Lorilla sighs contentedly as she settles into her little stump chair with its mossy cushion. I've made a nice little home for myself in just a few weeks' time, she commends herself. No one else will likely notice, except for maybe Naivara, who helped her pick the giant banyan tree amongst whose roots she's built her house. The tree is a short distance into the forest outside Thradnyss--close enough that her friends can find her when they have work, but far enough away that other people won't bother her.
Naivara, Vladislak, Rhogar, and Darrak are back at the Felnuth Tavern tonight, blowing off some steam after an extremely taxing and frustrating few days of dissuading sahuagin from attacking the merchant ships in the port. They'd invited Lorilla to come along--Darrak most insistently--but Lorilla firmly insisted on having some time to herself tonight. She's always enjoyed a quiet evening at home, tending to her plants and meditating and brewing poisons, to a night in a crowded, rowdy tavern.
"Now, let's see," Lorilla murmurs to herself, deep green eyes scanning the scroll in her hands. "Where did I--"
THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
Emphatic pounding on her door startles her such that she drops the scroll. With a barely audible groan, she gets out of her chair to retrieve it, hoping against hope that there's been a mistake and the knocking will cease.
"Lorilla! Please, let me in! I don't know if she's chasing me or not!" Vladislak yelps outside, continuing his frantic pummeling of her door.
A few seconds later, the door gives way under Vladislak's fist as Lorilla opens it, wearing her most exasperated expression. The bard teeters a bit; if he was not significantly taller than the door, he might have tumbled gracelessly into the druid's abode, given his panic and obvious intoxication.
"Who have you angered, Vladislak?" Lorilla inquires.
"Naivara. Again. Please, let me in and I'll explain. She likes you. She won't kill me if I'm in your house," he replies, glancing frequently over his shoulders.
Lorilla steps aside, and Vladislak crouches and shuffles into her home. She closes the door behind him, already wondering if she's made a mistake.
"The ceilings are too low for you to stand. Sit on the floor." At 5'8", Vladislak isn't what most would consider tall, but Lorilla is 3'4" and built her home for her comfort, not to entertain visitors.
"I like what you've done with the place. This is much homier than the room I'm renting at the tavern."
"Thank you. Now, what have you done to Naivara?"
"I just...suggested that we might spend the night together. You know, save some coin on lodgings, maybe get a bottle of mead, some candles--"
"You're a fool," Lorilla interrupts, rolling her eyes. "Naivara has made it more than clear that she's not interested in romance, with you or with anyone else."
"I know. I just.... Every time we work together, she.... I mean, obviously she's beautiful, but it's more than that, y'know? She's witty and fearless and--"
"Deadly when crossed."
"Yeah, but that's part of her charm."
"You're attracted to power."
Vladislak flinches as though she's slapped him. "I mean. I guess. But also...everything else about her."
Lorilla arches an eyebrow. She hadn't expected sincerity from Vladislak, who's used to using his undeniable charm and smooth talking to get what he wants from people. I wonder how much he drank before he propositioned Naivara this time?
"How can I get her to...not threaten to kill me if I suggest we spend more time together?" Vladislak despairs, eyes searching Lorilla's ceiling for answers.
"Don't treat her like everyone else does," Lorilla replies frankly.
"She gets a lot of attention because of the way she looks. I know you've noticed." You were bristling with rage this morning, when some of the city guards commented on Naivara's long legs and lithe figure, Lorilla adds silently. "And she resents it. Deeply."
"Yeah. I've noticed that, too," Vladislak admits. "But when she's so impossibly attractive, how can she expect that--"
"She wants to be treated like a person, not a conquest." Lorilla senses a disturbance in the forest--three individuals approaching, two with heavy steps. Probably Rhogar, Darrak, and Naivara. Not much time left to talk Vladislak into being sensible. "Maybe focus on being her friend first. She's been hurt a lot. She doesn't trust easily. If you're serious about wooing her, you'll have to be patient."
"That's never been my best skill." Vladislak pauses; the footsteps are close enough now that he's noticed them. "I think that's our friends coming. What do I--"
THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!
"Heeeeyyyyyyyyy, Lorilla!" Naivara calls as she pounds on the door, obviously intoxicated. "Rememberrrr those guards who were soooooooooo rude today? We're gonna make them piss themselves again! Come with us!"
Rhogar's large, scaly head pushes through an ivy curtain to peer through Lorilla's window.
"Ah, good. You are here," Rhogar remarks quietly as he sees Vladislak sprawled on Lorilla's dirt floor. Naivara is still pounding on the door and yelling, and they can hear Darrak fruitlessly trying to get her to knock it off. "I convinced her that the guards propositioned her tonight, too, and that your offer was to try and make them back off."
"What?! Really?!" Vladislak exclaims, trying to match Rhogar's volume.
"You owe us a small fortune for her drinks tonight, but play your cards right and come with us, and she might forget her threat to castrate you," Rhogar continues. "Lorilla, I know you wanted a quiet night in, but please come, too. Darrak desperately wants someone sane to talk to."
Lorilla casts a longing glance at her comfortable chair and the scroll she'd planned to read tonight, but then she smiles in spite of herself. It's nice to feel needed.
"I guess I can come. Can't have you all getting into too much trouble," Lorilla agrees, then shouts, "Coming, Naivara! I have to repack my poisoning kit."
Naivara cheers outside the door, and Rhogar laughs as he pulls his head back out of Lorilla's window. Vladislak frantically tries to dust himself off and make himself presentable without the aid of a mirror.
"You look fine," Lorilla tells him, "and anyway, your looks aren't going to help you achieve your goal this time. Stop procrastinating and let's go, if we're doing this."
"All right. Yeah. You're right," the bard nods, although the idea is clearly nerve-wracking; he's never had a non-combat problem that his looks weren't helpful to solve. "And um. Thanks."
Lorilla just opens the door and gestures for him to join their friends outside.
"Come on, then, both of you!" Rhogar encourages. "Adventure awaits!"
Aye, indeed, Lorilla thinks as she follows Vladislak out of her house and immediately feels overwhelmed by her friends' raucous chatter.
"Finally!" Naivara exults.
"Lead the way," Vladislak invites Naivara, doing his best to infuse his manners with Lorilla's advice.
"Heaven help us," Darrak mutters as he falls in step beside Lorilla, following the other three to ambush the hapless guards.
The druid smiles and shakes her head. "Other forces already help us," she remarks as she watches their friends. Perhaps there's hope for Vladislak, after all.