Fate - First Reply Secrets of the Sea

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Monroe

mean-roe, at your service
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There had not been time for Monroe to bother reading the sign that pointed south, towards the sea, but the winds that washed over her was unlike any siren song she ever heard. The scent of the sea water conjured up memories she had longed to relive, carried away by the longing she felt to see crystal waters after so long. Monroe Cathmore believed the sea did not want to see her go, but over the years being with the Knights, she always had taken whatever job that took her close to the water.

"No need to make camp tonight." Monroe turned to look over her shoulder. "We deserve a nice warm meal and bed to sleep in. There is a town just below the hill." She did not care to learn the name of the town, except whether or not at some point in this rest stop, she could hear the sea.

They were still days, perhaps even a week out to return to Astenvale, but Syr Cathmore had lead a steady charge home before her attention was caught towards the direction of the sea. She had grown up in a similar town, one called Cathmore, after her family's long history tied to the area. It was no longer a viable option to live, not when she was the sole survivor because the sea had kept her hidden. No one bothered to look to the choppy waters that day, and even if they had, they would not have spotted a young girl's head bobbing amongst the white capped waves.
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The town had been less than an hour's travel, and held all the basic amenities Monroe had hoped for. Tavern, bathing house, and a market, but it was the stairs built into the rock to take one to the pebbled beach that intrigued her most.

"First order of business," Monroe began, securing her horse to a post outside the tavern, "is a hot meal prepared by someone other than ourselves. We are to leave after sunrise tomorrow, so we best get a good night's sleep as we are to ride throughout the day." The right meal could temper the worst of moods, and Monroe had been thinking of fresh caught fish from the sea since their travel down from the higher road.


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'If you don't like my cooking, you could have just told me, y'know?' Basking in the waning daylight, Syr Faramund smiled as he gazed around at the town nestled in the valley around them. He could smell the salt and smoke of the fishing town being blown up from the shoreline towards them. A heady, familiar scent, it beckoned to the two dawnlings like an old friend inviting them in for tea.

Faramund liked tea, but he liked a warm meal and a soft bed even more.

'Sounds good to me, Roe,' he said, tethering his horse to the hitching post beside hers. Retrieving the items he couldn't afford to lose from his saddlebags, the knight gave his steed's thick neck a hearty pat before heading inside to find himself a place to sit.

The air inside was cool, though it still smelt of fish and woodsmoke. 'A couple pints, if you will, barkeep!' Faramund called out, weaving his way between tables and travellers in search of a vacant spot to rest their weary bones. As he moved, he noticed how all the windows and doors had been left open to let the room breathe. It had been a warm day, indeed, and the knight found himself relaxing almost instantly.

Heading out onto a veranda overlooking the sea, Faramund whistled lightly as he took in the view.

'Quite the sight, huh?' Pulling out a chair, the burly dawnling sat down. 'Man could get used to this, if you let him.'

Monroe
 
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It was much easier to part through a bustling tables and merry folk that filled the floor space when Faramund took the lead. Taller than herself and most in the room, the people gave way to him, Monroe two paces behind, and soon they found an empty table. Before she could sit down, warm brown eyes watched the gentle sea.

"Always thought I would go back to the sea, maybe once I tire from being a Knight." She cannot be sour, not now when then falling sun's rays glinted in the flat water. Monroe took a seat, sitting opposite from Faramund and turning her body to stare at the sea some more. She may as well get her fill of the view now before heading back inland on the morrow. "I miss the sea spray. Only then will I feel at home."

"Here yous go." The sound of their ordered drinks brought Monroe back to sit properly upon her chair. "Can I getcha anything to eat? Roast pork? Roast chicken? Roast lamb? Roast be-"

"You wouldn't happen to have any fish on the menu, do you?" Monroe leaned back against her seat, arms crossing as if she were preparing to convince the worker there should be fish on the menu. Fortunately, they nodded.

"Chef's special, fried on the pan." Suppose she should be glad they didn't roast everything here.

"Well I am convinced." The corners of her lips twitched. She raised her brows before looking across to Faramund. "Are you? Or you feeling something of the roasted variety?"

Faramund
 
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'Must be nice, missing something,' replied Faramund, smiling as he leaned forward to collect his drink. Beer. Room temperature. Perfect! Settling back, the dawnling glanced out to sea as the waiter rattled off a few choice meats. Surprisingly, fish was the last thing on the menu to come up. Not that he was complaining.

Closing his eyes, Faramund chuckled at Monroe's jibe.

'Depends,' he said, turning to the waiter. 'Would the chef be willing to roast the fish instead?' Smiling, the waiter toyed with his collar nervously. 'Well, um, as a matter of fact, yes, he would be willing to!' His gaze darted towards Monroe before hurriedly realigning on Fara. 'Sea bass, freshly-caught this morning. It shouldn't be too much hassle to roast.'


'Excellent!'

Clapping his hands together in mock excitement, Faramund nodded. 'That'll do me, then!' Committing their order to memory, the waiter bowed slightly as he backed away from their table. He tried not to glance at Monroe. The lady-knight had a sour look about her, and that was at the best of times.

'What?' Faramund asked, resting his arm on the balcony railing. 'Should I have stuck to beef?'

Monroe
 
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The very idea of roasted fish soon settled on her face in a scowl, her arms shifting to cross tighter. The honeyed hues of her eyes were trained on Faramund before her, not bothering to look up at the waiter who could not have hurried off any sooner.

"You're going to hate your meal." Honestly, roasting a fish? She would be amazed if the chef at this establishment could make it work. Monroe would have given him less shit if he went with the beef.

With a disgruntled exhale, she loosened her arms to drape along the arms of her chair. "Doing fresh caught fish a disservice." She muttered darkly, shaking her head and looking out the the sun now setting somewhere down the coastline and washing the water in hues of pink, purple, and orange. "You're absolutely not allowed to ask for a bite of my meal. Not unless you buy the next round of drinks." And even then, he deserved a morsel!

Faramund was going to need several drinks to drown out his tastebuds.

"Although you are right. I am glad to eat a meal you haven't cooked. By the preference you wish to eat fish, I cannot imagine what tragedy you would make of a fish dinner." Suppose she could educate him the way she was taught as a child, but that would also mean being on a boat to teach him to fish.

Her patience was not that great.

Faramund
 
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'Haven't even paid for the first round yet.' Faramund pointed out, smiling at the disgusted look on Syr Monroe's face. Checking to make sure his coin pouch was still where it was supposed to be, the dawnling listened intently as his fellow spoke some more. Of fish dinners and terrible cooking.

His cooking, to be precise.

'Yes, well, hate to break it to you, Roe, but I don't cook for the pleasure of it,' he said, mock hurt twisting his voice. 'And I certainly don't cook fish, if it can be helped.' There was a reason for that, but he knew Monroe well enough to realise airing it would have been a mistake on his part. He was very good at making those, oddly enough. Meaning, mistakes... Not fish dinners.

Sipping his beer, Faramund followed his companion's gaze out to sea. Bright, burnished by the setting sun, it held him rapt. Though he would never admit it, for a moment he felt... content.

To relax. To enjoy the fruits of his labour. 'How often do we get to do this?' He asked Monroe, his dark brown eyes counting the myriad sails of merchant- and fishing vessels still out at sea. 'I can hardly recall the last time I just... sat for a while. No quests. No looming darkness we have to take care of. Just... this.' It almost made everything he had done these past nine years worth it.

Almost.

Monroe
 
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Monroe would not reveal to Faramund that she only really knew how to cook fish the way her mother did when she was young. It was steamed and served in a simmered sauce and finely cut vegetables. Whatever grumpy expression she wore deepened a little more at the memory.

Can't help that now.

"I miss it. Terribly." Her face softened, relaxed. "I think I am sick of forests and hills and anything that is not pebbled beaches, sand, and the sea. The best part of growing up by the sea, Mund? Waking up to the sound of seagulls and gentle wash of the waves." She sighed dramatically, casting a wistful glance to the view.

"You know... I almost feel guilty that we get to enjoy this and every one else is preparing for what is soon to come and miss out on this..." She winced, which turned into a smile born from spite and greed. "No. I lied. I am glad they get to miss out on this because I am sure someone will end up ruining the seaside ambiance." Monroe chuckled. "I would not have the patience to wrangle squires. You know what I'd tell someone that annoyed me in this place of tranquility?"

Faramund
 
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'Something soul-destroying, I'm sure.' Monroe had always been quick with it. A few of his fellow knights had only ever seen the rude, obnoxious side of her. The side she presented to the greater world, like a shield, protecting her from harm. But Faramund knew there was more to her than that.

A seaside dinner, a couple drinks. The chance to watch the sun go down in peace, and not in abject fear of what the night might bring, well... Faramund wouldn't have missed it for the world.

'We like what we like, Roe. For me, the ocean is deep, dark and fathomless. It scares me, truth be told. Not sure why, exactly, but it does.' A cold, dark room lined with half-naked bodies flashed across Faramund's eyes, sending a shiver down his spine despite the warmth in the air. Blinking, he pushed the image -and the revulsion it brought with it- away. 'You've grown sick of the hills and forests? I haven't. For me, they are home. The ponds and paths, rivers and mountains.' He paused. 'Could do without the skeeters and giant spiders, mind, but apart from that...'

He glanced over at the dawnling, suppressed a laugh.

'But you were going to tell me something, weren't you?' Faramund grinned encouragingly. Hopefully, he hadn't just annoyed Monroe in her place of tranquillity.

The odds were not in his favour.

Monroe
 
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Monroe crinkled her nose delicately and pursed her lips as he described the very things she declared she was no fan of, but the way he spoke of it was the way she did of the sea. That she could not fault him for. "Well, of course there is the parts of what we love that are a danger. Your mountains and forests dwell monsters of the darkest shadows, and the sea is home to an abyss I know not to venture into." Because she had been there once before, she remembered the helplessness of being carried out to sea.

And yet here she sat, across from someone she would probably say was a friend. Not many could get away with calling her Roe.

His smile was meant to encourage, but she saw it for the shit-eating grin it truly was. She lifted a brow, her own lips curving at the corners. "I was going to tell you, that what I would say to anyone that gave me grief here in this tranquil seaside..." Monroe paused to take a drink, taking her time to get to the reveal as if she needed to think on it before speaking. "No... no, I think I am confident enough to challenge someone in a swimming race."

Faramund
 
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'Oh?' Fingers knitted together as Faramund leaned back in his seat. 'I was expecting something... worse,' he teased, ever aware of the reputation Monroe had earned for herself over the years. She was a pretty woman, but the way she scowled was enough to make even a menhir wilt.

Faramund did not need that mental image in his head.

'Couldn't tell you the last time I went swimming,' the dawnling continued, forging ahead while the going was good. Any more teasing and Monroe was like to stick a fork betwixt his ribs. Or that nice shiny dagger he knew she carried. To cut fish, she had assured him, three days past. The way she smiled at him after had left him with a newfound appreciation for plate armour.

Not that it would do him any good.

'Not that I plan on throwing myself into the sea anytime soon. Well, not yet.' His eyes narrowed slightly as he gazed at Monroe. There was something about her, something that left him with a sinking feeling in his gut. 'Don't you go getting any ideas, now! I know that look!' Picking up his drink, Faramund eyed her from across the rim, took a cautious sip. 'At least let me finish my meal.'

Monroe
 
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Monroe feigned innocence, contorting her face to take on such an expression. "Oh, I would never dream of doing you harm, Syr Faramund. That would be terribly unkind." But her smirk was hidden behind her drink, eyes of molten honey gleaming with wickedness.

It was easy to speak with Faramund, but it was true that on some occasion, her mood would not take to his antics. He would find her more relaxed and content by the sea.


"If swimming is not the worst idea, then I suppose I should think of something worthy of your expectations. Cannot have you think I am going soft, now can I?"

Monroe always had a few ideas in mind, but Faramund was not like most. She would truly need to think of something he would still not expect, but liken to her person. "You may have your meal."

And with that timing, their meals arrived. Monroe instantly placed down her drink and sat up straight, as if she had been starved and waited too long. Her plate was placed down first, and her face lit up with amazement. "Oh, this looks fucking amazing." Cooked to perfection, potatoes cut and cooked until crisp. She could not help herself and sampled a potato and audibly enjoyed the flavour and texture.


"This is perfect. This is better than what you---"

Her eyes fell on Faramund's identical plate.

"Chef says roasting would be too much like the potatoes, but if you truly wish, I can send it back and insist on roasting the fish?"

Faramund
 
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'You were saying?' Staring down at his plate, then, up at the waiter, Faramund let out a sigh. 'Well, if chef says so, I suppose there's nothing to be done about it.' Feeling as if he was failing in his duties, the waiter opened his mouth to speak, only for Faramund to quiet him with a gesture.

'It's fine!' The dawnling smiled, letting the matter slide.


Grub's grub, he thought, unwrapping a knife and fork and getting stuck in to show the waiter things really were A-Okay. Nodding, the man cleared his throat. 'Very good! Please, enjoy your meals!' Glancing at Monroe, the waiter inclined his head to her before scuttling away to serve another, less intimidating couple. 'It's fine,' he insisted, looking up from his meal at Monroe, a wry smile on his face.

'The fish really is quite good. Try it, while it's still warm!' Taking another bite, Faramund wiggled his eyebrows expectantly. The fish had been her damned idea. I swear to the Soul-Binder, if she even thinks of sending it back...

Monroe
 
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Monroe fixed Faramund with a stare, lips pursed and slightly skewed at one corner. She watched him eat another bite, waggling his brows. Such cheek!

Knife and fork in hand, she began to cut herself a piece, tasting the fish cooked to perfection that made her hum. Her eyes widened, staring at Faramund to see if he too enjoyed his identical meal.

"I am never leaving here." She declared after her mouth cleared of delicious fish and crisped potatoes. Monroe picked up another vegetable with her thumb and forefinger, popping it into her mouth. Genius! "This chef deserves a wealthy pay."

Monroe washed down the saltiness with her drink, smiling as she set it down. "I am going to buy land here and make a home. Don't you try to convince me otherwise, Faramund." It was free to dream, harmless to speak it. To return to Astenvale meant facing the looming threats against the Order.

Here, Monroe felt more at home by the sea.

Faramund
 
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'Oh, I wouldn't dare!' Grinning, Faramund went on eating. If Monroe wanted to give up on the Order and settle down, that was her business. Taking a pull of his drink, the dawnling renewed his attack. Overhead, he could hear gulls squawking as they circled. Every now and then, he would watch as one dived down towards the quays after a fish dinner of their own.

Good! He wasn't about to give his up to the flying rats any time soon.

'It's not a bad spot,' he would comment, having cleared his plate in record time. 'Scenic. Smell's a bit off-putting, but then it's a damned sight better than any city I've ever been to.' Indeed, even those with working sewers tended to reek worse than a busy abattoir on a hot summer's day. Of course, the wealthier parts might not have been so bad, though what were the odds he'd ever visit them?

'Still, can't see you living in a place like this, truth be told.' Glancing out to sea, Faramund studied how the light reflected off of the rolling waves. 'Too quiet. Too... mundane.' He shrugged. Some days, he no more understood himself than he did Monroe.


'It's a pretty dream, all the same.'

Monroe
 
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Monroe did not devour her meal like Faramund had. She was already dreading the end of her meal, as it had been so delicious with every bite, but it allowed her to not scowl at Faramund for his next words.

As much as she wanted to tell him he did not know her well enough, she came to realise she was no longer the same girl she had been living by the sea. Her years with the Order had certainly changed her, and not just her short temper. A young Monroe would have lazed around all day, not yet burdened by work or chores. She had grown up into discipline, remembering that was how she was taught anything by her parents.

As much as she wanted tranquility and peace of mind, she was certain she would miss the camaraderie, the idea of telling squires to buzz off, or even simply feeling as if she belonged somewhere despite how she was as a person. None had tried to change her personality, they had simply accepted and learned to be mindful.

Just as Faramund did, and she rewarded him with respect and loyalty, like any friend.

But she wasn't going to tell him he was right about her, either.


"It is only too quiet because you wouldn't be around to visit every time. And when you do visit, we will be sitting right here, eating a nice meal and catching up on whatever evil pursues the Order in that time. Maybe get a bottle and go lay on the sand, looking up at the stars because I will have been stress free and able to admire the finer things in life." She shrugged, cutting another piece of fish to stab with her fork.

Faramund
 
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'That's a lot of assumptions right there, Roe.' Faramund's reply came with a grin. Why she hadn't stabbed him yet was anybody's guess, but what was the point of luck if you didn't push it every now and then. 'Though I have to admit a couple bottles on the beach sounds perfect!' Indeed, any excuse to drink was perfect in his book. Or at the very least it had been, once.

Now, now he wasn't so sure.

Fondling his cup, a contented smile on his face, Faramund reminisced on his first few years with the Order. Nearly a decade's service, and yet nothing had changed. Not really. Some days, he felt stuck in time. Ageless, almost. Like living life through a series of dreams. Was he dreaming now?

A glance towards Monroe gave him no definitive answer. He was okay with that.

'Enjoying your taste of the finer things in life?' He asked, flagging down a waiter for the wine menu. Though he was too proud to admit it, he was rather regretting rushing his meal now. 'I could go for seconds myself.'

Monroe
 
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With a light snort, the dawnling shook her head at him. Their preference of drinking was quite similar, and she knew in the past Faramund was hard pressed to turn down going for a drink with her when she felt like it. After all, it was already predetermined they wouldn't just have the one round. "Bottles. No fancy glasses. A bottle each to ourselves." She smiled slightly at the idea.

Her brow raised as he tried to get the attention of staff, and Monroe skewed her lips and looked up at Faramund. "Alright. You may have one of these..." She picked up a potato wedge, roasted to the point of being excellently crispy, and held it out to the dawnling before her. Monroe dangled it before him, as if he were a dog being encouraged to do a trick for a reward.

"Shall we ask for a second meal for the growing boy?" She asked as the same attendant started to walk over to them. Perhaps Mund would order the roast beef this time.

Faramund
 
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