03 - First Light.   Posted by The Lens.Group: 0
The Lens
 GM, 76 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sun 6 Feb 2022
at 01:54
03 - First Light




  ~Sunrise Saturday September 25th, 1909: light cloud, Beaufort 6 (windspeed ~24 knots); visibility moderate



Matt woke, for an instant not entirely sure where he was. The grey-blue of predawn lit the room from above and the risen wind filled it with rapid textured hush. Nothing stirred.

*tonk* *t-tonk*

The map of the place filtered into his brain, locating the sound. Downstairs. Kitchen window.

*t-tonk*tonk* *tonk*tonk*

He had duties to attend to very soon, including working out what to take up to the Captain as 'a start on breakfast'. The covers were warm but the knocking was incessant.

*tonk*





Hetty came awake.

"Hey," the Captain was saying, gently shaking her foot. It seemed she'd turned on her front at some point and pins and needles prickled through her gradually-numbing left arm where it lay beneath her. her uncle looked at her with slight concern, lit by the half-light of approaching dawn as much as the Light above. It seemed the lamp was out by now, the sea making its steady sound but few seabirds keening awake.

[Language unknown:  "Antec manpr lallrihick utwa o ntkor re witta ntiai icsslo mina lessa Mr. Meai korul fi t, a ilos anyesseen t re ic les si oerthuent witthapro ave. Siday naoune?"] he asked.


Edit: on second thought, hiding your dreams. Also a couple of clarity fixes.

This message was last edited by the GM at 09:48, Sun 06 Feb.

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 46 posts
Mon 7 Feb 2022
at 02:21
03 - First Light
Hetty winced as she started to shake her arm to hasten the flow of blood back to her arm. She didn't regret her uncomfortable night's sleep for a second. She just nodded at the question and her eyes widened. She sprang to her feet and hurried downstairs so she could quickly scrub the necessary bits-- she'd just bathed the other day after all. The blanket slid off and she shivered at the cool air.

"I'll see you in a bit then," she said and scampered down the stairs. She abruptly stopped in front of the curtain to her room. With a deep breath and a determined expression on her face, she entered. Normally there was something almost soothing about the sound of the bells, like a welcome just for her. That morning it almost sounded more like a warning.

Without taking too much time to think about... it, she stripped, used a bit of water from the small cracked jug to dampen a rag and ran it over the most essential areas, grabbed some fresh underthings, and pulled the nearest dress she could grab over head. Next was the longest part of her morning, trying to tame her hair...

This message was last edited by the player at 17:09, Sun 20 Feb.

Matthew Hall
 player, 52 posts
Tue 8 Feb 2022
at 00:45
03 - First Light
Hall remained beneath the blankets briefly, unwilling to leave the safety he felt within their warmth. For a moment, as the haze of sleep left him, he was on the beach again, losing the struggle to keep himself out of the water, his breath departing as he slipped beneath the tide. Shaking free of the half dream, he gulped air, momentarily desperate to know that he could do so.

His heart calming, he rose, forcing himself to only think of the present as he dressed hurriedly. He made certain to comb his hair and shave, mindful that the Captain would be taking stock of him this day, quietly assessing how he performed his work after his first watch in the lighthouse. Whatever lingered on the shore after dark, this remained his only hope for a fair living, a respectable job. He had to put his haunted thoughts behind him and focus on his duties.

Breakfast. The act of cooking seemed a sudden haven, something tangible and familiar to occupy his mind and hands. He moved to the stairs, taking them briskly as he considered what might be a pleasing meal for Miss Dowling and her uncle.
Pest
 NPC, 11 posts
 Tame Seagull
Tue 8 Feb 2022
at 01:31
03 - First Light
The tapping noise continued throughout Matt's abloutions, getting if anything more irritated and persistent. When he came down to lift his slightly salt-stiff jacket and trousers from the stove, the sound only got louder.

*TONKTONKTONK*

Pest did pause on seeing him, and that he was not Hetty - much to her chagrin - then seemed to shrug it off and continued to steadily apply for entry.

*TONK*TONK*TONK*

      *TONK*TONK*

It might be best to set the kettle on and boil a few eggs for that 'start', then stoke up the stove and consider beyond that once the dawn cleaning was done. At any rate, Pest clearly wanted in on whatever he was doing, particularly if it involved getting smoked fish out of the pantry cupboard to wrap a boiled egg in.

*TONK*


_
Matthew Hall
 player, 53 posts
Tue 15 Feb 2022
at 17:13
03 - First Light
Matt set to work on morning tea and a handful of boiled eggs, accompanied in his efforts by Pest’s staccato requests for admittance. Once everything was warming, he sighed. As he retrieved a broom to sweep the kitchen, he opened the window, allowing the cold salt air entrance, along with the determined seagull.
Pest
 NPC, 12 posts
 Tame Seagull
Thu 17 Feb 2022
at 01:47
03 - First Light
Steam curled gently up the chimney alongside the stovepipe. Pest waited only until Matt's hands were out of easy grabbing range, then flew hastily into the room and fluttered under the table. There was a soft, uncertain *pit-pat* then a pause and sudden *pitpatpitpatpitpat* of webbed feet for a moment as Pest looked about and rapidly went out into the hallway, then a mildy ominous silence.

Matt drew a bowl of fresh cold rusty water to scare the eggs, and set it down in easy reach. Having determined Hetty was not hiding anywhere nearby, Pest returned from the depths of the house at a glide, installed herself on the kitchen table and screamed solidly for two minutes for no other reason than being a seagull whose beak wasn't otherwise occupied. Outside, the other birds were waking, making their racket out on the cliffs, a quiet background every time Pest paused to take a breath.


*SKEEÉÉÉÉÉÉÉAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! SKI-SKI-SKI! SKIIIIÉÉÉÉÉÉÉAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! SKEEÉÉÉÉÉÉÉAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!*

The sun sufficiently instructed to rise and the only human in sight encouraged - Pest seemed to hope - to do something that might make food appear, Pest took to following Matt around on the nearest surface to wherever he was sweeping, still flaring warily away at any sign of being reached for, but occasionally daring a wheedling whistle now and then, hoping he'd feed her. Any indication that he might do so produced louder and more excited noises from a bird whose volume seemed to top off at twice the size her little body should be capable of.




At length Matt packed a handy basket with cosied teapot, teatowel, mugs and warm eggs, warmed a bucket of wash with the remnants from the kettle and let himself out into the brightening grey. Pest went and stood on the lighthouse threshold, screeching and bustling nigh underfoot to help him know he should open the door. When he set down the bucket and opened the latch, the wind seeking at his cuffs and collar, she dived in at once, flapping her way to swing up the stair in a graceful arc. Earthbound as ever, Matt toiled his way up into brightness, ignoring any quiet sounds of bare feet or shifting petticoats from Hetty's room where surely the young woman washed and dressed. Shortly it sounded like Pest had joined her, too.

The Captain proved to be folding the blanket when Matt reached the watch room. He nodded approvingly at both bucket and food, indicating Matt might set the latter on the desk. "Good Morning to ye, Mister Hall, good to see you're up promptly."

He checked his watch and gave a glance to the marker on the weight line that was close to full descent. "Mm. Let's have a share of what you've brought whilst the sun rises. Did you sleep well?"


edit: mechanical terminology

This message was last edited by the player at 02:01, Thu 17 Feb.

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 47 posts
Sun 20 Feb 2022
at 17:10
03 - First Light
She was still tugging at her brush through her hair when Pest flew in. "Morning Pest," she said. "I hope you didn't bother Mr. Hall this morning!" Hetty set the brush down and paused, hand outstretched as she she reached for something to pull her hair back with.

Her nose twitched as the faint smells of the food Matt had brought reached her. Suddenly the hair tie and the ordeal of the night before was forgotten, drowned by the rumble of her stomach. "Come on then," she sighed. A few moments later she joined her uncle and Matt. "Good morning, anything I can help with?" she asked.
Pest
 NPC, 13 posts
 Tame Seagull
Wed 23 Feb 2022
at 23:06
03 - First Light
Pest stood on the washstand and gave Hetty's empty hand a dubious look, then pecked at the thick ribbon Hetty had set out for a hair tie, in case that helped (or was secretly an undiscovered worm). Behind them the bed sat and the covers did not move.

When Hetty went out, Pest gleefully took up a post on her shoulder and then the desk beside the basket, whistling softly and plucking at the teatowel to suggest yes, a start on breakfast would be good. *kiiiii kiiiiiii kiiiiii*
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 13 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Wed 23 Feb 2022
at 23:06
03 - First Light
"Hm, well after first tea you can set up the day's bread whilst Mr. Hall and I clean the panes," the Captain said, seeing that Matt did not look quite floury enough to have discovered where the cottage's starter was and set a loaf rising himself.

A pale coppery gold was flooding in from the top left-hand side of the room, window and stairwell both, mingling with the Light's bright white to leave everything seeming stark and delicate. A warm mug in hand would be a powerful comfort.
Matthew Hall
 player, 54 posts
Sun 27 Feb 2022
at 18:59
03 - First Light
”I boiled some eggs, if you are hungry, Miss Dowling,” Hall offered, ”And I made some tea. Hopefully, it isn’t too strong for your liking.”

He frowned at the Captain’s question. ”I’m afraid I slept fitfully, sir. But that’s probably just owing to the island being an unfamiliar place. I’m certain that I’ll settle in soon enough.”

He took a sip of tea and made ready to join Captain Dowling in cleaning the glass.
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 14 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sun 6 Mar 2022
at 22:41
03 - First Light
The Captain glanced over a moment, but focused on peeling his boiled egg, sat on the stairs. "Ah, Hetty had a poor night of it, too: likely there's some pressure front headed in, what with the sudden wind. Still, I hope you fare better tonight."

They ate quietly and filled up on the warmth of strong tea as the watch room filled with dawn. With the sun risen the Captain bid Hall pick up his bucket and await orders, then climbed the stair and took the dark goggles to put out the remnants of last night's flame.

Given the all clear, Matt and his bucket of wash rose up into a world of blue and gold and deep green sea, the muffled sound of surf and seabirds rising from below. The Captain gestured where he ought to set the bucket and handed him a soft cloth when he'd come right up to the lens. "This is for 'er...mind not to look right in, just along the planes to make sure they're clean and with no kind of muck astuck. Have to mind your eyes, even just with the sun."

The last did not sound quite convincing somehow, but the Captain took his own cloth and set to cleaning one side of the Fresnell lens just as he'd said, so there was hardly anything to object to. The light on the prisms' planes was fascinating to behold.

[[please take a draw, Matt.
edit: colouring speech]]

This message was last edited by the player at 06:55, Mon 07 Mar.

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 48 posts
Mon 7 Mar 2022
at 02:49
03 - First Light
Hetty's eyes brightened and she nodded. There was something so soothing about preparing the bread. When Matt mentioned eggs, she looked at Pest who was perched on her shoulder then gave Matt a conspiratorial look and raised a hand to cover her mouth. "I do like eggs," she whispered loudly.

With that, she moved past him with the gait she had developed to help Pest best balance on her shoulder to get some tea for herself and some breakfast. Steps and words eventually faded as the men went to tend to the lenses. Maybe one of these days she'd be able to be more involved...

She grabbed one of the eggs to begin peeling it. The day seemed so mundane after the night. Hetty paused, mouth open as she was poised to take a bit. Then she shook it and bit with more firmness than necessary into the egg. None of that, not with the memories still there. Maybe later she'd go to her room and search but for now, it was time to refresh herself. She finished the egg and poured herself a cup of tea to let it cool while she went to start the bread for the day.
Matthew Hall
 player, 56 posts
Mon 7 Mar 2022
at 17:28
03 - First Light
Miss Dowling’s joke brought a smile to Hall’s face. He readily obeyed when the Captain gave his instructions, taking the cloth and setting to cleaning, glad for the simple mundanity of the task. Though he was careful to be thorough, he couldn’t avoid the occasional glance down at the rocks and beach below, wondering at how different they looked in the light of the sunrise.
The Lens
 GM, 79 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Wed 9 Mar 2022
at 00:41
03 - First Light
Matt started from the top of his side of the lens carefully, looking outside often. He could just see the rocks that had seemed to hold the flotsam of a phantom shipwreck in the night: with the tide out they rose from rosy sand and straggled bands of shingle, delicately draped in sea foliage among pools. The beach remained attractive and the sea kept its secrets, the foam brighter over the shoals. There could be anything down there, as in the depths of sleep. There might be dreams.

Matt cleaned, and looked outward, and cleaned, and looked. On his second side of the lens, three prisms down, he looked back from the roil and break of waves below to see their reflection moving in the glass, and that of the sky.


"Hall!" Matt's attention was brought to the Captain's arm catching his roughly, and he almost staggered with the idea of impact in being snapped back to himself.

"Hey now, what did I say?" the Captain continued. "I know that look, that's a body who's looked into the lens, dazed himself. Keep that up you'll start fancyin' you see things in there, like Kirkness."

The older man relaxed his grip somewhat, realising he might have scared his companion. He let go, looked away, then back at Matt, his expression hard to parse. There was no real anger, but maybe fear, perhaps: fear for him. The Captain shook his duster warningly at Matt. "New rule: to be sure you survive the job, mentally an' if things should get confusing in a storm at night, don't see things."

His tone relented. "You go on and finish that side, no good getting leery of 'er, and then you go out on the walk with the bucket and sponge and make a start on the storm panes whilst I fetch out the papers. Mind not to go lean out agin the rail for no reason, though," he finished, and his look was serious, maybe sorrowful. "I hope y'can understand I'm trying to keep ye safe."

Outside, the wind and waves moved as they always had, and bright birds drifted. The ironwork around the lamp array was solid and normal, and no-one could fall through the lighthouse's solid stone, nor plummet tumbling into its inverson to stand on two feet at the top/depths as he stood now, in his new boots. A small shifting let him feel the motion of his bones and something of the salt stiffness in wool and leather. Still, he was whole and the waves rolled below, and there was a lens to finish and panes to wash.
The Lens
 GM, 80 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sat 12 Mar 2022
at 08:59
03 - First Light

Hetty wound her way down in the pale early morning light, the steam of her mug warming her hands and her friend on her shoulder. She did not look into her room, certainly not in or under her bed, stepping lightly down and down until she could pull the door open and step out into the swift pull of the wind. Pest made some muffled noise in half-complaint at being engulfed in a rush of still-unbound hair and pushed off to slide down the air like an arrow, land in the shelter of the back threshold and yell until Hetty came up to open the door.

Inside, it seemed Matt had got out the ingredients for pancakes, but half the tabletop was clear and Hetty only needed to set down her mug and fetch the slate from by the sink and the yeast from its cool spot (albeit followed by a loud seagull who though food might happen) to get going. Knowing enough to understand that messing with the bread was Trouble, Pest simply installed herself on the table to watch as Hetty made a well of flour and poured yeast and warm water into it, stirring the stuff with a pinch of sugar and salt until there was enough solidity to fold the flour over and start kneading.

There was a quiet joy in forming damp dust into something solid, drinking tea whilst the new-formed dough rested a moment and then pushing and folding the thing. Hetty swayed, steadily stretching the dough under her weight and gathering it, turning it to stretch again. All excess moods could be given to the bread, to later rise and dissipate as steam. The hard force of anger, the nervous jerking of fear, the troubled lean of sorrow that could not speak: all these made a better bread as much as happy exuberance. She swiped a dash of butter in the better to help the loaf keep and enjoyed the magical moment when he gluten finally 'took' and rendered the dough smooth. Hetty crushed it fairly flat and folded all edges to the middle to make a round. Pest requested some, since it looked like food, and just as always, Hetty rolled scraps stuck to the slate into a worm for her, which Pest sized and ate as always, and as always paused halfway and looked utterly disgusted by, but swallowed anyway. Perhaps she felt she had some duty to the bread ritual.

Hetty flicked water on the loaf, set a large bowl over it and installed the slate at the back above the stove to let it prove, leaving only her hands to clear up. She would have a few moments alone with her thoughts and her seagull before the men came down, the kitchen a quiet sanctuary in the wan early light.
Matthew Hall
 player, 58 posts
Tue 22 Mar 2022
at 13:36
03 - First Light
”Yes, sir. Thank you,” Hall told the captain, embarrassed for having done the very thing he had been warned against, ”I’ll see to it, sir.”

Hall took several gulps of the cold morning air as he stepped out onto the walk. He was sincerely grateful for the captain being mindful of his welfare. That concern tempted him to share some of what he had experienced last night with the older man, in hopes that Captain Dowling might know how to guard against such dangers. Hall pushed the thought away as quickly as it arrived. The captain’s worry was mingled with fear. His words about Kirkness losing his mind meant that any talk of horrors lurking within the tide would only lead him to believe that Hall was already headed down the same path of madness.

He looked down, taking in the sight of the shore in the morning light, momentarily enjoying the rocks and the waves in the morning light. Discipline, he silently reminded himself. Careful not to look at the lens, he began washing each of the panes.

Don’t see things. The captain’s words hung in his mind as he worked.
The Lens
 GM, 82 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sun 27 Mar 2022
at 23:48
03 - First Light
The high salt wind whetted its edges against Matt's face when he came outside, as though to shave him to a yet further smoothness. The sea boomed and broke on the shoals in beaded rainments of aqua silk and long layers of white lace, exquisite and huge and distant below the wheeling gulls. There was a keen, fresh joy to this height and dawning world, even as the wet sponge fairly froze his fingers in the wind. The sting of the soap where it touched flesh scraped by barnacles the night before was a thin thread of distraction, but mostly he blanked his mind of what might sway beneath the waves, even if it was belly-up as it had lain on the beach. Captain Dowling came out with a satchel of old newspaper and nodded to his companion.

The older man scrunched one sheet at a time and vigourously went over what the wind had half-dried, leaving the glass heartbreakingly clear from his efforts. Matt watched him only a little, aware of his own part. The younger man was unsure if he was being watched more in return, though perhaps after being attacked by the last man to become fascinated by...whatever was in or with or beyond the lens an extra glance at intervals would be understandable. Hall worked, and the gulls screamed, and the sea gave its constant heavy breath along with the whipping wind.

At length they were back where they had started and the Captain patted Matt on the shoulder with the fondness due a good dog as they stepped back into the sudden windlessness of the lens room. All was a bright paleness now, the sky a soft silver like the shadows beneath a wing and the lighthouse the highest thing to be seen.

"That's as well, lad. Now come down and we'll see what like for pancakes."

-

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 50 posts
Mon 28 Mar 2022
at 02:42
03 - First Light
Matt had a nice smile, she noted. And hers became a little less mischievous and a little warmer before she remembered her uncle was right there. Hetty felt much, much better after she'd finished setting the bread. All the tension had flowed from her muscles straight into the bread.

"Silly thing, you should be grateful that I still give you anything!" But her heart was not in the chiding. She had accepted responsibility for the bird the moment she decided to save her. And she didn't regret it, not really.

As she cleaned her hands, she glanced back towards the lighthouse where her uncle and Matthew had disappeared into the sky. How were they getting on? Her uncle was an easy man to like. Just like her father had been before.  Hetty busied herself tidying and wiping up anything she could think of as she waited for them to return, trying to distract herself from the events of the night.

[[GM edit: clarity]]

This message was last edited by the GM at 08:30, Mon 28 Mar.

Matthew Hall
 player, 59 posts
Thu 31 Mar 2022
at 13:08
03 - First Light
Hall nodded to the captain, pleased with the crystal clarity of the glass, but mindful that the elements would require that the whole chore be repeated tomorrow. He gave one last look at the sky, taking a gulp of the sharp, cold air before following Captain Dowling inside.

He made a point of not looking at the lens as he moved to the stairs, now respectful of its hypnotic power. He wondered what it was that Kirkness believed he had seen within the blinding light, the question suddenly casting doubt on the note of warning that the man had left behind. Were the “night floors” nothing but the corridors of Kirkness’ tortured imagination, a dark emptiness that he wandered while in the throes of madness? Tempting as it was to agree with the idea, Hall found he couldn’t do so. After all, Kirkness had been right about what lingered near the shore.

One hand on the tower’s wall as he descended the steps, Hall cleared his throat and spoke to the captain. ”Sir, if you wouldn’t mind my asking, what manner of ships did you captain before coming here to Merigg?”
Pest
 NPC, 14 posts
 Tame Seagull
Sun 3 Apr 2022
at 22:38
03 - First Light
Pest stood a moment after Hetty's mock-scolding, then dipped her head and gave a very gentle, pleading whistle, as though to ask the Great Being, Provider of Food to forgive whatever humble tresspasses had passed her sight and place a food in the beak of this poor penitent. Surely the mighty haver of opposable thumbs might find mercy in her heart, mercy for a poor little bird who had almost definitely not pestered the new wickie into giving her scraps already.

*..kee...kee...keee...*





Out in the lighthouse, the Captain cleared his own throat with a sturdy cough. "Captain? Stockfish and timber, mostly: timber and stockfish. Some fresh fish down to the Yankees, but mostly salt cod and smoked salmons. Food for explorers and folk headed right the world around. Beats whalin' by a long stretch, I can tell ye."

They headed out into the wind again, the world brushed with brightness without the sun quite showing clear, wrapped in a coy mantle of cloud. The Captain paused briefly, holding onto his hat against gusts. "Hmm."




He went on and into the cottage, picking up some extra firewood as he passed, and frowned at Pest. "Get her off the table, Hetty, at least," he said, and sat himself in a chair to stoke up the stove somewhat before heaving up in a retreat around the table.

"I'll take a couple if they're going,"
he said, inspecting the pancake ingredients, then looked up. "Had a mind t'have ye fixing creels today, Mister Hall, to have you eased into the upkeep of things - is that work you've done before?"
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 51 posts
Sun 10 Apr 2022
at 16:25
Re: 03 - First Light
Hetty couldn't keep the mock stern expression on her face or tone in her voice for long, not when Pest looked at her like that and made that sweet sound. She gave a long suffering sigh and her lips twitched in an effort to contain a smile. "Silly thing," she murmured.

She was gazing down at the bird tenderly when the two men entered. Her head whipped to face them, eyes wide as if she'd been caught in the act. "Aye!" she exclaimed. Hetty reached for the bird to move her somewhere else, trying to entice her into her arms with another scrap.

"Was thinking after I tend to the garden, I'll go get some eggs and see what else I can't find," she said. "Less you think there is something else more helpful."
Matthew Hall
 player, 60 posts
Mon 18 Apr 2022
at 15:58
Re: 03 - First Light
”Yes, sir. I did some crabbing fairly regular when I lived in Maine. Easy way to keep oneself fed. It’s been a bit since I’ve patched one, but I’m sure it will come back to me,” Hall answered the Captain.

He mostly stifled the smile that came to his face when he saw Pest with Miss Dowling. The bird was likely good company. Hall sorely missed the dogs that had been his companions when he was young. Their simple presence, and having them to care for, had gone far towards keeping the deepest shadows of his home at bay.

Hall realized that he was standing awkwardly, mostly unaccustomed to being in a kitchen that he wasn’t performing some work in. Clearing his throat, he said, ”Is there anything I can help with, Miss Dowling?”
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 15 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Tue 19 Apr 2022
at 22:48
Re: 03 - First Light
"Very good, very good. Maybe she'll let you help at the weeding or gathering in the dulse - Hetty, I know you're fond of the sea fare but we'll get through the hen's eggs before going into the stores out by." Captain Dowling nodded to himself.

"You should show Mister Hall our stacks, though: perhaps give him a tour of the island, that won't take long. Knock back the bread afore ye go and it'll be ready to bake by the time you're back."


*skirrrrrr...*
Pest added from an awkward perch on Hetty's elbow, in case anyone had forgotten she was there, but forebore to yell.

"First, however," said the man who'd watched the seas until dawn lit them, "Pancakes."




So it was that Matt made pancakes and Hetty (mostly) restrained her seagull and Captain Dowling managed to keep himself awake throughout the cheerful chaos. For a perhaps half an hour it was as though the group about the kitchen table had been long companions, and this their home, all concentrating or exchanging easy words in the warm centre of the room. The Captain caught an accidentally-knocked can of syrup as it rolled with increasing speed towards the table's edge, checked the young people knew what they were doing with the day and rose to take his leave until the day was waning, still clearly owing sleep.

Hetty and Matt were left alone in the kitchen with her washing the plates and him drying, still companionable but now remembering they did not quite know each other. Pest tried to help by pecking at the soap, occasionally doing a headshaking little dance of discomfort whenever a fraction got into her mouth.

[[If you'd like to small talk, discuss dreams, omens, forbidden desires etc. or decide where you'd like to go next IC...]]

Matthew Hall
 player, 61 posts
Sat 23 Apr 2022
at 20:05
Re: 03 - First Light
Hall had become so accustomed to silence that at times, he neglected to fill it when he was with others. However the morning, with its easy, comfortable talk had served to make him feel at home in this new place, mostly dispelling the shadows that still clung to his thoughts from the night before.

Drying another dish, he glanced at Pest perched on Miss Dowling’s shoulder and smiled. ”She’s very attached to you. I know that it seems that she’s always after food, but I think she truly values your company.”

“Are there any parts of the island you’re especially fond of, ma’am? I’ve only had the chance to see a small portion of it so far.”

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 54 posts
Mon 16 May 2022
at 03:30
Re: 03 - First Light
The morning more than made up for the restless night. It was the best morning she'd had in a long time and even the shadows of Kirkness's fate and the... thing she'd seen couldn't darken it for more than a moment. Pest's sometimes curious, sometimes indignant squawks and not-so-stealthy attempt to sneak food punctuated the morning.

She found the silence in the kitchen fairly comfortable as she scrubbed at the dishes vigorously. It brought color to her cheeks and a focus to her gaze that was rare to see. Hetty blew a strand of loose hair away from her face and looked over at Matt with a wry smile.

"I appreciate hearing that," she said. "Sometimes I wonder!"  The smile softened as she rolled her eyes towards Pest. "I think I needed her too. Don't know what I'd do without the wee thing sometimes, honestly."

Hetty quickly looked down at the dishes and resumed washing. No use tainting his perception of the island or putting ideas in his head. "Oh yes!" she exclaimed. "I think the whole island is beautiful but I'm biased since I grew up here. There is a cove I've always found particularly beautiful but you can only access it at certain tides. What was your favorite spot at the last lighthouse?"
Pest
 NPC, 15 posts
 Tame Seagull
Tue 17 May 2022
at 23:48
Re: 03 - First Light
Though possibly considering filling her little body to the top with air and yelling as her contribution to the conversation, Pest automatically reached and caught a lock of Hetty's hair that swung near her beak during vigourous griddle-scrubbing. Aware that such was not food but unsure what to do with it, Pest gave a little *hnk* noise and stood there holding onto it, being Helpful.

[[going to let Matt get a word in there before we head out, I think.]]
Matthew Hall
 player, 64 posts
Tue 24 May 2022
at 00:15
Re: 03 - First Light
”This is my first lighthouse,” he answered, suddenly self conscious of his lack of experience, ”When I lived on Deer Island, in Maine, there was this inlet, a fair distance from the docks and the yards where the ships were built. Sort of this…forgotten little corner of the island. On one side of it, there was a tall outcropping of rock. I gashed my knee up the first time I climbed it but, once I got to the top…there was this beautiful view of the ocean, stretching away all deep blue and foam, as far as you could see.”He grinned at the memory. ”Sometimes, at high tide, you’d get showered by the incoming waves.”

He nodded. ”It was a good spot. Peaceful. I visited it quite a bit.”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 55 posts
Wed 25 May 2022
at 16:27
Re: 03 - First Light
Her eyes widened, more in surprise than anything else. His first posting, really! That was interesting. Her eyes remained wide as he told the story, although they were fixed on the path to make sure it would be clear before them. For a moment she was silent and Pest gave what Hetty interpreted as an appreciative squawk to punctuate Matt's description.

"Did it leave a scar?" she asked curiously. Hetty had her own share of minor ones from similar incidents. "It sounds very peaceful and very beautiful. This spot I am taking to you is just about one of my other favorite places. You can get a great view of the seal colony!"


GM edit: formatting fix whilst I'm here

This message was last edited by the GM at 12:17, Fri 27 May.

Matthew Hall
 player, 66 posts
Fri 27 May 2022
at 17:14
Re: 03 - First Light
Hall grinned. ”Yes, actually. It left an almost perfectly vertical scar across my left knee. I had to stitch up the leg of my trousers.”

“I’ve always loved seals. Sometimes large groups of harbor seals would turn up on the east end of the island back home. They could become quite loud. Some were surprisingly friendly.”
He smiled at the memory.
The Lens
 GM, 90 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sat 28 May 2022
at 23:37
Re: 03 - First Light
Pest had turned herself about and launched into the air once they left the shelter of the looming lighthouse crag, a high floating fleck amongst other white birds dark grey against the silvery sky. Walking the slight downhill grade across the island was an easy swing of limb and muscle, made tricky only by the tough roots that crossed the heathland path as they likely had forever, yielding for neither buckled shoe nor heavy boot (perhaps soft moccasins had trod between with caution, but who might say how often those first nations had used the island, if at all).

The water that an unwary step might bring pooling about the sole of a boot came up red as the clay glimpsed here and there in patches, red as old rust or half-dried blood. Hetty waved to the island's best attempt at a tree out of habit and Matt wondered how much salt a pine could take. They walked on over stringy then salt-stunted grass, and when Matt looked up he realised there were constructions ahead: three narrow cairns or chimneys close together, like shrunken grain-kilns orphaned of their ancient houses.

They began to hear the sounds of seals in the bay belowas they approached, and to kick bleached seashells where the island's red-streaked rock showed through, remnants of both winter storms and molluscs given the long drop by seagulls on the hunt. Pest re-materialised herself from the indifferent wheeling of background birds to stand atop one of the stacks and yell, for no more reason than it seemed a good spot for yelling.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 57 posts
Wed 15 Jun 2022
at 02:18
Re: 03 - First Light
"My perception of loud changed after Pest." Hetty looked up and shaded her eyes to catch sight of the gull soaring above them as they continued. "I wouldn't get too close to the edge, mind," she cautioned. "The cliffs here can be treacherous." Hetty scuffed her foot against a patch of clay as indication.

"And the stacks are close. On the way back I can point out some of the plants here that are good. But we can take a bit to watch them," she said. Her uncle would probably grow worried and chide her for taking longer than needed. In fact, sometimes she did it on purpose. Having someone to worry over her was... nice sometimes.

Hetty smiled, whether at the thought of her uncle or the antics of the seals was hard to say. Maybe both. Her shoulders relaxed a bit and she leaned forward to get a better look at the seal. "That one there is Adam, he's a sneaky one!" she exclaimed as she began to introduce Matt to the different seals and share a bit about their personalities. "Mary over there is the most curious and adventurous of the lot..."
Seal Colony
Sun 19 Jun 2022
at 23:00
Re: 03 - First Light
The seals lay soaking up what warmth they could down below, blinking in the wind or curling themselves up to whatever comfort beng U-shaped brought them. One or two flopped around the weedy rocks to find a better spot, and younger animals rose and fell out in the water, sliding down now and then to disappear and reappear with a snort, dog-like seen side on. When they came up looking back to land they might as well have been human skulls given back from the deeps, the eyes showing no whites and the dark of the nose down against the water. The seals knew none of this, any more than they knew their Christian names.

It was good, for a while, to lie on the grass together and watch the waves surge and the seals lie likewise amongst the seaweed. Little patches of delicate leaves amongst the stunted grass spoke of flowers in summer, even as the wind struck at them with a tang of salt and the prospect of later getting worse. The seabirds still yelled to each other and pest came to stand on Hetty's back for attention, her friend being stopped, as it seemed, for the moment. Matt became acutely aware of the specific space between their bodies, from the high point of the seagull's head to the length of his side. Pest gave him a look that probably boded yelling.
Matthew Hall
 player, 68 posts
Sat 25 Jun 2022
at 19:37
Re: 03 - First Light
For the first time since his arrival, Hall felt almost entirely at ease. Miss Dowling’s knowledge of the seals’ individual personalities, and the names she had given each of them, brought a smile to his face that lingered. It faltered only once, when he briefly saw a pattern in the water that he knew should not be present, but he blinked, focusing on the tide, and it vanished, his smile returning.

He looked over to Miss Dowling, part of his wonder at her, aside from the morning light upon her striking features, coming from the bird perched upon her shoulder. He had spent much time around seagulls as he worked on the shores of Deer Island, and though they would eagerly accept any food that was offered, discarded, or not sufficiently guarded, none that he had ever seen remained around people for long. They usually scattered when workers drew near. He couldn’t help thinking that Pest’s presence, and her trust in Miss Dowling, was a reflection of the young woman’s caring nature.

He opened his mouth to ask Miss Dowling a question, but then thought better of it, allowing the query to fade within his throat. Turning his attention to the seals once more, mindful of the edge as he had been cautioned, he allowed the quiet to linger for a time before saying, “You know every part of this island, don’t you, ma’am? I can’t say that I had explored all of Deer Island before I departed it, but those parts that I did…they almost became part of me. It may seem an odd thing to say, Miss Dowling, but some corners of that place became more home to me than the house I dwelled in. Like my rocks that were my lookout to the sea. They were spots where I felt that I belonged.”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 58 posts
Thu 30 Jun 2022
at 01:33
Re: 03 - First Light
Henrietta looked over at Matt and blinked owlishly. Was she upset he had interrupted her reverie? Was she processing the question? Both? Her smile was an echo of the Mona Lisa's, a touch genuine, a touch playful and mysterious. Did she sense another question had died on his tongue? (The answer to that, was no. But one had to wonder at the expression on her face.)

"Aye, I've never known any other home," she said matter-of-factly, the smile on her face fading a bit as she looked away from him and wiggled forward on her stomach to get a closer look at the seal colony. Her fingers idly drummed a rhythm as she watched them, turning to look back at Matt.

"You are young and fit, handsome enough face, speak well enough, and willing and able enough. You could likely do anything." Envy in her gaze, wistfulness in her tone. The island suited her well enough but she had to wonder if she would ever taste any other air, swim in other seas, climb any other hills? "So what makes this better? Why did you choose this?"
Pest
 NPC, 16 posts
 Tame Seagull
Mon 4 Jul 2022
at 17:46
Re: 03 - First Light
Distracted by the finger-drumming, Pest hopped down on the leeward side of Hetty and tried to catch a fingertip whenever it flashed up from the 'waves' of the others. For all she could probably bite hard enough to pinch if she wanted, the little seagull clearly considered this a game and knew  Hetty would be annoyed with her if she did, simply practicing the art of the catch.
Matthew Hall
 player, 69 posts
Wed 13 Jul 2022
at 15:51
Re: 03 - First Light
The question briefly rendered Hall quiet, his expression momentarily somber. The shadow vanished as quickly as it appeared, the memory that prompted it fading like the passing of a vagrant ghost. He glanced over at Miss Dowling again, finding himself suddenly hesitant to speak to her, the simple details of his life, his hopes, seeming terribly banal.

He watched Pest play her game for a moment before refocusing on the contented colony of seals below. Sighing, he answered, ”I suppose I wanted to find a home. I don’t necessarily mean a place where you have shelter, a spot to lay your head. If you’re able to perform some honest labor, it’s not terribly hard to find a roof. Especially if you make your living on the sea.”

“I wanted to belong. To find some small corner of the world where I could fit. Where I felt welcomed. Settled, even. I suppose that’s what I’m seeking.”


He smiled wanly. ”I don’t think I’ve ever had that. It’s why I left the place I grew up in. I’ve had glimpses, though. Mostly in those special places on the shores of Deer Island that I stumbled across. Sometimes, I worry that I won’t know it if I do find it. But I’m willing to keep searching.”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 59 posts
Mon 25 Jul 2022
at 02:58
Re: 03 - First Light
"Belong." She said the word as if she was tasting it. It was the only thing she said for some time, staring thoughtfully at the water. Belong... What a word. What a concept. But she thought she understood what he meant.

"I think I understand," she said slowly. "Somewhere you can be yourself, you know can always return to, you will be safe." Her voice was soft as she mused about the island. Was that how she felt there? Even with everything that had happened? How could she know when it was the only place she'd known?

"But why search this way? Why not... some other profession? One that's not so remote and lonely and would give you better freedom to leave if it's not the Place?" she said. "How will you know when you've found it?"
Matthew Hall
 player, 70 posts
Tue 2 Aug 2022
at 01:36
Re: 03 - First Light
Hall pondered for a moment, then smiled. ”I might not know if I find it. Or I might never stumble across it at all. I suppose that’s part of the risk you take. Ending up as a wanderer.” He paused, momentarily caught up in the seals’ antics below, then added, ”But better that than never to try and find it at all.”

His eyes grew unfocused, his memory briefly stealing awareness. Shaking his head, he said, “Where I came from…that wasn’t home. A lot of sadness there.  The place, it taught me a lot of important lessons, but I didn’t belong. It seemed there were several there like me, living on that island by fate or happenstance. And some of them…they were willing to settle for it. Even though they were miserable. I was afraid of becoming like them. Just a shadow, merely existing.”

“I do love the sea, though. Most of my glimpses of something better have involved it. I’d like to be near it, even if I end up as a vagabond. Another itinerant sailor. I think that’s why I’ve gone about it this way.”

Henrietta Dowling
 player, 60 posts
Fri 19 Aug 2022
at 02:50
Re: 03 - First Light
Hetty gave a hum of assent. Better to try... Better to try... The words bounced in her head, catching on the jagged edges of memories. The two of them sat there in their own reveries. She blinked rapidly at the same time he shook his head. She gave another more thoughtful hum when he mentioned the sadness around where he came from.

Not time yet, though, she decided. Just a shadow, merely existing... Another phrase that echoed. She leaned forward a bit letting her hair screen her face. That would never be her. She would not be just a cook, a nursemaid, a housekeeper, trading her body and labor for whatever stability her husband could provide and whatever scraps of affection he deigned to toss her way.

Then what was she to be? And how could she find out, be it, on the island? It was a constant itch she could never scratch. "Tell me about one of those glimpses," she asked softly, tone somewhere between a coy maiden's and a wistful girlchild's.


GM edit: formatting

This message was last edited by the GM at 07:40, Fri 19 Aug.

Matthew Hall
 player, 71 posts
Wed 21 Sep 2022
at 20:13
Re: 03 - First Light
Hall shifted his gaze from the seals to the water. He sighed.

”When I was fourteen, I was old enough to work in the shipyards. Not doing the heavy, ship building work that most did, but I fetched tools, carried lumber, helped hold beams in place. Those small chores that always need doing. In the afternoon, I’d sweep the owner’s office before leaving.”

“I got into the habit of not returning home. Not until late. My presence wasn’t really required, or wanted, until well after sundown, when the nightly chores had to be seen to. So, I took to exploring Deer Island. I enjoyed it. The solitude and the safety. And the shoreline always offered new secrets, new discoveries, each time I walked it.”

“One day, I was allowed to leave early. The yard was between vessels to build, so it was quiet mostly. Not much to be done. I went east from the shipyard, further then I’d ever gone. I don’t think I meant to wander as far as I did, I just became lost in the sights, and in my own imagination. Lulled by the sound of the tide. Happy to wander.”

“I came upon a cabin. Even my young eyes could tell it wasn’t old. It was small, but enough room for those that lived there. There was a dock, a little fishing boat, nets and tackle all carefully maintained. Right of the cabin was a workshop. The place was framed by a few trees behind it, pines that gave shade as the sun grew low in the afternoon. It was quiet. Just the sea.”


He traced a few lines in the sand in front of him. ”While I was looking about it in wonder, those that lived there came home. A man and his daughter.” He smiled at the memory. ”I think they were surprised to find someone wandering about their home. But, fortunately, they understood that I wasn’t any kind of a thief, just a boy without roots who’d come across them by accident.”

“His name was Branok. Hers was Mabyn. They came from Cornwall. He’d been a sea captain for most of his years, but he’d lost his last ship to a storm. He never said as much, but I believe that’s how his wife had perished. He told me that once he and Mabyn, along with a couple of his crew, had been rescued and brought to shore in America, he never had the desire to set sail again.”

“Mabyn was older than me. Seventeen, I think. I only learned her name from her father. She never spoke. Branok told me that she was able, but since the shipwreck, she’d simply stopped. He wasn’t certain if she would ever talk again. They were able to communicate, though, and as I came to know them, I learned to understand her, mostly.”

“Branok made rope. Took it to the shipyards and to stores on the mainland. They managed a fair living. Had all they needed. From that day, I think they understood that I wasn’t eager to go to my own home. Neither ever asked me to explain, they just accepted me, and I was always welcomed.”

“For half a year I visited them. Sometimes every day. I learned to make rope, the best ways to fish from boat and shore, and how to cook properly. They treated me like one of those trusted sailors who served on Branok’s ships. Like family, even. I’m not certain that this will make sense, but there were long periods where we were in each other’s presence without anyone feeling the need to speak or communicate. I was able to just be in their presence and it was entirely comfortable. Besides my little hideaways I’d discovered on the island, it was the first place where I felt I belonged. The first place around other people, at least. After my first few visits, it was almost as though I’d lived there from the beginning.”


He paused, staring out at the sea. ”One day, I found them gone. That wasn’t unusual. Branok had to travel to sell his wares and when he went, he always took Mabyn with him. Didn’t want her to be left alone. But they never returned. I came day after day, but they didn’t reappear.”

“Some time later, one of the carpenters at the yard told me he’d heard that the old rope maker had gotten badly ill while he was visiting Bangor. That he’d passed away and that he daughter had gone to live with an aunt. He wasn’t sure where.”

“I went back to the cabin. Many times actually. But it wasn’t the same, even though it held a lot of pleasant memories. The emptiness, the absence, it pushed away everything else.”


He nodded. ”But for a brief space of time, it was one of the best places I’d ever known.”
Pest
 NPC, 17 posts
 Tame Seagull
Tue 4 Oct 2022
at 23:07
Re: 03 - First Light
Pest had been wandering about in the background during Matthew's story with the occasional pause to peck at clifftop vegetation that might be food or tuck stray feathers down. The sound of his voice lapsing into the sound of the surf, wind and seals seemed to release the little gull from all human things of a sudden and she ran past those sitting to lift into the air as simply as deciding not to fall.

One bird among many, she wheeled up, tilting against the silver sky, and light caught amongst the dark-tipped feathers of her wind. Below, the sea rolled up a swell with the wind that shone glassy where waves rolled about to break out at the rocks.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 62 posts
Thu 13 Oct 2022
at 03:03
Re: 03 - First Light
Hetty studied Matt as he told the story, eyes darting from forehead to lips to his ears. But she was listening, absolutely still as if any motion would throw him off course or distract him. Except for her eyes. She didn't even check on Pest, trusting the young bird would let her know about... well, anything really.

She did turn to watch her after Matt finished, giving a slow nod of her own. "Thank you," she said. "I enjoyed that." She paused for a moment, parted her lips, then drew them together again, thinking better of what she'd been about to say. Hetty rolled over onto her back to watch the birds wheeling above them.

"I wonder how many generations of birds have hatched and fledged and returned to repeat the cycle. Wonder if they know how much more is out there and why they choose to return." Hetty sighed again and squirmed a bit to get in a more comfortable position, turning back to look at Matt to see if he had any comments on that front or perhaps a question for her in turn.
Matthew Hall
 player, 73 posts
Fri 21 Oct 2022
at 23:47
Re: 03 - First Light
“It’s easy, perhaps even natural, to return to what you know,” Hall offered after a moment of quiet, “It was for me. Deep down, I knew that I needed to leave Deer Island, to put it behind me, for years. I could have many times. Run away to the mainland. Stowed away on one of the ships leaving the yard. I could’ve even lied about my age and tried to get a spot on a crew. I just…”

He sighed. ”The island was all I had known. Ever. And even though it reached a point where there was clearly more bad than good, I…I was afraid. It was easy to justify a great deal in order to cling to what was familiar.”

He fell quiet again.”I think leaving was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I think it’s that way for a lot of us. Even them.” He looked to the birds.

”But when you find the right place, perhaps you can stop thinking about the need to go elsewhere.” He looked over at her. ”May I ask where you’re from originally, Miss Dowling?”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 64 posts
Mon 21 Nov 2022
at 02:13
Re: 03 - First Light


Hetty nodded in agreement. Restlessness and a desire to see, learn, grow clashed with the comfort familiar places and rhythm of life on the island. She shifted a bit as he spoke, watching him with her inscrutable gaze. When he mentioned the bird, she looked at Pest, a somewhat sad but knowing smile on her face.

"On this island," That was all she deigned to say as she stood up and brushed herself off. Her hair curtained her face and shielded her expression. "Let's continue, there's much more to see!" With that, she turned away from the precarious edge of the cliff.