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Julilee

How to Lose Friends and Disillusion People

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Faelenor contacted her late over the hearthstone, asking to meet, so Juli put her armor back on and headed to the garrison inn. He wouldn't've asked if it weren't important. Missing the warm bed she'd climbed out of, Juli stood close to the fire and waited for him to arrive, which he did shortly.

Faelenor was a veteran of many campaigns who had come to Sanctuary along with the rest of the Order of Eversong, including Cerryan, Amalyn, Eiverdein, and Valerel. He varied between his old Ranger skills and newer monk talents he had developed in Pandaria. He kept his pale blonde hair up in a spiky ponytail and regarded her with calm, cool green eyes.

"Commander," he said. "I appreciate the late and rather abrupt request to meet. I am never sure who is doing what at what hours anymore."

"It's fine," she replied. "Is everything all right?"

He shook his head. "It hasn't been for a time... and perhaps this is a long needed conversation..."

"Are you leaving Sanctuary?" she asked simply.

It had been on several occasions now that he had shown discomfort with the direction Sanctuary was going, even continuing to question her decisions after they had been made. Juli had seen this happen before, and too many times to not recognize it now.

He didn't seem surprised, either. "I have not made any decisions as to my status with Sanctuary," he said. "It would be in poor taste of me to leave during such an important time for this organization."

"But you're not happy," she stated.

"There is no other way for me to go about it," he said. "I have been absent for a time, and, well..."

He hesitated, but she didn't interrupt to prompt him. He and Amalyn had been occupied with personal business for some time after joining Sanctuary, which she didn't begrudge them. All Juli asked of her sworn members was what they could give. So long as they believed, they were welcome to stand under Sanctuary's banner.

Faelenor looked away, then back to her. "As of last week I had made my decision to speak with you in regards to my status with Sanctuary. I wanted to know what and how you felt about the possibility of my leaving, and, well... a chance for an honest conversation... not unlike the one we had when we first met."

She nodded, remembering. "As is obvious I think, I could more or less tell that you were dissatisfied. That's fine. Sanctuary isn't for everyone. Of course there would be no animosity if you left."

"I never feared animosity." He gave her a soft smile. "How are you, by the way?"

The segue was a little strange, but she couldn't blame him for wanting to keep any tension in the conversation low. She smiled back, faintly. "I'm doing well, thank you."

Something like a sigh escaped him, and he said, "Is that an honest answer?" Then, with a light laugh, "And Rylie... is she well?"

"She's very resilient for a child. And yes, that's honest," Juli said. She had little enough to complain about currently. This dreadlord business wasn't exactly pleasant, but they seemed to be winning. At least, so long as there didn't prove to be an inexhaustible supply of dreadlords to replace the ones they were defeating.

He nodded, but it seemed like he had heard a response to a different question. "I've come to the conclusion that... I don't know you, Commander. I know who you are, but... That is it."

It took her aback. She couldn't think of how to respond to that. "I... I'm not much more than I appear," she said. If he thought she was much more than the Julilee who led Sanctuary, he was mistaken. That was who she was.

"Perhaps," Faelenor said, "but my line of work has shown that there is always more to a person then appearance... and you... I have never been so distant from someone before. Perhaps that was my own fault... or not." His gaze roamed around the otherwise empty inn.

There was a lot to unpack there, from his casual rejection of her self-characterization, to the suggestion that the distance between them had more to do with personal failure than the simple fact that his business had often take him elsewhere. Maybe it did, though. "I don't make friends easily," she said, after a long pause.

He looked back at her. "Is it by choice?"

Juli would have said it wasn't, but it wasn't as though she were trying to be an outgoing, popular person, either. Making friends was not high on her list of priorities. "I'm not sure there's a difference," she said.

He segued again. "I was very close to Visca," he said, referring to the former leader of the Order of Eversong. "I followed his order down to the last word. I was rebellious but I admired him... That may be because I believed in his cause." He paused, examining her.

At this point, Juli was getting the distinct feeling he was testing her, trying to provoke her. If he wanted to find further reason to justify his leaving, she thought, he could question her as much as he wanted, but she would remain calm and rational. He was clearly already dissatisfied and she wouldn't give him any additional ammunition. Even though what he was doing made her feel crappy... no, she wouldn't be dragged down by it. "I'm always willing to explain my reasoning, and listen to contrasting viewpoints," she said calmly.

"That certainly speaks a lot about you... I will say that." He folded his arms. "However even now I can feel the distance between us. I don't get the sense that you actually care. There are millions of other things to do, and this... is just one of them."

She stared at him, shocked.

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It was stunning, seeing for a moment what she must look like through his eyes, through the eyes of many who had questioned her. All she was trying to do was find the best possible course to resolve the conflict, to stay reasonable and open-minded and above anything that might have hurt her – because her pain was never the most important thing at hand. But apparently she just looked cold and unfeeling and like she didn't even care, despite the fact that she was pushing away her feelings because she wanted to be fair and not let her needs get in the way where they might possibly make things worse or hurt someone else.

"Is that what I look like...?" she said.

"Let me be more clear about this so that you do not misunderstand me," he said. "You care... but it only extends to a certain degree. And that is where the distance lies. Even now when accused of not caring you have shown nothing."

"I... I'm sorry if I disappoint you, Faelenor," she said, slowly, as she continued to try to process this revelation.

"You don't disappoint me," he said. "You couldn't. There has been no chance of emotional investment for me to be disappointed. I care for you not because I know you... but because I have to."

His words were like hammers and chisels, and they finally hit something. Something no one was allowed to touch. She didn't deserve this. She wasn't responsible for what he cared for, and it was manipulative of him to imply such. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at him.

"What is your goal here, Faelenor?" she asked. "To make me feel guilty? To make me open up? I don't feel or act a certain way because someone wants me to."

Faelenor shook his head. "There is no objective here... This isn't about trying to make you feel anything. This is about me trying to know who I fight for... This is about trying to connect with someone who has shown nothing but disconnect."

It didn't feel like he was trying to connect with her. It felt like he was attacking her. She kept her tone even, and found her neutrality again, because she was sure he thought he was only trying to help. "I'm doing the best I can," she said. "If you have particular advice for me, I'll always listen to it. But just telling me that I'm doing it wrong isn't particularly helpful."

"This isn't an evaluation," he replied. "Had you known me on a more personal level you would understand that. If you want an evaluation I would be more than happy to give you one. Frankly though, I can't see this being your best."

It was all Juli could take. She couldn't handle the way he twisted things around to lay responsibility for his actions at her feet, and she especially wouldn't tolerate him utterly dismissing her words again. She had told him she didn't make friends easily. She'd told him she was sorry she disappointed him. And she'd told him she was doing her best, and his only response was basically no you're not, that's not good enough, and what are you going to do to fix it. Well, Juli knew how to deal with that. She knew how to handle it when someone couldn't believe in her. If she wasn't good enough for him, then she didn't need his approval or emotional investment anyway.

She stopped pushing her feelings aside for the sake of fairness, and started keeping them away from him to protect herself.

"I'll take into consideration any advice you choose to give me," she said. "Is there anything else I can help you with right now? It's getting late."

Faelenor saw it; he knew she'd gone unreachable. "No, Commander... Should I need anything else from you, I will schedule an audience with you."

He didn't even know how much that hurt with how Naheal would always fling nobility-related insults at her when he got upset. Juli looked away, not trusting herself to respond, but looked back when he started removing his tabard. Of course that was what he was doing.

He laid it on the hearthstones beside her. "If you feel that my service to Sanctuary is no longer needed... then take this and walk away," he said.

It was the crudest form of manipulation. It was demeaning to even have to respond to it. "I never said that, Faelenor. What do you want from me? What the hell am I supposed to be doing or saying right now?" She threw out a hand in frustration.

His gaze moved down to the tabard, then back up to her. He looked sad. "That is for you to decide."

It was ridiculous, and unfair. He hadn't heard a word she'd said. He refused to believe anything she told him. "I told you I don't know!" she said in pure frustration. "I said I'm doing the best I can. If that's not good enough for you, then leave. You won't be the first."

She hadn't meant to say all that. It was far too revealing. But looking at his face, she realized it didn't matter. He hadn't heard that either.

Faelenor looked at her, then looked away. "I… Of course… Commander…"

Juli didn't watch as he left.

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Some more business to handle turned up after Faelenor left; Juli spoke to Ophinnia about recent developments. It was natural enough to put aside what had happened with Faelenor, at least until everyone had left and she and Kex'ti were alone in their quarters.

"Are you okay?" Kex'ti asked. He knew her too well to have not noticed.

"I'm fine," she said. "Faelenor is leaving Sanctuary, if he hasn't yet." She hung up her sword and shield on the rack, not looking at him.

Kex'ti said, "That is remarkably sudden."

"Not especially. He's been giving me the treatment for weeks."

He put his hand over hers. "Juli? What happened?"

She shook her head. "Nothing to be done now."

"I am sorry that this has happened," he said.

"Me too."

There was a pause, then he said, "I am never prouder to be your partner than when we are of two minds on a subject. But it is difficult sometimes to discern what has caused events if you do not talk to me about what leads to them. If you do not wish to discuss it, now, or later, I will let the issue lie. I love you."

Juli looked at him, at his lined face, and knew he meant every word. "If I said 'thank you', how would you take it?" she asked.

"I would be... Confused," he said, sounding a little like it.

"I'm just... really glad you do."

"Why would you say 'thank you' instead of... Well." He spoke tentatively.

"I love you too," she said. "It's just..."

"Just...?"

She looked at the armor rack. "I guess I just drive people away."

"That isn't true," Kex'ti said. "You are not perfect. But you do not seek to alienate others on a regular basis."

"It doesn't matter, anyway, because I can't be any different." She looked at him. "So thank you for loving me just the way I am."

A melancholy look came over him. "Juli..." he said, and hugged her.

She turned her face up to hers and kissed him, but he put his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her back down to her heels. "Hmm?" she said.

"Do not forget that you are married to an equally imperfect person," he said. "When you are burdened, I am here to share in those trials. I don't question or doubt your ability to handle such things. But you do not push me away. And you do not need to change to help me feel safe by helping you."

Juli put her hand on his chest and took a moment just to appreciate his clear, steady breathing. She didn't have anything to say, but when she looked up at him, she knew that he knew that she understood.

He wrapped his hand around hers on his chest. "Let's get some rest," he said.

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He thougt that he could find it in Sanctuary. His dedication to an organization he didn't believe in was more then he felt he owed Cerryan. Faelenor wanted nothing more then to feel for his commander. In the past few weeks of his return to Sanctuary the only acknowledgement he had recieved from anyone was a simple nod from Julilee and an Oi from Kex'ti. She claimed to be open to advice and he wanted to believe her but she proved him wrong every time. Why should this time be different. No matter how many times he spoke out he was ignored. And if he called our their ignorance he was certain it would cause more trouble then good.

As he walked out of the inn he could feel a weight mounting on his shoulder. Perhaps it was a poor time to leave. Perhaps it would have been best to leave without a word. He knew only how to disappear. Everything told him to turn back. Although he cared little for Julilee or Kex'ti he knew that there were others that would have benefited from him being there. "Nothing can be done about the past." Words spoken to Faelenor the night the dreadlord attack Rylie. *How dare she tell me she has been nothing but open... If she had taken my advice Taozhu would not have lost so much... If they had heeded my advice there would have been less lives at risk.*

He collected what little belongings he had stored in Sanctuary's vaults and made his way out of the garrison. *I protected Rylie like she was my own...risked my life for her...i would do it again in a heart beat but... Not so much as a thank you. This isnt a family... This is a group of blind soldiers. * Upon reaching the barracks to collect his weapons he came across Kex'ti.

"Hoi, Faelenor..."

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“Hoi, Faelenor,” Kex’ti examined Faelenor for a moment before speaking, “I understand there has been a little...dispute.”

.

Faélenor shook his head. "There was no dispute...I've simply learned my place in all of this...Ultimately...My services were not required." He approached the table and watched as Kex’ti poured himself a cup of tea. “ Let us talk about this over tea, can we not?”

Faélenor gave the monk a soft smile as if relieved. "Perhaps..." He took a seat in front of Kex’ti and watched carefully as the tea was poured. “Some cheese?” Faelenor nodded as Kex’ti served each of them a hunk from the wedge. “What do you mean, your services are no longer required?”

Faélenor took the tea in hand and siped slowly from it. For a brief moment he was reminded of his training with Master Lee. He felt a calmness he had all but forgotten about. As he lay his cup down he looked and Kex’ti and replied, "When did you join Sanctuary? Just curious..."

Kex’ti did not hesitate to answer the question. “I believe...it would be a year six months ago. So I have been here a year and a half. Why do you ask?”

Faélenor nodded. "In such a short time you have gotten to know Julilee to the point where you have even tied a bond with her...Do you want to know my feelings for her after being there from the beginning...?" His words expressed a sense of disdain but his tone was melancholy.

Kexti simply sipped his tea as he waited for Faelenor to finish. “She...apologized for disappointing me...one has to have emotional investment in another person to feel disappointed in another person...I have no ties to her...or for that matter to anyone of the ranking officers of Sanctuary...perhaps it is due to my absence...perhaps not...I know nothing of the people I fight with or for...it is a disconnect I do not wish to know...especially out on the battlefield.”

“Yet you would leave, to face those same circumstances elsewhere, rather than try to build those bonds here? That is not an accusation, mind. Merely a statement.” Faelenor opened his mouth to answer but Kex’ti continued. “You have been gone some time. But not so long that the tabard you wear ceases to matter, or your contributions to Sanctuary forgotten.”

Faélenor shook his head not in response to Kex’ti’s question but to his statement. *My contributions!? I protected your ward twice...fought when I could fight for this banner. How much of that is truly unforgotten?* "I suppose one thing I could never tell Julilee...is that I don't believe in the tabard...how could I? My profession has seen me an oathbreaker time and time again....As for who and where my services have been offered to...I am certain that disconnect would not be there..." He wanted to answer differently but he owed no one justification.

Kex’ti looked at Faelenor. “Then why did you join Sanctuary, if you did not believe in the oaths?

That seems to me a rather glaring contradiction.”

Faelenor answered without hesitation. He knew why he joined Sanctuary. “Cerryan Vyel… Cerryan Vyel is my reason...I owed him this…”

Kexti nodded. “You do not believe in our aims, or have not seen the good we have done, and are yet poised to do?” Faelenor opened to speak again but Kex’ti continued. Faelenor’s calm began to fade and irritation began setting in. “Ultimately, if you do not believe in the ideals we espouse, I hope that you can find a place that pays you well for your talents. But know that if you go, you do not do so with hostility, or even without a passage back.”

Faelenor took a brief moment before answering. “Do not get me wrong...I would sooner see my daughter live in a world where Sanctuary's ideals are ever present…” Kexti nodded.

“However...I do not feel that Sanctuary is capable of making that happen… Not as it currently is.”

Kex’ti examined him as he leaned against the table. “Why not?”

Faélenor took another sip of his tea wanting to answer Kex’ti but could not find the words. He stumbled on his own words as he began to speak. "As I told Julilee before...this was not an evaluation but rather a way to understand her...I want to feel that connection to the person I fight for...But...she wont...I..." He sighed, giving up entirely. “I dont know her…”

Kexti smirked slyly at Faelenor. “It is often difficult to know someone when you are gone, and then are not sufficiently exposed to interaction with them. In this I do understand.”

Faelenor looked at Kex’ti finally able to say what he wanted to say. “No...that isn't what I mean...I know who she is...but I don't...really have a reason to care for her. Or...you....”

Kexti looked neither surprised nor upset. “Ah. Well, it is a disappointment to lose you and Amalyn. But I understand. Sanctuary will be here should you require our aid. But, in the meantime, I wish you well in whatever path you find yourself upon.” Kexti helped himself to his feet. It was...nice having you around. A shame it could not have continued onward.”

Faalenor stared at Kex’ti for a moment expecting more from his now former superior. Without thinking he spoke. "That simple, huh?" Catching himself he smiled at Kex’ti. “Very well...As for Amalyn...I do not speak for her...though chances are...she will follow…”

Kex’ti spoke in a neutral tone. “What else is there to say?”

Faelenor nodded accepting his decision. “You're right…”

Kex’ti seemed to force his answer onto Faelenor “Faelenor, I would be happy to have you in Sanctuary, but if you do not believe in the oaths, and do not have a reason to fight for our cause, then why live a lie? I am sure you will continue to serve the Horde in a high capacity. As he made his way to leave he turned back to Faelenor. “There is still a hunt for the dreadlord come Thursday. Your presence would be appreciated. Perhaps, in the process, you may find a reason to stay. ”

Faélenor looked up at Kex’ti and nodded. "I owe it to Sanctuary to continue that fight..."

Kex’ti nodded. “Cerryan, you said, was the purpose you joined? I do not understand what bond of friendship or kinship you share. But I do know Cerryan. And I know that he would never have such a friendship with one whom he did not think the utmost highest of.”

Faelenor shared a bond with Cerryan that was forged through hardships earning him a place in Faelenor’s family. They were the balance of their brother and leader. There were no words to desrcibe it. “I served him loyally until I became Lord General of the Order. Then he served me with the same loyalty.” Kexti nodded at Faelenor “The Order of Eversong, yes?” Faelenor simply nodded in response.

“Sanctuary has many members who have joined with many intentions. Cerryan embodies Sanctuary's commitment to mercy, and redemption. No matter the odds, Cerryan fights for Sanctuary ahead of whatever storms might face it and the Horde.”

Faelenor watched as Kex’ti spoke in reverence of his brother. It irritated Faelenor to hear Kex’ti speak of Cerryan as if they were long time friends.

“Shokkra joined Sanctuary for a semblance of peace, and as a way of seeking her own way in the world. She is loud, brash, and courageous, and loyal. Despite her rough exterior, she too wants nothing less than a world worthy of the dreams she once fought for, dreams which she thinks Sanctuary alone has the power to make real.”

Faelenor nodded and opened up to speak but Kex’ti continued. Faelenor continued to watch, irritation mounding.

“Baern became a member for the pay. But, in the process, has become a valued warrior for peace and justice. No matter what adversity he faces, he stands as the embodiment of Sanctuary's unilateral commitment to peace, with any who are willing to share it.”

“Kriga joined after watching his family get murdered by the Kor'kron. Tsuro, for the prospect of a better tomorrow. Rylie, for the safety that only Sanctuary provides, that only the Horde can grant. Greytooth, Laxelle, Ochenko, Arahe, Atalshi, Breygrah.”

Faelenor spoke abruptly. "I understand..."

“Kirital. Lohd. Jael.”

*Are you going to read me the entire roster?*

“If you seek meaning in your actions, you will find it. If you need a reason to stay, do so because we, to a one, are willing to fight and die to make that brighter tomorrow, that hope that this world need not be beset by war and suffering and darkness. To a one. We fight for that peace. We do so with mercy, in pursuit of justice, heedless of the sacrifice we must endure to make it so. And Julilee most of all. She is incredibly stubborn. She does not often feel as though she need justify herself, believing that the values she espouses are explanatory enough. We are not perfect people, Faelenor. But neither is the world.”

Kex’ti’s passion seemed almost blind if not blinding. Faelenor’s irritation became frustration.

*The world is not perfect...you won't change that..she won't change that so it is up to me to provide for my family. And if it meant taking advantage of a grey situation...then so be it.*

“Hopefully, that end is worth pursuing to you. You said it yourself, that you would like Sanctuary's ideals to create a world for your daughter. Why not have a hand in shaping it?”

Kexti leaned against his staff. For what seemed like the hundredth time Faelenor opened up to speak but Kex’ti interrupted. “I will not stop you if you wish to leave. If you disagree with me, or do not believe in this, then I understand.”

*Can I reply?*

“Enjoy your tea.”

Faélenor sighed before smiling softly at Kex'ti. His frustration well masked by his bravado. He takes the last sip of his tea and places the cup in front of him before standing. "Thank you for the tea...you've helped me make my decision..."

Kexti nodded at Faelenor. “Fare well, friend. Sinu a'manore.”

They bowed to one another, seemingly the only thing they shared in common throughout the conversation was their monk traditions. Kex’ti limped out of the barracks.

Faelenor sighed, his possessions in hand. "That was...Trying..."

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