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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 4:53 am 
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Erindring butted against the beaches and cove from where the fisherman pulled their livelihood. As a city, it was a poor showing, not for lack of ambition in size, but just for a lack of imagination. It was the largest port on the eastern coast, but smaller towns to the south were far more successful. If anything as large as it could be described so, the word to come to mind would be 'quaint'.

Year in and year out, the fisherman would set to sea, hauling in the ocean's bounty, but the merchant boats and caravans looked for berth elsewhere. Erindring was a fishing city and angels' light, they liked it that way. They had what they needed and saw little need for much else.

Aerik hated it.

It reminded him far too much of the damnable rock where he'd been raised. He supposed it made sense his brother would wash up here. He'd always been the dutiful son, following in the family footsteps while Aerik had left as soon as he could. Erindring was a fisherman's home and it reminded him too much of choices he'd made, for better or worse. Regardless, once a year he made his way to Erindring to visit his brother.

It had been years since they'd spoken to one another, though.

As Aerik plodded through the snow where the hard packed earth met the cobbles of the town, he adjusted the leather rucksack on his shoulder and listened to the roll of the frigid storm. Aerik felt the snowsquall off the coast coming in with the tide of the middle moon and drew from the frozen depths to nudge it to move faster. Sleet poured down and blanketed the world in white, a fog of ice and howling wind. Everyone quickly retreated to their homes or inns as Aerik walked the streets alone, hands pushed into his pockets as the world around him shrank beneath the hazy storm. Faerie lights glittered in the blizzard beyond, turning snow devils into dancing glimmers. He enjoyed the solitude provided by it all, but for what he needed to do, it was a bit much.

As he strode the empty streets, caked with hoarfrost, he calmed the storm little by little until he reached his destination. The snow still whirled about, a heavy flurry bled of its fury that hid him from everyone else. He stood across the square and stared at his brother's house. In his mind, nothing existed outside what he could see in the storm.

It was a sturdy house, rough edged, but well worn and charmingly rustic. It was big, not overly elaborate, but just large in its presence and Aerik bet it was always warm inside. It was just the sort of house Marten would have for his family. It suited him.

Aerik slung the heavy bag off his shoulder and shirked his jacket. Despite the freezing temperatures, he paid the chill no mind. He'd long ago accepted the cold and it held little sway over him anymore. Kneeling, Aerik scooped the powder in front of himself, packing it and letting cold flow from his hands. The snow took shape as he rolled it, letting it grow until he had trouble rolling it any larger.

Blowing out a breath and watching it drift on the air, Aerik checked his work. It would do to start with and he bent to work again. Rolling the snowball, he grinned. He did this every year, but he still was amused by building these things.

Goblins had made the first few he'd seen on some world he couldn't even name anymore. They'd been set up as guards on a perimeter. Aerik still couldn't decide if it had been brilliant or dumb. Probably dumb, since they'd used them for ALL the sentries. The poor stupid things hardly knew what happened when the camp was attacked.

Nevertheless, the snowy figures had stuck with Aerik. Likely because he couldn't believe nobody on Lania had ever bothered to build one before. If there was one thing Lania had no shortage of, it was snow. Maybe it was just that there was too damn much of it so nobody paid it any mind.

Hoisting the torso atop the base, he shook his head. The thing seemed so childish. Naturally, it was, goblins had thought it up after all, but it seemed something appropriate to do. He'd never met his nieces or his nephew, but this was probably one of the few perks they could get. Growing up a fisher's child was dull and disciplined, and if their childhood was anything like the one he'd shared with Marten, a bit of something whimsical wouldn't hurt.

He wasn't being entirely truthful.

He built it for his brother's children because he dearly wished he'd had a chance to be a father himself. He wished he'd had the chance to do a great many things. In the end, those regrets were what drew him here every year. Why he came to Erindring this day of all days. He just couldn't bear to be alone on the day Kona had died.

The years hadn't dulled the pain, he'd just grown numb to it. He'd learned to live with it, but on this one day, it was too much. He had to find something, anything, that made him feel like he wasn't alone. His wife was gone, a permanent scar that refused to fade. The only family left to him was his brother, but no matter how much he thought of knocking on their door, Marten was from a different life.

His brother didn't even recognize him anymore. Aerik couldn't really blame him. He wasn't the man Marten had known. After everything he'd seen, how could he be? After everything he'd experienced, there just weren't words to close the distance between them.

Aerik had just lived too much.

Settling the head on the torso, he brushed his hands across his trousers and picked up his jacket again. He took rocks from the pockets and placed them onto its face. Every one of them was from a different world he'd travelled to in the past year, a small way to share something with his brother without answering questions he wouldn't have answers for. Pulling a carrot from the same pocket, he planted it in the exact center of its face and stepped back. The snow was falling far more gently, if still nearly as thickly, but the snowman wasn't in any imminent danger of being buried.

Aerik lingered for some time after, watching the smoke rise from the chimney and the clouded glass glow from within. For just a little, the sight was a memory he could get lost in. He felt as if he would see Kona wipe away the frost and motion for him to come in from the cold, to come hold her tight by the fire and talk about their plans for the next day. He'd trade all the power at his fingertips for just one night with his wife again.

He picked up the satchel he'd brought with him, a well-crafted bag filled with a stone's worth of elvish coffee beans and packets of powdered chocolate for the kids. The bag was one he'd stitched with his own hands, not unlike the one he gave them every year, but the coffee was probably what Marten appreciated more. It was a very practical attitude. Aerik could respect that.

Last, but not least, was the string of charms he'd carved. They hung off the bag on a leather strip, but to anyone that could sense it, they radiated power. Aerik doubted anyone in the household could tap into it, but if they found a way, Aerik would know. The charms were a way to summon him. If they ever really needed him, he'd cross worlds to help them.

Aerik dropped the bag against the door frame, watching the snow crunch beneath it as the bag settled heavily into the slush. He sighed and glanced into the sky. The clouds were breaking now, the tremendous face of the great moon peeking through and the edge of the smallest climbing along as well. The snow was barely falling and even at this hour, folks would probably head about their business again soon enough.

He slung his jacket back over his shoulders and looked towards Marten's house once more.

"See you next year," he sighed. Turning, he stepped sideways through the world, leaving only a burst of cold in his wake. As the flakes drifted to rest on the snowladen ground, the only one to see his departure was the silent sentinel he'd built.

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:16 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:23 am 
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Sorry for the delayed response, work has been sapping my will to live.
First and foremost, thanks for reading!
Spoiler

Yeah, this one kinda... got away from me. It was supposed to be a generally silly premise, but it took a hard left turn. Basically, I was asking myself what would push Aerik to go do this yearly if not a holiday. And the answer morosely blindsided me. Came together a bit too perfectly after that.

Also agreed, the snowman should be silver border by all rights!

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Spoiler

I actually did a bit of research on the namesake to see if I could keep some thematic elements between the two. It's funny that you bring it up in that light since The Iceman Cometh has such a strong throughline that it's not the results that matter, but the delusion that keeps people sane.

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:02 pm 
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MISTER PLANESWALKER
I GAVE YOU ALL THE PRESENTS

(Sorry, I couldn't help myself. :) )

Anyway, I love this little piece! Thanks for sharing!

I love the tone in this story, the atmosphere. The acknowledgement that there are things that keep calling you back, whether you want them to or not, and that sometimes you just have to go where they take you. That longing for moments which, in the past, may have seemed commonplace, or trivial, but which, though the hindsight of loss, feel like treasures -- precious, and irreplaceable. And I love seeing how Aerik copes with that inextinguishable loss, because I think it tells us something important about him, something deep. Because you can let that worm eat you away from the inside, or you can turn it to a better end, you can use it as a reminder to look to the living. And, even if he never knocks on that door, he's looking to the living, here, and that's a legacy which I think Kona would be thankful for.

Barinellos wrote:
Yeah, this one kinda... got away from me. It was supposed to be a generally silly premise, but it took a hard left turn. Basically, I was asking myself what would push Aerik to go do this yearly if not a holiday. And the answer morosely blindsided me. Came together a bit too perfectly after that.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time, and it never ceases to astound me. Sometimes, stories have their own directions in mind, and all you can do it hold on, and go along for the ride.


I also really like the nod to Goblin Snowman, which is a card that, half the time, I forget doesn't have a silver border (along with Sunglasses of Urza).

This reference also speaks to me, in a worryingly profound way. :)

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"And remember, I'm pullin' for ya, 'cause we're all in this together." - Red Green


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:58 pm 
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Thanks for reading!
Honestly, one of the things about Aerik is that I feel like he has this rich backstory that's as of yet untapped. These glimpses into him add to the sense that much of his past and those he knows are equally interesting as anything right now.

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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