The peace that formerly reigned in Terra Nova has eroded, now little more than a memory. War ravages the continent. Disputes divide kingdoms; ideals divide families. The quest for power consumes absolutely and indiscriminately. None are immune to its allure.
Who will rise and who will fall? Only time—and ambition—will tell.
New gifted family of Lorendale added to the Families of Importance, the Decarlos!
At the beginning of February 2022 the site will experience a 5 year time jump! The IC year will jump from 822 to 827! This gives us about 8 months to prepare our characters for that jump. We plan to host very intentional planning sessions to help everyone get their plots and characters ready for this! As of this moment, one thing you should all start considering is making sure the threads your characters are in are furthering your character's stories.
It had been two days of a hush that was too eerily quiet for so many people, packed so closely in a defensive formation, so unlike the widespread merriment of a conclave. Even with the injury done to their numbers, it felt like the most Dresmondi ever gathered together, to Etta. Anger and exhaustion and grief made everything larger, everyone more sensitive, and the ghosts of the fallen still lingered in the empty spaces where breathing bodies should have been.
Etta wasn’t certain what to expect by the time she ventured above ground again, but she was almost more upset by how serene the plains looked. Almost as if nothing had happened.
Sage got to work at once, clawing up the soil and causing rows of plants to spring forth, herbs for pain and fever, flowers to cover the smells of life and death, fruit to nourish the injured and weary.
Etta had spent her morning doing the rounds among the wagons, changing bandages and giving out more medicine...by the time the sun was at its height in the vast and open sky, she felt ready to take a dose of her own sedative tea and forcibly knock herself out for several hours.
She settled for lying flat on her back in a patch of long grass, frowning up at the sun as it warmed her face.
Nessa was no stranger to sunny naps. She was a lioness, after all. Sleeping in the sun was Egan’s preferred activity, and Nessa often joined him for a mid-day snooze. So it didn’t surprise Nessa to see someone doing just that, especially after the events of the previous few days. In fact, she was a little jealous of someone who could sleep so soundly.
She also caught sight of the cougar not too far away, which pleased her. Nessa felt an unspoken connection to others who had cat dyrs, often counting them as friends before she'd even met them. There was something there, even if it was only in Nessa’s head. Of course, imagined familiarity or not, Nessa was never one to interrupt a nap, so she would've passed Etta by if it weren't for the grumble that alerted her to the woman’s consciousness. Nessa laughed, stopping just above the sleeping woman, but careful not to cast a shadow on her. She would never deny someone the sun if she could help it.
“Is the shit because you woke up or because you fell asleep in the first place?” She asked, hands landing on her hips as she asked.
Laughter...there was something Etta found herself surprised to hear—and a little relieved, somehow. It had begun to feel like such things would never find their way back into everyday life, or wouldn’t for a long time. It warmed her more than the sun, for a moment, and she glanced up at the woman who stood above her, a pretty face and a cloud of soft golden curls.
“...both?” she ventured, before she sat up with a sigh. “I shouldn’t have...there’s so much that needs doing.” But sleeping meant forgetting and letting go, even if only for a little while. A little while was good; Etta didn’t want to forget, entirely, ever. But remembering all the time was more than anyone could bear.
The other woman seemed vaguely familiar, and Etta was certain she must have seen her around, before...probably at conclaves, and now...whatever this gathering was.
Nessa laughed again; she was an easy laugher, often quick to forget her woes in favor of a giggle. And there were woes to be had by all of Dresmond this morning. There were dead children to bury, injured to heal. But Nessa had already cried her tears, already nestled herself into the arms of her friends. She had moved on to action now. Even if that action was just a friendly chat.
“I’m Rashai,” she said, plopping herself down on the ground cross-legged, as if she’d been invited. Somewhere behind her a lumbering lion did the same, finding a patchy bit of grass he could call his own. Nessa’s thoughts bubbled to him constantly and he responded with soothing acknowledgements. This was their way.
“My name’s Nessa,” she added. She took in the woman in front of her for a moment. “I missed the fight,” she said, almost sadly. It wasn’t that Nessa had a particular love for battle - in fact she’d never seen one - but Nessa hated bullies. Coheed were the biggest bullies in all of Terra Nova. She would relish the chance to watch Egan burn them alive. “I came with the group led by Arlo,” she added. They had tried to make it in time but, alas. They had come up short.
Etta nodded at Rashai, though she didn't have many friends in that caravan. There were Dijila she knew from her childhood, and now many Kushti, but there were few she spent much time with among the Adoi and Rashai. Even during Conclaves, she mostly kept to herself, watching over Arlo's children worriedly. Not that she'd ever refused to help anybody who rang the brass bell fixed to the back of her wagon, to alert her to an emergency when she might be working inside or out nearby harvesting her plants.
"There wasn't much of a battle to miss," said Etta, though of course she knew that everyone had fought heart and soul against the attack from Coheed. They had just been so unprepared, so many of them untrained for that kind of altercation. But she didn't want to dwell on that, anymore, and looked up when Arlo's name was mentioned.
"You know Arlo?" Of course everyone knew Arlo, as he was the driver of one of the mother caravans, and there were plenty of people who knew Arlo, too. Nessa was beautiful, so unless she had someone in particularly special in her life, or preferred women, Etta wouldn't have been surprised if she knew Arlo in every possible sense of the term. "He's my brother." It was easier, then, to smile, as she said it. "I'm glad you all did come."
That had been part of the torture that lingered after Coheed was gone...wondering if other bands of raiders had visited the same horror on the other caravans, whether it was such a coordinated attack that all of Dresmond teetered on the brink of being wiped out, or crippled beyond recovery. Just seeing more and more of them safe and sound was a relief beyond expressing.
Nessa tilted her head. Not much of a battle? That’s not what she’d heard. And at the sheer number of dead, Nessa would consider it quite a battle indeed. But Nessa wouldn’t question her. She knew she had no right to tell the survivors what they had or had not witnessed.
Instead, she was happy to move on to happier subjects, such as the woman’s brother.
“Everyone knows Arlo,” said Nessa with another tinkling laugh. “He’s your brother?” Her eyes widened at the thought. She knew Arlo had an extensive family - at least several children, that much she knew - but she’d never actually met them before. She looked for clues of their relation in Etta’s face. For some reason, Nessa was expecting her to be more blonde.
“Arlo and I have started traveling together, since Rashai and Dijilia joined routes,” she explained. If there was an implication there, Nessa didn’t mind it.
Etta felt the scrutiny and heard the note of surprise in Nessa's voice when she told her Arlo was her brother, but she didn't mind it, at all. There was a lot to like about Arlo, and she could hope that people saw a little of the same in her, but she was under no illusions that she had anything like his boisterous charisma. Truth be told, she didn't want as much attention as Arlo got, as himself, as a driver...that just wasn't who she was. But they shared enough by blood and bond to get along, despite their differences in personality (and appearance,) and Etta didn't wonder that people who seemed so opposite often lived more peaceably together than those who were perhaps too similar.
Her slow smile tugged steadily at one corner of her mouth in the way it usually did, before it spread to the rest of her lips. Somehow it was easier, when she was hearing Nessa laugh so freely. It felt like a sign--that Dresmond could be stronger than what had been done to them. She could see why Arlo would like having Nessa around...apart from the obvious attractions.
"I'm glad to know he's in good company," she said, truly thankful that Arlo would have someone who was such a warm presence to be with him in what were going to be difficult times ahead. "What do you usually do, among the Rashai?"
Nessa brightened a little at the question. She liked talking about her profession, if it could be called that. Nessa got mostly by on her charm and the fact that Dresmondi lived in a communal environment more than by bartering or trading. Oddly, it seemed she never wanted for food or company.
“I make jewelry,” she said brightly. She sat forward a little, pulling back one side of her curls. “Look,” she said, pointing to a dangling earring on her left ear. She had a few earrings there - she was always one to adorn as much of her body as possible - but she pointed to one in particular, a little silver wire that was bent over and over on itself until it formed the tiny figure of a lion not unlike the one who slept nearby.
Etta leaned closer to look, and gasped a little with surprise and admiration at the clever working of the dainty little piece.
“Oh that’s lovely!” she said, with honest enthusiasm. “And that’s for...” she jerked her chin a little in the direction of the kitty with the fluffy mane, grinning. “Did it take you a long time? It’s so delicate...”
She admired artists a great deal. She appreciated the practical, and saw herself as a part of that faction of dealers in everyday necessities, but she knew it was the beautiful things that elevated living above the drudgery of mere survival or existence. Her own talents worked in flesh and bone, and the results were never as pretty as a body unmarked by illness or injury...but here was something that didn’t merely try to imperfectly mend what was broken, but created something wonderful and new.
“This one did,” she said, letting her curls fall back into place, framing her face like they always did, in a halo of blonde. “I made it a long time ago, after I got Egan,” she continued, a small sad smile coming to her lips. “The woman who taught me to do it - she had just died, so it took me longer than usual. Grief, I guess,” she shrugged as if she wasn’t sure, when she knew perfectly well that was what it was.
It wasn’t a story Nessa told often to anyone, Arlo included. Her mentor was the one person for whom Nessa truly regretted their death. She had no family, but that single loss was the one thing that made her understand the pain some of her fellow Dresmondi were feeling today, coming to find their loved ones’ lives suddenly finished.
“I could make one for you if you like,” she offered brightly. She loved commissioned pieces; she spent the most time on a piece when she was creating specifically for someone. “I could do your dyr or…” she suddenly got a playful look in her eye. “The dyr of someone special?” That was undeniably Nessa’s favorite. Lovers were her favorite inspiration.
Nessa’s loss had been long ago, and so Etta did not make the leap to offering condolences or asking any more questions, but she did reach over to lightly touch Nessa’s hand, an unspoken acknowledgement of the importance of what was lost. The piece was a beautiful tribute, even more beautiful now that Etta knew the effort that had gone into it—it was more than craft, then. It was love.
Etta brightened at the idea of having something like it, for herself, but she hesitated as she had just never quite gotten into the habit of wearing pretty things. She spent so much of her time either grubbing around in dirt and moss, or tending people, it was easier to be practical.
“I don’t know,” she said, flushing at the mention of someone special. “I mean, not that I wouldn’t love it, I just...don’t dress up, much. But I would like one, I think...maybe of Sage?” she said, looking back at the cougar, who lifted her head at hearing her name and began to pad over to the two women.
Nessa looked up at the touch of Etta’s skin to hers, lips parting slightly in surprise. But her expression quickly changed, turning into one of genuine gratitude. It had been a long time, but it didn’t make Etta’s response any less kind. She decided instantly she liked the woman.
She caught the little flush at the mention of a special something. Her chin raised, eyes taking on a suspicious squint. There was something there, whether or not Etta was willing to admit it. Nessa, herself, had a great many flames burning at once and had never felt the need to hide them. But Nessa was not most people. So she let it go.
“Sage would look lovely on a bracelet, I think,” she said, taking a hold of her ankles and rocking back on her rear to think. “It doesn’t have to be anything fancy,” she assured Etta, biting down on her lip as if the piece was already forming in her head. “If that isn’t your thing.”
"A bracelet..." Etta thought about it for a moment, and then she smiled. Yes, she often had her eyes on her own hands as she went about her work...seeing such a pretty thing, with a reminder of Sage, would definitely make her feel better, she thought. She wasn't in the habit of wearing much finery while she was working, but a bracelet could easily be removed if necessary, and maybe...maybe it was time for a change. "Yes, that sounds perfect."
At Sage's approach, Etta let out a low chuckle as the cougar bumped her head against hers affectionately.
"I'm sure you could still make it very elegant, even if it's not too complicated," she said to Nessa. "I can leave the fancier pieces to fancier people."
“A bracelet it is, then,” said Nessa with a small half-smile, watching the familiar head-bump of the big cat with a knowing smile. It was so familiar to her, having gotten that same bump from Egan more times than she could count. She reached back to give his stomach an affectionate scratch, to which he let out a grumble of pleasure.
“Absolutely,” she said. She’d always found fanciness to be overrated and elegance to be underrated. Perhaps that was unexpected for a woman who adorned herself so freely with charms and bangles. But Nessa, for all her faults, understood that her way of conspicuousness was not everyone’s flavor. She would take this into account as she worked.
“And who knows,” she said with a light shrug. “Maybe when you find that special someone, you’ll have something to give them. Something that reminds them of you.”
Etta thought about it for a moment...his hands were bigger than hers, but she didn't want to ask Nessa to make the bracelet a little larger. Anyway, she wasn't going to give it to him, and he wouldn't be likely to wear it, even if she did.
Alright, now stop thinking about his hands. Or his wrists. Why are you thinking about his wrists? That's just weird. Stop it. Stop being weird. Now. Right now. Stop. You ninny. STOP.
"I'll be happy to wear it, myself," she said quickly, turning her face into Sage's neck to briefly hide her face under the guise of an affectionate nuzzle for the fluffy beast.
He does have nice wrists, Sage's commentary broke in.
"I'm planning a garden," she blurted to change the subject. "A...a memorial, of sorts. I don't know where to make it, exactly...with everyone still on the move, and I don't want it too close to the borderlands..." If Coheed somehow destroyed the garden of remembrance for the fallen, it would be like losing everyone they loved all over again. "Maybe somewhere near the Cave. With a plant for every person we lost."