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    Batchelorette Number 1!

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    Josh
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 05/02/13, 11:22 pm

    "Well then, I'll look forward to working with you," Ardith replied, her smile widening, "in whatever capacity."
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    elanya
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 05/02/13, 11:28 pm

    "Me too," Vedran agreed, smiling in return. Ardith was easy to like and talk to, at least so far. Of course they had a lot more ground to cover still.... "I think that, whatever else, we could be good friends and allies."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 05/02/13, 11:33 pm

    "Hedging your bets already?" Ardith asked playfully. "And here I thought this was going pretty well..."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 05/02/13, 11:55 pm

    Vedran smiled a little ruefully - maybe this was the time to put a few more cards on the table. "I don't know about hedging - I'm just not counting my chickens before they're hatched. There are some things you should probably know before you decide if you want to pursue things any further." He paused to take another sip of wine and to give her a chance to react. The drink seemed to be disappearing more quickly than he'd intended.
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 12:02 am

    "Well, I imagine that's probably true for you as well," Ardith responded diplomatically, "but it sounds as though you had some specifics in mind."

    Ardith's mind raced, trying to think what this was about. Could it be something about the end of his first marriage? That wasn't to long past, really, so lingering issues were possible, even likely. She tried to shape her face into a curious but neutral expression.
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 12:11 am

    Vedran nodded slowly. He'd practiced this some, with his counselor at the temple of Sehanine, and with Aleyn, but despite his efforts his could feel his pulse quickening and the heat rising in his cheeks. "There are... three things, really. Two of them are more personal, and the third is about the mysterious project, They're all very private, though, and I hope that, whatever you may think, you can respect that."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 12:19 am

    Ardith gave a concerned look, pausing to consider her answer before she spoke.

    "Of course I can respect that, but, from your tone and expression, I want you to consider whether you want this to go anywhere. You sound like you may not be ready to tell me whatever it is you feel like you should. If you think you are, and you're willing to trust me, I'm happy to hear what you have to say."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 12:50 am

    "Thank you," he said honestly. "That is... part of the issue. I'm not sure I am ready for any of this, not yet, but there are some external factors as regards the timing." Vedran hesitated, unsure what was best to proceed with. Nachtur would be a good transition, but the other parts might get lost in the ensuing conversation... he made an effort to stay calm, and to maintain a respectful amount of eye contact, but it was harder as he pressed on.

    "I'm sorry - I should probably start with the personal issues. The first, then is about my last marriage. My wife and I were not...not very compatible. I was overconfident, going on to things and... we just weren't well suited. I've been having difficulty regaining that confidence, to the point where I find the idea of remarriage quite intimidating, even though I am hoping to be much more involved with the process, and I know it won't be the same..."

    He trailed off, smiling apologetically. His nerves weren't quite has bad as he'd feared - the wine had likely helped with that. It was probably best to press on through it now. At least for this it was easier to meet her gaze. "In one sense, I have been very lucky. Coming out of...my divorce, I found someone who I love very much, who has helped me a lot, and who makes me very happy. I promised him that that I wouldn't set him aside, and that I would find someone who, whatever relationship we may build, will respect what I have with him as well."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 01:46 pm

    Ardith's reaction returned to a reflexive neutrality as she considered Vedran's revelations. It wasn't as though it was all terribly surprising, but she hadn't considered the prospect of entering into a relationship with this many complications.

    "I appreciate you being upfront about this."

    She paused again, thinking.

    "I think you're going to need to clarify some things for me to understand exactly what you're proposing here. When you say you want someone who will respect what you have with your...partner? Are you meaning someone who will share you? Or was your comment earlier about being 'good friends and allies' a statement of all you want out of a spouse?"
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 04:17 pm

    Vedran released his breath slowly - she hadn't run screaming, at least. "I don't know - I suppose that depends one the person, to some extent. I know I want a real partnership with whoever I marry and, obviously, friends and allies is part of that. I can't imagine building ...that kind of close relationship without ...caring for someone more than superficially...." He'd meant to add more, but by the time he'd come to the end of what he was saying he was feeling anxious and a little flustered. Maybe that was the root of it, of why exactly this whole process was so overwhelming when he thought about it too hard... Maybe. Maybe what he needed was to redirect things a bit. He gave another apologetic smile, pulling himself together. "What about you - what are you looking for in a spouse?"
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 04:59 pm

    "You know as well as I do that my preferences aren't the sole factor at work here, even from my side of this. So long as we're being honest, you represent an unique opportunity for my family: a marriage alliance with one of the elven Houses, one likely to produce 'marked heirs of my own people. That's not something I can take lightly."

    She sighed, avoiding Vedran's gaze for a moment before composing herself and looking him in the eye.

    "I've never been one to idolize romance, Vedran, but I'll admit I had hoped any possible marriage would begin with a few less caveats. I don't want a marriage on paper, I want one in practice: a genuine partnership that goes beyond the benefits to our families or reputations. If you think you can manage to be true and respectful to me and your partner, I'm willing to entertain the idea."

    Her expression softened.

    "Continuing on this honesty thread, you're intelligent, articulate, politically well-positioned, and we share a lot of similar views. And, let's not kid ourselves, you are very handsome. You're everything I was looking for in a potential spouse. This is...less than ideal, but I'm not naive. Successful marriages have begun with much more of an uphill battle for people in our position."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 05:19 pm

    "Well..." He grinned a little ruefully. "I'm sorry I can't be perfect." He continued more seriously. "I do think I can manage to be respectful - I certainly hope I can. I don't want to be a hypocrite, or to marry someone only to make our Houses happy." After a brief consideration, he continued - there didn't seem likely to be a better time to mention it. "I did ask him to come, to see if he might be able to meet you and figure out if the three of us could all get along, which I hope would be the case... There's also the third matter that we haven't discussed yet."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 06:11 pm

    Ardith nodded slowly, considering.

    "On to the third matter, then, I think. I'd prefer to know everything I'm in for conceptually before I have to deal with them in reality."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 06:59 pm

    "Alright, then. This is still something we are trying to keep fairly quiet, but I think I am making the right call here.. I guess we'll see." He smiled, trying to be encouraging, but by habit he dropped his voice before continuing. "To put it all in to a very condensed form, what we've been working on is a way to cleanse Nachtur, and to restore the city - hopefully to restore it as the goblinoid homeland, and as part of Nerath. To show that willingness to correct our past wrongs, at home."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 07:19 pm

    "I...that's..." Ardith stammered, stunned. "Is that possible? Cleansing Nachtur, I mean. The rest...that will take some doing, but it at least I understand the methods."

    She leaned forward, enthralled.

    "Can you really do it?"
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 07:26 pm

    "I think so yes. We know how to do it - we're working on the logistics of getting everything organized, but it is going to come down to some hard fighting."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 07:45 pm

    "Not just on the battlefield," Ardith replied wryly. "This...a habitable Nachtur could change the balance of power for the eight cities. Well, nine cities, then, and that alone, whatever else the outcome, would change everything. You're going to need pretty broad support, which explains the sudden push for marriage."

    She looked away, her expression somewhat sour.
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 08:04 pm

    "I know, it feels a little... mercenary, maybe? And I'm sorry. I'm trying to find some kind of balance in this process. I do like you, as a person." He smiled. "You're intelligent, charming, insightful, lovely, and we do share a lot of opinions and interests. I think we have the potential to build something good together, if you're open to exploring the possibility."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 08:42 pm

    Ardith gave a tentative smile back.

    "Flattery aside, I'll say at least that I'm not closed to it. You'll understand if I need some time to consider the idea. Whatever I decide, whatever happens with my house, you have my support in your no-longer-mysterious-to-me endeavor."

    She reached for her glass, finishing off the rest of her wine.

    "I suppose I should meet, ah, the third party involved in this decision, hmm?"
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by elanya on 06/02/13, 09:16 pm

    "I do understand, and thank you. I appreciate your willingness to do so."

    He glanced around, gauging the levels of interest of the few other club-goers before waving Aleyn over, flashing him a reassuring smile as he approached, and shifting over to make room for him to join them.

    "Ardith, this is my partner, Aleyn Harrowden. Aleyn, Prelate Ardith Aethelin."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 09:34 pm

    Ardith realized she should not have been surprised. Vedran had only so many male associates, many of whom were already in relationships (or at least rumored to be). The sorcerer was attractive in his own way, and likable, if shy, though Ardith had chalked that up to his unfamiliarity with high society on the few occasions upon which they'd spoken.

    "Aleyn, a pleasure to see you again, even under these...unusual circumstances. Please, sit."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Curtana on 06/02/13, 09:55 pm

    Aleyn gave a polite, if nervous, smile to Ardith as he took a seat. "Thank you. I'm glad to have this chance to talk to you. I gather from the fact that I'm here at all that Vedran's already explained, uh, the situation?" He glanced from one to the other, trying to get a sense of the atmosphere at the table.
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 09:58 pm

    Ardith returned the polite smile with one of her own.

    "The essentials, yes. Given this opportunity, though, I'm curious to know what your hopes are for this...situation."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Curtana on 06/02/13, 10:20 pm

    Aleyn had given plenty of thought to how he would answer this question, at least. "First of all, my hope is for Vedran to marry someone who can be his friend and companion, someone he can trust and feel comfortable with. I love him very much, and I want him to be happy. And so I'd prefer it if that person, whoever it might be, could be my friend as well. I don't want to cause a scandal or embarrass anyone, but I also don't plan to be a... a shameful little secret who has to lie or sneak around behind anyone's back. I suppose ideally, I would like to be treated like another member of the family. Not to say that I would expect to live in the same house," he added, "but to be... welcomed there, that would be nice. Uh, maybe this is more technical detail than you meant," he said, ducking his head shyly and looking up at her through the hair that fell forward across his brow as he did so. "I just want things to work out so that I don't lose Vedran, and I'm willing to do what I can to help make that happen."
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    Re: Batchelorette Number 1!

    Post by Josh on 06/02/13, 10:44 pm

    Ardith gave a small, sympathetic frown at Aleyn's last statement.

    "I'm sorry you're in this situation, I understand it must be difficult for you both."

    She paused a moment before continuing.

    "If I agree to this, rest assured it won't be a half-measure. You'll find that's not really something I do. And, as much as I mentioned to Vedran earlier I'm not partial to resorting to legalism, there are ways to make this work and at least attempt to guarantee a measure of protection for each of us."

    "I know, were I in your position, Aleyn, I wouldn't want to end up with no recourse should relations between any of us deteriorate. The marriage contract can be private, its totality known only to us. And I know several temples are willing to officiate...let's say 'less conventional' marriages. If we're all amenable, we can have a private ceremony to make whatever this relationship turns out to be more official."

    "Essentially, I don't want any of us to be unaware of what the situation is, and I want to make sure that everyone is happy with it. Again, assuming I agree to this, which I'll admit will likely take some time."

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