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[P]  The Missing Star

Offline Amatiel Aug 24 2020, 6:40 PM
#1
  • Corzya
  • Age: 41
  • Gender: Male
  • Race: Human
  • Rank: Slaver
  • Total Posts: 4
  • Played by: Isilzheha
145 Mana · View All Items?
The invitation Amatiel received a second time was far more formal, depending on how you looked at it.

This time it came in the form of written word, as crude as it was in comparison to some of the more elaborate and decorative text among supposedly more civilized folk. Amatiel assumed this was because of the loss of their previous messenger who had approached them through the haze of snowfall. Before they’d given their last breath the slaver managed to hear their message all the same. Kneeled in the bloodied snow, the wildland Snee pincushioned by arrows that made it difficult to speak, Amatiel bided his time. All the while the snowfarer begged and pleaded with trembling hands and a cracking voice from more than the pain and blood. A ceasefire, it could be described. The slaver and his crew had been hard at work making quick work of the indigenous clans in the Yuukon, a few of them tougher than others, but none so far had made any attempts at contact until this one.

It was curious at the very least. Amatiel obliged, and even in a sense of good faith brought the messenger’s body with him to where the clan had set up their village in the dreary winterized hellscape of the Yuukon. Not even the break of the trees and the rise of mountains in the taiga biome could make it seem as welcome as the lush jungles and forests of Gibrantt. The same could be said for most everywhere else in Gil’ead, by the standards of the pirate who had seen enough of it all. Amatiel was nonplussed by the blizzards or the howling winds, his crew less likely to rely solely on verbal communication. While it was not QSL, their gestures and usage of colored flags and whistles when they could be heard helped tremendously in a vast number of situations where their voices would do them no good.

Amatiel didn’t particular care one way or the other what the environment here was like; he knew what he was getting into. The only way he cared is if it caused an adjustment in his plans or preparations, or if the predetermined dangers would shift. Adaptability would be especially important here. So the slaver captain went to the village, silent and poised with several of his crew in tow, and brokered peace with the women who’d sought his attention. It was amusing at first how composed they were. Amatiel chose the indigenous Snees for a reason as opposed to ransacking a fishing village along the ice floes or going further inland to the bigger populations. He didn’t care to be so wasteful in bodies grabbed just for the quantity of it. In fact, he’d been pleasantly surprised when there was no ambush or attempt on their lives.

So he’d been offered gifts. None of them stood out as anything of interest until they mentioned their niece. A family member offered up like so much meat to take the burden off of the rest of them. The unknown, the fear of if and when they might not see their homes again, all of that was to be cleansed with the sacrifice of their own flesh and blood. Amatiel hadn’t seen her there, nor had they been able to introduce them, not that it held much sway in his opinion at first other than a renewed curiosity. Ultimately what had given the slaver pause was the desperate grab for leverage in the form of resources. These were things Amatiel could utilize and gain more longevity from. They offered their clansmen to help teach some of his crew more of the land in ways outsiders could never know: pathways unseen, how to be just as veiled as they while traveling, and everything else that accompanied it. The Snee women had created a rather large pot by the time they were finished discussing, and Amatiel accepted then and there.

That would grant their family and their villagers immunity, even some in neighboring ones, from the relentless persecution of their slavery and slaughter. Upon receiving the second correspondence that meant it wasn’t much of a surprise, though it was a means of finally meeting the one he’d been given for marriage. Amatiel hadn’t an interest in the concept other than it would have been a good way to bridge the gap of the deal he’d signed off on, but already there was a fog of obscurity surrounding the elusive woman. This entire thing was belated, and had even been delayed once or twice at the risk of evoking the slaver’s wrath. Amatiel didn’t have much of that, though his patience tended to adjust to the situation at hand. There was a time limit on this particular portion of it, after all, and now it had come at an inopportune time for him.

Still… Amatiel accepted. And that acceptance was encroaching on the already tense ties between himself and a potential business partner. If he’d thought he would lose it entirely the slaver would have ignored the request for presence, but it was far more interesting than what the buyer had to say in the meeting he was to attend. Amatiel was curious now more than ever with the prospect of interacting with this mystery woman, and therefore the meeting could easily be postponed.

This left the crew to hustle last minute in getting preparations thrown together for the expedition northwest, Amatiel confident in their ability to do so as he tended to his own affairs. If he was excited, it didn’t show. If he was furious at having been kept waiting for longer than should have been acceptable, it didn’t show. His bearded face was stoic as it often was, passively so, and broken only by the camaraderie of his people when the waters were calm and the winds fair. This time the ship would be empty of product, as it had been long since they offloaded before, and Amatiel was keen on ignoring the numbers that suggested they were losing money over this endeavor. He knew the worth of that coin for himself more than its generalization, but that didn’t seem to matter currently.

Upon arrival they’d been given a guide, Amatiel bringing one of his own as a means of interpretation. The blond-haired Eximian man was a visual representation of his secrecy, seeing as how Amatiel knew more than enough to understand the languages the Snees used. Knowing your enemy and your prey outside of just their weakness was, of course, equally as important to the pirate. The furs were warm and blocked the wind well enough, his hood drawn and long, black hair pinned up beneath it while still aiding in keeping his ears warm. They went as far as was respectfully possible, as bizarre as such a notion was, before the slaver stopped with Velibor beside him. Other than the glow of his scarlet red eyes the Exi was mostly human, what little mutation he did have buried beneath the layers that didn’t seem to be enough. He fidgeted and bounced on his heels in the snow next to Amatiel’s stillness in contrast, the two of them waiting silently to be received.
Offline Anyu Aug 24 2020, 11:04 PM
#2
  • Snelandia
  • Age: 27
  • Gender: Female
  • Race: Dire
  • Rank: Yuukon
  • Total Posts: 19
  • Played by: Onii
300 Mana · View All Items?
Ice, snow, and song. The butt of a hare and freshly-spun yarn, large woks covered by wooden tops. Floodboards pulled up meticulously at the corner of the kitchen to lay bare the earth beneath, and from there where the ice could not strike them before they'd ever grown, a vibrant garden sprouted out from her floor. Vines comprised of native herb to be used in a medical pinch, cotton for clothing and other plants used for material or natural dyes. A little home for a little creature, where the kitchen devoured the space and the rest of the home was like an afterthought. An alcove for a bedroom, a half-sized doorway off the side that gave way to a low-sitting bed among self-made lace accents and linens. And a long-necked box of wicker dyed black that was given its own cushion to sit on, inside it a musical heirloom carefully wrapped in linen to keep away the moisture. The deck was shoddy, worn and well-loved, the numerous patch jobs apparent in the way it pitched in some areas and buckled in others. Enlarged over time by its occupant for each year that her companion grew and grew. By now it was spacious enough that the massive Mammoth Bear could nestle in the blankets spun of yak and sheep, whose pelts had been procured over numerous travels to the nearest shepherd some miles away. A free partial shearing in exchange for the product, a symbioticism between farmer and Stranger.

She hadn't gone far, and the beast could see her from his place despite how the world around them was always screaming, whistling, plummeting their ears with white noise. Blinding white more often than it was still, such that his eyes had adjusted to spotting the faintest flicker of long red cloth tied around her neck like a proud flag.
Around them was an expanse. Barely disturbed earth, more a frozen desert than it ever was similar to the taigas or mountainside other similar places that had cover from the biting wind and snow. Crevices surrounded the tiny homestead in many directions, gorges that led below to frozen lakes that spanned for miles, home to predators that would devour a man whole. The starts of mountains began elsewhere, cruel cliffs that had cleverly had large pieces of wood hammered into their faces to provide impromptu footholds for the experienced climber. Red cloth yet again was nailed into the wood so as to draw the eye on where it was secure to climb. When the steps would grow faulty, the cloth would be removed and the defective step would be forgotten.

Abysses lay both in sight and beneath the forming ice. Like the slice of a knife and the skin that bridged the gap, freezing rain would over time come to build a deceptive scab across the expanse. But some, naturally, had split with a distance that left them gaping for as long as she could remember. At times, to walk around them until the fissure was but a stone's throw wide would take weeks' travel as opposed to leaping the gaps and hoping to make it across the wide mouth...so she jumped them. Many creatures would gather at the migration points and she was no different, where prey or foliage was more varied across Gilead's gash, the barren nowhere far less inviting for meals than the valleys and mountains that lay on the other side beyond the blinding-white horizon.

Harsh, unforgiving, with long days and forever nights, without an ounce of spring in sight, the bitter north was both a place to die and a place to thrive. For those who carried barrels of piping soup around their necks to both keep their breathing easy and to carry emergency resources, for those who clutched their hunting knives like all-purpose saviors, for those with wolven bodies capable of pushing through the dunes of snow, for those who know to gut their prey and use their steaming innards as a briefly-warm flame, The Frozen Unclaim was full of opportunity, despite how it refused to give it so easily. Places of renewable resources may have been scarce, and even prey were consistently on the move, but the wildland Dire of the Yuukon were designed to make do.

Even moreso would a woman need to do so if she were roosting alone, in strict isolation like she were atoning for sins..or for losses. Few knew where to find her, without a single (obvious) landmark to point them the way right to her doorstep. And yet each morning she would disappear into the ice and snow, bundled up and armed with her father's blade and warm provisions tucked against her body, and a large wicker harvest basket slung over her shoulder like a quiver of arrows might be.

At this moment, she had only been procuring fresh snow to add to a large pot waiting to be filled with the ingredients to make a soup. Packing as much of it into her tall shoulder basket as possible, The Stranger made as many trips as was necessary to reach the thickness she was intending for the finishing product. The stalks of plant that she'd harvested the innards from to add to her meal a week ago had been saved--as she discards very little--for this occasion, where after being soaked overnight and laid flat, the stalks would become useful edible wrappings that she could mold around the spices and hare meat to make dumplings in her soup.

Life went on.
If ever she'd fantastical stories to tell, her behavior was deceptively underwhelming. Adventure? Never for the sake of it, never a goal besides the ones that included finishing a cloak, or finishing a soup, or planting well sought-after seeds. A play a song on the erhu into the wind, following it in her head based only on the vibrations she felt in her fingers. Simple. Deceptively, despite the well-traveled man she'd come from. And in his wake, no longer did she travel atop his back or at his side, playing messenger between dynasties whose leaders lived infinitely beyond their own means. A bright man who wanted peace, altruistically, serving as a third-party with no real leg in the race.

And then, he was gone. And in his wake, the prior rulers had lost what they thought was an unbiased voice in their court. A man who chose to be no one, and for that was certainly not. Just like that, the light had gone out.

The matriarchs he'd left behind, aunts and joined family from a late mother, could have fought harder to keep his daughter close by. Instead she slunk away when she was of formidable age to do so and survive. They could have easily appealed to her emotionally, pine for her, guilt her even, to stay in the throng where her next step would ultimately be to find a suitor and continue yet another branch of the joined populous. Perhaps, in the grief and confusion she'd slipped out before they were able to start thinking about the "what next" of things.

And perhaps, despite the death of the man whose wishes it was to provide his daughter with autonomy concerning her company, the matriarchs would have allowed her to remain isolated and lost. ...Perhaps, had they not a reason to suddenly remember that she was alive, fit, and very viable.
A fair woman and skilled homemaker--but by The Unclaim's standards, they'd said. She cooked (as any "proper Snelandian" regardless of gender) and crafted and killed, a resourceful wild animal with an implied background of her father's, what with having traveled between the dynasties alongside him many times since her youth. They didn't look like royalty but they had historic connections with them, the matriarchs had told their attackers. The wildland dire were by no mistake formidable foes in the ice and snow and hadn't gone down easy, relying on visual cues from allies that allowed them utilize their often-light coats to sneak up individuals without needing to verify whether they were friend or foe by wasting time with a hard look. There were no "civilians" among them aside from the incredibly young or incredibly old. But, as always, to their misfortune the use of Corzyan hounds had pointed the way to many of the hard-to-see Dire, dragging them out from their hunkered positions and ripping them limb from limb. Coupled with the reality that their territory had been largely protected from much of the icy wind as it was surrounded by hills and taller slopes of snow, it meant that while it may have been difficult to see the clans from a distance, it was impossible to miss them once the enemy stepped into their settlement. A lethal caveat to living away from the white, roaring blizzards. And so, despite all their best efforts, they were left knelt in the snow making deals with the devil.

Anyu had heard briefly about it. In a letter, tethered to the throat of a Saber she recognized and he who recognized her. He'd come on a day where the storms were mild, and and he could easily make the voyage alone. His scars were new, but his eyes were old.
It was incredibly formal in nature, and despite that it had been incredibly direct. Somewhere, it was a request, and yet it also was not. She was to be wed, the conditions of which were precise--as always from her--down to the very verbatim quotes in which the author said had been signed and agreed on before the time of writing this letter. There was a chance to say no. There was always a way to say no for people like them, and yet...if she thought anything of the matter other than that it was the way things had to be, it certainly did not show. Aside from the brief sit down she'd had on the self-made deck, nestled in her papasan chair lined with wool and lace, her hands tired of stitching and pearling the yarn on her knitting needles, coming away to sign the thoughtful words 'Do you think he will come with many, as cowards do? A kingdom to protect him from a single blade...' where the large companion watched with expressive eyes from his lazy bundle of animal furs. He let out a large huff that seemed to shrink him two sizes down.

Again, life went on.

She was aware of when to expect him down to the very day. Hesti came by ahead of the meeting, tracking the scent of the far larger companion nestled in his favorite resting place. The ursine inhabitants had a far easier time of it than others who might try to track a scent in a snowstorm, and that gift had been the only trustworthy way to reliably find the woman's wherabouts despite how easily it was to lose the nondescript whereabouts. Yet another letter, this time a different author, the tone slightly more...appropriate from one who had watched the receiver grow up, had once held her in her own arms. A small allowance even then, for this one was just as precise as the first she'd gotten a while ago.

She'd finished preparing her meal. The dumplings were pulled from the thick soup and set aside, the previously-tasteless green stalks now a mouth-watering golden orange, the same color as the vibrant soup that had slow cooked it and the dumpling filling through and through. Diced carrot, leek, potato and mint that she'd procured from a repeat vendor a day's away riddled the pumpkin-colored broth, as did the dehydrated flakes of red spice. Chicken had also been diced in as close as cubes as possible, meticulous work, and the birds too had to be procured from a distant source. Because of the nature of his livestock, the farmer scarcely went far from the woodlands of The Unclaim, which had left The Stranger voyaging out nearly two weeks ahead of time to procure some birds and guard her wicker basket from the ice and snow as she spirited the still-alive birds back to her home. From there they'd lived with her, walked down the same floors as her, temporary roommates until it had been the night before, when she had to kill them without hesitation. Living with her food was a fact of life when living in conditions too harsh to keep it outside, and when the providers were days away--too far away to simply make an impulsive trip over.

What was going on in her head all this time? Even right now, as the final moments approached her? It seemed like her head was empty of all thoughts on it, despite how she could fight and could certainly be a worrisome opponent, despite how she knew these lands well enough that she could flee and not be found. Despite how her autonomy was stripped, and decisions were made on her life in a way that especially smote a Snelandian--a Corzyan, no less. It seemed contradicting that she'd prepared a soup overnight, its boil a slow crawl, its meat succulent and its array of flavor well thought out. Contradicting that she'd made cherry blossom tea out of the remaining leftover blossoms she'd picked that was waiting to be poured, kept hot by the small fire beneath it. Hospitality was deceiving, but only a fool would think this was a situation with simple perspectives and simple solutions.

Hesti came again, just as the letter had told her he would. Waiting for him and the ones he'd guided there was the titan covered in hair dark like bark, blackening at his face and hide like stripes in a dark configuration that was rare for these parts. And two green eyes striking against the dark earth of his face, the splitting scar above the left one telling a story of a blade that unfortunately had not cut deep enough to have kept the gargantuan away from the m o n g r e l ' s throat that thought to fight him. Hesti wouldn't go far, the light sandy bear's gait slowing gradually as the eerily-tiny house braving the whipping winds came into well enough view that he was unnecessary. Mostly it was the way that the large maned beast on its porch pushed himself out from under his quilts and stood to greet them with a raised skull the side of a large man's chest that had halted him. The large and more mature ursine left Hesti uneasy by design, and for good reason.

He watched, but did not move. Still, the fact that he'd stood at all was equivalent enough an indication of distrust as much as a snarl would have been in a dog. He had a tendency to strike with no greater warning than this.

She could hear the creak of the wood porch if not practically feel some shift of the floor even from the kitchen when he stood. Being in the storm was nothing like having it around you. In one you were totally forgotten, utterly voiceless, stripped of sight and even at times breath. With one around you it was like the eye of a hurricane. Peaceful, a different world where one's ears were suddenly far more adept as though they'd been trained to be sensitive in silence. For her, anyway, it was silent indoors. And for that reason she could hear the faintest commotion on her porch, and that had been enough to draw her away from her setting of empty dishes on the small-but-solid wood table set in the center of the room. Stepping into the front room and to the front door, the woman reflexively pulled her coat, cloak and scarf from the rack at the right-hand side and slipped into them swiftly like a second skin.

And for a second she froze, her hand hovering at the knob like it never had before. For a second, two, maybe three more than ever, before she gripped the brass and turned.

First she reached to the large hide obstructing a large part of her view. Her hands came together against his skin, 'Loup' a simple signing of his name, the movements in which a creature as sensitive as a bear could easily memorize just as easily as he might memorize the sound of his name itself. A voiceless grasp of his attention, nothing more, and with tact he stepped aside to give her space. But she neither scolded nor told him not to remain alert. Pirates were what they were, after all.

Hesti by now had gone the way he'd come, eager to be free of what tension not even a knife could cut. The Stranger however, either blind to that tension or hunting it down, stepped out onto her deck without seeming further hesitation.

There was a slow gait to how she moved, bare feet on the wood that she couldn't hear but could feel creak against her bones. It wasn't the same as staring at a woman waiting for conversation; it was like looking at an animal, some wild thing waiting to see how it should behave. R e a c t. Her green eyes were wild but not chaotically so, her long dark hair tethered by a red sash that kicked in the wind. Her hands, previously resolute at her sides (relevant body language for a Sneelandian), had slowly come up with unfurled fingers, hovering almost feebly at her stomach. It was a small bit of hesitation as she looked between the two men at a distance, finally raising them at the optimal height in which Snelandians spoke, up at her chest; 'Which is the Slaver?' Her question may have been for an obvious reason, of course; a betrothed woman naturally seeking to identify the man she was meant to marry...or, it may have been so that she could better size them up and add their rank to their forms, their formidability, the possibility of striking them down and being sure to strike down the most important one if her life was to come to an end swiftly after.

The Unclaim bred no simple creatures with simple answers.
Offline Amatiel Aug 25 2020, 7:18 AM
#3
  • Corzya
  • Age: 41
  • Gender: Male
  • Race: Human
  • Rank: Slaver
  • Total Posts: 4
  • Played by: Isilzheha
145 Mana · View All Items?
Time moved differently in the Yuukon than it did in the Western dynasty or even the East. Familiarity begets routine, an important structure for those without structure to begin with. With it came adaptability in ways, by Amatiel's observations and standards, that the Western and Eastern Snelandians could only hope to dream of. The human counted himself among them, once upon a time, living in the village that he did within the territory to the West. He'd seen for himself how the armies were comprised of some of the fiercest warriors, how the beggars on the streets could hardly be called beggars with how well they navigated their circumstances. There was a grace in acceptance of those circumstances, chins up and spines rigid no matter the status they did or didn't have. It wasn't as cold nor as harsh as the rest of Snelandia by all accounts, comparable to the fluctuating of Dorsum from what he'd seen, and there were plenty of privileges even in poverty. Of course Amatiel had experienced the Unclaim here, and the relentlessly persistent nature therein.

It paled in comparison to the savage wilds further north. The warriors with all of their armor ane weaponry would just as easily perish as one from the indigineous clans merely making the wrong decision in something so small as where to place your feet when walking upon the ice. The Yuukon didn't favor anyone or anything in her embrace, just as it was for nature everywhere in Gil'ead, but it was its own space between worlds. Amatiel was quiet when they'd arrived, and he was quiet even now when he and Velibor trekked to the outside borders of the village nestled in the expanse of wide-open snow drifts. They'd been taken along the most traveled mountain passes, Amatiel could tell, and he didn't mind the climb nor the descent to where the indigineous clan had nestled themselves. It was quaint and plentiful even in its scarcity, the pirate and his companion having seen it well before they closed the miles it took to actually arrive.

He was quiet even when they were received in blatant hesitation, the ramrod tension palpable as it had been when his crew descended upon the recently discovered settlement like vultures to carrion. Amatiel let Velibor speak on his behalf even as he followed the conversation with brief glimpses to the carefully moving hands that spoke louder than the wind in their ears. Ice had started to form crystals of contrasting white from the moisture of his breath in his beard, and while the chill bit against whatever exposed skin of his face he had the slaver was deceptively still and calm. He could tell it was making them squirm within their skin, a man and woman he knew to be an aunt and uncle of his intended introduced them to their new guide, one that wasn't standing on two legs. Amatiel looked over the sandy-coated ursine with a single glance that told him all that he needed to know. The beast would not act on its own, doing as it was told, so to have him join their travels was acceptable.

Amatiel didn't feel fear, though there was a healthy amount of apprehension when they were expected to travel even further than the watchful village. Many were lost to the Unclaim and it wouldn't bat an eye. Beneath the wicked claws of the bears and the jutting teeth of sabers was just one of many ways such an end would come. Now would have been an appropriate time to put an end to the deal that had been brokered when the pirate captain was only with one of his crew. Amatiel could see, beyond the two who exchanged words with Velibor, that there were several standing at the fronts of their huts ready to protect what or who was within. No doubt killing the two visitors would be an easy feat if they were to set numbers against them, but he knew they would not be so foolish after coming all this way on their knees. His people would have descended upon the clan with a vengeance that was unnatural when set next to the balance of nature. They would rip across the Yuukon and hunt down the rest of them if they fled, cutting down any in between. He never asked them to display such ferocity and cruelty, but they would have done it nonetheless.

Nothing more needed to be said, and in no time at all they were putting the settlement at their backs to continue on. The more ground they covered, the more crags they bypassed or scaled over with vigorous bounds, the pirate was beginning to think they might be reaching the very end of the world. Their guide knew the way, and kept his distance with a watchful eye partially focused upon them, and the only sound that might have filtered through the monotony was the grumblings of the Eximius. Not even these Amatiel responded to, no wandering thoughts stealing his attention from the perilous path before them. It was the seclusion of someone who didn't wish to be found, but didn't mind if they were. A confidence could be seen in the placement of the home that finally found their sight, silent and victorious. At the front of the even more modest abode a dark shape started to gain detail, their guide suddenly becoming restless and lingered at a distance on shifting paws that had the two stopping on instinct.

There were questions no doubt at this point, all of which slowly started to circulate within the slaver's mind when they'd found even ground and no longer worried of making the wrong choice in footing. Amatiel watched the much larger bear rise up from where the lumbering frame had been lowered on the deck, Velibor giving pause and a searching look to his captain's face as if it might hold answers to his unspoken questions. The human made no move for his weapons beneath the furs he wore, nor did he flinch away from the imposing figure that guarded the homestead. As much silence as the Yuukon ever had to offer became heavier than the ice and snow blanketing it all, Amatiel taking stock of what he could see of the home belonging to the one he'd been invited to meet. Their guide had completed his task, and the slaver didn't take his eyes away from the ursine that stared them down while the other eagerly left them to return.

Velibor hovered at his side with uncertainty, hands freed in preparation of whatever this meeting might become, and he waited for whatever cues he could pick up from his captain. Amatiel's body was hidden away beneath the furs, his arms hanging idle with no blind and paranoid move for his blades when the door finally opened. Into the frigid open air stepped the Snelandian woman, her own companion shuffling to the side with ease of trust. Amatiel was looking at her now, the bear suddenly an afterthought. A single, sighted gold eye turned over her with scrutinizing appraisal when she stopped at the edge of the deck, bare toes curling into the wood to disperse the slight weight. She was soft in the face, a pleasantness about it that was captivating in all the ways a slaver might expect to feel when looking upon some prized possession. Amatiel was a man before he was a slaver. His subtle admiration was not because of the value she might hold to someone who sought to own her.

The grit in her eyes clashed with the beauty, but complimented the wildness she exuded. Her hands were raised to her midsection before rising even further than that to ask a blunt question regarding just who was who beyond the formalities of a name. Velibor glanced to Amatiel again after the translation, but he'd not looked away from the one who spoke just yet. No confirmation of any kind was just what the Eximius needed to raise his own hands. 'Technically both of us,' he signed, the smallest cheeky quirk of his lips smoothing out almost as quickly as it happened, 'but he is the captain.' Before his hands had stopped moving Amatiel was starting to walk forward, confidence woven into each step that brought him closer to lifting himself up onto the deck with the much smaller woman.

'This is Amatiel,' Velibor signed as he approached in much the same fashion, 'and I'm Velibor.' Their names might have already been known as much as their oncoming visit, but Amatiel allowed him the introductions. He'd caught the Dire's eyes when they flicked between the two pirates at her doorstep, the tension far more oppressive here than it had been back where the clan called home. "I would call it a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance," he said as Velibor's hands moved in the corner of his eye where he purposefully stood on the right of him, "but I do not wish to assume that pleasure is shared." It naturally wouldn't be, just given the situation, and Amatiel was no fool to think that she ever might share that sentiment with him. She'd been a pawn in the thick of it without even knowing that she was, way out here tucked away from it all. She'd missed the way the slavers rounded up her clanmates in the center of their settlement, a multitude of weapons leveled at them or against them. She'd also missed the somber return of their fallen messenger, but he knew that she knew.

Beneath the general mistrust she no doubt felt was an animosity that had a temper of its own when looking upon them both yet was carefully guarded in her own manner of stoicism. Amatiel dipped his chin in a slow partial bow as finally his gaze slid away to look into the scarred face of the bear. "Might you invite us in now? To warm ourselves and speak," he said after a pause, focus finding the Dire woman's face yet again. Only this time there was a different look within his eye, one that was difficult to read. A threat, an imploring, an impatience; all of it and none of it. It was an expectant and pointed look at the very least.
Offline Anyu Aug 28 2020, 8:25 PM
#4
  • Snelandia
  • Age: 27
  • Gender: Female
  • Race: Dire
  • Rank: Yuukon
  • Total Posts: 19
  • Played by: Onii
300 Mana · View All Items?
The stillness of her expression was a fitting symptom to the wasteland around her. Not cold, nor warm; nothing. Existing only to gather and apply, to the understand the full extent of environment set before her. She was wild in that way, at least at the moment, but not in a way that suggested she was violent without context. Capable? Just as sure as the beast she'd ushered away with a mere touch. But if she'd planned on something--unprompted--she would have done it immediately.

Instead, she asks her guests a question. She could have asked so many different quests though, of course; why are you doing this? why won't you leave my people alone? what are your intentions for them?
For me?
The question she did ask had a simple answer. One short, and sweet. 'Technically both of us,' Though the answer was almost comically not as simple as the question itself. He eyes flitted between their faces back to back at that, although the Snee's skilled eyes still read what else was said in her periphery; 'but he is the captain.' Then, the one speaking to her now seemed inconsequential by design. A plot device almost, to nudge her swifter to the man who she bore a hole through with her unfaltering gaze. Such a steep drop waited the end of the chopping block when it came to her. It was clear to her that he addressed her in QSL, though the "captain" had not. Naturally, any native speaker of an elusive tongue would assume that fluent individual was a mere translator.
Born to a place where ears were stripped of their worth, The Stranger relied on her eyes and the way they perceived the tiniest visible clues in lieu of being able to hear the twinge in a voice or the way something was said. Even if she had no indication of having noticed some small morsel of behavior, the wild animal's grasp of some sentiment could go unseen at times until she revealed her understanding of it. In this particular moment, she watched the translator as he corrected her--they were both slavers. He was not a hired individual from a far land, nor a Snelandian enslaved and used for his multilingual status. For this reason, she hadn't originally planned on responding, but once the 'captain' had parted ways with the other, she was pushed to respond. Her neutral and resolute expression wouldn't change, a typical disconnect between face and hands where she was concerned, the signage 'of course you are. it seems mandatory of all corzyans to traffick, and kill, and rape. I suspect at times it is even in that order. Desecration of corpse. I merely meant, by that, the i m p o r t a n t one.' exceptionally smooth and without the cutting passion of her hands that would suggest aggression. The definition of "important" could either have pointed to the default position of wildland Dire--to seek the alpha among their company--or, more relavant to her situation, it could have referred to the man she was meant to marry.

Her eyes were now locked on the man that approached her, her posture unchanged and her hands still signing without fear under the understanding that he could not understand her, and that his separation from the one who could allowed her a space to speak her mind callously on the matter. Smooth, calm, and as though based in fact. A seemingly fearless recounting of any old tidbit of information. The word "important" was emphasized with an even slower dance of her fingers, each letter spaced out and individually signed rather than the single gesture used for the entire word. Forgoing the conjoined gesture assigned to a word or idea in exchange for the separate letters that made it up was a behavior reserved for emphasis, of in which the point of said emphasis depended on the context. In this particular case, it was as good a guess for any.

She was aware of her position. She knew she'd been offered to a Slaver to marry, and she had not nor did she openly plan to resist that fate. Her position may have appeared meek, the same as the lifestyle she lived; reserved, domestic in nature, soft and ideal for a fate such as this. Not only was she the matriarchs' choice because of her connection to her father's legacy (should that background have been worth something to a man who built himself around the quality of his prey), but she was culturally of a ripe age to marry, none too old, and she was well-skilled. Skilled enough to live in the harsh white winds on her own, skilled enough to build and cook and clean and survive. There had been other women closer to home that the matriarchs could have pressured the parents into offering up, but many were well in their 20s, climbing to their 30s, or they had temperaments that were not deemed as...suitable, for the job. Be this that they would be too consumed in fear to perform, or that they lacked a tepid touch to them like well-tempered mares, it varied based on the individuals. Some were more warrior than wives, a status that exempted them from arranged marriage whether by age or by temperament, and while Anyu had been poised with that opportunity herself they'd decided that she hadn't worn her ferocity bare enough on her shoulders to be counted among them. She was still viable, she was the most viable, and coupled with some unseen biases the sisters of her father may have had at a distance, she was the only viable option.

That calmness they counted on with her, that almost-malleable behavior, was not to distract from the reality that she was still a wild animal, and she was still here, distanced by her people in some personal exile, and had built her own home from the ground up with her own two hands and a bear. Her lack of experience showed in the way the home was structured, certainly not something that a mainland carpenter would ever have built, the proportions of the rooms strange and seemingly impulsive. Repairs were common to be needed here and there, reinstating new nails into boards peeled away by the wind or shoving cotton in holes before patching them so that the wind would not still seep through. It was not incredibly often she'd had anyone else in her home save herself and Loup who would not go further than the front room, and if she had it was most commonly her sister when she could make the trek to visit in lieu of their incredibly consistent letters. This fact came to the glaring forefront of her mind when finally the captain was standing directly before her, and she contemplated whether the mismatched heights of her ceiling would support him. Soon, the other, and then their names. As a custom, she signed their names in response to be sure she could repeat the personal gestures. In response, she offers them her own. 'Anyu.' It was a nimble gesture between both hands, with one acting as the foundation and the other sprouting up like the interpretation of a flower from soil. A motion similar to the sort for the actual word itself was borrowed in part.

"I would call it a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance," He chose to speak, and her eyes were drawn to him for good. Loup had not moved from where she'd eased him away from the door, but his eyes had almost on cue locked onto the taller man just as Anyu had done the same. The smallest shift in her body the followed her eyes indicated to the sensitive titan which to keep an eye on. Her body was a weapon in that regard, a typical fact for the Snelandians who'd grown up around the heavy "bear and cat country" culture that led to those close bonds being forged between species. She'd directed him with far less even in chaotic exchanges, signing unnecessary. "but I do not wish to assume that pleasure is shared." Anyu followed the signing in her periphery for much of it, because she couldn't quite hear much of it in her ears. She understood English well enough, though some things escaped her, and many terms unrelated to Snelandian reality were completely unknown though he'd not used any thus far. The subtitles were helpful.

She did not respond to this, but a soft downward flicker of her eyes was noted, a brief fall into her own thoughts before rising back up to his gaze. "Might you invite us in now? To warm ourselves and speak," A twitch of a brow greeted him in response. It was faint, barely intentional (so it seemed) like a spasm more than anything else. She heard a demand. For a moment she stood there, her hands--previously available at her midsection--gliding down to her sides. Resolute. After a tense moment, one of her feet broke from their place like she'd been unfrozen from the wood beneath her. A glance to Loup called him forward just as she turned, and bravely she turned her back to them with the understanding that the large Mammoth Bear would have theirs just as quickly as they might have hers. At that she grasped the knob of the wide door and peeled it away from the threshold, briskly easing herself into the far warmer climate indoors. In reality it was quite cold and poorly insulated, but in comparison to the white winds outside it felt exactly like stepping into a warm and hospitable place. The door was wide enough for Loup to fit through with some expert finagling, although the front room was the only one whose ceiling was high enough to house him. Even then he was best left hunkered down on the handmade throw pillows on the floor. The room had been built with him in mind, and much of the time had been taken to build a ceiling high enough to support his rise and fall. The entire home was jerryrigged without much astute attention towards stability and consistency. The entire structure seemed to creak as the bear shifted over to his designated indoor resting place, the walls in places even feeling as though they were budging just a hair. From where he was now perched, framed by a small tattered loveseat and wicker chairs, Loup's piercing eyes could see the small dinner table without moving. By now, Anyu had no longer noticed such things.

She turned now to her invaders, a great many things nagging at her gut. She could count the number of their infractions on both hands already, and yet the complexity of the situation had her rolling over and accepting it. She had not realized how large Amatiel was until she'd seen him in the context of her home, and the barely-there double-take she'd made once she turned was like an animal flinching at home much closer a threat had been than they'd originally anticipated. '...Now you are i n.' she signs to the dead air, the meaning of that obscure but not likely cordial. After all, he'd invited himself. A slight to her people, their customs positioning their homes and territory close to their chest--as with many wildland Dire, no matter if they were Snelandian or born all the way in Khogate. It was appropriate that a visitor sooner freeze to death waiting to be invited than to suggest or demand they be invited.
But a Snelandian in her position only expects violation.

'..I have soup,' she announces, the informal and colloquial gesture for "soup" indicating how beloved the item was, '..and tea.' The words were spaced more than her normal pace, than the normal pace of most QSL-fluent individuals, her hands slower mid-gesture in some places than others like she was only just learning the language...or like it was hard to get the words out. It spelled uncertainty. Begrudging, maybe.
She doesn't wait for either of them to accept. It was not custom that she would ever need to, because that was the toll of any visitor to an indigenous Snelandian's home. You ate as you were given it, and you complimented it just as easily as you might remove your shoes at the door when stepping into another's home.
So, she stepped into the kitchen without concern of where they'd gone and had begun setting a third bowl and saucer down for the soup and dumplings. The ceiling was much lower than the previous room's but still would clear the tallest man's head--barely, but nonetheless. If truly he wished to speak, then he would at the kitchen table.
Offline Amatiel Aug 29 2020, 3:32 AM
#5
  • Corzya
  • Age: 41
  • Gender: Male
  • Race: Human
  • Rank: Slaver
  • Total Posts: 4
  • Played by: Isilzheha
145 Mana · View All Items?
Comparison between cultures could be made as easily as judgment upon a first impression, and even those within their own societies would turn against their own people for one reason for another. It wasn’t an inevitable or even the most expected outcome of individual differences, but it was a natural occurrence nonetheless statistically speaking. Amatiel’s gravitation away from Snelandia’s warm West and surrounding wastelands had been situational, circumstantial, and decisions had to be made in those moments to continue dancing to survival’s tune. Just like a wildland Dire would have to deal with the monsters beneath the ice when fishing they would flee or fight, no thought behind it just action. Or how a merchant in the streets within the safety of the glass dome would have to decide if they would turn a better profit elsewhere in the city, perhaps even a surrounding village or by traveling. They could easily lose a day’s worth of work and then some by wasting too much time. As honorable as the West is known to be, the slaver was already condemned the moment his village was turned upon - not from the infamous Cöryzans with their hounds but his own people. Whether they supported the views of the Emperor or the values of the dynasty it didn’t matter. They’d laid waste not only to a woman and her two children, but several others equally as innocent. Amatiel didn’t find any honor in those things.

As the years passed and the environment changed so did the definition of ‘honor’ to the now pirate captain. Embittered and dragged through the darkness it’d come out the other side objectively selfish and twisted. The pain and the emptiness, Magic notwithstanding, had been enough for a broken man to damn the rest. So his knowledge of his people was spun in his favor to achieve his own goals, just as the knowledge of how viable this wild woman was gained favor of the villagers who wished to preserve their people. Amatiel had been given no such hesitation, and yet it was far more beneficial to do so with what had been offered. Standing now at the edges of this Snee’s property in the roaring winds that hissed with the movement of icy flecks the slaver found himself looking at an aspect of that deal. She was objectified and not altogether, a level of neutrality reflexively defaulted and reserved for the unknowns Amatiel faced. He knew as much as he didn’t, especially regarding this woman, but it was clear there was a feisty nature that was not surprising. Though it was hardly animated in her body language, even down to the movement of her hands. Amatiel glanced to them when they moved, venom in the enunciation that was painfully slow at times.

Velibor was one of the three translators Amatiel employed that didn’t know of his ability to follow most conversations perfectly fine. It wasn’t so much a total lack of trust in the Eximius but a knowledge of how he conducted himself in general that didn’t quite align with a need for utter secrecy unless otherwise stated. Amatiel didn’t react to the vehemence that he saw through the faint white haze, though Velibor did. It came in the form of his head nearly tossed back, a laugh escaping between his lips to be eaten by the wind, as Amatiel began to peel away from his side. He felt the Dire’s eyes boring into him as much as he saw it with his one, so much unseen nuance in the approach of who many of Cöryzans considered a “savage dog”. A woman well within her element and with the ability to rip him limb from limb should she so desire to. ‘She says all of us pirates have a penchant for fuckin’ corpses. Says it’s ingrained in who we are,’ Velibor translated without the use of his hands, speaking loud enough that Amatiel could just barely hear him. He had his own penchants, one of them being exaggerating the messages he was translating depending on just who he was talking to. ‘Don’t worry, I made sure she knew who the ‘important’ one is.’ Velibor had walked close enough to lower his voice, though Amatiel didn’t particularly need the elaboration for the colorful words.

The home itself left much to be desired, anyone who looked long enough could see that just from the outside. If set side by side with the homes of the Dire’s clan the contrast would likely be jarring even in its acceptable state. Amatiel had been in estates larger than a good portion of his shop, walked through palaces that could make the dynasties envious, and traded in bazaars that had any and everything one could dream of. This home was built from scratch, or there’d been little help, just observing the portions of the deck that looked both new and old. The windows were not even, as most of it was asymmetrical and disproportionate, and it was obvious there were newer additions made than what the Dire started with. Amatiel kept those thoughts and questions to himself, the same as the flicker of amusement at the bold words. Velibor confirms their signed names and gives the slaver the woman’s when her hands swept through the air in an easy motion that appeared to signify growth. Anyu. At least he’d not been lied to thus far in something so trivial.

There was more than looks Amatiel could admire in just what he’d seen outside of the home with the large bear guarding over his companion with as much stillness as she. Amatiel could have pretended as if things were normal, perhaps even amicable given the nature of the agreement, but he saw no benefit in that route. Because of this his knowledge of Dire didn’t seem to matter as he encroached on one’s territory, well aware of her limitations even at the front door of her most personal space, and instead decided to test the strength of those borders. It was also a prodding at her resolve, and Amatiel was not alarmed when her arms fell to her sides and she continued to stare with a harder edge as if she might not invite them in after all. In this instance that resistance would have been accepted, for a time, even if his aloof disposition in this situation came across as subtly forceful. Amatiel met her green eyes, stared back into them expecting an answer one way or another, and already adjusted to the coldness that was not entirely blamable on the environment.

Finally she moved, Velibor growing restless besides Amatiel as he swiped at his nose and continued to bounce on his feet. With a modicum of respect for space when it would surely be robbed from them all soon the pirate allowed for the massive ursine to follow Anyu inside before doing the same. Amatiel carefully ducked his head to get through the uneven door frame, and was immediately met with a sense of quiet as the outside world was brought to a dull roar. The home practically breathed with each gust, Velibor heaving out a contented sigh with the change that tapered off into his eagerness to be rid of the snow-covered outer layers. Amatiel merely watched the Snee woman walking through her own space, which wasn’t much to begin with. By all accounts this was a rickety old abode that would be equated with someone living in squalor, but as he turned his head to absorb all that he could Amatiel felt it was anything but. Especially if she’d isolated so far out away from her clan and survived anyways.

His hands lifted up to pull back his hood, the gloves removed and fingers curling until the man already began to make himself comfortable. Amatiel knew he didn’t belong, but things were already set in motion and his curiosities were still stoked. He imagined he could have ultimately just taken what he wanted without such peace talks, and he could even attempt to do so now, but it was too early to tell if he had just successfully been stalled. Before entering completely Amatiel had rid the boots of as much snow as possible, removing them first to cross the threshold and take stock of the space he did have. The home didn’t feel claustrophobic but it was certainly… humble. Becoming uncomfortable at the size of the place or lack of space would show an entitlement that Amatiel didn’t have or even feel he had. After all, it was not built with someone like him in mind, and the modifications were suited for the bear who situated himself in an advantageous position.

Piece by piece the pirates removed some of their layers, just enough to be comfortable, and Velibor rubbed his hands together to breathe into them. Amatiel merely pulled a hand over his beard to remove some of the moisture, nostrils flaring with a slow breath that pulled in the most dominant smell of chicken marinated in broth of various vegetables. The fire had warmed the interior some, and Amatiel felt the difference no matter how slight it actually was. Without intention behind it and simply the lack of space in the main room it left them standing near one another, Amatiel’s weapons still on his person but his posture was as relaxed as it could be. Once more Anyu spoke, the human looking out of consideration even under the assumption of his ignorance, and Velibor pushed air through his nose. ‘She’s being audacious again, saying we’re inside now,’ the Exi explained.

Amatiel looked around him, bypassing the bear this time and looking beyond the Snee. “So we are,” was all he said, hands coming together behind him. He was the guest here, and while there was certainly the innate temptation to gauge his surroundings properly, Amatiel awaited Anyu's lead. Velibor started to wander to the other side of the sitting room, searching the poorly coated walls that groaned and creaked. Still he kept the woman in sight to track any movement of her hands, glancing to Amatiel who finished looking to return his focus to their host. ‘..I have soup ..and tea.' The slaver quirked a brow and turned his head to Velibor as he paused in leisurely step around an armchair, awaiting the translation. Once it was given the Eximius continued back around to where they were, tacking on, ‘Is it people soup?’ Amatiel could have checked him, or inquired as to what was said for show, but he chose not to and waited to see Anyu’s response. It came with the same level of flatness that Anyu had used before, matched step for step and hand gestures fluidly calm.

Once more she was spinning on her heel, into the kitchen, and Velibor fell into step at his flank when the pirate captain finally moved. Amatiel was aware of the ursine, but he became part of the furniture as much as Velibor did being a mouthpiece. He ducked his head upon entering through the shorter than average doorway, the necklaces he wore no longer bound by the heavy furs and some of them clinking together softly. Some were gifted by those in his village, others made by his children in plain contrast of craftsmanship, while there were a few taken from the spoils over the years. It was rare any of that returned to him or Amatiel took them for himself, all of it considered of more worth being sold or traded than kept for materialistic reasons. If by sentiment or old habits, their decoration among his other jewelry was easily to be assumed as a byproduct of his lifestyle. Amatiel took the opposite seat, looking every bit as if he belonged now, and the Eximius quickly followed suit.

Velibor looked far more enthusiastic and expressive, even after the blatant insinuation. Soup was as prized to those in the wildlands as gold was to those on the mainland or even on Gibrantt. “We look forward to it,” Amatiel said finally, acknowledging the expected serving of the soup. Admittedly after the long journey it smelled especially delicious, weariness from the cold and the climb an unwelcome sensation. “Why have you chosen to live out here and not with the rest of your clan?” It was asked with a measure of interest that was unmistakable, Amatiel attentive as his fingers folded on top of the table.
Offline Anyu Aug 29 2020, 6:49 PM
#6
  • Snelandia
  • Age: 27
  • Gender: Female
  • Race: Dire
  • Rank: Yuukon
  • Total Posts: 19
  • Played by: Onii
300 Mana · View All Items?
She watched their exchange a cutting flick of her gaze between them, much of the words drowned out from the distance between them and her. Her stare ultimately settled on the Slaver's face waiting for even the tiniest indication that he'd been told something he unsavory that he'd been prepared to react to. When nothing came, the tiniest narrow of her eyes followed.

She was no fool. Her people very seldom were, as those who h a d been were simply wiped out long before coming of age. She felt the tension, the encroachment, the debasement of her personal space and will. Irony insisted the smallest out of all of them, the youngest out of all of them, be the bigger person; in order to save many lives for many generations to come...as long as she was alive to see that through. No amount of her believed they would ever keep their side of this overnight bargain, and despite how she was certain she'd been thrown into a pit by a people so desperate that they did not see how they were set up for betrayal, Anyu went with it nonetheless. Her reasoning was that it may buy them time, and there was some benefit to being trapped in a place where she could see the oppressor's every move. It was advantageous to be able to send letters of warnings ahead of attacks.

So, she tolerated the disrespect. In time, the dynamic (or lack thereof) would make it all the more easy to disappear when the time came, and the near decade she would do so would be without remorse or second thought. And it might also foster much more, as The Stranger was no stranger to grudges.

When in her home she did not pause with them at the door and hang her winter clothing. She kept it on, despite how any other day she would have swiftly shed it. Instead she practically clung to it, a remnant of familiar isolation--the only privacy she felt she had left, however long even this much would last. The frost-touched fur of her coat framed her throat protectively as she walked forward to put some distance between her and them before she made yet another address.

‘She’s being audacious again, saying we’re inside now,’ she wasn't certain of the meaning of that word, but she was not stupid and the context surrounding the use of 'audacious' told her enough such that she raised her chin just a touch. Was it not her home? For the people of ice and snow, the definition of what was kind and what was defiant changed entirely according to the owner of the property. If the laws of her were that hospitality came with jaws around a throat, that was the relative definition there. There was no need for a "special definition" for how she was behaving, she rather thought. It was, and is.
“So we are,” She may not have been the wisest or most intellectually-advanced creature they'd met, but The Stranger was designed to survive the harsh parameters of her world. That world demanded she be observant, and already she had established that one pirate did not share the same modicum of indecency as the other. Rest assured she knew it was there, waiting, being held back or teased just so, but for whatever reason it was not here during this meeting. He was far more subtle in his violations, not by words but by actions, clearly capable of great cruelty and had he not been they would not be here and she would be hunting still, the same as she always was at this time. Or maybe knitting. Or playing the strings of her heirloom instrument many times older than her.

In this moment, she does not know whether any of these things will be in her near future. In reality, she does not know what will become of her. She does know pirates to be anything but cruel, to persist over their old-as-time penchant for hunting Snelandians and either ripping them off their land or savagely slaughtering them while trying, shattering the merchandise without a second thought. She did not know them to be remotely humane figures, capable of structure that was without violence, rape or murder. Corzyan threat was a large enough threat to them that they'd established entire sections of language for pirate-specific threats, words and terms with preexisting gestures given yet new ones that were specific to the ingrained prefix 'pirate,' allowing them to warn all colloquially and slang-fluent individuals without much detection. The difference being the context, so none would make a mistake on when to be afraid. The dreaded imagery of being hunted never left a people born in a culture that established first and foremost that it was their largest hurdle. Not to trust, and not to linger or stray alone. Dogs still flashed in her and many people's minds, the signs of dragged bodies or bloody ice. They either allowed themselves to be dragged away, shredded and bleeding from the fangs, or they fought and were torn apart and partially eaten. She remembered them filtering in like rodents, smaller than her mother and yet there were so many, t o o many. Abused or starved or both, foaming and lunging at her and taking pieces and digits and parts of her face. She'd postered herself high and visible to draw their attention away from the tiny wicker basket covered by a protective wicker top fashioned for that very purpose, fighting some and allowing others to latch, before she'd taken the writhing mass away from her legacy where she ultimately knew she'd perish. Where the sound of her snarls and fighting had ebbed, and the sound of a heavy series of a blade thudding through meat and discs could be heard by the girls cuddling in the dark basket barely big enough for even one of them.

A shame.
A shame.
All they had to say in response to their deed was that.

A shame.


Anyu does not expect her fate to be anything better than being enslaved for coin: only a pretty white dress set the two fates apart, and maybe a ring if they were generous enough to provide it for their little play. She feared the dogs were somewhere right around the corner, the starved and beaten ones forced to commit, and wondered if it would hurt to die like her mother.

Perhaps that dawning reality made her all the more relentless here in some places where she would have not been. Under the full impression (and e v e r y reason to be so) that this was most likely the beginning of the end for her freedom, and a softly-veiled kidnapping in progress, Anyu stared her fate in the face with an equally-subtle fighting spirit. It was eerie at how subtle the hands were played, but to her what was taking place now was her enslavement and they were all dancing around the fact for different reasons.
Despite how she was focusing on the least expressive man before her, the Dire was ever aware of the placement of Velibor yet again stepping out of turn. Loup had did not look at him, but too was equally aware. Anyu announced whatever semblance of well-taught hospitality she could muster at a time like this, and it was met with a ‘Is it people soup?’ from the one who was consistently proving to be exactly what she knew them to be. In any other situation she and any other would have checked their guest with a bloody warning, putting them on their backs the moment they'd uttered anything other than appreciation or at least an acceptable amount of interest in the offer. Regardless of if they were local or foreign--as was it not the foreigner's purpose to make sure they were versed before they came to the homes of those would teach them what they did not know? It was a service, really, but Anyu had not ever dealt with such a situation before. She was known to be impulsive, animal in nature like her mother when pushed to the edge...but in that moment, she'd only softly turned to him. Nothing meek about her movement, but it was smooth and without haste. Perhaps it had something to do with her predicament that she did not lunge for him, swallowing the desire and remembering her position. She faced him like he were nothing but an aside, her chin raised and again, her hands coming up and signing resolutely at the position of her chest. '...No,' she signed with a preceding pause, honest and without bells. But before the woman could be mistaken for having a tucked tail, 'it is chicken, vegetable. I traveled a long days' way to procure them both for today, from subsistence farmers further north. ..but if His Lordship prefers to have people instead, fatty meat will do and I believe you are the only one between us who can supply it and would do so easily' the cut of her hands grew more resolute, the fluidity replaced by certainty. A twitch of her brow had Loup let out a long, pointed snarl in direction of the man she'd been staring at. A deep noise like a rumbling machine, the man whose presence appeared to be the obvious source of all increased discourse now on the ursine's chopping block. A direct threat in return for bad behavior, as she'd not go without checking her company even if she'd initially tried hard to do so, but stitched into it was her father's wit that whittled down the physicality of her impulse. At that she turned to the one she'd seemingly accepted the hierarchical stance of, and swiftly bowed her head. Her father would have said it was foolish, too heavy-handed, and that she should have waited to embolden after she'd clearly established in them that she understood who the most important man in the room was. His teachings required an immense amount of focus, something she at most times lacked.
Still, the effort to not bury her fangs without warning would have made him proud.

“We look forward to it,” was the sharp contrast in responses, and while she did not believe that she understood it to be most certainly the far more favorable response than that of Velibor's. She only nodded at that, and continued on her way.

The meal was an overnight process for the cooking along. For its full preparation, even longer. The dumplings were still hot when they were fished out of the hearty, soup comprised of cubed morsels and flakes of spice, sweet kernels of corn and starchy chunks of potato that were saturated in the spicy, tangy soup until they were softer than even the diced chicken that had been marinated and lightly cooked before being moved to the slow boiling soup where they would finish doing so. Soft carrots had also been diced in, along with cubes of celery and leek. The mint left a cooling, peppered sensation to the aftertaste, barely there and not distracting, but she would also pull a pinch from a leftover stalk on her cabinet and place it atop the bowl of soup as a finishing touch once served. It was thick because it kept the heat far easier than lighter soups, a very important trait to consider when feeding travelers who had come a long way. It would burn in their chests for longer, jumpstarting processes once again and continuing to spread a sensation of warmth rather than easily giving up its heat to a colder body. A soup of this type was known to have cold travelers removing their layers within mere minutes of their first couple bites as the hearty dish warmed them through and through.
The texture, ingredients, storage and even temperature-preservation of a Snelandians' soup were all vital things that they near-instinctively considered when cooking. On a normal day she'd have settled for a lighter "persistence soup," comprised of thinner broth-based recipes, because she was not planning on putting her body to the test and had no need to exhaust her resources for heavier "recovery" or even heavier still "restorative" soup recipes that she saved for rainy (or snowy) days. When traveling long distances, she packed heavier consistency soups into tiny barrels and set off. For day-to-day, she settled with a wider array of foods whose heat was not the largest intent, nor was the use of harder spices that would keep her heart rate up and body willing to sweat away the fire. This soup was not as extreme as a restorative soup, but it was not filled with lighter and easier-processed tastes like a thinner broth was expected to have. This was somewhere in between, meant to warm up and relax a traveler rather than keep a gravely injured or frostbitten individual from succumbing immediately to the numbness closing in around them. They were explosive foods for anyone who was not in that predicament, and foreigners (if ever they'd come this far outside the dynasties) making the mistake of eating the wrong weight of soup at times could find themselves with lesions in their stomachs. For those who needed soups that intense, gastrointestinal injuries were often the very least of their issues. They tended to be overjoyed at the opportunity to wake many days later with only this as an unhealing remnant of their brush with death.

She could have given them such a thing. Or, she might have poisoned it. It seemed so second nature, so obvious for anyone who was not of her culture. Food was not a weapon, and that desecration would follow her for the short time she'd have left before the rest of Corzya set upon her for it.
So, The Stranger cooked appropriately for the occasion of well-traveled guests.

Each bowl was given a wide spoon and placed on a fitting matching saucer for stability and ease of carry. The chipped porcelain ladle was plunged into the inviting gold-bronze dish that occasionally surfaced up a heavy bubble or two in the boil pot. Carefully she made sure to catch as much variety of morsels as possible along with the ladle scoops, grabbing up chicken and celery and large kernels of sweet corn that had been resting at the bottom. She set each of the bowls aside and snapped off some mint to top them in their centers, and then began preparing three hare dumplings for each of the three of them. The peppercorn-spiced meat tucked into the palm-sized morsels had been cooked by the heat of the soup overnight, the vegetable casing eventually soaked through with the soup until it had begun to leak in and intensify the flavor of the meat trapped inside.

“Why have you chosen to live out here and not with the rest of your clan?” He'd asked her that, and the sound of his...interest? was certainly more than she'd expected to hear thus far, but it was clear the busy Snelandian woman would have to answer him when her hands were not so full. When she'd turned back around to face her modest table, soup in one hand and saucer of dumplings in the other, her eyes had almost instinctively fallen to the sight of the necklaces around the Human's neck. It was obvious she was lost in space as she moved across the tired wooden floor, staring at them like she'd been frozen in time or even catapulted into the past by them. She could only possibly believe that they'd been spoils, and she wondered briefly if they'd even been from people she knew.
People she loved, long after they were gone. Slaughtered. Bludgeoned, torn apart by dogs and beheaded.

She'd only noticed she was standing there once the searing pain in her fingers had shot up her hand as well. She swiftly averted her gaze then with a flinch, her green stare fluttering down to the table where still she lowered the main dish down in front of the man she'd been standing beside for who knew how long. All she knew was that the previously room temperature plate had grown hot, and the intended amount of time it would buy her to carry without burning herself had been gone before she knew it. Setting it down and ignoring the cherry red of her palm as she eased it away from his bowl, resolute in the face of strangers and adversaries, Anyu shifted and placed the saucer of three dumplings down next to it. On the left side, as the right was always reserved for the secondmost important fixture: the tea.
After setting the food twice more so that all three of them had food in front of them, Anyu readied the tea in almost the same fashion; a fitted saucer beneath the cup, smaller than that of the one beneath the bowls, and far more appropriate for the ornate teacup set itself. It had been steeping long enough in the pot itself, the blend consisting of cherry blossom and some other dehydrated blend trapped in a filter cage so as not to be poured out, and this time the cups were set empty on the table first before presentation. It was custom the drinker see it be poured, the reason for such interwoven in many different and confusing aspects of culture and history and even cautionary tales to drinkers that were used to reinforce said culture. Maybe this eluded even her as to if there was any one answer as to why it was done this way, but she does not exactly think to fight it. Crossing the kitchen yet again for a final time, she stepped beside them one by one, to the right of them so as not to reach over--Amatiel first yet again, and no coincidence that this was so--and clutching the dainty porcelain top so that it would stay, she tipped the teapot forward until inviting aroma poured out alongside the tea itself. She poured slowly so as not to allow it to splash even for a moment, despite how much she may or may not wanted to have poured it quickly to be over with the proximity it required. It was painfully clear that her eyes were being forcibly plastered onto the glass, that tense sensation of trying hard to ignore someone's presence quite obvious in how blank her expression. After pouring the tea for one she poured it for the other, and then (with great relief) herself, before setting the pot down on a coaster specifically made for it at the center of the modest table.

At that, Anyu then pulled up her chair and slid into it. It was custom in such situations for an arranged individual that they share the first meal of their initial meeting no matter how much she would have preferred to eat elsewhere or even fast. She supposed she buy her time, still. He'd asked her an unanswered question, and soon her hands rose to respond. The movements were more genuine of someone who had as many thoughts on a matter as some heavily burdened thinker. Slowing in some places, easy in others, pauses. 'There are..many reasons. The first,' she announced the first among the list with a single raised finger, 'that it is safer, for someone with few binds who would miss them. I rely on the environment. Less visibility, less...of you. The second,' candidly, she makes that clear. 'the summit is closer. ..my father's place. It would endanger them, repeatedly, that I would always travel such distances and lead you back to them.' It was obvious in that her definition of 'you' was simply any beneath their banner, and for good reason. What perspective would humble wildland Dire have such that they would somehow see it any different? That Corzya was anything but a hive mind of aggressors? Semantics did not mean much among those fighting to survive daily. '...the last..is not for you to know.' She'd debated answering differently, but this was the end result. Despite that she'd used nothing but the formal gestures for that declaration, her movements sturdy to imply she'd made up her mind on it. At that, she lowered her injured left hand and lifted her spoon in the other, daintily blowing a spoonful of soup before tasting her work.
Offline Amatiel Aug 30 2020, 4:38 AM
#7
  • Corzya
  • Age: 41
  • Gender: Male
  • Race: Human
  • Rank: Slaver
  • Total Posts: 4
  • Played by: Isilzheha
145 Mana · View All Items?
His silence, to those unaware, might feel blunt and imposing. It might be mistaken for a lack of words, at least any that would be substantial, or separated into part of a charade. Many pirates in Cöryza were fond of them and the personas they could adopt. With it often came the reputation of which was just as important as the quality of their work and the ships they used to carry it out. Amatiel’s reputation remained an enigma for most, too many unable to form opinions so that obscurity veiled him and his crew with an air of mystery. His exploits were still widely known among the pirates even if his life was not, and because Amatiel tended to not indulge in most of what the life had to offer his camaraderie was reserved for the ones he knew best. Because of this it was often quite easy for those lesser in rank than he to… forget exactly what he is. He stood as a member of the Helm, as one of the supposedly revered sorts who did well by the King in pulling in the most money, the most product, and kept others in line. Amatiel demanded respect only when it was called for, and because of his reputation if one pays enough attention they will know not to test it too much. His silence spoke of potential ignorance and deception as well, but it simply was his way.

Amatiel didn’t offer up too much needless dialogue, something lacking from deep within his core both from the echoing ghosts of his past and the Magic that made them possible. It was that aura of unease and ghastly stillness that made others speculate. He was respected, he was treated fairly by his peers, he was even loved. He was also feared more so than the rest.

The silence was a noose perfectly wound and tied hanging in balance with their poor decisions. More often than not people were hanging themselves with it in some manner however that might manifest for them. What it looked like to one individual was not the same as another, and it was evident here that Amatiel would not witness such a hanging just yet. As distant and nonchalant the pirate might appear, he was intrigued by the mannerisms of the woman in the face of her fate. Desperation tended to be the most prominent reaction coupled with denial and anger all wrapped together, but Amatiel saw none of that here even with his limited sight. He supposed those back on Gibrantt or on the Vatican would view her as a commodity at this point; appraised in ways beyond just mere looks upon first glance. That would be the traditional and customary motion going forward, but still the human saw the Dire as a living and breathing creature such as himself. Their paths had crossed by force alone, or Fate if you believed in that, and yet even the wild woman stepping to the front of the pack stood passionate in her resolve. Amatiel saw the fire that burned low for now dancing in her emerald eyes whenever they fixated upon him and ultimately would find nothing a native Snelandian would need to gauge what they were dealing with.

Even the necromancer’s body language was still and calm juxtaposed with the antsy Eximius at his side.

He’d of course run over all of the possibilities of his potential death here up to the last moment before Anyu opened the door with the mammoth bear at her flank, though a necromancer fearing death was not usual. Reincarnation came in many forms, all of which could be manipulated should only simply reach out for it. Amatiel had only done so a few times and paid the price for it every single one of those. It showed in his extended callousness towards who had once been his people whether they were in the dynasties or living in the Unclaim, and it presented itself boldly with the relative emptiness of his person. Amatiel said nothing even to the insults or the cutting looks of disgust not just because of the ruse but also because it humored him to see. It was entirely unexpected, unlike everything else the slaver had accounted for already. Here she faced down her assumed death, a bed made for her by those she sought to protect, and she would lie in it of her own volition. Amatiel recognized the type, admired it even, and once inside the certainly character-esque domicile born of hard labor he felt a bit like the fly skating over the surface of a web. It was an unusual sensation for one so hollow.

Velibor made himself far too comfortable, true to his personality and his born status among a relatively well-respected family of pirates, and cased the room as one might a home they intended to steal from. Amatiel was not as respectful as he knew he could be among the customs of the wildland people, at least what he had been told and learned himself growing up, but there was a level of it in place that seemed like it could easily tilt one way or the other. What the stakes might have been to get the scales to tip were not so easy to decipher from the man’s scarred face. The Eximius was poking and prodding all on his own now, allowed some room to roam even if he was entirely out of his element in the privacy of one’s home. Anyu hardly shrank away except minutely in a subconscious manner whenever the captain shifted, Amatiel both revealing the weapons he had on his person and the fact he was wearing no armor here. Neither was Velibor.

Once his translator spoke of his own accord Amatiel had to watch, had to see what would become of the Eximius in the den of a wolf, though it was done with subtlety when they’d settled in at the kitchen table. Anyu was quick to turn towards the blond-haired man, red eyes lingering on the Dire with a watchfulness that raised an eyebrow when she focused upon him. The silence there already deepened when the Dire woman’s hands moved at her chest, Amatiel watching from where he now sat as Velibor’s face was lightened in a pleasant neutrality. Once or twice it broke into a devilish smile, the kind that tugged at the dimples, with the initial denial and explanation of the soup’s origin. But then Amatiel watched it drop, his gaze pulling towards the now slightly jarring hand gestures that had the Eximius sitting up more straight. ‘It is chicken, vegetable. I traveled a long days' way to procure them both for today, from subsistence farmers further north. ..but if His Lordship prefers to have people instead, fatty meat will do and I believe you are the only one between us who can supply it and would do so easily,’ Anyu signed, and for the first time yet there was a twitch of Amatiel’s brow in the smallest flicker of something different. He’d also let out a somewhat soft breath, easily mistaken for an attempt to find further comfort rather than the amusement it was. Velibor reacted with not quite as much restraint as their host or submitting to passiveness like his captain.

His weight leaned and his legs swept out to the side of the chair, glowing eyes honed in on the Dire with a phantom of animosity and the curling of his lips. His hands were starting to move, as was his mouth along with them, and Amatiel’s own unfolded. The reaching of it towards the other man’s was not entirely slow, completely deliberate, so as to show the inevitable. ‘Savage bi-’ he’d started to say now, voice splitting the silence as loudly as his hands, but Amatiel swiftly cut him off. All it took was a reach across the corner of the table where he sat adjacent to the human, fingers wrapping around one of his hands to bring it harshly to the tabletop. The bear was growling now, a snarl that rippled over the walls, and Velibor had a split second to decide where his attention would go. Here was a man who could take the same grip of the human’s hand and just about shatter every single bone within with a firm squeeze. Just like the Dire in his own way he could rend the flesh from his body quicker than any two or three men, but the simplest contact forced his attention. Amatiel took his time to lean forward, the other hand coming up to rest gently over Velibor’s forearm while the other clenched tightly.

The Eximius didn’t withdraw nor did he attempt to, tensing and relaxing simultaneously beneath the tempering touch. “Need I remind you we are at peace with this particular clan,” Amatiel said evenly, his voice never rising, and to any outsider looking in it might look to be a pleasant exchange, “including all of its people. Of which we sit in one’s kitchen now, ready to partake in the cuisine offered to us.” As he finished speaking he released the Eximius to lean back, returning to his posture from before as Velibor pulled his fingers through his opposite hand with a small huff given through his nose. Anyu had acknowledged him no matter how forced it was with the bow of her head, and a nod now when tensions shifted to other matters even if the slaver once more found his own peace from the mild disturbance. They’d both said what they wished to say, taking jabs at one another with one of them seemingly in a better position to do so.

Amatiel let go of the binds that kept his curiosity at bay, at least for now, just enough to wonder aloud why the Dire secluded herself when they were a race of familial connections both blood and otherwise. He’d been keen on declining previous knowledge of her from those he considered biased, especially in the heat of the moment with the blades to their necks and crossbows leveled at their chests. So the question was surely genuine, as would be many of the others to come up to the point of the wolf’s disappearance in the wake of violence dealt from his own people. One of those such people sat with him now, the Eximius not native to Snelandia but well-versed and eager to always learn everything he can about them in whatever ways deemed suitable. He was one who broke their spirits and watched it fade from their eyes, leaving them malleable for the next one who would hold them in their clutches. He was not Amatiel’s first choice of someone to trust in overarching matters, so he didn’t, but he was effective and currently essential to navigating some of the tougher areas keeping them away. That usefulness would ultimately mean nothing when the proverbial knife is slipped between the ribs of his captain.

Anyu looked as if she’d seen a ghost when preparing to set the delightful-smelling soup and dumplings, Amatiel catching her eyes adrift lower than his own. He didn’t look to see what she had seen as it was no doubt something the human could not possibly see at this moment. Velibor’s chair creaked with his weight as his torso spun to catch the quiet after the table had been set. The soup steamed, as did the dumplings on the other hand, and Amatiel merely sat and watched her freeze in time. It was to the point her skin began to darken where the heat sank into the meat of her hands, burning deeper than just the surface that was not the cause of the flinch Amatiel saw. Instead of commenting on it as he could have, or capitalized on the brief moment of vulnerability, the slaver was still. Quiet. The beats in his chest were even, as was the breath that expanded it, and it was almost hardly without a stutter the Dire started to serve them. Amatiel made note of the order of things, with Anyu’s own bowl being the last to fill, and did not make any sudden movements when the tea was being poured. He hadn’t forgotten that she hadn’t answered his question, but he let it be for now under the assumption she was gathering her thoughts.

She stood close enough Amatiel could see the angered skin of her left hand across the callouses and signs of hard work. They weren’t soft and unused like most of the noble women and men he’d encountered more of on the mainland. To see the conditions of which Anyu lived here would make even the supposedly strongest of them recoil. In disgust and judgment to be sure, but prejudice and misunderstanding. This was a place of comfort and dwelling, and the Dire had made it thus far in the wilds on her own aside from the ursine. Amatiel didn’t see squalor in the typical sense, nor did he see disappointment in where she lived. Velibor was amused by her pause, looking her over with subtle regard with the occasional glance towards his captain when finally it was his cup to be filled.

Amatiel savored the scent first as the soup sat untouched, the pirate taking in a slow breath to take in the heady smells wafting from the surface of it. Plenty of meat and vegetables flavored with the spices and even a hint of mint, although his sense of smell was not as acute as those of his current company. It stirred his empty gut nonetheless, but he took the tea first with its subtle hints of cherry blossom to compliment the strength of the soup. Amatiel took it in, not at all suspiciously but with a searching motion, and let his eye find Anyu over the top of it when her hands were moving. ‘It is safer, for someone with few binds who would miss them. I rely on the environment. Less visibility, less...of you. The second,' she’d managed with several pauses and lingering trails of her hands on the same words until the thoughts formed. ‘The summit is closer. ..my father's place. It would endanger them, repeatedly, that I would always travel such distances and lead you back to them.’ Amatiel was not insulted by the words even if Velibor translated them with little of the nuances the captain understood on his own, wiping some of the soup from his lip and seeming to ignore the heat of it.

...the last..is not for you to know.'

Matter-of-fact and as resolute as everything else she said, though with the slow tick of her hand Amatiel could tell there was hesitation. It wasn’t meant for him. He’d gotten a spoonful of the soup himself, allowing it to cool before tasting it. Almost immediately it was already a far cry from the heartier and heavier meals of the West, though this packed its own punch in ways the stews and roasts never could. Even should it have been awful to the tongue Amatiel knew it would have been highly insulting to question it or speak up against it, but he hadn’t the need to hide his opinions. “A wise decision,” he returned after he’d cleared his mouth, “but it wasn’t just wandering souls that caught our eyes.” It’d been a mistake, and a rather simple one, of one of the younger folk. The blizzards had not yet come and the winds hadn’t done their part to cover what the hunter should have covered by instinct alone. Tracks and droplets of blood in the snow not far from the passes that tucked the settlement away had been spotted by scouts with their hounds, narrowing their sweeping search to a nestled pocket of seclusion that was shattered quickly thereafter.

Amatiel had also heard briefly of her father and his own endeavors, but even that the man had been content to leave as basic as possible. It did coincide with what he’d known already of the man, at least for him having come from the wilds to pass between the dynasties in a futile attempt for maintaining peace. He’d taken more of the soup, letting it roll across the tongue where Velibor simply tried to chew upon the thicker bits as much as possible. He’d had to wipe his hands a few times in order to sign properly and quite lazily. Bringing the Eximius along had been something of a test as much as it was beneficial for himself, to indirectly poke and prod at the one seated across from him, but now it was a lulling moment. “You have our gratitude for the hospitality, Anyu,” he said, as matter-of-fact as what Anyu had said earlier. It was a response to the current situation regarding where they were sitting and what they were doing, the why of it all not addressed because it didn’t need addressing in that manner.

We both know why I am here and why I will continue to return,” the slaver spoke bluntly when the minutes of their enjoying the meal ticked by. It was filling and warmed Amatiel into a sense of rejuvenation, energy sapped from the wilderness returning to him section by section. He took another sip of tea, eye never leaving Anyu. “Tell me your thoughts on the matter.