|Samen Vloe Firenze|
A miner's funeral is today. He worked in heat and cold, in loneliness and tight spaces. Over the course of his life, he missed exactly five days in the mines, four of which were to witness the births of his children. Respected by his crew, the Elder Firenze will surely draw many into attendance. Those who can spare time away from the mines, that is.
An oread's funeral is today. Living in an ifrit town with a sylph wife was not always easy, but words of complaint never passed his lips. They were his decisions, and the consequences were a price gladly paid. Surprising all but his wife, he has requested to be burned, rather than buried. If his parents, far to the north, are even aware of his death, they have chosen not to acknowledge it.
A father's funeral is today. Even those estranged from the family have returned to pay their respects. The els grouse in the bar about the elder son, who left to study alchemy or some such nonsense, rather than picking up his father's trade. Eles gossip in the market about the second son - maybe he joined a cult up in Forest? Come to think of it, all the children of the Firenze family are a little off. At least the girl, though odd, has an honest trade - she makes good arrows and knows how to shoot. The young one is strangest of all - between the tattoos and the way he talks, no one in town knows quite what to make of him.
Today, there will be a funeral. Tomorrow, it will be back to the mines.
Your father was gravely injured about two weeks ago, giving Samoon and Wamblee time enough to arrive for the funeral, but not time to say goodbye.
Samoon and Wamblee: Have you arrived yet, or are you just coming into town?
All: The ceremony is about two candles (hours) away. Where are you right now? What are you doing? Who are you with, or are you alone? What are your thoughts?
Unless he has other plans, I’m going to assume Marianne and Samoon would have secluded themselves in an old hangout to reminisce and catch up.
”Remember when you were so proud of yourself for teaching me to shoot that you tried to teach Dad?” Marianne asks with a chuckle. ”I think, no, I know I learned more about bow making replacing each one he broke than he did about archery. Sky’s unending reaches, I think he nearly hit you while you were standing behind him a few times,” she sighs, and a slight breeze might have sighed through the surrounding brambles along with her. “No, Dad was good at what he did, and not one thing besides.”
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Samen is off on his own, in a secluded shack in the woods. He's not sure who it belongs to, but he's never seen anyone there, and the door doesn't lock. If someone asked him to leave, he would, but it's never come up. He comes here frequently to read and practice his elemental techniques.
"I really should go home, for father. But there are people there. Perhaps I should show up late so nobody notices me. I don't want to cause a ruckus. Samoon and Wamblee are going to be there, and they're going to be mad at me, I know it."
Samen continues reading a history book he borrowed from Forge while pondering these thoughts.
Samoon is home, preparing himself for what he will say at the funeral. As eldest, he's expected to speak.
...speaking in public with emotion is not his strong suit. He can recite magical formulae, alchemical admixtures, but to speak about his swirling, fractured family, that's another thing entirely.
He's had time to get the dust off his boots and change into something proper to speak in. A quiet meal with Mum and Marianne.
He's relieved to have time for after-meal recollections with Marianne.
Samoon's sallow face slowly forms into a grin. "He could split rock like none other. He could smell a vein of ore. You remember how we'd go have a 'snack' with him? I don't think Mum liked those. We walked for hours, up into the hills. I did like the crunchy treats he brought, but...augh, to think anyone finds it odd that I went off to study. Every moment with him was study. Every..."
He looks at Marianne, eyes brimming. "I didn't expect this. I mean, we all know risks, but...not Dad. How in the darkest Dark can I speak about him? To a bunch of people who find me a stranger nowadays?"
A lone figure can be seen walking in from the west, from the direction of Forest. Tall for an Oread, and well-built, he wears light leather clothing adorned with feathers that does not impede his movements. While they are stowed away from immediate use, any more than a casual glance will reveal that he has several weapons of unusual and exotic make stowed on his person.
He is Wamblee Firenze, and he silently mourns.
An Ifrit traveller on the road a few candles ago informed him of the funeral. The traveller had business elsewhere and could not remain for the funeral.
There is always toil here. Must we always adopt the ways of the Ifrit, instead of growing our own path?
If any els point or mutter at his passing, he pays them no heed.
Words are ephemeral. And soon forgotten.
The lie is obvious immediately.
*His* words are not forgotten. And I doubt *my* words were either. I wonder what the others will make of me now, with Him no longer here.
He keeps his steady pace towards the Firenze family home.
”Tell them that story you just told me, or ones like it. If it’s your duty as eldest son to speak, then speak as his son. They all already know the man, and his friends will speak of him as such besides. You don’t need to tell them about Elder Firenze, best miner in this little damned village. Just tell them about Dad,” she shrugs, toying with a strange scroll case produced from one of her numerous quivers. “That’s all I have for you Samoon...”
Wamblee, your mother greets you with a peremptory, "There you are." You both look each other over for a moment, taking in the hundred small changes the years have wrought. She is older, of course - the gray hairs among the velvet black are no shock. That she seems smaller is the surprise. Compressed by gravity or grief, you cannot say.
Unlike its owner, the house is the same. The wooden floors are fastidiously clean. Father's chair looms large and out of place among the smaller furniture. You can smell the memory of a thousand mediocre ifrits dishes and a handful of exceptional sylph ones.
Lost in contemplation, you are taken off guard when Mother is suddenly hugging you fiercely. The top of her head only reaches your chest. So softly you are unsure she meant to be heard, she whispers, "You look so much like him."
Samen, you hardly hear the door open - you are deep into a treatise concerning a series of battles between ifrit and undine forces in late 997 FS. It seems utter madness to you that elen could fight amongst themselves under the omnipresent threat of the Dark, but it is just another example of the inexplicable-
"Alone, and reading a book. I was hoping I would catch you drinking or something." Laughter in her eyes, Krissa is only two or three feet away from you. Her expression sobers. "Your mother asked me to find you. I've seen you slinking this way into the wood before - I'm probably the only one who knows about it. I normally wouldn't bother you in your little hidey-hole, but you know she would be crushed if you didn't make it."
She gently pushes your book down another few inches to ensure you are paying attention. Her dull auburn hair curls slightly on her shoulders. "Were you planning on 'accidentally' being late, just like you used to do at school?"
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Of all the people to come looking for him, Krissa certainly caught him off guard. The scent of her hair dangling in his face was intoxicating, like lavender and vanilla. He burns like an ifrit at her suggestion of intimate knowledge of him. He hopes it doesn't show through his dark complexion.
"N-no, of course not. I was planning on going to the restroom during the awkward bits."
He makes a mental note of where he was in the book, then closes it."Is it time already? Any chance I could just sneak in the back unnoticed?"
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Samen gets up and stretches out. His muscles tell him he had been sitting there longer than he thought. "*Sigh* No, I simply don't want to talk to anyone, and they don't want to talk to me either."
He looks around, unsure if he should move for the door or wait for her to exit first. He starts to move, but then thinks better of it. "Uh, after you. Thanks for fetching me."
Samoon sighs. "You're right, of course, sis. We'd better head back." He stands up, then pauses. "You know, I didn't leave because I was angry at anyone. ...I hope you weren't angry with me for going with, you know."
Samoon blows out a breath after that little revelation, chuckling wanly, as both he and his sister have similar breezes wafting about them at times. Changing the subject before she has a chance to reply, he nods down at the house below. "Those two rock-heads should be down there by now. Ugh! I'm late."
Wamblee returns his mother's embrace.
Not just look like him. For better or worse.
"Too much alike in stubborness too. We argued. How, how was he before the end?"
”I was surprised to see those winds when you got home. I thought you would have hidden or forsaken Fallen Sky’s blessing entirely while in Light.” A mischevious grin lights across her delicate face, at Samoon’s mention of their brothers. ”Yeah, Wamblee showed up somewhere around five minutes ago, and I would assume that Krissa will have lured Samen away from wherever he goes to hide by now.” The grin turns a touch malicious as she stands, stretching in a manner blatantly intended to show her fitness. ”And if Samen’s almost here, you could very well be late. Sounds like we should run to the bottom. Care for a race?”
"Forsaken....oooh! You little scamp!" Samoon starts running without being prompted. "And I know you're faster, Mar!" I'm going to enjoy my 1 second lead while it lasts, he thinks.
I’m guessing we will show up after Mother has responded to Wamblee.
Marianne barely manages to catch Samoon, and even then at the last second. She taps the wall lightly to signal her victory even as Samoon catches up to her. After a pause to catch their breath, she grins enters the house ahead of him. She stops short at the sight of Wamblee though. ”Fal-“ she cuts off sharply with a barely noticeable glance at Mother. ”Wamblee... you look just like him.” And suddenly she’s hugging him, completely unaware of the similarity to Mother’s response.
Mother starts to say something, chokes up, then says, "He held on as long as he could. The injury..." She shakes her head. "He wanted to see you-"
And suddenly Marianne and Samoon run into the house, panting from a race, no doubt. Mother gives a disapproving look for Marianne's cut-off exclamation, but saves her full attention for Samoon. Quietly she says, "Well son, have you been thinking about what words you will say today?"
Wamblee is about to reply to Mother then is seized upon by Marianne. He her hugs back as he did with Mother.
"Mar, Samoon, it is good to see you both. Very good."
He is glad though for the momentary reprieve when Mother turns to Samoon.
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Samoon bows to his mother. "Mum. Yes. I---" He gives her a hug, albeit slightly stiffly, then gives her a sad smile. "We needed some air. Almost a snack. Yes, I'm ready. I've brought the stones to place in his ashes." He pulls out pieces of chert, chalcedony and obsidian, rough and unhewn. He extends a crooked arm elbow-first, ready to link arms with his mother, as is his place to escort her to the funerary site and seat her.
As an afterthought he starts. "Oh. Wamblee. My goodness, we have to catch up." He pauses, then extends a fist bump from where he stands, near Mother. "Filial duties first." He smiles apologetically. "Where's that other blockhead? Really, Mum, we're just not a punctual family."
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Samen returns home in silence, as is his preference. He comes into sight of the house just in time to see Marianne and Samoon run in like children out of the cold.
Some things never change, it seems.
He takes a deep breath and ambles over to the house, not particularly eager for this reunion.
The instant Samen enters the house, you all hear the familiar lament, said in the exact same cadence for over twenty years, "Samen Vloe Firenze! How is it that your brothers, coming from gods know where, are here before you? And what is that that you're wearing? All of you, for that matter? Go put on something presentable while there's still time." She makes shooing motions at all of you, and gently pushes on Samen to get him moving.
She grabs Samoon's arm. Almost reluctantly, she says, "Thank you for bringing the stones. You have done well. I will be happy to take your arm." She smiles ever so slightly. "After you freshen up. I've got a clean shirt for you on the bed."
Marianne goes to the room she still lives in, she never did see any reason to move out, given her plans to leave town entirely. She emerges shortly clad in a long robe that constitutes significantly more clothing than she ever wears, although, the choice is hardly strange given the effect her winds have on the fabric. The warm yellow fabric billows behind her as she steps back into the living room. It’s the one of two concessions she’s made, her bow is still slung over her shoulder, and she has somehow mounted a single quiver despite all the cloth in the way. At least the pack is gone, but even the armored tunic is still occasionally visible as the winds ripple the fabric.
Samoon looks down at his "formal" shirt...finally noticing alchemical stains and some rock dust. "Oh. Um. Yes, Mum." He ducks away to change. Oh Dead Winds, Samen with his tattoos. Does he think he's the mature one here? Ha. We all need some cider jack after this.
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
"I... But... Yes mother." Arguing was pointless.
And she wonders why I take my time coming home.
Samen goes to his room and looks through his closest for the most appropriate outfit. He settles on a dark hooded cloak that he can hide in.
At least the color is appropriate for a funeral. Blessed journey, father, wherever you've gone.
Oops, I got so caught up writing that’s last post I forgotten why she was dressing up. The robs is most definitely whatever color is religiously appropriate for an oread’s funeral, assuming black.
Wamblee returns Samoon's fist bump with a smile.
At Mother's lament, he nods in agreement.
Argument would bring us nowhere. And after all, she is correct. We are not dressed as well as we could be.
"As you say Mother. I will clean off the dust of the mountain and road."
He begins to walk towards his old room.
If the room has been repurposed, or clothing is elsewhere, Mother will surely tell me.
He will look for simple, dark clothing. He is not fond of ostentation.
Chapter One. Returns and Goodbyes.
It is Ashday, Mistrites the 17th.
It is twelfth candle.
It is a strange day, a day of unstable weather. At one moment, the chill wind picks up and screams of inevitable winter. In the next, the breeze stills, and the warm earth reminisces of summer. The distant peaklight from Volcano slowly wavers between pumpkin orange and daisy yellow. Thick clouds sprint across the dead sky, revealing patches of darkness in their haste. It is a day of change.
Though the local temple is only two stories tall, it is nonetheless the second largest building in town. Unlike the Grand Temple of Hearth, made of gleaming obsidian, this humble temple is composed of simple granite blocks. The priest, too, is simple, and ordinary. The flames on his robes are worn, fading into shapeless patches of red and orange. Behind him, upon the wall, is the crimson triangle of Volcano. Before him stands the closed pyre box.
The Firenze family sits together at the front bench. The stone is cold and comfortless. The second row is half-filled with the few miners that could escape work for the day. They are dressed in their finest clothing - the set that does not go underground with them.
The shabby priest says the blessings. The words are ashes pouring from his mouth, nothing more than a sign of a life ended.
Who will speak? What do you say?
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Samoon rises, patting his mother's hand, and walks to the podium. He looks out at the audience. Don't reveal your disappointment at the turnout. That's the life of miners. That's why you left. Partly. He consults his notes and then speaks the words of High Ignan.
SSaeudru Ssa, ksthe-ssthethu. Ssaeudru Ssa, kstha-sshielui. Ksan Tulivuorish Vulkaan Kazan.
He pauses and smiles.
"I stand before you in the tradition of our elders to speak of my father, who gave us the family name Firenze."
"But I can't really speak about him in formal terms. I knew him--know him--as Dad. You all know him as a man dedicated to his work. To delve the seemingly inexhaustible mines of this land. A man whose pick and shovel seemed like extensions of his soul. And he--"
"He showed us that soul at home, as well. That fire in his eyes when finding a new vein of ore--we saw it too, his children, in his delight at our own young discoveries, of a moth or slug, or teaching us how to make a fire for the first time, or asking us about the drawings we made on slate or vellum. His, heh, his walks with us for a 'snack'. Mother would be yelling for us for those walks. Sorry, Mum," he says, his eyes suddenly glistening with tears, and a smile on his face.
"A life cut short gives us all a sense of loss and injustice. It's up to us to find the justice in moving forward, unbreak our circles, and honor my dad--your friend, your love, that hole in your heart--with something new. Today we commit him to fire, and place Earth's stones with his ashes. Tomorrow we rise with fire in our hearts and the wind at our backs, and the tears of our sorrow will moisten the volcanic earth and bring new life to sprout, green and good, in this difficult world."
He nods at the congregation.
"I will always miss and love you, Dad. In Volcano's name, may you all love and be loved." He places a hand on his heart, nods again, composes himself, and walks heavily to his seat, a little shaken.
Marianne offers Samoon a smile as he sits back down, a trace of tears in her own eyes. Doesn't know what to say my hiney. Here I was expecting to have to cover for him when his speech fell flat, and then the idiot goes and says it all better than I could have. He'd be proud of you, Samoon.
Wamblee gives Samoon a discreet fistbump, right down at the seat level. And a slight nod of gratitude.
I could not have done that. Well done Samoon.
Two of the miners from Father's crew speak - true words of a hard-working el who always did his fair share, and more. One of the els, an ifrit about Father's age, even confesses to having his life saved by the Elder Firenze, many years ago, when the ifrit showed up to work drunk.
The priest looks around to see if anyone else will speak. When no one comes forward, he nods. "A life well-lived, as we have heard from his family and friends. We now send Hotah Firenze to be with Volcano in Igniscoeli." Holding the torch aloft, he places it upon the pyre. The treated wood burns fast and hot, the smoke escaping from the hole in the second-story roof high above.
When it is done, the priest gathers up the ashes into a plain brown urn. Gently, he places the urn in Mother's hands. After a few soft words from the miners and the priest, the family is left alone in the Temple. Mother seems frozen, unable to move from the stone bench. Through the doors you can hear the wind howl and die, howl and die.
Wamblee places a hand on Mother's left shoulder and remains silent.
Samoon turns and gives his mother a side-hug, to allow for the other children to embrace her as well.
"We need...ahem...we need to take Dad, Mum. And put the urn at the hearth. ...And we also all need a drink. I brought cake from Light," he says, "It has cacao frosting."
”A drink? Fallen Sky’s dead winds, you think I need a drink after that speech!?” Marianne snaps at him, crying freely now, and unwilling to hold her tongue in public at the moment. She starts reaching out in turn until she has drawn the whole family into a fierce hug.
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Samen also remains silent, afraid to ruin the moment. He joins the group hug, with tears on his face.
I hadn't thought about it until now, but what comes next? Presumably, life will go on, but what is our next step? Food seems reasonable. One thing at a time."
Samoon holds his younger siblings tight, his mother near to him, for what seems like forever.
After that eternity, though, he finally unlocks his arms. "Ok. Cake."
"And did anyone call him Hotah? 'Whet' and 'Whetty', I heard from his old friends..." ...who aren't here, because they left or they're dead...or hmmm... "Because damn, he could sharpen his tools like nobody else. Makes me want to go find that big slab of hornfels he showed us..."
Mother accepts all of your help getting home. She gives each of you a smile full of tears, silently thanking you for your kindness.
Uncle Howahkan lies on the fastidiously clean wooden floors. Despite the afternoon candle, he is snoring, fast asleep. His short beard, the color and texture of hill grass gone yellow for the winter, marks the timing of each breath. The smell of wine, faint but obvious, lurks in the room.
Uncle Howie is from out of town, lives two or three days' travel north into Forest. On good terms with most or all of you. Oread, your father's younger brother.
He snorts a few times, and sits up. In a deep bass made hoarse with sleep, he says, "I'm up, I'm up, just resting my eyes. If that bit of fire-themed hand-waving is done with, I am ready to grieve with my family."
He holds his arms open, wide enough to encompass all four of you in a familiar embrace.
Those who live in town, you already knew he was not planning on attending the funeral.
”Come on Uncle, even I attended the service, and you know how I feel about Volcano,” Marianne chides, but her heart obviously isn’t in it. ”Samoon, you promised cake and alcohol, and I could use both right about now.”
"Uncle--did you break into the wine? Tch tch. I hope you didn't eat the--no, it's here." Samoon bustles past his uncle and brings out the cake, then the remnants of the wine. "Samen, cups, please. You know the drill! Mum, your chair."
It's as if no time has passed since their family meal, although the room and chairs seem smaller...but perhaps that makes it warmer.
"Volcano is Volcano," says Samoon. "...Sky." He doesn't feel the need to elaborate. "Cake! Cake! Where's that knife?"
|Samen Vloe Firenze|
Samen obediently fetches the glasses, but refuses to drink. "Drink yourselves senseless if you want. These emotions must be embraced and dealt with soberly. Uncle Howie, you're an embarrassment. May your grief and shame give birth to understanding."
With no further explanation, he leaves the common area and goes to his room to continue studying.
"...it's called 'temperance', Samen." Samoon calls into the other room. "Ugh. Moderation is a far better way than complete privation. Wamblee, tell me that you'll have some. Really, this family and its strange denials." Samoon shakes his head.
"That being said, Uncle, just water for you. Really, you could have shown up for your brother. Speaking of denials. It's not like Volcano was there to smack you on the behind." Samoon doesn't really sound angry--he is resigned to his family's oddities.
Uncle flinches a bit at Samen's rebuke, then gives a sad look to the young el's back as he retreats to his room. "Well, I'll take your advice, nephew, and stick with water. While you are pouring for everyone else, let me tell you a story about Monkey and Vulture..."
I imagine the rest of the afternoon will pass with stories about Father and other talk. After the funeral is a time for good memories, although inevitably there will be some tears too. Everyone besides Samen staying in the common room? Anyone go after him?
Should I go after him? Samen usually processes better alone, but that doesn’t mean he never needs companionship. Whatever, I’ll just keep an eye on him for the next few days to make sure he’s handling it ok.
Marianne turns away from the hall Samen exited down and rejoins the family. She doesn’t glance in that direction again.
"...- with Vulture so distracted, Monkey took back all his bananas, very slowly and with great care. As he was leaving, he bows magnanimously to Vulture. And he say, in his high squeaky voice, 'You can keep the stone, Vulture!'" Uncle laughs his big belly laugh that seems to vibrate even the floorboards.
Taking a deep breath, Uncle settles down into one of the kitchen chairs. He continues to drink his water. "While I'm resting my throat, who wants to tell a story about my brother?" Sipping, he gives each of you a small peek from above the rim of his upturned glass.