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21 Days for Adye's Flame

 
Day Eleven - Body Language

She was slumped over on the table, head resting in the crook of her arm, a small and somehow forlorn figure. An empty bottle of wine had rolled across the table. There was a capped inkwell and a quill close to her elbow, and a crumpled piece of parchment lay close to her hand, Thaon’s name scrawled across it. It was this that had caught Thaon’s attention, and he picked it up. His eyes widened and he glanced back down at her sleeping form, pity crossing his face, followed quickly by the darkening of memory before settling into its usual unreadable state. He straightened, nodded once to himself, and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Eren.”

She groaned and lifted her head, blinking up at him for a while. Finally recognition dawned, followed quickly by consternation, and she sat up abruptly. “Oh. Oh gods. Thaon. I’m -” Her eyes fell on the piece of paper in his hand. “Did you read that?” Instinctively, she made a grab for it, missed, and clutched her head at the sudden movement.

“You addressed it to me, so yes.” If he was amused or guilty or felt anything about his invasion of her privacy, nothing showed in the calmness of his face and voice.

“I – I was going to throw it away. Burn it.” She couldn’t look at him, instead pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes and groaning. “Augh, my head…”

Thaon reached past her for the wine-bottle and frowned. “A whole bottle, Erenith? Do you drink like this every night? I don’t remember you –“

“No!” Reddening, she snatched it from his hand and shoved it under the table, avoiding his eyes as she spoke. “That is, only when I see ghosts. I mean, when I saw you, and I didn’t know what to think, and I had to finish my set and pretend everything was all right, and you vanished with those mercenaries, and I couldn’t write this bedamned letter anyway…blessed Ad- gods. I’m babbling.” By the end of her speech, she had slumped back down, one hand covering her eyes. It wasn’t clear whether it was the hangover or shame.

Thaon looked somewhat uncomfortable, eyes darting around the room before he sighed and put his hand on her shoulder once more. “Eren, I think we should talk, but not here. You aren’t going to like what you hear, but a noisy tavern is one of the worse places I can think of to hear it. Are you sober?”

“Yes! Yes, I’m fine.” She twitched away from his hand, rising abruptly so that her stool nearly tipped over. “Don’t treat me like a child, Thaon. I grew up a long time ago. I’m just…shocked, I guess. Outside. Let’s talk outside where I can clear my mind.” She swayed slightly, but waved away his assistance and pulled a flask from her knapsack, gulping some and splashing a bit on her hands and face. Thaon relaxed slightly at the sign that it was merely water, and followed her out of the tavern.

Outside, the air was cold and crisp, and Eren stood straighter now, tucking her tangled hair behind her ears and taking a deep breath. “All right, I’m better now.” Her hands were clenched by her sides, and she seemed to have a hard time looking at her companion in the lantern-light. “They’re all dead. Aren’t they? They’re really, truly dead.”

“As far as I know, yes. Wyl and Midan, certainly. They died when they refused to fight the Adyans from Temis’s group.” He spoke soberly, watching her face even has his remained unreadable. At his words her face crumpled and she covered it with both hands. He didn’t seem to know what to do with that, looking as if he was going to touch her but not quite daring. “I’m sorry, I thought you’d rather know the straight truth right away…”

She pulled her hands away at that, her shoulders sagging. “I do. I do...thank you. It’s just, it’s one thing, knowing it in my head, and quite another to…did you see them die?” She winced. She hadn’t meant to ask him that.

Thaon’s face closed into an unreadable mask. “Yes.”

Fresh pain squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m sorry, so sorry. If you knew – if Second told you what I did -“

Her words were close to a sob, now, and Thaon’s face softened. He quickly placed a hand on her arm, forestalling any further confessions. “Erenith. Now is not the time to talk about what you think you did or did not do. All of us, every last one of us, were glad you got out. Einar most of all, I imagine – Afallon keep his soul.” He forced her to meet his eyes, although the tears continued to glimmer in hers.

She looked down, and didn’t speak for some time. Finally she squared her shoulders and drew a breath. “And Bieron? You’ve said nothing about him – is there a chance he may yet live?”

It was Thaon’s turn to speak in a rush, his turn to avoid looking in her eyes, his face set like a stone. “I don’t know. We both...survived until the end of the Games. After that… I escaped. Or they let me go, I’m not sure which. I can hardly remember it anymore. I’m not a knight anymore, Eren. They threw me out, after I told them what happened. No, that’s too harsh. I did not keep the faith, so they could no longer keep me. I bear them no ill will, but I need their help.” He took a step forward then, a glimmer of hope in his face for the first time. “Do you –“

The hope quickly died as she turned from him and stared at the tavern door rather than meet his eyes. “I left the Knights a long time ago. I’m sorry, Thaon. I too…I failed them, and now only have myself. Whatever you’re doing, I can’t help you. I’m just a bard.”

His reply was quick, disappointment clear on his face but his manner deliberately casual. “I see. Well, I suppose I should have expected that. If the good gods and avatars made it easy to do the right thing, the world would be much less exciting, right? More pleasant, perhaps, but much less interesting, I’m sure.”

““I’m sorry.” Her tone was pleading, but he only responded with a shrug, his face now void of any emotion other than politeness.

“I’m not blaming you, truly. I only blame myself.” He paused for a moment, then reached forward and clasped her shoulder. “Be at peace, Erenith. And you should probably wash your face off before re-entering the tavern, hey?” He put the crumpled letter back in her hand, and then strode into the night, leaving Eren to sag against the side of the tavern like a broken doll.

Time to revamp this thing and do another set of exercises for yet another story, I think. Day 1-4 to follow.

Well, this is awkward. I didn't know I'd be the only one to cling to my little workshop page.

*suddenly feels like a sore thumb*

"This is bad, and you should feel bad."
- Zoidberg
----

Joking aside,
What are you looking for? Critique? Contribution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by impfireball View Post
"This is bad, and you should feel bad."
- Zoidberg
----

Joking aside,
What are you looking for? Critique? Contribution?
Honestly? I don't really know. I have this space and I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with it yet. Critique, maybe?

Probably some suggestions down the road...I am having trouble getting a few characters to really come together in my mind so I was going to use Stackpole's guidelines as a springboard to hopefully round them out. I'm having the most trouble with my "villain" because I want him to be a real person, not a cardboard cut-out, and I am having trouble nailing down his motivations. But working on this necessitates actually writing it all out, which hasn't happened yet.

So don't hold your breath, it may be a bit before I put anything on here.

I'm sad. I was enjoying reading this.

Also, a good way to make your villain interesting: Give him a very petty motivation. Example: I was born in the boon docks, and was raised by a poor family. Now, i want to obtain all the money in the world so I'm never poor again.

OR

When I was sixteen, I had a bad break up. Now, I'm going to try and obtain all of the power in the world so that my new wife will only every want to love me.


Petty motivations may seem shallow, but they do add an interesting depth to your villains and really helps to explain their psychosis if they're 'evil'.

Sometimes, you don't want your villain to be evil, in which case your petty motivation might work more like this:

"I was commanded by my superiors to hunt down the heroes. I don't like it, but I'll do it because I am a good knight who does what his superiors want."

"Secretly, I'm in love with one of the heroes. However, she loves the other hero, so I want to get rid of him or expose him to be a cad so she'll love me back."




 

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