In Over Our Heads

A private moment one night while camping…

Maleos: "Ahhh… which belongs first in an aelphin conversation? Gratitude? Or an apology for the embarrassment caused by the actions of a third party'?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "…that would depend on the situation."

Maleos: *nods thoughtfully* "Well then, I'll wing it. Thank you for sticking up for me back there, when we were talking about going underwater."

Yoshirou-Mura: "I wasn't exactly sticking up for you. But… I accept your thanks."

Maleos: *nods* "And I apologize for… on behalf of… no, that's not quite right either…
Darias is an ass. An unrepentant ass and he will probably never learn his lesson. But he's my friend, and believe it or not, he meant well."

Yoshirou-Mura: coldly "Direct insults regarding my abilities do not count as well-meaning in my experience."

Maleos: *pauses, as if deciding how to react to a tiger in the room that hasn't pounced on him yet*

Maleos: "With respect: He was not appraising your abilities. He was afraid of losing his sister."

Yoshirou-Mura: considers "He shows it poorly."

Maleos: *nods repeatedly, closing his eyes for a moment* "Yes. Very poorly. I'm afraid he is quite irrational when it comes to his sister's well-being. I could threaten to throw a pebble at her and he would try to intervene on her behalf."

Yoshirou-Mura: frowns "Which is patently nonsensical, as she could literally destroy him."

Maleos: *tilts head* "As you say. I have only theories, of course. He suffers from a condition called 'machismo' that sometimes afflicts human males. But more than that… you must realize that Aida was not always a great warrior. At one time, we were all children together. And when Darias and I were this big-" *puts hand out* "Aida was this big." *bends knees a little*

Yoshirou-Mura: "As you say."

Maleos: "The fact is, we were all of us free-spirited and hungry to experience life, as children often are. And as the smallest in the group, Aida posed a complication to that natural exuberance. I wouldn't say we resented her, but I will admit that we resented the limitations her presence imposed upon us. We were petty and impatient, as children often are. Throughout this period of our lives, Darias took it upon himself to make sure that Aida was safe, respected, and able to participate."

Yoshirou-Mura: "…."

Maleos: "When I say 'safe,' I mean against the sorts of scrapes and bruises a child might incur while trying to play with the bigger kids. We were never in any actual danger."

Yoshirou-Mura: "As you say."

Maleos: "And that was most of Darias's childhood. The lesson took root, and he can never unlearn it. I'm afraid no matter how powerful she becomes, he will always see her as needing his protection. And that's a shame. But I'm telling you all this because I don't want your quite natural contempt for his rudeness to escalate any faster than it must. However badly he expresses it, however misguided, his reaction comes from a place that is something like nobility."

Yoshirou-Mura: "I will take this into consideration, for now. But should his attitude fail to.. evolve…."

Maleos: "… you will eventually beat some sense into him, yes, I know. I actually admired your restraint this time."

Yoshirou-Mura: "Precisely."

Maleos: *smiles*

Maleos: "There is also the contribution he made to the plan."

Maleos: (Secret motive: this is a test of how well she's picking up human customs! Hee hee!)

Yoshirou-Mura: "Which was to interrupt our sleep, then nearly die three times?"

Maleos: *shakes his head* "I'm talking about specifically the part on the lake shore, when we were discussing how to retrieve the treasure from under the water. He actually contributed something precious to that plan, though I doubt he himself would say so. Can you tell me what it was?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "Ah, yes. During that day, he only nearly got himself killed once."

Maleos: *folds arms and waits*

Maleos: "I'll give you a hint. It's something an aelphin would probably not think of, and certainly not attempt unless forced to do so. But humans do it all the time."

Yoshirou-Mura: "Yes, as I mentioned. He insulted me and was nearly beheaded for his insolence."

Maleos: "Look past the insult. Ignore it. Forget it. Transcend it. Imagine that Darias had not been there. And I had said to Aida 'I could cast Water Breathing on you. Would you rather swim or walk?' What happens next?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "One of those."

Maleos: "Exactly. That was the plan I proposed. I have a habit of thinking out loud when I am with trusted friends, and as a result, I volunteered a plan that was half-baked. Incomplete. Suboptimal. Then Darias began shouting at me, panicked at the thought of some fool mage sending his precious sister into harm's way. And what was the first thing he said to me, long before he got around to insulting you?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "I do not recall."

Maleos: *looks mildly surprised*

Yoshirou-Mura: (noticing) "I tend… not to listen to Darias when possible."

Maleos: *breaks into a silent chuckle and starts to bend over a little bit, trying to keep quiet*

Maleos: "I ah. Apologize for overreacting. But that was funny. No, it was something along the lines of…" *Bad Darias impression* *whispered fake-shout* "HOW'S SHE SUPPOSED TO SEE DOWN THAR!?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "… a problem that would have soon been rectified upon discovery."

Maleos: *head tilts* "Perhaps. But with you standing in proper silence, Saul quietly looking thoughtful, and Aida standing there with that impatient scowlpout on her face waiting for the action to start, which one do you suppose would have spoken up first?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "Aida, once she'd discovered she couldn't see well underwater."

Maleos: *head tilts again* "Now comes the fun part. We get to imagine… the Worst Case Scenario. What if, against all odds, Darias's worst fears had been right. But he had not spoken up at all. Aida dives in, gets out into the deep water, and realizes she can't see more than ten feet in front of her. What happens then?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "We fight."

Maleos: "Exactly. Now which fight do you think you would have preferred our odds in? The two of you together with those spears, your strength and reflexes improved by Saul's magic, and able to see? Or Aida by herself with none of those advantages, and the rest of us on the shoreline?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "Certainly the former. And I do understand the point you are attempting to make. Still, at best, Darias's attempt at… 'improving' the plan was… shoddy and insulting at best."

Maleos: *chuckles* "Indeed it was. And I am sorry for the insult you believe you have suffered. But for my part, I was not insulted. Make no mistake. He was not attempting to improve the plan. He was attempting to squash it. But he attempted this using the one weapon I was best equipped to respond to. The one tool guaranteed to provoke the rest of us into improving the plan: Open. Vocal. Criticism. It cost him mere words. And it caused us to combine our efforts in ways we otherwise might not have, at least not so swiftly." *pauses* "I might add that you did the same thing, albeit in a much more polite fashion, when the best plan I could come up with was for you to go for the vines, and Aida to go for the bones."

Yoshirou-Mura: "Yet you can appreciate the difference between the two situations, can you not?"

Maleos: *smiles and nods* "All I am saying is that criticism, disagreement, discord, can be a powerful motivator. There is a chance that I am the cleverest of our lot. But I am not cleverer than any four of us shouting down the fifth of us. That's the secret power of human rudeness. I lay it before you, to wield or discard as you see fit. But it will happen again. When it does, look to my face. I am not insulted by that man. You certainly should not be."

Yoshirou-Mura: "…As you say."

GM: She does not look convinced.

Maleos: "You don't look convinced."

Yoshirou-Mura: "I am not. But I will… attempt not to debark him."

Maleos: "If I may ask… how would this situation have played out if Darias and I had both been aelphin?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "Had you both been merely polite, it would have played out with planning instead of… heated argument."

Maleos: "No, obviously. I mean…" *strains to find the right words* "…I want to understand your frustration, not merely sympathize with it. If aelph-I had said what I'd said, and aelph-Darias had said and done what Darias had said and done… what would have been the expected outcome?

Yoshirou-Mura: "An aelph would not have said, nor done, what he did. However, had an aelph given me insult, I could have - and would have - challenged him to a duel."

Yoshirou-Mura: "And as the claimant, I would have chosen the manner."

Maleos: (Does Maleos even know what a duel is?)

GM: (duelling used to be legal on Isle)

Maleos: (What used to happen and why/how was it outlawed)

GM: (generally, duels to injury, and that was replaced by more formal trials by the church)

GM: (they were outlawed because undesirable accidental deaths did occur, and sometimes deliberate murder. And the church is supposed to be impartial.)

Maleos: "Ah…" *chuckles softly at the thought of a puzzled Darias being thrashed with a wooden training sword he has no idea how to use* "And what manner would you have chosen?"

Yoshirou-Mura: "My blade. He'd have been beaten quickly and would have been required to apologize formally and pay penance.

Maleos: "Mmm." *nods, frowns* "What if… no. Not gonna say that out loud. I'm not stupid."

GM: … roll me a spot… but using Cha instead of Wis

Maleos: 15

Yoshirou-Mura: Very momentary frown from her before she catches herself

Maleos: *slightly bows head, lowers eyes*

GM: If you didn't have familiarity with aelphin culture, you'd probably have missed it.

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