Personal Quest Solid Foundations
Maea Valair
Loreseeker

Age: 23 | Height: 156 cm / 5'1 ft | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 5 (Level 1 Attuned) - Strg: 13 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 21 - Luck: 11
SHII - Regular - Will-o-Wisp
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#1
No one else seemed inclined to do what was necessary. People were making moves in the right direction, and in a hundred different wrong ones as well, and that just wasn't good enough. With the Spire demon dead and the gods saying different things, with some clamoring to get out and others blocking the way, the inhabitants of the Hollowed Grounds had never been more fractured. But maybe, possibly, this was also an opportunity to make everyone speak up. A voice from every faction, a voice for every possible perspective... It might make it easier for everyone to be heard, and to reach a conclusion. It might not be what everyone wanted but at least they could try to work together.

But for that to happen, they would need a place to be. A locale that was large and defendable and easy to reach, on neutral grounds... and Maea knew just the place.

It had sat for centuries by the large square, right there by the market place where people walked past every day. A large building built from pale stone, intact for the most part save broken windows and the missing front door. Three stories high, with foundation stones larger than she was tall, it radiated a quiet dignity and pride that she felt was very suitable for the purpose she had in mind.

As she walked through the empty rooms with Ludo's black scarf wrapped loosely about her shoulders, Maea took stock of the things that would need to be done immediately for the building to be functional.

The roof and front door needed replacing. She had called in favors from neighbors and family friends for material and working hands, but someone would have to lead the work to make sure it was done properly.

A meeting hall on the second floor would need to be swept clean and scrubbed. She had picked a grand one with space for at least fifty wears,  It was lacking all furniture, however, and something would have to be done about the chorus bees that had built a nest by the ceiling.

The building would have to be made defencible too; right now it was open to the elements with too many exits, and she had found no floorplan in the Atheneum so one would have to be created.

Then, there was the matter of that scuffling sound that came from the third floor. It could be rats, but it could be something nastier too...

And lastly, the house needed a thorough cleaning. A broom and assorted cleaning utensils awaited by the gate, but though Maea itched to get started, she waited patiently to see if anyone would come.

If they did not, this would be doomed from the start, becuse Maea could not do this alone.




This is a Personal Quest to establish leadership over the Hollowed Grounds!

Invites have been sent out to Rory Evie Roana Jigano and Samuel and they have 48 hours to reply to claim a spot. After that, any remaining spots can be claimed provided that you have met Maea at least once in a thread with 3 people or less.

There are 5 open Court positions! Posting order is suspended.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
MAEA
just a glimpse of truth
Permission granted for magic/violence, short of killing.
Unless otherwise stated, Maea is always wearing Ludo's Rags around her shoulders.
Evie Wordsworth
the Evergreen
Queen of the Hollowed Grounds / Apothecarist

Age: 28 | Height: 5'5 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 11 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 18
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#2
EVIE
there ain't no doubt in no ones mind
WHAT.

Evie could hardly believe what it was she was reading.

Maea. Maea. The one who used to have troubles brushing her own hair because her arms would get tired? The Maea who needed an ointment for every inch of her skin because even the sun seemed to be against her?

That Maea?

There was no way Evie was going to miss this.

And so, setting off bright and early ("On time is late" as her mother used to say), Evie arrived full of skepticism, a healthy dose of superiority, and her trademark smile.

Actually the building that Maea had chosen made some sense. It was central, large, and had probably once been used as some sort of government building anyways. Point 1, Maea, Evie thought with a smirk as she let herself in.

"Maea? Are you her—" The words died on her lips as she stared at the pale-everything'd woman. "Are you wearing rags?!"
that love's the finest thing around

Table by Sky!
Roana Steadman
Soldier

Age: 28 | Height: 5'8" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 6 - Strg: 24 - Dext: 26 - Endr: 24 - Luck: 11
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#3
Roana had been shocked to receive the summons to join a governing council. Her? An Outlander? Could no one decide if her kin were to be embraced or spurned? But then she saw who the missive was from, an a smirk curved her lips. What an interesting turn of events. The shy little girl from the Oasis was actually using her voice to do something! Perhaps her little pep talk had helped her (at any rate Roana was going to believe she had helped boost her confidence in some way).

Well. The least she could do was show up. With all the unrest perhaps diplomacy was the only way to keep bloodshed from happening. Dressed in her military gear – just in case things went south – she arrived promptly, if not a few minutes early. Following an unfamiliar redhead in she glanced about the cavernous space, a small smile on her lips. Yes, this definitely had the potential to be quite the hall. A chiding voice stole her attention and she looked over, seeing Maea being spoken to rather harshly by the redhead for wearing…well. Rags. ”So what if she is? It’s good to see you again Maea.” Roana said lightly, nodding to the pale young woman with a small smile before looking to the other woman. ”Roana Steadman. A pleasure to meet you…?” she said, sticking a hand out to shake.
Roana
You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down cause I'd never stay
Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
Level: 8 - Strg: 27 - Dext: 25 - Endr: 24 - Luck: 24
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#4
When he had received the invitation, Sam had at first assumed it had to have been meant for someone else. He had been trying to put himself down less lately, but it had to be obvious to most people he was hardly the leader-type, right? And honestly...he hadn't thought Maea was, either. She had seemed like him, shy and unsure.

But she was his friend, so Sam would go.

He wondered who else she had invited (assuming it wasn't just him. It couldn't be, right?). Sam knew Jigano was involved, they had discussed it and he understood that choice: Jigano was wise, calm. As for anyone else...he wasn't sure. Once he would have chosen Ronin, but...

Upon arriving he was surprised (and frankly, irritated) to see Evie. He had thought Maea had been on the same page as him about her, but apparently not. What was she going to do in a council? Bicker with everyone and be professionally rude?

Though, speaking of being rude: the place she had chosen made him cringe. It looked...ruined. Hardly a grand and strong introduction to the council she wanted to create. It looked like two others had already arrived: His sister, and someone he didn't know. Sam nodded at Roana, told her his name and shook her hand, then let his eyes rest on Evie for a moment without a word (a vague acknowledgement of her presence) but before he could move on, realised she had asked a rather good question.

Maea was dressed in rags - and not just that, rags that distinctly reminded him of Ludo. While panic immediately surfaced in his throat Sam added his voice to the query: "Those look like Ludo's rags. Maea, are you alright?"
Sam
It's time that I let go
Of things I can't control
This path that I've taken
Is the only one I know
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#5
RORY
[ I'm assuming this has to take place before Roana's PQ, as hers is specified to be before Wessex's, and Wessex's is specified to be the night after Maea's, and having Roana's PQ be before this makes no sense and if it is idk fuck me #ripsanity ]

If it wasn't for Jigano receiving the same invite, Rory likely would've missed his entirely. As it was, he felt floored and stunned and annoyed and .. just really, really grouchy. He was still out by the Spire with what blood-thirsty, rabble-rousing loyalists remained, trying to make sure no one got in and did whatever they bloody pleased, and Maea went home and laid grand plans about a government.

He was bitter; Jigano was pensive, and hesitant. Unwilling. Rory didn't press, not when the man aided him in trying to prevent the barrier's fall, but he felt the same whisper of cold fear as he had in the Infirmary: what if the world would open wide and swallow him and never give him back?

He left his little garrison in the talons of the white bird, their stolen moment, away from prying eyes, too brief and over already. There were still a couple of Naturals with their heads square on their shoulders there, and he wasn't going to be long, anyway. They wouldn't derail in what little time it took him to attend Maea's meeting, and there were thugs enough to stop anyone who came near.

Rory was the last to step into the designated building. He seemed to bring a darkness with him, an atmosphere that clung to his skin and his posture, as if his days with the mob had not done him any kindness. He seemed leaner, somehow, wild, his eyes dark and sharp in a way that wasn't entirely healthy.

It wasn't that he was becoming an evil creature, it was just that his current position had him stressed and sleepless.

The others he found within were Evie (approval), Samuel (what?), and—of all the motherfucking people—Roana.

Add to that Maea, who was useless in most ways, and Rory, who was equally useless albeit in other ways. The only person worth their salt in the room was Evie. Bitterly, he thought that both Amalia and Wessex ought to have been there.

"Jigano's not coming. And what in Caido are you thinking?" he asked, tired, uninspired, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked at the porcelain girl.
as if you were on fire from within,
the moon lives in the lining of your skin.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Maea Valair
Loreseeker

Age: 23 | Height: 156 cm / 5'1 ft | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 5 (Level 1 Attuned) - Strg: 13 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 21 - Luck: 11
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#6
They came. A dizzying sort of relief washed over her at the sound of footsteps and Evie's voice, and was just as quickly replaced by a smatter of butterflies that made her stomach roil and turned her fingers into ice.  For others to actually arrive was a big step, but it was only the first one out of so many... and the most difficult part would be explaining her intentions in a way that wouldn't turn everyone against one another.

She smiled at Evie and her abraisive comment, at Roana who followed behind and quickly came to Maea's defense, at Sam whose first reaction was concern for her well being.

"Yes," she replied with a smile, with a tone that was unusually joyful despite its softness. "I am alright Sam. It is Ludo's rags. I went to pray after the demon had been brought down, and I was answered. Ludo gave this to me...." Pale fingers ran down the length of the strange material, nearly luminous against the deep darkness of the fabric. It was still unreal, that one of the gods has heard her prayer and replied. Despite her being abandoned, despite there being so many others around and so many voices clamoring for attention... She would never cease to be grateful for the attention, or the guidance that had brought about this gift.

Maea looked up when Rory entered. He was later than the others, and the young woman looked expectantly over his shoulder, hoping to see a pale shadow trail the tall man. But there was no one else there, and the words he used was not a greeting but rather the first blow to her confidence, the first of many still to come.

Jigano wouldn't come? But... but he had said he supported her idea at the meeting? He had seemed to approve, and Maea had hoped... they hadn't been able to talk about it like she intended, too much had happened and there had been no time, but... she had been sure he would come. Had hoped, counted on the lorekeeper to be here.

It was a heavy blow, and so was Rory's curt question.

Alright. What was she thinking? Looking at each of the others in turn, Maea drew a deep breath and spoke up, hoping no one would notice how her fingers trembled under the weight of their attention.

"That... is unfortunate. But you are here, you all are, and for that I am grateful. This idea, this plan... it's a hasty one, I recognize that. But I also think that it is necessary."

Licking her lips, Maea threw a glance about the room, searching for the right words.

"As I said, Ludo answered my prayers. I did not know why, what had changed so much that they finally start listening to an abandoned, after all this time. I did not intend to ask, but they answered anyway, and what they told me is that it's becuse things are changing in the Hollowed Grounds. The Voice has awakened, the Outlanders arrived, and now the Spire has been opened up to investigation for the first time in three centuries."

She nodded briefly to Roana, and felt acutely how alone the woman had become in Jigano's absence. Maea had intended for them to be two, so that no one would be set apart and left alone in this gathering. Why had the lorekeeper not come? His absence hurt, his lack of faith in this plan hurt. Or... was it a lack of faith in her?

"Change has come rapidly, and persistently, and it shows no sign of slowing. That is why the people of the Hollow need to start preparing for change as well.

This... I don't intend for this council to decide what happens to the Spire. That is a matter between the gods and each of their followers to decide. I can't do anything to either help or prevent because I don't know myself what I want in that matter. But. If the barrier comes down, if we are exposed to the outside and all the unknowns that exist out there, then I want for us to have a united front to show, someone who can speak for the people and act in the best interest of the people.

I... I know I'm not the ideal person to do something like this"
she admitted.

"There are many others who could take my place and do a better job, but no one is actually doing anything. So I will, until someone better shows an interest in the welfare of the community. And I am asking you to help me. I picked you, not because of personal preference but because I think you all have something vital that can help this project work. I would ask you to be a part of this council, to represent the people and tell me what their will is. All of the people, from all backgrounds and all races."

Maea sought out the gaze of each, searching fortheir response; Evie, Roana, Sam, Rory. Not commanding, nor pleading, because neither was in her nature to do, but with a quiet, persistent hope that they might set aside any personal grievances and work together.

For the sake of everyone.
MAEA
just a glimpse of truth
Permission granted for magic/violence, short of killing.
Unless otherwise stated, Maea is always wearing Ludo's Rags around her shoulders.
Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
Level: 8 - Strg: 27 - Dext: 25 - Endr: 24 - Luck: 24
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#7
It....was Ludo's rags?! Despite the rest of Maea's words it would be clear from the look on Sam's face he was mortified by this. Was she going to be alright? Had Ludo taken over her mind? That would explain this sudden rush for a council setting up...everything he heard past that point was coloured by this thought.

Still, he stayed quiet and listened to her explanations. In theory, he agreed. Things were chaotic right now, tensions rising on a definite sharp angle. Some kind of ruling council could be a good idea, someone for the crowd to turn to when a hard decision had to be made. But the selection of people she'd made was bizarre to him, as well as her own role as leader, which she admitted herself.

He looked between them all. "But...I don't understand your choices, Maea. Why me? I just make books...Evie just makes potions...we aren't guild leaders, or fighters or important merchants."
Sam
It's time that I let go
Of things I can't control
This path that I've taken
Is the only one I know
Evie Wordsworth
the Evergreen
Queen of the Hollowed Grounds / Apothecarist

Age: 28 | Height: 5'5 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#8
EVIE
Okay, #1, Ludo's rags? EWWW. "Maea!" Evie said sounding scolding with an undertone of genuine concern. If it came from Ludo it probably had lice and also like..weird dream or soul eating ticks in it or something. "Well excuse me for not wanting my friend to have to wear rags, randomly? Also...sorry, who are you even?" Evie snapped briskly, giving Roana a quick once over as she answered. "Right. The random Outlander who tried to enter the Spire." Evie said, smiling curtly.

Seeing Rory was like a breath of fresh air in this insanely tight balloon she felt like they had stumbled into, but as he spoke, his words made no sense—Jigano? the rude one?

But before she could say anything, Maea was off. At least she'd prepared a speech. Or at least if it wasn't prepared, it didn't sound like utter shit.

At the end, as her idiotic twin chimed in, Evie shot him a look full of ice and daggers. "Excuse me? I just make potions? You haven't even spoken to me in months so feel free to stop acting like you know about me. Out of all of us I've known Maea the longest." Evie snapped towards Samuel, before looking back to Maea.

A council? And she could be on it? Interesting. But...Rory wasn't in...that was worrying. But councils were important...what would her mother and father think? Maybe she could finally be out in the open about who she was? What she was?

"I think your show of initiative is amazing." Evie said, flashing a smile. Quickly though it disappeared as she looked towards Rory. "Okay, but honestly here. So let's pretend that these Outlanders—" Here Evie glared towards Roana before looking back, "—break down the barrier. How are we supposed to..you know, be a contingent or whatever when we have no idea what's out there? I mean, I will of course support you Maea, but I mean...what are we in for?"
Please don't
ever become a strange whose
laugh
I could recognize anywhere
coding by sky!
Roana Steadman
Soldier

Age: 28 | Height: 5'8" | Race: Accepted | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#9
If the redhead had been trying to goad her into some school-aged bickering she had better try a lot harder than that. Roana just pulled on her experiences dealing with persnickety noblewomen who thought too highly of themselves and quirked a brow at her, pretended she didn't remember her from that day. It was always more irksome to be not worth someone remembering than it was to succeed in winning someone's ire. But she did give Maea an odd look when the woman called her her friend. If this was how Maea's friends treated her she would hate to meet her enemies.

And then of course Rory arrived. Lovely. This was going to be such a comfortable, warm, fuzzy meeting.

Fortunately Maea delved into her machinations before much else could be said. A slow smile began to curve her lips as she went on at length. A governing council? With Maea at the head? She thought it a wonderful and well needed plan. No one here was in charge of...anything...and they all existed in a relative anarchy really. A rather peaceful one overall but still. "I think this is a wonderful idea, and I think you were be a very fit leader of this council, but you will need buy-in from everyone if you are to be successful." she said with an approving smile her way. Blue eyes first glanced towards Samuel, who seemed to doubt himself and Evie, who had very strong feelings about his assessment of her. "Good representatives aren't necessarily the most powerful, they are simply the people with the ability to defend the best interests of those they represent and compromise with their fellow council members to keep peace and order for everyone overall. For example, Maea, from what I know of her, would be a good leader of such a council because of her disposition and what groups she is part of. She is a Natural, and is obviously known amongst your community and would likely lean more in favor of your viewpoints, but she has also shown graciousness and willingness to understand the viewpoints of Outlanders." she explained to him, her tone friendly rather than talking down to him. Roana had never been a big fan of politicking, but one didn't grow up a duchess and rise through military ranks without learning about it unfortunately.

Her gaze shifted back to Evie - who still seemed to insist on throwing some shade her way - as she asked about the bigger picture. "By not being a contingent, but by being independent. Outside the barrier are bound to be other people with their own governments, militaries, trade-systems and so on. If there is a strong council in place to unite the people here, then everyone will be taken more seriously, and it can be decided if the people here will join whatever other nations their are, or remain separate from them." she said, in the same tone she had taken with Sam.

"It's a lot of work though, and it would require that everyone be willing to work together...regardless of personal opinions and differences." she said, glancing towards Rory.
Roana
You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down cause I'd never stay
Vervain Calob
Witch

Age: 38 | Height: 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 5 - Strg: 11 - Dext: 19 - Endr: 19 - Luck: 11
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#10

What was worse than late? Late and not really invited? Probably.

Did Vai care?

Oh, absolutely not.

It was difficult not to hear the commotion from just within the building, spacious as it was, and whilst it would have been easy to just walk by and ignore things... that wasn't Vai's way.

"It sounds," she said quietly as she stepped in through the doorway, "that we could all do with leaving our ego at this door." A smirk flickered across her face, the witch cradling her considerable bump and finding a convenient place to sit where apparently there wasn't one before. Fuck standing when she felt like a whale.

"I heard talk of a council? I'm glad someone is finally doing something. But Roana speaks true - for this to work there can be no Outlanders or Naturals. We are all of the same place now - whether either party likes it or not. Because for all of your anger," - here she glanced at Evie and Rory - "not everyone who was dropped here hit the ground running. Some begged for home, and would have gladly taken themselves out of your space."

She sighed, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "Even those eager to leave - maybe they are just desperate for a place to call their own? Because right now, from where everyone is standing, you have made it very clear that this place is taken."

vervain
well i'll rest my eyes
and i'll let the earth breathe
Air Manipulation (Upgraded) - Base Healing (Mastered) - Fire Manipulation (Basic)
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
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#11
RORY
He was tired in a way that he wasn't used to, tense and drawn-out and thin, like whatever stuff made him Rory was breaking apart inside of him. His eyes burned with the same dry fire as it had ever since he sparked the damn mob, blue and shadows mixing in a way that was decidedly foreign on his face. It was like his body had been broken up, and someone else found beneath his skin.

Also, what was Ludo doing, giving away all its things? First the lantern, then the mask, now the rags... Rory frowned slightly, but said nothing about it, just waited with folded arms and an expression that wasn't exactly friendly.

He felt the dark sting of bitterness prick his heart. Ludo had answered her prayers. Safrin had given Ronin weapons to take down the Demon. Gods and gods and gods everywhere, except when he asked for them—except when they really needed them, needed their guidance, their wisdom. If this change was coming, and if the Gods were fueling it, couldn't they just have fucking said so and Rory would've stepped aside, to let whatever suicidal idiots came along swarm the Spire?

But no, they were silent to him and the mob, and he had made a choice.

She had a point, he had to give her that, much as thinking about it made his head hurt—like claws raking through his brain. He didn't want to think of an outside world, wanted to snarl, if we're not here to decide about the Spire, then what am I doing here?, wanted to find some way to postpone this—all of this.

Sam's comment was expected, Evie's snapping too, but her support of Maea had Rory's hackles rising slightly. What was going on here? His blue eyes, questioning, sought for hers. She must've made some calculation.. and found Maea's side weighing the heaviest.

Not what he would have preferred, but okay. Fair enough. There was merit in that.

Then Roana added her butter to the mix and Rory groaned inwardly. No, Maea was a shit choice, exactly for those reasons, because it wasn't all that the Steadman woman was making it out to be. What she saw in points in Maea's favor were born of the opposite, really. And as the glance was thrown his way he arched an eyebrow. Him, personal opinions and differences? Mmh, did she know what being outnumbered signified?

Before he had a chance to respond though, Vai stepped through the door, as if the rest of them were unruly children or something. He watched her with a level gaze, then sighed. "We have been welcoming," he said tiredly. "We have given our help, our houses. We have shared our resources, though they are meager. We have warned you and taken care of you and taught you, we have helped you establish businesses, we have helped you fix up homes, have gladly come to the Rathskeller, just happy someone runs it again." No: this place was not taken. It was hollow and starved and starving.

He shook his head and looked at Maea instead, not wanting to point out how they lacked an Attuned. Did she even know Jigano was one? Rory was under the impression he was rather selective with who he told.. but he hadn't asked. "Maea is a bad choice for many reasons. She's different-looking, she can't perform a day's hard work, she's Abandoned, she's been secluded, living on her brother's farm, some even say on his charity," he explained; his voice was factual and even, lacking the judgment of before. "It doesn't say much about whatever goes on in her head, but you'll have a hard time convincing the people here to respect and follow her on her merits alone." He didn't want to debate protection from outside forces when every fiber of his being was trying to prevent that coming to pass, at least until enough of them had calmed down and stopped chomping at the bits to be let out of the gate.
as if you were on fire from within,
the moon lives in the lining of your skin.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Maea Valair
Loreseeker

Age: 23 | Height: 156 cm / 5'1 ft | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 5 (Level 1 Attuned) - Strg: 13 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 21 - Luck: 11
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#12
It was difficult to say if this was going well or not. For all that the tone was hard and their confusion obvious, they were still talking which was a step in the right direction. The intended direction.

Maea let them speak, listening carefully to each argument, who they addressed, what tone they used, all in an effort to figure out how this would end. Evie seemed happy with snarking at Roana and Sam, but did not appear opposed to the Council or her own spot in it. As expected, the allure of importance, real or perceived, had done the trick and drawn her in. Her childhood friend had not changed; good. Roana seemed positive to the whole idea, questioning neither Maea or her intentions; good. Sam... his concerns had more to do with his own abilities and suitability. Given time and a moment alone to explain things properly Maea thought she might be able to assuage his fears, but right now was not the time.

An unknown variable entered; Maea offered a welcoming smile at Vai, and didn't interrupt as the woman showed every intention of being here to stay. It was somewhat unexpected but it did work in Maea's favor; the balance between Outlander and Natural was still weighed in the Naturals favor but wasn't quite as skewed anymore. The womans presence was as calming and mature as Jigano's too, so all in all she was as good a replacement as the albino could hope to find. Good.

But then... Rory spoke. And each word was heavy, sharp, fell like strokes of a lash against skin that Maea found much too tender. No mercy. All her flaws were laid bare, every unpleasant, painful truth that she had labored under since the first understood what it meant to be different. Freak, Abandoned, feeeloader, weak...

She did not object, because she knew it was true. But there was one thing in all of it that her racing thoughts latched on to, one horrible, heavy realization that made her stomach drop to the floor.

Oh gods. He didn't know? He hadn't heard? News usually did travel fast, but there had been so much else going on. She had been busy, everyone had been busy...

"Rory..."

She nearly choked on her own voice, hated to break it here, now, like this. But she couldn't stand to keep him in the dark any longer either.

"My brother is dead."

Just like that, she cut her own heart open again. It had only been a few weeks, and she had kept herself busy, refused to dwell on it, thought of everything except this single, awful truth. The empty house, the unkempt garden, the shaggy sheep in need of shearing, her own avoidance of it that had her run off to the Atheneum every chance she got. All to avoid facing the truth, the ugly reality that repeated itself in a mad whisper through her mind.

Alone. Alone, alone, alonealonealone.

Abandoned and alone.


"You are not nearly so alone as you think."


Except she wasn't, just as Ludo had said. Maea was not alone, nor was any of the souls that dwelled beneath the dome. They were here, right in front of her eyes, bickering like siblings over who was older and who ought to decide over the other. It was petty and childish and caused wounds on both sides, and Maea understood. She could, because she was different. Born a Natural, yet never truly one of them. She lived there, toiled and cried and grieved... Yet she might as well be an Outlander in their eyes. Rory certainly saw her as one.

"My family is gone. All I have left is you."

She absently wiped away a tear from the cheek, and met Rory's gaze. Eyes full of pain, she still looked at him, unashamed of all the things he accused her of being. He was not wrong, but he missed the rest. The everything else that actually mattered.

"And you." She turned towards Evie, caught her blue gaze and held it. Gods, how she used to hate those pretty eyes...

"And you." This time to Sam.

And again, to Roana, and to Vervaine.

"You are all I have now. You, and the people out there. I don't really care whether you were born in the Hollow or arrived a week ago. You are here, now, alive and breathing. It's more than I can say of my family."

Pain. Like stepping barefooton broken glass.

"I care about you though. And I care about them, out there; everyone who has found themselves here in this cage. I want to do what I can to keep them alive. If the barrier falls. Even if it doesn't. We need this Council to keep from tearing ourselves to pieces, and I need you for this to work. Just like everyone in this place needs evrryone else to get by.

So will you help? Not for me, but for them."


There would be time for details later, to make concrete plans and hand out chores. This house... It needed repair, yes, but more crucial than doors or a roof that didn't leak was the people inside it. Would they be able to mend this rift tthat threatened the peace within the Hollow? Could they be repaired, just like this house?

All she needed was a yes and Maea would try. It would be enough to make her vision a reality. Enough for one hand to reach out in good faith, and for one other to take it.

This was the option she offered, one they could accept or reject out of their own free will.

Everything else could come after that.
MAEA
just a glimpse of truth
Permission granted for magic/violence, short of killing.
Unless otherwise stated, Maea is always wearing Ludo's Rags around her shoulders.
Samuel Wordsworth
Book maker/seller

Age: 28 | Height: 5' 5" | Race: Ascended | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Torchline
Level: 8 - Strg: 27 - Dext: 25 - Endr: 24 - Luck: 24
MIA - Regular - Ragdoll Cat
Played by: Lancydulac Online
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#13
Evie, of course, venomously shot back a remark at him. In a surprisingly siblingly show of frustration Sam just rolled his eyes, slivers of decorum away from sticking out his tongue (he did resist, however. If this was to be a place of government, that was no way to start it).

After that he simply did what he did best, stay quiet and listen. There was a lot to consider, from Roana, Rory and Vervain's speeches. They all sounded so intelligent, even with points he didn't necessarily agree with, and Sam continued to wonder why he was here. He was just Sam.

He still kept a nervous eye on Maea's rags, wondering if this was all some kind of mastermind plan by Ludo to ruin them all. The God had already meddled in his life plenty, and he didn't want to have much to do with it anymore. Still, Maea's teary request tugged at his heartstrings (if there was one thing he understood, it was loneliness) and before he had thought about it he had taken a step forward.

"I will help however I can, Maea. I will...try my best."
Sam
It's time that I let go
Of things I can't control
This path that I've taken
Is the only one I know
Evie Wordsworth
the Evergreen
Queen of the Hollowed Grounds / Apothecarist

Age: 28 | Height: 5'5 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 11 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 18
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#14
EVIE
there ain't no doubt in no ones mind
A very pregnant woman suddenly stormed in, and though pregnancy often made even strong women soft, apparently such was not the case here.

"No outlanders or naturals?" Evie said defiantly, younger than Vervain by a lifetime, but undaunted because of the life she had lived. "How is just getting rid of all our differences going to be any better? We are different. We have been born here, raised here. Sure you might be stuck here too, but that doesn't mean you get equal say."

Indeed, as Rory began speaking Evie found herself nodding in agreement. "Do you know how many houses were just taken? Empty though they might have been, did anyone even think to ask? No. You all just arrived and started making things your own, so forgive us all for being a bit reluctant to welcome you with open arms now." Evie's eyes were bright and furious. This was not her battle to be fighting because politics was about as far out of her wheelhouse as an arm wrestle was for Maea, but damnit she was here now and she'd not be made a fool out of. Not here. Not in front of Sam or Rory.

What Evie said next perfectly summed up what she had so loved about Rory once upon a time. His unwillingness to flinch even under pressure. The curt way he phrased things when his emotions were roused. The way that he'd say what needed to be said however hurtful, because better it be done now in this room with only these eyes and ears, than be allowed to grow into something monstrous.

And he wasn't wrong after all. Maea was a bad choice. The problem was, at the moment, she was the only choice.

Rolling her eyes as her twin stepped forward, Evie crossed her arms as she watched the back of his coppery head, wishing to throttle him, but instead scowling.

Desperately Evie glanced towards Rory. Was it better to watch this ship drown from shore and shout I told you so while they all drowned and potentially took more down with them? Or to climb aboard and at least make an attempt?

She knew what her family would want her to do, but nothing about this seemed like a good idea, and not simply for the reasons Rory had given.

With a bit of a dramatic sort of huff that Evie hadn't really intended, she dropped her arms to her sides and looked around the small gathering. "If this is going to work, we all need to put our hackles down, and yes I know that means me too. But I am not just going to pretend that we're one big happy family." She said shooting a slightly sympathetic (because her entire family was apparently dead) look at Maea, which hardened quickly (because she needed to put on her big girl panties right quick if this was actually going to work). "Because we aren't. Good for you for being a soldier and doing whatever else, but from the sounds of it your world isn't like this one. You didn't have gods, and your wall or whatever was put up by your own people. Ours is magical and has existed a lot longer, so stop treating us like we're just being ungrateful and inhospitable. We know things that counts for more than all of your experience combined."

Then, perhaps stupidly, she looked to Rory. There was something on the tip of her tongue. Something she wanted to say that would make her sound small and petulant and she wondered if he were in her position, if he'd say it anyways.



That's Evie's way of saying she's in?
that love's the finest thing around

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