[P] Why do I do this to myself every time?
P. Kalypso
#1
[html]

A silence, as clear as night in the middle of day, stretched far and wide around him. With his living children nursing alongside the warmth of Naomi Stryder and her respected mother, there was nothing but silence and death to entertain him. He huffed a humorless chuckle and the cloud that billowed from his lips laughed back at him as sardonically.


His dark daughter had pass into... whatever afterlife there was or was not to be had.


And so had his wife.


For a long while, he sat with their breathless bodies and wondered what to do. Because while he had seen death many times before in his life, there had never been any instruction that he could recall about what to do with the bodies of those of the loved. He lowered his eyes over them, dark against light, and bit his lip. Instinctively, he hoped that they were together.


Whatever god he did or did not believe, he desperately hoped that mother and daughter were together.


Merlin breathed in and, tilting his head subtly, he brushed his mate's pale head with his thumb before stroking the small body of his darkest daughter with the width of his palm. "I'll be back," he promised out of habit, reminding himself too late that they couldn't possibly hear him.


Could they?


No.


Agonizingly, he arched and eased himself up and away from his deceased loved ones. And, after a sweeping glance at the pair of them against on another, Merlin slipped out into the bitter cold and felt alive.


This was what he needed. This was what he deserved.


Stepping carefully through trodden snowpack, he found his way to the King's Bastion and followed the scent trails to Kalypso's residence. As he neared, he faltered slightly. Would she believe him? Would she do anything to help their children? He breathed in and released the breath again slowly. Whatever happened, he had to try.


He had to try.


Breathing in again, Merlin lifted is arm and rapped his knuckles against Kalypso's door.


OOC: Dated after this monstrosity.

[WC — 345]


<style>
.MERLINborder {border-style: solid; border-width: 3.5px; border-color: #000000;}
.MERLINboxpic {background-image:url('https://image.ibb.co/hbvGdQ/Decorative_Divider129_650px.png'); background-repeat:no repeat; width:650px; height:107px; background-position: center; margin: auto;}
.MERLINboxin {padding:20px; font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; text-align:justify;}
.MERLINboxin p:first-child:first-letter {text-indent:40px; margin:0px; float: left; color: #000000; font-size: 75px; line-height: 60px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 8px; padding-left: 3px; font-family: 'Amita', cursive;}
.MERLINboxin p {font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; font-size:18px; margin:0px; padding:3px;}
.MERLINboxin p + p {text-indent:60px;}
.MERLINboxin .npc1 {font-weight:bold; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin .npc2 {font-style: italic; font-weight:normal; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin p.ooc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: left; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
.MERLINboxin p.wc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: right; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
</style>

[/html]
#2
[html]

There was a tense sort of air in the room lit by the hearth. No extra candles were lit as a trio of yearlings quietly worked on splitting dried lengths of woody stems. The rhythmic thud of stones crushing open the stems to expose the fibers was met with the zipping hum of those fibers being split apart. Isadore was pounding open the stems with his stone and adding them into a neat pile. Athalie and Eulalie took the split stems and peeled away the fibers into strands before hanging the strands on the makeshift rack nearest the fire.

Kalypso felt so wound up, tighter than the coils of twine she was making with the dried out fibers. Twist and wrap, twist and wrap. It was work she could do without thinking. It was work they all did without thinking. Their minds wandered. Kalypso's fingers would have been clenching if she had not forced them all into doing work.

The knock on the door made her hands jerk and the pounding of stone on stem stopped. The twine she was twisting slowly unraveled as she dropped it, letting it dangle from the nail embedded in the poor, abused table. Three pairs of nervous eyes looked up at her as she stood, swallowing hard.

Absently wiping tiny fibers from her fingers, she opened the door and saw a face she truly did not think she wanted to see.

Her face fell when she saw no golden, scarred, beautiful creature behind him. She knew that Thyri had not been doing well. She had not been able to offer any advice. Thyri had been the medic. Hers had been the hands that healed. Who healed the healer when the healer ailed?

Is it..? she began slowly, heart tightening as she searched Merlin's eyes. Was Thyri gone?

Was another part of her gone?

311
you're a heart breaker, did you know, you monster?

<style type="text/css">
.gbasic {width:650px; padding:5px; margin:0px auto; 'Roboto', sans-serif; text-align:justify; }
.gbasic p {text-indent: 25px; font-family: 'Roboto', sans-serif; font-size:15px; text-align:justify;line-height:150%;}
.gbasic p.oocstuff {border-top:1px solid black; padding-top:3px; padding-left:3px; font-size:14px; text-align:center;text-indent:0px;}
.gbasic npc { letter-spacing:.5px; opacity: .75;font-weight:bold; }
.gbasic b:before, npc:before { contentHuhpen-quote; }
.gbasic b:after, npc:after { content:close-quote; }
.gbasic b.lang:before, npc.lang:before { content:'< '; }
.gbasic b.lang:after, npc.lang:after { content:' >';}
</style>
[/html]
#3
[html]

His wasn't the face she wanted to see, as evidenced in sinking of her expression. Merlin shifted his weight. The feeling was mutual. This wasn't the place he wanted to be.


Standing in the threshold, caught between cold and warmth; death and life, Merlin said nothing for what felt like a very long time. But the glassy look in his eyes and the way his shoulders sagged spoke volumes. What was there to say anyway? Still, he tried. "I... I..." He swallowed, attempting to untie the knot wound up in his throat. "I... tried, but..."


Tears beaded his lower eyelids. One crested its ridge and slid silently down his dull face. In lieu of words, Merlin only shook his head. Slowly, mechanically. Numbly. When his head stilled again, the silence expanded. He fixed his eyes ahead of him, through the threshold and into a home that was filled with light and life, but saw nothing.


"Its so quiet now." An eternity passed before he blinked again and saltwater raindrops fell from his eyes. "I don't know what to do."


Not with their bodies, not with his memories, not with himself or his grief or the gaping bleeding red-raw rip in chest that laid open his heart. Where did he go from here? Where did any of them go from here?


OOC: T^T

[WC — 224]


<style>
.MERLINborder {border-style: solid; border-width: 3.5px; border-color: #000000;}
.MERLINboxpic {background-image:url('https://image.ibb.co/hbvGdQ/Decorative_Divider129_650px.png'); background-repeat:no repeat; width:650px; height:107px; background-position: center; margin: auto;}
.MERLINboxin {padding:20px; font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; text-align:justify;}
.MERLINboxin p:first-child:first-letter {text-indent:40px; margin:0px; float: left; color: #000000; font-size: 75px; line-height: 60px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 8px; padding-left: 3px; font-family: 'Amita', cursive;}
.MERLINboxin p {font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; font-size:18px; margin:0px; padding:3px;}
.MERLINboxin p + p {text-indent:60px;}
.MERLINboxin .npc1 {font-weight:bold; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin .npc2 {font-style: italic; font-weight:normal; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin p.ooc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: left; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
.MERLINboxin p.wc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: right; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
</style>

[/html]
#4
[html]

Her breath came in sharply and then tightly stopped as she held it in. So, it was exactly what they had feared and prayed for salvation from. Clearly, no god above had listened to their muttering and prayers. No god would be so merciful as to let the suffering Thyri just have a good birth with no major complications. Had she been praying to the wrong thing all along?

Merlin.., she began, trailing off as she watched the man struggle with the reality that had been settled on their plates.

Behind her came the sound of shifting bodies as her trio of healthy, hale children rose to stand behind their mother. Why would a god be so merciful to her and give her three healthy children and keep her own body intact and resilient while a more deserving, more worthy mother died shortly after one of her children? What kind of god would let such a horror happen?

Merlin cried his salty tears and Kaly felt her own stomach drop out, sinking into her pelvis as it roiled. Her heart clenched and she wanted to sob as well. She could hear the soft sobbing of one of her daughters, but it was simply something she could not do. No, Kaly had to be the sturdy one, the collected one. She had to guide them through the grief before she would even consider letting herself break.

She looked over her shoulder at her numb, disbelieving children. Eulalie was the one crying as a blank-faced Isadore rubbed her back. Athalie had her eyes shut and was breathing deeply and visibly, likely to keep from crying, too.

Go find Pascal and Gaia, let them know, alright? Gaia was still around at that point and Pascal would have to be told. Let it be given by her children, who were likely more welcome to him than she was. Isadore met her gaze and gave a single nod.

Kalypso moved toward Merlin, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder as she pushed slightly. Come, we have some things to do, she said softly to him as she rubbed his shoulder as soothing as she could. It was easy to comfort others; it made it so much easier to ignore the way her heart was breaking with every step toward Thyri's home. The door to her own rooms shut as her trio left it on their way to find their aunt and uncle to share the bitter news.

They were likely halfway to the Square from the Bastion when Kaly spoke up again. Do you know if Thyri would have wanted a Vinattan funeral? Like we had done for her mother? she began gently, knowing that it was hard but it had to be done quickly. The small mercy was that it was not the height of summer, though dry would was going to be difficult to manage.

484

<style type="text/css">
.gbasic {width:650px; padding:5px; margin:0px auto; 'Roboto', sans-serif; text-align:justify; }
.gbasic p {text-indent: 25px; font-family: 'Roboto', sans-serif; font-size:15px; text-align:justify;line-height:150%;}
.gbasic p.oocstuff {border-top:1px solid black; padding-top:3px; padding-left:3px; font-size:14px; text-align:center;text-indent:0px;}
.gbasic npc { letter-spacing:.5px; opacity: .75;font-weight:bold; }
.gbasic b:before, npc:before { contentHuhpen-quote; }
.gbasic b:after, npc:after { content:close-quote; }
.gbasic b.lang:before, npc.lang:before { content:'< '; }
.gbasic b.lang:after, npc.lang:after { content:' >';}
</style>
[/html]
#5
[html]

Three young, healthy figures fanned behind their mother and Merlin looked straight through them. In some ways he felt as though a ghost, as though a part of himself had died today as well and was drifting aimlessly among the living. What warmth there was left, he felt none of it. Everything was cold. Dead, and cold.


Kalypso's voice instructing her children with a task stirred something within him and, slowly, he pulled himself out of the dark depths with a flurry of blinks. Pascal. Pascal and Gaia. Of course they should know. "Thank you," he whispered, though whether it was to Kalypso or to her children was anyone's guess.


Not even Merlin knew the answer.


The pressure of her hand on his shoulder drew his eyes to hers. For a while, he said nothing and stared into the twin tropical pools set into her face. Finally, though, he nodded once, mechanically, and murmured an affirming word. What those things were that they had to do, Merlin couldn't even guess at – not in the state of shock and grief of numbness he was presently in – and he was more than willing to defer entirely to Kalypso.


Trekking back through the snow and ice to the quiet of their— his home, Merlin felt as though he were navigating a nightmare. "I..." He swallowed. "I think she so, yes. She never gave up wearing her Vináttan necklace. It is— It was important to her. And her gods, too." Though what they had ever done for her, Merlin thought that it was very little compared to her devotion to them.


What good were gods if this was the result of a lifetime's worth of loyalty?


"She will want Rúna with her, too..." he added thickly, the words sticking in his throat. The nearer they approached, the more his heart raced and his chest ached as reality returned to painfully sharp focus. "They have to be together."


[WC — 329]


<style>
.MERLINborder {border-style: solid; border-width: 3.5px; border-color: #000000;}
.MERLINboxpic {background-image:url('https://image.ibb.co/hbvGdQ/Decorative_Divider129_650px.png'); background-repeat:no repeat; width:650px; height:107px; background-position: center; margin: auto;}
.MERLINboxin {padding:20px; font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; text-align:justify;}
.MERLINboxin p:first-child:first-letter {text-indent:40px; margin:0px; float: left; color: #000000; font-size: 75px; line-height: 60px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 8px; padding-left: 3px; font-family: 'Amita', cursive;}
.MERLINboxin p {font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; font-size:18px; margin:0px; padding:3px;}
.MERLINboxin p + p {text-indent:60px;}
.MERLINboxin .npc1 {font-weight:bold; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin .npc2 {font-style: italic; font-weight:normal; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin p.ooc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: left; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
.MERLINboxin p.wc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: right; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
</style>

[/html]
#6
[html]

Kalypso felt detached from the reality she walked. It was as though she were watching herself function and go through the motions after a loss rather than truly being present in her body. She had felt that detachment begin the moment she stepped away from the warmth of her rooms with Merlin in tow. She had forced herself to become focused and brusque if only to keep from descending into a pile of teary screams. It did her some good to take the reins. Merlin had been there to witness the entirety of Thyri's decline, so it was a tiny mercy she could give him.

Vinattan it is. She nodded firmly, already letting the thoughts and plans coalesce in her mind into something of a organized to-do list. She had no concept of any other method of burial, but she would not have let Athras or Iomair impose their beliefs onto the funerary plans for Thyri. Thyri was not a Caledonian. She was a Courtier. She was a Viking. She would be buried as she would have wanted and no other way.

Kaly did not really think either of them would impose their will on the mourning family, but she was prepared to fight back. It would not have ended well for her, but she had been prepared.

At the doorway to the once lively home, full of laughter and the rapture of longed-after motherhood, she paused. Merlin had said that her living nieces were at Teagan's, which would be somewhere to go later. First, the worst part. She pushed open the door, glancing at the man for a moment. Do you want to wait out here? she asked gently, the door only halfway open.

289

<style type="text/css">
.gbasic {width:650px; padding:5px; margin:0px auto; 'Roboto', sans-serif; text-align:justify; }
.gbasic p {text-indent: 25px; font-family: 'Roboto', sans-serif; font-size:15px; text-align:justify;line-height:150%;}
.gbasic p.oocstuff {border-top:1px solid black; padding-top:3px; padding-left:3px; font-size:14px; text-align:center;text-indent:0px;}
.gbasic npc { letter-spacing:.5px; opacity: .75;font-weight:bold; }
.gbasic b:before, npc:before { contentHuhpen-quote; }
.gbasic b:after, npc:after { content:close-quote; }
.gbasic b.lang:before, npc.lang:before { content:'< '; }
.gbasic b.lang:after, npc.lang:after { content:' >';}
</style>
[/html]
#7
[html]

He lead her through a world devoid of warmth and color and ebullience: a world after death. His world. But his world had become their world now and soon, much like a mold, it would spread.


Infectious.


Sometimes pleasant or innocuous things were considered infectious, like smiles and laughter and yawns. Merlin felt a scoff scuff the roof of his mouth. Only shiny, happy people used such adjectives with optimism. People who knew only kind words and full bellies and fair treatment. People who only lost loved ones who had lived full, long, beautiful lives.


Not people who knew slavery. Not people whose gods had turned their backs on them. Not people who lost children. Not people who lost young mates.


There was nothing cheerful about infection.


He wasn't sure how long they had been stopped there, in front of their— his house, but Merlin had been lost so deeply in his thoughts that it could have been some time. Not until Kalypso asked her question did he realize that they had arrived. He looked at her blankly for several beats, feeling the tingling numbness of his body and trying to pretend it was fine, before shaking his head. "No," he replied softly. "I need to be there. With them. I need to be with them."


For as long as he would be allowed to do so, it was his duty to be with his wife and daughter until they were given up to whatever ritual Vinátta had in store for them.


"They're there," he whispered, gesturing to the immobile silhouettes ahead. They could have been furniture or a pile of furs for all the stillness they had in death. Only they weren't. They had been living, breathing, soulful beings only hours before. "Just there."


Now they were nothing but bodies.


[WC — 305]


<style>
.MERLINborder {border-style: solid; border-width: 3.5px; border-color: #000000;}
.MERLINboxpic {background-image:url('https://image.ibb.co/hbvGdQ/Decorative_Divider129_650px.png'); background-repeat:no repeat; width:650px; height:107px; background-position: center; margin: auto;}
.MERLINboxin {padding:20px; font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; text-align:justify;}
.MERLINboxin p:first-child:first-letter {text-indent:40px; margin:0px; float: left; color: #000000; font-size: 75px; line-height: 60px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 8px; padding-left: 3px; font-family: 'Amita', cursive;}
.MERLINboxin p {font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; font-size:18px; margin:0px; padding:3px;}
.MERLINboxin p + p {text-indent:60px;}
.MERLINboxin .npc1 {font-weight:bold; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin .npc2 {font-style: italic; font-weight:normal; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin p.ooc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: left; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
.MERLINboxin p.wc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: right; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
</style>

[/html]
#8
[html]

Kaly's look was sympathetic, but she had to respect him for choosing to go in with her. It was a difficult choice to make but they were limited on helping hands with her children away spreading the message as needed to the close family. Not that Kalypso would have allowed them to help with it. It was not their place to prepare their aunt and cousin for the afterlife. Too close to death for those so young. She wanted their hands to be untainted for as long as possible, even after her daughters suffered painful memories already.

The door opened and Merlin gestured to their shadowed bodies. His voice was soft and her heart was aching, demanding to be let loose to vent the sheer agony of sorrow. Kalypso took a long, deep breath in to keep the rattling of her lungs still. Her eyes prickled but she forced them to stop. There would be time later to cry. There would be time later to mourn. She had to get to work.

Kaly touched his arm gently and moved to the bodies, crouching beside them. She reached out her hand to touch Thyri's head and felt nothing but coldness where heat was once found. Her nose was cold but no air pushed forth. Life was absent. Her ears flattened as she put her hand on Thyri's cheek.

Oh, my sweet sister, how you suffered, she muttered mournfully, brushing back hair and settling it properly along the woman's face. She took Runa into her hands, the little girl who had not quite made it. Her body was so light, so delicate, that it was almost impossible to believe she had ever lived. Daughter put on mother's chest with a loving, limp hand atop her body, Kalypso rose, searching for Thyri's almanac of plantlore.

We'll do it right, Merlin. We'll give them to her gods with all the love we have, she said determinedly, looking at the lost father. We'll make her proud, I promise. She reached for his hands. And we'll help you and the girls. She would not lose any more family.

362

<style type="text/css">
.gbasic {width:650px; padding:5px; margin:0px auto; 'Roboto', sans-serif; text-align:justify; }
.gbasic p {text-indent: 25px; font-family: 'Roboto', sans-serif; font-size:15px; text-align:justify;line-height:150%;}
.gbasic p.oocstuff {border-top:1px solid black; padding-top:3px; padding-left:3px; font-size:14px; text-align:center;text-indent:0px;}
.gbasic npc { letter-spacing:.5px; opacity: .75;font-weight:bold; }
.gbasic b:before, npc:before { contentHuhpen-quote; }
.gbasic b:after, npc:after { content:close-quote; }
.gbasic b.lang:before, npc.lang:before { content:'< '; }
.gbasic b.lang:after, npc.lang:after { content:' >';}
</style>
[/html]
#9
[html]

Like a thread pulled through cloth, the long and deep breath that Kalypso drew in before she ventured within was no louder than a whisper. And yet, by some mysterious sorcery, it sounded loud as thunder to Merlin. But when she touched her hand against his arm, he scarcely felt the gesture. Still, he found himself looking down at it all the same. Why? He would never know. It was a compulsion – a thoughtless gesture asked of him by some ancient, unknown calling.


Merlin's too-verdant eyes followed her movement as she stepped away from him, watching as she stepped like a ghost to the still bodies ahead.


Sharp pins of emotion pricked at his eyes. Without realizing it, he held his breath while Kalypso smoothed the blonde tresses that Thyri had kept in life. And then, when Kalyspo rested her her palm against her sister's face, Merlin squeezed his eyes shut and sucked in a sob.


These were reminders of things that he had done before – when Thyri was warm and healthy and full of life – but which demanded a new meaning in death. What good did such a gesture mean to the deceased?


None. But to the living, they meant everything.


Imperceptibly, Merlin slowly released the breath that he had been holding hostage until his lungs ached for lack of oxygen-rich pressure. There was no god. There were no gods. There was nothing otherworldly that watched over them or demanded their compliance.


They were as they were now: two living beings navigating death and two dead beings departing from life. There was life and there was death. There was no in-between.


His emotions receding back into numbness, Merlin watched as Kalypso took Rúna's tiny body into her hands and rested her ever-so-gently against Thyri's pale, soft chest with only the kindest of gestures. He heard her voice break the silence, but it took several beats before he could decipher the meaning of those sounds. When he did, he nodded. "Okay," he croaked through a whisper. He cleared his throat but still his words scraped against his grief. "Thank you.


Laying the dead to rest was hard, but raising new life alone was sure to prove more challenging. Knowing that he had help – from Teagan already, and now Kalypso too – reduced the burden that threatened to suffocate him. "Thank you so much, Kalypso."


Life would carry on, as it always did, and maybe it would be okay. Someday.


OOC: We could probably end here or with your next post if you'd like!

[WC — 418]


<style>
.MERLINborder {border-style: solid; border-width: 3.5px; border-color: #000000;}
.MERLINboxpic {background-image:url('https://image.ibb.co/hbvGdQ/Decorative_Divider129_650px.png'); background-repeat:no repeat; width:650px; height:107px; background-position: center; margin: auto;}
.MERLINboxin {padding:20px; font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; text-align:justify;}
.MERLINboxin p:first-child:first-letter {text-indent:40px; margin:0px; float: left; color: #000000; font-size: 75px; line-height: 60px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 8px; padding-left: 3px; font-family: 'Amita', cursive;}
.MERLINboxin p {font-family: 'Crimson Text', serif; font-size:18px; margin:0px; padding:3px;}
.MERLINboxin p + p {text-indent:60px;}
.MERLINboxin .npc1 {font-weight:bold; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin .npc2 {font-style: italic; font-weight:normal; filter:alpha(opacity=65%); opacity:.65;}
.MERLINboxin p.ooc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: left; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
.MERLINboxin p.wc {opacity:0.7; padding:3px; text-align: right; text-indent:0px; font-size:16px; padding:10px 5px;}
</style>

[/html]


Forum Jump: