Open Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Shiress and Tazrae meet

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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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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Shiress on March 14th, 2022, 11:34 pm

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7th Day
Spring 522 AV- Late Evening


Shiress turned over in her bed, restless eyes scanning the emptiness of her room. It had been seven days since arriving in Syka, and the doctor still slept uneasily. Tonight, though, the restlessness she was getting used to was accompanied by the absence of her son, Ian. After much talking and convincing on Mistress Hess's part and begging on Sonora's, Shiress gave in and allowed her son to be part of a sleepover where the children were housed. In her mother's mind, she knew Ian was safe, and well looked after, but yet her heart still worried, and that little niggling of worry was enough to cause the Zeltivan to be still awake well after sundown.

Shiress had tidied the room, folded and put away clothes, brushed her hair, dragged on what the locals considered a nightgown, but was, in actuality, the thinnest piece of linen that Shiress's had ever come across. It left absolutely nothing of her body, scarred and marked as it were, to the imagination. She might as well sleep nude! Still, she pulled on the barely-there gown, brushed her hair again, and climbed into bed. That was at least three bells ago.

Huffing, Shiress rolled the other way on the bed, batted at her pillow a few times, and forced her eyes closed. She had just about reached that middle point between awake and asleep when a loud squawk came from somewhere deep within the surrounding jungle. The God's awful racket had Shiress sitting bolt upright in bed, chest heaving and, unfortunately, wide awake again.

Shiress groaned and scrubbed her hands down her face, then plopped her arms down in her lap, shoulders rolling forward, looking rumpled and defeated. Climbing from the bed, she padded across the floor to the window and pulled back a shutter, peering outside. It was quiet, peaceful even, and thankfully not raining. Coming to a sudden, and perhaps foolhardy, decision, Shiress slipped the nightgown over her head and slid into a pair of trousers, forgetting that Ian had so diligently cleaned his hands of something somewhat slimy on them and pulled them back off again.

Reaching for the first thing her fingers touched in the closest drawer, she produced one of the items she had bought the first day she had come to Syka and shook it out. It was a sleeveless, green dress that ended just above Shirees's knees. It was, of course, extremely thin, only marginally less thin than her gown, and was "very light and breezy and will just set off your eyes like fireflies!" The shopkeeper had definitely sold her products well that day, and still, Shiress had no idea what a firefly was.

After donning the dress -and a tick spent panicking that a particular part of her anatomy had become decidedly chilly- Shiress brushed out her long, hip-length hair, slung her bag over a shoulder, and crossed the floor to the door. Once outside the room, she spent an uncertain moment standing by Shade's room door, contemplating whether she should wake the monk, but decided against it. She wouldn't be gone long, probably, and she would be safe enough, maybe. Turning on her heel, Shiress swept back in her room, wrapped the sheath of her dagger around a thigh, and returned quickly back outside, lingering at Shade's door only half a tick this time before stalking away with more confidence than she felt.

Hopefully, this won't end up being yet another reason the monk got angry at her.

Shiress had made it just a few steps and had just rounded the last corner when she slammed into a body. Shiress grabbed onto slim yet powerful forearms to catch her own balance and keep the other on her feet. For a moment, the doctor got a faceful of soft, sweet-smelling curls, before she finally gained her footing enough to step back and get a good look at the female she had just nearly maimed.

Looking up into bright blue, wide eyes, Shiress was lost for words a tick as she studied her unsuspecting victim closely.

"I am so sorry! Are you hurt?" she demanded, voice a bit higher than normal, "I didn't see you, and then there you were! Gods, did I hurt you?" Shiress went to swipe errant curls from the girl's face but hesitated, remembering all the times she was told that she could be a bit touchy-feely, even for a doctor. It was true, so she swiped hair from her own face and smiled instead. "I was trying to hurry to the beach for a walk before I lost my nerve." she laughed, looking embarrassed, "I really am sorry. I'm Shiress, by the way." slipping her lower lip between her teeth, she glanced around, "Are you staying here at the inn, also? It really is a beautiful place, isn't it?"


Word Count: 818

Last edited by Shiress on March 22nd, 2022, 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on March 17th, 2022, 3:32 am

Taz wasn’t expecting someone to be out of their room this late. There wasn’t a curfew or anything, it was just that the guests tended to fatigue quickly unused to the hot humidity, and retire early in the relief of the cool night air. Syka’s nights in the spring weren’t exactly cold, but the smoldering day-time temperatures didn’t linger after sunrise and everything was absolutely pleasant. She loved the evenings on the coast best of all. The night was when her work was done and she could wander, spend time on the beach, or just relax doing something she didn’t do during the day… read, dream, or even practice her magic.

She’d been headed to the beach herself, firedancing gear in her bag, and a bottle of wine tucked in with the rest. Her mandolin case was slung over her back. The woman apologized, introduced herself, and then proceeded to question Tazrae on her identity. The Innkeeper sighed, then offered a smile. “I actually own the Inn. I talk to you every day. I make your meals and clean your rooms.” She said pleasantly. “My name is Tazrae, but like everyone else here since the turn of the season, I have an odd affliction. Everyone forgets me… as soon as I am out of sight. Listen, I’m headed to the beach myself. It’s not that dangerous, but you probably shouldn’t go alone until you get used to Syka. How about we head through the kitchen, grab more wine and some glasses, and maybe a nice large beach blanket and head to the beach?” Taz suggested, turning to walk with the woman, beckoning her to follow. “Just don’t let me out of your sight… I’ll have to re-explain all of this all over again.” She said with a grin.

She liked Shiress. Taz had enjoyed that the woman was polite, down-to-earth, and was a good mother. “Where’s your little boy… Ian right?” She asked, curious, as the Innkeeper did as she suggested and swung into the kitchen to load up her backpack and tuck a few things away for the trip. Then she draped a blanket over her shoulder, one that was fairly large, and walked with Shiress out onto the deck, down the steps and through the tall grass to the beach. She grabbed a few tiki torches on her way, four to be exact, and a spare bottle of oil for their lamps. Then she gave Shiress the blanket to spread when the got to the beach and decided on a spot. Taz drove the torches into the sand, nesting them deeply, and ignited the wicks with a bit of res extruded onto the wicks and gently coaxed to light.

Then she dug the glasses out of her backpack and pulled forth the wine. She didn’t have water yet, not with Reimancy, so she couldn’t chill the wine… but she’d brought a couple of bottles of a desert variety that tasted just as good warm as it did cool. The glasses weren’t in fact glass, but made of carved wood and she’d brought more than two in case anyone else showed up to join them. Taz poured Shiress a full glass then set one up for herself as well. Once the blanket was spread out, the torches lit, and the wine flowing, Taz settled on a corner and grinned.

She sipped her wine and before long pulled off the long blouse she wore until all she had on above the loose skirt was a crochet bikini top. “So tell me, Shiress… what’s your story? You here on Syka just vacationing, or are you moving in?” She asked, politely, then pulled out a huge cluster of grapes and set them between the two of them, within easy reach. “I get a lot of guests, but rarely do I get a single woman with a young child. You know you came to the ends of the earth, right?” Taz asked with a grin. “It’s probably the best move you’ve ever made. Trust me on that one… other than all the weirdness going on lately. No one can remember me… what’s going on weird with you? And did your son get affected?” She asked, then set her drink aside after a long pull and reached for her mandolin case.

She pulled out the instrument and began carefully tuning the strings, gently strumming a bit to get it into motion. The she hit a note, and began to play quietly. Not interrupting Shiress, but in a perfect space for it, she began to sing. She started off slowly, almost speaking the lyrics, her words playing out slowly until the last line when she all but whispered the part about running…


“I know I'm probably better off on my own
Than lovin' a man who didn't know
What he had when he had it
And I see the permanent damage you did to me
Never again, I just wish I could forget when it was magic
I wish it wasn't 4am, standing in the mirror
Saying to myself, you know you had to do it
I know the bravest thing I ever did was run..”



She grinned at Shiress, then leaned over her mandolin, getting into the song. She ramped up the tune, put more emphasis into the song, and pelted out the lyrics, not caring who heard them.

“Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man…”


She slowed down then, enunciating every word, letting the mandolin carry the song for a moment while she caught her breath for the next lines. Then when it was time, she unleashed the music again, and sang her heart out until she got to the line about where he’d thought she’d never run… and that was at a sexy sultry growl.

“I know I'm probably better off all alone
Than needing a man who could change his mind at any given minute
And it was always on your terms
I waited on every careless word
Hoping it might turn sweet again
Like it was in the beginning
But your jealousy, oh, I can hear it now
You're talking down to me like I'll always be around
You push my love away like it was some kind of drawn bow
Oh, you never thought I'd run…”


Like before, she ramped up the chorus, made the mandolin carry the tune, then drew in breath for a vocal showdown on the second rendition of the chorus.

“Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man”


Then it was time for the bridge. Taz dropped an octave, got sultry, and powered into the lines making the bridge be what it was meant to be… a tie between choruses and a break for the person feeling the song to have before she launched into the chorus again.

“I hold onto this pride because these days it's all I have
And I gave to you my best and we both know you can't say that

I wish you were a better man
I wonder what we would've become
If you were a better man
We might still be in love
If you were a better man
You would've been the one
If you were a better man
Yeah, yeah…”



Almost threw it, the chorus came again, loud and growly with Tazrae putting emphasis into the volume and tone, her pitch higher here for emphasis.

“Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
But I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man
A better man

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
(We might still be in love, if you were a better man)
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
I know why we had to say goodbye
Like the back of my hand
But I just miss you and I just wish you were a better man
A better man…”


She slowed the music, almost grinding the song to a halt when the outro came. She loved the song, Shiress could tell, most likely from bitter romances and spurred involved like all the woman her age that were still not married, childless, and surrounded by males who were looking.

“We might still be in love, if you were a better man
You would've been the one
If you were a better man…”


When she finished the song, she laid the mandolin aside for the moment and took another drink of her wine. “You don’t mind the music, do you?” She asked. She was tempted to pick up the mandolin again and start on another song, but she wanted to give Shiress a chance to pipe in. “You don’t have any requests, do you?” She asked, with the lifting of an eyebrow.

Words: 1598
Last edited by Tazrae on March 27th, 2022, 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Shiress on March 20th, 2022, 12:51 am

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Shiress frowned at Tazrae, attempting to parse the woman's words. Had she heard her right because she was fairly certain she had never seen this woman before.

"Everyone forgets you?" she asked, looking slightly horrified, "That's...I'm so sorry. That has to be so frustrating and-" again, she shook her head "I dont even know what to say to that."

Thankfully, the innkeeper's change in subject rescued Shiress from her dumbfounded state of loss for words and she smiled big, nodding her head enthusiastically, excited to have company for her late night beach walk, with a quick "I wont" replied when instructed to keep Tazrae in sight. As she began following the other woman, something that she had said struck Shiress...since the season change everyone has an affliction. Shiress swallowed hard. Did she have one? She didnt think so but what did it take to realize you did? Hearing her son's name, Shiress smiled again.

"Ian, yes. He's with the other children." she explained, watching Tazrae gather items for their time on the beach. "They are having a sleepover and games by a fire. He's happy, Im sure, but I cant seem to rest with him gone." she added with a laugh.

The beach was actually much closer than Shiress had first thought and it didnt take them long to reach the sand. As instructed, Shiress flipped out the blanket and spread it across the ground, trying and failing to keep the sand off the blanket. It seemed the more she tried to keep the blanket sand less, the more sand it attracted. By the time she had decided it was a fruitless endeavor, Tazrae was handing her a cup and planting herself on the blanket. Shiress joined her, admiring the carved wooden cup before taking a long drink, eyes flaring wide in appreciation as the taste of the wine spread over her tongue.

Shiress sighed, "My story is complicated and I'm not sure I can fully understand it, myself." she replied, looking thoughtful, "Ever heard anyone say `I'll hunt you to the ends of the earth` or `I'll follow you to the ends of the earth?" she asked, popping a grape into her mouth before grinning back at her new friend. "Lets just say that I'm really hoping those that would hunt or follow me lose interest before they get here." she laughed, still grinning but the innkeepers next question had it slipping away.

"I'm not sure if I have an affliction." Shiress admitted, but then her brows rose, "Unless thinking you see dead people from your past could be it?" she said, phrasing it as more a question than a statement. "And Ian..." she paused, thinking. Would Rhysol's protection extend to that, whatever that is? Shiress had no clue but Ian hadnt acted unusual or really afflicted at all unless..."I think his toy Monkey came alive and is now his protector and sort of care's for him in a way. It wont let him out of his sight, but Ian seems thrilled about it" she continued, frowning as she thought about how excited Ian was about the monkey and just how compliant and gentle the monkey was to Ian.

"You said everyone here in Syka has an affliction?"[b] she asked, taking another long pull of wine, [b]"It's almost like someone cast a spell or a..." her face scrunched up, trying to recall the word, "..a curse. It's like someone or something cast a curse on everyone in Syka or maybe on Syka itself, doesnt it?" Shiress briefly wondered if everything went back to normal for those that left the city or if this affliction afflicted until the day you died. The thought made Shiress grimace. "What things have you heard others say that was happening to them?" she asked, then grew suddenly alarmed, "I hope no one has died!"

Shiress was left to her musings as Tazrae began to sing quietly, but once it seemed she hadnt nothing else to say, Tazrae's music and singing picked up, and Shiress forgot all she was contemplating and focused on the song and the innkeepers voice. By the time the song ended, Shiress had emptied her cup, refilled it, and was joining Tazrae on the chorus part of the song, loudly and rather badly, especially the "A better man!!!!" bit.

"I love music!" she replied, answering Tazrae's question "I just rarely hear it where I'm from." she paused, thinking up a request for herself, "Know anything about losing a man you love then having to move to the ends of the earth alone with your son?" Shiress grinned devilishly at Tazrae, finishing off the wine in her cup "After, I need you to tell me who that song is about because you sure sing it with all your heart!"









Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Naadiya on March 23rd, 2022, 10:10 pm

Looking into the mirror for reference, Naadiya took a few tresses of hair and wove them into thick braids on either side of her head. The braids used a four strand method, which made them look almost like small fabric ribbons laying flat against her hair. It was considerably trickier to get the hang of than the three strand method almost anyone could learn with ease, made all the trickier by it being her own head that was being braided. The left side was a little looser than the right, quiet possibly a little lopsided as well, but she wasn't meeting anyone and in any case they did not look so insane. Naadiya then pulled them back and secured the two together with a leather thong, letting any hair that had not been braided hang loose.

Ever since she had started to periodically grow a magically penis, Naadiya had bouts of hyper-femininity. Maybe she was reminding herself of who she knew herself to be when her head was clouded with so many errant thoughts.

She perused through her make-up bag and brought out a couple of containers. First a moisturizer and an thin oil to hold it in her skin. The sea air could be very salty, she did not want to dry like a fish being cured. A tiny dab of a scarlet paste on her lip and she rubbed upper and lower together, spreading the red-orange until the layer was thin. With a narrow applicator, she perfected the edges of her mouth with the same hue. A bit of kohl on either eye, rimming both in a smudgy black smoke and she glanced back at the looking glass.

Why do I even bother.

Her sigh was a long one as she slipped on a long and nearly transparent isuas dress. Black fabric for a somber mood it would seem.

In a small leather bag, she placed an embroidery hoop, a rolled up linen top and an abridged version of her sewing supplies. It was starting to get a little darker, so she threw a sharpened knife in as well. Even if her last beachside embroidering attempt had not gone according to plan, it had also not been a dangerous excursion. If she had brought a knife that time, it likely would have become more embarrassingly awkward. All the same, she packed it, and while she was at it, Naadiya wrapped up a couple pears, some berries, a bit of cheddar and the end of a loaf in a cheesecloth then put the bundle in her bag as well. It wasn’t much of a dinner and realizing she hadn’t eaten yet, Naadiya aired on the safe side and grabbed a cured sausage as well. The sausage would also potentially serve as a distraction in case of predators but so far Naadiya’s beach visits had not been disturbed by anything wilder than an Okomo Kelvic…. A vegetarian one…

Well I suppose most Okomos are vegetarian…

Still, the knife was safely stowed and easy enough to get hold of if necessary.

Heading out of her room, Naadiya slipped on a pair of sandals and grabbed her large mantle, one of the few things she had brought over from the desert. Turns out jungle coastal sands were much the same as those back home and the camel wool fabric faired well in the salty grit. She went out the back of the inn, towards the shores trying to ease the tension that seemed to accumulate from shoulder to shoulder.

Her feet had just hit sand when she heard some kind of stringed instrument accompanied by a voice. Naadya froze, her feet sinking ever so slightly into the white. She had not meant for tonight to be an overly social type of outing. Should she turn towards the music or away from it? Naadiya felt stuck.

Is this quicksand?

Despite having had taken the same path on multiple occasions, Naadiya lifted a foot just to check. Still not quicksand. She exhaled, an empty relief washing over her.

Another voice joined in with the first and Naadiya sighed, maybe it would be a social type of night.

She felt her feet moving towards the melody almost on their own. Almost. Naadiya enjoyed a good melody, and maybe it would lift her spirits.

When she saw the two sprawled on the blanket, Naadiya smiled lightly. She had been listening to the lyrics of the song and giggled nervously.

I hope that was not a song written from experience…

Nearing the pair, Naadiya waved.

“Hi there! Would it be intruding if I joined you?”

She patted the bulging bag at her side, “I have stuff to nibble on.”

If no one objected, Naadiya would spread out her woolen mantle over the sand close enough to the others’ blanket to try and help with sand minimization.

“You are Shiress, right?” The group was close enough to the inn that Naadiya had guessed it had been their foot steps in the sand that she had followed along with the music. “I think I’ve seen you at the inn but we’ve never really met! I’m Naadiya, I’m also staying at the inn, Room 6. If I make too much noise with the loom or anything just knock on my door, or yell out, or bang on the wall. I will not take offense, I promise. I just tend to let my work bleed into awkward hours so if I’m singing while weaving and you are trying to fall asleep, just let me know and I’ll quit it, no worries!”

Naadiya turned to the blonder woman, smiling. She saw the instrument in the girls’s hands and gestured towards it, “You play very well! Are you also staying at the inn? There are so many new faces now.”

Remembering the contents of her bag, Naadiya took out the cheese cloth and placed it in the center where they could all reach relatively easily and unwrapped it, revealing the goodies inside. She had glimpsed a drink being passed around and with an impish smile she pointed to it.

“I’ll trade you some of this for some of that!”
Word Count: 1029
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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on March 31st, 2022, 2:11 am

Tazrae nodded, pulling a long drink from her glass. “Everyone forgets me.” She shrugged. “It’s been seven days. I’m getting used to it. I’m the local Innkeeper and I’m friends with almost everyone in this settlement. I’ve met you every day since you got here with your son Ian and that monk, Shade.” Taz said, offering her a grin.

She nodded at Shiress’ explanation of where Ian was and that she’d be careful on the beach. “If they hunt you here, Shiress, we’ll make sure you stay safe. You may have forgotten me time and time again, but I won’t forget and will watch for strangers. You’re at a really safe place people wise. Strangers don’t survive long here and they stick out because we’re so small. I bet you know half the settlement already anyhow.” She said thoughtfully, then took another drink of her wine.

Taz tilted her head when Shiress claimed she didn’t think she had an affliction. “They aren’t afflictions. They are curses. Truly curses. I don’t know why people would think of them as anything else. And if you are seeing a dead person from your past, that’s definitely an affliction. There’s a young Kelvic… he claims his line is from powerful Spiritists. They deal with dead people… if one is haunting you… then you need to talk to him. His name is Moritz. He’s got a bungalow rented. He’s an Okomo… it’s a sort of goat with crystalline horns. He’s a nice kid, but a little socially awkward. He can help you with the ghost or at least tell you if it’s a real ghost or not. He knows all sorts of things about ghosts.” Taz said, refilling her glass and leaning the bottle over to top off Shiress’ glass.

“Monkeys aren’t the best things around here. The bigger ones like the baboons can actually hunt and kill people. The smaller ones just cause chaos. They literally throw their shit, steal your food, and are a menace. We kill them as often as we can because they aren’t all that nice.” Taz said, looking concerned for the child as she took another sip of her wine. She nodded at what Shiress was asking then thought a few moments.

“Stu and Mathias aren’t affected. But as far as everyone else…. I think most of our folks are. It’s something different for everyone. All my guests have something going on. Cleon seems off somehow… Faye is aging… rapidly. Oralie has this shadowy thing stalking her and hurting her. Shade and his languages….” Taz paused, then looked thoughtful. “Naadiya is sometimes a man.” She whispered; eyes wide. “Gods, if I were a man… “ Taz said, then started to snicker slightly. The wine was making her feel so good. “I haven’t heard of anyone dying… but Randal… have you seen him lately? He’s growing horns.” She said, finishing her glass and refilling it.

Taz looked like she had no desire to slow down her drinking today. “I sing everything with all my heart.” Taz said softly. “It’s not about anyone in particular… just a song I know.” Taz said, then shook her head. She gave Shiress’ request some consideration and shook her head. “That’s a bit specific. I’d have to write one.” She said, sheepishly. “And I’m not even good at songcrafting yet. I’m just learning…” She added.

“If I had to sing a song, It’d be about Alric. I don’t even know a song to fit him. I’d have to write it I suppose… which I could easily enough. We do have the same blue eyes… though mine are more turquoise and his get darker. Taz shifted, set her wine glass aside, and picked up the mandolin again.

She played around with the strings a moment, struck a chord, and began playing. It had a deep throaty tune, slow though, lumbering, like it was wretched from her. She paused in her playing to lightly slap the mandolin in a two beat as if adding a drum only she could hear. Then Taz began to sing, soft, sultry as in a rich deep alto that was lower than her normal range. The song was a strange one… mysterious, and she sang it that way.

“I recognize that smile
Our winter was oh so cold
You wore your mysterious cloak just like a child”


Tazrae sang it like she was telling Shiress a secret, explaining something she had no words for.

“No careless words were said
We spoke with eyes instead
We looked into each other like long lost friends”


She dragged out the word friends, and the longing in her voice told Shiress that she wished they were more… oh so much more.

“But then you went away
Like a migrant bird
You had a summer haunt
You said the ice would kill
But you would not be caught”


Could Sunberth be considered a haunt? Perhaps, though Tazrae thought it must be more a prison than anything else. He was too good for the place, and yet he had thrived there and grown to a man safe and sound in the armpit of the world stashed away where is royal parents hid him. Only times had changed. Mizahar had no more sovereignty. His family was old, dead, and buried. The only way it lived on was in his blood, through his ancestral power and the memories held there.

It was too much of a story to tell Shiress with words… and this song didn’t do the story justice either. A lost prince to a long-vanished throne. The world had ended and destroyed his family. And he was all alone, on the run, with no one to help him. And he was the greatest love she’d ever known. Gods? How did a bard sing about that? Taz didn’t know, but she tried… tapping into her Audius gift, amplifying the emotion, conveying what she felt without anything but a few strung-together lyrics.

She powered into the chorus. It was something she meant and something she understood.


“We have eyes like twins
Where your last thought ends my next begins always
Just one heartbeat away
From everything I mean to say oh
Catch me I'm falling like you
Wish for me I'll come running to save you
Touch me I'm calling for you
Remember me, I will never betray you
We have eyes like twins…”



Her voice dropped again, the song slowed, and the writer had put magic into it… pure magic. Anywhere but Syka and she’d get strung up for being a mage singing a song like this. But she didn’t care… it was what she wanted to sing at that very moment. Slowly, sultry, she emphasized the words… the mystery of what was happening in the song.

“I slept a thousand bells
My heart felt cold as a deep dark well
You sent a southern breeze like forest fire
I heard those voices too
I dreamed each dream with you
We breathe as one together and shed our tears
But then I woke with you
And my dream came true
I'll never hold you here
I know that every winter you must disappear”


Taz powered out the next chorus, punctuating the strums on her mandolin with the thumps on its surface. It was just another versatile instrument, well used and well loved. She dragged song out of it at times and other times it sang out with lighthearted playfulness. The chords weren’t hard for the song, she could focus on the lyrics and let the mandolin play itself really. So she sped up the words, wanting to get through the last chorus before the final refrain.

“We have eyes like twins
Where your last thought ends my next begins always
Just one heartbeat away
From everything I mean to say oh
Catch me I'm falling like you
Wish for me I'll come running to save you
Touch me I'm calling for you
Remember me, I will never betray you
We have eyes like twins”


Then she slowed the song again, dropped her voice a few octaves, and told the refrain like she was telling a great secret to Shiress… about what he did for her and what he meant for her… that mysterious man she was missing so much.

“I see red, when you're in danger
And I see blue, when you are crying
All the memories I believe
You are no stranger
You are no stranger”


Then it was almost over… one more chorus… and she could put the song to bed… having let it out, let it be sung… just one little tune that meant nothing to no one except for her… and her love for a man she couldn’t have and didn’t see anymore.

“We have eyes like twins
Where your last thought ends my next begins always
Just one heartbeat away
From everything I mean to say oh
Catch me I'm falling like you
Wish for me I'll come running to save you
Touch me I'm calling for you
Remember me, I will never betray you
We have eyes like twins”….


A last whisper… hardly a powerhouse of a chorus… just one lingering set of verses to say she was relucent to let the song die.

“Catch me I'm falling like you
Remember me, you are no stranger
We have eyes like twins
You are no stranger to me
Just one heartbeat away…”


The song ended on a whispered note…. the mandolin growing silent as the last note was captured by the wind and chased out to sea. Taz smiled then, softly, and shook her head. “It’s not easy loving people that can’t love us back… or won’t.” She said simply, then set her instrument aside to pour herself more wine.

Taz looked up and smiled as Naadiya approached and took a seat after spreading out her woolen mantle. She nodded at Naadiya and gestured at Shiress. “See what I mean? She doesn’t know me. I’m the Innkeeper. Everyone has been forgetting me.” Taz said thoughtfully, then glanced at the snacks Naadiya had brought, interested. Wine made her munchy. “Glad you brought snacks. I brought wine. Do you have a glass? If not, I’ll share mine.” She said, offering her glass to the other Benshira. Then she picked up the bottle and refilled it for the weaver.

“Your weaving never bothers me. I actually like the clack of your looms.” She added, smiling. “We were just talking about men. And I was singing some songs. Do you want to take a turn? You can borrow my mandolin…” Taz offered, knowing Naadiya was a responsible person. Then she glanced at Shiress. “Do you sing or play?” She asked curiously.

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"A mark of an open mind is being more committed to your curiosity than your conviction.
The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


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"Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows."
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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Shiress on April 3rd, 2022, 6:14 pm

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Shiress wouldn't have thought that the stranger she had run into, quite literally, would be a well of so much information. The woman knew many people, but not only knew them by name, Tazrae also knew about them, about their personal lives, too. Tazrae even knew Shade and about his...curse, but none of those people would know her anymore. To lose all your friends at the same time....how the woman still managed to smile was a mystery.

The vehemence with which Taz had pledged Shiress's safety from strangers while in Syka warmed Shiress more than Taz probably knew, but the doctor wasn't so sure it was just strangers or ghosts that she needed protecting from. Glancing down at the row of sutures on her arm and still feeling the bruises on her cheeks, Shiress thought back to the day she had arrived, back to the day that Shade had forcibly stripped searched her wondered if she should tell Tazrae about it. Shiress didn't want to get the monk in trouble, not really, but she would invite any advice about how to handle that particular incident.

Shiress hadn't quite forgiven the man for what he had done to her, nor has she spoken much to Shade over the last seven days, aside from the occasional yes or no answer to a question or a very brief telling of where she and Ian were headed. Shiress knew the man still followed her at a distance, and she found herself trying to escape his watchful gaze more and more, for the feeling that Shade watched her more out of caution, thinking her a crazy, marked, and evil woman rather than a willingness to keep her safe. Because of this, Shiress and Ian mainly kept to themselves, sequestered in the room at the inn. The opportunity to meet the other settlers in Syka was few and far between.

"Actually, no. I really haven't been that social since we arrived." she admitted, frowning down into her wine cup a tick before tilting it back, taking a long swallow, "You're the only person that I have met so far, here in Syka." she added, looking a bit sheepish.

To find out that the ghost of Elijah Jordan was her own distinct curse made Shiress's blood run cold. Did Shade know about Syka's curses? About his own? Did Shade know now that Shiress hadn't been faking the attack and that her wounds weren't self-inflicted? If so, the monk certainly hadn't confided in Shiress about knowing. The thought made Shiress scowl at her wine before irritation had her draining the entire cup in one go.

"Moritz," Shiress repeated, nodding, "I most certainly will pay him a visit." she smiled as her cup was refilled, "Thank you, Tazrae."

Shiress didn't comment when the conversation shifted to Monkies, only nodded her head to indicate that she was listening. Now that Shiress had been warned on two fronts, the dangers of monkies, an evil god's gift, and a nuisance to Syka, she was determined more than ever to get rid of Ian's toy.

As the innkeeper continued to talk, Shiress discovered that most of the occupants of Syka were cursed and that each curse was distinct to whomever it afflicted, and it left her shocked. Tazrae rattled off so many names that all Shiress could do was shake her head, pitying those Taz pointed out. Cleon, Faye. Oralie and her curse, though, grabbed Shiress's attention. The similarity between her ghost and Oralie's stalking shadow was just too similar. Shiress would need to seek out this Oralie and soon.

Shiress couldn't help the loud guffaw of laughter that escaped her as Tazrae snickered about being a man.

"If you were a man or woman," she began, speaking between coughs of laughter, "I would totally be all over you! You're so beautiful!" Shiress's eyes went wide at the words that had just come out of her mouth before the wine cup lifted to hide the blush surely staining her cheeks. Why had she said that!? Green eyes peered over the cup's rim, surreptitiously watching the innkeeper for any reaction, but Taz continued to speak as if she hadn't heard. Shiress took a moment to let her gaze take in Tazrae's shadowed, torchlit features and felt a brow lift in appreciation. God's, but she hadn't had these kinds of thoughts since...Oh gods, not since Zavya!

Shiress drained the wine cup, grabbed the bottle, refilled it, and drained it again before speaking.

"I wonder why it is the other two men don't have a curse, and, oh, It's fine," she said, voice a bit gravely, hand wagging dismissively, "If you ever get the time to write a song, we'll just have to have another date on the beach, so I can hear it."

It took everything Shiress had in her alcohol buzzed body not to drop her face into a palm and decided then and there that she would remain silent for the rest of the night, making a mental note of the name Alric and his dark blue eyes.

Thankfully, the innkeeper began to play her mandolin, and Shiress made a willful attempt not to stare at the woman anymore. Instead, as the instrument began to gently hum, Shiress sat her wine down, twisted her bag around from her back to her lap, and pulled out a piece of paper. On this paper, Shiress wrote:

Tazrae: Everyone forgets her because of a curse. She has golden, curly hair and bright blue eyes. Very pretty. Plays the mandolin and sings. She's the innkeeper where I'm staying. We met on the 7th and drank wine on the beach while she played and sang.

Moritz: Need to go see about ghost. Maybe ask about Ian's monkey. Soon! Lives in a bungalow.

Alric: A man Tazrae cares about. Loves? Has blue eyes like hers.


Shiress shoved the paper back into her bag just as Tazrae began to sing, and it didn't take long for the song's words to capture her. Oh, Tazrae, Shiress thought, as the song really took off. The words sang were both sad and hopeful at once and very telling. Shiress found herself staring at the singer once again, smiling sadly.

"Alric?" she said, watching Tazrae as she lowered the mandolin and smiled over at her, "Is Alric the one you love, and who can't love you back with the twin eyes? Will you tell me about him?" Shiress placed a hand over Taz's, then squeaked out a very unladylike swear word when a voice suddenly called out from behind them. She watched the dark-haired woman close the distance to them and grinned when the woman, Naadiya, called her by name.

"Shiress, yes!" she replied, oddly touched that the female knew her name, then shook her head, "Im in room two, and I've not heard a thing." she added, smiling up and somewhat loopily.

Naadiya's attention turned to Taz, and Shiress frowned sympathetically over at her new friend as what she had told her about everyone forgetting her became apparent. The other two females began chatting, and Shiress became very curious when she realized who this newcomer was.

"You're the man!" she blurted, her words somewhat slurred, "I mean, your curse makes you a man?" she added, lowering her voice and looking somewhat embarrassed, fingers sliding off her lap to steal a piece of cheese from the cloth Naadiya had lain down. Tazrae asked a question, and it took a minute for it to register that it was directed at her. Shiress turned her head to the innkeeper, gaze tracking a tick late.

"Me? No!" Shiress shook her head, "I don't sing unless you count me singing to Ian when he goes to sleep, and I've never even tried to play anything." she frowned, lifting her cup, "I'm sorry, but what does weaving mean, and what is a loom?"

Shiress's green eyes danced comically between the two females as her mouth filled with wine. Then Shiress's gaze paused on Naadiya, a bit of wine leaking from her lips down her chin when she grinned at her.

"Are you a man or a woman right now?"

Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Naadiya on April 6th, 2022, 6:05 pm

“You are the innkeeper?! I can’t believe we hadn’t met until now! You’re a bit of a recluse, aren’t you?”

The innkeeper had not given her a name, but Naadiya had overheard the name ‘Tazrae’ and knowing the dark-haired newcomer to be Shiress, she deduced that the other was Tazrae. As she was thinking of this, the weight of blonde’s words sunk in.

“Oh… we forget you? How odd, your curse seems to be as much on you as on everyone else. I hope this is not insensitive to ask, but do you have children?”

Naadiya had definitely heard the scampering of a child on the wooden floors of the inn. Without true windows, it was hard to keep sounds entirely muffled if everyone was inside. She could not imagine who would have it worse, a child who would forget everything about their mother everyday, or a mother who’s child would always forget her.

She confessed to not having brought a cup, but accepted the one offered gladly and took a hefty sip, silently thankful that she was not forgotten by all on a regular basis… But also wishing some people could have forgotten certain things about her… Thinking of what she wished could have been forgotten, she took another gulp, this one she barely tasted as it raced down her throat.

“That’s right…. I am the man…. It comes and goes. I don’t really know what triggers it, it’s all very inconvenient. I’ve torn the seams of two dresses trying to take them off, once in male form. The one thing I have noticed, is the pain that comes right before. It’s like the cross between a cramp and the world’s worst gas, but nothing comes out, and when it stops I’m a man. Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve felt anything when turning back into a woman.”

Naadiya was nodding to Tazrae, when Shiress’ question surprised her.

“Weaving is the creation of fabric from yarn. Well one way of doing it anyway. Probably the fastest, compared to knitting, or crocheting if you want large pieces of fabric, or if you need something sturdy. A loom the apparatus I use to take those yarns and interlace them in such a way to make a variety of different ‘weaves’.”

Gladly, she accepted the mandolin from Tazrae. Though she had no training with it, the two shared a natural affinity for song.


With a strum of her neatly manicured fingers on two of the mandolin’s strings Naadiya made a simple beat as she sang in a lilting tone. Her voice was unfiltered honey. Sweet, and thick with the occasional bit of grit from lack of formal training.

“Though I am not a man,
Grow a beard I can.
It comes, it goes
But nobody knows
How, or when,
Will it happen it again?

Prooobaablyy,
Confused by my own biology.
Always hide inside despondently.

But I don’t want to be,
This anomaly.
Seeeriouslyyy.
Gods, please help me.”

She broke off the improvised blurb of a song laughing.

“I think you may have spilled your wine! Why did you ask that? Do I look like a man? I’m not being argumentative, really, I’m honestly asking. Since this surprise penis thing has started, I’ve been growing facial hair unlike every before and sometimes I forget to shave my face or miss a spot.”

Reaching up with the hand that did not hold the instrument, she rubbed the lower half of her face, feeling for any thick beard hairs gone rogue. The same hand darted back to the food and she grabbed a grape and tiny chunk of cheese and popped both in her mouth at once. They were well enough that after a bite of two she was already considering reaching for more and with the third bite she gave in and grabbed a piece of bread.

“If anyone wants to take the lead with the music, please feel free, I’m just winging this.”

She was playing with the strings, testing out the sound each made and seeing how high, and how low the instrument could go. Picking up the same two string beat she had started earlier, Naadiya added a third, a light contrast to the deeper pitches of the other pair.

Low, low, high. Low, low, high.

Sometimes inspiration hit her, but she wasn’t exactly a songstress, so Naadiya hummed gently just to accompany the sound of the strings.

Turning to Shiress, she asked “Wait, so I’m the man, and everyone forgets Tazrae, but did you get stuck with one of these curses or have you escaped whatever net we got caught in?”

Having arrived a little late to the party, she had missed several gaps in the conversation.

Another sip of wine and an accompanying grape? Yes please, I think I will. Naadiya found it intriguing to think she was eating two stages of the same fruit. Somehow, it felt less odd than the initial realization of how many dishes involve both chicken and egg in their preparations.
She handed the mandolin over to Shiress encouragingly.

“Come on, they say we all have at least one good song inside waiting to come out. You don’t have to be any good, we promise not to laugh… much! Besides, with everything that has been going on, I’m not sure you will have the chance to this coming Tenday.”

She shook her shoulders in a shimmy, showing Shiress she may need to loosen up her upper back.

“If you’d rather not play, just sing and we will fill in the background to your song with mandolin and our voices.”

A low humming started in the back of Naadiya’s as she tried to invite a song out of the emerald eyed woman. Adding a little variation to her hummed melody, Naadiya tapped Tazrae’s leg, beckoning her to join the makeshift a-cappella music session.

Without the mandolin in her hands, Naadiya took another bit of fruit then rifled through her small bag, pulling out her embroidery supplies. Still unfinished, a linen top was set up with the embroidery hoop securing a section of the neckline in place. There was a needled threaded with a length of blue thread.

She had started to add small flowers in shades of blue to the top and the accompanying skirt that had been bought with it. So far she had sprinkled the right side of the otherwise un-dyed linen with blues from the center up to one of the straps and was now focusing on the left side.

Sharpened needle firm in hand, she plunged it into the fabric. The needle was shorter than some of her sewing needles, very narrow but with a tip that was designed to slide into the weave, not puncture it, like you would with a leather, for example. This kept the fabric from beginning to fray and tear from her additions.

It had taken her a minute to situate herself in a way that was comfortable enough that she could work her hoop and maintain her attention on the beachside conversation. Her back was somewhat supported by a combination of sand being piled up and shaped underneath the woolen mantle, the fabric itself, and a natural incline in the beach as she turned herself to be facing the water. Leaning back onto her ‘support’, Naadiya hiked up the skirt of her dress to be able to hold the hoop between her knees.

Her right hand pushed the needle in, and the left pulled it through to the other side. When she pulled with the left, she guided the thread with the right, making sure it would not tangle.

She’d continue to croon softly, offering an added instrument to the melody. The music did not hinder conversation, and though her hands worked methodically with the needle and thread, Naadiya was already starting to feel the wine.

Randomly she asked, “This is pretty decent wine, we have good grapes…We have great fruits here don’t we…” Her tone was a little far-away almost as though she was thinking out loud. “A huge variety really… and in large amounts already without the benefit of positive intervention from us… Does Stu bottle and export wines and other liquors?”

Naadiya couldn’t be sure if what she drank was of Stu’s making, or if the innkeeper had brewed it herself, or even if she’d bought somewhere, but she did know that Stu was generally the go-to for all things brewed. Talented he most certainly was. Charismatic as well. Always willing to impart his knowledge on others, too, but enterprising?

Starfruit-lime rum. Blood orange-ginger beer. Açai and cardamom wines. Cocoa or coffee liquors!

Never had she tried her hand at brewing and was really only picking flavors she guessed might blend from what she’d tasted since coming here, but Naadiya could close her eyes and picture it all.

Between her knees, blue was starting to spread across the greige fabric, and she adjusted the placement of the hoop. When she rethreaded her needled, Naadiya grabbed a pale yellow instead of the tones of blue already scattered over the chemise’s upper half. With the buttery thread, she went inside each of the little flowers and made a tiny a tiny cross, then an X over it with slightly shorter limbs and tied off the thread on the inside of the garment. This moved much faster than the flowers which were already of a simple design. As the women spoke, tiny yellow bursts filled the little blue petals.

Ready for a tiny break, Naadiya slipped the needle into the fabric and back out so that it lay held in the weave. She sipped the wine and sighed, her mind was drifting back to sell Stu’s concoctions bottled, barreled or jarred. Of course… She’d also have to convince the man as he’d be doing the actual brewing.

Sip.

What would it take to make him go for it?

Recently, Naadiya had overheard Dawn talking to her husband about The Outpost, was immediately interested, perking her ears up for details. She planned to go herself in the near future, in the hopes of establishing a trade partner who would sell her textiles. She had yet to work out the details, but it was something to think about anyway.

Sip.

If this place had such a variety of goods being traded at the same time, why shouldn’t they have some kind of booze merchant eager to get his hands on something unique and rare to come by where ever he hails from?

“I know Shiress is new to the settlement, but Tazrae, how well do you know Stu?”

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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Tazrae on April 10th, 2022, 2:41 pm

Taz was very protective of her guests. They needed to be watched over when they first arrived at Syka and before they learned about the ways of the jungle and Falyndar itself. Lady Falyndar, as almost a Goddess Figure, had charged her with such things once upon a time and she took that charge seriously. Once, hundreds of years ago, if not thousands, people lived in Syka that weren’t Myrians or Dhani. People lived in peace here and prospered. Syka was a dream that situation would happen again.

So, Taz watched Shiress, noted when a bunch of conflicting emotions crossed her face, and started to say something, then held her tongue. “You should get to know others here. There are really great people around.” She said thoughtfully to Shiress. Then she laughed as the conversation continued and both women were in giggling fits. The wine was indeed strong. “Thank you, but I’m not what you think,” Tazrae said thoughtfully, as the bubbling laughter subsided. “I come with a whole host of issues, the least of which are family problems.” She said cryptically and then smiled. “You should make friends with my twin sister Kami. She works at the Panacea. She’s a very skilled doctor.” Taz offered, making the suggestion. “We aren’t identical, but fraternal. Same family problems though.” She said, drinking deeply of her wine.

“You must not have been there when Stu stood up and said something. He said that he and Mathias were priests, trice marked, of Gods and that’s why they think they weren’t affected by the curses. It’s the only single thing they could think of they had in common…” Taz answered Shiress’ question and let the conversation move on.

Taz played another song, then smiled softly at Shiress’ question. “Alric is my best friend. Sometimes I think he’s the other half of my soul.” She found herself admitting, then blinked and realized it must be the wine talking. But she was cautious, oh so cautious, because Alric’s secrets weren’t her own and if Shiress thought she was protective over the guests, then that protectiveness doubled and tripled where Alric was concerned. “He’s like a warm fire on a snowy night. He makes me laugh at myself and at him when I’ve grown too serious. And he inspires me to be better, to try harder, and reminds me not to give up chasing my dreams. Even though, he doesn’t dream for himself… not really. He’s a man that can’t see his future for his present and so he lives in the now. I’m hoping someday he will grow smart enough to look ahead and plan like I do. Fate isn’t something that just happens to us. Fate is something we meet head-on and prepare for.” Taz said and took a deep breath, then a deeper drink of her wine, refilling her glass.

“I’ll have to give him up soon. I feel it in my bones. He’s a dream I’ve had since I met him, but I don’t think he dreams the same dreams. I’m fairly sure he doesn’t dream at all. And he has a family now, where he had no one before. So, it will be easier for me to say goodbye. He’ll live for his family if nothing else. I don’t think he would have lived for me. I wouldn’t have been enough. And with this curse going on… he doesn’t even know me anymore.” Taz added, glancing at Shiress, her eyes a little bit wet.

She was literally saved by Naadiya, even though the Benshira didn’t know it. Taz gave her a grateful look and offered her the mandolin.

Taz sighed heavily at Naadyia’s words, then glanced at Shiress as if to say ‘See what I mean?’. “No, I’m out everyday cooking. cleaning, changing linens and the like. I’ve even had some nice talks with you, Naadiya. We went bathing together on your first day at the Common Pool. But you won’t remember. My curse is that people forget me.” Tazrae said softly, studying the newcomer. Then the wine was exchanged, and a mandolin was handed over.

“I can’t imagine becoming a man.” She said thoughtfully, shaking her head. “I like my sex the way it is.” She added, then listened intently when Naadiya explained her craft to Shiress. Then she laughed over Naadiya’s song and decided she quite liked Naadiya’s singing voice. Taz laughed because both her and Shiress were already well into their cups. “You look like a woman to me. You’d be a most unattractive male. I like breasts and all, but not on men.” She said and raised the wineskin to her lips. “Give me hard pecs any day.” She exclaimed then laughed at the word hard.

Taz encouraged Shiress to give it a try playing as well. “I’ll run-up to the Inn and grab a few more instruments… something both of you can play.” She said, glad she’d picked up a few things on her last shopping trip to the Outpost. And then she did just that, making the trip quickly. Tazrae came back with a tambourine, a large round animal skin drum with a beater, and a wooden flute. She left them on the ground on the blanket by the woman, but kept the drum and held it aloft by one of the torches, heating up the skin. She thumped it a few times, turning it so the skin got taught as Naadiya went on about the wine.

“That’s from Riverfall, actually. Stu makes liquors… the hard stuff. We can grow grapes around here, I suppose… I mean why not everything else grows? But I don’t know of any actual grapevines.” She said. “He makes rum and distills almost anything into liquor… mango, banana, all kinds of fruit.” She added, tilting her head. “Oh and whiskey, but I have no idea what that is made out of. He does import a lot of animal feed he doesn’t have animals for though.” She said looking thoughtful. “So maybe corn?” She suggested… already a little drunker than usual.

“I actually don’t know him that well at all. Some would say we are in competition, though I buy all my hard liquor from him so it's not really that. I know Moritz, whom I told Shiress to go look for and talk to about her ghost problem works for him. You might ask him about Stu yourself. He’d probably have a lot of insight.” She said thoughtfully, then settled into her seat. She poured herself a glass of wine from the wineskin, having thought to not only bring another glass with the instruments but bring another whole wineskin, and began to think of the drum.

She thumped it rhythmically and tried to decide what to sing to a drumbeat. Taz spoke this song, bardic style, to the thunks of the animal skin drum like it was a heartbeat, one-two, lub-dub…

“Men, if you love us, play no more
The fools or tyrants with your friends,
To make us still sing o'er and o'er
Our own false praises, for your ends:
We have both wits and fancies too,
And, if we must, let's sing of you.

Nor do we doubt but that we can,
If we would search with care and pain,
Find some one good in some one man;
So going through all your strain,
We shall, at last, of parcels make
One is good enough for a song's sake.

And as a cunning painter takes,
In any curious piece, you see,
More pleasure while the thing he makes,
Then when 'tis made--why so will we.
And having pleased our art, we'll try
To make a new, and hang that by.”


The drum was new to her and she took a moment to get into a rhythm, making the song a bit awkward. But yet she played on, having hundreds of songs memorized that other people wrote having heard them here, there, and everywhere. “I really want this to be over. Syka is such a lovely place to live. But this makes it a terrible place… what do you think is causing this? These curses…” She asked both women, something in her eyes painful and haunted.

Then she toed the new wineskin with a barefoot. "I brought more wine." She said with a laugh.

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The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


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"Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows."
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Be savage, not average.
 
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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Shiress on April 12th, 2022, 1:02 am

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Shiress ducked her head away, taking another mouthful of wine to dodge Tazrae's statement, knowing that she needed to put herself out into Syka's community and meet people. As the wine drained from her cup, Shiress reached for the bottle for a refill, wondering briefly if this was the fourth or fifth cup, but not caring either way and gave the innkeeper a crooked smile.

"I know, and I will meet people." she said, happily slurring her words, then mumbled into her cup, "As soon as I get the nerve."

Despite her chosen profession and deliberate, self-altered personality, Shiress was a timid, quiet person when she found herself around others. Borne of her time as an enslaved person in Sunberth, Shiress, most often than not, would observe rather than speak. Better seen than heard was a belief that Masters had beat and branded into their slaves since time began, and that belief was meant to last.

For Shiress, it had become more of a survival instinct; wait, watch and listen, speak only when asked, always answer truthfully (because the master already knows the truth), and never make eye contact. Shiress shuddered, wondering why such long-buried memories and mentalities were suddenly resurfacing, even while already knowing the reason.

When Taz mentioned having a twin, Shiress immediately perked up.

"I have a twin!" she exclaimed, probably a bit too loudly, "I have a twin brother. We're fraternal, too." she added needlessly, reaching into her bag and pulling out the paper she had scribbled notes on earlier.

As Taz continued to speak, Shiress wrote out alongside Tazrae's name: Has a twin, too. Sister works at the clinic and is a doc. Kami.

When Taz mentioned the Tenday meeting, her hand faltered on the paper, and she swallowed hard.

"No, I missed that." she said, containing her emotion from leaking out into her voice as best she could in her state, "I..uh.. didn't feel very well that day."

Thankfully, Taz began to play and sing, and Shiress took the song's length to gather herself. The Tenday meeting had gone horribly wrong; Shiress's cursed ghost attacking her, then Shade attacking Ian's monkey, the monkey attacking in-kind, then Shade completely and blatantly overlooking anything Shiress did, ignoring anything she had tried to say, and basically treating her like an insane woman that didn't do anything right by his standards and just why couldn't he scrub hard enough to get this crazed filth off the bottom of his shoe!

Stubborn man.

Stubborn, gorgeous man.

Shiress sighed into the song, eyes twinkling with an infatuation she had no right having and one that would undoubtedly bite her in the arse. She grinned drunkenly at that last part.

The song ended, and Tazrae answered Shiress's inquiry with a melancholy that did not become the beautiful woman.

"Sounds like you might love this, Alric. He sounds like a good man." Shiress said, heavy-lidded and smiling, "Fate is..." she began but quickly deduced that she had no idea what fate was and especially didn't know what fate had in store for her. Didn't know if she wanted to know, either, "...fickle, as they say." she finished lamely.

" I wouldn't give up on your dream of him so quickly if I were you." she said, smiling sadly, "I've been through a lot, and I've had love and lost it, and if I regret anything, it's that I didn't fight hard enough when fate meant me to." she shrugged, taking another mouthful of wine, "Family and what you want to be to Alric are two totally different loves, and they take up two different places in someone's heart, I think. It seems you've already taken up space in Alric's heart, and that's where he'll know you. Even when he forgets you in his mind, Alric will remember you in his heart." Shiress smiled, thinking that sounded pretty good, then let the smile slip when she realized she wanted that, too, even as she wanted it for Tazrae.

Naadiya arrived then, and as Taz and Naadiya chatted, Shiress did her level best to lower their wine supply, her mind somewhere back in Ravok, wrapped in Elias's arms, feeling safe and protected for the first time in ages. Shiress wondered if Elias's death would have been easier to deal with than his disappearing without a word or explanation.

Shiress had been happy in Ravok, loving her man and spending time with her Kelvic Bondmate, Rook, and finding out that she would be a mother. Then it had all just...ended; Elias vanished, Rook was killed, her unborn baby threatened.

Shiress sighed, definitely more drunk than not, just as Naadiya finished playing.

"I asked that," Shiress replied, eyes belatedly lifting to give the dark-haired woman an injured look, "cause, no, you don't look like a man, but I don't know how all that," she waved a hand in the vicinity of Naadiya's lap, "works." she explained, then muttered, "Just curious, is all."

Turning to Tazrae, Shiress lifted her cup for a refill, and it wobbled unsteadily back and forth, making the woman work to actually get the wine in the cup. Shiress's face twisted in concentration to try and steady her hand, realizing the cup was full long after Taz had refilled it.

"Phew, I think I'm getting drunk!" she announced, though it was to her cup she spoke to.

Refocussing her attention on her companions, she grinned at Tazrae's comment about her liking 'sex just the way it was' and 'hard pecs', totally taking that waaaay out of the context the innkeeper intended it to be taken.

"And hard peckers!" Shiress hollered, then laughed so hard at her own joke the doctor snorted wine through her nose, then lolled her head in Naadiya's direction with a "You da man," and "Poor Taz," when the woman repeated her and Tazrae's curses.

Shiress glanced down at her arm and grimaced when the weaver asked about her own curse.

"Ohhh, back in 516, my old slavemaster came for me and, to make a short story long," she paused, frowned, shook her head, "long story short, I mean. I killed him. Stabbed him right here," Shiress poked a finger into the middle of her chest, "Now, ever since I got to Syka, his ghost has been attacking me. I think every time the ghost shows up, it makes me think like a slave again. Maybe even act like one, too, cause I get this weird desire to just obey, like a helpless little puppy, and don't really argue like I want to. I just take shyke. Shyke that pisses me off later when I think about it."

Could this be why she had shown such vulnerability toward Shade and why she desired so strongly to change the way the monk saw her? How did Shiress want Shade to see her? Did she want him to see her as good? Kind? A skilled doctor?...Obedient? Shiress choked on a mouthful of wine, body going taut at that thought, but not because the idea of her obeying Shade was so ludicrous, but because Shiress thought it just might be true.

Curse related or a girlish crush?

Shiress decided it was a little of both.

Stretching out her arm, she showed them both, in turn, the healing line of sutures that trailed from her wrist to nearly her elbow, "He gets very mad and very violent at night, and I don't think anybody else can see him," Shiress shrugged, "Shade thinks I've gone crazy and hurting myself. Even took off all my clothes and looked for marks from evil gods and such." she lifted the cup and took a long, lazy swallow, "Didn't find anything, though." she grinned.

When the mandolin was placed in her lap, Shiress peered down at it like the thing had sprouted a mouth and spoke to her.

"Oh, I don't know..." she started to say, but Naadiya's little shimmy had her giggling, and with encouragement from Taz, too, Shiress mimicked the way the other two women had positioned the instrument and slid her thumb down the row of strings, smiling triumphantly when it thrummed out a sound beneath her fingers.

Straightening her back, Shiress warmed to the idea, cleared her throat, and started singing, thumb skipping over the strings after every second or third line.

If Shade was my lover
I bet he'd have a soft touch

It doesn't really matter much
Cause he's got a nice butt

If Shade was my lover
I don't think I'd recover

Wish he was my lover
We'd go undercover

With Shade as my lover
We would discover

Each other!


Shiress finished her little song and ducked her head, smiling embarrassedly, as she handed the mandolin back over to Naadiya.

"You sound and play much better." she admitted, then noticed what she had been working on, "That's very pretty..." she began, but a woman trudging through the sand toward them made her stop.

Shiress studied the stranger as she began laying out different instruments like they were meant to choose one and talking as if she had been eavesdropping on her and Naadiya the entire time. Shiress hesitantly reached out and picked up the noisemaker, the first to catch her eye, then handed Naadiya the stick thing. When the stranger started a beat on her instrument and started singing, Shiress shot her dark-haired companion a -just go with it- look, eyebrows racing skyward.

"Do you know her?" Shiress whispered, "I don't know her." Shiress paused, licked her lips, then grinned, "She brought wine, though."

It didn't take long for the inebriated doctor to figure out how to work her choice of instruments and had a shaking, jingling rhythm going pretty well with the song, and it made her smile and laugh as the music continued.

Once the singing was done and the woman's mood visibly plummeted, Shiress frowned and happened to set her noisemaker down beside the paper she had been jotting notes on as she and Naadiya had talked. However, once she read through it, she was quick to realize it hadn't been just her and Naadiya at all. Disguising her gasp as a burp, Shiress lifted the cup to her lips as her hand surreptitiously slid the paper over to Naadiya.

"Let's not talk about that tonight, Tazrae." Shiress said, picking the mandolin up off the blanket and tossing it toward the innkeeper. Grabbing the noisemaker in one hand, Naadiya's hand with the other, she hauled the other woman to her feet."Because tonight," she said, entwining her fingers with Naadiya's, then lifting their joined hands above their heads, hips shaking pointedly, "because tonight we dance!"


Word Count - 1,843


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Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Lonely Hearts Club [Tazrae]

Postby Naadiya on May 10th, 2022, 7:36 pm

How odd…

Naadiya remembered going to the Community Pools, they had been one of the first treasures that Syka had revealed to her, but she could not for the life of her remember this Tazrae taking her there. A tiny hint of red rose to her cheeks, and Naadiya apologized for having forgotten. It was easy to blame it on the curse, but forgetfulness was also a simple part of life. Forgetting could be an annoying nuisance tied to overly indulging in smoke or drink or the inevitably creeping shadow of age obscuring thoughts that would have otherwise come easily and clearly to a nimbler mind.

How would this woman ever truly know if someone looking at her blankly without a hint of a name reaching their lips would be a result of the malice that ravaged the collective Sykan mental health or simple an ill-mannered but intentional snub. It was the kind of thing Naadiya had encountered on many occasions back in the desert but had to admit felt very foreign in Syka.

I suppose it’s not a cultural thing here, thank the gods.

It was one of the many differences she had noted since arriving at the diverse settlement. That and of course the local attitude towards nudity that had caused Naadiya to see quite a few more penises than she had expected. First she had focused her gaze on the ground whenever there was a swinging appendage in her vicinity but eventually she got more and more lax about the whole thing. She was no longer so shy about her own body and even ventured the occasional sneaky-peak at particularly shapely specimens nearby, even going as far as openly ogling at Artik whenever she caught the chance.

That was something she had missed recently. Her part-time masculinity had caused some difficulties between herself and Artik. So unsure of what he would do or say if her sudden shifts occurred during the act, Naadiya had refrained from the more carnal activities of late.
Thinking about her own problems often had the unhelpful effect of trying to minimize them in general or by comparison to others’ and trying to not let herself linger on those thoughts, Naadiya swiped the wine and took a swig.

“It’s not as bad as I would have imagined, actually,” Naadiya laughed, talking about becoming a man, “I mean, I suppose there are worse things to turn into… fanged things, scaled things, rotting things, or horned or drooling… It just really throws me off. I feel sick as if I’m going to vomit or shit myself or both in a horrible two-way explosion. In the moment it hits, it feels like there will be no end to it and then suddenly the pain, nausea and bloating is gone. But I haven’t actually thrown up or anything and the ‘explosion’ doesn’t actually produce anything…. Well it produces a penis, that’s certainly something.”

When Shiress revealed her own curse and its remnant effects on her, Naadiya bit the inside of her cheek. She remembered the woman’s bloody, tear streaked walk to the bonfire and the burning of the doll.

There had been no marks found on her body… And why burn the doll…

“And why burn the doll? Is the ghost tied to the toy?” Naadiya hadn’t realized she’d spoken aloud, but continued when she had, “you have a son… was he searched for such a mark?”

Shiress’s song earned her applause and laughter. Naadiya had been quite unsure as to what their relationship was, but it seemed the music was as much of a conversational lubricant as the alcohol.

When Tazrae came back with the instruments, Shiress had already forgotten who the woman was. Immediately, Naadiya recalled her earlier thoughts on the mind’s forgetfulness. Naadiya herself, had not quite forgotten the innkeeper and wondered if it had to do with the very short amount of time she’d been gone.
Maybe different people are affected differently by this one curse. Different individuals with their own limits?

She glanced at the doctor, who Naadiya deeply hoped never had a drink before operating on anyone’s wounds as her alcohol limits had maybe already been reached tonight.

I wonder if an alchohol addled mind, or one that was tired, anxious or stressed, would be faster to forget the innkeeper than one who was clearer at the time.

She reached out to Shiress and handed her a piece of bread, “you should eat something… That’s Tazrae, people forget her… but for some reason I didn’t just now. I wonder…”

Naadiya eye’s narrowed slightly as she tried to put words to feelings.

“It was like the memory of her got fainter the further she went, as though many years had been condensed into seconds eroding the memory, but just before it was completely gone, she came back…”

Naadiya discarded the idea of mass production of Stu’s brews.

If he has to import his ingredients for the whiskey, that’s out. Too many stages where that chain of production could be disrupted… same for the wine. If he is going to be working with new ingredients there would also be a learning curve before he perfected his brew…

Unlike some other crafts, brewing took too long to see the results for her tastes. Naadiya liked to be able to see progress before her eyes, and once the ingredients were mixed and stored, it was a lot of waiting.

Naadiya had never seen the Protea and the Tidepool as ever being in competition with one another and said as much.

“The people that eat and drink at the inn are mostly the ones staying there no? I would imagine the bar caters more to the rest, and its a different atmosphere… I would be thankful to not have to clean up the kinds of messes that can happen at a bar. Plus, I’m not sure how pleasant it would be to stay at an Inn that felt like the Tidepool…. I mean to each, their own but it’s not my pace, I prefer it here.” She inclined her head back in the Protea’s direction.

Naadiya had already met Mortiz and gave Tazrae a look at her suggestion.

“We’ve met…. I have to admit, I found that conversation…” she struggled for the right word before settling unsatisfactorily on, “tricky.”

Looking over at Shiress, Naadiya was unsure if the woman had grown or lived around livestock for any time of her life. While Naadiya’s own focus growing up had not been tending their family’s animals, there were hardly any Benshira families who could afford it and did not have livestock. Her mother’s former tribe favored horses, and her father’s preferred camels but most tribes had goats and cows mingled in with the rest.

“Have you ever had a goat?” She asked the exponentially drunker brunette. “Well, just prepare for that, before your conversation. Okomo Kelvic, I’ve never seen an Okomo but I’m told they are goat-like.”

Tazrae’s song brought a smile to Naadiya’s lips, she had accompanied the rhythm with the flute Shiress had handed her, trying not to laugh at how familiar the shape was in her hands. Her notes weren’t spot on, and she quickly chose to just flutter her fingers over the holes while she blew, making a joke about how she was normally much better at blowing hard poles

“I usually play the skin flute!” she burst out with a laugh that spilled a bit of while on her embroidery, “Oh damn.”

She was wiping it off when Shiress slid a piece of paper over to her and Naadiya nodded still laughing, now adding extra giggles for the borderline sloppy look in the doctor’s eyes.

The three of them were bouncing from tragic to joyful and back with barely the blink of an eye, it may even have felt cathartic in a way. She was pulled to her feet and let the embroidery hoop fall, everything was on the woolen mantle and would easily be bundled up to carry back.

“Then we dance the Sykan way!” With a smooth motion, Naadiya pulled her dress over her head and tossed it on the blanket with the rest of their things. Dancing naked on the beach at night seemed to fit the local setting better than most. Just as she had been pulled up, Naadiya reached for Tazrae’s hand and brought the honey-blonde to her feet as well before swaying hips and shimmying shoulders shook off something of the tension.

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