Solo Pearls in a Murky Sea

Kailani finally receives news of the Crestwidow pod. A decision must be made.

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Pearls in a Murky Sea

Postby Kailani on November 19th, 2018, 6:25 am

60th Day of Fall, 518 AV, 16th Bell


“We found your pod, Kailani.” The sound of Coraline Pearltide’s voice narrowed her world to a pinpoint, the blood beating in Kai’s ears like the sound of waves crashing onshore. It was the news she’d been waiting for all season, and her heart was racing to hear it now. The look on the face of the Sunberth pod’s Lia wasn’t a cheerful one, however, and the young Svefra was almost reluctant to hear what she had to say. “Well… what remains of it.”

Kailani felt her stomach drop at that, nearly crumpling to the floor. What remained of it? Did that mean…? Had the worst happened? Kona looked up at her in concern from his place at her side, whimpering as he pushed his head under her hand. Upon seeing her young employee’s face, Coraline held out her hands, her own expression apologetic. “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant! Please. Let me explain.” Pouring herself a glass of red wine from the nearby decanter, she did the same for Kailani and indicated for her to have a seat. Stunned, Kailani did so, trembling hands clenched tight around the stem of the pewter goblet. She looked up at Coraline as she waited for her explanation, bringing the glass to her lips for a long swallow. The Akinva Deerstalker took a seat at his mistress’s feet, turning to look at the Lia as she did.

“We found The Wayward Tabernacle,” the Lia explained, taking her own seat across from Kailani and ignoring the dog entirely. They were in her cabin aboard the Pearltide pod’s main palivar, The Otani’s Lament, a ship Kai was growing more used to by the day. “My messenger was able to make contact with Azhure, the new Lia. You know her, yes?”

A nod was Coraline’s response, Kailani on the edge of her seat. “Aye, she’s my aunt. Karigan’s sister.”

“That’s what I thought. Well, from what Terra was able to gather, the Crestwidow pod splintered off not long after you got separated from them. Azhure was put in charge of the core group that remained, though it would seem not too many were very happy about the state of her leadership.” Coraline lifted a brow at Kailani, as if to confirm whether this fit with what she knew of her aunt.

“She was not always very popular,” the sandy-haired sailor confirmed diplomatically before taking another swallow of her wine. In truth, the woman was viscerally hated by quite a few, and the fact that the pod had split off into groups did not surprise her. “Though to be fair… After Karigan, it would be difficult for anyone to take the helm of The Wayward Tabernacle. Her legacy will not be an easy one to follow.” Her next swallow of the semi-sweet liquid drained her goblet, Coraline rising without a word to fetch her more. “So?” she prompted, watching as the older woman poured out another glass. “Did Terra tell her I was here?”

The Lia pressed the glass back into Kailani’s hands before taking her seat once more. There were a few ticks of silence as Coraline considered the question she posed, obviously reluctant to give the answer. “She did,” she responded at last, looking down and fiddling with one of the beads woven into her crimson locks. “Azhure was… unenthusiastic. She claimed you left of your own accord and you could return of your own accord.” Coraline kept her tone even, hoping to soften the blow she knew her words would land. “They’re not coming for you, Kailani, I’m sorry. Azhure said they were too far out now to divert their path back toward Sunberth. And according to Terra, she… she didn’t seem too broken up at the thought of leaving you behind.”

Coraline’s words hit her just as hard as the Lia expected them to, Kailani doubling over in her seat and pressing her head to her knees. Her breath left her as if she’d been punched in the gut, the pain she felt at Azhure’s rejection physically searing her flesh. She and her aunt had not always gotten along, but she’d never thought the woman would all but abandon her. They were in the same pod, and more than that, they shared the same blood. Family was not supposed to leave each other behind.

A cold nose pressed against her shin, Kona offering what comfort he could. She reached out to scratch the back of his neck, blue eyes filling with tears. At last she straightened, face miserable as she looked at Coraline. “She knows I only have my casinor,” she replied dully, absently dabbing at the moisture accumulating in the corners of her eyes. “She knows I can’t simply rush out to join them. ‘You could return of your own accord…’ She’s well aware that’s not true, not with that little ship. She’s kicking me out without saying the words.”

Kailani was utterly floored, at a loss for what else to say. This was the last thing she’d expected, whenever she finally found the Crestwidows again. As soon as they learned of her location, she’d expected them to come running, to snatch her back up and continue on as if nothing had happened. To hear she was being effectively abandoned instead… It was a concept she struggled to wrap her mind around. The Svefra did not abandon their own.

“I know it’s not what you were hoping for, Kailani,” Coraline finally said into the silence, reaching out to take one of the younger woman’s hands in her own. “And believe me… I know how much it hurts to lose your pod.” A bleak look crossed the Lia’s face before she squeezed Kailani’s hand. “But you’re not alone, girl, even if you think you are. The people of the sea, we take care of our own. Even if your aunt seems to have failed in that regard.”

She offered the girl a small smile before she dropped her hand. “I’ve had nothing but good reports about you, Kai,” she went on. “You’ve done your job well, without fuss or complaint, and earned us a sleuth of loyal clientele. You’re friendly, efficient, and you get your passengers to their destinations quickly and safely with nary a gripe.” Coraline’s smile broadened. “In addition to all that, we like you, Kailani. You’re smart, funny, and quick-witted, and you command your casinor as a true daughter of Laviku should.”

The Lia squeezed Kailani’s knee, the other woman blushing at Coraline’s praise. It was an honor, indeed, to be spoken of so highly by the Lia herself. “I’ve spoken with some of the others, and we’re all in agreement. There’s a place for you in the Pearltide pod, should you wish to accept. We take care of our family, Kailani, and we’d be delighted to count you among it. You’d never have to worry about us leaving you behind.”

The younger woman looked at the Lia in shock, unsure she’d heard her correctly. This, she hadn’t expected, either, and she was still reeling from her first bit of news. She was surprised, conflicted, and touched all at once, unsure of how to respond. “I… I’m honored, Coraline, I truly am,” she stammered, bewilderment clear on her face. “But I… I don’t know what to say. Do you… do you mind if I take a day to think about it? This is a lot to process all at once.”

It was about the response Coraline had expected, and she didn’t begrudge Kailani a bit for not accepting her offer outright. It was a big decision, to join a new pod in a city one didn’t particularly care for. But Sunberth suited the young Svefra, even if she couldn’t see it yet herself. Coraline knew she could thrive here. “Of course,” she replied warmly, patting the girl’s knee again before standing up. “Take all the time you need. We’re not going anywhere.”

Kailani rose to her feet as the other did, doing her best to remain upright on such shaky legs. “Thank you,” she told the Lia, both for her offer and the allowance of more time. “I’ll… I’ll come back tomorrow and let you know what I’ve decided. I’m flattered, I truly am, but… I can’t make a decision like this on impulse. I need to think.”

“Of course, of course,” Coraline replied, following Kailani and Kona to the door of her cabin. “I will look forward to your return.” The Lia took her employee’s hand as the woman made to pass her, giving it a firm squeeze. “But I really hope you decide to stay with us, Kailani. You’re a valuable asset, even if your vagik of an aunt couldn’t see it.”

A grin flashed over Kailani’s face at Coraline’s dig at Azhure, returning the Lia’s grip. “Thank you,” she said again before dropping the other woman’s hand. “I’ll… I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow, then.” With that, the door was shut behind her, and Kailani continued above deck, her mind spinning with the possibilities. Something told her she wouldn’t get a wink of sleep that night. Either way she chose, her life would never be the same.

NaNo WC: 1529


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Kailani
Daughter of the Sea
 
Posts: 129
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Joined roleplay: September 16th, 2018, 5:16 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Svefra
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Pearls in a Murky Sea

Postby Kailani on December 1st, 2018, 10:24 pm

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Kailani was right in her assumption of her lack of sleep, pacing her cabin the whole night long. A new pod. The young Svefra had never even considered life outside of the Crestwidows. When she’d arrived in Sunberth, she hadn’t intended to stay with any sort of permanency. It was meant to be a brief waystation, a stop along the way. To think of actually living here… Conflicted was an understatement.

Even on the few occasions she’d come before, she’d never held any particular fondness for the city. While its lawlessness held a certain appeal, it was that very lawlessness that gave her pause. Kailani was all for a life without government, but the day in-day out threat of death started to wear thin after a while. Then again, aren’t I always wishing life was more exciting? she thought wryly to herself, chuckling as she shook her head. And my time here so far has been nothing if not exciting.

Looking over at her bed where Kona watched her with mild interest, her face softened. “Hasn’t been all bad though, has it, boy?” she crooned to him, walking over to scratch his ears. The day she’d taken him from Killroy’s Kennels was another example of one of her more “exciting” days in Sunberth; the thugs who’d accosted her and Koroshtoph outside leaving a sour taste in her mouth. But we got through it and here we are. “Mighty all right for a land dweller, aren’t you, Kona?” she asked him with a grin, the dog’s tail wagging in response. Sitting up, his tongue swiped over her face a few times with a soft yip. Kailani often wondered how much of what she said he really understood. Sometimes it was uncanny how accurate his responses were.

There are good people here, too, she reminded herself, turning her attention back to her conflict at hand. Good people who want to make a difference. As rat-infested and dirty as these streets are, not everyone is trying to rob you blind. Kynier, Anja, Kelski, Tove, Arinel, Ixzo… With people like them on Sunberth’s side, maybe all was not hopeless, after all.

But does the good really outweigh all the bad? Kailani thought, resuming her furious pacing. Would I be happy here? Am I willing to give up a carefree life on the open sea for… this? But then, what choice did she really have? The Crestwidows weren’t coming for her, and she couldn’t get to them on her own. She was sure if she asked Coraline for help, the Pearltides would assist her in returning to them, but… was that what she really wanted? Did she truly wish to live under the leadership of a woman who had very little care for the fate of her own niece?

A nervous hand tugged at her braids as she reminded herself, There are other pods. Aye, but there still lay the small problem in getting to them. The Sunset Tide was not intended for long travel in open waters, and Zeltiva was the closest city she could think of where she might have any deeper connections. Would it not make more sense to stay with the Pearltides, with people I already know? Where I’ve been invited to stay? There seemed far more appeal in remaining where she was wanted than proving herself all over again.

“Petch it all,” she muttered under her breath, hastily undoing the ties of her clothing and tossing it to the side. “Always did think better in the water, anyway.” She whistled to Kona, indicating for him to follow. “Come on, boy, we’re going for a swim.”

Tail wagging blindingly fast, the brindled canine followed his mistress above deck and watched her dive into the surrounding waters before joining her himself. Swift kicks of his paws brought him over to Kailani, the woman throwing an arm around his neck. An affectionate kiss was dropped on the top of his head, returned by an enthused lick of his own.

Laughing, Kailani scratched the top of his head before relinquishing her grip. Laying on her back, she closed her eyes and allowed the current to pull her away. Cradled by the moonlit waves, the Svefra drifted away from her casinor and let the sounds of the sea swallow her whole.

Tell me what to do, she silently implored Laviku’s waters, tangled hair flowing around her head like a tawny halo. Show me where to go…
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Kailani
Daughter of the Sea
 
Posts: 129
Words: 147171
Joined roleplay: September 16th, 2018, 5:16 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Svefra
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Pearls in a Murky Sea

Postby Kailani on December 4th, 2018, 7:33 pm

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Kona eventually grew bored of Kailani’s meandering, giving her a very doglike huff before scampering back aboard the ship. Humans were such strange creatures, he’d long since decided, his mistress especially so. Why had she taken her fur off just to float around in the water? Rather than try to answer this question, he simply shook himself off and settled near the helm. That way he could keep an eye on her, but he could still dry off in the process.

The blonde-haired Svefra, meanwhile, would remain in the water for what felt like bells yet, floating, back-stroking, and dog-paddling as she continued in her contemplations. Each time she thought of a reason to stay, she thought of another reason not to, and ultimately her inner conflict solved naught. Her arms growing tired, she finally swam over to a small rock formation and hauled herself up amongst the stones. A few playful minnows nibbled at her dangling toes, a soft giggle escaping Kailani’s lips. She settled herself back along the surprisingly smooth stone and closed her eyes, sending out a silent prayer to Laviku. She needed guidance like never before, and hoped her plea would not go unanswered.

Kailani wasn’t sure how long she laid among those rocks, the sound of the splashing waves eventually lulling her into a restless slumber. An inquisitive bark near her ear was what brought her out of it, the sailor lazily mumbling, “Leave be, Kona. I’m up.” Opening her eyes, she discovered it wasn’t Kona, at all. The curious face of a spotted harbor seal stared into hers, long whiskers tickling her nose.

“Well, hello to you, too,” she said with a chuckle, lightly tickling under his chin. “Aren’t you a handsome fellow?” The seal seemed to yip in agreement, rolling over onto his back so she could reach his belly. Laughing, Kailani’s hands roamed down the slippery mottled fur of his underside, gently scratching near his flippers. “And friendly too, huh? What are you doing out here?”

Dewy brown eyes stared up into hers, nose twitching as he took in her scent. He wasn’t sure what he was doing out there, either, only that something that called him to her, Laviku’s grace radiating from her like a beacon. Being a seal, he would not know her gnosis mark was the reason for it, but he was drawn to her, nonetheless. A two-legger who smelled like those of fin and scale. He knew other two-leggers like that, too. Was she one of them?

With another yip, he was gone just as quickly as he arrived, Kailani blinking rapidly in his wake. “Um... bye?” she called out to his retreating form, her face bewildered. Glancing over toward the horizon, where Syna was just starting to make her presence known, she sighed. “Suppose I ought to get back onto The Sunset Tide, anyway. Kona’s probably about to starve to death by now.”

Loosening herself from the grip of the rocks, she started to lower her body back into the water before the seal suddenly popped his head out again. “You didn’t go very far, did you?” Kailani remarked with a laugh and reached to scratch the top of his head. Seeing something held within his jaws, she paused and looked a little closer. “What do you have there?” she asked curiously before said object was dropped in her lap. Picking it up, she discovered it to be an oyster, one that was partially opened. The seal looked at her almost expectantly, Kailani smiling at him. “This is a lovely gift, thank you,” she told him gravely before turning her attention back to his tiny offering. “Always did like fresh oysters for breakfast.”

She slammed the half-opened shell on the rock beside her until it opened completely, popping the two halves apart to get to the meat inside. Before she sluiced it down her throat, however, she noticed something cradled within its slimy maw. “Is that…?” Plucking the object from the oyster’s flesh, she blinked rapidly, rinsing it in the surrounding salt water. The oyster itself was completely forgotten, discarded to the side as she pulled the tiny stone closer to her face. It was a pearl. The seal had brought her a pearl.

Pearltide. Kailani knew this occurrence was no coincidence; she had gone into the water looking for a sign. If this wasn’t divine intervention, she wasn’t sure what was. “A little on the nose, don’t you think?” the Svefra woman asked the playfully lapping waves, chuckling. “But thank you. I can take a hint.”

The seal nosed under her hand before barking a farewell, one flipper rising above the water in what almost seemed a goodbye before disappearing beneath the waves. “I suppose I have my answer,” she remarked aloud before tucking the pearl within the braids of her sodden hair. Pushing off from the rock, she started swimming back toward her anchored casinor. I bet Coraline will get a kick out of this…
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Kailani
Daughter of the Sea
 
Posts: 129
Words: 147171
Joined roleplay: September 16th, 2018, 5:16 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Svefra
Character sheet
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Plotnotes


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