The Urge to Wander

Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:19 am

“Rumor, indeed,” he murmurs in agreement, giving the sliver freely to her curious fingers. She may discover in time its fragrant oils calm the tumult in her stomach.

In the seconds that follow, as his hand lowers to his side again, the architect meditates on what she has told him. Though the contents of his thoughts may remain invisible behind the structure of his quiet expression, synthesis is clear to be seen in the hold of his mouth and both the shape and personality of his eyes.

“In light of circumstance, the breadth of your concern is justifiable and understandable, as is your demand for reassurance. You deserve to have it, if it can be had.” The change in her is not lost on him and it will be these signals of mood the man observes while his mind assembles frameworks and populates them with detail. “As do the people of Myrken Wood.

“Tell me of the encounter in Razasan,” he asks, framing the sand-blasted black steel of his buckle with both hands, curling fingers in around belt-leather; all to support the weight of arms and lend his hands some measure of occupation. Were they holding this conversation back at Darkenhold, the man might be spinning pencils or folding coins overtop knuckles or wandering a room to accomplish this, solely to encourage his reasoning. The lesser belt with its buckle offset from center, no doubt a carrier for weapons unseen beneath the imposing cut of his long-coat, is excluded from his grasp. “Glenn’s ‘compatriot,’ as you describe her, who is she? You must have gone to his residence to establish answers, no? How did this evolve into violent confrontation?

“And tell me, who asserts you are a stumbling block to progress and prosperity?” This, because the man needed to know, to give names to the otherwise — not entirely — faceless force set against her efforts to acquire answers and the reassurance, the support, she desires for herself and the rest of Myrken’s inhabitants alike. Were they many or few? Were they limited to certain associations or generalized in the population? The response she gives will lend critical detail to his analysis.
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:28 am

And tell me, who asserts you are a stumbling block to progress and prosperity?

"Glenn," she said, the name as thin as beaten tin on her tongue. "Always Glenn. And he will as soon, it seems, abandon friendship — and even loyalty — to satisfy his secrets and machinations."

Gloria measured her exasperation like a mason the width of a brick: she carried the string to the edge, but never overshot. Oh, there were certainly other choice words that Gloria Wynsee could have affixed at the end of that sentence, but she refrained. Sylvius would not appreciate them, she knew; they would as quickly shatter her credibility should she descend any further into blind contempt. So she gnawed upon the soothing sliver, a hard and brutish chewing that yearned to milk the secrets of its mollifying magic. "As for her..."

She took plodding care with the recollection. Squinting into the farmhouse shadows. Piecing volumes together.

"I came across her quite by accident. I wanted to get closer to him; I believed I could be a better comrade, or a confidant. I leave it to no imagination: I missed my home here, and he reminded me of it. I encountered her on the stoop, and we—" her hand circled in the air, trying to grasp words, "—collided, of sorts: she became ill on me — on my favorite dress! — and my desire to understand and know who she was and aid her conflicted with her need to flee.

"She — she tried to darken my mind with that power of hers. Of theirs."

Gloria touched her brow, her bonnet, as if to confirm that her head was indeed still her own.

"She nicked an exposed nail in her flight, and became sick by the iron. I promise you, Proctor, I aimed to work in her favor. I brought her to a residence I frequented, where a healer I knew lived in the service of unsavory company. I admit my fault: I didn't understand the nature of her illness, and feared I'd killed Glenn's friend, and perhaps the healer could help her—" her words became quicker, more feverish, a tumult of explanation, "—and I would come to understand why Glenn secreted her about like some precious gem. And we could begin the matters anew, on a steadier ground..."

"But she resisted the aid. With great force."

Now, she stared at his belt-buckle, for it was a shining anchor to her gaze. The sliver of wood ceased its clicking-clacking about between tongue and teeth.

"She sought to turn their ire against me, even as I fought to — to diminish the violence. Even as I fought on her behalf, she enraged them to me, as if I'd been the cause of the disturbance. Proctor, believe this," said Gloria, as she turned back to the fire and spurned a blackened log to revive the flame anew. "I could have forgiven her efforts to misdirect and flee as the natural product of fright. But she possessed motive. She wanted to see me dead. She tried."

The woman gazed into the fire.

"She knew my name. She spoke it. I'd never given it to her. She knew me, Sylvius. She knew me."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:43 am

The architect listens, observing her amid the rhythms of her retelling; each change of expression, each variation in tone and inflection.

For some moments after her conclusion, and after she has turned back to the fire to revive its burn, the man remains unmoving, facing the place where she once stood. Thought also remains, as tangible a feature as his other more physical aspects. The discreet knit on his brow, the story of weariness scribed into the structure of mouth and eyes, the bone-deep discipline of the body despite, not once permitting the appearance of that weariness into shoulders or spine; a discipline that occurs without intention, so thoroughly ingrained is it.

“She knew your name and seemed to have an agenda regarding you prior to your first meeting?” A pause. The man’s gaze is threaded through the broken aperture of a window, observing the look of night beyond those few glass shards clinging to their frame and putty, and yet he cannot help but study this portal itself. Something so forlorn exists there in its neglected structure, in the way sadness will lend specific qualities to a person’s eyes. A troublesome sight for the man, whose profession — or one among many — is the conception and construction of human habitations and related utilities, each carefully designed to uplift the spirit. Degradation of this sort weighs on him.

Hands loosen from the width of his belt and come to fold behind his low spine, an change that gathers the weathered but expensive material of his coat and pins it back against his sides. “When was the last you spoke to Glenn directly, by voice or by letter? Have you discussed this with him?”
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:08 am

"By letter? Months ago. I have made it clear that I demand answers and clarification. My body — my life — was and likely is still at risk. Yet," she said, "he wanders and discredits, he misdirects and abjures my worry. When last I spoke to him, right after the incident, I sought him out for — for guidance and understanding.

"He cared nothing for my state or my safety, as if my fear was but inconvenience to his expectations of his future. Sylvius, a woman is long dead — I watched her throat open along the blade — because of this faery, this creature, and Glenn cared nothing for the act, had no concern for the deed. As if—" her face twisted like a knot; her eyes danced left, right, left, left, seeing silhouettes move through slow motions of memory and violence standing between them. "As if it was an acceptable sacrifice to further his intentions or aims. I watched a woman die and he did not care; I watched the life leak out of — of her eyes, and I had her blood on me.

"He didn't care," she said, but realized only too late that her voice had crescendoed to a near-shriek, and all the composure of her body fell away, until her arms were like loose flaps of laundry hanging from a line. "He didn't care. Multiple times, I have sacrificed my body—" Up came the trembling hand and its missing ring-digit, like phantom proof, "—to preserve him, or to protect his interests. I have been loyal, almost always; I have given to him of me.

"Where was his loyalty to me, when I required it the most?"

Then, and only then, did she seem to remember that Sylvius Duquesne existed. Not that she had wanted to be blind to him, but her mind had demanded blackness and darkness. To say it all. To drag it out from the recesses of herself. He had been looking out the window, and she wondered if succor lay beyond. So she too looked. Her boots shuffled stiffly across the battered floorboards. She stood beside him, staring through the window, wondering how it had been broken in the first place. If by stone, or by wind, or some unruly mob...

"I killed a faery for him, Proctor. Long ago. To keep him safe. And now I fear I am marked for death for it."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:48 am

Poised on the clean break of glass in that window, firelight is snared and glistens in reflection. And in some edge of this particular broken pane, in that reflection, the man can observe his friend and student’s despair, her confusion. Affronts are stacked one upon the other — he imagines the building of a tell, wherein former ruin lays foundation for the structure above, rising ever upward over time. Standing at its base, one may look up and perceive the height, the number of generations, the sheer mass of matter needed to raise it.

The architect stands thus, feeling dwarfed by a long unfortunate history, a mountain of occupation rising up beneath Gloria and Glenn’s past interactions. But he does not survey its entirety, this mountain, cannot possibly undertake every slope, every precipice — his mind searches only for the clearest, most reasonable path to its summit, where one day he might join them and say in earnest, The time has come - to come down from here.

“I must repair this house. Give it to a family in need of home,” he murmurs to her, when she draws near to lend her gaze also to the forlorn window and its view of a night-dark landscape. There is a calm shadow at work on his face. When he speaks next, it proves he had not been looking for distraction elsewhere, that he had heard her every word — the window had been but a lens, focusing his thoughts.

“A great deal has occurred between you, more than I expected.” He looks at her; the fire is both kind and unkind to his aspect here. Shadows deepen the noble lines of his features, a scholar’s look, and yet at once fire and shadow offer him an appearance of age beyond his years. A trick of the light, perhaps — or a glimpse into the measure of his experience.

“I hear you,” he says, green eyes darkened by the increase of his pupils; the man searches her face with deep focus. “What you have told me, what you have said without speaking — I hear you, Gloria.

“And, like you, I do not understand. I am not equipped with the tools I need to understand, not yet. I promise you, however, we will make sense of it. And you and Glenn, you will reach some consensus, some kind of amends one day. For what I see and what I hear is — this has gone on long enough.”

Spoken with an edge, a very subtle but serious edge. It is not meant for her, nor for Glenn were he to hear — it is an artifact of his own history, a former statesman’s own burdensome past. Adjusting his stance that he might face her more fully, the architect’s voice is together firm and gentle. “We unite, together on equal footing if we are to survive the changes that come. We are small and vulnerable and the world intends always to crush our hope and our effort. This division,” he loosens a hand from behind him to offer an open-handed gesture, encompassing the crushing tides shared equally between she and Glenn, “cannot continue if we intend to recover Myrken Wood and make her one day stronger.

"In saying this, I do not make light of what you have told me, nor am I advising you to forgive Glenn or to forget what he has done; this would be unwise counsel. No, there are consequences in the world — consequences follow actions and we all must bear up under them. What you feel, what you have experienced, what you have sacrificed, what you have done, these do not simply fade away with a word or wave of the hand — they must be repaired piece by piece, day by day, whether you are given answers that satisfy you or not. And there is possibility you do not receive answers that extinguish these fires. There are times when resolution comes not from another but from within one's own self. I ask only that you prepare and reserve yourself for the day when Glenn gives explanation and rationale and then decide, once you have these, how you will proceed in your future interaction with him. For now, we must wait a little while yet to ask him what must be asked."

Both hands are loosened from behind him now, that he might reach for her hand, missing its digit. Eyes lower to study this hand held upon his own; his thumb passes lightly across its back above the knuckles. “You are among the most loyal, most dedicated and giving souls I have known, and these are virtues in you, virtues I admire. But these virtues are finite, limited in their measure within each of us. Gloria, you can no longer afford to sacrifice yourself so wholly for the sake of others. Do you understand?” And his expression has changed to one of imploring and his darkened eyes shoulder the weight of the soul behind them. “You can be loyal and serve and give of yourself, but you must be discerning — you must carefully choose what you give and to whom, that you do not heap burden on your shoulders or hollow yourself on the inside. Choose the sensible path through the midst of this. Do not make my mistakes; do not find yourself, at my age, with nothing to show for your sacrifice but wounds and scars of body and mind, and a daughter who may never forgive you for being absent even when you are near her. This does not need to be the description of your life.”

The breath he takes after is silent and fragile as glass in his mouth. The breadth of his hands easily encloses hers, covering it as if in protection of her remaining fingers. “This potential mark of death you fear,” he pauses, cultivating a moment’s particular silence, “have attempts been made on your life, attempts you suspect are connected? or is your fear for now a fear of possibility?”
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:21 am

"And at what cost, Proctor," she asked, "do I heed my discretion yet again, to continuously provide for Glenn Burnie what he has always effortlessly possessed — a voice? It has all gone on long enough. This meddling, this fidgeting, this restlessness of his. What of Myrken Wood is there to recover? It stands, still stands, has stood; it has suffered no egregious threats as of late, and functions as a town may. Children do not starve. The crops, however boring they may be, bloom as necessary. It operates—" her hand came up, motioning toward a distant horizon where thatched rooves serrated an unseen hillock, "—without even the oversight of men or women who speak on its behalf.

"No one has poisoned its wells. No blood runs in the streets. No one has moved against it. It does not suffer, and yet, because one man's vision cannot stand idly by and be satisfied by anything but the most grandiose and unnecessary machinations, we must consider it? What law has been written in the books, that Glenn Burnie — former Governor and known manipulator — must be given a podium, and we must turn our ears to him?

"I have no need to prove my patience, especially to him, and refuse to coddle his endeavors solely because it seems polite to listen. The most dangerous thing about Glenn Burnie is that he believes his schemes innately deserve the consideration of those around him, and we have done nothing but confirm it."

Then she was done. And the words were, too. And all she was left with was a hard-beating heart and lungs filled with hot and burning air. And Duquesne's hand, she only realized then, lay upon hers, cool of leather yet warm of flesh. His palm possessed weight, but a simultaneous lightness: the deliberate touch of the statuesque, a thing marble-carved, and yet gentle enough to forge wondrous visions from stone and wood by but the thought poured out from measurements and quill. She knew it was harsh, this spoken testament, knew it stung, knew it raged. Felt the bile simmer and crackle on her tongue.

So she squeezed his hand from within. Powerful. To convey a message that her rusty tongue, in that moment, could not: I need you very much.

Finally, she saw the decrepit house again. Tried to see it, as she lifted her head, with eyes like his. To envision its possibilities, its past, its present. She could have easily looked upon a dress and seen the wholeness in its holes, the stitching in its tears. But the home? This Aithne home, but a vessel for the printing press in its dusty basement, had always been to her an abandoned once-dream, a skeleton, a cruel afterthought of the lives once lived in it. He saw stained glass, and she, broken glass.

Gloria Wynsee did not like broken glass.

"I am sorry," said she, "that you must return to this. It doesn't matter. Here, right now, it — it simply doesn't matter, and I do not wish to taint time with someone I value and cherish by speaking this way. It's poor talk, and I ought to know better. You hear me, and — and I trust you in a way I trust only precious few others, Sylvius. I understand. I do understand. There is so much to protect. I just—" But sometimes, words failed; sometimes, she didn't have them. "I'm trying."

Rarely did Gloria Wynsee choose to turn herself away from a question. But his final one never found its answer. Not right then.

"If you repair it, let me help. Will you? We can repair it together. For someone. For her."

It had grown close to midnight. The fire had almost died. The wine had lost its foam.

"She will forgive you. Do you believe it?"
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:39 pm

If the man experiences agitation of any sort, it does not rouse itself visibly in his demeanor. Not yet. “I am not asking you to prove yourself, or limit yourself for him, to do anything at all for him, especially not to be silent. This is not some – special allowance Glenn receives above all others, nor should he demand or receive special allowance — he has much to atone for, as do we all. It is a rule we must all follow. A great society is possible only when its individuals live and treat others with honor.

“If you desire to be heard, you must also hear. This is unspoken human law — to be heard, you must listen; to speak, you must also let others speak.

“I am telling you to — ” here, a first thread of frustration. The man must pause and draw his breath with care. Gloria was already acquainted with his calmer tempers, but those days were already old and he had no desire to resurrect them. And she is not the child she had been when first he took her as his student. This was not a lesson. If it was not a lesson, it was a lecture. To a friend. He shakes his head somewhat, for his own dense foolishness.

“To listen… and to find the power in it.” The words taper away. He does not sound convinced, suddenly tired of hearing his own voice speak. Too many words, far too many words. Had this not brought about calamity for others in the past? Had he not stood in this very structure years ago and unloaded volumes on her? When would he learn.

He grips her hand, a firm pressure between the both of his but gentle also, wholly sincere in its reciprocation of her own tightened grip — and then carefully, so carefully releases her after in the midst of his turning toward the hearth. Fingers pull claw-like across the top of his head, disrupting the tousled structure of black hair there. Firelight wanders into the volumes of his coat-skirts and is lost, escaping only in the trim between arms and waist, and when hems fail to dust the floor, caught here and there on the balls of each spur.

Boots cause quiet, heavy sound until their soles meet the flagstones of the hearth. The man stops here in consideration — stands still in observation of the fire’s dwindled condition for long moments, until he slowly leans his left shoulder into one of the hearth’s masonry pillars, arms folding against his chest, eyes cast low under a head forward bent. But he never stops listening in the midst of all of this. Hears every word, every inflection.

“It is all we can do; try. It is all we do.” Continuously, endlessly, day after day, moment after moment. The sheer labor of it, this life, looms at him like a glass wave and he straightens, lifts and shakes his head to banish it; the effort does not work. Each day I wake and know less than I did the day before. "The watermark of humanity, to always strive for betterment despite failure," he says, voice steady and solemn. “Never mind what I have said — and I do not insist on this because I seek to punish you. Believe me this is not so. I have done too much and spoken far, far too much: it does not help, only lends more struggle."

He looks at her for some moments, with not even a ghost of harshness in his face; there is only increasing humility. The structure of his mouth firms like a wince. "I do not desire to suppress you, yet this is what I have done. I ask your forgiveness, Gloria. You are a most intelligent and capable woman. You do not need another man telling you what you must think and do."

She had mentioned the repair of this place. Green eyes rise and wander aimlessly there among their cobwebbed shadows, considering what she said and what she had just asked. Some of this he can answer, some he does not. “Then we repair this place together, you and I, and it will be good work. Good for us both." To build and rebuild the structures of the living and the dead, this is what the man does best. Wordless work, with fine results that lend more aid than his words; his reams and reams of words. "For a family — she would want this house for a family."

A long pause. "The printing press will need a new home. To where should we move it? You need somewhere clean and bright to work." The edges of his mouth stir for a smile. "How are you to compose meaningful lines in a place like this?"
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:58 am

"Your kindness, Sylvius—"

How peculiar it felt, to use his name. To speak it aloud, as if shattering every unspoken rule of comportment or propriety. Reaching across whole realms to say this. He stood before the hearth, half-disheveled, half-professorial, cast both in perpetual motion and constant stillness by the light. "Your kindness to me, since the day we met," said Gloria, "supersedes all else. You speak to me, whether with five words or — or five thousand, and I choose to listen. Not because you demand it of me or expect it of me, or that you have ever once believed yourself in a position to dictate. No—" said she.

Whether or not he saw it, she did. Transparent, he was, like cloudy glass. Self-admonishing, with the burden of lead in his voice and the distance in his gaze. Known to her because doubt was an offal she too often waded through.

Doubt. In all things. Hesitations so palpable, so real, they demanded she avoided even gaze in a mirror, for fear she be too quickly disgusted by the face staring back.

"Do you know how many gifts you allowed me to find in myself? What you have never done, Sylvius Duquesne, is force my hand. You've never once condescended to me or diminished my intelligence. And when I have not been at my finest, you've moved to me and with me and — and given credence to my storms, only so that I may better appreciate the silence in myself when they've passed, and feel clearer in their wake.

"Unlike Glenn, you did not presume you had something to teach me. You did not choose me to learn. You allowed me to choose you to teach. The morsels of myself that I love, and that I refuse to compromise, exist because of you. I am still alive because of it. Because of you. When you speak, ser, I listen. Whether today," came it all to a close, "or tomorrow, when I've become reacquainted with sense."

He'd in him a vision for this place. For when he spoke of family, she wondered if his Older Self, his Future Self, would ever look back upon these graying floorboards and mossy beams and broken glass and see the two of them standing there, looking forward into the yet-unrealized, and painting possibilities with their eyes. She squinted, trying to turn the slashes of faint firelight into ghosts of years to come. "We need somewhere clean and bright to work. I shall be damned to put ink to page alone, and absolutely demand long and sleepless hours of labor in good company. Would you believe—"

On the ground, between her boots, she saw a little tongue of porcelain. Edge of a shattered teacup. Skirts whispered as she squatted, took it up, and held it to him. A white-and-cornflower token of the moment. Behind it, the young woman smiled, all broken teeth and ease.

"I never came here with any knowledge of what I would put to page, Proctor. I half-hoped it might come to me on the trek. I needed first the clarity of the place. The control of it. The sense of it. But now I know..."

The watermark of humanity, to always strive for betterment despite failure.

Her chin wrinkled as her lower lip tucked beneath the top, and she tilted her head. Watching him. Happily.

"Let us compose it before we print it. A note to your daughter, from the father who loves her very much, and who has so much to confide in her."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:10 am

She finds this fragment, this broken shard separated from its vessel long ago, and offers it to him. A token.

The man lifts a hand from the fold of arms to accept the shard from her fingers and turns it over among his, studying its composition and glaze. A rough clay with an appearance like toasted brown bread tells him it is local, but the glaze is something he has not seen yet. His thumb passes lightly over the flower pattern, imagining the strokes of the brush that dabbed this decorative color over the white glaze. Tiny thread-like cracks in the latter describe the passage of time and exposure to weather.

He felt like a door had swung back hard into its jamb a moment ago.

He felt — like an old man beside the vital energies of Gloria’s youth; her passion for this place, her instinct to rise up and protect; her need to make a difference for others, for herself, for Soodsy in a far off place.

And he felt a great need to shave his face. Adeline would tease him, call him a wolf or a bear, or worse, an old goat — not understanding her father was nowhere close to being old.

“Your sentiment is too kind,” he murmurs to her, rotating the shard among fingertips, staring down at it with thoughtfulness and reserve. “You have raised yourself up by resolve, determination and heart, despite or because of the challenges of this life. You do not back down but persist. It does a teacher good to see it.”

He looks at her here. Features are drawn with gravity, solemn and tired; the world is on him again. He studies her expression, the easy smile she had crafted a moment ago, the happy observation she lends him now as she describes a note that might be written.

The edge of his mouth stirs lightly and his gaze returns to the shard, watching the way the dwindled fire paints its reddish glow on this paler surface. With care, he presses it into the inner chest pocket of his coat for safekeeping. “I fear I do not have proper words for her tonight,” he says, leaning to shove the wood in the fire with the square toe of his boot; sparks and blue and orange flames leap up, and sap pops twice. “But we are to have breakfast before her lessons in the morning. Will you sup with us? She is eager to meet you.

"Then perhaps we prepare a place for the press and have it moved there. Aithne's mansion, perhaps. The place could use a touch of life."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:28 am

It was on the Red Caps that she'd first encountered storms

—and not storms of the sort that blew sand or nuggets of glass about, to blind the eye or confound sense; no, the kind of storms that shattered boats across shore-rocks, bent frame-steel into ribbons, picked men and women up and hung them from tatters in the trees, like the world itself had decided right then, in swaths of darkness and flashes of light, to disintegrate itself.

But she had grown very used to them. Fascinated by them, really. Curious, still now as a woman, how dollops of ice and fat jewels of rain could coalesce and fall from the blackness in the sky. Could feel them coming in her brown bones from what seemed like a hundred leagues away, and breathe in the heaviness in the air...

Sylvius Duquesne possessed storms. They were inside him, tucked away, nestled in the spleen or liver, perhaps, or hidden away in the confines of his stomach and spine. Awakened in vulnerable moments, given no credence through speech, but clouding the stiffness of his shoulders and forearms (this, she saw — and watched — with a pit-fighter's gaze) and passing like the traffic of a well-rutted road behind his eyes.

You cannot force a man to speak, Glour'eya. And you cannot force him to like himself. You cannot force him toward comfort or beg him to abandon the affection he might possess for his crueler voice in his head.

"It is only kindness by chance," Gloria said, rescuing another slice of broken cup from the floor. A brother to his own. Clutched like a gem in her fist. "It is, first, a truth, Proctor. I believe those words. In time I hope you do, too.

"As for supping—" the strange word and all its hard angles made her nearly laugh, "—I would sooner die than not be present, but especially for Menna Adeline. She'll have to suffer my unpleasant face, but I will bring my finest self. I've not had good company for a meal in some time. I'll try my best to use my fingers only part of the time, and to put my skirts to use as a napkin only when you aren't looking.

"Will you return tonight, or spend the rest of this one here, cultivating your dust? Do you wish I should leave," she asked, an honest curiosity, "or would you rather the company? And—"

Silence. For some time. Squeezing the porcelain shard. Because how do you ask a man to open his wounds further to you?

"Does she know," she asked, "what you discovered in your time away? Is it something she might come to possess, by virtue of blood?"
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:09 am

Cultivating your dust, she says.

The imagery these words lend him, or inspire in the mind, carry him vividly down a corridor of memory —

Down among the ancient stone halls of his sand-buried ancestral home, a stronghold perched on and delved into a ridge of rock protruding from the earth and sand-sea like the spine of a primordial giant.

Down a wide foot-worn stair by torchlight, beneath a corbelled ceiling one must tread, and bravely, courageously endure the judgment of warrior-kings and warrior-queens flanking the stairwell; their hierarchic size reducing one to the smallest of statures.

Their high-relief eyes catching shadow and light and seeming to follow —

Down, down into the stomach of the earth, through rock spewed forth in ages before human beings ever became a thought or trouble in the natural world.

Into the sacred necropolis via one behemoth archway guarded by megalithic sculptures, two stylized sand wolves standing on hind paws, clashing maws and claws in combat high above.

Into a massive hypostyle hall housing an ocean of royal tombs — the dynasties of ten thousand years and more. His ancestors, his family, grandmothers, grandfathers, a mother, a wife and child all cultivating their dust in whole darkness.

… I believe those words. In time I hope you do, too.

What command a man must have to collect expression out from features and posture, whisking it away like a duster in cobwebbed corners until nothing of it visibly remains — He accomplishes it with a near-silent inhalation and a leaning-away from the hearth’s masonry and the dusting off of a lord’s poise. The architect felt deeply, carried a vastness of emotion at all times, and yet — and yet — was not proficient in his understanding of any it. Disliked its ebbs and tides and endless subjectivity. The solution had always been a reacquaintance with dignity and reserve and rationality; simplification through structure.

Yet when she tells him skirts will be used in a napkin’s stead only when he does not see, his solemn mask will fracture in degrees — humor emerges on his patrician features like sunrays passing between a break in storm clouds.

“Good,” he replies, taking a moment to straighten his coat and offer each sleeve a ritual tug from their cuff-buttons. “And good company it shall be.”

The man leans to gather his hat and gloves from the floor, dusting the former lightly. “I will return there tonight. There are accounts to settle and letters to be sent early.”

But her questions break the silence that had begun to accumulate and he wondered if he had heard the building up of Gloria’s thoughts in those moments. Her inquiry confirms the suspicion. The architect gazes at her with quiet but alert eyes, searching her features and searching his own mind at once. A cautious breath follows.

“I have not told her yet. I wanted to — protect her from it a while longer.” The edge of his mouth lifts in humor. “Rather, I offer myself time to gather answers for the battery of questions she will have.” A pause; there is some seriousness in his voice here. “Thankfully she is not subject by blood inheritance, nor will she be by acquisition. It is not the life I desire for her.”

Fingerpads trace the edge of his hat-brim lightly, searching those minute fibers and all the evidence of travel they have captured. “What of you, will you stay here tonight or ride with? The company would welcome, of course you are free to do as you wish."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:04 am

I wanted to — protect her from it a while longer.

Enough to make her smile, its immediate correction—

Rather, I offer myself time to gather answers for the battery of questions she will have.

"She is your girl," Gloria said, and laughed — honest, that laugh, even if it was barking-loud, and graceless, a belly-thing rather than a throat-thing, born too quickly to be caught in the throes of propriety. "She is going to ask you until she is blue in her face. You brought this on yourself: you could have been a man of cloth, or a common soul of simpler curiosities. But as a questioner and philosopher at heart, it is only fate that you should have created one.

"If I were you, I'd be afraid. I would be very afraid. Of course, with your permission, I intend to help her learn to speak with her fists, if such an education suits her. I believe all women ought to be beings of letters and knuckles, and I doubt Ariane would disagree."

—realizing, suddenly, that she was full of questions she'd never sought to ask: of Adeline, Adeline, Adeline; questions even the warhammer that was Gloria Wynsee would never dare express. Not because she did not trust Sylvius Duquesne, but because she did not trust herself to cease her curiosity before it shattered his comforts, or broached the citadel of secrets every soul happened to harbor.

As he busied himself with the preparations to leave — the picking, dusting, beating of clothes — she took stock of her own belongings strewn upon the floor. She'd not yet put ink to press. "I — I have no words to write tonight, either. They vanished, and good that they have; I would far rather speak a million words with you than put a single one to the page. And while I would love to regale you with — with confirmations of my independence and my comfort in the company of myself..." She took her lantern up in the hook of a finger and lashed it to a thong hanging from her sash. "I fear if I let you out of my sight so quickly, you'll prove yourself a dream.

"I cannot suffer loneliness. Not now. And — and Adeline at least deserves that I bathe the smoke and summer from my skin."

A boot kicked old ash onto the fire, daring to smother it, kill it.

"That just gives you time to tell me where you went off to, just a moment ago."
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:29 pm

“Fate,” he murmurs, humor rising to haunt the word as he considers what she has said. In a matter of hours, Gloria would find her statements to be fact indeed.

Adeline, a smaller female image of him but in possession of traits she inherits from her mother. A formidable woman in the making.

“We shall have to ask her if the prospect suits her.” This as he lifts the hat onto his head, offering it that distinctive tilt he wears, forward and to the right. Always. Letters and knuckles. Far, far from here, the man’s own father will turn in his tomb over this. “I cannot imagine she will demur.” A smile at last.

Gloves are drawn on, coat sleeves adjusted down around them, and the architect leans to collect his pack, catching it by its strap and heaving this over his head. The weight is positioned cross-wise on his back, while a stabilizing strap is drawn under his right arm and hooked to the strap cutting a hard line across his chest. The hilt of the black sword with its basket of two stylized wolves lurks over his left shoulder, for the man was left-hand dominant and the positioning ensured quick access to the weapon. He pauses in the midst of this to look at her as she describes her preferences and her fear that he might evaporate like a dream, a mist. He says nothing of it, not yet. Not yet.

The man looks down as he adjusts a smoothly tapered cuff, one not folded back on its seam as was the usual style, but instead a clean set of lines beginning at the shoulder and ending in a fitted flare over the top of his hand. The coat harbors the damages of a man’s less than gentlemanly pursuits over time; sun-bleaching, sand-blasting, tiny rifts undoubtedly caused by blades, places where impossible heat has not simply scorched the dark fabric but neutralized its dye completely, and a healthy weight of travel dust throughout. A lowered chin will mask the upper half of his face via hat brim as he lends himself to consideration in these moments. The fire sighs and thumps in its embers as she kicks ash over to smother its remnants, and the man listens and muses and works to develop some structure in his thoughts formerly sundered.

“Perhaps you will find that your ideas for that composition emerge more fluidly, once we have moved the press and have organized ourselves accordingly.” A professor had once told him that there were times when one must put on one’s pursuits in order to set the stage for them; meaning, one needed to look the part. And he had taken this concept and toyed with it, directing it into his working environments rather into appearance, as his teacher had indicated. In Gloria’s case, he suspected a clean and orderly and thought-provoking workspace would do just this, provoke her thoughts in the directions she needed them to move. Words would come easily then.

Now with the fire’s dull glow extinguished, it is only Gloria’s lamp that brightens the room, making long shadows of them both in this space. The architect takes a moment to search her features, investing himself in the structure of her eyes especially, because there much expression usually gathered. Eyes, mouths, hands, windows into behavior. “I suspect you have been alone enough in your life,” this, spoken quietly to match the dim interior, “and there is no need for it now, not when you have family and home here to banish a sense of loneliness.”

Family and home, he says, and does not speak them casually.

She wondered of where he went a moment ago and this tempts him into silence, the edges of his mouth moving lightly in expression. She was either perceptive of him or his lapse into memory had been that noticeable; both were true, no doubt. The man crafts a sound in his throat, a musing sound as he shifts a shoulder to adjust the weight of his pack, then turns to wander nearer the door. “If you truly want to know, I will tell you on the ride.”
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Rance » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:11 am

What did he see in her face?

On the surface, the damage of strife — a hawkish nose, its bridge a jagged slant; the abuse of the elements — scars from a childhood in a violent desert, with the winds having scraped endless paths across her cheeks and brow; the curse of a body's defenses — pockmarks and divots in her cheeks, where pores had too long suffered heat and dirt. But it was, as always, a canopy for the frantic army of thoughts underneath. Sometimes her eyes betrayed her, flipping and flitting left, right, left and right, like two snapping swords; sometimes the lines on her forehead came together and formed black canyons.

Hers had never been a face worthy of a bluff. Too much impulse comprised. Too much authenticity to the immediacy of her own perceptions.

Instinct.

So when she hid her face at his soft words — family, home — behind the black-smeared wings of her bonnet, it was because...

...because of those words, she found herself almost light-of-head, dizzied.

The world hid itself behind stinging mist.

The two wolves that had drew her longest attention, given life with relief in the topography of his blade-cup, a curiosity over the facts of their etching and the methods of their engraving that helped center her suddenly clamoring, gasping brain, how did they imbue the metal with them, do you clean them to save them from rust, he considers me family, do the beasts adorn his crest, has anyone fallen under that blade, would he be ashamed of the things i have done, would he call me family if he knew, does he believe in me, he must, and should he...?

A thumb scraped moisture from beneath her nose, then dashed it upon her skirt-hip.

Back straight. Chin up. Eighteen hands of height. Firm boots. Stone.

"Breakfast with Adeline first," she said, slowly, very slowly, as if anchoring herself on those words. "Then lessons. Then we discuss the press."

She rubbed her chin. Wondering, if by some miracle, she would grow that same grayness, and be just like him.

"I want to know. Everything," she said beyond the door, "you wish to tell me—"

A word unspoken dangled on the end. Carried on a breath. Then killed off, murdered before it became truth and life, before she embarrassed herself.

Being here with him was enough.
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Re: The Urge to Wander

Postby Duquesne » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:52 am

Among the surface scars, the damage of strife and desert and curse, and the sometimes oscillation of her eyes, he would see the presence of a gentler vein than she herself might admit she owns.

Within the clamor of her thoughts — no doubt he knows the scissoring of many questions there, courtesy of expressive eyes; a familiar thing — he also finds a quick mind hungry for answers.

The stinging mist he will know, too, and not by eyesight.

A word unspoken hangs by threads and by breath, smothered before it can reach the sensitive aperture of his hearing and he will wonder.

The porch-boards must protest under their passing boots, being especially weathered here; south-facing, this weary structure has endured the ruthless face of their sun year-in and year-out. And yet it seems the strain of wood under him rouses up into his own shadow, into the tow of heavy coat-skirts and motion, lost in among them. No sound but what hems will make, whispering down old steps.

From the lamp on her belt, dim light is a lancing business, sweeping its beams by the particular cadence of her walk. And the man, having a special fondness for the behavior of light itself, studies its effects on the yard as they go for their mounts.

Amid the blackish wolf-forms jutting behind his left shoulder, now mere silhouettes in the night, tiny green gleams respond to her lamp-light; with her every step and his, the wolves’ eyes pass in and out of shadow, flashing as beacons across millennia of the man’s bloodline.

The mare, Dilys, is lead out from the farmhouse’s rear yard where she had taken her rest from a long march, and in all the darkness of night, despite the low beams of Gloria’s lamp, not one surface of her tack will throw light back. It is only her large eyes and the clop of hooves on grass and her great shadow that betray her here.

“In the r’Chyr’laud, there is a saying we keep,” he says, folding a stirrup iron over the seat that he might tighten the girth with its long billets; gloved fingers work deftly in the dark and eyes need no light to see. “Gwedi treiglo pob tref, Teg edrych tuag adref.

“When far away in distant lands we roam,
How pleasant ‘tis to turn our footsteps home.”

He pulls the stirrup iron down, but does not use it when mounting; his swinging up brings with it a fan of heavy coat-skirts. The easing creak of saddle under him is quiet and distinct. “What you said, ‘cultivating your dust,’ it had me in mind of our city of the dead. All my mother’s people are entombed there. That is where I went — to remind myself that struggle is the privilege of the living.”
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