03.24.3014: Paying the Piper
Summary: Nitrim comes clean to Roger
Date: 11 December 2013
Related: In Your Arms Solace Be Found
Nitrim Roger 


Roger's Offices — The Hand
Room description included in scene.
March 24, 3014

Khournas. Why is it always this particular Khournas intruding upon the Lord Commodore's valuable time? Somehow Roger has found a spare moment to receive Nitrim regardless, and so he's seated in his study in one of the quieter corners of the Hand, slumped into an armchair behind an honest-to-the-Six wooden desk. It's ornately carved with the whirlwind symbol of House Hollolas in the front, and, of course, there's hardly any room for him to do actual work there. This desk, at least, is wide enough to serve as an improvised buffet table, and that's what it's doing now.

Arriving on-time with a fresh, purpling bruise over the bridge of his nose, Nitrim keeps his cowl low to keep it from being local-gossip as he's led to Roger's study. Arms clasped behind his back and his eyes to the heels of his escort, two knocks are had and the door is opened for Nitrim. With a whispered word of thanks, Nitrim slips into the room and pulls his cowl over his shoulders, looking to the large, salty man across from him.

"Thank you for taking the time, Lord Commodore." Nitrim greets him, moving to stand on the other side of the table. "Every time we've spoken it's been a rather public thing. I was hoping we could be less formal, and I less Paramount behind closed doors for the right reasons."

"Save your thanks, Lord Nitrim. Show me you're not wasting my time first, and we'll see whether it's gratitude or apology you owe." Good to see you too, kid. "Your note was a bit /short/ on detail, lad, but I saw that you asked to speak as men. Well, here you are." Sea-green eyes narrow and focus on Nitrim's, and he manages to take a bite from one of his prepared snacks without letting them wander even for a moment. "Speak."

Dropping into one of the chairs across from the desk, Nitrim rests his hands on his knees and focuses his mossy, green stare at the High Lord of the Hand. Quickly rubbing his hands together to restore the circulation, Volkan being much warmer than the Hand, he settles back and clears his throat. "Please, just Nitrim." He starts, taking in a deep breath. Here it goes. "Despite what the tabloids say, I give you my word that I am not the man they paint me to be, and I've been clawing like a drowning ape to get out from under that umbrella. Let's be fair. I have a terrible reputation and you know I have eyes for your daughter. I am a friend to Ephraim, but I seek your respect and acceptance."

"And I'll be fair in return, Nitrim," Roger says, as softly as he can manage - which is to say that the walls of the study only reverberate a little bit. "You have, by your own admission, a rather poor reputation. You're telling me, now, to take you at your word. Wasn't born yesterday, lad. You'll need to do better than /that/." A little pause. "And let us not dance about the issue. You don't 'have eyes' for Cyrielle. You intend to court her."

"I would, in a heartbeat, and I would be good to her." Nitrim replies simply, keeping his tone in a medium peace and his volume beneath the man of the house. Leaning forward, he rests his elbows on his knees and maintains their uncomfortable (at least for Nitrim) eye contact. "But some things of that reputation are not my doing, like a snowball kicked down a hill. Others…are more than deserved. I was far more thoughtless than careless, Lord Commodore, and I've got sins. I'm not going to hide that with silvered words and feed you bullshit."

"Would you, now." The matter of Nitrim's reputation, it seems, has left Roger's mind at least for a few moments. Slowly, he gets to his feet, then turns about to put his back to the Khourni. Arms fold over his chest, and his eyes are fixed at what's undoubtedly a very interesting stretch of wall. "I understand you've never /been/ married, lad, though I hear you were all set to be wed not too long ago. Easy for a man who's never been on a ship to claim he can sail." Pause. "Tell me what you'd do."

Nitrim's eyes sharpen as Roger turns his back to him, giving the Khournas the freedom of finding his own terribly interesting spot on the desk to memorize. Even the most polished desk has the little imperfections and dark waves in the wood's grain, turning the veins into something that could be interpreted like clouds in the sky. "I was nearly wed." Nitrim murmurs, a soft sigh leaving him. "I had thought to make a decision that would damage me far more than her to relieve her of the poison Soleil and I were. I thought myself the martyr of the situation, though in the end her lack of control mirrored my own, and now Lady Soleil is dead. It's a ghost I'll have to answer to in the afterlife."

"Lord Commodore," Nitrim continues, lifting his gaze to the back of the man's head. "I've never been married, but I've learned to dedicate to things other than myself, and I've dedicated myself to her. Sometimes it's clear skies and other times it isn't. I don't have all of the answers and it's something I would have to try to master as I go." Nitrim snorts. "But master is a bullshit word to use. Most married couples I see don't master that anymore than my father's ridden a fucking drake."

For the first part of Nitrim's story, Roger is in that rarest of all states: utter silence. Even for a good bit afterword, he doesn't have much to add. There's just a single word that escapes his lips, one that he repeats as the Khourni finishes. "Ghosts…"

To the second part, he gives a little nod. "That much you understand, lad. If you can't place something other than /yourself/ at the top of your list, you've no business marrying anyone's daughter." The next part could likely go unsaid, but Roger feels the need to say it anyway. "Let alone mine." Pause. "Clawing like a drowning ape, you say. Imagine that's a Hell of a struggle."

"Ghosts…" Nitrim replies, matching the man's tone as he nods off into the ether. The dark fabric over Nitrim's shoulder rises as his chest expands, taking in a deep breath. "I've yet to be allowed to pay my respects. Cyrielle tells me she did it to herself, and your daughter is right. I'm not longing for a dead girl, Lord Commodore, but there are simply some things you can't get forgiveness for until after death, and some things you can't forget until you get forgiveness."

"I won't lie to you," Nitrim continues forward. "There's a good deal of things few know about me. I used to be an addict; crawled out of that. I wasn't a user of women, but the tabloids are close. There was plenty of mutual use and horrible mornings. As an Awakened and all that comes from it, you learn the hard way there are things you cannot hide from, and when you come up for air wanting more for your life, you have a mess to clean first. I've sacrificed far more than people have seen." Nitrim lets the thought trail off as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out his case of cigarettes. He opens it towards Roger. "Cigarette?"

"Don't tell me about regrets, lad. I had my share before you were so much as a twinkle in Jevon's eye." There's more than a bit of /snap/ in the Lord Commodore's voice now, but there is, hidden under the anger, perhaps the slightest hint of… empathy? Not sympathy, but maybe a little understanding.

"Glad to hear you've slipped free of that particular devil," the Lord Hollolas continues, without much actual gladness in his voice. "There's three sorts of marriages out there, Nitrim. In the first kind, you have two whole, healthy people, building each other up, catching 'em when they fall. That's /good/ sort, in case you were curious." Or had a head full of sawdust. "Then there's the sort with one healthy and one sick, one whole and one broken. Those sorts of spouses are no better than lampreys. And the third sort…" He shakes his head. "The sort where you have two lampreys."

At the offered cigarette, he simply shakes his head.

"May I, then?" Nitrim asks, keeping the cigarette case open as he gets comfortable, leaving the rows of golden-filtered cigarettes loaded and ready for his taking.

"Cyrielle and I have similar feelings about being Awakened," Nitrim continues, fingers reaching to his ear to pinch at the lobe and wish away a sudden itch. "My awakening was…hell. Sequestration. Alienation. It's left me having to work my way back from feeling an alien thing, which is not exactly her experience, but her and I have connected as two people re-integrating after being out in the woods for too long. I don't think either of us are the unhealthy type, Lord Commodore. I think we're a team, and her and I don't see eye to eye on every matter, but she's helped me clear some hurdles, as I help her with hers. My demons; my addiction. Her demons; her dark skies."

"If you wish," Roger replies, flatly. The Lord Hollolas, it seems, is far too busy with food to bother with tobacco. Accordingly he turns around to take another bite… a move that, incidentally, allows his eyes to fall on Nitrim again. "You say all the right words, Nitrim," he adds, with a little nod. "It's damn unfortunate for you that I put so little stock in words."

Slipping a cigarette into his lip, Nitrim's eyes wash over into a milky cloud of white. The end of his fingers catch on fire, and he dips the end of the cigarette into it. A small puff and a whisp of cloud later, he extinguishes the flame and his eyes turn to normal once more.

"I've survived by knowing how to speak. I…" Nitrim bites down on his words, blowing a smoke ring towards the side of them. "…secrets, Lord Commodore, don't get set free unless you know how to speak the right way. I don't warmonger, but not everyone's problems go away being hit with an axe, and that's what I've been doing in this bloody war: paying attention."

With a furrow of his brow, he sets his tablet on the table between him and Roger. With a few taps, he brings up a recording.

"I met your daughter seven months ago, Lord Commodore, and since then I've only had eyes for her. This…was from the day I nearly lost my sister Reena, and got this damnable scar on my neck.


There's a recording, a series of clangs and shouts and cries in between static and blackout spaces. A sudden view of the inside of a helmet, a holographic head's up display flickers into place long enought to show a field of wounded soldiers, dead Hostile, and a scary looking priest firing a strange weapon. To the side, there are vital-signs, and none of them look happy. Warnings flare everywhere. The image cuts out.

"Cyri! -ith my sisters. Ther— bomb!"

The screen image returns, the helmet calm lulling to the side as Nitrim stumbles, flame shooting out towards the Priest. The screen washes over and black returns.

"-ink my communicati- fucked! -ease get this! I'm hur— FUCKING BASTARDS. I WILL surviv— this. I lov—"

«COMMUNICATION FAILURE: MESSAGE SENT AT END OF BUFFER»


For the second time in the conversation, Roger falls utterly silent. That has to be some sort of record. His sea-green eyes are fixed on the recording, flickering over to Nitrim only briefly at the mention of the scar. Yup, there it is. He's quiet, still, for some time after it shuts off, and when he speaks, his voice is barely above a murmur.

"You're no spoiled prince, lad, I can see that well enough. You've taken up some /weight/. We'll see if it makes you stronger or breaks your back." Sigh. "Prove that you can stand on your own two feet, Nitrim. Prove that you have the makings of a captain. Prove that you're the sort of man I'll be /proud/ to have as a son-in-law, and you can have my daughter's hand." Those sea-green eyes haven't blinked for what looks like an eternity. "Not until then."

Taking the tablet back, after having played something that couldn't possibly have been staged, Nitrim slips the device back into his inner breast pocket. The cigarette comes to his lips once more, and the cherry at the end flares in a drag. Slowly, he nods to show the Lord Commodore that he understands what he has been told.

"I was growing tired of feeling like I was selling you a bag of magic rocks." Nitrim replies, scratching at his head as he taps the wood of the table with his index finger. "I do respect the sea, Lord Commodore, and I've sailed with your daughter and have been offered lessons from Ephraim but…nobles and Paramounts of coddled and if I'm some protected, lacy shred of fluff you'd be marrying your daughter to a mistake. So…if you're so inclined, and can find a ship to take me for a week here, a week there, as a greenhorn that wouldn't be given any golden treatment, I would be interested." Nitrim leans forward. "And I mean lashes if I earn them, Lord Commodore. I'm…" Nitrim's brows lower, knitting together in the center. "…I believe I'm above no one save for my actions, and I what I'm looking for, for myself, is to stop fighting the press and start building myself."

There's likewise a nod of acknowledgment from the Lord Commodore, and… is that just a hint of a smile? Maybe? It's a quick thing, a blink-and-you'll-miss it thing. "We'll see what we can do, Lord Nitrim," he replies, flatly, as a servant appears in the doorway to the study. "Show our esteemed visitor out, if you will." Back to the Khourni, and sea-green eyes bore into his for a moment longer. "Looking forward to our visit to the Blackspyre, lad. Until then."

A genuine smile creases Nitrim's lips, which would look rakish if not for the purpled bruise that lines his eye-level. Instead, he looks more a young man showing off the first felled drake of the season in a holo-photo. "Thank you for your time, Lord Commodore." Nitrim breathes, patting the top of his desk as he rises. "Truly. I look forward to it." With a respectful bow of his head, even though he is a Paramount and outranks the Lord Commodore, he turns to leave with a straighter back, and a strength to his shoulders.

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