A Proper Gift

Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:45 am

Are you afraid of the water?

"I'm a -- a heavy rock. I will sink to the bottom. I don't want to die where it's dark and cold and there's so much weight. Where I can't scream, where it's impossible to breathe, where there's no sense of up or down. Please don't let go," she bleated, the words tumbling out of her without a direct recognition of her fear. But she had thought about these things, or so it seemed -- she knew the logistics of water, the dangers of it. Silver Lake was an executioner's blade, a bleak ending--

--and she'd wanted to get drunk, so drunk the world would spin like a child's top around her, so intoxicated that she could not feel her tongue or her head, smell the blood in her hair, so she could chisel the image of Cherny with his falchion out of her mind, her stupid mind, her swollen brain, idiot Jerno brain.

"Tennant," the seamstress said, his name a ballast, a counterweight to her visible fear of the water. Her gloved fingers clamped to his sleeve and her eyes snapped away from the water's black surface to his face. He had years on her, he was a man, he was someone else's--

But something was missing from him. His confidence, his shining humor, his glittering laughter.

"Tell me what's wrong," the girl said. "Nobody else is here. You can -- can tell me about Rhaena, about Mister Catch, about Genny and Abbrem."

He was like a little boy; she was afraid of the water, and he feared something too. Didn't he?

"Nobody will hear. I'll trust you to -- to carry me. You can trust me to listen."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:40 am

"You will not sink, and if you did, I would save you,” and he was perfectly capable of it, he’d lifted her off the floor dancing after all.

"There is nothing to fear in the lake," his voice said the words, but the words were not his. In truth, he had hated this lake, he would have never gone near it. His fear might be akin to Gloria’s except for entirely different reasons. There had been something else here, something in this lake that did frighten him.

(Something in the bottom of the lake, he’d seen it, it has pressed some foreign limb to the glass. And the glass broke. The weight of the water atop him was immense, the device shattered around him and he swam, as hard, as fast as he could, not knowing immediately which way was up. They watched through his eyes).

If only Gloria had known him before the memory of it had been changed. It wasn’t quite gone, but Rhaena had been in his head then to see what he saw at the bottom of the lake, and she had been in it since to remove the bad things and in their place put other goals turned to fears by nightmares. And now, even those had been tampered with. But nothing could be removed completely. The brain was like many muscles and also incredibly unique. Like other others, it relied on surrounding muscles for input, smells that triggered memories decades old, small and connected fragments that could resurface at a moment’s recall. And it was unique in that from those small fragments, memories could be, in part or whole, reconstructed. Remembered. A drawing, a poster, a familiar sensation.

The smile that accompanies his words is as plain and natural as ever. “If anything is wrong, it is nothing.” A strange turn of phrase that only Gloria might look into deeper. Nothing. The absence of his confidence, his humor, his laughter.

“I trust you,” he neared, letting her hands drop before tilting to put an arm behind her shoulders and neck and another to swoop under her knees.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:08 am

His words were platitudes. Smooth comforts. Reliable. The soothing downy to a broken-glass mind. He moved to touch her, the warmth of an elbow-crook behind her head, the motion of an arm to scoop her beneath the back of the skirt and the bend of her knees, but--

If anything is wrong, it is nothing.

She needed no Inquisitor's mind to feel the emptiness in those words, the sort wielded like a a bandage to cover grievous wounds. Everything is fine. I am just fine, she had told those she loved time and time again, a phrase she'd all but worked a leather handle into so she could raise it like a shield when some questions became too difficult, too tender.

Tennant was always laughter to her. Always patient, always willing to offer her kind word, a compliment.

Warm hands when she danced with him.

A towel over his shoulder, a casual dedication to work she knew he'd no passion for, but that he performed with cheer.

The way his skin absorbed the stink of his smoking-root, the serpentine tendrils of opaque smoke curling out of his nostrils when he took the fire into his lungs.


"No," the seamstress said, touching a palm against his chest to pause his advance. Her fingers curled into his shirt, but she never blinked as she centered her gaze on his bearded face. The water could wait; her fears could wait. There was blood in her hair, but even Niall could wait a bit longer to be washed away--

(would never wash away; she'd have to take more drastic measures to get the memories out of her hair)

--because Tennant was heavy, a tombstone's weight, and she desired nothing more than to see the crystal glitter in his eyes and hear the protection of his cheer, his laughter. Hiding so much, but so much less than this.

"Tell me," Gloria Wynsee said. "Tell me what ails you. About -- about Genny, about Mister Catch. Even if they're things you're afraid to say, Tennant. I can help lift the stones off your chest if you let me. I must know. You've held my hand when no one else would. You've told me I am lovely when the world knows otherwise. Give me the -- the grace, the privilege of returning those kindnesses."

She leaned forward, touching her plump cheek against the bristles of his beard to whisper against his ear. The words were an experiment, a sourness in her guts that she must speak them at all--

"I will find the Lady while she sleeps. I will punch my little knife into her chest and watch as blood fills her bed. Or I will drag her by the hair right here, right here, and hold her nose in the mud and foam until she drowns in -- in no more than a scant inch of water. Enough to kill a Jerno. Enough to kill Rhaena Olwak.

"I will be on the posters, too."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:30 pm

All she had to do was say, ‘No.’ He freezes, cradling the girl in his arms. Gloria was no small woman, but he holds her with ease, no more difficult than the sacks of potatoes he had lugged into the kitchen, barrels of beer, or casks of wine. “Sweet Gloria, nothing ails, I promise,” but her hand upon his chest would say otherwise. His heart beat wildly, erratic, struggling, a stark contrast to the calm words.

“Genny is grown now, she doesn’t need me. All I need to do is tell her I’m sorry,” but it was without a doubt more difficult than that. The two of them, despite living in the same town hadn’t seen one another in near a year and longer before that. And then, it had only been a brief moment during his sentencing. But he seems very convinced that their reunion is all a matter of water under the bridge. It is as plain as day in his face.

“Ser Catch, perhaps he will forgive me too,” his smile is content even without their forgiveness, as if he’s already received it. He was at peace.

Gloria leans in and his smile grows, dopey and lacking in wit, sharpness, missing the small devious tug of unpredictability, of adventure, of ambition. She presses against him and he is warm, warmer than just the touch of another person, but radiating heat from his sunburnt flesh. He listens. Every word.
But the vile thoughts and violent words she has expelled sours his face, the smile will fade to a frown and he will ever so gently carry her back to where their two bottles lie, half buried in the grass and sand. His arms lower her until she stands, releasing the girl and taking a step back, away from her.

His face is less kind, brows furrowed into disapproval. And why wouldn’t they be, his face had been on posters and it was something he had kept from her for as long as he could. His face was so well known and even he had never murdered as Gloria so openly suggested.

“Miss Gloria, blood cannot wash blood. Being on a poster… is no honor,” it was rather like he was chastising a child, trying to instill in this reckless girl some morals he assumed she had. He looked disappointed, shocked, and most definitely, unhappy – but not for or about Rhaena or her part in the plan. Perhaps it was care for Gloria and how this was all affecting her.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:08 am

His heart raced a restless gallop underneath his chest. His skin was so warm, burning, as if he'd been staked out under the Glass Sun for a thousand hours. She read the change in his face when she'd spoken those wretched words, but his features, his carriage still lacked something -- a soul, a budding fire beneath his skin, the excitement and vigor for life he'd always shown her.

"I know it's not the right solution," the seamstress told him. "Look at me and tell me if you think I could do such -- such things to her. If I knew, if I could be sure, if I could mark a guarantee that in her death, all that she's broken could be fixed? I would muster every ounce of wrongness in me. I would numb the stupid, afraid girl in me with wine and smokeroot.

"But the only beings I know I can hurt, Tennant, are those I love most fiercely."

He grounded her, then stepped back away from her. There were a thousand blades of wet shore-grass between them -- too many, too many -- and instead of reaching for him, she plucked that opened bottle of Derry Red from the wet mud, offering it out to him in a gloved palm.

"I am not a knight or a warrior; honor is as important to me as just another shilling to the richest lord in the land. Two people I care for with -- with the greatest zeal have been drawn on those posters." Tennant and Catch both; she'd never seen Tennant's poster, but she knew well enough that it had once hung in the market. "Drink," she said. "But not for wanting to be drunk. A swig or two. Your heart is -- is beating right out of your chest. You don't have to -- to tell me anything; you're dancing a jig around the details, and I'll not pry for words you don't yet have. I am -- am always here. My ears are always yours when you need them. When you're ready."

The waters of Silver Lake were calm. The frogs belched out their throaty songs. An occasional firefly bled yellow light into the air, each a mere moment's luminescence that could not hope to fight the inky night.

You are the silliest girl, Glour'eya Wynsee. Stupid and silly. He wouldn't. He won't--

"Sit with me, Tennant," she said over the bottle, before even her throat could try to break off the words. They did not need to speak of doubts or fears, of Rhaena Olwak, of blood. They could watch the sky; she could sing a song if he wanted.

"Let me hold you."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:16 am

Who was to say, maybe it was the right solution. On the merits of this point he is neutral. His Lady hadn’t changed him the same way, he was no shining knight, no indebted drunkard, he had no reason to praise her generosity or defend her virtue. It was morality, a feature wholly intact, that would have him defend Rhaena’s right to live. Or Gloria’s relative innocence.

“You are capable of a great many more things than you think, Miss Gloria,” the phrase might have been one of encouragement and support in any other context. Even his dulcet tones were not reprimanding. But the words themselves seem to suggest, he did in fact, think she was entirely capable of such an act. She had more tenacity than most and was not one to make idle threats.

“To do this thing you think you might, you must be at peace.” His head shook and a tragic, disappointed smile grew weakly. “You are angry and afraid, sweet Gloria. You will only hurt the people that love you.” Here, so simply explained and so convoluted by all that was truly involved, he offered the ‘how,’ and ‘why,’ she was so capable of hurting those around her. She was volatile, quick to act, slow to think before she spoke, curious, presumptuous, and in all the cases before they had been entirely endearing qualities. But this, it would ruin her.

Accusations of jigs around meaning, hollow words and empty eyes, to all of it he would merely shrug. He had nothing more to give her in this regard. She cared so passionately for it all, but to him it was merely a standing obligation. Devoid of feeling or meaning, it should be done, but it wasn’t necessary. Just as his presence here was, he is indifferent and vaporous.

She offered the bottle out to him, but he didn’t need it. There was no pain for him to numb, no blood on his hands. Niall’s death, tragic as it may be, was of little concern. And she is right, he didn’t want to get drunk, he didn’t want anything. He wouldn’t take the bottle, but he would sit, out of obedience, out of care, or simply not wanting to hurt her feelings. Even in this physical closeness, there is a new distance between them and a thickening fog settling between.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:52 am

You are capable of a great many more things than you think, Miss Gloria.

"But not that. I can wish it; I can wish very much, but I'm no Marshall. I'm no crusader. Rhaena was -- was my first friend here. A knife won't fix what she's done."

He was hollow, unemoting, blank. He shrugged, denied the wine, and sat beside her not with a want, but merely for the necessity of it. The shore-mud was wet like clay beneath them. She spun the bottle in her hands, her fingertips squeaking against the glass. He had given her that wine, and yet they'd not touched a drop of it.

"You were one of my first friends, too."

Doesn't that mean anything?

She turned, sliding her bare hand through the grass, its touch unsure, wary. She could break glass, couldn't she? And Tennant was crystal, red-tinted crystal, a precious gem that ought to shine against a spectrum of Sunlight. Her coal-stained fingertips tried to scoop up his hand -- and if he was so pliable, she would touch his knuckles to her cheek as if to say I am right here or Don't look too far, Tennant. He felt a thousand years older, his shoulders a hundred wars too grim, his eyes as blank and as undefined as the volumes of an empty journal.

"Why give me the wine," she said. "Was the dance not enough? Would you think I might take for granted the lute and the laughter? I still dance. I still dance like you taught me." A pause, as she pecked several awakening kisses against his battered hands, shying away from neither dirt nor speck of blood. They were not romantic touches, but desperate -- maybe he would snap awake like in those old tales, those pretty stories about princes and the sleepsand they'd been fed.

Her lips were dry like parchment. Pupils wide and black.

"What did she do to you?"
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:06 am

This was good. Maybe Rhaena deserved to die, but for whatever rumored ill she had caused she had done infinitely more good. Or at least that was how it looked. Regardless, he seems to be content that any such action won’t be committed by Gloria’s hand.

She is pensive, idly spinning the bottle as she sits beside him. All he can do it watch, expectantly.

“You are one of my only friends,” he will look to her, his smile renewed but the expression is lacking. She takes his hand and his kind smile continues. She manipulates it easily as he is not so heavy or resistant as a bag of sand, but he is certainly as malleable in her hands. Kiss after kiss does nothing to wake him, he merely smiles on for a time, watching her.

“I thought it was your favorite?” Had he got it wrong? Didn’t she like the wine? The question was asked as though the intent was simply to give her something she liked. But surely, in all the time she had known him he had always shared a drink with her. He had even given her two bottles. So, it is not unreasonable that there is something more, something else there, an unvoiced motive. Not for lack of wanting to say it, but unknowing it himself. Simple turns of phrase, actions, gifts that alone were innocent unrecognizable pleas, but together when someone who knew him so well as Gloria did, were a catalyst.

“She?” It almost takes him a moment before it clicks that she is referring back to The Lady, Rhaena. “She tended my wounds and fixed my nose,” he chuckles. The evidence of the break is just barely visible, despite the encroaching darkness.

His amused little laugh turns to silence and then to a deep but content sigh, it is almost one of resignation as he pulls his hand free, brushes her cheek and retracts his arm. Lying back, reclining once again on the slope he looks out to the water.

“I’ve been wanting to swim,” the phrase escapes, a seemingly unrelated tangent. If he couldn’t say what was wrong, perhaps he could say want felt right.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:29 pm

You are one of my only friends.

Two bottles of wine. And he was lost. Misdirection in his eyes. A membrane of apathy draped over him like a blanket. She could wash the blood out of her hair a thousand times, but Tennant would still be Tennant. The girl knew there were some kisses that were not meant to be shared -- the kind with tongues that pried teeth apart, birthing pen kisses, nothing-kisses -- but those on his knuckles, she gave him. Her lips were clumsy, awkward, dry as leather.

"It is my favorite," she said. "It -- it is my favorite because you gave me a glass, you said you are beautiful and told me I am not fit for bonnets or gloves. It is my favorite because I only drink it with you."

Too much. Saying too much. She draped a gloved palm over the opened bottle of wine, then worked free the screw-dislodged cork with her thumb. The girl drank from the glass neck, not like an overzealous fiend, but with a gentle appreciation. Savoring the taste, the bitter ferment of berries, the notes of wood from the casks, the fleck of cork that rested on the crease in her tongue.

She tended my wounds and fixed my nose.

"It will always be my favorite," Gloria said. "That is incontrovertible."

Wasn't that their word. Wasn't that the word he'd taught her. Weren't those--

--memories?

She placed the bottle aside, leaning it against a mossy stone. She stood to her feet, but still gripped to his hand with her bare fingers. She scrubbed mud from the seat of her bedgown-skirt. Niall was dead; Niall was dead -- if she lingered too long on early-evening lamentations, on doubts, on maggotry, then she might never have the strength or will to return the charity of his gifts. The seamstress brushed hair of black and ash out of her face, then tried to help him to his feet. Her palms in his.

"Then let us swim, beautiful Tennant." Her voice bore no patronage; her stare, for all its Sun-gray granite, did not show her fear. "Show me. Teach me. I trust you."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:18 am

Her kisses left quite a bit to be desired in terms of physical appeal, but there had been some comfort in them that he rather enjoyed. Or rather, he didn’t pull away in disgust, he smiles though it is ambivalence that dominates.

The reasoning for why she had chose the wine as her favorite was not unreasonable, but it seems like a poor one. Especailly as she called such a grizzled visage beautiful. Quite a pair, these two. From the lake where his eyes lingered he pulled away to address her again with a very matter of fact tone.

“You’re a fine lady,” not in the way the fancy women of Myrken were fine. He wasn’t one to define a person based upon the gold and silver they carried or the lace they wore, as odd as it may have been given his former occupation. Rather, she was a fine person, better than most at the very least. She worked hard and was steadfast in her beliefs, something admirable considering the company.

While she drinks, he watches. It would always be her favorite and that was incontrovertible. There is a glint of recognition, as if he recalled the memory but had lost the meaning beneath it. Why it was important, what he had meant. “You’ve been studying,” it’s a compliment but very likely not the right words.

And too soon it doesn’t matter to him, his attention redirected and genuine enthusiasm taking hold. Gloria’s hands are offered and he takes them, though he’s already near standing, not pulling at her at all. His fingers tangle between hers and he grips her tight, walking and stopping abruptly at the very edge of the water. “Are you sure?”
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:05 pm

She knew. Not by any bounty of his words, but that he had lost his elasticity; he was a fragmented prince, a bleak and forgotten tangle of some nameless deed. Invisible fingers. Mind-meddled. She knew because in any other circumstance, she fumbled in his presence, stammered, eschewed sense for wide-eyed admiration. She was a Jerno girl, a taboo, a foreign antipathy. He was flaming red hair and older and she never thought about birthing pens around him, she'd never felt like an object, a vessel to fill with the fatness of a baby--

(She ought to have had two by then. Three, now that she was fifteen. Three mewling babes, fed from the teat and slick with young, black sweat; three more reasons to know she was nothing, nothing.)

You've been studying, he said.

She could not be his. He was Rhaena Olwak's.

Perhaps the moonlight paled the crystals forming in her eyes. Maybe the stars blanched the dark stains of tar from her skin and made her, for a few moments, a fine lady the way he said -- I am a maggot, she yearned to tell him; a stinking, filthy low-streets larva, a cad'vak, a girl who'd no pillow for her head, broad-hipped and fat-cheeked, bad-toothed and--

She was a fine lady when he held both of her hands. Her bare feet squelched into the mud. She lingered on the edge of the black water with him. They were both figures reflected in flickering lines of noise between crops of algae and sprouts of water-leaf.

The bottom was a thousand leagues down; if she fell, she would drown, choke, suck down brine as it ate away every bit of her flesh. The seamstress was a tremor beside him, her knuckles white around his, her breath sputtering out in rapid, hoarse bursts. Maybe she'd find Soodsy down there; she might perish under the weight of countless gallons, but she would be rich, so rich.

Glour'eya Wynsee, the Jerno who drowned.

"I am sure," she said. "I'm -- I'm sure. I want to swim with you."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:23 pm

The lake is peaceful, so somber, so dead. It is an abyss of black except for the broken, rising moon far from reach, an unattainable beacon across the water. Everything is still and silent but for the few gliding ripples, ghosts disturbing their reflection with quiet whispers breaking against the moss and rock.

She is all white knuckles, shaking, the staccato, shallow breathing as her tears are illuminated by the moonlight. And it was a beautiful sight; just the sort to give him cause, a solid and definable purpose. He would not be the un-waking prince, instead he would be a valiant knight. He would save her and hold her, and make all her fears vanish. He was to give help the helpless, show care and love, fear nothing, and fulfill your purpose. He wanted it. He wanted it more than anything.

But there had been a good reason he needed Gloria. She was strong and as tight as she held his hand, he held hers back, muscles and bone aching under the growing ferocity of his grip. Even knowing, being utterly convinced that the depth was bearable was not enough to fight back the buried pieces in the back of his mind. The Lady. She should have changed him. Remade him.

Certainly memories could be altered, catered to a cause, rewritten with a purpose. But instinct? It was etched so thoroughly, plowed so deep, branded with searing pain that even if the memory was lost, the reaction remained. And it was fear that gripped him here just as surely as it held the lady at his side.

The motion is pained as he steps forward, fighting some invisible barrier. The motion is arduous as if he nears the edge of a vast canyon and may yet plummet. Soft sand and mossy grass depressed under his foot, the specters giggling as the water rose around his ankles and the ripples exaggerated the small tremors as a shiver climbs his spine. Another straining step forward puts the hair of every limb on end, the water rising up his filthy pants to the middle of his calves.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:23 pm

He clenched her hand in a blacksmith's vice. She wanted to slither free, tell him you're hurting me, but her brown, Sun-soaked bones and sandstone knuckles could endure his strength. They were both lonely figures underneath the flecks of moonlight pouring in through the summer branches, and they were both young things, fresh and inexperienced in the matters of the world. They were frightened together. He was sulfurous fear; she wanted nothing more than to turn back and deny the water, refuse it.

But Tenannt was her friend, and what patience the seamstress hadn't ever thought to extend to Elliot Gahald, to Noura the wildling, to even Ariane Emory, she gave to him. She might argue, days, weeks, months, years later how vastly different that moment was from those she shared with others of Rhaena's ilk--

--but the stars stitched the word hypocrite into her bronze skin, even as she watched the enthusiasm in his face trickle down through the funnels of his skin and take shape as invisible blisters of terror. The water darkened his trousers and cast eddies of diluted moonlight across him.

She took each step with him. The wetness crowned her ankles, then her knees. Her bedgown crawled out across the water around her, a dirty balloon. The girl waited to fall, take the next step and feel nothing, teeter too far forward, vanish into Silver Lake -- no, into the sea.

"H'zlz loved his G'leuse like a heart loves to beat. H'zlz cut through swaths of marauders with a glass blade and dipped his toes into the gashes he left," she trilled, a rhythm in her quivering voice that bespoke poetry -- her favorite, a romance, a love between mythical soldiers. "H'zlz cleaved men like meat from the rise of the Glass Sun until the reign of the Crawl Moon. Bodies fell into priestly patterns. H'zlz shed much blood from many men, for a thousand of them could not equal his G'leuse."

Deep as the knees. Then submerged to the hips. She quaked, a scrabbling branch of a girl with water licking at her sweater, at the crest of her belly just below her breasts. She turned her chin, clenched his hand, and said to him, "Sometimes I think about you when I'm very lonely. I wonder if -- if you are washing little glasses, or laughing with other ladies. My guts sink and I look into my reflection and I whisper to myself that I wish I were older, I wish I were prettier.

(Would he ever remember it, or had Rhaena burned canyons too deep into his mind? Better he never did; better the seamstress tell him now, that he might stir from his fugue and never recall her words, the wine, the wetness of the Lake pulsing around them.)

"I dream that I am H'zlz, and you are my G'leuse. I know there are other girls finer and more deserving; I know that I am afraid. But who among them would ever have this chance? To -- to swim with you," she said.

Something had awakened a fright as deep as buried bones in him. He was like a tiny boy. He was helpless. She cried like a braying jah'zoon, her face clenched and wrinkled into a prune -- tears for him, for the water -- but her voice did not falter. "I won't let go. I give you my word.

"Show me why we're here, Tennant."
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Tolleson » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:59 am

Impassioned and thrilling, her poetry and tears resonate with the increasing tempo of his wildly beating heart. It is deafening and he is raptured by the words. A beat to which he marches forward. He looks to her, the glance pleading that she let go, despite the struggle forward and how firmly he holds her hand. His eyes are gentle and frightened, terrified behind the sweetest, most confident smile. His entire composition is in disarray, disfigured by mismatching expressions, words, and actions that bespoke intentions entirely contradicting his will.

“You are not he. You are Gloria and will write your own story.”

Every breath might be faster, every muscle squeezing, straining, spasms against restrained defiance. He might tremble and shake, though he was strong, agile, skilled at withstanding elements and foes alike, these muscles were unpracticed, the resistance unfamiliar. Through it all his voice might be altered, but it was calm and the words contradicting all that every inch of his body screamed in protest.

Her skirt billows and the water rises, and he only leads her deeper. She will drown. She will die. You will kill her. There are fears with wordless whispers creeping from the back of his mind, small things from lost pieces, cares. All he can do for the time is pull her closer until he is all but holding her off the lake bed, her feet left to tread, to dangle in the water.

“To go to the bottom of the lake, Miss Gloria. To get the horn,” an impossible endeavor that will kill them both.
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Re: A Proper Gift

Postby Rance » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:32 am

"There's no horn in the water, Tennant. It's nothing but cold under there. There's nothing but death."

She knew only one horn -- a Horn, a rock-chiseled artifact for which she'd sewn straps, a harness. As he lifted her from the water in his thick arms, she quaked against him. She was nothing beautiful, a young woman cobbled together from all the wrong pieces: a body as disorderly and disproportionate as a sack of grain, hair that had been far too-long dried by the glare of the Sun, and eyes so dull, so bland that they must have been chiseled from witless stone.

"You tried to take his Horn. Didn't you," she said.

For as much judgment as the young woman could pass, there was none for Tennant. She was so close to him, her belly -- it had never known a baby, she was no good Jerno -- touching his, her gloved hand trying to prop itself beneath his bearded chin. Had she been any older, had she better understood her own body, the situation might have been more daring, more compulsive--

--but she was satisfied just to count all the hairs on his chin or watch his mouth as he spoke every syllable.

"I don't -- don't want my own story; I've written too many words of it already. Terrible words, ones that abandon friends or shatter hope. Gloria's story is worth burning.

"But maybe I have got it wrong," she said. "Maybe you are H'zlz, and maybe I am G'leuse."

Noura had come here, had she not? To explore the dangers of the water, to dance on the edges between life and death. The seamstress did not so deeply consider the threat of the water with Tennant so near. While there were no swaths of marauders between them, her mind had been loosened enough by a few dashes of wine for her imagination to wander.

He was H'zlz. Reason enough for her to place her palm against his chest, dig a heel into the shifting mud, and pry herself out of his grasp, leaving him with little more than the edges of a damp bedgown slithering across his fingers as she turned. Like a thrashing beetle, strode for the black heart of Silver Lake.

Until it ate her shoulders. Until it wrapped its lukewarm womb around her. Until her heel met a precarious stone, her footing deteriorated, and she vanished under the surface with scarcely a breath.
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Rance
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