Saw My Shadow Looking Lost

Closed (Shae & Kit).

Old Rose Harbor is Anaxas' main trade port; it is also the nation's criminal headquarters, home to the Bad Brothers and Silas Hawke, King of the Underworld.
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:54 pm


the black dove · old rose
☙ 2718 · 22nd ophus · early evening ❧

The tips of his boots just barely touched the floor. The bar was a little high, but it was bearable, and in any case, he didn’t want to have to sit on his folded-up coat; then he reckoned his legs would dangle even more. And it was cold, cold as a gaol – he was pulling that coat tighter around him all the time, hunched into it, shuddering in a draft that must’ve been coming in from a dozen different places, curbed only a little by the crackling hearth and the whisky in his belly.

At this time of day, the Dove was fair crowded; that early Ophus dark was just starting to stretch over the sky outside, and a little red-pink light still drifted in from the slats in the shutters. Tom watched motes of dust drift on them, catch on the lights from the lanterns and the candles. A handful of scarred-up, travel-worn sailors dominated one side of the room, chortling and playing cards, knocking back their drinks like they hadn’t seen anything better than Low Tide in months. There was a low buzz of conversation, mostly in rough Estuan and Tek, although he could hear a couple of blond-haired kovs in the corner talking loudly in what sounded like Heshath.

With a glance of thinly-veiled irritation – and suspicion? – Spitz slid over another whisky on the rocks, and Cooke took a long drink, propping his head up on his hands and rubbing his temples. He took a drag on his cigar, coughing a little and sighing. He could just about feel the tense muscles in his back starting to relax. Across the Dove, some chip had started singing in a wavering, slurring voice, just barely audible above the buzz: it was in Mugrobi, Tom reckoned, because he didn’t understand a word of it, but something about it worked its way into his bones.

This was sure fucking something, he must’ve thought a dozen times that evening. First half of a second he’d got to himself in Old Rose, he’d slipped off alone to the Dove, determined to sit his erse down in his regular chair and nurse his regular drink and feel – if only for a moment, despite everything – regular. That had been the plan, anyway, all the way down the Arova, all the way since he’d started planning this clocking trip. If Hawke decided to put him at the bottom of the harbor before next week, then so be it, but he’d get to go to the Dove one last time and sit in his gods-damned chair and drink his gods-damned whisky.

That was the plan, at least. He wasn’t sure if this was making him feel better after all. In the first place, the Harbor didn’t look quite the same from a foot lower, and he reckoned he didn’t look quite the same, either, for all the mistrustful glances he was getting. (And the hungry ones, but hell – he was dressed down, but he was still dressed like a golly, and he couldn’t blame anyone who took him for an easy lift. He knew Old Rose, and he knew to be careful.) Being Anatole and walking into the Dove was different than being Tom and walking into the Dove, and he knew it. But he’d wanted to think it wouldn’t be, wanted to think he’d plop down at the bar and have Spitz talking to him just like he had seven months ago; he wanted to think the Dove would make him feel like himself again, if anything would.

And it wasn’t even the funny looks that bothered him the most, or the people he’d known since he was a boch treating him like a stranger – and the fact that he had to treat them like he didn’t know them, either, since he didn’t want to spook anybody. At the end of the day, the thing that really pushed all this fucking vodundun over the edge was the fact that when he sat at the bar, his feet didn’t touch the floor.

He was in his seat, his old seat in his old favorite haunt, and it felt different. It felt physically different, and it was breaking his heart.

Cooke wasn’t quite drunk yet, but the world was beginning to feel a little slow and a little warm, and he was starting to flush a little bit. He was twisted around a little in his chair, absently watching the sailors’ card game, but he wasn’t paying attention, and that’s why he missed it: the hand motion, the twitch of the lip. So when things exploded, he was actually surprised.

“You fuckin’ bitch, Adley, you fuckin’ weasel!”

Havakda!

One of the sailors – a big blond kov, Hessean by his accent, sunken eyes bright blue and red-rimmed and livid with rage, nose swollen and crimson – thrust himself to his feet, knocking his chair over with a clatter that turned heads. “You little shit! Admit it!”

“I ain’t done nothin’,” said a smaller man, a black-haired Anaxi, baring his teeth in a smile. He raised his hands. “I swear on me daoa, ye chen? I’d not –”

A third man, heavy-browed and sad-looking and thoroughly drunk, scratched his beard and muttered, “We’ve about had enough of your shit, Ads.”

“C’mon, Bartles!” Adley protested, giving the bearded man a hurt look. He stood up, looking again at the Hessean, dead serious. “Alioe, Lester, don’t be like this. So maybe I –”

Bartles muttered something else. It sounded to Tom like, “This ain’t about Rooks.”

“No,” snarled Lester, “no, no, no –” He thrust the table out of the way with a crack and a moan of protesting wood. Adley threw up his hands, but Lester was on him before he could defend himself. In the mangled slur of words – Adley’s bizarre screech, Bartles’ “oh, shit!” – Tom thought he heard the big Hessean say something about you fucked her, but he couldn’t be sure. In this mess, you couldn’t be sure of anything.

When it was Adley that knocked the Hessean on his erse, Tom snorted into his tumbler, glass jangling as he shook with a spasm of silent laughter. But Lester was up in an instant, and he’d put Adley into a sloppy headlock. All this put him in mind of something he’d seen a long time ago, a very faint memory of another barfight in another time – one in the Dove, one he’d maybe joined in on. The conversation around the Dove was livelier now, and Tom heard someone yell, “Put the stop-clocker in ’is place!” The Hesseans over in the corner were doubled-over with laughter.

Cooke turned back to the bar, finishing off his whisky and calling for another. He was feeling fuzzier by the minute; he thought he was just about starting to loosen up. Without really paying attention to who it was, he leaned over to the kov next to him. “Great Lady, eh?” he laughed, taking another drag on his cigar and blowing out smoke into the drafty air. “What do you bet it’s the Hessean comes out on top?”
word count: 1277
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Shae
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:30 pm
Topics: 8
Race: Raen
: Too pretty for you
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:06 am

Ophus 22, 2718 | Early Evening
The Black Dove
.
Image
It was strange to have gone busking. It had been something of a way of life for the former wick but for the raen it was definitely different. For one thing, they weren't actually playing a guitar themself, not that they'd ever been fantastic with it in the first place, their voice definitely their main asset but it meant that when they did sing, they felt oddly naked. For another thing, the main thing really, the voice they now possessed was entirely different. The range was quite new, the heights it could reach beyond what Shae could have managed before but not as high as they might have expected for a woman. It made sense, the body was quite husky-voiced so it could also go a bit deeper but nowhere near what Shae could have managed before. They did kind of miss the depth of their voice, they'd found that when they tried to drop and ended up barely able to rasp out a sound.

Singing was... like talking in some ways, they could manage that but there was also something very different in the way of breathing, dragging notes from the depths of one's being rather than their vocal cords alone. It was strangely difficult to remember how to do it though, the action hardly second nature as it had been in their old body but when they concentrated and had a few false starts and stops, the youth found that singing hadn't been foreign to Cordelia. It made sense, highborn ladies went in for pretty talents so it made sense that it was something she'd picked up and worked on. Even so, it didn't come easily to the raen. They weren't sure if it was a result of their hostile takeover - a definite possibility - or Cordelia's pregnancy. They had known women affected in the oddest way during and after a pregnancy so it wasn't wholly implausible.

Kit was certainly kind about it and encouraging, a fact that Shae honestly couldn't be more grateful to him for, especially given just how much of a burden they were being for him honestly. Although they definitely had their perks as a house guest as Kit would no doubt attest. Still, he was good for their confidence, which definitely helped. They weren't particularly good yet but it was amazing what people were willing to forgive when you were pretty. Admittedly, they weren't awful but it definitely helped that they were small and delicate and pretty-looking. Oh and they could sing wick stuff.

The raen had never really taken to Tek but it didn't mean that they didn't know some songs that was laden with the pidgin. They understood the songs as well. Oh, maybe not word for word but they knew the gist. Those sorts of songs had come from their father when he was around but oddly enough, their favourites, the heartbreaking, sort of miserable ones in lovely Estuan had actually come from their mother. One in particular to do with the loss of what you had known before - a very tsat sentiment - actually had always been a favourite of theirs but when Shae began to sing it while Kit simply looked on, they realised it had new meaning for them.

They had lost everything. Everything they'd ever known, everything they'd ever cared for, all of it gone. It was less their singing voice and more the emotion that drew a crowd with that one, the loss so genuine, the words sung so plaintively that it was a miracle that Shae sang it without choking up entirely.

It had gone over very well but that had been the end of their busking for the day, the raen so clearly upset and utterly incapable of singing anymore that drinks had been proposed. Drinks that were sorely needed.

It wasn't the first time that Shae had been to since coming to Old Rose but that didn't mean that they'd gotten used to the initial reaction when they moved through such crowded places. The looks were one thing, the appraising, the lusting, the predatory glances, some skittering away when they saw Kit, some seeming to give them greater attention when they saw their male companion. Some of them were more interested in Kit, sure. It didn't bother them exactly although it was a bit weird to have a lot of men do it; men had regarded them far less openly in their last body because such relations were more taboo. It wasn't the looks though, it was the flinch, the unsettled and nervous looks when they brushed off someone or encountered another's field. Some shivered and moved away, unconsciously registering their strangeness whereas others stared at them, properly stared with mixtures of confusion and horror and disgust, sometimes pity.

Once they got settled down, it was usually better but moving through a crowd in the beginning was always uncomfortable. Maybe it was why they were happier to stay with Kit heading to the bar rather than breaking off to find a table on their own. Being alone didn't feel safe so perhaps that was why they'd settled into this pattern. Head to the bar together and stay there.

There was initial nervousness as they sat themself down beside some middle-aged geezer, momentarily worried how he'd react to their odd field although he seemed a bit drunk, maybe drunk enough not to care.

Except that they were the one who reacted as they slid in beside him, unconsciously leaning away as they encountered the disgruntled, grumpy buzz of the mona around him. It left them distracted, trying to ignore the man while simultaneously trying to watch him, assess him. Clock the Circle, his field was uncomfortable. They supposed that they couldn't judge but it unsettled them, some part of their mind trying to point out the similarity but their main brain wasn't listening.

Kit would no doubt notice how... unfocused they were, a bit dreamy and yet they were alert on some level, tense, just... not really paying attention to him. He knew what they drank though, the piss poor beer placed in front of them something that they would quite happily nurse; this body didn't particularly like it so slow and steady was fine.

Their attention was understandably drawn away when the fight started behind them, the raen glancing around to see what all the fuss was about. They were playing cards but the words that they were catching suggested that the real fuss was a woman. A different sort of cheating perhaps, friends cheating friends of... well, before they might have wondered why they didn't just share or get over it, it wasn't like there weren't other women out there. But she could be special, she might only have one of them and if the other lost her... Shae could actually understand why that might hurt now. They'd realised that Kit was... special to them. It was... unfortunate because Kit wasn't- he didn't-

Their mind was slipping into what was fast becoming a familiar rut - dwelling on the fact that they had feelings for Kit but that he didn't do relationships - when the man turned to them to comment on the barfight. They blinked, pulled back into the present, eyeing the man uncertainly although he probably didn't notice; he wasn't really looking at them.

"The Hessean has lost the woman so... yeah, he's pissed, he certainly wants to hurt him but... being pissed off means that he has a higher chance of fucking up. He's got one aim, sure, but he's also distracted. He's thinking about her. The other guy's only got to worry about saving his own hide," the raen remarked, eyes moving to the blond, sympathy in their grey-blue gaze.

"Wanting to save your own hide is a great motivator. He probably has a better chance... in the long run. The Hessean might dismantle him out of sheer rage though but I think he wants him to suffer. I think if he wanted to properly wreck him, he'd have done it already."


word count: 1418
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Kit
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:03 pm
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Race: Galdor
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:28 am

22nd Ophus | Early Evening
The Black Dove
Image
It had been a lovely day, genuinely.

Busking was one of the things Kit loved to do. It was all very well having an actual paid job of an evening in one of the many taverns that littered the bustling harbour, but busking was… well, it was practice that he got paid for. No pressure, just the music.

And with his little stray cat in tow, they had definitely made more than he was expecting given the weather. It was also simply pleasant to have someone to share this small pleasure with, and he had to admit, their voices did sound good together. Unusual, but good.

He wasn't sure if Shae's efforts to improve were due to her desire to have something in common with him and help pay her way somewhat- he knew she loved music, her obvious enjoyment whenever he played or sang was proof of that- or if she were trying to regain something she'd once had that had been marred by the accident she still hadn't told him about. Well, he assumed it was an accident, her memory problems and odd field meant that something must have happened.

The amusing thing was that she seemed to have trouble pitching- every so often she would start a solo song just a little lower than her range would carry her on the lowest notes.

That last song today though… Kit had heard it before, but it had never sounded quite like it did on Shae's husky tongue. Her technique may not have been perfect, but the raw emotion in her voice was… utterly compelling. He'd leaned against the wall behind her, lost in a wave of nostalgia for his own past that he'd so desperately thrust away, and then as the last note faded she turned back and there were tears in her eyes.

He'd just hugged her at that point. Evening was starting to close in, and their custom would have dried out soon in any case, so he'd made a unilateral decision. Chin on top of her soft black head, he'd simply uttered the word “Pub?” and felt her nod against his chest in response.

She was such a sweet, odd little thing. He looked over at her now as he re-tuned his guitar, leaning back against the bar. Honestly if they hadn't met that day at the pawnbrokers, he didn't know if she would still be here. Old Rose chewed people up and spat them out, and it was rarely in one piece.

He definitely wanted to keep Shae in one piece. Friends like her were hard to come by.

But now she seemed to be giving an erudite commentary on the brawl that had just broken out across the tavern.

...full of surprises, this girl…

Distracted, he overtightened a string and it broke with a loud TWANG, snapping back and catching him across the cheek as he bent over the instrument. He swore loudly, dabbing at the scratch with his shirt cuff before giving up and sliding the guitar on its strap to rest against his back again, swivelling on his stool to finally take possession of the drink that had been placed there some ten minutes before.

“People fight over lots of things. It's not always immediately obvious what their reasonings are and sometimes it's just because they wanted a scrap. Hell, I've been in that position myself,” he finished with a chuckle, turning to clink his glass against Shae's with a wink and nodding at the golly on her other flank.


word count: 629
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:08 pm



the black dove, old rose
evening on the 22nd of Ophus, 2718
Cooke started at the voice that piped up beside him; it wasn’t exactly what he’d been expecting. Tipsy as he was, he’d not been paying attention, and – confoundingly curiously – he’d just assumed he’d been sitting next to a man. He’d seen somebody sit down out of the corner of his eye, and he’d taken it for granted, without knowing why, that the somebody sitting on the barrel next to him was a kov. So when he actually did turn to look directly at the chip, look her in the eye, it was with one red eyebrow raised.

He squinted, thinking through the pleasant haze in his head. She was small, this wick, a little smaller than Anatole, but not by much. He realized, a little disgruntled, that neither of their feet were touching the floorboards. She was a pretty little thing, and her black hair and the cast of her features might’ve led him to believe she was Bastian, if he hadn’t heard her talk with that Vienda accent; she might’ve even been a golly, but he dismissed that thought fair quick. The hacked-short hair and the trousers reinforced the point.

Now he felt it, too, and he damn well didn’t like it, whatever it was. That was a hell of a glamour. Tom had never met a wick with one like it. Still, he reckoned he didn’t have any right to judge. Maybe she’d backlashed, like he was pretending to have. Now he thought about it, she looked a little distant, a little out of sorts. Maybe a little sad.

Well, she was in good company.

When she got done talking, Tom let out a little bark of a laugh, taking another drink. He nodded, tossing a glance back at the combatants: the little black-haired kov was still in a headlock, and the Hessean was giving him the beating of a lifetime. But he nodded nevertheless, contemplative. He glanced back at the wick with a crooked smile.

“Aye. I think you’re right, lass,” he replied after a moment. “He’s been holding him down, mostly – making him suffer. Just look at him now, making him gasp for air even though he could crush his throat in a heartbeat.”

Twang!

Cooke’s attention shifted to the man on the other side of the wick – the man who’d been quietly tuning his guitar – and for just a half of a second, his heart froze in his chest. He worried Anatole was going to drop on the spot. He flushed, tried to hide it with another drink of whisky, and then coughed, throat suddenly paper-dry. He’d noticed the man’s full-fledged field, his aristocratic face, but that wasn’t the first thing he noticed. He knew those pretty blue eyes. Gods on high, if it isn’t Kit. Swallowing thickly, he put his whisky down, ice jangling with his shaky hand, on the bar. Fucking hell. Tocks.

It took him a few moments to process what the golly was saying, to process the clink of their glasses. They’re together. Kit and the wick. The last time he’d seen that fine-featured face, he’d – well, he’d not been so focused on the face. He gritted his teeth hard, taking a deep breath and another drink. But nothing could prepare you for this – for looking somebody you’d known in the eye and knowing they’d never look at you and see you. Nothing soured the heart and stilled the blood like that. Like being somebody else in familiar company, being a stranger in the heart of your old life.

You picked yourself up, Tom guessed. He took another moment to marshal himself, watching the sailors. Lo and behold, the Anaxi kov had managed to twist around in a move Tom hadn’t even been able to follow; the Hessean was clutching at a bloody nose, stumbling back against the table with a clatter, and the little black-haired man was already dusting. In an oddly courteous motion, he dashed a handful of coins on the table; then he left, snarling spittle through his teeth, pawing at the bruises that were starting to form on his neck. He nearly tripped over his coat.

The door slammed open and then slammed shut. The Hessean wasn’t following him. He was rubbing at his face, covering his swollen nose, baring bloody teeth. He flopped back down in his seat like a disgruntled boch.

Tom turned to Kit with a smile, albeit one that was forced, distant. On his toffin’s face, it was almost a politician’s smile. “If that ain’t the truth. Sometimes you want to fight the whole damn world.” He glanced from the golly to the wick.

“You’re an odd pair,” he said, trying to dispel the awkwardness, as if he wasn’t used to seeing the offbeat galdor in places like this. “If I may say so. Though I’ve got no right to talk; I think it must be years since there was more than one golly in the Dove.” He looked at the wick, and his smile got a little more genuine. “Seems like you know a lot about ‘dismantling somebody out of sheer rage’. Damn. Not complaining, just surprised.”
word count: 936
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Shae
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:30 pm
Topics: 8
Race: Raen
: Too pretty for you
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Writer: Maximus
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Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:15 pm

Ophus 22, 2718 | Early Evening
The Black Dove
.
Image
They'd said too much in their unusually melancholy state, the raen not really in the humour to spin things back to the positive and optimistic. They weren't wallowing exactly but distracted. If they hadn't been then perhaps they wouldn't have said what they did, especially in front of Kit because he might think... well, he might think that they were talking from experience and that certainly wasn't inaccurate. Warmth began to creep into their cheeks, not helped by the evident start in the strange galdor - judging by his dress and size - beside them; he'd obviously assumed that he was talking to a man.

He kind of was but understandably difficult to believe given the pitch of their voice and their look. It wasn't as if they were overtly feminine but they also weren't exactly trying to hide their physical state either. They were getting used to it if they were honest, warming to it and perhaps it was getting easier to forget what they had been only a few months before. Funny how quickly seventeen years could vanish when you died and came back looking entirely different.

Still, the man didn't act like some high and mighty galdor, thank Alioe, and he didn't seem to think what they said was ridiculous either. He laughed, perhaps more from pleased surprise than anything else and it made it easier for the former wick to dredge up an answering smile that was equally crooked as Tom's. The use of 'lass' added colour to their cheeks but they nodded along in agreement with him, eyes moving back to the little wrestling match going on nearby.

They opened their mouth, ready to say more on the matter when they heard the snapping twang of the string, catching the lightning fast movement in their peripheral. If they'd had any doubt about what had happened, the swearing was a good indication of error and pain. Of course, the raen didn't need the swearing to get their attention, gaze almost instantly on Kit, shifting their body so they could try to get a look at his face.

They were worried about him and trying not to show it, resisting the urge to bite their lip although it got caught between their teeth for a few moments all the same.

He was their friend so obviously that was why they were worried. Of course. Because he was their friend and he'd hurt himself and it might be bad.

"You fucking idiot! Lemme have a look at you," they exclaimed, resisting the urge to hop off their stool so that they could get a proper look at him without him trying to shield his injury behind his sleeve. They tutted. "Would you look at the state of- How could you do something so awful to a guitar? What a shame! Oh well, I guess I should be sorry about your face as well, I suppose," Shae teased, giving him a playful nudge in the ribs.

The lip catch happened again though in spite of their best efforts, that anxious little tilt to their head giving far too much away; they'd regret it later. "Are you all right though? It didn't get too near your eye did it? A snapped string can be fucking lethal, I just... I know it hurts like blazes," Shae added lamely, picking up their drink so that they wouldn't be able to reach out to touch his face. They clinked glasses with him, fingers moving to tuck stray strands of hair back behind their ear before turning back to the galdor stranger.

Was he... was he blushing?

Grey-blue eyes widened, alight with curiosity as the ebony-haired head tilted. He actually looked a little distressed, embarrassed even although the raen didn't have a clue why. Was it the exchange between the sailors? Like Shae, did he see something familiar in the situation? Something that he could reflect on? Whatever was up, it vanished behind a smile, the galdor turning his attention to both of them, apparent interest as his gaze bounced between the two.

It was Shae's turn to blush - again - when they realised what sort of connection the man seemed to be making between the galdor and the raen.

"Oh no, we aren't- it's not like- we're only- I'm his roommate," the female-bodied raen blurted, pink stretching its way into their hairline as they did everything they could not to look in Kit's direction.

Extreme mortification.

Was this as bad as when they'd met Kit and told him they wanted to sleep with him but not at that precise moment? Strangely enough, it seemed to be on a par. They were glad that they already held their drink because it meant that they didn't have to grope for it blindly, which would more than likely have ended up with them being soaked in piss-poor beer. As it was, they were able to take a gulp of it, grimacing at the watery but sour taste; the first mouthful was always the worst although this body's taste buds did seem to be acclimatising.

Luckily for them, they'd gotten it down before their new companion's next comment or else they might have sprayed the liquid out through their nose. Snorted laughter issued forth instead, a full laugh coming from Shae that was almost forced out, overcompensating for their awkwardness.

"Oh I assure you, I'm not a violent man," they remarked, realising their mistake a moment too late. There was a minute wince, their panic temporarily drowned in another mouthful of beer as their mind raced.

Man!

Stupid!

Godsbedamned fool!

Circle strike them!

"Obviously... 'cos I'm not a man. My father used to say that but then if he had enough to drink and someone said he couldn't play for shit or worse, someone tried to harm his guitar then yeah, you'd see a man dismantled. Me though? I ent violent just because I'm wick," they laughed, shaking their head, something more melancholy entering their expression. "Besides I'm not a real one, I'm too city. Can't even use Tek right, ye chen?" they added, sullen, briefly bitter before they shook it off.

They weren't much of anything any more.

They tried to laugh it off, spinning Tom's words to shoot back at him. "You're an odd golly, if I may say so. You've a looser way of speaking then most and that seems hard for you lot to pick up. He certainly hasn't gotten the hang of it," they added, jerking a thumb back towards Kit.

"He's a proper posh boy when he's riled is Kit. Oh yeah! He's Kit and I'm Shae by the way, forget my own head if I wasn't attached... to it."

Attached until they forgot themself. Idiot.

There was a brief juggle as the raen's coordination fell off the wagon, spilling beer on themself in their flustered state as they tried to work out how to offer a hand for the other to shake. They settled for setting the glass down, swearing as they pushed the heel of their hand against the damp patch in their lap as if it'd somehow resolve matters because obviously that'd take all the beer out. Then the hand jerked out, its stickiness belatedly remembered so that it could be rubbed on a dry bit of trouser before being finally offered to Tom with a good-humoured, self-deprecating laugh.


word count: 1313
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Kit
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:03 pm
Topics: 2
Race: Galdor
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Writer: Foxing
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Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:56 am

22nd Ophus | Early Evening
The Black Dove
Image
The galdor swerved away from Shae’s worried onslaught, chuckling.

“Get off, I’ve had worse.”

It did, in fact, sting like hell, but his cuff came away with barely a spot of red and he wasn’t going to admit it to Shae, especially when she looked so concerned.

“I’m just fine, darling.”

Ignoring the scratch burning a line up his cheekbone, he turned to watch, amused, the exchange between his companion and the tired-looking golly. Leaning nonchalantly on the bar, Kit’s wandering gaze met the other man’s for moment, and as he registered the start of recognition and the flush he wondered idly what could have caused it. The man was too well-dressed to be a regular- and in any case, Kit hadn’t seen him before- so what was he doing here? Slumming it to feel better about himself?

It was a habit he’d picked up during his time in Old Rose...not one for polite society for sure, at least not without an introduction… but he found himself edging his field out to meet the other’s, skirting round Shae’s jangling mess of a glamour. Meeting other galdor in these circumstances was such an oddity that he liked to have some idea what they were capable of before he got too chummy.

This field, though? This was a surprise. He thought for a moment that he’d nudged Shae by mistake, but no, it was different, though similar enough that he understood his first assumption.

Then Kit realised that he was...well, not exactly staring, but close enough, and sharply turned back to his drink, just in time to hear the man call them an ‘odd pair’ , which engendered a laugh so sudden that gin went up his nose. This, unfortunately, gave Shae time to tie herself up in embarrassed knots.

He nudged her with an elbow. “And if we were,” the musician remarked teasingly, “would that be a bad thing? And I wouldn’t call you a room-mate. You’re just too cute to kick off my sofa.”

Looking over her head to the older galdor, Kit addressed him directly.

“You could call us ...friendly colleagues, I suppose.” He took a more leisurely sip of gin, regarding the other man curiously. “And the Dove’s seen me a fair few nights a month over the last decade, so you must be new to these parts.”

The Bad Brother in him was sitting up and taking notice, wondering if this well-dressed gentleman had business he should know about in Old Rose.

Oh good gods… he should probably spend less time in contemplative silence if this was how Shae was going to be this evening. Kit found himself regarding her in amusement as she rambled, cutting in at one point with a surprised interjection-

“Your father played the guitar?”
-glancing at his own automatically with its curling broken string, abandoned in frustration. That was an intriguing revelation. Though, given her age, it was probably more like ‘plays the guitar’...

Oh, now she was mocking his accent. That was not to be borne, and he interrupted in precise tones, underlaid with good humour.

“Excuse me, madam, I speak correctly, unlike the rest of the ersehats in this godsforsaken pit, yourself included. Ragamuffin.”
Turning to their new companion, he apologised while ruffling Shae’s hair. “I’m so sorry. She was dropped on her head as a child, it’s not her fault. Fortunately my name is only one syllable or I’m sure it would drop out along with her manners. What brings you to the warm bosom of the Black Dove this fine evening?”

word count: 639
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Tom Cooke
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:07 pm



the black dove, old rose
daytime on the 22nd of Ophus, 2718
How protective she was of Kit! Being honest, he thought it was absurd – all this over a guitar-string? – but there was something a little sweet about it, a little off-kilter; he realized for the first time how young the wick was, despite her commentary on the barfight. She was clucking and twittering over Kit like a schoolgirl. Then again, the offbeat galdor had worked his charms on Cooke once, too, and it wasn’t as if he couldn’t see the draw.

When he felt the golly’s field brush up against his, he gritted his teeth hard. He’d never get used to that feeling, like no other he’d ever had; it was like having another set of nerves that picked up the weather of a whole different world, except it was right now and right here, and Anatole’s little crowd of friendlies was none too pleased with their new custodian. He reckoned that they were doing things now in response to him, but he could never guess what; the madder he got, the more agitated they got, and when he was calm they at least settled down. But he didn’t know how to do whatever it was that gollies did when they greeted one another, and he certainly didn’t know what to do when another field brushed up against his.

So he sat, and he saw Kit staring at him, and he himself stared fixedly at his whisky. He felt the mona mingle around him and the other galdor; he felt the other field recede, but his own was still frazzled, charged, as if he’d dragged his feet on a carpet. He took another drink to steady his fired-up nerves, but then the wick spoke again.

He turned to her, propping his head up and quirking an eyebrow. Not a violent man? If she hadn’t corrected herself, he might’ve thought he’d mistaken a young wick lad for a lass; it wouldn’t have been the first time, and given her dress, he wouldn’t have given it a second thought. It would’ve explained the flusterment surrounding Kit. That, at least, was something Tom understood. He remembered being a young lad, trying to wrangle and quash and justify his feelings for the less-than-fair sex.

Instead, she rattled off something about her father’s guitar. He watched her face intently, squinting through bleary eyes, as she downed another few gulps of beer in a hurry.

Tom snorted after a moment, not quite sure what to say. He edged around it. “You seem a real enough wick to me. You’re no golly, that’s for sure.” He shot Kit a glance behind her, a smile that was supposed to be good-humored but wound up looking a little sad. “Well – er – aye. You could say I’m new. I’ve not been here in some time. But maybe I’ll get the chance to hear you play while I’m here, hey?”

Not that I ain’t heard it a dozen times before.

Just then, the wick fumbled her pint and slopped beer all over herself. Tom winced, eye twitching; that blundering, jerky motion of her hands reminded him of something. The wick’s glamor had been whistling a familiar tune in the back of his head, but he couldn’t have placed it until now. He thought of himself a couple of months ago, shambling in an unfamiliar skin, barely able to walk by himself – he thought of the way he’d dropped things, the way his hands had trembled like he was coming out of the worst trip of his life. For a splitsecond, he pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes.

But maybe she’d backlashed. Maybe she was just a feckless kid. Regardless, it was none of Tom’s business, and frankly, he didn’t want to know.

“Shit, er –” He started, tore himself from his reverie, and rifled around inside his coat; he took out Anatole’s handkerchief. Instead of taking the wick’s proffered hand, he pressed the embroidered cloth into it, patting her hand awkwardly. “Here’s a – well. If you need – something.”

After a pregnant pause, he spluttered into a nervous laugh; his voice cracked, and he cleared his throat.

“Oh, hell. Forgive me. Shae and Kit,” he repeated, “friendly colleagues.” He leaned against the counter again, and there was another pause. “Where are my manners? I must’ve been dropped on my head, too. My name is –” He thought rapidly. Great clocking Lady, Cooke, would it kill you to think ahead for once in both of your lives? He flashed a bright smile. “Francis Hawthorne. Visiting from the capital. On… business. Good to meet you both.”

Francis? Fucking Francis?

“This is a favorite haunt of mine, if you can believe it. From a long time ago.” Not long enough. He raised an eyebrow at Shae. “As for my speaking, well – I can play the Uptown Vienda game when I have to, but I’d rather be playing Rooks. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of work to be done in the capital, and it’s kept me away from the Harbor for a long, long time.”

Tom took another long drink of Gioran whiskey, then straightened. Ice clacked as he set it down on the counter. Casually, with a teasing flourish, he extended his hand to Shae again – this time for a proper shake. His glance darted between the two of them, bemused, but settled on Shae.

“And what about you? Do you play the guitar?”
word count: 978
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Shae
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:30 pm
Topics: 8
Race: Raen
: Too pretty for you
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Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:24 am

Ophus 22, 2718 | Early Evening
The Black Dove
.
Image
The raen was possibly going to be stuck in a permanent state of embarrassment this evening. They might not have minded so much if they weren't also in a permanent state of blush. It was a state that they'd found seemed to delight Kit, the man often gleeful in his attempts to prolong the state when it occurred in the normal run of things. He seemed to like teasing out the different scarlet tones in their cheeks, seeing how far across their face he could paint them. In fairness, he didn't really need to try to achieve the effect but they definitely wondered if he'd made his comment on purpose. He elicited more than a blush in them though when he asked if it'd be bad if they were in a relationship.

It was said in such an off-hand teasing way, obviously not said with some deeper meaning that that was what he wanted. Them to be together. The seeming insincerity of it didn't stop their heartrate from ratcheting up, a nervous energy charging them that unhinged them a little, throwing off their thoughts and their coordination. Kit and their new drinking buddy probably thought they were a mess. Hell, Kit knew they were a mess so it probably didn't seem out of the ordinary.

Too cute to kick off the sofa... well, it wouldn't be the sofa that they were kicked off if the man decided that they should leave. They liked to think that that wouldn't happen because the galdor seemed quite happy to let their friendship to continue, at least in part because there were distinct perks to allowing it to continue. Oh he liked her well enough as a friend, especially with benefits, but it was sort of awkward to define their relationship and that wasn't something that would have affected them before.

It's because you've got it bad, they pointed out mentally, cursing themself for it because it made the blush intensify. 'It' wasn't anything really, just a harmless little infatuation, an attachment that- well, it couldn't lead to more, could it? They'd get over it, it'd be fine.

Absolutely clocking fine.

Friendly colleagues! That was what they were! Friendly friends who lived together and worked together and were quite uh... close. Without being close like that. That was it, the nail had been quite firmly knocked on its head now.

If they could just keep their mouth shut or at least not make an absolute fool of themself - they feared that it was too late for that - then everything would be just fine. Except that they were nervous and awkward as heck.

Kit asking about their father playing guitar made them self-conscious for some reason and their blush and flustered state worsened. Why had they mentioned their father? Why had they mentioned their wick status? Why had they mentioned any of it? Of course Kit would jump on anything they said about their past because he was curious, understandably so. The raen was a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma. A mysterious conundrum wrapped up in an enigma. If their positions were reversed, they'd be curious too although they definitely would have asked questions. The galdor had largely left them in peace.

"Yeah, he plays the guitar," they murmured in a single breath, getting the words out as fast as possible. It was out there now, please move on, please move on, please move on! They weren't examining any connection between their father playing the guitar - hell, they played the guitar themself! - and Kit playing it. No way in hell! It was not a topic they wanted to dwell on at all. The galdor with the funny field got an answer in a far more level voice and didn't sound as if the speaker was trying to projectile vomit words at him.

"Oh well, not being taken for a galdor certainly isn't an insult to me," they responded with an awkward little laugh. They were keenly aware that they might inadvertently insult two galdori if they said things the wrong way and one of them they really, really didn't want to insult. Better if they said as little as possible about the matter. They were a wick, that had been established, except they weren't one anymore, not really and they didn't fit with this golly pair. They didn't have the same easy confidence they'd once had, perhaps feeling a little more vulnerable now because of their diminished size. They hardly felt like one of the lads in this situation, given that they weren't a lad from anyone else's perspective but their own and even that conviction was shaky.

Honestly, they felt like the odd one out.

That feeling was hardly helped by the way Kit ruffled their hair like they were some child (he didn't think they were a child, they knew that but they were still small and vulnerable in his eyes, they knew it) the amount of female identifiers crossing his lips just making them feel worse. It was added to by the older golly offering them a handkerchief, the awkward pat on the hand reminding them of the way some men reacted when they had to deal with a crying woman. Gods, what was this? Were they treating them differently because they were in a womanly shape or were they mad? Kit did like to act the idiot with them but also... he didn't treat other men - real men - the way he treated them.

They shrugged Kit off with evident annoyance, unconsciously leaning away from him as if that would get them out of his long-armed reach, a huff issuing from between chapped lips. "Told you he's plum posh when he's riled and I have manners, thanks," they muttered, a touch sulky as they gave him a disgruntled look and reached up to smooth their hair.

They pinched the handkerchief between finger and thumb, gazing down at the delicate hands, ridiculously soft and white for a few moments instead of simply using it. This was hardly the weather for a tan but just looking at them was a reminder of just what a pampered body they'd found themself in, someone who'd never had to work outside or work at all. Poor Cordelia. And she'd had nice fingernails but Shae had taken to picking and biting at them, a nervous habit that they'd brought with them across lives.

They dabbed at the stains anyway in a distracted sort of way, hardly realising that they were doing. Only when they'd managed to get it damp with beer did they realise that it wasn't theirs. They attempted to give it back to him with a mumble of "Sorry, Francis."

They were a bit wary of going near their pint again and perhaps rightly so because Francis extended his hand to shake and they took it, an odd moment ensuing. Their mind remembered how to shake hands firmly and without crushing fingers, just the right amount of pressure but the body... well the hands were different for one, the strength level as well. They did try though, soft hand grasping his with perhaps a bit more force than was strictly necessary as they tried to compensate for... something. It wasn't finger-breaking or pain-inducing - Cordelia's strength hadn't been great and Shae hadn't done much to build it up yet given other concerns - but it was probably a bit surprising in its firmness. It was enough to leave the palm and fingers of their hand tingling.

They took a gulp of beer and belched, back of their hand pressing briefly against their mouth, a soft apology accompanying it because they had in fact been raised with manners!

"I do play but I'm... very out of practice," they explained, hands curling into fists in their lap to hide their very soft fingers. They'd borrowed Kit's guitar but the callouses were taking their time to appear, the strings biting in so painfully that they weren't inclined to push themself. All the same, they were considering speeding things up a bit, a bit of a desperate measure really; they were considering burning their fingertips. "I'm self-taught though and I've never been particularly good at that. Singing has always been easier but... I'm out of practice there too."

They were talking about their past life too much, touching on things that they couldn't explain fully in their current one. They could have been imagining it but they were certain Kit's interest was clear beside them although they weren't going to look to confirm.

"Music interest you, does it? Don't suppose that you play anything, do you?" they asked Tom


word count: 1525
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Kit
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:03 pm
Topics: 2
Race: Galdor
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Writer: Foxing
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Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:42 pm

22nd Ophus | Early Evening
The Black Dove
Image
It was strange. There was definitely a similarity between Shae’s glamour and the other golly’s fragmented field. Kit found himself wondering what had happened to the galdor, if he could get the man to tell him with Shae out of earshot.

“... maybe I’ll get the chance to hear you play while I’m here, hey?”

“If you’re here tomorrow night, you definitely will- I play the Dove two threes a month. Longstanding arrangement. It does, however, mean that I won’t be tempted into playing now, no matter how I’m begged.”

He hid a smile as Shae fumbled, he’d learned to be kind about her clumsiness, it embarrassed her so. But the man offered a handkerchief, which was kind, and he found himself warming to the other golly.

“Likewise, Francis. Good to meet you too. This business anything a couple of musicians could help with? Though if you used to live here I’d imagine you know your way around. Much changed since you were here last?”

As Shae described her lack of prowess with music, Kit laughed, taking another drink. She really had no clue.

“You’re a lot better than you think you are. We should probably look into getting you your own instrument though- If you didn’t have to use mine maybe my strings wouldn’t be snapping.” The corner of his lip quirked in an amused smile as he teased the girl. “You have talent, darling, I wouldn’t waste my time-or guitar- on you if you didn’t. And your voice is an excellent counterpoint to mine, we should sing together more.”

Kit enjoyed singing with Shae. It was true, the tones of their voices did sound well together, but it was more than that. He’d always found a connection in song, but never one quite like the one he felt when they sang together, when their voices intertwined to make more beautiful music than could ever be achieved alone.

He smiled to himself, but his thought had other intent, and the niggling feelings that had started up a few days ago raised their ugly heads once more.

...I’m going soft. She’s going to leave sooner or later… I’m going to shout, or worse… she’s too sweet to put up with my shit once she gets a proper look...she’ll run…


word count: 423
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