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    The Responsible One

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    elanya
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 18/04/12, 02:13 am

    Another deep breath, another deep sigh. He nearly offered up Aleyn as a 'safe' issue, but really, 'there's this nice guy who likes me' was going to be a pretty lame excuse for his behaviour, and it led down some pretty dangerous paths anyway. But he clearly couldn't sort himself out, and if he couldn't trust Beryl then he may as well just give up on everything and become a hermit. It was not an acceptable option. "I... well. Do you want painfully personal or dangerously political?" He looked past her again at the party, at Alia, still shirtless but having abandoned her shame as well, chasing Kallista with a bucket of ice, at all the people he knew, and the many he didn't, their celebrations still going strong. Probably no one would pay any attention. But maybe.... "And could you maybe close the door?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 18/04/12, 02:37 am

    Turning her head to follow Vedran's gaze, Beryl couldn't help but let out a short, stifled chuckle at the antics back in the party. Still, the rose to her feet, considering the decision before her. There was truly little doubt in her mind, though; however much the political information might be important, her friend mattered a great deal more to her. Sliding the door shut, she turned back to regard the half-elf.

    "I think...personal worries me more at the moment."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 18/04/12, 09:54 am

    This was going to be hard, no way around it, though he had expected that to be her answer. Vedran drew his knees up to his chest, turning his head away from her, looking back out in to the city, down into the street below as he tried to organized his feelings in to words, and to reassure himself that anyone who might be out there was too drunk to be paying attention to what might be going on above. As the silence stretched out just long enough to be worrying, he finally looked up back to where she'd sat again. He couldn't hold her gaze for long - he felt too ashamed of himself, too pathetic and lost and useless - but as he talked, haltingly at first, he would glance over, scared and reassured both by the honest concern he read on her face.

    "I.... I don't really know where to start. I guess you probably know already that Jacinthe and I we don't... we're not really...we're not a good match. I think she... resents...not me, maybe, but being married to me. or maybe it really is me, I don't know. She doesn't.... doesn't *want* me. And that's not easy, but it... I think it lets her feel like she has some control in her life, maybe, not to. But she won't talk to me, either, so I don't know.

    "I mean... once, once ever, did she even act like maybe things could be... okay, and I think it must have been too hard for her, or... I don't know. But she... I mean she found things.. We found things that ...worked, but it was like... I had to.... earn...whatever I got from her. And she still... she says I'm - That I'm not - that I ...don't deserve... her.

    "That's just how things were. And I could... I mean, I couldn't figure out any other way to make her happy, there wasn't anything else I could *do*, and I could just say, well if that's what she needs to think, it doesn't matter. It didn't make it *true*, you know, even if it was.... hard, sometimes."

    He paused again, trying still to understand what happened, really. "But.... after Mythragal... It was just before you came, and everyone left, and... I was already upset! I couldn't.... be what she wanted. And I... scared her, and she - I scared *myself*, and now I can't stop thinking that she's right, maybe, that I don't deserve.... her, or anyone, that I can't, I can't trust myself, I'm just... like... I can't."

    By the time he's finished speaking, he was wide eyed, panicked looking, hunched up in on himself. He felt ill, and scared, and even with Beryl there, helpless and ashamed.

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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 18/04/12, 10:56 pm

    Beryl listened with growing concerned, deeply troubled for her friend. She knew things were not well between the half-elf and his wife, but Vedran's account made it sound genuinely torturous.

    As he reached the end, Beryl had to fight the urge to reach out and comfort the bard. Given his reaction earlier, she felt it might just send him further into panic.

    "I don't..." she began, but couldn't think of the proper response. She let the silence linger a moment, hoping to calm Vedran somewhat.

    "Vedran, I trust you. There's a whole room of people in there who trust you, some of them literally with their lives. And I know you deserve that trust."

    Beryl let the statement stand for a moment before moving on to the question she knew would kill him to answer.

    "What happened?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 18/04/12, 11:44 pm

    He sat there with his head in his hands for a while. Knowing that the others trusted him should have helped, but it was all jumbled with the pressure not only to act right, but to think and plan and decide and lead. The potential repercussions of what they were facing were daunting on their own, and combined with everything else... But thinking about that, blaming himself for Sorrow Makarta's capture in the first place, was just a distraction from answering her question. The scene had been replaying in his mind ever since he'd started to open up, it lurked in the background of ever thought, and eyes closed or open, he couldn't make it go away.

    "I.... I just wanted things to be *different*. I wanted her to...." He felt nauseous, hot and cold all at the same time, the pressure in his head pounding out the cadence of his guilt. "And if... if she wouldn't ever want me... then I thought... about just..." His mouth went dry, and the confession came out in a hollow whisper, faced turned so that he wouldn't have to look at Beryl. Everything else came out in a desperate ramble. "It would have been rape, but -oh gods- I wanted it anyway. But she knew, she knew, and she was scared, and angry, and... and right, about everything, and just, I deserved it, everything, and I can't... I can't ever touch her again, and I don't know, about myself, and then everything else, with Macen, and that stupid note about you and the Thunderbolts, and then getting everything organized for that stupid fight, and now its not going to matter because we *have* to rescue her, because its my fault again, and, no matter what happens its going to ruin me, all of us, and I don't know what to *do*."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 12:06 am

    Beryl kept her face passive, but her thoughts were a storm, feelings and questions and regrets and ideas a complete jumble. How had it gotten this bad? How did none of them know? For the first time since the beginning of the conversation, she had doubts. It was possible Vedran might not entirely recover from this, and it certainly sounded like his marriage wouldn't.

    "Vedran, I...you said would have been."

    She swallowed, not sure how to continue.

    "You didn't actually do anything. The thought, however awful, was just a thought. You're not a bad person. You're actually a very good man, put in an impossible situation."

    Her expression softened from the concerned frown, still somber, but comforting.

    "Vedran, what has she done to you? We've known each other for years, and you're right, you don't sound like yourself. I've spent weeks with your teammates in tight quarters, I don't think this is them. I don't think its this other situation, which we'll get to."

    Beryl sighed. She didn't want to harass him, and she knew it would be a disservice to her friend to discount his feelings, however much weight she put on mitigating circumstances.

    "Whatever has been going on with you and your wife, whatever is is going on, its eating away at you. I don't want to lose my friend, and, worse, I don't want to watch him lose himself."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 09:21 am

    Hearing Beryl tell him he was still a good man nearly reduced him to uncontrollable tears - he knew it was true, that he wasn't as terrible as he felt, but he couldn't hold on to the idea on his own. A few strangled sobs escaped anyway, and while ye yearned to reach out, not to feel so alone and isolated and cut off from such honest care and affection, he couldn't quite unlock his fingers. As terrible as it was to admit any of this, finally speak it aloud, it still felt like something had opened, some pressure relieved.

    "I know, its not... its not right. She says that I'm...disgusting, and...weak because I need...her, because I can't... stop. She treats me like an animal, like her little pet, and its... No, its not just a game, I thought at first, some people just...in the bedrooom, they play...games, but its not like that, it- she believes it, she can't stand me, but she lets me if... if I'm... good. And .... it.. it doesn't matter Beryl, I can't do it anymore because - what if I did? If I really wanted... she couldn't.. stop me, and I can't let go of the idea, and it scares me. But I can't... I don't know if I can be alone, not when...and now people... because of Macen they - my father wants... more -children, and I, I just can't."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Curtana on 19/04/12, 10:55 am

    Aleyn, having located another drink and consumed it rather more rapidly than he probably should have, decided to step outside for a breath of air. The party was growing louder and more boisterous, and he felt like his head was whirling - he needed to clear it. He couldn't stop thinking about Vedran, about the strange mixed signals he was getting from him, the strangled little moan he now wondered if he had imagined when he sank into his arms for that few brief seconds...

    The air outside was cool enough to make him feel like his face was burning, but it was a relief to feel the cool breeze on his skin. At least until he heard the voice from the balcony above. "...she believes it, she can't stand me, but she lets me if... if I'm... good..." He was almost certain it was Vedran, but the half-elf sounded shaken, miserable, so different from his usual casual confidence. He knew he shouldn't listen, but he couldn't help himself. "...it doesn't matter, Beryl, I can't do it anymore..." He heard much of the bewildering confession, minus a few words here and there that were muffled by sobs, before walked quietly back inside, unable to invade such a private moment any longer.

    The revelation of the depth of Vedran's pain and problems, even if he didn't fully understand them, should have warned him off, but instead it only made him want to hold him again and tell him it would be all right, even if he didn't know how he could possibly fix the problem, and might well make it worse.
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 02:21 pm

    Beryl let him talk, emptying himself of his secrets. As much pity as she had for Vedran, she felt guilt for not being there for him. They'd all drifted, true, but they also should have made more effort to be available, to be near, to provide some semblance of unconditional support which it seemed Vedran was sorely lacking.

    "You shouldn't have to, Vedran. You don't have to. You've done so much at your own expense...there are ways out. And you don't have to be alone. There are people here who care about you, a lot. We're not going to let you go through anything by yourself."

    She hesitated, not wanting to pressure him.

    "Coming from me, I hope you'll understand the significance of this, but I think the first thing you need to do is leave. It doesn't have to be official, and you don't need to leave the city or anything. It wouldn't be that different from when you're out on a mission, but I think you need some space, something that is yours. Just to allow yourself some time, some distance, some perspective."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 03:11 pm

    "I know." Vedran sniffed, making a conscious effort to pull himself back together - having exposed his wounds for inspection, he withdrew them again. The headache was still there and the stress, but the pressure seemed less overwhelming, at least for the moment. But he was still afraid. "I thought about that, really I did. I was going to.... because of this, and all the other political shit, I thought it would be better. But then, everything happened with Macen. I tried hiding at the guild instead, trying to find things to do there, helping Monti more. But I don't know, now. Maybe it would be better, but I'm afraid I'll lose him forever if I do."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 03:33 pm

    "I hate to be this calculating, but I don't think she can do that now. You just soundly defeated the Adventurers' Guild, the whole city knows who you are. Jacinthe doesn't have the leverage to keep you away from your son. Not to mention, Jesseryn isn't likely to let go of a grandson whose already dragonmarked, and I don't think he'd immediately try to step in and take him himself."

    She paused, considering.

    "Nine hells, Vedran, take Macen with you. He's your son, there's no reason you can't. Macen has a nurse and a tutor; he'd be cared for exactly the same with you."

    Beryl sighed heavily.

    "I hate to say it, but this might actually be the best possible time to resolve this. You got the...social capital to extricate yourself as...smoothly as I think is possible."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 03:48 pm

    She made it sound so simple... but maybe it was - at least, maybe it was simpler than he'd feared. Marys might be trouble, but once Macen was in his arms, he was sure she would come along. His training gave him exactly the advantages he needed to get him there, if she tried to make a scene. If it came to it later, she could be replaced.

    It would kill Jacinthe - it would be losing everything she still had, everything that made her life worthwhile, and he felt ill again. "I...don't know if I could do that to her."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 04:03 pm

    "I can understand that. This is certainly not something to do unless you're sure, and also not something to rush into."

    Beryl's eyes closed as she took a breath, pausing.

    "But I think it's obvious you need to do something. This can't continue, okay? Certainly you see that. I guess...in the end, just know I'm here. We're here. Whatever you decide to do, we love you. And it can get better. It will get better."

    She offered a small, tentative smile.

    "For once, Vedran, I want you think about yourself."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 04:55 pm

    "I'll try. Its just hard right now." He could acknowledge, at least, that she was entirely correct about the timing. There might not ever be a better time. Certainly he couldn't face going back to her tonight, not now.

    Vedran smiled back, weakly and, finally uncurling from himself again, reached out to her.
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 09:50 pm

    Beryl had to stop herself from lunging at Vedran, relieved to see him reach out. Instead, she slid forward as gracefully as possible, under the circumstances, opening her arms to envelop him. There was still a...not a hesitance, but a lack of surety to him that made her wonder when the last time he'd allowed himself physical comfort. There was so much more she wanted to say, things she felt he needed to hear, but a feeling told her no words could express her sentiments than the simple hug.
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 10:45 pm

    There was still some internal resistance to the idea that he deserved this, and could be trusted with it, and that if he was being weak, it was okay and perhaps he deserved it more. But he trusted Beryl more that he did himself right now, and it was such a relief just to feel, well, loved.

    "Thank you," he muttered, trying not to just break down again. He was tired and worn out, and there wasn't still so much to take care of (despite her injunction to think about himself) he might have just let her hold him until he fell asleep, if she'd let him. But there were things to take care of, and even if he was thinking of himself, he didn't want to be selfish. After what certainly felt like a long time, he pulled back.

    "...I guess I can go to my mother's."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 11:04 pm

    Letting go somewhat reluctantly, Beryl leaned back to a kneeling position. There had been an entire different set of matters that Vedran needed to attend to, and it seemed like he wouldn't really be able to rest without addressing them somewhat. At his statement, Beryl gave a friendly smile.

    "Well, I doubt you'd get much rest here," she said, nodding her head back towards the party, "but I'm sure we can find you a place to stay if you don't want to bother Vinalia this late."

    She hated to push forward into another set of issues, but she steeled herself with the hope that she could help. Besides, talking about something less personal, however problematic, might help his mental state. Thinking back, she went with Vedran's phrasing.

    "So, ah, dangerously political?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 19/04/12, 11:16 pm

    Yep - still more to do. He sat back, taking a deep breath. "I wasn't kidding about the dangerous part." He looked around again, eyeing a few figures milling about with concern, afraid momentarily about what they may have heard already, but doing his best to pout it out of his mind. They seemed drunk, and hopefully *were* too drunk to be a problem. Nevertheless, he dropped his voice to a quiet whisper. "If this goes wrong, it could be construed as treason. Or even if it goes right. maybe especially then."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 19/04/12, 11:41 pm

    Beryl had to force herself not to draw back. Not that she wouldn't do anything in her power to help Vedran, but treason...the thought scared her. Grimfar didn't have a Sentinel House, but the dwarves worked closely with both Himrall and Machel. She was familiar with the rumors of the shadow wars they conducted beneath the notice of the general populace. The stories of those who drew their ire were concerning, to say the least.

    "What's going on, Vedran?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 20/04/12, 06:54 am

    He couldn't resist rubbing his temples again. It was a lot of stress, even if external pressures were something to which he was more accustomed, and typically had an easier time dealing with. Typically didn't involve major conspiracies and possible plots to destabilize the nation, or plunge it back in to war, or both, though.

    "It started when we thought about looking more in to what happened in Highmark - the Overlook Disaster, and all that. That's what took us to Mythragal, and really it is probably why you guys were ambushed on the way to Grimfar. Are you *sure* you want to know more?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 20/04/12, 01:09 pm

    Giving a wry smile, Beryl responded, "Vedran, this will go a lot quicker if you don't keep asking me whether I want to be involved or not. Lets just assume I'm in this as far as it goes and proceed from there."

    "Besides, it seems like I've already been involved on the edges, if you're correct. What have you found?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 20/04/12, 08:33 pm

    "I really just don't want to inflict this headache on anyone else I like." He sighed, again. he could still tell her no - all these confessions were rather draining. "I don't know if I have the energy to get in to all of it tonight, but I'm going to need to talk to the Thunderbolts as soon as... well, as soon as I can, anyway. The short version is, someone was trying to investigate the magics behind the Doom of Nachtur - the ritual that was used, specifically. Right now it looks like they were just trying to learn about it, to maybe see if the residual chaotic magics around the city could be fixed. But.... something went wrong, maybe on accident, maybe on purpose. We went to Mythragal because we were trying to backtrack a package that the guy running these experiments had receiver. Literally the afternoon after we started asking about her, the woman who'd sent it was seized from her shop by, well, according to evidence we found, someone from the Church of Moradin." He paused, trying to keep all the pertinent information straight. "Possibly because the thing that she shipped was an artifact used in the original ritual that had been stolen from their vaults. That's mostly conjecture, but I think it is solid conjecture."

    He shook his head. "Shoudltly after we found out about that, we - that's all of us who were in the city looking in to this from various angles - were ambushed by a group from House Himrall. While we were out on one of those lame little 'tour the city!' mottes, yeah. Of course we trounced them handily, and managed to interrogate one of them, to find out, you know, who they were, what they wanted, etc. I... Well. Tonight, that guy was waiting for me at my house after... After I dropped off Jacinthe. To talk to me. He said we'd managed to convince him that there was something fishy going on... Because, let me tell you there certainly *is*, and that he has been doing his own looking around since then. He told me that they - the churches of Ioune and Moradin, are bringing this woman to Highmark, to be plced in the custody of the Sentinel houses... Because they want her to continue the experiments, Beryl, to see if they can figure out what went wrong. So that they can use that. I can't let that happen."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 20/04/12, 09:35 pm

    Beryl listened with an increasing sense of dread, concerned now about more than just her friend. The problem was so...far-reaching, so dangerous, her mind reeled as she traced the machinations that must have gone into it.

    Temples of Ioun and Mordadin, Himrall and the rest of the Sentinel Houses...major players all. Iounites were likely concerned with mystical implications. Moradines could get proprietary when it came to artifacts, certainly. It was the Sentinel Houses which worried her. Himrall was not alone in Issenvik, or the rest of Nerath even, in wishing for the glory days of the Psionic War. If they were looking for a weapon, they could find support in the Parliament of Dragons towards reinstigating hostilities.

    In the end, it was Vedran's last line which stirred her, gave her something to focus on.

    "So the immediate concern is to keep that from happening, right? Which means we need to get her away from them, one way or the other. How much do you know about them bringing her to the city?"
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by elanya on 20/04/12, 10:02 pm

    "Three days from now -" He paused as Beryl's eyes went even a little wider at the compressed timeline. "Yeah. In three days, they're going to rendezvous at, uh... I need to look at a map... at one of the little river stops, pretty sure it is Beale's Landing, and make the exchange. They're bringing her by airship, but smuggling her into the city by boat."
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    Re: The Responsible One

    Post by Josh on 21/04/12, 11:28 pm

    "Well, this isn't exactly my area of expertise, but if its just getting one person off a boat or away from other people, certainly it can be done, right?"

    Beryl frowned.

    "Though, hmm, you and the Thunderbolts are kind of recognizable at this point, and probably even more so to these people. You know you don't have to do this on your own..."

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