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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Hirem on March 4th, 2015, 8:20 am

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7th of Spring, 515 AV

Spring was a time of rebirth. Spring was a time of light and sun and dazzling hope. Spring was a time of peace.

All of this and more Hirem understood of the spring season, yet apparently his understanding of the time was limited compared to what Rosela knew of it. For the seamstress of Red Diamond Fashions had very different ideas about what spring was, about what spring could be; in her eyes, Spring was colour. It was dresses. It was flowing. It was free. And it was adorned with many, many belts.

Giving a quiet sigh, the Benshira unsealed the last box he had brought in from the workroom and dipped his fingers gently inside, withdrawing a magnificent dress the colour of a pale lily, and finding a place for it on the nearby women's rack. Once he was satisfied with the arrangement, with how the dress looked to his untrained eye after being hooked onto the rack, he grabbed another piece of Rosela's spring attire. And then another, and then another, and another after that. For such a small, light box, the Eypharian had been able to fold a surprising amount of clothes within. Hirem worked at this task as quickly as he could manage, but took extra care not to damage any of the dresses or scar any of the leather pieces - he would never be able to forgive himself if he botched this simple job. And not only that, but the Benshira also admired these articles of clothing... while he didn't understand the fashion that guided their design, they looked finely-made and all felt rich to the touch. Clearly, Rosela was a master at her craft, and Hirem could not stand to watch a master's work come into harm's way. Gingerly, he worked at this task until the box was empty and all of the clothing within had been displayed properly on the appropriate racks.

Taking a small step back, Hirem folded his arms and examined the effort he had managed so far. In about a bell of work he had managed to take down all of Rosela's winter line up from the clothing racks and replace each rack with about half of her spring pieces. The rest quietly waited for him in the empty workroom, whispering to him from their small boxes that it was time to be unleashed upon the world. The Benshira was aware that he should not leave a task unfinished, but there were confessions bubbling in his throat that desperately craved release, and that made him eager to seek Rosela's company. Glancing once more about the storefront to make sure that there was no customer lingering about in a secret corner, he turned about on his heel and made for the back of the store, heading into the secluded philtering lab. Knocking just once on the door to make sure that he did not surprise his friend with his entrance, Hirem pushed his way inside and found Rosela just where he had left her, busily attending to her future cosmetic line on the lab table.

Offering her a quiet nod, the Benshira approached the Eypharian slowly, his eyes glancing down at her many hands to see if he could understand what she was attempting to do. After the answer came back to him - a decided 'no' - he decided that he should still at least try to help with whatever it was possible to help with. Though he had come into the lab just to talk more with Rosela, to share the burgeoning feelings that were threatening to overwhelm his heart, the words now faltered when he tried to summon them to his lips. Staring into the woman's eyes made the words seem silly, or else made him realize the true depth of what he was entrusting Rosela with. This is no matter that she needs to worry herself with, especially not in her condition... I cannot expect her to comfort me when she too is facing a difficult time of change. Yet there was no point in trying to back up across the bridge that he had already crossed. Rosela already knew the worst of what he had to say... now there was just the matter of working through his thicket of emotion.

Taking up a silent position beside the woman, Hirem grabbed the nearby mineral block he had see her struggling with earlier, as well as the nearby hammer. Whatever she needs this for, it's surely of no use to her in it's current condition. Taking a deep breath, he struck down upon the block with the tiny hammer as hard as he could, satisfied at seeing some minor fractures developing along the edges. At least it's farther than what she managed to achieve. Grunting, Hirem took another two swings and did his best to target the far right edge of the block, but ended up clumsily hitting it in the dense centre. His efforts were not in vain, for the block continued to bend and crunch until finally, with one loud pop!, the block snapped in half. Smiling now, relieved to have finally broken the damn thing apart, the Benshira focused on pulverizing one of the halves into smaller and smaller chunks, hoping to eventually wear it down until it was a fine powder. He did his best to ensure that none of the shrapnel ended up hitting Rosela, angling his body between the exploding block and the pregnant woman. As he worked, Hirem could feel his tongue begin to gradually loosen, and finally he felt confident enough to turn his head to the Eypharian and pronounce the words he had been dreading:

"I know that he is mine."

And then, immediately, a frustrated sigh. "I mean... I have no real proof that he is mine, but I feel it deep in my heart. Whenever I look at the boy, I see the green eyes of his mother, and I know he is Stella's child. But as for me..." He shook his head, slamming the hammer down again on the mineral. "Tim looks nothing like me. He doesn't have my skin, my hands, my hair, my anything. He looks the farthest from me as I could ever imagine a boy looking. How is it that I can be sure he is mine when such is the case? How can he be mine when he is just a small little northern mouse, unknown to the desert?" Hirem ran a hand through his cropped hair, taking a deep breath. "But he speaks of Yahal, and that may just be fate playing a cruel trick on me, but I feel that perhaps it might be more than coincidence. And, on his wrist, he bears a bracelet that looks... very similar to one that I sported in my youth. One I wore for many years, into the beginning of my adulthood, in fact. Is that a sure symbol of my influence? I cannot be sure." The words overcoming him then, the Benshira set the hammer down and closed his eyes. "His mother was a prostitute. There is no way of knowing whether he is mine or one of the other men she had the habit of seducing. Am I just mistaking this meeting as a sign of something that is not there? Am I assuming something that is not real? I feel that it is real, but I cannot know if it is..."

Falling silent for a moment, Hirem laid his hands on the table and bent his head low. "Well... I suppose that it doesn't matter if he is mine or if he is not. He is a boy of twelve years, alone and without a father. Timothy Mered needs me, and I will be damned if I do not honour his mother." Clenching his fists as a way to work off his tension, the man then turned his head and smiled softly at Rosela. "What do you recommend I do? What can I do, really? My hands have been chained to this boy."
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Rosela on March 5th, 2015, 2:14 am

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One hand on her stomach, Rosela braced her others against the table and arched her back down as far belly would allow. Instead of her spine cracking, however, she only felt tighter and more sore. It was only the morning and she was already tired of standing. There were some pluses to the day, most notable being that it was the first day of the season she could finally abandon her restrictive boots and return to sandals in the warm weather.

The other plus was obvious: Hirem. He’d come by to help out around the shop, despite her protests that she and Hudon were doing just fine. In fact, she was overjoyed to have him around. Together, he and Hudon had completely put out the spring line, without her having to lift a single box. He was the kindest man she’d met since awakening, perhaps since arriving in Riverfall. His mere presence seemed to wrap her in warmth. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him how much she wanted him around all the time.

As if on cue, Hirem knocked on the door and she quickly straightened – she didn’t want to worry him by letting him see her in pain. Without her heels, he towered almost a head and a half above her so she had to lean far upwards to smile up at him. Silently, she returned to grinding charcoal in the pestle as though she hadn’t stopped for more than a moment. In either of her other pair of hands, small bowls of saffron and toasted rose petals hovered, adding bit by bit until she, for lack of a better gauge, thought it smelled right. She paused in between grinding to sniff it cautiously. It would eventually become eyeliner, but not if it stunk like charcoal, as it currently still did. Twisting her lips as she put the pestle back down, she added a couple more rose petals and began grinding again.

She realized belatedly that Hirem was staring at her.

”Is everything alright?” She asked softly as he started in on a block of stubbornly unbreakable red ochre. ”If Hudon said something, really, he’s just an idiot.” Hudon had teased her the other day with calling Hirem her sweetheart. She’d hoped the pair of socks she’d thrown at him would be enough to shut him up, but so help her if he’d gone and embarrassed Hirem…

His sudden pronouncement brought a moment’s confusion, before she connected the dots. The boy, Tim. The strange little boy who’d cost her half a yard of fine Kalinor silk and was currently weighing far too heavily on Hirem’s mind. For a breath's span, she worried Hirem had encountered Tim out on the shop floor - he wasn't due in that day, was he? The boy had asked her to keep his job a secret, at least from Hirem, and she intended to do just that. As much as she liked the man, she could never betray such trust. Especially not when the one who’d laid it was working so hard for her.

She remained silent as Hirem took his frustrations out on the ochre and in words. The mortar moved automatically in her hands, the smell of charcoal all but forgotten. When he finished, silence fell for a moment. One by one, she set the mortar, pestle, and two bowls on the table. Reaching out gently, and turning her palm away so she didn’t brush him with charcoal-dusted fingers, she pressed the back of her hand to his chest. ”I don’t think I can tell you anything here. What I do know is that you don’t need more regret. You are only as chained as you are in your heart. With him, your heart says he’s your son, and your mind says he needs you as his father. If you found out your blood didn’t run in his veins, would it change anything? Would he need you any less?”

People always have the option to run away. Well, sometimes we don’t,”
She glanced away briefly with a quirk of a smile. ”But this time you do. What would your heart say if you did?” She wished she could take these burdens from his chest; he had so many already.
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Last edited by Rosela on March 9th, 2015, 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Hirem on March 5th, 2015, 7:21 pm

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If Hirem had the power to shape his own fate, he would have never brought this issue to Rosela's attention in the first place. Granted, if he had the ability to guide his destiny, he wouldn't ended up with this issue at all - he had always desired having a family and children of his own, but it was never supposed to be like this. And certainly, Rosela had to attend to matters just as dire as his own. The child growing in her belly was coming ever closer to being due, and trying to run her store in the midst of the busy spring season was bound to be its own sort of hell. If he had a choice in the matter, Hirem would have never come to the Red Diamond Fashions, would have never told Rosela the truth about his relationship to the boy Timothy Mered... but, just as he was irrevocably tied to Tim's fate, he was also helpless to stop himself from confiding in the woman.

The need to tell someone, anyone, about the son that he never known he had had become overbearing in the first days of spring, and Hirem feared that if he did not speak to a trusted friend about the matter, he would just blurt it out into the streets and go mad as a result. This, combined with the fact that Rosela was one of the few people he knew that could empathize with this situation, had doomed him from the start. There had always been the option of speaking to Kavala or Caelum about this matter... the idea of trying to relate to parents already well-established and content with their lives didn't appeal to him, however. Rosela really was the only person he had any desire to share his thoughts with. And there was also the fact that he liked Rosela, had been looking for an excuse to go see her since the start of spring - thus this was a convenient, inevitable encounter.

Unable to get over his guilt at pushing this matter onto Rosela's already tremendous burdens, Hirem could only continue to give her a well-meaning grimace as she turned to speak with him. But the touch of her hands soothed his troubled mind, and soon that smile transformed into a genuine one. "You are only as chained as you are in your heart," Rosela advised, the Benshira quietly nodding. "With him, your heart says he's your son, and your mind says he needs you as his father. If you found out your blood didn't run in his veins, would it change anything? Would he need you any less?" The answer was, of course not, and Hirem gave a quiet sigh of relief as he confronted this fact. Nothing about his feelings towards Tim would be changed if Hirem discovered that he was not, indeed, his son; the boy still needed a father, and Hirem owed Tim's mother everything. What kind of man would I be if I did not take care of Stella Mered's only child? What kind of insult would it be to her memory if I just pushed the boy away?

The thought of Stella made his heart twist into a suffocating knot.

Pushing the grief from his mind, Hirem turned abruptly away from Rosela and took a deep breath. "You are right," he murmured, his gaze distant, his hands reaching once more for the ochre block and hammer. "I have the option of turning away, but at the same time, I do not. Timothy needs me. And even if I am not his father by blood, then I will do my best to become one by deed. I am just," and here he gave a frustrated sound, smashing the block into smaller and smaller pieces, "I am just scared, I suppose. I always wanted to be a father, as all young Benshira men do... I wanted to lead my own Tent and guide my family into the light of Yahal's grace. And if I had just - if I had just known that Stella Mered had borne my child, then perhaps my life would have been spared the horror that it became. No matter what else happened, at least I would have had my son to hold and love, and a wife to stand beside. But now?" Setting down the hammer, Hirem then retrieved a small container, and scooped the smashed ochre into it with as much care as he could manage. "I'm not ready to be that man, Rosela. I came here looking to rebuild my life... that was always the first step I had to take before becoming a father. And I haven't finished that step. I've started, but there's too much to complete yet and not enough time to do it. There's no time."

Despite the dismay his voice contained, Hirem felt at least a little better for having spoken the truth of what lay in his heart. Setting the container of red ochre aside for now, thinking that Rosela would retrieve it later when she needed it, the Benshira moved to the Eypharian's side and put a hand on her shoulder. "How have you been feeling?" he asked, trying to make his voice as comforting as possible. "Have you made arrangements for when the child is due? I've heard... terrible stories about what can happen when an Akalak is born. If you haven't spoken to anyone yet," and here he turned her about so that she could see his eyes, see the intent within them, "I can talk to Caelum or Kavala of the Sanctuary on your behalf. Both are excellent healers, blessed with the favour of Rak'keli. Your labour would be painless with them at hand, I can promise you that. And," he cleared his throat, "about your, uh, 'Talvis'. What will happen when the child is born? Is your contract finished with him?" It was clear from his expression what Hirem thought of this man, this unknown Likhren... the Benshira's promise to kill the man if he dared take advantage of Rosela again hung thick in the air between them.
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Rosela on March 10th, 2015, 2:25 pm

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As she Rosela removed her hand from Hirem, she picked up the mortar and pestle as he returned to breaking the ochre. A bit of the dried clay had made it into the charcoal mixture, and she plucked it out with one long nail, setting it off to the side for the trash. Charcoal making it into the rouge, lipstick, or any of the items that would come from the ochre would be bad for business.

She fully sympathized with his regret, but hoped with time, his would pass. ”It’s normal to be scared,” she said quietly, resuming the grinding, twisting motion of the pestle. ”Something has come into your life that you didn’t really expect. If he’d come in so unexpectedly at any time in your life, you’d have probably said the same things. Children do that; they throw things off course. Maybe not in a bad way?” Pausing to delicately sniff the mortar of pulverized charcoal and rose, she added three precious strands of saffron. The fragrant spice was painfully expensive, but hopefully worth it.

”Besides,” she resumed, shuffling over a step to bump him playfully. ”It’s not like you have to carry him around inside of you for a year. You got to miss out on the worst part of it.” Drawing the conversation back to her own child-related problems made her grimace as she dug the pestle into the mortar. ”Things are okay… I haven’t had morning sickness once so far this season, so hopefully that’s behind me. Oh! That reminds me,” Knocking the pestle on the table harder than she intended. ”Can we please go out to Zhongjie and get some kiwis? Even dried ones, I don’t care. I’m going to die if I don’t get some today.” The craving had hit early morning and she’d nearly managed to forget about it until then, where it came back full force.

While Hirem’s mention of the eventual birth brought a wave of anxiety, it was quickly replaced with discomfort as the baby took the opportunity to lash out against the inside of her belly. Groaning miserable, she wrapped two arms around her belly and leaned against the table. If she hadn’t been wearing the heavy apron, she knew she would have seen the motion of tiny limbs against the taut skin of her stomach. Petch, you miserable creature,” she swore quietly in Arumenic. ”I hate it when it…he, or she, or whatever does that. Caelum, yes, I’ve actually already spoken to him. He was nice enough to offer to offer to ‘monitor my pregnancy’, as I think he put it. I have an appointment with the Oathmaster later this season, I think we’re to work out the final details then. My contract, that’ll be worked out too.” The baby settled and Rosela removed her arms from herself, the lower being the arm with her gold undan.

”As for Likhren, my contract will be done, but beyond that, I don’t know. He wants to be in my – our – life, and I can’t imagine keeping him away from his child, but…I don’t know. We'll just have to see what works.” She sighed dramatically, halfheartedly picking up the mortar to sniff at it again. The saffron had put it over the edge, and it was now fragrant enough to sell. Perhaps she could have gotten away with one less strand even, and reminded herself to add single strands at a time in the future.

”So,” she began again, looking up at Hirem with sad, pleading eyes. ”Kiwis are in season, right? Someone will have some?”
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Timothy Mered on March 12th, 2015, 5:09 am

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7th of Spring



The Warren was more crowded than the last time he’d been there. Warmer too. Akalak, fathers, mothers, and children milled about in a small maelstrom contained by four walls and colorful stands. Putting his back into it, Timothy lifted the last crate of a small cart and zig-zagged his way through the crowd. Upon arriving at the baker’s stand at the far end of the warren, he plopped down the wares and looked up at the baker.

“I think that’s the last one,” he beamed.

The baker, though still as gruff as he remembered him, turned away from his latest customer to give Timothy an approving nod. “Just a moment,” he said. “Now, two fresh loaves you said…?”

Tuning out of the conversation, Timothy folded his hands behind his back and marveled at the heavenly blue sky above. Everywhere he went the sun shone pleasantly; not blistering hot as in Kenash, but not pale and timid as in Sunberth either. Just right, he thought to himself.

He supposed the sea had something to do with it. The air was still cool and damp and unmistakably salty. The scent of flowers, gently shouldering their way up through the soil and into the light, and honey filled his nostrils. Life was good.

For reasons he couldn’t fathom an invisible weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Perhaps it was just the change in season, or the fact that he now had a proper job and could, within time, start to provide for himself. It felt like there was more to it though. Whatever dark thoughts had clouded his mind before were beginning to fade and never before had he smiled so much, nor had they been so sincere.

Better still, though Rosela had reminded him of Adelaide Sitai at first, the fashion lady was pleasant enough to work for. Sometimes she was perhaps a bit grumpy, but he didn’t mind it too much. Jed had been much worse and he supposed it had something to do with the thing growing inside her. His only concern was that she worked too hard. The bulge she carried could no longer be ignored and if he had his way she’d be sitting still in a chair all day and let him do all the work. Then again, it was probably best for business that he didn’t.

All in all, things had been going well. He only returned to the Sanctuary for food and lodgings and intended to repay Kavala for her kindness, as well as Hirem, and Caelum, and possibly Aoren too. But first I need to save up, he mused inwardly, maybe I can save up a hundred mizas…or a thousand!

“Boy.”

Timothy clasped a hand to his heart and exhaled. The warm laughter of the baker mingled gleefully with the sounds and smells of the marketplace. “I must say you surprised me,” the broad Akalak continued. “I didn’t expect some human sewer rat to have to audacity to steal from me. It was quite brave of you really…”

Timothy’s shoulders drooped a little.

“…but it was even braver that you came back and apologized and worked these few bells to repay me. Here,” the Baker reached for his purse and flipped him a gold-rimmed Miza. “Hard work is rewarded,” he shook his finger playfully, “remember that kid. Now go buy yourself something nice, you’re thin as a reed.”

Timothy smiled and waved hesitantly at the baker as he stepped away from the stand and blended back into the general buzz. It felt good to be relieved of his dishonesty, yet there was still much to do. Every drunk, every forgetful poor sod, every last sailor, all the people he’d stolen from would need to be visited and be told the truth. This was just the beginning. But I won’t rest until I’ve repaired all the damage I’ve done, down the last crumb…Yahal be my witness.

With his chipper mood, his faith had returned like a whirlwind, sweeping all his doubts aside. Confessing the crime he’d nearly committed against Rosela –having held her purse even as she’d been protecting him- would be hard, but it would also be right. And then there was Hirem…it would not be easy to be honest with the troubled Benshira. Timothy was ready to tell the truth and confess all his crimes and share his renewed faith…but now it appeared this was not the time for the bouncer. More often than not, there was a scent of Alcohol surrounding the tall brute, and he seemed to avoid him.

Lost in his thoughts, he decided to sit down on the low stone wall surrounding the marketplace and enjoy the sunlight for a few more chimes. Secretly he wished he could spend his gold miza on something sweet to eat, but he restrained himself. The miza was for Rosela, to repay her.
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Hirem on March 13th, 2015, 8:04 pm

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”It’s normal to be scared,” Rosela advised, and Hirem could not help but chuckle at the comment. Normal? Then why does this feel so unnatural? To think that he, a man seasoned and weathered by tragedy, could be terrified of this little boy was ludicrous. If he stood now before his old friends, his timeless companions from Yahebah, they would laugh at his plight. What son of Yahal finds himself in this plight? What Benshira could be so blind? In all his youthful imaginings of the future, he had never envisioned a fate like this - a father without a wife, a son without a mother. It was never supposed to end up like this. His family should never have taken shape this way. But even in this situation, Hirem knew that he should not back down. A proper man would step up, take Tim under his wings, and make the most of the lost childhood. Yet whenever Hirem thought about it, there was a palpable sense of dread that boiled in his stomach, that made his mind freeze and heart stop. I am afraid, he reminded himself, and that cannot be the reason why I do not become the father Tim needs. I must conquer that fear and become a better man. And like Rosela says... perhaps this change will be for the better.

He could only hope.

Finishing up the sole task that he trusted himself to undertake, Hirem folded his arms and leaned against the nearby empty table, watching Rosela as she continued to work with the mortar and pestle. The best job he could undertake now was to continue putting up the spring line of clothes and accessories, but he had no desire to leave the Eypharian's company so soon. He had little idea of exactly what Rosela was attempting to do as she churned the assembled ingredients together in the mortar, understanding only that the final product was meant to be some sort of cosmetic material. Intrigued, he watched the woman's many hands as she worked, trying to glean some sort of insight from the task. She's picked these ingredients not because of what they are now, but because of what properties they can bestow to the final solution... but how does she know what properties they will be? The answer, he supposed, was experimentation; he would not be surprised to walk in to Red Diamond Fashions a year from now and still find Rosela toiling with the same troublesome ingredients. Actually, with the drive this woman possesses, I would suspect that she'd have become a master in the craft given a year. Who knows, perhaps soon every woman in Riverfall will be sporting Rosela's products? The thought made him excited on behalf of his friend, and gave him some hope that soon he too would be able to make his mark on this beautiful city.

Watching with concern as she doubled over at the baby's kicking, Hirem could be satisfied with the knowledge that Caelum was looking after her. With such a watchful eye upon her, I doubt that Rosela or the child will come into any harm. He was more troubled by the knowledge that so much of her future was left in ambiguity... whether or not Likhren intended to marry her, if she'd remain a Nakivak after this first child, what the Oathmaster might decree is to be done with the child... there was much that Hirem did not know, and that worried him. But he would not darken Rosela's day with his grim thoughts. Instead, he offered her an overdrawn, pretend sigh and shook his head. "Kiwis it is, but I doubt we'll find anything to your liking. You might think you're desperate, but one whiff of an overripe kiwi, and you'll turn your nose from it. It's the Eypharian way," he said, giving her a conspiratorial wink. Helping her set everything on the tables away in the nearby storage area, Hirem then drew up beside the woman and once more offered her his arm. Part of him did this because he knew that Rosela was moving slower than normal and could use the help to make sure she didn't end falling victim to another attack from the child... and the other part of him did it because he liked the feel of Rosela's arm entwined with his. "To the Market," he breathed, making a great show out of rolling his eyes.

Outside, the peaceful spring morning had bloomed into a gorgeous day, the sky above blue and empty of clouds. Smiling at the sight, Hirem gently pat Rosela's hand and guided her down the street, having grown quite familiar with the layout of the city. "You know, I think we shall have a good year ahead of us," he murmured, nodding his head. "No harsh summers. No strange winters. I think that this year shall be a good one. I'm finding new employment with Kavala of the Sanctuary," he confided in her, "as a combat instructor. I think it's a better use of my talents than a hired thug. And being close to the Sanctuary will let me spend more time with Tim... that will help me figure out what to do with him." Continuing his new year plans with a happy tone, Hirem glanced back over to Rosela. "Of course, whenever I can make it into the city, I'll take the time to visit you. You could use a friend." He did not bother discussing his plans regarding the orphanage, for that idea was still only a glimmer in his eye... and he did not speak of Evalin, for the witch's name brought an acid taste to his tongue. Talking pleasantly of the future with Rosela, Hirem felt the walk to the Warrens took less than a chime, so distracted was he by the conversation.

And then they were in the thick of the market, that buzzed with activity and confused the eye with flashing colours, swirling shapes, keening cries. Stopping in the middle of the street, Hirem frowned and squinted his eyes. "Uh... kiwis..." He looked past the myriad stalls and covered wagons, struggling to look for any signs of that exotic fruit. "I think they may be... uh..." Unsure, Hirem grumbled with distaste and rocked back on his heels. He supposed he could always just search for kiwis, but wandering through the Warrens without a clear destination in sight could leave one stranded for bells.

Then, through the gaggle of bodies, Hirem spotted a familiar sight: a little boy with green eyes, sitting against a stone wall.

His heart climbing up into his heart, the Benshira found his legs drawn in the direction of Tim. Without comment he parted from Rosela and approached the young boy, trying to force the look of trepidation from his face. "Tim?" He murmured as he came close, keeping his hands loose at his side. A million options for what to say next came to mind, but Hirem found that nothing slipped easily onto his tongue. Finally, he cleared his throat. "What are you doing here?" Hoping that his son had not returned to the practise of robbing street vendors, the Benshira sighed and brushed a hand across his brow. "I mean, it's good to see you. Would you - would you care to help me out today, child? I'm looking for a kiwi vendor... maybe you can find one for me?" Oh dear gods, I will need all my strength for this... dealing with Tim is worse than all the punishment Hai can mete out.
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Rosela on March 19th, 2015, 6:39 pm

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Tapping the pestle on the edge of the mortar, she set it in the wire holder at the back of the table and put a clay saucer over the top of the charcoal concoction. She’d bottle it later. The intensity of Hirem’s gaze was upon her, and she looked up to meet it curiously as she pulled off the apron. She didn’t envy his situation any more than she imagined he envied hers, but she hoped coming to a decision about Tim, rather than agonizing over it, would bring him some peace.

Feeling silly and lacking any manner of comeback, Rosela stuck her tongue out at him at his crack about her race. Even if she ended up not wanting them, she knew, she trusted, he wouldn’t mind. Hooking two of her arms in his, she drew warmth from his closeness as they moved out of the philtering lab and through the shop. ”Taking a break, Hudon, we’ll be back.” The Akalak nodded from his position behind the desk, mindlessly stitching the hems of a pair of trousers. Rosela knew he had more than enough of them left to keep him busy for the rest of the day.

They walked slowly along the street, Hirem keeping pace with her slow waddle. She listened to Hirem’s plans with a soft smile on her face, feeling hopeful about the future for the first time since awakening. ”Kavala’s a good woman. I’m a little jealous of the community she’s built around her. People always coming and going, people staying there, people working there… She’s connected to so many in this city.” She caught his eye and smiled wider, heat coloring her cheeks.

”I’ve been thinking I might start renting out some of the guest rooms in my home. I only have those couple of rooms, so there wouldn’t be very many people, but…” She sighed and shrugged. ”I want to expand the shop this year too. Contract with other business to start selling things I design from them. Like Beautiful Things, the jewelry store? And I know there’s a cobbler down in Zhongjie; I’ve talked to him a couple times about it, but nothing concrete yet.” Realizing she was babbling about her plans, she cut herself off. ”Sorry, I could go on forever about my shop. I just want it…” She clutched at his arm and threw out her other hands explosively. Big, you know? I used to think it would just naturally grow, but lately, I don’t know.” Her hands dropped limply. ”I’m not sure there’s enough bells in the day to make it happen.” Feeling she was getting too down, she patted Hirem’s arm with a smile. ”I’m not worried though. We’ll get there.”

Once, a ‘we’ll get there’ attitude would have infuriated her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, the feeling was still there, seeming to grow stronger every day. Why was she out here goofing off with Hirem when there was work to be done?

She halted immediately at Hirem pulling away, and could only watch in shock as he made a line for a figure that was clearly Tim. Irrationally, her mind spun; he wasn’t working for her that day, right? Moving closer, she caught only the word ‘kiwi’ and breathed a sigh of relief. ”Tim! I-“ Her voice broke. Had she told Hirem she’d met Tim yet? Was that something else Tim had wanted her to keep from him? ”I…what are you doing in the Warrens today?”
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Timothy Mered on April 2nd, 2015, 8:41 am

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A flash of annoyance crossed his features when Hirem came bumbling towards him. Ever since he had first met the Benshira, the dark-eyed man had done nothing but stick his big, fat nose into his business.

“I am just sitting here, what’s it to you?” he countered. “If you really must know, I was helping that man over there with his wares,” he waved towards the Akalak baker who had the goodness to confirm his story by waving back. Rosela received a slightly different reply. "That was the guy with the buffalo milk, remember? I thought I'd make it up to him...I still have a few more people to repay." Quite a few, he sighed inwardly.

His gaze fell on Rosela while Hirem struggled to utter his request, before sliding back to Hirem and hardening upon the Benshira’s features. Hirem and Rosela? Rosem and Hirela? A luke-warm snigger escaped him. The six-armed seamstress was a tidy, ambitious woman whereas Hirem had proven himself a wanderer, even more so when under the influence of throat-scorching drinks. He’d seen the two coming from afar, arms interlocked. It was obvious really, spring had gotten to their brains. Sun, birdsong, and the fresh air carried from the sea had filled his chest with a similar cheerfulness and he could relate more to how the two felt then they might imagine.

After all, just a few days past, he’d met the most astonishing girl. Bronze skin framed by dark, curling locks, a voice ringing like snowdrops. Truly, she had been something out of a dream. He didn’t even know who she was, what she was called, or where she lived. In truth, he’d only witnessed her for ten ticks before she’d disappeared amid other pedestrians. But the few ticks he’d seen her had brought about many changes. For one, he took more time and care to scrub every inch of himself clean. Gone were the dirty mittens and untrimmed fingernails, gone was the spiky, unkempt hair. Truly, he now looked as proper as one his age could in clothes of casual make. The only thing reminding of his Winter form was the bracelet still dangling from his wrist. He would never cast his only heirloom aside, not even for the sweetest girl in all of Mizahar.

He wouldn’t have gone through such efforts if their eyes hadn’t met in between. By Yahal, he’d seen her smile with his own two eyes and had thought of little else since. Only hard work could cast her aside. But as soon as he stopped to rest, she would return. Sometimes he would wander about the city idly, hoping against all odds that he would meet her again. It was no great mystery to him then to decipher why Hirem and Rosela had locked arms. The Centipede and The Desert Rat: A love story he chuckled inwardly.

“Kiwis huh?” He tried to keep a straight face, but the thought of the two being together amused him. Six arms might come in handy, he couldn’t help but think. “…Yeah I think I know where they sell those.” He stood up, dusted off his trousers and began leading the two towards the fruit merchant’s stand. It was a relief to have his back turned towards Hirem and Rosela, or they might have seen him trying to stifle laughter as he imagined Hirem’s undoubtedly clumsy attempts at romance. Ah, this was a good day.

While the market crowd hadn’t thickened to a porridge yet it took a bit of shoving and shouldering on Tim’s behalf to clear a path. Just before they reached the many fruity scents and crates, Timothy remembered something.
“Look what I got!” he beamed over his shoulder and presented the shining golden-rimmed miza to the lovebirds with unmistakable pride. “Here,” he pressed the coin into one of Rosela’s free hands. “For your troubles.”

The slender mid-thirties female behind the stand welcomed them with a bright smile. Nimble hands rested folded on her green apron. “Can I help you with anything today?”

“Yes,” Timothy almost leapt forward and scanned the many crates for the furry green-brownish fruit. “We’re eh,” he wobbled on the tip of his toes, “we’re looking for Kiwis. Large juicy ones please.”

The merchant smiled, perhaps sincerely this time. “How many?”

“A bunch.”

“Is he always that cheeky?” The kindly woman reached for a big, brown paper bag before turning her pointy nose towards Timothy again. For the briefest of moments her eyes narrowed. Hadn’t she seen that child before? Last season, she had been out with her husband, left her purse unattended for half a tick, and out of nowhere this mousy little fellow had appeared, hand hovering over her belongings before darting away. She shook her head. That child had been shorter, solemn, and much, much dirtier. “Well,” she shook her head. “how many bunches then?”

“A couple,” Timothy chuckled. The exasperated sigh that followed was an all too familiar sound to his ears as of late. The blonde settled her hopes on Rosela now. “How many, Miss?”
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Father and Mother (Rosela)

Postby Hirem on April 12th, 2015, 5:32 am

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It might have been fanciful for Hirem to imagine that the onset of spring had worked some wonder upon his son's disposition, but the Benshira had still been hoping that something had changed within the young boy. The clean air might have invigorated Tim's spirits, or else the bright sky might have soothed his rebellious nature. As the pair stood right now, Hirem couldn't spare a moment to think about what might happen if Tim learnt the truth without shuddering, his mind completely distracted by the immense difficulty that accompanied adolescent boys. For every pleasant idea that sprung out of his daydreaming, two more nightmares grew from it, horrible thoughts of a broken young boy cursing his name bringing a chill to Hirem's soul. I will wait for the spring, he had told himself, scrambling to make a plan. I will wait for the spring and watch the boy when I can. If all continues as before, perhaps he is not ready for the truth... and if he does show signs of being prepared, then I will reveal it to him as soon as I can.

Yet now, when he looked at the hard face of his dear son, Hirem couldn't help but see that same look of defiance that perplexed him so. "I am just sitting here, what’s it to you?” Tim answered in a challenging voice, apparently feeling the need to defend himself. Rolling his eyes, the Benshira folded his arms and wondered if the child was trying to hide something. As far as I've known the boy, he's never been one to just 'sit'. There's always some plan working itself out in his mind. I hope... I hope he isn't here to try his hand at thievery again? Tension rocked itself through Hirem's body as he clenched his fists, trying to believe that his son was not already turning once more to crime. “If you really must know, I was helping that man over there with his wares,” the boy continued, not entirely convincing Hirem even after the baker offered a friendly wave. Helping to relieve the man of his wares, Tim? was the question he wanted to ask, but found that it lay too heavy on his tongue to be spoken freely. Damn it, if I cannot give my own child the benefit of the doubt, what does that say about my quality as a father? ... I'm sure he at least understands how unnecessary it is for him to contemplate stealing again.

Before Hirem could say anything, Tim was suddenly speaking directly to Rosela. They know each other? He thought, shocked, turning his gaze over to the Eypharian. His first reaction was of disbelief, and for a moment the look he gave Rosela was a pained grimace. Soon enough, that expression vanished from Hirem's face, replaced by an uneasy smile. "Ahah," he murmured, shaking his head softly. "How fortunate for us all to have met before! That works for me - I'm terrible with introductions." He knew in his heart that there was nothing wrong with this situation, but couldn't help but feel strangely unsettled by the idea of Tim wandering around town freely and getting to meet people Hirem was unaware of. At least he ran into Rosela, of all the many characters he could have encountered... I'm sure they got along famously. Even more strange, he felt dismay at the idea that Rosela already had an understanding of Tim and likely had formed her own opinion on the boy. It was so easy to talk to her before, when I thought Timothy was just a faceless shadow in her mind... but now she might think me a fool or a monster for keeping the boy in the dark. She might disagree. A childish impulse in Hirem found the situation distasteful.

But there was no time to continue fretting over it. Quietly, he followed behind Tim as his son led him deeper into the Zhongjie, silent while the boy presented Rosela with a gold miza. Let's hope that you were 'given' that, child. To disarm potential suspicions Rosela might have of his ill bearing, Hirem gave the Eypharian his brightest smiles whenever their eyes meet, striving to keep his most uncomfortable of expressions reserved for a later time. As Tim tried to chat with the fruit vendor, Hirem felt the need to intervene. 'We'll take a dozen for now,"' he began, reaching down for his coin purse. Then, thinking again about the urgency that had been in the pregnant woman's voice, he shook his head. "Actually, make that two dozen. A full basket should do." Approaching the vendor, the Benshira fished out a fair share of gold mizas and slipped them into her open palm, giving her an apologetic smile. "And he's not always this bad. Sometimes, he's even a pleasure to speak with."

Once the wooden basket of kiwis was offered up, he passed it over to Rosela. "You can't possibly eat more than this in... well, at least the next few days. If you do, I'll boil my sandals and make a meal out of them." Glancing around the busy marketplace, wondering what on earth had drawn Timothy here in the first place, Hirem decided to try something new; he reached out, placed a hand on the boy's head, and ruffled his hair gently. Too long, the man mourned, and too light. Not even in this could he resemble his father. "Rosela and I were working down at her shop this morning. Would you like to join us? There's some small work that you can help with, if you behave."
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