Placeholder Sunrise Looming [Hirem]

Enter by the front door, escape by the back.

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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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Sunrise Looming [Hirem]

Postby Rosela on August 31st, 2015, 3:44 pm

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Timestamp: 18th of Summer, 515AV
1st Bell, 30th Chime

Rosela didn't know what time it was. The middle of the night, to be sure, but her mind was too far gone to listen for the bells. Every muscle in her body ached and though the occupants of her belly were now expelled, she still waddled in pain. Her abdomen felt like she'd been beaten with a club, and the rest of her felt like she'd spent the day fighting for her life. She knew her hair and makeup were a mess, despite the moment she'd taken to dab and straighten before leaving the sanctuary of Alements. In spite of herself and everything she believed in, it was hard to care what she looked like in that moment. So much had changed...and so much more was about to change.

Turning up the street, she saw that this one was also empty and she listened hard for any distant footsteps. A quick glance at Hirem showed he still had the box, their precious cargo, securely in hand. The box's resident was thankfully silent, at least for the moment. Though they already hurried, Rosela quickened her step further. The darkness would not hide a baby's cries.

As though angry at this development, an irritated groan sounded from the box and Rosela's eyes shot to Hirem's in fear. "Hold it steady!" She hissed, not actually knowing if he'd jostled it. She prayed Akajia would cast her shadow over them and mask their getaway, though this was by no means the final leg of their journey. "My house isn't much further. We'll hide there until we figure out what to do." What to do seemed such a casual euphemism for the decision that still echoed in the now-empty chambers of her body. They were leaving Riverfall. For the second time in her life, Rosela was about to leave her home for the unknown.

Punctuating her words, she distantly heard a door open and close. Her blood froze in her veins. "Here!" Tugging at a corner of his shirt, she made an awkward dash to the shadowed side of a building and the dark alley between it and a high fence, sidestepping a metal trashcan along the way. The baby's whines grew more insistent inside the box. Rosela attempted to mentally calculate the time - how many bells since the damned child had eaten? It couldn't possibly need to yet again? "Take him out, take him out," she fell into Arumenic in her urgency and quickly corrected. Footsteps sounded clearly now, though she couldn't tell if they approached. "Go to the back..." As Hirem gently removed the child from the box, Rosela took him with three arms and gestured towards the back of the building with a fourth. As soon as Hirem's back was turned, she unceremoniously dragged the side of her dress down and shoved the child's face against her breast. He latched immediately with a small murmur and began quietly nursing, the action itself a gift from the goddess.

If Hirem glanced back, he would only get Rosela's fluttering hand in his face, though she knew there was no hiding was she was doing. The footsteps out on the street were definitely approaching, and Rosela threw another prayer to Akajia as she followed Hirem around the corner of the house to the back. They huddled there in the pitch black, listening to the heavy rhythm of the steps. While Rosela desperately tried to quell the mortified heat in her face, though Hirem wouldn't be able to see it, there was no denying the awkwardness of them standing elbow to elbow in the dark while the heedless child nursed on her bare breast.

As the footsteps passed close, her heart pounded harder in her chest, ready for a shout of alarm at any moment. The poor logic of her panic did not register - there was nothing at all suspicious about a man, woman, and child being out in the night, though the lateness of the hour may give one pause. However, Rosela was known and conspicuous as an Eypharian, and being spotted with a baby and not her Talvis seemed, in the moment, as good as a death sentence.

Her goddess's mark allowed her to see through the darkness to Hirem's face and lacking anything else to watch, she stared up at him. Could he hear her pounding heart? Was the sound of a child innocently suckling as thunderingly loud to his ears? With the sounds of footsteps tapping out their possible doom around the corner, she didn't dare ask.

OOCI took a few liberties with your actions to move the scene along, let me know if any of it was out of line...
Last edited by Rosela on September 2nd, 2015, 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sunrise Looming

Postby Hirem on August 31st, 2015, 4:41 pm

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This whole evening reeked of tragedy to Hirem. The way the wind whistled through the night sky, the way far-off sounds echoed in the distance, even the smells carried to him from afar made his every muscle tense in anticipation. There was no way this evening, and the evenings to come, would end pleasantly. In his heart, Hirem had to believe that it could - had to hope that what he was doing now was for the best - but it was hard to reconcile that fact with the grim predictions his mind was making. Thoughts of capture, execution, and far worse danced before his vision, made his thoughts murky with dread. After all, what kind of new life spends their first bells swaddled in a box? What kind of future can this poor child expect?

Though it was impossible, Hirem fancied that he could hear the child's heartbeat pounding against the thin walls of the box. Thump. Thump. Thump. Like the chime of a clock, reminding him of where he was. Of what he carried in his hands. His arms shaking, the Benshira did his best to follow the frantic Rosela, pausing only momentarily to press his lips against the wooden surface of the box. "Shhh," he murmured, closing his eyes. "Be calm, little one. We're almost there." Every instinct within him yearned to remove the lid of the box and comfort the boy directly, but Rosela had made clear the dangers associated with such a thing. If the child began to cry, attention would be thrown their way. If the child was seen, questions would be raised regarding the location of the father. And if by chance they should come across the Kuvay'Nas... no, there was nothing else for it. It broke Hirem's heart to treat a newborn like this, but they had no other choice. At least I made sure he was comfortable before we began this journey... The thought offered him little consolation.

Everything Yaheban in him revolted at the thought of this plan. This is not how the young should be treated. A baby should be given a cradle and a home to live in, not a frantic dash through the streets and a box to smother him in. This is not how a family is started. Years of tradition, countless stories of Yahal's propriety, left Hirem feeling disgusted by his own actions. At the same time, he knew that he could not turn back. We are taking this child away from the man that violated his mother. We are going to give this boy a chance few Akalak get to experience: the union of two parents, doing their best to give him a better life. It sounded noble in his head... but he knew that he was ignoring one crucial detail. The boy wasn't human. He was Akalak. Shouldn't he be left with his own kind? came the thought, the horrible gut-turning thought. What do you think you two can accomplish that a city of warriors cannot? And the most insidious whisper of them all, haven't you already destroyed one child's life? Why should you ruin another?

Interrupting Hirem's thoughts came the steady groan of the babe, leading Rosela to turn around and start reprimanding him. Nodding in quiet agreement, the Benshira reapplied his firm grip to the sides of the box and did his best to hold it steady, while at the same time trying to dash out of sight of the open street. Unsurprisingly, the whining of the child only grew louder, making Hirem's blood run cold for a few precious seconds. This is it. Betrayed before we have even started, by the child we hoped to steal away. He was unfazed to hear Rosela slip into her native tongue for a brief moment - it was all he could do to avoid swearing profusely in Shiber. "Okay," he murmured back, glancing towards the street and softly opening up the box. There, his bawling getting more and more intense, lay the blue-skinned child, so terribly small against the dark night. For a moment he just stared at the boy, stared at his inhuman eyes, and forgot the troubles of the world. Even knowing the circumstances this child was being thrown into, Hirem was still put into some sense of awe knowing that what he lay his eyes upon was the purest life yet born in Mizahar. Then Rosela was reaching for the boy, and the moment was lost.

And so they hid in the shadow of the building, cowering in the darkness like common thieves. Oh, but we are much more than common brigands. Regular criminals steal gold, jewels, finery... we have stolen the most precious gift the Akalak can receive. For that, we will be given no quarter. Setting the box down on the ground, Hirem knew that Rosela's eyes were upon him, and he took a deep breath. Steady now. You cannot give in to fear now. Rosela agreed to follow you in this, but you were the one to come up with this idea. If you break, then the whole foundation of what you are hoping to build here will crumble. He dared not make eye-contact with her, out of respect for what she was doing now, but gave a low nod. "It will be alright," he breathed, his voice scarcely a whisper. "Trust me." If he were still a praying man, he might have offered something to Yahal at that moment... but the thought of turning to Yahal in this most dire of moments only further soured Hirem's mood. The Benshira closed his eyes, listening for the footsteps, hoping beyond hope that they would soon turn away.

They did not. Instead they came closer and closer and closer. "Hello?" came the hesitant voice.

Hirem's heart stopped.

"Hello?" came the second call.

Please, child, do not cry. Keep drinking your mother's milk, do not cry. Do not cry.

Hirem might have thrown himself out into the alley in a mad rush had the mystery voice then not suddenly declared, "Hell with it. Talking to the shadows again." Footsteps again, but growing mercifully faint. It was only until they completely disappeared that Hirem allowed himself to breathe once again.

"Come," he murmured, keeping his eyes averted while retrieving the boy from Rosela's breast and returning him to his box. Shutting the lid softly, he picked the box back up and began stalking out of the alleyway, beckoning for Rosela to follow along. He stopped only briefly before entering the main street again, for fear of more unwanted guests, but thankfully the street was empty. "This way," Hirem grunted, keeping his pace brisk. While he walked, he started to shake his head, muttering quietly to the Eypharian, "This can't last. Alone we might have a chance of sneaking about the city, but with - " He paused momentarily, realizing that the child still had no name, "With the babe in tow, it will be impossible. We have to leave the city as quickly as possible. Tonight if we can, before the dawn comes." He turned his head around and looked at her hard, giving her a firm nod. "When we get to your house, I will help you pack whatever it is you need to pack. But then we leave, ideally by ship. There must be some transport we can hitch a ride on... or perhaps a caravan the Kavran will not inspect too closely."

"I do not know where we will go... but I will not put this child in more danger than he would be in if he stayed here. Perhaps Syliras, the fortress to the north..." Hirem shook his head, giving a low sigh. "I do not think it would be wise to head south. Yahebah is... well, not an easy journey to make, for one. And Ahnatep would treat you kindly, but the child?" He left out the implication that he would likely end up a slave if they retreated back to Ahnatep. There were still many questions that had to be solved regarding this little arrangement... perhaps the most pressing of which, what exactly was he in all of this? Rosela was the unwilling mother, the child a displaced twin. Hirem again had no place in the little family he was hoping to create.
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Sunrise Looming [Hirem]

Postby Rosela on September 18th, 2015, 3:02 pm

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The sound of the man’s voice froze Rosela’s blood in her veins. As though the action soured her milk, the baby unlatched from her breast with a smacking of tiny lips. The sound faded into the light breeze around them and Rosela attempted to swallow past the lump in her throat. Hirem’s movement to take the child was the only thing that broke the spell of her immobility and she drew in an unsteady breath as the baby disappeared back into the box and she jerked her dress back over herself.

She let Hirem take the lead as she looked around the dark street, seeing no faces in the quivering, shifting shadows. ”Tonight?” She hissed in confusion, frowning at the back of his head. He nodded at her, but she pursed her lips, opting not to argue here. Leave that very night? What madness was he thinking?

His suggestion of Syliras resonated though, and she felt a false sense of comfort as they passed onto the street of her home. Almost there. ”Syliras,” she pronounced slowly. ”A northern fortress. Have you ever been there? Is it like Riverfall?” She left silent the implication of her question: would she be safe there? ”Not Ahnatep. Not yet, at least. Someday.” She had always imagined her triumphant return to her home city, sitting atop riches and finery to prove to all that she had needed nothing and no one to earn it. Somehow, making that return with a bright blue child and a Benshira didn’t seem quite as triumphant. Her house loomed close, however, a safe haven in the dangerous dark.

As they approached her home, Rosela tugged at Hirem’s sleeve again and straightened her stature, now trying to hide her limp and walk with pride. ”Just walk naturally from here. No one’s going to accost me in front of my own home.” The confidence she spoke with lifted her spirits, and even as the baby whined long and low inside the box, she knew no one would hear. Safety, albeit a temporary one, was within reach. They climbed the steps, waited for her to unlock the door, and with one final look around them that showed nothing but curious shadows, swept inside and closed the door behind.

Had Rosela been alone, she would have collapsed in the foyer then and there. Instead, she gathered her strength around her like a cloak and opened the box in Hirem’s arms. Here, child… she spoke more to the child than the man. Like he had been, she was painfully aware of the lack of name. In the entire course of her pregnancy, she hadn’t ever decided on a name. It had taken so long to stop herself from viewing the child as an invader and a parasite; where would she have found the affection to name this tiny thing?

Laying the baby against her shoulder, one hand on the back of its head, she moved through the entrance and into the courtyard. The fear of the street seemed further away now and she turned to look at Hirem. ”A ship then, to Syliras,” she spoke simply, as though they'd had no break in the conversation. ”But we are not leaving tonight.” Her eyes hardened in the moonlight, even as she gently swayed with the child. ”I have an entire life to unravel here and I’m not leaving all of it to be claimed by the city when they realize I’m gone. They’ve taken enough from me,” she added, voice dripping with scorn.

Even as she spoke in anger, her touch was gentle on the baby in her arms. ”Stay here tomorrow with the child,” she cut in before he could protest. ”I’ll go out for a couple hours at a time, sell my...my shop, sell the house, and buy a couple things for travel. Ugh, and a few things for the baby, we’ll need to figure that out. Paper, I need paper to get everything written. There's so much that needs done...” Hands fluttering in agitation, she dragged her hair out of her face and looked around the courtyard, the weight of what she was leaving behind starting to hit her. Was she truly leaving everything behind for this man and this child? In the end, what did she actually owe either of them?
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