Flashback Dying for Something New [Solo/Completed]

Chitsa gets innovative.

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The massive stretch of desert that overwhelms Eyktol. Here, a man's water is worth more than his life, and the burying sands are the unfortunate's mute undertaker.

Dying for Something New [Solo/Completed]

Postby Chitsa on July 9th, 2013, 10:25 pm

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Timestamp: 5th day of Winter, 510AV


The night had come and gone, and the Tatsuwaat Chaktawe people were up and moving about their camp. They woke with the rise of the sun on the horizon to begin the day’s work, for there was plenty of it to go around. When winter fell, the horseclan people of the moving city Endrykas drew close to the Eyktolian border. During their passing, there was often a handful that would travel across the border to trade with the Chaktawe. This was Chitsa’s favorite time of the year, for it gave her an opportunity to sell or trade her art. Unfortunately, she was still young, being only seventeen, and thus overlooked. She knew she would have to practice and perfect her form and style if she ever hoped to get her crafts out into the world. So, when the day broke, Chitsa left her tent to begin making dyes.

The season was still early in its coming. The young Chaktawe woman knew she had more than enough time to prepare for art-making. She was slightly overzealous this morning, however, for she knew her dyes were nearly dried up and some colors she had run out of. Her leather scrap pile had shrunken over the year, and she knew she would have to have more of those eventually, too.

The all but barren desert had little to offer as far as colors to make dyes. In the spring, when her tribe would travel to the Keerdash Grove, they would harvest the leaves to make the red dyes with which they would paint themselves and stain their pelts and feathers. There was currently an abundance in stock as far as Chitsa’s family was concerned. Before leaving her tent, she was careful to grab half a handful of her Keerdash leaves as well as her canteen and a small bowl to slide into her pack.

The sun was bright in the morning sky, and Chitsa was eager to get something done, but she was unsure of where to begin. Her people were all out and about, tending their animals or jobs, families or homes. The bustle was that of a tightknit community, everyone stopping to speak with one another as they came and went, a blurred spew of her native Tawna tongue. The red-skinned girl wove between tents and people, looking around as she went for anything that may catch her eye as inspiration for her next project. She had scribbled the red desert with triangle tents. She had smeared the image of a keerdash tree against a pale background. It seemed like a great idea at the time, pictures that would become beautiful works of art, but after completion, sitting back to look at them, they looked so plain, so lifeless, so boring and unmoving. She wanted to paint something that someone would want. Something with more detail and more meaning. She wanted to paint something that outsiders would look at and feel the desire to travel to see the image in real life. Pictures told stories, but how could she capture something as beautiful as the stories told by the Abaylas on a scrap of leather as canvas? It seemed so complicated, and she was far too impatient when it came to wanting to expand her art skills.

”It comes with time, daughter.” Her mother would say. ”Time and practice.”

The young Chaktawe stopped and watched the horses pass by, led with a rope and handsome boy about her age. He was one of the Wayhali’s sons, a tall boy with long legs like his father and grandfather. His long jet black hair stuck to his sweaty face as he worked.

Perhaps horses would make a pretty picture. Chitsa traced on her hand an imaginary image of a horse, painting with an invisible dye with her fingers, the way she would on a canvas. She considered the detail required to make the mane and tail look like they were really flowing. How could she ever portray the individual strands separate from the rest of the body as it blew in the breeze? Her fingertips were hardly thin enough to create such detail. Perhaps smearing the dye and then going back with her finger nail to scrape some off in thin lines could create the individual strands. Or a thorn, a hair, something from a cactus? But it was so difficult to harvest from cacti without coming out full of stickers. Stickers, stick, yes, maybe a thin stick? One with the tip shaved with a knife to create a point, perhaps. She had time to consider and debate ideas.

The Chaktawe girl made her way out away from the tents of her people where she spotted some brittle bush. She had hoped to get lucky and find some of the familiar disk-like yellow blooms. The closer she got, however, she could tell that the plant had died back significantly. The bush was void of blooms entirely, not even a hint of green on the poor dead thing. Pursing her lips, she made her way up the neighboring sand dune. Bare feet grasped at the sandy hill, webbed-toes keeping the desert dweller from sinking. With a sigh, she looked around before sliding down the opposite side. Little hedgehog cacti littered a small area to her left, also void of blooms. Several other types of bushes scarcely littered the desert, but there was nothing that shown with a color vibrant enough to create a pretty dye. The girl huffed and kicked at a stringy dead weed blowing past on the soft breeze.

Chitsa settled instead with what little cacti she found. Pulling her eating knife from the fold in her feather skirt, she approached one of the short, stumpy plants. Carefully, she squeezed her fingers between long, spiny thorns and held a small, flat arm of the plant in place. With her other hand, she sawed gently away, first cutting the pins off, then severing the limb from the rest of its body. Trimmed of the dangerous points, she squeezed the piece into the palm of her other hand. Cacti held water and other nutrients important to the Chaktawe. She leaned down and sucked her hand dry of the grassy-tasting water before putting it into her pack with her other belongings.

On her way back over the sand dune towards the tribe’s camp, the young woman picked up a small, flat rock and dusted it free of sand and dust. She rubbed the makeshift pestle between her hands, being sure to remove all of the grit from its surface. With a bouncy half-jog, she weaved between tents and returned to her own quarters.

Inside, Chitsa plopped down on a pelt spread out on the floor as a rug. The bison hair was thick and coarse, but perfect for lying on in the winter, for it held heat quite well. It was her favorite spot to sit when crafting, though it always came with the conscious effort not to drop anything on it that may stain it. Long, tan fingers ran through a curly mass of dark brown – almost black – hair. The girl pulled her pack to her side with a sigh and dumped the contents out before her. Out fell her canteen, the chunk of cactus, the Keerdash leaves, the bowl, a couple of small leather scraps, and a handful of feathers she had harvested from late last season. Obsessive over organization, Chitsa placed all of her things in groups before her. The leaves and cactus piece. The bowl, canteen, and rock. The feathers and leather scraps.

Taking the small cactus piece, Chitsa examined it carefully, using the light pouring through the tent entrance to make sure no prickly pieces remained embedded in its skin. She pulled the bowl up into her lap and placed the cactus piece within. Taking her knife once more from her waistband, she cut the palm-sized piece into pieces the size of individual finger segments. Any of the skin that peeled, she carefully placed in the bowl with the other pieces. She worked slowly and diligently, her attention undivided. Setting aside the knife, she took the rock and used it to smash the pieces into even smaller pieces. The bowl was soon full of the mashed pieces.

Standing, she crossed to the firepit on the other side of her family’s tent. With the flint and steel sitting nearby, she attempted to strike a fire. The close vicinity of flames possibly erupting into her hands frightened her, and working the flint and steel was something she had never seemed to be good at. Chitsa’s father must have noticed this, for he knelt beside her, his hair parted and pulled back into a long braid. He held out a large calloused hand, into which she placed the fire-making tools. Effortlessly, he struck sparks into the pit and nursed them into flames for her. With a pat on her head that made her feel like a little kid again, he said, ”You still have much to learn, child.”

She murmured a defeated, ”Thank you, Papa.” for a reply. She stared into the flames briefly, wondering how she would ever be as skilled at cooking and making fires and hunting as her father. Here she was, eighteen years of age, having already come of age, and still could not master the flint and steel to light her own fire.

She shook the idea from her head and hung a small pot of her mother’s over the hot flames. Filling her bowl with twice as much water from her canteen as cactus pieces, she carefully poured the contents into the pot. The girl went back to the bison pelt rug and grabbed her knife. She returned to the pot and stood over it, watching it like a hawk watches its prey. The water refused to bubble, and creases burrowed their way into Chitsa’s forehead.

”Dear, a watched pot never boils.” Her mother’s voice called with a chuckle.

Unmoving, the daughter replied, ”But it must boil regardless of whether or not it is being watched.” With her mother at her side, the two looked nearly identical. It was without a doubt that she had been her mother’s child, for Chitsa was her spitting image.

”What are you dying this time?” Kihira, her mother, asked.

The brow cresting Chitsa’s forehead seemed to only grow increasingly deeper as she pondered. ”I’m not sure,” She answered at last. ”I feel as if I am losing my muse, Mother. I have so many things, so many dreams, and images, I just want to paint them all. I have a vision, but I feel like I fail at executing it. I can see things vividly in my head, but I cannot make them look on a canvas the way I do in my head. This is my passion, and I’m no good at it. How do I learn to make my art look as good as what I see in my head? There is so little I can do with a lack of colors. I could only find cactus today, that’s green. And my Keerdash leaves. I can make brown with bark. The ashes from the fire can make black, and I think if I should mix a little at a time, I can achieve darker colors. But what about blues? And purples, and yellows. Orange. White. There is an endless array of colors, and I can’t make them. I just want to make more. The bushes and plants are not in bloom. I can’t harvest the flowers and make dye and keep them clean and wet for use as the seasons pass.”

Kihira nodded at the babbling of her young one, and wrapped an arm around her as the two watched the pot. She said, ”Well, there is more to art than just the dying of feathers and leather, dear. There are actually paints that can be made. And brushes for painting. I have seen the Drykas people that come to trade with us with them. Some of them are very artistic. Singing, dancing, acting, that is all art. Things can be made with metals and plants. Sand is used to make glass. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, we do not have access to those things here. The desert is our home, Chitsa. We must work with what we have.”

Chitsa groaned. The pot had begun to boil, and with a tug, she raised the pot higher above the flame so that it may simmer on a lower heat. She said, ”But that is my point. I don’t have access to those things, I just have this. How does what other people have benefit me? I have nothing to trade so that I may gain these things. The horse people that come and trade with us, they want things of equal value, and I have nothing to offer with my measly leather scraps. I have nothing to work with when they come. I lose my muse in the winter for lack of materials.” She looked down at her feet and shuffled them gently against the ground.

After a short pause, she continued, ”I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do this, but I have something I wanted to tell you and father.”

”And what might that be, youngling?”

”I have been thinking, and I think I would like to travel with the horse people, the Drykas. When they come this season, I will find someone, and I will make something. I will paint something that they ask of me, in exchange that they allow me to join them and go with them. Their people move, like us. They wander, I have heard. I want to go with them, and maybe that will bring me into different places. Those places may have different plants or bugs, something that I can use so that I can make different colored dyes. Perhaps, even, they will draw closer to other people that I can meet and go with the Drykas to trade with them. I can learn and find other things to use. I love the desert. Eyktol is my home, and I love it and my people. But this is my passion. And, I – well, it isn’t as if I would never see you again. Every winter, I can come home, when the Drykas people come back.”

The words struck Kihira, but they did not upset her. After careful consideration, she replied to her daughter, ”That is very grown-up of you, Chitsa. You have been thinking about this for a long while, I can tell. It seems as if you have carefully planned this journey of yours out. If it is your wish to go, I bid you good luck, and you know where you can find us come winter season. We will always love you, and you will always be one of us, my child. I am proud of you. I pray you consider, though, that they are different than us, and you will not have all of the things that you have here at home while you are gone. We will send you with the essentials. I’m sure your father and I can manage that. We will support your journey to do what you love. So long as you make something for your father and I each season that you return.”

The mother squeezed her child close and kissed the top of her messy black mocha brown head with a smile. The conversation had gone over much smoother than Chitsa had expected. It brought her great joy, and in display of said emotion, she hugged her mother’s waist tightly and laughed, ”I promise to always make you something!”

”Good,” Kihira replied. ”Now tend your dye. Nearly a bell has passed since we have been talking. Your pot should be finished.” With a final squeeze of encouragement, the woman left the tent.

Chitsa was giddy as her mind swam with the idea of an adventure. It would be an entire lifestyle change, and though she was nervous, she had proven once before that she could conquer anything that she put her mind to. Her insecurities faded like sand on the desert gusts.

She stirred the solution in the pot and, peeking inside, she could make out the green hue that the water had taken from the cactus. The talk with her mother had sparked something inside of her, and she came up with a new vision. In her head, she played out a scene of a beautiful stallion with a long mane, like the ones the Drykas rode on. She took her largest scrap of leather, worn soft from bending and folding it constantly, and placed it carefully into the pot, so as not to splash any of the liquid.

As the leather was allowed to set and soak up the green color, she wiped out her bowl, and scooped some ash from the fire pit inside. With just a tiny dab of water from her canteen, she made a thick paste-like solution from the ingredients. Another bell passed, and Chitsa removed the leather from the pot once it had cooled off. She took it outside to air it out. She gave it a good wring and unfolded it. The tan color remained, but stained over it was the green dye from the cactus. The material had taken on a sage-ish green color with tan undertones. The wringing of the material left wavy crinkles of darker green, making it look like tall, billowy grass.

The Chaktawe girl returned to her tent where she sat down with her bowl of ash-paste. With her fingers, she began to dab the outline of a stallion with her fingertips. It looked rough and smeared, giving it a unique aged-look. Using her fingernails, she carefully scraped away any stray paste to keep the image clean and bold against the green, darkening the figure with more paste when needed. The Drykas people had rode in on horses with long manes and tails. This had been her dilemma. How could she portray that look, the look of hair?

She looked down at her own hair and hummed quietly. She took a tuft of her hair and twisted it around her fingers. Pausing, as if to second-guess her method, she smiled. Chitsa dabbed the tuft of hair into the bowl of black paste and wriggled around onto her belly. Careful to hold the rest of her hair out of the painting, she used the hair like a paint brush and made individual strands with thin, wavy lines as the stallion’s mane and tail. Each stroke was purposeful, made to look like they were part of a whole, the whole body of hair, and that not a one was out of place. Using the same method, she gave the stallion ears and squared its hooves off.

The young artist leaned back and observed her work. It was perfect. Well, for a first time experiment with the hair trick, it had turned out quite well, especially after all the fussing she had done that day. This picture looked eerily close to the physique of the horses that the Drykas would ride on. But, at the same time, the picture exhibited much of her own style of art and how she saw the horses. When the picture had fully dried, she carefully folded it and laid it next to her bed. That night, when the sun fell below the horizon and the moon came out to dimly light the night sky, she laid down. She reached over and unfolded it, gazing at it and picking the paste from her hair. Hopefully this was it. Hopefully, just maybe, when the Drykas came, it would catch someone’s eye, and they would want it. And then she would bargain for her tent’s place among theirs, and so would begin this new chapter in her life.
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Chitsa
Tatsuwaat Chaktawe
 
Posts: 7
Words: 10827
Joined roleplay: June 30th, 2013, 7:59 pm
Location: Endrykas
Race: Chaktawe
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