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Seledra05

22 Flamerule 1372 - Midmorning

Pan walked through the door quite soon after Isioleth went to fetch her. She was different than I remember her, she looked tired, sad, but she embraced me all the same. Pan was always different from her other siblings, more serious, the reliable type while Unebrion was headstrong and charming, Isendur was more impulsive and daring and Isioleth was cocky and free spirited. Politely, she asked me of the goings on in my life, asking the appropriate follow-up questions, but not really showing interest. Just to stir her up a bit, I said,

"You seem absentminded. Are you getting cold feet?"

"No...I'm fully committed to Aarin. It's just that...you don't know what happened in Neverwinter, do you?"

I shook my head. This was what she really wanted to talk to me about. "Tell me."

"After my training at the Academy, in the space of about three months, I saw the worst of what human nature had to offer. Suffering and death that only served as a diversion of sorts, injustice, betrayal and so much blood. The horror, oh the horror of it all. I saw a friend whom it seemed fate itself had cursed betrayed, fallen and finally executed. She was my...best friend, the first person who understood what it was like to be young and saddled with more responsibility than you knew what to do with. Because I defended her, Lord Nasher banished me from Neverwinter, me and all memory of me, like I never even existed. But I have Aarin and we understand each other."

I was a bit taken aback. "But...you saved the city."

"The world, Seledra."

"That must offer you some consolation."

She smiled bitterly. "I wouldn't be much of a druid if it didn't. But if it were just the city...if it were just Neverwinter's fate that hung in the balance, I should have let them die."

"You don't mean that."

She stared at me and I saw her eyes harden. "Aribeth watched her lover be hanged to death and then burned, left hanging in the streets of Neverwinter to be fed upon like carrion, as a reminder of what happens to traitors. When she fell, I didn't blame her, but the world is bigger than Aribeth de Tylmarande and Pandora Lorien. I struck her down in combat and delivered her to Nasher, foolishly believing that men like him learn from their mistakes. But her death was worse. First they shot her full of arrows and while she was still alive, they...decapitated her, burned her body, put her head on a pike at the top of Castle Never as a ward against any possibility of her ghost ever returning to the city. And those people...they cheered. Sold food and drink. Brought their children. Some even tried to take souvenirs. If the city burned down tomorrow and killed every last inhabitant of that accursed place, I wouldn't shed a single tear."

Her expression softened again. "You know, when mother told me that you had become a city druid for Silverymoon, I couldn't have been more proud. Don't go into the hero business, Seledra. It is not a place for druids."

"Aren't you worried about Isioleth? You know she wants to be a hero, like you."

"Isioleth is different. Everywhere she goes, luck follows. She'll be all right. You have a good heart and you understand people. That could go a long way, but you can be so passionate, so reckless. So unlike a druid, who should always try to seek the balance. I don't know what that kind of life will do to you." She paused. "Oh, by the way. Unebrion is alive."

"What? I thought - "

"Yes, we all thought that when my father banished him that he would die in the wilderness, but it isn't so."

"How do you know it was him?"

"During Aribeth's march on Neverwinter, he was taking part in the pillaging as a captain in Aribeth's forces. I fought him and made him yield. Then he took his helm off. I can't kill my flesh and blood."

"So what did you do?"

"I spared him, made him help me retake the city. Unebrion gave me his word he would, after I helped him rescue his...woman and her sister, and Unebrion, corrupt though he is, always keeps his word."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I want you to be prepared, should you run into him. He told me he was heading east, towards the Dales but that doesn't mean he won't make any stops on the way." She smiled. "I'm glad we had this talk."

***

Well that made one of us. She walked towards the door and looked at the sun outside. "You should find your friend. It's almost time for lunch." And with that she walked out. I looked forward to the relative cheeriness of Ralenthra. So, I headed to her room. She wasn't there, but the door was unlocked, so I just decided I'd wait for her there. Just as I was starting to worry, she walked through the door. I smiled.

"Oh! There you are!" I said, relieved. "My aunt was hoping she'd get to meet you at lunch."

She nodded. "I just need to change. Will anyone else be there?"

"It's supposed to be mainly the family for lunch, so not too many people. Pan, probably. The twins. I don't know if Aarin Gend will be there or not; Aunt Ariel didn't say."

"'Ledra?" she said while her back was turned to me, doing something.

"Mm-hm?"

Ralenthra hung her head a little. "I'm sorry I ruined your trip."

She couldn't be serious. I'd probably be dead if it weren't for her and what fun I had was mostly because of her. "It's not your fault! It's a little hick town full of stupid humans who can't see past their own tiny lifespans!"

"It's not just humans, and you know it. Your family may think nothing of your bringing a drow home with you, but most elves hate my kind even more than humans. We are traitors to elvenkind, after all." We sat down on her bed, side by side.

"Things are starting to change, though, especially since Drizz't." She wrinkled her nose a little. "I'm sorry, I know you hate to hear about him."

"Yes, but change comes slowly, especially when most drow do their best to uphold our bad reputation. Even in a city like Silverymoon, there are many places I'm not welcome. The most respectable inn that will serve me is the Dancing Goat."

"Ah, but it's so fun there - the drinking, the dancing. They have the best cellar in town and Tordrin will be there." Of course, so could the boy, but that was altogether a different story.

"But the main reason they let me in at all is because I tip exceptionally well."

"Damn innkeepers. Why're they all so greedy?" Fifteen silver for midnight to noon is not what I call a great deal. Not for that place.

"Because the altruistic types usually go into druidry, not innkeeping." She elbowed me in the ribs and we both started giggling.

"You just swindle them right back, anyway, so it all evens out."

"Oh no, I don't swindle the innkeepers. Too risky. Not only can they kick me out, but they talk to each other. I just swindle their customers."

"You've really thought that out, haven't you?"

"Of course!" she replied. "There's something else, though," she said when we stopped laughing.

Ah, there it was. I thought I would make this less difficult for her. "You thought about running away." I said.

"How--"

"I can read people pretty well, you know. I saw it in your eyes. I'm glad you didn't."

"Why have you helped me so much? Why do you trust me?"

"I just told you, silly. I know people. I know an evil person from a good one. Or at least a not-evil one. You may be able to pull a fast one on me once in a while, but you can't fool me when it comes to who you are inside. I know you think I'm too trusting," I narrowed my eyes at her, "but I know how to tell whether I can trust someone or not. I also know when someone just needs somebody else to care about them." I slung my arm around her waist.

"All right, this is all getting way too sappy," she said.

"You started it!" I replied, and we started giggling again. She put her arm around my waist and we leaned companionably against each other.

***

And then my Aunt Ariel appeared in the window. She smiled warmly. "There you two are! We were wondering when you were coming for lunch!"

After we got up and walked outside to where she was, she embraced me warmly and just as warmly took Ralenthra's hand in her two hands, "Mayurra, is it? You may call me Ariel, dear. I'm afraid your reputation precedes you. Both Issey and Tordrin told everyone of your treatment in Olostin's Hold. Young Methrammar was grieved to hear it and said something to Aarin about something called "administrative leave" to make your trip back run more smoothly."

I piped up. "Oh, I doubt we'll be making too many stops on the way back. We're both kind of homesick for Silverymoon."

"Ah, Silverymoon. I remember when Issey was just a child, all the stories she wrote home about about you two at Utramm's Conservatory. But that, that was all Before."

I was surprised at Ralenthra's curiosity. "Before what, Ariel?"

Sadness crept into my aunt's eyes and at that point I knew that Pandora had not told anyone else about Unebrion. "Pan had an older brother once. He died."

I didn't know where to look or what to do. Ralenthra reached up and laid her hand on Ariel's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ariel. I know how it hurts to lose family."

Ariel took Ralenthra's hand and squeezed it. "Thank you, my dear." Before the three of us turned and walked to the main house she turned to me and said, "Riol won't be joining us today. He's still on patrol and won't be back until late tonight." That was a pity as I had been looking forward to seeing the young half-orc whom I helped to look after when he was an infant. Waiting inside the main house for us was Pan, Aarin, Methrammar, Tordrin, Issey and Isendur. Conspicuously absent was my Uncle Celeborn.

Pandora and Aarin sat next to each other at the head of the table, showing a completely different image of my cousin than the one I'd seen earlier. There was almost a tangible glow about her as she smiled into Aarin's eyes. Aarin, for his part was intriguing, if not my type. Sharp eyed, muscle-bound, with catlike reflexes, it was interesting to see someone like him at something so mundane as a family gathering, but for all his air of danger, he was clearly smitten with my cousin and that was all that mattered.

Methrammar sat on Aarin's other side and beckoned me to him with a smile and an extended hand. He seemed charmed to be a part of something that for once didn't require political discussion. I took my seat next to him, with Ralenthra sitting on my opposite side. Next to her sat Tordrin and next to him was Isendur, followed by Isioleth, finally the circle was made complete with Ariel sitting between her two daughters.

Conversation broke out all around the table, but Methrammar was driving me to distraction.

Methrammar kissed my hand and said "I was beginning to think you wouldn't be joining us. Whatever kept you?"

I replied to him. "Oh, you know. Family business and all that."

And he said to me, "Well, I hope you don't mind me joining your little family affair. Technically, my business with Aarin is concluded but," he leaned over and whispered low into my ear, "I greatly desired to see you again." Before pulling back from my ear, his tongue flicked lightly at it, so fast that unless someone was paying close attention, no one would have seen it.

Isioleth asked Aarin excitedly, "You were a pirate?"

Ariel smiled and said to Pandora, "That ought to come in handy for your honeymoon, dear."

For the first time, I noticed the amulet Pandora was wearing, the stone, the color of the ocean after a storm, or so I'm told. She would be able to find out first hand, as their honeymoon was consisting of a cruise down the Sword Coast from Waterdeep to Calimport and then down to Chult.

Methrammar whispered to me again, "So, where would you like to go on your honeymoon?"

I replied, "I...I'm not married yet...that is probably too far ahead to plan."

Methrammar countered. "Nonsense. I'm sure you'll be married off soon enough. Any man courting you would be a fool to let you stay unmarried for long."

Ahem.

Methrammar spoke up to Aarin, "What kind of sentence did that land you?"

Aarin replied to Methrammar, "Twenty years, but I got out early," he looked at Pandora, "for good behavior."

Methrammar whispered to me again, "Look at how smitten he is with her. I daresay it is positively infectious." He finished his sentence with emphasis, as he pretended to adjust his lap napkin by squeezing me on my upper thigh.

Isendur was deep in conversation with Tordrin and asked him "So, you don't think the holy elven sites are untouchable?"

Tordrin replied to Isendur, "I think the Seldarine are understanding enough of the good intentions of scholars like yourself."

Isendur pondered his response to Tordrin for a moment and said "Just to be on the safe side, I should travel with a cleric. I wonder if Linu is busy?"

Methrammar spoke to me in a more normal conversational volume. "So, do you think what your cousin is doing is sacrilegious?"

Normally, I'd be able to have an answer for this question in a heartbeat, but that's usually when my heart is beating much more slowly than it was just then. "Um...well, it's not like Isendur is some sort of raider. It's for...educational purposes, something the Seldarine can respect, I think and um...so he should be safe from most vengeful god attack...things. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a cleric with you going to holy sites." Was there a mind flayer at the table?

Tordrin said to Isendur, "Either way, you may want to consider writing to the University of Silverymoon to apply for a grant. I'll be glad to be a reference."

Isendur looked relieved. "Thank you for the encouragement. You'd be surprised how rigid elves can be about sacred burial grounds."

Methrammar whispered to me. "Sacred burial grounds are apparently not the only things elves get rigid over, I see." I looked down and immediately crossed my arms in front of my chest.

Ariel said to Ralenthra "I hope you like chilled chicken salad with pine nuts, Mayurra." And Ralenthra replied to Ariel, "It's delicious, thank you." Ariel then turned her attention to me. "Dear, are you feeling all right? You're so flushed and you've barely touched your food."

I quickly gulped down a mouthful of food. "I'm fine. Everything's fine. We're both fine. How are you?" I should just not speak. Ever. Again.

Ariel raised an eyebrow, smiled slightly and asked Isendur about the Harpers who were camped out below. Whew. "Have you made sure that the Harpers are comfortable?"

Isendur replied to his mother, "The Harpers have set up camp on the ground near the reception area. They're pretty well stocked with the supplies they need."

Methrammar whispered to me, "I don't know that all the Harpers will be staying on the grounds tonight." And he slightly gestured his fork in Tordrin's direction.

Tordrin, for his part, was talking to Ralenthra. "So, Beautiful, are you enjoying this little gathering?" And she replied to him in an amused tone, "It's different. That much is certain."

I looked back towards Pandora and Aarin, who seemed to be reviewing their guest list. Pandora heaved a great sigh. "I wish we didn't have to invite Sharwyn. You know she's going to make a scene and I don't like her fixation with you." Aarin placed a consoling hand on her shoulder and smiled. "Perhaps Daelan can win her over." And Isioleth interjected, "That, or Linu can smack her with her mace. Pow!"

And then Methrammar decided it would be a good time to drop his fork. Not only did he drop his fork, but he went under the table to retrieve it. Not only did he retrieve the fork, but he hiked my skirt up and laid a soft kiss on my inner thigh. And he was back in his seat, all under a count of eight.

So this is what going mad feels like. I squeaked out, "Are you enjoying yourself, Methrammar?" He replied casually. "Am I! This is a nice diversion from typical Silverymoon business. No politics. Not that I don't love my work, of course."

Isendur said in a reprimanding tone to Isioleth, "Linu is a gentle soul. She wouldn't hurt a fly." And Pandora replied to Isendur with a gently amused smirk, "Have you seen her face an army of undead?"

I stood up abruptly. "Um, Aunt Ariel...I'm afraid I am feeling...unwell and I...I...should go lie down. Now."

A look of motherly concern crossed over her face. "All right dear. I know you had a rough go of it yesterday and not much rest. We'll wake you in the morning. Perhaps Methrammar should walk you back, you seem a little...off balance."

Methrammar stood up and took my arm. "Of course, ma'am. It would be an honor." He genuflected politely. "Ladies...gentlemen."

We didn't even make it back to my room before he pushed me against the wall and practically welded his lips to mine, one hand tangled in my hair and the other hand lifting my thigh. When we finally got back to my room he made as if he was about to leave.

I grabbed him by his collar. "Oh, no you don't. Not after what you pulled at lunch."

Less than an hour later, we were settling in to sleep. He had been...polite, considerate, careful. Not as passionate as I would have expected considering the prelude, but perhaps with time...ah, but I am much too tired to think on that now.

Comments

So much suffering and death that only served as a diversion of sorts, injustice, betrayal, blood, so much blood.

There's something a little off with the punctuation in this sentence. It's not that it's incorrect so much as the rhythm of the sentence; I don't really know how to read it.

Don't go into the hero business, Seledra. It is not a place for druids.

Ah, sweet irony.

relative cheeriness of Ralenthra

Ahahahahahaha nice touch.

She put her arm around her waist

Ralenthra's double jointed? ;)

Overall, I like it. I like what you did with the Ralenthra convo. I'd almost like to see a little more detail/dialogue at lunch, but it's up to you.

Fixed the Ralenthra typo as that should be the easiest. I'll see what I can do with the awkward Pandora dialog there and I fully intend to add a little more detail for lunch. I just was really worn out and got a little lazy.
Fixed the awkward Pandora sentence so it would be less awkward :)

"Don't go into the hero business..." I was originally going to gank a Yoda quote here and say, "Adventure, excitement. A druid craves not these things. They seek only the balance." But Danny and I agreed it was a little over the top.
Yes, that would have been a little over the top. Good call.
Okay, additional luncheon dialog added. Hope you like!
Actually, it's a little overwhelming, though arguably it's pretty faithful to what that scene would feel like to someone there. Granted, I'm also a bit discombobulated because I started my own post based on what you wrote before, some of which has been excised completely, but I can switch gears, because I didn't actually get into lunch yet.

I will reread tomorrow and see what I think then, since it's late and I'm tired.
I'm still finding it a bit to chaotic; I like the individual exchanges, but I don't like the way they criss-cross each other and are all jumbled up. I don't know that you need to change it, though. More than anything, it just doesn't suit my taste as a reader, so I can't really say whether it's good or bad on a more objective basis.
Danny gave me an idea. I'm sorry for further delay, but this might take me till late evening my time to finish.
Okay, now I've changed it for really real. Let me know if you like the new format.
All right, That is made of win. And awesome. And some more win.
Yeah, if vaudy's good with it, I think this passage is ready for inclusion into the community. Are all of kronk's passages up to date?
I'm glad you like it. :) Hope it doesn't mess with what you have going for your post.
No, not at all. In fact, I rather like what I've got going better than my original plan. However, in order to complete it, I need to know whether Cosmo plays an instrument and which one(s) (this is something I decided after the email I sent last night).
I believe he plays a modified Tocken (a set of carved, oval, open-ended bells, played like a glockenspiel), modified in that he's a Lantanese gnome, so it's mechanical and has a huge range, from simple chimes to warmly resonant bells.
Peeeerfect. Is it portable?

I mean aside from the fact they have to transport it, like, can he carry it around himself?

Edited at 2008-06-12 02:18 am (UTC)
Yes. He carries it around in a case that may have been enchanted by Meree to be able to hold more than it "should".
Also! Perhaps you should explain why Tordrin is joining the family for lunch? Methrammar makes sense, as he is an Important Personage, but Tordrin seems kinda random. By the by, I can't find in the old posts where we established that the Harpers were coming to the wedding.
Tordrin is there for a couple of reasons
1) Isendur invited him. They hit it off after talking about a shared interest in elven history and archeology.
2) Tordrin accepted said invite because he wanted to make sure that Ralenthra didn't have to possibly face any probing questions from Aarin or Methrammar without backup.

Huh. I thought there was a teeny tiny reference that Sun & Moon had been contracted to play at Pandora's wedding, which was why they were heading towards the High Forest and away from Silverymoon, where their next contract is. I could easily be wrong. Maybe I just thought it instead of wrote it. I'll check things over and see if there's a convenient place to slide in a reference if it's not anywhere.
I figured you had a reason, it's probably just better to mention it in the story, to keep things consistent, since we have Seledra mentioning that it's a family thing.

I do remember there being a reference somewhere that they were playing at the wedding, I just can't find it.

Edited at 2008-06-10 03:53 am (UTC)
I could probably slip it in there. The reason I didn't include the reason was because I wasn't sure that Seledra was sure why Tordrin was there in character. Maybe I'll have Ariel mention it.
I could just add it into Ralenthra's part. I imagine she'd ask him, so it it be easy to put in there.
That should work and it would be greatly appreciated :)