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The Mentor

“Give him a chance. I believe in him. I believe in you.”

0 · 619 views · located in Skyrim

a character in “Skyrim: The Mentor & The Sellswords”, as played by AugustArria

Description

The Mentor

Image

Basic Info

Name: Lucius Aurelius (commonly referred to as “The Mentor”)
Race: Imperial
Age: 51 at the time of his disappearance.
Gender: Male

Personality

The Mentor is a father, more than anything. Always caring, firm and strong when he needs to be, soft and comforting whenever he can be. He is wise like no man you’ve met, seeming to have the answers to any possible question one could ask. He is cunning and clever, often finding ways out of situations with words rather than with his blade. He is a supreme leader, earning the respect and loyalty of those he wants to follow him through his deeds rather than his words, and is always the first to set to work when he wants something done. He is fiercely protective of those he has taken charge over, like any father would be. It is this unique set of traits which allow him to heal others like no magic can.

Equipment

The Mentor is never seen in fancy clothes, or fancy armor. He wears bland garb, browns, dark greens, and grays. If the situation calls for it, he has some light leather armor he wears over a shirt of ringmail, and leather gloves.

He wields a two-handed greatsword called Mercy. A man would be hard pressed to find a blade that is sharper, but the blade itself is quite simple in appearance.

Abilities

The Mentor is a supreme wielder of a blade, and as quick as any man in his prime. He can use a wide variety of melee and ranged weapons with great skill, enough to train anyone in their use. And while he’s never been seen to cast a spell of any kind, the Mentor seems to have great knowledge of all the schools of magic, enough to guide his followers through their training without actually demonstrating any magic himself.

History

Little is known of the Mentor’s past. It is known that his true name is Lucius Aurelius, but he is rarely referred to by this name, almost always being known as “Mentor.” He is clearly an Imperial, evidenced by his name and by his appearance, but his place of birth, as well as his parents, remains unknown. The Mentor taught those he brought to his manor near Solitude many things, but his past was not one of them.

There are, of course, rumors. It is said that the Mentor has always had his current appearance, that he is immortal, that he witnessed many of the greats events over Tamriel’s history. He laughs at all the stories and tall tales…but doesn’t necessarily deny them.

What he’s done recently, however, is known. The Mentor has traveled Skyrim over the past few years, collecting individuals from the most unlikely of places, and bringing them back to his manor. All of these people are plagued by serious issues, some physical, some mental, some emotional. But regardless of whatever they may have done in the past, the Mentor takes them in, and turns their lives around, slowly but surely putting their demons to rest, and employing their services as mercenaries. They’ve dubbed themselves the Sellswords, but in reality they charge only enough to maintain their equipment, and they only take up causes that are just in the Mentor’s eyes.

The Mentor has since disappeared, leaving his Sellswords for the first time. No one knows of his whereabouts. If anyone can find him, the Sellswords can.

OOC

These questions will let me know a little more about you as a player.

What experience do you have with the Elder Scrolls universe?: Played Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. So I know a good deal.
How often do you get online?: Every day. I work on the computer.
How often can we expect you to be able to post?: I have another RP I’m running, and a few that I’m participating in, but you can expect a large post from me at least once every few days.

So begins...

The Mentor's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sinderion Direnni Character Portrait: Anirne Direnni Character Portrait: Lynly Snowsong Character Portrait: The Representatives Character Portrait: Vanryth Galero Character Portrait: Soren Ivarsson Character Portrait: Dominicus Drayk Character Portrait: Adrienne Jastal Character Portrait: The Mentor
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“No.”

The word, singular as it was, was accompanied by a firm shake of Sinderion’s head. He was done with this, done with Games and rules and sacrifice and letting people put themselves in danger without him. Not that there had been an awful lot of the last, considering he’d been in this the whole time, but he could not help the way his throat started to close up at the very thought of letting her venture in there on her own. Whatever reward the daedra would give was probably something they were all better off without. Perhaps it was something to face, but if it was, they needed to face it together. If this journey had shown them anything, it was that they could not and must not do these things alone.

It was also true that whatever this was, it was not obviously an opportunity for them to retrieve the Mentor, but Sinderion would admit to himself that just at this moment, that was not his primary concern. There was just simply no way that he was going to accept that Maya had to walk through that door by herself and confront whatever it was that awaited her alone. He would rather simply walk away than let that happen. Even after all they had endured and all they had given to get to this point—and it was no trivial amount.

Though it was unclear exactly to whom the first statement was addressed, he spoke the next to Maya herself. “Don’t, please. We have no idea what’s behind that door—and it isn’t…” It wasn’t her responsibility to risk herself to find out. More than that though, his sentiment, his instinct, was something else. His desire, such as it was, constituted something simple, but irrevocable, something that need be whispered, murmured, because too loud and he might remember just how selfish it was. He reached out halfway, as though to catch her arm, or her shoulder, or he knew not what, but the motion was aborted halfway through in his indecision. There was little uncertain about his words, however.

“Don’t go.”

Adrienne looked back and forth between the two, feeling torn. On the one hand, she could perfectly well understand where Sinderion was coming from. Nobody should have to face that kind of situation alone, and to just let the person you loved walk into it—she wouldn’t have been able to do so, either. All the same, it wasn’t lost on her that Maya would do it anyway. She would do exactly the same thing in the other woman’s position, partly because there were people who cared enough about her to try and stop her. So, though she wanted to add voice to the protestation, she did not. What could she say in the attempt to convince that would be more compelling than the raw sentiment Sinder had? Surely nothing.

Vanryth had nothing to offer but a hand on the shoulder of Sinder, silently comforting the man who he called his brother. A time ago, he'd happily abandoned the game, and had entertained such thoughts himself, but now, she had come too far to simply give up. Vanryth didn't pretend to know the choice Maya would make, but only the choice he'd take. Lynly allowed herself a lingering glance at Tarquin's body before shaking her head and letting her eyes fall to the floor. He had given more than any of them. It was his sacrifice that won Maya the game, to reject it now... Lynly kept her eyes pointed downward and kept her tongue silent. Nothing she could say would make any of it better.

As much as she hated to, Maya remained just out of reach of Sinder, even though he halted his attempt to make contact with her. She knew that if she reached back, returned to them and surrounded herself with the possibility of her future, she would never be able to do what needed to be done. And she did need to go. The option to walk away was before her, as she had defeated all her enemies, freed herself from the clutches of the game, and won herself a future. But she couldn't take it while knowing what was willingly given so that she might have it. Perhaps it was dishonoring Tarquin's sacrifice to risk herself so recklessly on his behalf, and on the Mentor's. But if Tarquin was no longer the Shade, then she was no longer the Blackfeather, and this was something Maya wanted to do, the first step in defining her life from this point onwards.

She couldn't speak, both because she didn't know what words to use, and she expected to choke on them anyway. Without looking back, she strode forward and came to stand before the great doors, peering through the open crack, and seeing nothing but darkness inside. Steeling herself, she stepped into the shadows, and the doors closed behind her.

The great room fell into silence, the overbearing presence of Molag Bal fading from their senses. Drayk had expected something to happen almost immediately, but the group was instead met with only quiet and stillness. It seemed to go on dreadfully long, each moment throwing into further doubt Maya's fate. He found himself wondering what to do in the moment. He thought about trying to comfort Sinder somehow, a simple hand on the shoulder or some other brotherly gesture, but in the end he decided against, feeling that might aggravate him further. His hand found Adrienne's instead.

The wait felt like an eternity, but in reality they only stood there for perhaps five minutes, unwilling to acknowledge any of a number of terrible outcomes. It was then that a great rumble from ahead indicated that the doors were opening once more. Not one, but both began to swing apart this time, immediately revealing an intense orange light, made only more brilliant by the relative darkness of the chamber. With vibrations that shook the entire room the doors opened completely, revealing what was seemingly a towering pillar of fire in the doorway. Hazy images seemed to swirl in the flames, which swirled and flattened as though pressed up against a glass window. As Drayk's eyes slowly adjusted, he noticed that the fire was surrounded on all sides by twisting black columns of otherworldly metal, and that short steps led up to the flames.

A gate to Oblivion.

A figure stood before the portal, her silhouette wreathed in flames. Maya's bearing seemed heavier than ever, mixed with some anxious trepidation, but there was relief in there as well. She crossed half the distance to the rest of the group, before gesturing up at the fiery doorway behind her.

"This is the way to Coldharbor," she explained. "We've... been given safe conduct."

Sinder didn’t ask what had happened in those five minutes. He wouldn’t, because it was something for her to speak of only if she wished to tell him, just as the thoughts that had passed through his mind in those five minutes, terrible though they had been, were his own. Now hardly seemed the time for them anyway. He hadn’t moved the entire time, his eyes fixed only on the door, his whole posture oriented towards it, tenser then Soren’s bowstring, as though waiting to react at any moment, in a way that hadn’t been determined. He eased slightly then, though, and nodded slightly, flicking his glance to the fire and the metal and almost attempting to bore past it, as if to see what awaited beyond. It was no simple matter however, and to know, they would have to act, to venture inside.

His feet carried him forward, and he paused when he drew even with her, breathing a sigh so quiet only she could hear it and placing one of his hands gently atop the crown of her head. The texture of her hair was familiar under his fingers, and the sigh was matched by a slow inhale. For now, it was enough. She was alive after all, and she smelled as she always did, for the most part. This time, at least, they would all be going in together, and for that reason alone, Sinderion did not hesitate, shooting a glance back at the rest of them and dropping his hand back to his side. It was time to end their search, once and for all.

Lingering was an action without a purpose at this point, and so he didn’t do it, choosing instead to walk right up to the thing and through it. Whatever lay beyond, they would face it. And they would do so as one.

It may have been purposeless, but Maya lingered all the same, watching as the Sellswords and their allies one by one filtered through the Oblivion gate and into Coldharbor. She was torn by a number of conflicting emotions, but felt above all a sort of shameful relief. Molag Bal was a cruel sort, but he was not often the most deceptive of the Daedra, tending towards the heavy handed instead. Maya felt that she had played her cards right with him, as best she could, in accordance with the options that were available to her, and the demands of the morals that had been drilled into her by her bonded allies and friends. She doubted it would be a joyous way to end the nightmare, but it would end. She had bought the group some closure, if nothing else.

"Safe conduct," Drayk repeated from in front of her, pulling her from her thoughts. He was the last in line of the group to pass through the gate. "Safe conduct to do what?"

"To say our goodbyes."




Drayk knew the Imperial City well, even though he had only lived there during his turbulent childhood. This was not the Imperial City.

Their passage into Oblivion had been quick and painless, and Drayk was somewhat surprised at the lack of unpleasant sensations upon entering an Oblivion gate. Maya followed through shortly after him, making the group whole once more, minus the one they had so recently lost. On the other side of the portal was a recreation of Drayk's city of birth, albeit a strange mockery of that, as though they were looking at the Empire's seat of waning power through the lens of a dream, or more likely a nightmare.

They stood, fittingly, in the graveyard of the kings, that ring of tombstones that filled up Green Emperor Way surrounding the palace itself. Drayk had once read that Molag Bal's alternate of the palace was supposed to be dripping with blood and laden with corpses, but nothing so horrific lay before him now. Instead, the place simply felt cold. The sky was not on fire, as he had also read, but instead a solid blanket of clouds that seemed much more akin to smoke, constantly shifting and yet remaining entirely uniform in density. There was a chill in the air, but not so much as the biting wind that often tore through his layers back in Skyrim. The palace looked a great deal as it had in the years following the Great War, when the Aldmeri Dominion sacked the city, looted the tower, and burned it when they were done.

"They're waiting for us in the council chambers," Maya informed them, pointing to the double doors of some gnarled, otherworldy wood that led inside the palace. Perhaps surprisingly, there was no trap waiting for them, no snare for Molag Bal to claim more slaves for his realm. If that was Maya's work or simply a choice of the Daedric Prince, it was hard to say. Maya did not seem inclined to discuss it, either, instead taking the initiative to lead the group out of the graveyard and up the steps, pushing the doors open to enter the council chambers.

The interior of the palace was dominated by a large circular room with a wide open, empty floor. Depicting on the tiles of the flooring was a great map of the world, all the various lands and peoples known to the empire labeled and marked. The Imperial City was directly at its center, a black dot that was located under a beam of pale light, falling from a natural hole in the ceiling, far above. The tower in Cyrodiil had many floors, Drayk knew, but this one seemed to have only one chamber, and it expanded upwards seemingly endlessly.

Standing in that pale light, waiting for the Sellswords, were four figures, all of which seemed the slightest bit transparent.

Tarquin was whole again, his right arm returned to him, but even in this pale light the color of his mortality could be seen on his face. He offered no words in greeting, only a small smile, evidence that he was glad to see that his actions had benefited the Sellswords as he had planned. His brother Aeneas stood beside him, clad in almost jovial finery, as well as his mother. Phaedra Aurelius was no longer the monstrosity they had encountered under Skyrim's largest mountain. Instead she regained her former appearance of years past, that of a noblewoman no larger than Adrienne, with delicate porcelain features and perfectly straight raven black hair.

Lucius Aurelius, the one they had come to know as the Mentor, stood with them, a hand resting on the shoulder of his eldest son. He was dressed exactly as they had last seen him, in common leathers and furs, as though he was about to take a hike through the hills near Solitude. His eyes, while heavy with grief, were nearly overflowing with relief, and obvious pride, at seeing their faces again, whole and alive. They matched his smile.

"I knew you would find a way."

So that was the Mentor, was it? Soren elected to stand back a little, as doubtless the Sellswords would be inclined to do something a little more emotional than observe, and he felt that, in the end, he had little part in what was to come. This had always been their journey to make, or as Lynly might put it, their story to write. It was a little uncanny to see the dead alive, he had to admit, and he did incline his head at Tarquin, perhaps an acknowledgement that more was deserved, but would not be forthcoming from his quarter. There was much yet to be said and understood, but for once, he would incline himself to silence. Following Soren's lead, Lynly too stood back and away from the Sellswords, taking her place alongside him. This had always been their quest from the very beginning. And now that they stood at the end of it her place was behind them, where it had always been.

Sinderion was also silent, though admittedly for very different reasons. Rather than a strange sense of detachment, he felt a wave of crushing guilt. It as a feeling he was used to, but also one that he had to admit he was growing weary of. He remembered so clearly those first inclinations of bitterness, of the twisting feeling of being left behind. It hadn’t been resentment, but it hadn’t been so far away that he could feel entirely comfortable standing here, in front of the one person in the world who had given him everything he didn’t deserve, and accepting that warmth again. His relief, great as it was, was tainted by that guilt and tempered by something else, the nagging feeling that this was not going to be so simple as he wanted to believe. What was the chance that they could all just walk right back out of Coldharbor? He swallowed thickly, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, and dared to hope that perhaps his doubt would be understood and forgiven without the need for words at all.

He didn’t deserve it. But he needed it.

“You’re here. You’re really here.” The words were breathed with an almost reverential softness, and Adrienne looked as if at any moment she might once more burst into tears. Thankfully, they were for the moment absent, and she lurched forward several steps, though the odd, ghostlike quality of his visage, and that of his family—all of them, together as they should be, and yet—gave her pause, and she stopped almost as suddenly, a hand still halfway outstretched as if to try and confirm his reality. Only… she wasn’t sure she would like what the attempt told her.

“Aren’t you?”

The Mentor's hand crossed the other half to touch Adrienne's, and indeed, she could feel his rough, calloused fingertips on her own. "I am. For as long as you need me." Seeing Adrienne reach out to touch him seemed to encourage Drayk, and he stepped forward beside her, only the fire mage chose to throw his arms around the Mentor's shoulders in a greedy hug, knocking him back a step amidst a laugh.

"Wouldn't let you get away that easy, old man," he said, hardly able to contain his own tears. The old man, who was in fact quite a bit older than Drayk had originally estimated, clapped him on the back in return. Tarquin, meanwhile, sought out the eyes of Maya, who stood half in the shadow of Sinderion, as though she too wanted to avoid getting in the way of the reunion.

"Maya..." he said, waiting until he had her eyes. "Nothing is owed from this. This is what I wanted. After what I'd seen happen to all of you... this is what I could do to make it right."

"I know," Maya said quietly, watching Drayk hug the Mentor. She couldn't seem to think of anything else to say, so she repeated herself. "I know."

Vanryth allowed the younger Sellswords to greet the Mentor first, but the smile spreading across his scarred face couldn't have been more impatient. It only grew once Adrienne confirmed that, yes, the Mentor that stood in front of them, the man that had pulled Vanryth from the gutters and had given him a family was really him. He wouldn't hide the laughter that came from watching Drayk throw himself at him in a wild hug. Once the Mentor had regained his balance that Drayk had stolen, and Drayk had peeled himself off the man, Vanryth came next. Placing a jovial hand on the his shoulder as he passed, Vanryth extended the hand in a handshake.

Though it wasn't just a handshake. Once the Mentor's rough hewn palm met Van's own, he pulled him in for a hug of his own and clapped the man on the back with as much happiness his broken visage could hold before flowing over. Realising the Mentor, Vanryth began to laugh as he looked into the man's face. They did it, they finally found him! He couldn't help himself, they'd come so far, went through so much for this one moment. And in that single moment, Vanryth felt like he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. He was glad that he couldn't dissuade the rest of the Sellswords from their path, because in the end it was worth it.

Vanryth then began to "speak" so to say, as his hands flew up and began to dance out the signs that constituted his speech.

Sinder looked a little more contrite when he approached, but then, it wasn’t so unusual for him to be more reserved than the others. He had finally found his smile though—it was hard to linger too long in the doubt and the shame and the fear when he was standing in this man’s presence. It was just the way the Mentor had always had about him. He made it seem as though everything were really not so terrible as it seemed. He would not say that to stand here was to cleanse himself of all that had transpired, but he wouldn’t want to. What it did do was reaffirm those choices, those sacrifices. Vindicate those little pieces of hope that he’d dared cling onto.

“Vanryth says he hopes we didn’t keep you waiting, and that it is good to see you.” The Mentor, after all, did not know the language of signs the rest of them had learned in their journey to this point. “I think perhaps he understates the point a bit.”

And it was. It really, really was. Anirne could see the palpable relief and joy in their faces, and it brought a smile to her own, but she didn’t miss the exchange between Tarquin and Maya, either. She found it a little odd to see him with both arms, actually, for she’d known him longer with just the one. She moved slightly so that she was standing, hands folded in front of her, about equidistant between the reunion and where the other three stood back, as if not quite sure what to do. Something about this worried her, a little niggling sensation at the back of her mind, and she looked at all of the assembled members of Tarquin’s family, the smile slowly fading. She spoke lowly, trying not to interrupt the Sellswords and their Mentor, directing her question to the former Representatives in the room.

“I’m afraid I don’t quite know how to ask,” she said, glancing again at the four and the man who’d touched their lives in the profoundest of ways. “But what is to happen now?”

With the greetings at last concluded, and the difficult question having been asked, the Mentor looked to his son to explain, and Tarquin obliged, though he struggled to find the best words. "Maya has arranged for our release from this place," he announced, and though it was seemingly good news, he did not deliver it as such. "But... we cannot return to Tamriel with you. Our time among the living is at an end. We'll see each other again someday, I imagine... but not for some time."

"This is the end," the Mentor confirmed, solidifying Tarquin's words, "but there is no reason it cannot also be the beginning."

It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. After all they’d been through to find him, to reach this forsaken place and bring him home again. After every last wound they’d endured on their bodies and their minds and their very souls, they surely could not simply be expected to turn around and walk back out of here again without him. Adrienne knew she should be happy, grateful even, that none of them was condemned to Coldharbor for the rest of eternity, but she couldn’t find it in her to be anything but anguished. “No,” she murmured softly, her voice thickening. “No, that can’t be it. You can’t just go. Not after… not after this. You have to come back.” She looked at Tarquin. “Both of you. All of you. We came… we came here. To this place—to Coldharbor. We searched for so long…”

She struggled for the words to express her heartache, the way everything in her just sank to hear them say it. “Please don’t go again. We can’t… I can’t…” Words failed, and she threw herself into the old man’s arms, shaking but holding on as though for dear life itself. They’d come so far, and for what?

It really didn’t surprise him, in the end. Sinderion had a decent instinct now for when something was too good to be true, and while it should have surprised him that they had made their way here only to say goodbye, it really didn’t. He understood enough to know that the value of it had been in the journey, in the striving. Even if they had all thought the benefit was to be something that would never come. Likely, the Mentor had known when he left that he would never be coming back. That guess, the feeling he’d had about it, did not stop the uncomfortable constriction in his chest.

Could they really do it? Could they really live without him? It might have been a selfish question to ask, but he had a good reason to ask it. This strange, dysfunctional family of theirs mattered more to him than anything in the world; it was only natural that he wondered how they would get along without the one who’d guided them for so long. Even in his absence, he’d been there, pushing them forward, or perhaps more like pulling, as does the light at the end of a darkened cavern, with the promise of relief. Of the ability to breathe easily once again, less burdened than before. “There’s no… no way to change that?” Would he even want to if there were?

The Mentor held Adrienne gently, cupping a soft hand over her head as her emotions poured out. Drayk, too, came up behind her to put a hand on her shoulder. There were tears glistening in his eyes as well, but from Maya's words before entering Coldharbor, he had come to expect this. This was a farewell, as much as it was a reunion. Tarquin shook his head sadly at Sinderion.

"None, I'm afraid. My family has been gone from the world for far too long. As for myself... I knew what I was getting into when I made the leap. Thanks to Maya, I don't need to stay here. What we'll move on to, I can't say... but death is just another piece of life." It likely wasn't the comforting answer they were looking for, but that wasn't how the world worked. Nothing was perfect, but for the four of them... this was as close as it got.

"The troubles that plagued you when first we met..." Phaedra whispered, her voice barely more than a whisper. It still retained that haunting beauty she had spoken with in life, but gone were the twinges of tormented agony that had come with her twisted form. "You are no longer beholden to them. You have found a peace within yourselves. The only anchors you require now are each other." The Mentor nodded, gently taking Adrienne and pushing her back, so that he might look into her eyes.

"She is right. I have always believed in you... all of you. It was only through you that I was able to find my own redemption. I never doubted your ability to find me, and to conquer everything that sought to tear you apart, both from without and from within. I wish that I could return, you know that I do, but you also know, deep inside, that you have the strength to thrive without me. Nothing makes me happier than seeing you stand here, united and whole, and knowing that the lives you will lead from this day on will be filled with happiness, love, and compassion. Never again will you know the torment of your pasts. That is as much your doing as my own."

They had fought, toiled, bled, and cried to arrive where they were. Despite all that they had endured to enter Coldharbor to find the Mentor, came the revelation that they would not return with the man himself but only his farewell. Despite all of that, a smile still made it's home on Vanryth lips. It was a bittersweet thing, happy edged with a fine line of sadness. It hurt that he would not be able to bring the man who had saved his life-- all of their lives home, but...

Vanryth took a step forward and placed a pair of firm, but gentle hands on Adrienne's shoulder. He wrapped her into a hug from behind and then began to sign with his hands in front of her, keeping her within his strong shell. We can, He signed, and we will. They were not the same people the Mentor, Lucius had pulled from the gutters. They were leagues away from the wretches they once were, and the Mentor had brought them there in spite of his absence. It was not to say he was unneeded-- that was the farthest from the truth. He was something they strove for, an idea that had healed them and put them back together.

While they were rescuing him, he was in turn saving them. And together they had found a sort of redemption. Look at them, he told her, raising his eyes from the top of Adrienne's head and to the Mentor's family that stood in front of them. He has his family, He signed, just as we have ours. The Sellswords had saved him and his family, just as he had done for them. They had all found their redemption. Vanryth would not leave Coldharbor having felt everything was pointless, because nothing was. He could feel all of his regrets simply melt away. Placing his hands on Adrienne's shoulder one last time, he took a step backward and then signed again, for all to see.

Sinderion sighed, deeply and almost from the very soul of him, if he could be said to have something like that. He didn’t really care to know. The Mentor was right, as always, and Vanryth was right in his acceptance of this fact for what it was. Seemingly Drayk had accepted it too, and Adrienne was a smart woman. Certainly much smarter than he was. She would see the need for this, also, much as they didn’t really want it. “It will be a while before we see each other again.” He wasn’t sure how much of the afterlife he really thought real, but he was translating for Van, not offering his own opinion, and that they were here at all seemed to indicate that there was something. Perhaps it was not so outlandish to assume that they might be reunited one day.

It was not a day that Sinder was going to rush, one way or another. “We won’t waste this chance.” He paused for a moment after the interpreting was done, then smiled, a little lopsided thing that looked a bit out-of-place on his face, honestly. Maybe one day it wouldn’t seem so, if he ever managed to accustom himself to happiness. He allowed himself to believe that he would. That, after all, was the chance in question. Not just redemption, not just forgiveness, but actual joy. And in this moment it seemed at once as close as it had ever been and very far away indeed.

“Thank you. May you travel well, and always together.”

Adrienne sniffled, stepping back slightly from the Mentor to lean against Van, and then at last to stand on her own when he moved back as well. “I know,” she murmured miserably. “I do, I just… I’m going to miss you.” Her voice cracked on the last couple of words, but she drew in a shuddering breath all the same. As ever, her fellow Sellswords were so much stronger than she felt herself to be, but… their strength was hers, and hers theirs. That was what it meant, after all, to be a family, as Vanryth said they were. There was no denying, however, that his family and theirs were not so easily separated in her mind. The Mentor would always be a part of them, and Tarquin too. She didn’t want to give them up, but… perhaps she did not have to. Perhaps she could take them at their word, that this was so long but not goodbye. Not the end.

She managed a smile, tremulous but genuine, not wanting to send them off in tears, after all.

It seemed that the time to depart came upon them immanently, and Anirne sighed softly. Goodbyes had never been all that easy for her, though perhaps she should be used to them by now. Taking a couple of steps forward, she smiled apologetically at Tarquin, then slid her arms underneath his and hugged him, a motion brief but not at all tentative. “Thank you,” she said simply. “For being a friend to them. And to me. Until we meet again… be well.”

"And thank you," Tarquin said. "For giving me a chance. For believing in me. For helping me find peace."