Cider by Candlelight

Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:39 pm

He glared. They parried angles with their words, their stares. Every time that his eyes came across her, she ceded, turned her cheek against the slatted planes of her bonnet. Every accusation and sharp retaliation for the sake of right and wrong brought with it the need to absolve, expiate, explain. Talk of games, of playing; he said it all to the twinkling pin-pricks in the black canvas of the sky as if it would hear better than she ever could.

But over the off-time flickers of the candles, each nestled warmly within the glass and iron of the lantern at their feet, he struck. It was not a knife-point or a spear-head, but a sledge--

I'm not s-stupid, b'lettah.

"I never said you were stupid," she said, a wheeze of vapor coiling out of her lump of a nose. "I would never say that. I would never, for a moment, even insinuate it. And don't -- don't, for so much as a half-blink's time -- lie to yourself and assume that's what I think. You know me better than that. More than anyone else does."

A particularly brilliant fleck of snow became her victim. She hiked her skirts, turned her foot at the ankle, and gave a great sweep of her boot, dashing away the offending flake with a broad heave from her boot.

"I despise knives. Particularly ones wielded by little paws that haven't earned my trust. I'm fighting with you right now, not because I enjoy it, but sometimes because your eyes shine far too brightly on everything around them to see all the miniature shadows. You see friends, playmates, and a whole legion of underprivileged vermin. I understand that. It's -- it's who you are; it's why you're a squire."

She inhaled and mounted her hands on her hips, drawing calmer, more composed circles in the snow with the edge of her boot.

"But I see forty-six days on a boat. I'd -- I'd never seen a boat before. I spent forty-six days covering my ears because the splashing and gurgling of the water against the other side of the hull kept telling me that at any minute, it was going to blast through all the knots in the wood and drown me. Forty-six days surrounded by men and women I didn't know, emptying my guts into my lap and -- and shitting on myself because there wasn't even a candle to see anything by, and my legs were too tangled in everyone else's to move. And if the water was calm, if the rest of the slaves and human cargo in that vessel stopped their coughing and whimpering and whispering enough--"

The girl rubbed a finger along the bulging dryness of her lower lip, giving the skin no more respect than she might a swollen pustule.

"Scraping in the walls, between the outer hull and the inner compartments. Claws making music as they scrabbled back and forth, back and forth. Hundreds of fist-sized stowaways chittering and -- and nickering. Bulging bodies scampering across your feet or gnawing and sucking at the sweat at your sleeve-hems. The strangest breathing, sniffing, croaking creatures with worms for tails dipping their -- their hands into puddles of sick to taste it, eat it, and savor it. Men and -- and women finding the meat from the warmest parts of their ankles and palms gnawed off in patches and pinches as they slept.

"And to imagine," Gloria said, "if they'd had swords."

She hooked a blunted fingernail underneath the snag of a brittle tooth. Chewed. She scraped at the inside of her cheek to rid it of a redolent gem of sea-salt that wasn't there. She didn't know why she thought of those things, right then; relevant, indeed, but unnecessary, disconnected from fact. He might say But those rats aren't Forzo--

So when he asked his question -- why w-would F-forzo leave d-dead rats as a w-warning -- the girl bit off a hinge of yellow nail and spit it into the snow at her feet.

"You know Son's penchant for eating: meat, bone, even marrow. Forzo isn't a fool, Cherny. He knows a jab from a makeshift sword wouldn't dissuade Son in a fever of hunger. He's taking precautions, as any beast might. He's -- he's marking boundaries and belongings with blood.

"This is my territory. I have got family to protect."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:06 am

It's a story - no, an account she's spoken of in passing, only as an interval between there and here; a lost doll, sickness from the ship's motion, snips and scraps of recollection mentioned only as something brought it to mind.

He can scarcely envision it. He's seen the boats on the lake, and must imagine them larger - big as a house, big enough to hold dozens of people at a time. The hold, that dark space of creaking timbers he must picture as something like an inverted loft that sways and groans, tilting this way and that; saturate the air with the stink of middens, of latrines, of human sickness; crowd it with the desperate and the despairing, not all of whom will ever set foot on land again. Fill the foetid darkness with the scratch of scrabbling claws, matted and greasy fur and sharp, sharp teeth that bite and gnaw.

Imagine a beloved sister trapped in such a prison, a girl, a child clutching her precious doll for forty-six days and nights.

It has him quietly horrified, unable to meet her gaze. Unable to find adequate words with which to apologise for his anger for words harsher than they ought to have been. Harsher than she deserved for her concern.

"He's n-not like that." A weak protest, insufficient to ease her fears, but all he can offer for now. He draws a deep breath that is released as a tired sigh, coils and plumes of vapour spreading and fading into the night.

"I'll ask h-him. Ask him w-why."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:44 pm

There was vulnerability in that story. She believed herself, at times, impenetrable; such a descriptor wasn't true, wasn't accurate, but she wore her bleak skin and tarsweat as though they were her crests, her birthrights, her coats and shields and battlements. But around Cherny, more than anyone, the shield-straps grew heavy and the mail became a burden. She stopped tracing circles in the snow with her boot-tip, for the patterns had muddled and knotted themselves in unclear twists. There was just a flattened sprawl of snow in front of her, a sloppy work in white that bore the prints of her leather soles.

I'll ask h-him. Ask him w-why.

Her chin dipped down, then raised. A nod.

"It -- it frightens me, sometimes," the girl admitted, savoring the quietness of these words against the bombastic regurgitation of memory she'd brandished against him only minutes before. "Frightens me, in ways that it ought not to, that you're so kind. Confuses me that, with all the insoluble morality wrapped up inside of your chest, I'm forced to wonder where all the ribs and organs are. And -- and in reaction, I become violently opposed to anything that might endanger that.

"The bigger a heart, all that more easy for it to break, whether at the hands of men or the whims of rats."

The admission was not wholly sensible. The seamstress was an unreliable fulcrum: on one side, there were the weights and learnings of rhetoric and logic, times when she could muster her tongue in sureness and patience; in opposition, there was another Gloria, the one who preferred fists, insults, and mauls made out of iron words. Cherny -- millboy, squire, first friend, t'oddah -- challenged her to master her balance somewhere between the them, forced her to prance with improbable toes on the thin chain that separated those two vastly polarized girls--

"I take pride," she said, "in some foolish things. Of those, you're the only one that makes sense."

A little smile.

She reached down for the lantern, lifting it, shedding light on the winter-washed lawn around them, a swath of flickering orange. Their shadows stretched like mangled stains, reaching into the night.

The whole world was still theirs, their privacy uncompromised.

The girl softly asked him, "The crows. The rats. This proclivity.

"When did you discover it?"
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:20 am

It goes like this between them in their disputes; in their disagreements, for while their opinions have differed they've rarely truly fought. They clash, each arguing their own point, with varying degrees of frustration or impatience on each side. Tempers fray, voices become forceful, emphatic - and then it breaks like a fever, emotions subsiding into something like compromise; each of them yielding, each of them accommodating the other's views to some extent.

Siblings by choice and a single drop of blood, but that bond is strong enough to keep arguments from becoming rifts.

"I'm n-not made of, of glass." A boy's protest, a boy's pride in the face of concern; he is made of sterner stuff, and his sister's worry - while acknowledged - is, to a boy's mind, unnecessary. "And he'd n-not. Forzo'd not" break my heart "h-hurt me."

A moment's pause, then a blink and a pressing of lips into a thin line, an overstated frown as if to chide her for trying to sneak something past him.

"I'm not a f-foolish thing, either."

Still, the tension is eased, his hunched shoulders more to do with the cold than the words between them, and as she lifts the lantern he can't help but glance back towards the relative warmth of the stables.

Proclivity.

"It's n-not a, a thing. Anyth-thing like that." Anything like what her oblique words imply, a strangeness like Zinniah's overhearing thoughts or the way plants thrived under Catch's touch. Nothing like that at all, his tone protests. Nothing to discover.

"I'd c-cut up Many-Fights' f-food by the sh-shed, and crows'd c-come for the scraps. So I k-kept feeding them and m-made friends. They h-had babies - last s-spring - and I m-made friends with them t-too." His shrug dismisses it as a straightforward, obvious thing. You feed animals, they grow to like and trust you. "S-same with Forzo. I, I h-had supper in the l-loft. He c-came to, to steal the c-crumbs I'd left, so I s-started feeding him and made f-friends. Played g-games, taught him tricks. Like with the c-crows."

Another shrug marks the end of his account - and that was that, little more to be said about it. A simple tale.

"It's j-just being kind, is all."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:15 pm

"Even when our three or four years of separation becomes less a canyon the older we get," she said. "Even when your life is all armor and leather-oil, sword-point and strategy, I will see you as glass -- wrong as I may be on that matter, unfair as it may seem.

"But wrath hasn't a face as ugly, a fist as sturdy, or eyes as blind as family. Should your squirehood ever lead you to -- to a bloody field, my needles will lay more men dead than any sword ever could, should harm have the gall to come to you. That's my right, as a sister. It's my most precious valuable."

An arrow had proved otherwise. He wasn't glass. He was stone. He was, like bedrock or obsidian, invincible. Nor was he a foolish thing, except in this:

"Correction: Foolish only for -- for that you inspire me to speak in poorly-formed poesy."

With the lantern dangling from one hand, an illuminated bauble, and the other wound up in a stout fist, she struck her bruised knuckles easily against the crest of his shoulder. He spoke, and through the stutters and self-discretion, she read him the way she could no book. She needed no black oil nestled against her gum to translate his quiet discomfort, would haven't even needed eyes to measure the plains beyond his meager shrug.

She thrust the rattling lantern in his direction, offering the wire handle, urging him to take it from her.

"Hearing words and language in the whispers of rats isn't -- isn't merely a symptom of kindness. Finding the patience or the resolve to take a meager creature and help him master the art of a blade isn't simply a dedication of time. Give me ten thousand days, and I imagine I couldn't recreate the same result."

If he took responsibility for the flickering light, she'd cross an arm over her chest and begin to peel at the heel of her left glove, trying to dislodge it from the roundness of her wrist.

"Would it be wrong," the seamstress asked him, "if it were a thing, Cherny?"
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:33 am

His sister waxes lyrical on her devotion, her protectiveness, and the boy shifts self-consciously, sighing soft huffs of cloud into the cold air.

"That'd m-make you the foolish th-thing, b'lettah."

A faint grin with that counter-correction as he lifts a hand to accept the lantern - a cautious touch first to be sure the wire is not too hot before taking its weight and holding it aloft.

"You m-might be able to. If you h-had the, the t-time for it." And that's the core of it, how he's managed not to think too hard about how the creatures he has befriended have developed - from trust to tricks to games to cleverness to speech, after a fashion.

"Th-there's probably not m-many people who'd t-try. Maybe anyone c-could teach them t-tricks, but no-one d-does because they, they n-never thought of it." Which might make him special in a way, but not excessively so - someone who had an idea, someone who pursued it.

He's read tales with animals that talk like people, that behave something like people - often with the creatures serving as moral examples, vehicles for folkish wisdom. Sly foxes who trick the proud and pompous, or who are in turn bested by the wise and virtuous; brave mice who prevail by their wits against far stronger foes, or rapacious wolves who devour the others. In Myrken Wood, would that really be particularly strange? Would it be surprising to learn such tales to be somehow true? Normal?

"Maybe they c-can already talk b-but, but no-one listens."

Dark eyes warily follow the movements of her hand, tugging at her glove, aware of what lies beneath. Guessing at the demonstration that is sure to follow.

"It's n-not a thing. It's not m-me."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:55 pm

He held the lantern; she stopped in the removal of her glove long enough to look over her knuckles to him.

He denied. Even though he never employed his hands in the task, he constructed walls as heavy as those of any citadel, ones that separated him from himself--

On one side, a Cherny who
busied his time in tasks of the mundane:
equestrian care
mucking stables
the occasional mending of a torn sleeve;
once, a millboy
who sweated with all the effort of a grown laborer,
a mere child whose life had once been dreadfully near
to ending--

simple, concrete, flesh-and-blood.

On the other side, a Cherny who
discovered an affinity for crows
for rats
adept in their tutelage and their training,
beyond, perhaps, any others;
this, not so much an exercise of time or dedication
but the spark of something inexplicable,
a nubile discovery of some latent
thing--

complex, uncanny, occult.

No, he'd seen her silver before. He'd known that the flesh beneath that fabric was not natural. Its tidings would be useless. Her fingers crawled away, fell back to her skirts. This was not about her. This was about the boy who now lofted the lantern, whose recent discoveries had seen other futures -- it was only play, he'd said. But could it -- and would it, this teaching of rats -- ever become something with more weight, danger, and gravity?

"Maybe listening is a talent worthy of wonder as any other," said the seamstress, finally extending a hand toward him, trying to find his shoulder and arm and draw him close.

"But say you were to discover it was more than that. That it was the result of something that lay dormant, until these past few weeks. A droplet of the greater, a little morsel of power that had lay asleep in your veins until the birds, the rodents. If this could be proved?"

If, in the middle, one Cherny met another?

"Do you think you'd be less you?"
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:12 am

He knows of the silvered flesh of her hand, has seen it, has accepted it; he can surmise what she might have said, before her hand drops back to the folds of her skirt, darkened with tarsweat where she's wrung the cloth between anxious fingers. It is alright to be different; here is my difference, my strangeness. She might have turned her hand so that it gleamed in the lantern's light, specks and sparks of candlefire caught in the contours and creases of knuckles and nails.

She relents, however; spares them both that lesson, and instead offers a simple touch, a simple closeness. Cherny lowers the lantern to his side, accepting that offer of comfort as he leans against her ribs, eyes downcast, thin to the point of insubstantiality beneath the bulk of his coat.

"It's n-not that. It, it just c-can't. It can't b-be me." Dejected, resentful of the possibility even as it becomes harder to deny. "I, I'd have t-to stop, if it w-was. I'd h-have to, to stop, so n-no-one'd get h-hurt."

Because that's a truth he's learned from recent years, from watching and interacting with those who have something similar - something strange, something special, a thing of their own. Rhaena Olwak. Catch. Zilliah. Agnieszka Kaczmarek. Niall. Zinniah. Noura. Each with their own morsel of power, each with their list of those hurt by it.

"Th-these - they always h-hurt people, those th-things. They g-go wrong, and they hurt people."

A lesson first learned a year and more ago, when unbidden Words had pealed from his throat to batter a crowd of angry townsfolk. A morsel of power that had sickened, bloodied and stunned those it touched. An accident, both in its release and in his being granted it in the first place.

He seeks her gloved hand, chilled fingers lacing between her own and gripping tightly; it feels no different to the touch - warm and soft and alive, calloused from her needlework. His sister's hand, as much a part of her as her scent, her strength, her sun-faded eyes.

"I'd h-have to - to stop h-hearing them, and t-talking with them, and b-being friends with them. The c-crows, and Forzo and h-his ladies, And D-dash, and, and M-many-Fights and the pups." Friends and companions to whom he is every bit as attached, as loyal as he is to the girl at his side. The circle of light flickers and moves as he lifts the hand holding Gloria's lantern, swiping at eyes and nose with his cuff.

"So things w-wouldn't go wrong."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:54 am

There was a difference between men and boys.

She'd heard the adage enough on the streets of Myrken Wood, uttered from the lips and throats of those who'd witnessed or been victimized by the torrential misfortune that precipitated itself upon the town, the countryside:

Children grow up quickly in Myrken.

But what this young woman knew was that the idiom was not territorial, nor was it regional; it was worldly, universal, a phrase with an interchangeable object at its furthest end. Children grow up quickly in Jernoah, in Myrken Wood, under the shadows of Dasril's Lip and just beyond the borders of Derry; Children grow up quickly in nations of tribes and amid steadfast oligarchies; children, in this flat, ever-expanding, violent world, as the Glass Sun and the Crawl Moon revolved around it and constantly, endlessly combatted, had a need to eschew their innocence and learn blood.

He cradled her questionable hand. She gave him, in the protection of her arm, a hard and steadfast squeeze, before she pried the lantern out of his fingers, crunched its base down into the snow, and dislodged herself from his closeness -- but only temporarily. As she squatted, her mottled skirts crumbling against the icy powder, she had to look up to see him. Her eyes were soft; siblings' breaths mingled in the air above their heads like a ghostly vapor.

Th-these - they always h-hurt people, those th-things. They g-go wrong, and they hurt people.

"Talents," she said -- and now her hands occupied themselves with caring matters: the readjusting of his scarf, the erecting of his lapel, the tugging down of his cap. "It's not the talents that hurt, that damage, Cherny. It's how they're wielded, how they're turned against the rest of the world. Rhaena Olwak," Gloria said. "The Black Smoke in Catch's eyes, when it goes unchecked. The passenger that used to live under Noura's skin.

"But preternature isn't the only source of pain. Think of -- of the Governor's words, when they go rampant and fuel themselves with lies, or Solena's knives. When misused, anything is a danger."

He dragged his cuff under his nose. In his eyes, damp hints of moisture caught the candlelight.

I'd h-have to - to stop h-hearing them, and t-talking with them, and b-being friends with them--

"Responsibility matters absolutely."

She lofted a pinky. Brushed it over the roundness of his cheek, wetting her glove with a smeared tear.

"This is your talent, t'oddah. These are what make you special."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:39 pm

He tolerates these touches, this fussing at his coat, his cap; little adjustments, little gestures of affection; I care that you don't catch your death, I care that you'll be safe. He meets her eyes briefly, some tug of movement at his lips in wan approximation of a smile.

"Th-they're worse, though. They, they h-hurt people worse than j-just fists or w-words. S-sera Olwak couldn't've d-done all that j-just by, by t-talking." Arguing for the sake of it, disagreeing for all that he understands, but doesn't want to admit that she's right.

Rhaena used her mindwitchery to dominate the town, but Agnieszka Kaczmarek had almost turned a mob upon his sister just by speaking to them, by giving them a target for their anger. So he shrugs, a shifting of thin shoulders within that oversized coat as she dabs a fingertip to his cheek, as she proclaims the tears there to be his talent.

He cares like only the young can care. Here he has something he's never had before, a life, treasures, meaning, and thus he values every little thing. When you care, you can be hurt. Every loss tugs against your soul, tears away part of it.

Quiet for a time, miserable at having to confront what may well be a truth, much as he's tried to deny it. Eventually he draws a deeper breath, straightening his shoulders, gathering himself by effort of stubborn will. At last able to meet her gaze, he nods, reluctant but resigned.

Bits and pieces, wounds that can never heal until he has enough. Until he has a choice. He can watch those things that he cares about be taken from him or he can step forth and cross all of those lines that he had vowed never to cross. It's easy, this. Easier than you would think, yes?

"I, I'll sh-show them how to b-be good. So no one g-gets hurt." A quiet promise to her, and to himself. "I'll t-teach them how to b-be better. And, and how to n-not use swords."

Why? Because he had already lost such parts of himself. There's not so much remaining to hold him back, not when the stakes are everything he has left.

"I can d-do that."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:34 am

She ceased in her assessment of his clothing, knowing full well his garments were sufficient, to let her warm palms -- they smelled of sulfur, the tarsweat taint of bad eggs the rat had expressed -- rest against cheeks. Few things Gloria Wynsee truly knew, but this was one: that this stuttering boy, with his weary eyes and occasional tears, made her heart ache. Not with upset or agony, but with veneration; often, in the Market or at the Seventhday bazaar, buyers of little bags would ask her Who do you know here? in an attempt to measure her indigenousness, as well as that of her fare, and she would tell them, with all matters of pride--

I know my brother. You ought to, too.

"So no one gets hurt," she agreed. Without considering the rough disrepair of her sleeve, she scrubbed at the rounds of his cheeks with her cuffs. "Managing our talents -- and those aren't limited to the extravagant and the uncanny -- is our most valuable responsibility. Rhaena refused to turn that eye inward; Glenn Burnie, even now, seems to believe his proclivity for words will -- will bandage the damage he's done by saying the wrong ones, the deceitful ones.

"But they're not us. We're stronger than them, and -- and more careful, and infinitely more aware every day of the pain we can cause if our individual aptitudes go unchecked."

Rather, he knew. And she was still learning.

Stronger, she'd said, before almost forcefully pivoting his head at the swivel of his neck to plant, just above her thumb, a kiss against his cheek.

In Myrken words, in Standard, and not only in tangle-tongued Jernoan idioms, she told him without looking away:

"I love you."

And she did. Doubtful as she often was of everything else she thought, that she knew without hesitation. When his face was dry and she realized that perhaps too much closeness might smother him in the unpleasantries of her skin, his sister's fingers fell away from his small face. She reached for the tin lantern, as thoughts is warmth and fire might, like a blazing hearth, rout the cold. With an interlude of silence, the quiet affection was dispelled, not permanently, but momentarily; she looked away from him, examining the footsteps they'd traced through the snow to lead them to this quiet place. Then, words tempered with care:

"I need to ask you a favor."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:48 am

He nods slowly as she explains the difference between the pair of them and the others, the irresponsible and the careless and the dangerous. He lets her brush tears from his face with a wry stretch of his lips that tries to be a smile.

"It, it's l-like the sword." A quiet explanation so that she knows he understands, appreciates the importance of what he must do.

"It's n-not for, for play or f-for things that c-can be sorted out otherwise. With words, or f-fists." Sometimes words fail, sometimes words are inadequate and more physical approaches must be called upon - but even so, fists are a world apart from metal edges, from blades the seamstress so dreads. "It's for l-last resort. And, and you s-still need to know how t-to use it - so you c-can, when you have to."

When all other efforts have failed.

He offers a boyish wrinkle of his nose for that kiss, feigning to be above such displays of affection for all that it earns a glimpse of teeth in a pleased grin.

"I love you too."

Spoken easily, naturally, a statement of the obvious and the undeniable. She stoops for her lantern and he quietly takes hold of her other hand, a light grip that draws comfort from such simple contact. A favour, she says, and she can feel his shrug through that touch.

"G-go on, then."
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:11 am

He understood. He always did. Cherny was no fool, scarcely a child by any stretch of even the most creative imagination; Myrken Wood had bitten him young, had infected him with morality and reason at the very dawning of his Sun. All too often, she found herself learning from him, readjusting her perspective on the world at the behest of his perceptions and observations--

But like her, he occasionally needed a reminder, a reevaluation of the right of things; she lived, for as rare as the event was, to provide that.

Gloria Wynsee was rarely correct. That was the broken edge of glass she bore, to only divulge her bursts of logic in certain company; otherwise, she thought, she was wrong, she was always wrong, too loud and too quick of action to hamper impulse with insight.

"Favors later," she said, lantern thrust out before them to spill its light across gleaming snow. The flecks of snow that passed sideways through its auric light seemed to glow for a split-second, then vanished as they fell away from the candle's purview. She clutched his hand, leading him, and often letting him lead her.

"First, warmth. First, let's bake our bones."

* * * *

That night, the favor she requested had never been unearthed.

Several days later, the wolf had come. It had shredded his arms into ribbons, nearly mangling his delicate limbs. By luck, perhaps by the shine of the One God or her Nameless, there'd been more blood than permanent damage. But that did not mean the horrors done to Cherny's body were minimal. His arms were red and angry with creases in the skin. Mucous-ridden musculature winked out from between his sutures as if there was too much to cover with stretching flesh.

She swallowed all her doubts, all her criticisms and judgments of herself -- for her inactivity, for her hesitation, her foolish fucking fright -- to be sure she gave her best to him.

It had been three nights since. Her lantern dangled from the lonely nail jabbed into the supporting ribs of the eaves above them.

"Drink it," she said to her brother, slanting a mug too-sweet tea toward him. Without warm steam, the flecks of medicinal herbs were visible within, but she made no attempt to hide them. "I brought fresh dressings from the Rememdium. I'll check your stitches. Tugging the gauze away might be a little painful. It'd be good to have a soft brain for it; it'll be good to feel stronger than the pain. You see?"

And if he allowed her to work, examine, and dress his arms anew, she'd say while doing so:

"About that favor," with a forced smile, the kind that hid all it knew with all it wanted to know.
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Cherny » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:16 am

He accepts the offered mug without protest beyond a wrinkling of his nose as he sniffs at its contents - a learned distaste for remedies, even as he swears by their results. A sip or two allows him to recognise the hint of bitter herbs underneath the tea's sweetness, and his grimace is more for the brew's effects than its taste; a dullness of the mind, a stifling blanket that softens feeling, understanding, bringing with it difficulty in following a line of thought from one end to the other. Still, he cannot deny that his wounds have pained him, the dull ache of slowly-knitting flesh a constant companion since the beast's attack.

So he takes the mug. Drinks from it, trusting his sister's reassurances that it will do him good. An echo of a feverish night at the Rememdium a year or more since, a similar mug offered from the same hands.

It takes him a while to finish the drink, holding the vessel carefully with both hands; his grip has been weak since the wolf's fangs tore at his arms, each movement tugging and dragging at bruised muscles and tendons; and he has been wary of pushing himself, of testing the strength of the stitches holding his skin together, forced to rely instead upon others for assistance.

Son has helped with the squire's duties as far as stablework is concerned, but not without protest - such efforts take him away from his hunting and trapping, hampering his search for fresh game. Gloria has helped in providing company, distractions from his tendency to brood and fume at his useless hands. He's paid visits to Zinniah, keeping her similarly diverted, quietly enjoying the sympathy and commiseration she lavishes upon him.

Eventually the mug is drained - his head tilts back, the clawed furrows from jaw to throat livid in the candlelight - and set aside; he reaches across to his bedside for a small earthenware pot before holding out his other arm for the seamstress' attention. The bandages are still neatly-wrapped, though slightly dulled from their fresh-boiled whiteness; beneath, blotted and stained where his wounds have bled and wept through the gauze.

Without the bulk of coat and bandages his arm is thin, stick-like for all that the flesh is still puffy and mottled with bruises. He eyes the limb critically, close inspection paid to the deeper punctures here and there where a fang had punched through heavy wool and into the flesh beneath; these have been left unstitched, so that any foulness might escape as the wound heals. Elsewhere the skin is torn, savaged, sutured back into some semblance of wholeness with lines of patient threadwork.

He helps where he can - dabbing at the open wounds with a wad of gauze soaked in hot saltwater, only dimly registering the sharp sting of it - but for the most part leaves the changing of the dressing in her hands.

About that favour.

He has to think for a time, a mild frown creasing his brow as he searches for context, but eventually he nods slowly, watching as damaged and discoloured flesh is covered by a coccoon of pristine linen.

"W-what is it?"
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Re: Cider by Candlelight

Postby Rance » Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:09 am

He was all bandages and bruises, all chalky salves and medicinal tea. She worked with patience and extreme care at the disrepair of his hands; hers, for his sake, had been earlier scrubbed with intensity, the flesh bereft of its usual perspiring blackness or grime. They left no little black prints upon the fresh gauze. She grimaced at the gashes and the perfect stitches woven into his skin.

They were effective, those stitches, but they were not hers; for that fact alone, they seemed imperfect, no matter how much more capable they were at threading dermis together than hers ever could be.

W-what is it?

"A task I wouldn't wish on anyone else. Nor that I could wholly trust to anyone else." She rested Cherny's arms on her knees, and before she wrapped the other, she carefully examined the wrinkled edges of the exposed wounds. Bloodied, poultice-stained dressings were folded aside and replaced by starker, whiter fabric. Her fingers sought out signs of heat, of infection, investigating for yellow blood; to her relief, there was none. "I would ask it of the Marshall, but she is altogether too military and might frown upon the nature of it. I would ask it of Noura, but she's a -- a foreigner, like I am. I would do it myself, but it concerns me too greatly for it to see like anything else but an act of vindictiveness.

"I would like you, only if you are comfortable doing so," she finally stated, never raising her eyes to him, "to deliver a notice to the Governor. Once it is drafted. Once it is signed. A notice of investigation by the Inquisitory."
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