Private Tales Forever A Stranger

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Dark clouds, pregnant and ready to burst, had been gathering for days as she travelled ever eastward. That affinity if hers for the weather said it would come, a deluge that might turn the road - barely two ruts cut through a narrow lane between trees - into a mire. The humid air had been oppressive in it's own right for days now.

But now, it rained. Steady drumming sheets of cold water came down, making water run down the remnants of the road, swelling streams and Brooks to the point that they became treacherous to cross. Especially for her.

Dress plastered against a frame that did not quite reach four feet, silver hair dripping a river of water, plastered against her back. The diminutive woman moved along at a steady pace, staff rising and falling, sometimes probing the way ahead to ensure that it was a road and not some washout or puddle half as deep as she was tall.

She tried not to think too much as she went. As was always the case, she had again turned into a wanderer without a home. She had never really belonged anywhere on this prison world, not for anything less fleeting than a handful of years. Always, loss forced her to move on, or the troubles brought about by the peoples of the world. She did not belong here, and history had shown her what causes - hers, theirs, anyone's - brought about.

A shape loomed in the rain. It was late in the day, though it was hard to tell with the rain. Perhaps a few hours before darkness fell, and then she would have to find some makeshift shelter to make the misery less acute. It was not as if the cold or the damp would cause more than discomfort.

The shape resolved itself into a farmhouse. Rain ran off the roof into barrels that overflowed, ran in streams through the yard out in front of the porch. No light poured from the windows, and no smoke marked occupancy, which was strange given that the building seemed to be in good repair, the fences mostly mended. The only thing out of place were four freshly dug graves, the ground still muddy and churned, nothing growing in the soil yet.

The Sidhe stopped and looked at them, a sense of sadness picked up from the surroundings. It was palpable in the air, a mirror to her own loss, greatly numbed by weeks spent traveling.

The woman sighed, and squelched her way across the yard, stepping up to the door. It stood ajar, and the faint smell of sickness wafted from within. The room beyond was dark, and chill.

"Hello?" Her childish voice broke the silence, seemingly overly loud. No answer from within. She caught the whiff of something, something she recognized immediately. The smell of death, buried beneath sickness, and she knew that whoever had dwelt here did no longer.

She stood on the threshhold, a pool of water forming beneath her, and shook her head. Reluctantly, she turned and found a chair on the porch, and sat down heavily in it.

And wept softly.
 
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Rose

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“What are you doing here?” Came an accusing voice. It was young. Not a child but still too high and soft to be fully grown. She had appeared out of thin air— a frail, sickly teen with brown girls and a gaze that bit through you.

“This isn’t your home— You shouldn’t be here. Don’t you know there’s monsters in the area?” While the tone was sharp, a sense of desperate concern rang along side it, softening the abrupt greeting. Her arms crossed, tense and unwelcome. But her gaze widened, imploring the woman to be amendable to her words.
 
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The small woman jumped slightly at the sudden voice, but somehow managed to neither cry out, nor reflexively reach for the chaotic source of magic. It was probably just as well she did not; her recovery from the last time had come far, but she still felt feeble when handling that power.

She wiped the remaining tears from her eyes, and looked the girl over in the fading light. She was apparently young, though most everyone she met was by any kind of standard. "Is this your home, child," she asked in a hoarse voice. She did not think it was, but the unhealthy look about her made it plausible.
 
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Rose

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“No,” Rose confirmed, her stern intonation dispersing by the second. Her arms slowly uncrossed, dropping limply by her side as she took in the woman’s grief.

“...Did you know them?” She whispered, her voice tight with something unidentifiable.

It was clear she didn’t want the answer to be yes— a step taken back to put distance between her and— She swallowed hard.
 
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She shook her head slowly. "No. I am but a wanderer, and saw the place. Looked abandoned, so I thought I would shelter here for the night. But..." She gestured to the graves, and said nothing more. Nothing more need be said.

"Perhaps the barn will do, for the house is....otherwise occupied." The scent of death and rot, the faint sound of flies buzzing in their thousands. The home itself would not prove to be a very welcoming environment.
 
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Rose

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Rose slumped in palpable relief. She was a horrible liar. And an open book to boot.

“Worse than that,” Rose followed up, trying to muster charisma into her voice. “There’s monsters here too. Bad ones. You really shouldn’t stay.” She wiped the heavy rain drops from her eyes, unhindered by the shower that poured down on her.

“Town’s that way.” You know. If you walked enough.

She pointed to the road leading out— barely more than a centuries old foot path. But it was clear all the same.
 
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Seska merely gestured to the heavens, the rain pouring down in ever increasing amounts. "Firstly, I am tired. I have been on foot all day. Secondly...this will only get worse, and i do not think either of us want to be caught out in it."

She could feel the storm overhead, feel it like a second heart. Fire and wind were her natural elemental affinities, and she had a peculiar understanding of weather too. This storm had just begun, and it would be hours before it ended.

"Monsters do not scare me, young lady," she replied. The ghostly image of a baby-faced demon, swathed in red mist. Piercing light, darkness. "Pneumonia does, though, as it should you." A moment. "My name is Seska," she offered.
 
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Rose

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“Rose,” she offered back, hesitating for a moment more before relenting and stepping under the shelter of the porch with Seska. She barely pressed close enough in to avoid the rain, not shivering against the damp chill the evening air brought wiping around them.

She stood pressed up against the railing, visually uncomfortable and refusing to sit.

“You should you know. Be afraid of monsters. They kill people.”
 
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The woman said nothing for a moment. With a grimace, she tapped into the wellspring of power contained within every mote of her being. She blanched as the sweet power flooded her, both for the exquisite wonder of it and for the stab of pain it brought.

Wordless, she raised a hand, and a tiny dancing flame sprung into being. "I have my own protection, Rose," she replied finally.
 
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Rose

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Rose shied back, her eyes flashing wide with fear. “O-oh,” she gasped, her knuckles going white as she clutched at the porch rails. She looked moments away from flipping over backwards on it and running away. She remained frozen in place regardless, like she had forgotten she had limbs still attached to her she could command.

“That’s- that’s nifty.”
 
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The Sidhe looked at the girl, and then sighed, allowing the flame to vanish, releasing the source and letting it drain - regretfully - from her body. She felt hollow without it, but it was a familiar feeling.

Although her eyes were still red from shed tears, she tried to smile at the girl. It felt as hollow as she did, a facsimile of a smile at best. Her heart yet ached, after all.

"I will not hurt you, Rose," she said, trying to put warmth in her words. "There is no need to shy away from me. I will not harm you, but I will protect you from the beasts out in the kight," she added. It was not true warmth but at least she tried.
 
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Rose

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Rose didn’t relax, her chest remaining tight and voice breathless as she uttered. “It’s you that needs protecting.” While it regestered as a threat, the words were feeble, her chest fluttering in quick breaths.

There was a tense silence from her for a moment before she opened up just a smudging, some curiosity loosening her tension. “Do you... have milk?”
 
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She ignored the threat for what it was; empty or true, capable or not, the Sidhe did not care. She felt that all the care had been wrung from her, and allowed to be poured onto the ground, to evaporate away and vanish into the soil. That it was her soul that had been treated so.

What, then, could this girl do that could possibly top that?

She blinked, and looked sideways through red rimmed eyes at her. "Pardon? Milk? Where...where would I come up with that?" She was genuinely perplexed by the question. She owned no cattle - owned virtually nothing, truth to tell - so unless Rose meant something very different from what the ancient sorceress assumed....

Puzzling.
 
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Rose

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“I think from a cow ... usually.”

Rose relaxed further, no longer looking like she was about to up and flip right over that railing as neither teeth nor magic was bared.

She eased herself down on a step, her toes poking out of the unrecognizable mess that use to be a silk slipper. She didn’t seem to notice her own ragged state, for there was no other way to describe what months out in the elements did to ones belongings. Instead Rose curled her knees up to her chest and peered curiously up at the stranger.

“Why are you sad?”
 
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"I am sorry, Rose, but I do not own a cow. Or much of anything." Anymore. It stung, tore at a ravaged heart, to admit it. And if that question, which had little to do with the pain she felt, the next struck straight at the core.

She sat, eyes closed and silent for a moment. Finally she stirred. "I...lost a friend, recently. A very dear friend." Emotion was there, raw, in her voice. She did not add that it was by her own hand, which only made it even worse for her.
 
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Rose

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“Oh,” she breathed, her voice barely a whisper.

“I’m sorry.” And she was, truly. If saying sorry to this woman’s grief could mask all the hurt she herself had unleashed onto the world ... well, she had truly tried to resolve it with those two words.

She sat quietly besides the woman, solemn and not disrupting her moment of grief. If Seska kept her eyes closed long enough, she could even believe herself to be alone.

Rose didn’t even breath, her own pain coiling tight inside her chest.