Closed As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Minnie holes up in Kenabelle Wright's House

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Philomena on February 13th, 2015, 3:56 am

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12th of Winter, 514 AV
Wright Manor
----------------

Her tablet was still there. That had been what had surprised her most.

The manor itself, of course, had little changed. She had been frightened that the bookcase of Kenabelle's journals would be gone, but she had thought so long about the possibility of them being gone, and wished so hard in the hope that they wouldn't that it hardly stirred her to find them in their place, there in Kena's office, lined up neatly. The spines still gleamed, the leather clearly oiled and dusted regularly, still, by the keepers of the house.

And the rest of the house - well, it had always felt so other-world, so much like a place beyond the bounds of things as petty as time and circumstance, that its unchanging nature was of a piece with its identity. She had heard stories when she was a child, silly throwaway tales of water-creatures who would draw sailors into deep caverns filled with jewels and fine foods, and the sailors would come back to find that in the space of their one dinner, fifty years had passed in the outside world. That was the Wright House felt like, and if she were to admit it to herself, it was part of what drew her to stay there, for she needed a place to rest, to find sanctuary.

But it was her little wax tablet that brought tears to her eyes. The last night she had spent in this study, she had had it on the desk, penciling notes into it with her stylus. She could not remember, she realized, what she had written. Something to do with deconstructing a letter in the script of the journals, but nothing she had made any real progress on. And, of course, time DID exist, and the warmth and cool of the intervening time had melded any writing on the tablet back into a regular pool of dry wax, again. But it lay open at just precisely the angle she had left it, her stylus set just above the first line in the way she alway set it when she had to stop for the night. It was... a piece of her, frozen into the place. She had, somehow, in that small way, woven into Wright Manor. It made her feel more real. More welcome, perhaps, too.

She had lowered herself to the ground. The house was chilly, and she did not stoke up the fire, leaving it at the low smolder that the housekeeper kept the empty rooms at, simply to keep the cold from creeping into the book spines. But, to stir it higher would be to send more smoke up the chimney, to signal to the world that someone used the fireplace. So she sat on the flags of it, now, gingerly undoing the toggles of her blouse, then unwrapping the bit of rag she had picked from a rubbish heap.

The bruising looked awful, where the broken shackle had torn the skin, and the laceration itself would, she imagined, have been much better served with a few stitches. But it was, slowly, healing. She felt, on reflection, not so much worse than she had as a child, when she'd been beaten for Lanie's sake in the jam-jar incident. Older, though, there was that, and it still hurt a great deal simply to move about. If she had felt she warranted extra blessing, she would have asked for a feather bed. She had slept in Mara's, several times, and now, she felt, if she could have crawled into Capinsal house, she could have lay abed, there, for a month without opening her eyes. And wool stockings, good stout ones.

But, the flags of the fireplace were warm, at least, and oh, how Qalaya had blessed her! She cleaned the wound gingerly, clumsily, with a bowl and a bit of the rag-corner. She'd set the bowl just by the coals, and the water was hot, which was simultaneously torturous and heavenly on her skin. She wrapped it again, and looked down at herself. The sogginess about her belly was, mostly gone, along with much of the muscle - in truth, she looked much older. Partly, a good long bath and a few days of real cooking, she imagined, would help, but partly, she had spent a long time chained to a floor on poor rations. For a moment, she felt a sort of motherly tenderness for her body, a kind of pity. The poor, clumsy thing had worked so terribly hard. Her skin was still painfully pale, her eyes tired from all the light, as well.

She slowly and painfully crawled, still open-bloused, to the desk, and opened a drawer - a pot of ink, still, and well mixed, and there, yes, a rabbit hair calligrapher's brush. She'd found it before, before, so long before. She slunk weakly back to the flags and slouched against the mantel with a deep exhalation, letting the sharp crackles of pain in her rubs calm, before struggling to open the ink, and dipping the brush in. She still wrote a steady hand, and she murmured softly to see it, "Mother Qalaya, for your gift of the pen and book, again, I thank you, oh mother... oh mother, how deeply I thank you."

The feel of the rabbit hair and the cold, thick ink across her breast bone made her shiver, and she realized, that just a little bit, she wept. It was a nice crying, though if she had considered it, it likely made her look a wreck - she never had been an attractive weeper. She wrote slowly, wishing Mara was still alive. Mara, with her bold, beautiful strokes of ink, who could write with the steady hand of an artist on her. She did her best, writing out the words of her skin's bible: Lanie, first, Then Qalaya, in a gentle cascade of round letters, pregnant with compassion, that began in a rich dark Q over her heart, and fell like a bundle of grapes along the curve beneath her breast...

She wrote only a few simple words, before she grew tired, and closing her eyes, drew the book and the quill into them, letting the ink on her dry in the warm air, as she wrote.

Mother Qalaya,

I am recovering. The books are safe, and I shall have my notes soon. It is so much! To be here. I can imagine, somehow... I feel as if her ghost is here tonight, or Bethany's, or... Hannah's perhaps? I do not know. Perhaps its simply having a fire and your love, and freedom all at once again. We must to work, again, Mother. I have not forgotten...

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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Liminal on February 15th, 2015, 9:18 pm

Again, the light appeared gradually, like the breaking of a dawn, though with no horizon and no sun. It took half a bell before the room was fully bright.

Then, in an instant, Philomena was not alone. The familiar figure was standing in the room, brown hair pushed back over her shoulders, the archaic Master's robes draped around her slim figure. Quietly, she sat down on the floor next to Minnie, crossing her legs carefully.

"Hello, dharopan, sister." The voice, soft as a down comforter, was filled with tenderness. "It's been a long time since last we spoke."

She reached forward and took Minnie's hand -- the one that Qalaya had given her. It was a gesture of acceptance and trust. Here, in this company, one's gnosis marks were not a secret.

"Sister Minnie, Mother has sent me back to you. I'm to retrieve your book, the one you've kept faithfully. And I'm to give you a new task, one that she believes you to be ready for now."

A cloud of seriousness fell over the young woman's face. "Minnie, all is not well. I need your help too, for you're in a place that you can give aid from, in a way that I'm not -- not anymore. It's critical -- dhomaidi critical -- I can't even explain, exactly, how critical it is. But, if you love Mother, you must help."

She looked Minnie square in the eye. "And it starts in Abura."
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Philomena on February 16th, 2015, 1:06 pm

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The coals grew lower, as she wrote, and for a short time, the room grew dimmer - and this was a mercy to her eyes, still so unused to the direct light of fire or sun. Then… very slowly, the light ceased to fade, but instead grew stronger. This light, however, felt different, a light of respite, limpid and unflickering. ‘Good Writer’s Light’ she would have called it if she had not recognized it - and recognizing it, she could call it this with twice the conviction. Her mind perceived it only with the subtlest corners, first, and then it entered her consciousness fully, and her hand shook a moment with the softness of it, and she turned, looked at the room, at the growing fulness of it.

Her mind raced through practical thoughts - were the shutters latched and the curtains pulled? (They were, and in the end, she decided it was not entirely relevant, as Mother Qalaya would after all reveal her light only as much as she wished, more than likely) Was the room tidy? (It was - she was conscientious anyway about disturbing her idol’s study) But these thoughts were scattered, unplanned. She did not think about the state of her blouse, for instance, or think find a comfortable seat for the upcoming guest. She sat in silence, nervous, for a moment, digging a sharp fingernail into her palm to try to gather herself — then very abruptly stopped. This was Mother, and her messengers. They had given her other ways, better ways. She gently set the quill down, and pulled her white reader’s gloves from her hands, then with her natural hand slowly traced the contours of the gnosis mark on the other. It was a slow movement, filled with the intensity of concentration, almost a lover-touch, foreign to her normal relationship to her own body. Slow, slow, she traced it, over and over. Then, when she had calmed, she opened her eyes, and said very softly, “I am ready, mother. Thank you for giving me time.”

And then, her sister had arrived. Minnie smiled, it pulled her drawn face almost into the chubby warmth of her old-self. She put a hand to her hair - it had grown just long enough since it was shorn reach past her ears, just long enough now to begin to find frizzed curls again. She felt the hand wrapped round her marked hand, and heard the foreign word, bathing it in her mind, anointing it with oil and dressing it in fine robes: Dharopan. Dharopan. It was more intimate to her for being a tongue she did not yet know: a secret name, of sorts. And its unfamiliarity left it closer to the sheer physicality of speech. As she waltzed the word round and round her brain pan she could feel the way it had formed in the womb of the doctor’s mouth - the soft plosive of the attenuated d, the caress of tongue on palette of the lightly flipped r, that fell just behind the teeth, before being released in the p. Dharopan - Sister. She wondered how to say mother. How to say home. Almost a blasphemous thought formed: that she could learn this language, and keep it secret, and it could… could… but no. Memory was meant to be a gift, not a vault.

Then her sister (dharopan, dharopan, dharopan) spoke again, and Minnie nodded - the book’s work was complete, and as she listened, she drew up her pen, to close the book. But the movement was interrupted, and she looked up suddenly.

Abura?

To travel!

For Minnie, who had raised herself on the tales of, after all, the world’s greatest mariner, but never left the harbors of Zeltiva, the thought was a bolt of excitement and fear.

“Abura…”

The word came form her mouth as barely a whisper. Abuja! She would have to do so much, she needed so much she did not have. She would need money - she had no money left! And clothes, she couldn’t wear the torn rags of the asylum (and at that point, her mind remembered the open blouse, and the pen was promptly placed back down as her hands distractedly fumbled at buttons). She could not go to a tailor, for Mrs Shears would have poisoned their minds against her, now, of course - the old clothes houses, and yet event hat was dangerous, for so many people in the low city, too, would recognize her. A good walking stick, and a trunk, and a valise, good gloves, and a store of ink, and heavy boots and a woolen for the cold, but OH! Abura, it would be warmer there! Linens… and… a parasol, probably, for her skin would burn so quickly, now, for a time, anyway, but was that worth it? Perhaps she should just let it burn, suffer the peeling, and save the space, there was s o MUCH to bring! And how to get it?

Her eyes darted back and forth as her thoughts barreled along, and in a sense, if slowed and asked honestly, she would be able to understand this for what it was - a defense, at least in part. For at the heart of the matter was a simple, terrible fact: she, little mouse-penned creature, she would have to step onto a ship, and sail, sail, far away, far away. She would leave Zeltiva, leave the library and the Sailor’s Guild, leave the chattery-taverns, and the fence and the garden outside Wright Manor, leave hills where she had been touched by the hand of divinity, leave the alley-ends where she had scavenged fish-bones and squatted under eaves from bone crackers, all of it: all of herself, the trunk of her so root-thrown into the salt-sand-soil of this place. To go… to Abura. A fairy-tale place, a beautiful chimera, where she would be like a piglet in a swan-pond. It was better to fixate on the small. On whether she could still ask Jossy Wright for help to find a ship quietly, on whether she ought to take on e of the trunks in the manor or find her own, on how, in the name of Myri’s bum womb, she was to pay for anything.

“Abura… what… what c-c-can I do? What do I need? I will… I will help, I will help Mother, I do not… I do not know why she asks someone so small, but I will help, if I can… " then half to herself, "I will hear the Akvatari sing, and see the place... where she stopped, where she... almost home, where she first told the story. How she must have wept for..." and she stopped herself, before she said it: Bethany. And looked up, remembering, and feeling suddenly both very small, and very large all at once, the force of things falling on her. And she met the woman's eyes, and squeezed her hand, "And you, Dharopan, I will help you."
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Liminal on February 17th, 2015, 4:19 pm

For some time, Bethany was silent, letting Minnie's words tumble into the room. She said nothing until Minnie squeezed her hand, at which point a soft, beautiful smile crossed her face.

"I know you will, Sister Minnie," Bethany said. "And I also know some things that will help you along your way."

The young woman stood, looking about the room as she did so. "It's funny how liopani well I know this place, given that I never actually visited it. When I was a child, there was nothing here except a small two-room house owned by a clerk at the University, and an open field full of birds and wildflowers. They were building this house when we left on the circumnavigation -- not for Kena orignally, but this house nonetheless. And I never came home to see it finished. Cordhulan nelitani sorunt, ser noholim dhaliar."

She shook her head, brown hair falling back over her shoulders. "If you go out of this room, and then down the hall to the third door on the left, you'll be in a sort of extended-storage area. Kena was quite a bit taller than you, but there's an armoire in there -- the one that's painted blue -- that has her clothing from her initial sailing journeys inside. She was only fourteen and fifteen then, and closer to your size."

Then, Bethany walked over to the side of the room opposite the bookcase with all of Captain Wright's notebooks in it. There was another bookcase there, but this one contained nothing but some empty vases and other knicknacks, and so was easy to overlook.

Next to the bookcase was a small antique dagger, mounted on the wall. Bethany took the handle and pulled down. Suddenly, noiselessly, the bookcase swung away from the wall, revealing a small room that had previously been hidden.

The layer of dust inside revealed that the housekeepers were unaware of the room's existence. Bethany blew gently, and a handful of motes danced in the air.

"I doubt anyone has been in here since Kena left. Todarien adhitur sorunt. But that's good, because it means what you need is undisturbed." She stepped inside the room. It was perhaps ten feet square, and mostly empty. There were, however, four trunks. Bethany chose the one furthest to the left; the key was still in the latch, and she quickly opened it.

Inside was a smaller box, which Bethany opened it. In the mystical light, the contents sparkled. Nilos, mizas -- probably two or three thousand, stacked neatly.

"Kena's emergency fund," Bethany said quietly. "She's a careful one. Anyway, she doesn't need it now, and you do. Take it, dharopan, and the trunk too. Between that and the clothes in the closet, you should have what's necessary for the trip."

Bethany sat down on one of the other trunks, leaving space for Philomena to examine the open trunk more closely."
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Philomena on February 22nd, 2015, 3:51 pm

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There is a strangeness in speaking with divinity, a feeling of exruciating intimacy with some something unbridgeably foreign to one's self. The strangeness, now, had come upon Minnie thrice, and she began to recognize elements of it. The very matter-of-fact way in which Sister suggested taking the childhood clothing of the greatest hero of Zeltivan History was one manifestation of it - if any other soul had suggested that Minnie rifle through Kenabelle's childhood clothes, not with the reverence of a scholar, but with the simple exigency of need, she would have been almost angry - but this was not the same, and the oddity of that whirled thoruhg her mind - this was Bethany, the Bethany. She would have had no wonder and fascination at the clothes of her dearest companion - the chance was fair, after all, that they loaned each other a sash or a blouse here or there, in spite of their difference of build. But, it was not callousness, as it would be with someone who desecrated a shrine - it was almost funny, a sort of homey comfort in sanctity. She supposed after all that if a god came down to their temple in person, they might be liable to cross their legs and schuckle warmly and nibble at the dainties of the sacrifices, yes? Just like a woman come home to table after a morning's marketing, so like, and yet so immeasurably unlike. And then, it reminded her that the verso of this familiarity was also true - she thought of the way each blade of grass, each measure of each stone was more purely, sacredly itself, when she had met Mother in the hills, the way that the world itself, in its everyday was sanctified into the extraordinary.

Divinity, she decided, was more than simply power.

And then there was the overpowering savor of it, the way that... there was so much in every word, both of divinity, and then simply of the strangeness of the reality of Bethany, that made her want more than conversation. She wanted to pour her into a pen and lay her in slender strokes on fresh parchment, so that she could look at each letter of her a thousand times. Speech was so fleeting, and made one understand ho wfleeting human memory is, how much one wished time was not linear. The way she had described the cottage in the field - had her lip quirked into a smiel? What sort? Or was that only Minnie's mind building the image of a smile because she woudl have expected one? And then, she realized, for Mother, the feelign of loss in that sensation woudl eb foreign - for she did not forget. She remembered all, she coudl write a library on the way a hank of hair fell when Bethany turned her head, coudl publish volumes on the scent of ash in the fireplace. And not only was it the positive: that she always remembered - it was the negative that she coudl not forget. Minnie's mind entered in on a thousand raw moments. Holding Mara's hand as she lay dying. The rough pressure as they cut her hair from her head. Watching Lanie cross the street, and leave, as Minnie watched... watching her leave knowing she was not returning. Anbd she realized, suddenly despite how vividly these things haunted her, how much she did NOT remember, how much was missing. How their force was blunted. And what's more, she coudl remember herself, in them, her own ache, but she could not remember the wailing confusion of Gypa, or... she did not even know, really, what Lanie had felt. And she realized, Mother had seen these things, and remembered all of them, every last corner of every person, she had carved into the flesh of her heart, for she had to remember, everything.

And with this, the reverence returned to her.

She followed Bethany in a quiet daze, the sheer enormity of these things mixing with the gentle voice, and the words that felt like a honeyed secret. The secret door, which would have bowled her over with fascination on another day, washed over her like a dream, now. The dusty room with its chests felt less like ane xperience than a fairy tale.

But the money, that was real, and hard and unignorable. She heard the words, the gifting of them, and she knelt in front of the box. The money was different. She coudl not understand why, precisely, but it made her feel sick. She had never seen so much of it in one place. Years ago, she had seen Mara's cash box, for her family had been well to do, and evne that had made her uncomfortable. This made her sick. All that money. She kept her hallowed hand against her belly, and reached the other forward to touch it. The mizas were subtly different in their cut, the nilo's mint-marked with an older style. This was a hoard. Without explanation, she felt a kind of pity for Kena well up in her, for this, and felt almost as if she took a weight on herself in accepting the box.

But it was a weight she would accept. That she was decided on.

"Abura."

She said the word softly, drawing her mind away, and latching the money shut, wihtout counting it, without even shifting it, not desiring to hear the glassy song of mizas clattering against each other.

"Abura."

Seh turned to Bethany, meaning simply to ask a question, but found the old, soft eyes, and met them with her own, and smiled a moment, first, simply languishing in the silence of that.

"Should I bring her notebooks? Will I..." she almost asked: will I be returning? The question had a finality to it. She did not think it best to know the answer perhaps. But the books, KEna's journals, they must be kept safe, and so she pressed a bit, "I have transcribed some, but not all, and... I dunny have her fair hand at it... but I dunny think Mother wants me to wait, to copy the rest?"
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Liminal on February 26th, 2015, 3:09 pm

Bethany's eyes momentarily grew sad. "You should take them with you, Sister Minnie. They should fit in this trunk." She rapped twice on the trunk she was sitting on. "There's nothing in this one."

Bethany sighed deeply. "This is Zeltiva -- Zeltiva! Home of the greatest institution of learning left in the radhomari world. Home of the finest mariners alive. But somehow, there's no one here to entrust these notebooks to. Charm isn't coming back, and Teresa has been transferred to the Sailors' Guild office in Abura."

She smoothed out the folds in her antique robe. "When I lived here, and immediately after, there would have been so many options. My father, or Hannah, or Charm, or old Roger Falconer, or Timothy de Octans, or so many others. But with Charm and Teresa finally gone, there's no one but you, and when you leave, there won't be anyone at all. Take them with you."

That was as close as Bethany came to answering the question the Philomena had half-asked. She stood up, and inclined her head formally -- the old-fashioned Zeltivan sign of respect upon greeting someone or saying good-bye. "You'll learn more about what you need to do after you're set up in Abura. Safe travels until then, dharopan."

And then, without any other warning, she was gone. The unearthly light lasted for a few seconds longer, but then it vanished too, leaving only the secret room as evidence that any of this had actually happened.
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Philomena on February 27th, 2015, 2:59 pm

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The practicalities of Bethany's response were tucked into Minnie's mind, but they echo of them was hardly a footstep, next to the rattling of thoughts that they implied. I? she thought, I am the only one left?. The thought frightened her, upset her. She was not big enough for that, too small a soul, because that implied something, a sort of... a sort of inheritance. A mantel cast to her. Bethany had given that mantle, in her life, to Kenabelle Wright, and Kenabelle to Charm, her sister, the great Charm Wright. And Charm had given it to her. To her, a secret sacred to ... it was so large.

Then, unbidden an old old poem came to her mind, one of the wall-poems from the early Post-Valterrian:

I came down to the broken earth --
I came to where the walls stopped,
And all was ruin.

Who are we, late-cast flotsam of a holy storm?
Who are we, but wraiths upon the shore,
The last shipmates of a sundered fleet?

I turned to look at the stretched pinions of the mountains
I turned to see the standing stone of the University,
And still, those stones stood.

We are, though dwindled now, inheritors of giants
We are, though less, still something still.


And she felt the cold prickle of confluence in her spine, and shuddered slightly. If she was all that was left, she was all that was left. What else was to be done? She would be as giant as she could. She met Bethany's eyes, and saw the head bow. She went to kneel, the formal gesture of submission, of lesser to greater. Then, stopped, and stood, her hair still wild and half grown, her dress a mere rag, and her body old flesh and tired bone, but she bowed her head in response, just as Bethany had: the parting gesture of equals in respect.

"Goodbye, Dharopan."

And when she had lifted her head, Bethany was gone. She reached into the space where the other woman had stood, felt nothing but the fine mist of dust that hung in the air.

She set her hand to her side. There was work to be done, considerable work. Raisa was in Abura, and that was a comfort - she would have someone she knew there, when she arrived. She would find a passage, pack, strengthen herself, do the things needful for one leaving a place. She would to work.

She nodded softly, and quietly opened the empty chest, to begin.
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As Fugitive as Sunset on the Snow

Postby Liminal on March 3rd, 2015, 12:10 pm

OOC: Thank you so much for the lovely thread! Have some rewards ^_^

1,250 GM + 1,250 Nilos from Kena's emergency fund
Six old-fashioned but otherwise fine sets of clothing that belonged to Kena
Lore: Kenabelle Wright's secret room
Lore: The meaning of Dharopan
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