Opposite Ends (Hirem)

Opposite ends get on each other's nerves.

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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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Opposite Ends (Hirem)

Postby Timothy Mered on April 3rd, 2015, 3:09 am

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32nd of Spring 515AV


Nothing soured his chipper mood more than Hirem. Like a splash of ink in a water basin, the Benshira’s poisonous presence spread through his veins. Come supper, the dark-skinned giant would always pick the spot opposite to him, as if he distrusted him to the point of being incapable to hold a ladle. And every time the Benshira plonked down, making the table shake, Tim’s heart slowed to a growling thrum and all his muscles tightened like strings. Whenever he met those brown, twinkling eyes all his being replied with a silent cacophony of dissonant emotions.

On the one hand there was no denying the man had saved him from the streets and granted him a place to stay. For that he was grateful. On the other, Hirem simply would not leave him be. Chime after chime, he felt watched, his every move observed by the tall, broad Benshira. Still the bouncer complained about him being too skinny, even though almost every spare moment was spent eating or going out with Scrapper. Still he would be lectured about Yahal and his pious ways. Still Hirem insisted that he grow not only taller, but stronger too. It was a small miracle the Benshira hadn’t taken it upon himself to find him a girl too. Thank the Gods. That would be embarrassing…

At first he’d thought it was because Hirem worried he’d taken to stealing again. While he still enjoyed picking Aweston’s pocket to prank the groom, he had stayed his hands from the pockets of strangers. Oh yes, the thrill of taking without notice sent happy chills down his spine, but the risk was much too great. Just stalking someone, reaching out…the mere thought of doing that again tightened his throat. Even back in Winter he hadn’t been so much brave as he’d been desperate. He remembered all too well the queasy feeling, his legs turning into noodles just moments before slipping his hand into someone’s purse. Far too often he’d been caught, and he was glad to have stopped that career before anyone had cared to press charges.

Comforted somewhat by the warm, rapidly breathing pile of fur near his ankle, Timothy met Hirem’s gaze with mild scorn. At least Scrapper hadn’t such a terrible sense of humor, or the habit to speak of Gods when he was least interested in the matter. He promised himself to ask Kavala if it was possible to magically transform someone into a dog. Everyone would be much better off for it as -he imagined- dog-Hirem would cut an intimidating figure and did a splendid job of growling and grumbling anyway.

Finishing up his mushroom soup as fast as he could, Timothy brought the bowl to his lips and poured the hot substance down his throat. Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, Hirem was given another scowl; different from the ones thrown at him during Winter. It was not bottled-up fury, but genuine annoyance that shone through like a baleful light. “What’s the matter with you?” His spoon clattered into his bowl as he seized Hirem up with his eyes. “Why do you keep following me around? Why can’t you just leave me be? Have I done something wrong, or do the bruises I gave you still hurt?” He jutted his chin at Hirem’s wrist where he’d managed to land a strike during one of their training sessions; sessions that had become more and more infrequent as the ravine between them widened.

This time however, he hadn’t sought to tear himself lose from the desert wanderer. Hirem had done that himself. What an idiot he was if he thought he could keep his alcoholism a secret. Everyone knew Hirem’s new best friend was the bottle. Everyone knew the sheepishly giggling fool, stumbling through the streets of Riverfall at the break of Dawn was Hirem The Strong. What an apt name for a man with the spine of a wet rag.

“Don’t think I don’t notice you’ve been eyeing me, because I do. You’re terrible at pretending there’s nothing going on when there clearly is. Don’t you think I deserve to know why you come to sit with me always? Don’t you trust me? Or maybe you think I am too young and too stupid…” The last few words were dripping with venom. “Oh he’s just a child,” Timothy said in a mock, gruff voice, “he’s just a sad little boy who knows nothing and steals and does bad things, but I Hirem the wise shall make sure the little vagabond will not wander astray!” He ended his cynical imitation there. “Is that it? Is that why?” A narrow silence followed before Timothy decided to slander Hirem fully. He deserved it, most of all in front of The Sanctuary, perhaps then he would change his ways.

“…or are you drunk again? It makes you reek. I can smell you coming before I hear or see you a. You’ve become sluggish and fat and lazy. Or maybe you’re just jealous that I have a proper job while you waste all your money on filth and bottles and probably petch a few whores while you’re at it. By the Gods, what has happened to you?”
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Opposite Ends (Hirem)

Postby Hirem on August 2nd, 2015, 4:04 am

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This was perhaps the most difficult thing Hirem had ever imagined having to attempt in his life.

He had fought off Eypharian jackals, hardened criminals, bloodthirsty monsters and vicious desert predators before. He had survived in a land considered inhospitable for almost eight years, living by the grace of Yahal alone. He had delved into twisted Hai itself and beaten back its horrors, managing to crawl free of that prison with his life and sanity intact. He had crossed the endless Sea of Grass and managed to start a new life in a city so completely alien to his homeland. All of these were impossible tasks on their own, Hirem felt, and he had just a touch of pride for himself having managed to come this far... but all of the difficulty he had faced before paled in comparison to the momentous task before him. It was enough to instill the fear of the gods into him.

How was he supposed to face his son?

How was he supposed to become a father to a boy that had already accepted having no father at all?

There was no easy answer. Day in and day out, the same questions haunted Hirem - how to tell Tim, when to tell TIm, if he should tell Tim, and what the hell would happen next? Day in and day out he considered a hundred different answers to these questions, and found that none of them satisfied him. And even if he were to find himself a plan of action, Hirem knew that it would all melt away the second he caught sight of those big green eyes Tim bore. Fashioned like his mother in every way, Tim was more than just a child - he was Stella's ghost, bearing her memory forever into the future, haunting Hirem with visions of the regrettable past and an unknown future. Staring at the boy and realizing that it was his son he beheld, that it was his blood that flowed through the child's veins... it was an experience Hirem was always loath to repeat.

For some time after he made the revelation, Hirem had to fight to discover if it was even the truth or not. His first instinct was to wave it all away, consider the idea nothing more than drunken fancy. There was no way Stella could have gotten pregnant from their brief, meaningless detour! There was no way Yahal could be so cruel! But the more Hirem considered the idea, the more it made sense. He remembered her panic during the later months of their relationship, her constant dread of the future and what it held... had been inspired by a disjointed cycle. Her shape, growing heavy during the last days of her stay in Yahebah... was a harbinger of the child she carried. Though the boy looked nothing like his father, Hirem knew that there was no way Tim could be any other's. That wristband he bore could never have had any other owner, than Hirem the Strong.

And so Hirem took to hounding the boy, day and night, always within arm's reach but never close enough to speak. He watched Tim whenever he could, trying to get a better sense of the boy's temperament, trying to divine what he could from mere glances and keen observation. Speaking with Tim was another matter entirely - always the boy fumed and groaned in Hirem's presence, complaining about this and that with a manner entirely unbecoming. It was incredibly trying to sit through the petulant child's outbursts and know that it was his fault Tim acted that way. Without a father to show him the way, without a parent to guide him in these critical years, what was Hirem to expect? Everything foul that had befallen Tim, especially his slavery in Kenash... it was all Hirem's fault. I may as well have sized the chain for his neck myself. Small wonder, then, that Hirem took to the drink to relieve his woe.

And now Tim was bearing into him again, and Hirem could do little more than grimace as he stared into those hateful little eyes. How? was all Hirem could think, over and over and over again. How could Yahal have seen fit to inflict this upon the poor boy? How could my god have been so cruel to bring this sweet child up as my son? And how could I have let this happen? Eventually Tim's speech became but mere whispers at the back of his mind, all the world growing dark save for the light in the child's eyes. Your fault, came the resounding chorus. Your fault, your fault, your fault...

He slammed down on the table.

All conversation in the Sanctuary kitchen grew quiet then, all eyes turning to stare at the enraged Benshira. His expression dark and his hands curled into tight fists, Hirem rose from his seat, staring down at Tim. "Just because you like to live in the gutter, my boy," came the snarling response, "doesn't mean you're allowed to commit yourself into shyke! Respect is something that you should start to consider using, before you consign yourself to the gutters forevermore."

"Hirem..." came the nervous call from behind. He wasn't sure from whom, and he paid it no mind.

Reaching down, he took a page from his own father and tugged sternly at Tim's ear, furrowing his brow. "We need to speak. Come," he declared, motioning for Tim to follow him outside the kitchen. The tone of his voice made it clear that the punishment for failing to do so would be severe. Caught in a blinding rage, Hirem paid no heed to the fact that he was disgusting others, Tim, and even himself with his actions. The anger in his heart, the seething anger that threatened to consume him whole... it needed to be vented now, or else it would destroy him completely. The Benshira marched himself into the open courtyard of Sancutary, finding a secluded corner before whirling once more upon Tim.

"How do you think your mother would feel, if she saw you like this now? How do you think S- she would react, seeing you get into fights and stealing from those that would see you with a roof over your head!" Oh, the idea of raising this boy with Stella at his side was too much for Hirem to even consider right now. While the Konti and Akalak might be well suited at raising their young without aid, no human father could ever manage the same feat. Digging his fingers into his temple, Hirem closed his eyes. "I am trying to help you! What part of that do you not understand?! I sit with you because I want to hear about your day, about how you are feeling! I give you advice because I think you are in sore need of it! And I offer you training because you damn well won't become a knight at this rate!" Throwing his arms wide, Hirem shook his head. "I swear to Yahal himself, if I had ever spoken to my father in the way you speak now to me, I would have spent the night with the camels!" He realized only too late that he had given away too much, his cheeks suddenly turning numb.

Determined to draw Tim's focus away from his words, Hirem dropped to his knees and stared hard into the boy's eyes. "The next time you speak ill of me, I swear that shall be the day I stop giving you the help you desperately need. Don't make me regret finding a home for you."
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