Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:52 am

"Thank you Cherny." There was some concern for the boy's momentary admittance of pain, but it passed, as much in regard for his squire's courage as anything else. "I can't think of too many other people who need to be announced less than her, though. Than you, Miss Wynsee. I won't speak of you as if you are not here. You deserve more politeness than that. Everyone does." He smiled to her and it was pleasant; of course it was.

"Thank you for visiting, Gloria." He switched to the familiar in the face of her intensity. He was anything but. He had treated with her calmly at every point, even when she was trying to gut him (or at least fishhook him) now many months ago. "Please, come in, sit down. I've asked of you over the last few months and Cherny, without revealing anything..." he strains for a word, for untoward, and it is, really a near miss. "forward. I am glad to see you healthy and whole." That was probably supposed to be hale. He tried, the knight did. He really did.
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Rance » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:52 am

"I don't want to -- to sit down. I'd much rather stand. I prefer standing."

Elliot Gahald was, indeed, hale -- his greeting, at least. He invited her in to share their company with all the grace of a charitable lord smiling over the breadth of his domain. Cherny, in turn, was his protector, rising to both announce her presence and, perhaps, to keep her separate from the other boy. Her body language was halted, however; there was no more forward momentum, no desire to take any more steps past those she'd already traveled. The several leafs of paper crumpled underneath the tightness of her fist.

Her gaze leveled upon her brother, suddenly softened. If Elliot were a light, then Cherny guarded her in his shadow; in it, she could be composed and considerate. To the squire, she muttered:

"As much as I might like to, I'm not going to hurt him. I just came to -- to say things I need to say. Reasonably."

She had hit a wall, been deflated in her original purpose -- a thousand words simmered like caustic coals in her chest, and had only the young knight be in the room, they might have all come pouring out. But the wall, in this case, was the younger boy who angled himself between his sister and his knight. The fury shining in her eyes -- and what was it for, in this moment? Why bring it here, now, of all times? -- was smothered in Cherny's presence, left to wither away and gutter.

She lifted up the fistful of parchment and clamped her dingy fingers down into the fibers of paper.

"Ask of me all you want, Elliot Gahald. I -- I don't care if you ever think about me. The stark truth is, every time you enter my thoughts, I wish I could drown my brain or broil it in a fire. But because you're important to Cherny, I'll spare you the usual reaction to things I strongly dislike."

She made like she was going to throw the knot of papers. But when she raised her hand to toss them--

--she didn't, she couldn't. Her fingertips clenched weakly to the pages, refusing to let go.

In direct contrast to her earlier words, she turned her cheek, found the empty seat of a chair, and lowered herself into it, protectively cradling the offering of leaflets in her lap. Her left leg bounced underneath her skirt, a piston, the up-and-down cadence of her knee a strange, active comfort. "I have things to say to you," she told Elliot, directing the words to her lap instead of to him. "I have got things to say, and therein lies the most confounding part of -- of the problem.

"What I want to say isn't meant for you at all."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Cherny » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:10 am

A small bow of his head in reply to the knight's thanks; likewise to their visitor, meeting her gaze from under his brows, a flicker of his eyelid in a furtive wink; pleased that she's managed to restrain herself from violence, from dramatic gestures, offering a subtle encouragement for her to continue in such efforts. He admires his knight, but he is proud of his sister, each of them commanding a subtly different strand of loyalty in the boy's heart.

Despite her protest the seamstress takes a seat, composes herself, and at last the squire seems to settle; they have their conversation to which they can attend, and the boy withdraws accordingly. Quiet steps back to his own chair, a surreptitious inspection for the bead of blood that wells from his pricked fingertip; the digit brought to his mouth for a moment before he picks up his craftwork and resumes his seat, making himself carefully unobtrusive. Not a participant, nor even a spectator - merely a presence, but of little note or consequence.
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:27 pm

"You have such strong words, Miss Wynsee." And he had such smile for her, kind and caring and completely without guile. It was not unlike the smile he usually had for Cherny though that was also loyal and fond in a different way. They were true friends. Cherny he could trust to the end of the world. Gloria, on the other hand, he would simply like to.

She left him with such a conundrum though. Maybe, once upon a time, he would have been confused by it, unable to understand it. Now, he understood it but there was so little he could do. For one thing, he did not believe it. In some ways, that gave him an edge, leverage, something to grasp on to in order to pull himself forward. Now he sat up a bit more, pushing the soup aside with an apologetic look to Cherny. He would eat it cold but it was a shame for the hard work his friend put into it.

"And I will listen to them, even if they are not for me. I cannot give you exactly what you ask for, and I am truly sorry for that, I am. I can give you all that I can though. You care very much. All the time. I think that is a wonderful trait. You deserve all of my best."
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Practicality in an Overly Ideal World

Postby Rance » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:59 pm

She sat in the chair with all the awkwardness of an imbalanced prop, her posture wooden and her angle tilted as though one buttock had been poorly lathed amid the haste of industry. Her hands intermittently shifted from the rests of the chair to her lap, where they gripped skirt-fabric in worrisome tangles. She lifted her chin, watching Cherny with unspoken devotion -- he crafted, sucked the tip of his finger to relieve the pain of creation, and she found herself wondering--

--how? How was it possible; how, with his world of patience and kindness, he could sit in this very same chair in this very same room and befriend a shadow given the shape of a knight. No, she didn't blame him, didn't -- even after their sharp-tongued argument weeks ago -- begrudge him, but admired him. Admired how he could accept Elliot Gahald's misguided heart and false-truth mind with such practiced devotion.

And that she could not drive herself to offer the same loyalty to this Elliot gave her every reason to realign her focus, offer this fidgeting, momentary peace out of approbation for her little brother.

But for Elliot--

"I will always have strong words. They will always be firm, and they will always be just as foolish. And no matter how much you wish to hear them, you have not yet earned them. That's--"

She swallowed, her lips twitching over unforgiving things she wanted to say, in lieu of these:

"That's not your fault. This, Gahald, I recognize. And you may credit that understanding to the boy in this room. Because if -- if it weren't for how much he cares for you, I would have never intended to bring all my best here. I would have committed all of that to -- to funerary rites for someone you cannot be, and for someone I valued far more than I will ever value you. I care nothing about your best, as long as you reserve it always for Cherny."

She didn't look at Gahald. Instead, she stared at an indiscernible point on the wall across the room, some knot in the wall, some stain in the wood.

"Finish your soup. You will require it. Because if I am going to learn new skills?" Reality, acceptance, how to look upon a face that was no longer the face she knew. "So will you."

She stood, abruptly, reached for the bowl with her filthy digits, and pushed it back toward Elliot Gahald.

"You start your lessons with me tomorrow. Whether or not you are able to walk."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:42 am

She talked. She stood. She pushed.

He listened.

Finally, after listening in a way Elliot Brown never would, in a way that Gloria Wynsee herself never does, he smiled out his response. "Cherny is a remarkable lad. We are both very lucky, no, very fortunate to have him in our lives. You are trying." He looked at her, not the soup, not the boy, just at her, and he looked at her unwavering, kind, even appreciative. "I value trying so much. I know a word: intent, and I think it is very, very important. Cherny, just a few minutes ago, told me that actions are most important, and he's right, of course, but meaning well, working hard to do well, that is the root of action! And only with those roots can true goodness grow. You have very strong, healthy roots, Miss Wynsee." He managed to twinkle a bit while saying that.

"Over time, I hope to prove my intent with my action. I wish to earn what you say I have not yet earned. I understand, Miss Wynsee. I've had a lot of time to think, right? And I have tried to understand you, with Cherny, just like you've tried to understand me. We're lucky, like I said. Memory is important. Friends are important. Sometimes, not doing something that is easy or good, or even right, because of the memory of something or someone. That's really human, you know? It's loyalty. In the end, any true friend would want you to be your best and healthiest and have good friends nearby. I think, if you had someone that you lost, a good person, you could honor his memory by being open to the goodness and beauty in the world, by trying to find a healthy happiness where you can. I know that was how I would want you to honor me if I died."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Rance » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:34 pm

Still, even as he spoke, even as his eyes drove themselves like brightened nettles into her flesh, she refused to look upon him.

She couldn't, couldn't, as though every tendon in her railed against the very idea of the act. His voice and reason, however gentling, was a foul and sickening reminder. Seeing him, sharing air with him, made the dark hairs on her arm lift to attention and sent static through the column of her spine. Memory is important, he postulated, and it was. Memory and remembrance was as important it was a well-mortared barrier, a great and uncrossable moat that made a girl from Jernoah renounce, with every portion of her, this boy who thought he was the grand herald of Lothaine.

She breathed harder than she realized. Each gasp was a whistling, straining burst of pressure inside her lungs. In her free hand, the sinew-bound lump of papers crumpled against her hip where she squeezed them.

"Your intent is a farce. You know nothing -- nothing -- about my roots, my actions, or my loyalty. You don't understand, no matter how much time you've had to think. Every time I look at your face, I calculate how many punches it would take just to reshape it into something different, into something that -- that didn't make me want to spit on you every time you smiled.

"It disgusts me when you smile. I despise it when you speak. You look like him."

He prattled on. She threw the bulbous fold of parchments and missives on the rumpled bedclothes. That was her punctuation to his diatribe.

"How useful is goodness and beauty when that's all you are, Gahald? Does it satisfy you to be pretty, hollow, and hated?"

Her chin jutted forward, motioning to the letters -- every one that Elliot Brown had written to her.

"If you want my happiness, you'll eat your soup. Then you'll read every word. The next thing you'll ask me will be, Who wrote these letters? and I'll teach you."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:08 am

"It must be a terrible way to live, Miss Wynsee, wanting to hit things, wanting to lash out. Of course I will help you how I can so that you do not have to feel those things all the time." He was poised, or at least that was how he looked, but in truth, he didn't have to be poised. He was genuine instead. He may have been a fiction in his creation, but now that he was real, his well-meaning nature was frankly, the most honest thing in the entire world.

He smiled still. She came at him with the storm and he responded with sunshine. "Cherny says that through action we will inspire. Through action, more than words, old or new or otherwise, we will move people's hearts and make this a better world."

Then he looked to the lad. "Do you see our work as a farce? Do you see you or myself as hollow? Do you think doing this, reading these letters, hearing her story, will help? I will if it will help her. Of course I will, but I trust in your wisdom, my friend. Do you think this the best path forward?"
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Cherny » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:32 am

The squire remains a quiet shadow at the side of the room, carefully apart from their conversation for all that they speak of him. A few more careful stitches, head bowed, to all appearances intent on his work, but he remains attentive nonetheless.

His sister fumes and rages, spits venom and vitriol at the knight she holds to be a mockery of her friend; Cherny, for his part, keeps his peace, though he risks glancing up from under his brows to watch them both, to gauge Sir Elliot's reaction - calm goodwill, as ever - and Gloria's frustration. Uncomfortable, unpleasant, but honest from both sides.

When the knight turns at last to his squire there's a flicker of carefully-veiled reluctance, discomfort at being drawn into a conflict between two who each hold a claim to his loyalty. He considers the youth's questions carefully, gaze turned thoughtfully aside for a moment before he shrugs in reply.

"If we c-can help people then th-that, that's real enough f-for them. The, the g-good in that's real. And, and w-we're real, now, even if we're n-not like we were b-before." He inclines his head to include Gloria in that we; the red-and-gold summer has changed more than just the young man before them. It's perhaps not quite an answer to his question, but hopefully enough to satisfy; as to the second part, the lessons, he offers a careful nod.

"M-my sister has l-lost a friend, sir, and, and grieves f-for him. I th-think she'd like you t-to, to learn about h-him so you c-can understand who h-he was and, and why she m-mourns him."

His fingers move slowly upon his incomplete leatherwork, absently exploring the texture of sturdy stitches and embossed patterns as he glances from one to the other, choosing his words carefully. Choosing honesty, when it might have served his own wants better to discourage the knight, to guide him discreetly away from confronting the existence of this previous Elliot. For Elliot Gahald that honesty is woven into the fabric of his being, an innate and integral part of who he is; for a squire who is not such a paragon, it must be the result of conscious decision.

"It m-might help you as, as well, s-sir. For..." A pause to find the word, the correct word. "...for p-perspective, sir."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Rance » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:31 am

She was always direct, but never as concise as Cherny. She never could be. She protected her words and sometimes obscured them; they were a direct conduit to emotion first, logic secondarily, too-often tangled in translations and inaccuracies.

When Elliot turned to inquire after Cherny's suggestion, she quartered her body away from the knight, giving the squire all of her -- for he deserved her gaze, received her consideration with softer praise and reverence. Her jaw ground, a dimple of flesh bulging and deflating just above the hinge of bone beneath her cheek. She was devouring every instantaneous impulse to lash out at the convalescent knight. Her hands squeezed her skirts, left wrinkles scattered all across the thighs--

--for while she knew words could be just as violent as motion, they would never make Gahald bleed.

And, and w-we're real, now, even if we're n-not like we were b-before.

Her chin lowered. Lost its strength. Her dull eyes thanked the boy for the very thing she'd begged him for weeks ago.

Understanding.

If her anger, before, had been the plumage of a threatened bird, she now lowered those feathers and reduced herself; she bowed her head and swallowed the caustic texture of further insults. "The mere presence of -- of goodness and beauty mean nothing, Elliot Gahald. Your Lady died by ugly means because she believed, believed those were the only features this place and these people needed. She lied to herself, lied to others, twisted happiness into suffocation and -- and oppression.

"This place is not simple. This place does not need saving. Instead, people require the knowledge to save themselves. Promote anything else, you are a despot, you are a threat, and you put my brother in danger through his patient association with your ignorance.

"You read those letters," she said. "You learn, and realize how little Lothaine prepared you."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:54 pm

"It's reassuring," he said with a smile, letting that soup sit, yes, but he would drink it, hot or cold, and he would not complain; so rarely did he complain after all. No, it was reassuring indeed, "that it is not just my words you don't heed, but Cherny's too." And that was all he would say about that. Cherny gave her such reasonable things and Gloria came back, calmer, sure, but still as unyielding.

"Beauty alone is not enough. It has to be fought for. It has to be defended, but first and foremost, right? First and foremost, people have to be safe. People have to be fed. People have to feel secure. You can't have a fineness in life without those things. That's what knighthood is all about. It is a relationship that goes both ways. What I mean to provide is the shield that will allow people the physical reassurance that can let spiritual growth ..." and he had been doing so well, too, but that last word seemed to elude him. He looked to Cherny for a moment, but unless help was immediate, he'd shake his head. "grow. We are real. We will help whoever we can."

As for the rest, his smile wasn't quite bemused; that was not an emotion he was capable of, not really. It was a bit less brighter than usual, forty candles instead of the sun. "Miss Wynsee, I was born here. I spent the first eleven years of my life here. I left home during a famine not unlike this so that my parents would have one less mouth to have to feed. I do not know if the events of Snowstill is in those letters, but ... I suppose I will find out soon, right?" If she looked at it then, she might be able to feel the warmth of those candles, succor and protection against the cold outside. He searched for yet another hesitant moment for the words. When he spoke them, however, they were clear and confident. "The metal that I am was forged and tempered in Lothaine, sure, but that metal? It was mined here in Myrken."
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Cherny » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:02 pm

Opinion sought, opinion offered, and the squire once again withdraws to the conversation's periphery, watching and listening without directly taking part.

For all his earnest optimism, for all his sincerity and honesty, there are things Elliot Gahald cannot do; emotions he cannot feel, thoughts he cannot comprehend, entirely lacking the capacity to do so.

Hollow out a turnip, as they do on the eve of All Saints Day; carve a face into its leathery hide, place a candle inside so that its light can shine forth from eyes and smiling mouth. The jack o'lantern illuminates its surroundings, yes, serves as a light in the darkness. But the turnip itself is hollow, a shell of tough flesh around a flickering wick, an impression of a person.

Rhaena Olwak had hollowed out Elliot Brown; carved for him a beaming smile, set a light of Beauty and Goodness burning in his skull, and the result was Sir Elliot Gahald. He smiles with absolute sincerity; he makes earnest promises of salvation; he vows wholeheartedly to champion that which is good, for the succour of others.

He does not frown. He does not complain. He shows neither anger nor dismay. He acknowledges obstacles only in that they incite him to strive against them. The ugly, the foul and the wicked earn not dislike but pity.

His squire idolises Elliot Gahald in many ways, admiring the purity of his virtue, the unflinching idealism that seeks to do good in the world, to save the downtrodden and wretched. Elliot Brown had sought first and foremost to look after himself - and his friends, to the extent that the doing so allowed him to justify taking what he wanted from others. Elliot Brown had been a bravo, a bully and a thief. Elliot Gahald is a knight, a champion and might, if permitted, even find his way to becoming a hero.

And yet occasionally Cherny wishes there were something more; something beyond what Rhaena had made of him, some thought or opinion or sentiment that arose from something other than the Lady's touch. Some facet of the knight which had not been part of his patron's design.

Here, in this company, that wish is keenly felt. Gloria Wynsee, for all her flaws still the boy's sister by choice; imperfect, sometimes mistaken, other times misguided, but solid, veins filled with the fire of the Glass Sun in her beliefs and actions. Elliot Gahald, the squire's friend and master, relentless in his desire to help, to protect, to save; a paragon who, for all his perfection - or perhaps because of it - somehow lacks that vitality, the flaws and foibles that build up in the process of living.

For months Cherny has seen one or the other, seamstress or knight, but never both; he has been able to adjust his perceptions to each, to consider them distinct from one another, avoiding the direct comparison that is now forced upon him; here, now, they stand in stark contrast and those differences are impossible to deny.

He bows his head over his leatherwork to hide his frown, pretending to concentrate on the back-and-forth dance of needle and thread.

It is painful.
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Rance » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:12 pm

Several seconds passed like ages. Her face was a mill of emotion, tectonic and volatile in one moment and keen to consider the next, scarcely able to shed the spasmodic tides of conflict.

Beauty alone is not enough. It has to be fought for.

He received no words, not yet, for all fires had their threshold, the moment that inevitably turned them from sparks into flame. She denied hers. If there were cracks in her flesh, the warm, soothing sureness of Elliot's light would not have mattered; hers was brighter, hotter, incubated by Sun-heat and sand, and--

Nothing else. The seamstress surged forward. Her heels drummed against the floor. She threw one hand out before her to aid her in force, a counterbalance that would bring even more vicious strength to the fist she cocked up beside her ear. Elliot Gahald sat there like a broken king upon a throne, all bound in beauty and goodness and perfection, a hypocrite, a grinning farce, the unwitting thief of a smile that used to be so genuine, so real, so real.

Her friend.

So she swung.

But the arm only lashed out halfway before, as though she struck an unseen wall, the bandage-wrapped scourge of knuckles and black, Jernoan sweat suddenly stopped in its course. She stood like a shaking totem and said very simply, "No."

He'd said so much and so little; his words were a miasma, a tangled mess plagued with the mud of stupidity and fantasy. The seamstress loomed over him, a behemoth of shadow and mud-dark skin. Her whole body was tensile, the cranequin of a crossbow ready to fire but ultimately refused the pleasure of release.

The girl's glare was burning slag.

"If those things, those values, are what defines knighthood, then what are you, Elliot? For I see you feeding no one, I see you shielding no one. You do nothing. You stagnate here, under your comforting pretenses of goodness and beauty, contributing nothing, offering nothing. All the while, your squire, your only friend, cares for your horse and leathers as -- as if they are his own. But you never use them. Do you?

"You've all the trappings of knighthood, all the proofs and evidence and language, but none of the tangible, necessary function. This is my home, and I contribute to it as such; I do things both loathsome and charitable not only when I can, but every day I breathe, no matter my capability. I try. I live. As does everyone else except you."

Her fingers unwound from their fist, loosening, easing. Her volume was scarcely more than a shivering breath.

"But all you do is perpetuate a comforting, glittering lie. Were you truly a knight, I would bloody your nose, but I find myself hesitating, not out of kindness, but -- but out of clemency. For it is truly cruel to batter a lost little boy, especially when he knows no better."

The words, she knew, would be of no use. They'd plant no seeds, part no seas, etch no imperfections in perfectly-shining glass. She pushed the soup nearer to Elliot Gahald, left the bundle of letters where it lay, and turned. Only when her back was visible and her face was no longer Gahald's to see did the will trickle out of her. She fastened the clasp of her cloak and paused near Cherny.

"It's all I can do," she told her brother, her voice languid and sluggish. "There's -- there's one knight in this room, and his sister, who wishes she'd the same patience as her brother."

She left. Her feet relished the reality and reliability of the floor beneath them.
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Re: Idealism in an Overly Practical World

Postby Glenn » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:59 am

As Gloria Wynsee raged against the light, Elliot Gahald was more than ready to turn the other cheek. The world was a dank, dark place. Fiction had a power there not because you could imagine unicorns or dragons; those things existed in Myrken. It was because you could imagine happy endings and things like true love. Elliot Gahald was a fiction. It meant he could have traits that no actual human being could, or at least very few, and even then less diluted. Great people may have inspired the stories that he was based on, but they were ultimately only human. He was something more.

And as Cherny had discovered, something less as well. It was not just one balance but multiple ones. Some of his brightness had dimmed without Rhaena to constantly tweak and prompt him, to edit however she saw fit. Something more meaningful had flowed into that gap, very much with the squire's help. Moreover, he had his own early memories.The start of his story was human, very human, as human as the first few chapters of Elliot Brown had once been. Finally, it was Cherny's presence himself that brought everything lacking to Elliot Gahald. Together, they balanced one another. Cherny had a stark realism tempered by his good heart and his young age. Life had done it to him but he wasn't yet done in.

Now, the only thing left was action. The knight and squire were a buzzing of potential energy. If it was made real then nothing else would matter. In Myrken, what mattered most at the end of the day was whether your heart still beat and your breath still drew.

Gloria speaks. Gloria leaves. Elliot smiles a patient, comforting smile to Cherny. "If I am well enough to almost get punched by that poor soul, I am well enough to start to make a positive change. My friend. We have much to do."
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