May 11, 2021 8:35 AM
People are quite suspicious of the Commander's new girlfriend
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"Of that I am certain, my dear."

"It is most reassuring to hear you say that," interjects Queen Jennah. "Every ally in our struggle against the Elder Dragons is welcomed and much wanted."

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Oh, good. For the first time since she got here, Vetareh starts to relax. A little. She even actually smiles.

"I imagine they would be. Not to mention how sick you must be of stupid vapid power struggles when there are more important things going on."

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"Oh, you have no idea. I believe you've met our friend, the Minister Caudecus Beetlestone, in Bloodstone Fen? Charming figure," says the Countess. "Speaking of which, Commander, I'd like a word or two with you about it, if you don't mind?"

Not that she's waiting for him to mind before moving somewhere.

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James offers Vetareh a sheepish smile and a shrug, then turns to follow the Countess.

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She sees Countess Anise runs a tight ship.

"Please don't trip headfirst into anything exciting until after we're done talking, darling," she informs James, amused.

Then, back to Jennah: "Are there any other reassurances you might like to hear? I've only been here about a week and spent most of it on the Fire Islands, so I'm afraid I might be a bit miscalibrated for what sorts of justified worries you might have. I stuck with just the very obvious ones."

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"Reassurances are easy. Why don't you come for a walk with me? I could show you the royal gardens and we can get to know each other. I'm very curious about someone who's managed to catch the sights of the Pact Commander; Lyssa knows how many have tried over the years."

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"I would be delighted," she says, and... that one's actually true, she's actually having fun with this now that all of the boring standard mesmer crap has been cut through.

"I can imagine. Poor souls must have been so frustrated. Mostly I went, 'ooo' instead of 'Aah!' over the adventure, and it was remarkably straightforward from there."

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Jennah starts leading the way out of the throne room. "He had a... reputation, when we were both young. I didn't think much of him, back then. It was very surprising a few years ago when the Hero of Shaemoor turned out to be James Orland. I believe the people of Shaemoor thought so, too."

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Vetareh follows, of course.

"A reputation...? Troublemaker, or... oh, I see. Yes, I can imagine how a pretty noble boy would seek to entertain himself before he fell in love with something of substance. I can't say I'm sorry to show up after, I'd have likely found him insufferable."

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The Queen chuckles. She has a way of doing it that is way more composed and regal than it should have any right to be. "I didn't get to actually meet him, back then, so I don't know what he was actually like. Before his parents passed away they tried to set him up with a large number of noblewomen, and when he turned out to... ah... have more eclectic tastes than that, there were rumours that they tried to see if male suitors might have a higher success rate." She smiles to herself and pushes open a door to the gardens.

They're gorgeous, of course; a large open terrace with tasteful fountains decorated with flowers and the occasional tree, vines in pretty patterns crawling along the walls and stone arches, and stone walkways leading to shaded tables and wooden benches in locations prime to enjoy the view. It is currently empty, but the bending of the grass and the glittering of the coins inside the fountains for wishes betray somewhat more frequent use of the place than just soirées and the entertainment of othertimely guests.

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"Oh, these are lovely," she sighs, smiling. "He hasn't mentioned anything, but I suspect he's a little put out that the first person he's been serious about is a female human with half a drop of noble blood. On principle, you know. The moment I start talking it's back to 'Nevermind I regret nothing.'"

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Jennah chuckles again. "Yes, I would imagine he is quite unamused with the gods for this. Although I have always suspected he and Canach are rather closer than they may at first appear."

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"He does speak of him with a fondness and familiarity that probably belies... something," she says thoughtfully. "But I suppose it's not my business. Pity Canach and I didn't get to talk more while we were together, I liked him for the little that I met him."

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"I would expect it is your business, if you're serious about the Commander," she says, eyeing Vetareh from the corner of her eye. She's not smiling with her face, but her tone has some mirth in it.

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"I am, and touché, your Majesty, but..." She trails off, at a loss for the correct words.

"... Not in the way most might think it is?"

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"Very few things involving the Commander are, and you seem to be of a kind."

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Vetareh snorts. "Yes, quite."

She clears her throat a little and looks away, feeling just a little bit like someone has just stared into her soul. Well, she did come here to be honest. "How's Valette Wi doing, anyway? Has her nose healed properly?"

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"Oh, you'd have to ask Anise about that. I believe the Countess had a question or two to ask her, too." They reach one of the pretty fountains and the Queen takes a seat on the stone part of it.

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"Ah. Yes, forgive me for the clumsy subject change. I'm a little out of practice."

She sits a polite distance away from the Queen, on the same pretty fountain.

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"Think nothing of it," she says with a small smile. "But enough about other people. I'm curious about you. What was your life in Orr like? We have so little to go on and nowadays people mostly think of it in terms of Zhaitan, which cannot be very comfortable."

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An amused smile tugs at her lips, despite the dark subject. Yes, because this conversation hasn't been about her at all, noooo, it's just coincidence that it happened to bring up a lot of things that are important to her very quickly. Mhm. Sure.

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Then the dark subject catches up with her mood, and her smile slowly evaporates.

"No, not very. It breaks my heart that all the world knows of my nation is its ignoble end and its cruel leverage by Zhaitan. I loved my country, served it faithfully, and..." and now it's gone. She wasn't even there to see it go.

Nope, nope, something lighter, she will answer this question even if she has to dance around to the less agonizingly painful parts of her answer to do it.

"I expect most of the broad strokes you know already, and it's hard to compare when I haven't seen what life in Kryta is like today. We were devoted to the gods, and certain of our place and purpose in the world. Things were often very complicated, but at it's core, the world seemed very simple. I'd thought once that Arah was the most cosmopolitan city in the world, but I'm... strangely glad to have been mistaken. I mourn for humanity's losses, your Majesty, but the world is so much wider now."

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A genuine smile, at that. "Yes, it is. And though marred by its dark history, we are all working towards making sure that's not the last of Orr. If Kryta and Ascalon can move on from their past and build a bright future, then I'm sure so too can Orr."

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"Yes," says Vetareh, softly. "I wish it the brightest future possible, may it become something better than it was before."

But she doesn't want anything to do with rebuilding Orr. Nothing at all. It's too much to ask, there's too much pain, she can't stand to face it, not yet, and maybe not ever. It'll be so hard just to go there and make sure her mother is properly dead. She is many things, but strong enough to sift through the corrupted ruins of her home, she is not.

She doesn't say this, but she doesn't think she needs to. Jennah's a smart cookie, she can read between the lines just fine.

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She probably can.

"I apologise for bringing up painful memories," she says, sounding like she really means it. "I think you'll find much happiness here, regardless. The Commander is visibly very fond of you, and I believe you will find much to do. That asura - Taimi, I believe she's called? - has much potential, and I believe you two will have a lot to teach each other, and Tyria will only benefit from your friendship."

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