[The Midnight Gem] Help Wanted/Help Offered (Kelski)

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[The Midnight Gem] Help Wanted/Help Offered (Kelski)

Postby Duncan Rightstone on October 7th, 2018, 6:45 am

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Duncan took in the sound and sight of the fire burning nearby as the group took part in each other's company and words. As a man of earth as well as fire, Duncan stretched out a bit and got more comfortable with the heat of the fire warming both mind and body. He momentarily missed the heat of the forge yet the feeling was short lived as Kelski commented on what he had mentioned of his mother. In response, he lowered his gaze for a moment and said, "Alas, the only memory I have of my mother comes from her statue. Those among my people, who die in profound service to Izurdin and to the people themselves, are honored and given a place of high regard within the Kingdom. She died when I was too young to know her. My father lives. He is a priest of Izurdin as well as a Hammer like myself; a great man who I can only hope to emulate." Duncan forgot his own concerns regarding his past when Kelski described a bit of her own as well as that of Ember and Ebon. It explained why there was such a broken feeling to them all. They had lived lives that Duncan would never be able to fully understand.

He looked to Ebon and offered a respectful nod at the mention of his lost bondmate. While he didn't know what a bondmate was, he could tell that it was a great loss. To Kelski, he offered but a few words, "Nothing I can say or offer in response can change what you all have been through. I will not claim to understand it as my life has traversed a different direction. Yet, despite the different directions we've all taken, we now sit together. Izurdin tells me that such a thing is not a coincidence; that there is something more to it that should not be ignored."

Duncan considered Kelski's perspective of what Sunberth must seem like compared to his own home and his own life.

"Lady Kelski, to me, Sunberth seems like a city in need. I have only been here just over a day and I can feel the need of the people. It is the strangest of feelings...my arm..." Duncan held his sapphire arm out in front of him. "I can feel it in my arm, radiating from the mark on my shoulder and crackling down to my fingers. The people of Sunberth spiritually cry out for something different, something better. The rich, the poor, it matters not what their outward station in life may be...I can feel their cries even if I can't hear them." Indeed it was a tangible feeling for him; a reinforcement of why he was in Sunberth to begin with. Izurdin had given him the choice to go back home or travel to Sunberth and show the people a different way of life. The feeling he had, the throbbing in his arm, it was a constant reminder of the choice he'd made.

Duncan raised an eyebrow at the mention of not staying in Sunberth for long and raised it higher at the mention of becoming a member of a family at The Gem. Turning his metallic hand to show his palm to Kelski as if in an attempt to calm her concerns, he said, "Lady Kelski, I assure you, my time here will be quite long. The task Izurdin has set for me very well may require the rest of my life. If that is the case, then so be it. As far as for my time here, serving as a guardian and even, perhaps, a member of your diverse family, if you will have me, my arm is yours. It is the least I can do for the respect and hospitality you have shown me."

Duncan offered a smile to the innocence of Ember as she slept. He looked up when Kelski commented on his status as a warrior and beyond. Although he was rather in tune with who he was, what he was and what he wanted to be, he seldom gave it greater focus compared to his task to build others up to being more than they may otherwise be.

He commented on Kelski's mention of his presence. "Combat has its place. However, as a Hammer and devout of Izurdin, I have learned that the ability to fight is meaningless; anyone can learn to fight. The key is a focused mind and patience. When you are able to free your mind of those things that would otherwise distract you, disrupt your focus and challenge your patience, you can accomplish anything. Be it excelling in the art of combat, succeeding in non-combative tasks, even I would imagine in the practice of magic, finding a patient, focused center within yourself will open the rest of your mind to unimaginable things. Is it easy? Not in the slightest. The calm that I embrace comes from a special source. That source is different for everyone but for me, it is this." Duncan reached into a small pouch attached to the side of his belt. He pulled out a small silver amulet with a multi-hued blue stone in the center.

"This belonged to my mother. It was crafted by her own hand and imparted upon with a tiny sliver of her soul. You see, Izurdin gifted his children with these arms." He held his sapphire arm out closer for Ebon and Kelski to see. Silver veins seemed to rise out from the metallic surface in places, the smooth surface reflecting light in a way similar to that of polished metal mixed with polished gemstone.

"With our arm, we can shape earth, wood, stone and metal as if it were little more than clay. Extreme heat and cold are dull echoes to the arm while hammer and blade are like the buzzing of flies. The most profound gift however is the ability to impart a piece of our very souls upon those things we craft with our own hands. These things take on a bit of who and what we are depending on how close we are to Izurdin. All isur can impart upon their craft the ability to resist the elements, shrug off magical and mundane harm and stand up to all but divine threats. The closer one gets to Izurdin, the more they impart upon an item. Personality aspects are transferred to the item and even supernatural effects can arise from an item imparted upon by those closest to Izurdin. It is said that he or she who is closest, Izurdin's Champion, can impart a copy of his own soul upon his craft, essentially granting it sentience. I have seen this for my own eyes." Duncan thought briefly of his experience at The Tomb of the King hovering over the center of Sultros City.

His attention returning to the amulet hanging from his hand, "This amulet bares a piece of my mother's soul. It is from this that I am able to find the part of myself that is most patient, most focused and most at peace with who I am. For all of you, if you wish, I can help you find the same place within yourselves. It is there, whether you are able right now to see or accept it."

As a followup, Duncan smiled at Kelski's desire to become stronger. Her openness to his suggestions of building strength pleased him. He did offer a bit more, "Weight is all a matter of perspective. You are light, your body lacking the overall frame for increasing size. That can be an advantage though. Build endurance, learn to outlast your opponents. If you can't take them by force, force them to exert themselves while trying to hit you; make them spend their energy while you dodge, weave and avoid. Most individuals who have claim to strength know not how to use it. They expel it in great quantities without thought. They tire quickly and open themselves up to attacks from those of your stature. Learn where to strike, when to strike and mass, even brute strength will matter not."

As the conversation continued, Duncan turned to Ebon and the topic of medicine and offered up some additional comments. "Our thick skin is but one aspect of how we deal with healing, health and medicine. You see, as thick as our skin may be, it is not impenetrable. While it may help reduce how deep a blade sinks or how hard a blow strikes, it is but a slight barrier. Stab or swing hard enough and a wound is still a wound. Knowing how to move one's body in order to take the least damaging wound is important. Typically, we use our isurian arms to parry or block potential attacks or to brush aside potential physical threats. When this is not possible, we are taught to move our bodies in ways that reduce wound severity. A stab to the arm or leg or even the side or shoulder is much better than a stab to the gut, chest, throat or head. So when I say we approach medicine in a preventative way, I mean that we learn to move our bodies in ways to place less-essential parts in the way of harm. Even those who do not possess dense bones and flesh can learn to move their bodies in ways that essentially reduce the potential for severe wounds and thus allow for the efforts of healers such as you, Ebon, to have greater effect."

Duncan took a bit more cheese and a drink of water and smiled more. It had been so long since he'd had the ability to simple talk with anyone about anything really. Religion, faith, combat, life, they were all things that he'd missed sharing with others.

Then came the topic of magecraft. While he was somewhat familiar with it in passing; the Anvils devoting themselves to the practice of the magical art both as a form of preserving the knowledge as well as serving as a symbol of creation. Duncan chuckled softly at the thought of making mages through magecraft. "Magecraft, from what I understand it to be, is the creation of items with all manner of magical properties and abilities. It is in some ways similar to what we isur do when we impart upon one of our crafted items yet with magecraft, outside sources are used to influence what magical properties an item takes on. I don't know all the intricacies and details involved as I haven't had the the opportunity to take my studies to that stage yet. But basically, anything you can imagine, can be put into an item which can then be repeated through the item's use. Assuming you have the right ingredients to make it possible."

Duncan chuckled when the topic of food progressed. "Isur can be somewhat picky when it comes to what we eat. If you think about it for a moment, such physical mass requires a great amount of different types of foods; primarily meat. Yet the isurian body remains like this without such extreme food requirements. Despite that, our diets are unique when I compare it to what I've seen in my travels. Seafood is not for all of us but I for one love it. I've heard rumors that isur are afraid of the water. This is simply not true. We have a small naval force and many of us enjoy swimming, fishing and being as close to the water as possible. There are those of use who even lay claim to a mark or two from Laviku, God of the Sea, although those are rare. I wish I could show you the joy of eating an albino fish from Lake Sultros."

To Ebon's offer of taking him hunting, Duncan's entire posture changed. He tensed up with vaguely hidden excitement. "Ebon, to hunt with a Kelvic, especially you, I would be beyond honored."

Kelski's description of how she came to owning The Gem was something Duncan found worthy of profound respect. For the isur, engaging in business transactions, making deals and signing contracts was all a form of industrial progression and a symbol of service to Izurdin. Even if she didn't realize it, Kelski was engaging in an example of religious exercise in the name of Izurdin by building and growing a business; especially a business that relied on the craftsmanship of the business owner.

"The fact that you've gone through so much to establish this great place means that, whether you realize it or not, you are acting in service to Izurdin. He is the God of Industry. Industry is made up of business and the drive to expand and grow. For what you have done in this endeavor, you have my respect. Your struggles and the challenges you've face in doing so will be rewarded." This woman, unique and complex, was quickly revealing an unintentional tie to Izurdin. It was eye opening for Duncan as he had never imagined a non-isur to have so many qualities that Izurdin embraced. She had strength, both inner and outer, she had patience enough to endure the extremes of slavery and still endure and excel, she was able to establish a business and make it grow. If she were isur, he would not see such things as standing out. That she was not isur, not even human, it was nothing short of miraculous.

As Kelski mentioned the welcome of multiple faiths at The Gem, Duncan heard the strange sound that approached. His eyes were drawn to the tiny figure on the ground which entered the room and was picked up and placed on the nearby table by Kelski. Duncan's mouth opened slightly without his notice as he gazed upon the strange ceramic creature. When it spoke, Duncan's eyes opened wide. It's introduction came as a greater surprise as it displayed sentience and a mind of its own. While Duncan had seen examples of animated children's toys and the occasional construct of the Sentinels of the Silver Tower, known as golems, he'd never seen something quite like the creature that referred to itself as, "Little Rhaus."

In any other place, under any other circumstances, Duncan may have been overwhelmingly surprised to see such a thing. Yet, there he was sitting in a room with three Kelvics, creatures that were almost legendary among his people. He was sitting in a building that, from Kelski's description, contained all manner of fantastic magical elements and had seen things since leaving Sultros that never before could he have considered existing. Regardless, he still found no words for a few moments after encountering the little man.

When he was able to find words, he stammered, "My honor, Little Rhaus. My respect to you and your God. While my knowledge of Rhaus is next to nothing at best, I am more than willing to learn. My thanks." Duncan looked hesitantly to Kelski as if saying, "What am I getting myself into?"

"Lady Kelski, I wish I had words to fully respond to what you have shared with me this day. Just when I think I may be able to internalize and understand what you present me with, something else is revealed and I am left with more questions than I could possible ask. Is this what I have to look forward to by becoming one of you here at The Midnight Gem? If so, I ask that you hold nothing back. I offer my arm to you, The Gem and all of its interests, including Ebon, Ember and any who reside here. I will be honest and open to you in all ways as long as you show me the same respect. I can't imagine there being more to reveal than our wonderfully delightful tiny friend here...yet...is there?"
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[The Midnight Gem] Help Wanted/Help Offered (Kelski)

Postby Kelski on October 20th, 2018, 6:37 pm

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It felt like family, all of them gathered like this talking to Duncan, getting to know him. Kelski felt Kynier’s absence acutely but she knew he had to work. They all worked, in their own ways, even Ember as she struggled being so young to cook for all of them. She liked taking care of the ‘colony’ she called it… which was a word that confused Kelski until she found out mice lived in colonies and loved groups… the bigger the better. It made her happy to fuss and clean and cook. Kelski didn’t treat her like a servant either... she was part of them, as much as Ebon was as well, and gave either of the Kelvics as much love as she could. Duncan didn’t seem to find the gathering of Kelvics strange either. For that she was grateful.

Kelski had no memories of her parents and indeed nothing of family. Though she’d had a letter from her brother, she did not know if her mother and father were alive. She felt not knowing them was far better than only getting to know one’s mother from a statue. It would be a hard thing to live up too… a woman that sacrificed so much for her people.

Ebon nodded at Duncan’s words. “Indeed. Losing my bondmate was hard… the hardest thing I ever imagined. But in many ways I gained as well, in meeting Kelski and Aer’wyn and coming here. I only wish she would have lived to be here with us. She would have loved times like this and indeed meeting people like you, Duncan.” The Night Lion rumbled, his hand stretching out to pet Ember’s bare foot where it slid off Kelski’s lap. The mouse was growing so fast now she looked more like a pre-teen than a true child.

Kelski tilted her head, nodded at Duncan’s description of Sunberth, and studied his arm curiously. She knew what he meant, in a sense, because she was one of those people that were crying out for more. “Beware though Duncan. There’s something else here. There’s a darkness that hangs over the city too. It steals the joy from people and robs them of happiness. They loose hope and darkness rises in them. Sometimes it subverts them. Sometimes it makes them stronger. It accentuates character flaws for sure. And it brings forward weaknesses. We don’t understand it, but one cannot ignore it either. It will affect you as well. The way to fight it is with acknowledging it rather than ignoring it, and surrounding yourself with the kind of people that fight it. I believe that you might even be one of those people… “ Kelski said gently, hoping he would take her seriously because indeed she was serious.

“I’m glad you will be here at length. So many people aren’t. And you look strong enough to thrive in the city, even if its not your lovely Kingdom. I’m sorry for what happened to you to bring you here, but I am also grateful to your God Izurdin that he wills you to be here and help these people if you can indeed help them.” She added, then smiled. Kelski liked how he wanted to consider himself ‘family’ already instead of just a guardian. “We’d like that too. We really would.” She added, wanting him to understand that it was only through being family – as unrelated as they were – that they could all sincerely be themselves and be stronger with each other around.

“I feel like Akajia might not argue with this either. We need guidance, strength, and honestly it feels less like we need that in the way of combat, but instead we need it in the way of here…. “ Kelski said, touching her chest. “… and here.” She said, touching her forehead. “We need to learn trust… to lean on each other. We need to be stronger and teach those around us to be stronger as well. I feel like it’s the way we can counter this…. thing that hangs over Sunberth.” Kelski said, being serious despite the almost ridiculousness of what she was discussing. Hardened denizens of the city would have laughed outright at what she was saying, but she didn’t mind opening up to Duncan.

Ember muttered in her sleep and shifted. Kelski soothed her with a kiss and stroking her head a moment before smiling at Ebon who studied the younger Kelvic almost fondly.

Duncan had interesting things to say about focus and patience. Kelski listened in silence and then leaned closer to study the silver amulet he held out showing her. It was excellent craftsmanship and she admired how it was put together.

Her eyes widened when she heard the phrase ‘imparted with a sliver of her soul’. That made sense. It had a tinge of life to it, something the Master Jewelcrafter could sense. It held a stone she would have set aside with her ‘special stones’ she ran across periodically. Kelski could not tell why they were special, but as a Master Jewelcrafter, she knew there was something utterly different about them from stones that otherwise looked identical. She didn’t know what to say, staring at the piece, only that she was happy for him and sad for herself who had nothing of her parents and didn’t even know their faces.

He moved on quickly though… thankfully. And she turned her head away as Ebon glanced sharply at her, noting how she gripped her niece more fiercely even though the mouse in human form slept deeply and peacefully cradled in arms that loved her. The Night Lion missed little and knew Kelski keenly felt the lack of family, constantly trying to build one up around her. He worried too, because all was not exactly right in their world despite her efforts.

Kelski knew nothing of Isur and all she was learning from Duncan was astonishing. She studied his arm as he described it, and nodded as he talked more about Izurdin whom she tended to think of in respectful terms now. Even Little Rhaus was listening actively and she could tell a song or two would be forthcoming soon with new subjects, perhaps even one about Duncan’s mother. The act of imparting one’s soul or at least pieces of it upon items that were just…. things…. felt astonishing to her. “Does it not hurt the soul to be so broken up if it happens a great deal? I can see how lovely it would be to have a piece of her or even the sentience of a God’s Champion….” This was the first time she’d even remotely heard the term ‘champion’ but Kelski was smart enough to realize three marks meant priest or priestess… and that there was more beyond. She figured this was the ‘more’…. but as Duncan told it, there were prices paid. The world was full of such things.

He moved on, and she nodded, following his course changes in the conversation easily… in fact glad for them. What he said about her weight and made sense and she smiled. “I often feel the lack of size. I try to be fast, lithe, and agile.” She said, nodding to his words about increasing her endurance so she could outlast her opponents. There was good advice there, especially about stronger individuals and how they wore themselves out not saving their energy. She took note of all he said and stored it for later training… along with the previous advice she already had stored about jogging in the sea water, raising her legs higher making them stronger with the force of the water acting to help strengthen her that he’d said earlier on.

Ebon too listened to what Duncan had to say. Kelski was curious as well, openingly studying Duncan as he spoke. The two were leaning over listening eagerly, smiling at each other as Duncan talked about reducing wound severity, how to protect his core, and their approach to medicine being preventative. It made a lot of sense to Ebon while that part of the conversation was a bit lost on Kelski though she got the general idea. She didn’t have a clue about preventative medicine or medicine at all, but she did understand diversifying ones exercise and moving ones body in a way that puts the less-essential parts in harms way. Dagger training had taught her that. Kelski nodded even as Ebon did so as well. The Isur was open and spoke in a fascinating way about his strange people from across the sea. And having him here somehow made not having Aer’wyn a bit easier… for they missed the Akalak terribly.

Kelski noted the meaning of magecraft and what it was. It sounded like another magic. Kelski wondered if Kynier knew about it. Probably. She wondered if Magecrafting was something she could do to jewelery. The thought intrigued her. And she listened even as she filed the fact away in the back of her mind for later. The conversation had already moved on to food. Kelski liked the topic and was glad they were speaking of it.

As Duncan spoke, Kelski felt like she knew a little bit about The Isur now and their homeland. They even liked fish – at least some of them – so that was good enough for her. She could imagine the albino fish from the lake and even the white shrimp he’d talked about. Mushrooms were easy to get, even in Sunberth where variations of food were rare.

Hunting? They could all go. She smiled at Ebon’s offer, glad for it, and glad that Duncan was willing. Half their meat was hunted. “Truth be told if we didn’t hunt or fish, with the amount of people we have here at The Gem, our food budget would impede my ability to pay off my business loans. So anything you and Ebon can bring in would be gratifying. That’s why I also ask you go help with the groceries on the days you must cook. I don’t charge board, but the food bills would be outrageous if everyone didn’t help.” Kelski said, a smile to soften the fact she did indeed expect the denizens to contribute.

It didn’t take long for the conversation to move further, and Kelski nodded hearing more about Izurdin. The Gods slightly fascinated her, though she knew very little about them other than her Akajia. Industry was a hard concept for the Kelvic to understand. She wouldn’t admit it to Duncan, for he seemed to be an expert and she didn’t want to embarrass herself, but she didn’t understand how growing a business would fit into the concept of industry. Perhaps Remmy had a book on industry, because the concept wasn’t something Kelski was familiar with nor could she piece it together when Duncan talked about businesses and their drive to expand and grow. She tilted her head thoughtfully, and studied the Isur trying to piece it together.

Later…. She told herself. She’d ask later if her research wouldn’t bear fruit.

It didn’t matter. Little Rhaus saved the day by promptly saying…. “An Isur! How delightful! I know many songs from your land if you are ever homesick for the music of your people, I’ll be glad to play you some tunes and sing you some songs. Even ballads. I know quite a few about King Sultros.” He said happily, loving not only a captive audience, but one that was varied. The Kelvics were all well and good, but they liked everything and honestly several of them had no real discernable taste. But here… an Isur! The little magical statue was delighted. He sat on the edge of the coffee table and swing his little legs, thinking even now he wanted to play a tune.

Little Rhaus slipped out his lute from where it rested against his back and strummed across its keys, looking happy and thoughtful as he strummed. Before long he hit the opening keys to a well-known shanty the Isur sometimes sang as they worked at forges. It was about the potential of metal and how each and every element held a spark of hope. Each strike of the hammer fueled the spark into a flame and those flames created the future, paving the way for more potential, more hope, more sparks to craft into flames. Kelski listened intently, somehow understanding more about industry through that song than she could have researching at Remmy’s half the day. Ebon looked attentive as well. Ember even woke a bit, smiled at Rhaus, and promptly drifted off again. Kelski smiled and stroked her hair gently even as she studied Duncan.

When Little Rhaus’ song was done, Kelski quietly asked. “So… what do you like to do for fun, Duncan? I feel like we know you so much better after tonight, and we understand more about your people, your honor and what drives you. But what makes you happy? I know that is different for all of us… myself included. I was just curious what it meant for you?” She asked, thoughtfully reaching out to adjust Little Rhaus’ lute strap were it was getting twisted around his ceramic hair.
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