Jelleneth sits, staring off into space and working her dragonhawk pendant between her thumb and forefinger. Her attention flicks to the door as Ash enters, but she says nothing, just watches him, almost anxiously.
Ashrien pauses on the threshold and watches her back for a moment, ears flicking forward as he studies her face. He looks tired, nothing more, but offers a little smile.
Jelleneth lets the pendant fall back to it’s usual place, not bothering to tuck it back into her shirt and rises to greet him, hand outstretched.
Ashrien moves in, taking her hand and leaning down to give it a quick kiss. “S’ all right, Netha?” he murmurs.
Jelleneth shakes her head, leaning past him to nudge the door closed. She lets out a slow breath into the blessed silence that falls after the click. “No. It isn’t. But you know that already.”
Ashrien nods. His eyes haven’t left her face. “We’ll get by,” he says, voice still low.
Jelleneth nods, eyes still closed. Something like a smile flickers across her lips before she leans in to rest her head against his chest. “Don’t suppose we could convince Duruk and all his men to serve as the boarding party on our first engagement…”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] And then just sail away quick like once they’re off the ship?
Ashrien pulls her close and wraps his arms around her. He’s moving slowly, almost lazily. Be easy to evade if she wanted. “I dunno if I’d wish em on the Alliance,” he says. “We could drug em and toss em overboard though.”
Jelleneth huffs out a breath, almost a laugh. “Don’t tempt me. I’d have already had you brewing something up if I thought we could get away with it.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] An’ what makes you think we couldn’t, hm?
Ashrien brushes a hand through her hair.
Jelleneth looks up at him, eyes tired and sad. “And where would we go? After. Higher ups in the Horde know we had troops sent aboard. We’d be writing our own death warrants showing back up in any Horde territory after those men just.. vanished.”
Ashrien nibbles his lip. He looks thoughtful — these are problems but they’re not insurmountable. “Depends on what sort of story and evidence trail we make to explain what happened to em. Accidents happen at sea all the time. I — I wouldn’ expect you to want to wreck the Sapphire over this, mind.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] If it’s a choice between that or sailing her into a pointless war and watching my family die over it, I’ll run her onto the rocks myself.
Ashrien hugs her close again. He doesn’t speak for several moments. “I don’t want anyone to die over any of this, not even a handful of orcs. But it ain’t as if they’ll listen to me.”
Jelleneth relaxes into his arms with a sigh that’s only mildy frustrated. “Not bloody likely to listen to any of us, I imagine. Have a bit of sway with his Duruk on account of his brother. But that won’t last if I start acting too ‘elfy’ and ‘soft’ for his liking.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] You know orcs better’n I do by far. They didn’ have much use for the Argents.
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Peaceful cooperation is a foreign concept to most of them. Fel… I think if they ever did manage to achieve their goals and just took the whole of the world for themselves they’d have to find a new one to conquer the next week.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] Or work on their infightin’. Different clans and all… they wouldn’t keep peace long amongst themselves.
Jelleneth nods, frowning. “I wonder sometimes, what they were like in the days before the Legion found them. I suppose only the draenei would remember that anymore.”
Ashrien shrugs. “As many draenei as were left alive by them, hm? Even if they were kinder an’ gentler then, it does us little good now.”
Jelleneth sighs and steps back a pace. “I know. I’ve mostly been… reacting, today. Caught me off guard. And I didn’t want to -plan- anything without being able to run it past you. Would like to put it to everyone, but that sort of meeting would be a bit much.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] F’ you need things planned, I can catch the others as time permits. If we have time.
Ashrien studies her face.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] What d’ you intend?
Jelleneth runs a hand through her hair. “A bit stuck, truth be told. If it were just us with orders to join the fight, or else.. we could just ride it out. Hit a few supply ships, maybe. Harass the humans without butchering any of them..”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] And then conveniently run aground on an island someplace to wait it out. Bt I doubt the orcs will give us that option.
Ashrien listens thoughtfully. “Well, we could run aground soon enough. Dependin’ on where we’re headin’. Shipwreck ourselves somewhere harmless…”
Jelleneth quirks a brow. “And live with the orcs for however long it takes some passing ship to spot us?”
Ashrien shakes his head. “I doubt they’d settle to live with us for long. Maybe if we were nearish some, some supply lines.” His lips quirk in a sudden smile. “Or we signal the kid to come get us to safety an’ leave them behind…”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] They wouldn’t stay stranded forever. And we’d make some bitter, vengeful enemies there. Of course… any path we take now aside from war is going to have that result.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] So it’s the war then.
Ashrien leans back on his heels and slips his hands behind his back, expression going distant and thoughtful.
Jelleneth frowns. “That or we just.. fall off. Go into hiding. Between the griffs and Tyr we could slip those we care about off the ship and just leave them to it. We’d be deserters… but that’s a far lesser crime. One they wouldn’t actively hunt us for.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Still a hell of a price to ask Tor to pay, though. Coming with us, or staying here.
Ashrien nods. “No, ain’t fair to him at all. An’ we could just… stay. Wouldn’ bother nobody but me, killin’ Alliance…” His gaze shifts away. Floorboards, yes, fascinating.
Jelleneth reaches a hand out to stroke his cheek, but she moves slowly and won’t press if he draws back.”Not just you.”
Ashrien half-closes his eyes. “Mnf. I s’pose Wren is tenderhearted, after all.”
Jelleneth shakes her head, actually managing a chuckle as she pulls away. “Seems my blood-thirsty act up there was better than I thought, if I managed to fool even you.”“
Ashrien gives her a smile. “Well now, I just know you’d do what you needed to. F’ you needed to go against the Alliance for the sake of your family, you would.”
Jelleneth nods slowly, eyes suddenly serious again. “You’re right. I would. But you’re wrong as well, if you think it wouldn’t bother me to have to do so.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] It’d bother you a fine sight less than the alternative. But you still want a third way, a way that don’t mean betrayin’ one thing you care about or another.
Jelleneth nods again. “If we can find it. Then yes. I don’t want to be in this war, at all. Even if I’m just… nicking supplies or scouting out enemy ships. I’m still helping to kill people who deserve a bit of peace after all we’ve all been through.”
Ashrien considers again. “We’ll find somethin’, then,” he murmurs. “I don’ think Quel’wythar will feel any better about this than I do, truth be told. How good is our wind-whistler, anyhow? Could we manage a safe but convincin’ wreck somewhere, if needs be?”
Jelleneth gives that a moment’s thought, then nods. “Easily, I should think. Provided none of the orcs brought aboard have a talent for the same.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] We’ll do some lookin’ and see what skills they’ve got. If they’ve no navigator, even, that’s a big asset in our favor. We could sail in circles a good while.
Ashrien grins mischievously, and there’s a bit of the usual gleam in his eyes again.
Jelleneth grins back at him. “I know of a great big patch of nothing a ways south we could drift into. Tricky winds around the cape, easy to get blown a bit off course on the way.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] So suss em out a few days, see what they got… see if Wren or Quel’wythar or his nibs have bright ideas?
Jelleneth nods, the tension in her shoulders relaxing a bit. “It’s a plan of a sort, at least. We can revise as we go. In the meantime I’ll do my best to stall us joining the fight.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] An’ I’ll get some… potions an’ all ready. For healin’, of course.
Jelleneth smiles and nods. “Some of that as well. We may end up marooned for a spell. Can’t hurt to have some stock put away.”
Ashrien grins. “Some of my special brew, then?” He’s teasing now, mostly. “Wonder if the orcs need any o that…”
Jelleneth grimaces. “Orcish reproduction is a subject I will gladly continue to know absolutely nothing about.”
Ashrien laughs. “I’m sure they do it just as we do. Oh Light, Light, I hope they keep it quiet while they’re aboard. We’ll be all right, we’ve got the soundproofin’, but your poor brothers? An’ Jess?” He winces dramatically.
Jelleneth tilts her head to one side, smile mischievous. “I know he’s been at close quarters with orcs in the past, up in the North. Wonder if that’s what left him so shell-shocked, hmm? Just the sounds from the next bunk over?”
Ashrien looks grave. “I do hope this doesn’ give him a relapse. A breakdown. He might try to steal an Alliance ship an’ pass her off as our own.”
Jelleneth laughs. “Would be a tale to tell back in Orgrimmar, that’s for certain.”
Ashrien grins and winks. “Maybe we should offer him our bed to keep him safe an’ all from any such trauma.”
Jelleneth steps in closer, hands reaching for his. “And traumatize my brothers instead. The pair of us, trying to squeeze into Jess’s bunk together? Or were you just meaning to kick -me- out?”
Ashrien gives her his hands and grins wider. “Oh, mebbe I’m just lookin’ for a chance to get him into my bed — no, no, Netha. I ain’t really, and you know that.”
Jelleneth headtilts. “Course I do. Though I hope you don’t mind overmuch if it’s just cocoa and stories this evening. And the next several. So long as we’re still ‘entertaining guests’.”
Ashrien looks confused very briefly — he hadn’t even been thinking of this, or so it seems. “Course. So long as you wish. I ain’t Wren.”
Jelleneth smiles and leans in for a kiss on the cheek. “I know, love. I know. Should just… trust by now. M’sorry. I’m out of sorts tonight.”
Ashrien closes his eyes again. “No worries, d’ rather you say, hm? Better than silently endurin’ more unpleasantness.”
Jelleneth clicks her tongue and shakes her head. “Never unpleasant with you. And you know it. And that’s the why, as well. Wouldn’t be able to enjoy things properly with my nerves all a skitter.” The smile drops a bit.
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] If I end up thrashing at you in my sleep tonight… it’s nothing to do with you.
Ashrien pulls back again, expression troubled. “I wouldn’ generally think it was something to do with me. Tonight or ever. Should I?”
Jelleneth snaps a “No!” before calming a bit and repeating it more softly. “No. Never. I just meant… fel… why am I even saying any of this to you? You’re not Pyrce. Not going to get angry at me for not feeling safe just because you’re here.”
Ashrien draws back a bit at that first, ears forward and eyes widening. Then he relaxes — smiles apologetically — offers her his hand again. “I don’t feel safe myself,” he says. “An’ I’m with me all the time. Why should it be different for you?”
Jelleneth leans into him, nuzzling gently against his chest. “Because I usually do. Not… not safe like I felt as a bitty in my father’s arms. Not innocent, naive safe. But… I trust you. To be ready when the bad things come. To be there, with me, to face them.”
Ashrien mms softly and wraps his arms back around her. “That still doesn’t solve all the problems, doesn’t keep all the nightmares an’ worries away. An’ if I could make everything all right, maybe it’d be different. But fear’s often a signal that somethin’ ain’t right, somethin’ needs fixed, somethin’ needs to change so it ain’t scary any more. Bein’ scared right now is sensible, not weak, not… not an insult to me or anyone else.”
Jelleneth whispers. “Are you scared, Ash?” But she keeps her face burried in his chest, not looking at him, and not pressing for an answer.
Ashrien doesn’t give her one right away. “Rather terrified,” he says finally and with a smile. “I’ve got no good choices, not in this war.”
Jelleneth bites her lip and gives him another little squeeze. “Keep thinking we could have avoided this if I’d just signed up with Rev back when the choice was first offered. But that’s hardly a productive thought, is it?”
Ashrien shakes his head. “I don’t think the Horde would necessarily have respected that. They love the… with us or against us thing,you know? We’re sin’dorei, they think they own us or somethin’.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] And all we wanted was to keep our home safe. And that’s all the Alliance wanted either. At least… before Theramore. Now I imagine there’s more than a few of them that want revenge.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] Course they do. Their own children died there. I just…
Ashrien looks away.
Jelleneth lays a hand against his cheek, not to turn his head, just a touch.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] If it comes down to killing them or… standin’ by while those I’m s’posed to take care of are killed…
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Wasn’t planning to send you in with the boarding party, love. If things even get that far. I hope they won’t. But if…
Ashrien: [Thalassian] If they get that far? And our own folk are sent? What’m I to do, Netha?
Jelleneth takes a long, deep breath. “Surrender. I suppose. You can speak Common. Shout at any of them who’ll listen. And I’ll lay my weapons down next to yours.”
Ashrien draws back a bit to look down at her. “Then what happens to your brothers? To Jess? The crew?”
Ashrien ..sounds despairing. Dis pear. Delishus.
Jelleneth ‘s lips purse a bit, but she doesn’t waiver. “Well, this is a contingency we’ll have to brief them on. And they can make their own choice.”
Ashrien takes in a deep breath and lets it out. “They might kill us too, you know. Or refuse to honor a surrender. Or any of a dozen nasty things could happen.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] And that is why this is not our first plan. More of a back up to the back up of the back up plan.
Ashrien nods. That’s something he can deal with.
Jelleneth’s eyes darken a bit. “But if it does come to that. And if they do refuse the surrender. If you say the words and they cut you down anyway… well, you’re just going to have to forgive the bloody swath I cut through them until they take me down as well.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] But that makes it all different, doesn’ it? Fel. Maybe we can just be awful at gettin’ close enough to anyone to board em.
Jelleneth tilts her head at him. “And is it any better, do you think, if they die from cannon fire and drowning instead of an axe or a sword stroke?”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] I suppose it depends on how much sabotage we can pull without our guests noticin’.
Jelleneth laughs, though there’s a bit of irony in it. “And after all the bravado I had to spend convincing Duruk that you were too valuable to risk on boarding or on the cannons… “
Ashrien grins. “We’ll jus’ have to let Jess do that part. They’re his babies, eh?”
Jelleneth sighs and shakes her head. “Normally I’d just go with chain shot or the fel cannon to light up the sails. A crippled ship’s no threat. But the orcs are going to want the kill.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] And once we start shootin’ at them, they’ll…
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Shoot back. If we take the risky shots, go for larger targets with heavier guns I may just be able to convince Duruk that crippling the ship is enough. That closing to board would be too dangerous. But that would leave that ship dead in the water for the
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] next Horde warship to find.
Ashrien nods. “Like I said, no good choices. Maybe for any of us here.”
Jelleneth looks away. “And you could be training up new healers in Hearthglen right now if I hadn’t…” It’s almost a whisper. Tired and sad.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] Shush. I could also be dead, or drunk in the streets of Silvermoon, or… or… Vereesa Windrunner’s second husband.
Jelleneth does actually manage a smile at that last one. “Oh. I see how it is. You’ll slip a ring on for any pretty lass who waves a bow at you, hmm?”
Ashrien smiles right back. “I suppose it depends on what awful circumstance I got myself into for it to seem like a good idea.”
Jelleneth slips a hand down to twine her fingers with his. “And what awfulness were you in to make this..” she gives the ring a little tap. “..seem like one, hmmm?” Still smiling, teasing, little self-blame spiral temporarily abandoned.
Ashrien smiles wider. “Oh, the awfulness called love an’ wantin’ the sort of future we see together. I know it’s dire.”
Jelleneth ‘s smile buckles a bit. “Promise me we’ll still have it?”
Ashrien leans down to press a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll do everythin’ I can to bring it to you,” he murmurs. “That much I do swear.”
Jelleneth tilts her head up to steal another kiss. “And I won’t ask for more than you can give, Ash. I promise you that.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] I know. Wouldn’ have wanted to marry you otherwise, hmm?
Ashrien smiles crookedly.
Jelleneth smiles back at him as she steps away, moving to her chair to kick her boots off. “Was Tor able to take the apology gracefully, or was he an ass about it?”
Ashrien takes the sudden topic change in stride. “He was most gracious. I just hope I conveyed the appropriate sentiment.” His eyes darken briefly and he looks away again.
Jelleneth doesn’t miss that, and she watches him a bit more closely as she asks the next bit. “What sentiment -did- you convey?”
Ashrien hesitates. “I said — you hoped he would forgive your uncalled-for words, and… you don’ blame him for…”
Ashrien gestures. His attention’s on her, though, and he’s quite clearly anxious.
Jelleneth nods, looking more confused by the anxiety than remotely critical of the words. “Thank you. That was exactly what I intended. Just couldn’t say it myself while I was playing Captain Blood for the benefit of our guests.”
Ashrien relaxes a bit. “Good, good. I just wasn’t sure if — mnf.”
Jelleneth glances away, eartips pinkening a bit. “And I… I knew he wouldn’t try to make you crawl before he’d take it. He… might have tried that with Jess. To no one’s good. So thank you, again. For doing the unpleasant job no one wants.”
Ashrien lets out a soft breath. “I wouldn’t wish that on Jess. Or Wren. An’ if he needed crawling, I know how to do that. Though he said I rank him here.” He snorts, almost a laugh.
Jelleneth quirks a brow at him. “Technically. If this is now, officially a military vessel, you do.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] He’ll forget that the moment it’s convenient for him to do so.
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Most likely. But I won’t. And you don’t have to either.
Ashrien sighs again and heads for the bed. He settles down gracefully, not looking at her.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] I s’pose Ilthus will remember it when it’s least convenient for his nibs, hm?
Jelleneth shakes her head with a soft laugh and moves to join him, seating herself near, but not touching. “I’m amazed he’s not waving it in front of him now like a dueling flag.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] Wren ranks him too, hm? Poor big brother, gonna be chafin’ at that… I guess we can use this to our advantage. Sooner we’re not a military vessel, sooner he don’t have to listen to any of us.
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Doesn’t rank you at least. Ship’s Medic and Master of the Tops are roughly equal. Though Jess outranks the pair of you. First Mate and all. I… I was going to give her to him, you know? After the run for Rev.
Ashrien nods. He leans closer, shoulder nudging against her leg. “Maybe you can still.” He doesn’t sound too optimistic though. “I don’t mind followin’ his orders, you know. He’s not the blood an’ glory type.”
Jelleneth shakes her head. “And that’s the problem. He’s too much an elf. We’d have a mutiny and an orcish takeover within an hour if I tried to give him command now. Not that I think the orcs would even let that happen. Sorry chaps, love to go off to war with you — but you caught me juuuust about to retire. Bit of bad luck that. But best of luck with the killing of the Alliance Scum, what what?”
Ashrien chuckles. “I wasn’t recommending that. Light, imagine what it’d do to the poor fellow to get abandoned to orcs like that? Nah. Jus’ meant… never minded him outrankin’ me. Even the theory of it an’ not the, you know. How he never really uses it.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Didn’t even use it back in the day. I couldn’t see it then, of course, blinded as I was with adoration but… poor Jess was never much of a Commander. He had rank, of course, in the Rangers. With his House and family there was no question.
Ashrien looks almost fond. “Don’ need to learn to command if people always defer on account of that.”
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] But he really only skated by because his men liked him. If he’d had to give them tough orders… I don’t know he could have. Not then, anyway.
Ashrien: [Thalassian] I don’t want to see him try it now. For his own sake. Not these sorts of orders.
Jelleneth frowns and scootches in a bit closer. “I don’t much like having to give them myself.”
Ashrien stretches his arm out, be nice and cozy to lean against. “Well, you could just hand over command of the ship to Torian.” He’s not serious. Probably.
Jelleneth laughs. “Oh that would go well.” Mmm… arm. “I might have put it a bit bluntly, but I meant what I said before. He really knows not a damn thing about sailing, or naval tactics, or even which end of the boat is the stern.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] Or how to deal with orcs, hm?
Ashrien snuggles closer.
Jelleneth: [Thalassian] Ilthus might be the best of us for that bit, honestly. And I’ll let him know that as soon as he’s done being pissed at me. Everything I know about orcs I learned from one. And even that didn’t end well.
Ashrien gives her another crooked smile. “Captain Ilthus, hmm?”
Jelleneth smirks back. “Scourge of the High Seas.” The smile turns fond, almost wistful. “Reckon he’d stay on? Keep Jess company? If we get the chance to retire peacefully.”
Ashrien scooches closer and thinks it over. “Mmh, depends on… Hah, I could be wrong, but I kinda think it depends on what he thinks’ll leave him seein’ the kid very often.”
Jelleneth frowns a bit. “I almost hope you’re wrong. For both their sakes.”
Ashrien: [Thalassian] We’ll see. I dunno what I hope — but thankfully none of it depends on what I want, so I don’t need to worry about wantin’ the right thing.