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Alexander Wasden

"I will uphold my vows."

0 · 801 views · located in Adrenica

a character in “When the World Fell”, as played by shatari19

Description

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“Though the Church is no more, I will continue to uphold my vows.”

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Name:
Thomas Alexander Wasden


Race:
Human


Role:
Priest


Age:
29





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”I am nothing to look at..especially now.”

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Hair color:
Blonde




Eye color:
Bright Blue





Height:
6'0





Other: Alexander has several scars that litter his form and one that is located upon his left cheek. Most are not noticeable unless looking intently.

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”I know that you will not understand my persistence...”

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Likes:
Traveling || Reading || Fighting || Religion || The Church



Dislikes
Rothen || The suffering of others || The Cold || Rain || Snakes



Strengths
Smart || Learns quickly || Quick



Weaknesses/Fears
Being outsmarted(f) || Kind Heart(w) || Loosing in Battle(f)




Personality:
Alexander is a rather quiet person who always speaks in a soft, accented voice. He tends to be more on the blunt side. He typically doesn't sugar coat things, which has gotten him into trouble in the past. Though he can act a bit erratic and stubborn, Alexander can be reasonable. He is a rather nice person though if need be Alexander can be much more harsh. He knows how to get things done.



History:
Alexander was born into a rather small family. He is the youngest out of two boys and the only one in the family to serve the Church. He grew up as any normal child does. He loved running about with his brother and they were often in trouble. However, as the boys grew, Alexander grew more and more. Becoming the person that he needed to be. The Church had recently begun recruiting again and enlisted Alexander, much to his family's dismay.

Since the day that Alexander became a Priest, he quickly rose in rank and became the head of the warriors that served the Church. When the Rothen attacked and destroyed the Clergy, Alexander did not return to his family. Instead, he simply traveled the world...alone...for six years. He was captured once though escaped and has ever since been traveling by the lesser known roads.

So begins...

Alexander Wasden's Story

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Character Portrait: Alexander Wasden Character Portrait: Ainsley Hale
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He was weary. More so than he could remember having been in a long time. Alexander could not remember a time that he'd not felt so. Ever since the Rothen had overthrown the Church, things had been nothing but horrible for anyone who served the Faith. As far as the blonde man was aware, there were only a few remaining. However, it was very well that they were hiding well. Alexander had taken to traveling only after sunset. It made it easier for him to remain hidden from those that sought him. Though, it did make things a bit more difficult. He had to watch where he was stepping and had to watch for any other beings. He could not be found.

Alexander had a pretty price on his head. He'd escaped the Rothen but barely. They did not take kindly to the events and had made it known through the larger cities. That had been nearly three years ago. He'd avoided the more populated settlements and even now he did not like venturing so close to any of them. That was why he was now traveling so close to a small farming community.

It was fairly dark and he was certain that it would start raining at any moment. This meant that he would need to find shelter much more quickly than he normally would have. He sighed softly, his gaze quickly shifting about the immediate area. The only thing that he saw was an obvious ranch. He stopped, taking in the sight. There was a large barn..a perfect place to take refuge for the night. He would simply have to make sure that he was up early enough to head out before the residents discovered him.

He normally didn't make it a habit of crashing somewhere like this. However, with the heavy drops of water that was already beginning to fall, Alexander didn't have many options. He moved quickly, making his way towards the barn. As the seconds passed, the slow fall turned into a heavy pour. Within a few moments, Alexander was completely drenched. He could already feel the chill seeping in.

Regardless, he pushed forward. He worried that someone would see him. He knew what would happen if he were captured again. He'd barely escaped the first time and he was fairly certain that they would not leave him breathing for long. He could not allow himself to think on that. To think of anything save for the fact that he needed to keep moving.

At last, Alexander reached the barn door and moved inside rather quickly. He closed the door behind him and slowly moved inside. His clothing was completely soaked though he had nothing to change into. He would just have to make due. The man left the hood up, hiding his face. His gaze slowly shifted about, quickly finding a way up into the loft.

He moved quickly, not hesitating. The Priest made his way up the ladder and into the loft. From there, he would be able to remain hidden should someone come looking for him. As he came to stand once again, Alexander realized that there was a door that he'd be able to escape through should the need arise. He moved further away from the edge, only then pulling the hood down that hid his face. He then ran a hand over his face tiredly.

Alexander removed his weathered old bag, allowing it to fall to the ground with a low thump. It was then that the sound of a door opening caught his attention. The Priest moved immediately, hiding behind some of the taller bales of hay. He could only hope that whoever it was hadn't seen him and was simply checking on the animals during the storm that was now raging about. He knew that he'd have to kill the person if they came across him. He wouldn't go back to the horrid camp that the Rothen had set up for those they deemed dangerous.

He tried to shrink against the wall though he was fairly certain that he would be found out..and soon from the sound of it. He supposed that it couldn't be helped. He knew the risks..he could not turn back now. He could simply pray and hope that whoever was in the barn with him would turn and leave. As he waited, Alexander's hand found its way to one of his daggers, ready to react the moment he needed to.

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Character Portrait: Alexander Wasden Character Portrait: Ainsley Hale
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In contrast to the day, which had been fair of weather, the night was lashed by a seemingly torrential rain. The winds were known for shifting quickly in this region, and the season, nearing the end of summer, was such that storms were often found rolling in from the southeast. Ainsley had noted the dark clouds on the horizon around dusk and moved all the animals into the barn, which had enough space for everyone and then a bit more, which was fortunate—she’d hate to have to leave anyone out on a night like this.

Unlike the animals, who tended to be uneasy during such turbulent weather, Ainsley herself relished in it. Sometimes, all she wanted was to be ensconced inside while the water lashed the sides and roof of the house, curled up in front of her window nook and reading something as nature’s wrath descended on the world outside, but sometimes she also liked to be in it, feeling all that turbulent sensation herself.

Though her mother had gone to bed several hours ago, citing fatigue, her father Peter was still awake as well, being the sort of person who shared his daughter’s love for storms. He preferred to do his enjoying from in front of the low-banked fire in the hearth though, and she noted that he’d nodded off in his favorite chair, doubtless a bit tired from all the work they’d done in the north fields today. Ainsley smiled to herself, pulling a quilt from the nearby couch and draping it over him, laying a chaste kiss on her father’s temple and deciding that she’d go check on the animals. Jester, one of the horses, tended to spook at the thunder, but could usually be calmed if one knew what they were doing.

Pausing at the entryway to slide on a waterproof, hooded poncho, Ainsley stepped back into her boots and pushed the front door open, stepping out onto the covered porch just as a fork of lightning lanced across the sky. She could no longer hear the thunder that would accompany, but she could feel it, somewhere in the core of her. That might be what she loved most about the rain, now: that vibration from the pads of her feet to the crown of her head.

Stepping off the porch, she was immediately assailed by the rain, and had to reach up with both hands to keep the hood in place on her head, protecting her from the worst of the wet. She might not mind, but there would be plenty of time to get soaked after she’d checked on the animals.

The mud sucked at her boots as she tread up the path to the barn, but she didn’t pay it any mind; they were laced on well enough that it wouldn’t be a problem. Opening the door to the barn, she pulled her hood down, snorting softly when her hair fluffed out, slightly staticky from the friction, and reached to flick on the lights.

The barn didn’t have many, so they didn’t provide more than cursory illumination, but her eyesight was good, and she didn’t need much to navigate by anyway. A banging sound alerted her to the fact that Jester had kicked at his stall door, and she hastened over towards him, stopping momentarily when she thought she caught movement from the corner of her eye. Turning her head, she didn’t see anything, and the horse kicked again, so she merely shook her head and started moving again.

“Shhh. It’s all right, lovely.” She murmured to him more because he tended to respond well to her than for any particular benefit it had for her, and he quieted under the gentle touch of her hands. “I’m not going to hurt you, and neither is the rain. That’s a boy.” She reached into the stall and rubbed his neck affectionately, smiling when he nibbled at the ends of her hair, which was really a rather bad habit of his that she shouldn’t allow, but it had never done any harm.

Ainsley recalled that there was a spare set of horse blankets up in the loft, and since the night was turning out to be chillier than usual for the season, it might not be a bad idea to grab a few and outfit the horses before she went back in for the night. Backing away from the stall, she approached the ladder to the loft and climbed with the ease of long practice, pulling herself up into the loft—

—and coming face-to-face, in a manner of speaking, with a total stranger.

Her eyes went wide upon meeting another pair, shrouded in the thicker darkness of a shadow, where little of the light reached. She might not even have noticed him had she not happened to cast her eyes in that direction in search of the spare blankets, but she certainly had now. Quickly, she assessed the situation: the stranger was wearing loose clothing of a kind she’d seen once or twice before, but much more remarkable than that was the tattoo branded right there on his face, stark and utilitarian. The Rothen had made those marks on a very specific type of military prisoner: the priests and priestesses of the old church.

Ainsley’s lips parted as though to speak, but she wasn’t exactly sure what to say. Slowly, carefully, she lifted both hands, palms facing outward, so that he could see them, and know that she was unarmed. She hadn’t missed that one of his hands was positioned where she expected one would keep a weapon, if one was the kind of person to keep weapons.

At last, she found her voice again, and mustered up a small smile, though what the emotion was behind it was unclear. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer you not draw that. I’m somewhat fond of my life… and I imagine you’re fond of yours, too. So… if you’ll give me a moment to find the horse blankets, I can pretend I never saw you.” Her tone was even, soft, but it lacked any indication of fear, though there was a great deal of caution in it nevertheless.

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He could feel his heart pounding. He'd honestly not expected anyone to be out in this storm. He'd made a mistake. He never should have stopped...should have kept going regardless of the weather. Now, all that Alexander could do was wait. He could hear the being moving about down below. He'd only come this close two times before and one of those had ended him up in the camp. The man was unsure of how long had passed before he began hearing the sounds of someone moving up the ladder.

It was in that moment that his thoughts suddenly drifted to that of his family. He'd not seen them since the Church had fallen. As far as they knew..he was already dead. A slight pain suddenly spread through him. In his wildest dreams, Alexander had never imagined that joining the Faith would result in such suffering for either him or his family. Nathaniel was the one that he worried most for. It was no secret that his older brother had cared for him greatly. He'd even attempted to reach out to Alexander at one point. However, the younger man hadn't been able to stand the though of putting them in such danger. It just wasn't an option. He had to keep them safe and safe meant never seeing him again.

It didn't seem to take the person very long to reach the loft. Suddenly, Alexander's gaze locked onto that of a girl..and he hesitated. He'd been so ready to fend for his life that he'd never thought that perhaps the person in the barn wasn't a real threat. The man kept his hand near his back where his daggers where hidden. One could not be too careful, especially now.

The girl clearly hadn't been expecting to find anyone, let alone a Priest, hiding out in the barn. Alexander watched her closely, ready to react the moment he needed to. She was then moving slowly, raising her palms up so as to show him that she was unarmed. This meant little to the Priest. He'd learned a long time ago to trust no one.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer you not draw that. I’m somewhat fond of my life… and I imagine you’re fond of yours, too. So… if you’ll give me a moment to find the horse blankets, I can pretend I never saw you.” The girl spoke, a small smile on her face. Alexander was thrown off for a moment. Her voice had been soft though he was unsure of her true intent. His blue gaze simply seemed to regard her for a few long seconds.

The girl herself did not seem to be a threat. At least immediately. Alexander finally moved his hand from the hidden weapon though remained quite clearly on edge. "And why would you simply pretend that you've not seen me?" He asked softly, his gaze attempting to search her own. "Don't you know what would happen if I was discovered by their scouts and they realized that you'd known?"

He was rather curious as to why this girl was acting so calmly..why she was willing to allow his presence to slide. As he thought about it, Alexander could only imagine how he looked to her. Being on the run for so long was not awfully kind to anyone. He was much thinner than he normally was which was causing his clothing to no longer fit him as they once had. He also suspected that his fatigue showed rather easily. He likely was a sight right then. "I do not understand.." Confusion crossed his features. If she knew what was good for her..she would turn him in and do so now. It would spare her pain later on.

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The man’s hand came away from his weapon, and though she knew better than to assume that meant he couldn’t or wouldn’t hurt her, Ainsley breathed a soft exhalation of relief anyway, some of the tension bleeding out of her frame. She could feel the adrenaline kicking in, urging her to fight or flee, but she ignored the instinct. There was danger here, of that she had no doubt, but that did not mean this had to end one of those two ways. They were both people, after all, capable of negotiation and diplomacy, and he was talking, which she took to be a good sign.

His questions, read from the movements of his mouth, were legitimate. If she could get out of here, the most logical thing to do, the thing most people probably would do, would be to go immediately to the nearest Rothen military outpost and report what she’d seen. Of course, he’d be long gone by then, but it wouldn’t matter. The point would be that she was protecting herself from any accusation of harboring a fugitive.

But that wasn’t what she was going to do, because logic meant nothing if it was only applied to save herself. She didn’t want to report someone whose only crime had been working for a now-toppled religious order. He’d be killed if he were found, and nobody deserved that. She decided to reply honestly. “I suspect that I would be executed,” she replied, still quiet, still measured. “At the very least, I would be put on trial for high treason. The same would likely happen to my parents, whether I ever told them you were here or not.”

The truth was, it was a heavy thing to think about, to ponder. Ainsley could sometimes be cavalier about her own safety; that was something that had been true of her since she was a little girl. But her parents, people she cared about—that was a different matter. The very thought of her father being hauled to a tribunal, of her mother being dragged off to some prison where she might never be treated for her condition… it was truly terrifying.

And yet she didn’t desire to report this encounter any more now than she had five minutes ago. Because her parents, she knew, would feel the same way as she did. They’d brought her up, after all—she knew what they valued. Because she valued the same things. She met his searching gaze with equanimity, unafraid of what any scrutiny might reveal of her. “But just because something is risky to do, or might bring suffering to me, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. What would be wrong is helping someone find you, and put you on trial for something that shouldn’t even be a crime.”

She was a scientist, really, and she’d never considered herself especially religious, not in the way her mother was or her grandparents had been. But she could see that it was obviously unjust to put a death warrant on this man’s head because of his beliefs, and the fact that he belonged to an organization the Rothen saw as a threat. If her mother or father had been standing here, they’d have offered him no less than she was. There was a certain comfort in knowing that.

“Is it really so difficult to understand that I might just want to do what I think is right?” She tilted her head to the side, wondering, not for the first time, just what it was that this man had been through. Surely he’d run into some people who were allies along the way? Plenty of people despised the Rothen, and though she was not one of them, she could imagine it motivating someone to help him. But the condition he was in… Ainsley found it difficult to imagine anyone had helped him in ages.

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He listened to the woman's words closely. He had to admit that he was rather surprised by what she was saying. To him, it sounded as if she truly believed in what she was telling him. It was not something that he was used to. On the rare occasion that he was seen by someone, most of the time they avoided him. It was the most that the majority of the planet would do for those that had once protected them.

The girl had tilted her head as she'd gone silent. Alexander's gaze simply continued to watch her. She was so strange to him. He'd never expected to meet anyone ever again that would show sympathy to those that still served the Faith. His gaze suddenly became less intense, almost appearing a bit more relaxed than he'd been only moments before. He was no longer seeing her as an immediate threat. There was still the possibility that she was a really good liar and that she was planning on turning him in the moment he let his guard down. However, Alexander was tired of running. It would be a nice change to be able to sleep a decent amount without having to worry about being found.

"Perhaps not as difficult as it should be. I feel that I must apologize to you. It is not often that I cross paths with someone who doesn't just look the other way. Most are only concerned for themselves and rightfully so. After all..we are but human." He went silent for a brief moment. He wasn't quite sure what was going on through this woman's head but he found that he was rather enjoying their conversation. It had been a long time since he'd said more than a few words to anyone. "I am Alexander Wasden,"

He'd decided that perhaps it was a good idea to introduce himself. After all, no doubt this woman was wondering exactly who she was dealing with. "Six years ago..I was known as the High Priest." He wasn't quite sure how many farther from the cities knew much about those that had filled the higher positions of the Church. Alexander had been promoted two years before the Rothen had attacked. He had become rather well known for his kindness and the acts he'd performed for those that had needed help. The Rothen sought him so fiercely because they feared that should he find other Priests or Priestesses that he would try to cause an uprising.

This was far from Alexander's mind. Currently, he was in little condition to do much fighting. He was weak and unless something changed he would not be able to fend off any attacks from the Scouts. He allowed the woman time to take in what he'd said. It wasn't everyday that one met a Priest. Suddenly, he moved to lean against the wall tiredly. He then allowed himself to slide down until he was sitting upon the floor. He looked up at the girl, continuing to watch her. "I am terribly sorry to bother you and your family so. I shall be gone first thing in the morning." He said softly. That was, of course, if he was awake in the morning.

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The young woman pursed her lips, searching her memory for any reference to the name. It was familiar to her, the way something tucked away in a history book could stir a memory. She hadn’t been especially concerned with central clergy hierarchy when she was younger, and by the time she’d moved to the city to study, she’d been neck-deep in science and literature, but she did recall something of the kind, from after the invasion. Something in the news. “Brother Wasden… you’re Brother Wasden?” She thought that was the correct title; the field clerics went by “brother” and “sister” where as those attached to church buildings were either “father” or “mother.” She indeed recalled the name Alexander Wasden; she’d thought him dead. Most people had, she thought.

Nodding slowly, she let herself smile again, finally lowering her hands, though she kept them where he could easily see, even in the dim lighting. “My name is Ainsley. Ainsley Hale. This is my family’s farm, Havenstone.” Knowing her name was unusual at best, her expression became wry for a moment, before she fell silent again, squinting at him slightly in the dark so she could pick out what he was saying.

It gave her something to think about, and she chewed her lip for a moment, eyeing him with a sort of clinical speculativeness. It was a bit hard to tell because his clothes were so loose, but he didn’t exactly look to be in great shape. She estimated that, if not starving, he was at least too lean, and had likely gone a significant amount of time without proper nutrition. He was also showing some signs of dehydration, which would make sense since most sources of potable water were near settlements of some kind, and he would have been avoiding those. She couldn’t tell from here if he was injured anywhere, but from the state of him, it was entirely possible.

“You’re not being a bother,” she murmured, shaking her head. “In fact, if you give me a few minutes, I might be able to do something actually worth the sentiment.” She held up a single digit, the universal signal for wait a moment, and turned to climb back down the ladder. She could say she wasn’t going to go alert anyone, but she figured that would be obvious enough when she came back.

She was moving too quickly to remember to pull her hood up as she exited into the rain storm, so she found herself considerably more damp as she headed back into the house, dripping and tracking mud all over the kitchen floor. She’d have to clean that before she turned in for the night. A quick glance confirmed that her father was still asleep in the chair, and so she took the opportunity presented, ducking into one of the guest rooms, returning with a pair of blankets and a pillow, as well as some spare men’s clothes no one would miss. These went into the bottom of a large wicker basket, and on top of them, she piled a loaf of bread left over from earlier that day, some of the early ripe tomatoes she’d picked that afternoon, half a rind of cheese, and two canteens, both filled with water from the tap. A glass bottle of milk and three apples topped it off nicely, and she remembered both a cloth napkin and a small paring knife—she couldn’t imagine the weapon kinds were very good for cutting fruit. She also grabbed her old medical bag from where it usually lay near the door, just in case.

Happy with her choices, she quietly crept back out the front door and jogged back to the barn. By the time she got there, the majority of her blonde hair was plastered to her head and neck, but she didn’t much care about that. Mounting the ladder again, she popped her head back over the floor of the loft. “Sorry for the delay.” The rest of her followed, and she hefted the large basket up onto the floor as well. “I, um… sorry I can’t offer you much more than this; we don’t eat meat, and there wasn’t much left over from dinner. But it’s food, and I promise it’s fresh, so…” She pushed the basket towards him, taking a seat on a nearby bale of hay and setting her medical bag down next to her.

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Ainsley was very shortly holding up a finger as if telling him to wait a moment. She was then heading down the ladder. Alexander watched her curiously until she was out of sight. Normally he would have taken off just a moment later but something kept him rooted to his spot. He wanted nothing more than to believe her..to put his trust in her. Truthfully, he wasn't quite sure that he had much of a choice. He felt that he was at or nearing his limit. He had to get some rest.

How long had passed, he did not know. Before long, though, Alexander heard the sounds of Ainsley moving in the barn once again. When she came into view, the man could just make her out. It seemed that having gone through the rain this time had caused her to get quite wetter than she had the first time she'd come out to the barn. His gaze went to the basket as she spoke. “I, um… sorry I can’t offer you much more than this; we don’t eat meat, and there wasn’t much left over from dinner. But it’s food, and I promise it’s fresh, so…” She moved the basket towards him and for a brief moment, Alexander wasn't quite sure what to do.

With slight curiosity upon his features, Alexander pulled the basket a bit closer and then began to move the items about. From what he could see, Ainsley had been very generous to him. More so that she should have been. Honestly, he had no idea how he would ever repay her kindness. His gaze went to her once again. "Thank you." He said before his gaze went back to the basket.

Regardless of how hungry or thirsty he was, Alexander would not allow himself to appear anything other than the collected man that he'd become over the years. The first thing he did was to begin unpacking the basket that Ainsley had put together. He was happy to see that she'd even included a change in clothes. That could wait. He then went to eating. At first, he went with the bread. It was amazing to him..to realize how much he'd missed normal food. He was so used to getting whatever he could find along the road that it was not often that he got food such as this.

He continued eating, slowly taking his fill with the items she'd brought to him. Alexander knew fully that if he was going to leave that morning, that he would need as much energy as possible. It was hard to know when his next meal would come. He then took a long drink from one of the canteens before he paused, slowly rising from his seat. He likely needed to get out of his drenched clothing and the sooner the better.

Moving past the girl, carrying the clothing with him, Alexander moved out of her sight so that he could change. He did so quickly and then hung his clothing about so that they could dry. One could only hope that they'd be ready for the trip the next day. He then returned to the woman, his gaze finding her again. "I doubt that I'll ever be able to repay you for what you've done for me." He admitted before moving back towards the basket.

He removed the blankets and pillow, setting them to the side before repacking what was left of the supplies that she'd brought to him. Once done with that, he rose once again and then took to sitting against the wall that was a bit closer to Ainsley, away from the small puddle of water that he'd left behind from his clothing earlier. "I must leave in the morning. Remaining for any longer will only put you in more danger." He said before turning his gaze to her bag that she had sitting near her. He suspected that it had medical supplies in it..just from the shape of it. He did not have any major wounds. Only a few minor scrapes or cuts from traveling through the more wooded areas earlier that day. He'd grown used to ignoring the pain and so it was only now that he'd begun to feel it. However, he would not outright tell her of them. He couldn't. Doing so would seem like weakness, at least in his eyes.

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Perhaps under most circumstances, it would be rather rude to sit there and watch another person eat, but when considered from the angle of a doctor making observations of a patient, it wasn’t strange to her at all, and she had no shame for the fact that she studied him, taking in the careful control of his movements and his obvious restraint, looking for signs of injury or anything but the crushing fatigue that was obvious. Crossing her legs beneath her on the hay bale, she propped her elbows on her knees and held her chin in her hands, slouched forward slightly to accommodate the posture.

“Think nothing of it,” she murmured in response to the words of thanks. When he took the bundle of clothing and stepped out of her line of sight, she remained where she was, quite aware of his intentions and obviously happy to grant him the requisite privacy. When he reappeared, he sat a little closer to her, and she smiled to herself.

It faded, though, when he mentioned leaving the next morning. Her lips thinned slightly, her expression becoming thoughtful. “I appreciate the consideration, but… I don’t know how far a meal and a single night’s rest will take you.” She paused, honestly considering what to do here. Letting him stay longer, as the doctor in her all but demanded, was putting herself and her family at more risk, but… letting him just leave tomorrow morning was likely to mean she’d not helped him at all. He’d still be exhausted and hungry and alone, just… a very tiny bit less than the last day.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

It was a part of the oath she’d taken, upon the beginning of her incomplete residency in a capital-city hospital. She took it seriously, and she knew what it demanded of her here. With the resolution forming in her mind, she spoke again, this time with a layer of gentle firmness underlying the words. “I invite you to remain here, as long as you need to regain your health. I know it might seem reckless or presumptuous of a stranger to say so, but… I know something of medicine, and if you’ll permit me to say so, I don’t know how long you’ll last if you keep going as you are.”

It wasn’t exactly kind to say, but it was true, and what was more, she suspected he’d know it. Forestalling what she saw as the obvious objection, she continued. “I know it’s dangerous, but… I’m obligated to assist those who need my help, just as you are. The clergy aren’t the only ones who take oaths, and I ask that you let me keep mine, for they are dear to me.” Perhaps if he saw his acquiescence as a favor to her, he’d be more willing to comply. It wasn’t exactly her preferred method of getting her way, but… he really could die if he left, and she couldn’t let that lay on her conscience.

She didn’t have it in her.

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The moment Ainsley put the invitation out for him to stay as long as he needed to regain his health, Alexander hesitated. Even though he could hear the woman's resolution, his own oath was calling for him to leave as soon as possible. Putting her and her family in such danger was not something that he wanted to do. It was his job to protect those that called Adrenica home. Even now, after all the long years that the Church had been gone. They all still upheld their vows. Just as Alexander was about to protest, Ainsley continued speaking and so he listened to her words closely.

It did not outright surprise him that she dealt in medicine. The way she'd been watching him since she'd returned had hinted at that. Her words were true, all of them. He knew full well that he was likely to die sooner rather than later if he continued the path that he was on currently. There was only so much ones body could take before it would give out. Alexander knew that he was reaching that limit and much more quickly than he would like to admit.

He sighed suddenly, his form suddenly seeming to accept that he was able to finally rest. "Very well..but, the moment I am well again I shall be leaving. I will not put you or your family into any more danger than is necessary." He just didn't have it in him to argue..not that he would have after she'd told him how much it meant to her to help someone who was in need. If this ever ended, Alexander knew that he would have to return to this place..to this woman to repay her somehow. She was going above and beyond to help someone she didn't know and it wasn't necessary.

It was then that Alexander decided to tell Ainsley where he was currently headed. "I am heading towards one of the farming communities that is located closer to the sea." He said, glancing at the woman. "I was headed to check on my family. They think me fallen and I have left it that way for a long time. If they knew that I was alive, the Rothen would likely assume that they knew my location. Which would only cause trouble for them. However, they are watched by the Rothen to make sure that I do not contact them. I haven't seen them in close to three years and I worry."

The last he'd seen of them, they'd just received the notice from the Outpost as to Alexander's capture. They'd been heartbroken and yet..he'd not been able to tell them that he was fine. It would only protect them not knowing that he still lived. He doubted that they knew they were being watched. The Rothen would not admit that they'd lost the High Priest, to this day he suspected that they maintained that he was dead. To have failed at a job was not a proud thing.

He knew that the Rothen that he escaped from still sought after him. It would only be a matter of time before he caught up. However, he could tell Ainsley about him soon enough. There was no rush. They would not think him to stop and stay somewhere for more than a few hours or so. Perhaps it would completely throw them from his trail. He could hope though as of late his luck hadn't been the best. Not including this current event. Ainsley was somewhat of a fluke as far as he was concerned. It was unlikely that he would cross another like her for a very long time.

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Ainsley couldn’t imagine having no contact with her family for a period of years. It was perhaps testament to how close they were that she’d called them at least once a week every week even with the insanity that had been her medical school schedule, back when she was living in the city. Fortunately, video calls had become the norm after her deafness had set in, meaning that she hadn’t lost that connection even after it had become less convenient to contact them. To be forcibly kept away from them, knowing that hey believed she was dead… she couldn’t imagine it, honestly.

Nodding slightly, she stood, brushing a few straws of hay from her trousers. “Then we’ll just have to make sure you recover well enough to make it to them, won’t we?” She flashed a smile. “I ought to sleep, and you should as well. I’ll be back in the morning with breakfast, okay?”

That said, she headed down the ladder, pausing before she dipped below the level of the loft floor. “Good night, Alexander.” Whether he made any reply or not, she didn’t know, because her eyes fell below the level of the loft as she took another step down, precluding her from watching him for any sign of response.



The next morning dawned clear, the plants still wet from the previous night’s rain. Ainsley, mindful of her guest in the loft, volunteered to help her mother make breakfast, and made sure that there was extra of everything, citing an unusual hunger when her mom made a comment about her overuse of ingredients.

As it happened, today was her parents’ weekly trip into town, where they’d spend a few hours at various supply shops, talking to the neighbors, selling off any not-quite-perfect produce the restaurants wouldn’t take, and picking up her mother’s medicines for the week. Normally, Ainsley accompanied them, but she begged off this time, citing her desire to mend the fence in the west paddock before the cows went back out. It wasn’t a particularly large breach, but if one of the smaller ones fit just the right way, they may be able to get out.

It was a decent-enough reason, one that certainly didn’t surprise her parents any, and the rest of breakfast passed in amiable conversation, signed and spoken, before both of the elder Hales took their leave, their old hovercraft zipping off for Linsburg, the nearest settlement large enough to contain a proper pharmacy.

As soon as they were gone, Ainsley used the leftovers from breakfast to cook a large vegetable omelet, toasting some bread and spreading it thickly with both butter and homemade jam. A bit of filching from the guest rooms also supplied her with an unused toothbrush and toothpaste in addition to a few other toiletry items, so she included those as well.

She also added a flashlight and some batteries, so that Alexander wouldn’t have to turn on the barn lights if he needed to move around at night, which would cut down on the conspicuousness of his presence considerably, and with her basket reloaded, she headed back into the barn, climbing the ladder again and setting his new supplies down. She couldn’t see him from where she was, but she figured he was probably still sleeping and decided not to wake him, making her way back down and starting in on feeding the horses.

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Her words brought a small smile to his face. He did truly hope that he would be able to see his family. He missed them and though he wasn't quite sure yet how he was going to get to them without the Rothen taking note of him..he still looked forward to that day. It was as Ainsley mentioned sleep that the man focused again on her. He nodded to her and watched as she moved, heading down the ladder. He replied to her as she bid him a good night though remained sitting for a bit longer.

He was unsure of how long he remained sitting there before he finally rose from his seat. Alexander moved slowly, taking the blankets and pillow before moving to an area that was fairly hidden. He wasn't that worried about anyone coming across him while he slept. It was..more habit than anything else. He made a makeshift bed quickly before he took a deep breath. The sound of rain pounding about would certainly serve to lull him to sleep even quicker.

Alexander made sure that the area was fairly tidy before he slowly laid down. It certainly wasn't a true bed though it was much more comfortable than anything he'd slept on for a good while. He was grateful for a reprieve, even if it was for a short time. He moved a bit, getting comfortable before allowing his eyes to close. It took only a few moments before he was completely out for the night.




Due to the extreme exhaustion that Alexander was suffering from, he slept quite peacefully. As he came to the next morning, he began picking up on the sounds of someone below. The man froze for a moment, his mind not having fully woken yet. However, after a short moment he relaxed. Regardless of who was below, it was certainly not the Rothen. Slowly, he rose to a sitting position. Running a hand over his face, Alexander sighed softly before he pushed the top blanket from his form. He then rose, trying to determine just who was below.

He knew that he didn't want to be found by anyone else. It would only make things more complicated. Standing for what seemed like forever, Alexander finally determined that whoever was below was paying no mind to anything that they'd perhaps heard from above. He then proceeded to check on his clothing. The cloth was still fairly damp, not that he was that surprised. He regarded it for a moment. He knew that he'd need to pick up a few extra sets the next time that he was near one of the major cities. There were usually stashed supplies hidden about that had been placed by other Priests during their travels.

No need to think on that now. He knew that, in truth, it would take him a good while before he would be fully recovered from his current state. His gaze suddenly landed on Ainsley's basket. It seemed that she'd already stopped by. He made his way over to it, looking to see what she'd dropped off. The food was the first to catch his attention. Alexander pulled the items out and then made his way over to the wall, sitting down. He then began eating.

It was odd to him, actually having another meal after his last. Though, he was not complaining. In fact, he was rather happy at the thought. It didn't take him long to finish before he was up again and pulling the rest of the items from the basket. A toothbrush and toothpaste soon caught his eye. He'd run out a few days earlier and so the items were a welcome sight. He went about the next few minutes as any other person would and then put the supplies that Ainsley had left in an area off to the side and out of the way.

Slowly, he finally moved towards the ladder. He leaned over just enough to be able to see what was going on below. "Ainsley..Ainsley?" He tried calling to her. After a moment it seemed to him that she was either ignoring him or she couldn't hear him. He hesitated for only a short moment before he stated down the ladder. It didn't take him long to reach the ground and then he approached her. He gently placed a hand upon her shoulder, knowing that it very well might frighten her. He didn't quite understand. The night before she'd spoken to him as if she'd heard everything he'd said. "Did you not hear me?" He asked her gently as he gazed at her.

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Mucking stalls was hardly glamorous work, but Ainsley had been doing chores like this since she was a small child, and completed it now with a sort of elegant efficiency—it took at most ten minutes before all the hay was clean, and after putting the pitchfork away, she went about feeding the animals as well—oats and bran for the horses, alfalfa and other grains for the cows, and food scraps and less-ideal produce for the pigs. She was scattering feed for the chickens, who milled about at her feet, when a shadow fell over her work.

She wasn’t quick enough in reaction to prevent the hand from touching her shoulder, not that she minded much. It was really the best way to get her attention. She didn’t startle, just turned, catching the tail end of Alexander’s question and inferring the rest. Sighing slightly, she shook her head. “I’m afraid not. I’m actually deaf, you see. It’s not much of a problem since I can read lips, but that’s a bit useless when I can’t see someone either.”

She didn’t seem especially concerned about it, and indeed she’d reached a certain kind of peace on the matter. She’d always miss being able to hear, especially music, but in a way, it made her more acutely aware of what her other senses could do. She was sure she’d never been able to smell or taste so finely as she could now, and while it wasn’t exactly compensation, it was at least interesting.

But she assumed he must have something to say to her, else he wouldn’t have climbed down to get her attention, so she tilted her head to the side, almost an invitation for him to elaborate. Of course, not everyone interpreted body language the same way, especially not that of a near-stranger, so she also spoke. “Was there something else you needed? My parents have left for the day, if you’d like to use the shower in the guest room. I don’t imagine hot water is common on the road.”

Actually, she wasn’t sure what amenities he’d had or lacked access to, but the safer bet seemed to be that he’d lacked most, if he couldn’t even eat regularly. She mentally calculated that it would probably take at least a couple weeks to recover from persistent malnutrition, longer if he really wanted to be back up in top form. But she expected he wouldn’t want to stay that long, so she made the mental note that she needed to find a way to get extra food for two to three weeks, and thought she might have to make a trip into town by herself to secure it without her parents’ knowledge. Part of her wanted to tell them about Alexander, but that was his choice more than hers, and she wasn’t going to press it.

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His gaze rested on Ainsley calmly as she answered him. He'd not picked up on the fact that she could not hear. Of course, the night before he'd not been paying as close attention as he should have been. He was impressed with how well she seemed to interact with others, regardless of her loss. "I never would have guessed." He said simply. She didn't seem too bothered by the fact that she could not hear. Something that surprised Alexander. He imagined that most would not have taken so well to it.

Ainsley continued speaking and Alexander took in her words. Moving about during the day was not something that he'd done very often over the past few years. The thought of it struck him as odd. He doubted that they were close enough to a neighbor that anyone would notice him. Yet, he hesitated at the thought. Could he even bring himself to step out? He wasn't quite sure. "I simply had wanted to thank you once again." He said with a small nod to her.

He paused for only a short moment before he continued. "You would be correct, however. It is rare for me to come across hot water. If you are certain that you do not mind, I would be quite happy to use the shower." He suddenly offered her a smile. He wanted to make sure that Ainsley truly didn't mind him intruding in her family's home. He waited long enough for her to speak before nodded to her.

The man allowed Ainsley to lead the way. He followed a few good steps behind her, trying to give her space. His gaze shifted about as they made way towards the home. He worried that the Rothen..or someone else would spot him and then it would be over for the girl that walked in front of him. However, she seemed to understand the risks that she was taking. Within a few moments, Alexander was walking into the home .

He took in everything that he could about the building. The first thing that caught his attention was the pictures that were about the room they were in. It was easy to see that Ainsley took after her parents and suddenly, Alexander felt even worse about staying on their property. If he was discovered, the Rothen would rip them apart. Pausing at one of the photos, Alexander, regarded it closely before turning his gaze to Ainsley. "Have you told them?" He asked her suddenly. He would have expected her to. Most would have.

He was silent for some time, allowing her time to speak if she wished it before continuing towards the guest room. He didn't know her family at all and he certainly didn't know Ainsley well at all either. There was no telling how her family would reacted to knowing that they were helping a Priest. He soon was left alone and he was moving within the bathroom. Alexander turned the water on for the shower, adjusting the temperature easily enough. He then began removing the clothing that Ainsley had lent him the night before.

He folded them, sitting them upon the counter and then got into the shower. The feeling of the warm water running over his form was a welcome feeling. It had been forever since he'd been able to get a shower. He allowed his eyes to close, tilting his head back to allow the water more access him. It seemed that he was already feeling better. Why, he wasn't entirely sure but definitely getting food and rest likely had a great deal to do with it.

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Fortunately, she hadn’t had to try insisting to get him to acquiesce. She could understand his caution—the Rothen were vigilant, she knew, and they would doubtless be very invested in hunting him, specifically, but this place was so far away from any major population center that they got inspected maybe twice a year, and the last one had been fairly recent, so if all went according to schedule, Alexander would be long gone before she’d ever have to worry about hiding him from actual soldiers. Of course, those tailing him may be closer at hand than that, and she made a note to herself to show him the safest ways off the farm as quickly as possible.

Letting him precede her into the house, she shut the door gently behind him and led him through the sitting room towards the guest room, pausing when he stopped to glance at some of the photographs on the mantel of the fireplace. She smiled softly at her favorite—one taken many years ago now, just before she headed off to the city. Ainsley had her arm slung casually over her father’s broad shoulders, the grey in his hair barely a hint at the temples back then. They were both grinning like fools, his eyes crinkled at the corners and identical dimples on their cheeks. Her mother had been laughing when she took the photo, and as a result it was slightly blurry, but it had been framed nonetheless, placed here with a few others.

Cooper, the family’s old Irish Setter, had glanced up from where he was asleep on the rug when they entered, eyeing the stranger for a moment, but not barking or otherwise making a fuss because of Ainsley’s obvious lack of distress. She patted the hound on his head, his ear flopping about as she scratched behind it. “No,” she said quietly. “They wouldn’t mind, but… whether they know is your choice to make, not mine.” He was the one who was running for his life, after all—she didn’t want to do anything he’d be uncomfortable with. Something told her he’d had enough discomfort for one lifetime.

Whilst her guest headed off to use the facilities, she gathered a few other items of clothing that had been left in the room and put them in a small pile on the end of the bed, making sure there were also towels present, and then left, shutting the door to the guest room behind her and setting about tidying the house, largely for something to do with herself, and also in part to wash the dishes they’d used on breakfast, which she hadn’t done yet.

She hummed softly as she worked, more for the familiarity of it than anything, wiping down the counters and then giving Cooper an early lunch since she’d probably outside for the rest of the afternoon.

Ainsley caught it out of the corner of her eye when Alexander emerged from the guest room, and smiled over at him. “I think you could use a tour?” she proffered thoughtfully. “There are better and worse ways to leave here in a hurry, you know, in case. And, well, doesn’t hurt to know your surroundings, right?”

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He finally opened his eyes and began to bathe. He had to admit that he was..glad that his and Ainsley's paths had crossed. He wouldn't have been able to continue for much longer. He knew that. However, he'd had little choice. Returning with the Rothen wasn't an option. He was likely to be made an example of to warn others what happens when running. He sighed softly at the thought. It wasn't that he right out feared for his own safety. He'd crossed paths with those following him several times over the past few years. He knew that he could fair against them. However, there were still others out there that needed help.

Alexander still actively followed his vows even on the run. He'd come across several upon the road that he'd aided as he'd been able to and it had only served to strengthen his resolve. The first step was getting to his family and finally telling them that he was alive. Once things started happening they would all be in danger and he couldn't start things in that way. He had plenty of time to worry about all of that. He still had to get to his family's home and then afterwards contact a fellow Priest. The latter of which would take some time unless he could find the other man earlier on the journey.

He finished up with the shower and then turned the water off. Then, he moved out of the shower slowly. It felt odd to him, going about the day in such a fashion, so far. It had been a long time since he'd done anything similar to a normal day. He paused at the mirror, gazing at himself. He at least looked a bit less a mess than he had just the night before. However, the mark that was permanently inked upon his face still showed just as plain as it always did. Alexander didn't care for it..he'd almost say that he hated it. However, there could be worse things done to captured Priests and Priestesses.

Continuing, Alexander slowly made his way into the bedroom to find that Ainsley had placed a change of clothing and towels upon the bed for him. He smiled as he reached for the towels. He the proceeded to dry off quickly and then dressed. The last thing that he did was to place the used towels in the bathroom with the clothes he'd had on before. Exiting the bedroom, Alexander's gaze quickly locked onto Ainsley as she was cleaning. She noticed him nearly immediately, offering him a smile that he returned.

Before he could say anything, Ainsley was suggest a tour of the property. In response, he tilted his head slightly as he listened to her. She made a rather good point. "Yes. It would probably be a good idea. But, let us hope that particular instance does not come to pass." The only reason that he'd need to leave quickly would be if the Rothen had discovered him. That would also mean that Ainsley and her family would be apprehended as well.

Alexander hesitated for a short moment before he continued. "Speaking of which, I was thinking. If you wish it, I do not mind you telling your parents. I will leave it your choice." He felt that perhaps they should know. His presence was placing them in danger. However, he thought that Ainsley could decide. Regardless, he did not mind. He smiled at her, waiting for her to lead the way.

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Ainsley nodded slightly, her expression appreciative. She would have to do some serious thinking before she decided how or when to tell her parents, but as a rule, she didn’t like keeping things from them, especially not important things, and so she knew that she would eventually let them know. What she hadn’t decided on yet was how soon that would be. But this was something to contemplate later.

For now, Alexander had agreed to the idea of touring the property, and almost despite herself, Ainsley was excited about it. They rarely received visitors; she couldn’t recall the last time she’d been able to share her home with someone this way. Maybe not since high school, and admittedly, Jeremy and Anna hadn’t been that interested in trudging through the fields with her. Maybe Alexander wasn’t either, but at least this would provide him with some useful information.

Tapping her hand against her knee several times, she gained Cooper’s attention, and he came obediently to heel, following her out as she headed back through the front door, pausing to pull her boots back on before she led Alexander back down the stairs, this time striking eastwards, away from the barn.

The silence was comfortable, or maybe she just thought that because her entire world was silence. Whatever the case, she didn’t feel particular need to speak as they went, letting one of her hands rest gently on Cooper’s head and breaking her quiet only occasionally, to point out some feature or another of the landscape to Alexander. The eastern field backed into a wooded area, which would be good cover in the event an escape was necessary. The farmhouse itself and the barn occupied most of the north and west, and to the south were the pastures, which she let the animals out into once they headed that way.

“We used to have sheep, too,” she said thoughtfully. “But real wool’s even more valuable than real food, as I’m sure you know. Someone stole them all a couple of years ago.” Her brow furrowed slightly, but it didn’t upset her exactly. More like… she hoped the sheep were okay, that someone hadn’t just killed them for the meat or something. Then again, if someone was desperate enough to do that, maybe it had been necessary.

“There’s not really a gate out this way, but the fence shouldn’t be too hard to hop. It’s just wood—no barbed wire or electricity or anything.” They’d come to a stop on a high point in the pasture, the grass well up to Ainsley’s knees, though it was less tall on Alexander, of course. It swayed slightly in a breeze she could feel but not hear, flattening for a moment before standing up again, carrying the smell of late-summer flowers.

It was then that she noted one of the horses had come up behind them and was nudging Alexander’s shoulder rather insistently, and she stifled a laugh. “Sorry. I should have warned you about him.” Patting her pockets, she made a small sound of satisfaction and produced a red apple from her pocket, holding it out to Alexander. “Feed him and you’ve got a friend for life.”

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His gaze watched Ainsley as she moved to gain her dog's attention. Within a short moment, the animal had gone to the woman's side. Alexander followed after the pair slowly as they headed towards the door. They paused long enough for Ainsley to put her boots on before they exited the house and then began walking the property. Alexander walked a bit closer to the woman than he had earlier though still made sure that there was a decent amount of space between them.

The moment they'd stepped outside of the house, his focus had been completely taken by their surroundings. He needed to make sure that he knew how to get away if the need arose. They headed in a direction that he'd not been too yet and he made sure to take in as much as he could. Silence seemed to surround them and in all honesty he didn't mind it at all. It allowed him to concentrate much better. Only once in a while did Ainsley break their silence in order to speak of something that she thought he needed to know.

She was soon speaking of sheep that they'd once had. He wasn't surprised to hear that the animals had been taken. What did surprise him was that their other animals were left behind. Of course, it was likely much easier to take the sheep than the others. They were lucky, however, that they did have so much. Even if it didn't appear that way at a first glance. As they came to a stop, Ainsley pointed out that there was no gate but even before she'd mentioned it he'd guessed that it would be easy enough to get over the fence.

Alexander looked before them, more than happy to be out in the sunlight for once. It was hard, traveling only at night. Perhaps it wasn't so bad being stuck on this farm. It was a nice change from what he was used to. Suddenly, Alexander felt something nudging at his shoulder persistently. He turned his gaze behind to find a horse eyeing him and trying to get his attention. Ainsley apologized for the horse's actions and then produced a apple, holding it out to him. He took the apple from her before turning his attention back to the horse. A smile found its way to his face as he offered the creature the fruit.

"You know, I grew up on a farm. It's probably a bit smaller than yours..and closer to the sea, but a farm nonetheless." He said as he watched the horse enjoying the treat. "We had quite a few different animals but the horses were always my favorite." He paused once again, his gaze becoming a bit more preoccupied looking than before. "My father liked to tell me that I should have pursued something in farming as that would have made more sense than running off to the Capitol."

Suddenly he was smiling again. He didn't regret his decision. He doubted that he ever would. Alexander was happy to be a Priest and he would spend his remaining days as such. Gently, he began petting the horse. He'd always found it relaxing and was more than happy to have even just a moment with the creature.

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Ainsley grinned upon his recounting of the story. It was kind of funny, how she had such an obvious commonality with someone who would seem, on the face of things, to be so utterly different. “My mother was the same, actually. I was accepted to medical school in the capital, so I was really excited to go, to see something beyond this. She would have preferred that I stayed, I think.” She shook her head slightly, a few strands of aureate hair near her face pulling free of her braid to tickle her cheeks and neck.

“Dad was different, though. He thought I should see it, see what life was like there, at least once in my life.” Her brows knit together for a moment, and she sighed. Not that it made a whole lot of difference in the end. She was educated, to be sure, and she knew what life was like outside of this small portion of the world, but she’d been drawn back to it all the same, by circumstances she could not control.

She wondered, sometimes, what she would have chosen, if she’d had a choice. If her mother hadn’t fallen ill.

But there wasn’t much point in wondering. What had happened had happened, and this was where she was, for now and the foreseeable future. All that remained was to make the best of it, something she tried to do with any situation she found herself in. Tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, she reached out and patted the horse’s flank. Rabastan was the most social of all the horses, Jester the shyest, but none of them was averse to attention.

“That pretty much concludes the tour,” she told him, nodding slightly towards the barn and house, which they’d circled back to after about an hour out on the property in total. “You’re welcome to any of the veggies in the field if you get hungry before I come by at some point, and I’m sure the animals won’t mind a visitor, if the need for fresh air gets to you.”

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He listened as she spoke of her parents and their feelings of her leaving to go to school. He couldn't hep but wonder why she was staying at home if she'd finished her training. However, it was none of his business and so he opted for saying nothing to the subject. Instead, he focused upon the the words she was now saying. Alexander turned his gaze back towards the barn and house as Ainsley had nodded in that direction. Her kindness was something that was still surprising him.

"Thank you. I'll remember that." He said with a small smile. "I should probably head back in." He didn't say so to her, but he knew that the longer he was out in the open the more the risk went up. He didn't want to cause any trouble for Ainsley or her family. He began walking back towards the barn though was slow enough that Ainsley could catch up easily to him if she wished it.

As he walked, Alexander's gaze was constantly looking about, watching for any sign of those that pursued him. He was fairly confident that they would have already passed this location, having assumed that Alexander would continue through the storm. However, he suspected that they would turn around when they realized that there was no sign of him. Honestly, he worried. When that happened, they were likely to start checking the properties that ran in the direction that he'd been headed.

Alexander doubted that they would just simply give up. The price that was on his head was high and the Rothen that was hunting him would not give up so easily. The trek to the barn did not seem to take a long time and within a few minutes, he was inside once again. He then made his way up into the loft and made his way to where he'd left his bag the night before. He took a seat and then opened it slowly, pulling out a book that look nearly as worn as the bag it had come out of. Then, he pulled out a pencil.

He'd taken to writing down things here and there. Not that any of it was that important to anyone but him, though..he found that it help to keep him sane. He did not plan on allowing anyone to ever read it, he'd likely just destroy it if things ever turned around, but..it did give him something to do. Alexander knew that waiting around Ainsley's home was a good thing, he would return to the state he'd been in before running. It was just the fact that he wasn't used to sitting still for any amount of time. It was a change and he knew that once he started getting better, he'd have to start getting back into shape.

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One week later, and they’d settled into a comfortable routine. Ainsley had indeed informed her parents about the priest staying in their hayloft, and though there had been some strain at first, it hadn’t taken much for her parents to agree that sheltering Alexander here was the right thing. He was free to come and go through the house as he chose; they’d given him the spare key and told him the guest room was his for as long as he wanted to use it, whether he preferred to sleep there or in the much more secluded loft was left up to him. But at the very least, he had a shower and a sink and all that sort of thing, and it wouldn’t be too conspicuous if searched, since Ainsley’s uncle was a common visitor to the home.

She’d also gotten ahold of Alexander’s original clothes, subjecting them to some considerable laundering and then the point of a needle, patching up all of the holes that had managed to accumulate on the road. She was actively keeping a mental list of things to gather together for him before he set out again, so he’d at least be supplied on his way home to his family. She added a small sewing kit, just in case. It wouldn’t weigh much of anything, but had a number of uses, from stitching clothes to stitching wounds, though she dearly hoped there wouldn’t be a need for that.

A week had proven what she’d already thought would be the case: he wasn’t an imposition at all, actually, and once things had smoothed over with her parents, they’d been happy to talk to him as well. Her mother had recognized him as the former High Priest immediately, being a rather religious woman, and that fact alone had quelled her protests. Her father had been slightly more cautious, but he was every bit as stubbornly benevolent as Ainsley, and in the end, he’d agreed that there was no way they could leave someone to fend for himself in such a condition as Alexander was in.

As of yet, Alexander hadn’t left the farm, but today, Ainsley had something slightly more adventurous in mind. It was clear that he’d started to think about reconditioning himself recently, now that he was eating regularly and sleeping again. There were, of course, plenty of ways to do that around a farm, but it seemed less than ideal to be confined to a few square miles of property all the time, especially when most of what there was to do was chores and the like. So she’d given the matter some thought and hatched a plan.

Pocketing a small glass bottle of something, she headed outside in an effort to locate her houseguest.

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A week had passed since he'd found himself at Havenstone. Having to remain in one place for so long was not something that he was used to. He'd had to fight the urge to simply leave in the middle of the night a few times. In the end, he hadn't. He simply couldn't do that to Ainsley. He was fully aware of how it would bother her since he was not fully 'better' yet. He'd met her parents, both of which he found that he rather liked. It was because he liked all of them that he was constantly worrying. He feared that they would suffer for their help. However, he was trying not to allow such thoughts to plague him too awfully bad. It would do him no good. He should not allow himself to become too close to them. It would only end in disaster.

Alexander had spent much of the past week trying to remain unseen by the outside world. Not such a hard feat considering he'd spent the past few years doing so everyday. Though Ainsley's family had given him a key, he'd not used it much. He'd just felt..odd using it and going about their home unchecked. The only times that he'd gone in was to shower. Each time that he'd ventured into the home, whoever was around had always been kind to him.

The previous night, Alexander had slept in the spare bedroom for the first time. It had been so long since he'd been able to actually sleep in a bed and it had felt wonderful. Still, he rose before Ainsley and her family and had gone back out to the loft. He'd spent the next short while simply reading as he did every morning from the Holy Book. All those that served the Church were required to do so a minimum of twice a day. Even though their numbers were slowly fading away, he was required to still follow that which was required of his position.

He'd not left the farm since he'd arrived. Not that he minded. It was just that he needed to begin getting into shape, something that he was painfully aware of. He would be no good to anyone in this condition and he had several people that depended upon him and he could not let them down. Once he'd finished with his reading for the morning, Alexander put the old book back into his bag and refastened it shut. He then straightened his clothes and made his way down the ladder once again.

Once on the ground, Alexander made his way out to the pasture that he and Ainsley had visited when she'd given him the tour. The horses were out and within a few moments, Rabastan was making his way over to the Priest. Alexander was happy to given the horse attention though within a few moments of standing there, the Priest spotted Ainsley. He said nothing, however, unsure if she was busy or not. He chose to continue giving the horse the attention that he clearly wanted.

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“Good morning, Alexander.” Ainsley approached where he was standing with Rabastan, a small smile taking up residence on her face. It seemed he was getting a little more comfortable being around the farm, which was good. It wouldn’t be much of a rest and recovery if he was anxious to leave the whole time. Hopefully, this would only hasten his recovery, but she wasn’t going to count on that alone, hence her other plans.

“I was planning on going hiking up into the hills today, if you wanted to come along. I’ve found that it’s really good exercise.” It also didn’t have to be any more arduous than they wanted it to be, so if he came as well, he could set whatever pace was comfortable to walk at, and still benefit from the excursion.

Of course, though the hills weren’t part of the town, there was still definitely the danger that someone would come across them, and so she fished the bottle out of her pocket and held it up. Inside was a viscous substance, recognizable as concealment plaster, which was formulated to take on the color of whatever it was applied to. “We can cover the mark, which should stop anyone from recognizing you at a distance.” Especially since he was currently wearing ordinary clothes and not anything affiliated with the priesthood.

She might have preferred to take him into town, but she recognized that the risk involved was probably more than he wanted to deal with. Besides, a hike would be better for his reconditioning, and the chances of running into anyone were minimal anyhow.

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When Ainsley spoke in greeting, the Priest smiled at her. "Good morning, Ainsley." He replied in a fairly light tone. His gaze had turned to the woman, eyeing her as she came to stand with him. A short moment later, the woman was continuing, speaking of hiking. Alexander was silent for a moment as he thought over the invitation. There was the risk that someone would see them. It was something that he didn't want to risk. If that happened, then Ainsley and her family would be in danger. He suspected that she knew that and yet she still offered to allow him to join her.

Just before he could turn her down, Ainsley was suddenly holding up a small bottle. Alexander's gaze quickly shifted to the item, looking at it carefully. It was easy to see that it was a concealment plaster. Though it would hide the brand that sat upon his forehead, if inspected carefully it would be all too easy to see that something sat beneath. Even the Rothen had supposedly developed a device that could reveal to them when someone was hiding beneath the plaster. This meant that they didn't even need to inspect the person.

Alexander suddenly nodded to her. "I don't see much harm in joining you, if you are certain that you do not mind the company." He said, turning his gaze back to her. He couldn't see much harm in going with her. Worst case scenario, if they ran into someone he could take off. However, the chance of them running into someone couldn't be too very high. "If you wouldn't mind, perhaps you would help me in applying the plaster?" He asked her kindly.

He doubted that he'd be able to cover the brand completely without a mirror and it would be quicker if she just went about the task herself. He waited for her to speak before he moved a bit closer to the woman. His gaze remained steady on her as he waited for her to help him. He was looking forward to getting away from the farm. Even if it was for a short while. It wasn't that he was tired of the place or the people..it just had been so long since he'd had to stay still for so long.

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Ainsley nodded slightly, remaining where she was as Alexander stepped closer. Considering how tall she was, she had to stand on her toes to really see what she was doing. Plasters required a deft touch, else the coating end up obviously lumpy or on some other way not natural in appearance. That said, she was used to applying medical gel layers to seal up wounds, and the basic principle was the same.

Unstoppering the bottle, she plugged it with the pad of her index finger and upended it, coating the digit with the viscous, sticky plaster and rising onto the balls of her feet. It was a little closer than polite company usually got, and it felt a little strange, standing here in the middle of this pasture with all this space, and being so close in proximity. She didn’t think too much of it, though—it might be odd, but it was necessary, and so she didn’t fuss about it, instead smoothing the first stroke of plaster over the vertical line of the mark, watching with some interest as the plaster changed color to match the surrounding skin on his brow.

Repeated applications were necessary before the brand was fully concealed, and then she used both hands to smooth it to a uniform shape, leaving what appeared to be unblemished skin behind. “Huh,” she murmured, letting herself fall back onto her heels and tilting her head to the side. “You look quite a bit different this way. But then I suppose that’s the whole point.”

She stowed the bottle in her pocket and stepped away, but a sense of oddness lingered for some reason she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Brushing off the little remnants of plaster still on her hands, she made a gesture towards the hill she intended for them to hike.

“Shall we?”

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Alexander watched Ainsley as she opened the bottle and then soon rose a bit so that she could reach his forehead. He bent his head forward a bit, so as to make it easier on the woman since she was shorter than he was. The Priest was fully aware of their proximity and he couldn't say that he was comfortable with it. It wasn't that he was unused to being so close to someone else. It was..simply odd after so long. As Ainsley began smoothing the plaster over his skin, Alexander's gaze calmly rested on the woman.

To him, she seemed rather interested in her task and so he remained silent. The longer they remained close, the more relaxed he seemed to become. Ainsley continued with her task and soon enough she was finished. Alexander moved his head back to a more normal position as the woman suddenly tilted her head to the side as she looked at him. The words that she then spoke caused the Priest to look at Ainsley with slight anxiety.

He wasn't sure quite sure how to take her comments. Thinking on it, he supposed that her words were nothing but truth. However, he suddenly smiled at her. "Yes. I imagine that there is little other reason for it." He said in regards to the mark that sat hidden upon his forehead. Ainsley had put the plaster away and was soon gesturing towards a hill. Alexander turned his attention to the location, eyeing it.

It was not often that he ever gave much attention to the brand that had been placed upon him. He didn't care for it and he wondered if Ainsley could see that. There was little that could be done to change it and so there was little point worrying himself about it. What did worry him was how much he already cared for Ainsley and her family.

Ainsley's words broke his thought and Alexander nodded to her. He was unfamiliar with their course though he suspected that the woman would not allow them to get lost. He began in the direction of the hill though walked slow enough so that Ainsley could walk as close to him as she wished. He hoped that they would not cross many people, if any at all. He certainly wouldn't know how to handle the situation.

As they began their walk together, Alexander could not help but to keep his gaze moving about them, quite obviously looking out for any sign of Rothen. It was a habit that he'd picked up after nearly three years running from them. He was silent for the time being, simply unable to just enjoy their walk together at the moment.

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