"Look I'm okay with you scapegoating this onto me-"
"But next time warn me first. Do you know how hard it is to turn a weak lie into a strong one with no background info?" -- OohLookShiny
"Okay," Marvin allowed. "But... I still need to know why. Most people react to being pushed under the omnibus with vengeance."
Lady Anthe sat on the table so she could level a glare at the Human Fighter. "I'm a Kobold. The first name I ever owned was 'Thief'. I've been a scapegoat so long and so often that I might as well have horns, give milk, and go 'mna-a-a-a'."
"It's scary that you do that so accurately," said Marvin.
"You're just lucky that my deception check has advantage," she sighed, waving to Wraithvine, who was bringing over a tray of meals and small ale. "Don't do it again, huh? Let me do the lying. It's easier that way."
And since Marvin was on the run from the old gang he'd fallen into... he twiddled with his fingers and found the table more interesting to look at and blushed. "Yes'm."
Then Wraithvine the Elven Wizard slid their tray onto the table, setting out their orders before politely handing the empty tray to a serving wench with a couple of coppers and their thanks. They sat and re-ordered their own setting according to their personal whims. "I take it our Lady Anthe has already reprimanded you for your... improv."
Elves had a knack for making even the most charismatic human feel like an ugly and unwanted stepchild. Marvin tried his utmost to not blush even worse. "...'es," he mumbled.
And now there was a perfect hand on his own. Comforting. "Today, we learn," said Wraithvine. "Tomorrow, we do better."
Legends said that the Elves had raised Humanity up from apes. That they had created civilisation and everything that rose from it. Here, in this inn, with Wraithvine's hand on his own, Marvin could believe that Humanity's first set of Gods were actually Elves with delusions of grandeur. Because he desperately wanted to do better and impress this Elf.
Who is hundreds of years older than me and not interested in sex, Marvin reminded himself. Barely interested in me at all.
"Eat up," advised Lady Anthe. "You need your strength. And more importantly, we need your strength."
Marvin tried to inflate his pride in that. Going from being worthless and the target of the group to a necessary member should have been nicer than he felt, right now. But he couldn't not hear Thessal's wheedling voice whispering, They only want what you can do. They don't care about who you are, not really.
Then Lady Anthe had a hand on his elbow. "I see you, Marvin. You think you are worth dirt. Less than dirt. Take it from me, I know different. Dirt is land. And land is profit. The lords who own it all will say things like 'dirt poor' and 'dirt cheap', but that's to conceal its value to those who work for them. The right kind of dirt can even hide a valuable treasure. You can become that. I believe in you."
And for a moment, just a moment, Marvin sat up a little straighter. Felt just a little prouder. He would treasure that moment. Even when he remembered that there was no real way to tell when Lady Anthe was spouting pure horseshit.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / vectorass]
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