The kindness of strangers (Nephti)

A discusion of past, present and future

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Considered one of the most mysterious cities in Mizahar, Alvadas is called The City of Illusions. It is the home of Ionu and the notorious Inverted. This city sits on one of the main crossroads through The Region of Kalea.

The kindness of strangers (Nephti)

Postby Sorla on May 2nd, 2017, 5:20 pm

30th Spring 517

Sorla had spent several days cutting and stitching, and at last her new clothes were ready. After so long in tatty travelling clothes, she had been anticipating the feel of the soft, new garments on her skin with a hunger close to lust, but now the clothes were ready she realized that she couldn’t possibly put them on in her current state of grime. There was a pump fountain in the courtyard she had been using to wash every day, waiting for the coast to be clear before hastily stripping and splashing water over her body, but she hadn’t been able to get herself properly clean. She decided to pay a visit to the city bathhouse.

Once her clothes and backpack were safely stowed in a small changing room, with Rikar perched on top to guard them, Sorla walked out into the huge bathing pool. Her breath caught at the beauty of the night-black water that seemed to be strewn with tiny stars. There was something incredibly soothing about the place, and as she sank into the hot water and watched the lights swirling around her, the fragrant scent of some exotic incense drifting through the air, she could feel the tension of the last week in Alvadas melting away. In fact, it was the tension of the last half year. The journey from Wind Reach had been hard, although she had learned to appreciate the pleasures of outdoor living. But before that… she had been forcing herself not to think about her previous life, but now that her mind was no longer occupied by thoughts of survival, and without a needle and thread to focus her meditative energy, she could feel her thoughts being carried by the gentle lapping of the water, drifting inevitably, inexorably back to home. To the gruff voice of her father patiently explaining a new stitch, to the taste of her mother’s hot stew, to her sister’s beaming, hopeful face. At the thought of Torva – sweet, kind, happy, slow Torva – her heart seemed to contract.

She hardly dared imagine where Torva was now. Would she have made it through the winter? Would their parents have been able to do anything to help her? A wave of sadness and guilt poured through her veins and up into her chest, hot and bitter. Her nose burned and her jaw ached from the effort of restraining the tears, but eventually she gave in, letting them stream down her cheeks and into the waiting water. She tried desperately to cling to whatever remained to her of hope to stop herself drowning, but she didn’t even know whether to hope Torva was still alive, or whether it would be kinder to hope her sister had escaped from all the pain at last. She sent a whispered prayer to Priskil. ‘I don’t know what to hope for anymore, but I know that I need hope. All I want is what’s best for Torva. Please, teach me what to hope for. Please.’ There was silence. Still sobbing, but slower now, she forced herself to return to the present. She soaped her wrinkled, pruny skin and scrubbed it hard, as if she could wash away the lingering stain of guilt and homesickness along with the dirt.
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The kindness of strangers (Nephti)

Postby Nephti on May 31st, 2017, 8:48 pm

Nephti loved visiting the baths from time to time: it always added that touch of luxury she missed from when she was young, and the place was always so warm and the smell was always so nice.. incense and perfume and soaps. And there was something magical too, about the water and the stars and this whole place. Soaking back, relaxing, and letting the stars light her way gave her so much peace - a chance to take a break.

And on this particular occasion, it had a really, really practical purpose too. With all the birds that had flocked over the city, there had been droppings everywhere. In this particular case, on her. In her hair. And despite having washed that glob of white out as soon as it had landed (apart from the short moment of disgust and shock of it hitting her), Nephti knew she wouldn't feel clean until she visited the baths and actually soaked it out with soap and water. Which was exactly what she was doing.

The girl lathered the bar of soap in her hands, before running both them and the bar over her hair, smoothing it along from the hairline all the way along the scalp. Once her hair had enough soap, she placed it to the side of the bath, sinking back under the water and massaging along her hair. Tiny circles, a voice echoed in her head, a slave from so long ago. "Along the hair, so you don't tangle it too much." She learned so much from them, all of them, so much more that the schools and the lessons could never teach her. Most importantly, they had shown her how to be kind and strong, even when her world seemed to end. If there was anyone to thank for giving her hope, it was them.

Smiling away the tears, she knew the water would wash them away anyway. Quickly, she rose up out of the water, and reminded herself of the peace in the bathhouse. Small bubbles stretched from the water where she bathed, and her eyes followed them, meeting a girl, only a few years older than herself, sitting there crying. Then scrubbing, after a few words Nephti could hear, and wasn't certain that she would be able to understand anyway.

But she didn't need to understand them in full, because she could tell exactly what the girl was feeling.

Slowly, to avoid being too intrusive, the girl swam over, leaving the soap and bubbles behind. Swimming was hard, she decided, with all her arms - she couldn't just copy someone else. Settling near her, she looked up, trying to catch her gaze.

"Hey," she finally whispered, not wanting to break the moment with noise, "Are you okay? You can talk to me between it, if you need. I can help you, if I can. Or..." She extended her arm, not scared about showing it. The glowing vortex shifted in the light, glowing more blue to match the waters she swam in. "Priskil can give you hope?"

ledgerBath Towel (Rental) - 1SM
Bar Soap (2oz) - 3SM
Public Bath Entry Fee - 1 GM
Total - 1GM 4SM
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The kindness of strangers (Nephti)

Postby Sorla on June 9th, 2017, 10:49 pm

Image
At the sound of the stranger's voice, Sorla looked up in surprise and embarrassment. How long had she been there? Had she seen her crying? Her first thought was that the woman was irritated at the noise she had been making and was going to ask her to be quiet or leave, but as she looked into the calm brown eyes and listened to the soothing words, she realised she had been too quick to assume the worst.

'Yes, I'm okay,' she said, face burning. She did not want to admit weakness to a stranger, even - or especially - if the stranger had already seen her in a vulnerable moment. She longed for someone to talk to, but her pride would not let her accept sympathy easily, and she was ashamed to tell this stranger about the guilt that had scarred her heart. So she did not offer any more information, but smiled what she hoped was a confident smile and then pretended to be very interested in a patch of dirt she had just discovered on her arm.

But then the stranger lifted one of her own arms out of the water, and Sorla could see clearly what she had failed to notice before, when it was distorted and disguised by the rippling, star-studded water. What she had thought was just another of the tiny balls of light floating in the dark liquid was actually a radiant blue vortex marked onto the back of the woman's hand. Sorla gasped. Even before the stranger mentioned Priskil, she had guessed what the glowing emblem might be. There had been many Priskil-worshippers in volcanic Wind Reach, where she was honoured as the goddess of light and fire, and Sorla had seen similar designs on her shrines before. But she was still taken aback to actually be in the presence of someone who had received such a clear sign of favour from the shining goddess. She forced herself to tear her eyes away from the luminous spiral and look into the stranger's face.

'Is that... have you seen her? Have you really been in her presence? Tell me about her,' she almost pleaded, her sadness taking second place now to a burning desire to know more about the goddess she had always worshipped but never even dreamt of meeting. She was in awe of this young stranger who seemed to know so much more than her, to have experienced so much more than Sorla could ever imagine. A tiny spark of hope flared within her at the idea of being closer to Priskil, even if it was only an indirect encounter through the words of this many-armed woman. Despite her tender years, the stranger seemed to have an inner glow that made her seem much more mature than her age should have allowed, and Sorla sensed that her calm strength had not been gained without its own sacrifices. Perhaps, if the woman would share her story with Sorla, the red-haired girl might find the inspiration to overcome her pride and accept the offer of help. For now, she was just eager to find out what it had been like to be in the presence of the goddess.
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The kindness of strangers (Nephti)

Postby Nephti on August 6th, 2017, 6:54 pm

oocNice boxcode!

The woman began to blush, and for a moment, Nephti began to wonder whether she had been too forward. After all, her actions seemed so dismissive, as if she hadn't just been crying, and definitely as if it wasn't a big deal. Nephti prepared to step away, leaning backwards in the water to show that she didn't want to intrude and if the woman wanted to face it alone, she could. But then her movement, with the gnosis marked hand, caught her attention, and she knew she couldn't leave quite yet.

Nephti was used to all sorts of reactions at her mark. Some were unimpressed, others even rude about it, but reactions like the one in front of her came too, Nephti recognising the gasp and how she couldn't tear her eyes from the glowing gift. The girl knew exactly how that felt, too - it took her so long after being marked to get used to it, watching each swirl for a sign that this was a joke, and that Priskil hadn't actually chosen her.

Then came the pleading, asking about it. Nephti's face lit up, glad to have the chance to talk more about her goddess. At the very least, it would distract both of them from the troubles facing them, although she knew this woman had to be going through a lot worse that couldn't just be solved by a simple story.

"I have, I have seen her, and.. been in her presence," she repeated, parroting the words without truly understanding their meaning, "More - Priskil is my friend. I hope I am Priskil's friend, too." With a smile, her mind traced back, picturing the goddess as clearly as she could picture her home. She had been beautiful, so bright and full of light, and at the same time, so real. Everything she had said, every laugh and smile, everything, it hadn't been like a god, but more like a person.

"What do I say? I was alone. Slave. Tired, scared, then she came. She was beautiful. Glowing and beautiful. She sang, in my language. Told me I was wise to have hope and kindness. And she gave me this - this light."

It was a beautiful memory, forever tinted with gold. She could talk about it for hours, but she didn't know whether she should. Clearly, this woman needed some strength. But would she get that from her story?

"She gave me hope. That I not always be slave. And you know, she was right. She gave me strength, and now, I am free. I am free and happy and blessed. You too - she will give you strength you need." Her eyes looked up, full of hope and kindness. "What is wrong?"
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