(DM’s Note: This is another story written by two of my players, Shannon (Edella) and Briac (Claire) respectively.
When the group decided to set watches for the night, Briac immediately volunteered to partner with Edella before Raskin could. If the half-orc gave him any looks or comments the man ignored them. He wanted to talk to the paladin. Since being flung into this adventure Briac hadn’t really had a chance to get to know the girl, not well, and he could easily see she was the heart of the operation. It was also clear the paladin could handle herself and then some, but sometimes hearts–especially pure ones like Edella’s–needed a little guidance.
And maybe he missed his sister. Though she had always been the one giving him advice.
Briac settled back against a tree trunk and stole glances at the girl wondering how to start a conversation. It was so much easier with Bey.
Edella stood straight as she gazed out into the darkness, her ranseur held in one hand, blunt end resting on the ground. She felt like she was missing something without the familiar comfortable weight of her breastplate. She was quieter than she usually tended to be, thoughts dancing around the edge of her worries, afraid to look too close at them. This would be the first true rest they had since everything that had happened in Zenga’s village. Part of the reason she’d been pushing them to keep moving was because she was afraid that when she closed her eyes to sleep, all she would see was that room full of dead children. Righteous fury had led them to immediately go back to deal with Zenga’s father, but now that that had passed and the cold reality of the situation had seeped over her, she wished they had stopped and taken the time to lay them to rest. The idea that they would remain exactly as they had found them, unmourned by anyone except maybe her and Briac, and possibly Bey, made her throat constrict painfully.
Briac reached out towards her, a dark berry resting in the palm of his hand. “You want a berry?” He really wished he was better at this stuff.
Edella blinked over at him, swallowing and pushing away the thoughts, then smiling at him. “Sure,” she said, stepping closer to take the offered berry. “Thank you.” She popped it into her mouth. “Mm, that’s good!” They hadn’t had much opportunity for sweet things while they trudged through the swamps.
A smile made its way across Briac’s scarred face. “I’m glad you like it,” he said. “Nature’s not as good as Ron, I suppose, but she’s damn near close.”
“Imagine what Ron could do with these,” Edella said, thinking of jams and sauces they could put on their food.
“My stomach’s growling just thinking of it,” he replied (and indeed it was.) “My sister used to make these pastries filled with blueberry preserves and a sweet cheese… I should ask Ron if that’s something he can do.”
“Those sound amazing!” Edella said enthusiastically.
He glanced at the girl. “I don’t think I recall where you’re from, Edella.”
She’d been about to ask him more about his sister when he turned the topic to her. “Oh! I’m from Fulton. It’s in Emeron.”
“Family there?” he asked. He remembered vaguely something about an uncle he thought.
Edella smiled and nodded. “My uncle Winston is there. He’s the Marshal for Sir Lazrith.” Which might explain Edella’s in depth knowledge of how nobility seemed to operate.
“An important job,” Briac remarked with a nod. “Did he raise you?”
“From the time I was around seven or so,” Edella said without any hesitation. It wasn’t that she was secretive about her past like Zenga. It was just that usually when she would talk about such things with the members of their party, they didn’t ask, and she found herself more interested in knowing about their lives than going on about herself.
There was a slight frown. “Can I ask what happened to your parents?”
“They were paladins in service to Baron Ravenut,” Edella said. “They were sent on a mission in the Planes of Galmar and were killed. I’m not sure exactly what happened but Uncle Winston says they couldn’t be recovered.” So no resurrection spells for them.
The man’s frown deepened and he looked genuinely sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Edella.”
She gave him a gentle smile. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’m sure they died doing something ridiculously heroic. That’s just how they were.”
Briac couldn’t help himself, he smiled back. Vivienne had been able to do that, get him to smile with just her own smile, even when he didn’t think he could, even when he didn’t want to. “They must be very proud of you,” he said. “Most likely cheering you on next to Vesper’s side as you do your own ridiculously heroic endeavors.” His faith had been wavering these last few months but he remembered how it had felt to truly believe. There was no warmth like it.
Edella’s smile flickered and faded just a bit. It was hard to call yourself heroic when you let – no, not let, but helped – innocent children die. And the reminder of Vesper weighed on her as well. If they were connected to him, which she was becoming increasingly sure of, they had a duty to help him – help all the gods – but what could they even do? These were gods. How presumptuous was it to think you could help them?
“I’m sure they are,” she said, forcing herself to buck up. “Though, this wasn’t exactly the adventure I had in mind when I set out from home!”
Briac cursed himself, sensing he must have said something wrong when the girl’s smile wavered. He was always doing that. “Did you leave a boyfriend behind?” he blurted then. Great, he was doing spectacularly.
Edella’s eyes widened and her face started to heat up, though in the dark maybe Briac wouldn’t see. She let out a nervous laugh. “No, no,” she said, shaking her head, thinking suddenly of when she was thirteen and a Lord had come to visit with his squire in tow. He’d had blonde hair and striking green eyes and she’d felt her stomach get all twisted up any time they made eye contact. But then they’d sparred and, well. It ended like a lot of her spars had. With the other party angry with her and storming off. “Nothing like that.”
Briac raised his eyebrows. “I’m surprised,” he said. It was a lie, of course. The way comments flew over the girl’s head and how Raskin’s desperate attempts at flirting were met with a childlike innocence he was pretty sure she had never had a boyfriend.
He was not wrong. Edella shrugged lightly. “It just hasn’t… really come up.”
Briac eyed her gently. “I think it’s come up, Edella, I’m just not sure you’ve noticed it.”
Edella blinked at him. “What?” she said. “I doubt it.”
“Raskin? Froderick?” He swallowed and added, unsure it was the truth but wouldn’t doubt it, “Bey?”
“Briac, don’t be silly,” Edella said, waving off the idea as ridiculous.
Briac frowned, staring over at her. He really wasn’t a silly kind of guy.
“They’re all just being nice,” Edella said, then thought about Raskin being such a jerk about saving the kids. She was still a little mad at him about that. “Mostly.”
“They’re not just being nice,” Briac insisted. “They’re flirting with you. Raskin, albeit, crudely.”
Edella frowned. “Raskin does that with everyone,” she said, thinking about how he spoke to Delilah, or literally almost any other woman they came across.
Briac gave a quiet snort and looked out over the area. “He flirts with everyone, Dell.” All the while making disgusting, oftentimes sexist, remarks to anyone with ears. And Briac had found himself pulled in the half-orc’s orbit, time and time again, pretending to be someone else, ignoring Raskin’s homophobic comments, all to please and fit in. He really was pathetic, wasn’t he?
The nickname caught her by surprise, and her head tilted as she considered it, then decided she liked it. No one had ever given her a nickname before.
“And he… you know. Spends time with other women,” she said. She wasn’t entirely naive. She didn’t exactly know the specifics, but she understood the basic gist of…. it. “So, I think you’re overthinking it. He’s just being Raskin with me.”
Briac almost laughed, the innocent expression of ‘sex’ adorable, but he didn’t want to make the girl feel like he was making fun of her. He smiled instead and looked back at her. “I think he wants to spend time with you,” he said.
Edella gave him a skeptical look, but glanced over to the bedrolls surrounding the campfire, eyes finding the big lump that was surely Raskin.
“I don’t know, Briac,” she said.
The man followed her gaze—yes, that large lump was most certainly Raskin—and shrugged. “He likes you, that I’m sure of,” he said. “Are his intentions pure? That I have a hard time convincing myself of.” Briac tried in the beginning, helping Raskin to be a little more sensitive, but the more time they spent together the more he was unsure what the half-orc really wanted from Edella.
“I think he’s got a good heart in there,” Edella eventually said. “Sometimes.” Other times he could just be plain mean. And he treated her like she was stupid a lot – like when Froderick had wandered into the swamp on his own and she was worried about him.
“Deep in there,” Briac said and, frowning slightly, added, “I hope so.” Life hadn’t been easy for the half-orc as far as Briac could tell, and it was Raskin who had insisted it was ‘too late’ for the children of Zenga’s village. Did the half-orc think it was too late for himself too?
Edella refused to believe it was too late for anyone who’s heart wasn’t evil. “I want to help him,” she admitted. “I think he needs friends.”
Briac found himself nodding. He himself needed friends too. Things had been better since being forced into this ragtag group, the darkness kept at bay. “I agree,” he said. He flashed a smile at Edella. “He’s got us.”
She grinned at him. “Exactly! I think you’re a good influence, so if we both keep it up maybe he’ll make better choices.”
Briac blinked at her. “You think I’m a good influence?” he asked.
“I don’t need Vesper to tell you have a good heart,” Edella said with a smile. His reaction to Zenga’s father’s betrayal was enough to prove that, even if she hadn’t already known from all the small things she’d seen throughout their travels.
“I like men,” he blurted out.
“Oh!” Edella said, surprised, but also a little unsure exactly what he meant due to the abrupt way he brought up the topic. “Do you mean you like to, um. Spend time with them?”
It was Briac’s turn for heat to crawl up his cheeks. “Yes,” he said and cleared his throat. He had never told anyone except his sister, really. Obviously people knew (no matter how discreet he was about it) but he had never said it out loud.
“Oh, okay,” Edella said, accepting it just like that. She’d grown up sheltered, but in an odd way. Sir Lazrith’s hold was very diverse, and she hadn’t really gotten out that much to see the kinds of struggles that people like Raskin, Shren, or Briac might face. Her Lord was an elf, his right hand a half orc. The court even had a gnome inquisitor. It had never occurred to her that people might see anything wrong with that until she got out into the world and started to witness it. It was, quite frankly, absurd.
“So, wait, did you leave a boyfriend behind?” she asked.
The girl’s easy acceptance of his preferences was… well, Gods, it felt great. But it was also a little surprising. “I wouldn’t call him a boyfriend…” His brow furrowed. “You’re really okay with it?”
Edella frowned. “Why wouldn’t I be?” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you like men or women.”
A small smile crept of his face. “Thank you,” he said with a nod. He wished he could hug the girl but he’d be sure to make it awkward.
“Of course!” she said brightly. “So you have someone you left behind?” she asked. “What about your sister?”
Briac shook his head, his smile fading. “My sister was killed a couple years ago. Really, it was only me and Rolla. My dog,” he said as if he hadn’t brought the dog up a million times before.
“Oh,” Edella said, reaching out to put a gentle hand on Briac’s arm. “I’m sorry.”
“She was a stray before she found me,” he continued. “I’m sure she’ll be able to handle herself without me. Still, I hope she’s all right. I miss her.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Edella agreed. “And hopefully you can get home soon if we can get ourselves unlinked. But… I’m sorry about your sister, too.” It had been what she meant originally.
He knew. But it was hard to talk about Vivienne, he usually only did it when he was several drinks in. So he nodded and changed the subject. “So, yeah, Froderick. What do you think about him?”
“Froderick?” Edella said, dropping her hand from Briac’s arm and smiling. “He’s brilliant. I never realized there was so much to know about magic.”
Noticing the smile on the girl’s face, he pressed on. “Very brilliant,” he agreed. “And he has good intentions as far as I can tell.”
“Good intentions?” Edella said.
“A good soul,” Briac clarified. “He is a bit weird though. But aren’t we all?”
Edella laughed. “I guess that’s true! I think Froderick has a very good heart.” As long as they didn’t let Raskin nudge him too far off track. But she thought after their conversation in the Shires that Froderick seemed to be a bit refreshed in that area.
“He seems a bit sweet on you,” Briac mentioned, glancing at her for her reaction.
Edella flushed again and reached out to gently push his arm. “Briaaaac,” she said. “Come on.”
Briac grinned back at her. “Is that a bad thing?” he pressed.
Now she was looking over at the camp and at Froderick’s tent. She found her free hand playing with the links of her chainmail sleeve. She’d never really thought about it before, was all. In Fulton she hadn’t known a lot of men her age, and now she just, always had bigger things on her mind. “It’s… I just think you’re mistaken,”
“Oooh.” Briac perked up. “You like him!”
“I didn’t say that!” she hissed, smacking at his arm.
The man actually found himself chuckling even through his pain. “Ow, Dell, watch it, you’re small but you hurt.”
“Sorry,” she said, feeling bad. She hadn’t meant to hit him that hard.
“You should be.” But he was grinning as he swung an arm around her neck and pulled him to her playfully, delivering a brotherly kiss to the top of her head. “I’m joking. I like that you’re tough. I bet Froderick does too.
Edella hadn’t ever had a brother so it was strange but not in a bad way. “I don’t know about that,” she said, sounding legitimately doubtful.
“No? Why wouldn’t he?” Briac asked, letting the girl go.
“I don’t think a lot of men appreciate tough women,” Edella said hesitantly.
“That’s absurd,” Briac said. “Look at our group. Without the women we’d be dead.”
“Maybe in a group like this it’s different,” Edella said.
“But as a girlfriend you don’t think he’d be interested?” Briac asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“There’s really only one way to find out,” he said.
Edella just smiled. “I think we’ve got bigger things to worry about right now,” she said.
Briac nodded. “I suppose that’s true,” he said and looked out into the night, growing a little more solemn. “Still… we see such horrible things, sometimes it’s just nice to love and be loved in return.”
“Mm,” Edella agreed. “Well, I love you all either way.”
The comment drew his eyes to the girl. “You really are something else, you know that?” What he wouldn’t give for her optimism and love of the world.
“I don’t know about that,” she said, but she smiled at him anyway.
“That said,” he continued, realizing he’d probably ruin the moment but saying it anyway, “sex is fun and if it’s with someone you care about it’s even better.”
“Briac!” Edella said, flushing.
Froderick could probably do a whole light show as foreplay. Edella would probably enjoy that. Briac gave her a small smile. “Sorry… anyway, I’d start with kissing first.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Edella said, shaking her head.
“Do you think Froderick’s a good kisser?” he asked even though his mind found itself on Bey instead.
“I have no idea!” Edella said shifting from foot to foot, uncomfortable. She was pretty sure Froderick had at least kissed someone before. Raskin clearly had. Probably everyone in the group had except her, if she didn’t count that one awkward peck she’d given a stable boy when she was eight and she didn’t count that, thank you. “Can we talk about something else?”
He hid a smile and nodded. “All right, what would like to talk about instead?”
“Have you ever been to Emeron City?” she asked, grabbing onto the first subject change that came to mind.
The man shook his head. “I’d never even been outside the duchy I grew up in before I joined up with you all,” he admitted.
“Me neither,” Edella admitted. “I was on my way to the city when I ended up with everyone.”
Briac was about to ask Edella why she had been going to Emeron City when he heard a sound and both of them snapped to attention. Something or someone was approaching the camp…
DM’s Notes: Awwwww….
This is another RP exchange that Briac and Edella’s player’s shared with me. I love seeing the internal monologue of these characters and what they think about each other (but probably wouldn’t say) as well as their internal takes on how the adventures are affecting them. I’ve got some top notch roleplayers in my group, no doubt about it. And hey, if the PC’s want to explore their character’s relationships who am I to get in the way. Trust me, it makes great roleplay if/when one of them dies!