Dawn Follows After.

Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:25 am

A knock upon the seamstress' door - quietly made, and with the precision one would expect from a creature which finds its solace in order.

And the woman herself? nondescript in the manner of her garments, for there'd been a whole night in which to soak away the travel and strip the foreign fabrics from her skin. No more the summery cottons which had startled a Councilor's eyes the night previous, but simple linens cut to suit the austerity which has been her habit of years. But there remains a weapon to her hip, a tell-tale presence besides hid beneath the one arm's sleeve; contradictory, the dark hair that hangs loose to her hips, and from the nape of her neck curls a hint of dark ink --

That's a serving-plate, balanced there between her hands.
Its twin mugs steam invitingly; the little pot beside them promises sugar, and entirely too much of it.

"Paper's no good for conversation," she murmurs - by way of greeting, and very quietly smiles.
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:47 am

A knock.

Rusted bolt sliding free.

A gap between jamb and door offered a sliver-thin glimpse of the abode behind the figure that answers: the room bore no identity, no telling quality of residence except wrinkled bedding strewn across hay-stuffed ticking; on the visible nightstand, a pewter plate cradled the melted evidence of deformed, long-burnt candles. The shutters of the single window have been thrown wide to invite cleansing daylight into the apartment, and this was enough to reveal her--

The same girl Ariane knew, but altered, changed by time as if the months had both given and taken away. A thin sleeping-gown hung across her broad shoulders. The lilting fabric of a black shawl was compressed against her breast with the stocking-wrapped nub of her left arm. Under her bent elbow, the hilltop of her swollen abdomen protruded against the dingy fabric. Round. Disproportionate. Alien.

Paper's no good for conversation.

Ariane smiled. Gloria Wynsee's bare feet shifted backward a step. She pushed the door open wide. An invitation. And though she was larger, broader, hips and ribs strained beneath her loose-fitting raiment to accommodate the new weight, her face was a dark-skinned hollow. But when she smiled, the curve, the sentiment, was genuine.

"Ariane," she said.

She saw the tea, the little pod of sugar.

"Did you find yourself?"
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:43 am

The room is not unlike her own - they share a certain sparseness - and there is no noticing it; what room is there in her thoughts for anything but what stands here before her eyes? For time has given Gloria a child in exchange for her health, and it is as a testament to every caution the swordswoman had learned by heart, a girl-child at her mother's knee. It is the living realisation of tales told by aunts, by distant cousins (could she even remember their names? they were so few and so seldom and it was all so long ago). It is an echo of women she'd known and birthings she'd witnessed: Nochka, fetch the water and the thread and my knife -

and in the end all she could remember was the blood.

This would have been her - eighteen years ago, had a betrothal not ended within hours; had the young bride not desperately fled. This would have been her - ten years, eight years ago - if she'd not murdered the child-things forced on her long before they could be born. Instead, it is Gloria - and in every, inevitable way, that is so much worse.

She swallows the sight of it in a glance, in the space of a difficult breath.

"How this must seem." A tilt of her chin for troublesome tea. "I know. And this is no time to make superstitions from ordinary things." A moment's quiet insistence will see space enough made upon the nightstand to accommodate this tray. "The tea is - rooibosch," she explains; 'red-bush', it almost seems, if one's willing to claw through the accent and listen none-too-closely besides. "For young mothers who don't care to suffer so with the sickness; no harm - " an upwards glance " - for the child you carry, in drinking this. None whatever. But perhaps it makes you able to - eat a little." A little, by the look of her, would be something.

"It was never about finding. But I am here, Glour'eya, to learn of you."

And perhaps this girl - this woman, this seamstress and sometimes student - will forgive a swordswoman the caution with which she strives to keeps sympathy from becoming grief.
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:21 am

"There must have been a reason."

They held two separate conversations. When Ariane spoke, the words vaporized in the air and Gloria's filled their void. They talked around one another, sounds emitted in the sanctity of this simple, daylit room. She walked like a weighted wraith, her bare feet scuffing against the creaking floorboards as Ariane turned to place the offering of auburn tea on the nightstand. The liquid was the shade of blood suffused into water. Gloria's palm clasped over a cup, the steam curling up around the meat of her palm.

"I don't at all begrudge you the -- the need to be apart from this place. But there must have been a reason. Yes? To find who you are again, to--" her pale eyes danced toward the sliver of infused ink curling up from Ariane's collar, "--put your pieces back together after someone disorganized them against your will. I couldn't imagine. I can't." Neither of them required the euphemism, but as Gloria brought the rooibosch to her lips and drank, she tasted nothing at all. "I said prayers for you. That woman deserved the death she found, for breaking something unbreakable, for scattering the pieces of someone I admire a great deal."

With the bed moaning underneath her, she sat.

For young mothers who don't care to suffer so with the sickness.

"The sickness has been gone for months. But the pain remains. I can feel every -- every moment of it, with the parts inside gradually shifting to accommodate a new resident. My feet swell, my ribs ache, my breasts complain, and my body consistently reminds me that my only purpose right now is to function as -- as a comfortable vessel for an intruder. Every night, every few hours, agony stirs in places I did not know I could ever feel such things. I go cold, my head spins, and I think, I'm not ready yet."

She sipped. Gloria trusted the tea; she trusted, without ever needing to express such a sentiment, the good intentions of her visitor.

"It happens to every Jerno eventually, Ariane. It's in our blood. This--" she glanced down at the bulbous addition to her body, the passenger. Finally, when her eyes sought out the older woman -- a swordswoman, a benefactor, a tutor, a friend, and all her elusive, cunning mannerisms -- the Gloria that looked back at Ariane was a dull, exhausted spectre of the foreigner that once, with zeal, wandered the halls of Darkenhold in search of knowledge and belonging.

"Do you still want to know me?"
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:34 am

There is suddenly so much, and all of it has such weight.

A woman could drown beneath such a deluge of words - and might have, months ago, when she was an unspoken scream wearing a human body. Might even now, except that these words are so Gloria-like in their volume - so absolutely like her that what could have suffocated instead only comforts a creature who hadn't come here to be comforted at all. She does not struggle, but listens, and fills the listening with forward motion: the spindly chair is frail in her hands, but spun about on its legs it serves to face the girl who'd seated herself. And so she does in her turn, and

they are not mirror images even then, these two.
not in any sense at all.

"What do you think." It sounds like an accusation, when you say it like this. "That someone pays me coin to do this? To fetch you things? ask you things?" It becomes something else, when the smile begins tug at her mouth's edge. "That I'm the uniquely kind sort of person who simply makes a point of paying visits to girls who are to be young mothers? do you actually think that?" And Gloria is so careful with that teacup, so dutiful when she drinks - but here are two hands which mean to interrupt it all: which enfold the girl's own, teacup and all, and for this single, essential moment, gently hold.

"Ach werthfawr ataf," she breathes, eyes for the girl's own; and then, quiet and solemn - "I want to know you. I insist to know you. You tell me now: do I wear the look of a woman who will indulge any doubt of this?"
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:08 pm

"No."

Because every answer was a no, because only a consonant and a vowel can provide the firm, operational response that Ariane Emory required this girl to understand.

The chair adjusted.

The hands -- a swordswoman's grip -- enscapsulated her own around that tea, that healing tea, that friend-given tea--

Ach werthfawr ataf.

Gloria Wynsee could not interpret, even if she had only recently discovered the anvil in her mind that could beat meaning out of language, heat it, reshape it into a functional tool to wield when the time and circumstance was apt. The three words were one in her ear, a sentiment that both lacerated and cauterized. Without warning -- these are the hands of a friend, I cannot lie to her, I could never lie to her -- the young mother's eyes tore away from Ariane's. She bowed her head until wiry brambles of black hair spilled like lakeweed across Ariane's knuckles and dipped down, down into the smooth, refreshing tea.

"An impulse. Just one stupid, frightened instinct, a need, and I -- I said the Glass Words--"

A tremor grew in her shoulders, rolled to her ribs,
echoed in her belly.
A rattling noise rang in her throat before it burst
and she sobbed, breaths driven with a hammer's force from her lungs
and a long banner of saliva dangled
like a dullard's ribbon from her lower lip.

Leaning forward, her forehead pressed a hot, red ring into the skin of Ariane's hands.

"I raped him."
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:27 am

It is not a pronouncement, this thing the seamstress says. It is not the lightning that announces the storm, but the the thunder which underscores it all. Even as she speaks those words, the swordswoman's coaxing the teacup from amongst her fingers before it spills all over their knees; has gotten a hand to Gloria's hair lest it drown in sticky sweet. Practical measures, and the girl's sob wrenches right through her heart -

and we are two years ago; a boy is a man is a boy again.
panicked, pained eyes and desperate control; her brow rests light against his own
we are six months ago; the scent of orange hangs bright in the air.
violent collapse; a collision of lunging hands and shattering desperation and she

"Glour'eya - "

Tangled hands; an arm come sudden around the girl's shoulders, like all their world could be these warm, close shadows and nevermind the cold room outside. Quiet insistence, and too much strength in that embrace, perhaps, for a girl in Gloria's state. But what the swordswoman had discovered in this room was a precious thing, a desperately precious thing, pushed to breaking-point - and all that she knows to do with a moment like this is to plunge herself right into it -

" - what you did was not nearly so cruel." Quiet insistence, murmured soft against the girl's hair. A better person would have left it at that; a kinder woman - a sister, a mother - would have simply held the girl. She is not these things, and never will be; she has never known how to see only the sweetness. "You regret it? you are right to. You detest it? of course you do; you are human.

But it is not what you said, and both we know that. You saw those birthing-pens, mn? You know."
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:27 pm

"I saw those birthing-pens. I know," she repeated from dead lips.

The arm bound itself around her with a tension that once, once, could have been wielded with the desire to cut her from crotch to throat and leave her to die; it had killed for good reasons, that arm, knew the weight of a sword better than anything else. But it surrounded her now like a motherthing, a sisterthing, and what she wanted was to claw at the wrist with remaining fingers, push her away, snarl no, no, this is undeserved, this isn't balance, this isn't right--

(Had there ever been time for tears in northern new dauntless, Ariane, or did they freeze in your soul before they ever met the frigid air, did the warm, smoking blood on your hands after you ran him through, with your pretty hair all tied and tangled in marriage-blades, help them evaporate?)

So much unsaid; instead, selfish and addled, with tea scavenged from her shaking palm, she whispered secrets into a shoulder that was not hers to hide against.

"He was wild. He -- he was wild, and so I told him to be still, be very still. I meant to calm him with -- with Glass Words, silence the smoke in his eyes.

"And then I became wild. Incensed. I wanted something I'd never had."

Belly was large and hefty and stonelike under the folds of her ankle-length smallclothes, a blister she looked down to and touched like a foreign object, an intruder. And now a different he, a frightful inquiry that her ragged voice needed to make as bulging eyes turned away.

"Do you forgive the beast that sought to turn your wedding-bed into -- into a place of pain, Ariane? For aren't he and I, aren't we the same now?"
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:40 pm

A woman who's murdered husbands and buried lovers; who's spoken a thousand unwilling Farewells. Who knows the look of a good life well-lived because she learned it from a dying woman's heart; who'd driven a good man to trembling horror in her demand for answers; who'd traced with her fingers the scars burned into his hands. Who'd stared into the flat panic of a youth who was consuming himself from the inside out -

What might such a woman say on the matter of Deserve?
They could have spoken of it for hours, for days. By the end of it they would be speaking very loudly.

Here - now - Gloria's buried her face against a shoulder that is for her because it was given to her, and the only shame of it is that it's not better-suited to a girl's complicated needs. All that hard, lean strength is intended for other purposes entirely - but the hands, at least, know how to be gentle. They are, when they now and then they push the hair back from the girl's brow as she listens; an imitation of other times, and not so long ago...

"Forgive him? A man who had coin enough to buy whatever might please his fancies - horses, gilt; a girl barely grown for his bed. A man who meant to watch as I died beneath his hands - not for vengeance, not for hate, but only because the sight of it delighted him; a man with influence enough that none would think to question his whims, even the very strangest... "

She has scarcely set eyes upon it - that swollen belly, that waiting child. It was its mother's face that commanded her attention, and since first they opened that door - and here her hand's untangled just to lift the girl's chin; just to be sure that she can see these words as they're spoken. For:

"I do not forgive him. And I do not regret ending his life. What I regret is that I was - desperate enough to be a fool, and fool enough to mistake a, a pretty face and a pleasant manner for love. But what - what is this, Glour'eya. This question. Do you mean to - to scavenge through my life for - what, for monsters to which you might liken yourself? Oh, you'll find - cruel, cold things if you search for them, most severely that. And sometimes those things will be me - "

She's almost laughing, by then; almost and not at all.

"But all that scavenging will learn you only one thing: that a fool you might have been, and thoughtless besides, and desperate and young and alone, and equipped with more power than you could properly manage - but cruel? No; that, you were not. And never, not once, were you nearly so vile as they."
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:24 am

Oh, you'll find - cruel, cold things if you search for them, most severely that. And sometimes those things will be me -

When had she become this, she wondered; when had she surrendered the sparks of maturity she yearned possess for this simpering, needful weakness? Why did she require these words, that others should shred themselves to ribbons for her comfort and consolation? For here, Ariane chiseled out truth and tutelage from old, hidden scars. A thumb and forefinger formed a scaffold for her chin. Gloria never looked away from Ariane's eyes. The pale gray had been worn to the shade of dull, dirty wool. They gleamed, ugly gems in an ugly face, pressed in not by a sculptor's delicate thumb but by harder, more uncaring creators. Tongue danced to find the right apology while saliva glistened in a divot of sand-scarred skin below her chin.

"No. No," Gloria brayed. "No intent to scavenge, no desire to awaken old shadows. It wasn't my place or propriety to stir them. That beast earned the fang you gave him, and better he remain dead instead of be resurrected by some fool girl, some idiot, some maggot."

Her voice refused to shake; she, in that moment, was Sylvius Duquesne's Gloria, his student, his rhetor who spurned her own emotions for economy of thought.

"But what I require, Ariane, is a measurement. A reckoning. Should a murderer not suffer his due? Should a thief not lose his hand, or repent with blood? I imprisoned him in words; I took," she said, her yellowed teeth clacking, snapping down on the word, "what was not mine."

...a fool you might have been, and thoughtless besides, and desperate and young and alone, and equipped with more power than you could properly manage - but cruel?

"Should it be ignored or forgotten because he is Catch? Had it been anyone else, were I a man, they would mutilate, avenge, and balance."

She drew away from Ariane, only enough to sit with spine straight and her bulbous core protruding.

"A wolf's life was ended for what it did to my hand.

"A Storyteller perished because the instincts of her tongue were answered with a blade.

"Rhaena Olwak's blood is fresh in the air, its emptying rightly justified."

No stammers. Just a solid, tear-dampened face -- not a girl's, but a woman's -- that begged, answer me.
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Carnath-Emory » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:25 am

"I don't question your place; I don't give that - " The girl's chin is loosed; liberated fingertips click a sound before her eyes. " - for propriety. I'm distinguishing between Useful and Not. Scavenge as you will." The slightest smile, all for the sound of a word that's so at odds with their circumstances. "But I think what you'll find is not suited to your - "

some fool girl.
some idiot, some maggot
.

Gloria's voice does not shake when it shapes those words. But it makes a swordswoman's jaw to clench against the sound of it all, a tension that clings to her throat and her eyes as the young rhetor makes herself understood.

"Do not, not for one moment, Glour'eya Wynsee, think that I ignore what was done to him." When she is done with her words, and with some sick breath of sound, for: "'Had it been anyone else'," she echoes the girl. "Really? you say this to me? Had it been 'anyone else', Glour'eya, I might - detest it - less. Had it done him any harm, any hurt, anything at all that he could comprehend, Glour'eya, this would be a very different conversation and we would not be simply speaking."

A moment, now. A moment to dim the pale burn her voice had become; a moment for breath - hers and the girl's.

" - but neither do I ignore you. What was done to you; what has wounded you; the problem that moment presented you, the Why and What Then of it all. I do not excuse. Be clear on that. I do not excuse - but this is a thing to be understood, not - dismissed as a brutal, wicked villainy. Do you mean to speak of Justice - in that context? in any context at all? We can, if you like. We can speak of a wolf which was killed - and perhaps we can admit that Justice would have seen that beast hobbled and the hurt it did you undone. Don't you think? Justice would have seen a Storyteller turn the knife on her own throat before she could think to make designs upon children; Justice - for Rhaena - "

It is the quietest, gentlest sort of hurt.
It is regret, and the knowledge that - even now - that regret is tainted with misdirection.

" - would have been complicated. And it would have begun a very, very long time ago."

A slight shake of her head. Everything had adjusted: the young seamstress drawing straighter where she sat upon the bed; the swordswoman - engaged - had drawn a boot-heel up into the edge of her seat, had slung an elbow across the bent knee. Becomes - now - something that's almost casual; something that begins to relent.

"Deaths, and deaths, and deaths - you're calling that Justice, Glour'eya, but it's not. It's vengeance - tightly-controlled; it's also a necessity - the execution of a thing that will not otherwise refashion its ways; that will not otherwise suffer to be - harmless, benign. So it was with my chyort husband that day; so it was - "

But imagine this, Glour'eya: that eight bad deaths served to end a cycling slaughter and blunt the edge from a girl's insupportable outrage.
That eight deaths and the promise of more served to save three necks from the axeman's blade.
Three deserving necks, three very guilty souls,
and she'd loved it, it was the most glorious thing she had ever done
- what is Justice?

" - and so it has been, and you, Glour'eya - you are not their sort. You are no wolf, you are no murderer of children; you are a girl who reached for what was not hers, who reached and should never have owned the power to reach so far. There is no Justice, Glour'eya. There is only Never Again."

in the end, she'd answered that puzzle by killing her self.
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Re: Dawn Follows After.

Postby Rance » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:06 am

"There is only Never Again."

I pray you, merit the phrase its patience: it took me many minutes to listen to you and plant the words as a seed in my heart, Ariane. It was not the response I hoped I would get. For months I imagined you would return; I presumed you would wear stones in your eyes, grab me by the collar of my dress and drag me, a rotten scamp, a criminal, through the muddy streets. At the Marketplace, people would shout bitch, dog, foreigner, filth, coward, raper, Jerno, and all the weights would have their counterbalance inside me. It would hurt, but I would be so very thankful that it was made right, it was finished.

Instead, I watched you from that bed -- do you remember when I was fat and heavy with my child; hear, hear, she plays now out in the gardens and we're like little old crones with our tea and your sword here -- and you still trusted me; you did not shame me or judge me, you never doubted me in eyes or words, and--

"Death is not justice," said the pregnant girl, "but if justice cannot be had, then how is this hatred, this disgust I bear for myself -- how is it remedied? I avoid Cherny, my very brother, because since I discovered the child inside me, I fear I've broken everything we've ever had; Catch cowers, refuses to look me in the eye, cannot trust me for my skin, for my urges.

"And when this child comes to know the awful things her mother did, will she ever forgive me for ripping her out of the comfort of nothing? Will it alter her, to know she was not conceived in love, but like some divine castigation for my impulse?"

I felt it slipping, too, the veil, the rhetor; do you remember back then, when I was sixteen and trying to be something I wasn't, I would try and try to be composed, mature, but it would crumble down because I couldn't hold back the emotion any longer--

An imperfect vessel could only contain her instincts so long; her motion, her need, was sudden: gown-sleeved arm, with the only hand that remained, tightened itself into a fist with whitewashed knuckles, shaking, violently quivering.

Once, twice, she drove the spine of her fist against the heardboard, clap, clap, a hammer of flesh and bone wreaking havoc upon wood. Two tiny crescents of blood darkened the oak. A hoarse, guttural scream rattled from her throat, unanticipated and fearsome, hateful, spiteful, mad--

She closed her eyes.

"Help me," a Jerno asked a Dauntless, "to be tightly-controlled. Help me to -- to never be that woman who reaches too far ever again. Please. Else I fear I will decimate the world with my blatant disregard, with my mistakes, Ariane. Whether it's just my world, or that in which those I love choose to live. Catch. Cherny. You. Others.

"And -- and this child who will call me mother."
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