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Aug 13, 2020 7:31 PM
Two pacifists in Verity
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Surely Nico's personal skill with swordfighting can't be the relevant factor, can it, he's one person--


Oh. Oh.

What should he say? 'I'm sorry that your father wants you to become a murderer' is too risky if his guess is wrong, as is anything that directly challenges the claim.

"I'm sorry that he's ... like that," he eventually settles on, trying to leave it just ambiguous enough what he's referring to. I know how you feel, he doesn't add.


"It's not really his fault the world works like that. I mean, the legacy stuff's garbage, but — a Solark invasion would genuinely be pretty bad for a lot of people? But sending out the army would be... even worse, for everyone who gets killed. And either way every single death would be my fault..."

"And that's one of the easier examples, if people steal it's usually because they're hungry, if they revolt they usually have a point, but you still need to send in the guards and let them... do their thing... because otherwise a whole lot of people will just stop following the law? And I'm not sure my father always makes those tradeoffs the best way but at least he makes them, and that's probably better overall, but even knowing that I don't think I could ever..."

He sighs. "My brother could, but. I guess you know what happened."


He kind of wants to give Nico a hug.

"I-- I know I'm not" a Ravenna "your father, but -- maybe everyone could use more rulers who don't go around killing people."

(Did he just insult Nico's father? That might have been a bad idea.)

"And I'm sorry about your brother." If he weren't already looking down he'd have started to when he said that last sentence.


The first part — that just sounds like the kind of empty words you'd say to make someone feel better. A nice gesture, maybe, but it's not going to work unless it's a little less transparent. No reason to respond to it.

The comment about Erasmos, though — Nico's voice goes quiet. "I don't actually miss him that much. As a person, I mean." He's silent, for a little while.

"It's just — everyone knows it would've been better the other way around. Most people might be too polite to say it to my face, but..."

(His father isn't one of those people. He said it, after the funeral.)


(Oh no, he made Nico sad.)

"No it--" he literally just said that that's what people claim, and that it isn't true "--I know this is what everyone says, but it wouldn't be good if you were dead, that's awful." Not that it would be good if anyone else was dead either. 

He touches three fingers to his temple and takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry, I know I'm repeating the same thing everyone else says, I know you have no way of telling this apart from that," I'm sorry I can't make you feel better, "I-- I'm probably making things worse. Sorry."


Small smile, and a reflexive attempt at eye contact. "I think it'd take a little more than words to make this situation worse. Especially because — that's not in fact what everyone says. Even the nice ones, it's all 'I hope you can live up to his legacy' and pointed stares when I come here for the fourth time in a week because I can't stand being in the castle and it's not like it matters, anyway, it's not like I can fix it." 

Carmian doesn't do that, but she doesn't really care about him either. Just enjoys spending Ebenezer Ravenna's money.

It's kind of nice talking to someone who cares enough to try.


He flinches, slightly, at the attempt at eye contact. He doesn't want to hurt Nico.

Everyone Nico knows is terrible. He probably shouldn't say this, since most people don't like it when you point out that everyone they know is terrible, but it would be easier not to say it if if weren't true.

"It doesn't sound like even the 'nice ones' are very good at being nice," he settles on at last, his best attempt at neutrality. "Although maybe they are in comparison." It's not like the people he knew back home would have been any better.

...That probably still sounded insulting. He should really stop insulting everyone Nico knows.


Well, it's not like they both need to be careful, and it feels weird to stare at someone's forehead for a whole conversation.

"Marlin is. — my old teacher," he adds when Timon doesn't recognize the name. "Used to get really offended on my behalf when — when things happened."

"He just. Also thinks it's my responsibility? To try to be what they want me to. To take all my power and wield it for good." You could make Dunark so much better if only you'd try. They'd had a big fight over that, two years ago. Hadn't spoken since.

"I don't think he was wrong, exactly. I just — couldn't do it anymore."


He does actually support Nico wielding his power for good, should he take the throne; at the very least it's probably better than him using it for other purposes. On the other hand, he's skeptical of the conception of good apparently held by everyone else Nico knows, and especially skeptical of the idea that being what Nico's relatives want him to and wielding his power for good are at all compatible. Either way, he doubts that he can communicate this without sounding just like Marlin.

"That sounds-- I'm sorry." He should probably come up with something other than that to say, he's been saying it an awful lot.

"Do -- a decade and a half, you said? -- do you think it's likely it'll end up being you?" No, wait, that's worse, he's going to make Nico sad again. "--You don't have to answer that if you don't want to."


"Maybe? I didn't think so, but I didn't think I'd ever be named the heir, either, so."

"And the decade and a half — that's if Erasmos' kid turns out to be good at this. And — on one hand I hope he will, of course, but — it's not exactly fair to put that kind of pressure on a three-year-old?"

That's — really not fair, actually. It is incredibly, astonishingly unfair, and everyone's probably been doing it while Nico —

Maybe it does matter whether he acts like a proper heir, even if he'd still be a shitty ruler.


"Poor kid," he says softly, unaware of Nico's thoughts.

(He knows what it's like to lose a parent. He can't imagine what it would be like to lose a parent so young, and that's without being surrounded by constant pressure to become the sort of person Nico's father apparently wants his heirs to be.)


"...I should go back, shouldn't I? To at least — look like I'm trying?"

It won't be fun, but he did it for 18 years, he can do a few more. For Bian.


He is so incredibly unqualified to give advice about this. 

He rubs his forehead. "I don't -- I don't know," he says. "But -- you know a lot more than I do, and I -- trust your judgment, probably." He rubs his forehead again, because he doesn't know what else to do. "But -- no matter what you do, he'll be under a lot of pressure. But that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't the right thing to do. --But you also matter, and... I don't know." And maybe the kid could use a role model who's less enthusiastic about murdering people.

He pauses. "If I were the kid, I'd want you in my life. But I'm not -- and I don't know what the kid would want, and there's not a good way to find out--"

(He's pressuring Nico, isn't he.)

"But it's up to you, I -- you probably know what's best here." He already said that.


Well, Nico isn't exactly qualified for this either, that's the whole problem.

(Timon's saying he trusts his judgment. Why.)

That said, even he can see that forcing a small child to deal with any more of this than absolutely necessary would be really really awful.

(He's spent the last few months doing exactly that. Excellent judgment, right there.)

He makes a confused face when Timon talks about Bian maybe wanting him around. "I — don't see why he'd care about that? It's not like I was super involved in his life and then disappeared, he's not missing me or anything... "

"...anyway. I — I think I should. Go back and keep everyone off Bian's back. It really isn't fair to him otherwise."


He nods, to the extent that that's possible without risking eye contact.

 "It's -- my grandfather on my mother's side died a couple years before I was born. Not knowing him didn't feel like anything when I was little, but now -- it's not that I miss him, exactly, I never met him, but -- I wish I could have. And sometimes people would tell me that they wished he were there to explain something to me, or teach me how to do something --" 

He's pressuring Nico again, and he's not even pressuring Nico with something particularly relevant.

"--I'm sorry, that doesn't have much to do with your situation. Anyways, he might -- realize that he'd rather have had you in his life than not, even if he doesn't have a preference now. --I'm sorry, I know I'm not making much sense -- anyways, you're the one who knows him, and you're the one who knows the rest of your family. If you think you should go back you're probably right. But of course that's not exactly fair to you, it's not like you asked for the job of protecting him. But -- maybe it's still the right thing to do."

(He's doing a really bad job of not pressuring Nico.)


"I'm sorry you didn't get to meet your grandfather, then, but somehow I don't think anyone involved would be talking about me that positively. — but that's okay, I'm going to do it anyway." Smile. "Thanks for helping me talk it through." the next step now would be to get up from this chair and start walking, wouldn't it. But Timon's only visiting, what if — oh, right, he could just ask about that.

"I haven't actually asked how long you're staying in Dunark, though, if you're leaving in the morning I can stay here a little longer, I really don't think half an hour is going to matter either way, and — and I kinda like talking to you."


"Glad I could help you out." He smiles. "I ... hadn't actually figured out how long I'm staying for. Probably a couple more days at least, though." Wow, fantastic planning, Timon.

...He also hasn't figured out where he's staying tonight, but he doesn't need to admit that to Nico.

"I'd be happy to stay and talk either way, but if you need to get going that's totally fine, it's getting pretty late." He pauses. "I like talking to you too." You're really nice -- no, don't say that, it'll sound stupid.


"As I said, I really don't think it's going to make a difference."

Okay, now he's got to actually start talking about something or there's going to be a really awkward silence.

There is a bit of an awkward silence.

", I guess we've talked mostly about me so far, sorry about that, uh, what about you, I never even found out why you're in Dunark...?"


He sighs. "So, you remember how I, uh, wasn't very good at Shamer duties? It turns out that that's ... not the sort of thing that makes most people particularly happy with you. It was fine for a while," until his mother died, but he doesn't particularly want to bring that up "but eventually I decided it would be a good idea to be ... somewhere people don't know me. And I wasn't really sure how to figure out where to go, so eventually I wound up here. It's not like there are a lot of Shamers here or anything, but random people on the street don't know me, they aren't going to recognize me as that specific Shamer."


"...what did you do?"


Nico is going to hate him forever, this is terrible--

Okay, focus. He takes a deep breath. "So. Um."

(Why does he care so much if Nico hates him? If Nico decides he never wants to talk to him again then they probably weren't particularly compatible in the first place.)

He takes two more deep breaths, for good measure. "So the thing is, most of what they bring you in for when you're a Shamer is the really big stuff, right? The sort of thing where you'll be in huge trouble if you actually did it." He pauses. He takes another breath. "And-- I knew they'd done it, but -- they were going to get executed if I said so -- I couldn't just let them die." 



That is possibly the most reasonable thing Nico has ever heard.

He just sits there, for a moment, staring at Timon.


Oh no, Nico isn't saying anything, he knew Nico was going to hate him--

"--If you don't want to keep talking to me I completely understand--"


" — what, no, I — of course I want to keep talking to you, that's — that is the most compassionate thing you could've ever — "


"I -- I wasn't sure -- most people don't see it that way--" He smiles. "Thanks, though, it's -- really nice to talk to someone who sees it that way."

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