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Return to Inquisition (M) Jabba x Firesblood

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Offline Jabbathejack

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Roe followed the others up the slope, sliding out of the saddle as he saw what Malachi had unearthed. He approached Valaria, resting a hand on her shoulder gently, but the old man remained silent; what was there to say that could make anything any better? Nothing.

Malachi was restless, his eyes constantly travelling up to the sky, even though the moon was still obscured by the rain clouds.

"I must leave." The young man muttered grimly. "I have things that I must attend to."

Roe frowned; he was leaving now? Yet he could tell from Malachi's expression that there was some genuine reluctance. Then he realised, it was near dawn.

"Mr Roe." Malachi approached him, dropping his voice to a whisper. "Stay with her."
"Aye, my lord." He nodded as Malachi swung back into the saddle, then a moment later, the young man had disappeared into the trees.

Remaining silent, Roe joined Valaria, following her lead and laying out the rocks. He worked in silence, prepared to step away if she gave the order. Some things needed to be done alone, but sometimes, the option to work side by side of another was appreciated.


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria looked up when Malachi spoke, noted the reluctance in his voice through the haze currently shrouding her mind.  He didn't seem as though he wanted to go, but he had things he had to attend to.  It seemed strange to her that he should be so busy; did the man ever sleep?  She said nothing, however, pausing in her quest for stones to remove the ring gently from her father's hand and slip it over her own, before gently covering the hand back up again.  The ring was heavy on her finger and far too big, and it spun around several times, attempting to fall off every time she reached out to pick another rock for the circle of stones about her family's grave.  She resolved to find a length of string or cord to wear around her neck.  She didn't hear Malachi's words to Roe; she moved as if in a trance, lining rock after rock and doing her best not to think of all the memories she had of her family, all the memories she would miss out on from that point on without success.  Her hands trembled faintly, and it was difficult to see the world through the blurring moisture in her eyes. 

She was unbothered by Roe's assistance; his help was gratefully received and his kindness was a small seed of hope in an otherwise bleak heart.  He didn't have to help her, didn't have to even linger in the area with her any more than Staunton had had to help her get to her family, yet he did.  Kindness was a hard thing to come by even in the best of times, and it was no more lost on her than Staunton's assistance in the matter of finding her family was.  As the ring reached completion, she stepped back and wrapped her arms around herself tightly, as if afraid that she would simply fall into pieces if she didn't hold herself together.  "Thank you," she whispered to the elder man. 

She stared at the mound in silence, eyes burning and yet somehow dry now.  A part of her had known that this was what she would find, that a happy ending where she found her family alive and well and spent the rest of her days among them had not been in the cards, but experiencing such a disappointment first hand left her feeling lost and incredibly alone.  "I'm very grateful for everything you have done for me, Mr. Roe.  I..."  What was she going to do now?  Perhaps she could return to Lourdes, maybe find work in a tavern somewhere.  That had it's own dangers; likely no one would consider her unless she was willing to work on her back, and the thought of doing so made her skin crawl.  There were not many other options for a woman on her own, but perhaps there was other work available.  Roe had lived in Lourdes for a long time, perhaps he knew?  "I was wondering if you knew whether there was work for someone like me in Lourdes?  I...I have no where else to go." 

Gods she hoped that there were more options for her than 'tavern wench'. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Roe smiled sadly, directing Valaria back towards the horses.
"I was going to suggest that you came back to Lourdes with me."
He paused, frowning as he looked back at the grave that they had constructed.

"Although, if you need more time... It won't be a problem."

"I had plans to vist my son and his family, it would be my pleasure if you came as well as my guest. You look as if you could stand a decent home cooked meal and a warm bed."

He sighed, adjusting his horse's girth ready for the journey back.
"Beyond that, if Mr Staunton was invested in you finding your family safely, then maybe he would be able to find a place for you in the Citadel."


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria looked up at him, surprise widening her features.  She had hoped for information, but the very last thing she had expected was for Roe to offer her a place to sleep while she figured out her next step.  She was but a stranger to him, really, and he was willing to bring her home as a guest.  All at once she had thrown her arms around him like an old friend rather than a new acquaintance, before she even realized that she was doing it.  She pulled away without lingering too long, swiping her sleeve across her eyes.  "If you are sure that I am not intruding, I gladly accept your offer.  Thank you, Mr. Roe."

She considered the grave for a long moment, silence stretching while she decided whether she wanted to stay or leave.  Finally, she turned away and moved towards the horse that Staunton had loaned her, smoothing a hand over the animal's neck.  "No...I would rather go.  Staying will not bring them back, nor will it soothe the ache of their absence.  I can do nothing more for them," she murmured, her voice strained. 

With a last look at the hill and the circle of stones they had made, Valaria hoisted herself back onto her horse and gave Roe a small nod.  Would Staunton hire her?  Certainly with a hold so large, there had to be plenty of serving work that could be done.  More, that would give her the opportunity to pay the Lord back for his generous assistance.  She resolved to meet with him, and speak to him about the possibility.  She found that she would rather start there than a tavern anyhow, though it would remain an option if all else failed.  "If there is anything I may do in return, please do not hesitate to inform me.  I do not wish to be a burden to you, especially when you've been so kind."


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Hey." Roe gave an awkward chuckle as the young woman released him from the unexpected embrace. "It will be no trouble, I assure you."

"My son, Alain and his wife, Marie, I'm sure they would love to meet you. They always cook to feed a small army."

He shrugged, hauling himself stiffly into the saddle.
"Don't you worry about me, life is too short to always be concerned about paying someone back."

Checking that Valaria was ready with a quick glance, Roe turned his horse towards the road.

"Young Mr Crane might join us on the way back, or not. I know not what his duties were. One thing for sure, though, we will need to rest before the day is done. Neither of us have had much sleep of late."


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria wanted to argue, but she didn't.  She resolved to help any way she could in the time she stayed, whether it meant doing the washing or the cooking, or even looking after little ones.  She didn't need to insist that she would do her part, a simple showing of such would suffice when the time came.  "Thank you."

She urged her horse after his, riding back in the direction of the road they had come from.  Her earlier curiosity about Malachi resurfaced with Roe's words, and the thought once more occurred to her that it seemed strange how busy the young man was.  It seemed he was always going somewhere or doing something; did he even have the time to sleep?  Perhaps that was the reason for the shadows beneath his eyes, the pallor of his skin.  She had to agree with Roe; while she wasn't certain she could sleep at the moment, she knew that she was tired down to her bones.  "You are right."

She resisted the urge to look over her shoulder at the retreating hill.  Instead, she shook her head, eyes casting downward to the ground rather than the path ahead.  "We have a long way ahead of us.  Sleep will do us both some good.  Sleep and a hot meal.  I will put something together for us when we stop."

After an extended moment of quiet, Valaria looked at Roe.  "It seems strange that one as young as Malachi has so many duties to attend.  Is this a normal thing, for him to be doing so many things at once?"


Offline Jabbathejack

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Roe glanced back up the rise to where the grave was and grimaced.
"I'd rather make a decent distance towards home before we decide to rest."

By now, the sun was fully up, sending a warm glow through the trees. Finding the road, Roe turned his horse towards home.

He nodded at the question.
"Sometimes I forget how young Mr Crane really is. He is a very capable man. I understand that Mr Staunton raised him for a good number of years. I think I heard Malachi even call him father, but of course, they speak English together, for the most part."

Roe shrugged, he only knew a smattering of words in that tongue.

"Staunton trusts him above all others. For good reason too. If he asks Malachi to do something, then you can be sure it will be done, or there will be a damn good reason why it could not be done."

He shook his head with a smile.
"As to how he can do it all? He has the energy of youth. Perhaps it will all catch up with him when he gets as old as I?"


Offline Firesblood

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Valaria said nothing, only nodded when Roe expressed his preferences of moving on a bit more before making camp.  She agreed with him; she couldn't bear the thought of sleeping so close to where her family had been killed, buried.  She listened as they rode, forcing her exhaustion to the back of her mind in favor of listening to what Mr. Roe had to say about Malachi and Staunton.  Staunton himself hardly seemed old enough to raise a son Malachi's age, but she supposed that such a thing didn't matter much when it came to taking in orphaned children.  Staunton seemed kind and generous enough in her limited experience with him, so it didn't seem so beyond the pale to her. 

She nodded when Roe mentioned Malachi's capabilities, his loyalty, but some small thought in the back of her mind insisted that there was something...different about Malachi, that somehow the 'energy of youth' as Roe put it wouldn't simply fade away when Malachi attained a greater age.  She didn't know why she thought that, and while she had some suspicions, none of them had a root reason.  Certainly there were oddities, but nothing really so out of the ordinary as to bring those suspicions to the forefront.  Valaria decided to put those thoughts from her mind, as it didn't really affect her. 

"Perhaps," she replied quietly, staring fixedly ahead of them.  The sun was bright, hanging over the horizon like a ripe fruit.  She closed her eyes in favor of feeling the warmth of it on her face, warmth that she was unable to help but think that her family would never feel again.  Once more she felt the grief like a stone in her throat, choking her air off and remaining in place no matter how much she swallowed against it.  It was so hard not think about it, so hard to shove those feelings down until she had a moment to herself when her tears wouldn't trouble anyone else.  She tried and failed, but at least her tears were silent.  She reassured herself that it was alright, she had all the right in the world to grieve her loss, but all the same she couldn't bring herself to look at Roe again until her tears had run their course and she felt like little more than an empty shell.  At that point, all she wanted to do was sleep. 

"Could we stop for now, please?  I...I cannot go any further.  I am sorry," Valaria whispered, no small amount of embarrassment in her tone.