RP PotHN: Restless Sky, Hollow Ground [1x1]


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It was a calm night.

The water, still and stoic, only faint ripples of distant waves breaking the canvas of the reflected sky. And yet - there was a turbulence, here. There always was, these days, wasn't there? Always a new storm on the horizon, always a new wind howling through the crew's troubled hearts. Sometimes, she felt helpless for it. Everything had crumbled, when Sinead left, and Emer wasn't strong enough to put it together.

But -

She could try. She could manage. And before she tried to hold others back against the squall, she had to find footing herself.

"Hello," she said - voice soft, almost a whisper. She approached the Baron from behind, standing a ways back, arms wound tightly in her shawl. Her heart trembled. What might he say? What might he do? He hadn't come to her in several nights - his own feelings had not passed, and perhaps, for all her hope, waiting had done more harm than good.

But his words were true. She always ran. She would not, now.

"I am - I am sorry, Baron Emryk. I wanted to begin with that. You - your advice was warranted, and your feelings justified."

"Good evening."

The night was an enjoyable sort of cold. The tunic he donned was unbuttoned at its collar and few more down the chest-- out of necessity, perhaps, to fit upon the brawn of his form. In his hand was a journal and pencil that would have been fit for a doll, in hands such as his; yet he held a precision in his fingers that had not yet faded with age, despite the slight tremble he had to still every few nights.

He hadn't answered for a few moments, giving a soft sigh as he shifted atop his makeshift chair and turned to face the wisewoman. His sleeves were rolled; his chest and arms were bandaged, the collar of his shirt stained with his own blood. He looked about as death-kissed as he had a few nights prior, though much like the closing wounds upon his body, there was a scarring about him. Not of trauma-- certainly not from the vampire, with the trials the Baron had faced in his life. He would not give the undead nobleman that much credit.

But there was a hurt about him that might have been otherwise implacable, if not for the way it seemed to flare in the presence of her.

"You do not need to apologize." He stated, simply. There was a skepticism in his voice, bitter like the taste of licorice in his words. "The entire affair was an embarrassment on my account. Is there something you need?"

"I miss your company."

She shifted, weight moving from one foot to the other, and turned to look at the sky. Where his feelings were hidden, barely perceptible, she was very obviously nervous - uncomfortable - even, perhaps, slightly ashamed, though whether it was out of guilt or out of knowing her trepidation wasn't quite obvious.

"This ship - my ship - has many wrongs. Dark stains across its past. And while - it may be easy to dismiss, as a simple observer myself, I am -" she tightened her grip on her arms, talons digging into the cloth of her shawl. "- just as fault, for standing idly by. I am as much their wisewoman as they are my folk. They respect me, and trust my word, and to - to not use such a gift to make things better is a terrible waste, on my part."

Forcing herself to meet his eye, feathers fluttering up and ears folding back as she did, she gave a strained smile.

"I would like to help. I would like to play a part in this. Caleb - Sky bless his soul - is not strong enough for this. He cannot hold their faith like Sinead could. They need guidance, and I can provide it."

Emryk was silent, for a good while, as he listened to the wisewoman speak. For a moment, it seemed as if she'd taken his words to heart-- and indeed, she did. She had no reason to lie to him, and she didn't seem the type to tell him deliberate falsehoods.

The end, however, made him stare.

For a moment, he simply met her gaze, not offering much else. From beyond the rim of his rounded spectacles, he observed, as if searching for a moment before he spoke.

"You wish for Caleb to be more like Sinead? Like the Captain before him?" He stated, plainly. "And you think it is because of his lack of guidance that he is not ready?"

"I think unlike Sinead, he does not have the crew on his side, and that means - whether he means well or not, he will only add to turmoil," she replied quickly, taking a step towards him. "And certain as discord may bring faster change, it will also bring destruction. What if he makes a heartfelt call, and is disobeyed? What if he commands to do less harm, and the crueler among us spite him for it? I -"

She'd been growing more animated, but now she cut off, voice turning quieter again.

"In times of turmoil, it is the cruel who prevail. When - when people are divided, it is the cruel who survive, and the kind who are left burning on the pyre."

Silence hung for a moment. Lucien was one of the oldest here, now, always persevering. Lucien was the cruelest. Between Sinead and Solomon King - Solomon the cruelest. Between her folk and their slaughterers -


She was not cruel, but she did not cross the cruel, so they did not think of her. If she were to take a stand - she must either be crueler, or have the cruel of the crew beside her, and she could not be cruel. She could not. Reaching out a gentle hand, she took the Baron's by his, clutching it between her palms tightly.

"We must be as one, on this, if we wish to change things for the better. I am with you. Are you with me?"

She pulled his hand to her chest and looked him in the eyes.

Emryk's hand pulled away.

His brow was furrowed; calmly, he took his glasses and withdrew them from the bridge of his knurled snout, nostrils flared in anger as he neatly tucked the spectacles into his shirt pocket. His gaze was unwavering as he met hers.

"You come to me." He stated, softly. "After I told you the evil I saw in Sinead. After I confessed my opposition to her methods. And you..."

He gestured, indistinct. "... what, exactly? Avoid me for a few nights? As if I'd forget what I'd said? As if I'd forget that I nearly killed a man for his cruelty-- and you tell me that such cruelty was not only acceptable, but just?"

He seemed hurt. He was hurt. There was a great pain in his voice, now, as he regarded her, the betrayal evident in his tone. "And after I tell you my thoughts, you come here and you expect me to endorse the opposite. Do you know why Caleb is ineffective? Because he does not believe in his own damned morals he claims to have. Because he has spent his life as an orphaned pirate-- under SINEAD'S rule-- and hasn't a damn clue what it's like to live an honest life." Emryk stood from the crate, now, and pointed at her-- the anger building. "And NOW you suddenly take interest in his leadership? After you stormed out last night, like a child? After you thought it fitting to insinuate you were convenient to me, and nothing else?"

His snout twitched into a grimace, then curled into forced neutrality, his wounds straining to withhold ire he could not afford to release.

A moment passed, and he sighed, closing his eyes.

"I talked to him last night. I intend to help him. Guide him, as much as I can. Not to be cruel, but to be just."

He looked at her, again, and shook his head.

"I know what you have been through. The loss you have seen. And I pity-- I truly do-- that you can think of nothing other than cruelty, now. But I will not endorse it. Not now. Not ever. I have done enough of that, in my life."

"I have not - I did not -"

She let out a huff, not finding the words, desperate and tangled on the tip of her tongue. Could he be so callous to willfully misinterpret her? She spoke of unity, not cruelty, of solidarity, not violence. She - her talk of Sinead was for how she brought the crew together! How she inspired! And certainly, her methods were not always kind, but where had she said going back to Sinead's ways was best?

And - and! - he had insinuated she was a convenience to Sinead beforehand! He was the one who called her convenient, she was simply repeating his own words, certain out of anger, certain without thought, but only because he had purposefully struck her where he knew it would harm her most!

"You - misconstrue me, Baron. I said no such thing. I meant no such thing, and I am not the one at fault for it."

She took a step away from him, now.

"Why are you so fixated on the thought that I am somehow -- misguided, or - perhaps - tainted by Sinead? I knew what she was, Baron. I knew what she did. What she was capable of. But I also knew more about her than you could ever chance. There was good, there, and there was good for the crew, and if you cannot - put aside your feelings for the woman who, I must say, saved your very life, I -"

Her eyes were damp. Frustrated, she wiped at her face with her sleeve.

"- I cannot understand this. I am trying to help. I am trying to make things better. Why do you insist on treating me as an ignorant child?"

"What am I meant to infer," Emryk growled, "When you say that the kind burn upon the pyre in times of turmoil, Emer?" There was a malignant anger in his voice, now-- bitter, impassioned by injustice. "When you say she was good for the crew? Her, the woman who let Lucien kill indiscriminately. Who hung folk from crow cages. What I cannot fathom, Emer, is how you could have lost your family and not wondered, at some point, how many orphans Sinead makes in a raid. How many families she murders by virtue of how good she was for her crew. I treat you like an ignorant child because you act like one-- willfully blind of the facts before you. Petulent when they are brought before you, turning your nose up at the evidence right beneath it."

He closed his book, tilting his head.

"Sinead was good to you. She was not good. And your willingness that blatantly sidestep the deplorable acts she had committed speaks to a passivity within your character that I cannot enable. I know Sinead saved my life. For that, I am thankful. But I have been told that I should have been left to die, and that rescuing me was a mistake. My thanks to that woman was my service. It was every day I spent aboard this ship, staying, because I believed it could be better."

He rolled his shoulders. Another sigh fell from his lips.

"I am leaving, once we kill King. Once this business is over with. My debt to this ship will be paid, and I will return to my estate."

Emryk gaze down at Emer, at that.

"I wished to take you with me, you know."

"I speak of my people, Baron," she snapped back. "My people that burned - alive and dead - for kindness. But still I am kind. Still I care. Because I would rather give that to the world than cruelty."

Her feathers flared, again, eyes wide. At the border of - angry, perhaps, or at least incredibly frustrated.

"That you would think I would advocate against the wishes of those I have lost - I am simply saying that if this ship falls apart, the kind will not be the ones that prevail. Perhaps the quiet ones will survive. But they will not be the ones behind the helm. Which is why, above all else, holding this ship together will benefit us all."

As he spoke of leaving, her expression soured.

"You wished to take me with you." She tugged her shawl. "I will make my own choices, Baron. Again - I am no child. I am my own woman - I am a wisewoman. If I cannot speak for others to do, than I must make do myself."

"You say you miss my company. You come to me. And yet, when I confess my own love, this is the response I get." He muttered, looking away.

"Our kindness and care enables the cruelty of others, Emer. That, you must face. And while you may be able to stomach that fact for yourself, I cannot. That is why I must leave. And if you truly are complicit in enabling Sinead's murders and Lucien's cruelty, and cannot face that you had a hand in it, I don't know what to tell you." He rolled his shoulders, brushing past Emer-- he was thoroughly done with this conversation. No need to prolong an argument neither would concede.

"I knew you would make your own decision." Emryk stated, looking over his shoulder. "It was never a guarantee, for me. Silly of me to think it would work. My apologies for wasting your time, miss. Goodnight."

And then he turned to leave, neatly tucking his journal against his forearm-- a scowl upon his knurled snout.

"Hope you got what you wanted out of this."