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Author Topic: Talking to tombstones, and other ways of making friends: Letters of Ophelia Bell  (Read 856 times)

Naiad

  • Outlander
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  • Posts: 70
A poorly written letter is burned and sent up to the sky. It's writing stiff and erratic, the spacing poor with words meandering around the page at random.

Dear Papa,

I know you probably canít read this. Being that you canít readÖand youíre dead. But maybe this will get to you somehow, and a nice spirit will read this to you. I got some bad news for you papa. I got taken up in some strange place, with strange people, and a strange way of dying. There is no Fugue here. Thatís priest-speak for I wonít find you when I die. We wonít be together no more. Iím sorry papa, but Iím okay. I met a tax collector first thing, so I knew people still had to die around here. I got it easy. Lot of priest and knights donít have such solid proof of faith as I do. People gotta die, and I gotta take care of them. I donít have to go through all the depression and horrible thoughts that come with losing a god. At least, I try not to. Death is easy to rely on. Iím a pretty lucky outlander, ya know? (An outlander is a person from our land. Just to be clear.)

I met some nice people to help me along the way. So Iím not alone. Ictinous, Ictinus, The tax collector is a really smart guy. I bet he writes with those neat twisty curves in his letters. He introduced me to a man named Sentinel Zeles. Youíd like Sentinel Zeles pa. Heís just like you. Realistic and grumpy. Also old. Heís teaching me about the dead of this place. Itís some scary stuff. Long story short, Kelemvor isnít here papa. Weíre on our own when we die here. No gods. No nothing. Just unrest. Itís spooky, but you donít need to deal with it. Iíll not go into detail, so you donít worry about me. Donít worry at all Pa. Iíll be buried proper when I die, and Iíll just sleep. You know how I like naps!

I want to write you more, but my hand is getting tired. Iíll send you another letter soon. Iíll get better at this writing thing. You were right, itís important to know all this reading and this writing. It let me talk to you, even though you are not here. Always the smart one papa.

I miss you. I love you.
XOXO
Ophie 

Ophelia Bell: Your friendly Neighborhood Grave-Keep
Qasim Majib Talib Ju'ur Dai: Confused desert man

Naiad

  • Outlander
  • **
  • Posts: 70
Another letter is burnt and sent to the sky.

Dear Kelemvor,

Hi. I know I should be praying instead of writing to you, but I canít feel you anymore. I kinda miss that, but Iím aware you are busy and canít reach here. Thatís okay, I figured just trying to write you might help. So, if you get this. Iím doing okay. The dead are different here, as Iím certain you are aware. Thereís no Fugue. Which isÖcreepy. It means Iíll probably never see you againÖ. are you going to miss me too?

There is a religion here called the Eternal Order. Not your Eternal Order, but kinda similar. They honor the dead like we do. They do some other stuff too. They are great. I like them a lot. Would it be wrong if I helped them? I know Iím your noviceóIím not a priestess sure, but Iím your novice and thatís important. But youíre not here nowÖwould you be angry if I learned some from them? You canít show me the way anymore, and there are no priests here either. SoooÖ if you are reading this. Know that I still love you, even if Iím listening to what Sentinel Zeles says.

Love,
Ophelia

Ophelia Bell: Your friendly Neighborhood Grave-Keep
Qasim Majib Talib Ju'ur Dai: Confused desert man

Naiad

  • Outlander
  • **
  • Posts: 70
Another awkwardly written, and passionately misspelled letter is burned. It's ashes sent up to the sky above.

Dear Papa,

I wish you could be here with me. You would like this place. The people here might be a bit strange, but thatís because I am mainly surrounded by adventurers, and they are weird regardless of the place. The people of this land are good people, and they remind me of home. I might be an outlander, but I sometimes feel a bit out of place among the other outlanders. I thought it was normal to not be able to fight, or write, or read very well. But most outlanders can do that already. Iím so very far behind them. I try not to let it get to me. Iím getting better at writing, but I still have trouble. Sometimes my outlander friends take it for granted and think spelling things wrong or not being able to write good means someone isnít worth taking seriouslyÖ and that kinda hurts. But all in all, they are still good folk. Iíve met a lot of great people here.

I met a few knights. -real- knights. Siegward and Vichard. They are just like the story books. Really handsome, and brave, and selfless. I spend most of my time with Vichard, and Iím certain heís the bravest person Iíve ever met. Knights are the best. Iíve also met an honest to the gods priestess of both Lathander AND Ilmater. They are just as inspiring as people say they are. They are like little beams of lightÖand itís neat to watch a -real- priestess work. I also met a druidówho turned into a BEAR! A Bear papa!

I also met a local named River who shows me different graves out in the woods. He has a pretty good head on his shoulders, and he helps with the memorial. He made the benches, the crates, the signsÖeverything really. I want to find a way to pay him back. Heís made the memorial a success, and thatís made your memorial better. Problem is, I canít think of a way to do that. Itís a shame your spirit is back at homeÖI could use your smarts. Donít worry though. Iíll think of somethingÖ. eventually.

Iíve also made friends with other locals. The garda here are like the militia back home. Underpaid and overworked. I try to help where I can. They deal with a lot of dead, and they need someone to take it off their hands. You used to tell me about how Grandpa helped the militia back in his day, and thatís how we got our home. Do you think I could do that here? It would be great to have a bed again.

As always, I miss you, but Iím making you proud!

Love,
XOXOXO
Ophie

Ophelia Bell: Your friendly Neighborhood Grave-Keep
Qasim Majib Talib Ju'ur Dai: Confused desert man

Naiad

  • Outlander
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  • Posts: 70
Re: Talking to tombstones, and other ways of making friends
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2020, 03:02:43 PM »
Apocalypse and Cake


Ophelia Bell had believed Warden Creek's doomsaying long before it was anything but the mad ramblings of a zealot. Sentinel Zeles had been crystal clear about the risk the Fourth Sect posed. From the moment Ophelia stepped out from under his shadow, she knew the ezrites would be the death of her, but she hadn't expected that they would take the rest of the world with her. An apocalypse was overkill, but it fit. She considered the ezrite's unparalleled darkness and The Hour to be one and the same. It just made sense. Which meant some dark times were on the horizon.

She didn't allow herself to fall entirely into certainty as she couldn't handle being mocked as well as Creek. Instead, she let the notions dance around her mind, entertaining the idea before drifting off to sleep or mulling it over while pulling weeds. Dropping the topic in conversation and fence-sitting as she listened to those around her. This was the norm until the sky went dark, and the scales started to tip more and more in her head. As the cold turned to a bitter and unnatural chill, she had become convinced she was going to see the end of the world.

There was just one small problem; she wasn't an Ezrite. Ophelia believed in the end of the world, but she wasn't attracted to its trappings. She didn't like Ezra, and she dutifully kept her thoughts to herself when Creek started to go on about the salvation and redemption bits. She didn't buy that Ezra would save anyone but understood that the end of the world was most likely the end of her life. So what did someone do with the knowledge that their hour was at hand? For Ophelia, that was easy, find yourself the best view to watch the world die and something good to eat, and she couldn't think of anything better than cake.

Traveling from Borovia to Dementlieu was a trek Ophelia didn't take often. The ferry was closed, and the road east was cold and ice-bitten. Jack had given her a pair of wolf-fur boots long ago, and they were starting to show their age. The lining had been rubbed thin from constant use, and the leather was soft and beginning to hint towards breaking at the seams. She couldn't bring herself to replace them and was paying for it now that the harsh early winter froze the roads.  Slipping and sliding her way through the forest and up the mountain, the clumsy grave keep ended up in a snowdrift alongside the road several times. The bridge across the falls was a sheet of ice, and her arms hugged the ropes as she shimmied her way inch by inch across the falls and through freezing rain. By the time the caravan was in sight, she was cold, wet, and slightly frostbitten. This was a lot for cake, but that was how good port-ŗ-lucine's food was.

Once she reached the mist camp, she lingered. Meandering around the settlement and peering into tents, looking for Maeldwen. Maeldwen was never in one place for long, which meant the chances of her finding him were slim. It was a rare reward for her patience when she did manage to see him, and it took a lot of effort to corner him and keep him in one place for an evening. She had hoped to rope him along and maybe keep him with her. To finally tackle the awkward conversation of convincing the elf to stay with her. Stay, and eat cake while watching the world crumble. It was a hopeful daydream; she dared even consider it romantic, but it was all in her head. The mist camp was empty, which meant there was an adventure afoot elsewhere. He was off having fun and wouldn't be back any time soon. Giving up on her eager search, she hailed another caravan. For now, she was on her own.

Port-ŗ-Lucine was a beautiful city that Ophelia had no patience for. What was originally a paradise of coffee and sugar proved to be a den of judgment and contempt. One half-hour conversation with the locals had pushed Ophelia spiritually closer to Domencio's side of death than all the injustices of Barovia combined. Yet the cake. The cake was worth the stares. She changed into her skirt and furs, smoothing over the fabric self-consciously before stepping out of the caravan. Nothing she owned was going to make this easier. Yue had loaned her a pretty dress, but it felt like a defeat to use it. She didn't like the idea of giving the city what it wanted. It felt like lying.

Instead, Ophelia drew her cloak in, locked her eyes on the cobble, and strode through the gates. She kept her head down until she heard a voice raised over the rest. She didn't speak their language, and she couldn't understand what it had said, but she could tell it was directed towards her. They had flower girls in the winteróa cart in the frost filled with color and a woman beckoning to her. Ophelia was moving before she realized it, drawn in by the warm red roses and yellow tulips. She didn't know how they managed to grow flowers in the snow, and she wouldn't ask. Despite the language barrier, the flower girl knew how to sell to someone completely unequipped to say no.  Ophelia walked away from the cart, still processing what had transpired, a bouquet in her arms. This cycle repeated until the cake shop. By the time she was making her way back to the covered wagon, she had accumulated not only a bouquet but a whole chocolate cake, a stuffed sheep with a bell, cinnamon sugar sticks, pretty ribbons, a fan with a painted skull, and wooden bird-whistle that chirped. She had used nearly all of her money, having a small jolt of panic as she counted down to the last coin to pay for the ride back home. The trip back was a blur of picking at sweets and toys.

Once home, she set everything out along the hill of the Vallaki Cemetery. Settling into the ledge that overlooked the western wall of the city, next to Florette's grave. She swung her legs over the ridge, cutting them both a piece of cake, making sure to give the dead girl the slice with the icing flower. Licking her fingers clean and digging through her treasure trove, she dug out the wooden bird and started to wrap a bow around its wings. River was probably going to return before everything was gone, and she thought it a perfect gift. She was looking forward to seeing him before the end, and she owed him something nice. With the present wrapped and her duties done, she spent the rest of the evening staring up at the ash-covered sky. The reds of the sunset making the world a hazy orange glow. Despite being alone, she was happy. The cake was sweet, and the winter chill was crisp. Her friend was only six feet away, and the sky promised she might be soon to join her. Ophelia knew things were going to get worse, that it was going to be a loud and terrible affair. Yet, for now, it was a blissful quiet before the storm, and that quiet went great with cake.
Ophelia Bell: Your friendly Neighborhood Grave-Keep
Qasim Majib Talib Ju'ur Dai: Confused desert man