Closed In the Palm of Our Hands

At Kihala's shrine, two marked souls get to know each other (Tazrae)

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Adeliz on November 15th, 2020, 7:24 pm

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Fall the 71st, 520 AV


Adeliz’ only forays into making herself useful to the settlement hadn’t gone well so far. Any time she was left alone, which was often, she played that day over and over and over again in her mind. The long trek through the jungle that felt like it was pointless. Pointless until she had finally come across the girl in disbelief that a tourist could have survived the dangers that long. The long trek back, attempting to navigate the maze of the jungle, and Adeliz overdue but brilliant plan to fund their way back. The hope as they began to near the sea. And then, the attack. Adeliz had never been so scared in her life or in her death, but she had vanquished. Then, the homestretch. An exhausted soul limping an unfamiliar body that wasn’t hers along and the terror of the soul traveling alongside her. Terror building, mounting. Then numbness. So close and yet so far. Emerging on to the beach. Alone. All of it for what? For nothing, it seemed.

In order to distract herself from the memory, Adeliz had set her mind to something else. Today, that something else was a living woman, Tazrae if Adeliz recalled their brief introduction correctly. Things had seemed set against them ever meeting properly. On their first encounter, there had been the water woman. She hadn’t attacked Adeliz, but she had made it clear the ghost wasn’t welcome. Adeliz wished the sea would just take her back. Adeliz had met the living woman again, but it had ben at a large party and hadn’t been the time for getting to know her well. So thus far, all Adeliz had was a name and an occupation.

Tazrae the Innkeeper.

All it took was watching the woman for a week to tell there was so much more to her than that. As an innkeeper, she was responsible for the contentedness and well-being of s many, but while this would be a chore for many, Tazrae seemed to thrive on it. There was something to her, something Adeliz couldn’t quite put her finger on, something that she was too detached from life to recognize.

Warmth. The woman exuded it. Having been detached from her living body for nearly four seasons now, Adeliz felt nothing. Her existence was cold. It seemed to be the only thing she physically experienced, perhaps only because cold was the absence of warmth. For that reason, Adeliz found herself drawn to Tazrae. She was magnetic, beautiful, warm, and full of life.

Life. That was another thing Adeliz had noticed. Unlike herself, Tazrae had taken readily to being marked by Kihala. While Adeliz had retreated into herself and sought to rid herself of the mark, Tazrae had helped to maintain the shrine that had been built to honor the Goddess of Life. Several times since Adeliz had begun watching her, Tazrae had been at the Shrine, removing weeds from the flower beds and planting new ones as she saw fit. Today, Tazrae was there again.

Today, her work was proving a little more difficult, because someone else had tried to do the same thing a few days before. The other person had meant well. Their heart had been in the right place, but they hadn’t known what they were doing. They saw weeds and recognized them for what they were and had tried to pull them, to weed the garden so its planted flowers could thrive, but they didn’t know enough about the weeds. They had pulled at them but had only managed to pluck the tops, leaving the thick roots still present beneath the soil. Tazrae was trying to find these roots beneath the blanket of flowers.

It was slow going, so Adeliz thought she would try to help. This was a place where she could have uninterrupted conversation with the woman, and introducing herself by being a help couldn’t hurt. First, she watched Tazrae work, watched how the other woman found and identified the plants, watched how she worked around the root to pull it up. Once she was certain she knew what she was doing, Adeliz went to a different part of the flower bed and went to work.

When she found the evidence of a root (a thick, fibrous, green bit barely emerged from the soil), she took one hand and projected mist into the narrowest portion she could. Satisfied with it, she slid it down alongside the root, then pushed outward to shove the root in one direction and the earth in another. It took three to five of these projections to break each root free from the soul around it which meant an already slow process was ever slower for her. Still, time and time again, she drove her mist-projected hand into the soil and pressed apart, creating a wedge. When she had cleared a small patched, she collected the weed remnants together and brought them over, presenting them to Tazrae in a projected fist. As Adeliz held them out, she realized she was completely unmaterialized and that Tazrae would have no clue why the roots were hovering in front of her.

Materialization was not a smooth process for Adeliz. She rarely had any control of what body part showed up when unless she was really concentrating on it. The first thing that sparked into being was her outstretched left hand with Kihala’s mark on its wrist, then part of her midriff, then her face. Other parts continued to show up as she talked.

“Hello, Tazrae. I see you work and think I help. This is what I get so far. We meet with the pieces of statues, remember? Then again at party. We not talk much though.”

Gesturing at her mark, she pointed to Tazrae’s wrist where she had seen a matching one. “I see you have smudge, too.” Smudge was the closest word she could come up with to mark, and it had become her preferred curse word for it. “What is it?”
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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Tazrae on November 20th, 2020, 3:40 am

There was something to say about getting away from the Inn for a bit. It wasn’t that the Inn was stifling to Tazrae. It was just the opposite. The Protea Inn was her dream come true and she treated it thusly. But the problem was, when the Inn was full of clients, Taz spent a great deal of time cooking and cleaning and didn’t see its outside all that much. The Protea had various things to call her outside plus she had Bree and Creature to care for. And frankly, she was a woman who had learned since what she considered her near escape from Riverfall, that sun and sand even the jungle were necessary for her happiness. She just felt better outside. And she had several new projects to keep her busy.

Since she’d gotten bitten at Kihala’s Shrine, she had been working on a new project with Randal’s guidance, one she hadn’t discussed with anyone but her dog and Ixam. They knew because they were around her and saw her secret ways. They knew because they’d helped her construct a secondary shed on one side of the Protea to house the project. And though building the project had taken time, she’d managed it all alone thanks to her experience working on the Protea Inn itself, the dock, and then the chicken house.

Now she had a reptile shed. In it, she was keeping snakes. They weren’t just any snakes either. They were lovely Mussarana snakes… sleek black things that gleamed rainbow in the sun. The Massarana were a special sort of snake that while they would eat rodents and birds, they liked other snakes best of all as food sources. Randal had introduced them to her and together they’d discussed what it would take to breed the snakes and populate them in and around Syka heavily. The settlement had rodents a plenty to sustain a Mussarana population, and the added benefit of having the snakes around would mean they would prey on all the poisonous snakes that were so dangerous to the settlement. Tazrae had one big female that was heavy with eggs, a couple of smaller females, and a decent sized male she hoped to breed to the smaller females for more eggs. If the girl could get the snake to successfully lay the eggs, she planed on trying to hatch them out and protect the snakelings through their youth until they were big enough and strong enough to release into the Settlement.

Acceptance of the new residents to Syka would take education and explanation to the other denizens so they knew the Massurana were calm, only mildly venomous if they could be motivated to bite, and good for the Settlement. Tazrae wanted to make a lasting impact on the health of the Settlement. She figured the best way she could do that was by being a good Innkeeper, providing food when it was needed, and maybe adding the snakes to Syka to cut down on the pit vipers and rattlers that could actually hurt them. The Massurana would also eat constrictors, but they weren’t the snakes favorite food.

When her chores were done, the rooms cleaned, and all her guests fed with the dishes cleaned up… Tazrae had free time. She checked the snakes, threw a stick for Creature for twenty to thirty chimes, and then hopped on Bree’s back with her gardening tools in hand. She shouldered her survival pack as well and brought a waterskin with her.

“Going to the Shrine?” Bree asked, as the Ixam tossing her scaled neck as she flicked out her tongue and tasted Tazrae’s thigh where it gripped her back. She was a beautiful thing, as large as an average horse only reptilian and graceful in an emerald green with blue lining her back and belly. Her tongue was purple which tended to highlight some of the points where the blue and green striped together across her back and belly. Tazrae thought Bree was lovely, and the two females got along well even though they were two different races.

“Yes.. I should work the flower beds and do some trimming back. I think the weeds will be grown up too again. Everything grows here. Do you mind?” Taz asked, shifting on her back to scratch at her shoulder where the scales were a bit patchy and itched. Bree trilled and arched her neck in pleasure at the attention, shaking her head at the same time. “No, not at all… I like seeing the fish… and the beach is fine for sunning on.” She added, setting off at an ambling gait. Riding Bree wasn’t like riding a horse. Her action was somewhat sideways, twisty, rather than the rolling gait of an equine. Tazrae didn’t mind. The lizard had the ability to slip through the jungle far more easily than any two footed human or four-legged horse could. And it was her motion that made it so.

Since the shrine wasn’t far from The Protea Inn, it didn’t take the pair long to get to the clearing by the beach where the stone pool and carving of the Goddess’ head was. Creature had stayed at home to guard the Inn. He didn’t like following Bree because the Ixam moved much faster than Creature could. If Tazrae had gone on foot, the dog would have happily followed. But riding Bree gave her more time to work on the shrine itself, and allowed the Ixam to get out and stretch her legs as well.

Once they arrived, Taz slid off Bree and gave the lizard a quick hug. Bree nuzzled the Innkeeper and wasted no time trotting off to the beach and finding a nice place to roll in the sand and scratch her shedding scales. Tazrae watched with a smile, slipped off her pack, and laid the waterskin down with her pack before she began to unpack her gardening tools.

First things first, she slipped on leather gloves and then took a moment to frown at the half-hearted weeding that had taken place. Sprouts from the cut off roots were already growing up through the soil which told Tazrae all she needed to know that the weeds had been cut off at the ground level and the roots hadn’t been dug.

“Whomever did this at least tried….” She said charitably as she pulled out a digging tool and began to dig in the soil, exposing roots around the base of a cluster of jade plants she’d nestled in the soil no more than two weeks ago. They were doing well, but wouldn’t be if the weeds were allowed to grow. Most weeds turned into strangle vines and killed the ornamental flowers if they weren’t carefully tended.

“Wait… it looks like someone has been here already trying to fix this…” Tazrae said to no one in particular when she passed around the jade plants and ran into freshly tended soil where roots had been removed. “They did a good job too…” She said, admiring the work. Then she paled, all color draining from her face, as roots danced in the air, hovering as if by magic or an invisible fist. “What the….” The woman said, looking scared and unsure. She dropped her weeding tool and backpaddled almost tripping on the uneven ground around the shrine.

She looked frantically around, hoping someone wasn’t playing a trick on her. Tazrae had been the victim of more than one practical joke by her peers who discovered she wasn’t as worldly as they were having been raised and sheltered heavily in Riverfall. Luckily, the ghost – for that was what it was – materialized somewhat quickly, even if it was in parts, and happened to be someone Tazrae recognized.

“Uh… he… hello.” She managed to stammer, running her dirty fingers through her curled halo of hair around her face. The young woman shifted her feet uncomfortably, then reached out to take the weeds from the ghosts’ outstretched hand. “You did such a … good job too. But you scared me. Did you weed this the first time and are back for the roots or did you find it like this?” Tazrae asked without thinking…

“I remember…” Tazrae answered the dead woman’s question, starting to calm down. She took a deep breath, then another, studying the ghostly form in front of her. Then she glanced down at the mark on the ghost’s wrist, surprised that it showed up so well on her translucent form. “Smudge?” She looked curiously at the mark then nodded.

“The Goddess of Life, Kihala, gave that to you. It… links you to the statues.. the totems. With your mark… your smudge… you can awaken the animals and control them.” Tazrae said thoughtfully. She wasn’t sure how it worked frankly, since she’d never tested it. They hadn’t seemed like something someone should ‘play’ with. And there hadn’t been an emergency yet in which the Settlement needed defended. “I don’t know how it actually works. I’ve never tested it.” She said quietly, wondering now if that wasn’t something that should be tried.

“She trusted us… us five.. with the security of this place. I was… hoping you would show up so we could talk… maybe get to know each other better. If she trusted you… you are someone special.” Tazrae said thoughtfully, quietly studying the ghost.

“I don’t know many ghosts… or any for that matter. How long have you been… dead?” She asked thoughtfully, not sure about much. She’d never actually met Ines, so she didn’t know Adeliz looked like her sister or that she even had one. There was almost nothing she knew about the other woman.

“You know my name… but I don’t know what yours is. You might have introduced yourself… but I am poor with names.” She admitted, pushing a wayward curl out of her eyes and reaching down to pick up her gardening tool again. She absently brushed off the tool and waited for the girl to respond. The ghost had an animated face, with wide curious eyes that looked like they saw too much. And as she studied the ghost, she wondered absently how long the dead woman had been hanging around. So many times, in the past ten days, she’d felt eyes on herself, but had seen no one around.

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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Adeliz on November 26th, 2020, 5:49 pm

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“I find it like this, but I would make same trouble if I try without watch someone else first,” Adeliz admitted. “I not understand plants. I not good at that. My sister Ines good though. She is witch. We was witch when I was alive. She is Caiyha smudged.”

Adeliz liked watching Tazrae. It reminded her of watching Ines. Both were so full of life, though in very different ways. Ines’ had come as a vibrant curiosity, one that pushed her to discover more. That curiosity, that sense of discovery, often meant Ines was purring herself into danger, and Adeliz hoped Tazrae’s form of life didn’t likewise endanger her. Hers, Tazrae’s, was accomplishment. She was driven to create, drive to achieve. Everything since Adeliz had met the woman spoke to that. For Caiyha’s sake, Tazrae had been putting the totems back together the day Adeliz first met her. In the short time Tazrae had been in Syka, three had been so much built, so much done. The inn. The new reptile shed. The coup. The shrine. The totems. What had Adeliz done with her time here? What did she have to show for it? A Hai of a lot less, that was sure. Close to nothing if she was being honest. She had kept Ines from dying a few times, maybe all the time, but it was hard to be the voice of reason when that’s all one was. A voice.

Intently, Adeliz listened to Tazrae’s explanation of the smudge. Kihala had given it to her. That much, Adeliz knew. She had felt the Goddess’ eyes on her and hated Her for it, but the bit about the guardians was new. Adeliz had felt them when the mark appeared on her, felt them reach out to touch her mind and her soul. Now, with Tazrae’s words, it made sense. Kihala had given her a way to use those guardians. Still bitter, Adeliz couldn’t help but feel Kihala was using them, but if the Goddess ‘gift’ could help her defend Syka better, it meant Ines was safer.

Awaken. Control. Adeliz wondered how. Tazrae admitted even she had yet to try it, to test it, and though Adeliz was hesitant to accept a gift from a Goddess who had done nothing for her so far, she was itching to try it for herself. Kihala may have expected reciprocation, but Adeliz was not yet ready to give anything back. She’d be damned though if she didn’t at least know how to use the tools given to her. Maybe today, she and Tazrae could find out. Maybe…

Before she could voice the thought though, the living woman’s curiosity turned to Adeliz.

“You want to know me better?” There was a long pause after that, perhaps too long. Adeliz was not used to people showing interest in her, not unless they had known her as part of Ines when the two were living together as one. Most people treated her the same way they would treat any ghost, with a healthy distrust if not outright disdain. She considered Tazrae for a moment more. “I, I am not special.”

She believed that with all of her heart. She knew it. She tried to explain as much. “I am dead for almost four seasons now, but I live for only one.” This was something most people couldn’t wrap their heads around, and the ghost tried to make sense of it for Tazrae. “My sister Ines, she is Kelvic, but the fall before this one, Syka broke. People all change. Human become Zith. Konti become Svefra. Snake people become Myrians. Myrians become snake people.” Her smile beamed at a thought. “James become ape man.” She held up her transparent hands and wiggled her finger. “All clumsy with big, new fingers. And Randal and Mathias-”

Adeliz realized she was getting distracted and shook her head to rid it of unnecessary thoughts. “But Ines, she become Akalak. Akalak has two souls, but Ines is only one. There was hole in her for just tiniest time.” She held up her finger and thumb a hair’s breadth apart, indicating that brief moment in time. “Then, there was me.” She smiled a big proud smile at that. “Me. Adeliz.”

“Me and Ines were sisters. Soul sisters. I am just her other half. Not special. I am nothing without her. I am just pieces and parts of her. Another piece, another part of Syka. I not matter without her, without the city. It is a nice thought though. It was nice to be part of her. It was good. It was the best thing that ever happen to me. Until it wasn’t.

“At the beginning of the next season, Syka fix itself. Myrians and snake people go back to hating each other. Zith go away. James lose his big fingers. And Ines? She fix, too. She become Kelvic again. And for tiniest time, I feel what is like to be her, her as she meant to be. But Kelvic only have room for one soul. Ines here first. That was her body, and I had to let go. But I was part of her. I not leave, because I have to keep her safe.”

It was odd to tell all of this to a stranger, but it had happened, and Tazrae’s sense of life made Adeliz feel it was safe to share. Besides, the truth was the truth. It didn’t matter whether or not it was shared with a friend or a stranger.

Still, Adeliz’ frayed sense of self, her view of herself as worthless unless she was part of a greater whole, forced her to push the conversation away from herself. “Then, you show up season after that. And make inn. Then shrine. Then inn for chickens. Then inn for snakes. Why so many inns? Were there this many inns where you come from?” She realized she knew nothing of Tazrae before her existence here. “Where do you come from?”

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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Tazrae on November 27th, 2020, 4:07 am

Tazrae watched what was in essence a ghost admit that she was not skilled in gardening. The young Innkeeper couldn’t help but smile. “Adeliz… I don’t think any of us are good at anything before we actually try it and practice. I didn’t just instantly become good with plants because I decided I wanted to garden. I’ve only tended plants a bit and that’s how I started to get to know them. I came from Riverfall and we had a small garden in our courtyard, mostly in containers. That garden was my only way to be creative, reach out to do something constructive… it was one of the only hobbies I had. I tend this one out of thanks to Kihala and the gift of the Totems she’s given us. I don’t know of any other cities that have statues that will come alive and guard them… so growing some beautiful flowers is the least we can do to say thanks daily. I will teach you what I know if you’d like. I don’t know much though… not formally. I just pull out the things that aren’t flowers, loosen the soil up, feed the flowers with scraps and waste from my kitchen, and make sure they have water when it gets dry.” Taz explained, thinking the job simple enough.

“Oh, and then when the flowers bloom, I tend to cut the dead blooms off when they’ve ran their course and make sure the display here is always pretty.” The woman said thoughtfully watching Adeliz. Talking to a ghost was somewhat unreal to her, though it was no more crazy than say watching the totem guardians come to life or exploring the underwater reefs with Marino. There was a lot of ‘new’ in Syka for Tazrae and most of it was seemingly unreal. She kept snakes now, for The Gods’ sake…. Snakes. Something she’d been afraid of all her life. She hardly knew if Adeliz could understand that.

“I met Ines briefly. I liked her. She seemed rather nice, though a bit shy. I’m not sure who Caiyha is though. Smudged? You mean marked as if by a God? I am too… though by Rhaus. He’s the God of Music. I met him once… on the trip over from Riverfall. He said I needed to learn to listen to others to be a better person in the future. I understand what he meant then, more now than ever. Before I had so few people to talk too that listening was never a problem or even something I had to do.” She added, thinking out loud.

Adeliz was friendly, talkative, and she made bright conversation even if her Common wasn’t perfect. Taz could follow her words easily and she found herself enjoying the ghostly companionship. They spoke of Kihala then, and the happenings the day after the storm. Adeliz had been present to hunt the pieces and had witnessed the animals come to life. Taz felt companionship with her just for that fact. There was not a whole lot of people that could understand the events that the pair of them had lived through along with the other Totem Guardians. The young woman didn’t know why Kihala picked the five guardians over others who were also there to witness the events. But she had.

Maybe Adeliz had some insight. But before Taz could actually ask her, she wanted to get to know the spirit better. Even that… getting to know a ghost… sounded crazy. The whole world here was crazy. But the truth was, Taz loved this kind of crazy. She loved every single new experience, and Adeliz was definitely a new and thrilling experience.

“Sure… I’ve never met a ghost… never met someone that isn’t flesh and bone like me. Of course, I’d like to get to know you. I know some of the other Totem Guardians… Marino especially. I know him a bit as a friend. The other two, not so well… but I want to get to know them. I think it would be good if we could all be friends and get to know each other.” She said thoughtfully.

When Adeliz said she was not special, it somehow broke Taz’s heart. But she covered it well and stared at the ghostly other thoughtfully. “No… that’s not right, Adeliz. You ARE special. You were marked… smudged. Of course you are special.” She said softly. “But if you don’t know it, that’s okay. Its more fun in the long run to learn about ourselves, don’t you think, than just be told something is true?” She said thoughtfully.

“A long time ago I was told I was only good for growing up and providing children to a husband. I wasn’t told I could run an Inn, or that I could become a good cook or an exceptional hostess. I was told my value was not in who I was but in what I could provide. It was all shit… monkey shit. I can do so much more than I was told I could. I can be in the woods. I can make friends with lizards and keep snakes as pets. I can travel across an ocean and start a business. The only thing that was getting in my way was me… and the words of others. I had to try things in order to decide I couldn’t do them… and so far I haven’t failed at much I’ve tried yet. And why not? Because I worked hard, asked questions, kept my mind open, and did all I could do to learn.” Tazrae explained, then went on to talk about Adeliz.

“Why can’t that be you too? You don’t know you can’t do something until you try it and fail. And if you fail, so what? At least you TRIED. You can’t know you aren’t special until you give your chance to do and see things… to live.” Tazrae said thoughtfully. She wanted to reach out a hand and touch Adeliz, but the creature before her didn’t seem to have much form or substance.

Adeliz went on to tell Taz how long she’d been dead. She didn’t understand all that the spirit stated, but something happened in Syka in the last Fall… perhaps it was something she could ask Mathias or Randal for clarification. People broke? Changed races? Tazrae listened, but it was more than supernatural… it was beyond fantastical. Adeliz was telling Taz that even the founders changed… and Ines became an Akalak? A female Akalak? More of this would have made sense if Tazrae had known about the Akalaks and their twin souls. But she’d been sheltered in Riverfall and while there had been odd events where some Akalak had introduced themselves as names Taz didn’t know them by, many of that had passed. She simply didn’t understand what Adeliz was saying. It wasn’t until she came to Syka and met Jansen that she understood two people could live in one body. And she suspected this is what Adeliz said. And even though Tazrae had questions… about how a female could be come Akalak, and how in joining twin souls could unjoin and make one a ghost… she asked none of them. She listened.

Whatever happened had undone itself. That much, Tazrae did understand. And her heart bled as she listened further, understood all Adeliz had gained then given up for the love of a sister. She couldn’t imagine someone being that strong to realize she had to let go. A season… ninty one days of life and then… this as a life. Tazrae could not imagine what Adeliz had gone through. It was so much, too much, and all over again her heart bled for the other woman. It was no wonder that Kihala had picked Adeliz to be a guardian. She was already one… a guardian of her sister.

Taz started to speak, but didn’t know how to form words of everything she was feeling. There was no way to describe a life brought magically forth then snuffed out after just a brief season. Somehow, Adeliz continued onward… but adrift without a body and a spirit without any … Taz didn’t know what to think. It was a lot to take in.

“How in the world can you think you aren’t special after that life?” Taz said softly. “You gave up everything for your sister. And you are still here… with her? Does she know how lucky she is to have you?” She said softly, shaking her head… amazed.

“Its like you understand love. You do, don’t you?” Tazrae said softly.

Then she was quiet until Adeliz went on. “I like making places that people and creatures can feel warm and comfortable in. I like taking care of things. Why wouldn’t I make a place for snakes and chickens and a…. shri…. Wait… how did you know all that?” Taz asked, knowing that was strange. Did Spirits just know things or had Adeliz been watching her a while?

“I come from Riverfall. My parents were Innkeepers there, but my father died suddenly and my mother fell into debt so we lost the Inn. When I was old enough, I came here with Captain Jame’s help… on The Veronica. He helped me set it up so I could borrow money and start an Inn here so strangers had a place to go.” She said simply. “Would you like to see them? The Protea, I mean? And the place for chickens and snakes? You are welcome there any time… so long as you don’t scare anyone. Ghosts are supposed to be scary I think… or at least they are in every ghost story I’ve heard. How come you aren’t scary? You just seem nice, and maybe a little lonely. I would bake for you. I love baking for everyone, but I have no idea if ghosts even eat.” She said thoughtfully, then laughed a little.

“This is crazy. I never thought I’d be out in a tropical jungle next to a stone fountain depicting a woman with flowers for hair… speaking to a ghost.” She said looking thoughtful.

“So what are you going to do with your life? Protect Ines? Or do you have bigger dreams? I think everyone should have dreams… goals they want to achieve… dead or alive.” Taz professed, then started to rise. She dusted off her rump then beckoned to Adeliz.

“Well, come on… I’ll show you my home.” She added, not knowing why she felt compelled to bring Adeliz home. Adeliz seemed a little lost though, and truth be told Tazrae loved gathering up the lost and taking care of them. Adeliz, it seemed, was no different.

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A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Adeliz on December 10th, 2020, 5:07 am

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“I would like to learn whatever you teach me. Even a little more Common would be nice, but we can just keep practice that as we talk.” She frowned in dismay at her stumbling words and tried to keep up with what Tazrae told her. She took in all the bits that Tazrae mentioned, though she couldn’t keep it all straight in her head. Every bit of it was new to her. Her only interactions with plant life had been while she and Ines had been one person. Their mark had guided them then, and mostly what they had done was let things be. That was the way the wild worked. Each thing had its place and grew as it should, and the weak were weeded out. Gardening was something entirely different, and Adeliz was sure it was something she’d never get the hang of.

“I met Ines briefly. I liked her.”

Adeliz beamed her biggest smile at that. “Ines is the best. She’s the brave one of us both. She took us so many places when we were both alive. There is so much I would have never seen without her.”

“Rhaus.” The ghost tumbled the name around in her mouth several times. “Rhaus. He’d be ashamed I’m alive. Well, not alive alive. We will just say that he would not like my singing. Ines smiled whenever I tried, but I think she just liked hearing me. It meant I was still around. She was nice enough to never make fun of me while I sang.”

“You don’t know Caiyha? She is the Goddess of all of this.” Adeliz gestured at the jungle and the greenery and all the things around them. As with most people, she was convinced her god was the greatest, if not the only god that mattered, but she realized she was gesturing to a shrine for the Goddess of Life and that life was all around them as much as nature was. “She is the Goddess of the jungle but not just the jungle. All the wilderness.” She was trying come up with the word. “Nature.”

Adeliz smiled as Tazrae spoke of the other guardians, of how she was friends with one, but it was a broken, worried smile. Timid as she was, she had not been brave enough to continue her meeting with Marino beyond introducing herself. She wasn’t sure the man wanted to know her, never mind even being her friend. She had been too frightened, and she had walked away. That nagging voice in the back of her head, the one that was all her and no one else, told her he wouldn’t. It told her she was worthless alone and worth even less as a part of everyone else. Worse than what she told herself was that she believed it.

But somehow, Tazrae was telling her the opposite, and she believed that, too. And that was something Adeliz wanted to believe.

“You are special.” Tazrae’s voice was gentle, not demanding that Adeliz come to this belief in the matter of moments but inviting her to explore the possibility. “But if you don’t know it, that’s okay.”

The innkeeper went on to talk of where she had grown up, how she had been told that her only value was in the children she could bear. Adeliz couldn’t imagine being told that. No one in Syka had dared to even suggest it. The only one who ever said Adeliz couldn’t do anything was herself, and Tazrae seemed to know as much or at least understood the sentiment. It was one she had faced. And overcome. There was power in a woman who could face such adversity and overcome it.

“How in the world can you think you aren’t special after that life?”

Something about Tazrae said she would be surprised by how easily such thoughts came to Adeliz. They were second nature to her, the most powerful drives she had, the drives that told her to sit back and do nothing. You are not special. You are weak. You are nothing. Ines is better on her own, better without you. If only you had never entered her life. You will never be enough.

Adeliz was long practiced with these thoughts. She believed them, but she had spent most of her existence with them. Every time they spoke, nothing changed. If anything, the monotony of the mantra made it lose a little power with every repetition.

“I am the lucky one.” And for her, that was just one of many truths. “She accepted me as part of her. Though our beginnings may have been awkward, we learned to love each other, and that is a love that is more powerful than most. We worked for it. It was not just handed to us. She chose to love me, so of course, I know what love is. I think every person does. Some just understand it in ways the rest of us can’t. Everyone understands it. Some just don’t know how to show it.”

When Tazrae spoke of enjoying making others comfortable and warm, Adeliz suddenly began to understand how important the woman was to Syka. Comfort. Warmth. What Tazrae spoke of was safety but not just any safety. It was the safety and security that came with familiarity. It was a sense of home. The environment Tazrae strove to provide was one of belonging. If it felt like home, it meant one was supposed to be there. Secretly, silently, Adeliz wondered if Tazrae had the power to make a ghost like her feel at home.

Adeliz began to follow Tazrae as the innkeeper began to lead the way to her establishment, her home.

“There is no bigger dream, no greater purpose, than to protect my sister, but… but she will not always be around.” There it was, the crux of the problem. Ines was living, and the living never lasted. “Ines is alive, but one day, she will not be. What do I do if I don’t know how to let go when she’s gone. She is my identity. I don’t want to be nothing when she’s gone. I have to find out what being me means. I have to discover who I am. Me. Adeliz. No one else.”

“But that is not the journey of a single day.” She smiled as she drifted lazily next to Tazrae. “In the meantime, I would live to see your home, because it is a part of my home. It is a part of the place I am a part of. Or at least that I’m trying to be a part of. Home. You seem to be made to make people feel at home. Is that why you made this inn? Is this your dream? Or is it just one step along the way?”

“I agree. We all need something beyond ourselves, something to push us farther than where we are. Dreams are good, but so is purpose. I thought I knew mine, to keep Ines safe, but I’m beginning to see it differently now. I’m beginning to see that it’s a changing thing. It wasn’t just that I wanted to keep Ines safe. I wanted to keep my home safe. She was and is and always will be the biggest part of that. By the side of her soul is where I feel most at home, but I’m beginning to think there may be other place and other people that feel like home, too. I may have broken the love between us, but I will not stop trying. I should n ‘t stop trying to keep to the rest of my home safe, too.”

She pointed up the beach in the direction they were headed. “This way leads to another part of home. The Sawmill. You know that’s where I first woke up in Ines’ and my body? I often pass by your home on the way to and from mine. I’m sorry for watching you,” she admitted. “When you’re dead, you have a lot more time than most and people watching fills it. You’re one of the more captivating people I’ve found.”
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Adeliz
Forgotten sister
 
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In the Palm of Our Hands

Postby Tazrae on December 24th, 2020, 4:06 pm

Tazrae smiled at the spirit. She switched languages, back to one of her youth that she used little here. “I can speak Tukant as well, if that helps… though I don’t like the language.” It was only conversationally, and heavily accented, but she could speak the language. She liked nothing about Riverfall though. Her memories there were all bad. Switching back to common, Tazrae continued as she walked – leading Adeliz towards The Protea. Switching tongues again, this time back to Common, Tazrae continued. “I… I don’t much care for the Akalaks. It is their native tongue, that Tukant. It’s the only other thing I know. But I’d be glad to talk to you in Common as much as you want. My mother married one. I lived with them. It was… not ideal. It made me miss my father all the more. When he died, our whole lives changed.” She added, glancing at Adeliz.

“You remind me of a song…. “ Tazrae said softly, glancing over at Ade. She sang the first verse softly, almost shyly:

“She’s a falling star…
Burning in the night.
She’s the shimmer
on the water…
in a river of moonlight.”

Taz held the last note and let the sung note play out. She loved singing and sang every chance she had. Usually, she was shy with new people, unwilling to make music. But Adeliz made her comfortable in a way she couldn’t quite put a finger on. “Ines looks like you, but you are very different, aren’t you?” She asked, curious.

“Rhaus would love it if you made music, even discordant music, Adeliz. He wouldn’t be ashamed. Music isn’t about good or bad. It’s about so much more. Do you know everything has a rhythm? Our heartbeats when we live, our breath, even our footsteps. I’m sure even those beyond life like yourself have a rhythm, I just don’t know you well enough to point it out. And those that sing, do… those that can’t… can always play something. I have a mandolin I love playing… but I’m learning a flute and a few other things as well. Before I was an Innkeeper I thought perhaps it would be fun to be a bard.” She said, knowing truthfully that’s what she was now with Rhaus’ mark. Only it wasn’t a bard in the traditional way, roaming, singing for her meals and a warm bed at night. She was a bard of another sort… a kind hard to explain.

“I don’t know Caiyha… but Captain James brought me a book on religions. I plan on reading it sometime… learning all the gods. Maybe we can read it together. It might help your Common and we could learn more Gods together. There’s so many of them I don’t know… so much my mother sheltered me from. But I want to know…. I want to know Caiyha and so many many more.” Her eyes followed Adeliz’s gesture.

“It would be something to do at least. You know, these tropical days and nights are long.” Taz said, heading down the cobbled pathway, Adeliz in tow. They passed several noted landmarks in Syka, but the young Innkeeper didn’t linger or say anything about them. Instead, she wanted Adeliz to see her home so she knew she had somewhere she could go at any time.

Taz wasn’t a gifted reader of expression and had no idea what Adeliz was thinking. Ghosts were strange to her, but no stranger than other things she’d experienced so she was taking the whole thing in stride. Syka held a bunch of firsts for her, this episode was no different. Only, this time, Taz was determined to get a friend out of the situation. She needed more of them.

“I knew Ines is special. I don’t know many people who would just think… ‘oh… my own ghost’ and accept it.” Taz laughed at Adeliz’s description of their beginnings together being awkward. She could only imagine how big of an understatement that was for the spirit. As Adeliz spoke of love, Taz nodded, growing uncomfortable but not because of what the ghost had described. She was truly happy for Adeliz and knew it.

“Love is powerful… and you are right. You are lucky and special. Ines sees that, I suspect. I think love is always a lot of work. If it gets hard, sometimes love doesn’t survive. You have to choose to love others. I think that’s absolutely true. For someone newly created…. Or I suspect newly created… you sure know a lot about living things. And I cannot tell you what a comfort it is to know that love reaches beyond the living. My father is dead.” Tazrae said abruptly, not to change the subject, but to add to it. “And it would be terrible to me to know that a spirit couldn’t understand love for he is about the only person in this world that has been there for me, that I love… still love… even after his passing. I’m glad to know he could know that. It’s a big comfort, for I still miss him every day of my life.” She said thoughtfully, offering a smile to Adeliz.

They turned off the path abruptly to a group of structures that rested on a bluff just above the beach. It was an L shaped structure with the shorter part of the L pointed north and the whole of the outside of the L facing the sea. Flowers grew abundantly around the place as Taz lead Adeliz up a wide welcoming porch in the crook of the L. Pathways lead off either side.. one to stand of bamboo freshly planted that would soon conceal an outdoor shower that looked newly constructed.

The other branched off that path to a thick patch of undergrowth that shadowed what looked like a series of cages built with access to both sunlight and shade. “That’s a reptile garden… I keep snakes there.. snakes that I’m breeding to populate Syka with that are neither poisonous or aggressive… but they are beautiful in the sun and beautiful in that they hunt down and feed on all the poisonous snakes that can kill our residents.” Tazrae stated, then gestured to the shower… unsure if a ghost would be interested in such things.

“Outdoor Shower…. I had help building it. Duncan and Lars helped set it up. The first is the man that built the bathing pools we use here… the other has the sawmill and works the Ashta that drove the pilings that hold up the platform that saves all the rainwater in that barrel to feed the shower.” She added, then slipped through the front door. The Inn wasn’t large… not by say Riverfall standards. It had two rooms on the small part of the L and four on the larger part of the L. In between was an expansive kitchen and commons area. Decks faced the sea on the eastern side of the structure.

A large gangly dog - a half grown Imperial Watcher – made up of white and black spots came to greet them. He was happily approaching when he suddenly flattened his ears and growled, spotting Adeliz. His growl was his frightened one, not his protective one, so Taz stepped forward and took a knee. “Creature… easy… its Adeliz. She is my friend.” The Innkeeper said, keeping her voice calm and her hands outstretched to the dog. The gangly thing bumbled forward, butted its head in her hands, and wagged its tail though it kept one eye suspiciously on Adeliz as if it didn’t quite believe Tazrae.

Taz rose, beckoned Adeliz out onto the deck, and pointed off the side of it. “The other permanent resident here is Bree.” An enormous lizard made of blue and green shading lay stretched in the sun. She was almost the size of a horse and was decidedly baking. Bree cracked an eye open, flicked out her tongue, yawned, and dropped her eyelid back into place. “She’s an Ixam… a jungle one. Her kind are highly intelligent and she talks so don’t let her scare you. The sun makes them drunk though… when they stretch out and take advantage of it.” She added, pulling out a chair in the shade of the deck and then moving to pull out a second one for Adeliz.

“Do you eat or drink anything? I’ll feed you while you are here.” She added, settling into a chair. She’d fetch herself something to drink when Adeliz let her know if that was something she could do or not… then they could actually talk.

“What’s it like? Being a spirit?” Taz asked, not being able to help herself. “You don’t need to sleep do you? You can just go anywhere, do anything, without those kinds of needs right?” She asked curiously.

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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
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