Completed Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Shiress seeks out help from Antelokes

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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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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on April 28th, 2022, 4:45 pm

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For many chimes, after Anteloke's inquiry, then his words of declaration rang through the forge and had turned back to the forge; Shiress could do little else but stare in his direction.

"Was that what I think it was?"

Had he seen it? Had Antelokes seen the ghost that had haunted the doctor's every move for more than a fortnight, a spirit that had thus gone unseen, catalyzing the accusation that Shiress was causing harm to herself? Of late, even Shiress had begun to wonder at the accuracy of that accusation. A quiet inward contemplation that, perhaps, she was self-harming and had, at last, lost what little sense she had struggled to maintain over the seasons. The doctor had seen others that were doing so and had tended to their self-inflicted wounds. But now...

Shiress lifted off the wall and slowly closed the distance between her and Anteloke's, lips and mouth working in a helpless attempt to form the words of...what? An apology that he had seen Jordan's ghost, or ask for reassurance that he had seen it and that she wasn't going crazy?

As the healer drew close, she lifted a hand and pressed it to the smith's back to draw his attention from his work and drew in a breath to speak. However, that breath was stolen when a hard blow to her back sent the doctor plowing headlong into Antelokes with enough force that Shiress felt her lip split when her face collided with the blacksmith's back.

The blow stunned the doctor for a tick, her body rocking back and forth as she pressed a fingertip to her bloodied lip until the sound of a whoosh of heat and light drew her dazed gaze.

"No...oh god's..."

Shiress screamed out a series of denials as her hands twisted into the back of Anteloke's shirt and yanked the man out of the forge with a strength she hadn't known herself capable of. The momentum of her efforts carried them both to the floor, Antelokes' crashing down on top of Shiress, knocking the breath from her lungs.

The Zeltivan scrambled out from beneath the larger man and threw herself at the flames, batting and ripping at the man's burning shirt, not realizing or maybe just not caring that the flesh of both her hands was being burned in the process. This young, beautiful man burning alive, and it was her fault.

"No! I'm sorry! No...no..."

Shiress was suddenly jerked away from Antelokes and bodily propelled halfway across the forge with enough force to crash against the far wall, depleting what little air her struggling lungs had managed to replenish.

Shiress caught a glimpse of the enormous body of the drunk blonde the instant before a coughing spasm had her eyes slamming shut.

"What the petch was that crazy woman doin," Artik bellowed, anger evident in his voice, "I saw her push you into the furnace, then start beating on ya."

Shiress's closed lids squeezed tighter together as she contemplated whether or not she could make it out of The Community Forge on her hands and knees and disappear.





Word Count - 548
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Last edited by Shiress on May 12th, 2022, 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 30th, 2022, 8:06 am

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Antelokes sprawled across the ground, stunned. He simultaneously felt a wave of Shiress’ panic through his gnosis mark and the flurry of her frenzied attempts to extinguish the flames licking up around his shirt.

“Stop, Shiress—!” he began, but was interrupted as she was torn away. In her place stood Artik, chest heaving. Tall, strong, and very hairy, the man looked not unlike a bear. The rage apparent in his face did nothing to dispel the comparison.

Why had the doctor shoved him into the forge? Had he done something to upset her? Well, he thought, I did intentionally anger her, but she seemed to take that quite well. Plus I would have felt her anger first. It was possible her attack hadn’t been an act of passion, but was some form of cold retaliation for the insult he’d made against her. But that didn’t seem quite right either.

Antelokes patted out the rest of the flames on his shirt, cursing a little at the damage. It had long since been stained by soot, but it had been a solid usable garment that he’d hoped to keep for some time yet. Not anymore though. He might be able to get a a couple good rags out of the cloth, but its time as a shirt had probably passed.

“Are you all right lad?” the older smith asked, offering his prone companion a hand of support. Antelokes took the hand in a firm grip and rose to his feet with the help of a hefty pull from Artik.

“I’m fine,” he said, head still spinning as he tried to make sense of what had happened.

“Good,” Artik rumbled. “Now would you mind telling me what happened? I shut my eyes for half a second, and when I wake up there’s a brawl in my forge!” Artik scratched at the scruffy hair on his neck. “What pissed that lady off so much anyhow?” Antelokes frowned. He cast his eyes around, eventually landing on Shiress’ huddled form.

“I don’t think she was pissed off…” he said, thinking even as he spoke to Artik. “…it was something else. She was helping me Artik. Though it might be better to say I was helping her. We were working together.” Antelokes approached Shiress slowly, hands held up in a placating gesture, although he noticeably stopped at a safe distance from the distressed woman. He cocked his head. Her emotions were still running high, which meant he could still feel them. There was no murderous intent, and nothing he could discern that would imply deception of any kind.

“Shiress,” he said slowly, “what just happened?” Remembering the frantic way she had pulled him from the furnace, Antelokes gestured to the parts of his arms and chest that had been exposed by the burnt shirt. “Don’t worry, I’m fine. The fire doesn’t harm me, see?” Antelokes bared his forearm, displaying the flame pattern that was painted in stark relief on his skin there. “I’m marked by Ivak, I am not hurt.” Now that he was closer, Antelokes saw Shiress’ injuries. A frown crept across his face.

“It isn’t the same for you though, is it?” he said, closing the distance to the doctor, crouching down. “Are you okay?” He noticed the burns on her hands. For a moment, he didn’t know how to respond. It had been so long since he’d needed to worry about burns that the immediate response escaped him. “Artik!” he said, voice dripping with urgency. “This woman is burnt!”

“Serves her right…” Artik grumbled. Antelokes turned his head to glare at the older man.

“No, it doesn’t,” he said. “She needs help.” Turning back to the doctor, Antelokes did his best to soften his expression. “Shiress, what happened?” he asked.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on May 2nd, 2022, 9:26 pm

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As the blacksmith's discussed her as if she weren't coughing and hacking just a few feet away, Shiress finally drew in a couple of successful breaths and sat up, scowling at Antelokes.

"Wished I would've known that," she said, "before I thought I was watching you burn to death."

She leaned her back against the wall and met the young man's gaze, ignoring Artik for the time being, "You saw it, didn't you? My...the ghost from the curse, you saw him?" Shiress didn't wait for the blacksmith to answer before continuing, "It was him, the ghost. It shoved me into you, and you...I would never...I didn't mean to..."

Frustrated tears welled in Shiress's eyes as her gaze flicked to Artik, then back. "I didn't do it, Antelokes. I swear that I didn't shove you into that fire on my son's life."

Shiress was so far gone with the overwhelming need to convince Antelokes that she hadn't meant to harm him that she didn't immediately register what the man was saying to her, but when he crouched down next to her, she tracked his gaze slowly down. Shiress raised both arms and rotated her hands back and forth, her eyes steadily widening as she took in the state of her hands. Both were, indeed, very burned, with blisters already beginning to develop. So, the doctor did what she had always done best; ignored her own injury.

"I'm fine," she said, replying to the younger smith's inquiry. Then, hearing Artik's remark scowled over at the older man, "oh, petch off! I've been here a bell or longer, and all you've managed the entire time is a snore," she shook her head, trying to situate herself to climb to her feet without using her hands, "If I wanted to hurt Antelokes I'd have done it before now."

Shiress had just made it to her feet when Artik lobbed a sobbing wet cloth at her head, and she just barely managed to catch the thing right before it smacked into her face. The instinctual motion cost her, though and Shiress hissed down at her now trembling hands.

The momentum of the heavy towel slapping into her hands caused the large blisters across her palms to break open and peel back, leaving raw, open wounds that burned far worse than they had been.

Shiress slowly lifted her eyes and aimed such a fury-filled look at Artik that it was a surprise the man didn't burst into flames himself. She gently wrapped the cool compress around her hands and glanced back up to Antelokes, her gaze softening when he spoke up for her.

"No, I don't," she said, though, to the observant, it was apparent that her hands pained her, "need any help. I just need you to know that I would never hurt you."

Shiress looked down at her wrapped hands, then back up. The tears swimming in her green eyes vibrated in sync with the tremors that had set about her body as the doctor struggled to quell any outward display of pain in the company of two stronger men. A lesson of self-control beaten into every enslaved person, and it was a lesson that wasn't easily forgotten.

Lifting shrouded hands, Shiress met Antelokes gaze and had to fight back a wave of emotion. She ground her teeth together to steady her voice, but it only made her words come out in a growl.

"How am I supposed to help Noah now when I can't even hold a towel, much less a scalpel."

Word Count - 618

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Last edited by Shiress on May 12th, 2022, 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on May 4th, 2022, 11:56 pm

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Antelokes sat back on his heels, frowning. Shiress’ emotional state had already been delicate, and this was certainly not helping. Artik and this “ghost” seemed to have joined forces in driving the doctor past her limits and making sure that poor little kid never got his leg fixed. He sighed. It was hard to blame Artik too much though. The drunkard had been trying to help, despite the brutish way he’d gone about it. He couldn’t be blamed for waking up to such a confusing spectacle.

“I’m sorry. In the future I’ll make sure to tell people beforehand not to pull me out of any fires.” Antelokes said dryly, offering Shiress the hint of a smile. “Though I do appreciate the sentiment of the action.”

Frustration. Desperation. Anger. The young Azenth couldn’t recall the last time he’d met anyone more alight with emotions than this woman. When Artik threw the wet compress to Shiress, he felt that whole miasma of emotion coalesce into a single hardened knot of rage. Not good. Not good at all.

Antelokes tensed, ready to jump between the two should the conflict come to blows. It had been hard to imagine the little doctor showing much aggression, though this burst of fury made him second guess that judgement. Through the haze of his constant drunkenness Artik likely didn’t realize the extent to which he was poking a hissing viper here.

Despite her words, Antlokes had a hard time believing that she didn’t need help. Perhaps she didn’t want it (or claimed not to), but very few people could take hits and burns like that and just shrug away the damage.

“It was a rhetorical question,” he said deadpan. “I’m going to help you anyway. Both of us are.” With that he shot a pointed look at Artik. The man answered with a grunt and a vague hand motion. Antelokes couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a rude gesture or a wave of acknowledgement. He gave Artik the benefit of the doubt.

When Shiress lifted her hands, asking her pleading question, Antelokes bit back his own wave of anger. Anger at whatever foul being or cruel twist of fate that had decided to torment Syka—torment this woman—to the point of breaking like this. He fought the urge to display that inner fire. There was a problem at hand, and Shiress’ distress would not be solved through expressions of rage.

“You help that boy by not giving up on him,” Antelokes said. “And that means not giving up on yourself either. We solve this one step at a time. C’mon, let’s start off by getting you off the ground.” Antelokes stretched out a hand to help her up before remembering her burns and thinking better of it. Instead, he put one of her arms across his shoulders and lifted slowly, supporting her but letting the woman stand on her own feet. He was careful not to disturb the blistered skin.

“Artik!” he barked. “We’re trying to help a hurt kid, and now Shiress here. Will you act sober long enough to lend a hand, or are you a compassionless monster?”

“Is there a third choice?” Artik asked, scowling at Antelokes.

“No, there isn’t,” answered the younger smith as he offered Shiress a seat at a low bench, helping her down if she wanted it. “Shiress,” he continued, meeting her eyes. “We’re going to get you fixed up, then we’re going to do the same for that little boy. Anything less and we’re letting that damned ghost win. And we’re not going to do that, right? Just tell us what to do, how to help. You have four extra hands here.”

“You don’t speak for me kid!” Artik interrupted, tugging at his impressively long beard in consternation.

“You made this mess worse, now you’re gonna help clean it up,” said Antelokes. Looking back at Shiress, he nodded to Artik. “He’ll help.”
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on May 24th, 2022, 9:34 pm

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Shiress's vexed glare clung to the older smith for the time it took for Antelokes to guide her to a bench. Every time the blonde man deigned to open his mouth, the doctor's ire grew, her emerald eyes narrowing just a little bit more. It wasn't until the younger man said her name that Shiress swung her slitted gaze back to Antelokes, surprised to find herself seated.

At any other time, Shiress would have shared the young smith's positive sentiment, but even Antelokes' undaunted optimism was beginning to grate on her nerves. The truth was, Shiress was ready to just give up. To hand over the boy's care to one of the other Sykan healers despite knowing, or at least suspecting, that the Akalak healers in the small community saw patients as numbers and conquests rather than sick and injured people.

Now that the adrenalin high of thinking poor Antelokes would burn to death right before her eyes slowly abated, Shiress felt exhaustion cover her like a wet blanket. Leaning forward, she rested her elbows on the tops of her knees and moved to drop her head into her hands, and promptly let out a string of unladylike curses when the weight of the gesture caused her hands to throb and burn.

Sighing, Shiress dropped her hands to her lap and studied the injured appendages.

"Honestly, there's not really much anyone can do to help, not for burns. Not even me," she said, lifting her gaze, "I'll need to go to The Outpost to The Redynn and see if I can have one of the marked healers tend me," she paused, looking thoughtful, "Unless you know of a mark healer in Syka? Otherwise, I'll have to hand over Noah's treatment to one of the other physicians," she lifted her hands, considering the angry raw and peeling skin on her palms and the bottoms of her fingers, "these types of burns will take weeks to fully heal and even then the chance the skin mends with enough flexibility to hold a hairbrush, let alone anything else, would be slim."

Shiress fell silent, but her gaze remained on the young blacksmith for a long time before she finally spoke.

"I really am sorry, Antelokes," she said sincerely, "I've seen better days, as most everyone in Syka lately, and your first impression of me isn't what I wished it to be. Had I a better mind, I would have sent someone else in my stead to seek your help and not brought my troubles to you." Shiress stood, offering the young man a small smile, "When Syka is free of curses and things settle back to normal, I would love to treat you to coffee or perhaps something stronger," she laughed, "I'd like a chance to unsully what you must think of me."

Without giving the gesture much thought, Shiress went to her tiptoes, threw her arms around the taller man's neck, and squeezed, mindful of her injured hands.

"If ever you require medical care, you've most definitely earned a few free exams," she said close to Antelokes ear, "Do not hesitate to come to see me, okay."

Releasing Antelokes, Shiress took a step back and glanced at the table where the finished iron rods lay.

"Please, if you will, have those and the other items sent over to the Children's Pavilion. I'd say in about two bells. I should be ready for them by then."

Shiress moved away and headed for the exit, but when she spotted Artik swigging from a flask, she paused, "When you are ready to rid yourself of that vice," she said, canting her head at the flask, "I have ways that can help you, medication as well. You wouldn't have to do it alone."

She smiled and strolled from the forge, casting a knowing glance over her shoulder at Antelokes.



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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on May 27th, 2022, 11:40 pm

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Antelokes couldn’t help but wince internally at the woman’s swelling ire for Artik. He couldn’t blame the woman—he didn’t intend to make himself a hypocrite as he had more than once found himself sharing her sentiments—but that kind of rising pressure was harmful without a means of careful release. Based on what little he could feel of her emotions, Shiress did not seem particularly interested in prudent measured releases of pressure at the moment.

It’s this whole town, he thought to himself. With these curses driving everyone to the edge it could blow any day now. Every animal instinct in his body told Antelokes that he should make sure he got as far away from Syka as was humanly possible before that day of inevitable release came. That urge was curbed though by his higher and more foolish faculties. Things like duty, honor, and perhaps even the hint of ambition. They bound him here more surely than any chains would have. Antelokes would ride out this storm, long though the fight may be.

The young blacksmith’s eyes widened a little as Shiress erupted into a peal of curses, clutching her hands. Maybe the woman had spent time around sailors at some point in her life, because she seemed to have picked up a few choice expressions from them, some strong enough to curdle milk.

Antelokes spared a glance for Artik, and the Svefra seemed a little surprised as well at the vehement language coming from the injured doctor. He hoped the older smith would catch on to the fact that this was not a bear he should keep prodding. Not if he didn’t want to get mauled.

When Shiress apologized to him, Antelokes dipped his head.

“Don’t fear to bring your troubles to me. Few are they that can bear burdens like yours alone I imagine, and you shouldn’t have to try. I may not know how to help, but I am willing.” Antelokes liked Shiress, and he would rather not see the knot of pent up distress inside her tear the good doctor apart.

When she hugged him, the blacksmith tensed. It had been quite some time since somebody had hugged him. Tentatively he returned the gesture, unsure of himself.

When Shiress stepped back, he did his best to offer a smile.

“A Syka free of curses is something I would like to see, and a sight I look forward to. May we each survive to see that day with our sanities intact,” he said.

When the physician turned her attention to the apparatus they had designed he leapt into motion, eager for something he knew how to handle. He began to bundle the rods together in a cloth. As he did so he inspected them for warps or other weaknesses. It would not do for Shiress to perform such a delicate operation only for the equipment to fail as soon as the child started to walk on it.

He heard her address Artik, and Antelokes glanced up, fearing the worst. He nearly breathed a sigh of relief when she offered to help him, instead of doing whatever dark things many people succumbed and said when they experienced the kind of rage Antelokes had sensed from Shiress through his mark.

For his part, Artik looked dumbfounded, his eyes flitting between his flask and the doctor. Antelokes met Shiress’ eyes as she left, nodding at her. Once she was out of earshot, Artik let out a deep grunt.

“Quite the esteemed company you keep when I’m not around, lad.”

“You were around,” Antelokes retorted. “You just seemed to prefer the company of your own dreams to mine and hers.” Artik rolled his eyes and took another drink.

“My dreams insult me less than she does.”

“Imagine that,” Antelokes said dryly, before adding, “You know, she probably meant what she said about helping you.” Artik frowned.

“I don’t need help,” he said. Antelokes shrugged.

“Maybe. Maybe not. I believe she meant what she said though.” At this, Artik grumbled noncommittally. Instead he wandered over to the workbench, picking up and examining the rods. The younger smith walked up beside him.

“This your work?” Artik asked.

“Yes, it is.”

“You said it was to help a kid?”

“Yes, it is.” Artik grunted, setting the piece back down.” Antelokes raised an eyebrow.

“Is there something wrong with it? Think they’ll break?” he asked

“They seem like they’ll hold up fine, they’re just ugly as petch,” Artik said, walking away on unsteady feet that seemed far from sober. Antelokes rolled his eyes, but inwardly smiled. Function over form. Maybe Shiress’ crazy idea could work after all.
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