The Secrets We Keep

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The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:53 pm

The sun had not even crested the mountaintop before the square began to fill with people eager to get their hands on the early morning wares. Farmers and peddlers of all kinds had set up shop already and were just unloading their goods when the first patrons entered the market. A slight breeze filled the city, adding a small bite to the morning air. It wasn't cold enough to cause anyone any problems, but those foolish enough to be outside with little covering them would surely be in for a long day.

On the edge of a planter sat a man draped in tattered grey cloth. His 'clothing' smelled dirty and old, causing most people to avoid standing near him. The cobbled streets were plenty wide enough to avoid him. In his hand he held a tin cup, crudely shaped and dented from years of wear. His head was draped down to avoid catching the gaze of anyone who happened to be walking by. This was Ezra's routine every day, barely earning enough to get himself a meal every so often.

The patrons of Dursk were not the only ones out that morning. The edges of the market square were lined with unsanctioned mages, magic wielders who had not gone through the proper channels to be accredited mages. They lived outside the law, which suited them just fine. The average every day peace of the square was seated upon a powder keg just begging to explode. What no one else realized was that every minute that ticked by brought another member of a rival gang to the rim. Soon there would be too many, and someone was bound to do something stupid, acting as the catalyst that would detonate the keg and plunge the area into chaos.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:13 pm

The sun broke through the window, indicating that it was time to start the day. Most were up and about by sunrise, mostly the shop keepers, but some allowed themselves to get a few more moments of shut eye before beginning the day. Leigh was one that could afford to laze about a few extra minutes. Her day started pretty simple: get up, wash her face, get dressed, and go to market. She did odd jobs for people around the town but made good enough coin to sustain herself. Having been there for several months she knew it was only a matter of time before she had to move on. Not yet, though.

On her way to market she passed by the same lonely beggar on the side of the street. Most people passed him by, but she knew what it felt like to struggle and wonder where the next meal would come from. So she did as she did everyday and dropped a few coins in his dingy little cup, saying the same thing as every other morning. "It will get better, keep your chin up."

Leigh offered a smile and continued on wishing she could help him more. Honestly she probably could, but she didn't. If she took him in, took care of him, he would soon realize that she was different. He would report her, and she would... Well, she didn't want to think of that, it wouldn't happen anyway.

As she made her way down the street, she felt an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach, and she stopped. Something was wrong. Everyone in the streets had stopped, shopkeepers were hastily trying to put their things away, and that's when she noticed the shadows in the alleys. Things happened so fast, Leigh couldn't determine what had started it, but people were screaming, scattering to.find safety inside. A small explosion of power to her right sent her flying back into the dirt, the wind knocked out of her lungs.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:10 am

Almost immediately the square erupted into total chaos. Magical energy flared in the air like volcanoes. Ice, fire, lightning, heat, and shards of the ground itself flew about like flocks of panicking birds. Ezra kept his head down but stayed perfectly still right where he had been before it began, though his cup had been drawn back inside the tattered cloth covering his disfigured body.

It was the closest blast that caused him to move at all, not because of its proximity, but because of the girl it had sent sprawling to the ground. Ezra turned sharply toward her, his multi-colored eyes shining from underneath the hood. No one ever really looked at them before, as they were too busy mocking him or ignoring him.

A large chunk of earth hurtled toward her again, not intentionally of course, but part of the crossfire. It would have crushed her if not for the streak of pale green that drove through the heart of the stone, disintegrating it instantly. Ezra threw himself across her body, hunkering over her protectively. Why he had done so was known only to him. She was the only one in the entire god-forsaken place that showed him any kindness.

Once the fighting ended, he stood up and offered her his left hand, his tatters hanging off his body, concealing the whole of him but the outstretched arm. "Stupid thugs... no regard for who gets caught in their turf wars. Are you hurt?"

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:43 pm

The noise of the fight was dulled by the faint buzzing in Leighs ears. The fall had not only knocked the wind from her lungs, but disoriented her as she collided with the road. Vision blurring, she turned her head up to see a large projectile headed for her and she covered her head with his arms, curling into the ground. But pain and death did not come. Instead, she felt pressure and heat, which was very odd indeed.

Cracking her eyes, Leigh saw that the beggar from before was protecting her from the battle. It did not last long, but when it was over she remained on the ground staring up at him, a bit dazed.

"No," she murmured, taking his hand and allowing him to pull her to her feet. "Are you?" Her gaze traveled over him as if searching for blood, but she found none. "Well, come on then. You are covered in dirt, you can wash up at my place."

Without waiting for an answer, Leigh grabbed his hand and pulled him along behind her. He saved her life. Even if she didn't know how, she knew he did, and she would repay him any way she could. It just happened that the only way she could was to properly house him; she could feed him, get him cleaned up, and put proper clothes on him so he didn't have to walk around in tattered rags.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:46 pm

"No, i'm f.." Ezra's words were cut off as she practically dragged him by the arm down the street and away from the square. Those around them stopped and stared, gasping and occasionally muttering to themselves about what must have been happening. Was she taking him to the Constable's house? Was she somehow related to him? Rumors flew immediately, but Ezra tuned them out. He didn't care what people thought, really, as he could not change how they interpreted their world.

Once they were clear of the square he pulled his hand out of her grasp but continued to walk behind her. "I did not help you for hope of reward. You shouldn't feel any obligation to do anything above what you've already been doing." She was the one that always put a coin or two in his cup. He had no idea how much money she had laying around, but he didn't care. The generosity had always been appreciated, and he always remembered to tell her thank you silently before he used that money for food.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:38 pm

Leigh didn't stop until they reached her home, then she opened her door and smiled back at him and gestured for him to enter. "I know, but I have been at war with myself for ages about helping you or not, and this just tipped me over the edge."

She entered the home and closed the door behind them, getting small.items from cupboards and things to make him a proper meal. "I never thought that a few coins a day would be enough, I'm glad now that I am bringing you home." Leigh was aware that she didn't say 'my home', but implied that it could be his, too. "Now, you go and get a warm bath, I'll lay out some fresh clothes and cook you a proper meal. Go on, now."

Turning from him, she began to pull out ingredients for a proper, and large, breakfast, humming as she did. In the back of her mind she knew that he would find out eventually, and he would leave her once he knew, but she no longer minded. When that happened she would just pick up and move again. Lord knew she had the funds and experience.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:01 pm

Unaware of just how much what Leigh saw, or thought she saw, Ezra simply sighed. He shed the tattered garment one layer at a time until he wore nothing but his smudged and dirty skin. Moving to the pump, Ezra leaned forward with his one hand on the lever, pumping warm water into the tub until it was roughly half full. The basin wasn't large, but just big enough to fit him without spilling any water.

No matter how he may have felt, just soaking in warm water was extremely comforting. It had been a very long time since he'd had a proper bath. He sank into the water a bit, which quickly began to cloud as the grime and muck lifted from his skin. It may have surprised anyone watching that the water actually warmed up the longer he sat in it, rather than the other way around.

Before the water became too murky, he washed his hair. His scalp was somewhat sore from being so dirty, but he knew that would go away after a few hours of being clean. By the time he'd finished, the water had turned a gross brown. Ezra pulled the drain plug and sat in the tub while he waited for Leigh to return with fresh clothes. He wondered silently where she would find them and how she would know his size.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:42 pm

While breakfast was simmering on the stovetop, Leigh grabbed some fresh clothes she'd just finished washing and brought them to Ezra, making sure to keep her eyes away. It wasn't proper. "I've brought you a towel to dry off and some clothes. I only guessed your size but I've a bit of tailoring so I think I got it right, if not close. Food is nearly ready so don't take too long."

She turned and went back to the kitchen pulling down a plate for him and a glass, setting up on the table. Leigh poured herself a glass of tea but brought out juice and milk as well just in case he preferred something different. While she waited for him, she thought more about what she dragged him in to. Did he see this as her taking pity on him, or repayment? Would he resent her for trying to be kind? Had she offended him in some way? She really hoped not, she was only doing what she thought was right.

Why shouldn't she help him? He hadn't done any wrong to her, he'd even saved her in the scuffle over turf with the unregistered. Leigh cradled her cup and sighed softly. Gods she was lonely. Maybe that's why she brought him in. Not to help him but to not feel lonely anymore. But then, she thought, wouldn't it be worse when he found that she wasn't who she seemed and he left?

Who cared, anyway? He needed a roof over his head and food in his belly, she wasn't going to let anyone deny her of letting him have that. Heaven knows the last time he had it.

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Fri Jul 06, 2018 11:58 am

Ezra took the towel and dried himself off as best he could. He dried everywhere he could reach, then draped the towel over the tub and pressed his back against it. He was still damp, but not dripping. It felt nice to be clean, no not feel like a mound of living dirt, but being inside a house was strange to him. Foreign.

Carefully Ezra stood and climbed out of the tub. His lack of clothing didn't bother him. It never had. His father had taught him not to be ashamed of his body, for many warriors had fought and survived in nothing but their own skin. But out of respect for present company, he sat on the floor and pulled up the trousers, which actually fit him very well. The shirt was a little loose, clinging to his damp shoulders. The neck had a cinch string, but he left it loose and untied.

There was a moment when he looked back at his tatters, remembering the weight they heaped on his shoulders. Ezra almost missed it. Sighing he turned and headed for the table, taking a deep inhale. His stomach roared loudly at the smell of hot food, his mouth salivating. He kept himself in control, however. Dignified. He would not allow himself to become an animal.

"Thank you," he said quietly, his voice even and somewhat distant. "You're very generous to do this."

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:37 pm

"There really is no need to thank me. I am just doing what was once done for me." Leigh responded softly, making him a hefty plate of food. "Please, eat as much as you like,  there is no one here to judge you."

Sitting back, she got herself another cup of tea, turning her gaze out the window. She wasn't worried about missing any work, it was pretty much a come and go as you please as long as the duties are done by end of week thing. Not making a plate for herself, as she had already eaten, she stood and headed towards the washroom, wondering if he'd want his old clothes, but the just shrugged to herself and continued on. She would wash them for him and if he no longer wanted then he could toss them out himself.

"You don't have to rush out of here, you may stay as long as you like, I truly don't mind." Leigh wanted him to know that, even if she was secretly hoping he would choose to stay, she prepared herself for him to decline and leave when he was finished. "I have an extra room, and I can put fresh bedding down if you want to stay."

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Machine Man on Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:40 pm

He picked over the food set out for him, trying not to ravenously devour the entire plate until his belly was stuffed with a fifth helping. Ezra ate silently, speaking not a word to either himself or to Leigh until he was finished. His multi-colored eyes stayed fixated on her, however, studying every detail of her, from the way her body moved as she walked to the way her skin almost seemed to reflect the light. She was naturally beautiful, but there was certainly something more to her than just a pretty face and a kind heart.

Ezra finished his food, then stood and took his dish to the sink and began to clean it. He set the plate inside the basin then used the water and cloth to wipe away the remnants of his meal, then placed it off to the side to dry in the warm sun. He turned and saw her staring at his old robes, wondering if she was considering what to do with them. "I'm afraid they are dingy beyond repair. T'would be best to discard them." Ezra thought it best to make the decision himself to abstain her of any guilt she may have felt getting rid of them on her own accord.

"I cannot stay. Not for free. I have no money, clearly, but I am strong and still... relatively able-bodied. If you will let me stay, I will work for you to repay the cost."

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Re: The Secrets We Keep

Post by Danry on Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:40 pm

"Alright then." Leigh smiled, and gathered up his old clothes, turning them up in the bin, before she glanced back at him. "If you insist on doing your part, I won't object. You don't have to start today, but you can work with me and we will split the pay. How does that sound?"

She smiled at him, settling herself at the table, cradling her cup of tea. She was very happy that he did not outright decline to stay with her, but offered an alternative instead. Perhaps she would not have to stay lonely... for now.

"If you are to stay with me, however, I would like to know your name. Mine is Leigh, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

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