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Mother Gaia's Home for the Lost.

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Susan continued to eye them with deep mistrust, her blue eyed gaze staring at them for the longest moment before her arms folded over her chest. She was rightfully wary, with the Enrele on their doorstep, the civil war, and the lack of protection from the Lagrimosan military, the poor girl had more on her plate than she should. Dhizzandra often tried to assuage the fears of the children, but only so much could be done when the world around you was falling apart.

Her golden gaze settles on Yshmael, ruby lips curling into a beguiling smile – not intentionally, this is how she is built.

“Susan, please set the table to include our guests.” Susan looks momentarily like she might argue, but a gentle urging of Dhizzandra’s emerald hand sets her to her task. With Susan now otherwise occupied, her attention returns fully to Yshmael and his crew, her head inclining towards him ever so slightly.

“I am pleased to have the attention of the Church, for surely She gazes on us favorably to have sent you.” The dryad motions to the manor before them, just large enough to house the children within. “Unfortunately I have no room in the main home to house you, but there is barracks style sleeping in the building just to the left of the front door if you would rather stay here than the temple.” She pauses then, golden gaze widening as she peers at Yshmael. “Ah! My manners, I am sorry. I am Dhizzandra, the young woman who greeted you is Susan, and the rest of the children will be milling about tending to their chores.” Her emerald hands move to clasp in front of her, a few tendrils of vine milling about the floor at her feet.

“Come, let us share a meal before we discuss business. I’m sure your trip was long and tiring.” Without further discussion of their purpose here, Dhizzandra waves them towards the table, gentle hands guiding them to a large oak table that spanned the entirety of the dining room with bench seating. Susan was there, placing bowls until her arms were empty of them. Twisting, the girl moves to gather cups as the dryad motions them to sit. “Please, rest your feet while we bring dinner.” Vines slither amongst their forms as pitchers of cool water are placed on the table, carted by the very same vines.

Finally, Dhizzandra grasps the large bubbling pot and moves it closer, motioning for the nearest bowl as Susan sets three freshly baked batches of rolls on the table.

“Remember, if you eat all your dinner, there are cinnamon rolls for dessert.” She winks at Yshmael, a coy smile ‘pon her lips even as one of the children cheers from another room in the house as the patter of feet thunders along the hallway as they rush to wash and seat themselves.

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Y S H M A E L ,  T H R I C E - B L E S S E D  A G E N T

Disciple | Nomadic Priest of the Church

 

 

“Susan, please set the table to include our guests.” Susan looks momentarily like she might argue, but a gentle urging of Dhizzandra’s emerald hand sets her to her task. With Susan now otherwise occupied, her attention returns fully to Yshmael and his crew, her head inclining towards him ever so slightly.
 

       Yshmael could not help but smile as Dhizzandra spoke warmly of Her, remembering to express his warmth through smile-and-head-tip to Susan as she went about her duties. His eyes moved from her to the space they moved through as they stepped behind Dhizzandra with respectable space given. A charming abode, to say the least! His boots, clean of debris or dust, greeted the floor with grace as he followed along. When she spoke of housing arrangements he immediately began to raise his hands in objection, shaking his head.
 

“I am pleased to have the attention of the Church, for surely She gazes on us favorably to have sent you.” The dryad motions to the manor before them, just large enough to house the children within.

“Unfortunately I have no room in the main home to house you, but there is barracks style sleeping in the building just to the left of the front door if you would rather stay here than the temple.” She pauses then, golden gaze widening as she peers at Yshmael.

 

"You must not worry about finding space for us! She provides much space in this world, even in Dougton! The building to the left -- is it also yours?" He asked, only for his attention to break as soon as she went to introduce herself. 
 

“Ah! My manners, I am sorry. I am Dhizzandra, the young woman who greeted you is Susan, and the rest of the children will be milling about tending to their chores.” Her emerald hands move to clasp in front of her, a few tendrils of vine milling about the floor at her feet.


       Dhizzandra..  It played through his mind probably dozens of times as he peeped the vines near her feet. He could tell she was not human, much less from Here.. but tolerance as well as compassion deemed her unworthy of swift action or ill intent. On the contrary, he was smitten by her generosity.. The places he might be had someone not extended a hand when he was in need. Her kindness would not go unrewarded. Gaia tended to bless those who worked for what they wanted; when one spread that generosity, it was infectious and too hard to abstain from flourishing in such righteous environments. The temple worked to save lives, as did the military and government within the settlement -- but so did she. Taking it upon herself, with nothing more than space and love to offer, to help these children.. It touched Yshmael's heart to bear witness. His mind came back to reality from the stretched moment, once more returning his attention to her as she continued speaking.

 

“Come, let us share a meal before we discuss business. I’m sure your trip was long and tiring.” Without further discussion of their purpose here, Dhizzandra waves them towards the table, gentle hands guiding them to a large oak table that spanned the entirety of the dining room with bench seating. Susan was there, placing bowls until her arms were empty of them. Twisting, the girl moves to gather cups as the dryad motions them to sit. “Please, rest your feet while we bring dinner.” Vines slither amongst their forms as pitchers of cool water are placed on the table, carted by the very same vines.


"Our trip was long, indeed. By Her Grace, we arrived without much issue. Helping one another and preserving the peace as we traveled kept things manageable." The Priest gestured to the others, who filed into the eating area but did not sit when initially offered. They all looked to each other, none of them wishing to take seats from the residents of the home. When the vines came, Yshmael dared not flinch, though one of the others did raise a foot from being startled. Probably some abbey-dweller, he mused inwardly, right corner of his mouth curling in a smirk before he shifted in his space to address her.

"I would not wish to take seats away from your youth, Dhizzandra." A cheeky smile warmed his face as he looked to the dryad. If there were seats left, sure enough they would seat themselves after Susan passed by with bread and bowls with the Nomad seating himself last, if possible. Feeling the connection to the flora she bore was an immensely pleasing thing to behold. The things he could pick up from her, should his Discipline allow-- even further, should she allow him. 

 

       If seating permitted, he would sit, looking to Dhizzandra with mildly warmed cheeks as she winked. "You pry at my baser cravings; surely they will be delicious.." He looked around the table, greeting the children and adolescents with nothing but love to offer. 

 

 

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“The building to the left is also ours, yes. Freshly erected by the fine craftsmen that have come to take refuge here, for they are as welcome as the children. We have seen quite a few fleeing from the civil war, of course.” She sighs, waving a hand as though to rid the air of an unpleasant topic. Furthermore, her attention was rapt on the clergy as they sat.

“Ah, of course there is room for everyone. The table is quite large.” True to her word, the men sat easily and only took half the table. The children filed in as well, taking seats among them as they wiggled their clean selves in their designated spots. It would seem that their guests disrupted their schedule none, despite Susan’s non-vocal protests. After things have been set about, Susan disappears out the front door, presumably to head back to the home she has been adopted out to. She returned from time to time to help.

Derrick, the oldest of the boys sits beside one of the abbey-dwellers and peers at him or her curiously, before motioning to Daniella, who rose to get the highchair for Caitlyn, the sixth month old babbling adorably as she is placed into the highchair, her chubby arms waving as Daniella disappears into the kitchen to return with a bottle, offering it to her as Caitlyn gurgles.

“Now then, bowls please.” Dhizzandra states as Lucy waves her spoon at one of the clergy as she passes her bowl down to be filled with the stew that has been bubbling in the pot.

“How come yer all…uhm. Wearing weird stuff?” She asks, no ill intent in her question, but rather childhood curiosity. The other children, those old enough to have the same pressing thoughts seem to lean in to hear the answer.

“That’s hardly polite.” The dryad chastises, but not harshly. Instead she follows the motions of filling bowls and passing them about. The children seem to be used to this style of eating as they pass the bowls down to the end, patiently waiting their own. Derrick assists in passing out the bread – it is a rich, barley bread that is dense and pleasant to the touch, and he sets the plate with it down in front of their guests. Lucy doesn’t wait an answer as she dips her spoon into the steaming bowl of stew before raising a bit to her mouth to blow on it so that it doesn’t scald her.

“Ah!” Dhizzandra protests, offering a creasing of her gentle brow. “You know, first we pray.” Lucy lets the spoon plop back down into the bowl with the briefest of pouts, quickly wiped from her visage as she reaches for the stranger next to her, and places a hand ‘pon Caitlyn.

Bowing her head, Dhizzandra reaches for Yshmael’s hand, her own warm and inviting as it takes ahold. There is a gentle strength that promises brutality should she be crossed, however.

"Earth, Terra, Gaia! Mother of All, Giver of Gifts and of Life,

I offer all of my prayers to thee, my respect and gratitude, and may this be a conscious oath to protect you and to honor you as I recognize the great need for your healing.

May your fields be rich and your soil fertile, and may they be sown and reaped with care.

May your mountains attest to your splendor and strength and your valleys hum with the lullaby of your receptive embrace.

May your oceans, waters, rivers, and glaciers be pure and nourishing as the life-blood of the planet.

May your air be clean and free of toxins that all may breathe deeply and fully the great life-force.

May your turning invoke an understanding of all cyclical things in nature; of growth and decay, of planting and harvest, of karmic cycles and that as we give, so do we receive.

May your children learn to care for you and love you, and to teach their children the same.

You are the Earth, and I am your child.”

Once it was finished, there was a gentle murmur of agreement among the children as they reclaimed their hands and began to dig into their meals with a savagery that only children can manage, but not so that it was impolite. 

"Please, see your stomachs filled." Dhizzandra moves to take her place at the head of the table, crossing one leg over the other at the knee as her golden gaze twinkles at them. 

 

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Y S H M A E L ,  T H R I C E - B L E S S E D  A G E N T

Disciple | Nomadic Priest of the Church

 

 

 

      The Priest could not help but smile as they were ushered into their seats by Dhizzandra’s reassurances. Taking in what she had to say about the building next door, he had immediately begun to think of the ways they might utilize such an expansion. Her welcoming warmth would unwind the wayward Son and his company without issue. As the children filled in the table, Yshmael began counting and taking in their dimensions as best he could from a glance or tap-of-the-foot mapping. 

“How come yer all…uhm. Wearing weird stuff?”
 

“Weird stuff, you say?” He chirped back without so much as a frown. In fact, the dimple of his cheeks deepened as he grinned. 
 

“That’s hardly polite.” The dryad chastises, but not harshly.


       Yshmael’s eyes drew across the table from Lucy to Dhizzandra as she reprimands her briefly. It was nice to see how she remained aware even as she toiled to see their needs met. Bowl after bowl passed along as bread found dozens of eager fingers; it was a treasure to see the semblances of a family setting. What he would do to sit down to dinner again with his family.. Had the world been made of ifs and wants, it might be possible. But the world was of permanence and perseverance. It was of great reward born of even greater hardships with impossibly intricate outcomes that hardly felt worth the effort one had put in to achieve such. But that was life.


“Ah!” Dhizzandra protests, offering a creasing of her gentle brow.

 “You know, first we pray.”
 

       Hands found one another after Lucy was scolded for her lapse in memory. A light chuckle was elicited as he ruminated on similarities in his own past at dinners. When her hand found his own, he was warmed all over as blood pumped by his pounding heart circulated with vigor. His tough hide, so used to claw and tooth and blade’s edge, now taken by the dryad and giving her the tender contact he might a delicate leaf, though he knew she was far stronger than such. Since coming out of the tundra in the North, this was one of the only bouts of softer work. Liberation, defense, public aid.. Not much compared to the values upheld at a dinner table. Dhizzandra’s head tipped down and Yshmael’s yielded almost immediately. The strength retained in her gentle touch was evidence of her power and invigorating essence. Be it pheromones or not meeting many women in his travels worth his time, the Nomad could not help but smile with eyes clamped shut. As she prayed, he repeated it to himself.
 

 

"Earth, Terra, Gaia! Mother of All, Giver of Gifts and of Life,

I offer all of my prayers to thee, my respect and gratitude, and may this be a conscious oath to protect you and to honor you as I recognize the great need for your healing.

May your fields be rich and your soil fertile, and may they be sown and reaped with care.

May your mountains attest to your splendor and strength and your valleys hum with the lullaby of your receptive embrace.

May your oceans, waters, rivers, and glaciers be pure and nourishing as the life-blood of the planet.

May your air be clean and free of toxins that all may breathe deeply and fully the great life-force.

May your turning invoke an understanding of all cyclical things in nature; of growth and decay, of planting and harvest, of karmic cycles and that as we give, so do we receive.

May your children learn to care for you and love you, and to teach their children the same.

You are the Earth, and I am your child.”


“May She Preserve Us..” He said in a solemn tone, finishing his own prayers within himself moments after she spoke her own. When complete and murmur of agreement circulated, Yshmael opened his eyes. 


"Please, see your stomachs filled." 

 

“You honor us with this meal after our laborious travels.. For this we thank you and wish Her most bountiful blessings upon you and yours.” He could not help but to bow his head and present Triaditional mudra in the process. The priests surrounding and the workers all tipped their heads and said their own iterations of ‘thank you’ and whatnot before digging into their bowls and bread. Yshmael was content with tearing his bread and beginning his dish slowly to savor each note. He could not help himself but to pick up the pace a bit the further he got into his bowl, though.. 

 

Truly She blesses me with such company— us!... she did hold my hand.. I must know this.. Dhizzandra. 

 

       His mind would wander as he fed himself, occasionally taking a smile filled glance around the tables. The sun was to be down in the next few hours, and the priests and workers were sure to need rest soon. Yshmael’s disposition had yet to outwardly falter, though his mind longed to seclude itself and unwind. In time, he assured himself, he would have that rest. For now, though, he was to enjoy her company and give thanks to Her for their paths crossing. Personable folk were far and few between at times. His eyes fell upon her and then slanted right back to his bowl, his posture nice and erect even while he ate; it was delicious. She was lovely. 

 

What would come of his time with Dhizzandra? Only She could know.. 

 

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His roughened hand fit so well in her own, that Dhizzandra found herself longing to regain the connection as soon as it was severed, though she tempered that want with caution. Yshmael, she could sense, was sincere in his directives but it would not be the first time she had been burned by those that would claim themselves loyal to the same priorities that she carried.

The children finished first, as children usually do. Their bowls clattered together until Lucy and Derrick take the towering dishes to the washbasin.

“Tell me, Yshmael, how long has She held you in her care?” Dhizzandra asks, casting a curious golden gaze in his direction even as she finishes a glass of water in front of her. She curiously does not partake of the food, though there is a noticeable perk when cinnamon rolls arrive as though brought down by heaven itself. Derrick and Lucy leave them on the table after plucking their own from the heap – a sticky, gooey mess of frosting and sweet roll with a hint of cinnamon. The dryad hesitates, ensuring that all have gained their delights before plucking her own.

“Guilty pleasure, these.” A bite is taken, and the dryad chews it before speaking once more. “I learned to make these in a tavern, in another world.” She was not Valucre native, after all. Perhaps a fact that Yshmael might find curious, but she was not eager to divulge the curiosities of her nature just yet. Instead, she waits for their gathering to finish their meal, Daniella – another one of the children moves to grasp one of the toddlers and heads to their rooms to brush teeth after sweets.

Dhizzandra finds herself hard pressed to keep her attention from focusing solely on Yshmael. It had been decades since she had encountered a truly pious vassal of her Goddess, and it is a refreshing breath of air that so many of them exist in this strange world of Valucre.  Still, there was something that brought heat to her cheeks at the thought of his calloused hand in her own again, though she refrains from lingering too long on such thoughts, surely the fascination of a lonely mind. She clears her throat once more in effort to regain her thoughts. “But you didn’t come to hear me ramble about my past, I’m sure. If you’re finished, I’ll show you to the building you’ll be staying in.”

She rises, expectant of them to do the same. Not because she demands them to, though it is obvious she is used to commanding some respect, but because they follow a similar creed. Her bare feet slip silently across the wooden floor. She glissades easily, prying the front door open, it’s hinges creaking ominously as it swings before finally ceasing once it reaches the wall. She leads them across the growing grass – where a land destitute once stood, now fertile and flush with life – and pauses to gently apply a fingertip to a bush of berries. Beneath her loving touch, it straightens and a few budding leaves unfurl, as her feet step, flora rises from her footsteps, miniscule in nature, but ever present so long as her feet touched Gaia’s generous domain.

It was not far to the building that housed the adults on the premises, though the building was likely larger than expected. It had to be, to house the 18 adults that had come as refugees either fleeing the war, or other persecutions. Each of them had proven themselves time and time again, and Dhizzandra casts an affectionate gaze over the few that have made their way to the building – the others still working even as the sun threatens to disembark. Numerous beds are crammed together, though conditions don’t seem terrible. The open floor of the building is clean, and a gentle fire roars in the corner. It is warm, a thankful thing in the chill of the night that is sure to come. There, in the corner, is a restroom, though the area remains blissfully open to allow free passage in and out, though it lacks in privacy. 

Thick blankets cover each bed, and Dhizzandra smiles as her gaze settles on them. It seemed all but a few beds nearest the door were claimed.

“The temple donated the blankets, Praise Her, they have been a great blessing.” Then, her hands clasp in front of herself, ruffling the leaves of her dress and their autumnal colors bright in the waning light. “This is where you can stay, just claim whatever beds are left when everyone tucks in. Breakfast is early, shortly after the rooster crows.” Telling time in Valucre was still a foreign concept to her. The cycle of the day always felt just a tad…off, though she knew them to be correct. "Is there a preference for foods?" Her golden gaze finds Yshmael's once more, though it lingers on the outline of his visage, as though drinking in the depth of his character. 

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