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Dio Meets Faith

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Arc 716, 8th trial of Zi'da
Dio looked down at the map in his hands with confusion. The man he had bought it off had sworn it was accurate, and after trying to figure out where to go from the harbour to the city proper less than a week ago, he knew he needed it.

He had just started in the shop, but his boss had given him a trial off every few. He wanted to get out and meet some people, and had heard of an Inn that was supposed to have decent food and talk, but he had somehow gotten turned around.

The streets were winding, crooked things that twisted on themselves, though thankfully the gates separated Midtown from Lowtown, so there was no danger of him wandering into a dangerous area.

Already he had got some looks from those passing him by, partly for his odd, dark blue robes among the sea of maroon, partly for his height, but mostly due to the massive cracks that wound their way across his skin. For his part, Dio found their smooth, unblemished skin just as disconcerting. In Nashaki he was used to seeing a few, but Qi'ora were common there. His skin marked him as an outsider here, and he wasn't sure if he liked it.

He groaned as the map flipped up in the wind, covering his face. His long arms struggled to control it, finally pulling it down and struggling to make sense of the web of black lines covering the page.

He looked up, his gaze hopeless as he looked at the familiar buildings around him.

Have I been here before?

A voice cut through the noise of those walking around him, and he sighed. It was the sound of a nearby bard, but he had recognized the sound of it. Somehow he had walked in a massive circle, wasting nearly two breaks without finding what he was looking for. He took a breath, calming himself, and prepared to ask a passerby for help.

"Excuse me, I've managed to get lost, and was wondering if you would be willing to help me out?"
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Wrapped up against the Zi'da weather, Faith was making her way back home. She had been working at the bakery and putting in a lot of time to get finished everything that she needed to, but the young woman was pleased that everything was done. Pushing her gloved hands into the pockets of her coat, Faith was more or less lost in her own thoughts. There were some things that she needed to buy at the market, she had books to pick up from the library and a few other general errands to run. The young woman smiled underneath the scarf which was wrapped around her, pulling herself into the warmth of her clothes as much as was possible and enjoying the feeling of contentment which she had these trials.

It was not particularly busy and Faith was aware that she was dawdling. Possibly, she considered, this was meandering and doing so without a purpose. Of course, she always had a list of things to do running around in her head but it was nice sometimes just to walk and think and feel, she considered. It was all still very new to her and she experienced moments of contentment heavily punctuated with moments of terror and feeling overwhelmed. But when those negative thoughts and feelings came upon her, Faith was learning the techniques she needed to put them away. She had spent a lifetime doing that, putting aside and pushing away thoughts, emotions and ideas, but this she found harder than anything. Because she was pushing aside and trying to step out of the very mindset which she had held for all of her twenty arcs. It was difficult and she took steps backwards as well as steps forward, but she was changing, she knew. It wasn't quick or quick enough for her, but it was movement and that would have to do.

Broken out of her internal reverie, Faith realised that someone was speaking to her and she turned and smiled. The person speaking to her was carrying some kind of map and looked frustrated with it, himself or life. He was also cracked, or more precisely he looked like his skin was covered in cracks. Faith had never seen a person who looked like that before and she noted it with interest. It was, however, as interesting to her as his clothes, his eye colour and the rest of him. "Hello", she replied and although only her pale blue eyes were visible under the many layers of clothes she wore, her smile showed in them. "I am Faith and I live here. It would be my pleasure to help you. It is a confusing place, but I know my way around quite well." She looked at the map and a gleam of humour lit her eyes. "I am afraid the map has not been helpful. Perhaps you could tell me where you are trying to find and we can work it out between us?".
word count: 505
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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The woman was entirely wrapped in clothing, only her bright eyes peeking out from between the layers of cloth she wore. He had been surprised at the cold, at first, though his body soon adapted, and he found the chill rather bracing now. The worst was the lack of sun- the city seemed to be under a constant layer of cloud and snow.

She seemed to be staring, and he forced himself to conceal his distaste. Damn racist Ryn..

He let a small smile cross his face as she spoke, greeting her in kind.

"Hello Faith, it is nice to meet you. My name is Dio," he said, extending a long-fingered hand for her to shake. "I'm glad for the help. I have just moved here, and have not become used to the streets yet." His voice was calm and even as he spoke, leaning over slightly to speak to the woman who was over a foot smaller than him.

He held out the crumpled map, struggling slightly as the wind gusted and folded it over. With her help, he opened it up and gave a small, wry grin at the statement.

Of course I would find the most useless map in the entire city.

"If that is the case, then this is of no use at the moment. Perhaps I can find another use at a later point in time," he said, carefully folding up the map and sticking it in his long robe. "I am looking for an Inn, I believe it was called 'Ye Old Inn'?"

Dio cocked his head, studying Faith as he waited for her to respond. "I just arrived recently from Nashaki, so needless to say it has been an... interesting transition. The cold took some time to get used to, but I have found myself enjoying it. How about yourself? Have you been in Andaris long, Faith? What things should a new arrival go to see?" His questions were spaced out, but he was happy just to have found someone to talk to. Most of those in the city seemed more than happy to ignore him, so he was ready to get all the conversation he could out of this woman.
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Faith took his hand and shook it with a smile. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Dio," she seemed entirely genuine as she said that and added, "I hope your stay here will be a happy one. It is an interesting place, certainly." She chuckled as he and she wrestled with the map and then she looked down at it and realised that it was no use to her, anyhow. How did one actually understand those things? It was beyond her, in truth. Faith smiled, though and listened to where he wanted to go. "Yes, I know it. Are you staying there? It's this way."

As they walked, Faith was quite happy to point out landmarks, things that would help him navigate the place. He asked about how long she'd lived here and Faith smiled, "I arrived here in Ymiden of arc 715. I came from Athart, where I had been since birth." It was entirely factual, if somewhat lacking in details. He probably, she considered, really didn't want to know. "Have you come here to live or just visiting?"

Turning the corner, she pointed out a tower which would help him get his bearings. "I have an abysmal sense of direction, I need to use landmarks. I am sorry, I do not mean to be rude, but I do not believe I have ever seen anyone of your race before. I imagine people stare?" She smiled and considered what to see. That was a tricky question, in some ways, but her answer was immediate. "The library, it is a wonderful place and I love it there. There is the monastary, too, and the university. The court is very impressive in its architecture. I could show you around a little if you wanted to? I'm happy to."

After all, she reasoned, her time was her own and a random act of kindness to a stranger was a good thing to do.She shot him a grin, then, her expression mischievous even under all the layers. "I will get us to Ye Olde Inn first, though, then showing you around can coincide with getting a warm drink." Immortals, but she hated the cold.
word count: 374
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
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Dio nodded at the concealed woman, trying hard to hear her muffled voice through the layers of cloth that separated them.

"Wonderful! Please, lead the way," he said as Faith confirmed she knew where it was.

He smiled and nodded as she answered his questions, taking note of the landmarks and allowing a polite silence to fill the space between them as they navigated the slushy street.

"I too have a bad sense of direction. I appreciate you pointing them out on the way here. But you are correct, people do have a tendency to stare. I think you do not have many of my kind here, based on the looks I have received." Dio said carefully, his back prickling. How was she feeling about him? Thoughts of ambush and beatings, rumors he had heard while still living in Nashaki, danced through his mind.

He unconsciously took a half step back, looking around as if he was going to see a gang of ill-dressed ruffians marching towards him, patting clubs into the hands. When Faith continued speaking, he felt himself relax, though he was still nervous.

"That would be marvelous. I have a house here now- I am actually working as an apprentice jeweler and glass blower for a small shop somewhere around here, so I was simply going to the Inn as I heard it was a good place to hear music. But the library- that sounds interesting. Actually, all of it sounds interesting, to tell you the truth. And a guide would be wonderful."


He nodded, and followed Faith inside the Inn, buying two hot drinks. He pushed his coins over the counter before Faith had a chance to argue- she was helping him, and it was the least he could do.

Drinks in hand, they left the Inn in search of the Sights of Rynmere.
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Faith nodded her head when he said that he had noticed the staring. "They used to stare at me too," she explained with a smile. "I think it is just that people find it hard to accept what they do not understand. I have always thought it was best just to judge people by their actions alone." It made sense to her and she did not know, or care, what race he was. It was very much not her business and that was good enough for her. He seemed nervous and Faith looked at him with calm silver eyes. "You do not need to worry. We are sticking to main streets, out in the open. Perhaps, were we in an alleyway in a rougher area of the city, you would need to be concerned. But you are quite safe. Besides," she added with no small amount of sass considering she was five foot four and wrapped up in as much clothing as possible, "I'm scrappy."

When he said what he did though, Faith's eyes lit with fascination. "Oh, I would love to learn both of those skills. Especially glassblowing, I have always admired the skill it takes. Plus, both of those people work somewhere very warm, maybe that's why. Oh, does your place of work provide lessons, do you know? I would love to learn!" More than that, she could do so now, which was quite delightful to the young woman. To be free meant to be free to learn and it was a wonder to her. Of course, there were others.

Inside the Inn she shrugged out of her coat. When she did, why people stared at her would become apparent as the slave brand on her neck was more than visible. There were others, too, on her shoulders which he could see just vaguely through the sheen of her blouse. But she didn't comment on them and she chatted, quite happily, telling him about how Rynmere was a kingdom, seven noble families, Emperor and Emperess too. She asked questions, also, about the glassblowing specifically, but also the jewel crafting. Both of them seemed to intrigue her.

Then, though, wrapping herself back up and making sure that she thanked him most politely for the drink, she started him on the tour. The Monastary, the Library, the University. Each place, she'd tell him a little snippet about the place, pointing out where the Jacadons' nested and so on above them. "So, why did you come to Andaris, Dio?" Faith wondered. "Do you know anyone here?"
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"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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He looked Faith up and down, a hint of a smile crossing his face.

"I am not sure if scrappy is enough. Qi'ora are forbidden to fight. I would sooner die than fight someone." He spoke lightly, as if it were of no significance, but he knew the effect it would have anyone who didn't know about his race. Most scorned them as cowards, but their commitment to nonviolence was far deeper than that. It was a source of pride for them- a steadfast refusal to allow the baseness of the world to corrupt their artistic spirit.

Belatedly, he realized Faith was speaking again. "Oh? Well in that case, I am sure we could arrange something. I am not sure if my bosses will agree with that, but I would be more than willing to attempt to set it up." He paused, thinking things over. "I am not sure how much I will be able to teach you, however."

Dio ducked beneath the low doorframe, cursing whoever had made it. There were support beams running every foot or so that were the perfect height to take him out. As long as they stayed standing, he resigned himself to stooping awkwardly. He turned away from his inspection of the roof only to have his jaw drop open at the sight of the brand. A Slave? He was floored by the realization that the woman was a slave, yet spoke to his face. Confused, he stopped her with a gentle hand laid on her shoulder. "Are you a slave?"

He didn't see any signs of her slavery, but to abduct another man's slave was highly rude, and Dio felt a pit of worry begin to eat at his stomach. With his luck, she would be the slave of the king. He continued quickly before she could reply, "I apologize for having interrupted you on your task, and I no longer require your services. I wish you to tell your master that he has my sincerest apologies, and I am willing to make any reparations necessary." His voice was quiet and low, pitched only so Faith could hear. The music and raucous singing drowned out any chance of anyone else overhearing in the crowded bar.

At the bar, while drinking he listened carefully as Faith gave him the rundown of Rynmere. He mentally filed it all away, trying to keep track of the sea of names she spewed at him. He told her of the basics of glassblowing, making sure she realized that the Qi'ora would never give away the secrets of their glassblowing that made it incredibly strong and resilient.

Throughout the tour, Dio kept up the slow, easy conversation. This kind of interaction was perfect for him. It wasn't fast, nor was it urgent. It gave him time to measure his reaction and choose his words carefully without appearing rude.

"Well truth be told, I ran out of options in Nashaki. I need to apprentice to someone, however through a combination of bad luck, my father's decisions, and poor choices I had alienated nearly every craft master. I need to earn my second name somewhere, and Andaris seemed as good a place as any. But no, I don't know anyone here. It is rather intimidating in a city this large, but I think I am making my way reasonably well."

He told Faith the name of his shop, hoping she knew where it was. He carefully described what he remembered seeing from his window, hoping that it would lead to him returning safe and sound. It was beginning to get dark, and it was high time he retired for the trial. He wasn't a fan of the dark, and that was the biggest downside of winter. He craved the sun, and knew he would be spending the next few trials in the back room of the shop, soaking in the rays.

Maybe this woman would come by to get some lessons?
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"Are you? Who forbids you?" Faith wondered. If it was choice, freely made, then it was an admirable thing on his part as far as she was concerned. If the choice was made for him by another, then the decision, therefore the responsibility and the repurcussions were not his either. When he said he would teach her though, she beamed a delighted smiled and looked at him with genuine gratitude in her eyes. "Thank you! I would very much appreciate that. You are most kind."

When he saw her brands, though, his reaction was very clear and very obvious. Faith looked at him and her silver-grey eyes locked with his. "I was born and trained in the slave schools in Athart and I assure you that, should it be against my owner's conscious or unconscious wishes, I would not have done it. When I was a slave, that is. I am free now by my last owner's hand, for my services." His words were genuine and she did not doubt them, but he thought very highly of himself if he thought that she would have ever, even for a trill, done something which was not acceptable to her Master when she had been a slave. There was a strange and probably quite unhealthy sense of pride, at least as far as Padraig would be concerned, as she recognised that fact. Has she still been owned, her behaviour would have been approrpiate at all times. Athart, after all, trained its slaves properly. When she had been a slave, as now she was free, she did what she did in Famula's name and in Famula's name she served.

How very dare he?

Once, however, that was cleared up, and therefore forgotten as far as she was concerned, Faith was happy to show him around. It took a few breaks but she did not mind, Padraig was in work and it was good to be kind, she knew. So, she showed him around Rynmere and pointed out each of the sights to him.

When he gave her the address of his place of work, Faith took him back and when he mentioned the lessons again she looked at him and checked that he was happy, and meant it. If he did, though, then she would indeed arrive at the allocated time and smile at him in a friendly manner."I brought some food, if it is acceptable?" Inside the small wrapped parcel was home made bread, meat, home made pickles and such to make a delicious sandwhich. "To say thank you. I am excited to learn." Faith beamed and the simple truth of that could not be denied.
word count: 457
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

~ Rharne HQ
Dust Quarter Satellite Clinic ~ Order of the Adunih~Soup Kitchen & Community Center
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