• Graded • A spark of kinship

Part I

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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• Graded • A spark of kinship

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:46 pm

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Finn O'Connor :: 20th Zi'da, 717
The shoreline near Foster’s Landing had no golden beaches, sported no palm trees and was not lined with azure water. There were no frollicking beach-goers, no laughing and playing children splashing in the water, no blue sky and no bright, golden sunrays. Since Finn had only ever seen the Meridian sea, he assumed all beaches and oceans were colored the same murky cyan, and that the ashen clouds overhead were part and parcel of the beach experience. It didn’t matter to him that half the shore was littered with sharp, broken seashells that could cut into your feet, nor did he mind the cold gusts of wind that sand dusted his skin. He pitied Zipper for not being able to hear the wind’s playful voice, nor feel how the earth shifted and recoiled from their footsteps, nor hear the luring calls of the sea. What he wouldn’t give to submerge himself in the embrace of the ocean, to be floating in water, well-removed from and deaf to his daily concerns, but he resisted the urge.

“So what’s the deal with you and Robin?” Finn asked with a light snicker. The sight of Robin longingly waiting for Zipper outside her office wasn’t one he’d soon forget.

“There’s no deal.” Zipper said, so calmly, so reasonably, so almost nicely. She stared out into the waves in the closest he had ever seen her come to serene comfort… albeit barely. She made even relaxing look stressful, he thought, as if it was almost a chore to just kick back and take in the winter breeze. “Just dressing up for work.”

“He’d combed his hair,” Finn pointed out, as he wondered what kind of work Robin could possibly be doing near midnight. “He never combs his hair.” He added as he kept in lockstep with Zipper. Just three trials ago he had been at her throat, and now they were casually strolling down the beach, breathing the fresh and free air. He wondered if it was a family trait, to be violently angry with each other one day and be at relative peace the next.

“It was an important work event.”

“I think he fancies you,” Finn stated with all the blunt grace of a child-turning-teenager. “Come to think of it, I think you like him too. It’s nothing to be ashamed about.” He knew it was supposed to be the other way around, that she was supposed to tell him about love, tell him what girls liked, offer advice on how to interpret the slap to his face Molly had given him, but it had never been that way. Oh she had magic and wit and knew a fair bit about getting things her way, but when it came to love, she was just clueless.

“He’s certainly an improvement. Are you developing an acquired taste?” he asked as he jabbed her side with his elbow.
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A spark of kinship

Postby Zipper » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:50 pm

“Improvement from what?” she said. Three sentences without a single swear out of her infamously accursed mouth. She really did seem relaxed.

Finn rolled his eyes. “From your previous boyfriends, dummy.”

“The ones that don’t exist. Co-dependence is a sucker’s game.”

Finn halted abruptly, a whimsical look crossed his face as he stared at Zipper with incredulity. “Where do you come up with this stuff? I mean, what part of your brain works so hard that it makes you think and talk like that?”

“You have it too, Fi.” She didn’t stop for him, but her pace slowed. “It’s the part of your brain that weeps everytime you dodge responsibility, neglect preparation, and get caught for some trivial crime any simpleton could have gotten away with. It’s the huge unused chunk of yours up there that processes logic.”

Finn merely offered a shrug in reply. It was almost theatrical how she went off, literally went off, on a monologue, leaving him in the comfortable embrace of the sand slipping between his toes. He caught up with her anyway. “Have you kissed yet?”

“No.”

He laughed. “So who was it?”

“Mr. Barnelby.”

A disgusted look came over his face. “Ew, really?” He didn’t even put it beyond her. Ends justifying the means was how she ticked, so if she had at one point believed that wooing Mr. Barnelby served some greater goal… he preferred not to linger on the thought. “Well, Robin is an improvement. Except,” He let his voice trail off for a moment, “I don’t think he’s quite as ambitious as you. That might become problematic once you’re married.”

“That’s not a problem. I plan to slit his throat on our wedding night and abscond with his meagre life savings.”

“Ab-what?”

“Abscond.”

Abscond,” Finn chewed on the word. “Did Barnelby teach you that?” He waved his hand dismissively before she could reply. “Doubt it’s worth the effort. I wouldn’t know if he has any life savings at all. Seems to live by the day, if you ask me.”

“We’ll never know.” she said, still looking out at the sea. “But since you’re such an expert on my non-existent love life, tell me what you know about these equally non-existent boyfriends.”

A smile parted his lips. He certainly had become an expert on understanding her language, where no meant yes and yes meant no. “What was his name again…? Marty? I don’t think he was so bad really, just trying very hard to be cool. I think he actually really liked you, until he came back with a black eye and never bragged about all the girls he’d kissed since. Elgar just wanted to steal your thunder, I think. Move up the pecking order, you know? He even asked me what you liked. I said I didn’t know, but he insisted so I made up some things. Gave me a nel for it. Then there was Nate- Nathaniel? He was, your words, a cunt.”
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A spark of kinship

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:50 pm

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Finn O'Connor :: 20th Zi'da, 717
“Elgar, Elgar, Elgar.” She rolled the name back and forth on her tongue, as if trying to smooth out some long-forgotten memory from it. Then, inexplicably, she smiled. “Heh. No, I’m not a big fan of cotton candy, unfortunately.”

“Lucky him,” Finn laughed as he gave her a little push before preemptively jumping out of reach. “But poor Robin.” His eyes grew more serious then, and he slowed his pace a little. He kept several secrets from Zipper: the spark, the orb, his determination to find his mother… but there was one secret he simply had to get off his chest.

“I-" He started. He was determined to tell her, yet it had been far easier to make that decision than to actually do it. "I rather like Molly,” he admitted. “But you already know that. You knew from the start. That's how I know there’s something brewing between you and Robin. No need to keep it bottled up. It’ll drive you mad if you do. I know it does.” His light eyes found hers. “You’re the only person I’ve-”

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” she interrupted, and though her tone kept even, Finn could sense that slightest little quiver behind the annoyed confidence that always came naturally to her. The slight slowing of her pace was telling: she wanted his ear for this. “I’m not sure why I’m doing it.”

The wind picked up around them, sharing Finn’s curiosity at what could only be interpreted as a confession. “I think it’s supposed to be like that.” He closed the distance between them as they marched further and further along the beach. The Landing was but a speck in the distance now amid vast stretches of sand and sea. For a while they moved along in silence as Finn mulled over her words in his head. Then he stopped again, as if struck by some divine epiphany. “Not everything has a reason. I know you like to think it does but, sometimes, things just happen.”

They’d wandered far enough now and his legs were starting to hurt. His attention shifted to the earth and the ever shifting sands, inviting him to sit down. He obliged and drew his knees up to his chest. She followed his lead for once - but only the halting. Fiona Zippomaria O’Connor refused to lay her delicate butt onto the sands below. Instead, she stood in front of him, staring down at him.

“Nonsense, there’s always a reason.” she insisted. She may not have noticed, but she was starting to pace a little. “Attraction does not exist in a vacuum.”

There it was again. Her need to lecture, to make profound statements with pretty words. Some time ago it had been an effective tactic, back when slack-jawed little Finn still looked up to her and her immense vocabulary. Now, he recognized her one liners for what they were: attempts to shut down any retort. But he sensed something else in her too, apart from the animosity between her and the elements. Was it doubt? Fear perhaps? At the very least she didn’t seem as certain as usual.

“There’s always a reason? You sound like a follower,” he huffed, before lowering his gaze to the dust again. “It doesn’t really matter, does it?” He spoke softly as he doodled a figure in the sand. “If we know the reason, then that's the end of that, and if we don’t know the reason, there might as well be no reason at all.” He set his chin in the cup of his hands and stared out into the horizon, wondering if she too felt that ache in her heart. “So what about Robin d’you like?” he asked unabashedly.

She moved. “Can you keep a secret?”

Part of him wished he could tell her just how many he kept and that if he possessed any talents at all, keeping secrets was certainly among them. But he knew that saying such a thing would amount to even more scrutiny over the minutiae of his life, and so he simply nodded in return. “I won’t tell anyone. I swear.”
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A spark of kinship

Postby Zipper » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:53 pm

“I’m not entirely sure how to say this.” she said, sitting down next to him. Sitting. On the sand. The queen hath fallen from the heavens to the crudest earth. “Can we pretend he looks good and move on from this?”

Finn smiled. “He’s not hard on the eyes, if that’s what you mean, but that’s only part of liking someone. If I had to guess,” he threw a hesitant look her away, as if asking for permission to continue, “I’d say… I’d say you like him because you’re so different, and that’s why he likes you too. Well…” he cocked his head, “not ‘like’ perhaps. More like curious. You’re both just too stubborn to admit.”

“If this entire attraction is built on a curiosity, then I should just end it right now.”

“What do you mean?”

“It means there’s a foundation of shit every relationship is built on: common interests, shared goals, a certain way of looking at life. I had someone once and… I think it worked a little too well. I think we both concluded legacy was… more than 3 kids and something to come home to. He saw freedom in power -real power- and I think I saw something similar enough to it for it to click. I think we owed it to each other not to get in the way. But with Robin… there’s nothing. He doesn’t want anything. He doesn’t hope for anything. He’s guideless and without direction-”

Finn listened with rapt attention, and something welled up in the pit of his stomach. He scooted over to her side, hesitated for a trill, and then wrapped his arm around her shoulder and patted her ever so gently. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. He knew she was right, and it was a crushing realization. Here was a man she, at the very least, liked and who hadn’t fled in terror at her difficult personality, someone who even seemed to return a semblance of affection for her, but it was a man without aspirations. A dayfly. “If it doesn’t work out,” he breathed, “know that I’m still here.”

“Do you know,” He wasn’t sure she heard him. Maybe she just filtered out everything nice everyone said all the time. “How we came to the conclusion the Gods hate us?”

“Cause nothing ever goes our way…?”

“Because they cursed us with the inefficiency of children.”

His arm dropped back at his side. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means we were designed to be their personal little joke,” she said. “No loving god would have made us as we are: so many useless parts; our core functionalities so limited and efficiency-challenged and so prone to breakdown and disease and infection and so much of living revolves around maintenance, about taking in stuff so we can rebuild like it means something - and then we still die anyway. We’re difficult to repair, a single injury threatens every single thing we’ve worked to up to that point in our lives, and for how worthless we are, we’re so exorbitantly expensive -and gross- to replace.”

She looked at him. She almost seemed sad.

“And then we have children. The initial phase of construction puts the mother in a state of incapacitation and reduced activity for a good quarter of the gestation period while the parasite inside grows. Once it explodes from the womb, the creature fails to function. The average first phase of Transmutation takes upwards of a break. Primary assembly takes 2. For a human? Primary assembly takes 7. Fuckin’. Arcs. Upwards of 3000 trials where the parasite is little more than what it is: a parasite, sucking in attention and time and food and energy and contributing nothing but noise and worry and shit, shit, shit, shit. Physical maturity takes… 15 arcs, maybe. And then there’s education, upbringing, blah blah blah… and the very idea that these 15 arcs were wasted on a sub-par model, that all the effort injected into it is just… not. It will never be better than its potential. It's a flawed thing that can’t be salvaged - and that’s okay when it's Transmutation. A break I can bite. But children? No. And the terrifying idea that that’s the life the average etzori is looking forward to is the single most horrifying thing I have ever heard of - and I’ve been attacked by emean beasts before.”
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A spark of kinship

Postby Finnegan O'Connor » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:56 pm

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Finn O'Connor :: 20th Zi'da, 717
Finn could almost sense the air boil around her in rage. The earth tensed underneath her, disliking her outlook on the world as much as he did. Or was there more to it? It was hard to say. The voice of the earth didn’t speak clearly to him yet.

He shifted his attention back to Zipper and her furrowed features as she spoke, spat, and seethed against all the injustice in the world. He opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it again and answered with the simplest gesture. His head leaned on her shoulder as he closed his eyes and sighed, almost relieved. “I hope I’m not just a parasite to you,” he mumbled. “You’re not wrong but,” his eyes fluttered open for a moment. “There’s this too.” There was no golden sunshine pouring over the horizon, there was no calm breeze. It was cold and dark outside and twilight would soon dawn upon them and yet, Finn did not let the same darkness consume his thoughts. For a while he was silent, simply existing. “So you don’t want children?” He sounded almost disappointed.

“One was enough.”

Zipper was Zipper was Zipper and even though his heart dropped all the way down to his stomach, he managed to let out a laugh. “Am I that bad?” Then he considered he perhaps didn’t want to hear the answer and stirred at her side, but his head remained firmly planted on her shoulder. “Whatever. You’re still my sister and I won’t give up on you now.”

“Give up on what?’ she said, honestly confused.

“I still think there’s a chance you’ll remember how to be nice one day,” he answered with a shrug. “I mean, I’ve thought about it. You couldn’t possibly have always been like this. If you were, I wouldn’t have survived. You took care of me when I was only a babe, and even if you hated me then, or hate me now, I’m only alive because of you, and that’s why I won’t give up on you. Ever. I just don’t… I just don’t understand why you changed, or when it happened.”

There was silence for so long that he wondered whether she had fallen asleep. The fact that she hadn’t butted him off her shoulder was a strong sign that she wasn’t angry or pissed or annoyed, but he could never tell with her. Not anymore.
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A spark of kinship

Postby Zipper » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:57 pm

“People stopped being people,” she finally said, and she never felt more distant than she did in this very moment. He couldn’t see her face and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. “Or maybe they never were to begin with. They’re not… they’re not real. I can’t see them anymore. They’re every child that grew up to become a flawed prototype multiplied by a thousand. All I ever wanted to do in life was to try a way to make things work and… I can’t. I can’t work against a tide of shit. I can’t make sense of it. I’m so tired, Fi. I’m so fuckin’ tired.”

“It’s OK,” he lied. That was what people were supposed to say, weren’t they? His arm found its way to her shoulder again, but this time there was no careful patting, only a firm squeeze. “I understand. You just gotta…” he reached out to the wind, beckoned it to quiet down for a moment and dance a more soothing dance. “...breathe, and stop working so hard. You can’t fix everything Fiona, it’s not all your responsibility, not all your fault, and the world’s far too large anyway. I just want you to be happy.” He gave her another squeeze before nestling his head more comfortably on her shoulder. He didn’t see her face as he blinked lazily at her, but he could tell she was on the verge. “It’s okay to-.”

“Do you want magic?”

He froze. Undoubtedly she’d feel every fibre of his being tensing at the question, as though he’d been struck by lightning. “What? Are you serious?” He lifted his head from her shoulder and gawked.

“You’re blind and you’re going through your life blind.” she said. Her voice was quiet now, quieter than he had ever heard her. Almost a mumble. He had to strain to pick up every single word. “Maybe it’s time. Maybe you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. Maybe I just can’t protect you for much longer. Maybe you’ll have a better shot living free from all this than me.”

“Fiona-”

“Do you want it?”
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A spark of kinship

Postby Muse » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:28 am

Your review is ready!


Deep thoughts with Zip and Finn. Wow, I just kept waiting for something to set on fire in this thread, but ... it didn't. Just a little sea breeze and feels instead.



Finn
Points : XP:
15 | These points can be used for magic.

Fame:
N/A
Loot : N/A
Injuries + Overstepping : N/A
Knowledge : Skill Knowledge:
Acting: Appearing unfazed by insensitive remarks
Detection: Catching a lie
Deception: Avoiding any suspicion of keeping secrets
Endurance: A long walk along the beach
Defiance: Calming the wind to soothe zipper
Defiance: The voice of the earth is not as clear as the sea’s
Discipline: Listening sincerely and with rapt attention
Caregiving: Giving Zipper some much-needed affection

Other Knowledge:
Zipper: Clueless about matters of love
Zipper: Thinks children are parasites
Zipper: Tired and vulnerable



Zipper
Points : XP:
15 | These points cannot be used for magic.

Fame:
N/A
Loot : N/A
Injuries + Overstepping : N/A
Knowledge : Skill Knowledge:
Deception: Going off on a tangent to divert attention
Deception: Covering the truth behind insults
Detection: Detecting tension
Endurance: The long walk
Intelligence: Maneuvering the target to tell you what they know
Linguistics: Tailoring your vocabulary for children
Linguistics: Using obscure words
Linguistics: Choosing the right words to make a harsh point

Other Knowledge:
N/A


If you've got a question or concern or if I've missed anything, don't hesitate to PM me!

Now that your review is complete,
don’t forget go back to your review post here and drop this image in!

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