06.02.3013: Burden of Leadership
Summary: Cynan and Helena discuss the difficulties of the responsibilities they have been given.
Date: 2 June 2013
Related: Life, ...And Prey, The Khourni Gather
Cynan Helena 


Audience Hall, Detritus - Inculta
Use your imagination.
2 June 3013

Fortunately, the two Daltons hadn't made it terribly far from the Ways, and so it's not more than a few minutes before they're standing back before the way back to Inculta. Cynan, in particular, seems almost overeager to get back home as quickly as possible. His steps are quick, his eyes are pointed straight ahead, his face is locked in an impassive expression. All he manages to say for the remainder of their time on the ring is a quick "You did quite well, cousin." There's just the slightest hint of an obligatory smile, but his words are flat, toneless.

They have known each other long enough that Helena can sense something about Cynan that is just not quite right. She worries her lower lip between her teeth, but while they are in public is forced to remain neutral and polite. She pauses, waiting behind a couple who are struggling to drag their brood of children back to Inculta, and manages to keep herself from looking disgusted. It isn't her place to judge, it isn't her place to judge…

"Thank you, my lord," she answers Cynan after a moment, glancing back to find the Way is clear for them. "You were excellent assistance, and I am grateful you were willing to follow my orders for the moment. I hate bossing you around - at least in public - but when I get into my 'zone' I cannot help myself." She then leads the way through and back onto Inculta.

At least in public? That's enough to crack Cynan's impassive expression, if only for a moment, as his lips quirk up in a little grin. "Oh, certainly. You clearly did not relish the opportunity to take charge of the situation at all." Even as he jokes with her, though, his expression becomes more and more subdued. "Were we on a battlefield, I am certain that our roles would have been reversed. When it comes to medical matters, my lady, you are more than welcome - indeed, encouraged - to take the lead."

A few moments more, and by the miracle of modern technology they're back in Detritus. As they enter the audience hall, he intones, "Well. You did mention that you should return to your clinic, and I am certain I will be needed back on the walls shortly." He turns to face her, and there's just a hint… no, that's full-blown anxiety in his eyes. "We should both return to our duties," he says, trying to summon up the courage to sound neutral. It's only minimally successful.

"I am certain that were we on a battlefield, I would wet my trousers and use you as my personal meat shield," Helena offers Cynan, although her response is timed so that it is given just after they pass through the Waygate where nobody is within earshot. She glances sidelong to her cousin and grins, releasing his arm only so that she can tap her knuckles playfully against his shoulder. Honest, it's just a tap.

Following beside Cynan, it is obvious that Helena is far less preoccupied with the weight of her duties. Perhaps it is because she has successfully treated a wound, or perhaps it is because she is not risking her life at the front line and is instead somewhat safely ensconced in a med clinic. Either way, her smile disappears almost immediately as she turns toward her cousin and observes his expression. "Cy?" she inquires, allowing herself to appear concerned - quite the rarity for Helena. Rather than wait for his response, she pulls him aside into an alcove just off of the audience hall; it isn't entirely private, but at least people will have to stand much closer to them to eavesdrop. "Tell me."

A few moments more, and by the miracle of modern technology they're back in Detritus. As they enter the audience hall, he intones, "Well. You did mention that you should return to your clinic, and I am certain I will be needed back on the walls shortly." He turns to face her, and there's just a hint… no, that's full-blown anxiety in his eyes. "We should both return to our duties," he says, trying to summon up the courage to sound neutral. It's only minimally successful.

"I am certain that were we on a battlefield, I would wet my trousers and use you as my personal meat shield," Helena offers Cynan, although her response is timed so that it is given just after they pass through the Waygate where nobody is within earshot. She glances sidelong to her cousin and grins, releasing his arm only so that she can tap her knuckles playfully against his shoulder. Honest, it's just a tap.

Following beside Cynan, it is obvious that Helena is far less preoccupied with the weight of her duties. Perhaps it is because she has successfully treated a wound, or perhaps it is because she is not risking her life at the front line and is instead somewhat safely ensconced in a med clinic. Either way, her smile disappears almost immediately as she turns toward her cousin and observes his expression. "Cy?" she inquires, allowing herself to appear concerned - quite the rarity for Helena. Rather than wait for his response, she pulls him aside into an alcove just off of the audience hall; it isn't entirely private, but at least people will have to stand much closer to them to eavesdrop. "Tell me."

Helena is all ears, and she drops into a seat while listening to Cynan speak. Leaning back, she crosses her legs by propping her right ankle on her left knee while clasping her hands together behind her back. All-in-all, her positions reads as 'I am ready for whatever you have to say.' Hazel eyes narrow further at the mention of Princess Janelle, but the doc has the wherwithal to hold her tongue while her cousin is involved in the retelling.

"Yes, I remember you mentioning it," she offers by way of encouragement, but falls silent once more. Whether or not she's heard doesn't really matter, because she knows now.

"Along with the Princess, there were several others present. Young Lady Veryna Larent. Lady Lyrienne Orelle. There was, of course, some discussion on the retrieval of the Hostile, and the purpose of bringing it to the Ring. For the most part, I deferred to Aunt Augusta, but she was required to return to Inculta midway through, leaving me behind to represent our House." That all comes out in a whispered torrent, a stream of consciousness that emerges from Cynan's lips with more instinct than intent.

As the story nears its conclusion, though, Cynan slows down again. His brow furrows as though he's searching for the correct words - or, perhaps, summoning up a substantial amount of courage to form each one. "There was discussion between myself, the Princess, and Lady Lyrienne regarding the fate of the Hostile. Whether to keep it alive, under guard, or to destroy it entirely." He's already whispering, but the last few words are more breathed than spoken. "I told them to let it live, Helena."

Helena is watching Cynan through half-lidded eyes as he speaks; she is not necessarily relaxed, but rather she is trying to exude a sense of relaxation to combat the rising anxiety she can feel emanating from her cousin. While she's not particularly an empath, all it would take is careful observation to see her cousin's emotions ratcheting up bit by bit as the story progresses.

After a moment, the woman exhales rapidly, realizing only after the fact that she had been holding her breath. She reaches out a hand to touch Cynan's arm, hoping that the act might still him before her works himself into a lathered frenzy. "I think I know where you're going with this, Cy, and I'm going to stop you before you even voice the ridiculous notion. If you want, we can walk through the reasons why it is illogical to go there."

His cousin's relaxation does seem to have /some/ effect on Cynan, in that it stops him from frenzying entirely. He's still agitated, to be sure, but his agitation makes his voice softer, not louder, his words slower and more precise, not reckless and uncontrolled. "The Hostile /was/ allowed to live. And we saw the results, did we not? Citizens dead. Knights wounded. Damage caused. For what? For /nothing/."

That last word hangs in the air for a moment, and eventually he speaks again, his voice somewhat calmer. "I do not presume to think myself solely responsible for what happened. But if I am at /all/ to blame…" His voice trails off as he shakes his head, his gaze falling to the floor.

"If you are at all to blame, you share the burden with a hundred other people," Helena offers Cynan in a quiet tone, allowing him to work himself down into a state resembling something more like calm. Resignation, maybe? Either way, someone to whom she can speak. "That is the burden of being placed in a position where you are responsible for making decisions that will affect a whole greater than just yourself, Cy, but you know this. You know this, you've done this, and you understand that sometimes there is a cost."

Helena pauses. Her words are, perhaps, coming off wrong. She unclasps her hands and uses them to tuck her hair behind her ears. "I am not trying to be callous. Let us consider the events as they occurred. You were present with Aunt, and she gave you permission to speak in her stead. She trusted you implicitly to do not only what you think would be best for all, but also what she would think. At no time did she disapprove of your decision or offer contrary advice to the Princess. Therefore, the decision you made is the same she would have."

"Two." Helena holds up two fingers. "You were not the only one offering advice. There were others to whom the Princess had spoken long before she had even arrived on The Ring. You can be assured she would not have accompanied the Hostile there until they were ready to release it should everyone come to such a consensus. The number of those who advised her prior to her arrival on The Ring was more than one person. Three: the Princess, in the end, will do as she believes is best, and she did. Four: we do not yet know if it was a complete and utter waste to have held the Hostile for at least a little while. There is yet data to analyze from the situation."

Finally, Helen comes to the end of her big long speech. She takes a breath, and holds out a hand to Cynan. "I would have asked for the same. Most people interested in learning more about the Hostiles would have said the same, and most of those who want to see us succeed believe 'know your enemy' is legitimate advice. Cy, this wasn't you. This was the beast."

Resignation. That's a good word for what Cynan is feeling, his eyes still pointed right down at the floor, his chest heaving with deep, labored breaths. He's silent as Helena speaks, raising his hands to rub at his temples. Only as she reaches the last of her points does he lift his gaze to meet hers, silently, for a long moment.

"Of /course/ there is a cost," he finally replies, slowly. "When I offered my advice, I knew there was risk that something of this sort could happen. I knew. But I did not imagine that… to this degree…" His voice trails off, then comes in again. "My reasoning was sound. But as it turned out, my estimation of the risk was in error. The fact that the same error was made by many others does not make mine the less."

The Knight shakes his head vigorously, again, and finally he reaches out to take his cousin's hand in his own. His touch is cool, as though much of the blood had drained away. "I am glad to know that you would have done the same, cousin," he whispers. "But you are not entrusted with the defense of our people, as I am."

"I am entrusted with the care of our people, though, and my decisions can also mean life or death." Helena squeezes Cynan's fingers before encouraging him to take a seat. Whether or not he chooses to, however, is no matter; she continues along the same vein in the conversation. "You knew the risk would be death. Perhaps not as many deaths as you originally expected, but death nonetheless. Now you are trying to use that as an excuse to not weigh the pros against the cons in this situation. As someone who is going to defend others, you have to know, expect, and accept that death is going to be part of the equation. You cannot say how it would have gone had everybody decided to kill the Hostile instead. Would we have inadvertently triggered it to attack had we tried to disable it permanently? Would the death toll have been the same? Possibly. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe worse. Maybe it would have been uneventful. You just don't know that."

Helena offers Cynan a faint smile of understanding. "We walk into this knowing that the fate of many will be death, but that cannot keep us from doing our jobs. That you are feeling guilt - that is not wrong. That you are feeling responsible - that is not wrong. That you are grieving their deaths - neither is this wrong. That you are willing to allow these feelings to plague you with doubt about your own abilities - that is where you err, cousin. If you doubt your decisions, then you will hesitate right when it would be wrong to do so. We must weigh the pros and the cons of this situation, gauge where the mistake was made, and learn from it. Do not let it hold you back."

A seat. Right. Cynan is almost too eager to take that seat, settling down and leaning up against the wall as he listens to more of his cousin's words. He's silent, his eyes flutter closed, and his breathing slows significantly. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth. It's not certain whether his cousin's words or the mere act of venting his frustration helped him calm himself, but he seems visibly more relaxed regardless.

"It is a strange thing, Helena," Cynan replies, slowly. "I knew that this time would come. I knew that my decisions could and would send men to their deaths. Many of them, in all likelihood. And I have been training for this for… most of my life." He shakes his head. "But nothing is adequate preparation for coming face-to-face with death itself."

Suddenly, vigorously, he shakes his head from side to side, looking back up at Helena with his eyes wide open. "You are right, of course. At a time like this especially, I cannot afford to permit my emotions to distract from my actions. Confidence is as potent a weapon as any blade." The Knight pauses, his eyes searching his cousin's face, and his lips turn downward in a little frown. "It has never been so difficult as now."

Helena turns toward Cynan when he sits, but she allows him a moment to relax. Clasping her hands together, she rests them in her lap and focuses her gaze toward the ground. Silence is neither a stranger nor an enemy, thus she remains completely relaxed while her cousin collects his thoughts and works through them internally. It is not a task she envies him.

When the knight finally speaks, she looks up to him from beneath her lashes and watches, listening intently. She is outwardly pleased that he seems relaxed, but her responding smile does not quite reach her eyes. "I would not consider that strange, coz. You can know theory, but you can't really know until you're out there performing the do. I do not advise stuffing your emotions away in a box; you should allow yourself to feel them, to cope with them, and to move beyond them. But you are right, confidence is imperative."

"Perhaps you are right." Cynan's shoulders lift in a little shrug, and his lips press together. "I suppose that, prior to the recent events, I viewed the impending wartime as simply another task. One to be expected, and surmounted, and conquered like any other." A little sigh. "Naive, perhaps. But one cannot know until it is experienced firsthand."

Cynan lets out a soft, drawn-out sigh, and his lips quirk upward just a little bit as he looks back at Helena. Even if her smile doesn't reach her eyes, it brings him no small degree of comfort. "I have a suspicion," he says, slowly, "that you and I will be depending on one another quite a great deal in the coming days." And weeks. And months. And years, in all likelihood. "But I find myself thinking that that is not, perhaps, such a terrible thing." His fingers intertwine with hers as he speaks.

"Of course I am right. I am always right. This goes without saying." Sensing that the overall mood has improved, Helena takes the opportunity to interject a jest. Or at least one would hope she is joking… Her smile widens, and this time the corners of her eyes crinkle with the expression. "Ah, Cynan, no truer words have yet been spoken than these," she replies, offering his fingers another squeeze as he takes her hand. "I do not think I would have it any other way. In such times as these, it is the greatest comfort to know that there is at least one person who can see me at my worst and seek to help rather than judge."

The smile turns a little bit cheeky, and Helena turns her head away enough that she has to glance sideways to see Cynan's face. "Besides, if in all of this you find your mettle does not take you so far as to command troops, you can always come join me. You make such a lovely and willing assistant, and I bet you'd look just darling in blacks."

"Of course you are, Helena. The only question is whether I will be quick enough to acknowledge the truth of your words." He's also joking, right? Probably. His smile gets a little wider, a little more genuine, and his eyes lift as he looks back at her. "And it is no small comfort to me to know that, for lack of a better term, I have someone who will help me keep my wits about me." There's a little flash of teeth as his grin grows for a moment. "That, I think, should be a comfort to more than just ourselves."

That last comment, though, gets an actual /chuckle/ from the Knight, albeit a soft and momentary thing. "I daresay I would have better luck joining you in the clinic than you would joining me in the army, cousin," he replies in a mock-serious whisper, giving her hand a playful squeeze. It's a joke, but it's also a challenge, and he gives a little nod at the severity underlying the jest. "We both have our duties," he adds, smile vanishing for just a moment.

For a moment, Helena allows herself to indulge in the warmth of squishy feelings-sharing-time, despite the fact that if it were anyone else she'd probably be barfing. So when Cynan follows her into less emotionally indulgent territory, her shoulders straighten a little more and her posture becomes more relaxed. She is not always comfortable with the touchy-feely parts of relationships. "Oh you know I would flounder and fail miserably in the military. I have a hard time with authority, even when I am trying so hard to be obedient. Ahaha, sorry, I couldn't even say that with a straight face."

And then, of course, the good mood drifts away like a fart on the breeze. At the mention of duty, Helena stirs from the semi-hypnotic comfort they have created in their cozy niche, and her gaze darts toward the open doorway leading out into the audience hall. Nothing seems amiss, so it is not as if they've failed to greet any visiting dignitaries. "You're due for your shift soon?"

"Are you so certain, cousin?" Cynan's mood is still reasonably jovial, but there's a hint of seriousness to his voice. "Obedience may not be the greatest of your skills, granted, but you /are/ quite impressively determined. I have little doubt that if you put your mind to a career in the army, you would acquit yourself quite well." Leaning in, he whispers, "Don't."

A few moments more, though, and likewise Cynan shifts his attention over to the door, responding with a little nod. "I believe I am. And you should return to the clinic as well, no?" He's still smiling, but it's now a polite, almost grim thing, lips pressed together tightly. Pale blue eyes gazing into hers, he whispers, "Thank you, Helena. Thank you."

Helena's nose wrinkles as Cynan leans in, and his whispers causes her to laugh - a quiet, breathy sound. "I will not," she promises, although her words are far from amused; rather, they carry with them the forceful weight of someone who is making a genuine promise. She is not going to put her life on the line needlessly.

The spell is officially broken. With a sigh, Helena reaches up to pull her hair loose and shake it out, working through it with her fingers to tame it (unsuccessfully) before putting it up once more. "No, I pulled an early one today. Instead, I need to check my notes and then summon my bodyguards to accompany me out of town. I will be away for two days or so while I skip through some of your dreaded outlying settlements and make sure everything is in order." She pauses again as Cynan thanks her, and replies by leaning in to brush a kiss over his forehead. "Any time, coz. Get to work."

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