Terrace Scene, Poking a Tiger

[Author’s OOC Note: This scene, taken from the in-game Cerra Manor Terrace channel, is one of the first RP scenes I took part in without  Shalee or Kat (both are awesome, by the way) present either OOC in-game or IC in the channel. I was therefore without their guidance. So, in a lot of ways, it was an adventure into the realm of RP, which has proven to be an immensely fun way of passing otherwise mind-numbingly boring time (yay POS management!).

Setup: Reginald’s perception of Tigerfish Torpedo at this point are colored by two incidents. The first is when Reginald unwittingly brought a Fraudulent Pax Amarria to the Terrace and was subsequently interrogated by Tiger and Vlad Cetes–an incident that has left Reginald with a low opinion of Tiger. Shalee managed to save the day with a timely intervention, but not before Tiger engaged in a series of public displays of affection that Reginald found tasteless.  The second, which decreased his opinion even further of Tiger, took place the night prior to this scene, during which Kat alerted Shalee to Tiger sharing a bed with Lunarisse Aspenstar–it also happened to be the same conversation where Reginald had revealed to Shalee that Heart of Pyerite employed slaves, thus sparking the chain of events that led to his collar.

After writing that description, I’m surprised at how complex the context is despite my less than a week of RP experience at the time–it’s so entertaining on the Terrace. At any rate, just so that you don’t have to deal with massive chatlogs, I have adapted the scene into a narrative.]

Terrace Scene: Poking a Tiger

Reginald felt a few glances in his direction from a number of the servers as he walked onto the Terrace from the Guest Manor. He was unsurprised–it made sense that Lady Executor Lianne’s employees would share her sentiments. He fought back an urge to tell them that he was trying to make amends, that he was working towards emancipating his corporation’s slaves, and that he had an email to Lady Lianne as proof. But there wasn’t much good in that, especially as his slaves were not yet free. He was also still mulling over Lady Lianne’s response, a message that arrived in his inbox encrypted. After running an Imperial Outlaws leadership-level decryption algorithm for nearly an hour, the message was revealed to be a curt reply:

We should talk. – Shalee

Although he thought his own message may have warranted a lengthier response, he was nonetheless at a loss as to what “We should talk” was referring. She could be angry, though she could also be willing to forgive him and his corporation. Far too many variables. It demanded much more thought on the matter than he was prepared to give at the moment.

With an unsatisfied sigh, he managed to finally pry his eyes away from the message, sat down at an empty table, and ordered breakfast. To his surprise, he was greeted by another patron.

She approached the table, giving him a nod, “Sir.”

“Oh, hello,” Reginald replied, surprised. He stood up afterwards entirely on instinct–always stand up for a lady, his mother had told him–and asked, incorrectly, “How are you?”

His mother would be displeased indeed. His face turning red at the faux pas, he attempted to rectify his error by reciting, “Apologies, where are my manners? Reginald. Please to make your acquaintance.”

“Alexa de’Crux, sir,” The dark-skinned girl replied, “The honor is mine. I trust you find the day well, sir.”

As he returned to his seat, Reginald nodded cheerfully, “Quite well, thank you. Would you care to join me?”

“Thank you, sir,” Alexa responded, though after taking her seat, she held a stiff posture.

Reginald was unsure what to make of the patron. He had never seen her before, but that was less than surprising considering that he had only been visiting the Terrace during his off hours from Saikamon for less than a week. Fortunately, she was the one who first brokered conversation.

“This is a lovely home.”

“Isn’t it?” Reginald nodded, making a show of admiring the Terrace and its surroundings, “It’s quite impressive that my alliance’s executor even owns something like this.” He tried to correct himself, “Or still owns it for that matter.”

Understanding that Cerra Manor belonged to an Amarrian holder in Minmatar-occupied territory, Alexa responded, “You should be proud. Maintaining and defending such a holding is no easy task.”

Reginald, however, was transfixed on “You should be proud.” The words struck a deep chord as his memory flashed of a Shalee too angry to even tolerate his company the night prior. He became quiet, trying to piece together the right words as a server brought a plate of fruit and a cup of tea to the table.

“Well, as of late, I’m not quite sure what my standing in the alliance is–not sure if I have the right to be proud.”

Just then, a voice boomed from behind him, startling Reginald out of his seat, “No, you don’t!”

Reginald shot around to see none other than Tigerfish Torpedo enter the Terrace from the Manor pathway, heading towards the bar. He walked with a sort of confidence and ownership Reginald didn’t believe he should command at all, a man who had nearly threatened to torture him over a book, a man who horribly mistreated Lady Lianne by all standards of gentility. That’s when Reginald’s fear started to boil over into anger, when machinations started clicking into place.

“I’m surprised to see you here, sir.” Reginald only managed the “sir” as a token of respect.

Alexa shot out of her seat as well, snapping to attention, “Sir!”

Tiger, seemingly more interested in the bar’s contents, didn’t even turn to face Reginald, “Surprised? Why so?”

Glancing over to Alexa, Tiger addressed her directly, “And who might you be?”

Angered by the sheer lack of deference, Reginald started not with a probe but a frontal assault, “Oh you know, infidelity.”

Tiger shrugged off the first barrage, “Infidelity? Explain.”

A true, gentlemanly confrontation was clearly out of the question with this man. It would take another strategy, for which Reginald began adjusting. Two could play at that game.

With Alexa remaining stiffly at attention, Reginald returned to his seat, crossed his arms, and looked at Tiger smugly, “I don’t need to explain myself to you.”

That got Tiger’s attention. “Actually, you do. I’m your superior officer, by rank if by no other virtue and hold a career within the militia that makes yours seem as though it should pass by in the blink of an eye.”

Perfect. Laughing softly, Reginald shot back, “Technically, we’re the same rank, Major.”

Tiger nodded as he picked up a drink from the barman, “I see. You bought your commission. That’s very nice.”

Noticing Alexa’s posture and half-turned to her, Tiger released her with a simple, “At ease, please.”

Reginald tilted his head, undaunted, “Bought? I served in Huola while you were sitting on your hands in Egghelende.”

Tiger responded, the tone of his voice dripping with mockery, “I fought to win back the warzone with the Metropolis campaign that resulted in over four weeks of constant fighting, system by system, before you even sat in a capsule. I will not blow smoke with you. You are a child in the grand scheme.”

Reginald put on a yawn for good measure, “A campaign that ultimately means nothing in the long-run. I served in Bosboger, Huola, Lulm, and Huola again.”

Tiger smiled back, “And I served in the Sani Sabik, as the personal Prathet to Shiras Revan Neferis; the Thrice Illustrious Sovereign of Bloodveil for over 6 years. Your career means dick.”

A gold mine of a response. Reginald forced down a smile. He felt his blood should have curdled at the title, but his mind was coursing with adrenaline. Was this fun? Not quite. No, this was justice. And he was fighting on the side to defend Lady Lianne’s honor. What more cause did the son of a Holder need?

He narrowed his gaze at Tiger, his tongue becoming a dagger, “What Shalee sees in you is beyond comprehension. She deserves far better than a supposedly reformed criminal.”

Tiger attempted to brush off the comments, waving vaguely in Reginald’s direction, “And as you say; your opinion means very little to me.”

Time for another dagger. Reginald cast it with a chuckle, “Whatever you say, Blood King.”

A direct hit. Tiger’s eyes shot back to Reginald. “Is that supposed to anger me?” He asked, his eyes growing cold and devoid of emotion, “If you had any idea of the stuff I’d done in the past, you’d realize that title greatly undermines my actions.”

As the conversation progressed, on the periphery, Reginald had noticed Alexa had been growing less and less comfortable. He was creating an ally, and only by Tiger’s own confessions. This was going splendidly.

Tiger returned his attention to Alexa, “So, again, who might you be, dear?”

Too late, Reginald thought to himself. No one really comes back after declaring they were a Sani Sabik.

“Alexa de’Crux… sir.”

Tiger nodded, either oblivious or undeterred, “Alexa de’Crux? That’s a pretty name. You’re here on business?”

“Yes… sir.”

“Well, I’ll assume you’re here with peaceful intentions?”

Alexa hesitated, “For the moment… sir.”

“For the moment?” Tiger queried, sipping his drink, “Well, I’m all for peaceful co-existence, so whatever we can do to facilitate you, you only need ask. I will, of course, pass on any issues you raise to Shalee.”

“Of course, sir.”

Reginald could feel Tiger attempted a peace offering, “You may of course explore our grounds. It’s quite a stunning spot. I personally suggest you visit the beach and the gardens whilst you conduct your business.”

“Thank you, sir. I will, sir.”

Tiger smiled at Alexa, bowing, “You may call me Tiger.”

“As you wish, sir. Tiger.”

Reginald had been watching the conversation with great amusement. Indeed, he had coughed at Tiger’s attempts at hospitality and then almost broke into outright laughter as the exchange continued. But laughter does not win wars. Wars are won with diligence. And when Tiger offered his first name to Alexa, Reginald nearly shot out of his chair.

His voice harsh, he asked, “A new conquest for the Blood King?”

He felt himself pulling Alexa back out from Tiger’s grasp, though he wasn’t entirely sure if it was necessary to do so. Yet, it paid to be on the safe side when it came to defending a lady’s virtue. He hoped that Alexa wouldn’t hold it against him for being so blunt.

Tiger’s gaze darted back to Reginald, “New conquest? What is your problem, child?”

Ignoring Tiger’s question, Reginald turned to Alexa, “I hope you don’t see him as representative of all of us. Some of us at least make an attempt to act civilized.”

Tiger broke in, “I was being civilized. The only reason I’m not now, is your continued attempts to goad a response from me.”

A correct observation. Credit belonged where credit was due, of course. But merely identifying the mode of warfare was insufficient. One needed also to develop countermeasures.

Reginald rolled his eyes, preparing yet another attack, “Says the man who treats the woman he claims to love like a…,” Reginald paused, no, some attacks went too far, “I won’t insult Shalee by describing the way you treat her.”

Tiger quirked a brow, “Excuse me? You’ve not know her, nor I, long enough to have any say in how I treat her. You know nothing about our relationship.”

A fair defense. Reginald was grasping at straws here and there, but there were universal constants when treating a lady. Relying entirely on upbringing, Reginald responded, ” And from what little I’ve seen, it’s absolutely disgraceful. What kind of man walks up to the woman he claims to love, interrupts a conversation she’s having, and then proclaims for all around to hear ‘dress sexy’?”

Alexa even almost laughed. An unexpected, though excellent measure for effect.

Tiger shook his head “That’s what you’re basing my five year relationship with Shalee on? Well, you’re quite right. That sums it up perfectly.”

Reginald threw another dagger, “I can’t imagine from what lows it must have degraded from.”

“Well, you seem to know everything about us, so why imagine?”

Reginald chuckled, the net closing, “Well, I don’t claim to know everything, I’m still new to the alliance.” He smirked as he stood at the precipice of victory, “But I don’t need to be a seven-year veteran to understand how to properly treat a lady.”

Tiger laughed and tilted his head down at Reginald, “That’s it, isn’t it? You have feelings for Shalee. And it’s ten years.”

Reginald was suddenly disarmed. For all of the calculations and careful crafting to get Tiger to admit to his shameful deeds, he had never expected that assertion. Did he have feelings for Shalee? Was this the whole reason why he was fighting in a battlefield for her honor? The thought lingered longer than he thought comfortable or proper. He found himself losing initiative and suddenly on the defensive in a war he had started.

“A preposterous assumption from a former Sani Sabik,” He tried to mask his emotions with a laugh, though he truly did not know what those emotions were.

“I do tend to make them every now and again. Occasionally I hit the nail right on the head too.”

Reginald grasped at a thread of a lifeline, “Leave it to a Sani Sabik to talk about nails.”

Did they even use nails? What little was known about the Sani Sabik was shrouded in myth–it’s not like they operated in the open. And it had been years since Karsoth had been executed by Empress Jamyl for his crimes, for his support of the Blood Raiders in the Bleak Lands. Reginald hoped that maybe, somehow, they really did use nails.

“Is there some reason I should associate a nail with the Sani?” Reginald’s heart sank as Tiger corrected him, “In the six years I spent there, I don’t think I used one even once.”

Reginald found his position increasingly untenable. Tiger had dealt him two blows he had yet to recover from: one that questioned the honorable nature of the exchange in the first place and one that called into question his knowledge on the subject of the Sani Sabik, and by extension, all knowledge in general. There was still an opening, though, one he could make. It was a debate tactic–no, a tool of rhetoric–he had learned at the Royal Amarr Institute that won no favoritism from professors or peers.

Reginald swallowed his pride and fired, “Well, then, please,” He motioned to Alexa and the servers on the Terrace for rhetorical effect, “Enlighten us with your torture methods, Blood King.”

Perhaps, at the very best, a glancing blow. The idea was to draw attention back to Tiger and refocus the spotlight on his Sani Sabik past. Tiger smiled and glanced from Reginald to Alexa, and back again, “What makes you think I ever tortured anyone?”

Alexa spoke up, “That’s what the Sani Sabik do.”

Tiger glanced in her direction, “Do all Amarrians own slaves?”

The question hit Reginald hard, and as much as he wanted to support Alexa, he found himself mumbling, “Shalee doesn’t. All of In Exile. doesn’t.”

Tiger responded, “But that’s what the stereotype is, right? I mean, I couldn’t possibly be a peaceful ex-Sani could I?”

“But no! Of course not. That’s not what the Sani do!” Tiger looked back at Alexa.

“… They are heretics.” Alexa murmured.

Reginald nodded in agreement, trying to find a better opening.

“They have a different faith, and yes, some are heretic. I became Sani by accident, as it happens. I have never even considered their faith my own.”

Reginald jumped at the chance, “Ignorance of the faith is no defense for blasphemy.”

Tiger replied, “I was tried for my crimes, and executed for my part. Further, I’ve helped fund the Amarrian war by over twenty-two billion isk, and I’m now overseeing the construction of a Cathedral to further embrace the culture. What right do you have to make any assumption based on my past?”

Alexa answered for Reginald, “I have never encountered a Sani Sabik that has truly ‘reformed.’ Sir.”

Tiger made a dramatic gesture, “Well, now you have.”

Reginald held his fingers up, counting one down for each point, “A capsuleer’s execution means nothing. So isk can cover a lifetime of heresy? And the Theology Council ought burn that cathedral to the ground.”

Tiger laughed turning his back to Reginald, “Your opinion means nothing.”

Reginald grinned, “Typical defensive response of a delusional.”

Tiger’s attention refocused, “You seem rather opinionated for a man with hardly any past and just a few months’ service to the militia.”

Alexa, again, entered the fray, “At least his past is beyond reproach. Sir.”

Tiger sucked on his teeth, lips pursed, “You’ve gone too far, Alexa.”

Reginald shot to his feet instinctively, “Is that a threat?”

“Is what a threat?” Tiger asks, looking back to Reginald.

“Do not assume that I am helpless without a weapon in my hand, sir.” Alexa fumed.

Perhaps his poking and prodding had gone too far. He had not intended bloodshed from the onset. He narrowed his gaze onto Tiger, trying to pull the situation back from the brink, “I don’t think Shalee would appreciate your treatment of her esteemed guests.”

Tiger shook his head, “I simply said she’d gone too far. No threat implied. You should stop speaking for other people.”

Enraged, Reginald spat back, “Perhaps you should let me speak for you. It’d limit the amount of absolute nonsense you’ve been spouting.”

“Me? You’re the one that began by goading me with comments about my relationship; nothing that is any of your business at all. Then you called me ‘Blood King,’ suggested my Cathedral be torn down, and accused me of torturing people in polite society. From a man I’ve known all of a week!”

Reginald gave a sly smile, “What can I say? I’m incredibly observant.”

“You’re opinionated, you jump to conclusions, you’re offensive, insulting, and base too much on stereotypes without having any background knowledge with which to form a genuine opinion.”

Before Reginald could make another clever remark, Alexa responded beautifully, “A heretic calls another man ‘offensive.'”

Tiger shot back towards Alexa, “A heretic? I’m not heretic, and if you accuse me of such again, I may have to take issue with you.”

“Go ahead.” Alexa stood her ground.

Tiger shot a look back at Reginald, “That was a threat.”

There would be bloodshed if the path continued. Perhaps it was time to begin drawing the engagement to a close. But how much further could it go? Reginald rolled his eyes, “Unsurprising, coming from a man who, having just met him put me through an interrogation akin to the Inquisition itself.”

“You come her brandishing a fake copy of the Pax and you want to know why I was suspicious of you?”

Reginald demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Lady Lianne–that anyone would question her word was anathema–gritting his teeth, “How dare you say it was fake! Shalee herself called it genuine.”

“It is not genuine. Bring me the copy, and I’ll show you how I know.”

Alexa turned to Reginald, “You have nothing to prove to him.”

Reginald nodded at Alexa’s reassurance, “I know. He’s the one lobbying threats around here, today. Normally we have civilized discussions.”

“He wanted a reason for my interrogation. I gave him one. If you can’t face the truth, then don’t blame me.”

Alexa snorted, “Truth. What would you know of truth, Blood Raider?”

Tiger laughed, “Say what, slave?”

Alexa took an angry step towards Tiger, “I am no slave and you heard me clearly enough.”

Tiger gave her a wry smile, “You’re no slave. I’m no Blood Raider. Even when I was Sani, I wasn’t a Raider. There’s a big difference. I suggest you read your history books.”

“Heresy is heresy. I see no difference.” Alexa responded faithfully.

Finding the situation quickly deteriorating, Reginald tried to reassure Alexa as she reassured him, “You’re better than him, Alexa. No truly reformed Sani Sabik would dispute freedom.” Reginald gave Tiger a sharp glare, “We ought to chalk it up to his natural depravity.”

Tiger laughed, “You’re pathetic. Have to fight all her battles?”

Reginald was starting to lose his own patience, but Alexa was far ahead of him, “If you seek battle, I am right here,” she declared.

Tiger shook his head, “That would do me no favors with Shalee, and hers is the only opinion I actually care for.”

Alexa spat, “Then go, run and hide behind her good name.”

Reginald couldn’t resist another jab, “And yet you reject her declaration that the Pax was genuine? Hypocrite.”

“It is fake!”

Reginald, solidifying his high-ground position, reaffirming control of the battle, stated, “It would seem, as far as the alliance goes, my executor’s word is good enough for me. You seem to want much more than that.”

Tiger shook his head, “If you want to know how I know it’s fake… It’s because I was part of the team that distributed that copy for Revan. I’ve seen it before. Bring me the book, and a blade, and I’ll prove it.”

Reginald also shook his head, “There’s nothing to prove. Though you’ve declared your guilt before all present.”

“I have, and I stand by my statement.”

Reginald offered more accusations dripping with accusatory tones, “How deep does the heresy run in the empire? One that you helped spread? No amount of atonement could possibly make up for so many lost souls.”

Tiger grinned, nodding, “Hey, if you really want ammo… I led an assault fleet once, under the name of the Sani Sabik, and destroyed a CVA tower that was unarmed in Sahtogas. It was about seven years ago, and had women and children on board.”

Reginald swallowed. He had expected Tiger to break down in shame, not demonstrate such callousness. He provided the only words that he could, “What could she possibly see in you?”

Tiger shrugged, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to attend.”

Alexa offered, “She thinks that this ungodly creature is worth saving.”

Reginald crossed his arms, “Indubitably. God bless her soul.”

With that, Tiger picked up his drink from the bar and headed towards the Manor. After making an apology on behalf of Imperial Outlaws, Reginald also parted way with Alexa. It had not gone perfectly. Tiger had not fallen to his knees, begging Shalee for forgiveness like he ought to have done. Furthermore–and perhaps worse–Reginald had essentially lost his temper. Cool calculations had broken down in the heat of the moment. Loyalty. Etiquette. Those had been Reginald’s two guiding beacons and he had come close to snapping them apart.

And then there was Tiger’s assertion, an echo in the back of Reginald’s mind as he walked towards the landing pad.

That’s it, isn’t it? You have feelings for Shalee.”

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