Not a Spider or a Fly

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Jin-ae So

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Not a Spider or a Fly
« on: June 28, 2019, 12:09:21 AM »
Rosnay was different than Thure. It wasn't something she was sure other people noticed, and certainly didn't know how to ask about, but she could see it. Little things like how the streets wound together, or the way women tied their clothes. They carried themselves differently than on the other island, just enough that Jin-ae wasn't sure if she quite liked it. She learned quickly to keep her eyes down when she was out alone, only slightly more comfortable in the presence of Captain Nazaire's wife.

Lady Salome was as distant as one could possibly be without outright having Jin-ae live outside, and Jin-ae wasn't about to try and bridge that gap for all the good it might do. She would rather not anger Captain Nazaire through Lady Salome if she made some irreparable misstep, and any action taken on her part seemed likely to spark some kind of active animosity.

At the same time, total inaction was out of the question. She had been loaned to Captain Nazaire's wife with instruction to mind her as best she might be able, only seeking contact with him if the Lady 'pressed beyond her limits', as it were. Jin-ae, having no solid idea about what Lady Salome's limits had been prior to meeting her, assumed that meant closer to death than not. Lady Salome seemed like the type to insist on her own wellness even when she was ill.

Lady Nazaire was a formidable woman, proud and dark, carrying a Green and a practicing Blackwidow. Someone to look up to, if Jin-ae had been of any other caste or position and had come to her in any other way. Very much like Chihye, for all they were so visibly different. And that Jin-ae disliked to compare anyone to her mother.

But Lady Nazaire wore her Green in the same way that one might wear a garment from a particularly disliked relative when that relative appeared at a holiday. It hung heavy on her, thinning and consuming, but borne with determination and a type of dignity. She knew better than to speak up about it, feeling too keenly the gulf between their power, in Salome's standing on the island, and the pressure of childhood etiquette lessons at her back.

It was obvious that she was simultaneously unwelcome and unable to leave, and so Jin-ae found herself caught in a new way. She knew from her childhood the demand of a jewel as dark as the Green, knew how much her mother ate to sustain it and function day to day. But Lady Nazaire made her own food, and wouldn't accept anything Jin-ae touched.

She was nothing if not resourceful, however. She'd put herself through the Exams without being sponsored at a school and right under the nose of her family, and Captain Nazaire wouldn't have given her the task if he hadn't thought she could succeed in some way. She hoped.

The simplest thing to tackle, but definitely not the easiest thing, was how to get the Lady to eat more.

It hadn't been hard to learn which stalls Lady Nazaire favored -- she'd simply followed one day, inviting herself along and being as transparent as possible, touching nothing, speaking not at all, and none of the vendors had cared or took much notice. The parts of the market they visited were those that sold larger quantities of food for slightly less than their competition. Rice, uncut fruits, greens, food that kept longer than others, generally. She paid attention to the language of the sellers, the way they haggled. Anahi's merchants were just as shrewd, just about different things. Fish ran in abundance, as well as small game like lizards and birds; shellfish were more expensive depending on the island, apparently; meat from deer and boar were the most expensive. These were avoided, marks scrupulously pinched and counted, and Jin-ae regretted her own stores kept secure in her cabinet, sure that Lady Salome wouldn't appreciate any kind of assistance, least of all from her.

A slight that would only deepen if she found out those marks came from Captain Nazaire as well.

The vendors had taken considerably more notice of her when she had returned the next day, a pleasant, guileless smile in place. She'd practiced outside of the house, away from the Lady, and hoped with her entire being that she didn't look the fool. She'd only ever truly practiced lying to her mother, her family, who she knew intimately. These people were strangers.

She started her little act by looking over their wares, making non-committal noises at their comments and frowning or tutting at prospective purchases.

My Lady graces your stall with her patronage, she'd said. Allegiance, generosity. Dare them to make any kind of remark about the state of Salome's person. But I worry that may soon change. Draw a finger across an item, one brow up, arch, a touch dissatisfied. Disappointed. Her mother's face. So much coin, and for a quality undeserving of it. What would her husband say, if he knew what Lady Salome paid for goods his own hard work makes available? Surely the disfavor of Captain Isidore Nazaire is not something you would wish to risk, if he were to hear that you treated his wife so poorly.

A change of script here and there, a couple more careful comments, perhaps and insinuation that he was soon to visit, and most of them caved to her unsaid demand. The promise of Jin-ae's own marks to meet part of the difference they were to give Lady Nazaire smoothed the way after the dose of fear had been put to play. Those that didn't fall as much as she hoped or not at all she made sure to remember. Captain Nazaire appreciated her honestly, and she had been sent to keep an eye on his wife, yes -- but those people who didn't respect the power he held were those to watch, too. The connections and influence he had would affect those vendors more than Jin-ae's attempts at intimidation.

Now, more than days out from when she had first stepped into place in Salome's home, Jin-ae's confidence in the market had grown. She passed from stall to stall to deliver coin, moving to those she hadn't felt confident enough to visit before. Jewelers, fabric merchants, booksellers. While her diet had adjusted to fit what her Lady ate so as to make shopping easier -- and to stymie what guilt she might have harbored at eating better than Salome -- she hadn't been able to turn away from the books and writing supplies that were offered.

It was at one such stall that she found herself then, morning sunlight still not quite strong enough to bake the ground beneath her shoes, debating books. A journal? Or a book for sketching? Or a painter's book, with it's thick pages and good grip. There was a stall close by, too, that sold novels and school books, and Jin-ae was always hunting for new things to read.

Living with Isidore would be the end of her, she was sure. She'd never had the ability to buy what she liked when she liked, and now she could. She'd at least get all three.

Turning, a smile on her face and books in hand, she intended to locate pencils and paints and then haggle for the next half hour over their price. While whispers tended to spark up briefly around her now, it didn't prevent the stalls she visited irregularly to put up resistance when she came to buy. But instead of a clear path to where the vendor sat squinting at her there was a body, and she bumped into them unceremoniously, hands automatically coming up to hold the books to her chest to keep them from falling.

Backpedaling, she bowed, eyes down. "I apologize for my rudeness," she breathed. Fear tempered her prior pleasure, bringing her back down to earth. "I was unaware of my surroundings. Please pardon my transgression, it will not happen again." She'd found it best to be as deferential as possible when out alone, not wanting to call either Salome or Isidore's attention to her if she misstepped. The few times it had happened she had bowed and scraped and prayed to the Darkness that they would simply think her stupid, light jeweled and on a mission for her mistress or master, and leave her be.

Please let the pattern hold, she prayed, eyes on the shoes of the stranger. Please let me go.

Paris Villeneuve

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2019, 06:46:54 PM »

Paris licked the smile from his lips. Tongue hold his lower lip against his bottom teeth until they bit. It was a curious experience, fear angling toward his person. He couldn't remember the last time, if ever, he had incited it. Hand rising, he wipe the saliva his tongue left behind from his lip and chin and tried not to laugh at her bowing.

He recognized this one.

The sweep of her dark hair familiar. Caught in glimpses as she moved along the outskirts of Salome's house. The slave the lady's husband had brought to live with her. Salome was sure the girl was a spy, and Paris wasn't willing to risk Salome being right, so he did not argue, just followed along. More time spent out on the terrace that circled the house. Less time spent lounging in her bed.

"Forgiven. Jin-ae, isn't?" Dog-girl, Salome called her in that spiteful way she had. The lady herself was almost as terrifying as her husband. Fingers stroking down from the corners of his mouth to the tip of his chin, Paris shrugged. "No harm done. Are your books alright?" He asked, eyes bright against the sun, and internalized mirth. Salome would kill him for chatting up her slave in the market.

But she was a vindictive, sensitive soul, he'd learned quickly, and did not worry.

His eyes rolled around the market, body seeming to slump forward. If he'd had more hair it would have fallen into his face as he looked about. No one seemed overly concerned about them. But aware. He wondered if people knew and talked about his late night gossip sessions with the lady Nazaire. Or was it that the prince's slave was now conversing with him.

Jin-ae So

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 12:12:25 AM »
Eyes up, straightening from her bow but not relaxing, she tried to place the voice. It wasn't one she'd heard frequently, held at more than an arms length from Lady Salome as she was, but the face she knew. At least in part. An attache to her Lady's house, from the Temple where she'd taken to working. It caught her oddly, to find a Dhemlanese face among those that so frequently looked so different.

"It is." As unsurprising as it was, Jin-ae didn't know if she liked him knowing her name prior to being introduced. Face to a name, face to a name - ah. Somewhat even footing then. "And you're Paris, yes?" More eyes and hands to watch for. Careful, careful. The same kind of prickly caution that had infected her when she'd first met Captain Nazaire. The same kind of lurking threat, only it was in the idea of whatever returned to Lady Salome, rather than the presence of the man in front of her.

Chin dipped in a nod, Jin-ae kept her gaze at his cheekbones. "They are, thank you." She stepped around him, carefully, never quite turning completely away, and turned half her attention to the vendor. This was an exchange she was used to, and she haggled down her books to an acceptable degree before releasing her marks. Purchases vanished, the shop-keep fell from her mind immediately, focus back on Paris.

"Shopping for yourself, or the Temple?" She inquired, stepping carefully out toward the next stall on her list. Paints, next. A hat called to her hand, wide brimmed, and then she was looking up at him beneath its shade. Limiting her field of vision but not the awareness she had of the crowd around them, and hopefully not of the man before her. "I imagine there must be much to buy, with all its goings on." That was safe; a topic not her Lady or her Lord, and couched in enough avenues that they could pick and choose without stepping on each other's toes about it.

Paris Villeneuve

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2019, 06:58:44 AM »

Paris' head tilted ever so slightly. She stood, she recognized, but he sensed she didn't really look. Eyes like water, that slid off rather than cling. But not servile. Maybe she was too new to it for the proper sort of humbling. Some never learned it at all. "Yes." Sometimes they died, because of it.

His father had never stooped or shrank. Sandals stirring the dirt of the marketplace, Paris shifted so she could glide by without becoming to close. The angle of his body changing with the direction of his hips. "You're welcome." He couldn't help the amusement that curled the corners of his mouth. His smile deep rather than wide.

Paris should have left then, but he lingered. Fingers moving over goods as he listened to her barter. Half attentions paid to each other. They looked familiar in a sea of strangers. But Paris had been born to Paon, and he very much doubted Jin-ae. She wasn't afraid enough. When she was done, her focus returned to him, and Paris' fingers fell away from manuscripts he had never intended to purchase.

"Myself mostly. But a little of both." He took her attention as invitation and matched his pace to hers, his stride only slightly longer. Side by side would have been too much. An admittance that they walked common ground. There was too much questioning about Paris status as it was. And he was likely to be flayed if Salome suspected him of prancing about with her spy.

"The temple has others to do its shopping. Housekeepers and seneschals who know what is needed all over." He explained, tipping open a bottle of paint. The slowing of Jin-ae's steps leading him to her destination. "Probably many of them. There is much to organize there." He admitted with some surprise. He had never much thought about it before.

"And yourself? Who do you shop for this day?" He sniffed a small pot of ink and put it aside with the air of someone all to familiar with the product. Telltale traces still staining his fingertips and nail beds. "This shade of red is imported. That deeper color will be half its price." He informed her solemnly, tipping the offending color on its stand, his voice pitched so that the stall keeper was less likely to listen in.

Jin-ae So

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2019, 03:19:44 AM »
Eyes to the side while her unexpected companion walked beside her. In front of her, to a degree. His stride was so long! She had seen taller men on the islands, but she had not had to walk beside them. Jin-ae wondered at the deliberation of it. There was something inscrutable about Paon and its people, and it was off-putting to find that same air on a face she could have seen at home. It took a fist of control to not try to match his pace, aware in some way that the distance between was deliberate.

"I see," a network not unlike a house then, which made sense. Eyebrows lifted at the at the surprise in his voice. Jin-ae had been inordinately interested in the workings of her home, likely some pull over from when she'd known everything that had gone on at home. "I imagine they purchase for you as well then." Jin-ae had never worked at any of the temples in Anahi, although it likely would have been something her mother would have pushed for, had she any perceivable talent for it.

Well, she had talent. It was best ignored that she had had to be captured and enslaved for them to become relevant, but they were there. There were many adjustments Jin-ae had to go through mentally, some of them still in progress, and there was always the lingering fog that this was, somehow, not real. It faded, day by day, but it was still present in little things. The moments she had to herself on Isidore's estate, or in the routine of the market. She would outlive most of these people, which was something she'd never had to consider before. Surely, if she could outlive them, she could return to the mainland?

Not a question for Paris, admittedly.

"Myself, inasmuch as it may be of service to my masters." That was language she was becoming more accustomed to, deference and diversion. Not that she dared to speak much in Lady Salome's presence. But... "Paints, and drawing pencils. Stitching cloth and thread, if there are any vendors." She had her own frames, circle, square, and rectangle, and while she'd never been overfond of embroidery there was a certain calm about it. Additionally, it kept her hands busy and her eyes down while she was in Lady Salome's home.

Attention up, cheekbone, down, hands, paints. "Thank you." Reaching for the darker red, adding it to her hand, attention switching to blues. Perhaps not so terrible a companion to have on a crafts finding mission.

"What do you do, in your spare hours?"

Paris Villeneuve

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2019, 04:13:39 AM »

Paris glanced briefly in her direction. Repeatedly. Careful slips of the eye to both keep from being caught staring, and to also not been seen as furtive. There was a trick to it he was not certain he'd exactly mastered. "They do." Paris allowed with a faint shrug of his shoulders. "But we have a difference of opinion on what makes for a good pen tip." He explained.

He felt less guilty when he inevitably ended up taking one home. Tucked into a pocket or behind his ear. Vanished thoughtlessly or chewed upon. Better they were already his own. He looked again. A strain at the corner of the eye because she walked behind him to some degree and Paris was too afraid of what turning his head to look would appear like to the marketplace.

Her answer was clever enough to still his tongue. Or was she simply that devoted? He did not think she was overlong on Paon, but Paris had no real way of knowing. Lower lip tucked beneath his tongue, he tipped his head in acknowledgment. "I do not see where there should not be." Best to let the first comment drift by. It was only right that her purpose align with her masters' needs. She was a slave.

Paints first. A dizzying array of colors and jars. The pots of ink were less thrilling in their display, being black only. But there were differences there too, though Paris did not speak of them. Nodding acceptable of her thanks because welcoming a slave in public would not stand, no matter how softly he said it. "I enjoy walking." The markets were a good place to hear gossip.

Or become it. Paris picked up a small jar of blue, the vendor smiling broadly and proclaiming it 'peacock blue'. Nodding, Paris smiled and put the jar away, body angling subtly toward Jin-ae. "I find it helps keep me connected to the people the temple serves. Plus my legs need stretching after work." He traded blues with her, half a smile curling his lips.

"Everyone has their own version of peacock blue. Or priestess blue, depending on how pretentious they are trying to sound." His smiled turned clearly into a smirk, fingers pressing a dry brush across his palm. The hairs spread and tickled his skin. "All of then trying to get closest to the birds color. It is something of a competition, and a joke."

Trading a single coin for a pot of ink, he turned away from the table, and scanned the market. He could not say if the market looked back at him with any vested interest. Half leading, they moved on together. "How long have you been in Prince Nazaire's service?" He asked, stepping around a scene in the road with little interest. A child broad tears of no interest to him while it was chided by its mother. She was not important either.

Jin-ae So

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2019, 11:42:47 PM »
She was reminded, with no little humor, of the horses her mother kept, the ones bought from the more nomadic Blood they'd considered neighbors. There was a wildness to them, a caution that lingered no matter how long they were held safe. Paris, who Jin-ae fought not to look in the eye when she caught a glance, was much the same. There was a caution in him Jin-ae didn't quite see in others, and she wondered at it.

"And what does make a good pen tip? I have yet to find one I favor." She wondered at the manners of people, too. Paris was the first person she'd interacted with who was not above her in station. Or, what height he might have was achieved through something she could not have. Her legs were not so long, after all. The thought made her fight to tuck a smile away, head tilted down, and berated herself. He was of the island longer, at least, although the minutia of the space between them was lost on her. She felt the irrational desire to reach out and grab him, and she put that away too. Likely the same reason he had not responded with courtesy to her thanks would be the reason for the way he kept himself from her space.

Best not to cause trouble for Lord Nazaire while out with his Lady's... man? His Lady's servant, at least. Best not to cause trouble for her Lord while in the market.

"I enjoy walking as well, although the people I see are only those my Lady frequents." And doubtless it would not be lost on him that he fell into that category as well. Her mother would be proud; at last, some tact upon her tongue.

Soured by the thought, she redirected. "I must confess a preference," she admitted, eyes moving between the curve of Paris' chin, his hands, and their exchange of tints. "I find the estate much more peaceable." She could deal with the birds and the monkeys and whatever other animals circled Lady Salome's yard, or Captain Nazaire's, but Darkness she had never disliked the attention of people as much as she did at the market. Even Anahi's vendors had not been like this, leaving an edge of apprehension to her.

She tempered a laugh at his smirk and his jab, amused by the idea of any kind of contest around a hue. "And I suppose simply crushing the bird's fallen feathers doesn't make any kind of satisfactory color," she stated, pitched low and almost a question. It had been one of the first things impressed upon her, the importance of the bird. It hadn't changed her opinion on them, in that they were strange, if pretty, and somewhat annoying, but it was still a sentiment best kept to herself.

Paying and following, Jin-ae lifted her chin as they passed the crying child and its mother. Such displays were infrequent in Dhemlan, and her own household had not tolerated open tantrums any more than fits within the walls of their home. She had lagged and stared the first time she'd seen a child weeping here, but had quickly overcome her desire to either comfort or reprimand. Now, her pace barely slowed, and she prayed Paris' wouldn't recognize any hesitance in her or make any inquiries. "A year this summer," she replied. How little and how much time had passed, how little and how much change. Darkness. "How long have you been with the temple?"

Paris Villeneuve

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2020, 05:47:49 AM »

What indeed? Paris found his tongue pressing into the edge of his tooth. Nature, or a mishap he did not remember, had made its edge slightly jagged. An crevice that a sliver of skin could be slid into. Arrow shaped, like a good pen tip.

"Seems to depend. We all exert different pressure, I've noticed." Lines just ever so slightly different despite being copied from the same text. Paris' lashes swept over a gold hued eye in what might have been a wink in another place or time. Or world.

Palms brushing each other in front of his navel, Paris drew his elbows across his sides and his fingers through each other before allowing his hands to fall away. "Yes, no doubt." He murmured. A swell of emotion made the back of his throat tickle. Curiosity? Jealousy? Shame? He could not define it. His relationship with Salome was a careful one. Paris cared while trying not to become attached. He wondered who else she saw. Who else she brought before Jin-ae, eyes cast over the girl as if he could spy on her secrets. Or the secrets of her mistress.

"Truly?" A finger tip lingered. A thin circle of leather pressed between stopper and ink to keep the pot tightly sealed absorbed the oil from his skin. Gaze swept. Not wholly, not directly, looking. Jin-ae's face. The market around him. All the staring eyes felt for a brief moment. The whispers he was used to, even when they couldn't be heard. Their weight, ready and waiting on a tongue, felt, and dismissed as just another kind of breeze. "I suppose the lady does keep a quiet house, with her husband so often away."

As if there were nothing but common business keeping the couple apart.

"Never to be done. Even with those discarded by the birds themselves." Paris said solemnly. A passing hint of amusement making the corners of his mouth soft rather than hard. "I would not doubt some intrepid soul has tried, and been punished, for the thought." An idea that did not strike fear into him. For Paris the lash was just another arm of Mother Night and her handmaidens, the Priestesses. Its kiss an unpleasant reminder of what it meant to disappoint a Mother's love.

Transaction made, the pair moved off.  Paris with his simple black and Jin-ae with her colors. Did Salome give the girl time to paint? Did she even notice? Paris doubted it with a smile for the careless disinterest of his... the lady Nazaire. "Just a year?" He had practiced putting away the wash of pity he felt for those taken from other lands to be brought to Paon. Surely they had left something worse for something better, even if they were no more than slaves on the islands. Jin-ae seemed to be adapting well. Surely she was very sensible and recognized that Paon was for the best.

"All my life." Paris answered without actually asking how Jin-ae was feeling about her new home. It mattered as much as the wailing child and fretting mother. She was here now. And forever. "My mother was a priestess. So I was raised in the shadows of the temple even when I was not within its walls. The temple may change, and the lady ruling it, but otherwise things are as they have always been."

His body turned, shading hers. An angled knife to cut a sudden press. Hunters jostling the street as if they were raiders just back from the mainland. Voices loud and the imprint of their bodies louder. Psyches staining a swathe of market with jovial violence and the old blood of fresh kills. "This way, please." Arm out, palm up, his tapered fingers pointed to a break between displays that would shade them from eager elbows. The kill did not always dampen the hunger in the men. Sometimes it made their blood run all the hotter.

It was like the warmth of the sun, creeping up Paris' back as it crested the horizon. "There will be much feasting tonight." He commented dryly once they were under the shade of a broad leafed tree. A stall selling ribbons and another carved trinkets of bone, hiding them the sight of the hunters. There was a faint flush to his cheeks that darkened his eyes.

Jin-ae So

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2020, 01:29:56 AM »
More and more, Jin-ae found the traps of conversation set to ensnare the unwary. Was she getting better at seeing them or was Paris being as intentional in his turn of phrase as she suspected? Lady Salome likely wouldn't entertain anyone who was bad at the game. Or maybe she would, to highlight the differences betwen them and Captain Nazaire? Her mistress was a layered web unto herself, and Jin-ae had never had any skill at reading them.

Maybe there was nothing there at all, and she was running herself in circles over shadows.

"Something delicate, I think. I had been engaged in calligraphy," before, "and I would hate to let the lessons fade." She'd been the best of her siblings, although against her mother's standards who knew where she actually stood. That she could write the epics from memory in two languages meant it was only worth as much as it pleased her master. And, with Lady Nazaire in the Captain's stead, that meant it was as significant as she was.

Eyes up, skating across the curve of his ear before dropping back down. Words built up and crumbled behind her teeth. She new his reputation, and her Lady's thoughts on her Lord's behavior. She felt it was as if the islands knew and simply pretended it was a secret. "Indeed," she said, bland, and hopefully not poorly affected. "Although I am not present for when my mistress entertains, I imagine her and my master's manner much the same." And there went her tact, if she'd ever really held it. "I find the grounds pleasant."

Awkwardly, Jin-ae trailed him, attention at shoulder height as he discussed the feathers. She could imagine being punished for neglecting a horse or laming a goat, but she could perceive no value to the peacock that another animal could not provide. Self-chastised she kept the thought to herself, allowing only the barest affirmation at Paris' passing inquiry.

The revelation that he had been born to the island brought her away from her own assessment, curiosity heightening further at the admission of his heritage. "I agree," she said, wary of her own tongue, "as the child of a priestess as well, I find the shadows of their temples well rooted." Her mother's temple had been their home, for all it had never been treated as anything but a holy place. She could find no careful way to ask after his age, and held that in too, even if she was intensely interested. A part of her had known that there must be people born into slavery on the islands, that not everyone could be stolen as she was, but Paris was so obviously longer lived. How long had he lived on the islands? Would he leave? Did he plan to? More questions for no one.

His turn caught her attention at the same time as the crowd of men, raucous as their presence ran ahead of them. Instinctive, to vanish her small packages, shoulders edging forward as she followed Paris' direction even while her eyes tracked the group. She had been kept from the men of the compound on Thure, likely as much for Lord Nazaire's peace of mind as for her own carefully woven fears, and it was only necessity that allowed her to the markets.

Shaded, the hooks of her attention still on the passing party, Jin-ae's eyes dragged back to Paris' throat. "There are many more celebrations here than I am familiar with," The press of their fervor felt heavy handed against her. Disquieted, she allowed herself a moment to smooth hair and brush the sides of her clothes in quick, calming motions. "I can't imagine there are so many holidays to warrant such revelry."

Paris Villeneuve

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Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2020, 11:14:14 AM »

"A noble enterprise." Paris murmured. His hand was neat and untiring, but he could create artwork to such a degree. It was copied studiously, but what he recreated lacked the passion of true art. Honest creation. He transcribed religion texts to teach, not to please.

"Do you?" Paris fought the rise of eyebrows and the curve of a smirk at the lips. While his eyebrows remained boredly flat, his lips twitched in secret amusement. "I do not know the Captain well enough to comment. But the grounds are definitely pleasant." Mostly the long beach that swept the front of Salome's house. A house, and the entertainment of, he was familiar with.

A dangerous affair. But Paris could not deny the Salome. She could kill him just as easily as her husband, and sometimes he imagined she might surely out of spite and possessiveness. But also he did not want to. She was beautiful, and plucked at his hidden, sympathetic heart. She was so much a pathetic creature. A woman who had everything but lived as if she had nothing.

Empty on the inside because she could not see all she had.

"And very long." He added with a smile. Kindred spirit to kindred spirit. He wondered if the priestesses of other lands were the same? He understood that their understanding of the Darkness was flawed. Many of them had helped in the turning away from Witch. But Jin-ae, like he, was descended of the people had birthed Witch. He imagined what she might think on the subject, but did not ask.

He would hate to have to turn her in as a heretic. Slave or not. It could not be helped if she did not know better, and he did not want their time together tarnished. She too was beautiful, if less plucking of his sympathies, despite her lower status.

Between the stalls he stood close. Out of necessity, and because he wanted to. Let his body act as a shield to her nervous fluttering. Paris watched her hands smooth hair and clothes that were hardly mussed. The hooting and hollering of them stirring the protective warlord in his soul. A part of him could have bared teeth at their threat. And a part of him longed to be swallowed up by their bestiality.

"It is not always a holiday. Just a good hunt in need of celebrating." Egos in need of being appeased. New ways to leash men that had not queen craft to hold them. Or enslave them. The priestesses did what they could for their souls. But they beast within needed blood and violence. And Mother Night gloried in their savage abilities, so did Paon. "Besides, there can never be enough praise to Mother Night and her glory." He recited, hand curving just behind her elbow to keep her from stepping back into a display. The other plucked a ribbon away that the wind had blown into her hair.

"Lovely, but not your color, I think."

Jin-ae So

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • witch
  • Played By: kayndred

    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    19 Posts    0 marks
Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2020, 01:51:43 AM »
A quiet sigh of relief passed through her at Paris' willful overlooking of her unfortunate reaction. Not that she didn't think he would remember -- he surely would, and with the right twist could turn it into a ready knife. She would have to be extra cautious moving forward, so as to not inspire the use of that blade.

"Indeed. A quiet one," she murmured noncommittally. Roots and shadows that had no doubt been undisturbed by her passage, nor remembered in whatever enterprises she had done. A temple unchanged by time, and a daughter the temple forgot. She wondered at his mother then, an outline of an idea more than anything else, and also of mothers in general, and how they dealt with the aging and absence of their children. She wondered if she would be one such mother one day, but that thought fluttered away with the rest.

Paris' presence was, at least, solid to her, if not entirely calming. Her hands settled back in a polite fold over her stomach, her nerves abating slightly as they remained unnoticed. "There are many good hunts then," she allowed. It was not the first time she'd seen such a party, although usually she was ahead of the crowd rather than moving toward them.

"Never enough praise," she repeated, but it felt thin as she watched the group pass. They were magnetic, even as they harried her awareness with their proximity. She swallowed thickly, attention back to the touch of his hand at her elbow, her hair.

The ribbon was not a color she favored, it was true, a florid pink with orange edging. But Jin-ae wasn't quite sure she had a color, and found herself reaching for the fabric in Paris' fingers. Dropping her hand abruptly, she turned her eyes from the spread of his palm to the hollow of his throat and then back, trying to focus on the ribbon instead.

"I've never owned ribbon," she said, thinking back. Her braids, both before and after her capture were held by leather ties. Her festive clothing had all been inherited, heirlooms, and none of it came with her. There hadn't been any ribbons like the ones on the islands. Now, here they were, ribbons by the yard in more colors than she knew to name, and Jin-ae had no idea what to do with them. "What are they for? Besides hair?" Surely there was more than one purpose for something than to be pretty.

Paris Villeneuve

    Summer-sky to Opal
  • Warlord
  • Played By: dergon

    Temple Scribe
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    8 Posts    689 marks
Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2020, 05:54:15 AM »

Chin dipping, Paris agreed. "Surely Paon breeds the greatest of hunters." More feral than the beasts they hunter. Men bred for violence. He was an outlier. His weakness blamed on his father. Paris was not sure he agreed, but he had no wish to be a man such as these. No doubt his sort were needed. That ladies such Salome turned to him proved his inner truth.

It did not matter none other would know.

"Of course not. She is greater than we can ever hope to encompass." A faith of rote sayings. Paris had an endless supply of them as any temple child might. And many not born of the temple. Across Paon only murder was revered higher than faith. And even then it was expected to be done for the glory of Mother Night and not the individual.

Looking down over the shadow of his cheek bones, he watched Jin-ae. Hand reaching for the ribbon caught in his fingers. But she did not touch, or even lift her eyes last his chin. They settled on the bob of his adam's apple, he imagined. Then slid back to the ribbon as he looped it back around the stand it fluttered from. Dozens of others to keep it company.

"Seems strange for a young lady to not own ribbon. Are they not fashionable where you were from?" A place he would never see and know little about. It did not truly matter. Jin-ae would not see it again either. That time of her life was done and past. Question amusing him, Paris tipped his face to the sun and considered.

"Decoration, embellishment. Many like to string shells from them as jewelry." He thought of all the ways he had seen women wear ribbons on their person. Hair was the most common. Worked into braids or elaborate coifs. But there were other ways. Paris shrugged, and tucked a smirk to the corner of his mouth. "Love play, as well." He half teased. "Or so I read in a rather surprising text discovered in the library."

Jin-ae So

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • witch
  • Played By: kayndred

    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    19 Posts    0 marks
Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2020, 11:27:45 PM »
Perhaps all 'great' hunters were as those when they had lived, and it was only time that smoothed their edges, turned vicious men into heroes. She'd liked Dhemlan's history well enough, liked the tales that were a little more fiction than not; now, the parallels ran too close. She remembered the men who'd stolen her, the terror, the rough hands, the oppressive Craft. There were new night terrors now, hungry shadows, their memory and the phantom of her enjoyment for the stories twisting in on each other.

More stones of her life lifted to reveal unconsidered things below.

"They certainly hunt a great deal," Jin-ae said. People, animals, wares. "She is very honored." Not in any way she was used to, but it was something she thought she might be able to forgive. Perhaps. After decades and distance.

Smile almost rueful, she folded her fingers together, stepping out of his shadow a fraction to look at the fall of multi-colored fabric. "Fashionable, probably. But not practical for a steppe woman," her eyes followed his fingers as they left the ribbon behind. What would young Jin-ae have done with ribbon? Weaved spells into it, which is what she considered doing then, too. Bookmarks, maybe. Or braided frames. Maybe make a textured picture, weaving them in and out of paper, or wood. Maybe she would come back for them, when there were fewer close-watching eyes. Like Paris'. "Why waste a ribbon when a leather tie will last?" A Chihye edict, along the same lines as 'The tried spell holds true', and 'A girl's place is where her mother puts her'.

Chihye So had definitely not put her on the islands and that truth brought a little flush of warmth to her, made her smile more genuine. Maybe she'd be distressed later at the little defiance of her station, and how little station she actually had, but the childish, rebellious part of her wanted to spin out into the street and dance for the joy of it. Even if it were the worst possible idea.

All his examples were things she had seen, although she couldn't understand the appeal of them. "That sounds flimsy," she wrinkled her nose, capturing one fluttering edge between her fingers. And then turned more fully toward the display in mock interest, wanting to escape the topic. It was not a conversation she wanted to be having. She knew what sex was - she'd seen enough of it between her mother's horses, and she'd been given a very no nonsense run down when she'd had her first moontime. But the 'play' aspect was foreign to her. People did it, yes, but those people were not Jin-ae. "I'm sure the library holds many surprising texts." Hopefully on literally anything else.

Paris Villeneuve

    Summer-sky to Opal
  • Warlord
  • Played By: dergon

    Temple Scribe
    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    8 Posts    689 marks
Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2020, 04:36:01 PM »

"There are people to feed too." Paris admitted with a shrug. Sharp amusement passed his lips, barely exposing his teeth. Almost as if he had been caught telling a tale. Or worse, a lie. But all of it was true. Mother Night was supposed to be first in all things. But hungry people mattered too.

And the men enjoyed the hunt. It made their blood run out and gave release to the violence in their veins. Paris did not partake, and thought himself removed from it all. But it was like an itch at the back of his neck, beckoning him to taste.

"What is a steppe?" He asked, eyes sliding down Jin-ae's body as if the answer was held there. "I think I have read of them." Enough to know he'd never seen anything close enough to understand. He did, however, know what a woman was. Tucking his hands away, Paris let the distance between them grow again. Neither of them seeming quite comfortable with it.

Shrugging listlessly, he slid his hands into his pockets and out again. "Fashion, again, I would assume." What a strange place, where women would prefer hard leather to beauty for their adornment. Maybe it was that itch at the back of his neck that made him list so many ways a ribbon might be used. Paris rubbed it as Jin-ae turned away. Not quite ashamed of himself.

"It is vast. Though I hear the library on Thure is even mightier." He turned shortly after her. Ribbons flapped the air in front of his chest, reaching for him without touching. "It's to be expected, if course, being the home of the Mother Priestess." One day he hoped to see for himself. But that was a terrifying dream. He imagined the whole island stank of the Black.

"You should get some, now that you aren't a steppe woman." Paris tempted, ignoring for a moment that she should not have marks of her own. Ignoring too that it was quite obvious she did. Jin-ae was no favorite of Salome's, no woman could be with a creature so painfully self conscious and arrogant. Isidore perhaps? Canting a sideways look at her, Paris wondered why.

Jin-ae So

    Yellow to Summer-sky
  • witch
  • Played By: kayndred

    Ile de Paon Kaeleer
    19 Posts    0 marks
Re: Not a Spider or a Fly
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2020, 09:10:45 PM »
What did it say of her that 'hungry people' were considerably lower on her list of considerations than the things the hunters bore? Likely nothing good. She could pretend to save herself of judgement, if pressed, by claiming her lady's hunger was her priority. She'd not be in the market, having a conversation with Paris, if it had not been.

Thoughts of Lady Salome ultimately lead to the conundrum of how to further support her without drawing her suspicious attention. Bargaining for lower prices on food ultimately bolstered both her purse and her pantry, but Jin-ae could no more address anything else about the maintenance of her person than she could fly.

A flash of revelation stilled her, briefly, attention drawn back to Paris, stopping her gaze at the curve of his cheekbone. She could not fly, this was true. But there were some who could, supposedly. Maybe this was similar.

"It is as the sea," she replied, trying to hold the feeling of her idea gently, lest it strangle, "but full of grass instead of water. Almost flattened to the eye." The memory of it from the door of the So house came clearly to mind. It had been beautiful, if dangerous. The horses would graze the grasses down to dust if allowed, but it started fires if it got too dry. It had been a balancing act, precarious in its execution. "There were great mountains in the distance, like teeth, but no taller than a thumb from where I lived." Careful not to call it home. Careful not to think too hard about how they'd been larger when she'd gone in to sit her exams, even though she hadn't cared for them then. They had been an unimportant border to a neighboring Province. Careful, not to think about what her life would have been if she had gone their direction instead. "It snows from the steppes to the peaks in the winder. I doubt it will happen here."

A laugh surprised her, springing free as if it had been waiting at the corner of her mouth. One hand followed behind, covering her mouth as though she might catch it. Surprise, at the surge of warmth in her, at the laugh, at her own distraction - it widened her eyes and pulled a flicker of anxious tension across her shoulders. Demurring immediately, Jin-ae brought her hands to her sides and bowed. She had not meant to laugh, and it wasn't funny. She was grateful for the increased space between them while she berated herself, eyes to the ground.

"Forgive me, I mean no insult. I know fashions to be different here, and leather has many uses." Many uses. The idea, root taken, grew. Perhaps, perhaps. Straightening, nerves still riding high and aware, intimately, of the magnitude of her decision, she glanced up at Paris and then at the street, turning slightly to contain their conversation. "It can be quite fashionable." Anahi had not been without its beauty, both natural and formed at the hands of the Blood. Biting her lip, she raised one open palm between them, and called in one of the few items that still remained to her from her life in Dhemlan, something only worn for celebrations greater than birthdays.

It was a hair piece, the leather thin but stiff, treated, shaped like a cuff with a bone pin through the two metal eyelets on either side of the curve. A pattern of blooming flowers had been carved into it, plum blossoms, accented by tiny brass beads stitched into the tooling. The pin was capped with a matching blossom in porcelain and short chain of pale green and blue beads. Precious stones, made expensive by time. "Leather lasts." She murmured. Lasted, traveled, endured.

Looking up, eyes to chin, she shrugged lightly in return. "It has not been required of me to see it. I trust your judgement." And maybe he would trust her, in turn, just a touch. And likely with convincing.

The fluttering edges of the ribbons teased her, drew her gaze back to the stall, even as her mind and heart sped along. One superficial seeming debate - ribbons verses books? - ran parallel to her turmoil - how to broach the subject with tact and discretion without raising further suspicions about her person. Because it would get back to Salome if she butchered it. It might anyway. It was bad enough that she couldn't address matters directly with her Lady.

"I am not," she agreed, "although I don't know what I would use them for." Not for herself, at least. Perhaps she could work on replicating some of the more elaborate fashions of the islands. Even after a year, Jin-ae was not as familiar with the intricacies of the styles worn above her station. She gave little thought to her wardrobe only in as much as it wouldn't embarrass or offender her masters. This had meant longer sleeves and pants around her Lady, but there were only so many concessions to be made with the island heat.

"A gift, perhaps? I know only Lady Salome, and not what she likes," Steeling herself, she brought her focus back to the arch of his cheek. It's only the first step. Only the first. Don't waiver because the path may be long. "Perhaps you would advise me?"
 

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