Dec 04, 2020 5:16 AM
leareth meets serg in post mage wars valdemar
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At first he's still snarling, still furious.

He could kill him. A shield that will stop a blade but not a punch is not enough to stop Sakshemar from killing someone. He could kill him, and there's a level on which he wants to—

—and he won't.

He struggles with that, for a moment; struggles to keep hold of his temper, struggles to even believe that he should. Struggles to remember the reasons why he decided not to hurt people, and the reasons why hurting Amberdrake in particular, in this particular moment, would be a colossally stupid thing to do.

And then—he doesn't, in fact, punch him.

He lets go, and stands up; and he projects, forcefully and precisely, what that felt like. Startlement-violence-betrayal-anger, and the more complex emotions that followed: the disorienting feeling of untangling deception, the bitter sting of being expected to extend forgiveness for an unprovoked attack, the echoing instability of being reminded again that sudden violence can come at any moment no matter how tempting it is to let yourself think you're safe. The rage and the violent urge to make the object of that rage suffer, and the pain of holding that back, the self-betrayal that makes even the inside of his own head feel hostile and alien, makes him feel small and weak and unworthy and wrong the way one who commits a grave crime is wrong, guilty for the transgression of mercy; and the lost uncertain feeling of trying to remember why he's doing this terrible thing, and the things he remembered, when he did: compassion, commitment, the desire to be worthy of a friend's trust.

And, after all that, a final layer—the tired recognition that, yet again, someone has decided to approach him not as a person to be communicated with but as a problem to be solved; the resigned frustration, only faintly painful, at a world where speaking honestly with people never seems to be enough and someone always feels the need to work through or around people instead of with them. The sharp bite of anger at having his violent instincts toyed with like that, being provoked for the sake of provocation, attacked just to see what he'd do.

"I not hit you," he growls in Kaled'a'in, letting the projection fade. "If I hit you, I do because I want you hurt. I not want do things because this. So I not hit you."

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Amberdrake lies on the floor for a while, blinking, looking very stunned. 

Eventually, he picks himself up and collapses back into the chair. He looks tired. Tired and sad and guilty and conflicted; he's not trying to hide any of it. 

"I am sorry," he says finally, his voice shaky. "Know an apology to mean little once an act is done – I do not expect forgiveness, not now, perhaps ever. Was unfair and cruel – and, it seems, unnecessary, though I thought it the most accurate test, most like reality. Now I think perhaps was lazy." He pauses for a while, chewing on his lip in obvious thought. "Sad truth, world is not safe. Even my own city, maybe not safe. I feared... Some youngsters, think it funny to attack stranger. Your people not well-liked. And Lionstar, not..." he frowns again, searching for words, "not popular, here. His new friend, seen the same way. When I heard rumours, I try to intervene, but I still feared... Their safety, and yours." 

A slight, weary smile. "They cannot take you down in fight. Likely, nor I. Maybe not Judeth – maybe not Skandranon even. Your are skilled, and vigilant, you have combat reflexes – if stupid children pick fight with you, they pay the price. You need not fear that, I think. For you, I fear consequences of our laws." He shakes his head. "Less now. I think, even if a stupid child you do not know is to attack you by night in the streets, neither of you be hurt." A weak chuckle. "Do THAT to them, and they definitely leave you alone after. Very effective. And I am to do my best to ensure it never happens, but...have learned that lesson before." 

He's silent for another long moment. 

"Now," he says eventually, "I wish you to try to calm down, with the techniques you know." 

 

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He growls again, quietly, under his breath; and then he dances. He's not actively projecting anymore, but he is as usual not very tightly shielded, either, so the slow progression from fury to calm is easy to follow.

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Amberdrake watches him, still weary, and conflicted, with the look of a man chewing on something that's both bitter and very frustrating to swallow. 

Finally, he nods. "I wish we practice that today," he says. "Anger to calm – I will not surprise you again, it would not work a second time, but I think perhaps there are things you can recall to bring that emotion. First..." Another long pause. "I wronged you, using that test. Even I thought it was the best path, still failed you, and perhaps I was wrong to think it necessary at all. If you can tell me in words what I could have done – no, how I could have been thinking differently – to be more fair, I think I am to learn something from this." A shrug, unsmiling. "Perhaps I learn what I did wrong to your friend Lionstar as well." 

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Sakshemar nods, slowly, thoughtfully.

"I think... I told you, before, that I want to be safe to have in your city. I meant it. You could've asked me how to make sure of that, and I might not have known, but I would've given it an honest effort. And instead you... acted as though I didn't have anything to offer, as though the only way to get what you wanted was past me or through me. People do that a lot, I think. I guess in some ways it's easier."

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Amberdrake sighs, heavily. 

"You are right, people do," he says, finally. "Feels...simpler, often. I hoped not to be like that – is failure for a kestra'chern, to treat people as...items...in such way." (He's clearly hunting for words; he uses a term that usually refers to merchandise or trade goods, and then makes a face.) "I wish I believe my younger self would not fail this way. Now? I see I fail over and over. Leader on Council, easy to...feel I to lack time, or will, to take less easy path. And to..." He spends a longer time searching for words. "Find reason? I want word... 'Rationalize.'." He slips in the Kaled'a'in term. "To tell self why is to be kestra'chern's role, do what client needs, not wants. But, to do this, must see client as a person. Is dangerous thinking if my other duties to weigh on it, and is inevitable now they do." 

He fidgets with his hands for a while, expressions flickering, still mostly unshielded. 

"I can say thing about you now," he says finally. "Whatever you to feel inside – you ARE what your friend Lionstar believes you, I think. If not before, now yes. Betrayed by an adult you began trusting, you to answer by questioning your own anger and urge to retaliate, and instead show what you feel and explain lesson of what mistakes I make. Lesson I for certain lacked wisdom to see at your age. So, I was wrong to see you as child." A brief, sad smile. "More reason I believe you to be a promising kestra'chern." 

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"I don't know if you're right," he says slowly. "I hope you are. I want... to grow out of being a murderer."

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"Wanting is the most of it, I think," Amberdrake says softly. "In any case, we work on control. As I said before – this is one done in your own mind; I am to observe and speak if I notice anything. If you are willing: summon a memory that will bring strong emotions, ride those to a point, and deliberately calm yourself however you see fit." 

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There is a source of strong emotions conveniently located in the recent past, where he should have no trouble bringing it to mind! He uses it. He dances.

It's much easier, calming himself when he was in control of his feelings to begin with.

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"Good," Amberdrake says. "Try a different memory? A different flavour of emotion, ideally." 

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Meanwhile, outside in the pool, a familiar shape bounds up. "Lionstar! Feel better? Look better!" 

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Lionstar is pleased to see Kechara, and happy to let her curl up on the side of the pool beside him, and use her neck as a support to help pull himself halfway out. He's getting a bit too warm. 

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He thinks a bit, and then tries the same trick he used when he was testing fear projection on Lionstar.

It takes him a couple of seconds to make himself get up and dance, but when he does, the feeling melts away pretty fast.

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"Very good!" Amberdrake sounds genuinely impressed. "How are you feeling? Tired yet? You might go to Lionstar now, or stay if there is anything you wish speak of." 

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"Only a little," he says. "I think I'll see how Lionstar's doing."

Off to inspect the friend! Aww, Kechara is there. That is good.

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"...Are you all right?" Lionstar says, reaching for his arm. 

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"...Amberdrake wanted to find out what happens if I'm attacked by surprise. He lived, and apologized afterward."

He squeezes Lionstar's hand, and adds in Kaled'a'in for Kechara's benefit, "Yes, I all right."

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“Oh.” This seems like...not a good topic to be discussing in Amberdrake’s backyard. “Ready to go back?”

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Nod nod.

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Lionstar is pretty steady on his feet. And quiet, deep in thought, though he makes some response to Kechara's eager attempts at conversation.

"I think I need some quiet time," he tells her when they reach his room. "Come play again tonight?" He looks past Sakshemar, frowning. "I should've asked Amberdrake about staying somewhere else – I'm not really ill, anymore, I don't need to be in their Healers' ward. But I...don't think I'd be welcome back where I lived before." More to the point, both the residual fragments of former-Lionstar's memories and his own emotions are firmly against the idea. 

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"Yes," Sakshemar agrees. "We should find better place. Ask him later maybe."

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Lionstar sits down on the bed and massages his temples. Trying to concentrate still gives him a headache after a while. 

"Worry about my power," he says in Haighlei. "Can try to fix alone, but..." He shrugs. "You still trust Amberdrake, after he try attack you? Trust to ask him this?" 

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"He agreed very quickly afterward that it was a stupid thing for him to do and he should have trusted me more. Asked me to tell him what I thought he'd done wrong, how he could've been thinking better so he would've realized what a bad idea it was ahead of time. I think... nobody's ever going to do no stupid things at all, so it's good to know that somebody's serious about learning from the stupid things they do."

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That's something, anyway. "I...try to figure out if can fix it tonight? Otherwise, go tomorrow?" 

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"Sounds like a good plan to me."

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