Closed A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

After leaving the Dust Bed, Anja goes to Kelski for advice. Is there a better place to call home?

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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on November 19th, 2018, 8:15 pm

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Fall 37th 518
18th Bell
The Midnight Gem

Kelski had told Anja that he was free to come over for dinner whenever he liked. As the afternoon waned towards evening, and Syna spread her bright crimson light over the dense grey clouds, the Drykas found his knees guiding Maisa down the familiar winding streets towards the building nestled against a beach in Baroque Bay. Maisa's hooves beat a slow rhythm that increased in tempo as the Strider realized where it was her companion was guiding her towards. Nestled on Anja's lap astride the mare's back, two pairs of bright blue eyes blinked nervously in the fading light from behind Anja's coat. An occasional soft whine was heard from within the depths of Anja's coat, which would be soothed with a soft touch or kind murmur.

It had been nearly ten hours, and the Eiyon was still angry. If it were not for the puppies and for Maisa, Anja very well might have come to blows with Jeb. And, judging the older man's propensity for combat, Anja had only just narrowly avoided a bloody end to the death scarred tapestry he called a life. Even thinking it now, Anja could feel rage coursing through his veins. How could a fellow Eiyon possibly employ a nuit!? Jeb's explanation had been ridiculous! So what if that monster forfeited it's life should it ever leave?! So what if it served Jeb entirely?! It was a abomination and it needed to be put down immediately! How Dira could possibly think to allow this, Anja had no idea.

Lost in his thoughts as he was, Anja nearly lost balance when Maisa shifted her weight suddenly. When the man returned to himself and glared at the back of his companion's head, Maisa flicked her ears in his direction. 'Stop that,’ those ears seemed to say. Anja felt his temper cool very slightly, enough for him to remember where he was and what he was doing. Tension radiated through his body and down his legs, and the ever perceptive Maisa could guess exactly what was on his mind. She was right. Dwelling wouldn't bring a solution to the problem at hand, and he needed to focus his energy where it was most efficient.

He couldn't live in the Dust Bed anymore. Not with a nuit camping nearby. Anja only had so much self control, and at the very least he needed to protect Maisa and the pups. The little ones were his responsibility. He owed it to Light to give them the best life he could, and camping in a haunted graveyard with undead next door was not a life he wanted for them. That said, what other options did he have? He had investigated the Tent City earlier that morning. In the two hours he had been there he had seen three men robbed and one stabbed. If he was to keep the puppies safe, that was not the ideal location. He had heard about the possibility of apartments, but the idea of being cooped up in a small place made Anja nervous. It would also require stabling Maisa, which she would detest.
Anja couldn't do it in a good concious. His options were running out.

Anja found himself pointing Maisa towards the Gem before he realized what he was doing. As the strider picked up speed, Anja was able to rationalize the instinctive decision. Kelski knew the city well and could give Anja advice, and food in the man's stomach would certainly help him to focus on his problem. And he could let the pups run around without worrying about them getting trampled, or kicked, or stolen. Kelski had learned to like horses. Perhaps she could learn to like dogs too.

Anja had been riding all day so when he finally dismounted from Maisa's back at the Gem's front door his legs nearly buckled from his own weight. The Drykas took a chime to stretch, silently admonishing himself for how out of shape he was, and unloaded the gear atop Maisa's back while she shuffled eagerly underneath his hands, making yearning nickers in the direction of the field of grass. Atop Maisa's back was every meager thing Anja owned that was not currently strapped underneath the man's sash. He had made a bundle of all his things within his tent, all strapped together in one huge package and hauled it through the city. Anja saw Maisa heave a relieved sigh as the man lifted it off her back. She was no draft horse, but had endured the work stoically. After a brief glance around, Anja stashed the bundle in a discreet place behind the fence. Maisa could keep an eye on it and protect it from the possibility of thieves.

Finally, Anja lifted the two puppies from atop Maisa's back, and settled each of them in his two large coat pockets. Battle, the white female splattered with black, gave a yowl of complaint, but grumbled agreeably when Anja gave her a small nibble of jerky. Sayeth, the black male with a few crests of white, was far more docile towards the intrusion. He scanned the horizon warily from his position in Anja's pocket, a few soft whines emanating but little else. Anja also gave him a bite of jerky, as well as some pats, but the attention did little to ease the pup's tension. Finally, Anja checked over Maisa’s back, rubbed her down, and watched her delicately lift the latch to the gate, close it behind her, then go to look for Moth. Anja turned his back on his friend, approached the front door, and cautiously rapped his knuckles against the door and waited for a response.

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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Kelski on November 27th, 2018, 9:55 pm

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It was actually not her night to cook, so Kelski was relaxing on the deck. She’d been concentrating on meditation, something she’d learned recently. Deep inside her mind she’d imagined a whirling pattern like a ball of sparking djed near where her third eye had recently been. In her meditation, she’d imagined that ball of djed as a deep rich blue and had set it to spinning clockwise. Settling down on a cushion outside in one of the rare evenings it hadn’t been raining, the Sea Eagle had folded her legs beneath her and was concentrating on her djed ball. She eventually drew the sparks out larger, bigger, the spin faster, until they were powerful enough to stream out and travel down her right side, circle under her and travel up her left side to rejoin the ball. Her focus was absolute as she drew this vision in her mind and then as Gilthas had taught her, pushed it outward, creating secondary balls at her the top of her head, her throat and near her heart. He’d explained there was a definite circulation of the djed in her body and that half the battle of being a good mage was keeping her body focused and honed, the pathways of djed clear and flowing.

Soon she had seven balls of sparking djed spinning in her minds-eye. The balls were all a different color and referred to as Chakras by Gilthas. Her Crown Chakra was a deep purple and spun giving off its sparks at the top of her head. It was her highest chakra and helped her connect to spirituality and the djed of the reset of the universe. It affected her brain, central nervous system and cerebral cortex. It represented inner and outer beauty. Kelski concentrated on it hard, feeding pure purple sparks of djed into what was quickly becoming a waterfall that was flowing clockwise around her entire form like a fountain of pure light.

Her third-eye chakra was a rich pure blue that had a deepness to it. Its swirling form sparked and added to the cascading waterfall that flowed down her right side and up her left side, feeding various colored sparks into their various chakras. It dealt with her soul, something she’d once doubted she’d had. It connected to her eyes and something deep in the base of her brain. To Kelski, this chakra represented her ability to focus and see the bigger picture in life. It dominated her intuition, imagination, wisdom, and the ability to think and make decisions. Her third eye was strong and she wondered if that was why the strange rock manifested its power in actually producing a third eye on her.

The next glittering sparkling spinning ball of djed was her Throat Chakra and it was a light brilliant blue. It had to do with filtering the djed in her body which could become contaminated and sometimes needed to be cleansed. It also had to do with her throat, ears, mouth, and hands. Kelski wondered why it connected to her hands, but Gilthas had sworn it was so. Kelski felt, much like Gilthas had instructed her to do when meditating on these chakras, that her throat chakra had to do with her ability to communicate. It was the weakest of her chakras and also guided her self-expression of her feelings and her ability to determine or tell the truth.

Her Heart Chakra was a bright brilliant green, right in the center of her chest a little right to where her normal heart organ beat. It had to do with her djed’s ability to center and her body’s circulation system. It was connected to her heart, lungs, thymus, and her bodies entire circulatory system. Its bright sparks added to the circulation of sparks throughout her body passing beneath her and fountaining up and over her head before they rejoined the Heart Chakra and spun within the origin of it before sparking off again. Kelski associated this bundle of djed with her ability to love. It also controlled her joy and inner peace. She could sense it as she concentrated on it, happy with its doings.

Kelski loved meditating through the swirling waterfall. She moved further down to her Solar Plexus Chakra where it spun with a brilliant yellow energy. It had to do with her gallbladder, stomach, liver and something called the pancreas. Djed-wise it dealt with the distribution of energy throughout her body and how energy responded to things. Hers dealt with her ability to be confident and in control of her own life. It really affected her self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Moving further down, she gently focused on her Sacral Chakra centered within her body just beneath her belly button. It dealt with the cycles of her body, reproduction, ovaries, her uterus and if she’d been male her testes. It blazed a brilliant orange and added its own sparks to the cascade and fountaining up of color that swirled through her body. It also helped her ability to accept others and new experiences. To Kelski it represented a sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure and sexuality as well.

Finally, following the deep red sparks, Kelski settled her meditation on her Root Chakra that was the origins of her djed energy and which ruled over her kidneys, bladder and spine. Hers was bright and Gilthas had claimed it was because it dealt also with survival issues, financial independence, money and food. It was definitely her foundation of feeling grounded and solid.

From there, after all the visualizations were reality in the djed fountain surrounding her, Kelski sat in it, relaxed and really utilized it to unwind for the day. It was incredibly calming, relaxing, and for the first time in a few days sitting in her meditation, Kelski felt incredibly well grounded. At first, she was so deep in she didn’t feel the gentle nudge, the inquisition via The Gem’s awareness flooding her own. The Gem paused as if astonished to find her within such a thing – a literal fountain of light – and watched for a moment before it gently reached out and touched her awareness. Kelski blinked, fighting to hold the image even as The Gem sent a series of images into her mind of Anja arriving, stowing things out of sight, and turning Maisa loose to graze.

Quietly, Kelski thanked The Gem with images of joy at seeing Anja and visions of flowers and sea grass blowing in the breeze – things she really liked and associated with calm happiness… and rose from her meditation. The djed balls slowly vanished, the sparks dimming, as she walked across the deck, took the back stair down the side of the building past Anja’s bundle of things, and peeked around the edge of the building.

“You don’t ever have to knock.” She said softly, to not startle him on her approach. “Just take the gate in and the stair up… you are always welcome here.” Kelski said to the Drykas that was still standing in the doorway where he’d been knocking at the front. “The Gem told me you were here. All you have to do is say hello and one of us will know. Come on…” She said, backing up towards the side gate and pausing long enough to collect his bundle of belongings. Then she lead him up the stairs, onto the deck, and took a seat in one of the deck chairs after stowing his stuff right inside the doorway near the fire.

“What’s going on? Did you come for dinner?” Kelski said hopefully, but had a feeling the bundle of stuff meant a more permanent situation.


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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on December 18th, 2018, 11:35 pm

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Anja was a touch surprised when Kelski peaked around the side of the building, but far more surprising to him was the surge of relief and warmth he felt at the sight of her. There was something about his kelvic friend that just helped the man's nerves to relax. It had been a very stressful day, and Kelski simply radiated reassurance without even having to try. Not just her presence, but also her words made him feel relaxed. It was hard to find any sort of calm in Sunberth, but somehow Kelski and the Gem managed it.

“It's a relief to know that I am always welcome,” Anja told Kelski. “By both you and the Gem.” Even though the woman's presence reassured Anja, there was still an air of tension in the man that the ever observant kelvic would no doubt pick up on. The days events had been far too trying to dissipate so easily. Anja watched as Kelski picked up his bundle of things, feeling a tinge of embarrassment, and followed the woman up to deck before easing himself into the deck chair beside Kelski with a weary sigh. Anja was careful as he sat to not accidentally disrupt the pups, but Battle still yowled with disapproval, and Sayeth let out a series of thin whines. Anja gently lifted the pups out of his pockets and onto his lap, and glanced at Kelski hesitantly.

“Do you mind if I let them run around?” Anja asked her. “They're very young, but Sayeth is too cautious to get into trouble. And I'll keep an eye on Battle.” Anja touched the pups in turn as he spoke their names, his hand first falling on the black male speckled with white, and then the white female speckled with black. If Kelski agreed, Anja would let the pups down off his lap to explore. Sayeth would stay close to Anja's side, directly underneath his seat, while Battle would go cautiously sniffing around the deck, keeping a wide berth around Kelski as she explored.

Anja looked at Kelski quietly as she asked her question, and the man hesitated for a moment. “I can no longer live at the Dust Bed,” Anja said, finding his thoughts too muddied for himself to do anything but get straight to the point. “These little ones are the only survivors of a street dog I made friends with, Light. She perished due to human wickedness, and begged me to save her children. I saved as many as I could, these two.” Anja's eyes fell on the pups, first Battle, then Sayeth.

“The day after I saved them, I discovered that my employer Jeb, the man who runs the Dust Bed had...employed a nuit.” At the word 'nuit’ Anja's words cut like a knife and his eyes blazed with an anger very unlike him. “I...I cannot imagine his thinking. They are body stealing monsters, Kelski. He is not only allowing that abomination to work for him, but dishonoring the dead by allowing it to take to bodies of the corpses he is meant to bury! It is unthinkable! He is like me Kelski, an Eiyon. He should want to destroy every one of those monsters!”

Anja's breath came ragged now, and he squeezed his fists in an attempt to control his temper. “It is my duty to save the souls of those unfortunate enough to remain here after death,” Anja said, more controlled now but with Anger still nipping at the heels of his words. “But it is also my duty to kill undead such as that monster. Jeb threatened consequences if I killed that creature, and I do not have the strength to stand against him. I am torn Kelski. Jeb is my greatest ally to saving the unfortunates of this city, but he is also harboring one of the monsters I am sworn to destroy!”

Anja took a slow, deliberate breath to calm himself further. “I must also protect these two, and The Dust Bed is no longer a safe place for them. I can't completely sever my ties with Jeb, but we can't live there anymore. I need to do some hard consideration on where we can go, and without even thinking about it I found myself leading Maisa here.” Anja glanced down from the deck to the field of grass below. Maisa had found Moth, and the two of them were happily eating together side by side. “I knew at least we could be safe here. And perhaps you might have some advice on where we can go from here.” Anja took a deep breath and a staggered, self-deprecating laugh fell from his lips. “A meal would be quite appreciated as well. Perhaps all of this will make more sense with a full stomach.”
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Kelski on December 27th, 2018, 11:10 pm

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“Of course, you are welcome.” She insisted, smiling and holding the gate open for him. She was careful with his things, picking them up and carrying them gently to the deck to set them by the back door where her workshop was. She raised an eyebrow when his pocket yelped, but when the dogs were revealed she shook her head. “Go ahead. I’ll warn the cats there are little.. no young?... dogs about?” Kelski said, thinking these were babies but not certain. She’d seen old dogs with almost no size to them as well. Unfortunately that was not in Sunberth, nothing grew to old age here.

When Anja started talking, Kelski kept quiet and just started listening. She hissed in sympathy when Anja spoke of Light’s death and humans being directly involved. She swiveled her gaze about, taking in the pups once more, with a new understanding in her eyes. “It’s good she trusted you. She picked well.” Kelski said softly, not interrupting, just responding. But that wasn’t what upset Anja. She could tell there was more.

And when he said ‘nuit’ she got the whole picture. She nodded when he explained that Jeb was an Eiyon. “Sunberth changes people. They go darker and darker the longer they live here. From what you’ve said, your employeer is an older man… human. Vulnerable.” She said, glad that Anja was reacting this way. If he wasn’t upset about this, she’d be far more worried than she was that he was reacting and taking action.

“I’ll kill it for you. If you think I can. You made promises not to kill it, but I made no such promises.” Kelski said simply, her eagle logic seeing nothing wrong with killing the already dead. She’d let him mull over it and glanced at Maisa.

Grinning suddenly, she shook her head. “Knowing that horse, Maisa brought you here. The barn is getting put up. It’s almost done in fact, just the roof and the interior is left to complete. I had them design stall doors so that the horses could let themselves in and out if they were smart about it. Maisa can easily since each stall opens to the outside. She’ll have to be patient and teach Moth though when its done. He doesn’t seem as fearless as she is. And even if he can, he might think he might get in trouble letting himself in and out. That fear has been an ongoing problem. Having her here is going to help. By that I mean you are staying. I have a whole bunch of empty rooms. You can pick whatever one you like. The small dogs are welcome too. I’ll tell Ebon not to eat them. The Gem seems to like animals. So having more will amuse it. “ Kelski said softly, glancing inside. She rose, scooped up the adventurous pup, and grabbed what she could of Anja’s things. Then she used her hip to push the door open to the Workshop and gestured for Anja to come with her.

“Let’s pick out a room… get you settled. Then after dinner, you can tell me all you know about how to kill a Nuit. Those abominations seem somewhat frail to me from what you’ve described. How hard can it be to kill something already dead?” She added, not having met one, but having heard stories. “Walking corpses… I need the experience anyhow.” The Kelvic said somewhat cheerfully. The puppy squirmed in her grip, and Kelski seemed to have problems for a moment trying to decide how to hold it. She ended up trapping its squirming form against her chest as she lead the way up the stairs and pointed out the rooms that were open.

“Go ahead, see which one you like.” Kelski said, setting the pup down now that they were on the upper level. “Anja, do we need to get something to put across the stair so the little dogs don’t accidently fall down them? They don’t look that coordinated.” She asked, frowning at the little dog that was now exploring happily, tail wagging. It stopped abruptly, turned a circle, and started barking. It seemed to be barking at nothing, but she could feel the building around her awake slightly, concentrate, and focus on the little thing fascinated. Kelski half expected The Gem to bark back, but it had no means.

On the large table, she had long tubes of metal laid out with holes drilled in the tops where she could string them to circles with other holes drilled in them. The wind chimes were an experiment that she was putting together, and maybe she could talk Anja into helping her at least use his height to hang them when she was done putting them together.

The puppy soon gave up its barking at the building in general and trotted about proudly causing Kelski to grin. “It’s sure full of itself. Is it a girl or a boy?” She asked. “That’s Battle right? The white one? It seems ready for a fight.” The Kelvic observed and turned to see if Anja had picked out a room yet. She’d carry the stuff she had of his in his room if he indicated any particular one.

Once that was done, she sat herself down at the table back at the project she was working on. “I’m making chimes…. to give The Gem a voice.” She said softly, indicating the two piles. “This one is going to be a yes chime and this one a no chime. I’m hoping the building can ring them… somehow.” She added, half wondering if her idea was stupid. But buildings could shake a bit. And she was hoping this one could too.
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on January 6th, 2019, 11:10 pm

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“They were born in late Summer,” Anja told Kelski. “They are still quite young.” Anja watched as Battle cautiously sniffed her way around the deck, carefully investigating every nook and corner, while Sayeth continued to watch anxiously from behind Anja's legs. The Drykas was still learning about his new friends and the way their lives worked. He knew they were old enough to no longer need to drink milk from their mother, but they still struggled with food that was too tough. Anja suspected they were not old enough to have left their mother quite yet… but that was a matter that the Drykas had had no choice over. Kelski seemed a bit uncertain about them, but Anja was confident that his friend would give them a fair chance just as she had done Maisa. Maisa and Kelski we're fast friends now, after all. Kelski had even taken in a horse of her own.

Anja could see understanding dawning on his friend's face as he recited his troubles to her, and simply the act of getting it off of his chest made the man feel worlds better. Kelski's offer to kill the nuit was made in such an off-hand manner that for a moment Anja was convinced that he had misheard her. “You'll kill...Kelski, no. You mustn't.” Anja's rage at the presence of that creature in his work place was paltry to the concern surging in defense of his friend. “It is weak and slow,” Anja explained. “And I have no doubt that you could slay it effortlessly if you wanted to.” Anja's mind flashed briefly to his witness of Kelski's prowess in the Dust Bed earlier that season. “But I fear the repercussions that we could face once Jeb discovered it's death. He is no fool. If he found it dead or missing, it would be a simple matter for him to guess I was somehow responsible. And I cannot abide the chance of you being put into danger because of it.” Anja grew quiet for a moment. “Something must be done,” he said in a low voice. “But we must proceed with great caution. Jeb is a terrible force to be reckoned with.”

Anja listened as Kelski spoke about the barn, and felt his tensions ease slightly as the subject was changed, and the smallest of smiles grew on his face. It was so thoughtful of Kelski to create a barn that Maisa could easily let herself in and out of. “I'm sure Maisa will teach Moth. He has strider in him, and Maisa will be patient with him.” At Kelski's firm and matter of fact statement that Anja and Maisa would, of course, be staying here, Anja was left momentarily speechless. “Here? At the Gem?” Anja said, finally breaking through his wooden tongue. The thought of living at the Gem had not even occurred to him.

Battle squirmed and yowled in complaint as Kelski scooped her into her arms, but she settled down after a moment, simply rumbling in annoyance. Anja scooped Sayeth up from underneath his chair, and carried a much more willing participant inside, still in a mild daze. Inside, the Gem wrapped Anja in her usual comforting warmth. More tendrils of tension began to ease off of Anja, and he could feel his body begin to relax. Live here? As Anja's mind focused on the possibility, it was a simple matter to realize that there was no better possible place for his new family then here. Maisa would have a barn for shelter, easy access to food, and would not have to be trapped in a stable. The pups would be able to have more eyes looking out for them than just Anja, and would have the opportunity to interact with others, and, most importantly, shelter and safety. Anja wouldn't have to worry about them being hurt if he turned his back for a moment. Kelski and the Gem would help take care of them. The kelvic's question on whether or not they needed to put something on the stairs to protect them from falls only cemented Anja's conviction. Here they would be safe. There really was no further question after that was confirmed, was there?

The daze fell off of Anja like a shroud, and he felt his attention focusing to the matter at hand. “Yes, something to put across the stairs would be good,” Anja said. “At least until we can teach them how to go up and down them. It might be a little while. They're still babies.” When Battle started barking, Anja looked at the pup curiously. “What do you hear?” Anja murmured. He stooped down to place Battle's brother beside her, and watched as Sayeth stiffened as his ears perked up. He didn't bark, but it was clear to Anja for a moment that he was listened closely to something. After a moment, the pup relaxed and began to look around. When Battle trotted off towards Kelski's room, Sayeth followed, much to Anja's surprise.

“They seem very comfortable here,” Anja said, looking over at Kelski with a small smile. It was filled with warmth. “Battle is female. Sayeth is male. Battle earned her name because she is very brave. She fended off rats and protected her siblings before I was able to find her. Sayeth is a male. In Pavi, Sayeth means Shepard. He is very watchful, and he sees and understands things others do not.”

Once Anja was convinced that the pups were well enough on their own, the Drykas began a cursory investigation of the rooms that Kelski had offered to him. He turned away those that were already occupied, and instead looked at those that were still open. They were all much of the same, aside from their locations. After a moment of deliberation, Anja selected a room beside the great stairway leading down to the bottom floor. Once the stairs were covered, it would be a nice location for himself and the pups. It was close to the well-lived in living room. It would be easy to hear if someone was spending time in it, and to go out and socialize with them if so. The thought of being able to spend time with others was a sweet one.

Anja thanked Kelski as she moved his items into his new room and followed the kelvic woman as she showed him her project. “We discussed this before, didn't we?” Anja said thoughtfully. “Wind chimes...one for emotions as well as the yes and no, perhaps a greeting as well? A hello? It might be fun for the Gem as well. She can practice playing music if she likes.”

Anja settled down across from Kelski and took one of the chimes carefully in his hand. He flicked his finger against it, and a dull chime rang in the air for a moment before fading. When the chimes were hung up they would ring far sweeter without Anja's hand breaking the resonance. “What can the Gem's magic let her do?” Anja asked. “Perhaps with a bit of thought we can puzzle out a way for her to use these.” Already, Anja was sliding into a position of comfort and relaxation. It was almost surreal, imagining that this could be his new default instead of the discomfort and anxiety of the Dust Bed. Anja looked at Kelski quietly for a moment. “There aren't really words for me to explain my gratitude to you,” the Eiyon said softly. “I don't know what I can offer you but… anything you need. Anything. I will be there if you need me.”
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Kelski on January 8th, 2019, 2:19 am

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Kelski nodded to Anja’s assessment of the puppies ages. The Kelvic had always had trouble judging age in anything unless it was absolutely clear – as in Mosa’s case – that someone was ancient or an infant. The inbetween ages confused her. Small dogs she thought pups, while large dogs barely off the teat of their bitch she thought old. And it was the same for people. Often, she took her clue from height, but short older humans mistaken for children when it should be obvious that they were not often got her in trouble. It frustrated the Kelvic that she hadn’t quite gotten over figuring this out. It was even harder with animals, especially creatures like horses.

She didn’t confess this to Anja though. He didn’t need to know all her secret failings. Akajia knew she certainly had enough of them.

“We’ll make something to cover the stairs… a little gate. I can do it tonight, so no accidents happen in the darkness. I have scrap wood and some screen I made that should do nicely.” The Kelvic said, knowing one more small carpentry project would not be amiss. The Gods knew with The Midnight Gem, there were a million things to fix and itches to scratch that the building often demanded of her. She didn’t mind, but it was forcing her skills of home repair to come along faster than she perhaps had an interest for.

“Anja. I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t go slit his throat and leave him for Jeb to find. We’ll let your move die down. We’ll see them settled and comfortable, then the Nuit can just vanish as abruptly as it showed up. I would not mind doing that for you. I’d be glad to in fact. Besides, if everything you have told me is true – and I believe your every word in this matter – it will have its body rot off soon enough and will be wearing someone else’s form that should be allowed to waste and settle back to the earth. For all we know, it doesn’t select from what comes across the Dust Bed. It might very well go out and pick what form it wants to wear next and force the spirit that occupies that form to depart before its time. That’s what I would do if I were a creature like that. I would not be content with what dies naturally or by Sunberth’s harsh hands.” Kelski added. “Besides, it’s not even murder. It’s already dead.” She said simply, a matter of fact.

“We can make it look like anything we want too. We can even pay the children at Yedra’s fountain to spread a story that eventually and slowly gets back to Jeb about the Nuit’s fate. You swore to him, but I did not. I’ll do it… and not even for you but for others that won’t then have to go through what you went through… and you will be innocent of it all.” Kelski said firmly, knowing the truth of her words.

Kelski grinned then, and Anja could see the full extent of the predator in her. She loved the hunt. Truthfully LOVED it. And any good excuse for a hunt was an occasion for pleasure and to see that particular itch from her Kelvic nature scratched.

They were back at the table by then, the room selected, and his stuff stowed. Kelski moved a small bookcase across the top of the stairs to temporarily make the place safe for the pups to roam and she was staring at the wind chimes.

“Of course here. Where else? I know you were born in a tent, but its winter and stormy and the city is filthy. Live here. Its clean, there’s a good deal of company which seems you Drykas are used too. You’ve been wasting away in that cemetery without any living to interact with. Don’t the dead make cold bedfellows? Here, you can have your choice… lots of food, a makeshift family, and Maisa has something to do… an apprentice to take on and teach a little boldness too. All of you are welcome. You can stay as long as you like and leave as you will. You can have friends over, and a place that’s safe to relax.” Kelski insisted, shrugging. “The only thing we ask is you help with the chores. Cook sometimes, go get groceries and clean as needed, that type of thing. Everyone takes turns.” The Kelvic didn’t realize she was actually describing something very like Pavilion life, though found in a city with solid walls.

“Yes.. we did discuss it. I’m just now getting around to doing it though.” Kelski said, picking up the wind chimes and then a roll of wire she had. She was going to make chain to hang the chimes with. Carefully she demonstrated to Anja what she was going to do. “I’m going to make thin chain to hang them with. Its easy to do. I made the alloy for this flexible wire earlier then pulled it until was the thickness I wanted. Now…I take this iron rod….” Kelski said, picking up the iron rod, and took the roll of wire and held it to the rod.

She began wrapping the rod with the wire, doing so rapidly and efficiently until she slid the whole wrapped wire off the rod. It looked like a brand new spring. Then she took a pair of cutters and clipped down one length of the spring. It fell apart into what looked like tiny chain links, opened slightly on one end. Then she dug down into a tool box sitting on the table, pulled out four pairs of tiny jewelcrafting pliers. She showed Anja how to take a plier in each hand, pick up a link, loop it through another link from the pile, and squeeze it closed. It wasn’t hard, apprentice work actually, but it made a neat little chain if one sat for bells and strung the open links through each other and closed them.

When she thought he understood, she pushed half the pile to him and two of the four pairs of pliers, and grinned.

“Now… as for what The Gem can do with its magic…. Lets find out. You just took a room right? So as you work, talk to me about what is comfortable for you. What you like in a room, be it a structure that’s solid or a tent like you grew up in. What soothes you? What colors and textures do you like? What sort of bedding? Lighting? Just talk to me about what you want. The Gem will hear you.” Kelski said abruptly, and then picked up her set of pliers and went back to stringing her chain.

While Anja was talking, Kelski tapped her link to The Gem. It was watchful, alert, already paying attention. She communicated her love and affection for this man down that link, and how much she wanted him to be comfortable here. She urged The Gem to listen to what his words would reveal and settle itself and his room into what he needed, wanted, and desired.

She’d string chain for a while, and when Anja was done talking, she’d set the project aside, beckon him to follow, and they’d go look at the room he’d selected one more time. Her face would hold a grin, a big one, for she knew now that The Gem was fully awake, it could do wondrous things with its interiors.
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on January 12th, 2019, 7:41 pm

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A look of deep thought and contemplation grew on Anja's features. The Eiyon wanted the Nuit dead. The pursuit in the death of undead was something that was so intensely ingrained in his psyche that the thought of allowing that creature to exist for one moment longer in a place meant for rest brought the Eiyon agony. He had been sick with it, not just in the existence of the creature but also with Jeb betrayal. He still couldn't wrap his mind around how Dira could possibly allow someone with her mark to employ that creature. Wasn't the death of those clinging unnaturally to their half-lives something that his Lady sought out without exception? There has to be something behind it that Anja couldn't see. But regardless of Dira's mysterious machinations, that did not change Anja's feelings on the matter. If he could find a way to kill the creature, he would. There was no possible way that Dira could fault him for that.

“If this is a thing that you think can be done, then I will trust your judgement,” Anja replied after a moment's thought. “And if you want to know how to kill a nuit...well, it's not hard.” For a tick, Anja's mind flashed to the image of a nuit wearing his wife's skin, on the ground, begging for mercy. Anja blinked the memory away. “They are particularly weak just after they change bodies,” Anja said in a voice devoid of emotion. “But even at other times they are physically weak and slow. Their dead bodies weigh them down and they don't move very well. Their only strength is time. Often they are powerful magic users. You must bear in mind that wounds to the body won't usually kill them, at least not immediately. The quickest way is to cut off their head or damage their brain somehow. You use knives don't you? I don't suppose they're very good at decapitations. You could stab them in the ear, or eye perhaps. Or if that fails, enough damage to their body will kill them eventually.”

Anja was in his seat by then, and he leaned back into his chair and tented his hands. “Don't get me wrong Kelski. I want that monster dead more than anybody. If you have a plan, than tell me what I can do to help.”

A soft sigh parted Anja's lips as Kelski spoke of the things that Anja could gain from living at the Gem. He didn't take much convincing. Once the prospect of living here had wedged itself in his mind, it had stuck fast inside him and dawned a growing hope. The prospects of food and shelter dwarfed the other things that Kelski spoke of; company. Family. Fellowship. He was a Drykas; for most of his life he had lived never far from family and friends. Anja's isolation had undoubtedly worn on his mind, with Maisa's company bring the only thing to keep him from losing himself completely in the pursuit of his Goddess’ desire. But here he could have a place where he was not just tolerated, but accepted. It was almost dream-like to the man.

His lips twitched with a smile as Kelski iterated the only requirement for him living at the Gem. “That will not be a problem,” Anja said, the smallest of laughs bubbling up in his throat. “I will gladly handle any task you ask of me Kelski. I am not much of a cook but I would be happy to learn. I can tend to the horses, clean, and run errands. Whatever you wish of me, you need only ask.” For some people, chores were a dull thing that were completed in a grudging hurry so that tasks could be moved on to other pursuits of the workers choosing. But Anja liked doing chores. It made him feel useful, and there was nothing nicer than having a clean home. His living had been far too simple at the Dust Bed. Here, he imagined there would always be another errand that's needed running.

As Kelski set about to her work with the wind chimes, the Drykas watched with fascination. The people of Endrykas frequently used their hands in various tasks and chores. They were a race of craftsman, with a love of complex crafts made without specialized tools. Even Anja himself had a bit of that craftsman itch, much of which he answered in the creation and practice of his Spiritism. “Did you make these wind chimes yourself?” Anja asked. “And this wire?” The Drykas had a faint understanding of the prospects of metalworking, but hardly enough knowledge to guess at how such objects could be created. Kelski worked the wire so masterfully, it almost seemed to Anja like a type of magic in of itself.

When Kelski put the pliers in Anja's hand, he hesitated. But after all, he had just promised the woman that he would help with chores. Carefully with a slowness befitting someone unpracticed in such work, Anja began stringing the links together and clipping them closed. The work wasn't pretty. Often the Drykas would apply too much pressure to the link, and would bend the wire too far closed and have to wedge the pliers back into the chain to push it back in the right direction. But it was not work that took very much focus, and as Anja continued his task he listened as Kelski spoke to him and replied to her after some consideration. What kind of home did he prefer? It had been so long since he had last been home. He began speaking, almost without realizing it even as he continued his given work. To the Drykas, chores and conversation went hand in hand.

“I do like tents. Not like the one I own and lived in within the Dust Bed. It was cold and impersonal and so...sparse. I like colors, bright colors. Golds and browns and greens. Earth colors. The tents were always covered with tapestries and rugs, and warm wool blankets, all in an ocean of colors. The Drykas love their weaving.” Anja smiled faintly at this. “I would like a small shrine to Dira. A simple place to pray. And a corner to keep my materials for my Spiritism and a place to construct my tools. A basket for storage, and some bowls and utensils for making soulmist. For bedding, all I require is enough blankets to make a sleeping mat out of. I am not accustomed to sleeping in a bed. And lighting...hm. Bright enough to work. But not too bright. As if the light of the sun is being filtered through the top of a tent. And lamplight is the only means of illumination after Syna falls.”

Anja smiled sheepishly as he finished his description. “It seems like a very far odd thing, doesn't it?” The Drykas said. He furrowed his brow in query as Kelski gestured for him to follow, and carefully set down his given tools and assembled links before following after her. When Kelski flung open the door, grinning like a madwoman, all Anja could do for a moment was stare. Then, tentatively, he proceeded into the room, staring about it with the wonder of a child.

The room was like a snapshot taken from the Drykas’ memory. Not a perfect one; the Gem was no mind reader. But it was oh so close, close enough that Anja could practically taste the grassland. And, honestly, in a way he could. The scent of long grass lingered in this room, as if the Sea of Grass were waiting just outside his door. The faint, soothing chirp of birds and bugs echoed from somewhere outside the room. And as for the room itself, it was everything the man could have asked for. The walls of the room appeared to be made of a tent's tarp, and as if by magic (for it was magic wasn't it?) the walls of the room even waved as if being gently pushed by the caress of wind. The entirety of the room was covered in brightly colored tapestries and rugs, gold and green and brown, in a weave so similar to that of the Drykas that Anja almost couldn't tell them apart. The far corner of the room had been piled up with layers of blankets making up a sort of nest. There was even a secondary, smaller nest beside it, next to which sat a small box with a couple of bones inside of it.

Just as Anja had requested, there was a corner dedicated to his Spiritism; a simple, small raised table which Anja could easily sit at and move at will was stashed in the corner beside a set of several baskets. And, displayed proudly at one side of the room a simple shrine sat, marked predominantly by the display of a jackal skull. Anja simply turned to look at Kelski. Words failed him, but his eyes would show the amazement and gratitude that his mouth could not speak.
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Kelski on January 18th, 2019, 2:06 am

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The actual plotting of murder wasn’t something Kelski ever anticipated herself needing to do. But she would kill for her friend, especially if it let him sleep at night more soundly. She didn’t know Nuits and didn’t even hate them like she had the potential to hate humans… but she believed Anja when he said they were an afront to Dira. Anja was a gentle soul, one caring and deeper of thought than most. He didn’t seem to hate arbitrarily or without reason, and she could tell this was certainly bothering him.

“It’s Sunberth, Anja. You know more than most death is a thing that can be done. Though, is it killing if the thing is already dead?” She asked more rhetorically than even really looking for a response. “I’ll think on it, do some reconnaissance and see if we can arrange for the Nuit to die. I’ve never seen one face to face, but if it is as you describe, it might be we can lure it into a place where something else kills it. I value your oath to Jeb so you should not be involved. But I would ask you how to deal with it so that its ghost does not show up and say exactly what happened to it. If things get dead, they should be dead and stay dead. I mean, is there a way to kill a person so it can never come back as a ghost? Especially this Nuit?” She asked, looking at him thoughtfully. Her eyes were molten silver, almost mercurial, and he could see the pure predator in her. Inhuman thoughts crossed her mind, mostly ones that he would agree with… how undead flesh would feed no scavengers and how wasteful it was to wear someone’s former body as a sort of set of flesh clothing that could be changed out as neatly as one changed out their underthings.

Distaste crossed Kelski’s face. “Nasty business, these things. I would almost rather have not known about them. There’s enough things that crawl around in the dark and whisper to horrible Gods as it is, and I know about enough of them to never sleep soundly again. Add in Nuits… “ She shook her head.

Then she offered him a smile. “We need something more pleasant to discuss.” She said abruptly, offering him a smile. “I’m so glad you decided to come here… and bring Maisa. I bet Moth is just as happy with the company.” She added, then steered the conversation more towards his questions, getting him to talk about what sort of dwelling he was comfortable living in.

“The Gem doesn’t know a lot about things in the world. It only knows what it overhears us talking about or what we teach it. Once it knows about your people, if you should teach it a bit, then it will add little things here and there to make you feel more comfortable. I should also warn you that it changes out things as often as it creates new things. I think it grows bored. So, should you grow used to your décor and one day it changes, it’s because the building is just playing, experimenting, learning on its own and growing.” She said gently, and then offered him a smile.

“You should see the Master Suite. It’s started this thing…. I don’t know when it started it… but I think it freaked Kynier out the first time he saw it. We awoke to the walls being made of gemstone. I had been working on a beautiful yellow citrine and admiring it in the workshop. The Gem must have been overlooking my work because the next day we awoke and the walls were made of citrine. Its beautiful, but now it changes out the gemstone sometimes daily. I leave them out on the counter sometimes, in glass trays set up in the light so The Gem can see light filtering through them. It gets them closer and closer to reality each time it changes the walls.” Kelski admitted, as she walked with Anja back towards his room. Stepping aside after opening the door, Kelski peered in curiously as the Drykas walked in a now much bigger room that looked like the inside of a tent. When he didn’t seem to mind, Kelski followed him in and wandered around.

“This would have been a neat place to grow up within. No walls….. I love that. No walls are fantastic.” Kelski said, turning a circle as somehow the fabric walls seemed to ripple in the slight breeze she could not feel within the warm room. A brazier stood in the center of the room as well, warming the interior and she went over to examine it. All the furniture was low, the type that could be broken down and moved, and it fascinated her as she twirled a circle and looked around.

“I’m going to…..” She didn’t know how to say it. “I’m going to ask The Gem for a seed…. so I can do this to the stable. It will be so helpful to the animals that shelter there because if it likes them and turns out to be a good stable, it will keep itself cooler in the summer and warm in the winter as needed. It won’t be The Gem though, more like a child of The Gem. They will have two separate personalities. But it should be strong and healthy being next to its core… not like The Gem was all alone when it was built.” Kelski explained, not sure she should tell Anja how much time she had to spend simply being with The Gem and talking to it.

“But it would be helpful if you spent time there, talking to it, letting it know what’s needed. Maybe, if its something you’d like… you can pick up some of this magic.” She said, looking thoughtful and offering him a smile. “I will have to do the same, being its maker.” Kelski was no Kynier, guarding her knowledge tightly not trusting people to use it respectfully. If she trusted the person, she trusted them with everything. Kelvics weren’t built to run solo, they needed people to support and protect. They were built to be open and loving and generous. If Anja wanted to help with the stable, then perhaps he could help with it fully and learn some of the magic. It would be something they could share… a common ground. Though it would put Anja’s life in danger if someone ever found out.
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on January 30th, 2019, 10:48 pm

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“I am unsure if there is a way to prevent someone from becoming a ghost,” Anja said uncertainty. Come to think of it, was it even possible for a nuit to become a ghost? Well at the very least it was a far better fate than that of being an undead. “If it has regrets I suppose is always a chance,” Anja said, hesitantly. “I suppose if we are to kill it we should either make sure it does not know it was us, or else be assured that it has no regrets. Perhaps a quick clean death will aid us towards that end.”

Talk of nuits fell effortlessly to the wayside. It was easy to temporarily cast aside the source of the Eiyon's unease with the reassurance that he and his companions could be cared for and kept safe. It was only temporary of course; there was no possible way that Anja could ignore the source of his grief for too terribly long. But he could allow himself to feel a hint of happiness and to indulge in gratitude for Kelski's timely rescue. The nuit could wait...for now. Anja could now be confident that it's fate was waiting for it right around the corner, and there were far more joyful things that the two friends could speak of. A soft smile warmed Anja's features as Kelski revealed her gladness at the Drykas coming to join her. “I am happy we could be here as well,” Anja answered her. “I'm sure Moth will be happy to have Maisa around more often. And I'm positive she will appreciate having a friend in a shape closer to her own.”

Anja listened intently as Kelski spoke further on the wonders that the Gem was capable of accomplishing. “It experiments,” the man murmured, half to himself. “How charming.” There was something very quaint in the thought of a sentient building tentatively exploring its surroundings like that of a child. “That reminds me a little of my son,” Anja mused. “Lok. He was never content in any one thing. He was always experimenting with new skills or jobs...I might find him training dogs one day, or practicing braiding the next...there weren't many children in our Pavilion. I think everyone indulged him.” Thinking of the Gem as a child tickled Anja's fancy. He had always had a soft spot for little ones. “I would love to see your master suite. It sounds beautiful.”

When the pair finally entered Anja's new room, it took the man a bit of time to recover from his speechlessness. When he finally found words, the man's hand was gently brushing up against the rough canvas in the place of walls; a barrier that should not have been capable of existing. “No walls; yes. Much of our time was spent outside as well. It was very free.” Anja took a few long moments to walk from here to there touching all of the pieces of furniture and familiarizing himself with his new surroundings. A knot was growing in the man's throat, but he forced it down. He hadn't realized what a hole his absence from Endrykas had left on his heart. The man refocused as Kelski spoke of the Gem and...seeds. He turned to look at her and curiosity grew on the man's features as she spoke. “I would be happy to speak to it, as well as the Gem,” Anja said. “But this talk of learning the magic intrigues me. Are you saying that I could learn to speak with the Gem as well?” The thought was...warming. The Gem was caring for Anja, and he enjoyed the thought that he could help care for it as well, along with its... child. “Spiritism will always be my primary calling,” Anja said haltingly. “But if you would teach me to use this magic, I would gladly learn it.” Anja barely even considered the thought of magic being taboo within Sunberth. Even if Spiritism weren't allowed he would still practice it. Perhaps with the aid of this magic, which eased and drew the souls of the dead, Anja could work his own magic more effectively.
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A Place to Belong [The Midnight Gem]

Postby Kelski on February 1st, 2019, 4:58 am

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Kelski didn’t continue to respond to Anja’s quiet distress about the Nuit but she keenly felt his situation. She wanted to help. And even though the topic had moved on, Kelski was still contemplating his issues at the back of her mind. A plan was forming, but one that would need a delicate touch. The Nuit wasn’t going to last long, that was for certain, especially if it made Anja so angry and hurt him because of the memories of his family and their death. She couldn’t imagine losing a mate and a child to that situation… and Anja had.

Death should never feed death. It wasn’t the way the natural world worked. Death fed life. Always. And anything else was an afront to The Gods and Goddesses of everything perhaps save Chaos.

As Anja explored his new quarters, Kelski wasn’t surprised he brought up his son. She knew his family and their murder wasn’t far from his mind. The fact that The Gem reminded him of Lok surprised her. “I don’t know much about little humans. I don’t even think I had much of a childhood and I certainly haven’t been around any children. This… this building is probably the closest thing I’ve been to being a mother. I feel protective of it, proud of it, and I feel a lot in my heart for it. I wonder if it is happy and try to do things to make it so. But its still hard, not knowing if I am doing the right thing or being a good mage to it. I have a book my family sent me. When I get good enough to talk The Gem out of a seed, you can be there with me when I try to awaken the stable with whatever The Gem provides us with. There is a section in the book about… about helping people learn. But the truth is I am a terrible learner myself. I … don’t know much about magic and what Kynier has told me sometimes scares me. I was so bad at it, Anja, that he forbid me from using any of it without him being around. I don’t know how good of a teacher I’ll be. But I can certainly try.” She said, doubting her ability to teach anyone anything beyond just the bare facts.

Maybe she could learn a thing or two from Anja. It would certainly help having what was essentially another mage to lean on, even though what Anja did wasn’t truly considered a magic in Sunberth. She’d ask Kynier, but they fought too much over magic and she didn’t want to add tension to their current situation. And besides, she was still a bit mad about the Morphing journal… mad enough to have not let him near her Architectrix book for fear of him taking it away. She wasn’t even sure he knew much about it.

“Either way… all we can do is try.” She said, looking thoughtful.

“I don’t honestly really talk to The Gem. Not like you and I talk to each other. It is more of a presence in the back of my mind. Sometimes, when I am sad, it will come wrap its awareness around me like say a person can engulph another person in their arms to hug them. It nudges my mind and sends me pictures and emotions. If something is broken on it or annoying it, The Gem can show me pictures… a shutter for a window with a broken hinge and it banging against the side of the building in an annoying fashion….things like that.” She added, looking thoughtful. “The perspective is always weird… like it takes me a few chimes to figure out what I’m seeing because its shown from The Gem’s viewpoint, not someone looking at a building’s shutter…” She added, then paused.

“I’m with it. But there are no words. I feel what it feels and it feels what I feel and we seem to know each other well through those feelings. But I also sense its restlessness, its curiosity, its need to be better, to have love and family… its insecurities, its doubts, even its protectiveness.” Kelski broke off for a moment, swallowed, and glanced at Anja.

Those were her feelings, her needs…. how did she and The Gem share the same needs? It wasn’t a coincidence was it?

She said nothing more. Kelski didn’t want too. But she did reach out and make sure she was linked firmly with the building when Anja reacted to his new room décor so The Gem could see first hand how its work was appreciated and indeed needed.

Its pleasure rolled back over her causing Kelski to relax and smile. They might be alike, but they certainly weren’t the same souls.

“If you can put up with my lack of teaching skills… I can try.” She said, beckoning him to follow for a moment. She’d show him her master suite really fast… first so he knew where she slept and how to find her in the night if he needed anything, but morso because she wanted to show him how The Gem was decorating her suite as well.

They passed out of Anja’s room, crossed the living room, then turned east into what opened up as a large study. There was a fireplace, bookshelves everywhere that held nicknacks and a smattering of books. An easle belonging to Kynier was in one corner, and a pair of wing-backed chairs graced in front of a fireplace that looked double sided.

Kelski lead him through another door at the far wall on the side of the hearth and they were suddenly in her bedroom. Only it wasn’t actually like a real bedroom currently. It was like the inside of a deep violet geode. There was a normal bed, couch resting in front of the other side of the fireplace, and a pair of wardrobes and a desk… but the floor was amethyst and the walls were of the same stuff. The floor was polished and gleamed smoothly like a cut crystal. The walls were rough with a multitude of crystals all shades of purple and violet.

It was really lovely. And everything about it seemed to point to Kelski’s love of gemstones.

Kelski gave him a quick tour, showing him the bathing chamber off her room and the rest of the space she shared with Kynier. Kelski was neat. The bed was always made… the throw pillows on the couch always fluffed, and there were no clothes laying around needing to be picked up. The desk in her room was slightly chaotic with supplies scattered across it where someone was making notes and adding to maps, but it didn’t look like Kelski’s hand in things. Nothing was jewelry related and certainly didn’t look magical in nature.

The glimpse of Kelski’s workshop below was also as pristine, but mundane looking due to its ‘within public sight’ situation.

“Well, that’s the whole tour. You’ve seen everything else. Just be good to The Gem and she’ll be good to you.” Kelski said suddenly, smiling, and reaching out to run a hand over the geode that made up the walls.

Then she led Anja back through the study, into the living area, and gratefully sat down before the low burning hearth. “What do you think… of all of this?” She asked abruptly, wanting to know if he could be happy here more than anything else. She hoped he could be, for Anja had a lot of sadness in his eyes.
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