Page 373: In the Business of Misery
In the Business of Misery
Summary: Sela confesses the kiss to Aylene.
Date: 29 July 2012
Related Logs: A Friend's Duty
Aylene Sela Nathaniel 
Rockcliff Inn, Terrick's Roost
The Rockcliff Inn is one of the better inns within the town and it shows with the well-lit interior and the relative cleanliness to the other locations in Terrick's Roost. The tables are polished with oils and the floor regularly swept. A set of booths towards a darker rear of the Inn's bottom floor, just beneath the staircase, are where whores generally socialize and eye prospects from when not waiting tables. Signs over the undersized bar area advertise prices for ales and wines as well as several different choices of food to be served at the small eating area by the bar or in the main open area in its comfortable seating. A door behind the bar leads to the kitchen and cellar while another near the staircase leads to a private room that would appear to be off-limits to the 'wait staff' except for food and drink service.
July 29, 289

There's nothing more relaxing on a Sunday morning than sitting and having a nice breakfast while being serenaded from the corner by a blind girl. Her nimble fingers pluck across the strings of the harp in her lap, playing a very soothing, relaxing melody. Sphinx lays at her feet, taking a nap.

Sela Hill — or Shale — has been hiding since that rather awkward encounter with Nathaniel. Sure, she came out to see Darek play like she always does, but she definitely has not been seen about town. Now, she warily peeks her head into the inn. She has recently started wearing gloves on her hands — the fingerless kind. She tucks those gloved hands into the pockets of her new white dress. Carefully, she starts toward where she hears Aylene play. She grabs a chair on the way, swinging it around to plop beside Aylene. "We gotta talk," she announces to the blind girl.

The music comes to a halt almost immediately and Aylene's golden head tilts. "Sela?" she queries. "O-o-okay, is everything alright?" With a frown, she sets the harp aside. "Did you want to go outside where it will be quieter or is here alright?" She gestures to the table she sits at where there are plenty of seats. Sphinx lifts his head and wags his tail hopefully in the thief's direction.

The thief purses her lips a bit as she sits beside Aylene in the corner of the inn. Her brilliant eyes scan over the patrons before she looks over to the girl. "This is fine," she confesses before she sighs, crossing her arms at her chest. "I don't know if everything is ever alright," she says with a jaded perspective, but then she shrugs her shoulders. "Its Nathaniel. Do you like him?" She asks, going for the direct method. She glances down into the loyal, noble face of Sphinx before she looks back over toward Aylene.

Aylene's cheeks flush a dark red and her hands fumble in her skirts. "Of course I like him. He's been a very nice friend since I first came to Terrick's Roost." She clears her throat, hands coming up to try and cool down the telltale blush. "Why do you ask?" Dismay appears. "Do you like him or something?"

Nathaniel steps into the inn with a few parcels that he carries to the bar. The barkeep claims the bundle and he exchanges a few pleasantries with the courier before Nathaniel turns to survey the common room as he often does when he has time to stay. Those nobles at the front of the room are unfamiliar to him. They receive a cursory bow if they look in his direction, but nothing otherwise that would draw their attention to the young man. Instead, his eyes continue to scan toward the back of the room, where the light, and the prospects of most customers, are dimmer. He spots Aylene and Sela at a table, but with the dim light and the crowd, he will need more time, or some loud and distinct noise from one of them, to be sure of their identities.

"No!" Sela says, perhaps a bit loudly, though then she drops to a hissing whisper, "why does everyone keep asking me that?" She scowls, crossing her arms at her chest. "But… I might have done something… and you have to promise not to get mad." She stalls a moment, chewing at the inside of her cheek. "Do you promise?" She has yet to notice Nathaniel, her gaze focused entirely on Aylene.

Aylene blinks at the particular tone of voice. "I just had to make sure. I don't want to like the same person as my friend." And then a frown mars her lips. "What did you do?" Her unseeing eyes focus in on the direction Sela should be seated. "I promise I won't get mad, but what did you do? You… you didn't hurt Nathaniel, did you?"

Nathaniel's eyes continue to wander, but they go back to the small table when Sela objects more loudly than she probably intended. He pushes away from the bar and almost starts to head in that direction, but then he sees Aylene, and sighs. He has seen enough of girls whispering conspiratorially at tables to know that now would not be a good time to approach. So he turns to the bartender to order a cup of tea and two small dark rolls.

"No…" Sela says a bit more apprehensively. "I kissed him." There is not a pause provided between this confession and her longwinded explanation, not allowing Aylene to start shouting at her if that's the course of action. "I was testing him. I wanted to see how much he liked you, if he would turn me down. I don't like him, Aylene. I like Darek." Though she does pause a bit after that confession, perhaps surprised it came out at all. "You know… sometimes," she amends, a bit lamely.

Sphinx could not have achieved a more downtrodden, sad puppy dog look if he were begging from the King's table. Hurt, sadness and rejection immediately make Aylene slump down under their sheer weight. "Y-you did?" she asks in a little voice. "Did he?" And she even gives a small sniffle.

The barkeep shoves a small plate with two rolls and a clay cup toward Nathaniel. The courier inclines his head and takes it. He sips some of the tea while he watches Sela and Aylene, but does not partake of the rolls yet. He can't hear their words, but Aylene's expression, and the way in which she sags in her chair, signal clear dejection to him. He gnaws at his bottom lip even more than he usually does when something is agitating him, and looks at her as if he would rush across the room to take her in his arms. However, he restrains himself and watches.

Guilt is not something Sela often feels, but there it is — sharp and heavy — at the sight of Aylene. She frowns, shifting her gaze a bit aside as she lets a bit of silence pass between them. "I did, but he didn't," she reassures the girl finally. "He said he likes you too, but he doesn't think you're interested in him. He says that he even offered to travel around with you." She folds her fingers together, giving them a little twitch. "I don't like him, Aylene," she reiterates.

"I don't want to make him give up his whole life for me," Aylene says quietly. "I would like it a lot if he traveled with me, but even if I said yes, I doubt Master Faulon would allow it. And if I had to give up my apprenticeship with Master Faulon and he had to give up his work here… that puts a whooooole lot of pressure on us to make sure that we live happily ever after, Sela. I don't know if I could do that. I'm not good at this sort of thing."

Nathaniel is still biting his lip when Aylene speaks to Sela, still looking defeated. The conversation is obviously serious. Instinct tells him that he obviously should not intrude, even though he knows both of the girls at the table, and might be able to guess what they are discussing. While he raises his cup again for a sip, one of the 'working girls' in that part of the room sits back in her chair, eyeing the young man carefully as if she is contemplating her own plan of attack.

Sela shifts about on her seat, looking quite awkward. She clasps her hands on her knees, plucking at the new wool of her skirts. "I think you are both takin' this all too seriously. I don't think that if you tell him you like him that you guys have to go to the Sept and get married." That 'M' word kind of sours on her tongue — perhaps all bastards suffer this particular distaste. She shrugs her shoulders a bit. "Maybe he can be, like, your Terrick's Roost sweetheart." She offers her a conspirator's smile. "You could collect them," she says with a bit of an uplift.

But it is serious stuff happening right in here. At least in Aylene's mind. She shakes her head. "If he's so intent on figuring things out, Sela, he should come talk to me himself," she huffs. "And he shouldn't go around kissing other girls to figure out his feelings." A small sniff. "The jerk."

The thief actually settles into a bit of relief — sure, Aylene is blaming Nathaniel for something she instigated, but if the blind girl throws the blame that way, Sela's not going to jump into the line of fire. She smiles a bit more easily before she reaches out to squeeze Aylene's fingers. "Well, he's over by the bar, spying on us." She smirks a bit, glancing now toward Nathaniel as if to prove that she's seen him. She calls out toward him. "Nathaniel, Aylene wants to talk to you." She's helping. Really.

And with that, Sela slips away, leaving Aylene and Nathaniel to talk.