Closed Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Shadekas sets out to pay back a favor.

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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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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shade on March 4th, 2022, 3:10 am

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Timestamp: 10th of Spring, 522 A.V.


The Veronica pulled into port among lingering fog that was obviously a product of an early morning rain shower in a place that knew the true meaning of hot. It had been a long journey for Shade. He still wasn't sure how Hardin had talked him into doing this. Shade owed him, that was for sure, and though the older monk had prepared him for entering the Monk's Order in Nyka as a child, he'd never asked a single thing of him until now.

Decades had passed.

His intel was almost nothing. That bothered the Monk more than he let on. He was to travel to Syka, keep his head down, and protect a woman that was husbandless and had a small infant son in tow. The son was important, someone special, and all he knew was that the woman was in danger. Hardin had said to take the woman to the last frontier, the place where no one would look for a woman with a young child and protect her.

He didn't know what she looked like. He didn't know how old she was. He didn't even know if she was human or not. He assumed she was, but wouldn't lay cold-hard Mizas on it. Shiress and Ian.

He'd expected to board The Veronica, have a word with the captain who was some sort of Founder of this Syka he was heading for... and find a lone woman with a child. Only, that wasn't the case. The ship was filled with children. Some of them had traveled with him from Sunberth and more had joined them in Zeltiva and Syliras. Orphans... older... in need of homes looking for a place that had no children and evidently no source for children. They weren't slaves either. If they had been, Shade would have rethought his agreement to Hardin's doings and returned home.

Instead, these kids were pandered to and the Captain himself was being run ragged caring for them. There literally had been no time to have a quiet talk with James. Instead, Shade had found himself press-ganged into childcare and currently stood with a young child on either hip as he contemplated their approach to the Settlement. Lizzy or Izzy? He glanced at either little girl and wondered which was which for the hundredth time.

They were staring equally wide-eyed at the approaching dock and then looked up at him. "Are we here yet?"

Shade's lazy smile reached his eyes. "So it would seem." He said, glancing at either one of the girls. "Do you have bags?" He asked, glancing around. The girls shook their heads.

"We weren't allowed to bring anything." The said in unison.

Shade nodded, hiked one up higher on his hip, and wandered to where they were currently bumping against the dock and laying a gang plank out. He debarked with the rest of the crowd and paused at what appeared to be a mustering point in a lofted space above what looked like a Commons. He made his way in that direction until he found what he was looking for. Mistress Hess was mustering the children altogether with what looked like locals pitching in to help get the group together. He counted twelve kids as he deposited the twins in the group, setting the pair of six-year-olds at a table where someone was ladling them all out drinks.

He raised an eyebrow at the Mistress and asked her with a cheerful smile. "I'm looking for someone named Shiress. Does anyone know who she is or where I can find her?" He asked carefully, frowning because it seemed people were coming out of the woodwork, melting out of the jungle to help herd the children and unload the ship.

It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen. The dock wasn't big enough for longshoremen. There was no freight staged. Instead, people of all varieties were walking up to the ship, grabbing part of its cargo, and taking it back to a large covered area in the Commons where the captain was roaming with a clipboard and doing some sort of checklist.

Shade thought that might be a good place to start looking for Shiress and her son. He had to find the woman first, then, if possible, acquire lodging, and look over the supplies to see what would be needed for the near future.

Approaching James... he asked again. "I'm looking for a Shiress, Captain. Do you know who I'm talking about? I'm supposed to meet her here." He said gently, offering the man a slow lazy smile. "I couldn't find her in all the children on the ship. I've never expected your cargo to be... kids." He added, smiling at the man.
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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shiress on March 4th, 2022, 8:56 pm

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"I don't think you'll be able to come back, Shiress. Not for a long time."

Those were the last words that Nolan had said to Shiress, just before handing her a coin pouch and nodding toward the ship docked at a Syliran port, a reluctant grimace marring his handsome face. Shiress had mutely nodded her understanding, picked Ian up in her arms, turned, and boarded the ship.

Shiress hadn't even told her parents goodbye, and when she had begun to make her way to Milo to wake the boy, Nolan had grabbed her arm and shook his head. She would be going alone. It was too dangerous. What her family didn't know, they couldn't be forced to tell the Ebonstryfe. Shiress had wanted to argue but didn't. How could she? Since finding out Nolan's true purpose for showing up in Zeltiva, Shiress had known her time in the place she called home was at an end.

Nolan, as it turned out, was not an ex-Syliran Knight from Syliras, but an Ebonstryfe soldier from Ravok sent to steal away Shiress's son and return him to the Caldera's who awaited word on the soldier's successful mission. After nearly two seasons of no word, Ravok had sent another. Nolan's commander, Thane had shown up ready and able to complete the mission that Nolan evidently could not. After Thane's arrival, Nolan sent word to family. Not a fortnight later, after a long overland journey to Syliras, The Veronica pulled away from the fortified city with her aboard, alone, carrying her away from her only family.

The journey was a long, arduous one that Shiress likely would have found herself wrapped completely in despair and loneliness, except for one thing. Or an abundance of things.

Children!

The Veronica was full of children!

It hadn't taken long for word to get around to Mistress Hess that there was a doctor aboard the ship, and she immediately set the Zeltivan to the task of physical examinations straight away. The kids, for their part, about a dozen of them, were all healthy and seemed to be in good spirits, despite their uncertain future. Shiress could learn a lot from their attitude.

Shiress's toddler son, Ian, was a massive hit with the kids and promptly made friends with many of the young ones. To Shiress's relief, which meant she had many sitters to choose from. One young girl, in particular, had grown a close bond with Ian over the long journey, and, if Shiress was honest, she, too, had grown close to the girl. Senora was a beautiful twelve-year-old, with the strangest, most unique eyes that Shiress had ever seen. Somewhere between blue and green, the girl's eyes shimmered like jewels and weren't dissimilar to the color of the very sea that The Veronica sailed across.

When Shiress first met Senora, someone had gone to great links to change the girl's appearance by cutting her hair near the scalp. Over the many weeks aboard the ship, however, Senora's hair had begun to grow out a glossy dark, nearly black, laying over her ears now and nearly reaching the line of her collar, and when the sun hit it just right, it shined with streaks of deep blue. The young girl was truly a beauty. Shame, though, she didn't believe it.

Senora was very quiet and avoided others on the ship, staying wherever Shiress was. Even sleeping with her and Ian. It had taken many days for the girl to even speak. Many more for her to give her name. But, eventually, Shiress had gained the little girl's trust. Still, though, to this day Senora refused to speak of any family and it was just a few days ago that she had referred to a grandfather by his surname, calling him 'grandpa Whinterflame'. Had it not been for the girl's mishap, Shiress may have never learned the girl's full name. Senora Winterflame. Just like the young one herself, the name was beautiful. A pity she made Shiress swear seven ways to Rhysol's nightmares not to repeat it to anyone.

"What we waitin' on?" Senora asked, breaking in on Shiress's apprehension and bringing her thoughts back where they should be.

Syka.

Shiress, Senora, and Ian stood aboard the ship's deck, looking out at what was to be their new home and none of them in much of a hurry to disembark. For Shiress's part, she had no clue what to do. So, Shiress just stood there, looking like an invalid, watching everyone else walk about the boat and the nearby beach, heart hammering, sweat beading her forehead. Senora stood beside her, tucked up to the doctor's side like she feared someone might snatch her away. Even Ian looked subdued, held tightly in the little girl's arms, head resting on her bony chest, thumb wedged tightly between his lips.

Nolan had explained that a family member would meet her here, in Syka, and that this family member was a monk. He gave a name, but for the life of her, Shiress couldn't recall it. A monk, though, she thought she would recognize. They were bald and tucked their hands into the sleeves of long, flowing robes, right? Easy enough, but to Shiress's horror, no one looked the part. In fact, there were no robes, and what clothes the locals wore left much to the imagination. The sight made the doctor blush furiously.

Just as Shiress was about to open her mouth to answer the girl, she heard her name called just before the captain, James, she thought was his name, turned, glanced around until his eyes fell on her, then pointed straight at her. Shiress watched on as a dark-haired man left the captain's side and headed her way, his deep blue eyes trained on her. Gods, but she had never seen such blue eyes before.

As the man approached, she glanced down with a gentle, reassuring smile for Senora and Ian, then tried hard not to let that smile falter as she turned to the stranger who stopped before her. The man was tall. Taller than her five-foot-four frame, but he had a gentleness about him in the way he peered down at her that immediately put Shiress at ease. Her smile broadened, even if at that moment she didn't feel much like smiling.

"You're the monk?" she said, then promptly flushed crimson, embarrassed that she had no clue what to call the man, and thrust a hand out. "I'm Shiress and this," with some difficulty she managed to maneuver the girl away from her side, but her eyes remained downcast. Ian, however, perked up, lifting his head and grinning around the thumb in his mouth, "is Senora, and the little guy is Ian, my son."



Word Count: 1130

Last edited by Shiress on March 10th, 2022, 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shade on March 7th, 2022, 2:47 am

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James chuckled at Shadekas in response to his statement about the cargo being children. “It’s a new one to me as well. Someone at one of our meetings every ten days… which we creatively enough call our 'Tendays', suggested we pick up some orphans from Syliras and even as far away as Zeltiva and Sunberth. We put out the word, and the Svefra seemed to have gathered them from everywhere and offloaded a dozen on me in Syliras. We have plenty of food in Syka and want to expand out our craftsman workforce by possibly linking up to some young ones without prospects to craftsmen here without kids. The idea was to have a sort of apprenticeship all ready to go that the kids can be raised with. We just have to figure out which ones have aptitudes for which crafts and which craftsman are responsible enough to take on apprentices.” James said, looking a little daunted. “So we hired a High Mistress who had lots of governess experience to go with them. And we weeded out the twelve most intelligent ones we could find.” He said, offering Shade an explanation because he knew how it looked.

“If we were planning on anything nefarious for them, we’d have transported them in the cargo hold with the rest of the trade goods. But we don’t consider people trade goods in Syka.” James said, then glanced around.

He spotted Shiress and her young son still on the ship with one of the more shy girls… Senora he thought. “She’s up there. The dark-haired one.. kinda pretty. Has the little boy and the black-haired girl with her.” He added, gesturing to the woman in question. “She’s been something of a healer on the way, patching up skinned knees and bloody scrapes and bruises. I don’t remember my own girls being so accident-prone, but these kids can sure …. “ He said, shaking his head and cutting off what he was about to say when he saw a sailor approach. And then he was busy, too busy to offer Shade an introduction. He left the Monk on his own to go introduce himself to Shiress.

Shade wandered back up the gangplank, dodging people that were carrying freight down. He made his way through the crowd that seemed to materialize out of the jungle and approached the woman with the two children. He put out his hands and slowed two children racing dangerously through the crowd and barked at them to ‘walk and watch where you are going!” before he made it to the women’s side. He studied her curiously, watching her focus on the young boy and older girl with her.

“Shiress?” He said, his face curiously open. “Captain said you were Shiress. I’ve been looking for you. I had no idea you were on the same ship. I would have introduced myself prior to this.” He said, looking thoughtful. “Hadrian sent me. He owed Nolan and I owed Hadrian. He couldn’t get away, not with his duties, but I was more than willing for a change so here I am. I know its not an ideal situation, but it is what it is. I have a pack to grab from my berth, then if you’d like, I can escort you wherever you’d like. I don’t know what the housing situation is here, but I have a tent I can put up nearly anywhere. I don’t have the coin for long-term housing until I find employment to support it.” He said thoughtfully, studying the woman. He sure hoped she came prepared for the wilderness and to survive here. Or, failure in that, had enough coin to buy herself a nice place to rent or a room at an Inn for the boy’s sake. Shade could sleep anywhere. He didn’t need creature comfort. But he suspected the woman wouldn’t be so easily housed.

“I think we need to talk to one of the founders too… before we stay. At least that’s what James said when I talked to him about staying on at Syka earlier in the voyage. I also heard they are cooking up some sort of communal meal for the sailors and visitors if you are hungry. Can I escort you?” He asked, lifting an eyebrow and offering her a smile. “Let me just go grab my gear. Wait here?” He said, then vanished for a moment, returning with a bulging pack slung over his shoulder, a bow, and a quarterstaff which he leaned on. The man literally looked like he had all his possessions in tow.

“I don’t know about you, but the first order of business here for me is going to be to find some lighter clothing. It was winter in Nyka when I left and all the furs I brought are not going to be comfortable for anything but sleeping on.” He added, shrugging in his heavily lined winter shirt. It was sweltering in the heat already, and it was only midmorning. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t been wearing winter weight clothing. But Shade grossly miscalculated the dress conditions here.

He offered Shiress a smile as a young bow approached the dark-haired girl with unusual eyes. “Senora! They are making food for us!” The little green-eyed boy with brown hair said. “Come on! I’m starving!” He said, reaching out to take Senora’s hand. When she nodded to him, obviously knowing him, he took Shiress’ hand and began to drag her towards the gangplank as well. Slade laughed, turning to the woman, and shrugged even as he started forward.

“Looks like we don’t have a choice do we?” The boy almost tripped, his pants too long for his thin frame, and Shadekas reached out to right the child and keep him from tumbling off the gangplank to the turquoise waters below. The kid grinned in thanks then shrugged off Shadekas’ hand and raced ahead with Senora. Everyone who wasn’t burdened with packs was already heading to the Commons.

“Do you have baggage? Let me put my stuff down somewhere and get you guys settled and I’ll go back for it.” He offered, not sure if she was in a cabin or had a berth as he did in the common area. Eventually, the small group ended up at the tables under the Community Events Center adjacent to the Communal Kitchens. There was a line forming for the food, but people were still unloading the ship. Shadekas saw Shiress settled, then hurried to help with the unloading and to see to any of her baggage she might have.

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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shiress on March 7th, 2022, 6:50 pm

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If Shiress had thought once, on her long journey, that this place was like any other city she had found herself in and that she was actually ready for Syka, she would have been so very wrong. Shade, for his part, seemed to have at least asked the right questions and the captain had given helpful answers.

Nolan had packed Shiress and Ian's bags and informed her that she and her son would have to just "start over," and had left it at that. Shiress was walking into Syka no better than a blind and deaf woman, knowing nothing of its culture, people, laws, or even where she and Ian would sleep in a few bells, let alone call home for the foreseeable future.

Shiress felt utterly lost, very close to tears, and was thankful when Shade had left her alone to fetch his belongings. Chimes since meeting the man and already she was having to hide vulnerability and do everything in her power not to fall to the ship's deck and squall like Ian in the throes of a tantrum. Though now that the monk was gone, and the Zeltivan was alone once again, gazing out into the unknown Syka jungle, she suddenly wished he was back.

"Hey now, you look about out of sorts as a cat in a dog's parade."

Shiress jumped a little, turning to see captain James strolling toward her up the gangplank, his arms full of huge, thick ropes, and gave the man a small smile.

"No, just a bit overwhelmed is all." she replied, tucking a loose strand of hair behind an ear. "I don't even know where to begin." she added, gazing back over the many new faces that had appeared on the beach.

"Well, a place to lay your head is a good start. You need to talk to a founder, as I told your companion earlier, they'll help get you settled." the captain said, then nodded toward Ian still held tightly in Senora's arms, "Staying anywhere near the water might be worrisome, what with a little one running around, but there's a nice inn, or bed and breakfast some might call it. The Protea, run by a real nice lady by the name of Tazrae. Nice rooms and three meals a day'll cost ya about 120 gold a season." James shrugged, noncommittally, turning to walk away, "Just a thought," he threw back over his shoulder, "keep close to that Shade fella, good head on his shoulders, that one. He'll see ya right."

Shiress nodded, although the captain had disappeared from view. She'd have to ask Shade about the founder both men had now mentioned. Must be important and she wasn't ready to make enemies already in Syka. At least she had an idea of where she and Ian could stay, if only temporary, and with her meager cooking skills, at least they would starve staying at The Protea. Maybe Shade could pitch his tent nearby, or even he might could--

Shade's voice startled her from her thoughts -god's but she was on edge- and the man's statement about his misjudged attire obliged Shiress to examine her own clothing. Long sleeve tunic in a boring brown, ankle-length skirt belted at her waist in a darker boring brown. Shiress suddenly felt like an old troglodyte in her drab garb and her long hair twisted and tied this way and that, like she'd styled it in the high winds at sea. Maybe she had.

"I think Ian and I could use a few lighter things as well." she said, but Shade's attention was now on an excited little boy in the midst of attempting to pull Senora away to eat.

Shiress reached down and pulled Ian from the girl, propping the toddler on a hip, just as her hand was seized. She gasped at the touch. She couldn't help it, the man's big hand was warm, his hold gentle, and the slight roughness of his calloused fingers was welcoming somehow. Even a touch like this, innocent and friendly, was so foreign to Shiress, it nearly stole the breath straight out of her lungs.

Then he laughed -a real laugh- that sounded so genuine and carefree that Shiress couldn't help but reciprocate. Nor could she help the fact that when the little boy nearly fell, she took a stolen moment to tug at the confines of her hair, freeing it to lay in gentle waves down the length of her back, nearly past her hips. Ian's legs kicked happily when he decided to help by pulling fistfuls of long strands around Shiress's shoulders, then gently patting the locks in place along her chest.

Shiress was grinning down at her son when Shade asked about her baggage. Her eyes grew wide.

Her baggage!!

"I completely forgot! I laid them against the railing, near where we were standing on the deck."

This time when Shade strolled away, Shiress watched him go.

The monk looked nothing close to what she had imagined him to be. Actually being handsome was the first dawning contradiction. Okay, the man was petching beautiful, if Shiress was to be honest. The man had the most striking azure eyes the doctor had ever seen, framed by his near black curls and a dusting of dark facial hair....yeah, Shiress was crushing hard on her new protector.

God's help her, but she didn't need a new love life to go along with her new life. Did she?

By the time Shade returned, Shiress sat among others, contently nibbling on a vast array of new-to-her foods, and though she had heard the names of the food as her plate was filled, she'd fail upon trying to repeat them. Banana's, apparently, was Ian's new favorite. The toddler sat in Shiress's lap, helping himself to her plate, the squishy fruit oozing between the fingers of one chubby fist while the other crammed a thin chunk of cheese into his mouth.

"I hope you don't mind," Shiress called out, once Shade was in earshot, "I saved you a place and..." she blushed "made you a plate." She pointed to each of the several helpings on the plate, attempting to remember the names of each. "Um, pineapple and cheese, banana, melon, I think, salted pork, and bread." Shiress grinned up at shade, feeling victorious.

As the monk slid in beside her, Ian attempting to feed him a squished banana, Shiress spoke again.

"I..uh..spoke to the captain and he told me of an inn that has rooms available that I can afford." Ian began to wiggle, so Shiress let him slide from her lap to plop on his rear, playing in the sand. "You could stay with me, I mean if you want to. Just until you get a job and have money for your own room. Or whatever you want to live in." Shiress was all nerves now, furiously blushing to the tips of her ears. "I know we have to talk to a founder first. Whoever they are, but it was just a thought. I'm sure the inn has a room with a bed. Or two beds because, of course, you don't have to sleep with me. I mean, in the same bed...not like..you know, not really sleeping. I mean we can if you would want to!"

Emerald green eyes flew wide when Shiress realized what she had said. "Not that! Just sleep! You know asleep all night and nothing else. I mean, I don't mind sharing. A bed." Shoulders slumping, Shiress took a quick bite of bread, chewed, swallowed. "Something to think about while we wait to talk to a founder s'all."

Looking down, Shiress expected to see Ian still sitting and playing where she had put him, but he wasn't, and when her searching gaze didn't immediately spot the toddler nearby, a jolt of fear ran down Shiress's spine. Spinning around, she jumped to her feet, near frantic, only to spot the boy several paces away, stumble walking determinedly toward a kneeling figure holding his arms out, as if waiting for the baby to run into them.

The man straightened and Shiress froze.

"No!" she said, then louder, "No! No! No! Ian!"

Elijah Jordan, Shiress's slavemaster, the slavemaster that she had stabbed to death, grinned back at her, his face oddly colorless, contrasting with the bright red blood staining one corner of his mouth, and her son was running right to him.

Shiress screamed, a sound befitting that of a mother terrified for her child's life, and started running.



Word Count: 1443

Last edited by Shiress on March 10th, 2022, 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shade on March 9th, 2022, 5:20 am

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Shade wasn’t sure this duty was going to be easy. He had no idea what kind of danger the woman was in and Nolan hadn’t been specific. It was the sort of thing that Hadrian had said he’d need to ask the lady herself about. Shade returned in time to catch the tail end of the conversation James had with Shiress. He heard the cost of the Inn and was surprised. It was actually affordable enough for him to take a room. He nodded at the Captain who put in a good word for him, wondering how many people were vested in keeping Shiress alive.

His voice was an easy drawl, almost lazy, and definitely Nykan when he spoke. He also didn’t return alone. A large white raven perched on his shoulder, shifting from foot to foot looking thoughtfully around. “New Place.” The white bird said, nibbling at the Monk’s hair as she studied Shiress and the little boy. This time the monk had Shiress’ and Ian’s baggage with him. He piled her things with his, then looked over the plate of food and grinned. “Thank you, Lady Shiress, you are thoughtful.” He said politely studying the new fruits and pork. He recognized the bread. “This is a change from Nyka. In Nyka we deliver food daily to people, rationing it out carefully. This is far more than we’d eat in one day.” He said, laughing at Ian as the boy offered him a bit of banana. He bent over, pretended to be a monster, and nom nommed on the squished piece of fruit.

Ian squealed in delight and Shade ended up with a face full of banana. The pair laughed at each other.

Wiping banana off his face, Shade turned back to Shiress nodding. “I overheard the captain. You know, he’s actually one of those Founders we need to talk to, right?” Shade said with a grin. “Your offer is generous, but I can afford a room at the rate he quoted if that indeed is the price. I anticipated housing to be much higher. I know the bungalows sell for eight hundred and a half, so that’s out of my price range. But I anticipate having to get a job. Your offer is generous, but it would not be appropriate. I would not take a woman and her son’s bed. Had they not been so affordable, I might take you up on the offer and bunk on the floor.” He added, but looked thoughtfully at her. “But perhaps they can give us side-by-side rooms so you have someone close by.” He added. “Many thanks again.” He said, reaching out and touching her arm to stop her words.

He could tell she was tripping over her own tongue and he understood why. An amused smile flicked across his face, lighting up his eyes momentarily. He wasn’t laughing at her, just at how tangled she’d just gotten. Shade realized it was a lot to take in… a move across the world and trying to figure out where to settle down in a strange place in a strange room. “I’m homeless here too. It is unnerving. I know nothing of this place and I hardly know what I am protecting you from. We will figure it out together, Shiress.” He assured her, taking a deep breath and sitting down to finish the meal. Shade wasn’t much for paranoia. He was reactive rather than proactive. And he always assumed if things were meant to be, they’d work out. Thus, this trip was meant to be because it worked out. He was here. Shiress was here. Now all he needed to do was to figure out what exactly was going on.

“Before we get to the Inn… we need to actually talk to each other before we even talk to the Founders. Now, you know I came because Hadrian owed Nolan a favor. And I owed Hadrian a favor… but I’m still at a loss why I am actually here. I think you should tell me everything so I’m up to speed with why you are here and what I am supposed to be protecting you from.” He said calmly, all the while putting away a great deal of food as he was speaking.

Shade jerked his head up at Shiress’ frantic outburst. He was moving before Shiress could blink. Opal took wing to the nearest perch as Shade had the young boy captured and swung around and up on his hip headed back to his mother before the boy knew what hit him. He caught Shiress’ elbow to halt her headlong flight after her child. Bracing himself, he held her back and whispered. “I got him. You don’t want to make a scene your first five chimes off the boat do you?” He hissed slightly, then deposited Ian in Shiress’s arms one-handed while still quietly restraining the mother. “It was just a little boy wandering off… no need for screaming.” He added, shaking his head and dropping his voice to a more calm level. “It’s okay Shiress. There’s nothing here. You have Ian. Sit down… lets talk.” He added, having not seen the ghost nor anything remotely like Shiress did.

“If I don’t know what’s going on, I can’t help…. “ He said, steering Shiress around by an elbow and heading her and Ian back towards the table they’d been sitting at and also to where there stuff was. “Take a deep breath. Kiss your little boy. And start talking…” He said, suddenly finding nothing funny about the woman’s terror and the boys ability to take off on a dime.

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Last edited by Shade on March 10th, 2022, 1:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shiress on March 10th, 2022, 1:12 am

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From one moment to the next, Shiress had gone from pure terror, to staring into imploring, cobalt blue eyes.

Shade's eyes, she realized, blinking at the monk, then at the now empty spot where Elijah had just stood. He had been there, hadn't he? Shiress had seen him, plain as day, and the man had grinned back at her. She shook her head as if to clear it, arms going around her son protectively.

"I'm sorry," she said, gaze shifting back to Shade's, then repeated herself louder so those looking on might hear, "I'm sorry. I'm just tired from the long journey and thought I saw-" The monk began pulling the doctor back toward the table. Shiress turned her head, struggling to look back over her shoulder to where Elijah had been, "it just scared me," she added in a mumble, more to herself than anyone else. Giving in to Shade's relentless tug, she let herself be pulled away.

Turning her attention inward, the doctor gave herself a quick internal examination as they walked. She felt okay. A little tired, perhaps, and a whole lot hot. Maybe it was the heat? Perhaps it was stress. Or, possibly Shiress was finally losing what little hold she had on her sanity.

Shiress had been listening to Shade as he spoke, finding his reassuring words calming, but the man's snappish tone, and seeming loss of patience, had her lifting her gaze to study his face more closely. She couldn't blame the man, though. Here he was, agreeing to protect a woman and child from an unknown danger in a strange land, and she had just acted like a lunatic.

Brushing back the hair from her shoulders, Shiress did as instructed, inhaling deeply as she slid onto the bench at the table. Ian immediately began picking things off her discarded plate, shoving them into his mouth. Shiress planted a rogue lock of hair behind an ear, wondering where to begin her tale. Glancing down at the slave mark scarring the inside of her wrist, a haphazard and messy tattoo of her name, she grimaced. Sharing her past as an enslaved person never came easy for the Zeltivan, but she owed Shade answers.

"I was a slave, in Ravok." Shiress swallowed hard, "I was owned by the Lark family, by Radcliffe Lark, the grandson of the monarch. In the summer of 518, an Ebonstryfe soldier named Elias Caldera bought me to free me, but the exchange wasn't agreed upon. Elias threw a trunk of gold at Radcliffe Lark's feet and told him I was bought and paid for. Radcliffe ended up drawing a knife and, before I knew what was happening, I had the knife and was shoving it into the man's back."

Shiress blocked Ian's hand from cramming something into her mouth before redirecting it to his.

"Sometime later, I found out that the blade severed something vital, and Radcliffe was unable to move anything from his chest down. Things were quiet after that, for a while, at least, and Elias and I grew close. He told me of a Caldera family curse; a blood curse passed from father to son. He never told me in detail what exactly the curse did, but he did tell me that the only way to end it was to end the Caldera bloodline and that his grandfather wanted to see it ended."

Shiress paused to run her hand across Ian's soft hair, looking pensive.

" In early Winter of 519, Elias left one morning on a mission on the behest of Ebonstryfe commanders, and he never came home. Just a couple of days after he went missing, I found out I was pregnant with his son, Ian." Shiress smiled down at the boy when his head jerked up upon hearing his name.

"Late the following Spring, when I was nearly ready to give birth, I was attacked in Elias's home by a man with a dagger. He stabbed me low on my stomach, where my unborn baby would be. I thought for sure he had killed my baby." Shiress shuddered, then drew in a long breath. "The only thing the man said to me was 'regards from the Caldera's, but Radcliffe Lark sends his condolences' and then he stabbed me. She hesitated a tick before adding, "Early on in my pregnancy, I actually met and spoke with Rhysol,"

Glancing up, Shiress studied Shade's face briefly, gauging his reaction and wondering how much she should share of the quest Rhysol had sent her and several other companions on before she continued, "I was sent on a sort of quest, which isn't important right now, but what is important, I think, is that, before I went, I asked Rhysol to protect my unborn baby. I believe that is the only reason that my baby survived the night I was stabbed; Rhysol's protection still surrounded him weeks later. I fled Ravok that very night, bloody and injured, and gave birth to a healthy Ian on the way home to Zeltiva."

Shiress turned her attention on her son, struggling to tear apart a larger piece of bread. Prying it from the toddler's hand, she broke off a small amount and handed it to him.

"A few seasons after arriving in Zeltiva, I met Nolan. Several seasons after that, Nolan admitted who he truly was to me." Shiress squirmed where she sat, suddenly uneasy, and cleared her throat, "The Ebonstryfe had sent Nolan and Hadrian from Ravok, to search my home town of Zeltiva, in case I fled back home," she gave a humorless snort, "and he found me. Thankfully he had a change of heart and informed me of his mission. It seems Nolan and Hadrian were sent to kill me, then take Ian back to Ravok. Nolan told me I wasn't safe, and I had to leave. You know the rest."

She sighed, glancing up, pinning Shade with an emerald glare. "I know that's a lot of information, and you are probably realizing right now that you want to be as far, far away from me and my drama as you can get, and I don't blame you. I don't even know how the Lark's and Caldera's are linked, if they both want me dead, or if they're allied in their hate and have joined together on hunting me down." she glanced away, looking ashamed. " It's a lot, I know, and I'm sorry you've been placed in the middle of it."

Silence descended as Shiress's son let out what sounded like a mixture of a squeal and a cackle as the giant white bird that Shade had brought back with him from the ship attempted to peck gently at the bread wedged between Ian's chubby fingers. Shiress tried to pet the thing, but the bird hopped back out of her reach.

"He's beautiful, or she is. I've never heard a bird talk before." she laughed, shaking her head, "I don't think anything surprises me anymore, though." with a shiver, she shot a look over her shoulder, back to where she had thought Elijah had been."This place is a little creepy." she admitted, turning back, "Maybe, since we have already talked to a founder, which I didn't realize Captain James was actually, we can go and check into our rooms? I'd like it if you were close by, like you said. Maybe just for a little while, just until I've learned a little more about Syka," she smiled, and I'd like to change into something cooler, also." Shiress had to stop and think if she even had anything cooler to change into, then grimaced, looking unsure. "Or maybe we could go shopping for proper clothes?"


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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shade on March 11th, 2022, 2:50 am

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She gave him a lot of information in a short amount of time. Shade needed time to process all of it and sort it into neat little compartments in his mind to reflect on and consider the problem. “It’s understandable. Sit. Eat. We’ll get settled soon enough and we’ll get some better clothing too. I have no idea if they have a tailor here or if things are premade. But it will wait… all of it… for just a bit. Catch your breath. You are at the edge of the world. I think the mind is often afraid of us loosing our focus and puts things in front of us to remind us to be on guard.” He added, thinking that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

While Shiress breathed, Slade tried to put it all together. Shiress was a slave from Ravok of the Lark family. She’d never been actually emancipated, but had been taken from her owner by a Caldera. Okay. The names meant nothing to him, but then he wasn’t of Ravok and had very little to do with that city other than Hadrian joining the Ebonstryfe.

He added to his mental tally. Shiress paralyzed her owner in a not so accidental way when her lover was trying to free her. She had a child by that Caldera, but he was missing and presumed dead. Had she said that or only implied it? Somewhere in there, a curse existed. She didn’t know what the curse was. Shade was glad of that for knowing curses gave curses power. Ignoring them tended to cause them to fade.

“I’m sorry but I don’t know who Rhysol is.” Shade said thoughtfully, furrowing his brow. Did Hadrian have another friend? There was some stabbings going on – common enough in Nyka – and Shiress evidently survived that one and gave birth to a healthy son. And here it was three years later.

“Did the men that stabbed you know you survived it?” He asked thoughtfully. That detail seemed pretty important.

So Shiress was a slave, on the run, with a child from a prominent Ravokian family, most likely escaped from a prominent Ravokian family, and had ended up in Syka with her son because of Nolan and Hadrian. Gods. Shade lifted his hand and ran it through his tussled brown hair. He needed a haircut and a straight shot of whiskey. And probably a street fight to break up to feel better about all of this. Glancing around, Shade decided his desire to beat some thugs senseless wouldn’t be fulfilled here by any means. And something told him breaking up the babboons he’d spotted on the edge of the settlement wouldn’t have nearly the same therapeutic effect.

He was already homesick.

But he owed Hardrian, so here he was. And truth be told he needed to get out of Nyka. He needed to do something different with his life. He was tired of the circular logic that existed in Nyka that was slowly choking the life out of him. Shiress’ confession about Nolan and Hadrian being on a mission to kill her and retrieve Ian took him aback a bit. Hadrian wasn’t that sort.

“My question is why they would want to kill you. I mean… you attacked a Lark. I assume that’s an important man. Is this some sort of revenge contract or something? And why send Hadrian and Nolan. Hadrian is one of the most pacifistic people I know.” Shade said thoughtfully, his brow furrowing. Not everything she said added up, but then again, she didn’t have the whole picture either… just the parts she was involved in.

“Indeed. We probably took the same boat the whole way. I took the time to catch up on some of my reading and research so I wasn’t above deck much.” He said thoughtfully. At her apology he just waved it off. “The likelihood of them finding you here is pretty low. How hard they look depends on the why. You’d have been better off to fake your death before you left and that of your son’s.. but it’s a bit late for that. Hopefully you didn’t travel under your real name and taught your son to answer to a different name as well.” He said, lifting an eyebrow hopefully. Sailors weren’t the best at talking, though, so it depended on how she’d gotten to Syliras as to if anyone in the Caravan’s or perhaps a hired coach remembered her.

Opal flew down to Shade’s shoulder then, scolding him with a clattering beak at springing after the child so fast and dislodging her from his shoulder. He lifted a hand and scratched at the bird’s head, right behind her ears. “This lovely lady is Opal. We’ve been together nearly a decade. And she’s never said a word before Syka… so I think its something about the other birds or the city. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a bird talk here so far. And Opal herself seemed surprised she’s uttering a word or two it seems.” He added.

“Finding the Inn and dropping off our things is a good idea. We can check in and maybe stretch our legs a bit. We’ve eaten already, so that’s a plus.” He said, eyeing all her luggage. Shade carefully picked up what he could carry, added it to his things, and left a bit for her and the child to manage. Then, with a quick asking of directions from people that looked local, he had a rough estimate of where they should go and walked with the pair through the Commons until they found a cobbled path leading north.

“I know we know next to nothing about each other, Shiress… but I’d like to know a bit about you. It will help me watch over you. Just some general things… habits, hobbies, likes, dislikes… maybe what you are skilled at. Do you have a profession? I’ve always been a Monk so there’s nothing much to talk about with me.” He added, trying to be polite about his curiosity. Shade was a gentle soul brought up in a rough city. He never had much need to roam, though the abject poverty and constant hunger that plagued Nyka. That was one of the appeals of Syka. Hadrian had sworn the city had different conditions and a different culture. Now, Hadrian hadn’t exactly elaborated on the culture, but different was better in Shade’s mind than what he considered a constant drudgery.
.
Syka had no Aperture.

That’s all Shade had needed to know to hit the caravan and then board The Veronica.

They made it to the Inn without incident and almost immediately they were shown to two rooms on the northern side of the Inn that were set apart from the other four rooms. They had beach views and lovely jungle all around. The Innkeeper gave them a brief tour and handed Room 1 and Room 2 keys to Shade. Shade let Shiress pick which one she wanted, and dropped his stuff in the other one. Then they shed as much clothing as they could and headed back to the Commons. The Innkeeper had suggested they drop by a place called Tropical Fever Fashions. And so Shade took Shiress there so they could browse to see what was available.

“This stuff… looks like nothing at all. The fabric is so thin.” He commented, looking skeptical. The Shopkeeper, a lovely older lady named Dawn, insisted it was strong but was thin enough to dry quickly when wet. And she had a list of suggested clothings for them… both Settlement Beach wear and jungle wear. Shade dutifully picked out some of ready-to-wear things, some of which would need to be tailored a bit to fit him better. He was lean of the hips and long of leg, so most of his things needed to be brought in at the waist, and let out at the hems. But he was able to take with him a change that would get him through a few days before Dawn could get his order altered.

While he was shopping, Shade kept an eye on Shiress to see what she was doing about clothing for herself and Ian. And when the boy got restless, Shade took him in hand, taking him on a walk outside and about so his tired mother could try on some new things and splurge on herself if she could afford too.

When that was done, Shade asked her carefully. “Would you want to visit the Mercantile or any other place while we are out? I think you should take tomorrow to rest and unwind.” He added, waiting for her to answer before setting off in a new direction. If Shiress had packages with her, he’d offer to carry them.

For him, the shopping trip was a bit of a chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Shiress and see things from her perspective. But he wasn’t going to cast judgement on his charge until she’d had some down time to calm down and settle. Travel made everyone crazy, snappish, and sometimes flat out stupid. To him, she seemed frazzled, paranoid, and if he were honest a bit less than hopefully for a happy new start. Shade was curious to see what a day or two in paradise…. for Syka was beautiful would speak volumes on her character.

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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shiress on March 14th, 2022, 2:57 am

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Whatever Shiress may have thought she knew about monks, Shade belied every notion. Then again, she didn't have much, if any, knowledge of the religious brotherhood. In Shiress's mind, A monk was a quiet, slow-walking man with religion oozing from his very skin. Shade...was not that.

Shade was kind, soft-spoken, and thoughtful, and the man possessed an earnest aspiration to calm Shiress's mind. An ambition that the Zeltivan was finding extremely easy to succumb to, along with the sudden realization that the monk must think her nearly unhinged.

He probably wasn't far from the truth, and Shiress thought she was about to undoubtedly solidify Blade's assessment with her attempt to explain who Rhysol was because she barely knew herself.

"Rhysol is the God of chaos and evil." she said, looking somewhat uneasily at Shade, "I found myself, and a few others, suddenly summoned by The Voice, a consort of his, I think, and shortly after, Rhysol himself appeared there, too, and that's when I asked him for protection."

Shiress quieted, considering for a tick before continuing on like she hadn't just told Shade that she had made acquaintances with the God of all things unholy.

" And, as far as knowing that I survived the stabbing, I would say that is highly probable, considering the man who attacked me was killed that night by a friend, and his body was dumped into Lake Ravok."

She conveniently left out the part about that friend being a spy planted into the Lark family by the Nitrozians. Kylar had saved her life that night, and Shiress would take his secret to the grave.

Shiress grimaced, "Looking back, I guess faking mine and Ian's death would have been a smart thing to do, but I did the same as I always have. I ran." she shrugged "In my defense, though, Nolan was adamant about us leaving quickly, he didn't even allow me to say goodbye to my family," she paused, thinking over her thirty some odd days flight from Zeltiva to Syliras, "While in the caravan, Nolan did all the talking per his orders, while I kept to myself mostly. It was a worrisome journey, but I don't think anyone knew who I or Ian were, but not long after we set sail, I introduced myself to Mistress Hess and the captain, and I didn't hide who I was." Concern crossed Shiress's features, and, lifting her eyes, she caught Shade's gaze, "Do you think that will be a problem? Will they tell someone if they come asking?" Shoulder's slumping, she added, "I didn't even think to keep such things to myself."


The more the woman tried to explain her life, the more complicated and convoluted her past became. It all sounded unbelievable, even to her own ears, and she had actually lived through it all. But yet, she continued to share with Shade all she could think of to help the monk better understand who he had agreed to help. Shiress couldn't help but feel sorry for the man.

"As for the why," she shrugged, frowning, "it could be because I maimed the grandson of one of the most powerful families in Ravok, or it could be because they thought me a valuable possession." Leaning over, Shiress hiked up the hem of her skirt to her knee, revealing a silver root etched into her skin, extending from her ankle to midway up her calf. "It's Bala's first mark of cultivation." dropping her skirt, it swayed back into place, and she straightened. "With this mark, I can cause any crop, plant, or even an apple to become fully bloomed or ripened with a touch.

"When the Lark's owned me, I was forced to work daily in this floating garden type boat thing, and it brought a lot of coin to Lark purses. It could all be the Caldera's and their crazed notion that killing Ian will also kill the curse that's plagued them for generations."
Shiress shook her head, "I'm just guessing though, and I'm just guessing about Hadrian, also. He may not be part of the Ebonstryfe or whether or not he was even in Zeltiva. I just assumed he was by the way Nolan spoke of him, but I very well may be mistaken."

Shiress jumped slightly at Opal's arrival, then smiled big at the bird's antics as she fussed at Shade. For the life of her, she'd never get used to an animal talking, but for Opal, the bird was beyond clever in her own right and beautiful.

"So, this place is a little off, then." she said, casting a wary glance around. Shiress was surprised that Opal's speaking ability was a recent occurrence, but she was even more surprised by Shade's easy acceptance of it. Did anything raddle the monk? For some reason, Shiress hoped she'd never find out. The monk might be a kind and quiet man, but in Shiress's experience, those were the dangerous ones.

By the time they made it to the inn, Shiress felt much more at ease, knowing she and her son would, at least, have a roof over their heads. The room was beyond what she could have hoped for, and she spent quite a while gazing out over the ocean from the room's window. Ian found the bed most interesting after the long voyage and longer nights spent on a hard cot. The toddler sat on the side of the bed, legs dangling and swinging, thumb stuck firmly in his mouth, his monkey clutched to his chest. When Shiress glanced at him, he smiled around his thumb back at her, and she couldn't help but grin back.

"Ready for some new clothes?" she asked, and Ian nodded excitedly. Jumping from the bed, the toddler wrapped tiny fingers around Shiress's hand as she led them from the room. They passed by the innkeeper on the way to meet Shade, and Shiress smiled and waved at her, while Ian got a goofy look and popped his thumb from his mouth to wave at her, too.

"Bye pretty lady!"

The Tropical Fever, as it happened, had absolutely nothing Shiress wanted to wear, or, rather, nothing that would do much to hide the vast array of scars that Shiress obsessively hid behind vast arrays of clothing. She did find a sleeveless shirt and shorts for Ian and, due to the shopkeeper's unwavering insistence, Shiress bought herself a thin, knee-length dress and two tops that she had argued diligently were actually underwear, and the shopkeeper had argued just as diligently that they weren't. For lack of a better word, the tops were both just big enough to cover Shiress's breast in the front and the rest wrapped around to tie at her back. Wearing it would definitely need some getting used to...once she got the nerve to even try. The two pairs of pants she purchased to go along with the tops were of a more modest variety.

Smiling congenially at the shopkeeper, she paid for her items and left, meeting Shade just outside. With two boxes balanced in one hand, the other holding tightly to Ian's pudgy, and somehow sticky fingers, Shiress, Ian, and Shade began their trek back to the inn, and Shiress shook her head at the monk's offer to stop by the mercantile.

"You asked earlier about what my occupation is and my likes and dislikes, things like that." she said, speaking nonchalantly as they walked as if she wasn't ripping open old wounds and bearing her soul to a stranger. She had come to a quiet agreement with herself to just tell the man everything "I'm a medical doctor at The Redynn, in the Outpost. I came up learning all there was to medicine and healing from my mother, a rather skilled nurse at the infirmary in Zeltiva. I was born in Zeltiva with my twin brother, Zane. We both were enslaved at the age of fourteen in 504 after visiting Sunberth, I never heard from my brother again, and I have no idea if he's alive or dead. However, he did have a son named Milo who showed up out of the blue one day." she laughed, because yeah, that had been unexpected, and then she just...left him.

"I managed to escape in 512 and halfway to Syliras I was attacked by a Zith and was left with this," Reaching down, Shiress hiked up the same part of her skirt as she did before, only higher this time. What she revealed was that a large portion of her thigh had been gauged out, leaving a thick, shiny hole that had scarred over. She let her skirt fall back in place as she began walking again. "I made it to Syliras and was happy for quite a while, actually. That is until my old slavemaster came looking for me, and I ended up stabbing him to death. In 516, I was taken by someone I thought of as a friend. She enslaved me to her and tortured me with hypnosis after moving to Ravok. Shortly after, I was sold to the Larks.

Shiress fell silent for several chimes, a sadness filling her that she didn't like.

"I don't have a happy story to tell you, Shade, and I'm not sure I'm going to get a happy ending either. Please understand, I want to be happy, I want to be hopeful and to love life to the fullest, but life has let me down so many times that I guess I just expect things to crash and burn at any time, kinda like they always have seemed to do."

Shiress fell silent again, though not for quite as long before she glanced curiously at Shade. "What about you? I know nothing of Nyka, nor what it means to be a monk." she grinned at him "You just don't seem like the monks I have in my head," her grin widened, "You're a lot better looking for one."


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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shade on March 19th, 2022, 10:08 pm

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The news about who Rhysol was didn’t seem all that good, to Shade. So little Ian, as cute of a little boy as Shade had yet to meet, was under the protection of the God of Evil? Chaos was bad enough… but the evil part really gave Shade pause. Dear Gods, it got worse. The woman had met Rhysol face to face and had been bold enough to ask him for protection?” Who in their right mind would ask an evil God for protection? That never ended well in any story or historic fact Shade had ever come across. Nothing was given for free. “And what was the cost of this protection?” Shade asked cautiously. “You know that the Gods never give anything for free right?”

At Shiress’ other questions about how safe people where and if someone would come after her, Shade wasn’t sure. “I don’t know. Its hard to know who is who in this world and who it was you were actually talking too. Mistress Hess is here, but then again, she came along with those children so we don’t really know her. If by the Captain you mean James… then I think that’s more than fine. He would go to great lengths to protect this settlement, I suspect. But if you really are being hunted, that’s an issue. It’s very well could be that you left a trail a mile wide. I don’t know Nolan, and truthfully Hadrian is just an older friend of mine. I know his father much better.” Shade admitted, then looked thoughtful as Shiress told him a bit more about herself.

Her life hadn’t been that happy. But she needed to make some changes. “First, you need to tell the management of this place the same story you told me. They need to know. And secondly, I would highly recommend you change your identity and Ian’s name altogether. I don’t know what to do about appearances, but you have an unusually pretty name and not like one I’ve heard before, so I’d suggest you change it until you are sure its safe and they haven’t followed you here. It sounds like Nolan got you out of town at least properly, by doing all your talking for you. But for the other stuff, the people he worked with may or may not have more resources and even more people out looking for you. I’m not suggesting you become a recluse. But Syka has tourists that come here to relax and go home. That means if you meet any of them and they talk about a Shiress they met in Syka… or say a doctor saved their life by that name… its going to clue the people looking for you in on where you are.” Shade added.

“I am starting to suspect the reason doesn’t matter. Just putting space between them and yourself and your son is a good idea. And I find it odd that you don’t know about this curse on his father’s people. I don’t understand how something like that would motivate people to kill a child. But then again, I’ve met some rotten people in my time.” He added. You need to find out. There are multiple Seers in the world and wise folk. You need to talk to one of them to get some light shed on it. Once you understand it you can recognize it when you see it and counter it if possible.” Shade added, looking thoughtful.

Shade glanced down at the gnosis mark and nodded. He had a black opal cabochon embedded in the back of his hand for the same reason. “You are in a good place for Bala, it seems. We might all be where we need to be right now. Only time will tell. There’s something going on here, for sure, but I’m not sure what it is… and I’m not sure its related to you or any pursuers you might have. But it also might be.” And with that, they went to the Inn, checked in, and went shopping.

Shade picked up new clothing, trusting in Dawn’s tastes at the Tropic Fever to select him a few things, and afterwards Shiress got into a bit more of her personal life. He was pleasantly surprised that she was a doctor. It was rare that slaves were educated so well, but it made sense when she told him that she was enslave with her brother at fourteen and wasn’t born to it. Once out of the shop, he took her packages so she could manage Ian. Then he continued listening when she was talking about her job at The Redynn.

“I’m sorry that happened to you.” He said quietly, not sure what else to say. He wasn’t one to comfort people. Everyone had a hard luck story. It was what they made of their life that mattered, not what happened to them to get to whatever place in life they were at. He blinked in surprise when she pulled up her skirt and showed him the scars on her leg. The story went downhill from there and Shade was at a loss for words. Shiress didn’t seem all that positive of a person, but she did seem to care about her son and that made a huge difference in Shade’s mind. A good mother was hard to find. Most cast off their kids and didn’t give them a second thought after they were birthed into the world. At least Ian had a hand to hold and someone to care for him. That made all the difference in the world.

He blinked when she asked him questions about himself. “My history is short and sweet. I’ve been in the monkhood all my life, since I was young, and have been in Nyka that entire time. I’m actually a jeweler by profession. Monks have all kinds of jobs besides being a monk. It surprises most people outside of Nyka. We just patrol the city and take care of its civic needs.” He added, not wanting to get into his life with her. There wasn’t much to tell anyhow… orphan, growing up in a rock quarry, joining a monkhood. It was not meeting gods and traveling the world like she had. He didn’t like talking about himself much, so he asked her another question.

“And hobbies? You talked about your work, but what do you do for fun?” He asked quietly, curious as they walked back towards the Inn.

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Drawn To Paradise (Shiress)

Postby Shiress on March 26th, 2022, 10:09 pm

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Shiress's steps slowed before halting altogether, Shade's words causing the doctor's face to slowly shift from thoughtfulness to concern before finally settling into fear. Slowly, green eyes lifted to meet Shade's gaze.

"I..I never really thought about there being consequences or a cost for my request before."

Shiress started forward again, still looking concerned.

Had there been a cost? And, if there were, had she paid it, or was she still indebted to Rhysol? Shiress knew nothing of the divine, their demands, or their debts. Shiress suddenly felt like an ignorant and naive fool. What would the price be, and would it be her own or Ian's debt? Shiress shuddered, suddenly feeling very cold.

Shade had moved on to other topics, and Shiress diverted her attention back to the monk, shoving all other concerns away for the moment. Shiress confirmed that by captain, she had meant James and assured Shade that, as far as she knew, only James and Mistress Hess knew who she truly was.

Admittedly, Shiress had a hard time understanding why she would be so crucial to anyone enough for them to hunt her, as Shade said. She had nothing, was nothing, in the eyes of anyone she had ever met. She was just an ex-slave and mother with nothing but the few belongings that could easily fit into the pack slung around her shoulder. Still, Shade gave sage advice, and everything he suggested made sense. Shiress would explain things to the founders as best she could, would change her and Ian's names, and she would distance herself from too in-depth conversations.

"When I speak to the founders about my situation, I'll let them know that I'm willing to lend them the use of my mark in any way that I can, also."

The fact that she hadn't thought of any of this herself made Shiress feel...helpless. Perhaps clueless was a more proper word to use, but it embarrassed her all the same.

Especially with Shade's gentle chiding about the Caldera curse and, as gentle as it may have been, tears still welled in Shiress's eyes and caused her voice to sound thick with emotion when she spoke.

"I never knew there was anyone that could tell me what the curse was." she said, sniffling, then coughed out a humorous laugh, "I don't even know what a seer is. Unless you mean a psychic. I've met one of those, but before all this...shyke." she sighed, shoulders slumping as she scrubbed a hand across her cheek, "I feel like such a foolish, incompetent simpleton that can't even care for herself, let alone a child." she mumbled, only slightly petulant. Ian let out a whine at her side and pulled at Shiress's arm, but she ignored the toddler.

Later, once their shopping was done and the three of them were strolling back toward the inn, Shiress's depressing tale of her life came to an end with her giving the monk a subtle shrug and a soft "It's okay" in reply to his apology about her hardships. Shiress had never been more thankful for the shift that made Shade the subject.

"A Jeweler?" Shiress asked, perking up, "Oh, I would very much like it if you made me something." with a suddenly bashful smile, she added "I mean if you have time one day and would want to."

Shiress began to think she had not one subtle bone in her body, but Shade went on about his duties, and Shiress listened intently.

"You say you patrol the city, like guards?" she asked, pulling Ian back around to her side after the toddler stepped in front of her, arms raised -someone was getting tired- then gave the monk a look head to toe and back up again, noting the defined muscles of his arms and chest appreciatively, "You know how to fight, then?" something in her eased slightly at the possibility, and she smiled up at him. "Maybe you could teach me?" Giving up, Shiress grabbed Ian, hoisting the little boy up into her arms, where he immediately slipped a thumb in his mouth and laid his head on her shoulder.

The lull in the subject matter didn't last as long as Shiress would have liked before it shifted to her again. What other ways must shade find her incompetent?

Shiress's nose wrinkled, letting out a "Hmmmm" as she thought, then her nose wrinkled further when she came up blank. Incompetent at having a hobby, then. She couldn't help but chuckle at herself.

"How bad would it be if I said that I don't think I have any?" she said, smiling. "I mean, I do like to walk, or maybe wander aimlessly is more accurate, and I love learning new ways to treat ailments and injuries." she shrugged, "Not really a hobby, I know," she laughed, "let me think on that a chime."

They made it back to the inn, but before Shade made it across the front porch, Shiress stopped him with a touch to his arm.

"I need to lay him down." Shiress said, motioning to the now sleeping toddler drooling on her shoulder, "If you want just to lay my bags by the door, I'll see to them after, but I was wondering if you would meet me on the guest deck, closest to our rooms? It'll only take a few chimes to put Ian down. I could order us a drink and maybe a snack if it's allowed." Shiress hesitated, then added, "I just wanted to better explain something to you, if you have a moment."

Less than thirty chimes later, Shiress sat on the guess deck, forearms on knees with a goblet of wine dangling loosely in one hand. Beside her, on a small table between the chairs, was another goblet, waiting on Shade. A small plate sat beside Shade's waiting wine, with several chunks of cheese, pineapple, and other fruits whose names left Shiress the moment the innkeeper had pronounced them. As soon as Shade arrived, Shiress wasted no time in beginning her explanation of why she wanted to talk.

"What you said earlier about Rhysol, really hit a nerve with me. I'm embarrassed to admit that I never really gave my request and his protection much thought." she paused, then added, "Let me start at the beginning.

So Shiress did, She explained to Shade, in her own words, but sometimes by quoting The Voice or Rhysol himself, that long before the Valterrian, there were shrines dedicated to Rhysol. These shrines were scattered across the world and served as centers of faith and worship. Every shrine was tended to by a Caretaker, a devoted follower of Rhysol who served as the protector of the faithful and their guide in their divine service. During the Valterrian, most of these shrines were destroyed and their Caretakers killed. Those who weren't killed during the devastation died in the years that followed, unable to survive the divine fallout. Without a Caretaker, those shrines that survived eventually went dormant. Since the shrines were intimately linked with their Caretakers, reclaiming it without the original Caretaker was impossible without a mortal link.

"The Spring before I met The Voice, one of those shrines awoke," Shiress lifted her gaze to Shade's, "I was told that I am a descendent of a Caretaker and Rhysol needed my help, and if I agreed to help, I was to be sent through a portal to somewhere in north Taldera to be his mortal link to this shrine. Before I left was when I asked Rhysol for protection for my unborn baby in exchange for doing this quest."

Shiress's gaze dropped to her finger, idly circling the goblet's rim.

"It was a bad time for me; I just found out I was pregnant, Elias had just gone missing, and for whatever reason that I could think up, the truth was that I just wanted to feel important. So, I went." Shiress fell quiet a time, then added, "It was a confusing, terrifying journey through time. For most of it, I witnessed things that I still don't understand, and the rest of the time is a jumble of mess that I question is even a real memory and not a dream. I'm not even sure my companions and I even succeeded" she shook her head, "Anyway, when I was home, not long before Ian was born, I found a package outside my door and a message, with a gift from Rhysol. It was the toy monkey you've seen Ian with, and it's...unlike any toy I have ever seen." she shivered, grimacing, "It's always with him no matter where I leave it, and I...just accepted it. Even after Ian was born with a strange mark over his heart, I never questioned a thing."

Tears streamed down Shiress's face when she met Shade's eyes.

"What you said earlier, about Rhysol and his price....Shade, I'm scared now..." she hiccupped on a sob, "...I'm scared my ignorance will have me running from something far worse than humans, and I feel as if I have handed my son right over to it. Maybe I deserve it, but he doesn't." Throwing back the rest of the wine in the goblet, Shiress squeezed her eyes closed, utterly lost, "I don't know what to do."





Word Count - 1549


Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
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