Closed Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Kelski and Kailani meet over a young troubled mother.

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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kelski on October 15th, 2018, 11:06 pm

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Timestamp: 36th of Fall, 518 A.V.

The young woman stared at the two older women with disbelief in her eyes. “What? I don’t understand. You said it would be okay if I was a little short this week… that I could still see Caitlyn.” Mercy said softly, her eyes growing wide and taking on a desperate sort of hue to her already watering gaze. “My bells got cut at the laundry. There just wasn’t the business this tenday for some reason. It should be better next tenday. I’m already working on other options for cash. I even skipped meals last week to make that payment. At least let me hold her for five chimes…. I just need to see her. Please….” The young woman begged, tears she didn’t want to shed – a weakness she didn’t want to show to these two women she was slowly learning were heartless – were already collecting in her eyes and trailing down her cheeks.

The two women looked at each other. Their expressions were unreadable and hard. And yet the door swung open further to allow the young woman admittance. One of the older women leaned heavily on a cane and walked backwards, her cane tapping at the hardwood of the old rambling house that was more or less intact. It was one of the few in that section that had a roof that seemed whole. The other woman held the door. “Come in.” She said, without inflection. She held the door wider, as if seemingly giving in to the young woman’s urgings, and allowed her in. But their welcome wasn’t really ‘welcoming’.

The older of the two women shook her head. “You signed a contract. You must pay on time or no visitations. And if you don’t pay the full tenday board, we can’t feed and care for your baby properly. We aren’t a bank or Goldfinger. We have many many families that want these children, Mercy. And we won’t hesitate to hand them over especially since this has become a habit with you.” She said viciously, low under her breath.

The second woman slammed the door and locked it after admitting Mercy, even as the first woman turned on her. She moved fast, brutal, and was swift with her cane. The younger woman was unprepared, tired, and half-starved from skipping meals to pay for her baby’s board. It only took two blows to the head and she was down. Ribs cracked under the merciless cane. Mercy tried to run, staggering up to her feet and taking flight with what was left of her determination to see her child. She passed through the parlor where the main visitations always happened and through what looked like a kitchen with the older women in pursuit. She tripped over something on the floor – a toy perhaps – and staggered but kept running… the blows to her head affecting her ability to think.

Desperately, she crossed another doorway, staggered down a hall, and was into a bigger main room lined with cribs. The two older women were right behind her. The room stank of filth and death. Crib after crib contained children, some labeled with battered child-sized chalkboards with carelessly scrawled names, some with just X’s. The ones with X’s were starved, thin beyond recognizing them as human… while the ones with scrawled names were filthy, most too weak to cry…. but alive. One or two coughs could be heard along with small sounds weak sick. Mercy ran along the aisle between cribs, frantically reading names until she saw Caitlyn’s crib… her name had been scrawled – barely erased – and a big white X had been put on the board with chalk. Her daughter looked up at her with hollow eyes, barely moving, her tiny weak form holding onto its life with frail bonds. A fly crawled across her forehead, big and ugly, the kind that bit and sucked blood.

Mercy staggered then, understanding why they didn’t want to let her see her child. No coin? No food. Even as Mercy reached for the tiny bundle in the filthy cradle, the two women who had been in pursuit reached her. Blows began to rain down on her as she stared at her daughter, wanting her, yet unable to get to her. It was hard, so hard, seeing her daughters sunken in blue eyes watching the women beat her.

Then everything went dark.

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Kelski had left Moth back at The Midnight Gem. There was no cart horse or cart needed for errands in The Market. Instead, Kelski was running. She liked to run and often took them through the city, usually armed and more than capable of defending herself. She had already done the shopping, and had gotten a lot of work done in the workshop. She just needed to get out, clear her head, and recharge to spend a long night finishing several projects that were time sensitive and complex. Kelski could have worked through the burnout, but she’d learned since opening The Gem that it was far better to get out and clear her head than to keep trying to turn out good work when she wasn’t in her best frame of mind.

So she was doing a little recon, wandering the streets at a light jog, really paying attention to the normal sounds of the various street types – mud, broken cobble, stone, packed earth – so that she could put it to use when she was trying to pass quietly through the same textured materials. It was one of the things Kalitz had told her to pay attention to… to study… to memorize. So she was… jogging and listening… memorizing how her boots sounded splashing through mood and dodging steaming piles of horse offal in the streets. She was listening to other things as well, the sounds of Sunberth, as her breath came in even bursts and she tried to move herself carefully through the city learning. It was odd looking at ones environment that way… memorizing sounds she’d paid no attention to before.

Kelski cut back through the Market, kept her pace, and ended up at the end of it near the water where Svefra routinely moored their boats looking for fares to take across the broken bridges. When she turned to skirt the river bank adjacent to the Market, still listening, she thought she heard it. It was faint… croaked like a frog… but she was sure it was the word ‘help’. Kelski halted, tilted her head, and swiveled around. She was on a bank up above the river overlooking the moorings with the market at her back. She looked out across the river, back towards the market, and finally down.

That’s when she thought she saw a bundle of trash, something pushed off the street… except it had hair. Kelski refocused her eyes, shifted her vision into her classic eagle sight, and scanned the form. It was something wrapped in a filthy blanket and she could see marks where it was dumped off the edge, probably rolled down the bank, and had come to rest among other trash. She could see an arm that had come loose, fingers twitching….

Kelski immediately figured it for a person murdered and the body disposed of. Sometimes people did that, too lazy to drive them or carry them all the way to the slag heap to toss them on. Should she investigate? Should she just walk away? Women in Sunberth were rarely innocent. And the ones that were innocent didn’t live long and often ended up like the women below seemed to have. It was none of her business… but then again Ebon had been none of her business… and look what a friend he was? She cursed softly under her breath and started looking for a way down.


Last edited by Kelski on October 21st, 2018, 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kailani on October 18th, 2018, 7:17 pm

“A bundle of harpoon bolts, and I’ll take one of those daggers, please,” Kailani told the blacksmith as she handed over her coin. The tent was set up in the same place as it had been the last time she was there, but it was a different smith. Perhaps they worked together? Or was the Market truly that transient? The man gave a gruff nod as he handed the weapons over. “Thank you,” the Svefra told him as she accepted her purchases and tucked them into her pack.

The blue-eyed seafarer hadn’t intended to be back at the Market so soon, but her fight outside of Killroy’s Kennels had only further driven home the point that one could never be too careful. A brand new dagger lost the day it was acquired, buried in the ribs of a would-be thief while Kailani ran for her life. She could only be thankful she’d had the foresight to purchase the weapons that day. If she hadn’t, something told her she would have made it out with much worse than a black eye…if she’d even made it out at all.

Kailani didn’t like to dwell on such things; she preferred reveling in the life she still held. The woman had so much she still wanted to do-she had no intention of dying on the streets in some common brawl. When she went out, she intended to do so in a blaze of glory. Not by the hands of some street rat.

These were the things that occupied her mind as she walked back to her casinor, when her musings were interrupted by a sudden noise on the river bank. Instantly on alert, Kailani reached for the hilt of the punching dagger in her pack. She turned in a slow circle as she tried to identify its source when she heard the sound again, coming from what appeared to be a pile of trash sitting at the edge of the water. Was that…was that a hand? Oceanic eyes narrowed as she fought to make out the vague shape before the sound cut through the air again. This time, she was sure it was a voice. One who meant well or ill, she did not know, but the woman didn’t hesitate. Setting her pack more firmly on her shoulders, she headed down the river bank toward the shape that had made the sound.

As she got closer, the noise became clearer-“Help,” over and over in a weak female voice. Perhaps if she’d been in Sunberth longer, she might have ignored the plea and dismissed it as a trap, but as it was, Kailani had a kind heart. She could be selfish, and she could be petty, but the sailor still cared about her fellow man. It seemed even more necessary in a city that couldn’t care less.

When Kailani at last found the source of the cries, her hands flew to her mouth. The woman laying on the bank was beyond pitiful-bruises dotting every inch of her exposed flesh while blood bubbled past her lips. She’d clearly been beaten within an inch of her life, but why and by who sent her mind reeling. Were they close by? Was this a trap, after all? Or had they just left her here to die?

Mindless of the filth and squalor surrounding them, Kailani knelt in the mud next to the woman and gently took her hand. Light as a feather, she brushed a few strands of sweat and blood-matted hair back from the stranger’s face and gazed down into her pain-stricken eyes. “Who did this to you?” the Svefra whispered as the woman clutched at her hand with all the strength that remained to her.

The woman Kailani held hardly seemed to understand the question, a violent cough wracking her body. Blood splattered her lips and the front of Kai’s shirt, the pitiful creature managing only to groan, “C-Caitlyn…” Her grip on the Svefra’s hand suddenly became deathly tight as she met her eyes with sudden lucidity. “Y-you have t-to…help h-her…” Another coughing fit seized the woman’s shuddering form as Kailani stared at her helplessly, at a loss for what to do. Who was Caitlyn? How could she help her?

Kailani looked up as another woman just barely came into view, waving her hand around to catch the other’s attention. “Please! Help!” Her voice was much stronger than the one she held, and hopefully could pull this new stranger in faster. “This woman is dying!”

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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kelski on November 4th, 2018, 10:33 pm

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Kelski half jumped and half slid down the slope, her daggers drawn as she let the mud carry her partway to what she’d originally assumed was a pile of trash. Another woman had come into view, this one less hindered and looking very much alive and healthy. She was pretty in an exotic way, and carried burdens from the market that looked an awful lot like weapons. Harpoons? Was she Svefra then? Kelski wasn’t sure, but the body below looked more and more like it was still alive rather than fully expired. Seeing the other woman, however, gave Kelski pause and she adjusted her course down the slope to bring her away from the body and to stable ground well away from the woman crying for help.

Cries for help in Sunberth were more often than not traps. When she reached the solid bank of the river that splayed out in firm gravel and not eroding slope the Kelvic turned and surveyed the area thoroughly. She looked past the seemingly healthy woman and the half-dead bundle and looked for anywhere ambush could be hiding. She even checked out over the water, suspicious and wary.

“Do you know her?” Kelski asked, moving closer, but only slowly and cautiously. “This looks a lot like an ambush. People don’t throw bodies out like this… they throw them on the slag heap unless they are laying traps or looking for those stupid enough to stop and help a dying woman or stupid enough to stop and rob one.” Kelski said, examining the woman and then and only then letting her eyes drop to the other. She focused carefully, halting completely, and then gently knelt so she balanced with her rump perched on her heels. It was then and only then her silver eyes met the beaten woman’s and she saw the truth of pain in them… deeper pain… soul pain…. beyond that of a beating.

“Who is Caitlyn?” Kelski asked softly, dropping the tone of her voice and letting the suspicion drain out of it. Silver eyes glanced up, met the Svefra woman’s, and then dropped again to the woman sprawled between them. “And how does she need help?” Kelski was a person that got to the point, especially when pain and suffering was involved. And while she was asking, Kelski was quietly pulling back the trash and filthy the woman had been seemingly thrown into, and saw the ugly wounds. She wasn’t one to hold punches, and the woman was in bad shape. Being no healer, and being quite a ways a way from one she would rely on, Kelski had no idea what to do.

The Kelvic waited, calm, knowing life swung in balance in Sunberth all the time. She couldn’t carry the woman somewhere safe where she could get treatment. She hadn’t brought Moth and the cart. The other woman didn’t look strong enough to carry the woman either. So instead, she gently urged the woman to tell them what she knew.

“Who’s Caitlyn?” She asked again, more firmly. “We can’t help if we don’t know…” The Kelvic said gently but firmly. The Kelvic glanced up at the Svefra again, curiously concerned.

The woman, finding strength somewhere…. began to speak in broken gasps that might have been sobs if she would have had more energy. “My name is Mer… Mercy. I had a child… Caitlyn… but I am on my own and my living… arrangements don’t allow babies. I… I had no one to care for her while I was at work. I work at a l… laundry. There is a place… a big brick house near the gated community… two blocks over, in part of the ruined city… it stands alone in a bunch of roofless buildings. Two.. two old ladies run it. They … I was told they take in children, babies especially, for … coin. I paid them to care for her, but my hours got cut. They won’t feed her if I won’t pay their board and they won’t let me see her. I broke in, pushed past them… the babies were… so horrible… no food, in filth…. and they hit me.. paid the coal man who delivers coal to dump me on the heap… but he didn’t take me that far. I want… I want… my daughter safe. She’ll die in there… they said I… they said if I didn’t pay they’d sell her… give her to another family that wants her… but … I didn’t see any families lined up. I think… they kill them.” Mercy croaked, tears trailing down her face.

Kelski couldn’t tell if they were tears of physical pain or emotional pain.

So, she reached out and touched the broken woman, laying her hand on her cheek. “I’m sorry.” She said, understanding how it was to be lied to and what it felt like to be betrayed. Kelski glanced up at the other woman. She had no idea what to do, but it seemed the thing to do was to stop the baby house or whatever it was from killing any more children. But what about Mercy…

“They lied to you. They hurt your baby when you put faith in them.” Kelski said, understanding, and the woman nodded, finally allowing herself to cry. Crying slightly baffled the Kelvic who rarely did it and always seemed surprised when it happened to her. “I can help… maybe find her. But I don’t know how to help you. Where do you live?” She asked suddenly, not sure if she could get Mercy to safety to even reunite the woman with her child.

Though the woman’s voice was soft, almost broken, she mentioned a boarding house for young women not very distant. Kelski glanced up at the slope then at the woman.

“Should we take her home? The city doctor is not safe to take anyone too. And the one doctor I know of is to far from here.” She said suddenly, deciding to deal with the problem in front of her before she even remotely attempted to deal with a baby boarding house. Kelski wasn’t fond of the idea of carrying the woman, but there really wasn’t time to go home and get her cart and getting her to The Gem to get into Ebon’s healing hands wasn’t an option for the two women on foot. She could hire a wagon, but they would probably balk at carrying an obviously beaten woman as cargo rather than regular freight.

It was a dilemma and Kelski had no idea how to proceed.

Word Count: 1095

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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kailani on November 5th, 2018, 4:41 am

“I don’t know her,” Kailani replied softly in accented Common, looking down at the woman before pulling a waterskin from her pack. Pressing it to her charge’s lips, she gently encouraged the other to drink—letting her take her fill before stowing it away again. The Svefra looked up at the newcomer with a half-hearted smile. “So I guess I’m just one of the stupid ones.”

She looked on with mild curiosity as the stranger knelt across from her, noting with satisfaction as the other started clearing away the debris. The woman might speak of the foolishness of helping a stranger, but here she was doing it herself. Perhaps they were both the stupid ones.

The Svefra woman listened with interest and slowly dawning horror as Mercy wove her tale. She’d known Sunberth was a cruel city, but this? This was beyond deplorable…this was downright evil. Visceral rage formed a tangled knot in her stomach as the woman relayed her grief-filled account, the pain clearer on Mercy’s face with each mention of Caitlyn. Kailani couldn’t imagine the torment, the pure terror upon finding one’s child in such circumstances. How could anyone be so cruel to infants? It made her blood boil.

Were there others that knew of this? There had to be, if the proprietors of the establishment were able to continue on. They had to have other patrons…were any of them aware of the conditions they placed their children under? Why was there no public outcry over this? Because it’s Sunberth, Kailani silently answered her own question. Everyone is too busy making sure they can stay alive to worry about others.

Tears filled Kailani’s own eyes as Mercy finished her heart wrenching story, though she impatiently blinked them away. There was no time for her futile weeping, not while this woman lay dying. Now was the time for action, to do what she could for an innocent soul. For the first time since Mercy began her story, Kailani spoke, “Don’t worry, Mercy. We’ll find a way to stop this. We’ll do what we can to keep your daughter safe.” She lumped the other stranger in with her own intentions—obviously the dark-haired woman sought to help Mercy, as well. Circumstance had thrust them together, and it would seem they were both determined to follow through.

Kailani looked over Mercy’s prone form into the other woman’s unusual silver eyes. “How far away is your doctor?” she asked. “There’s no way she can stand, but if we can get her to my casinor, we might be able to save her.” She gestured down the riverbank toward the shoddy pier where her small vessel was anchored. A brindle Akinva Deerstalker stood guard over the boat, snapping and growling at any who came too close.

“I can’t lift her on my own, but perhaps together, we can manage,” the Svefra went on, looking down at Mercy’s agonized face and feeling that knot of rage in her gut harden. She was only a woman who sought to take care of her child, and the thought of such loathsome people taking advantage of that base instinct…Kailani could only see red. One gentle hand stroked lightly down the side of the woman’s face. They had to set this right.

“The river is the fastest way to travel in Sunberth. So long as she can hold on that long, I can get to her most places in a matter of minutes.” She glanced at the dark-haired stranger. “At this point, it’s probably our only option besides just leaving her here. And I certainly don’t intend to do that,” she went on to reassure Mercy, whose eyes had widened in alarm. “Something tells me there won’t be anyone else nearby willing to help. I think we’re on our own here.”

She rose to her feet, giving a single attempt to wipe some of the grime from her ruined pants. Quickly realizing it was a futile effort, she gave up; it wasn’t like she was all that worried about the garment, anyway. Kailani reached down to prop up the woman’s head and shoulders, wrapping her arms around Mercy’s torso as gently as she could. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “This is probably going to hurt.”

Kai indicated for the other woman to grab her legs. “If we lift her at the same time, it should be easier. Luckily, she doesn’t seem too heavy. I think we should be able to manage.” She took a deep breath as she prepared for the lift. “I’m Kailani, by the way,” she added as an afterthought. The three women had unknowingly been thrown in this together. They ought to at least know each other’s names.

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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kelski on November 28th, 2018, 4:47 am

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Kelski rose from where she was kneeling next to the injured woman Mercy on the ground and studied the Svefra woman briefly. She seemed to have a plan… a plan that involved a boat that she was going to sail where exactly? Kelski didn’t know the woman, either woman for that matter, and in her mind, it was horrible that the young mother gave her child over to strangers and paid for her care without seeing to it herself. It was easy to judge others and their circumstances Kelski knew, but that would never have been something Kelski would have done… either to a friend or her own child. But Kelski couldn’t have stomached the thought and would never place herself in a situation where she couldn’t care for herself. She simply made do and made things happen. She saw such things as a weakness in others.

Mercy was weak. Kelski thought it and almost felt guilty at the thought. But it was true nonetheless. Humans had that tendency, she’d noted. Females liked to place themselves in positions where they were dependent upon males or stayed within their niches in the society they were born too. They often didn’t rise above mundane labor and never dreamed bigger or told themselves they could do something…. or gave themselves permission to do more than just survive. She thought it sad now so many of them did not really live. Mercy wasn’t living. She’d gifted a child into the world and then gave it into the care of others rather than change her life so she could raise it by her side and still earn the money she needed to do so. Life wasn’t as complicated as people made it seem. From her Kelvic’s perspective, humans made so many mistakes and brought each other down, never assisting anyone in rising above. Was it jealousy? Was it selfishness? She dealt with it on a daily basis, witnessing it in her own world.

People were out for themselves. Leaving Mercy to die would be the easiest thing to do. Saving Mercy would be harder. But then what would Mercy do with that life if it was given a second chance? Would she change her situation or continue on the same path that had lead to the beating and her child’s life being in danger? It wasn’t the first time Kelski regretted that she could not see the future.

All these thoughts passed through her mind as the Svefra woman listened to Mercy’s story and grew angry. Kelski could see the emotion on her face. Disbelief. Anger which changed to rage. Then a quiet acceptance. She believed Mercy. And then her eyes grew overbright as if she were fighting tears. Kelski wasn’t sure what there was to weep over, and was ultimately glad when the Svefra didn’t cry.

Kelski opened her mouth to protest when the other woman said they would help. She’d asked the other woman’s advice and input, but ultimately, she wasn’t making a decision… not yet. Help? By the Gods! She understood time was short, but Kelski didn’t rush into things that might not be what they seemed without thought. And she certainly didn’t do it without a plan. Kailani… as the woman introduced herself, seemed to have a plan though. Kelski mulled it over in her mind, glancing at the boat and the woman, considering. She took a step back, glanced at the river, then towards the sea. She lifted her head up, seemed to scent the wind, and glanced around. All the while her mind worked quickly, judging how much time, what it would take, and then she nodded more to herself than to the other woman.

She nodded, and leaned forward to grab the woman’s legs as the Svefra directed. The Kelvic probably could have carried the woman herself if she would have gotten under her the right way. But the two man lift, as awkward as it was, seemed to do the trick. The two women sloshed through the mud and debris of the riverbank to where the casino was moored. Kelski kept a wary eye on the dog as they got close to the dock, but stayed with Kailani and Mercy, assisting the former in moving the latter onto the ship. Once they got on the ship, Kelski paused, until they made sure Mercy was comfortable.

Then she revealed more information about the doctor.

“The doctor and I can meet you close to the confluence of the Mudway with the sea. If you can put in somewhere close to that place, we’ll meet you on the shore.” Kelski said, slowly pulling off her pack. She unzipped her backpack and opened its top flap pulling out the drawstring that kept the bag closed beneath the leather flap. She kicked off her boots, pulled off her brace of daggers, and quickly stripped out of her clothing. “I’m Kelski.” She added, almost as an afterthought as she pulled her clothing off until she was dressed in nothing more than the skin she was born in. She tossed the backpack into the air, dissolved into a swirl of colored lights, and reformed as a large silver and white sea eagle with black points. The bird flapped its seven-foot wingspan twice before it caught the backpack neatly out of the air, and took off in the general direction of the Mudway Delta.

Kelski flew as if her tail feathers were on fire, cutting across town not in a straight line, but in a pattern that would lose her against the silver sky. She wanted to go get Ebon, but she didn’t exactly want to bring the Svefra and the human Mercy to her home. Kelski flew fast but circled, coming in eventually for a landing on her deck. She shifted, didn’t bother with the clothing, and dashed into the store hoping no customers were about. Luckily there were none. Ebon was cleaning. When he took one look at her, and the fact she flipped the sign to ‘closed’ and locked the front retail door and went to get his bag.

“Whats going on?” He asked, waiting none to patiently as Kelski quickly redressed.

“There’s a woman that’s been beaten. She’s in a bad way. I’m not sure you can help her, but we should try. There’s a sad story and there’s going to be bloodshed before the night’s over because of this woman.” Kelski said, dashing downstairs to retrieve her crossbow and two quivers of bolts. She returned in short order, and Ebon was ready with a bag that looked like it had been stuffed with herbs, salves, and bandages.

Together, they ran out onto the deck, headed down the path, through the gate, and down the trail to the beach. Then they moved north up the coast and turned inland where they waited by the mouth of the Mudway to see if the Svefra would show up.

In the meantime, while they waited, Kelski filled Ebon in on what she knew about Mercy and her situation. Ebon nodded. “I’ve heard of these before, Kelski. They are called baby farms. They are common in cities like Sunberth. Humans work hard and are too busy to raise their own young, so they pay others to do it for them. Only often the infants die because the caretakers aren’t actually taking care of them but starving or deliberately sickening them and then pocketing the money. Sometimes they even sell the babies, Kelski… to women that want to use them as their own gain. I’ve even seen them hand the still-living infants off to dog breeders or in Ravok to the people that raise the bloodbanes, and they feed them to the the animals still alive.” He said softly, his eyes looking haunted.

Kelski looked at him incredulously. “Humans are horrible.” She simply said after a moment, seeing that Kailani’s ship was coming into view. “I don’t know if this woman deserves to be saved or not. I hate them so much, Ebon… almost all of them are rotten.” Kelski added, and the other kelvic nodded.

“Some are… but some are very good people, Kelski. Don’t forget that. This might be a way to get this woman to change. We’ll take a chance.” He said firmly and the Sea Eagle nodded to the Night Lion. They could try. They could make a difference. And maybe just maybe Mercy would see that she needed to raise her own child and arrange her life so that such a thing was possible. It wouldn’t be easy.. not as easy as handing her child off to someone else. But if she really loved Caitlyn, then she’d make it happen.

As for Kailani… she’d see Kelski standing with a strange dark-haired man holding a doctors bag just where she said they’d be. There were no docks to tie up too but it was easy enough to beach the Casinor if necessary, on the mud banks of the river. The true sand was on the ocean side, meaning the beach on this side was mud and sawgrass… an unpleasant combination. But anywhere Kailani decided to put into shore at, Kelski and Ebon would rejoin her so the Kelvic Doctor could see to Mercy’s care.

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Kelski
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kailani on December 2nd, 2018, 6:36 am

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“Shut your petching mouth, you rat-stinking bastard!” Kailani shouted in Fratava at her barking, snarling dog as she and the other woman carried Mercy toward her casinor. The Svefra had bought Kona as a means of protection, but there were times when he took his job a bit too seriously. She would have to teach him the difference between friends and enemies soon enough; it’d be just her luck he’d go after the wrong person and get himself killed.

Kona almost immediately silenced at the rare harshness of her tone, his look resentful as he slunk back toward the helm. She cast him a sidelong look, one which he pointedly ignored, before they carried Mercy to her cabin and settled the woman in her bed. Kailani carefully wrapped the blankets around her quivering form, trying not to think of the inevitable bloodstains in her bedclothes. “You’ll be safe here,” she told her softly before heading back on deck with her unexpected companion.

The woman then began to speak again of the doctor, telling her she could meet them in a different place. The sailor couldn’t really blame her for the lingering air of vague suspicion; they were all three strangers, and had no real reason to trust each other. Sunberth was a dangerous place, and most people were only concerned with themselves. What was altruism among thieves?

“The Mudway. Got it,” Kailani confirmed as the woman spoke, blinking rapidly as she started removing her clothing. What was she doing? Not that she was one to complain of a naked woman aboard her ship, but it was admittedly unusual…

Kailani looked up curiously, eyebrow raised as the woman who called herself Kelski threw her pack up above them, but before she could even utter the question, a flash of swirling light split the air. A giant bird took Kelski’s place, flying off in the direction of the ocean. “Well, then,” was Kailani’s rather understated response, clearing her throat as she started preparing her casinor to sail. Since she’d come to Sunberth, she’d encountered a possessed shark, a Katalimaru, and strange folks of all walks of life… why not a shapeshifting eagle? “Suppose that explains the eyes.” She’d marvel about it later, when there wasn’t a dying woman aboard her ship.

Face set in determination, the Svefra undid the ties holding The Sunset Tide in place before raising the sails. Pushing off, the wind caught the canvas, and the casinor was on its way down the river. Kailani adjusted the tiller to make better use of the wind before heading back up to the wheel. Kona still sulked nearby, but she had more important things to worry about than his offended pride. Time was not a commodity she currently possessed.

An agonized groan drifted from the cabin, her dog’s ears perking up at the sound. “Hold on, Mercy!” she called out to the woman, glancing backward for the barest of moments. “It won’t be long, I swear!” Silence met her shouted assurance, and Kailani hoped that wasn’t a bad sign.

Sunberth rushed by in a blur as the Svefra sailed down the river toward the sea, Kailani mulling over the woman Mercy’s story. What had this woman been through, to be so desperate to pass her child’s care off to another? Growing up in a Svefra pod, she could hardly conceive of such a notion. The entire group raised the children; there was no handing them off to anyone else. Unless they’re born a little too different, she reminded herself with a twist of her mouth, but she shoved that thought away for later. There’d be time enough in the future to contemplate the cruelties of her people. There was an entirely different cruelty she was concerned with now.

How could anyone starve a baby? she thought instead, recalling the wretched details of the vile place Mercy had described. Making money or no, how could anyone be so simply… heartless? Something so innocent, so helpless, just… how? And to witness such atrocity happen to one’s own child; Kailani couldn’t imagine the horror Mercy must have felt. To have trusted someone with the most precious thing in her life, only to discover such abuse… it was a nightmare, there was no other way to put it.

It was only the work of a few chimes before The Sunset Tide was sailing up to their agreed upon destination, Kailani slowing the vessel’s progress as they pulled up onto the muddy bank of the river. It didn’t take her long to spot Kelski and who she assumed was the promised doctor, raising her hand to acknowledge their presence and announce her own. She didn’t bother with lowering the sails or any other such nonsense. Entrenched in the mud, her ship wasn’t going anywhere. She couldn’t say the same for her passenger.

Running back to her cabin, she went inside to check on Mercy, the frail woman uncomfortably quiet. Her skin was cold and clammy, and her breathing was shallow, but Kailani was relieved to find she was still alive. Let’s hope she was aptly named and the gods will find mercy on her now, she thought as she gently squeezed her hand. If only for little Caitlyn’s sake.

Heading back up on deck, she called out to Kelski and the dark-haired man beside her, “She’s holding on, but I don’t know how much longer!” Kailani hurriedly gestured for them both to come aboard, lowering a rope ladder over the side. The way she saw it, it would be much easier for them to come to Mercy than it would be for her to try to carry the woman off, and the quicker the doctor could see her, the better. The Svefra offered her hand for aid, should they need it, before glaring over at Kona, who’d started up his barking again. She loved the dog dearly, but damn it all if he wasn’t like to drive her mad!

The dog didn’t seem too fond of the unusual pair, hackles raised as he backed up against the ship’s hull. “Would you cut it out already?” she impatiently scolded him in her mother tongue. “They’re here to help, dog. To help.At least I hope so. His barking ceased, though the occasional growl still rumbled through his chest. Kailani appreciated his vigilance, even if her annoyance didn’t quite show it. He still had a thing or two to learn about manners.

“Please, we must hurry,” she told Kelski and the man, her face lined with concern. “She’s struggling. I don’t know if she’s going to make it.”
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Kailani
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kelski on December 5th, 2018, 5:50 am

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Ebon glanced at Kelski as the ship put ashore near where the pair of them waited. “Svefra? You are working with a Svefra?” He said, noting the woman at the helm and then glanced at Kelski, a black eyebrow lifting in surprise. The Night Lion knew her history with the Svefra and as far as Kelski had shared, none of it had been that pleasant.

“Remember your own words a few moments ago. Not all of them are bad. I have no idea if this one is or not. But she seems to want to help the injured woman.” Kelski said simply, her strange silver eyes watching the approach. As soon as it was safe, Kelski scrambled aboard the Casinor – more comfortable aboard ships like it than she liked to admit. Ebon took Kailani’s offered help, but Kelski did not. He had the heavy bag while she was unburdened.

When the dog started in on its shit yapping its fool head off, Kelski hissed at it – Eagle Style – and promised it with her eyes that she’d rip off its head and snack on its entrails if it didn’t shut up. Ebon was more than a match for it as well, though he was far more peaceful than the jeweler was. Kailani eventually took charge of her dog and probably threw a whole bunch more profanities at it in Fratava that Kelski couldn’t quite catch. She could speak a bit of the language conversationally. Yelling lost its meaning on her. And Kailani was turning out to be quite vocal.

“We will not take unnecessary extra time but you must quiet and calm yourself. Ebon is a healer, and a competent one, but what will happen will happen. You must give him room to work, and that dog needs to stay quiet. Ebon doesn’t always get along with dogs.” Like ever. But Kelski didn’t exactly vocalize that.

“Where’s she at?” The young healer asked, glancing around and nodding towards the cabin. “In there?” He said, then started forward. Ebon was glad Kelski was trying to get the Svefra woman to stop acting so excited. Death would come if death wanted to. They could only do so much to change it. He started forward, deciding to show himself into the cabin on his own and quickly found the young woman. His compulsion to heal kicked in hard when he saw her bruising, and he dropped his bag beside the bunk and laid a hand on her chest between her breasts. Closing his eyes, he carefully tapped his gnosis power and information flooded him about her condition.

He immediately opened his bag, drew a thin stiletto, a bottle of alcohol, and a metal hollow straw. A tray came next – almost like a small loaf pan – and he upended some of the alcohol in the tray. He dumped the metal hollow straw in the pan and then the stiletto blade. He reached out, carefully pulled the woman’s shirt up and out of the way, and slide the stiletto carefully between her ribs in a smooth efficient manner. He grabbed the straw out of the alcohol and immediately twisted the blade of the knife, inserting the straw in and along the blade before he slid the blade out. Air hissed into and out of the straw suddenly as the woman’s chest rose. He nodded, muttering to himself as he released the straw and reached up and tilted her head upwards, made sure her airway was clear.

Kelski positioned herself behind him in case he needed anything, but more at the woman’s feet which she figured were the least hurt. That way she could watch the entrance and Kailani while still protecting Ebon.

“Kailani, this is Ebon. He’s a really good friend of mine. Ebon, this is Mercy… the one I was telling you about.” She added. The Healer only nodded. He was busy.

He stroked his hands across her face, their luminous light removing bruises and more importantly releasing the tension on her brain from internal bruising and swelling. He traced his touch down her neck and saw that three of her ribs were broken, which was probably why her lung had collapsed. He worked on bruising and a couple of shallow cuts, noted that her liver was horribly bruised, and noted several other things that were not right. He ran his hand around the tube, closing the skin up around the cut though not healing the internal slice. He set a broken arm, wrapped the wrist that he determined was broken on the same limb, and sat back.

“Do you have a place to brew some tea? I have some herbs to get into her. I am a good healer, but I’ve gone as far as ‘I can until I pull her tube and wrap her ribs. She should be fine if they didn’t hit her in the head too hard or too many times.” Ebon said, knowing they had hit the girl hard, but the extent of the damage would be determined when the woman woke up.

If Kaiani could produce some sort of way to boil water or at least heat it for tea, Ebon would ready some herb packets to add to it so he could create an infusion for Mercy. When the water was ready, he’d put the tea together and then gently begin to spoon it in the wounded woman’s mouth. As he did so, he’d glance over at Kelski.

“You should stay clear of this… whatever this is, Kelski. It stinks of trouble... true trouble.” He said firmly, frowning at the prone beaten woman.

“Whomever did this meant to kill her. She’s got three broken ribs, a collapsed lung I have re-inflated, and she’s been hit hard enough on the head to addle her brains. We won’t know if she’s okay until she can talk when she wakes up. They broke her arm and wrist after the beating… by stomping on them with heavy boots. That’s vicious and deliberate.” Ebon said, shaking his head. “She’ll be in bed a few days, the arm and wrist will take eight weeks to heal if she keeps them wrapped, and I wouldn’t expect her ribs to heal anywhere before six weeks. I’ll remove the tube in a bit here and see if the lung will stay inflated. They usually do.” He said softly.

While Ebon had worked on Mercy, Kelski had taken the time to study Kailani thoughtfully when the Svefra woman wasn’t directly paying attention to her. Her eyes also roamed the cabin, wondering if there were any clues to the Svefra’s identity to be seen. Was she messy? Neat? Did she have the banner of the Sun’s Birth hanging above her bed? Ebon was right. This situation was something to be avoided altogether. It was risky. And Kelski didn’t know if Mercy was worth the risk or not. The woman had handed her child to strangers to raise and paid them to do so. It was horrible.

“We should check on the baby for her though. Mercy won’t stay down long enough to heal unless we find out about the child. I know the place she spoke of… at least I think I recognized it. Is this place… this casinor.. a place that Mercy can stay a while? I think she doesn’t have much coin at all and no one will care for her in the young ladies house she spoke of having a room for.” Kelski said, looking thoughtfully at Kailani now.

Ebon growled low in his throat, shook his head, and glanced at Kelski again. “You two ladies should not go alone.” He rumbled, patiently spooning the medicinal mixture of tea and herbs into her mouth. He didn’t volunteer to go with them. Ebon was no fighter… not in the way Kelski knew of fighters to be. He would fight, but he didn’t seek them out.

“You should all stay here. I can go check it out on my own.” Kelski said quietly.

Ebon laughed abruptly, bitterly, and shook his head. “No. I’m not explaining to your family why you aren’t coming home anymore.” He added, glancing at Kailani finally. “You aren’t in agreement with her and wanting to go see this place for yourself, are you?” He asked, shaking his head, disguised.


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Kelski
Freedom is earned. Fight for it.
 
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kailani on December 12th, 2018, 3:26 am

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Kailani raised an eyebrow at the arch tone of Kelski’s voice, inwardly bristling that she would speak to her so on her own ship. As far as the Svefra’s personality went, this was quiet and calm. Was it so wrong for her to express concern over a dying woman’s welfare? All this she kept to herself for the time being, however—like Kona, her pride was wounded, but there were more important matters at hand. Mercy’s life still hung in the balance.

“Stay,” she firmly told her Deerstalker, who gave a very canine grumble in reply. She lifted a stern eyebrow in his direction before turning to follow the pair back to her quarters.

The man Kelski named Ebon was already at work by the time she joined them, nodding in his direction. “A pleasure to meet you,” she said in careful Common, observing his actions with a detached sort of fascination. It was a good thing the sailor was far from squeamish—watching the stiletto go between her ribs wasn’t entirely a pleasant experience. Suppose it’s a good thing she’s unconscious, eh? Sure it wouldn’t be the best experience for her, either.

She looked on in quiet amazement as Ebon performed his work, Mercy’s bruising vanishing under the glowing light of his hands. It would seem Kelski had not lied about this man’s abilities, which was fortuitous for the woman lying in the bed. Even if her demeanor wasn’t entirely pleasant, it was lucky they had come across Kelski. There was very little Kailani could have done beyond wrap a few bandages around her and pray for the best. Perhaps the young mother would make it through, after all.

Do you have a place to brew some tea? At this, Kailani nodded and walked over to the small camping-style stove in the corner of her cabin. She took out the one pot she owned, pouring water from her ewer into the vessel before clumsily striking a flame below it with flint and steel. It was a simple task, but the Svefra was happy to help. It was better than standing around twiddling her thumbs.

It was only a few chimes before the water was boiling and ready for Ebon’s herbs, and Kailani also took that time to surreptitiously study the strangers in her quarters—unaware of Kelski doing the same. Again, she wondered about the circumstances that would have caused Mercy to surrender her baby, though in a poverty-stricken city like Sunberth, she supposed it was a common enough story. If she recovered, would she take responsibility for Caitlyn? Or would all of this have been for naught?

Kelski and Ebon interested her more than Mercy did, however. Kona’s rather extreme reaction told her something was different about them, and Kelski’s shapeshifting had managed to prove that. Kelvic, she thought, looking at the unconventionally attractive woman while her attention was elsewhere. Or a mage, perhaps? Given her unusual eyes and the strange color of her hair along with it being Sunberth, Kailani figured the former. She doubted anyone would dare to have shifted so publicly in a place known for its hatred of magic, but, then again, she’d seen stranger things.

Kailani had only ever encountered one other of the shapeshifting folk in her life (at least that she knew of), and that was an orca in Zeltiva, one who had on occasion swam with her pod. She knew little of the race beyond their ability to change form, and the curious Svefra nearly overflowed with questions. She knew this wasn’t the time nor the place, so she held them in—unsure the stoic woman would even answer them, anyway. Not everyone took so kindly to her inquisitive nature.

Tearing herself away from her inner ramblings, the Svefra grabbed the closest articles of clothing she could find and wrapped them around the handles of the pot. Lifting it from the fire, she carried it over to where Ebon waited. She set it down on the small table next to her bed, using one of the shirts she’d grabbed to keep the heat of the pot from damaging the wood. The fire was dowsed next with the water that remained in her ewer before turning her attention back to what Ebon said.

He was warning Kelski of the dangers this woman Mercy posed, that she shouldn’t concern herself any further. The look on Kelski’s face, however, was one Kailani was very familiar with—a stubborn resolve that wasn’t likely to be shaken. It was one that often graced her own features, particularly when someone told her she couldn’t do something. However begrudgingly, she had to admit he was right… this hardly seemed the type of situation any of them should be involved in. But what was life without a little danger? Particularly in Sunberth…

When Kelski asked if Mercy could stay aboard her casinor, Kailani hesitated. Of course, she wanted to help the woman, but there was hardly enough room for her and Kona as it was. Besides, once the woman was able to get up and move around, who was to say she wasn’t like so many other denizens of Sunberth, who’d rob her blind as soon as smile at her? The silver-eyed woman made points she couldn’t argue with, though—there really wasn’t anywhere else Mercy could go. At least here, she’d be relatively safe and could heal in peace. Better that she stay with Kailani rather than throw her back to the wolves.

With a nearly imperceptible sigh, the Svefra nodded. “She can stay here, at least until she’s up and about again. Can’t keep her on much longer than that.” Kailani was hardly a noteworthy caretaker, but she’d do her best. It wasn’t like she had much of a choice.

Kailani lifted her eyebrows in surprise when Ebon turned to question her, answering with, “But of course. As you said yourself, it’s hardly wise for Kelski to go alone. And if we don’t go… who will?” Her shoulders lifted in a shrug, even if the thought of checking out such a place with an unknown companion made her a little nervous. “Sunberth’s citizens aren’t exactly known for their helping hands. We found Mercy. Seems right we should check on her baby.” Thoughtfully, she added, “And we don’t have to go completely alone. The dog can come. It’s exactly the sort of thing I bought him for. His bark might drive me crazy, but he does his job well. He’s a better protector than you might think.”

She looked over at Kelski. “You say you know where to go?” The Svefra strapped her new dagger on the opposite hip from her old one before throwing her fur-trimmed cloak around her shoulders. Kai offered her a brief smile. “Then, what are we waiting for?”
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Kailani
Daughter of the Sea
 
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kelski on December 16th, 2018, 5:42 am

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Truth be told, Kelski didn’t want to like Kailani. She was Svefra and everything Kelski hated, footloose and fancy free with a whimsical nature that was ingrained in their bloodline. The Svefra had been hard on her, very hard, and Kelski truthfully had no time for them. The Kelvic Sea Eagle wasn’t sure what kept throwing them together, but something did. Mercy shouldn’t have mattered to Kelski. She was just another stupid human that had thrown her baby away because she hadn’t been smart enough to figure out a way to care for the child. How had she thought having a baby was a good idea? The woman should have secluded herself in the spring when everything in the world was likely to get pregnant due to all the males sniffing around so she wo66uldn’t have been in the situation she found herself in. Surely human women knew such things.

Kelski shook her head angerly. She didn’t want to help Mercy… not really. How had humans helped her? It was true that she loved a human, but had he ever really helped her… from slavery? In her business? In her curiosity about magic? Not really. No one had anyone really in the world to depend on except themselves. Mercy should have been stronger, replied on herself, not gotten in trouble with her body and then her baby. Kelski ground her teeth and thought hard, torn deeply between just leaving the woman to Kailani’s care and collecting Ebon and going home. Mercy’s problems were none of her business. Deep down, it wasn’t just the Svefra Kelski didn’t like. It was the whole of humanity. Ebon and Ember were far more reliable than the humans in the city were.

And yet… things would never change if she just accepted them for what they were. If she and Kailani didn’t help Mercy, Kelski was certain no one else would. Did Mercy deserve help? Kelski didn’t honestly know. She was human, but did that mean she was like all the rest of them? The Kelvic bowed her head a moment, thinking hard, and glanced up to catch Ebon’s gaze.

The Kelvic Night Lion knew what she was thinking. They’d discussed it more than once. It was a prejudice that Ebon didn’t share with Kelski because he’d had vastly different experiences than the Sea Eagle had. Ebon loved more deeply, opened himself up to a greater degree, and healed the world. Kelski had no such talents. She just made rocks look pretty. That saved no one’s life and changed the world not at all unless one considered adding more beauty to it a valuable thing. But Kelski was a fighter… she liked wage war whether she admitted it or not. And this action, Mercy’s deserving status or not, could make a difference… at least in some baby’s lives.

Kelski remembered Mercy’s words…

” There is a place… a big brick house near the gated community… two blocks over, in part of the ruined city… it stands alone in a bunch of roofless buildings. Two.. two old ladies run it. They … I was told they take in children, babies especially, for … coin. I paid them to care for her, but my hours got cut.”


She knew which building Mercy had talked of. The Sea Eagle had overflown the place many times. Glancing between Ebon and then Kailani, Kelski finally nodded.

“Take care, Ebon. I’ll see you at home. If I don’t return tonight, give this to Kynier.” She said, pulling out her backpack and removing a journal that had a stick of charcoal tucked into it. She sketched a quick map of the city, added Mercy’s description, and ripped off the page, handing it to Ebon. The Night Lion nodded.

“Becareful… especially of the humans.” Ebon said. Kelski nodded, understanding his worry.

Then she turned to Kailani. “The dog should stay quiet. I’m not sure they will let us in if he won’t.” She said, then glanced around the Svefra’s cabin looking for a spare pillow. “Do you have a spare pillow? Bring it. We’ll get through the door perhaps pretending to be women in Mercy’s situation if you want to face them straight on. If you want to sneak in, we can do something different once we get there and look the place over.” Kelski said, shouldering her pack and existing the cabin. She crossed the deck, waiting for Kailani to join her, then lightly jumped down onto the mud shore. She didn’t turn up to the streets. While the tide was low, the easiest fastest way towards the building Mercy described was straight up the Mudway along its shore.

Kelski set a fast pace, though she’d speak and answer any questions or comments Kailani might have. She moved through the mudflows along the shores of the much decreased Mudway with a silent competence that bespoke much time along the river. Truth be told it was because she dug freshwater and brackish clams and mussels here, making clam chowder and mussle stew to feed the denizens of The Midnight Gem and make their groceries go further. And though she’d never admit it… seafood was one of her favorite things, especially the clams and mussels. They were second only to fresh fish… and by fresh she meant raw.

Abruptly Kelski laughed, outright, though she didn’t say why and chastised herself for thinking of food at a time like this. She was actually making herself hungry. It was best to get off the Mudway then, and hit the streets again. Finding a good spot, the Kelvic lead Kailani up the bank, cut across a ruin of a building, and down a makeshift alley until they were out on one of the main streets.

One could hardly call it a street.

Kelski glanced around, getting her bearings when the two girls hit the broken old cobbles of what Sunberth considered a ‘great’ street and started north, towards the gated community. Together they moved deeper into the city. Kelski angled so she’d flank the gated community and turned down another alley before coming out in front of a large restored townhouse with an intact roof. The place was enormous though the upper windows were boarded over and the yard itself looked unfriendly with a high wrought iron fence.

The Kelvic looked over the property and then turned quietly to Kailani. “Does this look close to Mercy’s description to you? It’s the only place I can think of in this area that remotely looks like it could suit.” The Kelvic said, tilting her head as if listening for the cries of small humans or the shuffle of ancient ones. Still keeping a cautious distance, the Kelvic looked over the yard and saw no signs of anything Mercy had said. She chewed her lower lip, looked thoughtfully at the building, and suddenly wished she had a way to hear better or see better through walls.

She turned to Kailani to say something else when a young female turned the corner, came out of the same alley they had arrived by, and slipped through the gate of the townhouse. Kelski didn’t recognize her, but she tried carefully to watch her without watching her, instead stepping closer to Kailani as if she and the Svefra were having a private conversation and not actually surveying the building in front of them.

The woman knocked on the door, flashed what looked like a bag of coins, and was admitted inside by what Kelski thought was an older woman… an ancient. When the woman vanished, Kelski gently took Kailani by the elbow and gently nudged the woman down the street further away from the townhouse but to a place they could still have a good vantage of the entrance of the building. When they were in a location that Kelski felt the young woman wouldn’t immediately spot them – iron wrought fencing, vines, and a pile of rubble – she turned to Kailani.

“Lets watch and see what happens when the woman comes out… if the woman comes out. Can you tell the ages of them? The woman that went in, the one that answered the door? I’m not so good with humans and their ages. I think the woman who went in could be of a mothering age, but I am not certain.” Kelski said, looking pained a moment.

“If the woman leaves, I say we wait a bit, and then pretend to be pregnant and inquire about the place… to see if they could take a child. Maybe use the pillow to stuff up under your shirt? Or I could…” Kelski looked less convinced that a Kelvic could pull off a desperate mother act, but she would try if she had too.

“The other thing we could do is try and sneak in from a window or behind. I’m not certain what the best plan would be. I’m not .. good with people always.” That much should have been obvious. It was one of the reasons Ebon ran her shop rather than she did it herself.

“Unless you have another idea? I’m open to anything. The important thing is we get in, look around, and see if Mercy is telling the truth.” Kelski said firmly, not willing to say burn the place down and kill the inhabitants until she was sure the young human wasn’t lying. “Maybe the old women are harmless? Maybe Mercy was the one with the issues?” Kelski had seen many people in Sunberth who thought things were one way as they turned out they were another. “People aren’t always stable. Sometimes they are crazy for a whole variety of reasons… sometimes wounds, sometimes drugs and drink, and sometimes just because they were born wrong.” Kelski wanted to make sure Mercy wasn’t one of those humans.

There were too many of them in Sunberth. Far too many of them.
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Kelski
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Evil Comes In All Shapes And Sizes (Kailani)

Postby Kailani on December 31st, 2018, 4:13 am

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Kailani grabbed up a pillow at Kelski’s behest, idly wondering what they could possibly need such an object for, but she shrugged and did it anyway. The other seemed to have a plan, and who was she to question her motives? Laviku knew she’d pulled stranger stunts with even stranger props, so she tucked the pillow under her arm and followed Kelski out of the cabin. A short whistle summoned Kona to her side, the dog visibly perturbed as he walked over and stopped at her feet. He kept a wary eye on Kailani’s companion, that same sense of otherness he’d felt before raising the hair on his neck. Another growl vibrated his chest, the Svefra fixing him with a stern look. “Enough,” she told him shortly in Fratava, grabbing his leash and fixing it to his collar. “Kelski isn’t going to hurt you or me. Worry more about what we’re after. Not her.”

Even if he couldn’t understand her words directly, they still seemed to quiet him, only offering their companion the odd glare or two. A scratch of his ears was his reward before they jumped down off the ship and started following Kelski. Kailani spared The Sunset Tide one last glance as they departed, hoping it would still be there when they returned. The Svefra had no reason to trust Ebon or Mercy, and she hoped she was leaving her home in kind hands. Without it… she wasn’t quite sure what she would do.

Most of their journey down the Mudway was quiet, uncharacteristically so for the lively sailor. Kailani wasn’t quite sure what to make of her unusual companion and because of that, she kept her normal barrage of questions to a minimum. “Are you a Kelvic?” she finally asked a few chimes into their hike, close behind Kelski as she focused on keeping herself from slipping in the mud. The Svefra could easily keep her balance on a violently pitching ship in an unforgiving storm, but land travel still eluded her, even if the ground remained far more stationary (at least in theory). With most of her time spent aboard her casinor, land always seemed to be faintly moving whenever she stepped onshore, which was often… disorienting. Kona seemed to be faring much better than she was, picking his way through the slippery filth with barely a second thought. She looked at him with envy and could only hope she didn’t fall flat on her face.

“I’m sure it’s obvious to many, but I’ve only met one,” she continued, whether Kelski answered her or not. “There was a whale in Zeltiva… Raj, his name was. He swam with my pod sometimes. Never saw any others. Or at least… I don’t think I did.” She supposed there were plenty who could pass for human, and she’d be none the wiser. But how common was their number? These were the things she did not know, and wasn’t sure if it would be rude to ask. “Your eagle shape… it’s beautiful,” she added, almost as an afterthought. “Always did like birds. Even if they don’t have scales.” Kailani flashed a brief smile before quieting again. It would seem they were closing in on their destination.

The Svefra hung back just as Kelski did, examining the location with a speculative eye. It was a rather innocuous building, aside from the fence, and it was hard to imagine the horrors Mercy described going on beyond those walls. Looks are deceiving, Kailani, she reminded herself silently, continuing in her careful observation of the house and its surrounding neighborhood. Evil takes all forms, immaculate and dark alike.

When the young woman approached the door, Kailani held her breath, but followed Kelski’s lead and turned to her as if they were here without a purpose. Every odd tick, she’d sneak a glance back, watching the woman flash her coin before being pulled inside. She followed her companion without complaint as Kelski led her away, peeking through the encroaching vines to keep an eye on the door.

“Aye, that woman was certainly old enough to give birth,” she replied with a nod. “Probably around my age, maybe a little older. Early, maybe mid-twenties, I’d say.” She peered again at the door before looking back at Kelski. “And the one who answered, she had to be in her seventies, at least. Amazing someone could live that long in Sunberth. They’re definitely making money somehow…”

Kailani tapped her lip in thought at the woman’s suggestions of what to do next, slowly nodding as she considered the possibilities. Now the idea of bringing a pillow made sense. Neither one of them had enough fat on their bodies to fake the possibility of being pregnant, certainly not far enough along to already be seeking the services of a baby boarding house. It was a genius plan, she had to admit it.

“I think I could pull off the desperate mother act,” she said with a brief smile. “I like that better than trying to sneak in, especially with Kona here. Don’t think he’s rightly very stealthy.” She lifted a sandy eyebrow at the beast in question, who looked back at her with an indifferent air. Kai rolled her eyes before thoughtfully looking at Kelski. “We could say you’re my sister.” Taking in the woman’s dark hair, silver eyes, and much fairer coloring, she shook her head. “Actually, probably not. We don’t look much alike. A friend is probably better.”

At the woman’s comment on her lack of grace with people, Kailani fought a smile. That had already become fairly obvious, but living in Sunberth, she could hardly blame her. The sailor could only imagine what sort of people she’d come across in her life, even without any knowledge of Kelski’s history. “That’s all right,” she assured her, the smile at last breaking through. “I’m good enough with them for both of us. I’ve talked my way out of a few nasty situations in my life. I think we’ll be all right.” She shrugged. “And if we’re not… well, that’s what we have Kona for. I think he can take on a couple old ladies and a few crying babies.”

With that, she fell silent as the woman from before suddenly came back outside. Kailani tapped Kelski’s arm and pointed, watching closely as the stranger re-emerged. She didn’t seem particularly upset, but the Svefra couldn’t imagine they kept the more horrific aspects of the house on full display for visitors to see. At least she’d come back out alive, which if it hadn’t been for Ebon, wouldn’t have been the case for Mercy.

“All right, here’s our chance,” she murmured as the woman walked off down the street, stuffing the pillow up under her shirt and tucking the tails into her pants. She fluffed the pillow and adjusted it to make it look more natural before resting her hand on it in the protective way of pregnant women. Nodding to Kelski, her face was set in determination. “Let’s go.”

The blonde sailor led the way this time, pushing her stomach out a little further to accentuate the false bump. Kailani exaggerated her walk into more of a waddle, imitating the movements she’d seen in her podmates when they’d fallen gravid. Kona looked at her in confusion as they made their way toward the front of the house, the dog confused as to why his human was behaving so strangely. She patted his head to reassure him as they mounted the stair, slowly and carefully approaching the front door. A nervous smile was flashed in Kelski’s direction before Kailani took a deep breath and rapped sharply on the wood three times.

It wasn’t long before the door opened, a few ticks at most, the same elderly woman from before standing in the entrance. “Can I help you two?” she asked, voice cracked with age, even as piercingly intelligent green eyes took them in from head to toe. That startling gaze lingered on Kailani’s false stomach for enough time to make the Svefra nervous, but it finally ranged back up to her face.

Kai gently patted the pillow, drawing a sad expression upon her own face. “My friend and I… we’ve heard rumors of this place. I… the baby… it’s, it’s coming soon, and I…” She shook her head, eyes filling with crocodile tears as she looked away. “Please, I need help. The father left me only weeks ago, with the little one coming any time now, and I haven’t been able to get a job beyond begging…” A pleading gaze turned back on the elder. “My baby doesn’t deserve such a life. I… I have to give them something better. Just a few weeks to get back on my feet, that’s all I need. Please. You must understand.”

The old woman’s sharp gaze flicked between the two women and the dog, her face inscrutable as she leaned heavily on her cane. She looked once more toward the blonde woman’s distended stomach and finally nodded, opening the door wider and gesturing for them to come inside. “The dog stays out here,” she said firmly before Kailani could push through the door with Kona in tow. “We can’t have him scaring the children. And frankly… he smells.”

A muscle in her jaw twitched as Kailani stared back at the woman, looking down at her dog, then back up at her. “Please, he’s all I have for comfort… I-I would feel better if he could come with us.” Petch. I should have seen that coming.

Shaking her head firmly, the woman placed her free hand on her hip. “No. He can stay here on the porch. It won’t be long, and he’ll still be right here.”

Kailani could see there was no arguing with the look on the woman’s face and sighed. “Sorry, boy,” she whispered, looking at Kelski with a tight expression before loosely tying his leash to one of the wooden supports on the porch. “Stay here.”

Satisfied that the animal was properly restrained, the building’s proprietor invited them inside again, holding the door open so that they might pass. Kailani thanked her with a nod, making sure to keep up the same slow walk from before, one hand on her stomach and the other in the small of her back. What she saw when they entered surprised her, toddlers of varying ages and sizes screaming and giggling and running about the large common room. Doesn’t look too shady, Kailani thought as a small girl whizzed past her and nearly knocked her over. But then again, as I thought before… I doubt they keep the darker part of their business right where everyone can see.

“As you can see here, we run a busy operation,” the elderly woman told them, indicating the children running amok. “There are many mothers in Sunberth who are… less fortunate. My partner, Agnes, and I, we offer a valuable service to those in need. For the right price, I’m sure we can help you, too.” Her hand touched her chest as she introduced herself, “My name is Myrtle. And you are…?”

“Layla,” Kailani answered quickly, giving her sister’s name rather than her own. “And my friend here is Ana.” She indicated Kelski, with a subtle shrug at the unremarkable name she’d given her. It hardly seemed wise to use their real names. “How long do you usually keep these children?” She hadn’t expected older ones, just babies. Were the parents here truly so desperate?

“As long as needed,” Myrtle answered with her own shrug. “Once the mothers can pay for their upkeep again, they take their children back. Some just struggle more than others. It’s a hard world out there, as I’m sure you know.” Her smile was almost sympathetic, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. A subtle shiver ran down Kailani’s spine. Something about this woman’s demeanor made it quite easy for her to believe Mercy’s story. She wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of that cane.

“Do you think we could see more of the house?” she asked instead, forcing her focus away from the revulsion creeping under her skin. “I’d like to see where my baby would stay before I make any decisions.”

“Of course. Right this way.”

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Kailani
Daughter of the Sea
 
Posts: 153
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Joined roleplay: September 16th, 2018, 5:16 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Svefra
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