2018-03-16: Forgiveness and the Allure of Power

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  • Log: Forgiveness and the Allure of Power
  • Cast: Jacqueline Barber, Neriah Parringer
  • Where: Somewhere in Glenwood
  • Date: March 16, 2018
  • Summary: On her way home from Glenwood, Jacqueline encounters Neriah....


<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The primary problem with crossing the two continents was that Jacqueline was unable to bring the Carakin over with her. This attracted less attention, certainly, but it also meant that travel would be slower, and she would be left at the mercy of the elements. This could be something of a problem, particularly in this part of Rolance where the rainfall just never seemed to stop.

It was dreary, and cast a thick pall over the entire region. It weighed on the hearts and minds of those within it, and Jacqueline was no different. She was just glad she had brought her coat with her - it was coated with one of her mixtures that repelled water, making travel much easier.

Even that had it's limits, however, and so she has elected to take shelter for a time in one of the structures set up throughout the fields.

It's only a makeshift shelter, but it'll do for the time being. For now Jacqueline sits in one corner, having removed her coat and her bags to get the excess weight off of her, and just...waits, as she lets her equipment dry off. The sound of rain falling down outside is almost hypnotic, and a part of her is tempted to get some sleep...but she's by herself right now. It'd probably be best to wait until she made it to Pendrago...

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

It has been a damp, lonely journey, with no one along to even so much as say hello to the lonely alchemist as she trudges the long way back towards the port and the boat back to Meribus.

The shelter is open enough to the air that much of the landscape beyond can be made out, even through the constant grey drizzle that sheets down across the earth like the tears of the goddess - if indeed the goddess can spare a tear for this miserable continent beyoung the Barrier. The downpour reduces the most distant scenery to a haze, but some of the hills in the mid-range can be seen.

It would not take much for Jacqueline to look up and spot something that wasn't there a minute ago. Highlighted against the murky sky, a silent white shape is standing on a distant hilltop. The shape is roughly right for a human, but no features can be made out from so far away.

The shape, however, will vanish when Jacqueline blinks. It will simply be gone without a trace.

Until she blinks again.

The white shape is a little closer. There, in the shadow of an old tree. Still far away.

But getting closer.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline's no stranger to traveling alone. She used to do it all the time - going from place to place with nothing but a cart, a horse, and no one to speak to around for miles, at least until she made it to the next village on her stop. She thought she was used to it by now - but it seems going for so long with warm, loving companions by her side has made her forget how lonely she was in those days.

And so, she distracts herself. Jacqueline's thoughts are largely occupied by various possibilities and experiments to do when she gets back. Maybe she'll grab a meal with the Lunies...maybe she'll see how much progress Carina has made on her outfit. Maybe she should try-

Jacqueline's thoughts are soon interrupted by the sight of something in the distance. A white shape, like a hole in the horizon cut vagely into a humanoid form.

Jacqueline blinks, and it is gone.

A bead of sweat drips down the side of her head - or maybe it's water from the rain? She isn't quite sure.

She blinks again...and it's back. Jacqueline's breath catches in her throat and she begins to stand up. What was it? What did it want?

Her eyes dart around the shelter, trying to think of a plan. She could block off the entr-

...No, impossible. She still doesn't have that Crest on her. She could run, but it might be able to catch up to her, quickly...and the slick, muddy roads provided a slipping hazard.

And so, Jacqueline goes with what comes naturally to her. Slowly, carefully, she raises her hand...into a sort of cautious, nervous greeting. She just hoped it wasn't taken as a sign of aggression.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Off in the distance, the white shape seems to just stare at Jay, though they're still too far away for the alchemist to make out features - or really anything more than what looks like a long white dress and what looks like dark hair. For a long moment, there is no movement. No greeting is sent back.

Until Jay blinks again, and the figure is gone.

The rain continues to patter down around the shelter. It seems Jacqueline is now well and truly alone. That sense of being watched is gone now.

Until Jacqueline blinks one more time.

And when she opens her eyes, Neriah Parringer is almost nose to nose with her, staring straight into her eyes.

"Jay."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline stares at the white shape. The white shape stares back. Jacqueline keeps her hand there for a time, but...the figure does not respond.

She blinks again, and once more it is gone. Her hand falls slowly, resting over her heart. She shuts her eyes and takes a deep breath...and when she opens them again, she's there.

Jacqueline lets out a small shriek and scrambles backward into the corner of the shelter, her eyes wide and her face pale. Her grip over her heart tightens as she stares into the eyes of Neriah before her. There's not much distance between them, even now.

Her breathing accelerates, and for a moment, she thinks she feels again the pain of her powers tearing at her, nearly tearing her life away from her. She doesn't say anything for a while, frozen in place.

"N-Neriah..." She eventually manages, nearly stumbling over the name. "I-It's...um...are you ...you...?"

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Blessedly, Neriah doesn't go after Jay. She looks on with eyebrows raised as the alchemist shrieks and scoots into the back of the shelter. She's made herself some space, which Neriah doesn't infringe any further upon.

She just tilts her head to one side and looks at the other woman silently, almost as if measuring her.

And then, slowly... she shows Jay something which is either less terrifying or more terrifying, depending on one's opinion of Miss Parringer these days.

A wide, pleased, smile.

"You fixed your glasses," she says, clasping her hands together. "I'm so glad. I was worried."

Neriah looks like herself, though her hair's a bit longer, showing off the natural jounciness that her old Winona Ryder pixie cut didn't allow to come out. Her hat and Excavator outfit are also gone; she's in a simple white dress with a matching sash caught about the hips, with the dress sporting long sleeves that flare a little across the backs of her hands. She folds those hands gently at her waist as she softens her smile.

The dark-haired girl's eyes dip for a moment, then rise to Jay again. "You don't have to be scared," she says in a softer tone. "I just wanted to make sure you were still alive. When I saw Ragnell and Gwen, I thought others who were in the Garden might've made it here... I'm glad you did.

"And that I didn't kill you," she says with a more rueful smile and a shake of her head.
Title set for channel <O-Crucible>.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline doesn't respond right away. She just continues staring at Neriah...though, thankfully, the sight of that smile does seem to ease some of her tension.

Eventually...she exhales and sort of slides down the side of the wall as the adrenaline leaves her and her legs give out. She falls into a sitting position and leans back, taking a moment to catch her breath.

"D-did you...really have to approach me like that...?" She asks, with a faint chuckle that is less amused and more nervous and a little worried. She's still a little on edge.

"...I had spares back in the vehicle, thankfully..." She explains, looking up at Neriah.

Her outfit has changed...but it's certainly Neriah before her. She's relaxed somewhat, but it's clear that she's still a little afraid - most likely a sort of instinctual fear resulting from...what happened.

She offers Neriah a smile of her own - a weak one, but a smile nonetheless.

"I...I see. It's...good to see you again. Like...like this. I...I was afraid that if I saw you again, you..." Jacqueline's voice trails off.

In her mind, she sees a pair of blank white eyeholes boring into her. She shuts her eyes and shakes her head to clear her thoughts of them.

"I-I'm...thankful to be alive. If I died...I don't know what would happen to everyone..." She murmurs. "And you...if you had killed me..."

She wouldn't have wanted that weighing on Neriah's conscience...

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Like what," Neriah asks, tilting her head to the side with a blink.

The dark-haired girl clasps her hands gently together and closes her eyes as Jay speaks. She lowers her head as a sigh slips from her. As her shoulders dip a little, she clears her throat, chasing away an uncomfortable surge of emotion. "...If I had, it would've upset Riese and Mikaia, and some of the others. But it would've upset me, too. You're one of the only ones who's ever treated me like I matter. And after you saved me in Wayside...."

When Neriah opens her eyes again, she reaches out towards Jay. If allowed, she'll lay a delicate hand on the alchemist's shoulder. Her touch is quite gentle - a far cry from the hand she extended during the battle in the Pleasing Garden.

The eyes that lock on Jay's are not empty or white. They're not even her usual shade of clear blue. They've shifted to an orchid hue; subtle sparks of something red seem to dance behind them.

"I didn't want to hurt you. But I didn't have a choice," she explains, her voice soft. "After I visited the Ash Hare, I understood what the Chains of Arius were... and after the Red Demon nearly killed me, I understood that so long as I couldn't draw on the power, I would never be strong. That's why I had to do what I did."

Neriah presses her lips together as sadness flickers in her eyes. "...But it's okay," she says. "I forgive you for trying to stop me. You were only doing what you felt was right."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Like...you were when you..." Jacqueline trails off, shaking her head. She...doesn't want to think about that right now. She listens quietly as Neriah speaks, talking of the people who would be affected, and how she saved her...

Neriah reaches out for her and Jacqueline tenses up slightly...but relaxes, allowing her to continue. Neriah's eyes...they're different. Jacqueline takes note of that.

"I...had to protect it. Had to protect those closest to me." She replies with a nod. She can see the sadness in Neriah's eyes. ...It hurts to see, somewhat.

"I don't...I don't agree with that they did to you. No one deserves to die, or to suffer, for circumstances beyond their control..." Jacqueline says, shaking her head slightly. "But..."

She fidgets slightly.

"A-are you...still going to try to get your revenge...?" She asks quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

There's something surprisingly delicate about Neriah's touch. She lays her hand on Jacqueline's shoulder... then moves it up to gently take the arm of her glasses, adjusting them slightly. There's no hint of the violence she showed just a couple of weeks prior.

Neriah does not want to break Jay. Jay is a precious thing, not to be broken.

Her hand lowers away, though the subtle hint of light behind her eyes lends the gaze she shares with Jay an intensity it might otherwise lack. "It wasn't Ge Ramtos's fault, what happened to me," she says, her voice quiet. "I'm free of the Chains now. The one who put them there was just a man - a Shaman who had the power of the Death Guardian at his fingertips. Even that man is long dead by now. There's no one left for me to take revenge on."

Neriah turns a little, folding her arms across her midsection and looking away. The rain sheets down around the little shelter. It drips from the edge of the roof. In the murky light of the storm, the way Neriah turns casts a little shadow across her, the silence letting the drip-drip-drip of the rain and the thrum of drops on the roof fill the space.

When Neriah speaks again, her voice is a little lower. "But I can make the world better," she says more slowly, more quietly. "I understand that now... with the power. If someone tries to hurt me again, I can make them go away forever. If someone tries to hurt Riesenlied, or another of my friends... I can punish them. Because you see... it's not a bad power."

Closing her right hand, the girl smiles. The sparks in her eyes flicker a little. "...It wants me to change the world."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline hadn't even noticed her glasses were askew. Neriah's hand rises from her shoulder, adjusting them with a gentleness that she didn't expect.

Their eyes meet for a moment. There's an intensity, as she explains where the chains came from.

Just a man...a Shaman, with the power of Ge Ramtos.

As Neriah turns and looks away out into the rain Jacqueline starts to get back to her feet, using the wall to support. Her legs were still a little shaky, but she was doing better than before. There's silence, except for the sound of the rain.

At least, until Neriah continues. She speaks and...Jacqueline feels a hint of fear creep back into her.

"Is that...making the world better...?" Jacqueline murmurs quietly. "Making people disappear...punishing others... Even if they've done wrong, is that really doing the right thing?"

The power within Neriah wanted her to change the world. But...that world...

"That...that's only going to cause more pain and suffering, Neriah. There...must be a better way."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"It's not wrong to fight back when someone hurts you," Neriah answers, her voice low and distant, her eyes not so much focused as directed towards a spot on the horizon she doesn't seem to really see. Her attention's on something in her thoughts.

Finally, the girl slips a delicate hand up to brush back a few dark curls. She tilts her head and brings her gaze back to Jacqueline's. "That's what most Drifters are doing right now, isn't it? I mean, other than Riesenlied... she's too much of a sweetie muffin. But I've run into a lot of people who feel like I do. Who want to punish people for what they've done. People who want to hurt the Trial Knight because of what they did in Krosse, or Wehaca.... or people who are angry at Ambrosius and his people for whatever it is they do."

Her voice lowers a little, taking on a hint of sympathy. "...And I know there's a part of you that wanted to get back at Berserk for what he did in Adlehyde, isn't there? That was your home... and him and the other Metal Demons destroyed it."

Neriah folds both hands now, lowering her head. Her expression has hardened just a little, her lips coming together in a firm line before she speaks again.

"I used to think I could just be nice to everyone and it'd all be alright. But it wasn't. Thomas taught me that... though I guess he's one of those Gebler guys after all. Loren or whatever his name is. So did Matilda when she said I deserved to be summarily executed. So did a lot of them. The Red Devil taught me that, when I held back during the Wayside fight for the sake of Riese, and all I got was a broken face.

"So I learned," Neriah says. "The people who win are the ones who fight back with strength. And I have strength now." She holds her right hand palm-up, curling her fingers almost like a claw.

"If Valmar gives me that... then it's the only way I know."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Well, no, it isn't but..." Jacqueline replies, her gaze lowering. She...can't really refute what Neriah's saying. She couldn't deny that she, herself, had had those urges before. She had never killed anyone, but she had certainly hurt them, to defend herself.

"...I...yes, but...I..I-I never wanted him dead...I just wanted..." Jacqueline says. Her voice trails off. There's a quiet understanding there - she knows that with someone like Berserk, that was the only way to stop him. He was not the type who could be made to see reason, or at least a human's idea of it.

She just didn't want to admit it to herself.

"...Matilda...she said that...? That's...awful..." Jacqueline murmurs, sounding a little horrified as she drops once more into a sitting position.

She's...looking a little overwhelmed. She can't refute Neriah's claims about strength, either, at least right now.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"You wanted him to know what it felt like to suffer like you suffered," Neriah says, her voice softening with understanding. "And that's not wrong. He took things from you that you can never get back. And if people weren't strong enough to stop him, he would've kept taking and taking."

As Jay curls up like that, Neriah tilts her head to the side and frowns, a flicker of worry crossing her face. "Jay," she murmurs before taking a few steps forward, once again moving close to the overwhelmed alchemist.

Neriah lowers herself to a knee beside the woman who saved her life just weeks before, only to be repaid with near-death. The girl in the white dress again moves a hand out to lay it on Jay's shoulder, unless the other woman pulls away from her. Her smile is small and sad.

"You remind me so much of Riese, you know. You're a kind person. Sometimes," she admits, her voice just above a whisper, as she moves her hand down, reaching for Jay's. If she can take it, she'll clasp it delicately, and lay her other one over it, squeezing. "...Sometimes I wish I could be like you two," she murmurs. "And just be full of love for everyone. I envy it."

Her eyes lower to her lap, and her voice tightens up again. A tinge of bitterness creeps back in. "...But this is what the world had in store for me. And I could either stay in the Chains, and continue to be in pain and out of control all the time... hurting innocent people...." Her hand pats the back of Jay's. "...or I could control it. Maybe it will be the wrong decision in the end.

"But I won't be helpless anymore."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline is quiet. She doesn't respond right away, to confirm or deny Neriah's response. Neither does she reject Neriah as she moves closer, to kneel down and rest a hand on her shoulder once more.

Neriah compares her to Riesenlied and takes her hand, holding it delicately. Jacqueline looks up at Neriah. She looks...small, and conflicted, for a moment, before some small amount of her confidence returns.

"I don't...I don't want that. I don't want you to feel helpless, Neriah. You don't deserve that..." She replies. "But...please...be careful...that it is you controlling it..."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Once more, Neriah tightens her hands, giving Jay a squeeze. "It'll be okay," she assures the rattled alchemist, her voice still low and her smile lopsided - and yet, behind those eyes, there's a simple resolve. "It'll be okay, Jay. I know it will."

Because nobody will be left in the new world who will take from the people I care about, she reminds herself inwardly.

Neriah releases Jay's hand after one last pat, then eases to her feet, taking a step back. "Please be safe," she urges. "I have to go now... but wherever you go, make sure you take care of yourself.

"And... if you see Riesenlied, and Mikaia... please hug them for me."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline...can't really manage a smile right now. But she does send Neriah a nod. Deep within her heart, she certainly hopes it'll be okay. She hopes that gets across.

Neriah gives her hand one last past before standing. Jacqueline returns her hand to the side, still looking up at her.

"...I...I will. I'll let them know you're okay..." She replies. "And...please take care of yourself, as well. There are people who still care about you, after all..."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"I care about you too, Jay," Neriah assures, bowing her head deeply. "You're my friend... you're one of my only friends. And I want to go on being your friend. So please... don't die. And I won't, either."

Neriah turns slowly away. Jacqueline can watch her walking off into the distance. The rain peppers her as she goes.

When next Jay blinks, Neriah is suddenly much more distant, passing beneath that tree again. With the next blink, she's simply a white dot on the horizon.

A dot that vanishes after a few seconds longer.