Sorrow & Veil

Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

March 27th, 2018, 4:03 am #1

It had been several months since the final battle with Maedaigh, and Shell continued to pick up the pieces with the rest of the country.

It had been in this eerily-silent place, deep into the forest, very near to where the Pale Tree once stood, that her sister Khana fell. She had marked the spot with the dragoon's lance, sticking it into the ground and tying her signature crimson ribbon around beneath its head. It was a poor representation of what she had really truly valued, but it was the best Shell could do with what her sister had left behind. Now, she stood before it, hands filled with a small, but neatly-tied bouquet of early spring flowers from her own garden.

She smiled, and knelt, laying the flowers at the base of the lance: it was a sad and wistful look, but her sister had been so unfailingly cheerful that it felt wrong not to smile for her. Shell laid her hands on her knees and regarded the marker, the area -- the shrouded grove that lay just beyond it -- with struggling melancholy.

"I'm sure you're listening," She said softly, then realized she didn't know what else to say. For a few moments she sat there in silence, until finding the will to continue. Every word felt heavy and painful to muster.

"I thought you were lost to me for so long. I never even thought about what I'd do if I saw you again. Even when I found out that you'd Fallen, that you were here..." She paused and swallowed a hard, dry lump, "I didn't know what to do. I was so happy.... but I felt so sad that you had to wander around here in such a frail body too. Was it wrong of me to feel sad for you this way...?"

There was a long, drawn-out silence. A slight breeze tugged at her clothes and hair, but it felt empty.

"I think it was," She finally said. "You were never unhappy. Even at the end.... even through your pain, you were still in a good mood...." Squeezing her eyes shut, Shell lost her smile and buried her face in her knees, and her voice became low and strangled.

"...I wish I was brave like you..."

For many minutes she remained this way, crying quietly in the forest, sitting with her sorrow, until the wind picked up and gently pushed her: she rocked on her heels to keep balance, then stood, teary eyes drawn to the ribbon at the end of the lance, then to the patch of sky above it.

Empty, and become air.

Her eyes closed and she allowed the breeze to go through her, warping only around the Pearls she had collected: those were the only reality she could count on, she reminded herself, and Khana's thrummed warmly in her spirit, filling her with same good cheer that her sister had always borne.

'Remember that little spot in the spirit world, by Tam's Oasis? That's where I'll be -- drinking wine and playing mahjongg all day long.'

The smile returned and she opened her eyes. Perhaps it was silly to feel so sad when Khana was having such a good time. She was happy -- that was what really mattered. Shell reached up and scrubbed the wetness from her face, regarding the lance with different eyes.

"Look at me.... some things never change, huh?" She laughed a little, though it was a weak, hoarse sound.

There was a mild crackling in the undergrowth and it drew her attention through the uncanny silence that pervaded the area. Her instincts sharp, she glanced around behind her at the treeline, through the bushes, beyond the twisted roots and grove ahead. Had someone else come to pay their respects to those who fell during the war...?

"Hello..?" Her voice was soft and shy, but not unfriendly. Out here in the middle of the woods she felt safe enough from human-shaped predators, and did away with her usual caution. "Is someone there..?"
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Tellicoe
Citizen of the World
Joined: March 19th, 2018, 6:05 pm

March 31st, 2018, 12:37 am #2

A breeze wafted through the earthen skirts Tellicoe wore. On this far occasion, she saved her best leather pants for another time. Ferns and leaves of many names almost seemed to giggle in movement as she past. Ko was not aware if the breeze had come from her -- balance saved her an explanation for the change in weather.

The forest was another room in a formal manor house, if we were generally speaking about Faeries, mainly this one. Ko never belonged to any specific court. She answered to no majesties or spouses, no families or commitments. The freedom she harbored was exhilarating and over all accounts she stopped frequently to be gracious of it.

However, with such liberties, a cost casted over her lithe demeanor. Ko hadn't had much care for politics -- Faery or otherwise. News came either the day-of, or weeks later. There was no need to stay in a place where warring differences took up the fields of energy that kept her sane. She needed her sanity -- the ease of control she felt when her emotions were not at odds with those in her environment. And in doing so, Tellicoe was much like a child: innocent and ignorant. Anything from building and building a storm more disastrous than War itself . . . Or alas, that was how she felt.

She had a taste for impeccable timing, it would seem, to choose a precious moment to writhe out from the chaos before honor and heart spilled onto safe-haven ground. Ko found it very unfair -- those who had risked everything for their voice, or the voices of their masters. And what was freedom, to the eyes of someone else. Did it look different? Feel different? Did the air smell a certain way, or the endless joy that she felt daily come to those who fought for their right of freedom?

Tellicoe meandered through a thicket, pushing back vines that drooped suddenly when the wind deemed it necessary to block her path. Though, Ko never minded. Vines made excellent wreathes for the festivals and holy days. Festivals and holy days meant indulgence -- something Ko loved very much.

Another breeze sighed and whispered against the aching moans of the trees. Ko glanced up to their canopies and wondered if the younger trees would soon snap. Wind could be merciful. No trees were threatened to fall just yet.


Yet something in the air changed then . . .

Oh, what was it . . . The foreshadowing of the seasons transcending from Winter to Spring? No. Well, yes -- but no. There was another sensation. An entity, separate from other Beings here in the forest. Two -- three, even? The waves of energy rippled into indistinguishable eddies. It was curiosity which Ko answered to. Intrigue held on like a mistress with a short leash, expecting Tellicoe to obey a command.

Closer, closer, closer.

Shadows and light deepened into form. A lance. A female Being. And a strange sigh of the breeze tickling the leaves. Ko paused and waited. Another breeze rustled past. This time, it hailed from the anxious pulse in the Faery's veins. Stream-brown eyes slowly blinked -- a cat waiting to see what a strange creature would do, and what she would do if the creature did something unfavorable.

The Being spoke. And to Ko's urging curiosity, the female asked aloud something completely normal. Someone was there. Tellicoe Stormbringer. Faery. Wanderer. Dancer to any town she detected worthy of her playful mood.

"I am here." Tellicoe glided away from a shadow and prettied her best curtsey. Diplomacy would win her peace. Politeness, after all, was the Good Law of the Faeries.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

April 9th, 2018, 10:50 pm #3

The company that presented itself was not what she expected -- but then, what did someone epect out in the middle of an enchanted wood? A charming-looking creature with a dainty demeanor and, apparently, impeccable manners.

"I am here."

Though the curtsey was unexpected, Shell returned it with a folded-hand bow, as she was accustomed to giving, and hoped it was friendly enough. This young lady didn't seem terribly concerned, however, rather like she was simply out for a pleasant stroll; these woods could have been her backyard, so seamlessly did she fit in. Shell felt suddenly a little intrusive, as though she had disturbed the pleasant air this young lady exuded or walked in on a bouyant personal moment, a little piece of the spirit of the place shaped into a woman traipsing gracefully through the thickets.

"Ah, hello," Shell greeted with a small, friendly smile. There was an almost pixie-like quality about the girl's appearance, an innocence which belied great experience: this only came through the eyes, however, the rest seemed lighter than air, but the air pervaded the area immediately around her, tainting it with the surreal scent and feel of early autumn. Unsure of herself, but comforted by this beauty-beyond-the-senses, Shell proceeded with her shy introduction.

"Um... my name is Shell," She managed with another smile. "Don't mind me -- I'm just paying my respects."

With this she made her way back to Khana's lance and straightened the flowers she had set at the base, adjusting them slightly so the wind would be less likely to scatter them. When she stood, she shoved her hands deep in her pockets and sighed.

"It's really awful what happened, isn't it..?" Whether or not her new companion was listening, she continued: "So much heartbreak and loss on both sides.... and what did it earn anybody, save yet another haunted grove...? Such is the greed of those in power, I guess. In the end, She wasn't any different from the humans she hated so much: she created a swath of destruction for the sake of being right and having her way, not caring how many of her own followers suffered, or how much freedom they lost, for a cause that wasn't even theirs...."

A painful lump choked her throat and she rolled her eyes against it, turning her face skyward and laughing a little. "I'm sorry -- they also call me Little Miss Sunshine for my cheerful demeanor. I imagine you didn't come here for a lament to history..!"
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Tellicoe
Citizen of the World
Joined: March 19th, 2018, 6:05 pm

April 10th, 2018, 1:22 am #4

Tellicoe beamed at the gesture. How nice for another Being to show such great manners. This young woman was enchanting. Something about her face was mysterious yet it brought an ageless calm to the space around her. Ko made note of it immediately.

"Shell," Ko parroted. "Shell...Shell," as if tasting a foreign dish. "It's lovely! As is your intent. It's a very noble gesture to pay respects to those who have fallen."

Her delighted expression did not change as she trailed off, yet the tone was solemn. Ko, too, knew grief, but for her it was complicated. Feelings above all were complicated. At least it explained Shell's presence. Light flickered in her eyes when she remembered the young woman's manners.


And then... Something personal humbled Ko.

It's really awful what happened, isn't it..?
So much heartbreak and loss on both sides.... and what did it earn anybody, save yet another haunted grove...? Such is the greed of those in power, I guess. In the end, She wasn't any different from the humans she hated so much: she created a swath of destruction for the sake of being right and having her way, not caring how many of her own followers suffered, or how much freedom they lost, for a cause that wasn't even theirs.


"Might I ask whom it is you speak so dearly of?" Her tone was calm, nearly human.

After watching so many of those humans she had shown patronage to, she learned their demeanor -- when to ask softly, when to demand something, how you should not laugh at funerals, or cry at weddings...Ko pulled the 'supportive friend' from her collection of body language. Yet, still she felt humble. Shell has spoken so highly of whomever 'she' was -- someone close.

She considered the spoken words for what they were. Shell's laughter broke the silence, but Ko could smell the salt threatening to spill from her eyes. "Little Miss Sunshine," Ko mused.

Seemed very much the opposite of what Ko was. Stormbringer. And gods above, if anyone dared to call her Stormberserker... Ko wore the face of someone intrigued by the thoughtful stranger, but inside something brewed. Tellicoe still did not have a name for the feeling.

I imagine you didn't come here for a lament to history..!

"On the contrary, Shell," she purred, and bowed her head discreetly. "I believe there is much to learn from the past -- should only we have means to unlock its secrets, with no ill-will attached."

Oh such rhetoric...The Faery could not simply say that she pushed history off for most of her long years and until the past thirty or so years, held an open ear for any information she could find. But of course, Ko was too proud to admit to such a thing. And, there was truth in her words. Ko did truly believe what she told Shell, that to build a future, one must understand the foundation that structured the present moment -- for that's what it was, a gift.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

May 16th, 2018, 9:17 pm #5

The mysterious lady seemed rather sweet, and, though perhaps it was the arrangement of her facial features, something about her smile made Shell feel a little less mournful. She found herself smiling a little in response, some of the pall lifting, a breeze shifting the leaf litter.

"Might I ask whom it is you speak so dearly of?"

For a moment, she thought about it. "Maedaigh," She replied, peering down at where the roots of the Pale Tree once embedded themselves in their borrowed earth. "She wasn't the one I lost, but.... now that I think about it, I wonder what she was like before she was who the world remembers her as. People aren't born bad -- she thought herself a Goddess, but she had to have began somewhere, experienced life, perhaps suffered by it. Just like the rest of us..." She paused.

"My sister, Khana, she was who I lost. She protected a friend of ours when the assault on the Pale Tree was in full swing, but she was hurt too badly to continue, and... died later, in the medical tent. Saved our friend's life though, and the battle was won, so she died very happy." Shell remembered those last moments: even in her pain, Khana had never stopped smiling, like she alone knew the best joke in the world.

Her own smile widened a little, though her heart still sagged. It had given her comfort to know that Khana had gone happily enough, and though she knew her sister's happiness was the most important thing in this case, there was still pain for her own personal loss. Life was like that sometimes.

Tellicoe's voice brought her back to the present, and she paid attention to it gladly, nodding in agreement.

"Yes! That's an excellent way to look at it," She responded honestly, another cool breeze tugging at them like a child on an adult's hand, "And who might you be, if I may ask..? It's not common to find a critical thinker out in the middle of the boonies like this."
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Tellicoe
Citizen of the World
Joined: March 19th, 2018, 6:05 pm

May 30th, 2018, 4:26 pm #6

(Content Warning for gruesome imagery!!!)


"I am Tellicoe Strombringer," she addressed with a straightened pose. A wide grin beamed on her face.

With a thoughtful expression, she added, "Oh, hum. I don't think these parts are so bad. There is a great mystery here. A solemn silence to behold to which one can remain present and sincere to a dying day, with an undying moment."

Her strange eyes flickered with a winking light, casted down from the beams dappling the leaf-littered forest floor. "Your sister," her voice softened, keeping her eyes wistful. "For her to have died with a just cause, and at the risk of a selfless act -- that is something strong." Ko couldn't put her finger on what it was she was trying to convey, but it was something along the lines of noble wisdom.

In a dark shadowy world of memory, Ko refused to bring up her own past. Seeing people die of every age and shape. Hearing the rumors set by patrons in the taverns. Pillow talk in the intimate setting of an inn's rented rooms. Painful. That was how she remembered it. Painful like a sharp inhale with a knife stuck in your throat, or finding out your wife died during childbirth while on your way home from battle -- the reason why you fought, the fight for your own life. War was an estranged concept. But in terms of justice...

"I find it difficult to express my gratitude for you sister's sacrifice." Ko's eyes fell to the forest floor. Face, blank. "Valiant and noble. War is a trite cause. But saving someone, whether you know them or not. That is true bravery, and the victor of selfless love -- that is the bravest thing I've ever beheld."

But it only romanticized a painful death in the act of war. A friend of hers told Ko of her own personal accounts of nursing the sick and wounded back to health.
The stench of infected wounds. Glazed-over eyes still as stones. Flies and maggots cleaning what the others could not bare to do without vomiting. Exposed bones from awful fractures. Severed body parts. And yet the most frightening thing was to hear of those missing -- no bodies to count for the dead, wounded, or still in battle. But missing. A hard tale to bear hearing from a beloved friend.

"A critical thinker? I don't think is I. I've just existed. Thoughts are like dust motes. They belong to us, and yet they float and hang whimsically in the capricious air. They only come to us if we allow them to."
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: February 17th, 2017, 9:55 pm

July 13th, 2018, 10:21 pm #7

It was with a painful sort of pride that Shell recieved Tellicoe's words, pride for being associated with the person she spoke so well of -- pride that someone, who was a complete stranger to both of them, understood so deeply the importance of the sacrifice Khana had made for Ylsa, when Shell herself had said so little about the actual event. She swallowed a hard lump and her smile became strained.

"Valiant and noble. War is a trite cause. But saving someone, whether you know them or not. That is true bravery, and the victor of selfless love -- that is the bravest thing I've ever beheld."

A quiet sob shook her, and she covered her face with one hand suddenly, lowering her head a little in bittersweet gratitude. She had heard a lot of kind words from those who knew about that day and what happened, but few had been so touching as what she heard from this woman.

After a few moments she gave a great sniff and composed herself, wiping her wet eyes with the hand that had covered them, and lowering it. She offered Tellicoe a smile as recompense. "I'm sorry -- that was a very sweet thing to hear, I think I really needed it."

It turned out the girl was full of wisdom: with her next response, Shell felt suddenly disassociated, then crashed back into herself.

They only come to us if we allow them to.

It was something that, in all her time, she had either not really considered, or had lost to her chronic memory-erasure. Certainly she had heard or read or figured that, generally, there was a certain degree of permission that one gave to their feelings and to their pain which gave them power to dominate the psyche -- but sometimes, people need things to be put a certain way, and the way which Ko described it happened to register with Shell. It had never felt like an option before: always she had fought the invasive thoughts, memories, and emotions that were unpleasant, just as she knew to fight physical threats. It had never worked, of course, because thoughts were not like people. Perhaps Tellicoe was more right than she even believed, and perhaps a more gentle, passive approach was necessary.

Gentility had always been Juran's strong suit. Maybe in this way she could bring herself closer to who she used to be.

"Great wisdom comes from you," She commented sincerely, "You speak from a right-minded, soulful perspective, one I resonate with on a fundamental level. You've given me much to think about in this short space of time."

At that moment a gust of wind, much more powerful than the gentle breezes that had preceded it, pulled hard at them, and Shell had to brace her footing to keep from being literally blown over. A deep resonating sound, unmistakably and eerily similar to the drawing in of breath, emanated from deep within the grove that stood where the Pale Tree once did.

Shell turned her head to locate the source, unsettled: the breeze that blew seemed to be funneling towards the grove from which came the sound of the breath; the grove's treeline, which had appeared so normal before, now seemed to be curving in an archway. The forest behind them had thickened and now looked impassable, seeming to trap them in a strange arboreal circle with the foreboding grove at its center.

The sky was as bright as ever with the daytime sun; but on the ground, things were unsettlingly dark.

"What happened to the sun..?" She wondered aloud; things were taking on a dreamlike, surreal quality, and the simple phrase which was meant as a vague joke made her wonder what happened to Khana, even though she indeed already knew. The association left her feeling momentarily confused, and she turned to Tellicoe, rubbing her forehead with a hand in confusion. "Let's... let's go in there and try to get it back."
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