Private Tales A Light in the Dark

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Elijah's brows rose but he didn't question her desire to be out of a common tavern; the Captain hadn't even thought about moving to their own accommodation. He'd have been quite content with the bustle but upon reflection he realised Lyssia was probably right -- And of course she doesn't want to continue sharing a bed with you, Elijah. He tried not to feel as hurt as he did by that crushing thought.

"Thank you," the Captain held out his hand to Roe to seal the deal. The man seemed to consider it before tentatively taking it. Elijah made sure to put a little more firmness than he usually would into it before releasing him. "How quickly could this be done?"
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Roe did not flinch at the grip, looking Elijah squarely in the eyes. No deceit to be had here, surprisingly.

"I can have the place cleaned out by tomorrow or the day following," the lordling said carefully. "As for your little filly, you can have her delivered here at your earliest convenience." He thought for a moment. "It will not be a large place, mind you," he added.

"That doesn't matter," Lyssia said without hesitation. "Anything is better than nothing." She did not need their limited coin dwindling and finally vanishing into the hands of an innkeeper. Practical considerations given their circumstances. "We can spend the intervening time recovering from our journey here and wandering the town." She eyed Elijah through her lashes, a ghost of a smile on her lips. "Carefully."
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Elijah gave a crisp nod in agreement. It would be good to see the town as it was during the day, they became different beasts to the type he had seen when wandering in the early hours of dawn. Naturally, he missed what her smile really conveyed and promptly went back to business.

"Then I believe we're all done here," he gave the man a curt nod and turned to head for the door never turning his back fully to the man. Instead he pushed the door open and waited patiently for Lyssia.

"Actually - I don't believe we really settled on the cost of my help."
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She had not moved an inch with Elijah's statement of having been finished. Because she knew this conversation was not over, and knew that everything up to now had been pleasantries. Now the hard part would begin.

"No," she said before Roe could even say anything more.

His eyes cut to her, weighing and assessing. And, uncomfortably, drinking in every line and curve (such as there was) of her. Those eyes became unreadable. "Why?"

"Two reasons," she said. Cold as ice, winter incarnate. She pointedly did not look to Elijah as she spoke, neither ignoring him nor daring to give him any attention whatsoever. "First, I am promised to another. And second ... I am not a piece of meat to be bought or sold." She folded her arms beneath her breasts, eyes gleaming in the room's light.

Something swam in the lords' eyes, undefinable and intangible. His lips pressed in a thin line for a moment.... and then, as quickly as that, he smiled. Like he hadn't just been rebuffed yet again by her. A woman in a land where a woman's voice meant nothing. She distrusted the look on his face. "What, then, shall you offer in exchange for my help? Materiel support costs more than nothing. Which is nothing to say of harboring a fugitive from a land we routinely fight with."

"It shall not be me. Find some other desire for your trade," she said flatly.
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It was like watching two wolves facing off over a kill. Both snarling in their own way, both ready to go for the throat. Roe's smile suddenly widened and then he pointed.

Directly at Elijah.

"Him," he said with all the feigned innocence of a murderer who had been caught with the weapon in hand still stood over the bleeding corpse. "A Captain of the Pegasi is an esteemed role. It must mean he is a good fighter and there are a few problems where I find myself... in need of a good fighter. So there is my price, My Lady. Lend me your Captain whenever I ask, whilst you are staying at my generosity."
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The singular word was a blow that required all of her willpower not to display on her face. Jagged emotion spiked through her, twisting her heart in its cage of bone; fear and distrust and anguish that he would be used as a bargaining chip in this silent, cold war between her and the Dalriadan lord.

What was the angle he was trying for, now?

"I do not own him," she said. "He is free to make his own mind up on whether your demand is acceptable." He is more free as an Erdenii citizen than any woman would be within your own despicable culture, was the unspoken part of that statement. "If he accedes to your request, I will abide by his decision."

But she did not understand what the angle was. There was something just beneath the surface - she could feel it, taste it, sense the shape of it. But whatever it was, it eluded her. The lordling was a cunning man, could be nothing less in order to survive the cutthroat world of nobility. So like her own life had been, and see how that had played out.

Elijah once again found himself the subject of two sets of eyes, neither of them betraying the thoughts of their owners.
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Elijah got the impression he was standing at a crossroads. One path was on fire, the other full of poison. Nothing he could say would please both of them fully, and if he indulged one completely the other would feel it some great insult. Roe was their ticket to protection, information and somewhere secure for Lyssia. And Lyssia... His heart did that complicated thing it did when he thought about her.

"Very well..." he said slowly and frowned at the triumphant smile on Roe's face. "But I will not kill for you. Only the Dynast - may she live forever - has the right to give such orders," his eyes slid to Lyssia briefly and they seemed to say; and you.

Saint protect him.
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The Dalriadan lord wave a hand dismissively at Elijah's stipulation, cutting his eyes to Lyssia with something like savage delight. "I would never dream of such a waste of your talents, Captain. While I do not employ killers like your Dynast does, rest assured that brute beasts are best suited to such a task. You, Elijah, are not any such."

She was unsure as to why his triumphant attitude unsettled her more than his covetous, lust-filled looks did. The look in the Captains' eye as he cast his own toward her after that was comforting, if she could not precisely understand why.

"That done, we need to return to the inn. The next time we meet - in a day, or perhaps two - we will have questions and probably a handful of requests," she said. Roe tipped his head in acceptance of her words.

"Until then. Captain. My lady," he said, standing and offering them a formal bow more fitting at court than some back room dealing.

Lyssia looked him up and down, and then turned away without any further comment or formality.
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Elijah tried not to let his troubled feeling show on his face though he did not remove his signature scowl entirely. He held open the door for Lyssia as she passed, gave a curt nod of his head to Roe, and then followed after the woman who held his fate. He said nothing as they retraced their steps with his hands clasped behind his back lest the guards dotted along the walkway take his stance for one of aggression. They still eyed him as they passed and Eli nodded to himself in approval; it would be foolish for any soldier to let their guard completely down when a trained killer walked past.

Only once they were back in their carriage and the horses hooves were creating enough of a din to drown out soft conversation did Elijah finally say.

"That wasn't what I was expecting."
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"Nor I," she said cryptically. She stared out the window as the vehicle rattled down the rough street, lips pursed in thought.

"There is more going on here than what appears on the surface," she said half to him and half to herself. Unconsciously, she was wiping her hands on her skirts. As though wiping filth from them. "I truly do not like that man."

She looked away from the scenery, such as it was, to Elijah. Her violet eyes held a queer intensity to them. "You were brilliant, though," she said. No trace of irony lie hidden in her words.
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Elijah somehow felt more unsettled when she claimed the outcome had surprised her too. Lyssia was the one with experience in these matters he would have thought her more at home in these negotiations than on the road facing down enemies. The Captain certainly would have preferred to just run the man through and be done with it.

"Me?" he looked at her startled from where he had been scowling at the ceiling. "I didn't do anything, I didn't understand what was happening half the time," he took a breath and ran a hand through his hair. For once, he allowed himself to look how he felt on the inside - unsure.
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How to explain?

Why bother? She chose the obvious, enigmatic option and stayed with the game she had begun. "You understood enough, and even if you didn't... simply being there is enough." She gave him a coy smile, eyes gleaming in the morning light. As if to add emphasis, she reached over and lay a hand on his knee lightly.

And realized what she had done, blinked once, and withdrew it. Not hurriedly, though she felt as though the touch had burned her in some fashion.

"He is playing some kind of game with us," she said briskly, trying not the think about the butterflies beating madly in her guts. She distracted herself with what she was best at - politics and the games therein. "And he will use you for some kind of set piece." She did not like that, and certainly did not like not knowing what angle the Dalriadan Lord was coming from.
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Elijah just found himself all the more confused just now it was over her. What good was being there if he could not help? Yet he sensed she was sincere in what she said about being enough. His brows drew down and hooded his eyes.

"Well, I'm not really sure what business he thinks I'll be of much help with," he shrugged. "It seems as though he got the short end of the stick there," Eli had made his stance quite clear about what he would and wouldn't do, he thought. If mooning as some broody bodyguard got them what Lyssia wanted he could put up with it.

"I'm sorry... for not thinking about the fact you would need more space than an Inn."
"Your skills and abilities as a leader," she replied briskly. "You are a Captain. A leader of women and men, and to occupy the position you do would mean no small amount of talent." Or luck, but she knew better than that.

"You sell yourself short if you think he got the short end of the stick in this deal." She just could not see how. But with how quickly he had agreed to accept the payment Elijah represented - a thorny thing that she did not dwell on, selling him like chattel between parties - indicated that there was an angle she had not considered.

The carriage rattled over the rough road, jostling her far worse than him. It still did not stop the unfathomable gaze she offered Elijah at his last comment. For a long moment she looked at him, something shining in her eyes. Words left unspoken, but some emotion gleaming there in her eyes as bright as the sun.

"I do not need more space than what we had," she said quietly. "I need more space to maintain appearances, seeing as we are doing more long term work here." She looked out the window, unable to meet his gaze. "I do not need anything more than...," she began, and then trailed off into pregnant silence.
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The point, as the kids said, went entirely over Elijah's head and there was a collective sigh of frustration from women everywhere, sensing that somewhere in the world a man was being blind and deaf.

"I suppose I did not think of that," he admitted. It would definitely look odd for a merchant to stay in an Inn and not move on, far more convincing they were doing business with a local lord and had moved onto his estates in the meantime.

"And Gypsy will be safer there," his brows smoothed out from its frown and a flicker of relief crossed his face.
It was comical. It really was, but she found she was unable to express herself more directly than she had. And the fact that he simply did not see it had her staring for a moment, a low sound of frustration somewhere at the back of her throat the only indication of said frustration.

She bit back cutting words and sat in silence for a moment longer, trying to think of something to say that was not intended to wound. Mercurial temperament indeed.

The vehicle slowed, their journey coming to an end. Or, at least, that part of it that went from the manor to the Inn.

"On the bright side, you won't have to suffer such close quarters with me in a day or two," she said. Was there a little acid in those words? Oh, oh yes there was. Practically put her heart on her sleeve - realizing it herself or not - and the man didn't even notice! "Gypsy will be happier for it, I'm sure," she added as she stood, barely having to stoop to step through the door.

Emotional whiplash was so much fun.
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Elijah knew he had done something - said something - wrong the moment her tone changed. Wasn't agreeing with her a good thing? He panicked, replaying the conversation through in his mind over and over but he could not see what he could have possible done to offend her. He tried not to sigh when she all but launched herself out the door so as not to be within a few feet of him any longer. Those words stung not just because she was angry with no cause, but because they were untrue. He grabbed a hold of her arm to halt her fleeing into the inn.

"I never said that, Lyssia. I wasn't the one who asked for space," he had wanted to stay at the inn, in the little bubble he had managed to carve for himself, and the complex feelings that came with it. Elijah didn't let go until she met his eyes and saw the apology there for whatever misstep he had caused, but the anger she would throw those words at him when they were not true.
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There was a fire burning in her jewel-colored eyes, but there was also hurt underlying it. She found the words lining up to slash and cut - her own personal army, her own blade and bow. She opened her mouth to speak things that were best left unsaid, and remarkably shut her mouth. The fire in her eyes banked a little, but the hurt remained.

"I wasn't asking for space, I was asking for privacy," she managed at last. "And before you say anything, it wasn't to escape you, either." The hurt faded from her eyes. She became acutely aware of his hand on her arm, and of their closeness; of the fact that his hand was hot as a brand on her.

She swallowed hard.
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Elijah seemed to realise it at the same moment too and dropped his hand as though her arm were a hot poker. Had he hurt her? Made her feel intimidated? He was suddenly overly aware of their height difference and how they might look to a passerby. Guilt and humiliation flooded him. He was meant to be her Captain and here he was...


"I'm going to go check on Gypsy," he said gruffly and stalked off before he could make more of a fool of himself.
She stood there as the carriage trundled off, staring after Elijah with a baffled expression on her face. She had seen the stark guilt on his face and another emotion she could not identify as easily. The spot where his hand had gripped her arm still carried the faint feeling of his touch.

Like a brand.

The confusion had been growing for weeks. Months, even. The relationship that had started off as simply a soldier serving a member of the aristocracy, however fallen and disgraced she might have been, had morphed into...

...into what? Something more, certainly. Her heart knew what it was and what it wanted, but the woman that held it remained stubborn and unwilling to acknowledge it. The same woman that was only too willing to let anger seep in, to wonder if perhaps her growing boldness and openness was being rebuffed.

Perhaps he found the idea of something more repugnant. She could explain the guilt, but the other twisted expression on his face...that she could not. Perhaps that singular moment they had just shared disgusted him.

Why did the notion hurt so much?

In a absent-minded daze, she wander out into the town without Elijah, with no clear destination in mind. To think, and try to pin down her own traitorous heart.
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Gypsy put her head over the stall as soon as Elijah entered the stable block. Her ears pinned back and she gave several sharp snorts that told the Captain Lyssia wasn't the only woman angry with him today. Still, he understood the horse far more and knew how to soothe it. A scratch along her withers and a stroke down her nose soon had the pegasi leaning her head against his shoulder with her bottom lip wobbling in a manner that told him all was forgiven.

Especially when he produced an apple for her.

He spent some time there simply talking into her soft mane as he groomed and fussed her, making sure her blankets were tied snuggly enough still to hide her wings and promising that soon she would be able to stretch them. Then, when he could put it off no more, he trudged back to the main inn in search of supper.

"Has my wife had dinner?" he asked the serving girl as he took a seat.

"No sir, ain't seen her all day sir."
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She moved without purpose, without a destination in mind. Not that she would have had a destination here in this unfamiliar place. Not that she had the presence of mind to think that far forward. Not while her skin still tingled where the Captain had touched her,.

Elijah was far from the only one who could make a fool of themselves, as it turned out. His sudden departure had led her to believe she had done something wrong (probably true, given her mercurial temper), either to anger him or...

The last thing she had seen was a look of disgust. It twisted something in her heart that she had not thought intact enough to feel anything - this despite ample evidence to the contrary - for years. Made her feel a hurt she did not understand, something that blended with the flood of heat and beating of butterfly wings that seemed to thunder in her middle every time she was near the Captain.

She was losing her mind was what it was. She often thought of him, of those ice-blue eyes, of that calm and stolid demeanor no matter what the world threw at him. In fact, sometimes she could think of little else. Sometimes it was thoughts of his sculpted body, the air of competency and violence that was just beneath the surface.

But mostly just the way he regarded her. Erdeniin had dismissed her as a waste of breath, something to be cast aside and forgotten. She had believed it herself, but for a hand reached out into the abyss to pull her back. Caring for her when she hadn't cared for herself and scolding her for her own wallowing self pity when he could simply have walked away.

He could have walked away. But he hadn't. And the fact that he had not made something swell in her chest until she felt fit to burst.

Sometimes it was easy to forget that she was young. Oh, she might have been older than he by years, but the world of human and fae were completely different. She did not want to think overlong on what the distinction meant in the long term, either.

The sun settled low on the horizon as she stopped, staring from a vantage on a dirt street looking out to the Strait. Her thoughts were not her only company, though she was unaware of the pair of men watching from the shadows not far off. Watching, assessing, the foreign woman who stated into the sunset lost in her own thoughts.
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She is allowed to go out.

Elijah made himself shrug at the maid and return to his meal. Men owned their women in Delradia but they were not slaves to be shackled to their husbands sides. He did make sure to look irritated though; yes, that was how a man from these lands would feel. Irritated but not enough to go stomping out of here, not enough to stop him looking admiringly at other women and enjoying his food.

Inside, the Captain was in turmoil.

She was allowed to go out, but Elijah had been gone for hours now. Where could she have gone for such a long time? Back to Roe? That made his stomach turn to ice. Had his hand upon her pushed her to seeking him out instead? She had claimed she had not needed the space from him but after their argument maybe... maybe that had changed. She'd looked at him so strangely... Elijah forced himself to finish his food and even another pint of ale before giving an exasperated sigh that many men gave him sympathetic looks for, grabbed his sword and trudged back outside.

It was only years of training that kept him from running down the street.
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It was well into twilight when she finally stirred from where she stood. It was far too late for a woman alone to be out and about, in Delradia as with so many other places.

She could still feel where he had touched her, and still feel the electricity that had flooded through her at the touch. Although he had handled her plenty in the past, this time it seemed different. Perhaps their increasingly close quarters was shifting something inside her, else she was finally allowing the wall to lower and to acknowledge what she had suspected for some time now.

Maybe it was something she could bring up when they shared the bed again tonight - the simple thought of it enough to make her breathing come short and sharp. Anticipation? Acceptance? She could scarcely say, and the cowardly part of her felt that she could not put to words what she felt in any case.


Lyssia let a gasp slip loose, turned quickly to face the source of the voice. Two men stood there, dressed in homespun. Armed, though, with knives. Both of them towered over her. Before she could move, one of them stepped forward and took her arm. Unlike the touch from before, this was anything but gentle.

"Boss says he wants to see you," the taller of the two said, dark of skin and slight of frame. Still far too strong for her to yank free of, though she did try. "Keep your voice down. Would be better if we could ask you some questions, but an example can be made more ways than one."

Lyssia felt cold, but said nothing. With a grunt, the lead man yanked her roughly along, heading toward the water front in grim silence. The streets had gone empty, conveniently. There would be no help.
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Don't panic, there's going to be a good explanation, Elijah quietly repeated to himself as he searched every street in the town. Then did it a second time just in case she had ducked into a shop as he had walked past. If this was some ploy to make him feel guilty and get him to apologise.... he clenched his hand over his sword hilt at the thought. It wasn't very often the Captain lost his temper but if he found out anything short of a disaster had kept her from returning to the inn he didn't think he would be able to stop the storm that was building.

"Excuse me, Sir?" Elijah came to a stop by a slumped figure clutching a tin can in his hands. From the reek of him he was one of the many he had seen sleeping on the streets. The man warily looked up from beneath his hood and Eli crouched down, thumbing a piece of silver free from his sleeve. The beggar's eyes sharpened. "I'm looking for a woman, about this tall, red hair. Have you seen her?"

The beggar looked from the coin to Elijah's face then back to the coin and licked his lips. Only when he nodded did Elijah flip him the coin which the beggar made vanish quicker than a blink.

"Yeah I saw her, with two men. Went off that way about an hour ago."
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