In most situations, Davic liked to think that he was pretty confident. Meditation training had only made that trait stronger, and so he found himself always able to take a mental step back, to observe the reality of his situation and understand that it really wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But right now, that wasn’t working. He shuddered involuntarily every time he saw the ash of his surroundings, but more fearful than the memories the destruction bore was the very current threat that encompassed him. On one side stood Faldrun, Immortal of Fire and the nightmare fuel of his entire childhood. Davic had heard tales of his anger and unjust passion from the monks since he was first apprenticed, and the fiery destruction those vices caused was legendarily final. Facing this Immortal stood an Eidisi and... something else. The inhuman he could recognise was a woman, and though he had never met one of her kind, the lessons he had been taught in the Monastery suggested that she was not abnormal for her race. The same could absolutely not be said for the thing standing alongside her. If the bipedal stance, average height and distinct facial features didn't oppose the thought, Davic would have believed it to be some kind of beast, a monster. Black feathers armoured its body in darkness, but that only made its gaze - red and somehow glowing - that much more obvious and threatening. Davic couldn't justify his terror; It didn't come from spotting some threat in the ebony tones of the creature, but instead was intuitive and instinctual, a primal certainty that whatever this was, it was... wrong. Perhaps a shapeshifter? Davic had read briefly of crystalline creatures from the dry east, could this be one of their ilk? Under any other circumstance the young monk's focus would have rested undivided on this monster, but to do so would be to ignore a threat almost certainly greater. Faldrun was not a presence easily forgotten. And as if that lose-lose game wasn’t enough, the two sides had spent the past few bits in heated argument, and Davic had the joyous position of standing directly between them, in the line of deific fire. He had no way of telling how powerful the creature and Eidisi were, but the brazen, unfiltered opposition they aimed at the Immortal suggested faith in some certain strength. Well, that or just reckless audacity. Davic hadn’t yet had a chance to speak, but that was probably for the best. His own bluntness had gotten him into trouble before. The atmosphere here was scorchingly tense, and antagonising either or both of these sides by offending them would be strictly suicidal. But even so, this argument wasn’t deescalating any time soon. Faldrun’s demands had been met in kind, and it really didn’t seem like any of the people involved were going to step down of their own accord.
So it was that Davic stood up. He’d been resting against a boulder, relaxed in an attempt to make himself seem as non-threatening as possible, but what he needed now was to act assertive, confident, not careful and scared. Suddenly having the gazes of this imposing group entirely on his person cut off his first attempt at speaking, the words dying in his throat, but he couldn’t just sit back down.
“People, this isn’t going to work if you keep being so damn noncommittal.” Davic began, hiding a wince at his own words. That was far more aggressive than he had intended. “None of you have actually given each other any real guarantee to back up your words: You two-” Davic turned to the pair of vaguely-humans, who were beginning to look somehow even more menacing. “Y-You’ve both explicitly stated that you’ll avoid parts of the job if you want to, yet you still expect Faldrun to privy you to his plans and answer your queries j-just on the off chance that you do actually see it through? This is obviously important, Faldrun is risking something just by giving you this information. At least give him some reason to believe you’ll get the job done! But you’re even worse, hothead,” The apprentice swung round to the Immortal, stuttering less as he worked himself up into passionate brashness. “Sure, you’ve told them they’ll get a favour after they finish, but that means they have to trust that you won’t just leave after whatever victory you want us to obtain. You’ve got overwhelming power Faldrun, if you decide not to live up to your word there’s literally nothing I can do to get back at you for it. With other people you can at least threaten them with something if they decide they’ve changed their mind, but what are we meant to do, just hope that you’re feeling generous? You don’t exactly have a clean track record.” By this point Davic had begun gesticulating wildly. Seeming at last to notice exactly who he was talking to, his voice lost it’s angry edge and settled into more measured, inoffensive exasperation.
“Look, the way you get cautious people to go out on a limb for you is by making yourself vulnerable. If you know that I know that I won’t get away with screwing you over, you’ll trust me that much more. I think that’s actually at some level what she was trying to say before.” He gestured to the Eidisi, forcing himself to make eye contact. She’d certainly seemed comfortable with bargaining; What he was saying couldn’t be new to her.
“So that starts with you Faldrun, since you’re the most powerful party involved. If we’re only going to be rewarded upon completion, you have to at least explain to us why your objective is so important, to make it clear that we’d be able to force an exchange out of you at worst, or instead give us some way of holding you to account. I’m not suggesting that you entrust us with your secret hamartia or anything so ultimate, just give us some kind of way to hold you to your word.” Slowly, Davic turned and paced over to the pair of mortals, his body tensing up in a manner that he hoped wasn’t visible as he approached the sable monster-person. “Th-that goes for us too. Maybe you do want to remain neutral, Eidisi, but you must understand how useless that is as a commitment. Faldrun has already stated that we’ll be directly opposing other Immortals in this task, what does he have to gain in trusting you if you’re not going to help him in that? Maybe you have some stronger reason not to involve yourself here, but surely the power of an Immortal can provide something you deem worth fighting to obtain? I… I do understand the clause of not fighting your friends and family,” Davic shifted his eyes unsteadily over to the darker creature. “even if it’s no longer a risk I have to account for. But if Faldrun is to put himself at risk to trust you, being vague about the favour you’ll ask is a betrayal of that. If we are to reach any compromise here, you must confirm it with him. You obviously have a clear idea of what you desire, so making sure it’s within his will and power before the task is complete is as much of a benefit to you as to him. None of us here were going to proceed just upon each other’s word alone, at least I hope as much, but if we are bound together by mutual risk perhaps we can see this through.” Again, Davic was beginning to forget the situation. He’d cast the gaze of his unpatched eye into the distance while talking, hoping both to seem unfazed and to avoid having to stare fear in the face. But without the visible danger he spoke with fearless, untactful ease. “But my own stakes are pretty simple. I only desire the prize already offered, and if Faldrun helps me trust him I lack the power or resources to safely double-cross him. To be honest, I’m more worried about you two leaving, because I’m pretty sure I can’t do this by myself.” Admitting his own weakness did seem risky, but Davic doubted any of the intimidating figures here considered him a threat in the first place. Besides, having them assume him harmless couldn’t be a detriment. The young monk turned yet again, facing Faldrun with fists clenched in an attempt to stop himself from shaking. Depending on how the Immortal of Fire responded, this could very easily be it for him. But burning to death would at the very least be fitting. Perhaps if he met the same fate as he had caused for the rest, he could be redeemed some fraction.
Going to deal with the formatting of this when I can, just really didn't want to delay anything any longer.