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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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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Oralie on March 3rd, 2022, 9:14 pm

1st Spring, 522

The Protea Inn was as quiet as it ever was, save for the noises that sleeping people made. As the season turned from Winter to Spring, more than a new year was born. Unbeknownst to the denizens of Syka, an evil darkness had enveloped the settlement with the unheard tolling of the midnight chime.

Oralie shifted under her bedsheets, tossing and turning as if she were having an uncomfortable dream. Her breath quickened and she awoke momentarily, sitting bolt upright in her bed. Her chest heaved as she tried to calm her breathing, and she groaned, dropping her head into her hands.

With a sigh she flopped back onto the pillows. It was pitch dark outside and there was not a whisper of a noise to indicate any activity. It was far too early to be awake. She turned over, wrapping the sheets tightly around her body and wriggled to get comfortable so she could fall asleep again. Just before she closed her eyes, she paused, thinking she had seen something moving in her room.

Oralie was too tired to be bothered to sit up again, so she shifted her gaze as far over as she could, seeing nothing at all. She listened too, her keen Kelvic hearing not picking up anything unusual. With a mental shrug, her eyes slid shut once more and she drifted off to sleep.

Her eyes next fluttered open as a gentle tendril of weak morning sunlight started to creep into her room. She sighed, before yawning widely, turning onto her back. Oralie stared at the ceiling, listening for signs of life elsewhere in the Inn. Nothing yet. And then, movement once again out of the corner of her eye. She froze. Whatever it was did not make a sound. She turned her head slowly to the left, a sinking feeling pooling in her chest.

Oralie frowned as her gaze fell on… nothing. She was sure she had seen something. A hazy memory came to her then. She vaguely recalled the same thing happening to her in the middle of the night. Maybe she had eaten something funny the day before.

Reluctantly, she pushed herself up into a seated position. And yet again, she thought something moved over to her left. She looked over quickly, her eyes not picking out anything but the oddly shaped shadows cast by the faint dawn light.

But then… did a shadow move? Oralie’s heartbeat stuttered for a moment as she stared at the corner of her room. Nothing moved as she watched now, but she did have a funny feeling that the shadows were peculiar shapes.

She was just about to write it off as her being still tired, or dozy in her newly awakened state, when two bright spots appeared in the shadow. Luminous, silver eyes stared right at her from the darkness.

With a muffled shriek of alarm, Oralie leapt backwards off of her bed, away from the… thing. She scrambled backwards until her back hit the door of her room, never taking her own eyes of whatever it was that had just materialised. It didn’t move.

“I’m going crazy… it’s not real. It’s not real…” Oralie groped behind her for the door handle, twisted it and quickly exited her room, pulling the door shut tight once she was in the hallway. She backed away, keeping her golden gaze fixed on the door.

Nothing was happening. She stopped in the hallway and tried to calm herself down, focusing on her breathing. “See Ori, it’s not real.” Oralie let out a shaky laugh and figured she should probably go back and put some clothes on before seeing what to do about making some sort of tea now that she was awake.

Before she could do anything though, the actually very real shadow figure drifted right through her door and stopped just in front of it. It stared at her with fathomless silver eyes. Oralie couldn’t help it. She screamed. She screamed with raw terror, standing right in the middle of the hallway completely naked and convinced that whatever this creature was had come to do something completely evil to her.

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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Tazrae on March 5th, 2022, 2:31 pm

Tazrae heard Oralie’s scrambling and then scream. It wasn’t unusual for the Kelvic to have a restless night, but what was unusual was for the Kelvic to scream. Taz, for once, wasn’t up early. She’d slept in because the Inn was fairly empty save for the three residents – Oralie, Naadiya and herself – though The Veronica was due in at any moment . Taz hit the ground running, her bare feet slapping the polished wood of the floors as she tore out of her room and into the hall where she all but ran into Oralie.

The Kelvic was sound asleep! Taz could tell because her eyes were closed and her body was swaying oddly on her feet. The Innkeeper moved carefully around the woman, looking for danger, and seeing none. She listened with her bardic hearing, head cocked, and heard nothing that was out of place. Circling quietly around the Kelvic, she approached from the front making sure the Kelvic had nothing dangerous in her hands.

Approaching, quietly, Taz began to sing. She sang softly, a lullaby from Riverfall, one she’d heard often enough in the streets from the women carrying crying children. She increased the volume on the song, changing the place words to Syka places and the image words to Sykan Images… the tall timber became tall palms in the song, and the cool chill wind became warm ocean breezes. When Taz was directly in front of Oralie, she reached out and gently placed her hand on the woman’s shoulder. She rubbed it, and then carefully broke off the song to speak her name.

“Oralie…. Oralie…. You were having another nightmare. You need to wake up…” She said gently, quietly, carefully… giving the Kelvic another slight shake. “You are safe here…. Safe. You are in Syka… free. No one is trying to hurt you here… its just memories… memories in your mind.” She said quietly. The Innkeeper gave the Kelvic another gentle shake and then reached forward and wrapped her in her arms. Taz had meant to wake her up first, but she couldn’t help but offer her friend comfort. Oralie was like the sister Tazrae had never had. She hadn’t realized how lonely she’d been until the Kelvic had moved in and offered to help clean and care for her guests with her. Hearing her scream in terror in the early morning broke her heart. So she wrapped her arms around the cat, rubbed her back, and hoped the combination of the sound of her voice and the scent of her body would bring the Kelvic back into the present.

She heard another door open. It couldn’t be anyone else but Naadiya. Taz didn’t turn from where she was rocking the Kelvic woman trying to wake her up. But she did greet the other resident over her shoulder, assuming the newcomer was Naadiya. “She’s sleep walking. I think she was having a nightmare. “ Taz explained. She wasn’t sure what else to do… or how to wake Oralie up.

“Do you know how to deal with this? Ever known anyone that sleep walked?” She asked hopefully over her shoulder. “She is so deeply asleep.” Taz said, a strain of worry in her voice. “I know she’s had it rough, but these nightmares keep getting worse. I thought we could make her feel safe here. But this keeps happening!” Taz said, a hint of desperation in her voice.

Taz gave Oralie another shake and turned to study Naadiya. Her face was a mixture of concern and questions.

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"There's a place that I go that nobody knows. Where the rivers flow and I call it home.
And there's no more lies. In the darkness there's light.
And nobody cries. There's only butterflies..."


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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Naadiya on March 5th, 2022, 7:35 pm

Naadiya’s own night had been flooded with an odd mixture of dreams. Like clashing currents, they struggles to unite in harmony. Instead, she would be in one place doing one thing like filling a glass with water, and then, she would blink and find herself holding an upside-down cup, its contents pouring out in front of her. She swam in the ocean, but every time she would dip her head beneath the surface, she'd find she was sitting inside a tent, hot arid air filling her lungs and drying her out from within. Reaching out, Naadiya opened the tent’s flap and saw sand running ahead endlessly. She moved forward, poking her head outside and suddenly she was back in the water. The constant back and forth had been causing a pounding feeling in her head to grow. The pounding was already loud but getting louder. Naadiya threw her hands up to her ears, uselessly covering them though the sound felt like it was coming from within.

One final bang, louder and longer than the others. Naadiya bolted up in bed. She felt dizzy, the sensation of imminent vomit did not feel too far away. Her hands flew to the bottle of water by her nightstand, nearly knocked it over, but she grabbed the neck and took a gulp. For a moment it tasted like sea water and Naadiya coughed and took a sniff before taking another more hesitant sip. It hadn’t helped and only caused her stomach to protest in addition to her head.

She felt like her body was fighting itself, as well as her own conscience and she had no tools that were right for the job. Snapping back, Naadiya realized she was hearing a scream and willed herself to get up.

Emergency! Could be fire! Could be snake! Could be worse!

Hot sweat ran down her neck, snaking its way down her torso and Naadiya patted at it mindlessly with some fabric she had grabbed in the dark. The smooth isuas garment had been one of her new gifts to herself after a season of unexpected cash flow. A dark teal robe that ended above her knees and was edged with matching fringe. Beautiful as the fabric was, it was no match for her sweat glands tonight and soon enough the fabric clung to her shoulders and upper back like the wisps of hair that were matted around her face. But Naadiya felt no discomfort as she ran unsteadily out of the room slipping the wide, billowy sleeves over her otherwise bare body.

Her hand used the wall as a guide as her pace quickened. The scream had come from the other side of the inn but it wasn’t such a large place and her feet were getting steadier with every step. Naadiya’s breathing was also coming back down to a reasonable speed and the blood rushing in her ears had stopped and she could hear… singing?

It wasn’t relief exactly that she felt, but rather, an ambiguous feeling of ‘am I still dreaming?’

She turned the corner and stood for a moment taking in the scene when the curlier of the two blondes spoke.

The voice that had been singing and now spoke to her and Naadiya recognized the inn keeper, Tazrae.

Oralie was in her arms, a naked body that seemed to be so enveloped by terror that Naadiya couldn't even take a moment to note that she’d never seen the Kelvic in such a state. All she could think of was the look in the golden terrified gaze. Had this happened before and she’d only slept through it like a rock? Tazrae seemed to know though, and she seemed to be handling the situation as well as could be expected.

Shaking her head, Naadiya wrapped the robe that hung open, around her body. The night was not cold, and the action was more likely due to the atmosphere than the temperature.

“No,” she said, “I’m sorry I don’t know what to do.”

She wasn’t sure why she was whispering. Something about the fear that dripped from the air made her feel like her voice would invite the same affliction to jump from Oralie to Naadiya like a sickness that spread in the air.

"Should I get her some water or something to bite onto?"

It didn't look like the Kelvic was having a seizure, but unsure of what to do, Naadiya grasped blindly at random treatments and cures.

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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Oralie on March 5th, 2022, 10:14 pm

The shadow creature did not move an inch as Oralie screamed at it. It did not blink, look away, fade… nothing. It just hung there, staring at her with its fathomless silver eyes. Somehow the fact that it was still made things worse.

Oralie’s heart pounded so violently that she could hear it inside her head. Her hands trembled at her sides and gooseflesh rose on her arms. She dared not take her eyes off of the creature, for what if that was what it was waiting for? What if she looked away and that was when it chose to move, to attack her? She wondered if it was solid, wondered if she might be able to sink her claws into it.

As they stared at each other, Oralie thought she could hear something. A sound coming from somewhere, perhaps deeper within the Inn? She sub-consciously tried to swivel an ear to hear better before remembering she was human. Her mind was acting funny, asking her body to do things that it couldn’t. Claws and moveable ears… she did not have those things, did she?

The sound was getting clearer to her now, and she recognised it as singing. She focused on the voice. It was familiar to her, comforting. It reminded her of being safe. Oh, how she wanted to be safe now. She latched onto the singing with all of her thoughts, tried to remember who the voice belonged to.

The shadow creature was starting to fade now. The singing must be scaring it away. The edges of the thing were getting fuzzier as she watched, though it’s eyes still burned at her right up until the entire body just… disappeared. She stared at the blank face of the door to her room and sighed with relief before…

Oralie’s golden eyes snapped open, her pupils expanding to cover her irises momentarily, and she sucked in a huge lungful of air. Instead of staring at her door, Tazrae’s face hovered in front of her, watching her with worry. Her heart was still pounding a staccato drumbeat in her chest, but the weight of Tazrae’s arms around her was already causing her body to start relaxing.

She blinked a couple of times before raising her arms and hugging her friend fiercely. After a moment, Oralie pulled back before peering over Tazrae’s shoulder to look at her door. Nothing. Well, no shadow creature anyway. Instead, what she saw was the other long-term resident of the Inn, Naadiya.

She took a step back from Tazrae and looked at both of the other women. “I…” She cast her gaze around the hallway with a frown. Her hands still trembled a little, but Tazrae had had a remarkably quick calming effect on her. “I’m so sorry… I didn’t…”

She glanced at Taz again. Oralie had not had a proper nightmare in a while now. They had started not long after she had arrived in Syka for some reason, perhaps some delayed trauma from what she had been through coming out to the surface. As the days had passed, they had mostly become less intense. This one had been different though. She had never ‘woken up’ before, had never been faced with anything like the creature she had just seen. “It was different…” Tazrae would know what she meant.

Oralie rubbed her arms. It wasn’t cold, but she still had an odd feeling that there was something lurking. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake either of you.” She had no idea if she had actually screamed out loud, but it was easy enough to assume that she had judging by the fact that both women looked like they had just woken up.

She looked at Tazrae again. “I’m okay, I promise. Let me get dressed and I’ll make tea. It’s only fair as I woke you both.” She cast another glace around the hall before heading back to her room. If the others were watching, they may well have noticed how hesitantly she entered.

All she did in her room was pull on her white and yellow dress. It was the quickest thing to put on and she wanted to spend as little time in there as possible. She was back in the hallway in no time at all, and heading for the kitchen.

Whether the other two were changing themselves, or in the kitchen already, Oralie would gather mugs for each of them and leaves to make her usual morning drink. Mint and lemon balm went into each cup, and she added a generous amount of chamomile to her own mug. Her hands still shook slightly as she moved around.

It did not take long until she had set all three mugs down, steam curing from the surfaces of the hot tea. Oralie slid into a chair, her grip tight on her mug and her back straight. If that was not a giveaway to how on edge she felt, her eyes made it more obvious. They had more of a feline lean than ever, her pupils still slitted and fairly narrow.

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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Tazrae on March 20th, 2022, 3:45 pm

Tazrae nodded. “Okay… I’ll throw something on as well.” The Innkeeper said, glancing down at what she was wearing. If it was her home, and only her home, she’d be content to not wear a single thing to bed, but as it was she had a long gauzy linen shirt on that was rolled up at the sleeves and a skimpy pair of panties. Barefoot, she padded back to her room and shrugged on a robe made of silk and tied it at the waist. She ran a brush through her hair and captured as much of it as she could in a messy bun, then headed back to the kitchen.

She took the mug gratefully, and sipped at the tea. Then she plucked a pairing knife from the knife block and an ugly looking red fruit that had tendrils floating from it like green tongues of flame. She cut into it, revealing the white flesh speckled with tiny black seeds beneath. She cut big chunks off of it and handed them around, taking one for herself to nibble. The flavor was mildly sweet and savory, pairing perfectly with the tea. “Thank you…” She said to Oralie as she sipped the tea and nibbled at the fruit.

“What were you dreaming about, Oralie? Do you want to talk about it?” She asked carefully, glancing about the kitchen and wondering how work she’d need to do this morning to make sure she had contributions to the ship feast if indeed the Veronica got in today. “Dreams are weird things. Sometimes we have them to warn us of what’s to come. The Veronica is due in today. I should get busy making some buns for pulled pork sandwiches. Randal said Stu was going to roast a pig today, so I promised him I’d bring about a hundred buns. But you having nightmares worries me. Will something sail in with the Veronica on an ill tide?” She asked quietly, then glanced at Naadiya. “There’s been so much bad lately… so much. I’m not sure if I can handle much more. Remind us, Oralie, what your old master looked like? I want to make sure I see everyone getting on off that boat today.” She added, nibbling the last of the dragonfruit and washing it down with a sip of the tea. It was definitely waking her up.

There was no reason why she couldn’t get the bread started now. Tazrae carefully washed her hands in the sink, then began to gather ingredients onto the counter. She kept looking over at Oralie and Naadiya, hoping that sinking feeling in her gut had nothing to do with anything other than her own paranoia. There had been a whole lot to deal with lately… too much. Taz wasn’t sure she could take much more of it. A hundred buns was a tall order, but Randal had promised to replace her flour and sugar with stocks coming on the Veronica.

Taz pulled down her recipe book, flipped it to her breads, and quickly scanned for the bun recipe. Her recipe made eight large ones. She’d stretch it to ten making the buns slightly smaller, then make them in double batches five times. “Keep talking, I have been asked to bring a hundred buns to the ship feast today when The Veronica pulls in, so I’m going to start working on them if you two don’t mind since we are all up anyhow.” Tazrae said, deciding she was fine baking in her robe. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t done it countless times before.

3 ½ Cs. Flour
1 C. Warm Water
2 Tbsps. Butter
1 Lg Egg
¼ C. Sugar
1 ¼ Tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Yeast[


Taz pulled down her large mixing bowl, glancing at Oralie and Naadiya, just needing something to do while the three of them talked. She loved the bowl. It was extra-large, wide mouthed, and a gift from Randal after he first tasted her cooking. It had bought him many many free meals over the years. She measured in seven cups of flour since she was doubling the recipe, carefully stirring in the rest of the dry ingredients before she proofed the yeast and let it rise a few chimes before she added it to the mixture. The wet ingredients came in next, and soon enough she had a huge ball of sticky dough in the bowl.

Then, as the three of them began to talk, Taz turned out the dough on a portion of her counter she’d coated in flour and began to knead. “Have you had dreams before, Oralie?” She asked carefully, worried somehow that this trip would be different. Her luck, especially with Alric and that situation, hadn’t been holding out well at all, and now with Oralie having nightmares she was truly worried. Not wanting to infuse the dough with that worry, she carefully refocused and wondered if Oralie’s mind wasn’t just anxious because they all knew that new people would be arriving today. It was probably nothing but nerves. And Oralie had nothing to fear. She was part of Syka and no one was going to be able to just take her away.

The Innkeeper kept kneading… this being the first batch of ten.

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"There's a place that I go that nobody knows. Where the rivers flow and I call it home.
And there's no more lies. In the darkness there's light.
And nobody cries. There's only butterflies..."


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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Naadiya on March 24th, 2022, 10:53 pm

Everything was starting to calm down and Naadiya’s breathing eased along with the situation. She grasped for the fabric of her robe, taking fistfuls of it, in an attempt at drying sweaty palms.

She’s fine. We’re all fine.

With a bob of her head and a slowly crawling smile, Naadiya really was started to relax. It had only been a bad dream, and something about having been woken up with such a jolt, made Naadiya feel like she had been dreaming up until now as well. But things were getting back to normal. The nightmare was over and she was awake.

Curiously, she peaked into Oralie’s room as the girl walked back in. It wasn’t that she thought she’d find something exactly, but rather she just needed to see for herself to be able to not have the lingering thought in the back of her mind. She saw nothing.

She’s fine. We’re all fine. she repeated in her mind.

On her way back to her room, Naadiya looked over her shoulder twice. Just in case.

Inside, she took off her robe and donned on a sepia toned skirt, gathered tiers dropping to her ankles. With the skirt, she wore a thin-strapped chemise in black isuas. Plain sandals barely covered her feet but they were wonderful in the heat of spring.

When she met the other two back in the kitchen, Naadiya brought a few things with her.

She accepted Oralie’s tea, and after a whiff she had immediately taken a liking to the blend. It had been steeped just long enough to pull out both the flavors and aromas from the leaves but not so long that they turned bitter in the hot water.

“Oh yes, this will have us all feeling much better, I expect,” she took a sip and set the mug back down on the table, “Thank you, Oralie.”

As she spoke, Naadiya watched the kelvic girl with concern, looking for hints of how she was really feeling. The tea might be good but was it enough to bring her back from what she had just seen?

Taking a piece of the cut up fruit, Naadiya chewed on its white flesh then wiped the moistened fingers off and took her little bundle over to where Oralie sat. In her bag, she had a bunch of hair tools and products and Naadiya thought the distraction might be good for both her and Oralie.

“Is it alright if I braided your hair? It was something my sister did for me when I had a nightmare and I always thought it helped.”

Smiling in response to the blonde’s nod, Naadiya gave a happy relived sigh. There was a little light coming back into her eyes and Naadiya couldn’t help but let her smile spread. She gave Oralie’s shoulders a quick rub then took the blonde locks in her hands, careful to not leave any stragglers behind or tug too roughly. Naadiya let the hair fall over the chair’s back and consulted her little stash. A few drops of a mixture of palm and coconut oil on each hand, and she rubbed the two together before gently squeeze the hair in different spots. A little oil would do, she did not want to make the kelvic look greasy.

When she finished, brushing out any tangles became much easier. She used a brush with far-spaced bristles, it looked like there might have been quite a bit of tossing and turning before Oralie had woken up and Naadiya did not want to pull out any healthy hair. There was still some gold that clung to the bristles but no more than ordinary and Naadiya eased, realizing she was most likely not hurting the head in front of her.

Finished with any detangling needed, Naadiya took a couple sips of tea listening to the other two but nearly sputtered and made a superstitious gesture warding off bad things to come.

“No! No!” She stammered unconvincingly, “we are definitely in for a season of easy living and nothing but good tidings! No more ominous prophecies today, it’s the first day of spring!”

She’d vaguely heard bits of Oralie’s life before Syka, but would some one actually come all the way over here to get a slave back? How much was the cost of a slave anyway? Naadiya had no idea, the whole practice had always been a cause for nausea and she avoided it like the plague. The hair in her hands was beautiful yes, but wasn't real gold, how much could she really be worth to a slaver?

Her tea was nearly finished but Naadiya saved the last couple of sips for later. She went back to Oralie and gave her scalp a gentle undulating caress with the tips of her nails. When the Kelvic’s head would sway from unexpected, though temporary, relaxation, Naadiya would support it with her palms.

Then, she started dividing her hair in a couple of sections with a the spiked handle end of a barrel brush just to try and not leave her hair lopsided. Each side of Oralie’s head received two braids. The first set started closer to her center part, while the second were near the top of her ears. The braids were not separate from the rest of her hair but rather loosely woven into it so that they laid flat in place without any pins or clips. All four met at a join in the back of her head, where Naadiya braided them together and secured the very end with a narrow and floppy, pale yellow ribbon tied with little precision but secure enough. There was still some unbraided hair and those locks, Naadiya twirled around her fingers, letting the remaining oils smooth away any fly aways.

She wasn’t sure if it had made Oralie feel any better but Naadiya had gotten a chance to wake up a little more as she kept her hands busy.

“Here, take this,” Naadiya said, handing Oralie an over-stuffed pillow from the couch to hold in her lap and prop her up as she leaned forward slightly. Naadiya took the girl's mug and placed on the table. Then, as Tazrae kneaded dough on the counter, Naadiya kneaded knots in Oralie’s back. “Tell me if I’m putting too much pressure in certain areas!”

Naadiya’s dye mottled hands grabbed the tissue between neck and shoulder and massaged the tension away. She listened to the other two, occasionally easing up the applied pressure to let Oralie talk with ease if she wanted.

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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Oralie on April 4th, 2022, 3:33 pm

Oralie blew gently on the mug clasped in her trembling hands and watched the steam curl erratically away from her. Golden eyes watched Tazrae deftly chop up the fruit - The Kelvic had to keep reminding herself to blink. She took a piece of the offered fruit, its fresh, sweet scent filling her nose before she bit into it. Taz had a spectacular mind for putting foods together and she couldn’t have chosen anything better to have with the tea. Except perhaps a sweet bread, but that was maybe just Oralie’s favouritism there.

She looked with curiosity at the bag Naadiya had placed on the table, smiling a little in response to the Benishra woman’s thanks. Oralie enjoyed making teas, experimenting with different combinations and strengths. The breakfast blend was one she felt she had perfected now since she had gotten into the habit of drinking it every single morning.

She met Naadiya’s gaze with surprise as the woman produced hair tools from her little bag and asked Oralie if she would like her hair done. After a brief pause, she nodded. Nobody else had really touched her hair before apart from to hold it out of malice to stop her moving away from them. The Kelvic loved her hair though, and so the prospect of having it styled was exciting. She wondered what it would look like when Naadiya was finished.

Oralie focused on Tazrae again as the young Innkeeper started speaking. A tiny smile tipped the corners of her mouth upwards. “I like the roasted pigs the most. That will be nice.” Her brow then furrowed as the words turned to ill tides and unease. Something tugged at her memory then and she stared at the grain of the wooden table under her hands trying to think of what it was. When she did remember, Oralie inhaled sharply and looked right at Tazrae.
“Remember what Brosh said when we went to see him? He said something bad was coming…” She shuddered lightly, though the creeping unease was starkly contrasted by the gently comforting rhythm of the hairbrush Naadiya was currently using on her scalp.
“You don’t think it’s another warning, do you?” Oralie was not entirely sure how to feel with the thought that she might be receiving omens in her dreams.

Naadiya’s strong opposition to all things bad softened her worried expression a little, but the corners of her mouth were still tight. She watched Tazrae begin to gather her ingredients for the breads while reminding the Innkeeper of her old master.
“Marius Keane. Quite short for a man, square face… short, dark hair. Heavy eyebrows and dark eyes and he looks permanently angry. He always wears big gold rings on his right hand and likes to wear those expensive fabrics… you know, the shiny stuff and fur.” Oralie was not great with material possessions or luxury of any kind, and as such she did not know the word for silk. “You won’t be able to miss him if he is there…” While it was certainly within the realm of possibility that her old master might appear today, Oralie had a feeling he was not the ill tide approaching. Still, it would be a comfort to have extra sets of eyes on the lookout.

She could feel Naadiya working carefully on her hair, braiding strands near her scalp. “I didn’t dream about him though. I don’t really know exactly what it was I dreamed about. It was a creature… more of a being really, sort of humanoid I guess. It was made of shadows. It had these awful eyes, bright silver and like they were lit up from inside with a fire. It just stared at me and followed me without making a sound. You know when you can feel like something is wrong and your skin goes all bumpy? It felt like that, just horribly, horribly wrong.”

By the time she had finished speaking, Naadiya appeared to have finished her braid. Oralie was itching to see it, but it seemed there was more to be done. A little confused, she took the pillow the Benishra woman held out to her and let herself be gently eased forwards. Her shoulders involuntarily tensed at Naadiya’s touch, but she quickly realised what she was doing. A small, happy sigh escaped her as the woman’s hands gently eased the tightness from her neck.

Her voice was a little muffled when she responded to Tazrae again, but not so much that they wouldn’t understand her. “Oh yes… I am sure you remember the nightmares I had when I first arrived. They were specifically of my old master, I was convinced he was Hai-bent on getting me back. But they stopped a little bit ago.” She was quiet for a moment as Naadiya found a particularly tight knot. “But I’ve never had a dream like this one before… and I don’t believe I have ever walked about in my sleep either. I was so sure it was real. I woke up and ran out into the hallway, but then it turns out I wasn’t awake at all. It was so… strange.” Strange was an understatement, but she couldn’t think of a different word.

Eventually Naadiya had managed to loosen up Oralie’s tension. The Kelvic stood up and gave her a hug whether the Benishra woman wanted one or not - Tazrae’s habits were rubbing off on Oralie. “Thank you, that was wonderful!”

Oralie then decided to offer Taz some help. After all, one hundred bread buns was a lot to make in one morning. While she had no idea how to actually bake, she was reliable enough to measure ingredients. As she helped, she posed a question to the other women.
“Have either of you had funny dreams like that one before?”

After some more time had passed and many cups of flour had been measured, Oralie glanced out of the closest window. She squinted across the sea, her keen Kelvic eyes picking up something looming on the horizon. “I think The Veronica is approaching.” Judging from its size in the distance, the ship was still a ways off yet, which gave them some time to finish the breads and start heading over.

Oralie would help arrange the finished buns into baskets along with some of the usual punch Tazrae supplied for the Tendays. As the trio started the walk over, Oralie mused aloud at who to expect from the ship, momentarily forgetting all about omens and shadows. “I wonder if we will get any more permanent residents… it’s always nice to welcome new people. Didn’t Mathias say something about children at the last Tenday?”


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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Tazrae on April 6th, 2022, 4:01 am

Taz watched as Naadiya began to braid Oralie’s hair. It was such a nice thing to do for the Kelvic. The Innkeeper had no absolute knowledge of any sort of hair styling other than putting her hair up in a pony tail when activity called for it. Her mother, who was not her mother, had often worn her hair in elaborate braids, but had repeatedly told Tazrae that such things were not for little girls. And who would she make herself pretty for anyhow? Her guests didn’t mind. Naadiya had the most lovely long hair that looked like she brushed it so much it was cornsilk. But Taz’s full mane was kinked and curled and usually out of control. There wasn’t much she could do with it besides let it grow. Anything she put it in anyhow always invoked rebel actions in it and the stray strands would find their way out of anything she tried to braid it in.

It was something she’d never ask for herself, because who admitted they didn’t have such skills. But for Oralie, she’d ask it of Naadiya… if the woman would mind showing the Kelvic a few things. Taz didn’t think Oralie would ask for herself either. In that, the Kelvic and the human were a lot alike.

“You should teach her to do that for herself,” Tazrae suggested, her voice hesitant. “I don’t think she’s had anyone around that could teach her about hair and … well don’t take this wrong but you take really good care of your skin. I know you have fancy things you put on it. I’m not sure why, but maybe you could share some of that too. Oralie hasn’t really had anyone to show her those kinds of things.” The Innkeeper said as she continued her work baking the buns. “You know, if someone made something like that around here… soaps and lotions and things for helping with dried skin or chapped lips, it would be really popular.” She added, knowing it was true enough. It was something she’d like to learn for herself as well, but she doubted Naadiya could do anything with her tangled mop.

The conversation turned to the Tenday which was actually falling on the first, and Tazrae smiled. Oralie used to hate parties. “And to think, you used to be so nervous at these gatherings. I’m glad you like them now.” She added, smiling slightly. “The roasted pigs are one of my favorites too.” She added, turning around to pick up one of her kitchen towels and use it to reach into the oven and pull a tray of completed buns out. She set it aside, and then loaded another tray of doughy buns into the oven right after it. She checked the wood, decided to add a few more sticks to the oven, and went back to her baking.

“I don’t know what Brosh meant by something was coming… but it didn’t sound good. I don’t know anything at all about what’s coming. I wish I had some sort of foresight or something. But I don’t know anyone in my family that had that gift. “It might very well be another warning. Oralie have you ever had anything like this before?” Taz asked, curiously, as she brushed the finished set of buns with butter and sprinkled sesame seeds on them lightly. She didn’t stop the process she was doing… mixing dough, shaping buns, letting them rise, and letting the ones that had already risen join the ranks going in and out of the ovens. A hundred buns was a lot, but she’d told Randal she’d make that her contribution.

“I know exactly what feeling you are describing… I’ve felt that before. Some people call it ‘making ones skin crawl’… but those goosebumps are real. I used to get them at night in fear.” She added, looking thoughtful and feeling helpless to actually offer any advice to Oralie. “Naadiya, ever have any experiences like that? Foreshadowing or knowing whats going to happen before it does?” Taz asked, curious, though she was trying to figure out how Naadiya was doing all the neat braidwork in Oralie’s hair… but she wasn’t quite close enough for a clear picture. She wondered if braiding dough was the same thing? Did hair and dough have that similar thing in common? Taz grinned a moment at her own thought.

Then Naadiya started giving Oralie a massage, and Taz stared in fascination. She’d always wanted to be able to give massages to people here, but she knew so little about them. There was supposed to be a man setting up a practice of giving massages, but Tazrae knew almost nothing about them. She longed to be able to touch people in a way that would bring them pleasure like Naadiya was pleasuring Oralie. She could see the young Kelvic relax under the woman’s touch. Taz made a mental note to figure out if she could learn such a thing or not, and kept her assembly line baking on track.

When Oralie offered to help, Tazrae nodded and handed her a mixing bowl and showed her how to add the dry ingredients, then mix the wet ingredients together in a different bowl and then combine the two. Taz demonstrated how to turn the dough out onto a cutting board and how to knead it until it was elastic enough to be a bun. Then she showed Oralie how to cut and shape the buns, setting them aside and covered with a tea-cloth to rise. Once Oralie was mixing up batches, Taz asked Naadiya her question.

“Touching people like you touched Oralie… where did you learn that, Naadiya?” Taz was curious. She really did want to learn how to help people relax like that. There was one person who could use a little relaxing touch if things ever changed. That was a dream for another day though. Sunberth and Syka were worlds away. “I’d love to be able to do that.” She said thoughtfully, hopefully. Naadiya was turning into a real surprise. She knew so many things… Taz decided.

Then she switched out another set of buns, figuring they were about half done with the bake.

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"There's a place that I go that nobody knows. Where the rivers flow and I call it home.
And there's no more lies. In the darkness there's light.
And nobody cries. There's only butterflies..."


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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Naadiya on April 7th, 2022, 8:55 pm

Naadiya had grown up with sisters, both older and younger than she, and as Tazrae spoke, she realized that she maybe was missing that bond in some ways.

Her only older sister, Vindriyana, had been Naadiya’s closest friend all her life. She had never reached the same closeness with her twin, as they shared few common interests and when Naadiya tried teaching her younger sister, her efforts were met with the scorn of a rebel. By the time the youngest of their line came around, the seven year gap had become enough to discourage Naadiya from seeking camaraderie with the youth. Yet, different as they all were, it had still been the five of them against their parents, and against the world.

Mutual grieving could have brought the sisters closer together but it had soured their bond. There had had been far too much death. Having one parent die right after the other sent each sibling off in a different path. Things were said and done that she now imagined most of them regretted. But turning back time was easier said than done and she had left with a mission in mind. A mission she had seem to have neglected thus far.

Taking time to regain my footing is not neglecting the bigger task.

She had told herself this same line repeatedly, trying to count how many times would have been tedious at best. Even so, Naadiya found herself smiling at Tazrae’s suggestion and leaning in to Oralie.

“I will teach you any time you like! Or even just do you hair for you, I need to get more practice. Hair, skin, make-up, nails, you name it! Taz, you too, if you’re interested. I have enough products that we could all have a mini-spa-esque experience.”

Tazrae’s second suggestion had Naadiya seriously thinking as she worked Oralie’s braid.

Her training had always been weaving, and so, on more than one occasion it was Naadiya fell back on. She hadn’t even considered the possibility of doing something else in a profit-earning capacity. But it was true that Syka seemed to not have this niche checked off just yet. Naadiya could feel the seed planting itself in the back of her mind and had to resist the urge to slap herself on the wrist.

I may need to slow down, and not spread my self in to many direction and focus instead.

And yet…

Her home was not yet built and the business plan she had been scribbling in her journal was still in very early stages.

“You think people would go for something like that? I used to have recipes for powders that make hair less greasy too, and an oil mix if its too dry, frizzy or knotty or if you have something stuck in it and think you are going to have to cut it, I used to make a last-ditch-effort creamy oily pulp that was really useful... I had a fairly wild younger sisters who often got cacti in her locks… My mother used to teach us a ton of little tricks like that. I really need to find those recipes.”

The conversation flowed and the flaxen braids grew. While Naadiya may not have known of this Brosh character, she hoped whatever he had said would not come to pass, none of what she had heard thus far had sounded the slightest bit desirable.

When Tazrae turned the question on her, Naadiya froze unprepared, her hands almost clutched the hair in front of her and Naadiya had to quickly release her hold on a tress, not wanting the Kelvic’s first braiding experience to be tainted.

“I…I guess I have.” Naadiya busied herself, fussing with strands that needed no attention but the silence dragged on for what felt like an eternity, regardless of the sun not even budging in the sky outside. When the words did come to her, they rushed out of her mouth, “Not long before I came to Syka, actually, I don’t even know how to describe it, but I felt my twin die. Or- I don’t know what I felt. It was just bitter metal in my mouth, I couldn’t feel my limbs and, everything felt wrong and I just fell.”

She had grown quiet again but quickly rambled on after a short pause, “But maybe it was just a horrible reaction to bad rum and whatever those Svefra had me smoking!”

Kneading the Kelvic’s back, Naadiya simply tried to do what she would have enjoyed herself. Without any complaints, she continued while thinking of how awful Oralie’s life must have been in slavery. She and her sisters had often complained about their workload, comparing it to slavery but they had been foolish children who knew nothing of what they spoke. Slavery, true slavery, was worse that anything they had been through. Naadiya put the man’s description to mind. If the time ever came, she would gladly help dispatch him, risks be damned.

There is always a way, with enough will power behind you and a good enough plan. Poison in his bread. Snake in his bed. Spider in his shoe. Nothing too good for a slaver.

Oralie thanked her for the massage and went to help Tazrae with the buns. Naadiya put the brushes away and finished her tea before hesitantly going to help the others. Cooking had always been one of those things that simply had not come easy to the Benshira woman, and she couldn’t imagine baking could be so different.

Then, Oralie asked if either of them had any strange dreams and when Naadiya replied she did so with a slow pace.

“I.. had a… dream once. It was a while before my parents died... it didn’t make sense at the time, but hindsight is always much clearer… I suppose that would be the second time I felt such a feeling, though chronologically it happened first and I was asleep when it happened, only I had nothing to compare the sinking feeling to. Some people have dreams of paradise, power or sexual desires fulfilled. I have dreams of death, if I can call one them a 'daydream'.”

Naadiya had been almost sure her mother had strange daydreams, visions, or mental episodes. There had been times she would stare out in the blue, horror carved into her face, her eyes seeing nothing and yet they did see… something. Her grandmother had always tried to keep the episodes hidden, even among the family. Whenever anything Naadiya’s mother had said sounded odd, ominous or too close to unspoken truths, Grandmama would laugh, create some distraction and chide her daughter’s silly ‘intuition’.

Now of course, the woman was dead and beyond Naadiya’s reach, leaving so many questions unanswered.

Grandmother is still out there, presumably. But would she even answer me if I asked?

Naadiya had watched Oralie and Tazrae measuring ingredients but only jumped in when the dough was already formed. She washed her hands and went to the end of the counter where they had been working the dough on wooden cutting boards. Kneading dough turned out to mildly similar to kneading muscles. Soft, flabby muscles with no bones underneath. Maybe not too similar but she kneaded them still, trying not to make a too big a mess of things.

In the process of kneading, her hands started feeling as though they were sticking to the dough and desperately Naadiya glanced around.

Do I put oil on this? Should I oil my hands?

The thoughts were answered when she saw Tazrae using the powdery flour to keep the dough and board from sticking. She picked the bits of dough too stubborn to leave her fingers on their own and then rinsed again. Naadiya took a towel to dry her hands thoroughly before rubbing flour on both palms and sprinkling some on the doughy lump she had been working on.

She stayed within reach of the flour, and went back to rolling the blob until it took some recognizable shape. Naadiya had rolled her piece of dough too thin, but glanced at Tazrae with a curious look.

“Can we do a few different shapes?”

Her hands had already started rolling out another two lumps of dough into long oblong strips.

“We could have a long braid! Or connect both braided ends to make a bread wreath! Oh Gods, I haven’t those since Eyktol! Some people would even fold olives, garlic cloves and even herbs into the braids.”

Naadiya brought a handful of dough up to eye level and stretched it with both hands, a thin laugh escaping her lips.

“I always wondered how they did it, I thought the raw dough would have been more liquid for some reason.”

To answer Tazrae, Naadiya let go of the dough, a small smile on her lips.

“…I was taught…. A long long time ago… before my first marriage. Maybe if I had been better, I wouldn’t have had another two husbands right after! OR maybe that’s how good I am!”

She laughed lightly. The Benshira kept their children busy and had a strong focus on education, whatever form the learning might take. Informal circles of people sharing information was common in addition to the formal schooling most young people of a certain economic level received.

She smiled at Tazrae.

“If you had grown up amongst our people you probably would have had someone, at some point, try to convince you of the fertility benefits of massage and knowing where to massage.”

The tone of her voice dropped, almost as if she was telling them a secret, though in truth Naadiya doubted the legitimacy of the myth and it may have showed through her voice.

“There are supposedly hidden scrolls buried throughout the desert, illustrating specific spots on the body that if you touch, prick, rub certain oils on, or press hot stones to, you can bring forth different effects. The one most widely claimed is of course fertility, but they also say you can resist the need for sleep, or mute your hunger, or induce multiple body shaking orgasms!”

She laughed as she finished, taking in the looks on the other two faces.

“Well, Oralie looks relaxed, but not THAT relaxed, I’m obviously a terrible student! We should find a proper teacher.”

Then, glancing around at the ingredients out on the counters Naadiya got creative.

“What if we roll a few pieces of dough out? If you want, I could teach you both to braid! I don’t think it would take too long, but if you think we are pressed for time with so many rolls to make, I understand. But the dough is much easier to handle than a ton of tiny strands of hair, it would be a great way to start, and the little sections tear off a braided loaf so easily that they are basically a a bunch of small buns still attached. It would be like the grapes of the bread world!”


The three kneaded and rolled, floured and mixed, baked and even tasted a tiny piece of the bread. The kitchen heat on top of the regular Syka heat, had Naadiya dabbing a handkerchief around her neck with one hand as she held her hair up with the other as Tazrae and Oralie started packing the baked goods. With a pin and a twist, she massed her hair up in a bun secured far from her overly warm neck. Loose wisps blew in the wind when they were walking to the ship. She looked to Oralie, her lip raised in a sneer.

“Oh gods, I hope not. Children are the worst!”

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Once Upon a Curse [Taz/Naadiya]

Postby Oralie on April 26th, 2022, 11:03 am

Oralie’s features brightened at Tazrae’s suggestion to Naadiya, but she did not nod as she didn’t want to mess up the Benishra woman’s careful working. The gentle tugging on her hair definitely followed a pattern, though it felt too complicated for the Kelvic to try and visualise.
“I would love for you to teach me.” She smiled, though Naadiya would not be able to see the expression. “Tazrae is right, I never had anyone show me how to do my hair. Or anything for that matter. It would be so fun to do a spa day together, I like that idea Naadiya!”

There was a warmth nestling itself comfortably in Oralie’s chest. Was this truly what it felt like to have friends? She hoped that this feeling would last forever, for just knowing that there were people firmly in her circle for the first time overrode the rest of the lingering fear of her rude awakening.

Oralie cast her mind back when Tazrae asked her question, trying to recall if she had ever had the strange dreams or feelings before. “Mmm… I don’t think so. But then again this is the first time in my life that I have not had worry or fear in my every single day. In Syliras I was always worried that something awful would happen or that I wouldn’t last another day.” Perhaps letting herself release her permanent feelings of fear had opened her up to feeling more acutely when something larger was off.

She was pleasantly surprised when Tazrae trusted her to do more than just weigh the ingredients out for the buns. It was fascinating to her how the ingredients changed when mixed - the dry and the wet combining to make a springy dough. It took her a little bit to get the knack for kneading, but eventually she had a good technique that she suspected was not totally dissimilar to what Naadiya had been doing on her own shoulders.

The shaping was easier, and under Tazrae’s guidance she managed to make a batch of acceptable buns ready to prove before baking. Her expression flickered with concern as Naadiya told them of the dreams that she sometimes had. Oralie suppressed a shudder. “I hope it doesn’t become a frequent occurrence. I don’t remember the last time I felt that scared. Unless, you know, paradise decides to show up, that I can manage.” She smiled again in an effort to keep the mood a little lighter.

Naadiya seemed to be enjoying the baking, and was clearly much more creative than Oralie was. The Kelvic had figured out during her short time making pots that she was excellent at copying, but struggled to make any sort of designs of her own. She was momentarily surprised at somewhat of an offhanded comment from the woman. “You were married?” Naadiya seemed young to have been married more than once, but then again Oralie was totally unaware of Benishra culture.

She tipped another batch of dough out and began to knead it out, chuckling lightly before clearing her throat. “I uh, I’m quite relaxed enough I think!”

While the final set of buns baked, Oralie watched Naadiya as she braided some dough together. She recalled the pattern of tugging on her hair while it was being braided and nodded to herself as she put the visual together with the feeling. She pulled off a chunk of extra dough and rolled it out as Naadyia had done and then carefully tried to copy what she was doing. Three chunky strands wove over and under each other in a messy imitation of the neatly braided loaf produced by the Benishra woman. “Maybe we should save mine for us later.” A wry smile pulled at her mouth and she covered the loaf with a towel and set it to one side before helping to pack up the baked buns to take with them to the Tenday.

The sand was warm under Oralie’s bare feet, baskets on each arm filled with the fresh buns. Surprise lit her features as she turned to look at Naadiya. “Oh? I haven’t had a lot of interaction with children, I thought people usually loved them!” She looked at Tazrae. “Do you like children Taz?” She suspected the Innkeeper did, and would be surprised if she said otherwise.

The Veronica was approaching slowly enough that the trio had time to head up and drop off the buns and help out with some of the organisation before extra hands would be needed at the dock. Oralie laid out various cups and mugs near the punch bowls before ambling back down the beach to the dock proper.

She grinned and nudged Naadiya once she could get a clear view of some of the people along the ship's railings. “Told you, children!” The Kelvic watched as the ship carefully pulled in and was secured at the dock to allow the newcomers started to debark before the gathered residents could move on to unloading. Oralie went forward with Taz and Naadiya to start retrieving sacks and crates filled with all the things the settlement would need over the coming season.


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