Solo [Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Naadiya ponders the mysterious letter left by someone unknown

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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[Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Postby Naadiya on August 3rd, 2022, 4:52 pm

A Letter Unsigned Pt. I
3rd of Summer 522 AV


Naadiya sat on a wooden stool and worked the loom with a heavily cluttered mind. It had been two days now and she still hadn’t opened the envelope that had just been left on Dawn’s counter without anyone noticing who had dropped it off.

First, she had tried to make up simple and “likely” explanations but none of them really fit comfortably enough. Then, she tried to forget the letter, as if not opening it would prevent whatever doubtlessly bad news it held from ever coming to pass.

The reason for her assumption of the contents of the letter not being any good still alluded her.

You assume things you do not know, she told herself. It could just be one of the aunts asking after news… Or Grandmother sending word of a new baby being born into the family…

She knew that the odds of anyone from back home finding out where they should even send such a letter were not optimal, but it was hard to completely let go of the hope. Naadiya could happily do without correspondence from any of her aunts but her grandmother was someone she did truly miss. And Vindriyana.

Her elder sister had always been the one she’d been the closest to, but even she was left in the dark when Naadiya fled the desert.

Would she even write if she knew where to send the letter? For all I know she is still angry I just left…

Naadiya thought back to times she and her sisters would gather around to listen to their grandmother’s stories to listen and imagine her words coming to life. Often the stories were fantastically set in far away lands with creatures difficult to imagine and magic peeking out from every corner. Sometimes, the stories seem to fade into a tone that sounded overly casual or mundane. Her grandmother often snapped back to continue to the story as she’d started, but other times she grew quiet and pensive. Naadiya’s mother had done much the same at times, but neither ever gave any explanation that satisfied even Naadiya’s childlike curiosity. The moments of vagueness were always due to an incoming headache or a bout of fatigue. Always something serious enough to dismiss the current activity and never so serious to warrant others to worry or inquire.

Lost in her thoughts, Naadiya dropped the thread-filled shuttle she had been using and cursed as she bent down to retrieve it. When she sat back up, Naadiya sighed and checked her weave. She’d been working on it since the previous morning and the design was now starting to become somewhat apparent.

In accordance with Dawn’s directives, Naadiya had used no red anywhere in her initial sketch, in fact she used no colors at all. Black lines on off-white paper were all she had at first. Instead of coloring in the different shapes or annotating it with colored thread as she had in the past, Naadiya kept that sketch void of color and used it as a reference while drawing out two more copies as close to the original as she could get. To those, she added color.

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[Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Postby Naadiya on August 3rd, 2022, 5:13 pm

There was one variant where the blooms had cool tones of blue on a pale periwinkle ground while the second boasted yellow petals on a cream colored ground. Now, she worked on the blue while the yellow remained only in her sketch. Naadiya wasn’t even sure if she’d execute the second color way. She’d have to see if Dawn liked them enough to carry them in the store.

Since the Tropical Fever boutique was mainly a clothing store, she wasn’t quite so positive that Dawn would even want to entertain the idea. Still, she had to ask.

Most woven fabric that she sold to Dawn had been woven on one of the more complex looms in the back room or from her own loom which was easily compared to Dawn’s. But carpet weaving was a whole other beast, a different technique and different results. The pile created with a carpet weave was irregular and much longer than a velvet making for an entirely different aesthetic as well as construction.

She was already starting to see how using the isuas was drastically changing the stiffness and weight of the weave compared to the woolen yarns usually used in the practice. If might even be used as a garment fabric is handled properly. Maybe Dawn would end up finding an interesting use for the material.

The technique of hand weaving carpets was something readily passed down amongst the Benshira. She had learned from her grandmother many years ago and practiced now and again, but even so, Naadiya knew she could not hold a candle up to the patterns her grandmother would craft and only dreamed of reaching her speeds.

With a rhythm of looping her threaded shuttle around warp yarns, tying them off and snipping the thread, Naadiya moved along the design filling in patches and moving up the loom’s frame. Though she had aimed to make symmetrical 6-petal blooms, it had become clear such a task was easier said than done. Unable to rely on the more complex loom’s mechanics to help keeping rows uniform, Naadiya’s weave had no two flowers that were exactly alike. Some had been stretched or squished to better fit the area of the rug and others had five or seven petals, deviating from the original six, also done to better fit the pattern or space available. Despite the weave not being entirely finished, it was already looking like there was a wide gap between her execution and the original sketch.

Naadiya wasn’t sure if showing Dawn the original drawing would help to illustrate what Naadiya would aim to achieve until eventually enough practice did make for perfect results, or only serve to call attention to the clear shortcomings of the final product. But even in its irregularity it had some appeal, the way an animal print is beautiful without perfection. Naadiya was leaning towards leaving the sketch out of her pitch, then her eyes landed on the envelope again.

Before Naadiya knew it, her hands motioned for the paper. Her movements weren’t eager but tentative, as if what she held might just bite her as she tried to crack the wax of the seal. Nervous fingertips grazed the parchment where her name was scrawled and for a moment it seemed like all other sounds had been quieted. No birds sang in the forest, no insects chirped, no waves crashed in the distance. All was still. All was silent.

When she’d broken the seal with her fingernails and unfolded the piece of paper that for some reason had taken over her thoughts, all Naadiya received was more questions.

Black ink marked the page with a string of letters she was almost positive she'd never seen before. And even that was assumption, for the characters would be truly be anything, though there was something vaguely familiar about them.

And people don’t send letters with just a design or drawing…. Not often, at least, and never without reason. No, I believe this is a message of some sort, it has to be... But what? And from whom?

The rest of the page was blank.

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[Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Postby Naadiya on August 4th, 2022, 7:55 pm

With a quickly clenching jaw, Naadiya flipped the page over to study its backside but found not a single clue. Unmarred by even an ink stain, the back of the paper was as fruitless as the inside of the envelope had been, it too had been empty and lacking any markings that could be of note. The anticlimax was as curious as it was unsatisfying and Naadiya left the letter on the table before going back to the loom and continuing her progress while trying to keep the strange message out of her mind. Her success was only intermittent.

Though it was easy enough for Naadiya to momentarily forget the letter while she was doing something that required her to use not only her eyes and hands but her mind as well, in the ‘in-between’ moments, the times she sat back to breath and just look at her progress, her thoughts were drawn back to the envelope and what it housed.

That night, Naadiya found herself unable to sleep and after a few bells of laying in bed and staring at the ceiling she slid out of the ivory isuas sheets, only slightly dampened by the byproduct of anxiety.

Clammy feet walked around her bed and into the privy where Naadiya took a dry wash cloth and dabbed it on her forehead, upper lip and neck. She did not usually wake in a sweat and would have considered the possibility of illness if her mind wasn’t still clinging to the odd shapes in the mysterious letter. Sweaty nights had always been a sign of a restless mind for Naadiya.

Her eyes were tired but still eagerly looking for distractions from her thoughts until they landed on the fist-sized, purple velvet pouch that sat to the right of the wash basin and leaned on a candle holder. The aubergine bag had been gifted to her by Talivindra, one of the many recent gifts, and magically produced a sample of some cosmetic or other. She could never guess what she’d pull out of the bag, nor did she always actually find the objects to be the most useful. There were already two tiny containers, one filled with a garish green and the other with an unnatural looking orange to be applied to the eyelids. She was sure that if she paraded around town like that, she’d get quite a few looks from the locals and set then aside.

Reaching into the bag was like dipping your hand in cool water. There was the illusion that something was touching your hand while leaving it free of any trace of moisture or anything else, until your fingers fished out something solid. This time, the bag had gifted her a shell.

A shell?

Looking closer, Naadiya could see the delicate, pale scarlet, clam was worked with a metal hinge and clasp, allowing the user to easily open and close the shell and keep its contents safe. Inside the shell were a few spoonfuls of kohl. Still in its powder form, the cosmetic could be used in a couple of different ways that she had seen others display, but also allowed the user to control how opaque they’d make their makeup.

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[Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Postby Naadiya on August 4th, 2022, 8:31 pm

Morning still had not arrived and the light of her candles could definitely have used a helping hand from the sun, but Naadiya rummaged through the storage beneath her wash basin and grabbed her mother’s old toilette kit. Going down to the kitchen, she also took her recipes notebook with quill and gathered some more candles and lit them before getting to experimenting. While she had seen the cosmetic made before by her mother’s hands, Naadiya could not remember just how the woman had done so.

She was one step ahead already, though. The kohl powder had already been made and refined by the look of the granules.

Now I needed to make it into a paste that I can actually use on skin and without irritation, that will also hold up to sweat without bleeding into the eyes. Memories of the gympie plant encounter still haunted the recesses of her mind, popping up occasionally to say hello. Gods please no more irritants to the eye.

Both index fingers prodded through the toilette kit until she found her mother's water-damaged note. When she found nothing useful, Naadiya experimented.

A single shallow spoonful of the fine black powder was dropped into a bowl and she looked at the little dark mound trying to see if she could reverse engineer the product she so readily used.

Naadiya figured that the dry powder would need some moisture to reach the desired state of an applicable liquid or paste, so a little bit of water was poured in next from the covered jug on the counter. She poured almost annoyingly slow, trying very hard to not over-pour and make a mess.

I can always add more, but I can’t take any out.

When she was satisfied, she put the jug down and started stirring the mix with the spoon she’d already used. Several uncertain strokes into it, she looked at the muddy goop in the bowl and dipped a finger in. Rubbing her finger on the back of the opposite hand, Naadiya brought the sample closer to the candle light to inspect it.

While the composition of the dark powder sometimes varied by origin, it was generally a very dark grey. And while the shades may differ, being lightly tinged with green or blue undertones, making the paste saturated with enough powder generally made for a color that looked black to the human eye.

The mark on her hand looked a drab grey closer to the color of a sun-bleached stone than the black she wanted and the texture was all wrong. It was already starting to clump. Making for a grainy texture and adding more water would surely dull the color even more.

Voicing her thoughts to the animated quill so that it took notes of her failures as much as her successes, she set the bowl aside and grabbed another. Naaduia then put in another spoonful of the powder and made note that she would only be able to test this out a couple more times before she ran out of kohl completely.

Trying to think of what liquid she would use to replace the unsuccessful water, Naadiya scanned the space around her.

The kitchen was fairly organized much to her own surprise. After having lived in the inn where her possessions kept accumulating and her available space diminishing, her new home had been a breath of fresh air. Fresh air and storage space.

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[Tiger Lily Loft] A Letter Unsigned Pt. I

Postby Naadiya on August 4th, 2022, 8:40 pm

Usually any pot or utensil that was not in use, was stashed out of sight. The foodstuff was always kept away from where creepy crawlers could too easily get to. And her pantry was a thing of great beauty to her eyes. Jars, boxes, tins and bottles all very clearly labeled with the artistic script of her enchanted quill.

Perusing her stocks, she pulled out a stout jar of coconut oil, and a slender bottle of sesame oil, quickly discarding any idea of using vinegar in something she planned on putting near her eyes.

No need to tempt the gods…

Her second bowl received a miser’s pour of sesame oil and a third bowl got a tiny dollop of coconut oil as well as some of the dark powder to match the other tests. She’d planned poorly and used the spoons to mix in the oils and so had to get a fresh one every time she went back to the kohl container. The inefficiency of it itched at her side as she vigorously stirred the contents of each bowl until she got two little globs of well mixed paste.

The coconut oil, which she had noticed usually wavered from solid to liquid depending on the heat of the day, had started more solid, but as she cradled the bowl in order to stir, it had melted and now both mixtures looked much the same with the imperceptible difference in hue derived from having one oil be slightly yellower than the other. Naadiya’s eyes, however, could not make out this detail so she assumed most others would not notice it either.

“No easily distinguishable difference in hue between sesame oil and coconut oil tests… but will need to check again in better lighting, and maybe after it has had some time to sit.” The quill trailed along the journal’s page with every word.

Naadiya dipped the tip of her pinky into the bowl with the sesame oil mixture and dragged it along the backside of her palm next to the mark she’d made earlier with her first trial. Already this looked much darker. She had used half the amount of oil as the water she’d tried first with the same amount of powder and the resulting mark had a clear improvement in not just the color but also the texture. Where the first had started to clump like a mud, this one maintained its slick consistency.

Trying the coconut oil version, Naadiya found the color just as opaque but the texture slightly thicker and told the floating quill to make a corresponding note, also specifying how she was unsure of which level of thickness would be best for the desired application but that theoretically the one that would slightly solidify had the better chance of not running into the eyes. Then she voiced another note about how the coconut oil had melted at body temperature so surely the advantage would end up being minimal if not nonexistent.

A glance out the window told her it would still be some time before the sun would really aid her eyes. Naadiya lidded the bowls with small wooden plates and went back to upstairs. She had been able to ward off thoughts of the letter so far, but every step she took to the second level brought her closer to the source of her uncertainty.

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