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Seven children are destined to save Pruul and shake the traditions of the territory to their very core. In response, factions have broken the peace of a previously unified territory and violence has erupted across the dessert. It is a battle between the past and the future, the young and the old, and blood won’t stop seeping into the sand.
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Author Topic: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.  (Read 803 times)

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Offline Rania al-Abd

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Set just a few days after the events of These Sirocco Winds Ahead

Trigger warning: Mentions of rape, violent imagery, swearing


Rania slipped her burnoose over her head and slipped out from the side alley beside her bakery.  It was still very early in the morning but that didnt’ bother her.  She was used to the early morning hours that she had adopted and honestly she enjoyed the cool quiet of the pre-dawn when the sky was just barely adopting the faint blue of the approaching daytime.  It was quiet and peaceful on the streets of Onn, with only the faint sound of a few other early risers piercing the air.

This morning she had a special mission to attend to.  Onn was being strangled from the inside.  Only days now since the attack on the city and the siege of the monstrous creatures outside the city wall continued.  Just the other day some reckless fool decided he was going to make an attempt to get past the blockade and seek assistance, though no one was certain where he was going to go.   Rania had overheard he got as far as the nearest dunes before being caught in the jaws of a small sandworm.  Frankly she wasn’t sure how any of them could be described as small, but she hadn’t seen some of the adults during the carnage and was glad for that.

She didn’t have to travel far, her destination was only a short few minutes walk with there being no traffic to impede her pace.  Already she could smell the aroma of baking bread on the air as she made a few turns that brought her to the back of the bakery.  She knocked on the back door and waited patiently.

Several minutes passed before she knocked again, this time hearing the heavy footsteps of the proprietor who threw open the door with a barked, “What?!”

Rania gave her warm, friendly smile. “Good morning Lord Sabbah, I am sorry to disturb your morning preparations but I have some things to discuss with you if I might borrow a moment of your time?”

He gave her a disgruntled look, “and you are?”

Rania brushed her hands on her burnoose, holding out one, “I am sorry, I am Rania al-Abd and I run the Dessert Flour a few streets over near the Izar Quarter.”  At the mention of the Mineborn residence, she saw a deeper scowl cross his face.  “I promise this will only take a few minutes and in recompense, I can help you with some kneading?”  He turned and motioned her to follow without another word and she scurried into the shop.   The smell of dried spice, yeast and baking bread was potent here.  Rania had always enjoyed the sweeter side of baking but breads what she had come here to discuss.   He pointed her to a lump on the counter and she quickly shed her burnoose, placing it up on a peg in the wall before reaching for a handful of flour to cover her hands and set to task. 

After a few minutes of watching her, he grunted something that might have been approval and reached for the large wooden dowel that he used to move and retrieve the loaves already in the oven.  “I know you didn’t come all this way to help me make my morning loaves, so what do you want?”

Rania began form carefully equal smaller balls from the larger, “Well, I’m sure you are well aware of the crisis in the city.   I’m going around to all the bakeries in the city and see how many are willing to join in my venture.  With the city surrounded by the Sandworms, food is going to be a major issue soon enough and when people are hungry, they begin to do irrational and violent things.  The last thing we need in such close quarters is for rioting and looting to break out and we both know that we will be some of the first places hit.

I was hoping that if we were all in agreement and we presented to the Council, we might be willing to forgo selling in our shops and instead provide our supplies and services to making sure everyone in the town eats in exchange for compensation when the gates are able to open again and supplies are available again.”


He reached over and snatched the small loaf that she had been shaping out of her hands, “Are you daft?!  You are expecting every bakery in the city to agree to NOT get paid for however long this mess continues under the hope that someday the Council will repay us for lost wages?  Mother Night girl, did you hit your head in the attack or something?  No sane man or woman is going to agree to this.” 

Rania stood her ground, “If the Council agrees…”

He snarled, “The Council.  The same council who thought the best idea for Pruul was to turn over all our lives to a bunch of half-baked sand fleas who didn’t know what sunlight was but for a few years ago.  The children of thieves and murderers and who knows what else and who should have been dropped down the deepest mine shaft they could find when they were born to save us all this mess.  Been nothing but trouble since those whelps showed up in town.  Buildings almost collapsing, attacks at our temples and then the whole mess with Adramelech that left the way open for that flying rat who just MADE himself our Voice and brought with him that pale foreign halfbreed…”

Rania stepped away from the counter at the vitriol that spewed from his mouth, his face getting redder and more infuriated as his list of complaints grew and grew.
 
“... and now we are locked in with whatever the Darkness allowed to live from the sandworm attack, an attack that was probably caused by those cursed Mineborn as well and you want us to hope that someday someone will remember to toss a few marks our way?”   He stared down at her.  You and your whole idea is damned foolish.  I’ll tell you what I’M going to do.  I’m going to bake and I’m going to sell and those who have the money will pay for my food and those who don’t, well I guess the Darkness didn’t want them to live.  Certainly wouldn’t help to have less mouths around that need feeding, and that’s how we’re going to wait out this siege.”

Rania stood, her mouth opened and shocked at how callous he was being when a sound behind them caught her ear and she turned her head at the same time as the baker when a small, frail figure came through the back door, carrying two water laden buckets on a carry pole across his tiny shoulders.  The dim light coming in the door behind him obscured his face.

“Boy, don’t you drop a single drop of that water or I’ll give you a sound lashing for each one and I won’t spare the switch,” barked the baker and Rania saw the boy’s feet shuffler nervously on the floor as he carefully stepped closer.  Rania’s eyes widened in recognition as the slender Landen boy she and Omid had met during the Worm attack stepped into view and very carefully placed the buckets on the floor before him.   

The baker stepped forward, looking down into the buckets before his large hand swung out, striking the child in the face and sending him flying.  Rania gasped in shock as the man bellowed, “You got dirt in the water!  How am I going to make decent bread with dirty water.”  The child crumpled in the corner, pulling his thin legs up to his chest in an effort to shield himself from the kick that must have become commonplace for such an offense.

Rania stepped forward between the man and the boy, holding her hands up.  “Stop it!  He’s just a child and,” she looked down at the bucket, “that’s not dirt.  It’s a spot in the bucket!”

“Mind your own business bitch,” he snarled and stepped up towards her.  He was certainly taller than her and in terms of bulk and build she had no chance against him, but opportunity gave her the glimpse of a Yellow jewel at his neck.   She threw up a double Purple Dusk shield that extended up and around the young boy, glaring up at her attacker.  “You will NOT strike this boy again.”

He smirked and she felt the push of Yellow slamming against her.  Her mind began to form the call for Omid and stopped herself.  She could handle this, had to handle this herself.  If she let this man see her as weak, then he would come at her again and again. 

“I’ll see you brought to charges before Lady Elenor and no matter what you think about her, she is still the Queen of your Clan Warlord.  I highly doubt she will welcome the news that you have been abusing your son…”

“That whelp isn’t of my get, orphan boy that I took in of my own charity.  Been nothing but a drain on my time, food and patience for the last four years.  Dumb and stupid and Landen to boot.”    Rania snarled, something hot and angry uncurling deep inside her stomach from a place that ached and begged for something that she could never ever have and here was this man abusing the blessing and privilege.

“I’m taking him with me,” she said cooly and shoved him back with a pulse of Purple Dusk.  Not enough to do him any true harm, but strong enough that he hit the wall with enough force to leave him stunned.  “If you dare come after me or him, if I even catch the faintest whiff of your stench anywhere near us, I’ll report you to the city guard, the Queen of the Sabbah, the Mineborn Council and the Bali.”

Tourak, apparently having recovered from his blow was suddenly at her side.  “Yeah!  She has a friend who is a Red Jeweled Prince and I KNOW he won’t be happy when I tell him you called her a bitch!”   Rania gave a silent, exasperated sigh.   No, it would NOT be good to rile up that side of Omid’s temper.  To say he wouldn’t be happy was an understatement.  If this shop stood when the dust settled would be a testament to how much control he was able to retain.  Omid was a calm, thoughtful and meticulous planner, but when he was angry he could be just as rash as any hot blooded Blood Male.

Rania glanced down at Tourak, holding out her hand in a gesture that requested quiet as she kept her eyes on the other baker who was already back on his feet eyeing her warily.  “Oh, you’re THAT one.  I’ve heard about you, the Mineborn whore.  Yeah, been the talk of quite a few, how you’ve been spreading your legs for those two brothers ever since they came crawling out of the sands.  Got yourself a nice little shop now paid by the coins they probably throw on your bed when they’re done with you.”  Rania felt her spine stiffen but she ignored the comments as she moved her hand to Tourak’s shoulder. 

“Let’s go,” she said to him gently, guiding him out towards the door.  She might go visit the other bakeries later or another day though she suspected word about this encounter would spread faster than she could intercept and she would find little or no cooperation for her venture after this.

“Go then, take the leech with you,” she heard from behind them as she started walking away, his voice rising with each step she took. “I’ll be seeing you again real soon.”  She suppressed the shudder of foreboding that crept up her spine as she ignored itching feeling along her wrists as she pushed Tourak out into the alleyway with a soft whispered, “Don’t say anything, just keep walking.”

The walk back to her shop was heavy and silent, Rania’s mind whirling with the sequence of events that had just occurred and Tourak slinking behind her with nary the sound of his steps on the stone and dust.  It wasn’t until they were safely in the back of her shop did she let out a long deep breath and relax the tension in her whole body.  Tiredly, she looked at Tourak and motioned him over to a chair, “I think I have something we can eat already ready, though it’s from yesterday.  I didn’t start on the day’s baking just yet.”   She returned with a honey coated roll and a glass of water for him, and a hot cup of coffee for herself. “Eat and if you need more, just ask.”

He stared down at the food, hands pressed on his leg as he made no attempt to eat the offered food.  Rania blew and sipped on the hot liquid in her own cup, letting the aroma help wash away the remaining chill of fear that had built up along her spine and had finished almost half the contents before he finally picked up the roll and began to nibble on it.   The nibble turned into a full out ravenous devouring and Rania went and grabbed two more of the rolls, placing them before him as she sat and smiled distractedly contented at his appetite.

He was half way through the third roll before he looked up at her, his eyes angry and suspicious and his mouth half full of food, “So what now?  You gonna toss me out on the street?”

Rania shook her head, “No.  That wasn’t my intention,” she began and he glared at her.  “I ain’t no baby.  I can do just fine on the street, got my friends to help me.  Would have gone sooner but he always catches me when I run away and the beating was worse than usual so I stopped trying.”   Rania felt that same fury rise up the back of her neck.

“What if, “ she looked around for a moment, “what if you stayed here with me?”


Offline Rania al-Abd

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #1 on: Sep 24, 18, 02:31:44 PM »
He glared up at her, “So you can have a slave too? Cause that’s all you Blood think Landens are good for, beating up and working like dogs.”  He dropped the rest of his roll on his plate and pushed back his chair standing up.  “Well I don’t care if you are a lady or a girl or whatever, cause I ain’t no slave.   No more beatings and no more whippings and no more nights going so hungry my belly was trying to eat me from the inside out.   And you can send that Red jeweled man after me if you want, but I am small and I can hide real good.”

Rania held up her hands, her face looking pale, “Please Tourak, that’s not what I’m asking you.” His small thin face flared with anger, a righteous fury that only made Rania desire to storm back to that other bakery and kick the other man in a few tender places.  “I don’t care if you are Landen.”

“LIES!” he shouted. “Nobody cares about Landen.  We are just simple folk and can’t do craft and don’t get no shiny rocks when we are old enough.  That one, he told me all the time that I was lucky that he took me in when my parents were killed cause no one wanted any of us, especially not just a Landen.  Treated the rats that ate his goods better than he treated me, on account that I was not special and cause my parents.”   Rania watched with her heart aching in sympathy as his hands clenched into fits.

“They got killed and it wasn’t their fault, none of that stuff was their fault. Just cause we was Geiba, same as those others who had jewels and had all the money and sold all the salt.  Just cause that Queen girl said all the Geiba had to be punished but they didn’t do nothing wrong.”  His lip quivered while his face still blazed with anger.  “They just took care of the wagons for the trade is all, fixin’ them when they broke and stuff.  They didn’t know, didn’t put that scary Queen down in the mines and they got killed.”  His voice quivered and Rania rose from her seat, a hand reaching out for him.

“NO!  You don’t touch me,” he shouted, sniffling his way through angry tears that fell down his dirty cheeks.  “You act all nice but you is just like all them, pretending to be nice so that I get comfortable and think that maybe you will keep me, and maybe it will be better and then I get hit, or starved, or…”  he sniffed loudly.

“Tourak,” she said gently, pulling back her hand and taking her seat, keeping her hands folded on the table where he could see them.  “I am so sorry about what happened to your parents, what happened to you.”  Her eyes grew sad, “My parents were killed by raiders when I was just a little older than you.  They took me to the desert and….hurt me.  I was found by a very nice man but I remember how scared I was.”

“I ain’t scared,” he spat.

“No, but I was.  I hid under my bed every time he came to bring me something to eat and I used to scream so much if he tried to touch me.  It took me months before I realized he wasn’t really going to hurt me, almost a year before I even let him hug me. So I understand…”

Tourak looked at her, his eyes drifting up and down, “You don’t look like nobody hurt you, always so happy and smiling, and giving little kids cookies and treats.”

Rania slipped off the cuffs she had specially made to wrap around her wrists and placed them on the table, holding out her arms on the surface so he could see the white pattern of rope scars that still marred her flesh.  “I keep them hidden, but they are always there and I smile because the man who became my father reminded me that there is still good people in the world, more than there are bad.”

Rania returned the cuffs to their place, watching the small boy who studied her hands who didn’t seemed very moved by her declaration.  Finally, he muttered disgruntledly, “Alright I’m listening.  Not saying I’ll stay, but say your peace.”   His fierce stubborn expression made her want to beam but she figured that he might take that as an insult so she nodded.

“Business is picking up, and I could use some help with things, but I don’t have enough profit yet to hire someone on full time, at least not at the wages that would be expected.  And I don’t have enough time in the day to handle deliveries and other errands, not if I have to keep up with orders and customers.  I could use someone who is clever, and knows the city much better than I do.  Someone who might know exactly the people who are interested in buying my wares.   I can’t pay full wages, but I can offer some money and room and board.   There’s a small room off the storage room that you could make into your own room.  It’s just big enough for a bed and a chest for your things.”

Tourak crossed his skinny arms over his chest, narrowing his eyes, “Ok, running errands and making deliveries.  What else?”

Rania looked around, “Maybe some help cleaning up in here, and if you’d like, I can teach you baking.   That is, if you have an interest in learning a trade?”

His scowl deepened but the anger in his eyes shifted to shrewdness.  “No lock on my door, I wanna come and go as I please.  I got friends to see too.  And I wanna be able to bring them stuff to eat, some of them… they can’t always count on hot food.”  Rania started to speak but he cut her off, “Nothing much, cause you gots a business to run and stuff.  Maybe day old bread or treats that don’t sell?  Cause fancy people don’t wanna pay for old food but hungry kids, they will eat anything.  I know.”   He snarled silently, “Old man Kirak there, he beat me real bad once when he caught me stealin bad bread to bring them, but there weren’t nothin bad about it - just some loaves he let burn cause he was drinkin and fell asleep.  Just cut off the black parts and its still good.”

Rania nodded, “That seems very fair.  Think some of your friends might want to earn a couple of marks too?  There’s going to be times when I can’t do heavy lifting and those bags of flour and sugar can be pretty weighty.”    Tourak flexed his arm with a grin, ‘I’m plenty strong, don’t look it though but I can lift them bags.” 

Rania gave him a warm smile, “I have no doubts, but when my big shipments come in, there’s a lot to do.  I figure, I can offer a couple of marks and a hot meal in exchange for hard work?”   He thought it over a moment before nodding.

“Gotta talk it over with Barin and Kho, they’re the leaders and stuff, but if they think it's okay, I’ll ask around.”   The name caught Rania’s attention. 

“Barin?  Naya’s boy?”  She nodded her head to the wall that divided her bakery from the ice cream shop next door.  He nodded.

“Yep, that’s the one.  He’s a good sort, don’t care about me being Landen.  Looks after all of us, especially the littles and the girls.  He’s probably gonna have some things to say about me stayin here and stuff.”

Rania grinned, “So is that a yes?”

He blinked in surprise, realizing what he said and gave her a wary look, “It’s not a no….it’s a lets see.  You’ll probably change your mind in a few days anyway.”

Rania let him get away this argument for now before crossing her own arms and giving him an equally studious look, “I do have two more conditions though.”   His eyes shifted even more warily.

“What?”

Rania sniffed slightly, “First of all, this is a bakery, can’t have dirty hands and feet around my food.  So you keep clean, that means washing up as much as you have to, starting now.  I’ll see about getting you something decent to wear besides those hideous rags.”  She motioned to the thin articles of clothing that hung from his thin frame.  “And secondly I want to make sure you get in your lessons.  Reading and writing and sums.  Even if you don’t want to learn my trade, these are things you’ll need to get in good when you are older and need work.  And if you want to learn another trade, you come speak to me and we’ll make sure you can get in lessons in between your work here.  Deal?”

She offered her hand and he stared down at it like it might jump up and bite him, then quickly gripped one of her fingers, shook her hand briskly and dropped her hand just as fast.  “Fine,” he muttered and she wasn’t sure what part he was less pleased about, the shaking of her hand or the learning of lessons.

Rising from her chair, she motioned him towards the back room. “Go ahead and look things over.   Wash up and I’ll be back soon with something clean to wear.  If you’re hungry, feel free to eat another roll and if you’re feeling up to it, start a fire under the oven so I can start baking when I get back?”  He looked from her to the back of the room and then nodded, shuffling back behind the counter.

Rania slipped out the back door and hurried through the back alley to the doorway she knew led up to Naya and Elham’s apartments, having seen them enter and exit numerous times.  Knocking gently, and then realizing how early it still was and that they might not have yet risen, she regretted that move until she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.

When the door opened, she gave her brightest and most apologetic smile, “I’m so sorry for disturbing your household this early, but I seem to have found myself with a new helper who is in desperate need of clothes that would fit a small boy.  I don’t suppose you have anything your boys have outgrown that might suit?  Just until I can get him some of his own things?”


Offline Nayarreh al-Sabbah

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #2 on: Sep 24, 18, 04:30:28 PM »
Naya had just gotten through the morning regiment of making ice cream, they boys and Salma helping chop up fruit and melt chocolate (something Salma always volunteered for, especially the licking-the-bowl part) when the knock came to the back door, the one that could only be accessed by the alley behind the shops on this row, where the trash bins were kept out of the heat by reed sunshades strung between the buildings.

Drying her hands on her apron and nodding to Yari to take Salma into the house, she went to the door and opened it to find Rania from the bakery next door. Naya's eyebrows scrunched together at the look on the other woman's face. "Don't worry about the early hour. I've been up working for a couple hours already. What can I do for you?"

Naya liked Rania well enough, despite her unfortunate connection to the Mineborn. She seemed to have a decent head and heart though, so she tried not to judge her too harshly for her associations and seemed to receive the same consideration in return. However, her brow furrowed even further as Rania requested some clothes to borrow.

"A new helper? How little? I'm sure I have something."

As Rania told the story, she felt her elder son's presence at her shoulder get bigger and bigger until finally he snapped, "I need to talk to him right the fuck now."

Naya rolled her eyes. "Barin, we do not swear at friends. You may ask Lady Rania to talk to her newest lodger and helper, but you will not go barging into her private spaces."

Her son growled but it was directed at Naya, not Rania so that was something. "I'll go get clothes. Then we're going to talk." He said, this time directed at the baker. He turned on his heels and stalked towards the house.

"Sorry about him, Rania. He's... protective of his Geiba cousins. He does a lot for them -thinks we don't know how much but he's not nearly as subtle as he thinks he is. Thank you, for taking one of them in and out of such a bad situation. If the baker gives you any trouble feel free to call on us. Barin might be a pain in the ass to deal with, as are all teenage Warlord Princes, but he protects those who protect his people, always."

Before she could say much more, Barin reappeared with a folded stack of clothing. "Yari was Tourok's size two years ago, these will fit him. Mom, he can keep them, right? Salma doesn't like boy's clothes so it's not like we can use them-"

"Of course he can. Why don't you go over with Rania and make sure they fit fine, and let your cousin know he's welcome over here any time. Yari could do with the company of other Landen. He always does accuse us of being horribly overdramatic." She smiled warmly and looked at Rania. "He's not wrong. Honestly, I think that Landen should run all the infrastructure of the city. So much less ego and dramatics isn't that right Barin."

"I dunno, Yari has quite the attitude when it comes to 'being right'. Just because he's better with his numbers doesn't mean he's smarter than me."

Naya patted her son's cheek. "Don't begrudge your brother pride in his achievements, but I give you permission to stick out your tongue at him any time you think he's bragging."

Barin grinned, "Nah, I'll let Salma do that. Come on, I'll bring these over."




Offline Rania al-Abd

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #3 on: Nov 17, 18, 09:47:55 PM »
Barin al-Sabbah
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Rania blinked in surprise at Barin’s outburst and took a half a step backwards at the boy’s anger.  For a moment she thought she might have done something wrong and watched as the young Warlord Prince bristled at his mother’s insistence at manners.  She nodded and gave him a smile, “Thank you Barin, I really appreciate it and yes I will certainly speak to you about anything you wish.“  She turned her attention back to Naya as the boy ran off.
 
“It’s quite alright, I can understand and I’m very glad he is that protective of them.  From what I’ve gathered from the very little Tourak has shared with me, he needs that sort of protective hand and probably they all do.”  She remembered when the Geiba had been punished for their crimes and their misuse of the Mines and at the time she had mourned the loss of a whole tribe of her once Clan, especially the women and children who had been innocent in the most direct of dealings.  She had always thought the judgement far too harsh but she understood in a way and had things turned out differently, she might not have had Omid in her life and she would still working as a maid in Little Citadel and would never have experienced love and true happiness.
 
She laughed a little at Naya’s assessment of teenage Warlord Princes, “ Having seen the trouble my own brother got up to when he was Salma’s age and then the behavior of … well another Warlord Prince not much older than Barin, you have my utmost sympathy.  At least Barin has your loving but firm hand to guide him to make smarter decisions.”  Rania gave the other woman an appreciative smile.  “He’s very lucky to have you.”
Barin’s return had her stopping from further discussion and she took the clothing from Barin’s hands.  “This is most generous of you, please make sure to thank Yari for this.”   She nodded at Naya’s suggestion.  “Oh please come down, I know Tourok would appreciate the company.  He doesn’t trust much, not that I blame him given what I saw about that other horrid man,” and her gentle face pursed hard lips at the thought.  “I really want to help him. I can’t stand to see a child hurt.”
 
Giving Naya another grateful smile, she motioned for Barin to follow her.  “Thank you again Naya for everything.  Please extend my invitation to Yari as well.  I don’t want Tourok to feel like he’s gone from one cage to another.  I want him to feel comfortable and free to see any of his cousins whenever he wishes.”   She turned to Barin, “Perhaps you can let me know which lessons you attend and I can make sure he joins you if your instructor will allow.  I don’t want him to fall behind in his learning, as I’ve already told him.  I don’t think the thought of school pleased him much.”   She had continued talking as she and Barin walked down the stairs and back towards the rear entrance of her bakery.
 
Once inside she found Tourok in the small room that she had offered him to stay in, freshly washed with a towel wrapped around him looking uncomfortably nervous.  She smiled gently at the boy and stepped aside for Barin.   “Your cousin wanted to come and speak with you a while.  I’ll leave you two alone while I tend to the morning baking.  If you get hungry, just come find me.”   She slipped away, closing the door behind her but not completly, leaving it open a hairs width to let the boys know she hadn’t closed them in at all.
 
Barin looked around the room, making a sweeping judgement of the accommodation but not wanting to make any comments he just sat on the bed, turning his scowling face to his cousin.  “Are you ok?  Did the bastard hurt you?”
 
Tourak shrugged and looked away, “Naw, I’m tough.”
 
Barin snorted, “Well yeah, I know you’re tough.  That’s why I didn’t’ pull you out of there sooner.  I was looking for somewhere better before giving Kho another mouth.  Just cuz you’re tough doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt though.”
 
Tourak looked back at him with a scowl, “I’m not just another mouth ya know, I can do stuff.  I can find food.  Just cause I can’t make it disappear….I learned new tricks!”  He glanced around the room and then lowered his voice as if he suspected Rania was standing outside listening to their conversation, “I don’t trust this lady, she’s too nice.”
 
Barin gave him a little laugh, “Yeah, she is too nice, it’ll get her killed but she’s not evil I don’t think. Besides, if you’re here and she hurts you all you gotta do is scream real loud and I’ll be able to hear. But I’m gonna talk to her, make sure she understands that if she doesn’t treat you right I’ll make her regret it.”
 
Tourak nodded  fiercely, then in more of a hushed voice, “ She said she’s gonna pay me!  Not like a lot I think, but real money.  Do you want me to give it to Kho for the others?”
 
Barin gave it some serious thought before shaking his head, “ Not the first week or two. You gotta put some away for yourself so that if something happens you’ll be ok. After that, half. You deserve to be paid if you’re working but we all gotta contribute, right? She gonna let you take the old stuff?”  Tourak opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Rania’s voice calling from the other room, far enough away for the boys to know she hadn’t been standing at the door, “Barin, would you like some fresh cookies to take home for your family?  I’ve got a batch coming out soon if they like sandcookies.”
 
Tourak paused, listening to the summons but then continued, “ That’s what she said, stuff that didn’t sell but not really old stuff.  Like fresh old stuff, you know?  Gave me some honey rolls when we got here, they tasted like they just came out of the oven still!!  I’ll go snatch you one if you want?”  He looked towards the door, “ What is her deal?  Do you know anything bout her?  And she hangs out with this scary dark jeweled man, I mean he wears a Red and I know that’s a big deal with you guys.”
 
Barin held up his hand at his cousin’s questions to call back, “Thank you miss Rania. I’m sure they would love some.”   Then quietly to Tourak, “No, I don’t need anything, but you eat as much as she gives you, k? I don’t think it will be poisoned like what almost got Niv last week and you need to put on some fat before winter. That guy Rania is with is one of the Mineborn, the grumpy one but we’ve had eyes on him for months and he doesn’t kick kids or hurt them, and has known about us Geiba since the attack. He didn’t kill us all on sight but I wouldn't count on him liking having you around. When he shows up you come find me, alright?”
 
Tourak nodded somberly, “ I will, I don’t like being around any of those Blood people, especially not those dark ones.”  Then sadly, he looked down at his hands, wringing them, “Barin, is everyone ok? Old Man Kirak wouldn’t let me out and locked the door with Craft so I couldn’t come check on anyone. You should have seen him though, he was so pissed that Rania took him down a peg. Called her all sorts of names and she just ignored him but I know him. He HATES looking stupid and she made him look really bad. He’s gonna come around eventually and it’s going to get ugly.”
 
Barin frowned, his young face growing grim, “Then I’ll go take care of him. He’s been on my list for awhile.”  Tourak shook his hands wildly in protest, “ No Barin, you’ll get in trouble with the authorities. He hasn’t done anything wrong, I mean… anything they think is wrong.  He kept complaining about having me around, maybe he’ll just be glad I’m gone and just move on.”
 
A light knock on the door and Rania’s voice filtered through, “Boys, how are those clothes fitting?  Everything alright?”   Tourak jumped, looking at the pile of clothes and looking sheepish.  “Um, I’ll try them on now, we were talkin.”
 
Rania smiled at the closed door, “That’s alright, you two take your time. Barin, I’m heading over to the Izar residence with some breakfast foods for them.  If you two leave, will you lock the door and leave the key with your mother?”   Barin glanced up, “Sure thing.”
 
Tourak sat down on the edge of the small bed, “I dunno what I think about all this.  Seems too good to be true.”  Looks up at his cousin with a cocking of his head, “How come you wanted to help the Mineborn anyway?  Aren’t you mad? I’m mad, can’t stop being mad about all the stuff that happened.”
 
Barin sat down beside him, arm up against his shoulder. “Course I’m mad, T. Everyone’s mad, but they all think we’re gonna grow up to be just like the worst of our parents. Just like my parents. There's a lot of them who just wanna wipe the lot of us out just in case. We got to prove that we’re better than that, that we’re looking out for everyone, not just ourselves and that we aren’t just a problem to be dealt with.”
 
Tourak looked sour and a bit regretful “At least you CAN do something!  I wish I had craft and stuff, then maybe I wouldn’t feel so useless all the time, and then jerks like that Old Man Kirak couldn’t beat on me.”
 
Barin gave him a fierce friendly smile, patting him on the back. “You’re not useless, Tourak, just little. It’s ok to be little still and maybe here you’ll be able to help more. At the very least you can come over to our house any time you want and I bet that Rania is nice enough that you might be able to convince her to let Dori come stay with you from time to time. She’s one of the ones I just don’t have the time or energy to look after the way she needs to be, and neither does Kho. She’s too fast and never remembers to stay where we tell her is safe.”
 
Tourak’s expression shifted as he thought of the young girl he had taken under his own protection.  He might have been Landen and she wearing a jewel, but his chest swelled with anxious need to see her safe.  Once he had asked Barin about it and the older boy had told him that was very much like how he felt when he was around Salma, when she wasn’t being totally annoying to him.  Tourak had seen the way Barin looked after his cousin, he wasn’t sure that she was ever that annoying.  Then again, she was a girl.  Blood or Landen, they could always be annoying.   Dori was just a little less so.   He smiled and looked away to hid his little blush, “That would be nice if she could.  That way, well… she could use some of these treats.  She’s too skinny and needs to eat something.”
 
Barin nodded, seeing the blush and deciding not to tease the younger boy in this moment, “You’re right, she’s not very good at eating. Forgets she’s doing it half way through sometimes. I worry bout her.”
 
Tourak frowned thoughtfully, “ I know but she needs to eat more cause she has jewels, even I know that.  I’ll just have to sit on her and make sure she eats every meal.” His face tightened in stubborn resolve, “ well I guess if she lets me….she wiggles like a weasel!”
 
Barin let out an amused chuckle at the comparison and rose up from the bed, “Come on, get dressed before you get a chill.  We can take the cookies that Rania left us up and you can spend some time with Salma and Yari.”  The younger boy dressed quickly and the two of them took the well received cookies up to the other youngsters, minus maybe a cookie or two but who would know really?


Offline Rania al-Abd

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #4 on: Nov 17, 18, 09:48:52 PM »



 
Rania looked around the bakery as she put away the last dish on the rack.  Four days since she had taken Tourak in and she had to say that the young boy had a fierce determination to him.  Anytime she had suggested something was too heavy for him, or encouraged him to take a break and rest he had locked his jaw and just worked harder and longer.  It was a little amusing but at the same token she saw the look that flashed in his eyes.  He was trying to prove himself, to her or himself she wasn’t exactly sure.  He still didn’t trust her, not completely but he had let a few more things about himself slip as the days had passed. 
 
He didn’t like berries, after she had offered him a jam filled muffin for a breakfast treat and she made a mental note about this preference.  He hated having the door to his room closed and loved having the window open which made sense to her.  He didn’t want to feel shut in.  She could understand that actually, all too well.   He had no siblings or other family, hense why he had been adopted by Lord Kirak who along with several other Sabbah clan members had taken in the Geiba orphans.   Some had done well, most had not either because they had hated being with anyone other than their own family or because those who had done the adopting had ulterior motives.   He had dropped a couple of names, usually when he was filling his belly with food and let his guard drop just a little.  Kho, Salma, Barin, Yari and some names she didn’t know like Niv and Dori.  The latter seemed to have some great importance to him but when she had asked him more about her, his face had closed down and he stopped being so openly chatty.
 
She learned when she could gently prod and when to leave him well enough alone, when he would accept a warm word of praise or when her comments seemed as abrasive as sandpaper on his slender shoulders.  He certainly worked hard, she didn’t think she had ever had cleaner floors and that was saying something because of her own tendency to be neat and meticulous.
 
She had already sent him out to bring a delivery to a nearby family as she had closed up the shop for the evening.  Now that the last of her own chores was finished, she would wait for his return to warm up their dinner, a stew of hearty meat and potatoes that she had prepared the other night with the help of several of the young women who had joined the Izar clan and were looking to learn hearthwitch craft to tend to the needs of the Clan.   Rania was grateful for the help, she didn’t think she could have managed to tend to both the bakery and the Izar and find time to even sleep anymore let alone have time for Omid when he came to her bed.
 
That last thought brought a flush of pleasure to her cheeks.  She knew he would be waiting for her tonight, and they had planned a night uncomplicated by any other plans or obligations other than to each other.  Her hand traced unconsciously along her neck at the anticipation of what could await her tonight.   He was still so incredibly tender with her but it was the moments when he embraced his nature as a wearer of a Red jewel that made her skin rise up in goosebumps.
 
A sound at the front of the bakery had her turning to look.  Strange, she had sworn that she had locked the front door and stepped out towards the counter to inform the visitor that she was already closed for business.  She knew it wasn’t Tourak, he would come through the back way expecting the front door to be locked anyway.   Instead, she recognized the large form of the Lord Kirak coming through the door, a dark hard look on his face.
 
“I’m sorry Lord, but I’m closed tonight.  If you need some sweets for your dinnertable, I’m afraid you are too late.  I sold out.”  That wasn’t exactly true but she didn’t want this man to still be here when Tourak returned, unsure of the actions of either man or boy should they see each other.
 
“I’m not here for your filth food,” he snarled with such hostility that she took a step back from the vitriol that spewed from his lips.  A sound behind her and two men appeared through the back door, the latter sliding the bolt across the lock.  She shifted to her side, keeping her back away from any of the three men.  “If you’re not here to buy something, then leave.” she said with as much spine to her voice as she could manage as cold nails prickled against her spine.  Feelings curled in her belly, familiar serpents of fear and she moved away as they moved forward until she was backed up against the oven.
 
Lord Kirak smirked and picked a chair and without looking away from her, he swung the chair into the glass display of the counter.  It shattered into a thousand little sharp shards, a few of them flying through the air into all different parts of the bakery.   She just stared at him as he tossed the chair into the wall, leaving a dent in the stucco and breaking one of the legs.  One of the other men picked up her broom and swung it against a shelf, causing all the ingredients to fall in their containers, shattering and spilling across the floor.  Rania clenched her fists.
 
“Stop this!”  It even sound pitiful to her own ears.  With a snarl of fury at their distruction of her bakery, her father’s dream for her she lashed out with her Purple Dusk.   It caught Kirak and sent him stumbling backwards but the other men seemed to anticipate an attack and she saw and felt the Opal shields around them thrum and settle at her display of power.   “Alright, you made your point but you didn’t have to come down here and destroy my bakery.”
 
Kirak had risen to his feet again and stalked towards her, eyes hard and malevelant.  “See you owe me a Price girl.  You stole my boy away and that’s all sort of labor that I’m not getting now.  You’ve probably already reported me and I expect the bastard Queen sending her guards after me any day now.”   Actually Rania hadn’t reported his actions to Lady Elenor yet, because she had hoped that by simply avoiding the man he would just forget about her and go about his miserable life.
 
“Now I can’t get any of those homeless whelps within range of my shop, not a single one to do any sort of work for me, even if I offered to actually pay them, which I wouldn’t.  No need to pay a mongrel, they’re just lucky to get the scraps I throw at them.”   Rania’s face twisted in anger.
 
“Don’t talk about them like that, any of them!  They are more honorable and worthy to wear that cuff than you!” 
 
“Filthy Geiba runts, the whole lot of them should have been left out in the desert for the Worms!”   Rania’s face turned ghastly white.
 
She’s no more fun, let’s just leave her here for the Worms, said the voice in her ear, filling her with fear.
 
“L….Leave!   I’m warning you,” she said but already her voice was stammering as memories drifted up through her mind like stale smoke, robbing conviction from the sound of her words and they heard it.  They scented her fear like rabid dogs and closed in on her.
 
“No, I think in fact we’re going to stay for a long time.  You need a lesson girl, and I think we’re just the ones to teach it to you.”  Rania jumped as one of the men made a quick dash at her, stopping short of arms length and laughed cruelly as she trembled and almost tried to climb the side of the oven to avoid him. 
 
 They were laughing so hard, that they didn’t hear the rumble of the back door against the locked beam, didn’t hear the soft thud of someone climbing through the open window in Tourak’s room.  She leapt away from the oven, pulling their focus away from the back of the bakery as she saw the door of the small roop carefully open and the wide eyes of Tourak peer through the gap. 
 
She tried to avoid their hands but the distraction of seeing the boy back slowed her reflexes and she felt a rough hand close over her wrist.   She shreked at the feeling of the grip over her scarred limb and shouted, “NO!”  Her outburst caught her a hand to the face, a cracking sensation against her cheek that sent her vision swirling and going grey as she fell to her knees.   Tourak started forward and she caught his eyes between their legs, her own wide as she shook her head.
 
Go, she mouthed at him, go now.  His lips tightened and he looked at the men and at her, his brown eyes torn between frustration and anger and then he was gone.   Rania let out a breath of relief as he dissapeared from sight that was quickly stifled by a foot to her stomach, knocking the rest of the air from her system.  Gasping on the floor, unable to draw breath, she struggled to pull herself away from the circle of legs.  Another foot, this time in the small of her back, and her legs went numb.
 
“I still demand a Price bitch,” said Kirak with a glimmer in his eye that made her stomach roll, “and I’m going to extract it completely.”  Rania started to gather her strength to unleash another blast of her Purple Dusk when she took a foot to the head and blackness swallowed her.
 
Tourak ran, his feet pounding in the hot sand, burning at his bare feet.  He hadn’t even bothered to put his sandels back on, he just ran.  He could have run to Barin but there were three of them and Barin only wore the Purple Dusk.  Kho was a Blood male and he wouldn’t be able to help.  There was only one person that Tourak immediately thought of that was strong enough to help Lady Rania right now, and he really really hoped he was home.
 
Tourak felt like he had been running for hours, when it had probably only been a few minutes as he slid to a stop at the gates of the Bali complex and began shouting much as he had seen Niv do.
 
“Hey!!  HEY!!!! I need the Red Jeweled Prince!!!  The Mineborn guy!!!  Lady Rania’s in a lot of trouble… HEY!!! Someone needs to listen to me!!”  He shouted with all the strength in his small chest, feeling his stomach heaving with the exertion of running and screaming at full volume.  He didn’t know if the guards at the gate would listen to him, but he kept yelling.  “YOU GOTTA HURRY!  I think they’re going to kill her!”


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #5 on: Nov 18, 18, 01:33:22 PM »
*Prince Omid, you have a visitor...at the gate.*

Omid looked up from his Dhemlanese anatomy book when Lord Talib reached out to him on the spear-to-spear thread. Between issues on the Council and supporting his clanmates, not to mention the current tensions inside of Onn, the book sat unread in his psychic cabinet, waiting for him to find time to study it. Tonight was the first chance he’d found in weeks and Omid wanted to make the most of it before it was time to escort Rania home from Desert Flour. It was early in the evening, but Omid sighed softly and closed the book.

Next time, old friend. Next time.” he said. He vanished the book back and rose from his desk. There was yelling outside. Onn wasn’t a quiet place by any means and Omid envied some of the children. They could play at night when the darkness came, never worried about what lurked in the shadows. Born in darkness beneath Pruul’s sands, the shadows should have comforted Omid like old friends. They didn’t.

They were just reminders of where he’d come from and places he never wanted to see again.

He tied his khanjar to his waist and left the Bali compound, headed to the gate of the Bali Quarter to see what this new visitor needed. He hoped it wasn’t a Council issue. He didn’t like talking about Council matters outside of meetings. He didn’t even like the meetings, but they represented one of the few times that he could spend time with his siblings, so he accepted them as a necessary evil.

Someone needs to listen to me!! YOU GOTTA HURRY!  I think they’re going to kill her!

Omid knew that voice. Rania had taken in the Landen boy, Tourak al-Geiba, in the aftermath of the sandworm attack. Omid had his theories on why that was, but he’d not discussed it with his Hearth Witch. Omid wasn’t ready to have that conversation with her. He wasn’t ready to have a lot of convesations with her, but he feared that he’d have to sooner, rather than later. He needed advice about how to proceed. Zaehrah would help him, he knew. He just had to gather his courage to talk to his Queen about his love.

The sight of Tourak pushed those thoughts aside.

The torrent of words, combined with Tourak’s fear, hit Omid like a sandstorm. Fear. Three men were in Rania’s shop, hitting and kicking her and calling her horrible things. Sabbah men who wanted her to pay for taking Tourak away from them. Tourak probably said more things. He probably offered to show Omid the way, with a hand-drawn map and descriptions of what they looked like. Omid wouldn’t have heard him, though.

He stopped listening after Tourak said that the men were Sabbah.

Omid leaned down to look Tourak in the eyes. “Thank you for coming to me with this, Tourak. Rania wants you to be safe. My brethren will make sure that you’re okay until I return with her.

He should have called for aid. Ennead would have followed him without question, he knew. But Rania was in danger and Omid could not wait.

He turned and sprinted toward the Desert Flour.

Every step forward took him further into the past.

Look away, Omid.

Cadence’s screams echoed in his ears whenever he let his concentration waver too long. Those screams woke him from a sound sleep and, some nights, it took Rania nearly an hour to convince him that he wasn’t still trapped in the mines, even in a room where the witchlamps were fully lit. Her scent, her presence, and even being inside her pushed those fears to the corners of his mind, but they never left him.

Look away, Omid.

Rania had endured so much, including the same horrors that Cadence suffered, making it doubly important for him to protect her. She gave and gave and gave, never taking for herself even when she deserved more based on all that she’d given. She was within her rights to be as scared and hurt as any of the Mineborn, possibly more. Instead, she never defined herself by what she’d endured. She used it to be a better person, justs as Cadence had.

It was a lesson that Omid struggled to learn.

Look away, Omid.

He was young and powerless when Cadence was raped. He could only scream and cry while she was violated, begging Mother Night to end her torment, but She never did. She took Cadence’s jewels and the lullabies she sang him to help him sleep. Omid prayed that the men who hurt her would suffer the same fate, and their deaths at the hands of Saiph al-Kaid’s people were too quick to satisfy the Red Prince. In his darker moments, Omid imagined all of the painful and horrible things that he could do to men like them, given free reign and opportunity. Wasn’t he supposed to break the cycle of violence and retribution? Was he supposed to make Pruul better?

The back door of Desert Flour stood in his vision. Beyond it, Rania screamed in pain.

Omid didn’t break stride. He extended his hand toward the door, called upon his Red and pulled backward. The back door of the shop groaned once and then tore free, falling to the ground. He stepped into the doorway of the shop and took in the scene before him, the last vestiges of the stove’s heat licking across his skin the way Rania’s hands often did.

Two men faced him him, shielding themselves. They didn’t stand nearly as deep in the Abyss as he, but he saw that they could fight. The third, in the rear, had a fistful of Rania’s hair. The shop’s light was dim, but Omid felt her pain from across the room. The scent of blood was present beneath the scents of bread, flour, and her. Three men against a Hearth Witch. She’d dared to stand up to them, to stand up for a boy who couldn’t protect himself, and these animals couldn’t take it. Rather than be better people, they’d come here to commit an atrocity upon a female to revenge themselves. Rather than conduct themselves as men, as protectors and defenders, they wanted to hurt a female to prove their power and strength.

They were going to rape her. Omid knew it without question.

Just like the Geiba.

The temperature plunged. Ice coated the floor beneath Omid’s feet and crept along the ground toward the walls. Omid did not need the light to know the kitchen’s layout, his mind processing the placement of every object inside. He’d taken Rania here more than once, when they couldn’t ignore their hunger for each other. He loved her smile, her body, and the way she smelled after baking bread and rolls all day. He joked, from time to time, that she tasted like sugar and spice. Sometimes, she even allowed it to be truth.

Look away, Omid.

Omid couldn’t look away now, just like he couldn’t look away, then.

This is how you treat a woman, boy! Watch and learn!

*Shield your eyes, my love. It will be over soon.*

They raped Cadence in the dark. They broke her jewels, wounded her soul, and then left her bleeding in the shadows while they went on with their lives. Pruul’s shadows were so deep and black that one could search forever and still not know the truth of all the horrible things done in the Salt Mines. That was why Elenor al-Sabbah’s excuses for keeping it open rang hollow to Omid. As long as the mines existed, those shadows would exist. Omid hated these men the way he hated the Geiba, but he loved Rania more. Love countered hate just as light countered darkness.

So Omid called in light.

The first man lunged at him just as Omid reached deeper into his Red than ever before. Omid summoned bright, blazing, blinding light into the kitchen of Desert Flour. Anyone near the shop would immediately notice the flash of light, as bright as Pruul’s sun at noonday. Even those a few blocks over could see it as well. He hoped that Rania shielded her eyes.
He knew that her attackers hadn’t. The three men howled in fury and pain as the light stole their vision.

Dark strength fueled his limbs. The man lunging toward him stumbled and Omid drew his khanjar, slashing down and to his side as the male passed. The blade bit deep, cutting into his thigh and sending him sprawling. The heavy rack full of pots and pans fell forward, seemingly  of its own accord and pinned him down, earning another yowl of pain and surprise from that male.

The second man was still covering his eyes, rubbing them furiously as if it would help his vision clear. Omid walked forward, pulled back, and punched him in his throat. The man choked as his air was interrupted, so Omid punched him in the throat and then drove his head into the near wall. The stone cracked. Where it cracked, blood stained the wall.

The second man slumped to the floor, breathing, but motionless.

Lord Kirak growled and snarled, hands reaching for Rania, but she’d slipped out of his grasp. He couldn’t see anything. Fear, pain, and anger threatened to suffocate every other scent in that kitchen, and Omid moved to stand before him.

I know you, Lord Kirak. You own that tiny little shop not far from here. The one selling things that barely qualify as food.

Kirak snarled and swung blindy at him. Omid sidestepped the strike and tripped him, watching him hit the floor with a heavy sound. Kirak grunted and scrambled back to his feet, still swinging blindly.

You were going to rape her.

She stole from me!

Omid slammed his face into the floor again. “You were going to rape her.

It’s not rape if she cums.” he said, laughing through split lips.

Kirak swung again for Omid’s face, but Omid sidestepped once more. He grabbed the other man by his collar and arm, then walked him through the kitchen into the main area of the bakery. They approached the front door and Omid hurled him into it, sending Kirak crashing through the door and into the street. Kirak tried to get to his feet, but Omid lashed out with Red tendrils to pull him back to the ground. Tendrils of Red Craft snaked out, catching Kirak by his hands and extending his arms in front of him.

A small crowd had formed outside the shop, drawn by the bright light. Kirak must have sensed them because his head whipped around wildly, looking for anyone who might aid him.

Help! Help us! The Mineborn attacked us without cause! S-Someone call Lady Sabbah!” Kirak yelled.

Omid looked around the crowd. “Yes, someone call Lady Sabbah. I’d like ask her why men like this are part of her clan.

The so-called True Sabbah would use this to push their agenda, but Omid didn’t care. He didn’t care what kind of Sabbah they were after today. They would learn that there was a Price for harming what was his.

There’s poison in your heart, Kirak al-Sabbah. My brother would have torn your heart out and made you eat it. My sister would have eaten your heart herself, the way she did to Adramelech. Roshan would have made you cut off your cock, fry it, and then serve it to your friends with a smile on your face. But you didn’t meet them tonight.

You met me.
” Omid said.

You're a baker. What’s in your heart translates into the food you prepare. You pass on hate with your skill when you could do more. I wouldn’t feed anything you’ve made to a sandworm, let alone a person. But since you abuse your talent, you are unworthy of it.” Omid said.

W-what are you doing?! You can’t do this! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it! I was just going to put her in her place!

You invaded her place to do harm! You used your hands to hurt what is mine, Lord Kirak, and I will not forgive that! But you will never strike a woman or a child again.” Omid snarled, using tendrils of Craft to wrap around the Warlord’s wrists and pull them forward until his hands were flat on the ground and extended before him.

He wasn’t sorry, but he would be.

Omid gestured to the front door of the bakery, sitting awkwardly on one hinge, and pulled it free with his Red. The door floated toward them and rotated so that the narrow edge of the door hovered over Kirak’s hands. He recalled the diagram from his anatomy book that showed all of the bones inside a human hand. So many fine and soft bones necessary for every task from kneading bread to holding a cup to making a fist. Kirak was pleading now, saying that he was sorry. But Omid knew that he wasn’t  truly remorseful. Just sorry that someone else was there to witness his evil.

Look away, Omid.

No. He would not look away ever again.

The door’s edge came down on Kirak’s hands seven times. Each time it fell, the sound of bones breaking filled the space between them. Kirak screamed in agony. He begged for mercy, but Omid knew that he wouldn’t have shown Rania any mercy. They would have taken turns congratulating each other on how many times they made her body betray her while they violated her. Then they would have left her in her shop until someone came to take her. Omid stopped only to angle the door slightly before bringing it down once more to ensure that he missed nothing.

That was for Tourak.

Omid drove the door down seven more times on to Kirak’s hands, making sure that Sabbah Warlord’s hands were utterly broken by the time it was done.

That was for Rania. Whatever else your Queen has in mind for you is her business. But if I ever see you or your friends again, by accident or design, your clan won’t even get your water back.” Omid said.

Kirak whimpered something else about mercy. Standing near this man made Omid physically ill.

The Omid released his mental grasp on the door, dropping it to the street.

Clan Sabbah, I’ve taken out your trash. If you cannot police your own and they do harm to the people of Pruul, I will take care of the problem and bill you for my services.

But as my love has taught me, I will charge a fair Price.


Message delivered, Omid left Kirak in the street, releasing the binding on his shattered hands. He went back inside the shop and returned shortly after with the unconscious forms of Kirak’s friends minutes later.

He left the three of them on the street for their clanmates to find, no longer concerned about their well-being.

He went to check on Rania.







Offline Nayarreh al-Sabbah

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #6 on: Nov 18, 18, 03:37:33 PM »
Barin al-Sabbah
[/url]




Barin had been across the city when the message had been passed to him, sent from Geiba to Geiba starting with Dori who had seen Tourok run by in a panic. Niv had arrived on the scene five minutes later and had been feeding Barin information ever since, even as he ran across the city towards home.

Someone was attacking Rania, which meant someone was close to Salma, and anyone violent who got within a mile of his Queen had to have their spine removed. His feet pounded along the dusty flat rooftops, thundering right along with his heart. He was still three blocks away, still descending toward the depths of his Purple Dusk Jewel, when he felt another anger in the Abyss, far Darker than his own.

Fear flooded him. Was one of Rania's attackers Dark? Would Barin's race here be for nothing?

It didn't matter. Salma was next door to this and Rania was one of his now, and had been from the day she took in one of his cousins and treated Tourok right. Barin vaulted down from the rooftop he was on to a balcony, then down to the streets where he landed with a puff of dust and sand in the alley between the shops. His first action was to pass through the wall into the courtyard of their house. Salma was here, looking worried but Naya was with her and the young man ignored his mother's shout as he wrapped them both in a shield and passed right back out through the wall again.

He stepped forward, into the mouth of the alley and pulled a sight shield tight about himself, gauging the situation.

**Niv, what's happening?**

**That Red Mineborn Prince just went in and-**

She continued but Barin stopped needing the catch-up. Omid-al-Bali had just emerged from the shop dragging the fucker out and tossing him to the ground. Barin watched with gleeful pleasure as the Mineborn bashed his hands over and over again with a door, though the smell of blood and screams of pain didn't cool Barin's own anger but rather enflamed it.

Omid's words did too. This wasn't about the Sabbah. Sure, the asshole was one but this was about the Geiba. There were people from all of the Great Clans on Barin's list. Jinan had harmed Geiba children, Tabur and Bali had harmed Geiba children. None of them had done anything about those injustices and when they did notice it was always about something bigger or personal to the person who was angry. Omid hadn't fucked up Kirak because he had abused Tourak for years, he had only started caring when the baker had attacked Rania.

That was the part that was really fucked up.

Not that Omid shouldn't be pissed about Rania. So was Barin, but this was so much bigger than most adults ever acknowledged.

So Barin waited. He waited until Omid returned to the shop and until the baker crawled to his feet, then he walked forward, dropping the sight shield. He walked to the man and hooked his arm around his waist.

"Here, let me help you."

It was a testament to how much pain he must be in that he didn't recognize Barin, just grunted his thanks.

"No problem, you didn't get what you deserved so I'm going to help you with that."

Barin wanted to just kill him here in the street but he couldn't risk that. If people understood just how many people he had killed over the years protecting his cousins they would use it as an excuse for why all the Geiba should be exterminated. Barin wouldn't let that happen.

So instead he walked with the wanna-be-rapist. He got nods from people he recognized as True Sabbah and nodded back. It would help with his cover.

They were one street away from the man's shop when Barin turned into an alley and wrapped them both in sight and aural shields, then let the large man collapse on the ground.

"What-"

Barin kicked him right in the teeth. It felt good and the crunch as his second kick broke the man's nose was even more satisfying.

"You beat Tourok."
Barin said, enunciating each syllable as he used Purple Dusk Craft to keep the man from fighting back. "You beat a little Landen boy who couldn't defend himself. You starved him while you got fat, and when someone finally did the right thing and took him away from you, you just had to try to hurt her too."

Barin knelt on his chest and pulled out a knife. "I've been watching you, old man. I know the kind of clientele you encourage. I know you give discounts to the men who rape little girls and who poison children because to you we're no more than rats. Well, I hate to break it to you but you're the real rat. Prince Omid might be a fair man but I'm still a kid, still dumb and reckless and angry."

His hair fisted in the man's hair. "Who knows what I'm capable of. Isn't that what you and your friends always say about whoever it is you hate with no proof? Well, let me give you some."



An hour later, Barin walked up to the door to the Sabbah Compound dragging a sack. It squirmed a few times but every time it did the boy kicked it. The sack was sight shielded but he was not and he smiled politely at the guards.

"Hi, I'm here to see mu Uncle Matin. I'm his nephew Barin. Can you tell him I'm here?"

Ten minutes later, the older Warlord Prince showed up, looking tired but pleased to see him. Barin was escorted into his office and used Craft to carry along the bag. As soon as the door was closed, the teenager lifted the sight shield.

"You might hear some stories about something that happened at the Dasert Flour today. This is the asshole who did it and it was an attack against someone who took in one of my cousins. I think you need to send Prince Omid a thank you note for disabling him for us. I thought I'd save you the trouble to bring him in. Somehow between there and here he lost his tongue and had his kneecaps broken -real mystery about how that happened- but don't worry, he's still able to psychically communicate and she's eager to confess, aren't you old man?"

Barin nudged the bag again with his foot, then grinned up at the man who was as much a father to him as he had ever had. "Oh, and I'd like to recommend that he not be fed very much between now and whenever Lady Sabbah comes back to pass judgment. He's a heavy fucker and it would be good for his health and the happiness of a little boy I know to see him waste away."

He stood up, sloppily saluted the older Warlord Prince, and walked out the door.





Offline Rania al-Abd

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #7 on: Dec 23, 18, 04:01:43 PM »
Tourak looked up at the older man, watched as something changed in his face and got a cold shiver down his spine.  When he leaned down to speak to him eye to eye, telling him that he would have to stay here while Omid ran off and helped Rania made him want to argue until he remembered who he was talking to, saw that Red jewel around Omid’s neck and swallowed his frustration.  He just nodded his head and mumbled disagreeably, ‘I’ll stay,”[/b] then watched as the other man took of in a run.

So he stayed… perching himself inconspicuously on a wooden crate near the guardhouse and remaining silent and unobtrusive just long enough for the guards to take their eyes and mind off him, when he slipped away and snuck out making his own hurried rush towards the bakery in turn.  After all, a powerful man with a Red jewel wouldn’t take too long wiping the floor with those jerks and he wouldn’t be in danger anymore so they couldn’t get mad at him, right?

************************
 
Rania screamed, and the sound ripped pain through her throat as she felt the bone in her forearm twist and snap.    With a defeated whimper she fell to the floor as her assailant dropped her onto the tile with a smug sound of satisfaction.  The impact sent another bolt of pain up into her shoulder and she curled up, holding the broken limb close to shield it from another blow.   The three men above her circled like vultures, each one vying for the next chance to inflict some other form of pain.  Her back ached, her arm now broken and everytime she took in a breath, knives of pain pushed into her chest.  Her nose throbbed, probably broken she would wager given the blood that had slid down over her lips and her cheek throbbed.  She guessed they must have at least cracked a rib with the force of their kicks.   She hurt so much she didn’t have focus to reach for her jewels and when the pain ebbed enough to allow her a clear head, they seemed to know and inflicted a whole new wave of agony through her.

“Enough,” said Kirak, “I’ve taken my pound of flesh out of her for the boy, now I think we should have some times to enjoy ourselves before she’s too ugly to get a rise from anyone, hmmm?”   Rania whimpered and tried to push herself away, but Kirak reached down and grabbed her by her hair, jerking so hard she would have expected skin and hair to pull from her scalp.  Her body rose up, seeking to end the pain by lessening the pull and when she didn’t move fast enough, he pulled harder.   Sparks flashed behind her eyes and her already hoarse throat let out another cry.   Her feet scrambled on the tile beneath her as she tried to get a foothold and leverage.

The door at the back of the shop exploded outward with a resonating roar that sent the walls shaking.   The men turned in surprise, giving her enough of a vantage to see Omid prowling inside, his face set hard with an expression that she had never seen before.   Lucky had that face.  It was the look of a man on the edge of rage, and bloodshed and death.   Rania felt cold fear slide through her, not of Omid, never of her beloved….but of what he would unleash in his state.

Ice slid across the tiles from where Omid stood, a cold rage building around him to affect his environment.  Crystals formed like a growing vine up the walls, hissing as they came in contact with the radiant heat of the oven and turning into small puffs of steam.  The two men in front of her shielded, their posture stiffening as they prepared for a fight hey had no hope of winning.   Omid was not a warrior, but he was trained.  He had sparred with his brother and certainly he would have been working with his Bali brethern.   The men might have more time behind a sword, but Omid wore the Red and could handle any attack they launched.  It was a suicide attempt to attack him, and Rania took a small bit of satisfaction knowing what they would receive.  Only small, because the cost to Omid would be so much higher.

My Prince, my love.  To spare you this… she though as the men advanced.   He looked at her, saw her and she held his gaze as she felt Kirak’s hand shake in her hair.   In her own way, she gave him a little smile.  I am alright, she tried to say, I am alright.   It wasn’t a lie, she could have been worse, but perhaps he needed to see that they hadn’t broken her spirit, even if they had broken some bones.

The first man lunged forward and Omid’s expression went dark.  Rania wasn’t certain what warned her, perhaps instinct or perhaps she knew her lover.    Lucky would have ripped the men apart, applying craft and brute force in his attack.  Omid was brilliant, he would never give in to the darkness that pulled at him, he would fight back with his own light.   It was that last thought that had her turn her eyes from him, shutting them an instant before white light flashed behind her lids.  Brilliant, brighter than the sun on a noon’s day on the midsummer, she turned her face from it because closing her eyes wasn’t enough.  Still, when she opened them, black spots swam in her vision from the intensity.   She could heard the men around her crying out, their own eyes not spared from Omid’s unleashing, but Kirak was stunned enough that his hand dropped from her hair. 

Omid moved, deadly speed in his motion and as she painfully pulled herself out of the way, she watched the flash of metal in the air and the scent of hot blood filled her nose.   Everything hurt as she inched her way to the wall, using the still warm oven bricks as a barrier from most of the fighting, pressing into the corner as she watched the combat.   Rania tried not to wince as a rack of cookware fell off the wall and pinned the first attacker to the floor while Omid made a beeline for the second man, landing a hard blow to his throat.   The second man choked hard, trying to draw breath as Omid grabbed him by the hair and slammed his face into the stones opposite where Rania sat.  She heard the crunch of bone and the crack of the stone, saw the blood that trailed down the wall as Omid dropped him where he fell and stalked towards Kirak.

The baker had been trying to recover his advantage, his hand reaching out and down as his other hand tried to clear his vision, sweeping the floor below his knees for any sign of her and Rania held her breath, trying not to make the slightest noise even as the tightness in her chest from restrained breathing threatened to pull sound from her throat. 

You were going to rape her.

The coldness in his voice had Rania looking up at Omid’s face, her own eyes widening in shock.  She had known, had feared but that Omid knew, that he had suspected even before arriving.  Rania’s stomach sank.  Omid, who loved two women who had survived the brutality of men who sought to break witches of their spirit and essence.  Omid who had been made to watch as his mother suffered and he was powerless to stop it.

Oh my beloved.

Kirak last retort had her turning her eyes back to the man on the floor, ice sweeping out from her in waves of Purple Dusk.

See, the little bitch likes that….do it again.

A cruel voice pulled from the recesses of her mind had her whimpering as present and past overlayed.  Something delicate in her mind vibrated, shuddered and settled.   She shook her head as Omid sent Kirak flying through front door of her bakery.  She winced, not out of sympathy but out of the cracking sound that echoed as her door was shattered.   Another piece of her father’s legacy destroyed.   She saw the crowd gathering outside, filling the small square that was just outside her humble establishment, caught the look of a few who starred past Omid into the ruin of her shop and some she worried, who were staring at her crumbled and broken in a heap.

Grimacing she pushed up against the wall, trying to use her legs to help her slide her back up the stucco wall into a standing position.  Her arms were pretty much useless, and the pressure against her back and ribs made the little air she could pull in exit in a sigh of discomfort.  A muscle twitched, setting off a spasm down her thigh and she lost her balance, sliding back down to the floor.

“Rania!”  She heard called and turned her head to see Tourak stepping carefully over the broken remnants of her back door frame, his eyes wide at the destruction.  The small boy hurried over and grabbed her arm, earning him a sharp hiss of pain that made him drop her limb.  His eyes looked regretful as he said, “Sorry sorry sorry,” and tried to position himself behind her to help her up to her feet.    His arms wrapped around her waist and tugged upwards and she tried not to cry out as his slender arm pushed against her injured rib while pushing with her feet to get herself standing.   After a moment, she was panting with a sheen of sweat on her forehead from the effort and Tourak looked miserable.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” she said gently and he scowled angrily.  “Don’t lie to me!  I know what broken bones look like!”  Rania sheepishly looked down before whispering, “You are right, I am sorry Tourak.  I just didn’t want to worry you further.”   A shattering scream followed by seven hard blows had them both looking out to the front of the store.   Omid stood over Kirak, the door of the bakery floating beside him and Kirak….

Rania’s stomach flipped as she saw the mangled bloody mess at the end of his hands, fingers mashed into a pulp that no Healer could possibly repair.  Looking in that direction, she was made aware of the other two men still inside, men who might wake at any moment.   Panic flooded her and she renewed her attempts to stand.  “We gotta get out of this room,” she said to Tourak.  “I’m going to try to push myself up the wall, you just keep me from falling over.” 

A shadow passed over her and Rania looked up, momentarily frightened that perhaps her time had run out and one of her assailants had come to.  The man that looked down at her was tall, taller than Omid with golden eyes that stared down at her from between the folds of his burnoose and a scarf that covered his nose and mouth.  Just those eyes… she looked up at him as Tourak squeezed between them, his little arms pushing at the man.  “Don’t you touch her!”

“Peace, little one,” said the man in a voice that was soft and accented, the timber a gentle baritone that felt very soothing and calm.  Something about his eyes though, and she felt her initial fear slide away.   

“Tourak,” she said, “It’s alright.”   The younger boy looked back at her, anger and frustration that this might be yet another attack he was powerless to prevent washed over his features and she nodded her head reassuringly at him before looking back up at the man.  “Can you help me up?   I need to get off this floor and get this arm wrapped.”  He nodded silently and before Tourak or even Rania could object, he knelt and scooped her up into arms that were deceptively strong, cradling her against his chest.   Tourak moved ahead, kicking some of her fallen pans out of the path of the stranger as he brought her into Tourak’s room and set her gently down.

“Forgive me,” he said and reached behind her to grab the thin sheet Tourak used as bedding, ripping a long strip of the linen before kneeling before her.  “Brace yourself, this will hurt greatly.”   Rania looked at him and nodded, gritting her jaw tightly for what was to come while Tourak said nothing.   The man gripped her forearm with both hands, large and callaced.  Hard hands, the hands of a man who had done difficult work without craft and yet… he didn’t feel Landen.  She could sense Craft gliding from his fingers along her skin but there was no Power to it.   Puzzled, she looked up at his face, those eyes now hooded from her sight and let out a hard grunt as his arms flexed and the broken bones snapped back into place.   The raging pain quickly subsided into a thick ache, and he quickly wrapped the linen around her arm, making a quick sling of the rest of the fabric before wrapping the rest around her waist.   Her ribs protested the pressure but she held her tongue as he secured the end of the strip and sat back, his head turning towards the front of the bakery.

“I must go.  Be well young witch, take care young sir and keep her well.”   Rania started to protest his departure but he shook his head.  “The Prince is enraged and will not be pleased to see a strange man around his lady.   We will see each other again when the time is right.”  He placed his hand on her hair, and it was a comforting gesture.   Rania watched as he hurried out of the room and out through the back just as she heard Omid calling her name.

Rising carefully from her seat, she limped to the door of the small room, “Omid,” she said as she leaned against the door frame.   “I’m here.”    Relief that he was at her side flooded her and she stumbled forward to fall into his chest, ignoring the pain that the impact sent through her.   Her good arm wrapped around his waist as she held him close, her aching nose and cheek pressed to his chest.  “I’m alright, you saved me.  I’m alright.”  She thought he needed to hear the words, needed to know that despite her injuries, he had in fact stopped the worst of all things.   Soothing and gentle, she repeated them as she felt his heart racing beneath her ear and tried to quell the anger within.


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #8 on: Jan 22, 19, 09:55:25 PM »
Omid opened his arms to Rania as she came toward. He hugged her close, taking a moment to inhale the scent of her hair, of her to know that she was fine. She said that she was alright, that he’d saved her, but Omid couldn’t register the words in that moment. The images in his mind’s eye of the three males crowded around Rania and ready to harm her just because they could...Omid couldn’t shake them. He would see them whenever he closed his eyes for a long time to come. He would feel the air grow thin in his throat, feel the rage bubbling beneath his skin and demanding a release through the terrible power of his Red Jewel.

He would remember how vindicating it felt to crush that fool’s hands just now.

He stepped back to look at her, his eyes taking in every inch of her body. Focus on Rania. The words echoed in his mind like a mantra and Omid summoned gentle light into the room to ensure that he didn’t miss anything. Focusing on her prevented him from following through on his desire to drag those males to the Sabbah Queen and demand their lives in recompense for the harm they’d done, and tried to do, to Rania. Omid had only know fury like this once before in his life. That rage coursed through him, permeated his scent and flooded the room with it. He was hanging on to his control by a thread and it was all that he could do to keep her at the front of his mind.

Are you sure? If you need a Healer, I will have Zahira here in a minutes. You’re not staying alone tonight or any other night. You’re coming with me to the Bali Quarter. You’ll be safe in Lady Zaehrah’s Court. I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner.” Omid said, hugging her to his chest once more as his eyes closed in relief.

I knew that some of the Sabbah were sick, but those animals need to be put down.” Omid said, a growl coloring the last of his words. He should have killed them. He should have killed them and returned their water to the Sabbah. He wanted to kill them all.

He sighed.

Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked softly.







Offline Rania al-Abd

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #9 on: Mar 02, 19, 12:14:17 AM »
Rania leaned into his embrace as his arms came around her in a tense, warm cocoon of safety.  Strange that she had managed to keep herself calm and steady throughout the whole ordeal and now that she was actually safe, she felt her resolve beginning to crumble.  Her fingers clenched into the back of his shirt and she felt her breath start coming in shaking gasps.

“Yes, I’m alright.”  She felt him pull back, felt the heat of his eyes on her.  The rage that boiled inside him was like the noon-day sun in midsummer, hot on her skin but brilliant and cleansing in its own way.  She looked up at his face and met his gaze evenly.   “I’m sore, and my arm and side hurts and I’ll probably have some bruises but nothing that I won’t recover from just fine.”  She gave him a gentle smile, not quite as brightly as she might have because the action pulled at her injured cheek.

Shadows haunted his eyes, and she reached up with her good hand to touch his cheek.  “If it will ease your worries my Prince, then we can go see your Sister Healer.  I’ll come with you to the Bali Quarter.  No need to trouble her to come all the way here, besides I’m not going to be open for business for a few days at least.”  She sighed heavily and glanced out towards her shop, towards the rubble of containers and spilled supplies she could see from there.

“Omid, ”  she paused, and glanced over at Tourak who was sitting on his bed watching them.  “I can’t leave him alone.  I promised him…”

“I can take care of myself Lady Rania,” Tourak said defensively from his seat, crossing his arms over his chest and looking stubborn.  “I have my cousins, and the other… I got friends.  You don’t have to worry about me.”

Rania gave him a little knowing wink, which quickly became a wince.  She would have to remember not to move her face so much, at least until she got a cooled cloth to her cheek.  “Tourak, you were very brave to get Omid and come back to help me.  Not many people, even adults, would have done something so selfless.”  She turned her head to look back at Omid.

“Please Omid, at least for a night or two until I can make other arrangements.  I’m sure that one of your siblings will let him stay in my room at the Izar compound, but I can’t leave him all alone with the chance one of those men or their brethren might came after him in vengeance.”   Something about what she said made Tourak bare his teeth in a feral snarl of disapproval but she couldn’t worry about that right now.   Right now she was tired, and starting to feel cold, and her legs were suddenly very wobbly and…

Rania sighed heavily and her whole body seemed to decide that it had enough.  She felt every crack, every bruise, every ache in her whole body come together in a painful throbbing that made her whimper.

“Ok, maybe….maybe I’m a little less than alright,” she admitted.  There was something else...something important.   “There was a man who came in, while you were...outside.   He helped me, and then he left.  Didn’t give his name and his face was covered.  He seemed to know you, and he seemed...so very familiar but I’m certain I didn’t know his voice.”   She sighed and leaned fully against him now.

“I think I should see a Healer now.


Offline Omid al-Bali

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Re: When the dough doesn't rise, you can still make great crackers.
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 19, 12:37:19 AM »
Omid was still fighting to get control of his temper. Breaking hands or bodies wasn’t enough. He wanted to take them apart, piece by piece, until he found what had gone so wrong inside of them and remove it with his bare hand. Omid could even feel the warm, wet blood between his fingers as breathed in Rania’s scent. He tried not to squeeze too hard or too much. He wanted to, though. He wanted to follow her and keep a shield on her at all times. Let them try to break through his Red. They would die trying.

Tourak, Rania is right. You were very brave. We just want to make sure that you’re safe now. You’re going to stay with my siblings. You’ll be safe there until I get help for Rania and we sort this out.” Omid said, attempting a bit of diagnostic Craft to verify just how bad off Rania was. All he could see in his mind was how close he’d been to arriving too late. He shouldn’t have let her remain at the shop alone. His anger at the Sabbah was second only to his anger at himself for not being there for her when she needed him.

No one’s going to come after either of you. I promise you that.” Omid said.

It was his turn to draw back and look at her when she said that someone else had been here while he was outside. His thoughts immediately went to another member of Clan Sabbah, here to get revenge for his fallen clanmates, but...Rania’s explanation didn’t line up with that. Someone helped her and then left. He kept his face covered and didn’t give his name? Why would anyone who knew him hide his identity? Why not speak to Omid directly?

Omid didn’t have time to sort that out. He just wanted to make sure that Rania didn’t suffer longer than necessary. He supported her so that they could move together.

We’ll talk about this visitor later. Let’s get you some help.

Omid wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He would help Rania get better.