It's Not About the Destination...

From Tried's Mouth to the mysterious Tower, the waters around Scalvoris and the island itself hold a vast array of secrets, just ripe for discovery. Here are landmarks, jungles, mountains, and islands of note.

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Natalia Gregorios
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It's Not About the Destination...

Fri May 21, 2021 7:38 pm

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Ashan 46, Arc 721


Stepping up into the saddle, Natalia mounted Renaissance, her dapple-grey Oakleigh. To be honest, she didn’t have much current experience riding but had decided it was about time she re-learned. It was impractical to take a boat everywhere when she had a perfectly good horse to ride around. Of course, Renaissance and she were still trying to get used to each other, so it was something of a negotiation.

That negotiation extended to her body as well. It happened to loudly protest to the new form of punishment she had decided to inflict upon it.

Natalia had been an exceptional rider in her early years, but time and age had robbed her of the knowledge. She was starting over, but that was alright. She actually enjoyed learning.

Working their way towards the Ranger’s Hall, the young woman admitted a fair amount of pleasure at being able to see the gentleman she had met the night before again. Woe had expressed interest in her accompanying him to Scalvoris Town and Natalia had found no reason not to agree. In thinking it over, she found the idea intriguing on multiple levels. Mostly, she desired to figure out why it was he fascinated her so. It was a puzzle that she couldn’t quite solve but determined to do just that.

Clad in a deep purple and gold riding outfit, she allowed her eyes to gaze out through the town, noting people and locations but her mind was engaged with the mystery before her. Briefly, she considered telling him of her interest, mostly from a purely logical point of view. Perhaps he would have some insight, but the thought was quickly discarded with a smile. That would have been an interesting conversation. So, Woe, I’m drawn to you and I can’t quite explain it – do you happen to know why because I’m at a bit of a loss?

No. That was not a conversation she was having with him. Especially after one evening together, regardless of how interesting it had been.

As the pair approached the Ranger’s Hall, her golden eyes spotted him in front of the structure, seemingly waiting for her. She only had a few moments to regard him before he caught sight of her, so she used them wisely.

Drawing close to where he was, she smiled, deciding to extend not a greeting, but something different. “It’s good to see you this morning. I wanted to thank you again for the drink, and exceptional company last evening, as well as the invitation to accompany you. I'm looking forward to it.'

Leaning over, she patted her horse gently with a slender, gloved hand."This fine beast is Renaissance. He and I are getting reacquainted on this journey but he's assured me there will be no funny business. I've told him Elements are the serious sort and he promises to be on his best behavior."

Grinning softly at Woe, she decided to open their conversation with something she had been wondering. "You said that you are a recent recruit to the Elements. Why did you decide to join, if I may ask?" There was a curiosity about the way his mind worked, but he was similar to her in regards to holding on tightly to personal information. Natalia wanted to see how he would handle the question.


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Last edited by Natalia Gregorios on Sun May 23, 2021 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 587
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Sun May 23, 2021 3:55 pm

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Ashan 46, Arc 721


Woe was wearing a jacket of dark crimson velvet over a black silk, button-up shirt with onyx buttons. Trousers of sturdy, brown leather with diamond pattern quilted stitching. A cloth of onyx cravat wrapped around his neck and tucked into the neckline of his coat. On his feet were a pair of polished riding boots, rising to the knee.

Woe’s thoughts were lingering on the woman he met the night before, Natalia. It wasn’t usual that he’d find his thoughts lingering on a strange woman he barely knew. But there was something different about her, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Certainly she was well-mannered, reserved, and had all the social graces you’d expect of an affluent lady. Yet it was something else hard to define for him. Anyway, he was intrigued by her, and felt it a good gesture anyway since she was heading back to Scalvoristown, to invite her with the Element Patrol, to safeguard her on her way, along with a few other citizens.

Woe was being instructed at that moment by Blodwen Golly, one of the finest riding trainers that the Element troopers had in Egilrun. Woe looked at her, as he began fitting some of the tack and harness to his Destiar, Opal. The ethereal horse accepted his touch, but snorted at Blodwen, as if in warning. She was careful not to touch the veil that trailed down Opal’s form, as warned by Woe. ”Do you often travel these roads, Miss Golly?”

Blodwen turned her gaze from his work at fixing the harness to the destiar, to Woe, ”Well, yeah. Ever since security got tighter around this route, we’ve been safeguarding the caravans and people traveling. This route is a bit more dangerous than others, people often go missing or come into Beacon half out of their skin, beaten down. Lots of action to be had potentially, although not enough for my taste.”

Woe nodded to her, personally he’d prefer a nice quiet stroll through the countryside, but was prepared for more.

After he’d finished with the tack and harness, under the instruction of Blodwen, Woe saw Natalia approaching, her own mount in tow. Woe marveled at the dapple gray gelding. It’s coat was very attractive. Woe always had a penchant for the color gray, and on this beast it was of exceptional coloring. Woe’s own Destiar, the mare Opal had a dapple gray coat beneath its white veil. Woe reached out through Empathy, to test how his horse was feeling, having the harness on. A little nervous, but calmed by the nearness of its master. As soon as Blodwen excused herself to attend to the other Elements and the caravan they’d be leading, the mare was at ease.

Woe too was more at ease, as Natalia arrived at his side. ”Thank you.” Woe said, slightly disarmed by her compliment. He tried to rein in the Empathy spark, muting it with the arcane gaoler for now, at least until he’d gotten used to having Natalia near. The spark urged him to delve into her tangle, and suss out context clues to what she was about. But Woe refrained. He muted it, and that was that, at least for the moment.

”The road is a bit dangerous, as I hear it. So it’s good that you’ll be coming with us.”

Woe turned from Natalia to the gelding that she had in tow. Renaissance was a very attractive beast. And Woe wasn’t at all surprised that a well-brought up young lady like Natalia knew how to ride. ”We both have dapple gray animals… although mine…” Woe turned to indicate Opal, who was sporting some fancy blooded leather barding, the red complimented the white of her veil, and the gray of her coat. ”This is Opal.” He stalled for a moment, not sure how to introduce his animal. In the end, he opted for the simple explanation, he could always elaborate later, ”She’s been with me for some time.”

When the time came that she questioned him on his joining the Elements as a trooper, he nodded to her, ”I believe that Scalvoris is an important place. I want to help safeguard it, if I can. Also I want to set a good example for my son.” There was of course, more to it than that, as ever there was with Woe. But he wasn’t sure how much he should share just yet. He’d been betrayed by people who he overshared with before, and was keen on not repeating that mistake here. Not that he thought Natalia was a spy, although she could’ve been, for all the fact that she approached him. There was also an element of not making himself a liability to her this early in their acquaintance with each other.

”Also, it’s a good opportunity to find some action out there. I don’t believe in vigilante justice, so I joined the military.” Woe nodded to himself.

But then, the wagon and the elements that were with them began moving out toward the road. Woe jumped up into the saddle, or more climbed, as he didn’t wish to overshoot the mark. He stopped muting his spark, as he felt the danger was past, and reached out with the threads of empathy toward his horse, staying abreast of its mood and demeanor.

He stroked Opal’s dapple-gray neck, and calmed her for a moment, waiting for Natalia to mount up, so they could be on their way.



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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Sun May 23, 2021 5:23 pm

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Ashan 46, Arc 721


Something that had haunted Natalia…well, haunted was probably the wrong word. It was a bit dramatic, really. Concerned. That was better. Something that had concerned Natalia since the meeting with Woe the night before, was that he might regret the offer he had extended to her. It wasn’t uncommon for things like that to occur, and given time, space, and perspective, for one to lament over things said. The young woman had seen it before and likely would see it happen again.

Having prepared herself for that possibility, she made sure to keep her focus on the man, looking for any signs that he might be having those types of thoughts. Golden eyes considered him as she approached, offering what she would consider a friendly smile. Her gaze was drawn to his outfit, which again was rather impeccable. If nothing else, she always admired a man who knew how to dress. Perhaps that was her background rearing its ugly head, but appearances mattered and someone that dressed well showed respect for themselves.

Plus, he looked good in crimson.

His storm-blue gaze went first to Renaissance, as it should have. Renny was a beautiful creature and as such, Natalia was used to people appreciating that. It gave her a bit of time to consider Woe’s mount as well, which she considered to be…unusual…but filed that away for a more appropriate moment, wanting to ask about it.

As her eyes found him, she smiled, listening as he thanked her for her remark. It was a quick comment, but she found nothing negative in it, which pleased her. It appeared, for the moment, that he was still positively inclined towards her. At least as far as she could tell. Time would give her more information.

He moved on, speaking of a dangerous path ahead of them and his thought that it was good she was riding with them. All positive, further cementing her belief that he was as pleased with her company as he had been the previous evening. Natalia decided to reply to that, almost at the last minute which caused her words to sound a bit rushed. “I’m pleased to be joining you as well…” Oh Beneath girl…. rein it in. What is wrong with you?

Luckily, she just barely kept a blush from spreading across her cheek, quickly thinking of something not quite so pleasant as a quiet ride through the countryside. Hmmm…an ugly sea creature! Eating a boatload of people! That would do the trick.

Letting the scene play out in her mind for a few trills, she returned her attention to the conversation. To be truthful, she had never allowed it to leave the exchange, being capable of doing both at the same time, but she desired to offer Woe her complete and undivided attention.

He introduced his own mount quickly, and though she felt it appropriate to ask her questions about the nature of the creature, she held them, deciding a short, acknowledging reply would be better. “It seems we do. She’s gorgeous, by the way, and a bit unusual. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of her breed before.” The remark allowed him to either leave it be or expand, whatever his wish may have been. Natalia had no desire to box him into a corner by asking questions he might not have wanted to answer, which was very unlike her.

The question regarding his desire to join the Elements was met with something more than she had anticipated. Woe, like herself, delighted in vagueness. As such, when he mentioned his son, her mind registered a bit of surprise. Family was often a piece of someone that they wanted to keep hidden in most cases, but he had told her of his son and wishing to set a good example. Of course, she couldn’t relate because her parents were horrible examples, but she admired that he wished to be such for his child. She wasn’t sure if he had meant to make the reference, but there was an overwhelming desire to acknowledge it.

“Then in my eyes, you are an exceptionally good father. I wish there were more like you out in the world.”
Quietly spoken, she glanced around the immediate area, not wishing to reveal too much of herself or force the same of him to others that might have been standing around. Oh really, girl? When have you ever been worried about someone else in that regard? Truer words had never been thought – Natalia didn’t consider others when trying to get information. She stuck to her plans and attempted to mauver conversations where she wished them to go….and that was the whole point, she finally realized.

She wasn’t trying to get information. Natalia just wanted to spend time with him.

How interesting....

"Vigilante justice, on whole, serves no purpose other than to sow confusion. At least in my opinion, although I'm sure I could be persuaded otherwise in specific cases. The world is large and variables infinite. To be absolute in something like that might not be possible."

Noting the others mounting up. the young woman grabbed the horn of her saddle, reins in hand, and pulled herself on top of Renaissance, glancing over at Woe with a smile as she nudged her mount forward towards him and Opal. She was aware that horses needed time to acclimate to each other so she didn't want them too close, only enough so that they could converse without shouting. Her mind whirled a bit, wanting to offer something up in the same vein as he had offered her regarding his son. While not a true chess match between the two, there were always subtle cues that could let another know how things stood between them. He had given her a very positive sign and as such, Natalia desired to return the favor. It never even occurred to her that he could be lying, although it should have.

"My family never considered my well-being or settling examples for me, other than horribly bad ones, so we don't speak...."

The comment was left there, an offering of sorts. He could make of it what he wished but beyond her peer group, he was the only one that knew of the rift between Natalia and her family.



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Last edited by Natalia Gregorios on Mon May 24, 2021 12:11 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1089
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Sun May 23, 2021 7:13 pm

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As she responded to him, he couldn't help notice she was stifling something. Despite his best efforts, the mute he'd placed on his Empathy spark lapsed in that moment, and Woe found himself confronted with a very strange context clue rising to the surface of her tangle. A kraken, or sea serpent, some form of sea creature rose to the top of her tangle, and with it he noted the threads changing color as it did. As much experience as he had in reading people with and without magic, he couldn't for the life of him understand what that image might mean. Could it be she was reminded of a bad experience at sea, or was it a connection to the unknown that prompted such a conjuring of that image?

Whatever the case, he had no wish to impose his spark's curiosity upon her. He wanted some surprises as they got to know each other, and so he suppressed it once again with a stronger held mute, at least until they were ahorse.

She made reference to his worthiness as a father, based on what he said of Iago, and Woe couldn't help but catch in his throat, remembering his unworthiness when it came to his daughter, Werthom. Yet he stifled that thought as quickly as it arose, tucking it away deep inside his memories, where it belonged. Yet even now it informed his method when raising Iago. He would never be so careless or reckless again with a child. Even though Iago was quite a lot older than Werthom had been at the time, he was yet a child.

"Thank you." He said, and soon enough, they were ahorse.

When she brought up his mention of Vigalante justice, he shrugged. "I think the proper channels should always be observed. Even in cases where despicable individuals do their deeds. It's the only way to ensure that justice and fairness is observed. A cornerstone of empathy and understanding is fair treatment of the other person." He wondered why he was philosophizing so early in the day.

He was about to ask her of her own family, when she brought it up, without his asking. "The same, it's why I want to be better. My sister may be the exception, but I owe her my life, in many ways. Yet we differ in our worldview, I like to think she has my back and I have hers."

"Still, there must be someone in your family that you can believe and trust in? I have to admit I'm impressed with you, and admire your manners from what I've seen. Surely, they must have done something right."




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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Sun May 23, 2021 9:44 pm

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Ashan 46, Arc 721

The ‘thank you’ he spoke felt normal, and yet something about the way he said it stuck with her. Woe had given her the briefest glimpse into a private world that she had no rights to, yet he had. It was that sort of emotional gravity and exchange that always fascinated Natalia. In truth, it informed her later decision to open the door to her world for him a bit too. The young woman was certain he would understand the meaning behind such a choice.

She left that topic where it was – there was no desire to push or coerce him to speak of it more. He would do so when the time came. What she did do, however, was offer a genuine smile if he looked in her direction.

Careful not to allow Renaissance too close to Opal, just in case either mount experienced issues, they spoke further of vigilante justice. He had a point, of course. She wasn’t egotistical enough to believe her thoughts were the only way life could be. Yet, the point she had tried to make got lost in translation, mainly because she presented in reference to the subject but really, it was a larger worldview.

“I concede that, generally, that is true. Proper channels are best. I just am allowing for a tiny window of possibility that a situation might arise that could change my mind. I allow my mind a fair amount of flexibility. There is a big, wide, fantastical world out there and part of me feels like the moment I feel I’ve figured it out, it will change. Change is one of the only guarantees in life, I think.”

Natalia, ever mindful of her mentality, allowed a moment’s embrace of the fact that for the first time in a long while, she was actually enjoying time spent with another, instead of simply tolerating it.

A sister was now mentioned, sparking a soft smile from the woman as she listened to him explain the unique relationship he had with her. “Differing worldviews aren’t negative things. At least in my opinion. It offers one the chance to learn from another, perhaps see the world from a different perspective. And it’s always good to feel like someone is in your corner when you fear the world might be against you.”

Of course, the line of thought brought her to her grandfather, which made her smile further. Before she had a chance to say anything, he pushed the conversation ahead, asking if there was anyone like his sister in her family, someone who supported her. As well, the mention of him being impressed with her threatened to bring back the blush she had fought off earlier with the ugly sea monster thoughts. Eat the people….eat the people….doom the ship….better.

“Indeed. One, My grandfather. Sadly, he passed a few arcs ago, but he was a good, kind, wonderful man. He gave me the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever been gifted with – No one else out there is watching out for you, so you’ll have to learn to do it on your own. I’ve never forgotten that, and I try to live by it every day.” For the moment, she left the matter there, for her mind had stalled on one important fact – Woe had complimented her, and she hadn’t replied to it.

Circling back, she wondered what she possibly could say that wouldn’t sound completely asinine, childish, ridiculous, or otherwise absurd. “Thank you, for the compliment. I am enjoying spending time with you.” It was offered with a genuine smile, and maybe just a hint of a blush.

Damn defective imaginary sea creatures….


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Last edited by Natalia Gregorios on Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:25 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 641
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:20 am

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”No I understand.” Woe said when Natalia confessed that she was open-minded. ”You’re young, and you’ve still more to experience before you make up your mind about things, so it’s only natural that you leave it open at times.”

Woe meant no insult by it, nor to downplay her intelligence. Far from it. Yet the way she’d phrased it made it abundantly clear that she hadn’t made up her mind about the subject, and so was willing to be moved by a persuasive enough argument. However, it was not for Woe to coerce her one way or another. She may have a chance sooner or later to make up her mind about the subject of justice, and how to properly apply it. In truth, Woe wasn’t entirely made up in his mind about the correct course either, to be fair.

When he mentioned his sister, she gracefully declined to broach the subject of who his sister might be. He appreciated her discretion. He didn’t want to give up the ghost this early, if at all. But it would probably get out sooner or later who his mother was. That came with certain benefits, but also risks. Woe felt he was ready to meet them himself, but he didn’t want to drag too many people into the crossfire just yet.

”Sharing a different perspective, if it is well-founded and held with true conviction is valuable. People aren’t likely to stand upon a shaky foundation, any more than they would base their beliefs and perspectives on falsehoods. Yet even then, sometimes a falsehood can be uttered with such conviction that it tests the will to resist.” To unlock such acumen for manipulation was something to aspire to, Woe thought once upon a time. Before he found his knack for telling the truth. Woe sighed at that, as he steered his Opal, and ducked under a low-hanging branch. Mounts could be wiley beasts, and even Opal had moments where she didn’t enjoy being ridden.

Woe was enjoying their conversation until certain context clues emerged from her tangle as he observed it. He nearly fell off his horse when a monster reared up from beneath the tangle, a black and purple thing with tentacles and horrible teeth, and it began eating stick figures… what appeared to be people. Far from being one to judge a person’s fantasies, Woe shrugged it off with what discipline he could muster. Yet he was cautious and took a few steps aside from her, just in case.

Thankfully, the surface of their conversation was much more pleasant than the context clues he obtained from her tangle. ”It’s good to find at least one member of your family you can enjoy the company of. My father was a cruel and stupid man, who worked leather for a living and kept slaves…” One of whom was Woe himself, although the man hadn’t known he was his son. ”It’s important that people be able to stand on their own, and take responsibility. Slaves are deprived of that freedom, that sacred will to power. I once believed differently about slavery than I do now. But I can see its evils for what they are.”

He noted her blush as she thanked him for the compliment, and saluted her with a smile. ”I appreciate that you’re accompanying us. It might’ve been boring otherwise…” He only whispered the last part as he leaned toward her, not wanting his comrades to overhear what he thought of their usual banter.



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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Wed Jun 02, 2021 4:10 am

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Ashan 46, Arc 721

Natalia guessed him to be older than she – that was obvious – but in truth, she didn’t know how much older. It didn’t matter to her in the least, but the young woman had always found guessing ages to be something of a good activity to train her observation skills. She could make herself appear to be much younger than her twenty-five arcs, or a bit older. In her case, it had to do with the hair…but that wasn’t the point.

The point was, she didn’t take offense when he mentioned her being young. Some might have, but Natalia understood what he was trying to say, offering up a soft laugh. “I suppose that is one way to look at it. However, I’ve known of people that were my age, that had lived more life than someone three times it. I tend not to base much on age. Experience, yes…and I confess I’m not experienced in the ways of the world. I’ve watched thus far, due to circumstance. I’m only just now making my way into the grand scheme. However, I feel that I’m more prepared than most since I have been sitting back and observing. I have a clearer idea of what it is I strive for as opposed to those grasping at the air.”

Manipulation. Natalia had seen it wielded expertly by many a person. Herself, she had no desire to hone the ability to that degree. In her eyes, it was an ugly word. There were so many others that were more elegant and suited towards what she considered some of her abilities to be. Maneuvering was a good one, although she enjoyed the term ‘strategy’. Social events were often the playground for such activities, and she observed the chess matches with great interest.

Of course, they were talking about perspective, which was a bit different. “A shaky foundation is useless, I agree. Then again, I’m of the opinion that one shouldn’t be speaking with said conviction until they’ve arrived at what their inescapable truth is. I know this not to be the way of the world though.”

Smiling as his horse veered him close to a tree, prompting him to duck, Natalia assisted by moving Renny to the other side of them, hoping to ease Opal up a bit. Sighing, she continued. “It’s always slippery – truth. What one person believes to be truth might not be truth to another.” It was a subject that fascinated the young woman, and scared her, knowing there were zealots out in the world willing to do unspeakable things in the name of something that made absolutely no sense to her. That was the point – it didn’t have to make sense to her to make them dangerous.

About the time she summoned her sea monsters back, she noted him moving ever so slightly away from her, but thought nothing of it, passing it off as his mount giving him minor issues and wanting to put a bit of distance between them.

Natalia had previously been in a bit of awe over his revelation of a son and sister, and here he was, surprising her again with further. She listened intently as he spoke of his father and his opinions on slavery. She allowed what Woe said to sink in a bit, feeling a bit of shame over her situation. While she believed her father to be a heartless man, he would never have owned slaves – mostly because it would have looked unbelievably bad, and he was extremely aware of optics. It was one of the only lessons his daughter had learned from him.

Slavery was something she didn’t tolerate, and as such, her tone contained a bit of harshness that normally wasn’t present. “Slavery is an abomination.” Words softened as she considered what he had revealed of himself. “Then you are better than most. Most that once held those views would either never admit to it or never consider opening their mind to other possibilities. You did both. Sometimes opinions/convictions change. I think that is one of the reasons I have a hard time closing my mind on certain subjects. I feel like there’s always the possibility of an experience out there that might change my mind. Or not. That’s for me to find out.”

When he smiled and whispered to her, Natalia laughed softly, amused as she whispered back. “Well, I couldn’t have that. You being bored, that is. The offer to spend time talking with you was far too enticing to pass up.”

The young woman once again marveled at the fact that despite knowing how to maneuver a conversation to get the most information out of someone, she simply wasn’t interested in doing any of that. Their exchange needed no enhancement or encouragement. It was, in her opinion, organic and probably the first conversation in a very long time where she wasn’t checking her words every trill. Of course, there were a few subjects she really didn’t want to discuss but he had opened up to her in many minor ways, so she was open to seeing where things went and how she was feeling.

In fact, Natalia was about to tell him about her family when a rider approached from the back of the group, having ridden up fairly quickly, avoiding everyone but the young woman.

“Natalia? Is that you?”

Turning her head, she noted the gentleman approaching and immediately knew that she did not know him. She had a knack for faces and he was not familiar to her. However, she adopted her typical calm demeanor as she looked at him. “I apologize; do I know you, Sir?”

Woe would immediately realize a few things. The tone she was using was not the same tone she used when talking with him. It was much more even, controlled, and less nuanced.

The man himself didn’t seem phased in the least. His horse and clothing spoke of someone with means. “Natalia, of course, you do. We spoke at Liselle’s last party. My name is Charles. You told me about your grandfather.” Laughing a bit, he leveled a charming smile at her. “You’ve forgotten? I must not have made an incredibly good impression. No matter. You were charming company. Headed to Scalvoris Town?”

The strange man had made a fatal flaw – mentioning her grandfather. While those in her former social peer group knew of her grandfather, the people that she had told specifically about him were few and far between. In the world she left behind, she never would have spoken to a stranger about her grandfather. Ever. Woe was becoming a fast exception to a lot of the young woman’s rules and while she had told him of the man, it wasn’t their first conversation. There was a certain amount of implied trust between the two already – at least from her perspective.

“Ah yes. I seem to recall something of that nature. Fear not, Charles. I meet a lot of people. And how is your family?” The tone remained flat, which she hoped would send up a red flag to Woe. She had altered her interaction enough that, she hoped, not to alarm the stranger who was up to something but to warn Woe that something was very wrong. By refusing to answer his question regarding their destination and offering up a counter-question of her own, Natalia was hoping to give herself some time to figure out what was going on.

Cursing inwardly, she noted that the man had ridden up and nosed right between her and Woe, cutting off several options she might have had. It would look too obvious if she dropped back and moved to the other side of Woe, so the young woman simply held her position and waited to see what would happen.


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Last edited by Natalia Gregorios on Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1351
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Wed Jun 02, 2021 4:55 am

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For the most part, he listened to her responses to his initial words of the last few moments. He didn’t hold his silence because he had nothing to say of what she related, but because she brought them to a satisfactory conclusion, toward which he didn’t think he could derive much more information from her words without getting into pointless minutiae.

She didn’t seem to agree with his skirting the subject of manipulation. Not that he’d mentioned the word, mind, but she seemed to understand the subtext of what he was driving at with regards to deception.

They’d lingered on some topics that veered close to the heart of who Woe perceived himself to be. He almost cursed himself when he gave up the ghost to his father’s slaver background, and his own delves into the depravity that was such a practice. ”I’m not better than anyone.” He said, his tone insisting upon it. He did enjoy Natalia, and didn’t want her to get the wrong idea about him, only to be upset when and if she learned more about him. He hadn’t lived an upright life, and was still willing to do some things that others might imagine would damn a person to some hellish afterlife or another. Perhaps he was after all?

”I owe my initial state of thought to be an abominable consequence of lack of education and ethics. While my current philosophy toward slavery is purely utilitarian in nature.” But now they were broaching on subjects that most people found deeply controversial and sensitive. It was best that they drop it. ”Suffice to say, overcoming an evil opinion is no great virtue if one only arrived at it by dint of necessity.” Woe didn’t look proud of the way he came to his change of heart. He remembered that Magpie had been the first to inform him of his error, at least in the matter of his own self=responsibility. It took much turning and torture before he wrenched his way free of those mind-shackles, but not without a great cost in itself. He frowned to think about it.

They continued for a while to ride, in silence. Eventually, however, Woe heard a voice from behind, as a man rode right up between them, nearly spooking Opal. Opal sneered and muttered as he got close, and Woe had to do some difficult wrangling, even though they were only in a trot, to get her in hand again. He reached out through the threads of her tangle, to try and calm her, and set her right. This took most of his concentration, however, and he no longer had a view of Natalia’s tangle.

The man spoke of her grandfather, how she’d spoken of him. Had he heard their conversation? It seemed like a sophomoric attempt to insinuate himself into their conversation, and a blatant one at that.

Woe hadn’t yet reached out to her tangle, and wasn’t monitoring her emotions, but even he could tell by the tone of her voice that something was very different about this man. She was tense in her speech, and brief with him, although gracious enough to ask him how his family was, although Woe could spot that she said it with absolutely no genuine interest.

Woe was about to interfere with their exchange, just marshalling the words he’d need to do so without making himself seem boorish or rude, when a sudden kick bumped into Opal from behind, though he couldn’t tell from where. The Destiar spooked, and ran ahead, faster than Woe could manage her. Within moments, he was reaching the front of the caravan line, where Blodwen Golly rode ahead of them all. Thankfully, she caught notice of Woe running up from behind. Knowing of his relative lack of knowledge of horses and mounts in general, she managed to intercept Opal, who reared up as she stopped the caravan. Woe held on for a tense moment, trying to get Opal’s mind at ease again. He reached into her tangle, and through sheer discipline soothed her angst and upset. He spoke the words to her, ”Careful girl… You’re alright. You’re safe.” He murmured into her ear, etheric honey flowing through his words into her ears. With a thud, her front legs fell to the ground, and Woe nearly startled at that, but maintained his calm enough to modulate it with her own growing sense of ease. He hemmed in that sense of calm for the horse, at least the moment, and severed her panic, removing those threads.

In a few moments, he managed to calm the Destiar, and Blodwen quirked a brow at him, ”Problem with your horse, Trooper Morandi?”

Woe frowned, and nodded his head, ”Apologies Captain. I don’t know what got into her…” So saying, he cast a look backward, to where Natalia and Charles had been moments before.

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Natalia Gregorios
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Wed Jun 02, 2021 3:29 pm

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Ashan 46, Arc 721

Their conversation ranged a bit. As they got further into it, she realized that while they had commonalities, there were enough differences to make things interesting. In her mind, that was a good thing. An open mind allowed for possibilities and something of the fantastical. The world she left behind was filled with closed minds, little imagination or intrigue and as such, she had been something of a unique creature.

She had, however, made one bumble. An unintentional one, at that, but still, something she wished to rectify. When he responded back to her that he was no better than anyone, she considered how to approach her response. It was a bit tricky, that. “Perhaps. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…’ How you see yourself and how others perceive you might be two different things. I said that not to falsely flatter, but out of true sincerity. I found beauty in what you said and thought to say something. I’m not naïve, Woe, nor will I ever say something to you that is false.”

That was about as good as an explanation as she had.

Comfortable silence. It was a concept that inferred that not all moments had to be filled with words. In elite society, events were not situations where comfortable silence was practiced. One needed to charming and entertaining, and silence was neither of those things, at least in the world Natalia left behind.

Yet, there she was, happy to engage in such silence with Woe. It was a curious thing, really.

And then the stranger arrived.

The man was irking her, but she did her best to not let it show for that would serve no purpose. Instead, she attempted to convey some sense of alarm to Woe. She did not know the man and the situation was making her extremely uncomfortable as he pushed on.

Opal bolted. Renaissance pranced about in response, causing her to spend a few trills attempting to calm him down so he didn’t follow suit.

Gripping her reins, Natalia prepared to chase after the pair and offer what limited help she could, but before that could happen, she found the stranger’s hands attempting to take her reins. The man smiled at her, but it wasn’t a good smile, although he tried to play it off as such. “Here. Let me help you with your horse. They just need a firm hand sometimes.”

Arching an eyebrow, she realized she was in trouble. Woe was indisposed with Opal and while she was surrounded by Elements, sounding an alarm was dramatic, especially if her instincts were wrong. Best to attempt to handle the situation herself. Moving the reins away from him, she steered Renaissance a few steps away. “We are fine. Thank you for the offer.” The words were spoken with a bit of ice, a tone she rarely used but, in that situation, she felt the need to use all the tools at her disposal. If the stranger were simply a fool, the ice would run him off.

Unfortunately, it did no such thing, by design. Judas (or Charles, as he had introduced himself to the pair) was a focused individual. Having followed Natalia from Scalvoris Town, he had become slightly annoyed upon learning that she was altering her plans yet again, apparently to accompany the Element patrol back to Scalvoris Town. The plan made no sense to him, but he wasn’t being paid to conjure sense from the young woman. He had a job to do and to do that, he needed information.

Unfortunately for him, his mark was giving none of that up. His employer had given Judas enough information to make him appealing to her, and yet she seemed to be cool and aloof. Fine. Perhaps a little brute force was required.

The problem was the other man. They had been conversing and as such, she wasn’t alone. When his horse bolted, it provided the opportunity for him to get a bit closer to her. Grabbing her reins hadn’t worked and as such, he felt his window of opportunity was shutting quickly. Best to retreat and battle another trial before she became suspicious enough to alert someone.

“Ah, as you wish, m’Lady. And I’ve just recalled that I have a piece of unfinished business back in Egilrun that I forgot about. Apologies. Maybe I will catch up with you in Scalvoris Town?” Again, the smile…was not a polite one, contrasting with the words he spoke. There was something….something….that made her skin crawl. Judas could be charming and alluring when he wished, but Natalia was not one of those jobs. Too bad, really. He would have had fun with her.

Turning his mount, ‘Charles’ began riding back towards Egilrun. In truth, he would wait until the caravan was far enough away that he could follow again without being seen.

Once departed, the young woman gripped her reins a bit and gently nudged Renaissance into a quick pace, striding to the front of the caravan to check on Woe and Opal, keeping a safe distance until it seemed things were back under control.

Her golden eyes scanned both, looking none the worse for wear, voice returning to the tone he knew. “Are you two alright?” First and foremost, she wanted to know if they were alright. Then it would be time to move on to other matters.

“I didn’t know that man. I know faces. I didn’t know him, but I might know what that was about. He tried to grab my reins after Opal bolted.”

If Woe looked, he would see her features projecting concern, possibly for him and Opal, but the expression was laced with calm. Natalia wasn’t panicked as she laid out the situation for him. Panic served no purpose.

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Woe
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Re: It's Not About the Destination...

Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:22 pm

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Woe was shaken a bit, as the emotional feedback from Opal fed back through their link. His link in Empathy had been strengthening of late with Opal, and he wondered why that was. She almost seemed, human-like in intelligence lately, as he peered into her tangle. Or at least as close to human intelligence as he'd seen in a beast. Still, he regulated her nerves as they fedback into his own, and he was able to with what self-control he could manage, stabilize her mood enough that she would calm down enough and let Blodwen catch her by the reins without argument.

Natalia was considerate enough to ask them how they were, for which Woe was grateful. It was always a good thing to ascertain the state of things after an upset. Woe frowned however, when he reached out to Natalia's tangle. She seemed to have a lingering... fear? For lack of a better identifier. Or perhaps a concern. Was it that strange man who'd been insinuating himself into their conversation?

Woe nodded to her, and Blodwen let go of Opal's reins when it became clear the creature was back under control. The Mortalborn wasn't used to traveling so fast on a horse, and it had given him a bit of a shock to see just how fast Opal was capable of moving in such a short time. "Blodwen, do you think it's worth following that man back to Egilrun? He could have injured her, seizing the reins like that?"

Blodwen looked to Natalia, and nodded, then fell back from the front of the group. "You have point then, Trooper Morandi. I'll see if I can catch him." Then she rode off, toward the eastern rode to try and catch up with the assailant.

Woe looked at Natalia, trying to gauge how shaken she was. Her concern seemed focused on him and Opal. This, frankly, embarrassed Woe to have someone concerned over his own well-being when theirs was also in jeopardy. Still, he was touched that she had some concern for him and his Destiar. "Are you alright? That man shouldn't have attempted to seize your reins... Perhaps he was the one that whipped Opal into movement. More likely though, it's just my ineptitude at riding..." Woe sighed.

He looked back to the rear of the traveling group, meeting eyes with Jerald who was accompanying them. It was a good thing he was here, to bring up the rear of the group. He was a feirce combatant, if not much of a conversationalist.

Blodwen went off on the eastern path, heading off and scouting out where 'Charles' had gone.

Meanwhile, Woe looked to Natalia. "That was a fair disruption. But I doubt he'll make trouble for us again, with Blodwen in pursuit of him."












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