what you've got, it runs too pure

POSTED: Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:57 pm

Returning to the Salsolan homeland was more his mother's idea than his own. Neith had enjoyed helping out around the Outpost and felt, as a face and presence there for a majority of his short time, as if he belonged and were recognized as a crucial part to its everyday functioning. Granted, his part was a subtle one; he managed books and wares and did not make himself a Salsolan representative to the outside world. He did not barter the trades, but oversaw storage and reported back his interpretations of what they did and did not need.

Neith didn't like trading, and claimed to be no diplomat. He was a thinker over a talker, and he thought to survive in Salsola prime, one needed very much to be a talker.

But his headaches were getting worse, and given the nightmares and the lack of sleep, his usefulness around the Outpost had taken a sudden nosedive. Isabella recommended the Salsolan herbalists, particularly her daughter and Neith's half-sister Ondine, whom the male Heiwa could scarcely still put a face to. He'd left the Outpost with several others to transfer wares back to Salsola and inquire with Ondine, but after the external attack during their arrival, Neith realized himself considerably trapped in what had become foreign to him. He recalled so little of Salsolan territory, though many faces hadn't changed. With even Lillith now departed, it was through a slave that Neith was directed towards the Ruins to speak with Ondine.

The Ruins were about as decrepit as he remembered them. He searched for a red veil for a doorway as directed and wondered how best to draw attention. Prompted by a sudden stab of pain in his head Neith grimaced, centered himself as if nothing was wrong, and cleared his throat.

"Ondine?" he called, and took a moment to straighten his collar and the rapier on his hip. "It's Neith."

Following a beat the Heiwa added, "If you remember."

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POSTED: Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:55 pm

Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine was attempting to sew. Attempting being the clear word as she did not possess Mother Lillith's talent for the cloth and leather, though her repairs were admirable enough. But she had been taught to handle such things, as well as dying, so she ought to have been adequate enough for this repair job. But the long extensive rip in the material meant that she had too much hole to work with and not enough seam to focus on. Perhaps the dress was a loss, she thought, twiddling a pair of fingers between the large hole.

She sighed, settling the work in her lap before rubbing at one eye. Perhaps, she ought to have done the work outside, but she did not want people to see her struggling at a job her mother would have had finished in a heartbeat. Even Isabella had a semblance of sewing knowledge, though Lillith had taken over that work, too. Their absence was suddenly keener than ever, as she put the dress on the table, carefully poking the tip of the needle into the material. Her hand stroked the dress and she wondered if it was not time to retire it and get herself a newer outfit.

Of course, then she heard a slightly unfamiliar voice that introduced himself with a very familiar name.

"Neith?" she exclaimed, rushing to the curtain door and flinging it open with a great flourish, the sound of the damask moving like a clap of fabric. "Neith!" she cried again, smiling and laughing as she pushed forward, letting the curtain fall behind her in a thick cascade. She reached out and hugged him tightly before pulling away, looking at her little brother.

"Goddess but you got tall," she commented with a slight hint of jealousy in her voice as she looked him up and down. What a figure her brother cut. A heart breaker is what he seemed to be to the woman and she smiled at him, happy to see family. "Elektra will be happy to see you! She's not in right now, she's.. around, I think." She let go of the man gesturing inside. "Come in, come in!"

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POSTED: Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:48 pm

His last comment was indubitably sarcastic, but at the same time, Neith felt as if he could not be sure of anything. He hadn't been particularly close with Ondine before leaving for the outpost, and Neith wasn't sure how the Salsolan culture had shaped her in his absence. It had shaped him too, of course, but the culture around the Outpost had its key differences from Salsola proper. He had heard through those traveling back and forth with the caravans that Ondine had wormed her way further into the Circles, and Neith had approached her home with a genuine fear she would turn him away as insignificant.

But the way she greeted him, her smile and her embrace, Neith hid his shame to have been so wrong. Boyishly he grinned and hugged her, impressed how she'd changed yet hardly changed at all. "You look beautiful," he said, and meant it. "The last few days have been hell—I am so relieved to see you."

He laughed and apologized when she remarked on his height, and followed her past the veil when invited. "Is Elektra well? Is she living here with you?" He took in his half-sister's quaint residence impressed and smiling, at least until his headache spiked and he visibly winced. To hide it Neither pulled out a chair at the dining table and seated himself, his smile returning.

"I do have a reason for coming, other than being stuck here for now," said Neith, "but first, I hope you'd fill me in on how you're doing. Mother and Delfina are well, before you ask. I haven't come with any bad news."

Other than what utter tomfoolery was going on outside the Salsolan borders, anyway.

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POSTED: Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:38 pm

Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine waved a hand at his compliment, secretly pleased that her younger step-brother thought as much of her. It did make her feel a little better, after the rather tearing moment of Lokr's realization and their awkward parting. He was her brother, and more than a little obligated to feed her ego, but she appreciated it either way.

Her modest smile gave way to a furrow of worry at his words. Hellish days? She had to wonder what it was as she let him in, unable to ask what he had meant. All in due time, and she was not above pestering him for information. She had no fear of this sibling of hers, whereas Delfina had always frightened and tormented her as a child. Neith was lucky that she was not remotely as cruel as she, and likely Elektra was not even close to bad.

Ondine wondered if Neith remembered their shared home much, since it felt like he had been so young when they had all left. Or had she thought it was so long ago, or did she merely not remember well?

She watched him seat himself and instinctively she went to pour a bit of wine from a decanter, into a broad cup that was likely a little more like a bowl. She set it in front of the young man without a second thought; he was old enough to travel alone, he was old enough to drink in the privacy of their childhood home. She sat herself down opposite him, crossing her legs beneath the table as she did so.

Reasons. Always reasons among them all. She smiled sheepishly as he assured her that their family was well; she had figured as there had been no news otherwise. "I'm doing well, little brother," she said with a wink, clanking nails on the stony table. "I became Seer for us. I'm sure Mother would be proud." She meant them both, but she doubted that there had ever been any doubt in Lillith's affection for the daughters of Isabella.

"Tell me, then, what sort of 'hell' have you been in these days, as you so put it? Why are you here now?" There had to be a good reason for it, she was sure.

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POSTED: Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:35 pm

Perhaps it was the familiarity of the Ruins home that unequipped him so, or perhaps it was to relief of private but cherished company for the first time since leaving the Outpost. He hadn't forgotten the walls, the features, the memories of he and Elektra four-legged and raising hell in and out of each doorway, but without the presence of their mothers what had been his childhood home seemed somehow foreign. Familiar like a nightly lullaby, yet off as if sung with all the wrong words.

Neith thanked her for the wine and sipped from it with a refined elegance—one he maintained with a pathetic desperation, in fact, as the booming in his head surged with the slightest tip back to drink. How he wished he could indulge in alcohol more often, but indulgence was a sign of flawed self-control, and Neith would have none of that.

The drink nearly came back up from his throat when she announced her promotion. "The Seer!" Neith exclaimed after recovering, grinning. "That's quite the responsibility, Ondine, I'm impressed. Our mothers would be proud. What has it entailed for you so far, if anything? Have you had any troubles?"

For but a moment Neith wondered if Ondine might someday surpass his mothers (even his biological father, perhaps) in significance and presence among the Thistles. He himself did not desire for power but utility, and even more so lately given the more recent events in which he found himself virtually useless.

"Our caravan coming up from the outpost was attacked as we neared Salsola," he said, leaning back in his chair with waning humor. Neith rolled the wine inside the cup. "We aren't certain why. Until suspicion outside the Kingdom dies down, I won't be able to get back to the outpost with any confidence of safety."

The cup in his fingers paused, then tipped at his lips. He set it down. "I'm not much in a fight, sister. The whole experience was... humiliating, to say the least."

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POSTED: Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:30 pm

Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine felt the comfort of a family member, and relaxed easily in her brother's presence. They may not have been blood-family, but she had been there when Lillith had been carrying them and nearby when she had delivered them both. She had loved them the moment she saw them and knew they would be truer siblings to her than perhaps even Delfina was. That and she refused to let them bully her nor would she have ever asserted her dominance over them the way the elder had done in their youth.

She smiled and laughed a little at his reaction over her promotion. It was not as high as their mother perhaps, but it was still a mark of honor and respect. She had a great deal of that to her name now, as she was the official priestess of their kingdom, even with the Crone above her then. Still, she was not some Arbiter or something, but a truly well-ranked and beneficially positioned pack member. And she had done it all on her own.

"I'm not sure about entailing me much yet, but when the ceremonies start coming I'll be busy, most likely. Maybe I'll be consulted more often, but there is definitely a soft buzz of respect," she added, mostly for his benefit because she had no clue if anyone was really all that more moved by her promotion. Family had come to congratulate her, naturally, but she had figured they would have regardless.

But when her brother mentioned the attack on his caravan, her smile melted into a tight frown. Attacked? He seemed unharmed, at least, and that was something to be thankful for. "I'm glad you walked away unhurt, brother," she added, reaching over to press a reassuring hand on Neith's. She withdrew it after a moment, a weaker smile reappearing on her pale face. "Humiliating how? And I can't say I am unhappy with the fact you'll stay here a little while. We may have cousins pouring in but there is nothing better than siblings to have around you." Though not Delfina. Never was Delfina a good thing to have around.

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POSTED: Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:57 pm

"I can't say I've inherited much of the same talents as you," said Neith, a cheek leaned into his palm and a smile on his face, "but if I can be of any help to you as Seer, I hope you won't hesitate to ask."

There was a pause, and for a moment his smile faltered. He looked long and hard at her, considering something, but pushed his thoughts to the back burner for now. Her hand fell upon his, and his fell upon hers a beat later, and the two shared a sympathetic—if not wary—smile. The situation around outside their borders was startling to say the least, but it was as she said: Things were more tolerable with the comfort of siblings nearby.

"I was of no help to our people during the attack." The Heiwa touched at the hilt near his hip. "I've only traded for this rapier within the last couple months. I haven't had the time to learn it. The others might have been none the wiser, but I could only pretend I knew what I was doing when holding it. Humiliating."

He shrugged and sat back in his chair. "Dwelling on it only draws more attention to it, however, so I won't. But. On the subject of your duties as Seer..." A moment's hesitance later, and with a nervous pinch of the brows, "How familiar are you with... spirits, Ondine?"

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POSTED: Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:12 pm

Maybe all of these things made me who I am

"Brother, it is I who will offer you any help that you seek, if it's within my abilities to give it to you," she countered firmly, knowing that her low-ranking sibling was unlikely to provide her with much at that point, but she knew that his offer was genuine. She appreciated it, despite the limited amount of things he could do. On the other hand, Ondine would have been happy to do her best to boost him forward, such as putting his name forward, or perhaps even sponsoring him.

But her heart went out to him for his troubles. It was definitely a sign of poor planning that he had acquired the weapon without learning how to use it properly first. Isabella had taught her two daughters the rudimentary knife skills she, too, had but it was not enough to call herself a warrior. Hell, it had been mostly taught for self-defense. If her mother had killed with the knives before, she was quite on the subject. The question had been posed to her but her look had grown distant enough even to silence Delfina after she had asked.

Ondine's eyes grew surprised. Neith was inquiring after spirits? Lillith had tended toward the macabre just as the rest of Isabella's family seemed to, but that Neith had an interest seemed out of the blue. In her head, Ondine assumed he would pursue the more combative portions of his heritage, rather than his father's decidedly spiritual nature.

"Familiar enough. I'm a little more closely familiar with our Goddess, but it's in the same realm." She leaned forward on the table, her look stern and surprisingly firm. "Why?" she asked with an air that suggested she did not want to be run around the subject. Honestly, this was exactly her area of expertise, so naturally, she felt obligated to hear him out.

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POSTED: Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:48 pm

The question he asked was immediately suspicious, and it read quite clearly on her face. At once, Neith raised his hands and shook his head. "Don't misunderstand me, it isn't my thing. I don't intend to take after you or Loki."

Then, visibly summoning patience, he sipped once at the wine and stared into his folded hands on the tabletop. "If I might confide in you, sister—and, assuming this might not leave the safety of these walls..."

Neith took a breath, glanced the doorways, and looked up at her. A great seriousness possessed him then, and the tone of his voice dropped to suit it. "Over the last few months I've started to experience headaches. Migraines, often. Night terrors and insomnia." A pause for breath and a silent confirmation to himself. Ondine was safe to tell. "Lately, when the headaches are at their worst, I sometimes hear voices, but no one is around. I see figures, but they don't last."

Uncomfortable, he sat back again. "I'm not certain what to attribute these things to. Our mother thought perhaps I needed a break from the stress of the outpost, and here I am. I wasn't meant to be gone long. But neither have these ... incidents stopped."

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POSTED: Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:59 pm

Maybe all of these things made me who I am

Ondine sat back immediately, surprise coloring her face. Or was she more incredulous that he would even make such a suggestion. "I didn't think that at all! Anything concerning spirits is a serious question." The celestial and ghostly realms were no laughing matter, nothing to make light of, and usually very serious to consider. There might have been lighthearted aspects to them, but to deal them little respect was dangerous.

The Seer leaned forward once again, settling herself back into a state of calm, even though she did not truly feel as though she was entirely collected. "Of course. Nous sommes une famille. Vos secrets sont mes secrets." she offered with a supporting smile as she laid her hand forward, offering it to her brother in case he needed it. She did not know the nature of the question, not really, and wondered what brought the thought about.

Then her lips tightened and her smile grew wan. It did not bode well. Delfina had the migraines that shut her down for hours at a time, until sleep claimed her and she awoke after vivid dreams. Something had happened to Neith, though she could not know what it was, to give him such a thing. Migraines, terrors, nightmares. Neith was suffering greatly at this curious question.

"Delfina offered no support, I imagine." Delfina would have been the one to consult, but she likely thought her painful headaches and dreams a gift from the Goddess; her mother certainly thought they were prophetic. But it seemed that the idea had faded with time as her elder sister's ambitions clearly showed her character. Perhaps Ondine was due to be the golden child in her mother's eye. "That seems curious. I'll have to think on it, but perhaps I can offer you a way to commune with the Goddess? She might give you answers?" The idea of voices did frighten her, but also interested her deeply. She wished she had a stronger connection to the shadowy world of their faith, but perhaps the light of a priestess was good enough.

"I can set you up at the shrine, give you the materials you'll need to commune, and then perhaps I can find you cannabis. It is supposed to calm and soothe." Ondine was not a user of it herself, but her calm nature meant she was rather collected regardless of the situation.

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