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Author Topic: Private So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]  (Read 160 times)

Offline Naeharie

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So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« on: November 15, 2018, 10:25:59 PM »
He was in unusually high spirits when he came out of his trance. He wasn't sure he would call it happiness, per se. He wasn't entirely sure what the dimensions of that emotion were. But it was a little like contentment, which he had sometimes felt, with his animals. What had happened the night before felt fuzzy and distant, and it didn't seem to matter at all.

His father eyed him over his morning cup of klah. It was laced with some horrible swill some other Holder had cooked up without notice of the weyr leadership. He knew Zasarine was still looking for the cracks, hoping to widen them into a big enough hole for him to squeeze himself and his ambitions through. Naeharie looked away.

"Must've hurt yourself with your dreams."

Naeharie accepted this re-writing of reality with a terse nod. He stared studiously at the floor.

There was a thick slurping sound. This might have made Naeharie flinch, under normal circumstances, but normal Naeharie might have been gone. In his place was Calm Naeharie, who absorbed information and outside stimulus without sentiment of any kind. He really wasn't sure what Calm Naeharie was doing here. He hoped it was to help Normal Naeharie.

"Go to the bathing springs before you come home today. You know we've got company for supper."

This also would have terrified Normal Naeharie out of his mind. They hadn't had company for supper since moving to the new weyr; it was too difficult for his father to make new friends. He was pretty sure none of the weyr leadership would approve of them having company for supper. Last night, when his father had first broke the news of company, Naeharie had suffered such a terrible fit that he'd dropped into a fugue, where he had apparently struck himself repeatedly and bruised his own wrists and thrown himself into the thick wall of the cave. Bad dreams.

Naeharie nodded.

"Answer me, Naeri. Look at me and tell me you understand."

Zasarine's hand hovered over the side of the cup, prepared to go back into resting position, but also prepared to not do that.

His mouth was dry. He said, "I understand."

How could the end of absolutely everything mean nothing? Calm Naeharie was doing a hell of a job for Normal Naeharie. He had to believe that this other him had some kind of plan. He felt positive that he did. Normal Naeharie just couldn't know what it was yet. He had never kept a surprise from himself before. Maybe later he could try to feel some excitement.

"See you this evening, Naeri."

There wasn't any point to eating breakfast, so he didn't. His brain was quiet as his own shade guided him through caring for his animals. He pulled the combs from their boxes with surpassing gentleness, hearing wholly the buzzing of each little creature at the veil over his face, the sweet symphony of their productive little hearts. They were docile around him, friendly, like maybe they would miss him. He collected their honey. He would miss them too.

He didn't know what compelled him to say goodbye to his Beastcraft fellows that day. He always just nodded when he left, maybe waved. But Calm Naeharie was downright loquacious. His coworkers seemed surprised, but pleasantly. He liked that he could give them a present.

Well, there was no avoiding it anymore. He needed to go bathe. But--wouldn't the hot springs be perhaps too crowded? Naeharie hated being looked at. He would get cleaner if he could be more alone, in a more open space. The underground lake would be more suited to his purposes.

He picked up a rock, and turned it over in his hands, meditating on where he should try to bathe. He dropped the rock into his pocket. He liked how heavy it was. Reassuring. Calm Naeharie had a very logical point, that the underground lake would be the ideal place to hide away with these great new rocks. There were probably even more rocks in the cave. He wasn't sure why Normal Naeharie was still waffling about it, except that Normal Naeharie was very stupid, and couldn't be trusted with important decisions. That was exactly why Normal Naeharie got thrown around like a bag of garbage.

He made his body sit. Normal Naeharie was doing a panic, as usual. He thought maybe he should just go to the hot springs and go home and have supper with the nice new company. It was only one man. He could go right back to his bees the next day like nothing happened. His future as a beastcraft master had way too much potential to really jeopardize, even Zasarine knew that.

Something was wrong with his face. He brushed his palm at his cheeks. Wet. He hadn't been aware his eyes were burning. This realization brought another with it, that his mouth was making sounds, entirely against his will. Small, pathetic, mewling nonsense. He picked up another rock, clutching it with shaking hands. Calm Naeharie knew he would need a lot of rocks to fix this problem.

Offline Xaeybl

Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2018, 11:08:11 AM »
Xaeybl flexed stiff fingers absently as she slipped from the tunnels out into the open, pleased with herself for making it that far undetected. It’d been almost a week since her adventure, scaling the walls of the caldera, and she was still in a fair amount of trouble. She didn’t mind, though, still riding the euphoric high of her success; double chores and the keen eyes of distrustful adults couldn’t bring her down! Not even her injuries could ruin her good mood: her fingers, still wrapped to keep the worst of the lacerations (gotten sliding down the cliff face after losing her grip) clean and on the mend, were starting to itch and her bruises were beginning to turn mottled, but it was all ephemeral. The firelizard eggs she’d acquired more than made up for the consequences of doing something she shouldn’t have (she’d never been told expressily no, which personally she thought should count for something in her favor, but that kind of logic wasn’t appreciated by the higher-ups.)

She followed the edge of the grass, keeping out of line of sight lest someone send her back for more chores, and would have missed the boy crumpled on the ground if not for it. Xaeybl didn’t recognize him--he was wearing the knot of a apprentice beastcrafter, and she usually didn’t interact much with non-proper weyrfolk, even though they all lived together now, weyrfolk and holders alike--but he looked awash with despair, wrapped up and shaking under the weight of it, and Xaeybl’s heart clenched.

He looked rough, and Xaeybl’s stomach swooped in discomfort as she cataloged his bruises. They weren’t those of an (mis)adventure, Xaeybl would know, she was well-acquainted with the acquisition and lifecycle of bruises gained in the line of living on edge; they looked like they were from another person, someone considerably bigger and stronger, and granted he was a waif of a kid so it wouldn’t take much to outclass him, but his wrists. Those weren’t the kind of bruises you got from a plain ol’ fisticuff. They spoke of something much darker, something Xaeybl had only ever seen echoes of in the more traditional holders they now shared space with. The weyr would never stand for it, but the holders had their own way of doing things and as long as no one spoke up nothing could be done. Xaeybl hated it.

Xaeybl straightened out her scowl into something more neutral--she didn’t want to scare him or put him on the defensive--and crouched down next to him, determined to do something. She suspected the situation could benefit from some kind of finesse, but she’d been told she severely lacked any such thing, so she played on her strengths instead. The way he was looking at that rock was worrisome, and required immediate action.

“I’ve got something much better you can collect,” she announced, snatching the rock out of his hands and replacing it with her second-favorite egg. She thought about giving him her favorite for a second, because he really looked like he needed a lot of something to make things better, but she didn’t know him and she couldn’t quite make herself go that far. Second-best would have to do; it was still a very nice looking egg, in her opinion, and it’s not like he’d know the difference anyway.

Offline Naeharie

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Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2018, 01:14:41 PM »
Naeharie was so startled by the intrusion that he couldn't call himself thrown out of the moment. He was thrown out of the stratosphere, out of space and time entirely, out of any metaphysical notion of human existence. Every part of his vibrating body was poised to rocket itself backwards and away, but somehow, he couldn't move. Calm Naeharie had officially lost control of the situation, and Normal Naeharie was back, staring at the new rock in his hands like he was trying to see inside it, eyes wet and wide and baffled.

What was it? What was it?

Something new to collect.

It was a beautiful, terrifying rock, egg-shaped and mossy. It could have been dropped anywhere and not looked out of place, except there were hairline streaks all over, in some faintly golden hue. They would have been easy to miss, but Naeharie was staring very intently.

Everything about this was wrong. People didn't give him things. People took things.

There was some catch he wasn't seeing.

He turned his head, slowly, to the person hunched beside him, who was not some lurking man but a wild-looking young girl. He'd never seen her before, but Naeharie saw remarkably few people, considering the cramped living situation. Her hands were wrapped, and he wondered if maybe she was a little like him, but he didn't think so. Her eyes were so vibrant. He could scarcely believe she was actually there, but she looked so alive.

He held this rock more delicately than the last one, like it would explode in his hands. Something in the back of his head whispered that this rock was heavy enough to go in his pockets, too. He wished his eyes would stop leaking.

He had no idea what this girl wanted from him. He felt like he should make words, but they were all stopped up, caught in a burning parade of phlegm in his throat. He cocked his head to the side, in silent question.

Offline Xaeybl

Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2018, 01:17:35 PM »
Xaeybl wasn’t quite sure what to make of his expression--baffled and wary were easy enough to pick up, but it went deeper than not understanding what a complete stranger was doing giving him a flit egg, a kind of desolation that gave Xaeybl chills--so she started talking in answer to his subtle, silent question:

“I explored up the caldera last week,” she informed him, gesturing in the direction she’d gone as reference, “and when I saw the nest I couldn’t pass up the chance, you know? how many people can say they got their flit egg after climbing up a cliff face? And yah, I tore up my fingers when I slipped and I’m still in awful trouble with the highers up, but--it was totally worth it. Everyone can use a flit--they make wonderful companions and lookouts and I know people who’ve taught theirs all kinds of neat tricks--and a wild-found egg is even better in my opinion! So I hope you don’t mind if I’m giving you one.”

There was a lot more that she could say, but she didn’t want him to think it was pity that drove her to gift the egg, or threaten him to take good care of it when he was already hurting and she didn’t know how he’d take it. So she made herself stop and take a breath, waiting to gauge his response.

Offline Naeharie

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Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 03:15:08 PM »
The rock looked like an egg because it was an egg. Of course. He had seen flit eggs before. Beastcrafters had plenty of them; a lot of people around the old Hold and the new weyr did. He was troubled by his blank inability to recognize such a common object. He wasn't processing reality right.

Something was very wrong with him.

There was a small and insistent voice inside him saying he couldn't keep an egg. He couldn't take care of anything. If he was responsible for anything, if anything loved him, he couldn't do what needed to be done. That was what that strange, other him had been there for, he realized. That was why he had been so calm. That was why he had never been able to articulate the full idea, even in his own head. He knew, deep down, what that other Naeharie had been doing, what normal Naeharie, the only Naeharie, had been ready to do.

He pulled the egg to himself. Everything about this still seemed unreal, suspicious--but he made himself believe in it, at least for the moment. He put his heart in this egg and this girl. If he focused on that, maybe he could walk away from the lake. Maybe he could figure out somewhere to go that wasn't the springs, either.

Maybe, maybe.

He nodded, shakily and gratefully, running his fingers along the contours of the egg. He could mouth the words, thank you, even if no sound came out.

Offline Xaeybl

Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 06:39:40 PM »
After a long, tense moment where she had no idea what he was thinking and that maybe she’d approached the situation all wrong, he drew the egg closer and whispered a thank you so quietly she wasn’t sure he’d actually spoken aloud at all. Xaeybl beamed, delighted he seemed to be warming to the idea, “I’m glad.”

She hummed, eyeing the egg contemplatively: “I’m not sure, of course, but it should be a couple more weeks before it hatches. Probably. Just keep it close to be safe. Do you know how to bond with it? you stuff it full the second it hatches. Simple. I can’t wait to see what color mine hatches as; it was a gold’s nest, so it could be anything! I don’t mind either way, but it’s hard waiting.”

She transitioned from crouching to sitting down cross-legged beside him, planing to keep him company while he slowly pulled himself back together. Contrary to popular belief, she was capable of patience if it meant reaching a goal, and she was rather hoping she could get him to admit who had hurt him; if there was one thing she hated more than anything, it was bullies, and if the boy couldn’t stand up for himself than Xaeybl would be happy to do it for him. For the moment, however, she waited, quietly lending support.

Offline Naeharie

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Re: So What Do I Do With This? [Xaeybl][07.07.2589]
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 03:14:02 PM »
Naeharie betrayed himself immediately by having a preference. He shouldn't even want this egg, shouldn't have it, but he found himself with a preference. He hoped it was something like a green, or maybe a blue, if it had to be. He didn't want anything grander than that. It would be too big to hide. If his egg hatched a gold, and he couldn't keep his parents from finding out about it, he wouldn't have a flit for very long. They would find some way to make money off it. They found some way to make money off everything.

But he could probably hide a green. His father probably wouldn't care about a green.

When he glanced sideways again, the girl had moved from a crouch to sitting next to him, like she intended to stay there. He was surprised to find he wasn't in a panic about it. He had already transformed her into a temporary anchor, and she was a convenient excuse to put off a decision and not leave this spot. She talked a lot. There were just an absurd number of human words coming out of her mouth.

He should make his mouth do something. He moved it in what he thought was a good approximation of warmth. Slight curve. This was a good human smile that humans made. He gestured to his apprentice knot with a small, wry twist of his hand.

He noticed the bruising on wrists had gotten much worse than the reddened skin it had been in the morning. He was alarmed that he hadn't done a better job hiding it; he was usually so meticulous about not letting people see those sorts of things. Everything he usually cared had been scrapped so utterly by his--by his plans. Maybe he had--even wanted someone to see, to finally acknowledge it, before it was all over.

Now his sudden visibility was intolerable. He drew his hand quickly back to clutching the egg, horrified that she had seen it. She must have noticed it before she had even come over. He could never go back to being invisible to this person.

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