The Fires of Revolution

Conversation between Fliuch and Liriel (East Sellen Riverside)

19 Sarenith 4715

The party’s left the Highwaymen’s camp, and have a tiger in tow. It’s a few days’ trip back to Riverton, and they’re setting up a small sleep area. With how they’ve drawn lots and decided to distribute watch responsibility, Liriel and Fliuch are to stand watch on the same shift, around midnight.

Fliuch yawns while tuning and re-tuning her lute, and smiles brightly at the monk while testing the strings.

Liriel sits cross-legged near the fire, facing away into the darkness. She mutters a mantra under her breath, watching for disturbances.

The bard glances at the be-caged tiger, and turns to look back to Liriel. She stops adjusting her strings, and speaks softly. “I’m glad the tiger’s looking a little better. Asir will be so surprised!”

Liriel starts slightly, as if surprised that Fliuch spoke to her. “Yes. It is good we could recover all of his property.”

Fliuch’s smile persists, and she nods. “You’re good at fighting.” She plays several chords softly, looking down at her instrument. “Without any weapons or armour, too. Where did you learn it?”

“In Isger.” Liriel speaks without turning to face Fliuch. “I was raised by the Sisters of the Golden Erinyes. We are all trained as such. Our style mimics that of the barbed devils, designed to cause pain without death.”

Liriel shakes her head. “Punishment ends with death.”

The girl’s playing pauses, but she keeps smiling. “Oh. I see! Were you a justiciar? Someone who punished a lot of people?”

Liriel turns to face Fliuch. “I am an arbiter. Think of it as a wandering justicar. Galt is to be my first mission.”

Her voice becomes hollow, “I am to be Judge, Jury, and, if necessary, Executioner.” she recites as if by rote. “I will return Law to this cursed land.”

She looks intently at Fliuch. “What is your purpose?”

“Executioner..?” Fliuch picks up playing a calm, pleasant song. “That’s quite a.. Pursuit. You’re going to kill evil people?”

“I will punish the guilty. That punishment may be death, on occasion. Whether one is good or evil is irrelevant. All that matters is adherance to the Law.”
She looks out into the darkness again. “You didn’t answer my question, by the way.”

Fliuch’s expression flattens, her lips pursed. “Oh.” She watches the fire for a short while before asking, “No, I didn’t. I’m from the Nolands, and I’m looking for a person.” She steals occasional glances at Liriel as she asks, “Who’s law?”

Liriel looks at Fliuch, now wearing a puzzled expression. “Th-the Law put down by mortals to govern themselves. Without Law there is Chaos, and with Chaos comes suffering.”

She holds her hand out to the forest and lands beyond. “This country has been at war with itself for decades. The people suffer. There is Chaos as far as one can see. That’s the reason those bandits exist, the reason there are great pits filled with bodies by the roads, the reason my paren-”

She goes silent. “Why are you looking for them?”

The bard nods as Liriel speaks, keeping eye contact. The lute sits silently in her lap. “They ensorcelled my mother.” She considers, and her expression becoming wrought with sympathy. She furrows her brow, adding, “I’m sorry you’re in this kind of position. It must be a lot of responsibility.”

Liriel sets back down, facing the fire this time. “It is…” her voice grows wistful, “It is an honor. I am the youngest arbiter in nearly four decades. I cannot fail my mission, it would be a stain on the Sisterhood.”

She looks Fliuch directly in the eyes, gold meeting brown. “What will you do when you find them?”

“Your mission is to enforce laws? Natural ones?” Fliuch asks, picking random notes. Her tone’s melancholic. “Is killing against them?”

Liriel begins to recite again. “Murder is defined as knowingly and willingly killing another sapient being. One may kill in self defence or the defence of others, if all lesser means have failed or cannot be reasonably employed. One may kill in the line of duty of one’s appointed task, as directed by a legal authority.”

“I’m sorry, I-” Fliuch tightens her mouth, and leans back against the stone behind her. “I’m sorry. I’m interested in learning about you, and was going to answer.”

Sitting upright and looking into Liriel’s eyes, she proceeds. “I intend to find them, and discuss what happened. I don’t know why they did what they did. But there’s got to be a good explanation. I’m not out for blood or revenge, I just want to sort it out and fix what went wrong.”

She breaths out heavily, and smiles halfway. “They made a deal with my mother. She’s a skilled luthier. She made a lute for them, and they left.”

“They came back a few days later, and attacked her. I don’t know why, and nobody else does, either.” Her expression hardens. “But they killed my dad, and my brother, and my sister. There’s got to be a reason for it.”

“And what if there isn’t? What if it was all just the whim of a cruel soul? What will you do, should you find it was random chance? That Chaos destroyed your family?”

Fliuch frowns, considering. “I try to keep an open mind about it, but it just wouldn’t make sense. People don’t do bad things just because they’re ‘bad’. They always have reasons.” She adjusts her sitting position, leaning the lute carefully against the stone and kneeling on her layered skirts. The fire reflects brightly from her cheerful orange dress. “I think people only hurt others if they’re desperate, or were wronged, or were hurt themselves.” She smiles. “People start out good.”

Liriel stares at Fliuch for a very long time. “Do you believe in destiny?”

The bard is quiet for a moment. “You mean, fate? Like we’re headed to a future we don’t control?”

“Yes.” Liriel furrows her brow and appears to choose her next words very carefully, “Do you believe that we are on a set path from birth, our every move preordained and unchangeable?”

“No. Of course not!” Fliuch smiles. "We choose everything we do, and make our own futures. That’s probably why people fight so much.”

Liriel’s face hardens and she turns to once again to face the dark forest. She sits silently while Fliuch strums quietly on her lute. After a bit, she speaks, “Filuch?”

The girl’s fingers dance on the fretboard. She picks a soothing melody and slowly opens her eyes. She looks to the monk, her smile filling her every feature. “Yes, Liriel?”

“Your music is beautiful. Thank you.” She resumes her mantra, though now to the tune of Fliuch’s playing.

Fliuch inhales deeply, smiling widely. Her playing becomes more expressive. “You’re welcome, Liriel.”

[Fliuch plays softly and Liriel focuses her energy until the next shift has begun.]

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