What was lost (Shade)

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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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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Cleon on April 17th, 2022, 4:28 am

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50th of Spring, 522 A.V. (Afternoon)

It had been a total disaster. The fifth tenday which had held so much promise this morning was ruined. They had been on the verge of being well on their way to solving this mystery with the curses, only to have all of their progress yanked out from under them in an instant. An one dead old lady later, they were sitting back at square one.

What made it worse was Cleon had dared to hope that things were actually going to be alright now that they had a way of uncovering who was responsible for all of this. Having that hoped dashed hurt more than he ever could have believed, so perhaps that was why he sought out a measure of solitude out by Kihala’s Shrine once Hess’ pyre had run its course. That or perhaps he wanted to be surrounded by abundant life after so close a brush with death. That knife could have just as easily been meant for him had the enemy known of the letter a little sooner.

There wasn’t much to do out besides the shrine aside from think, and thinking was what he did. Reiterating over and over again what had occurred this morning, wondering all the while what he could have done differently and playing it back in his head in a multitude of ways. Of course he blamed himself. How could he not after what had happened? If he had only been a little more through with the letter, perhaps discussed it privately with the founders first, maybe then Hess would still be alive. Instead, he went in half-cocked like a fool, and played right into the enemies hands.

PETCH!

Cleon buried his face in his hands briefly before slapping his thigh. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! How could he not have seen that earlier? When was he going to get it through his thick skull that this wasn’t the old days? He’d had a real responsibility to the people here and he’d promptly blew it. Everything his parents had ever said about him was true, and maybe it would have been better if he had been the one to sell himself into slavery and Farren the one to come over here. An the more he thought about it that way, the more it made sense to him. Cleon was honestly disgusted with himself, and chewing frantically on his pinky nail he started to pace around the garden for want of something to do with his legs.

Past the fish ponds, past the well with the ladle he could remember drinking from one upon a time. On until he reached a spot where he saw several offerings had been made from the various denizens of Syka he assumed. It had been a while since he had last been here, and for that Cleon felt a little guilty as he’d honestly meant to visit here more often to make his offerings. Things just came up, like they always seemed to do, and he’d put it off until almost unexpectedly he found himself in front of this spot once more.

Trembling he sank down to his knees in front of the spot where a large stone bust of the goddess had been made come alive with greenery. Bowing his head slightly, he thought about how he had given everything he had to help solve this curse only to still come up lacking. Frustrated, he wiped at his eyes with the back of his hands before he focused on the shrine before him. He still had his pack with him from earlier, and from it now he produced a what remained of his pipeweed which he placed in a bowl someone had left by the shrine. Then grabbing a piece of flint and steel along with a pinch of tinder that he added to the pile of pipeweed, he started striking the steel.

A few sprays of sparks later, the pipeweed caught fire, filling the air with a mixture of Blue vision and Sylirian tobacco that heavily favored the later.

“I know its not much, but its all I got left. I promise you Kihala that I will not smoke, or drink, or fuck, or gamble again until these curses are solved, you have my solemn word on this. Also give me a day, and I’ll try to bring you something more appealing than smoke.” Cleon said softly before standing up from where he knelt before the shrine, and turning back towards the great tree whoms shade he decided to seek out just then.

It was scarcely a few chimes later that he started to hear someone approach or a maybe a pair, it was hard to tell but it was definitely someone and they were within a few paces. Cleon turned to greet them.

“Hello there, I..” His tongue froze as he laid eyes on a face he vaguely recognized.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Shade on April 17th, 2022, 5:00 pm

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“She’s not going to hold you to that promise, you know.” Shade said thoughtfully, walking up to the Shrine himself, a small boy walking with him holding his hand. The Monk obviously had good hearing, but it couldn’t possibly be that good could it? The man gestured at the gracefully dipping palms, teased by the breeze. “Zulrav’s zeyphers brought your words right to us.” He said, leaning over to pick the toddler up gracefully and rest him on one hip.

Shade was barefoot, wearing a pair of light cream isuas pants, and nothing else. Syka was bloody hot to the Nykan who had just exited his city from winter and the coldest of cold springs. He wasn’t sure how he was going to fair when true summer hit the jungle. But he was trying to adapt as best he could as fast as he could. The boy reached out and was playing with several long tags and tokens Shade had hanging from his chest by a silver chain.

“I was just taking this little man here for a walk. Want some company?” He asked, walking up to Cleon. “I’m Shadekas. Everyone calls me Shade though.” He said, wiping a sticky palm on his pale pants and reaching out to offer the man his hand to shake. He glanced around, noting the shrine and nodded. “We thought we’d walk down to see the lady with the flowers for hair.” He said softly. Then he sat down on the edge of the fountain and gave Cleon an appraising look. “This tenday hasn’t been an easy one. I feel bad the Headmistress died. Someone was sending us a message, weren’t they?” He said with a furrowed brow.

“I haven’t been here long. We both arrived on the same boat. What do you think of Syka so far?” He asked, curious.

Then after another big pause, perhaps time for Cleon to answer, he continued onward with his thoughts. “I feel like I was drawn here deliberately. I was actually roped into it by a friend I owed my life too. He called in a favor from me after someone called in a favor to him. He repaid his favor by calling in mine so I’m twice removed from this situation and shouldn’t be involved in it at all. This Settlement is in real trouble. I’ve had days and days to think it through, in about seventeen different languages. Every day I wake up knowing a new one, and every day I forget all the other languages I knew. And after the first day with Shiress… who by the way drives me crazy and has made me her full time babysitter while she runs around doing The Gods know what…. I was ready to throw in the towel. I told myself this isn’t for me. But the truth is… I’d rather be nowhere else. I’ve finally by blind dumb luck stumbled upon a place that’s worth making better. I thought I could make Nyka a better place by making peace between the factions of monks. But I couldn’t do that. And at the heart of it Nyka wasn’t worth it anyhow. But this place… this place is worth all our efforts. I look at people and the more I learn about them, each one here is powerful in their own right.” He added, his blue eyes narrowing slightly.

“The people here are worth it. Do you see it? Even you and your sister are worth it. You just made a promise that you won’t smoke, drink, fuck or gamble again until the curse is removed. But that’s not really what you were promising Her, Cleon. You were promising her that you are going to actively start to be a better person. That suddenly, you want to invest in your future and in your sister’s life actively. Don’t you think she understand that? She’s the Goddess of Life. She wants you to LIVE, not stand on the shores of a river and watch the water flow by. She wants you to BE the river, man.” The monk said with a grin.

“Can you imagine if we all decided to be the river? We’d be floodwaters against whatever or whomever is causing this situation and we’d wipe them from the face of the world.” He added with a low respectful and yet hopeful voice. Then he reached down and snatched the boy’s hand out of the water where he was grasping for the colorful fish. He wasn’t quite sure if he was saving a fish or saving the boys fingers. Things were strange and beautiful in Syka and one never knew.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Cleon on April 19th, 2022, 7:50 pm

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He wasn’t sure what he was more surprised by. Shade having overheard his prayer, the toddler he brought with him or the fact he was speaking common. Cleon hadn’t actually known the man could speak common because of his curse, which was problematic because he seemed to be the most level headed of all the Sykan’s he’d seen take the stage at the first tenday. Well there was that other man, the one who compulsively hugged people who seemed to be alright, but Cleon hadn’t gotten to know him yet for obvious reasons.

“Hello there Shade, no I wouldn’t mind. Company is fine on a day such as this. I go by Cleon by the way.” Cleon said, shaking the man’s hand as he looked between Shade and the toddler. “An who’s this little man, one of the children from the pavilion?” He asked as waved at the boy, giving a brief smile before his eyes moved back to Shade. Fleetingly, Cleon envied the man’s comfort and the way he carried himself. The man obviously had no problem dressing however he wanted while Cleon still clung to the need to wear his old manner of dress, even though his body had filled out considerably over the course of this season. However his dress wasn’t exactly suitable for this sort of weather, and even though he had better options back at home, still it was easier most days to not get into a mental fight over it, and just wear what he was used to. That being the faded grey shirt and trousers he came in with, with his shirt sleeves rolled up to his shoulders. The clothes ran a shade darker gray where the sweat collected, mainly around his neck and armpits, and along the small of his back. Across his exposed left forearm swirled little waves, his gnosis mark having long since crawled out from where it had been hidden under his clothes.

Cleon found Shade’s grip almost reassuring as their minds turned towards the latest problem to crop up in Syka. “I think so, but I’m still wondering why they feel the need to. Why they went with curses that attracted attention from the start, unless attention is their goal. Perhaps then the message isn’t meant for us necessarily, but a higher power. I don’t know, its a lot more complicated than I initially gave it credit for that’s for sure.” Cleon said taking in a deep breath before continuing.

“Anyways aside from navigating the chaotic nature of these curses, Syka has been almost good to me you could say, despite all of the aforementioned baggage. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m beginning to see my place in all of this.” Cleon said, gesturing vaguely before grinning, although that expression softened somewhat as he remembered what had brought along this conversation. “I’m sad Hess died for this. I.. There are ways I could have improved how the information got out, and next time, if there is a next one, I’m not going to put someone in that position again if I can help it. I just hope the children are okay. Thank the gods that they haven’t had to suffer any of these curses, but its petched up that they had to witness what happened this morning.” Cleon said gritting his teeth as he picked at his thumb nail.

Although he didn’t know where Nyka was or what kind of city it claimed to be, he didn’t really need to in order to understand the gist of what Shade was telling him right then. He could relate to his words as the trading of favors was something Cleon felt was universal, as was feeling called to do something, at least in Cleon’s experience, shallow as that might be. In his few short years, he liked to think he had done a lot of living until venturing out into the jungle disabused him of that notion, and made him realize just how young he still was.

Something about his words deeply resonated within him, and it wasn’t hard to make the leap between what he had said earlier, and what Shade was saying now. It made sense in light of everything that had been happening to him over the course of the season while he balanced between fighting his own problems while making sure they were suitably provided for. It wasn’t something that had just spontaneously happened, but a choice that had been building within him, till the spark of Hess’s murder set it off.

“We will wipe them off the face of this world, and we will find them before this season is up, I just know it in my bones. I realize it doesn’t really matter that we don’t know why they are doing all of this, we know that they are doing it, and we have an idea about how to track them. They’ve got to be anxious about that, maybe anxious enough to make mistakes and when they do, that is when we’ll catch them red handed.” Cleon said as he turned slightly to watch Shade pull the boy away from grasping the fish. “To make Syka safer for them if anything else.”

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Shade on April 20th, 2022, 12:54 am

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“This little guy is Ian. He’s Shiress’ son. I don’t know who his father is. She and Ian came to Syka alone together.” He paused, then his smile quirked as if his own words amused him. He reached up, rubbed his jawline, and then scratched a bare shoulder. Something had obviously bit him, probably in the last two seconds. Shade wasn’t used to the bugs.

The Monk nodded his thanks for Cleon’s gracious acceptance of some company. He was frankly tired of women and their dramatics. It was part of the reason he’d taken Ian and wandered off. It didn’t set well with him that Shiress’ mother was abused nightly by a specter he could only sometimes see. And there was little he was able to do about it. At least he’d kept Ian safe, often taking the boy with him for no other reason than he understood what it was like to be a boy without a father and in need of being sheltered. That much he could do for Shiress, even if he couldn’t help her with her haunting.

Ian smiled at Cleon shyly. “ello.” He said softly, then ducked his head into Shade’s side where he was perched on his hip.

“Don’t worry, it took four days for me to even see his face. He’s a shy little thing. But once he thinks he knows you, he is a holy terror.” Shadekas said, furrowing his brow. “Children look so sweet and innocent, yet they are really forces of nature.” He admitted, then nodded to Cleon’s introduction.

“Nice to meet you, Cleon.” He said, and they continued their discussion. Shade put Ian down to let the boy wander, keeping a sharp eye on him for someone had mentioned once getting bitten by an eyelash viper at this very same spot. “Don’t go far.” He said, as the toddler walked a few paces, sat down, and began denuding some flowers of their petals. Shade decided, in that moment, the little boy was definitely an apple that didn’t fall far from his mother’s tree.

“Have you ever seen little kids play with insects? I’ve seen them capture grasshoppers and pull their wings off or even their hopping legs and then race them for bets of candy and small trinkets… marbles and buttons. I can’t imagine what a flying thing or a hopping thing would be after loosing such a big part of themselves. And what most those creatures think of the little kids who were doing all the racing? They didn’t know those insects felt pain, and if they did, they probably didn’t care.” Shade said quietly. He didn’t have a loud voice. Instead, he had a deep thoughtful quality to his words.

“If that letter this morning was true… and there is a god of Evil, of Chaos, then …. Isn’t that what we have here? There’s true evil at work. And it reminds me of some of the texts I’ve read on war. You don’t want to fight your enemy head on, do you? It’s far easier to … soften them first. Give them an illness, poison a well… take all their food and starve them out. This is more like a siege… a long term thing than an actual face to face battle. Or at least that’s the way it feels to me. And if someone doesn’t want to take us on face to face, that’s because they know we are stronger.” He added, his tone serious.

“They need all the advantage they can get.” He mused, looking at Cleon a moment. “That’s the most worrisome thing of all. And that letter talked about finding answers, touching things, trails being left. There has to be more that could be done than just sitting around talking about it. And yet here we are… talking about it.” He smiled slightly, as if his own wording amused him. He hadn’t been able to talk about it for more than fifty days. But could he be acting? “I’m a jeweler, and I can find any stone worth anything around here just by thinking about it. But I’m afraid I’m a little useless in this endeavor. But Hess isn’t our fault. People die. Stronger ones kill weaker ones. I’m just surprised from what I’ve seen of Syka that it actually happened here. Now, though… like those kids, we move forward.” Shade said, shaking his head.

“We need to find more of this Lykata. Perhaps someone among the Svefra has the ability.” He mused, then wondered. “Yes… we will make sure they don’t live another day. But we need to find them first. I suggest… we start with the children… and search them all.” He added. “Do you think we’d be allowed to do that? Gather them up maybe in the guise of taking them all swimming or something… and check them for Gnosis Marks?” He asked the other younger man with a frown. “Who’s watching them now anyhow?” He said with a streak of curiosity. “Surely, they haven’t been left alone?” He rose suddenly, reached down and picked up Ian.

“Let’s go see who has them… and if they might all want to go to the Community Pool.” He said with a grin.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Cleon on April 21st, 2022, 12:22 am

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Cleon studied the boy for a moment as a look of understanding flickered across his features. Yes, there were many that came on the same day as him and Faye, he must have seen them both sometime before but then again, it had been so chaotic on the ride over that they just missed each other. The name of his mother was familiar enough to him. He could almost remember those curves.. Stop, he was getting distracted. Bending slightly to wave at the boy, Cleon exchanged a smile with Shade as the boy hid his face. Having once been a shy boy himself, he nodded in understanding at Shades words.

“Oh I bet. I had my hands pretty full keeping Faye out of trouble when she got to where she was toddling around. I can only just imagine what this little one manages to get up to in a place like this.” Cleon said with a slight gesture at their surroundings as he took a step back to let the boy walk where he wanted to, which didn’t happen to be very far. Watching the boy pick apart a flower, it was hard not to think about Faye just then. While he knew she could take care of herself, she was still only five days from her last.. Renewal, and he knew she was going about that in her own way. He gave her the peace she needed to sort this out while making a few new friends, but eventually they would have to talk about this.

He watched the boy carefully as Shade talked about pulling apart insects. It reminded him of his own childhood, and his darker inclinations. Back when he hadn’t had a proper place to put away all the pain so he took it out on small things, like the insects Shade spoke of but what he was saying was subtly different then that. He didn’t know how he knew, only he had the distinct impression that the experience Shade was painting with his words was different than his. An he didn’t know why that bothered him, or why he could only connect to the morality of it in a detached sort of way.

Still, there were other things to think about, important clues that Shade picked out, colored by his own experiences that Cleon saw now differed substantially from his own. Chewing his bottom lip, he considered that idea that this was all just to weaken him, an idea that fit scarily well for their current circumstances. Why hadn’t he see it that way before? An this other idea, the one that lurked just under his words about the children, could it be true?

“I think you are onto something there, and I believe I know what you are getting at. It would be an effective agent for this god of chaos. Who better to manipulate that someone who is still developing, and getting a sense of the world. It doesn’t make sense of Hess’ death, but then again, that is knotty enough as it is and there could be an obvious explanation that we won’t know about until we uncover the culprit for these curses.” Cleon said, pausing for a moment to clear his throat.

“I wasn’t anybody before this, I just did what I needed to in order to survive. Working at the board shop with Randal is my first honest job, and I love it, but like yours, my skills don’t really pertain to the matter at hand. Unless you need me to sneak up on something or peek a pocket.” Cleon said, admitted cautiously but he didn’t want to leave anything out just in case it might be important later. A mosquito landed on his forearm and he slapped it, hopefully before it got a good bite on him he thought as he wiped it off on his pants. Digging into his belt pouch, he retrieved a small tin of insect repellent which he then proceeded to dab liberally across his arms before exchanging a look with Shade.

“Would you like to borrow some? It keeps off most of the bugs. I’ve got some sunscreen too if you need. Petching easy to burn out here.” Cleon said before moving back onto the topic at hand.

“Do you know what we should be looking for on these children. Is it going to be something obvious like my gnosis mark, or could it be different? Every gnosis mark I have seen so far has stood out to me. Oralie has got this mark on her palm from Priskil that is pretty hard to miss once her hand is upturned, and mine, well I kind of get the impression that it likes to be seen the way it moves about. I suppose there might be a mark out there that would want to do the exact opposite. Like say a mark from a god of chaos bent on manipulating the folks of Syka.” Cleon said, rubbing the back of his neck as he thought about it before shrugging. “You’re right again though. Instead of talking about it, lets try doing something. At the very least we can’t be less informed than we are now.”

He turned to go with Shade, considering just how this would all play out with the children when something cawed his name from up in the tree.

“Cleon!” “Cleon!”

Cleon looked up to see a large jungle crow perched on a branch with something silvery clasped in its talons. Looking up at the bird, Cleon shield his eyes from the glare of the sun with his hand before calling out. “What is it? I don’t have time to gamble today.”

“Cleon!” “Game!” “Cleon”

Cleon shook his head briskly. “No, but how about you come down and I’ll give you a slice of mango to leave me alone.” He said as he took off his pack and started rifling through it. Ever sense he started packing more intelligently, it had made is life considerably easier going about Syka which was nice because he was an utter wreck most of the time until he got his fix one way or the other, or was in the lull of having satisfied several fixes as he was currently enjoying. The lulls however were always too brief, and even as he said no, he could feel the thought of gambling beginning to take root inside of him. He needed to get rid of this bird.

Bringing out a mango he’d grabbed from the kitchen commons earlier, he took it apart with his eating knife before tossing a slice to the crow who still what he could see now was a chain clutched in his talons.

“Say what do you got there?” Cleon asked as he crouched and the crow hopped away, then gave him a sidelong look.

“Game?”

“No game, how about I give you a quarter of this mango and you give me that?” Cleon asked.

“Game?” The bird asked again, looking at him circumspectly.

“Fine” Cleon sighed, fishing out a miza and giving Shade an apologetic smile before he hastily tossed the coin up in the air, giving it a little wobble so it only looked like he flipped it. He was in no mood for penash so he didn’t dramatize his movements or his words when he called “Heads” which meant M side up. Catching it on the back of his hand, he showed it off the the crow who promptly squawked at him.

“Hey, fair is fair. Give it up.” Cleon said as he carved off a generous slice of mango and tossed it a ways from the bird. When the crow hopped away to get the slice he lunged forward, and snatched it out of the sand before dangling it in front of himself for examination. It looked a lot like something that would go over his wrist, made of small silver chain links and off the middle of one of those links hung a small little figurine sculpted with fine details. It looked to be a head, with a twisting spiral across the top of it. The head itself was featureless as if a person was in shadow from a distance away with no discernible details. Holding up the chain he showed it to Shade briefly before slipping it across his wrist to see if it fit.

To his surprise it fit perfectly even though he could have sworn it looked a little big for his wrist before he had slipped it on. As he admired the bracelet and his fingers slipped over the charm, there was a distinct buzzing in his head before Cleon hastily withdrew his hand before giving a little disconcerted look to Shade.

“I have the impression that this isn’t a normal bracelet.” He said slowly, as he turned it over and felt a brief but intense pang of fear when he tried to remove it and it wouldn’t budge. Taking in a deep breath through his nose, he tried to think calmly although his next words were strained as they come out. “Yeah, definitely not normal. I’m.. Uh.. I’m just going to thank Eywaat from this rather than think it might have come from an alternative power for now until this bracelet proves otherwise.” He said slowly, letting Shade weigh in if he wanted. If this was a gift from Eywaat, well the god certainly had an odd way of presenting it, and Cleon wasn’t entirely sure about how he felt yet. Still, he would have to remember later to pay the totem a visit, if only to show his respect. For now though, he wanted to put this behind him before he had a panic attack.

“Lets go find those children, yeah?”

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Shade on May 1st, 2022, 6:53 pm

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Shade nodded and took the insect tin of repellant. “I hadn’t thought they’d have something like this. Where did you get it? I could use a whole boatload of it.” He said, gratefully taking a moment to apply a liberal share of it on his own form. He gave it a sniff, approved of the citronish scent, and then capped the tin and handed it back to Cleon. “I’m good, thanks. I don’t easily burn.” He said, though he had no idea why. Wysar - Integrity, Conviction, Discipline (God) but with the death of his parents, he had no true idea.

The Monk looked thoughtful at Cleon’s question. “I honestly have no idea. My mark comes in a slightly different form.” He said, extending his left hand, palm down, so Cleon could see the opal cabochon embedded in his flesh on the back of his hand. “Semele. Goddess of Earth.” He said thoughtfully. “Pretty fitting for a Xannos Monk who is a jeweler.” He said with a small smile. “I’ve seen other gnosis marks on other monks, but mostly of the warrior variety… my best friend had a mark of Wysar, the God Integrity, Conviction, Discipline. It looked like raised flesh – like it was embossed – not like a tattoo.” He said thoughtfully.

Shade smiled at Cleon’s comments about Faye. “Where were your parents?” He asked, curious. The young man had never mentioned anyone other than himself Faye. “Randal is a good person. He brings out good in other people too, I suspect.” The Monk said, eyeing Cleon curiously. The boy seemed to like his job, and that was fairly important.

“I think we’d be looking for a child that isn’t a child. Or we’d be looking for a stranger among the new people that isn’t what they seem. I don’t know how to spot that, actually.” Shade said, reaching down and ruffling Ian’s hair before shifting him to the other side of where he was sitting so he could more easily reach more flowers to pick. Thankfully the boy wasn’t at the stage where he tried putting all new things in his mouth. He was beyond that or so Shade suspected. It helped, truthfully, that the kid wasn’t hungry. His mother did a good job of providing for him.

“Not a lot of children have gnosis marks. Konti, some Isur, some Gods mark from birth but not many and I suspect not Orphans. Truthfully, if any had them, I’d be stunned.” He said thoughtfully. “I haven’t met Oralie yet, I don’t think. I might have seen her around.” Shade admitted, not being able to place whom Cleon was talking about.

Shade looked up just as the bird flew in, mistaking it momentarily for Opal as it had that same type of voice. Shade’s lips curled into a smile as Cleon made a game of trading the creature. He had his own friend in the form of a bird. His white raven Opal had traveled with him from Nyka, though he wasn’t sure how well she was doing in the heat. He had left her back in the Inn, on the deck in the coolness of the ocean breeze and the shade of the palm frond covered addition. She seemed to like it there, and could venture forth as much as she liked coming and going. It was a freedom she didn’t enjoy in Nyka.

Shade leaned over and nodded at the bracelet Cleon talked the bird out of. “Nothing around here is normal.” He said, matter of factly. The linked bracelet was fairly simple in design and seemed to be nicely done with the links coming together in no obvious. That fact pleased the monk who had an eye for jewelry. It also didn’t appear to be tarnished like silver tended to get out in the wild. “That’s a fine piece.” He said, rising.

“I saw a tall man, that woman with the caramel-colored curls, and maybe Faye with the kids after the Tenday sort of broke up… when they found Hess’ body. Maybe they’ll be with them still over at the Children’s Pavilion.” Shade said, setting off in that direction. It wasn’t a hard walk, that much was for sure. Syka’s Commons had everything a short distance from everything, even if it wasn’t laid out like a true city. He half expected to see a pack of children shepherded by the three he listed but they found the area deserted. There were children’s footprints everywhere though, most coming and going from the beach and to The Commons.

Down near the surf, a couple of Ixam were playing in the waves, a thick piece of driftwood being tossed out to them by a small boy. He’d toss it out and the two Ixam would dive into the waves after it, then fetch it out so he could throw it again. He seemed contented with his play among the creatures. And Shade stood there with Ian torn between going to talk to the kid or going to find the rest of the children.

“What do you think? Do we go talk to that one or find the rest first?” He asked Cleon, not sure what was the best thing to do. Ian was starting to squirm on his hip, so Shade put him down to see what the boy wanted. He toddled towards one of the swings, because of course they were on swing beach, and pushed it himself. “Swing me.” He called out. Shade glanced back at Cleon, then at the boy near the water, and then at Ian.

He ran his hand through his long hair, frustrated.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Cleon on May 3rd, 2022, 6:38 pm

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“I got it at the Mercantile, along with the sunblock. It was earlier in the season, but I reckon they keep a good stock of it on hand. Although with Julie having trouble with her hearing, and the people who might supply the shop having their own curses to deal with its hard to say. You’re more than welcome to borrow some of mine though to keep yourself and the little guy from being eaten alive out here.” Cleon said with a genial smile as he took back the tin. He was a bit jealous of the man’s skin. From what he could see it was a pleasant bronze, and the immunity to sunburn was no small thing. He had to keep himself and Faye well lathered to avoid the brunt of the sun’s rays or else he would crisp up like a fried fish.

When Shade turned his arm, Cleon looked appreciatively at the gnosis which took on a very physical appearance. Since acquiring his own gnosis he had learned quite a bit about gnosis from the residents here from Ialari’s arm to Oralie’s palm. They varied drastically in appearance and temperament when it came to his own gnosis which only made them all the more interesting to him. “Semele. I don’t believe I’ve heard that name before. What does her gnosis do if you don’t mind my asking? Mine allows me to drink seawater if I am dehydrated, and tells me the direction I should head if I want to reach the sea.”

His expression seemed to darken somewhat at the mention of his parents, but he forced himself to keep the smile to soften his words. “Absent thankfully. The day they showed up to get her was the day I ran away with my sisters. They weren’t good people.” He said simply, not really wanting to go back to that period of time. “Randal is a good person though. I’ve learned more in one bell working with him than I did in all my years with my parents. Coming here was a good idea.”

“She’s that kelvic that helps out around the Protea Inn. Her curse is some sort of phantom that stalks her constantly, which is probably why she has been less sociable lately. Petch I probably wouldn’t even know her if my sister hadn’t warmed up to her quite so fast. I think you are right about the children though. I don’t expect gods or goddesses much care for marking children unless there is a really good reason to do so. They’re still figuring themselves out after all, so if this is the result of some sort of gnosis it would definitely be a adult masquerading as a child. Or maybe there is another good reason the children haven’t been cursed that we just aren’t seeing yet. Its hard to guess until we get more information.”

The bracelet was an altogether unexpected development. If it had happened to him in a place like Sunberth, he might have tried chopping off his arm then and there without trying to find out anything about it. However the further he got from Sunberth, the more relaxed his attitudes had become. The change had been gradual at first until he reached Syliras at which point his perspective had abruptly changed. Those old feelings felt hollow now, as if there was nothing to fuel them anymore but there were still attributes that psychologically malingered.

If he hadn’t experienced all that he had this season so far, he might not have been able to push past the fear in that moment as his body adjusted to the newest addition. An that was what it was. An addition, an extension of himself although he couldn’t really say why his mind framed it in that way. It wasn’t quite like the connection he shared with his mark, this was definitely different. He felt like he had complete control over it, like an eleventh finger. When he looked at Shade, he felt like there was something it wanted to do if only he would allow it to fulfill its purpose.

Taking in a deep breath, he put such thoughts aside as he considered what Shade had just said. “I’ll have to thank Eywaat personally for this later, once I figure out what exactly this is. To be honest I’m not sure if it is a blessing or something else. It certainly looks like a blessing however.” Cleon clarified quickly, not wanting to offend, especially within earshot of any birds.

Following Shade to where he thought the children had gotten off to, Cleon saw the Ixam that played in the surf with a young boy. He saw to the many footprints that disturbed this area that most certainly lead away back towards the commons. However he couldn’t take his eyes off the boy. It was just such an odd picture seeing him playing with the Ixam without any off the other children about. Perhaps that was because as far as he could tell there was no adult watching this kid, and he knew how dangerous those waters could be this season. Randal had reminded him about it several times and had make sure that the point had been properly drilled in.

“I say lets talk to the boy first. Maybe he can give us an idea about where to look for the others. Besides I wouldn’t feel good about leaving him alone near the water. He might get the wrong idea and try to swim in it.” Cleon said and started to approach the boy when he looked over to see Ian was trying to get Shade to do something for him. “If you want, I can try to talk with the boy, and bring the boy over here to swing with Ian so we can talk with him together.”

If Shade accepted his suggestion Cleon would continue down the beach to the boy when he got that familiar itch again as he drew closer. “Hello, my name’s Cleon. I don’t think we have met before. What is your name?” Cleon asked with a smile and took a spot near the boy. “Me and my friend over there were just about to enjoy the swings if you want to join us. We were trying to find the other children when my friend spotted you and the swings.” Cleon said. As he considered the boy and this weird sensation he got from the bracelet, he decided to let it do what it wanted, just this once with the idea that he could stop it if he decided to. What happened next could only be described as another voice entering his head, talking like it was thinking but it was not his thinking. It had to be the boy’s.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Shade on May 10th, 2022, 3:14 pm

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Shade nodded his thanks at Cleon. “I’ll have to get myself some. I had no idea they had creams to repel bugs or block the sun.” He said truthfully. He’d taken a moment to coat Ian as well before returning the bottle to Cleon with a nod of thanks. He’d stock himself well and perhaps get Shiress some sunblock as well since she had fair skin and was probably going to burn as badly as Ian. They talked of the jewelry for a moment then Cleon asked him about Semele. They were both wandering down the sand and Shade paused to place Ian on one of the swings and give him a couple of hard pushes.

“Semele is the Goddess of Earth. She is the one that gifts masons with stone and jewelers with gems. I am a Xannos Monk, and she is the daughter of Semele. She is the Demigoddess of Gemcutting.” He said, offering Cleon a smile. “She dwells in Nyka and controls a quarter of the monks there with three other Demigods and demigoddesses.” He added. “I am marked by her mother though… like my Master was before me. We are jewelers, and with this stone I can feel other stones in proximity. I need only concentrate on its type to start feeling it out. For example, from right here… I know there are no opals in proximity, but there is a decent sapphire off the beach about a hundred yards into the water. There is a small stream about five chimes walk from here that is full of garnets, and I can sense jasper and carnelian not far away as well.” He added, laughing. “Semele makes us sensitive to whats around us in the gemstone department. When I was hiking the beach the other day, I felt a full ridge of quarts near here too… but it was on the edge of my sensitivity and I’ll need someone to escort me into the jungle to actually find it and see what type.” He added.

Shade noted what the Laviku mark did absently. It would be super helpful in this area, he decided, where the locals kept telling him that fresh drinking water was rare.

“I’ve met all the founders, but haven’t had a lot of time to spend with them.” He said, absently pausing to push Ian on the closest swing a moment. “Shiress keeps leaving this little guy with me and it’s driving me somewhat crazy. I’m not babysitter material and I don’t have any kids. Even now she’s off demanding something of the Founders and left Ian with me on one of the only days I can actually communicate with someone else.” He said, a spark of annoyance crossing his face. He didn’t take it out on the child though. It wasn’t Ian’s fault. He was just frustrated that she had so little courtesy as to ask him if he wanted to babysit rather than just assume he would.

He kept pushing Ian, attentive, even though he was bitching about having to babysit. Shade didn’t actually look like he minded overly much. The truth was, he didn’t. He just minded not being asked.

“I see what you mean about Gods and Goddess’ marking children. I’d say the exception to that is the Konti. They are rife with marks, born with them I have seen. Avalis the Goddess of Sight and Rak’Keli.. the Goddess of Healing mark them regularly from birth. They are an all-female race. You might have seen them… pale coloring, white or blond hair, gills, scales patterning their skin… ethereally beautiful. They could be a hundred years old and still look like a virginal teen.” He said with a grin. “Nyka was rife with them. They come over from their island of Mura because we are one of the closest cities… and mingle with the males. One and all of them have a high sex drive, not having any males around.” He said with a grin. “They don’t have male children though, only more Konti girls. And they come out wearing marks.” He said, shaking his head. “Darndest thing I’ve ever seen. I think they used us Monks to sire children on them and went home afterwards to let themselves ripen.” He added, shaking his head. He’d let Konti take advantage of him more than once only to have them disappear afterwards. He very well could have a daughter or two out in the world…. maybe more than that.

A soft smile crossed his face as he kept pushing Ian on the swing.

Shade, noticing Cleon twitching his wrist and glowering at the bracelet laughed. Cleon had bargained hard for that bracelet and now he was regretting it? “I wouldn’t worry about that. Everything here is God-touched. And you being from a godless place wouldn’t understand it. You aren’t the only one I’ve seen with one of those… there was someone….” He shook his head, unable to remember her, that wore one religiously. A name and even a face eluded him. “I don’t know if you can see it Cleon, but there’s a war brewing here and it looks like one God is stepping up to cause Chaos and the others are fortifying against that one’s actions. Go with it. If it doesn’t cause you any harm, which it doesn’t seem too, then make an offering to Eywaat and move forward. That’s the Demigod of Birds right? The one responsible for the statue?” He asked, knowing he’d been told on his initial tour, but not sure his memory was solid.

Shade nodded at Cleon’s suggestion at talking to the boy, then gathered Ian up after halting his swing. The boy was looking a little ill from all the swinging back and forth anyhow. The pair trailed down the sand towards the water where the other boy was playing fetch with the wild Ixam. Where they really wild? The place was thick with them and someone had told him they were riding animals. He’d have to get lessons. He missed his own horse acutely and had to sell the stallion before he left for Syka. The captain had been adamant that no horses were allowed in the Settlement.

“Hey Kid.” Shade said with a nod. He was busy rolling his hips with Ian perched on his left one, trying to keep the little boy from puking. He might have swung him too high to hard, but he wouldn’t make that mistake again. “I’m Shade, this is Ian. We were along for a stroll with Cleon. Want to swing with us? Ian loved it.” He said, finding that might have been stretching the truth a little. The boy kept swallowing and Shade grinned slightly, trying to decide for himself if the boy was going to loose his breakfast or not. If he didn’t, Shade would reward him with a swim to cool off later. If he did, they’d both be in the shower before long.

The little boy threw the chunk of wood one more time then turned to the strangers. “I’m Kyle.” He said sounding older than he appeared.

I hate that name. I hate this place. I want to go home. These Ixam are the best company to be found and they are the dumbest biggest lizards I’ve ever seen. They act more like dogs than equines. Why in the world was I brought to this place? There’s nothing to do here. There’s nothing to see here. There’s not even a decent settlement. I cannot believe they actually call this place a city. Everything they told me was lies. These adults are liars.

“Swinging sounds nice.” The boy said, causing Shade to smile.

“Maybe you’d better do the pushing this time.” Shade suggested to Cleon. “Ian still looks like he might puke.” He said, then gestured to the three-year-old on his hip. “This is Ian…” He said, introducing the younger child on his hip to the other child playing with the Ixam. “It’s nice to meet you Kyle. Do those lizards have names?” He asked, curious.

Kyle looks like a sweet kid. He gets along well with animals, if the Ixam are any indication. I wonder if he knows anything out of the ordinary… and how do we go about questioning him without traumatizing him? Children are so fragile… Ian almost cries every time I ask him why his mom is such a bitch… hrm. I’m hungry… I wonder if there’s anything to eat in the icebox at The Protea? I bet I could talk Cleon into finding something to eat. After that letter, no one’s going to be cooking for the tenday. Cleon’s an interesting guy. He’d be fun to take on a bender through Nyka. I bet he’d love the Konti. Too bad there’s no Konti here. I could get Shiress off my mind with that kind of distraction. Cleon and I… a pair of Konti… no… not going to happen. At least not here. Maybe we could find something interesting at the Tidepool later. I haven’t visited there much. Someplace in this god forsaken jungle has to have a decent pint of something…

Shade sighed them, seemingly out of the blue, and glanced up at the beach. “Lot’s of swings… we could all take turns.” He said, sounding like he meant it as much as he’d mean cutting off his right arm. He offered first Cleon a smile then Kyle.

“Kyle.. have you seen anything…. unusual going on since you got to Syka? Anyone acting funny or did anything happen on The Veronica while you were traveling here? We’re trying to find out why everyone is acting so weird. Things aren’t right here, and anything you might know might help us decide.” Shade asked, looking at Kyle like whatever he knew might be important.

Once an enforcer, always an enforcer. It’s easy to fall back on old habits? Just ask the kid. Don’t bribe him. Don’t coddle him. Just treat him like something he knows might be important and like he might be important and you’ll probably get a lot further than offering to petching swing with him. These kids… they aren’t normal kids. They are like I was at their age… already burdened with too much and having to grow up and be a man before my stones even dropped. We should have pulled all these kids in and questioned them immediately when the curses started happening. Why did we even wait? I’ll tell you why… too wrapped up in our own petching misery to look around and see what is happening.

Shade waited for Kyle to answer, meanwhile the boy was thinking furiously.

Should I tell them? I know stuff… important stuff. But its my knowledge, not theirs. What would I gain from offering it up? Will they give me coin? More food? Better places to sleep? A living teacher instead of a dead petching cow?

“I’m not sure.” Kyle started out.

I’m so petching sure.

“James doesn’t think anything of it, but hes an idiot. Luke was just out in the middle of the ocean swimming. He was all by himself. That ain’t right. And I know Dhani… Dhani don’t get their human forms before they are adults like you two… yet he is a little boy dhani? He says hes an Iyvess.. Ivass?… a sea one… but really? Would they be different than Dhani? A snake is a snake and he shouldn’t be a little boy. He should be a man… taller like you two. He says he is nine. The Dhani I knew were over a hundred before they could grow legs. Everyone here is so stupid!” Kyle said, throwing the stick again as the Ixam danced around him.

Cleon felt the power of his new charm wane and the voices from both person's faded. Ian, who was perched on Shade's hip still, was yawning... thinking evidently of nothing but the discomfort in his belly.

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What was lost (Shade)

Postby Cleon on May 10th, 2022, 6:22 pm

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As Shade spoke of Semele and the power granted by his gnosis mark, Cleon’s posture straightened as he attentively leaned towards the man. It was something he found himself unconsciously doing while very consciously calculating what he would do with a power like that. Then he caught himself thinking in that old Sunberthian way, where one man’s gain was another’s loss, and bit the inside of his lip as reminded himself very acutely of where he was now. He had to pause for a few moments before actually responding, afraid that he might say something he would end up regretting.

“Its probably a good thing I was never blessed with such a power. I.. Well some habits are harder to break than others, and I think there are aspects of my curse that even I have yet to explore.” Cleon said, his face pinching in consternation as he realized what he said didn’t make much sense on its own. “I was a thief back in Sunberth. There aren’t many ways to get by in Sunberth, less so if you don’t run with a gang and that really wasn’t an option for me and Faye so I stole what I could for us to survive on. A gemstone like one of the ones you mentioned would have been the find of a season, and could have kept us comfortable for a several days or longer depending on how I stretched the coin. Its hard not to go back to such times, even though I know logically that things are different here.”

Cleon admitted it all in a sober tone, looking down as he said it as he wasn’t particularly keen on meeting Shade’s eyes just then. So much had changed since he arrived on the beach angry and confused all those days ago. Talking about his own mark though helped him open back up to where he could look Shade in the eye again as they then began to reminisce about their time spent so far in Syka, and Cleon listened carefully as Shade tangentially described his relationship with Shiress. He remembered a woman by the pool with such a name, heavily scarred but bearing not a child in sight.

“Shiress eh? She’s the one with the scars right? I think I met her at the community pool, and we talked a little about our experiences in Sunberth among other things. I didn’t realize she had a child, although now I know why.” Cleon said, arching an eyebrow as he considered little Ian with a shrewd look. “Not very motherly of her kicking you off into his care.” He remarked without thinking, then hastily added towards Shade, “No offense”

As their conversation continued Cleon was surprised to learn more about the Konti. Putting together his conversation with Ialari earlier in the season, he recalled that they had their own language which was supposed to be rather graceful. It certainly matched with the picture that Shade painted with his words.

“Someone told me once that they speak a tongue called Kontinese and that the language is quite pretty to hear. Is there any truth to that?” Cleon asked before he remembered about Shade’s particular curse. “Have you had a day where you only knew how to speak in Kontinese yet? I can’t imagine the difficulties that must arise from such a curse.” Cleon added, considering the idea carefully for a few ticks before moving on with the conversation.

After nodding at Shade’s mention of Eywaat, Cleon then made his remark with a helpless shrug “Y’know magical is probably the worst word you could call someone in Sunberth. Its a death sentence in most cases, and not a good, clean one. There is much of me that I would have liked to have left behind with Sunberth. Stuff that would have kept me out of a Syliran holding tank for a week, or from a lashing in Kenash. My heritage follows me everywhere, no matter where I go, and not even the hottest shower can wash off the stain of that place on my soul, but maybe this bracelet is the next step to putting that life behind me.” Cleon considered aloud for a moment, clarifying. “I better not let it go to my head though. First Laviku, now this. I should just keep doing what I’m doing, and properly thank Eywaat for the gift.”

With that settled, they moved on from the swings to speak with the boy by the water with a dark mop of hair and an innocent enough looking face. As he drew closer, his charm became attuned, the sensation quickly spreading through his body before the thoughts came. It was immediately apparent that these thoughts were not his own, and paying attention to the context he was able to eventually sort out who’s belonged to whom. Fortunately they sounded different, although sounded wasn’t quite the right word for what was going on in his head just then.

“Yes of course” Cleon said, not minding at all having to go over and push Kyle on the swing. Focusing in on Kyle, he sympathized with the boy who was still having a hard time adjusting to the settlement. He poorly resisted the urge to grin at Kyle’s response which was a good deal different than what was currently on his mind, but that smile didn’t last long as Cleon came to the uncomfortable realization that they were more alike than he would want to admit. There couldn’t be very many years between them Cleon thought as they walked the boy over to one of the swings where Cleon took to pushing the boy while he tried to organize his thoughts around the others flooding into his mind. It was an odd gift this bracelet, one that gave him the sort of access that would have been very useful back in Sunberth, and he supposed here as well though he had to think a bit harder to find a similar utility.

However as thoughts shifted from Shade’s back to Kyle’s once more, Cleon got an inkling about why this bracelet came to him when it did, Shade’s earlier words echoing in his mind giving the moment a certain clarity. An clarity was something he much needed after Shade’s thoughts had gotten him briefly thinking about other pressing desires, a deep thirst for more than just drink.

Taking in a deep breath while he was pushing Kyle, tried and failed to hide the surprise on his face at the next torrent of thoughts that seemed to confirm his earlier suspicions that somehow the children knew something about these curses. Still it was hard to think with Shade’s and Kyle’s thoughts bouncing off his own so he let Shade ask his questions, listened to Kyle respond, and finally when the thoughts faded, Cleon set his mind to asking a few of his own. Before that though, and far too late, Cleon realized he should have been counting to see how long that effect lasted. Trying to mentally reach out to the charm now simply got him silence in return, and Cleon had to wonder if that was the one and only trick of this bracelet that he had spent so recklessly.

No, he shouldn’t think like that. Eywaat wouldn’t give him a tool he could only use once, there would be more, he just had to be patient. Perhaps it was just resting. Turning his thoughts back to the subject at hand, Cleon cleared his throat before speaking.

“Kyle? Hey, its alright. Both of us are new here too. Syka certainly isn’t what any of us expected it to be, but that’s a good thing. You wouldn’t want it to be like where you came from because you did have a choice there, here you do. You can be whatever you want to be, you just have to be brave enough to reach out and try.” Cleon said, trying to reassure the boy before coming at him with his own questions. “I’m from Sunberth, and I didn’t have anyone to look out for me growing up either. I had to fend for myself, and for a time a life like that works, but we need people. We need friends to help make life livable otherwise we’re stuck in a cycle of deciding between bad choices that lead to an endless supply of bad choices.”

Cleon paused for a moment, considering Kyle then Shade before speaking again. “Shade didn’t have it any easier. We’ve all known struggle. That’s why we came here. So we can work together to eliminate that struggle from our lives by working together. So how about it Kyle, do you want to help us work together? Because what we really need right now is to know anything we can about people acting suspiciously. You mentioned James finding Luke out in the middle of the sea? Do you recall when that was? What else has he done that would make you suspicious besides claiming to be an Iyvess?” Cleon asked, giving the boy a significant time to answer before respond. He was still half sorting through their stream of conscious, and trying to see how this new piece of the puzzle fit into the rest of it. It was certainly an odd fact that he had not known before but if what Kyle was saying was accurate, then the founders should certainly be told about this.

“Do you know anything else about the Dhani that you could tell us? Have you seen Luke turn into a snake before or anything like that?” Cleon asked before it occurred to him that he ought to use what he had gleaned through his little charm to make the child more amiable to his request. “Take your time, you don’t have to respond all at once. Here, I’ve got a couple of bananas from earlier you can have and after we get done swinging we can go back to the Inn where we can grab a bite together. I promise you, the food there is some of the best I’ve ever tasted and I’ve done a lot of traveling to get to this point. Maybe later, after we’ve figured this out I can show you a bit of what Randal has been teaching me at the surf shop. We can try surfing at the pool or I can take you through the steps we go through to build one. Whatever you want, we just need to figure this out first.” Cleon said, urging the boy along to hopefully giving them a few more answers they could work with before going to the founders about what they had discovered.

Looking at Shade, he wondered if he should mention later about the side effect of his newest acquisition but he quickly put that thought aside for now because he didn’t relish the thought of admitting to Shade his little breach of privacy.

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