His stare weighed down on her for a moment, judging her words and the truth behind them before Arden's tense posture faded away. Someone asking. Better than giving her no choice in the matter at all.
"I apologize." He said after some time. It didn't take much to figure he'd probably alarmed her. "...There was another woman that I brought here, only fairly recently. She'd become a host as well, not by choice."
A frown pulled at her features. Just how many of these were there, and how many people ended up with one against their will? Alice was beginning to realize that Shyamaath, while overly forward, was actually being fairly considerate. "Does that...happen often?"
"I'm sorry to...bring up bad things," she said awkwardly, though she genuinely felt guilty for asking about it now. "Here we've only just met, and I'm prying. I just don't know what to think about all this."
"Don't apologize." His accented tone was rough from disuse, but one could tell the man was awkwardly attempting to gentle it. "I don't want anyone else being tricked into giving up their life for something they don't believe in."
The man didn't smile, but his features were at least a little softer now as he watched the woman, struggling to think of something to say. The truth was the best option. He wasn't good with lies, anyway. "...If it were something that could bring good to the world, I wouldn't mind it. The fact that it's Famine makes me think maybe it'd be better if I managed to kill myself before it happens. Don't even think that would work, but who knows?" With a sigh, he leaned back against the wall of the tea house, seeing as he couldn't really feel the cushion anyway. "...What did they offer you?"
He wasn't going to judge her, no matter her decision. Hell, if she was smart, she'd pack up and get out of here before something else tried to claim her, this time without her consent.
"Justice," she answered after a moment of hesitation. Something good...but was it real? What good was there in giving up her life - her soul - if these things weren't actually what everyone said they were? She wanted to know, and know for sure.
Alice needed something more than Look at yourself, you're meant for this.
Justice. A thin, merciless smile actually twitched at Arden's lips for a moment before he tilted his head back, closing his eyes as though to ride out some unknown wave of emotion. "...The worlds could use a bit more of that, I'd wager." Was all he said, and his eyes opened to focus thoughtfully on her once more. Now that was something he could die for, assuming it was all true. That was a noble cause, a righteous one.
"Life is a precious thing. If you aren't ready to give it up, then walk away from here, far away. But..." He looked tired again. "...But if this does turn out to be true, these gods, I think it's something to consider."
Easy to say as a soldier. He'd already accept that he'd die to protect others. "But I don't think you should go into something like that with regrets." Better to embrace it, then spend her remaining time going slightly crazy like he was.
"That's...the thing, I guess. Whether or not it's true." And it was a strange thing, to be asked to die - and not just die, but end. To lose your soul, and any chance at yet another life. Perhaps that had a certain bright side, if it could be called that. "I've never thought I was afraid to die or anything, but it's...it's different, when someone's asking you to."
"And to just end completely." The more she thought about it all, the more twisted up she got, and the conflict was visible. "It's one thing when you know there's something after, but..."
"Most people don't think about it." The marine only said, and maybe from someone older than himself, it might have sounded wise. "But when death is staring you in the face, your perspective changes." At least, his had. That wasn't to say that he knew anything about this woman still, or had any right to assume. Death might have been a constant risk in her life as well.
The silence grew between them for a moment, making her last words seem all the more eerie. But, eventually, "I think that's just it." Arden slowly said, glancing over. "To know that there might have been something after all, and to have to give up that chance. It's a big decision." One that shouldn't be taken lightly.
"It's different in the abstract, when you're only thinking about it..." Oh, Alice had thought about death quite a bit, but not often about dying in this life. She knew full well she'd died at least once before, but the how continued to escape her.
"That's exactly it, giving up everything after." The woman shook her head, shaking away the thoughts. It might be helpful for her to talk about these things, but probably not so much for someone who didn't have a choice.
"Sorry." She laughed self-consciously, without humor. "So, what's up with the suit?"
"It sounds much more noble." Arden agreed quietly. "Never used to think much of an afterlife. Always sort of hoped for one. Made the thought of going into battle a bit easier. But knowing for sure that you'd have to sacrifice it..." And he had to, was being forced to against his will. The realization stung.
Curious, he glanced down at himself, puzzled. "It protects me from the environments of different planets. Regulations temperature, pressure, provides me with oxygen. It's essential that I have it... or, it was." He didn't think he would ever be exploring the stars again.
There had been a time when Alice hadn't given the possiblities of an afterlife a significant amount of thought, either, until being more or less sucked back into a past life. It was...well, complicated, and going into it was probably oversharing. Maybe it was better that Arden didn't know for certain what was being taken away from him. His suit was most likely a much safer subject.
"Oh. So it's a spacesuit." Her surprise was muted, a sort of 'of course it is' tone. Elves, gods, why not a futuristic spaceman?
"A spacesuit," Arden seemed relieved. Some people, like Adi, hadn't even heard of anything like it before, so he was grateful that he didn't have to explain. "I'm a marine. It was my duty to help enforce peace in the neighboring galaxies, as well as our own. Our vessel crash-landed on this planet... I was the only survivor." His tone was a bit heavy, but the marine was composed. He wouldn't dishonor his fellows with tears and grieving.
Not just an astronaut, but an astronaut soldier. But for an interglactic traveler, he looked very...well, normal. Human. It was almost disappointing, in retrospect. As to the revelation that his friends had died, she could do little but offer the obligatory (but still sincere), "I'm sorry."
She allowed a respectful pause before asking, "Where were you from? I mean, originally?"
Alice had a little bit of a nosiness curiosity problem, and she knew it, but she often let it get away from her anyway.
He shook his head mildly at her offered apology, accepting it, but... Well, there was nothing anyone could do. They had all signed up, knowing the risks. It had been a tragedy, but his thoughts and feelings on the whole situation were a confusing jumble. Arden had never been strong with emotional attachments.
"Never really had a home. Lived on colonies out in space, mostly. Ships. Registered with the Marines when I was eighteen, and that was that." Fortunately, he didn't mind sharing. Figuring it would be polite, he would even go so far as to return the question. "What about you?"