Solo To Shoulder the Burden

Baelin spots his neighbors in the Commons

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

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To Shoulder the Burden

Postby Baelin Holt on November 30th, 2019, 9:06 pm

Image
65, Fall 519 AV

Normally, Baelin didn’t spend too much time looking at the wares displayed in the Commons. He’d go to work, stay at work, and then go home. Time spent in transit was spent focused on the walk itself: direct paths, without so much as even a glance at the wares. And certainly not meeting the eye of any merchants.

However. There are exceptions to every rule. And today, that exception was with one of the vendors he’d never noticed before. The merchant had a stall set up, with all sorts of wilderness survival equipment on display. And while going out into the woods had never been something of interest to Baelin―because it was an insane thing to do and he didn’t want to die―there was a kit on display that he couldn’t help but stare at.

It was a climber’s kit. Complete with nice looking pitons, boot tips, gloves, and a harness. And almost as if the merchant had thrown out a lasso and reeled him in, Baelin found himself drawn towards the stall.

Both the merchant and his hired guard watched Baelin’s approach. But it was the merchant who first spoke, “Something caught your eye?” He made a sweeping gesture of the wares in his stall, head cocked in a way that was welcoming.

Yeah. Yeah, he definitely had. Gods, he missed climbing. When he’d been a kid, he’d been stupid about it. He’d just find a cliff and start trying to go up it. No anchors or rope; no harness or boot tips. Just a stupid kid who―for all that he lived on an island of dead people―hadn’t really considered that he might die.

Now he was older and hopefully a little wiser. Or, at least, wise enough to know better than to do the same dumb shyke he’d done as a youth. But that hadn’t stopped him from longing to climb. There was just something about the act that felt freeing. And it’d been so long…

While Baelin may have not said any of that out loud, the merchant could quite clearly see him staring at the climber’s kit with a fixation and longing that spoke of mizas just begging to be spent. “Almost everything you’ll need to get you climbing,” the merchant said with a grin. He held up one of the pitons for Baelin to inspect, and went into a sales pitch about the craftsmanship and necessity for those willing to brave cliffs.

Baelin listened with one ear, but the majority of his attention was locked onto the rest of the wares on display at the merchant’s stall. There were plenty of things there that Baelin had absolutely zero interest in: leashes, some animal snares, what looked like tent supplies. But there were other things arranged next to the climber’s kit that absolutely interested him. A hammer―looking like it was designed to both hammer in and yank out pitons―and a metal loop with a hinge on one side that also looked particularly useful. Baelin could imagine pushing on that hinge to open up the loop, hook the metal onto a piton’s eye, and then letting go for the loop to snap shut. Did it have a spring in it? Baelin reached down to pluck it up, testing the give of the hinged side with his thumb. Oh yes, it had a spring.

“A climber’s hook,” the merchant said with approval, “You have a good eye, sir.” Baelin ignored the salesman and his flattery and instead shifted his attention to the bundles of rope. He picked up an end of one, gave it a little yank to test its give, and realized with a settling surety that he was already absolutely going to buy this. And, try as he might, no amount of reasoning with himself would stop it.

It was lucky he’d just been paid today, because otherwise he might not have had the extra mizas ready. But with fresh payment in hand, Baelin was ready to spend. “How much?” Baelin asked, jabbing his finger at each item he wanted.

The merchant tracked his pointing, then grinned. “For a discerning climber such as yourself, I can let them go for a hundred gold mizas.”

Baelin narrowed his eyes. While he might not know how much these items were worth, he was fairly positive that this guy was upselling him. “Eighty.”

With a look of affront, the merchant waved his hand dismissively, “That’s outrageous. I can’t do any less than ninety.”

“Fine,” Baelin bit out. And from the grin the merchant flashed him, he was pretty sure he was still being upsold. But no matter. He left a happy merchant ninety gold mizas richer, and himself the owner of a whole set of climbing equipment. He’d bought the kit prepared by the merchant; with pitons, boot tips, gloves, and a harness. And also that climber’s hammer that caught his eye and the climber’s hook, as well as a length of hemp rope.

A stupid purchase, perhaps. It was purely for purchase and nothing more. And it was a purchase that he might not even be able to use. How much free time did he really have, anyways? He worked almost every day, and climbing at night seemed like a good way to die.

But still… He’d seen the dust bed’s ridge. And by the gods, he wanted to climb it so badly it ached.

He wasn’t going to feel bad about this. He wanted this. When was the last time he’d gotten himself something purely because he wanted it? Baelin honestly couldn’t remember. And while anxiety may have tried to get its claws in him because of how heedlessly he just dropped so many mizas, Baelin couldn’t help but feel thrilled about it. Finally, was all he could seem to think. He was finally going to get up on that ridge.

“Baelin!” A shout from the crowd. Baelin jerked his head to where he thought he’d heard it, alarmed more than anything that someone here knew his name. How many people in Sunberth did he know? Not many. Not by name.

“Hey! Baelin!” And with that shout, Baelin finally saw a hand waving in the air, trying to catch his attention. Instantly, Baelin felt the alarm vanish in favor of warm familiarity. It was his neighbor’s kid. The same very kid that Baelin had started whittling with every night.

Baelin raised his own hand to give a short wave; a quick little acknowledgement, and then he’d be back on his way. But he stopped mid-wave when he saw who was standing next to the kid.

The father. Baelin had only ever seen him in person once, when he had helped lug his drunk ass back inside. Other than that, Baelin knew little else about the man. The kid and Baelin usually whittled in silence; the consistent, reliable presence of another person speaking far louder than any small talk could have. But, consequently, Baelin knew next to nothing about the father of the kid he was spending so much of his free time around.

The father was watching them. His studious gaze was narrowed on his son’s happy familiarity with a stranger, and Baelin’s own awkward acknowledgement of it. The father’s attention turned back on Baelin and he instantly knew he was in trouble.

Well. He probably should have seen that coming.

And he should probably nip this in the bud before it becomes anything worse. Pulling in a quick breath, Baelin cut through the crowd to his neighbor’s stall.

Expenses & Notes :
Purchased Items:+6 GM, from failed haggling

For the carabiner, or “climber’s hook,” I guessed 1 GM on price. And I’m guessing they exist in Mizahar based off a description in “Toolkit, Climbing” where it mentions a chalk bag with a carabiner attached. If any of this is wrong or should be changed, let me know.

Total: 90 GM
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Baelin Holt
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Posts: 340
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Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
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Race: Mixed blood
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To Shoulder the Burden

Postby Baelin Holt on February 29th, 2020, 4:54 am

The kid―Noah―glanced back and forth between his father's piercing scrutiny and Baelin's guarded approach. A crease formed in Noah's brow: the likely realization that his friendly greeting had spurred something.

Baelin set his jaw, inhaled deeply, and held his breath as he steeled his nerves. Gods he was bad at talking. What should he say? Hi, I've been keeping your son company while you get violently drunk?/ No, that was no good. Maybe something like, Hey, any chance you're gonna get your act together for your kid's sake? That probably wouldn't go over well either.

As he neared, something dark flashed across the father's expression. Fleeting and quick, it was gone so fast that Baelin wasn't even sure he'd seen it. But the absolute absence of expression in its wake suggested that something had passed through the other man's mind. Where before there was suspicious regard, now there was only an inscrutable mask.

Oh yeah. This was going to go well. For a moment, Baelin seriously considered turning on his heel and just forgetting this whole thing. He didn't need to talk to this guy. As far as Baelin could tell, he was just some drunk asshole.

Just like he didn't need to spend time with Noah. Baelin grimaced. No, he didn't want to leave the kid alone just because his dad was a jackass. No one gets to pick their parents.

Braced for who knows what, Baelin stopped just close enough to converse easily, but outside of the man's reach. His neighbor still had a carefully blank expression, so Baelin figured he'd just go for it. "I live next door." With a tilt of his chin towards Noah, he added, "We whittle."

Whatever the father had been expecting, that apparently hadn't been it. His brows flew up and that carefully blank mask twisted with bewilderment. "You whittle," he echoed. After a minute shake of his head, he turned to his son. "Is that true?"

The kid looked for all the world like he'd rather be anywhere other than here. Or―rather―that he was fully regretting ever putting this whole interaction into motion. Baelin could sympathize. Rubbing his neck, Noah nodded.

Something twitched in the father's expression, but he once again covered it up with that blank mask of his. Still speaking to Noah, he murmured, "Give us a moment." Noah winced and shot a concerned look to Baelin. But he didn't argue. The kid stepped back and turned to make himself scarce. Baelin watched as he wandered over to a neighboring stall, finding something else to keep him occupied.

As soon as Noah was out of earshot―which wasn't far at all, considering the bustle of the Commons―his father turned back to Baelin. And any attempt at a mask was wholly gone. Glaring back at Baelin was pure, unadulterated fury.

Yep. Baelin was already regretting this. But he refused to back down, and instead drew himself to his full height and threw back a sneer of his own. It wasn't hard to. Baelin had seen the bruises all up and down Noah that first night. And they'd come from this petcher. Honestly, if the kid wasn't so defensive of his dad, Baelin wouldn't even bother with trying to be civil with him. The petcher could go rot in the Mudway for all Baelin cared.

Noah's father spoke first. "Do I need to gut you now? Or later?"

Baelin hissed through clenched teeth and took a step back, hand instantly going to the hammer at his hip. The kid's petching insane father flicked his eyes quickly to the tool and back, then smirked.

If asked, Baelin wouldn't be able to tell you where he pulled the knife from. One tick, the guy's hands were empty, and the next, he had a knife out and held in a casual grip.

A few Sunberthers nearby noticed the drawn weapon and moved quickly to give the pair space. And those who didn't flowed with them, not needing to actually see the potential altercation to know that their continued wellbeing was best served by following the quick exodus. But―inundated with these kinds of threats all the time―few went far.

Petching Sunberth.

WC: 695
User avatar
Baelin Holt
Blacksmith
 
Posts: 340
Words: 360322
Joined roleplay: July 25th, 2014, 12:36 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Mixed blood
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 3
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1)


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