Loyalties Declared

The Library
This enclosed room is strangely quiet, sheltered as it is even from the whisper of wind in the trees that can be heard throughout all the rest of Arborlon. All around the perimeter of the room are comfortable chairs beside small tables, at the head of each of which is a lacy-patterned lantern bathing the chair in gentle blue light reminiscent of starlight. The shelves on the walls and against the trunk of the tree are not horizontal, but wind as vines, bearing not leaves but thick volumes of every description, both ancient and recent, bearing titles like "A Journey to Arvanaith", "A Treatise on Elven Wine", "Elven Kindreds", "The Building of New Arborlon", "The Fellowships of Arborlon", and "Ritual and Celebration". How the books cling to these shelves without slipping sideways must certainly be a secret of magic, but they all hold to their respective places. The tree at the center bears an orange leaf-shaped gem etched with the words, "Sanganien en' Sinta". Here indeed is a vast treasure of centuries upon centuries of knowledge.
Exits: northwest

Annale slipped out of the Leaves of Healing amongst the celebrating Elves, leaving Maranwe to deal with the multitude of thank-yous and well-wishes. She wasn't really one for all the festivities, especially when there was so much else to do. [Annale]

A small part of her felt relief, but ridding the Elves of the Mark only opened up other problems for her to face. Leaving the sounds of merriment and cheer behind her, Annale strolls into the Library, unsurprisingly finding it empty as the good news spread about the Island.[Annale]

That suited her just fine. The books she had been pouring through for the last few days lay where she left them on a table so she set about returning them to their proper place. [Annale]

As the last of the Elves are cleansed of the taint, most of which are the guards who generously offered to be the last ones to be attended to, the Elear's tense shoulders sag into a release of unusual relief. [Israfel]

There is much cheering going on, and celebration; the usually serene temple racous in commotion and the composed Maranwe turning into an object of adoration, her placid face flustered though happy for the Elves. [Israfel]

In all that joy surrounding him, somehow, her people seemed to have forgotten their Tari; and he glances around, settling back the empty goblet he had used, back into Maranwe's cupboard. Annale has vanished, so quietly, perhaps no one seen her leaving or no one cared? [Israfel]

He dries his hands and sincerely bids his own farewells, citing defensive measures at hand that would be impending for the good of everybody. [Israfel]

They let him go and he trails one of the branches to return back to the library and his hand presses just against its door, once he reaches, opening it with a slight crack. [Israfel]

Annale slides another book onto the shelf, her fingers dawdling over the spine momentarily before dancing a few books over and pulling a plain leather-bound manuscript off the shelf and adding it to the books she was carrying.

It appeared that for every book she shelved, she took another off. The door opening caught her off guard, causing her hand to stop middair as she turns to face the door, her confusion evident upon her face as she looks expectantly at the crack-open door. [Annale]

The door expectantly does widen, coming apart from its ajar status and letting a triangle of evening sun splay across the floor of the library and lengthen into the interior, creating a few distracting shadows which Israfel's own is part of. He shuts the door, shutting off the orange-stained rays to let the library be bathed in that soft blue light again.

The Elear appears to pause at the door for a very long time, his pale white head bowed, his back leaning against the closed door; and him totally oblivious to that Annale is somewhere there putting away books. [Israfel]

Annale tilts her head curiosly as she realizes that Israfel is rather oblivious to her presence, and perhaps even where he is. She watches him for a few seconds, taking the moment to observe, before stepping out from behind a book shelf.

"Is everything alright, Heru?" She tries to speak quietly, so as to not shock him out of his reverie. Her facial expression is controlled, any curiosity or confusion wiped away, although concern dances amongst the flames of her eyes. [Annale]

The Elear glances up, his posture twitches along with a certain few lines of expression on his face that he is not alone in the library. It had not even crossed his mind earlier that the Tari would have come here.

His own blue eyes seem to reflect the shades of the library's lights as he speaks, denying any form of affliction or worry. "No, Tari. I am alright. In fact, I am relieved." Israfel assures her, straightening his back and moving to approach, though she might find sense to not believe what he'd just said, owing to that little distinct frowning arch of his eyebrows.

"You needed something from the library?" He asks in continuation, eyeing the shelf she was near to earlier, and back to Annale. [Israfel]

Annale shrugs a shoulder nonchalantly in response to her library needs, as though she were indicating that it wasn't important, "Why are you relieved, if I may pry? For I must say that I am surprised to see that you have removed yourself from the celebrations so soon." As she speaks, she moves to the nearest table and reverently puts down the pile books, some of them looking rather fragile. [Annale]

Making his way to the same table as well, the Elear does not sit but he stands, with his hand lightly perched onto one of the chairs, fingertips tapering down to press against the ancient wood.

"You have, yourself, left the celebrations as well." He says, matter-of-factly, not even reproachful or chiding, and all that in his even tone of voice, Israfel carries on. "I am relieved to find that you are here, instead of somewhere else, perhaps, having left Arborlon?" Blue sights raise up to level themselves with Annale, in question, absorbing in the vision of the Tari for a moment. [Israfel]

Annale meets Israfel's gaze, not speaking for several seconds, as though trying to gauge what he was getting at, her amber eyes blazing and cooling as she ponders his words, "You seem very keen on me staying, or leaving, Arborlon. Is there a reason?" She speaks levelly, although obviously choosing her words carefully. "Celebrations are for those with reasons to celebrate, not for those with other issues to resolve." [Annale]

"Staying here." The Elear says utmostly simply, his position unflinching. "You are the Tari." He adds, like a quiet reminder. And at the rest of the words that are posed to him, Israfel's pale eyebrow raises barely.

"What issue might you need to resolve that you see no cause for celebration with your people?" The Elear asks then, his mind flickering to perhaps a few problems that are dwelling on them now that the taint is resolved. "Mayhaps it is Vermicio himself?" [Israfel]

Annale slides into a chair, tossing her hair over a shoulder and gesturing an invitation for the Elear to sit, if he wanted. "The Pixies came through our defenses as though they didn't exist, so that must be resolved, and soon. We have a refugee camp on our coast. Half our army is currently camping with the Pixie army somewhere between Reomyr and Lomar. Our General is missing, as far as I can tell. And, while I am uncertain on this last one, I believe that certain members of the High Council are harbouring doubts about their Tari. And yes, I suppose there's also the Doom Pixie King to deal with."

She speaks as though she were listing off a grocery list, her tone neutral. Her eyes, however, study Israfel's face, she wasn't sure what information he was looking for, but she felt he had no reason to be wary of her. [Annale]

Automatically, the Elear takes his place opposite of her, hand easing out the chair effortlessly without scratching the flooring of the library and sets himself straight in that chair. "Do you seek to reconcile with our people, Tari?" That becomes the first question he poses to her, albeit above all the other issues that she has raised.

"Or all that you have listed, are just mere assumptions of pure duty?" Israfel returns her gaze with his own equivalently calm one. Of course, there is no reason to be cautious of each other at this stage; and his own hands link fingers in a relaxed, quite defenceless position upon the table, in full view of her sight. He just wanted to be certain. Certain about her. [Israfel]

"I didn't leave Aryella in Reomyr so that I could 'perform my duty' here. I abandoned her because doing so gave the people of Arborlon a better chance of true freedom. I didn't endure torture out of a mundane sense of duty." Pain taints her accented voice, her left hand clenching slowly. With a deep breath released slowly, she continues "I have no interest in being a hollow Tari. Nor have I any interest in merely performing obligatory duty, the Elves do not need a false figurehead. [Annale]

With that bare hint of emotion elicited from Annale, Israfel seems a little pleased, maybe or inwardly approving. His hands seem to loosen and relax even further, innate sign of a mage so at ease that he does not bother with any need for defense.

He does not respond to what she had spoken about her priorities and instead, returns the conversation to that grocery list of to-dos in all pragmatism. "You will still be the commander of our troops in the absence of Lord Sotei, my Tari. And I'd suggest they be left there for now — but we will bring them a few bards, some good news, a few crates of wine and a sufficient back up of our mages who will be there in a day and half."

He sets her a glance, the dark and light parts of his sky-touched eyes distinct as Israfel further puts thoughts into actions, "The High Council, Tari, will need your address and assurance; like what I've got from you."

"As for Vermicio, I await your plans." He finishes in a contemplative note, loose fingers slipping to lock themselves together, the entire ensemble of linked digits resting on the library table's top. [Israfel]

Annale unclenches her hand, momentarily thinking Israfel's crazy if he thinks she's about to share that kind of information with the High Council - she was reminded of it enough, not needing to speak it out loud. "Where do you fit into this Israfel? You came to Arborlon seeking to solve mysteries of wild magick, if I remember well. You have become quite trusted, and well loved of the people. Clearly, you are my most trusted advisor."

Whether that was a good or bad thing was to be determined, for if. he doubted her so greatly, who could she really rely on. [Annale]

"Is that a question or an accusation, my Tari?" The Elear replies ever so calmly, his lips set into a straight line, unsmiling, the lack of humour at her words apparent in both blue sights and pale features.

"Or a compliment?" He adds in an afterthought of finality. He sees the motion of her fist, it coming unclenched and then returns himself back to answering whatever query she has posed first to him. "The original reason for coming here has dissolved in the priority of ensuring the survival of the Quendi. You in accepting me so…"

He pauses, as if it was difficult to find a word to express himself succintly. "So generously has put my role into place. You placed me where I am."

"If there's trust lost between us, then you'll have to walk alone. And there is what I do not wish to see." Israfel concludes, speaking aloud perhaps Annale's thoughts, his hands resting still in her sight, upon the table. [Israfel]

"Compliment, naturally." Her features soften consciously, in an attempt to take the edge out of her words, she wasn't intending to seem accusatory. She reacted visibly, though, to his words of walking alone, "I do not mean to upset you. You have become thoroughly entrenched among the Quendi in so short a time, relatively speaking, I can only wonder if you had other desires. If you hadn't intended on becoming so needed and trusted amongst us. You do speak from the people, in astutely judging me. It is… humbling, I suppose." Her eyes shift away, not in embarrassment, but more out of awkward discomfort. [Annale]

"I am not the people, my Tari." Israfel replies; and now his hands unlock from each other — one of which raise to arch and touch almost the blue glow embedded through the library. Evening has given way to twilight and the onset of dusk — they have been in the library conversing for that long! Minutely, he wonders if the elves are still celebrating; and it is answered by the sound of fireworks outside, the sparkle and delicate boom of magical fireworks.

"You are the people of this Island, of Arborlon and Irrybis. The Quendi." The Elear's soft tones draw into solemnity while the compliment she has awarded much earlier is regarded with one of the very rare, sincere smiles he owns. "As well, I do not harbour any baser wont than where you have placed me. And what I see, I speak of." The note in his voice lightens considerably in a pause. "And if you accept my advice and my judgement, then I am honored." [Israfel]

"There are not many who would speak so frankly, and it is that frankness that I appreciate." Perhaps she had spent too long as the favoured of a God, she had grown spoiled. The sounds of fireworks echo softly, reminding Annale of the day it's been, "I wonder what the Hobbits think of our celebrations." She smirks slightly, her attempt at humour weak. [Annale]

"Probably trying to pick a few pockets." The Elear replies dryly, his frame easing out of the chair and he stands, pushing the furniture away from himself. "But if you are curious, why don't you see for yourself?" He offers his hand towards her in genuine invitation, his jaw tilting slightly towards the door of the library, an indication that they should at least join in whatever is left of this night. "The Tari should never be far from her people." [Israfel]

Annale slips her hand into Israfel's, her fingers resting across his as she rises, "She is never far away in spirit, if not in person." She glances towards her books, left lying on the table, thinking to herself, ~Tomorrow. Aryella would have liked the fireworks tonight.~ "An Elf should never miss a good celebration, at any rate. I'm sure Shirl can be convinced to break out some Elverquisst."

Whatever issues were on the grocery to-do list could wait another day, today was for the Elves. [Annale]

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