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    The Big Picture

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    The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 02:57 pm

    Kallista stood on the airship's deck in the bright morning sunlight and stared out over the expanse of wilderness they were sailing over. She checked the position of the sun for the umpteenth time since she'd woken up. From what she could tell it was nearly ten o'clock. By now it was all over. Miles and miles behind them, Anibaal had taken his last breathe.

    It was a strange feeling, part sadness, part relief, part fear of what was still to come. She hadn't been able to make up her mind whether or not she should go to the execution. Whether she should allow him to die alone or be there for his final moments. But then Monti had sent them on this trip and her decision had been made for her.

    She forced herself to push away from the railing and sighed. It was over now, for better or worse.

    She saw Vedran standing near the other railing, looking almost as pensive as she felt. The poor guy had been under a lot of stress lately, both personally and professionally. Kallista felt bad that she hadn't noticed it weeks ago.

    Maybe they could both do with a friendly ear right now. She made her way towards him, trying her best to smile when he saw her approach.

    "Copper for your thoughts..." she said, leaning against a nearby railing.
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 03:05 pm

    Vedran smiled back when he saw Kallista approach, but her phrase of choice took him right back to the night of the level test, and his eyes went a little wide, remembering just where *that* conversation had led. "Uh... nothing really, just watching the change. How about you?"
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 03:13 pm

    Kallista shrugged.

    "I don't know, really. Just life. Anibaal was scheduled to be... executed... about an hour ago. It shouldn't bother me but... it does."

    "I'm thinking I should have stayed. That maybe I should have been there."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 03:15 pm

    "Anibaal?" He knew the name, but it wasn't quite ringing any bells.
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 03:22 pm

    "The tiefling from Bael Hexott that we arrested. You weren't there, but it was in the field report we filed. What the report didn't mention is that he's my... he was my cousin."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 03:28 pm

    The eyebrows went up briefly. "I'm sorry Kallista. That has to be a little rough. Were you close at all? I know you left there, but.... I'm sure it wasn't easy."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 03:57 pm

    Kallista shrugged yet again.

    "Close? No. I wasn't really close to anyone there. How could I be? But I knew him. Pretty well, actually. He and my half-brother Kelech used to be very close. They used to do jobs together for my father and even for the All-seer sometimes. The two of them were always pretty rough on me growing up. More so than the rest of my family, even."

    She sighed.

    "I don't know how I feel about it, actually. It's... confusing. He was completely insane. I tried to talk to him. A week ago, when things were slow. I went down to the prison to see him. I felt like I should, you know? He was still family. But... Everything he said was just ravings. I'm almost glad that he's gone... and that makes me feel like a horrible person."


    Last edited by tuck on 18/05/12, 04:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 04:09 pm

    "Far from it, Kallista. From everything you've said, your family are dangerous people, and you're well away from them. He might have been your cousin, but he was a dangerous criminal. Just because he was family - you're not responsible for him, and I doubt very much he deserved or appreciated any concern you showed him."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 04:44 pm

    "I know", she said with a nod, "It's just... it could have been me. But for the grace of Avandra, I could have ended up as one of my father's lackeys, brainwashed and raving."

    She sighed and sat down on a nearby barrel.

    "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be bothering you with all this. Actually I came came over to see if you were doing okay."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 05:34 pm

    "Oh, you're not troubling me," he said reassuringly, not really feeling like talking about his own problems just then. "Not at all. I'd half considered going to try and talk to him myself at one point, but I couldn't figure out a good way to let me in. I know some people just see them as crazy extremists, but I want to know what they were doing raiding outside the city... and in Thanatopolis last fall, too. Things are getting more turbulent everywhere, it seems."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 08:12 pm

    "Yeah" she nodded, "When I was there we kept to the immediate area. Mostly small villages. As far as I know they never even traveled as far as any of the major cities. It seems like something has stirred them up since then. First Thantopolis and now near Highmark. My father was always ambitious, but even at their worst The Cult didn't have that kind of power. Something's changed. Anibaal hinted when I talked to him that something big was happening, but he wouldn't say what."

    She ran a hand through her hair in frustration.

    "It's like a giant fucking puzzle, you know? The disaster, the cult, the dragonmark houses, the business with Sorrow... I feel like I've got the pieces, but I'm not smart enough to see how they fit."

    "I just can't see the big picture."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 18/05/12, 11:08 pm

    "Yeah... Tell me about it. That's pretty much where I'm at." Now is was Vedran's turn to sigh. "We just don't have all the information. I was talking to Agyness about it a while ago, and she thinks it would be worth talking to Brenn - he sees even more than we do about what's going on everywhere. We already owe him some explanations, anyway."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 18/05/12, 11:14 pm

    "Yeah, I guess we do" Kallista said, "I suppose there's only so long I can keep him distracted from asking with sex. Do you really think he might know something we don't?"
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 12:49 am

    "Heh. Well *I* can't distract him with sex at all, so I guess one of us had better spill. He really might, though. Picking up on what people are up to is kind of what he does, and he might be able to help nus fit a few more pieces together. But that reminds me, since she mentioned Beryl too, that I wonder if, well..."

    Vedran paused, frowning for a moment. Although he'd been thinking about this some, he hadn't yet put it in to words. "I was thinking about how you guys were set up on the way to Grimfar. First of all - yes, the trade routes can be dangerous, and bandits of various sorts aren't uncommon, caravans get attacked and all that. It happens. But you guys encountered a lot or resistance - a lot of troubling resistance at that. Pirates, cultists of Orcus and the Geyr Hextor... The shipments that House Odanet was delivering were meant to help with the relief in Undertow. If those had been more seriously disrupted, people would be starving, and angry... The way the city handled the disaster relief - poorly, that is - is a wound that hasn't healed, and I don't think it would take much to stir those tensions up. So... I find it hard to believe that the groups you encountered were just all coincidentally where they were. That's pretty messed up, and there's more, too.

    "So, we know that the pirates were expecting you, and that someone employed them to deal with the Thunderbolts. I think they were planning to capture you for someone or, well, they should have just killed you. I had sort of been assuming that it was...." He paused again, glancing around the fairly empty deck. "...those goons we were tossing off mottes in Mythragal. Maybe the guy who showed up at my house was the same person who sent me that note. It's possible, and I missed my chance to just *ask*. But what if it wasn't them? If someone was using the pirates to harass House Odanet's supply lines, I'd really *hope* it wasn't them, right? But it just opens more questions. Even if it was them, it means they were willing to sell out Beryl to shut us down, and she's not a nobody. And, like I said, those supply lines are important. And we still don't know who was funding that research, either."

    He sighed again, and gave a sympathetic smile. "It's frustrating, not knowing more, and not even knowing where to look for it. So I at least hope Brenn can tell us something."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 10:43 am

    "Gods..." Kallista breathed, "I hadn't even considered most of that. This is some pretty serious shit."

    She shook her head.

    "But what's connecting all of it? The only one who seems to benefit from all of this is the Cult, and that's only because they thrive on chaos. But they don't have the kind of resources to do all of this. Or do they?"

    Kallista grimaced.

    "Grrr! This is so fucking beyond me. I'm much more of a point and thwack kinda girl. I don't have a mind for conspiracies and intrigue."

    "And as far as Brenn goes, even if he does know something we don't, do we really want to ask him? I don't want to bring him any further into this than he already is. This is dangerous shit we're wading into. If something happened to him... if he got hurt..."

    Kallista sighed and looked away, out over the changing wilderness.

    "...I don't think I could deal with that, V."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 11:07 am

    "It's beyond all of us, really... But we have already involved Brenn, Kallista. The best way to keep him safe now is to let him know what he is dealing with - we owe it to him. He's far from helpless, and he's surrounded by good trustworthy people on the Highwind. He'll be okay." And there was also the fact that if they went back on their bargain, he was going to be pretty pissed, but Vedran didn't want to put that thought in her head if he didn't have to. Instead he leaned over and put a hand on her shoulder.

    "Anyway, Kallista, I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You are good for more than just point and thwack. You're smart, and you care, and yes it is a lot to deal with, but that's not any kind of failing on your part, okay?"
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 11:13 am

    Kallista smiled and put her hand on top of Vedran's.

    "Okay" she said, "And it's not that I don't trust him or think he's helpless. I just don't want to lose him."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 11:55 am

    "I know - I don't either, he's one of my closest friends. But it's not going to happen."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 12:06 pm

    Kallista nodded but said nothing. She wanted to agree, but she didn't feel as sure about it as Vedran seemed to. Brenn was one of the few really good things in her life. If she screwed that up...

    But it was best not to dwell on that for now.

    "Are you okay, Vedran?" she asked, hoping to distract herself from thoughts of Brenn, "I mean... really okay? I know you and Jacinthe... I don't know what went on there. It kinda came as a surprise when you told us you'd left her. I won't pry if you don't want me to, but... do you need to talk about it?"
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 12:11 pm

    "Oh." Apparently he hadn't dodged that bullet afterall. Sighing, he went back to leaning on the railing. "I don't know what there is to say really. We're just... not really good for each other, but we're both pretty good at hiding it. You're not the only one who was surprised."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 12:22 pm

    Kallista nodded.

    "When we worked together at the orphanage she said that yours was 'A comfortable arrangement'. I guess that wasn't exactly the truth, huh?"

    She shrugged and looked him in the eye.

    "I'm sorry if I made it worse for you by... well, by being me. I didn't mean to make things even more stressful for you."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 12:45 pm

    Surely, if Kallista kept looking, she would see all the things that were wrong with him; he broke eye contact quickly, staring back out at the chaotic landscape. "It was nothing I couldn't handle. Our problems have nothing to do with you, or anything you did... Don't worry about that." That was all true enough anyway, and she hoped she would believe it. "I'm surprised she said anything to you at all."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 01:01 pm

    "Well, she was pretty evasive about it. At the time I just chalked it up to how sensitive people around here seem to be about that kind of stuff. I guess that was only part of it."

    "I know you're a private person, andthere's probably not much that I can do to help anyway, but if you ever need anything... even if it's just to talk... let me know, ok?"

    She smiled.

    "And I promise I won't use it as an excuse to try to get you into bed."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by elanya on 19/05/12, 01:21 pm

    Was he a private person? He was pretty sure he used to be more open and honest with his friends, but now there were too many things he just couldn't handle. Saying anything at all the Beryl had been really difficult, and that had just been scratching the surface in a lot of ways. But if he resented having changed that way, he didn't have to accept it if it wasn't who he wanted to be. Maybe saying something would be better than nothing at all, than just trying to pretend he could handle it when he couldn't. "Yeah... thanks. I'm just trying to sort things out now - what I want now, and whether it is even something I can have, and what I can do if it isn't."
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    Re: The Big Picture

    Post by tuck on 19/05/12, 01:25 pm

    Kallista grinned.

    "That sounds familiar. If it helps, you're not the only one trying to figure that stuff out. I think all of us are to a certain extent."

    "What is it you think you want?" she asked.

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