Needle and Quill

Each is a different flavor of foreign (Oresnya).

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The westernmost tip of Kalea, Wind Reach is home to an amazing group of people and their giant eagle mounts. [Lore]

Needle and Quill

Postby Lani Stranger on January 1st, 2019, 9:27 pm

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39th of Winter, 518AV
It felt almost annoying to Lani to come back after her two days off. For most of her life she had not worked a job that required much brain power or muscle power, but never had she considered a job that required finesse. It was not mind-numbing work because if she didn’t pay attention to the words before her, especially since Kavisan had ran out of Common text to feed her and had started her on easier Nari documents; she would ruin her only job and have to start over. Wind Reach required work, and while many did not think about the scribes in the Enclave as doing real work, Lani deeply valued the preservation of knowledge, and how it benefited the city that worked so hard to survive. But today, well, today was not her day. Today she had bags under her eyes and a weight to her step as she tried to work up the energy to arrive to the Enclave. So as the sun began to rise and Lani shuffled into the Enclave, her mind managed to blank on what she was expected to do.

”Felicity’s Fabrics.” Kavisan barely looked up to see Lani’s dark figure approaching. He was fairly curt with her, although she suspected she was warming up to him the better she got with his language. The Avora had little tolerance for outsiders, but he was still one of the kinder Inarta she had met, considering the alternative.

”Excuse me?” She asked politely in Nari, and Kavisan looked up with a sharp glare, which made her think she had used the wrong phrase. ”I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” She tried to backtrack, trying to show him she did not mean to offend. Whenever she managed to do that he sent her to the Stables, or worse, the Processing Center to work for the day. She hated it.

”You must go to Felicity’s Fabrics, she needs some help with the bookkeeping. Catalog her materials and wages and do the math so she can project for next season.” Lani merely nodded, surprised that such work was needed so early on in the season, but not questioning the Avora regardless.

”I can take, uh…. Material?”

”Materials, yes you can take some with you. And, remember, when you are asking use the verb first.” Kavisan corrected her, and she noted the plural form of the word that she had forgotten to use as well as the seemingly backward sentence stricter she was not used to. At least he was correcting her now, last season he would have ignored her completely until she came up with the correct pronunciations on her own or just gave up and slunk to the back to dust like a Dek. Lani nodded and headed to the work room to gather the supplies she would need before. She had to cut two pieces of raw parchment and pre-steam one of them to be rolled so that once she was done doing the math she could present the text right there. Lani left the other parchment stiff and plain, opting to simply fold it in half instead. Without one of the fancy counting machines she had seen in Zeltiva, with the beads and the colors, she would have to do the math in her mind which would require scrap paper, no matter how good she was. Which she wasn’t, math was not her favorite form of higher education.

The scribe rolled her favorite glass quill into the stain rag, and tucked that into her satchel, reminding herself she would need to get one commissioned from the glassblowers at the next market day. She had never seen a glass quill before and was so enamored with it that the mixed blood wanted thirty of them. Not that she had use for thirty quills though.

Once Lani had all the things she thought she would need carefully placed into her satchel and headed out the front of the Enclave. ”Goodbye Kavisan!” She waved cheerily as she passed, whistling the departing note in Nari, which elicited his usual unamused grunt in reply. She grinned to herself as she began down the passageways of the city. She was warming on him, weather he admitted it or not. The oppressive fire lit warrens of the city clouded her mood immediately again, and Lani realized why she was dipping into an odd depressive stage. There was no sun. They city had been cowering from Zulrav and Makutsi’s thunderous dance for nearly a whole moon now and the lack of Syna’s kiss was beginning to weigh on the desert creature, she didn’t like it. Still, Lani was headed towards an old embarrassment, and it was not the best time to be a tired mute clump of foreignness. If Felicity recalled last season’s encounter at all, she might be turned away at the door. The flirtatious half-Eypharian had not seen the fiery Inarta since, but anxiety still pestered her stomach at the thought of Felicity bringing it up.

When she reached the wooden door that was pressed into the stone passageway, she took a deep breath, straightening her dark blue Vinati and black Bryda. She did not wear her daggers or her sword, not finding use for them in the city, as she wasn’t skilled enough to use them in a pinch. Nervously she ran a hand through her plain black hair which was not done up in braids like the Inarta typically wore it. She was dressing more like the redhaired humans, but she would never be one of them, that much was obvious. It was slightly lighter than she was anticipating and so it swung faster than she could catch it, banging into the wall. It was not the loudest bang, but among the quieter seamstresses and chitchat of the work room, it was not exactly subtle.

”Oh,” Felicity’s disappointment was audible in her single undefined word. Lani met the soft blue gaze with her overwhelming black eyes and immediately plastered an award-winning grin. She wasn’t going to let any Inarta wear her down.

”Good morning Felicity, I sent by Kavisan to keep book.” She explained, in the best Nari that she could manage. She was at a point now where she was trying to make her own sentences rather than use pre-memorized phrases, and so her words tended to come out a little off, and her grammar structures required context clues to understand.

”Yes, of course. I swear that old man is just messing with me.” Her Nari picked up in speed and she muttered something to the Inarta beside her. ”He hears that I’ve been sent a bloodsucker for a Chiet, and so he sends me the spider-eyed one as well. What an ass.” Lani did not catch was the aside was, as it was too low and fast for her to understand, but she wasn’t going to let it bother her. Felicity chuckled with the Inarta she spoke to and then wound herself around the area she was working at, striding towards Lani with the same smooth swing that had tempted the foreigner in the first place. Lani understood now that Felicity did not remember the last time they had met, or was choosing to ignore it, so the scribe made an effort not to show the embarrassment, or lingering attraction, on her face.

”Well, you can start by cataloging the materials. You will have to go to each of my workers and keep track of what they have and what they’ve used.” Felicity spoke slower so that Lani could understand, but used too big words for her vocabulary to catch up to.

”What does ‘cataloging’ mean?” Lani asked when she thought Felicity had reached a pause, and the Avora shot her a quick glare.

”Count it. I’ve had a change in workers this season, so I have to reconfigure my math, which is what I expect you are smart enough to do?” Again there were words too big for Lani to understand, but she definitely understood the sour note at the end. Used to it from Avora by now, Lani simply beamed at the woman, forcing her eyes to crinkle and the smile to be genuine although it was not anywhere near real. She found cheerily ignorance was far better received than her usually confrontational manners. She had gotten slapped enough in her first season to realize that. Lani had noticed that the Avora’s glare had shifted from herself to a particular figure in the room when she mentioned new workers, so Lani followed her gaze. Immediately her smile faltered as she took in the strange looking woman. It seemed as if someone had leeched all the color from this woman, with strange grey skin that matched her hair. She seemed to be so very pale it was unsettling, but it was not the beautiful iridescent pale of the Konti that Lani had always admired and wanted to imitate, but a fragile looking pale that screamed foreignness, even to her. When Lani saw her eyes, they were a shocking violet color rather than a dull grey as she was expecting, which only made the mixed blood more curious. She had never seen a woman like this before, and while Lani didn’t think she looked very human, this stranger was even less so.

”Thank you, Felicity.” Lani gave a slight bow, deciding to start with the strange looking woman. If there was anything that Lani was, it was reckless, and her earlier dim mood was forgotten in light of uncovering this strange creature’s secrets, or at least figuring out what she was. Lani did not see Felicity wave her away because she was already headed to the workspace where the grey woman sat, curiosity brightening her eyes and a curious lift to her cheeks.

”Hello, I am Lani, I will keep book. You will help me.” She whistled the Nari words quietly so as not to disturb the other seamstresses, but directly so that the strange woman knew what she was saying.
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Needle and Quill

Postby Oresnya Cacao on January 5th, 2019, 10:08 pm

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Keep your head down.

Yora had given Oresnya that advice when recommending a visit to Wind Reach. Plenty of what Oresnya had encountered in her first few weeks in the city had supported that advice as being sound. Felicity, the owner of the shop Oresnya found herself working for most, had made it explicitly clear that Oresnya was not here to apprentice beneath her. Widow, as Felicity found herself inclined to call Oresnya, was a Chiet and was, therefore, only fit for menial tasks. Whenever Oresnya’s head began to rise and her eyes began to wander to a lesson Felicity was giving those Inarta beneath her, a sharp “Widow” spoken by the shop owner was all that was needed to remind her to get back to her task, even if she had none to return to.

Keep your head down.

It was becoming her mantra, a phrase to live life by, a phrase that was doing her no good. Sure, it had kept her from pissing anyone off, irking them to the extreme that she was disinvited to the city, but it also had kept her from making any friends. At the moment, she would have settled for mere contacts. But the slow and steady route she was on would get her the results she was looking for, if she had patience and gave it time to work.

The first thing she needed to do was impress Felicity, and she was far from possessing the finesse to be able to do that. Oresnya’s focus in Kalinor had been on weaving, not in making clothing or repairing it. Her knowledge was close to nonexistent in these matters, and the fact that she had only done a few minor repairs on her own clothing in her life showed. But Oresnya had a student’s heart, and whenever Felicity was willing to show her how to do something, Oresnya partook in the opportunity to its fullest. However, Felicity was still not willing to trust Oresnya with anything other than clothing belonging to a Dek.

Today, it seemed, was not a day for learning, so Oresnya kept her head down. Her nose was currently buried in her work. A Dek had inherited a pair of pants from another Dek far taller than himself and the legs had to be hemmed. While the man was still wearing them, Oresnya had rolled the bottom of each leg up so that it sat at his ankle, then pinned them in place. With as threadbare and patchy as the pants already were, Oresnya wasn’t sure the pants were worth the alterations, but the Dek had used some of his precious little money to have it done. Now, the monotonous task of sewing them so he didn’t step on them began.

First, she selected the appropriate colored thread. Felicity had been adamant about this much. No matter whose clothing they were dealing with, from the most respected Endal to the lowest Dek, their work had to be impeccable. Like any good business owner, she wanted to make certain that whenever anyone spoke about her work or the work of those she oversaw, they had nothing but praise. If it was a Dek, she wanted the Dek to brag to other Deks about how well repaired their clothes were. Finding the color of thread that matched, she selected something with a little more holding power, something less delicate, something that would stand up to the rigorous work the Dek would be put through.

With the thread in hand, she made her way back to the table where the pinned pants lay waiting for her. Unraveling enough thread from the spool for a single leg, she cut it with a pair of nearby shears and threaded it through the eye of a needle, then tied the two loose ends into a thick knot that would serve anchor the thread at its starting point. For this particular task, the sewing motions were simple enough. In one side, out the other, then back the other direction, always taking similar sized lengths of fabric. The trick was to keep the bites of cloth small and even. The result was a much slower sewing job, but one that was more secure and neat. While others here needed a thimble to protect their skin, Oresnya just used her thick nails to push the needle through the fabric, feeling for where it would exit the other side with the soft skin of the fingertips of her other hand.

The work was monotonous, but that didn’t make it bad. What made it unbearable was the silence she had to endure it in. In Kalinor, weaving cloth always seemed to be accompanied by weaving tales. Someone would begin a story to keep the rest entertained, and while often everyone else would remain silent to enjoy the story, it would sometimes devolve into everyone adding in details of their own and the story becoming a group effort. There was no such custom here. Sure, the apprentices made some idle chatter, chirping away like a little flock of song birds, but Oresnya was not welcome in their conversation.

So she kept her head down. And eavesdropped. The rapid fire delivery of Nari was difficult to keep up with, especially when Oresnya knew as little of it as she did. Most of what she caught were simple phrases or single common words. Every once in a while, she would catch the word “widow” spoken followed by brief laughter. As much as she wanted to respond with some biting remark, she didn’t know her words well enough. So she continued to keep her head down.

Until someone let the door swing too wide open and it slammed against the wall. All chatter halted, and every head turned toward the door, Oresnya’s included. She was expecting another Inarta, so when she saw the dark-haired, dark-eyed, tall young woman standing in the doorway, she was surprised. It was not Oresnya’s way to stare as the Symenestra were wont to put on an air propriety, but the stark contrast of the stranger with the Inarta was too much to ignore. The longer she stared, the more aware of the differences Oresnya became. The woman’s eyes weren’t dark. They were black, completely so, lacking any of the whites of the eyes Oresnya was so accustomed to, even in strangers.

Felicity and the woman began a brief conversation, but at the mention of something, Felicity’s eyes jumped in Oresnya’s direction. Immediately, Oresnya cast her gaze back down at her work and managed to stab herself in her finger with the needle.

Keep your eyes down, she scolded herself. She knew better than to get distracted. Felicity herself was distracted enough by the stranger’s arrival that she didn’t reprimand Oresnya for having idle hands, so Oresnya made sure she was busy by the time Felicity would be able to turn her attention Oresnya’s way.

In one side. Out the other. Back the opposite direction. In one side. Out the other. Eyes down. Back the opposite direction.

Oresnya was so caught up in her work that she didn’t see the other woman approach her until she was standing at her side. There was friendliness and curiosity in the woman’s eyes, rather than the usual disdain and dismissal Oresnya was accustomed to, and with her this near, Oresnya could detect an exotic and beautiful scent emanating from the stranger. If she had the time, Oresnya’d have to ask the stranger what bath she had gone to for that. Nari sped from the woman’s mouth, and Oresnya was only able to catch little bits. “Hello. I am Lani.” Something about books followed. “Help me.”

Holding her hand up in a staying gesture, Oresnya responded as well as she could. “Slow, please, ma’am.” Her Nari chirped out slowly like some drunk bird but not the kind whimsical on love in the spring. Rather, it was the slow chirp of a bird that had been blown into the trunk of a tree or, through some folly of his sight, had flown into the glass pane of a window. “We do not sell… books. Here. Only clothes.”

Everything was coming out piecemeal, and Oresnya could only hope that she was saying the right words. She beamed her best smile, forgetting how well it showed off the vicious canines so typical of her people. Reminded for some reason of propriety, Oresnya stood and slid a stool over for the person she assumed was her customer. Pushing her hemming work to one side of the table, she gave the woman her full attention, locking eyes gently in a search for a hint of sclera at the edges of her eyes.

“Now,” she began in Common before slipping back into Nari, “how can I help you?”
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Needle and Quill

Postby Lani Stranger on January 9th, 2019, 3:34 am

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The strange pale woman seemed to be directly avoiding her gaze. It dimmed Lani’s friendly smile a slight bit, although not enough to slow her pursuit. Did this stranger not like her as well? Lani would have thought they would have a common ground to speak at least, since both where so obviously not welcome in this volcano. But once the woman spoke, she realized what the avoiding gaze and look was for. She was new to Nari.

”Oh,” Lani said, realizing she was speaking too fast. She was fairly new herself, although with two seasons of constant use and immersion under her belt, the mixed blood was vastly improving her language skills. The woman beamed at her, and when Lani saw the glimmering white teeth that didn’t seem to stand out across her pale skin, the word to describe the woman floated into her brain. Symenestra. She remembered the old lady at the emerald pool that had scared Lani and her new friend at the time, Madeira, nearly to death. The crumpled Symenestra had been terrifying for the eight year old to look at, but the woman before her was graced with youth. Papery-grey skin stretched across her thin bony cheeks still spoke of life, in their odd cave-dwelling ways. It occurred to Lani that the pale woman might feel more at home than herself, in the Volcano. Lani could hardly handle being cut off from the sun, and the moon, but she supposed this foreigner might be more familiar than her. And yet this woman would be more ostracized than her. Where Lani had thought she was the most foreign thing to come to this city, she now looked at the thing which was more foreign than even her black eyes and glimmering skin.

”We shouldn’t speak too much common.” Lani looked over her shoulder to see how distracted Felicity was and speaking low to the woman. The Inarta didn’t like to hear the foreign language, with the exception of Val Imsun of course, and Lani didn’t want to make this Symenestra feel more out of place than she was. ”I don’t need you to help me write books actually, I am taking account of the resources here for Felicity. I work as a scribe in the Enclave, but am supposed to help here today.” Lani explained, although she spoke a little slower than she would have liked, since she got the feeling that even with common being spoke, they Symenestra before her would be a little slower at understanding. It had been so long since the mixed blood spoke her native tongue that she found her mind blanking as she tried to find the words for what she wanted to say.

”What is your name?” She asked in Nari, speaking a little louder so as not to appear to suspicious to the listening Inarta in the room. Lani set her parchment down on the table that the woman had cleared and set the inkwell down as well, uncapping it and then turning back to her back to search for the quill. ”And how long have you worked here?” She switched back to Common, deciding to begin her work, unsure if she would be believed if the simple cataloging of materials took all day.

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Needle and Quill

Postby Oresnya Cacao on January 15th, 2019, 2:15 pm

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Oresnya was grateful for Lani’s use of Common. It was revealing in many ways. Even though the black-eyed woman slowed it down for Oresnya’s sake, the Common still spilled off her tongue faster than the Nari did. It confirmed her as a foreigner, just as much so as the Symenestra, though Lani’s familiarity with Nari said she had been here longer. There was more than that though. Her accent and certain turns of phrase betrayed a little of Lani’s history. There was a small Cyphrus accent buried beneath it all, but the hint of Kalean influence was heavier. Oresnya couldn’t quite narrow it down to a specific city as her stays in each of them had been so brief, but she knew the region well enough to recognize that much. Overall, the accent spoke of someone who was well-traveled, who had seen much of the world. Whether Lani had or not, she’d like to find out. A fellow wanderer like herself would be a welcome addition to this city.

She’d have to be careful not to insult the woman. Her mere existence seemed enough to do that for most here. To that end, she tried not to stare too much, but she couldn’t break her fascination with the woman’s eyes. There was no white to them, no matter how much she looked. Settling for what she felt was comfortable eye contact, Oresnya let Lani go on.

With Lani’s brief explanation, Oresnya realized her mistake with the particular connotation of the word book and agreed with the fellow foreigner that their use of Common should be sparse. Felicity had made it clear that she didn’t want to hear it spoken, at least not by Oresnya. If she was to live here, then she would speak their language. If she was being honest, Oresnya couldn’t fault her for that. Wind Reach was a proud culture, and knowing she was headed here, she should have practiced her Nari a little more.

When Lani asked for her name, Oresnya realized she hadn’t given it. So much for her propriety and manners. “My apologies.” She managed that much in Nari before dropping back into Common. “I should’ve introduced myself.” Introductions were simple enough, so she moved back into her stumbling Nari. “I am Oresnya. Of the Cacao web.” She remembered herself and where she was and added in Common, “Or you could always call me Widow, if you prefer.”

She used the Nari word for her title. Though she knew it was a sign of Inartan distaste for her presence, Oresnya was beginning to adopt it as a term of endearment. Once, Oresnya had caught Felicity saying it as if she actually cared that Oresnya existed. She smiled at that memory, one of the few fond ones she had made since her arrival.

She continued her best in Nari. “I am here less than two-” she couldn’t come up with the word for fortnights, so she tried something different, “less than forty day.” She thought about it a moment. “The sixth, the day I arrived.” Unable to conjure the right words for the next bit, she slipped comfortably back into whispered Common. “How about yourself? Pardon me for saying it, but you don’t sound like a native.”

Oresnya would let Lani answer her if she wanted before getting to the business at hand. Felicity didn’t like her hands being idle. “Where to begin? Many thing here. Fabric? Sewing thing? Loom and raw thread? Table? Something else?”
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Needle and Quill

Postby Lani Stranger on January 20th, 2019, 8:08 am

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”Widow, okay.” Lani tasted the Nari word in her mouth, unsure of what it meant. Given how little Nari this woman seemed to know, the foreigner wondered if it was a not-so endearing name that had been given to her, like Lani had been called spider-eyes for so long before figuring out what it meant. She hadn’t like the name, but she had gotten used to it and it seemed that Widow was doing the same. The thought made Lani frown. She hadn’t like the oppression and xenophobia of the Reach herself, but as she realized that another foreigner, who was wholly unlike herself or the Inarta, was experiencing the same things she went through, spark of defensiveness found light in her chest. She had no allegiance to this woman, of which race she was not even sure, but she felt a need to help guide her. To protect her from abusive Avora and manipulating Endal, and the unfair caste system that didn’t change for anyone, no matter how much money they held.

”Forty day? Oh, um fortnight. Two fortnights.” She gave the name of the word that Widow was looking for, wondering if they had the same measure of time wherever she was from. Lani had heard of a fortnight, but had never really used it as a term of time counting, having always simply used multiples of ‘tenday’ to explain the passing of time shorter than a moon, but longer than the days she could count on one hand. When Oresnya asked where to begin, Lani remembered she was here to work. Glancing absenting around her, she zeroed in on the available supplies on the woman’s desk.

”I suppose we should start with how many supplies you’ve used.” Lani said, pulling her inkwell from her bag and uncapping it before setting it on the surface between them and finding her glass pen as well. Once she was prepared to write, she picked up a spool of thread, and wiggled it between them. ”How many of these have you used?” She asked in common still, forgetting that Nari was the preferred language of the room. After Oresnya answered and Lani jotted the number down, her curiosity interrupted her work.

”So you arrived on the sixth? Where from?” Lani peered up at the strange woman from her lashes, trying to offer innocence and curiosity on her face while focusing on her auristic sense that told her the movements of one’s aura and what they meant. Even in common, Oresnya seemed less than stellar, and so Lani focused on the foreign woman’s auristic’s while she answered her, hoping that having an insight on her emotions would help her understand better.
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Needle and Quill

Postby Oresnya Cacao on January 22nd, 2019, 3:15 pm

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“Fortnight.” Oresnya spoke the word several times over, attempting to commit it to memory. There were so many new things she had to remember every single day and, though she tried to hold on to them all and maybe because she tried to hold on to them all, most of them slipped through the cracks, leaving her feeling as dumb as when she started. Just to try to keep it cemented in her mind, she repeated it one last time, giving Lani a smile after she did. “Fortnight. Thank you.”

When Lani got to business, Oresnya looked into a small basket on her station with empty spools of thread, then gently upended it, keeping the spools from rolling away with her free hand. Once she had them on the table top, she separated them into pile by color. Each had a little bit of thread left on it to tell what had been there, so it could be replaced. Taking a quick account of what was there, Oresnya was amazed at what she could use in less than forty days’ time.

“Two of red. Eleven of brown. Four of black. One of blue,” she told Lani in Nari. Colors and numbers were easy. It seemed to be the first thing anyone learned in any language, so Oresnya used the opportunity to work on her pronunciation. Her attempts to stifle her Symenos accent failed brilliantly. The words that should have been shortly chirped rolled lulling-like of her tongue. Still, she felt victorious and smiled as she summed the total up. “Eighteen.”

Lani’s next question caught Oresnya off guard. “So you arrived on the sixth? Where from?”

It was a question she’d only been asked once before and only so the person could tell her to go back to where she belonged. It put her on edge, and Oresnya’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. But the look the woman followed it with put those fears to rest. Not but a few moments ago, Oresnya had felt the same look in her eyes as she had searched Lani’s. Curiosity.

She smiled her best smile, the one that showed off her teeth, and replied in Common, wanting to be certain her words were understood. “I’m from the world.” Oresnya hoped that made sense, hoped this stranger would understand what it was like to feel at home almost everywhere, and suspecting it didn’t, tried to explain herself. “I’ve been traveling Mizahar for a while now. I’d been on the oceans and the Suvan Sea for a year, and I was amazed how at home I felt on there. The unending horizons and sun on your skin are so different from the closed underground of where I was born. I came from beneath Kalea, from Kalinor, the city of caverns, and that place will forever be my home as well. You think I would feel more at home here in the Reach, given that it’s all underground, too.”

Oresnya shook her head. “I suppose everywhere I’ve been before though, I’ve had people. I’ve had family. Here, I’m alone. Time might fix that.” She shrugged. “It might not.”

She turned the focus back to her fellow foreigner. “And what about you, Lani? When did you arrive? And where from?”
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Needle and Quill

Postby Lani Stranger on February 19th, 2019, 1:21 am

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While she conversed with Oresnya, she tried to focus her auristics on the Symenestra, watching how the pale woman reacted to her. She saw a flash of suspicion and worried that she was coming off too aggressively. Lani had never been one to try and ward off her curiosity, but it was clear that the Symenestra was likely not used to this level of interrogation without any intended bad results waiting at the end. They didn’t know each other, and so it was only fair that the Symenestra did not know what to expect. Still the other woman’s nerves began to make her nervous as she waited for an answer.

While she listened to Oresnya describe her home and her travels, the mixed blood glanced down at the spools of thread, silently counting them to register the number. She titled the line on her work and then jotted down the number. She copied down the information that Oresnya had given her and then tilted her head to silently listen, keeping her body posturing as open and friendly as possible. She genuinely thought herself trustworthy in the moment, but the actress was always paying attention to the social cues that would get her intention across best, even when that intention was true.

Unlike the Symenestra, Lani had given up on the concept of family with the passing of her mother, but the traveler had always noticed the stark difference between being alone, and being lonely. Most of her life was spent alone, but she hadn’t felt truly lonely since coming to Wind Reach. And it was becoming clear to her that she was not the only foreigner who felt this way.

And then Oresnya turned the question on her. Lani hated when people asked about her history, simply because it wasn’t any of their business, it was not terribly happy either. She suspected most of their questions stemmed from politeness and not dominating the conversation. From what the halfblood had learned of people, it was that they loved talking about themselves. It was something she didn’t always see as bad, and in fact thought it useful, because it was predictable. Something about Oresnya told her that the Symenestra was genuinely trying to connect, and so the half-Eypharian realized she would have to be at least somewhat truthful, to let this woman in just enough to gain her trust. Still, it was clearly an effort for her to subdue the overly indifference tone that her voice wore when she spoke of her past. ”Born in Alvadas, raised in Lhavit. Then I came here, last season.” She said simply, chopping half of her story away for the sake of simplicity. ”My family is in Lhavit still.” She said absently, although she was unsure what possessed her to do so. She had no family. Yes, it was true that she knew a soul in Lhavit that she had known longer than even her mother, and would smile at her presence, but did that count the mad Spiritist as family? Lani didn’t think so. She didn’t know exactly why she said it.

Perhaps the calculating foreigner said it to let Oresnya in, but something told her she had said it because it was true, and it showed vulnerability. And friends were made by showing themselves to one another. She didn’t want to hide from Oresnya, but it was habit. Lani told herself all these things to give herself the illusion that she was the master of the conversation, to stamp her insecurities and get to know this interesting woman.

”Where else have you gone?” She asked, curiosity peeking into her voice as she fingered the smooth glass shapes of her quill. ”Why did you come here?” The last question she was dying to know. Lani had a simple excuse, and although she was an outcast herself, she would never be as much as Oresnya was. The Symenestra might be an outcast anywhere, as far as Lani knew, except… perhaps Alvadas. But here of all places where if you were human without Red hair you would be an outcast, let alone another race, or even a dangerous one. It seemed a foolish decision, and so it had to have some purpose greater than the threat of her life and happiness.
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Needle and Quill

Postby Oresnya Cacao on March 3rd, 2019, 10:25 pm

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There was a little disappointment when Lani’s answer came sounding guarded, but it was something she had come to expect. The only place Oresnya’s people were trusted was within Kalinor. Everywhere else, they were lucky to be considered only a nuisance. Some places, they were killed outright, or at least not allowed entrance. In a way though, the rest of the world was the one place where being a female was an advantage. There was far less risk of giving one’s life for the next generation. Lani’s hesitance was expected, and Oresnya took it in stride, smiling at the little information that was given.

“Lhavit’s nice. We stopped there once. It might have been our longest landfall since I had joined the crew of The Dot. I think it was because we all knew it would our last together, all of us. We all knew I was going to leave for Wind Reach. So we made the most of it. I’ve never experienced so much joy. And in Lhavit, so much beauty. The skyglass puts the glassworkers of Wind Reach to shame.” She whispered the last bit, so as not to insult her hosts. “But I suppose it helps having Goddess-touched materials at hand. We drank. We ate. We partied. We laughed.” Her face fell at her next admission. “We loved. I left… someone behind on that ship.”

Oresnya hoped that enough had been implied with that emphasis, because talk of The Bonnie Dot made her homesick for the ocean. At Lani’s further inquiries into her history, Oresnya reached for the pants she had been hemming. Idle hands had never been appreciated in Kalinor. The city only thrived if everyone did their part. While the same may not have necessarily been true for Wind Reach, Oresnya knew the only way Widow would get her questions answered would be if she contributed and the Inarta trusted her. Picking up where she left off, she fell into a steady pattern of in one side, out the other, back the other direction, begin again. Even as she responded to Lani, her eyes stayed on her work to ensure her stitch lengths remained even.

“Where else? Everywhere. At least, everywhere that’s coastal. I’ve seen the knights in Syliras. I’ve seen the falls for which Riverfall was named. In fact, I don’t think there was a stretch of the Suvan Sea’s coast I haven’t laid eyes on. I’ve seen the eastern coast of Mizahar as far north as Zeltiva. I’ve seen the western coast as far north as here.

“It was always my intention to come straight to Wind Reach, but sometimes the world has a way of knowing better. The first boat to find me was headed in the wrong direction. That’s how I saw most of the coastal cities. And that gave me the time to make the crew a second family.”

And family, as always, was what had bought her here. Loss had brought her here as well as the want to prevent more. She smiled before the real reason came out, hoping her monopolization of the conversation wasn’t boring Lani. If the woman’s brief response to Oresnya’s question about her was any indication, Lani wouldn’t mind. “I had a sister who used to live here. She was Inarta, but in her travels, she met my brother, fell in love, and returned to Kalinor.”

Her needle popped through the cloth beneath her finger, creating a stitch that was longer than the others, and she went silent for a moment as she concentrated to reverse it back through and angled the needle differently to make a better stitch the second time around. Oresnya went on, her eyes always on her work, her concentration serving to distract her from the wound that opened every time she talked about her lost sister. “Her name was Yora, and she was the most amazing person I’ve ever met. Joy was hers to command, and she could take the smallest fragments of it and grow it a thousand fold. I wish the world could have met her. But perhaps, that’s just fond memories making her more than what she was.”

This time, a brief pause was brought on as she managed to prick herself with the needle. She stuck the offended finger into her mouth briefly, sucking the blood free before looking at the miniscule wound. Putting pressure on it with her thumb, she continued on with her explanation. “As happens with any woman brought to Kalinor, she died. It happens to any who bear a Symenestra child. It’s why my people aren’t welcome anywhere but home. Death is common in our culture, and as such, the dead often end up forgotten. I couldn’t have that for her. So I came to her first home in hopes I could remind them of Yora and of how astounding she was, take her memory to those who might remember.”

Peeking at her thumb and seeing it was no longer bleeding, Oresnya went back to the sewing, looking to her work to hide her embarrassment. Lani was being kind, but the other woman probably hadn’t wanted that much. “I’m sure it sounds ridiculous, but she’s my reason for being here.”

Oresnya’s curious streak wanted to flood Lani with questions, but something about the woman said those would be unwelcome. As with everything in this city, patience would have to be her greatest ally. She would have to give with getting little in return, sometimes nothing. She wanted to ask Lani something, anything, but everything that came to mind was either too prying or too insincere. She wanted to know what had brought the other woman here, what held her here, but in the end, all Oresnya could manage was, “It’s difficult being an outsider here.”
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Oresnya Cacao
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Needle and Quill

Postby Lani Stranger on April 12th, 2019, 3:58 pm

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Lani had gotten distracted from her note-taking as Oresnya began to speak. Stories of the cities she had seen, and the clear attachment to whichever crew she had sailed with, enticed Lani. Her mind attached to the cities that she herself had visited, and Lani began to want to have a conversation about them. Although she had only brushed through Syliras, she had spent time in Zeltiva. She had supposedly lived her first few yearsof life in Ahnatep and Riverfall, although she remembered nothing of these cities. Her letters with her friend had told her that Riverfall was a cold and callous place, and now Lani wondered what Oresnya’s take on such a city was. Instead, she listened carefully, watching the black clawed woman stich the fabric rhythmically over and over.

And then the story turned from wonder and adventure, of which Lani could connect with, to death. All women who entered Kalinor died? She had always known to fear the Symenestra, be it their unsettling appearance, or the fact that many cities had a kill-on-sight law, but she had never really asked why. But to die to give birth? Death in childbirth was common, but it sounded as if it was garunteed for Symenestra.

”What do you mean the mothers die?” She asked, a small amount of horror in her voice, it took Lani a tick too long to recognize this fear and then attempt to wipe it from her face. She did not care so much that it may be offensive, rather that she had to appear impassive at all times. ”Does Rak’kli not bless your healers with the ability to save them? Are there none who survive?” She implored, trying to sound more curious than horrified. She was curious, as she could not imagine a society where every mother… didn’t become a mother. If half of their population dies at childbirth, how did they survive? Then again, Oresnya had mentioned bringing women in. Lani blinked a little longer than she should have as she tried to stomach the barbaric necessity of Oresnya’s people.

But the way that Oresnya spoke of this Yora was how Lani spoke of Madeira. There was a deep reverence there, a respect and a friendship that rooted itself through time and experience. Unlike Madeira, this Yora was a kind soul and a light one. By the way Oresnya talked of her, she seemed to be positive, as if Syna herself had born the Inarta. And yet she had chosen to give her life for a murderous race. ”Why did she go if she knew she was going to die? Why did your brother let her?” She asked, nearly a whisper. She could not fathom loving another person and then willingly sacrificing them.
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Needle and Quill

Postby Oresnya Cacao on April 18th, 2019, 3:55 am

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“What do you mean the mothers die? Does Rak’keli not bless your healers with the ability to save them? Are there none who survive?”

Oresnya wasn’t surprised at the question. For someone who lived outside the culture, everything would seem strange. It was the same way for her, looking at Wind Reach’s structure as an outsider, but it worked for the city and, for its people, seemed the only logical way. Sighing, Oresnya tried to gather her thoughts and frame them in a way that wouldn’t make her sound defensive.

“The world thinks it knows what hunger is, but it will never understand it the way my people do. We are born hungry. We spend our last days in the womb starving, and we anticipate the meal our mother will become. We Symenestra have a venom that corrodes our food. In those last weeks before we are delivered, we begin to release that venom into our mothers, eating them away from the inside out. And when we are born, oh God, when we are born, we are hungry. We are hungry, and the only instinct is to eat. And our mothers are always the closest prey, the weakest prey.”

Oresnya shook her head and went back to her work, one bite of cloth after the next, in and out. “I murdered the woman who gave birth to me, the same way almost every Symenestra child does, but we all still have mothers. The woman who raised me, my mother, didn’t give birth to me, but she loved me. Maybe it was because I didn’t kill her. I think she loved that she could have a child and raise her and not miss the child growing up. She loved me as if I was her own flesh and blood. I think most Symenestra mothers do.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t the rare few Symenestra mothers who survive giving birth. Our ruling couple-” Oresnya stopped and corrected herself. “Kalinor’s ruling couple is one such case. Nessora, the ruling lady, survived giving birth to her daughter Silenva. It’s a testament to her strength. We could be in no better hands than hers. So it’s not impossible. The rare mother survives.

“As for Rak’keli, she seems to have overlooked us. Or to not care about our plight. Maybe our way of life is too violent, and that has made Her shun us. Maybe She’s afraid of failure. Maybe there’s nothing that can be done. Then again, maybe someone else has kept Her from intervening. Perhaps Viratas has set our people aside, chosen us for something greater, and this is His way of testing us and our devotion to family. Maybe we’ve failed.” Oresnya smiled at all the possibilities. “I will never know, I don’t think. Knowing would ruin it, I suppose, but I wouldn’t object to Rak’keli saving Symenestra mothers. I wouldn’t object to the end of surrogates. I don’t think any Symenestra would.”

She had finished the complete circumference of the hem and had come back to where she had started, so she looped her needle back beneath her previous stitch. Threading the needle through the new loop, she created a second loop and repeated the process once more, leaving herself with three loops. A pull on the thread that was attached to the end stitch tightened the first loop down on top of the stitch, and Oresnya followed by pulling at the end of the thread attached to the needle, closing the remaining loops to create a knot.

Snipping the tail of thread with nearby shears, she lifted up the pants and examined her handiwork. It was decent. It managed to hold the hem at the length it needed to be, but she had not kept the stitching tight as she had made her way around the leg. Now, as the tension released, several stitches loosened. Shrugging, she began stitching a second hem above the first to strengthen the first and keep the Dek’s foot from catching the loose fabric and ripping the seam.

It was a good thing she was immersed in her work when Lani’s next question came.

“Why did she go if she knew she was going to die? Why did your brother let her?”

Lani had not said it as an accusation, but Oresnya received it that way. In her angry distraction, Oresnya shoved the needle through the pants and deep into her thumb. She bared her teeth and felt her canines extend to their full length, more in rage at the accusation against her brother than at the pain caused by the needle. As quickly as she could, she brought the thumb to her mouth, the pretense of sucking her thumb hiding her fangs. The last thing she needed to do as a suspicious outsider was show signs of hostility.

And as she hid her teeth, reason returned as it always seemed to do. Lani had every right to be curious. There was no part of Kalinor that should have made sense to her as an outsider. And the more Oresnya contemplated the question, the more she realized she didn’t have an answer. Her fangs were slowly retracting their way back into her cheeks, and to buy herself more time, Oresnya cursed into the thumb and sucked at the needle wound a few moments longer before answering honestly.

“I don’t know.” Her fangs were still partially out, and Oresnya knew she wouldn’t be able to hide them forever. She peered at the wound for a moment and made no more fuss about her fangs, knowing that doing so would only draw more attention to them. “But I’m glad Deshvelon brought her and saddened by it at the same time. Maybe it’s selfish, but I wouldn’t trade Yora’s arrival in Kalinor for anything, even if that meant she could have lived a long and happy life.” That might have been the first time Oresnya had ever voiced that aloud, and guilt struck deep. “I can’t imagine what life would have been like had she never come. Maybe that makes me a terrible person.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. But I imagine there are plenty of people who feel the same way about someone they have known.”

Haven’t you, Lani? was the question at Oresnya’s lips, but she remembered how Lani had responded to the last, far less personal question. Curiosity was one of Oresnya’s less admirable traits, and even if it seemed wiser not to pursue it, wisdom never won out. She still had many questions she wanted answered, and she’d be damned if she didn’t get at least one of them answered. “I imagine you wouldn’t give up having known your family if the choice was given to you. What keeps you from returning home to them?”
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