A Brighter Yule Season

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The Memorial Gardens, midday.

The warmth of the gardens is matched by bright sunshine, and the magics of the area keep winter at bay. Denizens of the city wander the area, enjoying a brief respite from the snow and cold. A small troupe performs nearby, one Gnome with wearing a compliment of instruments acts as a one-man-band, while two performers enact a comedy, complete with slapstick fighting to the music.

Seated on a bench a short distance away is a pale-skinned Goblin, donned in blue and copper robes, marking her as a Temperance of Navos. Her thick, wool-lined leather cloak, and warm winter boots have been discarded neatly, the cloak draped over the back of the bench, her boots set on the ground before her.

Settled cross-legged with a notebook in front of her, she's leaned back, apparently dozing, or simply enjoying the sunshine with her eyes closed.

The skies have cleared -- for now -- and while the temperature is still bitingly cold, it's a much more cheerful day even with the snow piled hither and yon. Telamon comes walking up one of the paths, clad in a hooded cloak of fur, his boots crunching slightly on the paving, his snowy-white blouse and leather riding trousers visible. His expression is cheerful, open for the first time in a while.

Walking next to him, though, is a woman of the same height, her hood pushed back to reveal reddish-gold hair that is caught up in a complex braid. Tiny laugh lines around her eyes and mouth hint at her age, but the sparkle in her blue eyes is very similar to Telamon's. The two are chatting lightly, and she lets out a soft laugh at some sally of Telamon's.

Then Tel takes note of Simony, and he hmms, before murmuring something to the woman before the two approach. "Simony," Telamon inquires. "Are you taking a nap, or is this more serious?"

The Goblin's eyes open and she gasps in surprise. Blinking, she barely suppresses a yawn. "Telamon!", she says with a broad, and toothy, grin. "No, nothing serious, I was simply drawing..." The notebook is snapped closed, the drawing on the two pages left unfinished. Simony sets the notebook and pencil aside. "And uhm paused to ponder the backs of my eyelids!" A gesture is made to the bench. "Have yourselves a seat!"

The woman is offered a nod. "Hello! I am called Simony Smithsdottir. Pleased to make your acquaintance." A look is given then to Telamon. "How are you faring, Tel?"

The woman nods politely and smiles, before responding. "A pleasure, Miss Smithsdottir. I am Ariana Atlon." Her eyes glint merrily. "Telamon's mother."

The two sit down on the bench with Simony, as Telamon pats his mother's hand. "Lana and I spent the morning with my mother, explaining things over breakfast. And with the Corpse-Eater gone... the illusion can be discarded."

Ariana smirks. "It doesn't hurt that being married to Telperius, I know sometimes there are things you -can't- talk about. I admit to being a little annoyed, but considering the magnitude of the problem... I won't hold a grudge." She takes Telamon's hand, squeezing it gently. "I knew -something- was up, because your father forbade me from coming down here to try and unscramble things."

Her eyes widen to saucer size, and Simony grins, "Telamon's mother?" Simony hops down from the bench to take several quick steps, and moves to hug at Ariana. "It's very nice to meet you. And I am so glad the whole ordeal is over also. I had taken a vow of silence. It was difficult to see them both, you could see that it was eating at them a bit."

The Goblin then practically climbs into Telamon's lap, to hug at him for a time. "I am glad that terrible creature has been put to an end. Perhaps a bit too quickly for his crimes, but it is done. Uhm, how is the wound, Telamon?"

Ariana seems perfectly happy to return the hug to Simony. "Indeed. There's a sense of relief around their house now. No more need to hide from each other in public, no more watching every word. Hopefully their lives will be back on the trail. She pauses. "Wound?" Ariana gives Telamon the 'mom stare'. "You didn't mention being injured, Tel."

Telamon hugs Simony back, but then looks embarrassed. "Simony..." He sighs. "I'm fine. Really. Hark looked me over, as did Grandfather. And it all healed up under the night sky. Benefits of my sorcerous powers. There's not even a scar." Clearing his throat, trying to shift the topic, "It's not really good for you to want to linger over someone's punishment, in any case. Dispose of the threat, heal what you can, and move on. Don't even give him the tiniest victory of brooding over what he might have gotten away with."

The Goblin simply grins. "You cannot blame a healer for wanting to know how one's wounds are doing.", she says sweetly. Her expression grows more serious. "I was worried about what his bite might do." She looks to Ariana, "It looked more serious than it was, it seems, but as a cleric, I'm a professional worrier. Sort of like a mother, but instead of my own children, they are all adopted." Simony laughs. "I suppose, more like an aunt. The joy of having them for the day, and then all going home at night."

She lets out a sigh. "I'm not lingering over his punishment, but I don't think anyone will begrudge me a bit of brooding." Her grin returns in full force once more. "But we have brighter things to look forward to, right?"

Telamon manages to refrain from squirming under his mother's gaze, a true testament to how far he's come. "Yes. Well, it's the Yule season! What better gift than to have the world out in front of you to explore, or to simply not have to -worry-?" He pauses. "There's other things, of course, but for once I... simply have very little on my desk. Oh, that reminds me." He opens his haversack, fishing out a sheaf of papers. "Some reading material. A fellow asked me to look into a lost dog, and I figured that might be a 'safe' test for that divination ability."

Ariana teasingly nudges Telamon with her elbow. "Vast magical powers and you use it to find a dog's home? You are definitely my son, Tel." For all her joshing, Tel's mother seems pleased with her son's compassion.

'Yes, the Yule season!" Simony grins. "I have some treats for you and Lana, I'll bring them over later on. Oh, and something for Jyndei and the pixies." The Gobbo giggles and looks to Ariana. "He champions many causes, both great and little. It is an endearing quality. He is the epitome of a noble lord." She hops down from the bench once more, to retrieve her notebook. The sheaf of papers is delicately taken, and from a pouch on her belt, she pulls her pince-nez. With it safely ensconced on her nose, she begins reading. "Hmm, so you're trying to find a good dog's home?", Mony wonders, her eyes flicking back and forth across the pages.

The papers are covered in notations and geometric designs, along with drawings. Telamon replies, "Well, not trying. His name is Tobey, and by my guess two gentlemen by the name of Lheo and Theo Korrelli are taking Tobey back to his home at Theralin Farm at this minute." He leans back, looking pleased with himself. "It wasn't too hard, and it turned over some interesting stones. I need to think about how to approach them though."

Ariana smiles at Simony, "He does have a tendency to fearlessly stride forth. He'd have made a very good knight, but I think he'd be a champion no matter what path he took." She grins at Tel. "I promise not to ask you to use this trick to find missing shoes or earrings though."

Telamon chuckles. "Where -was- that slipper you mentioned in the last letter? You said you found it." His mother snorts delicately. "Behind your father's dress boots. How it got there is beyond me."

"Aww, I'm glad the doggo is going back to his home. How did he come to be uhm missing?" Simony hugs at the papers, "May I keep these, or do you need them? I could transcribe them to a notebook. And your drawings here are excellent. Have you considered doing sketching for fun?"

The Goblin offers a sober nod to Ariana. "I am quite certain he'd be good at anything he'd undertaken as a life path. Cor'lana strikes me as having a similar capacity, so it is quite fortunate that they found each other. Good people rightly admire them, and bad people will, and rightly should, fear them."

She snorts at the talk of missing slippers. "Intriguing. Do you have any pets, or house spirits, who might be mischievous enough to hide a slipper?"

"No," Ariana says with a mock sigh. "Just younger relatives. The Atlon home is always a rambunctious place, and invariably young ones will cause a little chaos." She gives Telamon a look. "Which is a not too subtle nudge for you and Lana to start thinking in that direction."

Telamon looks like he wants to sink into the ground. "Mother... look, now that everything is back in order, I promise I'll sit down with Lana and see where we want to go from here. You're not the only one flying these flags, after all."

Ariana makes a 'pfft' sound. "Ah yes, Grandfather Alud'rigan, possibly the only one more interested in your offspring than me. Still, it's good to know Lana is also getting encouragement."

Hurriedly, Telamon nods to Simony. "No, keep the notes. I made copies for you, figured you'd want to see them." At the mention of 'how', though, his face grows stern. "It seems the Charneth like to steal or kidnap animals to ship to Charn as 'status symbols' for their nobility. Meat's hard to come by there; having a pet is an incredible display of luxury, even more so than here." Telamon's face is disgusted. "They'd also kidnapped a person, a friend of the Korrellis, and were going to ship them back to be eaten." He shudders.

"Oh, I can imagine that it must be noisy and full of boisterous life." Simony giggles at the subtle hint to Telamon from his mother. "Oh it's not just Grandfather. Telamon and Cor'lana have a uhm fan following in the city. News of a possible baby had them squealing with glee." The Goblin giggles a little more and pats at Telamon's shoulder. "Don't feel badly, everyone wishes you and Lana well, and who can't resist a baby to make faces at and speak babytalk to?"

The notes are delicately rolled up, and slipped into an inside pocket of her cloak. "Steal pets as a sign of luxury? I'm not going to ask why they don't have their own pets to begin with." Her frown is toothy. "Ewwh. Cannibalism is a bad sign. They're not in a good way at this point, are they?"

Telamon chuckles ruefully. "I mean, it beats hating us. And... to be honest, Lana and I are both looking forward to becoming parents. Even Pothy is interested, though he's learned from grasping fingers to keep his tail feathers clear."

Ariana smiles at her son. "There you go, Tel. That's all I need. I know you'll get there." Her brow furrows at the distasteful mention of Charn, but she nods to Simony. "No, they're not. Their ability to grow crops is badly damaged, and it's not getting better. They -could- appeal to other nations and faiths for help, but..."

Telamon nods in agreement with his mother. "But they won't. They've burned too many bridges. If you want a good comparison, after we had the Hethian invasion, the farms were in dire straits -- but a powerful fey known as the Lord of Ears stepped in to help those farms grow the crops needed to get us through that winter."

"Oof. They probably don't want to ask for help, because my guess is, there'd be a uhm pressure to forgo their wayward ways, and they're not willing to give that up. I'm no diplomat or knowledgeable in politics, but that would be my guess."

The Goblin rubs at her cheeks, glancing at Tel curiously. "Have you uhm ... told her about that dream? That might make her happy, I think." Her pencil is brandished, and she opens up her notebook. "Would you two mind if I sketched you? This is a perfect place for such, and you two look great here, together."

Telamon nods. "Pretty much. And all the people in charge have no reason to give up their wayward ways, because they're not the ones suffering for it." He shakes his head. "It's sad when the best idea I can come up with is to just invade, clean it out like an infected wound, and split the territory up so that other people can try to make it better. And that's just not feasible."

Ariana gently places her hand on Tel's shoulder. "You can't save the world, Tel. But it says a lot about you that you want to try." She gives her son a squeeze, before smiling at Simony. "He did, as did Lana. Of course, that just makes me -more- eager to nudge them along. You can't tease me like that and not expect me to want more. Three little girls? Oh my, the fun we'll have together."

At Simony's request, Tel looks at his mother, who nods firmly. "We need more pictures together. Your father's expressed interest in sitting for a portrait again -- this time with all four of us. Think of this as good practice."

"Well, that's not a bad idea, though, Tel. Scour out the bad parts, find some honest citizens, help them run the country. After a time, you... well, not necessarily you, but whomever is counselling them on affairs of state... you step back more and more as they gain experience. You could free all those Sith. Not to mention all of those pets." Simony sighs. "More bloodshed to end the suffering of people... a terrible choice but... what else is there. Charn's not going away on its own."

The Goblin smiles beatifically at Ariana, shaking her head. "That's just it, mrs Atlon. Telamon's already saved the world. And the city, a dozen times over." She laughs. "Three girls, poor Telamon will be run ragged." Winking at the man, she laughs again. "He teased me, made me cry a little, by suggesting I'd be Aunty Simony. I'll be a proud aunt."

The mention of sitting for a portrait has her excited. "I would also be honoured to do a portrait if you would have me, for I do paint as well. Something nice for your sitting room, yes?"

"One day you'll have to tell me more, Tel," Ariana says gently. "I know you don't like to worry your dear mother, but I promise I'm not some fainting lily or crystal statue." She hugs her son, ruffling his hair.

Telamon gives Simony an exasperated look that just says, 'spill EVERYTHING, eh?' but then it dissolves into a smile and a laugh as well. "Alright. Alright. Soon, though. I can attest that Simony is a skilled painter though, mother. She was the one who did the ceiling fresco at our house."

Ariana's eyebrows rise, her expression very similar to Telamon's when he gets a similar piece of information. "Well now. I -was- going to use one of Corvaleir's students -- he retired, said he wanted to spend some time watching the world go by and painting when he wanted, not when he had to -- but if you think Simony here is up for the task..." She rubs her chin, regarding the eager gobber priestess. "Very well. We'll have to do some scheduling, but even with the weather I'm sure getting around won't be a chore with my son here to do the lifting."

"Well, by spilling a little, it gets you to talk." Simony chuckles, brandishing her pencil at the man, before putting the pencil to paper. "And you should tell your stories. Or write them down. Ooor hire an expert scribe to write them down for you, all annotated and with sketches throughout." Her wink is obvious, and cheeky.

"I've been lucky to have been part of a few of his adventures, and I would tell you that he has saved my life. I owe him more than I can repay, at least, I would hope he would not need saving, but I would throw myself into such an endeavour in an instant."

The pencil waggles in silence for a few moments.

"It's an odd feeling to realize you're in one of those moments, when something momentous is happening and you are changing the course of events. And usually you can't think too much or too hard about it, because events will not let you stand still long enough to contemplate, you act, you do, and only later can you think about what went on."

"As for painting, I would be honoured. I can travel to where you need me to be."

Ariana watches with interest as Simony works, though she's not really in a spot to see what she's doing. "I fear for my son, but I also know he is the kind of man who won't sit idly by while others are unhappy. He never was." Telamon blushes, as Ariana gives him a grin. "Your father may do things differently, but we are both proud of you."

Telamon rubs at his cheeks in frustration. "Father and I have talked about some of my prior adventures. He likes to call it 'the business of cleaning and packing wounds' -- think about what you did right, and wrong, and what could have gone differently. Don't ever let it be personal. It's much better to go through such a process, and succeed later, rather than fail or worse."

"Travel's not a problem, Simony." Telamon regains his mien, and his eyes twinkle. "I'll bring you to wherever we need to go. If we handle this at the Atlon estate, we'll even feed and board you."

The Goblin turns the notebook around, the sketch incomplete, but showing Ariana and her son, their faces mostly done, but their bodies are simple outlines. With their poses set, the albino can complete it later. "I'll continue to work on the sketch, and bring it with me when everyone's ready to sit for a portrait. Or I can give it to Telamon, he can send it on to you."

"That's an apt description, Tel. I can see where you get your wisdom, both of your parents are quite wise."

Simony's stomach growls noisily. "We'll fly, right?", she wonders with a grin.

"I was thinking teleportation. But..." Telamon taps his chin. "I can arrange for something less abrupt. Lana was always impressed with my shadow-steed spell, and I can cast it for other people, too."

Ariana playfully pats Tel's cheek. "He's such a thoughtful boy. He knows not everyone has the stomach for zipping across Ea at the speed of thought." She leans forward to look at the portrait. "Oh my. Well, Simony, if you decide adventuring and the priestly life isn't for you, I'm sure we could -definitely- find you work painting portraits in Ylvaliel."

Telamon has the good grace to not groan at his mother again, but instead nods. "That looks -very- good, Simony. Now you've got mother's attention, I'm sure she won't mind hiring you on for the portrait."

"Teleportation plays havoc on my stomach. I'd prefer to avoid it, in all but dire situations. I would brave the cold. Oh, I know of that spell, it would be a very graceful way to travel, I think." The Goblin nods to Ariana. "Telamon is the most thoughtful person I know of."

Simony laughs then. "my heavenly patron would probably be upset at my being stolen away to paint, but it is a very tempting offer. When I tire of adventure, I will look forward to that."

The notebook is flipped back around, and she continues to sketch. "Thank you, the both of you. Hah, did you know that Telamon can make fruit suddenly sprout and grow at his feet?"

Ariana chuckles. "Yes. Those boots belonged to his Uncle Telgari, and when Telgari found he had a new daughter he decided to hang up his wandering cloak for a while." Her expression grows wry. "Amazing how much better he looks after a regular bathing regimen. I'm glad you've put them to good use, Telamon."

"I find it lifts the spirits to come by with a basket of apples or other fresh fruit, especially at the orphanage or the Soldier's Defense. Good cheer can be hard to come by in those places." Telamon is blushing again. "And you always taught me the best use for magic was to make life better."

"Aww, he also blushes quite well." Simony giggles and pats at Telamon's knee. "He had bananas grow in my cell. I made all sorts of baked banana goods." Her pencil continues to waggle back and forth. "Magic is indeed meant to make life better. But, have you seen his fireballs?"

There's an awed tone in the Goblin's voice. "I saw him practicing them a little while ago. Impressive! I wish I cold do such, to strike fear and awe in my foes."

Telamon just smiles. "Maybe so, but I prefer the magic that lets me impress my friends and make them happier. Striking awe and fear is not what I want to do, in the end. I want to be know for my compassion, not my fearsomeness."

Ariana pats Tel's shoulder. "That's your father talking. He never liked taking the hard option, especially after he'd met me. He wouldn't shy from it, but he's never been the sort to shirk his responsibilities." A pause. "Just like someone else I know."