Open The Rendezvous

Caspian and Rohka make a terrible discovery at the World's End.

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

The Rendezvous

Postby Caspian on July 21st, 2021, 1:28 pm

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50 Summer 521

The second the door shuts behind them, Caspian feels the tension fly from where it had been building up in his shoulders. It had started well before he’d left the cottage, where privacy was nonexistent; had only swelled when he realized, that for no reason in particular, he was walking rather faster than he needed to; stuck fast in his throat when he saw that Rohka was not only early, she’d beaten him here.

And changing money and receiving keys from the keeper of the inn?

It was asking for an implosion.

As they took the staircase to the second floor, passed down the sun-strewn hallway, he became possessed of the sense that they were doing something they shouldn’t. But in the best way – the same feeling he gets when he nicks something from a market vendor as if he owns it, when he palms a purse off someone’s unsuspecting belt. It might have something to do with how it’s still light out; just as much to do with how many lies he told his sister and everyone else in the cottage about where he supposedly is this afternoon. But the thrill is what it is, ratcheting up his heartbeat. It’s not an unwanted sensation, and at the end of it they’re not actually doing anything wrong. Ever since they had made plans to meet, it had taken up so much real estate in his mind, the anticipation driving him to distraction. And now they’re finally here, and he can’t help but wonder -

Does she feel that way too?

She’d been perfectly cheerful to see him. But it could have been any other day, and they may have been absconding to do any other thing, so enviably casual and at ease had she been when she’d greeted him.

But they’re alone in their room now. It’s a valuable lesson. When you have money you can buy space, and time, and Rhysol willing, it can be yours as long as you like.

When he shuts the door behind them, turns the key, he takes her gently by the hand. Spins her slowly, to a waltz only they can hear. Pulls her to his chest.

“Hey,” he says softly. One of his hands drifts up to her face – hesitates, tucks her hair behind her ear. “I just wanted to say – that, ah, I’m really glad we’re – “ But he makes the mistake of looking into her eyes, and the speech he had prepared himself to give – though speech is terribly formal, as is announcement, almost as bad as a declaration – dies in his throat.

He stops overthinking it. When he kisses her he feels the world shift, interlock, fall away around them. Pulling back, he looks into her eyes again, though he knows that for him it’s a dangerous proposition. If she looks unhappy – it hadn’t felt that way, but if sees a shred of misgiving in her now, it would mean no small amount of heartbreak. He might never do it again. But if there’s a spark of something, a kindling to match his own, then –

Clearing his throat, he pulls back. Puts a semblance of a respectable distance between them, though he can’t help his hands resting on either side of her hips. “We don’t have to do anything,” he says. “Honestly, I – “ He looks towards the bed. Leaves her to sit on the edge, unbuttons his suit jacket, pulls off his boots. Lies down and sighs. It’s not a bad sound, and there’s space beside him. “Is it alright if we just lie here for a bit? I’m just glad to be out of the cottage. It’s turned into an absolute madhouse. Did I tell you there’s a kid living there now? Shiress has a nephew, turned up out of the blue.”
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The Rendezvous

Postby Rohka on July 23rd, 2021, 3:48 am

She wouldn’t stay here long.

Rohka needed a place of her own. This type of living was a waste of time, but she was out of the Healing Centre at least, and that was something.

Caspian proposed the idea of living together in a somewhat haphazard way. She was perplexed and yet, being so new to the city and knowing practically no one, it was comforting to have been asked to share space together. The innkeeper said their room would be small.

Their room.

It was embarrassing to admit to herself. Having made little progress to find her family here… every moment spent with him was a moment lost from doing what she knew she needed to do… but couldn’t move forward in doing it all. Completing it all. Understanding it all.

The harder part of it was that she didn’t want Caspian to worry about her. She didn’t want him to care for her. She didn’t want him to trust her. Why? Because it would mean that she’d be pulled away from a deep, burning drive to—

“Hey,”

That voice. She looked up into his eyes and her own ability to speak became tangled in a web of complex emotions that she just couldn’t bring herself to name.

The kiss was sudden.

Out of the blue.

She felt claustrophobic. A fear she had no idea existed in her.

Worst of all… she was frozen.

Caspian pulled back. Rohka knew… from her times at the HIP… another kiss would tell her exactly how a night would go. Another kiss… especially one where she kisses back…

It would tell her where on the scale she would be on… between whether she would feverishly enjoy it or whether she would be filling a need.

The problem that struck so immediately in her mind was that he made no clear statement about his intention with her. She was confused, slightly worried, and frankly tired of guessing at his emotions. Was he playing with her? Testing her? The trust she felt with him was enough to be here together… alone, for Rhysol’s sake. However…

The sybil continued to stay silent as he spoke, pulling the cord out of her hair when he said ‘we don’t have to do anything’. She tied it up again, tighter this time, hoping no more of her hair would come loose. It had a habit of doing that. She was too lazy to braid it all at that moment. Pulling her belongings into the room and taking off her own boots, she then sat on the corner edge as he splayed out on the bed.

“A kid?” Rohka’s brows raised, tucking her legs to the side, leaning her weight onto the palm that rested next to his feet. It was the way he said it. She wondered what his thoughts were around kids. Children.

“Wow,” she tilted her head, trying to get a better look at his expressions on the matter. “Must be nice though, to have family show up like that. I’m still trying to find mine here, to be honest. Were they apart for long, Shiress and her nephew? And why a madhouse? Sorry—” Rohka went up to scratch her brow, then looked around the room, avoiding his gaze.

“We don’t have to talk about it. You said you’re glad you’re out.” She stood up and began to walk around, noticing the decor, the walls, the small painting of a sunrise over mountains. The room smelled a tad funny, so she opened the shutters to let some fresh air inside. As she breathed it in, she smiled. Whatever he was willing to share, she would listen, all while beginning to unpack and find the closet and drawer space to organize their things.

Rohka remembered that he’d asked if it was okay for them to lie there. On the bed. Together. She wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with that quite yet. A part of her was more than willing to sleep on the floor, to avoid any semblance of trouble. She wasn’t about to bring it up just then, but hoped instead that she’d get comfortable somehow, soon enough…

…with whatever they both decided.

“Hey, Cas?” She called out, after putting away most of their things. “There’s a weird smell coming out of this closet,” she chuckled sardonically, wondering if there was rotting food stashed inside by previous guests. She opened the wooden door.

In front of her view was a mass covered in dirtied cloth, wrapped up, tied with rope, leaning against the side of the closet in a crumpled form… as if…

Rohka grimaced, gagging, shutting the door immediately.

What the petch did I just see?

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The Rendezvous

Postby Caspian on July 24th, 2021, 11:26 pm

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“The brat is rabid for Rhysol. I caught him praying over his supper – just downstairs at the tavern, actually. Would have been hauled away by the Wave Guard and stuck in some halfway house if I hadn’t stepped in, or wherever they cart the orphans here. And then somehow we got into a barfight? Things got a bit less heroic for me after that.”

He stumbles a bit over his words towards the end, smiles nervously, trying to diffuse the tension. He had hoped for a stronger reaction to his kissing her, felt a bit of a pang go through him when she had only acquiesced. That’s his fault – he’d let himself get dizzy thinking about today, and perhaps he should have asked first. But she hasn’t run away screaming; is, to his surprise, sitting beside him on the bed, her body curved like a willow whip, casting long, elegant shadows across the room.

“Shiress had never met him before,” Caspian replies to her question. “Didn’t even know he existed, actually. This is a secret, but – I don’t not like him. I wish I’d been half as clever at his age. Calling it a madhouse is because – well, there’s…” He frowns and counts on his fingers. “Seven people in the house now, including Shiress’ baby Ian? Eight, really, if you count Shiress’ new beau.” Expression darkening, he adds, “His name’s Nolan, or so he claims. I’m never sure what is or isn’t true when it comes out of his mouth. Also? He’s terribly good-looking, and the bastard knows it.”

They haven’t spoken of Rohka’s family in too much detail, though he thinks back to her sharing that she too has Vantha blood. “Hmm, when was the last time you saw yours? Do you know where they work? And how many people would that be? I’d be happy to dig around for you. If you like.”

As she crosses the room, he watches her shadow twist and bend like ribbon.

The whole day may be going how they planned, but it isn’t necessarily going the way he’d hoped. Though she had sat beside him and listened, he still feels, acutely, that his earlier actions had been some degree of mistake. The last thing he wants is to upset her, or make her regret for a moment their coming here at all.

Not everyone is like us, you know, Taalviel had said to him some days ago. There’s so much we can do without words.

And that’s the benefit, he’d realized, in having a sibling; in having gone through so much thick and even more thin and grown up side by side. They could have whole conversations with just a look passing between their eyes.

But he and Rohka don’t have the same blood or the years.

Yet, his brain unhelpfully supplies.

And so –

Perhaps it would do them both some good if he were to say what he means, and say it outright, about what he feels about the both of them, as a unit, as a pair, and for how long he’s held that vision close.

“Hey,” he says. She’s inspecting the room. “About earlier, ah, when we came in. I’m sorry, I realize that must have been a bit much. I’m a bit much. I mean –“ He gestures down at himself, at the spangled blue jacket and trousers his magical suit’s draped him in now. Which in immediate retrospect he sees is a silly move, and he stammers, fiddling with the embroidery on the bedspread. “The thing is, about you and I, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, about you a lot, and I wanted to tell you that I – “

Smoking for so many years had dulled his sense of smell. But Rohka had opened the closet, and when she interrupts him, pointing out the stench, there’s no denying it.

“What’s the matter?” he asks when she quickly shuts the door again. The look on her face worries him, and he gets to his feet, crossing the room swiftly.

Pauses just outside the closet, hand on the handle.

“If they’ve got a rat problem I’m going to demand they upgrade our room,” he says, still aiming for some levity, though directly faced with the closet, the smell is even worse. “Sometimes vermin just choose a dark corner to curl up and die in and – “

He opens the closet door, and immediately clamps a hand over his nose.

In the corner, slumped against the wall, is a bundle of rough cloth tied in rope.

The bundle, approximately and disturbingly, is the size and shape of a person.

He pauses, looks at Rohka.

Back at the heap that had been waiting for who knows how long in the dark.

The thing is –

He knows what that smell is. What it means. Had learned it from a very young age. People died all the time in Sunberth, alone and neglected and forgotten, unnoticed until the sun on the stench grew so unbearable that someone finally came to cart the poor sod away. So often they looked just like the thing in their closet.

A wilted heap of rags.

He reaches out, puts his arm between the reeking mass and Rohka. Backs them slowly away from the closet. It’s not like it’s going to rear up and attack – it’s not going to do anything anytime soon – but the instinct takes hold.

“Rohka,” he says quietly, “get the innkeeper. Please. I’ll wait here.”

As she leaves, he feels a dread chill come across him. He can’t help but look over his shoulder. There’s no one else here, no possible place someone could hide. He checks under the bed anyway. Nothing but dust.
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The Rendezvous

Postby Rohka on September 14th, 2021, 5:42 pm

Rohka smirked warmly, her head cocked to one side, hearing Caspian speak of the boy and his faith.

When he spoke of the beau though, she blinked quickly, nodding slowly, looking down at the covers of the bed before looking off into the distance, reflecting over Caspian’s impression of the man. “It’s hard when they’re good-looking,” she says, simply. It was one of the rare times Rohka didn’t expand upon her thoughts. Having been thankful thus far, and hearing him speak of another man, Rohka began to drift in wonder of why Caspian cared to speak of this ‘Nolan’ at all. Was it a simple case of envy? She wasn’t sure how to reassure the man laying in front of her about his looks without coming across as…

well, a fool.

As gracefully as always, Caspian changed the topic to ask of her family.

“I haven’t seen any family since I arrived.” The answer was said solemnly as she unpacked. “I remember something about needing to find the Graceys, a shipping company, but that’s on my mothers side. I have practically no idea from my father’s side that I can recall right now, other than the grief over his distantly related peoples. I have a bracelet that can help me remember but I…”

Her voice trails off. She couldn’t tell if he noticed. He catches her attention.

Brings up the kiss.

Her heart quickens.

She distracts him with her observation.
Then she opened the closet.

He gets to her.
Then he opens it too.

She follows his directive.

____

As she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her, she could feel the familiar phantom fog in her mind, so the sybil began to breath deeply. In, then out. Slow. Just meditate, she thought, hoping it would help. She focused on the floors. The railing. The candlelight. But even the flickering flame was setting her off into a disturbed sense of panic.

Rohka suddenly remembered the face of the boy at the temple. The wisdom in his young gaze. The determination in his proclamation.

Her heart was racing, maddeningly. Like it could burst at any moment, spilling fresh blood out into a mess that would surround herself entirely until she would need to swim across the ocean of her deep seated devotion.

The image of a red sea appeared and disappeared as she walked up to the innkeeper.

“Hi, I’m a guest, just recently moved in, was in the middle of unpacking, went to the closet, found something there that I think you or your staff should see? Happy to take it out myself but I’m worried it might affect your business if it’s not just an us thing, so can you please take a look?”

“Whoa honey, slow down. Take a deep breath. It’s probably a rat that the new guy hasn’t cleaned up yet. He’s been slow, but we’re giving him a second chance though ‘cause he’s showing promise. The guy’s an ass and knows it, but we like his spirit around here. I’ll come take a look first. You’re okay? Need something to help calm you down?”

“I’m good, I’ll just have water if that’s alright. Sorry to hear about the new guy,” answered Rohka.

The strong-browed woman that spoke to her was wearing a warm-toned orange head wrap that covered all of her hair completely. Her high cheekbones and beautifully aquiline features reminded her a bit of Vanessa from the Malt House. The sybil accepted a drink of water before leading the way back to their room.

“Ma’am—“

“No please, call me Serra. Don’t worry, we’ll have it all taken care of for you so you can rest easy. I have you booked in, you’ve payed, you deserve the comfort that the World’s End promises. Which, I swear, is a living with ease without the burdens of luxury.” The owner paused, reflecting, then continued. “Well, if you consider food a luxury, then we’re able to provide that plentifully. No burden at all.”

Rohka smiled, glad to hear of the owner speak about her business, feeling the genuine passion she had for caring about the guests in her inn.

And yet, she couldn’t shake the creeping suspicion that crawled up the back of her neck.

The sybil’s tail wrapped around her own waist as she stood before the door.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

“Hey,” she called out to Caspian, knocking on the door. “I brought the innkeeper like you asked. Want to bring out the thing in the closet?”

Rohka turned to the owner and scrunched her face, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I can help you bring up some cleaning supplies.”

“No, please, relax.”

Pursing her lips, she glanced at the decor on the outer walls. Seashells, strung up and hung over every door. The sybil shook her head slightly, pulling at the threads in her aura to read Serra to the best of her ability.

It was immediate. There was a pain. In her back. Whether physical or betrayal, it was hard to tell. The color around her was grey with hints of orange. The orange seemed natural to her.

The grey did not.

“Serra,” she began, the sybil trying to get out the words before Caspian opened the door. “It’s not as bad as you think.”

The owner shot her a look. One that broke through the visage of business-friendly performance. She could pick up on it now. The lingering smell. A flurry of memories passed through the owner’s mind, of past guests, in this room. Rohka couldn’t tell if it was regret or frustration that flew across the women’s features, but there was something there. Something being hidden.

“If it’s what I think it is,” began Serra, her voice as low and thick as the muds of marsh. “I’ll need to warn my staff. Clear it out. Find anything that remains elsewhere so that no one finds out about this.”

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