This was a lovely little encounter between @Soramizu
and myself at the Morgun Pond fishing hole. Italics indicate thoughts.
She is a stalwart Yeleni of Atavian heritage. Neither muscle nor fat burdens her with extra weight; her body is sylphlike, structured delicately for flight. Where each foot should be, an extra leg segment stretches outward, terminating in the sprawling claws -- one backwards-facing, three not -- unique to her kin. She grows feathers in spades, a downy coat liberally spattering her hands, shoulders, and body. Full wings sprout from the length of her arms, sporting colours that would put the beasts of tropical Itzatl to shame. The perimeter of her face is tufted more subtly, but gives way to prominent quill-hairs. All other features are distinctly avian, her large, expressive eyes brilliant orange, her hooked nose hard and beak-like. Wherever plumage is absent, the skin is newborn-pink and bears a scaly texture that suggests overexposure to the sun. It smoothens only at the fingers, refining into knife-sharp talons.
(around the neck) : a thirteen-pointed star of the Indorani
(woven into hair) : a pink carnation
(around the neck) : a bronze medallion
(around the neck) : a white crow pendant
(covering the body) : golden chiffon robes with white sparrows
(wrapped repeatedly around the waist) : a slender leather belt
He is a normal Xoran with a slender, gentle body that stands at around five foot six and is covered with scales the color of stagnant swamp water. Eyes the shade of storm-laden clouds survey the world cautiously. Deep jagged scars mark his throat and his forked tongue when it flickers out. His skin is threaded with looping empty whorls were flesh once was, but now only glistening ivory bone remains, especially at the joints and along the spine. His right arm is torn and ruined, covered in interlocked patches of impossibly clear crystal that replace entire sections of skin and bone. An ominous inky mist comprised of pure Shadow continually swirls within the crystalline portions, the veins near them pulsating with a shimmering dark purple hue.
(worn on the back) : a plain grey pack
(worn on the feet) : red-lined black boots
(covering the eyes) : a pair of diffusal goggles
(worn on the hands) : an iron ylem-binding gauntlet
(worn on the legs) : a pair of warm winter trousers
(covering the torso) : a sleek, sable dress shirt
(worn on a finger) : a soft purple obsidian ring
(Worn snugly around the neck) : a golden latticework choker
(around one wrist) : a masculine silver chain
(hanging from the shoulders) : a Shadus' floor-length cloak
(worn on a finger) : a multi-parted ring ensemble
A falling leaf creates ripples in the water, scattering the light of the moon upon the surface.
You say to Soramizu, "Well. Hello there."
Soramizu looks over her shoulder, as if unsure of whom you address. She slips away from her seat and slinks behind, as if, unseen, she might be forgotten.
You say to Soramizu, "Hmm. Did you want this fishing spot, then?"
Mordain pokes his head around the area in question, searching for the errant other.
Soramizu peeks out from behind her hiding spot, only the top of her feathered head and her large, large eyes visible. Her headfeathers sway as she indicates "no," still with body language only.
Mordain taps the claws on his left hand against his cheek and ponders. "Well, would you like one of the fish I've caught? I've plenty more." His expression is gentle, quiet, subdued. "If not, I'd be happy to help you if you need it."
Soramizu blinks slowly, out-of-sync, with one eye lagging a second behind the other. She hops forward on bird-like legs, bouncing once, twice, until she is just a few feet from you. Her head cants. She maintains her silence, but a "yes" seems to be forthcoming.
You utter a deep, rumbling laugh.
You say to Soramizu, "You're welcome to them."
Mordain reaches into his fishing bucket and extracts a large, eighty-five pound catfish. Not wanting to frighten you away, he lays it down on a smooth rock nearby and backs off.
Soramizu nears you, her gaze darting to and fro, on you, then the fish, and on you again. Her talons flash -- and a second later, the fish is rended into fleshy bits, which she pops into her mouth raw.
You chuckle long and heartily.
You say, "These ones are tasty. The fat really melts in your mouth."
Mordain pops a chunk of fish carved up for a meal earlier into his mouth, chewing for only a few seconds before swallowing with a pleased look. "Would you like another one?"
"More," Soramizu demands, the first you've heard from her. Her voice is wispy, susurrant, like water against rock. She's more daring now, flexing her talons with arms outstretched, as if being profoundly annoying would encourage you to be amenable.
You chuckle long and heartily.
You say, "Happily."
Mordain reaches into the bucket and lithely tosses another of the heavy fish onto the rock in front of you, just observing. He makes no sudden movements, no untoward motions - only his tail moves actually, undulating back and forth between the land and water freely in a slow, sinuous pattern.
Perhaps expecting competition, Soramizu lunges for the fish with forceful aggression. "Mine," she informs you matter-of-factly, her side-eye slanting you a cautious reminder to maintain your distance. For all her efforts, she just clutches her reward, pressing it to her chest as one might a newborn child.
Mordain raises his left hand - which seems to be his only functioning side - in a calming motion. "I'm not going to take it from you, don't be concerned." His tone is gentle as he speaks, and he stays almost still beyond that. "You can have as many as you like. I've over a hundred of them."
Mordain raises the fishing bucket with his tail and slides it over towards you with a slow pushing motion. "Here, help yourself," he states, keeping his distance.
Soramizu's lips, before curled over her teeth, return to their normal position. She grapples at the bucket, producing a horrible, metallic *clang* as her talons make contact. Her own fish forgotten in the dirt, she sits there, happily hoarding a better prize. "...Also mine." A pause. Quieter: "...Thank you."
Mordain nods, inclining his head a little farther than normal. "Of course. I wish only to help. You're welcome to all of them - I can always catch more. If you don't mind me asking however, just who are you? I don't think I've seen you around in this area before. Your plumage is quite striking, after all."
Soramizu still looks a little suspicious of you, but is less hostile, more curious now. She loops her arm through the bucket handle -- making it all the more difficult to steal from her -- and reaches out, her talon coming close to nicking your right arm. As you notice her, so too does she seem to pay heed to your appearance. "I'm..." A simple question, apparently, does not a simple answer make. "Soramizu? Nebre'seir." The surname is an afterthought.
You have emoted: Mordain's right side twitches just a bit back, keeping the arm barely out of reach of the encroaching talon. It seems a more unconscious move than anything, as if he's wary of it being touched. "Nebre'seir. I know that surname. It's one of the Houses in Bloodloch, I believe. But... Soramizu? While lovely, I can't say I've heard it myself." He runs his claws down his cheek in thought, then nods to himself. "I'm Mordain."
Strange, mercurial creature that Soramizu is, she looks wounded by your rejection, inadvertent though it may be. She sits back, sets the bucket down behind her, and stares at you with sorrow that could sunder the hardest of hearts. "The house of warriors," she says with a funny little quirk to her mouth. There's some irony there; Soramizu looks about as threatening as a humgii -- voracious, but small, and clearly weak.
Stars glimmer into visibility one by one, filling the night sky with effulgent pinpoints.
Mordain seems quite apologetic at your sorrowful expression, and inclines his head in response. "Sorry about that, I wasn't intending to cause offense. My right arm is simply... very sensitive right now, covered as it is in both crystal and Shadow. It is expanding as well, and I wouldn't want you to possibly become infected by it just because you innocently touched it. I hope you understand." At the reply however, he smiles, gentle jaws filled with razor teeth. "I see. I have no doubt you fit in - no matter one's appearance, looks can be deceiving. You've no doubt earned the name."
Soramizu's throat produces a low rumble, less a growl and more a cat-like purr. She's pleased. Her feathers puff up, lending her the aspect of a feathery ball, though no doubt she intends to convey her magnificence. Given the correct amount of acknowledgment, Soramizu is free to move onto a new subject. "And you," she says, forming a slow, perhaps surprisingly coherent sentence. "You are not from Bloodloch. And I don't think from Enorian. Who are you?" Her head tilts at an exaggerated angle. "And why are you broken?"
Mordain blinks in curious surprise, letting out a quiet hiss of amusement as he watches the puffing of feathers in mild delight from the sight. "No," he responds, "I am not. I am from Spinesreach, to the north. And as for your other question, well, I inadvertently did it to myself, I suppose. A series of experiments backfired rather gruesomely and, well..." Here he gestures at his right arm with his left, "you see the result."
Soramizu's nose suggests distaste, wrinkling as a rabbit's might. It's unclear what part of your statement invokes the reaction. Still, she ponders, reaching out again, although with great care not to brush up against your skin. You can feel the heat of hers, though, near as she comes. "I think the Blood fixes such problems," she hints mildly. Her head tilts the other way now; she's like a child's bobbling toy, endlessly in motion. "I-- we can help. In thanks for..." Her glance indicates the bucket, not forgotten.
Mordain is quiet for a long moment, eyes half-lidded, seeming to almost bask in the pulsing warmth near his cold crystal-coated scales. "The Blood?" he asks, noting the stress on the second word. "...You must mean the term the Consanguine use. You are part of the unliving? You... you don't -feel- like it..." He falls silent again, musing, thinking. "Well, how can it help?"
"I was. Once." Nostalgia. Unmistakable nostalgia. Soramizu, too, tends toward silence now. She watches the water ebb and flow, lapping at the banks with soothing constancy. "Now I am like you, although... I don't know for how long." She's withholding something -- some detail. Her halting voice speaks volumes. Maybe she notices, because she turns the conversation yet again, back to you. "The Blood affords you perfection, whatever that might mean. It makes you *better*. It's like medicine."
Mordain leans back against the nearby rock and lets his tail sink into the cool depths of the pond, feeling the tickle of tiny fish nipping at the end. "Huh. You might have a point there. I've done some research on Consanguine and their regeneration abilities - they seem powerful enough. It could work. But..." Here he shifts his head to look at you, facial expression now a mixture of curiosity and concern, "you seem hesitant. Is something the matter?"
Soramizu has let her guard down, sinking into the inevitable familiarity that comes with deep conversation. She seems to observe this fact and, out of nowhere, stiffens, shoulders squaring some. "It fixes *some* things," she tells you cryptically. "I've gone both ways and... you should want it for yourself. Not because I tell you so." That's all she reveals with your prompting, pulling her arms, her winged arms, around herself to ward off cold.
Mordain removes a silken, crimson ruby-dappled blanket from his plain grey pack and gently tosses it to you using his left hand. "I know the sensation," he murmurs quietly, "being a Xoran and all." After that he leans his scaled head back on the rock and contemplates the answer he's been given, eyes closing momentarily as his body shivers from the sensation of the shadow-locked Orrery passing through him. After a while, he replies. "Yes, you're correct. But it is a deep choice to make. You are aware of this, having gone and come back. But you still seem... I don't know... reserved. I won't ask for your secrets, I'm simply concerned."
Soramizu wraps the blanket so tight around herself that it's like a second skin. Her arms disappear within its folds, her legs, too, enveloped by cloth. As was the case when you first met, only her quilled head is visible, and those odd, round eyes that never seem to travel far from your face. "You are concerned for a stranger," she remarks with confusion. "Strangers -- people -- bring harm." Somewhere, far away, a twig snaps. Her feathers stand stick straight: her fear is palpable, radiating outward like the heat of brushfire.
The deepening night stands strong against the coming day as the moon traces its path across the sky.
Mordain raises his left hand again in another calming gesture, he can literally scent her fear, and it makes him more worried for her. "It's alright - it was just a twig breaking. Likely a forest creature." Settling back against the rock - and moving around to take any weight off his right arm - he looks up at the night sky and actually laughs a little to release the tension, a hissing but not unpleasant sound. "Yes, I know what you mean. I thought the same, still do sometimes. Then I met a couple of people and they helped me realize that not everyone is dangerous. They helped me relax. I can't thank them enough." Then he looks to you, with a face creased by worry even as a gentle smile reveals a few teeth. "I mean, I didn't harm you... right?"
You talk and attempt to defuse the situation, but Soramizu is already shaking, petrified. She's gone by the time you look at her, by the time speak your last sentence, and she leaves behind not just her coveted fish and your blanket, but a ring, fallen from her unsecured pack. Oddly, she remains visible for a long time yet, keeping material, unphased form -- she's heading off a perceived threat, perhaps to protect you.
You tell Soramizu, "If you ever want to come back... I'm here."
You pick up a Year 250 ring.
Carefully slipping the commemorative ring over your finger, you have a short burst of recognition, recalling in an instant the complex history of Aetolia before the memory fades out of existence.I hope she's alright. She was an interesting one, for sure.