patient brush, comb this mud

POSTED: Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:52 pm

Life in Salsola was regimented for a slave in a way that Odalis was not used to. She bided her time when she was able – slowly steeping her Masters (gods how she hated the word) tea and ensuring that the fire in her large hearth was constantly stoked. Sometimes she felt like the flames – for she was deeply frightened of them. Fire was unforgiving and cruel and where some may have seen the beauty in the tongues of flame that lapped at shadow and sparked at darkness – Odalis saw nothing but pain.

She still had nightmares about the Red Stars falling – about the cabin she and her siblings had been trapped in as the fire licked and toyed with the log walls. They had lay huddled together in fear, and she could still see the whites of her brothers’ eyes as they waited to be saved. Akantha had screamed from outside until her voice was hoarse – and everything after that was too muddled to remember anything at all.

A log snapped in the hearth and caused the woman to jump. She stood at an open window and ground herbs together with a mortar – the fresh scent causing her nose to twitch. It smelt like spring and reminded her of the rich scent of the earth that had come with the digging of her mound home. She paused to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye as she thought of Solomon – poor sweet Solomon – who now lay somewhere cast aside and dead.

Dead.

She hissed through her teeth and cast aside her work to flee to the outside. She hissed at the cold air that rippled over her and clutched at her naked shoulders as her breath came in short huffs.

Was this all that was left of her life?

With a grunt she took off across the frosted moors and ran until her sides ached and the forest closed in around her. She ran until she couldn’t – her muscles seizing and forcing her to sit perched at the base of a gnarled and ancient tree. Her teeth chattered as the cold slowly crept into her bones, and she tipped her head back to gaze at the perfectly blue sky that peeked between the criss-crossed branches. Perhaps one day she would attempt to escape. Perhaps one day she would die trying.

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POSTED: Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:33 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

He did not know her. Servants, though - servants came. Servants went, serfs and the like. Such was the manner of Coax's boy -- no, mate, he supposed more like, and felt his lip curl idly at the thought of it. They were livestock, the lot of them, so it had felt, so he had grown accustomed.

Julius could not see them as he could see his Uncles, Helena - himself. But interest tracked the sound of movement, ocean eyes found the blur of creams, of crimson - she must've been new. His rodent trap went untended - empty as it was, to go find the fuss. The stranger had not gotten far, and Julius kept his approach slow, watching the shake and tremble of doggish shoulders, with the smell of the Boss's home on her, and his black nose twitched.

"Your running does you no merit," he murmured from the trees, paced out alongside the shaken woman, strewn along in grief with a sort of beauty dead poets took to, regardless of the wound that marred an otherwise pretty face; he did not take fault in this. Strays often ran into trouble. Lips twitched a moment, and he did not stoop, simply followed her gaze upwards. "I do not know where you're from. But it's best you forget that life. The Kingdom is safe."

There was a deep sigh - Helena would not have appreciated his candor, and after a moment he offered down his cloak to the shivering thing.

"Who is it you serve?"

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POSTED: Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:37 am

There were many members of Salsola that Odalis still did not know. She did not introduce herself to many that she passed along the winding paths – not unless they asked after her and demanded to know who she belonged to. Odalis Amaranthe could remember a time not so long ago when she had belonged to no one. At times this made her obstinate and unruly, though part of this was the longing for something more than the mushroom caps on which she fed to help her to forget.

And there was so much she wanted to abandon from her previous life.

The collar too marked her as one of them – and as the nobles passed her, she could feel their eyes resting upon the padlock that lay nestled against her throat. When she lit a cigarette to steady her nerves she shielded the tiny flame from the wind with her palms, ignoring the way her pale hands were smudges with soot and dirt from her work upon the hearth.

The first inhale burned her lungs and she coughed pitifully against the tree until she got her breath back.

When the voice called out to her she winced – her long ears twitching as she turned to take in the boy who now strode toward her. He was noble-looking, with long dark hair which fell perfectly straight about his narrow features. His eyes glowed teal, and when he spoke there were flashed of long white teeth set into his dark lips. Pieces of his hair were bound with beads, and she wondered who he belonged to in the grand scheme of the Thistle Kingdom.

She flicked ash from the end of her cigarette and regarded him silently before blowing smoke so that it trickled out from between her teeth.

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POSTED: Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:34 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

She did not speak - stubborn, and belligerent, the servant sat, sucking on a cigarette that dyed her face a warm, tacky amber, bathing in lovely honey-light that lit up eyes that were not so different than his own.

Part of him, naturally, detested this.

But he had to remind himself. Julius would not allow himself to be so petulant - no, not to public eye. He was better now. Different. As an adult, he now knew, that there was such a thing as accountability. His current company could've learned well, in that regard. Were it not for the sharpness in which this woman regarded him, he would've written her off as vapid, crude -

But no. She was private. As was he.

His long, slim fingers plucked up that cigarette from between her lips and regarded her features, raised it to inky lips and took a measured pull from it with practiced habit, the oceanic teal lights of his eyes never straying from the fiery-haired menace and her padlock. Whips and curls of gray blew out his nose, from between those sharp, sharp teeth, before he simply held the stick back to her, and he waited, tasted the tobacco on his tongue.

"You don't like talking," he stated flatly, once he had assessed the acrid taste of smoke, and let it settle against his tongue. Embers to ash, he paused. Without asking, he took up a space near her, finally dropped her features from his dreadful eyes, and instead looked out to the blotches of shadow-stained snow. "That's okay."

His jaws worked a little, chewed at unspoken sentiments that he was reluctant to share - she was new, at least to him, and his mind reeled over what was socially appropriate; a wallflower, he was awful at chit-chat.

Instead, he cleared his throat, and swallowed his caustic manner.

"Expectations are not easy things to align with." Perhaps a different approach. "I am Julius. Who are you?"

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POSTED: Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:10 am

His mouth stood out against his pale face and made each of his expressions seem more pronounced. His eyes were too bright beneath his brows, and his hair was styled like the nobility – braided in places and smooth and shiny around his ears. He didn’t seem to mind the fact that Odalis refused to say anything at all, instead putting the cigarette to her lips to swirl smoke on the tip of her tongue. The golden patch upon his nose wrinkled as he leaned forward and plucked the cigarette from her hand, his sharp teeth snapping as he contemplated his words.

He leaned alongside her, his tail twitching over the stones.

Odalis grunted at him, ”You’re observant.”

It was difficult, the constant balance of what being a slave meant in the grand scheme of Salsola. The Amaranthe remembered the way that Kaeli had snarled at her, the Shield Maiden towering over her as she put her in her place – and it had been a difficult thing to accept. Odalis had wandered The Ruins afterward with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, for though Elphaba was fair there were times when the pale faces Queen could be unpredictable.

The tea numbed her senses the most and had Odalis spiralling toward apathy. She found it difficult sometimes to remember her brother, his red-flecked face smiling as he worked with his horses. There were others too – though they burned brightly in her vision only when she ate the mushrooms that Elphaba ensured to always provide to her. They were an escape, though there had been a time where she had wandered lost in the forest for she thought that another red star was about to fall.

The man introduced himself as Julius and bobbed her head, taking the cigarette back so that she could take another long dreg of smoke.

”I’m Odalis.” She canted her head so that her short hair shifted about her face, ”What makes you so wise?”

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POSTED: Mon Jan 28, 2019 11:58 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

The newly dubbed Odalis met him with teeth, words sharp-cut and skeptical as she jockeyed her way into understanding her new life, her new position within Kingdom Politics. It spoke volumes of what her life must have been before - but the scar had also painted a very different picture. What exactly was it that she had left behind, instead, to now be the Queen's servant.

She pulled off the cigarette, and cast mild barbs his way again.

"Wise?" came Julius's echo, his brow raised and and fell all the same with look of amusement, something calloused and cold. "No. I just relate - this whole damn world is just too small, and you don't fit."

The ocean color of his eyes appraised her features, and he mentally worked his assessment, and considered, quietly. "But this world - here, Salsola, cuts people down to size, one way or another. It's like plants - cutting them down so they can grow right again."

It was strictly medicinal, and he explained such with matter-of-fact tone that eased past his lips.

"It's not personal. This place will suit you in time. Where are you from, Odalis?"

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POSTED: Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:42 am

Odalis had gone her whole life trying to find where she fit in. Onuba had been too filled with wanton expectation – the glittering golden hope of her mother that she would grow up to be something more. Nova Scotia had always called to the thread of wildness that ran through her, and so she had returned with the intention of lasting a frigid winter alone – the bustling city of Portland surrounding her as she read through what remained of her mothers journals. They had been filled with words that did not sound like her mother – tales of an illness that had run through spiritualists and a wavering storyline that had mentioned a man named Ciellen.

Her mother seemed to have seen so much and been able to carry it with her for so far.

Portland had grown too small – and so she had found the safest place in her mothers books: The Court of Miracles. It was there that she had wandered aimlessly through their sprawling hotel, non-committal in her pursuit of job and rank. Finding Solomon had brought with it new nuance – though now each time she thought of him she understood that his place was anywhere that the horses were. He knew himself in that quiet sensible way that came from working with them day in and day out.

This boy seemed certain of himself – certain of his place amongst the Thistle Kingdom.

A slave would never have been so certain.

Odalis snorted through her nose, ”Hm. Like a flower waiting to bloom in spring.” Her tongue flicked across her nose, ”Wise and a poet.” Her expression narrowed, causing the edges of her branching scar to come together over her one milky eye. ”It’s obvious you were born to this sprawling Kingdom. They all called it that, and like a seed of an idea it grew and grew.

The Kingdom of Thistles and Thorns. Of people cut down and torn back up again. Smoke billowed across her lips and she raised a hand to wipe at her mouth before burrowing deep into the folds of her wool sweater, ”A Court down south. Before that, Sapient.”

In that moment she ached for it, and it made her lips twerk down as she took another deep breath of smoke and ash.

”Now I’m here.”

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POSTED: Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:38 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

His gaze did not stray from her face, the look of melancholy that she wore well enough - her padlock marked her as property, and it was hard for the denizens of thorns to let go of old habits, rebranded and remarketed as they were. The reputation of Odalis's past was drowned, and here she was transplanted, a sad, shivering thing, despite her blistered pride.

Odalis was worldly, and wild, and it showed. Julius took the cigarette back from her again, less pointed and sharp than before, and pulled off it, before placing the dwindling cigarette down between her fingers, the coils of smoke creeping through his teeth and out his nose.

"And now you're here," he echoed in agreement, and let the moment sit in silence to breathe.

"So, what do you intend to do about that, Odalis?" he measured, one of those brows raising. It was easy to give up, but she bled her contempt, her feral roots - for all her regal homes, none were as culturally rich as the Thistle Kingdom. "Are you going to focus on what was, or will you rise above this new stature?"

It wasn't unheard of. He grinned mildly to himself.

"Your tongue is about as sharp as anyone else's here. I, for one, think it would fair well in the higher ranks of society, don't you?"

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POSTED: Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:01 am

He asked questions that she did not know the answer to. It reminded her of the way that Lucian would pester her, pulling at her hair and needling her with words in the court as she had chosen who to dance with. He had been a boy filled with opinions that had needed to be valiantly shared – and for a moment she found herself smiling at the memory of his emerald gaze. He had always been so self-assured and filled with confidence. In Onuba he could have anything that he had ever wanted – but even Odalis had known that the place was too small for a fire such as her.

”And now you’re here.”

His words hung like a hollow sound between them, and Odalis sighed softly – watching as the smoke between them struggled and then finally petered out into nothing.

”How am I to rise above all this?” She gestured as if to indicate the entire Kingdom – but the fact that it was not hers for the taking and then tugged pointedly upon the collar that sat tightly about her neck. Julius Valentine knew nothing other than this life and it made his scope small and filled with thistles. ”There is little choice to be had – I was found dead in the snow and brought here to be nursed back to life.”

She remembered little of the Salsolan Queen finding her – save for the flashing of those sanguine eyes as she was loaded onto the back of a fine looking horse. Her hair had been cut short for it had been matted and stained with blood – and her scar had been angry and new. She had not realized until waking that the sight had been stolen from one of her eyes – and it had been even later still that she had caught sight of her crude new reflection.

She sighed and looked at him with a sad smile, ”I have a debt that must be paid, and no sharp tongue will cut it down.”

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POSTED: Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:32 pm

pump your veins with gushing gold

A shame, to be so resigned. His oceanic eyes were drawn to the plaintive manner in which that slim finger, curled through the hoop of her collar, and tugged it emphatically. It was an odd charm, the padlock a sweet heart, the collar well-crafted, like some fine jewelry, but yet, it was a stark, gaudy reminder that whatever Odalis was before was dead, somewhere out there in the vastness of this world they now lived in. No, this was the new Odalis, the only Odalis he had met, and thus far, she seemed interesting, but deeply dour and surly company.

Julius didn't mind that.

Otherwise, he certainly wouldn't have tolerated the white dog that often followed him about.

He clicked his tongue at her circumstance.

"Ah, a life debt," he canted his head with a jerk, and pulled his lips back to draw a hiss in between his molars. "That, truly, is a bitch of a situation."

The crass language made him smile subtly to himself, before he shrugged, and peered out to the long, inky shadows, and hummed out slowly.

"Mm, I am not so sure. Our Queen, blessed be she, is a hard woman to read." And terrifying, all the same. "But she is also not without her compassion nor reason. Obviously - I mean, if she had not taken interest in you, you would not be here, now would you? Point is, everyone has their ambitions. Perhaps there is a way, yet, to repay your debts, in due time."

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