Diocles chewed thoughtfully, politely swallowing and washing down his food with wine before deigning to speak. He eyed and listened to each of his comrades, as well as the intriguing Jarrik, but his focus remained on Sul in the end. He spoke softly, his eyes resting on the arm which led under the table.
"Come now, pretty starling. You might have cause to request my fidelity for the future, but the past is beyond our reach. No need to get upset over an untimely tale."
Ulrin's mind was else where. Yhiugh he did eat as his friends commanded he did not feel well. And listening to Theadrin only made him sicker. More Wardens, more joinings, sitting longer in this filthy rich mongrel murchants house. He started driking the wine offered if only so his thoughts would stop. Tomorrow they'd be gone from here. He wouldn't have to be served again. Tomorrow was what was on his mind, not new armor or weapons.
Though the thought of his knife did prick at his mind. Even more so when the elf across from him took one. Curious he leaned back in his seat. Trying to follow the blade under the table. He then sat up and held up his own knife, "Sulahn'nehn, is something wrong?"
Sleight of hand was harder than she thought. Sulahn'nehn attempted to laugh off the situation. "OH. No, no, no. I swear it isn't- I know none of us can change what we've done. I...I just think it would be to my advantage to, um, have something else to defend myself with. F-For emergencies. You know my magic is a bit... unpredictable. "
The elf reached for a glass and busied herself filling it with wine. "I'm fine, Ulrin. I'm fine."
".. Of course. You should ask me to train you in the use of a knife or dagger sometime."
Diocles frowned. Sul was acting quite oddly. He briefly glanced at Ulrin, wondering if the other elf had any idea what was wrong with her.
Thaedrin quirked an eyebrow at the fuss on the other end of the table, but didn't bother to make it a point of conversation. Taking a swallow of wine, he pushed his plate away and gestured to a slave to clear it.
"As tempting as it is to feel secure in our current location, the Darkspawn are still in our realm and pirates harrying our allies. Are you so blind to the threat that you would drink yourself beneath the table for a night of ignorant stupor, or would you like to get the task done?"
Ulrin shook his head at thd archer. His expression was grim. Perhaps Sulahn'nehn was not adjusting as well as she seemed. He picked up his cup to drink again only to nearly choke at Theadrin's words.
"You are advising us to be sensable? " he muttered. "I suppose summoning demons is."
Diocles didn't take his eyes off Ulrin, but the object of his attention did change for the moment. His frown deepened as he analyzed the expression of his fellow rogue.
"..If you could go back to that moment and keep him from performing that summoning, would you?"
Ulrin eyed the human. He knew he wanted to hear him say the he was happy the humna was alive. However he considered the human, the elf he was next to, and everything he knew. "You are asking if I could? I suppose my regrets dependvupon the type of human you will prove to be. For now, I am just glad it did cost us three lives for one."
"Oh. Yes. That would be nice."
It would actually benefit her to actually know how to use it properly. However, lying about it didn't feel too great. Nor did the sudden change in mood. Sulahn'nehn tensed, fully expecting a verbal lashing from Ulrin. She knew the elf did not feel anywhere near the same as she did for Diocles and so she was surprised to hear his calm response. One that wasn't completely negative at that.
"Thank you." It was about as much as she could say to Ulrin in her disbelief. Maybe he wasn't a total miserable sack.
"You're welcome..." the elf did his best not to frown more than he already was. He returned to his drink silent and seething for the res of his meal. Sulahn'nehn was such an accepting fool. There was no use in arguing with her or pointing out that Diocles' fondness of her can be quickly replaced by a pretty human girl. No it wasn't worth it today.
Diocles nodded slowly. He had not expected much. Ulrin had given him the minimally acceptable answer: Not wishing the human dead.
"Well. I suppose we'll see, then."
Jarrik was clearly a third, or fourth, wheel to the whole conversation. Something about summoning darkspawn, who knows. These wardens were powerful fighters individually, but their group morale was terrible, tension seemed in the air whenever they weren't focused on a common foe. Another thought he kept to himself lest he draw any more ire. After the verbal tussle finally had ebbed off, he found the chance to respond to the Tevinter mage.
"What task? Speaking to the Rivani? Even by boat it would takes hours to cross Rialto Bay. So I don't see how a little merriment plays into that." Though he did make a show of finally setting the glass down and partaking in some food for the first time that evening.
Ghil made note of the murmurings surrounding Sulahn'nehn as well, giving her attention to the elven girl with quirked brows and alert eyes. She'd finished eating, and was now attempting to catch up to Jarrik in the wine department.
"I am thinking, there is none for me to do with these Rivaini if you are not wanting their heads bashed in. Alrik, even less so."
"Yes, I can see I have the wrong audience for this." Thaedrin bristled with irritation. Half of the table was crooning over Sulahn'nehn, and the barbarians-Jarrik included-were not about to separate themselves from the table for the sake of, say, taking inventory of their new equipment or determining whether the ship they take across the bay ought be built for speed or for defense. It was obvious that these decisions would once again fall to him and him alone, and so he stood and took his wine glass with him. "Do as you like."
The Constable left for his temporary quarters, and Ghil managed a shrug between gulps.
"Was going to do that anyway."
Ulrin finished his drink and pushed his plate away. "I don't think I can stomach any more of this meal. I'm going to familiarize my self what new weapons were donated and retire. " He didn't say good night to anyone in particular. Not like it really mattered he supposed. "See you in the morning. "
"Thaedrin left quickly.. Feminine problems, I suppose. Sleep well, Ulrin."
Diocles shrugged, finishing his meal (in typical record time) and sipping thoughtfully on the provided wine. They were growing apart. He himself was making inroads, yes. But the others hated each other, and his own relationship with Sul would strain his already difficult relations with Ulrin and Thaedrin. It was a dangerous way to go into battle. He should likely find a way to appease Thaedrin, but pleasing the blood mage was no simple task. His eyes drifted back to Sul as he wondered if he should have simply remained friends with the girl.
Still, that would have been difficult. She was a beauty and possessed a certain charm he found intoxicating. Yes, remaining platonic was likely never an option in the first place. Idly his hand slipped under the table, moving to curl around hers.
"My lady, excuse my garrulous and loquacious affectation, but in this assemblage my diction allows for a contrivance of obfuscation. I perceived my accommodation of hibernation is excessively ample for my own self, and I diffidently request the acclaim of your esteemed proximity in the event I seclude myself."
Alrik drummed his heavy fingers on the table, watching after Ulrin and Diocles as they left, a troubled expression on his face.
"Please," he said to Jarrik, "Do not be concern. Are all tired. After rest, will all... be calm. Behave with more dignity."
The hard look in his eyes suggested that this course of action was not optional. He picked up a bottle of mead and refilled Jarrik's cup.
"You have actual experience! Nice change. Hope you survive joining. Many die." He shrugged. "Still, very good for fight Darkspawn. Feel them before they feel you. Usually."
Sulahn'nehn was lost and it quite visibly showed on her face. Those were rather big words that she may have heard at some point, but never all at once. It was overwhelming and it left her piecing together what the archer meant. It slowly dawned on her and her lips formed an 'oh'.
Her lips curled in a knowing smile as she followed Diocles out, murmuring promises.
The rogue returned to his room and looked over the bed he was to sleep in. He ran his hand over the sheets and pressed down on the mattress. It was much nicer than the inns they stayed in or the barracks. And it was leagues above what he'd slept in during his days as a slave. Certainly the other elves here were sleeping in horrid conditions. Ulrin pulled most of the sheets off the bed before resting on top with a sigh.
Jarrik accepted the mead, a quaint brew lacking in subtlety but this many drinks in it didn't particularly matter.
"What is the joining? Sounds like some kind of rite of combat."
He shook his head.
"No-- is just ceremony. Drink from cup of spawn blood, lyrium, maybe other things."
Often this information was hidden from new recruits, but Alrik got the feeling that this man could be convinced to go through with it either way.
"No combat rite needed-- not so picky. Not sure if elves ever fought day in lives before joining. Fight good enough, though. Maybe anyone who can survive joining naturally pretty good at fight? Hard to say."
Ghil scowled, snapping at Alrik in Alamarri, "I seem to remember it quite differently."
Alrik laughed, shrugging. "If it had been just you, we probably would have been straight with you," he said in Alamarri. "But when dealing with a mob, it is often better to lie."
"Heh, truth be told it doesn't sound like the worst I've drunk 'fore."
The nervous smirk did little to hide that all the pieces had finally come together despite all the drinks.
"Speaking of swill, this Tevinter wine is nearly as sour as an Atlus's disposition."
Diocles smiled as he closed the door of his room behind the pair. Not that he had any reason to suspect the room was his, but he had claimed it by the lack of pretty dresses or mage-dresses.
"I doubt that deception was successful or even necessary, but I do like making the appearance of trying to keep appearances. I'm certain the others are well aware of our mutual affection; Thaedrin suspected it pre-emptively and Ulrin seems ready to stab me. .. I mean, even more than before."
The barbarian woman snorted, pushing her chair back to stand. "You should start running," she said to Jarrik in Tevene, clapping him firmly on the shoulder, "before you no longer can."
She took the entire decanter with her when she left, one of the full ones from the elves' end of the table. If she was going to take a bath, she may as well soak drunkenly for a time.
Alrik sighed, watching her go.
"No worry. Is just angry because we held her down and poured blood down throat against her will. We not do that with you-- Thaedrin not have upper-body strength for it."
Sulahn'nehn nodded, placing her stolen knife on the dresser. "I must admit, I do not think I have been entirely subtle about it. Perhaps with some more practice the others will actually believe I mean to simply pay you a visit."
The elf crossed back to Diocles, placing her hands on his chest and standing on the tips of her toes to kiss his chin. "I believe Ulrin wishes to bring harm to every human, so do not feel so- Just a moment. What do you mean preemptively? Do you often find yourself in the company of elves?"
"I'm going to need 'nother drink."
It was the only thing he could think to say, hoping that perhaps he'd heard incorrectly. Even the best tales of glory and valor had their darker elements bubbling below the surface, but none so dark as this.
Diocles frowned momemtarily. What was the best way to explain this? Several probable lies came to mind, but they would be temporary salves, and he was becoming increasingly fond of Sul. Perhaps honesty. He looked down into her eyes, sighing slightly. Yes. Honesty.
"I, somewhat frequently, find myself in company. For a night. And I happened to be speaking of you, positively, in his presence."
Of course. It seemed to be a pass time across all of Tevinter to bed as many people as one could in a short span of time. Not that the elf herself had much room to speak on that matter, except here it was not against her will. Sulahn'nehn watched Diocles' changing expression and was relieved to hear what sounded like him spitting out the truth.
It was her turn to think to herself before she spoke up, keeping eye contact with him. "I have no right to be upset. As you said, the past is beyond our reach. If you can look passed my own, it is only right that I do the same for you. If we are being honest, I must say I hope there are, hm, no others... Is that too bold?"
Diocles hesitated only briefly before responding.
"It's not too bold, it's completely reasonable. You'll have my fidelity."
He was smiling now, she had taken that quite well. And he never had to worry about hiding the truth. Honesty was a potent sort of manipulation. He'd have to keep using it.
"Reciprocation is implied, of course."
Sulahn'nehn could hardly believe what she was hearing. A human. The kindest and sweetest man she'd ever met. Just promised faithfulness. To her. The ecstatic elf hardly got out her agreement before she pulled Diocles into a tight embrace. "I am yours, I swear it."
Diocles grinned, returned the embrace and kissed the little mage before pulling back briefly. He couldn't resist sneaking in one last jest.
"Let us say we're courting, or you can say I am yours. I'm afraid, though, if I claim ownership of you Ulrin will -definitely- attempt to kill me."
Always with the jokes. She shook her head, leading him to the bed they would share. "Most certainly. But, I promise he'll never get the chance to lay a hand on you. You, however..." Sulahn'nehn took the archer's hands and guided them to the clasps of her dress.
Constable Davinius, meanwhile, stood at the window of his quarters and looked out over the ruin of Antiva City with an empty, distant gaze. He had one foot in the Fade, and his attention was fixed on the dark crags and green sky of the spirit world. Under his feet, tiles formed; it was old habit to make the scene around him into something familiar, to anchor himself. One could walk an island all day without ever moving, but the landmarks he created for himself promised progression through the vastness.
It was Commander of the Grey Trajan Vorenus that he searched for, and at this late hour he hoped that the man would be asleep. The hallway of his father's manor crumbled away when he entered the dreams he sought, and what was before him instead was the mass of Darkspawn huddled in the cave in worship of the great beast Dumat. Thaedrin's jaw tightened at the sight of the dragon God. Archdemon, they called him. No more worthy of praise than his left boot.
The serenity with which Trajan regarded the song of Dumat filled him with unease.
"Commander, I must report."