Solo [Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Some wise words are imparted to Orin at the Azurite Watchtower

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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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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:10 am

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5th Bell, 9th of Summer, 517AV


Orin was finally recovered from his injuries sustained during his Kuvan test. While he probably had been well enough to return to his regular activities yesterday, he’d decided that if he’d been told to rest by everyone then he should rest fully and not risk hurting himself again by doing something stupid and pushing too hard before he was totally recovered. The house rest had chafed at Orin, though, who hated being alone, especially when he couldn’t really do anything to occupy his time. It was terrifying, because with nothing to waste his time on, Orin was left alone with his thoughts. That was an unpleasant place to be.

He wasn’t tired, since all he’d been doing for the last few days was lie in bed or sit around the house. In fact, Orin was full of a nervous energy, and had tossed and turned all night, not able to fall asleep. So now, he just stared at the ceiling, and tried not to let the oppression of his own mind get to him. You’re a failure. Weak. What have you ever accomplished, whispered one voice, many in a chorus. Why do you think everyone you ever loved abandoned you? You’re unloveable, your father proved that, sneered another. They were relentless, the voices of his subconscious, and Orin couldn’t exactly say they were wrong. They were a part of him, after all, and he couldn’t fight his own mind. So they burrowed their way farther and farther into his conscious thoughts, until they took over everything and paralyzed him with shame.

Orin, though, was a fighter. Admittedly, he was a chef by trade, but he’d gotten through worse patches than this, and he was in control here after all. So, instead of laying back and letting himself be overwhelmed by the hooks of doubt that had caught him, he decided to go out and do something. Even if he couldn’t stop the thoughts, he could replace them with thoughts that were more neutral at least. Throwing off the sheet that were all Orin could stand in the heat of the Riverfall summer, Orin dressed quickly, throwing his old comfortable clothes on, instead of the new fancier ones he’d purchased in his time here. He wanted to feel like himself, not the mask that he occasionally put on for the world to make it possible to get through the day. Strapping his daggers to his hips, Orin headed out.

The chef was surprised when he exited his apartment. It was dark, far too dark for dawn even to be poking fingers over the horizon. Sighing, Orin considered his options. Most everything except for a few bars would be closed, and alcohol wouldn’t cure what plagued him, even if Orin had been at all interested in drinking. The Sasarans might be open, but after having just been hurt from a fight, Orin wasn’t willing to risk it again quite this soon. That left him with either getting to work incredibly early, which would look odd to his co-workers, or just walking the streets aimlessly. Neither option was appealing.
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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:11 am

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Scanning the skyline, one silhouette stood out to Orin, and a possibility bloomed in his mind. He could go to the Azurite Watchtower. He didn’t want to disturb the priestesses there, but perhaps being in the presence of one of Priskil’s symbols would offer some degree of comfort. It was too early for his traditional prayers, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have a separate, more intimate session before his more public and regimented one. On his journeys, at his loneliness moments, Orin had taken to speaking to the goddess as if she was present. He’d never expected her to answer, but simply the thought that she might was usually enough to get Orin to pull himself out of whatever funk he’d been in. After all, her woes were much smaller compared to her.

So he set off on the familiar path to the Watchtower. Luckily, at this early bell – or late, depending on how one looked at it – the air was cooler than it might otherwise have been. Orin was counting small blessings at this point. Other than the miracles he'd made for himself, they were the only kind of blessings he'd ever seen. The streets were empty in this predawn world and Orin had a fancy that he was the only one left in the city and that it was his playground. Except I never played as a child, came the fleeting and melancholic thought. Besides, as much as Orin sometimes hated social situations, he craved them too, as a drowning man craved air. Having been through both, Orin knew just how apt an analogy it was.

Eventually, his stroll down this well-worn path deposited him at the foot of the Watchtower. Orin took a moment simply to experience the majesty of the structure. It was perched on the edge of the city and the edge of the cliff, thrusting into the night sky. It looked like a sheepdog watching over the flock of Riverfallians as they slumbered. Much like Orin imagined Priskil watched over her sleeping husband, whose awakening Orin prayed for. There’s was one of the saddest stories Orin had ever heard and he prayed daily for the eventual restoration of one of the greatest loves the world had ever known.

Orin stared out, although there wasn’t much to see but the stars and moon reflected on the surface of the bay. No ships were out on the water this late, and no people were walking the stairs between the tiers. With the city at his back, Orin felt he could be on any cliff in any part of the world. He tried to feel that connection, the lifeblood of the lands flowing through the water. All he felt was that he was a speck on the vast surface of the world, one that would be gone and forgotten soon enough. Orin could feel the circling of his depression, probing, as always seeking a way to sink its claws deeper into the depths of his soul. It was the worst kind of monster, the kind that came from within and not from without.
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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:11 am

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Orin leaned against the base of the Watchtower, trying not to let despair overcome him. Luckily, he’d never been suicidal, didn’t think at all about throwing himself off the edge of the cliff. That wasn’t his way. What he would do was punish himself for faults, real and imagined, and hide himself away from the world again. It was his way, after all, to keep his true self closed off from the world. If the Orin everyone knew was a fake, at least partially, then he couldn’t get hurt. If that meant that he couldn’t live, either, well it was a price that he was willing to pay to save himself from the pain.

Only it wasn’t working any more. While Orin wasn’t hurting, he wasn’t happy either. Lately, it had been all he could do to drag himself out of bed, and it wasn’t because of his injuries. It was because the darkness inside of him, the shadows that lurked in Orin’s hidden self, was alternatively weighing him down and trying to burst out of him and show the real Orin to the world. The one that was full of pain and anger and wanted to hurt other people, maybe even hurt himself, just so he could feel anything at all. He kept it on a tight leash, but it kept slipping out, a little bit at a time. Orin couldn’t be vigilant all the time, much as he would like to.

Closing his eyes, Orin tried to formulate his thoughts in a coherent way, but they were elusive, slipping out of his mind’s grasp. So, instead of speaking a formal or a rigid prayer, Orin reverted to his old habit of simply speaking the first words that came to his tongue, as if Priskil were an old friend who would listen to him babble. “I’m sorry, I guess. For…well lots of things, I suppose. I’m sorry for not coming here more often. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I was…afraid, for some reason. I’m sorry for not being as faithful a servant as I can and spreading your word to all who I encounter. It’s just, I don’t…I don’t know if I’m worthy to be your mouthpiece.” Orin felt a lump forming in his throat. He was getting close to the truth, and as always it terrified him.

The truth hurt, after all, and Orin most of all. Still, if he didn’t get this off his chest it would continue eating away at him. “I’m sorry. I know why, why you don’t listen to me. And I’m sorry. I try…I try so hard. But, I can’t, I can’t always…believe in hope. I…there’s…there’s something broken inside me. Something that I afraid can never be put back together again.” He felt tears stinging his eyes and he angrily dash the back of his hand against them. He hadn’t come here to break down further. He’d come here for the solace of his chosen goddess, and in this, like so much else, he was failing miserably. “I’m sorry that I’m so weak. I’ve…got darkness within me, and so, yes, I know that I will never be one of your favored. Because…because…because you found the inner strength to stand watch and guard against all comers and I can’t even help myself find your light.” He was feeling even more depressed, now, if anything, but now that he’d opened the floodgates almost nothing would stop it all pouring out.

“You stand for hope, and vigilance, and light. Good qualities, ones that…that I wish I had, that I could believe – that I do believe in. For others, if not for myself. I don’t wish for you to aid me. I…I never had. I’m not worth it. I have too much darkness bottled up inside to ever make it into the light” Standing there, feeling the coil of self-loathing, Orin finally sent up his blessing. “I pray for those who can’t pray for themselves. May you protect those who are in need of watchers in the night, solace and shelter. May your light guide them, as it cannot guide me for I am too far lost, out of the darkness and to safety. And above all, as always, I wish for your eternal watch to be ended and for your to be reunited with your love.” Orin bowed his head. He didn’t especially feel better, but he knew he did what was right, and that brought him a minimal amount of comfort.
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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:12 am

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A woman’s voice from behind startled him. “You know, for someone who claims to have nothing but darkness inside, that was a surprisingly selfless prayer.”

Orin whirled around. Standing in front of him was a pale-skinned woman with white hair. In fact, the only color on her, other than her clothes, was her startling eyes, that seemed to shift every moment. Orin knew her, or knew of her rather. This was Ivory Snowsong, chief priestess of Priskil in the city, and he was mortified that she’d come down. “I am so so sorry for disturbing your rest. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll go, and let you continue with your night, or morning, or whatever time it is.”

Ivory smiled, and shook her head. “No need for all of that. Come, come. Let’s have a cup of tea. I imagine it will do the both of us some good.” Orin’s mouth was dry. Clearly he was living in some alternate universe, one where powerful and important people invited him into their lives. He was a nobody, a blip, a non-entity. Sure, he was probably the best cook in the city by now, but that didn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of it all. However, he couldn’t refuse her, so he followed her into the Watchtower proper, which apparently was her home, for Orin discovered a small apartment at the base.

Ivory made a movement for the kettle, and Orin started, then reached for it himself. “Here, let me…” the chef began, before Ivory cut him off.

“Nonsense! You are a guest in my home and I won’t have it be said that I neglected my duties as a hostess. Sit, sit. I’ll put the kettle on and then, would you join me in song? It’s been too long since I had a man to sing with me. Kimbri, darling as she is, tries of course, but it’s not the same. We’ll do a hymn, something simple, something you’ll know from your worship hm? How’s that sound?” All the while, Orin watched, amazed, as Ivory lit the stove then filled the kettle and put it on to heat. That task done, Ivory came to sit with Orin at the small table, and appeared deep in thought, before suddenly brightening up. “Oh, I know. Here, follow my lead.” The woman hummed a few notes, and Orin was surprised that he did indeed recognize it. Kimbri had taught him at a long ago service. Seeing that, Ivory smiled. “Come, I’ll begin,” she commanded, before launching into song. Orin joined her, clumsily, out of pitch, and mumbling some of the words, but with a strong tenor nonetheless.

Oh lady of light
Guide us this night
Be a beacon unto me

Make dark into day
Show us the way
Shine bright so that I may see

She who watches for evil
Shields us from upheaval
Guards us from all that would harm

Our tears she does dry
And we no longer cry
For she will help keep us warm

Priskil, Priskil, lend us your gaze
So that we may in turn glorify you
Bathe us in your warming rays
So that we will no longer be blue

Oh light of our hope
Help us to cope
And survive all of our earthly woes

Oh shield against hate
Help us with fate
And may your own watch come to a close


The song ended and Ivory grinned happily. “Thank you for that,” she said, in what Orin could only say was genuine, but it wasn’t as if he had done, well, much of anything besides drag down what otherwise might have been a beautiful song. This whole scenario was becoming more surreal by the tick.

“You’re, ah, welcome,” he ventured, but at that moment the kettle started steaming and Ivory sprang up to get it.
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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:12 am

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“Excellent timing! Now, I’ll pour two cups – do you take anything in yours?” Orin shook his head, and Ivory poured water into the cups, which must have been filled with the leaves in advance. Bring the cups to the table, Ivory set one before Orin, and sat down with the other herself. “Now, as these are steeping, let’s talk. About you.”

“Me?” Orin asked incredulously. “But, you don’t even know who I am!” At least, Orin didn’t think she did. They’d never spoken before, and it was mind-boggling to even consider that Ivory knew of Orin. Still, he didn’t think she would be so easily mistaken.

Ivory grinned. “Well, I’d be a rather poor priestess if I didn’t know the members of my congregation.” Seeing Orin’s slack-jawed amazement, Ivory’s grin widened. “I know exactly who you are, Orin Fenix. Chef extraordinaire, humble worshipper, and deeply troubled man. “

Orin felt the color drain from his face. He didn’t want to be rude, or to say something that would upset Ivory, but he felt that this situation wasn’t going anywhere pleasant. “I’m sorry for wasting your time, but I’m fine. Really. Use your energy for someone more deserving.”

Ivory shook her head. “You prayed to Priskil. Admittedly you didn’t do so expecting a response. No one does, except for a privileged few, myself included.” Ivory wrapped her fingers around her cup and sipped it, and Orin automatically copied her, manner drilled into him from an abusive childhood where he’d been pushed towards perfection. “But, see, Priskil does listen to the true believers, and watches them too. And, as is also my privilege, and sacred duty, and joy, it is my job to act as Priskil’s mouthpiece when she cannot be here herself.” That made sense to Orin, but he still didn’t think he deserved this attention. “And to forestall further protests, know that I want to talk with you. Here, and now. It brings me pain to see one of my own hurting, when I might help. And besides, priests are meant to guide their followers. Let me do that for you.”

Orin slumped, defeated by her persistence and logic. He still didn’t understand why he, out of everyone who surely worshipped Priskil in this city, had been singled out for this. “I guess we can talk, but I don’t know if it’ll help.” Laughing, but sadly, Orin continued, “I don’t know if you heard but what’s wrong with me is something that can’t be fixed.”

Ivory drummed her fingers on the table. “There’s never harm in trying,” she retorted. “And I don’t think you’ve really tried.” As Orin opened his mouth to protest, Ivory held up her hand to stop him. “I’m not saying that you’ve done anything wrong. You’ve been doing your best with a terrible situation, and with the resources you thought you had available.” Mollified, Orin sat back, willing to listen. “Now, I think there’s a couple pieces of advice I should give you. Just listen, for now. If, at the end of all this, you don’t feel better, I’ll promise never to bother you again.” Looking at him with those piercing colorful eyes, and seemingly looking into and through him simultaneously, Ivory asked, “Deal?”

Since Orin hadn’t even thought that additional meetings might be in the picture, assuming this was a one-time meeting and tomorrow he’d be back to his regular humdrum existence, he shrugged. “Deal,” he responded, not really seeing as he had a choice in the matter. Besides, there was always the chance, however small, that this could help in some way. She must be a pretty wise woman if she was Priskil’s chosen.

Ivory nodded, and took another sip of her tea. “Excellent. Let’s get started then.” She placed her cup to the side, and Orin took another drink of the wonderful tea before setting it aside. He was willing to hear what she had to say, at least.
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[Azurite Watchtower] A Study of Light and Dark (Solo)

Postby Orin Fenix on July 14th, 2017, 11:13 am

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Ivory cleared her throat, and then steepled her fingers and rested her chin on them. “Now then, let’s begin at well, the beginning. The beginning of what I’m going to call your misconceptions.” Orin thought that was a rather tame name for what ailed him, but he was remaining silent until Ivory indicated that she was done with her preaching. “You feel lonely, all the time,” she commented. Orin felt his eyes widen. He didn’t know how she could possibly know that. It wasn’t something he advertised, even in prayer. She waved a hand, before returning it to the other and interlacing her fingers again. “I can read between the lines,” she added dryly.

Perhaps that was it, but it was still a remarkable observation. Maybe she could help Orin after all. Orin hoped so, and if there was any place for hope to prevail, it was in a Watchtower, with a priestess of Priskil by his side. The hope fluttered in his ribcage, like a butterfly trying to escape its cocoon. Ivory wasn’t anywhere near done. “That loneliness weakens you, but you’re afraid that others by your side will make the whole situation worse.” Her voice was soothing, and although she was chiding Orin’s behavior, he couldn’t bring himself to get mad at her. So instead, he simply sipped his tea, hoping to disguise his reactions better.

Ivory tilted her head, as if she could see through such an obvious ploy. Still, she had more to say to Orin. “Had it never occurred to you, though, that other people in our lives can be a source of strength?” Orin just stared at her. Of course it had occurred to him, but that didn’t change the fact that Orin’s trust issues were probably beyond any kind of help. Ivory was clearly determined to try. “You seem to think that Priskil gets through her trials alone. And I hate to contradict your misconception, that simply isn’t true.” Gesturing to the both of them, Ivory explained, “She has you, and me, and all who believe even slightly in hope. Most importantly of all, she has Aquiras, her love, by her side. Although he’s unconscious, Priskil still draws strength from him. So, even Priskil needs help every now and then. Which is why she has agents such as we on earth, to go and do what she cannot.”

Orin was forced to admit that everything that had been said so far was entirely accurate. While it only made a dent on his depression, every little bit counted. Ivory was ready to move on though, Orin could tell. “Now, the second topic for this…discussion…is the darkness you say inside.” Orin hung his head, ashamed now that his secret was out. Ivory rushed forward, not caring about what Orin was feeling at hat moment in time. “But there’s an interesting aspect to shadows that I think you’re forgetting. Ivory paused there, clearly expecting Orin to protect guess. He wasn’t any good at guessing games, and he was praying that Ivory would just move on.

Obviously, Orin wasn’t answering, so Ivory ploughed ahead. “Well, it’s a pretty easy concept. Shadows, exist, sure, but not on their own. They can’t” Orin frowned, not following what she was saying. She wasn’t done yet, so hopefully her next statement would clear up this discrepancy. “Shadows only exist because of the light, Orin,” she finally explained, still sounding peaceful. “And the brighter and higher and stronger the light, the bigger the shadow.” Ivory placed her hand over one of Orin’s. “So, let’s talk about you now. You say you have all this darkness and shadows inside of you. That it makes you unworthy of being favored by Priskil. But I say, why not think how bright a light you would have to be shining with to create shadows such as yours.” Looking at the woman, Orin could see that Ivory had a few final words for him. “You’re a good person, Orin. Only good people worry about causing others harm. But…” and here Ivory paused, as if very carefully considering her next words. “But you need to know that taking care of yourself first sometimes, and asking for help when you need it, aren’t signs of selfishness. They’re normal. Everyone need to do it.” Finally, Ivory sat back, finished with the discussion. Orin had to think about what she said, but something in this conversation was not only making sense, it was helping Orin feel better.

“Thanks. For everything.” Orin smiled, for the first time in many chimes. Ivory, for her part, also seemed pleased. She sat up and gathered both of the cups, placing them in a sink, before starting to make her way up the steps of the Watchtower. She paused, though waiting expectantly for Orin. “I think it...helped,” he continued. “I’ll have to think about all this.”

Ivory smiled. “Good. I was hoping to hear that. You think about it, and if you have questions or concerns, well, my door is always open for a fellow believer. Now I have to go!” With that, she disappeared deeper into the Watchtower. Orin was left alone with his thoughts, but this time, that fact didn’t bother him so much.
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Orin Fenix
Almost Iron But Actually Master Chef
 
Posts: 959
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Location: Riverfall
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