Series: Dark Magick/Agassia
Disclaimer: Wholly original work.
Summary: Tula, on belongings, belonging, places and places to belong.
Notes: dog_daies, July 12, 2013, 'set the world on fire'
Tula of Ruame, once Spetulin of Torpona, stretched and looked down onto the city below. It was far too early for most of the city to be awake, but that didn't keep the odd musician from tuning his instrument against the first rays of dawn. Ruame was never a quiet city. The street vendors would be setting up soon and Tula had his offerings to buy. In the same way that payments came in, unseen, for his services, he in turn gave back generously. He only needed to feed himself, after all, and see an occasional show or buy a bit of new clothing for himself. But the basics truly did last him for centuries at a time if he shopped well. He'd learned to quite competently mend most anything.
He moved to the bathing room and started his daily ritual of washing away the night before. He'd been up neither late nor been out, but he always felt dirty in the morning. Ruame was deep in the south - the nights had been lingering warm so he tried to blame the sweat that gathered against his skin.
There were no mirrors in his bathing room, which suited him just fine.
Off went the night clothing. Somewhere outside he could hear reed pipes being joined in by sturdier instruments. At least there was always a variety in Ruame. He would take a few coins for the musicians when he went out. And perhaps a bottle or two of wine as well. Tula was a collector, but also a drinker. After his first few centuries, he'd decided the wine would be much happier consumed and worked his way through his collection happily. More always appeared, though, and when he could, he shared.
Despite having gone through the better half of a fine bottle the night before, he was fairly sure it hadn't affected his sleeping or his usual feeling of morning grime.
He'd had no partner for the evening, either, despite an actual proposal that in hindsight, he should have taken up. Few found him terribly attractive, after all, being half foxman and half human and seemingly not having the better parts of either. And while he could rightfully claim relation to Ko'al James - he was his nephew, after all - that didn't go as far as it used to and Tula actually didn't wish to draw too much attention to himself if he didn't have to.
Most didn't know about his shop, his constantly-changing maze of carefully stored items, precious to their owners and kept safe with him. His shop was the safest place in Agassia, after all.
His skin was a darker color partly-obscured by thin greyish fur. His hair was pure grey, long and with enough curl that Ruame's humidity sometimes played cruel tricks during the rainy season. But mostly it hung limp, roughly brushed but often attempting to mat. Keeping it short would have been a better option, but he'd once been told how nice it looked long.
Being a half-breed, his face was a mix of features. His eyes looked more human, his teeth more fox. At least he had a tail that retained all its glory, though it was the same brown-grey as the rest of him and not a stunning red like much of the rest of his family.
Tula had long since given up blaming his mother for falling in love with a human. Things happened. He saw love every day, after all, and knew it had nothing to do with what was on the outside.
He stepped into the deep pool and shivered. The water running in was cold instead of the usual magic-made lukewarm. The shop's 'running water' was spring-fed and exited to a sewer-way that filtered itself quickly into a stream. He'd been lucky, but he'd also had the river-goddess Voleena help him with a bit of ingenuity when he'd first attempted to harness the water that kept seeping up into his yard.
While there were crystals to make the water warm and he'd refill his cache when he went out into the town, Tula decided he'd wash quickly and perhaps even enjoy being cold. Not entirely, but enough. He was definitely awake now, head clear and body alert.
No one was scheduled to visit him, though Tula knew that meant nothing. Often, the owners of the items he kept arrived randomly and they generally hated to wait.
However, he'd noticed over the years that they rarely arrived in the morning. If he was quick with his shopping, a simple placard would be enough to inform his visitors that he was out for just a bit.
No one would dare slip in without him. They'd get lost otherwise and that was always particularly unfortunate, because then the shop would just fold into itself and become just as difficult to find as any particular item. Tula could do it, but it was a hassle.
He never thought he'd spend his life watching over the repository of Agassia's treasures, but he'd also noticed that a lot of people didn't end up doing what they'd expected to do.
Tula had wanted to learn a trade, but as a young half-breed in Torpona, he'd gotten only the worst jobs. Ko'al himself had encouraged Tula to travel and find a place where he might have better luck. If he'd been any use with a sword, Tula knew he might have lived and died with the Northland Army quickly and at his uncle's side. But that was not to be.
First he'd gone east, to Mana Corani and the goddess Tormika. The white town had entranced him but the long rains had proven too much for him and once they'd ceased, he'd headed south and to Nragser. Still lost, he'd entered into a decade of service for the Lifegod Dayn and become immortal. That would give him more time to figure something out, Tula had explained. To make a place for those like himself, he'd hoped. At the time he'd still been so idealistic.
Mostly, he'd shown a good hand for magic, something Ko'al had started teaching him but hadn't properly manifested until he was already in Nragser. A late-bloomer, rather perfect to immortality, really. Dayn himself had said that those later to magic tended to be quite powerful once they were properly trained.
Tula didn't know how much magic he really needed to mind the shop these days, but that was okay.
Maybe that was why he felt grimy sometimes. Maybe the shop really was taking some of his power while he slept. He'd been instructed to leave it as infrequently as possible, though sojourns every few decades would be okay.
So many of the original explanations were a jumble in his head, lost after millennia of daily ritual.
Wash first-- he scrubbed his body and then his hair, ducking beneath the cold water to work the soap through. He'd gotten pretty efficient. Maybe he'd even comb it out once it had dried a bit.
What had he wanted to do, all those years ago? Not quite build a town, but a part of a town? A home for half-breeds and anyone else who didn't quite belong anywhere.
From Nragser he'd gone west - west as far as he could go to Ojismer-Tism and the pulsing sea.
Lady Ammeia had met him there. The gods had a proposal.
He could stop wandering - he'd wandered for more than two hundred years at that point though Tula would have guessed it to be a fraction of that. But he'd wandered for a very long time and the thought of having a place seemed wonderful.
A shop that kept things instead of selling them.
He'd accepted on the spot.
Once dry and dressed, Tula grabbed a deep cloth bag and headed out into the town. He had a pocket filled with gold coins from a box that never emptied and a small list in his head. Fire-crystals first, to warm his bath, made by the sorceresses in the valley just as they had for more centuries than Tula wanted to think about. He wondered if they ever grew tired of their tasks - of making bath crystals, of all things, instead of changing the world.
Tula waved to a couple of children playing in the alleyway running between his shop and the main road. They'd drawn squares on the stone and were throwing painted rocks - some new game.
"Morning," Tula replied. He watched them for a moment. One was at least a quarter fox, he knew, and the other a normal human. There were plenty of others with animan features blended into the city without issue. This was his place, where he could be what he was - where others like him weren't looked down upon by their own kinds.
No one had probably even cared in centuries, he thought as he turned the corner.
The street markets were already in full swing. Tula smiled. He might not have ever managed to change the world, but he loved what it was. And he rather liked his place in it.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!