(Logfile from Winter’s Oasis - 8/22/2012)
Acre - Coliseum Plaza
Somewhere in the middle of a personal, internal conflict and soul-searching, a certain frog pasu ends up accidentally encountering someone who just might have some of the answers he’s looking for.
Brunoise sits on the ground, back against the wall of some building. His arms are crossed in front of his chest, and the brim of his hat is pulled over his face. The morning sun does not seem to be a welcome addition to his disheveled form. The smell of ale on him is a bit telling of his recent activities, and his breathing is deep, with a faint croak accompanying each exhale. He could be asleep, but it’s more likely he’s just on the edge of it.
Like many cities of its size and population, Acre is never entirely quiet. The mornings, however, come somewhat close, with the general populous either sleeping off the night before or preparing themselves for the rest of the coming day. Even the cart-vendors are only now setting out their wares, and the volume of their pitches isn’t yet deafening due to a lack of need to shout over a crowd. Given the (relative) stillness of the air, it’s not difficult to hear the rather sharp, musical chime of several metal rings jangling against each other with every step a certain robed figure takes. The steady rhythm of his walk shows little intention for haste in the one making the sound, nor any of the hesitation one might expect from someone stopping to gawk at this or that. However, the sound does come closer towards the sleeping frog-pasu, the jangling thump of the staff growing louder and more sure with every approaching step…then stopping, as the robed figure draws up perhaps a body’s length away from the ‘sleeper’. He says nothing at first, simply looking down at the pasu from behind that strange, silver, unreadable mask.
Brunoise tilts his head up slightly, not enough to reveal his entire face, but enough to look up at his observer. He stares for a long moment, appraising you. After what is easily two full minutes, he rasps out a strained croak and a “Yes?” His eyes are not challenging or threatening, but they certainly have the look of someone who is quite confident.
Siegfried continues looking down at the pasu for a moment or two more, his expression unreadable behind that mask. Finally, he says, in a surprisingly smooth and gentle voice, “Forgive me, my friend. You reminded me of someone I once knew.” He tilts his head a little, possibly smiling behind that mask. “Might I be of some aid?”
Brunoise lets out a deep “Har!” which is followed by something like a snort, but it’s difficult to tell. “Not so sure there be any help to be had fer the likes of me.” He returns his chin to resting on his chest for a moment before hopping to his feet. A series of stretches take place as he straightens up his form to it’s full height, which is still quite short. His peers up at your mask and his mouth purses a little. “What’s with the mask, mate?”
Siegfried chuckles softly - at the brashness, or at the question, it’s hard to tell. The latter is probably more likely, given that it’s certainly not the first time he’s been asked that. He sidesteps the question, however, instead replying rather sagely, “No soul is beyond help, if he only has the will to ask for it.” Probably a quote, but it sounds less like some trite pick-me-up and more like something the stranger honestly holds true. “Tell me, friend,” he again asks gently, “what can I do to aid you?”
Brunoise pauses, his booze addled brain still foggy from the night before. His eyelids make an audible ‘thwip’ as he blinks a few times. “Well then, I’m nor rightly sure. What can ye do to aid me? I’d say ya got the look about ya of a man what knows a bit ‘o’ wisdom. Know ye the secret to turnin’ back time perhaps? That’d be most helpful.” Another croak of a chuckle escapes his throat, but beneath his playful demeanor, there is something sad about his eyes.
Siegfried, strangely, doesn’t chuckle at that question. In fact, he grows a bit quiet for a moment, before replying softly, “Would that I did, my friend. Would that I did.” His attention returns more fully to the pasu, his voice open and inviting as he says, “But wisdom, I have plenty to share. Come, friend,” he adds, guesturing towards a food-vendor’s cart. “Please, join me for a meal, and let us talk of time for a while.”
Brunoise considers your offer, a smile quickly spreading across his face. “Aye then, I could do with a meal.” He begins to walk to the food cart, glancing at you sideways as he does, not getting too far ahead of you. “What sort ‘o’ wisdom you have to share then? I ne’er had much use fer high flyin’ philosphies or such….”
Siegfried chuckles a little at that. “Nor I, to be honest. The deep mysteries of the world seem to be doing just fine on their own, without one such as myself pestering away at them.” He pauses long enough to order a few things from the cart - small, bite-sized pieces of fruit, a sausage or two, a small pastry and a cup of something warm and steamy; he pauses in his order, looking down at his smaller companion, and asks simply, “And for you?” Seems he’s either feeling generous, or honestly wasn’t even expecting the pasu to pay for himself.
Brunoise looks over the contents of the cart, and orders a pair of pastries and a cup of that warm, steamy beverage. The aroma rising from the liquid does much to remove some of the glassy quality of his eyes. “What do ya know ‘bout the takin’ of a life?” This question is accompanied with a smirk, albeit slight. Perhaps he expects you to know quite little on that subject. He does not offer to pay for himself, of course.
Siegfried hesitates for a moment, pausing whilst pulling out the coinage for the food. He completes the transaction in silence, before tucking his staff into the crook of his arm, collecting his plate and cup, and moving to an unoccupied table, guesturing for the pasu to follow. He takes another moment to arrange his setting, placing the cup, food and staff appropriately before softly replying, “…A lifetime more than my soul would care to.” He looks up again at the pasu, saying nothing; for all his face is hidden by the mask, however, his sympathy - not pity, but a mutual understanding - towards his newfound friend is clear nonetheless.
Brunoise follows along beside Siegfried and after placing his food on the table, hops up into a chair that offers him a view of the street. He begins munching noisily on a pastry, alternately sipping his drink. His color starts to return to a more natural shade of green, and some of the rough edge softens off of his voice. “Have some blood on yer own hands then, I take it? It be a common enough thing I suppose, what with the state ‘o’ the world and all.” A foul smelling belch spews out of him *CROOOOOAAAAK*, he chuckles a bit. “Well, excus’n me there!” He gives you another appraising look, although this time it’s far friendlier. “Name’s Brunoise Bonne’Chance. Suppose it won’t be doin’ to dine with a stranger, eh? And thank fer the food, friend.”
Siegfried’s smile might not be visible, but his voice sounds lighter and more friendly all the same. “Siegfried, no patronymic,” he replies, “And it is my pleasure, Brunoise.” He then tears off a piece of his own pastry, using one gloved hand to hold out the cloth panel under his mask as he slips the food underneath (and, presumably, to his mouth). The ease with which he continues eating this way suggests he’s been doing so for a very long time. He lets himself and the pasu enjoy the food in quiet contemplation for a moment, then asks simply, “So then, Brunoise - might I ask what brought you to this city?”
Brunoise answers “Business.” A slight edge returning to his voice. Clearly he doesn’t care to share much more on that subject. “But once my business was done, though I’d just hang around a bit. Sometimes things turn up. Maybe I just wasn’t in all that big a rush to be gettin’ home. Good to get a change ‘o’ scenery every now again, don’t ya think?” Having finished with the food, he leans back in his chair, holding the cup in one hand and taking a sip. “Sometimes home just don’t feel like the right place to be.” He gives an absent nod and stares down the street, his eyes unfocused.
Siegfried finishes his own food, then reaches into his robe, pulling out a thin, hollow reed and placing it in his cup. Oh, the wonders of straws - truly a remarkable invention for mask-wearing people. He politely refrains from any mention of ‘business’, instead cutting right to the heart of the matter. “Home is a sanctuary, a place to be safe from the world and its horrors.” His tone, and his own thousand-yard-stare into the distance, fills in the rest of his words as loudly as if he had spoken them - that even the sanctuary of home cannot protect against the horrors you bring in yourself. That once you give place to them inside yourself, your ‘home’ never feels quite so safe anymore.
Brunoise asks “You the religious sort? you look like one what believes in all that.” His tone is half mocking, but only half. The undercurrent of his words is plain, he knows all too well the feeling of inner turmoil, and has no idea what to do with it.
Siegfried turns his attention back to the pasu. He considers his answer for a moment, before replying, “Faithful, perhaps. Religious, not so much. I do, however, believe some things to be true.” He pauses for a second or two, before adding, “Hope, for instance. Peace. The possibility of redemption. That all beings, human and pasu, can change.”
Brunoise adopts a thoughtful look as your words hang in the air. “Change, eh? I wonder into what? Can’t say I ever wanted to be anyone other than myself.” His expression returns to playful. “You sayin’ there be more to life than the lot I been livin’ in? Food, drink, women, a fine set ‘o’ clothes, be about the only things I ever be after. Pretty simple I be supposin’, but I don’t think I be cut out fer high society.”
Siegfried shakes his head, probably smiling under that mask. His voice is light, but still somewhat serious, as he says, “There is no shame in simple pleasures, my friend. Nothing to be regretted in enjoying good food, or drink, or comfortable clothing.” The lack of a mention of women is probably just an oversight, not a critique on his part. He does, however, raise his cup in mild toast. “To the simple pleasures, then - may they carry us through on our way to happiness.”
Brunoise seems a bit off put by the prospect of toasting with something non-alcoholic, but raises his cup all the same and takes a sip. “Right then. So since it be the simple things what make life worth livin’, what’s it matter what ya do in order have ‘em?” He looks straight at you while speaking, his eyes, while still a bit playful, certainly have a serious glint to them. He let’s the question hang in there, the stillness of his posture lending weight to it.
Siegfried recognizes quite well the seriousness of the question, no matter the playful tone. His mask never wavers, nor turns away, nor likely do the eyes behind it. His voice is solemn, yet simple - there is no judgement, nor denouncement in his tone, merely a statement of fact. A fact with the weight of the world upon it. “Everything comes with a price. Every choice we make comes at cost. And some costs, are far greater than the value of our choice.” He pauses a moment more, then says in the same, solemn tone, “There is little in this world, or in any other, worth the price of a man’s life. And that is the price a man pays when his hands are washed in blood - his life is the coin he spends.”
Brunoise gives a sage like nod, the words clearly resonating in his soul. “Well then, supposin’ a feller spent some ‘o’ this coin.” A pause. “Or perhaps he spent a lot of it. How would he go about gettin’ it back? Ain’t like there be a chest of it somewheres fer the takin, nor ain’t like a feller could barter another feller fer it.” The masks he’s been alternately wearing of playfulness and reticence are completely gone from his face. Only the honest question remains.
Siegfried chuckles softly - and yet, it’s clear there is no humor in it, any more than there was in the pasu’s playful bantering. More of an acceptance, an admission, of understanding between the two. “And that, my friend…is the right question to ask.” He sighs softly, almost silently behind the mask. His eyes, unseen, close gently, his vision turning inward upon himself. This is a question, truly, he knows quite well. “There are no sure, clear-cut answers. No list of instructions to follow, no cartographer’s map of the surest way - for everyone has a different path to walk, one meant only for themselves and no others.” The mask lifts a little, the bearer’s eyes open again and focusing on the pasu. “But more often than not, these paths we walk alone parallel each other, and cross ways when most we need them to. Remember this, Brunoise, my friend. And remember also, that no being, no pasu, no man, is ever truly beyond being forgiven.” He pauses again, then says simply, “Your choices in life have led you to where you are. Accept that as true, but remember - you are whom you have chosen to be. Choose again, and change.” Having said his peace, the wandering disciple quietly sweeps the refuse of the meal into a conveniently close bin, gathers up his staff, rises, and bows his head. “May your road bring you sorrow, only so you may appreciate the joy. Perhaps we shall meet again, someday.”
Brunoise listens to your words with great interest, the impact of them plain upon his face, but just for a moment before the playful grin goes back up. “Well, it sure ‘nough be somethin’ what’s worth thinkin’ on. Odd I’d be runnin’ into the likes ‘o’ ya after the night I had, but I guess that be what you mean by them there paths crossin’ ways. Thanks fer the meal, mayhap I be seein’ you round these parts again should I ever be passin’ through.” He hops down from his chair and tips his hat to you. “Take care ‘o’ yerself then!” And with that he turns and walks southward down the street.