[Featured thread] [Aquillar Hot Springs] Remember the New (Firenze)

A familiar encounter in a different place.

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[Aquillar Hot Springs] Remember the New (Firenze)

Postby Baelin Holt on October 5th, 2019, 3:51 am

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Baelin’s quick-fire rage eased as Firenze continued talking. Despite its risk, she still saw Sunberth as a home. Baelin had been warned about how risky Sunberth could be during the long trip here. At the start, it’d been, You sure that’s where you wanna head? Then―as he got closer―it shifted to a derisive, You’re gonna be gold on legs, mate. Baelin’s lip quirked in a slight smirk. With Sunberth in the mix, he’ll have lived in places ranging from the “be on your guard, or you’ll be stabbed” of Sunberth to the “be a problem, and you’ll be an Ashl” of Black Rock. Two very different extremes right there.

Firenze’s pace slowed, ebbing from her initial rush as she continued to recount her journeys. Baelin couldn’t imagine living among Drykas, but he could absolutely appreciate a nap under Syna. Baelin dipped his chin in a tight nod; a display of quiet but definite agreement with her. Firenze switched gears again to Syliras, and Baelin turned to better face her. Hooking one arm up over the edge of the spring, he shifted until he was comfortable again, and listened.

Despite his intention to stay quiet and let her speak, Baelin snorted when Firenze remarked on the “peaceful” and “beautiful” snow in Syliras. Petch snow, it was cold. In Stormhold, snow hadn’t been much more than tracked puddles. And in the open-air lanes it got so dirty so quick that it might as well have been sludge. Yes, Morwen missing was a problem. Yes, famines were a thing and yes snow was important. But shyke, Baelin couldn’t find it in him to miss it. Maybe Morwen was gone for a really good reason, and maybe it was better for the cycle to get a couple rounds of famine in, and maybe―Zeltiva? Baelin blinked. When did she… Okay. Zeltiva.

And Endrykas. And Syliras and Kenash and Sunberth. Well-traveled indeed.

And here he couldn’t hold his tongue. A fish drink? Baelin loved fish―grew up on it as a staple―but he couldn’t imagine making a drink of it. “How…” he began, still struggling to process how liquefied, raw fish could somehow be tasty. He settled on shaking his head and mumbled, “Can’t imagine it.”

Luckily for his inadequate imagination, Firenze had more to say and he could let the issue of raw fish beverages drop. She talked about how she’d like to go back, one day. Maybe on her way to Syliras? Because her family could be in either? Baelin shook his head again and resisted the urge to rub his forehead. Her life was complex. He felt a bit like a kid again, utterly failing to follow along in his lessons.

Baelin was still picturing his uncle’s frustrated disappointment when he realized Firenze had asked him a question. He blinked and looked back up to see her smiling at him, waiting. What had she said, again? Baelin replayed the last moment and his memory helpfully supplied: Ever been there?

Zeltiva, he guessed. Baelin shook his head no. “Never been.” And he figured he never would. In an ideal world, he could go back to Black Rock. See his family, reconnect with Rob, meet Mala’s children. But… Baelin curled his fingers in on his right hand and rubbed his palm, unconsciously pulling on Dira’s mark. This wasn’t an ideal world, was it?

“I don’t think I will go too far from here,” he admitted, figuring he could at least give her that much. While the whole long-term, probably-going-to-be-a-suicide-mission plan might be a bit much, the intent to be in Sunberth for a good, long while was still honest. And Sahova wasn’t too terribly far, all things being relative. He wasn’t lying. Just…misleading.

Shaken out of old memories and actually able to fully comprehend that she didn’t know where her family was, Baelin rubbed the back of his neck and asked, “Your family… If you leave to look for them…” He hesitated. This really wasn’t his place. She probably knew better than him. He was painfully aware that he wasn’t the quickest mind, and he was likely missing the point here. But still… Baelin shrugged a shoulder awkwardly and finished the thought, “If you leave, and then they leave again too… Would you ever meet? Or would you both keep travelling? Never meeting?”
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[Aquillar Hot Springs] Remember the New (Firenze)

Postby Firenze on December 31st, 2019, 5:34 pm

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The feeling struck her hard before she could even finish processing the thought. What he’d said hadn’t even crossed her mind. But, it was a likely probability. With the time it took to traverse between cities and the many different routes, it would be almost impossible to find them again.

A twang in her heart made her hurt. Tears didn’t fall from her eyes but it sure felt like they were falling in her chest. What if I never see them again… This was the second thought she had after Baelin spoke. It felt as though something were squeezing her tight around the ribs. Pushing the air out of her lungs and knocking the breath from her momentarily.

She didn’t know how her facial reactions appeared to the man after the comment but if she had to guess he’d probably see some of the old pain flashing back into her eyes. The darkness finding its way to creep back in. Using the opportunity of emotional weakness to replant itself in its new home. Her smile faltered for a moment and then she forced her lips back up, it didn’t reach her eyes this time.

“I suppose that is a good question,” she paused briefly trying to think of the best way to respond, “I think that while I have traveled a lot more than I would have liked and there will probably be more in the future… unless circumstances change… then I suppose we will have to keep searching for each other until we find one another. I guess I have some hope that we will.”

She gave a small nod to affirm her statement.

While it was true that she had gained darkness that counteracted the naivete of the good she’d always sought, there was still some hope and light that she clung to. That may be with all the rotten thieves, nasty gangs, and evil acts that were in the world there would be something to counteract it. To help the balance so to speak. She didn’t know if there was a God or Gods that pertained to that. Perhaps there was. She liked to believe there were.

Shaking her head slightly to clear some of the thoughts Fire looked out at the sparkly ripple of the waters. “I think, for now, I’ll stay here. That’s a thoug-” Fire was cut off abruptly as an older woman walked quickly in their direction. Natala's skirts swished around her ankles and her feet moved quickly over the ground. She wiped her hands on her skirts, stopping right next to where Firenze and Baelin basked. She leaned down and whispered into the blonde’s ear with a small frown on her face.

Firenze shot to her feet and water splashed out and away from the quick exit. Hurrying to where her things lay she grabbed her clothes and tore the towel off, tossing it aside in haste. She pulled a dress out of the bag and over the top of her head. It wasn’t what she’d prefer to wear at the time but it was clean and available. After slipping into the white gown she began stuffing everything into her knapsack.

Without glancing backward at Baelin she began to apologize and try to explain her need to exit. “I have to go, Natlana just told me that one of the city orphans came to her. They said they knew me and saw that my house was trying to be broken into. I’m sorry we don’t get to finish our conversation-” she slipped her boots on, the second one caught and Fire one leg hopped to the side,”-maybe we can pick this up again soon?”
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[Aquillar Hot Springs] Remember the New (Firenze)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 13th, 2020, 4:36 pm

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He shouldn't have said anything. Whatever spark had been energizing her was snuffed, just like that. Baelin grimaced. He wished he could go back in time and just not say anything. How hard would it have been to just keep his mouth shut? See this? This right here? This was why he shouldn’t talk. Because other people were able to go through their lives happy and bright, and he would only ever be able to cast a shadow on that.

There was no doubt in his mind that―however unintentionally―he had hurt her. And maybe that hurt had stemmed from truth, but it still was a hurt. Firenze made an effort to smile again, but it was a weak, hollow thing compared to her earlier vibrancy. "I guess I have some hope that we will," she said. Baelin could only nod, not wishing to make things any worse.

What he wanted to do was troubleshoot with her. To sit there and work out a strategy for finding her family again. To do anything to help cheer her up again. But he didn't trust himself to speak. He’d make things worse if he tried. He knew he would.

She started to say something, but before she could finish the thought, one of the proprietors came rushing over and whispered something in Firenze's ear. Baelin couldn’t hear what she said, but whatever it was, it was alarming enough for Firenze to practically jump from her spot.

Baelin twisted his head on instinct, trying to avoid the spray. Firenze moved quickly―towel off and dress on in the span of a tick. Shoving things into her bag, she told him that the woman―Natlana―had warned her of her house getting broken into. She hopped into her boots, apologized, and said, “Maybe we can pick this up again soon?”

It was phrased with the lilt of a question. But Baelin could only imagine that was out of polite courtesy. His lips thinned and he gave a tight nod.

Her presence had been bright and welcome, but no good thing lasts long. Baelin watched as she left. A part of him wanted to follow. A large part. He could help. He so very badly wanted to convince himself that he could help. But Baelin made no move to go after her. He only watched―expression locking into a blank mask―as she rushed away.

And then she was gone.

Baelin turned back to the water. It was still warm. The day still nice. Syna was clear and shining.

And yet…

Cold. He could only feel cold.
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