Open Peace Offerings

Shade takes Shiress a housewarming gift or two.

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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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Peace Offerings

Postby Shade on September 24th, 2022, 2:11 am

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Timestamp: 25th of Fall, 522 A.V.



Shade was an idiot. He was basically starting a combo business in Syka without having any true knowledge of what he was doing in regards to exactly half the business. To that end, he had to brush up on his Floristry which was sitting at nothing at all. He decided the first step was to take a trip to the Outpost and see if he could find a Book on Floristry. He hadn’t had much luck browsing through the book dealers themselves, which all but laughed at his request.

However, when he went and talked to flower suppliers striking up a conversation with them due to the fact he was from Syka and could supply rare tropical blooms, his luck changed. He was able to procure a hand-written book on loan about floral design from one of the senior florists. It was a book the man used to train apprentices with.

And once Shade had talked to the man, a Migas Kellar for more than a few moments, they had a handshake bargain going that Shade would attempt to supply the man with exotic blooms when he requested them - meaning Shade had to take a trip to The Outpost once a week to see if the guy needed anything… and in return for selling the man stems of flowers, he could have access to his apprentice notes and use his for consultation on floristry questions Shade might have. That was a good deal to Shade, who needed knowledge and had flowers in abundance growing in and around Syka. He didn’t, for the most part, have to even venture into the jungle to get blooms procured.

So he took the man’s apprentice journal, some lecture notes that went with it, and promised to come back with three dozen birds of paradise for the man in five days time. They would need to be fresh, but Shadekas wasn’t worried about that. The beautiful flowers grew wild all along the coast in the riparian area where the shade of the jungle met the ocean just before the bit of seagrass leading out to the ocean.

The man decided he’d use the first few chapters to craft a flower arrangement for Shiress to welcome her to her new home… one or another of the bungalows. Everyone liked a housewarming gift right? And he needed some sort of peace offering to give to her along with the jewelry he’d promised her almost a season ago. He’d had the set done for a while now, but hadn’t actually given it enough thought to give it to her yet.

Shadekas waited five days, read up in the book, and decided to craft her nice glass vase he got from The Outpost into a symmetrical bird of paradise piece. He had some lessons to learn, but he filled the vase with water and went on an expeditionary gathering mission with a pair of clippers. Shade didn’t have to look for long… birds of paradise grew all over. They were hearty and exotic, even to someone having lived in Syka a season or more.

The man found himself liking the flowers enormously for they had a variety of colors and a weird enough shape that was visually interesting. He was picky about what he cut. He harvested only the fully opened blooms, the ones that were perfect, and cut some greenery to match. Then, before he returned home, he cut some curving twisting mulberry-like branches that were finger-thin to add interest to the piece. He headed into his workshop where he’d left the full vase, laid down the flowers, and sorted through them.

Spotting the best and biggest of the bunch, he cut off the end and slipped it into the vase, letting it be the tallest piece that he would build the flowers around. Then he selected others, cutting them shorter but not all the same length and sliding them into the vase alongside the taller flower. He made sure the arrangement was visible and nice from all sides, as he trimmed some of the wooden corkscrew branches he’d cut and tucked them in as well. Then he stripped the remaining birds of paradise of their greenery and added them to his arrangement. When he’d fussed with it as much as he could, he wrapped a ribbon around the vase, picked up the velvet case he had gotten his homefinder in, and made sure Shiress’ completed jewelry was still in there. The set was, and it was looking lovely.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to talk to her, so he just walked over to the bungalows and looked for the one that she was rumored to have moved into. Spotting the one that had some of Shiress’ clothing hanging on a line outside to dry, he trotted up the steps, laid the velvet box down in front of her door, added the huge bouget beside it, and knocked loudly. Then he turned, meaning to head down the steps and be on his way in case she didn’t want to answer the door. If she wasn’t home… no big deal. No one would take her gifts. She’d just find them when she returned. The door was under an awning anyhow, out of the sun, so the flowers wouldn’t wilt being freshly cut.

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jewelry :
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These crystals are harvested from the Blue Cenote. They seemingly don't have a name, but they flash various colors when they hear sound so they are constantly changing colors and put on a fairly vibrant show just listening to someone hum, talk, or even doing mundane things like household chores.


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Peace Offerings

Postby Shiress on September 27th, 2022, 2:46 am

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Shiress closed her hand around Ian's and pulled him with her as she moved off to the side to wait for their order. They had left their little bungalow a few chimes earlier in search of lunch and found themselves at The Tidepool. She had contemplated taking a table and eating there, but, being one of the few days she had off, Shiress had decided to take her and Ian's lunch back home to enjoy. Eating in public still made her feel uncomfortable. A residual effect of Spring and the curse that had plagued her all that season.

Syka's community was a social one, filled with helpful folk who was quick to step in and help or offer advice in any situation. Shiress's cursed situation notwithstanding. Over the Summer season, the community had banded together as a whole to heal from the effects of the Spring curses. Word had quickly spread about her own affliction with food, and Shiress had been inundated with much and varied support.

A lot of that support had been offered in the last fortnight as Shiress had finally opened up to more and more people about her curse and what it had entailed. Entering Syka as a well-fed, curvy individual in Spring, then spending the first days of the Summer season bone thin and too weak to move hadn't gone unnoticed, despite her efforts to remain isolated.

Shiress had managed to regain a good bit of strength over the Summer, even gaining some weight back, but fighting against the horrible eating habits she had developed while cursed was an ongoing battle. A battle the community was now privy to, thanks to her and her big mouth, and Shiress thought if one more person patted her on the back and congratulated her for eating one more time, she might...

"Here you go, Shiress."

Shiress jumped at the sound of Stu's voice and jerked her head around. The man stood at the counter grinning at her, obviously amused, and held out the two snack trays she had ordered. Placing two gold coins on the counter, she smiled, taking the trays from Stu with a polite "thank you" before turning to leave.

"Mommy's gonna have to learn to cook before we go broke," she muttered to Ian on their way out. The scowl the little boy offered up in reply had Shiress laughing, as he no doubt was remembering his mother's last attempt at cooking. No blade in Syka would have been capable of cutting through that chicken. Shiress's brows rose as she remembered that even Shadow had turned his nose up at the meat, choosing to relocate well away from the offensive stuff and aggressively clean a paw instead.

The walk back to the bungalow wasn't a long one, but the scrumptious smell wafting up from the snack tray made it feel like it was, and the loud growl Shiress's stomach let out had her and Ian both giggling like fools. They were still giggling when they stepped from the path and rounded a tree, but as soon as the bungalow came into view, Shiress's laughter trailed off, her steps slowed, and she frowned. A man was descending the steps of the small porch of her home.

Shiress's eyes widened as her brows shot skyward; she'd know those striking blue eyes anywhere. "Shade?" Shiress called.

At the sound of the Monk's name, Ian's gaze shot up to Shiress and then over to where Shade stood. The little boy's face lit up with a gasp of delight as he yelled, "Shade!" and before Shiress could say or do anything, her son had darted away from her side and was throwing his little arms around Shade's waste, "I missed you so much," he said, arms tightening their hold, "mommy missed you too! Didn't you say that just the other day, mommy?"

Ian's head swiveled around to look at Shiress for confirmation. Shiress cleared her throat as she felt her cheeks ignite and smiled somewhat guiltily. She opened her mouth, ready to call her son back, but the four-year-old turned his attention back to Shade and spoke before she could, "Mommy told Lexi that you was a asshole, but said she was a witch and a'served it."

"Ian!" Shiress's mouth fell open in shock, the trays in her hands wobbling dangerously as she stared in horror first at her son, then Shade, then back at Ian. How had the kid heard that when she and Lexi had been standing outside and whispering!

"Can you stay for lunch?" Ian asked, his green eyes, so much like his mother's, wide and pleading as he gazed up at the man, "Can Shade stay, mommy?"

Shiress shook the shock from her face, "Of course," she said, glancing at the Monk with a soft and, she hoped, inviting smile, "if he wants to, but if he can't today, if he's too busy, then maybe he can come back another day," Meeting Shade's gaze, Shiress dipped her head to indicate the trays she held, "We have plenty, and you're more than welcome."
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Peace Offerings

Postby Shade on October 9th, 2022, 7:41 pm

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Shade turned, spotting Shiress and Ian. The little boy ran at him, wrapped arms around his legs, and Shade automatically swung him up into his arms. “First, I’ve told you as many times as there are stars in the sky that it is impolite and very bad to listen in on your mother or even other adults when the conversation doesn’t include you. Secondly, I think assholes are much needed. Your belly would swell up and explode if you had nowhere to void your waste, and that would hurt.” Shade said, thumping Ian’s belly.

Then he continued. It wasn’t his business, really, but he had his say anyhow. “Thirdly, I do believe Syka is rife with witches. You’d better not let Caiyha’s followers hear you say that. Witches are a good thing and help bind us to the land.” He added, having no idea if Shiress knew the blessed with Caiyha’s marks were called Witches. Taking a deep breath, he continued.

“And finally, Ian, I don’t know who sired you, but everyone with half a brain knows that if you tell everyone everything you know, no one will like you because they will consider you unworthy because you repeat their secrets. It’s only when you keep secrets that people trust you with secrets to keep. No one wants to be friendless and considered untrustworthy, which is what you will be. I certainly wouldn’t tell you any of my secrets with the way you’re tattling to me about the things you overheard your mother saying when you’ve been told its wrong to listen in.” He said firmly, then to reinforce his words, he put the boy down and deliberately ignored him to turn back to Shiress. When Shade was his age, he was breaking rocks in a quarry to get coppers just to eat every few days. He was not sulking about listening in on others’ conversations and then repeating them to random people without prompting.

The truth was, Ian made him uncomfortable. His father was an unknown and the God of Evil and Chaos gave him a protective monkey that was tough enough to kick Shade’s ass without breaking a sweat. If he didn’t know any better, the child was already destined for Rhysol’s Service whether Shiress wanted it or not. But that wasn’t something they’d talked about, not in depth. Shade was infinitely glad to have that stuffed aberration out from under his roof. Stuffed or not, Shade knew pure evil when he saw it. Lords knew Nyka was rife with it before the Monk had left.

The child needed discipline and he obviously had none. Ian had no idea how lucky he had it. His belly was full, he had a woman to spoil him, and never had to worry about a place to live or that someone would kill him just for fun because no one even remotely cared if he lived or died. Children needed two parents – a mother and a fathe

And well, Shiress… she evidently hadn’t focused on parenting while she’d been gone. The Monk inhaled and exhaled slowly, a sigh stretching out. “Hello Shiress.”

Shade shook his head thoughtfully. “No thank you. I’ve eaten. I’ve just dropped off something I’d promised to make you a while ago and an arrangement of flowers to hopefully warm your new home.” He said thoughtfully, glancing at Ian and then back at Shiress. He didn’t want to impose on their meal. They even went out somewhere and got something. Stu’s place? Probably. Shade offered them a smile.

“When you get back from lunch, would you like to go for a walk? I thought I’d take a trip to Treasure Beach to see if anything washed up on the beach after last night's high winds and high tides. Someone… Mathias I think… was telling me it’s a really nice place to beach comb.” He offered, thinking a nice long walk might be just the thing. Treasure Beach was technically a part of Syka proper so they could go there without a ranger. It might be fun to see if anything washed up from the sea.

"I'll be at Stu's for a bit if you decide you want to come." He added, then turned and walked away.


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Last edited by Shade on October 18th, 2022, 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Peace Offerings

Postby Shiress on October 15th, 2022, 6:21 pm

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Being a doctor, Shiress thought she had a pretty decent handle on reading people. Shadekas was not one of them.

Whether directly or indirectly, the Nykan Monk's words always seemed to be armed with some sort of barb aimed at either herself, her parenting, her past, or, really, anything involving Shiress. The barb hidden within a seemingly innocent lesson for Ian was not lost on Shiress. A lesson from a man who isn't a parent, no less. She wondered if Shade had ever spent a lot of time around kids. Actually, Shiress realized she didn't know much at all about the Monk.

Who's to say the man didn't have a child back in Nyka?

Shade didn't know much about Shiress, either, and what the man did know was gleaned from the events of the curse, meeting Eenie, and the subsequent explanation of how Ian had been given the horrible guard monkey. Shiress hadn't even told Shade that the monkey had only ever shifted into a corporeal form since arriving here in Syka. Had the curses that plagued the small community had something to do with the stuffed toy manifesting into a terror? Perhaps.

In Shade's eyes, the fault lay solely with Ian's mother for asking The God of Evil to protect her, at the time, unborn child. Maybe the Monk was right. He probably was right, but what else was she to do at the time? It wasn't like she had requested to be in the presence of such a deity or given the option to forego the quest Rhysol had set before her. Shiress had been pregnant, scared for her baby, and desperate. Asking for protection for the unborn child had seemed right. Had she ever explained that to Shade? No, she hadn't.

Shiress watched Shade speak to Ian with a slight tilt of her head, studying him. Honestly, Shiress didn't think the Monk cared enough even to listen if she attempted to share the details. His mind had been made up about Shiress, and she didn't feel any amount of talking or explaining would dissuade the Monk's feelings toward her. Shade was a man on the outside looking in, only his line of sight had been obscured by events beyond anyone's control. First impressions were crucial, and his impression of Shiress had been marred from the beginning and would probably stay that way.

Shiress tried to ignore the twinge of hurt Shade's long, disfavoring sigh gave her. Gods, the Monk was a conundrum. The man obviously abhorred Shiress, yet he brought her gifts. She gave the man a smile that didn't quite meet her eyes.

"Hey, Shade," she said, hoping the hurt feelings his sigh caused didn't transmit to her voice.

The decline to join her and Ian for lunch wasn't a surprise, though, giving him an understanding nod, but the invitation to join him for a walk to Treasure Beach surely did. So much so that Shiress agreed to join him without much thought with a deluge of "Thank yous, and sounds like fun," then Shade's motive for the visit had her snapping her mouth shut and stepping around him to see the flowers and small velvet box waiting for her by the door. This time the smile that split Shiress's lips was genuine appreciation.

"Oh, Shade," she said, wonder in her voice, "those flowers are just beautiful!"

Stepping past the Monk, Shiress closed the distance to the gifts and knelt, running the tip of a finger along the silken surface of one bright orange flower before reaching for the small case resting beside the vase. Pulling open the top, Shiress let out a little gasp, eyes widening upon seeing the necklace and earrings within. She had known the crystals she had found at the cenote would make pretty jewelry, but...these were absolutely eloquent.

Shiress lifted her widened, bright eyes to Shade, lost for words a tick before giving her head an almost imperceptible shake, "I've never had anything so beautiful, Shade." she said, and it was true. Her eyes fell to the jewelry again, studdering over her thoughts, "I never..I didn't think it...gods, Shade, they're perfect," lifting her eyes, she met Shade's gaze again before saying, "Thank you, Shade. Thank you so much."

Half a bell later, well after Shade had gone, leaving directions to meet him by the Tidepool, Shiress left Ian sitting at the table to finish up the last of his chicken and padded to her small bedroom, deciding it may be prudent to change into something more appropriate for swimming.

After donning the first half of her swimsuit, which looked more like a bra than a top to Shiress's eyes, she pinned her long, chestnut locks to the top of her head in a somewhat messy ponytail slash knot concoction that left the shorter, more rogue strands of hair to fall around her face and the tops of her slender shoulders, debating with herself whether or not she should wear the earrings and necklace.

The last thing she wanted to do was lose something at the beach, but she also really wanted to show Shade how they looked, especially against the beautifully etched roses on her skin. In the end, she pushed the earrings through the tiny holes in the lobes of her ears and looped the necklace around her throat that Shade had somehow measured perfectly to rest just above her breast, perfectly centered on her chest. The thought of plucking a petal to place in her hair from the arrangement crossed Shiress's mind, but she decided against it. Shade would probably accuse her of deliberately destroying his gift or something.

Shiress pulled on a pair of cotton shorts over the second half of her swimsuit before beckoning a now full-bellied and content Ian to change into his swimming shorts. They both slung bags around to their backs and headed out the door. Once on the porch, Shiress paused, pulling Ian to a stop. Frowning, she looked over her son critically before coming to a decision. Pulling the boy's backpack from his shoulders, she rummaged around until her fingers grabbed onto something soft and deceptively cuddly looking.

Eenie, in the form of an innocent-looking black stuffed monkey, stared up at Shiress with white, oddly prismatic eyes. A shudder ran through the doctor just before she tossed the stuffed monkey back into the house. The monkey bounced off the couch and landed on the floor. The thought of Shadow shredding the damned thing had Shiress smirking, but a glance at her feet told her that it looked as if Shadow would be joining their foray.

It was a somewhat guarded Shiress, excited Ian, and a trailing and very persistent cat that greeted Shade at the Tidepool. Shiress stepped up to the Monk, smiling proudly with a turn of her head, causing the earrings dangling from her ears to sway back and forth, and lifted a hand to touch the pendant on her chest.

"Well, how do they look," she asked, nearly bouncing on her toes for the man's approval.
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Peace Offerings

Postby Shade on October 18th, 2022, 2:06 am

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Shade grinned around his drink. He wasn’t exactly eating, no, he’d been leaned over the counter getting a quick word in with Stu when Shiress and her little family had come in. He quickly took in the cat, the child, and the bag in that order, then noticed the earrings in Shiress’ ears. He took a moment to admit the simple design suited her with the silver causing her creamy white skin to glow around it. “Not many women around here can pull off silver like you can. It sets off your milky white skin.” He said thoughtfully, as Stu snorted behind the counter.

Shade turned and gave him a glare. Stu only raised his glass at Shadekas. Then he gestured at Shade’s cup and the Monk shook his head. “Nope… me and the family are going to go hunting treasure on Treasure Point.” He said, his voice jovial at the joke as he stood up, laid a Miza on the counter and turned to Shiress.

“Ready?” He asked, then glanced at Ian. Before they could move a muscle, Shade started talking again, giving the boy instructions.

“You know we are going to be walking a long way, Ian. You must stick close to your mother and I, and keep an eye on your cat. I wouldn’t want something to try and eat it out there. We are going south on the main trail until it ends at the beach. If at any time you get separated, you get back on the path and go north… that’s up the beach not down the beach… and that will put you back here with people that can help you.” He added, being serious with the young man and wanting to stress what the little guy needed to do if he got separated or lost. “If you can’t find the path, find the sun… and go away from it. You will eventually hit the water… the sun rises in the east and sets in the west… and once you find the water… the beach… you can turn around and walk back towards the sun until you cross the cobbled pathway, okay?” He said, more for the boy’s sake than Shiress’.

Shadekas assumed Shiress had a map of the settlement and knew where most of the locations were. “Now… repeat to me what you are going to do if you get separated or lost?” Shade added, then paused to listen to what the boy had to say before he led the woman and her son out of the Tidepool and up the path to the cobbles. He turned south on them and walked with a brisk but not brutal pace. He hoped that the boy’s boundless energy would be channeled and somewhat muted before they got to where they were going and could worry less about him wandering off chasing a butterfly or following an animal trail or something.

“Have you heard about Treasure Point? Stu was just telling me about it.” Shade asked Shiress, looking a little excited to be on a trip of exploration and getting out of the Syka Commons for the day. Syka wasn’t Nyka, and sometimes Shade felt the lack of businesses and the lack of the bustle of a normal city acutely. Syka had its own merits and flaws, one he wasn’t willing to trade for Nyka’s charm and starvation, but that didn’t mean he didn’t enjoy doing something different. He smiled and all but whistled as they walked, eager to tell Shiress what he had learned from Stu.

“Anyhow, its this point south of here where pre-Valterrian treasure washes up quite commonly. Stu said there were two theories on it. One was that there are ruins just underwater off the point. And that the tides bring up artifacts. However, he says most items on the beach tend to look brand new, so that doesn’t make sense with something washed about by the sea. The other theory is that there is some sort of vortex or magical portal that sucks things from the past into the present… like the old gate system at The Watchtowers.” Shade added, looking happy to be out and about. His stride was easy, his dress casual, and he wore sturdy boots and carried a backpack that looked full of supplies. He leaned on a staff which he used to poke at suspicious things on the cobbles, creatures that could be snakes or something else equally dangerous.

“Have you found anything interesting beach combing since you’ve been here? I find all kinds of stones and twisted beautifully worn wood to use in flower arrangements along the coast. I just haven’t managed to make it this far yet.” He added, curious if these sorts of adventures were things Shiress liked to do. He had no idea what her leisure activities looked like. For all he knew, she sat around with her nose in a book and didn’t get out to see the jungle. Shade wasn’t studious like that. He like to get out and see places. He wanted to build up his abilities and knowledges about the jungle so he could go out alone and explore. There was something appealing about the structures rumored to be lost to the jungle. It could be a great influence on his metalwork or jewelry art for certain. Already the things he saw and experienced in and around Syka had a major impact on him. His style of craftmanship had changed subtly since he’d been here. He’d like to say it had refined, turning away from the garishness of Nyka’s tastes and transforming into more polished understated elegance.

“What kind of things have you two done for fun since you’ve been here?” Shade asked abruptly. He had no idea how much Shiress got out, but he was curious if she was doing any volunteer work or had managed to start any hobbies since she’d been out from under his roof. Maybe she’d tell him… maybe not. He might get a big fat ‘none of your business' from her. But Shade liked to think they could start over, have a more normal situation, and maybe even become friends. Trips like this might be the start of something like that. He’d much rather have her for a friend than an obligation she took advantage of or seemingly became determined to piss him off night and day by her inattention to her own safety or the wellbeing of her son.

He was happy to note Ian wasn’t carrying Eenie though unless the cursed creature was in the little pack Shiress carried.

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Peace Offerings

Postby Shiress on October 19th, 2022, 5:00 pm

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Shade's compliment surprised Shiress. Sure, she thought the man would admire his admittedly fantastic handiwork, but to say such kind words to her, about her, after...everything nearly unhinged her jaw.

Honestly, Shiress was beginning to realize that Shade was often just as quick to compliment her as he was to criticize. The gesture spoke of a man who spoke true, who spoke his mind, and the gods knew Shade spoke his mind frequently and without pause. Still, Shade's words had her face warming and color popping out on her cheeks.

"Thank you," she said, so unused to having anyone say anything kind about her badly scarred flesh, she had to bite back the automatic denial and contradiction that so often followed a compliment. Thankfully, her attention was snagged by Stu and Shade's exchange.

Shiress knew there was some joke between the two men, but she didn't quite know what it was. However, she could bet that it was at her expense and that the Monk was at the heart of the punchline. Shiress narrowed her emerald eyes at Stu, tempted to call him out on it, but thought better of it. She didn't know Stu well enough for that, and frankly, the man scared her. Instead, she turned her attention back to Shade with a nod, looking on as the man instructed Ian.

The little boy listened raptly as Shade spoke to him, his big green eyes round with interest. As soon as he was asked to repeat what Shade had said, Ian immediately spoke up. "I have'ta stay close to you and Mommy and watch Shadow, so nothin eats him," he said, bouncing on the heels of his feet, "If I get lost, I have'ta walk back up the path to here and someone will help me." Ian glanced up and over at Shiress, who nodded approvingly. Ian smiled proudly, turning his attention back to Shade, "If I can't find the path, I walk away from the sun, but when I see water, turn around and follow the sun and look for cobbles. Mommy says for me to remember to Never Eat Soggy Watermelon," he said, lifting a hand to point a chubby finger above his head, "Never," the finger lowered, and pointed to his right, "Eat," then down, "Soggy," and finally, he pointed left, "Watermelon," Ian grinned, pleased with himself and Shiress couldn't help but grin, too.

As they began to walk, Shiress started to become breathlessly aware of just how much taller the Monk was than her. For as graceful and languid as Shade's long-legged stride was, and as much as she admired the view as he strode ahead of her, Shiress had to jog every so often to catch up to him but managed to only stay a stride or two behind. Thankfully, she was in much better shape than she had been the last time they had been out and about. Ian, however, somehow managed to keep up with the man, trailing a stick along the ground for Shadow to chase.

Shiress had just taken in a breath to speak when Shade beat her to it, asking if she had ever heard of Treasure Point. She responded with, "No, I haven't," and was about to ask If Shade had before today when he continued. Judging by the man's tone, Shade had warmed to the subject and was enjoying himself, and that made Shiress smile as she listened to the story.

Up until he mentioned something about a magical portal, and her smile dulled a little as she missed a step. "A portal," she said, her voice a mix of wonder and apprehension, "I hope it doesn't suck people through, too." she tilted her head, "if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. You're right, anything in the water for that length of time would show some sort of damage or erosion, right? If there is a magic portal, I wonder where the other end of it is."

Shiress's steps slowed a bit as she thought about the magic portal she and several companions had gone through. They had ended up in a pre-Valterrian village inside a temple littered with artifacts. Shiress totally believed it was possible a similar portal was spilling artifacts into the present world. A chill ran down her back despite the warm temperature. Shade did not need to know about that little foray.

"Ian and I walk along the beach every morning before we leave for the Children's Pavillion," she said, plucking her son up off the ground and standing him straight after tripping over a playful Shadow. Ian bounced off, giving the black cat a verbal lashing on manors, his choice of words sounding distinctly Shade-like. Shadow, undeterred, veered off to wound his way around and between Shade's legs instead, and Shiress attempted to stifle a laugh by clamping a hand over her mouth.

"I often find really pretty and unusual-looking shells, and Ian has started a pretty nice collection of sand dollars," Shiress paused, thinking, "I've made it as far as the Komorebi Estuary, that's where I saw Rak'keli. I think we may pass by that way again. It's a very beautiful place. Ian and I tried to find it again alone, but all we found were very irritating macaques," she shuttered at that particular memory.

"To be honest with you, I haven't been exploring as much as I wish I could. I think I lack the confidence to go it alone. Lately, I've been designing a school for the children and a daycare, " she chuckled self-deprecatingly, "it may be taking me a bit longer and eating up any time that I would have to explore because I keep second-guessing my ideas."

"Mommy lets me color it, too!" Ian added helpfully.

Shiress fell quiet, contemplating, then asked, "What about you? What exciting places have you've ventured to or treasures you've found since coming to Syka?" Shiress paused again before adding, "Did Nyka have hidden treasures and beautiful places, too?"
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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
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Postby Shade on October 22nd, 2022, 2:59 am

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When he saw his longer stride was outpacing her, Shade slowed to a more leisurely stroll. There was no hurry today. They were out for a bit of light fun and playing on the beach. He didn’t actually expect to find treasure at Treasure Point, but just in case the place proved lacking… tucked into his pocket were some excess metal pieces he’d worked into little trinkets to make sure Shiress and Ian found little keepsakes if nothing else. The one he planned for Shiress was an elegant scrolled piece of metal that formed a little hook at the end. Its length was flattened and etched with roses. From the hook end, a little gathering of agates hung in a cluster to represent a flower. It was just a simple bookmark, one she could tuck into something she was reading or even a journal if she made notes of her patients.

For Ian, he’d made a little metal frog that was enameled in greens and reds that were mottled in a swirl of color. The tiny statues had red glittering eyes made out of inexpensive glass cut to look like gemstones. Shade looked forward to hiding the items in places the pair with him could easily spot them without getting caught. That meant distracting Shiress with an ‘Oh look at that….’ and a finger pointed into the distance. Shade didn’t know when he’d pull it off or how, but he’d watch for a moment. Ian would be easier, laying the frog where the boy would spot it easily enough. Grinning thinking about it, Shade pushed a partially fallen palm frond out of the way of the trio and kept the pace so Ian could keep up easily enough.

Ian handled the safety instructions very well, and Shade felt proud of the lad for picking up on what to do if he got separated from them for any reason whatsoever. He not only seemed to understand what he was supposed to do it but why he was doing it. Shade rewarded him with a pat on the shoulder and a “Perfect. Good job listening, young man.” Then turned to Shiress and offered a smile. “Same goes for you, you know. But I think you can figure it out easily enough. I don’t plan on abandoning you out in the jungle, but this is Syka and you never know.” He added, then kept walking.

They walked and chatted casually, with an ease between the three of them they hadn’t enjoyed when they’d all lived under the same roof with all the strain and uncertainty. Shade almost felt like he was out with a teen and a toddler rather than a full-grown woman with a child. Shiress didn’t look like most women her age. She’d taken good care of herself and had eaten and drank the right things. He could tell she’d never been a hard drinker or one of those that imbued substances that altered her perception. She had beautiful white teeth. Shade noticed smiles before he noticed breasts, and Shiress had lovely teeth. There was nothing less attractive to him than a woman with a mouth full of bad teeth or teeth that were off-color. She had high fine cheekbones that were lightly pink in the sun probably due to the brisk walk. He slowed even more and reached down for Ian’s hand. Then he grinned as Ian took Shiress’ hand and swung between the two adults.

Shade laughed. “Remember having that energy?” He asked Shiress then shook his head. “No? Me either. He’s lucky he goes and goes then crashes five minutes and goes again.” He added, pointing out some beautiful flowers along the way… some he’d come back for later for the shop. Flowers grew all over Syka and Shade was finding gathering inventory not a hard task at all. He enjoyed repeating what Stu had said about Treasure Point to the pair, feeling like an intellect knowing something they didn’t… even though it was just information he’d learned literally ten chimes before the pair had shown up.

That was one thing Shade was a bit worried about. His education was horribly lacking. He grew up in a rock quarry busting stones and learned to be a jeweler by sheer blind dumb luck. Shiress had a formal education, knew how to heal people, and that was intimidating. He’d never met a female doctor before. All the healers in Nyka were male. He wondered, almost absently, if she knew about men’s health like she must know about females and their health. He would have liked to ask her about it, and why she decided to become a doctor, but she’d told him a bit about her slavery and she didn’t want to bring up the past if it was painful.

“It's just a rumor, Shiress. I don’t know for sure… and since I’m not a mage, I probably couldn’t tell. It's just a silly story. I don’t know how else to explain it. But so far no missing people… especially beachcombers.” He added, knowing the things in his pocket were gleaming with their newness and he’d have a hard time convincing her they’d been under the sea for all of history. So he was glad they were talking about this upfront and casually.

The Monk laughed at Shiress talking about the macaques. “They are the most annoying things in and around Syka, aren’t they? I find myself dodging things they throw constantly if I get off the cobbled path.” He said, then as they walked further south, he started pointing something out. Off the cobbled pathways were side trails, and each trail had a small wooden sign denoting where it went to at the entrance to the side trail about a foot off the ground. When they got to the Komorebi Estuary’s turn-off, he pointed the sign out. “I have no idea how to find it by walking up the beach, but the cobbled pathway makes it a little easier to find things.” He added, glancing down the trail. He’d never visited the place himself, but he heard from Mathias that the fishing was excellent in the estuary.

“That sounds like an excellent use of time. There sure are a lot of the kids now… ten or twelve at least. They should have a school. I haven’t counted them all, but they are getting bolder where they roam off too, and usually in packs. I was hoping one might take an interest in Jewelcrafting or floristry and want to apprentice at the shop.” He said, shrugging. “Someone will come along when the time is right.” He added.

“If you ever want to go exploring…. I’d be up for a trip with you. We could even recruit one of the rangers to go with us and go deeper into the jungle. I’d like to see some of that.” He added, bending down to pick up something from the trail and gently placing it on the next available tree branch. At first, it looked like just an odd little stick, but the creature actually moved and Shiress could see he’d rescued a walking stick bug from the middle of the trail without batting an eyelash.

“Do you color her drawings lovely colors?” Shade asked Ian, without missing a beat. “What are your favorite colors?” He asked Ian, curious, as they walked along. “Mine is blue. What’s your mother’s favorite color?” Shade said, wondering if Ian had ever noticed.

“Collecting shells is pretty great. Did you see the Innkeeper does too and fills them with wax and makes candles out of them? I thought that was clever.” He added, then looked thoughtful. “I bet you could add shells to flower arrangements and they’d add a lot to the bouquets.” He said absently, looking like he was distracted as if designing new arrangements or jewelry in his mind suddenly.

“Nyka was old… and worn. Its treasures have long been looted and sold for coin. I think Nyka’s treasure lies in the fact that people survive there without realizing how little they survive on. Just coming here has taught me that. If you would have told a younger me that I would live in a place food would grow on trees and be abundant year-round for free, I would have laughed outright and thought you a drunkard.” He said smiling. “So no, no treasure in Nyka.” He explained, then went back to her first question.

“I haven’t traveled far. I went to see the pigs and I wanted to see the sawmill guy Lars who showed me his ashta. Those were cool animals. Randal wants to take me out surfing, and I think I’ll try it, but so far our free time hasn’t meshed enough to really make that happen. Honestly? My most important discovery was Mathias’ deck and the conversation there. I really enjoy this new settlement. I wished I knew about it when it first opened and was on that boat to first break ground here.” He added, moving them steadily southwards. They weren’t moving fast and they weren’t going to have more than a few hours on the beach before it started getting dark, but Shade had that covered. He’d tucked a covered lantern into his pack and had a couple of spare torches just in case.

“So… how about you and I and Ian play a game. We each get to ask each other a question… and we have to answer it honestly. But once you answer, you get to ask a question back. You can’t ask the same question you were asked. And that way we all learn about each other.” He suggested, looking hopeful. If Shiress and Ian agreed, he’d start the game.

“Ian, what do you want to do when you get older?” He asked the boy really seriously, suspecting the boy would name something all boys named… like being a famous soldier or maybe having been influenced by Syka something wild like a pearl diver. Shade couldn’t wait to see what Ian said. Then, with Ian’s question asked, Shade turned to Shiress as they walked. “Shiress… what is one thing you’ve always wanted to do in life yet haven’t done yet?” He asked, curiously. This was his chance to get to know the pair better in a casual environment without the stress that always seemed to follow them around.

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The Black Opal.
 
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Peace Offerings

Postby Shiress on October 26th, 2022, 2:10 am

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Shiress shook her head at the absolute worship on her son's face as he gazed up at Shade. Apparently, a little praise from the Monk was all it took for Ian's undying adoration. When Shane's attention swung to her with a sincere promise not to abandon her to the jungle's wilds, Shiress grinned, "I should hope not cause those macaques may not give me back. I think they like me."

Well into the journey, Shiress noticed that Shade had slowed his pace to keep up with her and Ian better. Yet another kindness that she would have suspected the man incapable of, but here it was. Shiress found herself wondering how many other small acts of kindness from the Monk went unnoticed and, regretfully, unreciprocated. When Shane reached down and took Ian's hand, yet another apology for her actions earlier in the season was on the tip of her tongue, but Shiress bit it back.

"I don't think I have ever had the amount of energy that boy has," Shiress replied, setting her feet to launch the boy up high between her and Shade, "The only time he's still is when he's sleeping." She added, laughing when Ian touched back down and took off, pulling a vine free of a bush to run with it along the path. Shadow going full-on predator as he ran behind it.

"You know," she began, speaking to Shade. At the same time, her eyes watched Ian play, "about what you said earlier, what if there were portals that took you back in time, and it wasn't just a rumor or silly story," she shrugged, side-eyeing her companion, "What are the Dovecotes if not a magical portal?" Gods but Shiress had the strongest desire to share her own experience with magical portals, but again, she bit back the urge. It wasn't because she didn't want to share the story; she feared the Monk's reaction to how she came by the portal. A story for another time, perhaps.

Shiress frowned, then scowled at the sign for the estuary, "Well, I was way off! I would have never found it again with the way I was going. I might have to take you up on that! Thank you, Shade," she added, sincerely, "that's a very kind offer."

Further up the cobbled trail, Shiress replied abruptly, "Sonora!" she spun to face Shade, stepping sideways, "Sonora loves jewelry, and I bet she would make a wonderful apprentice, and she's eleven, nearly the perfect age. Why don't you come by the Pavilion, and I'll introduce you two and see what you think?"

She watched as Shade gently plucked something off the ground and placed it on a branch. Going up on her tiptoes, she laughed, picking up a curious Ian so he could see, too. The little boy grinned, "It looks like a stick with legs!" then, to Shade's question, he said, "All the colors," the boy paused, thinking, before adding, "blue is mine, too, just like yours. Mommy's is lav.. lava...lavad..."

"Lavender," Shiress provided.

Ian smiled, nodding his head as Shiress lowered him to the ground.

"I've seen the candles at the inn, but I had no idea Tazrae made them herself. That's very creative," Shiress paused, looking thoughtful, "You know, some of the shells I've found are huge! Big enough to use as a vase, I bet. Konkshells, I think, is what they are called, and they're colorful, too. Poke holes in the bottom for water to drain, and I bet you could sell or trade them like crazy."

When the conversation turned, and Shade began to speak about Nyka, Shiress felt her joy fade a bit, "Nyka sounds a whole lot like Sunberth," she said, frowning, "maybe a little less wet and muddy, though, but a whole lot of survival. There was no treasure there, either, nor food. So, I think we've both come a long way," she grinned, "Literally."

Shade didn't tally on the subject of Nyka for very long, and Shiress didn't feel like prying, even though she ached to know more about where the Monk grew up. More about the Monk period, but she figured Shade had limits to what he would share, and Shiress didn't know them yet. Instead, Shade veered back to the telling of his adventures, and Shiress couldn't help but nod, "Oh yes, I've ventured to that same deck," she smiled, " Oh, and if you do end up attempting to surf, I'd love for Ian to see. I think he'd love it," she frowned, "wait, what's a...ashta?"

As they walked and chatted, they passed by a bush that had once been vibrant but now looked half dehydrated and on the verge of death, its purple flowers wilted and drooping. Perhaps the canopy of trees above it kept the rainwater from reaching it? Or maybe an animal had dug around its roots one too many times? Shiress moved closer so that her hand could brush against its dry and brittle tines, and like a wave of color left in the wake of her touch, the bush bloomed green, and the purple flowers plumped and lifted as Bala's gift flowed through her fingertips and into the small bush.

Several flowers fell from the engorged bush, and Shiress scooped up three, planting one behind her ear and another behind one of Ian's. Taking several steps ahead, she rounded on Shade, walking backward, and, smiling, stretched up to place a flower behind one of his ear, "A game sounds fun," she replied, still smiling as she admired her handiwork.

Ian, evidently unable to think and walk simultaneously, halted his footsteps and scrunched up his face, thinking. Shiress backtracked and nudged him to get him going again, "I want to be a sailor like Captain James," he said, surprising Shiress, whose eyebrows shot skyward.

For her question, she couldn't help but chuckle, "Well, had you asked me that before the end of Spring, I would have said it would be to ride on the back of a Wind Eagle, but," she paused, "I've always wanted to free a slave for every year that I was a slave. So..." Shiress didn't look sad, not even regretful, just thoughtful, "eight slaves," she shrugged, glancing over at Shade, "more if possible, but that is something I've wanted to do for a long time."

Shiress turned to Ian, who looked up at her expectantly, "Where would be the first place you sailed to," she asked, continuing the game. As Ian's little face again scrunched up in thought, she turned her attention to Shade, contemplating the Monk a tick before asking, "And if your best friend, Ian, offered to sail you anywhere in Mizahar for free, where would you want to go and why?"
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Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars

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Shiress
Every path has a few puddles
 
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