wooden heart


POSTED: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:34 pm

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

This is set in Bathurst, before Semini was active in Souls. I'm dividing it into one section per post so it's easier to read. Alternates between the perspective of Ciellen Loreath and Semini.

He had taken to walking along the shore during the evening, just when the light smoldered on the horizon. It wasn't always comfortable, though he always went. He thought there were many good reasons for a man to walk the shoreline: the sublime beauty of the seascape, the chance to find a good looking seashell or washed up driftwood, perhaps even a chance meeting....A walk offered the space and time to reflect on one's life, though he had ample of that lately whether he was by the sea or not. It was never long before the loud din of the ocean became quiet beneath the sound of thought.

A chance meeting was not at the forefront of his thoughts. It was not on his mind when he stepped out the broken and rusted door of his dilapidated home, or when he ambled quietly through the empty streets of town. He didn't expect a warm face in the window of the sagging shanty he passed, though sometimes he would imagine one there - a man as succumbed to gravity as his abode. He chuckled at the thought each time. That is, until he caught the scattered reflection of his own grizzled grin in the dark windowpanes. That took the humor out of it. There were other marks of abandonment but he thought them full. He began listening only to the whistling breeze and the groans of the seaside ruins for conversation. No, a chance meeting did not cross his mind anymore. If any of his experiences meant anything at all, it was that no will or need could make the absent present. He settled for the next best thing.

The shore curved and took the monk out of the sun's glare. His path was increasingly interrupted, a board here, a broken bottle there, a tangle of seaweed and rope strewn across the sands. A life had splintered into many pieces. He surmised that the storm from last night had wrecked some poor sailor. He bowed low to the calm tide and bid the waterlogged soul his respects. At a distance his stark white pelt might have seemed like a wayward stroke of the water's foam, rising vertically from the sandy shelf in defiance of the natural order of things, of the encroaching night.

The monk began his return when a particular log of driftwood caught his eye. It seemed strangely soft, as if covered by a misshapen sheet. He crouched near it. The monk was at most times a patient man, and he could wait forever for the contours and textures of the wood to make sense to him. But the sun's light was quickly vanishing, and so he touched a particular clump to get a better look. Instead of a certain solidity as he expected, the darkness yielded to him in the unmistakable manner of flesh and bone.

His blue eyes went wide with the possibilities of his discovery. His hands worked quickly to wipe the seaweed from their frame, and his heart raced with every bit of white and blue that was revealed. In his frenzy, his thumb wiped the cheek and hoped to feel disrupted flesh, the electric veins of a distant memory. He turned the head and felt for breath, and felt his heart plummet instead. Whoever it was, they were gone.

It was a familiar scene. He thought of the white nameless wolf he found back on the other coast, and of his brother. He thought of Genova now as he gathered the broken creature into his arms. He had tried letting the barren waste of Bathurst clean out the memories of his heart. He had hoped to lose them between the cracks of the walls.

He carried the frozen girl back to his house. He didn't know what compelled him, but he felt responsible for her burial. Perhaps it was a chance to say farewell to the memories he had let settle beneath the dust of time. There was enough wood around to make a small boat, enough oils, enough flowers still available to line the craft. One morning he would paddle out and push her into the waves, and watch the form of her raft shrink until it was gone. And he could drink then too, he decided.

He would drink a lot.

Last edited by Semini on Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:23 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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POSTED: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:40 pm


She thawed.

The monk's blood froze when he rose the next morning and saw her sitting on the kitchen floor. All he could think was that the youth had thawed in the warm sheets.

If he had checked her pulse the previous evening instead of her breath, he might have realized there was a faint murmur of life beneath the piles of wet fur and seaweed. But instead he had laid her crumpled body in the only bed of the house, next to the wood and things he thought would be useful as he constructed her sea-worthy coffin. He was in a deep, drunken sleep when she sat up in the bed, and he did not hear her stumble through his dreams of long dark hair and lightning scars. There was a moment when she collapsed in the kitchen that caused him to stir, and another when the knives clattered against the ground. He recalled the vague sensation of surfacing from slumber, and then being beckoned back to emptiness when he heard nothing.

Morning had come in great angry beams of light across his face. The monk had tried to block it with a heavy arm, but only woke himself by his attempt. When he sat up from the living room floor, his entire back was stiff. He knew that he had not changed position all night. His mouth smacked of dryness and spent ale. The events of the last evening slowly came back to him as he rubbed his forehead, his temple. Broad hands flattened the fur of his face in vain, wiped down the stray struck hairs of his neck. A long day was ahead of him, and he would have to get to work soon.

Thoughts of the simple duties of carving, stripping, hammering were cleared away the moment he saw her. She was not happy to see him. Her eyes were angry and so bright he couldn't imagine having ever thought she was anything but violently alive. And her left hand was quivering so hard that the large knife in it - his knife - was humming softly. The monk decided to back down. He moved casually to the door frame and sat. He raised an open palm, and then looked around, as if this happened often and there were more interesting things to look at. The roof near the front door was just visible from his spot, and he could see it bowing inward from countless years of bearing heavy snow. He would have to fix that, soon, actually.

The girl puffed a small whine, which drew back his wandering gaze. He smiled to her in what he thought was a relaxed way, but she started shivering harder in response.

"Hey, now," he growled, and coughed, and rubbed at his throat. The cabinets clattered loudly as the girl pushed herself into the corner to get away from him. "Woah ok, listen," he said, sounding less grizzly bear and more Luperci this time.

"Who are you?" she demanded.

"I'm..I'm uh -- ok listen, I thought you were dead." he found himself reeling over his words. He was more hungover than he thought. Her face was a horrible mess of confusion and anger - he could see it through his fingers as he rubbed his forehead. "I found you on the shore. You were not breathing." he amended. This seemed to make more sense to her, and her eyes grew wide, almost wide enough to show their whites.

"Are you going to do something to me?" she asked. He gave a great sigh. After a pregnant moment, full of her fearful anticipation, he shook his head. This seemed to satisfy her, or maybe she just got tired, but she finally lowered the knife. It stayed firmly gripped in her bare white knuckles. She leaned back against the cabinets and let out a long, unhappy sound. He felt the expression deep in the throbbing of his head. He was older and he was not once-dead, so the responsibility of this situation rested entirely upon him. At least the tension was diffused, for now.

"I'm Ciellen. I am - was - a monk, a healer," he explained. She looked at him with bewilderment, her eyes crawling over his face and figure, thoroughly unconvinced. "Well, now I'm more of a hermit," he corrected and she nodded, agreeing. The line of his mouth stretched almost to a frown. "I promise to you that the only thing I've done is carry you from the shore to that bed over there. That's all." he thought about telling her of his plans to give her a good burial, but through the fog of hangover he managed to think better of it. She had been so close to death, there was no reason to bring her back to the brink.

"And now that I see you are not - um -" her eyes were huge, burning suns, staring into him. He stood up slowly so as not to alarm her, though she brought the knife back up to her chest anyway.

"Well, you're alive and that's good. I've got fresh fish and I have fresh water. You're welcome to have some of it. I know this is probably a great shock to you, but I am glad that you survived." he smiled, genuinely. She did not.

"Ok," she said. "Ok."
Last edited by Semini on Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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POSTED: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:43 pm


He was glad to have the company even if she hardly spoke. After a quiet morning of sitting on the floor and eating fish, they quickly discovered that she had broken her right wrist and sprained both ankles. She was devastated by this and began crying, although given the circumstances, Ciellen thought that it wasn't so bad. If anything she was very lucky. Not only did she manage to survive a shipwreck, but she was found by a trained healer. She would be in good shape soon, he tried to reassure her. But she wept even harder, and longer, until she was too tired to keep wailing. She didn't protest when Ciellen picked her up and put her on the bed, the knife clutched to her chest. She didn't make a sound when he gingerly pried it from her hands so that she didn't cut herself. She didn't respond when he told her of his plans for the day. She only sat propped against the backboard, her face stained with tears. He considered staying and talking with her, but there was work to be done. She was a temporary invalid. A strange feeling grew in his chest as he left the room. It was odd to admit to himself that he felt happy.

The day went quickly. Between making splints and casts for her wrist and ankles, gathering food and water and herbs, his hangover was forced to subside. He could feel it burning in the back of his eyes like smoking coals, and he knew the moment he stopped to rest that it would ignite into a full fledged pain in the ass. Against all reason, he was urged to drown the headache with more alcohol, but when he passed the open door of the girl's room, he could resist the call.

That evening he sat on the edge of her bed and fit the casts to her body. "Hmm," he hummed thoughtfully, adjusting the wooden shapes by pulling the strap. "I'll have to shorten this tomorrow. I thought your arm was longer."

When he looked up, he saw that she was staring out into the night. Ciellen had taken up residence in a small house across the sea. Normally the monk would have chosen to sleep outdoors, but it was the view from that particular window which made him decide to stay in the home. The ocean could be seen in its entirety, and on a cool summer's evening, the sound of the shore and smell of the salt on the breeze wafted inside.

"Ciellen," she spoke, her first words since the morning. He was surprised into stillness. She continued to stare out the window. "I don't want to tell you anything about myself."

Her statement caught him off guard. He frowned, and then nodded. "That's ok." he said.

It was then that she looked at him, with bright burning eyes. "I don't want to talk about the wreck either." She insisted. He nodded, shrugging, feeling a little useless. "Ok."

Her lip started to quiver. He could see the tears welling up in her eyes, big, glossy things. "I don't want to tell you my name, or where I'm from, or what I am, ok?" she continued, "I don't - I don't want to, so don't even ask me!" Her voice was climbing higher and a few big, wobbling drops had fallen down her matted cheeks.

"Ok, Ok," he said, raising an open palm. "I won't ask you anything. Monk's vow of silence." He made a small gesture across his chest. "The only thing I want to know is if you're uncomfortable, and if you need me to get you anything at all." His face was soft, honest. She seemed calmed by his words, but he knew she was burning up behind her wavering frown.

"I need you to leave me alone." she whispered, and with that admission the monk stood from the bed. The casts were snug enough for now, he would come for them in the morning.

"Of course," he said, walking to the doorway. "Good night."
Last edited by Semini on Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:04 pm


The first days were rough. She was reluctant to do anything when Ciellen was around. At one point she deliberately tossed her lunch onto the ground, and then stared at him with her angry eyes as he picked it up. He didn't understand what bothered her so much, but he got the sense that whatever it was, it must have happened before the shipwreck.

Before the girl, he would get through the day with a mug of ale, and by night fall asleep amid whatever activity he happened to be doing. Now he occupied his mind with the thoughts of her mysterious past. Perhaps she had been a stowaway, and upon the crew's discovery of her presence, she commandeered the ship. Perhaps she deliberately crashed it at sea in a daring, foolish plan to escape. Sometimes he would make a note of the more exciting ventures in barely legible scribbles on the papers across the home. It was this and not alcohol that carried him through the task of cutting up the herbs and garnishes he had gathered on the outskirts of town. With the food preparation complete, he returned to his comfortable set up beside the fireplace, where he whittled away at the driftwood he had gathered alongside his defrosted companion. He had taken to carving it, as of late.

There was a loud noise. He was on his feet and in the bedroom before he could pause to breathe. When he did, it was an exhale of relief. The girl was among the floor's clutter, nursing her knee. He ran an anxious hand through his shaggy mane, his large knuckles breaking out the knotted furs and strands. What was he going to do with her? Short of strapping her to the bed, he felt there was nothing that would convince her to rest and take it easy as she healed. Most creatures would jump at the opportunity to have someone take care of them. Not only did she reject this, but it seemed like she was trying to antagonize her own recovery.

"Are you alright?" he asked as he came near, kneeling. She growled at him, white cheeks puffing out. "I'll take that as a yes," he murmured to himself, his blue eyes examining her knee. By now he was accustomed to her surly demeanor. The knee was likely only bruised - but it was better to be safe than sorry. He took the joint into his large hands and pressed his thumb into the grooves. She only winced. "Just bruised." he confirmed, smiling to her. Anything worse would have elicited a much larger reaction from her.

"No." she said, and for a moment he was confused, until she arced her back and produced a small object. It seemed she had fallen against something.

"What is this," she asked him. In her palms was a small wooden statue - a bear, noble and strong, with eyes that stared straight into the world. He thought it looked large in her hands and when she ran a slender finger across the whittled curves. Somehow he had forgotten it there in the room - between the days of fleeting sobriety, through tattered sheets and the grind of blind activity he had nearly convinced himself the past was gone. But it had waited in the shadowed corner of his broken bedroom, erect with patient resolve for the acknowledgement he refused to give. Now it presented itself to him and he could not run or hide behind the numbness of alcohol.

"It...it was driftwood," the words fell slowly from his dark lips. He did not notice her look at him. He didn't feel the burn of her gaze on his face, or her expression soften into something kinder, more curious than it had in days.

"Did you make it?" she asked. He was quiet. He reached out to take it from her but she snatched it close to her chest. "Did you make it?" she asked again. Ciellen felt a heat rise along the fringes of his muzzle like the lash of a wave. Something in his air had changed and the girl, though boldly stood her ground, felt herself grow small.

"It was a gift." he said, baring the roughness of his voice. There was a demand in his words. His palm stood open not with its usual gentleness, but with a stillness and force not unlike the cold and treacherous mountains of his arctic home. She regarded the palm, and hesitated to return the bear statue to it. There was more to the story that she wanted to know - even if she would not let him know her own.

"Who gave it to you?" she pressed. It seemed that did it. He stood up roughly, so quickly that she braced herself. His shoulders lifted with great restrained breaths.

In those few days of her convalescence, she had seen him only stooped and bent with work, his face always warm and gentle like new snow. His demeanor infuriated her. It was oppressively deferential, subservient. She resented him for how he made her feel - powerless, dependent, needy. There was an edge to his humility that she believed he relished, and seeing this side of him had proved it to her.

But then he stood at his full height, rising from the darkness of the room like a glacier in the cold night. She had seen only one angle of his, and the side which faced her now was far from weak. She did not know of his experiences but she could feel that they were far reaching. For the first time she could see his wrists and hands, worn and calloused and scarred, rougher than the hands of any of her father's crew. She could see the damage of his legs, the bruises of his skin, the matted coils of struggle and anguish and fight in the jagged and frayed contours of his body and flesh. Like an old ship that had weathered fierce storms, his rope-like musculature was raw but strong, his boarded frame old but sturdy, the mast of his back large and tall against the sky. What she mistook for frailty was the dust of reliability, of sturdiness, of endurance.

She knew that he would not hurt her. But there she learned a more valuable lesson - that he could.

After a long moment, he seemed to adjust. He came back to himself. His figure softened. His eyes were apologetic. "A friend." was all he answered. He knelt down beside her again and with such care, with such tenderness that she could not understand the disjoint between these people - the man and the monk, he lifted her up and settled her back onto the nest of sheets. Though she still clutched the statue, he did not pay it any more mind. He saw that she was shaking and could not bring himself to ask for it again.


That evening he sat outside on the half-finished deck. It was more of a perch now that time had a chance to carve the landscape, and nature had reclaimed some of its material. Still, he could see that the house's previous owners started the project, but for one reason or another did not complete it. He wondered sometimes about its history, but tonight he stared out to the sea and did not think about it at all.

In the distance a storm lashed at the ocean, its streaks pummeling the horizon to a blood red haze. Sometimes the dusk had such violent color, vibrant smears of chaos across the wide sky, splattered by the spray of natural discord. Clouds erupted into each other, and at the top oozed an inky darkness that could only remind one of their own inevitable ascent into the vast unknown.

He thought about the beach at Barrington, and the fire he made with Genova. He thought about the starlight and how for the first time it seemed he was among them and not just the lonely dust of space, their fire burning high into the sky. He thought about her hands in the driftwood, her hands at the lake. The bear statue she folded into his palm. The light on her arms in the woods of AniWaya, her jagged wings and the tangle of her seaweed hair. How many times he wanted to grab her hands, to touch the troubles of her scarred cheek and then smooth it all away. But he never did.

He heard his name.

He leaned back and looked through the open door. She called again. He went back inside.
Last edited by Semini on Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:18 am, edited 4 times in total.
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POSTED: Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:58 pm

boop de boop not sure how this all ended up being so long but ok I'm just goin with it


He stood by the door.

"You can sit on the bed if you want," she said to him. His expression was unreadable - she couldn't tell if he was surprised by the invitation. He only walked over and sat at the edge of the bed. It was a large, broken thing, but when he added his weight the depressions and dips would level out. She was surprised to feel comfortable, and it occurred to her briefly that the mattress may have meant to be that way.

He said nothing to her, but looked at the bear statue she had propped on the windowsill. Her eyes flicked toward it, but she had plenty of time to ponder its figure. Now she wanted to ponder something more complex. "Why are you doing this?" she demanded of him.

He looked at her and this time she could his brows lift, his ears flick. "I'm not sure what you mean," he replied. "I came in because you called for me."

She grew hot with frustration. Her brows tensed, and she stared hard into his icy face. "I meant - why are you going through all this trouble? I'm not -- I'm not some fragile thing you know." she felt like she was boiling. She just wanted to grab the piles of his frozen, arctic fur and throw it out like old wet snow from the road. "I know I cried in front of you but that doesn't mean you get to treat me like I'm, like I'm a needy, vain dumb dog." she blurted, her eyes burning -- but not on his face, not on the person sitting before her.

"I was on a ship, you know. I could pull my weight there, you know. I did a lot of work, with my hands." She was making fistfuls of the bed's sheets, even though the pain of her wrist told her to stop. She could feel the tears welling again - always! The wreck must have done something to her - before she came there, she never cried. She didn't cry when her father slapped her, she didn't cry when the crew jeered at her. She didn't cry, not like her mother did when her nails chipped or she dropped her stupid bag.

He didn't move. He just sat there and looked at her. He was quiet for almost too long. She nearly snapped again, when he spoke. "I'm sorry," and it was true, his face, his eyes, he was very sorry. "It was not my intention to make you feel that way."

She gaped at him and then snapped her mouth shut with a snort. "Ugh--! Can you, can you just act normal? Why don't you defend yourself like everyone else - " she was grabbing for something. "I treat you like shit - stop acting like it's ok!"

The confession surprised her just as much as it seemed to surprise him. The force of it drew her long ears back, and she had to look out the window to see something - anything else. His head tilted slightly, and one of his large hands rubbed the thick of his neck. He seemed to be thinking of what to say, but there was no fire behind the clear blue of his gaze. Her lips drew tighter shut, though an apology trembled along them. She didn't want to treat him badly - she wasn't, was she?

She endeavored to do right. But this monk made her so angry! She just wanted him to...to suffer, to be vulnerable. Like herself. Her stomach dropped. Her eyes squeezed shut. This was not what she wanted to face. Her hands knotted the bed and she wished she was fishing, or making nets.

"Hm," he said, his hand now at his mouth. "I would be lying if I said everything was ok." He let that hang there for a moment. He carefully turned and let his leg prop up on the bed, so that he could more fully face her, or look out the window if he wanted. "I do feel angry, sometimes." The light of his eyes carried to the bear, and then settled onto her.

"I don't expect you to be grateful for what I'm doing, and I don't expect you to treat me any other way than how you do. If I had expectations about the people I helped, I would be a very miserable man." his lips pulled back into a smile. Her eyes flicked to him and then back to the window. She didn't know what was so funny. From what she gleaned so far, he certainly didn't seem very happy.

"But," he said, his expression cooling. "I would not make the mistake of thinking that anything I do has much to do with you." She shrank back against the backboard and stared at the dip he made in the mattress. He must weigh hundreds of pounds.

"I don't presume to know about you. I only ask that you afford me the same respect."

"Fine." she said, crossing her arms. She looked at the bear, and thought about how he had solidified in that moment. His actions and his words didn't make a lot of sense to her. The people in her life had never been so elusive. Her father had always been clear in his pleasure and displeasure - strikingly clear.

The monk sighed. She hadn't said anything else. He stood up from the bed and gave a small stretch of his arm. Tendons, muscles flashed along the jagged contour of his forearm. She hid the amazement from her eyes. The dogs of the ship weren't so giant, so powerful. Even her father had been a smaller wolf than this mammoth of a man. He turned to look at her, his blue eyes soft, his muzzle gentle. She thought he looked something like the bear - whoever had carved it, they had been very good.

"If there's any way I can make you feel more at ease," he said, "Let me know."

Then the monk started for the door. She felt strange in her chest, like there was a whirlpool that pulled her legs and her arms to her center. The long curls of her white hair fell across her body as she tucked her head into her hands. The wooden cast felt like a bulky addition to her arm, an anchor to her pain.

I'm sorry, she thought. I'm sorry.


The storm had moved inland that night. Rain sang against the wooden boards. The whole home was alive in the ripples of thunder and water. Pots and pans were scattered around the house, catching drips as they fell, adding their music to the chorus. The firepit wouldn't hold a flame because of the broken vent, but the candles he had accumulated worked well enough. Much of Bathurst had been thoroughly scavenged since the time of man, but Ciellen's patience was helpful in his search. He wandered into many buildings, checked the floors and crevices and basements. Most had given up after the biggest things were taken, but he thought there was much to be found if one looked hard enough.

As he passed the dark of the girl's room, a bright strip of lightning flashed outside. The boom illuminated the room, and it occurred to him that he had forgotten to close up her window for the night. She hadn't made a sound of distress or called for him. He knocked on the door frame to let her know his entrance and then stepped inside. She still didn't make a sound.

"Hey, I'm going to close your window, alright?" he said into the darkness. Stepping up to the bed, he leaned nearly his entire torso forward and grabbed the boards to the side of the window. Another boom sounded, this time much closer, and threw its scattered light into the home. What he saw then made his stomach drop - the bed was empty. Adrenaline rushed through his system as he exited the bedroom and grabbed the nearest candle. He then stumbled back and somehow managed not to drop it as he reentered, casting the yellow glow against the walls. Scattered wood, the sheets were in a disarray - the window was just wide open. The bear statue was gone.

He moved toward the window again to see if there were any tracks in the sand that could indicate her path, but it was only the sea and darkness. The rain would have washed the evidence away. She still needed more time to heal - he couldn't imagine what pain she must have been in to climb out. He began to move away from the window, his mind preparing for the journey into the storm, when another lightning branched across the wide sky. There, he saw her - a crumpled dot on the sands.

The worst thought crossed his mind. He was himself a storm of curses, throwing the candle back to the table (and then carefully re-adjusting it after another thought), grabbing the new bag he had poorly crafted for himself. The materials within it clinked as he set off, jogging through the heavy deluge to the little, stubborn creature. The sky was an open void, a terrible churning darkness, that spit its venom in angry streaks for miles across. It would be easy for him to have become lost, overwhelmed by the intensity of nature. But the girl was his guiding point, an unmoving speck among the clutter.

As he came to her, she rolled over with a groan. "I'm sor - my leg," she said to him, indicating her ankle. It was greatly swollen, and the stabilizing splint was gone. "It's alright," he said to her, biting back the reprimand. He was just relieved she was alive. He thought of Genova very briefly, her face and the lightning across her cheek. "I'm going to pick you up, ok," he said to her, faltering. He remembered their conversation earlier. "If that's ok - can you walk?"

She began to lift herself up. Sand clung to her in heavy wet clumps, adding weight to her struggle. Overhead a large CRACK split the sky, and they both gaped in awe at the wide cavern of night. She looked to the wanderer and shook her head vigorously. He nodded and held out his large arms. She grabbed onto his scruff with her good hand, and very soon they were up from the soft, wet earth and making their way back.

As they reached the threshold of the house, the girl wriggled over his shoulder and pointed. "I left the bear out there!" she cried. He turned to face the sea again - the rain was falling in great, rapid sheets. The mist was so thick he could barely make out the shore. Looking for the bear would have to wait for the morning. "It's ok," he said amid her protests. "It's ok."
Last edited by Semini on Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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POSTED: Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:46 pm


He decided that evening was as good as ever to get the fire pit working. At first he tried to use a mallet to dent the vent back into shape, but his hands were too large to grip the human tool. His fumbling bangs only caused the black drips to fall onto him. After a few more tries and one sooty face later, he managed to bend it into something useable. At the very least, it would filter the smoke and the rainwater would slide to the corners of the pit. He could make it work.

The girl sat watching him from her bundle. The monk had procured every towel and blanket in the home and wrapped it on her, saying something of the wetness and catching a cold. She felt too stunned, too tired, too soggy to do much else than allow him to hustle around. It seemed like he wanted to move anyway. She watched as he lined the corners of the pit with bits of metal, curving them just so that the rainwater channeled out of the pit and kept the stones and center dry. He was resourceful, she thought. When he turned to her with his dirty face and something of a toothy smile, she frowned and amended her thought. Foolish, was what this man was.

A fire was made soon enough. The flames did not roar up but rather gently climbed, snaking out in curious licks, tasting the air of the sodden home. Warmth swelled over them like a wave, and the monk sat back against the foot of the moldy couch with a great sigh. He let his head fall back and stared at the faces in the chipped paint and wood. The girl sat quietly in her nest of fabric. For a moment they were both at peace, savoring the smell of burning wood and its heat.

Eventually she shrugged off the blankets to let the tangles of her long fur dry out. She looked at him. He was worn, tired, his eyes were closed. She looked down at her hands in her lap. "Thank you," she mumbled, picking at the cast.

His ears flicked. His eyes opened, their tired lines carrying more weight. His head rolled a little, so that he could see her with one heavy blue eye. In the firelight, their color was far muted. Reflective. His lips curved at the ends. "No worries, kiddo."

She bristled. "Don't call me 'Kiddo'," she bit, turning to the fire. She wasn't so young. She was going to be two years old soon.

His lips pulled back further into a grin. "Well, I have no name to work with. All I got is Kiddo."

She huffed. "Try again, Gramps." This made him sit up, straighten out. The tired lines faded from his expression. "How old do I look to you?" he asked her. She wrinkled her nose a bit as her blazing eyes glanced up and down his figure. "I don't know. Maybe, seven, eight winters?" He let out a laugh of disbelief. She shrugged. "Whatever you are, it's too old for me."

For the first time, his face became incredibly wolfish. His lips divided - large like a yawning cavern, stretching to reveal many sharp, jagged teeth. He laughed loud, heartily, booming, completely unrestrained into the drumming sound of the house. She looked around and felt her face grow hot. Her eyes narrowed at him. "What's so funny?" She asked sharply. Her question went ignored behind the wall of laughter, and so she shrunk back against the foot of the moldy couch and resolved to wait it out, glaring all the while.

He rubbed at his eyes, his shoulders still shaking. "You know, you're the age my niece would have been, just about." A chuckle hummed at his dark lips. "Just a kid." He grew quiet then, his eyes catching the light of the fire. It had dimmed some. He took some more of the wood and tossed it in. "Sorry Kiddo, the nickname's staying. You can call me Gramps if you want. Fair's fair."

She looked hard at him, then snorted and looked away. She didn't really know what to make of him, except that he was embarrassing and strange. The way he spoke and his mannerisms struck her as old. The wolves in the ports, if they weren't crusty seamen, they spoke with their noses upturned, carefully pronouncing their words. He was so wild and unfurled, polite, annoying. He had a softer stubbornness, an obstinate nature that greatly irritated her. Where she pushed hard, he would push gently and with such endurance that all opposition eventually wore down.

Silence settled between them. She stared at the logs and watched as their corners blackened and other parts glowed a bright red. She thought of his niece, and suddenly found herself wondering about his family, and why he was so alone in this small, abandoned place. A snicker escaped her as she thought of it having to do with his annoying personality. He glanced at her, a brow raised. Then he returned to his fire tending.

They were quiet for a long time, thinking alone. Suddenly, the girl spoke up.

"Was she beautiful?" she asked. Her voice seemed distant, as far away as the look in her eyes that stared into the fire. The monk looked at her with his brows creased. His ears flicked back against his head. "Who?"

"The bear." she yawned and shrank down into her blankets. She was comfortable. The man rubbed at his neck, thinning his lips in thought. After a long pause, he finally spoke.

"Yes, she was." his answer startled the girl awake, and she looked at him through tired, heavy eyelids. He was propped up on an elbow along the edge of the couch. His hand held his head, covering one eye. His back was curved beneath the weight of exhaustion.

The girl frowned and flicked her long ears. She wriggled an ankle free of the blanket bundle and thrust it at his side in a show of comfort. "Cheer up, old man." she yawned.

"From what I've heard from other lonely, ragged, washed up sailors - " he was looking at her with a great frown " - beautiful women don't stick around for anyone. If they did, they wouldn't be beautiful anymore," she laughed. He noticed that her smile was a little lopsided. It became difficult for him to maintain a frown, so he looked elsewhere. "Aw come on," she egged, prodding him gently with her padded toes. "Even I know that a girl isn't worth becoming a shut-in over."

He caught her foot in his hand and examined it. She seemed to be healing up better on this side. The other would have benefited from some cooling to reduce the swelling, but that was not an option. He gently tossed it back to her, and she retracted it with a small laugh. "I'm not a shut-in," he said, his brows raised. "I'm a recluse. It's very different."

"Uh-huh," she grinned, and let her head fall sleepily to one side. She was too tired to be having any kind of conversation but she was enjoying herself, in spite of herself. "Whatever. Either way, you're moping around this place like you're the only one who has ever been let down before." Her good hand sort of flitted in the air, casting off his metaphorical melancholy. "Let it go."

He was quiet for a moment. Large, padded fingers rubbed at the bridge between his nose. It wasn't just Genova on his thoughts, but Relaic, his niece that never had a chance to live, and Lenore. It was Orfeu and Thubten, the monastery. It was Tatkret, it was everyone. There was a greatness to their absences that he couldn't fully grasp. It made him want to keep grabbing at it. In some part of himself, he knew that she was right. But he wasn't prepared to admit this to her or to himself. He sighed heavily and said nothing.

When at last he turned to say something to her, he saw her disheveled figure crumpled against the couch. Her shoulders rose and fell with deep breaths. A light smile creased his features, and he threw another blanket over her. Then he settled back and watched the fire, the sounds of thunder and rainwater like music to his ears.
Last edited by Semini on Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
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POSTED: Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:59 am


"There!" She stuck her whole arm out in a firm line to the sand. Something small and dark poked out between the golden hills, a promising look, but as they came close the form took a different shape.

"Led me astray once again!" he laughed, a burly foot kicking the broken board into the morning light. It harbored no resemblance to the small, whittled bear which was lost the night before. "I'm beginning to think you were not, in fact, your ship's navigator."

"Of course not! You just made that up," she said, snorting. Her arms pulled at his thick mane, directing the giant to turn around. Like a faithful steed he reared up, hoisting her slender body as he moved.

"I wouldn't have believed it if you told me," he huffed. They were descending the sandy decline, and its texture was so soft and unpacked that each footfall went in a knee deep. With her perched upon his back, his balance was precarious at best. Knowing this she knocked his head with the flat of her knuckle. "And why's that?" she gritted.

He laughed again between his labored breaths. "Well, considering how I found you.." he panted, "Surely, a good navigator...wouldn't have sailed...directly into a storm." His legs soon met the hardened spot of the shore, where their combined weight was not so restrictive of his movement. His broad shoulders rolled back like rope pulling taut, his thick arms locking her weight in place. Her expression grew wide and fierce, "Sometimes a navigator doesn't have a choice. You can't always avoid miles of storm." She said this very emphatically, forcing the consonants. He only chuckled, his ribcage lifting and falling like the swells of the sea. "Especially in a stupid dinghy..." she grumbled, shooting her radiant glare into the sands like another sun.

There! The unmistakable curve of the bear's muzzle just barely protruded from the packed sand. A few more hours and the tide would have taken it away forever. As it was, the line of the sea reached for the nose and almost touched it, stretching and then leaving behind its trail of foam. "O-oh! That has to be it!" she cried, excitedly pushed against his back. She thrust her arm out urgently against his head, tugging at his mane with her good hand. "Quickly! Here, put me down. I want to dig it out!"

He obliged very carefully, kneeling onto one leg with deliberate restraint. She wriggled and writhed impatiently, and as soon as he was stable she pried herself out of his arms and stumbled onto the sand. He turned to hold out a ready hand, but she was recklessly flopping on to the ground beside the buried bear, letting her bottom catch the weight of her descent. His face was scrunched in certain displeasure - swollen ankles and broken wrists shouldn't be treated with such negligence - but she didn't pay him any more mind. Her hands were grabbing at the half wet sand, pulling out the figurine with such energy, such anticipation.

"I can't believe we found it!" she gushed. Her good hand was picking out the sand from the grooves, eagerly revealing the curves of the wood. Just as quickly as she became elated, her face would fall. "Oh..no."

Ciellen had seated himself at the other side of the small hole, and was stretching his shoulders out. He had just began to think about his many vain attempts to find the important things he lost by the sea, and how it differed so greatly from this combined venture. When she breathed her distress, it was almost as if life had turned directly to him and said, No. It will never be so easy. So free.

His eyes closed. He wanted to block it out for a moment, hold on to the minute before when there was only triumph and blind success. When he opened them, tired lines weighed along their edges, urging them to close again. They stayed open and awake upon the problem. The bear had broken - as if clawed open, its chest and middle were missing, with only a few various splinters left behind from the struggle. The girl looked at him with large eyes, "I'm..I don't know.."

"It was driftwood." he stated, opening up his palm to her. She placed it into his hand, her fingers light, flitting back quickly. His own wrapped hard and heavy over the broken bear. "Good wood gets tired against the salt, the sea."
Last edited by Semini on Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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POSTED: Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:25 am

I swear this is almost done....


He returned that afternoon with a gift.

“Look at what I found!” he said, knocking on the door frame. She barely had the time to sit up before something dark and musty enveloped her face. Her hands clawed it away quickly, punching it down into her lap. Her shoulders rolled with ragged breaths, and when she shot him a glare he knew that her heart must be pounding. He dismissed her annoyance with a light laugh, and moved to the end of the bed, to his spot.

“Go on, take a look.” He said. By the rhythmic thumping of his tail, she thought he must have been very pleased with himself. She quirked a skeptical brow before unfolding the strange fabric in the air between them. It was a large shirt, and in extremely good condition considering its age. She imagined the human owner must have rarely worn it, perhaps thrown it to some dark corner of their drawer and never thought of it again. She could understand that.

She felt his eyes on her face, and she lowered the shirt so that she might regard him fully. He grinned. “It’s alright if you don’t want it. I nabbed it since I figured it was good material, good for straps or anything else.”

“But,” he continued, his head tilting. “I thought, it might also fit you. Since your other one didn’t survive the sea.”

She threw her gaze out the window, then slowly reeled it back to him. Though he was energetic now, she thought the lines of his face were more tired than usual. She had heard him coughing the past few days. He tried to disguise it by heading outdoors when he was unable to contain the fits.

“Should you be going into town?” she asked him, pulling herself from the sheets. It had been some time since the wreck, and her wrist and one ankle were both feeling better. Although the other ankle was still fragile, swollen since she had foolishly climbed out the window, she had taken to hopping around the house. Staying put was not easy for the young wolf dog.

He raised a brow at her. “And why would you ask that?”

She hung her legs over the bedside, dangling them so that the claws gently scraped against the floor. “Because you’re getting sick.” She replied. Her face burned for a shame she would not admit. It was her fault, she knew it was her fault.

He shook his head. “I’m not,” he denied. “And I was a healer once. A little cold isn’t going to do me any harm.” He leaned forward to pick up the shirt, as she seemed to have lost interest in the item. But before he could, she snatched it away and tucked it under her pillow.

He leaned back, amused. “Well, I guess I won’t have a new rag, then,” he grinned to her. She shot him a glare. “Damn straight you won’t.” Though she had received many gifts, better gifts, in her short time alive, there was something different about this that made her want to keep it. She was not the materialistic type of person, and in the past had discarded things that she felt were of little use. It stuck in her mind that he had gone into town and thought of her. She did not know how much he did think of her, in all of his daily actions.

He held out his arm to her, in the way he had done for the past few days. She folded her good arm around it, and together they rose from the bed. She hated to lean on him that way, but it was easier and less painful than hobbling. Like her joints, her bruises, her broken bones, she was beginning to ease into this new life. And it was starting to feel a little more comfortable, a little right.

“Well, I’m going to make dinner now…” he said to her as they came to the bedroom’s entrance. She looked up at him. “I can cut the herbs,” That was one thing she knew of him – he greatly disliked preparing food for cooking. Ordinarily, she did too, but she hated staying in bed, staring out the window even more. Now that she was halfway healed, she wanted to contribute to the household functions. They had also been having some entertaining conversations over the shared activities, as of late. He had told her a story of his mentor from the Monastery, and his harsh methods of teaching, and how his good friend Orfeu had tricked him to get out of work. It made her laugh, despite herself.

He nodded to her, his face crinkling with a warm smile. “Alright. It's about time you start pulling your weight around here.” He teased. She glared to hide her own mirth, and threw a few soft, harmless punches at him. "I'll show you weight!"

He withstood her blow with a gentle shrug, laughing. "Ok, ok, point made."
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POSTED: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:01 am


She knew something was wrong when he didn’t come in the morning to let her know of his plans for the day. She knew it was very bad when it was the afternoon and all she heard was coughing from his place in front of the firepit. It struck a very primal fear in her heart to think that both of them would be caught in this vulnerable state – both unable to hunt, to work, to do what was necessary to live. This thought alone carried her legs over the side of the bed. Her shoulders rose and fell with heavy, anxious breaths. She leaned down to grab a long piece of wood from the pile, and then with its support underneath her arm, she hobbled to the doorway.

“Ciellen?” she called into the house. Only silence greeted her.

She made her way, slowly, to the frame of the couch. It was a musty old thing and like everything in the home, it had barely been touched or used properly since time stole it from the humans. Now it’s primary purpose was to hold all of Ciellen’s effects, his jars and herbs and weeds that he collected, various assorted things. It no longer carried the weight of company. He was too large to fit on it in any comfortable way. He occupied the large space of the floor in front of the firepit instead, in the sprawl of blankets and sheets and wooden, whittled bits.

She saw him there, laid on his back with his hands folded placidly over his stomach. His eyes were closed, and one of the couch pillows propped up his back. He was so still, so quiet that she heard her own breath hitch with fear. “Are you dead?” she asked loudly, fearfully. She tried hobbling around the couch, squeezing through the narrow space clumsily with the wood. Frustrated, she tossed it out and collapsed to the floor next to him. Her good hand took most of the fall, and it was alright. “You would kick the bucket before I’m better! You old geezer!” she growled, throwing her hand to his forehead.

She saw the line of his warm blue eyes struggle to lift their heavy lids, and felt her mouth tremble closed. Like a massive ship, his body began to shift, muscles pulling taught, shoulders rolling as he lifted himself up. Her eyes grew wide. She didn’t know what to do. Then, with her jaw set in determination, she pushed against him with as much force as she could muster. He consented to this motion much more easily than she expected, and he slid back down.

“What are you doing?” she snapped, “What’s the matter with you? You’re burning up!” her voice lowered as the waves of panic rolled from her. “You have a fever,” she said softly, turning her head. In that moment she almost looked kind.

A smile desperately pulled at his unmoving lips, but to no avail. “Is it time…?” he asked. His voice was a deep, scratched sound. He was much worse than she thought. She frowned. “No. You stay put.”

This seemed to wake him further. His palms splayed on the blanket, then curled tightly to a fist. He started to inhale, and then the coughs, loud and broken, shuddered through his frame. His head fell back against the couch cushion. She thought she would feel repulsed by his weakness, but she found herself more worried, more sad than anything.

“Do you need water?” she asked him, uncertainly. She had never helped a sick person before. That was a job left to other people – sensitive ones, or mothers. Her only experience was from being sick herself – and she had never had anything worse than a cold. This was her first time being physically broken, as well. Her eyes glanced away to the kitchen, where the bowl of fresh water sat. She decided that it would be best to get the water to him anyway, even if he didn’t want it at that moment.

She turned and grabbed the wood she had thrown aside. As she started the precarious journey to her feet, she felt his fingers weakly grab the thin, curling hairs of her leg. Immediately she felt restricted, trapped, and this infuriated her. “What—“ she snapped, before her expression grew soft. He was breathing shallow, and his eyes were downcast. There was a need there that was once inaccessible to her. Since the wreck, she had felt as though everything in her life was completely beyond her control. The monk had made some efforts to reduce that feeling, but there had always been a wall there. With the onslaught of sickness, however, his defenses began to crumble, and she saw it all for the fragile barrier that it was. She crouched down again with the assistance of the wooden cane. “Hey,” she said, feeling strong. “I know how it feels. It’s ok.”
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POSTED: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:15 pm

This is long... uhhh maybe triggering?


She couldn’t get it to work. No matter which way she turned the steel and flint, the sparks would not ignite the tinder. A low rumble of frustration resonated from her throat as she worked the material, humming louder until a finally it resolved into a loud clatter from her hands and the tools were cast into the dark and sullen fire pit. Behind her, the Monk stirred. She realized her noise must have woken him. “Sorry, Ciel,” she sighed, turning to face him. Her nose nearly met his open palm, which he leaned over to hold out. In it was a small matchbook.

Ordinarily the gesture would have greatly irritated her. But when her blazing eyes traveled the curve of his exhausted shoulders up to his face, held in place only by the strength of his enduring arms, she could not ignite her own anger. He nodded to her, as the use of his throat was for three days gone. Her hand wrapped gently around the matchbook. “You…thanks.” She grumbled, and returned to her task.

A few more tries and she finally got it. She did not practice this skill frequently, as a ship had very little use of fire. The way the Monk had done it always seemed so effortless, so smooth, but she supposed that many years of practice would make for such a familiarity. He tended to fires the way fishermen did their boats – always easy, always gladly like an old, reliable friend.

The young woman had taken to her new role initially with some hesitation, but after the first day she had settled into it. She realized that laying in bed all day may have been detrimental to her recovery – as she moved around on her makeshift crutches, strengthening her muscles that otherwise saw no action, she found that her arm and ankles began to feel better. By the end of the week, she had become much stronger. She could move more freely, limp a little better, finally cast off her crutches. By contrast, Ciellen showed no signs of improvement. If anything he seemed to get worse, coughing harder, fading in and out of consciousness. She panicked inside and said nothing.

She had been afraid that sustenance would be an issue, until she recalled the cast net in the cabinet beneath the counter. Then she knew it would be alright. They ate mullet from the sea – thin, slender bits of luck that flew wildly into her net. She could always rely on the ocean to carry her into something good.

It was hard to keep Ciellen from trying to correct her habits. Though a sign of his worsening condition, she was also somewhat relieved when he lost his voice. He had hoarsely been trying to direct her through certain chores – “No, use the other knife” “Don’t twist the stems that way” “Don’t force the nail in like that” – until she got so frustrated that she would stomp over to him, slap his forehead, declare him feverish and throw a blanket over his face. He usually got the point, but sometimes she heard his muffled complaints.


The worst had come that evening.

It had been hard for him to stay awake and yet that was all he could do. It was too hot and it was too cold. His tongue was too heavy, his eyelids were stuck. The girl was in and out of his periphery – a shadow of navy and white, flitting around the house. When she finally sat to light the fire, she was an abstraction of hues, the refracted surface of water beneath the full moon.

That was when he saw the change - her face turning, Lenore’s silhouette. Lenore standing, dripping, dripping.

He tried to roll the memory away – he knew it was a memory – but fevers had a nasty way of blending time together. It was terrifying in its unnatural reality. It was terrifying because he was convinced of her there, he could smell her, he could hear her breath. He even heard her voice, which he had forgotten long ago.

"-- child,” she rasped. “---supposed to save her,”

He clutched feebly at his head. He shook it, despite his effort to convince himself that it was only a feverish dream. If he responded to the hallucination, it would only grow.

She became clearer as the fire bloomed. The dripping was not that of the rain water – was it raining again? It had to be the rain. It could not have been the blood, he washed his hands of it so long ago.

“Ciellen,” she said in the way she had always said his name, a gentle lilt of fondness, a dark, bittersweet sort of stirring. He could feel her crouching now, next to him, and he squeezed his eyes shut. Her cold hands were in the white of his fur, his pallid face, his gaunt expression. “I was trying,” he broke at last, “I wanted to save you.”

The specter reeled back. When he opened his eyes, he expected to see the girl there. But it was Lenore.

“-- begged you, I begged you,” she seethed through her distortion, kneeling down and this time her face pressed so close to his own that he could not look away. It was Lenore in the flesh, her eyes wild and large. “—saved my child, then Relaic would be alive.”

Ciellen felt his jaw clench, his hands push against the floor to find the stability his mind could not. She was a jolt – a flash, then afar, anguishing on the floor, her legs distorted, the redness crawling up her frame. How could the wood be so firm and the softness of the cushion just as he had known it? How could the house exist in the same space as Lenore?

“No,” he struggled, “Relaic…”

The words could not come out. He couldn’t admit the thought. He would not admit that his brother might have preferred Lenore over their child, though that was the thought that ultimately led his decision. He did not know the truth - would Relaic have remained, if his daughter had lived? But that night, Ciellen had to make a choice – no, he had made the only real choice. He had tried desperately to save Lenore, he had tried to staunch the flow of blood. And she had clutched at his arms, sobbing, begging him, until her hands were tired and her eyes were tired and Relaic had come to his side. And then Ciellen watched his brother gather his wife together and whisper into her nodding head, whisper and shudder until Lenore did not move again.

Relaic had never blamed him, why did Lenore? “I couldn’t have,” he admitted, and the light was low and the room was dark. “I couldn’t do anything,” he trembled, his eyes were leaking their color. “For you, for her,” his hands furled and unfurled, “For Relaic.”

They stopped. He looked up and saw the dark ocean, thrown open against the midnight glaciers. He saw the swell of the arctic, the expanse of moon and night. The ice cracked until it was Genova as he had always seen her, her hair like the arms of the sea.

“I couldn't,” ---

--- “– CIEL” the girl had come, or had she always been there? His eyes opened but he had always been awake. His head was warm, and as he looked up he saw her directly above him. The darkness of her thighs framed his periphery and he knew his head was in her lap. Her long white hair framed her worried expression like two waterfalls. He tried to reach out to touch the cool water, but she took his hand and held it down. “Ay dios mio!” she warbled, he realized that her eyes were spilling, little molten tears. “Don’t SCARE me--!” she bit her lip, and with her other hand tucked the white of his scruffy face back. Her hands were cold, refreshing.

She bent over and pulled the bowl of water near to them. It seemed to be far less full than before. She took the rag that was hung over the side and dipped it, wringing it out before pressing it to his forehead. He had already cooled off, but welcomed the feeling. She was angry, he could see her lips twitching with the curses she wished to rain on him.

“Rambling like some – some lunatic,” she muttered, half to him, mostly to herself “-- do you know how I found you? I leave you for one second and, and when I come back your face is in the water!”

The image made him laugh, cough up some of the water that had penetrated his nose. She gently slapped his face with the rag. “Don’t laugh!”

“God—“ she threw back her head and whined. He saw the darkness of her fur where it lightened around her throat – a subtle transition that would have escaped him if not for that moment. He smiled.

She was shaking her head then. “This sickness – this is all you,” she said very seriously, circling her finger around his face, not in any endearing way but in an accusatory one. She let it fall, and looked into the fire. “I heard it,” she said, low. “I heard you.”

He let his eyelids fall again, though he feared what the darkness might illuminate. Instead he felt the firmness of her legs, the steadiness of her breathing, her hand as it tucked away the shadows of guilt.

“My brother…” he said slowly, hoarsely. She shook her head. “Don’t – listen. I’m going to talk now,” she said to him. He was quiet.

“Ok. Listen,” she started, trying to find the right hold. Her words were clumsy. “There are a few things that we do – or don’t do – in our lives that are very big, and very important. And the consequences, and those things, they’re ours. Her hands tightened, and he thought he heard the slip of something in her voice – a strangeness, a rounding of the vowels, a softening of the syllables. “And you’re not going to find it in anyone else.”

She would not know that it struck him to silence. He breathed. His hand grabbed at her hand, which she continued to hold firmly. “You can’t expect that from people, Ciel. And you can’t take it from them either. You can’t give it to them.” She shook her head as the sentiments dissolved. He knew that she was struggling to articulate the things in her chest, the things that had left her damaged on the shore.

“You need to hold your own.”

His chest heaved with a great sigh. When she finally looked down to him, he had fallen asleep.
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