Closed To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Alric Lysane on November 30th, 2021, 7:31 am



The whole thing was destabilising now, flickering and dying, providing random bursts of information and scene instead of whole scenes, rich and vibrant in their weavings. The tea was wearing off and he had yet to discover what had happened to his parents and this new information about Tazrae that pulled at his curiosity and the need to find out for her sake. He tried to drag it all back, his entire being pulling at the receding horizon as if he could will it back into being. It was impossible but he tried anyway, he had never let something being doomed to fail stop him when it mattered to him.

It dragged him instead, into darkness and nothingness, floating there for a while, feeling his body slowly come back to him. There were no colours here, just a nothingness. Perhaps it was the world between where they physically lived and where the drug brew had sent them? He filed that away for alter thought as sensation started to return. He was left with her last words to ponder – he was no joke. He was not sure he agreed, perhaps in time. After a lifetime of viewing himself in low places his mind rebelled at the new ideas now crammed into his mind. He loved her view of him, he supposed after what she had done for him, he owed it to her to at least try to see himself the same way – or as close as he could.

But another time, he knew, as things started rushing past him, the darkness moving rapidly despite there being no light to show it – he could feel it. It was as if a massive wind rushed him along and at the end, he was slammed back into his body properly. His eyes were closed but he could feel a slight wetness on his cheeks, his body had cried a little after all despite his thinking himself unable to whilst upon the journey. There was a weight upon his legs that he didn’t remember, and his forehead was pressed to something. Had he somehow managed to move in the real world too? He knew two things before he opened his eyes – he was colder than before and he felt bone tired, as if he had been running around all day and only now had found a chance to rest.

Evening he found when he opened his eyes finally, lids still slightly heavy and having to blink a few times before the world swam into focus. He felt the pressure on his forehead release and then return and her words, real world words now, spoken aloud. His ears adjusted and no longer were there strange echoes to the sounds around them – the fire crackled and spat. He could only agree with her, he had experienced nothing like it. His eyes focused and was graced with the vision on her face, it was the best awakening he could remember having had. As he finally became aware of where they were, she in his lap and forehead to forehead, he froze momentarily hoping he wasn’t taking advantage…but then relaxed moments later.

We just went…somewhere…literally joined together with light…I think that boundary seems to have been crossed already he thought, simply enjoying the closeness for a while, reassured by her presence. There was so much to consider but he’d rather put it off for a while, this moment was better.

He felt her breath upon his face, warm and regular gusts, and realised that for all his adventurous nature he had never actually adventured into this realm with another. He did what he had wanted to do in her father’s inn and put his arms around her, the one who had pushed him to discover what he had given up discovering. He relaxed into the moment and for a time there was nothing but their breathing and the sounds of the fire slowly dying. She was warm and, despite her toned frame, softer than he had imagined. Truly he could never have predicted that this was where he would end up at the beginning of the day. He’d never have taken that bet, likely bet against it, and he would have happily paid his losses.

This is something...but yes...yes it was...I am not sure I could have done it without you,” he responded with eventually, opening his eyes and looking into those turquoise pools, seeing her smile and smiling in return, “thank you, oh divine one, for being my courage for this, I have no words to describe how much it means to me” he finished, tilting his head to place a kiss upon her forehead.

He hoped it was not too forwards, there was no other way of expressing the depth of what she had helped him retrieve. The memories were scratching at the back of his mind and he could feel as if some doors were now opened besides from the crystal clear one’s he had experienced during the memory journey. He had no riches, even if his family had had them, and he had no magic items like his father had had to give her. Not that he thought she would accept them or even see it that way, she was not that kind of person.

He sighed a contented sigh, for the first time in a long time things felt good.



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Alric Lysane
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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on December 1st, 2021, 1:20 am

Other senses were starting to return. She’d forgotten, for a moment, what it was like to be bones encased in flesh with vital organs in her center. Her pounding heart was reminding her of unsubtle beats. They had gone from light and energy - that was so much more freeing - to something vastly different and far more constrained. Her physical form was more complex than the light body had been. It had more needs, like the growling of her stomach and the aching fatigue that was starting to set in. Alric being there was not even remotely an intrusion. His arms around her were comforting and reassuring, reminding her how to be in a body again. A grin slowly crawled across her face at that thought even as he rested his forehead against hers for a long breath, then a long series of breaths.

It took Tazrae time to realize she was sitting on his lap, more kneeling than anything, with a knee to either side of his thighs. She inhaled his breath, curious, feeling out the energy that surrounded him. She’d only been this close to one other human, and that was the day of her initiation into Reimancy and the world's gift to her of fire. That had been intense, just as this had been, but in far different ways.

Tazrae was starting to believe the whole of her life would be intense. This was not an initiation into anything though, and no one had almost died. But it felt like she’d unraveled and had been put back together again without a scratch.

Her hands gripped Alric’s shoulders gently, steadying her perch on his lap. She glanced around carefully, wondering how that had come about, and smiled slightly at only one corner of her mouth. A moment later, teeth flashed, and she laughed quietly and spontaneously as if she couldn’t help it.

“We’re both foundlings, living outside what should have been our true lives.” She mused softly, leaning back and away from him not to put distance between the two of them, but to see all of his face at once. He spoiled the view by leaning forward to softly kiss her forehead, speaking aloud of her what she was silently thinking of him. “You a Nymkarta and I a… Benshira.”

Slowly she nodded, released his shoulders, and reached up to trace the line of his cheek with a tip of one finger. “We need food. Then we need sleep. And then I think we should talk about what we learned and trade impressions.” Tazrae suggested. She traced the line of his nose then, down across his lips, and circled his chin. It wasn’t really a flirtatious gesture. Instead, it was as if she were memorizing him with her touch; reaffirming he was a human body not a body of light and color. Finally, her hands dropped back down to his shoulders. She shifted then, carefully removing herself from the precarious perch that had pinned him down.

“Can you procure drinks?” She suggested softly, then gestured in the rough direction of the courtyard. “I think the Inn will provide them if requested. Shall I go for food?” The Innkeeper added, finding it annoying suddenly that the suite didn’t have a fully stocked kitchen and a stove to cook upon. Cooking for him would have made her happy, satisfying that ever-present need to caretake Tazrae seemed to be born with. Going out to get food would have to do. At least there were vendors nearby.

She stood then, careful not to hurt him or touch him overly much. The Innkeeper had already taken too many liberties in the name of curiosity. Those light exploratory touches had given her ideas that were rather unwelcome given their current situation. They were, after all, almost complete strangers to each other. That idea – of being a complete stranger to him and him to her - made her smile. Taz thought, at that moment, it would be a lot of fun getting to know Alric.

But friendship was all they could have, realistically, living halfway across the world from each other. Why had they met now? Here? Tazrae had more questions than answers and she told herself to keep it casual… food, rest, more talking. No touching. Maybe a visit to a Dreamwalker later? There were still questions she wanted answers to. And she wondered if Alric had the same thoughts.

Taz searched for and found her sandals, then scooped up her backpack and paused to try and tame the curly mane that was her hair. After a moment of fussing in front of an ornate wall mirror, she gave it up as a lost cause, and quietly slipped out the door. She wouldn’t be gone long, returning in less than ten chimes with a large armful of street food – bread wraps stuffed with a bunch of different grilled meats, vegetables, and an assortment of sauces. She also filled one of the Inn’s decorative bowls with fruit, obviously purchased from a stand outside the Inn, and then set down candied dates and nuts, filling a different decorative ceramic bowl.

She had banana leaves as plates and dished herself out a helping of the meal as she waited for Alric to pour whatever beverage he’d decided was appropriate. Then she’d eat, quietly, and diligently for she was mage enough to know that after such workings food would be grounding, helping each individual to rebalance their djed after so much was used. The tea was supposed to be a pharmaceutical, a drug, but Taz knew whatever was in that tea had a magical component as well. It was as obvious to her as the day was to night. But she skipped pointing that out to Alric. She still didn’t know where he stood on magic other than his healthy suspicion of mages being a son of Sunberth.

When the meal had been consumed in companionable silence, she left it up to Alric whether he wanted to talk first or get some sleep. The suite had plenty of room for both of them to find a spot to curl up and snooze. Its large bed dominated one wall, but there were also equally comfortable couches before the fire. Taz took advantage of the time they ate to build the fire back up. She restacked fresh logs so they would burn down and feed the fire for multiple bells, keeping the place lit with firelight and pleasantly warm without being stifling in the Outpost’s heat.

Truth be told, Tazrae was still taking in everything. Alric’s life had been startling enough. The secret his parents kept was stunning. But her own life, being not what she thought it was, made her shaky and put in her an instability she couldn’t readily describe. What she thought growing up was all a lie. Her mother was not her mother. Was her father her real father? Nothing made sense. And how would that impact her future? Did it change anything about her life now? She loved the jungle… had embraced its life as her own. She wasn’t a person of the Burning Sands in a land far to the southeast. This quest had been for Alric, not for herself. The revelations she’d learned about her own past were accidental. What did it change for her? What did it change for him? Was this where they cross paths, shared discoveries, and parted again forever?

Tazrae was suddenly afraid of that exact scenario. As she fingered a candied date then nibbled quietly on it, the young Innkeeper knew she didn’t want to give up her new friend.

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Tazrae
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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Alric Lysane on December 1st, 2021, 5:19 am



"I don't know if I can get used to that name," he chuckled in response, it was impossible not to seeing her so impulsive in mirth, "but Benshira...they seemed alright. Good dancers, very good dancers. Much like you, they seemed a decent sort"

He nodded as she pushed herself off of him, feeling somewhat lesser for the lack of her touch but thankful for the memory of their closeness – however brief – that he would keep. He had grinned as she had traced his face, he was not sure what was so interesting about his, but he wouldn’t have much difficulty remembering hers. He sighed as he levered himself up and pushed himself to his feet, feeling his legs tingle as blood flow returned and his body grew used to moving once more. Upon reflection it was not surprising, they must have been sat in the same position for quite some time. Still, as he left her to no doubt gather herself as he felt the need to do also, there was a sadness.

Stepping out into the world he found there to be more people around in the courtyard than there had been before. They all seemed to be drinking the same drink he noted, a red liquid from a rather fancy glass. Wine he thought as he drew closer. Remembering Taz’s question he decided that he might as well try it for himself for once, this was becoming a day of firsts and he saw no reason to stop that. Seemed to him everything was aligning to make it that way at any rate and Lhex wasn’t someone he wanted to get on the wrong side of.

Though given the revelations perhaps I already have he noted to himself with a slight shiver as he approached what seemed to be the bar and, showing them the key, managed to procure two bottles and a couple glasses upon a tray. The wine was from Riverfall too…he shook his head at the synchronicity.

When he returned Taz was not there, but he trusted she would return, though there was a momentary panic before he reassured himself. Instead he poured two glasses and set them on a table that he moved to be nearer the fire. It was not long before she returned, laden with enough food for four but strangely he felt ravenous, his appetite managing to match the amount provided. She was certainly good at reading people for such things, a talent likely developed at her inn he reasoned. He dug in alongside her, eating the larger things first until there was little left between their appetites.

Though I still feel hungry…strange…must be the tea. They did say it hit hard and they weren’t lying he thought to himself as he picked up what was told was a candied date after inquiry.

“Ooo, this is nice” he said, surprise at the delightful taste ruining his manners as he spoke with his mouth open before realising and shutting it and swallowing with an apologetic grin.

Taz started to build the fire up again, he felt somewhat bad as she was the one doing all of the looking after, and he felt sure she had her own inner turmoil after their journey. He knew that performing simple tasks could help though and so he said nothing. Next time he would look after her, assuming there was a next time. He knew they had agreed to meet again already but that had been before their tea journey and the knowledge of where he had come from. He was…dangerous…now. Dangerous to be around. People didn’t need to know the word Nymkarta to know that killing the bloodline responsible for the Valterrian was akin to justice. He pushed that to the back of his mind and took a handful of dates whilst Taz was busy.

Touring the rooms they had for the night he started to juggle the candied dates, every so often throwing one up into the air to catch it in his mouth and there to savour the delightful taste. It took him some time between the eating and touring to realise he was intermittently humming the tune from the Benshira music and stepping in time with the beat. He shrugged and carried on after realising, it was an enjoyable melody, anything to distract from the enormity of the thoughts that would inevitably play out eventually. Dates finished he picked up a chair and wedged it under the door as he was accustomed to doing, using his key to lock it and leaving it half-turned to partially deter any lockpickers. It was habit more than anything else, and old habits died hard.

He returned to the low couch and finished the glass he had poured earlier in one go before pouring another and reclining back, it felt like the time to have a few drinks after all. Everything he had thought he knew had been turned upside down, and though he had little experience in that area, he felt sure there was supposed to be a time of drinking after to put a salve over the wound. It would have to come off eventually but for now he could get happily merry enough to fall asleep. Still, he frowned into the dark red tones of his glass.

“I know a lot more now than I did yesterday…probably things I may live to pay a price for one day…” he said softly, “and I know my parents are probably dead…but it didn’t show me their fate. Perhaps it is buried deeply, too deeply for tea” he continued he left the question in the air, its implication clear.

“This has not been easy for you either, I might be rough around the edges but I’m not heartless. You don’t have to go to the Dreamwalker if you don’t want to,” he said, knowing what her answer would likely be, “but you do, and always will, have my support if you need it. For anything, you only have to ask and I will help, as much as I am able”

“I’ll be going, I can’t not. Not now, I have to follow this to the end. I need to understand and know, if only for closure, to try to make it easier to figure out where I go from here,” he snorted at his foolishness, “though where I go…I do not know. Everything I lived and thought seems to have been made a lie, or an irony” he sighed, looking at her for a while, searching her face for how she felt, if she were okay, before watching the flames in the hearth.

Truthfully, he wanted her to come with him, he had not been lying when he had thanked her for being his courage. He could probably have figured out how to do this, years ago, but deep down he had always known there was a fear of not getting the ‘right’ answers. She had helped him overcome that and that was probably more precious than she would ever know. She would be his friend until he no longer drew breath, which he hoped fervently was a long time indeed.

As he watched the flames dance, he did wonder what would become of them. It was one thing to share an adventure but what fervour was stirred by such things could soon die. He would not blame her, though it would sadden him, if she forgot about him over time. She had an inn to run and plans for the future, a town to build and people to look after. Not to mention the whole Guardian thing. She was likely kept busy daily and he did not fancy himself so memorable as to stand in the way of her ambitions. He drank deeply and was lost to the fire for a time.

It was easier than trying to figure out who he even was anymore.

"I can imagine you know how I feel," he said quietly, "I am not sure I know who I am anymore. Though to be honest I wasn't much of anything before...perhaps I should change that. Still...we can talk tomorrow if you wish instead, no doubt you are tired. You can have the bed if you like. I will...keep watch over the fire"


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Alric Lysane
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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on December 2nd, 2021, 1:38 am

Tazrae looked thoughtful at what Alric said. “Names have power, Alric. Be it what we think is my real name or that you are Nymkarta. The very existence of them evokes power.” She added, shaking her head and pushing a wayward curl out of her face. She tucked it behind an ear, but left the rest of her mess of curls alone. At his next statement, about the dancing, she shook her head with a laugh. “I’ve never ever danced a day in my life. Some Benshira I am.” She said, meaning it. The landscape had been beautiful and it had felt… somehow soothing and familiar. But it didn’t feel like home. Not really. Her home was rich with life, not stark and void. To her, after knowing the jungle, the desert could never be home.

They made plans, parted ways, and were back together again within the bell. Tazrae should have been itching to head home, to check in, but instead she wanted to linger. A long time ago she’d vowed to herself never to lie. That included lying to herself. And in that moment, if she were completely honest, she’d say she wanted to linger because of him. He was different, intense, but in a way that was new to her and unique.

Alric brought back Riverfall wine and Tazrae silently applauded his choice. She loved the wines of that city. Syka even imported them when James made his trips across the Suvan to trade with the sister city. He went a couple of times a season and Tazrae always put in a wine order when he sailed. She paid for it with relics, finds on the beach, and jungle harvests.

The light in the world waned, and Tazrae was glad of her power. With her back to Alric, she lit a single tapir with a tendril of res she expressed from a fingertip. There was a show of reaching into her pocket beforehand, as if pulling a match or flint and steel out. But the candle was lit with a chime of concentration and a flicker of power. She was a novice and lacked true control over anything bigger, but her candle lighting abilities would pass scrutiny. She used the one lit candle to light the others, augmenting the glowing fire so the room was not cast in shadow but bathed in candlelight.

She liked the ambiance of the coming night intermingled with the warmth and smell of beewax candles. It was one she had enjoyed in Riverfall, though Syka lacked the climate for it. No one shut their homes up where she was from. Her Inn didn’t even have glass windows. There were shutters when it stormed, but otherwise clear night air blew through each and every structure raised in the Settlement and that meant every light had to come from a brazier or an enclosed lamp. Tiki torches could be used outside, but were far too unpredictable inside. The night brought relief from the heat with its cooler winds, but that respite only carried so far. There was such a thing as too hot to sleep and Tazrae knew it well. Here in The Outpost, the temperatures fell to comfortable levels when the sun went down. It was something Tazrae appreciated outright.

She nodded to Alrics comments about the dates. Whomever had decided to dip fruit – even dried fruit – in sugar was a genius. It was sweet without being cloying and tickled a spot in her that Taz hadn’t know itched. The wine did the same thing, refreshing her throat and mouth and making it somehow easier to speak.

“Yes.” She said, nodding, as Alric explained that he was going to see the Dreamwalker. “We have to go. Both of us. I can feel it.” She added, somehow not ashamed to make these statements in front of him. “I don’t think its buried like you think though. I think Dreamwalkers do something else entirely. We’ll know tomorrow if he has time to see us.” She added, uncertain and suddenly a little afraid. The fear was good though, healthy, and it meant she would be cautious and untrusting.

Alaric’s other words caused her to nod. Somehow, even with him having spoken them, Taz had already known he would support her. She felt the same about him, though she said nothing in kind. She wasn’t a parrot wanting to repeat his words back to him. If she knew what he said to be truth, then he hopefully knew that she felt the same as well.

“I don’t think it’s a lie. I think two very talented people worked very hard to make sure you’d survive. And I think two other people… maybe a third… made very sure that you’d never know your birthright or your family’s history. Remember, Alric… you aren’t responsible for the Valterrian. You aren’t responsible for anyone’s actions but your own. Only what you do, think, say… only those things matter.” She added. “Your word, your actions, your honor… that’s what matters.” She amended, meaning those things and those things alone… not his family’s history.

As she finished lighting the candles, Tazrae didn’t seem inclined to settle. She roamed the room restlessly, touching the décor, the burnished walls, and seemed to look at every item as if seeking hidden meaning or perhaps even feeling out its intent.

“I’m glad we are going to be there together. I can’t explain it, but it feels right that we do these things together.” She added, glancing at him over her shoulder, to where she’d been examining a gilded mirror and its carved exterior. Taz found the thing garish, overwrought, and out of place in the room that should be stately elegance. Smiling at her rudeness of thought, she walked on, finally coming full circle to grab a handful of candied nuts and tossing them into her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully, and went to the small desk where her backpack rested. She pulled out a small leather journal, a vial of ink, and several quill pens. Then she carried the lot of it back to where the bed was, picked a side, and propped up the tables. She laid out the writing materials on the nightstand and kicked off her sandals before she climbed up onto the bed and made herself comfortable leaning back against the cushions.

She opened the vial of ink, dipped the pen in it, and opened the blank journal to the first page. Quietly she began writing, recording everything she could remember from the tea fueled trip. “We need to record all this, while its still fresh in our mind, then come up with a list of questions to ask the Dreamwalker.” She added, then patted the opposite side of the bed.

“Don’t be ridiculous. This mammoth bed is big enough for ten people. We can share. I have no worry that you’ll ravish me in the night. We’ve been alone all day and you’ve been nothing but a gentleman. Besides, we need clear heads for the Dreamwalker. Good sleep will give that to us.” She added, hoping he would relax and join her on the bed. Any man from Syka would, thinking nothing of it. But his Sunberth sounded vastly different than her settlement. People mistrusted and didn’t want to be vulnerable there. In Syka, the entire population would have crawled in and talked long into the night with no worry of anything out of place come morning. So Tazrae infused the situation with a level calm head and started to prompt him into talking about his experience with the tea – what he saw, felt, heard – anything that was important. She did it immediately and forcefully so he would move past the awkwardness of modesty she didn’t feel.

Then she took notes, fast with her pen, trying to capture every thought and impression Alric uttered when and if he joined her and agreed to the endeavor. Then, when he was finished, Tazrae wrote down her own impressions and what she thought and felt of the whole experience. Done writing, she handed him the journal to read so he hopefully get a bigger more encompassing picture which was her goal.

As he read, Tazrae shifted, drawing her knees up and resting her chin on the top of her knees as she casually circled her legs with her arms. The gesture made her look very young, thoughtful, and vulnerable. But instead of giving into the worry she felt, she sighed, shrugged it off, and regrouped. “We have to be ready when we meet the Dreamwalker.” She mused quietly, not wanting to interrupt his reading. He had her journal, so she couldn’t start writing questions down… but she got to thinking about them anyhow.

The first obvious questions were if Alric’s parents were alive and what had happened to bring him from their care to the men’s custody who had dumped him at the orphanage. Was he being actively hunted now? If so, why? On her side of it, she wanted to know if her father was actually her real father and if not, who was. Who was her mother for that matter? Why was she a child of the Gods? A hundred other questions flitted through her mind on butterfly wings. She attempted to distract her mental wanderings by sneaking a glance sidelong at Alric to judge his expression.

He was handsome. He was also wholesome, which was a rare combination. In Tazrae’s experience, both never occurred in the same man unless one was artificial. And unfortunately, that false part of the person usually ended up being the wholesomeness. She already had guessed he had very little to his name and even less of a future if he stayed in Sunberth. It was a place in life she herself had been when she’d boarded The Veronica completely penniless and at the whims of three Founders in a Settlement that wasn’t even big enough to call itself a city.

Tazrae sighed deeply – half relief and half joy - at the thought. Risks were worth taking. That had been the lesson she’d learned leaving Riverfall and setting out for places unknown. Trust had been another lesson she’d learned quickly. There were times you had to trust people you didn’t know.

Why were people after him? His bloodline was special, but what could it do for others? And while she liked the looks of him, what she liked even more was his values. He hadn’t spoken in depth about his beliefs, but his actions spoke louder than words to her. He distrusted even disavowed magic, and Taz had a sinking feeling if he found out she was any sort of mage, that would be game over. It felt a lot like lying to him by not telling him, but she desperately wanted him to not judge her before he got to know her.

Something in her knew she needed him. She hoped he needed her. And while she’d tagged along a great deal, he hadn’t seemed to mind. With him, she hadn’t felt like the Innkeeper everyone looked to for hospitality and comfort. She’d felt like an individual and not an idea. It was hard to be something other than an idea, especially in Syka, when that idea was safety and comfort. Shelter. She was shelter incarnate, and in so many ways she hated that because no one ever looked past that aspect of her life to see what else was there.

It was going to be hard to see a Benshira when she looked in the mirror. It was also difficult to accept the hateful woman she’d grown up knowing was not her actual mother. She wanted it to be a relief… but instead it was almost a nightmare. How had she grown to adulthood not realizing the truth? And what about her father? He was so loving, always being there for her. Who was he to her actually? Should she truly be desert bred and among the sands? Tazrae would have told anyone who said thusly of her that they were completely insane. She was a woman of the jungle now, one of the guardians, and the woman who planted the flowers at Kihala’s shrine.

Her mind turned back to Alric.

She wondered what questions Alric would ask, and indeed if he’d be fine curling up with her for some much-needed rest. She was tired, in fact, more so than she at first realized. Yawning, she’d take back the journal and write down any questions he had for the Dreamwalker…. and add in her own. Then, she fully planned on getting some rest. She didn’t have to be back to Syka for a day or two… no ships were due and she had no guests to look after. She was going to take advantage of her break and respite from the hostessing… and have her adventure here… even if that adventure was taking twists and turns she hadn’t remotely dreamed of.

Stifling another yawn… she turned to Alric, beckoning him to hand her back the journal. “Let me write out any questions you might have…” She said thoughtfully, and dipped her pen, carefully dragged the nib up the lip of the ink bottle to wipe off the excess, and got ready to write.

But before he got to that point, she found herself speaking again – almost out of turn.

“Alric.” She said softly, then hesitated, not sure how to say what she wanted to say. “I trust you. I didn’t know you before today, but I somehow recognize you somehow. You are very comforting and familiar to me, even if we just met. I need this… this time with you. I think we both need to go through this together. I don’t know the why of it. But I do know its somehow important. I… its hard to explain.” The Innkeeper paused then, regathering her thoughts. She needed him to understand.

After a few breaths, she continued. “In Syka, I am an idea. I know that sounds crazy and probably makes no sense. But the jungle is treacherous. It can be very deadly. Even skilled strong people with knowledge of the wilds don’t often find survival easy there. So, when you have a building… like an Inn… and you are an Innkeeper… you become an idea rather than a person. I am safety and shelter. I am food and a roof that stops the rain. I am the comfort of a fire and the full belly after a warm meal. I am the idea of all of that. I know it sounds crazy. But I am rarely just Tazrae. I lose myself in being the idea instead of the person. This time with you… has helped me find myself. This person that I am… that I’ve always been. Just Tazrae.” She paused then, not sure where she was going with this.

“I need your friendship in a way I don’t think I’ve ever needed anything in life before. It makes me sound desperate and weak, but I swear I am not. I can stand on my own two feet and be the best company for myself all day long. I don’t need anything from anyone because I can do for myself.” She paused, then took a long breath.

“And that being said… I still need you. I know it as I know the sun will rise in the morning and the moon will be almost full tonight.” She added, her cheeks darkening to a deep dark coral, the only red of embarrassment her olive golden skin could manage. “I wanted to say that… so it is out there. Before anything else… before this Dreamwalker. Today changed a great many things for me. Tomorrow, when we meet him, I think more things will be learned and our lives will be changed even more. But I will still need you, even then.” She said softly.

“And I wanted to say… I will be here for you if you need me. Now, tomorrow, even in the future; I will be here. I mean that.” Tazrae said, knowing she’d have to figure out a way to get messages via the Outpost to him and perhaps a way for him to keep in touch with her. If that is, he wanted to and felt the same way.

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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Alric Lysane on December 2nd, 2021, 10:07 am



He nodded as he looked into the fire, not sure if he fully believed but still appreciating that she made the effort to offer her opinion on the matter of blame and lineage. He suspected that even if he agreed the whole way that it wouldn’t really matter to many across the lands. Any symbol of the suffering that could be exorcised would be a nice release for some. The irony that before the journey he had talked about being more responsible with power alongside his newly discovered lineage was not lost on him. She was right in the fact he was not personally responsible but that didn’t change the deep twisting inside him at the idea he had the same blood as those who were.

Turning it around in his mind he supposed that it made him a mage, after a fashion. Or at the very least the innate ability to be one. His lips twisted at that thought, at least until the wineglass hit them and the wine was devoured.

Then again, he was about to go and visit someone who sounded very much like a mage. The hypocrisy was also not lost upon him. Tangled webs of thought tugged and pulled him in various directions, and he was unsure as to which one to tease out first. He had told the truth when he said he didn’t hate mages, he just had never really expected to be involved with any of them – much less be of their stock. As he looked into the flames, he became aware that he was at risk of disliking himself because of who he now was. But was he different than a few bells prior? His mind told him yes but his heart told him no. It was a war that he knew would bring a reckoning. He sighed and opted not to pour another glass of wine just yet, he did not like where his mind was and the last thing he wanted to do was upset his companion.

“I can’t imagine either of them giving in, no,” he said softly, “and they were probably more skilled than I. Whatever happened, it would seem, that it must’ve been quite the event. I suppose we will find out together, as we did today”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been called a gentleman, but as the lady insists”

He pushed himself to his feet and felt the momentary rush to the head of quickly consumed alcohol and sudden movements. He looked at her for a moment, her writing things arranged and asking him to join her. She was so casual about it, as if it happened all the time. It was surprising, though given she had talked about walking around nude he supposed that it was custom in Syka. It was a lucky settlement he thought as he made his way to lay down, elbow propping up his head as he told her what he had seen. He tried not to leave anything out, the colours, the feelings, the sights. The ending. In a way it helped him settle the inner turmoil, if only for a time.

The bed was quite comfortable, though he felt somewhat like he was being eaten by it given its softness and give. In some ways telling her in his own words felt more intimate than their journey, which was strange seeing as they had been one being at times. Yet having to recount it, to think and share his inner thoughts…it was not something that came naturally and he paused many times before it was done and she had passed him her journal to read over. As he scanned the pages she seemed to go deep into thought, her position changing to one which suggested a vulnerability. Not about their sharing space but something else, her eyes had turned inwards and so he read in silence, letting her puzzle whatever it was out.

No doubt she has as many questions…I found out about my lineage but my lineage didn’t change that they were my parents…it must be difficult for her he thought quietly as he got to the end of her notes and found them to be good. He waited and passed it back when she asked for it, he gave her the time she needed.

As she started talking, words gushing out between pauses and hesitations there was little he could do but blink and listen. He wouldn’t have interrupted her anyway but from the way she spoke it seemed like it had been on her mind enough that she needed it spoken aloud. It was a nice thing to hear her say, though she seemed to worry that he would think less of her for it. That was strange as he felt much the same, though he would have put it a different way. He wanted her company, as much of it as she was willing to give. He looked at her for a little while once she was finished, wondering how best to word his thoughts.

“I do not think that you are desperate or weak. The opposite actually, you are strong and kind. If you were then you’d not have helped me. Or gone to Syka and achieved what you have achieved,” he said finally, slowly and looking her in the eyes, “sometimes we get lost in other things…not see to our needs. As far as I can see you are a caring, talented and beautiful woman. If they don’t try to let you be you often in Syka then I feel sorry for Syka, they are missing out. But the more for me then” he said, smiling slightly and noting her cheeks had darkened slightly.

“You needn’t worry, I am not going to discard whatever bond we have at the end of this meeting and journey. You know me better than anyone else and I find that idea enjoyable. I feel much the same as you do, you clearly have a way of helping discover who I am. I want to get to know you better. Besides, who am I to disagree with fate?”

“Of course, the more you learn about me the more you might change your mind” he said in a teasing tone.

There was little more he could say but he did reach out and touch her shoulder reassuringly before pulling back and trying not to feel too embarrassed. He didn’t blush, which was strange upon reflection, he was simply honest and straightforward – she deserved as much. Besides which if he did want her to be a true friend he couldn’t lie to her. He felt comfortable around her, even if she had a way of getting him to speak things and spring to action that he might otherwise not have taken part in.

Sharing did not come naturally to him, but she was right, for some reason she managed to get it out of him. He decided not to dwell upon that further given their current location and the knowledge that she saw him as a friend, perhaps a confidant. He cleared his throat gently and moved on to answering her initial question.

“I only have two questions I think, what happened to my parents and who was responsible” he said in a carefully neutral tone. She likely suspected that he had a mind to find this person and confront them but if she hadn’t then he did not wish her to have cause for concern.

He was not sure that the Dreamwalker would be able to find out, or what precisely he would do if they could. He just knew that he needed to know. He tried not to be a petty man despite the city he had spent most of his life in. He was not usually prone to violence unless necessary either. But there was something building inside him now, or perhaps it was something that had lurked deep, behind the memories, now being released. It was foreign to him, but he knew what it was – he wanted to make the men pay for what they had done. For what they had stolen from him.

This day with Tazrae had changed his life irrevocably, setting him upon a path that was radically different from the one he had been on before. He could feel it, the world shifting around him. He could even feel old attitudes and philosophies being called into question. No matter what he did from this moment onwards things would not be the same.

“I find comfort in knowing you’ll be there for me” he finished his thought with spoken words for her before twisting to lay upon his back, propped up by a large pillow now to look once more upon the fire.



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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on December 3rd, 2021, 2:25 pm

Taz studied the fire alongside Alric, her mind drifting down a separate path than his thoughts. She’d have to do some research and have a long talk with Mathias and Duncan before she did anything, but if Alric wanted to know about magic, someone should teach him a bit. She wasn’t up to inducting anyone, but she could teach him the basics of Arcanology so he at least wasn’t ignorant about the roots of the art. The odds of him finding a teacher in Sunberth seemed slim to none, and she had no idea about what he faced being Nymkarta and untrained. Knowing the world as she did, Taz suspected it made him vulnerable. If people wanted his mother’s bloodline and something had happened to her because of it, odds are they’d want his blood too. She’d never seen a man held for what he could give a woman, but she guessed it was possible.

Women, especially in Riverfall were held as broodmares all the time. Why couldn’t men be considered prime breeding stock too? Would he like that? Taz had odd ideas about the concept, growing up in Riverfall. Having never been exposed to sex before Syka, she’d always kept herself well away from men because her mother had told her someday her only option might be to sell her body for security and income so some Akalak could rise in rank having gotten a woman with child. Nakivak’s they were called. And the highest contracts went to the untouched. Her mother had stressed that over and over again. But the fancy title was nothing more than a like a broodmare status. It didn’t matter if the woman was paid fabulously and taken care of lavishly. It was still money for sex as far as Tazrae was concerned. Her lip curled at the idea.

Then she reminded herself she needed to stop thinking of her mother as her mother. They weren’t related. They couldn’t be. But who was her mother and where was she? Was she even still alive? Tazrae didn’t want to go to the desert for answers. She hoped the Dreamwalker could tell her more.

Glancing back at Alric, the young Innkeeper shoved her problems aside. They weren’t really problems and as far as she knew they had no immediate impact on her life. Alric might know who he was now, but did anyone else? Was he in danger? Had he always been in danger and just not known it? Where were the men who took him to the orphanage? It seemed to him they were the loose ends, and the story in between his birth and that moment was the story they needed to know.

“I hope we find out.” She said suddenly, afraid in that moment for Alric’s mother. If she’d just given birth, she’d be vulnerable. The was any number of things they could have done to harm or coerce her. “We know they made you. We know she gave birth to you. They were free at least that long, or as much freedom as being on the run can be.” Taz said softly, shaking her head. There was so much filling her brain. Of those things flitting through her mind, so much of it was unverified and speculative. She wanted facts, not fantasies.

She was a bit surprised he joined her on the bed. She was not surprised he made no inappropriate moves. Taz had been inside his energy, merged with it, more than once, and she felt she knew what kind of person he was now. There were a lot of layers to him, beneath the rough surface and guise of being a Sunberth citizen. She knew now he wasn’t. He was something else. But she didn’t fool herself into thinking he was something more. He was only the potential to be something more than people trying to survive an awful situation. As yet that potential was unrecognized and unfulfilled, and it was all his to do with as he wished. Those sorts of decisions were not hers to make.

She had enough trouble worrying about her own life and what she could do with it… and what she had done with it so far. There was so much more, especially in Syka, that she wanted to achieve.

Her thoughts ran circular in her head until she let most of them out, telling him how she felt about everything and what she wanted. He took it easier than most people might. Candor was not everyone’s favorite thing. But she’d lived in Syka for more than two seasons, and their ways had become her ways in many aspects. She didn’t navigate the subterfuge of the other cities well enough to have any level of comfort in them. Tazrae much preferred the habit of shucking pretentions much like they shucked clothing. It had taken her a while to appreciate it, but once she had, there was very little that could talk her into going back to previous pious habits and unspoken frustrations.

When he touched her shoulder, she turned her head to smile at him from behind the mop of wild curls. Maybe there was hope for both of them yet?

She redipped her nib, tapped off the excess ink, and wrote down Alric’s two questions. To his, she added her own. “Was my father my real father?” and “Why was I taken out of the desert and away from my mother?” She had three to his two. But she added another to Alric’s list. “Is Alric in danger, meaning do people know who he is that want to see him captured?” They were simple questions really, but ones that spanned a whole host of time and space.

When she was done writing, she left the book open for its pages to dry and went to tend the fire. She added more logs in her unusual stacking pattern so it would burn throughout the night. She made fast the locks on the doorways, and checked the windows with their iron wrought glass to make sure they did not open and there would be no intrusion. Then she used the water closet, and spent a long time washing her hands and face, even brushing her teeth. She braided her unruly hair and added an oil made from coconuts and shea harvested by her own hand. It would keep the mess from being frizzy in the morning. Then she changed behind the screen into an oversized man’s shirt made of the strange thin tough material that all of her clothing seemed woven from before she slipped into her side of the bed.

Taz wasn’t an uneasy sleeper. She could always go to sleep quickly and fall deeply into rest. The young woman woke well before sun-up and laughed at herself because there was no breakfast to make and no bread to bake this morning, and went back to sleep until the sun streaked through the thick glass windows. Then she got up, repeated a routine, and went out to procure some fruit and bread as well as a small jar of honey to break their fast before they looked for the Dreamwalker.

When Alric was up and they’d both ate, she reviewed the questions and carefully stashed all of her things in the backpack she carried. Then they hit the streets to follow the directions they’d been given to the Dreamwalker’s place.

It wasn’t a booth, it turned out, but rather an elaborate silk draped store built into the wall on the far end of the Bazaar. Tazrae got lost a time or two, but thankfully Alric was more used to people and navigating crowded streets with only a simple drawn map so they managed to make it there unscathed. When they arrived, a little boy greeted them and ushered them into a waiting room that had a plush couch and a tray of dried candied fruit slices upon it. He offered them water or wine, none of which Tazrae accepted. She had eaten her fill at breakfast and the walk hadn’t been long enough or late enough in the day to make her thirsty.

After almost ten chimes, the boy returned, beckoned them to enter, and they found a man seated in a comfortable reclined chair resting between two fainting couches that looked like they could easily hold more than one person. “Greetings. I’m Douglan. You need my services?” He asked, beckoning Tazrae to the green couch on the left and Alric to the blue one on his right. “Please, make yourself comfortable and tell me how I may help.

At this point, Tazrae felt a bit uncomfortable. It wasn’t the man himself, but rather it was the fact that she felt Alric needed to spell out clearly what he wanted from the man because all of his secrets, all of the knowledge they’d found, belonged to him and him alone. It wasn’t hers to freely give.

But the man looked at Tazrae first and she nodded thoughtfully. “We each have questions for you and things we’d like to try and discover. For me, I recently learned the woman who raised me was not the woman that gave birth to me. I’d like to know if the man who raised me was indeed my father or was he too someone that stepped in to do the job. I’d like to know if he wasn’t my real father, why he did what he did… and why I was taken away from my mother and whomever my real father was.” She added, not wanting to give the Dreamwalker any real information in case it biased his findings.

She had no idea how he worked and what he would do to them to find out. But she settled on the green couch anyhow, and with that reclined padded comfort, felt almost immediately better. Then she waited for Alric to say his piece as well.

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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Alric Lysane on December 3rd, 2021, 3:45 pm



Alric knew that he should probably be thinking about different things, about what his bloodline meant for him and whether that meant he should revisit his thoughts on mages, or magic at least. He knew that he should be more reserved about his life, and more forgiving of himself over things that he could not possibly have prevented. He knew this and a great many more things…but they were buried deep, far beneath layers of conditioned beliefs and partially reasoned justifications. Mostly, however, they were buried under the mountain that was his need to know. Until he knew what had actually happened, in its entirety, and who had thought his parents so useful, or dangerous, that they required being dealt with…his mind and heart would not let him dwell upon anything else.

It was the one island of his life that he had that he could cling to amidst the maelstrom that had smashed into him. He knew Taz would help him but he wasn’t even sure he could keep his head above the turbulent depths. He couldn’t drag her down with him there, though he doubted she would say no to doing so given what had happened over the last day. But something she had said prodded at some small stub that he had left – honour. She had mentioned honour and it would not be honourable to inflict such things upon her.

Would it be inflicted upon her though? Couldn’t I hold it back and she could just provide that little nudge? No…no it shouldn’t be risked. Not so soon after…maybe another time but not now he thought to himself as he watched the flames.

He nodded at her words and then things fell silent – they were both tired and though he wasn’t sure he would sleep too well he kicked his boots off all the same and tried to find a comfortable position. He hadn’t expected Taz to go about an evening ritual though as he watched her he supposed she was used to it, being the owner of an inn meant responsibilities. He smiled silently to himself, noting that she sent quite a while tending to her hair and washing. He supposed that it was required when you were possessed of such looks. As for himself he waited until the morning.

Sleeping proved difficult, flashes of dreams and fragmented memories causing him to toss and turn more than a few times. His eyes opened and he woke up a few times too, though thankfully Taz was a sound sleeper and so seemed to stay asleep for it all. By the time morning came he was rested but not what he could call well rested. He had waited for her to leave – though he knew not the reason until she returned with food – and had splashed water upon his face and use the water closet. The food was delicious, but he had less of an appetite for it than the prior evening with the knowledge of what lay in store. He had wondered in his waking moments if there were more questions to ask. He had decided upon one more – a roll of the dice for Ovek and Lhex to decreed.

Would I abuse this birth right? he had noted to himself not sure if Dreamwalking worked that way but hoping that perhaps they could extrapolate from their sense of him, assuming that was how they worked. He assumed so if it was anything like the tea.

The journey was uneventful if full of stops for directions and the like. The small streets reminded him of the warrens in Sunberth, though they were notably cleaner. And possessed of no fallen bodies. Arriving they waited and he felt his nerves build, his fingers tapping rhythms upon themselves as they waited…and waited for what seemed like an age. His eyes looked this way and that as concerned something was going to jump out at him. He noticed Taz was much calmer and he tried to copy her serenity, but he only got so close. Nervousness was all he could really manage. Then they were sitting, and he was being asked what he wanted. He noted Taz had been less overt with her words than with him. He followed suit as she seemed more versed in such things than he and likely knew better.

“I want to know what happened to my parents when I was taken from them, who was responsible for that and the threats to my mother, what does this ring mean” he said, pulling out and holding up his ring to the Dreamwalker, he licked his lips and sighed before continuing with his third, likely pointless, question, “and would I abuse my birth right? If that is something tellable”

It was done and there was no turning back. He looked at Tazrae once for silent support and to lend his own before he closed his eyes and tried in vain not to remain tense within his chair. If the Dreamwalker wanted more precise information he would give it before their…journey or whatever it was…but he wasn’t sure how much he should say just in case the refused to help him


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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on December 4th, 2021, 1:07 am

Douglan looked thoughtful once they’d both spoken their minds. “What you both ask is expensive and only partially possible. What I deal with are things that have already happened and lives we’ve already lived. I can’t tell the future. That is under another Goddess’ domain. I am Nysel’s servant, but these services do not come for free. It will be twenty-five gold apiece for my services. And while I can take you both together, I cannot look at both of your pasts together. We must answer one of your questions at a time. He looked at Tazrae, then Alric, as if deciding.

Tazrae had already taken out a pouch of coins from her backpack and counted out enough to cover herself. She had enough for Alric as well if he didn’t have the cost, though she wouldn’t hurt his pride by offering to pay upfront. If he had no coin, she’d count out a second measure. Her tips had been good and her income steady at The Protea, so she wasn’t afraid to spend the money. It was money well spent.

She laid the coins on the table between the lounge and the chair where the Dreamwalker sat. Then he nodded his approval of Tazrae’s wiliness to pay for his services. She sat back, relaxing, while Douglan concluded his business with Alric. Then, she was told to close her eyes and lay back, letting the fainting couch cradle her physical form.

Dougan rose, walked across the room, and sprinkled herbs onto the brazier that he kept there for heating tea. “I’m going to put a mild herbal sedative smoke into the air, allow yourself to relax, and drift off to sleep. We can’t Dreamwalk without sleep.” He said to them both, gently, in a voice that was pitched to soothe and relax. “You are safe here. This place is guarded in ways you would not understand or immediately recognize.” He said softly.

Tazrae inhaled the fragrant smoke, letting it fill her lungs, and wondered almost absently, if this was some sort of trick or drug to make her think what he did was legitimate. But the moment she felt sleep overcome her, she also felt a jolt. It was as if the man sitting between them reached out and took her hand – again that odd spiritual form that she’d only experienced previously with Alric – and jerked her sideways and out of her body. He did the same for Alric, and the three of them suddenly found themselves adrift in a starless night.

It was not dark, however, but instead was filled with a shimmering that was at first hard for Tazrae to understand. “Be with me now… close to me… this is the Chavena and it is easy for you to get lost herein,” Douglan said melodically.

Tazrae turned to look and found she could see in all directions. She floated in the void of nothing but strands of silken gold and silver that shimmered as if an unseen light reflected off them. The more she looked, however, the more she could see color and texture to the strands. They weren’t distant either. They were all around her, some touching others, some tangling with others, some cascading back into the distance and out of her view. They were beautiful, glittering, and moving like they had a life of their own.

Douglan spoke again. His words came from everywhere and nowhere at once. He didn’t have a body or a form, he was more like a presence… like Tazrae and Alric were. She could feel where the other two were, somehow connected to Douglan. “The Chavena exists as an aura or glow much like firelight around a burning campfire. The campfire itself is the Ukalas, where the Gods live and hold their power. We cannot go there… not as we are, and not without a magic that is so rare it is considered lost. Around the campfire, out past where the light of the Chavena reveals all, lies the Mortal Realm where I just left our bodies. We can journey here, like this, made of nothing but the power that stretches out, tying our lives to the Ukalas where all life originates from. Each of us has a Chavi. The Chavi make up the Chavena. They are written records of our lives… a strand of braided memory.” He said, then reached out and touched the strand that Tazrae felt was coming from her and made of her.

Instantly she was transported to that moment where she met Alric… when she’d first spoken to him and he’d answered. He’d been a stranger then, and Tazrae could feel the curiosity and surprise of the Dreamwalker that the memory was so recent, only a day ago, and yet here they were together in this endeavor. “We can move backward, through your past, do the point of your birth to find the answers you seek.” He said, and the trio began to move along the Tazrae’s Chavi. Douglan didn’t always touch it, so her whole life didn’t move backward, but he did touch enough of her Chavi for her to relive a bit of the highlights of her life.

She, standing on the beach with a tall older man, looking at him as if she was trying hard to believe his words and then responding with… “This… this is the place I would like to build my Inn.” She said to him and the man smiled. He’d nodded his affirmative, and together the pair had turned to take in the view of a beautiful tropical beach and palm trees scattered all around them. White sand touched turquoise waters and a warm wind heavy with the scent of jungle life blew backward from the land out onto the sea.

Douglan moved down her chavi – towing the pair with him - and touched it once more. Memories arose of when she was on a ship, watching Riverfall fade from view. There was sadness and hope on her face. Douglan kept moving, traveling back further along the glittery golden cord, and touched it further back where Tazrae tended an older man who lay ill in his bed. She stroked his cheek with a wet cloth and blinked back tears as the man smiled weakly at her. There were only brief snippets of her life. Taz got the impression the Dreamwalker could have worked backward touching the whole of her years and she would have relived her whole life in reverse. The chavi was long – stretching out into the distance – and Tazrae knew instinctively that it was because she’d lived many lives, being born and dying all over again. Each of them was recorded, here, in what was some sort of giant hall of records comprised of skeins of thread.

Taz started to notice things. Sometimes other chavi that weren’t her own tangled with hers, as was the case when she was tending her father, or when Randal was standing with her on the beach helping her pick the place she would build her Inn. And though she had not the power to do so, she wondered if where those chavi touched and parted if she could choose to follow the other person’s chavi, could she then see their past lives instead of her own? She had a dozen questions for Douglan in that instant, but she held her tongue watching.

He came to the place where the memory lay that she’d already seen. It was of her mother who was not her mother holding her aloft and away from her… and where her father showed his concern. Douglan slowed his rapid pace then, now that Tazrae was a babe on the chavi, and went slowly backward. She watched the memories in reverse. There was a ship that docked in Riverfall that was from somewhere south… they followed its course southward, backward in time. Strangers tended her on the ship, people she did not know. Then they came to a place where the desert touched the sea and a city rose up. She was in someone’s arms on the dock, a man’s arms, who had golden eyes and dark hair, though his hair curled just as Tazrae’s did. A woman stood beside him with Tazrae’s burnished golden skin and rare turquoise eyes. She had her arm on the man’s shoulder and was staring at the infant worriedly.

“Will her eyes darken and look like topaz gems?” The woman asked of the man, who looked thoughtfully at the babe in his arms. “If the Gods are kind, they won’t. A golden-skinned child with golden eyes will be a dead giveaway in a place like Riverfall. If there is any mercy in the world they will stay the blue yours are, Rashna.” He said thoughtfully.

The woman – her mother Tazrae thought – nodded. “Your brother will keep her safe?” She asked, her concern filling her worried gaze. The man nodded.

“He’s a good man… a strong man. He’s book-learned and has a trade. She will hopefully grow up learning that trade and stay out of the sands and out of the danger she’d find here. We have so many enemies, Rashna. And before the moon rises, we will make more. I hope we can send for her when she’s older, if we find peace among the tribes again. But until that can happen, it's best she stays out of the desert.” He said firmly, shaking his head. “I didn’t mean for you to get with child. I’m not sorry she’s here, but I’m just sorry she’s not safe.” He said firmly, then glanced at someone behind them.

That’s when Tazrae noticed there were two different parties on the dock. One was decked out in one color, with fine horses as mounts. The others had another color predominant in their group, mostly mounted on sleek healthy camels. And then it struck her as the man handed the babe over to the ship’s Captain… her mother and father were not married. They had no rings and no familiarity that married people had. In fact., the two groups standing together were tense, eyeing each other warily. Taz knew next to nothing about the desert tribes and couldn’t even begin to understand what it meant. But she got a good look at herself and saw that she was newly born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and saw that both her mother and father were young… very young. Older adults stood with them, behind them, as if they were forcing this parting.

Rashna moved forward, touched the captain on the shoulder, and leaned forward to kiss the babe one last time. Her eyes were full of tears. “Take care of my daughter. She is special… she is a child of the Gods. Her name means gifted. And she will be. My sister has seen it. She will be marked by Rhaus and become one with a far-off land. If she stays here, she will symbolize something that can never be and thus they will never let her live. Tell Marketh she must never know and she must never come south. He will know why not.” The woman said softly then backed up. She looked as if she wanted to turn to the man, but instead, the older adults behind her drew her back towards the camel-mounted group while Tazrae’s father turned back, taking the reins of his horse from someone else.

“Your questions are answered. And I can see from their chavi’s… even from here… that both still live. You did not ask me that question, but I know you will want to ask it later. I would heed their advice, and never go south. The two groups look uneasy with each other at best… enemies at the worst.” He said, dragging them away.

They sped up Tazrae’s chavi at dizzying speed until Taz recognized Alric’s chavi where it tangled with hers and lingered for a time indicating they're coming together at The Outpost. He changed directions then, leaving Tazrae’s chavi and following Alric’s backward. The strand of silvery cerulean that interwove to store Alric’s memories, his history, was beautiful and looked a lot like he did in Tazrae’s mind. Douglan dipped back down, linking with it, and sampled memories as he moved backward. They were brighter spots on Alric’s chavi, highlights of his life as the trio explored backward.

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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Alric Lysane on December 4th, 2021, 10:37 am



The journey was an interesting one and he watched intently, trying to imprint it all into his memory for Tazrae and alter discussions. He was surprised that her parents seemed to be from such different people’s given the celebrations they had witnessed during the tea drinking trip. He was happy that her adoptive father was still of her blood, it was something for her to grasp to and he knew she must have been wondering who she was. Had her father not been related at all it could have been a terrible blow, not that what had been discovered would not change perceptions. He watched her carefully between watching the memory, trying to figure out her thoughts and whether he could even do anything to help her.

“I had no idea there were many tribes, or that they didn’t like each other,” he said softly, “they look like they could fight each other any moment” he continued, recognizing the tense body language and the fingers gripping weapons and ready. He had lived amidst violence long enough to know the signs. It reminded him of the gangs in Sunberth when they went into neutral territory or had meetings under truces. Everyone knew it was a tinder box awaiting a spark.

“But they knew you had a destiny…how did they know?” he asked with puzzlement. He didn’t say outright about any mark but she would know what he meant – she had shared them with him and they had apparently been ordained to happen.

He remained silent otherwise for the rest of her journey, it was hers and he did not wish to interrupt or disrupt it too much. There would always be time for sharing and talking it through together another time.

Alric took a deep breath to brace himself against the journey as Douglan touched his own braid of memory – silvery cerulean, small and seemingly delicate. He wondered what would happen if is just snapped under improper touch and supressed a shudder. Though the look on Douglan’s face seemed as if he could read his thoughts – perhaps he could Alric reasoned, after all he was in control in this domain. He put that thought aside before it got too deep into his thoughts and unsettled him. They started to move, as if whistling through the air at high speed but without any wind to ripple their clothing or hair. A flash approached and suddenly they were looking upon a scene he had not expected.

The streets were grimy and the hustle and bustle of the Castle Commons surrounded them, their voices loud as if they were really there, they even walked this way and that and he suspected where they stood would have had several of the market visitors walking through them if they had been real. He was only a few years younger, on the look out for a pouch to pick. He smiled slightly, knowing what came next – a group of children ran into him and neatly performed their own attempt at larceny. He had barely caught them that day, he watched as his hand wrapped around the wrist of a young girl – Lys.

“No thieving from a thief, it’s rude you know. What are you all doing out here? Shouldn’t you be at the orphanage?” he heard him say.

“No fun, making us do chores…we ran away”

“You know you’ll just get it worse when you go back”

“You used to!”

Alric laughed as the memory played out a little further, with him being assaulted by various little ones as he tried to explain to them why they shouldn’t do what he did whilst being accused of doing what he did whilst trying to get them to follow him back to the orphanage. The scene faded and there was a slight sadness. He wasn’t even sure if they were all still alive, except Lys of course.

“Lys, she harasses me the same way still. Though she is older and has more mouth these days” he said as they moved once more down his braid further, a bit faster this time.

As he watched Douglan perform his work he reflected that he should probably visit them again, if only to see how they were doing and perhaps give them something that they sorely needed – guidance. The orphanage made sure you had a good basic education – reading, writing and taking care of yourself. It didn’t spend much time beyond that, on hopes or dreams. It made sense after a fashion, many didn’t make it much farther than leaving the orphanage so what was the point? Now, though, with what he had learned he knew he might not be there for them forever. They stopped moving suddenly and Douglan seemed to frown as if he had not expected such a sudden stop.

The scene was instantly recognisable, and he was much younger this time, about fifteen he guessed though it was hard to tell. Much like the gaggle of little ones who had accosted him in the previous scene he was now in a gaggle and they had just snipped a few purses, passing them round to each other and in the confusion the carriers slipped away. He was one and he had found a little warren alley to run down and had found his first dead body. The scene was one he remembered often, it had shocked him and stuck in his memory. Who wouldn’t remember the first one? The others after seemed to blend into a cynical acceptance but that first one…he had looked at it for a long time. Prodding it and trying to get them to ‘wake up’, refusing to accept the hard lesson until there was no other option.

“Move on” he said softly, not wanting to see it further. He didn’t want Taz to see these things, but he supposed that they were strong moments in his life. Still, he hoped she did not think worse of him, he doubted she agreed with thievery. It was one thing to discuss it, another to actually see it happen.

With a mighty rush they flashed faster and faster until they were spat out around a campfire to a scene he barely remembered. His mother was kneeling in front of him and giving him his ring, Alric remembered the scene differently, as if someone had messed with his memory perhaps. He supposed that that could have been what the two men dumping him at the orphanage had been talking about. They had done something to him perhaps.

“Alric, this is yours now,” she said, a loving but sad gaze taking in his face and lingering as it afraid she wouldn’t see it again as she slipped the familiar leather necklage with his ring over his head and tucked it away, “this will tell you who you are, no matter what happens. It will be a guide for you. It’s been in our family for generations and is the last gift I can give you. Keep it close, and know that when you grow older, you’ll understand better what it means to be a Nymkarta. You know what the symbol means?” she asked him. The corners of her eyes were shining slightly as if she were holding back tears.

He watched as his younger self nodded mutely, subdued and scared at whatever was happening. He realised that this might have bene one of the last shared memories they had together, if not the last. He looked around and didn’t see his father. They were in another cave, or somewhere underground at least. The walls seemed more regular, as if they had been worked by tools or something similar but he couldn’t be sure. Suddenly his father burst into the chamber from some side passage, his face held ill tidings and what Alric thought was a repressed rage, covered with a fierce resolve.

“They are here, I got some of them but…they brought others this time, I don’t know how long those shields will last”

“I know,” his mother said, pushing herself up after kissing Alric’s forehead, “we’ve run out of time my love”

“Serana”

“Kalas”

They had loved each other, that much was clear by the way they embraced and kissed each other, their faces so soft and emotional before closing their eyes, foreheads touching, and then opening them again with hard masks over their features. He could feel things about them – their determination and stubborn natures, deep wells of both and a steel beneath that which spoke of strong wills. Strong enough to defy fate long enough to birth and raise him to almost a decade old. They were certainly stronger than him. He had felt hard done by for growing up in a dark city with murder and slavery and the rest. But they had clearly lived through something far worse.

The scene grew chaotic then, bodies bursting into larger space to engage in battle. The fire and its contents were scattered, belongings catching alight. Smoke began to fill the air alongside the clash of metal and the crackling of magic. Bodies were falling to the floor as his parents stood their ground, no way out this time apparently and resolved not to just give in. He was impressed despite his uneasiness, this had clearly not been their first clash together as they move well, anticipating each other’s movements. His father seemed to be able to fight in ways he had not seen before, his blade being thrown and then returning to his hand a few moments later. Unless he had missed something, which was possible. His mother was what he imagined a mage to be capable of, the elements coming to her aid alongside other things he had not heard nor seen before. Once one passage was free of living enemies, he heard them shout for him to run and his younger self not seeming to have heard them, or perhaps too scared to comply.

The battle continued but the ending was inevitable, there were too many and it was not as if their enemies had not known how to fight. He watched his father be sent sprawling, trying to get to his feet as one closed. He watched his younger self summon up some desperate courage and run screaming at the man who viciously kicked him away and into the wall. He scene darkened, both of his parents getting overwhelmed as younger Alric lost consciousness – their fate unresolved before that happened.

He felt his emotions had become raw and tattered, he had been so lost in watching and learning that he had become unaware of anything but a numbness. It was one thing to want to know but this…watching it all unfold in actuality…it felt like it ripped part of him open. He would have fallen to his knees had he had knees. As it was, he knew that he must have been giving of quite a chaotic energy to Taz and Douglan.

“That is one of your questions answered,” Douglan interjected with as much tact as was probably possible, “the ring is of your family. Nymkarta…interesting, very interesting,” he said as he seemed to look at the braids now before them, “your parents are alive…but they are…how do I say this…not happy about it”

“What?! What?!” Alric all but hissed the words, “what do you mean alive? You saw what happened, how could they be alive?”

“They are strong individuals. They are alive, though from what I have seen I am not sure they are happy about it”

“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked with an edge of desperation.

“They were captured. No one gets captured and likes what happens next”

“Who did this and where are they?” he asked, realising there was a hardness to his tone now but having difficulty controlling the way he felt.

He tried to collect himself, to bring his energies back into some semblance of order, it was difficult but he felt himself dim slightly with much effort.

“I’m sorry. Please…I need to know”


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To Follow Sifted Memory [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on December 4th, 2021, 4:01 pm

Tazrae wondered if this was how Alric felt when Douglan ran down her memories, sampling them here and there to get to the right place. She felt like a voyeur in his life, an unwelcome watcher that saw things no one else should. She was wholly glad Douglan’s skim down her memory lane had skipped her induction into Reimancy and the late-night talks she’d often had with the Founders of Syka that included magic and how the world worked. Alric would have probably looked at her differently. She even looked at herself differently now. There was a lot to take in, a lot to understand, and Tazrae could tell immediately that it wasn’t something that was going to sink in until later. She hadn’t had time to digest it and the knowledge sat uneasily at the bottom of her stomach. Clan wars, clashes in the desert, an unwelcome and unaccepted union that had resulted in what she felt was probably a pariah that had to be exiled immediately.

Unwanted. It was a familiar feeling in her life, one she’d grown up with all her life in regards to her ‘mother’. Now, knowing what she did know firsthand, there was a lot of truth in that emotion. Her parents should have been more responsible. If a child was such a terrible thing, even if her birth was celebrated, why make one, to begin with? It was easier, Taz decided, to focus on Alric’s situation than it was to dwell on her own. She wasn’t anyone special, not really, just the result of an affair that no one sanctioned and no one approved of. No wonder they sent her away.

With a heavy heart, she turned, moving along with Douglan, and witnessed snippets from Alric’s life. At first, she just watched passively, noting something here or there, but as the scenes flowed back and forth, through them… she got an inkling of how hard his life as an orphan must have been. While she’d been dealing with puberty, he’d been out on the streets stealing bread and coin, running with the orphanage children who barely had a roof over their heads. She’d seen the orphanage. It wasn’t much of anything and would be considered a ruin in any other city. His life, his situation, made her forget about her own.

Several times he urged Douglan to ‘move on’ not wanting to relive what made up his chavi.

And she knew, as they grew closer, went further back, that Alric’s parents hadn’t had a nice fate. At first, she’d hoped they’d at least died and found peace, but that wasn’t the case at all. When his mother had gifted him with his ring, Taz could see the desperation and resignation in her eyes. Serana knew things weren’t going to go well. She knew it. And Taz could see that she knew it.

The scene changed, bursting into utter chaos of battle, and still, Taz watched. She couldn’t have looked away if she tried. It was as if they were in the middle of the scene, reliving it, through Douglan’s gift from Nysel. She felt Alric’s emotions drain away, numbness replacing the energy that swirled around him.

And when he stopped and confronted Douglan, demanding things, Tazrae flinched because she knew Douglan was right and didn’t want to see what Alric demanded they see. Alric made more demands and Douglan complied. They changed directions, off Alric’s life path and onto Serana’s. This time they moved forward, though taking a different route – one away from Alric.

When Douglan stopped the whirl up her chavi again and touched it, memory exploded around them. Serana, almost naked in a scant costume of sheer material that left nothing to the imagination stood at the window gazing out. The scene overlooked heavily wooded hills. When she turned, there was a noticeable swell to her lower abdomen, just a small one clearly seen through the translucent cloth. Her breasts were bigger too, barely contained by the bodice of the dress that left them displayed rather than concealed. She was elegantly made up, and her hair arranged artfully. But there was hollow desperation to her eyes.

She had turned because a door opened. A man walked through. He was older but wore power around him like some men wore oilskin cloaks on a rainy day. She didn’t stiffen. She didn’t react. She just stared at him. “Florentin.” She said with a hollow lifeless voice.

He smiled. “Did you think just because you started showing I’d stop visiting?” He asked, crossing the room and approaching her directly. He stopped in front of her, taller and broader of the shoulder, as he admired the light on her face. He lifted a hand and stroked her cheek, then dropped it intimately to stroke one of her breasts as well. “You will be servicing me for the rest of your life, girl. You’ve already proven yourself fertile and an easy birther. That one was his, but this one will be mine. And the next, and the one after that.” His hand dropped lower and he protectively cupped the swell of her stomach. “Get used to this. I won’t rest you in between breedings, my love. Your job is to make me happy and populate this tower with my sons.” He said, lifting his hand back to her shoulder and pressing on it.

With dead eyes, she slowly lowered to her knees, brought her hands up to his pants, and began to free him from them.

In the far corner of the room, unnoticed before, stood a man in chains. He watched with hatred in his eyes. He no longer pulled at the chains fastened to the iron rings in the wall. They gave him room to do many things though. At first. he would rage and scream and threaten the man as he slowly dehumanized the love of his life. It fueled the man’s cruelty and made him darker, more abusive. But now, after almost a full season, he did the only thing he could do… and that turned his back on the room. He knew it hurt her, even more, to know he witnessed her shame and what she’d be doing with the man for the next bell or so. So Kalas gave her the only privacy he could – his back – while the man took his pleasure and plowed the fields of his wife’s soul so he could seed it well.

Douglan pulled back then, moved further on, into the future, and touched Serana’s chavi closer to the now.

Kalas and Serana were together. They were in what looked like a small cabin in that same wilderness. There were no chains on Kalas, though there was heavy white scarring around his wrists. He was caring for her though she didn’t speak or didn’t acknowledge him being there. There was no one else around and they didn’t look like they were in any sort of imprisonment. Life looked hard, but not in the way of being hard in the city… in the way of being hard in the wilderness. Douglan let them watch a while and shook his head, going back, pulling them along the chavi again. He’d missed something, some important event.

He moved along, backward, looking at Serana’s history. She’d been in the cabin with Kalas a while now. Something had happened to get them there.

He touched the chavi briefly, lightning-fast, and moved backward, searching.

Finally, he paused, bringing the two souls he had in tow into the memory with him. Serana was in a bed, her belly full, her body laboring. She looked older than she had in the tower or castle… wherever that had been. Heavy lines were on her face and there was a blankness to her look. She didn’t scream when the pangs took her. She didn’t react at all. It was as if her body was going through the motions but there was no soul inside to find joy in giving new life to the world. Florentin stood beside her, his angry eyes on the midwife. “If this one is stillborn again, I will find you personally responsible.” He said, his tone acidic and causing the midwife to freeze.

After a long moment, she spoke again, moving to the far side of the bed and tapping the woman’s face with a clean towel to mop up the sweat. “She’s given you three sons. Three. And you’ve kept her pregnant against my advice. She should have been rested between each one, not immediately bred again. You wouldn’t even do this to a horse, My Lord, and yet you did it to this woman. The last delivery was rough. The girl didn’t make it. I told you to leave her be, even then, and you were rutting on her again as soon as she started having courses.” The old woman bit out, shaking her head. “Kill me or not, this one is likely to be born dead as well. And as torn up as she was last time by the birth, I suspect she won’t take it again. You’ve made her useless in your greed.” The woman said, pointing a finger at him. "It’s no one’s fault but your own.” She bit out. The man said nothing, half ignoring the woman’s rant to focus on the woman in labor on the bed.

It was the hardest thing Tazrae had ever done, watching that poor woman labor with no sense to her face and ultimately give birth to another son. This one was dead though, as the woman predicted. It never took a breath and was ill-formed, almost monstrous.

The man inspected the boy and shook his head. “Have that burned.” Florentin ordered a guard that was waiting outside the door. He handed off the bundle to the man, then added additional instructions. “Set her and the man free.” He said, then glanced at Serana in disgust. “They are no more use to me and are no threat to anyone now. Let them live out their days knowing what they were and could have been and what they were so easily turned into.” He said, looking thoughtfully at the midwife.

“Kill the midwife.” He ordered another guard, one that had entered the room to help with the bloody woman on the bed and get her out of the man’s sight. “She knows too much.” He added, then turned once more to the guard that seemed to be in charge of the others. Even as the woman turned to flee, a guard sliced her across the throat with a hastily drawn dagger. She fell to the floor with a loud thump.

“I have other daughters from other powerful women. Find Kalas’ son by this bitch. He’ll be useful to them... on them.” He said, a slow smile playing across her face. “I already have her bloodline, it's mine, but a double dose nicely folded into the Arcadius line will be a bonus. Can you imagine having Nymkarta from a son and one from a daughter and putting those two together?” He laughed in delight. “We have a decade or so to find him. I have no idea where Kalas stashed him, but it shouldn’t take too much time. It will be far easier if I raise him as my own as well. I can beat Kalas’ petulance out of him and like Serana, we’ll just find something he loves and control it.” Florentin Arcadius vowed.

Douglan pulled them out then, straight out, back to the real world. And he stared at them with wide eyes… eyes full of fear.

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