Participants:

Anders_icon.gif Seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Herding Cats
Synopsis Seren meets Anders, finds out that getting people to coordinate is like herding cats
Location Circle of Magi
Date June 6, 2016
Watch For Floofbird grooming.
Logger Seren

Summer months in Kirkwall have a terrible tendency to get almost unbearable during the heat of the day. For most people, this might be a deterrent - at least during peak daylight hours - but Anders is practically basking in the sunshine. Actual mage cat. The Gallows is the last place he wants to be on a beautiful morning like this one, but there is work to be done if this Warden underground lark is going to be anything but deadly. So he marches right on in, looking about for someone who might look like they have the faintest clue what they're about.

And that cluefull person? It's not Seren. At least, it hasn't been, but he's learning how to make it through the day in this place. For now that includes taking a walk around the boundaries of his new world while attempting to normalize the presence of a Nightwing. It hasn't been the easiest task in the world, mostly because she's got the curiosity (and the impulse control) of a toddler and is used to EVERYONE being bird-friendly. Of course he spots Anders, but so does said Nightwing and the hello turns into a "Revas! N!… no." It's too late. Unless the other mage somehow sidesteps, he's getting a shoulder full of heavybutt giantowl.

Okay sure it's a huge bird - a huge bird - but this is Anders. Anders whose whole day is made when Sterling gives him just one bumped bird-kiss against his cheek. Heavybutt Giantowl startles him, but as soon as he recognizes what actually just happened? His whole damn face lights up. "Hello, beautiful," he croons, already reaching up with his hand to stroke the back of his knuckle down soft breastfeathers. Because he's an idiot with very little concept of 'stranger danger' when it comes to people and creatures that could kill him. Sorry, Seren, he'll get to People in a minute; there is a heavybutt giantowl and Anders is in love.

Revas gives the bird version of smugface before going straight into 'cutest bird ever' coo and birdgrooming the human. Seren is just going to sigh. "Ir abelas, she still hasn't gotten the idea that not everyone is used to her. She's used to being doted on and accepted by everyone." He'd give the bird a look, but she's his baby and… well… he can't. At least, to his relief, this human doesn't seem to mind. Maybe the bird has the right idea. Just be a cute doofus to everyone in order to win them over.

Birdgrooming is fine by Anders. He turns enough to be able to get a face for that voice, face split in the biggest, goofiest grin. "It's alright, no need to apologize. My friend has a falcon who does much the same." He laughs then, though the sound is oddly subdued. "Just on a smaller scale."

Seren relaxes a little. As much as he ever does in this place. "There are few that are as … large… as Revas." That's right, bird. He said you have a big butt. Not that the nightwing seems to be bothered because grooming. "I think she sees people as large, oddly featherless birds. I've had her since she was a young nestling, so she's had no other birds to model on. …but if she's not bothering you…" In other words, if something as simple as being groomed by floofbird makes someone that happy, he's not going to interrupt.

Happy, thrilled, ecstatic - any adjective will do. "Revas, huh?" Anders is quite happy to pet floofbutt and be groomed in return, but he does, finally, turn the bulk of his attention to Seren. "That's old elvhen, isn't it?" It wasn't like Velanna had been warm and fuzzy, but genuine interest in her culture had earned Anders a little bit of grace anyway. "I remember the basics - andiran atish'an, ma serannas, and the like." Which would at least explain why 'ir abelas' didn't even make him blink. "But anything beyond that and you've lost me."

Seren nods. "It means freedom." The irony obviously isn't lost on him. "Although she's the only one of us that actually has any of that left. You know, you're the second human I've met with a knowledge of the language. Since you're not templar, I suppose Cenn wasn't lying. …I thought the clans here kept more to themselves." Revas is given a shake of his head, but it's more of the 'you're too cute for me to be sane' variety.

That's enough to wipe the grin right off of Anders' face. "Barbaric practice no different from magisters and their slaves," he grumbles, shaking his head. "There's a reason I kept running." And there's a perverse sense of pride to this statement: "Set the record for escapes from the Kinloch Circle."

Revas takes a moment to actually scold Seren before going back to her grooming. As if to berate him for upsetting Anders. "I escaped once. Rope made of smallclothes, but I don't think it counts. The rope was too short and I fell on a templar, so they shipped me here. Apparently being a healer doesn't get you out of harsher penalties. …although, I've yet to be called rabbit here." He shrugs. "And the templar who got permission for Revas to be here would probably get into some sort of trouble if I tried ot escape again." Which means he's doing his best to accept his fate. "All of those escapes, yet here you are. Seemingly able to go about as you wish. Which means escaping isn't the entire story."

"Well, ah, yes." Anders clears his throat, clearly uncomfortable with his inability to turn the conversation to safer topics. Like wild escapades in the Pearl or fluffy ginger kittens. "The second-to-last time I ran, they put me in solitary." It is… not a great memory, evidenced by the shudder that makes him twitch. "For a year." He's still not… entirely okay. "After that it would have been the brand, but I sort of fell into some Wardens and not even the Templars argue with King Alistair."

The good news is that Seren has the sort of training one needs to keep people comfortable around him. He also has doofbird there who is now trying to sooth ruffled feathers. Literally. "I've found that solitary isn't as … solitary as they make it sound." Which means he's been there. "At least you were spared the brand." Yep, he's heard things. So now he's going to do the subject changing for them. "There are rumors that the Wardens are doing something that will take them away for a time. …in fact, a few of the younger apprentices have already heard that we may host a young halla , so now it either happens or I'll have to conjure one from the air. …or perhaps teach them to carve them. They have enough scraps laying around from destroyed training targets."

"I don't know what kind of solitary you're talking about," Anders snaps, lashing out defensively. "But I promise you this was exactly as solitary as it sounds." He inhales a long, slow, ragged breath and leans his head against the floof, content enough with the topic change. "Oh good, Minea got to Katerina. I figured she'd enjoy a chance to babysit a wee halla." And weirdly, carved halla makes him flinch, but he's not commenting. For once.

Seren raises a hand. "Ir abelas. I meant no slight. I wasn't often left alone for mine and suspected the treatment was shared. Once they know you can heal yourself…" He shrugs. "She asked if I would help. I agreed. Admittedly not just because it takes more than one person to tend a young halla." Except he's not going to mention homesickness aloud. He IS going to sigh and give another apologetic look. "It must be the change in environment. With my clan I'm usually pretty good at setting people at ease. Yet here my mere presence seems to make others unhappy. Please tell me you don't have unpleasant memories of being around Dalish, too? If it would help, I can find whoever it is you wish to see and leave Revas to make up for my sudden lack of social skills." At least he can joke about it.

That's just enough context to make Anders go entirely pale. It makes the freckles dusted across his nose stand out in stark contrast. "No," he says quietly. "You're not wrong. I just… not for months and never in a way I'd call… company. I'm sorry." Which is more than he's admitted to for a long, long time. After that, he listens, petting the bird and gathering his thoughts. "They aren't unpleasant. And not of the Dalish in general." The bird helps. It's strange, but she really helps. "I had a friend when I was in Kinloch. Well," he corrects himself. "He tried to be my friend. Also tried to teach me to carve. I was… so, so bad."

Look, Revas may be a floofbird, but she knows when cute is needed and that cute comes in the owlbeak equivalent of a cheek kiss before she settles in for more grooming. "We Dalish are good at enduring," Seren assures. "Kinloch… you knew the same man that Cenn knew? Then the two of you must know eachother. Has he spoken to you? About the ceremony I offered him for this man." The last he says in a softer tone to keep his voice from carrying.

"Ah…" Anders clears his throat, deciding that it's possibly safest to keep paying attention to floofbird and combing gently through her feathers while he has this whole conversation. "I do know Cenn, yes. He… told you about Rylan?" There's some surprise in the tone, but it doesn't sound arch or snide. "Cenn and I… it's complicated." Good job, slick. "N-not like that!" he corrects quickly. "Just… I'm not super great at people unless I never have to see them again." How he's so far managed to hold onto the network of relationships he has now is a constant mystery for him.

"That was his name? He was vague but I can see he suffers for the loss. It's my fault, really. He wouldn't look at me and I was so angry and indignant at the time…" Seren grins at the explanation. "It's alright, he has far too many grief signals to be a man who has moved on. I felt…" He sighs. "Awful for having pushed him so much during our brief conversation and there is a ceremony that can be done in the absence of a body. It seems they both deserve something, now I wonder if in trying to help, I've intruded too far. He did tell me to get what I needed for it, though. If you knew this man, it might help for you to be there. I trained to be a Keeper, but I'm not sure I qualify to help humans cross the threshold of grief. If only spirit healing really could heal the spirit."

"You don't have to have moved on to… move on." And even as he says it Anders cringes, not exactly thrilled with the picture he's painting for himself of himself. "You're a Spirit Healer as well?" No wonder he's so uncomfortable. It's never easy to be confronted with a living mirror. "If you're going to honor Rylan and Cenn doesn't mind, I would… I would love to be there." The funerals, they never stop.

There's no question the talk of moving on bothers Seren, but he does his best to hide that and lets his shoulders slump for a moment. "Don't tell me… No wonder he was so uncomfortable. I'm so used to us all looking alike to any human outside Rivain that I just assumed that was it. The one time I deserved that smack on the back of the head from my mother and she's not there to administer it. I can only hope the vallaslin was different. I've worked ever since my magic presented itself to stop pain. It's going to be horribly ironic if all I ever do is cause it to the one decent templar I've met since I was chained to the wagon." This entire series of events is doing WONDERS for his self esteem. "Normally it's something we hide from humans but, under the circumstances, it seems right. It would help to have someone else who feels the loss."

"Me," Anders corrects, once he puzzles through the reaction. "I'm a Spirit Healer. I don't think Rylan was. At least… it was just Wynne and I in lessons I didn't…" But he could have missed something, that's always possible. "But Cenn is a good man. He and Cullen are the only Templars I trust. He deserves any peace you can give him." But since they're talking about those who feel the loss… "You should talk to Kat, then. She knew him too."

Seren at least looks relieved at that. "You're the healer he told me about and I haven't given you my name. I'm Seren." Revas is going to take a moment to switch shoulders, since there's more of those weird thin feathers on the other side, and she has work to do. YOU MAY ALL CARRY ON. "I've spoken to her, but she hasn't mentioned him. I suppose she wouldn't, I'm an outsider. Until a few days ago I would have kept trying to get out until they killed me. Freedom one way or another," he explains as if it's at least mildly humorous. "Yet even that has consequences for the others here." He nods. "If I can bring him any peace, I will. I never thought I would say that about a Templar, but I suppose being snatched away from my clan doesn't relieve me of the obligation of a Keeper." It's irony.

Anders is careful to hold himself very still while Revas shifts to preen his other shoulder, unable to resist a low, soft laugh at her antics. "Yeah, we're… it's strange but we're oddly insular about our own. Which makes no sense as most of us are scattered now and all mages are equally hunted but… even if you don't necessarily like each other, you form your family from what you've got, I guess." He shrugs the now bird-free shoulder. "I could talk with her if you'd prefer? We didn't exactly part on the best of terms but I don't think she'd begrudge me this." But this commentary on being Keeper makes him laugh outright, the sound not tinged by sadness. "I know a hunter from the Lavellan clan who needs a full-time Keeper. I think I understand at least a little."

"I'll ask. I like Katerina, she's at least honest when she speaks to you about the things that matter." Which means, yep, Seren has seen her lie and took no action on it. "Hunter? That is usually the definition of a hunter, at least when they're young. Once they learn to understand their environment they lose their fear of it and it takes a while for reason and experience to move in." He nods in understanding even as he watches Revas. "I suppose it's a normal reaction to being alone, you create a family where none exists. Even if the flower that grows next to a rose leans toward the same sun, despite the thorns." Clearly he is NOT the best suited for that sort of thing.

"I like her too," Anders agrees. "It's just… It's been a really rough month." And that is perhaps the understatement of the decade. "And it's not about to get any better." But he stops, tilts his head to one side and gets this dreamy little smile on his face. "Well. Maybe a little better." He is so far gone. But that attempt at a wise metaphor - oh he tries so hard to be diplomatic about it and to keep a straight face, but he loses it entirely and shakes with laughter. "Oh that was terrible," he manages between ridiculous giggles. "Beautiful, but terrible. I like you." And as though that's some kind of a rite of passage, Anders and his shoulder floof come close enough to extend his hand. "I'm Anders. It's good to meet you, Seren." Okay so sometimes his manners take a minute to kick in, but he doesn't ever just neglect them.

"It's been a fairly rough couple of years," Seren agrees, but he's at least grinning as he reaches out to take the offered hand. "We Keepers have to take our moments where we can get them. Even if it's amusement at watching everyone else try to not roll their eyes when we speak." And it really is as if he's given away some sort of well held secret. "It's good to see someone finally get it."


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