under empty skies
for Samuel
Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#1

Arialla

LongNight had started, and Arialla was officially in Torchline for the duration. She'd found a place to stay, and everything had looked good until the moment the sun and stars vanished from the sky.

It had terrified her, at first, the absence of light -- and the celestial bodies meant more to her than just light. The sun was Apollo, the warm and welcoming god who'd watched over her and helped her in her past life, and even if she knew he could not see her here, the sun's presence was always a comfort. To have it disappear was horrifying. Even the absence of the stars bothered her, though not as much. Safrin had told Arialla that her influence waned during LongNight, but Arialla hadn't expected this -- and even if her feelings about the goddess were confused, she didn't like the idea of being left godless.

And this was the gentle version of LongNight, the one without the horrors that those left behind in the Hollowed Grounds would face, and were probably facing at this very moment.

To distract herself, she acted on the promise she'd made to Amalia, to seek out Samuel. It didn't take long for her to get word of where he was staying, and once she did, she took a lantern and went to knock on his door.

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
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#2
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
As much as Sam had promised he would check out some of the 'night'life (in Longnight, it was all nightlife) during this week, he was finding it very difficult to keep up the momentum. The crowds were often overwhelming and too loud for his liking and a lifetime spent in the Hollowed Grounds had him staring into every dark corner with suspicion, just waiting for a monster to appear and cut its way through the party-goers.

He was spending this day laid in his room, reading a book he had picked up in Haulani: some easy to read adventure romance story, something that he could let his mind fall into without having to think too hard. Indulgent, but that was what he was in the mood for: some time in the day he'd have to wash Zeph's eye and spend the entire time feeling entirely awkward about the totally-not-crush he had, pretending that being close wasn't a special kind of torture; suffice to say he was not in the mood to punish himself unnecessarily.

A knock at the door drew him from the story and with Zeph out doing whatever the native Torchers did at Longnight, he stood to go and answer it. It still felt odd to answer the door in a home that wasn't really his own, but it had been a strange month overall: he was getting painfully used to it. Opening the door, he squinted at the sudden brightness of the lantern light and realised that Arialla was stood there, the woman he had helped when she had arrived at the Spire. "..Oh. H-Hello Arialla...um...is there s..ss..something you ne-need?"
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 2 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 15 - Endr: 14 - Luck: 13
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#3

Arialla

In her head, Arialla had built up the idea she and Sam were friends. His appearance -- the surprised look on his face, the surprise in his voice, his assumption that she wanted something from him -- dealt a heavy blow to that image. She really didn't know him at all ... Well, only one way to fix that.

"No, thank you. I just came to visit you." Arialla smiled, though she could also feel herself blushing -- out of shyness, not attraction, whatever Amalia's unexpressed concerns might be. She was trying not to be sensitive about it, but she couldn't help but get the impression that she was bothering Samuel. "Amalia told me you weren't feeling well. I wanted to drop by and -- and thank you for helping me, that first day."

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
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#4
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
Sam was honestly in the kind of mood where he assumed everyone wanted something from him; the idea that someone could simply want his company felt bizarre. His self esteem had taken such an intense blow in the last few weeks that he barely felt comfortable enough to go outside the house.

"Oh, t-to visit me? I thought...this is Ze-Zeph's house." He looked up at the home as if it might say the true owners name on it and reveal that he was the least exciting person to see at this address. Arialla continued to speak so he looked back to her and gave her a slight smile: 'not feeling well' was certainly a way to put it. "Wh-what exactly di..iii...id she say? Oh - do you wa-ant to come in?"

He stood back to let her in, thinking Zeph hopefully wouldn't mind one house guest in his newly-cleaned kitchen. Even more so, he hoped that Arialla somehow wouldn't notice his stutter, which had returned since the last time they had met.
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#5

Arialla

Arialla most definitely noticed Samuel's stutter, but she was too polite to comment on it. Instead she followed him inside, smiling slightly in an attempt to set him at ease. If she'd known she'd make Sam so nervous, maybe she wouldn't have come ...

"I heard you were staying here," she replied as she entered the house. "Amalia just said you were unwell ... Is there anything I can do to help?"

She hesitated then, wondering if she should broach the subject of theology. While Arialla did want to talk about the gods, she thought it probably wouldn't hurt to make a little small talk first -- anything that might get Sam to relax a little. Though it wasn't exactly a topic that she wanted to spring on him, either. She'd leave it go for now.

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
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Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
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#6
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
Sam pulled out a chair from the kitchen table for Arialla to sit on, going to get some juice from the counter for her: not much point getting himself anything with much taste, so he settled for some water. Putting both glasses down on the table he sat opposite her, trying to get himself into the mood to be social and not embarrassed by his entire person.

"Oh, um..." He wished there was something she could do, but if Amalia and Jigano had both failed by now, he doubted someone as new as Arialla would have the solution. "No. It's n-no-not a normal sickness. I..."

There really wasn't a way to explain this without bringing up the Voice, so he supposed it would just have to come up right away. "I le..left my Goddess, the Vo-Voice. She to..took a lot of my strength and abi-ability. And my speech, too." He offered with an embarrassed, half-laughed smile, hoping it might clear up the confusion she had to feel over his suddenly changed voice.
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#7

Arialla

"Thank you," Arialla said, sitting and taking the juice. She managed to inhale it by gasping when Samuel explained his situation, and had to get through a coughing fit before she could respond. Putting the glass down, she finally said, "Samuel, I'm so ... sorry. I was going to ask you about the Voice, actually, but I understand if you don't want to talk about her. Do ... Why did you leave her, if you don't mind me asking? You don't have to tell me if it's personal."

And does she still have your soul? That question rose in Arialla's mind, but she nixed it: asking about the state of someone's soul seemed terribly intimate for a man that she actually barely knew. And she suspected that answering would only make Samuel more miserable, as well.

The idea that the Voice might withdraw her gifts from a rebellious follower didn't surprise Arialla in the least -- she was rather more surprised that the Voice hadn't simply struck Samuel down on the spot. But she didn't really understand the extent of Sam's debilitation, either.

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
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#8
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
Sam knew that his current position with the Gods was poor indeed, but he didn't expect such a dramatic reaction from Arialla; he leaned forward concerned, only leaning back when it seemed she wasn't about to choke to death. "It's f...fffine. I think I sh-should talk about it. No one d-does, and...I think more As-Ascended need to know." That you could leave, even if it was at a price: that there was more to life than service to the Voice.

"...I left b-because.." So many reasons and a lot of them could not be entirely told. He tried to think of a way to summarise, to put it together for an outsider. "..The Voice d-demands things of us tha-that I don't ag..agree with and man-manipulates us into doing them. She is...is..kind and ge-gentle in person, but..." He let out a sigh with a tinge of bitter laughter to it. "If you wan-want to end your time with her...you will d-die. It's a trap."
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#9

Arialla

Arialla nodded, setting aside her juice. "If you want to talk about it, I'm happy to listen. I don't exactly feel friendly towards the Voice myself, to be honest."

And what tolerance she did feel towards the Voice had mostly been engendered by Samuel himself -- and Osozo, a little, but mostly Sam. Hearing that he had grown disillusioned with her only made Arialla more suspicious of the goddess -- even more so as she listened and realized that he had far more reason to hate her than Arialla did.

What could Arialla say to Samuel's description? She felt like condemning the Voice's behavior would only tell him what he already knew: that she'd mistreated him. And those last words -- was he going to die for leaving the Voice? Arialla would have asked for clarification on that point, but she didn't want to be alarmist.

The truth was, what Samuel described wasn't that different from how Arialla viewed the gods at home. "Where I'm from, we look at the gods as ... forces of nature, more than people. They don't really care about mortals. They find us entertaining, or they use us for their own ends, to glorify themselves or get a leg up on other gods. It's like ... if a prize ram pleased you, you might give it a treat as a reward, but that wouldn't stop you from hitting it if it went the wrong way, or slaughtering it if you were hungry. Or simply if you had no further use for it and didn't want to feed it anymore."

Well, that was depressing. Arialla sat back a little. "The Voice ... She wants to claim she's building a family, doesn't she? But she's really just using people, like any other god. You can't ... I never expect any of them to act as a mortal would. With compassion, or loyalty."

And then, that last, most important question, one that she had to put calmly in the hopes of not making him feel even worse: "Samuel, will leaving the Voice cost you your life?"

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
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#10
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
It was not surprising to hear Arialla did not think well of the Voice: Who did these days, except the most apathetic of non-followers and devoted of Ascended? Sam remembered the praise he had given the Goddess when he'd first met the Outlander girl and now it made him cringe: how thoughtlessly committed he had been, how blind.

He listened to the story about Arialla's home carefully, glad to have a chance to hear about somewhere else's troubles. Sipping at his water, he wondered how it might change Caido if they were to view their Gods through that framework: less like Lords and more like the wind, like something natural that could change on a whim. It would certainly make more sense in a lot of circumstances. "...You sa-said you were a Pr..Priestess, didn't you? Why, if your G-gods were like that?"

Sam sighed, nodded at the words on the Voice. He'd wanted to believe for a long time they weren't true, but Arialla was probably right. "It do-does feel like we're d..disposable, to her." After all, the Longnight monsters and The Prince were tossed away toys of an age before his own: was he just the latest in that list?

The last question was one he had been grappling with for a couple of days...he paused, fiddled with the cuff of his sleeve. "..I th-think so, yes. Eventually. I c..can't live too long without fluid. I have bl-blood, but..it's n..not enough." Not meeting her eyes, he tried to blink back the sudden pricking of tears.
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#11

Arialla

Arialla paused; it took her a moment to make sense of Sam's question. The idea of simply not worshiping the gods was completely outside her experience. Of course you worshiped the gods, however fickle or cruel they might be. They required it. "The gods can be kind, at their whims. I pleased Apollo, and he blessed me. And they can bring great misfortune to those who disrespect them, or fail to show proper reverence. We need -- well, at home we needed priests to keep the gods happy, to bring good fortune on our people. I guess you don't really have that here."

She kept herself from telling Samuel that of course he was disposable to the Voice, that he shouldn't have expected any different. Even if part of her rather believed that, it wasn't helpful. Instead she said, "I know it must hurt, to think that she didn't care about you. But ... if it helps, it's not your fault. It's not because you did anything wrong; she's just not capable of it."

Though if the Voice had once been mortal, then presumably she had once cared about people, once been able to care about people ... But what kind of mortal tried to make herself a god? Arialla couldn't answer that question.

And then there was the matter of Samuel's impending death. Arialla wasn't sure what he meant by fluid, or blood, since she didn't actually know much about the Ascended. But she understood that he would die without the Voice. And if he died -- the Voice kept the Ascended's souls, didn't she? Did that include Ascended who had displeased her? And what punishment might such an individual face in the afterlife? "Samuel, I'm so sorry. If there's anything I can do ..."

She knew he had more competent people in his corner, people like Amalia who actually knew Caido well and had the power to create real change. There wasn't much Arialla could do in comparison. But she still wanted to help. "I ... I talked to Safrin about the Voice. She wasn't as keen on the idea of fighting her as I expected, to be honest. But I want to help, however I can."

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
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#12
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
Sam sighed at the answer Arialla gave; it was all so deeply unfair. He had seen that the Gods could be cruel, petty, mislead, ridiculous. Why should they have agency over all else, the control that they did? They were no more deserving of it than he would be, had he come into the world a God. He didn't voice these thoughts for two reasons: firstly because Arialla was an Outlander and likely was missing some some context on Caido's specific Deities, but also because they felt blasphemous and dangerous to say out loud.

He knew that the Gods watched and listened.

Was the Voice capable of caring about people? She certainly seemed to care for Wessex. "...I...d-do think..that the Voice th..thinks, that she is ca-caring and good to us." He sighed, shrugged: who knew anymore, really?

Arialla's offer to help was appreciated but ultimately not much use. Giving her a sad smile, he shook his head. "No, th-thank you. I already h..have all I need. The ma..man I live with le-lets me dri..drink his blood. My sis-sister has talked to the O...Old Gods. There isn't anything else t-to try."
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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Arialla Calimeris


Age: 21 | Height: 5'5" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#13

Arialla

Arialla had a vague idea of what Sam might be thinking, with that sigh. When they first met, he'd asked what gave the gods the right to rule over them, hadn't he? Something like that. The truth was, Arialla still didn't know how to even begin addressing that question. The gods were simply gods; it wasn't a moral question, in Arialla's mind. You might as well ask what gave the wind the right to blow.

"Perhaps she does," Arialla said sympathetically. "She may not truly see or understand the consequences her actions have on others. Or perhaps she is unwilling to do so."

In Arialla's experience, gods had only a vague grasp of mortal emotions -- though her meeting with Safrin had suggested that this was not the case for Caido's gods. Still, plenty of mortals had trouble realizing how much they were hurting others, too.

Arialla nodded, a solemn bowing of her head, though she did have to try not to think about "drink his blood." Not going to ask, not going to ask ... But she'd known the chances that she could actually help Samuel were low. She just wanted to feel less useless. "Well, if there is anything you need, feel free to call on me. It doesn't have to be a grand solution -- just any way I can help."

Part of her wondered if she might regret such an open-ended offer, but it wasn't as if she had a lot else going on during LongNight; she could run errands for Samuel if he needed it.

please don't take my sunshine away


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Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
Level: 7 - Strg: 20 - Dext: 16 - Endr: 18 - Luck: 18
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#14
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
"Mmm...I mean, I d-do think the Gods see thi..things in a way we can't und..understand. Though, ma-maybe the opposite is true too. That they can-can't see things our way." Sam supposed that was really the crux of the matter: if he was going to work with the Voice, she had to make it make sense for him, in his way of perceiving the world. And at the moment, the things they had been doing? They really didn't.

Honestly, whether or not the Gods had emotions was somewhat irrelevant: did they have morals? Given what the Voice had been willing to send her children into this Longnight, he wasn't sure. The Blight had been handwaved away and why would she feel any different about the death of her own people, when she could just make more?

Had all these thoughts been in his head the whole time?

"Th-thank you. But...the on...one thing I do have is go-good people." Despite everything, he did smile as he said this because it was true and that was amazing. "..So..um...h-how are you settling in? I'd mu..much rather t-talk about that."
And fuck you for making me
Think that this life might be fair
SAMUEL
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