Decisions

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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88th Zi'da 716
Fifteen trials. That was how long it had been since Faith and Padraig had experienced their world being turned upside down. The visitor to their room at the Order of the Adunih had told them that Faith was pregnant with Tristan Venora's child and, though they had seen it briefly, the illusion which covered her was back in place for however long it might be. They didn't know how long that was going to last and frankly, Faith didn't care. Because, she had told Padraig that the man or being she had thrown a hairbrush at was right, she thought. She felt it, and with her Zuuda mark she had an understanding of her own blood which meant that, when she really concentrated, she felt that he was right. But of course, it could be that she was letting her imagination run riot. But when one the Immortals, as they both believed it was, came to you and told you that, it was as well to take them at their word and they had agreed that they would move forward accepting what they had been told.

In the time since the Immortal had visited them, Faith had been more quiet, more introspective and thoughtful, withdrawn even. Except from him. The touch of his hand pulled her out of whatever reverie she lost herself in and, when they were alone together she was quite content, just prone to not speaking too much. If she'd had to explain it, she'd lost her chatter. So, she made clothes and things for them for Cylus, she read and she was fine as long as he was there too, also busy with his own distractions.

It had taken fifteen trials and they hadn't talked about it. But that was because he was waiting for her to be ready, she knew. So, she breathed in and prayed to Famula for the strength to do what she needed to do, to serve the greater good as Famula demanded and to Vri she prayed that her love for this man, and his for her, was as strong as she knew it to be. "I devised a system." Faith explained, the first words spoken between them for well over a break and closer to two. But they both understood the silence and more than a few times their eyes had met as they both glanced to check on the other at the same time and they shared a moment, a soft smile and then got back to what they were doing. "With marbles, a bag and a bowl. But we're not children, so we don't really need that. Plus, the marbles are ones that we have when children have swallowed them and we have to get them out. I mean, we wash them, but still." She gave a slight smile, the best that she'd managed since what she referred to as 'the hairbrush incident'.

"We need to make some plans. I've made skirts and dresses with ties which I can undo if this bump reappears. It's probably psychological, but I feel so tired. I think I need to think about work and what to do." If it was psychological, it was powerfully so; her sleep had lasted as long as his for the past twelve or more nights. No early morning rising for her. "I mean, it was a good system. I might re use it in some other circumstance. But, I'm able to talk about it, now, without descending into hysteria and the logical side of me is kicking in."

She breathed in and spoke quietly, looking at him and not dropping her gaze. "I've thought about it for fifteen trials and my opinions haven't changed. I don't want Tristan involved or any of the Venoras. Zvezdana, the woman at the Cathedral? She's a Venora. One of the other medics said yestertrial that there's a new doctor in Rharne called Alistair. Lord Venora is a doctor. It might be a coincidence." Faith didn't believe in those, as a rule. "I wrote to Tristan when we first got here, too. He knows where we are. The way I see it we can do one of two things, we can hide here and hope or we can leave."

Sighing, she pulled her knees up rested her elbows on them, burying her head in her hands for a moment. "I hate this. So much. But." Lifting her head she looked up at him and did her best to smile. "I don't see how we can have any medical care since no one can see it. I need to think about my work and how much I can do but we need money to live. Also, there's the where are we going to be conversation. Three starters. What do you think?" She looked at him and said, most sincerely, "Please don't tell me it's up to me you don't mind. I know you don't. I don't either but we need to decide and I need us to be deciding. If we'd used the system, I'd be calling marble now." Her smile was genuine but Faith was tired in her bones and she looked it.
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Fifteen trials felt like a lifetime, and the blink of an eye. But Padraig had to admit, at least to himself, that he liked the illusion. As long as there was no telltale swell to see and confront head on, it was easy to tell himself that it was all an illusion after all. That none of it had happened, and that it wasn't. And that was much more preferable to was. There wasn't anything about was that he liked.

But he only had to look at Faith to know that it was true after all, and that sooner or later they'd have to sort out where they went from here. Padraig had discovered a very real knack for avoidance. Not of her, but of the situation and the reality. He'd been distant too. Not from Faith, but distant all the same. And quieter than his usual. He'd brought back stacks of books from the library and buried himself in them and his notes. And considered all sorts of new concoctions as an alchemist and chemist, very few of which had come to anything with his mind constantly turning back to other things.

But this time, when she looked at him for a good long time and was so quiet before finally speaking, he knew he could no longer avoid the conversation they'd be having. "Marbles?" he asked curiously. But yes, they'd need to make plans. "Stress, probably," he said, when she mentioned how tired she'd become. Both of them slept after all, but not particularly well.

So there was one, possibly two Venoras right there in the temple. Which was inconvenient, since she was clear, and so was he, that none of them should know the truth of it. "Traveling will be a hardship, here in the dead of winter," he observed with a deep frown. "But hiding right under their noses?" That was a different sort of challenge and he wasn't sure which was the larger one.

Better to start with the easier questions. "I've got a little money. And I can get work. One, even two jobs." If they were going to opt for staying put, working would be something to do, to stop him sitting and thinking on it till the thoughts drove him to distraction. "I think we're going to have to stay put, at least till the weather grows warmer and more agreeable. But if your middle swells again, I'm not sure that special clothing will hide that. Surely you'll go mad, secreted away in our room for the duration. And when it comes, you'll need help. Is there anyone in the city we can trust?" he asked.
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She'd agreed that stress was probably the cause of her tiredness and she did her best to smile at him, to try just for a moment to have anything resembling normal but she couldn't and she lapsed back into silence for a while. She thought about it and then looked at him and spoke, soft and clear, her hands clasped together. "I have money. Just over one and a half thousand gold. You don't need to work if you don't want to but if you want to get away, have time to yourself or you're worried about money or going stir crazy here, it's up to you." She looked around and gestured at the room they were staying in. "But I'll need to keep working for the Order, if we're to stay here. Which is going to make staying in hiding difficult. Although, I've got my hood now, at least." Each level of the Order had a coloured cloak, she'd told him before, first without a hood, then with one, then with a gold trim one. Everyone started green and that was what she wore, but her hood had a gold trim these trials and just before this whole storm had landed she'd mentioned that she thought maybe next season she'd graduate to a blue cloak. They seemed pleased with her work, after all. Not so likely to happen now, she recognised.

"Am I being silly about the Venoras, Padraig?" Faith didn't think she was, not at all, but she had to be clear. She chewed her lower lip a little and then explained it the best she could. "This baby is a bastard to a noble family. That is a significant dishonour to their name and a threat to their heritage and the purity of their line. Tristan has an illegitimate brother who was disowned by the family and his mother cast out in shame. He's very angry at his grandmother for how she behaved and the consequences it had on his brother." Faith sighed and ran her hand through her hair, looking at him with an expression which told more than her words. "It's made worse that he didn't even sire his illegitimate spawn on a person, but a slave. It's slightly above bestiality in their eyes but only just. Literally" If he was under any illusion that she was joking, her face told a very different story. "Tristan was clear with me before he took me to Venora that, if it was discovered that I was his bed-slave, then a whipping would be the least of my worries." This time the sigh came from her boots and she knew what he was thinking, as surely as she was.

"It's something I've struggled with since I was freed, about my own parents, Padraig. They were free and I never understood why they'd put their child in that situation. It feels like I'm being punished for thinking that because here, I'm no better am I?" Whichever way she turned, though, she was trapped. Bitterness twisted her mouth into a grimace and she shook her head to clear it of the thoughts which rattled around in her brain. "Giving it to Tristan is the same as giving it to them. I mean, he'd raise it I'm sure he would although how the Immortals only know. He wouldn't abandon it and he'd do his best." Faith had never felt so angry and bitter about anything as she did about this. She had realised something, though, something quite clear and she spoke it. "I know how this sounds, but it's how I feel. He's taken so many things from me, so many parts of me that are lost forever, I don't want him to have any more of me and, as much as I don't like it, this baby is part of me."

He was right, though, travel was out. When he asked her about going mad secreted away here, Faith smiled a slight smile and shook her head. "You forget. I was only allowed out to meet people in Ymiden of this arc. That's," a quick calculation in her head and she continued, "three hundred and thirty four trials that I've been allowed out in comparison to the rest of my life. Before that, I was in the back room in Jamal's for an arc and for the sixty two trials it took us to get here from Athart I was not allowed out of Jamal's room on the boat. Athart was worse. This is just fine." She reached out and took his hand; usually she tried to protect him from the starker realities of her life, but once he'd seen the scars on her back that became an exercise in futility anyhow and she knew he'd worry if she wasn't clear.

But when it came she'd need help? Yes, she would there was no doubt. The idea of giving birth terrified her, nearly as much as the notion of having a child. "Kura." Faith's response was immediate. She'd met the woman just the trial before, when she was out shopping and she'd ended up bursting into tears when Kura saw straight past the illusion. Faith had told Padraig, there were no secrets between them and the woman's strange Mortalborn abilities meant that she had looked at Faith and just... known. "I trust her. But, I don't know if she's got any experience of delivering children. I'm going to have to tell Mattieus, aren't I?" That seemed like a bad idea to Faith and she looked at Padraig with all the concern written on her face. "Can we talk to Kura at least first? Find out if she's maybe had any experience? I mean, I know what to do, I could do it myself. I am a doctor. It's just pain, after all, and I've endured a lot of that in my life. Maybe I should just do it myself?" Or maybe, her gaze said quite clearly, they should speak to Kura.
word count: 1058
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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It felt normal, talking about ordinary things like work and finances. And though he knew there was much on their minds, both of them, there was a sort of refuge in it that Padraig didn't mind in the least. "We'll be fine. We've enough funds between us that we don't need to worry. But I may take a student or two. I can teach, and I wonder if too much time cooped up in the temple, well," he added, at a loss for how else to say it.

"It will get me out of your hair a bit." He smiled, sort of. It was meant in as much jest as he could manage at the moment. Clearly there were times, he suspected, when each of them were thinking things not exactly in tune with the other. And she might appreciate the time to think without him as a distraction.

As for the Venoras, well, that brought the frown right back to his face. Not the lot of them really. He hadn't met most of them, and knew hardly anything about the one or two he might have. But Venora meant Tristan, and there was the biggest source of his reaction. What she was saying made sense. And made it difficult to imagine handing her child over to any of them. He had no connection to it himself, but he couldn't imagine putting any child in that situation. But if not Tristan or the Venoras, where did that leave them then?

She may not like it. But it was the first time she'd referred to the thing that way. Part of her. And that meant her feelings were evolving, which he'd suspected they would. Along with that, what she might decide when the time came. It was foolish to have thought any different. He understood. But what could he say then? Either he lied, and she'd know it. Or he told the truth of his feelings, and he couldn't imagine that would comfort her much either.

He pondered that for a long few ticks before speaking. "I understand what you're saying, and if that's the case with the Venoras, then it's no life for a child. But," he added, "That doesn't mean that your situation needs to be this one's. They're not the only option Faith. I realize that our situations, yours and mine, were very different ones. I'm not trying to compare them," he said from the start.

"But my own mother left just a couple of trials after I was born. I never knew her, never met her and wouldn't know how, was I to try looking. And I know she left me with family that she knew would do right by me. And he did, my grandfather. She had her reasons. And I don't think any less of her for it."

"But surely it's worth considering, that there are others out there who may desperately want a child and are unable to have one of their own? Someone who you could feel good about, I mean." No matter how he'd tried, he probably hadn't handled the suggestion very gracefully. But there was nothing about this whole thing that wasn't tricky.

As for others, suddenly it felt like a safer topic. "I didn't realize." That Kura knew, he meant. The time would come when they'd have to trust someone. And if she knew already? "I don't think we should plan on you doing this on your own, doctor or not. If something went wrong," he reasoned, but then opted not to finish the thought. It was too much. "We should talk to her then," he agreed.
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"Don't do that", she responded when he said that him working would keep him out of her hair. "Go and work if you want to work. Stay here if you want to stay here. If it was down to me we'd never be apart, so if my hair bothers you, take yourself out of it." She looked at him with a level gaze then sighed and turned her head away, shaking it. "I'm sorry, Padraig. I don't mean to snap, I really don't. Just please don't think that I want you out of my hair. I like you there." She rubbed at her temples and tried to snap out of this tiredness she felt. He was right, she was sure, it was just stress and she knew that he was feeling it too. She didn't understand just how he wasn't as close to overwhelmed with it that he was almost asleep on his feet when she'd spent such a long time enduring worse. She didn't even begin to comprehend the actuality of why it might be, although that realisation would come quickly enough, but too late for this conversation.

She listened to everything he had to say about the Venoras, his situation and the idea that there might be a family out there who wanted this child. It all made sense and she nodded her head. "There's an orphanage in Andaris, they might be able to put me in touch with someone." If he'd expected an argument, he got none. "I guess I could talk to Mattieus, too. They probably have similar things here. I'd want to make sure that it was well looked after by people who wanted it, really wanted it." She'd never sounded quite so defeated as she did then. Faith had always been scrappy, defiant in a quiet way. The first time they met, after all, she'd spent time telling him why slaves should be educated and arguing for it. Things had never quite changed from that sass between them. But this? This had her beaten and it was very apparent that she knew it. As for why his mother had done what she did? Faith couldn't hide the expression on her face when he said that. Strangely it was the only bit of it where she reacted that way, but she looked like he'd slapped her. Because her reason was that she was a prostitute, he'd told her such. Push it down, keep it away and move on. She looked down and studied her hands, saying nothing for a moment or two, just focusing.

"I suppose the other thing is to keep in mind that Tristan isn't like his family. Maybe I should just.. I don't know. Just say there you go, take it. He couldn't do a worse job, could he?" She tried to smile and looked at him. By all the Immortals, she just wanted to sleep, but she pushed that down into her hands, too. "I'm sorry, that sounds self pitying. I don't mean it to. But the starting point is that I can't be a mother. We were in the middle of that conversation when old hairbrush burst in. I know the focus for us both is on who the father is, but this is my baby, Padraig. It's mine and it's part of me and I have a job. It deserves better than I can give it. Better than I'm capable of, whoever it's father was." She shrugged, slightly and pinched the bridge of her nose trying to stave off the headache that threatened. "That being the case, maybe I should reconsider Tristan and accept that he'll do it better than I would. What do you think?" The simple fact of it was that she meant it. Even in her tired, confused and emotionally exhausted state, though, she had one thing clearly in her mind. "I just want to do what's best for my baby, but it's hard when knowing that doing that means I'll never know it and gives me so few options. I haven't got a grandfather for it, sadly."

Kura though, well she was a known quantity for Faith and she nodded her head. "I guess if something went wrong, there'd be no one to go and get someone. That makes sense. Yes, we should talk to her. We know where she's staying, that works. Do you think maybe you should go? If I'm going to stay here, it makes sense that I stay here. You can bring her back, if she doesn't mind and if anything changes, we've got the scrolls so you can let me know if you need me to come to you. Would that be alright?" It made sense to her that, if they'd agreed she was going to stay here and be here, then it should start now. Each time she ventured out, after all, there was a risk of bumping into Zvezdana or, if he was here, Alistair. If he thought it was a good idea, she would kiss him on the cheek and just sit on the chair and read, falling asleep within moments.
word count: 900
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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She snapped when he equated work with getting out of her hair, and he was reminded again what an emotional minefield all this had become. She was feeling emotional and sensitive because she'd been knocked off her feet. Padraig was more irritable and less sensitive to how she might interpret what he said or did, because he'd been knocked off of his. He'd be reminded of it again, when her expression spoke volumes after he mentioned his mother.

He took a deep breath, leaned back in his chair and rubbed his temples tiredly. "Don't apologize. I think that we've already established, long before now, that I'm a fairly good hand at saying the wrong thing, when nothing said might be better. Or alternatively, the right thing in a less than helpful way."

"I wonder if the order here, might be a better option than Andaris," he said, opting to turn to other subjects. "Andaris is crawling with ?Venoras. Tristan in particular. If we're determined he shouldn't know, there's more risk of him catching wind of it there." But when she suggested that he might in fact be an option, Padraig couldn't quite agree. "Giving it to him, or even allowing him to know, would create a long term connection between you and him, in fact between all of us that I think we could agree, neither of us want." There was the best interest of the child to consider, sure.

But while his own impressions of Tristan's suitability might be skewed by personal feelings, he still argue that it wasn't in anyone's best interest. "For what it's worth, Faith," he said quietly and with as reassuring a smile as he could muster, and a genuine one at that. "The fact that you want the best for the baby regardless of who it's father is, says that you'd make a much better mother than you think." And if it had been his, theirs instead...Well, there was no point in saying it, or even thinking that way.

"I'll talk to Kura, yes," he agreed. "If I can find her. And if not, I'll leave a message in hopes of speaking with her later." It was something constructive he could do after all, when so much else was waiting and floundering, both of them at the mercy of what was happening to them and around them. "Until then, why don't you get some rest?" It was a suggestion made too late of course. She'd fallen asleep right in front of him. He wondered just how much she'd heard of what he'd said, but then concluded it didn't matter as he picked up a book of his own once again. There'd be more time, and no shortage of adjustments to make.
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A Review by Summer Rain


Name: Faith

Knowledge:
Logistics: Trying to Find Reason
Padraig: Believes You'll Make a Good Mother
Pregnancy: Just Feeling Your Baby's Presence
Psychology: Slowly Gaining Emotions For Your Unborn Baby
Tristan: Maybe You Should Tell Him

Loot: N/A
Injuries: N/A
Fame: N/A
Devotion: N/A

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/5
Magic: These Points May NOT Be Used For Magic

Name: Padraig

Knowledge:
Kura: Faith Trusts Her
Faith: Considering Giving Her Baby Up
Faith: Still Trusts Tristan
Faith: Is Willing to Deliver Her Baby By Herself
Psychology: Talking Logically About What To Do
Logistics: Weighing the Weather into Your Plans

Loot: N/A
Injuries: N/A
Fame: N/A
Devotion: N/A

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/5
Magic: These Points May NOT Be Used For Magic

Comment: Hello Faith, Padraig! Okay so... I loved this thread. I loved the emotion, the discussion of what to do with the baby. The writing was flawless and it was really enjoyable. The only problem I had is finding knowledges, as it was a personal thread not a skill oriented thread, and Faith and Padraig already have so many knowledges about each other. I managed to find a few, though. I hope to read more about Faith and Padraig. <3
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