Solo Cold to the Bone II

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on November 22nd, 2020, 6:30 pm

Continued from here

"Tell me the truth."

Dressed plainly, the borrowed clothes too big for her body, Rohka sat upright in her bed staring straight into the eyes of her Captain. From her neck hung a simple cord, with a bloodstone gem attached the the end. Rohka fidgeted with it, the stone bringing her a comfort that she failed to recognize.

She knew, at least, that there was an explanation for all of this. The sooner she could understand it, the faster she could get out of here.

"Mark, I need you to tell me what's been going on. I feel like I've been circling and dancing with thoughts and fears in my mind about things that I can't even describe in full, and you're the only one who can actually tell me anything anymore." She wondered, immediately, whether her trust was being placed in the right person, but she pushed the thought out almost as fast as it arrived.

He gave her back the cord and kept it safe. That had to be grounds for trust. Right?

Rohka scratched the tattoo on the inside of her wrist absentmindedly as she glanced down at the journal that lay closed in her lap.

"Roh, I don't know how much you can handle. You've only been conscious for a couple days now. The doctors told me not to inundate you with too much information, so I'm not sure if-"

"Markham," she stressed, gritting her teeth. "You told me write. I did that. I'm ready to talk about it now. Can we talk about it? Can we talk about what I want to know?"

The traveller let out a deep sigh. He scooted closer to her on the bed, then figured it would just be easier to sit crosslegged beside her. He motioned for her to shift and make room. As she did, she felt a pain in her abdomen and tried her best to hide the grimace on her face. Markham didn't notice, but he settled in beside her well enough to be seated next to her knees.

He tightened his purple sash as he gave her a smile.

"Sure, let's chat. What do you want to know?"

Rohka took a look at the tattoo this time. The waves, shaped almost like a heart. Two waves about to crash into each other, but captured in the moment of time when they are both separate and yet together. Not whole, but in a form that spoke of wholeness. She broke herself out of her reverie to answer his question, crossing her arms in front of her.

"I'm going to give you my journal. I want you to take notes of what I am asking and saying. Then, when I'm done, I want to hear your answers, and it will be my turn to take notes. Can you do that for me?"

Markham hesitated. His brows knitted together as he considered the request, realizing that this may take more time than he'd anticipated. He scratched his head and looked at the door of the room they were in, noticing that it was closed shut. It seemed to him that this may be a worthwhile process for her recovery and eventual safekeeping of the primary items in question since the day they decided to leave together. It never failed to bring weight into his stomach every time he considers the burden that Rohka willingly took on that day, from her mentor, Lelia, in Ravok. Keeping this is mind, he nodded, taking the journal from her lap and pulling out the quill and ink. He flipped to a blank page and waited for her to start.

"Okay," she began, grateful for his agreement. "Let me preface this by saying that I know I'll get emotional, and I know some of this might sound like I'm complaining, and I'll probably lose track of what I am wanting to articulate somewhere in the middle of talking about what I want to know. I give you this preface because I need you to write only what you think is relevant. I trust you to capture the notes that I need us to remember. I trust you because you've guided me here thus far. And I'm safe. I'm alive. Because of you."

At this, she could feel her throat getting constricted, tears welling up in her eyes.

She pushed through.

"Thank you, Markham. I know I owe you. What I want to know is how I can repay you, for keeping me alive all this time. Despite everything. Despite the horrors we saw and experienced."

She paused here, realizing that a part of her couldn't even bring herself to remember those moments at sea. The tears then streamed down her face.

"I want to know why I'm alive."

At this, she could sense herself beginning to hyperventilate. She knew she need to take care of this feeling, so she waited, noting the feeling, and reverting to her meditation training form Lelia.

Breathe in. Breathe in. Fill the lungs with air. Release, slowly, like blowing air through a flute.

It helped. Rohka settled. Markham kept his eyes closed during her moment of grounding.

She began again, her tone now deeper than before.

"I want to know how I can live fully, now that I'm here. In Zeltiva. I want to know how to maintain my own home, and possibly even my own business, to help give back to those who've brought me here. I want to know where my grandfather is. I feel as if I've been tasked with so much, Markham. I don't know where to start, and I need to know where I can begin. What are my first steps? Walking? I know I had difficulty doing that yesterday. How can I get any of this done if I can't even get myself out of bed sometimes? I want to know what's wrong with me. Why am I in pain? Why am I hurt so badly? Why can't I remember some of these things?"

As she spoke, her voice got higher and higher, a part of her feeling almost desperate to get words out fast enough.

"I want to know how this happened to me, and I want to know it in detail, so I can make sure that this never happens again, and so that I can make my peace with it all and move forward. I want to get answers to my father's questions about the family and our history. I want to know how to help the Calico business from being here in Zeltiva and right any of our past wrongs, so that my family can continue to thrive in Ravok under Rhysol's protection. I want to know why it's taking me so long to..." her voice trailed off at that point as he thought about the pieces that brought her to where she was now.

"...so long to heal. I want to know when I can leave this centre so I can find out how to-"

She paused here. It was like something clicked in her mind when she remembered. Her next words came out in a whisper.

"...how to fulfill Krishveth's sacrifice," said Rohka, grasping the bloodstone and pulling the cord taut.
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on December 15th, 2020, 4:35 am

12th of Fall, 520 AV
- Rohka trusts Markham because he has guided her to Zeltiva. She knows she is alive because of him.
- Rohka knows that she owes Markham.
- What Rohka wants to know:
    - how to repay Markham
    - why she is alive
    - how to live fully, now that she is in Zeltiva
    - how to maintain her own home and business, to give back
    - where her grandfather is located
    - where to begin
    - what is wrong with her
      - why she is in pain and is badly hurt
      - why she can’t remember
    - details of how this happened
    - how to get answers to her father’s questions about the Calico business and history
    - how to right any past wrongs
    - why it is taking time to heal
    - when she can leave the centre
    - how to fulfill Krishveth’s sacrifice


Markham placed the quill down and watched Roh as she pulled on the cord, seeing her neck flush with redness as the cord dug into her skin. He let out a small sigh and gave her back her journal. It had been good to hear her speaking again. He wrote the date up at the top of the page to help her realize how long it had been since they’d left.

“It’s been exactly a year since your resolution, Seeker,” he said, his voice low. He watched her as she looked off to the side, a part of her fading away, and that peculiar flash in her eyes again.

“Some of these things are better left to be remembered on your own. I don’t want to meddle with your memories of the past. I know what that’s like, and it’s a struggle and a half to get to the heart of what was real,” said Markham, eyes lowered.

When they were at sea, he’d told her a bit about his discoveries in Mura. The teachings he received, and the past lives he became aware of. Specifically the ones from the old Empire. Unsure of her recollection of these stories, he cleared his throat before continuing. “It’s your turn to write.”

She brought her gaze back to the Drykas and nodded, picking up the quill. She looked to the page, noticing his handwriting. Straight lines, precise, evenly spaced, yet narrow. It wasn’t what she expected. Noticing this made her realize that there was always more to learn about a person, no matter how small the detail. It made her smile a bit.

“What is it?” asked Markham.

“Oh,” she let out a small laugh. “You write so neatly. Pointedly. Heavy pressure, completely legible, no slant. I never would’ve guessed. You’re always so fluid with the way you conduct yourself, I just figured your writing would look like that too. But it’s so—“

“Not how I present myself? Yes, it’s intentional. Figured you would pick up on such a thing. I should disguise my handwriting, eh?” He laughed, his playful tone letting her see the inner workings of his current assessment of her progress. It was good to see her pick up on such things.

Rohka grinned at him. “If you don’t want people to know more about you, then yes, maybe you should.”

She felt a pain in her abdomen again and winced a bit. Her eyelids fluttered and she breathed in, remembering to slow down her pace of thought. She closed her eyes and breathed out once more. Rohka saw herself seated in this bed and at once became distraught over her state of being. She picked up on the feeling and tried to detach from it.

“Your aura is flickering tremendously,” whispered Markham. “Do you need to rest?”

“No,” said Rohka. It came out more like a hiss than a statement. “Let me write.”

“Fine. Then let me answer you,” said the traveller, removing something from his shoulders and setting it down beside him. It was a simple rucksack, the worn and dirty leather with its straps tightly bound. He straightened his back and stared at it. “I came prepared for this, Seeker. We will play a game together, and you will learn what I need you to learn. Win, and you will receive a prize. Clear?”
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on December 24th, 2020, 4:44 am

Rohka stared at him quizzically, but nodded in agreement.

“Good. The game is ‘Two truths and a Lie’. Your objective is to figure out which of my statements is the lie. You do not win until you’re able to do two things. The first is to be able to guess my lie. The second is to be able to tell a lie, successfully, to me. If you can manage to hide the truth from me, I will consider you worthy of the prize.”

Markham reached into his pack and pulled out what looked like a piece of jewelry. “I had this made for you,” he said. “It will help us. It’s supposed to, anyways. There’s a catch to it. So I can’t give this to you until I know you can handle it.”

He grinned at her now. Markham was restraining himself from bouncing like a kid over the excitement he had over finally being able to train the Seeker in something he’s wanted to do for so long. Since the day they’d left Ravok, this was the training he’d yearned to give her.

“Ready?”

Rohka was utterly confused as to how any of this was supposed to help answer what she wanted to know. This game gave her flashbacks to the first time she met him. That fateful day, at her table in The Malt House. Such humble beginnings for her, with cards made to help patrons remember who she was. That was the day he’d given her the medallion.

…a spark of something about the medallion… something about what it did, somewhere, in Ravok, at some point...

…was it in the temple?

Rohka shook her head. She wondered where that medallion was located now. All her possessions were lost to her, in her mind. She could only assume that Markham had it all. Her trust in Markham was high, but she realized it was more out of necessity at this point than anything else. She nodded to him and looked down to her page to begin writing.

“Wonderful. To start, I’ll say that you shouldn’t worry about your emotions with me. I don’t judge you for having them. You carry wounds, but it’s the emotional wounds that take lifetimes to heal. I brought you to Zeltiva because it was my job to bring you here. Lelia paid me for it. She really needed you out of Ravok. That ability is in your blood, and we’ll test it today, now that you’re awake again. I kept you safe because I want answers too, Rohka.”

The growl in his voice sent a shiver down her spine. The sybil continued to write as he spoke.

“You are repaying me by being alive. But you can truly repay me by starting your business. We can create a plan together while you’re here, and we could get you a loan. You will work. You will earn what you need to make a living again, permanently away from the hold that kept you in service to the Calico company. We will get more of the answers we both seek, in this way.”

Rohka remembered it then. The words she wrote to herself some time ago.

Talk to Markham honestly. Get him to tell you the truth. Or at least, as much of it as he can possibly tell you.

She breathed in slowly this time, focusing her attention on the sounds around her. The room was fairly silent. There was barely any noise on the other side of the door. She realized she had no idea what time of day it was. Morning? Evening? Hard to know, in a room with no windows. Her thoughts drifted back to the attention on her breath. A slow exhale. Another, slower inhale.

“I know you can find my lie,” said the Drykas man. “I haven’t mastered auristics like Lelia has. So here we are, my three statements to you. First one is that I have two children. Second one is that I went to Mura and found out that I was a victor in the Suvan Empire during one of my past lives. Third one is that I like apples.”

Rohka thought for a moment, then looked up at her mentor. “Two children? Is that the lie?”

Markham raised his brows and scoffed. “You’ll have to do better than that.” She could see the worry in his eyes, but she was lost on why he’d feel any worry over her answer.

The Drykas was now aware, after hearing her guess, that her memory was definitely damaged. They’d all been at sea together for so long that this shouldn’t have been difficult for her to know. Rohka had played with his children, she’d cooked for them and even looked after them for days on end aboard their Saique. It shocked him to hear her state the question so genuinely.

Rohka began to feel upset by his reaction. As if she’d just revealed something terrible by attempting to guess the lie.

“You just look like the kind of man who wouldn’t stop at two,” said Rohka. Her poor attempt at a joke was met with a gentle smirk while she felt her cheeks flush at the realization of her words.

“It was the apples,” said Markham, quickly. He put on a smile to try and distract her from her thoughts. “I actually hate apples.”

Rohka nodded slowly, attempting to return the smile and writing his correction down as a note.

“Your turn,” he said.

“Um,” she looked around the room, thinking there might be something that could spark an idea. Seeing the door, she began to voice her statements. “I haven’t tried to open that door. I wrote to someone in my journal. And the last statement is that I like the color green.”

“Is it the second one?” asked the traveller.

Rohka nodded.

“It wouldn’t make sense to write to someone in your own journal. You’d write a letter if you were writing to someone. That was an easy one to guess, just based on the logic. You should try to tell me something that you think I wouldn’t question. I liked your last statement, something like that would be perfect for a lie.”

Rohka nodded again. What she failed to tell Markham was that she wasn’t even sure how much of any of her statements were true. All three of the statements needed more details. For the first one, she did try getting up to walk. She’d wanted to open that door. She’d been afraid of what would be on the other side, and her energy had been so low, whenever she tried to get to the door. For the second statement, her writings were simply a practice in thought, and a way to console herself more than anything. At least, that was what she told herself. Markham was right about the logic she used when she thought about the statement. It wouldn’t make sense to write to someone in a personal journal. She knew she wasn’t writing to anyone in particular.

It still felt like she was writing to someone, though.

As for the color green, it was a color that always made her think of the Lakeshore. She liked the Lakeshore. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the color nowadays, though. She knew she didn’t want to wear it right now, at least.

A part of her wondered why she wasn’t telling him any of this. Explaining her statements wasn’t part of the game, was it?

Meanwhile, Markham had a feeling that her lie was a cover-up for something she was beginning to notice. He’d seen her aura flash when she said ‘journal’. It was good to hear her speak up about this. It meant that the prize may actually be of use.

“We’ll try again. Three statements from me,” Markham adjusted himself in his seat, recrossing his legs.
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on December 24th, 2020, 5:35 am

He began to fidget with the end of one of his long braids as he thought of what his statements could be. He could feel Rohka’s eyes on him, and it made me pause his movements for a tick. His biceps began to twitch almost involuntarily and he smiled, thinking of what he felt were pretty good ones.

“You’ll appreciate these. They’re Ravok themed. Let’s see if you can figure this out. First statement is that,” he paused.

The man turned his gaze to the door and fixated on it. A part of him was worried for her now, with hearing these words.

“I don’t have family in Ravok. Second statement. If you are not a citizen of Ravok, you do not exist. Third statement. The wood in Ravok is known to be as strong as stone. Pick the lie.”

Rohka took in a deep breath. It was hard to figure this one out, because of the way the statements were phrased. What did Markham mean by ‘do not exist’? Of course people who were not citizen would ‘exist’, as she was pretty sure there were other travellers she met while she worked at The Malt House. That one stood out the most as being odd and qualified as the lie.

But would Markham make it that simple? She knew she couldn’t choose the last statement. That one was certainly true in some way, as the city was built on the wood. She knew that. Her family contributed to that.

And it seemed true to her that Markham wouldn’t have family in Ravok. He never mentioned anyone, not that she could recall. She reached a hand up to massage the side of her neck, wondering what other pieces of information might tell her more about which of the statements were a lie.

“You’re doing that wrong,” said Markham, smirking. “Feel into it. Don’t do it mentally.”

A small smile crossed the sybil’s lips. She focused back on her feelings and let herself move a little gentler, slower in her thoughts. She breathed in deep, and then let go, with the exhale moving a strand of her hair.

I have nothing to lose here, she thought.

Her feelings picked up on an a colouring of grey in the air. It was faint enough to spark a moment of clarity. His children. He’d talked about his children before. And that he had another wife.

“You have family in Ravok,” she said, grinning into the folded hands in her lap. “Right?” She looked up at him to see that he was looking at her now, his eyes slowly closing shut and open again.

“Good. I think I made that one too easy for you,” he said, smiling. He was sure that he did. He’d picked up on her tendencies and focus points, so it was a test to see if she would trust in her own framing of thoughts, instead of information that may seem like an exaggerated version of the truth.

As if on cue, Rohka spoke up.

“But how it is true that non-citizens do not exist? I’m pretty sure I remember,” her voice trailed off, now feeling unsure.

“They walk a fine line,” he answered, playing with his braids again. “Too tough and you're disposed of for being a threat but if you're too weak or too slow? Let’s just say that Ravok has a reputation for its methods of madness. You may not know what I mean right now. But you will. In time. I’m sure of it. That’s part of why you’re here, in Zeltiva, after all. Non-citizens just don’t belong on Lake Ravok. Zeltiva, on the other hand, is more welcoming, just due to the encouragement of knowledge being built by the city that is famous for the very first and most popular traveller of them all: Kenabelle Wright.”

“Who?”

“I’ll tell you more about her some other time. She’s always been an inspiration for sailors. She was the first to complete a circumnavigation of Mizahar. There’s rumours that she’s seen more than just what she wrote about in her account. You should read it, when you get a chance. The maps are just beautiful, she was a master cartographer too. Anyways—“

“She travelled by herself?”

“No, with a crew. Of a hundred or so, I think.”

“Is she alive?”

“Uh, no, I don’t think so. She was presumed dead at 28. No heirs. She has quite the estate here though, so I’ve heard. Haven’t seen it myself. I think it’s still being maintained by the housekeeper’s family, but it’s unoccupied. An odd arrangement, if you ask me. It has something to do with her will, they say.”

Rohka took this in and suddenly felt a weight of pressure beginning to build in her stomach. Hearing this made her yearn again, for the answers to her questions from earlier.

But they were playing a game, and she needed to win first.

“So it’s my turn now, right?”

Markham shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Yes Seeker, it is. Go right ahead. I won’t tell you any more statements. You’ll keep doing groups of three statements until you can convince me.”

“Fine,” said Rohka, determined to get this over with. She spoke fast. “I like food. I like water. I like clothes.”

“Easy. Clothes is the lie.”

“Petch.”

She paused. She thought she could do this by being faster. This time, she began to think a little about their setting. With the idea of the healing centre in mind, so tried again. It was possible, perhaps, to speak to external statements instead of internal ones.

“This room is plain. The door is closed. There are no holes in the walls.”

“Holes. You’re not actually trying, are you? I’ve been awake in this room for longer than you have, remember? I’ve had days where I’ve done nothing but look at the walls as well. Come on now. Again.”

Rohka frowned, twisting the fabric of her sheets. She wasn’t liking this game. She wasn’t even sure of what the actual point of this game was. Why was it that she needed to earn this thing that was made for her? Why couldn’t he just give it to her?

“Now Roh, your statements don’t have to be short. You can make them longer. See if that helps.”

She nodded. Realizing that she would need to think this through, she paused, letting herself go through her own memories to see if there was anything that Markham would fail to question. In that moment, she could hear the sound of water dripping somewhere in the distance, sending her brows into a twisted knot as she continued to think.

Longer statements would turn into stories, and Markham didn’t play the game that way. What could I possibly lie about in a way that would seem like the truth? It feels just gross to think about. It’s wrong, isn’t it? To lie? That’s what my mother always told me. What a stupid game. Why would you want to win by lying? What good does that do? It just causes confusion, doesn’t it? Convincing someone of your lie just seems like convincing someone to believe in something that isn’t real.

Why would I ever want to do that?


That’s when it hit her.

“Okay. Here are my statements.”
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 2nd, 2021, 10:38 pm

Rohka came to realize that a lie was like a tool. If a lie is used for the purpose of getting closer to the truth - to what is real - then perhaps it could be used sparingly.

The sybil looked back down to her notebook. She’d taken a few more notes to remember things that Markham had said, but she knew that he would need to answer more of what she wanted to know. Though it was true that her memory was foggy, she couldn’t help but feel the drive to leave, move, and take action once again. Realizing this allowed her to form the statements that she needed for the game.

And, hopefully, to win.

Rohka paused for a moment to close her eyes. This time, with the intake of a deep breath, she imagined what her perfect home would look like. As she breathed out, more notes came to her mind, and it was clear that this would be something she needed to write down sooner than later.

Rohka opened her eyes.

“My home is hard to define because my family is hard to define. Having my own home will not make me happier. I do not believe that happiness is the answer to what makes life real and meaningful to me.”

Markham hummed in response to her statements. He massaged his chin as he thought about the words, and the way she put them all in negative frames. He decided to speak out his thinking process.

“I didn’t think you had a hard time defining your family, since your parents were alive when we left and are hopefully still doing well in Ravok. You never left Ravok, and I can’t recall if anyone else in your family left Ravok before. Your grandfather… you said you wanted to know where he is. If you’re wanting to know about this, then I guess there could be some truth to home being hard to define. Unless you already have a set definition for home and family that you haven’t told me about before,” he said, looking up at the ceiling.

The Drykas man shifted in his seat upon the mattress, putting a hand on Rohka’s feet to steady himself. Feeling the warmth of his hands through the sheet made a shiver move through her body.

It wasn’t that she was uncomfortable with his touch. It was more that it felt so familiar to her that it almost frightened her.

Markham could sense a bit of this. He folded his hands back in his lap as he stifled a reaction of any sort. There would be no help in scaring her this early in her recovery process. He realized that he needed to be careful with his touch on her, from now on.

Especially since he knew what, or who, was a part of her now.

“I think you’re telling the truth for the first statement,” he began. “I’ll be honest. Your aura is hard to read on this one. Are you sure you played the game right? There’s only supposed to be one lie.”

Rohka took a moment to think through her statements again before nodding. “Yes, I’m sure that I did it right. There are two truths and one lie.”

It took her a moment to consider because she needed to be sure of how she phrased it. Having the statements be positive felt like it would be too easy to guess. She told him that she wanted to know how to maintain her own home. If he remembered that she wanted to help give back to him and his crew, then that should tell him what the lie should be. However, if he didn’t remember, and if he chose the wrong statement…

His choice would reveal more of the truth behind his actions.

Markham hummed at her confirmation, and continued to think aloud.

“If I haven’t lost already, then I’ll need to decide between the next two statements. You said ‘having my own home will not make me happier’. Okay. Let’s say that was true. Then why would you want to know how to maintain your own home? You said you wanted to give back…”

Rohka smiled at this.

“Ah, see?” said Markham, pointing a finger at her. “You can’t let your opponent see your emotions when you play this game, that gives them clues. Maybe you think that it’s difficult to give back to people. This recovery process is difficult, so maybe you think that having your own home will be overwhelming, but that it’s necessary to maintain a home in order to provide for the people who are helping you live a good life. Alright, if I go with that logic and remember your last statement… what was it again?”

Rohka smirked and stayed silent.

“Fine, good, the essence of this game is about paying attention,” he said, chuckling. “Your last statement was… yes, it was that you do not believe happiness makes life real and meaningful. Is this the lie? I think you definitely believe that happiness makes life meaningful, but I don’t think you found what makes you happiest yet. That’s why you want to know all these things. You want to know it all so that you can be happier. Did I get it right?”

The sybil grinned and shook her head. “No,” she answered. “Well, I guess there’s some truth in what you said.”

“Seeker, in order to win, I need you to clarify exactly how each statement is either a truth or a lie,” said Markham. His tone was low, and the expression on his face was extremely serious, almost threateningly so. The traveller was intent on hearing every word of what she had to say, so that he could assess her readiness for this next phase of her journey. The bracelet would bring her far more knowledge than she ever would’ve imagined, and it was crucial that she could parse truths from lies in the ways that mattered most.

“Okay,” said Rohka, obediently. “Can I ask for some water first?”

Markham blinked. He hadn’t realized how much time had passed, and barely noticed her state, physically. He’d forgotten that she was on a liquid diet, having just gotten back up from unconsciousness some days ago. It was like listening to her speak had gotten him so excited for the future that he’d forgotten her present circumstances.

“Yes, of course you can. I’ll be right back with a mug of water and whatever the doctor has for you, as a meal for today.” Markham put the bracelet back in his pack and slung it over his shoulders as he carefully got out of her bed. He walked towards the door and opened it before turning his head back to smile at her, giving her a wave, and letting the door shut behind him.
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 3rd, 2021, 2:08 am

The sybil was tired. More than that, she felt mentally exhausted. It felt like it took so much energy to pay attention to her own thoughts, let alone the words, frames, and meanings of someone like Markham. She knew he wanted her to get better, but she kept losing track of why he cared so much. She put all her excuses on the fact that she was clearly sick somehow. Sick in the body, sick in the mind, perhaps even sick in her soul.

The frankly depressing thought made her remember that she had the choice to let those thoughts go. She had the choice to focus on her healing and on her home for the future.

Rohka picked up her quill again and read the additional notes she'd taken from the conversation she just had with Markham.

As she read them over, her hand absentmindedly underlined Markham's statement about the wood of Ravok. She began to remember walking across the bridges of the city, and seeing all the different types of Ravosala boats. Big ones, small ones, the plain and simple ones versus the large and delicately intricate ones that would take up so much space while floating on the waters. She remembered some of the faces of the men and woman navigating the ravosalas with their poles, pushing against the walls and possibly the ground... the ground that she'd never touched herself. That underwater ground.

She realized that she had no idea how deep Lake Ravok was. It was never something she was curious about. She remembered rumours about it being bottomless when she was a child, but that was surely not true. The sybil began to wonder how the Lake even formed in the first place.

How did Ravok come to be?

That place, that city, those waters, the shores... the people, the weather, the food, the games, the festivals... even the sky above... all of it had been her home.

It was still partly her home. Wasn't it? Since her parents were still there, and since they were the reason for her birth, she figured that as long as they were alive, a part of what home meant to her was surely in the breath, the actions, and the space of her parents. She did remember, however, that the Calico family had a lot more to their history. For one thing, her father being half Vantha meant that his own home used to be elsewhere. There was something else too, something about the Calico family...

Her memory became foggy again. She shook her head, focusing herself on the page in her journal. She wanted to define a different future for herself now. This was not Ravok anymore. This was Zeltiva. What could 'home' look like here? Rohka knew that she still wanted her home to be made out of wood... but as her hand played with the bloodstone on her cord, she began to consider what a house made of rocks would look like. She imagined having a few rooms, with a fireplace, and cozy furniture. She imagined growing plants. So many plants, and flowers, and maybe even some vegetables. The sybil remembered Lelia's incense sticks and figured she would want the ability to make her home smell good too. Having lived above the Malt House, she had the fortune of coming down to experience the comings and goings of regulars and strangers. Meeting people and hanging out was so much easier, and it was even more of a treat when she was able to make mizas by setting up her table for business.

She realized, then, that her home would need at least three areas: one for herself, when she wanted to be alone with her own thoughts. It would be her most private and safe space. Another area would be for friends, and maybe even family. Last but not least, there would be an area for business and strangers. Envisioning this made her realize how important it was for her to keep a physical separation between private, familiar, and business relationships.

However, it also made her realize that it was all in her mind... at all times. It was impossible to physically separate the mind into spaces like that...

...right?

Again, her head began to throb with an aching pain, stronger than it had been over the last few days. She closed her eyes for another moment to breathe. Slowly, deeply, feeling the air passing through her nose, both in, and out. She noticed that her heartbeat was slower too, despite the ache she felt in her head. She let her mind wander again, letting herself blindly draw in her journal. She then opened her eyes, seeing that she'd made tiny little circles, like small dots, on the bottom half of her page. Rohka wondered, right then, what the middle of a flower was called. With the point of her quill, she drew little petals on each circle. Some had four, others and five, and one of her little flowers had eight petals. Seeing these all drawn out made her smile.

The sybil sighed. It was definitely difficult being here all alone. It had barely been half a bell since Markham left and she already found herself missing his presence. Not used to being so silent, she went back to her journal to talk to her love.

Where are you?

Here with you. Always. I stay silent until you need me. I'm learning too.

I'm scared that I won't get better.


Seeing herself write these words down gave her pause. Perhaps this was something she'd avoided admitting to herself.

Everything can only be done step by step. One thing at a time. The next thing is to walk again. You must ask Markham to help you do that.

Walk outside, if you can.


Rohka nodded to herself. There was, of course, no use in being stuck in this bed forever. When Markham comes back, and after she tells him the details behind her truths, this would certainly be her goal.

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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 4th, 2021, 12:08 am

"I brought you some dried, roasted seaweed, a classic Zeltivan favourite, and a warm broth. Here is the water you asked for as well. The doctors said you should try some solid food, so I figured this would be a good intro to Zeltivan cuisine. Help yourself," said Markham, placing the tray of food in her lap.

Rohka took in a deep breath, overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, feeling the warmth of the broth, her mouth practically salivating from the still steaming meal. Her face was beaming with excitement...

...and her tail immediately snatched the spoon.

"Whoa, Rohka, we talked about this. Hands," said the traveller, the disapproval apparent on his face.

The sybil didn't understand what he meant. Talked about what? This was her limb, could she not use it however she pleased?

"We can't go over this again," said Markham, his index and thumb rubbing over the bridge of his nose. "You need to continue your human habits. I know you see your tail as a gift, but you'll avoid typical bullying behaviour if you hide and restrict it when you're in public."

Rohka gave his point some thought, her mind wandering to her imagined restricted uses for her precious source of mobility: hand holding, weight carrying, rock throwing, itch scratching...

...love making...?

The sybil cleared her throat. She released the grip of her tail and the spoon dropped back onto the tray. She then picked up the utensil with her fingers and dipped it into the broth, gently, gingerly bringing it up to her lips to sip.

"Mm. You know Mar," she began, the recalling her nickname for him. "It's not that I think you're wrong. I, too, have been thrown off by the looks of strangers I've met in the past. I just think I should be able to handle whatever comes my way, you know what I mean? I know I'm stuck in this bed right now, but honestly Markham... when I get out of here, I know my life will be different. I only hope to never have to worry about bullying in my life as much as you seem to think I should." She said it all without looking into his eyes. She said it with a tone that spoke of a practised arrogance, and a dismissive sense of assurance. She continued to speak, her voice now coated in the warmth of the meal, allowing herself to speak low... a whole octave lower.

"Rhysol blessed me with this tail. It's no different to me than my arms or my legs. I refuse to see myself as inhuman, just because I have a limb that is different."

Markham silently removed his pack and placed it on the bed, returning to sit cross-legged by her knees. He had heard her say similar things in the past, of course. It seemed she'd forgotten what he'd told her then.

"Rohka. I told you that it was a Dravlak incident. My crew found out about it. I'm surprised you never asked Lelia about it. You remember what a Dravlak is, don't you? Those monsters? Raging animals with no reason? They have the ability to render chaos, twisting, shifting, and breaking reality in a way that changes anything that surrounds them. One of them was set loose in the city for some reason. So many people were transformed that day."

The young Calico took in a deep breath. Yes, there was something of a recollection... but this time, she closed her eyes, taking another sip of her broth, and then her very first conscious sip of Zeltivan water.

The plain, lukewarm water was certainly different from what she remembered from Ravok. It didn't have the same effect, the sort of refreshing effect that Lake Ravok's water always had. Instead, it felt murkier, and far better in a boiled broth. The observation paired with the feeling of a growing question in her mind. It was almost as if two question formed at once: one was about where Zeltiva's water came from...

...and the other was about where Dravlaks came from.

"Do you know how a Dravlak comes to be?" she asked, curiously. Rohka finally looked at her mentor.

Markham bit the inside of his cheek. He knew he couldn't lie to her. Besides, they weren't in Ravok anymore, and there shouldn't be any reasons to shield her from truths now. He glanced off to the side before resolving to admit his knowledge of Dravlaks.

"They say that Rhysol creates them," said Markham, cautiously watching the sybil's reactions. "He forms them from his own being. His 'chaos', as it is called. Do you remember the Druvin? Rhysol creates these leaders that you are more familiar with. They are his third marked followers, and he creates them by spilling his blood on their flesh. My men and I have travelled for a long time. This was not an easy piece of information to gather. I keep getting less surprised by your loss in memory, I almost have a feeling that it is somehow a Ravokian effect that keeps citizens practically unaware of your Gods' true ways."

Having listened to him, Rohka simply smiled. She took another sip of the broth, and this time, she took a bite of the crispy seaweed.

"Mmm." Her eyes fluttered open, surprised by her own moan, soft and unrestrained. "This is really good, Mar. Thank you," she said, looking at him now. "I wish I could thank the person who made this. I can really only thank Rhysol in my mind, for making the Dravlak that transformed me."

Hearing this, Markham sighed, shaking his head and letting a smile creep up on his face.

"Well, I must say, Seeker. You've always been a faithful one."

Rohka let herself smile as well while she picked up the bowl and placed her lips on the rim, tilting the bowl so that she could drink the rest of the hearty broth. She felt it go down her throat and fill her stomach. The satisfaction of a meal was like nothing she could remember in recent times.

"That seaweed was to die for," she said, grinning. "I should be adding this to the list of things to repay you for."

"Hey look, that's specifically food that the Healing Centre serves to patients," said Markham, holding his hands up a tad defensively. "We'll get to the repayment talk soon enough. Go ahead and explain your two truths and a Lie now so that you can get what you are owed for winning the game. That is, if you played it right..."

Markham paused. The sybil blinked at him, almost sure that he had a question on his lips.

Sure enough, he did.

"You're sure you don't believe that happiness is what makes life meaningful?"


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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 5th, 2021, 5:17 am

Rohka was finished her meal, and had half a glass full of water left. Before answering Markham, she gulped the rest of the Zeltivan liquid down. The sybil was never one for alcoholic drinks. She could count the number of times she had anything with alcohol in it on one hand. The water, though, helped her stay much more present and aware of what she truly wanted to say... unlike any wine or ale she'd had before. Considering Markham's question, she placed the plain, empty glass back on the tray. She wanted to answer him in full, since she knew he wanted her to be clear about her truths. Rohka closed her eyes, trying to find her centre.

Markham noticed, and decided to help.

"If you're looking to find 'that place', Roh, connect deeper. From the mages I've heard from, most of them call it a 'well'. You know how you would pull up water from a well? They think of djed sort of like that. Frankly, the terms the mages use these days are probably all derivations of Alahean lingo. When I was in Mura, the Konti woman who read my Chavi helped me find one of my lives as a wielder of magic. It seemed I was always reborn in Suva, curiously enough. Either that, or the Konti woman couldn't find my time in Alahea. Regardless, in one life, my name was Roshan Chowlaregan. I can't remember what she said my race was. My skin was tinted green, though, if that says anything.

"Anyways, as Roshan, I never had a name for it. We never needed to give it a name. My mother said she initiated me as a child, though I couldn't remember that time, and the Konti reader couldn't find it either. It's rare to see children who are initiated these days, and for good reason too. I hear it's a painful process. I don't think it was as painful back then. I don't think it's supposed to be painful, to be honest. I think that's maybe why it was easy to not give it a name. A djedline and a bloodline back then were basically the same. Magic, for those families, was as natural as silk is to spiders.

"Hey, that's actually not a bad metaphor, if you ask me. Think of yourself as if you've been made entirely of a fabric and just look for where the threads are. Or where they come from within you. That way, you're not trying to find a central, concentrated location like you might if you were thinking of a well. Think of everything you see as just being made of a fabric called 'djed'. It's kind of a funny metaphor, now that I think about it, because you don't like clothes. I hope you'll be careful with this. Find your base layers of fabric. Find the threads that you're able to make yourself. I think it will help you get closer to where your truths are. I can't imagine how Rhysol messed with the fabric of his city, now that I think about it. I wonder how it affected the citizens. Well, no matter. You're here now."

Rohka smiled at him, having watched him speak animatedly about the topic of magic. Hearing the words 'base layers' almost made her giggle. Was she supposed to be thinking of underwear? She steadied herself by focusing on her breath again.

"Okay," she said, feeling more ready. It was really nice hearing him speak about his past. She wondered for a tick if these were new stories or old stories, as she had a feeling that there might have been parts of this that she'd heard before, but somehow couldn't recall. It was why she took a couple notes down, to help her remember this time... since it almost seemed like she couldn't prevent herself from forgetting things.

"I hope I don't forget Ravok though, like I did with other aspects recently," she said, in response to him. "I'm really glad I'm here by the way. Did I tell you that already? I definitely still thank you for that," she said with a grin. Rohka suddenly felt a bit warm enough to remove the sheets that covered the lower half of her body. She moved her legs a bit, realizing that they could, in fact, move.

It was an odd realization.

The sybil shook her head before she slowly crossed her legs, just like Markham. He watched her, ever cautiously, all the while noticing the blue-ish aura around her eyes. He stayed silent, waiting for her to speak up again.

Rohka made herself comfortable and took in another deep, big breath. She released it quickly this time. Again, another huge breath in. Quick release. Breathe in. Release.

"Happiness," she said, taking a pause to close her eyes. "I think I might've been faking it, some of the time. Putting on a smile for the sake of doing what I think is right. Pretty sure I got really good at it too. A lot of people saw me as being cheerful, and expressive. Gods, I loved talking to people. I still love being social. I remember all the times I felt truly happy being a part of long-winding, moment-building, memory-connecting dialogue. I don't know if I was ever good at it though. I definitely put myself in troublesome situations by speaking my mind amongst people. It was fun for me, though. I might even have a fear of being in a place with no people, now that I think about it. And that's probably why that statement I gave you was one that I chose as the lie. I honestly don't believe that happiness is the answer. I don't believe that happiness is what made my life real and meaningful.

"Having people around did that for me. But it was more than that. Gods, you know how much frustration I've felt with my family. You know how hard it's been for me to truly connect on a deep level with people too. I usually stay mostly if not completely on the surface, and part of the reason why fortune telling called to me so much was because it gave me the facade of getting into the deep with people I barely even knew. Those kinds of conversations were what really drove me. I remember Sariven. Do you remember Sariven? He was the one who introduced me to Lelia. I sat with him, eating a hunk of cheese, and he was the first person to really see my passion for this craft. I used to see it just as a fun little game, a hobby, a neat trick. He made me see it as potential. The potential to look into what is real."

Rohka paused, opening her eyes slightly. She looked down to see her hands folded in her lap.

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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 5th, 2021, 7:01 am

Markham hummed a sense of approval, beginning to understand the woman's fears. He continued to sit silently, in case the sybil had more to say.

Rohka looked up at him and realized she still needed to explain the lie. "I got caught up in talking about why your guess was wrong," she said, laughing gently.

"Home is the lie," said Markham, grinning.

Rohka shook her head, still smiling, recognizing her mentor's sense of humour. "Yes," she said. "Well, kind of. The second statement was the lie, yes. For the same reasons that the last statement was the truth, the second statement, for me, should've been stated in the positive if I wanted it to be true. Does the logic make sense?" She paused, deciding to be a bit more direct.

"Having my own home will definitely make me happier, I think. It allows me to be responsible for a place where I can tend to what is real and meaningful. I do worry though. That's why I knew I couldn't state the positive as being completely true... I really don't know for sure if having my own home will make me happier. I only guess that it will. I can imagine all the things I want to have in a home, but that soon becomes a bit tiring, especially if I'm thinking of how I'd take care of it. I start thinking of people again too. I think of family, and friends, and even a place where I can invite guests or strangers who are interested in business, for example. It almost becomes an exercise of thinking about everything that is involved in maintaining a flourishing relationship. Every action and every material the relationship needs in order for it to be happy, healthy, and wise. I really have no idea if I can maintain a relationship like that... I have a hard enough time taking care of myself right now," she said, sheepishly glancing at the empty bowl and meal.

Hearing this, Markham tilted his head to the right and shook it slowly, a half-smile on his face as he brought all of his braids over in front of his shoulder with his hand. "You have nothing to worry about. I know you'll do a fine job of taking care of a home. With everything you did on our Saique, I have no doubt, Rohka. You'll find out soon enough. Here," he said, beginning to open up his pack.

"It is time." Markham took out the circular item and placed it in his palm. "Like I said, there is a catch. I may not know a whole lot about the divine, but I do know a bit about business. Contingency plans are always a good idea. This bracelet here has a very powerful magic stored in it. My connections certainly go a long way, but these mages are the experimental sort, always loving to see just how far they can play with that precious fabric I talked about. Anyways, I had this made for you to help your mind recover. With the travel you've done with me, it is such a waste if you were to truly forget it all. In all honesty, if I die Rohka..."

His voice trailed off for a tick. In that moment, Rohka felt herself holding her breath.

"...I need you to carry on the truths that I've learned. There's so much I can't just explain to you. You will need this, because I can't stay here in Zeltiva with you. I have a responsibility to my crew, and I'll need to take off into the wilderness and the oceans again very soon. You'll need this to remember me. To remember us. More importantly, you'll need this to see who you are becoming."

Markham let the moment hang for a bit. He then slipped the large circlet onto his wrist. Rohka furrowed her brows as she watched the item shift, shrink, and meld to fit his wrist perfectly.

Suddenly, there was a glow from a triangle that was dangling off the bracelet.

"I knew it," whispered Markham.

He felt a whooshing sensation enter his body.

I knew you knew.
Last edited by Rohka on April 5th, 2021, 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Cold to the Bone II

Postby Rohka on January 5th, 2021, 7:04 am

I've been practicing with her while you were gone.

"What is it?" asked Rohka, concern building on her face.

You're going to make her use that ability again. You know she can only do it once per season. You're having her waste it for your own selfish desire to see me.

"No," he said, in pain, beginning to shiver. Rohka quickly pulled at her threads to try to see Markham's aura more clearly. His usual bright yellow glow seemed to be missing around his head. It was almost blue.

"Mar? I'm going to yell for a doctor if you don't say something," she said, angrily.

He spoke to her with eyes closed. "Listen to me Rohka. You will stay silent. I will also stay silent. Remember, this is a test. When I tell you do so, you're going to get up out of bed, and you're going to take a step back while saying 'Tanroa' in a whisper. Can you do that for me?"

His tone was menacingly serious.

"Yes," she said. "Yes I can."

"Good," said Markham, eyes still squeezed shut. He was sitting up perfectly straight, hands on his knees, his chin levelled. "I will be doing my own version of meditation for a couple chimes." By that, he meant an interrogation of the spirit in their presence. "When I say 'action', I need you to do what I told you to do. Silence now."

Rohka obeyed immediately. She took his cue and went into meditation as well.

Krish, why did you stay? Markham was furious with the spirit for staying on. It was as if he didn't trust Rohka to continue the sacrifice they all knew would need to be done sooner than later.

I can't move on without marrying Maya. You know this. I won't move on until I do so.

You know that I'm giving this bracelet to her. She will see you and feel you eventually. What then?

We'll deal with that. It's none of your business.

You'll torture her. She deserves a good life here.

She needs to complete the ritual she designed for me. I can't let her go until she does.

Don't hurt her. I'll find you both some help. Be careful while you're with her.

I wouldn't hurt her anymore than you did.

At this, Markham's face went into a deep frown.

She's fine. She's alive.

Sure. Just go back to your business when you're done helping here. I'll take care of the rest.

After that, there was a stark sense of matched will. As if they were on equal ground.

Rohka continued to breathe in and out. Markham opened his eyes. She seemed so unaware of it all. He knew that ignorance wouldn't last for long. The traveller closed his eyes again to ask his final question.

Do you love Rohka?

Yes. Very much so.

"Action."

Rohka opened her eyes. She found that she could move a lot easier now, somehow. She first moved the eating tray out of the way, along with her journal and her quill.

"Action, Rohka!"

She realized then that time was of the essence somehow. Her legs moved to hang over the bed frame and then she placed her feet on the ground. She used her hands to push herself up. She then turned around, took a step back, and whispered...

"Tanroa."

Continued here...
Last edited by Rohka on February 25th, 2021, 12:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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