The Aristocrat

Collector of Fine Goods. [Zvi]

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

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The Aristocrat

Postby Lazybones on January 19th, 2012, 8:40 am

Winter 14th
511 AV

ImageThere was music, drifting lazily through the crisp evening air, echoing softly between the tall and slender Ravokian canals. It was distant and distorted, but Shannon Valdinox recognized the voice of plucked strings. The melody's rhythm was unusual, twisting and drawling like a question. It sounded foreign, Western perhaps. The aristocrat was none too familiar with the settlements outside of Sylira.

Eyes of grey sauntered along the faces of various shops as they drifted past, gilded in the blaze of sunset and set under a darkening, golden sky. The Docks were always wretched with crowds, especially now, when outsider tradesmen sought refuge within the lake from the harsh Winter weather lapping at the shorelines. Some ferries had come into dock stocked with cargo under a thick layer of snow; it was a quaint novelty in Ravok if Rhysol allowed it to snow at all. Shannon scoured the dozens of faces, looking for ones he remembered, and recognized a few names.

At some point, Shannon's day dream faded, and he remembered that his wife was still talking. Under halfway fallen lids, his cloudy gaze cautiously swiveled to meet her sapphire blue. She was seated across from him in the ravosala, a small, paper parasol folded between her lacy, gloved hands. Sadie was a lovely creature, her eyes alive with passion and her burning mahogany tresses flowing over her shoulders with a maddeningly adorable curl. Much of it was pinned back this evening, topped with a wide brimmed hat of emerald satin. Part of her so-called traveling attire, although they hadn't gone any further than the Southern Trading Post that afternoon.

"…and I told her not to wear it. Oh, but you know Liera, just like all the other Wickhams. Head in the clouds, that one in particular. She showed up in that very gown and everyone just…"

Shannon's gaze slid away. The music was still playing, somewhere. It was clearer now than it had been moments ago. Their dainty, elegant vessel cast an attractive reflection in the sparkling water. He and his wife were little more than dark shadows growing from the ravosala's long body. Only its operator, standing at the rear of the boat, looked remotely human as he steered it along the canal. It would be the better part of an hour before they arrived at the Noble District again.

Anchoring his elbow on the side of the vessel, Shannon planted his chin in his palm. He didn't realize he had dozed into a light sleep until his body pitched forward unexpectedly. He grunted and grabbed the side of the vessel in panic.

"My apologies," the ravosalaman offered softly.

Shannon scouted his surroundings with a rapid glance. "We're still in the Docks. Why are we stopping?"

Sadie was drawing an envelope from the mysterious confines of her layered dress. Shannon shifted his weight and corrected his posture as she collected herself. "I have an order to pick up here."

The aristocrat turned, that peculiar music now loud in his ear. A musician was seated in front of a shop along the canal, its large window filled with every variety of bric-a-brac and trinkets. Stenciled lettering was painted over the glass in silver paint, but Shannon paid little attention to the name. From the aged appearance of the shop's peeling siding and rusted door handle, he already knew he would have no reason to step inside it. It looked to be some sort of general store, but there were plenty of shops within the Noble district with plenty of fine selection.

At a second glance, the musician, he realized, was actually a slave. He was tall and human-looking, but for a set of curious horns curling from his temples. He was fair of face, but that made little difference. One glance at the black half-sun mark on his hand told Shannon all he needed to know.

"Why don't you send for it?" But Shannon was already stepping out of the ravosala. The vessel rocked as he relieved it of his weight, then turned to offer his hand to his wife.

She took it. "And trust one of your grubby little servants with my tigerskin handmuffs? They're verified Eyktolian fur. I'd sooner toss them in the canal." Sadie stepped from the ravosala easily, then quickly went about dusting off her gown as if the air itself in the Docks district was foul and dirty.

A dark, well groomed eyebrow arched in question. There weren't any tigers in Eyktol. "You ordered something like that from here?"

"My mother did."

"Your mother is a cheap hag."

Sadie sent Shannon a look that was pure venom. "Shut your mouth before I cut your tongue from your head, Shannon Valdinox. Don't think I won't."

He held up his arms in surrender with an arrogant smile. Sadie, unsoftened by his display, disappeared inside the shop a moment later. Now bored, Shannon sent a second glance to the horned musician. With nothing better to do than wait for his wife's meandering, he stepped up to the slave and poured his eyes over him, inspecting him for imperfections as one examines a fine bred horse. The slave was just a little too perfectly built to effectively mesh with his surroundings. He was a like a gold vein in a slab of slate.

One thumb thoughtfully brushed the tuft of facial hair under his lip. "What is that song you're playing? It's not Ravokian. Answer."
Last edited by Lazybones on January 22nd, 2012, 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Aristocrat

Postby Zvi on January 20th, 2012, 3:49 am

How long had he been here? The days had become an endless procession, sitting in this dinky, cheap store with sunlight on his face, filtered through the grime that coated the glass. But he took what he could get. He sang quietly now, words coming to him, though they had never passed his lips before. The tune, too, was new, plucked out with careful precision. It was a song of the sky. A song for Her.

His was not a soul made for enslavement. His body had been pure. Heavenly. He had been one of Syna's glorious throng. And now, he sat here, a distant, vacant reflection in a dirty window. He could be bought for an hour or so, with the right amount of coin. His changing body made him entertaining to Ravokians who were unfamiliar with his kind. They marveled in his celestial beauty during the day. The oddity of his horns. Some took great pleasure in grabbing hold of them, of jerking his head about and degrading him thus. Others found his wide, dark eyes under Leth's pale face enchanting.

It had been a blessedly quiet day, but his Master had not allowed him out for his walk, because Zvi had stumbled that morning and broken a vase. It was a poorly crafted object, on its way to the junk heap as it was, but the man wasn't eager to waste an opportunity to keep his slave at work a little while longer. Zvi pined for those precious moments outside, and the loss of even one day showed in his dusky eyes. Still, he supposed he was blessed. His usual punishment was to be locked in the cellar for a few days, but that didn't help bring in any coin, either, which was, in truth, what this was all about. And so, he sat here, on the cluttered window seat, and sang away the dying minutes of the day.

His fingers moved across the strings now, pressing tenderly to alter the voice the instrument made. His own joined it in the sweet, sad song, whispers of days before his fall, before he'd come tumbling from the heavens.

“My goddess sings in me,
My goddess sings through me,
Making my voice Her song.
When in the sky She sings and sways,
My voice shall echo Hers.

Syna! Goddess of the day!
Remember me, Your child!
Goddess, do You hear me pray?
Do You hear Your children crying?”


A loud clatter came from the counter, where his Master banged down an old, tin cup against the battered wood. “Dammit, boy, can't you sing somethin' happy? Why don't you try singin' about how much you want people to petch that pretty mouth of yours, eh? Maybe then someone'd wanna buy you off me!” He coughed and spit his tobacco into the spittoon, grumbling under his breath about worthless slaves not knowing when to shut their mouths.

Zvi had spread long, slender fingers across the strings to silence them a moment, his stomach turning at the man's words. But he could do nothing, and so he obeyed, though not to the extent that the shopkeeper might have wished. He sang now, his clear, fine tenor ringing through the air around him.

“I heard the call,
An echo in the night,
Her voice was pleading for me,
Begging me to stay.
But I slipped away.
The sea was calling me.
And no woman's arms could save me,
Save me from the sea.”


As he sang, he became aware of a man watching him, and he felt his stomach tightening in distress. He didn't want to be bought for the night. Or for any given amount of time. His skin crawled. Very slowly, he lifted his head, the question weighing in a sort of heavy expectation between them. Zvi steadied himself. The waning light caught on his face, and for a moment, he seemed to hold all of Syna's radiance.

He swallowed hard, and his brow pinched, though those dusky eyes never lifted above Shannon's chin. “'Tis not a song of any country, Sir,” he answered honestly. “Nor of any man.” He lowered his lyre to his lap, holding it there as one might hold a child. He held his breath, waiting for the man to ask the question he dreaded, waiting to have to tell him that within a few moments, he would appear perfectly human. He didn't want to look into the man's face, knowing that what he was—this rank he'd been cast into—would make such a gesture a vile insult.
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The Aristocrat

Postby Lazybones on January 20th, 2012, 4:44 am

The answer came as a riddle, or at least a truth so profound that Shannon was for the moment incapable of understanding. In fact, it sounded a little like arrogance, but he dismissed the notion for lack of interest.

Golden light shifted in his gray eyes as he reflected on the song's lyrics, his cold, academic stare still aimed on the slave's curiously perfect face. A crisp eyebrow lifted in what might have been incredulity; the aristocrat wasn't often envious of others, let alone a slave off the street. He had a powerful name and a handsome face, but next to this horned creature whose countenance looked positively radiant (discounting his obvious woe), he felt just a little embarrassed.

Shannon's weight found his other foot.

In fact, the slave's skin seemed to shine unnaturally, as if it had been patted in gold dust. He had seen that before. Save for the horns, he might have been part Eypharian. The eyes were the wrong shape and his jawline was too square. Perhaps an Eypharian bred with a goat.

Shannon's head erred to the side as Sadie's voice rose from within the shop. Her muffled complaint was shrill, something about pricing of exotic goods. She had been unwise to allow her nearly penniless mother conduct this business for her, though Shannon understood why she did. He could have easily purchased a genuine product for her and had it delivered a week sooner, but he was not her mother.

He leaned away from the slave, knotting his arms across his chest and resting against an unlit streetlamp. Heavy strands of black-brown hair fell to bar his eyes, effectively shading his tan face from the glare of the sun. Like any noble he looked cleaner than most, with a neatly cut hairline and a well shaven chin. The small, dark patch under his lip was a mark of class and style.

"Continue playing. You were never told to stop," Shannon said evenly, as if issuing more of a reminder than a command. His tone was deceitfully friendly, but the look in his eyes was still hard and authoritative. "What a waste. If this shop burned down, all who would mourn it would be starving moths and roaches. But you, you're genuine. A thoroughbred racehorse belonging to a pauper. Pretty to look at but useless for labor."

The slave would look better as a dancer at Yae Varone's studio.

"What is your purpose? Speak." Shannon did not turn to look back at him. In many cases it was not considered polite to hand orders to someone else's property, but he was a Valdinox. He would have liked to see someone stop him. "Please tell me you have more than one use."
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The Aristocrat

Postby Zvi on January 22nd, 2012, 6:21 am

When it came to conversation, Zvi fumbled admittedly. He didn't really have a clue of how to communicate with people here, especially when the humans put themselves on a much higher level. It was different when night came. He was different.

“My purpose is to...play this music. To entice customers for my Master,” he answered. “For a small fee, my body can be bought for an hour at a time.”

The light was fading, and as it faded, the slave's features became muddled, darkening. He frowned at the command, but he continued to play, though with each passing moment he changed. The smooth, pale skin was replaced by a lovely, chocolate shade. His silken hair elongated into dreadlocks, and his dusky, blue eyes became dark, nearly black.

He lifted his head now, and his voice was deep, marked by a Syliran accent. “Am I so genuine now, Sir?” He asked. Those wide, almost frightened eyes studied Shannon, venturing at last to lift higher than the man's chin. Still, he played, the gentle, tinkling music odd and foreign in the Ravokian streets. He bowed his head and hummed quietly. This form was more muscular than the first. Stronger. Still, his fingers moved with ease, knowing the strings of this instrument as he might know his own soul.

“Children crying, echoes in the night,
Birds are flying, slicing through the sky,
How I long to join them,
How I ache to fly.
Goddess, will you save me?
Spare me, for I die.”


His eyes were bright now, marked by tears, and he could not lift them to meet Shannon's.
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The Aristocrat

Postby Lazybones on January 23rd, 2012, 6:08 am

The lighted display illuminated the aristocrat's face, sending his shadow sprawling momentarily behind him. In another moment, the horned creature had gone. A much younger thing remained, boasting smooth dark skin and peculiar knotted hair. A trick of magic, perhaps? Or not; Shannon knew of Morphers. Their shapeshifting wasn't nearly so flashy.

So then what was he? Anything beyond human was often mystifying in Ravok—an excellent quality to be had in a slave. The more exotic, the better. The dreg could pass for human now, and in fact he looked perfectly normal. But moments ago he'd been inhumanly perfect, and those words he sang… perhaps they were not just empty prattling.

It was familiar. The shadows fell around them as the daylight ebbed in favor of the night. Shannon thought he'd heard about something like this before. A being of myth whose face changed with the sun and the moon.

Shannon's forehead creased as he observed a look of raw emotion in the slave. His eyes glazed over, as if he were studying a painting, not a person. Profound words washed over him as easily and unnoticed as an evening breeze.

"Well now," Shannon cooed, wrinkling an eyebrow as his head canted left. "Quite the curiosity. And just anyone can rent you?" Dull, silver eyes examined the boy's new form. He was shorter, somehow younger, but more solidly built. His posture had adjusted to accommodate his new size, and his voice had switched octaves. Remarkable. He appeared to be a completely different person. Yet the song he played was the same.

When the slave seemed to tense, Shannon rolled his eyes. "Oh please. I'm not one of those. Even if I was, I wouldn't buy my pleasures off the streets. Who knows what you could be infested with?"

The door to the shop opened, revealing an irate looking Sadie Karpath-Valdinox. Shannon glanced attentively to the side, appearing to forget Zvi altogether. His wife's icy blue eyes brimmed with some unnamed, carefully contained rage and her mouth was pressed into a tight line, but in her hands was her prize. Soft brown and deep black tigerskin clothed her hands; it didn't match her emerald satin attire at all.

"Sadie, my dear, you look ravishing."

"Stop it, Shannon. Take me home. I’m through with this wretched little sinkhole."

A delighted smirk lighted on Shannon's lips. "As you wish." The noble stepped back into the rocking ravosala, offering a hand to the lady and assisting her descent into the long vessel. The tall and slender ravosalaman in the back lifted his pole and began to push them away, but Shannon intercepted him. His hand flew out and grabbed for the pole, holding it still.

While the ravosala man stared at the noble in bewilderment, Shannon's gray eyes sought Zvi's, which didn't dare answer the call.

"Shannon?" Sadie's dark velvet voice was heated and impatient. "Can we leave? Are you on one of your whims again?"

He hesitated another moment, then released the pole and allowed the ravosalaman to do his job. Shannon sank down next to his wife, setting his arms in his lap. The boat began to sail on by. "Apologies, yes. Let's show that awful thing you're wearing to my cousins. They're sure to have an opinion."

At first Sadie responded with a shrewd glare, and then a smile grew. She drew her hands from the tigerskin muff and pinched at her eyebrows to puff them out. "Because if there's anyone who knows fashion, it's a half-Isur."

They laughed even as the boat turned a corner, and disappeared into the city.


Winter 16th
511 AV

It was high noon when Shannon returned two days later. The sun burned bright in the sky, wicking away the mild Winter chill that hovered tentatively over Rhysol's protected Ravok. It was a different ravosala, obviously privately owned, painted in a mix of deep reds and golds and carved with patterns of vines and blossoms. Its pilot was a woman in a widebrimmed hat, dressed in a long coat that obscured her rather stocky frame.

She stopped it in front of the old shop where Zvi had been stationed, though now he was gone from his spot in front of the window. The music continued, however, playing from inside the shop and muffled through a thick window of warped glass.

Shannon stepped swiftly from the vessel, today dressed in a deep gray vest with a high, ruffed collar. Quietly in tow was a diminutive, white-haired creature: a small framed woman with downcast eyes and pale skin. A pattern of blue-silver scales glittered across her forehead. She was too radiant to be human, even if one overlooked her delicately webbed fingers. She left the ravosala without difficulty, keeping pace several feet behind her tall master.

Only after the pair entered the shop did the Konti's eyes dare to venture outward. Shimmering violet searched inquisitively around the room, until lighting gently upon the graceful form of the Ethaefal slave. Her face brightened momentarily in recognition of his kind, then just as quickly her eyes averted themselves.

Shannon passed the shelves of sundries and trinkets without feigned interest, stepping immediately up to the counter. "Where is your master, boy?" he asked the slave without looking at him. "Does anyone run this festering pustule?"
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The Aristocrat

Postby Zvi on January 23rd, 2012, 6:44 am

This was beyond humiliating. Zvi could only tolerate so much, even from so lofty a stranger. His head bowed and he swallowed hard. His fingers crept along the cords, plucking and plying carefully. His jaw set. There was fierceness there. An intensity in those dark eyes that had not been there moments before, when Syna still held sway. This was not the same, docile creature. Not in his looks, at least.

“Given the right fee, yes,” he answered honestly. “But I am not some disease-riddled whore.” His lip curled in disgust. “My body purifies itself, regardless of what these monsters do to me.” There was venom in his voice, though it shook, a sort of bitterness that spoke of irreparable hurt. His heavenly pride stung, and he could not free himself from that.

Their conversation was cut short as the man's wife returned. Zvi bowed his head and went back to his music, playing his sad songs. The two spoke, the woman's shrill voice like daggers on the Ethaefal's ears. Still, he played on, and when they at last stepped into their ravosala, his voice—deep now, and smooth—carried on the wind behind them.

“I cannot give my heart away,
Though many times she's begged me.
I long and ache for better days,
And pray that peace will find me.
For who can love the broken heart?
Who can mend the soul?
For me there is no remedy,
For me there is no healing.

I cannot give my broken heart,
Though many times she's begged me.
For who can love a weary soul,
For which there is no mending?”


*

The strange man quite slipped from Zvi's mind over the next days. He had chores, after all, around the shop, and his music to play. He became lost in the jumble of his own life, doing what he could to keep smiling when he was allowed out into the sun. He sat near the window now, playing his music, though he did not sing. It was nearly time to be let out for his walk, and the eagerness told in the strain in his features.

The tiny bell tinkled to signify the arrival of clients, but Zvi did not lift his head. It was not until Shannon spoke to him and he recognized his voice that he looked up. His fine brows lifted, and his dusky eyes turned, momentarily, to the Konti slave. Then, demure and submissive, his attention drifted back to Shannon.

“Master is resting,” he answered. It was his polite way of saying that the man had a hangover. “I will fetch him for you, if you wish, Sir.” He set his instrument aside, slipping into the back room. There, his soft voice could be heard, followed by bestial grunts and grumbles. The man, his owner, snapped at him for waking him, to which a response of anxious apologies followed, only to be met by gruff scolding. The sharp crack of skin against skin echoed through the dingy shop, accompanied by a yelp, and a portly, scruffy fellow ambled to the counter, scratching blatantly at his rump. He was followed by Zvi, whose hand cupped his cheek and whose eyes remained glued to the floor.

“The boy says you was askin' for me? What can I do for you?”

The man leaned against the counter, eying the Konti with marked interest. His short, fat tongue drew across his upper lip in a gesture that might have been considered obscene before his gaze returned—shamelessly—to Shannon. This, however, lasted only a moment before he turned to deliver a kick to Zvi's rump, sending him sprawling and crashing into the nearest set of shelves.

“Back to work, little bitch,” he snapped. “You're not getting' yer damned walk today. Clean up that mess and march your sorry ass back to the window, or it's the cellar. Y'hear me?”

He offered a woe-begone sigh and once more offered Shannon his full attention.

“Pretty as they come but as dumb as a 2 copper whore.” He scratched his greasy cheek with blunt fingernails, and offered Shannon a toothy grin. “You here for a special order?”
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The Aristocrat

Postby Lazybones on January 26th, 2012, 7:40 am

"Really." The word was delivered past stiff lips by a jaw that barely moved. Clearly unconvinced, the noble dispatched a quick, colorless onceover to the shop owner's unimpressive rotundity. It was a disgrace to know this imbecilic, ass-scratching codger could lay to something as pristine as that beautiful horned creature. One doesn't waste a glass of fine wine by handing it to a beggar. The gods had been inordinately generous to the shopowner. "Afraid not. I've come to inquire about your little pet, actually. I hear you rent him by the hour. May we talk a moment?" He nodded toward a quieter portion of the store.

Perhaps a boat ride would substitute for his walk.

When Shannon turned, the Konti stiffened. She was a loyal servant, readying herself for his command. His empty gray eyes went across her as if she were a hound at the end of a leash, unaffected and unsympathetic. "Ares. Do as I instructed you while I speak with this gentlemen. Understood?"

She nodded. He gave her a flicker of a smile, then turned back to the shop owner. They wandered away, speaking rates, pricing, and allowances at a private volume. The metal end of Shannon's cane rapped rhythmically across the thick wooden floor, until he leaned on it quietly on the far side of the room.

The scaled woman turned toward Zvi, her short cropped, alabaster tresses cupped around her ears. She smiled, but it was as hollow as her crystalline, lavender eyes. She took several measured steps toward him, until she could kneel down to place a hand upon her shoulder, interrupting his work. A slender, delicate hand slid softly down his arm until her fingers worked their way into his palm.

"I am Ares." Her voice was like water, whispering against the boardwalk in the early morning; cold, soft, and gentle. Almost afraid. An accent twisted her vowels, presumably because Common was her second language. "Please, give me your hand. I am to divine your future from your palm." She clasped his hand in both of hers, and her eyes dipped low to study its creases. "You are a son of Syna. I am not permitted to honor her, but I am grateful to see her light each day."

Her eyes flitted upward. "I would like to know your name, for I fear he will never ask it."

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I am a friendly fascist. I am a tyrant that you should trust. And you should let me run your life, because I do know what is best for you.

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The Aristocrat

Postby Zvi on January 27th, 2012, 12:32 am

Trembling fingers set about placing cheap nicknacks back on their shelves. Each item in its particular place. The Ethaefal's dusky eyes were marked with evident despair. He cast a longing glance to the muted sunlight that filtered through the glass, aching to soak it up, to be nearer to his goddess.

Zvi limped to his little seat at the window. He pulled his lyre into his lap and began playing, though he did not sing. He kept his head bowed, plucking and stroking his fingers across the strings with a natural ease. The instrument was dear to him, despite where it had come from, and had become something of a valued companion. It made music, and was, therefore, alive to him. The lyre had a deep, smooth voice, one that spoke of ancient days and glories past. He did not have to speak the words for them to be present. The music told the story itself. He heard the initial discussion between the two men and his stomach tightened.

The stranger did only want him for sex, then.

The two men began to speak, and Zvi played on, cradling his lyre in his hands as tenderly as one might hold a precious lover. His shoulders had drooped, but he relished even the moments in the window, knowing this was as close as he would come to the sun today. It was better by far than being cast into the cellar. To know that just beyond the locked doors, when such was his punishment, lay light, was beyond bearing. It took all of his strength to endure that, worse even than the nights when selfish, rough men rented his body.

He was silent for a long while, though his dusky eyes grew hot with tears he did not dare shed. He could not stand his Master's mocking voice chiding him for his longing for the realms of heaven. He did not attempt to sing, knowing his voice would come off weak, trembling. When night came and Leth swept away the radiance of Syna, he would weep, but not until then. It would not do to cry now.

The touch surprised him, and his fingers stumbled, playing a false note. He looked in alarm towards the muffled voices of Shannon and his Master, and then back to the woman. His usually hazy gaze locked on hers, becoming suddenly and remarkably clear, like clouds parting before a summer sun. Her hands were gentle something he was not accustomed to in this strange city. His jaw tightened, and pain became evident in his eyes. He released his hand to her, and fought back a violent urge to shiver.

"No man asks for my name when he seeks to rule me with his body," he whispered. "I am Zvi, named for the stag in the stars." He sought out her eyes again, finding comfort in them. "Please, what are you?" Curious fingers touched a shimmering patch of scales upon her cheek. "I have not seen any like you." It suddenly struck him that this might be rude, and his brow creased. "I beg your forgiveness. I am not...adept at conversation. Most prefer I do not speak at all."
Last edited by Zvi on January 27th, 2012, 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Aristocrat

Postby Lazybones on January 27th, 2012, 2:21 am

Ares smiled patiently, having returned her attention to Zvi's callused palm. A quiet moment passed as she considered what the Ethaefal had asked, drawing a slender finger across a curving seam in his skin. "I am a slave, like you. So very far from home." The smile evaporated gradually as she studied his palm's creases. The black half-sun symbol burned into the back of her hand matched the same one carried by Zvi, though her own was unique in that her singed scales were more visible on her marred flesh. "In my language, 'ares' is a word for 'sky'. It—"

Her airy voice caught in her throat, and her entire body tensed. She was still staring into Zvi's palm, but now her eyebrows drew together and her lips parted in speechlessness. The expression faded seconds later as she composed herself, then she lowered Zvi's palm and placed it carefully back into his own lap. Ares sent a look over her shoulder, to see that the shopowner and Shannon were still speaking, then turned back to study the Ethaefal's instrument. It was not familiar to her.

"Do not fear my Master. He is not kind, but neither is he cruel." The Konti pushed herself back to her feet, her movements ever graceful and silent. She folded her hands politely at her front, barring the slave symbol that marked her for her caste. It almost looked as though she wore it with pride, but for the nervous way in which her top hand squeezed the other. This had been a behavior enforced upon her. "When he returns, he will he hear hoped to hear. I pray this will bode well for you."

Shannon's return was heralded by the casual rhythm of his tapping cane. The shopowner was retreating to a private room, carrying a jingling, burlap satchel. The noble once again passed by the shop's wares without so much as a curious glance. His stormy eyes, warmed with palpable annoyance, focused entirely on the sunlit windows until he returned to Ares. He leaned on his cane again, sliding his other hand into a pocket behind is overcoat. The cane itself was lacquered black, with a silver metal tip at one hand and a detailed falcon's head at the top. It was clear he didn't need it for walking.

"So?" Shannon asked the Konti, choosing to stare at her hairline than her eyes.

Ares lifted her chin, turning her lavender gaze to Shannon's ear. Understanding the wordless request, he leaned in. The slave's lips moved, but even being as close as Zvi was, they appeared to make no sound.

Shannon lifted both eyebrows, looking down at the horned man. "Very good." He leaned away from Ares, but his eyes remained on Zvi. "You're to come with me. You will not speak until spoken to. This is universal for all slaves, but so very many forget that simple rule. I hate disciplining animals. On your feet. Follow Ares." With the nod of his head, he indicated the Konti as if Zvi wouldn't have been able to intuit the name Shannon had already used before.

After Shannon started toward the door, Ares waited for Zvi to stand up. She would have offered him a hand, but she knew Shannon would chide her for it. It is folly to bequeath charity onto those who can help themselves, he would say.

The three of them upon the ravosala sat silently at first, with Shannon seated at the back near the driver, and his two slaves at the front where he could keep an eye on them. The Valdinox aristocrat breathed loudly, perturbed by the enduring sound of water against the vessel's belly and the ambient noises of the city around him. While it was beautiful to pass through the canals of Ravok, he had spent much of his life in this city and was well used to the artful designs and architecture, wrapped lovingly with spider vines.

"What sort of man has horns?" Shannon spoke finally, when evidently he could no longer bear the curiosity eating away at him. "Did your mother love a goat? She must have been beautiful, by the look of you."
I am a friendly fascist. I am a tyrant that you should trust. And you should let me run your life, because I do know what is best for you.

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The Aristocrat

Postby Zvi on January 27th, 2012, 3:13 am

He felt a stab of empathy for the woman. He knew very well what it meant to have been torn from home. He supposed he was luckier than some in that he at least got to see the echo of his home in the sky. Still, he ached for it beyond words. He listened to her speak without interrupting her. He would have much rather listened to someone talk, after all, than do it himself. Words were difficult, and his particular manner of articulation seemed to go beyond that which the average person might desire to hear or could comprehend. He glanced down to the matching mark on her hand, and his belly tightened in disgust.

The woman—Ares—tensed, and worry marked his features. He knew that a hand could be read like the stars. Still, he was ashamed of these hands, though they were hardly the hard hands of a labor slave. It was the mark that shamed him, like the wide scar across his belly. He followed her eyes to the two men, and his eyes grew clouded again, fearful. His Master terrified him. The man was below normal intelligence, as Zvi had observed, but he still held the slave's life in his hands.

His expression hardened as she spoke, and he shook his head. “I do not fear,” he answered quietly, “the man alone. I fear what he will do to me.” He tugged self-consciously at his tunic, and cast his eyes to the ground when she continued. He did not see how things could bode well for him if the man's intention was to breed him. He hoped he was not one of those men who tried to force him to say lewd things. Such things made his stomach churn and a foul taste fill his mouth.

Shannon returned then, but was not joined by his Master, who usually came to tell him how long he was to be rented and to give him a lecture on behavior. Not that Zvi was one to step out of line. He often had clients complain that he did not speak enough when they wanted conversation, or that he spent too much time in thought. They relished the pretty face and lean body but did not care for the distant melancholy in those blue eyes, or the way his soft lips turned down at the corners when they made use of their money. Now, Zvi stared at Shannon's cane and prayed it was simply for show.

The man spoke, and his heart seemed almost to freeze in dread. He waited, breathless.

The private conference was held, and Zvi held his lute close the entire while. He did not attempt to hear what was not his business, knowing that a nosy slave was a punished one. He had not been the only slave here when he was first purchased, after all.

He did not have to look up to know that Shannon's words were now directed at him. He kept silent, his chin tucked against his chest as he was given instruction. “Yes, Sir,” he answered quietly to signify that he heard and understood. He rose slowly, straightening his tunic, and carefully drew his lyre under his arm. He did not want to leave it, and though he had not been instructed to bring it, he did not think that this man would be terribly angry if he brought it. It was part of him, after all.

He followed with his head down, keeping his eyes trained on the heels of Ares' feet. It was easy to keep step, given the length of his limbs, and in truth, he felt a rush at being allowed out. His skin soaked in the warmth of the sun, radiant and glowing beneath Syna's gentle hand.

In the ravosala, his hands folded in his lap and he kept his eyes on his knees. His lyre was laid across his lap, and his fingers brushing tenderly across the wood. It was the one good thing that had come of Ravok, and he held to it with all of his heart. From time to time, he glanced down to the water, or out at the buildings. Usually, he walked about the city, generally to a small alcove he'd found during one of his outings. Few people came there, and he enjoyed the solitude he found there. He would not have that now, but at least, he considered, he was being allowed out.

The question caused his brows to raise, and he glanced towards Shannon's chin. He swallowed hard and shifted in discomfort. “I do not have a mother,” he answered quietly. “Not of this world, that is.” He glanced towards the sky, gesturing to the glorious sun. “She is my mother.”
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