A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

Stories taking place on the continent of Africa and in the region known as the Middle East. Some countries include Egypt, Botswana, Iran, and Turkey.
Forum rules: When starting your thread, please put a location [Tag] at the beginning of it, such as [Ethiopia] or [Libya]. Use broad locations if possible, though more detailed descriptions are welcome for specific locations such as schools. Once your thread is complete, be sure to mark and report it as complete to be archived.
 #33271  by Elijah Westfall
 07 Dec 2019, 12:45
Location: Iraq • Date: September 2003


In the corner of his minuscule desk, sat a pile of stationary he had yet to use. In the decade he had spent serving his country Elijah had never sent a letter 'home'.

Quill dripped in ink, he took a piece of parchment. Could he consider this as sending a letter home? Could a wife chosen in the haste of a drunken haze be considered as someone who was waiting for him? Was she waiting for him?
Dear
The word remained lonely as Elijah considered the best way to address her. They had awoken next to each other, stranger yet married. Even as they had reconstructed their evening, he had struggled to process that the memories discussed had been his own. She was his wife and yet he did not consider to be his. She was Ottilie. Not a stranger, not his friend. Just Ottilie.
Dear Ottilie,
He finally wrote.
I hope this letter finds you well. It's funny, but the first thing I feel compelled to tell you is that the food here is better than what we ate at that awful breakfast buffet we attended the morning before I left. That coffee tasted worsts than flu potion. I'm still sorry I chose that place by the way. Hope our time apart gave you enough time to forgive me. Though I wouldn't blame you if you hadn't. There were, after all, eggshells in your omelet.

There is so much sand here. I wonder if I'll ever be able to go to the beach without imagining the sand as a monster that gets EVERYWHERE. Oh, but something I appreciate are the sunsets. The othe rnight I swear the sunset had a tint of red that reminded me of your hair. I had never seen the sky so red.
He spent a lot of time wondering if he should add something more. Maybe talk about them, instead of pretending like he was a simple world traveler enjoying the view and despising the sand. Eventually, he chose to end the letter there.
Looking forward to hearing from you,

Elijah W.
 #33350  by Ottilie Grainger
 08 Dec 2019, 22:30
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Thursday, October 2, 2003

By the time the soldier's inadvertent wife sat down and actually retrieved her own parchment, quill, and the letter that came through the mail weeks ago, the parchment that bore his words was worn and creased from so many times of being unfolded, folded, unfolded, then folded again. One corner was dog-eared from having been jammed up against a corner inside her drawer. Ottilie ran a hard palm over the wrinkles against the surface of her desk in a half-hearted attempt to flatten them out, but found herself distracted by words that were far from new by now.

It was not that she expected to simply pretend that the other did not exist. He said that he would return for Christmas, so it wasn't ever going to be that anyway, but it was not that she expected to have no contact whatsoever before then. A letter made sense. She just had not expected it.

She wasn't sure why she didn't.

She wasn't sure what to expect, or really, to expect at all.

Except a response was clearly expected, even if his tone was more hopeful than demanding, even if something about him as she knew so far —which was little, if barely at all— suggested that he was not precisely the kind of person to expect anything of her or of anyone. Though, really, there was a fine line between hope and expectation, and that line blurred easily.

Anyway, it was perhaps for the best that he wrote. They had agreed to file for her immigration application when he returned if they, or rather he, had not changed their minds during the time apart. It was better that he did not forget her.

Ottilie crumpled the first parchment on which she started with the American's name, even though it was perfectly good.

And it was better that she did not sound too remote, too... cold.

Dear Elijah,

Better.

The seamstress briefly stared off into the limited airspace between herself and the wall against which her desk was propped. The last time she wrote a letter, the addressee was dead, which was to say that she did not have very much of an opinion as to neither Ottilie's penmanship nor the sophistication of her thoughts.

I am sorry it took me so long to reply. We just came out of fashion week for spring/summer '04, you see. It's also funny that you should mention my hair. Viktoria, our chief designer, has declared cinnabar the colour of the season and it is all I have been seeing in various fabrics in the past three months. I have never been so sick to see my own reflection in the mirror, but if you do not mind it so much, I am attaching a leftover strip of georgette ribbon from the last gown I worked on for the collection.

She paused to glance over his letter, briefly rolling her eyes at the way he had spelt 'omelette'.

These Americans.

That said, I regret to report that the dastardly place is still in full operation. Perhaps when you find what they sent you to find in Iraq, you might smuggle one or two out here for us to put it out of its misery. Otherwise, I think I've mostly forgiven the ill-made decision. Mostly. You must be looking forward to visiting Vegas again if you're that fond of sand. I'll make sure there's only a few pinches in between your bedsheets instead of a few fistfuls.

Would you send a picture of the sunset if you write again? I cannot imagine I'll ever have a reason to travel to that part of the world.

Ottilie.
Last edited by Ottilie Grainger on 10 Dec 2019, 21:04, edited 6 times in total.
 #33372  by Elijah Westfall
 09 Dec 2019, 22:01
[thread]Al Qadisiyah, Iraq | October 7th 2003[/thread]

Time had passed and the raggle-taggle of men finally marched as a cohesive unit. While Elijah was not a soldier, he was still one of them.

Time had passed and he had yet to hear from her. While Elijah was her husband, there did not seem to be a them.

He had gotten used to his barrack mates receiving mail while he did not. He had not expected his last night to be any different. He was set to leave upon daybreak. Now that he had been trained to operate within a combat zone, Elijah was to be sent on his mission.

Elijah had not noticed the neat roll of parchment at first. It is only when it had fallen to the ground and he had picked it up that he had seen his name on it. A foolish smile made the left corner of his mouth droop while the other flung upward. He sat on his bottom bunk and unsealed the scroll. A red ribbon fell on his lap. He caught himself before his puppy love instinct made him bring the piece of fabric to his nose. He had forgotten the color of her eyes and her smell, but he had not forgotten about her red hair. Hair as red as this ribbon.

He kept the red strand around his thumb and read her letter.
_________________

The following morning he wrote his response.

[parchment]
Dear Ottilie,
Thank you for reminding me that Vegas is a desert, I now miss the city a little less.

Tell me more about your role in the spring/summer collection. I mean other than being the person who inspired the whole thing! Is she giving your hair credit? At the very least you should get a pay raise. I would love to attend a fashion show at some point, see your work right there on the runway. It'd be such a thrill.

I promise I will do my best to send you a picture of the cinnabar sunset,

Elijah

[/parchment]

The piece of georgette ribbon was in his breast pocket and it would stay there; adjacent to the ring that dangled next to his dog tag.
 #33420  by Ottilie Grainger
 10 Dec 2019, 22:11
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Friday, October 10, 2003

Caught in between nonsensical advertisement flyers, Magic Neep coupons, and an untenably voluminous stack of magazine subscriptions addressed to previous tenants, his letter scroll had nearly gotten thrown out before it was ever afforded a glance. It was purely by chance that she had noticed the unfortunately-squashed parchment as she bent to move a few leaflets that instead fluttered to the floor. When she did, however, Ottilie had fished the singular correspondence out so quickly that she dropped it back into the rubbish bin by sheer reflex.

Recomposing herself after retrieving it once again, she did what any good British would do at times of emotional stress—Ottilie brewed herself a nice pot of tea. No sugar, a heartbeat's dash of milk. A pause later, she added another dash, just for good measure.

Then, she sat down and unsealed the scroll.

When she was done with it, the woman sat for a moment before she returned to the bin and sifted through it, brows knitted, as if half expecting for another parchment that might have contained some further message. A post-script, perhaps? There was none. That was all there was.

Almost petulant, the letter joined its previous counterpart in the drawer of her desk.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003

One would have thought that the end of fashion week meant that work would slow down, and it arguably did, but it also meant that the orders were coming in from just about every other American socialite matron, daughter, and daughter's chihuahua who was having a birthday. She absent-mindedly emptied her mailbox on the way into her apartment. Another day, another stack of useless, pointless, mind-boggling assortment of spam mail. A touch disappointingly, there were no letters.

It took a good minute before she realised why.

Hastily, Elijah's wife set about with her stationary to reply. How many days had it been? She mustered the courage to check the postage on his letter—one week.

He probably hadn't forgotten her just yet. Maybe.

Dear Elijah,

I wouldn't dare go so far as to think I am the muse. It would be a great injustice if I am, for I have not in fact been offered a raise. Maybe I should sue. I hear the Americans are very fond of doing so.

My place is in the sewing chambers, which I suppose is where the magic happens in fashion. I believe the saying goes that the designer is the incantation, but the seamstresses are the wandwork, though that might just be our way of persuading ourselves that what we do is worthwhile with so little credit. This season, we have a great deal of embellishing with streeler beads, which shift colours most peculiarly on their own, so it's very important that each one must be arranged to be in just the right place, next to the right complementing bead, so to not upset the gradient. Otherwise, the entire thing must be taken apart down to the singular offending bead and redone. The final product is imaginably elaborate, a dress with a full-fledged mosaic art piece for pattern. Each dress is a folklore of its own, which is the theme.

Fall/winter '04 will take place in February. There will be no streeler beads, and I cannot guarantee a front row seat, but something can probably be done if you happen to be around.

February was an odd time, long enough past New Year and too far from any following holiday. She did not quite remember when he had said his birthday was, which was a little problematic as she did, in fact, remembered him mentioning at least a month that was not February. Anyway, she cannot see any reason he would be given time off of service in that month unless there was a particular holiday.

Which there wasn't. Not really. That one did not count.

She frowned slightly at her own reply. It was longer than she intended. Ideally, the length should match his or only be just slightly lengthier.

I hope you are well and the food has not decreased in quality.

Ottilie.
 #33495  by Elijah Westfall
 12 Dec 2019, 11:16
Location: Al Qadisiyah, Iraq • Date: October 30th 2003


Stripped of his dog tag, his wedding ring, and his entire identity Elijah had managed to integrate a group of dissidents. He had not been with them for long but as his daily reports kept disclosing his infructuous searches, it had become clear that his mission was doomed to fail.

The order to retreat back to base, made him wonder if his superiors had come to the same conclusion.

The debriefing had been long, but eventually, he had been excused. Elijah's role had just been drastically changed. He was no longer set to infiltrate dissident cells, Elijah was to become an army scout. As the person who already had regional intelligence, he was to play a main role in the military's reconnaissance.

Feeling as though his superiors were not being straightforward, Elijah wondered why his mission had suddenly changed. Dejected and rather exhausted, he made his way towards his assigned bunk.

a small package containing his personal belongings was waiting for him next to a scroll of parchment.

Location: Ar Rutbah, Iraq • Date: November 5th 2003


Her letter had been with him since the night he had returned to base camp. He had intended on writing a reply in the morning, but a nighttime attack had forced him and his platoon to leave prematurely.

The scroll had joined the little haul of memorabilia he carried on his person. Its corners had crumbled from the dozen times he had read it. He knew it by heart. He wouldn't dare repeat it, but there was so little comfort to be found in the desert, that he had come to find amenity
on the familiar loops in the shape of her letters.

Days had passed when he finally found the time to respond.
Dear Ottilie,
You will be sad to learn that the food quality has decreased drastically.
Elijah looked at the dried ration bag he had was getting ready to prepare.
It's like being back to that dinner all over again, except this time the eggs are bathing in an unidentified liquid. Not to mention the desert providing unsolicited spices. But know that this is a culinary critique, not a complaint. I'm lucky to have meals at all.

It sounds like you are doing meticulous work. I've never really thought about the minutia of fashion. The description of your work is giving me a whole new appreciation for it. Thank you for that.

I'm not sure if I will be around in February, but I certainly hope so. Meanwhile here's the picture I promised.
Elijah took two pictures from one of his multiple pockets. One displayed a burning red sky overlooking golden dunes. The other had been taken seconds later by one of his colleagues. It showed Elijah standing in his uniform, while in the background one could see the flaming sky and glowing sand. The agent hesitated for a moment. Would she care to own a picture of him?
Maybe you can show Viktoria the second picture. Who knows? She might find inspiration from it.

Always a pleasure to hear from you,

Elijah
 #33563  by Ottilie Grainger
 15 Dec 2019, 22:55
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Friday, October 24, 2003

The moon was a pale, curved scythe hung over shadowy, roiling mountains when the seamstress finally arrived home from work. Few trees adorned the desert city that had been a safe harbour for the past five years, but autumn still whispered its presence in a brisk, bone-dry breeze at nights. Any other time, it would have made the foreigner wistful for trees with flaming leaves that carpeted brick and cobblestone pavements. Tonight, she did not even spare England a thought as she slid a small key into the lock of her letterbox.

A lonesome leaflet that curtly informed of a water shutdown for maintenance next weekend. The resident left it curled sadly inside, locked her letterbox, then made her way up to her apartment, trying her hardest to keep her steps even. She barely took off her shoes before she was in the narrow bathroom, hooking her thumbs through the fabric and tugging her underwear down.

Nothing.

Not a single spot of red.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada • Date: Monday, November 10, 2003

The first wave of nausea came, in well-timed art of mockery, one week after she had surreptitiously slid a blue-and-white box across the pharmacy counter at a Magic Neep's. The cashier—a blue-haired boy with a softly singing neon-pink metal stud in one ear and whom could not possibly be older than a freshly graduated high schooler—had lazily lifted an eyelid to fix a vaguely curious look on her. As she reached to pick it up off the counter to put in her bag, he finally spoke for the first time in their largely silent exchange.

"Good luck," he said glumly, "that's why my girl left me. She said I'd be a shit dad."

The witch said nothing. The following Friday, one of the other seamstresses had opened up a container that held two perfect boiled eggs for her salad and the scent had sent Ottilie to the bathroom at the cafe next door, emptying into the toilet every breakfast cereal flake, drop of tea and water, and two-thirds of her soul. The bloodless blancher in her cheeks was nothing a quick glamour charm cannot fix, but the cause of it was futile even to the strongest of charms. No—that called for darker magic or a healer's work.

Except that was not only her decision to make.

Which was somewhat absurd, given the fact that it was inside her, but that was delving into needless and impractically complicated territory.

The military wife thought of the cashier's remark as she re-read Elijah's letter two evenings after receiving it, the other wonderment as to what had taken his reply so long not less than thrice having crossed her mind. She brushed her thumb across his jaw in one of the two pictures that came with it, strangely fixated by the colour of his skin against the backdrop of a brightly burning sunset that, true to his word, reminded even her of her hair. What kind of father would he be? She did not know him nearly enough to make a judgment that felt in gravity and weight of seriousness like the passing of a sentence. Yet, if she were to have to find an answer, the correct one came frightfully crystalline clear. Elijah Westfall would be ten and twenty-five times the parent that his drunkenly-married stranger wife could never be even if she'd tried with all her heart.

No good parents came to be from not wanting to be a parent in the first place.

Dear Elijah,

Thank you for remembering and taking the time to take the pictures. The sunset is every bit as marvellous as you described. I'm sorry for the fall in culinary quality, but pleased to see that it does not physically reflect on you.

Unlike on her, whose brain had unsolicitedly conjured the image as described and resulted in her having to bolt for the loo. By now she had quite gotten the hang of it, at least. Unlike her fellow women similarly conditioned, she was blessed to have no symptoms of morning sickness and was, for all purposes, completely functional so long as certain food items were not introduced into the room.

Food aside, I would also enjoy hearing about your life when you are not on active duty. Is it true that soldiers dress in their sharpest uniforms and go to town on the weekends to take the local girls to dances, or is that just in the plays? Speaking of uniforms, I also see you've got wind about how fond we females are of a man in a uniform. Well played, Agent Westfall.

I'm afraid Viktoria has not been near short of inspiration as of late. Between approaching deadlines to get in the final designs for Fall/Winter '04 and Senator Nordstrom announcing that she's joining the Secretarial race, our chief designer has been firing on all cylinders. We are also coming up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, so the time leading up to the festivities is always particularly busy.

Do they give you any time off for the festive season? Do they let you go home or are you expected to celebrate with your fellow comrades at base? I am curious.

She pursed her lips, hesitating momentarily. A small, niggling seed of guilt blossomed like weeds in her chest. Elijah deserved to know. However, she could not begin to imagine the appropriate words to convey such news in writing. And, anyway, Ottilie tried to stampede out the guilt. She could have dealt with this now, before he ever returned, without his ever finding out.

She was doing him a favour.

Ottilie.
 #33730  by Elijah Westfall
 21 Dec 2019, 14:42
Location: Al Qadisiyah, Iraq • Date: November 15th 2003


Cinnabar red had given way to other shades. Crimson red, from sunburnt skin, contrasting against the pale dehydrated sheath. Blood red in its many iterations, from fresh wounds to dried blood. And sometimes, mostly when he wondered if what he did mattered, cinnabar red made an appearance.

His duty remained to his country, but she seemed to represent a greater part of it. She, the immigrant, had come to represent the ideals he defended or at the very least she appeased him when he started questioning the intent of his mission. He had someone now. Not quite the home he so desperately desired but at the very least a person to write to.
Dear Ottilie,

I am sure there are times when it is like the plays. Had I been sent to defend an ally country, there might be the possibility to organize or participate in such dances, but we are not here to defend this country.
Not in the way that made a country grateful.
I won't lie, there are opportunities to fraternize, they are rare, but they happen. I've been invited for tea once, they were lovely, though slightly scared. Not everyone is fond of a uniform.

Most of the downtime we have is spent between us. We play cards, soccer (muggles call it football) or other simple games. We have to keep active or else it's too easy to start missing those we left behind.
He did not know how to explain the ways in which he missed her. At times he missed her in a demanding way, he could almost let himself bathe in anger towards their ambiguous relationship. It frustrated him to be far from her and unable to clarify how he felt towards her. But mostly he missed her in the ideal portrait he had sketched in his mind. She had liked him that first night and she would eventually learn to love him. Either way, it was never truly her he missed.
I'm not sure if I will have time during the holidays. I would like to see you if I do. If you don't mind. What do you usually do during the holidays?

I am glad you appreciated the picture. I wouldn't mind one of you if ever you had time to send me one.

Elijah