His fingers tightened, his eyes set on her. A spark of rage flickered through him for a moment. Who was she to question him? Who was she to ask something like that.
The girl who had come in after the Revolution. The pathetic little Princess that had avoided all the beatings, all the cruelty, all the torture. Even Liliana had suffered alongside them. Even Trix had been broken down and beaten by the Proctors. Even pathetic little whelps like Chasmine had suffered.
What right did Kristen have to an answer?
Why would she deserve something that none of them had gotten? Why would should she be allowed a glimpse into his soul? Fingers balled into fists, and for a moment a spark of that field erupted around them. A small pluck of a string of memory.
"Because of them." He said plainly, quietly. "Because of Noel."
He seemed to pause.
"Eleanor, Vance, Sable." Riding that small wave of rage he continued. "Because of you."
Edric stared at her, hard, fingers slowly unfurled. "All of you."
"Because leaving would mean leaving them behind." His voice was steady, firm. "And I won't do that."
She turned back toward the gangplank leading up to the Lyene. A half-turn, so it was, and she looked sidelong to Edric.
"And I'll fight for you."
A tiny smile. Like a small creature peeking out from underneath its hiding place to see if the surrounding environs were safe, did this smile appear. Cautiously, warily, but with a genuine truth to it. Mayhap he'd entertained the thoughts of running away. Maybe so. Had she not as well? Over things far less harrowing than what Edric had suffered through? Yes. It could not be said of her judgments of him that they were being made by a peer.
She wouldn't be so presumptuous as to take credit, even in some small part, for his apparent change of heart. In his mind, what were her judgments of him? Nothing, more than not.
But she was nevertheless glad that he had had it, this change of heart. And that gladness was nestled within her diminutive, fleeting smile.
Kristen started back up the ramp, intent on returning to Lady Lorel. She knew what it was that she would ask.
The small simmer of rage was still there. The indignation at what she had asked of him. What she had dug out of the deep clusters of his mind.
He still wanted to throw her overboard.
But he didn't.
Instead he just followed along, sparing a glance back over his shoulders to make sure that the Anirians were not being an utter nuisance. He saw that some of them were still stalking over the deck, but the Sergeant seemed to be having an almost pleasant conversation with the Captain.
A frown flickered over his features, but he didn't linger as Kristen began to lead the way.
As they moved through the Ironclad Edric found himself utter bewildered. He had never seen a ship like this, something built to such...purpose. It was as though the whole thing had been handcrafted for war, for perfection.
Noel would love this. Edric thought to himself as they stepped through one of the bulkheads, his eyes glancing over the carefully carved steel.
It was beautiful, in a brutal sort of way.
After another fifteen minute journey Edric and Kristen found themselves wandering up the steps back to the Bridge. They were greeted with an open door, and Adriana now sitting in a large chair which almost took on the appearance of a throne. "Ah. There you are."
The Captain said with a smile.
"Have you come to a decision, Kristen?" She glanced at the Pirian, then let her eyes briefly flicker to Edric with a studious gaze.
Kristen stood before Adriana Lorel, Lady of House Lorel, current captain of the Lyene. She stood with her hands clasped before her, heels together and feet parted at the correct angle, her back straight and her chin level. Her clothes looked all the part of a ragged refugee, but her posture was the portrait of a Pirian noblewoman.
"Yes, Adriana, I have," Kristen said. "I am requesting passage aboard the Lyene for myself and for my compatriot, Edric. Your stated conditions, these being your estimated timetable and primacy of the Lyene's mission, are indeed suitable. What say you, Adriana of House Lorel? Are we in agreement?"
Adriana let out a small chuckle, though for what was impossible to tell. "Of course."
The Noblewoman smiled.
"We will find rooms for the both of you." From Edric's point of view, there were likely no shortage of those aboard this massive ship. It was the largest vessel had had ever seen in his life. Though he supposed that didn't matter for much. "Please ma-"
Before she could finish her sentence a soldier appeared on the bridge behind the two Initiates. He seemed to stall for a moment, least until Adriana waved him forward. He slipped beyond the prospective Dreadlords, then whispered in The Captain's ear.
"Ah. Excellent." A smile touched her lips.
"It seems your dwarven friends are free and clear." The Noble gestured towards the soldiers. "Private Demorin will show you to your rooms. You have free reign of the ship, but please do stay out of the way of my sailors."
It was a remarkably...liberating statement from someone in Adriana's position. "I would love if you joined me for dinner tonight."
She told the two Initiates.
"I would very much enjoy speaking about my dear sister." Adriana said, looking at the two Initiates.
Kristen performed another small curtsy, hands again miming the motion of lifting an imaginary skirt.
"We thank you, Lady Lorel, for your graciousness and your welcoming hospitality in our time of need," Kristen said. She clapped her hands together, a soft and gentle sound. "And we would be delighted to join you for dinner. I trust that we will be summoned to the correct galley when the hour comes. Until such time, Adriana."
Yet another curtsy, this one deeper however, and with an air of finality. Kristen would face their guide (fortunate that they were assigned one! Kristen wondered at how the Lyene could possibly fit within the port of Vel Luin, such was its enormous size and therefore labyrinthian interior) and she would nod and follow his lead.
As they walked through the narrow passageways, Kristen asked of Edric in a low voice, "How much do you know of Liliana Lorel?"
Whatever it was, it had to be more than Kristen herself. Yes, she did know some of the brief overviews of House Lorel--'twas part of learning one's noble environs, after all, families and lineages and such--but she had very rarely spent much time with Liliana the person. And still she had quite the difficult time recalling much of an opinion about her! Truly it was odd. Kristen prided herself on remembering the smallest of details concerning a person, and yet never before had she encountered such a difficulty as with Liliana.
Edric noted Kristen's 'curtsy', frowning slightly and wondering if he should have done the same. Paid some sort of deference. The second time she did it Edric bowed slightly, clumsily, and then took quick step backwards as he followed the soldier and Kristen out the door.
A part of him still marveled at the ship as they walked, his eyes flickering over the different shapes and bulkhead doors. Taking this ship would have been a nightmare, even for most Dreadlords.
His attention was caught when Kristen asked about Liliana. "I know she's a cunt."
The Guard in front of them nearly took a tumble as his foot seemed to fall out from him. Edric raised an eyebrow, not realizing that what he'd said would likely find it's way back to Adriana. He frowned, and then continued.
"Liliana has never made a secret of who she is, and used it to her advantage with some of the others. Formed a little circle around herself." Edric explained, still with little tact. "Though it never carried much weight with the Proctors."
She had suffered under their hand right alongside everyone else. "Her magic is...something to do with the mind. Not like Talea, more subtle."
A frown knit his brow for a second as he thought. "Back in the old days..."
He spoke a bit more slowly, quietly so the guard wouldn't hear him.
"Students who were on missions with her had a tendency not to return." Edric glanced to Kristen. "Especially if she didn't like them."
That had never been Edric's way, but such practices hadn't been exactly uncommon. Proctors loved to pit Initiates against themselves, and though Edric himself had never killed any of his peers...some had certainly tried to kill him.
Kristen pinched her eyes shut and pursed her lips. All she needed was to hear Private Demorin's stumbling step rattling the metal they walked on to know that Edric's unvarnished opinion of Liliana was likely to cause them both trouble. She didn't keep that tight expression for long, though. More for matters of practicality--she didn't want to likewise trip on a bulkhead, or bang her head on one, from not seeing.
Still, the damage had been done. Kristen had a mind to speak with Private Demorin before his departure, to make an attempt at repairing the faux pas of her fellow Initiate. Word may yet reach Adriana's ear, but the attempt still needed to be made.
"I think..." Kristen began, "...it would be wise if, at the dinner, I did most of the talking. We are guests aboard this vessel, Edric, here by the grace of Lady Lorel. My own station contributed, yes, but ultimately it was the decision of Lady Lorel to grant or deny us passage. Rudeness would not be at all becoming of a guest to his host."
She shrugged. Added as something of a half-joke, half-truth, "And you can't just kill her, you barbarian, so purge the very thought from your mind."
...Upon more proper consideration, mirth or not, she ought to have kept that to herself. At least until Private Demorin had taken his leave. Now she had more apologizing and explaining to do.
Edric had never been much of a talker anyway. Better to let others handle that sort of thing, and Kristen did have a more...diplomatic bent. Perhaps she would thrive here more than anywhere on their journey. It was her playing field after all.
Eventually they passed into what was unmistakably the officers quarters. Several open doors revealing small rooms with single beds and a few other luxuries.
"The thought didn't even cross my mind." He said in answer to her jest.
Having seen this ship, there was no doubt in his mind that even if he did manage to somehow kill Adriana Lorel that he would soon find the same fate. Well, something close to it. Perhaps chained up and thrown into the sea.
Private Demorin stopped at a bulkhead, pulling open a large lever and revealing a room much like those they had passed. He then gestured to the one across the hall.
"There isn't much space left on the ship, I'm afraid. These two are the only rooms we have left open."
Well. 'Twas good, then, that the thought hadn't crossed his mind. Not that it wouldn't, though. Kristen knew from experience that Edric could indeed be roused to such violence, and an inkling born it that Adriana (if she was anything like her sister) might be more than capable of provoking Edric to it.
They arrived at the vacant rooms. At least they were sized for humans, and Kristen wouldn't have to wake up with that awful, cramped soreness in her legs and knees (which lasted for a good portion of the day, mind!).
"Oh? Not much space left on the ship? My, you could have had me fooled!"
Before Private Demorin could go, Kristen turned to him and placed a hand to his arm. Said with a polite smile, "Private Demorin, you must excuse the coarseness of my companion. You must understand that the Academy engenders a certain...mindset; this certainly even more pronounced than what you may have seen during your service in the Guard or in the Navy."
A tiny squeeze of his arm. "I trust, then, that you will keep what has been said in reasonable confidence?"
The Private said by way of explanation, tensing Slightly as she grasped his shoulder.
Edric stood there awkwardly as Kristen emboldened herself and asked Private Demorin to keep what he had said underwraps.
Only when she spoke on it did Edric realize that he had likely spoken out of turn, and something similar to embarrassment flickered through him. The Soldier seemed to look at Kristen for a moment, then at Edric. His head tilted ever so slightly. "I'm just a hammer."
It was a jest, a joke, and he was almost entirely certain it hadn't landed.
Then finally Demorin cracked a smile.
"Aye, and the Navy's the Anvil. Secret's safe with me Ma'am, Sir."
He bowed his head, and then when Kristen released him began to walk away. A frown touched Edric's lips for a second, not entirely understand the whole interaction. Had the man felt some some of...camaraderie? He gazed after him, then looked to Kristen.
"Sorry." He apologized, perhaps for the first time this whole trip.
Sorry. Kristen was stunned momentarily by the word. It wasn't that she thought him incapable of apologizing, just...either it was rare in general, or rare specifically with regard to her. And Kristen wasn't sure in the slightest which it could be.
She waved it off. "'Tis nothing, Edric. You weren't made for this world, but were in fact forged for another altogether."
Her eyebrows perked slightly at this, her own words. The realization was writ plainly across her expression: such a thing could well be said of her too. And a thought, mighty in its peculiarity, followed: though she was forged for this world of luxury and lineages, the aristocratic sphere of Vel Anir's noble-blooded denizens, she nevertheless was endeavoring to enter Edric's own, one of blood and battle and brutality. Say she succeeded. Was it then possible, by corollary, for Edric to potentially succeed as well, if he so wished? To tidy himself up if and when the occasion called for it, don a decorum most unlike his demeanor now, and make of himself a fine Lord?
"In any case," Kristen said, banishing those thoughts. "It will be sometime yet before the dinner."
She looked off to the side, and she held her elbow with her other hand, a brief nervous drumming of her fingers upon it.
Back to Edric. "And I do believe Adriana will seize the opportunity then to reveal the true price of our passage. You were not privy to the first portion of our conversation, though I did reference it in your presence for the second portion. The Lyene has a mission of its own, and shall not return to Vel Luin until it is done."
"I believe Lady Lorel will try to cajole us into aiding this mission--whatever it may be."
"I suppose I was." He said with a slow nod of his head, accepting the reasoning without much argument.
Mostly because there wasn't anything to say against it.
He supposed that some of the other Initiates might have functioned better in this situation. Liliana, obviously, but even someone like Sable or Alistair would at least have known what to do. Edric? He might as well have been a wet noodle in this situation.
Least they had more space than on the Kammerund that had to count for something. "I guess...that's to be expected?"
He said with a frown.
"She didn't strike me much different than some of the Proctors." Edric admitted. "Like she was hiding something behind her words."
Edric didn't play the game of houses, but he had spent plenty of time around Proctors saying one thing and meaning another. "At least we know we will return to Vel Luin. Even if there's an extra cost."
He frowned, but Kristen smiled. Pleasantly. She would have lightly and playfully nudged his arm, but...she decided not too. Instead, she crossed her arms.
"Ohh, look there. You do have the makings of a fine social acumen."
That thought again. If Kristen could be made into a Dreadlord, a real Dreadlord, how removed could it be then for Edric to be made into a lord? Ha! Maybe all he needed to do was drop the Dread from his current pursuit and allow Kristen to borrow it.
"And that," she said of the certainty of return, "is a blessing. One I welcome wholeheartedly from the Holy Sentinel."
Sibyl and her prophecies could stay in Amol-Kalit, swallowed up by the sands and thrust upon whomever else else possessed the woeful luck to stumble into the Heart of Aktash.
She uncrossed her arms and clapped her hands against her thighs. "Well. I suppose that since there is quite a lot of time between now and the dinner, a surveying and familiarization of the present surroundings would not hurt." A single laugh. "Mayhap if I had a bag of breadcrumbs, I could comfortably find my way back to our respective quarters with nary a worry after such an exploration."
"I know when to listen." He said, smiling at the small hint of praise. Though the expression went away almost immediately.
A frown touched Edric's features as Kristen mentioned the 'blessing'.
In Vel Anir, religion was frowned upon, if not actively outlawed. Many of those in charge saw the worship of deity's as sedition, something to be looked down upon. His birthplace of Vel Stratholm had been put through the torture of decimation because of it.
A piece of news he had learned months after it's occurrence. He looked to Kristen, somewhat confused, and entirely ignoring everything else she had said. "What is the Holy Sentinel?"
Edric could remember her prayers back in the Oasis, the words that she had quickly snapped off. Yet at the time it hadn't mattered. He'd been too wrapped up in the moment, the fear around everything that was happening.
Now though? Now he couldn't help but wonder.
He had never heard of such a thing. The Academy avoided all education on Religion, even the mention of it. The only memory he had of prayer was his mother. The invocations of Anirius that she had spoken near every night when he had been a child.
Kristen blinked. Her right foot, already in midmotion to take the first step into her aforementioned exploration, slowly came to descend down to the metal floor of the passageway.
But of course. She'd mentioned something which might seem altogether foreign to Edric--maybe even a little unseemly by his lights. Mother herself had scolded her repeatedly when first she'd adopted Celestialism and worship of Aionus after the Battle of the Blades, eventually settling on hushed but stern warnings to "never make it public" when it was clear that Kristen wouldn't give it up. Her magical potential and her religion became linked, inextricable from one another, and this was perhaps the only reason the Academy tolerated it; why, the Proctors and her peers just viewed her prayers and devotion as some silly thing she needed to do, not all that different from elaborate hand movements or the crafting of ritual circles for other kinds of magic.
Such as it was for all Vel Anir. Not much stock was placed in the divine. And, in truth, it could be worse than simple indifference or mild derision in some grave instances, so she had heard. Briefly, she wondered if the Republic would change much in that regard, or if freedom only extended so far.
Regardless, she was just the slightest bit delighted that Edric had shown some small interest, however neutral his inquiry.
She smiled and said, "He is Aionus of the Celestial Pantheon, the God of Time, the Blessed Guardian and the Banisher of the Dark Ones. He created the Third Law of Magic and bound all Arethil to it--none may alter the flow of time under His ever vigilant watch. And all of the Portal Stones, scattered across the lands? Have you ever wondered where they come from, and why no mage nor scholar has ever been able to truly decipher all of their mysteries? It is because they come from Aionus, and lay within the domain of the divine. For binding us all to time by the Third Law, Aionus, in exchange, gifted us the Portal Stones. And when the Dark Ones invaded Arethil during the Noxomarchy many ages ago, the Holy Sentinel used this very network of Portal Stones to banish them away--yet this left most of the Portal Stones across the world inert."
"Even now, He stands as Guardian of the World, and grants His most potent favor to those who likewise guard and protect."
There was so much more she could get into, but she didn't want to launch into a full sermon. The verbosity of her answer already mismatched the conciseness of Edric's question as it was.
"May I ask what prompted you to inquire so?" Her question, accompanied by a tiny quizzical bend to her brow.
Edric listened to every word she said, a frown touching his face as he worked through it all in his mind.
Religion felt so...strange. Believing in a power you could not see, feel, but...well then again perhaps for Kristen she could. Her manifestations were an aspect of this god, were they not? It still felt off, even knowing that, having seen what she could do in the desert.
Perhaps she was right. Perhaps this god truly existed, despite what Edric had been told from a young age.
Yet what Kristen said seemed to conflict with other things he had heard. What little he'd picked up in the Empire and their worship of their God King. That was not even to mention what he could remember of his mother, her worship of Anirius.
The Ancient God who once stood as a pillar in Vel Anir itself.
A vexing frown pulled at his lips.
If Aionus existed. If Anirius existed. If any of them existed would he not have seen them in the Abyss? That darkness he floated in when someone took his life? Should they not have greeted him...or had he simply never known to look.
What was the truth? Was there a truth? Was one belief right over any other? Or did they all simply pick apart from something that they all misunderstood, or even...were they all right?
Edric's eyes seemed to become a haze for a moment. Then he spoke. "I am beginning to understand just how little I know."
Despite those steaming ashes of anger, vexation, and disappointment from the revelation days prior, Kristen could not help but to feel the kinship of commiseration with Edric then. Her sheltered and pampered life within House Pirian had been fragile--possibly even more so after her kidnapping. And when she came to the Academy, that first day, that first week, that first month--by Aionus, who was she kidding?--that first year had been an awakening.
She remembered it clearly, that day, standing in formation when Proctor Pallatrix had called them all to it, watching Proctor D'Amour fight and best Vance. She remembered it clearly, a thought she had, right then, as if her good senses had finally caught up with her after the whirlwind of being dropped into a world wholly unfamiliar and terribly, terribly fast-paced.
It was the precise moment when she knew just enough about the world of Dreadlords to know how little she actually knew, and realized it.
"In this way, we are kindred spirits of a kind," she said, eyes dropping, voice low like an admission of guilt. "We couldn't be more different, you and I. Yet, I feel, as we look to the metaphorical islands upon which the other dwells, that we share the same sense of being overwhelmed by all the things which we have never known. And it is daunting, frightening even, to cross that dividing sea."
A sudden feeling, bursting into her mind with an urgency reminiscent of a messenger delivering a missive which could turn the tide of a war. Now was the time. Now was the time to say sorry. To apologize for upsetting him in the wheat field, for uttering those two little words in the galley of the Kammerund. Her empathy in that moment was the brief window for it before her heart sealed back up. It was now, or...or mayhap never.
She looked back up. Lips parted. Words prepared in her throat. She made to speak.
And only a half-formed utterance came forth, more a stifled gasp than anything. Her lips closed, and with them, she knew, the chance to apologize. She couldn't bring herself to say it. To say sorry for the wheat field and for the galley.
Because deep down she knew that it would be a lie.
That she wasn't sorry for what she had said in either incident.
And while her very Pirian blood seemed to chastise her for this, running cold in her veins, her mind, sharpened as it had become in the year spent in the Academy, held within itself a quiet contentment for this.
Separated by an ocean of space. A thousand differences keeping them apart. A million little things that neither of them could ever truly understand about the other. Edric the nobility, religion, all of the things that Kristen had been taught growing up.
The pain that had been brought by the Proctors. The vicious hatred her felt for those who had sought to'better' him. The death that he had experienced a dozen times over and over again.
Neither of them could bridge that divide. Neither of them could ever hope to step over to the other island. Even if they had wished it. Even if they had reached out and helped one another across...it likely still wouldn't have been enough.
Edric stood there. Quietly. Considering.
Then finally he spoke. "Guess we'll have to learn to swim."
"Yes," Kristen said, with a sort of reverence for the simplistic yet profound wisdom. "I suppose we will."
Each had something the other wanted. Some desired treasure on that opposing island, to run with that metaphor. In the wake of the Battle of the Blades, Kristen knew what she wanted, and she looked up to those like Noel among her peers, to her three Dreadlord heroes, who all possessed it. Edric, as well, wanted something. He may have had difficulty in expressing it, or even grasping it clearly within his mind, but he wanted something from the world of civility from which Kristen hailed. Not necessarily something of aristocratic stature, no, but certainly something which could not be found within the stark walls of the Academy. Perhaps he would know it when he actually found it.
For her part, she was in the water. Making an attempt at crossing that dividing sea. And progress was being made. For what dreadful failings of hers throughout this whole trek, there was progress. She had said something, and meant it. Two things, even. And she did not apologize for civility's sake, for even out of fear of reprisal (and Edric could deliver a godsawful reprisal, indeed) but held to the truth as she saw it.
That didn't count for nothing.
Ending their conversation there with her agreement, Kristen turned and started down the passageway, intent on touring the Lyene until it came time for dinner for Lady Lorel.
Edric lingered in the hall for a brief moment, still staring at the wall where Kristen had just been a few moments ago.
He seemed almost lost in his thoughts.
As though the ground had some enraptured him during the midst of their conversation. Even as her steps echoed further and further away from Edric he didn't move. Instead he simply stood there, wondering, considering.
How did he start to swim? How did he even wade into the waters? The last few months really had shown so much that he didn't know, so much that he just...missed. Gilram. Nassau. Wissburg. Sene. All of it had gone wrong. All of it because he had thought himself a blunt instrument when a razor was needed.
It was time for a change.
Time to be something more.
Finally, Edric pulled himself away from where he had been standing. He stepped into the small state room, grabbing the heavy metal door and pulling it shut behind him. He threw himself down onto the bed, an Anirian bed.
Hours later, when the open sky above the massive Ironclad had shifted from its brilliant blue to a blazing orange as the sun descended in the west, the time for the dinner was upon them. Kristen's legs had grown a little weary from all of the walking, and thus the private who had come to summon her was a welcome sight. The ache of having trekked through the Amol-Kalit desert for days on end and then being cramped into the tight quarters of the Kammerund had left her legs feeling worn down, both tense and heavy, as if weights had been strapped to them.
She didn't need to walk very far from where the private had found her. The captain's galley, naturally, was on the upper decks where Kristen just so happened to be on her self-guided tour.
As she stood beside the door, waiting for Edric to arrive so that they could be received together, Kristen had a moment to consider what she thought was likely to happen. Adriana, while perhaps not outright extending an explicit proposal for Kristen and Edric to assist in the Lyene's mission, would likely imply that their support would be a boon for all involved. She might not even go that far, but might deliberately avoid bringing the subject up, engaging in pleasant small talk whilst letting Kristen simmer under the increasing heat of curiosity and urgency.
Because there was a sort of urgency. Despite their circumstances, going over schedule (which was to say nothing of going grievously over schedule) would most certainly be frowned upon. Yes, there were perhaps nefarious actors who might be among the Proctors who expected them to be dead, but the greater majority of Proctors would just see two Initiates who are turned out to be suspiciously leadfooted in returning to the Academy. In Kristen's case, it could set her back tremendously.
All of this wasn't to suggest that partaking in the Lyene's mission was some sort of altogether bad thing, or that Kristen wanted desperately to avoid it. Maybe it was the uncertainty of what the mission entailed? Or the unofficial nature of it?
Regardless of her misgivings, regardless even of the need to return to the Academy, Kristen felt an urge for redemption. To prove herself. Maybe it was born of the powerful desire for self-fulfillment or maybe it was born of the silly notion that she had to be "better" than Edric now. Whatever its foundations were, it wasn't the first time Kristen had felt this way, nor, she suspected, would it be the last. Far from it.
Footsteps down the passageway were approaching the captain's galley.
While Kristen had wandered the Lyene, Edric had slept.
Caught up in the whirlwind of everything that had occurred over the last few weeks and finally allowing himself a hint of relaxation the Initiate had simply fallen asleep. It had been a calm, watchless sleep. No danger in the back of his mind. Nothing to look out for.
A foolish notion in a place like this perhaps, but he did not know any better.
Thus he slept. A restful sleep, one that took him through the hours and a dozen different decisions. It was the pounding of a fist on a steel door that woke him. One of the sailors of this ship calling out to him that it was time to eat.
Roused from his bed, the Initiate pulled himself from the cabin. Though was quickly met with a swift rebuke.
"You ain't wearin that to see the Captain' are ye? That won't fuckin stand. Kress. You'da though' you're a fuckin farmer!"
By the time Edric actually reached Kristen he was dressed in a naval uniform, or at least half of one. A comfortable vestment, and trousers that weren't quite as ragged as the ones he had been wearing before. "They didn't make you change?!"
Edric demanded of Kristen, slight annoyance in his voice.
"They let you change?!" Kristen said, aghast, at nearly the same time as Edric. She'd seen him coming, but didn't truly acknowledge that it was him, Edric, the fellow Initiate she had been traveling and surviving with, until he was upon her presence. The uniform had...well, she just never expected to see him in such an outfit!
Kristen's hands cradled her temples, fingers digging into her hair. All it took was this one foundational crack to split apart the matured confidence which Kristen had grasped since stepping aboard the Lyene.
"Oh no! I hadn't even spared it a thought! The sailor who summoned me said nothing of it, but mayhap it was forgetful nervousness or he had not been told through miscommunication or--Regardless! It is no fault of his own! I should have taken the initiative to inquire! Someone, anyone, could have directed me appropriately! How could I have allowed the fiendish sun of the Kaliti desert to incinerate my proper sense of decorum??"
She clapped her hands down onto her thighs.
"Oh, but I have to do something! And I must now suffer being late! Late! How I do so LOATHE to be late! Edric!" She looked him right in the eyes, her own blazing with an intense need to rectify this newly realized deficiency on her part. "Inform Lady Lorel that fashion has held me hostage and that I, as all women do, am battling against time and vanity, this to receive her gracious hosting in a seemly manner! Certainly she will understand!"
And Kristen went rushing off down the passageway, boots clanking on the metal, looking for anyone who appeared important enough to adequately provide her the resources she needed: a suitable change into fresh attire.