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

Family matters

Postby Caspian on July 25th, 2021, 1:51 pm

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The room feels emptier without Taalviel. Contrary to what one might have guessed, her absence doesn’t necessarily make Caspian feel better, which takes him by surprise. Did he change? Or, more disturbingly, did she? And when in the world had that happened? Had it crept up on them that slow, taken them both so steadily that he hadn’t even been aware when it had started?

Like the ends of autumn slipping into winter, he thinks, when the wind begins to zip and the leaves to brittle, and the ground beneath one’s feet turns hard with the coming frost.

Or a snake, coiling in the rushes. Parting through the sands.

Or, if he’s feeling particularly unkind, basic bathroom mold.

But – he isn’t. Feeling excessively unkind, that is. He suspects his present predicament, which is the inability to run away from danger should the moment call for it, has something to do with it.

He clears his throat, tries very hard to focus on Shiress when she pulls back his arm and her face swims into view. “Not to, like, vouch for my sister or anything” – and already the denials seem flimsier than normal – “but it’s not that Taalviel doesn’t trust your skills, Flutter. Very much the opposite. She just wants me to be able to worm my body up a chimney, or scamper up a garden wall, or whatever plot she’s got cooked up. Like, yesterday. …having said that out loud, I’m not sure which state of physical fitness I would prefer. To be safe, maybe you’d better break both my arms before she gets back.”

But Milo confesses why he’s in Zeltiva at all and the rhythm shifts, shoving them all into the off beats, and both the morose and jocose parts of him immediately whither. There’s a time for screwing around, and this no longer feels like it’s it.

Milo, who is your father?

“Petching sticks of shyke,” Caspian stage-whispers, feeling, to some degree, that he probably shouldn’t be here for this. Miss Beth, lovely and helpful as she is, definitely shouldn't. But he’s nosy, and he’s got the perfect excuse - the medical kind - to keep himself planted right where he lies. He doesn’t have all the pieces that Shiress evidently does, for her expression’s shifted into shapes he doesn’t have the names for, that indicate quite clearly that all of this means something.

And, perhaps, something not necessarily good.

“Alright, kid,” he says, and though his head’s spinning trying to keep up with the storm of thoughts now in his mind, he focuses. Hard. “One – where’s Graymane now? And when you say mercenary, you mean he did what you hired him to, and that’s that? The bill’s paid, the cord’s cut, no further complications? Two – to be blunt, you couldn’t stay in Ravok any longer because…? Three – wait – yes, right. Three. Is the thing that drove you out going to follow you here, to us?”

Though it makes him sick, he’s propped himself up on both elbows to look at Milo. All stitched up, all bandaged up, with more bruises and less blood than he probably had yesterday, Milo resembles more of a crone’s forgotten poppet than a precocious human child.
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Family matters

Postby Milo Murrell on August 31st, 2021, 7:35 pm

Family matters
75th of Spring 521AV

Milo blinked lazily, then groaned as he was made to sit upright again. Couldn’t they just let him rest? He’d taken a page from Caspian’s playbook and taken a liking to laying down, it was comfortable, familiar and helped numb all the little pains prodding and poking at him. This time he didn’t flinch when he felt Shiress’s hands on him, it was actually nice to have the healer’s hands-

“Ow!” he cried out when the healer snapped his nose back into place. “Ah! Shyke!” he let out a flurry of improper and impolite things to say in his native tongue before Beth pressed a thick cloth to his nose. At least he was painfully awake now, all too aware of the throbbing on his temple, the dull pain in his chest with every breath, and the lingering, biting pain at the center of his face.

The grimace on his face was hidden by the cloth Beth had offered him, but the strain in his voice was audible. “Depends on which one you mean. The one that raised me is Yanos Murrell, but the one that made me is Zane,” he looked up at Shiress. “That’s why I was looking for you, he’s your brother, right? I know what that means.” He’d known it since the first day he’d left Ravok, but it had taken him all of the journey to Zeltiva to reconcile the thought that he had a breathing, living aunt that he knew nothing about.

Discarding the cloth for a moment he sighed and almost immediately regretted it his chest ached in protest. “I suppose I should have just told you right away, but I had to see who you were, what you were like before I-”

He was rudely interrupted by the man who insisted on shoving his very nosy nose into matters that didn’t concern or involve him. “Why should I know where he is?” he bit back. “His only job was to get me here in one piece, which he did, and that’s the end of that.” The second question was more reasonable, but also more hurtful. “In Ravok we have a sense of honor, I’m a stain on dad’s- Yanos’s honor and stains can’t be washed out, they need to be, well…” he put a hand around his throat and squeezed.

“He won’t come here, if that’s what you’re asking, and if he did he wouldn’t be a threat to you, wouldn’t even know who you are or care. He’d just deal with me in his own way and then leave.” His eyes hardened as he stared right back at Caspian. “He’s not your concern.”

Groaning, the boy reached for the cloth again, pressing it to his nose once more and wishing he could have a little more of that tincture that had made him feel warm and woozy. “Can this please wait until tomorrow? It’s not like I’m going anywhere…”
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Family matters

Postby Caspian on August 31st, 2021, 8:44 pm

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Up until this moment, Caspian had never in his life felt particularly old. But in looking at Milo, and how readily the kid had bitten back at him, and how simultaneously familiar and foreign the reaction had been - it counterintuitively stills Caspian into a state of calm. It seems it had not occurred to Milo that hiring a mercenary for any reason might bear the possibility of danger, or simply complication; that possibilities are what prove fatal; that no stranger is a sure thing. Caspian had thought danger unlikely to begin with, but he’s made it this far because he’s old enough to see the whole board. And Milo isn’t there yet, and that’s –

It’s okay. And, given how young he is, isn’t really his fault.

Caspian remembers being that age, suddenly, and how he had needlessly batted back at the adults around him. Had not thought to try and decipher why they said what they said, and did what they did; had, in retrospect, thought the world predictable and finite. But now he knows, or at least he’s beginning to peel back enough layers to see – they were just being careful, the people around him. And it’s a stretch, but to some degree it was for his own benefit.

So Caspian says nothing to Milo – against his own expectations, doesn’t feel the need to – and silently forgives him. Doesn’t expect understanding or an apology or for Milo to be anything but what he is.

And this feels right, somehow, being able to let it go – besides, turns out they’re practically family.

It’s at this moment that Taalviel reappears, this time with one of the Redynn Healers in tow, and jabs a finger at him, the same way one might point out a rodent crushed under a wagon wheel.

“Hold on,” Caspian begins in a panic, because both his sister and the Healer are reaching for him. “Taalviel, explain –“

“Need you fixed, she’s a fixer. Where’s your wallet?” Taalviel replies flatly.

“I’m perfectly fine just the way I – ouch,” he yelps when she jabs at his bruised ribs. “Look, maybe I want them that way. Have you considered th-“

But they firmly and unrelentingly drag him into another room, and to Caspian’s great disappointment, the healer deals with his laundry list of ailments in a matter of minutes. Caspian pays them whatever they ask – really, Taalviel pickpockets him and squares away the bill. When he makes to head back down the hallway to Shiress and, evidently, her nephew, Taalviel instead harries him out the front door.

“But that little twerp is Flutter’s –“ Caspian begins. He’s still having some trouble processing the news.

“And will continue to be after the job is done.”

But – “

“Listen, how long can you hold your breath?”

It’s habit more than anything when Caspian continues to bicker with her through the streets. For he’s also old enough to figure now, though begrudgingly, that his sister would never intentionally let him come to harm.
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Family matters

Postby Shiress on September 1st, 2021, 4:55 pm

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The show is over.

With the utterance of just one single name, the curtain slammed down on that metaphorical orchestra. The entirety of Mizahar rolled away behind a dark cloud, and Shiress's mind quieted, thoughts fleeing. All except for that one name, spoken in a soft, slightly slurred Ravokian accent currently ricocheting against the walls of her mind like a stone would bounce down a rocky incline.

Zane.

Her twin. Her brother. The missing half of her heart, spoken so innocently, explained so dismissively that Shiress had been caught off guard, even though a part of her knew it had been coming. His name had rolled off Milo's tongue with ease, with absolutely no hesitance in its utterance. Within a heartbeat of the boy's declaration, his attention diverted, thoughts turning to other matters. Not at all concerned with the fact that he had just inverted his doctor's world with the news of his parentage. Stimied her hope that was found in 'no news was good news', because Milo had come alone. This meant Zane had not come to Zeltiva with his son, and that could only mean one thing-

Zane was dead or still missing.

It was like finding a river instead of the ocean or crumbs instead of the cake.

Shiress had found a nephew instead of a brother.

It wasn't enough.

"Dr. Shi? Are you all right?"

Beth's voice jolted Shiress from her thoughts and back to her surroundings. She didn't remember walking from the exam room but found herself leaning heavily against the counter just outside.

"The boy's nose has stopped bleeding," the nurse continued, her voice low, "is there anything else I need to do?"

Shiress shook her head, not trusting her tongue. If she opened her mouth, she wasn't sure what would come out. A sob? A bereaved moan? Curses?

"Will you discharge him, then?"

Shiress nodded, then was struck by a thought; Milo would be discharged to her. Fitting that, Milo being her charge now. It was nothing less than she deserved, was it not? With a life of feasting on plated shyke, should she be disappointed when her drinking cup is filled with piss and not water?

A nephew, but not a brother.

Shiress cleared her throat and straightened.

"Yes, he's discharged." she said, pulling the apron strap up and over her head, "He'll be leaving with me."

Shiress made to pass Beth, but the nurse laid a hand on Shiress's shoulder, halting her.

"It's not his fault." she said, voice gentle.

The woman's words surprised Shiress. Had her thoughts been that obvious, or was Beth just guessing that She might somehow blame Milo? Shiress didn't blame him. Not really. It was just...she wanted Zane, not his son! Giving Beth a hesitant smile that went nowhere near her eyes, she pulled her arm free and rejoined Milo in the exam room. Just Milo in the exam room. Where had Caspian gone? Dismissing the thought, Shiress turned her attention to Milo, the harbinger of...what? Less than substitutes, she thought bitterly but outwardly plastered on a thin-lipped smile, angling her body to help the boy hop down off the table.

"Come on, Milo, lets go...home."

The trip to the portal was made in silence, but the nurturing side of Shiress did surrender a bit of support for the still unsteady boy, and she placed a guiding hand against his back for the short walk to the cottage.

Coming through the door, Shiress guided Milo ahead of her while she shut the door and pulled off her bag. Behind her, she heard a gasp, then the distinct sound of something falling against the floor. Spinning around, she saw her mother standing near the table; one hand clutched over her heart, the other clamped over her mouth. Behind her mother, her father stood frozen in the bedroom doorway, scowling, eyes trained on Milo. Shiress knew that it seemed to her parents that a thirteen-year-old Zane had just walked back through their front door, which infuriated her that it wasn't their son.

"Mom, dad." she said, voice jumping and trembling with the struggle to contain her emotions, "this is Milo. Your grandson."
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