From the Southern Territories, to the Wilds, to the Northern Continent. Here lies the rest of the world outside of the Weyr, where so much can happen.
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Quill to the paper, ink to the well, candle shed light, end forth this spell. Thoughts from his mind, turmoil be spent, time has now come, a lost soul to repent. Wrecked had been the chimera handler’s mind for naught but six days to the candlemark, each moment passing with vigor to the coming day. Nerosali had remained obstinately by her bonded’s side, until he unwillingly lashed out at her, dismissing her to find another mundane task to keep busy with. Saddened within her forlorn state the day wher remained perplexed within his actions, yet supported him in the only ways she knew possible - comfort. For within the eves she rested by his bed, mentally humming a lullaby to ease him into sleep, as she would a child. She’d been there with him for the past five turns, a blessing that he would never forget, but the lady of the blackened rose was too curious for her own good. Something he knew would only end in tears for everyone, but perhaps it was better that way. If only to get it over and done with, no longer being a tax upon their lives. He could recall the melody she trilled to him, the very same as the one she’d gifted him with upon the night she hatched. One that brought forth an ember to the darkness, yet had only too recently been snuffed out by another. Kinali couldn’t bring it upon himself to force her to witness any of this, or the reaping of which he’d sewn.
Within a basket set aside he’d addressed an envelope to his brother, inlaid with a wax seal containing the letter within — one of his own creation, reflecting that of the day wher he’d treasured to this very moment. To its side a sister letter addressed to Najiden, a confidant in his early hours of the weyr and a close family member by this point to his sibling. Lastly an unfinished, crisp parchment still partly folded with fresh ink upon it. A product he’d been unable to complete, or found the capacity to summon forth the words, save for his signature at the bottom and the adoration word he’d been uncertain of in closing — ‘Love,’. He was not an eloquent man, gregarious as he preferred to be. Learned and read perhaps, but Kinali’s vocabulary could never compare to the flowery poetics that Nerosali sported on a daily basis. Naji had been kind enough to let him peruse his own library, but even that had its limits for his own growth.
Only to remember the nightmares he’d witnessed and the horrors he’d experienced throughout life. Child’s play to the fiction ofted dotted upon in literature, by comparison to the drudgery and treachery he knew the world for. Humans in particular. Especially those you let into your heart. But he couldn’t blame them; he had only himself to blame. He’d been the fool — the fool who let them in. They had merely done what was in their nature. Now though? It was too late…beyond repair. One might say time healed everything, but there came a point for wounds to sink to a depth beyond mending. Salted and drug through a point of incarcerating what made him human. The fact that he felt others’ emotions only magnified the intensity. Empaths were unfathomably rare in most circumstances. What others may have viewed as a blessing, he now sought as a curse.
Sid’nis had become the focal point to his life next to Nerosali, bourn from the same day. A relationship that flourished through both, and yet as the door which swung to his cabin, in the past week had seen only one glimpse of the man. A final time, perhaps. He hadn’t even stepped inside, instead electing to exchange a few token words in brief passing. There was no altering the past, nor taking back acclaimed mistakes, regardless of whom or what they were attributed to. It didn’t matter. Everything his life had amounted to was now a life. Reaching stability? A false calamity. He’d found happiness, but was it really there, or true? Nero had been the only constant within the past five turns, and he knew he could depend on her no matter what. Others? He knew his brother would spare anything he could at any moment, but he had a life of his own. Kinali had only himself to blame. He hadn’t tried hard enough. Been outgoing enough.
His family fractured early in his youth, most of the blame faced to him as the newborn, despite the fact that others saw his father as the accomplice. Something which most families would have adored if not renewed bonds over, instead turned into signs of treachery. There was nothing within his power to mend those relations, and the onus had been entirely on him. His mother only worsened the accusations and grew a rift from his perspective early on to the point of him separating himself from her for a grand period in his life. Eloine had been kind enough to intervene to fix that, going above the call, but only proved further his failure to be mature to suck it up. In the end, had he not blown that out of proportion? His fault. Again.
The master under which he learned his trade were no different. Naturally, they had taken advantage of him, in far too many definitions of the word itself. Perhaps even creating one of their own. Orders placed for the craftsman had to be filled by him. Failure meant whippings or no food for the eve, or worse…being locked within the noble’s chambers for he and his consort to have their way with. A memory which had taken place on too many nights to count upon. Each worse than the one before. It was also how he’d been robbed of his virginity. But had he pressed onwards, he’d likely be afforded a more normalised life. Not a failure. It was something he kept secret from everyone — even his brother, and Sid’nis. Save his journal, there were no mentions of it. A truth or burden he couldn’t place upon them — it was his to bear.
He’d nearly died his first major excursion into the jungle, almost causing the very same tragedy to the bluerider he grew to love. The one who betrayed him. But was it not his fault, for failing to maintain the other’s interest? What else could have led him astray? Nerosali had been born that night, a candle to the gloom. Sid’nis had seen fit to snuff it out, the lady turning cold towards the rider the moment of the confession, enough to growl and chase him off the premises. Someone she had previously thought honourable and fit to be at her side with her rider. He’d let her down. Kinali had failed at protecting her in both senses, and lost her a true friend, because he had failed to maintain the relationship.
Six nights of wallowing in misery. A regaled ballad orated by the blackrose into his mind, attempting to soothe him and pacify him into rest. Now absent. He remembered the lyrics. “Child of the wilderness. Born into emptiness. Learn to be lonely, learn to find your way in darkness. Who will be there for you? Comfort and care for you. Learn to be lonely. Learn to be your one companion…” A sad reality. Something she would always support him, but a reminder that sometimes in life you were on your own. You had to bolster yourself for those moments so you could fall back upon it. And yet he’d been too weak. Something meant to help had instead forced his own thoughts to sink in deeper.
He’d set his mind, placing and sealing the last of the three envelopes into the basket alongside his journal near the bed. Something to deliver later. “Deliver what?” a voice beckoned within his mind. She’d returned for the evening, likely worried sick. Nerosali had always been the protective, overzealous one between the two. A counter to his passive nature. Kinali sighed. Much as he wanted her away from his misery, he could never begrudge or yell at her willingly. Bringing forth his decision to mind was bad enough, knowing full well that he would have to mislead her. A feat that he’d never done to anyone else intentionally…let alone the one being he could never find within himself to lie to. But it was maybe in her best interest to not witness everything.
“Letters,” he said with a sigh, rubbing her head. “I had hoped to deliver them in the morning…” he looked out the window, a draft tickled at the candle upon his desk. “I love you Nero,” he dotingly proclaimed with a tear in his eye, pressing a long kiss to her forehead. “Don’t ever change.”
Furrowing her expression the blackrose nudged him, affectionately pressing herself atop him. “You’re acting weird. Weirder than normal, especially as of late. Are you down again?”
“I…need to go away for a few days. Maybe deliver one of the packages from the complex to the nearby seahold. I just need to clear my head.”
“When will you be back?”
“I don’t know…” he admitted. “I don’t know. But I need you to stay here. You have your own responsibilities. Just know I love you, okay, Nero?” With but a clasp to his cloak, he snagged up the aforementioned package brought home with him from the crafter’s complex, fixing his boots before stepping out the door. “Can you make sure that the letters are delivered? They’re in the basket.”
“I…yes…” Nero groaned mentally, not wanting to argue on the matter. “I’m coming with you.”
“You can’t abandon the pack, love. You’re needed here. I need to find myself. Remember what I said when you were born? I’ll always be with you — in here.” Patting her torso within the region of a beating organ, he sighed. The day wher followed suit, another groan as she nuzzled him.
“You’re not coming back. Are you?” she asked point blankly. There was no fight or quarrel, although it was abundantly clear she was not pleased with the decision. Understanding as she was, the blackrose licked him affectionately, before nuzzling once more.
“I…don’t know, Nero. I don’t know.”
Learn to Be Lonely
Forty six candlemarks unnerved within two-thousand seven-hundred and sixty minutes against the dial's mark. His personal sundial had long since faded its use, as had his own to the world. Naught a tremor dwelled within his mind that he'd found purpose, if only for but a few brief turns. A reason within Nerosali, and mayhaps even the odd chance to prosper a family of his own, all in the dust of the past. He'd been trudging on through the muddied earth beyond a day, nearly two within the present rate before Kinali had detected any whispers of activity nearby. Save the occasional wild vermin or an unlucky bird plucked from its nest, all that remained out here, in the wilderness, was solitude. Peace, save for the fact that it was indeed a dangerous lair, brimming with treachery that could end his life within any given moment. He'd known it well. Trained against it, and even survived it despite the odds of his own life flashing before his eyes on more than one occasion within the jungle. How could he not?
Atricis spanned over a vast territory within the Southern Continent, and a reputation beheld its own nature. They strived to be self-sufficient as with the neighbouring weyrholds, despite their comparatively infantile life stage. More established perhaps, but that did not necessarily mean it was devoid of opportunity or high strung beyond reason. Minds were open, save perhaps his own. There was no way he could see himself out of his dilemma. No easy one, at least. Sid'nis had played all his cards, as had life before him. With but an empty hand, folding was the only true option that he'd been presented, and he could no longer maintain the facade that was his persona. The Grand Masquerade. Someone he wasn't.
Kinali was not the bubbling, overjoyous craftsman that he strove to be and portrayed himself as. In his life he'd known nothing other than cruelty, save for the occasional doting act of kindness. A candle to the gloom, often snuffed out at the most ill-fortuned moment, and none too soon before his depression often struck. An annual reminder which had become chronicled within his journal - the possession he carried with him everywhere, yet could not remotely be found upon his person in the given second. He'd left it home, with everything else. A life behind him. Something that would eventually repair itself after he was gone, free of him damaging it even further.
He'd traveled north, yonder past the jungle near the cliffs leading out to the ocean. Far away from the seahold betrothed to the nearby weyr, or the ever-growing flotilla. His estimates were off without any tools, or his personal sextant but hundreds of leagues at easiest given mark. None of it through forgiving terrain, given the wilderness between them. The jungle was not so inviting, and while it too held its dangers, it also meant solitude. Unless you meant life itself, which had, despite its own nature and viciousness, held within it an odd serenity. One last gift.
Half a day's journey behind him he'd nearly encountered a convoy -- one he steered clear of. These parts were unsavory. Backwater. Away from common road, and more than likely trafficked in anything but sanctioned commerce. He'd been an effective slave once. It wasn't on his list again. While he had no experience in covering his tracks, and knew they were likely to be able to follow within relative ease, the constant rainfall helped. For the moment. All he could muster within any given second was the fact that he had time to himself.
Maybe if he had lived life on his own, out here, it mayhaps not have been so bad. True, a wild feline may yet end his short existence. But it couldn't have been so bad. Nerosali had come from these parts, and although he could never find said locale again...it was none too blessed to be around here again.
Night had crept past the horizon, leaving him in comparative darkness. Something his eyes had begun to adapt to after traveling in the gloom for the past day and a half, sleeping under the cover of bramble and leaves more often than not. It wasn't comfortable -- anything but. Yet it provided him solitude. Something he would never be able to achieve back within Atricis' walls. Kinali knew it was only a matter of time before Nerosali would have drug him out to square off with Sid'nis or his brother, to right the wrongs against him. Something he couldn't face. He couldn't bear to see Inakil's expression of disappointment when he realised that his entire life had been a failure and naught but a lie.
Who was he kidding though? He'd lied to himself. Brought this entire ordeal upon himself. Some might have said that he was overreacting. But was it really such a feat when you had the weight of the world compounding upon you, a reminder of your past and the fact that it often repeated itself? Twenty five, nearly twenty six turns upon this world and yet he couldn't get even the barest of life choices in order. A poor judge of character in the least. Save for the Blackrose, he couldn't mark one positive impact of his own on any of the communities he'd ever been a part of. Let alone personal relationships. Was it so much to ask for a break from it all? Sweet release?
How could he even be considering that as an option though? A quitter. Defeatist. It wasn't who he was raised to be. Then again...he raised himself, under even the least of scrutiny. Bourn under an eyeglass one could see that he was on his own from the first day. Maybe even neglected. Whether that be his relatives' faults or his own, he hadn't cried out for help loud enough. Too proud of his own status, and self-sufficiency to do so, and fearful of becoming a burden. Yet that's what had happened. Each time. Even recently.
A burden upon his brother's life. Najiden, who was likely worried just as much. And...he could barely come to think of how Sid'nis thought of him any longer. The love was clearly all but expired on one part of the equation. That could have been the only explanation.
Stretched thin across a decrepit log, moss crawled beneath his fingernails, his hair damp and bangs lined against his face. His clothes were torn and drenched beyond the point of repair, and frankly? He didn't care. There was little in the world he did care about any more. Staples, of which he'd always worry for. But then again, those could never be removed from his mind. He could only remove himself from the picture.
Crack. A snap behind him, with a resounding slick of boots pressing into the sloshed mud. The stinging hiss of fire lit to wood as lightning struck down against one of the jungle trees far to the west. But that hadn't been it. Something else was off. He jumped from the recursion, nearly falling off the log in the process. "We know you're out here. Been following that pretty face for a day now."
Joy. The last thing he needed to add to everything. On top of wanting to end it all someone had been looking for, or worse tracking him. Given the fact that he was anything but adept at keeping himself hidden or stealthy, his presence had been given away much to his chagrin, a net already tossed in his direction. Snagging upon a branch overhead, Kinali took the opportunity, breaking off into a mad diving sprint.
He couldn't see. Not with this weather, nor the darkness surrounding him. His eyes readjusting weren't doing him any favors, the glare of the torch earlier having scorched his retinas praying to re-dilate. He was done playing games. And just as his eyes finally gained adaptation he'd realised his fatal mistake. North.
There was nowhere else to go, save over and down. Far below, into the crag and the violent waves of a relentless ocean lined with rocks that were treacherous enough to sink most ships. Behind him he could hear the clatter of runner hooves and boots skittering after him. Sighing, a tear dripped from his eye. "Masquerade. Paper faces on parade. Masquerade. Hide your face, so the world will never find you." He cried softly, emotions cracking within his mind. Vision blurred. Looking back, one last time, he jumped.