And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open]



 
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And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open]

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Iliana Andsvarrsdóttir
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PostSubject: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:09 am

  After about a month in Kattegat, Iliana had finally been prepared to give into being homesick, and made the journey back to Uddevalla. It was a strange feeling, she decided, as the docks and familiar scenery came into view. How often had she stood on that beach, staring out at the rolling waves, wishing she could be anywhere else? And now here she was, barely a month after finally leaving, excited to see it again.
  She wasn’t planning on staying in Uddevalla for very long, but knew there were at least a few people she definitely needed to see. Iliana had already set aside a few pieces of jewelry as gifts for her friends as her way of apologizing for taking them for granted without actually having to apologize. And she was hopeful there’d be enough people willing to buy or trade for her jewelry that making more trips back in the future would be worth it.
  Iliana made her way inside the walls, and couldn’t quite believe the small smile playing at her lips. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She wasn’t supposed to miss Uddevalla. She knew from experience that the walls would soon enough have her feeling claustrophobic, and therefore didn’t bother fighting the pleasant and very mixed feelings she was having. They’d evaporate eventually.
  Smiling and waving to anyone who called out a greeting, she peaked into the jewellery shop to make sure someone new hadn’t taken up residence yet. Iliana didn’t expect it to stay empty forever, but it would be much easier to sell her pieces while there were no other jewellers in the village. Maybe she could work out some kind of deal with the dressmakers while there were no other jewellers available nearby. At least that would be some guaranteed income, and a legitimate reason for her to be coming back and forth.
  She was so distracted while trying to organize her belongings and attempting to figure out how to approach the dressmakers with her idea, that she’d been completely caught off guard when she finally realized someone had walked into the shop. Iliana flinched a bit, spinning around quickly to face whoever had arrived. “You startled me,” she announced, tone slightly accusatory, before she was able to see who it was.

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Brynja Thorstensdóttir
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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:59 pm

Brynja was feeling so restless today, she just had to get away from the farm, away from her twin sister's cheerful voice and easy smile. She stalked off with barely a muttered excuse, not bothering to hide her annoyance. She loved Redra more than anyone else in the world, but that didn't mean it was easy to live with someone so happy all the time. Sometimes, she found it downright exhausting. But despite her annoyance with her sister's naivete, Brynja never lost her temper, never spilled her darkness into the pure, innocent light Redra seemed to radiate. Brynja knew she had been born to heal the wounded and to protect her little sister from the darkness, and those were the only two things she felt good at most times. And even so, sometimes when she was covered in blood to her elbows and reeking of it, she never wanted to see another wounded man again. And there were other times, far more shameful, when all she wanted was to snap at Redra, to tell her the world wasn't all sunshine, that most times it was chaos and darkness and pain. But she never did. She never walked away from a wounded man, and she never hurt her sister.

Sometimes, though, she just needed an escape, just needed to get away from the unbearable darkness, the chaotic dreams that woke her screaming, and how exhausted they left her the next day. Last night she'd had one of her nightmares again. She'd been having them often lately, often enough that there were dark circles under her brown eyes and her skin was paler than usual. She'd treated a wounded man not too long ago, and sometimes that made the dreams worse. She started off on the short walk to town, staring the guards in the face as she walked through the gate. She'd lived in Uddevalla since birth, no one troubled her.

She drew the hood of her blue cloak up, using the shadows it cast to hide the purple under her eyes and the pallor of her skin. Most people in Uddevalla tended to avoid her anyway, had heard of the dreams she had and didn't want to draw her darkness onto themselves. Plus, she wasn't the easiest to get along with. Sometimes she wondered if her lack of many friends was more due to her own acid tongue than the darkness of the gods, because these people still brought their wounded to her, still brought their sick to Redra, and together the two of them had even delivered a few babies. They respected her even as most of them kept their distance. Even in town, most people gave her a wide berth, although they nodded or smiled tentatively in her direction. She did her best to smile back.

She glanced to her side, to the empty building where one of her few friends, Iliana, had sold her jewelry before moving to Kattegat. But then she saw movement through the small window, a flash of familiar red hair. Could she be home for a visit? Brynja pushed open the door, waiting silently for Iliana to realize she wasn't alone. Brynja could be as silent as a shadow when she chose. "You startled me," Iliana accused, turning around, and a broad grin broke out over Brynja's tired face as she pushed her hood back. "I startle most people, actually." She took off her cloak, hanging it on the hook by the door. "Back from Kattegat so soon, Iliana?"
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Iliana Andsvarrsdóttir
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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:52 am

  When she finally got a good look at who was in the shop with her, her mood brightened instantly. She chuckled a bit at Brynja’s first comment, so happy to be around someone whose personality just meshed well with her own; Someone she didn’t have to plaster a friendly smile on or maintain a polite tone for. She could be herself, and not have to worry about her pessimistic and skeptical nature making the people around her uncomfortable.

  At the brunette’s second comment, Iliana couldn’t help the groan that slipped past her lips. She’d been so confident that everything would be different in Kattegat and yet now that she was back, she had very little exciting news to share.

  Leaning back against the sturdy counter behind her, Iliana shrugged at her friend. “Everything’s fine. It’s just so different there. The shop is nice, I found a small house that fits me just fine, everyone’s been… mostly nice enough. People seems to like my things, so that’s important, I suppose. I can definitely charge more in Kattegat than I could here,” she added with a sly smile. Everything was more expensive in Kattegat, which was just find with the redhead, who was used to surviving on very little.

  “How’s everything here? How’s Redra? How’ve you been?” she asked softly, searching Brynja’s face. It was rather dimly lit in the shop, but even from where she stood Iliana could see the younger woman looked exhausted. She knew it would be due more to the nightmarish dreams her friend experienced than anything to do with the farm, or helping the sick and wounded. She still didn’t understand what happened to the twins, but hoped the Gods would release her friends from the dreams that plagued them soon enough. Or at the very least, show them the meaning behind their dreams.

  “Anything interesting happen while I’ve been away?” she added with a smirk. Interesting things rarely happened in Uddevalla. It had always seemed to Iliana as if a permanent dark cloud of gloom hung over the kingdom and all of it’s inhabitants, herself among them. She’d hoped getting out from under that dark cloud would brighten her life a bit, but maybe it was something she’d never be able to escape.

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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:38 pm

Brynja chuckles darkly when Iliana laughs at her first comment, a slightly bitter acknowledgement that her amusement at her own situation was rather on the twisted side. Brynja liked her life just fine, liked that most people left her alone. Attachments led to pain, she'd learned that from her father, constantly grieving for the woman he'd loved. Despite that, Brynja was willing to let down her guard for a very few people whom she was fiercely loyal to, and one of them stood before her now. Iliana understood her pessimism, her darkness, and didn't shy from it like most did. In fact, she shared a similar nature. It made them fast friends, and Brynja had been a little sad by her friend's decision to leave; though she wouldn't admit it nor stand in the way of Iliana making a better life for herself. But already in the small jewelry shop, her friend unexpectedly back in town, the restlessness that drove Brynja to leave her farm was ebbing.

"I'm glad things are going well, but it sounds like a dull place to me. At least you can charge more though, they probably appreciate pretty things more than we do here in this gloomy place." And that was why Brynja would never leave; the gloom and darkness of Uddevalla, the bloodthirsty ways of the people here, suited her just fine. The gods granted her this darkness, this skill at healing the wounded, and placed her in a kingdom she was oddly similar to. Redra was the one misplaced, although maybe Uddevalla needed her brightness to keep from becoming completely unbearable to those that lived there and those that chose to visit. Visitors were few and far between though, and for good reason. The people of Uddevalla keep to themselves. Yes, this gloomy kingdom of rough loners suited Brynja just fine.

She rolls her dark brown eyes at the litany of questions, pretending to be annoyed. "Everything is the same as it's always been. We got a good harvest this year, the gods were generous. And Redra is fine, thankful for the bounty and full of joy, as always." She smirks at her friend. "She misses you--although I'm not sure why." And that, that is why Brynja doesn't have many friends, for remarks like that one. But she knows Iliana won't take it seriously, and will make a similar comment soon enough. "I'm the same as always, gathering my herbs and dreaming my dreams, waiting for another man to need my tending. It breaks up the boredom, at least." Her last comment is highly sarcastic. Brynja loves her mostly-quiet life, the peaceful little farm she shares with her sister, and her work as a healer. In the light of day, even the dreams aren't so bad. And she knows Iliana knows this,knows how grateful Brynja is to the gods for the life she leads.
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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:59 am

  While Brynja was replying to the redhead’s long winded answer about Kattegat, Iliana set about lighting some of the candles along the counter beside her, giving the shop a bit more light, and a warmer glow. Deciding they ought to be a bit more comfortable while they caught up, she pulled two wooden stools out from where they were tucked under the counter, and slid one towards her friend before situating herself.

  Iliana nodded finally. “It’s so boring,” she replied emphatically, as if it was a big secret she’d been holding in. “I thought a place like that would be full of interesting people doing interesting things but apparently not. It’s basically like Uddevalla, to be honest. Less…” she trailed off, trying to think of an appropriate way to phrase what she was thinking, but instead simply made a wide sweeping gesture towards the front of the shop, implying ‘less like the doom and gloom of Uddevalla’ without actually having to say it. She was certain Brynja would know exactly what she meant.

  “A bit less of an obsession with weapons and fighting as well.” She certainly didn’t miss the near constant clanging of swords and axes against each other in the training yard, or the blacksmith’s hammer against his anvil that Uddevalla was practically famous for.

  She nodded along as Brynja said she and Redra and life in general were doing well, and everything was normal. She tilted her head to the side slightly and let out a small ‘aww’ sound when the brunette announced that Redra missed her but let out a sharp gasp, immediately followed by genuine laughter at the insult Brynja leveled at her. Gods, she’d missed her.

  “Me neither, truthfully. Your sister’s far too good for either of us,” she answered with a grin.

  “Speaking of your sister,” she began, reaching across the counter into her traveling bag. Iliana pulled out two bundles, both wrapped carefully in cloth, and handed one to Brynja. “I’d really love to see her while I’m here. I brought you both something.” She had a delicate necklace for Redra and a thick, decorative wrist cuff for Brynja; Her way to say ‘thank you’ for being so kind to her, and apologize for not realizing exactly how important they were to her until she’d left them behind. “It’s just a couple pieces I made after I left. I hope you like it.

  At her friend’s final comment, Iliana smiled again at the sarcasm in her tone. However, after a minute the redhead’s eyes lit up mischievously. “If you’re ever really bored, you could come visit me. We could quietly judge everyone in Kattegat. It would be far more interesting than anything either of us would be doing alone.” Iliana nodded to emphasize her enthusiasm. Brynja probably wouldn’t be too interested at first, but the redhead thought she might be able to convince her eventually.

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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:21 pm

Brynja perches herself on the stool Iliana slides toward her, wrinkling her nose in feigned distaste at all the light from the candles. She holds one pale hand in front of her dark eyes, as if the light hurts her. "You've been in Kattegat for a month and already you're obsessed with candles. What's the matter, can't you see through the gloom anymore?" She drops her hand into her lap with a sardonic little smirk. She only laughs when Iliana tells her that Kattegat is less.... And then makes a sweeping gesture to encompass everything Uddevalla was so known for. Gloomy. Bloodthirsty. Violent. Hard. Because they were, the people of Uddevalla tended to be harsh and strong, pragmatic and practical. There was no room for dreamers here, unless it was the dreaming Brynja did--waking screaming from gods-sent nightmares, the price of her healing skill.

She manages to look offended when Iliana states that Kattegat is less obsessed with weapons. "Sounds like a place that would put me out of a job," she notes. She only laughs at Iliana's shocked gasp, then nods, still smiling, when she says Redra is too good for both of them. "She is. Luckily for us, no one's told her yet. I think they're afraid I'd send spirits after them." That wasn't a skill she possessed, but people in Uddevalla were religious enough not to test someone favored by the gods. Although to be honest, Brynja isn't sure if she's favored or cursed by them, and probably will never know.

She reaches over to take the bundle from Iliana, carefully peeling back the cloth. She makes a little "aahh" of delight when she sees the thick wrist cuff, and slides it happily onto her arm. She admires it for a moment, smiling, before turning her dark eyes back to Iliana. "Thank you, it's beautiful!" She traces a finger over it quickly, then laughs as Iliana continues speaking. "I don't know if Kattegat can handle both of us," she laughs. "But you do know how much I like judging people."
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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:28 am

  Brynja was being mean to her again, and Iliana’s only thought was ‘there’s no one in Kattegat who’ll talk to me like this’. And she was sad about the realization, because this was how she talked to her friends. And she didn’t have any other friends yet. Only awkward acquaintances or potential customers she needed to be polite to. It was miserable.

   “Would you like me to blow them out? That’ll create a nice smoky aroma to join the dark ambiance of the room?” She questioned with a laugh. Iliana had always been so certain that she didn’t belong in this gloomy place, despite her less than cheerful personality, and was finally coming face to face with the fact that maybe she did belong in Uddevalla. Maybe she’d made a mistake in leaving. She was determined to give Kattegat a bit longer before making up her mind, but the whole idea was making her uncomfortable.

   “Well, they don’t have constant weapons training, but I think they’ve got their fair share of idiots who play with swords. Men are men, after all,” the redhead answered with a shrug. When Brynja mentioned Redra, Iliana nodded emphatically. Redra was such a genuinely kind person, she could do better than the pair of them. She laughed at Brynja’s second comment though. “You have to keep using such nonsense to your advantage!” Superstitious people would always be a bit easy to manipulate, and Iliana knew her friend was perfectly happy to use their own ignorance against them.

   Nodding at the brunette’s thanks, Iliana didn’t feel the need to continue talking about it. She wasn’t very good at all that emotional stuff, and hoped Brynja understood what the gift meant to her.

   “Well, it’s just a thought. It would be fun. I caught a glimpse of the Ragnarssons at the Harvest Feast. It was strange, how ordinary they seemed, for such famous people.” Iliana had almost wanted to introduce herself to them, just to see what they were like, but had decided against it. She wasn’t exactly the most outgoing or personable individual, and would rather meet new people in more one-on-one situations.

   “Where is Redra now? At the farm?” she wondered, eager to see her other friend again.

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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:23 pm

Brynja only nods when Iliana offers to blow out the candles, her dark eyes wide and serious. "The light hurts my eyes. I don't know how Redra copes with her bright, happy dreams all the time. It sounds miserable to me." She shudders at the horror of the idea. Brynja knows she was born to defend Redra. She was the elder twin for a reason, she was the one kissed by darkness so Redra could be surrounded by light. She dealt with wounded men, with blood and screaming and agony, while Redra dealt more with illness, with fever-dreams and chills, with death that sometimes came almost gently. Redra comforted herself in knowing that she eased their suffering, even if her patients drifted into death. In Brynja's dealings with it, there was little she could do to ease the pain if they were going to die quickly. Her drugs take a little time to work, and death can come so swiftly to a wounded man. Brynja knows she was born to shield her sister from that darkness. It isn't that Redra's never seen it, because she's helped Brynja with the wounded before, but she just didn't experience it as often.

She quirks an eyebrow at Iliana's remark about idiots who play with swords. "Those idiots are my favorite people--their stupidity puts food in my belly." She grins, stretching her hands out before her. They're mostly clean, no dried blood under her fingernails, only the soil from the garden she and Redra tended. She picks at the dirt idly, Brynja hates when her hands are dirty. She looks up at Iliana when she continues, talking about the Ragnarssons and the Harvest Feast. Brynja had heard about the feast, of course, Queen Aslaug had invited everyone. Redra had wanted to go, but of course Brynja had no interest in such things. She preferred to stay home, in case someone should need those accursed, healing hands of hers. She'd told Redra she could go if she wanted, Iliana would probably be pleased to have her stay with her. She decided she didn't want to go without her sister, and despite Redra's pleading, Brynja refused to change her mind. She felt only a bit guilty about it.

"Famous people still bleed and scream when they're wounded." Her voice was flat, monotone. Brynja cared little for rank or fame, she'd tended enough wounded men to know they mostly behaved the same when they were in pain. Her voice lightens and she nods. "She was in the garden when I left, we can go there if you want. But be warned: she's particularly cheerful today." Brynja rolls her eyes, but only a little. She loves her sister's sunny nature, even if she doesn't understand it.
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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:02 am

  Having been joking about blowing out the candles, it took Iliana moment to realize Brynja was being completely serious. But then her friend explained and the redhead immediately felt guilty, and blew them all out. Fortunately, she hadn’t lit very many, and it only took her a moment. “Better?” she inquired, not wanting the brunette to be uncomfortable. Obviously the redhead had never experienced anything like what Brynja experienced, and she wasn’t sure if blowing them out would really help or if the damage was already done.

  She snorted when Brynja said Redra’s happy dreams sounded miserable. Not many people could make happiness sound like a curse, but Brynja managed it just fine. “It’s probably a good thing you got the bad dreams and she got the good ones, then. If you must have dreams at all.” The Gods were cruel enough to give them these dreams to begin with, but they’d been coping with them for years now. The twin sisters had an inner strength that Iliana was envious of, though she didn’t envy them their dreaming.

  Laughing at Brynja’s comment about idiots, Iliana supposed that was true enough. “Good point. May there always be enough idiots around to keep you fed.

  Iliana watched her friend picking at her nails and thought it strange how they both worked with their hands for a living, but their hands looked so different. Brynja’s were often covered in blood while she tried to save lives, or covered in dirt, while cultivating the herbs she and her sister kept, in order to help people. While Iliana’s were covered in rough calluses but all her hands knew how to do was make jewelry so rich people could show off their wealth. It was a respectable enough profession, but face to face with someone who literally saved lives, Iliana occasionally wondered if she was capable of more.

  “Ha, you’re not wrong,” she replied to Brynja’s nihilistic comment. “I just imagined they’d be… taller? I don’t know.” It didn’t really help that Iliana herself was quite tall, somewhere around 5’10”. It was impossible for many people to be much taller than she was. Even ‘tall’ men were usually less than half a foot taller than her. “I suppose I’d just heard so much about them, I drew an image in my mind and they’re really just ordinary men.” She shrugged. The Ragnarssons didn’t really have much to do with her life, so their lack of extraordinary height wasn’t something she’d waste too much time on in the future.

  When Brynja answered that Redra had been in the garden, Iliana immediately stood up and began to gather up her things. All this reminiscing had her missing her other friend quite a bit, and she was really looking forward to seeing her. “Oh, well maybe I’ll get lucky and some of her cheer will rub off on me? That might make it easier for me to make friends in Kattegat.

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PostSubject: Re: And nobody seems to recognize me in the crowd [Open] Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:12 pm

Brynja only quirks her eyebrows as Iliana blows out the candles, ducking her head to hide her laughter. She'd been half-joking, but even so she was a little relieved the candles were out. Sometimes her dreams gave her headaches that pounded away behind her eyes, and made even the small flames of candles an annoyance. She had one such headache today, although her walk here had helped to ease it. Fresh air always helped. Brynja looks back up at her friend as she speaks, thinking for a moment, and then nods. "That's true, I suppose. You get used to them after a while, mostly." She shrugs, already knowing it was the price she paid for her healing hands. She simply couldn't have one without the other.

She laughs as Iliana wishes there would always be idiots to keep her fed. "I don't see that being a problem, especially not here." She bows her head in a mockery of a toast. "And may there always be enough rich folk to keep you fed.... And for you to judge silently." She grins. She rolls her eyes when Iliana said she expected the Ragnarssons to be taller. "Good luck finding anyone taller than you. There's frost-giant in you, I think." Brynja is short herself, standing a little more than half a foot shorter than Iliana. "Of course they're ordinary men. Some say they're favored by the gods, but they say the same thing about Redra and I. But," she shrugs, "aren't they supposed to be descended from Odin? That makes their ordinariness disappointing, I suppose." Brynja's suddenly in a strange, contemplative mood, the way she gets when she thinks about fate and the gods for too long.

Iliana gathering her things, bustling about the shop, pulls her back to reality. She stands, stretching her lower back. She grabs her cloak and fastens it around her shoulders. "Let's go then. She'll be happy to see you, we've missed you."
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