Out Of The Bleakness

Anaxas' oldest and most prestigious University of Sorcery, the de facto cultural capital of the kingdom and a city in its own right.
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Lars
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:04 pm
Topics: 13
Race: Passive
: hates your laundry
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Writer: Fermin
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:34 pm

Intas 4, 2718 | Morning
Professor Cross' Geology Classroom
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It was only reasonable that he would be swept away from his usual duties and thrust into a different job today. Lars had always been somewhat of a floater within the halls of Brunnhold; while he spent most of his time working in the kitchens and the laundry rooms, it wasn't particularly uncommon for the man to be sent to attend to other matters. He supposed that was one of the downsides to being trusted not to complain or struggle against the temporary change, but at least it was always a change of scenery.

Tomorrow was the first day of classes for the year, so understandably a lot of passives had been shifted around into housekeeping and groundskeeping before and while students came and settled into their dorms. He had personally already been sent to the gardens twice since the first of Intas, and so it wasn't a surprise when his patron made him aware last night that he would be cleaning classrooms in the morning, paired up with some other passive.

He'd let Jamie and Bennett laugh all they liked about how it was the third time this week he was shifted around. They'd likely be shifted around as well before the day was over, and they wouldn't be laughing so much if they were sent to the gardens.

He arose a bit earlier than normal, giving himself time to change into his uniform and find his way to Professor Cross' classroom. He'd never actually been to the room, and the extra time he'd given himself was consumed by wandering into three of the wrong classrooms, but eventually he was pointed to the correct room.

"Oh, Lars, you're in this hall? Great! Professor Cross' room is right over there, but hey, come work with me in Professor Talens' room--"

"Bye, Clover," offered Lars, brushing past the auburn-haired woman that stood in his path, uncaring for how she was pushed to the side and into the door frame of said professor's classroom. Gods, the woman was annoying, but she was more frequently in the classrooms and he'd known she would point him in the right direction. He ignored her words of farewell, lifting his head and making his way further down the hall.

It had been--what, five, almost six years now since he'd first told Clover to back off. It was easier to avoid her these days, but it was still just as frustrating every time her matted hair and overly-enthusiastic expression came into view.

His long, bony fingers brushed against the door frame of what he knew to finally be the correct classroom. Professor Cross taught geology, he noticed, as the room was decorated with rocks and stones and whatever else, he didn't know any of it anyway. A quick glance about the room provided a few things that would be issues for him: dusting off all the decorations would need to be done delicately, so as not to break or let anything fall, but his main issue stemmed from the shelving about the classroom almost six inches above his head. He would need to figure out a way to remedy that, because the short passive certainly wouldn't reach if he stood on his toes.

The twenty-five year-old was silent as he fully entered the room, pulling his hands back to himself and brushing the dust from his fingers. Deciding he might as well get to work, the blonde approached the professor's desk, figuring he might as well start there since he could, you know, reach it. The passive he'd been paired with would likely be there soon, and he wasn't going to attempt any cleaning in the higher places without at least some help.
word count: 660
i was a boy and i was good
but there are witches in these woods

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Renard Verene
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:56 pm
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Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:01 am

geology classroom, brunnhold
on the fourth of intas, 2718, during the morning
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That Renard Vérène was in a better mood than usual was no surprise. Clock’s Eve had been a few days ago, and the chill had gone from bitter to brusque; they were a hop and a skip away from the budding leaves, the hills swept green and dotted with flowers like little splatters of paint. This was Renard’s favorite season, and Intas his favorite month: he liked watching the world crawl from frigidity to the delicate, windblown almost-warmth of early springtime. It put him in mind of the world poured full of life-water anew, Alioe’s gift of a second chance.

Clock’s Eve itself was always a bittersweet sort of reprieve. He did not find much solace in the drunken revelry of his peers, and the hours without work made him restless, but this was the one time of year when Alioe’s name was on nearly everybody’s lips; he felt a little closer to the Everine, to the waters of life and to the sights and smells and sounds of the Church of the Moon, a closeness he was not often afforded by his station. He had used the time wisely and had thought a great deal about his watchful goddess and the cycle of life, and had spent much of the new year in prayer, and he found that this gave him the breath and space to feel some levity.

The blessing of Intas, however, was not unmixed.

Just before the start of the term, housekeeping was in a scramble. On fours, Renard usually found himself on the east side of Brunnhold, sweeping the halls of the Perceptive classroom buildings and, Lady forgive him, snatching tantalizing glimpses of what went on in the Observatory; for that reason, fours were his favorite days, and he usually found himself working with Bernadette or Alindra, both of whom were kind and quiet and left him alone. (Alindra wore her long, dark hair in a plait that mesmerized Renard; he’d hoped privately that it would be her.) Today, though, that was somebody else’s slot to fill, and nearly everybody he knew and liked had been assigned to a dormitory or a garden, and they had sent him to the Static and natural sciences building, of all things – a long and wind-burnt trek across campus, past Peregrin or Doxeter, past the broad walks with their touring new students.

Thankfully, the period of welcome was nearly over. At prayer that morning, he’d beseeched Her to still the wrestling in his soul, to give him patience and endurance and meekness. Charity, too, sympathy and love toward the galdori students he was not. He asked Her to soothe the ache of old wounds with Her waters.

The classroom building echoed with the scuffle of feet on waxed tile, the rustle of fresh-pressed uniforms. He stalked past half-open doors whose brass numbers glinted in the dimness, saw the flurry of dusters and brooms and cloths and mops. The air was thick with the mingling of dust and chemicals; he moved quickly and quietly, scanning the halls for Professor Cross’ door, for familiar faces. Avoiding eye contact and trying to ignore the stares – or the lightning-quick glance-at, glance-away – of his less comfortable acquaintances.

He slipped into Cross’ classroom as silently as a shadow, registering the room before its sole inhabitant. He had been in here before; he liked the place well enough, with its mounds of stone like private mountains, its specimens like dead moons cut open to reveal rivers of light and color. It had been neglected awhile, and a film of dust lay over everything. The floor looked a shade duller than it ought to have, mottled with patches of raincloud-grey. Cobwebs haunted the corners and clung to the baseboards for dear life.

He saw the little blond man at the professor’s desk and his frown deepened. This was not Bernadette or Alindra; this was not even Cassandra, who frequently took the Lady’s name in vain but was nonetheless tolerable. This was a passive that Renard had never seen before, fine-featured and with the hands – the thought came to him wholly unbidden – of a pianist. As Renard pinned his hair up, he studied the other young man in brief, covert glances. He set his bag down on the floor, rifled through it for a duster. Then, taking a deep breath, he moved toward the shelves on the opposite side of the room.

“If you will clean the counters and wipe down the baseboards,” he offered in a soft, even voice, “then I am more than happy to handle the upper shelves all around the room – and the ceilings. I often do, for reasons that you can see quite plainly.” His laugh was low and brief and not particularly mirthful. “I think it’s been some time since anybody cleaned this room. This thick dust.”

word count: 909
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Lars
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:04 pm
Topics: 13
Race: Passive
: hates your laundry
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Fermin
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Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:55 am

Intas 4, 2718 | Morning
Professor Cross' Geology Classroom
Cleaning things had never proven a difficult task for Lars, at least not when he was left to his own devices. It was one of the tasks that he couldn't really mess up and be punished for. He had proven himself an excellent chef in his years working in the kitchen, but working with food unfortunately left one open to the criticisms of those eating it and their ever-changing appetites and tastes. Laundry offered less chances of failure, though even when confined to the laundry rooms the blonde had made mistakes. He could still, sometimes, recall the taste of crimson dye from the day he'd been knocked into the tub and stained red from head to toe.

He preferred working with his hands rather than his mind, and thankfully all of his work had always required the former. Now if only his skin wouldn't tear and bruise so easily with every mistake he made, he wouldn't have to worry quite as much about dropping things or nicking his finger with anything even remotely sharp.

His duster glided softly across the surface of the desk, swiping over the thick layer of dust that coated the stacked books and knick-knacks of Professor Cross'. Always quick to get wrapped up in what was right in front of him, the passive hardly noticed when another entered the classroom.

It wasn't until the older servant spoke that Lars seemed to acknowledge his presence; head snapping up so that vacant blue eyes could stare across the room. It was the man's hair he noticed first, the dark red strands pulled up to reveal a face he definitely hadn't seen before. It was a rare occurrence, but the blonde appeared curious for a moment; interested by the man's appearance but glancing back to the desk after a few moments to return to his distant, dream-like disposition.

"Oh, yes," the passive got out, clearly just now remembering that the man had spoken at all, "thank you. He'll take care of it."

It was uncommon, these days, to find a passive he hadn't met at least once before, but he supposed the man probably stuck to shifts such as these where Lars wasn't often found. He would've remembered the other servant had he seen him before; such an interesting face, he likely dealt with a lot of stares and comments from peers and students alike.

He didn't know what it would be like to always catch attention. Lars was nothing more than a shadow, even in his own mind, and he was hardly noticed unless he was making a mistake or his speech caught someone's attention.

Not wishing to displease the taller man, Lars left the desk once it was to his satisfaction, slipping immediately to the rightmost wall and falling gracefully to his knees. He began to dust along the baseboards, unable to help himself from peeking over towards the other passive again.

"His name is Lars," offered the blonde, "he supposes this is your usual work, then, if you're always tending to the upper shelves. He doesn't know much about cleaning besides dusting and laundry, really, so he apologizes now if he makes a mistake."

His words were spoken almost as if he was expecting it, to make a mistake. Lars was reliable and known to never complain or make a horrible mess of anything, but that didn't mean he didn't occasionally misstep, especially on shifts such as these that weren't his normal.

"What's your name? Methinks we haven't met before," it was unusual for the man to speak this much, especially when first meeting someone, but he was making a conscious effort to engage with the other passive, intrigued by the calm, soft demeanor combined with such a scarred appearance.
word count: 671
i was a boy and i was good
but there are witches in these woods
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Renard Verene
Posts: 9
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Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:18 pm

geology classroom, brunnhold
on the fourth of intas, 2718, during the morning
The younger passive was a fastidious cleaner, Renard noticed with some satisfaction; this, along with his air of quiet grace, was a mark in his favor. Renard held his own housekeeping to high standards, and as a result – although he had no wish to be harsh or cruel – tested others by nearly the same touchstone. He’d snapped at more than one or two junior housekeepers, fresh from their botched initiations and clumsy with still-uncalloused hands; with each new year that passed, each sweep of the floors and dust of the shelves and straightening of everything that the students put awry, he had less patience for poor and sloppy cleaning. It was not a difficult thing to put things into order. He had been good at it even at the start.

As loudly and insistently as his mind told him to be reserved, his springtime-softened heart seemed to feel a kindred spirit, and he began to relax. Then the other passive spoke up, and Renard turned, stopped dusting a moment – scanned the room through a narrowed, suspicious eye. He mouthed words to himself: He’ll? Take care of it? But there was nobody in the room but the two of them, and silence lay as thick as the dust, only broken by the scuffle of feet as his counterpart went to work on the baseboards. Renard paused just a little longer, eye moving to the door. It was ajar, and he could see a sliver of the empty hallway beyond.

How strange.

He’d turned back and begun dusting when he heard the voice again; and again he thought, Whose name is Lars? and went through the motions in his head before it dawned on him. He’d never met anyone who talked like this before. He cast backward in his memory, thinking of some character in some story his mother had read to him once, some clever liar or trickster who talked about himself as if he were telling a story, but Lars did not seem like a clever liar or a trickster. In fact, he seemed a little cowed, apologetic as he was for mistakes he hadn’t yet made.

Then it occurred to Renard that he might be behaving like this because he was frightened of him, and his mood soured by several degrees.

“Benea light your path, Lars,” he said in a clipped tone, “and please – don’t worry about mistakes. If you break something, I promise I will not eat you. Contrary to whatever you have heard, I’m neither a fussbudget nor a monster.” He brushed draping webs from the spines of the books and the corners of the shelves, dusted the wobbling glass tops of cases filled with strange rocks. He did this rather stiffly, and did not look at Lars as he spoke. “My name is Renard. I am almost always in housekeeping, yes.”

He paused as he got to a particularly tricky object that was set a little higher up than the top of his head. Ordinarily, he’d have taken it down and dealt with it; being that he wasn’t sure what it was, or for what purpose it was meant to be used, he found himself squeamish about the concept of picking it up and moving it. It had a lot of movable metal bits and a great deal of glass. Sighing and standing on his tiptoes, he began to clean it with the utmost care, and while he was doing this, some of his irritation melted away.

As he moved on to the next shelf, he frowned. “You’re right. We’ve never met.” He cast a quick glance over at Lars and found that Lars was sneaking a glance at him – he looked back at his work immediately, the back of his neck prickling. He hated to be looked at, and he couldn’t read those strange, distant grey eyes, that look that suggested his soul was elsewhere. It made him feel uncomfortable and sad, and he regretted his earlier terseness.

“I think that I would remember you.” He bit his lip, trying to think of something else to say. Something friendly, this time. “These instruments – confound me. Lady forgive me, but I can’t help but wonder. What do you think they do in here? What is the point of studying rocks, exactly?”

word count: 796
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Lars
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:04 pm
Topics: 13
Race: Passive
: hates your laundry
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Fermin
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Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:49 pm

Intas 4, 2718 | Morning
Professor Cross' Geology Classroom
The other passive's clipped tone didn't go unnoticed by the blonde, his back stiffening ever-so-slightly as the man seemed to take offense to his words. Had he said something wrong? He couldn't recall his mistake, but then, he supposed that was why he had apologized so quickly in the first place--he never knew when he might try to speak and end up failing.

Lars tilted his head to the side, his expression one of genuine confusion as he glanced to the servant as he dusted, "eat him? he should hope not. He wouldn't make for much of a meal."

The real meaning behind Renard's words seemed to slide right over his head, and the notion that he might've heard such things about the man was simply absurd. A monster? He knew that the taller surely dealt with a lot from their peers, but that was harsh to assume the man a fantastical creature. His face was a curiosity, but not one that inspired fear or disgust in the blonde; instead he found himself drawn to the tall, reserved man.

"Remember him," he repeated, almost to himself, "not many do. He's not the most memorable, methinks, but that's alright with him. It's nice to meet you, Renard."

As he finished dusting along the rightmost wall, he moved, pushing his hands against the cold floor to get himself up. He came instead to the wall in which Renard dusted the shelves, far higher up than Lars could've dreamed to reach. For a moment the Hessean observed, eyes focused on the strange, unfamiliar object Renard was dusting, and finding himself only slightly confused by the man's choice of words.

"Confound--he's not sure what that means, really, but he finds them strange, for sure. Maybe they study rocks because...." Lars trailed off, distant gaze dropping to stare at the space right in front of him for a moment as he considered the thought, "...oh, he has no idea. Rocks don't seem the most interesting to learn about; why they would have a whole class for them is beyond him."

Lars dropped to the floor again, resting on his knees as he began to dust along the baseboards, kicking himself inwardly for not having provided a better, more intelligent answer. He couldn't say what half of the things in this room were, let alone what they might be used for.

"He sticks to what he knows--kitchens, laundry rooms, cleaning. Using his head doesn't usually go well," why was he still speaking? He just wanted to talk and fill the silence, but gods, he was painfully aware of how horribly his conversation skills were.

"Sorry. He's not very good at speaking--he doesn't usually want to, really, but you seem... kind. If... that makes any sense. He supposes it probably doesn't. He can be quiet."
word count: 515
i was a boy and i was good
but there are witches in these woods
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Renard Verene
Posts: 9
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Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:12 am

geology classroom, brunnhold
on the fourth of intas, 2718, during the morning
He wouldn’t make much of a meal? Lars’ response baffled him; he was silent for a space of seconds, turning it over in his mind, and then he laughed. It was a brief, husky laugh, but this time it was genuine, and the smile that broke out across his face was warm. It was still twitching and tugging at the edges of his lips when he stopped laughing and resumed dusting, chiding himself for his foolishness. But he couldn’t quite swab away his amusement, however businesslike he squared his shoulders and cleared his throat – how could one’s pride be injured around someone like this?

He had gotten Lars all wrong, he saw now, and he was sorry for it.

“It’s good to meet you, too.” The back of his neck continued to prickle as he heard Lars scuffle to his feet and walk over, and anxiety fluttered around his stomach like moths. The only other person he talked to at length with any frequency was Cassandra, who was coarse and bold and usually wanted to argue; he liked Bernadette, but he supposed she didn’t like him, and Alindra was far too shy to talk, and he didn’t like any of the male passives with whom he lived and worked. Most of the time, he talked to people for practical purposes, to ask practical questions about where he ought to be and what he ought to do, or to direct and guide his juniors in housekeeping. Everyday observations he reserved for prayer. It was simply not respectable to run your mouth all the time.

Lars was quite near him now, looking at the object he’d just dusted. “Well,” replied Renard, “confounded just means that it’s beyond me as well. They are pretty, though. I can hardly question the beauty of the gods’ creation.” He paused again – briefly – to turn a little, offer Lars a glimpse of a tired smile; then he turned back. He was dusting a large case of what looked for all the world like coal when he heard a tiny crack, like the reverb of splintering ice beneath one’s feet. Wincing, he stood up on the tips of his toes to survey the shelf more closely.

He was also listening to Lars, and his frown deepened. As he scanned the filthy glass for hairlines, he thought hard. That feeling of kinship had crept back in through the back of his mind and nestled itself somewhere around the bottom of his heart; now it made the whole of him ache. Renard, too, sought refuge in what he knew, and most days he succeeded. At the moment, though, he felt exposed.

And he wondered at Lars. He thought of asking Alioe to guide him and ease his spirit, but he fumbled to figure out what exactly felt wrong; his manner of speech was strange, but he was twice as demure as half the passives in Brunnhold, and seemed an excellent fellow for any sort of work. He lacked confidence, perhaps; so did many people. Renard felt suddenly as if they were passing ships, glimpsing each other’s sails furtively by moonlight.

“No,” he said quickly, moving on to the next shelf. He didn’t look at Lars, but he tried to smile. “It does make sense. I promise. I’m sorry I was terse. I do not always think the best of people.” His smile trickled, sad, into another frown; his scarred brow furrowed. “I wish that I was better at this myself. You needn’t be quiet, anyway; I am enjoying our talk.”

He knelt, producing a rag and a small glass bottle of solution from his bag. He began going over the dirty glass case, running his rag in circles and along the grime-caked corners, careful to work the cloth slowly and not press too hard.

He snuck another glance at Lars, tried to read that faraway profile.

“He seems a very conscientious cleaner,” Renard said softly. “Perhaps he should be assigned to housekeeping more often. I notice he pays a great deal of attention to detail, and I am not easily impressed.”

word count: 761
User avatar
Lars
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:04 pm
Topics: 13
Race: Passive
: hates your laundry
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Writer: Fermin
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Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:06 am

Intas 4, 2718 | Morning
Professor Cross' Geology Classroom
The sound of laughter was a surprising one to reach the passive's ears, the brief noise caught his attention quickly and found his eyes watching the taller man's smile curiously. His roommate Jamie was one that found laughter easily, as did Bennett on occasion, but the notion that he had made someone laugh himself was new. It was refreshing, almost, to drag such a nice reaction from a fellow servant rather than irritated grunts or unnecessary comments on his speech. He looked away just as quickly, not wishing to ruin the lightness of the moment.

It was rare, as well, for someone to explain the meaning behind a word he didn't know--it was usually obvious when the blonde didn't understand something; he either made them aware of it or it was clear through his own misuse of the word, but it was nice to be taught something. He nodded slowly, listening to the housekeeper speak of beauty and creation; subjects not often brought up in his own life.

Lars supposed his own family simply hadn't been all that religious, as he'd never learned much about the gods beyond the fact that they were... a thing. He knew their names, but only because he'd heard each of them throughout the years, from fellow servants and students alike. Renard seemed a more religious man than most, and he tucked the information away, his thoughts dissipating nonetheless when the small sound of cracking glass brought his eyes back to the case the man was dusting.

"He thinks they're pretty, too. He's actually surprised by how pretty some of them are," admitted Lars, and as Renard moved to start cleaning the next shelf on the wall, the blonde finished up with the wall itself and moved to the next. He was working a bit faster now, relaxing into the space as his attempts at conversation were received better than he had expected, and although another unfamiliar word was thrown out--terse--he ignored it this time, focusing on his work.

It wasn't until the red-haired passive began speaking again, this time conforming to his own use of pronouns, that Lars looked over again. His glances never seemed to quite land in the right spot; steely eyes perhaps never quite focusing on what he was looking at, but for a moment the servant's surprise showed through, "that's very kind of you--he likes cleaning. He likes most things that so clearly show the work he's done, he supposes, it's very..."

Trailing off again, the blonde took a breath, glancing back to the baseboards as he continued to dust, "...rewarding?"

It was phrased as a question, but he was pretty sure that it was the right word. Lars finished with the baseboards soon after, pushing himself from the floor yet again so that he might start cleaning the counters as Renard had requested. He had been spot on with his statement on the thick dust; producing a layer of it on his fingertips as he swiped a hand across the surface in question.

"Goodness, this room is dirty. He doesn't know how it can have this much dust; Professor Cross probably hasn't let anyone in to clean in ages; you were right, methinks," offered the passive as he wiped the counters down, "and well, if you don't mind him speaking, he has a question?"

Lars turned, gaze flicking across the room again to where Renard cleaned the glass case, "maybe he's misunderstood, but you seem like a very religious man. Is it strange for him to ask about it? About the gods, he means. He knows little of them besides their names, and since we have nothing else to do while we clean... he's curious. Is that bad to ask about? He admits he doesn't know what's rude or not sometimes, uh," turning back to the counter, he continued to clean.

"He feels like he's missing something, almost."
word count: 699
i was a boy and i was good
but there are witches in these woods
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Renard Verene
Posts: 9
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Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:35 pm

geology classroom, brunnhold
on the fourth of intas, 2718, during the morning
T hings that so clearly…” Renard smiled again. “Well-put. Yes, I agree.”

As if to make his point, he finished swabbing the glass case in front of him. It was a wholly different object than it had been a few moments ago: if you had put this glass case next to its old self, nobody would have thought they were related. Renard had cleaned years of misuse and neglect off of the glass; it was still old and fragile, perhaps, still marked with the ghosts of thumb-prints, spiderweb hairline cracks like cuticles on calloused fingers, but now one could see the rocks inside, perched on their beds of velvet.

He took a deep breath. It had occurred to him often that perhaps he liked putting things in order because it gave him control over at least one tiny sphere of his life, which, as a gated passive, was largely out of his hands. Without fail, cleaning produced results, and usually the same ones. It was the opposite of diablerie, of the winds of change and the wheel of fortune that came with being alive. Passives more than anybody needed structure, he’d always felt. Perhaps if he’d gone to Brunnhold when he was ten, if he’d had this structure and proximity to the Church of the Moon, if his parents had done as they were told right at the start…

Another deep breath. He moved on to the next shelf, studying it with a narrowed eye. Then Lars spoke again, and he shot the other passive a glance – a sharp, uncomfortable glance, wincing slightly and biting his lip. It was true that he liked talking to Lars, but he was not sure how ready he was for that question. And what else did anybody ever want to ask about?

His expression softened, and he glanced away. Lars had not asked about that. As the blond servant went on, his uncertain frown became an almost-smile, and he thought in silence for a little while after he’d finished; he swept a row of books with his duster, watching the particles flurry and disperse in a patch of sunlight from a window just above. That was a sort of magic, he thought, like particles of the mona – the way the sunlight limned things, stuck to them like honey, showed them moving on currents of air the eye couldn’t see. Like magic for a servant, at least. Safer than fire.

“You’re not misunderstood, Lars,” he said at length, “and it’s all right to ask about that. I wouldn’t call myself – religious –” He paused, grunting as he stood on the tips of his toes and stretched to reach a particularly difficult nook. Then he chewed his lip again, sighed. “Well, yes, relatively. I suppose. I spend a lot of my time in prayer. Most of the others think I’m terribly dour, but I feel that it is important for us as passives to be contemplative, to try and have – a relationship with the Circle. Especially Alioe, whose church we are so blessed to have near us.”

He began dusting some large geodes, cut open to reveal strange, glistening worlds.

“Were you never taught about the gods? I mean no offense. Anaxas is Alioe’s, and Her sphere is time – the past and the future – and the Deep Spring, where the stream of our life’s water goes as we age… and die, eventually. And are refilled, reborn.” He paused to look at a particularly pleasing geode, dead as a boulder on the outside but full of vivid blue and green. He frowned deeply. “Of course, I honor the whole Circle, but Alioe is our Lady of Anaxas, of time, of the moon, and I think she is watchful of us – passives, I mean. I mean – I do not know if that is… correct. It is said, of course, that galdori are the most beloved.” His lips twitched. “I’m afraid I do not know much about the rest of the Circle. I know that Hulali is a great fish and watches over Mugroba, and that Hesse belongs to Ophur. And Gior, my mother’s land, to the child-god Imaan…

“What do you believe, Lars? Why do you feel you’re missing something?”

word count: 785
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