He seemed to take a moment to look at her. He might have let out a breath, but the wind masked it. “I understand yer a survivor,” he said. “In some way, at least.”
“A survivor,” she repeated. How ironic to be lauded for the very thing she struggled so fruitlessly against. “Is that why I fascinate you?” she asked.
Tirien sighed and looked over to the mountains surrounding the city, contemplative. “I ain’t gonna bother askin’ questions I can’t answer,” he said.
She considered that. “Why would you be answering, unless you were asking yourself the questions?”
He nodded. “Ain’t that a cuhnundrum?” Leaning forward, he rested his chin in his hand. “The more I meet with you, the more it makes me think, is all.”
That, she could understand. “So, I am a symbol to yet another. A figure.” Someone to look down on... someone to hate... an enemy; a monster. Always, just an embodiment of whatever they wanted to see.
But he wasn’t put off. “Naw. Yer just another person like anybody else.”
The sincerity of his words surprised her into silence. There wasn’t any... defensiveness in his tone. He went on.
“Ya just got way too much crap on yer shoulders right now,” he said.
“Right now,” she echoed. As if any moment in her life had ever been bearable.
“Yeah. Th’ present’s what matters most. Ya know, ‘cuz yer here.”
She tilted her head slightly, not responding. He grew awkward.
“Uh... er somethin’... Nevermind.”
He should not have come to her. She’d thought the first time that maybe he had a death wish, and had been willing to fulfill it for him. But that had evidently been wrong. So why approach her again? “Do you not feel fear?” she asked.
The rogue rubbed a hand over the bottom half of his face. “Used t’ it by now,” he said, then added, “Also, I mean, it was one Fel of a climb up here, y’ know? So hey. Once the adrenaline’s gone maybe I’ll panic. Doubt it though.”
She hadn’t been asking him about the heights, but it didn’t matter. His words made her consider the path that she had traveled that had brought her here, to this very spot, contemplating a fall that would take her nowhere. In a way... “It was more like a fall,” she murmured, that had brought her to this point.
“Pff what?” he said. “Yer tellin’ me ya just... wound up here? On the top’a th’ King’s castle?” He glanced upward, to the sky. “Why the shit ain’t the Riders spotted us yet...”
Was it the castle she stood on? She hadn’t even been paying attention. Still, she knew better than to plead a complete lack of culpability in where her life had gone. “I made choices,” she said, “but I never knew they weren’t the right ones.”
Oh, she’d known when they were morally wrong. But she hadn’t known they would only damn her further. But yet again, the distinction wasn’t worth the effort it would take to make. Those words were as much as she could muster.
“Yeah well. Yer still alive, so maybe they weren’t so bad after all?” he suggested.
He didn’t understand at all. “If you value life,” Vionora said simply.
“Woah, woah, woah-hoooho.” He waved his hands in front of him in a ‘slow down’ fashion. “If yer plannin’ t’ jump, I ain’t gonna talk ya out’a it. Not here fer that, so, I mean, if ya wanna do it, wait till I leave?”
“Even if I die, it won’t be over, now.” Why this urge to explain to him persisted, she didn’t know, but it kept making her say things. She didn’t look at him.
“Now how do ya figure that?” he asked.
“Because the warlock bound my soul,” she said.
There were various warlocks entangled with the Eclipse now; but there was only one who threatened her, as a flame threatens a moth. Absently, Vionora passed a hand over her midriff, trying to find the invisible tether she could feel on her soul but not in reality. It was like a manacle, holding her where she did not want to be.
Tirien was overcome by silence. Eventually, he spoke. “That fuckin’ sucks. Pardon my language.”