[m] we didn't start the fire

POSTED: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:54 am

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.

Somewhere in the desert, backdated to... mid-October?

By now she had spent as much time within the desert as she had without it, and yet Rahab still could not decide whether she liked it.

There was a sort of harsh beauty to it, she supposed.

No crops grew here; the sun, a virulent and unforgiving vampire, saw to that. Devoid of water and oftentimes of life itself, she struggled to comprehend that there were those who lived and died here without ever traveling beyond its merciless confines.

In the day when the sun was out, everything was a blistering white, and places on her body she had not known existed became gritty. During the nights, the sweltering heat died down to something resembling a reprieve... sometimes it was downright cool.

This back-and-forth between the temperatures was most tiresome.

So, it was beautiful – in its own way, as most things were – but that was all she could say with any certainty.

It was just another version of the sea; for some it was terrible and cold, or death to those who could not swim, while others found it to be a symbol of freedom, of endless possibilities.

Turning from her view of the vast, empty ocean of sand, Rahab walked slowly through the small city of patchwork tents. Some were little more than a pair of sticks and some tattered cloth, while others had clearly been made from old sails. They felt the same way about the desert as she did about the sea.

It was no longer the place where they would die under the foot of their captors, but fight for a cause entirely their own. It was not a faceless cause, however; they rallied around a would-be-Conqueror, their liberator.

Or, liberators, as it were.

Over time her standing here, as informal as it was, had clearly evolved into something she could not name. No longer did the jackals and hybrids look upon her with confusion or disdain, perplexed by her obvious dog and coyote heritage, but with something verging on grudging respect. Once, this would have frustrated her, to have responsibility and purpose thrust upon her all unwitting.

She was not like her pirate mother or her older sister, both of whom aspired to greatness. She sought only to avoid the tediousness of boredom, but in doing so she had garnered attention and influence in equal measure... At least insofar as such things were possible in a ragtag army of freedmen and revolutionaries.

What her sisters thought of this development, she had no idea, but she remained certain that they would make their opinions abundantly clear before long. It was not in their collective nature to let such things pass unremarked upon.

User avatar

POSTED: Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:54 am

Tiamat did not know when the change in her had happened, but much like the length of days expanding and contracting with the season, it did not happen all at once.

She had seen the boy helping others with their shelters throughout the afternoon. When it came time to make his own, however, no one had remembered his acts of service. He was of an age that he would not have left his family if they were still around, and yet he was too old to be the responsibility of others. It was hard for those like him. They were the kind to slip between the cracks, and that was why Tiamat kept watch.

The sun was a slice of red on the horizon. Soon, their desert sea would be drenched in darkness. The night could be a relief, even in the winter, and it was during this time that the Bedouins would travel their longest distances. But they were not such hardy people - they were a disparate group, used to the patterns of the cities and the ports; used to the days and nights of their masters.

I help, she approached, speaking the common tongue of their region. The young jackal looked at her. It wasn't distrust she saw - that was something Tiamat was used to seeing - but rather a weariness that belonged to a person twice his age. He gestured at the ropes he had laid out around the corners. Tiamat understood, in part due to her own familiarity with the process. Her accent was barely passable, but they did not begrudge her the lack of harmony in the sounds anymore. They accepted her like she might be their own.

As far as Tiamat was concerned, she did belong to them.

They went around the edges of the goat skin and tied the ropes in silence. She always thought of her mother when she did this, but she found the memory did not sting like it once did. Time, sand, and the unforgiving sun had a way of exposing real injuries and burying all else.

When it came time to erect the tent, she found he had only a handful of mismatched poles, pieces salvaged from abandoned campsites they had passed. He would not be able to stand in his tent, nor do anything but curl into a ball while the cold night blustered around the edges.

I find, she decided. He shook his head. It's ok, he gestured. Sleep only.

No. She said, and the firmness of her voice made the boy shrink. Tiamat frowned. Cold night. I find. She said this more gently, but the effect of her power lingered in his downcast eyes. It made her feel the way she imagined the Arena felt, like what she wanted was the most important thing in the world. He nodded, agreeing now.

She left before the guilt could settle in.

The wind that wound through the camp was bitter, but Tiamat did not feel its bite. She was born for much colder climes.

There was more activity in the innermost parts of the camp site. The few who knew the ways to conjure fire were helping to teach the others, and though this was a kind gesture, Tiamat found herself having to warn them away from bringing the fires into their tents. It would not be a good night for flames - there was too much wind, too much fabric, and too many bodies close together.

As Tiamat left a tent that belonged to a woman and her newborn children, Rahab abruptly appeared before her, as she was wont to do.

This did not catch her off guard like it once did. Tiamat had long ago accepted that they had some bond like this - appearing as needed, for better or for worse. What are you doing right now? She asked, and continued on quickly, as if Rahab had already responded. Come with me. I need to find a tall pole, which I've heard you're quite good at.

Only a glint in her eye suggested humor, and the barest twinge of her lips.

User avatar

POSTED: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:41 am

For whatever reason she could not say what she did throughout the day with any real certainty, only that by the time darkness fell and the camp was full of quiet, sleepy sighs, she had long since succumbed to the dreamless sleep of someone who had been busy.

There was an ever-growing list of things that had to be done, and it seemed like every time she fixed one thing or resolved an issue, two more had sprung up. It was like bailing water out of a boat with a thimble… and yet she simply could not allow it to sink, even when the shore was so close she could reach out and touch it.

Her mothers, who had fought on opposite sides of the Inferni and Cour des Miracles War, would likely look upon this decision to persevere as simple fanaticism.

It was with little preamble that Rahab once more found herself conscripted to one of Tiamat’s many causes, as she had come to think of them. The coyote-hybrid found herself skeptically eying the fires that were being lit; it would benefit the many if they created a greater fire in the middle, where everyone could congregate… where they could be merry and warm on the eve of battle.

Ignoring the initial question — which Tiamat did not seem to notice or care about — Ray instead swung her staff up so it settled on her shoulder, stepping in line with smaller woman.

Your Arabic is bad, Rahab informed her of this as if she were simply talking about the current state of the weather. I am good with staffs, not at finding them.

In truth, she didn't need any help finding them; for every slave they freed there was another reason to celebrate, and liberation was a heady thing that sometimes led to heartache and heartbreak. It was true, she'd cut a swathe clean through a handful of those they'd freed, but it was done with a glad heart and fond laughter.

So far, she had heard no complaints.

In any case, her campaign of seduction was done; so Samira said, and so it would be. There had been others, of course, but it was the jackal woman who'd claimed her, and Rahab had no problem with this.

Why are you looking for a pole? She wondered while they walked, both to annoy her and to practice. It was a difficult language that did not come naturally to those who spoke English as a first language. After a moment, she repeated the question in a shared tongue to move their deliberations along.

In any case, if it's companionship you seek... Rahab grinned. look no further.

User avatar