Flashback [Asli Island] Misery Shared

Where Anais unburdens her heart

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An inland sea created by Ivak's cataclismic fury during the Valterrian, the Suvan Sea is a major trade route and the foremost hub for piracy in Mizahar. [lore]

[Asli Island] Misery Shared

Postby Anais Seawind on July 9th, 2018, 1:22 am

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21st of Spring, 513AV
morning


“So. Want to trade stories? I can tell you a story, Telren,” the woman’s voice was uncharacteristically bleak, far removed from the joyful Svefra the old man had come to know, and Telren wondered what had happened in the few seasons since the Seawind Pod had last visited his isle. Judging from the far off look in the woman’s blue eyes, she would tell him if he simply waited. He could do that; he’d mastered patience back when he’d still had all his teeth.

Sure enough, after a few chimes of silence, the words came tumbling painfully out, and the old man did the only thing he could do in the face such an unburdening: he listened.

Though the sun was warm against her skin, Anais felt nothing but salty breezes and cool night air as she revisited the past. In the silence of thought, she could almost hear the baby’s cries and it was nearly her undoing. Instead of adding her tears to the ones in her mind, she spoke, words falling jagged, uneven into the open air, leaving fresh and bleeding wounds in their wake.

“He was beautiful, y’know? Just perfect, all dusky-skinned and screamin’ so loud,” Anais’ lips trembled in a sad smile. “So eager – didn’t hardly have to wait fer him to come squallin’ out like a summer storm.” The memory was precious and painful, as she recounted the few moments that had felt like an eternity struggling to bring new life into the world. She’d been terrified, of course, praying to Laviku for strength, for courage, for an end to the petchin’ pain. She snorted inelegantly. Laviku. If she’d known then what the result would be, she’d have been slower to invoke the All Father.

But it had been a celebration, of sorts.

In just a few short chimes, he understood where the sadness had come from; Telren had spent years studying people, first at sea and then as they came to him on his island. Some he’d liked more than others. Some he’d wanted to run through with a harpoon. But he’d always appreciated the stories they brought, even ones layered with a pain so deep he couldn’t begin to understand it. Still, his heart wept for the woman before him, young, but already heavy with sorrow.

The whole Pod had moored, dropping anchor at the first real signs of labor. Anais herself had helped secure the bridges and ladders that enabled easy movement from one ship to the next. Before Molly had made her go belowdecks and lie down. “Everyone was there, Telren. My family. Isporo, all the dolphins… It’s a big deal, ey? Welcoming a new life to the Pod. Songs. Food. Dancin’.” Blue eyes bright with unshed tears swiveled to meet the old man’s gaze, as if willing him to understand. There had been excitement in the air that night, and Anais had been the most excited. It was life, and she’d created it; for those few moments, she’d felt invincible. Unbreakable.

Her silence stretched out; in her mind, she saw again the tiniest of toy boats, whittled by her uncle. Coral collected and strung by her mother and her aunt, with sea shells, from the corner beam in her own cabin, ready to amuse and delight the little babe, as soon as his eyes could focus on it.

His eyes.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
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Anais Seawind
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[Asli Island] Misery Shared

Postby Anais Seawind on July 9th, 2018, 1:26 am

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She couldn’t get them out of her mind, so she talked them out to Telren instead. “He had such bright little eyes. When he’d stopped cryin’, and you could see ‘em. Oh, but he was a crier. Wanted you to know he was there, I guess? Thought maybe he’d have had arms like ‘is father, and that was scary, let me tell you. Eypharian. But he came out lookin’ just like me. Smaller. Darker. So much hair. Eyes so big they just about took up his whole face.” Even in sadness, the memory made her smile; her son had been born absolutely perfect, and she’d just known he was going to be the best sailor, the best fisherman, the best everything on the Suvan Sea.

”Children can be a joy,” Telren ventured carefully. It was hard to gauge the mood of a woman trapped in her feelings, but the old man had had years of practice. It seemed to him that Anais was still remembering the good bits. He was sure there was something else coming, but it seemed to him that she wanted what every new mom wanted: someone to share her joy, no matter how fleeting it proved to be. “All the possibility in the world in such a tiny package.”

There. He’d been careful. Still, he never could tell, and he watched Anais carefully to see how she would react.

Anais made a sound that was half laugh and half sob, and her gaze focused sharply on her companion. “Yes. All the possibility. But his eyes were black.”

For a moment, Telren started back at her uncomprehendingly, and then, like Syna’s light, Anais watched the knowledge dawn across the old man’s face.

“No. Connection. To Laviku.” The words were clipped, anger seeping in where sorrow had held sway. “Ma noticed it first. I was too in love, playing with his tiny feet and hands, countin’ fingers an’ toes. Nothin’ wrong with him that I could see. Didn’t understand when ma said how sorry she was.”

Her fists clenched tightly; she still struggled to understand. Why hadn’t Laviku loved her son the way that she had? Instantly and fiercely. Thinking the words didn’t carve them out of her soul; speaking might. “Why? What was wrong with my son – with me? He was just a tiny bit of a thing, impossible not to love him, impossible – “ Small, even teeth clamped down on her lower lip, stemming the tide of words that had begun to tumble out and upward, fast and shrill enough to disturb the seabirds that had landed on the beach behind her.

While the squawking and flapping had settled behind her, Anais stared at Telren’s tropical screen, stared through it to what she knew lay beyond. She could remember clearly the first time she’d been allowed behind it, and her brain seized on the image. Even rows of trees growing crops that her younger self had never even heard of; there’d been beauty there, and a peace not unlike what she found on a calm sea at night. It had been that sense of calm that had driven her to stop at Asli Isle today, on her way to anywhere else. She hadn’t felt that peace since before she’d given birth – Laviku’s waters no longer calmed her, so strong was her hurt and anger at the God.

But it wasn’t fair to Telren to simply show up on his doorstep and unload her problems. The man had been a friend to her family, and to her, and Anais knew she repaid him poorly today for his efforts.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
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Anais Seawind
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[Asli Island] Misery Shared

Postby Anais Seawind on July 9th, 2018, 3:51 am

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Anais closed her eyes, reaching for a composure she didn’t feel; Telren often traded stories with his visitors. It was his payment for the literal fruits of his labor which he nearly always sent off with his guests when they left. More than once as a child, she’d wheedled and pleaded with the man to throw in one more piece of this or that – usually a citrus fruit of some sort. The orange ones were a wonderful, juicy treat on their own, and the yellow ones were wonderful with much of the sea life that featured prominently in most Svefran meals.

The thoughts were helping; Anais felt her jangled nerves calming, though the sorrow remained. When she was sure she could speak again without unleashing her anger or her tears, she opened her eyes and met those of the man sitting across from her.

“My apologies, Telren,” the words sounded formal, stiff, even to her own ears, but there was nothing she could do. If she relaxed her control even a bit, Anais knew the tears and the anguish she’d managed to barricade inside would come rushing out once more. “I didn’t mean to come here and – this,” she gestured at herself helplessly, fidgeting under the old man’s considering gaze.

He’d been very quiet while she’d tried to speak the pain off her soul, and Anais was only just realizing his silence may have been anger at her. Or impatience for her leave. She did not consider that he may have been offering her quiet sympathy – the Anais that would have assumed the best had disappeared after the birth of her child. Left in her place was one who assumed a burden where none was felt, and who took blame upon herself where none was intended. Surely Telren would usher her quickly from his island, friendship strained under the weight of her own presumptive actions.

So the gentle hand on her shoulder took her by surprise, and was almost her undoing.

“We all our have tragedies, Anais. We all have seasons in our lives of joy and of sorrow, of life and of death. The gods know we don't get to choose, but just to live through them with the faith that nothing, good or bad, lasts forever,” a light pat on her shoulder followed the words, and then the comforting weight of Telren’s hand was gone. The man remained, though, seated as he had been with an unreadable expression of his own.

Anais quietly absorbed his words; they held wisdom and, more than that, experience. She wondered what the man had lost to have gained such knowledge. Even in her grief she knew not to ask. A person’s tragedy was their own unless they chose to share it – or simply couldn’t contain it any longer. She would not repay the kindness she’d been shown by asking the man to relive his own pain for her distraction.

They sat in silence, both lost in their own minds for a time, until Anais spoke again, the flow of words calmer but no less passionate than her earlier outburst.

“Telren – why? Why should the gods require so much of us? All my life, I never wondered, never thought about th’fairness of it,” she exhaled a shuddering breath as she realized just how blind her faith had been. “How could a God who is supposed t’love his children ask them to suffer this much?” Absently she rubbed her shoulder, where evidence of Laviku’s favor swirled tempestuously, the waves matching the turmoil she felt inside.

"How can I have faith in that?" The words were a mournful whisper, soft and all but lost on the salt-laden breeze from the ocean at her back.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
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Anais Seawind
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Posts: 120
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[Asli Island] Misery Shared

Postby Anais Seawind on July 30th, 2018, 2:39 am

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Telren had no words for the woman, no magical phrase or knowledge that could begin to ease the heartache she’d laid bare at his feet. He’d heard stories aplenty, and while most were fanciful and amusing, he did hear his share of tragic retellings, as well. In those times, as in this one, the old man’s heart was moved with shared sadness. But sometimes there was healing in the telling, and Telren hoped that might be the case for Anais, as well. Working through the raw grief of losing her child was one thing, and adding the question of faith in as well – the girl would have a tough road ahead of her. Making his decision quickly, on instinct, he pushed himself to his feet and offered a gnarled hand to the stricken young Svefra.

“I can’t tell you what shape or path your faith should take. Sometimes it happens that we find reasons to question our faith. Sometimes the answers we find lead us back, and sometimes they lead us on,” he shook his hand, patient but not unendingly so, as he waited for the girl to place her hand in his and rise. “I have found that when my mind and heart are filled with questions, the best thing to do is put my hands to work.”

Anais looked at the man in confusion; had he been listening? She’d poured her sorrow out, and her hurt and confusion, and he was talking about putting her hands to work? Anais wanted answers. More than that, she wanted to rage against Laviku, against the God she’d been raised to revere above all else, to beat at his waters with the strength of her anger and her grief and rid herself of the pain that squeezed at her heart with every breath she took. But Telren wasn’t the source or her pain, and though his way made no sense to her, the man was a source of freedom that she wasn’t willing to abandon yet. In her Pod, her questions and doubts had earned her nothing but pity and judgement. On Telren’s island, she could at least give voice to the tumult of her feelings.

The reasoning took only ticks, and Anais found herself taking the offered hand, allowing herself to be coaxed up and ushered toward the vegetative screen for the first time in years. Behind it, she knew, she would see the result of Telren’s efforts on the land; grove of trees and rows of smaller plants that the man somehow convinced to grow healthy and strong. It was beautiful, and unique enough to Anais that it further distracted her from her anger though her sorrow remained, a bitter undercurrent flowing just below the surface of her mind as the old man’s voice cut her thoughts apart.

“Ever wonder why I spend my life out here on this island? Alone?” The conversational tone belied the emotion that had suddenly crept into the old man’s eyes. “There is a peace found in the growin’ of things, Svefra, a peace you seafarin’ folks rarely know. Oh, I know, I know,” he held up a hand as though to ward off an argument Anais wasn’t prepared to offer, “I’ve heard all about how its peaceful on the open waters, wind in yer hair, freedom, all that. And I’m not sayin’ its not true. I’m sayin’ sometimes a body needs a different kind of peace, eh?” One bushy eyebrow raised as he studied Anais, awaiting her answer.

“I haven’t had peace on the water since my son was – born,” she replied quietly, unwilling to commit his death to the permanency of her words.

Telren patted her shoulder again, understanding somehow communicated with the gesture. “So try this way,” he nodded toward a grove of small bushes, and set off toward them leaving Anais to follow at her own pace.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
Player
 
Posts: 120
Words: 128665
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
Race: Human, Svefra
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 1
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