Fable - Ask Those Rising

A roleplay which may be open to join but you must ask the creator first

Val Pirian

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Everything was going swimmingly thus far, though he hadn't considered the implications of using his magic freely in front of his old friends. The trio was outpacing their pursuers, Val was doing a great job of being a meat shield, and--

"FUCK! Ridge!"

Whoops. End over end, Val tumbled down right after his companions, reflexes too slow to see they had gone over the edge. Unable to focus on anything but the pain of the fall, the mushrooms dislodged themselves from his flesh, arrows and all.

If the gods were willing to spare one small kindness this day, it was that Val happened to land on a pile of dead leaves instead of one of the rocks cropping out from the river's shoreline.
"Oof!"
Val sprung to his feet with a jolt, brushing himself off and examining his clothing as though he'd just taken an embarrassing spill off of his horse.
"Val!? Are you hurt?"

"Hmm? Oh, a few scrapes here, a cut and a bruise there, but otherwise right as rain," He began in an unsuitably jovial tone. "Are you alright? Wait--"

He interrupted himself, a moment of panic setting in.
"Where's Elise?"
 

Elise Virak

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"Here." Elise grunted as she pulled herself out from a small boulder. She had managed to catch herself just short of the massive rock. If she hadn't she likely would have bashed her skull right against it, something even her magic could not have healed.

Lips thinned for a moment, and she cast her eyes back up the ravine that they had just tumbled down.

None of the archers were there yet, though she could hear the distant yell of the men who were still chasing after them. A muted curse escaped her lips, and she motioned for her two friends to move on further closer to the river. "We have to cross."

She hissed.

"We can lose them in the forest, double back towards the road later." Elise didn't even realize that she was taking charge.

It came to her almost naturally, though in this situation it might have been foolish. Aisling was the military mind, she was the one who had training. Elise couldn't help herself though, a folly of her upbringing and place in society.
 

Aisling

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Aisling blinked rapidly at Val’s uninjured body. She could’ve sworn she heard arrows hit something on the run towards the ridge. Perhaps the stress was playing tricks on her head. All that mattered right now, at that very moment, was that no one was seriously hurt.

After Elise called out and rose to her feet the Corsair of House Weiroon spoke up with a simple, ”I’m fine,” before limping towards the other blonde woman.

The songs of birds had been replaced by shouts that seemed to spill over the top of the incline. That and the steady lapping of waves from the nearby river were all her ears could focus on. They’d have to keep going, they didn’t have time to dally.

Upon the issuance of Elise’s orders Aisling spun her head to stare at her childhood friend. Something was different about her. It was obvious she hadn’t just led a few small skirmishes, no, she was taking to a leadership role as if it were second nature.

Elise had always been... demanding. But this was different. She caught herself staring a bit too long before turning her gaze elsewhere.

”No arguing from me,” she said through gritted teeth as she made her way to the edge of the water. ”The current seems calm enough. I can’t tell how deep though. You both can swim right?” Her narrow lips formed a crooked shape of concern. With her hip throbbing from the fall she wasn’t certain how helpful she’d be if one of them began to drown.
 
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Val Pirian

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Relief washed over him as Elise announced her presence. Good...they were all alive and well, for the moment. Any respite they might've experienced would be brief, however. The encroaching assailants were hot on the trail, if the shouting from above was anything to go off of.

Elise took naturally to leading, it seemed. Perhaps not odd, given what he had heard about her being heir apparent to the Virak lordship. Val's on willingness and ability to be commanding had always been somewhat lacking, so he was happy to yield the job of director to either of his friends.

Aisling, meanwhile...well, by her limp and the expressions she was making, it was clear she was trying to seem strong. To Val, however, it was obvious that she was injured.
"You don't seem 'fine.' I can swim alright, but once we've crossed we should find a place to hide and rest." Val suggested, concern clearly marking his voice.

"Over exertion is just as likely to kill us as these lovely gents if we keep letting our injuries build up like this." He finished. He followed Aisling down to the water's edge and removed what was left of his tattered top. Not much point in keeping it on now, shredded as it was; in fact, it was more likely to hinder his swimming than anything. The Pirian man may have been a layabout, but he valued his looks, and that meant staying athletic.
 

Elise Virak

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Elise opened her mouth for a second, but then snapped her lips shut and simply nodded at what Val said. "You're right."

Some part of her still wanted to double back and simply eradicate those that had attacked them. A snap of her fingers would have seen them impaled with their own blood, but such methods were not exactly...wise in that moment.

She knew that, so she bit her tongue.

When Val moved towards the edge of the water and tore off his shirt Elise perked an eyebrow. She shot a glance towards Aisling, her look might as well screaming Is he trying to show off right now?

It was hardly the time.

With a brief flicker of a smile Elise wandered towards the water herself. She did not strip off any of her clothes, but since waded into the river and began to swim across. Her eyes snapped back to her friends every few seconds, ensuring that they both made it across.

The icy waters bit into her flesh as she swam, shivers flowing over her body as she breathed deep in order to fight the cold.
 

Aisling

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"I said I'm fine," she repeated with added enthusiasm this time. Yes, her side hurt. Yes, it might impair her movement a bit. But she had suffered greater wounds and carried on before. Val's concern was appreciated but who the hell did he think he was?

To make matters even worse he removed his top. Aisling's jaw fell and her cheeks went rosy as she looked towards Elise who held a similar expression on her face. She silently mouthed towards Elise, can you believe this guy?

Aisling dipped a toe into the frigid river, shaking at the thought of the cold, before finally relenting with a simple, "we can hide once we get across." Perhaps Val and Elise needed the rest. No sense in arguing with them. She took a deep breath and then plunged into the water, clothes still very much on.

Goosebumps formed on her exposed arms, the sensation in her fingers dulled, but the chilly water helped numb the pain she had felt in her hip at least.

It was probably a good thing they were planning on resting once they got to the other side of the riverbed. They'd all be drenched, they'd all be shivering. If they could find a decent hiding spot they could allow themselves to warm up and maybe their predators would abandon this hunt given enough time. They just had to reach the other side first.
 

Val Pirian

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Val was blissfully unaware of the reaction he'd evoked from Aisling and Elise as he began to wade into the icy waters. He had thought nothing of it, and any chance of considering the impact act of stripping the shredded cloth from his body was erased the moment the freezing temperatures touched his skin. He grit his teeth, hard. This sensation was the most painful thing he'd encountered yet on this little excursion, and that included being blasted aside by an explosion.

Stopping now meant death was almost assured, however, so Val put on a pained grin and frog-swam his way across as fast as he could. The one nice thing about the river is that it was loud. Any sound of the three forging their way across, or Val's uncomfortable grunting borne of his hatred of cold water. He wanted to make a snide remark on their current situation, but all his focus was being occupied by keeping himself afloat, and he doubted he'd be able to be heard over the rushing water about them anyways.

Just when Val thought his muscles were going to completely seize and he'd be swept away with the flow, perhaps to gently drift into the calm sleep of death, he felt his boot graze the river's bed. Desperation and relief mixed together in an emotional cocktail as Val wrenched himself from the water and threw himself onto the shore, gasping and shaking from the cold.
 

Elise Virak

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Elise dragged herself out on the other side of the River shivering like she'd spent the last day in the middle of an ice storm.

Her entire body was covered in goosebumps, her form was ice. Even her lips were starting to turn blue. Fingers curled within the dirt, her eyes closed. A breath filled her lungs, and she struggled to even call upon the magic of the Well.

There was a second, and then slowly she felt heat build within her core.

She opened her eyes for a brief second, black flecks floating across bright gold as she concentrated. Her blood flowed quicker, her body gathered heat, and slowly she took in a deep shivering breath as she spoke. "W-we n-need..."

Elise found it hard to speak.

"Shelter. Fire." A hiss escaped her lips as she half turned back, catching the sight of those strange soldiers descending the ridge. Her head shook, and she motioned forward, crawling to her feet slowly. "Into the forest, quickly."

Her words were more composed as she walked over to Val, grasping his arm and dragging him upwards as she motioned to Aisling.
 

Aisling

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Removing all emotion, removing stray thoughts. A singular focus on one’s objective was the only way to force your body through these kinds of obstacles. That’s what she kept telling herself as ice water splashed against her face. As legs kicked hoping to find land.

Once her heels pressed against something firm she allowed a sigh of relief to emerge through chattering teeth.

Aisling had never been so cold. Frigid through her bones as water flowed from the edges of her dress like rain clouds. Pooling around her bare feet.

Her lips had gone blue. She could barely process what was happening as Elise grabbed hold of Val and beckoned for her to follow.

”Fi,” she started through a quivering chin, ”fi-fire.”

She stepped in line with the other two, hoping to get enough distance between them and their pursuers. Trying to will herself back into that mindset of singular focus. Of that one goal above all else. Distance. Shelter. Fire.

How they’d accomplish any of that she did not know. After they passed several dozen trees the blonde woman collapsed against a giant elm. Her hair still soaked, her clothes a wet ragged mess. ”Are we, are, far enough?” Her words were broken up by a huffing of air.

Were she in a better state of mind she’d be extremely embarrassed. It was unfitting for Anirian nobles to show weakness. Doubly so when they had served in the Guard. But at that second she found it hard to care. To reason. After a few seconds of rest she collected herself. Her breathing returned to normal, her lips a little less blue.

”I can keep going,” she said forcefully while jolting up to attention. She wasn’t about to allow herself to drag them down or be the reason they were caught. As her faculties returned she suggested the first idea that came to mind, one from her basic training, ”if we can dig a hole in the direction of the wind, build the fire there… it should help conceal our location.”
 
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Val Pirian

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Elise's drive, her ability to recover so quickly from the trio's dip in the river, and her presence of mind in the moments following were all...markedly impressive. Were he not preoccupied with shivering and maintaining consciousness, he'd have complemented her. Instead, he allowed himself to be yanked to his feet by her and shakily nodded in agreement.
"R-right. On-n-n-n--onward, then." He stammered out through chattering teeth.

Both women were right. They needed a fire, and quickly. He desperately wanted to just hit a tree with a jolt of electricity and jumpstart said fire, but reminded himself that reckless use of his magic would likely get him into trouble. Not to mention the tremendous amount of focus it took him to invoke the magic of others; he doubted he'd be able to do so in his current state. Those were tricks best saved for later, he decided.

Val trudged on after Elise and Aisling, arms wrapped to his side and internally celebrating each time a drop of water rolled off his skin. He stopped paying attention to how far they had walked, only paying mind to continuous movement and doing whatever small things he could to warm himself. Hypothermia was a very real threat, perhaps more so than the men that pursued them.

”if we can dig a hole in the direction of the wind, build the fire there… it should help conceal our location.”
The Weiroon corsair made a fine point. Val stood, shivering and clutching himself still, and looked back at her. Tired but determined. He admired her strength of will. He imagined he'd have already given up by now if she and Elise weren't urging him onwards. Nevertheless, a good place to dig in was necessary.

"L-location, loc-cation, lo..." Val started through fervent trembling, swiveling his head and gazing about. He trailed off when he saw it. Sanctuary. Respite. Salvation. He pointed at what he saw, and quietly finished his thought.

"...cave."
 
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Elise Virak

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Elise looked to where Val pointed, glanced towards Aisling.

Both of her friends were in rough shape, far more so than she. Elise had no idea if Val could use that odd Mushroom magic to heal himself more, but right now she wasn't going to bring it up and question him. A frown touched her face, and she nodded.

"Go." She motioned with her hand as she looked around the forest floor and began to gather some of the sticks on the ground.

Fire was about the only way they would survive at this point.

With trembling fingers Elise gathered enough kindling and small bits of firewood that they would be able to build a small flame. By the time she reached the entrance of the cave her ancestral magic had worked it's way through her core.

Her soaked clothes and the cool air still weighed her down, but she wasn't in as much danger as the other two.

As she stepped into the entrance of the cave she dumped the gathered sticks, her voice still shaky. "T-this is humiliating."

The noble complained.
 

Aisling

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It was surprising how much using her magic had taken a toll on her. Using the ability on not just herself but two others and the massive swings of luck that were needed for the group to have avoided the arrow fire, not broken a single bone during the fall, and then that none of them had really struggled during the icy voyage across the river. Those events alone - without magic - would’ve been enough to tire anyone out, as was evident by Val’s demeanor.

But the real eyebrow raiser was Elise. As the other two made their way into the jagged edges of the cave she was out there grabbing kindling.

When the lady of House Virak entered the cave she looked far more rested than either of them. Perhaps her old friend simply had more stamina than she remembered. It was unusual either way.

”Y...yes,” she agreed. This was humiliating. Three children of some of the most powerful houses in Vel Anir, if not all of Arethil, reduced to hiding like rats from a group of deserters. Or revolutionaries. What could they even be upset at the noble houses for?

Her hands shook as she took one of the dry twigs that Elise had returned with. She placed both of her hands flat, the stick as straight as it could be considering the shaking, and she rubbed her hands back-and-forth against some of the rest of the wood. Hoping to create enough friction to at least get a small ember started.

Nodding her head she tried to stay optimistic, ”it is humiliating. But we’re alive, that’s something,” she said with a cheeriness to her voice and a knowing chuckle. ”Do you remember the time our fathers insisted we all compete in the Junior Anirian Derby? I was… still am... a terrible horseback rider. I was furious with daddy. Trained for weeks so as not to embarrass myself.” The twig spun faster, a bit of smoke rising but then quickly extinguished by a drop of water falling off the tip of Aisling’s nose.

A sigh escaped, she pressed on with her story, ”you two remember what happened, right? We were all out of the gate as soon as the bell rang. Great start all around. I even looked like I might be a competitor.” Aisling smiled and her voice cracked as she continued, ”and then I slid off my horse’s saddle. Not sure if either of you noticed, though I’m sure you both heard the stories later. Trust me, that was humiliating. Much worse than a few disgruntled former soldiers forcing us to seek less-than-desired lodging for the night.”

Aisling allowed the stick she had been using to fall onto the dirt floor of the cave. It was important that they stayed positive. But right now she would’ve just settled for being able to start a simple fire.
 

Val Pirian

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"But we’re alive, that’s something,”

Ah, yes, the absolute bar minimum for a situation being anywhere near okay. "At least we didn't die." Val chuckled in a breathy, pathetic way as he sat in the cave, knees tucked to his chest. He watched as Elise gathered the tinder and felt powerless to aid her; his seizing muscles wouldn't let him move more than a few inches, and getting up and out of the cave meant losing precious body heat. Then he watched as Aisling tried and failed to get the fire lit. That, at least, was something he felt he could remedy. Doing so was better than suggesting they share body heat, the tactful part of his brain told him.

He scooted over to where the women had made the little fire pit, took the stick up, and began rhythmically twisting it just as his friend had done. Part of his mind began to recall the way his father so expertly wielded the forces of thunder and lightning and wind and rain as he spun the twig, and he almost pitied the miniscule, pathetic imitation he was about to preform. Another part of his mind, however, focused on the story Aisling recalled. Val smiled...those were simpler times.

"You think that was humiliating? The judges blamed your spill on the stable hands not saddling your horse properly." Val regaled his friends, eyes down on the pile of kindling as he spoke. "I, on the other hand, was favored to win that derby, you may recall. Elise, however, had other plans. She positively left me in her dust. I was a laughing stock among the noble girls, the little lord who lost to a girl."

He laughed, feeling somewhat reinvigorated, and tried as best he could to conceal the minor spell he was in the process of casting. Static began to cling to his fingers, the familiar and uncomfortable sensation dancing across his skin.
"Not that I had a problem with losing to you, Elise. You've always been driven, successful at anything you put your mind to. I wasn't surprised that I lost, but the embarrassment still stung."

At last, a tiny charge of electricity shot down the twig and into the pile of wood, igniting it properly. Val did his best to seem surprised at the development, raising his brows and looking to his friends for approval.
"Ah, well, minor victories, eh?" He quipped, holding his hands over the pit to keep it safe from wind and water.
 

Elise Virak

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"Well done." Elise complimented Val as she scooted a bit closer to the fire and took in a deep breath. The heat was meager, slight, but not near enough for all the warmth that they would require. With a gentle hand she grabbed Aisling and tugged her closer to the small flame that had bloomed.

As soon as the embers grew just a bit she added a few more twigs to the growing fire, and within just a minute or two they had an actual flame to warm them.

The story that her two friends spoke of brought a smile to her face, though the memory was tainted for her somewhat. She could remember her father forcing her to train for that derby, the grueling days spent riding in the rain and through the mud. He had even bought her an Obanian Dun, supposedly the fastest horses in Liadain.

It had been meant to be a competition of fun, yet her father had nearly made her kill herself to win.

Shame flickered across her features for a moment, but she simply smiled at Val. "Perhaps it'll be time for a rematch when we get back."

Her hands rubbed gently together.

"I don't so much riding these days." A chuckle slipped passed her lips. "Most of the time they only let me in carriages."

Something about protecting the Heir or House Virak. Complete nonsense or course, given their rather drab situation at the moment.
 

Aisling

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”Thanks Val,” she said with genuine appreciation. It had been embarrassing that she couldn’t light the fire, of course, but she welcomed being upstaged by the heir to House Pirian. Warmth remedied a great many things right now.

She did, however, cock an eyebrow at his dismay at losing to a girl. There was a part of her that wished to challenge him on that but given the circumstances she simply offered, ”at least you crossed the finish line though! And second is nothing to be ashamed of Val, given whom you were competing against!” The Corsair chose to gloss over the fact that her father had paid the judges off to spread that little lie of the servant’s blunder. Her father was terrified that his one and only daughter wouldn’t speak with him for months after that embarrassment.

Aisling responded to the tug from Elise with encouragement. Her body longed to be warmed as her teeth kept chattering and her bones continued to shake. When Elise added additional kindling the lady from Weiroon moved in closer to both the flame and her friend from Virak. Civility and etiquette were novel concepts for noble families which were well fed, well clothed, and indoors. Not so much for vagabonds on the run from people who wished to murder them.

She discarded all of that civility as she drew nearer to Elise, skin touched, and the fire that continued to grow between the three nobles. She held out a hand towards Val, modesty was all well and fine but survival was paramount in this situation. If the three needed to huddle around a fire to survive, then so be it. To hell with whatever social norms the nobility had instilled in the three children.

”My days are mostly spent at sea or attending some social event that benefits my family,” Aisling confessed in response to Elise’s suggestion. ”I’m not particularly chomping at the bit to resume riding, you’d both just show me up, but if you two prefer a rematch then sure. I’d give it another go.” At that statement she formed a smile extreme enough to expose the pearly whites behind her thin lips.

Given everything that the past hour or so had entailed there was a part of her that savored it. Being here among her friends, reminiscing on past escapades, remembering what it was like to be with people you felt you could trust. Truly trust.

Months in the middle of the ocean didn’t hold a candle to moments like this.
 

Val Pirian

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He took the compliments with grace, offering a polite and tired smile to both of them. He had cheated to get the fire lit, that much was true, but at least neither woman seemed to notice what he'd done. A successful smokescreen of speech, if ever he'd created one.

"Perhaps it'll be time for a rematch when we get back."

"A rematch sounds lovely, my lady. Perhaps I'll finally reclaim my lost honor, provided that you've somehow gone completely rusty over the last several years." Val teased the baroness. He had never held any ill will towards her over the years, but he knew that she was his better in almost every front. There was no shame in it, it was simply how things were.

”at least you crossed the finish line though! And second is nothing to be ashamed of Val, given whom you were competing against!”
"I was hardly ashamed to lose to Elise, Ais. You said it yourself, it's Elise." Val explained genuinely, before shifting once again to a more dramatic tone. "The backlash the other young nobles gave me was what had me flustered. Children can be so cruel."

He watched as his fellow heirs apparent huddled up and smiled warmly, content to huddle against his own knees as the fire began to grow to an acceptable size. The Pirian noble was surprised, however, when Aisling offered him her hand. He hesitated a moment, unsure if she was just being polite, but decided he didn't really care. His expression softened and he took her hand before shuffling over to join his friends.

Val had known the company of women over the years, of course, but this was...different. Wholesome. There was a nostalgic warmth to the moment that no fire could match. He forgot any normal reaction he might've had to such a situation, and instead was brought back to another time and place, where the three friends had huddled up as kids under a blanket, avoiding the scorn of their parents as they stayed up past their bedtime.
"Just like the old sleepovers." He reminisced softly, gazing into the flames before them.
 

Elise Virak

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"The ones our parents would have killed us for." Elise said quietly, a hint of bitterness to her tone.

Perhaps of the three of them she was the most 'accomplished', at least in their societies own terms, but it was clear she also held the most resentment. Ever since her brother had run away Elise had held the entire responsibility of House Virak.

She had been heir, and through that it had been her duty to always be the best. Though she fit the role well, it would likely become clear to her two friends that she despised it in a way. Her fingers tightened slightly, the warmth of the fire and her companions not entirely reaching her.

A sigh escaped her. "I've so missed the both of you."

Elise said quietly.

There were not many people that she could be herself with, no one in fact. Even now she had to hide the whole of herself, but...but Val and Aisling always got more than everyone else. More than even her own family had.

"It is not always easy." Slight tears welled in her eyes and she quickly squeezed them shut so neither of her friends saw. "Being us."
 

Aisling

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Elise’s mood had shifted. It was as noticeable as the rising temperature inside the cave.

House Weiroon had not been easy. Aisling’s uncle Sullivan was intolerable, many of her family members cared more for wealth than anything else, and she had to contend with three older brothers belittling her. House Pirian seemed far more dignified, certainly not as corrupt as Aisling’s relatives, but she was certain it wasn’t a cakewalk for Val either.

But House Virak, well, from the outside looking in it seemed intense. And while Aisling had joined the navy partially as an escape from her family it was something she chose. Something that was permitted. Free will was lacking for all of the children of nobility but for her dear friend Elise it seemed like a distant dream. Had Elise ever gotten to make a real decision or were they all simply planned out for her?

Aisling grabbed hold of the heiress’s hand and squeezed it gently, ”we’re here now,” she assured her.

”It’s hard, constantly being on guard. Constantly being judged. No one really understands it,” she admitted in a consoling tone. ”You can talk about it. To us,” she blinked towards her childhood companion, hoping to encourage her to open up.

They all had insecurities they couldn’t let the public see. Often talking about it to one's family only made matters worse, at least among the Weiroon’s. And she was willing to bet the Virak clan was the same. But here the three of them could speak openly, trust one another that whatever they said stayed between them.

As the heat of the fire coated her cheeks it’s waving light caused shadows to dance on the cavewall behind the trio. The corsair bit her tongue, longing to say more, hoping beyond hope to cheer her friend up. But all of the words seemed to fail her.
 
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Val Pirian

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"I've so missed the both of you."
A quiet, tender moment amongst the storm of tribulation that now bared down upon them. For all the rumors and stories Val had heard over the years regarding Elise's ventures, the tears in her eyes and wavering in her voice reminded him that no one really knew who she was. Who any of them were. That they were humans with vulnerabilities just like anybody else.

"We've missed you too." He said softly. Val hadn't had the pressure forced upon him that Elise and Aisling had, not in the same way. His parents encouraged him to do better, and he did as they asked, but the idea of succeeding them always felt so...daunting. Which is why he generally stopped trying to live up to their, and indeed Vel Anir's, expectations. Even still, he sympathized with her.

”You can talk about it. To us,”
"Agreed. In fact, I think a pact is in order." Val stated a bit more confidently. "That we can all talk to each other about anything, and that we find the time to listen."

It was high time that the trio came back together as close friends again. Partners that could trust each other, build each other up in a way their families didn't.
"Might do us all good to get things off our chests."