Private Tales A Light in the Dark

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Elijah's answer was to deepen his scowl.

"I'm going to go get my horse," he hadn't stopped watching the healer and how he touched Lyssia. He'd marked every single move and if any of it had seemed suspect he would have torn the mans arm from its socket. It was also partly to see any difference in her. Which was why as she seemed to groggily come around some of the tension left his shoulders. The rest of it would only be solved by a walk.

He did not like the idea of leaving here here with Roe but the healer... Elijah trusted him.

"Don't leave until I get back," he turned and then seemed to remember who he was talking to for he turned back to Andric and gave the formal bow of court. "If it pleases you, honoured one," and then he turned and left.
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It was like coming back up from deep water; the world wavered and shimmered and remained out of focus. The voices she heard were a muddled mess, indecipherable as though in another language. The rapid pulse, a heartbeat made weak by lack of anything to pump; the too-quick breathing trying to make up for the lack of an agent to carry her breath everywhere.

Lyssia clawed and fought to drag herself out of shock-induced stupor. It wasn't until a hand appeared - mentally - and a voice without words said to her take it that she began to win that fight. Pulled out of twilight into a dim world with angry words just this side of intelligible...

"As if I would leave a patient before she were out of danger," the healer at her side muttered. He looked down at her. "I see you are coming back from wherever it was you went, girl." The words were not unkind, and even though his face had a hard edge to it there was kindness in his dark eyes.

Lyssia blinked tiredly, opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She was dreadfully tired, and the low and insistent pulse of pain in her face and arm spoke volumes about the torture that would come later.

"The tea will help you recover more quickly. You lost a lot of blood," he said. There was an odd light in his eyes. He looked to Lord Lanis with a scowl. "You know?"

"I do," Lanis replied. "Do not spread the word round. I will make sure she does not practice her ... talents ... where anyone can see."

"Fae. Not very common to find such here, or anywhere. Your very blood resists me, girl, else I would have made you more whole more quickly. You and yours heal fast though. You will be right as rain in a day or two."

She nodded. She had difficulty following his words - her mind moved sluggishly as though mired in tar. She did not pick up on the fact that the physician knew of her blood, and therefore the fact that she was a creature of magic. In a land where women were forbidden such things.

Too tired to care.
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Night had truly fallen as Elijah stepped out of the mansion. He drew in a deep breath, drawing the crisp air into his lungs, and wishing as he had ever since setting foot on this blasted land that he was back home. He missed the scents of the sea and the rich earthy plains. Everything here felt too... controlled. Contained. He clenched his swords hilt as he stalked back through the streets towards the inn. The warehouse still smouldered like a blazing sun in the night meaning those he passed barely noticed him. Rumours were already spreading about its cause all from nefarious black market deals to a worker who had fallen asleep with his pipe alight.

At least the gossip here was the same as it was back home. There was a certain amount of comfort in that.

The stable boy was sat on top of the roof when Elijah returned, gawping at the flames, and the Captain slipped inside to collect Gypsy himself.

"Tell your master my good wife and I are dining with Lord Roe and will probably not return for a few days," Elijah called to the small lad as they left. He dared not remove her blankets to ride her so walked her in hand instead. The boy nodded barely paying him any attention but at least the story would not make the innkeeper think they had anything to do with the fire. Stealing away in the night otherwise might look suspicious.

Back at the mansion Elijah settled a protesting Gypsy into yet another stable, snuck her a treat, then returned to the room. He let out a relieved breath to see Lyssia awake then dumped a bag at the foot of the bed.

"I got you some of your stuff... How's she doing, Healer?"
"Andric is fine unless you want me to start calling you Killer," the physician grumped. Despite himself, Lanis had to fight a grin at the tone. Andric and him went back all the way; the physician had been alive far longer than he himself had. "Regardless, the little lady will be fine. Her kind are hardy," he said with a significance added to her kind that clearly indicated that he knew other things that were unsavory in this particular country.

If he disapproved, he did not say.

"The tea will help her recover her blood more quickly. I cannot ply my trade on her kind - they are too resistant to my touch. She does not need my special talents though." The old man stood with a grimace, knuckling his back for all the world like he had been involved in heavy physical labor. "Save your questioning until tomorrow. She will be weary and relatively uncommunicative tonight." This directed to both Roe and Elijah.

Lyssia nodded in affirmation. Words still seemed beyond her. Or, more importantly, words spent trying to explain the things she had witnessed and heard during her unexpected brush with death. She looked to Elijah significantly, one eye half open, the other sealed shut from the swelling.

Andric left the same way he had come, if a touch more irritably and arthritically.

Lanis looked to Elijah. "If you need anything, call for one of Alyssa. She will be near to hand. We can worry about the rest after she has had a rest." He turned to leave, paused at the door. "Anyone tries to step foot in my home to come after her will eventually not live to regret it."

Hard words. Remorseless. Lanis left with Lyssia simply staring wordlessly at Elijah.
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"Captain is just fine," Elijah retorted to the gnarled old man. He didn't bother to leap into the lecture that Healer was an honorific term back home but that it translated poorly in the Common Tongue - he simply did not care enough even if he was grateful for his help. Once he had moved from Lyssia's side Elijah stepped in to fill the void and pulled a chair up so he could sit by her bedside. At Andric's pointed words the Captain looked up at him sharply, assessing whether or not he was now a risk. His hand lay on the pommel of his sword and then he slowly let go, clearly deciding the old man would not run and tell.

If he did he would not be able to run fast enough to get away from his blade.

Once he had turned back to Lyssia he stopped caring what the other two men did. He'd already marked the exits, the windows, and he had a thousand plans laid out calmly in his mind to kill whoever entered who was not permitted. It was why he did not bother to change out of the blood soaked clothes he was wearing. He'd dabbed it off his face before collecting Gypsy but had hoped the shadows would hide the rest. In hindsight he was probably lucky everyone was so focused on the fire.

When the door clicked shut behind Roe he gently raised a hand and brushed the hair back from her face.

"Rest, I will not leave your side Lyssia. You are safe."
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She closed her eye at the gentle touch, but did not let herself drift off. She wanted to - very, very badly wanted to - but she could not while she had things left to say.

"You never have," she said, a hint of a slur to her words. She tilted her head into his hand, and gathered her remaining strength for what lay ahead. "And I've never Not really," she said. Memories of danger from her youngest years to now flickered sluggishly through her mind. There were times where she was relatively safe.

"I... I want you to teach me." She blinked slowly, choosing her words. "To fight. To... defend mys self. I hate fighting, but..." But she couldnt' escape it. Trouble always found her no matter what she did or where she went. Her good eye was an open plea for help. It was not the only thing swimming in there, either - some deep, heartfelt emotion raged around weakly in her tired body.
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Elijah blinked at her in surprise. He had expected a berating for having brought her into her enemies den, or some other tongue lashing to do with something he had done wrong days ago. It would have convinced him that she was at least herself. Asking for fighting lessons though? He put a hand on her forehead to check her temperature before he could stop himself. Her skin was warm but not scotching. Nothing to indicate she had a fever. He smiled faintly and let his hand drop away.

"As you wish. For now, rest Lyssia. Your body need sleep, it lost a lot of blood."

He settled back in his chair, a soldier taking up his post.
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The ghost of a smile touched her pale lips. "I need to... tell you so many things," she said in that slow, thick voice. Just hearing it was enough to make one wish to fall asleep, let alone looking upon her where she lay. "I didn't..,"

Whatever it was she was going to say did not come. She swallowed hard and wrestled with something in her head, her eye swiveling to look at Elijah. Tired, but swimming with something undefinable. She stirred weakly, that same smile on her lips. Tentative, unsure of herself. "Don't ... leave me." The appearance of unsease turned to something like trepidation. "Is this what ... it feels like?" she whispered. "I think that ... I ... lo..." The words drifted into silence. Her eyes had finally shut, her breathing slow and steady.

That battle to retain consciousness lost, she dropped into the deepest sleep of her life.
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Elijah stuck to his promise in not leaving Lyssia's side for one whole day before the maids finally began to complain of the smell of death coming off of him. He had relented to their badgering only when other soldiers had taken up posts outside of her rooms and accepted a bath and a bed for a few short hours. Despite chiding from the women who seemed to delight in having a man who finally listened so instinctively to their requests, a few short hours was all he allowed himself for the following five days too. He dozed in the chair, he would explain, and went back to writing his letters when their comments grew uncomfortable.

It was a week later before the Healer declared her well enough to leave her bed and take walks about the gardens. Thus it was a week before Elijah didn't growl at Roe every time he tried to ask her about her attackers and what had happened to her that day. He still wasn't far off refusing him again as they sat in the garden and he asked once more. One word from Lyssia and he would happily hurl the man into the small pond they sat beside.
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It was hard not to think of the things the house staff said when Elijah was not around to hear them. Specifically in regard to the way the Captain seemed to moon over her. There was a certain amount of jealousy among those girls over that subject; there was no way to hide her own feelings from them, either. Even if she couldn't put them to words herself.

The plain workwoman's dress was all she had left that had not been blood-stained in their recent months. Her arms stood out starkly from them, elbow-length gloves to hide the scars on both arms and the newest scar-in-waiting. There were many times she was self-conscious to a fault about the evidence of her past fighting.

The week had not been any kinder to Elijah or Lanis Roe. Elijah had been twisted into knots with her listless recovery - quick as it had been all things considered - and Roe scarcely less so for worry about what had exactly gone down in his warehouse. The charred remains of two dozen had been found amid burned-out husk of the building, which had meant that well over half of them were his own people. The questions gleamed in his eyes.

And in Elijah's. He had not asked her any questions either, at least not beyond how she was feeling.

Lanis stopped a respectful distance away, for a change, and looked a question at Elijah. A faint nod from her to the soldier was enough to indicate that, yes, it was finally time to deal with this particular problem.

"If you are looking for easy answers, I do not have them," she said, looking to Elijah. "Maybe the Captain has turned something up in the last several days? Perhaps that and my own ... observations will be a help?"
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Elijah looked like he would much prefer to have been given the order to grab Lanis by the scruff of his neck and throw him into the ornamental pond. There was an edge to the Captain that had not softened since the attack. It seemed as though any wrong movement, any slight, would result in violence without much warning. Lanis seemed to sense it too for when Eli snorted at the mention of observations, he cast the Captain a wary glance.

"I've told him everything I know already," he folded his arms over his chest to keep from gripping the pommel of his sword. He'd not been seen without it since the night of the fire. Not even in sleep, claimed the servants. "The men were trained but not to the degree of military men. They seemed surprised that I was even able to swing a sword, and from little I gained from them they truly believed us merchants in your employ. Which makes me wonder why being in your employ would be so dangerous."
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"Because of politics."

She wanted to snap at him. She was not a porcelain doll, incapable of defending herself. Only... she was. It grated to admit it, finally, that she was woefully unprepared to get involved in the kind of political scheming that went on in Erdeniin and, it seemed, in Dalriada as well. She was no femme fatale and would never be such a thing. Unfortunate, given that there appeared to be many such among the myriad of enemies that surrounded them.

"The one that interrogated me," she begin in an even voice, looking to Elijah and then to Lanis, "was of noble heritage at the very least. They were very interested in why you were seeking trade outside Oban. They are also sure you are involved in 'politics in the capitol'. In fact, they seemed to think I was involved in it somehow."

She gave the man a meaningful look.

"Politics," he said in an edged tone, "have become something of a blood-thirsty pastime in both of our homes," he said after looking to make sure no one but the three of them were nearby to hear it. "The rot of corruption and lust for power is rife in both, and in both the scheming to seize power has come to a head. Of course I am involved in it. There are no seats on the sidelines."

He looked at her just as meaningfully as she had him, then to Elijah with a shrug.
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"She isn't just another pawn for you to use," Elijah snarled and, unable to help himself, he found his arms uncrossing so he could rest a hand on the pommel of his sword. He looked the most inclined to actually use it on the man than he had all week. Seeming to sense that, Lanis took a wise and subtle step back. "You should have said that you were involved in grander plans before agreeing to help us. You could have made this whole situation worse," if they ended up embroiled in the politics of their enemy as well as their home they would have a far greater task before them.

"I think the Lady can decide for herself what risks she wants to take," he drawled with far more calm than a man ought to be for being facing an enraged Elijah.
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She had to stifle a good-natured grin. Elijah was so sweet and straight-forward in all of his dealings. Not surprising; he was a soldier first and foremost, and while she was aware there were subtleties to war and fighting, that whole discipline was far cleaner and less prone to manipulation and betrayal than her craft. However poorly she felt she did at it. Right or wrong, it was but one of her insecurities.

"I knew he was," she said mildly. She did, she just did not know what angle it would be for. Still didn't, if it came down to it. "Same as I am using him as a pawn in my schemes." She gave Lanis a smug grin. Let him wonder at her angle of attack in the same way she wondered about his. She wasn't even entirely sure how she would use him just yet, only that she would when presented an opportunity.

"See, Captain? The little Lady has claws of her own." There was a dismissive tone to his words that caused a discordant note in the train of her thoughts. Hungry eyes regarded her, as though the admission of her own activities aroused something in him.

"Do not," she said slowly and as frigid as winter itself, "talk down to Elijah." She met that stare, eyes like chips of ice. Lanis Roe held her gaze for a moment before looking away. If he was abashed, she couldn't say. "What business have you ... omitted bringing us into the fold on? Especially that which touches on this," she said, waving her bandage wrapped arm vaguely in his direction. The would was completely healed, but until she had a new dress made with long enough sleeves to cover it, she was too self-conscious of that and the numerous other scars on her arms to show them.

"I do not wish to get into the details of all of my schemes," he said dryly. "And of the particular one you fell foul of? I have no idea. You know what it is like, dancing amid the currents of power. Sometimes you make a slip up and get pulled under." He looked at Elijah rather pointedly.
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It took his years of training to make himself let go of the pommel of his sword before he drew it and slit the man's throat. Lyssia deemed they still needed him, though Elijah would have preferred to have cut their losses and set out on their own again. He could protect her better when they were alone and he did not have to try and think in the manner of nobles. These games gave him headaches. He was built for wars not the shadows of politics. He hated the backhanded way these people operated, never brave enough to come into the open.

"Well, clearly you've pissed off one noble in particular enough to make a bold move against you. If it was not Lyssia it could have been someone actually in your employ doing your business. What secrets, exactly, would your business partners have that another noble would think important enough to risk showing their hand this way? Are they going to make another move? They botched this attempt but that may only make them more desperate to achieve their aim before they are discovered."
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"There is war in the offing," the Dalriadan said simply. "I trust I do not have to explain what that entails?"

"Elijah knows full well what it entails," she said in a low voice. "Condescend to him again, and you can take a bath." She gestured with a nod of her head towards the cold water of the pond.

"I do not know what you want of me. The best I can give you is a better drawn picture of the proverbial landscape; I have no idea at any point in time what might warrant such action from my enemies. And thats before we even begin to discuss the pieces that your presence puts on the board."

"Go on," she said. Roe shook his head.

"Not in the open. Back to the house if we're going to discuss ... sensitive things." He did not wait for her acquiesence before turning and heading back to the house.

Lyssia stood, brushing out her skirts, offering her arm to Elijah. "Shall we?" There was a twinkle of mischief in her eyes.
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Get a hold of yourself, Elijah, Samantha chided from the doorway of a memory. A memory of a time when he had been younger, more headstrong, and desperate to prove to the woman he was falling in love with that he was more than just a foot soldier. He slammed the door shut. I am not that boy anymore, he told himself sternly, forcing his body to move and relax as Lyssia stood and offered her arm. Somewhere deep inside himself he knew it was a lie even before he let her rest her slight forearm atop his arm and the warmth of her presence soothed away his frayed edges.

"I could more easily kill him out here," he muttered at a low enough frequency that he knew only her fae ears would pick up. "Dump the body in the lake. The house makes it messier."

But certainly not impossible.
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So close, the scent of him is delightful; leather and the oil that he hones his blade with and an earthy scent that is uniquely his. Just being so close makes it difficult sometimes. To think, to act rationally, and she has no idea what that says about her or what it even means. The man is both the death of her and life incarnate, and she cannot tell which from one moment to the next.

Right now, though, it is definitively leaning towards the former.

"Such a permanent solution," she murmurs, letting the warmth of where they touch fill seep in. She is in no hurry to get to the house anyway. "He wants to..," she begins, and swallows hard. Distaste mars her delicate features. "He wants to ... take me to his bed," she finishes. revulsion rolls through her, but she delicately sidesteps it in her mind, focusing on the problem at hand. "He was not the one to set those ... men on me."

The very thought of even being touched by Lanis Roe in such a manner makes her skin crawl. Even so, though... even so, she still has to push forward. "We need an ally, even him, if we are going to return home and save the Dynast," she reminded him.
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"I understand what he wants."

It came out far more snappish than Elijah had intended but the last few days had whittled away what little else had remained of his sanity and sense. On parchment there had been little time between his time stuffed inside that box, their explosive escape from Dornoch, and now this. There had been no space to come to terms what had happened to him and now his head and heart were reeling from what had happened to her days ago. Despite that, he still winced as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

"I'm sorry. It's just--" he ran a hand down his face. "I don't like it. I have never liked the politics. I can't fight an enemy that I cannot see or understand. I would rather stake your rebellion on.. on the farmers than him."
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She stopped at his words, turned to face him as she disengaged her arm. Remarkable eyes regard him, something wild and pure shining in them. "I know," she whispered. The strong desire to reach up and touch him rose and fell quickly. Uncertain of her own feelings, she was not sure at all that he would return them.

Just a soldier doing his job, protecting a noble that needed protecting. Serving the Kingdom by protecting her, for her own interest lie in keeping the Dynast safe. There were too many times she saw something in his eyes, felt his pulse quicken when they touched ... but it could be anything.

And she realized, finally, that perhaps she wanted him to see her as more than a companion, a friend, a charge to be protected. There were moments...but then the soldier would come back round, and it would be all business again.

"I do not like the politics either," she admitted. After a momentary pause, she continued on. "I hate the power games. I hate the duplicity. But I do not have anything else. I cannot fight, I am no assassin, barely a diplomat." Looking into her eyes, she tried to project confidence and conviction, things she was not sure she held in abundance.

What was it her mother had told her, years ago? It didn't matter if she actually was any of those things - confident, bold, strong - so long as she could make others believe it, too.

"I will do what I have to in order to save lives in Erdeniin, no matter how hard it is. No matter how much I have to soil my soul in these dirty games." She paused, something fluttering in her chest as she considered her next words. "So long as you are here with me, I think I can do it."
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"Am I interrupting something?"

Elijah hadn't realised he had stopped when Lyssia had, that he had been staring at her with her words ringing in his mind over and over. Something far from logic began to spout off the million possible meanings behind those words and the accompanying look. He prided himself on letting logic rule him and yet here he was, deep in enemy territory, his mind frayed and logic nowhere to be seen. Whatever that voice at the back of his mind whispered in the dark of night, when dreams glittered amongst the stars, and however those whispers made him feel they were completely and utterly impractical. Impossible even.

He should have been glad for Roe's interruption like a bucket of ice water thrown over his head, but he wasn't.

"No," the Captain tore his eyes from hers and then motioned for her to step through the door he helped open first.

"Good," he sighed and took a seat at his desk. "Then let us begin."
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Her heart climbed into her throat and she stepped back quickly at the Lord's words. And almost immediately cursed inwardly. Acting as if she was doing something wrong! There was nothing at all wrong with...

She cut the train of thoughts off. Now was not the time. There would be plenty of time later to pursue ... whatever this was. That what she had always told herself, when she wasn't weaseling her way around actually confronting what she felt. Even so, she really hoped he didn't read anything into the way she had reacted like a goosed girl when Lanis had cut in where he was most certainly not wanted.

She decided the frosty look was the appropriate answer to his question.

Roe cast an appraising look at first Elijah, then the diminutive fae, shook his head and kept whatever thoughts he had to himself. Wisely.

"I will not tell you everything, but I can tell you enough." No apology in his voice, and honestly there should have been no need. Generals would only speak of what was important, and people caught in politics were much the same - if much, much less honorable in their fighting. "Erdeniin is not the only one in upheaval. Dalriada is just... more subtle. The positioning for power is more about removing certain families from positions of power and scrambling to insert oneself into those seats recently... vacated. The Royal family is, of course, beyond reproach and beyond reach of the nobles. Its the Council and the higher ranking positions that are being sought."

He gave her a significant look.

"Of course, that's what the outside world sees. Internally, there are those who would seek to do to the king as there are among Erdeniin to the Dynast. Unlike there, though, there are lines. Those who support the monarch, and those who would depose and replace him."

"Sound's awfully familiar," she said. Her tone was as dry as the Amol. "Our problem is plenty subtle about how they go about business, though," she added in a somehow drier tone.
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Elijah never liked sitting down in these types of meetings but though he would not admit it out loud, the Captain was tired. He slid into one of the large overstuffed chairs that faced Roe and leant forward to rest his elbows upon his knees and twine his hands together. Better than gripping his sword hilt as though it were some sort of comforter for a child. He hated politics, yes, but he needed to understand them in order to protect Lyssia.

And the Dynast of course.

"And which side are you on?" He supposed it made the most sense that those were attacking him were on the opposite side of this silent civil war.
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"My own," he said sharply. "I will take whatever scraps fall my way during this upheaval, but I do not want the crown. I will strive to remain as neutral as possible without ceding my property and my current societal position. Might seem distasteful to some, but survival is my chief concern."

It was a diplomatic answer, and not unexpected. "You will not be able to stand on the fence forever," she said in a low voice. The weight of the day weighed heavily on her, but she schooled the look and feel away. Elijah would not approve of pushing, but she did not really like being treated as spun glass. "You will be forced to choose."

"Have you chosen? Of course you have - you made your position clear as soon as you decided to stand back up after they pushed you down," he replied mildly. "And you, Captain? Have you made your choice as clearly? The Dynast has been out of sight for some time now. The vipers are the ones wielding power; perhaps you understand, then, my reluctance to show my hand just yet. Have you?"
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"Considering I spent nearly a week in a metal box, whipped every night, I would say yes I have made my position abundantly clear," every word Elijah said dripped with contempt. The Dynast had been his whole life since Samantha had died. He had spent every waking moment continuing her work because she had believed the Dynast could make the world better. When she had agreed to promote Elijah to Sam's second, Eli had begun to believe it to. When she had died it was the Dynast who had visited him first to offer words of comfort and her job. Yes, the Lordling had definitely struck a sensitive nerve.

"You've heard everything she has to say. If you have nothing useful more to add, are we done here?"