such small hands
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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#1
i think you saw me confronting my fear
it went up with the bottle and went down with the beer




That had been one of the most unpleasant encounters in Rory's life, which hadn't exactly been free of them, either. He was a dark and brooding thing, jaw set, nerves quivering, as he watched Roana and Edrei turn and finally—finally—leave.

So, so far, Rory's life and the lives of those with him were still worth more than getting into the Spire. He supposed he should consider it a victory, or perhaps a mercy, but he would not soon forget the inhumanity of Roana's eyes as she condemned him, or the anger and the hurt in Ashetta and Edrei's faces.

Those, he could understand, even though he was not too keen on forgiving them. But Roana... her arguments, her self-righteous anger.

That was something for his brain to pick apart in hours and days and years to come, but it was the other two that had his heart still racing, his gut turning over, poison in his veins and snakes under his skin. Never before had he been threatened so vividly, so furiously, by someone so capable of killing him.

He felt cold, soul shivering, body numb. He bit down on what he felt, set his shoulders, his jaw, left his followers to disperse back to their friends and cookfires, disappeared to the edges of the gathering. He just wanted out. Away, from this stupid, monumental task he had set himself.

How long would he have to try and guard it? How many times would he have to risk his life, just because the Gods were silent? How long until Roana lost her patience, and set Edy upon him?

His skin was not longing to be reunited with her flame.

Just the thought of it made him want to vomit.

He was tense and taut, a dark bird on the outskirts of his flock, when Amalia found him. His eyes were dark, a black curtain drawn, trapping every emotion and fraying nerve behind a wall of sheer desperation: a survival instinct to not show the wolves just how badly he bled.

If she spoke, he did not hear, his eyes glassy like beads. If she touched him, he did not notice, his muscles tensed and unresponsive. His skin was pale.

But when she got him to move, he followed, led towards the lush green infringing on the Spire.

[ Jigano Amalia || Set directly after {PQ} His Dying Wish ]
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#2
After the drama she seeks him out, their ill-begotten champion, their reluctant knight, their friend. She cannot deny the slice of jealousy which struck her when Maea sent invitations to her friends and not her, but the slight she feels it for her family above herself: her mother and grandmother had been pillars of their community, and though Amalia may be a quiet baker, she is all the legacy they have left. Jigano's presence was a slight balm to her wounded pride; and as Rory left to attend the first of many meetings, she squeezed his hand reassuringly, the sharp burn of rejection not spoken aloud, though it rings between her ears.

It is not Rory's fault she has been forgotten. He is one of the few who remembers her, after all.

She busies herself with watching the mob, quelling discontent and sitting with Jigano. They are not reunited until later, too much later, and when she does find him again she hates herself for leaving him to the wolves. She does not see Roana's vitriol, does not hear Edrei's hate: she does not have to, for it is written in his face, the gentle lines pulled tight and pale by bitterness and strife. She does not need to experience Maea's guilt-tripping, Evie's selfishness, Sam's reserve. What envy she feels drains away, replaced by deep concern for her friend and an even greater shame.

One slender hand wraps around his; the other grabs his arm. Amalia does not speak as she steers him away, urging him through touch and look to follow her to the quiet. He has said and heard enough words, she suspects. There are no more needed, now.

They do not go far. Their mob needs tending to, after all, and the day is far from done. But in view of the Oasis the outside world seems to dim, and so it is there Amalia leads the trio, out of sight of the world- for the time being, at least. Spreading her cloak upon the ground, she invites Rory to sit down and follows suit, her hands picking restlessly at daisies in the dew. Her pack sits beside them in the grass, full of bread, preserves, and salted meat.

A glance at Jigano, and back to Rory: she wants to touch him, to lean him over, put his head in her lap and stroke his hair as her grandmother used to do. She wants to curl into Jigano's arms, Rory pressed against her chest. She wants to be a leopard, and envelop them both within her fur, soothing them with the purr from her lungs and snarling at any who dare threaten her family friends.

Instead she reaches into the bag, and proceeds to prepare snacks.
a m a l i a
You were young and you'd stare With a reverence unimpaired
Searching in your dark eyes to find the stars already there


Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 39 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,481
MP:
#3
Jigano sat upon Amalia's shoulder when Rory left for Maea's call to government, a smoldering seed of discontent and frustration in his breast that he could not quench and would not reveal to any other, for they all thought him a good man, and he was nothing of the sort. He was just good at looking like it to the outside observer, who did not see the tarnish beneath the gilt, or the rotten places artfully hidden by shadows where his ideals had once blossomed, innocent as flowers in the springtime - and just as fragile, he had discovered, when put to the test.

He had been a leader once. He might have been, again... but the Hollowed Grounders were too insular, too divided into schisms of race and class, town and farm, to bear the yoke of government willingly, and the Outlanders were even worse, pulling in all directions at once and none recognizing a leader. The Northhaveners who had arrived together had a hierarchy that might allow for it, but plenty of others had arrived since then who cared nothing for Launcelyns or militaries that existed only in dreams. Given time he might have been able to coax and wheedle and bribe and cajole them into working together...

Or, then again, perhaps not.

And he had abandoned the burden of politics once before, determined to never take it up again.

But, oh, it burned him all the same to see the groundwork he had laid so easily stolen and subverted by someone he had started to trust...

The raven had sat on Amalia's shoulder and watched the mob around the Spire to distract himself from his selfish resentment and the petty impulses he harbored in his feathered breast. He watched how Amalia walked among the naturals, her quiet but firm hand settling disputes, and the respect she was shown that she herself seemed oblivious to. He croaked softly to himself at times, and other times he chirred and pressed his feathery forehead to her temple to reassure and comfort her.

He had not realized Rory was back until it was too late, and the confrontation passed before he could help his friend - his friends, Edy apparently having been present as well from the muttering observers who had seen her fiery temper. As a human he could hide his feelings well behind an actor's mask of laughter or calm wisdom, but as a raven he shifted his weight from foot to foot on Amalia's shoulder, worried little croaks escaping until he gave in and awkwardly hopped and fluttered over to Rory's shoulder, mantling a protective wing over the hunter's head and glaring with blue-eyed menace at any who tried to approach while Amalia led them to a more private place.

The Oasis was perfect, earning an approving croak as they slipped out of sight of the gathered naturals but stayed close enough to hear any shouts of anger or fighting. Rory was...

Not alright. Not even close. There were wounds that Jigano couldn't wrap, exhaustion that he couldn't mend with a spell or a single hour's nap. He looked to Amalia with concern, but as soon as the humans had sat down he hopped down from Rory's shoulder, growing and flowing into the shape of a fox, white furred and worried as he curled into the blond's lap and nudged at one limp hand with a pleading whine, his pink tongue swiping a lick not a kiss, not in this form, at least over sweat-salted skin as he urged the man to stroke him as they had done so often before.
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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Posts: 395
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#4
He had forgotten himself in that moment, lost in the flash of Edy's dark eyes, the fire licking along her hands; lost in the self-confident snarl of the wolf-girl, in the crackle and static of the lightning arcing so effortlessly over her skin.

He hadn't meant to provoke them, just to point out the reason he hadn't wanted them to fight the demon in the first place, but his startled mind kept returning to the moment. He had been a stag, helplessly tangled in vines and fencing, staring in the face of the predators.

How much had stilled Edy's hand? How little had separated him from death?

The fire blossomed in the dark, dark night, roaring towards him—even as he saw it he knew that he could not escape. There just wasn't any way, any time, anywhere to go.

And then he was falling—


He barely noticed Jigano upon his shoulder, the wing spread across the back of his head. He didn't quite see where they were going, until he was folding himself down upon Amalia's cloak by the edge of the Oasis. The bright and cheery singing of birds was distant, and out of place, an echo across the border between two worlds.

His was dark and dreary and gray, a thing made out of fear, bottled adrenaline; it was a noose around his neck, constricting until he couldn't speak, tongue swollen in the back of his mouth. Something wormed its way into his lap, wet warmth across his fingers—

Something had to give.

He couldn't stay like that forever, tangled up in a memory, running out of his own skin. He dragged in air through gritted teeth, aware of Amalia moving next to him, of how close they all were, there on the edge of something peaceful. They had found him in the dark and pulled him into the light, where the sun could touch his face, and the breeze riffle through his hair.

They were saving him. He was safe

Something gave. Rory did not stroke the fox, but he hunched over, pulled his white friend close to his beating heart as his shoulders began to shake, and his warm tears wet the soft fur.

He had been so, so afraid in those tense, last moments.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#5
She had expected Jigano to shift back to human: the change to fox takes her by surprise, unaware as she is of the shared history between the men. She is not stupid, though, or blind, and it only takes a moment to see the something more between them, a thing she has felt in passing before. A flash of pink tongue; fingers in fur. Shifting on the cloak she looks away, suddenly self-conscious, feeling as though she has intruded upon something intimate and rare. Amalia is not sure what to do, so she busies herself further with food, pulling out bread and preserves from her bag and steadily looking anywhere but at the pair.

That is, until Rory begins to cry.

The sound startles her from herself, back to what matters, to them, to him. It is strange, how little she expected this from Rory. Brave Rory, who rode beside her into the night; strong Rory, who fought through fire to fix the perch. Faithful Rory, who held her as she broke and helped to string the pieces into place; kind Rory, whose face collapsed as she whispered of the world. He has been all of this and more, so much more, in their seasons of friendship. Asked to pick out adjectives for him, the girl would find herself rich with words.

None of which were fragile.

A moment of hesitation, and only a moment, before her arms slip around the pair. On her knees she leans against him, one hand resting on his closest shoulder, the other stroking down his back. It does not matter in this moment that they are a pair and she is one: she is theirs, and they are hers, and together, they are them. She sits, and holds them, and stares at the trees, something fiery and angry and protective on her face: she is watchful, mindful, a guardian for their grief, ready to snarl and stop any interloper, longing to fight away their fears.

In that moment she would take on any turmoil, slay any foe, to guard his heart. The man, and the bard, and the absent gryphon, and the quiet of this place: they are home, a home she has not known, a home she thought she lost years before.
a m a l i a
You were young and you'd stare With a reverence unimpaired
Searching in your dark eyes to find the stars already there


Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 39 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,481
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#6
Jigano didn’t fight being wrapped in a tight embrace, only wriggled enough that he could press his head to Rory’s cheek, soaking up his tears against his forehead with something between relief and worry. His whines turned to soft croons of reassurance, white brush wagging in the strength of emotion as he let himself be held and wished that he could do more.

Amalia, he needs us both, he sent to his fellow Attuned, his mental voice low and strained with the effort of reaching out willingly to another with his mind. It wasn’t something he was comfortable with – not even close - but in this place and time, between himself and Amalia… Amalia, the closest person he had to a sister and so, so very different from lost Jenny and bright Yohgel… yes. Her he would allow in without fighting it.

But he hadn’t needed to, it turned out, the dark-eyed woman already moving before he could ‘speak,’ sensing Rory’s need and reacting in her own way. Fierce, protective Amalia, shy and self-conscious and hiding so much behind dark eyes, but loyal to a fault and there when she was needed. And where she was needed right now was with her arms wrapped around Rory, while Rory held Jigano, the three of them sharing the hunter’s pain and fear in the hopes of lessening it, and letting him know how very much he was cared for no matter the storms that rocked their world and their hearts. And for as long as Rory needed them, they would be there for him, letting him cry and giving him their warmth and support in the dappled shade of the Oasis and the trilling song of birds that masked - almost - the sounds of angry voices and bustling work around a Spire that had once stood sacrosanct and untouchable.
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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Posts: 395
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#7
It was such a vivid thing, memory; even as he cried the fear and the tension out of his body, he could still feel the exact moment when he realized just how badly he had miscalculated. The moment when his heart and bones had frozen, gone cold, when fear had punched him in the gut and the fire had reflected in his eyes. The silence which had bound his tongue for fear of provoking them again.

The memory of agony, which had his heart racing.

He buried his face in white fur as he tried to shake off the fear.

And bit by bit it left his body, mixed with water and salt. Slowly his shoulders ceased their shaking. He was glad for Amalia's hands upon his shoulder and back—a strange repetition of history—and when he finally sniffled a last time, wiping the back of a hand across his face, and straightened up, he did so with the intention of leaning slightly against her. A silent I may not be hugging the life out of you in my lap, but I love you all the same.

He drew in a thick, muffled breath and tipped his head back, blinking blue eyes up at the blue skies. His eyelashes were still damp. Fingers busied themselves in silken white fur. He still felt cold each time his mind touched on the previous encounter, but it .. he couldn't quite describe it, the release, just that the sickening, nauseating feeling was gone (for now). He drew in a couple of more unsteady breaths, still looking at the sky.

"I got so frustrated with Roana," he said. His voice was low and rough. "She just wouldn't back off. I kept telling her to, to not do something just because she thought it was the right thing. She had the audacity to drag up my comments from when Wessex died, calling them 'advice', saying I had somehow helped in all of this because of telling them off. I had already lost most of my patience at that point and snapped that, well.. exactly what I wanted to prevent had happened. Ronin died." He shuddered, lightly.

"I just wanted to drive the point home, y'know? To keep her from throwing more lives away?" He shook his head. He had been saying a lot of things, and a lot of them hadn't been nice, and a lot of them had been loud. He was no saint, and he had never claimed to be, either.

"Edy marched up to me then. Her face was just this.. wild, hateful thing, her eyes... The fire around her hands..." A small shiver coursed through him. When he spoke again, his voice was very quiet. "She told me that if she ever heard me say Ronin's name again, she'd kill me."

And he believed her.

And he knew that she could do it.

He looked down from the sky, to the side. "They took their turns chewing me out after that. Vai's daughter made a similar threat, though hers made it sound like I'd survive, though just not comfortably."

Or just a prolonged death. Who knew? He didn't; and he didn't want to find out. He trailed off into silence, looking away from them. The scar crawling up his neck felt tight, constricting, choking.

Swallowing, he blinked some fresh tears away.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,961
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#8
Rory cries, and the girl holds him as he once did for her, though her eyes remain on the dark spire. In that moment it is an evil thing, hateful in her eyes. It is the secrets locked within which have brought them here: it corrupts people, infects them with darkness, just as the New Gods once sought to corrupt the world. This conflict is a blight upon their imperfect home, and Amalia wishes they could just return, rewind the clock and reset the world to the point it was at before.

Except then she wouldn't have them.

When Rory finally shifts in her arms, she prepares to draw away. His pushing closer is unexpected; the girl freezes before relaxing once more, her slender fingers resuming their tracings on his back as the man's blonde head leans against her neck. Silently she listens to his tale, though her face and body betray the emotions each words incites in her. Roana's stubbornness a scowl, and when he speaks of Ronin's death she nods her head empathetically. She, too, had hoped to prevent more death, both for ones within and the ones without. Fighting the demon had caused more tragedy, and though yes, they had won, was it truly worth the cost they had paid?

The cost that had yet to come?

Ah, but it is the retelling of Edy's proclamation that pierces the girl, awakens something feral within her breast. A low growl escapes Amalia's lips and she pulls away far enough to look down at the man. "She will not," the leopard replies with conviction, fury turning her deep voice black. It does not matter in that moment that Edrei is a soldier and she a baker; it does not even matter that they were once social, that they may have been friends, that Edy saved her life after taking it away.

Forgetting Jigano is not one of them, for he is one of them, Amalia speaks again. "All we have done is try to protect them. We took them in, our gods favored them, and for what? They have gone against what the Old Ones wanted, tried to change the world without asking what it will mean--" and Amalia stops to draw a breath, fire blazing behind her eyes, the leopardess rippling beneath her skin, waiting to break free.

She does not say what else she thinks, suddenly aware of the fox in their lap, the Outlander who she has come to think of family, who Rory has come to love. Bitter, angry, she looks away, turning her gaze back to the spire, and sighs.
a m a l i a
You were young and you'd stare With a reverence unimpaired
Searching in your dark eyes to find the stars already there


Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 39 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
Change author:
Posts: 3,481
MP:
#9
In the Glade time seemed to slow, the sunlight moving like honey, idle and languid through the seconds, minutes, more that Rory cried and found release from the pain that had held him captive, dimming his light within its shadow. Fingers tangled in the silk of white fur, tears collecting there like rain that dampened the fox’s brow, and he bowed his head against the quiet spring shower that fell from bluest eyes. When Rory raised his head again, Jigano shifted his head to rest it on a shoulder that soon pressed against the slender strength of Amalia, the three of them bound together as one in those first few moments of silence.

He listened, then, as the story came out in gasps and growls, Rory’s voice rough with tears. The man seemed as much beast as the fox in those moments, caught up in the memories of a conversation the lorekeeper wished desperately that he had been there to hear. At his friend’s shudder he pressed his nose to Rory’s neck, his tongue licking out impulsively at the hunter’s stubbled jaw when it was followed by a shiver. He knew Edy, enough to call her friend, though he still wasn’t sure he meant the same to her. Not after the Spark Bird’s arrival, at least, and a forlorn slip of a girl left alone in the light. He knew she had anger in her, and an utter lack of control that made her threats terrifyingly real… but unlike Amalia he could not find it in him to hate her for what she had said. He was only glad that she had stopped at words, and not scarred his hunter further.

It was mention of Vai’s daughter, the assassin, that had his hackles rising and a growl rumbling low in his throat. He echoed Amalia’s threat in the silence of his mind for the short, dark-haired killer, and Rory would find two predators ready to leap to his defense before any such destructive magics could be brought to bear against him.

But it was Amalia’s words that struck the fox like whips of fire, the lean beast flinching in Rory’s arms at each reiteration of ‘them,’ though he held his instinctive whine locked behind his teeth. Ears flat and body tense he held tight to the hunter’s earlier reassurances, and cuddled close against Rory's strength as an unexpected chasm seemed to open between him and the leopardess he held so dear.
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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Posts: 395
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#10
"She told me that if she ever heard me say Ronin's name again, she'd kill me," he said, the stag within him shivering at the promise of death—he had almost felt the scent of it, there under the midday sun.

"She will not," the baker growled, a fierce response he had not expected, not from her, she who was always so mellow and so gentle, but.. if the fire had gone to Rory's head the past few days.. and really, as he rested against the wrath in her chest, should it surprise him that he was loved: that she would protect him so?

A warm tongue licked comfortingly along his jaw, a closeness he parsed in a very human-canine way, the memory of Jigano's human body distant and aching. The fox in its place rumbled with the vibrations of his growl, and Rory's fingers tightened in the white fur. Don't, he wanted to say, don't throw away your lives for me.

Then Amalia began to speak, an echo of the venom and bitterness so many of them felt—what he had, tiredly, voiced at Maea's meeting of would-be governors when collectively accused of inhospitality. They had come and they had chosen and they had done and they weren't going to stop—

The fox in his lap flinched and tensed, ears flat in canine distress. Amalia seemed to notice how her words sounded for she fell silent, not apologizing but neither going on.

So he was left with that, the tears still drying on his cheek, Jigano unhappy in his lap, and Amalia tense and silent, brooding, behind him.

He sighed.

"Not you," he told the fox in a quiet voice, then looking over his shoulder at Amalia, a question in his eyes, a question in his voice. "I think? It's just—" He swallowed against the weight in his throat, one hand waving haphazardly, defeated. "It's easier to say 'them' than 'those, mainly Outlanders, pushing for the fall of the barrier in a very selfish and senseless way'." Briefly, he was irritated that he was even in that situation—not just by the Spire, but there, having to explain that Amalia (probably) hadn't meant it like that—but it passed quickly.

Was he just making this worse? Possibly.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,961
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#11
She can feel the way Jigano tenses, flinching and pulling away from her as she speaks those irretrievable words. Part of her - a greater part - is immediately awash in shamed regret, her mistaken cruelty acutely felt as soon as the venom leaves her lips. But there is another part, insidious and small, which rails against Jigano in that moment, still angry, still bitter, spiteful and afraid. That he could think she referred to him, would pull away and recoil without giving her any faith... it burns and snaps within her breast, a lash upon her brittle soul, fresh pain in an unkind time.

Does he really think so little of her? And is she not allowed to express her frustration, for fear he would take offense?

Amalia's eyes remain on the horizon, hard and iron, flashing coals. It is wrong, she knows, to think this way, but with patience frayed as thin as paper the leopardess can only look away. She is frightened- of the threats, the betrayals, the changes that loom around her, uninvited and unbidden. And she is wounded, her pride injured as again and again she is stripped of any power to decide, cut out of the equation as Jigano curls closer to Rory and she is left alone.

It is all she can do to keep from wincing as Rory steps in to balm their wounds. She cannot meet his questioning gaze, only nod tersely in agreements as he once more repairs her mess. Not you, the blond knight says to Jigano, and she echoes it in her mind.

Not you-

(He is brave and she is weak, angry at a world that has not wronged her, quick to fury and slow to forgive.)

Not you-

(He is grown and she is a child beside him, petulant and petty, too small to apologize.)

Not you-

(He is a beacon and she is a shadow, trying to bask in his reflected light but only succeeding in obfuscating, obscuring, leaving a dark wound for him to repair.)

Not you-

(He is invited and she is cast out, watching from the sidelines as they build something new, flock about him like moths to a lantern while she can only sit and listen, forgotten in the night.)

-but me

Jaw still clenched in a stubborn line, Amalia shifts away from the pair, too stupid and too frightened to yield. This is it: Jigano has seen through her facade, caught sight of the monster underneath and now will leave her to her own despair, taking her sunlit knight along. They will rebuild the world in their image and she will be left with the spiders and dust, crafting dough until her face burns and her fingers bleed, a small life for a small person who was never destined to be great.
a m a l i a
You were young and you'd stare With a reverence unimpaired
Searching in your dark eyes to find the stars already there


Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 39 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,481
MP:
#12
The fox shivered in Rory's arms, knowing Amalia hadn't meant to hurt him, but her careless words and bitter anger had done so anyways. He was not a Northhavener 'them' but he wasn't a Natural 'us' either. And as he had ridden around on their shoulders for the past day, a silent, unknown raven listening to and watching the mob, it had become clear that most of those gathered didn't make any distinction between Northhaveners like Roana and Outlanders from any other place. If any had recognized him, if he had transformed into his human shape, he would have been beaten and cast out by those riled to anger and hate by Roana's actions, and not even Rory could have saved him without losing what control over the mob that he had. He was alone, in a way the Naturals could not imagine, nor the Northhaveners truly understand, with their close-knit clique of people they had known for years - or all their lives.

He had only those friendships he had forged in the past half-year, fresh and new and still so, so fragile...

But Rory's voice reached out to him, gentle and comforting, renewing their bond - as he had before he'd called the mob to order, taking the time to warn the fox and let him know that whatever words he spoke, Jigano was not one he saw as 'them.' And perhaps Amalia had not meant him in that way either... but she sat in sullen silence, offering no reassurance or comfort, no hand in friendship. She seemed almost angry at his pain--

And, once again, Jigano was reminded that he was supposed to be the strong one - had to be the strong one, the kind one, the forgiving one - because he had lost his right to deserve the comfort he was expected to give to others. Another scratch across his wounded heart, another scar reminding him of what he had earned... what he had taken willingly upon himself, when he had become what he hated and feared most.

And so he tucked it away, that pain, precious and aching. Tucked away the protests and the tears, the defenses he might have raised with any others for whom he cared for less than these two. Tucked away the frustration and the loneliness of being not merely Outlander but Outsider in a world so small and close-knit that he would always be instantly recognizable as such, so long as the Barrier stood. He tucked it away and he raised his nose to nuzzle at Rory's jaw, reassuring the weary blond who had endured far too much in too short a time, whose tears were still damp upon his cheeks and Jigano's fur. He tucked it away and he slid from the hunter's lap in an eeling motion of his lithe, slender little body, trotting around behind them both. He tucked it away as he shifted behind Amalia, out of her sight, still shy of others seeing him transform from fox to man or back again.

He tucked the pain away and deep into the tangled collection of shadows he called a heart as he stretched his arms around his two dear friends, holding them both in an awkward but sincere embrace. "I am sorry, Amalia," he murmured against the baker's hair, resting his cheek on her head. "I wasn't thinking. Can you forgive me?"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#13
-- and from Rory's lap Jigano rises, slinking out of the hunter's embrace and leaving, leaving, making his way out of her vision and into some other, better frame, tired of her childish shit --

-- and the girl's fingernails dig into her skin, leaving angry red crescents upon her arms as she tries and fails and tries and fails to say the one thing she knows she should, but cannot bring up to her lips, because she's already ruined this and is too scared of breaking it further --

-- and the crevasse that has opened between them stretches on, widening, gaping, cruel and unyielding, threatening to swallow the fragile thing that they have built and bury it under the earth --

-- and then his arms are around her, around them both, and his voice is in her ear, words she does not deserve, words she is supposed to say, and she realizes all at once that they weren't fractured, it was only her, and her heart blooms with gratitude and shame.

Amalia pulls herself onto her knees and pivots to face Jigano, a wealth of wild and heedless emotion within her fragile voice. "No," she breathes fervently in reply, shaking her head while reaching out to take his hand off her shoulder and into her grasp, black eyes earnest with apology as she searches his face. "I'm sorry, Jigano, I- I shouldn't have said that, I didn't mean you, it's just that I was so angryand- and- and scared-"

And here she stops and falls onto her heels, swallowing the lump in her throat. Her dark eyes glittering with unshed tears, she glances again between the men before looking at the ground. "Everything is changing, and I don't know what it will mean, and it's all happening so fast and I just started feeling like I had a family again and I don't want to lose it... to lose you."
a m a l i a
You were young and you'd stare With a reverence unimpaired
Searching in your dark eyes to find the stars already there


Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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#14
His only answer was silence.

She was taut as a drawn bowstring behind him, locked up in some inner struggle he could only guess at. Regret? Perhaps; she had never seemed like one to wound intentionally. Anger? Maybe, though at what he didn't know. Perhaps she would've preferred it if he hadn't meddled, sought to smooth over the snagged skin, just hiding the wounds from sight because he was too tired to deal with his friends hurting each other after what he had just endured.

It was selfish of him, and he knew it. The world was not put on hold just because he suffered insults and threats. It spun on without him, reckless and unforgiving, and this was just another symptom of it. Still, it was like grit in his eyes, silt in his veins, and had he been any less aware of the fact that they, too, were human beings with needs and feelings it was possible he would've snapped at them to save it for later.

The silence was killing him. He could feel Amalia's presence even though she leaned away from him. It tightened something uncomfortable in his gut, made him feel sick just to be exposed to it. He swallowed, remained sitting without her support, his stomach muscles tense to keep him from falling back.

She was still silent, and Jigano slithered from his lap. Rory made no attempt to stop him. If what he had said hadn't been enough to fix this, he didn't know what would be. If rationality failed, what was left? Time, to let the emotions run their course.

He didn't know what to do.

Then Jigano's arms found their way around Amalia, around him, tugging him close to the baker again.

His first thought was very out of place: he felt a little cheated out of the possibility of having had human Jigano suddenly in his lap.

But after that, he didn't think much at all. He listened to Jigano's voice, and when it brought Amalia back to life, making her twist in his grasp, Rory fell away from them. His back found itself across the border between Amalia's cloak and the cold spring ground, his eyes tracing patterns in the sky. She said what he felt, though she was honest about it in a way that he was not. She said that she was scared, and he was, too, and the words of the Northaveners bit into his mind again. Were they fighting so hard to keep the Spire unbreached, the Voice contained, out of fear of change? Or were they fighting this losing battle for the Old Gods?

He brought his hands up, watching his fingers against the backdrop of the blue sky. Family. He still hadn't seen Karlia since before Long Night...

He wanted to say something, like, family doesn't abandon you, or family forgives, but it sounded pretentious and turned to ash upon his tongue. His mother had walked into the barrier (effectively abandoning both him and his sister), and his sister .. well. He chose not to think about it.

"Let me know when you're ready for more bad news," he said after a while, his voice a distant, complicated thing, still a little thick and rough from his earlier crying.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face


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