Gifts for the dead

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Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Gifts for the dead
« on: July 17, 2018, 06:43:14 PM »

Georgi had asked for the honor. She was at her best in the company of the dead, even when their bodies were absent from the gathering. She felt the weight of their lingering. It was in the grief of the living. And the sharing of their memories. The lingering of the soul. Nothing so foul as demon dead, but simply, a presence.

Like air, without a breeze.

Baskets, she’d decided. Symbols for the bodies that were lost. Woven reeds so that they could be burned. And then she had thought: ships. And why not? A single ship for each warrior lost. An entire raider band. Heart breaking. But Georgi could not weave ships from reeds. So she had left the temple. Gabriel at her side, either one fine, as she descended the temple stairs and down into the city below.

There she had found a man who could make her ships from wood. And Georgi had gotten to chose which kind. He’d had all sorts, most native to Paon, some not. So she ordered ships, wood chosen by what felt right when she went down the names. They were ordered and made. Not all done yet, but the man worked quickly, and had hired on more help so that they would all be ready in time.

They trickled in, and then Georgi painted them. Her other hobby, when she was not floating paper ships in puddles or making a fool of herself. Canvas nearly the only thing she ever spent her marks on. Gabriel found it boring. The paint smelled. So Georgi had send him away to find something useful to do with himself rather than bother her.

She painted in an old well. Or so Georgi told herself it was. It was dry now, and its top open to the sky. Grass and wild flowers grew at the bottom, harboring mice and a flurry of insects. Gabriel swore it had been an oubliette and not a well, but Georgi did not believe him. What it was now was the perfect place to paint the ships. Open air, yet close to the crypts. The light just right, though only shortly before and shortly after noon.

There she was, Georgi, perched in a chair, painting a prayer on a wind gust, when he arrived. Eyes sweeping him up, and up, with surprise. Paints rattling as she half stood.

”Hand Vrai!” Remembering that one of the raiders had been his brother. Gabriel had told her. He’d brought his mother to the temple, Gabriel said. For comfort. Georgi had been amazed he had a mother. Or any family. He seemed a thing that just existed. Born from nothing and everything. Sprung right from Eulalie’s shadow. ”My heart, and prayers, are with your family.”

Vrai

    Summer-sky to Green
  • Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Shield & Whip Of Mother Priestess
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    78 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 08:38:58 PM »
Palm down he motioned for her not to rise. Sorry to have intruded on the serenity of her project. ”Please. Don’t let me interrupt.” His other hand was behind his back. Knuckles just above his tailbone. Fingers trying not to fidget. She was the picture of innocence. Wide eyes trailing up to his face. A tiny smudge of bright blue paint on her cheek. As if she had wiped a finger there absently.

”That is very good of you.” His own heart beat hollowly in his chest. The pain had lessened in the days following the news. Now it grew sharper again. Eyes roaming over her work. Soft appreciation in the corners of his mouth. A small ship for each man. ”This is all very good of you.”

Surely the Lady’s apprentice had more pressing work to attend. Not that he didn’t think his brother deserved some display. Some return for the years of loyalty he had shown in serving on the raids. This, though, so much care put into each ship. As if Lady Louise had known them personally.

To sooth his fraying edges Vrai enacted the same old ritual. A quick way to buy himself a minute to collect his thoughts. Or emotions. He took down his hair. Unwinding the knot he wore it in with nimble fingers. Then swept it up all over again. It had worked loose over the course of the day. Feeling it firmly fastened in place was a comforting habit.

When he’d finished he swallowed the chip of emotion in his throat. Looking around the space she had chosen. ”You’re alone. Where’s Gabriel gone to now?” Something would have to be done to see those two form a closer bond. With Eulalie it had been second nature, so he couldn’t think of any good advise. But he would ask around, there were older eunuchs with greater experience in such matters around.

Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2018, 09:28:59 PM »

She sat again, half risen, hands stilling rattling paint pots. Dropping herself back into her seat at his command. Half afraid she’d turn everything over if she finished standing anyway. Georgi tucked her chin and pulled a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Embarrassed by his looking.

”It seemed necessary.” Not done for praise. The praise itself making her uncomfortable. Georgi did not want it to be thought that she had done it for recognition of herself. Each ship for a man. None of whom she had ever met, unless it had been in passing with no recognition. ”Have I forgotten to expect you?” She asked when it did not seem the staring would stop.

It made her worried. Was Eulalie well? Her mother? Or even Gabriel? She could think of not reason for the left to be done here with her unless he was doing work for Eulalie. Had she missed a lesson? Loosing her paintbrush into a pot of water, Georgi folded her hands in her laps and waited. Watching as he unwound and rewound his hair. Long, and dark, it fell around his shoulders.

And then it was gone again. Almost as if it had never been.

”Ah.” Not the question she had expected. Georgi’s hand rose and fell. Shoulders following suit. ”To fetch lunch or more ships. Or maybe even both.” Something useful. It made her worry that they were both in some sort of trouble. ”I don’t mind being alone.” She assured him, hands curling together. Squeezing and letting go.

”I have finished your brother’s, if you wanted to see it.” She’d marked the name. Gabriel pointing it out. Etoile. Georgi remembered painting it and setting it to dry the day before. Carefully this time, she stood, and lead the way to the shelf full of ships. Finger gaining a splinter as she traced a shelf for the right ship. ”Here.” She tapped the shelf before sticking finger in her mouth.

Sunset colors. Bold, but a little melancholy.

Vrai

    Summer-sky to Green
  • Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Shield & Whip Of Mother Priestess
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    78 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2018, 10:41:23 PM »

Seemed necessary. That the thought had come from her mind, from her heart… Vrai pressed his tongue along the inside of his teeth. Not sure what to say. What the names or purposes for his mixed emotions were. Her question pulled him from the thoughts. ”No, no. I wasn’t really planning to stop in. It just happened.”

Feet leading the way before he’d realized where he was. Dismissed by his Lady for a few hours while she discussed celebration details with the Lady Chant. His room seemed to empty, and all the rest of the temple too full. And if he were being honest he was trying to avoid his sister’s questions and his mother’s sorrow. It had not been the consolation he had hoped for, having them here. Stiff and at arms length, she was not the soft lapped mother he had remembered. Which was fair, since Vrai was far removed from her little boy these days.

Though he was glad it seemed to comfort them, being in the temple. Mother grateful for the quiet places to pray. Away from his father who took the pain out in much louder, violent ways.

”Nothing wrong with a little time to yourself.” He said absently. Eyeing the jars of paint she had spread around her work space. Brushes with tidy brown bristles of various thickness. A ship half finished. The movement of her hand drawing his attention. Nervous fidgeting not dissimilar from his own. With a short smile he tried to take a reassuring tone. ”I was only asking.”

Not judging. That was never his role.

”Oh.” Yes. He wanted to. And was equally afraid. Brow meeting over his nose he watched her walk to them. The row of ships that were men who could not be brought home. Concerned with the lump it rose in his chest. A heavy knot of sorrow he had already swallowed down once. Stepping over as she ran a finger across the shelf. Air punctuated briefly with a prick of pain.

He watched her point him to the right ship. Prettily done. Strange to think that Lady Louise had not know Etoile. Barely knew Vrai. Yet in a few strong shades of paint had managed to capture all the feelings in his heart. ”Here.” He turned away from it. And the heat building along his eyelashes. Brickling sting of tears filling his nose. Holding his hand out for the lady’s instead. ”I can pinch it right out.”

Anything not to become a weeping fool here where anyone might see.

Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2018, 04:12:17 AM »

She nodded. One dip of her chin to show she understood. Georgi often just ended up places. That he came here, Georgi understood that too. Often she found the hollow eyed and broken hearted at the doorstep. Grieving wives, devastated mothers, they would wander here, not to visit Georgi, but to visit their dead.

”Mm. It does help sometimes.” Especially when she was trying to concentrate. Or not concentrate. Harder to do with someone lurking in her shadow. Judging her, or her work. Though just now she did not mind the living, breathing company. Even if she felt sure of judgment, whatever excuses he gave. ”Of course.” What things did he tell Eulalie? Nothing yet that had come back to Georgi.

Her expression matched his own. A backwards mirror. Georgi’s soft mouth pinching as she walked to the shelves. Was it the right thing? She wasn’t sure. Sometimes it helped, for them to see their dead one last time, privately. Sometimes... Georgi did not know how such weeping could help anyone. Worse yet was the brittle silence. Faces frozen she thought they might shatter if she breathed.

She had no body for Vrai. Only a ship; which he viewed without speaking. He did not cry. Or shatter. Merely looked, his expression one she could not read. Would Eulalie have known, had she been there, what went on behind the mask that was his face? Georgi thought it must be quite beautiful to know a person so well, startling as he turned. She pulled her finger from her mouth with a blush, the back of her hand pressed to her lips.

Almost protectively, her fingers curled inward. Not afraid of him, or any pain, but because what he asked for was damp with her spit. Wiping her mouth with her hand, Georgi dropped it and wiped her hand on her skirts, the other working it dry before she gave it up to him.

”Thank you.” Body steeled against pain. She had felt worse, she whispered to herself. Just a pinch. His hands were strangely calloused. From the whip, she realized. Eyes squeezing shut. Just a pinch and it was done. Hardly any pain at all. Mostly just gooseflesh rising over her body. ”Aha,” a soft exclamation, almost like a laugh, ”fingers still there.” Looking up, and up, at him, Georgi frowned, fingers catching his before he could let go in a moment of boldness.

”Are you alright, Hand Vrai?” A foolish question to put to a man who had lost his brother, but Georgi thought it needed asking.

Vrai

    Summer-sky to Green
  • Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Shield & Whip Of Mother Priestess
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    78 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2018, 11:50:31 AM »

Shades of yellow that deepened to burnished gold. Blending into the hues of pink, blue, and darkest purple that came with evening-time. In those colors he could hear his brother’s warm laughter. See the glint of his birthright Yellow. Feel the whip of a stick as they learned together how to protect what was theirs. Miel warm and soft between them when she wept the emotion and soreness of her first moontime away. His own flushed face when he showed bruised knuckles to Etoile, who had laughed and said it was not disgusting but the nature of man.

Vrai cleared his throat while he waited for Lady Louise to dry her finger. Trying to focus on that small task instead of the ship. Anything, really, but the ship. Shyly she held the digit out for his inspection. He came closer, holding it up to the light so he could see which way the sliver of wood had gone in. When he was ready to press it with his thumbnail he looked up to warn her. But she had crinkled her eyes shut in anticipation. So he said nothing, only raked his nail against the shallow splinter so that it slipped free.

”I could nibble it off if you prefer.” He tried to tease, giving her finger a wiggle. The words sounded strained and strange. Not gravelly, his voice had never fully deepened to reach those lowest notes. Puberty cut off in the middle. It was thick with emotion now, though. Emotion he tried to hide as she curled her fingers around his.

Tongue hesitating on the tips of his teeth he rushed to lie. Fine! He was fine. But mouth only trembled instead. Head nodding since his words would not cooperate. Free hand swiping at an escaped tear that made him turn away. Not fully, since she still clasped his hand, but halfway so he could try to find cool air. Face too warm as he went to war with his eyes again.

Not this time. It was one thing to be weak in front of Eulalie only. He would surely die of shame for Georgi to see he was not the strength and shield their Lady deserved. ”I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come in.” He apologized, breathless so that his words wouldn't become sobs.

Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2018, 12:20:10 PM »

Georgi cracked one eye open to look at him. Head cocked to the side and just a little back so that he wasn’t a blur along her nose. Lips twitching from grim determination to almost a smile. She shook her head, however, and denied the offer.

”I need it, I’m afraid.” Half tempted to feed it to him, though he meant his words only in play. A strange attempt to lighten the mood, hers or his own, Georgi didn’t know. But she didn’t take her finger back either. Too much emotion in his voice for her to fully withdraw. It worked its way onto his face where even Georgi could see it. The firm line of his mouth softening.

Grief spilling over from his eyes. It made her hold on all the tighter. This time she captured his fingers and clung. Eased his pawing hand away from his face so he could not harm himself. Swiping at a single tear as if it were a torrent. Recognized the lie in his nod. Yes. Of course. He was always so particular. It must have been very trying for his spirit.

”Hand Vrai,” she called softly. Georgi was kind, but firm. Allowed him no escape. No chance to turn away or escape her fingers. He had let her flee. It had been a kindness then. Georgi did not think it would be one for her to do the same. ”I think maybe it was necessary.” Like the ships and all the other things that happened down here.

Everyone wanted to forget. But there was a process. A wound that needed lancing to heal properly. She drew his hands down, soothed them between her own, as she had her Jewel. Only days ago. Happier times discussed then. Georgi wore no judgment. Felt none. Sympathy and concern the only things that dwelled in her.

”There is no weakness in tears. Or if grief.” She promised him softly. ”You use the whip to open the soul for healing against sins, do you not? Why will you not open yours to healing against this heart-pain?”

Vrai

    Summer-sky to Green
  • Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Shield & Whip Of Mother Priestess
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    78 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2018, 06:42:34 PM »

Strange and frustrating, the way his body would not cooperate. Vrai wanted to get away but his fingers embraced Lady Louise’s grasping hand instead. Even the one he needed to wipe his face with fell willingly when she bid it. Welcoming her fingers between his own with a shifting of knuckles to make room. His face would not behave either. Puckering like a child’s did when they were trying not to cry.

What could he do though? She was a priestess. The student of his Lady. It was his place to listen. She did not tell him to stay with words, but the tone of her voice when she said his name was the same thing. Legs heavy as iron he tried to stand tall. To keep from crumpling under the weight of things he didn’t want to feel.

Damn Etoile! How could he have been stupid enough to get caught? Leaving them all behind. He had been the rock at the center of their family. The reason they came together. A good, tolerant personality that helped them all see eye to eye. Or pretend at it for his sake. In losing his brother he had become awkward with his mother and sister, and lost his father too.

When Vrai had gone to him, ah, it hurt to think of it. The look in his eye, unmasked disgust. Telling him that men did not weep when their sons died brave and glorious deaths. Even when it was their only son. Because he wanted Vrai to know he did not count. Not anymore.

”Gah! Don’t look at me girl.” He fussed, trying to put his face to his shoulder since she had claimed his hands. Head shaking as she gave him permission to do what he couldn’t stop doing anyway. Tears hot as the liquid rock in Voulan’s core. ”It is not the same! The lash opens them and rips away the burden of their guilt.”

This! This was not that. Was it? He did feel guilty. For all the things he had not been for his father, and all the things he was failing to be for Eulalie now. Opening himself to sorrow, though, would only show how weak he was. ”I am the Left, Georgi. The Left so I can be strong when the Lady is not.” He was to have only those emotions that benefited his Lady! Not burdening her with his grief, making himself apart from Eulalie. That antagonized the sorrow in his heart tenfold.

But the tears were there. Georgette and not Eulalie to see them. He went down to his knees slowly. They felt hollow and heavy. Useless. He couldn’t outrun them anyway. The shame, his weakness, the girl, her ships, or the ghost of his brother- haunted by expectation not met. No sons left in his wake. Their father’s lineage dead now too. ”Everything is wrong.” He sobbed into her skirts.

Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2018, 07:55:20 PM »

”I won’t look.” Georgi promised, and averted her eyes. But she still didn’t let go. Certain on her course. Georgi breathed deep. Dug her heels in so he couldn’t pull her off balance. He was tall. And hadn’t let go either. ”No, it’s not the same.” She agreed, watching his feet shift on the ground. He’d not sinned. Mother bless him. Georgi brushed his knuckles with her thumbs.

”I know, Hand Vrai. First and Left, but Eulalie is not weak.” Georgi shook her arms to gain his attention. But still she did not look. ”Your sorrow isn’t her weakness either.” Georgi could not imagine weakness in either of them! Squeezed him tight, but was not ready! Looking and breaking her promise. Startled as he took to his knees. Georgi made soft noises, gave up his hands so he could have her skirts.

”Shhh.” She soothed, smoothing the expanse of his dark hair. He was heavy against her knees. Just tall and sturdy enough not to be toppled by him. But she felt him, all his pain wet against her skirts, darkening the fabric and making it damp against her skin. ”Let your tears be the lash, Hand Vrai.” She smoothed his hair back from his face. Drew her hand along the crown of his head.

”You cannot let your grief eat you from the inside out. Then you will risk being weak when our lady needs your strength.” The pad of her thumb made circles at his temple. The other continuing to smooth his hair back. Slow and methodic while he vented his feelings into her skirts. ”Let it out. Felt, and released. It will live easier in your afterward.” Mother bless him. Georgi crooned.

”I am very sorry.” Poor Hand Vrai. Georgi had no more words. Just soft hands and patience.

Vrai

    Summer-sky to Green
  • Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Shield & Whip Of Mother Priestess
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    78 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2018, 11:55:29 PM »

Why were her skirts so impossibly soft? The subtle scent of whatever they were washed in swarmed his senses. Vrai was nothing but the despair of loss, warm wet tears, and that hint of flowers. Words falling on ears that could barely make sense of them. Attention rising on the name he loved to hear best. Georgi was right. Eulalie was not weak. That was why she couldn’t see him now! She was strength and wisdom incarnate.

What would she say to this? Her shield broken on the floor in the skirts of an apprentice. Like the simpering male they had cut and trained out of him!

The more tears he cried the less it felt like agony and the more it felt like anger. With Etoile’s reckless nature, his father’s ignorance, and his own impossible self expectations. He liked what Georgi said. About his tears being the lash. Hands soothing in his hair the way he had hoped his mother would be.

But it was awkward too. There was something obscene in it, he was sure. Inappropriate at the very least. Finding what he’d needed in the women that had shaped his life here in an innocent young apprentice instead. Had he really thought her an unfit underling for Eulalie? Surely it was more evidence of Mother Priestess’s foresight.

Eulalie would know too, later when he told her, if it had been wrong. Weak. To spill those unwanted emotions in a young woman’s lap. Was he preying on her vulnerable nature? She seemed unshaken by his outburst. Speaking clever words that eased his guilt. Leaving his mouth working to respond but words wouldn’t come. Only a soft noise as he did as she suggested.

Let it out. Felt the tragedy of a good brother gone. Released it, and released himself from the blame of his father. They should have had another son, if they wanted a raider, a eunuch, and grandchildren. Miel would surely pass on mother’s name, and not father’s but that was not Vrai’s fault.

Sucking in deep breaths he let the settle in his stomach. Lowering on the floor until he sat on his haunches. Hands on Lady Louise’s calves while the last of his tears fell. ”I am sorry too. That was not your trouble to tend.” Would she tell? He slicked away the salt from his cheeks. Turning up to her with more of his steadying, rhythmic breathing. ”I appreciate your sympathy and understanding.”

Would she understand? Vrai took one of her hands. Thumb skimming her fingernails. Just because it was there, and she didn't flinch away when he reached for her. ”If it could be… between just the two of us. I would appreciate that as well.” He licked his lips. It was an unfair thing to do. Asking her to keep secrets from Gabriel. If he were in her place he couldn’t have agreed. There had never been secrets with Eulalie. But there were things she did not ask, so he did not tell. He hoped this could be one of those things with Lady Louise. ”It’s for the best, Georgi. My reputation is part of Eulalie’s image. This could all become very misconstrued in the retelling.”


[/quote]

Georgette Louise

    Summer-sky to Broken Opal
  • Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    The Broken Apprentice
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    32 Posts    0 marks
Re: Gifts for the dead
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2018, 06:07:36 AM »

She did her very best not to look. Only quick glances to make sure she did not get tangled in his hair or slip a finger in his ear. Nothing too familiar, nothing painful. Just soothing. Georgi had practice with it, with this. Though she never had anyone kneel at her feet and cry their heartbreak out into hers skirt. Her lap on occasion, but only if she had been sitting already.

Usually it was her shoulders that bore the burden. Or her arms. Struggling to support, sobbing, wretched mourners. Sometimes it was just her hands. The same quiet rhythm, the same offering of solace, as they clutched their dead and wailed. The cold ones Georgi never touched. Just a silent, compassion to the grief that shattered them.

She was glad Hand Vrai would not be one of those. Hot tears to cleanse his hurts. It was right, this way. He was still a brother, even if he was also the Left.

Slowly he quieted. Less desperation and despair in the shaking of his shoulders. Georgi’s petting slowed too, dwindling until her hand merely rested on his head. Then on nothing as he leaned away from her. Hands curling around the backs of her calves as he sat back on his heels. Georgi looked away, eyes focused on some point to her right.

”I tend many things for the dead, Hand Vrai.” Even their mourners. Especially their mourners. Her tongue darted out to lick her lips as he took her hand. Glad he’d let go of her leg. The sensation strange and unsettling. Georgi looked at their hands. She would not look at him, as he’d asked, but his hand was joined with hers. Thumb running across her nails. Georgi stopped breathing.

A secret. Georgi looked at him then, eyes wide in surprise. In his hand, her finger flexed. She would rather he’d grabbed her calves again than ask her to keep a secret. Twisting everything that had just happened into something... dirty. Georgi had had dozens of visitors in the crypt. Criers. Screamers. Ranters, even, who cursed the Darkness itself. And never once had she spoken of any of it.

”Of course, Hand Vrai.” Had she been wrong all this time? Had she been committing blasphemy instead of comfort? Georgi’s skin crawled. What had she done? Why would it be seen as anything other than it was? Shaken, Georgi slipped her fingers from his hand and stepped back. ”I would never do anything to harm our lady.” Not on purpose.

Had she done so on accident?

”I hope your soul is eased, Hand Vrai. I’m sorry, but I must change for lunch.” And pray. Terrified she needed to confess some depravity she hadn’t been aware of. So many memories of comfort stained now with suspicion. Linking her shaking hands together, Georgi fled him. Again.

 

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