Planning what we see

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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Faith Augustin Champion
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86th Zi'da, 716
He was sitting in the armchair reading when she came back in to their room and Faith smiled in delight at the sight of him. "Hello there, you," putting down the three books she'd had in her hands as she walked in, Faith shrugged off her coat, revealing a long white dress held in tightly at the waist. It had been, she considered, a long time since she had walked into the room where he was with what had seemed at the time to be the inevitable books in her arms. She put the books on to the table in their room, then hung her coat up with care. She'd had an early shift with the Order, having volunteered to take the shift which started in the middle of the night; it was her usual time for waking, after all and she'd rather be away from him whilst he slept and then come back for them to have the day together. "Did you get breakfast?" Faith considered that she might always fuss about his eating, which she understood was a complete hypocrisy on her part but she was fine with that. She moved over to greet him with a kiss and a caress of his cheek. "Good morning. How did you sleep?"

She perched herself on the chair adjacent to him and pulled the books over the table to in front of them both. "I went to the community garden yesterday and saw a soul. He had been on the way to propose to his love when his horse threw him and he died, over an arc ago. He'd been holding a ring for her in his hand and it had landed in the winter savory plants to the side of the road. It was anchoring him. He led me there, then I took the ring to her and told her what he was planning. He passed over, Padraig, and I saw it happen. It was beautiful." Faith knew that the whole thing about her and souls unnerved him, but she had done a good thing, she knew. Also, it was the first time that they knew for sure that she could, actually, help these souls. "I prayed to Vri for her in the arcs to come," she explained, her expression serious. "He teaches that tomorrow we will never have this trial again and we are choosing what we see when we look back on it. So, I've been finding out about things to do and places to go. Romance." Faith grinned at him and took his hand, gently caressing his thumb with her own. "I know I say it all wrong and I'm sorry. But I mean it whole heart."

Placing her spare hand on the books, Faith did not let his hand go at all as she spoke. "Sights, tales, legends and tourist guides to Rharne. It was a slow night, so I got to read. We have a number of options, but I would like to spend a whole day, then a whole night and then another whole day, just us. If you'd like to?" Faith's face lit in a smile, though, as she explained the next bit. "I have some ground rules, though, and they are non negotiable." Thus far, the only time he'd agreed to any of those he'd lied and they both knew it. He might well do the same again, depending on what they were and they both knew that, too. Bizarrely, what remained unspoken between them was the simple fact that, if he did, then it was alright. Not because lying to her was acceptable, but because they both knew that the only time he'd do it was if her 'non negotiable rules' were stupid to begin with.

"I don't care how much it costs. Spending nothing or a hundred onyx nell will have no impact on it's value for me. I am asking for time, not money. No murderers, no miracles of alchemy or whispering to ghosts. Just you and me. Nothing is a stupid idea and I really do not care what we do." From the topmost book she pulled a list, split into activities like eating, entertainment, shopping and she tapped the books with the pads of her finger. "Each one is numbered, and I've put a bookmark in here with the corresponding number so you can have a look and see if anything takes your interest?" Faith could organise, there was no doubting it and she had a system for almost everything. "But I maintain, it's whatever we want. We can just stay in this room for two trials if you want and grow weak from hunger," she grinned at him then let him have a look and see what he thought.
Last edited by Faith Augustin Champion on Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 820
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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It had taken some doing, falling back to sleep after she'd left the bed in the dark of night, and headed off to her shift. After arcs of sleeping alone in his bed, he'd quickly adapted to having her there, and missing her when she wasn't. Even while he slept.

Of course it was nothing new for her to rise in the night. But this was different. Ordinarily he could hear the faint sounds of her moving around the room. And he was used to waking up, finding her there beside him.

He wasn't complaining, there were shifts that needed filling and if she was up anyway, it made sense for her to do it. Still, when she returned to their room she'd discover he'd been up for breaks by then. He smiled when she walked in, and put down his book. "Good morning. I slept fine." He had, in fact, once he'd finally drifted off to sleep again. "How was your shift? Anything interesting happen?" As for eating, he had. When she was gone, he reverted to his usual. Two eggs, fried bread, a piece of fruit.

The story she told him when she settled in the chair nearby wasn't morbid. The first thing that struck him, was that it was tragic. And he thought that fate had dealt that man, and the woman he'd loved, a cosmic injustice. But he could also agree that the ending was at least some sort of correction, and the delivery of the ring must have given the woman some comfort. And the man's soul too, apparently.

"You've done a good thing." Of course she already knew that and didn't need him to say it. "If it helped him move on, then all the better. And I'm sure that giving her the ring, gave her comfort and some kind of closure." But romance? He smiled at that, having concluded that the concept, at least in the ordinary sense of the word, was something they might aspire to, but more frequently than not, it had managed to elude them both.

"Of course I'd like to," he said. One of these trials they'd overcome fate's tendency to foil their plans, and even when it did, it was always fun trying. As for her rules, these he could easily agree with. Money was no object, and they'd have their trial or two without those things that tended to distract them. The numbered list, the charts and columns however brought a grin to his face when he spied it. "You'd make a fine accountant," he teased her, while taking both the list and the book in hand.

He took a moment, looking over her list and cross referencing it with the books before making any suggestions. There were a number of things that looked interesting, depending on what she was in the mood for. "Well, we could walk to the Glass Quarter and visit the Lightening Dome to see what sort of entertainment is on offer," he suggested. "And then sit and have a meal at Tio's Tea House."

"Or, we could head out of the city and explore a little of the Ywyngyll Forest, to see if there's anything to the rumors of it being alive?" Whichever, or whatever suited his fancy, was fine by him. After all, her happiness was his and he'd enjoy whatever they did, so long as they did it together.
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"It was quiet. I made you this," pulling it out from one of the books, she handed him a small, thin bookmark which was carefully embroidered with a delicate border design of tiny keys, each one interlocking with the one above, top to tail in a quite beautiful pattern. It was done in dark colours, small and on an otherwise plain background. "It is seventy trials today since I lied to you about the key in Welles. I thought I'd make you something and since you always seem to have your nose in a book." a habit they both shared, but she took the opportunity to tease him, "I made you that with seventy very small keys. One for each time we have fallen asleep in each others' arms." Faith would maintain that she was about as romantic as a brick, yet once she had realised, she could do nothing except mark it somehow. "I thought about seventy one, but I don't think you slept in the woods and we were covered in mulch, so I decided it didn't count. Besides, I couldn't make the maths work, seventy was much better, I did twenty five each long side and ten each short, see?" She produced exquisite work, there was no doubting it and she put all her focus and skill into what she made for him; she'd worked on it a few nights now, but even she was pleased with the result.

But he'd slept and eaten so that was good. On the topic of the soul, though, "It felt fated," she was thoughtful as she said that, quiet and not sure of herself. "His horse did what mine did, just stopped and he described it to me, Padraig. He described the sensation of flying; I knew it and I saw it as he said it." So in the name of Vri and Famula both, Faith was more determined than ever that she would live every trill of the life she had, which included romance with the man sitting here with her. So, there were the books, and the lists and the marked pieces of paper.

"An accountant? That is a low blow," she grinned at him and then watched as he went through the information. She hadn't doubted for a moment that he would like to do what she suggested, but she was still pleased that he had said yes. How odd, she thought. It was unlike anything she had experienced, this whole relationship business. "Does it surprise you?" Faith wondered, whilst he was looking at the list. "This. Us. You, I suppose. I surprise myself a lot of the time about you." Her gaze focused on her hands, which she had clenched together in her lap. "I am yours. Of all the stupid ways for an ex slave to say I love you. But I am yours, completely and absolutely. It surprises me, but it's all the difference in the world when it's freely given and reciprocated too. I think you might have mentioned that to me, that morning in Welles, too. Evidently, I'm slow."

She looked at him, though, as she realised the suggestion he had made and Faith's face showed the amusement that she felt. "Padraig? Tio's Tea House is a tea house. The clue is in the name, love, it serves tea. We can't eat there. All we can do there is drink and all we can drink is tea." Faith raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "Do you have a yearning for tea? I can make us some if you like," she couldn't help but tease him, especially not when given such a wonderful opportunity. "I really don't care where we are or what we do. We can do whatever you please. Except, of course, eat in Tio's House of Tea. We can't do that." Ironically, her thought process was almost identical to his; she didn't care what they did ~ she just wanted to spend the time with him. "Either, or both of those sounds lovely, but we don't need to do anything. I'm trying to force romance when we have it in droves because I worry we have come on a holiday and I've dragged you around stalking serial killers, chasing dead souls and preparing medical rafts, when I know that you would choose to be with me in all those things so I have nothing to worry about. See? I can learn. We can do whatever you like. Literally." Faith pushed the books back towards him and there was ever such a slight challenge in her eyes as she did. It was rare, that look, but getting more as time went on.
word count: 809
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He'd become lost in the list and all the possibilities, for they'd do with their trial, and maybe the next one. But when Faith told him she'd made something for him, and produced the bookmark, Padraig looked up from it all and smiled.

Taking it from her, listening to her explanation of how it had come to be, he admired all the work, and the heart that had gone into its making. "It's wonderful, Faith." Even had it not been created for him, he'd have admired the quality, the detail. That it had been, made it all the more wonderful.

"It's perfect. You're very clever you know," he added with a fond grin. "The keys. I'll admit, that evening when you handed me the one and said it was mine, implying mine alone, I couldn't have been any more frustrated. All the better a surprise when I discovered the truth. Thank you. It's wonderful."

It had surprised him a little, back when she'd first said it. She was his. But then he was also hers, and it made perfect sense. Maybe not for others, but certainly for the two of them. "It did a little. At first," he admitted. "But then it occurred to me that we seem to have developed our own style of being, similar to our own version of what's romantic and what isn't. Unique to all of Idalos, that's what it is."

But a tea house that only served tea? He frowned then and considered it. They couldn't eat there? "Not at all? I'd assumed that a tea house would also serve things like pastries, cakes and maybe sandwiches. Just tea. How dull. No, scratch that off the list then."

"Just tea might have been a change of pace, but let's try something a little more interesting," he decided. "A stroll in the woods might remind us both of our first outing together. And with luck, this one ought be less eventful, and a little more romantic. It's nice out, not quite as cold out as it's been lately, and the sun is shining. Ywyngyll Forest then?" he suggested.
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"It was mean, I know," she admitted truthfully. His praise she waved off without a word, but she was pleased and it showed. "I had tried to seduce you a number of times and I was starting to think we were going to spend our lives living like a pair of siblings. I decided that a less subtle approach was needed. Also," he knew her too well for her to leave out the other, and much more genuine reason for the one key ploy, "I was starting to get a niggling worry that you had no desire for me at all. So, by springing it on you like that, I'd know. You were always so careful around me, so concerned to not rush me, that I should be sure. I needed to tell you I was." As so often was the way, though, she was better at showing him with strange gestures, rather than saying the words. "Besides, if I'd told you, you might have tripped and broken your nose in your haste running up the stairs."

His realisations about them, how they worked as a couple and the very nature of their relationship were in complete agreement with her own. Unique to Idalos? Maybe. She certainly had to concede that theirs was a relationship like no other she knew. Then, she hardly had a whole lot of relationships to base her opinions off. Lady Elyna and Malcolm were undoubtedly in love, but yet they did not make each other happy by Lady Elyna's own admission. Jamal and Mildred were as strange, and unpleasant, a couple as she thought could exist. She considered it for a few moments before she realised that those two were the only two couples that she knew as couples. Kylar and Crimson, of course,but she had not met them together.

The expression on his face when he dismissed the tea house caused a snort of laughter to escape her. "Lots of types of tea. It is a house of tea, you know. Not just... here's a cuppa, bring your own biscuits. Look, you can do a tea-tasting menu. But you're right, that sounds dull." He rose beautifully to the challenge of deciding where to go and she nodded her head with delight. "Yes, there. I'm not sure that's how you pronounce it, but lets stick with it. So, are we going to spend the night there? We brought the bedroll and things. Or should we get back here for the night ~ it might be more sensible. What shall we pack?" Faith's expression told the simple truth of it; it could have been the tea house or the forest, it could have been the cathedral, the library or a stroll through the streets, she was quite delighted either way.

But what they packed? Well that was organisation and that was something Faith loved almost as much as the actual outing itself.
word count: 502
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"You thought I didn't want you?" Padraig asked in surprise, his expression saying it all. Nothing could have been further from the truth from the very beginning. Even before Tristan had freed her. But she was probably right. If she'd told him about the key from the start, he definitely wouldn't have been content to linger downstairs, speaking over tea with her friends.

He smiled a little and shook his head, wondering at the time they'd spent misunderstanding each other. "I think I was so busy giving you the space I wanted you to have, focusing so much on that, that I missed any signals to the contrary," he admitted. "Not sure what that says about my skills as a scientists. We're supposed to notice those kinds of things you know."

"They should serve biscuits, at least," he maintained, referring to the tea house once again. Padraig would bet the place didn't get much business. Maybe women liking to sit and gossip, or someone looking for a quiet place to study come to think of it.

But to stay after dark in the forest, or no? Padraig frowned and then shrugged. "We're not familiar with the place, and it's bound to get bitter cold once darkness falls. We should probably plan on heading back before sunset." On the other hand, if the two of them had learned anything by now, it was that fate and happenstance rarely left their plans intact and unchanged.

"It might be wise to pack for an overnight stay, just in case? I'd hate for something to happen to prevent us getting back, and have no way to shelter ourselves through the night." Right, so the bedroll, food, a way to get a fire started quickly and anything else they could think of, he'd help her pack it all up in her bottomless sack. Very convenient, that thing.

"Ready?" he said, once they'd gathered up what they needed. And if she was, he'd pull on his coat, his gloves and his hat, and the two of them could be off towards the edge of the city.
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"No. Yes. Maybe a little?" she admitted with a rueful smile. His explanation of him missing signals, though, caused her to shake her head and look at him with a serious expression. "It is nothing to do with your skill as a scientist. I needed that time, much more than I realised at the time." she took his hand, her expression showing her mixed emotions. "I wasn't really free. Sometimes, I'm stil not, I know that." She was getting there, though, more each trial and Faith had no doubt that he would be happy to be with her, walking the slow steps she needed to take. The reason why she was so sure was at least partly because of the time he had given her, though there were a hundred reasons in truth. "It was the morning of the trial we moved me into the spare room that did it." Faith smiled at him, recalling their old morning routine and the volumous white nightgown which hadn't made it out of the wardrobe since they'd shared a room. "I kissed you, properly kissed you when we said good morning and it was like nothing I'd ever felt"

It had led to some real reflection on her part, genuine soul searching. "I realised it had to be my choice, because you'd already made yours. I knew you love me, but I needed to realise that it wasn't that you didn't want me, it was that you were putting what I needed above what you wanted," it sounded so obvious, but she'd had no experience at that sort of thing and it had taken her a while. "I had no experience of that, I was learning." She grinned at him as she recalled the way they had been together. "So you noticed a lot more than I did. You knew what I needed when I would have told you differently." Faith entwined her fingers around his, looking down at their hands there together and an impish expression crossed her face, "Besides, it was worth the wait, wasn't it though?"

At his grumbled assertion about the tea house at least serving biscuits, she chuckled. "They just serve tea, Padraig. Let it go," with a smile she considered a simple fact, "We're going to have to go there, you know. Just to see what the fuss is about. To drink tea and nothing else." He seemed to find the lack of foodstuff there personally offensive and she found that response incredibly endearing. "I'll sneak in some cake and we can eat it under the table and be rebellious, if you like. Or we could openly rebel and just eat cake whilst refusing to drink their tea."

It made sense, though, to come back for the night and yet to pack for an overnight stay. She put the medical kit in there, too, not willing to leave the room without it these trials. Pulling on her own coat, when he asked if she was ready she thought about it, apparently quite seriously for a moment, then nodded,"Aye."

West of the city it was and the cold winds left them in no doubt at all that Cylus was truly on its way. They had decided that they would be staying here for the coldest season and, as they walked in companionable silence, Faith wondered what this place would look like, covered in snow. What she had read in the books she had brought back to their room told that the place was certainly more than just a forest. As it came into sight, though, Faith looked in amazement. She had seen the forest in Venora before, but it was nothing like this. "They say that it's like it's one living, breathing organism, though that's probably just Mattieus being goofy, he does that." Mattieus was one of her fellow medics at the Order of the Adunih, she'd mentioned him in passing a few times and always in a positive, if somewhat 'goofy', light. "I have never been for a romantic stroll in a forest. Is there an etiquette I should be aware of?"
word count: 709
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"I remember that morning. That kiss," Padraig told her. And he did. It had driven him mad, and every night and morning after that one until they'd finally come together. But yes, it had need to be her choice. She'd known he was ready, really she'd known it from the very beginning. Or had she? He hadn't been the best at making his feelings known. He still wasn't if he was being honest. But that was then, and they were in a very different place now.

"We were both learning," he told her. But was it worth the wait? "Every second of it." As for the tea house, he could let it go. But he still believed the place was making a mistake. Consider the revenue they could bring in with just a few biscuits and cakes. Something to cleanse the palate between tasting this tea or that one. He preferred open rebellion, he told her with a grin, to measures taken on the sly.

As they approached the forest, it was clear that the place was a very different one from the woods outside Andaris that they'd become stranded in overnight. He wasn't sure what it was except for the way that it looked. But maybe there was something to what she was saying, what Mattieus had told her. "Isn't it anyway? I mean, if it was just an ordinary forest?" he wondered. "The soil, the trees and springs. The animals that live there, doesn't all of it combined make for a living thing all on its own?"

But he knew what Faith meant. Something beyond the norm. But that remained to be seen. "I'm not sure what makes the best romantic stroll in a forest," he considered. "Maybe we ought consider the things it shouldn't include instead. Like bandits, a swim in an ice cold stream..." The list went on. But by then they'd reached the edge of the forest and pausing there, he considered a narrow path that went on for a dozen yards or so before splitting in two. One into thicker growth, the other towards the sound of a babbling stream somewhere in the distance. "You choose," he told her, and would let her lead the way.
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"I suppose we'll always be learning, really, about each other. You are very complex and I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend you." Odd, of course, was another word for what he was and her smile was most genuine when he said that it was worth the wait. It was for her too, and it was quite simple. "I had to know that I could give you all of me. We both deserve all in." She had known that he was all in from the first trial, but what she hadn't understood was what that meant. She'd believed she did, but the distance they had travelled in those few months was a world. Certainly further than she believed she could have ever achieved alone.

She chuckled, though, as she looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "You're still chuntering about that teashop. Just, in your head. I can hear it, you know." Faith stopped and looked at him with a grin, then, as she realised the truth of that. "That's typical. I needed to hear your thoughts before, not now." They were, in fairness, written all over his face. Open rebellion? Faith shook her head, "I do not know what loving you has done to me, but I would be quite content to go and stuff my face with cake there. I would have done it before if ordered to, but now? I find devilment in it. I can only conclude that you are a very good influence you know." Faith decided in that moment that they would make it to that teashop before they left this city. To eat cake.

Right now, however, they were making their way to the forest itself and Faith had to resist the urge to skip with excitement as they got closer. She considered his point on the forest being an organism and nodded. "I suppose so, when you put it that way. I think he means more literally, but he is prone to rather tall tales." It didn't matter to her either way, though and she told him so. It was a beautiful, if windy, trial and they had nothing to do yet all the time to do it in. She smiled at what they should not do and shook her head. "I wouldn't trade that trial for the world. It was the first time I held your hand or slept in your arms. I told you I was a teapot in a hideous cosy and I lost my shoe." Her hand in his held on just a little tighter, "And for literally the first time in my life someone stood to protect me. I was in a whole world of trouble in that moment, because I was in love and unable to act on it but I would not change it. It was my most romantic trial thusfar." Faith meant that, completely and it showed on her face. Then, she considered further and added, with a wicked and utterly mischievous grin on her face, "You are rubbish at dating a girl, that being the case."

There, though, in front of them was a choice. Easy and pretty and babbling streams, or the denseness of the forest? It didn't take her a trill to answer. That way," she pointed towards the denser undergrowth. It was thicker and a little darker, but the groaning of the yew trees was unmistakeable from this distance and she was fascinated by it. "Can you hear that? Its like they're talking, do you think?" Faith smiled at him and tilted her head to listen. "Lets go deeper in and see if we can make out the words."
word count: 627
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"Rubbish at dating? On second thought, I disagree," Padraig argued as they happened upon the fork in the path. "A leisurely stroll through the woods, a night under the stars, a refreshing swim and stimulating conversations with interesting passersby," he added, invoking some of the many disasters they'd stumbled across during their previous outing. "I think I've set a new standard for dating and romance don't you?" Something for others to aspire to, he meant, though he was teasing her.

It was a shame though, criminal really that until that time, that moment, Faith had never felt truly safe and protected before. He'd move Idalos itself, if it meant he could keep her feeling that way indefinitely. "That way then," he agreed when she chose the narrower way. The undergrowth was thick, the trees tall, and the foliage altogether formed sort of a living tunnel for them to pass through.

Padraig became more watchful as a result. The trial was nice enough, and while the treetops were covered in snow, here on the ground there was less coverage due to the denseness of the forest. As for whether or not it was truly a living thing, he shrugged. "Before I met you, or at least before you began seeing and hearing spirits, I'd have said that if Mattieus believed that, then it meant that his cheese had slid right off his cracker."

"But," he added then more seriously. "Maybe there's something to it. Maybe," Padraig considered, "the combined energy of every living thing that has resided in, or passed through a place, remains once they're gone." He stopped then, pausing to listen, to hear what she was hearing. He grinned a little. "Possibly. But I would think that the mind and the imagination has some part in it." He was game nonetheless, and urged her on along the path.

Most likely, all they were hearing was the wind passing through the tops of the trees and there'd be no getting closer, no matter how far they walked. It did though sound a little like voices, now he thought about it.
word count: 358
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