Private Tales The Long Way Down

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Elijah

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"That was... unnecessary."

Elijah had not spoken much since he had met Lyssia. It was simply in his nature to watch and listen rather than interfere when it came to politics. He also knew how important it was to keep his tongue to himself: the Dynast was ruthless as much as she was loving. However in the silence that stretched out before them like a tainted path, the tiny woman boiling with rage, Eli had been taken back to a time when a Bursar had been rather rude to one of the Princesses. She had been young, no older than 13, and had been left in a great fluster at being spoken to in such a way. Samantha had told her it was the way of women to fight with their wits before their blade and to push it aside. Eli had offered kinder more sympathetic words. The Princess had always gone to Eli for comfort after that point and he had learned the importance of kindness since that moment.

"I'm sorry, let us leave. This way, my Lady," he gently placed a hand on the small of her back and led her back outside. Gypsy gave a little trill when she saw them and pranced over to join, butting her head against Eli's shoulder. "Lady Lyssia it would settle me to know I had at least seen you back to your quarters safely in case another incident occurred."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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Elijah had misread the emotions that raged within her, or at least, had too simplistic an interpretation of them. Raw fury was definitively there, but it was nearly subsumed in its entirety by embarrassment and, worse, shame. A part of her knew that she should defer to her so-called better, that she was in no way the equal of the Bursar or, if it came to it, even the manservant she had brought with her.

Difficult, when the world had always revolved around the status that one carried. In the world of the commons, she could only surmise that they valued wealth or skill above anything else. She hadn't the faintest idea what the common class thought of their rulers; she had always thought they would look to their rulers with dumb obedience, so wrapped up with their simple lives that they could scarcely comprehend the dangers on the high paths where the nobles ruled. Unfortunately for her, she had been brought up to believe that status meant everything. Status was gained and lost by the efforts one made to bring the commons a better life, and to bring prestige to the House and to the Dynast.

What, then, of a lonely soul that had been cast out of that system into the one she had scorned most of her young life? She had no status now, and worse than that, she had no wealth and no skill eiher.

She was, in a word, nothing.

She allowed herself to be led from that room where she had been so humiliated without a word, eyes not seeing anything as Elijah was forced to guide her, lest she walk into something. Something burned in her eyes, unfathomable. Once the light of day fell upon her skin, her eyes seemed to clear, but only a little. She looked to the Guard and away quickly at his words.

Why do you even care? The melancholy mood had settled upon her, now. Anger still burned, but it was a muted and frail thing beneath the shame and the desolation of loss the Bursar had visited upon her in a most ruthless fashion. In fact, she could not remember feeling so low in her life, ever.

Not even when all the rest of the parts of her life had died, saving the one that had died in her arms.

"Maybe it would be best if another 'incident' happened along the way," she said bitterly, a slight hitch in her voice. She would not cry like some child, though the tears burned for release. "But if you wish to lower yourself to the task," she continued, and started off without another word. She stalked, hoping she could stoke the fire of anger back to brilliant life in a bid to banish the darkness, but found she couldn't even raise her ire towards the Bursar that had just treated her like a piece of trash.

Which, she supposed, she was. Now.
 
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Elijah

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Please don't cry.

Elijah couldn't deal with tears. He might have awkwardly bumbled his way through comforting people in the past and learnt as he went but he still wouldn't claim to be the person anyone would want to find themselves crying on the shoulder with. Lord, would she want a hug? Sweating nervously under his uniform which had suddenly become hot even for the autumnal season, Elijah swallowed his fear and stepped into a steady pace beside the shorter woman. He was mindful of her earlier comments so let her dictate the speed, shortening and slowing his stride as much as necessary. Gypsy trotted along behind them in a pretty prance.

On reflection, it was probably not contusive to going unnoticed in the streets with a Pegasus stalking your shadow.

"I don't consider it a lowering of myself, by the way," Eli said after a few long moments of silence. Usually he preferred silence but this one was full of emotion and that was worse. "It is a Guards duty to protect every citizen, from the highest to the lowest," his gaze flickered across to her briefly. "The job is to serve all."
 

Lyssia D'avore

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As if she did not know the creed of the Royal Guard, their duty, their history. All of those things were taught to her all her life, all the creeds of the various apparatus of government, the Bursars, the Court, the Courts, and the military which included the Royal Guard distantly. The Oath the Guards took upon dedicating themselves to their training and, ultimately, the Dynast, was little different than the one she would have spoken when she took over from Mother.

The memory only served to reinforce her status, though; highest and lowest, and she was definitely the lowest of the low. "You might not," she said in a fragile voice. "But they?" A casually flung hand at the people on the streets, many of whom were drawn to the Pegasi and the Royal Guard along with it, their eyes tracking and then finding her. Not every face lit with recognition, but enough did. Scowls, curses spit out with a vehemence reserved for murderers. People literally spitting on the ground she walked on, hard eyes following her.

She did not need to say much else. "Your job is what mine would have been."

There was nothing else to say, then, only the path to travel. She wished she had her shawl with her, but it was in the mud of a street she did not remember. She wished she had anonymity back, but that would never happen while being escorted by a man in the shining armor of the Guard, with his prominent mount prancing along behind them as if it were a parade and she was enjoying herself.

It was not terribly far to where her lodgings were, at least. She followed the route in her head, barely reacting to the world around her; her eyes remained turned inward, reflecting upon all of her faults an failings. She certainly could not afford to wallow in her own troubles, but she did it nonetheless. And therefore she didn't notice when the landlord's kind caugth sight of her and went hellbent back up the street to the tenement she had rented.

A few blocks, following the gentle curve of the street, and they were coming upon the place she called home. "I thank you for the escort," she said in clipped words, the darkness of her state of mind dripping from every one of them. "You can go and deal with more...," she began, and slowed to a stop. The owner of the building she was renting was on the front step, a pathetic bundle in hand. As they drew up to the steps leading up to the door, she tossed the sack onto the street, careless of the filth.

"Might as well go somewhere else," the woman said curtly. "Thought I recognized you, but wasn't sure. Well, someone was helpful and reminded me. Get lost," she said, and then spun and slammed the door. Lyssia saw the little boy looking out the window of one of the ground floor units, sticking his tongue out at her.

And she just stood there, staring at the ground in front of her.
 

Elijah

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As Lyssia spoke, Eli gave his first genuine smile. It was a small and fragile thing but it crinkled the line in the corners of his eyes that showed he had once laughed often and lots with someone. How ironic, he couldn't help but think, that he would end up speaking with a woman who had gone through life in the reverse of his own. Elijah's family had been extremely poor when he was young. One of many children he had gone out to work from the age of 12 and done anything and everything someone would hire him to do. He had been destined for the life this woman now lived; the bottom of the pile. Samantha had changed his life around for the better. One tiny, seemingly insignificant moment of kindness had pulled him - and his family - from the dirt.

He let the silence fall rather than say anything though. It probably wouldn't amuse her as it did him the parallels between them.

The Captain's keen eyes had seen the young boy scamper off but he hadn't known who he was or where he was going - plenty young lads were running around the city at this time of year after all. However, when they approached what he assumed were her lodgings, and he noticed his little face in the window, a sickening feeling began to fall over him.

"Perhaps-" he started, a hand moving to turn Lyssia around... but it was too late. Eli winced as the pitiful bundle was thrown out into the street. A street which usually would be full of noise but was now so quiet one could hear a pin drop.

What would you do, Samantha?

He wished his partner were here. She was the mind of their couple not him. Should he help? Should he pound on the door and tell the Housemistress she couldn't turn someone out without a reasonable excuse? Would Lyssia even want him to? He didn't think he would want to stay somewhere where he was not wanted. The danger might even be worse when the landlady obviously hated you. If he had been sweating before when the two women had sniped at one another, Eli was practically drenched now.

The seconds rolled into minutes and still they all stood there in their frozen little oil painting. Eventually he stepped forward and scooped up the bundle.

"A Lady shouldn't be staying here anyway," he said quietly, his eyes flickering to her face for a moment and then down to the heap in his arms. "This way, M'Lady," he placed one hand on the small of her back and quietly turned her around.

He hoped the plan would come to him as he walked.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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What did I do to deserve this?

There should have been something, something to say or to do, but instead all she could do is stand there in shocked silence. She could hardly believe her current situation, scarcely understand it. It was as if something in her head had broken, and now only an automaton without a soul stared out of her pale eyes. There were no tears, there was no loss, frustration, anger, or sorrow. Simply blank, expressionless eyes set in a face that was as dead as a fresh corpse.

What God or Goddess did I slight so, to toss me into the mud, to trample me and spit upon me and laugh all the while?

She felt the touch of his hand and did not immediately respond. When she finally did, it was with the wooden movements of a puppet, but one that was being badly played, as though the strings were of different lengths. She stumbled anytime an obstacle presented itself, very nearly ending in a heap on the ground a couple of times. it was possible she might have kept trying to walk, even lying on the street.

Why? Why? No light in her eyes. No soul in this shattered vessel, no will. W H Y ?

The Gods did not answer. The Goddesses remained silent on their thrones; Fate sat in her Web and said not a thing. Nothing at all, pure and devoid of meaning.

Only one foot in front of the other.
 

Elijah

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Eli found his eyes kept sliding over to the silent, shell shocked woman who stumbled along beside him. He could not even begin to understand or know what she was thinking in that moment. For a boy who had grown up in this environment it was the norm but for a woman such as her... it was probably as shocking as when he had been given his own cottage all to himself. He hadn't known what to do with all that room.

Which is when his idea suddenly began to nervously form. With more determined steps he led her further into the city, through the second gate and then finally the third. The noise and bustle of the city fell away as they stepped into the inner ring which was reserved for the army and royal family.

He veered off purposefully to the left.

"Just a little further," he coaxed her on. The sounds of steel on steel grew louder as they skirted the edge of the large training arena. Women mostly made up those on the grass going through a series of rigorous and deadly looking moves. Noone paid them any mind.

Past the training yard came the squat little houses reserved for the soldiers and their family. Eli had the largest one on the first row.

"Ah," he hesitated on the doorstep a moment, glancing at Gypsy before back to Lyssia then down to his bundle. For a moment he dithered then opened the door and passed her her things. "I'll be right back, just go and sit down I have to see to Gypsy here," he nodded to the pegasus who was impatiently pawing at the ground.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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A grey haze. The city was cast in a grey light, all the people they passed faceless ghosts that drifted through the streets, the sounds of a hundred thousand souls muffled to a dull buzz. The gentle touch of the Captain, guiding her left or right like a horse being led by the lightest touch of heels to flank, was the only thing that seemed to be able to pierce that inner world.

Elijah would have disappointed had he a front row seat to what lay behind her eyes. It was emptiness, a bleakness that was soul crushing, a blackness as dark as the Abyss itself. Memories, all painful, flitted about in that darkness. It was as unhealthy a spiral as it could be, a self-loathing spiral that could only end in one place if it was allowed to manifest itself in it purest form.

She passed along beside and slightly ahead of the Captain only because he seemed to be intent on staying behind her. She was a ghost, in truth, and easily dismissed by the women training in the yard - almost all of whom were a couple of feet taller than she was, with the commanding bearing of people with the weight of authority behind them. It would have stung her to the core, where she even aware of it. She was not; those eyes only looked inward, toward the darkness in her soul.

And then a bundle was pressed into her hands, and she blinked slowly, looking down at the pathetic thing. All her possessions, wrapped in a bundle that she could easily carry. It made something inside twist, and pain - although not physical - tore through her.

The young woman nodded slowly in response to Elijah's words. There was still no trace of the light of life in her eyes. She moved with the wooden stiffness she had displayed all the way here, and displayed little interest in her surroundings as she entered the little home.

Within, a large room opened before her. A cold fireplace dominated one of the outside walls, wood neatly stacked in its cradle beside it along with the fire things. The hearth had been swept of ashes. In front of it, a pair of cushions sat, where one could sit and enjoy the warmth of the flames of a winter evening. One bore thick dust on it, looking as though it had not been disturbed in years. A dusty hairbrush lay atop it as though casually flung there and forgotten.

Hints of the people who lived here were presented everywhere her disinterested eyes fell; some knick-knacks on the mantle of the fireplace, dusty as the one chair; a (dusty) woman's blouse thrown atop one of the little padded stools at the table on the far side of the room; the colorful rug laid out across the middle of the space, shoes and boots neatly arranged next to the door she had come in. Screens hid the door to the other rooms from view.

A vase atop the low table bore a flower that was practically mummified, the water long gone and replaced by cobwebs and dust.

There was something off here, but Lyssia could not put a finger on it, nor bring herself to care. She took a few steps inside, and then dropped her things on the floor and sat, cross legged atop the rug.

Why? She could feel the hot blood of her brother soaking her blouse, hear the dying, bubbling gasps he managed to say his final words with as he died in her arms. Why have I been abandoned? See the solemn look in her mother's eyes as the Guards led her away in the middle of the night, and resignation to the fate that had been laid out for her. Is there....any point to it? The smug look in Bursar Ki'ionte's eyes as she flayed Lyssia with words rather than blades.

is there any reason to try? A single tear rolled down her pallid cheek. For a moment, she sat there with her head bowed and a look of existential pain plastered across her shadowed features. And then power flared within her; she called to the Prim, the chaotic source of the magic the Sidhe used to fuel their sorcery. I should not...have returned here. But I cannot leave...except...

The light in her mind flared, flared more and more brightly. There was a way, of course. She could pull the light into her flesh, the sweet flow of the Prim. If....if there was a way to leave the world, then that was the way to do it. Bathed in her own lifeblood, the primal force of creation itself.

Brighter. The air in the room felt decidedly charged, overflowing with life. She was overflowing with life, and to a user of magic she would have glowed like the sun itself. In fact, it was unlikely that anyone with any talent at all could probably feel this. She felt as though she would burst, as though fire was climbing through her veins.

Brighter. Brighter. Pulling the light into her, drinking as deeply as she could...and more...
 
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Elijah

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Elijah had worked quickly in stripping Gypsy's tack off of her and giving her a rub down. Usually he would spend nearly an hour with the horse in pampering her until her coat glistened - it was one of her favourite things about their time together - but in this instance he barely even threw a comb through her mane. The horse snorted and pinned her ears back in a foul mood then turned her back entirely to him as he left and stuck her nose firmly into her food bowl. Eli would worry about the bucks he was likely to suffer later. He had left Lyssia alone when she was in no real fit state to be left alone. He couldn't quite imagine how she was feeling but he was quite certain the emotions were bad.

As he pushed open the door he felt the odd tang of magic in the air that made the whole place feel heavy with heat. Eli moved his suspicions of not being alright into the firm category of most definitely not alright. His eyes took in the scene before him quickly, thick bushy brows pulling down into his signature frown as he desperately wrestled with thoughts on how best to diffuse the situation. Whilst he might have had a magical artefact which he used in times of war he was not a magic user himself and was not too certain how this stuff... worked.

"Lyssia...."
he crouched down in front of her and very gently touched her shoulder. "Lady Lyssia?"
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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The glory of so much life, so much light coursing through her veins peaked, something very nearly sexual in the bliss that it brought. It swiftly began to shift to pain, though; fire spreading through her blood, through her limbs, stabbing like knives into her head.

Blank, unseeing eyes stared across the room, the singular tear joined by another of pain, but of what kind of pain was the real question. Inside, she continued to spiral down the well of darkness, pushing aside every goo thing that tried to force its way in.

Pulling at the Prim as though trying to take in every last drop of it, until she was nothing but a sea of chaotic magic. More, until she burst like an overfilled balloon, until the tattered shards of what she had been were flung to the four corners of the world. And likely, though Elijah was probably completely unaware of it, along with the house and everyone within a hundred meters. Or maybe not.

The physical pain was nearly unbearable - and still failed to overshadow the spiritual pain that knotted her soul into an unrecognizable mess - when she felt his touch on her shoulder. She could not hear his words through the roar in her ears, and for one moment - one precious, deadly moment - she hung on the precipice, balanced finely between absolute destruction and salvation.

The world held its collective breath...

What....am I doing? What am I doing? WHAT AM I DOING?

...and then the beacon of magical power, the utter fountain of thaumic might, winked out. The young woman swayed where she sat, feeling like she'd just had her legs kicked out from under her. And feeling all the pain rushing back to fill the void the light had left behind when she released it so suddenly.

And then she slumped forward, and wept into her hands as unashamedly as a child would have, heaving sobs racking her thin frame.
 
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Elijah

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"Fuck," Elijah swore under his breath as the girl slumped forward and begun to let out a river of tears she had no doubt been penning on for hours if not longer. His eyes darted around the room looking for inspiration on what he should do in this situation as though Samantha would appear and shove him out of the way to deal with it herself. If she were here she would relegate him to fixing a hot drink. Tea? Would that solve it? Oh Gods. He awkwardly patted the girl on the head like he would a small dog.

"Look... honestly it'll... it'll be okay," he said gruffly. "She has a bit of a reputation for being a bitch, that landlady. Once when I was young she caught me trying to sneak a cookie off the tray and she took a belt to my backside for a good ten minutes."

His tongue was getting away from him. Awkwardly he rammed a rather oily handkerchief into her hands.

"You can stay here until you get your feet under you again."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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She could hear him, now. But he did not understand, did not understand at all. None of this unholy mess could be rationalized, not in her mind. How had she gone from...well, not the top of the world, but close to it - to this? Weeping like a broken thing on the floor of some guardsman not moments after trying to snuff out the flame of her own life?

"You do not understand," she said thickly between sobs. There was a harshness to her words, an edge that was clearly meant to draw blood. "How...how could you..." She scrubbed at her face, smearing the tears and adding more redness to her eyes. "You...compare losing absolutely everything to being paddled for stealing?"

Even anger could not dispel the tears, though. She still cried though she looked ready to chew iron and spit nails. "I nearly killed..." She stopped abruptly, and swallowed hard. All the color drained from her face all in one go, and she wavered like she was going to feint. Anger was replaced by horror. She had literally just about committed suicide, rigth here in his living room. And he had no idea that by happenstance he had stopped her.

"You have...you have no idea," she stammered, trying to rekindle anger; anger was something familiar, a haven she could wrap around herself like armor. Here, sprawled on a strangers floor, she felt more naked than had she been unclothed. She did not like that some stranger - some commoner - was looking upon her exposed soul, raw and unprotected. She did not like feeling weak and vulnerable, did not like feeling useless.

But she could not put the barriers back up. They had crumbled under the repetitive assault of life, and that bastion of defense lay in rubble all around her.

"You have no idea," she repeated, sounding utterly defeated. "None at all, not about anything that matters," she whispered.
 
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Elijah

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"No, I do not," Elijah said simply for he was a blunt man and told the truth in matters such as this. His eyes ran over her face quietly, studying every little line, the tenseness in her jaw and the way tears pooled in the depths of her eyes yet did not spill over. Stubborn. Angry. Scared. The emotions were written so clear on her face he might as well have read them from a book no matter how hard it was she tried to hide them. He took a breath and then quietly took her hand which held the handkerchief and guided it to her face to dab away the last trails of tears.

"But I have lost. I have grieved. And the pain I felt then I see in the contours of your face in this moment Lady Lyssia. It is a dark path you are on and I cannot promise the tiny flicker of the light at the end will ever get closer, but the way towards it will feel less like you are walking through sinking sand," he didn't meet her eyes as he spoke. He was watching what he did and ensuring great care to catch ever tear drop.

Once every tear was mopped he released her hand and stood, quietly making his way over to the fireplace which he began to build and set about fetching water for the kettle.
 

Lyssia D'avore

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"...am not a Lady anymore..." she managed between hiccoughs. She did not try to meet his eyes; she could only look at the floor, at the spreading stain of salt-heavy tears. She did not want him to look into those pale orbs of her and see that they were truly devoid of life.

I...tried to burn myself to ashes!

Devoid of life, as her life was devoid of any meaning.

The tears burned their way out, as they always did. It did not leave her feeling any less hollow, though, and so she remained where she had sat down, head bowed and shoulders slumped for all the world looking like a beaten dog. It was, more or less, accurate.

She found her mind completely blank. All of the plans she'd thought to enact, all the ways to get back to her proper place in the world...they were all shattered. She had no idea what to do now, or where to go. Where to even begin. She was still not certain that she should have released that blinding light, relinquished release in the form of the endless sleep. She could have gone to be with her family, and left all of this behind.

I almost killed myself. She could not get past the horror of that realization. The cowards way out, the path of the weak. But am I not weak? Useless? Helpless?

She did not know. And so she sat in silence while the man who had led her here went through the motions of fixing tea while she waited for something to strike her like a bolt out of the blue. Something. Anything, anything at all. Anything that could drag her from the well of despair she found herself in now.
 
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Elijah

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Is this for her, or for me? Elijah thought quietly as he built up the fire quietly and blew into the dying embers that he had left along the bottom. Soon, with careful coaxing, they crackled back to life. It was a satisfying job and one with a clear and rewarding outcome. Something to take his mind off of the situation he had got himself into that was for certain.

You're a fool, Elijah. This is probably the last place she wants to be right now. For a moment he hesitated over what leaves best to put into the kettle, his thumbs running over the carved dark wooden box that had once belonged to her. A gift. It had been one of the first things he had ever made for her and it was imperfect in so many ways yet she had loved it.

He banished the memories of a ghost and settled on camomile. The smell began to fill the room as it bubbled away. In the meantime he went about setting out a little tray of food. It was not much; cheese and bread with a few sweet meats. He tended to eat mainly in the hall rather than his home so didn't have much in his larder.

"Here, eat," he gruffly shoved the tray towards her on the table and went to collect the tea.
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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She looked up, finally. Her youthful face looked a frightful mess. In better days, she would have been absolutely ashamed to be seen by polite company in such a state. But this was neither polite company nor better days.

Getting up to go to the low table felt like picking up a body made of lead. The haggardness she exhibited was not all from emotional stress, although that certain made it worse; doing what she had done, going right up to the cusp of oblivion, was tantamount to running all day and all night without cease. She moved with a stiffness born of physical pain brought on by pushing herself right to the brink.

She looked at the food, but did not take any of it. "Thank you," she said hoarsely. "I do not...need to eat, though." She had a working digestive system, of course...but it was uneccessary for her survival.

She felt terribly small, sitting there at the low table. Even had she needed to eat, she couldn't have right now. She had no appetite, no desire to do anything other than sit and stare at the wooden table. "Why are you doing this?" She asked suddenly in a small voice. "You cannot possibly care about what happens to one such as I." She let out a heavy sigh. "You should have...should have just left me to those thugs," she finished.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah sat down across the table from her, careful not to disturb the cushion gathering dust but rather selecting the cushion that looked more worn and less comfy. He dominated that side of the table with his large broad shoulders, thick set arms and legs which didn't neatly fold under the lip of the table like they should. It was a rather ridiculous image in truth that might have made a person laugh but this was the fashion in Dornoch, their city designed for women and not men.

Carefully he poured the tea with surprisingly delicate fingers.

"Food is not always about ensuring you are not hungry, sometimes it is about comfort too," he picked up a few bits of food and piled them into a sort of sandwich. It gave him a moment to bypass her question because the truth was, Elijah didn't really know why he was helping her.

"I told you," he said gruffly, though he seemed more annoyed at his lack of an answer than her question. "It is my duty to serve all of Dornoch's citizens."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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She shook her head. She did not buy his answer, because it was a ridiculous one. "So...you would take any into your own home out of nothing but the kindness of your heart?" Her tone said she did not believe it, not of any other person and certainly not herself.

She felt tears still hiding in her eyes, but for now the dam held. She still felt as fragile as the thinnest of glass, held together by next to nothing. "Why should you be any different than the rest? The others, they would turn a blind eye to the traitor, whatever the courts say about me." Not involved by any of the evidence that has been gathered. Unable to prove that you are a part of the dealings your parents were involved in. She was convinced that being absolved of any guilt in the manner she had was merely another political device, done solely to ensure she could never claw her way back.

No one was on her side. She was entirely alone, now that Alric was dead. It was a terrible feeling, and it was one that Elijah could not comprehend, no matter his loss. There was no one in all the world she could call a friend, no safe haven to go to, no shoulder to cry on. Alone, utterly alone.

The tears threatened again, but she savagely clamped down on it before the dam could burst again. "I should just...leave," she said. "Before anyone sees me here and you lose face for it," she added tiredly.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah watched her quietly as he ate. His eyes didn't betray his emotions but remained calm pools of glacial blue. He wasn't her keeper, wasn't her brother or father, wasn't the warden in this imagined prison. If she wanted to leave she was welcome too and he made that clear by the simple shrug of his large shoulders then returning his attention to his own food.

As for her first question that sounded more like a sneering attack...

"It may be hard for you to understand, but I grew up in the slums you now find yourself in. You might have seen the nasty side but for those who grow up in it, who are a part of that community... There is a way we operate. Of helping one another - offering a meal or shelter even if it means going with less ourselves. It is hard to shake that kind of attitude when you grow up even if you move up the ranks. My duty to protect, to serve, it only adds to that. If you choose to leave what is given freely then that is your own decision."

He sipped his tea.

"Drink, before it gets cold."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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It was an alien view of the world, to be sure. Lyssia picked up the cup of tea, steam swirling off the surface, and drank of it. She blinked, the taste - although clearly from an inferior stock - took her back to a different place. Not too far back, though; to a study, with her Mother.

She could almost see the tall windows letting in light from the dying sun, bathing a room in thick golden light, rich colors enhanced by that afternoon glow. She ruthlessly pushed that image away, though, and tried to focus on the tea itself and not the memories it evoked.

"Thank you," she said quietly, though to what was a mystery to all but her.

She let silence draw on for a moment, savoring the tea. She preferred cream and sugar, but of course she had not had even tea for a long while, and so bitter would serve.

"Your...world, it is different from mine," she said finally. She still sounded like a fragile creature on the edge of breaking down, but some of the steel that was buried - deeply, as it turned out - was there in her voice. "'On the heights, all paths are paved with daggers'," she quoted softly. "There is no mercy for your fellow Bursars, except among those who are friends. Politics, and by extension the noble life...it is not like your common lives."

She looked at the table, misty eyes distant. "The weight of duty sat heavily on Mother, sometimes. Duty to those subjects of the Dynast she had been entrusted to care for. To the Family and to her self..." Pain laced through that steel, and for a moment she thought she might crack again. She allowed herself a moment. "Too many think that we of breeding have no care, and no worries." Obviously not true, for she had fallen and not even by any of her own doing. "I still...cannot come to terms..."

She trailed off.
 
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Elijah

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Saviour, is she going to cry again?

Elijah tried, not for the first time in his life, to project his own calmness into the room in the hopes the stoic cold mountain of muscle in front of her might somehow give her some sort of strength. He had had mixed results with this methodology. Sometimes it had worked, others it had only made things worse. He hoped in this case it was the former. He was patient as she spoke through her own thoughts as he sipped upon his own bitter tea. What she spoke of in terms of high society was interesting though, and actually fit in with what he had observed.

The pregnant pause stretched into an awkward silence. Was she expecting him to say something? He wished he had the wit of Samantha or the ability to think on his feet in emotional circumstances such as these. He just... wasn't programmed that way. That's what she had always said with a little laugh and a brush of her fingers over his stubbled jaw. Somehow it had made his failings seem acceptable. Now it just made him feel hollow.

The tea suddenly tasted far more bitter.

"I guess that is always the way of social classes - no matter where I have been I see it. The Poor do not trust the rich for all they see is wealth whilst they sleep in gutters. The rich do not understand what it is the poor truly need. They never talk to discuss such matters and so the circle goes on."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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The tears he feared did not come. She had cried herself out, for now at least. The fragility of her soul was still rather apparent, though, and well it should be given the circumstances. She felt empty, devoid of anything that could be considered life or vitality. The tea, sipped but once, grew cold on the table, seemingly forgotten.

She stared at the cup. "It is not possible to lift the poor out of their situation," she said as though reciting a verified fact. The voice was as lifeless as her features were, filled with a despair that could scarcely be quantified. "It is a thing that must come from within, from the individual."

She did not really believe it though. She had seen people struggling, had seen the paths they took to try and claw their way back. Was, in fact, living out that nightmare herself and, like they, was finding the way forward being barred at every turn. Unlike the teeming masses, though, she had an enemy on high that was impeding her progress, and using the citizenry against her in the process.

She slumped forward, her head in her hands so that the fiery red hair flowed over her face. She was crying, and yet she made no sound and no tears flowed. The hopelessness of the situation seemed to reduce her to nothing, dust cast to the winds. "Why?" She whispered, wallowing in her own misery. "Why can I not just...accept this?"
 
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Elijah

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Elijah listened as he always did, and as always when the topic veered towards the political, he kept his lips firmly pressed together. Some of his fellows had often joked it was because he was too dim to actually have an opinion of his own but in truth it was because politics was an entirely different idea and beast to the poor. There was no such thing as a vote - nobody had the luxury of choosing which of the Great Families they were born under the subjection of. Politics for the poor was always a pot of water on the point of boiling over. The constant pressure of revolution and ideas that the world could be different.

No, if Elijah so much as suggested what politics was like for the poor the Slums would be torched within the hour whether Lyssia was considered a traitor or not. So instead he sipped his tea and listened as the words turned the bitter tea to ash on his tongue.

He was just wondering why on earth he had thought his home was the best place to bring a displaced noble when she began to cry again. His face twisted from the smooth blank expression into a grimace. Eli patted himself down in his search for his handkerchief when he remembered he had already offered her his one and only sorry excuse. Awkwardly instead he reached across the table and lay a hand on her shoulder giving it a tight squeeze.

"Because when we believe we have been wronged it is hard to take that lying down.."
 
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Lyssia D'avore

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"Life is what you make of it."

Sun filtered through the grand window of the upper study. Motes of dust danced in the beam, under which the girl was settled under with one thick tome set on the table before her. The warmth of the light was welcome, even if it was weak; winter in Dornoch was not particularly frigid when compared to other places round Arethil, but it was still cold as far as the natives were concerned.

The freckled youth looked up from the wall of text, the faintest trace of irritation on her otherwise bored features.

Mother was seated at the desk directly in front of the window with her back to the glass. She had a ledger out, a quill in hand and an ink bottle set on the desk before her. She wore a well-tailored dress with the high neck just under her chin. It did not bear frills or lace, this one. Just a simple dress, if expensive and well made, for working round the home. Her hair was done up in a thick braid down her back, lusterous red like the girls' own. Those eyes, though, were different. Sharp, keenly intelligent sapphire regarded her only daughter.

"I see you, sitting there and hating every moment of it," she said primly. She set the pen down carefully, and settled back in her chair. "You are young yet, and I understand that you wish to do other things this moment. Well, you can not."

The same old lecture, delivered for the hundreth time. Lyssia was seventeen, and she well knew what her mother would say next. "I am not as free as those with less privilege than I have," the girl piped up, mocking the formal tone her mother would have used in the situation. Though seventeen, she looked scarcely older than six years old and could easily have been mistaken as such by humans. "I am a slave to the duty of office and the privilege is scarce recompense for the weight of responsibility," she finished smugly.

"And yet you still refuse to accept your place in all of this," the elder D'avore replied. There was a fondness there, in those words, but it was buried beneath sternness that brooked no nonsense. "Life will not always be so kind, so clean. Do not let your birth station poison your expectations of it," she added.

The conversation had come up again, as it always did. It was not fair that she had to sit here and read ancient texts, old pieces of legal documents dating back to the founding of the Dynasty and beyond. It wasn't fair that Alric could go on his adventures, roaming the estate as though it were his castle, like he was some sort of King and yet she was here, slaving away day after day. 'You must learn all of the ways and means of governance,' her mother had told her numerous times. 'Some day, you will pick up the heavy burden I have carried for nearly a hundred years, and it will be my time to step back and let you lead the House and its affairs.,' she had said at the start of this conversation.

"I do not see why I have to be here, now, mother," she said a touch sulkily. "Alric told me he found a secret passage in the wine cellar," she began, and was cut off with a huff from her mother.

"He can do these things; you cannot. Child, you are years away from your majority but there is so much to learn. Not least of all, the proper attitude. I know how you have been treating the other children." That did not sound friendly at all. There was a touch of scolding in her mother's voice there. a hint of exasperation.

"I do not know what you mean," she said innocently. Her mother scowled at her.

"You do. I will not have you lie to me, girl. You have no choice but to obey; if I must, I will break you like a willful stallion. Count on it." The elder rose from her chair, stretching lightly. Everything in this room was sized for her family and their kindred, and so the windows looked enormous in comparison to the desk, the chairs, and the matriarch of the House. Kerri Rose D'avore stood with her back to her only daughter, looking out on the old city of Dornoch.

"You should not treat them so, servants or not," she said, finally. She looked back to Lyssia over one shoulder. "Just because they are servants does not make them less than you."

"And how is that not so, Mother?" The girl looked at the book before her intently, as though she were reading it when she clearly was not. "How am I not more simply by birth? By training? Education? Breeding?" She snorted derisively at the thought of treating the staff as her own equals. "They work for us, and there is no need to be friends with people who take our coin in exchange for service."

Kerri shook her head. "You are wrong, so wrong. When will you learn?" Her mother turned to face her, outlined by blazing daylight. "Some day, child, you will find that the world is neither fair nor kind. Some day, you will need to lean on those whom you deem less than yourself. If you live long enough; if the Court does not find a way to be rid of you first, or any of a dozen different ways."

"There will come a day....when the roles will be reversed. What will breeding do for you, then?"


"And yet....there is no choice to be had in it," Lyssia said, in the here and the now. "Some things must be borne with as much dignity as can be mustered." She looked up at Eli, her eyes red but dry, underscored by dark circles. There was a great deal of pain there, painted across her smooth, pale features.

"I am trying, Captain," she added after a moment. The tremor in her voice was gone, banished by an ancient memory. The ghost of her Mother seemed to share this room with them, and she could feel that piercing, judgmental gaze. I told you so, she could hear her whispering beyond the grave. And so it was.

She took a moment to try and gather all the shattered pieces of herself, all the bits of her soul that had been tossed on the floor and trodden on - as much by her own hand as by that of the world and of others. There was an emptiness inside, but it was slowly - oh, so slowly - filling with something beyond sorrow and self pity. Anger. Such terrible anger that it terrified her. The flames had not grown enough to consume or even dispel the current cloud of self-loathing, but the tide was receding all the same.

"What....should I do?" An honest question, spoken so softly it would be hard to hear it over the sound of training beyond the walls.
 
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Elijah

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Elijah gave the girl a long look then retracted his hand and folded it back into his lap. Despite his best efforts he found himself barrelling down the path of having to help this girl with more than just the physical side of things - providing a place to stay, food, drink - these things were the key to physical survival. Eli could handle that. It was like a checklist in his mind on how to keep another living thing alive and functioning. When it came to the other side, emotions and a persons thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears... Well Elijah hadn't dealt with his own demons. How was he supposed to help another person with theirs? His eyes drifted to the little silver hairbrush which sat on one of the shelves as his mind wondered.

Her question kept bringing him back to his fathers words soon after Samantha's death. Eli had shut himself off completely from the world in his grief; he struggled to eat, to get up in the morning and to not just fall into a bottle the moment he did. After a week of his reckless behaviour and wild abandon for his own life his father had sought him out in an attempt to bully some life back into his son.

"I don't know what my path is now, father. She was my path and its gone."

His father shared his sons hulking frame and despite the greying at his temples had kept the bulk of muscle from his work on the docks. He put down the silver brush and turned to his son.

"You don't need to see the whole path-"


"You just need to take the next step," Elijah repeated out loud as the memory faded. "That step is simple; eat, drink, recover from today. That's the only step you need to focus on today." He offered a rare smile. "My name is Elijah, you have no need to address me as Captain, Lady Lyssia."
 
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