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Author Topic: Sullied Snow (Ian)  (Read 561 times)

Sullied Snow (Ian)
« on: March 18, 2018, 08:15:52 PM »
Winter, 831ish

“We know what your mother does!” Arkin just had time to raise his eyebrows in a question before one of the other cadets, a tall boy with hair the color of a dull coin, sucker punched him in the mouth. The metal taste of blood filled his mouth and Arkin was knocked back a few steps - though he managed to stay on his feet despite the ground being slick with ice and slush.

Arkin had been outside, simply walking from the girls barracks back to the boys in the fading light of dusk. Anka had asked for his help with some issues she and a few of the other girls were having. It was a simple remedy and he had passed it to her through one of the windows. He had been crunching his way back through the snow when the two boys had cornered him.

“We know what she does,” the boy said again.

He knew what the boy was talking about. It was a well-known secret what his mother and grandmother would do for girls and women who needed a certain kind of help. Most people who knew were fairly neutral on it. Some were very much in agreement it was a needed service. And some were very very opposed. Some violently it seemed.

Arkin opened his mouth to say something in return but the other boy, shorter with a stockier build, grabbed him and twisted his arms behind his back. Arkin could not help but grunt in pain as he felt his muscles pull unnaturally. Before he could make any other noise, the taller boy socked him in the stomach. Arkin felt the air rush out of his lungs and the bile rise up his throat - blood dribbling from his mouth.

Unable to get words out, Arkin braced himself for the next punch while struggling as best he could against the grip of the boy holding his arms.

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: Sullied Snow (Ian)
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2018, 08:58:19 PM »
Despite it being bitterly cold, Ian chose to step out from the dormitory, to breathe deep the frigid air and to stalk the grounds-turned-tundra.  Even now, after some months of training, he found it difficult to settle in the barracks or to stay in one spot for any great length of time.  Legs stretched, he was about to return to the warmth of his bunk when a voice drifted to his ear, snagging his attention.  Rounding a corner, he saw a fight had erupted - except it was less of a fight and more of an ambush.

We know what she does.

Ian knew too, if rumours were to be believed.  Arkin, a shy boy with a gentle smile and kind eyes, was the son of an apothecary - one able and willing to stop the swell in a woman’s belly.  It was a divisive subject, perhaps, but one Ian held close to his heart.  It was no lucky chance that he had remained an only child all these years.

The angular cadet from Krolva didn’t need much of an excuse to brawl; he was in an almost perpetual state of being braced to break jaws.  Giving no warning, he charged at the three boys, churning up snow as he focused down the one who now drew back his fist, preparing to strike Arkin again.  Ian slammed into him bodily, knuckles connecting with the assailant’s cheekbone.  The cadet staggered, slipped and fell onto the icy ground.  Seizing on the window of opportunity, without a moment’s hesitation, Ian lifted his brought his boot down - hard - into the prone boy’s gut.  Judging by the sharp, ragged, breathless gasp, the air had been kicked clean of his lungs.

“You’re next, you cowardly fuck…!” Ian snarled, his expression fierce as he turned.  Adrenaline spiked his blood, his heart beating solidly in his bony chest.  It made him feel alive, righteous, unstoppable.  True to the verbally-abusive assessment of his character, the boy who held Arkin in place gave a yelp of surprise and fear.  Releasing the apothecary’s son, he forcefully shoved his newly freed captive in Ian’s direction.  Grey eyes widened and, although he could not say for sure whether Arkin would lose his footing or not, he opened his arms, his fists unfurling, ready to catch the bleeding blond.

Signature by the wonderful SilverWings! <3

Re: Sullied Snow (Ian)
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 06:08:17 PM »
Arkin cried out when Ian slammed into the boy who was about to strike him. Shock and gratitude coursed through him even as the shorter boy shoved him towards Ian. As he was pushed Arkin lost his footing and stumbled into Ian. Several inches shorter than the other cadet, Arkin slammed into his chest, feet sliding on the icy ground.

Thankfully Ian was able to steady him and Arkin struggled to stand semi-upright.  A smear of blood streaked Ian’s coat as Arkin stood. His stomach and jaw hurt but he was in much better shape than he would be had Ian not come to his aid.

He knew Ian from hanging around Nanaba and Anka. He knew the boy had a reputation, but he trusted what Anka and Nanaba said above that. If they liked him then Arkin was so inclined as well.

Coughing, Arkin took an unsteady step back and raised his eyes to Ian's. He forced smile and said, "I think I had them right where I wanted..." The tone of his voice indicated a weak attempt at a joke and after he tried to take a deep breath, Arkin doubled over in a fit of coughing.

"I think maybe back to the barracks is a good idea." He coughed again and spit out blood.

"Thank you." Arkin reached out and took Ian's hand, looking at his knuckles, "I think we could both do with some bandages. I can handle that."

He offered Ian another smile and forced himself to stand straighter, even though it hurt. "It's cold." He looked up at the sky for a moment. "Thank you again."

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: Sullied Snow (Ian)
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2018, 10:49:42 AM »
Those precious few seconds allowed Ian to brace, preparing for the moment Arkin slammed into him.  Immediately, he wrapped his arms around the injured cadet, looking to steady him, the frozen ground icy and treacherous beneath their boots.  Grey eyes, painted with mistrust, sought the attackers, thinking another assault would be incoming, but they had turned to leave.  They threw out curses over their shoulders as they skulked off, their words unkind and chosen to cut, but somehow shapeless to Ian’s ears.  He was more concerned about cadet in his arms.

“You’re all right,” Ian breathed as Arkin found his footing, though he had no way of knowing for sure it was true.  As the cadet stepped back, Ian kept a steadying hand on his shoulder.  The humour - weak though it might be - was a promising sign.  ​“Ha,” he breathed at the jest, less an actual laugh and more an attempt at amusement, the ghost of a smile on his lips.  That ghost soon fled, his expression shifting into one of undisguised concern as Arkin doubled over, coughing hard, blood painting the snow.

“Yeah, sounds like a good plan,” Ian agreed, unresisting as Arkin took his hand to examine his knuckles.  They skin was split and bleeding, new wounds opening over old.  ​“S’okay.  Those guys…”  They don’t get it, were the words that almost followed.  But perhaps it was too presumptuous.

Wordlessly, Ian offered Arkin his arm, just as snow began to fall.  He was right, it was cold.  Oddly enough, it was almost peaceful too, the season oblivious to the chaos and violence that had just transpired.  ​“You don’t have to thank me,” Ian murmured quietly as they began walking slowly back towards the barracks, his assertion punctuated by a shrug of his narrow shoulders.  ​“I mean… your mother does good work.”

Signature by the wonderful SilverWings! <3

Re: Sullied Snow (Ian)
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2018, 11:52:13 PM »
“You’re all right,” Ian breathed as Arkin found his footing.

The words brought Arkin comfort. He knew that if Ian had not come battling around the corner, he would be in very bad shape. Not weak, but not a true fighter just yet - Arkin wondered how far those two boys would have taken thing. Far.

He took another look at Ian's knuckles, noting the old scars. Scars on scars could cause some pain if the skin became too tight and hard. After he patched Ian up, he’d give him a cream to keep the area reasonably soft.

His side hurt and he leaned on Ian a little as they walked back to their barracks.

“S’okay.  Those guys…I mean… your mother does good work.”

Anka was silent for a moment, pausing as they walked and laughing. Good work. Like she made really nice hats. He knew what the taller boy meant. Arkin decided at the moment he liked Ian.

“She really does. It almost always works and I don’t she’s had a girl die from it in..oh...since before I was born.” He resumed walking, still holding onto Ian for balance. His legs were still shaking and his left ankle was starting to throb.

“Some people don’t...get it,” Arkin added as they reached the door. “When you already have six kids and another mouth the feed could mean being homeless..or the end of your career...what else can you do?” Arkin had seen many military women pass through to the backroom.

“Come on,” Arkin said quietly as they entered, not wanting to disturb anyone who was starting to bed down.  His bunk was near the back and he gestured for Ian to follow him. Once at his bunk, he pulled a large box from under his bed and opened. Inside he had crammed as many remedies as he could. There was another box filled with linen and gauze and he pulled that out as well.

Lighting a candle, Arkin examined Ian’s hand again, “You’ve been in lots of fights,” he observed. “Did you win most of them?” He thought for a moment before picking a tin filled with a salve that smelled lightly of mint and rosemary. Setting that aside, he took picked a linen from the box and dipping it in a glass of water that was sitting by his bed, began to gently clean the cuts off.

"You're friends with Nanaba and with Anka."

"But even yet I have so many miles to go."

Re: Sullied Snow (Ian)
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2018, 11:23:20 AM »
What a novelty it was to trudge through snow and not have slush soak through his socks, or have the chill gnaw at his feet.  The winter coats the cadets had been issued, as well as the boots, were a wonder to the boy from Krolva.  Others, like Anka, who had similarly felt the bite of poverty growing up, also saw the value in such simple, everyday things.

The sound of Arkin’s laughter brought a quizzical expression to Ian’s face, an uncertain smile playing on his lips.  Although he wasn’t entirely sure what was funny, he had to admit the warm sound of Arkin’s laughter cracked the ice and cheerfully chipped away at the tension left in the assault’s wake.  It made for a pleasant shift.

“That’s some track record,” Ian remarked with quiet sincerity, as they made their way back towards the sleeping quarters.  Content to support his fellow cadet, he allowed Arkin to lean on him and to also set the pace they walked at.  For a moment he was silent, considering Arkin’s words now that all laughter had faded.  A lot could go wrong on an apothecary’s table and even the most practised herbalist or healer might fail to stem any resulting haemorrhaging.  That Arkin’s mother went so long without a fatality was remarkable and spoke of her invaluable skill and experience.

“It’s a difficult decision,” Ian agreed, thinking of his mother and the other women of the house.  Some of them grieved every single self-inflicted loss, their hearts haunted by the phantom family they could never have.  ​“But you’re right, for some there really isn’t another choice.” 

Dark thoughts and a cold, rising wind made him especially grateful for the looming door that led to their quarters.  Inside they went, where warmth draped around them like a tangible thing, the notable change in temperature sending a shiver along Ian’s spine.  Dutifully he followed Arkin to his bunk, largely ignoring the cadets he passed on the way.

Reaching the spot that Arkin had claimed as his own, Ian’s grey eyes followed the boy’s movements, watching with interest as he pulled a large box from beneath the bed.  Once it was opened, all manner of remedies were revealed; tinctures, salves, powders, draughts, lotions, tablets.  To Ian, who only had a basic grasp of herbalism, these were the tools of a secret, botanical art beyond his understanding, lending them a certain magic.

His wintery gaze was still fixed on the treasure trove when Arkin took his hand, attentively examining the scars and splits along the knuckles.  How odd that he suddenly felt shy.  Whether this feeling was due to the scrutiny - as though his hands could give away secrets - or the unfamiliar intimacy Ian couldn’t say for sure. 

You’ve been in lots of fights.

It wasn’t a question, but a question did follow.

“These days I win most of ‘em,” Ian answered, hoping it didn’t sound as though he was bragging.  It had been a long road and, in his earlier youth, he limped home the loser more often than not.  As with everything else, fighting was a skill that took practice.  ​Besides, while most of the cadets he regularly brawled with were bigger and broader than he was, they fought for sport, or for the sheer spectacle of it, lacking some indescribably primal and fierce desire to win, to survive.

Falling silent again, Ian simply watched the blond at his craft as he chose and set aside a herbal salve.  Arkin then gently began to dab at his knuckles with a clean, damp linen. 

Another statement, spoken with quiet assurance, about Nanaba and Anka.  It occurred to Ian that Arkin must see much of what went on around him.  Clearly he was a thoughtful, compassionate boy - and one who paid attention.  ​“I am,” Ian confirmed, though there was never any doubt.  ​“You speak to them much yourself?  They’re both good people.  Trustworthy.”  And though he did not immediately say so aloud, it seemed to him that Arkin was cut from the same cloth as they were.  Glancing up from watching the boy’s gentle, practised hands at work, Ian offered his companion a small, almost guilty smile.  ​“You’re the one who was spittin’ blood and, somehow, here you are lookin’ out for me.  You must be your mother’s son.”

Signature by the wonderful SilverWings! <3


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