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 March 30th, 2022, 9:44 pm

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Shiress sat across from a wooden table, legs crossed, chin on fist, frowning, her gaze trained on the small figure taking up less than half of the surface of the table, his little fists balled tightly at his sides. Even as the boy slept, the pain his small body endured was evident.

Noah was the boy's name, and he had been rushed to Shiress, screaming inconsolably and flailing in the arms of Mistress Hess. The woman had been beside herself as she explained that the ten summers old, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy had been climbing a tree and had gone too high. Noah had fallen before Mistress Hess could reach him. The boy's leg had shattered.

Shiress had given Noah something for the pain straight away, something relatively strong, and while the boy slept fitfully, she had examed him thoroughly. Aside from a gash across his cheek, two broken fingers, and a badly bruised hip, the leg was far worse and the most concerning. From what Shiress could discern from a visual exam and palpating, both bones below Noah's knee were broken, the larger of the two in more than one place and badly dislocated.

Thankfully, the bone fragments hadn't punctured the boy's skin, but if Shiress's adept assessment was accurate, at least one of the two fragments of bone was, itself, splintered. With that many pieces to realign and keep in place, Noah's prognosis of ever walking normally again was grim, even if, by some miracle, the bones actually knitted themselves back together. There could literally be a dozen or more tiny pieces of bone with splintering, and there was just no way to stick all of them back together. Unfortunately, Shiress felt as though she lacked the skill needed to successfully attempt such a bold undertaking, and that lack of talent could snuff out the boy's life in an instant. Shiress was just not willing to take that risk.

Amputating Noah's leg at the knee was the only way Shiress felt would ensure the boy had the best shot at surviving this, but to take his leg at such a young age...

The thought alone caused Shiress's heart hurt for the little boy.

The doctor's emerald gaze studied Noah, his pinked cheeks, his clenched fists, the fitful way he rested as he lay on the table. Even the table seemed wounded under the burden of a child in pain. Narrowing her eyes, Shiress's gaze focused on one of the legs of the table. A leg that had been broken but repaired. She took in how the carpenter had hammered on another, more substantial piece of wood instead of replacing the splintered leg in its entirety. The craftsman had removed the broken part and, in its place, had nailed in a better, stronger...Shiress's eyes flew wide. Jumping to her feet, the doctor closed the distance between her and the exam table and knelt, looking closer at the repair, an idea beginning to form.

If this was to work, she would need something strong, durable, endurable, and...clean. Straightening, Shiress spun on her heel, calling out to a nearby nurse.

"I need to step away for a few chimes. Can you keep an eye on the boy until I return?"

The nurse nodded, already making her way to Noah's side when Shiress paused, looking over her shoulder.

"Is there a blacksmith or metalsmith nearby?"

The nurse, Lily, Shiress thought her name was, frowned but answered, "Yes, a blacksmith at The Communal Forge" she replied, then commenced to give very animated directions. Shiress listened, nodded, then slung her bag over a shoulder and swept from the hut. She found the forge quickly enough and passed beneath its roof and into the shade, only pausing briefly to stare at the giant of a man slumped across a chair, flask in hand. The blonde man let out a snore, and Shiress shook her head.

The forge was hot, hotter than the sun she had just sought refuge from. Sweat broke out across Shiress's forehead as her gaze roamed the area, smiling when it landed on the tall, dark-haired man with eyes as green as her own. She immediately recognized him from the Tenday gathering.

"Hello, I'm Shiress." she called, stepping closer once the young man acknowledged her, hand outstretched, "I'm a doctor, the new doctor, I guess you could say, and I was wondering," green eyes roamed the forge again, before returning to the blacksmith, "could you possibly make a metal bone for me?"




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Last edited by Shiress on June 30th, 2022, 5:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 1st, 2022, 12:35 am


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Antelokes chatted amicably with the people in the community kitchens as he replaced some broken pans. A few of the older ones had developed cracks, and he’d thought it was about time for some repair work. He made the rounds and checked for any more egregiously damaged equipment, but everything looked to be in order.

He left, waving goodbye and laughing politely at a joke. He blinked and rubbed at his dry eyes as he walked away. Today the visions had invaded his dreams, and he hadn’t gotten much sleep that night. Either that or he’d simply had a normal nightmare and could still expect another vision sometime today. He hoped his own mind wouldn’t double down on him that way, but he wasn’t sure he could trust it too far anymore.

Antelokes picked his way back toward the forge, sticking to the well-trodden paths. He didn’t care to take the chance of stepping on a snake or any of the other myriad critters that crawled along the jungle floor. Too many of them had the nasty tendency to bite when they were stepped on.

Just as he returned he caught sight of a long-haired woman at the forge, glancing around over Artik’s sleeping form.

“Ho there!” he called out in greeting, stepping up to the woman and shaking her hand. He nodded as she introduced herself. A doctor then. He thought he had seen her tending to the little scrapes and other injuries the children had gotten aboard the Veronica on the way in.
This Shiress bore an array of scars that could set a grizzled soldier to shame. He tried not to stare. Life could be rough, and a lot of folks didn’t like to be reminded of the harsher bits from their past. If you lived through the pain once you usually weren’t too keen on doing it again.

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Antelokes, I’m the blacksmith. Well—one of them anyway,” he gestured to a snoring Artik, “and I think I’m just as new as you are.” When he heard her question he frowned.

“A metal bone?” he asked. Antelokes wasn’t aware of any kind of tool or other implement that she could be referring to. She was a doctor, so maybe she was talking about a literal bone. He had never heard of any such thing, but then again he was no healer.

“I can’t say that’s something I’ve made before, but let’s see what we can do,” he said. He beckoned Shiress towards one of the larger workbenches and cleared a few unfinished projects and piles of scrap from its surface. He then started rifling through tool racks and storage containers, gathering items as he went.

“Tell me, what do you mean by metal bone? Do you want a piece of metal that looks like a bone? A metal bone to replace a normal bone? A piece of metal for a bone you don’t have but think you should?” Antelokes shrugged. “Forgive the questions, but medicine isn’t really my thing.”

He’d gathered quite the pile of tools and craps by now and he held them tucked under one arm. He brought them to the recently cleared workbench and laid them out across it.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for… but I guess you could call these ‘samples,’ or as close as anything I’ll be able to show you anyway.” Antelokes had pulled out a few different steel forge tools, some rods of iron, and even a small array of other metals that the forge kept in supply.

“What is your ‘metal bone’ going to have to do? Nothing made of metal behaves exactly like bones do, but if you’ve got a specific job in mind we might be able to get that done.”



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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on April 3rd, 2022, 8:55 pm

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Shiress let the tips of her fingers run along the surface of the rounded iron rod, oddly bereft of answers. The blacksmith's questions had made the doctor second guess herself, making Shiress wonder if the idea of a metal substitute for the bone in Noah's leg had deflated long before she had made it to Antelokes.

Shiress shook her head. "No, no. You asked good questions. It's just...I suddenly lost the answers." she chuckled, lifting a hand to rub at her forehead, suddenly at a loss and so tired. It was hard to get any amount of sleep when one had a violent ghost stalking and attacking them.

Letting her hand fall back to the table -unknowingly leaving a dark smudge behind- Shiress sighed, settling her gaze on the array of implements the blacksmith had brought to the table, studying them one by one. After a chime or two, she lifted her eyes to Antelokes, letting her gaze linger on the man's green eyes a tick before finally speaking.

"A boy was brought to me today after falling from a tree." shifting her weight, Shiress propped a hip against the table, thinking of the proper words to use for someone who confessed to not having any medical experience, "The little boy, Noah is his name, has a badly broken leg." frowning, she realized she needed to better explain, "Just below your knee, there are two bones, a small one and a large one. When Noah fell, he broke the larger bone. He probably broke the smaller, too, but the bigger of the two concerns me because he broke it in more than one place, leaving the bone in at least three pieces. The likelihood of me being able to match these pieces up well enough for Noah's leg to mend on its own is well...unlikely."

Shiress's eyes lowered to the tabletop. "My only option is to cut off Noah's leg, above the break, and with him being only a little boy, I just...I need other options. I need something strong enough to stabilize the bones on either side and something stronger than a nail to hold these stabilizers in place."

The weary doctor drew in a breath, then let it out through pursed lips, stirring the fallen hair around her face. After a moment, she pulled the bag hanging on her back around and withdrew a piece of paper and a small pencil before shoving the bag back around her shoulder. Leaning over, Shiress did her best to draw a bone, broken in three places, with the pieces mishappened and misaligned, then slid the paper over the smooth surface to where the blacksmith could see.

"See how the bone here is in three pieces?" she asked, eyes flicking up to the blacksmith, then back down at the paper, "I can align these pieces," she pointed to the three pieces of bone, then drew another picture of a bone with the three pieces now aligned, adding three little zigzag lines to indicate where the break had been. "I need something very hard, very durable to go here and here," Shiress stabbed the sharp end of her pencil at one side of the newly aligned breaks, then the other. " and the not nails to hold it securely in place."

Silence descended as Shiress continued to study her drawings. There was defeat there when her eyes lifted, and tears swam beneath her lashes. Now that she had said it aloud and even with the amateur drawings, Shiress didn't think it was possible. Scrubbing a hand down her face -leaving behind even more smudges- Shiress turned away from Antelokes. After a tick, feeling in better control, she turned back, planting her hands on slender hips.

"Sorry, I'm..I'm very tired." she tried for a smile, failed, and shook her head instead. "The little boy is only ten summers, and if I take his leg..." Shiress groaned, eyes pleading when her gaze found Antelokes, "Do you think there is a way?" she asked, "Do you think there is a way that you and I can save this little boy's leg?"





Word Count - 729
Last edited by Shiress on May 12th, 2022, 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 4th, 2022, 11:54 pm


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So the metal bone was for a child… an injured child. A note of seriousness fell across Antelokes like a shroud as he met Shiress’ eyes. He could repair pans and tools, but human bodies were much more difficult to fix when broken. Still, this doctor knew what the problem was, and she knew what needed to happen for it to be solved. Now the scope of the issue was narrower. He might not know how to help the injured boy, but he could solve structural problems.

Through his gnosis mark Antelokes could sense the intense upwelling of Shiress’ distress. It felt like a rope that was drawn to tight and had begun to fray, straining to bear its heavy load. That would make things difficult. Even if this procedure was impossible the doctor needed to believe it could be done. Nobody performed their best when they didn’t think what they were doing would work. And for this Shiress needed to be at her best.

“Hey, this is going to work,” Antelokes said. “That kid is strong—he must be to have lived as an orphan long enough to get picked up to come here to Syka. If I know how kids are then I’d bet he’s already daydreaming about the next tree he’s going to climb, whether he has a leg or not. It’s not a smart thing to do, but I said he was strong, not smart. That makes it our job to be smart for him and make sure when he climbs that next tree he has two legs to do it with.”

Antelokes smiled, trying to exude more confidence than he really possessed, then examined the drawing of the bones. It did look serious.
He ran his calloused hands over the drawing, visualizing the angles and trying to imagine the points where stress would be greatest on whatever structure they built for the task.

“You’re right that nails won’t work. They bend, and once they get bent they stay bent until you bend them again, then they break. It works perfect for sticking pieces of wood together but isn’t ideal for broken legs.” Antelokes considered the drawing thoughtfully.

“In fact, I doubt anything with too much flex to it would work particularly well. If you want to keep the leg steady it should be rigid. Very rigid.” Antelokes frowned.

“Two rigid rods I can make without too much trouble,” he said. “The issue as you said is in connecting them.” It doesn’t matter how strong those rods are if they move in different directions.”

Antelokes cleared most of the scraps he had gathered off the workbench. He kept a few of the more promising subjects but laid them off to the side. Then, he took two small metal rods and placed them next to each other on the bench. They would work well enough for demonstration purposes. He put them on top of the drawing in a rough approximation of their theoretical contraption.

“The more places we can connect the two pieces, the stronger it will be. That way no single connection needs to support Noah’s whole weight.” Antelokes considered the pieces for a few more seconds. “We can support the two pieces by either going right through the leg or going around it with rings, or some kind of cage maybe. I assume going the whole way through would do more damage than it’s worth, but I’m not the doctor.” Antelokes glanced up at Shiress for confirmation.

As he did so he noticed once again how tired the woman looked. He remembered the stress she must be under. He was the blacksmith, but she was the doctor. She would automatically bear the brunt of responsibility for Noah’s wellbeing. That was a lot of weight for anyone under the best of circumstances, and with the craziness so many Sykans were experiencing, these were most certainly not the best of circumstances. She needed a vote of confidence, and maybe some indication that he could share some of her burden.

“Shiress,” he said, “this is doable. If the boy’s leg needs to be cut off then I’ll go chop it myself, but as long as all the pieces are there then I say we can put them back together—hopefully without replacing too many of those pieces with metal bits.” Antelokes winced a bit. Perhaps he could have said that with a little more grace.


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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on April 7th, 2022, 5:35 pm

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The blacksmith's optimism was contagious.

As if the doctor had spoken her thoughts aloud, Antelokes' words smoothed the jagged edges of worry scratching away at Shiress's mind, and she returned the young man's smile.

"You're right." Shiress said, scrubbing a hand down her face wearily, "And yes, Noah is strong and resilient, and such a sweet little boy." Shiress sighed, "I hate seeing him in such pain."

Shiress's gaze followed the blacksmith's back to her drawing and moved a step closer, studying the depiction alongside the taller man. After a moment, when Antelokes began clearing a space to work, Shiress's face screwed up in contemplation.

"Is there a way to make something similar to the same size of a nail, but longer and of a stronger metal?" Shiress was so far out of her element with this, she found herself waiting for Antelokes to laugh her right out of his forge.

"Think of it this is way," Shiress began, stretching out a hand and touching the man's arm lightly to draw his attention, "If you had a wooden table leg that was broken into three places, with no wood at hand to repair it, only the items you have here." Shiress indicated the gathered items with a hand sweep.

"First, you would need to align the broken pieces, then stabilize them, before stabilizing the entire leg, right?" Shiress's eyes narrowed, her gaze questioning as she watched the blacksmith,"If you don't, and go to move the table across the room, that leg is going to break apart, right?"

The doctor took in a long, agitated breath, stepped back, and turned away, hands going to her hips, "Argh! this is [I]not doable,"[/b] she moaned, contradicting Antelokes positive words. "I'm acting like I'm some divine healer and not just some..." Shiress sighed, shaking her head, "I don't know what I was thinking. I should just pay myself for the boy to see a marked healer."

After a selfish moment of berating herself, Shiress turned back toward the table where the smith stood, apologetic, "Sorry, I've...well, I haven't been sleeping very well lately, and I think it's getting to me." she confessed, then let her eyes drop, stilling herself, before plucking the two rods from the table, studying them.

Shiress gnawed at her bottom lip, thinking, then abruptly knelt by the table. Taking the two rods, she placed one on either side of the closest table leg and tilted her head slightly as she contemplated them.

"If you were to make a gage, as you said, to go around Noah's leg, then that would leave the middle all wiggly, right?" she asked, looking up briefly before dropping her eyes back to the table leg, "You would really need to bore...."

Shiress's face drained of color, and she wobbled, lost what little of the precarious balance she had kneeling in such a way, and tumbled backward onto her rear end. Shoulders slumping, the doctor lifted defeated eyes with a slight head shake.

"There's no way this would work." she said, sadly, "I'd have to bore a hole through the bone to connect the rods to Noah's leg to stabilize the break enough to immobilize it until it heals, and that could take...at least three fortnights, if not longer." gaze wandering, Shiress felt suddenly adrift, "I don't even have the proper tools." she added, though more to herself than to Antelokes, "Not to mention that I've never even done such a procedure before." she concluded, scrutinizing the long rods in her hands.




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Last edited by Shiress on May 12th, 2022, 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 10th, 2022, 5:19 am


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As the doctor turned away again in exasperation Antelokes took the moment to analyze the situation as she had described like a table leg. You couldn’t fix the leg by just stabilizing the break. The forces were too great and points of connection between different materials were always weak spots. They would need to place their supports well away from the break itself. That would help them avoid damaging bone itself any more than necessary.

As Shiress turned back and apologized Antelokes waved it off, though a knot of frustration had started to form in his chest.

“Lack of sleep could rob anyone of their wits, sleep deprivation isn’t a crime. If you are to be performing the surgery though, I suspect Noah might appreciate if you make sure you’re plenty alert before you take a knife to his leg.”

Antelokes crouched and examined the table leg as Shiress demonstrated her idea. She was right. Whatever device they built would be under near constant stress for a long period of time. Months, probably. Going around the leg wouldn’t work. Going through the bone would be difficult, and it would hurt. It might be necessary though. Antelokes hoped Noah would see it that way and have the determination to keep going. That boy already had to outrun Dira’s hounds as it was. Amputation or surgery, neither option was particularly safe.

At first as Shiress talked her voice carried with it a purposeful momentum. Antelokes thought he had begun to catch her vision for the device, then her tone fell again. When she collapsed back his heart sank. As she voiced her feelings of inadequacy, he realized words might not be enough to spur her into action. This woman obviously had skill and creativity, but she wasn’t disposed to use either to her full potential in her current state.

Antelokes needed to rile her up. Excitement would work. Duty would too, if she was inclined that way. Even anger forced the person experiencing it to action. It was unreliable and led to mistakes—so convincing Shiress to perform surgery out of pure rage was out of the question—but for the moment Antelokes just needed her up and moving. She was like a fire that had burned low and lost its heat, and that just wouldn’t do. He offered a silent prayer to Ivak that this would work.

“Get on your feet,” he said, letting an even-toned hardness creep into his normally gentle voice. “You aren’t the one with the broken leg, so there’s no reason you can’t stand. You’re that boy’s best hope of ever walking again. Act like it.” He then turned away from her and back to his tools. He had a pretty good idea of some of the components they would need. There was no sense in putting off the work of making them.

“The role of sitting on the floor and slacking is already occupied,” Antelokes continued, gesturing at the still-slumbering form of Artik. “This forge doesn’t have enough room for two people to do it. I also didn’t peg you for the type.” With that he turned back and stared her down, showing his frustration through his cold stare and praying she would rise to the challenge instead of shrinking back. After a moment he left her to digest those words and set about gathering the real materials this time. He placed a few ingots of metal into the forge, noting the use on a ledger next to the store box.

“Cold iron,” he offered as a word of explanation. “Much stronger than the normal stuff. If there’s anything in this forge capable of what we want, this will be it.” Antelokes started heaving at the bellows, straining to force as much air into the fire as possible. Forging temperature for cold iron was higher than most metals. After leaving Shiress to think for a minute as he worked he spoke again, fitting words in between heavy breaths as sweat beaded on his brow.

“If you’re finally ready to give that boy his fighting chance then tell me exactly what you need. I’ll make rods from the cold iron to go through the leg. Tell me how many you want. If you need new tools then figure out if we can make them here. If we can, I’ll do it. If we need to we could even buy them, or commandeer somebody’s carpentry tools. I imagine anything you could want to do to a bone has been done to wood before.”

Antelokes kept his voice level and firm, trying to remember how his father talked when he’d been frustrated with him as an apprentice. Shiress was older than him, and a specialist in her own field to boot, but Noah's leg couldn’t afford to wait for her to overcome her crisis.


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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on April 15th, 2022, 10:41 pm

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The authoritative, firm demand seemed to have come out of nowhere, causing the doctor to nearly jumped out of her skin. Shiress's wide, startled eyes swung toward Antelokes, and her mouth fell open at the severe way the blacksmith was regarding her, then snapped shut with a grinding of molars once the man's words registered. Was there not a living, breathing soul in Syka that wasn't condescending and rude?

Lips pressing into a thin line, Shiress laid the rods on the table and slowly, deliberately came to her feet, crossed her arms over her chest, and narrowed her eyes, glaring indignant daggers at Antelokes back, until the man shut his mouth and finally turned to face her, then popped a challenging eyebrow at his icy glare. The doctor and blacksmith silently glowered at one another, Shiress affronted, Antelokes daring.

"First of all," Shiress said as soon as Antelokes' attention diverted to the forge, her tone level if a bit chilly, "I wasn't slacking. I just lost my balance and...sat down." Taking a step closer, she craned her neck, watching him with curiosity, despite herself.

" Second," she continued, inching ever closer, gaze riveted on the blacksmith and his forge, " I know that I am Noah's best hope, and that is precisely why it worries me that my hands may not have the ability my mind thinks they do."

Unfolding her arms, Shiress irritably planted hands on her hips, giving her head a slight tilt. "And exactly what type do you peg me for?" she asked but soon lost all pretense of ignoring the goings-on at the furnace.

Stepping up next to Antelokes, but far enough away as not to be underfoot, the doctor briefly wondered why it was called "cold" iron. She watched Antelokes go at the bellows in an obvious and sweaty attempt to make the metal hot.

"I think what I'm going to do is," Shiress began, flicking the man a disgruntled sideways glance at the little dig he got in, "try and keep as many foreign things on the outside of the skin as possible." she paused, thinking, eyes sliding to the two iron rods she had laid on the table. When she spoke, it was more to herself than to the smith, "I will have to make an incision from ankle to knee to make sure I align the bones correctly. I'll need to ensure that I remove any bone debris that can't be salvaged, or this will all be for naught when he loses his leg anyway from infection."

The doctor turned from the heat and strolled back toward the table, biting her bottom lip as she vacantly studied the rods, lost in thought.

" I align the rods vertically on the outside, stabilize them by placing smaller ones through intact bone, then it would take weeks for the break to mend, rather than a season, maybe longer, if I place them on the outside."

Lips pursing, she turned back toward Antelokes, "I'll need six, three for either side. Actually, make that eight in case I lose one or can't use it. They'll need to be about this long," lifting her hands, she pressed her palms together then spread them out about eight or so inches apart, a little longer than the width she thought Noah's leg was, "They'll need to be thin, very thin, thinner than a nail, but sturdy. It could crack the bone if they are too big when they go in."

Letting out a long, tired sigh, Shiress shuffled across the floor to the closest chair and lowered herself into it, scrubbing both hands up her face before sifting her fingers through her lengthy hair, somehow managing to make the mess of locks messier still. Hands falling back to her lap, the weary doctor leaned over, resting her forearms across her knees, and glanced over at the snoring blonde man.

"Is he okay?" she asked, gaze perusing the prone figure until satisfied the man was breathing, though the loud snort he let out a moment later was a better indicator that he did, in fact, live.

After another moment of silence passed in silence, Antelokes working away and shiress very nearly passing out in the chair, she decided to give the smith an explanation of why she looked as she did, bruised and tired beyond death.

"I guess you've heard about the curses," she said, keeping her eyes lowered, "you have your own to deal with, no doubt. I have a ghost," she paused, running a fingertip along the healing line of stitches on the inside of her arm, "It physically attacks me, hurts me." she cleared her throat, looking a bit pained, "Only at night, though." she added, then explained, "It only attacks me at night, though I've seen it during the day, too, but it only hurts me at night."

Shiress didn't know why she told the young smith this next part, maybe it was just to say it, or perhaps it was just so someone else other than Shade knew.

"I used to be a slave, but I escaped and later killed my master."

Swallowing, Shiress glanced up, "The ghost is my master." she was quiet a tick, then added "Now maybe you can understand why I haven't been sleeping very well."


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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 18th, 2022, 12:11 am

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Antelokes tried to obscure his smile as Shiress spat her retort at him. He’d been worried that the surge of extra pressure would break her—making progress basically impossible. His suspicion had been right though. Shiress was made of stronger stuff than that. He eyed the coals appraisingly, trying to judge if they were hot enough.

“The type you give me the impression of,” Antelokes replied to Shiress’ question, “is a survivor.” He didn’t elaborate. If she needed flattery later to nurture her confidence then the appropriate time for that would come. For now though she seemed capable of showing some initiative. He didn’t want to ruin that delicate balance.

Antelokes listened closely to Shiress’ analysis and explanation of her plan. He was impressed. For all her nervousness she was quite intelligent. When she demonstrated the length she would need for the stabilizers he marked it down quickly onto a piece of leather with a charcoal pencil so he could compare his pieces to it and match the size.

“I can make them thin. Cold iron is rarer than normal iron and harder to work, but it has a higher tensile strength. It won’t bend, and it can sustain a lot more force before it breaks. “ Antelokes scratched the back of his head, considering the plan. “They aren’t magic mind you, but three rows of them should get the job done.”

Satisfied with the warm hue the hot metal had taken on, Antelokes removed the first piece with a set of tongs and brought it to the anvil. He started to hammer it out to the right thickness, frequently turning it to make sure it stayed even. He noticed the doctor go sit down, but didn’t comment. She had given him a good blueprint and done her part for now. Rest might be helpful anyways. Eventually, Shiress asked about Artik.

“I’m not sure how to answer that,” he said. “Artik drinks enough alcohol to kill a whale, but he’s been at it for a long time it hasn’t taken him down yet.” Antelokes sighed. “I don’t think he’s really okay, but I’m not sure how to help him. The problem isn’t quite as easy to spot as a broken leg is.”

He kept working, letting Shiress gather her strength as he prepared the supports. The metal was hard to work. Even at very high temperatures and low volumes it took some effort to shape. The very stiffness that made it ideal for the job at hand made it a nightmare to manipulate. With time though, he was able to complete one part after another, setting them next to each other on the workbench for Shiress to inspect once she got the energy.

The sharp notes of the hammer’s strikes rang out through the forge and rolled into the wider settlement like a heartbeat. This felt natural to Antelokes. The clear peals of metal on metal were music to him, and he quickly fell into a steady rhythm. Like this, he didn’t have to worry about visons, or the jungle, or anything. He could clear his mind until all that existed was just him, his tools, and the task at hand… It was as peaceful as life could get.

Fully enveloped in the act of creation—Antelokes was startled by Shiress’ statement. He listened carefully as she described her curse. A ghost. Antelokes’ eyes darted about warily. He didn’t much like the idea of ghosts. He didn’t know what to say.

“I’m sorry,” he said finally, voice unsure. “For the ghost, the slavery, well, all of it I suppose.” That did explain much of Shiress’ behavior. To be faced with the spectre of such a source of one’s suffering… nobody deserved that.

He could relate, some. His visions had shown him things from his past as well, though twisted and corrupt. It was not pleasant. His visions couldn’t hurt him though. This worried Antelokes.

“If I could help, I would,” he said, genuine. “For that matter if you can think of any way I can help, say the word.” Antelokes began work on the last of the supports.

“Presuming to be the tyrant of another person like that… slavery… well if I were in control than he would be the one suffering, not you.” Antelokes said. Then, he smiled, trying to lighten the mood and give Shiress some courage. “Though you must have given him a fair show of that yourself, eh? You sent him right to Dira, and that miserable bastard had nothing better to do with his afterlife than come back to you to pretend he still has power.”

Antelokes met Shiress’ eyes, earnest.

“You beat him once Shiress. You are a survivor. Now you just have to prove it by showing that mongrel slavemaster his place for the second time.” Antelokes punctuated his word with a sharp strike from his hammer, sending a small cascade of sparks into the air.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Shiress on April 25th, 2022, 6:06 pm

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Shiress said nothing in reply to Antelokes' stated impression of her. The word 'survivor' was hard for the ex-slave to relate to herself; Shiress didn't feel like she had survived anything, not when the effects of her time in chains still haunted her thoughts and marked her body. Shiress had escaped, not survived, and somehow that made sense in her mind, even when she was sure no one else understood.

Thankfully, however, Antelokes didn't augment his statement, thus keeping the doctor's natural reaction to argue the undeserved sentiment subdued.

"No magic needed," she replied, listening as the smith explained a few properties of cold iron, "just skilled hands, and I have faith in yours, blacksmith," her lips twitched, but her gaze diverted back to Artik as her inquiry about the passed out man was given a reply.

"There were a lot of those types in Zeltiva, where I grew up. Sailors mostly," Shiress canted her head to the side, giving the blonde man a pitying look, "Oftentimes, where there's one drunk, there's another in their family. I've heard the stories of some that have sent them to the bottle. Some just have a sick mind that seeks out some sort of comfort that they find in alcohol," she shrugged, standing, and added as she crossed the floor, "I've seen some dry out, with the help of friends who make themselves accountable for the one struggling when they fail to; cleaning out stores of liquor and listening when the need bears down."

Standing beside the taller man, Shiress studied the finished metal before lowering her hand to use a fingertip to roll one back and forth. Then immediately jerked her hand away with a hiss, popped the singed digit into her mouth, and shot Antelokes a glare meant to deter the incredulous one he was surely about to give her.

Strolling away slowly, Shiress left the smith to do his work in peace while she wandered around the forge restlessly. The doctor briefly eyed a strange assortment of tools hanging haphazardly along one wall, then turned, leaning her back against the sturdy partition, and contemplated the blacksmith through her lashes, taking in his tall, wiry frame, his mop of tawny hair, how rogue curls lay across his forehead just above thick brows, and forest green eyes. There was no doubt that Antelokes was a very beautiful young man, but it wasn't his beauty -okay, not just his beauty- that had gained the doctor's admiration. No, it was the subtle and gentle conviction with which the man spoke and the astute way his words could slip past defenses and warped self-regard to change one's own perception, if only momentarily. Shiress gave the kind man a private smile.

"Thank you, Antelokes," she said, "that was a hard time in my life, but you're right. I will defeat him again, as will all of Syka beat these cures." she shook her head, "It's hard for me to think of myself as a survivor, though, and not just a freed slave." she shrugged, "I'm working on it, though."

Shiress heard the ghost's voice before she saw it.

"Oh, but you've not survived...yet, have you slave." Jordan's disembodied voice cackled an instant before his ghostly body appeared and bent forward. Before Shiress could react, an icy tongue slipped out from between pale lips and snaked across her lips. Shiress's jerked her face away with a sharp breath and slapped a hand across her mouth, fighting a gag.

She didn't see Jorden's ghost straighten and turn toward the forge, his spectral body pulsing once, twice, before materializing long enough to meet the smith's green-eyed gaze with his milky eyes. The ghost stretched his pale, blood-stained lips into the semblance of a smile, pointedly removing the remnants of a dagger from his unmoving chest with a spray of dark spectral blood. Rearing back, the dead man heaved the weapon toward Antelokes, but the phantom blade vanished along with its wielder even before the man could blink.

One thing was clear; the ghost's gesture had been a threat.



Word Count - 709
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Last edited by Shiress on May 12th, 2022, 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Minds, One Task [Antelokes]

Postby Antelokes on April 27th, 2022, 8:17 am

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Antelokes spared a brief glance for Artik, considering the doctor’s words about drunkenness. They gave him pause. He had thus far counted the older smith’s behavior as an extreme case of laziness, and as a result his regard for the man had taken a nosedive. If it was some sort of ailment though as Shiress suggested... well then maybe he could muster some sympathy.

“I am no stranger to sickness of the mind,” he said slowly, words guarded. “My father was afflicted by something of that sort towards the end of his life. There was nothing I could do for him. If what affects Artik is truly something treatable, then I would lend my efforts to the project.” Antelokes sighed. “At the end of the day though Artik is his own man. His decisions are his own, and he’s stubborn as a mule. If you want him to change, he’ll have to want it too.”

Antelokes kept working, letting Shiress explore the forge. There were plenty of potentially dangerous implements here, but Shiress was a doctor. She worked with very sharp knives on a regular basis. He trusted her to handle herself and be careful. After some time he felt her gaze on him. He kept himself focused on his work, taking a break to work the bellows for a few chimes. One of the supports had developed a warp, and he wanted the forge hot enough to shape it again.

When he finished at the bellows, Antelokes turned to retrieve the rod. He was instead met face to face by an ugly corpse-like visage. With a brief flash of motion, it disappeared. Chills ran along his limbs. Had that been a manifestation of his visions? He glanced at Shiress and met her horrified eyes, her hand clasped across her mouth. She had obviously seen something as well. Not his visions then. Her ghost. Warily, Antelokes’ hand found its way to a hammer, grasping it tightly. He wasn’t sure what good it would do, but its substantial weight was reassuring. He knew little about ghosts, but they made him uneasy.

“Was that what I think it was?” he asked in a low voice. His eyes darted from side to side, but he saw nothing else. After a few tense moments he straightened, letting his hammer arm fall loosely at his side. He met Shiress’ eyes, seeing her fear and connecting it to her ragged appearance. Living in constant torment had real repercussions. Shiress didn’t just look frail of body, she seemed thin of spirit. Like too little butter stretched over too much bread. He silently cursed.

No wonder the doctor had trouble maintaining confidence and focus. She was constantly being driven to the edge of her nerves. Antelokes cast his mind around for ways to help her, but came up empty. His best bet was to remind her of their purpose, perhaps that would keep her mind off her curse as much as possible.

“We continue,” Antelokes said, firm. “That boy’s leg is still broken. It’s still our job to fix it.” Swapping the hammer for some tongs (he doubted the blunt instrument would be effective against invisible specters anyways) he picked up the warped rod and placed it back in the forge. As he worked, he heard Shiress approach him from the rear. He paid little mind as he bent close to the forge’s coals, trying to read their heat from their color.

A sharp jolt of force struck Antelokes from behind, feeling for all the world as if Shiress had thrown her body at his, knocking him off his feet. The blacksmith tumbled forward into the forge, just barely stopping himself from burying his face in the embers by bracing his hands against the rough brick of the back wall. He could feel the searing heat of the coals, and flames licked up around him. The cloth of his shirt—bone dry from the near constant proximity to the forge it had maintained for hours—quickly caught fire with its newfound proximity to the blazing-hot coals. His gnosis mark kept the flames from burning him, but if another were in his position they would not be likely to escape unscathed.
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