Flashback Industry in Appreciation

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

Industry in Appreciation

Postby Caspian on July 9th, 2020, 8:36 pm

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39 Spring 519


The more Caspian tries not to fidget, the more insurmountable the petty objective seems to become. The more, counterintuitively enough, it seems like a desirable state in which to be.

In his hands is a leather-striped, mahogany-and-pearl handled fishing rod, at the butt of which is carved an osprey’s head, beak outstretched in soundless squawk. The tips of its beak are hewn to unnecessary ornamental acuity, and within the first ten minutes of this exercise had already snatched and tugged at the cross-hatched stitches of his brocade sleeves.

To his unskilled hands, the damage is incurable, and in despair and defeat he had irascibly conceded to shucking off and neatly folding the article of clothing, stowing it well away from the offender, underneath the bench seat of the raft.

Sartorial sacrilege, but it’s a petching travesty already, the lines of embroidery the damn thing’s gone and shredded.

To his left, well at ease in the rocking raft and beneath the beating sun, Thancerell holds his own fishing pole aloft, gaze transfixed on the waters before him. A floppy hat festooned with braided hemp and colorful lures rests on his ruddy head.

Before Caspian can fully draw breath to speak, Thancerell utters in measured tones, “You promised.”

“Promised? Promised what, exactly?” Caspian sputters. Since when did Thancerell possess sufficient foresight to swerve him?

“You promised we’d do something I want to do for a change.”

“For a change -?”

And that you wouldn’t complain.”

Caspian pauses. “Well - that I find even more unlikely. Utter fiction and rot, if you don’t mind my saying so.”

“I don’t mind you saying most things.”

“But how can you be absolutely certain that I wasn’t about to, I don’t know, compliment you on whatever many-fangled abomination you’ve got going on atop your skull?”

“Because you wrinkled your nose the second you saw me, realized you were doing it, thought I hadn’t noticed, and tried to cover it up by pointing out I need a shave. Which, I’m going to assume you figured, is less of an insult, but enough to scratch that itch you get to be a prat when things aren’t as entertaining as you think they should be.”

It’s Cas’ turn to stare resolutely out at the azure waves, nose wrinkling now with abandon.

Damning and worrying, that declaration, because it indicates Thancerell might, in fact, be in adequate possession of the faculties of astute observation; more frightening to consider is that this may not be something that developed miraculously overnight, and that perhaps he knows more about Caspian than had been previously assumed, and had known those things for quite some time.

“It’s a horrid thing to look upon and if you really cared about me you wouldn’t subject me to it.”

True to form, Thancerell only hums pleasantly in response. “The only thing I’m subjecting you to is the hunt. Which, I remind you, you consented to.”

“This isn’t hunting,” Caspian scoffed. “This is sitting and waiting around.”

“That’s why I thought you’d like it,” Thancerell replies, unperturbed by one of Caspian’s more quotidian forms of whinging. “You do it enough.”

Caspian crosses his arms. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know! That thing - you - do? For money?” His brow furrows, and his gaze leaves the water to meet Caspian’s. “...they do pay you, right?”

In his ungainly way, Thancerell is, it seems, referring to Caspian’s main form of employment. To give the well-intentioned but often well-off-the-mark Thancerell some credit, Caspian admittedly does spend many of his days sitting and waiting. Or standing and waiting. Or walking and waiting, and through it all, watching, with the same earnest and centered steadiness that -

Well, that Thancerell treats the water.

Caspian sighs inwardly.

On his list of goals for the day, he hadn’t figured on sympathizing with Thancerell’s hobbies and proclivities, so removed from his own, to be one of them; certainly hadn’t counted on watching that spark fan itself within him into a sudden burst of affection that makes the obscenity that is his headgear almost -

Well, negligible.

The least he can do is sit here; maybe, if he can find the fortitude, he could even forego any of the snips and snipes at the ready in his arsenal and say something nice instead. It’s been about a fortnight since Taalviel had succumbed to the inexplicable madness plaguing the Kelvic population across the city - since Thancerell discovered the brooding sister was not entirely human, and dragged Caspian out of his latest resulting bender. The throes of it hadn’t been a pretty sight, but Thancerell -

That’s the thing about him. One thing, of several. He hadn’t cared how despondently dejected of a state Caspian had driven himself into; hasn’t looked at him any differently since. Hasn’t asked for any recompense except -

Except that Caspian do something, with him, of his choosing.

And today, he’s chosen to go fishing, and Caspian can concurrently choose to not condemn the both of them to an unpleasant afternoon.

“Fine,” Caspian says, more to himself than his present companion. “And yes, I historically have been known to receive adequate goods and services in exchange for my time. ...said time which I am now, for the record, spending on you. And speaking of time -“ He wags the rod around, lets the line go whipping, the lure catching through the water and rippling. “How much longer, do you think? I thought this city runs on fish? I swear we’ve been out here for over a bell and nothing’s come of it.”

“That’s certainly not helping,” Thancerell says good-naturedly, “Now put on my hat before you burn.”

“Absolutely not.”

“We’re nowhere near the docks. No one’s going to see you.”

I’ll see me. Well. You know what I mean. Besides, Benshira stand under far worse. I assume my being half of one amounts to something.”

At this, Thancerell is quiet - though from a glance stolen his way, Caspian can see that he isn’t upset. Quite the opposite. Because it’s uncommon, Caspian speaking about his parentage, previously never performed in sobriety. The development stems largely from what had happened two weeks prior. Let me be more than anyone, Thancerell had asked, and gently too - and it’s hard, being honest, especially when it comes so much more readily to him to posture and pave away.

They can start here, though. The easy things. The where-are-you-from’s and who-were-you-with’s and maybe, even, his parents’ names. All the things one could tell their partners at the outset, under normal circumstances and without duress.

But he can do this, untangle himself for the burly, boisterous Ravokian who had in his genuinely wholehearted ways never made him feel like this city upon the lake was one in which he didn’t belong.

He means to say something further - he isn’t sure what, but it wouldn’t have been callous or even crude - but Thancerell suddenly rears back, rapidly reeling back the line.

“Got one!” Thancerell exclaims, heaving onto the deck a wildly flopping pike about a hand and a half long.

Instinctively, thinking of his discarded article of clothing now in proximal mortal peril, Caspian reaches for the winding dagger at his waist and drives it into the fish, right behind the gills.

Thancerell triumphantly lets loose another baited lure out into the deep.
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Industry in Appreciation

Postby Caspian on July 11th, 2020, 5:43 pm

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“I think if you knew more about fishing you’d be more… keen on it,” Thancerell mused unhelpfully out loud.

For the better part of the last quarter of a bell, Caspian, though resolved to keep his chronically bad attitude to a minimum – a noble endeavor, given how frequently he’s afflicted – had dwelled too directly on how his arms were beginning to grow sore, that discomfort then seeming to compound with his acknowledgement of it. The fishing rod was still in his hands, though drooping like a neglected houseplant, with the tip of it breaking the water’s surface and the line gone looping across it and slack.

“What’s left to know?” Caspian replies gruffly. He sets the rod down in one of the raft’s notches and leans back, toying with the handle of the spiral dagger, an instrument much more his speed. Just as he’s about to follow up with a more scathing retort, he remembers he only has the Obfuscate dagger because the man beside him had gone out of his way to give it to him; then that it might be argued that when one is the son of a fairly well-to-do crockery merchant, one has the means to live prodigally, and bestowing material gifts is an act of minimal consequence; but that it really is a handsome thing, with the way it seems to snatch up the light and hold it in its windings.

“Something, clearly, or you might’ve caught something by now,” Thancerell replies, all matter-of-fact, because infuriatingly there isn’t and perhaps never shall be a snide bone in his body – of which Caspian has several catacombs’ worth, so there’s plenty to go around.

If Caspian could lean back further into the raft to demonstrate his staunch disagreement with the activity, with his companion’s unflappable blitheness, with the persistent omnipresence of the sun itself, he would. Instead, he draws the dagger from the belt at his waist and absentmindedly flips it over and under his palm, marveling at the spheres of light he throws across his lap.

Thancerell eyes him warily.

“I’m not going to cut you,” Caspian says.

“That’s not it. I’m worried about the flares.”

“What, this?” Caspian playfully angles the dagger so that a beam of light reflects for a moment across Thancerell’s line of sight.

“Yes, that, I don’t think the fish like it.”

“Speaker for all fish between here and the Shore, are you?”

“And all the ones around Zeltiva, and more besides.”

“If you try to teach me anything about the whole kit and caboodle we’ve got going on now, I promise you it will be quite forgotten by the time we dock.”

“You eat fish every day; I don’t see how you don’t, even by accident, have a little more interest in where it comes from.”

“It could come from the petching sky and I wouldn’t rush off to buy a telescope. And for the record, you eat fish every day. The rest of us on the outer rim, though within spitting distance of the source, eat reeds.”

Thancerell sighs. “I know it’s not very exciting. But… what if it was?”

“Consider me incredibly swayed by that argument alone.”

“No, really. I know you, you like – “ Now it’s Thancerell’s turn to wrinkle his nose. “Loud. And shiny.”

Sure, he’s got his crimson shirt on, but any shininess is kept to its most baseline amount – the gold kohl streaked across his eyes.

“So what if,” Thancerell continued, “there was a party? An entire party, just for fishing alone.”

Caspian quit flipping his dagger. He’d begun to grow cross-eyed and mildly worried he would, in fact, accidentally slice off a bit of Thancerell with his wavering focus.

“A party,” he repeated flatly. “For this?” He indicated the fish he’d gutted, now lying in all of its eviscerated glory in a basin kept out of the sun.

“Alright – how about a festival?”

“Well, since I’ve nowhere to go,” Caspian said with a beleaguered sigh, “go on. And there better be firecrackers involved.”
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Industry in Appreciation

Postby Caspian on July 12th, 2020, 12:19 am

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Filling the air had always been a preferable pastime to most other things. And, if Caspian’s being honest - though never, of course, out loud - there’s something about the way Thancerell’s lighting up over an imaginary Ravokian fete that’s kind of...

Nice.

“So there has to be fishing. Obviously,” Thancerell says.

“Obviously.”

“And I think people ought to be dressed up.”

“Hmm?”

“You know. So you can.”

“One hardly needs an excuse. But yes, bells and whistles, please?”

“Let’s have some order to it, though. Everyone can wear... red?”

“Now I know you’re just doing this for my sake,” Caspian gestures at his shirt of the same hue.

“Okay, it doesn’t have to be red. But it could be, if you wanted. Like -“ Thancerell’s eyes darted around, land on the bait hanging on the end of his lure. “Like a bloodfish!” he exclaims.

“And one’s just supposed to know that’s what it stands for?”

“Well, how many other fish are red?”

Caspian doesn’t know, but he’s sure it can’t be the only thing that color swimming around in the lake.

“It needs form,” Caspian says. “And function.”

“Then what if -“

”No.”

“- people dressed as fish?”

Caspian props his legs up over the rim of the raft and delicately crosses his ankles, regarding Thancerell with unconcealed bemusement.

“If only I might share your mind’s eye. And how, pray tell, is one going to pull that off? It has to be a festival for the people, alright, and in mass. The materials and methods need to be accessible to all.”

Bounty manifests, suddenly, with Thancerell hauling another pike onto the deck. Without missing a beat, Caspian skewers it as he’d done with the last, then holds it up for inspection.

“What’s the first thing you see?”

“Dinner?”

“Imminently, sure. But immediately?”

Thancerell stares with ponderous weight.

“...fins, I guess.”

“Right - and the tail. I suppose it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to - I don’t know, sew a sort of - scarf, with a hood on it, something pointed that trails...? And the tails of the scarf, if you made them sort of flow, and swivel - suppose you could imagine they were something like fins.”

“Fish are -“

Another pike on deck.

Caspian stabs through, now with two fish gutted on his blade.

“- all movement,” Caspian finishes for him. “Inseparable from the water, until we have something to do about it.”

“Blue ribbons are easy, right? You could sew them to your sleeves.”

“You want people - no, you want me to ruin my clothes over grosgrain?”

“If you don’t like it, the kids can do it.”

That might just work.

“It’s a good start,” Caspian says. And thank Rhysol for the light breeze rolling up over the water. “Busy work, income flow - if you create the trappings, set the standards - you employ the tailors in this city, the milliners, the couriers to ferry the plans and the goods. The ravosalamen too - though that goes without saying, and they’re never really hurting for business anyway.”

“I think there ought to be something about scales.”

“Jewelry’s an easy fix. Hammered metal discs, linked into sheets. You could do - oh, I dunno, necklaces in cascades. More for the belts. The nobler stock will want more, I think - they could do whole veils.”

“So you do like my idea!” Thancerell says.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.” He slides the still undulating fish from his dagger and into the basin with the rest, unable to help but grin.
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Industry in Appreciation

Postby Caspian on July 12th, 2020, 5:21 pm

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It must nearly be noon, or so Caspian figures, his internal metronome’s configurations confirmed by the apex of the sun above. Purporting to know the general comings and goings of aquatic life, Thancerell had convinced him that they had to embark on their journey at the bleeding edge of dawn, and it was fortunate for the both of them that last night he’d managed to doze off at a reasonable hour. The reason was that Taalviel had not been home, and without her peering at him soundlessly through the gloaming, it’s just a whole lot easier for him to feel safe enough to shut his eyes.

Though –

Maybe it should have had the opposite effect on him, his not knowing where she’d gone. Perpetually scheming and in possession of an inhumanely unflappable degree of goal-directedness, there was certainly a reason for her marked absence, one that she had elected not to share with him, and while that’s certainly typical for their dynamic it still doesn’t make him feel any better, does it, if he has to start living with a permanent look over his shoulder (and here’s where she’d invariably remind him that he should already be living that way, and always).

So - keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your thief-sneak-sister under the same roof if it doesn’t drive you mad first.

He casts a somewhat paranoid look up above. Dark birds soar overhead, but from this distance it’s hard to tell whether it’s just one of the very many gulls in the area, or said Kelvic sister in raven form, exhibiting once again that she’s nothing better to do than harangue him.

“- has to be fishing,” Thancerell says, snapping him back to the present.

“At a festival about fish? You don’t say.” Chewing his lip thoughtfully, if he strains his eyes – no, he knows the angularities of her wingspan.

If she’s up there, though, there’s certainly no helping it from down below.

“Make it a contest,” he says to Thancerell, who’s reapplying a chalky white salve across the bridge of his nose. “Everyone can get behind that. Biggest fish is the winner, or however you want to play it. Within the same species, of course. Anyone who wants in can get up at the unholy hour at which you dragged me, contest to be concluded by mid-afternoon. One can try and rustle up the ugliest fish too, though of course there’s subjectivity, the beholder’s eye – but you get my drift.”

“There should be other contests too. I don’t think everyone has a boat,” Thancerell says – which is borderline insightful for someone who, by Caspian’s estimations, has never wanted for anything material in his life – but in the name of being a little more decent today, he doesn’t point this out.

“Something for the long-term, maybe?” Caspian says. “I’ve always had a mind for smoked fish. People could – oh, I don’t know how it works, but it’s got to be done beforehand, I assume, and in some cases for weeks or months? On the day of the festival, there could be a contest for that as well, and people can bring in what they’ve made. For variety’s sake, I assume someone could put their own twist on things by – ah, I dunno, there must be fruits, herbs, spices – anything to toss in over time to give it a new, distinct taste other than lake muck.”

Though the lost hours – no, just hours, because he’s going to keep his petching attitude in check – only grow, Caspian finds himself easing, somehow, into the ready rhythm of their vessel upon the water. Perhaps the sun lulls him into docility, or he finally accepts the rather frightening observation that he’s too much at Thancerell’s mercy when it comes to returning to the docks – or maybe it’s because he really doesn’t mind this, might even look forward to this, that thing where they sometimes spend time alone – but he slides perpendicularly from his original position in the raft, head pillowed on a stack of tarps at the bow, with his legs cast with balmy ease over his companion’s lap.
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Industry in Appreciation

Postby Caspian on July 12th, 2020, 6:20 pm

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“That’s all well and good,” Caspian says after some time, basking in Thancerell’s delicate tracing of his ankles. Fishing, it seems, is momentarily forgotten for the both of them. “But where are the bells and whistles? I was promised them, as I recall, and in droves.”

“Well, if I promised -!” Distractedly, though not unwantedly, Thancerell’s hands have crept higher to his calves, then to his knees, pressing –

With an impish smirk, Caspian pointedly crosses his legs. “A parade. I want a parade.”

“Starting and ending where?”

“Everywhere and never. Let it run around the perimeter of the city, around all of docks, from sunup to sundown. People can come and go as they please, musicians and marchers alike – but someone’s always got to be there, leading the charge.”

Thancerell frowns, though his palms, as if with a mind of their own, have slunk down to Caspian’s hips. “That sounds like an awful lot of walking.”

“I like walking. And isn’t this all for me?”

“This is all for the fish and the off chance you might develop a little industrial interest.”

“It’s symbolic, alright? Water never stops flowing. Fish never stop swimming. The tides keep turning. And the march never ends.”

“There has to be music, then.”

“A real racket.”

“It would be weird if people were just walking and sort of – I don’t know, murmuring amongst themselves.”

“Thance, darling, I promise you I agree.”

“And what’s everyone wearing? You see, this is where the fish get-up idea comes into play.”

“But I want something grand.”

“You already came up with casual chainmail gowns.”

Grander. Let’s give the costumes volume, dramatic pantomime – imagine enormous ones. A fish’s head up front, made of papier-mache, or woven reed husks, even plate-sized hammered metal discs if they aren’t too heavy. From the head, there could be a long, flowing trail – of silk, or linen, anything light and rippling. So someone can be at the head, and the rest can follow, linked within the body. A sight worthy of a parade, don’t you think?

The line on Thancerell’s fishing rod suddenly grows taut. Abandoning his steady ascent up Caspian’s figure for, predictably, the veritable Hunt, he seizes the rod and begins rapidly reeling back. Visibly straining more than he had with the previous catches, after not an insignificant amount of effort, he heaves something long and whipping onto the raft.

Caspian rears back, pulling his knees up to his chest and hissing at the new offender. He’d rather not get any closer to it, because it’s sort of hissing back, but Thancerell’s got his hands knotted up in the line and is knocking all-elbows-and-knees into the oars, almost dislodging one to the depths of the lake, and if it were lost wouldn’t that be an utter catastrophe –

With exasperation and disgust barely concealed, Caspian takes his spiral dagger and stabs once, twice – but the damn thing, which he’s mostly sure is an eel is writhing far too violently for him to take easy aim.

“Oh, petch this – “ Caspian exclaims, grabbing one of the oars instead, and bats the eel by the skull. Though subdued, it continues to flop urgently at the bottom of the raft – and this time, with his dagger, Caspian strikes true. Wiping the blade off with one of the tarps, he throws Thancerell a look askance. “And you think these things are cause for celebration.”

“Absolutely. Especially when they’re broiled.”

Though victory had been theirs, there’s something portentous about their recent scrape – and Thancerell, in any case, has deemed their golden hours are at an end. He sets back for the docks, and the two of them head to Saticath’s, who wrinkles her nose and demands they shower while she readies the stove.

“…it just seems like a lot of noise and walking?” she comments later, the three of them crowded around her spindly kitchen table.

“That’s what I told him,” Thancerell says through a mouthful of pike stew, which had been determined as the most fitting format for the day’s haul, given the churning decimation the swirled blade had dealt each one. He swallows thickly, chases it with Saticath’s wine, and glances over at Caspin in a way that makes him –

He doesn’t know yet. He oscillates, some days, and sometimes more than once over the course of a single day – and maybe it’s because he’s not used to this, spending time with the same person, and repeatedly, without money, methods, or misconstruction factored into the equation.

They do it simply for the sake of doing so.

For a day of rampant ribbing and silly speculation, it had been a pretty good one.

Over the rim of his glass, Caspian considers his two friends with thoughtful regard. Saticath’s laughing now; Thancerell says something in response – but lost in his thoughts, he doesn’t hear it. Instinctively, he smiles – and when Thancerell beams back –

Though he can’t ever say for certain, he wants to believe that at least for this moment in time, this is precisely where he’s meant to be.
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