As afternoon fades into evening, (After “Actions Speak Louder”) the party leaves Sasha’s camp to “retrieve” Quidd. They leave Marten in camp, mentally exhausted as he is after successfully casting from that Scroll. They find Quidd on the roof of his parents’ house, watching the Sun set over the Gatherridge as he smokes a pipe he’s stolen from his father in a gesture of defiance. He initially refuses to come with them, ignoring their insistence that they need to all have a talk with him, and citing his grounding as an excuse.
Since he won’t come quietly, Sasha tosses a grappling hook up to the roof, and scales the wall of his house in order to black-bag him- in the first grapple of the night, she wraps a sack over his head and shoulders, sweeps his feet from beneath him, and tosses him over her shoulder, rappelling down the wall to join the party. Quidd is, understandably, much chagrined, but is unable to escape Sasha’s vise-like grip. The party transports him all the way to Sasha’s camp, by which time it is becoming quite dark.
Quidd is released and unmasked, to see all his friends standing about in a half-circle- he’s never seen their “undisclosed location” before, but can tell it’s in the mountains, somewhere presumably nearby.
“So, what is this, some kinda intervention?”
“Only if you want it to be, Quidd.”
The party proceeds to prod and needle Quidd to get him to talk about having killed those two brotherhood soldiers- he is evasive and belligerent, but eventually he admits that he killed them both. And it felt really, REALLY good. He begins needling Sasha back, about how they’re really no different, and she shouldn’t get to judge him, since she’s killed two people herself- she insists that it’s much different, as she killed in the heat of battle, to protect herself or her friends, while Quidd killed those men cold, after they were no longer a threat.
Aelita isn’t happy with either of them, and is taking the role of mediator, shutting one up for the other to speak, and vice-versa.
A very drunk Richard gives a speech about how nobody is changing, everybody is still them, and people die eventually but they’re all still here, and nobody is going anywhere, and so on. All in all, none of the party are quite sure what he’s talking about.
Aelita begins to pontificate about how of course she’s the mediator- she’s much more worldly now, having gotten a boyfriend and grown up a bit. She’s far more experienced in life than any of them, after all- this sets Quidd right off, and he lunges at her over the fire, tackling her to the ground by the throat and pinning her.
“Don’t you EVER say that to me. You have no idea what I’ve been through, what I’ve done to get here.”
Aelita panics- her worst nightmares about the party’s festering darkness are coming true. She casts Kelpstrand, but the massive tangle of seaweed she conjures fails to enfold Quidd. His eyes widen with the realisation that she’s just cast at him, and he raises a hand, flame aglow, ready to actually harm her.
Then, Sasha tackles him off Aelita. She pins him to the ground in a sleeper hold- but he doesn’t struggle. He shudders in realisation and self-loathing until Sasha’s hold puts him out. She leaves Richard to watch him, and walks Aelita home. Quidd sleeps fitfully through the night, under Richard’s watchful eye.
Marten goes home.
Sasha and Aelita arrive at the Shrine, where it’s safe for Aelita to dissolve into sobbing and shaking. Sasha, no good for emotional displays, makes a pot of tea and waits until Aelita is ready to talk. There isn’t much to speak of- Aelita recounts every whispered, threatened word that Quidd said to her in dull, shaky tones.
Sasha stays there that night.
The next morning, Richard and Quidd awaken to the sound of the stream, and Richard busies Quidd with a long discussion about what it is to be one’s self- the product of circumstances and choices. Quidd is terrified that his path is making him into something horrible- Richard insists that Quidd is the path he walks, and that he should just embrace who he is now, as if that will solve his problems. They also talk about control of one’s self, and being fully invested in the choices one makes. Quidd wants to go home.
Richard leads him out of the wood, in more ways than one.
Aelita and Sasha are having breakfast when Quidd and Richard arrive at the Shrine- Aelita strongly resists slamming the door in his face. She lets him in so he can make a tearful fearful apology- He says that he needs to leave- he doesn’t belong here anymore, and is he stays, he’s going to hurt one of them. And that would destroy him. He turns to leave, but Aelita takes him by the shoulder. She takes him into the shrine and sets up a bowl of water on a wooden table.
“This is an exercise my parents taught me to learn control.”
She smacks the water with the palm of her hand- the tension of the surface is hardly broken, and no water splashes out of the bowl.
“You smack the water, and do not spill it, until your control is to great that the table breaks beneath the weight of your blow.”
Quidd smacks the water. It splashes out of the bowl. He tries again. And again.
Sasha joins in, karate-chopping the bowl so hard that it, the table and the water come crashing down. There is water everywhere. Point Missed.
It is at this point that the party realises that Richard has left them- they vaguely remember him saying something about going to see Lord Baird. They give chase, naturally.
Richard first check’s Baird’s Manor, and is directed to look for him at the docks, where Lord Baird often helps unload ships with his Sailor friends. The rest of the party, conscious of this, heads straight for the docks.
Lord Baird greets Richard, and passes off the crate he was carrying. He cuts straight to the point- regardless of what Richard was there to talk about, Baird has another topic in mind.
“Did you know that your sister Mai wants to take up ownership of the mill?”
They discuss the idea briefly before the party catches up. Baird says that he was approached by Mai a little after Richard’s failed wedding, wondering what the process would be for her to take control of the Mill and its lands. Baird reassures Richard that he told her she reasonably couldn’t- those lands belong to Richard, and she should be discussing this with him. Baird suggests that Richard should have a talk with his sister- it’s terrible to see a family torn apart by money issues. Richard says he’ll think about it- he hasn’t spoken to Mai since the wedding, for any reason.
When the party catches up, Quidd suggests that it’s been a long time since they bothered that old Demon, Father Greyson.
“Guys, I know what we’re gonna do today!”
“Oh? It must be nice to be so certain.” Says Father Greyson, from right behind him. He’s holding a book, and smiling.
“Going to help me finish this book, are you?”
Quidd stops dead in mortal panic, makes a warding-sign with his hands, and flees. Greyson, chuckles, passing his book to Aelita.
“Give this to him, would you? I think he’d enjoy it.”
Quidd and Richard runs off to the Glen, whilst Sasha and Aelita return to the Shrine, to hold Book Club for the first time in ages.
It’s some hours hence that Marten tracks down Quidd and Richard, with another person in tow, their face shrouded in a large cloak.
“Guys, we have a problem.” He says, and gestures at the stranger. She steps forward. “Go on, he says, tell them what you told me- it will be fine.”
She lowers the hood, revealing herself to be none other than Halia Arnwin, Richard’s would-be bride.
“I think somebody wants to kill me.”