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Roen

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Everything posted by Roen

  1. Roen

    Remnants

    Roen slowly pursed her lips, considering his advice. A small furrow deepened between her brows at the mention of the Ul’dahn delegates here. While she was no longer a wanted criminal where the Monetarists were concerned, her prior experience with them had left a sour taste in her mouth. The East Aldenard Trading Company’s cut throat repute was a well known one, and even just strolling through the Ijin District, she saw the Brass Blade standing guard outside of their main building. That was the last place she would feel at home, even in an exotic place like Kugane. “The fact that the mannerisms are the same as those back in Eorzea is precisely the reason I will not be looking to the Ruby Bazaar for connections.” She tried not to sound too dismissive or weary, but a frown was already set upon her visage. But that problem was another issue completely and one that did not need to be explained to a man she just met. Roen sighed and set the bottle aside, not pouring a drink for herself. Her attention remained on the chronometer as she continued quietly. “I actually have no idea where to even start looking, in truth. All I know is that I have to find a hyruan courtesan from Eorzea who was sold to a Hingan twenty years ago.” She glanced up at the blonde male who had been graciously and unexpectedly helpful so far. Perhaps there was a small hope that his generosity would continue just a little longer. “You would not have any other suggestions on where I could start asking about, by any chance?”
  2. Roen

    Remnants

    Roen watched the man closely as he opened up the chronometer and began working on it. She had a sudden flash of worry at the start, wondering if he would do more harm than good. What if it was irreparably damaged in his hands? She leaned in and curled her hands together, extending her neck as forward as much as possible to get a better view. But to her pleasant surprise, his touch was precise and careful. One would not imagine such skill or technique by just looking at the man, what with wild hair and clothing that has seen plenty dust and wear. And yet she had hoped that his spontaneous generosity as well as the gun on his back were some signs of his good will and competence. And judging by his technique and familiarity with the device, he certainly had more knowledge of it than she. She straightened when the drinks were brought, finding herself relaxing a bit more as she felt comfortable in dismissing her doubts. Although when he posed his question, she raised a brow. So intent was she in getting this fixed that they had foregone introductions. “Deneith,” she answered with a huff of amusement then shook her head. “Although most just call me Roen.” Her surname always reminded her of her suns as a Sultansworn. “And the device belonged to someone else.” There was a small pause, her expression turning distant for a moment. Even now, thoughts of him always threatened to bring about a wave melancholy. But she shook it off. “I am hoping to return the keepsake to his family. Hence… I need it in working order.” Roen found herself frowning, wondering why she even shared that. But the stranger was kind enough to offer his services and likely saved her a bit of coin. She supposed she owed him that much. And a drink. She started to untie the cork from the top of the bottle. “And who am I thanking?” She glanced at him expectantly, as she set a cup near him, pouring him some rice wine.
  3. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    “Why did you save me?” Because, I couldn’t save her. Nabi and Anchor by Ruen! You can check out more of Ruen's art here! This one has a special place in my heart, because it was the very first art that was drawn of these two together, and a total surprise sprung upon me by Anchor's player. I love LOVE Anchor's look here. This is pretty much how I see him in my head. And it has been the reference I've used when approaching other artists to draw him since. I guess you can say that this piece started my entire run of collecting all sorts of art pieces for the characters in this story! It made me fall in love with these two instantly.
  4. I've always wanted to share with people here all the art that have been created for the characters in the story thread Cigarettes and Fireflies. So I will post them here as I obtain the permission from the various artists to repost them! They are all lovely and some of them from specific points in the story. I can't wait to share them all! Also the respective artists and where to find them will be posted under each piece. I invite others (I am looking at you Anchor/Ruen and Ghoa) to post any art if you'd like too since I know you have some really great ones! You are totally welcomed to do so! It was just after nightfall, when the tall blades of grass swayed and rippled like the sea across the plains of the Azim Steppe. At first, when the lights appeared all around her, she thought that the moon itself had dusted the fields. But when she blinked her tears away, she saw the countless fireflies rising up from the waves of the meadows and quickly her sniffles gave way to a sigh of wonder. The first commission: Nabi Amongst the Fireflies Artist: Sangrde @ https://www.deviantart.com/sangrde
  5. Roen

    Remnants

    Well, he certainly sounded confident. Roen arched a brow in Ashur’s direction, her head slowly canting as she considered his offer. There was not much to lose, he was practically offering his services for free. Labor a mere drink? She would be a fool to refuse. At best, this man knew what he was talking about and she would see the chronometer fixed and avoid being cheated, and at the worst, the timepiece still would still be broken after a drink and she would have to come back to this jeweler, and probably offer her more coin. It was worth the risk. And judging by the very displeased look on the Hingan woman’s face, a rare sight for the paladin thus far, Roen suspected that this man at least spoke some truths. With an apologetic sigh, Roen turned and bowed politely to the jeweler, taking her device back. “I apologize for wasting your time. I think I will see if he can help me.” The Hingan huffed, but recovered herself quickly enough to manage a cool smile and a bow. “Of course,” she said calmly. Roen carefully pocketed the chronometer into her belt pouch and turned to the man. She narrowed her eyes at him, but her gaze did not hold him suspect. If anything, there was a hint of amusement behind her muted expression. “You have yourself a deal, then.” She half turned and gestured down the street in the Hostelry's direction. “Although I dare say that you are probably underselling yourself, offering your services for something so little.”
  6. Roen

    Remnants

    Roen was still counting out the coins when another voice from behind her drew her attention. She looked over her shoulder, then had to turn back around the other way for the man had chimed in while walking past them. A quick study of him, she noted his rather scruffy appearance, the large gun on his back, and the distinctly non-eastern accent. He was a foreigner like her. “You say that ser, as if you might have a better option?” She quickly retorted back before he got too far away. He was either considerate enough to lend his advice when it was not asked for, or arrogant enough to throw his opinions about when unwanted. Either way, Roen would hear him out. It would do her no good to haphazardly spend what coin she brought, especially this early in her journey. Giving the jeweler a sidelong glance, Roen also spied that the woman’s courteous expression had dimmed somewhat, some lines appearing at the edge of the Hingan’s narrowed eyes. She certainly didn’t appreciate the stranger’s unsolicited input. Which made Roen all the more curious to hear what he had to say. She turned where she stood, facing the male fully. Compared to the blonde mercenary, she resembled more of a merchant in traveling clothes, for she wore no armor this sun. She was dressed in a simple but clean overcoat, with detailing that could be seen on Sharlayan garbs. At least, that was what she was told by a merchant in Ul’dah. It was a lighter fare to travel in, without the worries of humidity and the weight of metal armor. Her hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, and she wore no jewelry nor baubles that advertised any wealth. She was dressed for comfort and travel. She certainly did not carry a large weapon as he did. Roen canted her head expectantly at the stranger, which also brought the Hingan woman’s annoyed gaze upon him as well.
  7. Roen

    Remnants

    “So, do you think you can repair it?” Roen eyed the woman behind the counter as the jeweler continued to study the chronometer in her hands. The older Hingan had brought out pair of glasses to inspect the device more closely, and so far just indistinct mumbles and hums were all Roen had to go by in terms of her assessment. Since the paladin accidentally dropped it while wandering lost in the busy streets of Kogane Dori, she had been unable to find someone who was familiar with magitek technology that seemed comfortable in repairing this particular nonworking timepiece. Had it just been an ordinary gadget, Roen was sure any capable craftsman would have qualified. But this was one of Nero’s treasured personal belongings, and he had a penchant for collecting odd and unique items. Garlean designed devices certainly were one of them. But Kugane was a port city that even showcased a Garlean Consulate in their Ijin district; for certain Roen thought that finding someone capable would not be such a task. Or was it that she was a foreigner herself and she just didn’t know where to look? Who to ask? Having landed not long ago in the East, Roen was careful to abide by the rules here. She was given plenty of advice during the trek across the seas, of what pier she was allowed in and under no circumstances was she to cause any ruckus, violence, or mishaps in the streets of Kugane. The law enforcement -- she was happy to call them that for now for Sekiseigumi was truly a mouthful -- was reputed to be ever strict and unforgiving, especially where foreigners were concerned. And yet the Hingans themselves seemed indisputably polite. All the merchants greeted her with a meek expression and a courteous bow. And just walking about the well swept streets of the marketplace, it was easy to believe why all the different factions could coexist here in peace. Colorful umbrellas hanging above stalls lent a festive air, and the intricate woodwork of the archways and the buildings drew the eyes upwards, to where eventually one could gaze upon the magnificence that was the Kugane Castle. But none of those details helped her right at this moment. She had come to the East for three specific purposes, and the first was already hindered from the start with the clockwork being broken. The carelessness on her part that led to the incident, of just bumping into another person of all things, still made her grimace in reflection. No matter. She would get the chronometer back in working order, then go about fulfilling the purpose of why she had left everyone she knew in Eorzea to come here. “Yes, this is definitely repairable.” The jeweler finally looked up, breaking Roen out of her reverie. “It is a bit of an old piece, an antique I’d say, but all the components are here. I will just need a couple of suns to get it work again.” “Wonderful.” Roen sighed with relief. “My gratitude. How much would that cost?” “Five hundred koban,” the woman answered with a pleasant expression. Roen paused, her brow rising. She was not at all sure about the currency or what labor of such a thing was worth. But she was never the one to haggle. She nodded and began to reach into her bag hanging from one shoulder. “Of course,” she murmured, retrieving her coin pouch. Then she slowed, wincing. “What would that be in gil… exactly?”
  8. Twenty-five years ago… The battle was over. Dark red blood dripped from the end of his greatsword as the booming horn sounded in the distance. Chagur Jhungid stared at the Xaela that lay writhing on the ground before him, his hand grasping the shoulder where his arm had been severed. Lifeblood spurted angrily from where it should have been, and Chagur knew the fighter was not long for this world. He had decided at the last minute to relieve the Kharlu warrior of his sword rather than his head, but it had only really bought his opponent a few more breaths to gaze upon his killer, as death’s oblivion came for him. A pity that it had been only seconds later that the battle was declared won. Chagur did not yet know which side was victorious, only that the time for fighting was over. Had he faced this adversary in the middle of the field, perhaps then a healer could reach him in time to save his life. But they were partly separated by large boulders jutting upwards from the ground, where the warrior had retreated to seek higher advantage against Chagur. It would be to no avail. Neither the Jhungid nor the Kharlu believed as the Dotharl did, that they would return once more to this world in another body. The life lost on the battlefield would be their final end. It would be their ultimate sacrifice for the glory of their people. It used to fuel his blood, the impending peril as he faced his enemies, year after year. But as Chagur looked around the battlefield, the bloodied bodies that were littering the landscape no longer represented a scene of a glorious courage. As the cries of feral brutality and agony still echoed through the air, he knew that it would soon be followed by sounds of wailing mothers and lovers, as they came to claim those they have lost. The tip of the greatsword lowered to the ground, as the fallen Kharlu warrior drew his last breath, and his movements stopped. A large crimson pool surrounded his body, as it slowly seeped into the soil that would wear the stain for many suns. “May the Mother guide you beyond this life,” Chagur prayed quietly. It was then that a searing pain ripped through his gut, robbing him of his breath. Only upon seeing the speartip protruding out from his stomach, did he realize too late that he had lowered his guard. The battle had been declared over, although never before had he been foolish enough to assume that the rest abided by it as he did. Many eager young warriors often sought out one last strike against their embittered enemy. Chagur spun around at the same time the spear withdrew, one hand reflexively going to the wound to slow the bleeding there. It was not a fatal wound yet, and he would only need to defend himself for a little longer, before his tribe’s healers would be able to spot him. All he needed was to strike down the spear wielder. But when he looked upon his adversary, something made him pause. It was a vision, for surely it was not possible to see the face that flashed before him now, here, on the battlefield. In a blink of an eye the ghostly visage of a woman faded, leaving that of a fearsome male Xaela instead. Chagur's arm lost but a second with his hesitation, his greatsword falling short of a strike that would have cut across his enemy’s chest. The massive Kharlu warrior leaped back out of reach in that half-heartbeat of a moment, then lunged again with his weapon. And this time, the spear found its mark. Chagur saw his own blood spray out of his mouth as he fell to his knees, then fell back, limbs heavy, onto the dirt. He felt his own lifeblood leave his body in great pulsing gouts, as his killer stepped forward to loom over him. Once more the vision returned even as darkness fell. There were the golden eyes that were so familiar and comforting. As his last breath left him, Chagur could imagine in the distance, her cries of sorrow. He prayed to the Mother to watch over her even as death’s oblivion took him. Years later… “You dare walk out on me, Chanai?” Tugan’s voice was booming, and it shook Chanai to the bone. She was convinced that his rage echoed well beyond his yurt, although none dared to enter the abode for the fear of his wrath. Chanai forced her back to straighten as she turned toward him, her golden eyes rising to meet that of her brother’s. While their pale yet warmly-hued gaze made them easily recognizable as kin by blood, that is where their similarities ended. Chanai was a slight figure with black hair and slender horns slicked backwards, whereas Tugan was one of the tallest of the males, with thick onyx horns that jutted forward. His frame was that of a chiseled warrior, and he wore his battle garment with strength befitting his formidable size. Where she mended wounds and soothed pain, he excelled in the martial arts, relishing especially in killing and violence. He was a highly valued member of the Kharlu for his battle prowess, as anything that gave the tribe advantage over their nemesis, the Jhungid, was given much reverence. None dared cross Tugan Kharlu, especially those of his blood. So when he came upon his sister’s carefully packed stash of supplies, containing cured meats, jars of preserved fruits and dried herbs, he had confirmation that his long held suspicion was true. That his sister had planned to leave the tribe that had been their home for all their lives. And Chanai could see that he could barely contain his anger, and not strike her where she stood. Even when she did not deny his accusation. “I cannot abide by our ways any longer, brother,” she said quietly. She was surprised when she heard her own voice, calm and steady. She had to do this, for her child. “I cannot stay here.” Tugan's nostrils were flared and his lips downturned with loathing. The flickering flames within the tent threw fearsome shadows upon his visage; but his pale eyes remained lit within his dark silhouette and pierced her through like a spear. “You never had the heart for our way of life. You were born a whimpering whelp. If it was not for me, you would have been relegated to caring for the newest captives, as their wet nurse.” He spat on the ground. “Instead you are a respected curer amongst the tribe. And this is not good enough for you?” Chanai clenched her fist at her side, her chin tilting upward. “You had nothing to do with the work I’ve done. You have never worked to preserve a life nor heal what was broken. All you aspire to do is soak the land in blood in the name of Kharlu.” And bask in the glory, she wanted to add. The tribe had their own ideals on why they continued to fight their nemesis, why the yearly war was necessary. But she knew better of her brother. It was a means to quench his thirst for what he enjoyed the most: seeing his enemies fall at his feet. She would not have her child grow up under such influence; Nabi would not take part in the Kharlu’s warring way of life. Her daughter would not know the depths of the sorrow for a love lost. A hiss of breath through his gritted teeth warned Chanai that her brother’s temper was nearly at its peak. She could feel her heart pounding against her chest, but she dared not move. She wanted to take flight, like a rabbit who had just caught a wolf’s scent upwind. But she knew if she were to flee now, her brother would draw his weapon and cut her down. The silence that fell between them was nearly suffocating. He took a step toward her, standing three fulms above her head. His fingers opened and closed, hovering next to the short sword that hung by his belt. “Go,” rose a rumble from Tugan’s chest. His fingers had stopped moving. “Leave my sight and never return.” Disgust ran thick in his voice. “I will no longer see you as my blood. You will be a traitor. A deserter.” A stuttered breath left Chanai’s lips, and the woman had to hold herself from collapsing to the ground in relief. She took a slow step back, then another, from the menacing frame that was her brother. She had to be sure he would not change her mind and unsheath his blade when her back was turned. When he remained still as stone, she gave him a bow. “My thanks to you, brother. You will never see me again.” She turned, ready to flee the tent as fast as her feet would take her. “On one condition.” Tugan’s voice cut through the heavy night air. “Leave the child.” That froze Chanai in an instant. The hand that was reaching for the entrance dropped to her side, and the woman turned, new fire in her eyes. “Nabi is my daughter.” “She belongs to the Kharlu. Even if she carries the tainted blood of her sire.” Tugan’s hand was now resting on the hilt of his sword, his expression twisting into one of triumph. Even in this, he would claim his spoils. Chanai was caught speechless at the revelation that his brother had known about Nabi’s father. It was a secret she had never dared to share with anyone. “And you still let me live? All these years?” Chanai whispered hoarsely, seeing her brother in a new light. She had never suspected such familial loyalty. Tugan sneered, his grin gleaming and frightening as it split a white fissure across his dark face. “Half of her carries their blood, and yet she is of Kharlu. She is mine. You tell me, who is the victor?” Of course. Chanai quickly chided herself for suspecting any pity from her brother. It is not about loyalty. It is about power. It always has been. She felt all of her muscles tense, and the Xaela stood there rigid as her thoughts whirled with turmoil and grim determination. She lowered her head, her hands clasping in front of her. “If I leave her, you would let me go? You will not hunt me down?” Tugan nodded once but firmly. “I will grant you this one mercy. Dusk Mother would weep should I would raise blade against my own kin so easily. But your cowardice will not make two deserters of our blood. Carry your own sins with you into the wind. I will see that she bears none of your crime.” Some of his wrath had faded, his voice now only rumbled like distant thunder. “And you swear, you will take good care of her?” Chanai felt herself tremble again, as did her voice. “I swear by the Mother.” Chanai clenched her fists so tightly by her side that she nearly drew blood. She bowed again, deeply from her waist. “Be the father to her that she never had, Tugan. Farewell.” She stifled a sob and spun around, running out of his yurt. Her brother did not stop her. She sprinted to her tent, paying no heed to anyone else staring at her. Loud rebukes coming from her brother’s yurt were not unusual, as was the scene of his sister retreating from it in tears. Others would let her be, and would allow solitary meditation for at least the rest of the night. The fabric to the tent’s entrance was thrown open as she rushed in. She immediately went to all of the little packets that she had been hiding away in different places within her yurt. He had found the largest collection but not all of them. Not the small mementos like a carefully woven bracelet of gold and silver threads, and not the spare clothes that only a child could wear. Chanai had never explicitly lied to her brother before. She knew he believed her; that she would leave Nabi behind. But he knew nothing of true love. Else he would know that her life mattered not if she could not save that of her daughter. Chanai would leave the Kharlu that night. With her young sleeping daughter in tow. Even if it meant a death sentence upon her head for the rest of her life.
  9. Roen

    Jubi Wish.png

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    I was wrong, you know,” Nabi had confessed to Anchor in that shed, whispering what truths came to her mind, when she thought he was drifting away. “I thought I wanted one thing from all this. Your freedom. That if somehow I helped you get free, that it would all be worth it. “I was wrong. I want more. I want… to watch the cherry blossoms rain upon your head. And... I want to hear you say my name. I want us to watch the fireworks again. I want to show you the fireflies taking to the air just as the daylight sinks into the sea.” She was imploring him to stay. With her. “I want so much more." The picture depicts events of this post.
  10. Roen

    Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Album of cool art I've collected! Either commissions or just awesome art drawn by a talented friend. (I am looking at you Ruen)
  11. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    "I was wrong, you know,” Nabi had confessed to Anchor in that shed, whispering what truths came to her mind, when she thought he was drifting away. “I thought I wanted one thing from all this. Your freedom. That if somehow I helped you get free, that it would all be worth it. “I was wrong. I want more. I want… to watch the cherry blossoms rain upon your head. And... I want to hear you say my name. I want us to watch the fireworks again. I want to show you the fireflies taking to the air just as the daylight sinks into the sea.” She was imploring him to stay. With her. “I want so much more." Commission: A Wish of Cherry Blossoms by lovely BunBunDango!
  12. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    "You got ones like you. That go sniffin', and diggin', and explorin' them darker corners. And then you got the one's that were bred there. You ain't see the true piss of this world. Its people. You's hardly even had a taste. You saw a peek in from the muddy window." Commission: The Underground by Shinjyu I commissioned this piece after the completion of the Underground arc! It included the major players in that took part and I am happy how it turned out! From left to right: Anchor Saltborn, Nabi Kharlu, Tserende Valqirelle, Shael Stormchild, Ghoa Mankhad, and the shadowy silhouette represents Elam Grave (alas!).
  13. Roen

    Underground.jpg

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    I commissioned this piece to represent those involved in the Underground arc. From left to right: Anchor Saltborn, Nabi Kharlu, Tserende Valqirelle, Shael Stormchild, and Ghoa Mankhad. The shadowed silhouette on the ground represents Elam Grave. Artist can be found here!
  14. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    "Once we laid on a grassy hill, and just listened to the sounds around us, with our eyes closed." Nabi Kharlu by Ruen! You can check out more of Ruen's art here!
  15. Roen

    Nabi.jpg

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Nabi at peace
  16. Roen

    Nabi portrait by Tida

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Nabi portrait!
  17. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Nabi watched the sparks disappear toward the heavens, a sense of serenity finding her in that moment. A belief that things would be alright, somehow, in the end. She could have sworn she spied a smile on Anchor’s face too. [Except from this scene] Commission: Nabi and Anchor at the Shogatsu Festival By Yutaan!
  18. Roen

    Anchor and Nabi

    From the album: Artwork - imported

    Drawn by Ruen as a surprise! Something I would have otherwise TOTALLY COMMISSIONED. Go check out Ruen's tumblr! Lots of other cool art things there!
  19. Roen

    The Art of Cigarettes and Fireflies

    “He isn’t a hero. He killed so many people today. …But he still saved me.” Commission: Anchor Saltborn By ADPong This commission was inspired by this scene.
  20. Roen

    Anchor.jpg

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    “He isn’t a hero. He killed so many people today. …But he still saved me.” Commission: Anchor Saltborn by ADPong Cigarettes and Fireflies
  21. Roen

    Cigarettes and Fireflies

    The last of the lanterns were starting to blink out in the streets of Shirogane, the residents bidding farewell to the day as they readied themselves for the respite of slumber. The crickets’ quiet chirps filled the night air, and the stars littered the sky, matching each light that had been extinguished below by waking ten more above. But the beauty of night was lost on Nabi, her gaze solely upon the man she was laying next to. This was her usual nightly ritual, to drink in the view of Anchor Saltborn as he slept. They would murmur quietly about something or another, and slowly but surely his eyelids would grow heavy. Sometimes he would stifle a yawn, trying to continue to listen to her usual rambles, but as her voice grew softer, Nabi could see in the corner of her eyes his blinks growing slower until finally, sleep claimed him. She was usually soon to follow, but just for a bit, she relished in watching him, as peace settled over his features. But this night, it was not so. Her eyes didn’t leisurely roam over him, carefully tracing the scar that traveled across his face, wondering how old he was when someone marked him so. She didn’t marvel over the tattoos on his cheeks, those that still resembled thorns on a stem of a flowerless rose. Nor did she lean in, almost bringing her lips to press against his, so slightly parted. It looked as if there were words held just within, waiting to escape. Perhaps if she kissed him, she would learn what unspoken sentiments were on the tip of his tongue. But she didn’t want to wake him, so only her breath was allowed to brush his lips. But there was always tender affection that swelled her chest as she lingered just a finger’s breadth away from him. She usually found herself beaming, remembering how soft the tip of his nose was. Despite his scarred face and weathered skin, when she lightly grazed the very tip of his nose with her own, it was always surprisingly soft. But Nabi didn’t revel in any of these things. Not this night. Instead, all she saw were the dark circles under his eyes, lending his sallow cheeks a more ashen hue. Even in sleep, the lines between his brows didn’t diminish. Was it exhaustion? Pain? Fear? All of them, Nabi told herself, and there was a cold shudder that rose from deep within. All those nights she doted on his sleeping visage, she had never thought that parts of him were suffering, his arm slowly becoming lost to the energies of the mutated crystals unseen beneath the enhancement. How could she have been so negligent? She was there when the Curator brutally drove the metal rods into the bones of his forearm, so that they could make him a more deadly killer, a pawn in their bloodsport. Why did she allow him to keep it this long? Anchor needed to get stronger before another surgery, she told herself. Then they both put Batuhan’s needs first, because the Xaela’s condition was much more dire. But after that? Shouldn’t she have insisted that Anchor not return to Ironsong until the enhancement was removed? Why didn’t she beg, plead, or say anything to get him to agree to do away with that cursed gauntlet, before they set out for the ruins deep in the heart of the Steppe? Nabi already knew the answer. She had grown too complacent. Too happy. She was busy making him a nameday cake. Planning beach picnics. She wanted to cry and laugh ruefully at the same time. While she was sharing sunsets and fireflies, his arm was slowly being corrupted and warped. So when Anchor stepped up to protect her, when he took it upon himself to become her shield against an angry spirit that haunted the ruins, it costed him dearly. The ghost drained his aether and scrambled his memories, and destabilized the crystals beneath the metal, causing them to shatter and embedded themselves further along his arm. Shael blamed Otsuyu, the ghost of the ruins. But Nabi knew better. She herself allowed this to happen. She was the reason that the gauntlet was on Anchor in the first place. He was forced to use the gauntlet and his aether because of what he did for her. And they had all volunteered to travel to the ruins for her sake. None of it would have happened, if it weren’t for her. Nabi could look on him no longer. Her eyes were spilling over with hot tears, her chest starting to burn. She had refused to show her despair during the surgery, and even after. Anchor couldn’t know of her guilt. He would only be upset, and he needed to focus all his energies on his recovery. For unlike after the escape from the mountain, Anchor now seemed more frail than ever. At least in the fighting pits, his tenacity always burned stubbornly behind his gaze, no matter how broken his body was. But after the ruins, racked with pain and exhaustion both physical and mental, Nabi watched as the man before her struggle with keeping his thoughts in the present. Otsuyu had ravaged his memories, and Nabi wasn’t sure if all could be regained and when. Nabi quickly brushed away the moisture from her cheeks, pulling her brows into a tight frown. She couldn’t let Anchor see her like this, just in case he accidentally woke. She pressed her lips in a determined line instead, and curled in closer to him. She almost listened for his heartbeat, a sound that used to bring her comfort in times of darkness. But now she could only hear that distant thrum, that other presence that beat and hummed alongside his heart. Nabi shut her eyes, burying her face into the pillow as more tears began to flow. Not even the sight of the fireflies taking flight would give her peace. She balled herself up beneath the blankets, thankful that the sheets muffled her quiet sobs through the night.
  22. Roen

    The Journey

    From the album: Artwork - imported

    I commissioned this fantastic piece from BritishMuffin on Tumblr to encapsulate Roen’s journey through ARR and HW with some important people who played a key part. Thank you all! Artist: British Muffin
  23. Roen

    Nabi amongst the fireflies

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    My first commission for Nabi! I was very pleased with it, the artist did a WONDERFUL job of depicting the color of her eyes and the wonder in her gaze. Commission: Nabi amongst the fireflies Artist: https://www.deviantart.com/sangrde
  24. Roen

    Nabi and Anchor at the Shogatsu Festival

    From the album: Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Nabi watched the sparks disappear toward the heavens, a sense of serenity finding her in that moment. A belief that things would be alright, somehow, in the end. She could have sworn she spied a smile on Anchor’s face too. Commission: Nabi and Anchor at the Shogatsu Festival Artist here: https://www.deviantart.com/yutaan
  25. Roen

    Cigarettes and Fireflies

    Years ago... Chanai never relished in the visions, even though everyone else heralded them as gifts from the gods. When she had her first vision at the age of twelve, Siban declared her one of the blessed daughters of Nhaama, seeing through the eyes of the Dusk Mother, able to interpret the omens of things to come. To Chanai, they were but nightmares that came to her in the light of day. So when another revelation came to her, Chanai tried to dig her fingernails into her palm and shut her eyes, shaking it off. She had so little time to spare. But it was never any use, there was no denying the Sight, for who could refuse the gods? But this time, it was the flowers who would not be spurned. Even as her hands worked to carefully dip the golden petals into the vials, her fingers lost their strength, the glass tube sliding from her grip. Her lips parted in a silent gasp and her entire body stilled. Her Sight took her elsewhere, no longer kneeling before the flower bed in the atrium. “Mide… Mide, don’t! Please!” The woman’s voice was desperate and hoarse. Chanai stood stark still, as she stared down at the woman on the ground. A Xaela, in her mid twenties mayhap, was trying to propel herself forward, trembling arms and elbows pulling the rest of her immobile body along the ground. Dark crimson smears stained the rug behind her, and it was still flowing fresh from the woman’s mouth and eyes. Poison. Chanai knew the sight all too well. Behind the dying woman was a mound of pillows and blankets, a large bed surrounded by candles and incense. Two goblets were turned on their sides, the liquid that had spilled from within splotching the furs below. And upon the bed was another figure, this one male, with dark lifeblood staring to coagulate around his lips and jaw. But the woman had somehow survived long enough to drag herself halfway across the yurt. Even before Chanai turned her head to follow the dying woman’s gaze, she heard the cry. And her heart stopped. It was a newly born baby -- she would know that cry anywhere. It reminded her of her own daughter she held in her arms so many years ago. And to her horror, the scene witnessed before her seemed all too familiar. An older woman, draped in a heavy necklace of bones and carved rocks -- those that marked her as the tribe’s udgan -- was cradling that infant in her arm. And the other, held a knife, its sharpened blade gleaming orange in the distant candlelight. “Mide... she is a but a baby,” the doomed Xaela woman croaked. Her breaths were coming haltingly between sobs and her tears did little to wash away the red that was still spilling from her mouth. She did not have long, but there was a stubbornness in her eye; she would plead for her child until her last breath. “You… you can hide the truth. You can raise her… none need to see the mark! You need not…” “I am sorry, Yisu. This must be done.” Such a look of sorrow the older Xaela wore, Chanai could not doubt the depth of her regret. “She bares the mark. It bodes ill for all. For all.” The udgan repeated, as if to convince herself as well as the fading mother of the deed that needed to be done. “You… you were the one that b-blessed us! Consecrated our union! That it would bring forth peace!” Yisu’s despair turned into one of fury and indignation even in her final moments. She spat out more blood as her voice rose, she would have screamed at the elder if not for her lungs being choked of her last breaths of air. “I was wrong!” The udgan was shaking now as well, her body racked with remorse. “I thought the visions were of peace. Not… this. Not this!” “P-please… I… I b-beg… of you…” Yisu could no longer move, and her head sank with the heavy weight of impending death. She could only claw at the rug beneath her as her hair fell around her face and her body convulsed one last time before it fell limp. She could not even lay her eyes upon her own child one last time. Chanai turned away, as the shadow of the elder Xaela and the babe was cast on to the far wall of the yurt. She could not watch. She closed her eyes as the babe’s coos came to an abrupt end. Her own harsh intake of breath broke the silence around her, and Chanai’s eyes snapped open. The golden flowers still swayed all around her, but the extract from the vial she was holding was no more, the glass having fallen to the soft soil, spilling all its contents. Chanai chided herself quietly as she snatched the vial up again. She didn’t have much time before the golden colors started to fade from its peak. She also didn’t turn when she heard the familiar clacking of wooden staff upon stone, accompanied by the clattering of bones and beads. Of course, she thought to herself. Of course, she would be here. “Ten winters,” Siban broke the silence. Despite her advanced years, the clarity of her voice still could cut through stone. “She was never meant to live this long.” Chanai didn’t turn, but her lips pressed into a tight frown. “It’s because of the mark.” Her fingers trembled but she exhaled to calm them. The proportions of the reagents must be exact. “Have the flowers shown you the truth as well? It was never about peace.” Her words tasted bitter on her tongue and Chanai made no effort to soften them. Siban did not answer right away, but she did approach closer to the center of the atrium. The winter chill had already clung to the stones, and there were patches of ice along the crevice. But the goosebumps that ran along Chanai’s arms was from the memory of the wet sound of a blade’s end meeting flesh. She focused on mixing the solvent, then gently starting to soak the petals in them again. If Siban brought others to take her former pupil back to the tribe, then so be it. But until she was forcibly torn from her task, she was determined to work on the medicine for her daughter. “They showed me the same time they showed you,” Siban’s voice was quieter and nearer. It was also full of guilt. Just like Mide’s. “Like all visions, portents can be interpreted differently. Even the most violent storms give way to the clearer skies after. Mide was afraid that…” “I don’t care anymore!” Chanai snapped back, cutting the elder off. “Ill omens and great change wrought through destruction… this was never what I wanted.” She set the vial upon the ground, digging its tip into the soil to settle it before she turned to look at Siban. There was fury that was burning within her. “I cursed my own blood for a futile ambition. I stole her life even before it began.” Her clenched hand shook along with her voice. “So I intend to do everything in my power to give her a normal, full life.” The aged woman’s visage didn’t flinch at her pupil’s outrage. The lines around her eyes lengthened as she studied the flowers behind the Xaela. Her wrinkled hands clutched heavily onto the gnarled wooden staff she was leaning on. “You may give her another five… ten years? Then what?” Chanai’s nostrils flared. Siban knew as much as she did. The udgan had seen as much as she did. But the elder didn’t love her child like she did. Siban only saw what the gods chose to show her. She didn’t feel the resolve, the absolute undeniable conviction that a mother would, to defy all the gods to give her daughter what she deserved. “Then I do whatever it takes,” Chanai rasped with a lift of her chin. Then satisfied that none but her mentor came for her, and that she would be powerless to take her back, the younger Xaela turned back to her work. I will save Nabi. Whatever it takes.
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