Solo The Shadow of Those Who Remain

An opened scar still festers yet

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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The Shadow of Those Who Remain

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on March 30th, 2019, 7:03 pm

Image
Spring 25, 519
Baroque Bay
19th Bell

The shrill cries of gulls echoed across the shuddering waves of the Cherry Bay docks. Even now as Syna's sleep grew near and the sky spilled a brilliant symphony of crimson, citrine, and rose across a canvas of robin's egg blue and deep indigo, the port swam with activity. Men and women, of a dozen different colors and creeds shouted orders in the fading light, loading boxes, hauling pulleys, singing and laughing. Anja watched the bustle with a wry contentment that he couldn't quite place. The comings and goings of the sailors reminded him a bit like a swarm of bees; each with their assigned task. Compared to the usual sheer chaos that the Drykas usually found during his daily wanderings, there was something refreshing in the simple but efficient way that these people went about their assigned duties. It was very much like the Drykas, and in it Anja could feel the slightest pang of homesickness.

Anja had come to the docks after his usual day of work with the full intention of inquiring as to the fare required to transport a full household to Zeltiva. It was not something that Anja had been asked to do, but the eminent move had been weighing heavily on the Drykas’ mind since Kelski had mentioned her intention to move. It seemed natural to join her; the people of the Gem were Anja's family now and Sunberth had never been kind to him. And yet, Anja could feel a disquiet at the thought of leaving. Hadn't he been called here, because of all the great good he could do among the downtrodden, broken, and haunted? The tearing that the man felt was suffocating, and he needed to at least ease his mind on details, lest he lose himself completely.

And yet, once he had arrived, Anja had found himself lulled into a strange, almost meditative state of relaxation. He had found himself apathetic in approaching those shipwrights, and had instead taken up place sitting beside the docks and consumed himself in his thoughts. There was a slight nudge at his shoulder, and Anja turned at the touch. Maisa's pale face, calm and inscrutable, peered down at him.

“Am I not allowed a moment's rest?” Anja protested. Maisa pinned her ears. Obviously not, those ears seemed to say. As if to illustrate her point, Maisa turned her back to reveal two fast growing pups perched on yvas, staring with great interest at the gulls floating over the bay. Maisa had been forced to play baby sitter more and more as Anja brought the pair along with him for jobs, and as much as she loved the two the Drykas was becoming more and more convinced that his strider tired of it. You don't get any breaks if I don't, those ears seemed to say. Anja sighed, but nodded and gently pushed himself to his feet, shrugging off his apathy like road dust. The man made to call the pups off of Maisa, but a flash from the corner of his eye caused him to pause. Glancing down into the water, beneath the dock, a trio of curious grey faces stared up at him. Dolphins. Anja looked up, past the trio and further down, and noted the Palivar docked at the edge of the pier. Svefra. Of course.

(Words 558, Total 558)
Last edited by Anja Nightwatcher on March 31st, 2019, 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Anja Nightwatcher
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The Shadow of Those Who Remain

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on March 31st, 2019, 9:17 pm

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Anja's gaze fell across the distinctive swooping lines of the Svefra ship, and his eyes searched out the small handful of Casinors also docked nearby. The singing gulls that had so captivated his canine companions were, indeed, avikki. Odd that Anja had been so close and yet his eyes and mind had somehow not put two and two together. Long ago, when Anja was still a small child, he had made a journey to Kanesh and been captivated by the beautiful ships docked in the harbor. He had been mystified then just as he was now; in some ways the colorful ships reminded him of the great marching pavillions that his own people carried from place to place. The Sea of Grass was not so different than the Suvan Sea.

Anja's eyes fell on a solitary figure leaning against the railing of the Palivar in Syna's fading light. Long dark hair cascaded down to the woman's waist, braided and beaded in a Drykas-like style. She was young, Anja thought, or at least younger than he was by a large handful of years. Her skin had a sheen of health uncommon to those of this city. This woman had lived an easy and carefree life, a song of fish, salt, and carefree waves, surrounded by friends. It was not the typical life of those who lived in Mizahar, who fought and bled and starved daily in the struggle that was life. There was something about this woman's casual posture that felt...nostalgic to Anja. But the Drykas couldn't quite place the why. He couldn't seem to stop looking.

The woman's steely blue gaze roamed casually across the docks. After a moment, her stare found Anja's eyes. Anja looked away quickly, but heard a laugh from the boat.

“Oy, pretty boy! Draw a picture, it'll last longer!”

Anja looked back sheepishly to find the woman grinning at him. “You just gonna stare sweetheart? Or you gonna come say hello?”

The woman vaulted over the edge of the ship and sauntered over towards him. Maisa stomped a hoof and hung her head over Anja's shoulder protectively. A low rumble threatening to be a war cry shook from her throat. Anja scratched Maisa's neck, and turned to meet the woman as she approached. The woman's walk brimmed with confidence, and she leaned forward to smile at him from underneath long dark lashes, paying no mind of the irritable horse glaring at her.

“Hello,” Anja greeted her in fratava. Although outwardly his expression remained blank and can, there was an odd disquiet growing in the man. Something playing at the edges of emotion and memory. Part of him wanted to tug at it and pull it into the light, but he hesitated. There was a growing unease there. Anja studied the curves of the woman's sunbrowned face and in his heart there was an anxiety he couldn't explain.

“Well! He speaks the trader tongue!” The woman straightened and fired off a series of fast-paced sharp syllables. Anja shook his head in dismay and smiled, swallowing his unease. “I think I got 'and’ out of that,” he said, and the woman laughed.

“You don't look like you belong here,” the woman said. She glanced behind Anja at Maisa still staring her down. “You're one of those horse people, yeah? The Drykas.”

Anja allowed himself to forget his disquiet for a moment in the wake of his surprise. “You know of the Drykas?” he asked. Although Anja had met a handful of Drykas in his time in Sunberth, it was a relatively uncommon occurrence. Then again, the Sverfra were one to move from place to place, and they encountered all sorts during their travels.

“Yeah, I know them,” said the woman, smiling and her voice taking on a teasing tone. “My sister married one.”

The disquiet Anja had been feeling suddenly rose from his stomach into a knot in his throat. What was this sudden anxiety? This burning, awful feeling of impending doom? Anja looked at the woman once more, fighting a sudden panic. Those curves of her face were so terribly familiar. And with her sunbronzed skin, if her hair had been lighter then…

“Is that so?” Anja said. His voice sounded calm to him, but his heart was thudding painfully, frantically.

“Aye, my pod used to live off of Kanesh,” she said cheerfully. “My sister ran off, wound up with the Drykas. Even had one of those horses,” she added, pointing behind Anja at Maisa. The Strider had ceased her fussing. Her head was resting flat against Anja's back. He imagined she could feel his racing heart. But her heat did nothing to soothe him. Anja was very nearly elsewhere.

“What's your family name?” Anja asked. How was it that his voice held no real emotion when his soul was aflame? The wan tilted her head. “Eh? You mean my pod? We're the Wavewind pod. I'm Lorra.”

Finally Anja could not keep the emotion out of his expression. He stared at the woman with stunned silence and anxiety. Syla's pod. Syla's family. Syla's sister.

He had chanced upon the sister of his dead wife.

The gods moved in mysterious and cruel ways.

(Words 867, Total 1425)
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Anja Nightwatcher
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The Shadow of Those Who Remain

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on April 1st, 2019, 5:36 pm

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Lorra peered at Anja's face, the Drykas’ bewildered stare reflected in her azure eyes. “You look like you swallowed a lime.” she said. “What's with that expression? And why'd you want to know our pod name? You horse people never seemed to care much about us sea folk.”

It was difficult for Anja to find the words to speak. He felt like he was a thousand miles away, drifting through an endless void. In spite of this, he found his voice somewhere but it was almost as if he himself weren't speaking. The man's reply came like molasses. “I married a woman of the Wavewind pod,” Anja said. “My wife, Syla.”

Anja felt a hint of satisfaction under the shroud of apathy as Lorra's thunderstruck expression matched his own. When the expression cleared, she cursed, loud and long in Fratava. The words we're familiar. It was one of the first phrases Anja had learned from his wife.

“Gods! You, you're...what was the name? Ahtja?” Anja could see excitement flooding the woman's features. She was so completely thrilled she could barely contain herself. Sverfra were not the slightest bit reserved but even Anja, who had lived with one of the sea folk for over ten years, found himself shocked by the ferocity of her delight.

“Anja,” the Drykas supplied. “Anja Nightwatcher.”

“That's it!” the woman all but yelled. Underneath the dock, the dolphins were finding Lorra's excitement infectious and were swimming circles in the water beneath them. “I can't believe this! What are you doing so far from the horse clans? Is Syla with you? I haven't seen her since she left. I mean she sent letters sometimes, but it's been ages since she sent one. When we left the Suvan, I thought I'd never hear from her again!”

Anja's throat was too dry to speak, but Lorra seemed content to fill the silence between them with her nonstop chatter. In that haze left of Anja's consciousness, he tried to recall what Syla had said of her sister. Lorra was younger than Syla by a few years, that he knew. Sverfra didn't pay a lot of attention to whose children belonged to whom, but the pair had been born of the same mother and grew up close, even though Syla had been crippled by her lack of Laviku's gnosis. The majority of Syla's family had considered her a lost cause after she left the fold and been content to abandon her, but Lorra had continued to reach out. Anja wouldn't have known how to contact her after Syla had died, and truth be told it hadn't occurred to him to do so. At the time of Syla's death, his wife had been utterly and completely Drykas. With the death of his Pavilion, he hadn't thought there would be anyone other than him left to mourn her.

Anja looked at this dark haired woman, his sister in law. Her face was so achingly familiar. If it weren't for the difference in age and hair, they could almost be twins. Anja swallowed the lump in his throat. Syla's sister had no idea what had become of her. And the only person left to tell her was him.

Why, when he tried to speak did the words catch in his throat? He had told a hundred different people about Syla, to explain his nature as an Eiyon and a Spiritist. But this was different. For those he had told, Syla was a faceless entity, special perhaps to him, but meaning nothing to them. But Lorra knew her, and, by the nature of her bright face and excited prattling, loved her. Anja swallowed and gritted his teeth. If he didn't tell her, who else would? Honestly all he wanted to do was run, but he felt the comfort of Maisa's head against his back and found words forthcoming.

“Lorra,” Anja said, stopping the woman's constant stream of chatter. “I have something important to tell you.” She looked up at him, blue eyes puzzled.

“Syla has...passed away.” Anja could feel Maisa's weight pressed against her back. “She died almost four years ago.”

A silence stretched between them, and the dolphins ceased their splashing.

(Words 699, Total 2124)
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Anja Nightwatcher
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The Shadow of Those Who Remain

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on April 1st, 2019, 6:46 pm

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Anja watched as a shadow fell across Lorra's expression. An expression of incredulity shone from her features. People processed grief in different ways, and Anja was often on the receiving end of those experiencing the loss. The man was half counselor at times, offering not just condolences but also a listening ear to those in their time of sorrow. It was easier for one to offer their empathy when one understood precisely what their loss was like. In this case, Anja knew exactly what this woman was going through, for he himself had processed the exact same grief for the exact same person.

“What?” said Lorra. Her blue eyes were wide, and the smile had fled. Anja knew little of this woman, but he suspected that this expression was rare for her. She was, in an instant, completely and utterly vulnerable.

Still steeling his nerves, Anja spoke once more. “A group of undead attacked our Pavilion,” Anja said. The words were coming somewhat easier now, but it was more the force of already having begun than the ease of the words spoken. “The entire Pavilion perished. Syla...our son Lok, my uncle and cousins...everyone.”

There was a beat more of silence.

“Where were you?” Lorra said.

Anja looked at his sister in law. Although she was quiet, there was something dangerous stirring in the depths of her expression. For a moment his tongue caught, but he was already speaking and he had to continue.

“I was away,” Anja said. “Working. When I realized the danger I immediately raced home.”

Something stopped Anja from telling the rest of the story, and it stunned him. The anger brewing in Lorra's eyes was like a storm. Anja had never once doubted himself in his reaction to slaying the nuit possessing his wife. But how would his sister in law react to the knowledge that he had cut off the head of his wife's body before her corpse had even gone cold?

Lorra took a threatening step towards Anja, and it was only Maisa's head at the man's back that kept him from stepping backwards and plunging into the water behind him.

“You failed her. Petching coward.” The woman was seething with rage so potent that her hands shook. She yanked a long, thin blade from her waist, but before she could wield it towards Anja, Maisa lunged forward. The horse's massive body blocked the space between Anja and Lorra, and from attop her back both pups were growling fiercely. If it weren't for them, Anja did not know what would happen for he was not in state to defend himself. The excuses he wanted to say, the ones he had tried to tell himself during those long sleepless nights evaporated in the wake of the ocean breeze.

Lorra showed no sign of fear at the horse and dogs, and simply glared at Anja from over Maisa's broad, pale back. “I better never see you again,” she snarled. “You see me again there will be consequences. I guarantee it. The Wavewinds are your enemy now. Deal with it.”

She flourished her blade once more and stormed off down the dock. A moment later, the sound of grey bodies moving through water followed her.

When the woman disappeared inside her ship, Anja all at once felt very very tired. He leaned against Maisa and felt the horse take the brunt of his weight. She gripped his sleeve and pulled him towards her, and following her initiative the man pulled himself up onto her back as both pups crawled into his lap. Not even a fraction after settling himself, Maisa had taken off from the dock and was heading down the streets and back to the Gem. It was probably for the best anyways. Anja wasn't sure if he ever wanted to be near a boat ever again.

(Words 643, Total 2767)
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Anja Nightwatcher
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Posts: 199
Words: 228571
Joined roleplay: February 15th, 2018, 3:26 pm
Race: Human, Drykas
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