Closed Dirge

Autumn Rose

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Herein lies Xyna's Outpost, and her gift to Mizahar's people. It is a magical place full of potential and possibility where all can gather and exchange ideas and commerce.

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Postby Yomila on November 15th, 2020, 1:17 am

51st of Fall 520 AV
The day's heat clung to the city just as the sun still clung to the sky. Sunset was still bells off but Syna was hovering near the horizon, casting long shadows in Her wake. Light and dark striped the walkways that led to the five garden areas. Candles, lanterns and magecrafted light fixtures were in stages of being lit to keep the shadows at bay. It was a time where most were beginning to wind down their days, seeking company with friends and loved ones, seeking respite from work, responsibilities and the lingering heat. It was the time for refreshment. For reunion.

For everyone but the Ethaefal.

Yomila's presence in the Outpost was for none of these reasons. She was here for beauty.

The various garden areas of the Outpost were becoming the Ethaefal's favorite places to visit. They were each fragrant, meticulously cared for and unique in their intent and curation and Yomila was enamored. She likened them to works of art and the groundskeepers and creators to artists; the same passion and pride were poured into these individual projects and the Ethaefal was happy to admire them for bells on end. They were living works of art. Beautiful. Bountiful. Worthy of her time and attention.

Usually she would visit during Leth's reign when she wore her own celestial beauty, but occasionally she had found time during the daylight bells to visit. It is a pity, she thought ruefully as she moved purposefully through the walkways that led her to her destination, that this form is so ugly in comparison.

It was the smell that drew her in before anything else. The air was perfumed by a innumerous sweetly scented flowers; it was light and playful and fragrant as a summer's day. It coaxed her, called to her, leading her in to the park beyond.

It was a vision.

Vibrant, exotic flowering plants drew the eye, standing out despite the bright and busy tile that dominated the area. A fountain dominated the center of the park, bubbling lazily, yet it failed to attract the same attention as the many vivid flowers within the park's walls. Verdant green of multiple shades further broke up the tile and bright florals and winged insects danced and floated about the fragrant, light dappled air.

The Ethaefal had yet to feel anything like the glory, beauty and joy of Leth's realm since her fall. It was too difficult to articulate what that feeling was and to find a worldly comparison. Venkra park, however, was the closest she had found to anything like it.

It was a place that was equally alive and serene.

The Ethaefal bathed in its beauty.

Usually inherently possessive of such places and feelings, she was surprized when a stray thought struck her: It would be nice to meet Tyri here. She let it sit awkwardly within her mind for a moment, studying it, pondering it, taking its measure. Unable to decide how comfortable it made her, she pushed it away. The Ethaefal breathed in the thick, fragrant air of the garden and drew herself back into the present.

She sat upon the main bench that doubled as the thick ledge of the central fountain and brushed her long braids back behind her ears while she shut her eyes, allowing herself a few ticks to savor the ambiance as doves cooed softly from the garden walls. A butterfly alit on her knee, so soft it didn't register; the Ethaefal only noticed it once she sensed someone walk past. Her attention turned to the person - a multi-armed woman who paused for a moment to bend near a bunch of flowers, inspecting them, and then heading back towards a building built into a far wall. The butterfly caught her black gaze afterwards.

It was an impossible shade of blue. Yomila realized, with a start, that she had seen ones like it before. The woman on the road. Kihala. The Ethaefal had been too wrapped up in her emotions and the sight of the red-headed woman - no, Goddess - that she had barely noticed the butterflies that floated in the air around Her. The lush green that grew at Her feet. Her black eyes turned and swept over the garden and felt a sudden surge of rightness. Of familiarity.

This garden felt like the Goddess.

Her realization was interrupted as a white and orange cat trotted towards her, eyes on the butterfly. The Ethaefal's look was dangerous but the cat ignored her. It sat, unaffected, at her feet and then slowly stretched up to reach a soft paw to her knee.

The Ethaefal shook her leg, sending both the cat and butterfly away. She frowned.

The cat brushed against the edge of the fountain, glanced up, and then hopped up next to her.

She scowled.

It ignored her, turned and settled on its side.

Then, without notice, it shot up to a sit, eyes big and set on a nearby corner of the garden, entire muscular body tense and still.

The Ethaefal's face screwed up at this sudden change in behavior. She had just looked around the garden so she couldn't figure out what had caught the cat's attention. She studied the creature curiously and then followed its gaze to what it saw. The icy tendrils of fear gripped her, sending the hair on her neck and arms on end and she froze just as the cat did.

It wasn't real. It was unnatural. She had no word to truly describe what it was just that it was a shade of a thing. Translucent. Wrong.
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Postby Autumn Rose on November 21st, 2020, 8:22 pm

Sometimes, things so miraculous exist that one could hardly believe it, so much so that they refused to believe it was true. Such was the case with Autumn and the Outpost. She hadn’t revisited it since her first time there when nostalgia had dragged her back over a decade and dumped an old student in front of her. It had done her old soul good to see Baelin again. He was different than when she had last known him. The world had placed a heavier burden on his shoulders than when he was a child, but he was still here. He was still living. And for Autumn, for then, that had been enough. Noah had been there too, her favorite sailor.

She had lied to herself once she was back home at the Lantern and told herself she had imagined it all. It was too good to be true. That generally meant it wasn’t. So she wasn’t sure what possessed her to try again. Following the sound of cooing, she found the dovecote where she had left it last time and told herself not to get her hopes up as she entered to odd looks from the pigeons and closed the door behind her. Then, after a few ticks and after the stares made her uncomfortable, Autumn opened the door.

The first thing most would have noticed was the heat, but Autumn didn’t feel such things. What she noticed first was that the scene she opened the door to was not the one she had closed it on. It wasn’t the mountaintop city she now called home, but it was a place she was familiar with. It was the one she had stepped into the day she had reencountered Noah and Baelin.

It was real.

Now that she was here, she wasn’t sure what to do. Part of her had told her she wouldn’t make it this far. There had been far less exploring last time than she would have liked, because the familiar faces had sown up quickly. She had pretty much seen the dovecote, the bazaar, and the shrine. Once she had found Baelin, the wonder of the Outpost faded and paled next to the wonderful intricacies that were a soul, a living, breathing soul, but now, her only intention was to explore.

For seemingly being enclosed by walls on all sides, the Outpost was larger than one expected. At every turn, it just seemed larger than before, like every discovery just meant there was more to explore the way the answer to some questions just made more questions, but the more Autumn had to explore, the more time she could waste, and she had more than enough of it. She’d already had more than enough, but eternity seemed to want her here. That meant she would be wasting a whole lot more of it.

Fate or whatever other force guided her seemed set on immersing her in life, and it did this through the gardens. The Outpost was strewn with them, and the route Autumn wandered made it seem difficult not to run into a new one long each path. The first of these she encountered was not so much a garden but a pathway overhung with a garden. Just off the central bazaar, Autumn could tell as she followed it that it was meant to be an easy way around the busy marketplace for those not looking to do any shopping. In some places, the plants had grown long and, though they were well-tended, had formed a tunnel of greenery that bathed anybody within in an emerald light. Scattered sunlight danced dappled on the ground as it made its way through the plants that fluttered in a breeze that would have been warm if Autumn could feel it.

In awe of the workmanship and upkeep such a walkway required, Autumn strolled down it, her materialized skirt swishing soundlessly around her ankles. Perhaps it was her way of trying to make the living more comfortable. Perhaps she was just vain. Whatever it was, Autumn had always done her best to imitate life in its fullest. If her intention was the former, though, she was failing. Several people, some individuals and some couples, steered their leisurely walk out into the market to avoid the obviously dead woman that had invaded their serene midday stroll.

Next came a small garden, a little sunken courtyard with pools and a fountain at its center, the gentle bubble and splash of water muting the sounds of the market. As she neared the pools and fountains at its center, she realized they were ponds to house large, beautiful fish, the likes of which she had never seen before. Curious, in the detached way only fish could exhibit, they swam to the surface at the edge of the pond where she approached, moved only by light and shadow. Thinking it rude not to respond to their curiosity, Autumn dipped her materialized hand beneath the water. Most living creatures did not relish the touch of a soul, but the koi before her were largely indifferent.

And that was where Autumn lost most of the day, watching the fish watch her. It wasn’t until the light began to change around her that Autumn realized exactly how much time she had lost, and she had wanted to see more. She left the fish who realized they too had forgotten about time and began to swim about in search of food.

And soon, she found herself in another garden, this one filled with a different sort of life. Moths and butterflies were all about, and she drifted over to one that had found purchase on a flower. It was blue and brilliant, especially against the white flower it had found.

Moving her face up close to it, Autumn ushered as much mist to her eyes as she could, materializing them in all of their bright blue, daring the butterfly to be as blue as them. It didn’t care, and done with whatever it wanted from the flower, it fluttered away in the lazy way of its kind. She watched it, wondering what it would feel like to be watched, only to have the feeling suddenly surge through her.

She was being watched.

Autumn froze, searching out with errant strands of her mist until she could feel where the most life lay. Snapping her head in that direction, she found two beings watching her, one a cat in aggressive fear and the other a human aghast. Autumn blinked, her form seeming to drop out of existence as it leapt unseen through the space between spaces until she materialized back into being behind them. To them, she had just disappeared.

“You know, cat, it’s not nice to stare.”

Spinning, the cat swatted at the empty air several times before standing its ground to hiss at the ghost beyond its reach.

Still its delightful blue, Autumn’s gaze shifted to the woman when she turned toward her. A comforting smile, one Autumn usually reserved for children, slipped over her materialized face, and she stepped back to give the living woman distance and show she meant no harm. “I’m sorry, child. I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just alarming to realize someone is watching you.”

Shifting her materialization, Autumn approximated the distance to the ground and took a seat there. Anyone looking closely could see that they could easily slide a hand beneath Autumn, that she hovered over rather than rested on the ground. Anyone who knew a ghost’s abilities would know that a seated position didn’t put it at a disadvantage, but she hoped the woman would see the gesture as the olive branch Autumn meant it to be.

“I’m not angry. I was just surprised. I’m sorry if I startled you.” Her smile brightened even more. “I’m Autumn.”

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Autumn Rose
Even weightless, I'm a burden.
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