impossible reasons
For Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
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#1
Loren had been trying to coax the luxere closer to the Temple. They were necessary to the protection of everyone during the heart of LongNight, and since the beginning of the season, he'd been doing what he could. Unfortunately, he personally had caused a setback, and had redoubled his efforts to bring them back to the Temple. However, it seemed that few others were willing to join him. So he stood there, voice raised, bag of hay and apples on his back, food trough next to him, Astra by his side.

It was only his companion's presence that made this bearable; without her, the Launceleyn figured he'd have given up long ago. However, every time she gazed up at him with adoring eyes, or rubbed against his side affectionately, he found the strength to keep going. Eventually, a few other luxere gathered around him curiously. After having driven them away with his dragon, he was glad to see they'd be willing to return to the area. Eventually, though, he needed a break, and he took a sip from the water skin to soothe his parched throat.

It early in the day, and the heart of Deepfrost, but even so people were bustling around. However, most folks gave Loren a wide berth. And it wasn't because of his singing, which was fine. It was because he looked like a phantasm rather than a man. He couldn’t blame them—though the sight of people scurrying out of his path was quite annoying—given how he looked. He was dressed all in black, and it clung to his gaunt frame like a second skin. His hood was up, so all that was visible of him was the too pale skin of his face, the pink of his lips, and the icy blue of his eyes.

Amalia
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#2
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
Amalia, too, is trying to coax the luxere into populating the area, though perhaps with a little more success than what Loren has managed to muster. It does not hurt that she has years of experience in befriending the antlered creatures; indeed, there are some she recognizes year by year, affectionately given names based on identifiable features, like Patches, the doe with a particularly dappled back; Quicksilver, a buck with distinctive coloration; and Luna, another doe with a distinctive mark not unlike a crescent moon.

Not among them is the crimson-horned stag from whom Amalia gained her staff- the very staff which now leans upon the wall she sits beside, settled on a bench under the eaves from whence she can observe the comings and gongs. Unobtrusive yet centralized: the perfect place to assemble a small herd of luxere, three or four milling about while a small fawn nibbles from her hand. Jyoti has a lot to do with it, or so Amalia thinks. There is nobody and nothing that does not love the creature, and the Shield is grateful for her outgoing companion, the easy way the starwhale interacts with the world.

She does not spot the man at first, too caught up in her own little group of luxere. Her voice is a low also hum as she sings snippets of a folk song about Ludo and Frey. It is only when he turns and she catches a glimpse of the man's gaunt face that Amalia recognizes Loren among his own small herd, the summoner looking somehow worse than the last time she saw him. Uncertain of whether to greet him or flee, the baker settles for a halfhearted smile, unconsciously rubbing the bare spot on her wrist as Jyoti croons a greeting to the man, swimming over unabashed despite her soulmate's troubled thoughts.
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
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#3
The sight of Jyoti was unmistakable. As the fish came over for some scritches—yes, the summoner still thought she was a fish, because no one had chosen to enlighten him about what she actually was—he put the waterskin away before his hands came up to oblige. Just because he was still a little leery around people didn’t mean he wouldn’t be affectionate towards creatures of all sorts. They never did anything to hurt him.

On the subject of people, however, his gaze sought out Jyoti’s companion. After all, where the starwhale went, the baker followed, or vice versa. Eventually, the Launceleyn’s eyes found her, and he watched as she reacted to his presence. That’s all he did, watched, an inscrutable expression on his face.

Maybe if Amalia had just smiled at Loren, he would’ve, well, not smiled back. He wasn’t in a smiling mood. However, he might've nodded back in acknowledgement. Unfortunately, she also rubbed at her wrist. His eyes narrowed at the sight, and grew a bit harder and colder. Apparently, she was still hung up on the fact that he’d healed her scars by accident. Well, if she needed a constant physical reminder of the time she died, that was her problem, not his. He’d made a mistake, apologized for it, and if she couldn’t accept that, he couldn’t help her. And he definitely couldn't help her with her memories of dying and struggle to live.

So, making sure she saw what he was doing, he gave Jyoti one last pat, then turned back to his much smaller herd of luxere. Then, he raised his voice in a song that spoke of his homeland, of patriotism, of devoting oneself to a higher cause. His baritone, while not the strongest or the prettiest or most well trained, was good enough, and a few more luxere ambled up, watching him with wide eyes. Shrugging off his bag, he held out apples in one hand and hay in the other. He didn’t have time for Amalia’s nonsense. After all, he had a job to do, and he would do it without interference.
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#4
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
The Loren who greets her with an overt scowl is a far cry from the one she left on the floor of the Temple, and Amalia cannot help but narrow her eyes in turn, her half smile fading as her brows come together in a frown. Never one for the nuances of coiled intrigue and subtle barbs, she is utterly bewildered by his overt dislike, the way he makes a point of pampering Jyoti before turning his back to the bewildered baker.

Is he... Angry? At her? For leaving him like that? It's the only thing she can swiftly think of, and Amalia's grasp on her wrist tightens as anxiety flares up in her veins. Guilt and frustration rise in her throat as Loren's song ring out through the square, a solid baritone espousing the virtues of Northaven in a truly bizarre turn. It is more than enough to drown out the girl's own soft alto; Amalia finds herself growing silent as she listens head tilted and expression confused.

At last it becomes too much for Amalia, who is utterly incapable of letting things lie. Biting her cheek, the girl waits for a lull in the singing before interjecting a quiet comment. "Loren,"- and then she falters, because what else is she to say? Are you angry? Are you okay? Steal anyone else's scars recently? In the end she settles on something safer, or so the girl hopes: "What was that song?"
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
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#5
As soon as Amalia spoke to him, Loren’s voice cut off. Closing his eyes for a brief moment, he tried to find some last reserve of patience and resilience, but it was all gone, washed away by recent events. At least the dull aches and emptiness inside had been filled with a cold fury. Still, he’d been getting a handle on it. Mostly. He could talk to most people without losing it right away, which was better than when he’d first erupted. Of course, that was just most people: the baker, however, was someone who he vaguely knew, and wasn’t sure had liked him before his transformation. Now he was pretty sure he didn't like her either.

At her questions, he simply regarded her for a while. ”Amalia.” Nodding in acknowledgement of her presence, his gaze never left her face. His voice matched his eyes, and both of them were chilly. ”It’s an anthem from the world I left behind. A world that was always at war. One that’s probably dead, now, along with most of the people in it.” Which included most of the summoner’s family; worse than that, the ones that had made it to Caido were also mostly dead or gone now, leaving him all alone. Once that would’ve bothered him, but these days he just accepted it as a fact. Indeed, if no one was going to welcome him—least of all those Naturals, all of whom seemed to possess a natural distrust of Outlanders, and the Launceleyn more than most—than he wasn’t going to act as if they had or should.

The question struck him as totally false, coming from the baker. ”Why do you care?” She didn’t even like him, and certainly didn’t trust him. So he definitely wasn’t going to trust in her reasons for coming here. Astra, sensing his distress, simply backed away, giving an anxious bleat. His luxere had seen these signs in him too many times, and knew that chances were the baker was going to get a tongue-lashing. While Astra hated this side of Loren she knew she couldn’t get through to him when he got wound up like this. For his part, he just maintained his cool and aloof demeanor.
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,971
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#6
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
He is positively frigid as he says her name, and Amalia resists the urge to shiver at his utter lack of warmth or inflection. The baker's gaze narrows a little as she meets Loren's icy glare, guarded and confused by the strangely aloof manner in which he replies to her simple question. He must be angry, then, irate with her reaction to his healing. A reaction he had treated as reasonable at the time- and perhaps this is the most befuddling aspect of it all.

The song is an anthem from Northaven, which means she was correct about the snippets she caught. What she does not expect is his terse follow-up, almost an accusation as it flings from his lips. Why do you care? Shrugging slightly at his question, Amalia bites her lip uneasily before answering, not understanding the wording, the things behind his sharp and unforgiving tone. Why does she care? Why is she bothering? What does she possibly hope to achieve?

In the end, she settles on an answer that is simple yet honest. "I like to learn about the places people come from," the Shield replies softly, glancing at Astra as the luxere bleats anxiously and Jyoti swims over toward her young friend's side. Again Amalia bites her lip, clearly uncertain and a little at a loss. She really ought to let this go, but she is a stubborn sort, and anxious, and letting go is as far from her repertoire as anything has ever been. Turning her onyx eyes back to Loren, the baker tilts her head. "Are you angry?" With me stays caught behind her teeth, but the implication is in her angular face, the way she gazes up at the slender man.
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
MP:
#7
Although Jyoti’s light was calming, it wouldn’t actually help in this situation. That was because the issue wasn’t that Loren was out of control. Quite the opposite: he had an almost scary grip on himself, and so, as Amalia shrank away from his voice he seemed to stand up a little straighter. It seemed that she, like so many other people, didn’t like to see him in this state. Well that was too bad. Maybe if they’d shown him a little more kindness and a little less suspicion, recognized that he was unwell and needed help, not pity or threats, it wouldn’t have come to this. However, it was a little too late for that.

So, when the baker answered his question in such an inane manner, he simply smirked. ”Really? Is that so you can escape your own?” His eyes grew chillier, and though his breath fogged out white, it was nothing compared to what he felt within. Amalia had never really seemed interested in the Launceleyn’s homeworld before, so he seriously doubted she cared now. No doubt she was just looking for some convenient excuse to placate him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t going to be placated or patronized, not any longer.

And then she had the audacity to ask if he was angry. The summoner chuckled, the sound dark and low. ”Yes, Amalia. I’m furious. Do you really want to know why?” He leaned forward, not trying to intimidate her, per se, just trying to make her uncomfortable. ”Maybe it had a little something to do with the fact that I am all alone. Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s related to the fact that you threatened my life after I came back from a mental breakdown, and told me I was useless and stupid on top of that. Or maybe it has something to do with the way you keep rubbing your wrist, as if I was the cause of your woes.” Her death was not on him, and he very much didn’t appreciate the fact that she was trying to make him feel responsible for that, somehow. ”I’m not.” Then he grinned, though it didn’t reach his eyes and had a cruel edge to it. ”At least not yet.” No doubt she’d break down before his verbal tongue-lashing like everyone else.
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,971
MP:
#8
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
It's official, Amalia thinks as she listens, bewildered, to Loren's tirade. All the Launcelyns are insane. She tried not to wince as he dug fingers into wounds there's no way he can know about, asking if she wants to escape. Of course she does: she was born in a cage, trapped behind invisible walls, unable to see the world without. Amalia has always yearned for other places, other experiences. She has never been content.

But the rant, the venom, the things he spews? This Amalia does not flinch from, though her unhappiness is obvious as leopard fur sprouts on her neck and claws grow off her fingers, digging anxious furrows into her wrist. Of all the things the baker takes unnecessary responsibility for, threatening his life is just little too far. Maybe if he'd led with a more reasonable accusation she would feel the guilt he seems to crave.

...maybe she still feels a little.

With a start, though, the Shield releases her wrist, unaware until he brought it up that she'd been rubbing it raw. Clicking her teeth together Amalia clenches her fists, talons cutting into the skin, leaving little bites of blood. She has no answer to his rant, no witty retort or verbal barbs to throw back in his face. But there is fire in her eyes as she meets his icy stare, the tension of a wild animal ready to spring, of a wounded thing backed into a corner. "Are you going to hurt me, Loren?" she asks almost mildly, though her alto voice comes out unsteady, a clear indicator of her underlying fear.
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
Change author:
Posts: 4,062
MP:
#9
Like Remi, Amalia wore her emotions on her sleeve, and in the fur and other changes that rippled through her body at the summoner’s words. It wasn’t exactly a comparison that Loren wanted at the moment, given everything between the two men. Maybe if the baker had stayed away, or shown more control of her emotions, or hadn’t seemed so similar to the man who’d broken the Launceleyn’s heart, he would’ve considered sparing her. As it was, when she flinched, and spoke fearfully, he sensed blood in the water.

Time to take a few more bites out then. Chuckling at her question—though there was no mirth in the sound—he let her stew for a few moments before he responded. ”Physically, no.” He started walking in a lazy circle around her; however, despite his slow steps, he looked more like a predator stalking its prey than anything else. ”I’m not even going to threaten you with violence.” However, there were other kinds of hurt, and he made no mention of those. At least not yet.

He smiled, the expression slow and cold. It definitely did not reach his eyes. ”What’s that they always say? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Dropping his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, even the hint of a smile was wiped from his face. ”Do you think it makes parents feel better to lie to their children? You see, mine never did. They were very clear that the reason they were torturing me was because I was weak and disobedient.” Pausing for a brief second, he halted so the full impact of his words could sink in. ”And now I’m strong enough to impress even them.” They were dead, but hey, better late than never.
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,971
MP:
#10
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
Physically, no. It isn't particularly reassuring, especially the way Loren says it, his voice sharp shards of ice glittering in the cold. He circles her in a strangely predatory fashion, and Amalia watches from her place on the bench, keen eyes following with catlike precision, more fur rising on her arms. In truth she has no idea what is going on, only that he is acting like a man possessed, driven by something other than himself. The Loren she knows is pompous, yes, with martyr and savior complexes both in spades. He stretches himself thin and attempts to fix the world without actually making any steps to fix himself. Has he finally broke, then, snapped beneath the weight of too many burdens, too many failures, too much loss?

Is this the road she will go down, too?

He talks about his parents, his upbringing, about sticks and stones. He says that he was weak and obedient- "Were you?" she Shield interjects softly, still watching, her dark eyes sharp. She cannot help but think that his parents don't particularly sound like the kind of people who one would want to impress, but it is only one of a thousand anxious concerns that rushes through her head. "Are you?"

She was not raised the way he was, with shows of force and flashing fangs. This is a strange dance, and she does not know the steps, does not know how to be anything but blunt. "What happened to you?" she wonders, tilting her head and making an effort not to return to rubbing her wrist. Maybe if they were friends she would be kinder, but there is something about the former Duke that leaves her edges sharp. "You don't seem strong right now. You seem like a dick."
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
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#11
Amalia’s question just got more chilling grins. ”I was weak, yes. And so it didn’t matter how obedient I was.” Indeed, Loren had followed all the rules, listened to his elders, even stopped crying when they flayed him with magic, because it bothered them so. However, his own abilities hadn’t progressed fast or far enough to ever satisfy his family. ”I am, stronger than I’ve ever been. Though I suppose that depends on your definition of strength.” No doubt she had a very different view of that than he did.

Switching up the circle to pace slowly back and forth in front of the leopardess, the summoner’s eyes never left her. ”There's one way we could find out if I'm stronger now. Care for another round?” Because the Launceleyn had been holding himself back for fear of hurting the baker. However, though he’d promised not to physically harm her, if she asked for it that wasn’t his problem. Indeed, he’d welcome flexing his mental and actual muscles. She'd probably turn him down, more's the pity.

Then Amalia asked the question that seemed to be on everybody’s mind these days. Luckily, he was more than willing to answer this one. His voice came out conversationally, almost, though darkness still lurked in his eyes ”Childhood of trauma and abuse, I’m surrounded by people who are suspicions of me, my actions and intentions, Remi asked me to kiss him, I have no friends or loved ones left, not really, someone sent Ludo after me, it’s anyone’s guess really, so take your pick.” It had been a long Deepfrost for the Launceleyn, and they hadn’t even reached LongNight yet. While he probably should’ve been less forthcoming about what had happened to him, everyone was already gossiping about it, so there didn’t seem to be much need to hold back. ”Turns out, I’m okay being a dick. At least this way people tell me how they really feel about me." He tilted his head to regard her with a cold, almost clinical stare."You know, I could never figure out if you liked me or not, Amalia.”
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#12
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
Loren is correct that the Shield will pass on a rematch of physical prowess, not particularly wanting to unleash the anger that has begun to build beneath her skin. Gripping the bench tightly she continues to watch the summoner pace, dark eyes never leaving him, as though afraid he'll strike her if she lets him from her sight.

The answer she expects and the one she gets are vastly different, and Amalia blinks at the sudden outpouring of problems, unable to keep the feelings of sympathy that rise up for the man. But at least one of the comments gives her real pause, causing her to do a double take. "Remi asked you to kiss him?" the girl repeats, disbelief in her alto voice, a frown between her brows as she shakes her head. "I'm sorry. That's a lot." Sympathy, not pity, purses her lips, her hands relaxing a fraction.

Oh, bit then he faces her head on and she tenses again, not particularly excited for whatever he has to throw her way next. Again she does not expect the observation, and a snort of mirthless, uncomfortable laughter leaves her at the observation. Truth be told, Amalia doesn't know if she likes the summoner or not. "I don't like you much right now," she replies almost wryly, a little at a loss for what he wants her to say. "I don't know you very well. But you always seem to want to try to be good, to do the right thing, and I... I respect that." it's about as complimentary as she currently feels like being.

She doesn't ask if he likes her. The answer feels fairly obvious, at this point.
Amalia
Loren Launceleyn
Citadel Grand Healer

Age: 22 | Height: 5' 11' | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 8 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 23 - Endr: 26 - Luck: 29
ASTRA - Mythical - Luxere
Played by: Crooked Offline
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Posts: 4,062
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#13
Whatever it was that Amalia was offering in her voice, her words, her eyes, Loren wasn’t willing or able to accept it. His own eyes hardened, and his tone dropped in both pitch and temperature. Of course, of everything he’d told her—he really thought the childhood of abuse and trauma might’ve gotten more of a reaction—she focused on the kiss. Typical. ”Yes. Remi asked me to kiss him. And I really don’t need you of all people to explain to me that ‘it’s a lot.’” He couldn’t help the mocking tone that crept into his voice on the last three words. But the truth was, the baker couldn’t possibly fathom just how much it really was.

”Apparently, he needed to prove to us both that I’d never do anything to hurt him or his marriage.” The Launceleyn smiled one of those grim little smiles of his, his pace never faltering. ”Of course, this was after I told him that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize what he and Ronin had, and that I would stay away from him because I just brought him pain. Apparently he wasn’t as concerned with my feelings, but that’s alright. I’ve realized that he was the selfish one, for wanting me in his life, when all I wanted to do was move on. Finally did that, by the way.” If this wasn’t moving on in spectacular fashion, he didn’t know what was.

He tilted his head at Amalia’s admission that she didn’t like him very much right now. ”That’s fair. I don’t like you very much right now either.” Of course, that wasn’t anything personal: the Launceleyn hated everyone at the moment, and the baker was pretty low on the list at that. ”At least you’re honest with me. Though I’ll tell you, I think the whole you’re a good person so long as you try to do good think is another lie. I don’t think trying is enough. Not unless you succeed every once in a while” Which he never had.

His gaze did its best to pierce her and pin her to her bench, since he wasn't done speaking to her. ”I’m curious. What was it that you hated about me? Was it that I put your precious books at risk? Was it my last name? Was it simply that I was an eager Outlander and you Naturals just hate that someone else might have a good idea for a change?” He smirked. ”Or was it that you saw another lost soul and couldn’t bear that I reminded you of your own inner darkness.” Although he wasn’t sure, he was almost certain it was the last comment that was the hardest for her.
LOREN
Not quite an open book
Force and magic can be used against Loren without permission.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,971
MP:
#14
meet me where the falling stars live
I will wait for you day and night
She doesn't feel like she tried to lecture him on anything, but it is an accusation leveled against her frequently, and Amalia bristles a little bit, retreating further within himself. But as he explains the event with Remi, the baker cannot help as her bewilderment grows, furrowing her eyebrows as the story unwraps. Honestly, Amalia is the last person to advise on or understand relationships- she has only had the one. But what Loren is describing doesn't sound particularly healthy.

Nor does it sound like moving on, but what does Amalia know.

Here's the thing about trying her best: Amalia cannot not believe in it, because at the end of the day trying is all she has. She thinks of Safrin, thinks of Ronin, thinks of failures in the Spire and watching the Prince recoil from her gaze. "You're right," the baker replies softly, anger in the tightness of her voice. "But I think I succeed sometimes. And you do, too." Helping with the Prince. Coming back from a nervous breakdown. Working so hard to prepare them for LongNight, to make amends for his cousin's sins- it has to count for something, she thinks, even if it doesn't feel that way now.

But it isn't for her to placate him, to make him feel better. Maybe if they were friends, but Loren has made it abundantly clear that they are not. Indeed, he accuses her outright of hatred, which makes rise up to her feet and clutch her fists in indignant frustration, mouth drawn in a hard, straight line. "I never hated you," Amalia snaps through clenched teeth. "Are you really so full of yourself that you think I'd spend my time and energy hating you?" It is a remix of what Ronin had said to her, except her cruelty has no excuse. She is not blighted, is not sick.

She is simply furious, and tired, and hurt.
Amalia


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