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    Getting to know Ardith

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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 12/02/13, 10:12 pm

    Ardith made a weird face.

    "I hope you won't take this as criticism or judgement, but are you sure you've been fair to yourself in all of this? Vedran seems very nice, but it looks like you're having to make a lot of sacrifices for half of a relationship."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 12/02/13, 10:36 pm

    Aleyn shot her a puzzled look. "It's not half a relationship," he said. "I feel whole with him, for the first time since... a long time," he finished abruptly, not quite completing his thought.

    "Duck!" Macen exclaimed, drawing Aleyn's attention as he started rapidly heading in the direction of the pond and its inhabitants.

    "Whoops, we'd better catch up to him," Aleyn said, hurrying after the toddler. Fortunately his legs were considerably longer and he was able to overtake him before he could run headlong into the pond. "Now, I think there's a couple of stale crusts in the pocket of that bag," he said over his shoulder to Ardith with a smile. "That ought to keep him busy."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 13/02/13, 12:31 am

    Ardith rifled through the bag to find the bread crusts, eventually producing them. She knelt to hand some to Macen, throwing a few pieces to the assorted waterfowl before leaving Macen to it.

    As she rose, she turned to Aleyn again.

    "I'm sorry if I upset you. We did say honesty was our best plan for making this all work, but I wasn't meaning to criticize."

    She turned to watch Macen for a moment before continuing.

    "Maybe we can seque into a related topic you both share. I don't have a lot of dealings with the guilds. This is probably the most cliche question, one I'm sure you and the Thunderbolts get a lot in the press, but, honestly, what's it like being an adventurer?"
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 13/02/13, 06:41 am

    "I wasn't offended," Aleyn reassured her. "I just wanted to make sure you knew I ... I don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of in this."

    He watched as the ducks waddled over, sensing an easy source of food. Macen gave a high-pitched squeal of delight that sent them fluttering back for a moment, but their desire for the bread outweighed their prudence around toddlers and they soon returned to gobble up the crumbs he dropped.

    "Adventuring is... not really like in the books. I don't know if you've read any of those, but they make it seem like it's one exciting thing after another. Mostly it's one exciting thing followed by two weeks of walking, and then another exciting thing if you're lucky," he said with a smile. "There's a lot of sleeping on the ground, and eating odd or unappealing food because that's what's there. And even in the exciting moments there's the fear and pain... But it has some pretty amazing moments, or I guess most of us wouldn't keep doing it. I mean, I quit for a while there, and yet I came back."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 13/02/13, 07:24 am

    "Well, you said yourself there were motivations in addition to the work," Ardith commented with a smile.

    "You weren't with the Thunderbolts before, though, right? I was pretty sure they're a new group. I know Capulette speaks well of all of you."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 13/02/13, 09:13 am

    "Well, there were certain motivations for joining the Thunderbolts as opposed to any other team," he said with a shy smile. "My old group have all retired and moved on to other things, but I was sort of on my way back already, or else I would never have run into Vedran or the others in the first place. Although I was imagining I might try GMing - I guess I still might someday, if things settle down. So, you know Monty... I mean, Capulette?"
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 13/02/13, 10:35 am

    "She's the best," Ardith replied enthusiastically. "Our families are friends, and she was an officiant when I was an acolyte. I can't say she taught me everything I know, but she helped me through a lot. I know how she is at navigating our temple hierarchy; she must be a genius at the Union."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 13/02/13, 10:42 am

    "Yeah, she's great," Aleyn enthused. "She really knows her stuff, and she's great at finding us jobs that are well-suited to our skills, as well as finagling things so that we still have time and opportunity to do stuff that's not...officially guild-sanctioned," he added with a wink. "Like all of this, for instance."

    A thought occurred to him. "Say, do you happen to know a paladin named Tilma? She was in my old party..."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 13/02/13, 12:45 pm

    Ardith gave the question a moment's consideration before answering.

    "I knew a Tilma Voruk when I was an acolyte. I think she became a paladin. She was a few years ahead of me."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 13/02/13, 01:12 pm

    "That's her!" Aleyn said cheerfully. "I worked with her for several years, but we've kind of lost touch, unfortunately. She was always caring and helpful, though - a really good team member to have on your side. I guess she's married and has kids now - well, she had one even before... before we split, but I heard she has more now. Probably also more husbands," he added with a smile, to cover his momentary hesitation.

    Meanwhile, Macen, having run out of bread for the ducks, threw his stick into the water, then picked up a handful of pebbles to follow it. Aleyn made sure he wasn't getting too close to the edge, but he seemed all right for the moment, anyway.
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 14/02/13, 08:06 am

    Ardith returned Aleyn's smile, likewise casting a glance at Macen before continuing.

    "So, if I may, why did you stop adventuring before?" Ardith asked gently.
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 14/02/13, 11:20 am

    "Oh..." Aleyn hesitated, grateful for the distraction of Macen coming over to him and tugging on his pants-leg.

    "Bwead?"

    "Sorry," Aleyn told him, "that's all there was. The ducks ate it all."

    Macen's face scrunched up for a moment and, trying to avert a crying spell, Aleyn crouched down to pick up some more pebbles with him and throw them into the water too. Once the toddler was sufficiently distracted with that task, he turned back to Ardith.

    "It was kind of ... awful, really. The short version is, we got into a situation that was way over our heads, and... everyone else died while I listened. I was restrained in a trap, and I couldn't help them... Anyway, I got myself out, eventually." He held out his right hand to show her the scars, the missing fingers. "I wound up having to walk back by myself - it took a couple of weeks, I think, but I was pretty messed up and it's kind of a blur... In the meanwhile, they got raised - we'd put aside some money for that over time, just as a precaution - but they figured I was gone for good." He shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets, and skipping over the details of what happened when he got back. "After that, nobody was really keen to continue, so everyone went their separate ways."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 14/02/13, 02:56 pm

    "I'm so sorry, I...I shouldn't have asked," Ardith responded, distraught.

    She remained silent, watching Macen and the ducks. At length, she spoke.

    "How long ago was that? How did you go back out after something like that?"
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 14/02/13, 03:39 pm

    Aleyn shrugged, and managed a weak smile. "It's okay - it was bound to come up sooner or later. At least this time I have ducks and a little kid to look at while I tell the story, that makes anything better." He scuffed the toe of his boot through the pebbles of the path. "It's been three years... more like three and a half, now. I moved home for a while, and when I was recovered enough, I worked at the alchemy shop of the woman who trained me when I was a kid - all of that helped get me back on my feet. Going back to the temple helped too, when I was finally able to manage that. But it wasn't... enough, I guess. It was peaceful, and that was good while I was still healing, but after a while I felt sort of empty inside. I missed feeling like what I did mattered, and I missed having that connection with people, too. Maybe if I'd had more time, maybe it would have gotten better, I don't know. But my father died in the Overlook disaster, and after that, I just felt like trying to get back to normal wasn't going to work this time. I needed to do something more, and that was when I got the idea that maybe I could GM. This... was an unexpected turn of events, but it's worked remarkably well to help pull me out of my depression."

    "I'm sorry," he continued. "I didn't mean to turn this conversation into such a downer. We can talk about something more cheerful if you like."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 15/02/13, 10:48 am

    Ardith gave Aleyn a concerned look as he spoke, stopping herself from trying to give him a hug. She didn't know him well enough at this point.

    "I'm...maybe happy isn't the word, but I'm okay talking about whatever you want to. This was supposed to be an opportunity for us to get to know each other better after all."

    She shrugged somewhat awkwardly.

    "Besides, I'm pretty sure my life is pretty boring comparatively. Well, boring to someone who's not interested in politics."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 15/02/13, 11:10 am

    "It's not that I'm not interested in politics," Aleyn told her, "I just don't know a lot about it. I'm willing to learn, though. Maybe you could explain to me more about what you do in your job? 'Aide' seems pretty undefined as a position, so what do you actually do most days?"
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 15/02/13, 11:27 am

    Ardith smiled.

    "Well, I work for Noralin Jireh, who is on the CNPCA."

    She paused, realizing she should probably explain.

    "The Committee on Non-Protected Citizen Affairs. They set a lot of policy in regards to our non-protected population. Unfortunately, its a mix of people who want to get rid of that distinction, and others who want to make sure it stays around. In any event, they interact more than any other dovah with the NPC population as a whole."

    "As an aide, I take a lot of meetings for Noralin, try to resolve what I can, and kick the rest up the chain of command. There are actually some people below me in that hierarchy, but I try to make sure I can see as many as possible. Still, I'm sure I don't have to tell you there're a lot of grievances to be heard."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 15/02/13, 12:16 pm

    Aleyn nodded, listening as well as he could while still supervising Macen. The toddler had wandered a little way off, further along the edge of the pond, in order to follow the ducks, so Aleyn beckoned for Ardith to follow as they talked.

    "I'm sure there are," Aleyn agreed. "And probably a lot more that never make it to your desk, whether because the people involved don't know you're even there, or don't trust you to help them. I mean, not you as an individual, they don't know you, but they don't trust the authorities as a whole. So... I guess I'm hopeful that that's something your committee is working to alleviate."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 15/02/13, 02:00 pm

    Ardith gave a rueful smile.

    "Well, some of them at least," she said, rolling her eyes. "And, yeah, a lot of NPCs don't trust the government, and, honestly, usually rightfully so. Noralin's been trying to get official funding for some campaigns to fight that image and get some more general help, but its hard enough to get assistance for specific problems, much less NPC rights in general."

    She gave a sharp sigh.

    "We do what we can. I volunteer down the mountain when I'm able, which is not nearly often enough. I think its easy for people at the heights of power to forget how bad things get lower down. I wish people up here spent more time down there. Then maybe it wouldn't be the distinction it is."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 15/02/13, 02:24 pm

    "Oh? Where do you volunteer?" Aleyn asked curiously. "I try to help out at Roscoe's orphanage - well, it's not *his* orphanage, most of the Thunderbolts have contributed to it in one way or another, but I think we all kind of think of it as his," he added with a smile. "But like you said, it's not ever nearly enough."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 16/02/13, 03:39 am

    "My temple has three shelters, in East Docks*, Oldmine**, and Southwall***. I usually work at one of those three, helping pass out clothes, or blankets, or food."

    She shrugged.

    "Sometimes I just work directly for one of the NPC organizations: the Maglub Tog^, the Grumachar^^, the Tjanere Volket^^^. I know a fair number of people in them from my work, and they usually know the more specific needs of the people they represent. It's nice to be able to know you're making a difference. You know?"

    *- A working-class ocean-side neighborhood south across the bay from Undertow
    **- A poor, subterranean neighborhood on the site of the original excavations at Highmark
    ***- A neighborhood on the lower river, built along the original Highmark defensive wall from the Warring States period.
    ^- A prominent goblinoid rights group
    ^^- A coalition of orc clan mothers who present a mostly united front for their people to the Nerathi and Highmark governments
    ^^^- A goliath charitable organization with membership drawn from across Nerath


    Last edited by Josh on 18/02/13, 05:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 16/02/13, 11:27 am

    Aleyn nodded his agreement. "That definitely sounds like plenty to keep you busy. And what do you like to do in your spare time?" He smiled a little to show he was half-joking. "I know you probably don't have much, with such a busy schedule - believe me, I understand that. But... do you have any hobbies or things you like to do just for yourself?"
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 16/02/13, 11:55 am

    Ardith gave a sharp laugh.

    "Yeah, spare time, I think I've heard of that."

    She shrugged.

    "The usual, I guess. I read a lot, paint a little, attend events. I'm a big DLF* fan. My family has a box at the Hydras' Lair**, and they co-sponsor the Dawnridge*** Drakes****. Foozball fandom is kind of a tradition for me."

    *- Dungeon League Foozball
    **- The Highmark Hydras' home stadium
    ***- A mid-level, upper middle class neighborhood, known for several prominent temples
    ****- The Highmark Foozball League team from the eponymous neighborhood
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Curtana on 16/02/13, 12:19 pm

    "Sounds fun," Aleyn said with a smile. "Maybe we could all go to a match sometime. If you'd like, anyway. And if Vedran would like. I don't want to make plans on his behalf," he added with a little shrug.

    Glancing over to Macen, he noticed that the toddler had begun wading into the pond and had gotten about knee-deep. "Shit," Aleyn muttered under his breath, and hurried over to scoop him out of the water before he got any wetter.

    "Duck!" Macen shouted happily, then began to protest being removed from the vicinity of said duck, kicking his feet and splashing water all over Aleyn.

    Aleyn sighed, moving the flailing child a short distance away from the temptations of the pond. "His boots are filled with water," he said to Ardith. "Could you give me a hand? I'll hold him, you dump out his boots."
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    Re: Getting to know Ardith

    Post by Josh on 16/02/13, 03:20 pm

    Ardith laughed, giving Aleyn a commiserating look as he brought Macen struggling out of the pond.

    "Here, hand him over, I can handle this," she said, holding out her arms.

    "Come here, Macen," she cooed to the toddler, "let's get you dried off so you can get back to chasing the ducks, hopefully on land."

    Ardith rocked Macen in her arms, her eyes beginning to glow. They gradually brightened til no pupil or iris was visible, only a pale blue glow. Lines traced over her hands as she called upon the power of her dragonmark.

    Slowly, the water began to dissipate, changing to air. Macen giggled at the sensation, like bubbles popping on his skin. He wiggled, though not fussily, until Ardith was done and he was completely dry.

    "See, all better," Ardith said softly. "Do you think you can be good an not go into the water?"

    Macen nodded enthusiastically, anxiously fidgeting as Ardith put him back down. He immediately focused on the ducks, which had retreated along the edge of the pond. Ardith gave him a skeptical look.

    "We'll see how long that lasts," she commented to Aleyn, turning to him. She looked at his wet clothes and smiled. "I can do you too, if you want, and it won't even take a hug."

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