View logs in order: The Story So Far.
One night during the travel into Thorns…
Deirdre is incredibly unprepared for being on watch, but still she is up and her eyes scan the darkness for…something…
"Resist the urge to look up at the moon. It resets your night vision," Vanguard comments softly as she takes a seat next to Deirdre on her the ground. The Scout leans against a tree and stretches her legs out in front of her comfortably.
Deirdre nods a little absently at the advice, "The things I didn't think I'd ever learn…" she says softly. Her delicate hands smooth out the wrinkles of her pants as Vanguard settled next to her.
"Hmm. Are the things I can't imagine not having need to learning, myself." Vanguard flashes a smile, seeming to be simply amused at the difference rather than judging Deirdre's lack of experience. She seems content to sit in silence for a few minutes, relaxed.
Deirdre's face remains impassive as her eyes continue to sweep the darkness. She does nod as Vanguard speaks, acknowledging the words. Her eyes do linger on both Summer's and Jade's tents as they make their slow meander, but only for the barest of moments.
"Deirdre, why are you here?" Vanguard's tone is surprisingly gentle.
Deirdre blinks in surprise and turns her head to look at Vanguard. She raises a single eyebrow not in confusion but more in suspicion. "Oh goodness. There's a loaded question if I ever heard one…"
"Is it?" Vanguard shrugs. "I'm not saying the aid is unappreciated or unwelcome. I'm also not commenting on whether or not I think you belong here. I'm asking you why you're here."
"It is a loaded question. And if not, I don't have an answer." Deirdre pulls her eyes back to watching the darkness "I have had my world torn asunder more than once in less than 25 hours. So, I haven't a clue what the point of me is at the moment"
"Jade was the first one of us it happened to. Did he tell you?" Vanguard says.
"No, Summer told me about it." Deirdre shakes her head, "I got the very small version of it."
"It was dramatic. After the initial flush of… well, you've seen him right after he accomplishes something. And when he took his Second Breath, he healed five men everyone thought basically condemned to painful cursed deaths. Power and accomplishment and like nothing was beyond him. But then on the ride back from the Yuan camp, he was so… quiet. I slept in the clinic that night. Those cots are surprisingly comfortable," Vanguard speaks softly.
"Well, an uncomfortable cot wouldn't promote much healing. I assume." Deirdre can't help but linger on Jade's tent as they talked of him. "I can imagine the intensity of it all could be overwhelming for him, especially because, at the time, he was the only one." She nods, "Were you worried about him? Is that why you spent the night?"
"He was both fine and not fine. Himself and not himself. I couldn't think of anything I could actually do, I didn't understand I just knew I didn't want him alone, wanted to be there in case there was… ". Vanguard shrugs. "And then the next day, he was himself. And he was, IS, by the way."
"Is what?" Deirdre asks.
"Himself. There's more, yes, but it's not…" The Scout frowns, thinking. "He's him. I'm me. It's strange because for awhile it seemed like everything would be different, but the more I get used to all of it the more I know it's just…me."
"Get used to the Second Breath, I assume?" Deirdre asks, pulling her eyes away from the tents and back to the darkness. "Get used to this fever everyone was going on about?"
"No, not that. That's a whole other…" Vanguard waves a hand in the air. "I'm not sure I have words for that yet. I'm talking about the emotions, the memories, this whole other self that starts settling in."
"I saw her. I saw who used to walk around with all this power and what she did with it. Is that what you're talking about?" Deirdre asks.
"Used to?" Vanguard comments.
"Yes, it seemed like me. But it wasn't. It was as if I was watching someone's life threw their eyes. It was…it's very hard to explain" Deirdre said searching for the right words and failing.
Vanguard nods like someone about to hear the punchline of a joke they know. "It'll probably keep happening. It seems a little different from person to person. Summer gets them more frequently than I do. For me it's dreams, or sometimes just a flash of a moment that was important to her, to me."
Deirdre glanced over at Vanguard, "I assume by your expression that I got it right this time." She listened as the Dawn explained further, "So it is just simply, an affliction? A side effect? A ghost? A glimpse of the past?….I suppose it doesn't really matter. Whoever that girl was she definitely isn't me…"
"From my admittedly still limited understanding… She's not you but there's part of her that you share," Vanguard hesitates for a moment, as if deciding whether or not to admit something. "Like I said, it does seem to be different for everyone. Ostra… feels a lot like me, in those flashes. It's familiar, and the way she reacts and thinks and feels… I get the feeling we're especially similar. Her memories do feel like mine. It doesn't feel like a ghost, or an affliction, or anything like that. I don't think it's that exact way with everyone? But, ah, what I originally mean to say was that you're still you. The power that's there, it didn't change any of that. I'm still me. I want the same things, believe the same things, feel the way I always felt. I thought at first that everything changed, but I know what's in my mind, and I see how the others act and what it's like interacting with them, and they're all still them."
Deirdre listens intently, taking in the words. "Huh… no different, you say? Still at the core ourselves. Well, you would know them the best." She says after a small pause. Then, abruptly, she takes a deep, frustrated breath.
Vanguard arches an eyebrow at the comment, but she is headed off from responding by the other woman's abrupt frustrated breath. She pauses instead, and then shifts what she was going to say. "What is it?"
"I have no idea." The brunette takes a deep breath, pulling back on her outburst. "This is a bit frustrating. I thought I knew what I was doing, thought I had a hand on things. Apparently, I don't."
"Why do you think you don't? Because things went to shit back at the refugees?" Vanguard asks.
"Yes. The whole loud mess. I simply wanted… well that doesn't really matter. You can't change the past. I can't go back now." Deirdre says with an even, tight tone. Her fingers smooth out her hair. "If you can't defend your point, you just might be wrong… I've never convinced her of anything… I get it now. I just needed to unpack all of it…"
Vanguard pauses again, deciding which part of the other woman's words to respond to, and then went with, "I might owe you an apology, then. Coming along was my idea, after all. You cannot change the past, but that doesn't make looking back worthless. You simply wanted what?"
"Don't do that. I wanted to go. I had things to do, though I only managed to accomplish the least important of them. Which is incredibly frustrating…" Deirdre sighs again, a little exasperated. "I don't know where to start answering your question. I really should just learn my lesson… I am loath to elaborate because I can't take another hit, I understand that I have to be alone. I just don't want to. I thought I was happy…I ju.." her voice waived, just the barest amounts. But with a deep breath it was gone. "In the spirit of honesty, I'd tell you more… but I don't want to be misquoted and I definitely don't want to have the conversation all over again." She hopped that her meaning was carried threw on her words to her late night companion.
Vanguard blinks. "Who would I be quoting you to? And… look, if you don't want to talk about it then you don't have to. I'm certainly not going to push. But I'm confused, why do you have to be alone? That sounds awful."
Deirdre blinks as well, "To Summer, of course. That's what we're are talking about right? My conversation with Summer?"
"Ah. The conversation with Summer that had you both miserably upset, and completely unwilling or unable to talk about it." Vanguard holds up a hand. "Again, not that anyone has to talk. I'm just commenting that neither of you wanted to. I still have no idea what you argued over. " She drops her hand back down to her lap. "Deirdre, if you don't want me to share something with Summer, just ask. It's not as if I tell her every last thing anyways. We talk a lot, yes, and we're close, so I suppose that might have given the impression, but… there's not a direct path from my ears to hers, or vice versa."
"I'd rather she tell you what happened. I don't want to get it wrong." Deirdre answered simply. "I appreciate your words. If I need your discretion, I'll remember to ask." She says with a nod. "Perhaps you could help me with a task. I need a little insight…"
"You'll 'get it wrong'?" Vanguard asks in a somewhat incredulous tone, but then sighs and shrugs. "Summer didn't want to tell me, so I'm not going to pry, and if you aren't comfortable for whatever reason, I won't pry with you either. The matter is dropped unless you change your mind. So, insight on what?"
"I can't be with Jade anymore. I need your advice on how to do that." The words were matter of fact, the tone reinforced it, but the eyes… the eyes gave it away, darting between Summer and Jade's tents. Lingering slightly, sadly.
"You've been very confident of your communication skills in this area before. What's different?" Vanguard asks.
"It is different this time, because I don't want to do it." Deirdre says.
"I'd like to take a moment to just point out the irony, here, which is that you're asking ME for this advice, and I have never once had this conversation with someone," Vanguard says dryly. "So why are you convinced that you have to even though you don't want to?"
"I'm asking you not because you have knowledge of break ups, but because you have knowledge of Jade." Deirdre can't help a small and smothered laugh as she considers the best way to answer the question. "Because I bring out the worst in him, and that could be dangerous. We can't have that. And the only way I can be truly happy is to learn to be alone. It's complicated…" her voice trails off and she keeps her eyes locked on the darkness ahead. "Getting this mark. This feeling. You'd think that is what troubles my mind. It doesn't. I'm ready to face this challenge, excited even. I can do this. This rush, the fever… that's nothing new. I feel that all the time. It's what makes me successful. It's this silly feelings of my mortal life that brings me down. How very odd is that?"
"Not odd at all. You're still a person. You're still you. The things that could bring you down before can still bring you down. So… I don't think I know that part of Jade, honestly. I've never seen him be towards someone like he is towards you. And I don't think the problem is only knowing him a couple years," Vanguard tilts her head curiously. "If you want my insight, just say you need to stop seeing him and don't want to talk about it. You're strong willed, you can out-stubborn him a bit if need be. I don't see why you think you bring out the worst in him, though. If anything, I think he could use a more reasonable voice that he might actually pay attention to. And I think he needs help remembering he's a person sometimes. Not just because of being a Solar, but because… it's him. He was lost in work even before the work got bigger."
"I didn't think of it like that. Getting the second breath didn't magically make me immune to my past!" Deirdre smiles as she shakes her head. "I really didn't think about my impact on him. I just enjoy his company. I'll miss it. I'll miss that I can just lean and he doesn't question…." she waves a hand as if to dissipate the words…"anyway… if you think that will work. I can be straight forward. I can hold to my convictions. I thought that it would take a little more finesse, but Summer will be pleased that it'll happen sooner rather than later."
"Oh will she?" Vanguard asks, carefully neutral.
"He seems like such an outsider sometimes, that calls to me. I don't make friends quickly or often. I understand sitting on the outside." Deirdre nods, "Yeah, she pointed out my adverse affect on him. I didn't even realize it. I'm selfish, but not that selfish."
"What adverse— actually, no, I'm not going to ask you to argue Summer's point. Deirdre, what do YOU actually see?"
"Of Jade? I see laughing. I see mild irritation that I demand he get dressed up to take me out. I see his face when he enraptured by his work. I see the anger and frustration when things aren't happening fast enough. I see the compromises he makes for the good of your circle. I see the overconfidence that no matter what happens he can save them. I see the rashness. I see…apparently I have a lot to say. But you can't discount that I am too close to the situation, I could miss things."
"Mmm," The sound is remarkably noncommittal. "Well, I don't see what Summer sees, but she sees a lot that I don't, so maybe you shouldn't be listening to me. But as irritated as I've been with him, over… other things… it has still been nice to see him being just him. It'll be a pity to see that vanish again."
"I didn't mean to be vague or noncommittal. I thought we were good for each other. Is that a better answer? But Summer wouldn't lie to me, that's a hard thing to shake," Deirdre responds.
"I don't think she'd lie to you about it either. And I think she wants you happy, and that she strives for the best for everyone. It's not her that I'm thinking of, though," Vanguard says.
"Then who would you be thinking of?"
"You. Because I trust Summer deeply, and will take her on faith even when I don't understand yet, and have asked her to read a person that I know could get away with lying to me. But you don't seem to be going on trust, and whatever this is doesn't seem to fit well on you. And you're out here, in the woods, heading towards shadowlands, to battle a Death Knight, and I'm not sure you know why. And not knowing why you're doing something also does seem to fit you."
"You are very perceptive. I am here for no reason. I don't say this in the hopes that you'll reassure me. I say that because it's true. I haven't had a moment to figure out my next step. I don't do things without thinking them threw. I always have a long game and now it's all been tossed out the window. I am not serving a purpose right now and it's getting to me. Truly it is." Deirdre shakes her head in mild irritation. "I know why the Death kight has to die. I just don't know why I'm here to do that. I don't just follow along. I am my own Boss. I don't do this. I never do this. I hate camping. I hate the wood. I hate pants. And yet, here I am…"
"Here you are. Camping in the woods, wearing pants, heading towards a giant shadowland, to battle a deathknight. Well, maybe being surrounded by things that are entirely unfamiliar will help you to see your 'normal' better," Vanguard chuckles.
"Do you like it when it's quiet?"
"Better question. Where do you do your best thinking?" Deirdre asks.
In reply, Vanguard gets to her feet and holds her hands open in front of her. Suddenly the artifact spear appears in her grasp. She takes a few steps back and then begins rhythmically moving faster and faster.
Deirdre watches the beautiful display with rapt attention. Watching the increasing momentum with curiosity, as if to try and find the peace within.
Heartbeats stretch into minutes, and it's hard to say exactly how many pass before the whirling routine of limbs and weapon ends. Shorter than usual, although for the Dawn, "usual amount of time" often means "past the point where the average person would have collapsed from exhaustion".
It doesn't slow, but rather the Scout abruptly goes from a spinning pivot to down on one knee, the spear winking back out of sight and to Elsewhere an inch before the butt of it would have otherwise slammed into the ground with a thud. There's a long pause and then Vanguard casually gets up and takes her seat again, and looks up at Deirdre. Deidre, for all her gregariousness, is an excellent audience. She doesn't clap as the spear winks out of existence, but she does look incredibly impressed at the display.
"It clears my mind. To move and practice, especially with Zelator, and the hearthstone within. Bringing it all together, pushing past pain or tiredness. All the internal lines and boundaries and noise in my mind disappear, and it's like it's just me left. I don't know what would work for you, but whatever it is, find it and get to where you can hear yourself," Vanguard explains slowly.
Deirdre nods at the words. Taking them in. "I know where my place is. I need the noise of life. The constant motion of people going about their lives. I need a friendly ear in the mist of all of that. I need… I can't believe I'm saying this… I need Gental Wind… I just need to unleash all of this," she gestures to her person with a delicate flourish. "Do with words, what you've do with your spear." She nods, understanding.
"Well, you've got a bit more camping to do. But soon…" Vanguard trails off.
"I'm a survivor. I'll be fine until I can get a handle on all this. Who knows? Maybe clarity will find me unexpectedly…I don't often feel alone and adrift. I don't very much like it. I hate being alone. It's probably the only thing I really fear…"
Vanguard winces a little at the next words to come out of her own mouth. "I think the world of Summer, and she might strangle me for this, but… You should do some of that before you talk to Jade."
Deidre gives a rather unladylike snort as she unsuccessfully tries to smother a laugh. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to laugh, but the image of Summer trying to strangle you and you pretending to choke was just too hilarious." With a nod, a firm nod. She makes a decision, the first real one since all of this began. "I'm going to do that. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. I'm going to wait till I can process all of this before making any kind of truly important decisions."
The Scout smiles faintly at the laughing comment, but quickly sobers back up. "It's not that it's hard to process, it's just that most of us don't really have a point of reference for how. If I can help, though…"
"I'm not against help, usually." Deirdre responds.
"Good." With that, Vanguard gets to her feet. "Going to take a little walk around before I go back to bed. Mmm. What you're looking for is change, by the way. You're unlikely to happen to be looking in the correct direction to actually spot something directly immediately. And most smart intruders will be waiting for you to not be looking. But… things like 'that branch was a half foot to the left'… look around and be familiar with how things should be and then you'll notice if they're different, and then can focus in on the why.".
"Yes, what I am look for is change. Notice what has changed and figure out why." Deirdre nodded as she raises to her feet with Vanguard.
"I appreciate this, by the way. One day I hope to repay it. But most of my advice is oddly specific and I don't think you'll need it anytime soon." She smiles as she brushes the leaves from herself. "You are far more spectacular than most give you credit for. I hope you know that. But I'm keep you, enjoy your walk."
"Eh, I've never thought friendship was a thing of repayment. But perhaps it's just semantics. Not my wheelhouse," And with a small chuckle, Vanguard walks off into the trees. As she goes, she mutters to herself, "That's the second time someone said that this week… "
Deirdre smiles at Vanguard's back as she leaves. Her eyes fall over the camp, stopping on each tent for a brief moment. The turmoil in her chest isn't gone. It isn't even calmed. But now, she had something she didn't before. She had a direction.