Cerin Though she doesn't yet know it, the activities and day-to-day life (and three seperate stashes of notes she keeps on the comings and goings of the kingdom) have been of considerable interest to Cerin over the past few days as he has examined the life and times of Telani of Torjai. Though it is possible, he conceeds, that she has some knowledge of what is going on. He has taken great pains to leave some small traces of his presence, (...)
Cerin although there is always the chance that he did not leave enough to make her supicious. Still, this morning, as she walks out to the high field, she will most definitely know something is happening. After all, the evidence he has left all points to this. It's currently around half an hour before dawn, which means that soon she'll be rounding the corner of the path...
Telani walks along the path warily. Cerin, of course, is immediately clear on the preparations she's taken: the knife in her sleeve, the stack of barrels she's set up to fall over loudly at the tug of an easily available rope, the rope traps slightly to the left and right of the path...
Telani She glances from side to side carefully as she advances, all while attempting -- relatively effectively -- to avoid looking like she's doing so.
Cerin Her paranoia pays dividends. After all, a less alert person might have missed the small black card which appeared in a knot of the tree to the right of the path.
Telani "...dammit." She hesitates for a moment, then reaches over to pick up the card and gives it a quick read.
Cerin The card is blank.
Telani suddenly is gripped with an abject terror. That is probably the last thing she expected. (...)
Telani She flicks the knife out to her hand with a (relatively) practiced motion, then breaks into a run towards the barn.
Cerin is sitting calmly on a bale of hay, dressed in pools of black ribbons. His helmet is off.
Cerin He has a small smile on his face, and is doing his best to look shifty.
Telani skids to a stop and holds the knife out in front of her in an unconvincing attempt to appear threatening. "I... I knew it!" she says.
Cerin "Oh?", he says, with a raised eyebrow, dropping the shifty impression.
Telani "You're just some... psychopath who gets his kicks running around disappearing people! You saw me at the festival, and... and.. here you are out of SPITE!" She waves the knife around a bit.
Cerin "I can assure you I get my kicks out of far more than that," he says simply. "What do you think you have done to motivate me to spite though?"
Cerin raises his eyebrow in a vaguely questioning manner.
Telani "You probably have some kind of... super hearing or something! And you can move fast! You probably listened to that whole conversation I had in the tavern, right before you grabbed that trader and..." Suddenly, Telani's facial expression changes as something that was bothering her seems to click together... and her eyes grow extra-wide.
Cerin "... and?" He allows himself a small grin.
Telani "...the whole thing was a setup!" Her eyes are practically bulging out of her head. "You people are insane! Why were you spying on us? We're the people you're supposed to be protecting!"
Telani 's fear seems to have given way to irritation at this stage.
Cerin "It wasn't a setup," he assures her. Just some talented improvisation
Telani is definitely a little confused that Cerin is just sitting there. "That doesn't answer my question."
Cerin "Well, suppose that the Empress of the Sunlands, Zahara Zhan, walks up to you in the street and asks what you think of her rule. What would your answer be?"
Telani swallows again. "Oh no."
Cerin "That," he says with a soft smile. "Doesn't answer my question."
Telani looks at him for a moment before deciding that clearly the knife isn't going to accomplish anything, dropping it to the ground, and answering much more quietly: "That obviously everything was as perfect as imaginable, and could I please have another?"
Cerin "And how useful do you think an answer like that is for running a country?"
Telani "Not... very."
Cerin "So, has that answered your question?"
Telani is getting increasingly agitated again as Cerin sits there without doing anything else. "...yes. But." She looks around for the men in black she is certain must be sneaking through the wheat as they speak. "It does not tell me why you are here now."
Cerin Silly Telani, the man in black is sitting right there. "No," he agrees equably. "It does not."
Telani finds herself surprised at how annoyed that answer actually makes her. "So why are you here?"
Cerin "Suppose, for the moment, that if I thought I had to tell you that, I would not be here."
Telani 's voice gets even, almost monotone, for a moment. "Then... maybe I would have thought I'd be better off if you weren't here." She pauses. "Maybe."
Cerin 's face settles into his best and most encouraging, 'please continue' set
Telani looks around one more time, then, thinking, pulls out the card that she has carefully kept since that earlier encounter. "'Careful what you wish for,' huh.'
Cerin smiles. "So, what do you think a blank card means?"
Telani copies the shifty look that Cerin made earlier. "Before I answer, I need you to tell me." She thinks for a moment. "What did Ejos steal?"
Cerin "Little things mostly, which is not something I concern myself with in general. For example, the pendant from your sister, which you were convinced you had lost, but found again shortly after he vanished." He says. "What got him vanished was his part in the plan to steal several of the artifacts from the school in Tenedral."
Telani raises both eyebrows in astonishment. She was definitely a big supporter of the schools. (...)
Telani After a moment's consideration, Telani takes the blank card back out. She looks at it for a moment, and then -- with a pencil produced from her other sleeve -- quickly jots a note on it and hands it back to Cerin.
Cerin does her the courtesy of appearing to read it, despite the fact he already has.
Telani In a neat, thin script, Telani has written: "I accept."
Cerin nods. "I had high hopes you would." (...)
Cerin He appears to consider things. "Now, would you like to vanish before or after you sort out the pigs for the day?"
Telani grins. "Let Rhoda deal with them."
Cerin grins in return. "It is surprising how many people give that answer," he says, his voice evincing no surprise at all. He stands from his seat on the hay, the ribbons which had lain quiessant rising up around him.