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Familiar faces in an unfamiliar place.

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Herein lies Xyna's Outpost, and her gift to Mizahar's people. It is a magical place full of potential and possibility where all can gather and exchange ideas and commerce.

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The Only Constant Is Change (Autumn)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 13th, 2020, 12:34 am

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13, Winter 519 AV

His steps measured and careful, Baelin entered Xyna's Shrine with quiet reverence. Xyna may not be his goddess, but anything less than deference would be too much of an insult. Xyna literally connected all of Mizahar, opening up possibilities previously unimaginable. She earned her prayers. And then some.

A trickle of water greeted him as he stepped inside. Xyna must like fountains: standing in the center of her chapel stood a star shaped fountain, its cascading water a gentle echo in the opulent room. Stretching beyond the fountain's base lay elaborate mosaics, gold a theme woven into the elaborate designs. And the floors weren't the only things gilded. What could only be Xyna's statue stood within her chapel, ornate and adorned with gold. Steps led down from her feet and stopped at a collection of pillows. A woman―dressed in the light and airy style of those who lived here―knelt on one, head bowed and eyes closed.

Baelin could take a clue. Moving as quietly as he was able―and holding back his grimace as his steps echoed within the chapel―Baelin approached the shrine. Coins lay at Xyna's gilded feet. Mizas, mostly, but other currencies were also in the mix. Baelin added one of his own gold mizas to the pile, and then went to kneel on one of the cushions. He bowed his head, closed his eyes, and pulled in a deep breath.

Xyna, he thought, Thank you for this place. Your gift is beautiful, and its haven welcome. I will do my best to honor it. He remained like that for a long while, his head bowed in deference. Only once he felt an appropriate amount of time had passed, did he lift his chin again.

With the tranquil backdrop of the fountain and the reverent presence of those here to offer their offerings and prayers, Baelin was finding himself beginning to relax. Chapels always seemed to have that effect on him. Just...a place where he could finally breath, comforted by the underlying presence of the divine.

Baelin rose, his prayer finished. But he wasn't ready to leave. Not yet. Baelin quietly stepped away from Xyna’s statue and crossed the chapel to an area of items on display. Like a museum, small objects were laid out for people to look at and appreciate. There were small coins that looked like bone. Glassy feathers. And what Baelin could only guess were coins of all sorts. There were mizas, yes, but also coins that looked like they were made from scrap metal. Others from gold, and still more made of gemstones. Kelski might like these, he found himself thinking.

His slow perusal of the currencies, however, came to an abrupt stop when his gaze reached an unblemished, smooth stone. And for a moment, Baelin couldn’t breathe.

Not possible.

But here it was. A round, black stone that lay innocently enough among the other forms of currency. If Baelin were to touch it, he was sure it’d be cool to the touch. It’d been so long since he’d seen one―never mind touched―but Baelin would be able to recognize an Ashl anywhere. Only…it shouldn’t be anywhere. The Ashl never left the island. They couldn’t leave the island. Baelin didn’t understand…

Gods, he could only think.

Distracted by the stone in front of him, Baelin didn’t immediately recognize the electric feeling for what it was. But as his mind came to terms with the fact that there indeed was an Ashl here in the Outpost, Baelin slowly recognized the sensation. Ghost. He looked up, turning to see if he could spot it.

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The Only Constant Is Change (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on February 1st, 2020, 9:34 pm

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Autumn had spent most of the morning thinking. That wasn’t necessarily anything out of the ordinary. She had more time than most, considering she never slept, so when there was no one around to distract her, this was how she passed time. Recently though, she had been thinking more and more. Even when others were around to keep her company, she found herself retreating, retreating into the safety of nothingness, retreating into herself. But it was her and the things that had happened to her in the past season that made her think more, and the more time she thought of the memories she lost in saving Candace, the more she retreated into herself which only gave her more time to think.

The deeper she was in thought, the more she lost track of what was happening around her until eventually she knew nothing of it. That was why it took Gweneveh several attempts to bring Autumn’s attention back to the here and now. Autumn hadn’t been materialized, but when she looked out from the nothing she inhabited and willed her soul to manifest, she found Gweneveh waiting and watching right where Autumn would be. Every time this happened in the short time since Autumn had introduced herself to her roommate, Autumn was astounded by it, unsure of how Gweneveh could see the unseen. She suspected but wasn’t certain that it was because Gweneveh could do exactly that, see the unseen, not so much ghosts but souls, the intricacies of their personalities and the hidden things and secrets each tried to hide in the darkest places of their being. Gweneveh could read people, and she read Autumn as easily as she had read the book of fairytales Autumn had brought with her from Black Rock to Alavadas to here. Somehow, Gweneveh knew, depending on Autumn’s mood before the ghost disappeared, exactly where she would be. Autumn had been in a contemplative mood, so Gweneveh knew she’d find her by the window.

“Autumn?” It came as a question as Autumn hadn’t quite materialized yet, but as Autumn’s form dawned into being, a smile broke across Gweneveh’s lips, and her eyes brightened. “Autumn, there you are, beautiful. I pure not going to believe where I’ve been all morning.”

“You weren’t here. I know that much. It’s boring when you’re not around.”

Gweneveh laughed. “Please, Autumn. You left before I did today.”

Autumn couldn’t argue that. She had disappeared into herself and her thoughts before Gweneveh was even up today. She had heard Gweneveh say goodbye when she had left and hadn’t bothered to respond. Then, she’d spent all day lost in thought.

Autumn chose to ignore admitting her fault and instead pestered Gweneveh for an answer. “Well, don’t keep me waiting. Where were you?”

“Elsewhere.” Gweneveh could t help the snarky grin that burst across her face at that.

“Stop being a tease.” Autumn’s annoyance was palpable as a sudden, transient chill in the air.

Gweneveh just laughed at it. She felt no threat from her new friend. “I’m being serious. I have no idea where I was, but what I do know is it wasn’t here. It was elsewhere, under a sun set for summer, with warm air, without the cold bite of mountain breezes. I don’t know where I was.” Her smile drew on a conspiratorial quality that Autumn knew most people found they couldn’t say no to. Autumn knew she couldn’t. “But I do know how to get back there.”

Autumn couldn’t deny or hide her interest. “Are you going again?”

“Only if you’re coming with me.”

Autumn couldn’t help the smile that came in response to that.

Gweneveh began stripping down, shedding the many winter layers she had been wearing to protect against the winter of the mountains. “That’s a yes. I need clothes for warmer weather where we’re headed. You can meet me outside.” Her dressed slipped away, and she gave a suggestive wink over her shoulder at the ghost. “Or you can stay and watch. I won’t charge you.”

Realizing she had been ogling her roommate, Autumn blinked away in embarrassment. It took Gweneveh nearly a half a bell to exit through the front door of The Lantern. Her connections stretched farther than Autumn had thought, because Gweneveh was now bathed in silks woven in Kalinor but tailored in the desert. Her flat midriff was bared, and the desert colors only accented her complexion. Autumn imagined Gweneveh intended to find clientele at whatever this other place was.

Autumn had only barely materialized, just enough to create a shimmer in the air, hovering so close to the wall she was missed by anyone not looking for her, but Gweneveh always seemed to have an eye out for Autumn, even in the time before Autumn had introduced herself. It was part of that something Autumn couldn’t explain., the way Gweneveh saw people.

Gesturing to the road toward Ten Ten peak. “The way there is on Ten Ten.”

Autumn gestured in return. “Ladies first.”

“You’re a lady, too.”

Autumn shrugged. “Hardly a living lady.”

“That hardly makes you less of a lady.”

Autumn thought about that, then shrugged and gestured again. “After you. I don’t know where we’re headed.”

As they traversed the mountain top with Gweveneh in the lead, Autumn realized this appearance wasn’t just for the benefit of whoever Gweneveh would meet at this new place but for the sake of everyone she passed along the way as well. Men, and women too, who had seen her much more exposed than this saw her in a new light. Winter’s cold sent goosebumps running across her flesh, and this new sense of exposure and fragility aroused them more. Furthermore, that she was so publicly exposed brought even more excitement. Autumn had learned some of Gweneveh’s watchfulness just by observing Gweneveh with others, and she could see the lust flash in their eyes at each one’s individual recognition of these things. Men with their wives on their arms. Men who had no one but Gweneveh. Women who had sought her advice on how to seduce their men. Women who had sought her for nothing more than the pleasure she could give. All of them saw her and saw her anew. All of them wanted her now more than ever but knew they couldn’t have her, not yet, and that only made their lust run wilder. Gweneveh, Autumn observed, was a master of her art.

And then they were alone on the bridge to Ten Ten, but Gweneveh’s show didn’t stop. Only then did Autumn realize the show hadn’t been for al the people they had passed, though Gweneveh would happily reap those benefits later. It had all been for her, for Autumn. As they neared the center of the bridge, Gweneveh’s pace slowed, her strides and the sway of her hips becoming more inviting.

“Do ghosts feel lust?”

Gweneveh had a way of catching people off guard, of disarming them. Autumn was no exception to this rule and wasn’t prepared for such a question, and it took her several moments to calm herself enough to form a coherent answer. “Not in the way you understand it. It’s not so much a drive of the flesh, though we can find certain people... alluring. But want? And desire? We know those more wholly and completely than any living person could. I think the question you were searching for was ‘Do I watch you?’ I’m pretty sure there’s no one who doesn’t.”

Gweneveh took that as a victory, and the conversation was over. Eventually, the pair made it to their intended destination, a tower that stood apart from the myriad of other buildings in a small park. Doves flew in and out and landed outside. After stepping through the door, Gweneveh invited Autumn in and shut the door behind them.

“Pigeons, Gweneveh?”

“They’re doves,” Gweneveh corrected her.

“If you want me out of your room, all you have to do is ask.”

Our room,” Gweneveh corrected again. “And I’m not trying to get rid of you. Just wait.”

After a half chime, Gweneveh opened the door again, and Autumn was left speechless. Though she couldn’t feel the warmth, she could see it. Gone was the snow that speckled the park as was the park itself. They were truly elsewhere. Excitement quickly overpowered awestruck wonder, and the pair was wandering the Outpost in no time at all. While Gweneveh got caught up in the many things for sale in the bazaar, Autumn found herself caught up in people watching. There were people from all over the world here. Eypherians and Benshira mixed with Inarta and Isur. Even a few, gentler Zith were allowed to wander the market, and male Symenestra offered the silks of Kalinor without the constant watch they would be under in any other city but their own. Another surprise came as she watched an animated group move through, hair highlighted in brilliant colors and eyes dancing with the light of the aurora. Even the Vantha were safe here, the global hunt on their kind lifted. No one dared threaten them with violence.

And then a bigger surprise came. In scanning the faces, she recognized one. Blinking, she materialized in front of him. He started, but as her blue eyes dawned into their full color, recognition lit his face. “Windy!”

She smiled back at the sailor who had got her passage out of Alvadas. “Noah. What are you doing here?”

“We were in port and heard of the dovecote. I came hoping to find someone from Lhavit.”

Autumn smiled knowingly. “Someone specific. She’s here.”

“Gweneveh?”

Autumn nodded and led the way. As soon as Gweneveh saw Noah, her seductions went into play. In the space of a few chimes, Noah was reaching for his coin to see if he had enough to afford her company for even a bell. Gweneveh’s hand caught his, and a shake of her head stopped him.

Autumn caught what her roommate whispered. “I’ve taken today off.” Noah’s face fell at that but brightened at what followed. “What I decide to do with my time is for fun. And for free.”

And in a moment, she was alone again, and people watching could only entertain her so long. She found herself exploring the Outpost again, and her wandering led her to a place more sparsely populated and more heavily reverent. It was a shrine, and as she entered the chapel, she saw several people bent in reverent prayer. One stood and brought what Autumn was sure had to be the last surprise of the day. She recognized him.

It didn’t take her any time to draw his name from her memory. Baelin. He had been a student at the Little Dead Schoolhouse on Black Rock. He had been easy to remember, because he was prone to outbursts of anger if anyone picked on him or poked fun at him for his differences, something children seemed quite adept at doing. It wasn’t that Autumn remembered him because she found him difficult or hateful or bad. She had a soft spot for children, and any who struggled, she kept a close eye on, aiding them unseen from the ether. There were days when Baelin would skip school entirely, and being watchful and motherly as she was, Autumn skipped unknown with him, following him as he climbed trees to get above the fog that constantly lay in the streets of the city so he could do what appeared to be nothing more than watching the skies and the birds that flocked to and from the island. And then, as all boys do, he grew until he was a young man and was no longer bound by the conventions of education. And then, he was gone. A decade ago, he had left Black Rock, half a decade ahead of Maro and Autumn’s departure. Autumn had wished she had done more for him.

Drifting up behind him, Autumn slowed when she felt the familiar yet hostile tingle, the cold unwelcome, that a mark of Eiyon brought to the unliving. He had not been Dira-blessed last hen she had known him. Hesitance was not enough to overpower her mothering nature. He had been one of her children.

Quietly, so as not to disturb him or any of the nearby worshippers, Autumn broke the silence. “Hello, Baelin. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you in class.”
Last edited by Autumn Rose on April 1st, 2020, 8:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Autumn Rose
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The Only Constant Is Change (Autumn)

Postby Baelin Holt on February 16th, 2020, 11:33 pm

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As soon as he saw her, Baelin felt like a boy again. Young and angry, too big for his skin and too dumb to keep up. He was back in the Schoolhouse, one of the ghosts droning about something or other that Baelin couldn’t pay attention to, and he just wanted so desperately to get out of there. Why did he even show up? He shouldn’t. He―

It took Baelin a force of a will to pull out of it. Sucking a deep breath in, he focused on the trickle of water from the fountain. He was in Xyna’s shrine. At the Outpost. Baelin pulled in another deep breath, and then forced a thin smile.

“Autumn,” he breathed. Because it had been a while. Baelin had been so far from Black Rock for so long, that it felt like it may as well have been a whole other world. People from the Schoolhouse seemed like nothing more than a memory anymore, too far from his current reality. But here they were, at this place between worlds, with an Ashl on display and people separated by so much time and distance standing right next to each other.

Baelin pulled in another deep breath and tried for humor. “Did I ever even attend?” And immediately winced. There was a reason he’d stopped trying to make jokes ages ago. What on Mizahar possessed him to try now? He shook his head. Something about seeing Autumn was like being dragged back in time. He didn’t like it. He thought he had all this behind him.

It didn’t help that she looked just as he remembered. She’d been the hot teacher when he was young―albeit a dead one―but… Baelin frowned, squinting as he considered her. He had never realized that she’d been young when she’d died. But now that he looked at Autumn through the lens of an adult, he could see it. She’d died young. Perhaps younger than he was now.

He shook his head. What was she doing here? No, never mind that; why hadn’t she moved on? And shyke, did he now have an obligation to try and help her move on? He did, didn’t he? Petch, he was such a bad Eiyon.

“Why…” he began, then stopped, word trailing off. What was he going to do, ask what horrible thing happened to her to keep her around for so long? Great thinking. That’ll go just swell. Way to really connect. Baelin huffed and tried for something easier instead, “What are you doing here?”

Oh yeah. That was better. Great going, absolutely brilliant work. Eiyon of the petching year. Baelin scratched his hand and shook his head. There’d been people back on the island for this. For talking. And if Autumn Rose hadn’t been swayed by those people yet, then how the petch could he expect to do better. No. No, if she was still here, even after all these years, then whatever was holding her back was something that mere words wouldn’t solve. Especially not Baelin’s words.

He shook his head and sighed. “A long time…” he murmured. A long time since he’d last seen her, yes, but also a long time to still be around. It wasn’t good, he thought, to be left behind for so long.
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The Only Constant Is Change (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on April 4th, 2020, 2:42 pm

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Autumn remembered for a moment, really remembered, back to the days when she had known him and, with a twinge of regret, realized those hadn’t been good or joyful times in his life. Here, she had only been thinking of herself, and her life, or rather death, blended together into one long, rather dull stretch of neither highs nor lows until Maro had come along. It was difficult for her to comprehend fully, but she had the feeling her presence wasn’t exactly welcome. It was an ill reminder.

But then Baelin said something that caught Autumn off guard.

“Did I ever even attend?”

It was a joke, one that he apparently hadn’t thought was very good from the moment it slipped out of his mouth if the look on his face was any indication. To her though, it was a godsend, an indication that perhaps she wasn’t as terrible of a presence as she’d imagined.

She laughed, and for a moment, the reverence of the shrine was broken, replaced by something more wholesome. Nearby, a reverent worshipper glared up at her for breaking the holy ambiance of the chapel. Autumn’s bright blue, dead eyes met the living woman’s defiantly with a smile, and only the crinkling of Autumn’s face as she laughed again broke their eye contact.

Autumn looked back at Baelin and found him watching her. As if he caught her catching him, he shook his head. She couldn’t be sure what thoughts he was trying to shake free, but she wished for a moment she could know, watching him work out what he wanted to say.

“Why?... What are you doing here?”

The looked on his face mimicked the one that had followed his joke. That wasn’t what he had wanted to say. He wasn’t impressed with himself, but Autumn enjoyed the company of a fellow face from the Isle of the Dead. His face, for her, was a reminder of a better time. He could stick his foot in his mouth with every single thing he said, and she would still be glad to have him here. Still, she thought he was actually doing quite well, considering the last Eiyon she had run into had tried to nail her to a wall upon their reintroduction.

The day was young still though.

Baelin sighed. “A long time…”

“A long time,” Autumn agreed. “I suppose I’m doing the same thing everyone else is. I heard of a place beyond places and had to see it for myself. I won’t pretend to understand it fully, but in all of its efforts to connect strangers, somehow it managed to bring me home.”

Her eyes caught the black coin just beyond him. “What? An Ashl?” Her hand reached out and encountered a cold that even ghosts could sense. It was real. “But how? We aren’t on Black Rock.”

Another thought entered her mind, and apprehensively, she looked down at her chest. There, just above the rise of her breasts, in the pendant that hung from her necklace, was the Ashl that been missing since her and Maro’s departure from Black Rock. Hate filled her for the thing it was, tangible in the air with a cold and electric taste on the top of every living tongue that was there but not. In an instant, though, it was gone, because relief had replaced it.

This was it, the end of the thing that had ended her life, the thing she had tried her damnedest to stay behind for and testify against. This was all that was left of his soul, trapped forever, eternal torment, and even that was too good for him. This was it, an end to so many things, but it hadn’t been enough to help her move on. Something vital for that had been missing, and she’d spent the entirety of her death searching for it. Something told her she’d been close to that something with Maro, but now with him gone, she was left with nothing.

Clutching at the bead that contained her favorite memory of Maro, she turned her attention back to Baelin, her smile becoming sadder but also more motherly.

“A very long time.” It was her turn to sigh, a memory of action from life that eased the tension in things. “a decade is a very long time. What did you do with it? Where’d you go?”

A more important question caused her mind to itch, and she had to scratch it. “That mark is new.” She pointed to his right hand. The undead could feel the mark, and Autumn had become familiar with it in Maro’s short lifetime. “You didn’t get that on Black Rock.”

It was a question. Dira didn’t hand out Her mark the way a doting grandmother hands out candy. Something had happened, and she was dying to know what. Baelin was, after all, one of hers, and she prayed that he hadn’t suffered too greatly in procuring it.
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Autumn Rose
Even weightless, I'm a burden.
 
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