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RP:Hard Truths Cut Both Ways

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Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc


Summary: Chisel and Lionel reach an accord.

Frostmaw Tavern

Frostmaw. The hellish cold wasteland that some call home. The breeze is cold and barely any flora survives. Trudging through the snow till she finally finds herself in the tavern. A blizzard is never a place for a forest spirit and yet here she is. Last time she ever went here was with a husk of a bear, she personally remove the skin off its cadaver before finally walking it through the deep snow. This time is different, a mere woolen cloak was enough for her, her lantern provides her with warmth, alot more powerful than ever before. The patrons of the tavern seems to know her, stunned of her audacity yet paralyzed in fear as she walked. Foot bear till she finally sat down in silence, the lantern is left by the table as she wait.


Some of the tavern’s patrons, the hardier frost giants with the thicker biceps and more cunning eyes, aren’t unnerved by the dryad’s arrival. Instead, they openly oppose it. Their arms cross and they speak to one-another over Chisel’s appearance -- and not in whispers, either. Several humans and elves employed within the alliance against Kahran pay their tabs and exit into the inclement weather, preferring the blizzard to whatever might happen next. Drargon, sensing the mood, leans back so that his trusty axe isn’t far from his hand. A dwarf drops his coins all over the hardwood floor and curses in another language; it’s the only sound in the tavern for ten seconds straight. Lionel, seated in a corner by the fire and lounging over a lacquered book, yawns. Half the tavern’s population turns to him, and he sets aside his reading material and blinks. “Over here,” he calls to Chisel, as if he’s just spotted an old friend. The angry frost giants scoff and go back to their drinks, the barmaids return to their orders, Drargon lets go of his axe and a lute player starts a jolly jig. Lionel’s acceptance is all these people need… for the moment, anyway.


Good thing she hasn't sat down yet, picking up the lantern again before finding her way to Lionel, she doesn't mind, people clearly didn't like her being here, then again no one really likes her anywhere, even deep within the forest, people still hunt her down, thinking that she is too dangerous to exist. She looked down to Lionel before finally pulling the chair for her. Sitting down before saying, "You look worst than before.." pulling down her cloak, exposing herself completely, "And here I thought you'd never come..." Not even a layer of frost upon her delicate body. Snow, water, moisture never works well with wood, let alone plant life, freezing the very life force within her vessels and she'll be dead within seconds. If it was one of those warm blooded creatures, their heat would keep them functioning for quite a period of time before succumbing to the temperatures, but not her, Her body does not provide any heat nor protection from such risks. "And yes, before you asked me, "I was there. In Larket. But not to destroy it perse... My reasons are my own, I simply took the chance while everyone is having their own problems... Still, I did not get what I want." looking up to him, wondering if he even understands what she is saying.


Lionel knows something of not being liked. It would seem disingenuous for him to say it now, as a leader of a realm-wide alliance to stop a warlord from his destructive path, but it’s true. Were he and Chisel in Vailkrin’s Hanging Corpse instead, they’d both be seen as mutants, abominations. In fact, the dryad would have a better chance of convincing the locals to give her a chance than the human Catalian. It is entirely possible the same thing would happen in Trist’oth, if the wrong drow spotted him in their lair, only unlike the vampires, the drow would probably rip him apart on the spot. He thinks briefly on this, and on other places across the seas, where he would not at all be welcome. Something like a fragile bond emerges in regard to the woman who sits down across from him, but still he must ponder the claims that she aided Kahran -- Kahran! -- in his assault on Larket. Lionel sighs to recall those vile accusations, and the sigh cuts through the first things Chisel says. Then she carries on, addressing the proverbial elephant in the room even as a pair of well-dressed and better-groomed dwarves hustle past their table in high hopes of expressing their mutual lust for a frost giant whose arms are crossed defensively.


Lionel is too engaged in trying to discern Chisel’s answer to notice the frost giant shake his head, roll his eyes, and walk out of the tavern to the poor dwarves’ dismay. For all the diversity the alliance has brought to Frostmaw, it seems some things still aren’t meant to be. “I don’t follow,” Lionel admits to Chisel. “If your quarrel was with the king and queen, I don’t think that raving woman back at our meeting would have… well, raved so. She seemed to be under the distinct impression you slaughtered innocents, and I’ve never know someone so shaken as she to lie. The mad see what the see,” he says slowly, considering in secret all the things he has seen in his own bouts of madness, “but if she’s sane, you did something baleful back there. And… look. Chisel.” Lionel’s azure eyes are pleading.


“I don’t know what it’s like to be you. I admit that openly. I know there are things about yourself that… complicate matters such as these. I know the first two times you and I met, it wasn’t exactly on friendly terms, either. But that accuser of yours has been rampaging Frostmaw Fort’s hallowed halls demanding -my- head because I didn’t demand -yours.- And frankly, I wouldn’t be so concerned about it at all, except that there’s a war on, and I can’t afford even more enemies than we’ve already made, and now I’m worried that you’re one of those enemies.”


"No... Not the King or Queen.. not the people even. I simply wanted my land back." normally she would rant once more how territories are simply drawn boundaries on a map and that nature doesn't give a damn about such but the man has listened to that numerous times already. She could hear her lantern humming again, maybe the man is close enough to audibly hear it as well, "Annoying." she simply say as she glance away from it. "I attacked those people and lands because I want them. I was given two options and yet no choice at all... You have met the other 'me' right? It has been, what? six months since she was awakened. All thanks to this lantern, keeping her asleep as long as I have the light. However, This lantern is cursed. It came from the guy himself. Kahran. He gave me power to chain down the beast.... and Greed, the power to have it all... The longer I have this item the stronger I become, the lands that once beyond my reach become so easy that having it simply did not sate it. I want it all." she stared upon Lionel's eyes as if to bring weight to her own words. "Power, Mister Lionel, Power. Now, this man is wreaking havoc amongst our lands, He never asked for my loyalty... bend the knee? no, Nothing of that sort. He gave me everything. In the beginning I thought mortals are the one destroying the lands, their petty wars and progress has ruined nature enough to fuel my hatred. Something that Kahran and his ilk is doing as well. I have appeared upon that council in hopes I would learn a means to end it all and yet what I saw was a bunch of mortals mumbling amongst themselves without any sort of order."


Staring at the table before her, letting her finger trace the wood a bit. "I was given two options and yet no choice at all... This lantern is what holds back the end, the corrupted dryad. If I join your side and Kahran loses his life, the lantern may lose its light... what assurance would I get that the beast won't be free? If I joined his side, all will be lost... which pretty much does the same result." a long pause, letting the man's mind catch up to all of this. "He never needed to ask for my loyalty Mister Lionel... he already holds my leash."


The contours of Lionel’s face smoothen despite the weight of Chisel’s words. His gaze lingers past her and toward Drargon, who has found occasion to peer up in secrecy from his masterly duty of sweeping ashes and lint from near the firepit. The hardened frost giant in charge of Frostmaw’s first and only tavern has affixed him with the same sort of knowing stares that Lionel has long since come to expect from Kelay’s Mesthak: a silent edict that he is ready to assist should conversation come to blows. The smoothness of Lionel’s gaze combines with a slight shake of the head, nigh-indiscernible to anyone but Drargon. There is no need for it. Not even in light of the woman’s news. Lionel feels Chisel’s lantern pulse and tilts his face back toward her worriedly.


“As far back as the earliest scroll,” he replies, “humanity and several of the world’s other more industrious races have carved out hollow spaces where nature previously thrived, depriving the less abrasive races of their habitats in so doing.” He lifts his red-lacquered book and points to its cover accusingly. “The Lives of Men & Their Subsequent Follies,” he reads the title aloud. “The historians comb over numerous celebrated people through the ages and study their failings. But they don’t start early enough into the timeline. We’ve been killing indiscriminately since we chopped down the first trees for timber. I don’t deny that. I’m not proud of that.” Placing the book back down on the oaken table between them, Lionel shuffles himself forward to lean closer to Chisel. “For that, it would be shortsighted of me to hate you for trying to restore your perception of order and rightness in the world. Your want for power is, at the very least, more sympathetic to me than I feel toward some. And your need to restore -yourself- is… well,” he pauses, “suffice it to say, I can appreciate that, too. But you’re playing too dangerous a game, Chisel. You’re risking too much. You’re hurting people who, however ignorant they may be in the role they’ve played to choke the nature you hold most dear, are not inherently -bad.- Collateral damage in the wake of your actions killed at least one good man. It may have killed more. Maybe that doesn’t faze you? It fazes me.” He stiffens his posture.


“And your search for rhyme and reason has clouded you,” the Catalian continues. “The babbling you claim to have seen at the meeting you attended has not been seen as such by anyone else present. It’s a hard truth, Chisel, and not one I enjoy in the least, but there is no clear-cut method to end the madness Kahran has unleashed. Not yet. The alliance is a multifaceted organization working together in common cause to bring peace. The foes we face are too numerous, too diverse, too well-armed and far too cunning to be taken down in the span of one conference. Aye, maybe if we weren’t so mortal we might snap our fingers and rain fire down on the opposition. But that fire would spread just as surely as Kahran’s own flames, killing people and trees in equal measure. Our mortality means we have to think rigorously, creatively, and solve our problems bit by bit, inch by inch. And that is exactly what we’re doing.”


“If you join us in this mortal’s errand, this fool’s quest you must see us for, you get no reassurance the beast within you won’t be caged. It’s true.” Lionel shrugs to emphasize his openness. “It’s a problem we’d face rigorously and creatively, bit by bit, inch by inch -- together. Kahran would offer no such assurances. And if he did, he’d be lying. My kind have caused yours strife since that first tree was chopped, but his kind would sooner blow it all away in one fell swoop, and you’d never rebuild. He takes after his accursed dead masters. I fought them. I knew them well. To him you’re a dog to be chained. To me you’d be an ally whose personal challenges are worthy of consideration. So consider that.” In the background, Drargon raises a brow.


The emerald-shaded crystal skull in Lionel’s traveler’s satchel pulses back belatedly at Chisel’s lantern. She may feel it as he can feel her own artifact, and if she does, it will be like a wave of wisdom spoken in a tongue that neither man nor dryad will comprehend.


"What if this is all a lie? A ruse in an attempt of my to nag onto your morality to bring you to my side?" blinking a couple of times before saying, "Then again, I don't respect mortals enough to even bother doing the effort for such." smiling and said, "Oh fine, Maybe I do respect some of them enough." nodding at the man as if saying he is one of those people." She slowly moved back to her chair, leaning on it as she looked up to the ceiling. "I am one of his tricks, hidden in his sleeve, his investment or leverage as they say. His reign of terror would not end on his demise... it would end on mine and we both know that that is a bit difficult. With all the power I have consumed from this lantern, I could only imagine how stronger the other lady would be." looking back at him and said, "If Kahran wins, this lands would be corrupted and destroyed beyond repair but if the mortal wins, the wounds they have inflicted upon the earth would heal in time... but the question is, which one who would witness it? The Mortals? Or Me?" Consoling herself it seems, 'The mortals will win' she keep telling it. But destroying the dryad isn't exactly the easiest task to do, should she be killed, her life force would flow back into the nature and one could only imagine what would a corrupted spirit do once it found itself within the cycle of nature once again, birth another dryad? or make the forest a living nightmare. "Before.. this war ends I want you to do something for me. I want a ship, large enough to fill with earth and support my gardens. I want it seaworthy so I could simply sail away, I could only imagine this war would last for a few more months, or a year depending on how much blood both sides are willing to shed. If I sail away and the lantern loses its light, the beast would be out there, in the middle of nowhere. But if it kept its light, I would return once the smoke has faded. In return, I will help your people in this war, I could provide food, medicine and lumber but only till the time I need to leave. After that, you are on your own."


Lionel arches back into his chair, steeling himself to ignore the dull throb of pain in his head emanating from the strange connection between artifacts. Behind him, a frost giant of especially prominent size lumbers back and forth in an indecisive pace a few times before fetching a quill and ink from a rack and scurrying off to his table to fulfill whatever purpose summoned him closer by. The tavern is beginning to clear out even of the patrons who didn’t exit upon Chisel’s entrance now. The hour is late and the meeting between Lionel and his guest is drawing to an end. Smirking at Chisel’s hard-earned respect, the Catalian tilts his head a bit and nods. “Some will call me a fool for it, but the bigger fool would have declined. Giving you that ship would not only satiate you and further allure you to the side this alliance desperately needs you on, but it will also put… the beast,” he borrows her vernacular, “elsewhere from Lithrydel in case something awful should occur.” Woe be to whomever encountered that beast in the lands beyond. The thought of it feels irresponsible and sickens him to say it, but hard truths cut both ways: the realm is drowning in problems and cannot afford another. “Finding you that ship’s the hard part, though.” His mind is racing with thoughts of Rynvale and pirate vessels and whatever naval presence Kahran himself might have. Time enough to sort it out later. “But I doubt it’s impossible. I’ll start looking into it at once.”


"As most seafaring vessels are made out of wood, one may ask, why don't I just make one myself? I do not posses the knowledge of ship making and therefore having near unlimited resources would not exactly help me in anyway, providing the wood to build this vessel from scratch would mean I would need to sacrifice so much lumber while your people provide the manpower, both of which we desperately need for the on going war, time constraints isn't helping us either. With the vessel's size that I have in mind... it won't make it. I need a pre-built vessel, it doesn't matter where it came from or the circumstances of its procurement. For the safety of everyone else, we need it. I can drop anchor far from this land as much as possible... This is all I could offer Mr. Lionel. Should everything falls perfectly in place and I happen to lose the light, I'll have my gardens... and you don't have to deal with me ever again. Win Win as they say." Smiling as she slowly stood up from her seat. "It is rare for a being such as myself to ask for favors... I'm sure you are aware that I belittle mortals whenever I can. But... I just want to say, thank you, for listening at least. There is a war going on and yet I am asking you to spare manpower for me." shaking her head as she reached for the lantern and picked it up. "Till next time Mr. Lionel. A pleasure, as always." before finally bowing a bit, turning around, about to leave. Should the man have anything else to say, it would be the perfect time.


Lionel is quiet for the duration of Chisel’s farewell. He cants his head to the left and raises a brow to confirm his awareness that the dryad’s requests are few and far between for mere mortals. Drargon almost huffs audibly at that but keeps to his closing duties with a small thread of self-control. The old warrior is well-aware of the dangers inherent should he compromise the meeting now, and while a part of the frost giant would relish the chance to go head-to-head against this woman, the rest of him is wise enough to see that it’s better she be on their side than stand with the darkness instead. When it seems as though Lionel will let his guest leave without any parting words at all, he stands upright and takes a few steps forward. By now, she’s halfway to the door, but she’ll nevertheless hear him on her way into the night. “Thank you, Chisel.” It’s all he says, and he says it with a nod. It’s one less conundrum to contend with. It may prove impossible to get the Larketian widow at Frostmaw Fort to see things from his perspective, but some battles must be lost if others can ever be won.