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Charis

Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters

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December, 73AD*

Erea's fingers fluttered over the almost imperceptible bump at her waist. According to the wise woman she had consulted she could only be two, perhaps three months pregnant but she'd know more once the child quickened and she'd begin to feel its movements. Still, noticing small changes in her figure was thrilling and she smiled to herself, humming a song she had heard her mother sing as she headed towards the main house from her and Immin's small side home. 

Things had been tense to say the least. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen a smile on her siblings faces, or the others in their clustered settlement. What had happened to her brother and mother had shaken the core of the community and she swallowed, the smile falling from her face and her low humming stopping. She had suggested a family dinner, around the hearth like her father used to host - not that she suspected Turi or Ardra to remember them. That brought a whole new wave of grief to wash over and she had to pause outside their home, leaning an arm against the wattle and daub house to catch her breath. She had tried to hold it together for them, for her family and her own future family, but it had taken its toll. Bags hung under her eyes and despite the pregnancy, she was gaunt, exhausted. The forge was failing and people stayed away out of fear of association with a family already blighted by the Romans. The pressure was draining.

Pulling herself together, Erea get a grip, she took a breath and swung the door, ducking into the smoky room - the hearth blazing at one end. Her husband was already there - dolling out drinks and she squinted in the darkness for her two siblings. How the family had shrunk, Gods it was depressing. Arching a brow at her sister as she moved to take a seat she grinned, "Dare I ask what you've prepared, or am I better off not asking?" They weren't scraping by, but their stores were running dry in the December cold and with a lack of stable income.

 

TAG: @Beauty & @Polarity

*Calpornus was killed, and their mother was taken in May 73AD, 7 months previously. 

Edited by Sara
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The warm glow of the hearth gave the home a dim lighting, something that Ardra associated with dark wintery nights when all were inside and kept safe from the cold bitterness that bit at one’s skin. When the door swung open suddenly, Ardra was adding the finishing touches to their dinner. She spun around, a bright smile on her face and it was then that her eyes met her sister’s familiar face.

“It’s a surprise,” she said, rather proud of herself and settling plates onto the table for all to dig in when the time came. It was a meal that Ardra had learned from their mother. Now more than ever, they needed a taste of the past. “Immin had been such good help. Haven’t you, Immin?” Immin looked up momentarily and smiled.

Cooking gave Ardra an ample amount of time to be whisked away by her fancies, musing about some boy in their settlement. He looked at her perhaps once and since then, she hoped that he would marry her, just the way Erea and Immin were married. Before Erea had arrived, Ardra had been subjecting poor Immin to her youthful imaginations of how she wanted to be married just like her sister by the time she was seventeen. A stark difference to how she’d been months earlier after the horrors their family had faced, though she missed her mother and Calpornus deeply still. Erea looked weary, Ardra wondered if it partly had to do with the forge and their past tragedies.

“Why don’t you sit down,” said Ardra, gesturing towards a chair. Being the youngest, for once, she wanted to have more control of things. “You mustn’t worry about anything, ever. Immin, Turi and I have everything under control. Don’t we, Turi? Turi?” Her neck twisted in search of her older brother.

@Polarity @Sara

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Turi gave his eldest sister a sombre and sideways glance before turning his gaze upon the youngest, Ardra, at her beckoning to confirm her assertion and adopting a reluctantly, mirthful expression. If truth be told, it had been many years since he’d felt any semblance of control. They had long been at the ‘mercy’ of Romans – fabled though it was – and the events of seven months prior had only reaffirmed this belief in his increasingly, volatile mind. Nevertheless, it was not her burden to bear and he would seek to spare her of the same brooding temperament such thoughts would entail. He found her naiveté with regards to the Roman threat more endearing than wearisome, as it provided a temporary escape from such weighty concerns.

“Of course. Ardra has been an adequate substitute since you and Immin moved in next door,” he replied teasingly to his little sister’s question. Their brother-in-law had finished thatching the roof of he and Erea’s matrimonial home several weeks ago, with the duo moving out of the familial hovel in bated arrival of an expectant newborn. Though Turi had helped where he could, the loss of Calpornus and Letinie had brought earlier construction efforts to a grinding halt. Further delays had been required as their now absent, eldest brother’s assistance in such matters was sorely missed and the family coffers dwindled. Today was the first time since their departure that all four of the remaining family members had gathered together in such a way, though the couple were never far away should a need arise.

“I hope Immin has no complaints,” Turi turned his gentle taunts towards Erea. Familial banter that was once commonplace had grown sparse amongst their retinue, with the once close bond that the two middle siblings shared having become somewhat fractured. It was a situation that neither party had seemed to strive towards nor enjoyed, but had been born of circumstance and their differing views.

@Sara @Beauty

Edited by Polarity
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Erea grinned at her sister and held up her hands in mock defence; "I'll ask no more, I'm sure it'll be delicious." She said as she took her seat and her husband dutifully laid a cup of watered mead in front of her, after leaving a chaste kiss on the top of her head. Glancing up at her younger brother as he made his jest about Erea and Immin's new home she sighed; "I'm sure, I'm sure. But you're sure you're alright in here in your own, both of you?" Erea and Immin's planed departure had been perfectly rationale when Turi and Ardra still had their mother to mind the hearth, and Calpornus to guard the home. Now they were alone - even if only thirty paces away. 

Immin rolled his eyes and took a seat with a grunt next to his wife, chuckling to himself; "They're not in bloody Londinion* Erea." She only shot her husband a light glare which promptly silenced him. It was not his birth family, of course he wouldn't see it the same as her. 

Sipping the drink lightly she sighed and set it down, leaning her chin in her palm. She didn't want to bring up the darkness again, not at a family meal - not yet anyway and so bit her tongue. Her questions on the propserity of the family would come later. For now, she glanced up at her sister and little brother - although neither were little anymore, they were both fully grown. Gods where had the time gone? "And what have you two been filling your days with, whilst I'm led in my bed as this one sucks the life out of me." She grinned lightly and rested a hand on her middle. She was laughing now, but certainly hadn't been almost every morning that week as she'd found herself vomiting her guts up. Children had better be worth it, she thought to herself. 

 

TAG: @Beauty & @Polarity

*London. 

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Her mouth opened in surprise. “I’m more than adequate,” she whined quietly with a laugh, mostly to herself. And when her sister asked if they were all right on their own, Ardra nodded her head. Admittedly, sometimes it was difficult to sleep, wondering where their mother was and knowing that Calpornus had died in their home but she couldn’t mention that to Erea, let alone have Turi hear about it. They had a lot on their shoulders. Ardra sat down at the table right next to Erea. With her sister living in another home, though close, she wanted to sit next to her.

Ardra was more than excited about having a little niece or nephew, believing it would bring everyone joy as children often did, or so she had heard, and it was precisely that that had stolen her attention. She smiled widely in a way that made the sides of her eyes crinkle and her hand reached to take one of her sister’s, squeezing gently. Their mother would be proud.

“If there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask,” said Ardra pleasantly. “And when the little one is here at last, I would be more than happy to take over whenever you need the rest. I hope you two are blessed with many children.”

Immin let out a laugh. “Let us have this little one first,” he said.

Sometimes when cleaning, Ardra was met with dreaming about how Turi would teach Erea’s child how to work at the forge and how her sister’s children would be close to her own, whenever she too became a mother. She loosened her grip from her sister to pour herself some watered mead.

“Turi ought to tell you about his days, mine have been rather uneventful, I’m afraid,” she admitted. “I’ve been busy here in the home and sewing in hopes to make new clothing.” Proud of her endeavours, she lifted her cup and took a sip before placing it back down.

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“I’ve been discussing an opportunity with some men from the Ecen[1] for the last few days. I think we’re to be a family of farriers for the time being. Not as lucrative, but it should be steady work,” he answered hopefully, yet carrying a sense of weariness. His mastery of the hearth had never been of equal to his brother, with the family’s necessity for Turi to continue that legacy wracking him with equal parts shame and regret, due to his inability to provide in similar style. This recent proposal would have him care for the hooves and shoes of the horses in the charge of warriors from a closely neighbouring tribe, largely under the sway of southern Roman dominance, who provided supporting troops to the Roman legions; a position that would likely put him at odds with his own ideals.

The annual influx of Roman colonists to the northern outposts, particularly aristocrats and the wealthy middle class, had gouged the local economy. Roman traders had been able to undercut local artisans with an endless stream of supplies from the continent and detract from the appeal of the Briton’s ancestral crafts through the import of exotic, luxurious and technically superior wares from abroad. The Romans had intended to conquer Britannia, not only by the sword, but by the manipulation of market forces. It had become rare for him to see his kinsmen attired in traditional Brittonic designs and cherished the idea that his youngest sister still held true to their cultural fashions. The thought of either of his sisters dressed in gaudy, Roman garments was a sour one.

“I, um- I could probably use Immin’s help in negotiating the, uh… finer details of the contract,” he posited hesitantly towards Erea, nervously rubbing the nape of his neck with his left hand. With the cup in the right, he took a protracted swig of the mead that had been poured and neglected to mention the condescending regard in which the Iceni had held him, lest she thought less of him and his capabilities. The men in question likely wished to take advantage of the youth and inexperience of their new business partner in such matters.

@Sara @Beauty

Reader Advisory:

  • [1]‘Ecen’ is the Brittonic name for the tribe of ‘Iceni’.
Edited by Polarity
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Erea squeezed her sisters hand with a genuine smile of pleasure. "Oh don't you worry, when I'm as big as a house and sick to my stomach still, I'll come knocking on your door for sustenance and support." Immin snorted in amusement and she batted his arm playfully, before adding: "And don't think you two get to duck out of helping me care for the little one once he's here, Gods know I'll need a break at some point." She'd seen her friends with their children; the bags that hung like shadows under their eyes, the yawns, the stumbled words from weariness. She was dreading it and was trying to focus on the positives. She'd wanted to be a mother for years, and the positives would outweigh the negatives...surely? 

As her sister flippantly dismissed what had filled her days, she frowned. She didn't want Ardra to think her work was any less critical than Turi or her own. After all, the eldest (living) sibling certainly had no talent for domestic duties...if she had tried to cook dinner for the family as Ardra often did, she was more than sure they'd all end up poisoned. Still, as she was about to rebut her sister, Turi spoke and she glanced across to him. 

"Good." She offered, in support. As much as she knew her youngest brother was idealistic, moralistic even about the role of Romans in their country at least he had Erea's own pragmatic streak. She could sense Immin tense though next to her and when Turi suggested he'd need help, her husband snorted and shook his head; "Help them? To what? Have horses so they can ride down our people? Pfft, fat chance of that lad." He said dismissively, irritated and Erea glared at him. Gods she didn't want an argument, here now, but she felt irritation sweep through her. "We need the money, Immin." She warned with an edge to her voice. But her husband, evidently irritated, threw up his hands; "Not from them! You should have come to me first boy I-" Erea held up her own hand to silence him, her voice louder now; "You are not the head of this family, Immin. And Turi is trying to keep us going you don't get to decide-" But before she had even finished, Immin had stood and stalked to the door, shooting a glare at each member of the family: "I don't get to decide anything do I? Enjoy your meal." He glowered before leaving and slamming back the door on its hinges. 

Erea let out a tightly held breath.

 

TAG: @Polarity & @Beauty

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When Ardra heard Erea’s “good”, she knew that Turi’s plan was a good one because Erea thought so. It sounded as though Turi had put some good thought into it, planning ways to make the family prosper, not fall. It gave Ardra a flicker of hope. She was about to open her mouth to tell Turi that their mother, father and Calpornus would have been proud of him for stepping forward, no differently than Calpornus had after their father was gone, but Immin began to speak in a way that sounded aggressive.

His exasperated, aggravated and, frankly, forceful behaviour only caused Ardra to clam up and keep quiet, merely watching the ordeal awkwardly. Not only had he spat on Turi’s plan but he was rude to Erea, which was unforgivable. They were husband and wife, they were meant to be each other’s pillar. On top of that, he now refused to eat the meal that Ardra had spent much time preparing for.

“Enjoy your meal,” said Ardra, trying to imitate Immin’s voice by deepening it, when the man was gone and the door was shut. He had left without eating and if he returned later, the food would have become cold by then or finished entirely. “Well, I think Turi’s idea is marvelous. Don’t mind him, he’s just jealous he didn’t think of it first.” She offered Turi a warm smile, hoping that Immin’s reaction didn’t deter him from what he thought was right. She then turned to Erea. “Will you be all right going back to your home later? Perhaps you can stay the night and let him see how lonely life is without you. When he wakes up alone and hungry, he’ll be awfully sorry.”

@Polarity @Sara 

Edited by Beauty
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Erea’s affirmation of Turi’s decision to seek out alternative avenues of gaining wages gave him a hesitant sense of pride at her approval, greatly diminishing his growing disillusionment at the harsh reality of business. “Thank you-” he began to reply, but was cut off.

Though he had expected Immin to provide resistance, the abruptness of the outburst had caught Turi off guard, causing him to choke slightly on his mouthful of mead. When his brother-in-law suggested that his efforts would be put to slaughtering their own people, the younger male Briton had the imprudent inclination to point out that auxiliary troops rarely served in the lands of their origins; an impulse he ultimately restrained.

Ardra’s remarks derived dry amusement from Turi, causing a brief upturn of his lips, but his overall expression remained a mix of confused and concerned. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I didn’t mean to spoil the evening. I should’ve talked to him first. Perhaps… I’m not ready to do this alone,” his fleeting pride giving way to his former regret, as he returned to doubting his actions.

“Perhaps I should…” he let the sentence hang in the air, unsure of what he should do. Apologise? Explain? Be quiet? The latter held its appeal, but neither seemed to be ideal and he doubted whether either deed would suffice in bringing this conflict to a speedy resolution. He cast his eyes questioningly towards his eldest sister, hoping she could supply some direction.

@Sara @Beauty

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Erea grinned at her sister's comments but reached out a hand to squeeze her brothers shoulder. "No, don't apologise." She chided with a firm voice (and an even firmer grip). "He's been like this for weeks - I swear if I was a meeker woman I'd be walking on eggshells around him." She rolled her eyes with a little sigh. As it was, she just ended up throwing lots of their various possessions at him. The amount of bowls she'd broken over the last month really was ridiculous... 

At her sisters question she smiled softly. Ardra was so like their mother - well, their mother before their fathers death. Letinie had been warm and doting - full of love. Unfortunately Ninnian's passing had made her colder, more afraid. She hoped the same never happened to her sweet youngest sibling. "I'll stay here." She affirmed. "I'll share your cot with you, and who knows - maybe I won't want to go back! Look at how you spoil me." She grinned - gesturing to the mead and the simmering food on the hearth. She was jesting, of course, trying to lighten the mood but there was a tinge of seriousness to her voice. She loved her husband, deeply, but his recent sullenness was draining - especially when the family were already grieving deeply. 

Trying to cheer up her siblings - as she so often did - she arched a brow and placed a hand on her middle: "Honestly, put him out of your mind." She was mainly referring to her brother, she knew the introverted young man often took things to heart, "I'm hungry and we have plenty of happier to things to talk of...I'm going to need name suggestions for this little one, for instance."

 

TAG: @Polarity @Beauty

Edited by Sara
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Ardra looked forward to sharing a cot with her older sister, there was always something fun about being in proximity to a sibling. You could stay up late simply talking, laughing and remembering good times. But most of all, she felt better with Erea by her rather than with a raging Immin. She was sure he would calm down soon, she had hope he would. But men were so confusing sometimes.

With the mention of names for the coming child, Ardra’s attention was completely taken. “I can imagine that you are hungry, Erea, you are eating for two,” said Ardra with a smile. “Or three.” It was a joke but if Erea was to have twins, there would be double the work with the children and that definitely meant that Ardra had to put her feet forward to help. She didn’t mind, anything for family.

“Hm, how about… Ula?” said Ardra cheerfully looking from one sibling to the other. “I believe it means jewel of the sea. Isn’t it fitting for a girl? We are close to the sea and she’ll be a jewel amongst the rubble.” She didn’t mean to say that they three were rubble, more that the girl would be a light in such trying in times, assuming the child was a girl. Ardra hoped it was. “But if it’s a boy…,” Ardra sat back, eyes lowering in thought before shooting upwards to look to her siblings again. “Calpornus. So that he’s remembered.”

Not wanting to make things said, she quickly added: “When are you getting married, Turi?” Being her age, everything was about love. It also helped her cope with the family’s losses, escaping where things felt better.

@Polarity @Sara

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He swallowed hard at Ardra’s question on his prospects for marriage. He had turned seventeen at the beginning of the season, meaning he had been viewed with a begrudging respect befitting of an adult man within his tribe for about a year now. Such an occasion would have once filled him with pride, but had now been sullied by the fracturing of their household. With the loss of Calpornus, the expectation to marry and produce offspring had become a far more apparent concern for Turi. He was a socially awkward and romantically inept young man, though his outward appearance did draw occasional interest. Were one to converse with the taciturn Briton, he was more likely to gain a loud rebuke than their affection.

“What need have I of a wife when you feed me so well,” he nervously laughed, rubbing his belly dramatically. “No doubt we’ll be knee deep in children by the time you start. I don’t feel a need to add to our current problems,” he grinned warmly at his own sarcastic remark.

“Turning to the matter at hand,” he deflected away from providing an answer to her question. “I think Ardra has the right of it. Maybe ‘Calum’? Either way, young ‘Cal’,” he agreed, though adding a slight alteration to his youngest sister’s suggestion.

“As for a girl… what about ‘Etaine’?” Turi quirked his brow and offered a half-smile towards Erea. “'Ula’ is probably better though,” he quickly resigned. Thinking on the subject more thoroughly, he allowed himself to provide one final alternative, “If she’s anything like her mother or aunt, perhaps ‘Moira’ would be appropriate. An exceptional name, for a sure-to-be exceptional little girl. In the same vein as the women before her.” Almost sickeningly flattering. He may have overdone that one. As long as it proves distracting.

@Sara @Beauty

Edited by Polarity
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She couldn't help but grin at Ardra's not so subtle hint about her younger brothers state of matrimony. It felt odd to her, to even think about, but then she supposed she had been Turi's age when she'd gone to Immin even though she swore she surely couldn't have been that young? It had been something playing on her mind, however, as evidently it had been on Ardra's. She knew her pregnancy was only a few weeks progressed and things could change in an instant. She said nothing, however, as Turi deftly (for him) tactically changed the subject back.

"Ula..." She smiled at her sister, "I like that. But Immin is convinced it is a boy." She laughed. Many believed they could divine the sex of a child before birth but Erea put no stock in it really. 

"Calum though..." She glanced at her brother and nodded, with a little smile. "I like that. A lot." She did. She thought naming him, if indeed it was a him, after their very recently deceased brother would be a touch...morbid. But even uttering the name, even a derivative of it, cast a shiver of cold over the room and she sighed. It hurt to think of, and she was trying desperately not to think. She hadn't seen his body - that had been a present for her husband, but his description after a drink or two only compounded her constant nausea. She took a deep sip to try and rid herself of the image. 

She needed to move on to happier topics, and quickly and she glanced between her youngest siblings: "But anyway - who knows, maybe one of you will marry and steal my favourite names. I was only sixteen when I met Immin, the useless sod," She grinned and glanced knowingly at her sister, and then her brother; "Do I need to be interviewing any young men or women for your hands, any time soon?" She really had no idea whether either of them had fancies, but looking at their beauty, she didn't doubt people would be interested.

 

TAG: @Beauty @Polarity

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Ardra was dissatisfied with her brother’s response and expected a love story of the ages, instead she was met with him changing the subject. But within moments, her attention was on the child’s names again and she nodded to the suggestion of “Moira”, which sounded quite beautiful, and Turi’s compliment did indeed distract her further. Not before rolling her eyes at the fact that Immin thought the child was a boy, Ardra was sure it was a girl and wanted it to be. But if the child was a boy, she’d love him all the same and was content with “Calum” or “Cal”.

As her siblings spoke some more, she began to eat away at her meal, enjoying every bit of it because Immin wouldn’t be. Ardra had been quite young when Erea met her husband and the marriage had been something that tickled the girl’s imagination, hoping for the exact same thing one day.

“You heard Turi, he doesn’t need a wife because I apparently feed him so well,” said Ardra. She herself hoped to be married, she liked a good number of people, every boy and man was a potential husband, but with her family’s predicament, she wanted to help as much as she could before being whisked away. She didn’t mind waiting. “As for myself, I want to wait a year or two before getting married. I think seventeen would be the right age for a marriage. Not too old and not too young.” It was probably for the best too but as she continued to speak, she began to turn bright red and smile a little too much. “But there is one boy…” More like several. “And I think he is handsome and smart. Maybe you both could put a good word about me. I’m too shy to talk to him.”

@Polarity@Sara

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