I... knew they wouldn't be..." Mikhail said with a long sigh as he walked towards Jandar while he finished putting on his hood and putting the rest of his hair, which did extend a bit lower than his shoulders inside it. As he got closer to him, only then he realized that Dareen was sitting in the corner with her sketchbook on hands. Mikhail did try giving her a small nod and a discreet wave but he didn't know if she did notice him, after all, she seemed to be really... concentrated in her drawings.
"I don't know much about what was said, since they were discussing in native Eyrien but Gennar said something he really shouldn't have. Faeril was really hurt by it. I tried saying something to her but I'm not really the best for these kind of stuff. Fatima is talking with her at the moment. I recommend you to let the two of them alone for a while." Mikhail continued.
"It may have something to do regarding the boy, Thom I mean." he said, finishing explaining about everything he knew to Jandar.
"And sorry, Dareen, I didn't see you there when I got out. I can find another place to... do nothing I guess, if you wish for some privacy." Mikhail said, looking towards Dareen.
Dareen flinched a bit at having been addressed, not sure if she was noticed or not. She had also been a little lost in her drawing, as had been her intention, but the real world had dragged her back from her little land of parchment and paper. Oh well, no big deal. It was Mikhail, offering to leave to give her privacy in her drawings.
The collection of scarves and folded cloth that was hiding a woman pretending to be a man inside glanced up, Dareen pulling back her hood slightly to make eye contact with Mikhail. She shrugged dismissively and smirked. "Oh, no, it's fine. I just needed to get out of there. You can, uh, sit down in the dirt here. If you'd like." She offered, losing a little steam and chuckled. "I'm just trying to stay out of everyone's hair." She concluded, keeping her voice low.
Mikhail nodded with an understanding smile as Dareen replied to him, offering him a place to sit in the dirt near her. It appeared that, just like himself, Dareen didn't seem to enjoy the current atmosphere going on inside the inn right now between the brothers.
"I will accept your offer then. I hope you don't mind, Jandar." Mikhail replied to Dareen with a smile before he turned to Jandar and sat down on the dirt just where Dareen had indicated.
"I am not exactly... useful in these type of situations. Fatima is much more suited to this. That's why I asked her to go talk to Faeril. The only thing I can do to help right now is getting out of the way. The skills I excell at are... not suited at all for this." Mikhail said with a chuckle as he sat down.
Dareen scoffed good-naturedly as Mikhail explained the situation. It seemed they were both fish out of water. "Yeah..." She responded focusing back on her drawings. There wasn’t too much to say. This kind of social conflict was one Dareen didn’t have the tools to help resolve. It seemed that went for both of them.
Fatima nodded mutely in response to Faeril's thanks. She could hear mere snippets of conversation between the trio across the way. Well, duo. The third was silent. She took a seat on the bench beside Faeril. "Your boys are a bit rough and growly. Need a bit of polishing with a sharp tongue." She spoke in a conspiratorial way, as if she were sharing a joke between friends. "I'm not entirely certain what the conversation was all about but I think I got a bit of it. Is it about Thom leaving?"
The others talking and the sharp sounds, though the latter was muffled by the walls of the inn, were a distant thing to the Black Widow. Her throat burned from the shot and the thin sips she took of the drink Mikhail had brought her soothed it. Hearing a far clearer voice she paused slightly, though her eyes still stared blankly into space. She didn’t want to answer Fatima, but there was hardly a way to dodge it when the entire group had followed after her like a trail of lost ducklings. Her lips quivered in sardonic amusement at the thought. “Yes and no.” She took a long, endless draw from the tankard in her hands. It numbed her slightly, but not enough. Never enough. “Gen does not agree that keeping the boy close is a good idea. He is worried for my safety.” And for her sanity, but she didn’t see a reason to bring the fact that her closest friend thought she was latching onto the miscreant out of some misplaced motherly desire. “A mistake happened that he reminded me of.” Her voice was far from alright or dismissive as she would have liked it. It was bitter, regret-filled, and there was sorrow. Her knuckles turned white as she covered her mouth with a hand feeling her stomach roll as that horrid guilt twisted in her belly. Was that what it had been? A mistake? A mistake to heal a village who needed it desperately when a Queen decided to play with a poison? A mistake to even attempt to give her dying family line a chance? “A horrid, horrid choice and there was no good answer. There was the death of one. Then the death of an entire village. All Healers face it.” And she had chosen the many. The many though it had cost her dearly.
Fatima listened calmly. Faeril was sharing something big with her. The woman was not the sort to share freely so she was not about to interrupt the speech. She folded her hands in her lap, eyes never leaving Faeril. "Mmm, I see," she said after a long pause in which Faeril didn't speak. Fatima did not entirely see, to be perfectly honest. There were a lot of missing puzzle pieces. Couldn't people be more straightforward?
"Could you live with yourself if you'd let the village die? I think we'd be having an entirely different conversation yet intrinsically the same." She shook her head. "That's not what is important right now. I need to make sure you are okay."
The Black Widow didn’t answer as she closed her eyes. Her mouth tightening into an ugly line, as she felt tears run down her cheeks. “I wish I had.” Yet, she knew she had chosen the best of the two choices in the long run. Pragmatic thinking did not ease her weeping though as more tears flowed down her cheeks and her shoulders shook slightly. “I-I will be alright. Time…” Time would at least help her cover the wound that still bled in her soul.
Fatima snorted in a most unlady like fashion. "Time doesn't do shit and you and I both know it. There are some hurts that you can't heal. But can be born more easily when distributed among friends." She reached out and squeezed Faeril's hand. "It's not wrong for you to feel the way you do." Fatima was doing her best to comfort with what vague information she had. Who died? Ah well, not really her business was it?
Fatima’s hand was knocked away, as icy eyes locked onto the Hyallian Queen. The mug was at her feet and spilled, the liquor spreading over the dusty cobbles over the courtyard. ”You mean well, but this is something beyond you, child. Time will not heal this wound, but it will allow me to collect myself to serve in your Court. To end this madness that threatens to consume us all, no matter the cost.” Her voice was chilly and the air about her became cold as the Black Widow turned her anguished face from Fatima. The hand that had knocked away the Queen's, she gripped with her own. The dangerous snake tooth of the widows laying against the dark skin of the Queen. Releasing the hand, she flexed her hand and the delicate poisoned weapon slipped under her fourth finger.
”Pardon me.” The pardon was hardly a question. Turning her head from the Grey Queen in dismissal.
Jandar stood by while Mikhail and Dareen sat, joining them on the sidelines, but keenly observing the conversation between Fatima and Faeril. He almost sprung into action when he noted an obvious moment of tension between the two females, but restrained himself. However, he did unobtrusively inch somewhat closer to them. When Faeril dismissed Fatima, he properly approached his Queen. “My Lady,” he murmured. Though his tone was soft, it carried far enough that the rest of his companions could easily hear him should they choose to do so. “I have met a Priestess here, and she can open a path to Kaeleer through the Dark Gates,” he confessed. His shoulders loosened somewhat as he finally relayed this key bit of information he’d found, and it was apparent that it represented a kernel of hope to him.
Denvar growled as he slipped out the door to the courtyard where he had seen Faeril flee to. Not that he would call that retreat such to her face. The younger brother liked to think he got the sense of the family that Gen generally lacked at the moment. Giving an apologetic look towards Fatima, the Eyrien tried to think of how to phrase an apology. Mother Dark, Gen wasn't going to apologize for a while. The Warlord had his temper up and not without reason, but still! Jandar beat him to it, however, and Denvar found himself grateful for the interruption. If it distracted from the situation, then it was all the better in his mind. Though looking at Faeril and the way she was holding everything at a distance... He flinched. The last thing anyone needed was a Black Widow who was suffering a mortal wound to her spirit. "I don't want to be the Eyrien of bad news, but what's the catch? Last I was around a Dark Gate the Queen of Pruul had them under heavy guard. No one came, no one left. Of course, that was three centuries ago..." He gave an apologetic look to the group. "We didn't want to risk attention, and lost contact with the Hourglass." Shrugged his winged shoulders, he wanted Faeril to take the conversation but the witch seemed lost in the past and the pain. Not even designing to explain that the Hourglass was the Black Widow's coven of witches. Their subtle society that outsiders were usually aware of, or had been at one point, but those same outsiders were careful to remain politely and pointedly oblivious of the coven lest they draw the ire of the witches whose caste were entwined with it.