Jandar Varan & Fatima Damiana
Root's Teeth, Dhemlan Terreille
Fatima quickly threw a sight shield over herself, careful to move slowly enough that she could concentrate on keeping the shield up. She had to be careful not to run into anyone as well keep her footsteps quiet. As she made her way up the stairs she seemed to do okay, noticing first a young boy duck under cover and then hearing a door shut. She approached the door and listened to the quiet murmurs on the other side, in case it was the young woman she was intending to rescue.
Jandar led the witch down the stairs by the hand, without a care for how hard she was gripping his palm, her shock obvious. “I know,”
he soothed in a low, rumbling tone, speaking as if to calm a small, crying child. “Listen, lass, you can blame me. If someone finds out. Even if no-one does. You can think of me as the murderer,”
he whispered directly into her ear, his words quiet enough than no-one else was likely to intercept them. And he knew there was at least one other person around, as he caught the sounds of someone’s quick steps. If whoever it was heard the witch talking about killing someone… This is bad.
He pursued his lips, knowing he couldn’t follow that figure right now, absentmindedly stroking a thumb down the backside of the Opal witch’s palm as she took stumbling steps towards the servant’s quarters.
They soon entered a cramped room, wherein the witch still stood in a daze, looking at a wall, murmuring to herself. Jandar tugged at her hand slightly, maneuvering her to sit on the bed, while he took the single stool. “Now focus, please,”
Jandar stressed, his voice still a tad deeper than it would be naturally, while the stress he was under caused for his fake-accent speech patterns slip just a bit. The Warlord inhaled deeply, reminding himself that even if the Opal witch was out of it, he had to stay on his toes. Be cautious, all the time, regardless of circumstances. Jandar cleared his throat, both to get the witch’s attention and to keep himself together. “’Aven’t ‘eard your name yet, wi'chling. Tell me ‘at firs', then I’ll say my piece.”
That said, he glanced at the door, and was just preparing to draw on his Blood Opal jewel once again to both lock it and put an aural shield around it.
The witch looks confused for a second before whispering. "Saera. Don't have a family name, most don't here."
Jean would know her words for truth mostly. Save for the fact she did have a family name, one she was not ill intent on sharing. Fatima wouldn't be able to make this out, thought the witch gave a small sob that would be within earshot. "Mother Night. This is a nightmare."
She heard the sob. She heard the word nightmare and her blood began to boil. Men could be such loutful pigs. Despite her anger, Fatima was beginning to realize she had planned this out very poorly. She had but a simple dagger on her person which she knew very little of how to use properly. She prayed to the darkness that it would be enough to just brandish it.
Taking a deep breath, she gripped the dagger tightly and threw the door open just enough to not let it bang against the wall. She dropped her sight shield and held the dagger out as she entered the room. Fatima was careful, her balance measured to defend against a larger foe. There were the weepy witch and the young man who sat on a stool before her. She was clothed. The man was clothed. Something was not right here, and Fatima began to feel it was she who was currently in the wrong.
Wavering she lowered the knife, cocking her head to the side. The man and she locked eyes and something deep within her felt that pull of possession. This man was hers. For a moment she was shocked, and terror spread through her veins. She just couldn’t form a court. Not now. No no no. Now was not the time. Fatima moved, quickly closed the door as she fought down her fear.
Jandar heard the commotion milliseconds before the intruder entered. He was tense, just standing up from his stool, when his eyes locked with her. It was the Queen from before, the one he’d noticed entering the inn with a drunkard and chatting with the Innkeep. But far more than that, far more importantly than even the dagger she was pointing at them was the pull. He could feel it clearly, now that his attention was focused on her and hers on him. The Warlord was able to discern the feeling of belonging clearly, and it sent his heart racing, half in fear, half in excitement. He momentarily didn’t know whether to thank Mother Night he was still under contractual obligation to Queen Morqen or bemoan that fact. He shook his head to clear it – that had been only the pull speaking. Jandar knew he could not trust a Queen from Terreile unquestioningly the same way he might be able to trust a Queen from Kaeleer. No, he had to give this some thought, perhaps prod the unknown Queen as to her reasons for hiding and galivanting across the land besides the drunkard…This line of thought of his was entirely interrupted by his Queen darting back outside as if a horde of demon dead were hot on her heels.
Jandar hissed reflexively at the offense, honestly both enraged and (though he’d never admit it) hurt at the woman’s act. How can she- She just refused me without even-
His thoughts were a jumbled mess, the Warlord torn between letting this opportunity go, let it be, live the rest of his life with the knowledge he’d met the one he was supposed to serve without knowing who exactly it was, beyond that it was ‘a Queen from Terreile’, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t, even if it were far better to do so for the sake of his own sanity. But he couldn’t let his Queen go, even if he weren’t officially hers, he couldn’t let her leave in fear – for he was certain he saw the terror he felt mimicked in her gaze, the widening of her gaze and the paling of her face a dead giveaway – he couldn’t let her leave if there was a chance she was in some sort of danger.
Jandar moved with purpose, appearing composed despite how very much this revelation had left his emotions and thoughts in a tumultuous mess. He said nothing to Saera, for though he vaguely registered he should, the Warlord wasn’t of a mind to actually do so. Besides, he intended to return soon. His Queen couldn’t have gone far yet, and he simply had to…Well, he wasn’t sure what he had to do yet, beyond follow her. As he opened the door leading to and out of Saera’s room, he saw immediately that the Queen had gone nowhere, apparently standing outside the room he’d left in a daze. Jandar joined her in the hall, closing the door softly, and standing in front of it, so that if Saera wanted to leave, she’d run into them both.“Please wait,”
Jandar called out to the Queen desperately. With practiced paranoia, he surveyed the hall, checking for unwanted eavesdroppers. Then he turned an imploring gaze to the Queen. “Listen, I-”
he cleared his throat to calm his nerves, and lowered his voice as a precaution. “I’m under contract to serve another, but after…I would like to…”
he swallowed a stubbornly persisting lump in his throat. “I don’t know your reasons for leaving and- r-refusing,”
he whispered, the intense fear giving an overall halting tone to his speech, the slight stutter leaving him with an intense feeling of shame. He rolled both of his shoulder back in a futile attempt to get rid of the tension, combing his hair back with his right palm in frustration. “From what little I have seen, you don’t seem to hold any of the depravity the rest of this Realm does,”
the world Realm was spat out as if it were the worst of the curses, and Jandar was obviously referring to Terreille, though it was unclear if this last sentence was something he’d uttered intentionally – something he’d meant for the Queen to hear – or just him thinking out loud.
Properly embittered by how he’d lost his usual cool, Jandar locked gazes with the Queen again, the ire, vexation, and anguish rather clear in the lines of his frown that he let her see for just that one single moment before smoothing it over with diplomatic blankness. “Please, just let me know your name or how and where to seek you out when I- when we are both ready,”
he didn’t clarify what they would need to be ready for, since it was quite self-evident Jandar was referring to him officially entering her service as a Queen. The last sentence he uttered as he appealed the Queen was utterly weary, and though he now projected calm, it was the calm of wanting to get this all over with.
The witch nods absently to Jean. Looking stunned and pale as Fatima came bursting into the room. From the door Jean would hear slight, soft footsteps of someone hovering about the door.
She heard the door open and close behind her and so she spun at him, dagger in hand again. Her eyes were wide with her fear and caution, and she looked around the hall to ensure that there were no others about that might cause trouble. She wished Jassen was there. Fatima looked at the stranger again and began to calm as he spoke. Lowering the knife she watched him. She felt the pull again, no way to mistake it, and wanted in some way to offer comfort or assurances, but she knew not how. Her heart was breaking with his words and she knew not what to say. For perhaps the first time in her life Fatima was stunned to silence.
Flipping the dagger back into its sheath at her waist, she pulled her arms around herself. What should she say to him? Would it really hurt to have just one of her own in the Court she currently held, the Court which had been her mother’s? She reached up, brushing wild curls back from her face and began, “I… You aren’t trying to hurt that girl, are you? Break her?”
She asked the question though doubted that if that were his intention, he would tell her honestly. But if he were truly one of hers, he couldn’t be the sort of man who did such things. She couldn’t feel a call to another person with evil in their hearts… right?
She chewed her lower lip, considering the man before her. “That girl is in trouble, isn’t she?”
Fatima was not giving him a direct answer yet. She couldn’t. The connection was something that had been ingrained upon her that she should be terrified of. She had no time to properly swallow the truth. Let it be for now. Let it be. She looked up and down the hallway once more before taking his much larger hand in her small ones. “I am Fatima and I am going to help you and her.”
Her whispered voice was earnest, and her brows furrowed with a serious the young woman rarely showed. “We can sort out those other things later.”
Jandar watched Fatima in a similar manner to how she observed him, though he never drew his own knife or gave any indication that he’d defend himself against her. He blinked at her question, startled. “No, of course not. I found someone else trying to break her and intervened. Then…Well, it’s best we go in there before discussing the rest,”
he indicated Saera’s room with his head. He nodded at Fatima’s assumption that the servant was in trouble, and let her take his hand as he curiously watched on. Jandar smiled slightly as she introduced herself, glad that she seemed like the right sort – if a bit reckless to be so ready to help a stranger in unknown matters.“Jandar, but call me Jean for now,”
he whispered back an introduction. Now that Fatima had confirmed she was willing to take him into service after his duty to Queen Morqen was done, he was genuinely tranquil, and his mind turned to sorting out the most immediate issue – Saera, Gendry’s corpse, and Erkyn’s pouch. Not to mention whoever those other footsteps belonged to and what they might have heard. The Warlord opened the door to the Opal witch’s room, raising a judging brow at Saera, who was blatantly eavesdropping. “You’re not actually a spy, are you?”
he muttered doubtfully to the serving girl, holding the door open for Fatima to precede him. He entered behind her, closed and locked the door, then drew on the power of his Blood opal and cast the aural shield around the room as he’d intended before Fatima interrupted. The trio was now alone and more-or-less secure, so Jandar turned to address Saera.“How much have you heard?”
he questioned, giving her the opportunity to answer before continuing. “Let me both tell you a story,”
he began, not bothering to put on an act for Saera’s sake anymore – she had more than enough dirt on him already, so to speak, and he was considering whether it would be less trouble to…simply take the girl with him when he left – instead letting his natural smooth, rich, and crisp cadence take over as he spoke. “I came into this bar, seeking to find the best trading opportunities in this Hell-forsaken land,”
that last part was a lie, but Jandar wasn’t prepared to reveal everything to Saera. As for Fatima…as she’d said, there would be time later.“I happened to see someone suspicious going into the stables while I was eating, then followed them, only to find a young thief with this exact pouch,”
he said, all of it true this time. He Summoned the leather satchel, holding it up for both to see. “I admit, I was curious to examine the documents inside before returning it to the owner, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so. While I was heading to my room, I saw Saera there getting accosted by a Lord Erkyn, the owner of the pouch. I realized it was a more important item than I’d initially thought, and, well,”
he shrugged unrepentantly. “I thought I might as well try and see what’s inside for myself as well as get good money after pretending to search for it. Of course, since one of Erkyn’s men went with us,”
he nodded at Saera, “The matter wasn’t exactly simple. In the end, poor Gendry ended up dead, and his corpse is still cooling in the attic. Before taking care of that or returning the pouch, however, I do suggest we see what might be so precious that is worth threatening the whole inn over,”
he concluded, shaking the pouch-full of documents enticingly. Truthfully, he had done that whole dramatic retelling bit entirely for Saera, while emphasizing the document’s importance was more-so Fatima might be more likely to approve reading them.
Saera looked about nervously after Jean's reveal. Her hands twisting on her skirts. "I will not tell anyone, but might I leave? I have family over in Pruul, they can see I get far away from here fast and disappear."
Jandar glanced lazily at Saera. "I suppose that might be best. I could cast a temporary sight shield on you to ensure you don't get discovered,"
he offered. He was slightly concerned the witch might get the urge to pass on what she already knew, but her leaving at this point was still safer than leaving after she'd learn what was in the pouch.
He seemed a good sort of person which calmed her nerves. Holding the door open for her and everything! She stepped into the room and stood to the side so as to take up as little room as possible, not that she would take up much.
Fatima listened to his story with bright wonder. Murder. Scandal. She would very much like to learn what was hidden in that letter that would be so important. She had to keep herself calm and interested in what he was saying though, rather than like a mischievous child ready to raid the candy dish.
She looked between Saera and Jandar, wondering if it was a good idea to let her just leave in the middle of everything. Where did her allegiances lay? Just because she had been about to be broken did not make her a good person. Fatima would have wanted to save her from such a fate regardless, but she had some doubts that were mostly over shadowed by the desire to look into other people’s things. “Should she perhaps be escorted?”
she mused aloud."Perhaps, however, whichever of us does it, we'll have to be careful. Specifically, none of Lord Erkyn's men should see me...or her. They might ask after the pouch if they do,"
Jandar explained."I thank you kindly, Lady. Lord. Though I can quickly slip out of here without Erkyn being the wiser. This is not the first time he has stopped by the inn."
Her face was troubled slightly as she admitted. In truth Erkyn stopped by the inn at least once every other year, and the man hated it. Saera revealed this though she had admitted to not knowing why."Very well,"
Jandar acquiesced, the only sign of reluctance his glance at Fatima to see whether she'd agree as well or not.“If you feel you will be safe,”
Fatima chimed in agreement. She would not force an escort on the girl but she was a small bit nervous that she might relay to the wrong ears about how she met a Queen at the inn. If all went well she would not be back here for a very long time anyway so perhaps it did not matter so much. Her attention was back on the bag of correspondence.“I very well can’t let you look at those,”
she said with a small frown which then turned to a playful smile as she added, “On your own.”
When Jandar and Fatima were by themselves, locked into privacy, and under an aural shield, Jandar opened the pouch, revealing the documents by spreading them over the nearby table. He scanned them, searching any that were written in Dhemlian or Common, as those would be the only he could read. "I have until sunrise to return the pouch and the documents to Erkyn before I'm in danger,"
he muttered to Fatima as he carefully handled the documents. She nodded her understanding.
Her heart dropped to her stomach with each paper she opened. Words and phrases were used that implied some very dark things. One of which was the shaving of a male from Kaeleer. Her face paled as she read it and found she could not bring herself to finish that particular letter. This felt a lot less innocently mischievous and a lot more horribly devious. It seemed Jandar had the same sorts of feelings at the written words before them.
Jandar snarled aggressively at the tidbits of information about how Terreille, or rather Dorothea and her underlings specifically, were playing Kaeleer, using their people, playing with both Realms…What was more, the document implied Saetan SaDiablo was there, somewhere, with some kind of connection to Dorothea. What did the self-proclaimed queen have over him? The letter implied their relationship was nowhere near cordial, of course not. A man such as him would never co-operate freely with the likes of her, but…What exactly is going on? Jandar paced furiously as he thought. He slammed a fist into the nearby wall, centering on the slight pain, calming his breath and racing heart.
She lifted her eyes from the stacks of letters and watched Jandar walk back and forth in the room. She jumped slightly when he hit the wall. “Careful, you’ll wear a hole in the floor,”
Fatima said in a soothing but light tone. “Did you hurt your hand?”
she asked with real concern as she noted the dent in the wall. He had much more pressing things on his mind though and had not heard her.
This wasn’t something he could handle right now…and truthfully, not something he could handle by himself. But where was he supposed to find allies? His future Queen? Certainly not. If the Lady was in hiding, or on the run…he couldn’t endanger her. But perhaps he could enquire as to any pertinent information she might have. Before that, however, it would be only courteous if he told her a bit about himself. “I’m from Kaeleer. Truthfully, I came here to find information on certain suspicions that have been unconfirmed…Of course, even if I managed to return back home, something like this wouldn’t be enough,”
he gestured at the documents. “Most of all, I’ve wanted to find SaDiablo, and discover a way to return him to Kaeleer one way or another. Do you know any specifics that might be relevant for me? A location you’ve heard about where I could find allies for my endeavor? Something that's common knowledge to you but only a hint and a rumor to someone like me? Anything at all?"
She wrinkled her nose at him when he spoke the name SaDiablo. She slowly shook her head and responded, “Unfortunately I have little information as well. My companion and I are looking for some help currently. While I cannot tell you directly, yet, where it is we are headed you are welcome to join us. As far as the Queen Killer goes, I know not where he is or what he does. It does not concern me what that beast does.”
She maintained a civil tone but was unable to keep the ice from it when speaking of the infamous Saetan.
Jandar's eyes widened in shock at the title Fatima used for SaDiablo as well as her obvious distaste of the male. Wh- No, it can't be, he can't be co-operating with her voluntarily. He was still in disbelief as he answered. "I...see.,"
he slowly nodded his head, considering her offer. "I will join you then. You know this land far better than I. Shall we meet in front of the inn at sunrise?"
Fatima nodded that she would meet him. It seemed their work together was done so she took her leave and snuck back down to her room. Once safely in the confines of her rented space, she sat down on the bed and stared at the floor. She was processing everything that had just happened and what it meant for her future. She would need to tell Jassen when he came back to the room. If he hadn’t already and gone to search for her in a panic.
After Fatima was done inspecting the documents, and they’ve discussed all they could in the time they had, Jandar put the correspondence and pouch in order, off to find Erkyn again. He headed to the rooms the inn had allocated for the guests to stay at. If Erkyn didn’t have one of his lackeys acting as a guard, Jandar would simply head from room to room, knocking and asking after the Lord until he found him. "I 'ave the pouch,"
he'd introduce with a cocky smirk, the accent and tone he'd introduced himself to Erkyn with in place, the messenger bag held enticingly in the palm of his hand. "'Ow much it worth it t'you, then?"
Erkyn sneered and glanced about, "Where is Gendry and that wench?"
Jandar shook his head scornfully. "Your fella went off some'ere af'er he made sure this is yours. Maybe for a drink or to get a fuck of his own,"
he shrugged carelessly. "The girl's likely cowerin' in some corner, tryin' to keep away from me,"
he groused. "Now, this,"
he indicated Erkyn's possession "Jus' so you know, it was in the stables of all fings. The stables! Dunno who stole it, but they left it lyin' 'round with the papers all tossed 'bout. Your guard wasn't sure if anyfing's missin', so you'll hafta check that yourself. I won't mind if you pay me by the number of papers returned,"
he affected a crooked grin.
Erkyn sneered and snatched the satchel sorting through it quickly. Tossing a small clamp of the silver marks the Blood used as currency. In total there would be twenty. An overly generous sum for how miserly Erkyn was. "Get gone before I decide you'd make a better gift to the Queen."
Jandar caught the marks with a pleased smile. "'Course. Pleasure doin' business, Lord,"
with that, he turned, and left, heading to his own room for the second time that day, though it'd been perhaps an hour or two since he'd first settled himself in there. After locking himself in the room that was temporarily his, he stored the marks with his other belongings. They would certainly be useful in the future. Money always was. With a sigh, the Kaeleer native sat on the bed, rubbing his temples. All the stress had caused a headache to built, not to mention the pain in his hand from when he'd hit the wall had made itself known. Thankfully, all he had to do now was rest until tomorrow and avoid Erkyn and his men while they were all still in such dangerous proximity. The Warlord rolled his shoulders and neck with a soft groan, slid his knife from where it was still sheathed at his back and slid it under the pillow, undid said belt and removed his boots, then threw himself on the bed to finally fall asleep.