Jan 20, 2022 8:10 AM
but naima and elie are, we hope, going to have one anyway
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"That's always ideal, yeah."


"We can talk about this more when he's safe and in your custody. But – if you want me to be father to him, well, you know I'm no Abadaran. Any child I raise will learn how to reason for himself and follow his own conscience. I won't interfere with the way you choose to raise him, if that's not what you want. But it is important to me."   


"I am not sure what about my present activities gives you the impression that I am not in the habit of reasoning for myself or following my own conscience. - uh. That was rude. I - don't actually need to have an argument about this right now."


Élie does not say that this might be related to the thing where her father-in-law is trying to take away her child with, apparently, the full support of the local legal establishment, because that would really be getting their marriage off on the wrong foot. 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that you weren't. But I've seen some of how the fathers in Mut are with their children, and – "


Naima is honestly fully aware that these things are related, at this point. She's going to think about what this means for her alignment... later. At a time that is not now.

"Well," she says, "I guess we'll have lots of time to figure out what we're doing." That's not really an answer, but she doesn't actually have any very good answers, here.


That's for sure. 

"Should we talk to your father now?" 


"...yeah, I guess it's not getting any earlier in the day."

Her family is, like all the others, camped out near a makeshift tent, which she can tell isn't going to be big enough to fit all of them. She whispers her spell under her breath without breaking her stride.

"Hi Dad," she says, getting the attention of an Osirian man who's probably in his fifties. "This is Élie, one of the people who was recruited by Inquisitor Shawil to investigate the scorpion attacks. We're going to alert the Osirian government in Alexandria about the situation and anticipate being needed for further, uh, stuff, later, so I thought that maybe he should talk to you now, and not later. He has something to ask you."


Wait, what?? He thought Naima was going to have this conversation. He doesn't know how to talk to middle-aged Osirian men! He doesn't think middle-aged Osirian men would want him marrying their daughters if they knew what his deal was, and frankly that's very stressful! 

"Naima and I are engaged," he says, because surely a short, simple statement of fact is best. 


Oh, right, yeah, that was the thing she thought that she might have to explain to him and then got repeatedly distracted from explaining to him. Really it should have been implied by the fact that they have to charm her father in order to obtain his consent, which is necessary to make the marriage legally valid, but in the end this is still pretty much on her.

          "You're what," demands her father, and she can't even tell if the charm worked or not, because honestly she feels like he would say that even if he was charmed.

" - okay, I think they must do this differently in Galt. Élie would like to marry me. I have spoken to the Inquisitor about it - " and blown him off contemptuously before today - "and he thinks it's a good idea, given that mothers should be married and very few people are going to be interested in marrying a spellcaster. Élie is a wizard, and it doesn't bother him. He's lived here for several years, you know, he's not a stranger. Obviously he's never tried to get married before, though, and I may have - accidentally misled him about the process, knowing that you'd want to see me married again, but obviously I'm aware that no arrangement can take place without your permission. Which is what he'd like to ask for."

She can't tell what her father is thinking because she's looking down, and not at him, lest she make it too obvious what exactly it is she's doing. She has absolutely no idea whether the charm successfully stuck. He's quiet for several seconds, and then -

          "Why do you want to marry my daughter, exactly. Élie."


"Yes. Your permission. I would like to ask for your permission to marry Naima." He thinks he's doing a very good job of not letting it show on his face that he thinks this whole procedure is uncivilized and degrading to the three of them. "Because – I've grown attached to her, and to Rahim, during our travels together. And, uh, one does meet so few female spellcasters in this part of the world, and I'd like to marry a woman who can collaborate in my work." Which is even true, if he thinks back to the part of his life where he'd thought about marrying at all. 


Oh man that's actually a good answer! See! Perfect.

          "Well," says her father. "I'd like to at least sit down to have dinner with you, first."

"There's no time," she says, even though this isn't directed to her. He is charmed, she thinks, he has to be, so hopefully this isn't a problem. "There's, um, we have to leave for Alexandria right away, as soon as possible? So that we can assist the church in correcting the scorpion problem. And I don't know how long that's going to take, but I think it's - more proper to avoid traveling for that long as an unmarried woman, right? So it would be better to do it now."

It dimly occurs to her that she could actually have just told the truth, here, that if her father is charmed - even if he isn't, actually, as long as he's calm - he'll want her to be able to keep the baby. Maybe she didn't have to charm him at all, then? Ugh, too late for that. She's just not used to being open and honest with her parents actually leading to anything she wants. 

Her father is staring at her.

"...also Tariq's father wants to claim custody of Rahim before we go," she says, belatedly, "And - he's so young, you know, he's too small to be separated from me for however long it would take to prepare a proper feast - which we can't do anyway, with the town overrun with scorpions - and - if I'm married then there's no ambiguity, see, between you and him. So if you're going to trust the inquisitor's judgement in the end anyway, then it would be better for everyone to just do it now."


          Somehow that works. Sort of. He doesn't exactly look overjoyed about it, but he nods. "Well. If that's how it is. You want to do it right now, then?"

"Yes. I would."

          "All right. Have you bought the jewelry yet?"


"I have." He takes it out and hopes it's not tacky enough to break the spell Naima's father is under. 


Honestly Naima's father looks mildly impressed, which is probably because unlike Uncle Jacques he can't tell that it wasn't actually dug out of a three thousand year old tomb. Although honestly the pieces are perfectly fine in their own right, for a farmer's daughter, it's not like Tariq's were any more objectively valuable.

          "Well, all right. I'll get your mother, and anyone else we can round up."

...right. Her mother. Who is not charmed. "Do you have to?"

          "Well, she has a right to see her own daughter get married, doesn't she?"

" - well," she says, lamely, "She already saw it once."

          Her father looks at her like she's mildly insane. It is not a new expression. "Wait here."

Great. Well. Okay. She'll wait here, then.


"Is there a reason you don't want your mother present?" 

....that's a stupid question. She's marrying the strange foreigner under duress and doesn't want to rub salt in the wound. 


"Well, she's not charmed. I like her fine, if that's what you're asking."


"Oh. ....Do we also need her permission?"


"Well, no, but - "

Somewhere off behind several tents, too far away to make out individual words, there's a loud conversation between a man and a woman that cannot quite be described as a screaming argument.

"She's not an idiot."


Well, Naima had to get it from somewhere. 

"Alright, then, thirty-second version, what does she want in a son-in-law?" 


"Um - going to provide for me and not run off, going to, uh, want to raise my son, appreciates me in particular on some level, not easily exasperated and therefore likely to put up with me for any length of time... keeps promises, respectful, oh wow I thought that was going to take them longer - "

Her father is returning with her mother in tow, a woman about a decade his junior.

     "There, you see," her father says when they get close enough, gesturing at Élie. "The scribe. He read the will for us when Tariq died."

"I see," says her mother, who is looking between Naima and Élie as if trying to determine which of them she needs to murder. (It's Naima. Naima kind of wishes that there were a good way to signal to her mother that it's not Élie, but that would kind of interfere with her other plans, here.)


Oh gods this woman looks like she wants to murder him. 

"Enchanted to make your acquaintance, Madame, uh –" 



"Farah," says her mother, icily.



" - okay, great, now we can go," says Naima.

          "We'd better round everyone else up," says her father.

          "I don't think that's necessary," says her mother.

"Yeah, I don't think we need to," says Naima, because after all she's the one who charmed him and he's probably more likely to listen to her? "Look, we can - come back and have a real celebration later, okay, but right now we need to get this done and head out to Alexandria to get the scorpion problem dealt with."

          "And this can't wait until after that," says her mother.

"No, mom, it can't. Let's just - go find Saira."

She's gonna turn and walk in the direction of the area where Saira was set up, last she saw, and hope that everyone else follows her without requiring any further explanations.


Élie is going to follow her and look very respectful and trustworthy and parentally-inclined and also insofar as is possible not like he's responsible for this situation! 



When they get to Saira's tent, her mother very calmly informs Saira that Naima's father is under a spell, as Naima probably could have predicted she would do, if she hadn't been so insistently barreling forward, in the hopes that momentum alone would be enough to make the plan go off without a hitch. Her father is offended, but Saira, of course, is aware of the conversation that Naima had with her not two hours ago, and she's known him for upwards of thirty years now, so she talks, and talks, no matter how how Naima tries to interrupt her, until the spell snaps on its own. Then Saira tries to talk him down from reacting, but even Saira's powers have their limits.

Her father slaps her. Only once, hard enough to bruise. It stings less than the words.

          "You just have no respect, do you. And no sense of self-preservation. It never enters your head that the rules might exist to protect you, to keep you from doing something so idiotic that only you would think of it - "

          "Abdul - " says her mother, plaintively.

          Her father shrugs her off. "You want to marry him? You think selling yourself to this Galtan will solve more problems than it causes? You are so confident in this that you would mind control your own father to allow it to happen this very day, rather than heeding any of the advice that I or your mother or the cleric might have given you if you had gone about this remotely honestly?"

Naima says nothing.

          "Well, fine. Marry him. It's none of my business, is it, because no daughter of mine could have made it to adulthood without even the slightest shred of common sense or decency. Belong to this adventurer and see how he treats you, I have no objections. Just don't come crying to me when it's not as you liked, and remember you traded the family that raised you away to have it. You are not my daughter, not after this."




"That counts," she says to Saira, eventually, when her father has stormed off.


Élie is thinking, first, that he really should have asked if charming Naima's father was absolutely necessary, if he hadn't been so willing to assume the worst of Osirian parents – although Naima does know him better than he does and he might just be being naive – second, that nobody's buying anyone, and, third, that he's really not that abysmal as a marriage prospect.

He also consider asking Naima if she's sure she wants to go through with this, but then he sees the look on her face and thinks better of it. 

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