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Noven tries to prepare some of the orphans before leaving and receives unexpected help from Shai.

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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Noven on December 22nd, 2014, 11:37 pm

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Winter, Day 10, 514AV

Mira sniffed. "I'm n-not c-c-cold..."

Sighing, Nov grabbed one of the small, dark skinned girl's reluctant hands and felt it for himself. It was ice cold. He did the same for Thomas and Loy and got more or less the same results, just with less bravado on both of their parts. Loy's nose was runnier than ever and his threadbare sleeve had grown stiff from constant wiping. All three were less scrawny than they had been last season during the food shortage, but their clothes were laughable in terms of defense against newly arrived Winter.

"Stay in the kitchens today," the cook ordered, his voice thin with weariness. He hadn't slept well since the doctor's disappearance and subsequent termination of his supply of miracle tea. Not well at all. "Keep yourselves busy and don't set anything on fire. I'll see what can be done."

Their relief was palpable as the children agreed to this new set of chores with uncharacteristic eagerness. The kitchens were always warm; it had enough furnaces and grills going to make the atmosphere positively stifling, but that was preferable to the blistering cold outside any day. It also meant it would keep them away from others who had succumbed to sicknesses. Nov didn't like the idea of cooping up so many orphans in a single area if one of them so much as coughed. And these three in particular were in no condition to battle illnesses.

Of course, each of them, including the cook himself, knew that 'seeing what could be done' was code for not involving Jillene in any way, shape, or form. The Isurian proprietress had enough trouble just figuring out how to keep everyone housed, fed, and occasionally paid. There was hardly room on the woman's plate for even more charity work.

Which meant Noven would have to be handling the problem all by himself. Petching figures.

The menu for tonight's dinner included beans, bread, and roasted potatoes. Beans were easy enough, as they just required someone to stir the pot once in a while. Dough for the bread still had to be kneaded and the potatoes needed to be cut. Wasting no time, the cook got to work and began ordering his helpers about.

"Mira, watch over the beans for now. Loy, help me get the bread ready. And Thomas, start peeling the potatoes."

Mira made a face. Loy lit up with excitement. And Thomas groaned out loud. Thomas hated peeling potatoes, but he was handy with a knife and fastest at completing this particular task.

While Mira brought over a stool to stand on and stirred the beans with a wooden spatula, Nov and Loy brought out the flour, oil, and a large bowl with lukewarm water and pre-mixed yeast with sugar and salt to begin making the dough. Thomas sat in his designated potato peeling corner and scowled, shearing peel after peel with impressive speed.

Already accustomed to this task, Loy poured steady, measured amounts of flour as Noven mixed it into the foamy layer of yeast. As more flour accumulated the concoction grew thicker and harder to stir, though the cook found little difficulty in doing so even with his sleep-deprived state. He was, as some might say, a bit overqualified for flour-stirring. Any hired merc of his caliber would be.

Once all of the flour was added, Nov scooped out all of the dough and plonked it onto a wooden table sprinkled with a light layer of flour. "Alright Loy, you know what to do."

The kid nodded confidently, nose somehow no longer running, and took on an air of rarely seen competence as he began kneading the dough. Nov helped him with the initial bit of kneading, using his brute strength to give the boy a good head start. Then he rinsed his hands quickly and threw on his coat before striding towards the door.

"You two cut the potatoes once they're done being peeled. The rest I'll handle when I get back. Remember, don't--"

"--set anything on fire," all three orphans chimed in.

"We know," Mira rolled her eyes.

Grunting, Nov ducked out of the kitchens and shut the back doors behind him. Then he headed toward his own apartment, intent on grabbing a couple of things before coming back to the orphanage, the last thing he expected being a nimble-footed, pale skinned visitor.


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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Shai on January 2nd, 2015, 10:15 pm

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Shai crouched next to a dirty reeking lump of humanity. She was fairly certain the bum was dead, killed by the wintery chill. Soon enough a pickpocket desperate enough would rifle through his stinking pile of rags. To Shai he was no more important than a boulder to hide behind would be. Camoflage. The thief had been watching the activity on the main streets, she’d taken to keeping on the side streets. Usually the rooftops were her first avenues but her boots and mittens were necessary unless she wanted to lose or a toe, or could complete the job rapidly.

She didn’t have a planned mark tonight, it was a relaxing street game. She’d been there for dozens of chimes when a target finally chose the unlucky alleyway. It was a thug, not surprisingly, the spider could guess it was Daggerhand. The area was right and the man wasn’t well armed enough to be a Dragoon.

He stepped past her, he didn’t trail the stench of ale which was unfortunate. The drunk were easy marks. Shai exhaled a steamy breath in the frigid air, just another puff of color mingling with the smoke sliding its back along the broken tiles and molding shingles. Action broke against the snowy blanket marring the mask of white innocence.

Surprise was her allie and she shoved the larger man against the far wall. Pushing his face against the icey bricks. Her warfan pushed up against the soft flesh of his throat, closed it almost resembled a dagger and could work like one in a pinch. Placing her right foot inside the thug’s own she slid open his legs into an intentionally less defensible position. Pressing against his back she mimicked the too often female weakness in the shadowy alleys of Sunberth. “What is the bag, little boy?” She crowed as she tried to push back.

Once this would have been difficult, but now her body and experience facilitated the efficiency of movement and balance to give her the edge. Mugging was rarely a style, but a lady could get bored. The man didn’t answer her though, he grunted and tried to push back. Shai swung forward with all her weight crashing his face against the breaks to give a sickening crunch. A broken nose was her guess though she didn’t care to examine it, “Drop the bag and you go free, no more blood, no more harm.”

He did it, the bag he’d had slung over his shoulder tumbled to the ground. He tried to use it like a surprise and twisted with a right hook at the slender woman. Shai dodged down dropping the ground. Rocking her body forward she grabbed the sack and tumbled back on to her feet. That was where she was strongest anyways; her alacrity.

The thief nodded her hooded head and trotted away down the alley. The man didn’t follow immediately, still missing his hook and blood dripping from his face. Shai made several quick turns and then scuttled up and over one building to end her tracks mysteriously at a dead end.

There in the next alleyway where no footprints in the snow led to her little island of unimpuned power, the thief opened up the bag. Blinking several times in a surprise she withdrew one little bit of knitting, a small child’s sweater. It was coarse and red, but in it is own way magic. It would save a little boy or girl this bitter winter.

Having no children of her own the spider set off towards the orphanages. The few coins she would get some fencing the mittens and sweaters would hardly feed her for a day, but for young ones it would mean a season of warmth. Bag in hand she scampered down the street towards the orphanage in the Sunset Quarters.
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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Noven on January 12th, 2015, 12:35 am

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He jogged all the way to his threadbare apartment in Sunset, not trusting the children to be on their own with access to knives and fires. The exercise was good for warmth, too, and kept his muscles from feeling Winter's sting in full force. Nov could tell the night was colder than usual; each breath turned instantly into puffs of white mist as he wound down the streets. Had he not been running and wearing his coat, the cook was certain his teeth would be chattering by the time he got home.

Unfortunately, there was no reprieve to be found once he returned to his humble abode. The hearth was dead, as usual. Not much else to expect when one lived alone, returning only to sleep and store things, with no family to speak of. And it certainly didn't help that Sunset's walls were about as insulated as his own coat.

Old, cheap, and barely held together. Such was the state of most Sunberthian craftsmanship. Not that Noven overly minded. He was about as picky as a stray dog when it came to quality of living.

The man made quick work of his task. Since he was leaving in two days to accompany Wolf Girl on some important business or other, he had no time to go purchasing things for the children himself. But what Nov did have was money. Loads of it. More than he'd ever owned when Nona had still been alive. Some days he found himself hating the fat stash of mizas, which he'd hidden in Nona's trusty old crock pot. If he had earned this much in the past, they could have went to bed every night with full bellies and woke every morning ready for more. Nona wouldn't have had to work so hard either. She could have lived a life of relative ease. Hell, they could have left the city and she would still be al--

The cook blinked, willing these thoughts away. Chewing on"'what if's" was reserved strictly for after work. He counted out the appropriate amount, stuffed the rest back into the crock pot, and locked the lid of his trunk. It was a tricky business, figuring out how much to give and who exactly to give it to. Offer too much to Jillene all at once and she'd think she was paying him too much. Offer any at all to the children and they'd get into the habit of expecting, on top of thinking he'd gone soft. Tricky, tricky business indeed.

Fortunately, he knew just the person to go to. Mizas retrieved, Nov headed back out, locking the door behind him and picking his pace back up to a steady trot. By the time he got back the children had almost completed their individual jobs. Each was as eager as the next to know what the cook had done while he was away.

That is, until a fourth orphan showed up, dour little face popping up through the doorway to announce the latest news. "There's a woman at the door, Nov," Greta informed in her trademark, matter-of-fact tone.

Noven quirked an eyebrow. A fortnight ago, he might've stood up so fast from his stool he'd knock it over, heart skipping too many beats to count. But enough time had passed to suggest she wasn't coming back. That she never would. Just like all the others.

"What she look like?"

Greta shrugged. "Dunno, pale? Dark hair, on the smallish side, wearin' a cloak. Oh, and oi fink she's got purple eyes. Queerest thing ever."

Strange as it was to say, that actually rang a bell. The man was absolute shyke with names and couldn't dredge one up at that moment if his life depended on it. But he never forgot a face, and it wasn't too long ago when he'd met someone who fit that very description, deep down in the mysterious chasm where Robern's mansion once stood.

With a sigh, Nov decided to put his plans to find Florence on hold and deal with this new visitor first. "Alright, Greta. Lead the way."


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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Shai on February 1st, 2015, 5:54 pm

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The Sunberth stand off continued. Shai stood rigid and still,eyeing the children warily. Inturn they saw a monster, from ghost stories. It wasn’t that the Symenstra disliked children. The bigger issue was she was well aware no one stole as well as an urchin. The thief’s pockets were tightly buttoned.

Orphanages were a specifically human institution as far as Shai knew. There were no abandoned or unwanted children in Kalinor. Each family would gladly welcome any parentless child, especially a relative. Not was only was it a matter of devotion to Viratas to hold family sacred, but children were too precious to leave in a situation like this. Perhaps other races held more respect for lineage, but humans were not one of them.

In a way it was disheartening to see the fear of the Sunberth streets reflect from prematurely wisened eyes. Shai couldn’t help but accept it though, how else would they survive this city? She was not only foreign but monstrous to them, instinct told them to stay back. A few openly hostile, until a child only old enough to toddle, stumbled forward. Shai wasn’t entirely certain the babe didn’t fall and that’s how he came to her. Whether by choice or chance, Shai knelt and caught the boy before he could introduce the floor to his face.

Her muscles still held the memories of another child and she picked up the boy. Rather than screaming he reached for her gem-like eyes forcing the thief to blink to avoid poking. Eventually she knelt and rummaged with her free hand through the sack. Dragging out a little red hat she pulled it down over the boy’s uncovered head.

It gave Shai pause, again why had the thug had these clothes? Their value couldn’t total more than a few gold rimmed mizas, and the trouble of selling them would exceed that. Gently she set the toddler back down to let him stumble as he would. Hoisting the bag back up into her arms she looked down at the other children patiently.
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Shai
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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Noven on February 21st, 2015, 10:59 am

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Snippish as Greta could sometimes be, she was about as reliable as the runts got in Sunset. If their unexpected visitor was someone unsavory or suspicious, the lass would have said as much, no interrogation required. But if anything Greta appeared...calm. Intrigued and perhaps a little bit intimidated, to be sure, but not alarmed. If she had been frightened for any of their lives, she could have come running pell mell.

"You said she was at the door?"

Greta shrugged as she took the lead. The girl liked doing that, being in the lead. Being responsible. Being entrusted and seen as an adult. Nov wondered if it had something to do with the others picking on her all the time.

"She was when I last saw her, but she could have moved. Nuttin' but kids there to watch her."

At this, the cook grew a little worried. What had Greta been thinking, leaving a stranger with a bunch of runts? Had she finally cracked and decided to get them all killed or, worse yet, kidnapped? The incident last Fall was still fresh in everyone's minds. Letting in random folk was a serious broach of security and would not have gone by unpunished.

When they arrived at the front of the orphanage, however, Nov understood. The woman he had met in the chasm and the one who stood before them now were definitely one and the same. Except the lethal vibe he'd gotten upon their first, accidental meeting had changed into something strangely tender. Their pale skinned, purple-eyed visitor had one of the younger toddlers in her arms. She also appeared to have placed a new, red hat over his head. Despite this not being his area of expertise, the cook knew as well as any staffer that no orphans within Sunset owned clothes like that. If they did, he wouldn't have bothered coming back with a secret donation of mizas.

"I think I remember you, miss," Nov blurted in way of greeting. Never one for much tact, he continued, "Back at Robern's old mansion. You were there with One Eye and the others."

He didn't want to say more. There were over a dozen pairs of ears honed specifically for eavesdropping and Weber was not a name any of the runts needed to know. The cook would rather let them play with fire than learn of his connection with the Scars. It was just about the most dangerous sort of knowledge there was these days, given the mounting tensions and violence, on top of the Scars' own increasing activity.

"Don't think we ever formally introduced ourselves, but I'm Noven." The woman had her hands full, so he decided against offering his hand just yet.

"Well, I don't know how else to ask this, so I'll just get right to the point. What's your business here?"


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Noven
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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Shai on March 3rd, 2015, 4:39 pm

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Shai twisted, pivoting on her toes when the voice of a grown man joined the cautious interlude between Spider and orphans. “Ah, I do recall you now.” The widow gave him a once over, it had been a brief thing but she’d watched all of the volunteers hard that day. Zandelia was safe from her sticky fingers but the others had been potential marks. Though it had never come to pass that she had robbed them, Shai was fairly certain she’d misunderstood this man. It was a rare day her estimations were proven wrong, being right was what kept a thief alive.


“I am called Saris.” She replied without hesitation, though curious why he would refer to Zandelia as ‘One-eye’. Perhaps the woman’s claws had been blunted in the years between their meetings, but when they’d first met a comment like that would have elicited at least a black-eye. “While working, I ended up with this bag.” She patted the sack with her palm. “It has nothing worthy of selling but I imagine it will be greatly of value here.”


She rolled her shoulders and rue-full tilt added itself to her gaze. “It is too cold outside.” She hefted the bag high into her arms and tossed it towards Noven, who clearly had more authority here than she. “I do not think there will be enough.” She said only hardly audible, aware that the children were still their audience. There was no doubt in the Spider’s mind that the bag could have clothed all of the child, but she had hoped that maybe one piece for each would have been possible.


For all that she had brought it of her own accord, Shai was trying to stave off the feelings of guilt. Little eyes always hit her where adults never touched. She had mizas to spare for once, it wouldn’t hurt her to buy them clothing. On the other hand… the thief’s fingers twitched. Why had the thug had the bag to begin with? Was there more? To what purpose would thugs stockpile children’s clothing? She could easily take another shipment or directly attack the source or store and return here. Clicking her claws together as she thought. The epiphany struck suddenly. Even could she locate any of those marks, giving them to the orphans would only make them targets. It would have to be another way if she were to help.

“Noven.” She called, her voice returned to confidence, “Do you work here? How many children live in this building?” The orphanage had never taken her interest in her seasons in Sunberth for multiple reasons. On intention she avoided it knowing the children were her most obvious weakness and could easily sway her from a course of action. Also incidentally, they simply had nothing worth taking so a thief had no call to visit them.
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Shai
Alone in the dark.
 
Posts: 487
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The Gift of Clothes

Postby Noven on March 10th, 2015, 10:49 pm

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As Saris explained herself, Noven watched her pat the sack in her possession with no small amount of suspicion. His very first impression of her on that day they'd all convened around the chasm was that she was dangerous. That she was now holding a sack of mystery items she had somehow acquired whilst "working" did little to diminish that impression. He had few doubts that the kind of work the woman did was about as honest as anyone else's in this gods forsaken city.

The sack came flying at his head and Nov caught it barely in time. It was too light to be food, mizas, or refuse...what could it...

As he slowly opened the sack and a gaggle of orphans crowded around him to get a peek of what the strange lady had brought for them, the cook finally understood Saris's comment concerning the cold. The bag was filled with clothes. Children's clothes, to be exact. This was almost as unnerving to realize as it was relieving. On one hand, they would be able to keep more of the children warm this season. On the other, he seriously had to wonder where this woman found a sack of clothes made just for children lying around out. Or whom she had pilfered it from, as a more realistic possibility.

Regardless, Nov wasn't one to question a much needed bit of charity. He'd dealt with stolen goods before. If anyone came here asking questions or looking for trouble, he'd either send them in the opposite direction or personally toss them out on their asses.

He was still trying to retie the sack and hold it out of the grasp of greedy, curious little hands when Saris called his name. The cook glanced up in confusion as he listened to her seemingly random questions. "Yeah, I do work here. Part of the time anyway."

"He cooks for us!" one of the children blurted.

Nov glared in his direction and the orphan shrunk away, giggling. "Unfortunately, I do. And an ungrateful lot they are for it. As for how many runts we house here..."

Nov hefted the sack on one shoulder, much to the disappointment of the orphans, and thought for a moment. "Too many to count, if you ask me. They come and they go. And it's been a hard Winter...but if I had to guess, I'd say maybe fifty old enough to work and pull their weight around here. The rest are wee babes, or almost ready to strike out on their own."

He stood there and considered the women for a tick. "Why do you ask?"

Saris hadn't struck him as the type of person to do charitable work for free. But she had brought this sack after all, no strings attached. Yet. The cook waited for her reply in no small amount of anxiousness. What exactly did this woman have in mind?


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Noven
Taste my fist
 
Posts: 530
Words: 816414
Joined roleplay: December 16th, 2013, 11:11 pm
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human
Character sheet
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Medals: 2
Featured Thread (1) 2014 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)


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