Bereft Souls (Ezre)

Anaxas' oldest and most prestigious University of Sorcery, the de facto cultural capital of the kingdom and a city in its own right.
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Topics: 17
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
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Writer: Maximus
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Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:54 pm

Bethas 13, 2719 | Lunch Break
Brunnhold Library
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"There is pain in the parting,
Love and labors lost as the soul is cleft.
To lose what is dear in life
Is to leave the soul bereft..."

Ksjta Tzacks
Excerpt from Spiritual Anguish

---

The toll of the bell, that particular booming sound that marked the end of classes for the nonce and the beginning of lunch was a welcome sound for the Hoxian diplomat. Hers wasn't the relief of a student eager to get away from classes, to socialise and fill rumbling bellies that had started to niggle at them halfway through the last period. She was a bit long in the tooth now to be one of those youthful scholars and she hadn't been the sort to delight in mealtimes during her schooldays in any case. Instead, she was glad to see students gathering their belongings, clearing desks as they filed out of the library. There were few students who'd remain in the library over the mealtime, fewer still who'd choose to enter now although once upon a time, the Hoxian had been part of that rare number. The socialisation had been tiresome, the awareness of being among those who were culturally strange something that she'd felt keenly and the immaturity of it all. It had been the kind of thing that had made her take refuge in her studies.

The young woman yearned for the peace and the chance to focus on her own reading now that the youths were leaving. It was a library of course so there were rules, a certain amount of decorum when it came to behaviour and noise levels. None of the students were breaking those rules, not causing disturbance in the usual sense. Actually, she doubted that anyone else would be bothered in the way that she was. There was too much red hair, too many flowing heads of hair, the occasional giggle or sweet whisper of a female voice reaching her ears and no matter how she tried to fight it, to rationalise that these girls working alone or in pairs were young, mere girls, Drezda found herself drawing associations nonetheless.

Everything came back to Khymarah. She wouldn't have thought that so many little things could drive her back to the moments they'd shared together, the gentle flirtations, the lingering kisses, the sweetness of it and those horrible moments when the woman had come to her with tears and a wringing of hands as she explained her mother's death and her need to return to Bastia. The resignation as she explained that she would have to be her father's business partner now. How she wouldn't be coming back. And the diplomat couldn't soon forget how cold she'd grown, her exterior stony and impenetrable, politely yet icily understanding while something within her cracked and splintered. It didn't matter how hard she was on the outside, it didn't help keep things intact within.

It had been... how many weeks had it been? Two? Three? She wasn't even sure but it was like no time had passed, everything still felt so keenly. She hadn't expected to feel so raw and it had taken everything in her power not to crawl into a bottle and stay there. Khymarah may have gotten under her skin and done some damage with her departure but it didn't mean that Drezda had to lose her hard-won progress. Instead, she'd been doing her best to keep busy. She'd stepped up her political engagements, paying those she dealt with rather more attention than would be usual; she suspected that some politicos were actually a bit worried about what the Hoxian might be planning to do involving them. She'd also stepped up her research into backlash for Anatole, more invested now that she needed the distraction and to achieve something. Perhaps part of her was also desperate not to lose the tentative bonds of near friendship that she'd developed with the Incumbent because to lose him as well would leave her with nothing.

Not that she'd ever allow herself to think of such a thing. Thoughts that came fleetingly before they were shoved down didn't count as real thoughts, her thoughts. They came from another place surely, some rogue entity invading her brainwaves.

So here she was, trying. The diplomat was probably becoming a more recognised face in her former place of education, students afforded more than a few glimpses of her over the course of the year given how frequently she'd been here since Intas. The woman had taken the time to check in with some of her Kingdom's people here, inquiring about their welfare with the higher ups but thus far only having visited a few of them in person. She'd get to them, the ones that needed her in any case, but in the meantime, she had plenty to keep her occupied.

With the vast majority of students gone, Drezda felt more at ease about rising from her seat to peruse shelves. It wasn't that she was self-conscious but rather that the more she roamed while they were here, the more likely it was that she'd have to leave the library altogether. Why did there have to be so many blasted redheads?

Brows were pulled together, lips pursed as she considered what was on offer, determined what volumes she'd already examined and what ones were liable to be promising. In truth, she was beginning to wonder if she needed to things from a different angle but she hadn't determined what. Was Anatole's condition the result of malicious magic or his own magical hubris? Had he received some sort of divine curse? She didn't think that it could be the last. The Circle didn't interfere quite so directly. To curse a child at birth perhaps, quietly modifying them in the womb, that one she could understand but to strike a man in his prime where so many could see-

Well, it would certainly send a message but what kind was anyone's guess. But no, Circle-stricken ill didn't seem the answer. Why single him out after all? To Drezda's mind it seemed ridiculous but then she had never quite taken up the teachings that her mother had so carefully tried to instil in her, teachings that her father didn't wholly approve of given his worship of money over most else. Her sister Tsia had been cursed for their lapse in faith, her mother was certain of it. Her mother who should have known better. She'd been raised Hexxos, she had different views on the Circle than most, especially those outside of Hox. Her mother would probably have had something profoundly spiritual to say about Anatole's condition. The woman was far more inclined towards the spiritual since Tsia's confinement in Frecksat.

Funny, there was an odd pang at the thought of her mother, a strange longing to consult her on the matter, the distance between them suddenly something that she felt deeply. She wanted to talk about Anatole but also Khymarah. Of her parents, Ksjta was the more tolerant, the one most likely to understand and sympathise with her loss of a potential love, even if that love was a woman. After all, it had been her mother who had suggested that if she did her duty of marrying a man then she could take female lovers, a suggestion that had horrified her father.

Strange that she wanted the woman now when she had always had such a turbulent relationship with her. But any perspective that differed from her own was welcome right now.

It was that line of thinking, especially the thought of her mother that had her field rippling and pulsing with complex emotions, her misery succeeding in leaking beyond the bounds of her control. Those unlucky enough to be in her vicinity could hardly help encountering it. It was made worse by the sight of a Hoxian features, the features so familiar to her even if they were scarcer here in this land of foreigners. It made her drift closer despite herself, some part of her mind murmuring feeble excuses about duty because here was a Hoxian she hadn't spoken to, one who seemed to be diligent, one who seemed to be-

What are you doing, Drezda? He'll know everything wrong with you in a moment, don't... she warned herself but she'd seen the tattoos on his hands, the comfortable faded inking beneath the skin that she had seen so many times. Her mother's tattoos. Hexxos tattoos...

"Momma," the diplomat whispered to herself, the misery seeping a little bit more past her defences, bleeding outwards even as she managed to keep the mask. By sheer force of will, she managed not to approach him, ever so briefly drifting within field range of him before she moved swiftly out of it again to a random nearby shelf to examine its contents instead.

Unseeing.
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word count: 1578

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Ezre Vks
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 4
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
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Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:32 am

The Library
During Lunch Hour of the 13th of Bethas, 2719
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Never in his eighteen years of life in this moment of the Cycle had Ezre found himself so full of so many emotions and thoughts all at once, jumbled together, vying for his attention, attempting to seep out of his usually calm exterior.

He'd struggled through the past several days of classes, having come home from Ghost Town a jittery mess of excitement, terror, guilt, and curiosity. He couldn't tell a living soul: he couldn't express the thrill of meeting a raen nor could he discuss the harrowing phenomenon such a chance encounter unraveled into despite their obvious survival. He couldn't share with Lilanee. He couldn't talk theory with Madame Exudus. He simply had to compartmentalize every aspect of that day in tidy little boxes of his inner self.

And it was hard.

So hard, it hurt.

Ezre was an admirable example of a young Hoxian, but these past few days had definitely pushed him to his limits. He finally ached for the isolated trustworthiness and warm comforts of home. Tom Cooke had only made him miss his mother, regardless of how different the once-human from Old Rose Harbor was from Lreya of Kzecka, the galdor woman he called umah. Her skin was inked like his own: simple, geometric tattoos meant as visual representations of ley lines, a monic sense of direction on hands and feet, a single line running up both arms and meeting behind the neck to run down the spine.

As an only child, he was not expected to offer himself as a vessel to another raen, but the tattoos served as alternative methods of focus and documented his level of devotion to his gods and his religious order waiting for his eventual return.

Ezre had never thought he could know loneliness at these depths, and yet despite his few friends here in Brunnhold, he'd skipped lunch today to hide in the library, fasting for his peace of mind and avoiding the crowds usually whispering furtively between the rows of books. He'd gone over his notes so many times over the past ten days, written more in the margins, and had dug through so many dusty tomes and scrolls both here under the curious glances of Miss Rosie Opkins and beneath Brunnhold deep in the Crypts.

But no conclusions had been successfully drawn and the distractions Ezre longed for had yet to be found.

Nothing, it seemed, would truly eradicate the haunting of his person by loneliness, by homesickness, by an aching awareness of the distance between himself and his contemplative mountain home. Like a hungry ghost, these things seemed to follow him in hopes of devouring his very soul. Not that he blamed Tom for awakening such things, for stirring the restless spirits around him as they'd one in Ghost Town a week ago—as he'd done in the phasmonia with his eagerness. No. He'd made the choice to travel, to widen his perspective, to gain knowledge that simply was not found in the sacred libraries of Kzecka.

If he was not to sacrifice his body in this lifetime, then the least he could do would be to sacrifice his time, his heart, and his mind to furthering Hexxos understanding of the phenomena they sought to gain knowledge about.

Fingers carefully turned yet another page of a tome so old he was afraid he'd crumble the parchment. He'd had to have one of his professors sign permission for him to even spend time with this particular book on anatomy, ley lines, and the soul's seat in the body. It was apparently a rather controversial spiritual piece, written by a Hessean who'd been rumored to have dissected uncountable numbers of every race in order to draw his conclusions. One rumor revolved around his torturous studies with living victims, but Ezre wasn't sure if that was just heresay to discredit the man or if he really was just a psychopath in academic disguise.

Either way, his work was still fascinating.

Dark eyes began to skim the old, printed text on the page when he felt, for just the briefest of moments, the flicker of someone else's field. He could have ignored it, engrossed in his studies instead of jostling for position in the lunch line of the Cafeteria, but he simply allowed it to brush against his magical senses instead—full of emotions, laden with Perceptive Conversation. He didn't pay attention to the sounds uttered, somewhat judging the interloper purely based on their lack of self control.

Typical Anaxi

He glanced up, gaze coming into focus on someone who was not at all what he expected. No freckles or red hair met him, but instead the dark hair and golden undertones of his own people, of a Hoxian, as she seemed to retreat from his proximity toward one of the shelves nearby—shelves occupied by treatises on the various techniques of burial, mummification, and body preparation. He enjoyed the section, sure, but only because of his academic focus—

"Ziedek, vumein." Ezre offered quietly in greeting, not yet standing despite his obvious words. Deftung was an archaic, dying language among galdori in Hox, it was true, but the formalities were still used and recognizable to most even if he was sure his fluency was uncommon outside of Kzecka, "It's not often I find anyone frequenting this section of the stacks who isn't a mortician."

There was no real audible humor in the statement, implied as it was in the carefully chosen words instead of in the soft, deadpan method of delivery, but the boy sat up straighter, palms flat against the table he had to himself, ramscott Clairvoyance-filled field crisp and alert in tangible compliment to his well-practiced rhakor. He'd made some attempt to be aware of all the other students, faculty, and staff from his homeland, but he didn't recognize the woman before him. Was she a visitor?
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word count: 1054
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Topics: 17
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
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Plot Notes: [url=http:/fullurl/]Plot Notes[/url]
Writer: Maximus
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:27 pm

Bethas 13, 2719 | Lunch Break
Brunnhold Library
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"A mask of stone, trifling to a faithful one
- those of the mountain - who may don it at will,
Cannot be worn by the feeling ones.
Lacking a true sense of self, feeling ones
Die behind the veil of expectation."
Ksjta Tzacks
Excerpt from Rhakor Weakness

---
She'd crossed into his field - only momentarily - but it was enough for him to have sensed too much. Even Anaxi with their lack of control typically did a better job of hiding their emotions than she was doing right now. All galdori knew that another galdor could happen into their field and sense things and in enclosed spaces like this one, it was considered almost guaranteed. It was impolite to thrust your feelings on others, especially strong ones, which weren't meant to be spread about willy nilly and without permission to boot. What she had allowed to seep out was a breach in common courtesy, a faux pas, and to one of her people it would be seen as something far worse: a grievous failing and show of weakness. One glance and the boy would know what she was and possibly who she was.

He wasn't likely to remain ignorant of her for long and if he chose to engage her, she couldn't be the same undisciplined creature that she was a present. Thus, as soon as she was settled before the shelves with the knowledge that was strange to her, the woman began to work on improving herself. Rhakor was something she had wilfully eschewed in recent months but she wasn't incapable of employing the composure when necessary. In the last few days, the diplomat had needed to develop the poise to deal with the Hoxians that she'd arranged to meet but she had had time to prepare herself on each occasion, had had the right state of mind to maintain her self-control and right now, she didn't have it. Forcing the state wasn't a happy affair at all.

No one was meant to dig into the edges of their emotions, to separate them from their natural moorings, scrape them free like a troublesome bit of matter stuck to the edges of a frying pan. It wasn't right to rip them free, to shove them down and wrap them so tightly together into a bundle of raw sentiment that felt as if it would smother. So much feeling forced into a small space and pushed down, not allowed to vent was agonising and soul-destroying. To grab it and shove it in with such violence in order to maintain an outwardly impassive countenance and a field that was calm and placid. Inwardly, the Hoxian woman was in a unique sort of agony which required her to do the mental equivalent of gritting her teeth. It was no easy thing but she had enough wherewithal to react calmly to his greeting.

She turned, seeing that he hadn't risen from his seat. Even so, she rose her right hand and bowed her head, a forty-five degree tilt that was stiff and proper but was still graceful. "Ziedek vumash," she addressed him formally, moving with slow measured steps towards the table at which he was seated. Her walls were up now, her demeanour what it ought to be as she entered field range.

The diplomat hadn't realised what section of shelves she'd entered but she was quick to come up with a response, a certain wit to it although like Ezre her delivery was flat.

"I thought I'd try a rather different perspective in order to give my mind the chance to return to my own studies with a bit more mental vigour. I'm afraid that I haven't found anything suitably enlivening," the diplomat remarked, considering the young man with a sweep of her dark gaze. She didn't allow her field to explore his own but she could feel the strength, the Clairvoyant mona that was contained within it and its rather rigid sharpness. Interesting but the choice of conversation wasn't that surprising perhaps given his ink.

Her eyes would seek his, a definite intent in her actions.

"I'm Drezda Ecks, diplomatic representative for Hox in Anaxas. I've been checking up on those of our Kingdom who are studying and working in Brunnhold so this encounter is fortuitous but unexpected. If it's an unsuitable time, we can arrange a proper meeting. Assuming you have need of one."

The professional attitude was one that she could slip into with relative ease, something well-practised and it helped with keeping her emotions in check. This was a mask she was used to wearing and one that fit comfortably even if worn with some degree of displeasure now.

"It must be quite... different for you here. Even Frecksat would be different. Coming from Kzecka."

She wasn't asking about his place of origin but rather stating it, a slight movement of her hand encompassing his own hands.

"My mother is Hexxos," Drezda offered by way of explanation. She wasn't being rude, just matter-of-fact.
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word count: 908
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 4
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:21 pm

The Library
During Lunch Hour of the 13th of Bethas, 2719
Not one for politics, Ezre was only vaguely aware of the names of Hoxian representatives who filled out their various randomly selected roles here in the Kingdom of Anaxas both in an effort to reconnect his homeland with the Symvoulio as well as in an effort to keep dibs on the tumultuous affairs of the Six Kingdoms' most troublesome member. Once the woman turned in his direction and his dark eyes took in her face, he stood because she acknowledged him and the boy returned her formal bow.

She'd composed herself, gathering her field like one shut the curtains against the morning sun when hungover and wanting to sleep in while molding her expression into a much more acceptable and presentable neutrality as was expected of a Hoxian woman her age and possible station. Was she a guest lecturer? A professor he'd not yet met? She wasn't a student, surely? A visitor? Was she connected to the government now that spring had arrived in the last year of the Anaxi Cycle.

"You won't find anything about the living in this section, to be honest." Ezre offered the obvious humor with the expected deadpan delivery, but there was a lilt to his very Deftung-accented voice that revealed it was meant to be a joke shared between them had the woman noticed any of the titles. Otherwise, it was simply something for his own amusement, though he didn't smile about it on the outside.

When Drezda introduced herself, the ninth form bowed again out of respect, a little bob that revealed he recognized her name and understood the privilege of her position. While the main government in their homeland was a short-term affair chosen through random lot instead of election, a diplomatic position such as Miss Ecks' was one with a decent length of term and much deliberation and preparation. The consonants of her surname were familiar to his ears, Ecks and Vcks being new and old pronunciations of the same ancient clan, separated by generations of differing view points and a few hundred years,

"I'm glad to meet you, Ecks-vumein." He said quietly, "I'm Ezre Vcks, ninth form. Wrapping up my studies in Anthropology and Mortuary Sciences as well as Clairvoyance. This is a free period for me, being my lunch hour, and I'm here for my own pleasure so my time is my own to spend."

The dark-haired boy didn't have any particular plans and so he offered himself to the Hoxian without question since she sounded sincere about her reasons for being in Brunnhold in the first place. He'd obviously missed an announcement, but he didn't let that chagrin show in his expression. One eyebrow quirked in surprise, however, when the older woman mentioned how different Anaxas must have been from Frecksat, but it was when she said Kzecka that the delicate curves of his lips drew into a thin line. Her gaze didn't flick down to the tattoos on his hands, and yet she didn't blink when she said Hexxos.

"Your mother?" He breathed, inhaling sharply, an eagerness warming his face all of a sudden and his eyes widening, "Both my parents are Hexxos. I am their only child."

Ezre realized he'd simply repeated what Drezda had said, aware that she must have noticed his hands. He glanced downwards at them, tangling his fingers for a moment as he gathered his thoughts again, heart racing, mind turning. The Circle saw it fit to remind him of home again—first Tom Cooke and now Drezda Ecks—and he did not like it. Not one bit.

"There have not been any Ecks in Kzecka in a few generations, but I have not met anyone in a political position who has spoken so freely of the small religious order known to keep the books and the dead. Or anyone in Brunnhold for that matter. Anaxas is ... different, zjai, though I began my studies in Frecksat. I transferred here for my sixth year, but—"

His dark gaze almost instinctually flicked to her hands and then back to meet her eyes again, swallowing homesickness to shift the subject, his calm expression faltering and his field shifting for a moment because there was so much he could have said but most of it was full of far too much feeling. He clung to his well-practiced rhakor like flotsam in a river, biting his lip to keep from speaking while he found his focus, while he changed the direction of conversation without a hint of subtlety or apology. It would be obvious to the older woman that he was saving face,

"—oh. You did not choose to follow your mother. Hence your political service."

As a Hexxos acolyte, he would be exempt from the draw in six years when he came of official age back home in Hox. Whether he was disappointed by that truth or not was impossible to discern from his soft, quiet voice.
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word count: 890
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Topics: 17
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: [url=http:/fullurl/]Plot Notes[/url]
Writer: Maximus
Contact:

Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:32 pm

Bethas 13, 2719 | Lunch Break
Brunnhold Library
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"Souls are connected,
Links made and unmade,
Threads severed and rejoined or cast adrift.
Threads must return to the fold,
Lost connections woven in anew.
A failing web cannot hold,
Unravelling and losing much,
Lost threads cannot warn the whole
And the tremor as of spider silk
Is lost to those who watch
For that which sustains the many.
Without the tremor, change cannot
Be felt and the Cycle is altered.
Irreparable."

Ksjta Tzacks
Translated by the poet from Web of Souls

---

It was good to have the boy on his feet so that they were more on a level. Very much on a level in fact because they appeared to be precisely the same height. That was strangely nice actually, the Hoxian appreciating not having to look up. There wasn't a huge height difference between Anaxi and Hoxian galdori but Anaxi men usually had a few inches on her and she did not like to feel small and in any way vulnerable beside them. There was enough here to make her edgy as it was. One of her own countrymen was likely to spot flaws in her rhakor and that had been the case before she'd basically discarded the whole thing as largely pointless for her; she was far more liable to be seen as weak now.

The youth before her was everything that those of her kingdom aspired to be. His rhakor appeared to be impeccable. True, it had been quite some time since she'd spent time around Hoxians and so her subtler sense of emotional awareness might have been dulled by Anaxi and their frequently ill-hidden and obvious emotions but he honestly seemed emotionally flawless. His exterior was emotionally flattened, field perfectly calm, every gesture and inflection of his voice embodying the stoicism that she had always aspired to but always been too bloody emotional to attain. Even at her best, she hadn't been like this and Drezda was a far cry from that now.

She both envied the boy and pitied him. Did he suffer as much internally for it as she had? Did all of her people suffer that way and they all hid it from one another?

Seeing him and knowing that he would more than likely see through her fragile facade, the diplomat was tempted to be rebellious because clock it all, what had she to lose? Well, a lot of face in truth. She could still lose that somehow. Being in politics was unnecessarily laborious.

"Evidently. As I said, nothing suitably enlivening," the young woman retorted, not quite as deadpan as before, instead choosing to allow her tone to be dry and a touch sarcastic, subtle by Anaxi standards but far more blatant than the student would likely have expected. She had caught the names of some of the titles and so her words had been suitably chosen in the first place, largely to cover her own mistake of ending up in this section purely because she'd spotted him and had needed to get out of his field range. It was bloody stupid but he likely wouldn't press her about it.

However, on introducing himself it became quite clear why he was in this section. It made sense of course, even before he disclosed his field of study that he would be here. She should have guessed in fact, the ink on his hands sufficient indication of what he was and where his interests lay.

Oh yes, because you can learn so much from such things! Umah's hands for example...

The voice in her head was more obviously sarcastic than she'd employed aloud, a definite self-contempt there. Her mother was Hexxos but she hadn't always had an interest in the dead - not in Drez's time at least. She hadn't had that much interest in the dead when she'd left her way of life behind and married a man who was almost irreligious.

Looks could be oh so very deceiving.

Like him, she recognised the linguistic similarities between their family names but she was also aware that semantically, hers was at a further remove. Fitting given her father, she supposed and the family that had produced him. Still, it was interesting to come across one who seemed to bear so many links with her, not just in their kingdom of origin but in heritage. It was also a little unsettling.

An icy finger traced her spine and she had to resist the urge to shudder.

"If you're certain, Vks-vumash then it can be now. It isn't compulsory that we meet, I'm not here to force my presence on anyone. I simply find it beneficial to check up on Hoxian students and faculty while I'm here. Especially those who might not have wished to make a fuss. However, it's not as if anyone would be wasting my time by asking for my assistance or... for a contact with home," the politician explained softly, the last prompted largely by her own loneliness.

She knew what it was to be away from familiarity and even if reminders of home were sometimes awful, remembrances of embarrassments and failings intimately connected with the place, homesickness was something she knew. It was also something that a Hoxian wasn't really supposed to feel or rather they weren't supposed to acknowledge it. None of them would ever willing approach a diplomat simply because they wanted to be able to reminisce or talk to someone who was more like them than the Anaxi that surrounded them.

On some level, Drezda was also all too aware of the lunch hours she had spent in the library "for her own pleasure" that had involved her distracting herself because she wanted to avoid others and didn't want to face being the odd one out again as the only one without companions while her peers chattered and ate around her. She viewed him as a potential loner like her and one who might have felt that keenly. Although perhaps he was too young for that. It had taken a few years for the full sense of her loneliness to sink in, its claws dug quite deep into her now and the wounds it had left beginning to fester.

The pain threatened to resurface, Khymarah's departure far too fresh and raw for her to bear. There was the barest ripple in her field, a quick intake of breath as she quashed it. However, she need not have bothered, his own response likely to have made her own unnoticeable to him, especially as he would be just as quick to try and cover it.

But she saw the eagerness, saw the facade shift and reveal emotion despite the fact that she had thought it far too stubborn and immovable for that; Drezda blinked at the formerly ideal example of rhakor. In truth, he was a dam failing, the cracks appearing and the waters ready to come flooding through, a definite sense of dangerous pressure having built.

Oh hello...

Maybe the middle Ecks wasn't as alone with her emotional nature as she'd been led to believe. He was already giving her more information that was strictly necessary, straying from pertinent facts as he warmed to the notion of someone willing to talk about his origins. And even as he struggled to shove it back in - all too obvious to her - she was making a sign for 'peace', not intending to still him on the verge of an emotional outpouring but to soothe his attempts to suppress and hide it.

"Do not feel shame, mho. You need not save face with me and there is no one else to see. Would you rather we went elsewhere?" she suggested gently, the softest creasing around the eyes and downturn of her lips revealing her concern for him. Maternal perhaps but she judged it more a kinship, seeing enough of herself in him to understand how he must suffer.

To think she understood.

Her onyx gaze dropped to his hands, silently tracing the inking there. "Most do not really know, I suspect. The name, some rumours but... it isn't something that would be spoken about outside of Hox," the young woman pointed out gently. But she had spoken about it outside of Hox and with a foreigner; she'd talked about Hexxos with Anatole, albeit briefly. "To speak about it would be to express ignorance or show the depths of their superstition. I do not know as much as I perhaps should but I will admit that. I wasn't raised to follow my mother."

She paused, head tilting in a way that made her shoulder-length hair fall to obscure part of her face. Interesting what that little Anaxi fashion afforded, the chance to conceal although he would no doubt still manage to pick up on her slight awkwardness. Placing her mother in the structure that he was familiar with might provide him with some comfort but she was also aware that her mother was known. Perhaps there were things among the order that she was known for - the sins that she so vaguely alluded to - but she was also a woman of some renown. Much of her poetry was in Deftung, the older tongue that was largely obsolete among many galdori at home but in Kzecka it could be understood more readily. Even then, she had translated some of it to Estuan herself so the woman certainly was not unknown outside of the religious city.

"My mother wasn't born an Ecks, it's my father's name. She's... a Tzacks. Ksjta Tzacks. You... might have some knowledge of her. She still writes poetry, publishes and shares less of it, yes but... she still writes," the woman finished a little lamely, colour creeping into her cheeks. The diplomat never knew when she was talking to someone who would show polite recognition or do the Hoxian equivalent of showing fanaticism by commenting on specific passages they'd read and making comments at some length.

She didn't know which one Ezre was. She wasn't sure that he would know who she was although such a thing would be... refreshing.
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
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Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
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: better with the dead
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:55 pm

The Library
During Lunch Hour of the 13th of Bethas, 2719
The boy smiled, but it was very subtle, dark eyes widening for a moment when Drezda made the equally subtle joke. Had he been with students his own age, he might have even laughed, but he knew better than to do such a thing in this moment.

"Reaching home via seerstone is an arduous process and often unreliable given the distance, but I write letters when I can." Ezre knew that was not at all what the older Hoxian meant when she said contact with home, but he said it anyway, following it up with a very quiet, honest admission, "It is nice, however, to not only meet with another from my homeland, but to find someone to whom the Hexxos hold some meaning."

He bobbed his head and refrained from eye contact for longer than necessary, aware that his tone of voice carried more than just a hint of his innermost feelings in the Deftung-slanted lilt of the words. Did he entirely notice that the woman struggled far more than he? Not really, not in all the ways that she feared. He simply dismissed what feelings she made tangible purposefully or accidentally as a sign of just how well-traveled she was, how much she'd had to bend and shape herself to fit into the Kingdoms she'd visited.

He had no idea, obviously, and he would have been grateful in his ignorance had he known what gnawed away at the woman in front of him so calmly offering him some kind of familiar kindness.

"I'm not ashamed." Ezre said calmly, blinking slowly, waving toward the table he'd chosen and offering a seat as if he had no intention of going anywhere. He didn't. "And no one here would properly understand my need to save face, save you. So we lose very little by remaining."

Waiting for her to sit before he sat again, he closed his books and settled himself into the chair opposite of himself, unable to help but study her facial features and even more unable to help the slow warmth creeping into his delicate features as she said the name of her mother,

"The Ksjta Tzacks?"

Ezre would have seen Drezda's blush for what it was had he not been blinded by the sparkle of stars in his own dark eyes. He kept his voice down, but barely, leaning forward on the palms of his hands to speak furtively, tattooed fingers spread over the table's well-worn surface, "Oh. Zjai. She is your umah? I have read much of her work and it is most insightful. I have a great amount of respect for her poetry about the Cycle. You have much wisdom behind you guiding your political path. You must be very grateful for her light in the same way that Vroh Guar looks more beautiful silhouetted by the glow of the gods' auroras in the winter."

The ninth form refrained from reciting any of his favorite stanzas or going into a lengthy questioning of her opinions on the meanings of some of her most beloved passages, but the calm waters of his Clairvoyant-laden field rippled with his excitement even while his face belayed only a fraction of his genuine interest. He was quite sure that Ecks-vumien had heard all of the praise and all of the critique many times over.

Surely, his enthusiasm was obvious enough, subdued though it was by, say, Anaxi standards of emotional expression,

"There are still many Tzacks in Kzecka—have you, have you ever been to the Temple City?" Ezre was aware that it was not somewhere everyone wished to go, whether they were related to the Hexxos or not. It was, as one might say, an acquired taste when it came to both the high altitude's thin atmosphere as well as the esoteric lifestyle represented there. It was also a place shrouded in as much mystery and secrets as it was fog in the brief, northernmost summer in all of Vita,

"Did your umah share stories with you?"

Did her mother know Lreya Vks?
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 118
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Race: Galdor
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Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:20 am

Bethas 13, 2719 | Lunch Break
Brunnhold Library
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"The familiar is dear, oft a blessed sign
and found in unexpected places, a gods' given omen.
Eyes, ears, soul, open all lest ye be senseless
When portents come. Home is with you always
Close yourself and you will never find it 'more."
Ksjta Tzacks
Excerpt from Adrift

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Much of the boy's emotional response was subtle, delicately displayed rather than conspicuous like that of Anaxi. She supposed that by Anaxi standards, most of her own responses, even the supposedly extreme ones, her own feelings seemed pretty muted. She hadn't considered how it looked from their perspective before, how right at this moment, her interaction with Ezre must seem so unfeeling and rigid but they were actually sharing so much and here was Drezda feeling like all of her emotions were bleeding out of her; only her countryman would cop that though. The diplomat had never considered how alien she must appear to the people she almost viewed as savages for their wild emotions and their racial mixing.

All the same, she didn't think that the boy was being judgmental or disapproving of her emotional leakage, at least from what she could tell. Sometimes gaining a sense of how another Hoxian was like trying to navigate in the dark with your hands and feet bound and only realising that you'd screwed up when you ended up at the mercy of something angry and capable of tearing your face off. Well, no actual tearing where her own people were concerned but having your facade crumple under the cold contempt of one of them was honestly worse in her mind than being torn apart by spinewolves; at least the spinewolves finished you off quickly and they gave you a bit more warning that you were in danger in the first place.

His initial response to her comment about 'contact with home' made her think that she'd overstepped, that she had in fact spoken too baldly about the notion of homesickness. The woman was already contemplating the ways that she could backpedal - ideally gracefully - when he admitted that it was nice to have met her. Inwardly, she sighed in relief because she hadn't messed things up. Apparently, she'd made the right move though if his tone was anything to go by; that impassivity was definitely wavering. Maybe she should have felt guilty for making him reveal it, ashamed for possibly making his homesickness more acute. Instead, the diplomat was almost gleeful, all too pleased with herself for finding someone as liable to exude weakness as she.

She was a horrible person.

His quiet admission that he wasn't ashamed was made with such honest dignity that the older woman felt both remorseful and pitiful. A child could handle his emotions better than she could and what was more, he was prepared to own up to his feelings; he had them and wasn't going to pretend that he didn't in her presence.

Her sigh was a soft one, the Hoxian bowing her head briefly to acknowledge what he said before moving to the table he'd recently vacated. His deference was subtle but appreciated, the young man waiting for her to seat herself before he followed her example, tidying his study materials and focusing his attention upon her. There was no doubting that his interest in her was genuine rather than politely faked, especially as his demeanour altered at the mention of her mother. Black eyes suddenly seemed to gleam, features taking on a delicate flush as he leaned a little closer, eager, almost ready to launch himself to his feet once more. If he'd been Anaxi, he likely would have done just that, excitement causing him to crow aloud but the indications from Ezre were small but glaringly obvious to the young woman's eyes.

Maybe she wasn't as out of practice in reading her countrymen as she'd believed. Of course, it wasn't the first time she'd witnessed such a display, wouldn't be a novelty for her to see fanaticism firsthand.

"Yes, the Ksjta Tzacks," Drezda commented wryly, one corner of her mouth twitching in what might have been the beginning of a humourless smile. The Perceptive Conversationalist found herself gazing at the table as he spoke, thankfully not going so far as to talk specifics but his words were still painful enough to her. In fact, if he hadn't commented on the wisdom and light behind her, the guidance that her umah could provide then she might have been able to stop the slight wince. Her downcast gaze wasn't likely to have hidden it and he was sure to have sensed the little pulse in her monic aura and the unhappy little tendril of feeling that wavered briefly within it.

"I must admit that I don't- I haven't read most of her published work. I can't really... read... Deftung," she admitted quietly, looking up to meet his gaze. A shoulder moved in a delicate shrug, the Hoxian sheepish. "Not that I haven't read any of it but... I haven't read most of the ones that she's translated either. I suppose that our insight into her work would be rather different. You've read what she's published and I've read what she hasn't mainly. Even then, I'm sure the... significance of some of it wouldn't be the same to me either."

The diplomat considered his questions carefully before answering, folding her hands neatly together in her lap, leaning back a little in her chair as she relaxed her posture almost imperceptibly.

"I haven't been to Kzecka, no, nor met my kin from them."

My umah's family don't seem to want anything to do with her or us, she added silently. She suspected that her father had actually encouraged her mother to break the ties of her former life; she was an Ecks now after all, even if not in name.

"I would be interested in visiting though. Some day. It seems like it would be a unique experience," Drezda added, lips curling up in a sly smile. "I've heard stories, yes, both from my umah and others. My umah... well, she said things that sounded-" she paused, aware that she was wavering on the edge of amusement and scorn but also knowing that she'd had her doubts recently about whether or not some things she'd said were as ridiculous as she'd always thought. Obviously, she didn't want to cause offence either by sounding as if she was laughing at Ezre's beliefs.

"Honestly, she said things that sounded incredible to me. Too strange, too horrible to be true, but I'm a Frecks girl, Vks-vumash, I've had a very different upbringing than she did, than you did. That doesn't mean that I don't think- I've had reason recently to wonder..."

She bit her lip. Drezda had considered consulting her mother concerning this, hadn't she? If anyone was likely to know about the strange, supernatural or even divine circumstances that might have brought on Anatole's condition then it was Ksjta but that was only because she didn't know any other Hexxos. Here was one in front of her though. Once again, the coincidences that had brought them together at this time danced cold fingers along her spine.

Maybe there was a reason. What did her mother say about portents? Didn't she have verses about them?

"Forgive me, this will likely sound very ignorant but... I've been researching something peculiar for someone and I've remembered bits and pieces of my mother's tales but never gave them much consideration before. I know that souls are connected, that the Cycle links us but... do you know of people being affected by divine judgments part of the way through life? I know that the Circle typically intervene at the beginning or the end of life and usually if something happens to you, something negative, it's a past life or an ancestral thing - or so it is said - but can someone go so wrong in the middle that they're altered during life?"

Now that she'd said it, she felt unimaginably stupid. It sounded like deranged and confused rambling and what was more, it seemed like a ridiculous possibility once more. Backlash or malicious magic were the only sensible causes of Anatole's change. Logically, they made more sense than anything like what she'd just struggled to voice, what she'd spoken to with the Incumbent himself in her confused way. Obviously, what had happened to him didn't have to do with the soul.

Right?
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
Topics: 4
Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Writer: Muse
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Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:04 pm

The Library
During Lunch Hour of the 13th of Bethas, 2719
The younger Hoxian did not put on any shameful display of overt excitement once the Diplomat admitted to her mother being the one—and probably only—Ksjta Tzacks. Ezre had read plenty of her poetry in his home with his mother. He knew a handful of her extended family who still lived in Kzecka as Hexxos by name and face, though there was something about the way she spoke that warned him not to speak of them just yet, if at all.

He was, however, somewhat confused by the apparent relationship implied by Drezda's body language and fumbled words about her own mother. To say that the student was very close to his mother as the only child of a raen would have been an understatement, but it was simply something he knew he couldn't entirely share with anyone. He kept those feelings inside, safe and warm and hidden from view, just as he kept his judgment for the awkward way in which the woman across from him seemed to present her own relation,

"Kzecka is a rather closed place, it is true. Isolated and different from much of Hox despite the shared heritage between all galdori in our Kingdom, of course. But we welcome visitors nonetheless, especially if you have family there. I—oh."

One of the boy's delicate, dark eyebrows arched at the word incredible. It was, in all honesty, the only indication of curiosity that passed over his features once Drezda had settled in front of him and he'd set his schoolwork aside. Tattooed fingers came together on the surface of the table and Ezre Vks sat very still, so still, in fact, that even his field became more background noise than at all noticeable—a peculiar trait of Clairvoyant-laden fields, after all. He blinked, but the motion of his eyelids were deliberately slow, thoughts stirring in the shadowy Crypt-stalking, ghost-touching recesses of his very aware mind. While the young man felt his heartbeat pick up in anticipation, his outward appearance was as calm as ever.

"Some truths are strange. Others are horrible. Truth, itself, cares not either way." The Hexxos acolyte said without a hint of apology, his eyes darting to the older Hoxian's teeth against her lip before he held her gaze again, some cold, wet, tingling sensation dribbling down the back of his neck like that thick ectoplasm he'd had to clean from his clothes just days ago.

"—divine judgement? Dru." He paused, attempting to navigate the very murky, very purposefully obscured waters that the Diplomat from his homeland was so cautiously pouring out at his feet. He considered the possibilities and the sound of his pulse grew louder in his ears. If she was a politician, then—

"Perhaps what you actually mean is during the wrong part of the Cycle itself? Are you asking me if I know about ghosts, Ecks-vumien?" Ezre's voice didn't waver and his field didn't flutter, though speaking the word itself made his fingers curl together and his insides churn with memories of that inescapable pain of being an unwilling host. He swallowed something: an emotion, a statement, a thought, and then nodded very carefully, "The world of the living can be interrupted in a number of ways, whether it is by divine intervention—rare, though even Kzecka has a handful of records of the account—or interruption by the unliving—interaction with and or possession by souls that have, for some reason or another, found themselves outside of the Cycle and also inexplicably outside the reach of the gods."

The ninth form obviously heard himself speaking. He didn't seem at all to be joking. He believed everything he said as though it were undisputed fact and he had absolutely no obvious shame in speaking in hushed tones about such things with a complete lack of concern about airing the words in the quiet isolation of this particular, of this appropriate, section of the Brunnhold Library.

"If I have misread your question, I apologize. As Hexxos, my focus is on the dead, death, the life Before, and the life After. Though I aspire to comfort the living as well, practicality requires me to be knowledgeable of all possibilities between that first breath and the last."

He was sweating. He felt the dampness beneath his uniform. He felt the beads of salty liquid form between his shoulder blades, running gently down the bold, dark line of ink that was tattooed over the pronounced vertebra of his spine. Ezre remembered for a moment the sharp sensation of needles beneath his skin as a child, of the slow process of tattooing by hand that his isolated, spiritual people practiced as part of their initiation ceremony. He remembered the fiery sensation of his entire body objecting to the presence of another pressing against his soul, too.

The dark-haired boy slowed his breathing, masking the thrum of expectation, the buzzing of excitement, the thrill of curiosity behind an ever-so-delicate mask of well-practiced lack of extreme feeling,

"Can you explain further what kind of answer you are seeking?"
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
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Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:52 pm

Bethas 13, 2719 | Lunch Break
Brunnhold Library
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"Wayward souls, out of cycle,
Always hunger, never slumber,
Seeking an end that does not come.
Wayward souls find they linger,
Never finding what they seek
But ghosts can rest but for a time,
If they shelter in the flesh."

Ksjta Tzacks, Excerpt and translation from Hunger
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---
The young woman was struggling with her words, struggling to handle topics with which she'd found it necessary to wrestle. The diplomat had found herself strangely out of her depth by having a conversation with a child. Perhaps it wasn't fair to name him as such - a child - given that he must be less than a decade junior to her and held a maturity, wisdom and gravity, some of which evaded her even now. It was unfair though to find herself so oddly out of her depth given the sort of verbal jousts she had been known to engage in over the years; this wasn't even a matter of debate, he wasn't attempting to be persuasive and neither was she. Still, some vestiges of her usual manner remained, even if others were temporarily drowned as she found herself out of her depth. The notion of truth being unpleasant certainly wasn't a novel one and she wasn't going to allow the student to think that she was utterly clueless - she wasn't.

"Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance," she retorted in Deftung, the inflection suggesting that she could speak the language better than she may have implied although the words themselves had the ring of rehearsal - it was a maxim of her mother's. There might have been a sense of self-satisfaction in her field for the briefest of moments, certain that she had proven herself in this instance. However, it was utterly obliterated by shock as he pressed on.

Her field shook, there was no better term for it. It wasn't simply a pulse or a ripple but a brief and violent tremor that gave the impression that it wobbled on its centre: her.

"Ghosts?" she echoed, mouth growing slack while a light seemed to blaze deep in her eyes, the fires of her thoughts suddenly stoked high. She hadn't meant ghosts, no, she really hadn't. The notion that anything like death could be lingering around Anatole-

But he kept talking and her ivory skin gained a new pallor, a waxy unwell sheen as the implications of his words sank in and she thought, really thought.

Her mother had told many stories, more when she had been a young child than when she had grown older. Why was that? If she thought about it, she seemed to recall growing progressively more exasperated with her mother's childish romances. In her younger days, she had asked more questions and shown more interest and so she had heard more of her fanciful tales.

Drezda closed her eyes, pressing fingers to her brow as it wrinkled, the diplomat straining to remember. Ghosts had been a favourite of hers, a morbid fascination with them and the death that her mother had left behind, the death that linked the Hexxos with the ink on her skin. How long ago had it been since she had traced the dark lines on the skin of Ksjta's hands? Twenty years?

Dark eyes reopened, narrowed as she fixed on the boy's own tattoos and strained to remember. What was it? What had been niggling at her thoughts for so long? What had her subconscious been trying to tell her with its persistent thoughts about her mother and how she'd like her advice? Had she ever thought that the Incumbent's condition was magical or had she always suspected something supernatural?

"Yes... I think it might be ghosts I wanted to talk about. I hadn't realised it but... I think I have had a memory in my mind. Something from my childhood. My mother used to tell us things about her life before but it was so long ago. Who remembers things from that long ago if they haven't tried to remember them?" the young woman queried rhetorically, letting her hand drift from her brow down to the table. Her onyx eyes were distant, misted with nostalgia and half-remembrances.

"I have met a man- Well, no, not met. He is someone I have known for quite some time, professionally, an acquaintance. I cannot say that I ever knew him well but... well enough to know that he... isn't the same man. In fact, I've thought..." she paused, biting the inside of her cheek. Was she really going to reveal her suspicions about the Incumbent? Thoughts that occurred to her in her head were one thing but to voice them aloud... such fallacies.

Was she actually entertaining the notion that Anatole wasn't the same man because he was... actually a different one? A dead one?

"I've thought that perhaps he wasn't... the same man. He doesn't remember things, he doesn't have the same... interests-" pink crept into her cheeks as she thought about his lack of lust, how he failed to look at her or other women in the manner that he had before, "- and backlash... it didn't fit. I needed it to fit, I guess because I could handle it and knew how to do so. But a supernatural reason... that would leave me out of my depth and I could not face that."

The Hoxian placed her hands together, palm to palm, supplicating the heavens as onyx eyes flicked to the ceiling, seeking inspiration perhaps; Drezda didn't even know.

"If a ghost possesses someone... can they do it long term? Walk around in their body, keep their voice, their-" she stopped dead. She'd almost said field but Anatole didn't have a real one, did he? Shattered and wrong in a manner that she'd never encountered before. "Could a ghost possess someone for days, weeks... months? The soul within, the original one... it is gobbled up, isn't it? Hungry ghosts," she whispered. Her mother's words had come back to her. Childish words for a serious thing.

Gobbled up.

Her brows furrowed.

"How could you know for certain?"
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