Sieg smiled sadly. "I imagine that would be the case, yes. From what I understand in Courdon elves are considered lesser beings. Never mind that they're a much older race then humans."
The knight shrugged. "Your circumstances and the inaccurate impressions they'd give you are hardly your fault. But I'd be glad to disabuse those misconceptions for you. Now granted, the elves certainly aren't perfect- they're as flawed as any other race." He grinned, "But not more than those races."
He chuckled, "As for traveling around Corvus in general, you just have to pick the right season for it. Summer is the high rainy season, but autumn is usually fairly dry, as is winter. Spring varies depending on the year. And if you're going to be a Jade you should see more of the region your house is in charge of!" he added teasingly.
The knight glanced out the window. "Speaking of rain, looks like it's slacking off some. I hope Ilsa doesn't get too cold and wet going out in that mess on my account." He turned back to Xavier. "How far from here is the healer anyway? I've only been the once, after Mother... you know. And I was a little, um... distraught, I suppose is a good word. Not in any position to be paying attention to how long the trip was, to say the least."
Xavier grinned sheepishly. "Yes, though it's still hard to believe I'm part of a House with that much power and influence. Particularly when I can't think of any good reason why people should listen to me. But I've heard a lot about Corvus, and it will be good to see it for myself." He hesitated; not like he hadn't been in Corvus before. "Well, see it when I'm not... you know."
He followed Sieg's gaze at the rain coming down outside, wincing a little in sympathy for Ilsa. It looked like it was raining even harder now than it had earlier. "It's not too far," he said. "Farther than the manor, but not by much." He smiled a bit. "Believe me, Sir Sieg, she wouldn't have gone if she thought she was inconveniencing herself too badly. Ilsa is good to her friends, but she looks after herself just as well."
The reminder of what had happened to Morgaine made Xavier turn away a little. "I'm... sorry about that, by the way," he added quietly. "That we didn't get there sooner. You must have been..." He trailed off. He could only imagine how Sieg must have felt upon getting the news - if it was Ilsa or Ambrose who had been hurt like that... and particularly considering Sieg had already lost someone. He could still vividly remember his terror over Elin when she'd collapsed at the coronation; he'd been so scared she would die like Muriel.
Sieg chuckled at Xavier's comment about Ilsa, "No doubt. She certainly has a lot of will, the woman. Though to hear Mother talk, Ilsa doesn't seem to be very good at learning the lesson that drinking oneself stupid results in an agonizing following morning." The half-elf grinned a bit. "At least for most people anyway. I've discovered I have an odd immunity to hangovers. I still don't drink very much, but that's because I'm a very unamusing drunk."
When Xavier apologized for what had happened to Morgaine, Sieg was surprised, but he immediately shook his head. "Xavier, you and Master Leif and the others saved her life. You don't need to apologize for not being omniscient and thinking to bodyguard a woman you barely knew. I'm fairly certain with the Courdonians in town you and the other nobles had other things to think about!" His smile became rather wry. "I mostly get angry with myself over it because she specifically asked me to come because she was afraid for her safety. She'd seen armed people outside the shop late one night who's allegiance she didn't know, and apparently there was some sort of incident at the inn where a lot of people were murdered... And yet I was still complacent enough to think that whatever was going on probably had little to do with her directly. Beyond stupid of me, Mother has always been intelligent and self-sufficient, she isn't the sort for overreactions and paranoia."
The half-elf sighed, then shrugged. "If you and the others hadn't arrived when you did, she would have been dead. Please don't berate yourself for doing a good deed."
Xavier nodded ruefully. "I just... you're right, but knowing what the Courdonians are like..." He shook his head. "Perhaps we can only be grateful that more people weren't hurt by them. Though," he added gloomily, "it may be a little too easy for me to say that. No one I'm close to was killed or seriously injured in the fight, after all."
He met Sieg's eyes, a serious look on his face. "As soon as they arrived - people were bound to get hurt. They don't think much of the north. But I'm really sorry the first person attacked wound up being your mother. You couldn't have predicted..." Xavier suddenly recalled something else, something that had distressed him when he first learned of it, until the tumultuous events surrounding the coronation had quickly put it out of his mind. "Did anyone tell you he was killed? The man who attacked her. It- it wasn't the Jades, someone broke into the manor and murdered him. We never found out who... but... he won't hurt anyone again." A hard edge crept into Xavier's voice on those last words. He'd been upset at first, that he had essentially enabled the man's death by imprisoning him and making him vulnerable - but given the identity of the victim, he couldn't help but feel that in a way it was justice. Whatever the intentions of the murderer, the man was dangerous, and it did make him feel better to know that he was no longer being kept under the same roof as people like Jeniver and Leif.
"Didn't do much good as a vigilante, in retrospect," Xavier said softly, and laughed to himself. "I thought I could protect people like that, but I made so many mistakes. And even if you can stop something from happening again, it... doesn't change the fact that it already happened one time too many." About the only real success he'd had was arresting the thieves who stole from Stallion Manor, if only because Ambrose's belongings could be safely returned to him. But nothing could undo the damage to Morgaine's eye, and Jeniver and Elin hadn't deserved to be locked up at all... he sighed. It was one reason why he'd thrown himself into his studies of magic with Leif. Maybe that could actually be helpful.
Sieg turned to Xavier when the younger man revealed that Morgaine's attacker was dead, startled. Then his eyes narrowed viciously. "No, I didn't know that. I had assumed he was released to return to Courdon with the others. Apparently you are not the only source of vigilante justice in this city. It is... a relief to know he won't hurt anyone again."
After a moment, the half-elf shook this off and nodded sadly. "You're right though, of course. It is inevitable that people were going to be hurt when they arrived. And Mother wasn't even the first; I had heard the very day they arrived that a young peasant girl was executed in the town square for slighting one of them. It's... disgusting, and I'm still a little appalled it was allowed."
He glanced away. "And while Mother doesn't know anyone on a deep personal level who was killed, but she told me afterwards that she found out one of the youngest members of the weaver's guild died that day. Apparently the girl was also involved in fighting the Courdonian that attacked Mother- Braide, was her name, I actually met her myself a few days before that. Mother didn't know the girl all that well but she was still saddened to hear what happened- She told me that she gave some flowers to the girl's parents afterwards."
When Xavier remarked that he'd not done much good as a vigilante, only reacting to crimes in progress, Sieg huffed softly- a sound that might have been a laugh. "What do you think justice is, Xavier? You can't very well arrest someone for something they might do, and no one can see into the future and know exactly what all crimes are going to be committed everywhere. It's the same for knights- we can only arrest bandits or raiders after they've attacked a target. Until they break the law at least once, legally there's nothing we can do." He shook his head, smiling reassuringly. "And Xavier, everyone makes mistakes. My mother likes to say that it isn't the mistakes that matter, it's what you do with them. Either you ignore the mistake, and keep repeating it, or you learn from the mistake and try to move forward. It's not easy- believe me, I know that better than most people. I'm still grappling with a lot of my own mistakes, the earlier argument with Ilsa as evidence of that. But we're only mortal, and we can only do the best we can. You strike me as a good man, Xavier. I'm sure you can do a lot of good in the world, if you set your mind to it."
When Sieg mentioned the girl who'd been executed, Xavier's eyes widened a bit and he leaned in. "But it wasn't," he said, and smiled slightly. "I was there, I... know her. She - well, she's my - we're, um, together." Xavier turned slightly red - no matter how many times he'd explained that in the months since his and Elin's relationship became public, he never stopped stumbling over it. "And she didn't die. It was a plan of the Grand Duke's to make the Courdonians believe she had." His smile turned grim. "I didn't... realize what he had actually done, at first. But when I found out, I was grateful. Lord Duval wouldn't have backed off until Elin was dead, or... or his." The thought was still as sickening as it had been that day in the square. He shook it off. "So you see, they didn't get their way. At the time, I couldn't believe that the Grand Duke had defied Duv... a slave-lord like that."
He was soon distracted from somber thoughts of Duval and what could have happened that day as Sieg reassured him about the mistakes he'd made. Xavier flushed, a little flustered. "I- I don't know about that," he said, looking away. "There's not a lot I can do... there are others a lot more capable than I am. I'm not a knight or a great lord or an archmage, I'm just... a runaway slave from Talvace." Xavier glanced up at Sieg with a slightly sad smile. "Though... I spent so much of my life not even knowing what it felt like to be safe... all I want now is to make sure the people I care about are safe. I want to protect them... even if it's only a little, I know there's not much I can really do. But if I can do even that much, I'll be happy."
Xavier grinned a little ruefully, looking down. "Especially since so many of them have helped me. I want to repay them for that."
Xavier explains the whole thing with Elin's faked death, and is predictably flustered at Sieg's reassurances. But he says that while he might not be able to change the world, he at least wants to protect the people he loves.
When Xavier leaned in conspiratorially and explained that he knew the girl who had purportedly been executed- and that she hadn't actually died at all- Sieg's head snapped around in surprise. When Xavier mentioned the grand duke, a knowing smile played across Sieg's lips.
"Aaah, his grace of Bern. I might have guessed he'd cook up something like that. He's certainly intelligent and pragmatic enough. I actually met him during the events of the coronation too, though not under quite so fortutitous circumstances."
Sieg had already respected Alain, despite the man's... uncomfortable methods for handling a traumatized, grief striken soldier. Now the elderly noble rose even further in Sieg's estimation.
"I'm happy for you though, that your beholden was not made a victim of the Courdonians," Sieg went on.
When Xavier explained that he just wanted to keep the people he cared about safe, a teasing smile split the half-elf's face. "I'm willing to bet, given your vigilante activities and willingness to arrest Lord Everett's niece, if you had been put in the position of having to rescue your sweetheart from Courdon you might well have succeeded. If you can display such conviction in defending Ilsa's furniture, I can only imagine what lengths you'd go to for someone you really cared about. I've often seen people surprise themselves when the chips were down and everything was on the line."
Xavier flushed at the compliment. "M-more likely I'd have gotten myself killed," he protested. "I don't think I'd stand much of a chance. But I'd- I'd do anything for her. If that's what it took..." And, he reminded himself, he'd successfully driven off Duval during the coronation. His old master was not as invincible as he'd once believed.
"But they can be stopped," he said softly. "They can be fought. I didn't believe that before, but now..." Xavier smiled at Sieg. "Now I've learned that they don't always win. That there are people like you out there, Sir Sieg, standing up to them. I want to be someone like that."
Before he had a chance to say much more, the front door swung open and Ilsa walked in, throwing back the hood of her cloak. She was followed closely by the healer, wrapped in a cloak of her own so that Xavier almost didn't recognize her as the same woman who'd treated Morgaine's wounds.
"Healer's here," Ilsa announced, and waved in the direction of Xavier and Sieg. "Your patient would be the stubborn half-elf there," she said. "Hold him down if you must." She gave Sieg a quick, teasing grin as she said it.
Xavier is indeed flustered, but is reminded that the Courdonians aren't so invincible and talks about wanting to be someone who can stand up to them.... like Sieg. Before the woob-flustering fest can get any worse, Ilsa shows up with the healer.
Sieg flushed a little when Xavier turned the compliments back around on him, but fortunately he was spared having to reply by the arrival of Ilsa with the healer. He shot Ilsa a look that has half amused, half exasperated as she joked about holding him down.
"So what is it I'm looking at here?" the healer asked. Sieg sighed, shifting somewhat uncomfortably.
"My leg," he said, lifting the leg of his paints to reveal the huge swollen bruise. "I'm a knight, and I took a blow to it in a fight about two weeks ago."
"And you haven't had it looked at until just now?" the healer demanded. Sieg winced, looking away.
"It's just a bone bruise, I've not been putting weight on it so it's fine."
"You didn't even splint it," the healer replied tartly. "Hold still, let me look."
She took out a small wand and held it in the air above the half-elf's knee, and then ran it down his leg towards his ankle. Her eyebrows knit a little.
"If it was a bone bruise when you were first hurt, limping around without seeing to it properly hasn't done it any favors. The bone is cracked, Sir knight."
Sieg winced, averting his gaze. Ilsa would certainly have a comment to make about that. "I just didn't want to trouble anyone with it. I've had worse."
"Well you're not troubling me as long as I get paid," the healer retorted, giving her wand a flick and muttered "Ossis Emendo," and the pain in his leg receeded somewhat. She gave the wand another flick, and the swelling in his leg shrunk down slightly, alleviating the pain still more.
"That's the best I can do for now," she said. "I'd normally give you something to promote the healing and keep back infection, but I don't know what elves can and can't have. For now I'll splint it so that it's immobilized and can heal properly this time."
As she set about doing this, Sieg glanced up at Xavier and raised a tired eyebrow. "Still think I'm someone worth looking up to? I rather doubt it."
"And now my conscience is clear that I won't be sending Morgaine's son home on a broken leg," Ilsa remarked. "You're welcome." She winked at him. "Perhaps next time you'll have a little more sense, Sir Knight?"
Xavier reddened a bit at Sieg's comment to him. "W-well, it doesn't change the fact that you were still brave to fight," he said, almost defensively. "Not everyone would even take the risk. Or could."
Ilsa nodded, almost absently, moving behind the bar where she was making sure everything was in order in case any customers came in. "...Just remember I feel much safer being protected by knights with two functioning legs, that's all..." She ducked into the kitchen to get some more ale, and when she emerged, glanced at the healer, unable to resist an opportunity. "You want a drink? Or something to eat? Since you came all this way, after all."
The healer raised one eyebrow. "Ilsa Wright, did you bring me here to do my job, or just to give you an excuse to do yours?"
Sieg flinched a bit at Xavier's tone, averting his gaze. "I'm sorry," he muttered softly. "I just... I'm sorry."
He didn't speak again at first, and when he did his voice was very soft. "You're both right. I'm just... a mess. I've known that for a long while, but I was trying to hide it by pretending to be something I wasn't. But things like this are just evidence that I can only hide behind a smile for so long." He swallowed hard. "I'm glad you appreciate the work I do Xavier, really. I didn't mean to demean what you've been through. It's just so hard for me to accept praise or accolades with the guilt that I have weighing on my conscience."
The half-elf shook his head. "None of this is either of your faults. Sorry for projecting- and thank you for forcing me to get my leg looked at."
As he said this, he pulled out some runestones and handed them to the healer, who accepted them without comment and returned to the work of splinting his leg.
Xavier gave a small half-smile. "I know. It's... I have a hard time with that too. It's not that I'm not grateful, it's just... I spent so long believing I wasn't worth anything, and after a while you just..." He trailed off and sighed, with a small shrug. "S-sorry. I only meant, um... you're not alone, Sir Sieg, so I don't blame you." With that he lifted his hand and tentatively put it on Sieg's shoulder in a friendly gesture of comfort. "You're a good person," he said, firmly, as if this was all that needed to be said on the matter.
He looked up and happened to meet Ilsa's gaze; the innkeeper was watching him as he spoke with an unusually serious expression, affectionate and almost protective. When she met Xavier's eyes she gave him a quick smile and turned away, busying herself with work behind the bar that may or may not have actually needed to be done. "You'll both learn, I'm sure," she said. "'Woo knows you both have enough people who think well of you. It's sure to sink in, even if only a little at a time."
Xavier offers his own sad in return, that he still halfway believes he's worthless after everything that was hammered into him in Courdon. Ilsa gets a srs moment, feeling protective of him, and reassures both him and Sieg that eventually, the good opinion their friends have of them will rub off on them.
The healer stood up, leaving Sieg with a now splinted leg. As she turned to go, the half-elf smiled wanly at Xavier. "Thanks. You're a good person too, Xavier. If with a bit of an odd definition of what qualifies as an arrestable offense-" he added in a half-hearted attempt to joke. To Ilsa Sieg said, "And I suppose you had something to do with that. Seems like you would wallop someone over the head if you thought it was for their own good. Not that I don't think I could use a bit of that now and again. I'm rather a fool sometimes."
His smile suddenly became a good bit more genuine, and he glanced sideways at Xavier. "I was thinking of going to say hi to Master Leif later once the rain has let off a bit- since you're living over there, I presume, would you like to accompany me? Knowing him he'll throw birds at us if we start getting self-depreciating, and uncompromisingly inform us of our varied accomplishments."
Xavier grinned, slightly sheepish but genuine. "After what happened with Lady Jeniver I can't really deny that," he admitted. "But... thank you."
"You're quite right I would," Ilsa interjected, winking at them both. "Now I'd best be back to work - not that I expect many customers on a day like this, but business is business. I suppose I can expect you for supper, Sieg?"
With that she turned to go, heading back up the stairs to finish cleaning some of the unoccupied rooms. Xavier watched her go, then turned back to Sieg with a smile.
"I'd like that," he agreed, and laughed a bit at Sieg's description of the archmage. "And I'm sure he will. I expect Ilsa trusts him to carry on what she started."