Apr 16, 2021 8:19 AM
Naima and Elie
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"We've been to Quantium, and everyone there was hospitable enough. The rest of it – well, all we need to do is find the river, what's it called, there's bound to be a town where we can charter a boat. I'm not worried about Nex."

He is a little worried about getting out of the Mwangi expanse, but it can't be half as hard as everything else they've done today. Mostly Naima; he sort of just flailed. 

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" - right. Okay. So if we can find the Barrier Wall, which has gotta be east of here, and follow it south until we find the gap, that should eventually lead us to the Elemion, and we can follow that east until we come out at Quantium, and - easy enough to pay for passage back to Sothis, then. That's a plan. And all we have to do is not starve or get eaten or die of some kind of rare tropical disease before we can manage it.

 

"I'm sorry this is taking so long," she says, going back to messing with the handcuffs.

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"It's alright. I'm sure they're very fancy and expensive. We can probably sell them in Quantium, actually, make a neat profit." 

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"Pff. Yeah. I guess you wouldn't make a set of shackles with a bunch of fancy magic enchantments on them and then put a lousy mundane lock on them."

She can't think of much to say for the next few minutes. And then, eventually, when she feels like she's taken kind of a ridiculous amount of time to admit this to herself -

 

"I'm - not actually sure that I can get these off."

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"Oh."

"....that's alright. You should break my hands." 

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" - I'm not that sure. ...yet."

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"Well, take your time with it. We're not in any hurry. And if worst comes to worst we have the option. ....Should probably wait until tomorrow, though, so you can heal me after." 

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" - yeah, I guess that should help. But I'm not actually certain what the limits of cure spells are, I know they can't do broken bones - I guess it's possible that other than that the only thing that matters is that all the flesh be there, although - that's not quite right, if you ruin an organ badly enough then you need a regenerate to fix it, and - I guess if we get back to civilization then we can always buy you a regenerate? But I'm not sure - I can't predict exactly how badly they'd be mangled, while we're out here, whether you'd be able to cast anything with them - "

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"We can probably get away with dislocating most of the joints. I don't mind paying for a regenerate, and even if my hands are unusable for the next few days, I can always prepare my spells as still spells, that only costs me a circle – and my dimensions don't have a somatic component at all, it'd be worth it for that alone."  

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Nervous half-laugh. "I guess. If that's what you'd rather. We can try it tomorrow when I have my healing back. And - see if we can think of anything else in the meantime."

Right now she is busy thinking about how if he were her brother she would hug him, probably for a long time. Probably for however long it took her to calm down about having been half a second away from failing to keep him from going to hell, and about being stuck hundreds of miles from any kind of real civilization. But they are hundreds of miles from civilization, which is about as alone as two people can possibly be, and she is uncomfortably aware that he is really really really not her brother. When they return to civilization she will probably have to be able to give an account of every kind of contact that happened between them, and if she wants anyone else to consider her - which she's not sure she does, but he seemed to think she should, so - she will have to be able to make that account sound as responsible as humanly possible.

This feels much more unfair than it usually does, right now. But it's the sort of situation where sloppiness is least tolerable, so she supposes that she'll just have to be very quietly grumpy about it.

Well. "I'm glad you're - safe seems like a very large exaggeration right now, but - "

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"Infinitely safer than I was this morning, and you say that like it isn't all thanks to you." It's getting darker, and it's so uncomfortable to sleep with one's hands tied behind one's back. Ah, well, he's had infinitely bigger problems. "We should get some rest. We only need two hours each, and I think we should both be awake for whatever happens around here during the night." 

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" - yeah." She looks up at the trees. "I guess shelter might be too much to figure out, right now. At least the jungle shouldn't get as cold at night as the desert does. Do you need anything else first? Food? Water?"

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"No, thank you, I'm alright. Right now I just want to get these off. Do you want me to take the first watch?" 

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" - uh, if you'd rather. I am, uh, not entirely sure that I can sleep under these conditions at this level of tiredness? Given the birds and the humidity and the lack of anything resembling a bed." And the trying and failing not to have any particular feelings about being alone with Elie. "But I can try. I'm sure it'll work at some point."

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"Or I'll take the second watch, I'm pretty tired already – I'm an idiot. They took my ring. I'm going to need a full night's rest." He seems vaguely insulted by this. "I'm sorry, I know it's not ideal. I don't like the idea of leaving you alone that long."

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"Ah. I mean, it's not ideal - especially since if I have to wake you up you'll lose your spells - but I guess we just have to do the best we can with it. Maybe I should take - we don't know what condition you're gonna be in, I think, and if it'll be at least eight hours for you then it's probably better for me to have all of my spells back so I have a better chance of responding to anything that comes by?"

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"Yeah. It's alright, I'll wait up. See if I can get some kind of a shelter together." 

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Nod.

Well. She can try to sleep, then. It's too damp, and too dirty, and Elie is right over there having who knows what thoughts about this entire situation, but it's very important that she get to sleep if she can. She tries to think about herself being petrified, so she has to stay still, and tries her best not to think about what effect all of this is going to have on Elie's interest or lack thereof in marrying her. Maybe she will think about how many plants she can name that might live around here. That's a better line of thought.

It takes what seems like an unbearably long amount of time, but eventually she drifts off.

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He makes a half-hearted attempt at putting together a lean-to, but without free hands it's pretty obviously futile, so after about half an hour he sits down and listens to the jungle and tries to stay awake. 

It's a good time to take stock. He's bone tired, now that he's actually thinking about it, sort of euphoric, sort of scared of what the others will think when they find out what happened. If the journey to Quantium doesn't kill him, Catherine might: she knew Charles-Alexandre, probably better than he did; she'd never have fallen for such an obvious trick. Shawil probably thinks it's no better than he deserves for rebelling against a lawfully appointed monarch. And Naima – 

Naima, who risked her life, traveled to Cheliax, paid gods know how much for a teleport scroll on short notice, and is now stuck in the Mwangi expanse with all sorts of dinosaurs and gorilla-kings and a useless wizard who can't even do magic, has more right to be furious with him than either of them. She doesn't seem angry now, but it might take them days to find their way out of this mess. Days where he's a drag at best and useless dead weight at worst. 

He doesn't like being weak. It's not something he likes about himself – one of the remnants of a Chelish upbringing he hasn't suppressed quite ruthlessly enough. He knows that sound, healthy, normal people don't keep a constant mental ledger of outstanding debts and unexploited weaknesses. He's pretty sure she doesn't. If he were a better person, he'd be able to silence that voice in his head, but he isn't, and he can't, and part of his brain is busy thinking of how to protect himself, settle the score, keep the tables balanced. 

She'd asked him to marry her. He'd pushed her away because he didn't want her to tie herself to the very first slightly acceptable option, the person least likely to beat her or take all her money or neglect her child. But when he thinks of the courage and resolve it must have taken to do what she did today – the idea that she might be frightened of her husband seems insane. 

He's free. He's (relatively) safe. She's probably disgusted with him, now. And as the darkness settles, that last thing seems to weigh more heavily than it should. 

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When she wakes up she startles, because this is a very different place than where she last remembers being. The memories of the last couple days come back to her in the next few seconds. She's stuck in the Mwangi Expanse. She's stuck in the Mwangi Expanse with Elie. She's trying not to think about that part except insofar as it's relevant for making sure that she's - scrupulous about things. Because he might not have thought about this and she doesn't want him to feel bad about it. She doesn't have a very good sense of how far it is to the nearest gap in the mountains, but probably something like a couple hundred miles. She's not at all sure that she got enough sleep to replenish her spells, but she only needs two hours and she thinks she woke up on her own (though it's hard to tell, this place is so much noisier than little desert towns, and even noisier than Sothis is, at least at night).

Elie is going to need sleep more than she did, so she ought to have plenty of time to figure out their next few moves.

"Hey."

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He looks a bit startled. "Hey. Did you get any rest?"

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"Some. Anyone's guess whether it's enough to have replenished anything. I had some spells left over anyway, so we shouldn't be totally sunk either way."

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"That's good. ...I think we should try to get the cuffs off now. There's no point letting me sleep a full eight hours if I won't even be able to prepare my spells at the end of it." 

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She looks up at the sky, which beneath this many trees is totally devoid of information other than the fact that it's dark right now. "I don't know whether it's been long enough. Hexes reset with the day cycle, not with whether I've slept. It should work if it's after midnight, I think."

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"Huh. That's fascinating – I wonder if it's midnight for all witches, the way clerics get their spells at dawn. Except I doubt all the entities capable of empowering witches are capable of making a pact about it the way the gods have, there are probably so many more of them. Does casting a hex feel different from casting a normal spell? I wonder if it's somehow more similar to divine magic – " 

He looks just about dead on his feet. 

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