Private Tales A Light in the Dark

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Lyssia D'avore

Lady Fae
Character Biography
The road wending along the Dalriadan coast remained more or less featureless, as it had since they had crossed the Strait between Erdeniin and Dalriada. Their pace remained steady - slowed, perhaps, by the lingering weariness of a rushed crossing and the fighting and bloodshed that had preceded it. It would have been nice to simply mount up and fly the rest of the way to their destination, but that would have been foolish. Pegasi were definitively an Erdeniini affectation, and uncommon in the extreme on this side of the strait.

It was Elijah's turn to ride, and so the diminutive woman walked alongside the mounted captain, lost in her own thoughts. Mostly, they circled round the land they now rode through. A place she had read of, but never visited. A place where, if anything, she belonged even less than she did in Dornoch; at least there she was simply an outcast, a criminal even. Here, she was a second-class citizen (were she born here, at least). And worse than that, she had certain innate abilities that would be very difficult to hide.

After all, even relying upon the rarity of fae-folk in the wider world, they were still known to some few. Magical beings, possessed of magical abilities...and here, in a place where women with such abilities were strongly disapproved of.

Eventually, she broke the silence that had persisted for a couple hours, driven by the ache in foot and thight. "How much farther before we come to...," she began, and then paused, clearly struggling to find the right word. She shook her head, red hair swaying as she did. "To wherever it is we are headed," she finished rather lamely. She did not wish to admit to the creeping exhaustion and rising ennui of their journey. It had been four days since they had set out from the ramshackle fishing village opposite the similar village they had employed Marissa - a local smuggle - to carry them across. Elliot had gone his separate way at that time, and left the two of them to continue on their own journey.

She looked up at Elijah, craning her neck to actually see the stolid man high upon his mount.
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"Half a day, maybe more," Elijah replied but he didn't look down at the woman walking by his horses side. His eyes were on the landscape around them and every now and then his hand twitched the hilt of his sword, hidden as it was beneath his jacket. Coming armed into this kingdom was not the best way to make friends and friends is what they had come here to make. In a way. If not with the Obanese than with their own folk across the sea. It still seemed so strange to him they would travel further away to do that but the logic had been sound. Having an army ready and waiting when they landed once more on native soil would be far safer. Give them power.

Still, he did not trust these lands. They house an ancient enemy and that hatred ran deep within his bones. So he treated every rock and tree with contempt and distrust and hoped when the time came to meet the people of this land he would have an easier time in masking it.

After glaring at one particular rocky outcrop that could feesibly hide a small band of robbers, he finally glanced down at Lyssa.

"Are you tired? I can walk."
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Once, she might have bristled at the question. Once, she might have tried to evade answering it out of some silly fear of seeming weak or incapable or some other childish nonsense. She looked away before he looked down, and rather than equivocation she gave the simple answer. "I haven't not been tired since before snatching you away from that woman," she said, a touch of ice entering her tone at the mention of 'that woman', of whom Gloria was the subject. "Your turn to ride. You have been through worse than me, and I can't even lift your sword if anything happens..."

She trailed off. There was no need to finish the statement. Unlike Elijah, she herself did not have much direct experience with Dalriada or their people. She knew of the bigger points in the nation's culture at such a distant level that there was no nuance. Women were second class citizens here, as men were supposedly within Erdeniin. Worst of all, women with magical potential were less than the rest.

Using magic to defend us - assuming I even could - would only serve to create yet more trouble. Grim thought indeed. She trusted Elijah so completely that having her life in his hands did not even ruffle her fiery feathers. Not being able to lift a finger in any way rankled a bit more.

She grit her teeth and kept moving. It was galling to have to take nearly twice as many steps to cover the same distance as he, but she would be damned if didn't try to hold on to some tenuous remnant of her pride.
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Elijah hid the doubt from his face and said no more. It was one of those times that little alarm in the back of his mind went off warning the Captain that now was a time to hold his tongue from wagging further, lest it cause more trouble than was worth. He had pointed out once that she was small enough that Gypsy would not really notice much but that had descended into frosty glares and an argument that she had insisted hadn't been one but still made his skin prickle like they usually did.

Gypsy rolled her eyes.

"Hopefully we will make it to Glenfiran before nightfall, I would prefer to sleep in an actual bed for once," the past few nights had been beneath bushes or just the stars above on hard ground that had the first bites of winter frost. "We can begin what we came here to do then."
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"An actual bed," she echoed him rather more fervently than was strictly speaking necessary. Ever since leaving Dornoch, her life had been a series of miserable holes, bushes, or increasingly frigid nights spent under the stars. If it were warmer, and if there was the prospect of a proper rest at the end of the journey, it would have been enjoyable. "That would be wonderful."

Of course, Glenfiran was decisively within the sphere of influence of Oban, and the thought tempered her wish to hurry along. This land was strange to her, their customs little more than hazy annotations in the back of her head - a place marked off as 'never going to travel there' that had nevertheless been sorely wrong.

"We can? Surely you mean you can," she said after a bit. "They wouldn't take my words to mean much here, anyway. Especially if they knew what I was," she added.
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"From what Elliot said, you might be surprised about that," Elijah said quietly, his gaze once more returning to surveying their surroundings. The drow had not endeared himself to the Captain in any way shape or form during their forced comradeship. If anything, Eli was looking forward to locking him up even more than he had been when Elliot was nothing put a sketch on a wanted poster. But he had said a few things Elijah had tucked away because he had thought they might be useful. One of those, was that the Kingdom of Dalriada was full of civil unrest.

Times were changing in both their great nations, Elijah just hoped what would take place back home would be far less bloody.

"But there is still a lot you can do. Writing to the Bazars for one, you need to convince them to join our cause."
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"I can," she said in a neutrally. She did not think that any of them would listen to her, of course; she had been kept and treated like a girl in her teens at the time everything had come crashing down. "I did not have many contacts among the Bursars before..." She trailed off and shook her head. "I will do what I can," she said with a fair bit more determination than she had started off with.

The road continued to roll out before them, and she walked wreathed in silence. There were so many things she should have been able to do, had she been more than a girl in the eyes of her parents. Alas, it was not to be. They were dead, all her siblings dead. All her dreams and ambitions, ashes drifting on the wind. It was only this man riding alongside her that had saved her from her own depression. From her own self-inflicted demise. And then, after...

Well. If Elijah thought she was able to do this thing, then she she was capable of it. He had never steered her wrong before, and she did not believe he would now. Merely thinking of his much-needed support caused an outpouring of emotion that she could scarcely understand. It had been literal months though, since these things had stirred within her. She...felt that she knew something of what it was.

She did not know how to approach the subject, though, or if she even should. Elijah was, after all, a widower. That, and she was far and away different from his deceased wife.

There was also the slight hiccup of age; she might quibble about her parents treating her like a child, but in many ways she was. She might be older in years than Elijah, but she was younger in wisdom and the ways of the world by quite a long way.

"I will need help recalling all the Bursars, though. not know all of them." She paused, huffing a bit from the exertion of keeping up. "Is there...anything I can help you with?"
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Elijah firmly pulled on the reins to stop Gypsy jogging forward; the Pegasus was restless with the slow pace and even more so with walking. Every now and then she would shuffle her wings beneath the caparison he had outfitted her in in order to hide them. He wished he could let her fly but this deep in Delradia territory it would only end in disaster. He patted her neck soothingly which resulted in an exasperated snort from the long-legged mare.

"You can keep Gypsy company when I'm out. She does not do well in stables," the horse glanced back at him in indignation and then flattened her ears and fixed Lyssa with a glare that suggested she would rather walk across hot coals. Eli merely chuckled.

"The letters are the most important thing. We need support for when we return and these women would not listen to me. My work will be to find people here who are sympathetic and who can... help."
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It was irritating to feel any kind of jealousy, but it was especially damning to feel it towards a horse, winged or no. The too-human expression in those liquid eyes might have meant that the horse disliked stables; it could also have meant that she did not like Lyssia. The Sidhe did not have a strong bond with the beast, and certainly not strong enough to be able to read her thoughts in the same manner that Elijah seemed to be able to.

Her first thought was to protest, that the Ladies of Erdeniin would simply scoff at any letter from her, a supposed traitor to the Dynast. She was daughter to traitors and, by this point, had likely been labeled as such by the likes of Gloria and others. But...that would assume that she would put her name to paper.

That seemed somewhat foolish. It was too much to ask, though, to try and piece together some coherent plan while they plodded along. Elijah was, probably, correct in that the mare would notice the added weight of her slight frame no more than an added saddlebag...but she had already gone beyond the point where logic could dictate anything and her stiff pride was in play. It may have been battered and bruised in recent months, but some things were not so easily crushed.

"Those women would not listen to me, either," she huffed out as she navigated a weather-torn stretch of road. "But then, I would be a fool to put my name to any letter. But letters won't put my head on a spike. You poking around, though...."
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"You'd be surprised," Elijah said for the second time. Even a broken clock was right twice a day and in this sense the Captain felt... sure. He couldn't pinpoint exactly why he felt like he felt but he was confident that those Bursars whose lands were far beyond the shadow of Dornoch and the clusters of cities and provinces nearest, sympathies with the Dynast were thinner. There was more unrest.

"I would start with the furthest territories, the ones on the boarders," he looked back down at her. "When your home is the one that stands against the hordes and raisers still, your sympathies with those in charge, those whose help you never see, are much slimmer. They'll have more patience for you and at least read the letter. Then with their weight behind your words..." he trailed off not thinking he had to spell it out.

Support attracted support.
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And she did not need to speak the last part aloud, either. With support from the Bursars outside the capital, it would be harder to dismiss her outright within. And should that fail, there was always the power that the nobles could muster if they had to.

"That does for me, but for you?" She cast a sideway - and decidedly up-angled - glance at the soldier. "I might risk a papercut, but you risk considerably more." Your neck, for one. His willingness to simply jump into situations that she would think thrice before diving into was charming and inspired no short supply of confidence in herself an in him. But the capture by Gloria merely reminded her that he was not incapable of making mistakes. "Elliot did say there was a lot of unrest here, but you and I are still outsiders. If the locals take your inquiries in the wrong way..." She also did not know how much credence to give the grey-skinned scofflaw.

After all, he was completely willing to spill oceans of blood to redress the inequity in both realms.
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"I'll be careful," he dismissed as smoothly as he could. Dwelling on what could happen if he offended someone or the Obanese found out he was a Dornite then it might come to blows, but it was not something he couldn't handle. Or rather, not something he wouldn't be willing to handle. As a soldier it was unwise to dwell too long on the what ifs and the set backs faced. What Gloria had done to him had been something sinister and vindictive but ordinary wars and fights were not so vindictive.

"The main thing is that we have support. Without that... Well we might as well stay here,"
to return would be death with no banners at their backs.
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She made a face at the suggestion to show what she thought of the idea. "Please do," she said firmly, as though she had any right to command him to do anything. "I will do what I can to pave the way forward."

As she had thought of before, so did she think again. She could simply let it all go, relinquish what had been taken from her, and slip away to some other realm. Not having any useful skills was not necessarily a deal breaker; she was young, as her people saw things. She could learn all manner of things with the span of years ahead of her. Hell, she might even return to the Courts and try to find a place among the fae, a place her parents had long ago abandoned.

Except she would not, or perhaps, could not. She felt a responsibility to the people she had been born to serve, the people who would suffer if the corruption within the heart of Erdeniin continued to fester. She did not pretend to understand the hardship the common folk went through.

And then, of course, there was this other thorn in her side that twisted her thoughts so.

"Just...promise me you will not do anything too risky. I do not know what I would do if you came to...harm," she said.
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Elijah had been given enough orders in his life to have enough control not to raise his eyebrow at them though it was a close call on this occasion. Was she ordering him to be safe? It was the type of thing Samantha had once done with him when they could not fight side by side. It had been enough to make him fight harder to return to her for he knew she would have found a way to bring him back had he died, to scold him for disobeying a direct order.

Lyssia held that same kind of... spark.

It was an uncomfortable parallel between the woman he had loved all these years and a woman... a woman who made him angry. Who made him scared for her. Who had stirred within him a passion and purpose the likes of which he had not known since Samantha had died.

"I promise," he said solemnly and this time his gruff voice held an odd gentleness to it.
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She cast a sidelong - and upward - look at him, her expression unreadable and her traitorous heart fluttering before cutting her eyes back to the road in front of her. There lie somewhere deep within her a profusion of words she might say, of feelings she might express. Only, she couldn't. She could not speak the words, partly out of confusion of those feelings...but most likely the fear of what the response would be.

After all, she knew him well enough to know that he had not let go of Samantha yet, almost in the same way she had yet to let go of her brother. It was the same loyalty to another, but more importantly the way he forced himself forward despite the heartache and loss that inspired her to the same. It was that faithfulness to another, long dead and gone, that stirred her heart so.

Well, that and the life he had given her whether he knew it or not. Some acts of kindness could never be forgotten. He had stopped her from bringing it all to an end...and then, when no one else would, had defended her and given her his ear and his time when everyone else simply saw her as a liability or a traitor.

"I'll hold you to it," she mumbled, and then offered her hand up to him. Maybe she would actually listen to him for a change, but she couldn't bring herself to look him in the face for the heat burning in her cheeks. "We have to find a place to rest soon though, or my legs will fall off," she added i nthe same mumble.
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Before Lyssia had even finished her full sentence Elijah had jumped from his saddle and was helping her on to the frisking Pegasus' back instead.

"I told you to tell me when you were tired, woman," he said gruffly and shot her a scowl. There was no heat behind it but rather a chastising look shared between those who were familiar with one another. When she was securely on he took Gypsy's reins and marched off, tugging the horse after him. If she much as tried to protest or wriggle her way out of the saddle that same stony look was swung her way.

With Elijah on foot they made much faster progress and as the Captain had predicted, an hour into the fall of darkness, the lights of the town finally appeared on the horizon like a welcoming home hearth.
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That was not what she had intended, but she said nothing even as she struggled to maintain a seat on the winged horse - the selfsame creature that sensed she would no longer have to chop her steps in order to preserve the diminutive and entirely too stubborn young woman's legs.

She had meant to share the saddle with the infuriating man. His stony scowls had managed to wash away the embarrassing flush in her cheeks and replace it with a hard eyed glare to match, and she would not speak up of her initial desire out of stubborn and foolish pride. The offer had been made long ago, and been refused, so it was her own damned fault in the first place. Her chilly demeanor did not last long, though; weariness replaced it quickly, and before long she was resolved to simply sitting Gypsy's back, making an effort to keep ahorse of a beast that was really not designed for so petite a lady as herself.

The township lay along the coast, little more than another fishing village too far from Oban to be important to anyone. It consisted of four dozen or more houses and an assortment of shacks and sheds at the water's edge, a veritable flotilla of small craft at anchor in the deepening dusk. Although it was difficult to tell at a distance, it did not appear to be a place of much wealth. A rutted and nearly well-travelled road cut away from the the coast into the low hills inland, while the coastal track continued to wend its way southerly.

"Will we be welcome here?" The question wasn't really intended to be answered. This was the first settlement of any size they had come to on the Dalriada side of the straight. So far she had not been forced to face the reality of the country's peculiar views. Compared to some of the things she had faced in the recent years, though, she shouldn't have feared it. And was unsettling and disquieting all the same. "You will, surely..."
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"We both will," Elijah said firmly and turned to look at her. With her astride Gypsy it was one of the rare moments he actually had to tilt his head to look up at her. There was a part of him that wondered if she enjoyed the swap. "You're not an outlaw here. We're simply two travellers looking to do business in the city for a few days. As long as you don't use your magic, they're not going to be able to tell anything more."

At least he hoped not.

The Captain did not fully understand what Lyssia was, but he understood enough to know she was not quite human, despite acting like it. He hadn't been brave enough to ask but with her magic, her smaller stature, and some other quirks, he had determined that much at least.

"Here," reaching into one of the saddle bags he pulled out a velvet pouch and tipped out a ring. There was nothing overtly fancy to it but it was nice enough that it would be plausible for a merchant to have given his wife. He held it out to her. "Married, we'll not raise any eyebrows at all."
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But in the naive way of someone who had never really been far from home, she could only doubt. She had heard tales of Dalriada, of course. Who in Erdeniin hadn't? A culture quite neatly opposite to that of her homeland could do little but make her feel ill at ease while walking in a foreign land.

One that hated women, especially of a particular stripe. Of a particular kind of which she happened to be.

Looking down on Elijah felt wrong. She was quite sure there were plenty that would love to be able to look down their noses at others, quite especially men within her own section of society. The discordant thought that it wasn't really that much different than her perception of those in Oban.

She blinked and looked at Elijah. She had lost the thread of his words while digging in her own skull, looking for demons to haunt her thoughts. Looking at the ring on the palm of his hand - worn, unadorned gold that gleamed dully in the failing light - she found herself at a loss. When she replayed his words back in her head, she found her cheeks burning scarlet, and was only too happy that the sky was that burning gold color that comes just as the sun settles. Maybe he would believe the light made her look like some blushing idiot.

Its just a disguise, she chided herself as she took it. She held the ring for a long moment, looking on it with a strange light in her eyes. Finally, when she thought she could trust her voice, she slipped it on. "Right, then," she murmured just a touch unsteadily. He could have chosen her to be his daughter instead, and the fact he had not started a rather traitorous hope in her heart. "Right, then we should be fine. Right," she said again, and then tapped Gypsy's flanks lightly. She was afraid that some of the confused emotion might still be on her face and did not want Elijah to see it and - worse yet - start snooping.

Especially since she was starting to believe she had feelings for the stoic soldier, and had no idea what to do about it or what it even meant, now or moving forward. She certainly didn't have time for...for this kind of complication among all her other worries.
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Well, she hadn't thrown the ring in his face which had - in his mind at least - been a strong probability. Letting out a little sigh of relief he wouldn't have to argue the benefits of appearing as a couple which was namely that, as a couple, both of them could move around the town with a modicum of protection. She would be protected by the ring more than his sword in this society; people would respect what she said was said on his behalf. And for him, the protection would come from not having to fend off any political propositions of marriage in return for the things he was hoping to ask for their cause.

Gypsy did not budge when Lyssia kicked her flanks but she stepped smartly when Elijah led her on with an ear flicked back towards you in what was clearly the horsey form of the middle finger.

The town grew as they approached and it was clear to see it was a prosperous and busy one. Eli and Lyssia joined the slowly moving queue that fed in through the city gates until it was their turn to be inspected with a cursory glance before finally passing through to the other side.

"I'm afraid we do not have much coin," he murmured as they walked. "So we won't be able to stay anywhere... that you are likely used to."
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She supressed her irritation with their equine friend with a touch of difficulty. The pegasus was far more intelligent than the normal run of horse, she knew, but it was nearly an affront to her dignity to be so completely ignored by the beast.

The people of Dalriada were as varied as anywhere else she had been in her life. She herself was more of a curiosity than most of the other people waiting to enter the town, but even so she barely rated a raised eyebrow. Fae-folk were not precisely common outside of their own realms, but neither were they unheard of.

"Aside from the year spent in and out of your home and in that rat-trap I owned briefly," she murmured back in a tone of voice that was very dry, "I spent two years on the streets. However poor the accommodation, it will not be as bad as sleeping inside the hollow walls of a warehouse trying to avoid other waifs and their unwanted...attentions." Although quite a serious crime in Erdeniin, it was thin that still happened. There were lesser things, of course; being beaten for stepping into the turf of the lower class of people was bad enough without the touch of the high-born on her tongue. "Unless you plan on offloading me into a midden..."
Elijah tried not to wince. His words had been meant as an innocent jape but he was quick to forget the places she had found herself in over the last two years. To him, she would always be a Lady. The very air about her thrummed with that silent authority those born to higher places seemed to ascertain. But for her no doubt every day was a harsh reminder of that life and the cold fact she no longer had access to it.

"Of course not," he huffed and led the horse on down a random street. The architecture here was so... alien that he found himself studying each building with far more interest than he would have done in the Dynasty. It all looked so... ugly. Square, squat buildings made practically out of harsh stones dug up from nearby mines and the only way to tell the more expensive ones apart was that they were taller or longer.

Along they went until eventually they ended up at a Coach Inn Elijah suspected they could afford and with stabling for Gypsy. When a lad ran out to fetch the reins he passed him a small coin and helped Lyssia down.

"Don't touch her caparison, she'll bite your hand off. I'll come do it myself, just make sure she had food and water till then," The boy grinned and scampered off, talking soft words to Gypsy who followed like a docile lamb. "Shall we?" he asked, offering his arm towards his 'wife'.
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She kept her silence as they wended their way through the streets, occasionally twisting the plain gold band round her finger absently. The architecture here was different, but she did not have much mind for that. Instead, it was to the fact that the streets were clean and orderly even in this part of the town, which was clearly not the most wealthy.

In fact, the city gave the impression of orderly peace, the kind that could not be achieved at the end of a sword. It seemed...wrong, to her, that the city of a nation responsible for its own share of distasteful activities should be so orderly. So clean, so peaceful even. Erdeniin was, she had always assumed, a paragon of virtue, and yet even the city streets of her home were not so. She did not know what to think.

Settling her feet on the ground, she cast a glance after Gypsy, and shook her head. "Yes," she said and slipped an arm round his. She had to resist a ridiculous urge to lean into him. Fighting it, she moved alongside with the grace of a ballroom dancer, despite the fact that in the current quarter of town, it was very much out of place.
The tavern was exactly as Elijah had warned. There was nothing grand nor special about it, nothing in fact that would commit it to memory for any passer-by which was exactly why the Captain had chosen it of course. That did not mean that it was a dirty, dingy thing though. A good fire burned at one end of the large hall and the tables looked in fairly good condition which suggested that it was not a spot that witnessed brawls. A couple of children in their early teenage years swept the floor under the watchful eye of an older lady whose grey hair was mostly hidden under a handkerchief. It was the man of the house, however, who greeted them.

"Welcome my friends, welcome, are you looking for board or food?" He'd taken some pains to make himself presentable - carefully combed hair and clothes that while faded were not patched or ripped. His smile was warm too, despite the curved knife at his belt Elijah didn't think he would have any qualms with using. Perhaps that was why he felt confident enough to serve his patrons with glass cups instead of tin or wood.

"Both, if you have it," Elijah smiled and dug into his pocket. The appearance of coin without prompting instantly relaxed the atmosphere.

"Of course, of course! For yourself and your..." the man hesistated then spotted the ring. "Lady wife? Wonderful! Please, my fiends, take a sit. Martha has just finished a great cut of beef for this evenings dinner, she'll fetch you some."
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She had to step quick to match Elijah's ground eating stride, but she said nothing as they entered the common room. The place was far from the worst she had visited in the last year or two. While not on the scale a noblewoman might expect (even though she herself had never visited a drinking hole of any kind prior to her...difficulties), it was clean and well kept. Grandeur was replaced by simplistic, stolid design meant more to last than to dazzle.

All in all, it was cozy enough. She did not speak when the owner of the establishment approached them, nor when Elijah spoke. In truth, now that they were in one of the realms' settlements, she almost did not trust herself to speak. The sound of not only Erdeniin, but of Dornoch, was heavy on her tongue. It might have been unlikely in the extreme that any here could recognize it for what it was...

...but she did not wish to create complications to an already convoluted plan.

"He would have called me your daughter if not for this," she said in a low voice after he had left the table. There was an ironic sound to her words. Eli was, after all, head and shoulders taller than she was (and then some!) and she could easily have passed as a child. If not for a full figure, somewhat scaled down to match her diminutive stature. The pointed ears would have suggested otherwise, but she did not try to draw attention to the things that made her different.

They were alone in the common room, which seemed unusual at this time of evening. "I wonder where everyone else is?" she asked, twisting the ring round her finger absently while looking out across the room.
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