[P] keep a candle burning in the window
#1
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He left his home early that morning not to bask in the sun before it shifted from orange to gold, but to avoid the worst of the daylight during any episode of a multi-day migraine. How funny it was, that Neith called himself a doctor but was utterly helpless in solving some his own nagging aches and pains.


His family knew he was coming, and it seemed some of the household had already scattered by the time of his arrival. He ducked through the front curtain without knocking or properly announcing himself (a difficult habit to break, considering he’d been moved from the residence less than a month) but called out, “I’m here, Ondine.”


She had requested his help preparing herb satchels, which he himself had watched but never taken the time to learn thoroughly. Especially given the peace and solidarity to study within his new home, his talents in healing grew by the day, and the skeleton between the windows slowly became more and more accurate as he switched parts around.


He set his bag on the table, pressed fingers to his pounding temples, and cast a long look into his old room. “Have Garsea or Victoire moved in there, yet?”


This is predated a couple weeks, long enough for Neith to be settled into his new place.

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#2
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Maybe all of these things made me who I am

It was not the best time to be preparing herbs, but Ondine thought it would be a nice excuse to bring her brother home. Her mother had also made the comments that they would soon need to ready themselves for the spring and summer blooms. Their stocks would be replenished then and it was an easy way to take count of what they had and what they ought to put more attention toward. Isabella herself was not in, having taking the children out for an herbal lesson that early spring day.


The curtain swished behind her and she glanced over her shoulder, smiling at her brother. "Hello, dear brother," she said cheerily with a very doggish wave of the tail. Her smile faltered as he rubbed at his head, a clear sign that the headaches did not abate despite both of their attempts at healing him. They were not kept at bay and she wondered what on earth was wrong with him. She knew Lokr had troubles of that variety, just like her own blooded sister had, but neither had a real treatment other than braving it and moving past it.

"Yes, yes they have, but they're growing children and are happy for the space, even if they are sharing with Mother." She waved him over with her short knife, all the remaining dried herbs spread out across several baskets and jars. Mint, lavender, willow, and swamp rose were in the greatest abundance still, and the lesser herbs were in their respective piles for all that they were low in quantity. "Do you want something to drink first? Victoire refreshed the water this morning or we can stoke the embers for tea?" she offered gently, eyes roving his face.

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<div class="title">Ondine Heiwa</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">But I've been wondering, why can't you see? If the door opens up we go where it leads</span><br>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Packs.SalsolaAdoptables"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/6rQpoaQ.png" title="Adopt in Salsola"></a><a href="https://salsola.soulsrpg.com/"><img src="https://i.imgur.com/WCpDZaN.png"></a><br>
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#3
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Most of the family was out, a blessing in disguise. He had not necessarily moved from the Heiwa household to escape them, but never rejected the idea while doing so; five was too many for that tiny home, and Neith had forged for himself enough influence and position within Salsola to call for a space of privacy. The quiet bothered him some nights, and others he longed for visitors, but the change was permanent and Neith had to remind himself it was for the best.


“I’m glad, but it’s still a little crowded with her,” he said, standing to browse the vessels she set out and breathe in their combination of wafting scents. “It’s clear she does not want to go back to the Outpost. Lillith’s gone, I can’t fault her. Perhaps we should talk to someone about getting her a little cottage here.”


He did not hesitate when she offered him a drink. “Tea, yes. Tea would be good. I trust your morning is going better than my own, hm?” He squinted through the light at her to make a point. “I can drink it during. What do we need to get started?”

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#4
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Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine had to smile at the suggestion that their mother find her own place. She did shake her head, though, and gestured around them. "You know she'd never leave this home that she built up from the bottom. I mean, I can't blame her for not going back to the Outpost. What else is she supposed to do alone? Spend time with Delfina?" The Seer gave a derisive snort, unafraid of the teasing of her sister, for they had been separated for long enough that she was no longer in danger from the enemy of her youth.

She went to the embers and began to poke at it, after having refilled the kettle with water from the bucket. "It'll take a minute but we can do some work while it boils." Ondine caught the glint in his eyes and knew that he was either having a difficult time or that another headache was ripping through his mind. It was clear that their various remedies had done nothing to alleviate the pain for long enough.

"If you want, we can make some sleeping satchels, since I think plenty of people might need that." She had some leftover valerian, and quite a bit of chamomile in a pile. It would be the easiest to make and safest to make for general use. Stronger dosages of the sleeping plant would be far too potent to give in easy to give packets. "Maybe add some powdered willow root for some?" she suggested as she nudged the pot even closer to the coals.


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<div class="title">Ondine Heiwa</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">But I've been wondering, why can't you see? If the door opens up we go where it leads</span><br>
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#5
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“Delfina... She’s down there all alone. It sounds terrible, but I’d nearly forgotten about her.” Rather, Neith had probably put her out of his memory. Delfina was something of their black sheep, equal parts an enigma and a headache, with a Salsolan sort of wit and cunning that few of her family knew how to deal with. She had the makings of Isabella in her. After all, it always seemed like Delfina was hovering about her mother’s shadow, expecting something. “I wonder why she hasn’t followed all of us up here.”


His sister put the tea to boil and began to arrange her herbs. Before she could mention her plans to create sleeping satchels Neith recognized chamomile and valerian in the pile she put together, and quietly prided himself on his own knowledge. Since drawing inspiration from the windswept illness during the previous spring, the Heiwa had dumped countless hours into the study of herbs and the study of anatomy. He called himself a doctor in a very light sense; he knew what to administer in cases of poisoning or how to stitch a wound, but it would be some time yet before he could stand in the shadow of Bane before him.


“Powdered willow root? To what end? I thought the other two alone would be good enough.”

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#6
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Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine gave a snort. Neith had not grown up with Delfina constantly torturing him, making predictions, and treating him as though he were some slave of hers. He may have gotten her bullying as a pup but with Lillith, Delfina had always been on the fringes and seemed more wary of the woman. That she likely tormented him at the Outpost seemed likely, too, but Ondine was very glad that her hated sister was far from her and her brood.

“There’s too much competition here for her. She may have some of our mother’s ambition, but she did not inherit the good work ethic since she had everything handed to her. It’d be far easier for her to rise to the top of the Outpost than to the top of Salsola proper.” Delfina was nothing if not interested in the highest ranks, but her interest was not strong enough to overcome the work that came with such positions.

His question made her pause, humming thoughtfully. “Not all, just some, I think. Since for some it may be a struggle to sleep, for others it could be combined with pain. I know some of our fighters have their phantom pains from old battle wounds that might wake them. Plus, Mother takes her herbal teas with willow more often nowadays.” The unspoken fact lingered; the matriarch of their line was getting older for all that she fought to hide the fact.

“We scavenge for more herbs in the warmer weather. I think I’m going to be very judicious about my plants, too. I feel something coming and it’s not a sweet taste on the wind.” She was grim as she rose up to grab the bowls for tea and the already made mixes of tea. She grabbed rosehip tea for herself and something willow to add for Neith. It took a moment for the water to heat but she was soon carrying the cups to the table, steaming and floral.

“If we take out valerian, they can be calming satchets. I used chamomile tea soaked cloth when the pups were teething.” She shrugged as she set down the bowl, sighing at the pile of herbs strewn about.

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<div class="title">Ondine Heiwa</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">But I've been wondering, why can't you see? If the door opens up we go where it leads</span><br>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Packs.SalsolaAdoptables"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/6rQpoaQ.png" title="Adopt in Salsola"></a><a href="https://salsola.soulsrpg.com/"><img src="https://i.imgur.com/WCpDZaN.png"></a><br>
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#7
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“Ambition, but not for competition,” summarized Neith, and found the analysis apt for the many observations he had made of his half-sister growing up. Upon his departure from the Outpost, Neith assumed his observations of Delfina marred and manipulated by youth and inexperience, but it seemed he had been more keen than he thought. How strange it was that Ondine never spoke of her, never wished to see her. Pockets of the Heiwa family were tight-knit; others, virtually ostracized, though it was never acknowledged verbally. Defina, Krios, even Elektra.


The difference was in their embrace for the wretched Salsolan ways, Neith realized. Who would be next, then? Victoire or Garsea? “Will you have them meet her?” he asked, noticing the gap between his thoughts and his words a moment too late. “Your children, I mean. Has Krios?”


His thoughts drifted at mention of his mother, and an “I see,” was mumbled somewhere between. She was getting older. She was getting increasingly difficult, too. Social charms were wasted on the old, and Isabella clung loudly and steadfast to her values and priorites in what time he had left. Namely, meddling in her childrens’ private lives.


“That is no joking matter,” he said on her intuition of the wind, and graciously accepted the tea once given. “You are Seer, after all. What is it you’re sensing?” A pause. “Would willow root help? Valerian? You’ve given me valerian. I’ve found it plenty calming.”

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#8
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Maybe all of these things made me who I am

She knew it was odd of her to have such a strong dislike of Delfina, but she knew she was right to feel the way she did. There was nothing she could do about it nor did she want to bridge the gap. Her last memories of her sister were that of a manipulative woman who seemed smug, superior. Ondine wanted nothing to do with her childhood tormentor and hoped the woman stayed away from her new family. Those judgmental eyes were far too much for her to tolerate.

"No, they have not met her." There was no mention of when they would, but it was clear from her sharp tone that she had no such plans. What she would do with them, she had no idea, but she feared the idea that Delfina would latch onto Victoire or Garsea and start to warp them toward her. They were impressionable and she wanted them to settle into themselves before they were exposed to her machinations.

Ondine also knew that their relationship with their mother was going to be strained as she aged and she became more ornery. It was starting to get more and more pronounced with how vocal she was about her distaste for this new generation of Salsolans, for all that her love was ever full for her children and grandchildren. She had nothing else to say about Isabella.

She did pause to give him a look, though, searchingly. "Valerian helps bring sleep and quiet, more so than chamomile or lavender." Her eyes did not leave Neith's face, boring into him. He had to have sensed the darkness on the wind, even if it was hard to pinpoint where it was coming from.

"It's.. less clear than I like, but the Goddess can be selective of what she shows, especially if she thinks it's time to test my patience and loyalty." She shook her head. "Something dangerous. I can guess what it is, especially as it gets stronger, and bolder, and I know you know what it is," she added sidelong, pushing Valerian, chamomile, and lavender toward her brother as an example.

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<div class="title">Ondine Heiwa</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">But I've been wondering, why can't you see? If the door opens up we go where it leads</span><br>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Packs.SalsolaAdoptables"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/6rQpoaQ.png" title="Adopt in Salsola"></a><a href="https://salsola.soulsrpg.com/"><img src="https://i.imgur.com/WCpDZaN.png"></a><br>
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#9
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He could not help but wonder: With gods, where did her limitations lie?


Ondine could sense things, forboding things, and allowed the credit to go to her gods. How much had they led her to predict? How much had been common sights and observations, hunches, that his intelligent sister had pierced together independently, and allowed intangible daydreams swindle from her? Who was Seer then, she or her gods?


Neith was aware of his insensitivity. He allowed her to practice and preach and said nothing about it. He watched Krios turn a different direction, just as his uncle had, and wondered which way Victoire and Garsea would sway. He wondered if Delfina had done the same, creating a rift and filling it with arrogance. That Delfina was difficult Neith knew for himself, but he questioned how much more Ondine had seen of her since their physical separation—or whether her gods gave her all the insight she needed.


A part of him felt as if he’d asked too many questions. Neith let the subject fall away without further comment.


She directed three piles of herbs to him, and the Heiwa quietly began scooping them into mixed satchets under her direction. I know you know what it is, said his sister, and Neith looked at her inquisitively, his ears turning forward and back as he fought an immediate response. He was not emotionally kind with Salsola; dangers were an ever-constant in his mind, always approaching, a hide tide that never waned.


“I do,” or at least he thought he did. “I couldn’t say to what end.”


He thought she spoke of Salsola as a whole. They were emboldened by the growing generations, both his own and that of Krios and Kamari and where Ask should have fallen in. He measured and filled satchets in quiet, considering the roles they played, the theatre in which they wore masks and performed.


The young doctor’s hands paused. “Is this where your goddess wants you? Serving teas and tending to your mother?” He looked to her. “Have you seen what will become of us?”


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#10
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Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine soldiered on, filling the remaining herbs into satchets, and making mental notes about them. There was a growing list of things she would need to find and dry, add to her garden, and potentially trade for from Portland. But that last was something low on her priority, as she had no interest in seeing her sister. Delfina would trade for her, if a letter was sent, hopefully.

Still, she preferred not to think of such a thing.

She paused when her brother spoke, fingers in the midst of tying some rough cordage around the mouth of a bag. Those limbs settled slowly to the surface and the Seer sighed. Part of his words seemed to be questioning her purpose, and whether or not she was happy doing what she did.

"This is the only life that I know, brother," she said softly, looking only to her herbs and her hands. There was a life outside of Salsola, and she had seen the happy glimpses of it enough to know she wanted some semblance of it. But she was not brave enough to abandon her family, nor did she want to leave her children to her mother's care with Salsola in such a state with an unknown future ahead of it. "I think if we are smart, we will make it through without any trouble. But you need to be careful. I know you're smart, but I hope you know that family seems to be the only people to trust here," she said with dire warning in her voice.

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<div class="title">Ondine Heiwa</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">But I've been wondering, why can't you see? If the door opens up we go where it leads</span><br>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Packs.SalsolaAdoptables"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/6rQpoaQ.png" title="Adopt in Salsola"></a><a href="https://salsola.soulsrpg.com/"><img src="https://i.imgur.com/WCpDZaN.png"></a><br>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Players.Gen">Player Wiki</a> • <a href="https://soulsrpg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=730">Commissions</a> • <a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Characters.OndineHeiwa">Character Wiki</a>
<br><span style="font-size:12px;opacity:.7;">avatar by <a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Players.Alaine">Alaine</a></span>
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