Arora's Muddled Musings

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Understanding (SPOILERS: Ep 72)

Postby Cailin » July 25th, 2011, 2:08 pm

Victor closes the door behind him without another word. Wrenn’s pointed comments seem to have gotten under his skin, from what Arora can sense. She shakes her head slowly, and makes her way to follow him. She can feel Deomin’s unease prickling in the back of her mind, simmering in the background ever since his ordeal with the illithid. Even after all these years, she’s still not sure how to help his healing, or if its even possible... but Arora will never give up on him.

She emerges on the deck of Thunderstrike and takes a moment to observe the psion peering over the side of the ship.

He’s not so different from them. She understands what its like to be driven by a question, to be haunted by dark dreams. Part of her knows that she’s forming attachments again, sudden and steadfast despite everything... a flicker of Arath’s face flashes in her mind like the spark from a forge. Klethen has told her to be more careful more than once. He begs her to consider her alliances more carefully now that she’s queen.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you, if Seldi lost you.”

Arora bows her head under the weight of the memory. The crown suddenly feels heavier than before. That whole-hearted trust... it’s not something she can give up so easily, not even for Klethen. She raises her eyes to peer once more at the man staring into the abyss.

We all come from broken pasts...

For an instant she sees the angry child again, thrown out into the world, grieving in the rain... she looks at him with soft eyes and pity hidden in her heart. There’s so much more to this man than the prickly drunkard and the arrogant savant he allows the world to see. Perhaps that hope is what drives her to argue his case to the others, though she uses more practical words and diplomatic statements to gain their favor.

Victor turns to her with an absolutely unreadable expression. She can’t tell whether he’s angry, apathetic or exhausted.

She offers her hand.

Stay with us, let us help you.

He shrugs and nods, but Arora’s outstretched hand remains empty.
Cailin
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Ensared (SPOILERS: Ep77)

Postby Cailin » July 31st, 2011, 1:46 am

Arora is so focused on protecting Deomin that she doesn’t notice the mental assault until it’s too late. She whirls around as pain lances through her mind, causing her divine light to sputter as it retreats inward. Arora staggers forward, suddenly thrown off balance as something shoves her consciousness aside. Her eyes turn towards Deomin once more, but not by her own voliton.

No!

She struggles against her own body. Her trembling hands swing her dim hammer clumsily down at her ally who parries the blow with a look of shock. The howling in her mind is maddening, tearing through her like the wind whipping through a canyon. Bahamut's divine light manages to cocoon her mind, shielding it from the full force of the attack. But it leaves her no room to move, no way to push forward. Trapped by her own shield can only remain frozen, watching as she brings the hammer down again and again as Deomin spins nimbly out of the way.

All they want is the sword! Just give it to them!

She’s not sure if the thought is hers or theirs, but for a moment she agrees completely. No weapon is worth their lives. This time the hammer whips around to snag at Deomin’s cloak with the pick end. Whatever has her ensnared is getting better at using her, it seems. Arora redoubles her efforts to break free as the pale silver light blooms around her.

The numb chill of Death begins to seep from every corner of the room, and Arora knows in an instant that their situation has just gone from dangerous to dire.

She won’t die a slave in her own body, though. She’ll die a free soul, with her hammer in her hand and divine light in her eyes.

After all, that’s what the prophecy foretold.
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The Hobblegleetch

Postby Cailin » August 5th, 2011, 1:00 pm

“Mooom... I’m borrrrred...”

Seldi slumped in the high-backed chair with her legs and arms dangling off each side, languishing in increasingly dramatic poses. Arora turned from the forge and smiled. “I’m sure Shop could use some help with the vegetable garden?”

Seldi scrunched her nose.

“Then perhaps you could see if anything needs doing on the ship. I’m sure the kitchen could use a good scrubbing...”

“Mom! That’s work!” Seldi gave an exasperated snort as her mother grinned quietly. Her mother could be so dumb sometimes.

“Well... then maybe you could find the Hobblegleetch for me.”

At this, Seldi’s eyes sparkled with intrique. “What’s a Hobblegleetch?!”

“Oh, it’s a terrible creature that keeps getting into Brandis’ garden and eating all his roots. He asked me to take care of it but I’m far too busy with the forge.”

Seldi was now standing on tip-toe to peer out the forge window at Brandis’ estate on the other side of the field. “What’s it look like?”

Arora paused. “What do you think it looks like?”

“Big! No. Small. Small so that no one can see it sneaking into the garden. Like a fox or weasel.”

“Yes, it’s a bit like a weasel. Only with...”

“Big sharp teeth!”

Arora nodded. “For the roots?”

Seldi leaped up with excitement. “Yeah! And I’ll bet it has super sharp claws for digging too!”

“Oh certainly. But you’ll have to be very sneaky to find one. They are quite good at hiding.”

The little girl rolled her eyes. “I’ll make a trap for it!”

Arora tousled her daughter’s hair affectionately. “That’s my girl.”

Later that day Shop arrived looking rather agitated. The poor man was tugging at his collar looking rather nervous as Arora put down the rod of winter steel she had been working with.

“What’s wrong, Shop?”

“Beg your pardon, your Highness, but have you seen anything strange in the garden recently?”

At this, Arora raised an eyebrow. “No... I cannot say that I have. Why?”

Shop shifted uncomfortably. “All our Glassroot crop is gone. Something dug it all up this afternoon.”

“The Hobblegleetch...” Arora muttered with a chuckle.

The man looked confused. “Pardon?”

“Oh, nothing... I’ll keep an eye out for it.”

“Many thanks, your Majesty.”

No matter how many times she asked him, Shop still wouldn’t drop the honorifics. She shrugged and headed out into the grove of dense trees beyond the forge and the cemetery.

There she found a box propped up by a stick, under which was a large pile of translucent fat-bulbed Glassroot plants. A length of string tied to the stick wound its way behind the a large tree into a swath of dense bushes. Arora sighed.

Seldi spent the rest of the day replanting Glassroot with a ferocious sort of intensity, loudly proclaiming that if her mother hadn’t ruined everything she would have caught the Hobblegleetch and put an end to the whole affair right then.

Truly, the Hobblegleetch was a menace.
Cailin
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The Report (Spoilers: Episode 80)

Postby Cailin » August 31st, 2011, 10:42 pm

“So... did you find time to read the report regarding the Ulgarthan A.R.S.?”

Arora looked up quickly as Oseno, the Arbiter of Secrets, slunk into the room wearing his usual cat-like smile. She shrugged, gesturing to the pile of papers lining her desk.

“No... not yet. Something about the Plains of Purple Dust?”

Oseno nodded as he pointed to a folder near the top of the stack. “Quite an interesting read, I assure you.”

“Mmhm.” Arora turned back to her trade documents.

“Fascinating, even.” Oseno began casting glances about Arora’s office with a casual air of impending mischief.

For her part, Arora could not imagine why Oseno was lingering at her desk when she had so clearly dismissed him. She sighed quietly, peering up at the Arbiter who looked back at her with a grin.

“Do you know who was on that particular mission, your Highness?”

Arora cocked an eyebrow, glancing once more at the thick file. “...no...”

Oseno cast his gaze to the ceiling, as if he suddenly found something interesting in the rafters. “Nothing particularly special on paper; ruffians, mostly. A dragonborn, an eldadrin, and a pair of dwarves.”

“And?”

“Oh yes, their names... their names... let’s see...” He tapped his chin thoughtfully with one long finger.

“Oseno...”

“My lady please, there was one in particular oh what was the name!”

“I don’t have time for this. I’ll see you at dinner.” Arora turned back to her notes in a huff.

“Oh! I remember now!” Oseno purred as he made his way towards the door.

“Oseno I said-”

Malgren.”

Arora felt the blood draining from her cheeks. “Pardon?”

Oseno turned back to her with a knowing look. “Forgive me my lady, I can see I’ve disrupted your work too much already.” He turned to leave but was halted by the sudden crushing grip of Arora’s hand on his wrist.

“Did you say Malgren? As in ‘Malgren the Caskdrainer’?”

Oseno smiled. “I believe that was a nickname of his, yes. Why? Do you perhaps... know that gentleman? Perhaps sometime in your past?”

Arora’s grip tightened. “Who I may or may not have known during a particularly unpleasant time in my life is none of your business.”

Oseno shot her a look of feigned grief. “But knowing is my only business!” He leaned down next to her with a conspiratorial smirk. “And I happen to know a great deal.”

The dwarf’s cheeks erupted in a deep blush, Arora felt her face grow hot as she scowled up at Oseno’s placid smile.

“Whatever you think you know... you will keep to yourself. Are we clear?”

Oseno nodded, carefully pulling his arm out of her grip. “Clear as Ulgarthian glass, your Highness.”

“And if I hear you talking about me and Malgren again...”

“You’ll kill me... naturally.” Oseno winked. “And off the record, I don’t think anyone would believe me anyway. I would have never thought he was your type.”

Oseno wisely slipped out of the door quickly before the inkwell struck the wall, and began humming softly to himself as he strode down the hall.

Back in the office, Arora's forehead clunked against the desk with a thud.

"Goddamnit."
Cailin
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Pomp and Ceremony (Spoilers: Episode 81)

Postby Cailin » September 14th, 2011, 6:31 pm

Most diplomatic meetings were steeped in pomp and ceremony, and while Arora wasn’t particularly adverse to such things meeting with the Acting King of the People’s Republic of High Imaskar was a pleasant change of pace.

“Ah, if it isn’t the most beautiful dwarven queen in all the Shining Lands!” Cucio stood as Arora was escorted into the study. She smirked, giving his hand a firm shake.

“I see you’re exceedingly charming as ever, Cucio.”

He made a mock-bow before reassuming his seat by the fire. “I have to say, it’s a pleasure to be called by my actual name once in a while. If I never invited you to visit, I don’t think anyone ever would.” The Bard-King’s eyes softened thoughtfully as he stared into the flame. “But that’s just me, of course. You? You’ve taken to ruling like a duck to water, if you don’t mind my saying so.”

Arora chuckled, taking a slow sip of ale from her goblet. “Do I make it seem easy?” She shook her head, looking down into the foamy amber drink. “I’m just doing the best I can.”

Cucio smiled. “Royal modesty, is it? So be it.” He reached over to a stack of papers, handing Arora a small manuscript bound in leather. She took it with a raised eyebrow, running her eyes over the title with a smirk.

“Thunderstrike: Memoirs of a Mad Mage.” Arora shot Cucio a pained look. “Oh Cucio... tell me you didn’t.”

“The first play was such a success, I couldn’t stop myself!” Cucio grinned as Arora flipped through the pages.

“ ‘You waste your final breaths begging for your life, Lurd, for I shall bring the mighty Justice of Bahamut down upon your head!’ by the stars, Cucio this is...” Arora sighed, looking back at the bard. “Why do you insist on writing me like this?”

Cucio shrugged. “That’s what you sound like.”

Arora snorted. “I most certainly do not.”

“See! Like that! ‘I most certainly do not!’ said Arora, high Justiciar of Bahamut!”

The dwarf rolled her eyes. “You’re taking liberties.”

He smiled, swirling the drink in it’s mug. “Maybe.” Cucio took another swig of ale, shooting Arora a sideways glance. “But it’s what the public expects. A shining paladin of righteous nobility, sacrificing everything for the good of all.”

“They might expect something more realistic if you didn’t keep publishing such things, you know.”

The King nodded. “In the interest of preventing a diplomatic incident, I suppose I must agree with you. I’ll revise it, but I guarantee you’ll adore it when it’s finished.”

“Oh?” Arora smirked, “And why’s that?”

“The love ballads.”

A sputtering cough sounded in the quiet study. Arora choked on her ale as Cucio scrambled to regain lost ground.

“Oh, it’s nothing bawdy, I assure you! It’s pure-hearted! Romantic! Inspiring!”

Arora put down the goblet. “No love ballads.”

“But... the duet with Arora and Klethen...”

“No, Cucio.”

“Maybe if you just listened to a few bars-” Cucio moved to grab his lute.

She held up her hand. “Don’t even think about it.”

“...What?”

Arora frowned. “You’ll play the lute and do that thing you do, and it’ll make me change my mind.”

“That thing I do? Why your majesty I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The bard grinned a little as he returned to his goblet. “A good musician simply reaches the heart when the mind refuses to listen.”

Arora turned back to the fire. After a long pause, she sighed. “...Fine.”

Cucio looked at her with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. “Your highness?”

“You can have one ballad. ONE.” She held up a finger sternly.

A huge smile appeared on Cucio’s face. “It will be the most spectacular moment in theater history! Men will weep! Women will swoon! It will be so passionate the stage will have to be enchanted with an anti-conflagration spell! You won’t regret it!”

Arora sighed. “I think I’m already regretting it.”

She finished her ale in one long swing.

Perhaps pomp and ceremony had their place in politics, after all.
Cailin
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The Letter (Spoilers: Episode 99)

Postby Cailin » January 20th, 2012, 2:18 pm

For the span of a few heartbeats Arora appeared frozen, rooted to the floor of the mess hall with her eyes fixed on the center support pillar. Dozens of halflings chattered wildly, clamoring to get a clear look at the parchment prominently spiked to the heavy red beam. She recognized the handwriting, and the ring.

Brandis... what have you done now?

Her heavy armored steps carved a path through the now hushed crowd as she strode forward, her eyes scanning the letter quickly, teeth clenching more firmly with each word. The halflings scattered to return to their tasks, all the while surreptitiously keeping half an eye on the Queen.

By the time she had finished reading the notice, the mess hall had lost its appeal. Whatever appetite she had was gone, replaced instead with a gnawing chill that sank down to the pit of her stomach like Thunderstrike’s ballast. She snatched the letter off the pillar, tucking it and the signet ring into her pocket with a tight-lipped frown; another grey hair courtesy of Alvagore Brandis.

Once she had returned to the forge, Arora spent a great deal of time staring at signet ring; she had half a mind to melt down the damn thing, and more than a few times her hand moved to toss it into the forge before faltering. He would want it back, someday... when he got his head together again.

She would be the one to return it to him.
Cailin
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Falter (Spoilers: Episode 100)

Postby Cailin » February 2nd, 2012, 1:54 pm

There is no body to burn... no time to mourn.
At first, I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse
but it drives me forward, out of the darkness.
It gives me strength.
Sorrow hardens and grows cold;
a new shell of righteous fury armors my weary spirit.
Some may see it in the eyes, or the tightening grip.
But I must not curse the losses I have suffered.
This is not weakness.
It is the tempering of my soul, the proving of my will.
I realize I have strayed from the Code for too long.
I have allowed myself to be distracted.
I have let temptation to cloud my judgement.
I will allow it no more.
It is time to make this a world worth saving.
I am the Divine hammer of Justice,
and all of Durpar will be my anvil.

“If we falter in this holy mission, we fail.
If we quail before the horrors, evil wins.
Giving mercy, we permit evil and become
no better than those we fight.
We are at war.”

- The Champion’s Code (12-16)
Cailin
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Character Name: Arora

One Golden Day (Spoilers: Episode 103)

Postby Cailin » February 17th, 2012, 7:24 pm

The wind tugs at the edge of her deep blue cape, sudden and playful. Arora’s breath catches in her throat. She pauses, her eyes scan the sky. The sound of the crowd is suddenly far away.

She and Deomin are sitting by a thawing lake drenched in the gold light of the setting sun, together they toss stones onto the fragile ice to see who can throw the furthest without breaking through.

“Klethen’s not so bad.” Her hands close gently around a smooth black stone. “He’s just... royalty.”

Crunch. Plunk.

Deomin shrugs elegantly. “It takes a man of royal blood to conclude that a tattoo of a cat with wings is-”

“It’s heraldic.” Arora feels the annoyance creeping into her tone, but Deomin ignores it as his stone glides gracefully across the ice.

Clack.

Arora frowns. “Well it’s not like you to be jealous, anyway. What's wrong with being a royal?”

Crunch. Plunk.

Suddenly he turns to her, his eyes strangely serious despite his relaxed posture. “Ruling a country is the worst thing that can happen to you. I’ve never met a King who remembered my name.”

His response leaves her grasping for words and unable to find any. His tone is neither bitter nor reproachful, and he tosses another stone casually as if he had just commented on the weather.

Clack.

“He’ll prove you wrong.” She meets his gaze, and he flashes her a high-browed grin. He hands her one last stone.

“Perhaps he will.”

Clack.

Her armored knee gently touches the gilded marble step.
Cailin
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A Grey Shroud (Spoilers: Episode 119)

Postby Cailin » June 27th, 2012, 10:29 pm

There are still moments when Arora can pretend that nothing’s amiss. Precious few, now, but when she sits in the warm fuschia glow of their magical campfire she takes the time to watch the fire’s reflection on the mirror-like inlay coiling across her forearm. For a brief moment she can ignore stain creeping through her veins - pretend it’s just a trick of the shadows and that the dull throbbing pain is merely the strain of battle seeping into her fingertips. Denial is fast becoming her most cherished and guarded skill, and without Bahamut’s guiding light, the Truth seems to be slipping into that grey haze that Wrenn is so fond of.

In the True world, her path had been so much clearer. Here Arora feels like a ship on a windless, currentless sea. There are no stars to guide her, no warm silver presence in her mind save the small silver she managed to drag along with her. Now that sputtering candle has to contend with Shar’s dark power.

The ever-burning fire is dim now, too dim to disrupt her sleeping companions or her night-vision. She flexes her fingers before clenching her right hand into a tight fist. The pain remains, mocking her. Arora’s gaze roams over her companions, lingering on Wrenn’s sleeping form. The damnable moral haze shrouds him so completely her thoughts muddy in an instant as her aching fingers curl around the Champion’s Code at her neck.

Wrenn is an ally. Wrenn is dangerous. Wrenn is a friend. Wrenn is tainted.

I am tainted.


Arora barely manages to stifle a moan as her stomach lurches, the tang of her last meal rising sharp and bitter in her throat.

The piercing throb deepens with her quickening heartbeat. She stares into the fire silently begging for some understanding before her eyes finally flutter closed, her fingers fiercely clutching the shield-shaped medallion.

Not more than ten feet away, Wrenn smiles quietly in his sleep.
Cailin
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