2019-07-23: Reunion

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  • Log: Reunion
  • Cast: Gwen Whitlock, Avril Vent Fleur
  • Where: Guadosalam
  • Date: July 23, 2019
  • Summary: After the battle in Luca, Avril and Gwen reunite. A joyful reunion is darkened by the grimmer turn of late, however, and other matters besides.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    How long has it really been, since that last battle, when Gwen and Avril last saw each other?

    Looking at Gwen now, it may seem like it was years ago. Two young refugees run alongside Gwen on as she brings in a crate of supplies, panting from overexertion. "Jus'... show me where t'put this..."

    With a small child leading the way, it takes every ounce of Gwen's remaining stamina to upload the wooden crate next to a shop, where she wobbles off to find a spot to retain some decree of pride as she pants on the ground. "... Y'think... they could... turn off the lightning..."

    "That's silly, how could you turn off lightning?" says the girl, her lips turned up slightly in a frown. "You can't turn off weather."

    Gwen groans, straightening up into a sitting position. "Well, y'see, there's a switch, n' all y'need t'do is flip it from on t' o..." She trails off, seeing the complete lack of understanding on the girl's face, rather than the delightful sign of a child being taken in by an adult who should know better. "Like, magic!" She wiggles her fingers for effect.
    Silence. The girl's frowning is powered by a second child, who looks on Gwen with wide-eyed innocence. "Can you do that?"
    "... Of course I can." Gwen rubs her handkerchief over her brow, mopping up the sweat. "I just, uh."
    The two children hang on Gwen's words, the second nodding helpfully.
    "I forgot how, clearly."
    It's as if nothing had happened at all.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.


    In the end, Avril had gone north once she had escaped and found shelter, seeking in time the greater quiet beyond the Moonflow. War is spreading even across this land. Whether Ignas, Glenwood, Elru, or Spira, war is it seems a second nature to people.

    She has had much time to think since the battles in Luca.
    On what rests in her heart.

    "I had hoped you were alright," she says, briefly clasping her hands before her. "After that encounter in Luca, I..."

    She trails off, as if noticing for the first time Gwen's audience. "Oh... hello there. Are you Gwen's friends?" she asks, slowly kneeling to get down on the kids' level.

    Events had in the end necessitated a change of wardrobe; Avril wears a gown more traditional to the women of these parts -- the Spiran humans that is, and in deference to the slightly chillier temperature of Guadosalam compared to the far more casual attire to the south.

    "I hope you two are doing well. I know it has been difficult," she says to the children, "but I do believe matters may get better soon."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "You were pullin' my leg?"
    At the sound of her name, the redhead looks up in surprise from the exasperated children, a grunt escaping her mouth as she stands to her feet. "Ugh... I think I stumbled on the same spot as last tim- Avril?"

    There, in that moment, it takes so much restraint to keep herself from grasping the poor Ice Queen in a heart, joyful hug. "Avril! You're okay! Do Dean n' Rebecca know you're okay? Heck, are they okay? I mean, there's been way too much stuff goin' on, n'..."

    Her joy wheezes out in a breath of air as Avril mentions Luca, tempering Gwen's enthusiasm to a more manageable simmer, the children likewise looking about the unfamiliar city.

    "Yeah, maybe we should.... chat 'bout that, if you're willin'." Gwen regards the two children. "These two are my newest assistants, since... a few minutes ago. Very sharp n' able, with a wide amount of patience that no adult could ever hope of comparin' to."

    Searching in the pocket of her new tunic, Gwen withdraws her left hand and opens it, holding two pieces of hard candy. "For being so helpful!"

    The two collect their candy with dubious expressions, the younger of the two piping up with an astute observation: "But we didn't do anything."

    "You'll help unpack that crate, right? Then I'll give you two another. Sound like a deal?"

    The older one is already considering, popping the hard candy in her mouth, while the younger one instantly nods. "Yeahyeah! I love candy!"

    WIth a few more statements about candy and who loves it more, Gwen manages to get the two to wander off in the same direction as the crate. "... I really shouldn't have done that, but whether they do it or not, we can go chat." She rubs the back of her neck. "If you... feel like it. D'you got any info on what exactly's goin' on?" A pause. "With anything, I mean."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    In a heartbeat, Avril finds herself drawn into a hug. "Gwen!" Surprise is the first order of the day, though Avril is quick to return the gesture. If in such a way that almost seems like the... most formal hug someone could give. No less heartfelt, of course, but still, rather courtly. "Yes, I am alright. ...I met with them a few days after escaping Luca. We are all quite well and have come to no harm." Once she is released from the courier's tight embrace, she stoops to greet Gwen's new bestest helpers.

    "Oh, I see. So the both of you are helping her out." Avril nods, gravely. "This is a very important job you are both doing. I thank you, from the bottom of her heart."

    Someone else might have been having fun at the children's expense, with language like that.
    Avril... probably not so much.

    She stands again as candy is passed around, the faintest of amused smiles dancing on her lips.

    It's with some effort that she keeps it together until the children have agreed to help with the crate -- and when she follows Gwen's lead and heads off in the opposite direction -- and only then emits the softest of giggles.

    "You're a kind person, Gwen. But, I think they will do as you requested. Look, see," she gestures back in the direction of the crate, turning halfway towards where it rests.

    The children are already dutifully at work.

    "It must be difficult for them," she murmurs. "They are refugees, are they not? Yet they face the world with such open hearts. Sometimes," Avril muses, her expression distant, "I wonder what the world would be like if everyone were as open to it..."

    She shakes her head, silver strands briefly aflutter.

    "I have heard little save that even now the Guard intends to conquer Spira. I assume they will attempt to move north, though I have heard little else. Have you any news yourself, Gwen?"

    She regards the courier a little more critically than before, as if in recollection of that battle.

    What had transpired during.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    Avril points Gwen back in the direction of the two children, hard at work. Gwen tilts her head, then lets out a sheepish laugh. "I should've given 'em more credit. I figured, kids like that would just want to find any reason t'think about somethin' other than their situation. But I guess helping does that too." She nods, tucking a curl of red hair under her bandanna. "I hope they keep their spirits up n' their hearts open, too. If they carry any hate towards outsiders from overseas from alla this, it'd just be one more cycle of violence."

    That is, if the Guard itself doesn't destroy all means of resistance. Or Sin, for that matter.

    "..." Gwen's face creases in a wince. "Just, why. This is all wrong. Everybody was comin' together to fight back Sin, and now, we're just fightin' among each other. Someone's usin' this all t'claim land. It's like the war between Aveh n' Kislev all over again. Except here, instead of two countries, it's two areas, n' two religions. And then there's us, in the middle. I want t'see the silver lining, but that implies that there's a right side here."

    She blinks, as if realizing how dire her words sound. "Eheh... sorry. I mean, it could all work out. The followers of Yevon may not like Machina, but seein' people come to their aid might make them realize that this belief's pretty silly to hold. I mean, you noticed it too- the kids. They don't judge."

    What else had she heard? What else was there to talk about? Gwen is silent, eying the air in front of her.

    "I heard that the Veruni were getting involved too. I need to talk to Kaguya t'get a scoop on this, but even if I don't, I wonder if bein' on Lunar means Veruni won't get sick. But still, wouldn't that make a war inconvenient for any Veruni ported here? Or maybe I'm just confused on alla this."

    Some parts of Gwen never seem to change.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    To that, Avril can only nod slowly, her gaze drifting downwards. "Yes... suffering can so often rend long-lasting wounds upon a heart. It would be tragic if this pain only led to further pain." Those children, cast so far from their homes. Perhaps missing friends, family as well. She can only imagine.
    And yet, she can still hear them calling out to one another to 'be more careful!' or 'lift this this way!' and so on in the distance, even as she walks away with Gwen.

    Maybe... this is a sort of hope?

    "So you see it too," Avril murmurs. "I have been wondering if this may be the case for all wars, in the end. If all conflicts boil down to such matters." Alike in most regards, except for the one thing where neither can budge, and so there must be fighting to resolve the matter.

    It is inevitable. So long as another exists that can challenge you, there must be war. To do otherwise is to hand over your people for the slaughter. This is the nature of the world, the thing in the dark whispers through the crack in her mind.

    She wrenches her attention away.
    Even knowing that doing this -- denying it -- is jamming a wedge into her being, forming cracks along a different axis. Something will break, but which will it be first?

    "...Between the devil and the deep blue sea," she murmurs, her gaze hooded. Her attention shifts then to Gwen and she hesitates for a moment, as if startled to realize another person was here with her. "..."

    And then, as Avril reasserts her presence back in the here and now, Gwen speaks of the Veruni and their presence in this land. "They... are?" She has lifted a hand almost to her throat, her fingers curling in on themselves. "...If we were in Elru when that event happened, then it makes sense that they would have been transported here as well. But..."

    It might as well be claws raking at her heart. They're her people. Their actions are her responsibility. And--

    Her eyes widen. In a flash, she can recall what she had seen of the Guard's machines in the port. And she-- countless pieces fall into the place on the table so quickly that she scarce has time to blink. But the picture is one she still can't recognize.

    "I have... seen that method of construct before," she mumbles to herself, then jerks her attention over to the courier. "Gwen... those machines the Guard had in Luca's port. I only saw them at a distance. Are they...?"

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "Notice what? Oh, that there can be a cycle, y'mean?" Gwen sits on a bench, her mouth sporting a thoughtful frown. "I 'spose it sounds real bad when I'm the one saying it. There will always be pain, of course. N' wars happen. But so does normal life. People havin' jobs, aspirations, wantin' to become bakers n' tailors n' merchants. And pain comes with that, too. But it's always sad when pain happens when it feels like it shouldn't have to." She shakes her head. "That's the part that gets me. When I look at White Knight Leo, I see a man who is honorable, who fights for what's right. Like, straight-up _white knight_ from a romantic novel. If I stop t'think about it, why am I fighting him? Why am I fighting people who would understand the very sort of pain they're puttin' others through? N' why are they fighting us? What do they have to lose by finding common ground? What would then gain by continuing forward? Already, there's been examples of their methods just not working with fiends. The more they win, the more they lose, n'-"

    Gwen stops, noticing Avril's hooded gaze. "Oh, sorry 'bout that. I got ramblin', hehe." The courier offers a sheepish shrug of her shoulders, rubbing the back of her neck. "-Yeah, that sounds 'bout right. Between a rock and a hard place."

    "I wonder if it was limited t'Elru, honestly. But yeah, I guess several Veruni would've gotten transported by that." Seeing the fingers curl about Avril's throat, Gwen's lips purse uneasily. "Are you worried?"

    Is it fear? Concern? Just how is Avril really connected to the Veruni, beyond the vague sentences Volsung had said?

    "I know that Kaguya was here from when we were all transported the first time, and she didn't get teleported back. Not that she seemed t'mind, since Lunar's been kinder to her." As Avril thinks aloud, the redhead nods helpfully. "Yeah, Veruni. That's why I was thinkin' it was odd that the Veruni were sidin' with the Guard. I figured Kaguya had somethin' t'do with it, since she's built some connections, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were others too."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Yes," Avril murmurs simply, coming to a stop by the bench. Her gaze for now rests elsewhere, away from Gwen, away from most of the city that even exists above the surface. Her attention is just one place: up at the sky, at the great blue sphere of Filgaia that hangs in the heavens.

    She only listens to Gwen as she speaks, as she pours out her heart about how many conflicts that should not come to pass occur, how she ends up fighting people she doesn't want to fight.

    How this whole thing loops about itself like a serpent consuming its own tail.


    Avril doesn't have answers. Perhaps no one does.

    "...It is alright," she says, once she has shaken, for now, her own demons. "Oh?"
    It takes her a moment to recollect what she has just uttered, to sit herself back into the forward flow of time.

    Just as Gwen speaks of the Veruni.

    In silence, Avril nods.

    "I..." she pauses. "I did not tell you, did I. I am... their ruler, Gwen. But I cannot return to lead them, not as I am. Without my memories, it is likely I would become a pawn for those such as Volsung to use as they please. I am sorry. What has happened is..."

    She trails out, closing her eyes briefly. It's useless to feel regret over what she cannot affect, but it does not change the fact that this is what she feels. She's powerless, her only options to behave rashly and actively worsen things or to watch and witness them worsen on their own.

    Which is what has happened. She had feared as much, thinking about what she had seen, of the small links that clicked into place in her mind. Not memory -- just familiarity.
    Because if those are Veruni make...

    "Oh..." Her shoulders slump. "I was afraid that might be so. Then they truly are Golems after all." She shakes her head. "Without something with the capacity to face off against them, we cannot fight them directly. I am sorry."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    After a while, seeing Avril look to the sky, Gwen does the same, lifting her head to reflect on the giant disk that hangs above. "Filgaia looks so pretty, sittin' in the sky like that. Like a piece of turquoise, cut just right n' laid into th'night."

    "Oh?" The redhead tears her gaze from the blue star, glancing back at Avril. "So it wasn't just a metaphor or somethin'? He actually thought of you as a queen?" Now, that may be taking it a step too far, as Avril speaks further. "That makes sense. Volsung may not care or even want you to have your memories back, just as long as he has you to be there to manipulate. N' even if you did have your memories... I don't know if it would make things better, y'know? He seemed real sure you'd come with him, one way or another. Even seemed angry that we were around you, influencin' you." She laughs uneasily. "I mean, whatever you do, it's your choice. But sometimes, I wonder what'd happen to the you that's here now. Because I wouldn't want t'see it be overwritten. If... that's even a thing? I guess, if you just remember stuff it'd be like rememberin' where you hid a bunch of cash in an emergency. Your personality wouldn't change, would it?"

    "You don't need to apologize, Avril." She takes in a soft breath. "That man is scary in a way I can't quite quantify, Avril. The way he acted towards all of us, n'... whatever he did. The stuff that made my head hurt."

    Come to think of it, did she transform back then? But if that happened, wouldn't have anyone mentioned it?

    "Avril, back then... when I was, uh, not myself. I know it was a long time ago, when Volsung tried to nab you." Gwen's own face registers some shock as she realizes just how long it's been. "But back then, did I look or act any different in a really big way? Can you remember?"

    "... Golems." Like Dean was obsessed over. Like Asgard. "You mean, unless we don't have Gears? I think there's got t'be ways." She raises one finger. "Oh, like, what about the summoners? Like Yuna? Seems they summon things that are like beefed up Guardians. N' the Al Bhed seem as high tech as some areas on Filgaia. They may have some things that could help, if the Yevon top brass'd be willin' to see past their prejudice."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Avril, at first, remains silent.

    "It looks... fragile. As if it were made of glass..." And it could so easily break. She, in silence, clasps her hands before herself.

    She shakes her head, causing her long silver hair to rustle softly against her back. "No, it was not. I suppose I knew in some way that I was perhaps not a human, but I was still hoping that I was in error. That it was a mistake..." Her gaze shifts downwards. "It may have been better if I had faced those fears directly rather than run from them. In the end, I am still afraid."

    Of her legacy.
    Of what she might become.
    Of the fact that she must end in some way or shape or form, lest she become lost.
    Just like the Trial Knight had said.

    "Elvis confirmed it. Moreover, once I reclaimed the mirror, I knew it without question. I am their ancient queen, asleep for thousands of years, now returned to them. This is the source of my power and my authority. If I wished something so, my people would see it done..." She trails off, her lips curved unhappily downwards. "...but it is more complicated than that. Even with power and authority, one can be utterly powerless."

    And then Gwen says something that seems to make Avril simply stop.

    Even if you did have your memories...

    For a moment, the courier might not be sure whether or not Avril is about to cry.

    But instead she just approaches the bench and settles alongside Gwen.

    "...Yes. I have wondered that myself. However, I have no choice. I made a promise to find myself, and I must know why. I cannot break a promise without knowing the reason behind it."

    Even... she thinks.
    Even if I vanish?

    "He is... frightening," she agrees. "No one should have eyes like that."

    Such cold, hateful eyes.

    "You... changed. In Luca, that is. I cannot remember very much about the Photosphere after a certain point. But in Luca, I remember... your ARM changed, and so did you." Avril glances over at Gwen and slowly, softly, sadly, begins to smile. "But I changed as well. I am sorry. I was, I suppose, 'fighting my own battle' at that time." There is a pause before she adds, "At both of those times."

    The topic of the Golems at least is a more welcome ground. "Yes. A Gear, or a Golem, or something or someone capable of fighting them on equal footing. ...Those would not be a normal Golem. They would be..." She pauses, as if struggling to articulate something and failing. "They're... they are..." Her brow creases and she frowns. In the end, she is forced to give it up, the context she needs, the words she needs, both are missing for her to verbalize.

    "A summoner's summons. Maybe... with enough of them, it would be sufficient."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "... Yeah." Gwen reaches up towards Filgaia with her left hand, her fingertips lit by blue. "I 'spose it was a real surprise to Lunarians, to see so many of us were anything but delicate. Pretty much the opposite, really." She pauses. "... Not that much different from them, really."

    "Avril..." She turns her head towards the silver-haired woman, her face tilted. "If it helps, I ain't sure anymore if I necessarily qualify as human. I mean, it doesn't bug me as much, now that I realize that it doesn't really matter. N' with demihumans, Hyadeans, Veruni, elves, n' small cases like Crimson Nobles? It never mattered as much as we thought it did." She lets out a small laugh. "I mean, okat, sometimes it still bugs me. Does it bug you?"

    Now, Gwen shifts her body in the bench to fully face Avril, the light bathing her skin in blue. "N' you ain't exempt from havin' your own personal journey. You had, and still have, more t'worry about than yourself. What would've happened if you had gone then? Volsung would have gotten what he had wanted. Not only that, he registers those around you, 'especially people like Dean n' Rebecca, as threats to what he wants. It's okay to be afraid, Avril. You have a lot that's important to you."

    Even if she was, and maybe still is, the Veruni queen.

    In that vague moment, when Avril's face seems on the verge of tearing up, Gwen freezes. "Oh, uh, ah, sorry, I take it back! I didn't mean for that t'... well..." She scratches her fingers through the curls of her red hair. "Maybe it'll all work out? I mean, you have Dean. I'm sure, if things look murky, Dean'd find you. That's th'sort of person he is. He's the real deal. Not only that, you have all of us. Whatever you do, n' whatever you choose t'do, when you're ready, we'll help you. Not because you're queen, but because you're our friend." She grins. "I 'spose it's a little much t'speak for everyone, but I think most people'd be up for it at the very least."

    Beautiful, cold eyes. Like icewater running down your neck. "..."

    They had both changed, at least in Luca. "... Yeah. I wish I could've helped you." Gwen glances downwards. "I assume you got t'safety afterwards, since you're here n' all. I, uh, don't remember much, myself."

    "... Yeah?" Gwen blinks as Avril struggles to put things in words. "There's got t'be options. Heck, I could visit Kaguya n' just see what's goin' on. Maybe, we could..." Do what? Would it be safe? Kaguya guaranteed Gwen would be safe. "N' even if it comes to nothing, I promised her that I'd... meet up with her, again. Over... a friend that passed."

     Gwen is not going to admit anything Janus-related to Avril.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    At that, Avril cannot help but giggle. "I admit, I did not expect to meet anyone from the moon, myself. I suppose we have that in common. Living all these years, never expecting to see anyone who came from the sphere that hangs in the sky..." It's almost a little poetic: silver and blue, in an eternal dance.

    The soft effect of Filgaia's blue light only marginally tints Avril's pale hair. She turns towards Gwen. "Yes. That is the conclusion I came to. At one point, it would have bothered me, but that is no longer true. I am who I am, nothing less." Her gaze skirts away from Gwen. "We cannot choose the means of our birth, only the courses of our lives."

    In spite of herself -- and the emotions that dance within her heart, that fulminate through the crack in the wall in her psyche -- Avril cannot help but smile slightly. "...That is the conclusion I had come to, as well, but I fear that does not prevent me from dwelling on my choice overmuch. I suppose that is the price we pay for our minds -- to reflect on the past can mean to dwell on a decision to our detriment. I cannot know what would have happened to me, but I can certainly guess, based on what I do know."

    But even that smile fades when Gwen says those few words. Avril, out of necessity perhaps, takes a seat. "...There is no need to apologize," she says, and she sounds a million miles off. "It is... something I have thought, now and again. But I cannot... I must..." Her hands clench, fisting the cloth of the tunic she wears. "...I am sorry. I do not think I can discuss this now. There are things that I must consider, even if thinking them may be to my detriment." Her gaze tilts downwards, she interlocks her fingers with one another.

    "In time... I'll be able to speak with all of you on this. But not yet. Not now."

    Some things are too raw to discuss.
    Some things she has difficulty turning into words.

    Her fears first among them. The panic and terror that rises from the depths -- not from the dark thing beyond but herself fully herself -- is wild, as untamed as a beast. Something awful happened once like this before, she knows, because her body hasn't forgotten.
    And to bring it under control will be no mean task.

    It's easier to talk about Luca. Easier to talk about Golems. "And I you," she says, at length. "I was able to escape unharmed, at least. I am glad you were able to escape as well."

    Options. Maybe there are options out there, somewhere. "Whatever they may be, we must endeavor to discover them. Yevon may well be able to hold against the Guard, but the Golems will only cause further destruction if unchecked. We..." Gwen voices the idea of talking to Kaguya, specifically. Avril sits up that much straighter. "...Perhaps that is what I must do. On this stage, that is a responsiblity that is mine to try. If you do speak to her, I would like to accompany you."

    Even if it might make certain conversations that much more difficult.

    A friend that passed. Avril's expression turns distant a few degrees. Pensive. Bittersweet.

    "I see..."