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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

by Aerana » April 1st, 2015, 6:39 pm

Aerana sat on the stone bench, staring out over the placid lake to the darker dots that marked the memorials on the far shore. The lingering warmth of the day delayed the inevitable cooling of the night air but Aerana nevertheless wrapped her arms around her, thankful she wore a long-sleeved gown. The leaves and flowers of the beautifully cultivated garden behind the Cathedral rustled quietly, tickled by an errant evening breeze. Aerana's gaze drifted from the solemn monuments of the graveyard to the glassy surface of the water, which glowed with the reflected light of the moon.

She sat alone now, though her shoulder was still damp from Skylah Mackinzie's tears. Looking away from the lake, Aerana’s attention drifted to the empty bench next to her. For a passing moment, she marveled that Skylah had actually sought her out, sitting next to her and confiding in her as a friend. She could not recall the last time, if ever, that someone had cried on her shoulder. Even after all that had happened, all the wounds that, though bandaged, were still fresh...

Aerana sighed softly and, ever mindful of the many gentle reproaches she had received over the weeks, turned her thoughts away from those morose musings. It would not be long until one of those formerly known as Guardians came to fetch her when they found she had not yet retired to her residence. She had no doubt that they would readily recognize her troubled visage and the last thing she wished to do was cause them any further unnecessary concern.

Ever since the procedure, they had treated Aerana as if she was perilously fragile and liable to break at any moment. Indeed, upon waking, Aerana could sense the undertones of anxious fear that pervaded the room and the sudden flare of concern at each of her missteps. Although Aerana recalled nothing of what transpired, she had been told that the procedure had been a harrowing experience and that there were times she almost slipped beyond the reach of the healers. It seemed surreal to her that she had come so close to death without ever being aware of her predicament. It had taken many days before those around her stopped treating her as if she were brittle and frail and the faintest of breezes would shatter her.

Even now, after her return to Stormwind, they often gathered by her side -- less as protectors and more as beloved friends determined to ensure that Aerana remained true to the regime mandated by Brother Neal. They cared for her better than she cared for herself, she admitted. And they were not the only ones who evinced such concern.

Aerana smiled fondly, tilting her head to the side as she regarded the waters of the lake, her thoughts wandering in and out of the various conversations she had participated in during her recovery. Despite the discomfort evident in the initiation of the conversations, they invariably ended on a surprisingly pleasant, if pensively thoughtful, note. She had conversed with so many, speaking of abstract, philosophical matters that touched upon the recent troubles in the Empire. It was painful, yes, but Aerana believed that healing came with each word spoken.

First, while she still recuperating within the Abbey, Donnelly had visited. The timbre of their conversation had been harsh and stilted at times, fraught with evidence of their recent troubles and the emotional wounds inflicted on one another. Yet beneath the words…remained a deep and abiding sense of care. The gruff Senator had spoken of wounds that, though scarring, would not always fester as they did now. Their conversation had been uncomfortable given all that had happened between them; but, strangely, it had also been reminiscent of the early days when Aerana had returned to the Empire and Donnelly stood by her side as a solicitous, if stern, father figure. His words and actions, Aerana knew, had given her the resolve necessary emerge from the protective cocoon of the Abbey. And so she had returned to Stormwind.

With Stormwind came other interactions — as if her return heralded that recovery had progressed enough for more frequent visitors. Days ago, Rednaxela had stood next to that far bench, his words tinged with nostalgia as they beckoned her thoughts back to the early days of the Empire. They had spoken, hesitantly at first. That tentativeness was soon replaced with small smiles as they shared memories of those times, laughing quietly but genuinely at their first adventures and the warm bonds of the Empire. Those days were more innocent than the current times; they had been little more than a group of political idealists, gathering in the forest and passing the time in philosophical inquiries of possible ways to transform their ideals into reality.

The Order of the Forsaken had changed that and had introduced vigilance and wariness into their lives – a lesson reflected in the current structure of the Empire. Aerana shook her head, not willing to dwell upon those dark days. Too many hours had already been spent obsessing over the lives lost and decisions made. For too long had she allowed those lessons to mandate her, and the Empire’s, subsequent actions.

Instead, Aerana focused on the open-ended discussions with others in the Empire – Myaka, Xandric, Aryanna, Tarashan, Dracila, Ezraeil, Nalaani, Autumn, Julianaz, Resileaf, Harlous and Skylah. At various times over the intervening days, the little group would gather around and speak on whatever topic happened to pique their varying interests. Aerana took comfort in the gatherings, despite the somewhat obscure nature of their conversations.

It was, perhaps, that comfort that had allowed her to speak so openly with Pralea, to accept the nature of her words -- the honest and blunt assessment of what had happened and the genuine frustration at not being able to change the tumultuous trajectory.

"I feel like we were too wrapped up in our work to be of any good, that we're losing touch with the people we're rallying... Not that getting our jobs done isn't important, but, how can we lead people who we barely know? I mean... I guess it's fine for a damned army, but, our mission is entirely different, isn't it? How can we call ourselves leaders and look for something like peace between two warring factions when we don't even know our own people, Aerana?"

In her own way, Pralea had articulated the vague and abstract unease that had preoccupied Aerana for weeks. Aerana’s examination of the issue focused on the broad and over-arching concerns. Yet to have them named so clearly, and to be asked such a forthright question, had spurred further discussions. And…

Aerana looked towards the nearby tree, where only hours before, Tinox had stood. Awkwardly, but sincerely, they navigated the perilous path of discussing what had happened and the choices each of them had made. The conversation deepened her understanding of the gnome whose reputation for logic and administration many found intimidating. Yet, his admission that he was troubled reinforced her belief that such difficult conversations were necessary. And indeed, when pressed for concrete statements arising from earlier nebulous discussions, Aerana had struggled to answer.

"It would be like asking a carpenter to build a chair that promoted companionship," he had stated evenly.

"Perhaps," she had agreed slowly, deep in thought. "And yet, are there not ways to do so? Rather than a chair, I would request a curved bench, so that people might sit next to one another and converse easily. I would ask that it be padded and comfortable, so as to invite those who pass by to rest for a moment. Such would support and facilitate this goal we spoke of more than a throne placed alone on the dais above the throng. The analogy is not perfect, yet it could serve as a starting point for such a discussion."

She smiled faintly now at the thought — a chair to promote friendship. Unbidden, the image of Katelle came to her mind, staring at her solemnly. More than the others, and deservedly so, Katelle held her accountable for the actions taken. Yet the tender care shown during the conversation had soothed her mind and reminded her that, despite all that had occurred, their ties would endure. Such bonds may have changed; but they would endure and, perhaps even grow stronger for the pain shared.

Aerana pressed her lips together as a sense of conviction welled up inside her. Though many conversations had been viewed through the lens of her personal relationships, their essence could be applied to the Empire as a whole. The Empire was not the same as other organizations – it was neither a country, to be controlled by a strong central government nor was it a paramilitary group, relying solely on a strict hierarchy to survive. It was…something different. And, just as many within the Empire had been touched by recent events and forced to confront difficult questions, so too must the Empire as a collective face the future while remembering the past.

With renewed energy, Aerana stood up from the lonely stone bench despite the soreness of her weakened muscles. She looked in the direction of the harbor, towards her home.

She would need parchment. And a quill.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

by Aerana » April 24th, 2015, 8:05 pm

Aerana eased herself onto the couch, sighing quietly as she rested her weight against the welcome softness of the cushions. The recommended exercises had grown easier over the weeks and the soreness permeating her muscles had lessened as her body acclimated itself to the rigors of daily life. Even so, the sharp aches pointedly reminded her that she had not yet completely recovered her former level of functioning. Slowly, she curled her legs up to her chest, stretching her leg muscles, and rested her chin atop her knee. Her arms encircled her legs and, turning her hand upward, she unfolded her fingers to stare pensively at the object cradled in her palm. Despite the relative darkness of her chambers, the moonlight provided enough illumination to see the smooth, opaque white stone.

Beyond its polished gleam that reflected the moon’s light, the stone seemed relatively ordinary. Yet Aerana was well acquainted with the combination of magic, enchantment, and engineering that went into the careful and precise crafting of this stone and others like it. All within the Empire possessed similar stones, which facilitated communication across vast distances. The process had gone through many iterations over the years, as Tinox Smartgear took her original work and refined it. Aerana knew that security measures had been grafted into the guild-wide network of stones during Tinox's meticulous fine-tuning, to prevent unwanted incursions into the Empire’s communications.

“So then why…?” Aerana whispered thoughtfully, her voice trailing off as she traced a fingertip along the stone’s surface. She pressed her lips together, thinking over the previous couple of hours, as if hoping to divine an answer merely by reviewing her actions.

She had been staring out the large westward-facing window a few hours ago, watching as the last sliver of the sun dipped beneath the watery horizon of Stormwind Harbor. Her thoughts had been distant, ruminating over a recent meeting with the individuals comprising the upper echelons of the Empire. The focus of the meeting had been the petition she had drafted and submitted, along with the subsequent letters from other members of the Empire. Even as the last rays of sunlight slipped beneath the ocean’s edge, she had been envisioning the stone tower in which the leadership met, remembering the words and expressions of those gathered with her.

The meeting had been difficult, she had reluctantly admitted to herself. Her relationship with the Senate was still noticeably strained and she was painfully aware of the occasional awkwardness or hesitation where once her title would have been spoken. Although she had always often avowed that she was not born with a mantle of authority, she had worn her title for long enough that she felt its absence keenly. Yet, her resolve to step down had not wavered and she still believed that it had been the correct choice — both for the Empire and for herself. Even so, it had been difficult for her to stand mute in the awkward silences and not speak up to clarify the agenda or coordinate speakers, carefully directing the flow of the meeting. It was no longer her place to do so and she did not want to act with authority when she had eschewed its grant of power. And so she had stood patiently, thoughtfully answering questions and providing her insights when such were solicited.

But, in staring out the window towards the ocean, her thoughts had drifted beyond the proposed changes to be wrought within the Empire; instead, she recalled her visceral wariness and discomfort that had arisen during the course of the conversation.

Katelle had been standing some distance to Aerana's right, flanked by Zakarnas’ imposing figure. Both members of the Military branch wore the Empire's tabard and Katelle had been describing of some of the perceived problems in the Empire. That was when Donnelly, standing across the circle, had spoken up.

“Most of the Empire's recent problems can be traced to one common denominator,” he said, his voice gravelly and gruff. “But I am not interested in pointing fingers. That issue has been resolved.”

Within the safety of her own chambers, Aerana wondered briefly if she had flinched at the Senator’s words. She had no expectation of forgiveness nor reconciliation for all that had occurred; yet neither was she as tranquil and accepting as she knew would be necessary to face such barbed words.

“It has?” Skylah Mackinzie had asked, settling her gaze on Senator. Other eyes in the room were similarly drawn to Donnelly.

Aerana had pressed her lips together and swallowed whatever retort she had that threatened to derail the meeting. Donnelly had turned his head to look at Aerana and then directed his attention back to Skylah with a smile. "It has."

Aerana knew that she had tightened the grip of her hands, stilling any nervous reaction, and had remained silent. Subsuming the rather tattered, but still present, remains of her pride in favor of pursuing more tactful and pertinent topics had been difficult.

“I'd say there have been problems that don't have anything to do with Aerana,” Katelle had stated evenly, breaking up the awkward silence. Aerana had been grateful for the blond woman’s words and the gratitude likely showed in the softening of the mage's features.

Pralea, standing across the circle from Aerana, had sighed, closing her eyes. “While that did provide us with some bumps, I... feel like it exposed some underlying issues."

“Agreed,” Skylah chimed in. "Perhaps we do not need to state all of the issues, but acknowledge that because of them that this is the best time for change. We cannot proclaim that everything was caused by Aerana's illness, which as you said, has been healed.”

Aryanna, standing next to Skylah, had nodded, “I agree with that assessment as well.”

Katelle added, “Before recent events -and- after.”

Tinox, silent throughout the minor tangential discussion, pinched the bridge of his nose.

Donnelly had looked around at each speaker before continuing, “With all the talking I might have missed if someone stated the problems. Please be brief in explaining them.”

The eyes in the room turned to Katelle, who returned to explaining the issues that had been highlighted in the petition and subsequent feedback from the Empire.

Perhaps it had been the reminiscing of Donnelly’s words that had turned Aerana's thoughts to the Light and the scope of its allowance for mistakes. Analogies and rhetorical questions had bubbled forth to the forefront of her mind, as the setting sun melded light and dark together. Indeed, perhaps it had been those vague and unformulated considerations only hours earlier that had called, or responded to, the thoughts of the other.

Sighing again as she looked down at the guild stone, Aerana couldn’t recall quite how the conversation had begun, nor who had initiated it. Philosophical and ideological meanderings were nothing new. And, as troubling as it was to admit now, neither were the occasional voices that had, up until the Medical Corps’ procedure, responded to such musings. The corners of her lips turned down as she tapped a fingernail against the guild stone. Such a lack of guardedness was unusual, but perhaps her familiarity with the occurrence had forestalled her alarm at first.

Regardless of how the conversation had begun, she had suddenly found herself posing inquisitive and analytical questions to the voice belonging to man who displayed a familiarity with both reasonableness and the Light. His voice had emanated over the stone now in her hands, positing hypothetical scenarios and questions of his own that she endeavored to adequately answer. The conversation had proceeded easily, as if the two were accustomed to late night moral and theoretical exchanges. His position and stance had complemented her thoughts well, delving into nuanced questions of the Light and skipping across broader topics of race relations, politics, and compassion. Their tone remained ever polite and respectful, even when exploring the chasms of disagreements that separated their respective positions. It was obvious to Aerana that her counterpart shared an affinity for the teachings of the Light, yet it was just as apparent that their personal beliefs had pushed them to different conclusions. Like her own thoughts, their conversation morphed and meandered easily. Indeed, it was not until she had noticed the path of the moon that she realized the lateness of the hour. And it was only at that time, when they were beginning to bid farewell, that both speakers to realize that they had been remiss in introductions. Social niceties were, after all, easy to overlook when thoughtful discussion dictated the course of the conversation. That oversight was soon remedied.

Stepanos DelaCroix. He was not even of the Empire, and yet somehow the communications network had allowed for the two of them to speak unintentionally. Aerana stared hard at the guildstone, as if to read some sort of explanation in its glossy surface. It was, perhaps, something that she should speak to Tinox about, she realized, running her thumb along the stone’s smoothed edge. She would seek him out before the next meeting — yet another step in the leadership’s decision-making process. Indeed, given that she no longer represented the Empire in an official capacity, it was important to convey Stepanos’ diplomatic overtures to the appropriate diplomatic personnel.

Aerana lowered her hand to her side, glancing around the darkened room. The tea cup next to her no longer steamed — a reminder of both the lateness of the hour and the thoughtfulness of those who still diligently looked after her since leaving the Northshire Abbey. Aerana shook her head and reached for the cooled tea. It would be a disservice to the trust placed in her to return to her old habits of foregoing sleep in favor of unnecessary musings. She sipped the tepid liquid, smiling faintly at the familiar and comforting taste before standing up to make her way to the bedroom.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

by vinosh » August 7th, 2019, 1:24 am


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