Closed A Long Overdue Freedom

In her hunt to understand her wild nature, Oresnya runs into Kelski

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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Oresnya Cacao on January 4th, 2020, 10:05 pm

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Winter the 12th, 519 AV


Home. Her thoughts were filled with it today. There were so many people she wanted to see again, many of them old friends or even just acquaintances in passing, but the most important ones were all family. Her father and mother, Davulod and Senessa, who she had left with nothing more than an “I love you” before disappearing. There had been no warning of Oresnya’s departure. The words she had left them with were the same ones she had used every day on her way out of their hanging dwelling to the Weft and Warp to weave Ranekissra silk. Then there was her brother Deshvelon who had very little left. It was cruel of Oresnya to leave him. In his wife’s passing, he had lost the person who perhaps understood his awkward ways best. All he had left was Oresnya who had been his greatest friend in their younger years. Her, and his daughter, Oresnya’s niece Ynessa. Of all the people in the world, her lover included, Oresnya wanted to see the child most. Ynessa had been too young to know who Oresnya was before her aunt left Kalinor. Oresnya wanted to see what sort of girl she was growing up to be. If Ynessa was anything like her mother, she would be remarkable.

Yes, Oresnya’s thoughts were consumed by people, because it was family that made a place home. Wind Reach still wasn’t home, not yet, though day by day, she grew more comfortable in it. Still, she had to admit there were times when she felt more alienated than when she had first arrived. Certain people, admittedly due to actions of her own, held a more deep-seated fear and hatred of her than the vague one they held for all Symenestra.

But Wind Reach didn’t matter right now, because it wasn’t Wind Reach she was going to be in, if Hacaw’s information was correct. An odd building filled with doves had appeared in Wind Reach. It wasn’t so much the contents that were odd. Birds were practically worshipped in the mountain, and another building dedicated to housing them was a welcome addition to the city. What was odd was its sudden appearance. There had been no construction, no supplies and materials laid out beforehand. There had simply been an empty space one day and a dovecote the next, but that wasn’t the end of its outstanding nature. It took people places. Not places, a singular place. Everyone who entered and closed the door behind them found themselves in an open air market place, and from talking to the people who had been there, the market had people from all over Mizahar present. There was a chance that there was a connection to her home.

So Oresnya had quickly padded her ways barefoot through the halls of Wind Reach until she found the dovecote in a place near the Wind Eagles’ aerie, a place that allowed the doves quick access to the outside air, a place where they could easily take wing but still be sheltered from the elements. She had been in Wind Reach long enough that they had deemed her escort unnecessary, but Oresnya missed her shadow. Bob had become something of an unwilling friend, confidant, and cohort in all things Oresnya did. Now, when Oresnya walked the halls, it was completely alone. Perhaps it was just that she was still an outsider. Perhaps it was something more.

For all her attempts to fit in, fate seemed to be throwing more chances to not, and Oresnya, fool that she was, always seemed to take the bait. It was the call of the wild. Instincts raged inside her, clawed just beneath the calm surface of the humanoid exterior, begging to be free. There was the primal nature, the one that longed to hunt and feast on flesh the way it had before her people had learned language, before their city and society had sprung into being. It showed itself as a dangerous glint in her eyes, perhaps visible, perhaps lurking just beneath the surface. Whichever it was, it made others nervous around her or avoid her completely. Only her fellow seamstresses, Leo the Poisoner, Val the Gatekeeper, and the mute Dek Eshryd still kept her company, and some of those only out of necessity.

But Oresnya was headed somewhere new, where no one had any preconceived notions about her excepting only those that existed toward her race, so she swallowed as much of the urge of those instincts as she could, burying them beneath layers and layers of artifice, the warm outward demeanor that society so often looked kindly upon and a smile that spoke of friendship when there was no basis for it. Wearing these as well as she could, Oresnya stepped into the dovecote and shut the door behind her. Not knowing how long the dovecote needed for the magic to work, Oresnya waited several chimes, watching the doves watch her. With beady eyes and soft coos, the birds considered the intruder with erratic bobs of their heads that seemed to say she was a curiosity but welcome.

When she was convinced enough time had passed, she opened the door and found she was no longer in Wind Reach. This was not the hall of a mountain city, but an open market with clear sky above. It had worked!

She didn’t have long to marvel before a flutter of feathers burst over her shoulder and out the door as several doves flew to the ground outside and began pecking at crumbs that had been scattered there. Stepping outside with them, she noted with a certain pleasure that the air here was warmer than the air of the mountain she had left. Perhaps they were farther south.

No one was about at the moment, but she heard the general hubbub that came from a marketplace in full swing. Business men and women were hawking their wares, but Oresnya was far enough away she couldn’t hear what was being sold. The wares didn’t matter though. She wasn’t here to shop. She was here for signs of home, for Symenestra comforts once more. Setting off at a brisk pace, she rounded a corner and nearly ran into a couple.

There was a moment where an apology hovered on the man’s lips before his eyes registered who, or rather what, was standing in front of them. The words never made it off his tongue, and instead, he gripped the woman’s hand a little more tightly and pulled her behind him. Oresnya smiled, perhaps a bit too broadly, showing off canines that gave legitimacy to their fear. They hurried on with Oresnya’s pleasant “good morning” following them.

The Symenestra wasted no more time making it to the market place, but she found herself disappointed, not in the market itself or its contents which were perhaps the finest she had ever seen but in the absence of a Symenestra presence. Her eyes scanned the crowd, but she didn’t find the familiar hair, eyes, and skin of her people. With hope dying inside, Oresnya made several laps around the market, each time searching for a Symenestra, each time looking for the deep tones that were so typical of Ranekissra silk, each time drawing more and more hostile glares. Her people had made a dangerous reputation for themselves, and those who didn’t partake in the Harvests still had to bear the weight of what their brothers had done.

The stares began to weigh on her, and she abandoned her search. Rather than seeking the familiarities of home, she began to watch for something different. It was humankind that kept a wary watch on her, but there were creatures of this world that didn’t share the human outlook. There were creatures who took the world at what it was, who had a simpler yet in ways more complex understanding of how the world worked. Humankind had once known it, but years of living in cities and societies had dulled their awareness of it.

The it was the call of the primal creature deep within, instincts long honed by survival. This was something Oresnya longed to understand, and there were others out there who could help her understand. She had met a Kelvic last season and had seen that dangerous glint in his eyes. It was more than just danger that lurked there. It wasn’t simply predatory. Rather, it held a wisdom of the world that couldn’t be shaken, a wisdom that had existed from the dawn of creation, a wisdom humanity had forsaken for logic and knowledge. As she made a final lap of the market place, Oresnya kept her eyes on others’ eyes, ready to capitalize on the opportunity should it arise.

And finally, Oresnya saw one. It was subtle. Many of them were. While there was the natural behavior that came with their animal natures, many Kelvics had adapted to living with people, and sadly, some of what made them them was lost.

The look in this one’s eyes was almost human, so very close, but that knowledge that only came from an attachment to one’s wild instincts ran fierce beneath the cool gray surface. It was that that Oresnya saw first, though had she been paying attention there would have been other things to clue her in as to the decidedly unhuman nature of the person standing in front this stall. Mostly it was the color of her skin that gave her away. The pallor of it gave even the Symenestra a run for her money. Oresnya realized her own skin and fangs and hair and eyes and nails would give her away as someone unnatural and could only hope the other individual would accept her presence. It wasn’t until she thought of this that she realized she had been staring at the other woman for far too long, and since their eyes had met, the other woman no doubt had noticed.

To try to save some face, Oresnya turned to see what it was the woman was perusing. It was a jeweler’s stall or at least a business woman who sold such things. Rings and bracelets lined the table as well as a few trays of raw and cut gems while several stands let necklaces dangle from them. Reaching out for one, Oresnya remembered someone telling her that the oils carried on people’s skin could damage certain metals, so she used nothing but her long thick black nails to pull the chain up. It was a simple silver chain with a simple pendant, but the stone the pendant held was a brilliant amethyst that matched Oresnya’s.

Before the businesswoman could try to sell her anything, Oresnya turned to the woman with the glint in her eyes. “There are so many incredible things, but I think I like this one best.” She had no eyes for jewels and couldn’t see the many flaws in its cutting. It was only the color that drew her. “What drew you here?”

Oresnya smiled her overly fanged smile and searched the woman’s eyes once more for that hint of the wild before her eyes dropped back to the table, her nails trailing over several other pieces, silver and gold clinking beneath them.
Last edited by Oresnya Cacao on June 1st, 2020, 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Kelski on January 15th, 2020, 3:35 am

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Kelski had wandered the Bazaar for half a day. In full investigation, the Sea Eagle had wandered each and every section, trying to map it in her mind… then she’d flown over it. She’d found it clean, well ordered, and housing everything under the sun. There were other jewelers there too, and that hadn’t surprised her. But there were few master jewelers… just those that made jewelry for the people, everyday wedding rings, trinkets, birth bracelets, and the like that sold. What there was room for was high end items that were masterworks. Wandering around, Kelski found very few examples of this, and none of them in any one place. She also learned that besides the tents out under the sun and stars, there were small shops set into the stone of the walls near the Riads. She’d noted very few empty, but there were some… as well as vacant tents with for lease or rent markers on them. And as she’d wandered the aisles and talked to some of the vendors, she learned a name.

Nico Savadal. She’d gotten his description, and kept her eye out for him. Nearly a quarter of an hour passed before someone knew someone who had seen him taking tea near the northern section. She’d sought him out, asking people here and there after him… especially monks that seem to be patrolling the bazaar… and she got further directions. Soon enough, she was standing beside a man who was lounging at a stand-up table at the edge of the market and quietly introduced herself. After a brief conversation, Kelski had the location of a modest stone shop set into the wall that was vacant and a time the next day to come by, tour it, and pay the man for the shop’s rental if she wanted it. Kelski figured one of the Meraki could come man it, if not Ebon himself, and enjoy getting out of the Syliran winter and into the warmth while they could. She had enough stock to fill it with high end jewelry and it might be able to make more of a profit to Painted Sky. She could call the shop here The Midnight Gem to avoid confusion with The Painted Sky.

The hunt for more business opportunities took her mind off Kalistan for a while… and the reason she was here. Kelski began to walk again, letting her mind roam, and heading once more into the market. The Healers had told her not to come back until the evening… then she could sit with her brother that night, and feed him his dinner. She could spoon the thin broth through his lips, let him swallow, but she was unsure his eyes would ever open and he’d fully come back to them. She could sit with him while his body wasted away and his mind was trapped somewhere else. But she didn’t want to bring him home and tell Dark he wouldn’t wake. The Architectrix Ship that Kalistan crafted and sailed would be devastated. And she didn’t know how to heal a sentient ship’s broken heart.

So, she roamed, examined this and that, bought a silk scarf for old times sake thinking of Lhavit, and paused at a booth that had jewelry that reminded her of Master Li’s work. It even had the Shinning Diamond’s emblem on the back. That too made her smile. She was still smiling when the strange woman that looked a lot like Nico Savadal came up to her… and browsed the booth at her side.

“It is beautiful. It matches your eyes. I know the maker. Master Li from Lhavit. He does good work” Kelski said, then smiled at the other woman. She watched her carefully, noting the long digits and her pale skin. She was lovely, and reminded Kelski of something, though the Kelvic could not for the life of her decide what.

As to the woman’s question, Kelski simply shrugged. “I was wandering the market. Roaming. Thinking of renting space to open a little sales booth. I talked to the man who runs the place. He looks like you. Pale skin, light eyes, long fingers… are you and him related? His name is Nico Savadal.” Kelski added, tilting her head curiously. “Symenestra right? I have a man who works for me who is half Symenestra. He’s a very hard worker.” Kelski added, then offered the other woman a smile.

“I’m Kelski. A jeweler. I’m just here for my brother.” She added, glancing back across the market, as if she could see all the way to where the Opal Healer was working on her brother, caring for him. Worry crossed her face and she offered the other woman a smile.
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Oresnya Cacao on February 8th, 2020, 2:42 am

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Compliments were not something Oresnya was accustomed to, not since she had left The Bonnie Dot. It was one of those things she hadn’t realized how much she had been missing, how much she had needed, until it was given to her. Gratitude filled her and overflowed into a smile, genuine and friendly. It had been a while since she had smiled so well, probably since just after the hunt for the beast. She’d played some small, heroic part in it, and for a short time, the Inarta had forgotten what she was.

The Kelvic woman went on, relaying why she had come. She was here as a business woman, and she had come looking for a place to sell her wares, but then she said something about the man in charge of affairs here that caught Oresnya off guard.

“He looks like you.”

Like me? Oresnya couldn’t help the hope that lit her amethyst eyes.

“Pale skin, light eyes, long fingers…”

Symenestra! The smile that had been there from the woman’s compliment only broadened in the recognition that she had missed one of her own about, that one of her own held a position of some considerable power here.

“Are you and him related? His name is Nico Savadal.”

Nico! Nico had been a few years older than Oresnya, but they had been close enough in age that they had grown up together. He had been a dreamer, seeing opportunity beyond the caverns and traditions of Kalinor, opportunities that no one else saw or understood. Oresnya herself could not fathom them, but she tried. He was blood, in the most distant sense of the word, because he was Symenestra. But he was kin, through the common bonds of brother and sisterhood, through the shared experience of growing up together, of learning of the outside world together, of feeling the wonder of discovery of the many people and cultures that lay above the earth. He was blood, he was kin, and so she tried. Like many of the important people in her life though, he was gone before she could. One day, he said goodbye, but no one understood his meaning. Oresnya had made her own departure in a similar manner.

The woman mentioned the Symenestra man who worked for her, and Oresnya realized there was more of home in this meeting than she had first supposed, perhaps even a touch of fate.

“I’m Kelski,” the woman offered her name. “I’m just here for my brother.”

Oresnya was watching too closely to miss the look of worry that passed over Kelski’s face, and the smile that followed could not dissolve that completely. Giving her best understanding smile in return, the Symenestra hoped Kelski took it as the comfort it was meant to be. Unsure of which way Kalinor and the ocean lay, Oresnya sent her gaze in the direction Kelski had sent hers.

“Family is important, whether it is the one we’re born with or the one we choose.” She shrugged, reconsidering her statement. “Not just important, I suppose. Family is everything. It’s what brought me here today. I came hoping to find someone from my family, from either of my families, because it has been a long time since I have seen either, since I walked away from both.”

She paused at that last statement, guilt biting at her conscience. How many worried for her safety? How many wondered if she was still living between the arrival of each letter she sent? How many missed her and the roles she played in their lives? Daughter, aunt, siter, lover. Despite her best to be encouraging with her words, Oresnya was certain she didn’t hide her own worry well.

“I hadn’t found anyone so far. I don’t know if you realize, Kelski, what a relief it was to hear you say Nico’s name. I knew him, back when I was a child. He was sort of a little of both kinds of family. Kalinor is small, so if you’re born Symenestra, you’re practically blood. But we chose each other as well. There was more than just the bond of a common race. It was friendship and loyalty. It was something more than being related. It was something we chose.”

Shaking her head, she smiled ruefully. “That was a long time ago though. Before he left. And then I left. I doubt he even remembers me. I was still just a kid back then.”

Not that she was ancient or wise now, but she had seen more of the world than many Symenestra her age.

“I guess that’s a part of what makes this place so amazing, the way it connects us all. I’m Oresnya, from Wind Reach, but I wasn’t from there originally. I came from Kalinor by boat. I saw the world from the waves, and the ocean was as much of a home as my birthplace beneath Kalea. What about you, Kelski? Where’d you come from? Where do you call home?”
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Kelski on February 16th, 2020, 3:12 am

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She liked the woman. There was an effervescence about her that Kelski thought reminded her of pale blue topaz – strong yet beautiful, understated, but the more one looked at it the more one admired it because it wasn’t cold and aloof like the first impression gave off. But instead, the Symenestra was full of deep fire that felt warmer the longer one studied it. The thought made Kelski smile, even as she saw Oresnya recognize Nico’s name.

The woman said very little, though her face was not without expression. That was how Kelski realized that the woman likely knew Nico. She thought through her words before she spoke, that much was certain, and Kelski waited patiently, hoping the woman would offer her name as an introduction.

Instead, she mentioned family and finally admitted she knew Nico. Kelski liked that the woman mentioned friendship and loyalty. And that family was important.

Kelski offered a smile. “He’ll remember you. You are like a blue topaz gemstone. Topaz are these hard pale stones – they come in all colors - that people might think are cold, sometimes colorless especially the pale blue ones. But when you hold them, really look at them, they have such a depth of fire inside. And if you hold them against anything white; snow, fabric, even flowers… they shine with such a richness of color.” The jeweler said with a slight mirth in her eyes. She knew a lot of gemstones in her life. Some she appreciated, and some she just wanted to cut all the flaws out of. Too bad people weren’t like gemstones and easily improved.

“Kalinor? Is that where you are from? A city?” Kelski asked, tilting her head curiously. “Why did he leave? Why did you leave for that matter?” The Kelvic asked, glancing back at the wares on the table, and fingering a simple silver bracelet with Master Li’s mark on it affectionately. She should purchase it, but she needed new jewelry like a trout needed drought in its favorite stream. The Kelvic glanced back at Oresnya, pleased beyond measure that she introduced herself and allowed Kelski to know her name.

“It’s very nice to meet you.” She added, glancing around. “I didn’t know what to think of this place. I don’t know if it will be a good place to open a new branch of my business. But I’m hopeful. I’ve spent a lot of time on the ocean too. I was with Svefra for a while.” Kelski said, not offering the fact that she was a slave to them at the time. She did note that Oresnya had said Kalinor was beneath Kalea. At least, she hoped the Symenestra had been referring to Kalinor. Interesting. She’d never heard of an underground city.

“That’s what I’m here for. I know nothing about where I came from. I just met my brother and he is very ill. I brought him here for healing… and I hope that he can recover and I can learn a bit of history. I came from nothing… or so I thought most of my life. It’s… difficult to talk about. I want a past though. If that makes any sense. Maybe Kalistan can help me. I hope they can help him here. Speaking of here… here makes me think of business and a place for a whole lot of unique people to come together. It might be a nice place to do business. What about you? Do you craft anything or are an artist of some sort? This place feels full of those types… not just shoppers.” Kelski added, smiling slightly.

“Would you like to go chase down some food or maybe something to drink? I’m starting to get hungry and I know there’s a dozen places to eat all over the market, sit down or even just walking by hand food…” Kelski said, her stomach rumbling suddenly. Oresnya might have been a stranger, but that din’t matter to Kelski. She’d definitely sit down or a meal with her if the woman agreed.
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Oresnya Cacao on March 28th, 2020, 4:14 pm

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Kelski saw a lot in people, much more than Oresnya thought she would ever be able to see in anyone, even those she held most dear. It was the things she knew of, gems, that Kelski used to voice her thought. Oresnya found that most people were this way. They talked in terms they could understand, hoping to convey the thoughts and emotions within, though others may not understand the words and the reason behind them. Oresnya knew nothing of gemstones, other than that she found them beautiful, almost as beautiful as silk, but that didn’t mean she didn’t understand Kelski’s meaning.

It was a compliment, and Oresnya only wished she could be so observant and offer the other woman a compliment in return. There was plenty about the woman that deserved one, but everything Oresnya came to felt too superficial, too lacking in the substance that the woman’s compliment had brought. She decided on nothing and, instead, took the compliment with another smile.

With the brief silence, Kelski let her own curiosity take off, and with it, came the questions about home and why Oresnya had left.

She nodded. “Yes. Kalinor is the most majestic city you will ever see. Take the world you know and turn it on its head. Kalinor. Beneath Kalea. It’s a cavern city, lightless and breath-taking, for those who can see without the light. Rather than the world hanging above you, you hang above it. Imagine pearlescent buildings hanging from a ceiling of stone and stalactites, like dew drops suspended over a chasm of darkness that’s waiting to swallow them. The only thing more mysterious than the darkness is the Symenestra themselves. It’s beautiful.

“You’d hate it there,” Oresnya added quickly. She didn’t say why. The last thing she needed to do was to create some burning desire in any young woman to see the caverns of Kalinor. It was truly as beautiful as she said, more so even, but it was deadly for anyone not Symenestra. There was a light to Kelski, or at least, the play of light against darkness, like a shadow, that made her something Oresnya was sure the world should never lose.

The Symenestra worked to steer the conversation away from the city itself to the other questions Kelski had asked, but she found herself astounded at how engrained it was in her to speak highly of her hometown. Symenestra children were always taught to speak with pride and admiration of Kalinor. It made it easier to lure women there. It took her several moments to find what she wanted to say, and the frustration and horror was something she couldn’t hide on her face. Once she focused her attention on the question though,
a knowing smile leapt to her mouth.

“Why did Nico leave?” She gestured around herself. “For this. Not this, specifically, but for an opportunity like it. He had always seen the world as one open possibility. Opportunities were everywhere, if one was just willing to look. That’s what he thought, and he set about proving it. I’m glad he found this place or it found him. It’s what he was meant for.

“As for me, I left for family, the one I lost.” That wound, perhaps the deepest one she had, reopened at her admission. Her face fell. “I lost a sister, and I left to let her birth family know she had passed. I’m still searching. Sometimes, the world is so small. Sometimes, it’s too big. This is one of those times.”

At Kelski’s mention of the Svefra, Oresnya laughed, then apologized. “Sorry. I’ve never been an admirer of the Svefra. It was a prejudice that was a product of those I sailed with. Zeltivans know they’re the best on the ocean. Svefra think they’re the best on the sea. You know how it goes. I inherited the dislike, I suppose, but I’ve made it my own. Sorry.”

Oresnya’s smile turned sad when Kelski spoke of her family and her past and her desire to know both. She understood the love a family could bring, but love was the source of all the greatest sorrows. Part of Oresnya hoped the woman before her would never know any of these sorrows, but most of her hoped Kelski found every fraction of love she could.

And then, Kelski spoke of artisans. And food.

“I could really go for a meal right now.” In her hurry to discover the dovecote and the miraculous place it harbored, she had skipped breakfast, a decision she was now regretting. Venom had built in her cheeks overnight, and now it was trying to leak out of the tips of her fangs. They had had a bad way of doing that ever since she had half-starved herself last spring. “I hope you don’t mind, but we Symenestra are picky about our meals. We have… weak stomachs. Have you seen anyone serving soups? I’m afraid I don’t handle much else well.

“As for craft,” she gestured to herself and the silk wrap top she wore, “this is it. Weaving may not have been invented in Kalinor, but we are the ones who perfected it. I’m far from being an artist with it though. This is my best work, and it most definitely wasn’t all my own doing. Most of it was my mother’s. The patterns and pictures a true Kalinor weaver can put into their silk is astounding. One day, I hope I’ll be half that good.”

As they moved through the Outpost, Oresnya passed a table that caught her eye. “Chocolate! I know it’s not soup, but if I’ve learned a few things about life outside Kalinor, one is that there are certain things worth suffering over. I’ll try anything once, if only to know its flavor. Dra Jon introduced me to chocolate early on in my travels on the sea. He said it was important that I know the food that came from the plant my family took its name from. The first time I had it, I ate so much my belly hurt for a week.”

She smiled at her fond memories. “It’s good to know where you came from, but it’s more important to cherish those closest to you. I will pray for your brother, Kelski, not so he can tell you your past, but so you two can get to know each other, so you can face the future together.”

Reaching out, she handed the vendor enough coin to cover something for both Kelski and herself, then selected a piece of dark chocolate and popped it into her mouth. Jon had guided her through the world of chocolate, introducing her taste buds to its many wonders and refining and experimenting with her tastes until she found what she loved most.

As the piece melted in her mouth, she turned her eyes back to Kelski. She felt certain now she had been wrong about the woman. There was not so much of anything different with the way the two of them saw the world. The same things Oresnya found important, Kelski did, too.
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Kelski on June 7th, 2020, 6:02 pm

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Kelski could almost picture the city Oresnya was describing. The Sea Eagle that made up her soul preferred open skies, but she could feel the exotic nature of what Ore described intimately. A lightless city? She could see with infravision but would that do something like Kalinor justice? Kelski didn’t think she’d ever get a chance to visit it, but hearing about it was plenty entertaining. “It’s hard to imagine buildings hanging from a ceiling… do they sway?” She asked, then blinked when Ore professed the Kelvic would hate it.

The bluntness of the statement made her laugh. It was refreshing. “You are right. I would. My Kelvic nature demands open sky and endless seas. A predetermined space would feel so confined. But still, the picture you paint of it is beautiful. You must miss it.” She said thoughtfully, then smiled at the other woman.

“I liked meeting him. I could tell he enjoyed challenges and solving problems. He seemed to understand what I needed and enjoyed rising to figure out what that was and assisting me in getting it. You could tell his work here is rewarding for him.” Kelski commented, hoping to ease what might have been the sting of all her questions. She was curious, precocial, and tended to probably say what she shouldn’t.

The way Oresnya stated her goal… her purpose gave Kelski pause. Was the sister adopted? There was something there… a tinge of some deep dark sadness Kelski couldn’t pin. “Do you need any help with your search? I often talk to Svefra in my trade and many many people pass through my doors in the business world. If I had a name or some basic information, I might be able to help. I probably don’t know your sister’s birth family, but I might know someone who might know.” Kelski said… then looked thoughtful. “Birth family? Is that different than your own family?” She asked, thinking Ore might be talking about adoption or kidnapping. “I didn’t know my real family for most of my life… or even that I had one. But then they found me… at least my brother did… and I learned about them and that I wasn’t born without a home or country or even mother.” She said softly, probably revealing too much to the woman as they stood and talked. Ore was a stranger, but that didn’t mean Kelski wouldn’t let her in. She let a lot of people in… everyone deserved a friend until they didn’t. That was just how she felt about things.

“The Outpost makes the world smaller. I think you came to the right place. The Dovecote Man… he told me that this place is like the hub of a wagon wheel… and all cities attach and leave off from it. If that family is out there, someone here will know of it or know someone that will. I think it was probably a good choice for you to come here.” She added, offering the other woman a grin.

“It’s okay,” Kelski said, shrugging at Oresnya’s statement of dislike in regards to the Svefra. “I find them rowdy and obnoxious at times too. But some of them I call friends. It’s like any people…. You can’t judge a whole people by the individuals you meet. If folks did that, they’d all assume Kelvics were dumb beasts that were no better than slaves.” The jeweler said, shaking her head softly. “And honestly that’s not true. It can be true, but like in humans, we have smart ones, dumb ones, brutal ones, and everything in between. I’m sure your people are the same. Some dangerous, some very lovely and approachable like you.” Kelski affirmed, then tossed her head to set her hair out of her face.

Kelski thought a moment. “I actually saw food vendors that looked like you and Nico. I bet they have food you can enjoy.” The Jeweler said and beckoned Oresnya to follow. “It’s back by the main square, so we will have to walk a bit, but beside it is another vendor that has tender meat on a stick I will like… I thought I even saw salmon. I didn’t pay attention to what your people were serving because they were all in big pots, but we can check it out and if you don’t want it, we can look elsewhere.” Kelski said, setting off. Her stride was almost predatory as she stalked through the open streets of the Bazaar and mentally picked the path less traveled. She tucked in and out of the crowd with ease, neither shoving nor yielding to others but finding a sort of common ground that left enough room for Oresyna at her side.

The walk was ten chimes at the most and they continued the conversation as they traveled. “I don’t mind… I like what I like too… salmon, shorebirds, lots of raw meat.” Kelski said with a laugh. “I’ll eat bread, but it is definitely not my favorite. And it is way too much work to make anyhow.” She declared, ducking by a wheelbarrow and around a woman hawking flowers.

“You are weaver! That wrap is so pretty. It's hard to believe we can actually create stuff like that… or at least you can. If I had to guess, I’d say it was traded from the gods or something. You don’t see a lot of that shimmering material around. It looks far too expensive.” Kelski said thoughtlessly.

The conversation wove in and out between them until Kelski did a half-halt in the middle of the crowd. “You mean chocolate comes from Cacao?” She said, blinking in confusion. “I thought there were chocolate trees or something. There are orange, lemon, and lime trees after all.” Kelski said, looking slightly confused and intrigued. “Do all Symenestra take their names from trees?” She asked, suddenly wondering what Nico’s last name was.

“Kalistan will get better. I feel it in my heart.” She said about her brother, responding to Ore’s words about him being there to face the future with her. She’d really like that. “I’ve spent so much of my life feeling alone and actually being alone.. its nice to have that connection… that family. It's nice to be united by friendship, but blood is thick too… I felt the connection to him the moment I met him.” She said thoughtfully and then smiled again. “I hope I have many many years to explore who he is and that I like what I find.” She added, worried all the same. People weren’t always who they seemed to be. And The Gods knew her family had secrets of their own. She just hoped none of those secrets would hurt her or touch her in ways that might damage her relationship with her brother.

“Time will tell.” She added then thanked Oresyna for the chocolate. She nibbled on it then moaned in pleasure before she led the Symenestra down two more corners and out into the square. There on the corner, as promised, was two different Symenestra’s stirring what looked like big copper pots of partially digested blood broth of a multitude of flavors if the sign advertising it could be trusted.

Kelski left her there, at the booth, and darted next door to purchase four large kabobs of meat which were just laying on the grill cooking with countless others behind the couple’s table. She was back in a moment still eating the chocolate and not touching the meat yet. “I feel like we had dessert first.” She added, then beckoned out into a shady bench in the square. “How about we grab a shady spot and eat?” She said, then smiled. “I’ll tell you about my journeys if you tell me about yours from Kalinor,” Kelski promised, still holding the meat sticks aloft – smoked salmon definitely – and glanced longingly for the bench in the shade she’d spotted.

Word Count 1321
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They laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at them because they are all the same.


Painted Sky Jewelry (The Wildlands) | Crossroads Jewelry (The Outpost)
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Kelski
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A Long Overdue Freedom

Postby Oresnya Cacao on July 11th, 2020, 4:04 pm

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“Do they sway?”

Oresnya laughed, not because it was a bad question but because of the idea and wonder she had created in Kelski’s mind. “No, but the woven streets of Kalinor do. It’s long been Symenestra belief that the breath of some great thing in the deep causes the silken cord roads to quiver to the pulse of the life of Mizahar, to the heartbeat of Viratas Himself. It is said that from the first time a Symenestra touches the streets and walks them alone and unaided, they are forever connected to our God and, in that connection, forever to our people.”

Her smile softened at the thought of home, one of them anyhow. “I do miss it.”

At Kelski’s compliments for Nico, Oresnya felt herself swell with pride. She was as proud of him as she had been for her brother when he had brought Yora home. “That’s exactly what Nico deserves, a rewarding experience, but I don’t think he does it for the reward.”

When Kelski offered her help in the search for Yora’s family, Oresnya’s smile saddened. “Yora’s loss was… is a complicated matter. I know her twin is somewhere in Wind Reach, but whoever it is won’t come to me. They hold a bitter hate for me and my family. Symenestra births are… unkind. No one survives them, next to no one, but Yora was the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She wasn’t strong enough. The Inarta, and I’m sure her twin in particular, blame us for her death, though she came of her own accord, though she knew the risk.

“So I appreciate your offer, Kelski, but I will never find them until I gain their trust. That may happen one day. It may never happen. All I can do is try. I just want them to know how incredible she was to the very end, that a daughter survives her who will know the strength of her mother, who carries her same light of joy. So thank you, but this is my burden to bear, and until I atone for the sins of my family, I can never lay my sister to rest, not in my heart.”

Oresnya’s openness drew some equal measure from Kelski, and for a moment, two strangers found themselves connected by the common bond of family lost and family gained.

The conversation took the brighter turn to sailing and food and art, and soon laughter and smiles and curiosity dominated the mood. At Kelski’s compliments of her and her mother’s shared work, Oresnya’s feet moved lightly, placing and twisting themselves to spin her in a tight circle letting light catch the fabric to show off its design meant more for the dimmer light of Kalinor but still intricate in the harsher light of the Outpost.

“You mean chocolate comes from cacao?”

“Mm-hm. The naming of our families, our Webs, comes from a very old tradition, from when we used to live above Kalea, in Kalinad. Once, we wove our silk streets between the trees, but that is from a time that we only know through history, stories passed down through many, many generations. I would have liked to see that. I’d like to think our people might be much different than what we are now, but wondering changes nothing. We are who we are, and I’m still proud to be a part of that.”

Their conversation returned to Kalistan. “I hope I have many many years to explore who he is and that I like what I find. Time will tell.”

“You will.” Oresnya felt a confidence in that that she didn’t feel for many things. Family was family, and whatever small disappointments they had could not undo the connection there. “Family always has the potential to hurt you, but they will always have the potential to give your so much more than they can take. I am glad you find him.”

Soon, Kelski brought them to the promised place where other Symenestra were cooking food. Kelski left Oresnya momentarily to go find food of her own, something preferably whole and raw, something far different from Symenestra fare.

Alone for a moment, Oresnya approached the booth and cleared her throat to get the other Symenestra’s attention. The face that turned toward her caught her off guard. Oresnya recognized the woman. “Pryzasette?”

There was a moment of shock in the other woman’s face before recognition lit it like the sunrise. “Pryzanya!”

Fluid like the flash of lightning still caught in clouds, Sonasette danced around the table. She had an elegant way about her, probably from all the time she spent as an aerial silk dancer, but that all disappeared as she giddily threw her arms around her old friend. Oresnya returned the embrace fiercely.

“I thought I’d never see you again.” Sonasette held Oresnya out at arm’s length to take in the sight of her friend. “Every time a letter came from you, Deshvelon let me know and let me read it after he and your parents had. It was enough, knowing that you were alive and well, but it broke my heart to think you’d never return.”

“I’ll always try.”

Sonasette served a bowl of soup up and pressed it into Oresnya’s hands. “I saw you were with someone just now. You’ll have to come back another day and tell me about her.”

Oresnya smiled. “She’s a stranger. We’ve only just met. But I think she’s a friend, too.”

“Here she comes. Promise me you’ll come back.”

“I promise,” Oresnya finished in Symenos before turning to Kelski.

Accepting Kelski’s invitation to find shade, she sat perched up on the bench’s back with her feet on its seat. The elevated position felt natural to her, safer.

She returned to Common, though its use felt heavy on her tongue. “Adventures in Kalinor? I have to admit, I wasn’t a very exciting individual in Kalinor.” Oresnya laughed at that. “As if I’m all that exciting now. Though there are still adventures to be had for the most docile of us, I suppose. Adventures? Hmm.”

Something came to mind. “There is one. That breath I told you about, the one from the deep. Don’t ask me what possesses Symenestra children to pursue it, but it almost seems to be a right of passage. You’re not really Symenestra until you’ve climbed down into the depths.

“Me and Sonasette, that young Symenestra lady over there, went together our first time, along with three other Symenestra children. We couldn’t have been more than about ten at the time, but the stories we had heard from the older Symenestra of what was down there and what could be down there excited and mystified us.

“Oh, those stories, Kelski. I wish you could hear them all, and in the Symenos tongue, too. They’re the kind of things that put poets to shame, but I’d do them no justice. Stories of the thing that existed in Mizahar before Semele began to form it or maybe even before Semele existed, some colossal velispar that consumed earth and rock and soil to live. They say Semele taught its heart to beat, and in return, it taught Her to breathe, and together they brought the surface and the depths of Mizahar to life. Some of the stories are less pleasant than this. Stories of Viratas’ forgotten Alvina, shunned by its father only to survive on the offerings of its father’s chosen people, waiting in the depths for salvation or revenge.”

Oresnya shook her head. “What is down there isn’t the point. We went looking. The cavern walls of Kalinor are slick, covered with moss and the precipitation that manages to make its way through the many layers of soil above, though older Symenestra like to tell the younger children that its Viratas’ blood lent to the earth.” She shrugged her shoulders and shook her head again at the stories she believed when she was a child. “So our hands wet with the blood of our God, we made our long way down the walls of the cavern, our long way down to the lightless depths. Any other creature would have fallen, but we were Symenestra. Any surface is ours to climb if we so choose. Our eyes can see nearly anywhere, but down in those depths, even our blessed vision found its limits.”

“There was nothing down there but us and the darkness. And the breath. You could feel it tickling at the hair on your arms and the nape of your neck. It stirred the air and made it fresh, carrying the scent of the rain on it. In hindsight, there must be ways the wind makes it in through tunnels, but it felt like the earth itself watched us. We made our way by nothing but touch, only gravity let us know which way to scurry if we needed to escape back to Kalinor.

“We were down there for what had to have been half a day, but we were so far removed from light that time had no meaning. But the breathing changed, and we were certain something was watching us. Without warning, the earth heaved, and the breathing thing struck. The five of us scattered, not an ounce of courage in us, and we ran. I’ve only ever run that hard once again in my life. All of us scurried out and then up, lost in the darkness and the myriad of turns, but we went up and eventually found each other. We never told our parents where we had been.”

She smiled at Kelski. “We found out later there had been an earthquake, but I’m telling you, Kelski, it felt like there was something there with us.”
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