08.29.3013: Skipping Stones
Summary: Nora does more than give the Senator a call back. Talk ensues and bridges are inspected.
Date: 30 08 2013
Related: Chance Meeting
Alistair Nora 

Just outside the Leonnidian Stronghold
In Log
September 29, 3013

The approach to the majestic Castle Leonnida, in its stunning lake just two clicks from the Roar, was lined with banners of the bright blue and yellow of the House for which it is named. Giant lion gargoyles line the outside of the walls of the very Medieval appearing fortification in tribute to the Reversion. Though it looks like an old-fashioned stone fortress, it is made from reinforced synthetic alloys that simply give the color and appearance of such.

The Hall of the Pride is adjacent to the entryway beyond the portcullis of the central tower. A man, whose thinness leaves him consumed by the hooded cloak he's now wearing, walks swiftly through the dizzying concentric circles, hood up, trying to avoid attention. He briskly makes his way just outside the castle's walls to the pristine lake, glistening and reflecting the night's sky. He semi-collapse-sits, the bright blue and yellow garb showing from underneath the pitch black cloak, which seems to be quite old and worn.

The movement is not meant to be hidden as silken blue fabric to match the blues of the Leonnida banners straining in the breeze. Nora tilts her head, dark hair pulled back and sculpted as a dash of color paints her lids to match the color of her dress. Heels click softly and finally come to a stop as her voice lifts to do the interceding. "Alistair…I wanted to compliment you on a job well done," she dips her head to him, blue eyes searching the man beneath the hood. "Do you always run away so fast from the events you organzie?"

Her gaze slips back towards the entrance and then once more to him, "I hated to bother you and it seemed like the air near you was stuffy with titles. I do so hate remembering every one of them sometimes. Maybe that is why you are in such a hurry."

Immediately coming out of his slightly morbid meditation. "And do you often stalk strangers?" He smiles, looking up at her, some tension seeming to dissipate in the moment. Alistair stands, studying her curiously. "A job well done, you say? And why might that be?" He lets the comment about titles fall by the wayside…or perhaps he files it away for later. His eyes drift from her face to the view of the lake.

"Well you are not a stranger, Alistair. You gave me all I needed to know the other night," Nora glances with him towards the lake, turning slightly as she adds, "I was wanting to say that I likely could have some pull with the Orelle's in syphoning funds to your charity. I think a job well done needs to be rewarded." Her head turns, glancing back over her shoulder at him before she turns to give him a profile view. "Are you always so attached to your own projects? You seemed quite moved while delivering your speech."

"Why would one voluntarily work on a project about which they weren't passionate?" Alistair says the words philosophically, knowing life isn't quite that simple. "Besides the infinite number of reasons that one would, of course…" He smiles. "And I'm sure an Assistant Castellan such as yourself has quite the pull…all help is appreciated." There's a knowing twinkle in his eyes as he nods, the Senate does have infinite connections after all. And then a sigh, mixed perhaps with relief or stress. "Were you in attendance for the banquet gala fundraiser…I don't even know what to call it. I'm sure the press will have some creative name for it tomorrow." He smirks at the thought.

Warm amusement draws across her face, causing her smirk to seem less calculating than usual. "Ahh so you have found me out. I figured you would…cheers," she compliments him with a dip of her head again before she nods her head, glancing to the lake once more. "I was, Alistair, I was. I am certain the cameras were very busy recording and documenting every moment of fashion, well to dos and nobility to last for a lifetime. But that never seems to be enough, but your message will get through, eventually, even if they are too blind to actually open their mouths about the benefit." Her blue eyes flicker back to his. "I did not want to miss the chance of congratulating you, so I have." Pausing, she tilts her head to the side, eyes going distant as she stares off into the air. "SO you are passionate in causes, Alistair. And you are passionate for your work, that we share in common."

He chuckles at her congratulatory remarks and begins walking along the lake's edge, tilting his head in an invitation to her. "One only hopes that the message will get through in time." The Senator's brow furrows, blue eyes considering a great many things. "But I strive to do what is right, not that which is expedient." He shrugs. It's true. "What other passions do you have, Nora?" If she does follow in the walk, his face will not subtlety turn to her as they walk.

It takes a moment, but the click of her heels signal her joining him just before her presence is at his side. A leisurely stride is affected and she nods her head, "You can only make the ripples, you have to hope they continue without finding obstacles, Alistair. You can not trust that everyone is going the same way though," Nora glances briefly at him before she continues on, chin lofting as blue eyes take in the surface that dances about, as if a testament to her ripples metaphor. Her head dips through, a soft laugh escaping her with a long, amused sigh, "So you could not figure that out in your research of me," eyes look to him and then she shakes her head, once more giving her attention to the lake. "I enjoy painting…" its said in a soft tone, as if its often forgotten, even by her.

Keeping a steady but leisurely pace, Alistair becomes aware that he has just inadvertently asked a woman in heels, if nonverbally, to stroll. He smiles thoughtfully, slowly easing into the optimism that fits his core. "I think someone should be better informed about when she's mentioned in the news." He winks at her and turns his face away still walking. "I didn't have to research you, nor would I want some sheet of paper to tell me who you are supposedly." Still smiling, he seems quite satisfied.

"It would seem a more efficient way of going about it, on paper that is," Nora comments, "After all you seem nothing but occupied and busy, flitting from one place to the next. I dare to think what you would do if the ways were to fail." Amusement colors her tone, her lips pressing into a barely contained smile. "And you, any passions that I could not get by watching you dabble at the causes you so love?" A hand smooths the sleek material at her hip, each click of her heel made effortlessly. If it bothers her to stroll, she does not show it.

"Efficiency sometimes is an impediment to beauty." Alistair says, eyes resting on her as he talks of beauty. "I enjoy dancing, when the occasion calls for it. And wandering streets, meeting people. Actually is one of my favorite pasttimes." He takes in a deep breath, smelling the air, as if it is rejuvenating him somehow.

"Then yesterday was just your cup of tea," her eyes meet his and linger. "I find that rather amusing…though sadly there is little to hide from you now that you are learning so much. I do enjoy games…the mystery, the hunt…" Her smile warms and she lets off a soft airy laugh, coming to a slower pace and finally going still to study the lake at hand once more. "Tell me, Alistair, what secrets do you have and how might I win them from you?" There is a sharpness to her gaze, an obvious allure to the task she presents for them both.

"A Senator…having secrets? Whoever heard of such a thing?" His eyes glint in interest though, even as he teases. "And, as for tea, I prefer coffee, since we're in a sharing mood now…Why is it you wish to know my alleged secrets? Gonna blackmail me, eh?" He's still all smiles, seeming to gain more pep in his step as they continue walking.

"I have never 'heard', just observed, Alistair. No one hears of senatorial secrets…not unless they are late to the party," there is a light chuckle fromt he woman and she lifts her brow, "I can manage coffee, but tea is the better more…versatile choice." As for the rest, she is silent. Deadly so for a good minute before she answers, "And what if I am? DOes it not thrill you with anxiousness at the thought of someone holding your deep secrets in their hand," she extends her own forward, as if catching the air or some unseen item.

Reaching for her hand, seeing as it just seemed quite so lonely there, Alistair will grab and hold it, if she lets him, letting the hold fold betwixt them as they continued walking. "I'm a Senator and have an inflated sense of self-importance for my secrets though…" He nods, partially in a mocking thoughtful tone. "You seem like you are quite observant and you might have an impressive collection of secrets already…how am I to know that mine will be valued adequately?" The tone is businesslike, though he's not entirely certain what they are actually discussing at this point

The appendage caught in his own, Nora does not disengaged the contact, allowing him at least that much and even easing into a light hold - the pressure felt in turn. "If you truly had an inflated sense of self-importance, which I do not believe, you would have remained, spoken, chummed and been pals with the nobility…I should not have been able to catch you all alone," there is a weight to her words, her head turning as blue eyes look up at him. "It is my job to observe, tally, collect and secrets are a personal favorite. As for yours…let us say I did not even know you existed in that sense until the other night." She pauses to emphasize her next words, "But let us say that I am interested now, does that answer your question of being valued adequately?"

"Ahh…but there's the cost for such a thing, well, as in all things really." His smile broadens and he gently squeezes her hand. "And my fee is time. The more valuable the secret is to me, the more time it shall require. Though of course, bartering for your own secrets might be feasible too." It is clear that Alistair was never the best at flirting, but he's certainly trying right now.

"You do not barter for my secrets, Alistair," Nora laughs softly to herself, "You earn them. Its called trust and I…will tell you this much. Very few hold my trust, if any at all." If he was to flirt with anyone, he's chosen a rather immovable woman, an inner strength shoring up her will. She however dips her head, "But as your fee is time, then I have nothing else I can do but acquiesce. And given that time is what brings about trust, it could very well be a mutual sharing."

"Hmmm…indeed, might I show you something? It's not precisely a secret, but perspective?" The Senator stops and awaits her answer. "Unless you have other pressing matters to which you must attend." The last statement is sincere, Alistair's natural concern leaking out.

A brow rises high over one eye and she considers him, stilling at his side. She hesitates but a curiousity washes over her, "Yes…and no. If I did I would not be here," she reminds him. Smiling, her cool exterior seems to warm, much like the drink did for her the other night. "I have this night free, Alistair, so do stop worrying about my duties for me, that is my job.

"Alright, alright, then we should certainly be walking this way." He pivots and does a 180, offering his hand, open palmed for her to take if she so chose. Either way, he'll continue to walk in a direction leading away from the Castle, the Roar in the distance.

Looking at his hand as well, there is a deep amount of hesitation before she finally takes his hand. She follows him, stride for stride as her blue silk dress moves like liquid just past her knees. The click of her heels sound, double and then slow as she catches up with him. She tends her silence, but watches him occasionally, her eyes lifting to scan.

They'll reach a bridge that crosses over the lake the serves as a fortifying feature for the Castle. Alistair's eyes will seem more and more focused on the bridge as they get closer to it. It's actually an impressive work of masonry, stones creating patterns while remaining solid and strong. The blue and yellow colors of Leonnida are displayed in banners lining the sides of the bridge. "Do you prefer the artificial life of the Ring? I find it to be rather cold. Control yields benefits, but also dulls the creative spirit."

Given something to respond to, she is still quiet, considering her words. Nora finally nods, "I suppose I have gotten used to the easy, simplified daily routine it offers. Though some would argue the meaning of simple…I suppose it is how one views the meaning. It could dull the creative spirit..if it was allowed to. I must admit that this has a sort of romantic appeal to it, the open lands, the changing seasons, the weather and the breezes. Wild. Free."

As they start on the bridge, Alistair will seem to stomp every few steps on the stones, seeming quite familiar with them. "They are called the Southern Wilds after all…" He smiles, hand squeezing hers. "So, I'm going to assume that you have no information on me, but please stop me if I'm providing dull details of which you are already aware. My father, you see, was a mason." Alistair is now looking at the stones with a sense of pride.

"So they are," Nora returns, her gaze flickering up to him with a sort of wry interest. "I presume to know nothing…tell me," the woman holds great interest, it even carries in her voice. Passion. The first time since they first met there is even a twinge of it in her voice. Her attention is completely for him, his words and she nods to note she has heard him, eyes narrowing minutely in study as she follows his steps - albeit sans stomping. Which would be ridiculous in heels.

Hardly one to deny an audience for one of his personal stories, not the ones of other people he told all the time, but one of himself, the Leonnidan looks across the bridge and points. "There…" As they step closer, there's a distinct fracture in the rock, probably a few feet long. "When they were renovating the bridge, my Da would bring me out here after schooling. He worked nonstop for six months so that I could get an interview for scholarship…and this is where I got the bright idea to climb a banner with a telescope…" He smirks at the story, kinda letting the words hang there, slightly unfinished as he looks up to the night sky.

Nora is a good listener as well, watching him at times, others following his gaze. The chip in the bridge is noted, even inspected closely before he mentions scaling the pole. Bemusement colors her features and she chews at the inside of her cheek before responding, "You wanted to travel? Something romantic like that? The stars were the answer to everything?" She presumes in a leading way, but turns to him for the answer, watching closely. Reading him.

Glad to see that she's entertained, even slightly, Alistair leans over the edge of the bridge slightly, looking down at the water for moment. "More like I had a crush who's name was also happened to be a star, and I didn't want to cheat and use some holopad to find it for me. So I was gonna make sure I could find it first, Papa suggested the bridge, since it's away from the Castle and the city." His smile is warm and gentle as he reminisces, blue eyes glancing from her to the water. "So, while he was working one night, I came with him and was certain that I just had the wrong angle, if I'd just get a littttllee higher. Unfortunately for me, those wooden poles are not to carry would-be romantic teenagers, fell right in the newly laid stone and everything!" He chuckles at the memory, as if it is certainly one he's gone over many times in his mind

Eventually she joins him, resting a hand on the bridge, fingers finding a place upon the stone. Gazing up at the stars overhead, she seems lightly amused, "A crush…well you are a romantic…head over heels falling in love romantic, save that time you found a hard landing." His humor helps ease some of her reserve and Nora trails her fingers along the masonry work, falling into silence, "They could not care you even more so now…" she warns him, "Though I wonder if there could be anything to get you to climb that pole again…another passion of yours. Or are you too smart now for such ramblings."

"Oh no…still quite the same kid in a number of ways. I'd climb the pole if the cause were right, but I imagine you'd already figured that out." He smiles, still looking up at the night sky. "Though I can't for the life of me remember her name or which star…just that it had been the wrong season to find it in the night sky at all." His arms are completely on the stony wall as he leans forward.

A soft laugh escapes her and she sighs, gazing up with him as she leaves a foot or so between. Fingers trail, paint movements on the stone as she speaks without looking over at him, "Do you often forget your passions…do they burn quickly until they are gone to be replaced by another? It is sad you can not remember her name and the star's. You are a man given completely to your work, I admire that, but I wonder if you ever take time for yourself." Finally she lowers her gaze and looks to him, "Do you remember what she looked like?"

He shifts slightly so he can better turn to look at her, though he makes no motion to close the distance. "I do quite remember her green eyes…and her dream at the time was to camp in the Wilds for weeks a time, living off just what she was able to hunt and gather on her own…" Alistair seems to be considering her question rather deeply, though he's smiling and his eyes try to catch hers, connecting the ice blues whenever possible. "I think my passions are more about the motivation. The why I'm doing it will determine its longevity, I've found." One of his feet is tracing the crack in the stone behind him, seemingly out of a force of habit as he's not even looking as it makes the perfect trail back and forth. "What exactly do you mean by taking time for myself? Are you suggesting that I'm altruistic somehow?"

"Perhaps I am, I think part of you garners your self satisfaction out of helping others…and yet the other half of you years for that freedom that keeps your impish nature alive. Like the draw of the young woman in your past or the gazing at the stars, your romantic notions. Fact is, Alistair, I do not know you well enough to say anything of this as fact, I am presuming things from what I have seen. I do think there are two faces to you, and most do not see it, you mold them seamlessly, but part of you suffers each time. Am I wrong? Likely so." Nora's eyes do not shy from his, confident and immoveable much as the woman standing not far from him. "I can only glean bits of who you are as I learn of them…of you. So do forgive me if I overstep."

"Aren't there two natures within us all? The one which focuses inward and the other focusing outward. And you need not be concerned about being wrong, that's all part of the process. You've got great analytical skills, don't secondguess them before giving it a chance." He picks up one of stones and looks at her grinning. "Do you know how to skip? My record's 7."

Nora gives him an incredulous look at the mention of skipping, her lips parting as she stares at the rock in his hand and then looks up at him. "Skipping stones?" It seems his compliment is lost for the moment in the face of such an odd question. He's unsteadied her with that, the young man within him causing Nora to clear her throat and finally form an answer, "No, I can't say I have, to be honest. I guess no one has ever asked and I have never actually tried…"

The Senator hadn't skipped a rock probably since he was 14, but the memory of the moment had inspired him, however briefly, to give it a shot. The rock bounces once. Laughing at his failure. "And apparently my new record is one." He makes no motion to pick up another rock, instead gazing back towards the Heavens.

Peering at him curiously, Nora hesitates, stepping away from the side of the bridge and with some scuffling and finally bending over, she picks one up, likely having come right off the hoof of a passing horse. She steps back to join him and she bites her lip, as if affecting something near true effort. She hesitates, draws her hand back and tries to give it a good horizontal throw, snapping her wrist. One…two..three.four. It sputters out at the end but she grins, her chin lifting with a sort of reserved triumphant settled in her shoulders. She grips the edge of the bridge an leans back, using it to hold in her place. "I think your 'record' is still seven."

"So it is, and yours stands at four." Alistair stares at the tiny ripples from the rock as they fan out in flat water. "Of which of your paintings are you most proud?" He asks, his face briefly looking to her as he asks and then returnng towards the lake.

"My paintings…it has been some time since I have done anything…" Nora hesitates, as if trying to reckon with the personal question. Her brows even furrow and she settles fully onto her feet with a soft click. "A painting of my mother," she says simply, though the way she seems to remember the piece of work comes off as something more. But she turns then, releasing the side of the bridge to take a few wandering steps, ones with now real direction.

Noting the idea and filing it away, Alistair won't press the topic for now. He follows her steps, not questioning where they're going. He'll probably steal a length glance at her figure in the blue dress while he thinks she's not looking.

Turning just enough to catch him in her peripheral, she says faintly, "You are a talented linguist and a great conversational partner, you have likely learned more of me than I would be willing to give so soon." Nora studies him, finally turning to face him. "How much time do you think it will take to get to know me and I you? A month, several…a year or more?" A brow arches, that rueful look crossing her features.

Smiling in return, Alistair will again wax philosophical. "At what point do two people truly know each other? And what will you do once you have? Is the experiment then over? All interest forgotten?" His eyes look at her face, studying its features. "What is more important, the act of learning, or the power of knowing?"

"Both," comes her answer immediately, her blue eyes sharpening. "You speak with such depth, but in the end, will knowing and learning truly be enough? You can not tell me that part of the reason you wish to know me is because two people grow closer in the process. Is there an actual reason for this or are you curious in studying me for the sake of doing so? In five years will you have forgotten my name too? And the color of my dress?"

The Senator thinks that her questions are equally as deep. "If you are questioning whether or not you'll have a lasting impact on me…then the answer is yes. Of course I'll remember your name Nora Istre. I feel confident that it's been on my lips enough times, even without me thinking about it." He finally turns his eyes away from her face and looks back to the stars with a smile. "And as stunning as you look in that dress, I'm afraid that I might forget it's color, even as I'll know your skipping record is four." Senator Hartcliffe still seems perplexed, as if he's missing a piece to a puzzle.

His answer seems to confirm something for her and Nora offers a light smile, it never quite reaches her eyes but then she has been guarded in most things - at best. Watching as he looks away, she takes a step closer to him, the soft sound of heels on stone heralding her approach as the distance is closed. "You speak as if you know me and desire to know me more so. And I would hope the color would not escape you, as I caught you look at me. Besides, it is Leonnidian blue…perhaps on purpose."

Noticing her step closer, Alistair's face will look into hers, their eyes nearly level when she's in heels. A smile breaks across his mouth again. "I like it when you smile." He considers her for a moment, not breaking the gaze. "And the blue looks stunning on you, yes. On purpose? Hmmm…" This seems to please him, though the reason is unclear. "Your attention to detail surpasses mine in that regard."

"At least I can master something to a level you can not at the very least…" her voice trails off, studying him for a time. "As much as I would like to wander with you more, my feet do have their limits." Nora looks down at her heels and then begins to turn, letting her arm swing at her side as she glances back over her shoulder. "Going to walk me to the ways and see me to the Rings or is it good bye here?" She stops, half turning towards him again and looking on expectantly.

"I'm actually headed to the Ring tonight as well." Alistair says sincerely, without hesitation or innuendo. "And there are a great many areas where your…level…surely surpasses mine." The Senator states in response as he arrives by her side and offers her his arm.

"Now you are attempting to flatter me in an effort to win me to your side. I will advise you, as sly as a move that might be with most women, it will not work on me." His arm is however taken, despite her words and Nora looks grateful, suffering her heels still, it allows her some added height to meet his gaze. "This is a decided change from our first meeting, though I have to say the other was …fortuitous. Tonight's was not so, fate had no hand. You are not hard to find when the news is plastered with your name." It is a light tease, the best he will get from her as her hand briefly tightens on his arm.

Smiling as she took his arm, the Senator will walk them to the Waygate, taking care to meter their strides. "I'm fairly confident flattery won't work, but I'd still like to give you compliments, even with that knowledge." He seems in good spirits, if not also exhausted from the day. "And who's to say Fate didn't make sure my name was plastered everywhere for you to see? If we'd met on some other night, I might have been more difficult to find." He continues walking his steady pace.

"Perhaps, I would also like to think we have a hand some days with such simple affairs as wishing to see each other," Nora states, admitting in somewhat of a direct way her want to see him again. "I figured this was better than ringing you up, seeing as you were so busy." Glancing up at him, she smiles softly and then looks ahead, her chin lifting. "Then I will take your compliments, if you intend to shower me with them." A flicker of a smile curls at the edge of her mouth and each step is matched to his seamlessly.

The Waygate is now visible to them as she finishes her statement. "I like to think fate simply provides us with a series of choices, and occasionally gives a nudge…or a yank into a brothel." Alistair smiles as they make their way forward. "And I would have probably ended up returning your call about the time you showed up."

He earns himself a chuckle for the humor, it is short, faint and she dips her head, "Well then, I am glad to have planned ahead, Alistair." Ready to return, she hesitates at the gate and turns to face him. "Thank you for tonight and being willing enough to stop to talk to me despite your hurry to be away. I enjoyed myself…and all four of my skips…as well as the story of your nameless green eyed girl. I would like to think that I know you better, but time will tell."

His pale blue eyes will look at her curiously. "Indeed it shall, perhaps it is my turn to plan ahead…" Alistair lets the statement hang a moment before he moves in for a quick kiss goodbye, though he's moving much slower than last night, apparently giving her more of an opportunity to say no as he's become increasingly wary of encroaching on her space.

Nora is a bastion unto herself and when he approaches her, she holds his gaze but does not turn away. At the last moment, she turns her lips, briefly brushing her own to the corner of his mouth, lingering a split second as she inhales deeply. Eyes having slid half closed open again to meet his gaze, studying his own features with a sort of clinical curiosity. "Did you truly want to kiss me or did I frighten you?" This is asked in a hushed tone.

Quite perplexed by her response, the Senator seems at a loss for words to her question. "Did you…frighten me? I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by that. I certainly did want to kiss you just then, judging by my actions." He smiles slightly, though he's still confused.

"Forgive me, perhaps I should have meant intimidate, because that was one very on Leonidian like kiss. If I am mistaken, aren't all of you supposed to be strong and commanding?" It is a tease, her smile showing it and then its her turn, stepping in closer, she leans in and once more finds the corner of his mouth, pressing her lips there she remains, one hand resting at his shoulder. Her nose brushes his cheek, lips parting to catch at the edge of his own before starting to pull back and look up at him. "I..however am not Leonnidian.."

If the Senator's face had not shown utter loss and confusion before, it certainly does not, only briefly before he takes his cue, arms quickly encircling her as he presses his mouth to hers in a firm yet tender moment. "I am no commander…I'm a Senator." He smiles to her and his arms start to release their hold around her.

A rueful smile curls her lips up as she feels his arms about her, stepping into him to oblige the firm press of lips. Nora tilts her chin up, easily enjoying the exchange, her mouth parting to briefly deepen the kiss. Though it remains rather chaste, she smiles at his comment, "Very well..Senator…I will bear that in mind the next time we speak," she steps back from his loosening arms, studying him a moment before she intones. "Rest well pole climber. We will see each other again." She turns, readying the waygate and leaving him to his thoughts before she passes through it.

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