[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Oralie finds her purpose.

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

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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Oralie on December 26th, 2021, 11:41 pm

36 Winter, 521

Oralie was feeling a little more adventurous after attending the Tenday celebrations, and so she decided to go for a walk. She had barely left the immediate vicinity of the Protea Inn since she had arrived, and even when she had she hadn’t been alone. She had on her dress but no sandals, thankful that Tazrae had carted her off to buy a new, small, wardrobe the day she had arrived. Already she was more comfortable in these clothes than she had ever been in her beige servant’s garb. They felt more… her, even though she wasn’t entirely sure who she actually was yet.

She had been itching to see the communal kilns properly since first hearing about them. As the days went on, Oralie was getting more and more used to the idea that she could decide things for herself; could do things just because she wanted to. So a visit to find Nesra was in order, to let her know that Oralie was interested in using the kiln sometime.

It was not long until the Commons came into view, for Oralie had practically sprinted along the cobblestone path where there was only jungle to border it. The looming trees still made her nervous, though she knew full well now that she didn’t need to be quite so flighty when she was in the settlement.

The Kiln was easy to find, a brick built structure sitting proudly in the Commons. A woman was carefully removing a few pieces from inside the kiln when Oralie approached. She kept quiet, simply watching the woman work for a few chimes, admiring the craftsmanship. The work appeared to be mostly decorative pieces, a few pots and vases. All the pieces were void of glaze or decoration, so Oralie assumed that they had just undergone their first firing. Once the woman had set them all down on a small table nearby, Oralie approached her slowly, fists bunched in the fabric of her dress in an attempt to hide her nerves.

“Um…” The woman looked up briefly as she stepped over, offering a smile of acknowledgment before returning her attention to lining up the pottery. “Are you… Nesra?”
“I am, can I help you?”

“Yes I… I was hoping that I might be able to use the kiln sometime? To do some pottery.” Nesra stood up straighter, looking Oralie over once. “Have you ever thrown before?”
The Kelvic nodded. “Not for a while… but I used to, a little.” The woman nodded and smiled again. “Okay well sure. Come and see the wheels then.” She headed over to where she had one set up, monitioning to the shed nearby. “That is where the wheels and other tools are kept. I have the key, so if I am not around when you want to throw, you’ll have to come and find me. This is what our wheels are like, does it look familiar?”

Oralie peered at the machine, noting the foot pedal and the weighted wheels it controlled. “Yes. It is the same as the one I used.”
“I have clay and wood and things available too, and I can teach you lessons if you need them. I’ve been creating my own glazes with the plants you can find here, I’ll bet that I have colours like you never saw before.”
Oralie nodded at Nesra. “That is… good. I only really made bowls before. The shape was easy… And I made some plates sometimes.”
The potter smiled, before gesturing back towards the kiln, waiting for Oralie to move before she followed. “That’s a good start, you probably have some foundations then. We can build you up from there easily I am sure. If you’d like to anyway.”

“I would like that.” Oralie was trying her best to be more free and natural with her way of speaking. She had come a little way in that respect since she had arrived, her sentences not being quite so stilted now. “I would like to make cups and pretty things. I… I think you are very talented, I like the shape of that one.” She pointed at a taller wavy vase.

Nesra smiled again. “Thank you. I’m going to glaze these later today. You are more than welcome to come and see the colours I have if you want to.” Another nod from the Kelvic. “I might, thank you.” The pair exchanged a few more pleasantries before Oralie turned away to wander back to the beach. She was very pleased with herself, for outside of conversation with Tazrae, that was the longest she had spoken to someone for since she had arrived.

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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Oralie on December 26th, 2021, 11:42 pm

Oralie did not yet want to return to The Protea, so she headed past the lovely Inn and further along the beach. The Kelvic had very quickly grown to love Syka, with its sandy beaches, crystal clear azure ocean and wonderfully friendly residents. The lush jungle too, she admired for its beauty, but she was still too nervous of it to say she could love it. As much as she wanted to go back to the overgrown playground that Tazrae had shown her on her first day, she knew it would be folly to try by herself. There was much she had to learn before that day came.

She kept her eyes peeled for any shrubs or trees along her way that might hold fruits. One of the things she wanted to be able to do fairly soon was to forage for food so she could bring it to the Protea Inn for Tazrae to use in her cooking. And perhaps one day soon Oralie herself, when she learned how to cook properly.

The next time the cobblestone path veered a little closer to the trees, Oralie stopped herself from rushing along it. Instead she kept her usual walking pace, and trained her golden yellow eyes on the jungle. Her feline form lent her a small enhancement to her vision as a human which meant she could see a little further into the trees than most others. Though the gloom and sheer density of the foliage still meant she couldn’t really see too far.

Movement caused her to pause, her gaze trained on a young tree nearer the front of the jungle. A snake was winding its way along a branch. Oralie had no idea what sort of snake it was, nor did she have any desire to find out, for Tazrae’s words still lingered in the back of her mind, and the Kelvic would rather stay ignorant to the pains of snake venom.

She wandered on, winding closer to the beach again and soon came across a small tree with lush orange fruits hanging from its boughs. Oralie recognised them for Tazrae often used them in various recipes, or just had them in a bowl of mixed fruit for guests. She had never eaten one on its own before, so she reached out to pluck one from a branch after giving it a gentle squeeze to test its ripeness.

She dug a fingernail into the waxy skin of the orange and began to peel it as she walked. It was fiddlier than she imagined it would be, but soon she had just the fleshy inside in her palm. Oralie veered off the path and onto the beach, plopping herself down in the sand to eat the fruit. The juice burst in her mouth, sharp and tangy and delicious, and she grinned before taking another bite.

As she chewed, Oralie stared out at the ocean, across to where she thought Riverfall was. It seemed like a lifetime ago that she had been in the city of the Akalak’s, and at the same time, like it was just the day before. A season ago she would never have imagined she would be here now, basking in the sunshine and eating tropical fruit. Her life had changed in every way possible, and it was all thanks to the friend she had left behind, and her Goddess, Priskil.

Oralie licked the sticky juice off her fingers and then gazed at her palm. The Gnosis mark shimmered there softly as it always did. Would she still be here, she wondered, if it had not been for her Goddess? She doubted it. She was sure she would have succumbed to the darkness if she had not learned of the Goddess of Radiance. At the very least she would still be living under her masters roof as a scared and broken servant.

“What would I have done without you Priskil? I owe you so much. I still feel lost, anxious, but… it is a little easier now to reach for the hope I also carry. I don’t know what my future holds, everyone keeps asking me what I want and I don’t know. But it is a little lighter today than it was yesterday.”


She let herself fall back into the sand with a sigh. Clear blue skies stretched out above her as far as she could see, with the occasional sea bird wheeling across her vision. She tracked a couple with her finger every now and again, until the sense of calm she was feeling started to make her eyelids feel heavy. Soon enough, the Kelvic drifted off to sleep where she lay.

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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Oralie on December 26th, 2021, 11:44 pm

The shrieking was harsh and loud in her sensitive ears and the flapping of arms scared her. Oralie cowered in a corner of the room, hunching herself up and trying to appear as small as she possibly could. Her tail curled itself around her protectively, and her large golden eyes were wide and frightened.

“Look at it! Just look at it will you!”
The woman was hysterical, screaming and pointing sharply at Oralie. There was a man there too, speaking in a low and soothing voice, not to Oralie, but to the woman. He tried to place a comforting hand on the woman’s arm but she waved it off and flapped her hands at Oralie again.

“I do not want it in my house! I do not want it!”
“Let’s not be hasty my dear. She is our daughter after all.” Oralie, frightened and scrambled as her young mind was, still recognised the look of absolute disgust on the womans face as she turned to look at her.
“That is not my daughter. I have no daughter. No child of mine will ever be a dirty, shape changing cat!” She practically spat the final word.
“We will sort it out. I will sort it out. Go and take some tea, my dear.” The calmer man ushered his wife out of the room, and they left the small cat where it was pressed into the corner.

A little time passed and before too long someone entered the room. The little cat was still huddled in the corner, rounded ears flattening to its head in fear as the person approached. It was the man from before. He crouched near her and watched his daughter for a chime, staying as still as he could. When the ears of the feline slowly rotated forward once more, he spoke.
“I’m sorry.”

Oralie blinked at him. The man dropped his gaze to the floor for a tick before sighing. “I’m so sorry, my daughter, my Oralie.” He met her gaze again, his expression pained, before standing and leaving the room, the door closing with a soft click behind him.


Oralie murmured as she slept, shifting uncomfortably on the sand.

She was in darkness now, human, older. But again she was scared, her back pressed into the cold wall of the room she had been locked in to. She had tried and failed not to cry, and her cheeks were still damp from the tears.

She raised a shaking hand to touch her neck, wincing as they brushed over areas of skin that were darkening with fresh bruises. If she had a mirror to look into she would have been able to see the marks clearly, rounded splotches from where his fingers had mercilessly pressed into her neck. She closed her eyes, shuddering as she remembered the sensation having her throat restricted, of not being able to breathe.

Hey eyes were sore from sobbing, and she wanted to press the heels of her hands to them, but she resisted. She knew there was an angry mark blooming beneath her left eye, purple to match those on her neck. She could feel it throbbing every time she blinked.

Oralie raised her head as she heard noises coming from the other side of the door. She could have stood, tried to make it seem like she did not feel utterly defeated, but she knew it would make little difference. She barely flinched as the door slammed open, didn’t move as her master strode across the room to her. He roughly grabbed the leather collar round her neck and yanked it upwards, jerking it so hard that it snapped along the break the Kelvic and her friend had tried their best to fix earlier in the day.

The sudden release of the collar caused Oralie to sprawl back to the ground, narrowly missing hitting her head on the wall. It was then that she saw what her master was carrying in his hands, the metal gleaming even in the dim light of her room.

He loomed over her, fury written in every line of his face. He didn’t utter a single word, but he did not have to. She could feel his anger rolling off of him. Beyond, his wife was standing in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest, blocking it as if they thought Oralie, as beaten and weak as she was, would try to run.

She stared at him, unblinking as he reached forward and set the metal collar around her neck. He was not gentle as he fixed it closed and it caught her skin, her hair, new, small hurts to add to the larger ones. When he was done, instead of moving away, he grabbed her roughly around the throat, lifting her up. A whimper of pain bubbled from her lips as his hands pressed into the new bruises. He held her there for a chime, silent, angry, before dropping her without grace and striding from the room without a backward glance.


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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Oralie on December 26th, 2021, 11:45 pm

Oralie jerked awake, a cry lodged in her throat. She sat up and blinked rapidly against the glaring sunlight, confusion overwhelming her as she struggled to remember where she was. Slowly, golden sand beneath her feet came into focus, the soft lapping of waves whispering in her ears. She was safe.

Safe.

Relief washed over her so forcefully that tears sprang into her eyes, her shoulders starting to shake with impending sobs. Her neck ached with the memories of dark bruises, her breath tight from the pressure of invisible hands pressing down on her windpipe. Oralie raised trembling hands to gently feel the sides of her neck, her mind imagining that she would feel the cold touch of the unforgiving metal collar clasped around it. But it was not there. Her fingers pressed into her bare skin instead, feeling the unsteady rhythm of blood pumping just beneath the surface. The collar was gone, removed by and sold to a silversmith in Riverfall, to be melted down into something much more beautiful.

One finger grazed over a thin, raised scar on the left side of her neck that was barely visible unless you knew it was there. Memories came back to her then, of a young man. His eyes fixed on hers, a mixture of curiosity, hesitation and awe glimmering behind the clear blue irises. His hand reached out towards her slowly with a slight, almost imperceptible shake. Oralie closed her eyes as she remembered him pressing his hand to the top of her head gently but firmly, his fingers splaying as he did so. The recollection of the feel of someone moving soft fingers through her fur almost made her smile, even as the tears still dripped steadily down her cheeks. She drew in a shaky breath as she remembered something else.

Fur. She had fur because she was not a human, not really.

It had been so long since that day outside the city of Syliras. So long since she had taken her four legged form. Oralie had shifted into her feline self only two times that she could remember in her relatively short life. The number was so small that sometimes she forgot that she was not human, forgot that she had a beast of fur and teeth just beneath her skin.

She didn’t know why, but every time Oralie had thought to shift since arriving in Syka she had found an excuse not to. Even though Syka was probably one of the few places where someone was free to be whatever and whoever they wanted to. She could walk into the Commons, strip down and change forms, and she doubted it would faze many people at all. Really it was just her fear sitting at the back of her mind, imagining that the second she took her ocelot form her old master would know. It did not matter that it was impossible, she was well aware how her shifts worked. But it was hard to hold onto the realisation that she was free to change here, when all she could hear was the shrieks of her parents and the harsh, angry words of her master.

Oralie clenched her fists in the sand. No more. No more would she let those phantom voices control her life. She stood slowly and reached up to push the straps of her dress off of her shoulders, then shimmied the garment down till it pooled at her ankles. She stepped out of the fabric and picked it up before folding it neatly and leaving it atop a fairly flat rock nearby. Nobody would take it, that just was not the way of things in Syka. She had nothing else on underneath the dress and it let her feel a slightly cool breeze as it brushed past her bare form.

Oralie turned her left hand so that it faced her with its palm up. She traced the mark that lay there with the fingertips of her other hand. The golden vortex shimmered softly, almost like she had captured a piece of Syna out of the sky and kept it for herself. It was now or never.

She went totally still, took a deep breath and then lights enveloped her entire body. They swirled around her for a tick before disappearing and instead of a woman, a spotted feline was revealed. Her pink nose twitched and her rounded ears swiveled atop her head. Bigger than a house cat, but much smaller than a leopard, Oralie’s ocelot self was compact but powerful. Her tawny coat, decorated with deep chocolate markings in spots and banded rosettes, shone under the suns rays.

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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Oralie on December 26th, 2021, 11:46 pm

Her luminous eyes were the only thing that did not really change in appearance. They were exactly the same shade of golden honey as the ones she wore as a human, just a little rounder and a little larger. However unlike her human eyes, these ones let her see much, much better.

She took in her surroundings slowly; the light sparkling off the sea, the little creatures moving around in the sand that she had missed before and even individual feathers on some of the birds that were flying a little bit lower than others.

Oralie stretched, leaning back over her haunches, her front legs reaching out in front of her. Her paws too stretched out, claws extending from their sheaths as they did so. She had forgotten how it felt to be in this body. It felt natural of course, because it was as much her normal guise as her human skin was. But she had forgotten the sensation. The altered view, the keen hearing and the sensitive pads of her paws. Beneath them the sand felt gritty and hot. But it was not unpleasant.

Oralie roughly shook her head, exhaling loudly through her nose. She began to walk slowly towards the sea, savoring every step she took, every extension of her powerful legs and swish of her long tail. The sand sunk under her paws much more than it did when she was a human, but as a cat is was easier to traverse thanks to the larger surface of her pads.

She stopped just shy of where the waves were lapping. Ocelots were very much able to swim, one of the better felines for it in fact. But the open sea was daunting to her no matter what form she took so she did not venture in today. Instead she stood, waiting and watching the seabirds wheel above the frothy waves, until the tide just started to kiss her front paws.

A strange sound erupted from her jaws, a sort of hoarse meowing sound that could have passed for that of a house cat had it been higher pitched. She jumped back as the water rushed in over her toes, calling again, and spinning around to face up the beach. Oralie was elated. The sounds were ones of joy, and she ran along the beach for a chime, zig zagging this way and that, finding a simple pleasure in her speed and agility.

A seagull landed on the sand not too far from her and she raced towards it, leaping as she drew near. She was not trying to catch the bird at all, she deliberately aimed for a spot only near to it, and it took of with a disgruntles squawking as she landed. Almost immediately she was leaping and running again, all over the beach like a kitten at play.

After a while, Oralie turned her attention to the jungle. She padded over to it, stopping a little way off from the treeline. Head tilted, she gazed into the depths. Her rounded ears pricked forward, picking out sounds coming from deep within. A rustling that may or may not have been leaves. A distant call of a tropical bird. Something, a fruit perhaps, or a small animal landing on the loamy ground.

The jungle called to her, a feeling like nothing she had known before. Her feline self wanted nothing more than to dive into the lush forest head first, to prowl through the undergrowth and see what awaited her within. Her human brain however was screaming at the idea of it. There were things in there that she knew would eat her for supper. Just because she was an ocelot did not mean she had the know how to survive in the jungle. Taking her feline form did not give her any new knowledge outside of her cat instincts.

She stood there for a good number of chimes, watching, listening and fighting the internal battle between her two selves. Eventually, she took a hesitant step into the trees. She did not go far, some would probably say she didn’t actually go into the jungle at all. There were perhaps just one or two trees between herself and the beach at all times. Where she walked was parallel to the cobblestone path - she could see it the entire time. But she just wanted to know what it felt like to be standing beneath the dense canopy as something that truly belonged under it. She could tell that it was where she was supposed to be as her form wound its way past trees and vines without her even having to think about it. Her steps were soft and practically silent, her vision as clear as day no matter how obscured the sun streaming in from the beach became.

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Continued in Luminous Heart ii
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[Holiday Challenge] Luminous Heart

Postby Alric Lysane on March 14th, 2022, 7:35 am

Image

Your Grades


Oralie

Skills

Acrobatics – 1
Foraging – 1
Interrogation – 1
Observation – 4
Running – 2
Socialization – 1


Lores

Food: Oranges – Taste & Appearance
Freedom: Transforming Without Fear
Ocelot Form: Craves The Jungle
Ocelot Form: Enhanced Senses
Priskil: My Hope & Strength
Syka: The Communal Kiln
Syka: Safe From Thievery
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