Closed Intersection (Baelin)

Kelski goes to find food while waiting for news of her brother.

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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Kelski on December 29th, 2019, 7:01 am

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Timestamp: 11th of Winter, 519 A.V.


Hunger drove her out into the world and off the comfortable couch at The Redynn. Kelski had followed Ebon's suggestion and they'd carried Kalistan - still unconscious - to The Outpost and its noted healer to see if there was more the Priestess of Rak'keli could do for him. Kelski hadn't wanted to believe Ebon had found a bit of hope in the form of a Healer through the mysterious dovecote. But she trusted her fellow Kelvic and knew he'd been gone scouting the new place thoroughly. And when he'd given her that glimmer of hope, she had to reach for it.

They'd had to come.

Tortured beyond recognition and nearly dead when they'd found him, Kalistan K'etir was lucky to be alive. Though, to be honest, Kelski couldn't call it really living. He ate, drank, stared at the walls, and lay prone in a bed. She'd been caring for him daily once he'd fallen into Kelski's hands. She fed him three times a day from a spoon and poured water down his throat double that to try and keep him hydrated. She changed his clothes, his sheets, and cleaned him up when he soiled himself.

He was her brother. He was a stranger. And she wanted to change that.

Kelski had turned him routinely to prevent bedsores and Ebon, being an amazing healer, had healed most of his flesh wounds and all of his bruising and laceration... but neither of them could actually wake him up. They didn't know why he was still asleep. And they were losing hope, after more than half a season, that he'd ever wake up. Kelski just saw him losing weight, muscle tone, and color day by day. And she thought it would kill him.

He'd been at The Redynn for overnight and there'd been no word. Kelski had personally seen Murine working on her brother, but the things she did were strange and the potions she fed him unfamiliar. Letting the healer work had been a huge act of trust. And now she had to trust that they were doing the only thing they could do.

And now she was hungry. Everyone else was resting, even Kal himself was currently unchanged. But Kelski's stomach was making unbelievably hungry noises, so she'd excused herself and at Murine's suggestion, had headed out to The Fountain Walk.

Now... she was busy staring at the huge assortment of food offered by the street vendors and desperately trying to pick out something to fill her stomach. The scents and sounds were overwhelming. So too was the crowd. Still, Kelski tried to be brave and got busy walking the length of the outskirts of Fountain Square, looking at every vendor's offerings before she'd make the loop and finally select something having seen all the food available.
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Baelin Holt on December 30th, 2019, 6:03 am

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Baelin stared at the pigeons roosting in the ramshackle building, marveling that such a thing could exist here in Sunberth. And that the old man with the pike was apparently enough to keep the locals from eating the few birds that had come to it.

It was beautiful. Baelin breathed in deep, enjoying the small miracle. But now that he'd seen where the birds had been coming from, it was time for him to leave. For his day off from work, he’d only been planning on some quiet time at the Dust Bed. Overindulgent birdwatching had brought him the rest of the way to this pigeon-dwelling.

He should head back. Turning around, Baelin went to open the door. He grasped the handle and gave it a little push.

Baelin froze.

This wasn't the clearing he'd just been in. It wasn't even anything Baelin recognized. In fact, what he was seeing was so outrageously beyond what he'd been expecting, that―for a moment―Baelin just stared.

An elaborate city square. With people milling about and the scent of something delicious wafting his way.

Magic, Baelin thought, a thrill of fear spurring hypervigilance.

He looked back to the pigeons still roosting, where they remained seemingly unconcerned by Baelin's plight. He turned again to the elaborate square, eyes darting across all the different people. People he didn't recognize, and paying him just as little mind as the birds had. Trees throughout, stalls lining the perimeter, the splash of running water to his side, someone singing ahead… Baelin's fingers tightened on the door handle as his quick survey solidified his initial belief: this was a trick. Some kind of trap.

But trap or not, Baelin could see no option but to move forward. Tensed for anything, he took a step forward. Then another.

"First time?"

Baelin's hand went to his waist, moving to pull his hammer out before he could see who it was. But once he turned, all he saw was an elderly man smiling jovially at him. The man quirked an eyebrow at him, and then turned back to a collection of papers posted above a fountain. The stranger pulled a note down and said over his shoulder, "Welcome to the Outpost! Xyna's gift to us all. If you could shut the door, please."

Baelin glanced back at the door. Again to the smiling elderly man. Back to the door.

Carefully―still expecting whatever this trap was to spring on him―Baelin shut the door behind him. While it’d only been a single door in Sunberth, it was now one half of a double-door here. Baelin shook his head. Magic.

He had no idea how to get back. But until he figured it out, standing around like a scared idiot wasn't doing him any favors. He’d only succeed in marking himself as a good target. Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin pushed forward. Act like you belong. Without a clue what to do, it was the best plan he had.

And, right now, his nose was telling him that food was definitely the way to do it. Moving slowly―his gaze trailing across the people lingering in lines at the varied stalls―Baelin picked his way closer. He put no thought into it; he just went to a stall that didn’t have a line and pointed to the first thing he saw.

It was a quick exchange―mizas for meat on a stick―and as soon as Baelin had the grilled stick in hand, he moved quickly out of the crowd. As he got towards the edge of the stalls, Baelin bit into the grilled meat.

For a surprised, split tick, every sense he had zeroed in on the food. It. Was. Exquisite. Baelin groaned and took another bite. Savory spices were soaked into the steak, complimented by something he couldn’t quite place. His retreat forgotten in favor of taking yet another bite, Baelin stopped and sank into the flavor. Gods this was good.

Who cared if this was some kind of magic trap. It was a delicious trap. And Baelin figured that this grilled steak might very well make up for whatever came next. What had the vendor called this? Baelin should have been paying attention.

It wasn’t until he was a few bites in that he realized he’d stopped without even bothering to check who he was next to. Pausing for a tick, Baelin took a quick glance around. There were people in the square and people in the stalls, but in this space between there seemed to mostly only be those on their way to one or the other. Keyword there being mostly. Close enough that he really ought to have taken note of her sooner, was a woman. Her skin was perhaps the whitest he’d ever seen―so light that it made her stand out. All the more reason he was an idiot for not noticing.

Baelin took another bite, resolving to not beat himself up over it. The food, after all, was really petching good. Worth it.

Long, black hair stood in stark contrast to her alabaster skin, softened by strands that faded to white. She seemed to like the contrast though, since her eyes and lips were loaded with what looked like dark cosmetics as well. Really striking, almost mesmerizing…and he’d been staring, hadn’t he? Baelin jerked his gaze away, took another bite, and―after an awkward tick of chewing―glanced back.

Shyke, he should just go find some quiet spot to eat, this was ridiculous. With a wince, Baelin took another bite and held up a hand in apology. No need to offend anyone right off the bat for staring. Didn’t really jive with his whole “blend in” plan, did it?

And yet. His main concern at the moment remained the steak. Because it was delicious. And possibly worth dying over.

Baelin took another bite, tilting his head skyward as he savored it.
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Kelski on December 31st, 2019, 4:12 pm

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She watched him with a mercurial gaze that made her eyes look almost blind. He was sinking his teeth into the meat like a man that hadn’t eaten for a good while and standing in space he was somehow owning without conscious thought. She saw that he was buried within his own mind and noted the exact moment his consciousness surfaced and began to examine the area around him. She felt the almost physical weight on her as his eyes roamed her hair and face, then took in the rest of her form. Strangely, it wasn’t an unclean vision like she was accustomed to from strange men. It was a more cataloging gaze of which she didn’t mind.

“I’ve known places that such distractions would get you killed.” She said, drinking in his scent which was an odd mixture of a multitude of things. “By the way you smell, so have you.” She referred to Sunberth, of course, though she didn’t elaborate. “As much as I hate the stink of that city and its ever belching slag breath, you smell of good things too.” She added, maybe to apologize for the unnecessary rudeness of pointing out his scent. “Forges are a comfort, as to are the metals they reshape.” The woman commented as she tossed her hair out of her eyes and shifted her stance, sweeping her gaze across the crowd.

The woman never held anything in her gaze for long, instead kept her eyes moving, noting changes in the crowd and flow of traffic now that she’d engaged a stranger in a conversation he’d never asked for.

She was dressed in a sleeveless tank that molded to her form revealing arms that were well-shaped from hard work and corded with light feminine muscle. Though one would not mistake her for a boy, she didn’t enjoy a shapely figure as most men preferred. Instead, the tank was tucked into loose cotton pants that were belted at her slim hips and tucked into boots that hugged her calves. She carried a backpack of black leather that looked so light to be all but empty. A brace of throwing daggers hung across her chest and there was a small belt pouch at her hip. Otherwise, the only thing of note about her was that she wore jewelry… fine stuff. Bracelets graced her wrists. Both ears were pierced and hung with metal that dripped colored gems. And she had a piercing in her nose that didn’t look out of place on her where it would on most people.

The woman moved then, turning to nod to the food seller he’d just bought his kabob from. She held up five fingers, paid for the kabobs of meat, and returned to where he stood. Keeping three for herself, she offered him the other two soundlessly. She didn’t hesitate in giving them to him. It was the type of offer that included enough authority that one almost always accepted because the ‘offer’ was just a formality but the ‘acceptance’ was a given.

“Your reaction decided for me. I came here hungry, but had no idea where to start.” She said, holding two of her kabobs in reserve and starting to nibble on the other one. She left him then, crossing away from the food vendors to pass officially from what was The Fountain Walk into The Fountain Square and picked a shaded bench that was open. She settled on it exactly in the middle of the bench to begin to eat, then glanced at him. She deliberately then slid over, making room in an unspoken invitation, so if he wanted to share the shade while they ate, he could. That action was decidedly far more of an invitation than the offer of food had been.

If he joined her, she’d continue the conversation between bites of meat. He could tell she thought they were just as good as he had, since she didn’t just gulp down the hot meat but chewed it thoroughly and spoke only between completely finished bites.

“My name is Kelski. I used to live in Sunberth so I recognize its scent a mile away. I owned The Midnight Gem out at the confluence of The Mudway. It was a jewelry shop. I had enough though… more than enough.. of the city though and moved last summer to the outskirts of Zeltiva in the Wildlands.” She said, glancing up and meeting his eyes.

“It’s not makeup. No woman could be that vain. I’m Kelvic.” She added, knowing he’d thoroughly eyed her coloring a moment ago, however politely he’d done it. “And your eyes say you aren’t human, at least not fully. That’s a good thing. Most humans I’ve met aren’t worth their weight in animal dung.” She added with a small shrug and took another bite.

“So Sunberth has a Dovecote too? One appeared at my place as well. We had no idea what was going on. And now we have access to this place. And this place is a lot to take in.” She mused, half talking to him and half talking to herself. She was making assumptions and going off what the dovecote keeper had said when she arrived. Then she sunk her very white very human teeth into the next kabob, tossing the now-empty stick into a trash bin that was close by. She contemplated the trash bin thoughtfully and turned to smile at the stranger. “They collect trash here. I bet that’s something you don’t see too often.” She added, and drew her legs up onto the bench, folding them under her.a
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 4th, 2020, 7:32 am

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“…such distractions would get you killed.” It took Baelin a tick to realize she was talking to him. He froze―teeth still sunk into meat―and snapped his gaze back to her.

At her next words, Baelin frowned. He ducked his head a little and took a deep breath, trying to get a decent whiff of himself. Did he really smell that bad? Had he gotten so mired in the stink of stress that even a complete stranger could pick it up? But then she continued. The stink of that city. Its slag breath. Baelin’s eyebrows rose as he realized it wasn’t really him she was complaining about. It was Sunberth. She could smell Sunberth.

Perhaps he’d gotten so accustomed to the city that he could no longer recognize the permeating stench of its endless fire. That was a thought he didn’t like one bit. Baelin ripped off another bite as she talked, still prioritizing the sautéed steak. “You smell of good things too. Forges are a comfort.” Baelin blinked in surprise. To get details like that so quickly was… He swallowed and lowered the skewered steaks, his full attention now on her.

While his focus was on her, hers was with the crowd. And Baelin took the moment to study her. Adorned with jewelry that she wore well and corded with strength, Baelin might have guessed she was a beached Svefra with an affliction of too-white skin. But her eyes were the grey of steel, not the blue of Laviku’s, and the flowing waves of the ocean god’s mark were absent on her. No, not Svefra. But wealthy, yes. Her jewelry carried colorful gemstones, and Baelin had to imagine they were expensive. And…was that a stone in the back of her hand? Baelin squinted at the polished stone, trying to determine how it was held in place. But he could see no fixture.

She moved. Baelin blinked, his concentration broken as she went to the vendor he’d previously visited. When she ordered five, Baelin’s mouth quite literally watered. And when she came back and handed two of them to him, he accepted before he could even think not to. Baelin stared at the additional steak skewers in his hand, brain sluggishly trying to catch up. She gave him a few words in parting, then left.

Why would she give him more? Who cares! A part of him insisted. A part fueled largely by how petching good these skewers were. But a more hesitant, more distrustful part of him gave pause. Was this some kind of play? Baelin glanced back to the woman, tracking her movement into the square. She took a seat on a bench, looked to him, and then slid to one side. It was an invitation if he’d ever seen one.

What was the trick here? Lull him into a false sense of security…and then what? Baelin couldn’t figure it out. With his steps careful and his eyes darting about, Baelin crossed over into the square. He pulled in a deep breath―nowhere to go but straight―and took a seat next to her.

Baelin took a bite of steak as she introduced herself, food still prioritizing over paranoia. Kelski. Who used to live in Sunberth. His eyebrows rose in surprise as Kelski continued: a business owner. Of a jewelry shop known as the Midnight Gem. Baelin couldn’t say he recognized it, but that might be because―as she said next―she had closed up shop and moved to the wildlands outside Zeltiva. Baelin couldn’t blame her. If he wasn’t so dead-set on being close to Sahova, he’d likely be of a similar mind.

Finishing up his original skewer, Baelin switched to one of the new skewers Kelski had given him. He sank his teeth in and fresh juices erupted; so delicious that a groan rose unbidden. But Baelin couldn’t be bothered to care, it was so good. Baelin slowly let his guard down as she talked, letting himself enjoy the steak. It was too good to do anything less.

“It’s not makeup,” she told him. Baelin turned to look at her, scanning her facial features again. Up close, he could see what she meant. He could see pores in the black around her eyes, and no sign of the kind of caked material he’d expect from a layer so thick. Kelvic. He supposed that might be why she’d been able to pick apart his life by scent alone. Baelin turned to take another bite, mulling it over. But before he bit in, she continued. And he froze.

Your eyes say you aren’t human.

Baelin inhaled―sharp and tight―at being figured out so easily. It shouldn’t be a shock. She’d been able to piece out where he lived and what he did with just her nose. And it wasn’t like the marks of his mucked up bloodline were invisible. No matter what he did, anyone who really looked could figure it out.

At her next words, Baelin huffed a humorless variant of a laugh. A good thing? He shook his head. No. Whatever her experiences with full-blooded humans, Baelin had to disagree. It wasn’t a good thing. Not for him.

But she carried on her conversation, and Baelin was left with just a bad taste in his mouth. He took another bite of meat―tearing into it almost angrily―to try and flush the sour flavor out.

“So Sunberth has a Dovecote too?” Baelin glanced at her, mouth still working as he chewed. It took him a moment to realize what she was saying, but―as he did―his frustration ebbed. She knew things. Such as how he’d come through a building that had housed roosting pigeons. A dovecote. Actually…with that said…Baelin turned back to the way he had first come through. Birds came and went from the structure, and Baelin was suddenly willing to bet that if he stepped inside, he’d see roosting pigeons. Not the same ones as in Sunberth though. No, he’d bet he’d see the inside of the Outpost’s Dovecote. A thrill of fear raced through him: what if he couldn’t get back?

He watched her throw out her used stick, but only half-heard the words she said as his mind raced. He had to be smart about this. Maybe he could go back to the structure and ask someone there how it worked. Or maybe that’d be yet another way to mark himself as a target. Gods, he hated being in new places. If his life revolved around nothing more than the smithy, his apartment, and the Dust Bed, he’d be perfectly happy with that.

But―at the very least―Kelski knew things. Maybe she would know what to do. And maybe he could find out what that was, without making it painfully obvious that he hadn’t a clue what was going on.

"The Dovecote..." He began quietly, struggling to formulate what to ask. But any question he could think of would show just how little he knew, and that wasn't what he wanted. Blend. Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin decided to change tactics. "You were right," he admitted. He rolled his thumb against the stick and watched the meat spin. "I work at a forge." He took a small nibble of steak, chewed, and then held the skewer up and gave it a little shake. "Thank you," He said, a rare smile ticking the corners of his mouth. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had something so tasty, and it truly was a treat.

Pulling in a deep breath, he steeled himself to at least and be friendly. "I'm Baelin." He then gestured to Kelski’s bracelets and said, "They look well made. Your work?"

With his own used stick to throw out, Baelin followed her lead and rose to toss it in the same bin she had used. He'd gotten so in the habit of carrying his trash with him, that it hadn't even occurred to him to look for a receptacle. Once he sat back down, Baelin turned his gaze back to her, guarded and uncertain. Instinct told him to be careful. Necessity told him he needed to know more. And his appetite was reminding him that she had given him two skewers, and surely nobody who gave him delicious food could be bad.

Baelin went for the middle ground. He rubbed his palm and asked, "What brought you through the dovecote?"
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Kelski on January 4th, 2020, 2:18 pm

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The Sea Eagle simply nodded at his thanks. Then, as was starting to appear her usual habit, went back to scanning the crowd. She was with him, yet still incredibly watchful. “Hopefully you don’t work at the foundry in Sunberth – Dagwood Metals. The owner there thought he’d make a sale one day when I was visiting and pinned me against one of his work benches and put a brand to my flesh. Slaves have very little value there. My pain made him hard then. My daggers will make him soft now.” She said in a quiet tone tinged with a hint of lethal. “Daedalus Dagwood. He’s not a good man. Someday he will either fall prey to the city or adjust his value system.” Kelski said softly.

“My work, yes, thank you. I am a free jeweler now. A good one.” She added, gesturing to the bracelets. There was no arrogance in her voice, not really, just more of her Kelvicness showing forth. She was just stating a fact without pride for it was unnecessary. Her work spoke for itself.

Kelski watched him as closely as she watched the crowd, noting his muscle movements, where he seemingly placed his attention, and the awkward way he started a sentence but didn’t fully commit. She understood. He was a Sunberther. Their social skills were subpar, though his seemed better than most of his city.

She’d started on her second kabob by now, and rather than nibbling delicately at it like a bird, she was tearing into it – confident of its deliciousness – like she hadn’t eaten in a few days. There was no shame in her outright enjoyment of the food. It was good. And truth be told she could eat ten more of the things, though she decided she wanted to sample other things as well.

Kelski sensed his indecision, questions above and below his word choices, then nodded when he asked a question which she suspected wasn’t his real question. She glanced at him again, this time meeting his gaze briefly, taking in his eyes. He wasn’t fully human. Thus, he wasn’t fully untrustworthy.

“When we moved from Sunberth to The Wildlands, we moved into an old tower. We are building a manor house and improving the grounds… farmland, an orchard, stables, even a greenhouse. I know that land well, like my wings or talons, it is becoming an old friend. The Dovecote appeared on it a few days ago. It was simply not there one day and then there the next. We explored it. We found this place. The Dovecote Keeper on this side… Paul Resan… told us – myself and another Kelvic – that they were gifts from Xyna to promote commerce and that we could come here to trade. That is very good for a jeweler living outside a city that needs an outlet for her work.” Kelski said gently, wondering why she withheld the information about Kalistan.

“So I’m looking around… looking for opportunities. Maybe going to set up a shop.” She added, then silently took a deep breath that was filled with sorrow. None of that was exactly the truth. It wasn’t a lie, of course, for she’d need shop or stall space and wanted to make plenty of sales since her primary trade was with the Svefra and they could swindle her faster than a squall could roll into Matthew’s Bay.

“My brother is dying.” She said abruptly, then shock crossed her face as she realized what she’d said. “I don’t know him, but he was a pawn in some sort of power play and was captured. They beat him severely, especially his head. He’s been asleep… for half a season. He won’t wake up. It was beyond our capabilities to deal with. But there are healers here, a Konti especially. She’s with something called The Opal Order which the other Kelvic used to be involved in… bonded to an Opal Order Healer himself. They are supposed to be the best of the best. If she can’t help him wake up, no one but Dira can help him. Either way, Dira was coming for him so we brought him here. The business is just secondary… something to ease my mind. He was a strong man, a powerful one, good with business and fair in his dealings. He doesn’t deserve to die. We brought him here to try and save him.” She said, knowing how stupid it was to have told Baelin the truth, and uncertain why she did.

“You? What brought you through? Paul told us that it’s a two-way door, you can go back through anytime, though it will only take you back to the place you came from. It seems so unreal… that you can pass at will from a place like Sunberth to a place like this and back again in the same few moments. Or you can stay… stay however long you like. Do whatever you like.” She added, then instead of getting up, she made the toss, having eaten the last two kabobs, and managed to pitch the thin sticks of wood into the refuse bin.

“You don’t seem the typical ‘Berther. You haven’t tried to con me, rob me, or petch me yet.” She added, a slight smile playing across her lips. "Tell me about your work." Kelski added, hopeful that they could get a real converstation going now.
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They laugh at me because I am different.
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Kelski
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 12th, 2020, 8:26 pm

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Baelin inhaled sharply, his mind reeling as she told him what Daedalus Dagwood had done to her. That’s just…that’s not… He was hissing quietly through clenched teeth before he realized what he was doing. He stopped himself―cutting off mid-hiss―and pulled in a deep breath.

She met his eye as she told him of her home. How the Dovecote suddenly appeared. Paul Resan, Kelski’s own hopes for spreading her jewelry, all things that Baelin thought made sense. But there was a sadness there. An upset that didn’t connect with what she was saying. Baelin frowned, trying to figure it out, when she told him.

“My brother is dying.” She looked like the words had been yanked from her unbidden, but she still continued. Baelin found himself rubbing his palm as Kelski spoke, holding his expression as carefully blank as he could. Because from what she’d said, it didn’t sound like her brother was alive at all. His body might be holding on, but to be asleep for so long? That was no life. He didn’t know what the Opal Order was, or what sort of things they could do, but Baelin couldn’t imagine they could fix something like that. His hand rubbing went from general kneading to a specific stroke―his thumb tracing the curve of Dira’s scythe, back and forth.

“If she can’t help him wake up, no one but Dira can help him.” Baelin felt himself breathe easier; she already knew. If this healer couldn’t rouse her brother, then the cycle was the kindest thing. And while most people might not deserve to die, everyone needed to. Baelin nodded minutely and rolled his shoulders, shaking off his tension.

That was…a personal thing to share. With a stranger. A person whose only connection with her was a shared enjoyment of some grilled steak. Baelin could only think she shared it because she needed to. Not because she saw him as an ally, per say, but because he’d been there and a willing ear when she needed to unload. Baelin couldn’t imagine how much stress she must be under to have so much spill forth from her.

“You?” Baelin glanced back at her, pulling his focus away from his hands as the conversation turned back to him. He found another knot of tension ease at her next words. Right back through the Dovecote, and he’d be back in Sunberth. That was good. He didn’t want to be away for long. Noah might worry. “You don’t seem the typical ‘Berther.” Baelin blinked as she went on. He’d been so concerned about her tricking him, that it hadn’t even occurred to him that she must be thinking the same about him. Baelin huffed lightly, and thought about what he wanted to say.

Habit told him to share nothing. To give some noncommittal, uninformative answer, and let this conversation wane into nothing. She could go back on her own way, do what she needed to do for her brother, and then forget she’d ever met him. That’d be best, he couldn’t help but think.

And yet.

Baelin found himself rolling his hand over, exposing his palm face-up for her to see. The bold lines of Dira’s scythe never failed to make him feel. Exhilaration that Dira had gifted him with this. Fear that he’d fail her. Grim determination to make sure that he did not. All of it still as fresh as it’d been years ago. “You’re not wrong,” Baelin admitted quietly, “I’m from Black Rock.” His fingers twitched, and he hesitated.

Telling her what had lured him to Sunberth was a risk. A risk he couldn’t afford. But…

Kelski wasn’t the only one who could use a willing ear.

She understands, he thought to himself, wishing it to be true more than anything. The words seemed to come out on their own; bottled up for so long that they practically raced out at the first break in Baelin’s defenses. “I vowed to bring anyone who…” His long-ingrained habit to avoid triggering sibilance halted his next words, but it didn’t hold them at bay for long. “An island filled with them. Near Sssunberth. I’m there to…” He paused again, not actually sure how to finish that thought. He had no plan; no idea on how to proceed. He only knew that he couldn’t go through his life pretending the island didn’t exist. It wasn’t right. Sahova spat in the face of the cycle, and somehow got away with it.

Baelin pulled in a slow breath and shook his head. This was already more than he should have shared. He couldn’t imagine he’d live long as soon as anyone realized what he wanted to do. There must be a reason an island like Sahova had managed to escape the cycle for so long, and Baelin could only imagine he’d fall victim to it as well. But… “I can’t ignore it,” he murmured, more to himself than to Kelski.

He inhaled sharply and shook himself. That was too much. He shouldn’t continue that thought―not out loud. What else had she said? She’d asked about his work, hadn’t she? Baelin sucked in a breath and tried to change topics back to something safe. “I’m a blacksssmith, I…” But words failed him. He couldn’t think of what to say, his thoughts stuck on how he’d just exposed himself. That was so…so dangerous. Baelin scratched at his forearm―right where he felt the itch of a growing scale―and shook his head. He couldn’t do this. Too exposed. His eyes darted around, jumping from person to person in the square, and the feeling wouldn’t leave.

Baelin shot to his feet. He needed to get out of here. Logic told him the best escape was through the Dovecote. If it took him back to Sunberth, no one would be able to follow. But instinct was a hell of a thing, and all it wanted was for him to find somewhere dark and narrow to hide.

You’re being rude, he could almost hear Rob―an old friend―as if he was right next to him. You’re better than this.

With a force of will, Baelin tried to calm down. He pulled in a deep breath, held it, and then forced himself to sit back down. He couldn’t panic. That would only make things worse. He had to be better. Baelin turned partially to Kelski and looked at her out of the corner of his eye―not willing to take his full attention off of the rest of the square. “Would you like to walk?” There. Not rude.
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Kelski on January 17th, 2020, 3:36 am

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Kelski watched Baelin quietly and nodded to his words about the healer waking Kalistan. She had hope, because there was always hope, but if she lost him, she would only loose what could have been… not what she had known. The thought saddened her in a way she could not explain, not only for herself, but for Dess who would be losing a best friend. Kelski remained silent though, letting Baelin carry the conversation for a while. She’d spoken enough already. And now that her belly was full, she was of a mind to sun herself in The Outpost’s warm almost summer-like sunshine. It was what any good sea eagle would do – after a careful hunt and feast.

She hoped the stranger would open up to her as well. He’d shown flickers of emotion across his face, things that flashed too fast for her to read. She was not good with understanding people or knowing what they wanted, especially human men. In fact, she had a tendency to judge them before she really gave them a chance, and most of those judgements found them wanting.

She noted the gnosis mark on his hand. Nodding, she muttered “Eiyon” loud enough for Baelin to hear. Anya had been one. She’d seen his mark multiple times but had little use for those she considered whisperers of the dead. When she’d been haunted – no terrorized by a ghost – Anja had not helped. He’d not even offered any advice other than to say that he protected ghosts and would not destroy them. Distaste curled in her stomach. Was this man another such as Anja? Taking the side of the dead, always, even if they were as horrible in death as they were in life?

His words meant nothing to her. “I don’t know Black Rock.” She said simply, having never heard of the city, region, or … the big rock it referred too. She wasn’t sure which so she kept the reply vague.

The next things he said made no sense. He had vows? Vows to do what? Bring anyone where? Then he muttered about an island filled with ‘them’. Them who? Kelski blinked, having been long left behind in the conversation full of half-finished sentences and uncompleted thoughts. The man acted a little off, dragging in a slow breath and shaking his head as if clearing the crazy from his mind. Sunberth did that to people. They threw them off balance, off normal, and gave them fears they had a hard time living with for the rest of their lives. Kelski had them as a direct gift from the city itself. One of those terrors were ghosts.

She carefully scanned him for weapons again, trying to note if his hands were clenching and unclenching, making fists or if there were other signs of serious mental illness. Her eyes missed little, but he seemed normal… normal if he’d only stop speaking.

He couldn’t ignore it? She wanted to snap her beak at him and demand what he couldn’t ignore. It was frustrating, as if she weren’t a participant in the conversation at all but someone eavesdropping on someone else’s discussion that didn’t involve her. But she told herself to be silent; to listen. And it wasn’t without its reward. He told her he was a blacksmith. One of Dagwoods then? Kelski stiffened, waiting for him to say more. But even then, he would not finish the sentence. She watched him almost flinch, and reach up to scratch at a forearm as if something bothered him there. He reminded her of a trapped animal, looking for a way out of a cage. And just as she thought he would bolt, she watched the blacksmith shoot to his feet.

He asked her something then, something she didn’t quite catch as she outright stared at him as he seemingly fell apart then pulled himself back together. Kelski wasn’t sure what she was witnessing. She thought it reminded her of a mouse catching the hint of a bird of prey’s shadow above it and deciding to run for its life. What was that instinct called? Fight or flight? Was this what this man was experiencing?

She reached up and rubbed at her eyes… the meat in her full belly reminding her she hadn’t slept much lately and was bone tired due to so many things going wrong and not enough things going right. And all the while the man stood there expectantly. She searched her mind… and it politely repeated his words for her, dragging them from her memory. Walk. He wanted to walk.

“I’m not sure.” She said honestly. “You’ve just been talking to me for the last five chimes and haven’t finished a single sentence. You have muttered about them, looked on the verge of bolting, and might be the employee of one of the men I despise most in this world. Whatever it is, you can’t ignore, and there’s an island filled with ‘them’ close. You’ve made vows I have no idea about and frankly, I’m not sure you are exactly… whole in the mind. I just wanted to share a nice lunch with someone from someplace I’ve lived. And it was a nice lunch. But a walk? I’m not sure.” She repeated, slowly rising to her feet. Kelski looked him over thoughtfully once more, having no idea what to make of the situation, which was about as weird as she’d ever experienced.

Even meeting Gilthas, with his immortal beauty and enchanted chain. Even his calm mystical magical mind wasn’t as weird.

“Why? Why should we walk?” She asked quietly, glancing around like he had, trying to see the crowd and the people around them as he did. What was the threat? What was dangerous? Her eyes were sharp and she had a strong instinct for danger, but nothing rang out to her as out of place or dangerous. In fact, the whole place didn’t seem dangerous; certainly not after Sunberth.
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 18th, 2020, 10:57 pm

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She may not have known of Black Rock, but Baelin had heard her muttered “Eiyon.” And she had spoken of Dira when taking about her brother. And she must know at least something of an Eiyon’s duties. Baelin desperately wished for her to understand. No one outside of home seemed to get it, but if even just one person was able to… Seven years in Syliras, and not once had he met someone who understood. Albeit, he admittedly kept to himself, but still. The cycle was a thing of beauty. A true kindness. And Baelin was starving for someone else to understand that.

It didn’t help that he was bad at explaining himself. Five chimes, she’d said? Surely he hadn’t spent so long just sitting there, trying to organize his thoughts.

He could practically hear Mala’s cackle in the back of his mind. She had always liked to tease him about how slow he was. Baelin grimaced and scratched at his arm, blunt nails attempting to dig in.

Baelin pulled in a deep breath. Held it. Let it out in a rush and then took another, slower this time. It took him a tick, but he slowly forced calm. Instinct kept howling its warnings: he didn’t know this place, he didn’t know these people, he didn’t know this woman, and he was exposed.

He took another breath. Lowered himself back to the bench, and tried his best to ignore it. Because while his fear might be irrational, Baelin knew that he hadn’t imagined what Kelski said: If she can’t help him wake up, no one but Dira can help him. That’s what she’d said. She’d said it. Her own words. Kelski gave him delicious steak, then spoke freely of Dira. And Baelin was perhaps a bit beyond desperate for someone to understand.

“I’m not good at it,” Baelin tried to explain, “At talking.” He scratched harder at his arm, utterly unaware of the red tracks he was scraping away. “We don’t have to walk, I…” Baelin winced. He was a paranoid mess? Shaking his head, he switched gears, “The ‘them’ are Nuit. The island a refuge for undead. And the vow to Dira.” Baelin’s nail finally broke skin and he jerked in surprise, staring down at his arm in bewilderment.

What else had she said? That he might not be “whole in the mind?” Baelin huffed and pulled his hand away from where he’d been scratching, tucking his fingers under his thigh so he wasn’t tempted to start at it again.

Might be the employee of one of the men I despise most in this world. It took longer for that accusation to click than the rest of what she’d said. Did she mean Dagwood? The monster she’d spoken of earlier? Baelin sneered and hissed through his teeth, “I would not work for a man like that.” His hand twitched under his thigh―habit to scratch denied―and Baelin offered, “I work at the Knight’sss Armory.” If either Karos or Lawrence had ever been involved in something like that, Baelin had never heard of it.

He still wanted to get out of the open. This whole place seemed too good to be true, and his skin practically crawled with unease. He wanted to find somewhere to hide and observe until he knew one way or the other what he was dealing with. Just instinct, he tried to convince himself. A sharp pain in his forearm forced him to look down, and Baelin realized he’d begun scratching again. He was so close to the budding scale, if he could just reach in and grab it… Baelin hissed in annoyance and tucked his hand under his leg again.

Not whole in the mind. Yeah. Yeah that fit. What was he even trying to do here? Did he seriously think he’d find an understanding ear just because Kelski had been friendly enough to feed him? How petching stupid was he? All he was doing was troubling her. Repaying kindness with burden. Baelin grimaced.

He should give her an out. Something nice that she could acknowledge, and then take her leave after. That’d be the kindest thing he could do. “Your brother,” he tried, speaking carefully to make sure he didn’t mess it up, “I hope the Order can help him. I hope you get to know him.”
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Kelski on January 19th, 2020, 12:44 am

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Kelski knew of an Eiyon because she’d lived with one under her roof for a while. But she’d also lived with another nightstalker and they couldn’t have been any more different. Anja wasn’t Baelin nor were they anything close to one another and because of that she wasn’t willing to judge him based on what she knew because it could be all wrong. In fact, it usually was.

So instead of judging him, Kelski simply observed him like she’d observe prey or another predator – sizing them up and taking a measure of them of their own accord and on their own merits. And when he admitted he wasn’t good at talking, she only nodded, relaxing her expression because honestly, she hadn’t been a good communicator most of her life either. People – people who liked to talk a lot – had forced her into it. And she, above everything else, understood the learning curve there.

When he said the word ‘Nuit’ Kelski’s expression changed. One moment her eyes were bright silver and the next they’d darkened to liquid mercury and held death in them. Clearly, she knew the word and she didn’t even remotely try to hide the distaste on her face. “The other one… the Eiyon I knew… had been married. He was a man of the horses out on the Sea of Grass. Their kind… the kind that steals bodies to live forever, killed his son and wife, tore their spirits from their flesh so they could infest the remains like parasites until the flesh rotted away and they had to kill others. I don’t know if he knew about the Island of Nuits, but if he had, he would have burned it to the ground. I… I met one once. And it smelled of death. It was weak too, not like living creatures. And I killed it and burned its corpse because if anything wild would have tried to eat it out of desperation, the flesh of its form was so rotted it would have sickened them.” Kelski said quietly.

She was slim, shorter than Baelin, but her bare arms were corded with muscle and she moved like someone trained to kill. The daggers she carried on her reinforced this idea. But her tone… the way she casually said she killed the Nuit… left anyone overhearing her believing that she had in fact done it.

But he moved on, spoke about his work, and if Baelin hadn’t realized how tense Kelski was before, he would have now by the amount she relaxed… almost immediately… upon him admitting where he worked and who he worked for. Kelski took a deep breath, nodding, knowing about the Knight’s Armory and who the men were there. They were men, but mostly decent ones.

His scratching was driving her crazy and she reached out and swatted his hand away from him. “Stop that.” She trill-hissed bird-like, sounding more like a raptor than the human she currently looked like. “It’s only pain… trying to get out. Your body wants to release it, but it can’t find a way to do it so it itches and rolls like boiling water beneath your skin.” She said, making an instant decision and snatching his hand. She tugged at it, moving away from the sitting area, dragging him into the crowd walking towards the bazaar. “You are bad at talking, but talking is the easiest way to release it. Walking helps too. So does pummeling something with your fists or stabbing it with a dagger. But that can be ugly.” She said thoughtfully, boldly, like she didn’t care who heard.

“So let’s walk. Your idea was a good one. I also need a bath. Let’s walk until we get tired and go see the bathing place. It has a nice pool you can relax in.” She added, releasing his hand once they were moving. She only dragged him forth to get him moving, to get his mind off whatever was tormenting him enough inside to cause him to scratch at his flesh. “I have seen a lot of the bazaar, but I have this lot to look at… a lot number in fact… of a shop on the wall, I want to look at. It’s small, but you can come to help me find it if you’d like too. And if there’s something you’d want to see along the way we can search it out. I was told to leave the Redynn, that I was hovering over the healer. So, I can’t go back there for a while. You should keep me company. Someone your size will keep anyone else from harassing someone my size.” She said, lengthening her stride to match his and parking herself off his left shoulder unconsciously, having noted he used his right hand to eat with. She wouldn’t be in the way of his fighting or defending himself if such things came to it. And she could use her daggers with either hand.

“The shop is on the western wall… off a busy courtyard. It has one entrance and a back door that leads to a Riad that is vacant that I’m told is rather lovely. If I open a shop here, I might as well come up with a place to stay overnight once in a while.” She added, planning on exploring both. She paused at a vendor, purchasing a chilled juice to fill her flask, and sipped off it as they walked, taking in all the sights.

“You don’t have to talk.” She said after a few chimes. “But I might… just to keep us both company.” She said softly. “I don’t know my brother because I was stolen from my family as a child and sold into slavery for some sort of revenge against my family by a rival family. I guess killing babies weren’t their level of spite, though selling them into slavery was just fine. I was always told I was a Svefra that was born without blue eyes so I didn’t fit in and was traded for supplies. So I’ve lived in Alvadas, Lhavit, among the Svefra, and Sunberth where I earned my freedom. My brother never stopped looking for me. He’s human. He and his best friend have spent the last six years looking for me. I want him desperately to wake up because I want to thank him for not giving up on finding me.” She said softly, glancing sideways at Baelin.

“The world is full of crazy things. What about you? Tell me one more thing about yourself. We can trade tidbits as we walk. One for one…. unless you want to just listen.” She said, glancing at the angry scratch on his arm. “But I don’t think you really want too. I think you want to say a few things, just a few, and maybe it will itch and hurt less.” She said softly, keeping her voice just for him even in the crowd.
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Intersection (Baelin)

Postby Baelin Holt on January 19th, 2020, 8:22 am

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Her story of the Nuits―while grim―was unsurprising. They were rotten, through and through, and Baelin could only imagine that they commit all sorts of horrors. What had been a surprise―and a welcome one―was how unbothered she seemed at having killed one. Baelin’s lips curled in feral satisfaction. What a good end to a story. She should kill more of them. With how comfortable she seemed to be with wearing all those daggers, Baelin imagined she’d be a good sight better at it than him.

Baelin was still thinking of Nuits when she swatted his hand. He stared at it in surprise, brain taking a tick to catch up. Did she just… Stop that, she hissed, her voice spiking in a such a high pitch that Baelin jerked his hand back before he even realized what he was doing. It’s only pain, she continued, and Baelin couldn’t help but grimace. It wasn’t that, he wanted to tell her. Growing scales never hurt, per say. It only hurt when he started digging for the scales himself. No, they were―

His thoughts were abruptly cut off when Kelski grabbed his hand and pulled. Baelin stared at his ensnared hand and followed automatically behind her, his brain sluggishly trying to catch up with the unexpected change. Kelski pulled him further into the crowd, and Baelin could only manage to log what she said as he struggled to actually understand. She spoke of talking to release “it,” walking, fists, and daggers: it took Baelin until she’d pulled him clear across the square to realize she was talking about ways to relieve stress.

Feeling oddly touched by the gesture, Baelin found himself continuing to follow her, even after she released her grip. Kelski’s words shifted to a discussion of…a lot? A shop on the wall? Something she wanted to see. And a bathing place with a pool to relax in―that he understood. Baelin loved baths.

He tried to commit everything she said to memory, just in case she expected him to recall any of it. Baelin still couldn’t believe she hadn’t opted to leave him at the bench. Why would she…ah. His size was to her advantage. That made sense.

Kelski fell into step beside him, and Baelin found himself pulling his shoulders back and taking advantage of his full height. If she wanted a looming presence, then she’d get a looming presence. Especially if it meant a bath. The corner of Baelin’s lips twitched, thrilled at the idea. Gods he loved baths.

While the stalls surrounding the Dovecote’s square had been devoted to food, the stalls they now passed contained such a plethora of things that Baelin honestly couldn’t keep up with it. His attention snagged on weapons he’d never even seen before, gaze lingering on a blade mounted to a vambrace. But Kelski kept passing stalls as she talked: a shop near a courtyard, the “Riad,” opening a shop and staying. Baelin couldn’t say he really followed everything she said, but he tried. She was a businesswoman, and this was a place of commerce. That much he understood. Baelin’s own thoughts strayed as they walked, dreams of his own smithy sounding so much more distant than Kelski’s plans for expanding her jewelry’s reach. Because while she might be an accomplished businesswoman, Baelin knew nothing of running a business. He could smith―he knew that―but all the rest of it…

Kelski stopped to fill her flask, and Baelin scanned the beverages at the stall with curiosity. He couldn’t even begin to guess what the multi-colored juices were. Everything here was so…diverse. Foreign. It was insane to think that a place like this could exist, with the world being what it was. It was just…

Xyna’s gift to us all.

They had strolled into a section of pottery, and Baelin was utterly unprepared for the display. There were functional pieces, yes, but also works of such exquisite craftsmanship that Baelin couldn’t help but marvel at them.

“You don’t have to talk,” Kelski’s words jerked his focus back to her. Baelin glanced over, and his expression softened as she added, “But I might… just to keep us both company.” Between her amiable presence and the easy way she talked without demanding a response from him, Baelin was finding himself slowly relaxing. And so it caught him off guard when she spoke of how she was stolen as a child, sold into slavery, moved among cities and Svefra, and only just recently reunited with her brother. Baelin’s spine went increasingly rigid as she laid it all out. That was… Baelin curled his fingers in and rubbed at his palm, unconsciously tugging on his mark. He couldn’t imagine it. Even on his worst day, he’d never been traded for supplies. Baelin gritted his teeth and failed to hold back his low hiss.

What about you? He met Kelski’s sideways glance, and hesitated. What was there to say? Baelin couldn’t think of a single thing interesting about himself. He enjoyed his work, but that was about it. Dira graced him with her mark, but Kelski already knew that. What else was there?

But then her gaze tracked down to his arm―the scratch from earlier still inflamed, and now scabbed over where he’d broken skin―and he knew what he could share.

Baelin grimaced. He didn’t want to expose this. He spent so much time making sure no one saw it… but then she’d spotted it within ticks of meeting him, hadn’t she? What had been her words? That his eyes said he wasn’t human?

Maybe it will itch and hurt less. Baelin doubted it, but… he didn’t want to lie. She’d already seen his eyes and had understood what they meant. There was no use in trying to hide it. And Baelin couldn’t help but feel that he owed it to her, however irrational that might be.

Pulling in a deep breath, Baelin lifted his scratched arm for her inspection. He clenched his fist and twisted his forearm, forcing muscle to push the partially formed scale up against the scab until it broke free. As soon as he saw the tip, Baelin wanted nothing more than to reach over, pinch it, and yank.

He didn’t. Baelin left the incriminating tip right where it was. “A Dhani petched my mother,” he explained, blunt and flat, his voice barely above a murmur, “I don’t know who. I don’t know why. But I know it’sss not a good thing.” Baelin glanced back up and only managed to look at her for a fraction of a tick before he had to look away. He grimaced. “Maybe for a Kelvic, it’sss not a bad thing. But me?” He shook his head and dropped his arm.

Unnatural. Scales were not meant to grow from human flesh. His own body struggled with it, trying to force hard wedges out of pores only intended for hair. A mess of two clashing bloodlines failing to reconcile, with patches of skin devoted to nothing but a shoddy attempt at scales. No, Baelin wasn’t just unnatural. He was a petching joke.

Baelin stared at an ornate cup off to Kelski’s side, trying to focus on its painted swirls instead of sinking back into that familiar pit of self-loathing. The hate didn’t help anything, no matter how true. Pulling in a deep breath, he tried to let it go.

His arm still itched. Even worse now that he was thinking about it. Almost overwhelming, and his fingers twitched at his side with his desire to scratch it. He curled his fingers into a loose fist instead, rubbing his fingertips against his palm. And he looked anywhere but at Kelski, finding plates that suddenly seemed to deserve every bit of his attention.
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