Earn Your Stripes

Description: for cole

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    14 Posts    750 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2019, 08:19:53 PM »

Paros’ ears flattened, ass sinking to her heel bones. She didn’t know what she had done now to incite his anger. But he was scolding once more, as if she had made demands, or pinned him down again to force healing on him. Exhaustion weighing on her, she felt an ugly well of pettiness spring into existence within her. Tempting her to rip the web from his shoulder and leave him to suffer with infection.

Closing her eyes, Paros cut away such sinful thoughts. That was neither compassion nor understanding. It was vindictiveness against a man who already felt wronged by her. He had a right to it. But Paros had no kind words to meet his with, so she stayed silent. Eyes elsewhere while he decided. And elsewhere they remained while he undressed. Fighting his pants down until the ripped at his sutures.

She almost helped, hands flexing above her knees in a compulsive urge to soothe. Stayed by her will, which knew he accepted her help only grudgingly. Any more and he might refuse the most important of it. Work Paros went to immediately. Unbothered by his nudity. She kept her eyes trained on his wound and away anything else, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. It also helped to keep his spear from her line of sight.

”Yes.” Paros paused, thinking, a finger holding the web in place before she moved on. ”His chest sounds no clearer this morning, however.” Not that he’d let her press her ear against his back to hear properly. She unraveled a bandage for his thigh. ”Or this afternoon, I should say.” As she wrapped, she was careful to avoid touching him more than necessary. Especially wary of his spear.

”I couldn’t say. But I guess we’ll both know in the morning.” Her sleepless night weighed heavily on her. Especially when she thought about how it might all be wasted. While Carthage struggled to put his pants back on, Paros called in the food his father had sent up. The little case too. She laid them on the floor beside his make shift bed. ”Gondar sent this up. I’ll see what I have for your fever in my kit. The webs should kill the infection.” She hoped. Probably not if he was resistant and planning to shed them in his shifting. Paros offered a prayer for their continued attachment, whatever form he took.

Knees to the floor, she stood, stopping to stay low beneath the roof. Carthage had words of caution to offer than made her all the more tired. So that was why Mother Night had called her home. ”Then it’s not a cough at all.” Sighing, she started back down toward the house. ”Get some rest.” She urged, slipping on a wet spot. Claws flashing toward the tree to keep her steady, retracted before she could sink them into the wall of the house

Paros rode the slide down a few feet, landing on her ass with a bump. Tail bruised but otherwise whole. She would lie down for a while, and then they would go. The house would be more restive for the sick without their unwelcome presence dampening the air.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
  • warlord
  • Played By: Jones

    flight fighter
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2019, 01:19:11 AM »
Chewing at the inside of his cheek Carthage nodded. Nothing to say to good news. ”Hopefully he rested instead of running his mouth all night, Old fool.” Though is words were unkind the tone he spoke of his father in was ripe with affection. Despite their many, and oh did Carthage often lament the general amount, differences they loved one another dearly. Long before he had left the coalition, he had suffered the coven for the comforts they gave Gondar. Then when he could not bear it any longer, he bowed down and did it anyway until their escape was fully planned.

”Figured  it was that late.” He sighed, ”I doubt you have anything in your bag of tricks that could clear it any. He’s still got time. There’s no blood in the phlegm yet.” Carthage made no effort to blunt the concern in his voice or manner. Teeth grinding over one another as he thought. Being injured set his carefully planned schedule awry. Today was supposed to be for checking in with the Seneschals. They were the only Tigers he could speak to without fear of retribution or attack. Well. There was Saint, but Carthage was of a mind that their Walker was not so far removed from the Seneschals. Rumor said they were his lovers, and that he spent all his winters in their midst. Since he didn’t want any similar questions aimed his way he had never asked during their long, philosophical conversations.

Still. Neither son or father had been in touch with any Tiger people since they escaped the coalition. A few Seneschals had helped in that and he knew they would be happy for an update. So would he. There was a chance something new had been discovered about the plague in the months since. Leg raised slightly to make wrapping easier he tracked the progress of her binding rather than keep studying her face.

She was pretty in a very unconventional way. Which was something Carthage could appreciate, and might have if he were not still sore at their bad treatment the day before. Tongue playing on his bottom lip he ran his fingers over the bandage once it was in place. Those would not stay on if he shifted. In a grudging sort of cadence with his lips pursing as if he had been barely convinced to do her a great favor, he conceded. ”I suppose the Seneschals will still be there tomorrow.” More sleep would be nice anyway.

”Bless him for that lick of sense.” Carthage crooned, grinning at his cigarette case as he turned it around like a long lost friend. With a grunt he sat up to snap it open. Holding one up in silent offer to Paros. ”You better save what you have. This is going to pass.” He was young, mostly in good health. The infection was unlikely to really root in. Out in the queen’s cities there were truly sick people.

Shaking his head sadly he lit a cigarette. Ears pivoting happily at the first drag. Which was barely exhaled before he swallowed a slice of potato whole. When he had finished chewing he explained a little more. ”Started a few years ago. Few months of cough, sometimes the phlegm gets bloody… then a fever for a few days before they die. A wasting disease, no one knows how to stop it though. So if you got something in that kit that could stave it off, or make them comfortable- save it for them. I’ll be fine.” Consumed by the food and tobacco he nodded at her further instruction. Tucking strips of grilled meat into his mouth. Which was still full when he slid to the edge of his platform to watch Paros tumble down to the window. A Tiger Eye shield flung up at the very tend to keep her from falling right off the side of the house. He rolled his eyes with a snort. He had told her it was a bad idea to go down in the rain. Once he had finished he went back to sleep.

And stayed that way through a rumbling storm. Ground turned to an extension of the river as something between son and father’s predictions came true. More than a foot, less than five. No one went down to find out. The sun set, and the sky quieted. All the world still when Carthage woke up feeling better. He crept down to the house where everything was dark and silent. Shields to dull the sound of his prowling across the floor, he went to the sick to fill his waterskien. Nearly back out the door when his father sat up with groan. ”Da?”

”S’fine.” He insisted, even after Carthge came over to pass a hand on his clammy skin.

Eyeing one another bleakly Carthage went back to the sink. Collecting a bowl of water and towel he came back to sit on the end of the cot. ”Just a night sweat. You’ll feel better with a cool rag on your neck. Lay back down.” Dipping and ringing it out he set a spell to chill the wet fabric. Neck. forehead, neck again. He dipped and cooled and laid the towel out until his father was sleeping soundly again. Craft cleared the mess to the sink before he went back to the window. Spotting a pair of bright spots in the dark. ”I’m going to the temple. You can come. They cannot.” Because he didn’t want to bring them. Not because they would be unwelcome. Carthage was pretty sure Gobatwyn had never met a person she didn’t like.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2019, 05:05:53 AM »

Paros waved the cigarette away with a shake of her head. ”No thank you.” They had taken enough. Food from the larder, though they had replaced it with some of their dry stores, space, time. She wouldn’t give him one more thing to be bitter about. Another blame to lay on her. She didn’t much care for tobacco anyway. It always left a bad taste in her mouth.

”Very well.” She would not argue with him. Not to convince him to take a brew for his ills or that two different sicknesses required two different treatments. Paros did not have the energy for bickering. Instead she listened to his explanation of the cough, eyes drawn to to the place she was meant to be going. She could feel it like a secondary pulse.

Here. Here. Here. Thump. Thump. Thump.

His words were worrying. Heart heavy and body drained, Paros begged him to rest and left him alone. His company did not soothe her, and she doubted hers made him feel any better. Took the path in the rain though he’d warned against it. This was a pettiness Paros could allow herself to have. She did not fall, for all she slipped. Bumping against a shield at the end of the path before climbing into the window, hands already waiting to help her in.

A warm body at her back to help her rest. The storm woke her, and Paros watched as their chance for escape was washed away by the rising river. She was not a strong swimmer, and too short to wade through such depths. ”It will go down?” It had to go down. Or they were going to need a boat. Paros wondered if any of them knew how to make one. The question put quietly to her companions as they sorted through their things, rations shared with Gondor so they could feel less guilty for their time there.

She was forced back to bed eventually. Trapped between two bodies so she had no choice but to be warm and comforted. One ear trained on the old man even as she slept, Paros heard him groan in his sleep. Felt vibrations through the floorboards she slept on. Carefully she sat up, both ears straining, eyes catching the little light in the room. Carthage. Slowly pulling her legs from under the blankets they shared, Paros waited.

His own eyes finding her in the dark. To her left, her friend rolled, eyes opening in question. ”Okay.” A tangling of fingers and silent communication. Paros stood, carefully stepping over legs to collect her cloak from a hook. Kit checked and packed away again. She paused to slide a hand over Gondor’s forehead, checking for heat, ears turning their full attention to him. It made her skin prickle.

Outside the world was wet. Roots and grass replaced by a silver surface. Too agitated to be mirror. It swirled and flowed. Moving toward some place. Around trees and over rocks. Paros pulled her hood up, turning her face and probes to Carthage. ”Do we swim, or is there a boat?” Which way to the temple? Was it there? Ear turning toward the summons. Here. Here. Here. Paros worried she would be too late for everyone.

She did not know what would happen if she failed. She had never failed the Darkness before.

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
  • warlord
  • Played By: Jones

    flight fighter
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2019, 01:38:45 PM »
There was hesitation in her answer. A moment of indecisiveness she shared with her people. Felt more than seen or heard. Not knowing better Carthage assumed it was talk along a thread. He hovered with one foot on the window sill, which was fine for leaving through if he would go alone. Why the idea to invite her popped into his head he couldn’t say. It felt like the right thing to do, so he did. Laying down his ultimatum for impractical reasons though there were sensible ones to back it up.

When she agreed he left the window. Busying himself with a crate that was tucked carefully into a corner of the house where it was always shady and cool. Slipping a few squares of parchment into his cabinet he collected a clean pair of clothes and a few wax candles. Everything vanished while he listened to Paros breath over her father. The old man breathed back, heavily asleep, and Carthage recognized the rasp of a cough about to rise. He moved to cast a shield between them but the Craft was waylaid by a nervous probe from one of her friends. Gondar coughed and Carthage was not sure if he had covered her in time.

Motioning to the door he let her walk out first. Inhaling the humid air with as if it could tell him secrets. He flexed his wounded shoulder to test the motion. There was pulling but not pain. As long as he flew easy it would be fine. They moved down to the lowest platform that was not underwater. Sucking his cheeks hollow Carthage started to unbutton his pants. ”Wouldn’t trust that current with either,” He pointed out, tipping his head at a spiraling river through the water that lead the flooding back towards the actual river. Hard to tell one from the other unless you knew how to read the small signs across the surface. Puckers and rivulets that hinted at stronger flows.

”How do you feel about heights? Easiest if I just fly us. It’s safe, I’ve had passengers before, flown Da all over the territory.” Pants left up but open so that the thick curls over his pelvic bushed out Carthage pinched his nose in a nervous gesture. Waiting for her reaction before he laid out the ground rules of being a polite passenger. If his claims to have ridden others were not convincing, his instructions were recited with an evidence practice that proved he was not knew to the act. ”Remember, I can’t do psychic threads, I can feel them but I can’t answer. So good for getting my attention, not a way to actually talk. Bird head or not, I can understand Common just fine, and shake my head yes or no. While we’re flying, stay low between my shoulder blades. Shields to block the wind need to be shaped like bubbles over you or they’ll shove you right off my back. You can grip my feathers as long as they’re bigger than  your hand, just try not to rip any out. Knees go under my wings right up into my ribs. I’ll bump them a little but I promise you won’t fall off. You won’t hurt me squeezing, so just hang on tight. And before you hop on, you should know, once we’re there it’s going to be a few hours before I can change back to take us home. We’ll be there until really late.”

He carefully unwound the bandage on his shoulder, and dropped his pants low enough to unwind that one too before he added, ”Close your eyes while I shift. It’s weird to watch.” Or weird to be watched. Same difference. The only person that had ever seen him do it face to face was his father. Who had not enjoyed the sight at all. Or so he had complained after being ill. What it looked like Carthage couldn’t say. He just knew it was a pain like melting all his bones at once.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    14 Posts    750 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2019, 08:08:06 PM »

She thought, at first, that swimming would be his answer. Hands busy unbutton his pants before he had spoken a single word. Paros tucked a grimace away and eyed the water warily. She floated better than she swam. Less fond of the water than some. Especially water that moved like that. The promise of danger in its depths and choppy surface.

Carthage had other plans, however. Her dark eyebrows rose, eyes pale in the dark, reflecting what little light there was available. Paros looked from the water to the dark scar the bisected his torso. She had noticed the day before the strange shape of his navel. Too busy trying to heal his fleeing body before to notice it. Now she found herself wondering again, what had caused it. And how he was still alive if he was so resistant to healing craft.

"You're not joking?" She asked, eyes traveling up from the curls parting his pants. He was not joking. A litany of rules to follow, recited as if he'd memorized them by rote from a book. Paros stared. Hand help up so she could judge its size. Fingers flexing wide until her palm was flat, and then curling close again. Dark bands across the back of her hand and down her fingers. Several rings on the smallest.

Chin to her shoulder, Paros looked back the way they had come. Friends waiting above, curling against each other and filling the space she had left. Her lip smacked against her teeth as she sucked it. "Okay." They would be fine. None of them children that needed tending. Not even Paros. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she turned away to give Carthage privacy, back stiff as she heard what she could not see.

A body reshaping itself. Flesh. Bones. Muscle. It made her feel nauseous to hear but Paros also had to fight not to turn around and see. Did one body fall away for another? Or did it really change itself so thoroughly? Back stiff, she kept her head down, watching her hands as they worked up the edges of her cloak and down again. Fingers plucking at jewelry and circling rings as she waited. Will hard tested, but she did not look until he was done. The clocking of his beak promising her it was okay.

"I have to say, this is the most unconventional way I've ever ridden a man." But he wasn't really a man, was he? Not in this shape. Just an anomaly. Paros didn't even have a name for what he was. Hesitating at his side, she tried to figure out the best way to get on. His back nearly as tall as she was. Carthage had that figured out as well, stepping farther down the rungs until the water lapped up his body.

"I see." She was sodden by the time she pulled herself onto his back, but she didn't have to pull any feathers or fur to manage it. She tucked her knees as he'd instructed, the texture of feather giving way to fur caught beneath her thighs. Carefully she found a double handful of feathers to grip. Big ones, with thick shifts that didn't bend when she squeezed. Wrapping herself in a shield, Paros leaned down, face to the side of his neck. Not sure if it was terror or exhilaration making her heart pound.

She thank the Darkness for keeping her scream internal when he launched himself skyward. Body in motion beneath her own. Paros was helpless to do anything but hold on for dear life. Arms sliding around his neck as she buried her face in his feathers, unable to watch the world fall away. It was not a smooth ascent. Wings beating as he gained altitude in dips and rises. Not until they were at height and gliding did she open her eyes, peeking through his feathers at the world below.

It was beautiful. And very far away. Giving a little shudder, Paros pressed her face between her arm and his neck and pretended not to know just how high she was. Squeezing all the tighter when it came time to land. Legs circling his body, sure she was going to be dumped from his back to fall to her death. All she really did was tumbled from his back to the ground. Air leaving her in a rush as she dug her fingers into the soil beneath her.

"That was..." She gasped. Air in. Ground below. Right below where it belonged. "An experience."

Carthage

    Tiger Eye to Summer-sky
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  • Played By: Jones

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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2019, 02:21:31 PM »

Shifting his weight Carthage let his hands drop from his waistband. Face still tilted down so he could pretend he was watching the water instead of watching her eyes linger at his stomach. After a decade with the scar he didn’t mind the looking anymore. Least of all from healers’ eyes since they had less prying reasons to be curious than most. But he was a man; so he couldn’t help wondering just a little if she was looking there to pretend she wasn’t looking elsewhere. Mouth twitching up in one corner at the incredulous question he met her eyes. ”Because I’m just the epitome of comedic genius?” He asked her dryly, ”It’s faster than swimming, and won’t wash the webs off.” Less risk to his wounds that way too, no reason to reinfect them after her webs had snuffed it out.

When she didn’t balk from the very idea he told her how to make the ride easier for them both. Aware but unconcerned by how much like a lecture it sounded. To him, it was no different from the demanding way she ordered people to take brews or wear webs. After some thought, and a few thoughtful glances back to the house, Paros agreed. Turning her back to his moment of misery. It was quite akin to setting himself on fire from the inside out. More painful even than actually dying. In his years as Doleri Carthage had picked at the knowledge repeatedly. Pressed on him like a scar against his soul he simply knew the way. No matter how thoroughly or how many times he explained the actual process, no one else could bend their body to the Craft. Some felt a sliver of the pain before giving up, but most did not even achieve that. He had tried to shove the knowledge on another psyche similarly to the way it had been done to him, which always failed too. Something in their lifeforce rejected the knowing.

Good thing, he thought now as his arms turned to wings. Tigrelan would have destroyed itself a thousand times faster if his younger self had managed to share the griffon form. Extra legs. A thickening and lengthening of his tail. Lithe body turning to a svelte powerhouse. Speed making the pain seem lesser since it passed faster. Afterwards he panted lightly while the residual aches in his limbs passed. The stitches at his shoulder pulled tight as he moved. All the boards under his feet groaning at the weight. Tongue clicking a soft note he started down the planks. Large golden eye tracing Paros with suspicion. Would they spring a trap now that he was wearing his valuable skin?

Turning back pointedly he looked over his shoulder at her. Amusement was hard to express. Laughter entirely internal. He tucked his head under a wing with quick warbles that might have been chuckling but it was hard to tell. A dozen sly comments filling his head. There was a long flight ahead before he could say any of them. It gave her a moment to reach towards his back. Face working in nervous energy as she tried to decide how to clamber on. He saved her the effort by climbing down to the ground. Making it easier for her to climb on his back. Being larger made him realize just how short she actually was with another burst of amusement that whistled out of his nose.

She was on by then. And he had already decided to show her just how fun of an unconventional ride flying could be. Once he could feel her leaning in against his neck feathers Charthage crouched low for momentum. Strong back legs shooting them skyward he spread his wings. There was no air to catch here beneath the trees so he had to make his own. A sliver of Tiger Eye Craft making both of their bodies lighter, and back paws shoving off of a thick branch to get them higher. As the burst up over the treetops he beat his wings to bring them higher still. Air currents winding under his flight feathers and making less work of keeping them airborne.

On his back she was tense. Hands around his throat and hot breath creeping through his feathers. She stayed that way until he was on a stable current of wind. A river in the sky that was invisible but strong. The webs held on his wounds despite occasionally catching a slip of air. Calling to her a trill note he set his wings low so that they were easy to see over. Tigrelan was most beautiful from above. When you were removed from the things that made it ugly. The people, mostly. A small hawk battled Carthage’s shadow for half the flight. Far beneath them it dipped and twirled trying to intimidate him out of its territory. Green from one end to the other the forests bled seamlessly into the coastal plains. In the very center of the territory was a cultivated area of fields. Almost heart shaped, it was a rich green-gray while the poppies slept for winter. Rivers surrounded the strip of land the Seneschals claimed for their own. Temples dotted the area, tall, as the queen cities were tall. Stonework pyramids that reached for the sky. From the ground it was several days of travel. In the air it was a shorter trip. Sun up but morning still young.

The sutures on his shoulder had popped open under pressure of climbing to altitude. Carthage only noticed once he was a man again, back on the ground. Spiraling slowly to manage their descent he chose a spot. Their landing turned inelegant as two small boys shot by at the very last second, forcing him to stop short or run them over. Paros rolled right over his back and down a wing. Tucking them tight with a disapproving cluck he shook a young kit from his beak. ”Papa. You’re here.” They teased in singsong voices. Attacking him from every side. The beak clutcher fell off in a fit of laughter while his mirror tried to scale his back by climbing his tail like a rope. Spinning around Carthage dumped them both on the ground, good wing sweeping them head over heels into a pile. So he could turn his rump around and sit on them until their parent came out of her cottage. A frying pan in one hand and sharp smile on her lips the queen of priests waved. ”Thage, you’re crushing them! Boys, you get back in here and finish this breakfast before he eats you.”

Wiggling their way out from under him the twins laughed their way into the house. Hands rinsed in the sink and pan left to cool on the stove Gobatwyn came out again. Clicking his tongue soothingly he nudged Paros towards the cottage with his beak so he could slip off into the bushes to shift again. He took his time after, rewrapping the webs so that no sticky child fingers dirtied them worse.

”Seneschal Gobatwyn,” Goby told the newcomer, holding out her hand for a shake. She tried to read the priestess. Hips shifting as her legs fell into one stance then another. All the sides to herself figuring out what best suited these interactions. ”And here I thought I knew ever priest and priestess in Tigerlan.”

”Well then, you’ll get along right well with this know-it-all.” Carthage offered, stumbling out of the thicket as he shrugged a shirt over his head. Ears popping free they laid flat, wiggling as he leaned in to let the Seneschal peck his cheek. Soothed by her nearness he finished the introductions with an quick explanation. ”Paros' been out of the territory a long time. Figured this was the place for her to hear everything we know about the cough.”

Head tipping up in understanding Goby nodded at the man, who lowered his head under her sympathy. Turning it to the woman instead she ruffled the hair on her half shaved head. "Not sure what I can tell her that you dont' already know, Thage. Always nice to meet a clever woman, though." She smiled warmly for a moment, the ends of her lips tipping down into a frown when the hand she settled on Carthage's shoulder made him wince. ”There’s not much new to hear, I’m afraid. How’s Gondar hanging in there? And what the hell have you done to your damn self now?”

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

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Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2019, 02:53:48 PM »

Children. Two of them. They darted in under his shadow and began clamoring up his body. Elbows levering her upward, Paros watched, hood knock askew and body throbbing from the fall. Her tail twice insulted considering the night before. Paros didn't mind, watching the children scamper fearlessly around Carthage. Papa, one called him. His then. She wondered why he kept so far apart. His father perhaps?

The family wrestled. Paros rolled herself over and climbed back to her feet. Standing felt strange. Muscles aching from the unaccustomed mode of travel, and all the clinging she had done. Elbows sore and thighs trembling. She shook out her skirts and untangled the riot of necklaces hanging from her throat. Hood pulled back up over her ears. Back to the happy reunion so she could not be accused of interfering. A new voice cutting through the mayhem.

Paros turned slowly. Carthage closer than she'd expected, beak brushing against her, knocking her toward the house and its occupants. She could only assume his beak clicking and churring was meant as orders. Go here. Do this. Tucked a frustrated smirk away and let the Darkness take her negative thinking. Hands pressed together and shoulder withdrawn from his touch. She felt stiff and not herself upon approach, nails biting into her skin before she reacted properly and held her hand out for greeting.

"Paros. It's an honor, Seneschal." How long had it been since she'd faced true duality? There were others, similar, in other places, but none of them truly the same as those of Tigrelan. Fully embracing what made them most balanced. And this one had traces of queen in his touch. Carthage returning from the trees to speak for her, beginning with slights. No defense rose to her lips. Her smile was passive, body relaxing as the two shared intimacy in greeting.

She understood the comfort of touch. Wished for her own companions to take hold of. A friend in a place that made her full of longing. Temple, he had told her, but it was not to a temple he had taken her. This was a home. Housing a priest, but still a home. And not the place the Darkness called from. Paros' eyes slid eastward. No, farther south, but her body would have to turn to follow the calling.

"I've never claimed cleverness, either." Lips stretching her smile wider in appreciation for the compliment, even if her words referenced a conversation Gobatwyn had not been privy too. Turning, she looked for the webs. Invisible beneath his clothing if they were still attached. Probes sweeping the places they had sutured closed, but she could tell little. Found herself at loss for words, patience weighing on her. A strange sense of homesickness in a place that should have cured it.

Gobatwyn

    Summer-sky to Blood Opal
  • Queen Priest
  • Played By: Jones

    duality
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    3 Posts    243 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2019, 07:59:58 PM »
”Lovely,” Goby answered, thumb slipping over the priestess’ knuckles while his eyes did the same to the rest of her. Making it hard to tell if he intended the compliment for the name, or the woman as a whole. He did not elaborate either, thinking the intention clear. Besides it was hard to have a conversation while you were busily binding boys to their seats. Sons were hard on the patience, it was a very good thing they were equally loving.

An easy smile crossed his lips for Carthage. One eyebrow arching up as he listened to the kit’s complaints. Always complaints with that one. Clapping his hands to distract them all he hemmed around the hard points of conversation the hunter tried to force and complimented the lady instead. ”Well, I didn’t know there wasn’t more to know until I got here, did I?”

”No, you’re right. That’s no excuse for taking that tone.” There was no challenge in the words. Only gentle touches on his elbow. The Craft a queen reading and easing the circle they stood in. So much tension it made him curious. Very curious. But he knew Carthage was a prickly one and had to assume there in hid the problem. A pat on the shoulder only caused more questions though.

Sighing Carthage rubbed the heels of his hands over his cheekbones. Which were scratched on one side, Goby noted with a frown. ”He’s himself but with a cough. Sends his love and well wishes or whatever. I didn’t do anything to myself. There might have been enough time for the hunters to regret their choice in target, though”

”I see.” He did. Mouth twisting up in a wry smile. Carthage was not going to tell him more than that. Too much nervous energy in his body. He made a good show of hiding it with cynicism and snark but Goby knew better. Could feel the truth just behind barriers that were never fully closed to the Queen in his castes. There was a lot of energy in Paros too. Seeping into the ground that Goby read the way others read the sky for the weather.

Rubbing his chin Goby looked back towards the house. ”There are pancakes, if you’re hungry Carthage. The boys will be glad for company.” He watched Carthage debate leaving them. Eyes shifting from one to the other as he weighed some unknown risks and benefits. ”Scared I’ll tell your new girlfriend all your dirty little secrets?” He teased. ”Don’t worry, I’ll let her figure out you’re a shit all on her own. Go ahead and eat breakfast, we’re going to pick guava and plums on the path to the temple. You can catch up to us later if you like.”

”She is not my girlfriend.” Carthage said in the same way Acacius and Achilles did when he teased them about the Seneschals’ daughters at temple. Chuckling Goby poked him in the ribs. Pale eyebrows dancing on his forehead. ”Ooooh no? Good. She’s too clever for you. Even if she doesn’t claim it.”

Carthage rolled his eyes and passed between Goby and Paros on his way to the cottage. Smile wicked he turned to them with laughter in his eyes. ”Mind yourself Paros or I won’t be the most unconventional ride you get today.” Unperturbed Gobatwyn laughed at his retreating backside. ”Mind your mouth in the house with my sons you foul creature.”

Shaking the his hair out Goby ran fingers through the short length. Half his head exposed to the scalp, the rest tumbling in brief waves across one eye and an ear. ”So, a Tiger traveler. How fascinating. Would you like to come to temple with me? It’s not very far." He promised, gesturing towards the treeline. If one was keen eyed they could see the dark crest of moss covered stonework above the leafy crown of aspens. Offering his arm with a flash of teeth he tempted further, "And I stole a few of those pancakes into my cabinet if you’re hungry.”

Down the hill Goby guided them through a tunnel of trees. The path turned to wooden boards as they went along. The land was not yet flooded but the ground was always wet in this fertile stretch between the many rivers of Tigrelan. "How has your time back home been so far? I don't imagine much has changed over the years."

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    14 Posts    750 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2019, 08:58:03 AM »

They were an interesting pair to watch. And watch she did. Paros took little part in the conversation, palm cupping the same knuckles the seneschal had caressed. Invitation recognized when it was offered. The way Carthage and Gobatwyn interacted making her wonder if it was a safe offer to accept. Carthage especially seemed hesitant to leave them alone.

The priest queen noticed as well. Teasing where Paros would have stonewalled. Turning her eyes to Carthage, she raised a brow in question. Playing into Gobatwyn's teasing. What was he worried about happening between them without his presence? Paros suspected he thought he capable of atrocities against the queen priest. Smile small at the banter, she swayed away as he moved between them, filling the space left by his body once it was gone.

"I'm not afraid." She offered in response to his teasing. Paros was certain it would be a far more pleasant ride than the flight there. Left alone, the air was cleaner. Paros was free of Carthage's judgment. Able to be herself without being offensive, head ducking as she smiled at Gobatwyn. Hood folded down behind her neck. "I would thank you."

A temple. A Tiger temple. Paros never had been inside a proper one. Her birthright had been a simple affair, and she had left before her Offering. But her life had been unconventional by all Tiger standards. From conception to now, and probably until her death. "I think there may be more of us than it is thought." Tigers in the greater world. Mingling with the Blood they had so little to do with in their homeland.

Paros linked her arm with Gobatwyn's and allowed them to lead the way into the trees. Path turning to woodwork as they went. Shifting light making the priest queen's ears and tail glow. "I will skip the pancakes, if it gives no offense. And take the guava, if there are any." Fruits to pluck fresh from the trees and eat on the walk. Paros looked forward to it. And the temple proper. Its stone caught in glimpses through the trees. Moss covered and slick so that it blended in.

"It has been unpleasant. But I expected no more than that." Not an ounce of surprise or remorse. Paros did not complain to whine. She did not complain at all. She had known she was returning to violence and bloodshed. The cough was the only surprise, and it was far from a good one. "We are what we are. And our people have been lead down a path of violence until it is the veins their blood travels." Hand sweeping up the path they took, as if all were one and the same.

"This cough worries me. Carthage says they die, once a fever sets in. All of them?" She looked up at Gobatwyn. Nearly as tall as Carthage. But so very different. Not just in coloring or looks, but in the feel. Welcome to the very bones. This was home. In a seneschal.

Gobatwyn

    Summer-sky to Blood Opal
  • Queen Priest
  • Played By: Jones

    duality
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    3 Posts    243 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2019, 01:27:28 AM »
A thumb finding its way into his pocket Goby took slow steps. Thinking while he walked, walking while he thought. Both ears tilted towards Paros who was the center of all that focus. Words as curious as her person. Which fascinated the priestly queen quite a bit all on its own. Shorn head, tufted ears, skin marked in unexpected permanence. What did one do when the dream changed if their art was permanent? Like most things in his life it was hard for Goby to imagine such decisiveness. ”Do you? Is that a bit of guesswork or an educated estimation? I mean, there’s little to stop a person once they’re passed the coalition lines.”

Still. It was a very interesting thought. People of their own out there with experience among the broader world. In the very center of his heart Goby knew that change was coming to Tigrelan. It had to or else they would die. The skill to deal with outsiders would be invaluable in the near future. Carthage must have felt the same way, to bring this woman that made his soul bristle. He had never brought anyone to meet Goby. Not once. Never even, in so far as he knew, sent anyone in the temple’s direction.

Arms warm skin to warm skin they took the hill at a leisurely pace. From grass to underbrush to creaking bridges. The air was humid and almost dank under the treetops. Which filtered the sunshine until everything was warm gold and palest green. A shaft of light caught the points of Goby’s teeth when he chuckled warmly, ”No, no offense, though you may be sorry. They’re quite delightful.” Blue eyes searching for a sliver of sky through the trees above he smiled more broadly, ”Not sure I could stomach anything that solid after flying in on the griffon’s back, myself. There’s a grove just a little farther ahead.” He promised, eyebrows lifted as his face turned in the appropriate direction.

Only a tiny detour along the straight path. A detour that Goby was happy to take. More time with this new friend out in the open. Were two people could be comfortable. Talk serious. Goby quiet. Listening with nods of understanding. The temple was a treasure, one that he was eager to share, but the Darkness lay heavy in its depths. Quieting unnecessary words so that souls could communicate instead. Here he could listen to Paros speak honestly about the people she returned to. As they walked towards the grove the air sweetened. Birds chatting through the trees in high whistles and long calls. ”Ah so ripe you can almost taste them in the air.” He praised. A dollop of queenly craft infusing with the trees that grew there.

Reaching on tip toe to catch a branch laden with the green fruit he pointed at the tree. ”You see this tree beside the guava? It is a kopak tree. While it might tower over this forest someday, it will never bear any fruit. In fact it will not produce anything other than wood. If the saplings of this guava tree root to close, the kopak will strangle it rather than share resources. The guava will keep spilling seeds anyway. One day, one of them will land in the right spot. It will grow strong, slowing the growth of kopak’s saplings. Sweet fruit will fill it’s branches. Then it will spill its own seeds. Over and over until there is a big patch of guava trees right here in this jungle. Despite all the kopaks, which will be shorter in this place where fruit flourishes.”

Plucking a few down he handed one to Paros with a grin. ”We are violent, because we are what we are. The present is only so malleable but the future- the future can be very sweet if we work for it.” Eyebrows wiggling he split his own fruit down the center. Pink flesh spilling fragrant juice that he sucked from his wrists. They had other serious matters to discuss. Fruit brought along to be sucked at between words. ”The cough should worry everyone. We’re already a dying bunch of kopaks.”

Looking down at Paros he tried to be less morose. ”Nearly all of them. I don’t want to give him any false hope. He’s been through enough. No one knows why but coalitions seem to be more at risk. The way they live I suppose? Sharing sleeping spaces. Entire groups have died off in a matter of months. There’s not enough healers, or communication between covens even with seneschals rushing around. So I can’t give reliable numbers on a survival rate. It’s very low, I believe. I try to stay abreast of the situation without getting to close. I have the boys to think of.”

”Here we are.” He said softly, finger pointing just ahead where the trees broke around a thin clearing. Practically climbing up the side of a great stone pyramid. A fine layer of moss covered everything. Statues, engravings, doorways. It was a building so old even the ancient texts spoke of it with historic reverence. You could feel the glory of Mother Night radiating out around it in the forest. A feeling that Goby closed his eyes and inhaled. ”Come inside. We can speak on it more. Or I can try to answer your questions as best I know.” Hand finding the small of her back Goby ushered them forward. Leaving plenty of time for Paros to look around the outside before they stole into the surprisingly dry interior. Cool shadows wrapping them in greeting. A long dim hallway opening up to the alter at the building's center. They were alone at such an early hour. Candles burned down to stubs on the dais. Goby went about replacing them one by one. Lighting their wicks as he vanished the old. Fitting the tall, black wax sticks into the holders with intimate care from one end to the other.

Blissfully oblivious to the squeals of laughter that punctuated the food fight taking place over his little cottage's kitchen table.

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    14 Posts    750 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2019, 07:23:30 AM »

Paros laughed, face ducking toward her shoulder as they walked. "A bit of both, if I'm honest." She wasn't always. Honesty was not always kindness, and some secrets were meant to be kept. "I have met very few personally. Maybe two, in all my wanderings." She had to think about the number, eyes far away as she looked through her memories. "One had never been to Tigrelan at all. Born across our borders. It makes me suspect there must be more. Mostly living in hiding."

She had seen people just as different as their own. The twinning tree branches made her think of the antlered cervini. Did they have a place they all came from too, Paros wondered. Her other arm crossed her body, its weight pleasant against her stomach, hand covering the arm she held. Thumb tracing a section of one of Gobatwyn's stripes.

"I thank you for your understanding." Laugh strained as she rolled her eyes at the priest queen. She was not looking forward to the ride back. But she would do it. Her companions were waiting for her, and Paros felt half adrift without them. "Is that what its called then. A griffon. I've never heard of one." Much less seen such a sight with her own eyes. Paros was still half disbelieving, and she'd touched him with her very hands.

Gobatwyn lead her into a grove. Air heavy with fragrance. Closing her eyes, Paros let go of her new friend and breathed it in. Saliva pooling on her tongue and between her teeth. Swallowing, she laughed. "No where else have I ever." Eager to accept the offering as he pulled a branch down so the fruit could be plucked. It hung from the trees in pairs, which Paros found endearing. "Mates, or siblings?" She wondered. Though perhaps with trees, it was all one in the same.

Before sharing the fruit of his groves with her, Gobatwyn shared some wisdom. At his side, Paros studied the kopak tree, hand resting on the queen's hip. It was to think of their people as a tall, strong tree that strangled everything around it. Even beautiful things that bore fruit to nourish bodies. Taking the prize, she returned the smile as well. "I know it is possible. Achieving it... I do not know how to change a whole territory." A whole race. Small knife plucked from her belt, Paros cut the fruit open and bit out its sweet flesh, chin wiped on her wrist, even as Gobatwyn sucked juice from her own.

"We are not the only people brimming with violence. All Blood is potent and dangerous. We seem to be the only one murdering each other in droves." Was it their nature? More beast than man? Paros couldn't say. It had been too long since she had lived among her own kind. All she had were the stories and memories from her childhood. For now she would worry about the cough. Be a healer before a priestess for the moment. Both so entwined she forgot they were separate at times.

"Two of them. You are very blessed." Paros frowned. Whole groups? It was worse than she had feared. Sympathy welled in her heart for Carthage. He and his father seemed very close. "It is a risk to the seneschals as well then, if they are traveling among the sick." Tigrelan would be lost without those who went between. Seneschals were their balance. The scales that kept the territory in harmony. It made her slip her fingers between Gobatwyn's, as if she could hold all seneschals safely there in her hand.

Ahead of them the temple appeared between the trees. The thinned and broke around its stone base. Shrinking to grow up its stone walls. Saplings peeking through mortar. Moss covering nearly every inch of it. It rose in steps, upward into the sky, nearly taller than the trees around it. "It's beautiful." She breathed, holding tight before letting go, the priest's hand at her back to usher her forward. Steps slow and reverent as they went from the warm damp of outside to the cool dark of inside. All around them the Abyss throbbed. As if it had risen to infuse the very stones.

Paros could feel it all the way to her core. Eyes closed, she breathed it in, just as she had the fragrant air of the guava grove. This breath was for her soul and not her body, however. Mother Night like a smiling woman all around her. Peace and love pooling in the shadows and glinting in the low candle light. Without a word, she helped replenish them. Finding a store of candles beneath and altar. stubs gathered to be melted down and turned into full candles again.

"Nothing like this either. They have their temples, glorious temples. I've seen them built of everything. And one in Little Terreille that I swear was made practically all from gold." Paros kissed the last candle before fitting it into place and lighting the taper with a lick of gentle craft. "This is a meeting of earth and sky. Very fitting." She wiped tears from her face without shame, smile peaceful as she turned back to Gobatwyn, hand in hand to a quiet place where they could talk without disturbing the hush of the temple.

They sat together, Paros curling into the queen priest. "I gave Gondar my strongest brew. To break up whatever was living in his chest and expel it from his body. It helped him rest, but that is all. Whatever lives in there is not easily chased out." Head tipped back, she stared at the carvings in the stone work about, and tried to think if she had ever seen anything similar. "I feel like I have not traveled far enough. But Mother Night bid me home. Neither of these places are where she wishes me to go, but I understand their purpose in the journey."

There was always a need. What could be greater than this? Paros could think of nothing. Twisting to face the seneschal, Paros slipped a stray hair back among its fellows. "Are things the same, beside the cough? The Dreamer, the Walker, the children?" She had been gone so long. She looked toward the place she knew home had been. Seeing past stone walls and a sea of trees, to a little border village she couldn't be sure even existed anymore.

"My family lived all together. On the ground. In the trees. There was no below for the men and above for the women." Unity. Paros sighed. "There was still violence. Afraid we would be found and separated by the covens. Fights over mating. Fights over temper. But we were together." There was violence when apart as well. Why not have the peace of togetherness?

Gobatwyn

    Summer-sky to Blood Opal
  • Queen Priest
  • Played By: Jones

    duality
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    3 Posts    243 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2019, 02:49:58 PM »
”Seems that they were native here once, whole flocks of Kindred in the ancient records. At some point they died out or scattered, though I’ve heard stories of them cropping up in the deep jungle on occasion. Thage has stirred up a slew of recent sightings of course.” The conversation lulled as they picked a careful path over an old section of bridgework. Half the boards rotted, but paint marked the parts that were still safe to walk on. ”There are some old field journals in the temple archive if you’re interested. That was how we first met, actually. Gondar was afraid it might be some sort of curse. Sadly he might have been right in the long run.”

Carthage would agree, at least. Very little good had come from his new abilities. Since he assumed Paros knew the story at some length Goby didn’t elaborate. Gondar was a prolific storyteller, after all. A few hours in his company had made them well acquainted. Back then, Carthage had not been difficult to get to know either. And the priest had yet to realize the depth of his friend’s new misanthropy.

So he spoke of the grove instead. First to roll his shoulders at the fruit pairing. ”Yes?” They could be both. Siblings now, mates later if their seeds flourished. Who could say. Trees were trees. A point that Goby’s mind twisted around until it was a good analogy for Paros’ observations on their people. His heart gladdened to see that Paros did not think it such an impossible dream. Leaning into the arm at his hip he chose a few ripe fruits. A nod of understanding buying him a few seconds to lap the escaped flavor from his skin.

”Unfortunately it has to be done the same as the guava. Little by little. Crowding out the kopak while growing saplings. Earning trust with kindness. Being the change we want to see. Planting strong seeds in the right spots.” At least it seemed that the Tiger were not alone in their challenges. Paros spoke of the outsiders. People as brutal as their own, but less savage. It was all of great interest to Goby, perhaps simply because he was such a lover of people. ”Perhaps it’s simply that we haven’t found the right methods of living together peacefully.”

Did Paros know other ways? Goby saved the question for later to keep from interrupting talk of the cough. Morbidly amusing that they called it such when it was the fever that seemed to be the death bell. ”Twice blessed to have them and twice cursed that I will have to part with them soon. I hate to think of how quiet the house will be when it’s their father’s turn to do the raising.” Goby had chosen carefully, which gave him some peace. A good man to make good men of their sons, and a woman to take daughters skyward. He was secretly very glad they would dwell on the ground and know their father as more than a moments greeting at their birthrights. ”More blessed than most that I will never have to say goodbye forever.” 

A thoughtful silence passed companionably between them for a few seconds. Minds both working in the same direction. Feet doing the same to reach the temple. ”Yes, I’ve spread warnings. We’ve started sending our sick to the northern temple where its least humid. Trying to quarantine as best as we can. I fear the number of ill will double now that the rains have started. All the covens will be exposed at length instead of just those few that have dealings with Seneschals.” It was horrifying to imagine. Women were already so precious a commodity. Running a hand down the bridge of his nose Goby sighed heavily. ”Perhaps a priestess healer is exactly what the souls of Tigrelan need.”

The deep talk was put away to bask in the sanctity of the temple. It took his breath away every time. And he was glad to see its reverence wrapping Paros up too. Even the children that came were calmed by the peaceful energies here. Side by side they set to work on preparing the altar’s candles. Goby laid them out in the pattern of a Dark Gate from habit. No one in Tigrelan had opened a gate in ages. The skill passed down in scrolls, practiced but never performed. ”All gold? That sounds shiny.” And very vain. Looking up at the stone ceiling Goby smiled lightly. Salt on the air that he did not turn his face towards. The urge to gentle them away would be too strong, and too misplaced at the head of the temple. There were shaded corners for such intimacy, no need to risk friskiness at Mother Night’s table. ”What we lack in glory we make up for in dedication.”

Fitting their fingers together Goby guided Paros to just such a spot. One leg curled under the other. Arm supporting his weight behind Paros’ back as they spoke. Leaning against one another for mutual comfort. ”That is such a sad situation. They have been through so much already.” Closing his eyes against the thoughts Goby shook his head, ”I hope he can go comfortably at the very least. Carthage won’t let his father suffer to the end and no son should have to be his father’s final blow.” The two were so linked he could not imagine what the warlord would be like without his father.

”Perhaps your travels are only on hold then. Home can certainly use your experience- not just as a healer but as a traveler too. I firmly believe outside help is our only real hope.” His voice lowered to a whisper despite their being alone. The gravity of the situation rarely spoken out loud. But the Seneschal knew. Goby had seen it in their faces as they reported the funeral pyres of entire coalitions. ”Where is it you believe the Darkness pulls you towards? Perhaps I can help you get there sooner.” There were none better at introductions than the Seneschals, after all, and none better at going between than Gobatwyn.

Smile warmer he leaned into the hand that set a hair back in place. Nibbling the inside of his lip he lifted his eyebrows at the question, ”Yes, all the same. Dreamer dreaming, children going up and down. Saint is still Walking the Kingdom. Yelling at the queens to come down, and yelling at me to get back up there with the queens.” Goby laughed at the hypocrisy. He had done everything expected of every gender and caste he claimed for his own. Some people simply didn’t want to be happy.

Following Paros gaze Goby wondered what sliver of the past she looked into. Memories working across her eyes. Then over her lips. Revealing the daydream. A very good one, from the sound of things. ”Perhaps my position is biased, but in my dealings with both sides I think living together is less impossible than we are taught to believe. It’s a more common point of conversation these days too. At such a bad time for coming together too. Unfortunate.”

”That was how I came to be here, for the together bit. Queen. Priest. All of me has always ached to be among all of the people. If they had to be split then I had to be able to reach both sides.” Tracing an intricate line of ink behind Paros’ head Goby gave his bottom lip a short suck. ”Where will you wait out the rains? The farther south you try to get the harder it is to travel. Though I suppose you have Carthage to fly you around.”

Paros

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • Healer Priestess
  • Played By: dergon

    Peace & Prosperity
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    14 Posts    750 marks
Re: Earn Your Stripes
« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2019, 08:29:54 PM »

"There were not stories shared to me as a child." Maybe they had been too secluded, too reclusive. When you hid you missed much of what happened in the world. Tail high beneath her clothing, Paros balanced across the bridge. Footing perilous over half eaten boards and mildewing rope. Everything rotten in Tigrelan. Succumbing to the flood season.

"The Darkness has a reason for all things. I wouldn't mind a look, still." It never hurt to know, even when the knowledge was unnecessary. Paros did not think she would run out of room in her memory for new information. Though something old might be forgotten in the process.

The grove was a nice reward for the crossing. Air fragrant. Words wise. Paros could appreciate the daunting task ahead. It seemed impossible, or at least vastly huge. She did not imagine it would be done in her lifetime, but she could imagine it being done. "That is a good way to see it. Be the change you wish to see. I like this philosophy." Paros did not want to destroy what made her people unique. Only see them stronger. And kinder to each other. "We can hope. Separation for eternity just does not sit quiet in my soul."

So much to speak of between bites of pink flesh. Fruit slicking her tongue so the conversation could continue. The palpable weariness of the cough. And another sort of tiredness of parenthood. "I never considered that part of being a seneschal. With all ways open to you, you may watch them grow from near rather than afar."

Nodding, Paros agreed. "The damp is never good for sickness. I have little hope of quarantine. Especially when they must cross half the lands to get there." She could pray on it. A more powerful commodity than hope. Then she knew the Will was done. "Don't say such things. I am but one woman trying to help." Hand patting Gobatwyn's elbow. Paros was not a great priestess or healer. She had never worked a miracle in her life. She simply did the best she could with as much skill and compassion as she possessed.

In the temple she felt whole again. All the sense of home she had been missing since her return to Tigrelan filling her in one gentle swell. The act of lighting candles brought her soul and body into harmony. Paros was at peace. Sharing in the quiet a few of the other temples she had seen in her travels, from the ostentatious to the humble. "Yes. Shiny and expensive. Such waste!" But it was what the people there wanted.

Everyone was different. "I think it is just a different sort of glory." Paros smiled at the ceiling. "Not every setting is gaudy." But all held Jewels and power in their clasp. Fingers entwined, she and Gobatwyn found a quiet place to talk. Secluded by the deep temple shadows. Voices muffled rather than carried by the acoustics. Bodies seeking the same sort of closeness as their hands, Paros and seneschal both, sat in the ground.

"Even I cannot imagine it, and have known them all of a night." Paros sighed. "I will pray it never comes to that, for anyone." There had to be a way to stop it. A cure or at least a treatment. Leaning in, she canted an ear thoughtfully. "I have many notebooks. I can look to see if I have anything similar recorded." She often wrote down what people told her. About plants. Places. Sickness.

"East still. And possibly south. It is hard to tell beneath the stone." Felt most strongly when her feet traveled the ground. Though she had felt the calling in the air too. "The Walker sounds mightily conflicted." Paros laughed, lashes sweeping low over her eyes. Bodies nearly entwined as their hands had been. It felt very much like secreting away with a lover to whisper about impossible dreams.

"That is true. It could feed a hysteria over the mingling of sexes." Paros huffed. Mind leaping from one slick stone to another in a breath. "Or it could show them how little they are different. Both afflicted by the same sickness. "Have any women been reported to suffer? Or any seneschals?" A fierce prayer for the go betweens Tigrelan needed most. And the safety of its women.

"I am sure you do well among them. I must admit to never expecting to meet a queen among the seneschal myself." But so fitting. So utterly right Paros did not question or wonder now that she had met him. Hand offering an idle caress as they talked. Or body warm and welcoming as they fit themselves together until they were practically one. "I would not ask it of him. I do not think either of us enjoyed the flight."

Lips pursed, Paros thought about where next. And then where to winter. "I would like to see if my village still exists. If it does, I will make my base camp there and travel as I can." She could not be sure until she had seen it. And knew too where she must be. Paros' thumb circled the tip of Gobatwyn's ear. "Will you stay here with the temple and other seneschals?" She asked. Here where she could find him.

 

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