Solo [The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

The Nal'lyeo brings an old friend to the Ironworks

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This shining population center is considered the jewel of The Sylira Region. Home of the vast majority of Mizahar's population, Syliras is nestled in a quiet, sprawling valley on the shores of the Suvan Sea. [Lore]

[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on June 1st, 2015, 1:54 am

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77, Spring 515 AV

Today was planishing day. Sure, it wasn’t going to be the entire day, but it was going to take enough bells that he might as well mentally brace himself for the long tedium of light hits on the same piece of metal with the same hammer using the same stake. It was all cold work too; even the forge wouldn’t break up the monotony.

But there were worst fates, and the mindlessness of planishing could actually be relaxing. Like his own work-centric form of meditation.

It could even help take his mind off of the Nal’lyeo.

Baelin couldn’t lie to himself: he had hoped the Nal’lyeo would stretch on for the better part of a season. Then maybe, just maybe, the Maelstrom pod might have had enough time to sail up to Syliras all the way from Black Rock.

But the Nal’lyeo had ended two days ago; a bare fifteen days after it had started. The Svefra’s winged messengers were fast and efficient, but they couldn’t work miracles. Even if the message had managed to get down to Black Rock, there was just no way that the Svefra pods would be even close.

The Black Rock native heaved a sigh and brought his attention back to his planishing. The vambrace he was working on had already been worked into its final shape. The next step was to get the blemishes out that are inherent in work done with a hammer.

The metal tinged as he brought his hammer down in small, event hits. Baelin preferred to use a round stake for his planishing. He knew some smiths prefered the mushroom stakes for things like vambraces. Shyke, he’d used mushroom stakes himself when he started. But the more the appentice worked on planishing, the more he realized he liked having a reliable and fixed point of contact for whatever he was hitting.

He kept his focus on what he was doing. Despite its tedium, you could quite easily ruin a piece by hitting too often at the point of contact with the stake. The metal would thin on you. The smith rotated the vambrace over the round stake, arm continuing to come down in short, gentle bursts.

Baelin was starting at what he liked to call the top of the vambrace; or the part where, if you laid it flat on its long edges, would be the highest up. He worked in strips, carefully making hits along the top until he had a nice, shiny line.

The smith paused for a moment to run his thumb over the work, feeling for bumps and other blemishes that may be a bit hard to spot with the eye. Finding a few, he went back to the areas and continued to gently tap his planishing hammer on them. Rechecking them with his thumb, he repeated the process until he was satisfied the line he had been working on was smooth and flat.

Baelin had shifted the vambrace to begin a second line, just under his first, when a breathtakingly familiar voice chirped behind him, “Hiya, Bael.”
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on March 29th, 2016, 4:46 am

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The large man whirled around, hammer dropping to his side in his disbelief. Standing right behind him, left side of her lip lifted in a cheeky smirk, was Mala Maelstrom.

“Mala!” Baelin gasped, features warring between shock and delight. He lifted his arms to grasp her, dropped them again as he thought better of it, shifted his weight, opened his mouth to ask ‘how,’ closed it again dumbly. The boy was at a loss.

The Svefra’s lips twisted into a full blow grin. She clapped a hand on his shoulder, hard enough to cause the half-Dhani to sway, and answered his unspoken question, “We were by Alvadas. Lucky break, eh?”

Baelin nodded wordlessly, lips crawling slowly into a tentative smile. He scanned her over, his mind soaking up the opportunity to commit the changes the years had brought to his friend. Her cheeks were still filled with soft flesh, giving her a youthful feel, but her skin had already taken on the well-weathered texture common to the Svefra. And her eyes held a sharpness to them that was just a bit harsher than Baelin had remembered.

But the cocky grin, her well-toned arms, and the proud tilt of her chin were all the same. Baelin licked his lips and, giving into his own need, lifted a hand to grip her arm. He visibly relaxed at the feeling of her long missed warmth underneath his calloused hands. He rubbed his thumb in a circle over her upper arm, her skin much more leathery than the typical Syliran woman’s. Hers was an arm that had lifted her into her ship’s sails and hauled rope and lead her dives into the sea’s salty depths time and time again.

Baelin inhaled sharply, reminded just how much he had missed her. He ground his teeth together and ducked his head.

The Svefra chuckled and brought her other hand up to rest gently on his wrist. “I’ve missed ya too, big fellah.”

The half-Dhani huffed in quiet agreement. He glanced back to the unfinished vambrace and had a moment to wonder if he could leave the piece as it was to take the rest of the day off before he felt a sharp slap on his arm.

He whipped his gaze back to Mala and lifted his eyebrows in question. She snorted in reply and pointed to his work, “Don’t let me distract ya. You’ve been going soft without Grenor around?”

Baelin rolled his shoulders, the question annoying him more than it had any right to. But he wordlessly conceded her point and, with a put out sigh, turned back to his round stake. Mala followed and leaned against an adjacent anvil. The smith gave her a long look, memorizing the sight of her propping her elbows up on the hunk of metal and settling back.

She was right though; he had a job to do, visitor here or not. The Svefra didn’t seem to be in a hurry, leaning back in apparent relaxation and watching him with one eyebrow raised expectantly. Baelin licked his lips, nerves creeping up on him. The last time she had watched him work was when he was considerably younger, less experienced, and hadn’t done much more beyond cattle shoes. The half-Dhani was filled with an urge to prove to her that he wasn’t the same boy that had left Black Rock. He needed to show her that his time here hadn’t been a waste.

The sound of metal hitting the ground jerked Baelin out of his thoughts. He sucked in a sharp breath and started down at the vambrace, now laying innocently on the floor. Sheepishly, Baelin ducked down to pick up the fallen vambrace, intently ignoring the feeling of eyes following him. The curved metal seemed to be unharmed and Baelin thanked whatever deity spared him from having to fix such a foolish blunder.

The smith ran a hand over the metal, feeling for anything that his eyes missed. There did seem to be a ding close to one of the edges, but it didn’t seem to be any larger than any other dent he had created when shaping the metal into its curve. Planishing should be sufficient to fix it.
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on April 20th, 2016, 1:31 am

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Baelin checked the surface of his planishing hammer, verifying that he hadn’t gotten any dirt or other contaminant on it in his distraction. It still looked clean and shiny. The apprentice was going to say it was good to go. Baelin repositioned the vambrace onto the small, round stake and shifted it about until the point of contact between the ball and the curved steel was just above where he wanted to hit.

The shiny line that he had been working on already stretched halfway across the steel. It was just a matter of picking up where he left off. Then finishing this line. Then shifting down to start the next line. Finishing that one. And repeat. If you could bottle tedium, Baelin imagined it would taste a bit like this.

Baelin was one of the slower armorers at the Ironworks when it came to planishing. He shifted the piece at a snail’s pace, he spent more time picking his contact point than he probably should, he continuously checked that his line was going straight, and he ran his thumb over the surface after each line to fix uncorrected blemishes.

All around, it was slow going. Maybe one day he could fly through the process like Fredrick. But that day was not today.

Especially not with Mala hovering nearby.

The half-Dhani tried his hardest to both block out her presence and to soak it in. The disparity was starting to him a headache. And every time she so much as shifted a half step Baelin would jerk his gaze away from his work and watch her. It was a bad idea to let a Svefra wander around a place of business unsupervised, no matter how much he cared for and liked her.

It led to a bad combination. His hits weren’t as uniform as they should have been – some too hard and some too soft. He tried to will his arm and the force he applied to steady, forcing himself to concentrate on his strikes with only his periphery paying attention to his old friend.

He was starting to get the hang of it when Mala chipped in, voice laced with something akin to curiosity, “It’s wild how much she resembles ya.”

Baelin paused his work, steadied the vambrace gently against the stake so it wouldn’t fall, and lifted his gaze to meet Mala’s. He scrunched his eyebrows together and tilted his head in question, not following her train of thought.

Her smirk this time was softer. Her blue eyes tracing his face with a touch of wonder that he didn’t at all remember seeing from her in the past. The scrutiny caused him to reflexively tense and duck his head.

The half-Dhani didn’t hear her footsteps over the hammering of his coworkers, but he did see her feet step closer and an arm reach out. She grabbed his chin and lifted it. Mala gave an annoyed huff and swatted his hair out of his face. View unobstructed, she stared into his eyes, bright Laviku-blessed blue meeting darkened, snake green, and practically purred, “I’m glad she got those black slits. So unique.”

It took him a tick. Then it clicked. The large man’s breath stopped and he froze, mind frantically trying to process her words as anything other than what he thought she was saying.

How much she resembles ya. Got those black slits.

A tremor ran through him. He still couldn’t breathe. Mala seemed to recognize something was wrong and she smacked his cheek gently.

It didn’t fix the problem. She frowned and smacked him a bit harder, snapping, “Baelin! Stop it.”
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on August 30th, 2016, 2:21 am

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It didn’t matter; he couldn’t hear her. His mind was whirling faster and faster, trying to find some other meaning for what he had heard. Maybe Mala was pulling his leg? But that didn’t seem like the kind of thing she’d do. Unless she had changed terribly in the last five years.

It couldn’t be possible. He was always so careful. He never, ever wanted to curse some poor kid with his blood. The half-Dhani wasn’t that cruel. His heritage was his own burden to bear – no one else’s.

When could he have possibly made such a massive mistake? He had been careful, dammit!

And then it hit him like a sledgehammer. Right before he had left. He had gathered his courage to try and give a civil farewell to his father. It hadn’t gone well. Mala was there. And he took.

Baelin reeled back as if stung. Mala’s voice scratched at the back of his thoughts, but he still couldn’t quite make sense of her words.

“What?” was all he managed to get out.

He struggled to slow his panicked thoughts. To focus on her. Hear her words. His eyes skittered to hers; tried to hold her gaze. They slipped back down when he found himself utterly unable to focus on anything other than the ground.

She spoke slowly, as if talking to an addle-brained child, “My firstborn. Don’t worry, she’s a right good Svefra. Some of the bluest eyes I’ve seen.” A swell of pride was evident in her voice, giving Baelin enough strength to raise his eyes again to meet her scrutiny. The Svefra couldn’t seem to help her grin as she added, “Strong and tough too. Might be Lia one day.”

“Iss sshe…,” the half-Dhani’s features twisted into a pained expression. His breathing quickened, beginning to approach hyperventilating territory.

Mala’s warm and unsurprisingly calloused hand gripped his shoulder, fingers going bone-white with how hard she squeezed. “Don’t be a fool. She’s got the best of ya.” Baelin took in a shuddering breath and slowly forced a nod. When his breathing began to crawl back to a more normal pace, Mala cocked a smirk and added, “And none of those daddy issues.”

“Mala,” he hissed, giving what he hoped was a scathing glare.

Either he was off his mark or she just didn’t give a damn. The Svefra chuckled and gave his shoulder a pat before holding up the vambrace. Baelin blinked, brain sluggishly trying to figure out why Mala would be holding a vambrace. It took a moment to remember that he was at work. And was supposed to be working.

She waved it in front of his face and watched him expectantly. “Ya almost dropped it again, big fellah. Gotta work on that, eh?” Baelin growled and snatched it from her; trying his damndest to ignore her mocking laughter.

The Svefra slinked back to lean on an anvil again. Baelin shot her a glare, but he imagined she could see right through it. Past the rage and into the core of overwhelmingly insecurity. With a snarl, he positioned the vambrace and smacked it with his hammer.
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on August 30th, 2016, 5:17 am

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And immediately regretted it. Too fast, too hard, and atrocious alignment. He bit back a groan and lifted the piece to inspect the damage. The divot from the blow was visible, marring the increasingly shiny surface. Just one bad hit and he had given himself at least an extra half a bells work.

Baelin sighed and lowered the vambrace back to the round stake, trying his best to ignore Mala’s watchful scrutiny.

He could fix this. He could. He would just have to focus. Baelin tried to block out Mala’s inviting and unfairly distracting scent – an intriguing mix of saltwater and cucumbers – and ran his thumb over the section he just screwed up.

Baelin found where it felt deepest and moved about a fingers-width over. Taking his dear sweet time to line up his strike, the armoring apprentice gently began to tap his planishing hammer over the spot. Gingerly, he worked his way around the divot, trying to smooth it out by tapping the surrounding area and avoiding the troublesome spot itself.

His thoughts threatened to creep to the idea of a Svefra child with slit pupils, but he vehemently pushed the image aside and focused on correcting his divot. Just the divot. Nothing else had to matter beyond the divot. Baelin hunched over the vambrace and leaned close enough that his face threatened to get in the way of his gentle backswing.

He continued going in circles around the divot; his hits almost featherlight as he got closer to the center. Chimes went by unheard as he worked closer and closer to correcting his blunder. Once he was just shy of the center, the apprentice paused his work and lifted the vambrace up to inspect it.

Shiny rings worked their way around an almost imperceptible spot. Baelin allowed himself a slight, relieved breath as he studied the fix. It looked like a few passes along the length of the vambrace would correct any lingering imperfection.

Far from an ideal planishing job so far, but he didn’t believe he had done anything to ruin the piece quite yet. Baelin shot Mala a look, quite aware that he still had bells to go. She still leaned casually back against the unused anvil, but her perusal of the half-Dhani as he worked had gone from cocky to…something that looked a good deal hungrier.

If he had caught anyone else looking at him like that, he’d have ducked his gaze and pretended to have missed it. But this was Mala. Baelin licked his lips without even realizing it.

The Svefra’s gaze hooded and a sly smile stretched across her cheeks, creating dimples that Baelin had nearly forgotten about.

Baelin tried to remember why he had looked up from his planishing. You’re at work, dammit, stay on task. A task that was going to take bells more. And while words could not describe how much it meant to him that Mala was here, he couldn’t just leave. He had responsibilities. And he couldn’t ask her to stand there for so long when she had a pod to get back to.

“It will take a while more,” Baelin finally admitted.
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Baelin Holt on May 25th, 2017, 6:35 am

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Her smirk was unsettlingly predacious, “More time to enjoy the view, then. Never know when I’ll get to see it again.”

Baelin clenched his jaw, glad his hair was dense enough to hide the way his ears burned. Not the time. Not the place. Instead of honoring her goading with a response, he snapped his focus back to the vambrace. This worthless strip of metal.

Not worthless, he tried to remind himself, clinging to the little bit of normal left to him. Bringing the hammer back down, Baelin tried to sink back into the tedium. Further and further, hit by hit, the thundering pound of blood through his ears settled. He could process what was going on later. He would process it later. But not now. He couldn’t now. It was just too much. All too –

The unmistakable bite of fingers pressing into the muscle of his shoulder caused him to jolt so hard that he snapped yet another too-hard hit on the vambrace. Baelin swore loudly enough that Fredrick looked up from his own work and shot his usually soft-spoken apprentice a look of surprised disquiet.

“Mala,” Baelin hissed. But she ignored his warning and instead opted to drag her fingernails down his back, fingers catching in his shirt irregularly on their way down.

“And here I was,” she said with glee, “worrying that Syliras would make ya soft.”

He shook her hand off and shot a glare over his shoulder. A glare that promptly faltered when he realized that she was but a hairsbreadth behind him. That predatory grin was still in place, twitching even wider while he froze.

“Baelin,” Fredrick called over, “Everything alright?” There was no mistaking the warning in his tone, nor the suspicious scrutiny the head armorer levelled at the Svefra.

Mala snorted and gave Baelin’s ass a sharp slap before sauntering towards the exit. “Hurry up, I won’t wait outside for ya forever,” she called over her shoulder. She lifted a hand in a lazy wave, not bothering to look back. Baelin watched her go, unable to tear his gaze away from her arrogant swagger until the door swung shut behind her.

Could Baelin feel Fredrick’s stare on him? Absolutely. Was he going to acknowledge it? No. Definitely not. Besides, he had a blemished vambrace to focus on. This ding wasn’t going to fix itself. Baelin sank back into his work: gentle taps of a well-polished hammer on cold steel.

Or, at least, he tried to. But as he passed a calloused thumb over a shiny expanse of metal, his finger caught on a slanted blemish. And, for the briefest of moments, it wasn’t polished steel with a slanted nick that he saw. It was a set of bright blue eyes with snake-slit pupils, staring back up at him.
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[The Ironworks] The Sea's Wife

Postby Karyk on June 19th, 2017, 11:39 pm

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Baelin Holt
Skills
Armorer: 4
Observation: 2
Socialization: 1
Intimidation: 2
Lores
Armorer: Mushroom stakes are more reliable than round stakes
Mala Maelstrom: Only slightly changed during the time apart
Mala Maelstrom: Terribly distracting without even trying
I have a daughter!
Mala Maelstrom: Mother to my child
Mala Maelstrom: Smells of saltwater and cucumber

Miscellaneous
Daughter, unnamed, unconfirmed. - Congratulations papa snake!


 
Notes and Comments
CS Checkmarked: ✓
CS Reviewed by Me: ✓
Season Request was Submitted for Grade: Spring 517
Season Thread was Started (IC & OOC): Spring 515/Spring 515
Is that Season's expenses paid?: ✓
Eligible for grade? Yes


A fun work thread and Mala sounds terribly fun. Mark your post in queue as graded.
Follow your heart, and the plot will follow.
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