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Family Ties [Closed]


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Taking in a deep breath of air, the elezen duskwight woman climbed the steps, pausing at the top just before a plain-looking wooden door with an even plainer-looking sign atop it which read 'Zelorius'. Withdrawing a cast iron key from a pocket hidden somewhere in the folds of a greenish-blue tunic that was probably a size too large for her, and unlocked the door, pushing it open gently. She stepped from the bright daylight of mid-morning into the dark recesses of what can only be described as a rather decrepit-looking hovel from the outside. She pushed a few strands of blonde hair out of her face and peered about the room. It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the light. The interior was rather elaborately decorated with wall hangings depicting various animals and landscapes and scenes of battles. She smiled softly as she traced her fingertips along a wooden end-table, allowing them to rest on a small pile of walnut shells which had varying faces inked onto them - a faded memory of her childhood.


On the opposite end of the room, an elderly man reclined in a rocking chair, his head tilted back and long, flowing silver hair draping behind the back of the chair. His breathing was slow, steady, and rhythmic. If the smile on his face was any indication, his dreams were pleasant ones. She smiled warmly at him. She felt guilty for it, but she liked seeing him like this more than when he was awake. Most days she would have just left the groceries on the table for him with a note, but today was different and she regretted that she had to rouse him.


Placing a well-manicured hand on one of his shoulders, she shook him gently. He snorted abrupty, and a pair of bright blue gems which matched her own stared up at her from beneath bushy silver eyebrows.


"Dweia, is that you...?" The old man's face took on a wonderous expression as he lifted his head from the edge of the chair.


Shielding his eyes from what little light managed to creep in from behind the lone window's shade, he smiled jubilantly up at her. His voice sounded gravely and his words labored, but his eyes caught the light and were filled with hope.


The amount of joy in his face was met by an equal amount of annoyance in hers as she frowned down at him, "It's Kes, Father... Don't get up. I'm leaving your groceries on the table for you." She dumped the contents of a bag she had been carrying haphazardly onto the table and began arranging the items - mostly fruits, vegetables, herbs, and a little bit of bread.


"Oh yes, Kes dear! We remember when you were just a little thing..." His smile never went away, but there was confusion in his eyes now. "Have we ever told you of your mother?"


Grimacing, she turned away from her groceries, "Many times now, Father. Please, let's not talk about such things..." She'd grown used to hearing many of his stories dozens of times over, but she knew this was one that never ended particularly well and it was far from an ideal day for additional drama. "Why don't you tell me about how you used to train in the deserts instead?" He smiled at her, though his eyes had fallen closed again. "And you'll have a headache for a week if you don't put your glasses on."


He nodded, reaching somewhat blindly about a table beside the enormous leather easychair he was seated in, his weathered fingers finally resting upon a pair of silver-lined shaded spectacles which quickly found themselves perched upon the bridge of his nose. "Well let us tell you, it all started with that lance... Just a simple weapon, right? Wrong! We trained with it out in the deserts of..."


His gravely voice was quickly tuned out as she began putting the groceries in their appropriate cupboards. She'd heard this story a hundred times before and could recite it back to him with ease. She knew all the characters, all the plot twists. But with each retelling, it was his first recantment. It was his life, or a part of it - at least the way he remembered it. But his mind had been gone for so long now that there was really no way for her to be able to discern what was real from what wasn't. Some of the details could not have happened. His mind had distorted the facts and his memories of friends past had faded - weathered away by time like a rock beneath years and years of ocean waves. Growing up the stories he told of the roegedan protector had always fascinated and frightened her, but now even they were little more than the fantasies of a delusional and fragmented mind.


"...and it was after all that time spent in the desert that we knew that our knighthood trials were complete! Oh, but it wouldnae end there..." She had finished putting the groceries away and was slicing up some cheese and bread for him. There was a time when he could cook his own meals - she remembered the food of her childhood. Stews made with just the right amount of seasoning, sandwiches that could not be eaten without eliciting some sort of pleasurable groan, and the patting of her belly after stuffing down a dozen of his cookies, and then swiping one or two more when she thought he wasn't looking. His exemplary culinary skills were the reason she had been spending the past few years working so hard at losing the extra weight she had put on in her teenage years - an effort which had finally started producing results, albeit slowly.


But now the old man was reduced to this. It was tragic, but growing up she had heard stories about how her grandfather and great-grandfather had suffered similar bouts of discontinuity during their lifetimes.


Smiling softly at him as he wrapped up his most recent tale, she handed him the platter and quickly cut in before he could move on to another story, "Father... Have you seen the red votive I kept when I was still living here?"


Taking a bite of cheese, the aging duskwight spoke with a full mouth, "What? Votive? Nae seen it." Catching sight of her frown, he continued, "Don't really need more light around here. What do you need with it, anyway?" He cast an inquisitive glance at his daughter as he munched away at his food, oblivious at first to the gravity of the situation.


She drew a deep intake of air. She'd explained this to him at least a dozen times before, but today it hurt too much. He only remembered the little girl he'd raised. It always struck a nerve when she had to explain how she was at one time engaged to be married, and he always had the same multitude of questions about the Wildwood Elezen man that had stolen his daughter away from her father for those years. After that it went like clockwork. He would get upset. Then she would get upset and ultimately leave him there in his confused state to go nurse her emotional wounds. And the next time she visited it would be as though nothing had ever happened. Sometimes she felt that he remembered, but chose not to talk about it so as to spare her the trauma. She could never really tell, but he never seemed to remember their fights. Today she needed the votive though - more than anything else she needed something that had belonged to him. Frustration and anger boiled violently beneath her calm exterior. Her eyes welled up with tears, and Dyterium clasped a comforting hand gently on one of her shoulders. "Donnae worry, Kessyface. We'll find you your candle!"


He barely grunted as he rose to his feet. For a man of nearly 60 years he was somehow in reasonably good shape physically, despite the sedentary lifestyle he had adopted over the last couple decades. It was a rare thing for her to see him outside of that chair. "We think we may have moved it... yes..." The crack of noonday sunlight beaming in from the window caught his spectacles, reflecting across the room and serendipitously illuminating a maroon-colored votive on the floor in the far corner. "Yes, we moved it out of the way. There it is!" It was like another adventure for him, and he grinned as though he had rescued the votive from the clutches of some evil or another as he triumphantly handed it to her.


"There's no more need for that now..." He reached out and wiped a solitary tear that had fallen to her cheek and her back shook as she let out a relieved half-chuckle.


"Thanks, Da. I knew if anyone could do it, you could!" she obliged the fantasy, grateful at being able to hold the votive. Nothing meant more to her today than being able to touch something that had once belonged to him. One year to the day, and she needed to honor his death, and his life, appropriately. She wouldn't be staying to visit as long as she normally would. Her father had what he needed to get by for the next two or three days, and she needed to mourn.


"Did we ever tell you ab..." she cut him off with a quick wave of her hand.


"Father, I need to go. I have an appointment that I must keep. It's important. You understand, right?"


As he sat back down in his comfortable leather chair, he looked upset at being interrupted, but she knew if she didn't that he would just keep talking, but now she felt guilty.


"Promise you'll tell me all about it when I come back in a couple days?" she smiled at him.


Appearing relieved at the prospect of being able to tell his story to her another time, he leaned forward in his chair to embrace her before she left. She knew he would forget about it over the next couple of days, let alone the next twenty minutes. She pecked his forehead, wiping away the resulting lipstick smudge. She smiled at him, grabbed a rucksack from the floor, carefully tucking the votive into it, then opened the front door. Turning back to him, she spoke softly, "Goodbye Da. I love you." His head was already lolled back and he was breathing deeply.


Closing the door quietly, she smiled to herself. This was definitely one of the better visits and she would have liked to stay longer, but she wanted to spend as much of the afternoon as possible alone at the lake with her thoughts and memories.

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