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Private won't you be, my neighbor?

Discussion in 'Residences' started by Dorian Pavus, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    June 27, Y7

    This was not something that Dorian had been expecting to ever have to do. Purchase a house. It seemed... so average. If he wasn't staying with the Inquisition in Skyhold, he had expected to eventually return to Tevinter, where he had family houses throughout. He could stay in one of those... or perhaps stay with a friend in their family estate... The idea of having go through the process of owning a house had never occurred to him.

    The house he had chosen, based on the income he was expecting to get, was quaint- the only word he could really choose to give it. It was certainly not his style, a modestly dressed 'bungalow' - as the real estate representative had called it - with nice trim, brick front, and a path between the front lawn that led up to the front steps that lead to the front porch.

    But he was tired of staying on someone's couch, their guest room, or the motel - so he was glad to finally have some place he could stay while he was in Pandora. For how ever long this was. He had no intentions of giving up on that he could find a way home. Magic was useful for anything, and it was certainly magic - divine or not - that brought him here.

    By now, he had already moved in. He had had furniture delivered to this morning - again, nothing in his style, but he had found he was pleased with a modern, classy look - nice lines, contrast, intricate pieces of artwork. He had to pay the dealer in the promise of an enchantment - apparently that was not frowned upon here - but after the conclusion of their deal, Dorian found himself the owner of a collection of fine interior decor.

    He was just returning from a meeting with the bank, financing his house - who knew that in this land one was expected to deal with so much paperwork - and had stopped by a local shop with a nice small cup of the delicious, brown liquid known as 'coffee' - when he had to do a double take as he passed by his next door neighbor's house when something/one caught his eye.

     
    #1 Dorian Pavus, Jul 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  2. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    It was still strange for Meredith to live alone.

    The last time she lived in a house was when she was ten, back when her parents and Amelia were alive and they lived in a middle-income neighborhood in Kirkwall filled with the chatter of children and the clatter of horses' hooves along the cobblestones. This house was smaller, although her family could have still fit inside if they were still alive to enjoy it. Well. There was no time to brood about that. She had to figure out how to do everything on her own, which was a challenge even though she often felt isolated in her early years in the Templar Order. It was an odd mix - she had led a rebellion, deposed a corrupt viscount and installed another - but she had never lived alone, managed her own finances, controlled her own life without the Chantry breathing down her neck.

    In a way, it was refreshing. In another way, it was scary.

    She also had to deal with the new phenomenon of neighbors. She knew her mother often exchanged baked goods with the woman who lived across the way when she was little, but Meredith had no clue how to bake, nor was she likely to learn. She knew her talent in life - ensuring mages were in their proper place - and she was not about to give that up to play housewife with a bunch of strangers.

    The good news was that no one seemed to be expecting this of her. The house next door to hers had been empty when she had moved in, and none of the others had come knocking on her door yet. Nevertheless, she grumbled when she noticed possessions being moved into the house next to hers. She hoped her new neighbor wouldn't be chatty or obnoxious. All she wanted to do was live and let live.

    Well, until she saw through the front window that her new neighbor was a mage from Tevinter.

    Meredith had never been to Tevinter, but she knew enough of their gaudy wardrobes and haughty attitudes to recognize one from a mile away. Who else would wear such ostentatious robes on a regular day, and openly carry a staff with no fear of repercussions?

    She stared at him through the window, suddenly wishing she could turn her Holy Smite to a Holy Glare and drive him away before he could even get properly settled. But without that ability, all she could do was watch as her neighborhood was invaded by a mage in a place where she had her Templar powers but was not supposed to use them. A place where mages were free, just like the country this mage had come from.

    He would not be afraid of her, she realized. And she would need to project every ounce of strength she owned if she was to win this neighbors' war of her own devising.


     
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  3. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    What caught his eye was the woman in his next-door neighbor's front window. He didn't know what caused him to actually look up at that moment, possibly because he was thinking about what his neighbor could be up to, since he never saw them - but when he did, their eyes locked and he paused on the sidewalk in front of her house, still facing the direction he had been going, just... giving her a sideways look.

    She had a very serious, sour-looking facial expression, but that was not what caused Dorian to pause and his heart skip a beat. It was the style of her armor, and the emblem emblazoned on the front. He had a brief moment of panic - it was impossible, the odds astronomical, that of all the people to follow through from Thedas, it had to be a Ferelden Templar. Not that those were the odds that he referring to. It was the fact that he had moved in next door to her.

    He was living next to someone would most likely want him dead - or locked up somewhere in a tower with no light and no hope.

    Then his moment of panic faded as he realized all of a sudden that neither of them were in a situation where one had any authority over each other. His shoulders relaxed and he brought the cup of coffee up his lips, the lip of the lid snug under his mustache, and then he took a slow drank from it. Like he was taunting her. He never did take his eyes off of her's - and from the initial intense stare of her own - he doubted neither did she.

    As the Orlesians say, touché.

    Dorian suddenly realized this could actually be fun. He gave a totally innocent smile and a wave - but he didn't move from his spot on the sidewalk. He wanted to see what she would do.

     
  4. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    The way he looked at her with a mixture of revulsion and impertinence left no doubt in her mind that this man was a Tevene mage. The only question that remained was what she was going to do about it.

    In Kirkwall, the rules were so simple. Templars were good, mages were bad, and even though certain situations made things less clear, that one point was never obscured. Not only was it never far from sight, but it was also supported by the Chantry and by the government (the latter was thanks to Meredith's foresight after the coup, of course), and by the common people. No one wanted a mage roaming free, let alone living in their neighborhood.

    But Pandora was different. This mage was carrying his staff openly, wearing robes that would make it obvious even if she had somehow missed the staff, and he was allowed to not only be in public, but also to get a house. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the house directly next to hers.

    The little house that she was finally beginning to get used to could no longer be a refuge. How was she supposed to feel safe with a mage next door, one who could easily set her house on fire while she slept? And yet, if she acted too openly, she would not be protected by the law if it came to blows, and the last thing she needed was to be locked up when there was a mage roaming free.

    Swearing under her breath as she approached the door, she opened it, resolved to do something she hadn't done in a very long time. She would have to act towards a mage as though he was her equal, as though he deserved the freedom she did. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering what she knew of mages in middle-class neighborhoods, but at least she could use this fake friendliness as a way to keep tabs on him. (Not to mention that he was an adult, and clearly had more self-confidence than Amelia ever had - although that would simply attract a pride demon rather than one of fear...)

    It would be safest for the town if she lived there next to the mage, trying to keep an eye on him as much as she could. It was the closest she had seen to a way of fulfilling her duties since she arrived in Pandora, and even though it rankled, she was not about to give up.

    "Excuse me?" she said, her voice probably coming out a little more hostile than she would have wanted, but the shock was still wearing on her. "Are you moving into that house to my right? It appears we will be neighbors, then. My name is Meredith."

    She needed to use everything she could from his response to figure out what to do next. First, to confirm her suspicions, and next, to see if he knew her specifically, if he knew of Kirkwall and had a potential desire for revenge. In other words, her first interaction with the mage would be something like a threat assessment, after which she could plan like she was so skilled at doing in Kirkwall.

    But then, as if to undercut the severity of the situation in Meredith's mind, the little bird that had been following her for days poked its head out from her backyard, waddling over to her ever so slowly...


     
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  5. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    In all honesty, Dorian had expected her to stand there and glare at him until her face turned permanently that way, or - for a dramatic flare - for her explode through the glass and come at him to smite him - which of course, was silly, but it was a brief scenario that passed through his mind. At that thought though, she disappeared from the window and then the door unlocked and she appeared in a full armor down to her boots, and he had another short-lived thought that she was indeed going to smite him.

    Well, she could try.

    The sight of a Ferelden Templar in full armor striding across the grass towards him was enough to cause a small shiver of revulsion down his spine, but he didn't move. It was a testament to his willpower really. Dorian was not afraid of Tevinter Templars, simply because they were easily bought, mostly for show, and helpful against actually dangerous mages, but otherwise just pawns to be used under the table by the Magistrate; but after leaving the safety of the Imperium, he had had many a difficult confrontation with southern Templars, some downright hostile - apparently his charming, but sardonic, wit was not appreciated by those of lower intellect. Even joining the Inquisition, after the Herald had sided with the renegade Templars, he had been forced to endure underhanded comments from those stationed in Skyhold where ever he walked. It was a bit like being a sheep among wolves.

    As such, the saying that came to mind was a Ferelden saying he had picked up: 'once bitten, twice shy', in reference to mabari.

    He brought the cup down from his lips and stayed on the sidewalk, not touching foot on her lawn. He regarded her with an outward expression of cool smugness. The proclamation of her name, however, broke his composure and his head jerked slightly, his eyebrows raised as he processed this bit of information.

    She was dead, supposed to be dead. He had seen the statue of her corpse when he had briefly visited Kirkwall - as a morbid curiosity when he went to go see what had started this mage-templar war. This new revelation caused him to reassess his options. He held the cup away from him in an off-hand manner, acknowledging her clearly forced conversation starter, and offered her a slightly bemused smirk.

    "You are excused, m'dear. It seems that I have, although had I have known that the Knight-Commander of Kirkwall was going to be living next door -- excuse me, former Knight-Commander. Is that a title you still intend to hold onto?" he asked, with a small chuckle.

    "Where are my manners? Dorian Pavus, Altus class mage and scion of House Pavus." he said, dropping his title deliberately to see what she would do. It was a bit like playing with fire, especially now that she was this close to his person. But then again, fire was one of his favorites so he really couldn't help himself.

    That was when something small, round-ish, and with a splash of white caught his eyes as he saw it moving in the distance. His eyes focused beyond her and the creature he saw looked vaguely like a bird, but without a beak, and the white covered the majority of it's front size, with some greys and orange mixed in. His brows furrowed into a quizzical look and he looked back at her. "You have a... peculiar creature on your lawn, darling. Behind you."

     
    #5 Dorian Pavus, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  6. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    It soon seemed that Meredith's strategy had been correct, for the stranger answered nearly every question she had within a matter of moments. He certainly had the attitude of Tevinter, which she noticed as soon as the accent, and the holier-than-thou attitude that he chose to display in the form of sexism. She was not his - or anyone's - "dear," but it had been a long time since she would let that get to her. It was an occupational hazard training in the company of male recruits, and she all it did was make her scoff. If he was trying to insult her with language like that, it was only because he had nothing better to throw at her.

    His next remark chilled her, however - he knew who she was, and the mention of her being a former knight-commander made her shiver before she realized he was only talking about Pandora. She was not commanding anything here yet, of course, but she still had all of her Templar abilities, and the beliefs that had carried her through so many years of hardship. She would still not be a pushover, even without a legion of troops to command.

    "I am Knight-Commander Meredith wherever I go," she said coolly. Even in Pandora, she didn't want to risk using her last name. The last thing she needed was to show this new place that she had a weakness.

    He introduced himself next, and Meredith wrinkled her nose at his uppity tone. What did he have to be proud of other than that he was born into the right family? Being an altus, as he was so proud to exclaim, she doubted he had ever worked a day in his life. "An Altus mage, a scion of House Pavus, on my street... how... special," she said in a tone that could have curdled milk. "I do hope you know how to function on your own without slaves to wipe your behind."

    It was perhaps more aggressive than she would have cared to get, but she needed this mage to know she was a threat - something he apparently didn't recognize when he expected her to turn her back to him - turn her back to a mage! - just due to the presence of a strange creature, likely the bird that had taken to sitting on the stoop until she let it in.

    "I do not know how stupid you think I am, mage, but you are wrong. There may be no Circle here for you, but a Knight-Commander's eyes never close on justice."

    The solemnity of her message was somewhat nullified by the eager chirping of the little bird that was beginning to catch up with her. No matter - she would not look, even if she knew it was doing that thing where it made its eyes look impossibly large to beg. It would simply have to wait until this battle of wills was over.


     
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  7. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    "Yes, quite. I suppose you Templars are all alike. Cullen never dropped his title either. Although, he actually had something to command." he remarked with very little change in expression. He knew that Cullen had been in Kirkwall before while Meredith was still the Knight-Commander.

    Dorian tried so hard to not roll his eyes. He wondered when the notion of slaves or other Tevinter stereotypes were going to come up. Not that his family didn't own slaves. But she didn't need to know that was true.

    "What will I do without all my hundreds of slaves at my beck and call. I suppose I shall have to learn how to use the toilet paper on my own now. It's complexity has thus far eluded me. Does the roll go right side up or upside down?" he snarked, his expression completely deadpan. If anyone was either not adept at picking up such subtle irony, or they didn't know any better, he would have looked completely serious.

    "A mystery for the ages." he concluded, with a twirl of his free hand and a modest uplift in his brows, taking another sip of his coffee. Which is actually starting to go luke-warm. He looked at her evenly behind the cup again, grey eyes locked with blue. His expression remained ever blasé.

    "I haven't been in a Circle since I was in my youth. And even when I went back, it was to work and continue my studies." he said in a tone that was slightly jovial, but only just. It brought up some... difficult memories. But none strong enough that he couldn't reminisce. "You know, in Skyhold there were plenty of Templars who were mainly all bravado. They would have loved to slap me in irons and shove me off to the nearest Ferelden Circle, even if they never said it to my face. Perhaps they were too tongue-tied. Or maybe it was because they didn't have the power." he quipped with a very subtle jab in her direction, once again, remaining at ease. If she wanted him to be afraid of her, he wasn't going to give her the pleasure.

    His eyes watched the bird creature with mild curiosity. It was something else he had never seen before. The weeks leading up to this were slowly filling up with things he did not know. It was oddly thrilling. "Do bird creatures commonly take to following you around?"

     
  8. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    "You know Cullen?" Meredith asked, taken aback for a moment. The last she had seen Cullen, he was decidedly in Kirkwall, on his way to help her with one of her more... delicate missions. One that needed finesse and someone trained, and she definitely wouldn't have trusted anyone but one of her senior officials. Not to mention that the Cullen she knew couldn't have been less likely to engage in conversation with a mage...

    The odd part, however, was that this too-proud scion of House Pavus seemed to think Cullen was commanding something. That tipped her off to the fact that he might not be telling the truth (not that she was expecting to trust him, but he had at least caught her off guard). "And what exactly does he command?" She knew exactly what duties she had given him, and this would be a wonderful way to trap the mage in a web of lies of his own making.

    And then, to regain some ground, she brought up the likely very real problem for the mage, that he had no slaves to wipe his arse, and he responded with the kind of serious sarcasm she had come to expect from Orsino when he was in one of his increasingly frequent moods. The best thing she had learned from him was to never humor any of his crazy talk, or he would just keep going along the same vein.

    "I am afraid you will have to figure out that... delicate problem on your own," she said, her terse tone leaving no room for interpretation. At least people who spoke like this - well, at least Orsino - generally continued speaking even after getting shut down, giving Meredith an opportunity to learn more than she would have been able to otherwise.

    In this case, the mage mentioned that he had not been in a Circle for long, and had left and returned and then left once more - a stupid rule of Tevinter, and a reason why she would never feel comfortable doing any sort of dealings with them - but then he mentioned a place she had not heard of. What was Skyhold - a Circle, a border town, a Tevinter fortress? - and where was it? Many places she knew in the Free Marches wouldn't allow a Tevene mage to live within their borders, so it must have been some faraway place. The good news about that being, of course, that Skyhold was likely nowhere near Kirkwall.

    "Templars in the Free Marches, Kirkwall especially, would not have allowed you to stay free," she said casually. There was no need to be aggressive; if there was no Circle here, she couldn't imprison him, but she did still have her Holy Smite and her other anti-magic abilities that could be used in case he decided to try anything. It was a strange mindset - usually, she imprisoned first and asked questions later - but perhaps it was fitting for this unusual world.

    As she spoke, the little bird made its way over to her, chirping in the way she had come to realize was its hunger call. "I cannot say I was ever followed by birds in Kirkwall," she said slowly, relishing the feeling of finding just the right words to say, "but I am quite adaptable." The bird stood beside her, hopefully making her look like a bastion of protection rather than a silly-hearted woman who had taken it in because it was cute.

    The little bird chirped again, looking between Meredith and Dorian curiously, then eyeing the cup in the latter's hand as he let out a piteous sound.


     
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  9. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    Her questions suddenly reminded Dorian of his predicament, and that sobered him up a bit. Meredith was not from his timeline. She had no idea of the current events surrounding Thedas and the War that raged across most of the South. Time magic, if that was what this was, was a finicky creature.

    "What date was it in Thedas?" he asked suddenly as an answer to her questionings, his eyes cautious and shrewd as he judged her reaction. It was a strange question, but he hoped she would answer it instead of remaining obstinate.

    Dorian's eyes returned to a pure look of almost catatonic irony as he responded to her quip about the delicate nature of going to the bathroom. "Yes, when I figure it out finally, I'll let you know. We can swap stories and helpful tips." he said, although this time he was decidedly more sardonic.

    At the mention of Kirkwall, he smirked, amused. "I've been to Kirkwall - call it a curiosity - It's a bit of a shithole." he responded dryly, taking another sip of his coffee. As he was sipping, he watched the bird creature starting up at him and calling. He didn't respond to it, he just looked at it once before he looked back up at Meredith with a loud snort.

    "Adaptable is not the word history would use to describe you. Draconian is a word that more aptly comes to mind."

     
  10. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    Of course, the first thing he tried to do was weasel out of her question. So sly and slippery, wiggling out of everything as if even an interaction like this was meant to be deadly. If she was truly trying to be deadly, he would no longer breathe.

    "It was the end of 9:33 Dragon, although surely you know that if you come from Thedas as well - and Cullen is nothing more than a faithful lieutenant," she said coolly, watching his face for any reactions. Clearly the thing with Cullen had been a bluff, and she internally chided herself for believing him for even one moment. He was a Tevene mage; she doubted he could tell the truth at all.

    She would not pay any more heed to the idiotic line of conversation that had begun about slavery and led to the process of using the restroom, but she did bristle when he mentioned Kirkwall. She didn't mind him calling it a shithole - it should be, for someone like him, of course - but if he had been there at some point, that was a serious flaw in security that she would need to look out for in the future. Had he snuck in among the Fereldan refugees, or had he traveled openly, using the bravado he seemed to think was charming to get past the city guard and the Templars? She would need to institute extra training when she got back (honestly, even if he was just lying again, there was never a problem with increased vigilance).

    "Kirkwall is not meant to be welcoming for your kind," she said in a frigid tone, leaving no room for interpretation. Mages were too dangerous if allowed to roam free - she had learned that lesson all too painfully. No amount of pleasantries could convince her otherwise - at any moment, even this mage who seemed to think himself so superior to her could get possessed by a demon, and only she would be able to stop the ensuing carnage.

    At least he had the right idea about her. She had said "adaptable" to show that she was not afraid of using her abilities in this new place, but "draconian" definitely worked. She nodded, adding that "You had best not forget it," before looking down at the little bird still trilling in vain at the cup in the mage's hand. "I will feed you at home, little one. Do not take anything he offers." Not that he was offering, but still - best that the bird didn't get any ideas about befriending Dorian.


     
    #10 Knight-Commander Meredith, Jul 17, 2018 at 7:36 PM
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 8:33 PM
    Dorian Pavus likes this.
  11. Dorian Pavus

    Dorian Pavus Dragon Age

    Posts:
    30
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Freelance Magical Specialist
    Location:
    306 Withers Road
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    30
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    Dorian brow furrowed in alarm at her answer, but he quickly covered it up with a look of stoicism, which was in contrast to the smug, satisfactory expression he had been wearing this entire time. 9:33... that was - Dorian had to do a quick calculation from the Chantry date to the proper Imperial one, but 9:33 was 2027 TE, and that was 8 years ago.

    Although it hadn't been 100% clear before, it was now. The Knight-Commander was the subject of some type of time magic fluctuation. Somehow - and by now he was looking at Meredith with the attentive look of a scholar, like she was bug underneath a magnifying glass - she and him were existing on the same timeline, in an entirely different dimension! It was astounding, really.

    And also sobering. The events she was missing out on, that she had no idea what had happened, what she had had an iron hand in causing... Dorian suddenly smiled, albeit more of a grimace, and straightened up. "Hm, yes. That is true. I must have been mistaken. Perhaps there are other Cullens in the South. It's probably a dreadfully common name." he said dismissively, like he was attempting to bury the conversation and not bring it up again. He certainly wasn't going to be the one to tell her - the saying 'don't shoot the courier' came to mind.

    "I don't know. I didn't seem to have much of a problem getting around. The highlights were any part other than the docks... Boats are not compatible, them and I. It's definitely gone downhill since it passed out of Imperial hands. Minus, the... tricky bits about slavery and whatnot." he commented, making sure to stick a couple jabs in there. Banter was his forte, and he'd be darned if he let an ex-Knight-Commander take the reins.

    He looked down at the bird creature, and then ignoring Meredith completely, he knelt down, peering at it. "Ah-ha, so you do have a little pet... ? Pet what?" he mused, reaching into his pouch and pulling out a piece of coffee cake wrapped in thin, stretchy plastic. "Coffee? Cake? Hmm?" he asked it, shaking the wrapped cake a little.

     
    #11 Dorian Pavus, Jul 18, 2018 at 8:28 PM
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018 at 12:26 PM
  12. Knight-Commander Meredith

    Posts:
    34
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Defender
    Location:
    305 Withers Road, Misty Hollow
    Race:
    Human
    Age:
    40
    Alignment:
    Lawful Evil
    Directory:
    link


    [​IMG]

    Meredith was just about to snap back that he had mentioned Cullen having some sort of command, so of course it had to be the Cullen Rutherford who now lived in Kirkwall - but then she remembered who she was talking to. Dorian was doubtlessly just trying to mess with her, entangle her mind in a trap so he could do something fishy while she got distracted. "I am sure there are," she said, but the tone of her voice left no doubt as to her true meaning. She was not going to stand here all day debating the rarity of the name 'Cullen' with a Tevene mage.

    The idea that he didn't have trouble getting around was honestly disconcerting, but Meredith was still taking his words with far more than a grain of salt. The odds he had even been in Kirkwall were miniscule, especially considering that all he mentioned was the docks. That was not nearly specific enough, and given that she could tell he was trying to catch her off guard, he would have given evidence of other places in the city if he knew them.

    As for the point of it being worse since leaving Imperial hands, Meredith couldn't resist adding in, "It may be less prissy, but it is certainly safer without all the mages wandering around," wondering how he might handle a more overt insult. Subtlety was hardly her style.

    And yet, when he spoke of slavery, she wondered briefly if he was perhaps against the practice. There was no way to know for sure, especially since she was adamantly against having another conversation about bathroom habits, but it was something to file away. A potential weakness, perhaps, or at least something to keep an eye on.

    (The first for now, she realized. She was truly grasping at straws.)

    Not that she would let him know that, even when he asked about the bird that had adopted her more than she had adopted it. "Wouldn't you like to know," she responded when he asked her what it was. She knew it was a bird, some kind of strange one, but that was about all she knew, and the last thing she needed was the mage figuring out that there was something she didn't know. In this world where he was able to roam free, her wits were likely her best weapon against him.

    Nevertheless, she found herself at a loss when he reached into a pouch at his side and pulled out what looked like a small cake, waving it at the bird. "I have food for you at home," Meredith said, swooping down to pick up the bird. She held its wings against its sides in a posture that likely looked like she was hugging it, but in reality, she had an entirely different concern. "We wouldn't want you to get poisoned." Her eyes met Dorian's then, wondering if he was such a savage to even want to harm an innocent bird.