A new beginning?

Cecelia has to turn to one of her husband's old acquaintances for help.

Brunnhold's college town, located inside the university grounds.
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Cecelia Driscoll
Posts: 34
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:30 pm
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Writer: Rachel/jadeowl
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Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:57 am

Cecelia chewed her lip as she made her way to work, her daughter Galiya on her hip. “Please let Diena be in a good mood,” she thought to herself. Normally, she would’ve left her daughter with Leona or Leona’s oldest daughter, but both of the women were sick with some sort of stomach flu and couldn’t take care of Galiya. She had brought Galiya to work before, but Diena was often snippy and especially judgmental of the work that Cecelia finished for her on days where Galiya was present.

But it couldn’t be helped. Seamus was already hitting the bottle before she left for work and she didn’t trust him to not slap Galiya around if she was cranky. All Cecelia could do was pray that Diena wouldn’t be too upset by the child’s presence.

Cecelia was both relieved and worried when she got to work and the office was empty. She used her key to unlock the door and made her way to her desk. Diena’s absence was both a blessing and a curse. Cecelia would be able to put off any confrontations with Diena, but if Diena wasn’t there because something was going wrong, it would be likely that Cecelia would get the brunt of Diena’s anger if the woman showed up.

“Nothing you can do about it, Cecelia. Get to work and pray for the best,” she told herself.

She put Galiya in the basket that did double duty as a crib, since the girl had been falling asleep on Cecelia’s way to work. She stroked the girl’s hair and leaned down to kiss her forehead. “Get some sleep, precious,” she said quietly.

For the first hour, things were quiet. Cecelia typed up letters and worked on the next month’s budget. Galiya slept peacefully, hidden behind the desk.

A shrill voice ruined the peacefulness and Cecelia winced. “Cecelia!”

Cecelia winced. If Diena was using that tone of voice, she was definitely not in a good mood. “I’m in the reception room,” she yelled back, nudging Galiya’s basket a bit so it was better hidden behind a box of paperwork she needed to file.

She heard the click of Diena’s heels before the woman came up behind her. “The clocking caravan from clocking Mugroba is going to be a couple days late. Something about a clocking illness hitting everyone,” she snarled. “I need that clocking fabric!”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Diena,” Cecelia said in her most soothing professional voice. “Is there anything I can do?”

Diena let out a short, angry laugh. “You’re a bloody secretary. What the fuck do you think you can do about everyone in a clocking caravan falling ill?”

Cecelia kept her voice calm. “I could send out some couriers to a few of the other fabric stores to see if they have that sort of fabric on hand. You’d have to pay them, but nothing says you have to pay the caravan if you had to get replacement fabric.”

“You don’t get it, you clocking idiot. That fabric was specially dyed for us!” Diena replied.

“Ah, I see,” Cecelia said.

Galiya chose that moment to wake up and coo quietly.

Diena’s eyes narrowed and she glared at Cecelia. When she spoke, her voice was tight with anger. “Did you bring the child to work again?”

Cecelia swallowed. “Yes, ma'am. Her usual babysitters are sick and I didn’t have time to find her another babysitters.”

“Bullshit!” Diena yelled. “Bullshit! You clocking brought her in to rub her in my face.”

Cecelia frowned, completely confused. “She stays either in the basket or in the playpen, well out of your way.”

“You rub the fact that you can have children in my face, just by bringing her here, you stupid bitch,” Diena screamed, spittle flying from her lips. “You know I can’t have children! And yet you, a horrible parent who can’t even fucking put the little shit in daycare, can. How fucking fair is that?”

“You don’t pay me enough to put her in daycare,” Cecelia thought to herself, though she was smart enough to not bring that up. Instead, she addressed Diena’s infertility issues. “You… never told me you couldn’t have kids, Diena,” she said hesitantly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Bullshit! Get out!” Diena’s voice cracked into a shrill shriek.

Cecelia just blinked, confused. “Excuse me?” Cecelia asked.

“Get. Out. Get your personal belongings and the little clocking brat and GET OUT OF MY OFFICE,” she bellowed. “You’re clocking fired!”

“What? You’re firing me? For bringing Galiya in? I didn’t know you had an issue with her being here!” Cecelia protested.

“If you were a decent fucking parent, you wouldn’t have had to ever bring her in!” Diena snarled. “Get out now, before I call the Seventen!”

“Can I have my wages for this week, at least?” Cecelia asked.

“I’ll clocking send them to you by courier,” Diena growled. “Get the fuck out of here. I swear to the clocking Circle, I’ll call the Seventen if you’re not out of here in 10 minutes.”

Cecelia closed her eyes for a moment, in shock. Then she got up and started gathering the few things that were hers, stuffing them in her carrying bag. She knew that arguing with Diena would be a waste of time. Clearly Diena thought that Cecelia had some ulterior motive when she brought Galiya to work and Cecelia doubted she could convince Diena otherwise.

“What the clocking fuck am I going to do?” Cecelia thought as she left the office for the last time, Galiya on her hip and her bag over her opposite shoulder.

She walked to the park by where she and Galiya lived with her boyfriend Seamus, setting Galiya down on the ground and sitting down heavily on a park bench. She watched the little girl explore the world around her while she tried to process what had just happened.

How the clock was Cecelia supposed to know that the woman couldn’t have kids? How the clock was she supposed to know that bringing Galiya into work hurt Diena? She wasn’t a clocking telepath and the woman had never mentioned she had issue with Galiya being in the office until today. That’s not something that Cecelia would forget and, if Diena had mentioned that seeing Galiya upset her, she would have tried harder to find a backup babysitter.

“Seamus is going to clocking kill me,” she muttered to herself. The man took Cecelia’s wages to keep himself in booze and drugs and he would be livid when he found out that his little luxuries would have to be limited until she found a new regular job. She had a side job with Leona, doing some basic sewing and mending, but that job was hardly regular. Her wages from that job were being socked away to try to save up for her own place, too, so having to rely on them to survive was only going to delay her getting herself and Galiya out of the unsafe living situation Cecelia had managed to find herself in. Seamus didn't hesitate to hit her and Cecelia knew that he'd eventually escalate to hitting Galiya.

Luckily, she had a few hours to waste until Seamus would be home from the bar. She spent another half hour watching Galiya explore, occasionally stopping her from putting something like rocks or fallen leaves into her mouth. Galiya eventually looked up and went “cookie?” and Cecelia’s lips curved up in a tiny smile. “Yeah, let’s go home and get you a cookie,” she said, standing up and picking up the girl.

She stopped at a newsstand and picked up a copy of help wanted ads and then made her way home, dread increasing with every step. She unlocked the house door and made her way to the kitchen, her shoulders relaxing some when she realized Seamus wasn’t home yet. She gave Galiya her cookie and sat at the kitchen table as Galiya sat in the corner of the room, playing with the doll Cecelia had made from an old shirt and munching on her cookie.

Cecelia started a simple stew for dinner and then sat down at the tiny dining table to both watch Galiya and scan through the wanted ads. Her heart dropped when she realized how few jobs were in town. Most of the jobs advertised were jobs involving the harvest and Cecelia could hardly afford to travel to a farm.

She got up and looked at the clock, sighing as she realized it was 18 o’clock already. Seamus would be home soon, and she was quite literally terrified what his reaction would be to the news that Cecelia was unemployed. She stirred dinner and picked the now-sleeping Galiya up, moving the girl to her crib. She’d have to wake the girl up in an hour to feed her, but she would let her sleep for now.

She considered hiding the help wanted ads but decided it would make Seamus angrier if he found them. Knowing him, he would assume she was trying to lie to him if she tried to hide the fact that she was jobless. She couldn’t win either way, but she didn’t need to make things worse.

Cecelia closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she heard the door slam open. Seamus’s heavy footsteps practically shook the little shack they lived in as he stomped into the kitchen. The man was huge, standing 6’0” and built like a man who had spent a long life doing hard labor. Of course, he hadn’t worked a day in his life, instead choosing to date women who would support him as soon as he left his mother’s house. “Why’re ya home, ya lit’le bint?” he snarled as he saw Cecelia at the stove.

“Diena fired me,” Cecelia whispered, looking down at the ground.

“Wha’ ya say?” Seamus shouted, his voice a harsh, grating tone that said he was red hot angry.

Cecelia cringed back at his tone. “Oh, Alioe, this is going to be bad,” she thought to herself before replying. “Diena fired me.”

“Diena fired ya?!” Seamus yelled. He was across the room in a second and his hand struck her across the face. Cecelia’s head turned with the force of the hit. “Wha’ did ya clockin’ do, ya stupid bitch?!”

“I had to bring Galiya in,” Cecelia explained as she rubbed her cheek. “Diena got upset and fired me.”

“Why di’nt you leave the brat with the babysitters?”

“Leona and her daughter were sick,” Cecelia said.

“Shou’dve left the brat with them anyways! Maybe she wou’dve gotten sick and died. Circle knows we’d be better off wit’out her,” Seamus snarled.

“Don’t you say that about my daughter!” Cecelia yelled. She cringed, her eyes wide as she moved away from Seamus. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. Please. I’m sorry!”

“Wha’ ‘ave I told ya about raising ya voice ta me?” Seamus said, his voice a quiet, tense snarl. In a heartbeat, he was in Cecelia's face, picking the petite woman by her throat and throwing her across the room. “Ya ne’er raise ya voice ta me!” he screamed.

Cecelia started crying, hating herself for being weak and breaking down. “I’m sorry, Seamus. I’m sorry. Please. I’ll find another job quickly and you won’t have to worry about anything.”

“Oh, ya righ’. I won’t have to worry about anyt’ing,” the man said as he stomped into the bedroom.

Cecelia’s stomach fell as she heard a floorboard being pulled up. “Oh, shit. He clocking knows about the savings,” she thought.

Seamus stalked back into the room and started pulling Cecelia’s moving out fund from the old bag she had been stuffing it in, throwing each coin at her. “Ya t’ink I did’t know about ya lit’le savings?” he yelled, each word punctuated by another coin thrown at her.

Cecelia didn’t answer. She couldn’t. She knew anything she said would make it worse.

“I’ll be takin’ this. Ya and the brat will be leavin’,” Seamus snarled.

“Where are we supposed to go?!” Cecelia asked loudly.

Seamus was on her in a second, punching her in the face and then kicking her in the ribs. “Wha’ did I tell ya about raising ya voice ta me?” he said, punctuating each word with a hard kick. Cecelia curled up in the fetal position, protecting her soft core with her arms and legs.

“I don’ care where ya two go! Go sleep on tha streets. ‘ore yaself out. I don’ give a clockin’ shit. Ge’ out o’ my ‘ouse!”

“It’s not yours!” Cecelia yelled, uncurling herself and attempting to stand up. “I’ve been paying the rent on this place since we moved in and I AM NOT LEAVING.”

Seamus’s laugh was nasty. “It’s ya place?” he snarled. Cecelia was suddenly nauseous when she saw the look on his face. He picked her up again and threw her to the floor, then started beating her like he had never beat her before. "Ya can't pay rent now, so I'll be takin' tha 'ouse now," he snarled between hits.

The last thing Cecelia remembered was hearing was Galiya’s cries and desperately praying that Seamus wouldn’t take his anger out on the child as the world turned black.



When Cecelia woke up some time later, she got up slowly, crying out in pain as she did. It felt like every inch of her arms and legs were covered in bruises. Her left eye ached and she expected that, if she looked in a mirror, she’d have a good shiner. Her stomach and ribs throbbed with each breath, and she prayed that Seamus hadn't broken anything.

Cecelia winced as she saw Seamus sitting at the table, calmly drinking a beer. “Ah, ya’re awake,” he said pleasantly.

“Galiya,” Cecelia started, her words slurred by the bruises on her face.

“The lit’le brat’s asleep. Get ya t’ings and get out,” Seamus said.

Cecelia started walking painfully to the bedroom, each step agony. Circle, did he break a leg? she wondered.

“I don’t think so,” Seamus said in that same chillingly pleasant tone. “Ya get th’ clothes on ya back and wha’s in ya bag.”

“I paid for those clothes, Seamus,” Cecelia protested weakly.

“An’ I’m gonna sell t’em to keep meself in this beau’iful lit’le house,” Seamus smiled. “Get. Out.”

Cecelia knew she couldn’t take another beating, even if it wasn’t as bad as the one she was just given. She silently gathered her cloak and carrying bag, then lifted Galiya out of her crib. She stopped at the front door and turned back to Seamus one last time. “I hope you end up a hungry ghost, you clocking piece of shit,” she said, just loud enough for him to hear.

He laughed heartily, a laugh that shook his own body. “Oh, girl. I’m pret’y sure ya and the brat will be ‘ungrier than I’ll ever be,” he replied.

Cecelia managed to get a block away before the tears came, walking in the dark as slowly as an elderly grandmother. She made her way to the park she had been in earlier and sat down on the ground by a park bench. The dam broke and she started sobbing hysterically as everything hit her, Galiya held close to her.

Once she had cried herself out, she stroked the girl’s hair and sighed. Galiya cooed and reached up to pat Cecelia’s face a couple times, murmuring “Mummy?”

“Shhh,” she said as she hugged the girl tight and kissed her forehead. “Oh, baby girl. What are we going to clocking do?” she said as she started nursing the girl, giving her a long-delayed dinner.

Cecelia needed some sleep. But there was no way she would be able to walk out of the park right now. Every inch of her body hurt. It clocking hurt to breathe. She checked each of her legs, relieved that she didn’t feel any breaks. Of course, that didn’t mean she didn’t have breaks, but if she didn’t feel them, that probably meant she didn’t have any major breaks.

She pulled her cloak out of her bag once Galiya had fallen asleep, using it to make a little padded nest for Galiya on the ground. She didn't want to have to worry about Galiya rolling off the bench while they slept. She thanked the Circle that it was Roalis – they wouldn’t have to worry about freezing to death, at least. She wrapped her aching body around the little nest best she could, stroking Galiya’s hair and whispering sweet words to the sleeping child. Eventually, Cecelia managed to fall into a restless sleep.



When Cecelia woke up at dawn, she immediately checked on Galiya. She thanked Alioe that the girl was still asleep and hadn’t crawled off while Cecelia slept. She sat up slowly, grabbing her bag to take inventory of what she had.

“I can keep using my cloak for a bed. There’s my extra scarf and 5…” Cecelia paused for a moment to feel the diaper Galiya was wearing. “Make that 4 diapers. I don’t know where I can go to wash this one off,” she thought. “My toiletries and tinderbox. Galiya’s nightgown. The spare hat that I keep in my bag. That’s it.

“I have to go to someone. This isn’t going to last us long, baby girl,” she sighed. “Fuck. Who can we go to?” she murmured, trying to think of any associates she knew or her husband had known. “Leona’s not got the space for us. Her house is packed ass to head. Fuck.”

Then Cecelia remembered that her husband had mentioned one of his Resistance contacts lived here, a woman by the name of Sednai. She was well-known among Resistance circles as a kind woman who went out of her way to help anyone that she could. Maybe she could get Cecelia and Galiya a place to stay, even if Cecelia had disassociated herself from the Resistance when her husband died.

“Fuck. It’s all I have,” she muttered to herself. Galiya murmured in her sleep and she moved the sleeping girl up to the bench and changed the girl's diaper, tossing the dirty one in a nearby trash bin. She then got up painfully as she tried to recall the woman’s address. As she picked up her daughter with one hand and stuffed the cloak in her bag with the other, it came to her and she thanked Alioe she had a good memory. “Here’s hoping that she’s still there,” she muttered to herself as she threw her bag over her free shoulder.

It took a full house for Cecelia to make it to the address her husband had given her over 2 years ago. She stopped at a bakery on the way and used her hat to buy a small bun. Galiya whined for breakfast and she sighed. “When we get there, dear heart. If I sit down now, I don’t know if I’ll get up again.” Luckily, they were close to the address Aldwin had given her and, when they got there, she knocked on the door.

Nobody answered, so she sat down heavily on the rickety porch. She started nursing Galiya, humming a lullaby as she gently rocked the hungry girl. She didn’t know when Sednai would get home, but she didn’t have anywhere to go, so she could wait. Once Galiya had her fill, the girl fell asleep and Cecelia leaned against the wall of the house, holding Galiya close. She ended up dozing off, her broken body desperately needing sleep.
Last edited by Cecelia Driscoll on Mon Jan 21, 2019 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 3401

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Sednai
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:04 am
Topics: 7
Location: The Stacks
Race: Human
: "Cypress"
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Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:14 am

72 Roalis, 2718
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It was late, always so late when Sednai finally turned down the street, feet met with the rigid bumps of broken cobblestones and shattered glass. Tonight the moon rose as the lantern lighter slowly progressed down the road. This was his final stop, the last priority on his list, this corner of the world untouched by every great advancement in human technology, every blessing of conversational gods.

This was human territory.

Candlelit windows winked at her from the squat houses, each identical and structure but different in the weary condition they lay in as families settled in for bedtime stories told by candlelight. The heat of the day had settled into a comfortable warmth, and windows and doors opened into the street to catch whatever small breeze Roalis had to offer. Laughter pealed onto the street, followed by the robust sounds of jovial voices. Sednai's eyes, however, were drawn to a single house, its lights off, its shutters closed, its interior unoccupied.

Home. No kin awaited her. No supper had already been prepared. No bed had already warmed by a man or child or even a mutt. Sednai lived and operated alone. 28 years she had lived and operated alone. If she did not report to work tomorrow morning, no one would come to fetch her. If she did not leave her house for two weeks, no one would write or knock to see if she was okay. In fact, she hadn't received even a letter in- well, it had been years. She had asked some acquaintance to read them to her, and, gods, she could remember the final one so well.

"We write to inform you of the death of your colleague." She was almost glad she couldn't read that damned letter herself. Aldwin- or Gopher, rather- had been her primary tie to the Viendan Resistance for so damn long, well, he became more than some fellow Resistance member. He was a friend, one of the few she had, and the passion with which he described his wife, she felt that she knew the woman, as well. But his death severed those ties, cutting off Sednai from the Resistance temporarily. She had recently come back into contact after staying quiet for her own safety, afraid any day that one of the letters she had written, with aid, to Aldwin would allow her to be traced. She had convinced Teuila, the galdor she worked for, to visit friends in Vienda for Yaris, at least, with an angle of her own, of course: The Resistance was brewing up a storm, and Sednai- Cypress, as they knew her- was invited. There were eight days left in Roalis, however. Eight days of the monotony of everyday life, ending tonight with the ascent of the porch.

And Sednai was not alone. Her hand was on the door, ready to push it open, as she turned slowly, eyebrows kneading a flavor of perplexity. There, on the low bench under the window, was what looked like little more than a heap of fabric. Her eyes caught movement, however, as a small, round arm stretched upwards over the edge of a woven basket. It was a child sleeping beside that heap of fabric, a woman, a mother perhaps. The woman breathed in the deep breaths of sleep, and even in the dim light of early night, Sednai could see the dark bruises and distortion of swelling disfiguring her peaceful face and dark skin.

She had absolutely no idea who this was. She kneeled before the sleeping woman and reached forward tentatively with a long-fingered hand, shaking the woman’s shoulder gently.

“Aye, chip, sorry to disturb ya- look like yuv been through ‘ell. Ya ent ‘ave to sleep out in the bugs all night,” Sednai said softly once the woman stirred.

She had absolutely no idea who this was, but, perhaps foolishly, she was willing to welcome the woman into her home. She didn’t have much to offer, but she knew, from her own experience, that a bed, a bit of food, and most importantly concern could sometimes make all the difference. Sednai smiled weakly at the woman, standing up and moving to push open the door.

“Take whateva time ya need; I’ll have food on the table in a jiff,” she smiled her gaptoothed, lingering in the doorway a moment. “Name’s Sednai, by the way. Call if ya need my help.”

And she entered her own house, a barren two room. She slung her satchel over the rickety kitchen table surrounded by four mismatched chairs, then reluctantly lit the fireplace in the heat with the box of matches that left a shiny wooden patch amidst the dust. She pulled a deep pan off the wall where it hung, then pulled open the pantry, nearly bare besides the necessities. Oil. Potatoes. Onions. Salt. Pepper. Garlic. Rosemary. With little preparation, the potatoes and onions began to sizzle over the fire. She had, as always, stopped at the butcher on her way home, and he had given her the cuts of meat that were discarded due to age or cut as if she were some begging dog. She pulled this out of bag and unwrapped the brown paper from the meat, perhaps half a pound that would fall apart with minimal cooking, and, throwing it into the pan, she sat down beside the fire and cooked.
word count: 923

BURNED, NOT BURIED.
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Cecelia Driscoll
Posts: 34
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:30 pm
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Writer: Rachel/jadeowl
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Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:54 pm

72 Roalis 2718
EVENING
Cecelia had woken up once, early in the afternoon. She watched Galiya play for a little bit and, when the little girl started crying from hunger, fed her again. She got up and walked slowly down the block a bit when her body started cramping from sitting too long, Galiya toddling beside her. The girl was just learning to walk, but Cecelia was grateful for the slow pace they had to take. Her body still ached so badly.

Cecelia found herself by to a garbage pile by run-down bakery, relief filling her when she found a couple rolls that only had a spot of mold or two on them and -- even more surprisingly -- a display basket with a few small holes in the bottom.

The basket's holes were about the size of Galiya's feet, but Cecelia quickly figured that, if she tucked some of her cloak in the basket, it would make a suitable bed for Galiya. The girls legs and arms would stick out, and the image of a turtle stuck on its back made Cecelia smile a bit. But the basket was deep enough that Galiya would be unable to get out and toddle off in the middle of the night.

Hopefully, anyways.

After picking the mold off of the bread, Cecelia picked up Galiya and started heading back, the basket tucked awkwardly under her free arm. They stopped at a water pump and Cecelia took a long drink before helping Galiya get one. She split the last roll in half, stuffing half of it in her bag before wetting down the other half, soaking it so that it would be easy for Galiya to eat. They sat on the curb and Cecelia fed the roll to Galiya, then they headed back to the address she had been given by Aldwin. She sat down, watching Galiya draw patterns in the dirt. When the girl got fussy, Cecelia breastfed her again and, when the girl fell asleep, she tucked her into the basket. Galiya did, indeed, look like a turtle on its back. It made Cecelia smile a bit. Then she closed her eyes, intending to rest for a few minutes. But that sleep turned into hours.

Cecelia startled as she was gently awakened. The woman who had awakened her was already pushing the door open as Cecelia blinked sleep out of her eyes. Galiya was burbling and she picked the girl up as the woman talked and entered the house.

"Aye, chip, sorry to disturb ya- look like yuv been through 'ell. Ya ent 'ave to sleep out in the bugs all night. Take whateva time ya need; I'll have food on the table in a jiff," the woman said as Cecelia stuffed her bag in the basket and picked up the basket. "Name's Sednai, by the way. Call if ya need my help."

Cecelia almost dropped the basket. "Sednai?" she whispered, her eyes tearing up. She put the basket just inside the door and closed it behind her. She wandered over to the table in a daze, setting Galiya down on the floor as she rested her head in her hands and wept silently.

Cecelia had found Sednai. She hadn't expected to be so lucky. Aldwin had assured her that Sednai was very attached to her city, but people can remain attached to their city while moving around. She thanked the Circle that, just this once, someone hadn't.

She also wept because she was in so much pain. Every muscle in her body hurt. But what hurt the most was that Sednai had probably been here, at this same spot, for the whole two years Cecelia had been in Brunnhold. She could've left Seamus sooner. If Sednai was the type to invite a homeless stranger into her house for a meal and a place to sleep, she would have certainly helped out the widow of an old friend.

"I am such a clocking fool," she thought to herself.

Cecelia was relieved that Sednai was so involved in her cooking. It gave her a chance to calm her tears and hide her shame. After she had cried herself out, she looked over to see Galiya crawling towards Sednai. "Lia, no. Leave Sednai alone," she said as she hurried over to scoop the girl up.

Since she was close enough to Sednai to have her attention, she decided to introduce herself. "Um... I know you don't know me, but you knew my husband. Aldwin said that, if I ever found myself in trouble in Brunnhold, I should come to find you. And, well..."

Cecelia couldn't finish her sentence, as Galiya chose that moment to reach up and gently pat one of the bruises on her face, burbling nonsense. Cecelia cried out softly in pain, her eyes tearing up again. She tried to block off the pain so she could explain the situation.

"I lost my job," she said after a few moments as she desperately tried to keep from breaking down. "He... he beat me and kicked me out." Cecelia broke, the last part coming out between hitching sobs. "I... don't have... anywhere to go," she finished, holding Galiya close and burying her head in the girl's hair as she tried to get herself together.
word count: 891
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Sednai
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:04 am
Topics: 7
Location: The Stacks
Race: Human
: "Cypress"
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Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Quix
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Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:26 am

72 Roalis, 2718
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Aldwin.

Sednai’s world went silent. Had that woman really said Aldwin? This woman was a piece of the letters, the quiet meetings in some alleyway. This woman was perhaps the last piece of Aldwin left in the world reachable to Sednai. There was something sacred about Cecelia, that feeling of haunting nostalgia that comes with walking the same ground as someone lost, seeing what they’ve seen with their own eyes. So many times Sednai had lost someone who had promised to always be there. Wikus, the boy across the fence she had met in servitude as a child, who had woven her tales of dreams and love and light that they’d make together until he had been shipped away to work in the mines; Fahlo, the urchin who Sednai had planned to run away with so long ago who took the money they together had earned and left her; Boston, the young inventor who she had lost contact with upon moving to the Stacks; and Aldwin.

You’re Cecelia,” she announced quietly, the name Aldwin had both written and spoken to her many a time so crisply present in her mind. The popping and cracking of the embers searing sounds of cooking food filled the silence.

He was so in love with you, so in love with the child you was goin’ t’have.” She turned from the fire to the pair. Her eyes trailed to Galiya, and she smiled sadly at the little girl. The child had not been born at the time of her last correspondence with Aldwin, but this one was still too young, wasn’t she? “That’s not his daughter, hm?” she asked, her tone purely curious. Her eyes turned from the little girl to the woman that held her. “She’s a pretty thing.

It was strange to Sednai that this woman had found such a buried connection after years. She had finally gotten to a point where the death of her correspondent wasn’t plaguing her mind daily, and here was another reminder. It was nearly suspicious- was this woman here to spy on her? To turn her in to the Seventen for some reward?

The bruises and tears cleared any suspicion from Sednai’s mind as Cecelia explained. She was abused at home, and, gods, did Sednai hope she was the only one abused in the home. Galiya looked unharmed physically, at least, and perhaps not old enough to be affected mentally. But Cecelia- the bruises were large and ugly, her movements slow and encumbered.

Sednai stood and walked past Cecelia without a word. She grabbed a chair and drug it beside the woman, whispering “Siddown, siddown,” all the while. If anything fired Sednai up, it was the familial and household abuse that was shoo’d away into the corners and shadows of every neighborhood wealthy and poor, human and galdor. For so many, it was incredibly easy to ignore what happened under their noses, but to Sednai, it was impossible.

Yer wrong. Ya got somewhere to be an’ it’s here. Whether I know’d yer hubby or not, ya’d have here. You an’ ya dotta are welcome here as long as ya need- even if that’s foreva. I- I know what it’s like, what it’s like t’be removed in an instant from all ya have. And I’ll do what I can to give you what others gave me,” her voice was edging on sternness as she spoke. She turned back to the fire to kneel beside the nearly ready meal of potatoes, onions, carrots, and liver. “That’s a roof that don’t leak, a meal that’s warm, a bed that’s clean. It ain’t much, but it’s enough to survive. I survive off of it, every human here survives off of it, I’m sure you can, too.

She pulled the pan off of the fire and brought it to the table, which she nudged towards Cecelia’s moved chair so the woman wouldn’t have to move. The metal pan continued to sizzle as she plated the food- two larger plates of meat, round potatoes, browned onions, and soft carrots, and one plate of just a few of the soft coins of carrots if Galiya would take them. She brought the pan back to the fire to be taken to and cleaned at the well later. She came back to sit at the table, passing a fork to Cecelia.

Eat.
word count: 773

BURNED, NOT BURIED.
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Cecelia Driscoll
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Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:02 pm

72 Roalis 2718
EVENING
Cecelia closed her eyes and gave a soft, sad smile at Sednai's words. "Yeah, I'm that Cecelia. I loved him just as much. He mentioned you, too, you know," she paused, looking at the fire for a moment. "That's why I remembered you. You were the only person he mentioned by name. He thought you had a lot of potential, said you were whip-smart, even if you doubted yourself sometimes."

She shook her head once at Sednai's question about Galiya. "Jasper was stillborn," she whispered, nuzzling Galiya as tears welled up again. "I was going to try to stay in Vienda. I wanted Jasper to see some of the places that his daddy liked, to know his daddy in some way. But, then..." she paused, choking back a sob. "After Jasper, I couldn't stay. It was hard enough losing Aldwin. It hurt to walk by his favorite sweets shop or to stop at our tailor. Then I lost Jasper, the last bit of my Aldwin," she paused, silent tears streaking down her face. "I couldn't stay. I think I would have killed myself if I had," she confessed. It was the first time she had said the words aloud, but she knew in her heart that Sednai wouldn't use them against her.

She let out a shaky sigh, trying to gather herself. "One of your... friends arranged a job for me here and I've been here since. After what happened to Aldwin, I didn't want to talk to anyone from the Resistance for a while. It's just that... a while turned into years. Galiya's father made sure of that. If I wasn't at work, I was waiting on him hand and foot. He'd go to the bar when I was at work, but he always made sure to be home by the time I got home."

She started crying ugly, hitching sobs again at Sednai's offer of a place to live. "Thank you. Thank you so much," she managed to get out between sobs. "I won't forget your kindness and I'll find a way to pay you back. I promise."

She blew on the carrot coins to cool them, then fed them carefully to Galiya with the fork. Galiya giggled happily between coins and Cecelia gave the girl a shaky smile. "I swear, you'd think she was Aldwin's by how much she loves her veg. I used to tease him that he should've been a farmer. He'd come home from the market, all excited because the market had the first cabbage of the year," she laughed through her tears. "Who gets excited over cabbage? I had to start writing him a list of what to get because he kept coming home with nothing but veg, even when we could afford a bit of meat or cheese."

It hurt to talk about Aldwin, but it also felt good, in a strange way. She had stewed silently in her grief for 2 long years and the wound had festered. Being able to share her grief with someone, to talk to someone who knew her husband and clearly cared about him, felt like she was cleaning the wound that had been slowly killing her without her noticing.
word count: 589
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Sednai
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: "Cypress"
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Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:58 am

72 Roalis, 2718
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Sednai crushed the potatoes on the metal plate with her fork as the steam rose off of them. It was nice to listen to someone talk about the man she had known, as if he was still alive somewhere in the air between them. A sad, nostalgic joy alighted Cecelia's face as she reminisced on the happier, simpler memories of her husband. Sednai's eyes, however, trailed to the babe as Cecelia paused to eat. The silence of hunger took them, but Sednai broke it.

"Y'know, I'd always thought, when I was young, that'd 'ave a child an' a hubby an' more than a shack by the time I was twenny-eight," she said pensively. "An' 'ere I am." She chuckled, shaking her head.

"It's funny 'ow little our plans mean, funnier still 'ow we can be aware of how little they mean an' still wait on 'em. Can you b'lieve I been waitin' twenny years to maybe find the boy I promised my hand to? An' I dunno if I'll ever get that, or me kids. I can't imagine raisin' a kid through this clocking resistance," she rambled, thinking back to that very boy- Wikus- and the promises they had made over the fence one Achtus night in the snow. It was stupid, she'd admit, but she was stupidly hopeful, and maybe that was the best kind of hopefulness. "Like, I dunno, can you imagine tryin' to raise a daughter while knowin' that yer puttin' yerself before Death e'ry morn?" She caught Cecelia's eyes, a small exhalation of amusement and muddled frustration escaping her gapped teeth.

"I barely can imagine what comes after the Resistance, so convinced is my mind that we ain't gonna make it out. One of these days, one of 'em is the last one. I 'on't wanna be completely responsible for some little person 'til I've made this world and my life safe for 'em and me," she sighed. "Too many of my friends, like Aldwin, 'ave been killed for me to b'lieve I won't be next."

She looked down at her food finally. This meager bit of vegetables and few-day-old meat was the best food she had afforded in her life. This roof was the longest lasting roof over her head through the course of her life, a life she spent sleeping under carts and awnings more than roofs and blankets. She began to eat slow bites interrupted by cascading thoughts.
word count: 444

BURNED, NOT BURIED.
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Cecelia Driscoll
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Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:33 am

72 Roalis 2718
Evening
Cecelia listened to Sednai, her heart dropping with every word. Clearly, Sednai thought that Cecelia was part of the Resistance. But the woman was mistaken. She had left that life behind 2 years ago and she never intended to go back. Aldwin's death made her realize the fight was probably futile.

When Sednai was done, Cecelia took a few moments to gather her thoughts. "No, I can't imagine raising a child in the Resistance," she said eventually, her voice quiet. "Everything you say is true. That's why I left the Resistance when my Aldwin died. I had Jasper coming, and I... I couldn't risk losing him. Then I lost him before he even got to take his first breath," she said, her eyes tearing up. "I wanted nothing more than to move on, to pretend that I could survive without my heart. So I came here."

She took a shaky breath to calm herself. "Then Seamus... God, I never wanted to have a child with that monster. But what could I do? He took every fort of every paycheck. I couldn't afford to go to an apothecary. I knew eventually I'd end up pregnant."

She kissed Galiya on the forehead. "I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say Galiya saved my clocking life. Once she was here, I finally had a reason to live. I decided I had to leave Seamus. So I kept back a part of my wages every time I got paid over the last year. I almost had enough to leave," she said wit a bitter laugh. "And he knew. He knew the whole bloody time."

She stroked Galiya's hair. "This little girl is my everything now. I will do anything to keep her safe." She looked up, meeting Sednai's eyes. "And that's why I can't go back to the Resistance. I'm sorry. I agree that the gollies need to be taken out of power, but I can't risk leaving Galiya without a family. She's all I have and I'm all she has. I came to you because Aldwin said you were a good person and I could trust you to help me if I needed help. If not being a part of the Resistance is going to be a problem, I can leave in the morning. We can forget I was ever here and your secret will be safe."
word count: 443
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Sednai
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: "Cypress"
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Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:46 pm

72 Roalis, 2718
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Sednai was silent for a moment. Was she disappointed? Perhaps. To meet this woman whom she had so long assumed to be a friend in the Resistance despite the years, and find her to have abandoned the effort, it was not what she had expected. What would Aldwin say of his wife cutting ties with the Resistance? Nothing. He’d understand, wouldn’t he? Because she was protecting her daughter, just as she would’ve protected their son, just as Sednai would protect her own children and family if she had one.

If.

If was always important, the two letters of thought, the two letters of what could be, if another choice had been made, if the results had come out differently, if one had walked across the road a little faster, had looked both ways, had remembered to lock the door. If Cecelia needed a home and a friend, Sednai was willing to give it, willing to offer what protection she could, willing to share her home, food, income, and table, no matter how meager they were. Resistance morals and successes did not exist only within its members; the Resistance would provide justice to all who would accept it, as Sednai would provide benevolence to all she could, and all who needed it.

I ain’ worried ‘bout whether or not you’s in the Resistance or not,” she smiled, revealing the gap between her front teeth as she twirled her fork lazily around her plate. “What we's does ain' just for the benefit of ourselves. We make justice for all those people who need it and are willin' to accept it, an' that includes you and your wee one."

I'm sure you'd bring some good skills to us an' all if ya'd decide to ever join us, but, me, I ain' gonna push you to do anything. You just worry 'bout your daughter, 'bout getting another job, 'bout stayin' away from that Seamus fellow." Seamus. She already disliked this Seamus for the bruises on Cecelia's face and the worry in her heart, for taking away her hard-earned funds, her home, and her possessions... Possessions? Surely Cecelia had (or had had) something more than the little she carried with her. Sednai's brow furrowed, and she tilted her head like some curious dog.

Did he make you leave everything you owned and earned, money an' all?" she asked. Material things, of course, weren't hard to replace. Just costly, and the two of them surely didn't have the funds to replenish the wardrobe and possessions of mother and child. But, of course, it was unlikely that some bloke like this Seamus had simply thrown out the possessions, wasn't it? He'd surely be trying to sell them, which meant they were still retrievable, and easily retrievable when you were skilled with two daggers.

Say, you reckon he still has your stuff?" she continued, gears turning visibly in her head. “'Cause, if he does, I was a mighty fine little robber back in the day, though I'm not too proud of it. May not be able to retrieve your money, but clothes? That wouldn't be too much of a problem for me." She suggested, not at all against the idea of breaking laws for a complete stranger.
word count: 575

BURNED, NOT BURIED.
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Cecelia Driscoll
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:55 pm

72 Roalis 2718: Evening
Sednai's House
Cecelia visibly relaxed when Sednai made it clear that she was accepting of Cecelia's stance on the Resistance. "I would love to help out, but..." she paused, not sure how to frame her opinion of the recent actions of the Resistance. "I've heard rumors that the Resistance started the Vienda riot. Violence has too high a cost now," Cecelia said simply. "I understand its necessity," she quickly added. "I truly do. It's not like the gollies are going to go 'Yes, humans, you can have your freedom' without a fight," she said with a sad, bitter laugh. "I just have to stay safe and keep my nose clean, for Lia."

She truly did believe in the cause of the Resistance. But the idea of dying and leaving Galiya alone was too much for her. It's not like Seamus had been any sort of father to Galiya. The man was disgusting enough that she could see him selling Galiya to the highest bidder, which made her nauseous. "Hell, I was planning on leaving Seamus, even. I had almost a concord saved up, but the clocking bastard knew about that and kept that when he kicked me out. I don't know why I thought I could keep it from him. I hid it under one of the floorboards in the bedroom. I should've been smarter than that," she muttered, self-disgust and remorse in her voice.

She put her fork down and gave Sednai a grateful smile. "I do believe in the cause that Aldwin died for. And I promise, if something comes up that won't put my life at risk, I will happily rejoin the Resistance," she said, her voice sincere and as passionate as she could manage in her exhausted state.

Cecelia closed her eyes for a second at Sednai's question about whether Seamus had her things. She knew it had been coming, but she still thought of herself as weak for not getting away from Seamus sooner. The fact that he still had her clothes and money just felt like salt in a wound and further proof of her weakness. She swallowed and opened her eyes. When she spoke, her voice was tinged with embarrassment. "I have what's on my back and what's in my bag. That's all he let me take. Knowing him, he hasn't gotten around to selling anything. He has my money. That'll keep him in the bottles for quite a while. He's not smart enough to save it for next month's rent, especially since he'll probably just find another woman to take care of him."

Cecelia had always ignored people when they said she was just one in a long line of women Seamus used and abused. She didn't want to believe it, even as he abused her. She knew that leaving would have become even more complicated the second she started believing that he was a serial abuser. If she accepted that he would just find another woman to abuse, she would've always carried that guilt in her heart when she left him. But now that Seamus had kicked her out, she could accept that someone else would end up under his fists soon enough.

Her eyes widened at Sednai's offer. "Oh, I don't know if I can let you do that," she said, unable to keep some of the shock out of her voice. "He's a bear of a man. I would feel horrible if he hurt you and, if he caught you, he would. I can just go to some of the tailors and ask for their scraps. I'll make it work."
word count: 659
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Sednai
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: "Cypress"
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Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:30 pm

72 Roalis, 2718
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Sednai grinned with such a mischief that it was nearly palpable in the air.

Hurt her. She could almost laugh at the phrase because being hurt did not scare her anymore, even if it was being beaten to a pulp by a big, abusive man. She was an assassin for the Resistance. She was hired to kill. Being beaten up did not faze her. She understood the concern, however, understood that one like Cecelia may just want to leave him behind completely, washing her hands and body of him. Sednai, however, was not the kind of person to just leave someone who had wronged her in the past. She had been raised to beat people up when they messed with her, to give a bruise for a bruise and a scratch for a scratch until the opponent gave in, to hold grudges and a record of every wrong. She raised a brow at Cecelia.

I ain' scared of 'im, swear-t'-gods," Sednai said, enunciating each word as clearly and seriously as she could. “If you wan' me to beat 'im up, I'll do it. Ya want me to slip in, grab yer clothes, and slip out while 'e's 'eadfirst in a drink, I'll do it." She sighed, setting her dinner utensils down to look Cecelia over carefully. Her voice dropped to a more gentle tone.

What I'm sayin' is this- I know what it's like t'be beaten an' t' 'ave everything ya've worked so hard for taken away from ya, like someone just pulled the rug out from under ya. It 'on't feel good," and Sednai thought back to her childhood. She was branded and beaten by the galdori she served, and she had had everything- dreams and hard-earned money, taken away from her by Fahlo.

I got this shiny from the gollies," she mentioned, pulling back her hair to show the raised and ugly brand on her neck. “Fer trynna 'elp my mistress learn to read when we was wee. I was scared, but I din't wanna let them get away with it, din't wanna keep lettin' it happen to other kids. That's why I joined the Resistance." she explained with a shrug, her voice getting smaller the more she talked.

Now, you, yer not joining the Resistance, at least not now, an', don't worry, I get that. It wouldn't 'elp ya get back at Seamus anyways. What I'm trynna get at, though, is that this can be yer Resistance. We can make it so we a one or a hundred gals out of Seamus' hands by teachin' him a lesson, or, I dunno, just by keepin' those other gals out of his hands," she explained, not sure if she was making any sense at this point.

Course, it ain' gotta be that complicated. Take 'is money, take 'is drink, ya know? But I understand if ya just wanna clean your hands of him right now an' not deal with him. The offer is purely on the table, though. I ain' scared of 'im."
word count: 540

BURNED, NOT BURIED.
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