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Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances

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1 Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:41 pm

Despite Zenovia's reassurance, I'm still a bundle of excitement and anxiety once we reach the little gate town just on the other side of the wall that marks the end of the "free" territories - ironic considering they call this side of the wall the Free Marches. Everyone we pass gets the side-eyed glance of distrust and thinly veiled curiosity, and I spend most of my night peeking out the window, anxiously watching the people below.

Even when no one is there, I can see the shadows move, strange and unfamiliar shapes flitting under the street lamps and then disappearing when they leave the little circle of light. Now, I'd grown familiar with the things that go bump in the night back when I was in my own little town - and again when I was forced to move on to a bigger, more menacing city. But the shadows here are different. Strange. Like the people, everything has changed as Zenovia and I have crossed region after region. I suppose it only stands to reason that the things that live beside this place would change with them.

Still, it isn't until Zenovia returns in the small hours of the morning that I'm granted any reprieve from the constant glimpses of things I'd rather not see while sitting alone in a dark room, futilely chasing some kind of rest. As she comes in, moving quietly in an attempt to not disturb me, I glance back at her and stretch out in the window seat with a tired sigh and a soft smile. I'd known the moment she'd stepped foot in the hall, her presence making the shadow I'd been watching disappear.

Her proximity used to scare me. The way she could shut me down without lifting a finger... but now it's like a soothing balm applied to a raw nerve. I feel safe with her. Nothing can tear its way through when she's around. Not unless we both want it to.

Unfortunately, that also means that I'm painfully aware of when she leaves. Like tonight, I'd started out fast asleep, but the moment she'd left: I knew. The bump of something under the dresser had startled me awake, left me scrambling to the head of my bed and away from the noise, before I'd crawled over my nightstand and into the light of the window seat. It had taken me far too long to calm the frightened flutter of my heart after that.

But I'd never tell Zenovia any of this.

"Is it time to go already?" I ask, pretending to have just woken up as I stretch and yawn lazily.

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I'm not surprised to see Aodhagan stirring as I finish gathering the last of my things, though the fact he's curled into the window seat is a bit confusing. Still, I choose not to react to the peculiar change as I snap the clasps on my bag, picking it up to set near the door as I look back at him with a slight smile. 

"Not quite," I offer, coming around to sit on the foot of the bed. "I was down in the tavern talking to a few local guardians, and I might have spotted someone we can ask for a ride into the Capital. He got carted off to morning prayers, though, so it'll be a bit before I need to go back down to find him."

I look him over once I'm finished updating him, sighing a bit sadly as I tilt my head. "Did you get a bit of sleep?"

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"Yeah," I lie, any residual tiredness leaving me as the mention of getting a ride to the Capital. Frowning, I sit up straighter as I pull the blanket further up into my lap. "I thought we agreed we weren't driving? Now we're catching a ride? With another guardian??"

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"The capital is too far to walk, Aodh, and there just aren't as many options for travel." I frown half-heartedly. "Getting a ride will have us getting you situated into your circle within a week."

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"But-," I frown, squirming uncomfortably over my own fussiness. "I don't like cars... I get carsick."

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"Then we'll try it. If, at the first town, you decide you don't like it, we'll find another way." I offer with a soft smile, "But it's getting cold, the snows are starting. I really do want you to give this an honest effort."

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I make a face at that before sighing as I look back out the window. "Yeah, okay," I mumble quietly for a moment. "This other guardian... was he like you? Did he seem nice?"

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"He did more listening than talking," I shrug, "Seemed a bit stern, maybe, but I gathered he's another guardian like myself." I say reassuringly before rising so I can ensure all of Aodh's items are together. "He's heading for the Capital, and I believe he has his own charge, too."

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"You mean, someone like me?" I ask, perking up a little bit as I turn to drop my feet on the floor. I'm a little leery as I get up, my gaze darting toward the dresser a couple of times as though expecting whatever I'd heard earlier to come flying out at us. When it doesn't, I relax a little and start helping Zenovia gather my things.

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10 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:42 am

"Maybe," I shrug with a slight grin, "I didn't see them, but if I heard correctly, he's bringing someone to the capital. So you won't be stuck in a vehicle with just a couple of surly old guardians."

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11 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:45 am

I grin at that and shrug as I start putting things into my bag. "I don't mind all that," I admit a little sheepishly.

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12 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:50 am

"No," I smile, reaching over to run my fingers in his curls before stepping around to make my bed. "You wouldn't."

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13 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:52 am

"So is this what it's like for you guys?" I ask curiously. "You just go around finding folks like me and bringing them home with you?"

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14 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:57 am

"For the guardians like me?" I nod as I tug my sheets up and start straightening them out, "Yeah, basically. But there are others who never leave the Free Marches. They stay in the various cities, either policing, or overseeing the circles, or a few other odd jobs...

"I always wanted to be a recruiter, though, so I can never remember the others off the top of my head." I add with a laugh.

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15 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:59 am

"Have you found a lot like me, then?" I ask as I start mirroring what she's doing, occasionally glancing back to make sure I'm doing it right.

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"You're the fourth person I've brought back," I say matter-of-factly, "But you're the first one who's anything like you.

"The others, they were a good deal older."

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"Oh," I respond a little hallowly, the blanket in my hand going slack as I give up trying to straighten it and pull it as tightly as she had on her own bed.

"I guess I'm just really good at messing things up, huh?" I say, trying to I inject a little humor into my voice as I smile back at her, though my posture betrays my sullenness.

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"Hmm?" I hum back, finishing the bed with a flattened pillow at the head before looking up at him.

"Don't be silly, the others were really boring."

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19 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:17 pm

"What brought you to them then?" I ask curiously as I turn to plop down on my poorly made bed. "Did they do anything? Or just get lucky?"

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20 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:45 pm

With my bed made, I move to sit at the table near the door, my legs crossing as I look at him thoughtfully. 

"Well, my first job was an assignment, not entirely unlike yours, but not exactly the same. I knew who I was going to find before I ever left the Marches. More like I was going to just pick someone up." I explain, "After that, the next one was fleeing charges - for what, I can't remember - but she had happened across a colleague doing missionary work, and word was sent for me to meet him so I could retrieve her.

"The one before you, though, was a similar situation to yours. Only whisperings of something peculiar going on in a town just east of Hegburn, a few weeks west of where I'd found you. A mage was suspected, and I was sent to investigate. It took a bit of time, but I was able to track down an elderly man who's gift was becoming unmanageable due to his age. He's living in the Capital now, mostly muted, but on his clear days he's trained and exercised so he can still enjoy his gift."

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21 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:49 pm

"That's sad," I frown, watching her with rapt attention. "And a little scary... to live your whole life fighting for control only to lose your grip when you get older? I couldn't imagine how frightening that must have been for him."

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22 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:04 pm

"He'd actually spent much of his life hiding his gift, it was what brought it to the Chantry's attention to begin with. No one knew what was causing the plants to die around the village, whole crops were shriveling up." I frown softly, "But he's in a much better state now. I drop in to visit him whenever I'm in the capital, and his room is covered, floor to ceiling with plants."

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23 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:11 pm

"That's sweet," I grin, shift restlessly as I draw my hands inside of my sleeves. "Can I meet him when we go through there? "

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24 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:15 pm

"Of course," I smile, "I think you'd really like Gregory, and he loves the company. On his good days, he loves to show off. I think he enjoys being able to openly practice."

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25 Re: Hitchhiker's Guide to Awkward Circumstances on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:24 pm

"I'm sure," I nod. "Sometimes I dreams about that. About what it might be like. People liked it so much when I could draw them a picture or make flowers appear from up my sleeve, but they always got scared when real magic was involved. It would be kinda neat to be able to use that and make people ooh and ahh and throw money at me."

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